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Current Topic: Current Events

Lose the BlackBerry? Yes He Can, Maybe
Topic: Current Events 3:26 pm EST, Nov 16, 2008

WASHINGTON — Sorry, Mr. President. Please surrender your BlackBerry.

Those are seven words President-elect Barack Obama is dreading but expecting to hear, friends and advisers say, when he takes office in 65 days.

For years, like legions of other professionals, Mr. Obama has been all but addicted to his BlackBerry. The device has rarely been far from his side — on most days, it was fastened to his belt — to provide a singular conduit to the outside world as the bubble around him grew tighter and tighter throughout his campaign.

Lose the BlackBerry? Yes He Can, Maybe

Time and Money Running Out for Pakistan
Topic: Current Events 8:15 pm EDT, Oct 26, 2008

You wouldn't want to be the President of Pakistan: Even as the military finds itself embroiled in a war against militants that much of the country's elected leadership (and even more of the electorate) opposes, it's hard even to keep the lights on as the limits of the country's electricity supply mean daily blackouts in major cities. The economy, meanwhile, is in a perilous state, with inflation running rampant, the currency having lost a third of its value, and foreign currency reserves reduced to the point that they can finance no more than six weeks of imports. Pakistan, in fact, is in danger of defaulting on its substantial foreign debt if it can't get help either from its friends or from the IMF — and the price of such help will be politically unpopular: a stepped up effort against the Taliban and, perhaps, some tough domestic economic reforms.

No wonder, then, that the forthcoming U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Pakistan reportedly makes "bleak" reading. The NIE represents the consensus of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, and according to a McClatchy newspapers report, an official familiar with the contents of the document that will brief the next President says it warns that Pakistan has "no money, no energy, no government". Washington's primary concern remains al-Qaeda, which John Kringen, the CIA's director for intelligence, recently described as being "resurgent" and "well-settled" in Pakistan's tribal areas. But the presence of Bin Laden's group is enabled by an indigenous militant insurgency — the Pakistan Taliban — and Pakistani leaders remain divided over how to respond to this challenge.

Time and Money Running Out for Pakistan

Security Firms Join the Pirate Fight
Topic: Current Events 8:12 pm EDT, Oct 26, 2008

(NAIROBI, Kenya) — Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms — some with a reputation for being quick on the trigger in Iraq — are joining the battle against pirates plaguing one of the world's most important shipping lanes off the coast of Somalia.
More Related

The growing interest among merchant fleets to hire their own firepower is encouraged by the U.S. Navy and represents a new and potential lucrative market for security firms scaling back operations in Iraq.

Security Firms Join the Pirate Fight

New US Strategy against Iran
Topic: Current Events 7:36 pm EST, Jan 19, 2008

By dropping the Iranian nuclear threat and shifting to the threat to the strait, Bush moves the Iran issue from being one involving the United States and Israel to being one that excludes Israel but involves every oil producer in the region. None of them wants this to happen, and all of them must take the threat seriously. If it can establish the threat, the United States goes from being an advocate against Iran to being the guarantor of very real Arab interests. And if the price Arabs must pay for the United States to keep the strait open is helping shut down the jihadist threat in Iraq, that is a small price indeed.

This puts Iran in a tough position. Prior to the issuance of the NIE, the Iranians had shifted some of their policies on Iraq. The decline in violence in Iraq is partly because of the surge, but it also is because Iran has cut back on some of the things it used to do, particularly supporting Shiite militias with weapons and money and urging them to attack Sunnis. It also is clear that the limits it had imposed on some of the Iraqi Shiite politicians in the latter’s dealings with their Sunni counterparts have shifted. The new law allowing Baath Party members to return to public life could not possibly have been passed without Iranian acquiescence.

New US Strategy against Iran

BBC NEWS | Middle East | New study says 151,000 Iraqi dead
Topic: Current Events 11:54 pm EST, Jan 13, 2008

One of the biggest surveys so far of Iraqis who have died violently since the US-led invasion of 2003 has put the figure at about 151,000.

This is about a quarter of the figure given in a disputed Lancet article, but nearly three times higher than that of the Iraq Body Count campaigning group.

The result is based on interviews with over 9,000 families across Iraq carried out by the health ministry for the WHO.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | New study says 151,000 Iraqi dead

'Iran threats' may have been work of a heckler - Telegraph
Topic: Current Events 11:28 pm EST, Jan 13, 2008

Threats to US ships in the Strait of Hormuz heard at the end of a Pentagon-released recording of an incident between Iranian patrol boats and US Navy warships last week may have been the work of a local heckler known as the "Filipino Monkey", The Navy Times has reported.

This has led several Navy experts to raise the possibility that a heckler, known locally as the "Filipino Monkey" - or a copycat - could have made the threats.

"Filipino Monkey" is believed to be more than one person. Its modus operandi is to listen in to ship-to-ship radio traffic before jumping in with insults and threats.

'Iran threats' may have been work of a heckler - Telegraph

George Bush to push $20bn Saudi arms deal - Telegraph
Topic: Current Events 11:24 pm EST, Jan 13, 2008

US president George W. Bush is to promise $20 billion in advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia as he travels through the Gulf states to garner support for further sanctions against Iran.

The weapons deal, which is to include precision-guided missiles, first surfaced last autumn but was postponed over opposition in the US Congress.

George Bush to push $20bn Saudi arms deal - Telegraph

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran nuclear answers 'in a month'
Topic: Current Events 7:49 pm EST, Jan 13, 2008

Iran has agreed to clarify all outstanding questions over its past nuclear activities within a month, the UN nuclear watchdog has announced.

The IAEA made the announcement after talks in Tehran held by the agency's head, Mohamed ElBaradei.

A senior official from Iran's atomic energy agency confirmed the agreement, saying Iran has nothing to hide.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran nuclear answers 'in a month'

80 Arrested Outside Supreme Court
Topic: Current Events 2:20 pm EST, Jan 13, 2008

(CBS/AP) Eighty people were arrested at the Supreme Court Friday in a protest calling for the shutdown of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Demonstrators wearing orange jump suits intended to simulate prison garb were arrested inside and outside the building. “Shut it down,” protesters chanted as others kneeled on the plaza in front of the court.

They were charged with violating an ordinance that prohibits demonstrations of any kind on court grounds. Those arrested inside the building also were charged under a provision that makes it a crime to give “a harangue or oration” in the Supreme Court building.

80 Arrested Outside Supreme Court

Scotland Yard believes Al-Qaeda assassinated Benazir Bhutto - Times Online
Topic: Current Events 2:17 pm EST, Jan 13, 2008

BRITISH officials have revealed that evidence amassed by Scotland Yard detectives points towards Al-Qaeda militants being responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Five experts in video evidence and forensic science have been in Pakistan for 10 days since President Pervez Musharraf took up an offer from Gordon Brown for British help in the investigation of the December 27 killing. Last week they were joined by three specialists in explosives.

Scotland Yard believes Al-Qaeda assassinated Benazir Bhutto - Times Online

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