Pyongyang, capital of the Hermit Kingdom, was overwhelmed by massive crowds as the funeral ceremony for Kim provided the only excitement in North Korea since the Japanese invasion of WW II.
Hans Blix was the head United Nations weapons inspector back in the late nineties. He would often go to North Korea and negotiate with the regime on whether they had weapons of mass destruction. He knows only too well how hard to deal with Kim was.
Video is from Team America movie. Language warning, in the last 10 seconds of the video Kim starts swearing like a drunken Scottish sailor.
The U.S. has finally withdrawn from Iraq leaving that country a train wreck. Now as the U.S. starts to withdraw from Afghanistan the prognosis for the future of that country is just as perilous.
Peace in Afghanistan has never seemed more distant. After a full decade of combat, even after the start of America’s phased military withdrawal, no one has the upper hand, let alone a realistic prospect of actually winning the war. Each party in the conflict—the Americans, their Afghan government allies, and their Afghan Taliban adversaries—has weaknesses and vulnerabilities that preclude a decisive victory. Although peace negotiations might seem like the only sane option in such a stalemate, efforts to bring the insurgents to the table have repeatedly failed. The Taliban’s top leadership has shown not the slightest interest in meaningful talks, or in peace at all.
The insurgents’ rejection of negotiations has nothing to do with how they’re faring on the battlefield. Far from it: in the past two years the U.S. military surge in southern Afghanistan, the Taliban’s traditional heartland, has mostly driven the guerrillas to the peripheries of far-flung villages, if not all the way back to their sanctuaries in Pakistan. The insurgents themselves admit that the coalition’s relentless nighttime commando raids on their hideouts have decimated the ranks of mid- and lower-level Taliban commanders, bomb makers, and operational facilitators. The danger is so great that senior guerrilla commanders rarely set foot on Afghan soil. Instead, the insurgents’ hierarchy spends most of its time hiding in plain sight across the border, safe in Pakistani territory. A senior Taliban commander admitted as much recently while on a rare visit inside Afghanistan. “Taliban fighters can live in Afghanistan, but our leaders can’t,” he told a Newsweek correspondent. “The reason is the night raids.”
U.S. soldiers moving out on a night raid.
That’s not keeping Hamid Karzai from publicly demanding an end to the American-led surprise attacks. Addressing a hand-picked gathering of more than 2,000 Afghan tribal elders and political leaders at a loya jirga (grand assembly) this past November in Kabul, the confident-sounding but increasingly erratic Afghan president announced his willingness to grant U.S. forces a 10-year extension beyond President Obama’s 2014 withdrawal date—on condition, he said, that the Americans no longer be allowed to participate in night raids. Guerrilla leaders dread the thought that the Americans might remain for another decade, crushing the insurgents’ dreams of a final victory. “Permanent U.S. bases will mean permanent trouble for the Taliban,” says a former Taliban ambassador who has quit the insurgency.
Even so, the insurgents responded gleefully to the suggestion that the night raids might stop. As effective as U.S.-led operations have been in crippling the insurgency, they nevertheless are hated by most Afghans, who regard the commando assaults as an insult to the sanctity of Afghan homes and an unacceptable threat to innocent civilians. To the Taliban, the cessation of U.S. night raids means far more than that. “If Kabul puppet soldiers alone carry out these operations in the future, we’ll be able to cause a lot more trouble in and around Kabul,” says the senior commander, declining to be named for security reasons. “The difference between these raids by Afghan puppets and the Americans is the difference between being attacked by birds or by falcons.”
The truth is, even the night raids haven’t kept the Taliban from causing plenty of trouble in and around Kabul. The past year’s headline-grabbing incidents have included a Mumbai-style assault on the Inter-Continental Hotel in June; a massive truck bombing in September that injured nearly 80 U.S. soldiers and killed five Afghans at an outpost roughly 40 miles outside the capital; coordinated strikes two days later on NATO headquarters, the U.S. Embassy, and other targets, leaving at least six dead, along with nine insurgents; and a suicide car bomb that took out a Rhino armored bus in late October, killing 12 Americans, a Canadian soldier, and four Afghans (two of them children). Security in Kabul is so dodgy that Karzai rarely leaves the Presidential Palace at all—he traveled the two kilometers from there to the loya jirga by helicopter. “People feel that as the U.S. withdraws, security is clearly deteriorating,” says a senior Afghan diplomat. As much as Afghans dislike the foreign military presence, they fear that the fighting will only intensify without it.
The threat of endless war doesn’t seem to faze most Taliban—they’ve known nothing else throughout their adult lives. “I started in the jihad when I was 18,” says the senior commander. “I’m 48 now, with a white beard. Even if we succeed in overthrowing the Karzai puppet regime, there won’t be peace. Like snakes, our neighbors will continue to fight us.” The former Taliban ambassador can only shake his head. “There will be no end to this war,” he says. “No one among the Taliban believes in peace.” A lot of them seem practically addicted to war. “Many Taliban are fanatical and enjoy fighting with no ultimate goal other than the power it brings them personally,” says a former Taliban Foreign Ministry official who remains committed to the cause. “Thoughts of peace never cross their minds.”
This drone named the Pegasus by the navy is very similiar to the RQ-170 Sentinel that went down in Iran.
Note to the Navy: When trucking a giant flying robot with a rounded fuselage across the country, people are going to think they’re looking at an artifact from Area 51.
As the local news coverage above shows, residents of Cowley County, Kansas, were freaked out to see a truck rumbling down U.S. 77 towing what looks a whole lot like a 32-foot spaceship. “People were calling in saying, ‘Oh they think they found a flying saucer,’” Donetta Godsey of the Winfield Daily Courier told the ABC News affiliate.
Alas, the cargo wasn’t anything otherworldly. Just a trussed-up, wingless version of the Navy’s futuristic killer drone, the X-47B, which the Navy hopes will one day be the world’s first robot capable of landing on an aircraft carrier. For the past few days, it’s hitched a rather terrestrial ride from California’s Edwards Air Force Base to Patuxent River, Maryland.
“Oh, you mean the UFO?” Brooks McKinney, a spokesman for X-47B manufacturer Northrop Grumman, told Danger Room.
McKinney’s both embarrassed and amused by the UFO confusion. “They effectively shrink-wrapped the rest of the fuselage after taking the wings off the drone for the cross-country trek,” he said. “Because it was 32 feet wide, it could only travel certain hours of the day because we blocked off the road. That led to lots of weird stories, like we had abandoned [the X-47B] on the side of the road.”
The X-47B arrived safely at Pax River, the Navy’s big aviation testbed, on Tuesday. There, it’ll undergo tests to ensure it can perform its signature intended maneuver: taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier — and with those complex maneuvers eventually directed by a mere mouse click.
But that’s a long way off. During the last year at Edwards, the X-47B had its first flight — there’s even a music video to commemorate the moment — after years of development that almost didn’t bear fruit. Still, the drone isn’t expected to actually join the Navy’s fleet of aircraft until 2018.
And when it does, it might still get mistaken for a UFO.
“When we first saw it with its wheels up, it had kind of that dreamy spaceship look anyway, so it’s kinda cool,” McKinney said. “If we were really smart we would have rigged it up with purple lights that blink and pulsate.”
Kim Jong Il has died of heart failure at the age of 69 – after 17 eccentric years as North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’.
The dictator issued strange decrees and fed the personality cult around him. Here are 17 of his weirdest moments…
1. His official biography claimed his birth was foretold by a swallow and led to the appearance of a double rainbow along with the emergence of a new star in space. He went on to spread the myth among his subjects that his mood could control the weather.
2. You may not be aware of this, but Kim Jong-Il was the world’s greatest golfer… According to an official government handout marking his 62nd birthday, Kim celebrated by demolishing a par 72 course in just 34 strokes, managing a world record five holes-in-one on the way. To top it all, the superhuman round was apparently the first time he had actually played the sport.
3. In 2006, German giant rabbit breeder Karl Szmolinsky was contacted by Pyongyang, asking if they could buy 12 of the bumper bunnies. Having seen the massive rabbits in a newspaper, Kim planned to set up a breeding programme to boost meat production in the famine-hit country. Despite Szmolinsky warning the rabbits would make the situation worse – they only yield about 15 pounds of meat and have a huge appetite for carrots and potatoes – Kim insisted the animals should still be sent. Szmolinsky claims once the animals arrived Kim ate them himself as part of his birthday celebrations.
4. In 2004, a former chef for Kim revealed the North Korean leader employed staff to make sure the grains of rice served to him were absolutely uniform in size and colour.
5. In 2010 Kim Jong-Il banned the World Cup from being broadcast in North Korea unless the national team won. The communist country’s state-run TV stations were ordered not to broadcast live matches or games involving other nations, with only heavily edited highlights of North Korean victories permitted to be screened.
6. Hacked off by the lack of film-makers in his native land, in 1978 Kim arranged for two South Korean directors to be kidnapped from Hong Kong and brought to him. They tried to escape but eventually relented, making a string of movies for him including the cult Godzilla rip-off Pulgasari.
7. After being told by doctor’s to give up smoking in 2007, Kim quit then decided he needed to go one step further to protect his health and so outlawed fags for the rest of his compatriots with a nationwide ban.
8. According to Russian emissary Konstantin Pulikovsky, who travelled with Mr Kim by train across Eastern Europe, Kim had live lobsters air-lifted to the train every day which he ate with silver chopsticks. Where did all his food go? An official biography on the North Korean state website declared Kim Jong Il did not defecate. The biography has since been removed.
9. After suffering a back injury following a horse riding accident, Kim was prescribed painkillers. Fearful of becoming addicted, he ordered a half-dozen of his closest staff to receive the same injection under the logic that if he became dependent, he wouldn’t be the only one.
10. As well as being something of a foodie, Kim knew his booze. According to Hennessy, Kim was one of their single biggest customers, importing £350,000 worth of the cognac every year.
And here are seven new nuggets in video form…
11. In 2004 he claimed to have invented the hamburger.
12. One of his unofficial titles was The Central Brain.
13. He once wrote six operas in two years.
14. He has collected more than 20,000 foreign films – with his favourites including Rambo and Friday 13th.
15. He was a keen roller-blader.
16. During a 2001 visit to Moscow by rail he had roast donkey flown to his train every day.
17. In the 1950s he built an entire city called Kijong-Dong that was designed only for propaganda. To this day it has no residents.