News from China, Gaza Strip and Venezuela

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on May 21, 2013

CHINA – Military Conducts Test of New Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Missile

image954China’s military on Monday, May 13 conducted the first test of a new ground-launched anti-satellite missile that was fired into space and disguised as a space-exploration rocket, according to U.S. officials.

The test was carried out early Monday from the Xichang Space Launch center (in southern Sichuan Province) and was identified by officials as the new Dong Ning-2 ASAT missile

The ASAT test comes a week after China protested the release of the Pentagon’s annual report on the Chinese military buildup that mentioned Beijing’s development of anti-satellite weapons. [Anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) are designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Currently, only the U.S., the former Soviet Union, and the People’s Republic of China are known to have developed these weapons.]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was asked if China conducted an ASAT test during a briefing for reporters in Beijing on Tuesday (May 16). He did not deny that it was carried out. “I am not aware of the development that you described,” he said. “China has consistently advocated the peaceful use of outer space and is opposed to militarizing and conducting an arms race in outer space.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Cathy Wilkinson said: “We don’t have a comment on it as we don’t discuss intelligence.”

A U.S. official familiar with intelligence reports said the DN-2, as a high earth-orbit attack missile, is a significant advance for China’s program of developing asymmetric warfare capabilities for use against the United States. Others include cyber-warfare capabilities and anti-ship ballistic missiles.

It could not be learned if the latest ASAT test involved an impact with a target satellite.

The major concern for Pentagon war planners is that China, with an arsenal of around two dozen anti-satellite missiles, could severely disrupt U.S. command-and-control systems, intelligence-gathering satellites, and navigation satellites used to guide precision guided missiles. …

While details of the DN-2 are not known, U.S. officials said it is expected to be a high earth-orbit interceptor capable of destroying strategic navigation, communication, or intelligence satellites by ramming into them at high speeds.

The DN-2 is said to be capable of hitting targets in high-earth orbit between 12,000 and 22,236 miles above earth. Many military, intelligence, and commercial satellites orbit at that altitude.

A Pentagon-State Department report to Congress last year on export controls stated that in addition to ground-launched ASAT missiles, China is building high-technology kinetic and direct energy weapons for ASAT use.

GAZA STRIP – KFC smuggled into Gaza from Egypt


Al-Yamama advertises its Kentucky Fried Chicken delivery service on Facebook.

A new company has emerged in the Middle East that smuggles fast food from an Egyptian Kentucky Fried Chicken to Gaza residents through a tunnel.

People in the conflicted region can now satisfy cravings for food from the Louisville-based fast food headquarters by ordering through a company that charges the American equivalent of $30 for smugglers to bring the greasy goods from Al-Arish in Egypt to the doorsteps of hungry customers.

Deliveries take approximately three hours. But for those who use the business, the end result is worth the wait. “It has been a dream, and this company has made my dream come true,” accountant and Gaza resident Rafat Shororo told the publication while getting his delivery.

Mohammed al-Madani, who manages the company’s finances, said that the idea for the business came from their own craving for KFC. An associate of his decided to call a friend in Al-Arish with a request to bring chicken through the tunnel to their location.

When the plan worked, al-Madani saw an opportunity. “[W]e asked ourselves, ‘Why don’t we provide this service for Gazans?’” he said. “After getting the orders, we call our partner in al-Arish and ask him to make the orders. After getting the meals, he goes to a specific tunnel and asks smugglers to transfer them into the other side of the tunnel; this may take a few minutes.”

Once the associate orders the food and brings it to the specific tunnel used for the deliveries, tunnel smugglers such as Abu Iyad complete the transfer, though they are not accustomed to assisting in food deliveries. “This is the first time to smuggle such goods,” he said.

Once on the Gaza side of the tunnel, Hamas police officers give the chicken permission to go to the delivery person who completes the final leg of the trip.

VENEZUELA – Country lacks basic necessities


A supermarket in Caracas on Thursday was short on basic products, including toilet paper.

CARACAS | First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities – toilet paper.

Blaming political opponents for the shortfall, as it does for other shortages, the embattled socialist government says it will import 50 million rolls to boost supplies.

Economists say Venezuela’s shortages stem from price controls meant to make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the government’s controls on foreign currency.

“State-controlled prices – prices that are set below market-clearing price – always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union,” said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.

President Nicolas Maduro, who was selected by the dying Hugo Chavez to carry on his “Bolivarian revolution,” claims that anti-government forces, including the private sector, are causing the shortages in an effort to destabilize the country.

Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming blamed the shortage of toilet tissue on “excessive demand” built up as a result of “a media campaign that has been generated to disrupt the country.” 

He said monthly consumption of toilet paper was normally 125 million rolls, but that current demand “leads us to think that 40 million more are required. We will bring in 50 million to show those groups that they won’t make us bow down,” he said.

Patience is wearing thin among consumers who face shortages and long lines at supermarkets and pharmacies. Last month, Venezuela’s scarcity index reached its highest level since 2009, while the 12-month inflation rate has risen to nearly 30 percent. Shoppers often spend several days looking for basic items, and stock up when they find them.

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at The Washington Free Beacon on May 14th, CBS News Cleveland on May 16 and AP via YahooNews on May 16.)   



And from a Reuters report:


    Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist terrorist organization that currently (since January 2006) forms the majority party of the Palestinian Authority. [It rules the Gaza Strip.]… Hamas is known outside the Palestinian territories for its suicide bombings and other attacks directed against Israeli civilians, as well as military and security forces targets. Hamas’ charter…calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. ….In January 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections….  Many [Palestinians] perceived the preceding Fatah government as corrupt and ineffective… (from