Friday, December 2, 2011

Surfing The News...LPP FrontLine...24/7...

 Bats: Courtship of Cuban Prospect Yoenis Cespedes Intensifies
Religious leader: Castro expresses concern over humanitarian issues in jailed US man’s case
U.S. contractor to mark two years in Cuba prison
What Easing Cuba Travel Laws Means for Miami's Cuban Exiles
Cuba: 2011 Year in Review
Is it time for Obama to simply ask Cuba's President Castro to free Alan Gross?
Kennedy’s Cuba Crises
US renews calls on Cuba to free jailed contractor

Russia Plans AK-47 Ammo Factory In Cuba

U.S. man losing hope after 2 years in Cuba jail

White House urges Cuba to release U.S. contractor

US cleric: American jailed in Cuba in good spirits

US lawmakers ask Cuba to release jailed contractor

Russia-Cuba to sign deal to make rifle ammunition
Cuba presents advances in agricultural bio-technology
Cuba Creates Its Own Facebook-Like Social Network
Does Miami Matter?


UK: Libya showed Britain needs more NATO influence

LONDON (AP) — Britain's national security adviser says the U.K. must learn lessons from the Libya conflict, including the need for more influence in NATO's command.
In a report published Thursday, Peter Ricketts said Britain also must speed up its operations for evacuating citizens from danger zones.
Ricketts also recommended Britain examines rules which dictate that it only recognizes states, rather than governments.
During the conflict, Britain loosened its rules to formally recognize Libya's transitional national council. However, the U.K. doesn't formally endorse the governments of self-declared states, like Somaliland.
Prime Minister David Cameron says the report shows that Britain's new National Security Council had "proved its worth."

Al-Qaeda claims holding US hostage in Pakistan

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri claims that the terror group is holding hostage a US development worker kidnapped in Pakistan four months ago, according to an online statement seen by monitors.
Warren Weinstein, 70, country director for US-based consultancy J.E. Austin Associates, was snatched after gunmen tricked their way into his home on August 13, days before he was due to return to the United States.
Zawahiri claimed responsibility and demanded that Washington end air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, and release the 1993 World Trade Centre bombers and relatives of Osama bin Laden, to secure Weinstein's release.
"Just as the Americans detain all whom they suspect of links to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, even remotely, we detained this man who has been neck-deep in American aid to Pakistan since the 1970s," the SITE Intelligence Group quoted Zawahiri as saying in a 31-minute video sent to jihadist forums.
The video showed no proof of life for Weinstein, but the message appears to be the first significant lead in the case in weeks.
A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Islamabad said officials there had seen the statement.
"Investigations are still ongoing. We're in regular contact with the family," she told AFP.
Pakistani government officials were not immediately reachable for comment, but police handling the case in the eastern city of Lahore, where Weinstein was snatched, said they were unaware of Al-Qaeda's claim.
"So far nobody has contacted us, nor given any demands," senior police official Ali Aamir Malik, who is supervising investigations, told AFP.
"We do not have proof of life of the US national who had been kidnapped."
Zawahiri, who took over as leader after bin Laden was killed by US commandos in Pakistan in May, also said his number two, Atiyah abd al-Rahman, was killed in a US air strike in Waziristan in Pakistan's tribal northwest in August.
"The retaliation, with permission from Allah, will be taken against those crusader Westerners who killed him and his two sons, and killed hundreds of thousands of our brothers, sons, women, and sheikhs, and occupied our countries (and) looted our wealth," he said.
US officials announced Rahman's death in August but did not provide details.
A claim of a hostage-taking by Al-Qaeda's core structure is seen as rare; such claims by offshoots are far more common.
In January 2002, Al-Qaeda-linked groups kidnapped and beheaded American journalist Daniel Pearl, who worked for the Wall Street Journal, in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi.
Among the list of eight demands in exchange for Weinstein, Al-Qaeda called for the release of "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdul Rahman, Ramzi Yousef and Sayyid Nosair, who are tied to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
SITE said that Zawahiri directly addressed the hostage's family, telling them that US President Barack Obama had the power to secure Weinstein's release but that he was "dodging" his responsibility.
"He might say to you: 'I sought to release your relative, but Al-Qaeda was stubborn.' Do not believe him. He might say to you: 'I tried to contact them and they did not answer.' Do not believe him."
Weinstein's firm does contracting work with the US Agency for International Development. He suffers from asthma, heart problems and high blood pressure, and fears have been growing for his health.
Although Western kidnappings are relatively rare in Pakistan, on July 1 a Swiss couple were snatched while driving through the southwest. The Taliban claimed their kidnapping and the couple have since appeared in two videos.

Icon of US military now in Iraqi hands

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq (AP) — Inside palace walls built by Saddam Hussein, U.S. generals plotted the war's course, tracked the mounting death toll and swore in new American citizens under gaudy glass chandeliers.
Just outside the palace, American troops whacked golf balls into man-made lakes or fished for carp while others sat down with a cigar and a can of nonalcoholic beer hoping for a respite from incoming rockets or mortar shells.
Along another lake some distance away, a jailed Saddam tended to tomatoes and cucumbers in a small, walled-off enclosure with guards patrolling overhead.
Ever since the soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division fought their way into the Baghdad airport grounds nearly nine years ago, the sprawling area they renamed Camp Victory has held a special place in the American military experience in Iraq.
From here, the highest-ranking generals sitting behind banks of telephones and video screens communicated with commanders in the field and political leaders in Washington and dictated strategy that unfolded on the streets of Fallujah, Mosul and Najaf.
It was an intersection in the war where U.S. troops, hot and dusty after traveling across Iraq's deadly roads and highways, could relax with a latte or bootlegged movie before heading back out again.
On Friday, the base that at its height was home to 46,000 people was handed over to the Iraqi government as part of American efforts to move all U.S. troops out of the country by the end of the year.
"The base is no longer under U.S. control and is under the full authority of the government of Iraq," said U.S. military spokesman Col. Barry Johnson.
The area, which the military formally calls Victory Base Complex, was originally used as a country club for the Baghdad elite under Saddam. A visitor can still find small relics of that era, such as signs advising patrons where to park or the hours in which the casino was open.
Saddam built the palace complex near the airport out of embarrassment. During the 1978 Arab League summit he was forced to house incoming dignitaries in private homes in Baghdad because he had no proper accommodations, according to Robert O. Kirkland, a former U.S. military historian who interviewed former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and other Iraqis who were once in American custody.
To rectify the problem, Saddam went on a palace-building spree, eventually building nine buildings of varying size and impressiveness. He gave some of them names that reflected his often convoluted view of the world: Victory over America, Victory over Iran and Victory over Kuwait.
In the run-up to the war, U.S. military planners were confused by a cone-shaped structure they could see from satellite imagery, said Col. Les Melnyk, another former U.S. military historian in Iraq. They labeled it a possible prayer site. It turned out to be a pigeon coop.
Maj. William Sumner was a captain when his unit arrived at Camp Victory in mid-April 2003. He remembers how Iraqi looters managed to get into the complex and make off with geese, pelicans and other animals from a small zoo Saddam had built.
"I think that's when the cougar got out of the enclosure," he said. For weeks afterward, a large feline that Sumner said could have also been a bobcat was spotted wandering around the base.
In the early days after the invasion, soldiers swam in the man-made lakes or toured the islands with paddle boats.
But quickly the atmosphere became more like bases back in the U.S. That meant rules and regulations — and military police to enforce them. Sumner said during his unit's second week at Victory he was pulled over for speeding.
"After we moved onto our other place, we just tried to refuse to go back there whenever possible," he said.
Victory Base Complex was essentially a city, often hit by rockets or mortar shells. One time the violence came from within. In May 2009, a U.S. soldier shot and killed five fellow troops at a combat stress clinic.
The facility was so big it was divided into sections with different names. Troops could travel from Camp Stryker to Camp Liberty without leaving the base. A public bus system with posted routes transported people to the dining facilities, the gym or a dirt speedway where troops and contractors would race remote-controlled cars.
By the numbers supplied by the U.S. military, it was a substantial operation:
— The incinerators destroyed an average of 178,000 pounds of waste a day.
— A water purification plant produced 1.85 million gallons of water a day.
— A bottled water plant filled 500,000 one-liter bottles a day.
— Three separate plants produced 60 megawatts of power a day.
If soldiers grew tired of food at the massive chow halls, they could grab takeout at Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Cinnabon, Burger King or Subway.
At various stores they could buy anything from illegal DVDs to a Harley Davidson motorcycle delivered straight to their door back in the U.S. when they returned from the war. In the early days of the war, troops could even buy Saddam Hussein's personal silverware and place settings.
Troops and contractors visiting from other bases took tours of the palaces.
One particularly entertaining pastime was feeding the carp in the lake surrounding Al Faw palace, where the top generals and U.S. military officials were based. The aggressive fish would jump out of the water for cereal, Girl Scout cookies and Pop Tarts.
Off-limits to most troops: the jail used to house Saddam and some of his cohorts. In a dilapidated, bomb-damaged building encircled by concertina wire, American troops interrogated and guarded the former dictator before he was handed over to the Iraqis and executed in 2006.
The Iraqi government has not yet announced plans for the complex, prime real estate in a country sorely lacking in parks and public spaces. The Iraqi military is already using some parts, and there is talk of turning Saddam's jail cell into a museum.