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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Taiwan depicts HF-3 as a 'carrier killer'

By J Michael Cole

The Taiwanese military cast aside its usual timidity on 10 August and displayed a model of its Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) 'Brave Wind' anti-ship missile to a backdrop of a burning aircraft carrier that bore a striking resemblance to China's refitted ex-Soviet aircraft carrier (formerly Varyag ), which embarked on its maiden voyage earlier in the day.

The HF-3 exhibit at the Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), which opens on 11 August and runs until 14 August, was the highlight of the pre-show visit organised for reporters.

The HF-3, a ramjet-powered supersonic anti-ship missile, can be launched from land- and surface platforms, such as Taiwan's Perry-class frigates. The 130-km-range, single-warhead missile has been in development at the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) since 1995. It entered production around 2007 and is believed to have entered service the following year.

The CSIST is administered by the Ministry of National Defense's Armaments Bureau.

Asked to confirm how many missiles were currently in production or had been deployed with the Taiwanese navy, Chiang Wu-ing, deputy director of the Hsiung Feng programme at CSIST, declined to provide figures.

While the HF-3 has been on display at previous trade shows and national parades, this was the first time it was shown in a context that prominently identified its intended target. Although no flag or ensign could be seen on the computer-generated rendition of the carrier and accompanying fleet, its 'ski jump' ramp and general outlook bore an obvious resemblance to Varyag

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747-8 freighter approved

747-8 freighter approved

The Wichita Eagle

Boeing's 747-8 Freighter has received federal certification, paving the way for Boeing to deliver the first plane to Cargolux in early September.

The 747-8 is a stretched version of Boeing's 747-400, with a longer fuselage, redesigned wings and improved efficiencies. Boeing is building two versions of the 747-8 — a cargo version and an intercontinental passenger version.

It's the fourth generation of Boeing's widebody 747 and the largest.

The new freighter variant will give operators 16 percent more cargo room than the previous version, Boeing said.

Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita builds the nose section, nacelles and struts for the airplane.

The 747-8 Freighter has logged more than 3,400 hours of flight testing and many more hours of ground testing and component testing on the way to certification, the company said.

"Certification is the culmination of literally tens of thousands of hours of work," Todd Zarfos, vice president for engineering for the 747 program, said on a conference call Friday morning.

The plane has been delayed multiple times as Boeing struggled with a variety of challenges.

Boeing has taken 114 orders for the freighter and 56 orders for an intercontinental passenger version of the plane.

Boeing's market outlook forecasts demand for about 820 planes in the 400-plus-seat category over the next 20 years.

"We expect 250 of those to be freighters," Zarfos said.

Boeing plans to deliver between 25 and 30 747-8s and 787 Dreamliners this year, "slightly weighted to the 47," he said. Zarfos declined to specify how many of each plane the company expects to be delivered.

The Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency — Europe's FAA equivalent — granted Boeing Amended Type Certificates for the 747-8 Freighter, certifying the design is compliant with aviation regulatory requirements and will produce a safe and reliable airplane.

The FAA also granted Boeing an Amended Production Certificate, which validates Boeing's 747 production system can produce the airplane that will conform to the airplane's design. The EASA accepts the FAA's oversight in that area.

The 747-8 Freighter is 250 feet long, which is 18 feet longer than the 747-400 Freighter. It will have four additional main-deck pallets and three additional lower-hold pallets.

Flight testing is progressing for the 747-8 Intercontinental airplane, Zarfos said.

The first 747-8I is scheduled for delivery to an unidentified VIP customer later this year. Lufthansa is Boeing's first airline customer for the plane.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or

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Boeing 747-8 Freighter pulls off a one million pound takeoff

Boeing 747-8 Freighter saved the longest for last - certification testing complete

Monday, August 8, 2011

 China building electromagnetic pulse weapons for use against U.S. carriers

China's military is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons that Beijing plans to use against U.S. aircraft carriers in any future conflict over Taiwan, according to an intelligence report made public on Thursday.

Portions of a National Ground Intelligence Centerstudy on the lethal effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons revealed that the arms are part of China’s so-called “assassin’s mace” arsenal - weapons that allow a technologically inferior China to defeat U.S. military forces.

EMP weapons mimic the gamma-ray pulse caused by a nuclear blast that knocks out all electronics, including computers and automobiles, over wide areas. The phenomenon was discovered in 1962 after an aboveground nuclear test in the Pacific disabled electronics in Hawaii.

The declassified intelligence report, obtained by the private National Security Archive, provides details on China’s EMP weapons and plans for their use. Annual Pentagon reports on China's military in the past made only passing references to the arms.

“For use against Taiwan, China could detonate at a much lower altitude (30 to 40 kilometers) … to confine the EMP effects to Taiwan and its immediate vicinity and minimize damage to electronics on the mainland,” the report said.

The report, produced in 2005 and once labeled “secret,” stated that Chinese military writings have discussed building low-yield EMP warheads, but “it is not known whether [the Chinese] have actually done so.”

The report said that in addition to EMP weapons, “any low-yield strategic nuclear warhead (or tactical nuclear warheads) could be used with similar effects.”

“The DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile has been mentioned as a platform for the EMP attack against Taiwan,” the report said.

According to the report, China’s electronic weapons are part of what are called “trump card” or “assassin’s mace” weapons that “are based on new technology that has been developed in high secrecy.”

“Trump card would be applicable if the Chinese have developed new low-yield, possibly enhanced, EMP warheads, while assassin’s mace would apply if older warheads are employed,” the report said.

According to the report, China conducted EMP tests on mice, rats, rabbits, dogs and monkeys that produced eye, brain, bone marrow and other organ injuries. It stated that “it is clear the real purpose of the Chinese medical experiments is to learn the potential human effects of exposure to powerful EMP and [high-powered microwave] radiation.”

The tests did not appear designed for “anti-personnel [radio frequency] weapons” because of the limited amounts of radiation used.

However, the report said another explanation is that the Chinese tests may have been research “intended primarily for torturing prisoners,” or the tests may have been conducted to determine safety or shielding standards for military personnel or weapons.

The medical research also appeared useful for China's military in making sure that EMP weapons used against Taiwan and “any vulnerable U.S. [aircraft carrier] would not push the U.S. across the nuclear-response threshold,” the report said.

“China’s [high-altitude] EMP capability could be used in two different ways: as a surprise measure after China’s initial strike against Taiwan and other U.S. [aircraft carrier strike group] assets have moved into a vulnerable position, and as a bluff intended to dissuade the United States from defending Taiwan with a CVBG,” the Pentagon acronym for carrier strike groups.

The bluff scenario would include China’s announcement of a resumption of atmospheric nuclear testing and warn of tests during a specified period and then attacking Taiwan’s infrastructure with conventional forces.

China then would wait and see whether the U.S. carriers were deployed to defend Taiwan.

The report concluded that China could consider using EMP weapons against Taiwan’s electronic infrastructure or against U.S. carriers if a conflict breaks out in the Taiwan Strait.

“The minimization of military casualties on CVBG assets is calculated to lessen the likelihood of a U.S. nuclear response to a Taiwan strike employing nuclear EMP,” the report said. “The minimization of casualties on Taiwan is calculated to lessen the animosity among Taiwan’s population over forced reunification.”

Taiwan broke with mainland China after nationalist forces fled to the island when communists seized power in 1949.

The United States is bound by a 1979 law to prevent the forcible reunification of the island with the mainland, and China has said it is prepared to use force to claim the island.

Peter Pry, a former congressional aide who helped direct a commission on EMP several years ago, said the commission found that China plans for nuclear EMP strikes against the United States, as well as Taiwan and carrier forces, are part of its military doctrine and exercises.

“There is also evidence that China is developing, or has already developed, super-EMP nuclear weapons that generate extraordinarily powerful EMP fields, based partly on design information stolen from the United States,” Mr. Pry, president of the group EMPact America, said in an email.

Mark Stokes, a former Pentagon specialist on China's military, said the report’s details on high-powered microwave are new.

The same state-run institute, the China Academy of Engineering Physics, that makes China’s nuclear warheads is also a center of microwave weapons research, he said.

Microwave weapons would be used to shut down enemy radar, communications, computers and other electronics in an opening salvo. The weapons also could jam electronics of attacking aircraft and anti-radiation missiles, and as an anti-satellite weapon, degrade sensitive satellite electronic systems, he said.

Richard Fisher, a China military analyst, said EMP warheads are likely to be an option for China’s new DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile for the purpose of attacking large U.S. Navy ships without inflicting immediate massive casualties.

“Less is known about the longer-term effects on personnel of this kind of radiation attack,” said Mr. Fisher, who is with the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “The more powerful nuclear-propelled neutron bomb was designed specifically for killing personnel without a massive blast.”

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Chinese Missile Threat to U.S. Aircraft Carriers


China Electromagnetism Drill - July 16, 2011

Newt Gingrich Warns of Electromagnetic Pulse Attack

Electromagnetic Pulse Danger to America from Iran. North Korea launches missile

China Seeks UAV Capability

China was until the late 1990s content to follow Western unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developments and keep pace by copying or purchasing foreign technology. But when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched a modernization program in the late 1990s to prepare for possible conflict over Taiwan, development of unmanned systems became a priority. The result has been phenomenal growth in the UAV sector, which engages aircraft, helicopter, cruise missile and model aircraft companies, private concerns and university research centers.

At the third biennial Vanguard UAV exhibition in June 2010, 70 UAV-related companies displayed their wares, and at the November 2010 Zhuhai air show, 25 indigenous UAVs were shown. PLA ambitions for UAV development cover the gamut from micro to tactical to strategic, and could soon include stratospheric/near-space airships and hypersonic platforms.

Increasing utilization of UAVs is consistent with the PLA’s strategy/doctrine goal of “informatization”—the broad military exploitation of relevant information technologies. Chinese microelectronics companies have developed sophisticated “cockpit” control and monitoring stations and laptop programs for operating UAVs. Chinese optics companies supply systems for all sizes of UAVs. When completely lofted later this decade, China’s Compass navigation satellite network could enable global UAV operations. Industry sources make clear that UAVs and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) will be integral parts of the sensor-to-shooter continuum from the soldier to space.

The PLA is increasing its use of tactical UAVs at a moderate pace. Introduced in the early 1990s, PLA army units use multiple versions of the Xian ASN-206, a truck-launched UAV with range of 150 km (93 mi.) and 6-8 hr. of endurance. These are seen increasingly in exercises, for example, supporting long-range strikes by PHL03 300-mm multiple-launch rocket systems. Some versions use saucer-shaped communication link antennas.

Introduced in 2000, the Nanjing Research Institute on Simulation Technique’s comparable W-50, a nearly 100-kg (220-lb.) UAV with 4-6 hr. of endurance serves in some army units.

The hand-launched ASN-15, a 6.5-kg UAV, is also featured in small-unit army exercises. A version of the ASN-15 is carried by a variant of the Type-89 armored personnel carrier equipped with a command-and-control center.

Some small UAVs in service come from the model industry. For example, the Poly arms-trading consortium markets W-1, a 1.75-kg, 1-hr.-endurance, electric-powered, hand-launched UAV with laptop control, based on a radio-controlled Styrofoam model.

While the PLA has invested in a growing capacity to develop vertical-takeoff UAVs, the services have been slow to make wide use of them. During the 1990s, BUAA (now Beihang University) developed small vertical-takeoff UAVs with coaxial rotors for naval use, while Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics developed the Soar Bird series, with its 900-kg LE300 model being similar in size to the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout. A 320-kg LE300 version has been observed with an artillery unit.

The Chinese Helicopter Research and Development Institute, designer of the Z-10 attack helicopter, tested the 220-kg U-8E in 2006, a platform with 4 hr. of endurance, now marketed at air shows, though it is not clear if the PLA uses it. China’s radio-controlled-helicopter model makers have also produced slightly larger program-controlled vertical-takeoff UAVs for surveillance, following on the RMAX copied from Yamaha. Examples include the 120-kg, 1.5-hr.-endurance Servi-Helo. Several companies are making small quad-rotor vertical-takeoff UAVs popular with police. In 2010 the Whirlwind Scout was revealed, a ducted-fan vertical-takeoff model with 20-40 min. of endurance, similar in size and shape to the Class-1 UAV of the U.S. Army’s canceled Future Combat Systems program.

China is producing medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs, some with specialized weapons as UCAVs, though introduction into PLA service is proceeding at a moderate pace. Likely a product of the Chengdu and Guizhou aviation companies, the Predator-1 sized Pterodactyl-1, with 20 hr. endurance, was shown for the first time at the November 2010 Zhuhai air show armed with the Norinco BA-7 optically guided missile. In development since 2004 and able to transmit imagery to other combat platforms via a ground station, it is not known to be in PLA service.

First seen at the 2008 Zhuhai show, the slightly smaller CH-3, with 12-hr. endurance, uses a canard design copied from the U.S. Varieze home-built aircraft. It is armed with the FT-5 small satnav-guided bomb and AR-1 optically guided missile, similar in size to the BA-7. Wall displays at the 2008 Zhuhai show indicated that the CH-3 could support ground and maritime operations. While neither UCAV has been seen with a PLA unit, Pakistan selected the CH-3 for co-production and is testing a version of it.

Turbojet and turbofan UCAVs have also been developed by the PLA. For almost a decade sources in Taiwan pointed to the PLA air force’s growing UCAV-modified J-6 fighters, which number almost 300. These supersonic-capable UCAVs could deliver precision-guided missiles, forcing Taiwan, for one, to expend surface-to-air missiles in defense.

At the 2002 Zhuhai air show, the Guizhou-Chengdu combine was likely responsible for the WZ-2000, a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) turbofan UAV resembling Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk. In 2008, Luoyang Opto-Electronics Co. (LOEC) displayed a model of a high-altitude, medium-size UCAV similar to the WZ-2000, but armed with a version of its TY-90 helicopter air-to-air missile.

In 2010, Norinco displayed its BA-7 air-to-ground missile for the first time, based on its HJ-10 helicopter ground-attack missile. The Norinco display added credence to the existence of a faster delta-wing turbofan UCAV program that first came to notice in a 2005 issue of a Chinese military magazine. The UCAV was depicted with a missile like the BA-7, raising the possibility that one or both UCAV programs pre-date 2005. They could represent competitive programs or an attempt to develop complementary high- and low-altitude surveillance and attack platforms.

At the 2008 Zhuhai show, Shenyang Aircraft Co. showed Warrior Eagle, a forward-swept-wing subsonic turbofan UCAV that would operate in cooperative groups. Chinese officials, however, would not answer questions about this program and it did not reappear at the 2010 show.

The PLA is also pursuing strategic UAVs. So far, the main HALE surveillance UAV in service is the BKZ-05, first seen in video at the 2004 Zhuhai show. Powered by a reciprocating or turbine pusher engine, this twin-tail aircraft is similar in size to Israel Aerospace Industries’ Heron, and the unit that operates them outside Beijing is reportedly subordinate to the national strategic command general staff department of the central military commission.

Chengdu Aircraft Corp.’s Tianyi UAV, similar in configuration but about two-thirds the size of a Global Hawk, was seen tested in 2008. If adopted, this UAV might have sufficient range to cover Chinese-claimed territories in the East China and South China seas. It could also be a test program for the Long Haul Eagle, a UAV that is more comparable in size and configuration to the Global Hawk.

At the 2006 Zhuhai show, Guizhou revealed its Soar Dragon HALE concept, a 7,500-kg, box-wing configuration with a 650-kg payload and 7,000-km range, but there has been no confirmation of this program.

Also in 2006, Shenyang Aircraft Corp. caused a stir with its Dark Sword UCAV concept, originally described as being for unmanned air-to-air combat, a description not repeated in subsequent displays. The inclusion of another model in a special Chinese Aviation Museum display to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the PLA air force in 2009 renewed concern that this could be an ongoing program, if only to allow the air force’s emerging fifth-generation fighters to employ a complementary supersonic unmanned platform for offensive and defensive missions.

There is considerable interest in near-space or stratospheric UAVs that the U.S. believes could serve missions ranging from surveillance, energy weapons deployment or heavy troop transport. China Aerospace Corp. and university research centers are studying near-space platform concepts. Much of this research pertains to very-high-altitude airships that might initially focus on surveillance and communication relay missions, especially over the Pacific Ocean.

The PLA is investing heavily in research and development of hypersonic UAV/UCAVs for near-space and low-Earth-orbit missions. In 2007, Chinese sources revealed the Chengdu Shenlong, a small space plane that is about the same size as the Boeing X-37B small space plane. There are reports it may have had a sub-orbital test in 2010 or earlier.

There are also unconfirmed reports that Chengdu tested a hypersonic technology vehicle similar to NASA’s X-43A. Chinese military-directed academic engineering literature reflects broad interest in hypersonic research, focusing on engines, thermal protection materials, guidance and airframe-engine integration and design. One 2010 article by researchers at the Academy of Sciences Institute of Mechanics, proposed a Mach 3 platform that could be manned or unmanned. The U.S. Air Force envisions a similarly capable platform in service by 2030, but might the PLA’s fly first?

Fisher is a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center of Alexandria, Va.

By Richard D. Fisher, Jr.
Alexandria, Va.

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Chinese Reaper Predator UAV

Predator UAV hit by SAM

chinese new UAV china airshow 2008


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

After debt deal, economy in deeper peril

It's not over. Not by a long shot.

If the Senate Tuesday approves an 11th-hour budget deal to lift the debt ceiling, as expected, and head off a national default, forget those high-five photo ops and victorious press conferences. The spectacle of partisan bickering by a dysfunctional government will continue to weigh on consumers, investors and business for months to come.

That uncertainty will also further dampen economic growth — the most powerful remedy for the nation’s fiscal problems.

“This deal sets us up for acrimony and additional fights all the way until the elections,” said Charles Gabriel, a budget analyst at Capital Alpha Partners.

Story: Many questions linger over debt and deficit accord

After multiple failed attempts to agree on a package of spending cuts and increased borrowing authority, the House last night sent to the Senate a two-step plan. In exchange for $917 billion in spending cuts over 10 years, the debt ceiling would be lifted by $900 billion — not enough to fund the government through the 2012 elections.

Additional borrowing authority would require another $1.5 trillion in cuts worked out by a new congressional panel, which must agree to those cuts by late November. If the panel deadlocks or can’t come up with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts, the Treasury would only get $1.2 trillion in additional borrowing authority; the defense budget and payments to Medicare providers then would be automatically cut by that amount.

Story: Debt bill passes Senate, Obama signs it

And Congress has yet to authorize spending for the next fiscal year.

All these future deliberations provide multiple opportunities for a repeat of the brinkmanship and fractious debate over where and how deeply to cut government spending.

“The government is only funded through the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, so we've got that whole fight in coming back online,” said Jeff Kleintopp, chief market analyst at LPL Financial. “The $1.5 trillion in automatic (spending cuts) is going to be voted on two days before Christmas.“

Story: Debt deal puts off major changes to the future

And the debt ceiling deadline will loom once again if Congress fails to approve the recommendations of the special joint committee.

“Failing that (agreement), the president will only be able to extend the debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion early next year,” said Gabriel. “And that won’t even get you to the elections. So you could have these same headlines and histrionics just before the election.”

All that political posturing has not been good for the economy. Consumers, investors, and business owners and executives have watched in horror as their government used the threat of an unprecedented default as a political bargaining chip.

As long as that uncertainty continues to hang over the economy, confidence could continue to erode.

“Partly because the Congress and the president have been in the news and all the acrimony around it confidence, which was low, has fallen further,” said Blackrock chief equity strategist Robert Doll.

Little solace

The latest economic data offer little solace.

On Monday, a widely watched measure of manufacturing activity fell further than most analysts had expected to levels not seen since the end of the recession. Friday’s report showing the economy grew just 1.3 percent in the second quarter and a negligible 0.4 percent in the first quarter reinforced the notion that the recovery is tenuous.

Slower growth means a slowdown in corporate profits, which have propped up the stock market through the months of uncertainty over debt ceiling. Now, with spending cuts looming, and the economy closing, investors are reworking their profit estimates for coming quarters.

“How long can you produce GDP that's below 2 percent — below 1 in a recent quarter — and have earnings growth and revenue growth as good as it's been?” said Doll. “That can only last so long.”

Slower growth is also taking its toll on the job market. The latest employment data, due Friday, is expected to show that fewer than 100,000 new jobs were created in July. That’s less than what is needed just to keep up with the regular expansion of the work force.

High unemployment makes it even harder to close the budget deficit. States are already straining to cover the cost of unemployment insurance claims. Spending on Medicaid and food stamps, which are exempt from the budget deal, also typically rise as the jobless rate goes up.
“With a 9.2 percent unemployment rate, you’re not going to be able to make big dents in the deficit. It’s just not going be able to happen,” said Jason Trennert, chief investment strategist at Strategas Research Partners. “Transfer payments will be too large. Government will still be too large to make significant progress.”

As the budget talks ground on, there was little priority given to measures designed to revive economic growth. One of the major failures was the abandonment of the task of reforming the badly broken tax code. House Republicans adamantly opposed tax changes in the final deal.

"The president's bipartisan commission made some very, very sensible proposals, ways to try to eliminate some loopholes that would allow more revenue to come in, at the same time by reducing tax rates, reducing distortions and increasing growth," said Randall Krozner, a University of Chicago economist and former Fed governor. "So there's an opportunity here to actually get something really good on the tax code."

Tax changes?

The White House already is pressing for changes on the tax side of the ledger. On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters president Obama will continue to push for an extension of the payroll tax cut.

"He will make the argument that it is absolutely essential to continue to put extra money in Americans' pockets as they deal with high energy prices and high food prices next year," he said.

The proposed budget deal also does little to lift the cloud of uncertainty over the U.S. government’s top-notch AAA credit rating. Credit rating agencies have said they won’t act until any budget deal becomes law. But Standard and Poor’s warned in a report in March that without a “credible” deficit-reduction package of roughly $4 trillion over 10 years, the government’s rating would be subject to a downgrade. Even if the bipartisan committee agrees to targeted cuts, the total will fall short of $2.5 trillion.

“There's no ambiguity in that report,” said Barry Knapp, market strategist for Barclays Capital. “If we don't get to the $4 trillion number, they won’t (affirm the AAA rating.) It's written in such a way that they could still downgrade with a $4 trillion number."

Since credit raters Moodys’ and Fitch also warned of possible downgrades, economists and market analysts have debated just how much impact those downgrades would have. The worry is that investors would demand higher interest rates to buy U.S. Treasuries. But so far, rates have held steady.

“Even if they were to decide to make this call for a downgrade, I don't think it would have dramatic consequences,” said Krozner. “Because even though we would then have the same credit rating as Slovenia, I don't think market participants are going to treat Treasury securities as a perfect substitute for Slovenian securities."

Even if those rating downgrades don’t happen, investors get the last word on whether they are confident the United States can get its budget in order. Under the proposed budget deal, the ratio of debt to GDP is still growing. If the economy continues to slow, or heads back into recession, that ratio moves even higher.

“It's important to separate the current crisis about the debt ceiling limit with the real issue and the more important issue, and that is the balance sheet and the spending obligations of the U.S. government,” said investment manager Bernard McGinn. “At the end of the day what’s happening today will be forgotten a month from now. But what won’t be forgotten a month from now is the balance sheet and spending obligations of the U.S. government."

When will the US Economy Collapse?

Will Our Economy Trigger Violence?

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Debt bill passes Senate, Obama signs it

Image: ReidWASHINGTON — The U.S. avoided a feared and catastrophic default on the American debt, as lawmakers on Tuesday passed a measure that ties an agreement to raise the government's capacity to borrow to steep cuts in government spending.

The Senate passed the measure Tuesday, a day after it passed the House of Representatives, and President Barack Obama quickly signed it into law.

The emergency bill increases the nation's $14.3 trillion cap on borrowing, thus avoiding default just hours before the midnight deadline, and begins the process of curbing the country's spiraling debt.

Focus shifts from debt to campaign trail

The administration had said the government could not pay all its bills without the new borrowing authority, and it warned that default would severely damage the global economy and push the U.S. back into recession or worse. Even with the legislation now in place, there are fears that the last-minute sparring could shake rating agencies' confidence and harm the country's Triple-A credit rating.

Though the compromise deal passed, it deeply angered both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. Many Republicans contended the bill still would cut too little from federal spending; many Democrats said much too much.

Story: After debt deal, economy in deeper peril

A deeply frustrated President Barack Obama, while praising Congress for finally passing the compromise bill, demanded legislators immediately turn their attention to fixing the economy and creating jobs.

"We've got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put America back to work," he said, shortly after the Senate voted 74-26 to pass the measure.

He also said he was not giving up on his insistence that Congress allow taxes to be raised on big corporations, through an end to loopholes, and the richest Americans once both houses return from their summer recess in early September. The measure that now becomes law relies wholly on cutting spending as a tool for lowering the American deficit.

"We can't balance the budget on the backs of the people who've borne the brunt of this recession," the president said.

After weeks of some of the nastiest political battles in recent U.S. history, both the Senate and House easily adopted the plan. In tandem, legislators approved more than $2 trillion of budget cuts over the upcoming decade.

Because the deal prescribes significant cuts to U.S. federal spending, it was widely expected to buoy global investors and diminish chances of Treasury bonds undergoing a credit downgrade. That would increase the cost of borrowing both for the government and consumers.

But as the measure cleared its last legislative hurdle, world markets were down, the U.S. Dow Jones Industrials off for an eighth straight day.

Story: Many questions linger over debt and deficit accord

"Neither side got all it wanted, each side laments what it didn't get," Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid said.

"Today we made sure America can pay its bills. Now it's time to make sure all Americans can pay theirs," said Reid, foreshadowing Democrats plans to shift their attention to creating jobs. U.S. unemployment remains above 9 percent.

Investors were unnerved by spreading debt troubles in Europe and a decline in U.S. consumer spending to the lowest level in two years. The bad news signaled a further slowing of the fragile U.S. economic recovery and snuffed out optimism over the hard-fought vote in Congress.

Polls showed that Congress and Obama have taken a sharp hit in U.S. public opinion because of the prolonged battle over lifting the debt ceiling, something that past Congresses have done as a matter of course.

Story: Cost of FAA shutdown could exceed $1 billion

Without legislation in place by the end of Tuesday, the Treasury would run out of cash needed to pay investors in Treasury bonds, recipients of Social Security pension checks, anyone relying on military veterans' benefits and businesses that do work for the government.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told ABC News Monday that he doesn't know if the bruising debt-limit battle will harm America's Triple-A credit rating, but says he fears "world confidence was damaged by this spectacle."

First Read: CBO scores deficit reduction plan

Geithner told ABC that credit rating is "not my judgment to make." But he also says "this is, in some ways, a judgment on the capacity of Congress to act."

Obama Delivers A Statement
What is the deficit sper committe?

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Monday, August 1, 2011

PayPal sent FBI list that led to Anonymous raids

By Athima Chansanchai

In cooperation with the FBI, PayPal sent them a list of about 1,000 IP addresses that carried malicious code during Anonymous' attacks on it last year, which helped agents target specific people in recent raids that led to 16 arrests.

An affidavit filed by Special Agent Chris Thompson reveals that PayPal worked closely with the feds to nail down those responsible for the attacks on it, from the time the attacks started to about a week later, when PayPal found warnings about the FBI sweeps circulating amongst participants in the attacks.

As early as December, FBI agents had been in contact with Dave Weisman, PayPal's senior manager of its Electronic Crimes and Threat Intelligence Unit. They shared a conference call two days after PayPal was hit with a distributed denial of service (DDos) attack in retaliation for suspending donations to WikiLeaks through its PayPal account. PayPal reported several attacks to the FBI that occurred between Dec. 6 and 10.

On Dec.15, PayPal provided agents with a thumb drive that contained "logs and report detailing information regarding approximately 1,000 IP addresses that sent malicious network packets to PayPal during the DDoS attacks."

The 1,000 IP addresses were derived from logs created by a PayPal-owned Radware device that records the attackers' IP addresses and the malicious signature it's programmed to recognize. According to the affidavit, a senior security engineer at eBay identified the specific set of strings being used in the attacks, and found only half a dozen variations, leading investigators to be able to pinpoint the patterns of the infiltration.

The IP addresses captured by PayPal were able to be linked to specific premises through subpoenas served upon AT&T and other Internet Service Providers. One of the 1,000 IP addresses given to the FBI by PayPal sent more than 3,600 "malicious network packets" to PayPal between Dec. 8 and 9. A federal grand jury subpoena was served on AT&T on Jan. 6, which AT&T complied with a response on Jan. 18, which led to Valori S. Reid and Peter B. Reid, and their 19-year-old son Ethan, in Arlington, Texas.

The Reids weren't arrested, but their home was the site of one of 35 search warrants executed by the FBI in relation to the Anonymous investigation.
NBC reported: "Agents arrived at the house at about 6 a.m., and a neighbor said they stayed for three hours. They seized two laptops, two desktop computers, an external hard drive, several thumb drives, an iPod Touch and at least one cellphone."

The Department of Justice press release on the raids and arrests that took place in 11 states exposed the extent of the federal web that was dropped over the alleged hacktivists who were part of "Operation Avenge Assange." The release said, "The defendants are charged with various counts of conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer."

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Cheers to screams as jet from NY crashes in Guyana

GEORGETOWN, Guyana— Flight 523 from New York had just touched down and passengers were applauding the pilot's landing in the South American country Saturday when something suddenly went wrong.

The Boeing 737-800 slid off the end of a rainy runway, crashed through a chain-link fence and broke in half just short of a deep ravine. Yet all 163 people on board survived.

Officials were starting to probe the cause of the crash even as they marveled at the lack of fatalities.

"We must be the luckiest country and luckiest set of people in the world to escape so lightly," said Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy, who said more than 30 people were taken to the hospital. Only three of those had to be admitted for a broken leg, bumps, cuts and bruises.

The Caribbean Airlines plane had left John F. Kennedy International Airport Friday evening and made a stop in Trinidad before landing in Guyana. The airline said it was carrying 157 passengers and six crew members.

Geeta Ramsingh, 41, of Philadelphia, recalled how applause at the arrival quickly "turned to screams."

"The plane sped up as if attempting to take off again. It is then that I smelled gas in the cabin and people started to shout and holler," she said.

When the plane crumpled to a stop, Ramsingh said she hopped onto the wing and then onto the dirt road outside the runway fence.

"A fellow who was trying to escape as well mistakenly jumped on my back and that is why my knees are bruised," she said. "So I am in pain, but very thankful to be alive."

Nobody had yet showed up to rescue her, "but a taxi driver appeared from nowhere and charged me $20 to take me to the terminal. I had to pay, but in times of emergencies, you don't charge people for a ride," she said, sitting on a chair in the arrival area surrounded by relatives. She was returning to her native country for only the second time in 30 years.

Adis Cambridge, 42, of Guyana, said she felt the thump of a hard landing but did not think much of it until seconds later.

"I realized that everything was on top of me, people and bags. I was the second to last person to get off that plane in the dark," she said, surrounded by her two young children who had come to the airport to meet her after a brief holiday in the U.S.

"I hit my head on the roof. It was so scary," she said, and described jumping from the wing to the dirt road below as crews with flashlights and beams from fire engines searched for passengers.

"I thought I would have died. I just started to cry," she said.

The plane came to rest off the end of the 7,400-foot (2,200-meter) runway at Cheddi Jagan International Airport, which sits on a ridge in forested region just south of the oceanfront capital of nearly 300,000 people.

Authorities struggled at first to remove passengers without adequate field lights and other emergency equipment.

The plane stopped a little short of a 200-foot (60-meter) ravine that could have resulted in dozens of fatalities, said President Bharrat Jagdeo.

"We are very, very grateful that more people were not injured," said Jagdeo, who came to the crash site before dawn.

George Nicholas, Caribbean Airlines chairman, told reporters that officials with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board are scheduled to arrive Sunday in Guyana to take over the investigation. He said investigators from Guyana and Trinidad, the airline's base, will help.

He said the airline is arranging for counselors to meet with passengers.

Authorities temporarily closed the Guyana airport, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded and delaying dozens of flights. The main terminal reopened late Saturday morning to only a couple of small planes, including a LIAT airline bound for Barbados, said Orin Walton, a local representative for the Antigua-based carrier.

The crash of Flight 523 is the worst in recent history in Guyana, and only one of the few serious incidents involving the Trinidad-based airline. It is the single largest carrier in the region, operating at least five daily flights.

Cheers to screams as jet from NY crashes

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

US cutting military aid to Pakistan

Ever since the US military action that led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden and which was done without the knowledge of the country of Pakistan in that country relations between the USA and Pakistan are more than strained.

The United States have accused the Pakistani secret service to have been in the know as to where Bin Laden was hiding and, in fact, protecting him. This may not be all that far fetched for it is somewhat unbelievable that he was living so plainly in Pakistan without the knowledge of someone high up in the Secret Intelligence Service of Pakistan.

In addition to that Pakistan recently threw out US military and is, as far as the USA are concerned, a little on the recalcitrant side at present.

If this act of cutting military aid, though most likely very much welcomed by the ordinary American, could make relations between the USA and Pakistan worse what then? Take out Pakistan?

This may not be all that far fetched, dear readers.

The way some American officials seems to be talking that is exactly what they consider to do. The Af-Pak war and an occupation of Pakistan would have Iran fully in a pincer. Is that the aim? It would appear so.

We must note that the Afghan conflict became, in the last year or so, the Af-Pak war, or conflict. However, since when is there anything happening in Pakistan, other than the Taliban having bases there and the US attacking them, illegally, with drones.

However, and I am sticking my neck out here somewhat and playing the devil's advocate and some might say that I have been reading too many wrong books.

Looking at the area of the former Ariania – of which Iran retains part of the name – then the only thing needed in order to get Iran (Persia) into a pincer proper, as we already have the -stans above, is full and unhindered access and operational permission in Pakistan, especially in the province(s) that border Iran.

If that can be achieved then Iran is surrounded by American and “allied” forces and can then put pressure on Iran to change its political structure so as for the US and others to get their hands on the oil.

And oil is the only reason any and all of those “wars” are being fought, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan – bugger “Enduring Freedom” and human rights, etc. – and latest Libya. If it would really be the rights of the people we would be interested in, our governments that is, then we would be in Syria right now and would have been in Rhodesia a long time ago.

Far from bringing any enduring freedom to Afghanistan, or to Iraq, or to Libya, the aim is to “liberate” the oil supplies of Iraq, Libya, and via a pincer attack from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the -stans of the former USSR, Iran.

That black sticky stuff makes people do awful things and often under the guise of humanitarian action.

U.S. Cuts Military Aid

U.S. Suspends Military Aid

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House rejects Senate Democratic debt bill

WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House on Saturday rejected a Senate Democratic bill to raise the nation's debt limit just three days before the deadline to avert an unprecedented U.S. financial default. President Barack Obama and lawmakers remained at loggerheads on any possible compromise.

With tensions high at a rare weekend session, the legislation failed on a 246-173 vote that was largely symbolic. The Senate has yet to vote on the bill.

Saturday's result, however, could pave the way for negotiations on a compromise with Tuesday's deadline on the government's ability to pay its bills fast approaching.

Shortly after the House vote, Obama stepped back into the debt-ceiling talks, calling Congress' top two Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to the White House for a meeting Saturday afternoon.

"We now have a a level of seriousness with the right people at the table,'' Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said at a news conference, where he was joined by House Speaker John Boehner.

Obama, in his weekly radio and Internet address, warned that "there is very little time" and pleaded with both Republicans and Democrats to stop political gamesmanship.

"The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now," Obama said.

Earlier in the week, after a speech from the Diplomatic Room at the White House urging compromise, Obama reiterated his call to action on Twitter: "The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email.Tweet. --BO".

Pelosi, for her part, told the House on Saturday it was "time to end this theater of the absurd. It's time for us to get real."

Resolution remained elusive. Some 43 Senate Republicans said they opposed the Democratic bill by Reid. His alternative measure would raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion while cutting spending by $2.2 trillion.

In a letter to Reid, they wrote that the bill "fails to address our current fiscal imbalance and lacks any serious effort to ensure that any subsequent spending cuts are enacted." The 43 are enough to block passage of Reid's bill.

Setting the stage for the high-stakes weekend, Senate Democrats late Friday killed a House-passed debt-limit increase and budget-cutting bill less than two hours after it squeaked through the House. Reid set up a test vote for the wee hours of Sunday morning to break a GOP filibuster on his own legislation.

Saturday's debate in the House was heated and sometimes nasty, with occasional efforts to shout down speakers. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., railed against the "pernicious nonsense" from Republican Rep. David Dreier of California.

Freshman Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., said, "This Harry Reid plan offers no real solutions to the out-of-control spending problems."

Countered Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.: "The clock is ticking and Republicans are continuing to play political games."

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., read a statement that then-Sen. Barack Obama had delivered years ago against raising the debt limit.

House Democrats said they would put aside their resistance to legislation that makes deep spending cuts and back the measure in a show of strength that could improve Reid's leverage in negotiations.

"There are some misgivings, but it's the only game in town," said Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., as he emerged from an hour-long closed door meeting.

Democrats, Republicans and the White House, meanwhile, were expected to be deep in conversation in hopes of a potential compromise. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was likely to play a pivotal role.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., told MSNBC's "The Last Word" that McConnell had said he will not negotiate with Reid, just with President Barack Obama.

The outcome of the weekend endgame was anything but clear as Democrats and Republicans remained at odds over how to force lawmakers to come up with additional budget savings later this year beyond the almost $1 trillion in agency budget cuts over the coming decade that they basically agree on.

At the start of the Senate's session Saturday, Reid appealed to Republicans to work with him on his proposal, particularly McConnell.

"We're willing to listen to Republican ideas to make this proposal better, but time is running short," Reid said.

First Read: Democrats in retreat?
McConnell said the Reid plan wasn't "going anywhere. Senate Republicans refuse to go along with this transparently political and deeply irresponsible ploy to give the president cover to make our debt crisis even worse than it already is."

After a brutal week on Wall Street — investors lost hundreds of billions of dollars as the markets lost ground every day — pressure is intense to produce an accord before the Asian markets open on Sunday afternoon.

Story: Global concern over US debt ceiling disagreement

The House measure squeaked through on a 218-210 vote, with 22 Republicans joining united Democrats in opposing the GOP measure, which pairs an immediate $900 billion increase in U.S. borrowing authority along with $917 billion in spending cuts spread over the coming decade.

Friday's roll call came after Boehner had been forced to call off a vote slated for Thursday in the face of tea party opposition to the measure. He added a provision requiring that a second, up to $1.6 trillion debt increase be conditioned on House and Senate passage of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, which would require an unrealistic two-thirds vote by each chamber to send it to the states for ratification.

Boehner's move only cemented Democratic opposition to the measure and complicated prospects for a weekend compromise that could clear both houses and win Obama's signature by next Tuesday's deadline. And by appeasing the tea party by adding the balanced-budget amendment poison pill, Boehner seemed to hand endgame leverage to Reid and Obama.

Boehner said the House bill — before the addition of the balanced-budget amendment — mirrored an agreement worked out with Reid last weekend.

Story: Benefit recipient? Disruptions may be coming

Still, as soon as the measure reached the Senate side of the Capitol, Senate Democrats scuttled it. The vote was 59-41, with all Democrats, two independents and six Republicans joining in opposition.

Reid's alternative measure would raise the debt limit by up to $2.4 trillion, enough to meet a demand by Obama that the increase be sufficient so that Congress doesn't have to wrestle with it again until 2013.

Administration officials say that without legislation in place by the end of Tuesday, the Treasury will no longer be able to pay all its bills. The result could inflict significant damage on the economy, they add, causing interest rates to rise and financial markets to sink.

Executives from the country's biggest banks met with U.S. Treasury officials to discuss how debt auctions will be handled if Congress fails to raise the borrowing limit before Tuesday's deadline.
Boehner: Obama needs to pull U.S. from financial 'cul-de-sac'

Pelosi: House GOP debt stance 'perfectly absurd'

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