By Larry Shaughnessy
A new report shows a trend of increased defense spending among Asia's major military powers, with China's military budget accounting for nearly half of all spending in the region. It's a trend that reflects one reason why the Pentagon is heavily focused on increasing its presence in the region.
According to official reports from China, defense spending there has increased to $90 billion in 2011 from $22.5 billion in 2000. It should be noted that skeptics believe China's official numbers are purposely low. For example, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated that China's 2011 defense budget was much closer to $142 billion.
By Charles Riley, reporting from Hong Kong
President Obama and Mitt Romney each used their second presidential debate to talk tough on China.
Romney pledged that he would label China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office - a promise he frequently works into his campaign speeches. And he accused China of "stealing" designs, patents and technology pioneered by U.S. companies.
"There's even an Apple store in China that's a counterfeit Apple store, selling counterfeit goods," Romney said. "They hack into our computers. We will have to have people play on a fair basis."
Obama was more circumspect in his use of language, but he touted the trade complaints his administration has filed against China over auto parts. Obama also recently blocked the sale of American wind farm companies to a Chinese firm.Click here for the FULL STORY
By Larry Shaughnessy
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been a magnet for problems for years, but the new warplane's developers are slowly making progress toward deployment.
During testing at a facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey, pilots flying the Navy's carrier variant successfully caught five arresting wires in eight attempts, according to Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program office.
That's an improvement over the first tests when pilots couldn't hook the wire. But it is not good enough.
By Paul Courson
The pretrial hearing for accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged co-conspirators was focused for much of Tuesday morning on the detainee dress code.
The hearing at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was broadcast via closed circuit television to victims' families and the news media at Fort Meade, Maryland.
The defense challenged a practice by the jailers to ban certain types of clothing. In oral arguments on a motion to clarify a dress code for detainees while they are in the courtroom, prosecutors said the ban was part of preserving decorum and respect for the venue, and also one of security.
The judge agreed to ban articles of clothing that resembled current American military uniforms, and said detainees, if they choose, must wear prison uniforms that match their status as detainees. This precludes the "orange prison jumpsuit" popularized by activists during anti-Guantanamo demonstrations, unless such clothing is used for that detainee. FULL POST
By Carol Cratty
A federal appeals court Tuesday tossed out the conviction of a driver for Osama bin Laden, dealing a blow to the U.S. military commissions system.
Salim Hamdan was convicted in 2008 of providing material support for terrorism. In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the conviction.
The court noted that Hamdan was found guilty based on conduct that took place from 1996 to 2001, but the charge of material support for terrorism only came into effect with the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
"Because we read the Military Commissions Act not to retroactively punish new crimes, and because material support for terrorism was not a pre-existing war crime," the court wrote, "Hamdan's conviction for material support for terrorism cannot stand." FULL POST
By Laura Smith-Sparks
The UK government Tuesday blocked the extradition of computer hacker Gary McKinnon to the United States to face trial for what the U.S. government says is the biggest military computer hacking of all time.
Home Secretary Theresa May said McKinnon's Asperger syndrome and depressive illness meant "there is such a high risk of him ending his own life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with his human rights."
Gary McKinnon has admitted to breaking into computers at NASA and the Pentagon but says he did so to find out if the U.S. government was covering up the existence of UFOs.
The 46-year-old has fought a decade-long battle against extradition.
By Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister and Nic Robertson
The story would not be out of place on the TV thriller "Homeland": the Danish petty criminal turned double agent who receives $250,000 in cash for helping the CIA try to ensnare one of al Qaeda's most wanted - by finding him a wife.
The wanted man was American-born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who had become one of the most effective propagandists for the group. The bride-to-be was a pretty blonde from Croatia. The agent was Morten Storm, who had long moved in radical Islamist circles and had apparently won the trust of al-Awlaki during a stay in Yemen in 2006.FULL STORY