French President Nicolas Sarkozy opened his nation's first military base in the Gulf Tuesday, boosting the naval presence along strategic oil routes and in pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast.
The new naval base outside the United Arab Emirates' capital, Abu Dhabi, is France's first major foreign military installation since the 1960s and its first outside Africa. It is expected help safeguard vital Persian Gulf shipping lanes. It also puts France in position to play a higher profile role in calming the growing tensions between Iran and Gulf Arab states.
from Crikey .....
Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane writes:
It's been a fairly tame Estimates hearings so far. Only those with patience and a remarkable capacity to stay alert for hours on end will have gained anything. And I'm talking about all the participants, from senators to bureaucrats to journalists.
from Crikey .....
Greg Barns writes:
Back in the days when the hammer and sickle flew proudly, the Soviet Union would spend big dollars on paying for journalists, academics and diplomats to see for themselves the "workers' paradise". It was part of a long term and relentless strategy by the Communists to win the propaganda war against the West.
"One of the great attractions to patriotism, it fulfils our worst wishes. In the person of a nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat while feeling we're profoundly virtuous." Aldous Huxley
Iraq ............... 1,300,000
Afghanistan .... 35,000
Pakistan ......... 5,500
The hypocrisy of our politicians is simply breathtaking ....
Between 1945 & 1992, the US conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests & mounted two nuclear attacks on the defenceless civilian populations of Hiroshima & Nagasaki.
AFR defends the indefensible on bank fees
Adam Schwab writes:
Australia's leading banking journalist, the Financial Review's Andrew Cornell, undertook a valiant, albeit flawed defence of banking exception fees yesterday.
The Obama administration is pressing the Israeli government to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas, U.S. and Israeli officials said, seeking a visible symbol of progress on peace that might inspire Arab states to consider normalizing relations with Jerusalem.
The administration's effort is being accompanied by greater willingness by U.S. lawmakers to complain publicly about settlements, but it has been complicated by an unwritten agreement on the issue between Israel and the United States reached during the Bush administration.
Millions worldwide rejoiced in January when Obama entered the White House & said torture would cease.
During Barack Obama's inauguration speech, it was striking to hear him declare that "we are a nation of Christians and Muslims" - indicating that both have the right to live and practice their religions in America, free from discrimination.
Gollob points to a machine that easily fits in a bag the size of a woman's purse. It's a universal translator. It is being tested in Iraq by DARPA - the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - the legendary research and development works in Arlington where Gollob is a contractor.
The machine interprets the spoken word. You talk in English. It repeats whatever you said in spoken Iraqi Arabic. It then awaits a spoken response from the Iraqi, and talks back to you in English.
Anthony Steen said public "jealousy" was fuelling the furore and claimed that taxpayers have no right to see the details of individual MPs' claims.
Mr Steen made his comments in a BBC interview shortly after announcing that he would be standing down at the next election. His decision came after it emerged that he claimed £87,729 over four years to maintain his Devon country house. The payments included money to inspect some of the 500 trees surrounding the property and to guard his shrubs from rabbits.
President Obama today signed into law a bill that prevents credit card companies from raising interest rates arbitrarily and limits the fees they can charge, meeting his own deadline of enacting the bill before Memorial Day.
"Just as we demand credit card users act responsibly, we demand that credit card companies act responsibly too," he said before signing the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act.
Unrepentant and newly unbridled, former vice president Richard B. Cheney has embraced two missions in his political retirement: to forcefully defend the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies and to publicly condemn those who would unravel them.
He did both yesterday, using the drama of a televised feud with President Obama to deliver the blistering accusation that more Americans are likely to die because the president has turned away from George W. Bush's post-Sept. 11, 2001, national security agenda. Cheney seemed eager to fan the flames of the debates raging through Washington.
It is truly an amazing hat.
That's the kind of hat that if anyone other than a priest were seen to be wearing it, small children would point and whoop with laughter, adults would purse their lips in concern and cross the street to avoid it, and concerned policemen would pull over to politely ask, "Do you need some assistance, sir? Are you on any medication?"
Tasmanian devils with large facial tumours were photographed in north-east Tasmania during 1996. A decade later, we know these characteristics are consistent with Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) - a fatal condition in Tasmanian devils, characterised by cancers around the mouth and head.
As at December 2008, the Tasmanian devil disease had been confirmed at 64 different locations across more than 60% of Tasmania's mainland.