Saturday, April 1, 2017

Fw: TheList 4421


The List 4421
To All,
I hope you all have a great weekend.
This Day In Naval History - March 31
1854: Commodore Matthew C. Perry and Japanese officials sign the Treaty of Kanagawa, opening trade between U.S. and Japan. The treaty also provided protection for American merchant seamen wrecked in Japanese waters.
1971 - Poseidon (C-3) missile becomes operational when USS James Madison
began her 3rd patrol carrying 16 tactical Poseidon missiles.
1992 - USS Missouri (BB-63), the last active American battleship is
1993: Two 2 EP-3E aircraft, from Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 2 (VQ-2), are on station over the Adriatic providing crucial support to the delivery of humanitarian air drops over eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina in Operation Provide Promise. This operation becomes the longest running humanitarian airlift in history at the time and operates from February 1993 to January 1996.
This Day In Naval History - April 1
1893 - Navy General Order 409 of 25 February 1893 establishes the rate of Chief Petty Officer as of this date.
1942 - First Naval Air Transportation Service (NATS) squadron for Pacific operations commissioned
1945 Under heavy naval gunfire of over 1200 Navy ships and aircraft support, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps troops begin the invasion of Okinawa, the last major amphibious assault of World War II.
1966 - The command, US Naval Forces Vietnam established
1967 - Helicopter squadron HAL 3 activated at Vung Tau
This Day In Naval History - April 2
1781 - Frigate Alliance captures 2 British privateers, Mars and Minerva
1827 - First Naval Hospital construction begun at Portsmouth, VA
1898 - Adoption of U.S. Naval Academy coat of arms
1947 - UN places former Japanese mandated islands under U.S. trusteeship
1951 - First Navy use of jet aircraft as a bomber, launched from a carrier, USS Princeton.
1960 - USS Glacier begins 12 days of relief operations, providing helicopter and boat transportation and emergency supplies to residents of Paramaribo, Suriname after floods.
Today in History March 31
The great massacre of the French in Sicily The Sicilian Vespers comes to an end.
In France, Francis--king since 1515--dies and is succeeded by his son Henry II.
Abigail Adams writes to husband John that women are "determined to foment a rebellion" if the new Declaration of Independence fails to guarantee their rights.
Russia and Turkey sign a treaty by which they promise to take no military action in the Crimea.
In Paris, France, Maximilien Robespierre is elected president of the Jacobin Club.
The first monthly installment of The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens is published in London.
Skirmishing between Rebels and Union forces takes place at Island 10 on the Mississippi River.
The first electric street lights ever installed by a municipality are turned on in Wabash, Indiana.
The Eiffel Tower in Paris officially opens on the Left Bank as part of the Exhibition of 1889.
General John Pershing and his army rout Pancho Villa's army in Mexico.
The United States purchases the Virgin Islands from Denmark for $25 million.
Daylight Savings Time goes into effect throughout the United States for the first time.
Great Britain declares a state of emergency because of the thousands of coal miners on strike.
To relieve rampant unemployment, Congress authorizes the Civilian Conservation Corps .
La Guardia airport in New York officially opens to the public.
The United States and Britain bar a Soviet supported provisional regime in Warsaw from entering the U.N. meeting in San Francisco.
The Soviet Union begins controlling the Western trains headed toward Berlin.
Winston Churchill declares that the A-bomb was the only thing that kept the Soviet Union from taking over Europe.
The siege of Dien Bien Phu, the last French outpost in Vietnam, begins after the Viet Minh realize it cannot be taken by direct assault.
The South African government declares a state of emergency after demonstrations lead to the deaths of more than 50 Africans.
An estimated 200,000 anti-war demonstrators march in New York City.
President Lyndon Johnson signs the Consular Treaty, the first bi-lateral pact with the Soviet Union since the Bolshevik Revolution.
U.S. forces in Vietnam down a MIG-21, the first since September 1968.
President Jimmy Carter deregulates the banking industry.
Albania offers a multi-party election for the first time in 50 years.
Watch: SpaceX Sets a New Record! 1st Time Ever Reuses a Rocket for Space Launch!
It seems like every week there is some new event taking place in commercial space exploration. For the first time SpaceX reused a rocket that it had previously flown a View More ›
Thanks to Clyde
Flak towers
On August 25, 1940 the first RAF raid reached Berlin with the objective of bombing Templehof Airport. The attack, an embarrassment to the Nazi regime, triggered Hitler into issuing a series of orders to strengthen the air defense of major German cities and personally drawing sketches for an anti-aircraft "fortress" with gun platforms raised above the neighboring buildings. Over the course of the next few years, eight Flakturms ("flak towers") were built in Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna with several others in the works and similar but smaller installations elsewhere.
Aerial view of the Berlin Zoo flak tower
The first towers, three in Berlin and one in Hamburg, were built in open park areas in order to maximize the range of their batteries. The three Berlin towers were arranged in a triangle around the city center, providing 360° cover in a radius of 8.5 miles. The building project was completed in only six months, with railway timetables being altered to allow the some 1,600 tons of building material to be delivered each day.
A flak tower consisted of two above-ground concrete bunkers: the G-tower (Gefechtsturm, "combat tower"), which held the main battery, and the L-tower (Leitturm, "lead tower"), which was responsible for fire control. The G-tower was 130ft high and 230ft to a side with bastions at each corner. The walls and roof were 10ft and 16 ft thick, respectively, and made of reinforced concrete. This massive size was necessary not only to protect the interior but also to support the weight and absorb the recoil of the 25-ton guns at the top.
One of the quad guns of the Berlin Zoo flak tower. The fire control L-tower can be seen in the background to the right
The standard armament for the G-tower consisted of 4 twin-barrel 128mm cannons, super-sized versions of the infamous 88mm Flak, and 8 four-barrel 20mm guns, with the smaller guns situated on protruding ledges below the roof. The inside of the tower housed five stories of ammunition rooms, crew quarters, hospital wards and air raid shelters with the capacity to protect 10,000 civilians. Artillery rounds were lifted to the roof by a mechanical elevator system.
The L-tower had the same height as the G-tower, but was comparatively more slender. The roof was equipped with searchlights and a radar dish that could be retracted into a shaft for protection. It also had 8 quad 20mm guns. The two towers, some 200 yards apart, were connected to each other with tunnels. Second and third generation flak tower complexes (one in Hamburg and two in Vienna) were built on a less grandiose scale, but using the same main armament.
Responding to an air raid alarm atop the a flak tower in 1944
The 128mm twin guns needed a crew of 21 men each. As the war dragged on, members of the flak crews grew increasingly younger. At the end of the war entire school classes of 14-16-year-old boys were conscripted as flak helpers, first to man the searchlights, later to handle the guns themselves.
In Berlin, the flak towers were the last pockets of resistance during the final days of the war. The victorious Soviet troops had to lay siege to them with tanks and artillery, suffering heavy losses from the rooftop guns but still unable to seriously damage the structures, eventually forcing the Russians to negotiate the towers' surrender. By this time the towers were overcrowded with civilians three times their capacity and the air inside was hard to breathe.
Hitler Youth manning a gun on the Humboldthain tower in Berlin
After the war, attempts were made to demolish the towers. However, their thick concrete walls resisted explosions. Only the tower located in the Berlin Zoo was completely blown up and then buried. The other towers, or what was left of them, acquired new roles. Today, you can find nightclubs and music stores, an aquarium, an art storehouse and other public attractions in them. Two of them are even being considered for use as a solar power plant and a secure data center.
One of the Berlin towers during demolition attempts. The remains are now covered over and appear as a natural hill
The G-tower in Augarten, Vienna
Some April Fool Trivia
April Fools' Day: Origin and History
The uncertain origins of a foolish day
by David Johnson and Shmuel Ross
April Fools' Day, sometimes called All Fools' Day, is one of the most light-hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.
New Year's Day Moves
Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.) In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year's day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.
Problems With This Explanation
There are at least two difficulties with this explanation. The first is that it doesn't fully account for the spread of April Fools' Day to other European countries. The Gregorian calendar was not adopted by England until 1752, for example, but April Fools' Day was already well established there by that point. The second is that we have no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture, and that conjecture appears to have been made more recently.
Constantine and Kugel
Another explanation of the origins of April Fools' Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.
"In a way," explained Prof. Boskin, "it was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor."
This explanation was brought to the public's attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they'd been victims of an April Fools' joke themselves.
Spring Fever
It is worth noting that many different cultures have had days of foolishness around the start of April, give or take a couple of weeks. The Romans had a festival named Hilaria on March 25, rejoicing in the resurrection of Attis. The Hindu calendar has Holi, and the Jewish calendar has Purim. Perhaps there's something about the time of year, with its turn from winter to spring, that lends itself to lighthearted celebrations.
Observances Around the World
April Fools' Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include sending someone on a "fool's errand," looking for things that don't exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.
The French call April 1 Poisson d'Avril, or "April Fish." French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying "Poisson d'Avril" when the prank is discovered.
10 things you might not know about April Fools' Day
March 28, 2010|By Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer
We're just a few days from April 1, a notorious time for hoaxes. We could have waited, but we figured you might not trust these 10 facts if they were printed on April Fools' Day. All indeed are true. Really. No kidding. We promise.
1 The origin of April Fools' Day may be lost to history. One theory centers on people confused by the transition to the Gregorian calendar, but even before that time, there were April Fools'-like hoaxes. In 1983, Boston University professor Joseph Boskin said the practice began when court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor Constantine that they could do a better job than he does, and Constantine made one of them king for a day. Many newspapers picked up Boskin's story — which was an April Fools' Day joke.
2 Ranked by the Museum of Hoaxes as the best April Fools' prank ever was a 1957 BBC report about Switzerland experiencing an early spaghetti harvest. The television show included video of peasants pulling spaghetti from trees and explained that a uniform length for the spaghetti had been achieved through expert cultivation. The BBC got hundreds of phone calls, with most callers asking serious questions, such as where could they buy spaghetti trees.
3 Oh, those Brits. Astronomer Patrick Moore told BBC Radio 2 on April 1, 1976, that the alignment of the planets Pluto and Jupiter would cause a temporary decrease in Earth's gravity at 9:47 a.m. If people jumped in the air at that time, Moore said, they would float for a short while. Indeed, many listeners called the station to say they had floated.
4 Most people know they need to read the Web with a healthy skepticism, but that doesn't mean hoaxes about the Internet don't catch the unwary. In 1994, PC Computing magazine wrote that Congress was considering a bill making it illegal to surf the Internet while drunk. The outcry was great enough that Sen. Edward Kennedy was forced to deny being the sponsor of the nonexistent legislation. In 1996, an e-mail, purportedly from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, informed people that the Internet would be shut down for a day for spring cleaning. The day that users were told to disconnect computers? April 1.
5 In 1997, newspaper readers found chaos on the comic pages. Billy from "Family Circus" was joking with Dilbert. The "Family Circus" mom sported a Dilbert boss-like pointy hairdo. What was going on? The Great Comic Switcheroo. Urged on by "Baby Blues" creators Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, more than 40 cartoonists swapped strips for the day. Among the other switches: Blondie and Garfield, and Shoe and Beetle Bailey.
6 Chicago's WXRT-FM 93.1 has a history of April Fools' hoaxes going back to the 1970s. In 1980, the station promoted the Mayor Jane Byrne April Fool Fest on Navy Pier. On a warm spring day, hundreds of people showed up at what was then a rather derelict padlocked Navy Pier to hear live music, despite the fact that some of the promised artists were dead. In 1998, the station announced it had been purchased by Playboy, was changing the call letters to XXXRT and was touting itself as True Adult Radio. Outraged listeners not only bombarded the station with calls, but also Playboy.
7 Chicago's downtown streets devolved into gantlets of tomfoolery in the 1880s and 1890s when armies of newsboys gathered to harass and taunt passers-by. In 1880, the Tribune reported that one ingenious youngster created a wooden apparatus that chalked the words "April Fool" when tapped lightly on a victim's back.
8 Australian businessman Dick Smith had long discussed his plans to tow an iceberg from Antarctica into Sydney Harbor so he could sell especially pure ice cubes to the public for 10 cents apiece. So when a barge towed a huge white object into the harbor on April 1, 1978, Sydney residents got excited. But then it rained, which dissolved the faux berg — a giant mound of firefighting foam and shaving cream that had been piled on sheets of white plastic.
9 On April 1, 1998, Burger King took out a full-page ad in USA Today to announce a fast-food breakthrough: the Left-handed Whopper. It featured the same ingredients as the regular Whopper, except the condiments were rotated 180 degrees. According to Burger King, thousands of customers requested the new burger, and others asked for a right-handed version.
10 Among the true things that have happened in April 1: The first speaker of the House was elected (1789); American forces landed on Okinawa (1945); the first U.S. weather satellite was launched (1960); and Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple (1976). Born on April 1, 1929, were Czech author Milan Kundera ("The Unbearable Lightness of Being") and University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler ("The Unbearable Heaviness of Losing to Ohio State").
Mark Jacob is the Tribune's editor in charge of putting in commas. Stephan Benzkofer takes out commas for the Tribune.
Sources:,,, The Independent of London, St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press,, WXRT-FM 93.1, and Tribune news services.
Thanks to Carl
April Fool's Day links
"There will definitely be some overlap in these collections of pranks and hoaxes"
Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2017 13:24:31 -0600

With apologies to those who don't live in the deep south – bear with those of us who do.

A Possum is a flat animal that
 sleeps in the middle of the road.
 There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998
   of them live in the South.

 There are 10,000 types of spiders.
   All 10,000 of them live in the South,
   plus a couple no one's seen before.

 If it grows, it'll stick ya.
   If it crawls, it'll bite cha.

 Onced and Twiced are words.

 It is not a shopping cart,
   it is a buggy!

 Jawl-P? means, Did you all go
   to the bathroom?

 People actually grow,eat
   and like okra.

 Fixinto is one word. It means
   I'm going to do that.

 There is no such thing as lunch.
   There is only dinner and then
   there's supper.

 Iced tea is appropriate for all meals and
   you start drinking it when you're two.
   We do
   like a little tea with our sugar.
   It is referred to as
   the Wine of the South.

 Backwards and forwards means I know
   everything about you.

 The word jeet is actually a question
   'Did you eat?'

 You don't have to wear a watch, because
   it doesn't matter what time it is, you work
   until you're done or it's too dark to see.

 You don't PUSH buttons, you MASH em.

 Ya'll is singular. All ya'll is plural.

 All the festivals across the state are named
   after a fruit, vegetable, grain, insect,
   or animal.

 You carry jumper cables in your car –
   for your OWN car.

 You only own five spices: salt, pepper,
   mustard, Tabasco and ketchup.

 The local papers cover national and international news on one page, but require 6 pages for
   local high school sports,
   the motor sports, and gossip.

 Everyone you meet is a Honey, Sugar,
   Miss(first name) or
   Mr.(first name)

 You think that the first day of deer season is a
   national holiday.

 You know what a hissy fit is..

 Fried catfish is the other white meat.

 We don't need no dang
   Driver's Ed. If our mama says
   we can drive, we can drive!!!

 You understand these jokes and forward
   them to your Southern friends and those
   just wish they were from the SOUTH.
AND one more:
Why did the chicken cross the road?   To show that stupid possum that it CAN be done!

Item Number:1 Date: 03/31/2017 AFGHANISTAN - NEW PLAN WITH WASHINGTON EXPECTED TO INCLUDE AS MANY AS 200 HELICOPTERS, AIRCRAFT (MAR 31/VOA)  VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS -- The Afghan Defense Ministry anticipates that it will receive up to 200 helicopters and other aircraft as part of a four-year plan to upgrade its security forces, reports the Voice of America News.   The security plan is on the agenda of a top level U.S. delegation due to visit Kabul in the next few weeks, said a ministry spokesman.   The talks are also expected to cover continuing U.S. assistance as well as Iran, Pakistan and Russia, said one unnamed source.   Washington has long accused Pakistan of providing sanctuaries for the Afghan Taliban and has recently become concerned about growing Iranian and Russian influence in Afghanistan.   The four-year plan also includes doubling Afghan special operations forces, improving training and literacy of security personnel and strengthening intelligence services.  
  Item Number:2 Date: 03/31/2017 BANGLADESH - INTEL CHIEF FROM ANTI-TERRORISM UNIT DIES OF INJURIES FROM BOMB BLAST (MAR 31/BDNEWS24)  BDNEWS24.COM -- The intelligence chief of Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has died of wounds sustained last week during a raid against suspected militants, reports bdnews24 (Bangladesh).   Security forces were raiding a suspected militant hideout in Sylhet (also known as Jalalabad) on March 25 when two bomb blasts hit security forces outside. Six people were killed and at least 40 others were injured, including RAB intel chief Lt. Col. Mohammad Abul Kalam Azad. Four militants were killed.   The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.   The badly wounded Azad was taken to Singapore for treatment, and flown back to Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, on Wednesday night. He died of his injuries early on Friday.   Azad had been hit by grenade shrapnel, said doctors.  
  Item Number:3 Date: 03/31/2017 CHINA - IMPROVING MILITARY RELATIONS WITH U.S. TO INCLUDE JOINT TRAINING, SAYS DEFENSE MINISTRY (MAR 31/XIN)  XINHUA -- China's military relations with the United States have been developing steadily, says the Ministry of Defense in Beijing, as reported by Xinhua, China's state news agency.   There will be more Chinese-U.S. exchanges this year, including high-level talks, institutional dialogues, warship visits, joint training and drills, a ministry spokesman said at a press conference on Thursday.   "Development of China-U.S. military-to-military relationship is in line with the common interests of both countries, and is conducive to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large," he said.   Beijing is prepared to work with Washington to expand cooperation and handle differences properly to strengthen military relations, said the spokesman
  Item Number:4 Date: 03/31/2017 ETHIOPIA - AS EXPECTED, PARLIAMENT PROLONGS STATE OF EMERGENCY (MAR 31/ADSTAND)  ADDIS STANDARD -- Ethiopian lawmakers have decided to extend the state of emergency for another four months, reports the Addis Standard (Addis Ababa).   The emergency was declared in October and was scheduled to end next month.   The House of People's Representatives unanimously agreed to the extension during a meeting on Thursday. The ruling party completely controls the Parliament, as noted by wire services in the West.   The extension was needed because "anti-peace elements" are still active, primarily in border areas, according to Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa.   Over the last several months, armed groups from Somalia have been crossing the border into the Oromia region. Fighting has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed a significant amount of property, the minister said.   The state of emergency was declared in October following large-scale protests in Oromia and elsewhere. A number of civilians were killed in a stampede caused by security forces firing into the air and launching teargas.   Protesters have been marching against the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front party, which has held power since 1991, noted Agence France-Presse.   About 25,000 people have been detained under the emergency, the Guardian (U.K.) reported in February. Hundreds reportedly died in the protests.  
  Item Number:5 Date: 03/31/2017 INDIA - GOVERNMENT OKS BUY OF 100 S. KOREAN SELF-PROPELLED HOWITZERS (MAR 31/TNS)  TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE -- The Cabinet Committee on Security in India has approved the procurement of 100 modified self-propelled howitzers for the Indian army, reports the Tribune News Service.   The US$650 million project calls for domestic firm Larsen Toubro to build 100 K9 Vajra-T howitzers in cooperation with Samsung Techwin in South Korea, said unnamed sources.   Fifty percent of the guns will have indigenous content, noted IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.   All of the guns are to be built within three years.   The 155-mm K9 is capable of hitting targets at a range of 28 miles (45 km
Item Number:6 Date: 03/31/2017 IRAQ - U.S.-LED COALITION AIRSTRIKE DESTROYS ISIS PROPAGANDA TEAM, KILLING 5 (MAR 31/AFP)  AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE -- The Baghdad-based coalition fighting Islamic State says it killed a key terrorist propaganda chief earlier this week in Iraq, reports Agence France-Presse.   Ibrahim Al-Ansari, an ISIS propaganda leader, and four militant associates were killed in an airstrike on March 25 in the Qaim in the western Anbar province, said a coalition spokesman on Thursday.   Al-Ansari was believed to be involved in efforts to recruit foreign fighters and encourage terror attacks in western countries, he said.   The militants killed were part of a multimedia operation team, said another DoD official.   Their work was aimed at the "brainwashing of young children to perpetuate ISIS brutal methods," he said.  
 Item Number:7 Date: 03/31/2017 KENYA - 3 ALLEGED HUMAN-TRAFFICKERS IN CUSTODY, ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING RECRUITS FOR ISIS (MAR 31/DNATION)  DAILY NATION -- Police in Kenya say they have arrested three human-traffickers with suspected links to the Islamic State, reports the Daily Nation (Kenya).   Ali Hussein Ali and two others were arrested on March 27 in the coastal town of Malindi, said police on Thursday. Two are Kenyan and one is a Somali. According to one account, two were on a Kenyan wanted list.   Ali helped smuggle ISIS recruits to Libya, where he had ties with a human trafficking ring, and to Al-Shabaab in Somalia, said police. He also allegedly moved funds around East Africa and abroad for ISIS.   Ali was arrested while demanding US$639,000 for delivering recruits and illegal immigrants to their destination, police said.   The Somali-born Ali reportedly left Kenya in 2010 and joined ISIS in Libya. He returned to Kenya in 2016, said police
Item Number:8 Date: 03/31/2017 NORWAY - CONTRACT SIGNED FOR 5 P-8A POSEIDON MARITIME PATROL AIRCRAFT; DELIVERIES TO START IN 2022 (MAR 31/DEFAERO)  DEFENSE-AEROSPACE -- Representatives of the Norwegian Ministry of Defense have formalized a contract with U.S. authorities for new maritime patrol aircraft, reports   Norway is buying five P-8A Poseidon aircraft through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, the ministry said on Thursday. The contract is worth about US$1.2 billion.   Deliveries will begin in 2022 and conclude the following year, noted the ministry.   The contract also includes modern sensors, monitoring and support systems and new anti-submarine weapons, said Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide.   The Poseidons will replace Norway's existing six P-3 Orion and DA-20 patrol aircraft
Item Number:9 Date: 03/31/2017 PAKISTAN - BLAST NEAR MOSQUE IN KURRAM LEAVES DOZENS OF CASUALTIES; PAKISTANI TALIBAN FACTION CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY (MAR 31/DPAK)  DAILY PAKISTAN -- An explosion outside a mosque in northwestern Pakistan has killed at least 22 people and wounded dozens, reports the Daily Pakistan.   A car packed with explosives was apparently left near the women's entrance to the mosque on Friday, noted the BBC.   The blast took place in Parachinar, the capital of Kurram in the tribal region. This is a predominately Shi'ite area close to the Afghan border.   A lawmaker cited by Reuters said gunfire preceded the explosion -- which he called a suicide attack.   The army dispatched a helicopter to help take the wounded to hospitals.   Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.  
 Item Number:10 Date: 03/31/2017 PAKISTAN - WITH PRESIDENT'S SIGNATURE, MILITARY COURTS GET ANOTHER 2 YEARS (MAR 31/PTI)  PRESS TRUST OF INDIA -- Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain has authorized the extension of military courts for another two years, reports the Press Trust of India.   Military courts were established in January 2015 after a terror attack on an army school in Peshawar left around 150 people dead, mostly children. The courts' two-year mandate expired in January 2017.   On Friday, Hussain signed a constitutional amendment passed by Parliament last week extending the courts.   Human-rights activists have criticized the military courts, not only on their legality, but also for failing to curb terrorism.  
  Item Number:11 Date: 03/31/2017 RUSSIA - BLACK SEA SURFACE SHIPS, SUBS DUEL IN DRILLS (MAR 31/INT-AVN)  INTERFAX-MILITARY NEWS AGENCY -- Ships and submarines of the Russian Black Sea Fleet are squaring up with each other in training, reports Interfax-AVN.   The Novorossiysk-class diesel submarines Stary Oskol and Novorossiysk are conducting surveillance against simulated naval groups and torpedo attacks at ranges in the Black Sea, according to a release this week from the Black Sea Fleet.   The Grisha-V-class corvettes Suzdalets and Muromets are simulating finding and attacking the submarines as part of the exercise, said the release.   Also taking part are Be-12 aircraft and Ka-27PL anti-submarine warfare helicopters, said the fleet
  Item Number:12 Date: 03/31/2017 RUSSIA - SEVMASH LAUNCHES NUCLEAR SUB KAZAN IN SEVERODVINSK (MAR 31/TASS)  TASS -- A shipyard on the White Sea has launched a new nuclear-powered submarine for the Russian navy, reports Tass (Russia).   The Kazan, the second of the Yasen class, was launched Friday at the Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk. The class of boast is also known as Severodvinsk.   The Kazan has been under construction since 2009. She is expected to be handed over to the Russian navy's Northern Fleet in 2018.   Russia expects to have seven Yasen-class subs by 2023. The first, Severodvinsk, was delivered in June 2014
  Item Number:13 Date: 03/31/2017 SOUTH SUDAN - U.N. PROTECTION FORCE TO ARRIVE SOON, SAYS SENIOR OFFICIAL (MAR 31/EA)  EAST AFRICAN -- The outgoing head of the Dept. of Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations says that he expects that a 4,000-man protection force will deploy to South Sudan within a few weeks, reports the East African (Nairobi, Kenya).   The U.N. is working hard to accelerate the deployment of the advance troops to Juba, the South Sudanese capital, within the few weeks, said Herve Ladsous after meeting with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in Juba.   The government in Juba has resisted the deployment since it was authorized by the Security Council in August.   The new force will not include troops from Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Kiir has accused those nations of supporting their economic and military interests rather than working towards peace.   South Sudan is facing a growing threat of ethnic militias in Equatoria, which has caused civilians to flee.   The fighting has also caused food shortages, because farms have been abandoned and aid agencies can't reach the needy.  
  Item Number:14 Date: 03/31/2017 TAIWAN - VIETNAM DENOUNCES SCHEDULED ISLAND COAST GUARD DRILLS IN S. CHINA SEA (MAR 31/CENTNA)  CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY (TAIWAN) -- The government in Taipei has reaffirmed its sovereignty over Taiping Island in the South China Sea following Vietnam's denunciation of recent Taiwanese coast guard exercises in the disputed area, reports the Central News Agency (Taipei).   Taiwan has irrefutable rights over islands in the South China Sea based on international and maritime law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs insisted in a statement on Thursday.   The coast guard conducted what it called a routine drill on Taiping. The scheduled live-fire drill started Wednesday and ends Friday.   On Thursday, Hanoi blasted the drills as a serious violation of its sovereignty and a threat to maritime security, reported Reuters.   The island is also called Itu Aba.  
  Item Number:15 Date: 03/31/2017 UKRAINE - CAR BOMBING KILLS SECURITY OFFICER IN MARIUPOL (MAR 31/RFE/RL)  RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY -- A senior Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) officer has been killed when his car exploded Friday in the country's east, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.   Col. Oleksandr Kharaberyush was killed in a blast in the Black Sea port city of Mariupol, said SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak. "The SBU will do all it can to locate and punish those involved," he said.   Authorities have called the blast an act of terrorism.   A regional police chief said that an investigation had begun. He did not rule out a possible role by pro-Russian separatists.   Ukrainian forces and separatists have clashed for several years just east of Mariupol
Item Number:16 Date: 03/31/2017 UNITED NATIONS - SECURITY COUNCIL COMPROMISES, TRIMMING TROOPS CAP FOR MISSION IN DR CONGO (MAR 31/REU)  REUTERS -- The United Nations Security Council has agreed to reduce the troop cap for the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo following a request by the U.S., say diplomats cited by Reuters.   That mission (MONUSCO) currently has a troop cap of 19,815, though there are only 16,893 soldiers on the ground. Washington sought to drop the cap to 15,000.   The agreement puts the cap of 16,215, said diplomats on Thursday. A vote on Friday is set to renew the mandate of the US$1.2 billion operation, which is the largest and most expensive for the world body.   The draft resolution also keeps the total for police officers at 1,050, another U.S. demand. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had requested to add two extra police units, or 320 officers, to the mission.   Rather, the draft asks Guterres to "explore the possibility of inter-mission cooperation through appropriate transfers of troops and their assets from other United Nations missions to MONUSCO," if needed.   Earlier this week, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, blasted the U.N. for aiding the "corrupt" government in the Congo, which is "inflicting predatory behavior against its own people," as quoted by the Voice of America News.  
  Item Number:17 Date: 03/31/2017 USA - MARINES WANT TO OFFER BONUSES TO KEEP MAINTAINERS, F-35, V-22, F/A-18 PILOTS (MAR 31/MCT)  MARINE CORPS TIMES -- The head of personnel for the U.S. Marine Corps says his service is pushing for retention bonuses for pilots for the first time since 2011, reports the Marine Corps Times.   "The commandant is going forward, requesting from the secretary of Navy and the secretary of defense authority to pay a retention bonus in three communities: F-35, F-18 -- because the legacy platforms are our most challenged platforms right now -- and then the V-22," Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis told a House Armed Services subcommittee on Wednesday.   "F-35 and V-22 are currently growing communities. We don't want be to caught short in those aviation communities," the general said.   The Corps also has plans to offer experienced maintainers financial incentives to re-enlist for four years. During the period, the maintainers would stay in their current squadron for two years, said Brilakis.   The Marine Corps needs to retain young officers as they complete their initial commitments to rebuild its company grade officers in tactical squadrons, said the general. Experienced maintainers are also needed to help train younger personnel.  
Item Number:18 Date: 03/31/2017 USA - NAVY TO CHRISTEN DESTROYER IN MAINE; SHIP NAMED FOR MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT (MAR 31/DOD)  DEPT. OF DEFENSE -- The U.S. Navy is about to christen its newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Maine, reports the Dept. of Defense.   The ceremony is set for Saturday.   The Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) is named after the last living Navy recipient of the Medal of Honor to have served in the Korean War.   Hudner received the Medal of Honor for attempting to save the life of his squadron mate, Ens. Jesse Brown, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. The destroyer will be the first Navy ship to carry his name.   The Thomas Hudner is the 66th Arleigh Burke-class warship and fourth of 14 currently under contract
Item Number:19 Date: 03/31/2017 USA - REVERSING RESTRICTIONS FROM OBAMA ERA, TRUMP WHITE HOUSE AUTHORIZES OFFENSIVE HITS ON AL-SHABAAB IN SOMALIA (MAR 31/S&S)  STARS AND STRIPES -- President Trump has authorized the U.S. military to hit militants in Somalia more aggressively, reported Stars and Stripes.   The White House directive signed on Wednesday grants more authority to U.S. Africa Command to target the Al-Shabaab terrorist group, reported CNN.   "The additional support provided by this authority will help deny Al-Shabaab safe havens from which it could attack U.S. citizens or U.S. interests in the region," said a Pentagon spokesman on Thursday.   The directive authorizes "precision strikes" in support of the African Union mission in Somalia and the Somali military.   In addition, the new authority declares parts of Somalia an "area of active hostilities," where war-zone targeting rules will apply for at least 180 days, said officials cited by the New York Times.   This ends Obama-era restrictions, noted Fox News.   The military was previously operating on standards set in 2013 for strikes away from conventional war zones.   U.S. defense officials say the change will not relax procedures intended to prevent civilian casualties.   Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command, said on Friday that he requested the authority to make more strikes against Al-Shabaab in Somalia, reported Fox News.  
Item Number:20 Date: 03/31/2017 YEMEN - DRONE STRIKE IN ABYAN KILLS 3 SUSPECTED AQAP MILITANTS, INCLUDING LOCAL LEADER (MAR 31/REU)  REUTERS -- An apparent U.S. drone strike in Yemen has killed three suspected members of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), say local officials cited by Reuters.   The overnight airstrike took place in Mozno in the al-Wadie district of Abyan province, said officials and residents.   The dead reportedly included the local leader of the militant group, who was meeting with the others in a house.   Locals also reported of another attack on a suspected AQAP vehicle in Abyan province, but had no knowledge about any casualties. 

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