Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!!!!

WNU Editor: Another year .... another 10,000 posts .... 1,000,000 visitors .... 2,000,000+ page views .... reaching an worldwide audience that (and this is what always amazes little me) includes Generals, diplomats, soldiers, intelligence officials, foreign governments and their military organizations, students, teachers, well known cartoonists, actors and actresses, journalists and bloggers, the average Joe and Jane, and (according to sitemeter IP address reader) a regular and daily visitor from someone in the White House .... yup .... it's been an interesting year. But first things first .... I want to wish a Happy New Year to all of my readers .... supporters and critics .... whose feedback I always look forward to and crave. I know that 2014 will be just as exciting and interesting as 2013, and I look forward to even more of your comments and feedback. In the next few weeks I am going to FINALLY update my blogroll on the left side of this blog as well as starting and maintaining a Facebook page. There will also be a few other changes, and I will provide more info when it happens. So again ... a Happy New Year to all of you .... and thank you again for your interest in this humble little blog.

Regular blogging will return tomorrow morning when I wake up .... hangover and all. :)

What If Israel Attacked Iran's Plutonium Reactor?

Satellite images, released by Google, show how Iran's heavy water reactor and heavy water plant at Arak has changed over the past year. New buildings are highlighted on the right-hand panel. The IR-40 reactor was inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in October 2011. The agency said in its recent report that, "construction of the facility was ongoing and the coolant heat exchangers had been installed". BBC

Iran’s Vexing Plutonium Reactor -- S. Fred Singer, Washington Times

A successful Israeli strike against it would ‘shuffle the deck’

Iran has been constructing a “heavy-water” nuclear reactor near Arak, capable of producing weapons-grade Plutonium-239 — sufficient for about one bomb per year. This program is in addition to the ongoing production of fissionable Uranium-235 by isotope enrichment with centrifuges.

The Geneva Interim Agreement, announced in November, would stop Iran’s reactor construction — at least according to the White House press release. Iran does not share this interpretation. Negotiations are continuing in Vienna to try to settle this dispute.

Meanwhile, Israel, not bound by the Geneva Agreement, may decide to bomb the Arak reactor and eliminate one sure route for Iran to gain a nuclear weapon. In 1981, Israel bombed Osiris, a similar reactor, under construction in Iraq. In Sept 2007, in Operation “Mivtza Bustan” (“Orchard”), Israel destroyed a plutonium reactor being built by Syria — with North Korean assistance and financed by Iran — at al-Kibar, Syria. (Ironically, the term “bustan,” identical in both Arabic and Hebrew, is not of Semitic origin, but a loan word from classical Persian.)

Read more ....

My Comment: I do not see such an attack happening now .... and in the short term. Israel's military capabilities are limited, and any strike against Iran will need to target more than one site.

Could Today's NSA Surveillance Program Stopped The 9/11 Plot?

Would NSA Surveillance Have Stopped 9/11 Plot? -- Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

(CNN) -- The Obama administration has framed its defense of the controversial bulk collection of all American phone records as necessary to prevent a future 9/11.

During a House Intelligence Committee hearing on June 18, NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander said, "Let me start by saying that I would much rather be here today debating this point than trying to explain how we failed to prevent another 9/11."

This closely mirrors talking points by the National Security Agency about how to defend the program.

In the talking points, NSA officials are encouraged to use "sound bites that resonate," specifically, "I much prefer to be here today explain these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent."

On Friday in New York, Judge William H. Pauley III ruled that NSA's bulk collection of American telephone records is lawful. He cited Alexander's testimony and quoted him saying, "We couldn't connect the dots because we didn't have the dots."

Read more ....

My Comment: Some have speculated that the Pentagon's Able Danger program was successful in identifying some of the 9/11 conspirators. But the bottom line is still the same .... we will never know. As to future terror plots .... let can hope that luck will be on our side.

Here Are Seven 'Autocrats' That Are Supported By U.S. Military Aid

Hamid Karzai at an Afghan National Military Academy ceremony in March 2010. NATO photo

Seven Autocrats Backed by U.S. Military Aid -- Robert Beckhusen & War is Boring staff

With friends like these …

Autocrats. Potentates. Plutocrats. It’s no exaggeration to say the U.S. has a lot of less-than-democratic friends around the world.

Some of them came to power by killing their rivals. Others came to power through elections only to fix the next vote—or employed autocratic means to consolidate control under the veneer of democratic legitimacy. Then there are the autocrats who rose to power within undemocratic systems while being supported by Washington.

Granted, the U.S. has fewer dictatorial allies today than during the height of the Cold War, when much of the Third World lived under despots backed by either Washington or Moscow. But more than zero is still too many. From south of the border to Africa and the Middle East, here are seven.

Read more ....

My Comment: At least this list is smaller than what it was a few decades ago .... we can at least hope that this trend will continue.

Preventing War Between China And Japan

How To Prevent A War Between China And Japan -- Kishore Mahbubani, Bloomberg

China and Japan, Asia’s two most powerful nations, are increasingly jousting in the skies and in the seas near a set of disputed islands. Although their economies remain deeply intertwined, relations between the two governments seem locked in an irreversible, dangerous downward spiral.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe further embittered feelings last week by visiting the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honors the souls of Japan’s war dead, including 14 World War II leaders convicted as Class-A war criminals.

Needless to say, neither side seems terribly interested in a rapprochement. That’s a shame, because the deterioration in ties is fairly recent, stemming from a single incident involving the islands administered by Japan, which calls them the Senkakus, and claimed by China, which refers to them as the Diaoyu. A single, symbolic-but-generous gesture could well halt the slide.

Read more ....

My Comment: There is more to the China-Japan dispute than just a few islands and some resources in the ocean. These two countries have been bitter rivals for over a century, and with this bad history it is going to take a long time before this "rivalry" has been dissipated.

Four Asian-Pacific Flashpoints To Watch In 2014

Four Flashpoints To Watch In 2014 -- Harry Kazianis, The Diplomat

After a tense 2013, don’t expect the Asia-Pacific to be any less fraught next year.

Without question, 2013 was a jam-packed year for national security, defense and foreign policy watchers in the Asia-Pacific. What will 2014 bring? Look for next year’s major flashpoints to include mostly familiar themes from the last few years – and almost all include China, one way or another. Below are my top four flashpoints to watch out for in 2014, in ascending order. Think I missed something? Please place your comments below!

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My Comment:  I see the same tensions continuing in 2014.

After 45 Years With The Agency This CIA Employee Is Retiring

Bernard Thornton sits in his car on his second-to-last day inside the agency Ford Expedition that he drives for the CIA. Courtesy of CIA

Mr. Thornton Ends Career As A CIA Driver With Stories To Tell -- Washington Post

The way Mr. Thornton tells the story, it was shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, and he suddenly needed to drive the CIA’s No. 3 official to a secret location three hours away in Virginia. His boss, A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, was running late, so Mr. Thornton — a fedora-wearing septuagenarian who everyone, even agency directors, called by that honorific — would need to use his lead foot.

“It was at one of these undercover places, and we were doing 80 miles per hour. One time, I hit 100. But I got Buzzy there 15 minutes before the meeting,” said Mr. Thornton, 79, who insists that he cannot remember much else about the drive and why the meeting was so urgent. “All I knew about it was that it was a secret place,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”

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My Comment: I can only imagine the stories that Mr. Thornton can tell .... but .... we all know that he cannot talk about.

A List Of The 50 Most Violent Cities In The World

A military police officer gestures while stopping a vehicle at a checkpoint in the neighbourhood of Flor del Campo in Tegucigalpa October 14, 2013. Jorge Cabrera / REUTERS

The 50 Most Violent Cities In The World -- Business Insider

Drug trafficking, gang wars, political instability, corruption, and poverty have combined to make Latin America by far the most homicidal region of the world.

Despite having around 9% of the world's population, the region is home to 28% of the world's murders, according to the United Nations. (Note: This article previously cited data from a few years ago showing that 42% of global homicides were in the region.

The highest murder rate of all is in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, with 169 homicides per 100,000 people, according to a study published earlier this year by Mexico's Citizens' Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice. The ranking is based on 2012 data, except for San Pedro Sula and Distrito Central in Honduras, where authorities would not cooperate and 2011 data was used.

The study does not count deaths in a war zone or cities where data was not available.

Forty-one of the top 50 dangerous cities are located in Latin America. U.S. cities also made the list, lead by New Orleans at 17th, along with Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Oakland.

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My Comment: These are very grim statistics .... with the Americas being the most homicidal region in the world.

Is China Building It's Own Version Of The B-2 Bomber?

Is This China's New Stealth Bomber? -- Dan Lamothe, Foreign Policy

For years, the world has watched as China has moved toward developing a new, long-range stealth bomber. It received the first of them -- the Hongzha-6K -- last year, alarming analysts who suggested in a November report to Congress that it could potentially be used to carry nuclear weapons.

Photographs circulating online this week raise the prospect that the twin-engine Hongzha-6K may not be the only plane the Chinese are preparing to field. Grainy images show a B-2-like bomber taxiing down a runway on what it is purportedly Chinese soil. They were posted on the Chinese website Tiexue with speculation that it's yet another new advanced stealth bomber for the Beijing's rapidly-advancing military.

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My Comment: It looks like a version of the B-2 .... but until someone produces a better quality picture, this talk of a new Chinese stealth bomber is just speculation.

The Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On A Mind-Control Program

Dr. Bill van Bise, electrical engineer, conducting a demonstration of Soviet scientific data and schematics for beaming a magnetic field into the brain to cause visual hallucinations. Source: CNN Source: Supplied

Exposed: The Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On Mind-Control Program -- News.com.au

THE race to put man on the Moon wasn't enough of a battle for the global super powers during the Cold War.

At the time, the Soviet Union and the United States were in an arms race of a bizarre, unconventional kind - that has been exposed in a new report.

The Soviets poured at least $1 billion into developing mind-controlling weaponry to compete with similar programs undertaken in the US.

While much still remains classified, we can now confirm the Soviets used methods to manipulate test subjects' brains.

The paper, by Serge Kernbach, at the Research Centre of Advanced Robotics and Environmental Science in Stuttgart, Germany, details the Soviet Union's extensive experiments, called "psychotronics". The paper is based on Russian technical journals and recently declassified documents outlining practices from 1917 to 2003.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That The Soviet Union Spent $1 Billion On A Mind-Control Program

Did Soviets really spend $1billion on mind control programme? Report 'reveals secretive parapsychology operations dating back to 1917' -- Daily Mail
Exposed: The Soviet Union spent $1 billion on mind-control program -- The Telegraph
The Soviet Union spent $1 billion on mind-control experiments -- The Verge
The USSR spent $1B on mind-control programs -- New York Post
Billion dollar race: Soviet Union vied with US in ‘mind control research’ -- RT
Soviets Spent $1 Billion on "Unconventional" Science and Mind Control -- Gizmodo

A Russian Military Farewell For Mikhail Kalashnikov Creator Of The AK-47

Hundreds Of Soldiers Turn Out To Honour Mikhail Kalashnikov As The Creator Of The World's Most Lethal Weapon Is Laid To Rest In A New Cemetery For National Heroes -- Daily Mail

* Former Russian peasant designed the AK-47 after the Second World War
* Popular with militants, the gun is still made in his home city of Izhevsk
* Its low price and wide production made it synonymous with mass killing
* Inventor insisted he created it to 'defend the fatherland' of Soviet Union
* He never wanted to design guns and would rather have built a lawnmower
* There is one Kalashnikov for every 70 people in the world

Hundreds of soldiers attended the funeral of Mikhail Kalashnikov today to pay their final respects to the designer of the assault rifle that has killed more people than any other firearm in the world.

Kalashnikov, who created the AK-47 more than 60 years ago, died in hospital on Monday at the age of 94.

He was today buried with full state honours at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery (FVMK) - a newly opened cemetery for national heroes - in Mytishchi outside Moscow, the defence ministry said.

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My Comment: His weapon has killed more people than any other firearm in the world .... hmmmm .... this is a legacy that I would not want to have.

Top U.S. Navy Videos of 2013

Drone's Launch, Landing Among Navy's Top Videos -- Virginia-Pilot

The U.S. Navy announced its top five most-played videos in 2013, and among them are the successful catapult and landing of the X-47B from the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush.

While the catapult grabbed third place with 1.25 million views, the unmanned warplane's first successful landing garnered second place with 2.86 million views, according to the Navy.

The Navy video that got the top spot with 5.22 million views was the operational test of the Laser Weapon System when it was temporarily installed aboard the guided missile destroyer Dewey in San Diego.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: All five videos are here.

The Pentagon's Drone Plans For The Next 25 Years In One Chart

(Department of Defense)
(Click on Image to Enlarge)

The Next 25 Years In Military Drone Technology, In 1 Chart -- Washington Post

With so much attention being devoted to commercial drones these days, it's easy to forget that the military's long-term strategy for unmanned systems is still a work in progress. A lot of the funding for drone operations comes from the special budget for the war in Afghanistan — and as the drawdown begins, that money is going to dry up.

That's a big problem for the military. It now has to transform what was originally a stopgap solution into a sustainable function of the armed services. That process is also going to grant drones a more important place in combat, according to the latest revision to a 25-year roadmap the Pentagon released this week. Depending on the kind of drone we're talking about — unmanned aerial systems (UAS), unmanned ground systems (UGS) or unmanned maritime systems (UMS) — the Pentagon foresees an array of different problems that all need to be tackled over the next quarter century.

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My Comment: Talk ambitious being ambitious .... especially the last part .... "autonomous missions worldwide".

U.S. Government Announces Six Drone Test Sites

A small drone helicopter operated by a paparazzi records singer Beyonce Knowles-Carter (not seen) as she rides the Cyclone rollercoaster while filming a music video on Coney Island in New York August 29, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

U.S. Cracks Open Skies To Testing, Use Of Aerial Drones -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The U.S. aviation regulator took a step toward opening the skies to aerial drones on Monday, authorizing six sites where unmanned aircraft can be tested for a variety of uses.

The Federal Aviation Administration already has approved limited use of drones in the U.S. for law enforcement, surveillance, atmospheric research and other applications.

But Monday's move will give companies, universities and other entities locations at which to test much broader use, such as crop spraying, catching exotic-animal poachers or delivering packages.

"It provides the platform for this research to be carried out on a very large scale across the country," Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta told reporters.

The first test site is expected to be open in six months and the sites will operate at least until February 2017.

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More News On The U.S. Government Announcing Six Drone Test Sites

U.S. Names Domestic Test Sites for Drone Aircraft -- New York Times
FAA picks sites for drone testing -- Washington Post
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft -- AP
FAA picks six states for drone testing -- Washington Post
Drones to Take Flight at Six Test Sites Chosen by FAA -- Bloomberg Businessweek
FAA names 6 sites for testing drones -- USA Today
Six states chosen as drone testing sites; California among losers -- L.A. Times
The 6 lucky states that’ll shape the future of drone technology -- Washington Post
US announces six drone test sites -- BBC
Drones over America: Virginia, five other states picked for drone testing sites -- Washington Times
Feds announce drone testing sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia -- Global Post/Canadian Press

Seven Countries To Watch In 2014

World In Turmoil: Seven Countries To Watch In 2014 -- NBC

The world will face countless challenges in 2014, but a few nations in flux stand out in the crowd. NBC News correspondents and writers explain how the outcome of wars, negotiations and elections in these countries could have a deep impact on their own populations and regions, and sometimes the world.


With the Taliban resurgent as most American and other foreign troops get ready to leave in 2014, desperately poor Afghanistan is a country riddled with fear and uncertainty.

"The mood is not good," said Wadeer Safi, who has been a professor of political science at Kabul University for 25 years. "Without Western support there will be chaos ... there is even potential for civil war."

Many believe that key to the country’s future is a U.S.-Afghan security agreement that would allow some American troops to remain in the country beyond 2014 and open the door to billions of dollars in foreign aid.

President Hamid Karzai has not signed the pact despite the unanimous endorsement of it at a recent meeting of tribal elders and other dignitaries.

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My Comment: I would also add to this list Iraq, Iran, North Korea, South Sudan, Nigeria, DR Congo, and .... the most important country on my list .... the U.S..

Are The Terror Attacks In Volgograd A Prelude To What Will Be Happening At The Sochi Olympics?

Russian Terror Attacks Could Be Chilling Prelude To Olympic Violence, Say Experts -- FOX News

A pair of suicide bombings that left 31 dead in Russia could be a chilling tune-up for the Olympic Games, where a Muslim terrorist leader has vowed to put Chechnya’s long-standing grievance with Moscow in the international spotlight, according to terrorism experts.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the twin bombings, which occurred less than 24 hours apart in the city of Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, terror experts strongly suspect they were inspired, if not ordered, by Chechen Muslim rebel leader Doku Umarov. Umarov, who calls himself the emir of the terror group the Caucasus Emirate, has called on Muslims to attack civilians and to prevent the Olympics from occurring.

The games, scheduled to begin in six weeks in Sochi, the Black Sea resort about 400 miles southwest of Volgograd, are "Satanic dancing on the bones of our ancestors," Umarov said in a video released online in July.

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My Comment: So much for honoring the concept of an "Olympic truce".

Monday, December 30, 2013

Something To Think About

Assembling B-25 bombers at North American Aviation, Kansas City, Kansas. October 1942. Wikipedia

Interesting ........................

During the 3-1/2 years of World War 2 that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ended with the Surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, America produced:

22 aircraft carriers

8 battleships

48 cruisers

349 destroyers

420 destroyer escorts

203 submarines

34 million tons of merchant ships

100,000 fighter aircraft

98,000 bombers

24,000 transport aircraft

58,000 training aircraft

93,000 tanks

257,000 artillery pieces

105,000 mortars

3,000,000 machine guns AND

2,500,000 military trucks

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy , won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb and ultimately conquered Japan and Germany .

It should be noted that during a similar amount of time the current Federal bureaucracy couldn't build a functioning web site.

WNU Editor
: Hat Tip to Theo Spark

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- December 30, 2013

The Coming Bloodbath in Syria -- Andrew L. Peek, The Fiscal Times

Barrel bombs are the new normal. These crude weapons are filled with TNT and dropped from Syrian government aircraft. On December 28th, they obliterated part of a market in Aleppo and killed at least 25 people, including children.

Their crudeness is useful—a more sophisticated weapon might blur the disastrous disconnect between Obama’s post-power fantasy of a foreign policy and the realpolitik knife-fight reality of the Syrian war. Already, this conflict has killed roughly as many people as did the Bosnian genocide, and there’s no relief in sight. Once Assad wins the war, the killing will only continue.

Read more ....


Syrians cannot afford for next year to be like this year -- Jim Murphy, New Statesman

Syria and the banality of evil -- Michael Young, NOW

How al-Qaeda Changed the Syrian War -- Sarah Birke, New York Review Of Books

Al-Qaeda's Big Year -- Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Politico Magazine

It’s going to get bad fast between Israel and the US -- Lazar Berman, Times of Israel

Self-defense - Israel’s only option? -- Jagdish N. Singh, Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia Seeks to Extend Influence-Buying With Lebanon Arms -- Glen Carey and Donna Abu-Nasr, Bloomberg Businessweek

Iran, Turkey’s New Ally? -- Vali R. Nasr, New York Times

Brotherhood rightly branded terrorist -- Linda S. Heard, Gulf News

The rising tide of India-Japan relations -- Vivek Sengupta, Pragati

Japan's Abe Gets the Silent Treatment in China -- Adam Minter, Bloomberg

South Sudan must resolve ethnic conflicts to be a nation at peace -- Abdul Mohammed and Alex de Waal, Washington Post

Central African Republic needs international help -- Dieudonné Nzapalainga and Omar Kabine Layama, Washington Post

The South Sudan Clashes Are No Tribal War -- Valentino Deng, Daily Beast

The Volgograd bombs are a warning over Olympic excess -- Simon Jenkins, The Guardian

A Mission Gone Wrong. Why are we still fighting the drug war? -- Mattathias Schwartz, New Yorker

Iraqi Security Forces And Sunni Protestors Battle In Anbar Province

Gunmen takeover a police vehicle in Ramadi on Dec. 30, 2013, as fighting broke out when Iraqi police moved to dismantle a Sunni Muslim protest camp in the western Anbar province on Monday, leaving at least 13 people dead, police and medical sources said. (ALI AL-MASHHADANI/Reuters)

Fighting Erupts As Iraq Police Break Up Sunni Protest Camp -- Daily Star/Reuters

RAMADI, Iraq: Fighting erupted when Iraqi police broke up a Sunni Muslim protest camp in the western Anbar province on Monday, leaving at least 13 people dead, police and medical sources said.

The camp has been an irritant to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite Muslim-led government since Sunni protesters set it up a year ago to demonstrate against what they see as marginalisation of their sect.

The operation triggered an immediate political backlash as dozens of Sunni lawmakers offered their resignations.

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More News On Iraq Police Breaking Up A Sunni Protest Camp

Iraq says dismantling of Sunni protest camp complete -- Global Post/AFP
At least 13 dead after Iraqi police tear down Sunni Muslim protest camp -- Global Post
Iraqi police dismantle Sunni protest in west after months-long demonstration -- FOX News/AP
Clashes kill 10 as Iraq forces clear Sunni protest camp -- Global Post/AFP
Iraqi Forces Raid Sunni Protest Camp -- Wall Street Journal
Deadly Clashes Between Iraqi Forces and Tribal Fighters in Anbar -- New York Times
Ramadi mosques call for 'jihad' as Iraq forces move on protest site -- Ahram Online/AFP
Violence endangers Anbar peace agreement -- Iraqi Oil Report
Iraqi MPs resign following clearance of Sunni protest camp -- Deutsche Welle
44 Iraq MPs resign after protest camp cleared -- Global Post/AFP

My Comment: This raid is only going to inflame sectarian tensions.

Al Qaeda's Accounting Books Revealed

Receipts: This receipt for groceries, which includes prices paid for tomatoes, onions, charcoal, meat and a lightbulb, was retrieved from a building occupied by al-Qaida's North African branch in Timbuktu, Mali

The Thrifty Terrorists: Receipts Reveal How al-Qaida Records Every Expense Down To 60 Cents For Cake And A $1.60 Pot Of Mustard -- Daily Mail/AP

* The extremists left more than 100 receipts in a building occupied by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu earlier this year
* They assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb
* The often tiny amounts are carefully written out in pencil and colored pen on scraps of paper and Post-it notes

Al-Qaida is obsessed with documenting the most minute expenses, collecting receipts for every purchase from a 60 cent piece of cake to a $1.60 pot of mustard.

In more than 100 receipts left in a building occupied by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu earlier this year, the extremists assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb.

The often tiny amounts are carefully written out in pencil and colored pen on scraps of paper and Post-it notes: The equivalent of $1.80 for a bar of soap; $8 for a packet of macaroni; $14 for a tube of super glue.

The accounting system on display in the documents found by The Associated Press is a mirror image of what researchers have discovered in other parts of the world where al-Qaida operates, including Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq.

Read more ....

More News On Al Qaeda's Book Keeping Records

A look at al-Qaida’s priorities through receipts -- Washington Post/AP
Seized receipts reveal al-Qaida's meticulous book-keeping -- The Independent
Al Qaeda Are Strict About Keeping Track of Their Receipts -- The Wire

China Will Not Meet Japan's Primie Minister After His War Shrine Visit

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd L) is led by a Shinto priest as he visits Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo December 26, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

Chinese Refuse To Meet Japan’s Premier After His War Shrine Visit -- New York Times

BEIJING — China’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that Chinese leaders, angered over a visit last week by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to a contentious war shrine in Tokyo, would not meet with Mr. Abe.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said at a regularly scheduled news conference in Beijing that Mr. Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which houses the remains of some convicted war criminals from the World War II era, was tantamount to honoring “fascists” and “the Nazis of Asia.” Mr. Qin’s statements were the strongest public remarks made by China against Mr. Abe.

Mr. Abe has been asking for high-level talks with China to discuss points of tension in East Asia. In recent years, the China-Japan relationship has worsened because of disputes over territory in the East China Sea. Most recently, Japan and other countries expressed surprise and anger over China’s efforts to expand its flight identification zone in the region.

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More News On China's Refusal To Meet Japan's Primie Minister After His War Shrine Visit

China says Abe not welcome after war shrine visit -- Washington Post/AP
China says Japan PM 'shuts door' on talks with war shrine visit -- Reuters
Japan PM Abe 'not welcome' by Chinese people, says Beijing -- AFP
China Says It Will Shun Abe After Shrine Visit -- Wall Street Journal
Chinese ambassador to Japan blasts Abe's shrine visit -- Xinhuanet
No dialogue with Abe after shrine visit: FM -- Global Times/Xinhua

Terror Attack Twarted In China's Xinjiang Province

Eight Killed in Attack on Chinese Police Station -- Voice of America

Police in China's restive far western region of Xinjiang say eight attackers were shot dead during in assault on a police station, raising the death toll from violent clashes in the province to at least 35 since November.

Authorities also said one of the nine attackers was captured in Monday's pre-dawn attack. There was no mention of any police casualties.

“At around 6:30 am, nine thugs carrying knives attacked a police station in Kashgar's Yarkand county, throwing explosive devices and setting police cars on fire,” the regional government said in a statement.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Terror Attack Thwarted In China's Xinjiang Province

Chinese police kill eight in Xinjiang 'terrorist attack' -- Reuters
China police kill eight in Xinjiang clash -- BBC
8 people killed in violence in China's Xinjiang region -- CNN
Chinese police shoot eight 'terrorists' dead in ethnically tense western region -- The Independent
Police gun down 8 'terrorists' in Xinjiang -- Al Jazeera
8 dead in Xinjiang terror attack -- Global Times
Chinese police shoot 8 Muslim Uighur ‘terrorists’ in Xinjiang -- The National
China Kills Eight Muslims, Calls Them 'Terrorists'; What's the Truth? -- Johnlee Varghese, International Business Times

Reports Of Heavy Gunfire In The Central African Republic's Capital

Heavy Weapons Fire Breaks Out In Central African Republic's Capital -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Heavy weapons fire rang out in the north of Central African Republic's capital Bangui early on Monday in what the government said were clashes with Christian militias.

French and African troops have struggled to contain violence between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militias that has already killed 1,000 people this month and displaced hundreds of thousands.

"There was heavy weapons fire north of Bangui for a few hours and several neighborhoods were affected," Amy Martin, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bangui told Reuters.

A Reuters witness in the capital reported shell explosions and mortar fire, adding that it had stopped by late morning.

Read more ....

More News On The Continuing Violence In The Central African Republic

Central African Republic: Troops struggle to contain violence -- Christian Science Monitor/Reuters
Central African Republic: African Union to Sign Troop Agreement With Rwanda -- allAfrica.com
Thousands flood camp in Central African Republic -- Reuters
Hundreds attempt to flee Central African Republic on emergency flights -- Independent.ie
Chadian refugees recount horror after C.Africa attacks -- AFP
Children 'beheaded and mutilated' in Central African Republic, says Unicef -- The Guardian

Heavy Fighting Reported In South Sudan -- News Updates December 30, 2013

S. Sudan Rebel Leader Warned To Comply with Cease-Fire -- Voice of America

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says East African nations have warned South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar to comply with a cease-fire or face action by regional nations.

Museveni, who met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in South Sudan's capital Juba Monday, said Machar had been given four days to respond to the offer.

Regional leaders are pressing for face-to-face talks between Kiir and Machar, his deposed vice president, by December 31.

Read more ....

More News On The Growing Violence In South Sudan

Battles rage in South Sudan as ceasefire hopes fade -- Global Post/AFP
Uganda deploys troops to South Sudan; UN says up to 180,000 now displaced by violence -- FOX News/AP
Uganda deploys troops to South Sudan amid unrest -- Washington Post/AP
Uganda says region ready to take on, defeat S. Sudan rebel leader -- Reuters
South Sudan army says fighting rebels in flashpoint state capital -- Reuters
South Sudan: Conflicting reports over White Army clashes -- BBC
UN Concerned South Sudan Armed Youth Advancing in Jonglei State -- Bloomberg Businessweek
South Sudan: White Army advances, Uganda troops deepen conflict -- Christian Science Monitor
South Sudan forces battle ‘White Army’ militia -- Washington Post/Reuters
South Sudan Accuses Rebels of Mobilizing 'White Army' -- Voice of America/Reuters
United Nations Says Thousands Displaced By Violence in South Sudan -- Time
Thousands of South Sudanese seeking refuge on U.N. base remain too afraid to return home -- Washington Post
South Sudan: Uprising in a state that cannot afford independence -- Andre Vltchek, RT

World News Briefs -- December 30, 2013

Second Blast in Russia Stokes Olympic Security Fears -- Wall Street Journal

Blast Is Volgograd's Second in 24 Hours

OSCOW—A suicide bomber struck in the southwest Russian city of Volgograd on Monday morning, killing at least 14 people aboard a crowded trolley bus in the city's second terrorist attack in less than 24 hours, stoking security fears in the country ahead of the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered security to be tightened around the country following the second attack, which comes less than six weeks before the games are set to start in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, raising questions whether the violence could threaten to tarnish an event on which Mr. Putin has staked his personal pride and spent $50 billion to stage.

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Syrian government evacuates embattled town.

Lebanese troops fire at Syrian warplanes.

Clashes erupt as Iraq police move on Sunni protest camp.

Eight killed in attack on south Yemen army base.

Bahrain says foils 'terror' attempts, seizes explosives, weapons.

Israel warns Lebanon to constrain cross-border fire.

Erdogan vows Turkish graft affair will fail to topple him.

Iran hopes to implement nuclear deal within month.

Saudi royal faces death penalty for murder: newspaper.


Afghanistan rejects grim U.S. intelligence forecast as baseless.

Chinese police shoot dead eight after Xinjiang 'terrorist attack'.

China says Japan PM 'shuts door' on talks with war shrine visit.

China formally eases one-child policy, abolishes labor camps.

Thailand's army moves to allay coup fears.

Bangladesh activists clash with police at polls protest.

Facing treason charges, Pakistan's former Presdient Musharraf is defiant.


Heavy weapons fire breaks out in Central African Republic's capital.

South Sudan: White Army advances, Uganda troops deepen conflict. Uganda says region ready to take on, defeat S. Sudan rebel leader.

DR Congo 'repulses' TV, airport and army base attacks.

Nigeria: Military bombards insurgents in Borno village.

Egyptian military injured in bomb attack.

Libyan oil guards threaten to block gas pipeline to Tripoli: sources.

African Union to sign troop agreement with Rwanda.

South Sudan conflict: Fears for isolated children.

U.S., Libyan forces capture Tunisian militant leader: media.


Second deadly blast hits Russian city of Volgograd ahead of 2014 Sochi Olympics.

US condemns Russian suicide bombing.

Suicide bombings send shivers through Russia as Sochi Olympics near.

Fresh Ukraine protests draw thousands onto Kiev streets.

France's 75% tax rate gains approval by top court.

Shots fired at German ambassador's home in Athens.

Greek prison system collapsing.


CNN Poll: Afghanistan war arguably most unpopular in U.S. history.

US Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft.

El Salvador volcano erupts, evacuations ordered.

A civil servant in Mexico tests U.S. on asylum.

Buenos Aires power supply disrupted in heatwave.

U.S. population growth slows.


Russia terrorist attack highlights increase in female suicide bombers.

FBI: Homegrown terrorists don’t fit just one profile.

The thrifty terrorists: Receipts reveal how al-Qaida records every expense down to 60 cents for cake and a $1.60 pot of mustard.

Issa: Benghazi 'is not about al Qaeda'.


World shares hover near 6-year high, euro gains.

US public finance: Day of reckoning.

The biggest financial news stories of 2013.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- Dcember 30, 2013

U.S. Cold War Rivals China, Russia Step Up Challenges To Obama’s Asia Pivot -- Washington Times

Russia bullies Ukraine and pushes its claims to the North Pole, while Beijing beefs up naval patrols in the South China Sea and challenges U.S. allies on its borders. As the Obama administration attempts an ambitious reorientation of the nation’s strategic and diplomatic focus, two regional powerhouses and former Cold War adversaries are showing themselves increasingly keen to challenge Washington’s dominance on the world stage.

Foreign policy analysts say recent moves by Moscow and Beijing have been far-reaching, heavy with symbolism and clear tests of President Obama’s intentions and resolve.

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Saudi Arabia 'to give Lebanon army $3bn grant' -- BBC

Iraq To Become Third Largest Russian Arms Purchaser -- Iraqi Business News

Indian govt clears proposal for buying 15 UAVs from Israel -- Times of India

Push to recruit Arab Christians into Israeli army -- Washington Post/AP

Russia Commissions New Attack Submarine -- RIA Novosti

Russia’s Navy Rising -- Thomas Fedyszyn, National Interest

2013 Chinese Naval Review -- Information Dissemination

Former aide to retired Chinese security chief probed for graft -- Reuters

Warplanes: France Gets Its Reapers And Puts Them To Work -- Strategy Page

African Union to Sign Troop Agreement with Rwanda -- Voice of America

U.S. defense chief voices concern in call to Egypt army head -- Reuters

Finally Futenma: The Air Base Deal’s Place in The Pivot -- Kevin Baron, Defense One

Preparing for the Pacific pivot -- Stars and Stripes

Army’s ‘Pacific Pathways’ initiative sets up turf battle with Marines -- Washington Post

Pentagon seeks to build a disappearing battery -- USA Today

Opinion: Navy Struggles Over UAS Stealth Level -- Bill Sweetman, Aviation Week

Attrition: Fighter Pilots Doomed By Poverty -- Strategy Page

Military leaders struggled to deal with sequestration, shutdown -- Stars and Stripes

US Army bears brunt of DOD's reductions in Europe -- Stars and Stripes

NSA 'hacking unit' infiltrates computers around the world – report -- The Guardian

Report: NSA intercepts computer deliveries -- Washington Post/AP

Former NSA, CIA boss: Snowden is a ‘traitor’ -- New York Post

The Navy Fraud Scandal That Just Won’t Go Away -- Jordain Carney, The Atlantic

After a Tumultuous Year, Can Defense Industry Get Back to Business in 2014? -- Sandra I. Erwin, National Defense

Will America’s New “Green” Navy be Worth the Cost? -- Matt DiLallo, Motley Fool

The Case for Female SEALs -- Elliot Ackerman, The Atlantic

Top Seven National Security Books from 2013 -- Sara Sorcher, Defense One/National Journal

Afghanistan Rejects Grim U.S. Intelligence Report And Forecast

SEARCH OPERATION - U.S. Army Spc. Austin M. Weyerman and fellow soldiers move into a village with a suspected weapons cache during Operation Southern Fist III in the Spin Boldak district of Afghanistan's Kandahar province, March 3, 2013. The U.S. soldiers, assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, enabled Afghan border police and soldiers to search for weapons caches and eliminate infiltration routes. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann

Afghanistan Rejects Grim U.S. Intelligence Forecast As Baseless -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Afghanistan on Monday rejected as baseless a U.S. intelligence forecast that the gains the United States and allies have made in the past three years will be significantly rolled back by 2017.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate also predicted that Afghanistan would fall into chaos if Washington and Kabul failed to sign a pact to keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014.

President Hamid Karzai's spokesman dismissed the U.S. forecast, reported by the Washington Post on the weekend, and suggested there was an ulterior motive for it.

"We strongly reject that as baseless as they have in the past been proved inaccurate," Faizi told Reuters.

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More News On The U.S. Grim Intelligence Report On Afghanistan

Afghanistan Rejects U.S. Intelligence Forecast -- Radio Free Europe
Afghan Taliban will take back ground vacated by U.S. forces, intelligence survey warns -- The Province/The Telegraph
Insurgents could quickly bounce back in Afghanistan, analysis warns -- L.A. Times
Intelligence estimate reportedly says US gains in Afghanistan may be lost by 2017 -- FOX News
Afghanistan Chaos Seen After U.S. Troop Withdrawal, Post Says -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Afghanistan gains to be lost quickly after troops withdrawal - US intelligence estimate report -- Voice of Russia
US Intel Report: Gains Made In Afghanistan Gone By 2017, Taliban Power Grows -- CBS/AP
Report warns Afghanistan gains could be lost after U.S. withdrawal -- UPI
US report predicts chaos in Afghanistan -- Al Jazeera
U.S. intelligence takes gloomy view of Afghan future -- Pilot Online/Washington Post
Afghanistan will fall into chaos by 2017 -- The Nation
Rocky Future for Afghanistan, US Intelligence Warns -- Voice of America

Rebels Attack The Congolese Capital Of Kinshasa

DRC Government Proclaims Victory Over Armed Attackers -- Voice of America

Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say government troops have beaten back armed attacks at three locations around the capital, killing close to 40 attackers and capturing several more.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende says scores of gunmen attacked the international airport, state television station and army headquarters in Kinshasa. He says several attackers were killed at each of the three locations.

Mende describes the attackers as "terrorists" but says they have not yet been identified. He says the attacks appeared to have no purpose except to disrupt this week's New Year's celebrations.

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More News On Today's Rebel Attack On The Congolese Capital Of Kinshasa

DR Congo 'repulses' TV, airport and army base attacks -- BBC
DR Congo troops ‘regain control’ after attacks -- Euronews
Congolese army regains control of capital -- Al Jazeera
Congo's army repels attacks in Kinshasa, dozens killed -- Reuters
40 killed as heavy gunfire rocks DR Congo capital -- AFP
'Forty killed' in Democratic Republic of Congo uprising -- Deutsche Welle
Gunmen attack airport and state TV centre in DR Congo -- RTE
Congo army clashes with Mukungubila's followers in Lubumbashi -- Global Post

Poll: Afghanistan Is Now America's Most Unpopular War In History

SNOW TREK - U.S. soldiers and Afghan border police hike from their landing zone to Observation Point 12 along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Jan. 21, 2013. The soldiers are assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich

CNN Poll: Afghanistan War Arguably Most Unpopular In U.S. History -- CNN

Washington (CNN) – Support for the war in Afghanistan has dipped below 20%, according to a new national poll, making the country's longest military conflict arguably its most unpopular one as well.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that a majority of Americans would like to see U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan before the December 2014 deadline.

Just 17% of those questioned say they support the 12-year-long war, down from 52% in December 2008. Opposition to the conflict now stands at 82%, up from 46% five years ago.

"Those numbers show the war in Afghanistan with far less support than other conflicts," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Opposition to the Iraq war never got higher than 69% in CNN polling while U.S. troops were in that country, and while the Vietnam War was in progress, no more than six in 10 ever told Gallup's interviewers that war was a mistake."

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More News On Eight Out Of Ten Americans Now Oppose U.S. Military Involvement In Afghanistan

America speaks: Get out of Afghanistan, most say -- Washington Times
Afghanistan war more unpopular than Vietnam -- Washington Post
Poll: Afghan war most unpopular ever -- The Hill
Less Than One In Five Support The War In Afghanistan -- Business Insider
Afghanistan War Poll Shows Support Falling To Below Iraq, Vietnam Levels -- Huffington Post

My Comment: The American public has finally woken up to the fact that it is now time to leave Afghanistan. Let us hope that the politicians and the White House will also wake up.

Second Terror Attack In Two Days Strikes The Russian City Of Volgograd -- News Updates

Second Suicide Bomb In 24 Hours Causes Carnage In Volgograd As Bus Explosion Kills 14 People Six Weeks Ahead Of The Olympics -- Reuters

* 22 others injured, including one-year-old baby in Russian city of Volgograd
* Officials believe suicide bomber was behind the terrorist attack
* Deadly blast comes a day after an attack killed at least 17 people in the main railway station

Russia faces a New Year security nightmare after the second devastating suicide bomb explosion within 24 hours, this time on a rush hour trolley bus in Volgograd.

The latest blast killed at least 14 with 28 wounded, some severely.

A day earlier, an explosion reported as being detonated by a female "black widow" suicide bomber saw 17 killed and dozens wounded in the city's main railway station.

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More News On The Second Terror Attack On The Russian City Of Volgograd

Volgograd trolley bus blast: LIVE UPDATES -- RT
At Least 14 Killed in Second Volgograd Suicide Bombing -- RIA Novosti
Consecutive Volgograd suicide bombing kills at least 14 -- RT
Volgograd blasts: Second suicide bomb hits Russia city -- BBC
Second deadly blast hits Russian city of Volgograd ahead of 2014 Sochi Olympics -- CNN
Second suicide bomber in Russia's Volgograd kills 14 on bus -- Reuters
Volgograd, Russia hit by 2 deadly bombs in 2 days -- CBC/AP
Volgograd bombs: Second blast kills 14 a day after first attack -- The Australian/AFP
Suicide bomber suspected in trolleybus blast in Russia that killed 14 -- UPI
Second suicide attack hits Russia's Volgograd -- Al Jazeera
Male suicide bomber believed behind Russian trolleybus blast -- Reuters
Russia Tightens Security Measures in Wake of Volgograd Attacks -- The Moscow Times
Putin orders increased security nationwide after bombings -- Reuters
Russian press calls for crackdown on terror -- BBC
West should drop 'inconsistent approach' to terrorism after Volgograd bombings -- Neil Clark, RT

Blair-Bush Talks On Iraq War To Be De-Classified And Published

Formal President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair shake hands after their press conference in the East Room of the White House on Friday November 12, 2004. White House photo by Paul Morse.

Blair-Bush Talks On Iraq War To Be Revealed In U-Turn: 100 Secret Documents To Be De-Classified And Published -- Daily Mail

* The Mail has learned civil servants are ‘close’ to a deal to allow publication
* Documents will include telephone records and private notes

More than 100 secret documents detailing the private discussions between Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and George W Bush before the Iraq war are set to be declassified and published.

The Mail has learned senior civil servants are ‘close’ to a deal to let the Chilcot Inquiry into the war publish the documents after more than a year of wrangling.

Records of telephone conversations between Mr Blair and Mr Bush, notes between the two men and even papers documenting Cabinet discussions on the war are expected to be released to the public.

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More News On The Blair-Bush Talks On Iraq War To Be De-Classified And Published

Exclusive: Private talks between Tony Blair and George Bush on Iraq war to be published -- The Independent
Conversations between Tony Blair and George W Bush could be published by Iraq inquiry -- The Telegraph
Chilcot inquiry into Iraq war set to publish findings in new year -- The Guardian
British government will reportedly declassify Bush-Blair talks from Iraq War run-up -- FOX News
Secret pre-Iraq War talks between Blair and Bush to be published -- RT

The Growing France - Saudi Arabia Alliance

French President Francois Hollande (L) meets with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh on December 29, 2013. Press TV

Hollande In Saudi To Talk Regional Politics, Business -- International News

RIYADH: French President Francois Hollande met Saudi King Abdullah on Sunday on a visit aimed at boosting commercial ties and addressing escalating tensions in the Middle East.

The monarch highlighted a "convergence" of positions between the two countries on several issues, a member of Hollande´s entourage said.

Saudi state news agency SPA said the two leaders discussed mutual cooperation and "regional and international developments."

The French president is also due to meet Lebanon´s former premier Saad Hariri and Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba in the kingdom, an entourage member said.

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More News On The The Growing French - Saudi Arabia Alliance

Saudi Arabia to give Lebanon $3-billion to strengthen national army, buy French weapons -- AP
Hollande in Saudi to talk regional politics, commerce -- Global Post/AFP
French president says will supply arms to Lebanon army if asked -- Reuters
Saudi Arabia, France cosying up, Hollande arrives in Riyadh -- NVO News
French president meets Saudi King in Riyadh -- Press TV (Iran)

Saudi Arabia Pledges $3 Billion To Strengthen Lebanon's Army

Saudi Arabia To Inject $3 Bllion Into Lebanese Army -- CNN

(CNN) -- Saudi Arabia pledged $3 billion to the Lebanese Army to strengthen its capabilities, according to Lebanon's state-run news agency.

Lebanon's President Gen. Michel Sleiman said the money will allow the army to buy weapons from France, and he expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia, according to the statement.

"The Saudi aid to the Lebanese Army is the largest in the history of Lebanon," Sleiman said.

The announcement comes as French President Francois Hollande is in Saudi Arabia for talks on the crisis in the Mideast and to strengthen economic ties.

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More News On Saudi Arabia Pledging $3 Billion To Strengthen Lebanon's Army

Saudi Arabia To Give Lebanon $3bn To Strengthen Army -- The Telegraph/AP
Saudi Arabia gives Lebanon $3bn to bolster military -- The Guardian
Saudis Pledge $3 Billion to Support Lebanon's Army -- Wall Street Journal
Saudi Arabia gives $3bn boost to Lebanese army -- Financial Times
Sleiman: Saudis Pledge $3B to Lebanese Army -- Defense News/AFP
As tension rise, Saudi Arabia to give Lebanese army $3 billion -- NBC/Reuters
Saudi to grant Lebanese army 3 billion USD in aid -- Xinhua
Lebanese army gets $3 billion from Saudi Arabia amid regional tensions -- Global Post
Saudi Arabia Pledges Lebanon $3B Grant To Strengthen Army -- RTT
Saudi Arabia to donate $3 billion in military aid -- Gulf Daily News