Chinese intelligence is biting its fingernails over the prospect of Fidel Castro’s demise in Cuba.
Hand-picked as the successor to his brother Fidel, Raul Castro is rightly known as the “Chinaman.” Ever since he visited China in 1997 he has been unstinting in his praise for the Beijing government and has played a key role in recent years in turning his island into a China-type bastion.
But according to Intelligence Online sources in Beijing, leaders of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and, even more, the intelligence agencies are worried about what they might lose if the Havana regime collapses.
This would include a major base for intercepting communications at Lourdes which was taken over from Russia’s GRU by the 3rd Bureau (Zongcan Sanbu) answering to the PLA’s general staff and headed by Qiu Rulin; a transmission station operated on conjunction with Cuba’s Direccion General de Inteligencia (DGI) at the Bejucal intelligence base; a listening post at Jeruco some 50 km east of the complex at Lourdes; a Sino-Cuban intelligence liaison and transmission center in Havana; and, lastly, a hub for Humint exchanges between the DGI, which is lead by general Eduardo Delgado Rodriguez, and the 2nd Bureau of China’s state security department (Goanbu) run by Zhan Yongjie.
In addition, the PLA’s naval forces would lose a base on Pinetree Island, where some of their spy ships put in. They would also be denied a naval base at Cienfuegos, which would enable Chinese submarines to pose a direct threat to the U.S. in the case of conflict (over Taiwan, for instance).
The Lider Maximo’s health problems in recent times haven’t prevented major Chinese delegations from visiting Havana. The most significant trip took place in March when eight Chinese generals, including lieutenant-general Peng Xiaofeng, the political commissar of the Second Artillery Force (Di Er Pao Ping) and his chief of staff, lieutenant-general Yu Jixum, were received by the Cuban chief-of-staff, Alvaro Lopez Miera.
At the time the CIA submitted a report to president George W. Bush stating that the Second Artillery Force was in charge of China’s ballistic missiles and wondering whether Beijing would supply Cuba with imported missiles or help it design them on the island.
Undercover federal air marshals will no longer be held to a strict dress code that many thought compromised their in-flight anonymity.
The elimination of the dress code is one of a number of significant operational changes announced in a message to air marshals today by the director of the Federal Air Marshal Service, Dana Brown.
Brown's announcement comes just three months after an ABC News investigation revealed policies which air marshals said compromised their undercover status.
Federal air marshal Spencer Pickard (pictured above), who went public in the ABC News reports, said today he was gratified the changes were being made.
"That's great news. That's why I came forward. These are very important steps in the right direction. Air marshals need anonymity to be effective so the terrorists don't know we're there. We can be a real deterrent if we operate undercover."
Effective Sept. l, air marshals will be allowed to "dress at your discretion, recognizing that the manner of dress should allow you to blend in and not direction attention to yourself," according to Brown's message.
Brown also said air marshals will be free to select their hotels. Under the previous policy, air marshals were required to stay at the same hotel, where their names were often kept on a roster visible to the public at the front desk.
Brown told the marshals the service is also considering changes in boarding policies, "which unfortunately do not lend themselves to simple solutions or immediate, unilateral decisions."
Air marshals had complained passengers could easily spot them because they were required to show their badges publicly at the airline check-in counters and were forced to board in advance.
On recent flights out of Washington, D.C., air marshals have been permitted to board with passengers so that they blend in.
Authorities in the Saudi city of Mecca have banned the sale of pet cats and dogs at the request of religious police, the Arab News reported Thursday. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice made the request after many young Saudis had gone outdoors with their pet dogs thus violating the kingdom's culture and traditions. Authorities in the city of Jeddah have also begun enforcing the decision, the report said.
The commission complained that Saudi youth, apparently influenced by Western culture, were bringing their pets into public places, allegedly causing distress to families with young children. The Jeddah Municipality had received a letter from the Mecca governorate banning the sale of pet dogs and cats in the city, the report added.
Islam considers dogs unclean and Muslim traditional families do not keep dogs as pets, while there is no mention of cats.
Israel is carefully watching the world's reaction to Iran's continued refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, with some high-level officials arguing it is now clear that when it comes to stopping Iran, Israel "may have to go it alone," The Jerusalem Post has learned.
One senior source said on Tuesday that Iran "flipped the world the bird" by not responding positively to the Western incentive plan to stop uranium enrichment. He expressed frustration that the Russians and Chinese were already saying that Iran's offer of a "new formula" and willingness to enter "serious negotiations" was an opening to keep on talking.
"The Iranians know the world will do nothing," he said. "This is similar to the world's attempts to appease Hitler in the 1930s - they are trying to feed the beast."