Mexican government disbands Veracruz police force

Mexican Marine on guard outside a Veracruz police station
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

An entire municipal police force in Mexico has been disbanded as part of a campaign to root out corruption and improve security in the face of drug-related violence.

More than 900 officers in Veracruz-Boca del Rio are losing their jobs. The Mexican navy is taking over responsibility for law enforcement.

The move comes three months after 35 bodies were found dumped on a main road in the municipality, which includes part of the city of Veracruz…

Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa said the decision to disband the force was part of a national programme to reform the police.

“All those who belong to the now defunct Veracruz-Boca del Rio force can join the police again once they have past the tests of trustworthiness demanded by the national system of public security,” he said.

He did not say how long the navy would be in charge of policing the municipality, which is home to around 600,000 people and includes wealthy residential districts and popular tourist areas…

Corruption and infiltration of the police by criminals are among the biggest challenges Mexico faces in its fight against the cartels, says the BBC’s Ignacio de los Reyes in Mexico City.

As well as using troops to confront the gangs militarily, President Felipe Calderon has stressed the need to reform the police and judiciary as part of his strategy to restore public security.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006, when Mr Calderon began deploying the military to fight the gangs.

Anyone out there feel like spending your holiday in Mexico?

American military marches openly in San Diego’s Gay Pride parade

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

About 200 active-duty troops and veterans wearing T-shirts advertising their branch of service marched Saturday in San Diego’s gay pride parade with American flags and rainbow banners, marking what is believed to be the first time a military contingent has participated in such an event in the U.S.

Many of the active-duty troops said they were moved to come out because it is time to end the military’s ban on openly gay troops. The march comes a day after a federal appeals court reinstated “don’t ask, don’t tell” but with a caveat that prevents the government from investigating or penalizing anyone who is openly gay.

National Guard member Nichole Herrera, 31, said she didn’t think twice about marching, even though the policy is back on the books. She said she was “choked up” several times as she walked down a main thoroughfare in San Diego, a major Navy port.

“This is one of the proudest days in my life. It’s time for it (the policy) to be gone,” Herrera said. “I’m a soldier no matter what, regardless of my sexual orientation.”

The crowd roared as the group waving military flags and holding placards identifying their military branch walked past the thousands.

Every branch of service was represented Saturday, including the Coast Guard. Marines and sailors ran out carrying their branch’s flags over their heads. One Marine stopped to pose with two towering bikini-clad blondes in stiletto-heeled boots.

Onlookers stepped into the parade route to salute them.

Bravo! The salute is overdue. Wish my cousin Billy was alive to see the Navy allow him public pride.

Israeli navy kills Gaza fisherman – Anyone notice any symbolism?

Everything is an assault craft to the Israeli Navy

A Palestinian fisherman has been shot dead by the Israeli navy off the Gaza Strip.

“Fisherman Mohammed Bakr died by a bullet by the Israeli navy today in the sea north of the Gaza Strip,” Adham Abu Selmiya, heading the Palestinian territory’s medical services, said on Friday.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the fisherman was in restricted waters “heading towards Israel”…

Hundreds marched in the funeral for the 20-year-old fisherman in Beit Lahiya, shooting in the air and chanting slogans.

Israeli navy vessels enforcing a naval blockade on the Palestinian territory regularly fire at Palestinian fishermen to prevent them from venturing more than a few kilometres from shore.

Cossacks think it’s great fun to use the serfs for target practice.

Seems to me I recall a legend about a fisher of men being killed in the same region by imperial overlords.

Modern high-tech navies take on Somalia’s pirates

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

How do you tell the difference between a Somali pirate in a small boat and a largely identical but innocent fisherman? It all comes down to the ladders.

Pirates often take fishing gear out with them into the deep waters of the Indian Ocean to help feed themselves, and fishermen from the lawless country often carry AK-47s for self protection. Grappling hooks can be easily hidden out of sight.

But if naval officers see a small boat with long metal ladders lashed to the deck, they say they know for sure the occupants have set to sea with only one thing in mind…

You can see the giveaway signs that this is a pirate gathering,” says Andreas Kutsch, a German naval officer working as an assistant chief of staff for the EU’s anti-piracy task force, using a laser pointer to show the ladders among the brightly colored plastic containers for spare fuel and water. “Fishermen don’t need ladders…”

On any given day, the United States estimates that some 30 to 40 warships are involved in counter piracy efforts from the EU, NATO and the United States as well as emerging Indian Ocean players China, Russia, India, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan…

There is no overall commander although the navies meet once a month in Bahrain and coordinate through an Internet chat room…

RTFA. Lots of details. Many avenues of interest and discussion.

Poisonally, I’m glad to see any modern navy doing something useful. Yes, I realize the political arrivals and departures from harbors foreign to the flag of a military vessel does some good. But, it’s nice to see productive use of hardware that, after all, is designed to interdict global lawbreakers.

Russians free oil tanker, kill Somali pirate

Russian forces have freed the crew of a Russian oil tanker seized by Somali pirates off the coast of Yemen, in a dramatic rescue operation.

Forces on the warship Marshal Shaposhnikov approached the tanker with 23 Russian crew on board by helicopter. As they did so, the pirates opened fire, sparking a shoot-out.

The Russian forces then abseiled onto the Moscow University tanker, freeing the crew who had locked themselves in a safe room after disabling their ship.

Ten pirates have been arrested, and one was killed during the gun battle. They are being held aboard the tanker, Russian defence ministry spokesman Col Alexei Kuznetsov said.

Not a bad scorecard.

They will be transferred to Moscow to face charges…

Also this year, there have been three incidents when foreign forces have managed to board hijacked boats and capture the pirates. But this can only be done if all the crew have managed to lock themselves in a secure room on board the ship and have contacted the nearest navy forces to say they are safe – exactly what happened in Thursday’s incident.

The decision to free the ship was made knowing “that the crew was under safe cover inaccessible to the pirates and that the lives and health of the sailors was not threatened by anything”, Novoship added.

The U.N. Security Council has suggested special piracy courts to plug a gap in the legal response to piracy.

Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev says the international community is dragging their feet – for whatever reasons. “What exactly is the problem? We all know that it’s an evil, and we can’t seem to agree on how to fight it.”

I guess there’s not enough profit involved to motivate Congress or any of the Euro parliaments.

Emirates Navy fires on Saudi Navy – Oil giants going to war?

Italian-built Falaj2 Stealth patrol boats on order for Emirates Navy

The United Arab Emirates navy is thought to have opened fire on a small patrol vessel from Saudi Arabia after a dispute over water boundaries. According to one report, two Saudi sailors were injured in the alleged bombardment.

The Saudi vessel was forced to surrender, and its sailors were delivered into custody in Abu Dhabi for several days, before being released and handed over to the Saudi embassy earlier this week.

The clash happened in disputed waters between the coasts of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and the peninsula on which the gas-rich state of Qatar sits…

The seabed is rich with oil deposits, while the Dolphin pipeline project to carry natural gas direct from Qatar to Abu Dhabi has provoked irritation in the Saudi authorities. Nevertheless, direct conflict between the two countries’ armed forces is highly unusual.

The Gulf is one of the most heavily armed regions in the world. The Saudi government has been building up its army and air force for years in response to what it sees as a regional threat from Iran…

But now the UAE, despite its small size, is the fourth largest purchaser of weaponry on the international market in the world.

Western governments are exasperated that the two countries are unable to co-operate because of a series of long-running border disputes, largely influenced by oil reserves…

Is there anything to do with oil profits and the greedy bastards controlling most of it – that doesn’t provoke militarism and war?

Oops of the day!

A Royal Navy commander crashed a nuclear-powered submarine into a large rock in the Red Sea after misreading a number one as seven on a navigational chart…

Commander Steven Drysdale, who was in charge of HMS Superb, had ordered the vessel to take a shorter route to make sure it reached a rendezvous point in time for an operation. The submarine dived to reach deeper water so that it could travel faster, the hearing at Portsmouth naval base was told.

A pinnacle jutting out from the seabed was marked as being at a depth of 123 metres, but Drysdale misread it as 723. Thinking that the boat would clear the obstruction easily, the submarine was directed towards it and it grounded…

Captain Stuart Crozier, prosecuting, told the hearing that the submarine had been suffering from technical problems, causing it to lose speed, at the time of the incident in May 2008. He said there was pressure on Drysdale to ensure the submarine arrived in the Gulf on time for planned operations…

When the new route was charted by the plotting officer, who does not face the court martial, all three defendants failed to spot that the pinnacle marked on the map was only 123 metres deep, the only shallow point in the area.

Crozier said that when the submarine collided with the pinnacle, the vessel was brought to an almost immediate halt. “The submarine collided with the underwater obstacle reducing its speed from 16 knots to three knots in a very short time,” he said. “There was a significant amount of damage to the forehead of the submarine, but no casualties…”

Commander Alison Towler, representing Drysdale, told the court that the commanding officer had since been moved to a desk job. She said the service had also stopped Drysdale from taking up the high-profile position of Royal Navy staff officer submarines in Washington DC shortly after the incident…

The submarine, which came into service in 1976, was decommissioned in September 2008 and the MoD has said the accident did not lead to the submarine being taken out of service earlier than planned.

Sounds like an expensive oops to me. Most I ever took out was a double-stacked pallet-load of truck mirrors.

Russian Navy – fires on Russian village – WTF?

30mm AK630 cannon is the type used in the attack

A Russian naval ship has accidentally fired on a village near the city of St Petersburg during military exercises, officials have confirmed.

No one was killed or injured in the incident, which occured in the Vyborg region on Thursday evening, but some damage was reported.

Locals at a farm where the shots were fired said people took cover in basements to shield themselves from the shelling, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported.

This is, of course, a disgrace, people could have died. This is the height of the planting season and there are a lot of people at the farm,” Tatyana Kostaryova, a spokeswoman for the local administration, told the agency.

Yury Mikhailov, the head of the farm, said most of the shrapnel fell on rooftops and greenhouses…

Russian naval forces said a small anti-submarine vessel from the Baltic Fleet made the mistake during exercises in the Gulf of Finland.

Igor Lebedev, a regional military prosecutor, said the ship was conducting target practice and that some shells or rounds fell on houses near the village.

So, uh, what were they trying to hit? And did they ever hit it?

No one said pirates were brighter than any other crook!

French soldiers inspect pirate attack boat. Nivose in the background.
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The French Navy said they seized 11 pirates Sunday after they apparently mistook a French military vessel for a commercial ship and made a run at it.

Two pirate assault boats approached the Nivose “at great speed,” Capt. Christophe Prazuck said, but a French helicopter intervened before the attackers had time to fire at the French Navy ship.

The helicopter fired warning shots, he said.

The pirates, who had a mother ship as well as the two assault boats, are being held for questioning on the Nivose, Prazuck said. The vessels were carrying AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, but the pirates did not fire, he said.

At least they weren’t suicidal.

In the past three weeks, the Nivose has intercepted 24 suspected pirates as part of a European Union anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia, which has become a piracy hotspot.

Over the past year, more than 100 suspected pirates have been picked up, Prazuck said. Of that total, 27 have been released, and more than 70 taken to jail in France, handed to authorities in Somalia or taken to Kenya under an EU agreement with the government in Nairobi.

As armed self-defense grows as a tactic, as national and regional military units patrol aggressively – if and when raids land in the backyard of Pirate Central in Somalia – the trade, the threats and dangers it represents, will diminish if not disappear. As it should.

Trident nuclear missiles are £20 billion down the crapper

Britain’s nuclear submarines are “completely useless” against modern warfare, and the £20 billionn spent on renewing them is a waste of money, say a group of retired senior military officers.

The former head of the armed forces Field Marshal Lord Bramall, backed by two senior generals, argued that the huge sums being spent on replacing the delapidated submarines that carry the Trident ballistic missiles could be better used to buy conventional weapons which are badly needed by the armed forces.

“Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face, particularly international terrorism,” the group said in a letter to the Times. “Our independent deterrent has become virtually irrelevant, except in the context of domestic politics.”

Ramsbotham said he no longer believed that Britain’s nuclear deterrent was truly independent.

“We don’t own the missiles and it is absolutely unthinkable that we should ever consider using it or threatening to use it without having the clearance of the United States,” he said.

“The fact is that Trident is an inappropriate weapons system. You can’t see Trident being used against something like nuclear blackmail by international terrorism. It is a cold war weapon. It is not a weapon for the situation where we are now.”

Every political activist in the United States knows the British military are kept on a short leash by the Pentagon. If and when our military-industrial complex demands a continuation of 1950’s military design, Whitehall dances to the same tune. If anything, jumping a wee bit higher, trying to be noticed by the beancounters with the checkbook.