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Search Tags: J.J. Green
A second member of the ``Cuban Five'' has returned to the Caribbean island and a hero's welcome after leaving a prison in the United States. 50 year old Fernando Gonzalez and four others were arrested in 1998 and convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S. Gonzalez spent 15 years in prison.
NATO says it's going to plan for all options for its future presence in Afghanistan, including a possible pullout of all its troops this year. NATO Head Anders Fogh Rasmussen says NATO was planning to keep a slimmed-down force in Afghanistan after 2014, but President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign a security agreement with the United States could force it to pull out all its troops by the end of the year.
Portraying a difficult future for Afghanistan without U.S. help, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey says that Afghanistan's refusal to sign a security agreement with the United States could make the war more difficult and inspire the enemy and encourage some Afghan security forces to cooperate with the Taliban to as he put it, ``hedge their bets.'' Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a SOFA with the U.S.
A review of Afghanistan's future indicates the country could revert to a terrorist hideout unless U.S. and international partners put in place a larger Afghan security force than what's planned for 2014.The study released Thursday by federally funded CNA Strategic Studies also concludes that this larger force and the government ministries to support it will require international trainers and advisers at least through 2018.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to the Associated Press, "has put himself in charge of a new body to coordinate cyber security, in a sign of Beijing's concern over its vulnerability to online attacks and its desire to retain tight control over the Internet." AP says Chinese state media reports the central Internet security and information leading group will draft policy for boosting the country's defenses, as well as expanding and improving Internet access.
The Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday and its chief executive said 850,000 bitcoins, worth several hundred million dollars, are unaccounted for. The exchange's CEO Mark Karpeles appeared before Japanese TV news cameras, bowing deeply. He said a weakness in the exchange's systems was behind a massive loss of the virtual currency involving 750,000 bitcoins from users and 100,000 of the company's own bitcoins. That would amount to about $425 million.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, one of Al Qaida's most brutal terrorists is reportedly the target of one of the biggest manhunts in modern Middle Eastern history. A British newspaper is reporting he has a 6 million pound bounty on his head because he allegedly has 25 British extremists among his loyalists . The Mirror says he was sacked by al-Qaida for disobeying orders and beheading people in public.
There are some strange bedfellows in the Middle East sometimes. Reuters is reporting, based on documents it has obtained that Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million. That would be a direct violation of a U.N. embargo on weapons sales by Tehran. The agreement was supposedly reached at the end of November, weeks after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked the Obama administration for extra weapons to fight al Qaeda-linked militants.
Reviving images of the Cold War, the Ukrainian violence has again pitted the U.S. against Russia with militaristic overtones. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren warned the Ukrainian armed forces to stay out of the conflict, as "participation would have consequences in our defense relationship". Russia has accused the U.S. of meddling and says it will stay out of the situation.
Syrian peace talks are not making much progress. There are reports the Assad regime is stepping up attacks on rebels and anecdotal evidence that Al Qaida trained militants are leaving Syria and heading back to their home countries. Amid all this, the US and its allies are stepping up their search a solution to the brutal civil war. One of the elements being discussed is a more active role for the US military.