Monday, May 31, 2010

Israel Positions Nuclear Subs Near Iranian Coast

Three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline.

The first has been sent in response to Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, a political and military organisation in Lebanon, could hit sites in Israel, including air bases and missile launchers.

The submarines of Flotilla 7 — Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan — have visited the Gulf before. But the decision has now been taken to ensure a permanent presence of at least one of the vessels.

The flotilla’s commander, identified only as “Colonel O”, told an Israeli newspaper: “We are an underwater assault force. We’re operating deep and far, very far, from our borders.”

Each of the submarines has a crew of 35 to 50, commanded by a colonel capable of launching a nuclear cruise missile.

The vessels can remain at sea for about 50 days and stay submerged up to 1,150ft below the surface for at least a week. Some of the cruise missiles are equipped with the most advanced nuclear warheads in the Israeli arsenal.

The deployment is designed to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents. “We’re a solid base for collecting sensitive information, as we can stay for a long time in one place,” said a flotilla officer.

The submarines could be used if Iran continues its programme to produce a nuclear bomb. “The 1,500km range of the submarines’ cruise missiles can reach any target in Iran,” said a navy officer.

Apparently responding to the Israeli activity, an Iranian admiral said: “Anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the Persian Gulf will receive a forceful response from us.”

Israel’s urgent need to deter the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance was demonstrated last month. Ehud Barak, the defence minister, was said to have shown President Barack Obama classified satellite images of a convoy of ballistic missiles leaving Syria on the way to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, will emphasise the danger to Obama in Washington this week.

Tel Aviv, Israel’s business and defence centre, remains the most threatened city in the world, said one expert. “There are more missiles per square foot targeting Tel Aviv than any other city,” he said

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thanks Atlantis -

The ;last launch of Atlantis - like you have never seen it before:

South Korea Lying. North Says ...

CNN) -- A North Korean official has questioned South Korea's credibility for its rhetoric and actions over the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, state-run media in North Korea reported Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Pak Rim Su lashed out against the South for saying the North Koreans sank the Cheonan warship, a claim fiercely denied by his communist government. He said the evidence produced by South Korea to make its claim has been fabricated.

He said South Korea has aggravated what has become a grave situation, and he warned that any accidental confrontation between the countries would result in war, according to an article in the state-run Korean Central News Agency. He cited North Korea's "nuclear deterrent" to deal with such situations.

Pak spoke at a rare press conference from the country on Friday. He addressed Korean and foreign reporters and representatives of military attaches at foreign embassies and international organizations, the North Korean news agency reported.
Video: Clinton: Ship attack 'unacceptable' Video: China-South Korea talks over sunken ship

China, Japan and South Korea plan to discuss the warship's sinking this weekend. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has that his country will not defend whoever is responsible for sinking the South Korean warship. He also said that China is not ready to accept South Korea's conclusion that the North is to blame.

South Korea says a North Korean mini-sub fired torpedoes at the Cheonan South Korean Navy ship, killing 46 people. Pak says South Korea cooked up the claim, and he called their investigations a farce.

He said that the involvement of the United States shows that the probe couldn't be objective.

Pak said people who disagreed with the investigators' assertions were expelled from the investigation team. He said the changes in investigation results as the case moved forward cast suspicion on the review, according to the state-run news agency's account.

For example, the North Koreans say, the warship captain said at first there wasn't outside provocation but later said there was. And they say the military said at first there were no grounds to say it was an attack by the North but later changed that viewpoint.

The North Koreans say the South is attempting to undermine efforts to promote reconciliation and North Korea's progress. They argue that the claim has served to rally conservative forces in South Korea and help them politically in upcoming elections.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Interceptors Club now on Smashwords!

Dear friends and family,

My book, The Interceptors Club and the Secret of the Black Manta, was published today as a multi-format ebook at Smashwords. I hope you'll take time to check it out at Smashwords, where you can sample the first 20% of the book for free.

Smashwords is the first step to getting my book published for the new Apple I-Pad and if it takes off - hopefully into print.

Here's the link to my Smashwords author profile:
Here's the link to my book page, where you can sample or purchase the book:

Here is the site I created that will tell you much more about my book:

Please help me spread the word. Won't you take a moment to forward this email to everyone you know, and ask them to do the same?

Thank you for your support!

Steve Douglass

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Terrorist may be trying to enter U.S. through Texas.

HOUSTON -- A Somali diplomat said Thursday he’s concerned a member of a terrorist group from his country may be trying to get to Texas through Mexico but fears oppressed Somalis in Latin America trying to gain asylum in the U.S. will get caught up in a terror alert issued by American authorities.

U.S. Homeland Security has asked law enforcement in Houston to be on the lookout for a suspected member of the al-Shabaab group, an al-Qaida ally based in Somalia.
Omar Jamal, first secretary of the Somali mission at the United Nations, said his nation "is in a constant battle with al-Shabaab" and urged American authorities "to be careful who is bad and good in this new alarm."

The impoverished Horn of Africa nation is caught up in an Islamic insurgency and has not had a functioning government since 1991. It also is home to pirates who have been seizing vessels for ransom in the Indian Ocean.
Jamal said his UN mission for months has been fielding inquiries from Somalis who believe missing loved ones throughout Central and South America are trying to flee to the United States.
"We don’t want them to get caught in the middle of this war on terror," he said.
He encouraged law enforcement authorities to pursue leads "if they have a lead."
"But they also need to be very careful and vigilant of those who are really innocent," he said.
Harris County Sheriff’s Department officials have confirmed the terror alert but refused to discuss specifics. A Houston Police Department spokesman said the department doesn’t publicly discuss such matters. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said they don’t discuss specific intelligence matters.
Jamal said he learned of the alert earlier this week.

"They’re trying to be extra cautious, but we didn’t think it was that much of a situation," he said. "We’ve been working with them on this issue for a very long time.
"It’s not the first time."

Raqiya Abdalla of the Fairfax, Va.-based Somali Family Care Network said her advocacy group has no official estimate of the number of Somalis in the U.S., but said a fair estimate would be 200,000.
The alert issued last week came after federal prosecutors added new charges earlier this month against a 24-year-old Somali man, Ahmed Muhammed Dhakane, who had been picked up in Brownsville in 2008.

He pleaded not guilty May 14 in federal court in San Antonio to three counts of immigration fraud.
Without elaborating, authorities in Harris County, which includes Houston, have confirmed a connection between Dhakane’s case and the Homeland Security alert.

Dhakane is accused of making false statements under oath in support of his application for asylum.
According to his indictment, Dhakane failed to disclose that he was a member or associate of the al-Barakat financial transfer network and Al-Ittihad al-Islami, or the Islamic Union, which wants to impose Islamic law in Somalia. Both are on the Treasury Department’s list of global terrorist groups with links to al-Qaida, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges that Dhakane lied about his movements before entering the United States in March 2008. It says he "participated in and later ran a large-scale smuggling enterprise out of Brazil" that smuggled hundreds of people, mostly East Africans, into the United States. Among those smuggled, according to the indictment, were several Somalis affiliated with Al-Ittihad al-Islami.

The indictment also alleges he lied when he told officials that a young girl was his wife, when she actually "was a smuggling client" of his whom he had never married and had "repeatedly raped and impregnated prior to coming to the United States." He threatened to have the girl murdered if U.S. officials learned of the rapes or that he was not her husband, according to the indictment

NK: "confrontation with confrontation" and war with "all-out war,"

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea reacted to a South Korean anti-submarine exercise early Thursday by saying it would meet "confrontation with confrontation" and war with "all-out war," according to North Korean state-run media.

"Now that the puppet group challenged the DPRK [North Korea] formally and blatantly, the DPRK will react to confrontation with confrontation, and to a war with an all-out war," according the KCNA news agency.

The news agency referred to South Korean leaders as a "group of traitors" and said they would experience "unheard of disastrous consequences" if they misunderstand North Korea's will.
The response comes amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula, after Seoul blamed Pyongyang for the sinking in March of a South Korean warship. An official South Korean report has accused the communist North of firing a torpedo at the ship, killing 46 sailors.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visiting Seoul on Wednesday, called the sinking "an unacceptable provocation by North Korea" and said the international community should respond.
Video: Clinton: Ship attack 'unacceptable'

Also Thursday, the general staff of North Korea's military -- the Korean People's Army, or KPA -- said it was enacting new measures to deal with any "all-out confrontation."
The steps would "retract all measures for providing military guarantees for the North-South cooperation and exchange, and the promise of a physical strike.

"The KPA will make a prompt physical strike at the intrusion into the extension of the Military Demarcation Line under our side's control in the West Sea of Korea," the army said, according to the KCNA news agency.

Today's excerpt from The Interceptors Club and the Secret of the Black Manta

On October 6, 2006 North Korea successfully tested their first nuclear weapon.

At first, the realization that North Korea had the bomb sent waves of panic through the halls of power in Washington, but the threat was largely dismissed because even if they had the bomb, the U.S. military assured the world that North Korea really didn’t have any way of delivering them.

The Pentagon acknowledged North Korea had developed missiles that could carry a nuke as far as Alaska, but they were not considered to be much of a threat because war planners had deployed a new system of anti-missile missiles capable of destroying anything North Korea launched.

It was for that reason why developing a stealth aircraft of their own, became such a high priority for Kim Joon Il.

Fortunately, acquiring stealth technology was even a more daunting technological challenge then building a nuclear bomb.

If North Korea could not, on their own, develop a successful stealth program, they would be forced to do the next best thing, try and steal it from the West.

With their own stealth bomber the threat they posed to the West would become magnified times ten.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

N. Korea Makes New Threats As Border Tensions Rise

Published: 26 May 2010 10:32
SEOUL - North Korea threatened May 26 to shut a border crossing and open fire on loudspeakers if South Korea makes good on its vow to blare out propaganda across the frontier in revenge for the sinking of a warship.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Seoul to show Washington's "rock-solid" support for its ally amid the rising tensions, and said the world had a duty to respond to the North's torpedo attack.

After a weeks-long multinational probe into the sinking of a South Korean corvette on March 26, investigators said they found overwhelming evidence that a North Korean submarine was to blame.

The findings into the attack that killed 46 young sailors sparked strong international condemnation of the hard-line communist state.

The South on May 24 announced a package of reprisals, including a halt to most trade and a resumption of the loudspeaker broadcasts suspended six years ago.

It is also mounting a diplomatic drive to punish the North through the U.N. Security Council, although veto-wielding member China, the North's sole major ally, is reluctant to sign up.

The North says the South faked evidence of its involvement in the sinking in an attempt to fuel confrontation for domestic political reasons. It threatens "all-out war" against any punitive moves.

The regime announced late May 25 it was breaking all links in protest at Seoul's "smear campaign" and would ban South Korean ships and planes from its territorial waters and airspace.

It said relations would remain severed while conservative President Lee Myung-Bak remains in power in Seoul.

The South's decision to wage "psychological warfare" appears to have sparked particular fury.

It has begun installing loudspeakers along the frontier, and has also resumed FM radio broadcasts to the North. In addition, it plans to scatter propaganda leaflets across the border.

The campaign aims to "push the daily aggravating inter-Korean relations to the brink of war," the North's military said May 26, repeating an earlier threat to open fire.

"If the south side sets up even loudspeakers in the frontline area to resume the broadcasting...the KPA (North Korean army) will take military steps to blow up one by one the moment they appear by firing sighting shots."

The North also threatened to ban South Korean personnel and vehicles from a railway and road leading to the Kaesong jointly-run industrial estate just north of the border - a move that would effectively shut it down.

It ordered eight Seoul government officials on May 26 to leave the estate and switched off two cross-border communications line, Seoul's unification ministry said.

Clinton warned the North to halt its "provocations and policy of threats and belligerence" against neighbors and backed Seoul's moves to take the attack to the Security Council.

"This was an unacceptable provocation by North Korea and the international community has a responsibility and a duty to respond," she told a news conference.

The chief U.S. diplomat said Washington, which stations 28,500 troops in the South, would consider enhancing its defense posture to deter future attacks.

The Pentagon is already planning joint anti-submarine and other naval exercises with South Korea.

"The United States is also reviewing additional options and authorities to hold North Korea and its leaders accountable," Clinton said without elaborating.

The U.S. is considering its own sanctions that would hit the North's finances and money flow, a South Korean official told Yonhap news agency on the condition of anonymity.

Clinton arrived in Seoul from two days of talks in Beijing, where she pressed China to take a tougher line with the North. So far it has merely urged restraint on all parties.

Clinton gave no indication China was ready to accept Security Council action, but said she expected it to listen to U.S. and South Korean concerns.

"We expect to be working with China as we move forward in fashioning a response to this provocation by North Korea."

X-52 test successful!

By Graham Warwick

First flight of the Boeing X-51A Waverider hypersonic demonstrator is being hailed as a success, although the scramjet-powered vehicle did not achieve the planned flight duration.

The X-51A was released from its B-52 mothership over the Pacific off the California coast on May 25. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory told AVIATION WEEK the booster-and-cruiser “stack” separated from the B-52 and the booster ignited. Subsequently the booster separated, the scramjet engine ignited and the cruiser accelerated.

The Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne hydrocarbon-fuelled, fuel-cooled scramjet engine was planned to run for 300 seconds, accelerating the X-51A from about Mach 4.5 to beyond Mach 6. The actual duration of the flight and maximum Mach number achieved have not yet been released. The vehicle splashed down in the Pacific.

The first flight was “a solid B”, says an AFRL spokesman. “We’ll get an A next time.”

Three more flights are planned, the next in 2011.

Credit: USAF

War drums are beating ...

US demands world response over Korea warship sinking
Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 16:20 UK

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the international community must respond in the growing crisis over the sinking of a South Korean warship.

She said there was "overwhelming" evidence that North Korea was to blame, and urged Pyongyang to halt its "policy of belligerence".

Mrs Clinton was speaking in South Korea at the end of an Asian tour.

North Korea denies it was responsible, and has warned of retaliation if action is taken against it.

After an international investigation produced proof that the ship, the Cheonan, was hit by a North Korean torpedo, South Korea announced a package of measures, including a halt to most trade. It is also seeking action via the United Nations Security Council.

The North then announced, late on Tuesday, that it was cutting all ties with the South. It has also banned South Korean ships and planes from its territory.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told a joint news conference he and Mrs Clinton had agreed that North Korea should take responsibility for the sinking of the Cheonan, torpedoed on 26 March with the loss of 46 lives.

"This was an unacceptable provocation by North Korea and the international community has a responsibility and a duty to respond," Mrs Clinton said.

North Korea has a record in calculated risk. This crisis might be another example of that

The incident required "a strong but measured response," she said.

Before going to Seoul, Mrs Clinton had two days of discussions in Beijing with her Chinese counterparts.

She has been pressing China to join the international condemnation but Beijing is taking a cautious line, calling for restraint.

"I believe that the Chinese understand the seriousness of this issue and are willing to listen to the concerns expressed by both South Korea and the United States," Mrs Clinton said on Wednesday.

"We expect to be working with China as we move forward in fashioning a response."

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun earlier said his country was still evaluating information on the sinking of the Cheonan.

"We have always believed that dialogue is better than confrontation," he added.

Tank exercises
With tensions rising rapidly, the North has reacted angrily to trade and shipping sanctions announced by the South.


March 26: Explosion hits naval corvette near disputed maritime border, killing 46 on board
May 20: Independent investigators produce proof North Korean torpedo struck vessel
May 24: South Korea declares trade with North frozen, demands apology
May 25: North Korea announces it is severing all ties with South
Korean propaganda fight

"If South Korea takes any provocative actions against us in terms of political, economic and military measures, backed by the United States, we will respond with war for justice," said the state-run KRT television channel.

"We will remove all the human trash from the Korean peninsula and build up a united Korea."

Pyongyang said on Wednesday it would cut off a road link across the heavily defended border if Seoul resumed propaganda broadcasts, halted six years ago.

Earlier, the North said it would match Southern sanctions with its own, and sever the few remaining lines of communication between the two governments.

South Korean ships and planes would be banned from Northern territorial waters and airspace.

All South Korean workers in the jointly-run Kaesong industrial park north of the border were expected to be expelled although they were allowed to enter on Wednesday, Reuters news agency reports.

Apart from Kaesong, there is little economic relationship left between the two states, their ties almost frozen since Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008, the agency notes.

"North Korea is not closing up Kaesong immediately because it is saving the cards it needs in order to play the game," said Jang Cheol-hyeon, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy.

The two states are technically still at war after the Korean conflict ended without a peace treaty in 1953.

South Korean K1 tanks could be seen on Tuesday conducting an exercise to prepare for a possible surprise attack by North Korea.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today's excerpt from The Interceptors Club and the Secret of the Black Manta

>So why put a pilot in it at all? Why even have the option of configuring it to fly under manned control?” Pepper asked hoping he impressed the General.

“Because there are some things that computers just don’t do well. Humans can still see things, especially during the haze of combat that robot brains have the tendency to ignore. Subtle things, like being able to tell a hospital from a munitions factory, things that we can’t tell from a spy satellite-photo. We think that being able to configure it from a manned to an unmanned craft can give us the best of both worlds.”

“She’s beautiful sir.” Pepper said as he looked down on Excalibur.

“Take a good look at her son, for it’s the last time you’ll see her.”


“Excalibur is only here for some standard maintenance that we can’t perform at Stallion. Tonight, under cover of darkness we fly her back and put her under wraps until pilot training is complete, then she’ll fly at night on the range against various radars to check her radar signatures. There are too many loose tongues here at Holloman. She’ll be more secure at Stallion.”


X-51A WaveRider Flight Test Today!

"This is an experimental X-plane and it's a complicated test. We knew the original schedule was aggressive and we would need to be flexible," said Brink.
by Staff Writers
Edwards AFB CA (SPX) May 21, 2010

Boeing has announced that the X-51A WaveRider will make its first hypersonic flight test attempt from Edwards Air Force Base on Tuesday, May 25. The unmanned aerial vehicle will be released from a B-52 bomber off the southern California coast.

The X-51A is expected to fly autonomously for five minutes - powered by a supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) motor - accelerate to about Mach 6 and transmit large amounts of data to ground stations before it splashes down into the Pacific and breaks up, as planned. There are no plans to recover the flight test vehicle, one of four built.

"In those 300 seconds, we hope to learn more about hypersonic flight with a practical scramjet engine than all previous flight tests combined," said Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The longest previous hypersonic scramjet flight test, performed by a NASA X-43 in 2004, was faster, but lasted only about 10 seconds and used less logistically supportable hydrogen fuel.

The X-51A program is a collaborative effort of the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with industry partners The Boeing Company and Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne.

The May 25 attempt will be the only hypersonic flight attempt this fiscal year, a change from the original test plan, which was to fly once in December 2009 and three more times in 2010. A combination of factors, including high demand for flight-test and range assets such as the B-52, contributed to the pause.

"This is an experimental X-plane and it's a complicated test. We knew the original schedule was aggressive and we would need to be flexible," said Brink.

"It's also expensive to keep a staff of engineers and support staff at the ready and then not be able to fly when supporting assets aren't available. So we elected to make only one hypersonic try this spring and then pause for a few months to conserve funding."

Alex Lopez, Boeing vice president of Advanced Network and Space Systems, said the X-51A program will pave the way to hypersonic weapons and future access to space.

"This is been a major team effort for the past seven years," said Lopez. "If the test flight meets even a subset of our expectations, the leap in engine technology will be the equivalent to the post-World War II leap from propellers to jet engines. It will be a historic event."

On the brink?

CNN) -- Mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula reached a new level Tuesday as a North Korean agency announced that the communist nation is severing all ties with its neighbor to the south and will "abrogate the agreement on non-aggression."

A spokesman for North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea accused South Korean President Lee Myung-bak of falsely blaming Pyongyang for the sinking in March of the South Korean warship Cheonan, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

An official South Korean report accused the communist North of firing a torpedo at the ship, killing
46 sailors.

Meanwhile, a North Korean military official accused the South of intruding into North Korean waters in the Yellow Sea from May 14 to May 24, the Yonhap news agency reported.
Video: Tensions between the Koreas Video: South Korea lashes out at North Korea Video: Hillary

Clinton warns North Korea

"This is a deliberate provocation aimed to spark off another military conflict in the West Sea of Korea and thus push to a war phase the present north-south relations," the official said in a statement, according to Yonhap.

Lee has already announced that South Korea was suspending trade with North Korea, closing its waters to the North's ships and adopting a newly aggressive military posture toward its neighbor.
While in China on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States supports the finding on the Cheonan's sinking.

She urged North Korea on Monday to reveal what it knows about the "act of aggression." She also said the United States' "support for South Korea's defense is unequivocal" and that North Korea should "stop its belligerence and threatening behavior."

"We endorse President Lee's call on North Korea to come forward with the facts regarding this act of aggression and, above all, stop its belligerence and threatening behavior," Clinton said.
U.S. President Barack Obama has directed military commanders to work with South Korean troops "to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression" from North Korea.

The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the group that is in charge of relations with South Korea, said in its statement Tuesday that it would consider South Korea's "smear campaign over the sinking of the warship as a declaration of a war."
It said the North would "mete out a merciless and strong punishment," KCNA reported.
Among the committee's recommendations:
-- That all relations be severed and inter-Korean issues be handled under wartime laws.
-- That dialog between North and South be halted during Lee's tenure.
-- That all communications between North and South be cut off.
-- That South Korean ships and airliners be banned from passing through North Korean territorial waters and airspace.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today's excerpt from The Interceptors Club and the Secret of the Black Manta

> “I’m serious.” Static said. “You’ll be one of the first to fly the Manta, a super secret stealth aircraft that my gang of nerds have discovered. Remember my model? The real airplane has been stolen and we are going to steal it back.”

“What? The Manta is for real? I had heard rumors – but this --.

“I’ve seen it with my own two eyes and now it is the hands of the wrong people.”

“If this is a joke --.” Gavin threatened.

“It’s no joke.” Static said. “It’s as real as you are.”

As much as he didn’t like Static, something in his voice convinced Gavin he was telling the truth.

He looked back at his friends who had seemingly abandoned him. They bought their tickets and with a fleeting look back at Gavin went into the theatre.

“I never liked them anyway.” Gavin said.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Is the PAK 50 the Raptor killer? Flight test video:

Todays excerpt from "The Interceptors Club & the Secret of the Black Manta.

> Next the Manta did a super high-speed climb up in to the sky until everyone lost sight of it, including Static and Caysi.

“Where’d it go?” Static said.

“It changed shape.” Caysi said.

“What?” Static replied confused.

“I’m telling you – I was watching it through the binoculars and it changed shape. It went from a sort of wide triangle to more of a cone.” Casyi said.

“How am I supposed to model that?” Static replied.

Just when they thought it wasn’t coming back, Static and Caysi heard a very low rumble coming from behind them.

They turned to see the Manta flying slowly over the very ridge they were hiding on, just a few dozen feet over their heads.


War rumor: Taliban planing a strike.

'Reason to believe' Pakistani Taliban plotting to strike U.S.
U.S. intelligence has strong reason to believe that the Pakistani Taliban is actively plotting to hit interests in the U.S. and American targets overseas, a U.S. official told CNN Thursday.

The concerns about the group that authorities say directed the Times Square bombing plot are coming from multiple streams of information, including from Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bombing suspect, the official said.

The official told CNN that CIA Director Leon Panetta and National Security Adviser Jim Jones relayed the new terror threat information to Pakistan's government on their trip there earlier this week.

The threat information was not down to the level of specific cities, the official said.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Breaking:Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, has resigned!

Washington (CNN) – The president's top intelligence advisor, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, has resigned, two senior intelligence officials confirmed Thursday.

Word of Blair's resignation comes just two days after the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that sharply criticized the National Counterterrorism Center - one of several agencies overseen by Blair's office - for failing to properly coordinate intelligence activities to detect the botched Christmas Day airline bombing in advance.

The report said the center, created after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to coordinate U.S. intelligence efforts, was "not organized adequately to fulfill its missions."

In addition, the report said other problems allowed suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab to board a flight bound for Detroit, Michigan, in December with an explosive device that failed to detonate. AbdulMutallab was detained when other passengers noticed his clothes burning from his attempt to set off the device.

Blair responded to the report by noting changes made in response to the Christmas incident, including creation of a National Counterterrorism Center analytical unit dedicated to following up on terrorist threat information. However, Blair's statement noted that "institutional and technological barriers remain that prevent seamless sharing of information."

Wreckage of Afghan plane crash found

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Aircrews from the Afghan National Army Air Corps and from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force have found the wreckage of the plane that crashed Monday with 44 people aboard, ISAF said Thursday.

The crash site is at 13,500 feet (4,100 meters) in the Shakar Darah district of Kabul province, ISAF said. Afghan authorities, supported by ISAF, are now making plans for a recovery operation taking into account the elevation and rugged terrain, ISAF said.

The crash site was initially observed late Wednesday and confirmed Thursday, ISAF said. Afghan authorities earlier reported that a satellite had spotted part of the Antonov plane in mountains near the Salang Pass, north of Kabul.

The Pamir Airways plane was carrying 38 passengers and six crew members when it crashed en route from Kunduz to Kabul on Monday. Several non-Afghans, including at least three Britons, were on the plane, officials said.

In a statement of condolence Thursday, the Afghan Ministry of Defense indicated high-ranking officials were aboard the plane. It said it had ordered the air force to help transport the victims' bodies back to their provinces.

At the time of the crash, a meteorological agency reported hearing a huge sound in the area of the crash, and the government's minister of transport and aviation and his deputy went to investigate.
While several plane crashes have occurred in Afghanistan in the past few years -- most of them military aircraft -- the last crash with fatalities occurred in September 2006, when a British Royal Air Force plane crashed about 12.5 miles (20 km) west of Kandahar, according to the web site of the Aviation Safety Network, which maintains a database of crashes. Fourteen people were killed in that crash.

In 2005, 104 people were killed when Kam Air flight 904 struck a mountain while approaching Kabul in poor visibility, according to the network.

North Korea's sinking of a South Korean navy ship was "unforgivable"

TOKYO - Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said May 20 that North Korea's sinking of a South Korean navy ship was "unforgivable" after an investigation concluded the communist regime was to blame.

"Our country strongly supports South Korea," he said in a statement read by his chief spokesman, Hirofumi Hirano. "The North Korean action is unforgivable, and we strongly condemn it, with the international community."

A multi-national investigation panel concluded May 20 that a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo that sank a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 lives on March 26 near the disputed maritime border.

North Korea denied responsibility, warning of "full-scale war" if new sanctions are imposed.

Hatoyama later told reporters that "if South Korea seeks a resolution at the U.N. Security Council, Japan should spearhead the move" against North Korea.

Any action against Pyongyang by the U.N. Security Council would require agreement from China, a veto-wielding council member and the North's ally, which has indicated it first wants to see strong evidence.

Japan Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told reporters that "we would like China to take concerted action as much as possible... The evidence is objective and I think we can trust it. Japan strongly supports South Korea."

Hirano said the North Korean attack would complicate efforts to resume stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks grouping the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the United States.

The North quit the dialogue in April last year and staged its second atomic weapons test a month later. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il vowed during a visit to China this month to try to revive the talks, Beijing media said.

The North Korean issue will be discussed when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Japan May 21 before heading to China and South Korea, and at a summit of Japan, China and South Korea at the end of the month.

Excerpt: The Interceptors Club & The Secret of the Black Manta

As Caysi took her hands off her ears she only heard the slight whine of what sounded like an electric motor, not even as loud as an automobile passing.

The aircraft lightly touched down and slowed to a slow roll, almost walking-speed.

“I’m in an extremely excited emotional state!” Meinrad said.

Normally the Interceptors would have laughed at Mein-rad’s strange way of expressing himself, but they were too transfixed on the mystery craft that had just blown their hair back.

The Interceptors watched as the black shape turned on to a pad just off the main taxiway and stopped.

It sat there for thirty seconds and very unexpectedly began to sink into the earth. It took the Junior Inter-ceptors a few seconds to realize it was on an elevator and was being lowered into an underground chamber.

Once the craft was below ground the base came back to life as the runway lights and security lights blazed back on.

Caysi looked at Meinrad, Static, Sami and Freaks. They all stood there silent wearing the same look of amaze-ment.

Then Caysi realized she was wearing it too. She was hooked. She was now one of them, an Interceptor.

“What the heck did we just see? Freaks spoke breaking the silence.

“My guess? Something we weren’t supposed to.” Static said.

For more visit this LINK.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Breaking: Plane crashes in Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- An airplane with 44 people on board has crashed in the mountains of Afghanistan, an Afghan government spokesman said Monday.

The plane was carrying 38 passengers and six crew members when it crashed en route from Kunduz to Kabul, said Raz Mohammad Alami of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.
Several non-Afghans were on the plane, which has not yet been found, said Zemarai Basharay, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

At least three of them were British nationals, according to a Foreign Office spokeswoman who declined to give her name in keeping with the office's typical practice.
The plane crashed near the Salang Pass, north of Kabul, he said. A meteorological agency reported hearing a huge sound there, and the government's minister of transport and aviation and his deputy went there to investigate.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force has sent a plane to the region, said spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks, but the search has been hampered by rain and adverse weather conditions.

In addition, the force sent two helicopters to the area, and others were on standby at Bagram Airfield and Kabul International Airport, the NATO-led force said.
While several plane crashes have occurred in Afghanistan in the past few years -- most of them military aircraft -- the last crash with fatalities occurred in September 2006, when a British Royal Air Force plane crashed about 12.5 miles (20 km) west of Kandahar, according to the website of the Aviation Safety Network, which maintains a database of crashes. Fourteen people were killed in that crash.

In 2005, 104 people were killed when Kam Air flight 904 struck a mountain while approaching Kabul in poor visibility, according to the network.

Does New Stealth Material Change JSF Game?

FORT WORTH — As the debate rages about Joint Strike Fighter life-cycle cost, Lockheed Martin officials are raising a previously unheard point to bolster their low-price claims — a new low-observability (LO) substance called fiber mat.

Lockheed officials avoided the need to use stealthy appliqu├ęs and coatings by curing the substance into the composite skin of the aircraft, according to Tom Burbage, executive vice president of F-35 program integration for the company. It “makes this airplane extremely rugged. You literally have to damage the airplane to reduce the signature,” he said in an interview with AVIATION WEEK. This top-fiber mat surface takes the place of metallic paint that was used on earlier stealthy aircraft designs.

The composite skin of the F-35 actually contains this layer of fiber mat, and it can help carry structural loads in the aircraft, Burbage adds. The F-35 is about 42% composite by weight, Burbage says, compared to the F-22 at 22% and the F-16 at 2%.

Lockheed Martin declined to provide further details on fiber mat because they are classified. But the disclosure of this new substance comes at a time when Lockheed Martin officials are arguing that maintenance costs for the F-35 will be lower than anticipated by operators.

Officials at the Pentagon are required to complete their life-cycle cost estimates for the Joint Strike Fighter by the end of the month to certify that the $328-billion program can move forward despite a major cost spike. However, this has been an issue of controversy. A U.S. Naval Air Systems Command study recently stated that 65 years of sustainment for the single-engine stealthy fighter could cost about $442 billion (in Fiscal 2002 dollars) more than planned.

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said in an interview this week with AVIATION WEEK that he feels maintenance numbers for the conventional takeoff and landing version are “manageable,” but he did not provide a number. A sustainment cost for all three variants is needed to proceed with Nunn-McCurdy certification after the 57% cost overrun.

Amid this debate, Lockheed Martin continues to claim that sustainment costs for F-35 will actually be lower than its predecessors. But the company’s argument faces the same challenge as its assertion that the Pentagon Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office’s development and production estimates are inflated. Fundamentally, company officials say, Pentagon estimates on both points rely too much on data from legacy aircraft.

Schwartz, who represents the service that will eventually operate the preponderance of the Pentagon’s F-35 fleet, appears unsympathetic to Lockheed’s complaints about the estimates. “This is a show-me situation for the government, the program office and the contractor,” he says. “Notwithstanding what they think of the estimate, that is what we budgeted to. If they want to sell more airplanes, there is a clear path ahead.”


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eco Airships of the Future!

CNN) -- How will we travel in the future?
Belgian architect, Vincent Callebaut thinks it might be like this -- floating from one place to another in giant eco-airships.

Called "Hydrogenase," the project combines engineering and biology and is inspired by biomimicry -- design inspired by nature's models and systems -- he says.
Clearly not someone lacking in imagination, Callebaut envisages his eco-airship towering 400 meters high, 180 meters wide and powered by a seaweed biofuel.

Eight compartments are housed inside a protective skin made of glazed canvas and carry fuel -- "bio-hydrogen," of course -- and passengers.
But this isn't just a floating theme park -- Callebaut envisions his airship helping with humanitarian missions or scientific studies as well as housing hotels and entertainment.

When it's not soaring to an altitude of 6,500 feet and reaching a top speed of 175 kilometers per hour, the airship is docked in a floating organic farm which recycles CO2. As with the airship, the farm is completely powered by renewable energy using solar panels and hydro turbines.
Callebaut's extraordinary plans for what he calls a "biotechnological prototype" are currently on display at the Future Pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China.

"Hydrogenase" is the latest in an impressive portfolio of ecologically influenced ideas of how the future might look.

In 2008 he drew up plans for a "floating ecopolis" aimed at saving climate refugees and in 2007 the "perfumed jungle" imagined the construction of a vast jungle on the central waterfront in Hong Kong.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Breaking: North Korea boats draw warning shots from South

(Reuters) - Two North Korean vessels crossed into the South's waters off the peninsula's tense west coast before returning when South Korea fired warning shots, military officers said on Sunday.

The area has been a site of military standoffs and is near where a South Korean navy ship sank in March after apparently being struck by a torpedo, killing 46 sailors.

South Korea has not officially blamed the North for the attack but officials have made little secret of their belief Pyongyang was behind the attack. An international team of investigators are expected to release their findings this week.

"Two patrol boats crossed on two separate occasions and warning shots were fired," said an officer at the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The apparent maritime border violation by the North's vessels come amid a deepening chill in relations between the rival Koreas, which remain technically at war under a truce that ended fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War.

South Korea's belief in the North's involvement in the sinking of its navy corvette Cheonan has been a source of friction between Seoul and Beijing, and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi tried to cool South Korea's exasperation when top diplomats from the two countries and Japan met this weekend.

In contrast to the aloof response shown by Yang the day before, Japan's Katsuya Okada was more sympathetic to the South when he met Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan on Sunday in Gyeongju, the scenic ancient capital of Shilla, a Buddhist kingdom that ruled the peninsula in the first millennium.

"(Okada) expressed his high respect for our government's efforts to get to the cause through scientific and objective means under what can only be a truly difficult situation," a South Korean official said after their meeting.

"The two sides agreed (on) close cooperation in the response following the investigation into the Cheonan incident."

The Chinese foreign ministry on Saturday called for "calm and restraint" in dealing with the Cheonan sinking.

South Korea knows it cannot launch a retaliatory strike against the North without risking greater conflict and undermining its own economy, just recovering from the global financial slump.

But it does want international punishment of the North. That would likely mean even tougher sanctions by the United Nations, which would need China's support to take effect.

There is media speculation in South Korea that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Seoul later this month in a show of support over the sinking.

There was little formal discussions at the three-way meeting on how to resume the stalled negotiations with North Korea on compensating it in return for concrete steps to end its nuclear arms program.

South Korea and Japan said they would not sit at the table with the North if Pyongyang is found to be the culprit in the navy ship sinking. China hosts those talks, which also involve the United States and Russia and have been stalled since 2008.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

Cathay Pacific plane from HK escorted to Vancouver by F-18s

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Canadian fighter jets escorted a Cathay Pacific airliner incoming from Hong Kong to a safe landing in Vancouver International Airport on Saturday due to a potential security threat, a North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesperson said.

The Canadian Press news agency cited Canadian Defense department officials as saying there was a bomb threat aboard Flight CX838, but they could not provide details.
Television images showed the plane on an isolated stretch of tarmac, where it had been towed away from the main airport terminal.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said the passengers were safely taken off the plane and no one was injured.

Canadian F-18 Hornet fighter jets intercepted the plane and flew alongside it until it landed around 1:40 p.m. local time (4:40 p.m. Eastern time, 2040 GMT), drawing attention from people throughout Vancouver who heard the roar of the low-flying planes.

"As a precaution, NORAD fighters escorted the aircraft until it landed safely in Vancouver," said North American Aerospace Defense Command's Maj. Holly Apostoliuk.

Apostoliuk said the jets responded quickly from their base in Comox, British Columbia, once information on a potential threat was received.

They did not land with the airliner, and returned to their base.

Friday, May 14, 2010

God's speed Atlantis!

Atlantis in Orbit!
Fri, 14 May 2010 01:29:50 PM CDT

Main engine cutoff is confirmed -- space shuttle Atlantis is officially in orbit, kicking off its STS-132 mission and the pursuit of its target, the International Space Station. Atlantis lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center right on time at 2:20 p.m. EDT, rising into a picture-perfect Florida sky and capping a relatively problem-free countdown.

NASA Television will air the post-launch news conference at about 3:20 p.m.

Last Shot For Atlantis!

-3 Hours and Holding; Fueling Complete
Fri, 14 May 2010 07:18:39 AM CDT

Countdown activities continue on schedule as teams across NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida prepare for the 2:20 p.m. EDT liftoff of space shuttle Atlantis. At T-3 hours and holding, Atlantis' external tank is fully loaded with more than a half million gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The fueling process started on time at 4:55 a.m. and finished at 7:56 a.m. as the tank entered "stable replenish."

At Launch Pad 39A, the Closeout Crew is beginning to ready the climate-controlled White Room outside Atlantis' crew access hatch and the Final Inspection Team will conduct a detailed survey of the shuttle and the pad structure, checking for ice buildups or other potential hazards.

Weather remains favorable, with STS-132 Weather Officer Todd McNamara predicting a 70 percent chance of good conditions at launch time.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tracking a sniper? There's an APP for that!

Push Is On To Make Smart Phones Work for Combat Troops

Already there's a smart phone application that calculates a bullet's trajectory, accounting for wind speed, distance, temperature, altitude and other factors. And soon soldiers will have another app to turn their smart phones into acoustic sensors to help locate snipers.

There's an app that uses a phone's GPS capabilities to track friendly troops, and another that helps troops translate English into Arabic.

Officials responsible for modernizing the U.S. Army say that smart phones and apps - the small but ingenious software applications that make smart phones so smart - will soon be as essential to soldiers as rifles.

It's even likely that soldiers soon will be issued smart phones or other "hand-held devices" when they start basic training, said Col. Marisa Tanner, chief of the doctrine, organization, operational architecture and threat division of the Army's Future Force Integration Directorate.

The Army is moving aggressively to get smart phones ready for active duty.

In March, the service launched an "Apps for the Army" competition in which 100 soldiers or civilian Army employees are competing to develop Army-specific applications by May 15. Designers of the eight best apps will win $2,000 in prize money. Other prizes range from $1,000 to $100. The winners will see their apps deployed.

Separately, the Army's Future Force Integration Directorate is getting ready to issue smart phones to 192 soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas, in a project called "Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications."

"We're trying to examine the benefits of putting access to knowledge and information in the hands of soldiers in garrison, in the field and in the theater of operations," Tanner said.

"Sometimes you're only as strong as your comms reach," she said, referring to communications. "Not every soldier dismounted from his vehicle in theater has the ability to access comms readily."

But it's when they're dismounted that soldiers get the best sense of their surroundings. They mingle with locals, observe activity and gather intelligence.

"How do you capture that information?" Tanner asked. "How do you transfer it" to other unit members and commanders? Lately, smart phones have become an obvious choice.

Unlike military hand-held devices, which tend to be expensive, single-task appliances, commercial handhelds are cheap and increasingly able to perform a multitude of tasks.

But for soldiers to get the most out of their Androids, iPhones and BlackBerries, the data they collect and share has to be structured "in a graphic format that is timely and relevant to the dismounted soldier," Tanner said.

And that's where the apps come in.

Drivers in an Army convoy will want an app that can display where roadside bombs have been discovered recently along their route. "We have found three apps that we really like" that do that, Tanner said.

There are mapping apps, maintenance manual apps, training apps, even a "COIN Collector" counterinsurgency information collection app.

For the Fort Bliss project, the Army is making more than 50 applications available to the 192 soldiers who receive smart phones, said Michael McCarthy, the director of operations for the Fort Bliss battle command training complex.

Part of the effort is to find out which apps soldiers find most useful and easiest to use, McCarthy said. If all goes well, the Army hopes to expand the program in January to an additional 2,500 soldiers.

Smart phones have already proven their value as training tools, Tanner said.

When advanced individual training materials were made available via handhelds, soldiers were able to view video clips on how to operate equipment and review classroom lessons outside the classroom. Test scores went up and training time went down, Tanner said.

While the Army checks out what smart phones and apps can do for it, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is exploring how the U.S. military can do a better job of buying them.

With a program called Transformative Apps, DARPA hopes to speed up the process of creating and buying new applications.

DARPA Director Regina Dugan said most current Pentagon development and buying practices "do not permit a quick reaction in the face of rapidly changing user needs."

Dugan told a House Armed Services subcommittee in March that she hopes to create "a military apps marketplace" and to develop "a new model for rapidly and effectively acquiring, introducing, maintaining and enhancing software."

If she succeeds, that could represent a real change.

The military often takes five to seven years to develop and buy new technology, said Mark Bigham, the vice president for business development at Raytheon's defense and civil mission solutions division.

Raytheon has already developed applications for the military. One, the Raytheon Android Tactical System, or RATS, lets soldiers designate "buddies" - which could be another soldier or an unmanned aircraft - and keep track of them on a map using a phone's GPS capabilities.

Another lets troops annotate photos and video by drawing on a hand-held screen with a finger, Bigham said.

The company has others in the works, such as an app that will let soldiers share sensor data.

"We talked to guys who came back from the wars" to see what kind of applications they think are most needed, Bigham said.

"This is an exciting new market opportunity," he said of the burgeoning interest in apps.

One caution, though: The U.S. military probably shouldn't count on $2 or $5 apps that are so widely available in the commercial sector.

Commercial applications are cheap because popular ones sell in the hundreds of thousands and volume and competition keep the price down.

In the military market, which is much smaller and more specialized, apps might sell for $50 or $500, Bigham said.

The Case for Stealth Blimps:

Authors note: I think this is a case of the left side of the brain not knowing what the right side already knows.


Originally published HERE

The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in border security missions around the world is expanding rapidly from very little activity today. This expansion will create new markets and new business opportunities, particularly for integrated capabilities guided by an Operating Concept and turn key packages that include equipment, training, operations and maintenance. Small nations are discovering this technology. Smaller UAV types will especially benefit in these new markets where the established players have less influence.

This new report is the only available research that examines, analyses and predicts the evolution of Border Security markets and the relevant UAV technologies.

It is also the only UAV report of any kind that lays out a clear path to profit; it is far more than just market predictions. Readers will find an Operating Concept tying the most common border security technologies together into the capabilities border agents demand. They will also find clear instructions on which nations need these UAVs, what relevant foreign aid they receive from the US and how to approach those governments.

This unique report also analyses and forecasts global UAV procurement trends as the foundation for Border Security details. Both valuable data sets are presented by region and by UAV type.

The report covers these technologies:

Stratospheric UAVs (stealth blimps)
Jet Stream UAVs
High Altitude UAVs
Medium Altitude UAVs
Low Altitude UAVs
Micro UAVs

The report identifies, analyzes and forecasts these topics, among others:

Global Border Security - Areas of Concern & Types of Threats
Border Security UAV - Operating Concept
Border Security UAVs - Sensor & Radio Coverage
How to Sell Border Security UAVs
Global UAV Procurement Forecast - By Region - 2010-2015
Global General and Border Security UAV Procurement Forecast by Region - 2010-2015
Global Border Security - UAV Procurement Forecast - by Technology - 2010-2015
Global Border Security UAV - Market Forecast - by Technology - 2010-2015
Global Border Security UAV - Operations & Maintenance Forecast - by Technology - 2010-2015


First excerpt posted!

First excerpt from "The Interceptors Club and the Secret of the Black Manta:

> Ken had hopes that someday Freaks would become a valuable asset, keeping the Core informed on goings on in the White Sands Missile Range. Ken was quite aware that although Area 51 was where black projects were born, the White Sands Missile Range was where they were proven.<


-Steve Douglass
UPDATE: How cool is this? I just signed up to sell my book for Kindle on Amazon!
I'll post a link soon.

Breaking: Watertown Raid Connected to Times Square Bomber

The FBI raided a home in Watertown Thursday morning in connection with the Times Square bomb plot investigation.

FBI spokesperson Gail Marcinkiewicz told WBZ the raid was one of several being conducted in the northeast United States in the probe.

"The searches are a product of evidence that has been gathered in the investigation subsequent to the Times Square bombing investigation," she said.

Marcinkiewicz added that there is "no known immediate threat to the public or any active plot against the United States."

She said two people were taken into custody for "immigration violations" in the raids, but would not say if they were involved in the incident at a home on Waverly Avenue near Summer Street in Watertown.

UPDATE: CNN) -- Raids by federal agents in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey on Thursday are focused on a system of "cash couriers" who bring money into the United States from overseas, a source close to the investigation said.

Authorities were searching several locations in the Northeast on Thursday as part of their probe into the failed Times Square car bombing earlier this month, an FBI spokeswoman said.
Investigators searched locations in and around Boston, Massachusetts, and in New York and New Jersey, a federal law enforcement source said.

Three people were taken into custody for alleged immigration violations during the searches, according to a U.S. official. Earlier, FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz in Boston said two people had been detained. A second federal law enforcement source said those two have no direct connection to the Times Square bombing investigation, and their arrests were considered "collateral."

Some of the money allegedly ferried by the cash couriers is thought to have been made available to finance operations like the abortive Times Square attack. The source close to the investigation said two individuals have been under surveillance at least since Wednesday, but could not confirm that they were two of the three individuals arrested in the raids.

The source said there is no direct evidence connecting those under surveillance to the Times Square attempted bombing, but they are being investigated for possible links.

"These searches are the product of evidence that has been gathered in the investigation since the attempted Times Square bombing and do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States," Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. "I share that information just to indicate that this is an ongoing investigation and that we are actively pursuing all those who were involved in it."

One of the searches took place in Watertown, Massachusetts, according to a federal law enforcement official. CNN affiliate WCVB-TV reported that two people were taken into custody in

WCVB: Massachusetts pair arrested
A Watertown resident who lives near the home where the search warrant was executed told WCVB he was sitting in his living room watching television at about 6 a.m. when he "heard an FBI agent scream, saying 'Don't move' or 'Put your hands up,' something like that."

"I thought I was dreaming, actually, because in a small town, who would think, you know, that you'd hear an FBI person?" said the man, who did not give his name in the interview posted on WCVB's website.

When he looked out the window, he said, he saw 15 or 20 FBI agents lined up, with their guns drawn and pointing at the house. He said after a few minutes, a couple of agents went inside the house. "I was expecting to hear gunshots or something, you know, but there wasn't ever any gunshots," he said.

After a few minutes, agents brought a man out in shackles, put him in a car and drove away, the man said. He said he'd never seen the man before, but noted that new residents have moved into the home every few years.

Photos from Watertown showed yellow police crime scene tape around a large white Colonial-style house. The photos were taken by, a local news website.

One photo showed a man in an FBI shirt talking with two other men. Another showed a man walking out of the house holding a plastic bag that appeared to contain an electronic or computer-related device or accessory.

Another search unfolded in Brookline, Massachusetts, where police were helping the FBI search a Mobil gas station on Harvard Street, said Lt. Philip Harrington of the Brookline Police Department.

Video from CNN affiliate WHDH-TV of Boston showed apparent law enforcement officers at the gas station. They were examining a parked gray four-door sedan, its two front doors and trunk open.
WHDH: FBI executes search warrants in Boston area

Diane Chung, who manages a Japanese fusion restaurant across from the gas station, said investigators were swarming the scene when she got to the restaurant around 9:30 a.m. She said the gas station was completely blocked off.

She said she hadn't seen authorities bringing anyone out of the gas station and hasn't seen them enter any other businesses in the area.

Michael Sobelman, owner of Michael's Deli on Harvard Street, took a stroll down the street to check out what he said was rare commotion along the retail and commercial stretch.
"You can see them taking stuff out," he said. "You'd never have thunk something like this is going on."

News media and police packed the area as three or four helicopters hovered over the scene. Sobelman said he saw the FBI load vehicles with material from the gas station.

"I'm shocked that it could happen in an affluent community like this," Sobelman said. "I tip my hat to the FBI and praise them for their work and their diligence and looking behind the scenes into everything."

A search warrant was also being executed in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, according to J.J. Klaver, FBI spokesman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. No one was in custody. A federal law enforcement source said the raid was being conducted at a business called Prompt Printing in Cherry Hill.
Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani American, is the only person charged in the May 1 attempted bombing at Times Square.

He was arrested while trying to fly out of New York two days after he allegedly attempted to set off a car bomb in the always-crowded tourist hotspot. The bomb failed to detonate.

Shahzad has been charged with five counts in connection with the case.
According to court documents, he admitted to law enforcement officials that he attempted to detonate the bomb and that he recently received bomb-making training in the Waziristan region of Pakistan.

Court documents also said that Shahzad returned to the United States via a one-way ticket from Pakistan on February 3. He had told immigration officials upon his return that he had been visiting his parents in Pakistan for the previous five months, the complaint said.
Holder said Shahzad was working with the Pakistani Taliban.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Boeing's Phantom Ray unveiled/set to fly in December.

Click to see larger images:

Photos: Boeing
Video: Boeing

Boeing's Phantom Ray Revealed

Boeing will put its Phantom Ray flying wing into the air before the end of the year.
The aerospace giant says that the unmanned aerial vehicle, unveiled at Boeing's St. Louis facility on
Monday, is on track to make its first flight in December.

The Phantom Ray will be a testbed for unspecified "advanced technologies," and in a press release Monday, Boeing rattled off an array of potential missions for the aircraft, from the now standard UAV tasks of recon and surveillance to aerial refueling, electronic attack, and the menacingly vague "strike." (A separate Boeing feature on the Phantom Ray makes reference to a potential "hunter/killer" mission, which would put it in the same category as the MQ-9 Reaper already in use by the U.S. Air Force.)

Leading up to the planned December flight will be a summer schedule of taxi tests. The debut flight for the one-off prototype aircraft will be followed, Boeing said, by up to nine more flights over the ensuing six months.

"The initial flights will take Phantom Ray through its paces for the flight test profile. Beyond that, the missions and systems tested will be determined by future warfighter needs," said Craig Brown, Phantom Ray program manager for Boeing, in a statement.

Looking like a boomerang with a bump in the middle, the Phantom Ray is 36 feet long and has a wingspan of 50 feet. Weighing in at 36,500 pounds, it has a cruising speed of 614 mph, or 0.8 Mach, and an operating altitude of 40,000 feet. It's powered by an F404-GE-102D turbofan engine.

Boeing is touting the UAV as an example of the ability of its Phantom Works unit to do rapid prototyping, and it's also funding the project internally. A feasibility study took place in spring 2008, and the program got the green light in the fall of that year, the company said. Of course, they had something of a head start--the Phantom Ray design is derived from that of the X-45C experimental aircraft, part of the Defense Department's J-UCAS effort in which Boeing was participating.


Fungus among US?

A serious disease is affecting opium poppies in Afghanistan, Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has said.
Mr Costa told the BBC that this year's opium production could be reduced by a quarter, compared with last year.

He said the disease - a fungus - is thought to have infected about half of the country's poppy crop. Afghanistan produces 92% of the world's opium.
Mr Costa said opium prices had gone up by around 50% in the region.
That could have an impact on revenues for insurgent groups like the Taliban which have large stockpiles of opium, he told the BBC's Bethany Bell.

The fungus attacks the root of the plant, climbs up the stem and makes the opium capsule wither away.

It was affecting poppies in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, the heartland of opium cultivation and the insurgency in Afghanistan, he said.
Nato 'blamed'

But farmers in Afghanistan are unsure about what is damaging their crops.
Some believe Nato troops are responsible for the outbreak, but Mr Costa denied that this was the case.

A fungal disease is thought to have infected 50% of the country's poppy crop

"I don't see any reasons to believe something of that sort," he said. "Opium plants have been affected in Afghanistan on a periodic basis."
Farmer Haji Mohammad in Nawzad told the BBC that he had seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of opium he was able to harvest. He described the fungus as an "aerial spray".

He said that last year he harvested 450kg (990lb) of opium - but this year he had so far only been able to harvest 4kg.
"[It]... has affected my wheat cultivation and my chickens and other animals as well," he said.
"The powder sprayed has a white colour and I think it is chemical and if you squeeze it in your hand, water comes out of it."

A number of farmers in southern Afghanistan told the BBC they observed a white substance on their crops. They also reported extensive crop damage and also that livestock had been affected.
Opium economy

Mr Costa said this was an opportunity for the international community to bring in support to try to persuade farmers to turn away from planting opium.
He said the amount of opium produced by one hectare (2.47 acres) had almost doubled to 56kg (in the five years to 2009.

"Nature really played in favour of the opium economy; this year, we see the opposite situation," he added.

Mr Costa said that farmers now grew opium poppies in only five or six Afghan provinces, as opposed to all 34 five years ago.

A message from the author of this Blog.

Dear Black Horizon reader.

Soon you will be able to buy my first work of fiction, The Interceptors Club & The Secret of the Black Manta direct from the author at this LINK.

If you are as intrigued by the black world, Area 51, and secret stealth projects as I am, I know you'll find my book a good read.

Although I envisioned it as a book for young adults and tweens, even if you are an adult I think you will find it enjoyable.

The novel is loosely based on my own stealth-chasing experience with a good fictional-action-based narrative pulling it all together. Although a fictional account, much of what you will read is based on real-covert military technology.

Other books I've read with a similar themes have been written by outsiders-and border on the fantastical. If you are looking for a book on Area 51 and aliens- then The Interceptors Club & The Secret of the Black Manta it is not for you.

The best way to describe it is, it is Tom Clancy meets The Hardy Boys or Sneakers meets Real Genius.

The Interceptors Club & The Secret of the Black Manta is the first book of a trilogy of adventures I plan to write involving the "Interceptors Club" - that is if this first book enjoys a modicum of success.

I hope you'll consider buying it and know your purchase helps fund a starving and striving author who has dedicated the last thirty years researching the mysterious world of covert military aviation.

Thanks for your consideration and continued support of this blog!

-Steve Douglass


Read: Phil Patton's STEALTH WATCHERS Here. The article that started it all.

Pirates hijack chemical tanker

CNN) -- Pirates in the Gulf of Aden hijacked a chemical tanker carrying a crew of 15 Bulgarians on Tuesday, the European Union Naval Force Somalia said.
The Bulgarian-flagged tanker, the MV Panega, was about 100 nautical miles east of Aden, Yemen, en route from the Red Sea to India, the force said in a news release.

"As long as the pirates are on board the ship, we are just monitoring the situation," said Anders Kallin, a Swedish navy commander for the EU naval force. He said he had no reason to believe that anyone had been hurt.

The force's Operation Atalanta focuses on escorting merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid for the World Food Programme and those of the African Union Mission in Somalia, protecting vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, and deterring and disrupting piracy.

Child 10 lone survivor of Libyan plane crash that took 100.

CNN -- One person -- believed to be a 10-year-old boy -- survived a passenger plane crash in Libya that was feared to have killed more than 100 people, an official said Wednesday.
The boy was undergoing surgery at a hospital in the Libyan capital of Tripoli after the Afriqiyah Airways plane that left Johannesburg crashed as it neared the end of its flight.

The Dutch Foreign ministry said it had a representative at the hospital waiting to identify the boy, believed to be a Dutch national. He apparently suffered bone injuries.
The plane was carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew members when it crashed while trying to land at the Tripoli International Airport.

The president of the European Parliament said about 100 people perished, and Libya's state news agency said 96 bodies had been recovered.
Nicky Knapp, a representative of the Airports Company South Africa, provided the breakdown in the destinations of the passengers aboard: seven to London, 32 to Brussels, 42 to Dusseldorf, one to Paris, and 11 to Libya. She was speaking on behalf of Afriqiyah Airways.
The plane, an Airbus A330-200, was at the tail end of its nearly nine-hour-long flight when it crashed.

"We express our sincere regret and sadness on behalf of the airline. As well, we would like to express our condolences to the relatives and friends of those who had passengers on Flight 8U771 destined for Tripoli late last night, due to arrive around 6 o'clock this morning," she said.

Calling the incident a tragedy, Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European Parliament said "some 100 people have died no doubt from many countries around the world."
He said the child's survival "given this tragic event, is truly a miracle."
The Dutch Royal Touring Club said 61 of 62 Dutch passengers on the plane died.

A Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman said the government was trying to get more information about those aboard.

The British Foreign Office said it was looking into whether British nationals were on board the flight.
At the crash site, workers with surgical masks combed through the smoldering wreckage that spilled over a large area. A wheel lay atop a pile of bags. Two green airline seats sat upright and intact amid burned parts of the aircraft.

Officials recovered the plane's flight data recorder, which investigators use to piece together a flight's last minutes.

The Tripoli-based Afriqiyah (Arabic for "African") operates flights to four continents. The planes in the fleet carry the logo 9.9.99 -- the date when the African Union was formed.
The Airbus that crashed is one of three Airbus 330-200s that the airline owns.


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