We can always panic tomorrow.
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Hating the 90's
The freaks at eXile have the 90 worst things about the 90's. That 90s Sham
& That 90s Sham part 2
5. People who say they never go to Starbuck's
The Sham:The idea that your priciples and moral righteousness could be defined by your loudly-announced, selective boycott of a chain like Starbuck's was pure 90s, as if it was somehow worse than any other chain, as if it was really a moral principal and not old-fashioned snobbism. Most didn't avoid 'bucks because it did something wrong, like abuse its workers, make shitty coffee or buy beans from Guatemalan uber-plantations, but only because it was on every street corner in NY and in every food court in Denver. These poor disaffected-yet-well-off Starbuck's-boycotters were furious that the rabble now had access to the things that used to be hard to access, like gourmet coffee. When they bitched about the homogenization of the American city, what they really were whining about was too little feis kontrol.
What did you consider the worst 90's embarrassment?
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What I love about America
I love grocery stores that have pharmacies. How cool is it that you don't have an additional walk or drive to get aspirin?
I love paper bags with handles. In Greece we don't have paper bags, it's plastic only. So in the States, I splurge and use paper bags, the spoiled American that I am.
I love that most houses have a garage. No need to look for parking, you can literally drive your car inside your house.
Clothes dryers. There's nothing better. In Greece, laundry depends on the weather. If it's rainy outside, there's no point in doing laundry, no place to dry the clothes. So here I make a point to do laundry on rainy days, it's like giving nature the finger.
Pleasant cashiers who smile at customers. I especially love the guys at the veggie section of the store because they remind me of the green grocers in Greece but with better produce.
Americans like to smile and I think that's sweet. I like that strangers in the street will smile and say hi. If you made a point of smiling at strangers in Greece, people would either think you want sex or you're mentally unbalanced, in which case they look away and walk faster.
American toilet paper is very soft. I like that a lot.
Ditto for Kleenex. In America, you can almost enjoy having a cold.
Americans love dogs and America is definitely a dog country.
Thai food, Mexican food and sushi in practically every corner on my drive home.
Sales year round, competitive prices and cheap electronics.
American apartments come with a fridge and stove and quite often a dishwasher. Apartments in Greece don't.
Walk-in closets. We had a walk-in closet in the apartment I grew up in Greece too but I didn't realise it was a walk-in closet until I came to the States. In Greece, we had always called it the play room.
Okay, enough of what I love. There's much much more but I want to hear what you love about America.
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Costco: What GM and Wal·Mart aren't
I've always loved shopping at Costco,
and this story does nothing to discourage my ardor for the place. It seems Costco has an egalitarian culture of opportunity for its employees, high wages, extremely low turnover (you get a job there and you don't want to leave), and unpretentious, proportionately-paid leadership. A similar recipe for success is followed by Whole Foods. In the future, the bulk of employment will be in businesses like this, or in free agency. Calcified union workplaces and factories of human misery like Wal·Mart aren't the future.
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Revolt of the 4 Star Generals?
is spinning the Murtha call to infamy as a revolt of the four-star generals. That doesn't quite sit right with me in the plausibility department.
The immense significance of Rep John Murtha's November 17 speech calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq is that it signals mutiny in the US senior officer corps, seeing the institution they lead as "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth", to use the biting words of their spokesman, John Murtha, as he reiterated on December his denunciation of Bush's destruction of the Army.
A CounterPuncher with nearly 40 years experience working in and around the Pentagon told me this week that "The Four Star Generals picked Murtha to make this speech because he has maximum credibility." It's true. Even in the US Senate there's no one with quite Murtha's standing to deliver the message, except maybe for Byrd, but the venerable senator from West Virginia was a vehement opponent of the war from the outset , whereas Murtha voted for it and only recently has turned around.
So the Four-Star Generals briefed Murtha and gave him the state-of-the-art data which made his speech so deadly, stinging the White House into panic-stricken and foolish denunciations of Murtha as a clone of Michael Moore.
It cannot have taken vice president Cheney, a former US Defense Secretary, more than a moment to scan Murtha's speech and realize the import of Murtha's speech as an announcement that the generals have had enough.
Err, sure. Generals take their fight to the media, as if the American military dabbled directly in American politics. Maybe in an alternate fantasy universe...
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Who is next after New Orleans? Probably Sacramento
No city in the entire nation is more at risk of the catastrophic flooding endured by New Orleans than Sacramento, the capital of California. No, hurricanes are not a problem in sunny California, but water is: drought all summer, deluge all winter. The entire Central Valley of California historically was swampland all winter, then dried out under the blazing sun and cloudless skies of summer. Clay soil, like underwater gumbo during the rainy season, dries out to impermeable hardness during the dry season, developing a characteristic pattern of diamond cracks.
Enter the age of agriculture: Levees are built to protect farmland. Levees made of soil, engineered by the most modern methods available to the engineers of the 1800's. What if a levee fails? A few farmhouses are flooded. The fields? Well, their soil was formed and enriched by the deposition of riparian silts, so in the long run, no damage, if anything the soils are refreshed.
Enter the age of hydroelectricity: City populations explode in the baby boom after WWII. The many torrents pouring out of the Sierra Nevada mountains are dammed, tapped for their gravitational energy which is converted into electricity.
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A Letter To Fox's “Heartland With John Kasich"
Good show, relevant subject matter, but one thing needs a bit more *control*...re: Guests on the Christmas political issues surround things like mentioning *Christmas* in school or implying it in song. That pinch faced sorry piece of work attorney who went off on an uncontrolled rant interrupting the other speaker and cited the Holocaust ("...my relatives shoveled in ovens..." paraphrased here) and the *Constitution* as reasons to make schools change a carol from "Silent Night, Holy Night" to "Silent Night, Winter Night" or some such nonsense, and when asked to be quiet by John Kasich, did not shut up.
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The divorce rate in America is around forty to fifty percent and thirty percent of children
live in stepfamilies. I think we have many stereotypes about stepparents, and in some cases they may be true. Can a woman love her stepchildren as much as her own children? I imagine if they lived with her all the time bonding would occur and the line between her stepchildren and her own children would blur. But what about if it's a joint custody and the kids live with their own mom part of the time?
Read the following article and if you're part of a stepfamily, tell us what your experience has been.
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We say democracy, you say oil
Zogby International conducted a poll in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates: Arab nations deeply suspicious of US motives
In the new poll, 69 percent of those surveyed doubted that spreading democracy was the real U.S. objective. Oil, protecting Israel, dominating the region and weakening the Muslim world were seen as U.S. goals.
Asked from a list of countries which they would like to be the superpower, the first choice was France with 21 percent, followed by China with 13 percent, Pakistan and Germany tied with 10 percent, Britain with 7 percent, the United States with 6 percent and finally Russia with 5 percent.
I would be astounded that people would rather have a communist dictatorship as a superpower than a democratic nation that has always fought for liberty and justice but I'm still laughing about the idea of France and Pakistan being in the lead.
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Your kid curses, you pay a fine
Police officers assigned to schools in Connecticut have fined about two dozen students for cursing
in an effort to curtail unruly behavior in schools. The students have to pay a $103 fine and if they can't afford it, their parents have to pay it. Hartford police say the program is working and it has curtailed cursing significantly. I wonder how many of the two dozen students had to pay their own fines though; I suspect it was mom and dad who came to the rescue.
"Our heads are spinning with that," said Sam Saylor, president of the district Parent Teacher Organization. "The kids are really indecent with their swearing and they're swearing at teachers. This is their way of curtailing it — making the parents pay."
I can understand Saylor's concern; I also believe that students should take personal responsibility and face the consequences of their actions. On the other hand, their parents can make sure they do exactly that.
George Sugai, who teaches school discipline at UConn's Neag School of Education, is skeptical of the effort. "Research says that punishing kids doesn't teach them the right way to act," he said.
School discipline with no punishment? Mr Sugai must be some sort of miracle worker.
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Belgian tabloid glorifies female suicide bomber
has pictures of the transformation of a Belgian tabloid to trumpet the first Belgian suicide bomber, a female convert to Islam named Muriel Degauque.
Just compare these two cover pages from Belgium's La Derniere Heure newspaper (tabloid from Namur, south-west of Brussels). On the right, the usual cover with metro news and sports events. On the left, today's cover with the whole page dedicated to the first western woman likely identified as a "suicide bomber" in Iraq.
A real scoop for the newspaper and a real wave of emotion in Belgium. What is interesting here is that the newspaper totally changed the design of its cover for this exceptional occasion.
Luckily she didn't manage to kill anyone when she exploded herself; she was trying to kill American soldiers, the vacuous bitch. Sadly, La Derniere Heure has now assured copycat murderers that they will be fêted in the newspaper.
Before-and-after pictures under the fold:
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White is the new black!
The New York Times says
that even though the stock market is up, factories are humming, housing is hot, consumer confidence is up, and gasoline is cheaper, and economists expect 220,000 new jobs to have been created last month, unemployment is under 5%, and the economy grew 3.8% in the last quarter, you shouldn't think that means the economy is doing well. It's actually doing worse than you think.The Economist says
that even though Eurozone monetary policy is tight and about to get tighter, unemployment is higher than 8%, growth is a meager 2.6%, private sector consumption shrank in Germany for the third quarter in a row, and economists expect growth to slow to 1.6% next year, you should think Europe is doing just great! It's actually doing better than you think.
If you have any questions, please report to the Ministry of Newspeak, Thoughtcrime and Doublethink.
UPDATE: US growth in the third quarter has been revised upwards, to 4.3%!
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Notes on the way to Victory
As someone who is basically an idle flake with a short attention span, I've been down on President Bush lately because of the seeming lack of progress in Iraq and at home. Well, his speech today
at the US Naval Academy put my Iraq concerns to rest. One thing I was worried about was that Bush and Rumsfeld were becoming estranged, which doesn't seem to be true. Bush spoke of him fondly in his speech. Reassuringly, Senator Warner of the Senate Armed Services Committee was there too. Senator Warner was one of the Senators who met with field commanders directly to ascertain the state of Iraq. As Time reported it,
the commanders wanted more troops because they were having to leapfrog about Iraq constantly. President Bush paints a much different picture: we're turning forward operating bases over to Iraqi units and consolidating our presence there. I'm starting to think Time's leaker was a Democrat's staffer who made highly selective edits to the field commanders' testimony.
Much more under the fold.
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airforceguy's got your WMD right here
Over at Air Force Family: Lies My Congressman Told Me
by airforceguy details his experience working for the Iraq Survey Group under David Kay. He not only found WMD, but had it used against him. Binary sarin, mustard shells, yellowcake, enriched uranium-you name it, it was in Iraq. Read the whole thing; there's a book recommendation at the end, too. Best line:
We found yellowcake, Joe Wilson, and eventually enriched uranium, Scott Ritter.
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Students having a voice
A high-school newspaper in Tennesee published an article about birth control, listing success rates for different methods and suggestions on where to get contraceptives. It also published a photo of a student's tattoo while the student, who was not identified, had not told her parents about the tattoo. School administrators confiscated all copies of the newspaper
and of course this started another First Amendment debate.
"This is a terrible lesson in civics," University of Tennessee journalism professor Dwight Teeter said. "This is an issue about the administration wanting to have control. Either the students are going to have a voice, or you're going to have a PR rag for the administration."
I beg to differ with professor Teeter. I don't think stories about birth control and tattoos are appropriate in a high school newspaper, these students are not adults and the same freedoms that apply to adults don't necessarily apply to them. Fourteen-year-olds who may still have a sense of innocence about their childhood should have the right to hold on to that innocence for as long as possible. Teenagers who want information about adult subjects such as tattoos and birth control, can visit a magical place called "the internet."
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Ridiculous Lawsuit #42,639
Couple Sues Operators of Evolution Site
A California couple has sued the operators of a University of California-Berkeley Web site designed to help teachers teach evolution, claiming it improperly strays into religion.
Jeanne and Larry Caldwell of Granite Bay say portions of the Understanding Evolution Web site amount to a government endorsement of certain religious groups over others because the site is partly funded through a public money grant from the National Science Foundation.
In the lawsuit filed last month, the Caldwells contend the site is an effort "to modify the beliefs of public school science students so they will be more willing to accept evolutionary theory as true."
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The C Word
Boston doesn't have a Christmas tree this year, it has a "holiday tree"
. Supposedly this is all about taxpayer-funded displays of religious icons and separation of church and state. I think it's silly and a non-issue. So there's a Christmas tree up for a few weeks, so what? Will there be Christians with knives roaming the streets looking to kill non-Christians? I mean the worst thing about Christmas (besides overcrowded malls, family dinners and gift exchanges) is the music. I guess there's only a limited number of Christmas songs so they have to play them over and over again, everywhere. Now that, they should outlaw.
(By the way, in Greece the traditional symbol for Christmas is a boat. I just thought I'd throw that out there.)
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Stanley "Tookie" Williams, co-founder of the Crips, one of the bloodiest gangs in Los Angeles, was convicted in 1981 for the murder of four people and has been in death row since. Nobel laureates, politicians and celebrities are urging Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant clemency
to Mr Williams, saying he has turned his life around and has worked to stem gang violence.
All well and good and they have the right to petition for clemency and to lobby against the death penalty. The part that gets me is that Williams has been nominated for a Nobel peace prize. I don't understand how a murderer who has contributed to the deaths and injuries of thousands, can even be thought of as a peacemaker but I guess Arafat has set a precedent. As far as Williams turning his life around and renouncing gang violence, well, he's been on death row for over twenty years, I'm sure he's had some time to think about things. It still doesn't change the fact that he's a violent murderer and a gang leader, why does he deserve a Nobel nomination?
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Thanksgiving day is a day to thank God for capitalism!
Oddly enough, I didn't know this
so I'm bringing it to your attention. Did you know that the Pilgrims got in their starvation situation because of their Communist economic system, and that they immediately started prospering and stopped dying of starvation when they reintroduced private property? True history! Apparently the first Americans invented Communism four hundred years ago, discovered it didn't work, and dumped it ASAP. You upstart Euros could learn a thing or two from our ancient civilization!
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Just how feckless was Mike Brown?
He ignored emails about people dying and fished pathetically for sartorial kudos from his advisers. He was taking advice to roll up his sleeves on the news shows so he would look like an Action Ranger, and bragging about how he was a "fashion god" in his FEMA outfits. Truly a wretched show. Good riddance.
Oh, and before anyone criticizes me for citing CBS, click the pdf link in their story and read it for yourself. They're not exaggerating.
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Chickenhawks, My Ass
drives a mighty stake through the chickenhawks' favorite argument-why aren't Republicans sending their boys to die in Iraq? Guess what. They are.
In fact, he demonstrates that a Republican's child is 3.5 times more likely to be serving in the military than a Democrat's child. Oh, snap! Can we call them unpatriotic yet? No? How about "patriotically challenged"?
Quote edited for space is under the fold, or just click the link and read the whole thing.
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The Art of War: human cunning bests US technology
StrategyPage reports on the exploits of the Serbian battery commander who managed to down a F-117 jet during the Bosnian NATO campaign. He used his cunning, leadership, and spies to outwit NATO's robotic remote-controlled war tactics, and managed to shoot down two state-of-the-art aircraft and force dozens more to abort their missions with nothing more than animal wile and missiles designed in 1961 and thought to be obsolete. Read it all
and marvel at the most dangerous animal, a human.
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This is one of the weirdest stories I've read: Restaurant Shift Turns Into Nightmare
An 18-year-old McDonald's worker was accused of stealing a purse by her manager who was talking on the phone with a "police officer". Louise Ogborn was ordered to strip, to do jumping jacks naked, she was tormented and sexually abused for the next two hours by the manager and the manager's boyfriend who were following the orders of the caller on the phone. Two more employees were ordered to come in and supervise Louise while she was huddled on the floor naked but they refused to comply with the stranger's requests and they left.
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When a mob dictates whether you can attend classes or not
A mob breaks into a university
, destroys lecture halls and offices and badly beats two students who are trying to attend classes. Another mob takes cover in another part of the university and comes out sporadically to throw molotovs and set cars on fire. The police are seeing all this but are helpless to intervene because Greek law prohibits them from entering university grounds, the university is considered an "asylum." So, university deans, in addition to their administrative and teaching duties, also have to play peacemaker and negotiator to "fringe elements" who want to destroy the place for one reason or another.
The idea of not allowing police to enter university grounds may have been solid thirty years ago when Greece was recovering from a bloody student revolt where tanks and military police broke into the Polytechnic School in Athens to crush a student rebellion. But the abuse that this principle has taken over the last few decades should bring the idea back to the discussion table, perhaps it's time to establish a university police. Don't Greek students deserve the same protection as the rest of the Greek citizens?
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It looks like Massachusetts's Baby Boomers plan on leaving the state in mass numbers when they retire.
I find this nauseating, especially when you read their reasons, many of which are self-inflicted. Sure, bad weather's in there and I can't blame that on them, but everything else is their fault, from high housing costs (zoning and rent control laws) to high property taxes (they did it!) to high insurance costs (they sue too much) to regulation (they keep electing liberals). They made their bed, they should lay in it!
What's a more unappetizing and unappealing spectacle than aging leftists escaping the consequences of the policies they voted for by moving to places where the locals had better common sense, in order to ruin them too? Californians started this whole trend after they decided to start moving en masse to their neighboring states to ruin them for the locals, too. Now the same people who ruined Massachusetts want to ravage Florida, New Hampshire and the Carolinas in their dotage. Just great.
Stay in Massachusetts, you jerks!
First they voted with their hearts, and now they're fleeing the predictably bad results by voting with their feet. If only they would consider voting with their heads, we could really get somewhere.
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Was McCain the leaker of the CIA prisons story?
Jack Wheeler's GOP staffer sources
say he was, and if so, there will be truly monumental consequences for him. I always knew you were a loose cannon, but this is really obscene, Senator McCain.
Suddenly recent Senate legislation makes a lot more sense. If he was the leaker, McCain was trying to build momentum for his Senate bill by telling national security secrets to the press. Boy, that's a guy I want to see in the White House. Don't you?
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Notes From Babylon: We're Winning Decisively, But We Need More Troops
Did you know that the enemy is using Google Earth to scope out our soldier's positions from overhead? I'm just shaking my head in wonderment that our military hasn't put a stop to that, and that Google doesn't have the common sense to degrade the quality of its satellite imagery service in warzones.
And did you know that the enemy has handheld GPS and top-of-the-line explosives? Ahem...Iran.
Dr. Jack Wheeler, the thinking man's own private CIA, has these notes taken by a Marine's father when he was home on leave: ALLAH’S WAITING ROOM
Highlights: a lot of our guns suck, but a lot of them are great. The new body armor is fantastic. Most dead jihadis were high on opium. We are extracting casualties at a 25:1 and we have killed 50,000 of them so far. Every engagement is decisively in our favor. Morale is very high in Iraq. BUT WE NEED MORE TROOPS TO WIN. Are you listening, Rumsfeld?
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Executing an innocent man
Ruben Cantu went on trial for capital murder when he was 17 years old, was found guilty and was executed by the state of Texas nine years later. The only problem is he may not have been guilty after all: Investigation Suggests Wrong Man Executed
. The only witness to the crime recanted and his co-defendant said that Ruben wasn't even on the scene of the murder. I don't understand why these two witnesses didn't speak up all these years, I guess their conscience was okay with sending an innocent person to death row. The district attorney who handled the case now says he never should have sought the death penalty and the forewoman of the jury that convicted Ruben stated that "with a little extra work, a little extra effort, maybe we'd have gotten the right information, the bottom line is, an innocent person was put to death for it. We all have our finger in that."
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Field Commanders: Bush Administration lying about Iraq troop levels
It sure sounds fishy.
According to Time Magazine, Senator Warner (head of the Senate Armed Services Committee) and two other senators held a private meeting with 10 Iraq war commanders, skipping their Pentagon superiors. They wanted to get some unvarnished truth from them, and apparently, the commanders complained that they do NOT have enough troops to do the job! Not only that, but they've asked
for it repeatedly, and been denied.
Why are Bush and Rumsfeld refusing to send enough troops to do the job? I hate to say it, but it looks like they took their position and now refuse to back down for political reasons, even though it's costing American lives. I'm really becoming disillusioned with their prosecution of the war. Quote under the fold.
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The Man Has A Point
on Republican hypocrisy. It's overblown in a lot of ways-I think grassroots Republican concern for the military is sincere-but I can't really argue with it.
Top Republican leaders in Congress are too often more concerned with blocking needed base closings and nailing big contracts to build multibillion dollar albatrosses and white elephants in their districts than they are with the military's needs.
Sometimes it's hell having politicians leading the military around by the nose, but I can't think of a better way.
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Zarqawi Possibly Dead (for the 650th time this year)
A thimbleful of cognac to zulubaby and if this story is true, two thimblefuls. Hell, if this story is true, pass her the bottle: Report: al-Zarqawi killed by explosions in Mosul
At least one Arab television media outlet reported that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed in Iraq on Sunday afternoon when eight terrorists blew themselves up in the in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
The unconfirmed report claimed that the explosions occurred after coalition forces surrounded the house in which al-Zarqawi was hiding.
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What 'God' in America?
I read through Zorkie’s post God in America
and while I am in agreement with much of it, as an Atheist, I wanted to address this.
In almost all of their writings, it is evident that the founding fathers were Deists -- they believed in a creator, but not such that Christianity or the bible offered. Instead, they needed a "supreme author" of existence but not one who necessarily was involved in the day to day requirements or needs of humanity.
Deism was very popular at the time, and waned when Darwin's Origin's of Life made it clear that a creator was not necessarily required.
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A public humiliation
Would you do this to your daughter?
Tasha Henderson got tired of her 14-year-old daughter's poor grades, her chronic lateness to class and her talking back to her teachers, so she decided to teach the girl a lesson. Mom Makes Daughter Stand on Street Corner
She made Coretha stand at a busy Oklahoma City intersection Nov. 4 with a cardboard sign that read: "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food."
If you're a parent, what methods do you use to discipline your children and how effective are they?
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Racism and Hate Crimes
In the United States, there have been 150 hate crimes directed at Muslims in the last three years. There have been 954 hate crimes directed at Jews, last year alone.In hate crimes, racism is likeliest motive
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WWIII : Mullahs will Enrich Uranium, With the Help of Russia
The United States and Europe have tentatively agreed on a plan to accept expanded nuclear activity by Iran, but only if the enrichment process is moved to Russia, senior officials and diplomats said yesterday.West agrees to allow Iran to enrich uranium - in Russia
If accepted by Iran, the compromise proposal could end a dispute over whether to refer the Islamic republic to the United Nations' Security Council.
Officials and diplomats said the plan would allow Iran to continue converting raw uranium into the gas that is spun by centrifuges into enriched uranium without international sanctions.
But actual enrichment would take place in Russia.
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The epitome of manhood
was in the 101st Airborne, and he lost an eye in Iraq to a suicide bomber. Now he's back as a Ranger.
On the morning of December 9, 2003, Peter Sprenger was 2 weeks from the end of an eventful tour in Iraq. He'd been at the "tip of the spear," in army parlance, spending the preceding 10 months roaring through the invasion of Iraq, occupying Baghdad, securing other restive towns. As a member of the 101st Airborne Division, he had a clear mission: to probe for trouble and take care of it. But on that particular morning, the trouble found him.
Corporal Sprenger drew radio duty that day in company headquarters in Tal Afar, 60 miles southwest of Mosul. He felt relatively safe in the shadow of a two-story guard tower, behind barbed wire and barricades, sheltered by a 12-foot-high cinder-block wall. The front doors of the building were open to the morning air. Sprenger wore no flak jacket, no helmet.
At 4:40 a.m., he heard gunfire and suspected that it issued from neighboring buildings. But, no, it had come from the guard tower, and the bullets and barricades had failed to halt a suicidal insurgent bent on delivering 1,000 pounds of TNT to the 101st's doorstep. The bomb detonated 10 to 15 yards from where Sprenger was standing.
Knocked down and blinded by the explosion, he crawled back to his position and patted himself down for missing parts. He felt warm blood, punctured flesh, and a confused tangle of facial features. He peeled back a tattered eyelid and saw a spiderweb of lines radiating out from a bloodred center. He remembers thinking, Yes, well, we'd better let a professional deal with that one.
The eye that Corporal Sprenger sacrificed that morning, the seven units of blood he left on the walls and floor, are real costs. "Going through all that changes you," he notes, with typical understatement. For a lot of men, it would embitter or destroy them. But in Sprenger's case, it focused his vision of who he is and what he hopes to gain from his life. "People don't look far enough into the future," he says, "and gauge what's realistic for them to accomplish."
But he has. And that vision drove him to rehab his many wounds, turn down the desk job the army offered, and gear up for the most rigorous training any infantryman can endure: Ranger School.
Sprenger not only passed it, but was also singled out as the epitome of the Ranger creed--"Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to . . . complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor"--and asked to recite that creed at his graduation ceremony last July.
Since the army began keeping records a quarter century ago, he is the first man with his kind of physical disability to earn the Ranger patch. And by the time you read this, he will have returned to Iraq. As he puts it, he needs to finish what he started.
You can't keep a good man down. Read the whole thing.
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America's UAV roadmap: no Architecture Astronauts allowed
Joel Spolsky is my favorite writer on software because he's practical, funny, and wise. He explains user interface design in terms of his experience working in an Israeli bakery,
for instance. Not the kind of guy who gets too lost in his own fog of bullshit. But he does know fogs of bullshit when he sees them. Here's Joel talking about a certain class of people he calls "Architecture Astronauts":
When great thinkers think about problems, they start to see patterns. They look at the problem of people sending each other word-processor files, and then they look at the problem of people sending each other spreadsheets, and they realize that there's a general pattern: sending files. That's one level of abstraction already. Then they go up one more level: people send files, but web browsers also "send" requests for web pages. And when you think about it, calling a method on an object is like sending a message to an object! It's the same thing again! Those are all sending operations, so our clever thinker invents a new, higher, broader abstraction called messaging, but now it's getting really vague and nobody really knows what they're talking about any more. Blah.
When you go too far up, abstraction-wise, you run out of oxygen. Sometimes smart thinkers just don't know when to stop, and they create these absurd, all-encompassing, high-level pictures of the universe that are all good and fine, but don't actually mean anything at all.
These are the people I call Architecture Astronauts. It's very hard to get them to write code or design programs, because they won't stop thinking about Architecture. They're astronauts because they are above the oxygen level, I don't know how they're breathing. They tend to work for really big companies that can afford to have lots of unproductive people with really advanced degrees that don't contribute to the bottom line.
I was delighted to read about the Pentagon's new roadmap for unmanned aerial systems/vehicles, because unlike a lot of Pentagon advanced-weapons development plans, it contains lots and lots of practical admonishment to the agencies developing the next generation of UAVs, and not too much fogheaded claptrap. For one thing, it's focused on the needs of the warfighters of now:
In the foreword, senior officials report that the roadmap is aimed at guiding the Defense Department toward a systematic migration of UAS mission capabilities, focused on the most urgent warfighter needs.
More encouraging signs of clear-headed thinking at the top:
First, they say, UASes have matured to the point where they are no longer to be considered for “niche missions" but can be applied across the range of military activities. “Instead of asking, ‘Can we find a mission for this [UAS]?’ one will ask, ‘Why are we still doing this mission with a human?’?" the authors say.
Second, the authors seem ready to rely on commercial initiatives to meet future requirements; to accept capability that is delivered in installments, rather than all at once; and to think of UASes as disposable—which, so far, has not been the case.
“A 50 percent solution tomorrow is often better than a 70 to 80 percent solution in three years and better than a 95 percent solution in 10 years," say the study’s authors. “Commercial solutions avoid using defense development dollars, which provides the opportunity for other developments," such as thinking of UASes as short-term, “consumable" systems.
Rather than buying UASes in large lots, they might be bought in barely sufficient quantities and replaced or augmented a few years later with new and improved models. The authors make the analogy to TVs, DVD players, and desktop computers—items often cheaper to replace than to repair.
The authors want a thorough understanding of the mission to be performed before developing UASes to meet it, since they believe that UASes can be tailor-made with precisely the amount of capability needed—and not more.
“Do NOT," the authors warn in capital letters, “make a [UAS] and then find a mission for it ... [or] design a low observable aircraft and then try to figure out how to make it do a strike or suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) mission."
Give these guys a promotion! They should be in charge of all
military procurement and technology development roadmaps, because they know exactly what they're doing.
UPDATE: forgot the damn link.
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Counterinsurgency training making a comeback
Army adapts to 'war of the flea' in Iraq
From the beginning of next year, the syllabus at the Command and General Staff College will include 18 hours on the theory of counterinsurgency.
One of the books that will be required reading at the college -- an essential career step for all officers who want to rise above the rank of major -- is a textbook by David Galula which was first published in 1964.
It deals with the central dilemma facing counterinsurgency forces: To break an insurgency you need intelligence about the insurgents from the population. But the population will not talk to counterinsurgency forces unless it feels safe from retribution from the insurgents. It does not feel safe as long as insurgents are active.
In Iraq, assassinations and bomb attacks have killed thousands of people seen as sympathetic to the Americans or working with the government. The Iraqi civilian death toll has topped 50 a day on average for many months.
Crime and lawlessness have added to the perception, reflected in Iraqi opinion polls, that U.S. forces are providing little or no security to Iraqis -- the key condition for winning the hearts and minds of the population.
Galula's book first appeared at about the same time as another treatise on counterinsurgency that is now high on contemporary military reading lists because of Iraq, "War of the Flea" by Robert Taber.
Taber likened guerrillas to fleas and conventional armies to dogs. The dog is always at a disadvantage against the flea -- he has "too much to defend, too small, ubiquitous and agile an enemy to come to grips with. If the war continues long enough ... the dog succumbs to exhaustion and anemia without ever having found anything on which to close its jaws or to rake with its claws."
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Telephone jury-duty scam in Alaska
Authorities fear Alaskans, particularly members of the state's military population, could be victimized by telephone con artists working a new twist on an old scam.Telephone jury scam threatens Alaskans
Attorney General David Marquez issued a warning Tuesday that Alaskans should watch out for the telephone calls that aim to work the scam by preying on the target's fear of acquiring a criminal record.
The scam works like this: A person claiming to be a court clerk calls and says a bench warrant has been issued for your arrest for not showing up for jury duty.
Aghast, you say there must be a mistake.
"The scammer will then reassure the victim of the possibility this is all 'just a misunderstanding' or 'some sort of clerical error' that can all be easily corrected if the victim will simply 'verify' their information with a few simple questions," according to a statement Tuesday from the Alaska Department of Law.
The scammer then tries to get as much personal information as possible, including Social Security number, date of birth, and credit card or bank account numbers, claiming they will be used by a credit bureau to verify the victim's identity, officials said.
People who balk at the information request are given a swift ultimatum: Cooperate or we issue the bench warrant.
"Family members who receive these calls are especially vulnerable to coercion," the law department statement said -- especially if the family is a military one. "Threats against the victim's military career, should he/she be arrested and have a criminal record, are frightening and persuasive."
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The War on the Border
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What's your worst costume ever? I once dressed as a pumpkin. I'll just say that it was not one of my most glorious moments and leave it at that.
And speaking of Halloween, here's a good place to be a witch: Dutch Witches Get Tax Break for Studies
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Bias or Conformity?
Some research findings from a survey conducted on 1,201 minority US managers: Not our kind of people
42 percent of minority professional women in large corporations feel constrained by the white male model -- constantly editing themselves, engaged in the hopeless task of trying to look, sound, and act like white male executives. Thirty-four percent of minority men feel the same way.
Nearly a third of minority female executives fear that their speaking style and tone of voice label them as lacking leadership potential. Asians think they speak too softly to be considered CEO material; African-Americans think that they speak too loudly and are therefore seen as trouble-makers.
23 percent of minority female executives are concerned that their animated hand gestures are thought of as inappropriate. ''You can't imagine how often I sit on my hands at team meetings," said one Hispanic woman we interviewed.
19 percent of minority female professionals worry that their clothing (hairstyle or even manicure) stands out as being too ethnic or flamboyant. In the words of one African-American executive, ''Large earrings, the wrong nails -- stuff that wouldn't begin to attract attention on a white colleague -- makes me stand out like a sore thumb."
30 percent of minority professionals feel that promotion in their companies is based on appearance rather than merit.
The bottom line: 19 percent of minority professionals experience hidden biases severe enough to make them consider quitting. This is a wake-up call for companies. Since minorities comprise 30 percent of the highly qualified talent pool, hidden bias is a luxury few employers can afford.
I believe the authors of the study have it all wrong. I don't think it's anything to do with bias, I think it's about conforming to corporate culture. There are many things that I hate about corporate culture myself, especially pantyhose. I hate pantyhose and I believe I should have the right to not have to wear pantyhose at work. Also, if my co-workers can have corn-rows then so can I and I demand the right to wear corn-rows whether I like them or not. On the issue of long nails: I hate long nails and I think they're disgusting, not to mention the bacteria that's hiding in there. Long nails gross me out in general, I don't care who wears them and I don't care what their ethnicity is. On the issue of animated hand gestures: if it wasn't for animated hand gestures, many of us (and our various Italian, Greek, Israeli and Arab bosses) would be mute. No one at work has ever complained about my animated hand gestures but then again, my gestures didn't involve giving anyone the finger. So on this one, I could go either way.
On the matter of ethnic dressing, see above pantyhose statement. I do believe we should have the freedom to wear anything we want at work and not be stuck with the drab suit and pantyhose. I'm not asking to wear a toga fercrissakes, I'm just saying that if evariste doesn't have to wear pantyhose to work, why do I have to?
And about speaking loudly, since when is a loud voice a matter of ethnicity?
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A Swirl Of Misinformation
The reports coming out of New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were shocking. Stories of murder, rape, and relief helicopters being fired upon raced around the world in the form of breathless headlines. Problem is, most of them were wrong.Katrina Cock-Ups: Exaggerated Stories of Hurricane Chaos in New Orleans
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The More Things Change...
This is a US military field guide to Iraq for soldiers
In World War II.
To protect Iraq's oil from Hitler.
I had no idea we had ever had troops in the Middle East in World War II, I thought North Africa was pretty much it for Europe-adjacent, Islamic-majority theaters.
an interesting read, and a breezy one too. We fought our wars back then the same way we do now; the guide is full of admonishments to respect Iraqis, behave honorably and be culturally sensitive. The only thing that might be different is that I doubt the modern army would advise a soldier to hand out cigarettes-that might kill someone, you see-and I doubt it would mention where to find prostitutes either.
click for full size
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Tasteless Rosa Parks Cartoon
In keeping with zorkie's bizarre cartoon theme of the morning, here's something from outer space:
I think it's supposed to be a sweet tribute, that poor Rosa kept fighting her fight till she died and finally got to stop and come to Jesus, but it's not even accurate. Rosa Parks on the bus was a seminal moment for America, but she went back to a quiet life after that, and America changed. I'm sure the cartoonist meant well, but this just leaves my jaw on the floor.
via Brittney at Nashville Is Talking,
who doesn't name the origin or cartoonist. Anyone else seen this or know who did it?
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Blogging from work
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Iranians in the Gulf of Mexico
Iran is setting up a base of operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Earlier this year, a top Iranian General made the following boast: “Iran is the biggest military power in the region (with) 10 million volunteers for martyrdom operations ... to turn Iran into a terrible nightmare for the United States," General Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr, deputy commander of Iran’s hardline Revolutionary Guards, told the Kayhan newspaper.
This summer, the BBC reported an ad in an Iranian publication has calling for volunteers for "martyrdom operations" against the enemies of Islam. The ad was published by an institute managed by one of Iran's most conservative and radical clerics, Ayatollah Masbah Yazdi, who has declared his support for Iran's new President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. It recruits men and women to enlist with the "Martyrdom Lovers' Headquarters".
So I find it more than a little ironic that the same country that is actively recruiting volunteers to conduct suicide missions against United States and US interests, and is openly bragging about it, has now been granted a base of operations in the Gulf of Mexico, within easy striking distance of America’s Gulf Coast.
The Iranian Offshore Engineering and Construction Company is expected to begin shortly a major $90 million dollar project laying pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. The company says it will be laying 36-inch pipes 60-70 meters under water.
The company expects to be handing the rest of the $400 million dollar project as well.
According to a press release on IRNA, “The Gulf of Mexico project will help the Iranian company gain valuable experiences given the large presence of European and American companies in the area."
The press release also states that the “project will need many divers and sophisticated technology."
Is anyone in our government paying attention here?
A country which has made one threat after another against the US for over two and a half decades, is now being provided in essence a base of operations in the Gulf of Mexico, within striking distance of much of the US oil supply.
They will have carte blanche to bring in divers, submersibles, and highly sophisticated technical equipment. Since they will be in essence subcontractors for the Mexican oil industry, they will most likely be able to circumvent export controls for many types of hardware and software that would not normally be eligible for export to Iran.
Hello? Is anyone listening?
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War is not popular
Majority of Americans now feel Iraq war was wrong
For the first time, a majority of Americans believe the Iraq war was the "wrong thing to do", according to a poll published in The Wall Street Journal.
Fifty-three percent of those asked in the Harris Interactive survey felt that "taking military action against Iraq was the... wrong thing to do", against 34 percent who thought it was correct, the newspaper said.
The percentage of people opposing the US-led invasion of the country in March 2003 was up from a figure of 49 percent in a parallel poll in September, rising above 50 percent for the first time since the surveys began.
A year before, in September 2004, both sides were even at 43 percent.
The latest poll also found that 66 percent of Americans believed President George W. Bush was doing a "poor" or "only fair" job of handling Iraq, against 32 percent who deemed it "excellent" or "pretty good".
With the number of US military fatalities in Iraq approaching 2,000, 44 percent of those polled said the situation for US troops in Iraq was getting worse, compared to 19 percent who thought it was improving.
Sixty-one percent were not confident US policies in Iraq would succeed, two points higher than in September.
The poll asked the opinions of 1,833 people online from October 11-17.
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Caught with his hand in the cookie jar
Galloway accused of lying to US panel
Two thimblefuls of cognac to papijoe (the extra is to make up for the guilt I feel for not giving him a thimbleful of cognac in the first place)
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Rosa Parks: mother of the civil rights movement
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Entitled to Equal Protection
Kansas laws specify short prison sentences or parole for minors engaged in sexual activity unless the participants are gay in which case they receive harsher punishment. The Kansas Supreme Court struck down the law, saying that "moral disapproval of such conduct is not enough to justify the different treatment"
I think the court made the right decision even though it intrudes on the Legislature's authority. Sometimes I think if left to legislation, gay people would have no rights at all.
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Thirteen-year-old girls get sold from one pimp to another for $50. They get sent out to trucking routes, all across America, and the younger they are the more they're worth on the street. Approximately 1 million to 1.5 million children in America are runaways and a third of them have been involved in prostitution. That's 300,000 to 500,000 kids whose average life expectancy once they start prostituting themselves is about seven years. Young Lives For Sale
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The Evil Corporatization of Ice Cream
WSJ editor Stephen Moore, on his recent visit to Ben & Jerry's ice-cream factory:
To be in Vermont and not visit this landmark would be as unforgivable as visiting Rome and not going to the Colosseum. So I slapped down three bucks and waited in the gift shop where a pint of ice cream costs $3.99--which to me borders on price-gouging. (One of the supreme ironies of this socially conscious firm is that it is one of the best capitalists you'll ever come across.)
The tour itself is a 30-minute propaganda campaign explaining why the company's founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for their unwavering commitment to the environment and economic justice.
Meanwhile, their factory is a monument to the efficiencies of capitalism and technological progress: Several dozen giant computer-operated machines churn out hundreds of thousands of cartons a day. I half expect the massive energy-gulping freezers to be solar-paneled or powered by green-friendly windmills, but no, they use lots and lots of conventional electricity. It turns out that if you want really good ice cream, you just have to tolerate a little more global warming. That's a trade-off that I personally am willing to make.
Read the rest here: Ice Cream Hangover
(a thimbleful of cognac to Jim Russell)
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Avian Flu Survival Action Plan!
I'd like to start this post with a truly creepy map:
Click for full-size. Map depicts spread of Avian Flu from Asia to Europe.
The Wall Street Journal has a new Avian Flu News Tracker
and it's in the free section, so you don't have to be a subscriber. Highlights for today:
- Europe's top health officials met in Chandler's Cross, England, to map out a collective strategy against avian flu.
- Roche has agreed to sublicense Tamiflu to four generic drug makers and other companies that are capable of producing the drug. (...) Roche will meet with the four makers -- Teva Pharmaceuticals, Barr Laboratories, Mylan Laboratories and Ranbaxy Laboratories -- as early as next week.
- A preliminary test found no evidence of the H5N1 avian flu virus on a farm, located on the Greek island of Oinouses, where a sick turkey was found. EU health inspectors went to the farm to monitor Greece's handling of the situation. The negative test result came from an EU reference lab in Weybridge, England, and contradicted an earlier test by a Greek laboratory that concluded that the virus had been found in a sample from a single turkey.
- Taiwanese authorities confirmed the island's first case of bird flu. The deadly H5N1 strain was detected in birds smuggled from China via a Panama-registered freighter that was stopped by the Taiwanese coast guard. Taiwan's Agricultural Council said the freighter was carrying more than 1,000 smuggled birds, all from China, and that a single smuggler, who wasn't identified, is being held by authorities.
- China has destroyed 91,000 birds around a farm in Inner Mongolia to stop a bird-flu outbreak, the WHO said. The birds were culled after 2,600 chickens and ducks were killed by the virulent H5N1 virus in a breeding facility in Tengjiaying, a village near the regional capital Hohhot, according to the government. Officials have also imposed a 21-day quarantine on poultry in the area.
- Thailand's prime minister said that a 48-year-old man who died earlier this week was infected with the H5N1 strain of avian flu after cooking and eating his neighbor's sick chickens. Initially, officials had said the man, who has been identified as Bang-on Benphat, tested negative for the virus. He is the 13th person to die of avian flu in Thailand.
I recommend bookmarking the WSJ's News Tracker, it looks like a good one-stop shop for Avian Flu news.
FloridaHeat posted some great suggestions in the comments
to another entry; I've taken the liberty of editing them and lifting them into this entry. Thanks, FloridaHeat! This is really great advice. -evariste.
Bird Flu is not a typical influenza. Common flu is divided between strains of Influenza A and B. Flu shots contain variations of those two strains - whatever the health industry thinks will most likely be in circulation next.
Common influenza makes you miserable, but it takes a secondary infection such as pneumonia to kill you. The people most susceptable to these secondary infections are the very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems. Bird Flu is different. It is like the Spanish Influenza of 1918 that took its heaviest toll on healthy, young adults. That is because Bird Flu creates a cytokine storm in your body. Your immune system doesn't recognize this new virus as the enemy and literally attacks your own lungs, filling them with blood and fluid.
You suffocate to death 48-72 hours after the first symptoms appear. People with compromised immune systems have a greater chance of catching bird flu, people with stronger immune systems have a greater chance of dying from bird flu.
Two important things about Bird Flu that we learned from Spanish Influenza.
- It becomes more lethal, and spreads faster, in closed groups of people. In 1918, troop ships would arrive in Europe with dead and dying soldiers. Expect schools, churches, sports events, large offices, etc. to close.
- It comes in waves. The Spanish flu came in three distinct waves, over a period of 2 years. By a wide margin, most of the deaths occured in the SECOND wave. Don't think 3 months worth of preps will save your family. This is going to be hard to wait out.
Obviously, the best thing to do is to NOT expose yourself to the flu in the first place. The flu is HIGHLY contagious. It spreads by air and by touch. Breathe in air expelled by an infected person, touch something handled by an infected person, and you'll get more than enough virus to make you sick. Masks and rubber gloves are a great way to prevent YOU from spreading the disease prior to showing symptoms - but they won't protect you from GETTING the disease. Put on rubber gloves and a mask, then touch a tabletop that a sick person stood near, then rub your cheek. The virus WILL find its way into the mucous membrane of your eye. Self quarantine is far more effective - IF you can make your home fairly air tight, not pick up mail or packages, and have enough food to last... oh, say the 18 months it will take to develop and distribute an effective vaccine.
Vaccine - 95% effective in preventing Bird Flu, only problem is, we won't have the vaccine until 6 - 8 months AFTER initial human-human transmission, and then it will take about the same amount of time to mass produce enough to protect enough of the population to control outbreaks.
I doubt we will see human-human bird flu before Christmas. Much more likely by March, high degree of probablity we'll be facing a pandemic next fall. My money is on one of two things happening. 1) This will turn into another SARS situation. Lots of smoke and no fire. 2) This will make the Spanish Flu epidemic look like a summer cold. If the initial outbreak is undetected for even a few days, it will quickly spread past the point of containment in our dense and mobile population.
What to do now:
- Get on a good multivitamin, take high doses of Vitamin C and Turmeric 95% CURCUMIN. In high doses curcumin inhibits cytokine storms, and in low doses it prevents breast cancer from metastasizing and lessens the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
- DO get both flu and pneumonia shots now. It won't protect you from bird flu, but its the socially responsible thing to do, as bird flu will enter the human population when someone with Type A or B flu is infected with Bird Flu.
If you get sick:
They can cut symptoms down to a level where you will survive.
- Tamiflu (50 pills per person) and
- Relenza (its an inhaler, like the kind you use for asthma).
- Zithromax 6 packs or other antibiotics to treat secondary infections.
- Keep a stock of imodium for the runs and tussin for cough.
- Sick people don't want or need solid foods, but it is VERY important to keep the patient hydrated and keep their electrolytes up, so stock up on things like
- clear broth
- ginger ale
- clear apple and pear juices
- and emergen-c (buy at walmart).
- Eye dropper. You may have to drip fluids into them constantly if they can't tolerate drinking.
- Kleenex tissue that blocks germs.
- Lots of bleach and disinfectant cleaners.
- Can't have too many sheets and towels.
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Second Amendment Boost: House near passing frivolous lawsuit protection for gun industry
Gun Protection Bill Expected to Pass
WASHINGTON -- After six years of trying, Republicans in the House of Representatives are expected to pass the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act this week.
The measure, already passed by the Senate, will protect manufacturers and sellers of firearms from lawsuits arising out of the criminal acts of third-parties.
In recent years, trial attorneys and public interest groups pushing gun control have used the courts as a way to inflict damage on the firearms industry.
Just this past week, the pro-gun control Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed a lawsuit on behalf of the widow of a North Carolina Sheriff's Investigator, charging that a gun shop's negligence helped arm his killer.
The suit claims that a local North Carolina pawn shop "negligently and illegally sold the murder weapon to an obviously dangerous person."
It's about damn time liberals' dreams of railroading the gun industry the way they did the tobacco industry were dashed.
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The father of the American rocket program
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The role of speculators in gas prices
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban blogs that banning speculators
from the commodity futures markets would, in his opinion, reduce oil prices. He argues that only those who are actually using oil and gas should be allowed to participate in the futures market:
How to lower the price of gas.
Very Simple. Take out the speculators.
Make it a requirement that only those who actually are hedging their use and sale of oil and gas are able to buy and sell oil and gas futures.
In his comments, an interesting debate ensues as basically everyone there disagrees with him. I was more educated after reading it than I was before, which is why I proffer this link. Some of my favorite snippets from the comments:
You have two big misconceptions about commodity futures. First, without speculators there would be very little liquidity in the market--there are no market makers in commodities as there are in at the NYSE--without speculators, who would take the other side of the hedgers trades? Commodities are a zero-sum game--one side wins, one side loses.
Secondly, although there are finite amounts of commodities, there aren't limited amounts of futures contracts. If you want to buy an oil futures contract, no one will tell you that they're all gone. Now where it DOES come into play is if people decide to take delivery of the commodity. At that point, and speculators never want to get to that point, you must take physical delivery and there can be attempts to corner the market. The exchanges never let that happen (see the Hunt brothers and their attempt at cornering silver in the early '80s).
Also, if only producers were allowed to hedge, who would take the other side of those hedges??? That solution doesn't make any sense to me because it seems to take away the very liquidity that speculators provide.
I think big suppliers of oil, and major consumers of oil, know whats going on in the market, and the true supply and demand. They have all the information and the speculator really has very little. So any nice trades they can pick up pushing the market, and popping spec's stop/losses will just line their pockets all the more. And leave the gambling to the speculators. It's just a transfer of dollars, from people who don't have the facts, to people who do.
and my favorite:
The only way to have even a basic understanding of oil and the energy industry is to DO THE RESEARCH. It is obvioius that most posters, along with Mr. Cuban, feel qualified to explain the oil industry wihout doing the homework first. When I read Mr. Cuban's posts on digital music distribution, internet search engines, etc. I get the feeling his opinion is valuable because he has done the research/has the proper experience. I may not be as smart as Mr. Cuban or some of the responders, but I have done the research - hundreds and hundreds of hours worth. Here is what my research has taught me: Easily refinable oil is being pumped at close to capacity worldwide; the refining industry is close to capacity worldwide; the CENTRAL reason new refineries are not being built on a regular basis worldwide is because the future growth in supply likely isn't there.
(Emphasis mine). It didn't even occur to me before that one reason for the lack of new refinery-building is that there's nothing new to refine.
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SEALs looking for a few hundred good men
The Navy SEALs are making changes to recruit SEALs more efficiently, and get more of them. Bad news for terrorists: their standards aren't going down, they're just casting a smarter, wider net for candidates.SEALs launching public effort to recruit new members
CORONADO – The Navy SEALs prefer to operate in the shadows, but the Pentagon's need to increase the ranks of the elite terrorist-hunting commando force is prompting an unusually splashy recruiting effort.
Navy SEAL Mitchell Hall, who won a Bronze Star in 2001 in Afghanistan, hopes to use the upcoming Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii to spread the word about the need for more recruits.
The competition will make the 31-year-old chief petty officer a spokesman for the community of self-described quiet professionals and put him in front of the cameras he spent years avoiding.
The change in recruiting methods comes amid the Pentagon's increasing reliance on special operations and the call for a 15 percent increase in SEALs over the next several years.
The SEALs have a legendary reputation as an elite, highly skilled fighting force, but it is hard to find candidates with the necessary physical conditioning.
Just to get a chance to try out, SEAL recruits must swim 500 yards, then breeze through a series of push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups and run 1.5 miles – all within strict time limits. This year, 500 of the 823 SEAL recruits – or 60 percent – failed the test in the first days of boot camp.
I'm getting exhausted just from reading
"We can't survive on that any longer," said Master Chief Petty Officer Andy Tafelski, 51, who has a key role in the recruiting effort. "The pipeline has to become more efficient."
For the SEALs, who consider themselves the best of the best, lowering their standards is out of the question.
Hall, 31, will be competing in the Oct. 15 Ironman – a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon – wearing a blue jersey emblazoned with a Navy SEAL insignia. He won the Navy SEAL's Superfrog Triathalon in September and now his goal is to finish among the top 100 in Hawaii's Ironman.
"When I'm out there at hour five or whatever it is, and I feel like I'm hurting pretty bad, I've had experience with the same things doing activities in the SEALs," he said.
To boost the SEALs' ranks, the Navy is also working with recruiters to begin testing potential SEALs before they get to boot camp and making sure they have the physical skills. Mentors will work with those who qualify to prepare them for what comes next.
Every SEAL must finish one of the world's toughest entrance exams, a six-month training program that typically weeds out three of every four candidates.
The Navy also is creating a SEAL rating – a formal job description –that should allow candidates to more quickly begin formal SEAL training. Previously, SEALs – the name stands for Sea, Air, Land – had to attend school to learn traditional jobs held by Navy sailors.
Driving the changes is the need to add 400 men by fiscal 2008, bringing the total number of SEALs from 2,600 to about 3,000. Special operations units in the Army and Air Force also are planning to increase their ranks, and U.S. Special Operations Command is offering bonuses of up to $150,000 to keep the most experienced operators from bolting to the more lucrative private sector.
The SEALs are looking to the fill the grueling Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training program at Coronado, outside San Diego, to its full capacity of 850 students – something that has never happened, Tafelski said.
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Zawahiri-Zarqawi letter discrepancy raises hoax questions
US cannot explain suspicious Zawahri letter passage
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence officials who released a letter purporting to be from an al Qaeda leader to
Iraq insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi this week said on Friday they could not account for a passage that has raised doubts about the document's authenticity.
I read the original Arabic
and it's not a mistranslation, so I have no idea what the explanation could be. Strange. One possibility is that the letter traveled orally before being written down-for security purposes-and one chain in the link of oral transmission inserted that. Arabs have a long tradition of memorization and oral transmission, and they also have a tradition of embellishment, so I wouldn't be surprised.
However, I found it strange to read the phrase "hearts and minds" in Arabic. It's an entirely English idiom that I'd never seen in Arabic before. So, I'd also not be surprised if the entire letter was a hoax.
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I understand Jesse Jackson has taken it upon himself to give the displaced workers of New Orleans a chance to work and rebuild their city by sending buses to collect them in St. Louis.
Seems he was upset because due to a shortage of workers, people were being recruited from Mexico to help with the New Orleans cleanup.
Fox News reported Tuesday morning in London that 3 people had got on the bus for New Orleans.
Two spoke only Spanish.
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Ft. Campbell soldier opens fire on fellow troops
U.S. soldier opens fire on fellow troops
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier opened fire on a group of fellow soldiers during a morning exercise session at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on Thursday but no one was injured at the Army base.
The soldier, whose name was not released, "is in custody after firing shots at a physical training formation" but no one was wounded, Fort Campbell said in a statement.
It provided no other details but said the matter was under investigation.
The facility, on the Kentucky-Tennessee border about 60 miles northwest of Nashville, is home to the 101st Airborne Division that has served in Iraq.
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What the polls say
A poll commissioned by NBC and the Wall Street Journal showed that President George W. Bush's popularity continues to slide
. I don't think that's suprising given that we're in the middle of a war, at the second term of a Republican administration and the aftermath of the Katrina catastrophe. What was interesting to note however was that only two percent of African Americans polled said they approved of Bush's performance as president, the lowest level ever recorded in that category, as NBC television reported.
So even though America may not have seen the Katrina disaster as an issue of race, it looks like the African American community did.
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Border Fence: an idea whose time has come?
I think the time has come to consider it. I like lots of immigrants, but I don't like illegal immigration at all. Not only is it dangerous for the immigrants dealing with predatory human-smuggling gangs, it's creating an infrastructure for human smuggling of the non-economic opportunity-related variety. Individuals from terrorist-rife countries are already streaming over the border. We can't afford not to build a fence. Border fence campaign another sign of frustration
AUSTIN, Texas — A 2,000-mile tableau from the Pacific to the Gulf, the nation's southern border spans six Mexican and four U.S. states, snaking through arid deserts, rugged mountains, urban areas and remote, dangerous terrain.
Despite an unprecedented build-up in border enforcement during the past decade, much of the battle against illegal immigration is still being lost there.
Now, a conservative group wants to fence off the border, all 2,000 miles of it, calling the idea a logical solution to an immigration problem that's out of control and threatens national security and the economy.
"I think it's an issue whose time has come," said Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, a Pennsylvania-based group that gained national prominence in 2004 by urging pastors to more actively promote conservative causes during the presidential campaign, and for distributing a video touting President Bush's religious convictions.
Last week, the group launched an Internet and national television ad campaign to build support for a border fence.
A "state-of-the-art" border fence could be built for $4 billion to $8 billion, Hanna says, with a multilayered design similiar to what Israel is building in the West Bank.
Let Freedom Ring's vision includes 200 crossings for commerce, commuters, tourism and legal immigration. It would actually be two fences of unspecified height, topped with barbed wire, with a space in between for patrols. There would also be closed circuit cameras, sensors and other obstacles.
Building the fence would require taking some private land, Hanna said, but mostly in areas that are relatively open or barren.
"I don't think there are too many environmental concerns," Hanna said.
Both critics and proponents say that building a 2,000-mile-long fence is theoretically possible, but that is where their agreement ends.
While not commenting directly on the fence proposal, one immigration policy expert said a massive investment in manpower, hardware and technology to seal the border still wouldn't shut off illegal immigration from Mexico.
"Smugglers would run migrants up the Pacific and Gulf coasts, and maritime enforcement would become the new battleground," Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California at San Diego, said in a statement.
Leaving aside the fact that Wayne Cornelius has a vested professional interest in continuing illegal immigration for his center to "study", if human smuggling went mostly maritime it would decline drastically in scale, because once you introduce boats into the equation it gets a lot harder. What's the success rate for Cuban seaborne crossings? I would bet money that it's far lower than the success rate for overland crossings.
Hanna said he has begun lobbying lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, seeking to convince them that public support for a fence is more prevalent than they might think. "They seem concerned about the problem and intrigued about the solution," he said.
Stop being intrigued and start working on it.
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It's Columbus Day!
Or: Holy Cow, It's Columbus Day?!
I just discovered it was not only Canadian Thanksgiving today, but also (!) Columbus Day
by trying to call my bank and bitch about a spurious charge. (They charged me a $2 ATM fee for a normal cash register transaction-what the hey?). So, Happy Columbus Day, everybody!
Celebrate Columbus Day, because Chief Big Phony, Ward Churchill, hates it!
Very high on the list of those expressions of non-indigenous sensibility which contribute to the perpetuation of genocidal policies against Indians are the annual Columbus Day celebration, events in which it is baldly asserted that the process, events, and circumstances described above are, at best, either acceptable or unimportant. More often, the sentiments expressed by the participants are, quite frankly, that the fate of Native America embodied in Columbus and the Columbian legacy is a matter to be openly and enthusiastically applauded as an unrivaled "boon to all mankind". Undeniably, the situation of American Indians will not — in fact cannot — change for the better so long as such attitudes are deemed socially acceptable by the mainstream populace. Hence, such celebrations as Columbus Day must be stopped. (in "Bringing the Law Back Home")
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Time for accountability at the Pentagon
As Congress commendably strives to bring accountability and standards to the Pentagon's treatment of detainees, the Pentagon's mandarins are fighting Congress vigorously. This piece at the Weekly Standard shows why they're wrong, and McCain's proposed reforms are the right way forward for the US military. One big problem I have with the Pentagon not having legislated standards from the people's representatives for detainee treatment is that someone will inevitable go too far, and as soon as the media uproar swells, the soldier who didn't realize he or she was crossing the line will be made to pay the price, with a court-martial, the penalties flowing therefrom, and the people at the top never becoming accountable for their actions. (In this case, their lack
of action in instituting training and clear guidelines for the men on the ground). Why allow another situation where the Pentagon's bureaucrats have plausible deniability but the gung-ho farm-boy from Oklahoma who thinks he's pleasing his superiors ends up falling on his own sword when his actions become politically inconvenient? This situation can't stand. Leadership starts from the top, and the buck should stop at the top. Since the Pentagon refuses to make this happen, Congress will do it for them.
FOOL ME ONCE, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. When it comes to detaining prisoners seized in Iraq, Afghanistan and on the other fronts of the terror war, the Pentagon's "just-trust-us" mentality continues to undercut American strategy. Thankfully, Congress is at last on the verge of doing what the administration clearly cannot: set clear standards for the treatment of detainees. One Code to Rule Them All
One of the clearest lessons of the Abu Ghraib scandal--as we were reminded this past weekend by the macabre tell-all television appearance of Army Pfc. Lynndie England--is that poorly-trained soldiers make poorly-behaved prison guards. Without standards and without supervision, such stressful situations are a disaster waiting to happen.
Nor is it just an Iraq problem: the weekend before Afghan president Hamid Karzai's visit this past May to the United States, where he was to sign a Strategic Partnership agreement with President Bush, the New York Times ran a front page article detailing the grisly deaths of two Afghan civilians at the hands of U.S. soldiers at Bagram Air Base. The story--based on the Army's own 2,000-page confidential criminal investigation--details repeated incidents of abuse by soldiers at Bagram, clouding what should have been a moment of triumph in U.S.-Afghan relations.
Reviewing even the most cursory history of these incidents, it's apparent that confusion and lack of training--more than premeditated malice or moral failing--have been the determining factors in the misconduct of American soldiers. "They asked many, many times," says one former Bagram interrogator. "The lack of guidance was a source of
frustration for them. My own feeling is that it was never given because nobody wanted to put themselves on the line."
NOT SO, says the Pentagon, which in its prosecution of the soldiers, argues that they should have been aware of the methods codified in the Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation (FM 34-52) and used these standards to guide their treatment of detainees.
This line of reasoning, however, is more than a little ironic, given that the Pentagon is itself currently in the midst of a drag-out fight on Capitol Hill to stop Congress from enshrining the same Army Field Manual as the uniform standard for its interrogations. The relevant legislation--proposed by Senator John McCain and supported by a who's who of retired military and intelligence officers--would go a long way toward ending the climate of confusion and uncertainty that has contributed to abuses at Bagram, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere.
In opposing the legislation, the Pentagon argues that it is not Congress's place to be arbiter of the rules for treatment of detainees, insisting that it alone should wield that power. It also warns, as spokesman Lawrence DiRita put it in a recent op-ed in USA Today, that by establishing a clear standard for interrogations, the amendment would "hamper the country's ability to readily adapt and update interrogation methods from Al Qaeda detainees who we know are trained to resist known interrogation techniques."
NEITHER OF THESE ARGUMENTS ARE PERSUASIVE. First, as supporters of the bill have pointed out, the amendment would do nothing to stop the Defense Department from revising and updating the field manual however and whenever it sees fit. In fact, this is precisely what the Pentagon is already in the midst of doing, adding a new classified annex. Contrary to the E-Ring's dire predictions, the notion that congressional oversight will somehow help terrorists study up and adapt to new interrogation techniques is just wrong.
Second, and more broadly, the well-documented pattern of abuses from Afghanistan to Iraq reveals the intellectual bankruptcy of the Pentagon's prized "ambiguity." Despite the unique challenges posed by the war on terror, the Congress--and Republican conservatives, in particular--should be skeptical when the executive branch says, in effect, "Just trust us." Although it's understandable that the Defense Department would like to act with the maximum freedom of action, it has created a Balkanized set of standards in which different rules apply in different places, which plainly does not work. If ever there were an appropriate object for congressional oversight, this is it.
The consequences of the failure to set a clear standard for the treatment of detainees are plain to see. Again, set aside the obvious impact of Abu Ghraib and consider the less-publicized deaths at Bagram, which created a dangerous irritant in U.S.-Afghan relations. President Karzai, for instance, spent his trip to the United States on the defensive, forced to justify why he was calling for a long-term strategic partnership with Washington--including long-term access by the U.S. military to Afghan bases--in light of the murder of Afghan citizens by American soldiers. We're not only making it easier for our enemies to hate us, but harder for our friends to love us.
Further, the issue of detainee abuse has been a critical factor in the erosion of American support for these distant and frustrating wars here at home. There is broad consensus that the political status quo in the greater Middle East poses huge dangers, but there is equal uncertainty about our ability to achieve long-term reform in the region. Nothing undercuts our moral position here at home more than the issue of abuse.
Lastly, confusion on detainee treatment is also bad for America's soldiers, who deserve clear guidance from their commanders. As a collective letter by several dozen retired general officers noted, the net effect of the current Pentagon policy is that service members have been given conflicting instructions, then "left to take the blame when things went wrong."
Given its management of this issue to date, the Defense Department's sniping at the McCain amendment is off the mark. The proposed legislation is not congressional micro-management, but an entirely proper demand that the Pentagon itself set a clear policy--as it should have done long ago.
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Canada surpasses Saudi Arabia as top US energy source!
Oil companies are making synthetic crude oil out of oil sands in Canada, and it looks like they might be able to eventually create 364 billion barrels of the stuff. Move over, Saudi Arabia...when you add this to the newfound viability of producing oil from shale in Colorado, a rosy picture emerges.
Oil sands? U.S. energy future rests with development of Canadian oil sands
In the north of the remote Alberta province rests the equivalent of 1.7 trillion barrels of oil. An estimated 176 billion barrels is recoverable with today's technology, and perhaps twice that amount is potentially recoverable. But this oil can't be pumped from the ground the conventional way. It's spread across more than 54,000 square miles, about the size of North Carolina, and is mixed with sand and clay.
"It's the single-largest hydrocarbon deposit on the Earth, and it's next door to the biggest market for oil products, the United States. What's wrong with it? It's crap oil," said Neil Camarta, senior vice president of oil-sands operations for Shell Canada.
"You've got to use a lot of energy and a lot of pots and pans to extract it from the sand, and you have low-quality oil. It's a high-cost business and a lot of capital and a lot of operating costs," Camarta said.
Don't mistake that for discouragement.
"The good news is, once you've got those pots and pans on the ground, you never run out of oil. The resource is almost infinite, so we never decline," Camarta said.
Canada already quietly has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the United States' largest foreign supplier of crude oil and petroleum products. The U.S. Energy Department believes foreign oil will account for as much as 72 percent of U.S. supplies by 2025.
The sands contain a tarlike grade of crude oil called bitumen, which must be separated from the dirt through a costly, complicated boiling process. Hydrogen is added, sulfur and nitrogen removed, and the final product is synthetic crude oil.
Shell's Athabasca Oil Sands Project - a joint venture between Shell, ChevronTexaco and other companies - already produces about 155,000 barrels of oil a day. Within a decade, it should produce half a million barrels per day.
America consumes 20.7 million barrels a day, and of that about 12.1 million barrels are imports.
Shell runs the newest of the three well-developed oil-sands operations. All three expect to produce at least half a million barrels of oil within a decade. Suncor Energy Inc., formerly part of the Sun Oil Co., began producing synthetic crude oil in 1967. Syncrude Canada Ltd. has operated since 1978; 25 percent of it is owned by Imperial Oil, whose majority shareholder is ExxonMobil.
"This is the one place where you can bring on oil. You know the costs, you know what you're dealing with," said Robert Esser, director of global oil and gas resources at Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "It's in the process of taking off - it's not just starting; it's there. These are major companies and major sums of money entering this playing field."
Oil-sands operators are expected to produce this year more than 1.1 million barrels of oil a day, for the first time surpassing Canada's conventional oil production, which is forecast for 1 million barrels a day.
By 2020, oil-sands operators and their partners will have invested more than $100 billion to make real what just a few years ago was dismissed as a pipe dream.
"The scale is unimaginable compared to what had been envisioned," said D. Guy Jarvis, a vice president of Enbridge Pipelines Inc., an important piece of the oil sands' future.
Enbridge, based in Calgary with U.S. operations in the Gulf Coast region, plans to build by 2009 the 780-mile Gateway Pipeline. It would take oil-sands oil to the Pacific Ocean, where tankers could take it to California or China, whose state oil companies this year bought into various oil-sands partnerships.
Oil-sands production is projected to reach 2.3 million barrels of oil per day by 2010, 3.4 million barrels by 2015 and 5 million barrels by 2035.
Less than two decades ago, production costs were as high as $30 a barrel. That's come down to less than $18 a barrel - still high considering it costs some countries less than $4 a barrel to produce conventional oil. But oil now sells for between $60 and $70 a barrel. The math is simple. Oil sands are profitable.
"It the early '80s, we had to prove that the technology would work and the system would work and the economies of scale would be there. Then ... we began to hone in on the costs," said Jim Carter, Syncrude's president and chief operating officer. "Fortunately, the timing has just been perfect, with the world's crude oil demand going up and prices going up accordingly. It's made it a pretty attractive business."
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Immigrant Dishwasher Phobia Syndrome
The Washington Post
looks at a very weird phenomenon-dishwasher phobia among immigrants. I don't have a dishwasher because I had my choice of an apartment with that (and a completely remodeled kitchen) or one with washer and dryer, so of course I went for the latter. But if I had one I'd use it all the time, because dishes are boring. Just not as boring as having to trudge my laundry around.
Frank IBC, have some cognac.
A couple of months ago, in the privacy of his Reston townhouse, Alan Chien made a final break from cultural tradition, a guilt-filled decision he has yet to share with his parents.
He used his dishwasher. He knows his parents will not understand.
"They don't believe in it," said Chien, 35, an engineer who emigrated with his family from Taiwan when he was a toddler. "Just because they never used it, I never used it, so it was just a mysterious thing to me."
In many immigrant homes, the automatic dishwasher is the last frontier. Long after new arrivals pick up football, learn the intricacies of the multiplex and the DMV and develop a taste for pizza, they resist the dishwasher. Some joke that not using the appliance is one of the truest signs of immigrant heritage, whether they hail from Africa, Latin America, Asia or Eastern Europe.
If they have a dishwasher -- and many do, because it is standard equipment in most homes -- it becomes a glorified dish rack, a Tupperware storage cabinet or a snack-food bin. It's never turned on.
Officials at appliance companies have noticed: Sears doesn't even highlight the appliances in its ads in Spanish-language media.
It's a quirk in the assimilation process that baffles social scientists. "It's really striking," said Donna Gabaccia, who studies immigration and culinary history at the University of Minnesota. In the home, "technology is generally embraced by women. Certainly in terms of technology, their homes don't look that much different from Middle American homes."
Gabaccia said one explanation could be that immigrants can absorb only so much change. The dishwasher is a U.S. invention that is rare in most countries, even among the upper-middle class.
Chien, too, has a hard time explaining dishwasher guilt. Chien, whose younger sister goaded him into breaking his "mental block" on the matter, marvels over how the appliance scrubs off caked-on food. But he isn't sure whether he will keep using it.
"I still have the sense that it's kind of a waste of electricity," he said. "It's odd. We buy American clothes; we use the oven; we use the stove; but, somehow, that appliance. . . ."
Graciela Andres laments that her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren have abandoned washing by hand. "They do it the American way -- they put everything in the wash machine, no matter if it's a little spoon," said Andres, who emigrated from Bolivia in 1981.
She does not disdain her family's washer and dryer, microwave, heavy-duty mixer, DVD player or computers. But the dishwasher?
"I think if I wash by my hands, I do a better job," said Andres, 65, of Germantown. "We have to fill up the dishwasher. If you do it by hand, it gets clean right away."
Her daughter, Grace Rivera-Oven, says she cannot afford not to use it. Her five-cycle, stainless-steel Kenmore allows her to spend more time shuttling her children to baseball and soccer, serving on community boards and freelance writing.
As a teenager, she got a friend to teach her how to operate the dishwasher -- "She was white; I figured she knew how." Before her mother got home from work, she would run a load.
These days, she can use the dishwasher anytime she wants. Even so, she feels as if she's missing something. That's why every Saturday morning, she does the breakfast dishes by hand with her 10-year-old daughter, Amalia.
"We just gossip, gossip," said Rivera-Oven, 35. "I just wash them, and she dries. It just reminds me of when I was her age. I did them with my mother. Oh, I loved the drying."
Her mother chimes in, stirred by the memory. "Oh, yes, I remember when she would dry and I would check," Andres said, pretending to rub a glass between her fingers. "Squeak, squeak, squeak."
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Only One Effective Response
Many people feel that America is fighting an unpopular war in Iraq and even though we have allies and we're not in this alone, the world's eyes are turned solely on us. That last part shouldn't be surprising, America is a unique nation and always has been the focus of the world's attention. This is also not the first time and won't be the last that America has jumped in--willingly or not--to save the day. We're a strong nation and we have perseverance. We have to stick this out and I hope we will. Bush: Radicals Seek to Intimidate World
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22 Observations: Texas v. Louisiana
2 States - 22 Observations
Things I have noticed while watching media coverage of the recent hurricanes.
1. Texas: Productive industrious state run by Republicans. Louisiana: Government dependent welfare state run by Democrats.
2. Texas: Residents take responsibility to protect and evacuate themselves. Louisiana: Residents wait for government to protect and evacuate them.
3. Texas: Local and state officials take responsibility for protecting their citizens and property. Louisiana: Local and state officials blame federal government for not protecting their citizens and property.
4. Texas: Command and control remains in place to preserve order. Louisiana: Command and control collapses allowing lawlessness.
5. Texas: Law enforcement officers remain on duty to protect city. Louisiana: Law enforcement officers desert their posts to protect themselves.
6. Texas: Local police watch for looting. Louisiana: Local police participate in looting.
7. Texas: Law and order remains in control, 8 looters tried it, 8 looters arrested. Louisiana: Anarchy and lawlessness breaks out, looters take over city, no arrests, criminals with guns have to be shot by federal troops.
8. Texas: Considerable damage caused by hurricane. Louisiana: Considerable damage caused by looters.
9. Texas: Flood barriers hold preventing cities from flooding. Louisiana: Flood barriers fail due to lack of maintenance allowing city to flood.
10. Texas: Orderly evacuation away from threatened areas, few remain. Louisiana: 25,000 fail to evacuate, are relocated to another flooded area.
11. Texas: Citizens evacuate with personal 3 day supply of food and water. Louisiana: Citizens fail to evacuate with 3 day supply of food and water, do without it for the next 4 days.
12. Texas: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials provide accessible distribution points. Louisiana: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials prevent citizens from reaching distribution points and vice versa.
13. Louisiana: Media focuses on poor blacks in need of assistance, blames Bush. Texas: Media can not find poor blacks in need of assistance, looking for something else to blame on Bush.
14. Texas: Coastal cities suffer some infrastructure damage, Mayors tell residents to stay away until ready for repopulation, no interference from federal officials. Louisiana: New Orleans is destroyed, major infrastructure damage in and around city, Mayor asks residents to return home as another hurricane approaches, has to be overruled by federal officials.
15. Louisiana: Over 400 killed by storm, flooding and crime. Texas: 24 killed in bus accident on highway during evacuation, no direct storm related deaths.
16. Texas: Jailed prisoners are relocated to other detention facilities outside the storm area. Louisiana: Jailed prisoners are set free to prey on city shops, residents, and homes.
17. Texas: Local and state officials work with FEMA and Red Cross in recovery operations. Louisiana: Local and state officials obstruct FEMA and Red Cross from aiding in recovery operations.
18. Texas: Local and state officials demonstrate leadership in managing disaster areas. Louisiana: Local and state officials fail to demonstrate leadership, require federal government to manage disaster areas.
19. Texas: Fuel deliveries can not keep up with demand, some run out of gas on highway, need help from fuel tankers before storm arrives. Louisiana: Motorists wait till storm hits and electrical power fails. Cars run out of gas at gas stations that can not pump gas. Gas in underground tanks mixes with flood waters.
20. Texas: Mayors move citizens out of danger. Louisiana: Mayor moves himself and family to Dallas.
21. Texas: Mayors continue public service announcements and updates on television with Governor's backing and support. Louisiana: Mayor cusses, governor cries, senator threatens president with violence on television, none of them have a clue what went wrong or who is responsible.
22. Louisiana: Democratic Senator says FEMA was slow in responding to 911 calls from Louisiana citizens. Texas: Republican Senator says "when you call 911, the phone doesn't ring in Washington, it rings here at the local responders".
What if state and local elected officials were forced to depend on themselves and their own resources instead of calling for help from the federal government?
Conclusion: Texas cities would be back up and running in a few days. Louisiana cities would still be under water next month.
Republicans call for action, Democrats call for help.
What party will you be voting for in the next election?
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Muslim illegal aliens penetrate Ft. Bragg
Who's minding the store,
anyway? This is getting ridiculous.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - Three people who taught foreign languages at the Joint Special Operations Command Center at Fort Bragg were arrested on immigration charges, federal officials said.
While workers at U.S. military installations may have access to sensitive work sites, authorities said the three men did not.
"What's important to remember is they did not teach any classified materials, and they were not exposed to any classified materials," JSOC spokeswoman Tina Beller said.
Two Indonesian natives, Nurkis Qadariah, 34, and Sayf Rimal, 37, were arrested Tuesday and charged with possessing and using false documents, U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney said.
Ousmane Moreau, 38, of Senegal, was arrested Monday and charged with being in the United States illegally, Whitney said.
Qadariah and Rimal are accused in a complaint of using counterfeit resident alien cards and falsely saying that they were lawful permanent residents of the United States in order to get a job with Florida-based B.I.B. Consultants Inc. to teach foreign languages at Fort Bragg.
All employees of the company must go through background checks, and checks on the three men "came back clear," Daniel Guillan, director of government and contracting for the company, told WTVD-TV in Durham.
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21-Year Old American Suicide Bomber
The thankfully-dead evil bastard who luckily managed to kill only himself:What he planned was a terrible crime indeed
"revert to Islam" reject from America
was attaching bombs to the bottoms of buses when he prematurely exploded. This was a major attack in the waiting, folks, not just an attempted suicide bombing but another attempted multi-location mass-murder.
2 October 2005; 11:50 p.m.: Law enforcement sources close to the Northeast Intelligence Network have confirmed that search and seizure warrants were served today upon the residence of the “suicide bomber, 21-year-old Joel Henry Hinrichs III of Colorado Springs, CO, who was a resident of the Park View Apartments on campus. Speaking strictly “off the record," the officials stated that they recovered “a significant amount" of Islamic “Jihad" type literature, some possibly written in Arabic, along with the suspect’s computer. Some of the documentation included material on how to construct bomb-making vests. WorldNetDaily
Further reports by the same officials indicated that the bomb was detonated prematurely when the suspect was either arming a bomb vest or backpack, which contained TATP, a homemade explosive. TATP (triacetone triperoxide) is a very potent but relatively easily manufactured explosive compound that was used in the July London bombings. It is important to note that TATP has been cited in numerous Jihad bomb-making manuals.
The same officials, requiring anonymity as the investigation is ongoing, continued to confirm that “other un-detonated explosive devices were found in the area cordoned off by police and federal officials." Those devices WERE NOT DETONATED, but carefully confiscated for further forensic testing. Initially, information provided to the Northeast Intelligence Network suggested that that the so-called “suicide-bomber" was attempting to attach bombs to the buses parked in the area when one of the bombs detonated prematurely. The investigation has expanded into the possibility that others might have been involved.
says the explosives stash found in his living quarters was really huge.
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George Bush asked Dick Cheney to help him vet Vice Presidential candidates. A little while later, surprise! Dick Cheney was the Vice Presidential candidate.
George Bush asked Harriet Miers to help him vet Supreme Court nominees. A little while later, surprise! Harriet Miers was the Supreme Court nomineee.
Dubya really needs to get more disinterested advisers. Next thing you know he'll ask Matt
to vet chaperones for the First Twins.
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Courting the Saudis
Condoleezza Rice authorized a six month waiver of action in punishing Saudi Arabia
for "particularly severe violations" of religious freedom. Karen Hughes paid lip service
to female students from a private university in Jeddah, saying how impressed and surprised she was to see that "they clearly feel much a part of the debate in the society even though they don't have the right to vote nor to drive." (I wonder how she managed to say that with a straight face.) Meanwhile, Al-Waleed bin Talal, the "Rudy-kicked-my-ass" Saudi prince, bought a stake in Fox News Network.
A thimbleful of cognac to zulubaby and Dances With Typos for the links. (I'm sorry you two have to share, if we were a Saudi blog maybe we could afford two thimblefuls, but we're not.)
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Brady Bunch Throw Tantrum
The Brady Gun-Grabbing Campaign
is running ads in British newspapers warning Britons that they'll get shot as Florida tourists, in light of Florida's new law that gives gun owners the right to use deadly force to prevent crime or serious injury, and gives them relief from frivolous civil suits.
A series of alarming adverts, to be placed in British newspapers, warns potential tourists about a new law allowing gun owners to shoot anyone they believe threatens their safety.
It means thousands of British families who travel to the Sunshine State are now caught up in the ongoing political row over gun control in the United States.
The Florida law, supported by the National Rifle Association, was approved by the state legislature in April.
The state's governor, Jeb Bush - whose brother is the US president - described it as a "good, commonsense, anti-crime issue".
Critics call it the "shoot first" law and say it allows gun owners to shoot if they engage in a simple argument in public. Supporters call it the "stand your ground" law and say criminals will think twice before attacking someone.
Previously, gun owners could only use their weapons if they first attempted to withdraw and avoid a confrontation, and were permitted to shoot threatening individuals only inside their home or property.
Now they can use "deadly force" if they "reasonably believe" that firing their gun is necessary to prevent a crime or serious injury. The law also effectively prevents civil legal action by victims of such shootings.
The Brady Campaign to Control Gun Violence, based in Washington DC, has pledged to "educate" tourists by placing adverts in US cities, and in key overseas markets such as Britain.
"Warning: Florida residents can use deadly force," says one of the adverts. Another reads: "Thinking about a Florida vacation? Please ensure your family is safe. In Florida, avoid disputes. Use special caution in arguing with motorists on Florida roads."
I have some ads for British tourists, too!In Florida, the good guys have guns too.In Florida, you don't go to jail for putting a burglar in the hospital or morgue.Crooks beware: Floridians aren't easy prey!Florida: Where Criminals Pay The PriceFlorida: Actions Have ConsequencesFlorida: No "Happyslapping" Here! OR ELSE.
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Coming to America
Report: Illegal Immigration Has Increased
Among the report's findings:
_Since 2001, the number of legal permanent residents entering the United States has declined from 578,000 to 455,000, while the number of illegal immigrants has increased from 549,000 to 562,000. Legal, temporary residents account for the remainder of people entering the country.
"We've seen a fairly steady growth in the number of undocumented immigrants living here, and this data shows very sizable numbers coming in," Passel said. "We're clearly not stopping them at the border."
Declines in legal immigration "appear to reflect processing backlogs, security delays and other developments that followed the Sept. 11 attacks," the report said.
_Mexico accounted for about a third of all U.S. immigrants, a percentage that was steady from 1992 to 2004. Other Latin American countries accounted for about 20 percent of all immigrants, Asia accounted for a little more than a quarter, and Europe and Canda combined to account for about 14 percent.
_More immigrants are shunning states with large immigrant communities, such as New York and California, and moving to states with smaller foreign-born populations, such as North Carolina and Iowa.
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How an ally behaves
the Australian Taliban, goes on trial on the 18th of November before a military tribunal. What I find interesting is how Australia's government is reacting:
The Australian government has refused to lobby for Hicks' release, saying it has faith in the U.S. military commission process.
During a visit to the United States in July, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said his government was "satisfied that the military commission process ... will provide a proper measure of justice."
"The allegations against (Hicks) are particularly serious, and we look forward to them being dealt with before the tribunal," Howard said.
I can't imagine any other ally taking this attitude. Kudos to Australians.
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Calcutta Telegraph: Iran invasion coming before end of Bush term
I was pleased that India decided to vote to refer Iran to the Security Council in light of America's new moves to groom India as a new world power. The news that US officials are telling Indian officials that an invasion is coming is completely unsourced, so take it for what it's worth. The Telegraph - Calcutta
Washington, Sept. 25: New Delhi acquitted itself reasonably well in the first significant challenge to its global standing and diplomacy since the world acknowledged India as an emerging global power worthy of being in the big league in the 21st century.
The handling of the challenge — its vote on whether Iran’s nuclear programme should be referred to the UN Security Council — was all the more commendable because its outcome defied domestic political expediency.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally cleared the decision to vote with the US and the so-called EU-3, namely Germany, France and the UK, in favour of referring Iran at an unspecified date to the Security Council on suspicions of pursuing a programme to acquire nuclear weapons in the full knowledge that the vote would spark a furore among Left parties and to a lesser extent in the BJP.
In deciding to vote with the West and not abstaining along with Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa, what weighed with the Prime Minister was the absolute imperative for India to secure its interests in the Gulf and not the desire to protect the July 18, 2005, Indo-US nuclear agreement, according to diplomats engaged in the negotiations that led to the IAEA resolution yesterday.
Top-ranking Americans have told equally top-ranking Indians in recent weeks that the US has plans to invade Iran before Bush’s term ends. In 2002, a year before the US invaded Iraq, high-ranking Americans had similarly shared their definitive vision of a post-Saddam Iraq, making it clear that they would change the regime in Baghdad.
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Delay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe
DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probes
A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader.
(a thimbleful of cognac to Frank IBC)
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Guilty on six of seven counts
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New Orleans Prisoners Left To Drown Like Rats
This is really obscene,
and heads should roll for it. I have a hard time accepting it really happened. 517 Americans are unaccounted for because the people entrusted with their lives, the Orleans sheriff's department, didn't do their job. They just left them there while Hurricane Katrina slammed into the city.
NEW YORK - September 23 - As Hurricane Katrina began pounding New Orleans, the sheriff's department abandoned hundreds of inmates imprisoned in the city’s jail, Human Rights Watch said today.
Inmates in Templeman III, one of several buildings in the Orleans Parish Prison compound, reported that as of Monday, August 29, there were no correctional officers in the building, which held more than 600 inmates. These inmates, including some who were locked in ground-floor cells, were not evacuated until Thursday, September 1, four days after flood waters in the jail had reached chest-level.
“Of all the nightmares during Hurricane Katrina, this must be one of the worst," said Corinne Carey, researcher from Human Rights Watch. “Prisoners were abandoned in their cells without food or water for days as floodwaters rose toward the ceiling."
Human Rights Watch called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the conduct of the Orleans Sheriff's Department, which runs the jail, and to establish the fate of the prisoners who had been locked in the jail. The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, which oversaw the evacuation, and the Orleans Sheriff’s Department should account for the 517 inmates who are missing from list of people evacuated from the jail.
Carey spent five days in Louisiana, conducting dozens of interviews with inmates evacuated from Orleans Parish Prison, correctional officers, state officials, lawyers and their investigators who had interviewed more than 1,000 inmates evacuated from the prison.
The sheriff of Orleans Parish, Marlin N. Gusman, did not call for help in evacuating the prison until midnight on Monday, August 29, a state Department of Corrections and Public Safety spokeswoman told Human Rights Watch. Other parish prisons, she said, had called for help on the previous Saturday and Sunday. The evacuation of Orleans Parish Prison was not completed until Friday, September 2.
According to officers who worked at two of the jail buildings, Templeman 1 and 2, they began to evacuate prisoners from those buildings on Tuesday, August 30, when the floodwaters reached chest level inside. These prisoners were taken by boat to the Broad Street overpass bridge, and ultimately transported to correctional facilities outside New Orleans.
But at Templeman III, which housed about 600 inmates, there was no prison staff to help the prisoners. Inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch varied about when they last remember seeing guards at the facility, but they all insisted that there were no correctional officers in the facility on Monday, August 29. A spokeswoman for the Orleans parish sheriff’s department told Human Rights Watch she did not know whether the officers at Templeman III had left the building before the evacuation.
According to inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch, they had no food or water from the inmate’s last meal over the weekend of August 27-28 until they were evacuated on Thursday, September 1. By Monday, August 29, the generators had died, leaving them without lights and sealed in without air circulation. The toilets backed up, creating an unbearable stench.
“They left us to die there," Dan Bright, an Orleans Parish Prison inmate told Human Rights Watch at Rapides Parish Prison, where he was sent after the evacuation.
As the water began rising on the first floor, prisoners became anxious and then desperate. Some of the inmates were able to force open their cell doors, helped by inmates held in the common area. All of them, however, remained trapped in the locked facility.
“The water started rising, it was getting to here," said Earrand Kelly, an inmate from Templeman III, as he pointed at his neck. “We was calling down to the guys in the cells under us, talking to them every couple of minutes. They were crying, they were scared. The one that I was cool with, he was saying ‘I'm scared. I feel like I'm about to drown.' He was crying."
Some inmates from Templeman III have said they saw bodies floating in the floodwaters as they were evacuated from the prison. A number of inmates told Human Rights Watch that they were not able to get everyone out from their cells.
Inmates broke jail windows to let air in. They also set fire to blankets and shirts and hung them out of the windows to let people know they were still in the facility. Apparently at least a dozen inmates jumped out of the windows.
"We started to see people in T3 hangin' shirts on fire out the windows," Brooke Moss, an Orleans Parish Prison officer told Human Rights Watch. “They were wavin' em. Then we saw them jumping out of the windows . . . Later on, we saw a sign, I think somebody wrote `help' on it."
As of yesterday, signs reading “Help Us," and “One Man Down," could still be seen hanging from a window in the third floor of Templeman III.
Several corrections officers told Human Rights Watch there was no evacuation plan for the prison, even though the facility had been evacuated during floods in the 1990s.
“It was complete chaos," said a corrections officer with more than 30 years of service at Orleans Parish Prison. When asked what he thought happened to the inmates in Templeman III, he shook his head and said: “Ain't no tellin’ what happened to those people."
“At best, the inmates were left to fend for themselves," said Carey. “At worst, some may have died."
Human Rights Watch was not able to speak directly with Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin N. Gussman or the ranking official in charge of Templeman III. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department told Human Rights Watch that search-and-rescue teams had gone to the prison and she insisted that “nobody drowned, nobody was left behind."
Human Rights Watch compared an official list of all inmates held at Orleans Parish Prison immediately prior to the hurricane with the most recent list of the evacuated inmates compiled by the state Department of Corrections and Public Safety (which was entitled, “All Offenders Evacuated"). However, the list did not include 517 inmates from the jail, including 130 from Templeman III.
Many of the men held at jail had been arrested for offenses like criminal trespass, public drunkenness or disorderly conduct. Many had not even been brought before a judge and charged, much less been convicted.
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Shameful move by Chicago
I know my hometown leans left,
but I thought it was also a sensible place. I certainly didn't expect it to join the ranks of Berkeley and San Francisco in antiwar lunacy. Every sentence in this thing reeks of political opportunism and cheap points scored.
On September 14, 2005, Chicago approved a resolution calling for an "immediate and orderly withdrawal" from Iraq by a vote of 29-9.
RESOLUTION URGING CESSATION OF COMBAT OPERATIONS
IN IRAQ AND THE RETURN OF U.S. TROOPS
WHEREAS, The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 was passed by the U.S. Congress on October 11, 2002, and that Public Law 107-243 cited Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction as a primary reason for the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq; and
WHEREAS, On January 12, 2005, President Bush officially declared an end to the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and
WHEREAS, The United States initiated combat operations in Iraq on March 19, 2003; and
WHEREAS, Hundreds of thousands of members of the United States Armed Forces have served with honor and distinction in Iraq; and
WHEREAS, More than 1,700 members of the United States Armed Forces have been killed and more than 12,000 members of the Armed Forces have been wounded in substantially accomplishing the stated purpose of the United States of giving the people of Iraq a reasonable opportunity to decide their own future; and
WHEREAS, The United States military occupation of Iraq has placed significant strains on the capacity of the United States Armed Forces, both active duty and reserve and the National Guard.
WHEREAS, The armed forces of Iraq number more than 76,000 troops as of June 8, 2005, and are growing in number and capability daily; and
WHEREAS, The forces of the Iraqi Interior Ministry number more than 92,000 personnel as of June 8, 2005, and are growing in number and capability daily; and
WHEREAS, More than $200 billion has been appropriated by Congress to fund military operations and reconstruction in Iraq, and Chicago residents’ share now exceeds $2.1 billion; and
WHEREAS, The funds spent by Chicago taxpayers on the war and occupation in Iraq could have provided Head Start for one year for 238,056 children; or medical insurance for one year for 1,076,242 children; or 31,147 public school teachers for one year; or 16,183 additional housing units, according to the National Priorities Project; and
WHEREAS, The war and continued occupation have resulted in the devastation of Iraq’s physical and social infrastructure and led to widespread and continuous resistance to U.S. occupation that threatens the lives of Iraqi civilians and the men and women who compose the ranks of U.S. and other occupying forces; and
"the war and continued occupation" led to these things, not the terrorist insurgency led by Al Qaeda. Noted, you gun-grabbing, bribe-taking surrender monkeys.
WHEREAS, The presence of United States forces in Iraq and the alleged torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other facilities have inflamed anti-American passions in the Muslim world and increased the terrorist threat to United States citizens, both at home and abroad; and
Is there a suicidal-left shibboleth that they didn't
think to put in?
WHEREAS, Polls show that less than half of the American people support the war; and
I know! How about "WHEREAS, war is not healthy for children and other living things, and
WHEREAS, it would be great if schools had all the money they need and the Air Force had to hold bake sales to buy bombers,"...
WHEREAS, Illinois Congresspersons Rush, Lipinski, Emanuel, Davis, Schakowsky, Jackson, Gutierrez, and Costello joined more than 100 other Congresspersons in voting for a House resolution on an Iraq exit strategy; and
WHEREAS, On January 2003, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution 47-1 opposing the war in Iraq prior to its commencing in March 2003; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED, That the City Council of the City of Chicago, on behalf of the citizens of Chicago, urges the United States government to immediately commence an orderly and rapid withdrawal of United States military personnel from Iraq; and
Not on my behalf, you pricks.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City Council of Chicago, recognizing that the stability of Iraq is crucial to the security of the citizens of Chicago and to all Americans, urges the United States government to provide the people of Iraq with all necessary non-military material aid as shall be necessary for the security of Iraq’s citizens and for the rebuilding of Iraq; and
Let's withdraw, but give the Iraqis all the money they need-but no soldiers-to rebuild and be secure!
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the financial resources used to prosecute the war be redirected to address the urgent needs of America’s great urban centers and the most vulnerable portions of our population, including health, education, and homeland security; and
Also, let's not give them any more money, because we need it! Ignore the last thing we said about giving them all the money they need!
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution shall be sent to George W. Bush, President of the United States, and the members of the Illinois Congressional delegation.
I'm sure President Bush will have a good time crumpling up this inane piece of blather and throwing it in the trash.
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The Usual Suspects
Rally in Washington, blah, blah, Cindy Sheehan, blah, blah, blah, Joan Baez, blah, blah, blah, blah, Bush Lied Thousands Died, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and old hippies. And then the rain came and they all went home. Antiwar Protests Commence in Washington
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Racial Purity Sponsored by Kelloggs...
Something to think about next time you eat a bowl of Corn Flakes
Eugenics became popular due to the support of many different public leaders and interest groups, argues Stern. People like J.H. Kellogg, a thoracic surgeon and sanitarium owner, and Victor Vaughan, former dean of the University of Michigan's Medical School, were driven by the idea that eugenics would be linked with humanitarianism. They believed they could help poor people by sterilizing them while simultaneously helping the human race eliminate "bad genes" from its gene pool. The eugenics movement was also popular among animal breeders, who believed that if one could produce a pedigreed pig, one could also produce a pedigreed baby.
Kellogg, the inventor of the corn flake, is best known for developing innovative strategies to improve the diets of the poor. Yet he also supported the sterilization of the "unfit" and in 1911 established the influential Race Betterment Foundation with money from the Kellogg cereal fortune.
In 1914 Kellogg organized the first of three major national conferences on race betterment in Battle Creek. Amid an atmosphere of lavish banquets, he called for biological action in scientific research. Addressing the conference, Kellogg said: "We have wonderful horses, cows and pigs. Why would we not have a new and improved race of men?" He wanted the "whiter races of Europe to establish a Race of Human Thoroughbreds."
After a failed bill in 1897, the Michigan Legislature passed a sterilization law in 1913. With both Kellogg and Vaughan on the state board of health, Michigan became the seventh state to enact sterilization laws. Only one operation was performed before the practice was declared unconstitutional in 1918. After adding legal safeguards, and buoyed by the rising popularity of eugenics, however, Michigan passed a new and more carefully designed sterilization law in 1923.
In 1927, the U.S Supreme Court upheld Virginia's forced sterilization law. The case in question centered around a 17-year-old girl who'd been diagnosed "feeble-minded." Summing up the popularity the eugenics enjoyed at the time, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."
Soon thereafter, hundreds of Michigan residents who had been labeled "feeble-minded," "mentally defective" or "sexually deviant" were sterilized at the Lapeer State Home and Training School, the Ionia Reformatory, Jackson State Prison, at the University of Michigan hospital, and at other county and state facilities. The historical record indicates that sterilizations peaked in Michigan during the 1930s and 1940s, and diminished steadily during the 1950s and 1960s.
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When federal government fails...
state governments step up to the plate. A commendable move from the governors of Chihuahua and New Mexico. VOA News - Mexican Authorities Demolish Abandoned Houses to Thwart Smugglers
Mexican officials have razed more than 30 abandoned dwellings in a border town known as a staging ground for migrants to cross illegally into the United States.
The demolitions in the town of Las Chepas, officially known as Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, were the result of an agreement made last month between the governors of Mexico's Chihuahua state and the U.S. state of New Mexico.
Chihuahua's Jose Reyes Baeza and New Mexico's Bill Richardson agreed to a plan to curb illegal immigration and drug smuggling across the Mexico-U.S. border.
A Chihuahua public safety official told Reuters news agency that the demolitions represent less than half the buildings in Las Chepas, which is home to at least 50 residents.
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Katrina, as seen from Alabama
aridog sends along these stunning pictures of hurricane Katrina, taken in Alabama. Click the thumbnails to see the full-sized images...
Update by zorkie 8:38 am: Oops!>
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'Get Lost Rita'
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Child rapists running amuck in madrassas
Islamic schools under abuse scrutiny
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- The accounts are disturbing: beatings, forced sex and imprisonment with shackles and leg irons. Abuse accusations from hundreds of children sent to study at Islamic schools are prompting growing calls from parents and rights groups for a full-scale investigation.
But officials have moved slowly and cautiously in probing the charges of mistreatment in Quranic schools, or madrassas -- pointing to a paradox across much of the Muslim world. It's often easier to tackle Islamic militants than to confront the cultural taboo on publicly airing alleged sex crimes and challenging influential clerics.
Still, if Islamic institutions ever face a reckoning over sexual abuse -- such as the Roman Catholic upheavals in recent years -- it could begin in Pakistan where institutions already are under unprecedented scrutiny by anti-terrorism agents.
"We are forcing people to look this problem in the eye," said Zia Ahmed Awan, whose group Madadgaar, or Helper, compiles reports of sexual abuse of children in Pakistan. "It is not anti-Muslim. It is not anti-cleric. We are looking out for the most vulnerable in society."
Last year, a Pakistani official stunned his nation by officially disclosing more than 500 complaints of sexual assaults against young boys studying in madrassas. Children's rights advocates were elated, feeling their long-standing claims had been validated. They also hoped Pakistan's actions would open related inquiries in other Muslim nations -- similar to the domino effect through parishes after the Catholic abuse scandals broke in the 1980s.
But there's been little progress since.
There have been no significant arrests or prosecutions involving alleged sex abuse in madrassas. Also, the official who made the revelations -- Amir Liaquat Hussain, the deputy minister for religious affairs -- now refuses to discuss the issue after reported death threats and harsh criticism from Islamic leaders. He turned down repeated interview requests by The Associated Press.
Every discussion about Pakistan's madrassas leads eventually in an uncomfortable direction for authorities: the potential problems of leaning too hard on Islamic schools.
The madrassas have ties to influential religious and political groups. The core of madrassa funding is a tour of powerful networks: government aid, Saudi donations and zakat, the traditional Islamic practice of giving alms.
The schools also serve as a social safety net in a nation with a galloping birth rate and nearly one-third of the population under the poverty line -- meaning they cannot afford basic necessities.
Poor families often count on the nation's more than 10,000 madrassas to take one or more young sons to ease financial strains at home. The boys typically receive little more than Quranic studies for an education. But the big dividend for families is the housing, clothes and meals offered the boys. The schools, which have up to 1 million students, operate with almost no official oversight.
"The mullahs think they are above the law," said Asma Jehanghir, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a nongovernment agency. "We have to break this wall of silence."
An Interior Ministry official confirmed that police are investigating some cases of alleged sex abuse by madrassa instructors. He declined to give further details or to be identified by name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Hanif Jalandhri, the head of the Federation of Madrassas, the main overseeing agency in Pakistan, acknowledged that abuses could occur, but disagreed it is a widespread problem.
"I cannot rule out isolated incidents of sex abuse at madrassas, but I reject reports that hundreds of students are being subjected to sexual attacks at madrassas," he told AP. "It is wrong."
Pakistani rights groups are encouraging parents and children to speak out and document abuse. Dozens of allegations of abuse in madrassas are being compiled -- part of a wider campaign to draw attention to child abuse in a culture where domestic violence is common but rarely reaches the public's attention.
"The difference now is that no one can deny (abuse) is happening," said Manizeh Sano, executive director of Sahil, a group assisting child victims of sexual abuse. "The leaders of madrassas cannot turn their back on this problem anymore. That's a first step."
A madrassa teacher and two others are jailed awaiting trial in the port city of Karachi for an acid attack on a 14-year-old boy in 2002 after he allegedly refused to have sex with a cleric. The boy was blinded and badly disfigured. The suspects deny the charges.
In December, in another part of Karachi, Muhammad Askoroni's mother noticed a bite on the 10-year-old boy's neck. The child started crying and vomiting when asked what happened, said his mother, Dil Jauher. The boy's claim: a cleric at his madrassa sodomized him after evening Quran classes, according to a complaint filed with police and the rights group Madadgaar.
Jauher claims a madrassa official and village elders offered her a bribe to keep the incident quiet. "But I want justice for my son," she told AP.
There have been no arrests yet in the case.
Acid attacks, rape, beatings and torture...what a charming way to get your child an education. It's not just Pakistan, either:
A 2003 survey by the Thailand-based group ECPAT -- or End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes -- raised concerns about madrassa teachers in Mauritania forcing students to beg on the streets and hand over the money.
In Bangladesh, rights groups have increased calls for madrassa investigations after a teacher was arrested in March and charged with raping girl students, who are allowed to attend the schools that in many other countries are male-only.
In the Middle East, few activists have demanded investigations into conditions in Islamic schools, but that could change as groups increasingly challenge traditional centers of influence.
"Pakistan is now a center of the showdown between modernizing Islam and forces resisting change," said Irfan Khawaja, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who follows Islamic affairs. "The madrassa issue is part of this. It will spread around the Islamic world."
Amnesty International and the Human Rights Council of Pakistan have recounted cases in Pakistan of students shackled to prevent escape and noted growing allegations of sex abuse.
"Leaders of religious parties resent official probing into the functioning of the madrassas and threaten retaliation if they are more closely controlled," Amnesty wrote.
The London bombings in July, meanwhile, could hasten the end to the madrassas' traditions of secrecy and autonomy in Pakistan.
At least one of the attackers visited a Pakistani madrassa. Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has vowed to stamp out "extremism and militancy" in madrassas and has threatened to close schools that refuse to register with authorities by the end of the year.
We'll see if this promise is worth as much as Musharraf's other promises.
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Drugs and Individual Responsibility
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San Diego's 14-mile border fence is on
I love the headline on this one: U.S. Acts to Finish Divisive Border Fence.
It's a fence, you idiots. It's supposed
to be divisive.
WASHINGTON — In a rebuff to California officials and environmentalists, the Bush administration cleared the way Wednesday for completion of a 14-mile-long border fence that will run through coastal wetlands to the Pacific Ocean near San Diego.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff waived environmental laws for the first time since Congress gave him that authority in May. Finishing the last 3.5 miles of fence is expected to cost about $32 million.
Combined with older existing fencing along the Mexican border, Chertoff said, the newly completed fence will form a security corridor — including two new roads, additional fencing, stadium-style lighting and surveillance cameras — for U.S. Border Patrol agents.
Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar said agents would then have 200 acres to patrol, not 2,000.
"Bottom line, this is about border security," Aguilar told reporters. "We're addressing the vulnerabilities here" in closing a border to potential terrorists.
Reducing the territory that needs patrolling also will deter illegal immigration because of the "certainty of arrest in that zone," he said.
Aguilar pledged that border agents would be "good stewards of the environment," and he blamed much of the area's degradation on border crossers who hide in the wetlands and litter in the area.
With Chertoff's announcement, the department formally waived enforcement of environmental and other laws that had delayed or threatened to delay the project.
In a statement issued by his office, Chertoff promised to "act in an environmentally responsible manner consistent with the security needs of the nation."
Next, the article goes on to detail various environmental whining about the fence, before a very revealing quote:
Aguilar said Chertoff's action — which goes into effect Friday when it is published in the Federal Register — did "not mean we want to build a wall around the Southwest border."
Some environmental and human rights groups think the government is planning nothing less.
"Alarmingly, it does appear that the U.S. government is moving toward constructing a series of mega-fences along the border," said Peter Galvin, director of conservation in San Francisco for the Center for Biological Diversity. "These massive fence projects don't actually cut the number of people crossing, just the location."
When border agents plug a security hole in California, he said, it pushes illegal immigrants to the east, where they encounter harsh, sometimes deadly conditions in the desert.
LA Times reporter: Umm, can I get a quote about the actual environment, or did I accidentally call a border security expert?
Peter Galvin: Uh, oh yeah, right right! Sorry!
As for environmental implications, he said, "sealing off the biology between the United States and Mexico is a disaster. These animals don't know political boundaries."
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Katrina ends Landrieu's career
Senator Landrieu: From Democrat To Demagogue to Loser
Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, is up for reelection in November 2006. She won narrowly twice, thanks to her political base, New Orleans. Her chance for reelection was destroyed along with that city.
Because she and others failed to strengthen the levees and to prepare New Orleans for a hurricane above category 3.
Louisiana is a red state. But, until recently it had not elected a Republican Senator since Reconstruction. By 2007, however, it should have two and Mary Landrieu's Senate career should be through.
On August 28, 2005, before the levees broke, Senator Landrieu was complimenting Governor Blanco and local officials for "tremendous" preparation and focused on Louisiana's eroding wetlands, not the levees and protecting New Orleans from a hurricane above category 3:
The article goes on at length; click the link above to finish it. Here's hoping Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco's careers are also over.
I'm disappointed Bobby Jindal never got to be Senator. Maybe next time he will.
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An Indian Farewell Dossier
writes a lot of thought-provoking stuff, and this article is no exception. He ruminates on the idea that the "Farewell Dossier" tactic that we used against the Soviet Union-"letting" them steal inferior, faulty and even booby-trapped technology so that it would blow up in their faces-could be used against us now that so much of our software originates in India. I'm not quite as concerned about it as he is. For one thing, India is rapidly becoming an essential ally of the United States, and you don't shit where you eat. If India was a belligerent dictatorship like China, I'd be worried. For another, we're not using Indian expertise because we lack our own, only because the Indians are cheaper. We can pick up our bags and go home if we so desire-and seriously hurt India's fledgling economy. The Russians thought they were cunningly stealing
stuff we actually used-that dynamic isn't present in our relationship with India.
Right now, on one hand, we're spending billions of dollars for this Myth of Homeland Security in the hopes of protecting against terrorists, rogue states, and ideological nutcases. But, on the other hand, corporate America is lining the pockets of executives by driving costs down (and their stock options up) by outsourcing virtually every aspect of non-creative information technology to 3rd world nations. We've all heard of the massive code-shops in India, where analysts estimate that 60% of US code is being written today, and as much as 90% will be written by the end of the next 10 years. Do you see the razor blade hidden in the apple? I'm somewhat concerned at the idea of the economic effects of this activity, but I'm terrified by the national security implications. Let's talk homeland security, shall we?
Last year I got a call from an investment banker in Singapore, who was looking for a programming expert who could do "due diligence" on some software that one of their clients was considering acquiring. The acquirer was a Canadian company, the seller a US company, and the software had been written in Bangalore. After some discussion, I was informed that the software regarded embedded systems and microprocessor controls, etc - specifically, the software was guidance software "of the type" used in the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) - a glide-bomb that uses GPS to home in on its target. We all saw JDAMs in action during the most recent gulf war, and it was a JDAM that accidentally (?) hit the Chinese Embassy during the NATO intervention in Kosovo and bombing of Serbo-Croatia. As someone concerned with national security, I can only ask, "What the F!*K?" Sure, once you have the concept of a JDAM and a GPS chip and some actuators and some software, you can build your own pretty quickly. But why roll out the red carpet?
I'm not a paranoid and I'm not a John Bircher but I sometimes wonder if we're worried about the wrong things. On one hand we're spending billions of dollars against a nebulous threat when on the other we're spending billions of dollars to put ourselves in grave and very real danger. Remember the pipeline explosion? How about a JDAM that doesn't fly right if the target is within GPS coordinates approximating your national borders? That's just a simple paranoid fantasy - the reality could be a lot worse. I don't know. We don't know. In fact, we can't know - if we were to try to audit all those jillions of lines of code we're buying from India, we'd need so many talented programmers it'd be cheaper to write it ourselves in the first place.
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With Their Lives If Necessary
I've been noticing something lately. Something that has been around for a while, something that I've talked about, heard about, discussed prolifically. And, I have to admit, something I've very nearly thrown up my hands in regards to.
How can we counter, and SHOULD we counter, the anti-American feelings in the world?
There are lots of people declaring we should counter the anti-Americanism. In fact, up until a discussion with my brother today, I was one. I have no doubt in my mind that the media in its conglomerate form - the media in its Mcnugget presentation of news bites to a general public with ADD for current events, the media with its arrogant assumption that their worldliness makes their opinions worth more and more true than we proletariat who spend our days toiling - is the instigator of this movement.
But I'm not going to discuss what the media is doing wrong, what the media is doing that is biased in the name of lack of bias. I'm not going to discuss what has been discussed ad nauseum.
Because I understand now.
In our talk about the state of America and Americanism, we discussed the infamous debate between Bush and Gore when Bush put forward that we could not be "the world's policemen." Of course, the irony is that we still are - at a far higher level.
And I'm okay with that - because I'm a firm believer that someone has to do it. And, as we military folk say - when we say someone, we mean YOU. That's our lot in life. It's hard, it's difficult, and it's thankless. But someone has to do it. And for all the affluence we Americans enjoy, we must give back to the world.
And we do - oh, we do! Personally, privately, and as a nation we do so much for the power of good and humanity.
But in keeping with the idea of being a police force for the world, we have to look at the position in society occupied by our police.
We love them, don't we? We lionize their bravery. We expect them to protect us. We buy their raffle tickets.
But when they pull behind us on a country road, when we are forced to check our speed as we fly past their car parked by the roadside, when we get indignant because their gaze stops on us as we browse a crowded store - we get indignant, don't we? We're not too happy with the "po-pos", are we? We wish the 5-0 would LEAVE US ALONE.
And the funny thing about that is - when I feel that way I'm usually not doing anything wrong! I never steal. I keep my speed within 5 miles of the speed limit (which drives hubby insane). I do not beat my children or carry around illegal substances in my purse (nor do I store them at my house).
But a policeman has a lot of power, doesn't he? He holds our freedom in our hands, and in his integrity to not invent evidence to indict us for crimes is solely based on his strength of character. It is hard to admit that our well being is dependent on the good and moral behavior of others.
But a good cop is a breed apart from many of us. They are, as Bill Whittle put it in his beautiful essay, the sheepdogs who must use violence to protect us from violence. That makes many of us uncomfortable - it is something we often want to distance ourselves from.
Until, that is, until we need them to keep the wolves at bay. And then they are the first we call, the person we place our ultimate trust and hope for the future in. The people we expect, without fail and without hesitation, to step in front of the bullet meant for us.
The United States is indeed the world's policeman, with all that means and all the baggage that brings.
And perhaps when we worry about the "Anti-Americanism" present in the world, we should think about how we feel in all the different aspects of their jobs when we see the police on our streets. How we extrapolate the behavior of the rare bad egg to them all, even though it is absolutely unwarranted. How the images of Rodney King still play on our airwaves even though we no longer see the images of officers charging into the debris of the WTC to lose their lives rescuing others.
How we so often forget their ultimate goal - to protect us, with their lives if necessary.
If we are unable to to remember that with our own police, how can we expect the world to be any better in regards to our policing of the globe?
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Lakhani will die in prison
It's official: this repellant, foolish, stupid, greedy loser will stay in prison until he dies,
a pathetic, broken old man. Good. I'm surprised they gave him 47 years, because last time I read about him, he was only facing 15. In any case, good riddance. I love the deferential headline from AFP: "British businessman blah blah blah". Everyone weep for the poor British businessman.
NEW YORK (AFP) - A British businessman has been jailed by a US court for 47 years for trying to sell shoulder-launched missiles to what he believed to be a terrorist cell.
The jail term was an effective life sentence for Hemant Lakhani, 70, who was found guilty in April of providing material support of terrorism, money laundering, illegal arms brokering and making false statements in support of smuggling.
A former textile salesman, Lakhani was detained in August 2003 after showing a portable Stinger missile launcher to an intelligence agent posing as a member of a Somali-based terrorist group.
He told FBI agents he could supply them with a further 50 rockets, which could be used to shoot down planes on the second anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Lakhani's defence lawyers had argued that he was entrapped by the FBI and portrayed him as a minor league hustler who posed no genuine terrorist threat.
But pleas for leniency were brushed aside by Judge Katherine Hayden as she passed sentence Monday in New Jersey District Court.
"There is overwhelming evidence that Mr. Lakhani was prepared to sell missiles to terrorists to shoot down aircraft which could have killed hundreds of human beings," Hayden said.
"He illustrated a single-minded greed and determination to profit from the arms trade," she added.
Lakhani was born in India, but but had lived in Britain for 45 years.
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Brazil crackdown on human smuggling rings
Will Mexico follow suit?
Don't make me laugh. I'm glad the Brazilians are willing to do something, though. There are three-quarters of a million of them here illegally.
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Police arrested 43 people Wednesday during raids on clandestine rings sneaking an increasing number of Brazilians into the United States, Europe and Mexico, authorities said.
Members of the U.S. Homeland Security Department and the Spanish Embassy in Brazil took part in the operation as observers, officials said.
Police said 60 search warrants and 56 arrest warrants were issued for suspected traffickers - including eight federal police agents, airline employees and members of Brazil's federal tax bureau - Federal Police Chief Jose Ivan Lobato said in a news conference in Sao Paulo.
A special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Miami said the operation was crucial to help stop illegal immigrants entering the United States, including possible terrorists.
"There was no evidence linking the traffickers to terrorism, but this was definitely a national security issue to us," special agent Jesus Torres told reporters. "Terrorism is always a concern when we are dealing with illegal immigration."
A small group of Peruvians and Chinese also were among those arrested in the raids, which had the participation of nearly 600 officers in four states.
More than 20 people were arrested in the southern state of Santa Catarina, a major center of illegal immigration to the United States, in a sweep dubbed "Operation Bye Bye Brazil."
Agents were also targeting gangs operating in the city of Governador Valadares in Minas Gerais state, another illegal immigration hotspot, and in the states of Parana and Espirito Santo. Police did not specify how many people were arrested in each state.
Typically, the gangs bus immigrants to Brazil's largest city of Sao Paulo and use Guarulhos International Airport, the country's main international air travel hub, to fly their clients to Mexico.
Workers and federal police at Sao Paulo's airport are accused of making it easier for migrants to board flights. Wednesday's raids also targeted travel agencies that served as intermediaries for the smugglers, and criminals specializing in forging travel documents.
The number of Brazilians captured on the U.S.-Mexico border - 27,000 from October to July, nearly triple the previous year - illustrates the trend. Brazil's government estimates half the 1.5 million Brazilians in the United States are there illegally.
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DisasterSearch.org - The Katrina Evacuee Help Center
longwhitecloud alerted us to this righteous effort initiated by a New Zealander
who, with hundreds of volunteers globally, has been working 18-20 hours days since the hurricane struck to help the survivors of Katrina put their lives back together. Not only is it very functional (I bet you can't think of an evacuee's need that they're not trying to take care of), it's also stunningly gorgeous web design. Kudos, and thanks all the way across the Pacific to Lynne Pope in Palmerston North, from grateful America :-) You've done beautiful work and put our own government to shame.Katrina Evacuee Help Center : Search survivors, missing persons, fatalities, shelters, jobs, databases
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Why are Delta and Northwestern going broke? Ask Al Ries!
says Delta and Northwestern have both filed for bankruptcy protection from their (stupid, stupid) creditors. They should be allowed to die, because they refuse to adapt. They had a stunning failure of strategic vision, and they will keep costing the government multi-billion dollar bailouts until we demand "no more!"
Al Ries, one of the greatest business and marketing minds around, can explain why
most airlines can't make money. He wrote this in December, 2004 for AdAge:
In the last 10 years, American Airlines took in $180 billion in revenues and managed to lose almost a billion dollars.
This is the airline that is widely admired for a number of marketing innovations including the launch of the first frequent flyer program.
It"s not only American that has crashed financially. In the last 10 years, the five largest U.S. airlines (American, United, Delta, Northwest and Continental) rang up $657 billion in revenues and racked up $646 million in losses.
What"s wrong with the airline industry is also what"s wrong with many industries in America. Management makes decisions that are right in the short term and wrong in the long term. As a result, they lose focus.
Go back in history. Whenever an airline came to a fork in the sky, they took both forks. One of the first decisions that had to be made was, Should we carry passengers or cargo?
"Let's take both forks," was the almost unanimous reply. "We have extra space under the passenger compartments, so it's a no-brainer." So every major airline in America carries both passengers and cargo.
Not very much cargo, though. American Airlines' cargo revenue last year was only $558 million, or three percent of revenues. In comparison, cargo revenue last year at FedEx was $24.7 billion. And they managed to make $838 million in profits instead of losing a billion like American did.
Both forks thinking is very pervasive, however. At one point in time, United Parcel Service had the dumb idea of putting seats on its planes on the weekends and flying charter passengers.
The next fork in the sky for the airline industry was passenger destinations. Should we fly to business or vacation destinations?
"Let's take both forks," was the almost unanimous reply. "Why should we limit ourselves to one type of destination? Houston or Hawaii? We can do both."
The next fork in the sky was the scope of operations. Should we fly domestic or international?
"Let's take both forks," was the almost unanimous reply. So every major U.S. airline flies passengers to both domestic and international cities.
The next fork in the sky was the class of service. Should we offer first, business or coach service?
"Let's take all three forks," was the almost unanimous reply. So every major airline has multiple classes of service.
In retrospect, it's easy to see the fallacy of an all-forks strategy. But in the short term, many of these marketing moves increased revenues and profits. It's only in the long term, and in the presence of narrowly-focused competition, does an all-forks strategy fall apart.
Enter Southwest, the one-fork airline. Passengers only, no cargo. Business destinations only, no vacation locations. Coach class only, no first or business class service. Domestic flights only, no international service.
No forks on Southwest flights either. The airline serves no food. Won't carry pets. Doesn't allow advance seating reservations or inter-airline baggage exchange.
As a result of its one-fork strategy, Southwest Airlines can operate its system with only one type of aircraft, the Boeing 737. Delta, for example, operates six types of aircraft, not including aircraft operated by Delta Connection subsidiaries ComAir and Atlantic Southeast Airlines.)
A narrow focus can greatly improve operations. In Southwest's case, scheduling and maintenance is much easier to manage. If your mechanics are servicing only one type of aircraft, they can do a better job. (In 31 years of operations, Southwest Airlines has never had a passenger fatality.)
A narrow focus can greatly improve profits. In the last 10 years, Southwest Airlines took in $44.3 billion in revenues and had net income after taxes of $3.6 billion, or an astounding net profit margin of 8.1 percent.
On the stock market, Southwest Airlines is currently worth $12.4 billion, or more than three times as much as American, United, Delta, Northwest and Continental . . . combined.
So what are America's all-forks airlines doing to counter the Southwest threat? Do you suppose they are getting the message that the road to success is "narrowing the focus"?
Not at all. They are meeting the threat posed by Southwest (along with JetBlue and AirTran) with their usual strategy. When you reach a fork in the sky, take both forks.
Should we run a full-service airline or a no-frills airline?
"Let's take both forks," is their usual approach. So Delta Air Lines launches Song. And United Airlines launches Ted.
And what can you say about United's idea of launching a premium service (p.s.) on its transcontinental flights? So now in addition to first, business and coach fares, United will have first p.s., business p.s. and coach p.s. fares.
In the years ahead, I predict more turbulence in the skies for America's all-forks airlines.
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Andrew Rice For Dog Catcher
He's qualified, because he's a Certified Registered 9/11 Family Member™!
When I saw this smug buffoon's BlogAd I wanted to punch my laptop. What a schmuck.Andrew Rice for Oklahoma
-because he's answering the questions the voters didn't ask, such as "how can we apologize to the 9/11 terrorists some more? I don't think we've quite apologized enough to them." He's part of "Peaceful Tomorrows", a group of extreme leftists
who are making a good living dishonoring their own dead, as professional 9/11 relatives.
I understand it's quite lucrative to get on a loopy billionairess's payroll.UPDATE:
the future Wild Oats checkout clerk himself
has linked to us on Daily Kos. (Post originally published 9/05 at 2 pm). UPDATE UPDATE:
His headline has just got me in absolute stitches:
Right Wing Attacks 9/11 Family Member Running for Office
He's incapable of speaking in the first person, much like Bob Dole. "9/11 Family Member Running for Office would like another glass of soymilk", said 9/11 Family Member Running for Office Andrew Rice to his wife, Mrs. 9/11 Family Member Running for Office Rice.
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In some countries in Europe soccer is a disease. Like a virus it is everywhere and penetrates through the best sealed of orifices. Even people who are, otherwise, totally indifferent to sports, become feverish around a big match. They wait for it in anticipation, they listen to it with baited breath and they dissect it endlessly afterwards.
So far so good, right? But it goes deeper than that.
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Christopher Hitchens to debate George Galloway
Christopher Hitchens will debate anti-war crusader George Galloway tonight, Wednesday September 14, 2005 at 7:00 - 10:00 eastern time. Galloway said this to Hitchens the last time he saw him, just before his testimony to congress:
"You're a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay. Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink."
Should be interesting and entertaining.
You can catch a live radio broadcast of the debate at this location: kptfx
and it will also be rerun on CSPAN Saturday at 8:00 EDT.
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Giuliani Smelling Like Roses
has some interesting thoughts at the Times Online. He argues convincingly that Katrina has cemented Rudy's chances of winning a Presidential election in the US. Me, I'd like to see him win the nomination first. I'm not sure he can. And I'm not sure I trust his judgement after the Kerik nomination fiasco.
IT IS IN bad taste, I know, to speculate on the likely winners from events such as Hurricane Katrina so soon after they have struck. While the flood waters are still yielding up their grisly toll it seems insensitive to dwell on the question of who is on the up.
But it would be churlish to pretend that there are not, even now, men and women doing their level best to suppress a rising thrill at the prospect of huge contracts, enhanced international status, Pulitzer prizes. Politicians not being immune to these sentiments, it is fair to say that calculations are being made about where all this puts them in their ascent of the greasy pole.
So far, at least, the single principal political beneficiary of the disaster and its aftermath appears to be Rudolph Giuliani.
The absence of real leadership at any level — city, state or federal — after Hurricane Katrina stands in dismal contrast to the performance of the New York Mayor after September 11. The moaning Mayor of New Orleans and the lachrymose Governor of Louisiana have reminded Americans how much the city — and the nation — needed Rudy four years ago, and how they could do with him now.
Mr Giuliani’s impediments — a slightly complex personal life, views on abortion and gay rights that are way too permissive for most Republicans — crumble away when voters focus on who would be most likely to save their lives in another disaster.
Americans are angry and shamed at what has happened in the past week. If the presidential election were held tomorrow, the reassuring figure of “America’s mayor" would surely win easily. It is early, I reiterate. The next election is three years away; much could change. But it is hard not to be struck by the odd sense of irony that a putative Republican presidential candidate should look like the big winner from this tragedy.
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Ahmadinenajd: In, 5-Minutes Speech for Desperate UN Leaders, OUT!
Tomorrow [Wed. Sep. 14], New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly should order his men to escort the new hard-line president of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Kennedy International Airport, the minute he finishes speaking to the U.N. General Assembly at 3:10 p.m.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took office in August after disputed elections, is not just any head of state. He has a terrorist pedigree that should make him an unwelcome guest in any civilized country, if having a terrorist "watch list" serves any purpose. But perhaps "civilized" is not an adjective that applies to the United Nations, which has standards all its own.
The State Department found Aug. 31 that the Iranian president was "excludable" by law from entering the United States, since he met the definition of an "international terrorist." Nevertheless, the wise heads at Foggy Bottom decided to waive the law.
The U.S. was bound by the Host Treaty agreement to allow anyone -- absolutely anyone -- to address the U.N. if they represented a sovereign state, the State Department lawyers argued. Besides, Mr. Ahmadinejad would not be allowed to travel more than 25 miles outside New York.
But that restriction has not dampened Mr. Ahmadinejad's plans to gather Iranian-Americans for a series of private meetings in Manhattan, where he plans to encourage them to lobby the U.S. government against the policies of the Bush administration, according to individuals who have been contacted by the Islamic Republic's U.N. delegation to attend the meetings.
Specifically, Mr. Ahmadinejad wants their support in discouraging the United States from referring Iran's violations of its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions. He also wants pro-regime Iranians in the United States to lobby Congress and the White House to lift the U.S. trade embargo on Iran.
If Mr. Kelly and the New York Police Department feel they cannot prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from addressing the U.N. General Assembly, they should escort him directly to Kennedy airport after his 5-minute speech so he can't turn the visit into a lobbying tour. There is nothing in the U.S. treaty with the U.N. that says we have to sponsor international terrorists who have come to the United States on a lobbying mission.
I just wonder if he is going to be finger-printed at Kennedy International.Unwelcome mat
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A Question of Race
According to a poll, sixty percent of black Americans
believe the federal government was slow to respond to the people stranded in New Orleans because most of the population there was black. Only twelve percent of white Americans thought the same thing. Yesterday, cba did a guest post about the movie "Crash"
and it brought up the question, do Americans really think in terms of race? I heard a CNN reporter say "...these people are so poor and so black..." What does that mean? Please explain racism to this immigrant who is used to stupidity from people but not to colour discrimination.
And btw, I was proud of our president today: Bush: the buck stops here
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John Roberts Confirmation Hearings
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Terminal Patients 'Put Down'
Doctors: Hurricane Katrina Forced Us to Kill Patients
Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leave them behind to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals, according to a shocking report in the respected British newspaper the Daily Mail.
One emergency official who spoke on the record, William "Forest" McQueen, told the Mail: "Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die."
McQueen, a utility manager for the town of Abita Springs near New Orleans, told relatives that patients had been "put down," saying medical personnel "injected them, but nurses stayed with them until they died."
The Mail did not name the other members of the medical staff interviewed by the newspaper in order to protect their identities. Euthanasia is illegal in Louisiana.
One doctor said: "I didn't know if I was doing the right thing. But I did not have time. I had to make snap decisions, under the most appalling circumstances, and I did what I thought was right.
"I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony. If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose. And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul.
"This was not murder. This was compassion. I had cancer patients who were in agony."
The doctor said medical staffers divided patients into three categories: those who were medically fit enough to survive, those who needed urgent care, and the dying, the Mail reported.
"It came down to giving people the basic human right to die with dignity," said the doctor.
"There were patients with ‘Do Not Resuscitate' signs. Under normal circumstances, some could have lasted several days. But when the power went out, we had nothing.
"Some of the very sick became distressed. We tried to make them as comfortable as possible.
"You have to understand, these people were going to die anyway." According to the Mail, the confessions of the medical staff "are an indictment of the appalling failure of American authorities to help those in desperate need after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city."
(a thimbleful of cognac to jlfintx)
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Cheeky Chavez: Stealing From The Poor To Give To The Rich
The Left's favorite new Robin Hood has his wires crossed-have they noticed? And do they care?
The petty South American demagogue Chavez* made headlines recently with his plan to distribute cut-rate heating oil to poor Americans this winter,
as well as 150,000 free eye surgeries a year for same. I had to wonder just how wasteful of a use of Venezuela's sorely-needed money this was, so I did a little math. I like numbers, they can tell you all kinds of interesting stuff. Forget the eye surgeries. Let's talk about heating oil.
Chavez claims to plan to provide heating oil to 8 million poor Americans at 40% off market rates. One interesting fact
is that only 8.1 million households in the entire USA use heating oil in the winter; the rest heat their houses by other means. With a poverty rate of 12.7%,
and an average US household size of 2.6 persons,
there are at most 2.67 million
poor Americans who depend on heating oil in the winter to keep their homes warm. In other words, there just aren't
8 million poor Americans who could use these heating oil subsidies. Chavez is planning on giving subsidies to 5.33 million rich Americans who don't need them, while his own people starve
with a 79% official poverty rate-25 of that 79% live on less than a single lousy dollar a day.
Now, how much, exactly, of poor Venezuelans' money is Chavez promising to give away to fat, rich Americans?
Your average Northeastern homeowner uses 650-1000
gallons of heating oil in a winter. The vast majority (78%) of heating oil users are Northeasterners, so we can take them as representative. Let's take the average of that range: 825 gallons.
How much is heating oil expected to cost this winter? The government's best official guesstimate is $2.09/gallon in 2005 and $2.26/gallon in 2006.
Since winter spans both years, I'll take the average of that number, too, which is $2.175/gallon. Chavez promises a 40% discount, so of the 825 gallons the average household will buy this winter, 330 gallons will be free, courtesy of the generous Venezuelan poor. Note that I'm not bothering to estimate how much extra heating oil will be used because it's so cheap-when price goes down, demand goes up. I'm not bothering because heating oil demand is fairly inelastic-people have to stay warm in the winter, they don't exactly have much choice. And most people have tanks that can store one quarter to one fifth of their winter's consumption, so they have to refill them three or four times a year. There isn't a lot of excess storage capacity there; at best, maybe demand will go up 20% if every single household filled their tank to take advantage of cheap prices even though winter was over. I'm also ignoring speculators who will buy heating oil in order to sell it at market prices. Let's pretend Chavez has a really good plan for making sure only the 8 million people he has in mind will get the heating oil, and no one else, and let's pretend they won't take advantage of the cheap price to stock up on more than they will use this winter.
Now let's say all 8 million people to whom Chavez promises to sell cheap heating oil take advantage of the deal-and why wouldn't they? It's a good deal. The total cost to Venezuela of this will be 330 free gallons per household per winter x $2.175/gallon x 8,000,000 people / 2.6 people per household, or 2 billion, 208 million dollars.
You read that right.
Venezuela has a per-capita Gross Domestic Product of $2978,
and a population of 25 million.
That means every Venezuelan is giving those 8 million Americans $88.33.
If the "Bolivarian revolution" to help the poor of Venezuela was actually helping the poor, that $2.208 billion would go to Venezuela's poorest, that 25% of the population that lives on less than a dollar a day. That's $353.35
that each Venezuelan who lives on less than a dollar a day could be getting from Chavez. Instead, Chavez is giving it to Americans who don't need it.
He could double the income of 25% of his population by selling the oil to Americans at market price, and improve their lives vastly. Imagine how miserable these people's lives are. Unbelievable.
The income of the average poor American is $2700 below the poverty line,
which is something like $18000 for a family of four. So for our average household size of 2.6 people, the average income of a below-the-poverty-line US household is something like $4700.
Caveat: I believe that this number is actually much higher, but I'm just going on the quickest figures I can find. I blog on a time limit, you know. Chavez is giving them a gift of about $717.75
per household this winter, which is as if he raised their income 15.2%
(I believe it's much less than that, but let's go with it). What's better, to raise the income of already relatively wealthy Americans 15%, or to raise the income of desperately poor Venezuelans 100% (doubling it)? The trouble with this portion of the calculation, of course, is that only a small fraction of the US households that use heating oil are poor, much less than 8 million of them. Another factor I'm ignoring in these calculations is that poor US households get large government subsidies for their heating oil expenses, so they're not exactly depending on Chavez to keep them warm in his creepy embrace.
If, as I suspect, the population of Americans that actually gets the Venezuelan heating oil subsidy is a cross-section of the population rather than just the poor, for the simple reason that there aren't 8 million poor Americans who use heating oil, Chavez's reverse-Robin-Hood act gets even more obscene. Median US household income in 2005 is $60570.
That means Chavez's stolen "gift" of $717.75 per household is a 1.18%
increase in the standard of living for 8 million Americans.
You're the benevolent (humor me) dictator of an impoverished, oil-rich South American country, let's call it "Venezuela". "Venezuela" has a staggering 79% poverty rate, and 6.25 million of your people struggle to survive on less than a dollar a day. The mantra, the selling point, the hallmark, the talking point, the main reason for existence of your government is the reduction of poverty through social spending. You have $2.2 billion dollars to spend.
A. Give 8 million Americans the $2.2 billion as a subsidy on one of your chief exports. The effectiveness of this tactic in reducing poverty is uncertain. In the worst-case scenario, your subsidy is worth 1.18% of their income, which they may or may not notice. In the very best-case scenario, the subsidy is worth 15.2% of their income. Even in the best-case scenario, their own government already gives them a decent subsidy for their expenditure on your exported goods.
B. Charge the Americans the full fair-market price, and give 6.25 million starving Venezuelan paupers the money, which will double their income and reduce their unimaginable plight?
You make the call.* I would have just earned a 6 to 30 month prison sentence for insulting the President, if I was a Venezuelan.
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Scenes From An Atrocity
aridog sends along a few photographs to mark this sombre occasion.
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Amidst all the politicizing, camera-hogging, pontificating, blame-casting, excuse-making, and Bush-bashing, real Americans step up to the plate and answer the call when their fellow citizens are in trouble.
Once again we have been subjected to some of the most awful accusations and diatribes imaginable spewed out of the mouths of politicians, movie actors, rappers and other brainless Neanderthals. For these folks, the whole world is a stage, upon which they reveal themselves to be a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Where’s the love?
Let me tell you where the real love is – it’s something that resides deep in the heart and soul of Americans like embers that only need to be stirred for the fire to leap back to flame. Last Sunday, a young lady in our congregation whose name is Amber asked me if she could make an announcement to the congregation. She told us she was planning to leave for Houston, Texas on Thursday to assist with the relief effort. Could we help her with some things she could take down?
We received any number of coloring books, games, playing cards, children’s books, and a host of other items over the next several days for Amanda to carry down. Only problem is she’d need an old-fashioned shipping trunk to carry all the stuff. She had informed us that she was only taking one suitcase. Ha!
Ellen, who is in charge of our social activities and is one excellent cook, told me she’d love to go down and help organize feeding these displaced people. She and her husband raised their own children plus a number of adopted children. I’ve forgotten just how many. She laments that she cannot go and help due to health conditions.
I ran into Sharon at the gas station yesterday. She doesn’t attend our church, but asked if we were taking an offering to help in the relief effort. I assured her we were, and in fact, had taken a collection the previous Sunday, September 7. She said she figured as much and wanted to make a contribution.
My friend and fellow-Marine, Dave, asked if he could use his skills as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). I looked at him and sadly shook my head no. You see, Dave is a Vietnam Vet, who, due to wounds and injuries, must move around now with a walker. This is a man with three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and the Navy Cross. He’s in his early fifties. And he’s someone you would want in a time of crisis. His broken body simply won’t allow him to be involved in this rescue effort.
I could tell you of others but you get the idea. You could probably add to this list yourself. In fact, you’d probably want to go yourself if you could.
The truth of the matter is that so many Americans have stepped up that the organizers of the rescue efforts are having to now turn people away. Not to worry, though. It is predicted that the recovery period will go on for months. More people will be needed as others are required to return home to their jobs and families.
I was spending the day on Friday at the Navy/Marine Corps Reserve Center in Alameda where my command is located. I was visiting the Commanding Officer, Commander Lisa Avila, and the Executive Officer, LCDR Brian Week. I asked what was being done by our reservists regarding Hurricane Katrina. They told me the phones have been ringing off the hook from reservists wanting to know how they could be used in the relief effort. Could they get orders to the Gulf?
These are my kind of Americans! No hand-wringing. No finger-pointing. No excuse-making. Just normal folks who know how to get things done. And if they can’t go themselves, they’ll at least make a monetary contribution. Or they’ll ship supplies to the affected area. And they’ll pray.
I can’t help but think of what Jesus said in John 15:12-13. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.�?
Real Americans know this truth. They love their neighbor, regardless of race, creed or national origin. This has been my experience everywhere I travel in this great land of ours.
Do the nay-sayers bother me? Not really. After my initial desire to reach through the TV screen and grab some mealy-mouthed no-account by the throat, I remember that they do not represent Americans, real Americans I have been privileged to know.
America is great because her people are great.
God bless America!
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On That Day They Wounded New York
Summer is almost over. There's a tang in the air, not yet cool, but like a premonition of coolness to come.
It used to be a happy time in childhood. Shopping for school. Anticipating Halloween. It brings to mind the smell of fresh, crisp apples, the bustle of canning for the coming winter, the new pencils, waiting their first sharpening, the new notebooks, with nothing yet printed on them.
In a way, a new school year was both exciting and scary. I knew what would happen at the beginning, I knew the work that lay in between, but I did not know who I would be at the other end. In the dark tunnels of adolescence every year was a new voyage and the person at the end sometimes had little to do with the person at the beginning.
Now the end of August brings the nightmares and another sort of fear and the nights I wake up and stare at the ceiling and wonder what we will all be - what the world will be - at the end of this tunnel. The tunnel we entered on September 11 2001.
Curiously, before that date I did not sleep for about a month. Not because of any premonition or fear - at least I don't think so. I was worried about career issues, confused about choices I had to make: choices that now seem childish or irrelevant.
In fact, now, when I look back to the decade before 2001, I see it as halcyon days, a long summer of childhood - a time between the fraught times of early adolescence and this dark, narrow point at which we are now where the future can only be dimly perceived.
And the day, itself, dawned inoffensive. With no premonitions of doom. I walked the kids to school through the warm morning, waited till pre-school opened to leave the little one after his brothers had started school, and walked back home to work. But I hadn't sat at the computer when the phone rang, and my friend told me to turn on the tv because a plane had hit the trade center.
Thus started days of sitting in front of the tv, as friends gathered - at our house, as usual in times of joy or distress. They brought alcohol and sweets and I think we all gained twenty pounds in the next week. We cried and we hugged and we cried some more.
And even so, even back then, even as my kids, in a profoundly liberal suburb, learned old patriotic songs full of fire and vengeance - like the battle anthem of the republic - I kept hearing the talking heads say that nothing would ever be the same again. And I thought they were nuts. Just nuts. Because it was so strange - this terrorist attacking something like our mighty country. Unsettling, sure. But we'd punish it swiftly, overwhelmingly. Everyone would remain united behind it. And life would go on.
I counted without the cold war leavings. The people who were still bitter at the USA for winning the cold war immediately took the side of the terrorists. My mind still boggles at this - as it boggled every step of the way while it was happening.
Today - again - I avoided a confrontation with a friend blithering over "a billion a day spent on Iraq", an exaggerated sum, and not the point at all. I wanted to say "We will endure any hardship, pay any price." But I knew it would only bring about a final argument. And though I know the argument can't be long delayed, I would wait yet a while. For the sake of friendship past.
Because, you see, it is not her fault. She simply isn't thinking. She is not capable of seeing that we are hated - that there is a new fascism ready to enslave the world. She doesn't see it's the same old beast Hitler and Stalin rode, this time wearing Islamic robes, but the same still. I realized today - when I got hold of the new Leonard Cohen Album, Dear Heather, what the problem is.
In his Song "On That Day" Cohen finishes with the lines "Did you go crazy, or did you report/On that day they wounded New York." The booklet with the CD defines report as "presenting oneself for duty" or "enlisting."
And that’s the problem.
The problem, you see, is that my friend went crazy. She could not accept that someone could hate us that much for no good reason. She could not accept that anyone but America might be dangerous. In a way it is the touching faith of a child in his parents. She thinks America - big, powerful - is the ONLY actor for good and evil in the world. And as such, if there's anything wrong, America alone caused it and can change it. This solipsistic madness prevents her from seeing how we can lose the war. How we can lose it most definitely.
Oh, not by arms, not on the battle field. Not by any fair means. Not even - I think - by being subverted from within. Too many of us remember Vietnam and the press does not have the power it once had.
No - listen to my fear, the nightmare that wakes me from deep sleep. This is how we can lose the war and ourselves and never emerge from the other end of the tunnel - imagine another September morn, clear and full of promise. Imagine well scrubbed kids headed for school and a new year. Imagine a Beslan in an American suburb.
Now imagine the vengeance. Parents rising up. Imagine how many Muslims, how many non-Muslim liberals - otherwise innocent - will be swept up in the vengeance. I can't promise I won't kill the first person who says "we brought this on ourselves." In those circumstances, particularly if I lose one of my kids to this, I probably will. And so will others.
This is not the only disaster. There are many others. A smallpox epidemic unleashed. A nuclear explosion in Manhattan. Any of these will push a majority of Americans into... something else.
And then at the end of it, who will we be? We won't be ourselves. The brave experiment that has been America all these two hundred years will have mutated. Changed. No more will people say "My friends, G-d bless them, the most politically dizzy bunch that ever lived, but I love them." No more will neighbors, side by side, trade civil good mornings despite opposing political signs in their yard. And pitch together in need, despite heated opinion differences.
It is possible, as someone said somewhere, that were that to happen there won't be "a Muslim alive on the face of the Earth." And that massacre of the innocent with the guilty will be only the beginning. The America I fell in love with, the America where each person can be as eccentric as they please provided they don't hurt others will be gone.
What will be left will be something more like the conformism of Europe. Or worse. A global Empire, bent on subjugating the foreigners we can’t trust.
And that, my friends, is what we can’t allow to happen.
To avoid it, we need - paradoxically - to "report". To enlist. We need to stop the nonsense, the "gotcha" politics, the "bush war" the "bush lied" games. Those are the games of the insane playing at the edge of abyss. And we need to get serious. Really serious. We need to smack the administration where it counts. Not on their lack of sensitivity, but on their nonsense with immigration. Not on their profiling, but on the shocking inefficiency of airport security. Not on their deficit but on the efficient transferral of money to needed equipment for the troops. Not on their snubbing of Europe, but on what they're doing about China, Syria, Iran, North Korea.
Only then can we ensure there are no more September elevens. Only then can we ensure America will be the same at the end of this dark tunnel.
Only then can we adequately honor those who died.
On that day they wounded New York.
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'Chicago Did It – Why Couldn't New Orleans?'
Dr. Joseph Mercola
has an interesting take on what happened in New Orleans:
I live in Chicago and it was also below sea level before 1850. However the city spent 20 years to repair that and rebuild itself 14 feet higher. Chicago is FAR larger than New Orleans. If they were able to fix their city over 150 years ago why couldn't New Orleans?
Instead New Orleans chose to do nothing, absolutely nothing to correct its plight and now that the predicted disaster has occurred significant portions of its entitlement mentality population believe the federal government "owes it to them" to repair their city. Now, you and I will have to pay TENS OF BILLIONS of our tax dollars to correct their careless irresponsible behavior.
Morally Unacceptable Behavior
Hundreds of its citizens chose to pillage and rape its own residents and aim deadly fire on those that were sent to help them by bringing supplies and repair assistance.
Then, to add insult to injury, the city decides to send its municipal workers and their families to Las Vegas. Is it because their isn't enough work to do or because they just could not figure out what to do with all their surplus city funds?
The city is BILLIONS of dollars in debt due to this disaster and wants to spend money it doesn't have to send these families to Las Vegas.
It is most unfortunate that so many helpless people had to suffer and die because those in responsible positions chose to do nothing. The media has not said one word about bringing the appropriate city officials to trial for this disaster.
Rather the mayor of New Orleans goes on the media and issues multiple profanities rather than accepting responsibility for not taking preventive action that could have avoided this disaster.
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Why New Orleans absolutely MUST and WILL be rebuilt
A lot of people are wondering
why we're about to waste a few hundred billion dollars rebuilding New Orleans. The answer is that we absolutely must. New Orleans is America's chokepoint; there are few equally strategically important cities in the United States. Yes, it's a shitty place to have to build a city, but we have no choice. Whether it's futile or not, we're going to rebuild it. George Friedman from STRATFOR explains why:
September 01, 2005 22 30 GMT -- The American political system was founded in Philadelphia, but the American nation was built on the vast farmlands that stretch from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. That farmland produced the wealth that funded American industrialization: It permitted the formation of a class of small landholders who, amazingly, could produce more than they could consume. They could sell their excess crops in the east and in Europe and save that money, which eventually became the founding capital of American industry.
But it was not the extraordinary land nor the farmers and ranchers who alone set the process in motion. Rather, it was geography -- the extraordinary system of rivers that flowed through the Midwest and allowed them to ship their surplus to the rest of the world. All of the rivers flowed into one -- the Mississippi -- and the Mississippi flowed to the ports in and around one city: New Orleans. It was in New Orleans that the barges from upstream were unloaded and their cargos stored, sold and reloaded on ocean-going vessels. Until last Sunday, New Orleans was, in many ways, the pivot of the American economy.
For that reason, the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 was a key moment in American history. Even though the battle occurred after the War of 1812 was over, had the British taken New Orleans, we suspect they wouldn't have given it back. Without New Orleans, the entire Louisiana Purchase would have been valueless to the United States. Or, to state it more precisely, the British would control the region because, at the end of the day, the value of the Purchase was the land and the rivers - which all converged on the Mississippi and the ultimate port of New Orleans. The hero of the battle was Andrew Jackson, and when he became president, his obsession with Texas had much to do with keeping the Mexicans away from New Orleans.
During the Cold War, a macabre topic of discussion among bored graduate students who studied such things was this: If the Soviets could destroy one city with a large nuclear device, which would it be? The usual answers were Washington or New York. For me, the answer was simple: New Orleans. If the Mississippi River was shut to traffic, then the foundations of the economy would be shattered. The industrial minerals needed in the factories wouldn't come in, and the agricultural wealth wouldn't flow out. Alternative routes really weren't available. The Germans knew it too: A U-boat campaign occurred near the mouth of the Mississippi during World War II. Both the Germans and Stratfor have stood with Andy Jackson: New Orleans was the prize.
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The College Years
When a person goes off to college it signifies the beginning of adulthood. I couldn't wait to go to college, it meant living on my own and having a wonderful time away from parental constraints. It also meant that I had to take responsibility for my own life.
I received a shock at the end of a semester when I got an F in History. The teacher accused me of helping a classmate cheat on the final - the classmate was Greek and the professor assumed (falsely) that I was the one who helped him and so he gave me a failing grade. This was very serious for me, as I tried to explain to him, because that F brought my GPA down which in turn affected my scholarships.
Would a phone call from my parents to the department chair have solved the problem? Probably, yes. American universities want to keep parents happy, unlike Greek universities who have a stiff competition for a limited number of admissions every year and therefore couldn't care less if a parent or student is unhappy with their grades, or the cafeteria food, or the lack of soap in the bathrooms. In Greece, it's an honour to be in the university, not a right.
Anyway, I never thought to call my parents. I seethed at the injustice, wrote an angry letter to the Dean and gave the professor the finger every time I saw him on campus. I think he's very glad I graduated.Colleges Try to Deal With Hovering Parents
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Tancredo Tells It Like It Is
The more I hear from Tom Tancredo,
the more I like him. Now he's calling for Louisiana's corrupt politicians to be cut out of responsibility for administering Congress's hurricane relief funds. (A thimbleful of cognac to floranista, bloggie's sweetheart)
Dear Mr. Speaker,
Given the abysmal failure of state and local officials in Louisiana to plan adequately for or respond to the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans, and given the long history of public corruption in Louisiana, I hope the House will refrain from directly appropriating any funds from the public treasury to either the state of Louisiana or the city of New Orleans. Instead, reconstruction and relief funds dedicated to the people of New Orleans should be administered by a private organization or a select committee similar to the historic Truman Commission.
Public corruption is a well known problem in Louisiana. The head of the FBI in New Orleans just this past year described the state’s public corruption as “epidemic, endemic, and entrenched. No branch of government is exempt.�? Over the last thirty years, a long list of Louisiana politicians have been convicted of crimes; the list includes a governor, an attorney general, an elections commissioner, an agriculture commissioner, three successive insurance commissioners, a congressman, a federal judge, a State Senate president, six other state legislators, and a host of appointed officials, local sheriffs, city councilmen, and parish police jurors. Given the documented public corruption in the state, I am not confident that Louisiana officials can be trusted to administer federal relief aid.
Clearly the federal response from FEMA in the aftermath of the hurricane was hampered by bureaucratic ineptitude. Making matters worse, the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana have demonstrated mind-boggling incompetence in their lack of planning for and response to this disaster. According to one recent media report, “A year ago, as Hurricane Ivan approached, New Orleans ordered an evacuation but did not use city or school buses to help people evacuate. As a result many of the poorest citizens were unable to evacuate. Fortunately, the hurricane changed course and did not hit New Orleans, but both Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin acknowledged the need for a better evacuation plan...[but] did not take corrective actions. In 1998, during a threat by Hurricane George, 14,000 people were sent to the Superdome and theft and vandalism were rampant due to inadequate security. Again, these problems were not corrected."
The city of New York, by comparison, had no advance warning of 9/11. Yet Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki displayed tremendous leadership in managing a chaotic situation in the city. Their leadership inspired confidence in their ability to manage the emergency and coordinate federal aid. In contrast, despite knowing days in advance about the coming hurricane, Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin seem to have done little beyond encouraging residents to leave the city or gather at the Superdome. City school and transit buses could have carried 12,000 persons per run out of the city, yet they sat idle in parking lots under water – while both the Mayor and Governor criticized the federal response.
In the coming days, tens of billions of dollars will likely flood Louisiana to address the costs of rescue, clean up, and rebuilding. The question is not whether Congress should provide for those in need, but whether state and local officials who have been derelict in their duty should be trusted with that money. Their record during Hurricane Katrina and the long history of public corruption in Louisiana convinces me that that they should not. Sincerely,
Tom Tancredo, M.C.
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Karen Hughes has been given the task of improving America's image abroad.
Surveys examining attitudes towards America found that anti-Americanism in Europe, Asia and the Middle East has slightly decreased but America is still widely disliked. The surge in anti-Americanism was, supposedly, a result of the Iraq war. I don't really think that's true. I began to notice increased anti-Americanism in Europe in the mid-90s; I don't know why but liking Americans just wasn't cool anymore. And of course more confirmation came right after 9/11 when I heard so many people say "It's terrible what happened but..." - assigning blame to the victims for the actions of the killers simply because the victims were Americans.
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A crank hits on the truth.
I've been really discouraged by the "chop it off, we don't need it" ethic of Rumsfeld's military, but this guy really nails it: Fighter plan is latest evidence of military decay
Here's some good news. The July 8 issue of Physical Review Letters, the journal of the American Physical Society, reports that it may be feasible to build a working time machine. Einstein's special theory of relativity raised the possibility of altering the flow of time, and now an Israeli scientist has proposed a method for accomplishing that end using normal materials in a vacuum.
Which means that one day, when Donald Rumsfeld has finally quit the Pentagon's fabled E-ring and America has a president with some inkling of what is going on in his biggest cabinet department, it may be possible to undo all the damage that the last four years have visited on the nation's military posture. During that time, the Bush Administration has pursued defense policies so poorly conceived that they expend half a trillion dollars per year while making the nation progressively less prepared for future military challenges.
The latest evidence of that remarkable achievement is a report by Mark Mazzetti in today's Los Angeles Times disclosing that policymakers are considering killing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a program that was supposed to provide three of the military services and a dozen allies with their next generation of tactical aircraft. Pentagon spokesperson Lawrence Di Rita told the Times it is too early to say which programs will be cut or kept, but the truth of the matter is that all the tactical-aircraft options the ongoing "quadrennial defense review" is considering would slash fighter programs inherited from previous administrations.
One option would kill the Air Force's version of the F-35, eliminating about 70% of the planned domestic buy. Another option would kill both the Air Force and Navy versions. Either way, the whole program would eventually disappear, because whatever planes remained would end up looking astronomically expensive. As for the more capable F-22 Raptor -- the plane the Air Force says it really needs to maintain global air superiority for the next generation (and which has already been largely paid for) -- that would cease production by the end of the decade. Incidentally, so would every other fixed-wing aircraft the military is currently buying.
If some foreign country had visited this sort of destruction on America's military, historians would call it an huge defeat. Apparently Rumsfeld isn't satisfied to have presided over the biggest terrorist attack in history, an unnecessary war in Mesopotamia, and the unraveling of the western alliance. Now he wants to bequeath to his successors a denuded defense posture that invites countries like China to begin competing again in the conventional measures of military power where America was thought to be supreme.
It is a stunning commentary on the shallowness of the administration's vision of military transformation that all the lessons learned in a century of fighting imperialism, fascism and communism are being tossed aside to address a handful of extremists scattered across Arabia. Rumsfeld and his advisors are so traumatized by their repeated failures in dealing with this modest threat that they are now engaged in a wholesale dismantling of the nation's military posture -- air power, sea power, land power -- as they grasp fruitlessly for some way out of the box they have fashioned for themselves.
I don't quite agree that the Mesopotamian adventure was unnecessary, but Rumsfeld's shoestring "transformational" military isn't going to win any wars against near-peer adversaries like China.Mark Helprin
says much the same thing at OpinionJournal today.
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Bush sends Brown packing
FEMA Chief Relieved of Katrina Duties
Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being removed from his role in managing the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and is returning to Washington.
Brown, who has been under fire for the federal government's slow response to the storm that devastated much of the Gulf Coast region, will be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing New Orleans relief and rescue efforts.
Asked if he was being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism, Brown told The Associated Press after a long pause: "By the press, yes. By the president, No."
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Can you believe this clown?Ray Nagin: School Buses Not Good Enough
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin garnered a ton of publicity with a profanity-laced interview he gave to WWL radio last Thursday, where he blasted President Bush and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco for not coming to rescue his city in time.
However, Nagin's most newsworthy comments - where he explained why he didn't use hundreds of city school buses to evacuate his city's flood victims - went almost unnoticed.
Turns out, Nagin turned his nose up at the yellow buses, demanding more comfortable Greyhound coaches instead.
"I need 500 buses, man," he told WWL. "One of the briefings we had they were talking about getting, you know, public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out of here."
Nagin described his response:
"I'm like - you've got to be kidding me. This is a natural disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans."
While Nagin was waiting for his Greyhound fleet, Katrina's floodwaters swamped his school buses, rendering them unusable.
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How blogs make things worse: a case study
The left-wing blogosphere was buzzing with the news that a German station, ZDF, had reported that a food distribution center in New Orleans was staged to give Bush a photo-op, then disappeared after he was gone, leaving the people there without any help. It sounded like left-wing German media bullshit, but it turned out to just be left-wing American blogosphere bullshit. Read on...Respectful of Otters
Looking at the transcripts, it seems easy enough to figure out what happened. Laura's commenter, who appears to have been reconstructing from memory a news story he'd seen on TV, elided the New Orleans segment (which had Bush speaking at "one of the few" supply distribution points) and the Biloxi segment (which had cleaning crews working only along Bush's route, and disappearing afterward). Combined, these two segments became a story about supply distribution points disappearing after Bush's visit.
That story fit in well with Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's report that construction equipment had been brought in to the levee for Bush's visit, and then removed again. And it also fit in well with the lefty blogosphere's traditional distrust of the American media ("There was a striking discrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV"), and their perceptions that foreign reporters are more likely to get it right.
The fact that the story fits so well with our current frames for interpreting Katrina news may explain why, when War and Piece posted a translation the day after the original report, no one (including Laura Rozen) seemed to notice that the translation was substantially different from the original story. It's natural that rumors are flying everywhere right now. But we should be careful about what we do with unsourced news, especially when it confirms our biases. We here at Respectful of Otters and Idealistic Pragmatist are hardly Bush supporters, but we do think it's important to set the record straight. It's easy to lose the subtleties--or even the main point--of a news story that isn't in your native language. But we need to be careful not to undercut the points we're trying to make with even unintentional amplification. The news coming out of the U.S. Gulf Coast, including the biting commentary by ZDF news, is damning enough as it stands.
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Amazing story of a Katrina survivor
tried to ride out the storm with his two dogs, and found out it was a bit more than he'd bargained for. When some guys in an airboat showed up offering to help him evacuate his second-story house, they promised that the situation for pet owners had changed and he would be allowed to keep his dogs, and that they would take him to Baton Rouge, where he could get further transportation. Instead, they took him to a hellish refugee camp and locked him in with 20,000 people. Officials were walking around confiscating pets, so he teamed up with two other people and made a daring escape and an extraordinary 30-wile walk to the nearest town. Read it for yourself.
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Whom should we believe? Our own lying eyes or Thierry Meyssan?
French Author Thierry Meyssan to Iranian TV: 9/11 Was Carried Out by the U.S. Government
"You just asked another question: Was there any indication that Islamists were involved? One might think that the Islamists were drawn into this affair, not as the main planners, but as those carrying out the plan, or as members of one American group against another. Maybe. That's a theory. But this is the only theory raised by the US government. In order to prove this theory, America is giving different indications. The problem is that whenever we look into these indications, they turn out to be false, erroneous, and an afterthought. Ultimately, we have no clear proof about the Al-Qaeda network's involvement. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I'm saying that it does not prove a thing. On the other hand, you recall that the U.S. government had promised to provide sufficient evidence for Al-Qaeda involvement in the affair. U.S. Secretary of State General Colin Powell undertook personally and publicly to present a comprehensive report on the affair. Until the war in Afghanistan, this was a genuine promise. Ten months have passed, and we still don't have this report. The reason is that they had no proof. One of the most well-known stories that they concocted for us is that there were four planes hijacked by 19 terrorists, and the FBI immediately published the list of the 19 terrorists. How could they have prepared this list? The FBI is not telling us since this is a secret. But why these 19, and not some other 19? Is it because they happened to follow them through phone-calls? Were the names of these 19 on the passenger lists? No. In my opinion, none of them were on the flight lists. But they say that there were a few who boarded the planes at the last moment, and their names were therefore not on the passenger lists. The problem is that the number of people who boarded the planes is smaller than those 19 terrorists that the U.S. is presenting. So, in practical terms, it is impossible that all 19 boarded the planes. However, among those 19, six are still alive, so they couldn't have been on the planes, or they would be dead. They are generally Saudis, and they held interviews with the international press. The strangest case is that of Muhammad 'Atta, who is mentioned as the leader of this terrorist group. Nobody tracked him down, but his father is certain that he is alive, and that he called him the day after 9/11. He says: 'My son has never been involved in such crimes. He does not kill civilians this way. If he fights, he kills soldiers and not civilians.' Whom should we believe – the FBI or Muhammad Atta's father?"
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Barbara, open your mouth a little wider and try sticking the foot in a little deeper...There, that's good!
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Kuwait digs deep
Kuwait Pledges $500M for Hurricane Relief.
For reference, there are a little more than 2 million Kuwaitis, so this is about $250 per Kuwaiti. Thanks, guys!
KUWAIT CITY -- The oil-rich Persian Gulf state of Kuwait said Sunday it will donate $500 million in aid to U.S. relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
The offer is the largest known put forward since the hurricane ravaged Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and follows a $100 million aid donation from the emir of a Mideast neighbor, Qatar.
Kuwait's energy minister said his country would provide "oil products that the disaster-stricken states need in addition to other humanitarian aid."
"It's our duty as Kuwaitis to stand by our friends to lighten the humanitarian misery and as a payback for the many situations during which Washington helped us through the significant relations between the two friendly countries," Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah said in a statement carried by Kuwait's official news agency, KUNA.
Kuwait is one of America's closest Mideast allies and owes its 1991 liberation from Iraqi occupation forces to a U.S.-led coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's army out.
Kuwait and Qatar's donations came as the Egypt-based 22-member Arab League called on Arab nations to provide relief to the U.S.
The Arab League said that its secretary-general, Amr Moussa, sent a cable of "deep condolences and regret to the U.S. administration over the effect of Hurricane Katrina ... and called on all Arab countries to extend aid to the United States to face the exceptional humane circumstances."
I guess rich white Americans are a more attractive charity recipient than poor brown Muslims, because Kuwait gave something like a dollar per citizen to the tsunami victims. Still, five hundred million smackeroos sure make up for this stupid stinkbeard's rantings.
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The Other Side of a Judge
Alan Dershowitz: Telling the Truth About Chief Justice Rehnquist
My mother always told me that when a person dies, one should not say anything bad about him. My mother was wrong. History requires truth, not puffery or silence, especially about powerful governmental figures. And obituaries are a first draft of history. So here’s the truth about Chief Justice Rehnquist you won’t hear on Fox News or from politicians. Chief Justice William Rehnquist set back liberty, equality, and human rights perhaps more than any American judge of this generation. His rise to power speaks volumes about the current state of American values.
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Motorists, Rejoice! Oil Shale Boom Coming
The Rocky Mountain News
has this extremely encouraging report.
Hey, House of Saud: bite me.
When oil prices last touched record highs - actually, after adjusting for inflation we're not there yet, but given the effects of Hurricane Katrina, we probably will be soon - politicians' response was more hype than hope. Oil shale in Colorado! Tar sands in Alberta! OPEC be damned!
Remember the Carter-era Synfuels Corp. debacle? It was a response to the '70s energy shortages, closed down in 1985 after accomplishing essentially nothing at great expense, which is pretty much a description of what usually happens when the government tries to take over something that the private sector can do better. Private actors are, after all, spending their own money.
Since 1981, Shell researchers at the company's division of "unconventional resources" have been spending their own money trying to figure out how to get usable energy out of oil shale. Judging by the presentation the Rocky Mountain News heard this week, they think they've got it.
Shell's method, which it calls "in situ conversion," is simplicity itself in concept but exquisitely ingenious in execution. Terry O'Connor, a vice president for external and regulatory affairs at Shell Exploration and Production, explained how it's done (and they have done it, in several test projects):
Drill shafts into the oil-bearing rock. Drop heaters down the shaft. Cook the rock until the hydrocarbons boil off, the lightest and most desirable first. Collect them.
Please note, you don't have to go looking for oil fields when you're brewing your own.
On one small test plot about 20 feet by 35 feet, on land Shell owns, they started heating the rock in early 2004. "Product" - about one-third natural gas, two-thirds light crude - began to appear in September 2004. They turned the heaters off about a month ago, after harvesting about 1,500 barrels of oil.
While we were trying to do the math, O'Connor told us the answers. Upwards of a million barrels an acre, a billion barrels a square mile. And the oil shale formation in the Green River Basin, most of which is in Colorado, covers more than a thousand square miles - the largest fossil fuel deposits in the world.
They don't need subsidies; the process should be commercially feasible with world oil prices at $30 a barrel. The energy balance is favorable; under a conservative life-cycle analysis, it should yield 3.5 units of energy for every 1 unit used in production. The process recovers about 10 times as much oil as mining the rock and crushing and cooking it at the surface, and it's a more desirable grade. Reclamation is easier because the only thing that comes to the surface is the oil you want.
And we've hardly gotten to the really ingenious part yet. While the rock is cooking, at about 650 or 750 degrees Fahrenheit, how do you keep the hydrocarbons from contaminating ground water? Why, you build an ice wall around the whole thing. As O'Connor said, it's counterintuitive.
But ice is impermeable to water. So around the perimeter of the productive site, you drill lots more shafts, only 8 to 12 feet apart, put in piping, and pump refrigerants through it. The water in the ground around the shafts freezes, and eventually forms a 20- to 30-foot ice barrier around the site.
Next you take the water out of the ground inside the ice wall, turn up the heat, and then sit back and harvest the oil until it stops coming in useful quantities. When production drops, it falls off rather quickly.
That's an advantage over ordinary wells, which very gradually get less productive as they age.
Then you pump the water back in. (Well, not necessarily the same water, which has moved on to other uses.) It's hot down there so the water flashes into steam, picking up loose chemicals in the process. Collect the steam, strip the gunk out of it, repeat until the water comes out clean. Then you can turn off the heaters and the chillers and move on to the next plot (even saving one or two of the sides of the ice wall, if you want to be thrifty about it).
Most of the best territory for this astonishing process is on land under the control of the Bureau of Land Management. Shell has applied for a research and development lease on 160 acres of BLM land, which could be approved by February. That project would be on a large enough scale so design of a commercial facility could begin.
The 2005 energy bill altered some provisions of the 1920 Minerals Leasing Act that were a deterrent to large-scale development, and also laid out a 30-month timetable for establishing federal regulations governing commercial leasing.
Shell has been deliberately low-key about their R&D, wanting to avoid the hype, and the disappointment, that surrounded the last oil-shale boom. But O'Connor said the results have been sufficiently encouraging they are gradually getting more open. Starting next week, they will be holding public hearings in northwest Colorado.
I'll say it again. Wow.
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Paypal: the biggest jerks on earth
A lot of you know what SomethingAwful is. Well, Katrina put them out of business, and they're running on a shoestring while they wait for new servers. They put up an appeal for donations for the victims of Katrina, linked to a paypal account. SomethingAwful has previously raised 22 grand to buy armor plating for the troops in Iraq and 6 grand to buy toys for dying kids in the hospitals.
Well, their Katrina relief appeal raised $3,500 an hour for the Red Cross. Until the jackals and hyenas at Paypal froze SomethingAwful's account. For no reason at all. I've heard stories about Paypal taking the money and running, but this one really takes the cake.Something Awful is Somewhere Awful
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Noah's Wish: a worthy charity
If you were upset about poor Snowball,
you should give to Noah's Wish.
What Is Noah's Wish?
Noah's Wish is a not-for-profit, animal welfare organization, with a straightforward mission. We exist to keep animals alive during disasters. That's it.
We are not involved in any other animal welfare issues. It's not that we are not concerned about all the ways animals are abused and exploited. Noah's Wish would like nothing more than to see all suffering stop. Fortunately, there are a multitude of national and local animal welfare organizations who are tackling the issues that adversely affect animals. No other organization has made the commitment though to just focus on disaster relief work for animals. That's the void we are filling.
Noah's Wish came into existence in March 2002, not to duplicate existing efforts to help animals during earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes, but rather to expand on what's already in place. Too often, efforts to help animals during these life threatening situations have been gravely inadequate. It would be unacceptable if relief efforts for people were as fragmented.
Noah's Wish recognizes that animals need and deserve an organized, consistent, and professionally managed national disaster relief program. Otherwise, they will continue to pay for human indifference with their lives. What will raise the standards for how animals are managed during disasters is to implement well thought out, field tested, policies and procedures that are practiced in all disasters. Relief efforts for people are managed this way and we feel they should be for animals too.
Noah's Wish wants animals to survive disasters by getting the services they need, therefore, we have taken on the challenge to raise the standards. What we have set out to do, no other organization has successfully done. There have been countless attempts made, but the efforts have not gone far enough. Noah's Wish has a great deal of work ahead of us, but we're confident in our ability and determination to get the job done. What other choice do we have?
To learn specifically what Noah's Wish does to help animals during disasters, click on Services.
A general brochure that talks about Noah's Wish can be found by clicking on, Brochure.
►► What Makes Us Unique?
Having just one focus, Noah's Wish is able to direct all of our resources - financial, equipment, staff, and volunteers, to end the needless suffering and death of animals when disasters strike. Over 75% of all donations made to Noah's Wish go directly towards helping animals. We know you want your money to benefit animals and not pay inflated salaries or rent on elaborate office space. As a Noah's Wish Preparedness Partner your mailbox will not be overloaded with appeal letters from us with heart wrenching photographs and sad stories intended to make you feel compelled to donate. Whenever possible we will use e-mail to communicate with you, a huge savings over stationery, printing, and postage. When we do contact you in this way the information will be immediate and not weeks or months old.
We will be doing a magazine just once a year called, This Year's Journey. It will include articles and pictures that volunteers submit from disasters, along with the organization's achievements. The pages will present an honest, fresh, and comforting look at disaster relief work. During the year, Noah's Wish will not lure you to support us by sending you such things as return address labels, watches, generic note cards, or pocket calendars. Instead, we believe it'll be the consistent dedication and hard work of our Disaster Response Team, as well as always making animals, not money, the number one priority of Noah's Wish, that will convince you to become a Preparedness Partner.
To obtain a copy of our most recent 990, which is the annual form Noah's Wish files with the Internal Revenue Service, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
►► Disaster Response Team
Noah's Wish has a full-time staff of two and one part-time person, which makes us the only organization in the United States to recognize the need for this many people to be ready at all times to respond to a disaster. The Noah's Wish staff includes:
Terri Crisp - Founder and Director
Jennifer McKim - Administrative Assistant
Sheri Thompson - Training Manager
Our Director, Terri Crisp, has been involved in managing animals during disasters since 1983. It's the experience and knowledge that she has gained during 66 disasters that has provided Noah's Wish with a solid foundation on which to develop and grow. In addition to the staff, Noah's Wish has twenty-nine coordinators with combined experience in over 100 disasters. The coordinators work with staff to monitor developing disasters and respond when needed within the United States and Canada. An ever growing nationwide network of trained volunteers completes the team of people dedicated to the mission of Noah's Wish. In addition, we have trained volunteers in Canada.
Noah's Wish Staff and Coordinators
To become acquainted with out Disaster Response Team click on, Staff or Coordinator profiles. Also posted on the Coordinator profile pages are photographs of our volunteers taken at past trainings they have attended.
To see a list of which disasters Noah's Wish Staff and Coordinators have participated in click on, Disaster Experience.
►► Volunteer In-Field Training
To prepare volunteers to work with Noah's Wish during a disaster, they complete our unique 3 day training which is designed to give the participants an experience similar to what they would encounter in an actual disaster, while preparing them for the physical and emotional challenges of doing disaster relief work. The trainings are conducted in locations similar to where we might set up a temporary evacuation shelter during a disaster, such as a fairgrounds, empty warehouse, or vacant field. During parts of the training, animals from local shelters and rescue groups are on-site to give volunteers hands on experience. After a volunteer completes their initial training they return annually for retraining, at which time they are able to brush up on skills they already have in addition to learning new ones.
For more information about our Volunteer In-Field Training, click on Training Information.
►► Regional Structure
For training and mobilization purposes, Noah's Wish has divided the United States into eight regions. In addition to covering all of the United States, Noah's Wish also trains volunteers and responds to disasters in Canada, with plans to expands to other countries in the near future.
To see a list of the Noah's Wish regions, click on Regions.
►► Community Outreach
Preparing animal shelters and individuals to take care of the animals they are responsible for once a disaster has struck is challenging. Procrastination and denial are the two biggest obstacles Noah's Wish faces when we talk to people about the importance of disaster preparedness. In-spite of this, we keep talking and making available information on our web site in addition to printed materials that guide animal care-givers through the process of creating their own disaster plan. Whenever possible, Staff, coordinators, and volunteers set up educational booths in their communities as part of our Community Outreach program.
To find out how you can develop a disaster plan, click on Being Prepared.
If you are looking for a speaker to talk about animals and how they are impacted by disasters, click on Speaker Information.
For reference letters sent to Noah's Wish by organizations we have worked with during training and disasters, click on Reference Letters.
►► Resource For Emergency Response Agencies
Recognized as experts in the field of managing animals during disasters, Noah's Wish is frequently approached by people in emergency management to assist them in creating an animal component in their community disaster plan. This is a service we gladly make available, as each community that we work with prior to a disaster occurring increases the chances that more animals will survive when something does happen. Noah's Wish is also available to participate in city, county, state, and federal mock disaster drills.
During disasters Noah's Wish can provide emergency management with a professional, trained, and experienced management team. Our team can provide supervision of convergent volunteers and oversee the day-to-day operation of a temporary animal evacuation shelter. We are prepared to do this 24 hours a days, seven days a week, for up to one month. If necessary we can also coordinate the in-field rescues of abandoned, lost, and stranded animals.
So often, local animal organizations cannot adequately respond to a disaster on their own so that is why the services of Noah's Wish are needed. This is not because these groups do not want to help. In most cases they do, but more often then not it is just not possible for them to do it on their own. The biggest challenge they face is an insufficient number of staff and volunteers to run a relief operation that may last for weeks. Unfortunately, there is not an animal shelter in this country that has an over abundance of staff and during a disaster these numbers may decrease because staff may personally be impacted by the disaster and unable to do their job.
In addition, if a community has never experienced a major disaster or it has been a long time since one has occurred, then naturally shelter staff will not have the experience necessary to successfully manage the disaster. There are a lot of similarities to managing animals on an everyday basis and during a disaster, but there are also a lot of things that make the two experiences different. Expecting a team of inexperienced individuals to manage a disaster relief effort is not fair to them and it is not fair to the animals. If disasters are used as training exercises then it is the animals that pay with their lives when mistakes are made and that is not acceptable.
The other limitation that shelters face is not having enough space to house evacuated animals. At any given time almost every animal shelter in this country is full. If you start to bring in animals that have been evacuated, there ends up being no place to put them. That is why Noah's Wish is prepared to set up temporary animal evacuation shelters. It is our feeling that it is not fair to euthanize animals that were in a shelter prior to a disaster to make room for evacuees. Noah's Wish can prevent this, and the subsequent negative publicity, by housing pre-disaster animals at another location, freeing up space in the permanent shelter for evacuees.
The cost for the services of Noah's Wish are free. How we fund our operation is through donations we receive during disasters and support from our members as well as grants from corporations and foundations.
For emergency management personnel interested in learning how we can assist you with your animal needs, please give us a call or send us an e-mail.
Noah's Wish: Who We Are
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Returning the Favor
After 9/11, the bars and taverns in New Orleans raised money to send to their fellow New York bartenders and restaurant workers. Now New York is returning the favor.
The Big Apple will raise its glasses to the Big Easy — not for toasts, but to collect money for more than 80,000 hospitality workers from the hurricane-ravaged city. In addition to New York, bars around the country also have promised to mix cocktails to help the Louisiana bartenders and hotel, casino and restaurant workers facing unemployment. Four New York-based cocktail experts are spurring the "Save New Orleans Cocktail Hour" — a two-hour nationwide drinking session scheduled for Sept. 12 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
If you want to donate to the hurricane relief effort, lady redhawk has recommended this site, Network for Good
, and FloridaHeat found out that FedEx will ship your donations to the victims
at no charge to you.
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On the Sunday after
I know we normally have a quiz or something fun on Sunday mornings but this morning is a little different. I know that I speak for everyone here when I say that our hearts have been heavy these days. We've looked helplessly at a tragedy unfolding, we've yelled in anger and frustration, we cried in sympathy and we felt relief when the rescue finally started.
If you believe in God, please say a prayer for our fellow citizens who have suffered so much this week. And if you don't believe in God, say a prayer anyway.
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'Not just the bad girls'
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Stolen Fuel Tanker On The Loose
I guess we'll find it when they slam it into something.
I've just been waiting for the first fuel truck suicide attack in the US, because terrorists repeat successful tactics until they stop working, and driving fuel trucks into queues of people or crowded buildings has been very successful indeed in Iraq.
Authorities in Greenville (KY) are on alert following the theft of a fuel truck containing between 1,400 and 2,000 gallons of highly flammable Jet-A from the Muhlenberg County Airport (M21) sometime Thursday night.
No one noticed the truck was missing until airport workers arrived Friday morning.
FBI Special Agent Pat Bashore says that the truck is a white 1969 Ford F-800, with a stainless steel tank with the Shell Oil Company logo on it. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI or local law enforcement.
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In Case of Emergency
Reading Joey deVilla's "Pop quiz, Hotshot..."
, I realise that I am prepared for some emergencies and unprepared for others. After the moussaka incident, I now keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and I have canned food and water supplies for a week, and I have flashlights (but I can't find any extra batteries). My smoke detectors' batteries work (but I have no candles), my car has a spare tire (but no jumper cables), I'm insured (but I don't have my important papers in any place conveniently close to an exit in case of fire) and I know some first aid - I don't think I could "staunch serious bleeding" since I tend to faint at the sight of blood but I can do some mean CPR. In other words, I can handle a small emergency but if something major happens, I'd be in a pretty bad spot. How prepared are you?Update:
evariste is clearly better prepared than me, being the man of the blog, so listen to him brag about why he should be the one wearing the pants around here. Me, I'm going to shop for some petticoats for him.
Let's see, what kind of resources can I bring to bear in an emergency?
I have that liquid skin stuff. It's waaay better than bandaids. So anyone having an emergency can have all my bandaids because I hate them, but they better not touch my liquid skin or I'll cut them. Then they'll really need the liquid skin, and where would we be? I ask you. I mean really, I ask you. This is one of those chicken and egg things and I just confused myself.
And I have a styptic stick for when I cut myself shaving, it's real neat how it stops the bleeding.
And if anyone runs out of cheesecloth, I have plenty of t-shirts, but zorkie claims that wouldn't work. What does she
know?! I guess you might be having a hard time imagining when not having cheesecloth would be an emergency, but that's because you haven't been part of the fast-paced action-packed world of cheesemaking, where literally every single second counts.
Every. Single. Second. You cheese consumers
have no idea, do you? You make me sick.
Oh! Oh! And I also have suntan lotion on my keychain just in case! You never know when the sun might come out near a pale goth kid!
Plus, lots of vitamins, because I buy them and neglect to take them. If someone is having an emergency where they need a multivitamin right now,
I can ride gallantly to the rescue.
Well, I don't have a horse, but I could drive gallantly to the rescue, and then hoof it.
Well, I'd "hoof it" figuratively speaking, since I don't have actually have hooves either. Hoofs? Hooves? He hoofs it on his hooves? In a spelling emergency I might lose my nerve and misspell something. I'm getting jittery just thinking about it.
Oh, and I don't just bring stuff to the table. I also have skills!
For one thing, I've seen people do CPR on TV. Well, not people. Cartoons, some of them people but most animals, but they're people
animals, with personalities and talking and everything! If Daffy Duck ever needs resuscitation and I'm around, I'm the man.
I can also scream really shrill, for a guy. So if something bad is happening to one of you ladies and your voice is hoarse because of a problem, you can count on me to do a man's chivalrous duty to a woman, and scream everyone's ears off.
I can also catch most cats, especially the slower ones. I swoop my arms in on them like an owl when they don't expect it, and suddenly they're in my arms! You should see it, it's great.But if the cat scratches me I'll drop it and scream, so I only do declawed cats. I prefer toothless, too, but in an emergency, ordinary comforts go out the window, so you can really depend on me to probably do it.
So, in summary, I can be really helpful in a diverse array of emergencies, and have other qualities as well. Many of them are positive qualities!
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Islamic Sniper Squad Seeking Tancredo?
has this bizarre and disturbing report, although the source is considered unreliable.
A particular worrisome development for USA based warmongers is a CIA intelligence report that says that a superbly trained Islamic sniper squad is on its way to the USA. According to the report, the Al-Ikhwan Al-Moslemoon (Muslim Brotherhood)is preparing to send a highly trained sniper squad to the USA that will target, at first, the lower and middle level leadership of the Islamophobic organizations that cater to the Zionists. This, we presume, includes the lackeys of the Zionists on radio and television. A few weeks ago, these puppets of Israel added insult to injury when they went on a vile tirade in support of the "toilet flushers" of the Holy Koran at Guantanamo. Many of these radio talk jockeys are not Jews but they act as mouthpieces for their employers who are. One of these virulent pundits for the Zionists said over the airwaves, "US soldiers at Guantanamo should have used the pages of the Koran to wipe their asses!"
La Voz de Aztlan received an e-mail from one of our subscribers in Saudi Arabia concerning the CIA report. Ali bin Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Fulani wrote that the Islamic sniper squad should include Congressman Tom Tancredo of the Colorado 6th Congressional District as one of its first targets. Tancredo recently made a public statement proposing that the USA "nuke" Mecca. "Nuke" means blasting a city with a nuclear bomb as was done to Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Mecca is Islam's holiest cities where millions of Muslims make a yearly religious pilgrimage. Ali added, "Instead of nuking the entire 6th congressional district and killing hundreds of thousands innocent civilians, a sniper should "nuke' Tancredo's ass with one 7.62mm Kalashnikov bullet hardened with depleted uranium!"...
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Convenient Omission at CNN
Check out this CNN story
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said that President Bush had called and urged the state to order the evacuation.
Louisiana's governor and the mayor of New Orleans are so worthless, Bush
had to tell them to evacuate. Wow.
Now, compare that to the present version
-President Bush's initiative is missing, interestingly enough. I wonder what would make them cut that part out. Hmm...
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Not An Ounce of Compassion
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Powerful Interview with Mayor Ray Nagin
You have to hear this radio interview with Ray Nagin
, Mayor of New Orleans. Towards the end him and the radio host are crying.
He's a very good politician, and he knows how to deflect blame well. He rails on Bush, the Iraq war, and the governor of Louisiana but never acknowledges that he himself shares much of the blame for dealing inadequately with the crisis and the disastrous present outcome. He's also urging people who've already gotten moving to get off their asses, as if they hadn't.
All in all, a very powerful interview, but one that leaves me unsatisfied with his version of events, and with more questions than answers. Transcript after the jump.
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Pssst...Aussie...wanna hear a secret?
Thanks to a new directive by President Bush, Australia
now shares a unique honor with the UK: they have the keys to the bank. Australia now has direct access to US intelligence systems, like realtime battlespace imagery.
The new relationship occurs at many levels.
Canberra now has a permanent senior officer stationed at the US Strategic Command in Nebraska.
US Strategic Command is responsible for integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, space and global strike operations, information operations, integrated missile defence and command and control.
It is the most sensitive intelligence hub in the US military network and to have Australians stationed there at high levels of seniority is a sign of the depth of the intelligence relationship.
Australia gains access at all levels - to US raw intelligence, to US assessments of the intelligence and to real-time operational information and planning.
This has meant Australia further upgrading its own security because the US is extremely sensitive about who shares such information.
Australia's new status is a sign of the growing trust the US has in the Australian military and intelligence community. Co-operation between Canberra and Washington in these fields has grown exponentially as a result of both the war on terror and the joint operations in Iraq.
One thing they don't mention is that STRATCOM is in charge of two extremely important missions: America's nuclear arsenal, and Global Strike. The Australian mentions "global strike" in passing but doesn't explain what exactly it means.
Welcome to the clubhouse, Australia. You've richly earned it.
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Katrina: what a bitch
aridog sends along these stunning pictures of Katrina's aftermath. Click the thumbnails to see them full-sized.
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Chaos in New Orleans
I'm outraged by what's happening in New Orleans and I'm wondering how prepared are we really for any catastrophe. There are people dying out in the street, days after the hurricane. There are thousands of people laying on the ground in the open air, with no food or water, sick, old, small children. Why has help been so slow to get to them? How can this be happening?New Orleans evacuation slows as shooting, chaos erupt
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Ham Radio Operators Offer Help
As with many disasters world wide, Katrina is no exception, ham radio operators assist in helping people connect with each other. This is an example from the state of Colorado.
Families trying to contact loved ones caught in the path of Hurricane Katrina are getting some help from a network of amateur radio operators.Colorado Hams helping communications in Katrina's aftermath
They've teamed up with the Salvation Army to form the Salvation Army Team Emergency Network. Through the crackling and static of shortwave radio, comes a clear call for help.
A lack of power and phone service has cut off virtually all communications within New Orleans and other devastated areas. But ham radio operator Richard Ferguson says it doesn't take much to operate a shortwave radio.
"Most of the modern equipment runs on 12-volt batteries so you could take pretty much any radio today and just hook it up to any car battery and you're in business," says Richard Ferguson.
Ferguson and other volunteers have set up an elaborate network that uses shortwave radio and the Internet.
Here in Denver and other Colorado cities, including Larkspur and Colorado Springs, the volunteers have been relaying messages to emergency service workers on the Gulf Coast in hopes of connecting hurricane victims with relatives across the rest of the country.
Anyone wishing to check up on a friend or relative can e-mail a request, which is then relayed through various stations to hams on the Gulf Coast. They check with local emergency service providers and then relay information back. The friend or relative then gets a reply e-mail.
"Whatever I can do to be helpful, I'm happy to do it," says Ferguson.
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New Orleans police have been ordered to stop search-and-rescue missions in order to halt the looters
who have become increasingly hostile.
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John Allen Muhammad being force-fed
They should let the shithead starve to death.
A judge allowed corrections officials to forcibly feed convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad while he awaits trial in the county for six October 2002 killings.
Muhammad had not eaten anything since being transferred to the Montgomery County, Md., jail on Monday, corrections officials said in court documents filed Thursday. He was apparently upset with the food he was being served and the handling of his legal material.
Doctors had concluded that Muhammad, 44, was at risk of serious injury or death of he continued his hunger strike, corrections officials said. Judge James L. Ryan issued an order allowing officials at the county jail to forcibly feed and hydrate him.
Muhammad and Lee Malvo, 20, are accused of killing 10 people and wounding three in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., during an October 2002 shooting rampage.
Muhammad has already been sentenced to die following a 2003 conviction for a sniper shooting in Manassas, Va. Malvo was sentenced to life in prison for a shooting in Falls Church, Va.
Montgomery County prosecutors plan to try the two men together for the shootings in their county, as insurance in case their Virginia convictions are overturned. They will be returned to Virginia when their trial is over.
The two have also been linked to shootings in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Washington state.
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Walter Reed: Where Is Hillary?
AJ Strata asks a really, really good question
about the disgusting protests at Walter Reed:
Finally, since the democrats bred this beast of fringe madness, I now call on them to call off these protests. Where are you Senator Clinton? Why are you not supporting our troops now? Where are you Senator Reid? This is not the war in Iraq, this is supporting the troops here at home. Where are you Howard Dean? You say democrats are here to support the troops - get down to Walter Reed and start supporting them.
If the democrats cannot lift a finger to protect our injured soldiers now, when they are in need of the support from all of us, then all their statements about supporting the troops can be thrown away as political BS. And we will never, ever trust them to protect this country, and the people who protect it for us, again.
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Bolton Doing His Job
isn't happy with the sovereignty-usurping "Millennium Development" plan, and he's seeking to renegotiate huge portions of the plan to focus UN reforms more on fighting terrorism and less on making the UN a sort of global welfare agency. Tony Blair's Britain, predictably and sadly, is against this.
Britain will join an international alliance to confront George Bush and salvage as much as possible of an ambitious plan to reshape the United Nations and tackle world poverty next week .
The head-to-head in New York on Monday comes after the revelation that the US administration is proposing wholesale changes to crucial parts of the biggest overhaul of the UN since it was founded more than 50 years ago.
A draft of that plan had included a review of progress on the UN's millennium development goals - poverty eradication targets set in 2000 for completion by 2015 - and the introduction of reforms aimed at repairing the damage done to the UN's reputation by Iraq, Rwanda and the Balkans.
But it was revealed this week that Mr Bush's new ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, was seeking 750 changes to the 36-page draft plan to be presented to a special summit in New York on September 14 to 16. Mr Bolton's amendments, if successful, would leave the plan in tatters.
The Foreign Office confirmed yesterday that Britain was standing behind the original plan, putting it at odds with Mr Bush.
The concern in British and other international circles is that the American objections, if adopted, would severely undermine the UN summit, the biggest-ever gathering of world leaders.
At least 175 world leaders have accepted an invitation to attend. The UN said yesterday that Mr Bush had confirmed that he would be there.
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An Overwhelming Tragedy
The situation in New Orleans is going from bad to worse
Rescuers along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast pushed aside the dead to reach the living Tuesday in a race against time and rising waters, while New Orleans sank deeper into crisis and Louisiana's governor ordered storm refugees out of this drowning city.
Two levees broke and sent water coursing into the streets of the Big Easy a full day after New Orleans appeared to have escaped widespread destruction from Hurricane Katrina. An estimated 80 percent of the below-sea-level city was under water, up to 20 feet deep in places, with miles and miles of homes swamped.
"The situation is untenable," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said. "It's just heartbreaking."
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What's not in the news
Iraq's Unseen War: The Photos Washington Doesn't Want You To See
. Okay, let's say that "Washington" doesn't want us to see images of dead soldiers or dead civilians in this war. What's stopping the media from showing us the images? And this is not about Iraq. What stopped the media on 9/11 from showing us people jumping to their deaths, the sounds of bodies hitting the ground every few seconds? Why are the news sanitized?
But the media is also responsible for sanitizing the Iraq war, at times rendering it almost invisible. Most American publications have been reluctant to run graphic war images. Almost no photographs of the 1,868 U.S. troops who have been killed to date in Iraq have appeared in U.S. publications. In May 2005, the Los Angeles Times surveyed six major newspapers and the nation's two leading newsmagazines, and found that over a six-month period, no images of dead American troops appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Time or Newsweek. A single image of a covered body of a slain American ran in the Seattle Times. There were also comparatively few images of wounded Americans. The publications surveyed tended to run more images of dead or wounded Iraqis, but they have hardly been depicted in large numbers either.
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Good writing about New Orleans
I found this and really liked it, it's great writing.
NEW ORLEANS MAYOR C. RAY NAGIN, usually a laconic man with a neat moustache, shaved head, and sleepy eyes, has a panicky air about him on television tonight. He has just received a phone call from Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center, and the news was not good. Katrina, a monstrous hurricane swirling in the Gulf Coast, is making a beeline directly for New Orleans. Mayfield informed Mayor Nagin that in his entire career, Mayfield has never seen a storm like this. Mayfield strongly urged Nagin to make the evacuation of New Orleans mandatory; if there's any political fallout, Mayfield said he would take full responsibility. On a local newscast, as the anchormen detail the growing storm, Nagin shouts a single word: "Leave!"
A direct hit from a hurricane the size of Katrina would level New Orleans. The city exists in a basin, bordered on the north by Lake Pontchartrain -- the second-largest salt water lake in the United States -- and crossed on the south by the Mississippi River. The city is protected from flooding by a system of levees, but a direct hit from a large hurricane would breach these protective barriers, flooding the city with water poisoned by industrial chemicals from the thousands of factories that border the lake. This is a nightmare scenario referred to as "filling the bowl," with much of the city drowned under 18-to 20-feet of water, "Body-bag time," says Walter Maestri, director of emergency management for New Orleans's Jefferson Parish in an interview with American Radioworks. "We think 40,000 people could lose their lives in the metropolitan area." Indeed, there are already rumors that the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Mortuary Team (DMORT) has been activated and told to be in New Orleans by Tuesday, the day after Katrina is supposed to strike. Their function? Setting up temporary morgues, identifying bodies, and disposing of remains. No wonder Mayor Nagin looks nervous.
Almost exactly a year ago, Mayor Nagin evacuated New Orleans in preparation for Hurricane Ivan, which also inspired talk of doomsday. The daily paper ran a series of specials on the outcome if Ivan directly hit, which included such nauseating details as balls of fire ants floating on the surface of the flooded city, swarming survivors. But Ivan zigged at the last moment, leaving those who remained in the city feeling pretty smug about their devil-may-care attitude. "Leaves in the pool," one told the paper, describing the effects of the hurricane that was supposed to drown the Crescent City. But forecasts expected that Ivan would zig; evacuating the city was simply a precaution. With Katrina, there is no indication yet that the beast will turn. It is a day before it strikes land, and it is projected to rise from the sea like some Biblical plague, headed almost directly toward New Orleans with winds as high as 155 miles per hour, enough to fling an automobile like a child's toy, enough to snap trees in half, enough to tear the roof off a house and burst its windows.
In preparation, many French Quarter businesses have boarded up their windows. But this is the Vieux Carre, and life goes on, even if death approaches. Bourbon Street is filled with the usual array of drunken tourists -- less, perhaps, than usual, but these are sweltering summer days and tourism is usually low. Nonetheless, they crowd into Pat O'Briens, a Bourbon Street institution that credits itself as being the busiest bar in America. Pat O's is also home to a drink that bears the name of the disaster that may destroy the city: a legendary and fruity rum drink called the Hurricane.
Read the rest: Daily Lush Magazine: The Hurricane.
It reminds me of Thousand Sons's writing.
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Chavez: A Right Mixer
I believe they call this chutzpah.
The Venezuelan government said Sunday that it will provide assistance for at least 7 million poor people in the United States, the world's first economic power, despite struggling against poverty in its own territory.
In a Sunday radio and television program, President Hugo Chavez said that there are many poor people in the United States, and every year a large number of them die of cold during the winter.
That is why "we're going to offer fuel for heating that is 40 percent cheaper" than market prices, said Chavez, adding that the plan would benefit 7 million to 8 million poor people in the United States.
He said the price reduction would be attained through the elimination of intermediaries, with the sale being made directly through Citgo, a US branch of Venezuela's state-run petroleum company PDVSA.
Chavez said the fuel would be distributed to the poor through organizations headed by veteran defender of civil rights in the United States, Jesse Jackson, actor Danny Glover and other personalities.
Jackson, who is currently visiting Venezuela, joined Chavez on television to announce his involvement with the plan.
In addition to fuel subsidies, the Venezuelan assistance plan will also include more than 150,000 eye surgeries a year for US people and 242,000 for people from other Latin American and Caribbean countries.
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A Travesty of Justice
Two miles from the border with Mexico, U.S. citizen Casey Nethercott's dream ranch is now the property of Edwin Alfredo Mancia Gonzales and Fatima del Socorro Leiva Medina, both illegal immigrants from El Salvador.
And Nethercott didn't sell it to them. They took it by force, after trespassing on it to sneak into the U.S.
Read it all, it's an outrage: Gaza in Arizona
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Watching A Disaster Unfold
Computer simulations indicate that by Tuesday, parts of New Orleans may be submerged under 30 feet of water and a vast majority of the city's houses will be destroyed by the wind. I don't know what to say except a prayer that everyone makes it through this.Hurricane Could Leave 1 Million Homeless
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Support “teeth for FOIA" bill
Under the Freedom of Information Act,
you should be able to get access to a whole lot of government documents. Trouble is, usually the people replying to your request are the ones who might not want you to see it. Now some luminaries of the right are pushing a bill in Congress to put some teeth into FOIA by adding penalties to foot-dragging bureaucrats and agencies. As Mark Tapscott points out, this is a really good thing for the new media (you're reading it), which thrives on the free flow of information that the mainstream media ignores, buries or lies about.
Bill and Hillary Clinton and other Big Government advocates probably weren’t smiling earlier this week when two milestones in the history of the Right and FOIA reform happened on successive days.
On Tuesday, the world learned that eight major Conservative Movement leaders have signed a letter of encouragement to Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican seeking passage of “The Open Government Act of 2005."
Among much else, Cornyn’s bill – which was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Lamar Smith, another Texas GOPer, - would for the first time in its history put real teeth in the FOIA by establishing concrete penalties for individual bureaucrats and agencies that violate the law.
Why is that significant? Because the FOIA guarantees every American the right to see all government documents, subject only to some reasonable exceptions for things like national security, law enforcement, privacy and commercial secrets. But there are presently no penalties for not providing documents that should be public.
No wonder a 2003 survey by the National Security Archive of 35 federal agencies that received 97 percent of the 3 million FOIAs sent to Uncle Sam annually found “a system in extreme disarray," with chronic delays, lost or ignored requests, improper denials and epic bouts of bureaucratic game-playing to avoid public accountability.
It shouldn’t take years for the American people to get all the facts about what is being done in their name by their government, but it often does because the people who control the official documents also control access to those documents.
The current FOIA was first passed in 1966 because, as Donald Rumsfeld, then a young Republican congressman, said, the bureaucrats who were "most familiar with the inadequacies of the present law ... learned how to take advantage of its vague phrases" to bar disclosure of documents they wanted to keep behind closed doors.
Such opponents of the FOIA included executive branch bureaucrats with "a vested interest in the machinery of their agencies and bureaus" who resent "any attempt to oversee their activities either by the public, the Congress or appointed department heads," Rumsfeld said. Even so, it took 11 years of debate and hard work by FOIA proponents before Congress passed and President Johnson signed the measure into law.
With the Blogosphere doubling every five or six months, thousands of smart, energetic folks on the Right are joining the new media that is replacing institutional dinosaurs like CBS and The Washington Post. The new media mavens shouldn’t have to wait years for a reformed FOIA with real teeth.
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The Tijuana Bolton
Ruffling feathers south of the borderMexicans sure are quick to take offense over mild rebukes.
It's a pity Fox turned out to be such a dud, because he seemed like a promising guy-Americanized, ex-Coca Cola exec, etc. Of course, being a soft drink executive is no guarantee of sanity.
Still, he showed early promise, then turned out to be not much better than the PRI stooges he was supposed to outshine. I'm glad Bush's man in Mexico is speaking truth to them, and I'm glad they're pissed off because it shows he's making his point.
MEXICO CITY, Aug. 19 - A year ago, Ambassador Antonio O. Garza Jr. was best known here as an affable patron of the arts and a good guest on the upper-crust cocktail party circuit. He was an old friend and political ally of President Bush, the favorite son of a Texas border town, a man with a quick smile who was hard to dislike.
But in the last six months Mr. Garza has become the voice of a tougher United States policy toward Mexico, sharply criticizing its government for failing to control drug violence on the border and temporarily shutting the consulate in Nuevo Laredo to make his point.
His new, muscular role was evident on Wednesday when the Mexican Foreign Ministry leveled a broadside at him for a speech in which he said violence between drug cartels on the border threatened to undermine investment, tourism and the quality of life in both countries.
"Some have said that I ordered the shutdown to punish the Mexican government for its failure to control violence in the region," Mr. Garza said Tuesday as he accepted the University of Denver's Distinguished Diplomat Award. "And in a sense that's true, and I've been clear, my primary responsibility as ambassador is the safety of United States citizens, and I won't hesitate to take action when they are at risk."
Gerónimo Gutiérrez, Mexico's assistant foreign affairs secretary for North America, shot back, saying Mr. Garza's statements were worrisome and unwelcome. "His selection of words was frankly unfortunate and do not fit with the role of an ambassador," Mr. Gutiérrez said.
Later, a spokesman for President Vicente Fox said the administration stood behind the statement. Sean McCormick, the State Department spokesman, said Mr. Garza regretted his choice of words and "would probably tell you that he would use some different phrasing."
The dispute was the latest in a series of diplomatic uproars suggesting that the governments of Mr. Bush and Mr. Fox, after what seemed a promising start, do not get along very well.
Mr. Fox was the first foreign leader Mr. Bush called on after being elected president. Since then, the countries have divided sharply over the Iraq war, and plans for immigration reform have stalled. More recently, officials have had harsh words for one another about a wall being built to keep migrants out of San Diego and about off-the-cuff remarks by Mr. Fox about the unwillingness of blacks to take menial jobs.
Then there have been clashes about a Mexican postage stamp depicting a stereotypical black cartoon character, vigilante groups patrolling the United States side of the border and the decisions of New Mexico and Arizona in recent weeks to declare their borders disaster areas.
For his part, Mr. Garza has stayed out of many of these debates, but he has been unrelenting in his criticism of the Fox government for failing to control drug violence, especially in Nuevo Laredo. He has issued two warnings to American tourists to avoid the region.
Mr. Garza declined a request to be interviewed. A State Department official familiar with Mr. Garza's thinking said the ambassador had not changed his style but had responded to the wave of crime on the border, where he was born and reared, in Brownsville, Tex.
"He's genuinely concerned about the growth of narco-traffickers and kingpins, not just along the border, but other places in Mexico, and the perception that not enough is being done about it," said the official, who insisted on anonymity for diplomatic reasons.
The official added: "Ambassador Garza has often said the Mexicans shouldn't use this unfortunate choice of words as an opportunity to take their eye off the ball. They don't have a public relations problem, they have a public security challenge."
Mr. Garza's more outspoken demeanor has coincided with his high-profile marriage to María Asunción Aramburuzabala, the heiress to the Corona beer empire and part-owner of one of Mexico's television networks. Their whirlwind romance last year and their marriage four months ago provided grist for society gossip columnists for months.
The union was seen here as a melding American political might and Mexican money, a cross-border alliance not to be trifled with. But in an interview last spring, Mr. Garza made it plain that he did not intend to let his marriage influence his job.
For Mexican officials it is Mr. Garza's relationship with Mr. Bush that may be more important. Since he is a political appointee whose friendship with the president goes back to Texas political races in the 1980's, his words are quite nearly given the weight of Mr. Bush's own.
Jorge Castañeda, a former foreign minister who is running for president, said Mr. Garza's closeness to Mr. Bush was one reason his words caused such a stir.
"His rhetoric, I think, has been rather unfortunate," Mr. Castañeda said, "and perhaps it would be useful for the State Department and Ambassador Garza to concentrate on the substance rather than grandstanding in public. In general there is nothing easier in Mexico than U.S. ambassador bashing. It's a national past time, and he's inviting it, really, a great deal."
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Break a leg, Binnie!
Islamist websites are buzzing that Binnie's been injured in the leg.
Here's hoping it was a little higher-up than that. As they frequently do, they're making up a ferocious battle that never happened to explain Bin Laden's injury.
Kabul, 24 August (AKI) - Osama bin Laden has been wounded in Afghanistan, according to two different reports carried by various Islamic websites. Referring to the al-Qaeda leader as Abu Abdullah, the second message, which appeared on Wednesday, said: "Mullah Ahmadi, military leader of the Badr brigades, which form part of the al-Qaeda organisation in Afghanistan, has confirmed that Sheikh Abu Abdullah has been injured in his left leg."
It follows a previous message on several Islamic websites saying the fugitive terrorist leader was injured while taking part in an attack on a Spanish military base in Afghanistan.
The second message relaying the news is titled "Confirmation of the injury of Sheikh Abu Abdullah in the Al-Khulud expedition" and adds other details, specifying that the injury was to the left leg and claiming it was sustained "when the Sheikh went out onto the battlefield to lead the expedition during which the Spanish base was attacked and which was named the Al-Khulud expedition."
"The source has promised to broadcast soon a video of the expedition, which lasted four hours," the message continues, before concluding: "Therefore we ask Allah to heal the Sheikh and make him well again. Don't be miserly in praying for him."
Last week a Spanish helicopter crashed in Afghanistan, killing all 17 military personnel on board. Another helicopter taking part in the same training exercise made an emergency landing following the crash, injuring several other Spanish soldiers. Spain has dispatched additional troops to replace those killed and injured, but there has been no report of a subsequent attack on a Spanish base in Afghanistan.
Does anyone really believe bin Laden was personally leading an attack on a Spanish base in broad daylight? He probably got accidentally shot by some of his own incompetent goons.
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The Return Of Big Stinky Mammals
Boffins want to reverse the Native American genocide.
Thirteen thousand years ago, the Native Americans mercilessly wiped out the entire North American population of gigantic smelly beasts, because they were in tune with Mother Nature. These brutal Muslims
-or, according to some sources, brutal Chinese
-brought ecological catastrophe while communing with the Earth Goddess. Must these primitive non-Whites destroy everything
Their depradations cut a painful wound into fragile Gaia's milky, supple, pointy breasts with their chipped-flint spearheads. Praise the Lord for creating White people, to restore His biodiversity and reverse the environmental catastrophe wrought by these savage peoples on His green earth. Hello, Native Americans, God told you in the Bible
(King James Version) in plain English
to be good stewards over the fish and the creeping things and the wild beasts! Can't you people read English?
Although personally I wish he'd gave dominion over the creeping things to someone else, like cats.
LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists are proposing reintroducing large mammals such as elephants, lions, cheetahs and wild horses to North America to replace populations lost 13,000 years ago.
Waitaminnit. Just one minute. Lions
? Maybe the Indians were on to something when they wiped those out. Let's not be too hasty here...elephants are okay, you can feed them peanuts, but I can barely deal with an angry housecat, let alone a cheetah. What are you crazy white folks thinking?! Kill Whitey!
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Humvee Not Long For This World
It looks like the military wants to ditch the Hummer, because it's a deathtrap
in urban combat. They previously didn't plan to replace it till the mid-2010s. Now they're gonna look at new designs in the fall, and start trying them out next June. That should be just in time for an Iranian invasion.
The Pentagon is accelerating its search to replace the Humvee after two years of roadside bomb blasts and suicide attacks in Iraq that have killed hundreds of soldiers in a vehicle not designed for urban combat.
Before the war in Iraq, a successor to the Army's dominant vehicle wasn't due until the middle of the next decade. Now the Army plans to review designs this fall, and working prototypes will be due in June.
There are about 24,000 Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan. By 2008, the military could start using a new vehicle that would have:
•More protection for troops. Congressional pressure forced the military to add armor to all older Humvees and buy more models with factory-installed armor. But even Humvees with the latest armor are still vulnerable to the powerful bombs insurgents use.
•A beefier suspension that can handle the weight of the armor. The extra armor has led to increased maintenance problems for the Humvee, which wasn't designed to handle so much weight. The extra weight also makes the vehicle more prone to rolling over and getting bogged down in sand. That has cost the Humvee much of its legendary off-road capability.
•Lower fuel consumption, to reduce the need for supply convoys that have been targets of insurgents.
•Improved onboard power generation to handle the expanding array of electronics that troops take into battle today compared with the simple radios of 30 years ago. Hybrid-electric drivetrains, which are gaining popularity in passenger vehicles and are already being tested in current Humvee prototypes, are being considered to save fuel and generate power.
"We wish we had that vehicle out there today," says Lt. Col. Stuart Rogers, transportation division chief of the Army Combined Arms Support Command.
"Survivability is our primary concern," says Jeff Bradel, project officer at the Office of Naval Research, which is overseeing prototype development for the Marines. Unlike the Humvee, originally designed for tasks behind the lines, the next vehicle will be a fighter from the start, he says.
The original Humvee design worked well in the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere, says Thomas Donnelly, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a research organization. The Iraq war has forced the vehicle into doing what "it was never contemplated that it would do," including battling bomb-wielding insurgents in today's urban combat.
The armoring of the Humvee to counter the bombs has had limited success. Some shortcomings cannot be fixed without a thorough redesign. For example, even with armor, a Humvee's flat bottom won't deflect bomb blasts as well as new designs with boat-bottom-shaped underbodies.
Roadside bombs are among the leading killers of troops in Iraq. Congressional reports and an analysis by CNN suggest that more than 350 troops killed in Iraq since the war started in March 2003 were inside Humvees. In all, 1,451 troops had been killed in combat in the war in Iraq, as of Tuesday morning.
"If this is the threat of the future, the long-term utility of the Humvee has to be questioned," Gen. William Nyland, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told a House panel in June.
NASCAR isn't just the most patriotic sport; innovations from NASCAR vehicles may make it into
the future replacement for Hummers.
The Office of Naval Research is sponsoring for the Marines a concept vehicle called the Ultra Armored Patrol at Georgia Tech. The Ultra, to be unveiled next month, includes a NASCAR-inspired "blast bucket" inner shell to protect troops. Jeff Bradel, the ONR's vehicle project officer, says the Humvee was designed as a utility vehicle first, but the next generation must be armored from the start.
The concept looks pretty sweet! Check it out:
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Yes, we're ready to deal with Iran"Global Strike"
is a concept that says the military will maintain a continual state of readiness to strike at Iran or North Korea in case of emergency. We can execute a strike on either nation in 12 hours or less, including a nuclear option.
There's a Unified Military Command that has the specific responsibility for executing Global Strike. You already have heard of at least one Unified Military Command-CENTCOM, which is running the Iraq and Afghanistan efforts, is naturally the highest-profile command at the moment because it's fighting the war on terror. There are 8 more.
Some are defined geographically, and some functionally. The geographic commands are EUCOM (Europe), CENTCOM (M.E., Horn of Africa, Central Asia), PACOM (the oldest and biggest command, responsible for 50% of the earth including 60% of its population), NORTHCOM (North America, and although the Canadians disagree, they don't exactly have much say over the matter), and SOUTHCOM (Central and South America + the Caribbean).
A Unified Combatant Command (the system was established in 1947) generally has a wide-ranging ongoing mission, and draws on forces from two or more services. The other kind of command is a functional command-not where
it does it, but what
The functional commands are JFCOM (JF=joint forces; JFCOM is the military's innovative skunkworks, something like a Xerox PARC for warfighting), SOCOM (the special operations command takes over when special forces from more than one service need to work together; when they're working solo they remain under the special operations command of their branch. SOCOM's chief is the commander in chief of the war on terrorism, and has the authority to operate independently inside the AORs of regional commands-their areas of responsibility), TRANSCOM (they move all the stuff to where it needs to go), and finally, STRATCOM!
The US Strategic Command, which until 2005 had one sole responsibility-that of controlling America's nuclear arsenal. It has gained two new responsibilities in 2005: cyberwar (defending DOD's networks, and attacking those of others), and Global Strike (CONPLAN 8022-02).
Global strike has become one of the core missions for the Omaha-based Strategic Command, or Stratcom. Once, Stratcom oversaw only the nation's nuclear forces; now it has responsibility for overseeing a global strike plan with both conventional and nuclear options. President Bush spelled out the definition of "full-spectrum" global strike in a January 2003 classified directive, describing it as "a capability to deliver rapid, extended range, precision kinetic (nuclear and conventional) and non-kinetic (elements of space and information operations) effects in support of theater and national objectives."
This blurring of the nuclear/conventional line, wittingly or unwittingly, could heighten the risk that the nuclear option will be used. Exhibit A may be the Stratcom contingency plan for dealing with "imminent" threats from countries such as North Korea or Iran, formally known as CONPLAN 8022-02.
CONPLAN 8022 is different from other war plans in that it posits a small-scale operation and no "boots on the ground." The typical war plan encompasses an amalgam of forces -- air, ground, sea -- and takes into account the logistics and political dimensions needed to sustain those forces in protracted operations. All these elements generally require significant lead time to be effective. (Existing Pentagon war plans, developed for specific regions or "theaters," are essentially defensive responses to invasions or attacks. The global strike plan is offensive, triggered by the perception of an imminent threat and carried out by presidential order.)
CONPLAN 8022 anticipates two different scenarios. The first is a response to a specific and imminent nuclear threat, say in North Korea. A quick-reaction, highly choreographed strike would combine pinpoint bombing with electronic warfare and cyberattacks to disable a North Korean response, with commandos operating deep in enemy territory, perhaps even to take possession of the nuclear device.
The second scenario involves a more generic attack on an adversary's WMD infrastructure. Assume, for argument's sake, that Iran announces it is mounting a crash program to build a nuclear weapon. A multidimensional bombing (kinetic) and cyberwarfare (non-kinetic) attack might seek to destroy Iran's program, and special forces would be deployed to disable or isolate underground facilities.
By employing all of the tricks in the U.S. arsenal to immobilize an enemy country -- turning off the electricity, jamming and spoofing radars and communications, penetrating computer networks and garbling electronic commands -- global strike magnifies the impact of bombing by eliminating the need to physically destroy targets that have been disabled by other means.
The inclusion, therefore, of a nuclear weapons option in CONPLAN 8022 -- a specially configured earth-penetrating bomb to destroy deeply buried facilities, if any exist -- is particularly disconcerting. The global strike plan holds the nuclear option in reserve if intelligence suggests an "imminent" launch of an enemy nuclear strike on the United States or if there is a need to destroy hard-to-reach targets.
It is difficult to imagine a U.S. president ordering a nuclear attack on Iran or North Korea under any circumstance. Yet as global strike contingency planning has moved forward, so has the nuclear option.
Global strike finds its origins in pre-Bush administration Air Force thinking about a way to harness American precision and stealth to "kick down the door" of defended territory, making it easier for (perhaps even avoiding the need for) follow-on ground operations.
The events of 9/11 shifted the focus of planning. There was no war plan for Afghanistan on the shelf, not even a generic one. In Afghanistan, the synergy of conventional bombing and special operations surprised everyone. But most important, weapons of mass destruction became the American government focus. It is not surprising, then, that barely three months after that earth-shattering event, the Pentagon's quadrennial Nuclear Posture Review assigned the military and Stratcom the task of providing greater flexibility in nuclear attack options against Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria and China.
The Air Force's global strike concept was taken over by Stratcom and made into something new. This was partly in response to the realization that the military had no plans for certain situations. The possibility that some nations would acquire the ability to attack the United States directly with a WMD, for example, had clearly fallen between the command structure's cracks. For example, the Pacific Command in Hawaii had loads of war plans on its shelf to respond to a North Korean attack on South Korea, including some with nuclear options. But if North Korea attacked the United States directly -- or, more to the point, if the U.S. intelligence network detected evidence of preparations for such an attack, Pacific Command didn't have a war plan in place.
In May 2002, Rumsfeld issued an updated Defense Planning Guidance that directed the military to develop an ability to undertake "unwarned strikes . . . [to] swiftly defeat from a position of forward deterrence." The post-9/11 National Security Strategy, published in September 2002, codified preemption, stating that the United States must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies."
"We cannot let our enemies strike first," President Bush declared in the National Security Strategy document.
Stratcom established an interim global strike division to turn the new preemption policy into an operational reality. In December 2002, Adm. James O. Ellis Jr., then Stratcom's head, told an Omaha business group that his command had been charged with developing the capability to strike anywhere in the world within minutes of detecting a target.
Ellis posed the following question to his audience: "If you can find that time-critical, key terrorist target or that weapons-of-mass-destruction stockpile, and you have minutes rather than hours or days to deal with it, how do you reach out and negate that threat to our nation half a world away?"
CONPLAN 8022-02 was completed in November 2003, putting in place for the first time a preemptive and offensive strike capability against Iran and North Korea. In January 2004, Ellis certified Stratcom's readiness for global strike to the defense secretary and the president.
At Ellis's retirement ceremony in July, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Omaha audience that "the president charged you to 'be ready to strike at any moment's notice in any dark corner of the world' [and] that's exactly what you've done."
As U.S. military forces have gotten bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, the attractiveness of global strike planning has increased in the minds of many in the military. Stratcom planners, recognizing that U.S. ground forces are already overcommitted, say that global strike must be able to be implemented "without resort to large numbers of general purpose forces."
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Concealed weapons permits to battered spouses
This is the best idea I've ever heard. The police really suck at protecting women from their abusers, and a restraining order can easily enrage an abuser enough to do something rash. Let's hope the other States take their cue from North Carolina's wise lawmakers.N.C. Law Encourages Guns for Victims
(AP) - RALEIGH, N.C.-North Carolina lawmakers have approved a measure that would require courts to give battered spouses something extra when they seek a restraining order - information on how to apply for a concealed weapon.
However, victim's advocates who support efforts to curb domestic violence said the measure could end up causing more problems by bringing guns into already volatile relationships.
"In my experience, if you've got a fire out there, I don't think you put it out by throwing gas on it," said Bart Rick, a Seattle-area sheriff who chairs the National Sheriffs' Association domestic violence committee. "When I read this ... I went 'Whoa.'"
The president of the gun-rights group that pushed for the measure said it's more about helping victims of domestic violence help themselves.
"We're not interested in them shooting their abusers," said Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina. "We're interested in delivering a message: When police can't protect these people, they are capable of protecting themselves."
The measure becomes law Oct. 1 unless Gov. Mike Easley decides to veto it. His office declined Wednesday to comment on his plans.
The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the legislature, would also add protective orders to the evidence a sheriff can consider when determining whether to issue an emergency permit to carry a concealed weapon. Normally, an applicant must wait 90 days for such a permit.
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Soldier's Funeral (Texas Style)
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US embassy in Libya?
says future Libyan dictator Saif al-Islam Qaddhafi.
Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi's son says the US will open an embassy in Tripoli within days, and that Libya will be removed from the US list of states sponsoring terrorism by the year's end.
Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, who runs the Qadhafi International Association for Charitable Organisations and who has assumed an increasingly prominent international role, said on Monday that Libya would also soon open its embassy in the American capital.
"The Libyan and American flags will be raised in Tripoli and Washington within the coming days," he said.
There was no immediate confirmation from the US State Department.
Al-Qadhafi said American and Libyan officials were negotiating the embassy reopening in the Libyan capital and removal of the Libyan government from the list of countries sponsoring terrorist acts.
He was speaking a day after visiting Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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Jeff Harrell: Kill Chavez
Over at The Shape of Days, which you should be reading daily, Jeff Harrell agrees with Pat Robertson:
kill the monster.
This is the part where everybody expects me to be a good little pundit and denounce the irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric of a member of the lunatic fringe. But you know what? Screw that. Hugo Chavez is a fucking monster. Let me count the ways.
In 1992 Chavez led a military coup to take over the government of Venezuela, killing eighteen people in the process. For this he spent a paltry two years in prison before being pardoned by a sympathetic political ally. Chavez “won" an “election" in 1998 running on a platform so radical and repellant that even Stalin would have balked at it. Of course, no election that installs a government that abolishes fundamental civil rights and tramples over the sovereignty of the body politic could ever be considered legitimate or valid by reasonable people, but as long as the ballot boxes have padlocks on them, the much-lauded “international observers" are satisfied. Leave out the fact that the populace is entirely uneducated and functionally illiterate and that the “winning" candidate got to the top of the pile by promising utopian dreams that even a four-year-old should know better than to believe. But hey, there were ballots involved, so let’s all call it an election and pretend that Venezuela is a democracy.
After less than a year in office, Chavez effectively dissolved both the judicial and legislative branches of government. A new, absurd constitution was drawn up and forced through a popular referendum (see above re: illiterate populace and pretend democracy), and after packing a new rubber-stamp legislative body with supporters, Chavez managed to get a law passed giving him the power to rule as an autocrat. He has called capitalism “the road to hell," and considered himself a close personal friend of Saddam Hussein. His closest political ally is Fidel Castro. Castro, for God’s sake.
As if that weren’t enough, he’s begun to make some very scary noises about what he calls “Latin American integration," which appears to be a politically correct term for what we used to call “panamericanism." From all appearances, Chavez dreams of reunifying Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Panama to reestablish what used to be called Greater Colombia, and uniting it with a remade Federal Republic of Central America to create a single, unified “socialist paradise" that stretches all the way north to Chiapas.
Do I have to tell you that the vision of a theaterwide war of totalitarian unification right on top of one of the biggest deposits of oil in the Western hemisphere is a very fucking scary prospect?
Basically the picture you should be getting here is that Hugo Chavez is evil, a power-mad dictator with delusions of grandeur. He’s fucking Palpatine without the robe, guys. Seriously.
I think Pat Robertson absolutely has a point. I think a lot of Latin America’s impending problems could be solved once and for all by a busboy with a silencer. And I’ve about had it with people who are too squeamish to admit it.
The United States isn’t just-another-country. We’re the world’s only superpower. We have a responsibility to lead the world not because we choose to, or because we deserve to, but because we can, and God knows the world needs leading. The Venezuelan people got themselves manipulated into installing an expansionist autocrat as their absolute dictator. Like the guy who sees that his neighbor’s house is on fire, we have a responsibility to run over there with a bucket and help him put it out.
And if the best way to put out the fire is to kill a power-mad dictator, then so be it.
So yeah, as much as I disagree with Pat Robertson on some things, I think he’s doing a valuable service today by calling national attention to a huge geopolitical time bomb ticking away on our own back steps.
I couldn't have said it any better myself. In fact, I didn't. Jeff nailed it.
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I'm with Pat.
WHO TV - Des Moines: Reverend Pat Robertson says U-S should kill Venezuelan president
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network says the United States should assassinate Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez.
On Monday's broadcast of "The 700 Club," the Reverend Pat Robertson said, "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."Chavez, who often expresses strident opposition to U-S policies and influence, has spent the last several days in Cuba meeting with the island's communist leader Fidel Castro.Calling the president of oil-rich Venezuela a threat to U-S security, the Reverend Robertson said assassinating Chavez would be "a whole lot cheaper than starting a war." He added, "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and get it over with."
There's some leaders you hate but can deal with. There's some you hate and would rather kill than deal with, but they can nuke you. Then there's Chavez, baby Saddam. Still killable. Not so dangerous that we have to go to war to destroy his entire regime. Let's just nip him in the bud before he goes too far. Marg Bar Chavez.
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Slavery As We've Heard It
Slavery As We've Heard It
is the name of a school project undertaken in 1932 at Jonesboro Elementary in North Carolina. Schoolchildren were asked to take down oral histories of their parents, grandparents or relatives who were slaves. It's really something.
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Rummy snarls back at Chavez
Rummy doesn't want Chavez to think he's being ignored. He sounds kind of funny, though. "Anti-social?" "Destabilizing?"
I'll count my lucky stars he didn't call him "notably unhelpful".
Donald Rumsfeld, the American defence secretary, accused Venezuela's radical president Hugo Chavez yesterday of "anti-social, destabilising behaviour" that threatened regional security.
Mr Rumsfeld said that the oil-rich Venezuelan strongman and his Cuban ally Fidel Castro, had interfered in the affairs of Bolivia, lending support to a presidential candidate who has fought US efforts to eradicate cocaine production.
Speaking in the Peruvian capital Lima at the end of a regional tour, Mr Rumsfeld said: "There certainly is evidence that both Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in the situation in Bolivia in unhelpful ways."
Despatching the bluntly-spoken Mr Rumsfeld to the region appeared to be a message to both regimes that the Bush administration was turning its attention to them after being absorbed by the "war on terror".
The two men stand accused of trying to blend South America's many grievances into an anti-American coalition. The Venezuelan-Cuban alliance has taken a number of steps viewed as threatening by Washington, including establishing an anti-American satellite television station called Telesur.
The Venezuelans have also offered cheap oil to some Latin American countries and Caribbean states, allegedly hoping to buy votes in groupings like the Organisation of American States.
Venezuela also expelled US drug enforcement agents this month, saying they were spies.
Most significantly, Venezuela has threatened to cut off oil supplies to the United States. Taken together with the decision to throw out American military advisers four months ago, relations between Caracas and Washington are at a low ebb.
US warns Castro and oil-rich ally
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[ed. - Lisa left this as a comment on Why Steven Vincent Died]
For the record, Steven and I had been together for 23 years, married for 13 of them. I was well aware of the rumors of he and Nour, and find it most interesting that it is only in the British press that the notion of an "honor killing" has taken hold. Sure, that takes the heat off of them and deflects attention away from their lack of interest in their stewardship of Basra. Not our doing, mate, it was nothing but hormones. Now bring us some tea.
Perhaps they can explain to me how, if this was nothing more than an honor killing, 5 men took the time and trouble to find a truck marked 'Police', and police uniforms to wear while performing their mission. Maybe they can tell me how 5 men were able, in broad daylight, to swoop down on 2 people, struggle with them for several minutes (Steven fought so hard that when they threw him in the truck his shoes remained on the sidewalk), take them away, hold them for 5 hours, beat and finally kill them, all with total impunity. If these were family members outraged at Steven's affiliation with Nour, they would have put on ski masks, found them in a more private place, shot them and taken off. But given the amount of time that elapsed between their abduction and shooting, I say that had to be the work of people in some kind of position of power.
And yes, Steven was set to convert to Islam and marry Nour, but he undertook this course of action only after calling me to say that Nour's life would be worthless after he left, and the only way he could see to save her was to marry her (unmarried women cannot leave Iraq without a family member along), get her to England where she had a standing job offer, get her settled there, divorce her and come back to NY. I spoke to both him and her about it at length, and contrary to what the gossipmongers say, it was to be purely a matter of getting Nour out of Iraq for her safety.
However, regardless of what is finally discovered about why he was killed, I will go on record as stating that my husband was truly the most decent, courageous, moral, honest and brave man I have ever met. He will always be my hero.
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Losing his way
I think there's life in the ol' Bush administration yet, but a lot of Bush allies have become naysayers.
THEY have been admirers of the president since the attacks of September 11, 2001, but now some of George W Bush’s staunchest supporters are accusing him of “losing his way" in the war on terror.
Conservatives in America are contrasting Tony Blair’s clarity of purpose since the July bombings in London and the vacillations of the Bush administration about the future of Iraq and the nature of the terrorist threat.
Under siege last week at his holiday ranch in Crawford, Texas, from the peace activist Cindy Sheehan, one of the military’s “gold star" mothers whose son died in Iraq, and under pressure from opinion polls showing dwindling American support for the war, Bush is on the defensive.
Blair by contrast is getting credit for naming the enemy as Muslim extremists and for criticising the Wahhabi ideology spreading from Saudi Arabia, which remains a leading American ally. Although faulted for allowing “Londonistan" to grow into a haven for terrorism in the first place, the prime minister is regarded as going on the offensive while the Bush government dithers.
“Since the London bombings, Tony Blair has emerged as the public face of the global war on terror," said Nile Gardiner, a former adviser to Baroness Thatcher and who is now based with the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “He is setting the agenda with tough new anti-terrorist measures."
Skipping a bunch of stuff here...
Indeed, many neoconservatives who back Bush are not convinced about the rest of his administration. In the current issue of The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative magazine, Bill Kristol, the editor, states pointedly: “The president seems determined to complete the job. Is his defence secretary?" One right-wing expert on the Middle East accused Rumsfeld of behaving like “the crazy aunt you couldn’t shut up". “The problem is not the president or at least not his views," the expert said. “It’s his mismanagement of the cabinet."
For Andrew McCarthy, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank, Bush has simply “lost his way". “After Bush won the election on national security grounds, he went six months without talking about Iraq while his opponents were kicking us for what we were doing out there," he said.
Bush was also at fault for offering conflicting signals about the war on terror, in particular by negotiating with insurgents in Iraq and soft-pedalling on relations with Syria, McCarthy said. “The best thing about the Bush doctrine was its moral clarity. You can’t say, ‘You’re either with the terrorists or with us’ and then go out and say, ‘Let’s have a powwow with the insurgents’."
“I have great admiration for what Bush has done, but there has been a dangerous lapse in focus," McCarthy said. “Americans will support the president from now until the end of time if they think national security is at risk. “We need to convey that our goal is to degrade the power of Islamic extremists to commit terrorist attacks."
Those are definitely some real blunders made by Bush and his team, but I think they're still capable of upending everything and changing everyone's mind. There's plenty of time left in the second term, and I don't think Bush wants to go out quietly.
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This is incredibly stupid. The no-fly lists contain nothing but names, and airline security personnel are given no flexibility to decide "hey, this isn't a terrorist, it's a baby, you can board, ma'am". Instead they have to delay the flight while they laboriously fax documents back and forth to someplace in DC. We're really not gaining any security here. Human on-the-spot judgement needs to have a place in the process.
Infants have been stopped from boarding planes at US airports because their names are the same as or similar to those of possible terrorists on the Government's "no-fly list".
It sounds like a joke, but it's not funny to parents who miss flights while waiting to have babies' passports and other documents faxed.
Ingrid Sanden's year-old daughter was stopped in Phoenix before boarding a flight home to Washington at Thanksgiving. "I completely understand people wanting to be safe when they fly," Mrs Sanden said. "But focusing the target a little bit is probably a better use of resources."
The Government's lists of people who are either barred from flying or require extra scrutiny before being allowed to board planes ballooned since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Critics including the American Civil Liberties Union say the Government doesn't provide enough information about the people on the lists, so innocent passengers can be caught up in the security sweep if they happen to have the same name as someone on the lists.
That can happen even if the person happens to be an infant such as Mrs Sanden's daughter. "It was bizarre," Mrs Sanden said. "I was hugely pregnant, and I was like, 'We look really threatening'."
Sarah Zapolsky and her husband had a similar experience last month at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. An airline ticket agent told them their 11-month-old son was on the Government list.
They were able to board their flight after ticket agents took half an hour to fax her son's passport and fill out paperwork.
"I understand that security is important," Ms Zapolsky said. "But if … we have to give up our passport to prove that our 11-month-old is not a terrorist, it's a waste of their time."
No-fly lists beyond a joke for angry parents
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El Rushbo puts The Hurt on
This Rush Limbaugh diatribe has to be seen to be believed: Whose Kids Are In Iraq? The Ones Who Make The Country Work
RUSH: John in San Diego, you're next. Welcome to the program. Nice to have you with us.
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call.
CALLER: I believe that Cindy Sheehan is bringing up one important point, though.
RUSH: What's that?
CALLER: If this is a valiant and noble cause, why don't we have [sic] any senators sons or House of Representatives sons volunteering to go over there? Why isn't the president's daughters doing something for the war effort, if this is such a valiant effort? And that's the primary purpose that she has made this protest for, is the fact that the average person is being used as cannon fodder basically for this effort, and it's not a noble cause.
RUSH: John, you disappoint me, but you don't surprise me. No war is noble as far as you all are concerned. The US is guilty. This argument is tiresome, boring, and specious. Why didn't the president's daughters go? It's a volunteer force! The president didn't "send" Cindy Sheehan's son over there; he volunteered. If she is doing anything, she is sullying his memory. She is making his life worthless. She is making what he volunteered to do worthless, and you guys, you don't see this. There are sons, there are family members of elected officials in Washington who have been and are in Iraq. It's not a great number, but they are there. But it's not a draft, and the president can't choose who goes. It's a volunteer army and everything that you said is doing a disservice to those who have volunteered to represent this country and serve this country and their families, and if I were you, I would be ashamed and try to grow up and get a little maturity.
RUSH: My friends, there's another reason why the Sheehan thing is going to derail, why this train is going to derail, and that's because look at who her public relations outfit is. It's the mainstream press. They don't have universal respect anymore. They don't even have any concept of how they are harming her cause by championing it, but I want to talk about something larger here with you liberals. I know there are a lot of you here in the audience. We hear from you now and then, and it may be a waste of my time but I'm going to try it anyway. But I think you all need to look at things differently than you do. You need to take your focus off of government. You know how absurd it is for us to hear that a war is ignoble because the president's kids aren't there or because congressmen's kids aren't there? Do you know how irrelevant that is? Do you know who makes this country work? Can I ask you people on the left if you have the slightest idea who makes this country work? Because I'll tell you, it's not the president, I don't care who he is, and it's not Congress, and I don't care who they are. The people who make this country work are the people, and they're people you've never heard of. They are people unlike Cindy Sheehan, who are not seeking publicity, they are not seeking fame. They take life seriously. They try to mix their work and pleasure into a proper balance. They try to raise their kids the right way. They're doing everything they can to follow the straight-and-narrow. They sometimes slip off, but the people who make this country work, the fabled average American. That's who you liberals condemn, whether you know it or not. That's who you impugn. It's always been the case.
World War II was not won by Eisenhower. World War II was not won by FDR. World War II was not won by any particular leader. World War II was not won by Patton. Everybody played a role. But without the sons and daughters of the American people, this country wouldn't amount to anything. It is the people who make this country work, and the ease with which those of you on the left disparage the people in this country while you seek to focus all attention on government, is a sight to behold, and it is why you are losing elections; it is why you are losing favor; it is why you are becoming more fringe and extreme and kooky, because you've lost touch. You've lost contact. You've lost all ability to understand who it is that comprises the heart and soul of this country. You have no clue who the backbone of this country is; but I will tell you this: it's not Cindy Sheehan and it's not one member of her entourage in a ditch in Crawford, Texas. Those people are a bunch of squatters. Those people right now are contributing nothing to the greatness or future of this country. Neither are the members of the media who are down there trying to elevate all those people in the ditch to be superheroes. There's not one of them that comes anywhere near rating the title of hero. They are nothing but a bunch of squatters who are miserable and unhappy for who knows whatever reasons and deciding to take it out on people who they think have control over their lives. In this case, with a bunch of liberals, it's government. You want government to have control over your life, you want government to be able to do this and that for your friends and neighbors and help you, but the simple truth of this country is that it's the people who make this country work. It is the people who comprise the economy.
It is the people who comprise the morality. It is the people of this country who determine the ethics. It is the people of this country, and that's what you're upset about because you're in the minority. The people of this country, the people who make this country work differ from you in tremendous ways. They are religious. They are God-fearing. They respect values and morality. They know what's right and they know what's wrong, and they do their best to abide. You are offended by all that, claiming they don't have the right to make such decisions, while you sit around and make no decisions whatsoever because you're willing to totally put your life in the hands of some liberal politician and that will take you off the hook for having to make any decision about your life or anybody else's. Well, that's not how the country works. This country works on the basis of an educated and informed public seeking excellence in their own lives to whatever degree they wish it. People pursuing life the best they can, using freedom, God-given freedom -- and for you to call here and to come up with something as irrelevant as to say this war is not worth it because the president's kids aren't there or because nobody from Washington's kids are there doesn't say a thing about the war effort, doesn't say one thing about it, doesn't make it noble, doesn't make it ignoble, doesn't make it anything, because the war is taking place. Whether you agree with the fact that it's going on or not, we all have come to the decision that it's best that we win it. You haven't even joined us on that. You hope we lose it. You want to lose it because you want to embarrass the leaders of the country. What must your lives be like?
Are your lives so endless, baseless, and void of substance that the only pleasure you get from life is through watching the misery of others and trying to cause misery for others? Are you so incapable of enjoying the God-given gift of life that you've got, that you can only do so when other people are suffering, hopefully as a result of actions you've taken? What must it be like to be you people? What must it be like to get up every day and to have to go to your calendar and write "Destroy somebody today. Destroy something today. Destroy America today"? What must that be like? When you look out across the country and you see a burgeoning economy, you see the lone world superpower -- and it's not because of any president, and it's not because of any weapon, and it's not because of any military, it's because of the people of this country and our values and our Constitution. We're no different than any other people, other than we have freedom -- and you don't even like that! You only want freedom for yourselves, defined as you define it. So people can't say things that offend you, they can't do things that offend you, we can't have stupid names for sports teams. The absurdity of this whole political correctness movement. We can't have some team called the Redskins, we can't have some team called the Seminoles. Don't you understand these team names do it, it's an honor? Do you think a school calls itself the Seminoles to make fun of the Seminoles or are they trying to build themselves up? It's a matter of pride. But you people are so miserably unhappy that you have to find ways to constantly make everybody else around you unhappy, and so you go hang around with a woman who's crazed out of her mind in a ditch in Crawford, Texas, and then you have the audacity to call here and tell us that you are the great ones, that you're the ones that care, that you're the ones that have this country's best interests at heart.
If it were up to you people we wouldn't exist as a country today, you would have given in to the Soviets long ago, you would have appeased the Soviet communists. You would appease Iran right now, you probably wouldn't have cared about the war on terror or the bombing on 9/11. You would have sought out bin Laden and tried to make a deal with him, and this country exists today only because we have been able to prevent you from gaining power to do that kind of thing. We've had our run-ins with Neville Chamberlain types and you're the modern incarnation. To sit here, to actually have the gall to call this program and advance something you think as an intellectual argument that Cindy Sheehan's cause is noble, because the president's daughters aren't in Iraq, or congressmen's sons and daughters aren't in Iraq, have you no shame? Do you realize whose sons and daughters are? Do you understand it's voluntary? Do you understand these are people who are offering their lives in sacrifice for things they believe in? And what do you do? You come along and you try to disabuse them of their belief by telling them that they're wrong and that their country sucks. Well, to the extent that they think their country sucks it's because of you and your efforts to constantly undermine this country's best interests and our desires and efforts to protect the people of this country and to bring freedom to as many others in this world as possible. You people on the left used to be the ones that were all for civil rights around the world. You were all for human rights. Now all of a sudden you couldn't care less about the status of Iraqis. You couldn't care less. It's gotten so absurd, now that Howard Dean said on TV that if this new constitution is enacted as written, that the women of Iraq are going to be worse off than they were under Saddam Hussein.
Do you realize how patently absurd and bordering on insane that comment is? No, you don't. Because you think so little of your own country, you think so little of this president, you have such little faith in the ideals that have combined to make this a great country, that you assume it's worse here than anywhere else, and the places that it is bad is because of us, either through environmental pollution, or whatever cockamamie, asinine, stupid, ignoramus idea you can come up with. It's gotten to the point now where it is common to go on Democrat websites and read about the pleasure it would bring if the president were assassinated. It is now common to read letters to the editors in newspapers which say it would be fun if bin Laden actually came over here and slit Bush's throat, which is what a supporter of Sheehan wrote to a letter of the editor in one of the newspapers in this country. Yes, it would have been better if bin Laden would have just come here and slit Bush's throat. Do you have any idea how you people are perceived? Do you have the slightest idea how the decent people who make this country work perceive you? It is not with any respect. It is with contempt and it's with sorrow. But it's also with this realization: This country, if it is to survive, cannot be turned over to you people to lead and to run, because we will cease to exist as the United States the day that happens, and mark my word. It ain't going to happen.
RUSH: I have a story here from the San Diego Union Tribune on September 13th, 2004. "On a visit to Iraq in June, Rep. Duncan Hunter [R-CA] gave a short speech to Marines in a Fallujah mess hall and told them how important they were in the war on terrorism. One Marine in the audience found the congressman's talk so inspiring that he wrote about it in an e-mail to his mother. He said it lifted everyone's spirits and 'erased all doubts I had about being here.' 'I got chills and thought about how proud I am to be fighting for America in my capacity,' he wrote. The Marine who sent that note was 1st Lt. Duncan Duane Hunter, Hunter's oldest son and one of a handful of troops in Iraq whose father or mother is a member of Congress." He's got one son that's there on his second tour. But it's absurd, folks, on the face of it. It is absurd to say that this is somehow a definition of whether something noble or not, whether something's got any integrity or not. It ignores the role we all play as a people together in whatever national cause we undertake, and I wouldn't expect too many people on the left to understand that.
I call that an ass-handing-to. Watch it here.
And thank you, Rush Limbaugh.
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Gorelick a criminal, continued
Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker
(one of the best journals around) has the following stunner:
A very interesting memo from former US Attorney for Manhattan Mary Jo White apparently escaped being smuggled out of the National Archives in Sandy Burglar's pants. It turns out that White, who aggressively prosecuted terrorists responsible for the first WTC attack, told Jamie Gorelick that the infamous wall she built between intelligence and criminal justice would lead to disaster.
"This is not an area where it is safe or prudent to build unnecessary walls or to compartmentalize our knowledge of any possible players, plans or activities," wrote White, herself a Clinton appointee.
"The single biggest mistake we can make in attempting to combat terrorism is to insulate the criminal side of the house from the intelligence side of the house, unless such insulation is absolutely necessary. Excessive conservatism . . . can have deadly results."
She added: "We must face the reality that the way we are proceeding now is inherently and in actuality very dangerous."
In fact, the memo made it to the 9-11 Commission, but nobody took much note of it. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to have a person implicated in the memo sitting on the Commission. Conflict of interest is obvious here.
We are now into cover-up territory. And it is a huge story. The 9-11 Commission was charged with a responsibility of utmost seriousness. Instead of reporting honestly on the problems which led to the 9-11 plotters remaining unmolested by those charged with protecting us, the Commission ignored serious evidence of a major flaw.
Remember that we undertook a huge reorganization of government based on the recommendations of the Commission. Recommendations that were inherently flawed because of a cover-up of as yet unknown dimensions.
I'm starting to get outraged. Actually, I'm turning red, and steam is coming out of my ears. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!
UPDATE: lawhawk had this story yesterday,
with copious commentary:
So, there you have it folks. The Commission had the White memos but chose not to share what they stated. And Gorelick recused herself from this portion from the report. Thank goodness. I was starting to get worried that there might be a conflict of interests or something about Gorelick participating.
When is Congress going to take the Commission to task for this huge gaffe (or should I say cluster$@^#)?
Meanwhile, there are more signs that the Clinton Administration dropped the ball about al Qaeda in 1996. Apparently the State Department warned President Clinton of the grave and gathering threat of OBL moving to Afghanistan where he could export his brand of international terrorism without interference.
And, I have a few more questions, but let's start with this:
Lt. Col. Shaffer and Rep. Weldon have stories that snych up. Shaffer may be Weldon's source, or could be the independent confirmation that we've been waiting for. If he's the confirmation, then we've got a huge mess on our hands, and that appears to be the case. If he was the source, then all we have is another version of the same details without advancing the story except to include the origin of Weldon's claims. If that is the case, then we still need to get to the bottom of the story. In either case, much more investigation must be done.
I'm just a dilettante following this from the sidelines, but lawhawk's been diligently following the twists and turns. You should read him
-CNN and Philly.com
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Iraqis Vent Rage
I read this line from an Iraqi citizen calling in to a TV news program, responding to the most recent bombings, and it caused a few conflicting emotions and thoughts.
"These men that kill 100, 50 and 70 men a day -- have they been put to death," said a caller named Abu Abbas. "How many have been put to death? How many? The National Assembly is supposed to represent the Iraqi people. All I hear is we will do this and we will do that." link
I felt an extreme sense of genuine anger and frustration emanating from these words, but at the same time realized the importance of their ability to be said. This is a voice that *must* be listened to, by Iraqis and Americans alike. This is the voice of the Iraqi we are fighting for, the voice of a man we should all be fighting for. A common man, frustrated and confused at what he cannot understand. This is who our military fights for and everything depends on us understanding this.
I also thought for a split second, "How can I, as the birds are chirping outside my window, as people walk the street with no fear, understand what this man feels?" And then I thought, if I will not care, then everything is useless and nothing matters, and this is, to use a phrase which I will use correctly for once, "what the terrorists want."
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Two years ago this month I left Kuwait and Iraq. I was being reassigned to a new base in the small, and little known country of Djibouti, Africa. I was asked to establish a long-term command religious program for this new base. I spent the next six months there.
The other evening I was spending some time with my friends who all share the same hobby. We sing barbershop. Between the “ringing of chords�? (glorious!) one of the men asked me a question, sort of in a confidential manner, a feat not easily accomplished with thirty-five men all around you. He said, “Tell me, are we doing the right thing over there? Should we be there?�?
These and questions like it are directed at me with some frequency. I’m not an expert on this war, or any war, for that matter. I have served in two of our nations wars: the War on Terrorism, and the Vietnam War. Because I have “been there, done that,�? it is often assumed that I am something of an expert. At best, I am an observing participant, looking through a very small lens on the larger scene. This being said, I do have a perspective that I believe is accurate.
I keep in touch with people in our military who have recently been “in country.�? Or they are there now. Or they are soon going back. Then there are those who are doing the same thing I do that I keep in touch with. The message is the same: We’re winning.
For those who think I’m just being a jingoist – think again. In fact, I expect more from the party whose views to which I’m more closely aligned. Therefore, I expect more from that party. When they fail to deliver as they should, I let them know. At times, I don’t like either party very much.
But when it comes to our military, they are the best in the world, bar none. This is not even arguable. I have seen how they perform. They are intensely patriotic, while at the same time extremely compassionate. My favorite picture is of a Marine, in the midst of a firefight, doing the fireman’s carry for a wounded Iraqi soldier (on the March to Baghdad), bringing this man to our military medical folks for treatment. That is the picture of our young men and women in uniform.
“Yeah, but what about Abu Ghraib?�? some may ask. Okay, fair question. This disgusting incident was an anomaly. This is more indicative of poor leadership within that command than behavior endemic in our military. What many people do not know is that this incident took place in the fall of 2003. The military was aware of the problem and was taking the appropriate measures when the media caught wind of it in the spring of 2004. The way the media presented it, made it appear as though they had been the ones to break the story, implying that the military was covering this up. Not so. The investigation was ongoing, and those who were responsible were being disciplined through the military courts martial system. The military takes care of its own business without fanfare and finger-pointing. The guilty will be properly dealt with, of this you may be sure. We wear the uniform of our nation with pride. We don’t like having one of our own throw dirt on it.
“But are we winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people?�? Yes. We are. They are tasting freedom for the first time in their lives. Freedom takes some getting used to if it has never been available to you before. Allow me to make a comparison.
Our own American Revolution began in 1776. Things were very bleak. Many of our forefathers were torn between loyalty to the British throne, and loyalty to their new land, America. We didn’t have a Constitution until 1787. Our first elected leader for president was George Washington – in 1789. It was not until December of 1791 that the Bill of Rights was ratified to the Constitution.
Now, let’s compare that to Iraq. Since these folks had the abusive yoke of a tyrannical dictator lifted off of their necks in April of 2003, they have held open and free elections, June 28, 2004, to establish an intermediary government; they have held open and free elections, January 30, 2005, to vote in leadership for the nation. They are in the process of formulating their own constitution. I’d be willing to bet it will not be the monolithic document presented to the European Union recently that was several hundred pages long (obviously put together by a committee). Our original Constitution is little more than a page long. Add the amendments, including the Bill of Rights, and it’s not much more than two pages in length.
Industry, commerce, schools, utilities, and oil production are up and running. Yes, there are car bombings, drive-by shootings, and other last-gasp terrorist gyrations. Most insurgents come from outside Iraq. Those Iraqis committing terrorist acts also had it good working for Saddam. Now they have to work and pull their own weight. They liked it better under the brutal dictator. Too bad. He’s gone, and they soon will be.
Twenty years from now, let’s take a look back and see if this wasn’t one of the greatest liberations that has taken place since God delivered the Israelites from Egypt.
I have much more to say on this. But for now, I’ll simply say: We’re winning.
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American life makes people freaks, says terrorist freakazoid
Jihad Trial Transcript Bemoans Effects Of Living In U.S. - from TBO.com
TAMPA - Ramadan Shallah was looking forward to leaving the United States.
``Running around in this country, even staying in it, transforms people into freaks,'' he wrote in a March 21, 1995, fax sent to Fathi Shikaki, the secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Heh. I can attest to that.
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An ominous message to Canada?
Ted Byfield: American sends us an ominous message
Now here's an odd thing -- very important, I would think, to anybody doing business in Western Canada, or for that matter to anybody interested in the increasingly bizarre conduct of the government at Ottawa.
Late last month, a full-page article appeared in the National Post over the signature of Harvey M. Sapolsky, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In it, he frankly warned that if Canada "continues its international meddling at our expense and forgets its geography," then the U.S. will have to let Canada "know where its economic prosperity originates."
"Canada is easy to squeeze," observes Sapolsky. "Military trade preferences for Canada should end. The tag-along trips and combat observation opportunities should stop."
These might be "small steps," but if Canada continues doing what it's doing then further steps involving "even greater costs for Canada" should be taken.
Sapolsky spells out the American concern. It's not that "anti-Americanism is the unstated essence of the modern Canadian identity." This might have occasionally "irritated" some American officials, but by and large "no one much cared what Canada said or did."
But in certain areas, this anti-Americanism began to take dangerous form. He cites two examples: 1. Canada's aggressive promotion of the treaty prohibiting the use of land mines, which are necessary to protect American bases in hostile areas.
2. Canada's equally aggressive promotion of an International Criminal Court to prosecute the perpetrators of the kind of evils done in Rwanda and Bosnia. President Bill Clinton refused to send it to the Senate because he saw that the treaty could be used by anti-American powers to prosecute American peace-keepers.
These treaties "intentionally undermine America's military equities" and "seem to represent a deeper and more dangerous decision by Canada's foreign policy establishment to lead the international effort to hobble the American military."
Americans "should not tolerate Canada seeking a leading role in the global coalition to thwart American power needed to protect U.S. citizens and interests."
"Canada has given up on warfare," he observes. Forty years ago it virtually abandoned its responsibilities in NATO long before the Berlin Wall fell.
It "briefly sought an international reputation in peacekeeping, but greatly tempered this initiative after disastrous experiences in Somalia, where its troops misbehaved, and in Rwanda, where its leadership was ignored. Today Canada spends only about 1% of its GDP on national defence."
Since the U.S. will defend the continent with or without Canada's assent, "Canada can afford to do this, though the U.S. cannot."
Now the odd thing is this. Sapolsky's article appeared on July 27, 11 days ago. It shows little regard for the tender sentiments of Canadians and tramples brutally on some of our most cherished delusions. Yet Ottawa has not rushed to answer it. Ordinarily they would have prompted some academic to write an immediate rebuttal article. But none has appeared. Neither has there been any editorial rejoinder.
Now this is either because they consider the article beneath notice, or because they take it so seriously they don't want to call attention to it.
I tend towards the second explanation. This was no mere op-ed piece. MIT's security studies group will have close connections with the U.S. State and Defence Departments, and it's altogether probable that they approved the article. So it's a missive just below the diplomatic level.
Furthermore, one region of the country most vulnerable to American economic reprisals would be western Canada, particularly Alberta. But we're not the only ones. Ontario and Quebec are vulnerable too. Sapolsky points out, for example, that "billions" of dollars in U.S. defence spending go to Canada. About two thirds of the U.S. Army's latest combat troop carriers are made in this country.
Surely therefore it would well behoove the Alberta government to quietly draw to the attention of Americans that the West elected neither the Chretien nor the Martin governments.
In fact, we've done everything constitutionally possible to throw them out. So the Americans might focus punitively upon Ontario industry.
They're the people who keep putting them. in.
Moreover, when it comes time for big Ontario to thump Alberta again, via its over-riding hold on Ottawa, it would be good for Alberta to have an ally that could thump Ontario even harder.
Man, does that sound harsh or what.
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Did Hastert Take Turkish Bribes To Deny The Armenian Genocide?
Democracy Now! | Did Speaker Hastert Accept Turkish Bribes to Deny Armenian Genocide and Approve Weapons Sales?
Former FBI translator turned whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds is now appealing her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. In March 2002, she was fired and she has been fighting now for nearly 3 years to blow the whistle on US government failures prior to 9-11. She has faced fierce opposition from the Bush administration, the FBI and some in Congress. This week, she grabbed headlines again after Vanity Fair published a major story about her. What is making news from that piece are allegations surrounding Illinois congressman and Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
Vanity Fair alleges that Hastert may have been the recipient of tens of thousands of dollars of secret payments from Turkish officials in exchange for political favors and information. In the article, titled "An Inconvenient Patriot," Edmonds says that she gave confidential testimony about the payments to congressional staffers, the Inspector General and members of the 9/11 Commission. Edmonds says that she heard of the payments while listening to FBI wiretaps of Turkish officials who were under surveillance by the FBI.
His price was apparently half a million, if this is true.
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Why Jamie Gorelick put up that wall
It was to protect Bill Clinton from the consequences of his crimes. airforceguy
connected the dots in one direction, providing means and opportunity...now here's Neil Boortz
with the motive:
You know that Jamie Gorelick is a member of the 9/11 Commission. You also probably know that she was an Assistant Attorney General in the Clinton Administration And .. you might know that she is the Clinton official who wrote that memo that pretty much eliminated any possibility that the CIA and the FBI would cooperate and share intelligence on terrorism. But .. do you know why Gorelick wrote this memo? Simple. To protect Clinton from an investigation into Chinese involvement in his campaign finance scandal.
Gorelick is a criminal. (Thimbleful of cognac to Bruce Tefft)
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The Wall of Separation
A disclaimer: I am not, not have I ever been, part of ABLE DANGER. I have no personal knowledge of their specific program and I have never met anyone who claimed to be or was part of this unit. I assume this analytical element was staffed with dedicated professionals from the Intelligence Community (IC) who are interested in defending their country as effectively as the law allows them to.
The 9-11 Commission’s investigation centers around why we failed to predict the attack on our country. Anyone at the fusion of the IC and law enforcement (LE) communities can tell you. We are and have been extremely handicapped in our efforts by a “Wall of Separation�? between LE and the IC. This restriction, instituted in 1995, dictates that intel information is NOT releaseable to the LE community. It does not prevent sharing in the other direction (although ironically, a culture of secrecy in the LE community is responsible for that). Simply put, the Clinton administration, in the persona of Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick (who now perversely sits on the very committee investigating her Wall) personally stopped ABLE DANGER from reporting their intelligence to anyone in the LE community who could use this information. We need look no further then the table at which the commissioners sit for the answer to our intelligence failure. Gorelick shouldn’t be at that table, she should be sitting in a prison cell for institution the policies which allowed America to be attacked.
Ostensibly the Wall exists to protect “privacy�?. The LE community is extremely restricted in collecting information, and rightly so. LE can’t use wiretaps without Title III warrants (which are nearly impossible to get), is very limited in the use of informants, can’t conduct real interrogations (must allow suspects to assert 5th Amendment Rights), is very limited in technical surveillance (getting visual and audio surveillance permissions are two difficult, separate processes), and has a tremendous handicap when conducting searches (warrants etc). LE, due to it’s very nature is restricted by often ridiculous court precident (see 9th ciruit on ANYTHING). LE assumes your goal is to legally put someone in jail, not to collect information. Individual cases are protected by privacy rights of the accused etc. In fact, there is no system to share case information across LE agencies and there are thousands of LE agencies, spread across different local, state, a nd federal jurisdictions). Additionally, cops don’t institutionally share information well. “It’s my case, what the hell do you care about it?�? is a pretty typical attitude. Cops are collectors and analysts. They judge what is plausible and what isn’t.
Intel is the opposite. The nature of intel collectors and analysts dictates they share info, otherwise it’s worthless. Token agency issues come nowhere near the problems that plague the entire LE community. There is a classified internet (InteLink) which exists solely to share intelligence across the different intel agencies. Overseas intel is virtually unrestricted in how they gather information, but collectors are separate from analysts. Collectors gather as much intel as they can, analysts sift through it and get what they can out of it. None of the LE restrictions apply to them. Imagine the NSA getting a warrant to tap Osama’s cell phone; yet an LE agency would need one! Imagine the CIA capturing Osama and reading him his rights before asking him about where a nuclear bomb is hidden; yet the FBI would have to do that! The goal of intel is to find out information to guess what the enemy will do and “put bombs on target�?.
Gorelick’s wall didn’t give LE the flexibility of Intel. Instead it effectively gave Intel the restrictions of LE. Because of her policies, Americans died. She should be called to account for that.
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4 Star General Canned
At first blush, this seemed like a rather harsh thing to do. Throw away a four-star general (they don't exactly grow on trees) over a little nookie? But then I thought about it, and it is an appropriate measure to take. An adulterer, by the nature of what he's doing, is lying, being disloyal, violating sacred vows, and showing untrustworthiness in general. In Byrnes's case, it's not quite as bad as all that-he allegedly started the affair after separating from his wife. As a sidenote, the divorce was finalized on the same day they canned him. Lost his job and his marriage on the same day-that's rough! Still, he broke the UCMJ, and he displayed remarkably poor judgement in not delaying the sexual part of the relationship until it was no longer legally adulterous. He separated from the wife in March and the divorce finalized Monday, so that would have been a six month dry spell.
WASHINGTON -- The four-star Army general relieved of command this week is alleged to have had an extramarital affair with a female civilian who does not work for the military or the federal government, the general's attorney said Wednesday.
Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes was abruptly sacked as commander of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., and the Army has not ruled out taking additional disciplinary action against him.
Army officials declined to discuss any details of the accusations, except to say they involved sexual misconduct.
Byrnes' attorney, Lt. Col. David H. Robertson, said Byrnes and his wife separated in May 2004 and they remained separated until their divorce became final on Monday _ the same day Byrnes was removed from command.
"The allegation against General Byrnes involves a consensual, adult relationship with a woman who is not in the military, nor is a civilian employee of the military or the federal government," Robertson said in an e-mail exchange. He said Byrnes approved the statement but was not willing to be interviewed directly about the matter.
Robertson did not say whether the allegation is that the affair took place before Byrnes' separation from his wife. Under military rules of behavior it would be considered adultery as long as it took place before the divorce became final.
Robertson referred to the Army's allegation against Byrnes but he neither confirmed nor denied an affair.
CNN.com - Four-star general sacked - Aug 10, 2005
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Race Relations: Mexicans Can't Even See Their Racism
Racism Rears Its Ugly Head in Mexico
Mexico's President Vicente Fox is having a tough year.
During the much-publicized Minuteman Project in Arizona last March, Fox's arrogant comments and dismissive attitude didn't win him too many fans north of the border. Then in May, while making yet another speech about how America couldn't function without illegal immigrants from Mexico, Fox managed to insult African Americans in the process. He claimed that illegals do the work that "not even black people want to do," implying that African Americans make up the lowest rungs of society.
About a month later came the unveiling of Mexico's latest series of postage stamps, featuring none other than a black character like something out of a minstrel show. Needless to say, Fox found himself on the defensive yet again -- with good reason.
It turns out that racism in Mexico, both against blacks and dark-skinned indigenous Indians, has a long history. Mexico's colonial past has left its mark on modern-day society. Prejudice toward "pureblood" Indians from those who are "mixed-blood" (Spanish and Indian) is rife. Almost uniformly, people who are darker-skinned and of Indian descent make up the peasantry and working classes, while lighter-skinned, Spanish-descent Mexicans are in the ruling elite. Fox himself comes from that background, as his appearance makes evident.
This inequality may explain in part why the majority of immigrants coming into the United States fall into the darker-skinned category. Beyond the failure of the Mexican government to sustain a decent economy, darker-skinned Mexicans have a difficult time getting work because of job discrimination. According to the Web site IndigenousPeople.net, "sixty percent of Indians over 12 years of age are already unemployed, and of those who work, most earn less than the minimum wage of about $2.50 a day." The same story notes that Mexico City's top restaurants don't allow patrons to bring along Indian domestic workers for fear of tarnishing their business image.
Mexico's racial dynamics are perhaps best summed up by Steve Sailer in his article, "Where Did Mexico's Blacks Go?" He writes that "[w]hat Mexico does have instead of a color line is a 'color continuum.' There are no sharp racial divides, yet the rule for social prestige remains 'the whiter the better.'"
With this in mind, the popularity of the "Memin Pinguin" postage stamp series in Mexico starts to make sense. In fact, the flat-nosed, thick-lipped, bug-eyed, shucking and jiving Memin Pinguin is one of Mexico's most beloved comic strip characters. He's a children's character from a 1945 comic book that's still published in Mexico today. The cartoonist, Sixto Valencia Burgos, describes Memin as "this funny little kid. And nice. And generous. Oh, and black, too."
Fox's spokesman Rubén Aguilar vehemently denied that the character was racist, even going so far as to make the absurd claim that the series served to "combat racism and promote family values." Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez chimed in with his own defense of the Mexican comic strip and had the gall to accuse critics of showing a "a total lack of respect for our culture."
But Americans were unmoved. The White House issued a statement saying that the stamps had "no place in today's world," and the ubiquitous Jesse Jackson demanded that the stamps be withdrawn from the market. He also vowed to lead a demonstration at Mexican consulates unless Fox apologized. Leaders of the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League also spoke out against the stereotypical stamps.
Similar to U.S. Caricatures
Far from it being a "cultural misunderstanding," as members of the Mexican government term it, Americans know all too well what Memin Pinguin represents, as such caricatures originated in their own backyard. According to David Pilgrim, curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., the character is "consistent with what we in the United States would refer to as a pickaninny image."
But such stereotypes have long been banished to the realm of collectibles in this country, and rightfully so. Long before the overreach of political correctness, people worked to rid the nation of some truly ugly elements. This was a product of political struggle on the part of African Americans and others who fought for an integrated society. So naturally most Americans recoiled in disgust when the offending stamp was revealed.
But in Mexico the stamps have been selling out, with lines out the door of local post offices. In fact, the Mexican postal service defended the series vigorously, calling Memin Pinguin a "nice, little motor-mouth who, thanks to his good humor and particular way of seeing the world, wins the hearts" of the other characters. Isn't that special?
Mexicans themselves seem perplexed by all the hoopla. In a society where such terms of endearment as guero (blond) for Caucasians or fair-skinned Mexicans and negro (black), negrito (blackie) or moreno (brown) for darker-skinned Mexicans are standard, the Memin Pinguin stamps are simply par for the course.
So is it reasonable to suggest that the struggles that have been waged by African Americans have not filtered down south of the border? Both countries have a legacy of slavery, but different pathways led to the divergent populations that exist today.
Slave Trade in Mexico
Although the study of slavery tends to focus exclusively on the United States, it was widely practiced in the ancient world and later by various people around the world, including of course Europe. It was the Spanish slave trade that first brought Africans to Mexico, as early as 1520. Although slaves were initially treated more like personal servants and Christianized before their arrival, the Spanish crown soon expanded the practice into a full-blown slave trade. The population of blacks grew to outnumber the Spanish and eventually reached 200,000. With Mexico's independence in 1829, slavery was finally abolished after almost 300 years.
But slavery had taken its toll on the remnants of African culture, and intermarriage with indigenous people, and to a lesser extent with the Spanish, created a population of mixed-bloods, or mulattos. The descendants of these people continued to intermarry, which may be why the contemporary Afro-Mexican population is relatively small.
The two areas where the most blacks in Mexico live are the Costa Chica and the state of Veracruz. Like the indigenous people in the area, Afro-Mexicans are mostly campesinos or peasant farmers. Because the Mexican government does not use "race" in its census data, it's difficult to gauge population, but Afro-Mexicans appear to be short of both political and economic power. Compared to the legion of African American faces among the rich and famous, Afro-Mexicans are relatively invisible in popular culture, except of course for derogatory figures such as Memin Pinguin.
Despite the backdrop of slavery, many Mexicans are in denial about this aspect of their history. Colin A. Palmer, in an article titled "A Legacy of Slavery," recounts one such conversation in which a Mexican student insisted that Africans came to Mexico only as fugitive slaves from North America or Cuba. Yet at one time, Palmer notes, Mexico "probably had more African slaves than any other colony in the Western Hemisphere." And unlike the United States, where people have openly confronted their past, Mexico has yet to come to terms with its history. Maybe this is why gross misrepresentations of blacks such as Memin Pinguin are considered harmless. If racism never existed in Mexico, then how could this caricature be racist?
Then there's the factional attitude of various Latin Americans toward each other -- often partly based on the color continuum. These prejudices have traveled along with their purveyors to the United States and are well known by those who rub shoulders with Latino workers. My stepfather and his brother work in construction, and over the years they have noticed the hostility between Mexicans and the mostly darker-skinned Hondurans. They often refuse to work together and must be segregated by job. Although hardly politically correct, this bigotry is overlooked because it's perpetrated by one brown person against another. The truth is, racism transcends any one group, and when one looks beyond the white-vs.-black paradigm, discrimination is between degrees of brown.
Americans schooled in the ways of racial sensitivity can be shocked to travel abroad and witness the real world. My mother and I were in Hong Kong during the late 1980s and ran across something astounding: a toothpaste called "Darkie" (since changed to "Darlie.") On the front of the tube was a drawing of an Uncle Tom-like character from the Old South. We were so flabbergasted at the offensive find that we had to buy a tube to bring back and show our friends. But it was left in our hotel room, destined to be only a crazy story.
Unfortunately, Memin Pinguin is no crazy story and the proof is staring us all in the face. It's just too bad that it doesn't seem to bother our Mexican neighbors.
As long as Mexico keeps exporting its racial problems to the US, it won't have to deal with them at home. Maybe that's a reason why illegal immigration should be better-controlled: to force Mexicans to deal with their own problems and make their society an attractive place for Mexicans of previously unfavored ethnic backgrounds to want to be.
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Boycott Phillips 66
I know where I'm not
HOUSTON, Aug. 2 - The National Rifle Association and ConocoPhillips, one of the nation's largest energy companies, headed toward a showdown over gun control on private property on Tuesday, with the rifle association vowing to put up hundreds of billboards casting the oil giant as an enemy of gun owners.
"We didn't seek this fight, and we're not running away from it if it means taking on one of the largest corporations in the world," Wayne LaPierre, the rifle association's executive vice president, said in a phone interview from Washington after returning from Oklahoma, where he had announced the boycott on Monday night.
The association is focusing its wrath on ConocoPhillips because the company joined a federal lawsuit to block an Oklahoma law that allows employees to keep guns in cars parked in company lots. The law was enacted after 12 workers were fired from a Weyerhaeuser paper mill in southeast Oklahoma in 2002.
ConocoPhillips - the largest company based in Houston and the largest oil refiner in the country, with assets of $97 billion - did not respond in detail. A spokesman, Jeffrey Callender, said the company had been "in touch with the N.R.A. throughout the process" and "at this point was continuing to maintain its stance."
ConocoPhillips also issued a short statement saying that it supported the Second Amendment and the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns.
"Our primary concern is the safety of all our employees," the company said, adding, "We are simply trying to provide a safe and secure working environment for our employees by keeping guns out of our facilities, including our company parking lots."
The Williams Companies, another major energy company, and Halliburton have also joined the lawsuit, but ConocoPhillips was selected because of its size, Mr. LaPierre said.
Whirlpool had originally brought the lawsuit, but a spokesman, Stephen Duthie, said it dropped out after assurances from the state attorney general that the law would not affect the company's authority to keep guns off its property; Mr. Duthie said the rifle association had not influenced that decision.
Halliburton, the energy services giant whose subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root employed six of the fired workers, said Tuesday that it continued to side with ConocoPhillips against the Oklahoma law.
"It is our view that firearms should not be permitted on premises where Halliburton conducts business and that the law should not require the company to allow them," said a spokeswoman, Cathy Mann.
Another company, the Nordam Group, a maker of aircraft components, also has submitted briefs in support of the lawsuit. The chief executive, Ken Lackey, called guns on a work site "improper and dangerous" and said that as a former N.R.A. member he was unconcerned about pressure from the organization.
The companies involved in the lawsuit say that with about 17 killings a week in American workplaces, it was sound policy and within their rights as property owners to ban weapons from their parking lots.
Mr. LaPierre said that "nobody is proposing you be allowed to walk into a nuclear plant with a gun," but that workers had a constitutional right to keep legal weapons secured in their cars when they went to work.
The rifle association, which says 90 million Americans own guns, is asking its 4 million members and others not to patronize Conoco or Phillips 66 gas stations.
Just last month, it canceled plans to hold its 2007 national convention in Columbus, Ohio, after that city enacted a ban on assault weapons.
The dispute in Oklahoma stems from a crackdown at Weyerhaeuser against employee drug abuse. A company spokesman, Bruce Amundson, said trained dogs sniffing in the parking lot of the paper mill in Valliant found a dozen cars with rifles, shotguns, handguns and some automatic weapons, violations of a new policy banning weapons in cars. The gun owners, including contract workers for Kellogg Brown & Root, were fired.
Some sued in federal court, claiming in part that the gun policy had not been spelled out. They lost but are appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
In response to the firings, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a bill that would bar property owners from restricting those without felony records from keeping firearms in a locked vehicle. But that measure, to take effect in November, has now been blocked by the companies' lawsuit.
Who are these companies to prevent their employees from keeping a means of self-defense in their personal vehicle? Authoritarian corporate intrusion and nanny-statism has got to stop. I despise these ninnies.
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Why haven't they struck again?
Theories on why suicide attackers haven't hit again in the U.S.
There's a lack of a "suicide terrorist infrastructure" here.
The immigrant Muslim population is better assimilated here than in Europe.
The U.S. is better protected.
Al-Qaeda Central is dead.
Bin Laden is biding his time before another spectacular attack.
Islamic terrorists are focused on U.S. allies in Europe and U.S. troops in Iraq.
We've been lucky.
I'm leaning towards the last theory.
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The Iraq War Was Wrong
Most Americans say Iraq war has made US more vulnerable to terrorism
By a record 57-34 percent margin, most Americans believe the Iraq war has made their country more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, according to a poll.
And by a 56-41 percent margin, Americans believe some or all US troops should be withdrawn from Iraq -- a record 33 percent said all troops should be pulled out, according to the USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll.
By a 54-44 percent margin, the 1,004 adults polled by telephone August 5-7 said the Iraq War was a mistake and by a 56-43 percent margin, they felt the war was going badly.
The survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, found that President George W. Bush's approval rating was 45 percent -- one point higher than his lowest score -- and his disapproval rating 51 percent.
I can understand the people's sentiments. As an expert on the Iraq war
has explained, "the world has many wrongs, and many wars, but there's only one wrong Iraq war."
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Thanks for the Thanks
Last week I was called on to assist in making a call on one of our military families. The son had died while serving at a base on the East Coast. The family lives here on the West Coast and needed to be officially notified. This is done by what we call a CACO Team. CACO is the acronym for Casualty Assistance Calls Officer. This team consists of a naval officer or a senior enlisted person who is trained in the process of dealing with all the matters surrounding the death of a military member, and a chaplain.
The common misperception is that families are notified by a telephone call when their loved one in the military has died or has been killed. During WWII the means of notifying families was with a telegram (remember those?). This was still the means used through Korea and early Vietnam. Then we got smart and began an official program where families are notified in person by uniformed personnel sent to the home of the next of kin. This is a face-to-face meeting with the family. With today's rapid means of communication (e-mail, cell phones, etc) families can find out unofficially by well-meaning military friends of the deceased, so it is expedient that the families be notified as quickly as possible through official channels. This way we can answer the many questions a family has about their loved one.
So after being notified we had a CACO, I put on my "summer whites" uniform and headed north to hook up with the CACO officer, a Navy Chief, in Sacramento. Since I was in desperate need of a haircut, I swung into downtown Ripon to see if I could have my locks shorn quickly. I knew it was unlikely, but I figured it was worth a try. Both barbershops on Main Street were full. I decided to jump on the freeway, figuring to stop along the way. I pulled into Lodi (as in "Stuck in Lodi Again"). I found a barbershop not far from the freeway, so walked in. There was one person having a haircut, and a couple of lady barbers with no customers. Perfect! A few minutes later another man came in for a haircut and was seated next to me. He saw my uniform and commented that he'd served in the Navy in the late '50s. We enjoyed chatting about our different experiences in the Navy. I walked to the register to pay, only to have the lady barber tell me it was being paid for by the man I'd been talking with. I looked over at him seated in the chair and said "Thank you." He nodded, and I left.
Once in Sacramento, I stopped at a Burger King where I was to meet the Chief. Two men were seated near where I was. One man was wearing a Polo shirt with the California Highway Patrol logo on the left breast. He said, "Excuse me. I just want to say, 'Thanks for your service.'" I shook their hand and said, "You're welcome." Back out in the parking lot, I had several more people walk by and say, "Thank you." One man stopped next to me before exiting the parking lot. He just wanted to tell me of his father's service in Vietnam, something he was obviously very proud of. Before driving off, he shook my hand, and said, "Thank you."
Later, the Chief and I stopped for lunch at Carl's, Jr. Wearing the summer white uniform really stands out, so the Chief and I took seats at the back of the diner. Didn't matter. One man walked back to shake our hand and said, "I didn't want you to get away before I had a chance to say, 'Thanks for your service.'"
This was quite an experience for us. Both the Chief and I are Vietnam Vets. Being from that era and having fought in that war, we're never sure what to expect when we encounter civilians. It was most heartwarming!
The next day I was back at my church in Ripon in my normal pastor's attire: white shirt, sport coat, and tie. While I was out running some errands I knew my car needed a bath, so I drove into a car wash in Modesto. There was a guy/gal team prepping all the cars before they rolled through the enclosed washer. As they scrubbed my car before sending me on in, the gal told her male workmate that he should take good care of me because I was a Marine Officer. He asked her how she knew that. She pointed to the decal on my windshield that says "Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base," and has a blue strip signifying that the owner is an officer. I asked her if she had served. She said she'd spent four years in the Navy. I then explained that I was indeed an officer, but that I was in the Navy, serving with the Marines. She smiled in understanding, so as I was rolling up the window, she said, "Thanks. You take care, sir."
It's hard for me to know what to say at this point. Total strangers who see the uniform make an effort to express their appreciation. It would seem that the uniform is a symbol of all that is good and decent about America. This is a fact that the enemies of freedom simply do not understand. The men and women who wear this uniform, be it Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, or Coast Guard, do so because they are proud to serve and defend the American people. Since 9-11, no one has joined the armed forces to get college money. They joined to fight terrorists threatening the security and very existence of our nation.
So, on behalf of all who serve, let me say, "Thank you," for all your "Thank yous." It is an honor to serve you.
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Does this man deserve prison?
The harsh truth is that he knew he was doing something wrong. I doubt he'll get the full 20-year sentence, but he will get an appropriate prison term for helping Lynne Stewart and blind terrorist sheikh Omar Abdir Rahman flout the law and communicate with his supporters. The fact is, he couldn't have known what prearranged codes might have been hidden in apparently-innocuous messages between the terrorist bastard and his bastard followers. So, cry me a river, Mohammad Yousri. You did the crime, now do the time.
Mohamed Yousry, an Arabic-language translator, has been practicing for life in a prison cell. He closes himself into small spaces to meditate and combs through his library for nonpolitical books he supposes his keepers will allow him to read.
But he still cannot quite believe that prison is where he is going.
After working for nearly a decade as a translator for Lynne F. Stewart, a New York defense lawyer, Mr. Yousry, 49, was convicted along with her on Feb. 10 in Manhattan federal court of providing material aid to terrorism and conspiring to deceive the government. Now free on bail and awaiting sentencing, which is set for Sept. 30, he faces as much as 20 years behind bars.
Although months have passed since the verdict, Mr. Yousry remains shocked and baffled by it. Throughout the grueling nine-month trial, Mr. Yousry and his lawyers were convinced that he had a strong chance of acquittal.
The charges hinged on Ms. Stewart's provocative legal strategy on behalf of a convicted terrorist client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, in which she defied a prison rule that restricted communications by releasing messages from him to the international press and to his militant followers in Egypt.
Mr. Yousry's lawyers, David Ruhnke and David Stern, showed in court that he took no actions on his own to help the sheik politically and did his translation work based on instructions he received from Ms. Stewart and other lawyers for Mr. Abdel Rahman, a blind Muslim cleric who is serving a life sentence in federal prison for conspiring to bomb landmarks in New York City.
Mr. Yousry's case seemed particularly solid, because unlike Ms. Stewart, he never signed documents pledging to abide by prison regulations. Mr. Yousry's lawyers specified that it was up to Ms. Stewart, as the lawyer, to see that her staff complied with the rules.
The prosecutors presented evidence that Mr. Yousry knew that Ms. Stewart was at least bending the prison rules when she took messages from the sheik, which had been translated by Mr. Yousry, out of jail. They argued that he knew full well of the dangers of any communication between the virulently anti-American sheik and his Egyptian followers.
Andrew Dember, an assistant United States attorney, assailed the defense arguments as "nonsense!" in his closing summation. "He knew the restrictions, what they consisted of, and he was aware of the fact that he was doing wrong because of those restrictions. He knew full well that he was bound by the restrictions himself."
He added later, "Clearly, obviously, Ms. Stewart and Mr. Yousry know what they're doing is improper, illegal, criminal."
The jury agreed with the government, convicting Mr. Yousry on all three counts he was facing. On Friday, the Justice Department gave its highest award to the four prosecutors who tried the case.
"I still don't know what it is that I did that was even wrong, much less illegal," said Mr. Yousry, alternately indignant and mournful, in an interview in the Manhattan office of one of his lawyers, Mr. Stern. "I followed a process that was designed by the lawyers. They said this is what we're going to do, and I followed that. That's what lawyers do: They tell you what's right and what's wrong legally.
"The fact that I now know that these lawyers were following a strategy that the government didn't like, that makes me a criminal?" he asked.
What Mr. Yousry finds most confounding is that he was convicted of aiding Mr. Abdel Rahman's fundamentalist Islamic cause even though the prosecutors acknowledged that he was nonviolent, did not support the sheik's politics and was not a practicing Muslim.
In the courtroom Mr. Yousry was the quiet defendant, the one who attracted the least public attention. Ms. Stewart, who is also out on bail, has remained in the public eye as debate rages about her legal approach and as she travels and speaks to raise support for her appeals.
A third defendant, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a Staten Island postal worker and paralegal aide for the sheik, faced the gravest terror charges and the most startling government evidence: wiretaps of his home telephone that showed him talking extensively with known terrorists in Egypt. He remains in prison awaiting sentencing.
Convicted of Aiding Terrorist, Translator Prepares for Prison Cell, Still in Disbelief - New York Times
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In the Nuclear Age
Truman's decision to drop the A-bomb
marked the beginning of a debate that has continued for the past 60 years. Could the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
be avoided? Some of the scientists from the Manhattan Project had proposed a demonstration to give Japan a chance to surrender; President Hoover wrote that "the use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children," revolted his soul. Nevertheless it's true that thousands of American lives were saved and it's also true that America was fighting an enemy that had no scruples about doing the unthinkable: in the event that America invaded Japan, the Japanese army had orders to, if necessary, kill women, children and the elderly and use their corpses as shields.
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Massive Nationwide Gang Sweeps Continue
Over 900 illegals netted since March
The Feds are getting tougher and tougher on gangs as revelations of MS-13 flirtations with Al Qaeda and widespread illegal immigrant smuggling operations continue to put heat on the powers-that-be to do something
. Anti-gang initiative leads to 582 arrests
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have arrested 582 street gang members and their associates in the past two weeks, nearly half of whom are foreign nationals with criminal convictions in the United States.
The sweep covered 27 states and targeted more than 80 violent street gangs, including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), 18th Street Gang, Latin Kings, Mexican Mafia, Asian Boyz and Jamaican Posse, which specialize in murder, rape, assault, drug sales and immigration fraud.
"We have a message for violent street gang members in America: Stopping your violence and criminal activities is high on ICE's list of priorities," said Marcy Forman, the agency's director of investigations. "We're backing up our resolve with results ... and we're just getting started."
Ms. Forman said at a press briefing yesterday that 11 gang leaders, 490 members and 81 associates were arrested on charges related to violent crimes, immigration violations and possession of fraudulent documents.
She said 261 were identified as foreign nationals with criminal records.
"We are putting these street gangs on notice: Your violence and criminal activities will not go unchallenged," she said.
Ms. Forman said 384 ICE agents, 247 state and local law-enforcement officers, and 92 agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the FBI teamed up in the initiative, called Operation Community Shield.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the operation targeted "those who commit some of the most serious crimes and threaten the harmony and fabric of our society."
He noted that since March, more than 1,000 gang members have been arrested in the operation, more than 90 percent of whom were illegal aliens.
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Musharraf: Binnie's in Pak, AQ's comms crippled
I still think Osama is in Iran.
President Pervez Musharraf strongly hinted Friday that al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian-born top deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are hiding in "mountains in Pakistan."
Musharraf told a packed press conference that the U.S. interrogation of senior al-Qaida member Abu Farraj al-Libbi had revealed that the terrorist network's command and communication center has been destroyed by Pakistan's military campaign in South Waziristan.
Al-Qaida is now using couriers to relay messages, the president said.
"They are using the courier network. The last man that we got Abu Farraj al-Libbi, we got him through their courier man," Musharraf said in his opening statement.
Al-Libbi, a Libyan who is regarded as third in al-Qaida's hierarchy after bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, was arrested in May in a hideout in the Northwest Frontier Province.
Although al-Libbi is accused of two assassination attempts on Musharraf in December 2003, he was handed over to the United States for further questioning.
"Their (al-Qaida) command and communication system stands broken. Their No. 3 man was taking months to get messages up and down," Musharraf said.
The president said al-Qaida is no longer operating as an organization. Those who are claiming responsibility for or carrying out terrorist attacks have not been in communication with the terrorist network's high command, he said.
"Their communication linkages are not there," Musharraf said of the al-Qaida network.
During the two-hour press conference, Musharraf spoke at length about the Pakistani armed force's successful operations against al-Qaida hideouts in the South Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan.
He disclosed that the Pakistan army recovered two truckloads of computers, television sets and disk tapes from a tunnel in one of the sanctuaries in South Waziristan.
"We have broken the vertical and the horizontal command and communication link of al-Qaida, which means that they have ceased to work as a homogenized organization,' he said.
Musharraf hints bin Laden, al-Zawahari in Pakistani mountains
They had a “command and communications system" based in South Waziristan? I'm sure they did. Is that like bin Laden's make-believe mountain fortress?
I find it difficult to believe anything that Musharraf says.
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Feds Sting More Sex Slavers
I'm so happy about how seriously the Feds are taking sex slavery in America,
and one big hero we can thank for it is U.S. Representative Christopher Smith, NJ, 4th District,
who authored the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Ten people were indicted last week, all alleged members of a ring operating in the United States and Honduras that smuggled young, undocumented Honduran women into the US and forced them to work off their smuggling debts in bars in Hudson County, New Jersey.
The women, mostly from rural, poor villages in Honduras – some as young as 14 – were recruited under the false promise of getting legitimate jobs as waitresses in restaurants in New Jersey. Once brought to Hudson County by way of a safehouse in Houston, Texas, however, they were put to work at several bars owned by the ringleader and subject to physical and emotional abuse, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
The 31-count Indictment describes, among other abuses, young victims being raped while smuggled to the United States; victims sometimes far younger than 21 forced to continually drink alcohol and dance with male customers at the bars to raise money to pay human smuggling fees of between $10,000 and $20,000; victims being beaten if they were not compliant; victims forced to work in the bars up to seven days a week from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.; threats of deportation or harm to them and their families in Honduras if they did not comply with the ring’s demands.
Young women who became pregnant were forced to terminate pregnancies to maintain them as income-producers for the ring, according to the Indictment. In one case, a 21-year-old victim was allegedly forced to take pills intended to induce a spontaneous abortion. The next day, the victim gave birth to a live baby girl, who died shortly afterward.
The indictment charges the 10 individuals with violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (authored by Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey), including counts of conspiracy to commit forced labor, forced labor, alien smuggling and harboring illegal aliens. The Indictment supersedes and consolidates three earlier indictments and adds two new defendants, including the suspected ringleader in Hudson County, Luisa Medrano, who was arrested along with Rosalba Ortiz, one of the ring’s so-called “enforcers."
Medrano, 50, of Cliffside Park, a US citizen and native of El Salvador, is the owner of three bars in Union City and Guttenberg where the young women who were trafficked to Hudson County were put to work, according to the Indictment. Medrano also owned three multi-unit buildings in Union City, where the victims were allegedly forced to live while they worked to pay off their smuggling debts. Included in the Indictment are two forfeiture counts, in which the government seeks to seize the buildings.
According to the Indictment, the ring employed recruiters in Honduras to locate attractive, innocent young woman – most in their teens and early 20s; used smugglers, commonly known as “coyotes," to get them into the United States illegally, and “enforcers," who advised the Honduran women upon arrival in New Jersey of the true nature of their work, that they were required to repay a smuggling fee of up to $20,000 and then used physical abuse and intimidation to control and use them to make money for the conspirators.
The young women received $240 for approximately 48 hours of work per week plus an amount related to the sale of drinks to customers they met at the bars. But they were required to pay virtually all their earnings to the ring, at the rate of between $250 and $500 a week, according to the Indictment and earlier criminal complaints.
The Indictment details circumstances of 10 victims. But in searches of two Hudson County apartments in January by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, approximately 30 young women were arrested as illegal immigrants.
There's very happy news for the young ladies, other than their release from the basest bondage: they'll come away from this as American citizens.
The victims, though illegal aliens, are receiving counseling, education and other social services provided by the US government. All those referred to in the Indictment, as well as others originally arrested, have been qualified for special visas that will allow them to stay in the United States and become naturalized citizens. Their immediate families can join them and are eligible for the same status.
I love this country. Freedom is on the march.
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The States Repudiate The Brethren
This is what America is all about.
Local government. Democrats and Republicans agree that this is a disgusting and unamerican imposition of corporate interests and crass greed over homeowners' right to their castle (with the notable exception of Nancy "God Has Spoken" Pelosi
States across the country are rushing to pass laws to counter the potential impact of a
U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that allows state and local governments to seize homes for private development.
In Alabama Wednesday, Gov. Bob Riley will sign a law that prohibits the state, cities and counties from taking private property for retail, office, commercial, industrial or residential development. "We don't like anybody messing with our dogs, our guns, our hunting rights or trying to take property from us," says state Sen. Jack Biddle, a sponsor of the law.
Delaware also has changed its law since the high court ruling on eminent domain. Legislatures in at least eight other states are weighing proposals this year. More may be coming. And Congress is considering action.
"When legislatures start new sessions in January, I expect the majority of states to take up bills that would restrict the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes," said Larry Morandi, environmental program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The issue has spawned an unusual alliance among conservatives opposed to the principle of government seizing private property and liberals worried that poor people would be the most likely victims.
The actions are a swift response to a Supreme Court decision in a Connecticut case. For the first time, it ruled that condemnation of private property solely for economic development was constitutional.
In that case, the justices accepted New London, Conn., officials' plan to raze homes to make way for a hotel, office complexes and a marina.
But the court left the door open for states to limit the use of eminent domain for economic development.
In Washington, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said his office received more calls from constituents angry about this case than it did for the Supreme Court ruling that limited displays of the Ten Commandments on public property. Cornyn is proposing a bill to bar cities and counties from using federal funds for economic development projects that involve seized property.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., a liberal who rarely supports Republican bills, has signed onto two GOP bills and proposed two of her own. "The people who get hurt are the many poor people and working people who don't think they can fight City Hall," she said.
Of course, the nanny segment of society disapproves. Namely, the "planners". Can there be a creepier job title? Hey, bozos, thanks for destroying our cities!
Paul Farmer, executive director of the American Planning Association, said eminent domain for private projects can revitalize cities. "It should remain a tool that would clearly not be used very often," he said.
I'm sure it won't be used any more than necessary, which is defined as whenever the fuck you feel like it and your pockets are sufficiently lined. The American people are telling you and your black-robed eggers-on to go climb a tree.
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Would you let him baby-sit your kids?
Michael Kane, under the influence of LSD as he claimed, stabbed a friend to death one evening. At his murder trial he was described as a schizophrenic who would require long-term medication and supervision. The jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity and he was acquitted and sent to a psychiatric hospital. Ten months later Michael Kane is supposedly cured
and ready to re-enter society.
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Don't tell me all that hand-holding was for nothing!
Will King Adbullah try to distance Saudi Arabia from the U.S.?
Saudi Arabia's new king, the former Crown Prince Abdullah, will try to distance his country from the United States, but not from Iran, Dominique Thomas, a French expert on radical Islam, told Adnkronos International (AKI). Internally, he will aim to open up to moderates and the Shiite minority, and 'focused appointments' at the heart of the security services, and these will be pivotal to the kingdom of the new Saudi king Abdullah, who will be officially confirmed as monarch at a ceremony on Wednesday.
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It's hard to believe this really happened and got this far. Where is common sense? WorldNetDaily: Baby yanked from couple for kisses on belly button
The ordeal is finally over, but for the past year, a North Carolina family has been torn apart after state officials claimed family photos of a father kissing his baby's belly button were some kind of child abuse.
It began when Teresa Hamaty took impromptu party snapshots of her husband, Charbel, playfully embracing their naked, newborn son, Kristoff.
After dropping the film off at an Eckerd store in North Raleigh, authorities were notified.
"You see the back of the baby, and like if someone is kissing the baby's belly button," Teresa told WRAL-TV.
But police saw the worst and arrested Teresa for taking sexually explicit photos, charged her husband with felony sexual assault, and put Kristoff and his half-sister in protective custody.
"It was a nightmare," Charbel said, after spending half a year in jail.
Teresa took months fighting to gain back custody of her children.
"I think this was one of those times that they got the wrong people," Teresa said. "They were too quick to judge when they took one look at my husband."
Dozens of Hamaty supporters showed up for court appearances, claiming police overreacted. They raised some $140,000 in legal and living expenses for the Hamatys.
"[It] makes me feel, that's it – that's why I have to be strong for – to show everybody what the truth is," Charbel told the station.
The charges eventually were dropped when a report submitted by an expert said there was no criminal intent in the pictures.
"I hate cameras," Charbel now says. "I don't like taking pictures."
Sure, some moron Eckerd clerk reported this. But why did some moron cop look at the same pictures and agree with him, and why did it take a year to end this nightmare?
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We must replace our aging weapons platforms
Those who believe China's rise may not be peaceful argue that Washington must thwart Beijing's attempt to exert global influence, and advocate a U.S. arms buildup aimed at China.
Jim Woolsey, former CIA chief and currently a partner at Booz Allen Hamilton (No. 28), said the United States and China already may be on a collision course. "China is investing in high-tech sensors and weapons [intended] to target U.S. aircraft carriers with an intent to dominate the Western Pacific," Woolsey told the House Armed Services committee July 13.
While the Pentagon debates how and where to spend its money in the next few years " on new threats like terrorism and insurgency or to counter potential threats like China " some analysts warn that not spending enough on new weapon platforms could hurt growth at the four major U.S. defense companies.
"We have believed that absence of platform replacement in defense spending can go on for only so long, and that the future is not an endless series of electronics upgrades to 1970s- and 1980s-vintage aircraft, naval vessels and armored vehicles," Byron Callan, analyst at Merrill Lynch, New York, wrote in a June 2 note to his clients.
Callan said the United States continues to spend vast amounts of money on developing new weapons but is not buying enough of this new equipment.
According to Merrill Lynch analysis, the ratio of procurement to research and development has been steadily falling since the early 1990s, when it stood at about 2.5, to a little over 1 today "suggesting that not all the new equipment being developed is being purchased. Money available to buy such new systems may be further squeezed when the emergency wartime supplements for Iraq and Afghanistan come to an end.
One former senior defense official expects emergency funds for Afghanistan and Iraq to end by 2006 and 2008 respectively, going by the example of U.S. operations in Bosnia, when supplements ended five years after the start of operations. If the supplements end and the cost of operations are folded into the regular budget, it could further erode money left for major weapons, the former official said.
Callan also fears that beyond 2006-07, "operating costs of military operations could impinge on modernization spending."
The U.S. Army expects such wartime supplements to pay for its modernization, including Future Combat Systems and modular brigades, and will face a sticker shock if the supplements end.
The problem is that we're trying to run the war on terror on the cheap, without upgrading our defense expenditures. Defense spending needs to go up by a percentage point of GDP, maybe two, for us to afford the security we desire. We're not being asked to sacrifice a thing, and predictably, we're not getting something for nothing. Just because our conventional arms could beat any military today is no reason to be complacent.
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Joint Strike Fighter, Raptor to get the axe?
Don't worry. We'll never have to fight a war against Russia or China. So it's okay not to build as many Joint Strike Fighters and Raptors.
WASHINGTON — Facing severe budget pressures, the Pentagon is developing plans to slash the Air Force's two prized fighter jet programs, according to Defense Department officials and outside experts.
Military planners are debating options to scale back the Air Force's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the stealth F/A-22 fighter, as some defense officials question spending billions on weapons that have little use against terrorist networks and other unconventional threats.
Such a move would be an enormous blow to the Air Force, which has spent years developing the two weapons to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets. The budget cuts could encounter fierce resistance from lawmakers, including some from California, whose districts would be hit hard by the economic repercussions.
Yet as the Pentagon conducts a top-to-bottom assessment of its entire arsenal, defense officials are mindful that the military buildup that followed Sept. 11 is coming to an end. The war in Iraq, which now costs the Defense Department more than $4 billion per month, is contributing to the budget squeeze that jeopardizes some of the Pentagon's most desired — and expensive — weapons.
The Joint Strike Fighter program is projected to cost $245 billion, a price tag shared by the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and nine U.S. allies, including Britain, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Turkey. It is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program, and the Air Force has by far the largest part of the budget; it hopes to purchase 1,763 of the planes to replace the F-16 fighter.
The Air Force also plans to acquire 179 F/A-22s, each costing about $345 million.
A Pentagon decision to scale back the programs would be the strongest signal yet of a significant change in strategic priorities. With Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld trying to transform the military to deal with unconventional threats, many say that weapons built for dogfights and eluding enemy radar are increasingly irrelevant.
"What does Al Qaeda's air force look like?" said one defense official working on the Pentagon's assessment, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review.
The Pentagon's overall budget is expected to grow by 8% between now and the end of fiscal year 2011. Yet with the military planning to field about a dozen big-ticket planes, ships and submarines during that period, the Pentagon estimates that its budget for new weapons will balloon by 34%.
Some of these weapons, such as the Army's Future Combat System — a fleet of combat vehicles linked to a computer network — and the Navy's DDX destroyer, are being eyed for cutbacks to prevent a budget crisis later.
Because U.S. troops are heavily engaged in the Middle East and Central Asia, officials say there is little room to cut personnel costs from the Pentagon budget. Weapons, they say, are the only target for cost reductions.
Although Pentagon officials contend that no final decision has been made about the fate of the two Lockheed Martin-designed jets, some inside the Defense Department say that the deepest cuts could come in the Joint Strike Fighter program. According to one source, the Pentagon could cut the Air Force's allotment of the planes by half.
Officials involved in the review process say that the option of canceling one or both of the programs is on the table, although it is extremely unlikely — in part because such a move would cause a furor among members of Congress. The fact that close allies are involved in developing the JSF is another factor that should keep the program alive, the officials say.
Although Lockheed is the prime contractor for both jets, about 40% of the JSF is assembled at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s plant in Palmdale. Most of the F/A-22 is built at Lockheed's plant in Marietta, Ga.
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said it was too early in the review process to know what specific programs might be cut or expanded, and that planners were still identifying which types of missions the military ought to be preparing for.
"It's definitely premature to say we're looking at cuts," said DiRita, who stressed that there were months remaining in the review — due before Congress by early February — and that no proposals had been presented to Rumsfeld.
He did say that Pentagon officials hoped to make some decisions about weapons programs by September or October, as the Defense Department prepared its fiscal year 2007 budget.
The Joint Strike Fighter and the F/A-22 have been plagued by cost overruns and production delays. In April, the Government Accountability Office called the JSF's original business case, laid out by the Pentagon in 1996, "unexecutable."
"When you have difficult budget choices to make, several of the Pentagon's expensive modernization programs become likely targets," said Andrew Krepinevich of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.
"The JSF sits at the top of that list."
Air Force officials are vigorously lobbying to preserve their coveted weapons, and supporters of the two programs point out that the emergence of China as a potential long-term threat is the best case for a large investment in fighter jet technology.
Last week, a Pentagon report warned that China's military buildup threatened the balance of power in Asia, and that within a decade China's military could pose a threat to modern militaries on the continent.
Air Force officials, who consider protecting the F/A-22 their top priority during the review process, argue that the jet's stealth technology makes it essential for eluding the advanced radar systems the Chinese are developing.
The Pentagon has scaled back the number of F/A-22 jets it intends to buy from 381 aircraft to 179. But Pentagon officials say that deeper cuts in the number of planes purchased are possible.
Rumsfeld has repeatedly criticized the length of time it can take for a weapon to move from the drawing board to operational testing to deployment in the field.
"There's no question that the longer it takes to field a program, the more expensive it becomes," DiRita said.
Pentagon May Scrap Jet Plans
In all fairness, this article consists of a lot more speculation than concrete decisions. I'm afraid it might be a toe in the water to test the temperature, though. It's kind of important for the United States to be able to best any conventional enemy, and underinvesting in next-generation weapons systems will allow competitors like China to quickly catch up to us. Our advantage isn't permanent, but it's unwise of us to let it shrink even further. We face the war on terror in addition to
the threats that already existed, not in place of them.
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Al Qaeda in Korea
The one thing that's clear
is that nowhere is truly safe from Al Qaeda.
SEOUL (Yonhap) - South Korea went on a high alert as a suspected al-Qaida member from Pakistan sneaked into Seoul last month, police said.
The Pakistani man, 46, stayed in South Korea from June 23 to July 3 after receiving a tourist visa from the Korean Embassy in Thailand, said officials at the National Police Agency.
The man, identified only as A, is staying in Malaysia after a stopover in Thailand, an agency official said.
The South Korean police are cooperating with their Thai and Pakistani counterparts and Interpol to verify the identity of the man, the official said.
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US Intel: The Left Hand Doesn't Know What The Right Hand Is Doing
Shaun Waterman's excellent reporting for UPI
on intelligence reform post 9/11 continues.
The man in charge of the Bush administration's plan to create a permanently connected network of databases to "join the dots" of intelligence against terror threats told lawmakers this week that he had only three people working for him, despite having been in the post more than three months.
John Russack, the program manager for the administration's counter-terrorism Information Sharing Environment, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, his first testimony since his appointment by President Bush in April.
He warned that panel that there were important legal and policy impediments to information sharing that would have to be confronted by Congress and the administration as they moved towards a vision of real-time, seamless data exchange between intelligence, law enforcement, emergency response and other agencies of federal, state local and other governments.
"Most of the low-hanging fruit has been plucked," he said. "What is left to be done is really hard."
Russack told the panel in his opening statement that he had already begun work. "I will be assisted," he added, "by a very small staff of approximately 25 people," 20 of whom would be "detailees from other parts of our government."
"I'm advised by counsel that you don't have any employees," the committee's Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., told him.
"Well, I have one," Russack replied, "I have one, and I have two contractors ... So we're making progress, Mr. Chairman."
Specter seemed unconvinced. "Sufficient progress?" he asked Lee Hamilton, the former congressman and Sept. 11 commissioner also giving evidence Wednesday.
"It's not even close," replied Hamilton.
Russack earlier said his appointment would run out after two years, but that the law which created the office -- last year's intelligence reform legislation -- contained "a caveat that says it could actually expire sooner if I don't do a good job."
"Is that sufficient progress, inspector general?" Specter asked the Justice Department's internal watchdog, Glenn Fine, of Russack's hiring record.
"We're going to take a vote here, Mr. Russack," the senator added. You may lose your office sooner."
The exchange came at the end of a marathon four-hour oversight hearing which began focused on the FBI, and hearing testimony from Director Robert Mueller. But with Russack's participation on a second panel, the topic broadened to encompass the challenges facing information sharing across the federal government.
A visibly frustrated Specter asked the other panelists how to instill "a sense of urgency" in the work being done by Mueller and Russack.
"We went to help you," he told Russack. "If I were to write a scathing letter, whom would I address it to, to give you some help?" He asked.
Russack replied that "we have been working hard on this, even though we have a very small staff." He said that he had just sent out a letter to federal agencies and departments outlining the positions he needed filled by detailees.
"I can assure you that there is a sense of urgency to get those positions filled," he said, adding that Specter should write to the Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.
I like the way Specter pushes people. I previously strongly disliked him for being something of a RINO, but he's certainly looking out for the people's interests here. Hamilton soliloquized about the importance of Russack's job.
"The place where it all comes together is in Mr. Russack's position," he said. "He's the fellow that has to see that we get all this information shared."
Hamilton said the position of the program manager had to be "empowered. He has to have the resources. He's got to have the people. He's got to have the political support in order to get the job done."
Russack said that he had already completed his first legislatively mandated report, delivered to Congress and the president June 15.
His prepared testimony said the report identified five broad issues that would "define the agenda for the program manager's office over its two-year life."
They were -- in the order he listed them -- "ambiguous and conflicting" policies and authorities governing access to information; a lack of trust between different parts of the federal government, and more generally between the feds and state and local agencies, or between intelligence and law enforcement professionals; the persistence of the need-to-know principle in the application of "controls (on classified data) imposed by the originating organization;" the need to improve information sharing "in parallel with the protection of the information privacy and other rights of Americans;" and, finally, technology.
In other words, bureaucracy is making America less safe. End of story.
Russack said that technology was not a barrier to or a restraint on information sharing. "The impediments are not the flow of electrons," he said, calling technology "an enabler of information sharing."
The problem, his prepared testimony explains, is that "disagreements over roles and responsibilities coupled with inadequate or outdated policies, procedures and standards often impede our ability to use existing technology effectively," and resulted in a "vast and confusing array of systems, databases, networks and tools that users must deal with."
Russack's June 15 report is classified For Official Use Only, the level below Secret, he told United Press International after the hearing.
"We'll see what we can do," he responded when asked whether copies might be provided to the media. "A lot of other people have been asking that, too."
Russack told UPI that his office was "going to be staffing up very quickly."
"As you see, I have a lot of oversight to ensure that that happens," he said, but declined to put a timeline on the effort.
Russack was not asked to elaborate on any of the policy or turf conflicts that he alluded to in his prepared testimony. But one such issue identified by the presidential commission on intelligence was the existence of conflicting and inconsistent rules about what intelligence can be collected and shared if it relates to U.S. persons -- American citizens and corporations and other people living legally in the United States.
At his confirmation hearing last week, the man nominated to be the general counsel in the office of the director of national intelligence told lawmakers he would work closely with Russack, noting that President Bush had chosen to place him under the new director.
Benjamin Powell said that if confirmed, he "would supply necessary legal support to (Russack) that would involve working with the chief legal officers of the components of the intelligence community to identify legal impediments to information sharing."
Powell said that he was considering setting up "some type of think tank" in the general counsel's office -- "people whose job it is to look at these kinds of disputes" and who were "wall(ed)... off from the day-to-day types of tasks that take everyone's time."
Where is our latter-day Alexander to cut through this Gordian knot of bullshit?
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Let's see what the polls say
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75 years for Binnie's Shaykh
Remember the guy who set himself on fire because the FBI wasn't paying him enough? He was an informant in the case of this bastard, who financed bin Laden to the tune of 20 million clams before 9/11, and was a major Hamas financier as well. He was stung by the US; we lured him to Germany and nailed his ass. Beautiful.
Encouragingly, a survivor of a Hamas bus bombing was allowed to testify in court and help send this barbaric douchebag to chokey. Yemeni cleric receives 75-year sentence
Al-Moayad appeared distressed at what his lawyer said amounted to a life sentence.
"Your honor, what have I done?" he said in Arabic as he was led away.
Owned by Uncle Sam, you little bitch.
UPDATE: As usual, Patrick's (my brother from a Kafir mother) take on this one is hilarious:Clarity & Resolve:
The good sheikh will now be occupied with a daily jihad against the carnal advances of a large man named Bubba.
O you who believe! This is called disincentive. You will pay if you're caught playing against us.
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Some gave all, but all didn't give some
has been talking about this
. She got her brother
to pipe in as well. Are Americans really doing enough at home to win the war on terror, or are we just carrying on blithely without a care in this world? Sadly, we're mostly completely ambivalent about doing our part, and our leaders aren't helping by asking absolutely nothing of us.
This NYT article
shows that the disquiet among our military families doesn't stop at the brat household-it's widespread. Something is wrong here.
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Gonzales on drugs
The Telegraph Online
PORTLAND, Maine – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Monday that “the scourge of methamphetamine" has spread across the nation but law enforcement is making progress in battling the drug.
“In terms of damage to children and to our society, meth is now the most dangerous drug in America, having surpassed marijuana," Gonzales told the summer conference of the National District Attorneys Association.
Did he actually say that marijuana is the second most dangerous drug in America?
A decade ago, he said, meth was a deadly drug that plagued the western states, but has since spread across the entire country. Initially associated with blue-collar users in rural areas, meth has invaded the big cities and its abusers include members of all racial and economic groups, he said.
Recent national figures indicated that 600,000 Americans used meth within a 30-day period, he said, and a survey of the nation’s counties founded that 58 percent of them ranked meth as the No. 1 drug problem, three times that of cocaine.
They seem to think cocaine's the second biggest problem, not marijuana.
It's hard to really trust the federal government when it insists that pot is a deadly menace to society, worse than anything except methamphetamine.
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Whistleblower: FBI had advance notice of 9/11, did worse than nothing
the fired FBI whistleblower, has new stunning revelations.
Over four years ago, more than four months prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, in April 2001, a long-term FBI informant/asset who had been providing the bureau with information since 1990, provided two FBI agents and a translator with specific information regarding a terrorist attack being planned by Osama Bin Laden. This asset/informant was previously a high- level intelligence officer in Iran in charge of intelligence from Afghanistan. Through his contacts in Afghanistan he received information that: 1) Osama Bin Laden was planning a major terrorist attack in the United States targeting 4-5 major cities, 2) the attack was going to involve airplanes, 3) some of the individuals in charge of carrying out this attack were already in place in the United States, 4) the attack was going to be carried out soon, in a few months. The agents who received this information reported it to their superior, Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism, Thomas Frields, at the FBI Washington Field Office, by filing “302" forms, and the translator, Mr. Behrooz Sarshar, translated and documented this information. No action was taken by the Special Agent in Charge, Thomas Frields, and after 9/11 the agents and the translators were told to ‘keep quiet’ regarding this issue. The translator who was present during the session with the FBI informant, Mr. Behrooz Sarshar, reported this incident to Director Mueller in writing, and later to the Department of Justice Inspector General. The press reported this incident, and in fact the report in the Chicago Tribune on July 21, 2004 stated that FBI officials had confirmed that this information was received in April 2001, and further, the Chicago Tribune quoted an aide to Director Mueller that he (Mueller) was surprised that the Commission never raised this particular issue with him during the hearing (Please refer to Chicago Tribune article, dated July 21, 2004). Mr. Sarshar reported this issue to the 9/11 Commission on February 12, 2004, and provided them with specific dates, location, witness names, and the contact information for that particular Iranian asset and the two special agents who received the information. I provided the 9/11 Commission with a detailed and specific account of this issue, the names of other witnesses, and documents I had seen. Mr. Sarshar also provided the Department of Justice Inspector General with specific information regarding this case.
For almost four years since September 11, officials refused to admit to having specific information regarding the terrorists’ plans to attack the United States. The Phoenix Memo, received months prior to the 9/11 attacks, specifically warned FBI HQ of pilot training and their possible link to terrorist activities against the United States. Four months prior to the terrorist attacks the Iranian asset provided the FBI with specific information regarding the ‘use of airplanes’, ‘major US cities as targets’, and ‘Osama Bin Laden issuing the order. ’ Coleen Rowley likewise reported that specific information had been provided to FBI HQ. All this information went to the same place: FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC, and the FBI Washington Field Office, in Washington DC.
In October 2001, approximately one month after the September 11 attack, an agent from (city name omitted) field office, re-sent a certain document to the FBI Washington Field Office, so that it could be re-translated. This Special Agent, in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, rightfully believed that, considering his target of investigation (the suspect under surveillance), and the issues involved, the original translation might have missed certain information that could prove to be valuable in the investigation of terrorist activities. After this document was received by the FBI Washington Field Office and retranslated verbatim, the field agent’s hunch appeared to be correct. The new translation revealed certain information regarding blueprints, pictures, and building material for skyscrapers being sent overseas (country name omitted). It also revealed certain illegal activities in obtaining visas from certain embassies in the Middle East, through network contacts and bribery. However, after the re-translation was completed and the new significant information was revealed, the unit supervisor in charge of certain Middle Eastern languages, Mike Feghali, decided NOT to send the re-translated information to the Special Agent who had requested it. Instead, this supervisor decided to send this agent a note stating that the translation was reviewed and that the original translation was accurate. This supervisor, Mike Feghali, stated that sending the accurate translation would hurt the original translator and would cause problems for the FBI language department. The FBI agent requesting the retranslation never received the accurate translation of that document. I provided this information to the 9/11 Commission on February 12, 2004, and to the Department of Justice Inspector General in May 2002.
The latest buzz topic regarding intelligence is the problem of sharing information, intelligence, within intelligence agencies and between intelligence agencies. To this date the public has not been told of intentional blocking of intelligence, and has not been told that certain information, despite its direct links, impacts and ties to terrorist related activities, is not given to or shared with Counterterrorism units, their investigations, and countering terrorism related activities. This was the case prior to 9/11, and remains in effect after 9/11. If Counterintelligence receives information that contains money laundering, illegal arms sale, and illegal drug activities, directly linked to terrorist activities; and if that information involves certain nations, certain semi- legit organizations, and ties to certain lucrative or political relations in this country, then, that information is not shared with Counterterrorism, regardless of the possible severe consequences. In certain cases, frustrated FBI agents cited ‘direct pressure by the State Department,’ and in other cases ‘sensitive diplomatic relations’ is cited. I provided the Department of Justice Inspector General and the 9/11 Commission with detailed and specific information and evidence regarding this issue, and the names of other witnesses willing to corroborate this, and the names of certain U.S. officials involved in these transactions and activities.
Now, after almost 4 years, we get to hear new bits & pieces: FBI & Midhar’s Case; FBI & Abdel-Hafiz Case; FBI & Saudi planes leaving just days after 9/11 without having the passengers questioned; FBI & Youssef Case;… and the list goes on.
Today, after nearly four years since 9/11, the American people still do not know that thousands of lives can be jeopardized under the unspoken policy of ‘protecting certain foreign business relations.’ The victims family members still do not realize that information and answers they have sought relentlessly for almost 4 years has been blocked due to the unspoken decisions made and disguised under ‘safeguarding certain diplomatic relations .’
Where is the so-called congressional oversight? Why has the 9/11 Commission intentionally omitted this info; although they’ve had it all along? Where is accountability?
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Saudis angry with Oprah
MEMRI has some interesting stuff, as usual.
This one is a collection of responses by Saudi women to a segment on the Oprah Winfrey show dealing with women's lives around the world. It seems that Oprah didn't accentuate any of the positives for women in Saudi, she just chose to focus on one woman, a tv personality, who was bloodied by her husband. It looks like Oprah's producers ambushed Rania, 60 Minutes-style:
"Last week, someone mentioned that they had seen Rania Al-Baz on Oprah. After immediately checking local listings for the rerun, I called some of my cousins and friends to tell them to watch. After watching the first 25 minutes about happy women in different countries, I was convinced that I had misread the television schedule, and that the episode we were watching was not the one featuring Rania.
"This episode began with Aishwarya Rai, and then moved on to Iceland, [with] its glaciers and hot springs. Icelandic talk show host Svanhilder Valsdottir discussed social customs, while offering Oprah Icelandic delicacies such as rotten shark meat and sour lamb testicles. When Oprah began talking about Belgium's justly-famous delicious fried potatoes and chocolates with another woman, I called my mother and told her that I was sure that this was not 'my' Oprah episode.
"I told her, 'This isn't the type of show Oprah's producer told me about. Besides, Oprah is taking us around the world to different countries showing us how satisfied women in those countries are. It would be totally unbalanced and unfair to shift to Saudi Arabia to focus on Rania. It would be as if what happened to her is what our women most enjoy about Saudi Arabia. Her story is not a happy one, and wouldn't flow with the others on this program.'
"I was wrong. Rania, swollen, bloodied and bruised, flashed across the screen moments later, as Oprah explained what had happened to her and followed it with the usual unfair and uninformed diatribe that American audiences love to hear about how miserable Saudi women are and how free and happy American women are.
"The entire original interview with Rania (a copy of which I still have here in Jeddah) lasted 64 minutes. Oprah used three of those 64. In the 61 minutes that were not shown, Rania talked about how wonderful our religion and our country are, and she discusses women's rights and their lives in Saudi Arabia in a fair and realistic manner.
"Rania and I were used by the Oprah Winfrey Show to paint Saudi Arabia in an unfair and negative light.
"When I called the producer I had dealt with in Chicago for an explanation, the warm greetings and enthusiasm to speak with me that had existed prior to the taping had been replaced by a hurried and impatient attitude that clearly meant, 'I don't have time for you anymore now that I have gotten what I wanted from you.' I was referred to the media relations department at Harpo Studios and from them, I received the following official statement:
"'Rania Al-Baz's story was always intended for inclusion in a show that examined the different lives of women from various countries. We feel her story was presented accurately and we hope that her courage in sharing it with an international audience will help millions of other women around the world.'…" 
In another article, "An Open Letter to Oprah, " posted on Al-Sharq Al-Awsat 's English-language website, Al-Ghalib continued to express his dissatisfaction with the production team and with the statement he received from the media relations department: "Dear Ms. Winfrey… I was told you weren't available to actually reply yourself, which leaves me wondering if you personally are aware of the injustice that's been committed… It is fair to say that she [Rania] has been victimized yet again, and the catalyst was your show….
"I still have a copy of the entire interview that I sent you, here in Saudi [Arabia]. May I have your permission to release it to an Arab television network that can perhaps help undo some of the damage you did to Rania's reputation? Or would you yourself like to do something realistic, fair, and unbiased [that is] worthy of your name?
"Something has to be done – if not for Saudi Arabia, if not for your Arab fans, if not for your very reputation, then at least for Rania, who has suffered enough – really." 
On the other hand, if the burka fits...
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That Other Axis Of Evil
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Our New Bandar
I think we should make "Bandar" the official title of the Saudi ambassador to the US, in the wake of Bandar bin Sultan's 20-year career as the point-man between Saudi Arabia and the United States. His career was great for Saudi Arabia, and disastrous for the United States-he nurtured the sovereignty-destructive relationship between Saudi elites and greedy, weak-willed, out-of-power but influential US elites. The most disturbing aspect of this isn't the cooptation of our retired elites; it's the influence that this has on the actions of our leaders while they're still leading us. It's a form of meddling in US affairs, and the Saudis have to be told to stop it in no uncertain terms.
The new Bandar won't bring about a new way of doing things; he'll only maintain and extend the sinister edifice built by his predecessor. Call it Bandar's Banana Republic; it's that web of relationships, mutual back-scratching and implied rewards for favors that has poisoned this country's ability to behave seriously with the Saudis by coopting our venal political class. This has to stop, but the appointment of Bandar Bandar's replacement gives me little reason to believe it will. The Saudis will continue to corrupt our spineless politicians, apparently.
So now that Bandar Bandar has gone home, Bandar Turki bin Faisal, Osama bin Laden confidante
, a lying torture-denier
who claims Zionists are behind Islamic terrorism in the Arabian Peninsula
and has been named
in the trillion-dollar lawsuit over 9/11, has now replaced him
(after having been Ambassador to London).
Why did the first Bandar, Bandar Bandar, leave? Probably to pursue a bigger job
if his father becomes the Crown Prince, such as intel chief
-he has even expressed the desire to be King himself. Fat chance in Saudi Arabia for the son of a slave-girl.
Bandar Turki seems like something of a downgrade. It's hard to understand why they would send such a tainted individual to replace Bandar Bandar (who himself became tainted when it emerged that his wife may have helped finance
a couple of the 9/11 terrorists' US stay).Mark Steyn has had some funny interactions with top Saudis like Turki.
Being sent Turki after Bandar signifies that for the Saudis, nothing has changed, and we're getting more of the same. Meet the new Bandar, same as the old Bandar.
Down with the Bandar system!
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'I touched the democracy'
As democracy takes root around the world—often with America’s encouragement—more women are joining the political process. So it’s striking how low their participation rates are here at home. When nations were ranked for women’s involvement in national legislatures and governments, the U.S. was 61st. Rwanda was first, followed by Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. Iraq, with its new national assembly, ranked 15th. Afghanistan is still unranked, but its new constitution guarantees women 25% of the seats in the lower house and 17% of the seats in the upper house of parliament. (Of course, in a few countries—including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia—women still can’t even vote or hold office.)These Women Are Changing Their Nations
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Pashtun Hospitality: A Rose In The Wilderness
Time has some details on the Pashtun mensch who saved a SEAL's life.
A crackle in the brush. That's the sound the Afghan herder recalls hearing as he walked alone through a pine forest last month. When he looked up, he saw an American commando, his legs and shoulder bloodied. The commando pointed his gun at the Afghan. "Maybe he thought I was a Taliban," says the shepherd, Gulab. "I remembered hearing that if an American sticks up his thumb, it is a friendly gesture. So that's what I did." To make sure the message was clear, Gulab lifted his tunic to show the American he wasn't hiding a weapon. He then propped up the wounded commando, and together the pair hobbled down the steep mountain trail to Sabari-Minah, a cluster of adobe-and-wood homes--crossing, for the time being, to safety.
What Gulab did not know is that the commando he encountered was part of a team of Navy SEALs that had been missing for four days after being ambushed by Taliban insurgents during a reconnaissance mission in northeastern Afghanistan. An initial search mission to find the missing SEALs ended in disaster on June 28, when a Chinook helicopter carrying 16 service members was shot down over Kunar province, killing everyone aboard, in one of the deadliest attacks so far on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Since then, the bodies of two of the missing SEALs have been recovered; another is still classified as missing, though the Taliban claims he was captured and beheaded.
One member of the team did survive. Though the military has not released the name of the SEAL (the U.S. military seldom gives out the names of its special-operations personnel), TIME pieced together his story on the basis of briefings with U.S. military officials in Afghanistan plus an exclusive account of how Gulab, an Afghan herdsman, rescued the wounded commando. What emerges is the tale of a courageous U.S. fighter facing impossible odds in unfamiliar terrain, stalked by the enemy and stripped of everything but his gun and his will to survive. But it is also a story of mercy and fraternity, showing that even in the war-scorched landscape of the Afghan mountains, little shoots of humanity sometimes have a chance to grow.
According to accounts provided to U.S. commanders by the surviving Navy SEAL, the commando team had come under fierce attack from a large group of Taliban fighters, who pounded their location with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and a steady hail of small-arms fire. The clatter of the approaching Chinook may or may not have been audible to the SEALs, but the Taliban surely heard it. A second band of fighters turned and took a bead on the chopper, probably with a rocket- propelled grenade, and in what a U.S. official calls "a pretty lucky shot," knocked it out of the sky.
Now the four SEALs were truly alone. With night falling and the fog settling, they managed to slip through the Taliban fighters. Crawling and scrambling, they headed toward the high ridges, and the Taliban--who had them outnumbered, probably 5 to 1--gave chase.
U.S. officials say the commandos kept up a running fire fight with their pursuers for more than two miles. The known survivor recalls seeing two of his friends shot. At one point he blacked out, possibly from a mortar round landing close by. When he regained consciousness, two of his teammates--Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Dietz, 25, and Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29--were dead, and a third had vanished in the darkness and fog. The surviving SEAL dragged himself at least another mile up into the mountains. It was there he was found four days later by Gulab the shepherd.
After taking the SEAL to Sabari-Minah, Gulab called a village council and explained that the American needed protection from Taliban hunters. It was the SEAL's good fortune that the villagers were Pashtun, who are honor-bound never to refuse sanctuary to a stranger. By then, said Gulab, "the American understood that we were trying to save him, and he relaxed a bit."
The Taliban was not so agreeable. That night the fighters sent a message to the villagers: "We want this infidel." A firm reply from the village chief, Shinah, shot back. "The American is our guest, and we won't give him up as long as there's a man or a woman left alive in our village." As a precaution, the villagers moved the injured commando out of Gulab's house and hid him in a stable overnight, until it was safe for Gulab to make the six-hour trek down to the U.S. base at Asadabad and report that the SEAL--by then the subject of an intense search--was alive. Sometime later, Gulab went back to his village and then returned to Asadabad with the commando, this time reuniting the wounded and weary SEAL with his jubilant comrades.
The relief at recovering the missing commando has been tempered by the heavy loss of American life--and the knowledge that more fighting lies ahead. The Taliban's offensive shows no sign of waning and is apparently aimed at sabotaging September's parliamentary elections. U.S. Colonel Don McGraw, director of operations of the Combined Forces Command in Kabul, says that in the chaos of Afghanistan today, it is hard to distinguish among what is the work of the Taliban, drug traffickers and criminal gangs.
It is a testament to the persistent insecurity in Afghanistan that Gulab now fears that his act of compassion may mean his death warrant. After returning the SEAL, he went back to grab his family and flee before the Taliban would come round seeking revenge. In the mountains of Kunar, fear is rising again.
Gulab's name means "Rose", hence the headline.
Customs like the taboo against giving up a guest come from the harsh, hardscrabble lives these tribesmen lead. (Arabs are also famous for hospitality in this sense; I suspect it's a common feature of nomadic cultures in harsh climates). It's in your self-interest not to betray the next stranger to his enemies, because you might be the next stranger fleeing enemies.
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How are we doing on oil?
No doubt, the energy industry is in a precarious position. Two decades of falling prices in the 1980s and '90s discouraged investment. With many of the easy-to-find fields already on the map, big oil producers have been forced to look for new sources in ever-more-hostile environments: not just under thousands of feet of water but also across frozen tundra and in countries rocked by political unrest. As a result, production has risen sluggishly in recent years, while energy demand, particularly from the booming China and India, has exploded. Last year global oil consumption rose 3.4%, to 80.7 million barrels per day, the largest volume increase since 1976.Is There Plenty Of Oil?
From that snapshot the oil situation doesn't look good. But there's little reason to assume that the next five years will simply see a continuation of current trends. Thanks to a combination of higher prices, increased exploration and production spending, and improved technology (page 32), oil supplies are poised to grow much faster than they have in recent years. Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), a respected energy consultant, sees 20 or more major new fields coming on line each year through 2010. Altogether those fields could boost worldwide production capacity 15%, from 87.9 million barrels per day to 101.5 million by the end of the decade, CERA estimates. As a result, supply should exceed demand by 7 million bbl. per day, a huge leap from the current cushion of 1 million bbl. That should take pressure off prices. "OPEC countries have the potential, and [most] are increasing production," says Peter Jackson, a CERA researcher. "Non-OPEC production has increased at quite a lick compared to the 1990s."
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The most common method of terrorism in the world
Unheard of only a few decades ago, suicide bombings have rapidly evolved into perhaps the most common method of terrorism in the world, moving west from the civil war in Sri Lanka in the 1980s to the Palestinian intifada of recent years to Iraq today. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide attacks in the United States, suicide bombers have struck from Indonesia to India, from Russia to Morocco.Suicide Bombs Potent Tools of Terrorists
Now governments throughout the West -- including the United States -- are bracing to cope with similar challenges in the wake of the deadly July 7 subway bombings in London, which marked the first time that suicide bombers had successfully mounted an attack in Western Europe.
The pace of such attacks is quickening. According to data compiled by the Rand Corp., about three-quarters of all suicide bombings have occurred since the Sept. 11 attacks.
(a thimbleful of cognac to jlfintx)
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Tom Tancredo takes the temperature
looks like he's going to run for President-not in order to win (he's well aware that he comes off as a single-issue candidate) but to force immigration onto the agendas of the candidates, the same way Ross Perot's hopeless run forced the deficit onto the agenda (except that, unlike Perot, he won't be going third-party and dividing Republican votes to give the Democrat victory).
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Gitmo tribunals OK'd by federal appeals court
About time this nonsense was laid to rest.
Naturally, the “progressive" America-hating lawyers
that are providing all this pro-bono legal firepower to the terrorists are likely to try and take it to the Supreme Court, where I hope their side will lose again.
WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal appeals court put the Bush administration's military commissions for terrorist suspects back on track Friday, saying a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay prison who once was Osama bin-Laden's driver can stand trial.
A three-judge panel ruled 3-0 against Salim Ahmed Hamdan, whose case was halted by a federal judge on grounds that commission procedures were unlawful.
``Congress authorized the military commission that will try Hamdan,'' said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The protections of the 1949 Geneva Convention do not apply to al-Qaida and its members, so Hamdan does not have a right to enforce its provisions in court, the appeals judges said.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson ruled last year that Hamdan could not be tried by a military commission until a competent tribunal determined that he was not a prisoner of war.
``We believe the military commission is such a tribunal,'' said the appeals court.
President Bush created the military commissions after the Sept. 11 attacks, opening a legal channel for alleged al-Qaida terrorists and their associates to be tried for war crimes.
Hamdan's lawyers said Bush violated the separation of powers in the Constitution when he established military commissions.
The court disagreed, saying Bush relied on Congress's joint resolution authorizing the use of force after the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as two congressionally enacted laws.
``We think it no answer to say, as Hamdan does, that this case is different because Congress did not formally declare war,'' said the court.
Congress authorized the president to use all necessary and appropriate force in the war on terrorism.
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This is what Americans do:
During a routine patrol in Baghdad June 2, Army Pfc. Stephen Tschiderer, a medic, was shot in the chest by an enemy sniper, hiding in a van just 75 yards away. The incident was filmed by the insurgents.
Tschiderer, with E Troop, 101st “Saber" Cavalry Division, attached to 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was knocked to the ground from the impact, but he popped right back up, took cover and located the enemy’s position.
After tracking down the now-wounded sniper with a team from B Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Iraqi Army Brigade, Tschiderer secured the terrorist with a pair of handcuffs and gave medical aid to the terrorist who’d tried to kill him just minutes before.
See the video of the attack.
Read the account of the incident from the 256th Brigade Combat Team. [pdf]
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|For years, Ben Stein has been writing a column called "Monday Night At Morton's" - Morton's being a restaurant chain for the rich and famous. This is his last piece and definitely worth a read: How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World? |
The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.
We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.
(a thimbleful of cognac to BLT)
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Zarqawi's main leader in Baghdad is main leader no more
Pentagon says key Zarqawi operative caught in Iraq
American forces have captured a key operative in the organization of Iraq's al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday.
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the PBS program "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" that Monday's capture of Abu Abd Al-Aziz, whom he called Zarqawi's "main leader in Baghdad," was "going to hurt that operation of Zarqawi's pretty significantly."
Myers said Al-Aziz was picked up "on the battlefield," but provided no other details.
A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, added, "When you look at the picture of the Zarqawi network of the different elements that are known to exist, he's the second-in-command of the Baghdad element and has the reputation of being the 'emir of Baghdad' for Zarqawi."
The official said American forces were involved in the operation that snared Al-Aziz, but was unable to say whether Iraqi government forces played a role.
Al Qaeda Organization for Holy War in Iraq, led by the Jordanian-born Zarqawi, has carried out some of the deadliest attacks against U.S. forces, the Iraqi government and Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq as part of a tenacious insurgency.
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India loves us!
John at Powerline comments on an Asia Times article-"Why Indians Love America So Much"
India until the 1990s was a different country. It modeled itself on socialist Russia, its Cold War ally since independence in 1947, where the individual was subsumed by the might of the state and bureaucracy. In the 1970s and 1980s, the only way to breach the stranglehold of the state was to move to the West or the Gulf countries, where Indian entrepreneurs excelled. Doctors and engineers were in demand in the West, but formed a very small percentage of the youth who wanted to break the shackles that forced everyone to conform to an abstract higher good dictated by the thoughts of Karl Marx and the rest. As the Ashbrook Center's Steven Hayward points out,
This, many observers say, was a complete antithesis of the way Indians are and have been for centuries. Like Americans, Indians have done best when allowed to excel in an uncluttered environment where individual excellence is recognized. The pursuit of high performance and efficiency, rooted in liberal values and individual rights and democratic principles, is where India and US stand on similar ground.
India is being very helpful in the war on terror, and we may need them very soon to help us mop up Pakistan. Musharraf's half-friend, half-enemy act can't be kept up for much longer; the long-term trend is for Pakistan to become the next terrorist state. It's not only China that we and India both need to worry about.
I also had a conversation with an American diplomat from the region more than a year ago, who told me of the significant support India is giving to the U.S. effort. Since India can’t sent any troops to Pakistan or Afghanistan because it would be unacceptable to the Paks, etc., India’s navy is doing things such as providing harbor guard for our ships in Singapore (to prevent another Cole-style bombing). But I also get the impression that if things went bad in Pakistain, India would gladly help clean the place out.
This is a happy turnabout since, as John points out, India was for all practical purposes on the other side during the Cold War.
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Washington in Comics
George Bush is to Alfred E. Neuman as Hillary Clinton is to...
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Christopher Hitchens hands Ron Reagan Jr his ass on a silver plate
'Do you know nothing about the subject at all?'
RR: Christopher, I'm not sure that I buy the idea that these attacks are a sign that we're actually winning the war on terror. I mean, how many more victories like this do we really want to endure?
CH: Well, it depends on how you think it started, sir. I mean, these movements had taken over Afghanistan, had very nearly taken over Algeria, in a extremely bloody war which actually was eventually won by Algerian society. They had sent death squads to try and kill my friend Salman Rushdie, for the offense of writing a novel in England. They had sent death squads to Austria and Germany, the Iranians had, for example, to try and kill Kurdish Muslim leaders there. If you make the mistake that I thought I heard you making just before we came on the air, of attributing rationality or a motive to this, and to say that it's about anything but itself, you make a great mistake, and you end up where you ended up, saying that the cause of terrorism is fighting against it, the root cause, I mean. Now, you even said, extraordinarily to me, that there was no terrorist problem in Iraq before 2003. Do you know nothing about the subject at all? Do you wonder how Mr. Zarqawi got there under the rule of Saddam Hussein? Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal?
Hitchens has perfectly demonstrated the circular reasoning that dominates the thinking of much of the world, not just Ron Reagan: "the cause of terrorism is fighting against it".
Read the whole thing at Radio Blogger: Ron Reagan just proved that brilliance is not hereditary.
(a thimbleful of cognac to RadioMattM)
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Behind the scenes: the panel on foreign takeovers
Ever wonder what the process was for vetting national security-sensitive mergers? Wonder no more.
Apparently, the panel in charge is a very high-level one, consisting of several Cabinet members among others. The panel makes a recommendation to the President, who makes the final call.
Intelligence, criminal justice and other officials may take an active role in cases, even negotiating side deals with foreign parties. In contentious cases, such as the Unocal offer, members of Congress invariably weigh in and the issues are discussed at the pinnacle of government.
"Some people would like you to believe it's nameless, faceless bureaucrats in the basement of some building," Malan said, alluding to the small committee staff that is housed a block away from the Treasury Department. "It's not. When they get together on a high-profile deal like this, it's probably in the Cabinet room in the White House."
I'm pretty sure the CNOOC buyout of Unocal won't be going through.
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A test of press freedom
New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed Wednesday for refusing to divulge a confidential source to a grand jury investigating the Bush administration's leak of an undercover CIA operative's name. It added legal drama to what was already one of the most closely watched press freedom cases in recent history. Judge Orders Jail for N.Y. Times Reporter
Whoever disclosed Plame's name as an undercover CIA agent broke the law and ought to be prosecuted. I wonder if Novak, the first reporter who made the information public, asked the "source" if he was aware he was breaking the law.
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Zarqawi is begging women to join the jihad
Heh, what a chicken! He's running out of male volunteers - which is to be expected since they tend to blow up - and now he's trying to recruit women. Check out the title of his latest speech, "Religion declines and I am still alive"
. I suspect the original title was "Nobody wants to play jihad with me and I am still alive but not for very long".
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A real American hero rests in peace: Admiral James B. Stockdale
The Medal of Honor recipient was the exact opposite of John Kerry and Jane FondaOne of America's greatest heros went home to his Maker yesterday
after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. May he rest in peace.
Retired Navy Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, Medal of Honor recipient, former Viet Nam prisoner of war (POW), naval aviator and test pilot, academic, and American hero died today, July 5, 2005, at his home in Coronado, Calif. He was 81 years old and had been battling Alzheimer’s disease.
Born Dec. 23, 1923 in Abingdon, Ill., and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1947, he is best remembered for his extraordinary leadership as the senior naval officer held in captivity during the Vietnam War. As commanding officer of Carrier Air Group Sixteen flying from the aircraft carrier the USS Oriskany, he was shot down while leading a mission Sept. 9, 1965.
During his 7½-year imprisonment, he was tortured numerous times, forced to wear vise-like heavy leg irons for two years and spent four years in solitary confinement. While imprisoned, he organized the prisoner culture in defiance of regulations forbidding prisoner communication and improvised a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior. Codified in the acronym, BACK U.S. (Unity over Self), these rules gave prisoners a sense of hope, which many credited with giving them the strength to endure their ordeal.
Upon his release in 1973, Stockdale’s extraordinary heroism became widely known and he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976. A portion of his citation reads: “Stockdale…deliberately inflicted a near mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated their employment of excessive harassment and torture of all prisoners of war."
"Vice Adm. Jim Stockdale's legendary leadership and heroic service to the cause of freedom has been an inspiration to our nation," said Secretary of the Navy Gordon England. “His courage and life stand as timeless examples of the power of faith and the strength of the human spirit. Our thoughts are with his devoted family. America and our Navy are eternally grateful and will always remember him."
Upon his retirement from naval service, the secretary of the Navy established the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership presented annually in both Pacific and Atlantic Fleets. Stockdale held 26 combat awards including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts and four Silver Star Medals. He is a member of the Navy’s Carrier Hall of Fame, The National Aviation Hall of Fame and an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He held 11 honorary doctoral degrees.
"Our Navy is saddened by the loss of Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, a giant among heroes and a patriarch of ethical leadership," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark. “Adm. Stockdale challenged the human limits of moral courage, physical endurance and intellectual bravery, emerging victorious as a legendary beacon for all to follow. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sybil, his devoted partner in love and life, and the rest of the Stockdale family."
Stockdale will be honored at a memorial service on board the USS Ronald Reagan in his hometown of Coronado, Calif. The service will take place Saturday, July 16. He will be buried with full honors at the U.S. Naval Academy Saturday, July 23. He is survived by his beloved wife Sybil of Coronado, Calif., and his four sons: James of Beaver, Pa.; Sidney of Albuquerque, N.M.; Stanford of Denver, Colo.; Taylor of Claremont, Calif.; and eight grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions should be made to:
U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, 291 Wood Rd., Beach Hall, Annapolis, Md., 21402, telephone: (410) 295-4116.
Monmouth College Fund, 700 E. Broadway, Monmouth, Ill., 61462, telephone: (309) 457-2316/17
Stockdale’s biography and additional photos are located on the following Web site: http://www.admiralstockdale.com .
Note to media:
For more information concerning the memorial service in San Diego, Calif., contact Capt. Jacquie Yost at (619) 532-1430.
For information concerning funeral services at the U.S. Naval Academy, contact Cdr. Rod Gibbons at (410) 293-1521.
Thank you, sir.
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Happy Fourth of July, America!
Best wishes to everyone and a big, heartfelt thank you to our troops.
Enjoy yourself with some fireworks
over your city. More fireworks here
, courtesy of Lewis.
And last but not least, keep in mind what this holiday is really about
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Smuggling Hizballah Across the Border
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Staying the course
The war posts are in ev's category and I don't really like boy posts - I don't even like Home Depot - but I couldn't resist saying this: I'm glad we're not setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, we should stay there for as long as it takes. The terrorists in Iraq are fighting some imaginary Jihad. They take great pleasure in indiscriminately killing and terrorising the "occupiers" who just happen to be Iraqi men, women and children. As long as they're not going away, neither should we.
After all, just what is the Democratic alternative to the current approach in Iraq? Plenty of Democrats, and a few jittery Republicans, have taken to nattering on about how the administration should set a "timetable" for withdrawal from Iraq.
Bush dispatched with this silly argument pretty effectively, saying: "Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong signal to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out."
From Tech Central Station - That Bloody, Bloody Flag
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Hooper's Complaint: Res Ipsa Loquitur
What's missing from an amended complaint in CAIR's SLAPP lawsuit is very revealing
At Dhimmi Watch,
the continuing story of CAIR's multimillion-dollar intimidation lawsuit against the founder of Anti-CAIR, Andrew Whitehead, takes an intriguing twist. CAIR's original complaint contained the following as examples of Whitehead's allegedly “libelous defamation":
a. Let their be no doubt that CAIR is a terrorist supporting front organization that is partially funded by terrorists, and that CAIR wishes nothing more than the implementation of a SHARIA law in American. ACAIR, August 13, 2003, Press Release.
b. [CAIR is an]…organization founded by Hamas supporters which seeks to overthrow constitutional government in the United States and replace it with an Islamist theocracy using our own Constitution as protection. ACAIR, July 4, 2003, Press Release.
e. ACAIR reminds our readers that CAIR was started by Hamas members and is supported by terrorists supporting individuals, groups, and countries. ACAIR, June 14, 2003, Press Release.
f. Why oppose CAIR? CAIR has proven links to, and was founded by Islamic terrorists. CAIR is not in the United States to promote the civil rights of Muslims. CAIR is here to make radical Islam the dominant religion in the United States and to convert our country to an Islamic theocracy along the lines of Iran. In addition, CAIR has managed, through adroit manipulation of the popular media, to present itself as the “moderate" face of Islam in the United States. CAIR succeeded to the point that many of its members are not aware that CAIR actively supports terrorists and terrorist-supporting groups and nations. In addition, CAIR receives direct funding from Islamic terrorists supporting countries. ACAIR, May 29, 2003, Press Release.
g. CAIR has proven links to, and was FOUNDED by, Islamic terrorists. ACAIR, May 29, 2003 Press Release.
h. CAIR is a fundamentalist organization dedicated to the overthrow of the United States Constitution and the installation of an Islamic theocracy in America. ACAIR, April 16, 2003 Press Release.
They recently issued an amended complaint. Here is what they're now complaining about, in total:
A. Let their be no doubt that CAIR is a terrorist supporting front organization…ACAIR, July 4, 2003, Press Release.
B. [CAIR is an]…seeks to overthrow constitutional government in the United States…ACAIR, July 4, 2003, Press Release.
(Click to see full size)
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Bush gets tough with Axis of Evil weapon peddlers
The US is planning to freeze the US assets of any company globally
that conducts business with specific front companies in Iran, North Korea and Syria. If you do business with them, all your US assets are belong to us. The Russians and the Chinese are the immediate target; all the right characters are pissed off
about it. Good move.
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Whiny Ecoterrorist Cowers in Canada
This crybaby terrorist
doesn't want to come home and face the music.
(AP) - VANCOUVER, British Columbia-One of the FBI's most wanted fugitives, a suspected eco-terrorist known as Tre Arrow, told an extradition hearing Monday he was innocent and should be allowed to stay in Canada.
Arrow, born Michael Scarpitti, was a U.S. Green Party candidate for Congress in 2000 and is accused of participating in the 2001 firebombing of logging and cement trucks in Oregon. The FBI claims he is associated with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a group that has claimed responsibility for dozens of acts of destruction over the past few years.
"I am innocent of the charges the U.S. government is trying to pin on me," Arrow said in a statement at his extradition hearing before a British Columbia Supreme Court judge. "Just as many other activists have experienced, I am being targeted by the U.S. government and the FBI, not because I am guilty but because I have chosen to challenge the status quo."
How has this noble “activist" chosen to challenge the status quo? Why, like this, of course:
Prosecutor Rosellina Patillo said evidence from the United States Attorney in Oregon indicated Arrow was among four conspirators involved in the bombings of a gravel company and a logging company between April and June of 2001. The evidence comes from statements of Arrow's three coconspirators who have pleaded guilty to the bombings at a Mount Hood logging company.
The suspects intended to firebomb a U.S. Forest Service office, but abandoned the idea after they found the security system was too tight, Patillo said.
She said the Ross Island Gravel Company was targeted "because it was guilty of stealing soil from the earth." In that attack, three trucks were blown up and the damage was US$200,000. The second attack, on June 1, 2001, was against a Mount Hood logging company. They placed incendiary devices under seven vehicles, damaging three at a cost of US$50,000 (euro41,105).
She said that in each case, the incendiary device was a plastic container filled with gas; the fuse was a stick of incense with matches attached to it.
How militant of him. You'll love this part though:
The 30-year-old Arrow - who says the trees told him to change his name - contends he wouldn't get a fair trial in the United States because of the FBI's assertion that his alleged crimes are acts of terrorism.
Since when are the trees ordering humans to change our names? The sinister tree menace must be stopped at once. Why, there might be a tree hiding in your own backyard, stalking you, just waiting for the chance to attack. Wake up, AMERIKKKA! Humanity is doomed! Soon we will all have stupid hippy names like “Tre Arrow", and the trees will be beating us up for being stupid hippies.
The delusional, hallucinating arsonist faces up to 80 years. I hope they throw the book at him, and I hope it was made of trees.
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What the world thinks of us (like we care)
I don't know what the Pew Global Attitudes Project is but it has Madeleine Albright as co-chair (maybe she's there to provide statistical validity) and it conducted a survey to measure negative attitudes towards the U.S.
They surveyed 17,000 people in the United States and fifteen other countries and found that even China is better liked than we are. I guess that explains all those long lines in front of the Chinese embassies, everyone is trying to immigrate to Beijing.
In other surprising findings, India likes us and we are proud to be Americans almost as much as the Chinese are proud to be Chinese.
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Israel makes concessions to get back in US good graces
The Harpy parts won't be going back to China,
as the US demanded. And an Israeli delegation will be coming to the US to negotiate a memorandum of understanding detailing Israel's new commitment not to export weapons to countries the US doesn't want to have them. Good. The sooner this tempest in a teacup blows over, the better.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has bowed to U.S. pressure to cancel an arms deal with China and will impose tighter controls on its weapons exports in general, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday.
The dispute with the United States centers on Israel's sale of Harpy attack drones and other advanced technology to China which the
Pentagon fears could tilt the balance of power and make it difficult to defend Taiwan.
Agreeing to U.S. demands, Israel will not return Harpy spare parts that China sent to their Israeli manufacturer for upgrading, Haaretz said.
Israel, the newspaper said, also accepted a U.S. demand to implement the 34-nation Wassenaar Arrangement on export controls for conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz made the decisions ahead of a visit this week to Washington by an Israeli delegation that will negotiate a memorandum of understanding on Israeli weapons exports, Haaretz reported.
Israeli officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.
Last week, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom publicly apologized to Washington over arms exports to China, saying "things were done that were not acceptable to the Americans" and insisting Israel had not meant to harm U.S. interests.
Haaretz said China would likely seek compensation from Israel over its failure to return the attack drone spare parts and avoid future weapons deals with the Jewish state.
Washington torpedoed Israel's multi-billion dollar sale of Phalcon strategic airborne radar systems to China in 2000, citing concerns it could upset the regional balance of power.
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'I hate your country'
American students in Australia have been facing hostility, harassment and verbal abuse, prompting some of them to quit their university studies: Students quit over anti-US slurs
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Behind the Guantanamo ruckus
This important piece in FrontPage
by Rocco DiPippo exposes who's behind the endless war on America's terrorist detainment an interrogation facility at Guantanamo Bay. To nobody's surprise, it's an America-hater named Michael Ratner with funding by George Soros and the Tides Foundation. Ratner has actually said that he's on the side of the terrorists against America:
Obviously, there are many ethical lawyers and law firms that represent violent criminals and defend those with whom they may have deep moral and ideological disagreements – but Ratner is not one of them. “I don't usually take cases where I disagree with the politics of the people involved," he said in a 2002 interview, clarifying where he stands on anti-American terrorism.
The fifth column is alive and thriving.
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There is a dead horse to beat. I’ve tried to avoid getting on the bandwagon,but all that keeping myself quiet has done is aggravate the ulcer I got when my hubby was in Iraq.
So I’ve decided to let it out.
I don’t believe Dick Durbin’s apology. The main part of the reason I don’t believe it is that he never apologized for what he said, he apologized that we misunderstood him. Which is no apology whatsoever.
It has become the en vogue thing to do to say one supports the troops. Even Barbra Streisand says so, and Al Franken tours with the USO constantly. Lip service to the fighting men and women of this nation is de riguer in most speeches, political and otherwise.
The problem is that lip service is quite often all that it is - and Dick Durbin’s speeches would fall into that category.
You cannot accuse an administration of war crimes (and the Nazis, Stalinists, and Khmer Rouge used war crimes as a matter of everyday course) without also including in the penumbra of the accused those who carry out the orders. After all, if no one listened to Hitler, he would have just been some middle aged, anti-semitic crazy.
But people did listen. And I hold the soldiers who fought for Hitler’s Germany responsible for the crimes that the Nazis committed, too. I’m revolted by their uniform. A few weekends ago we visited a friend who had photos from part of her family that had recently been discovered upon the death of her mother. Included in those photos were pictures of a man in a Nazi military uniform (not SS). The pictures of this man I had never met and knew nothing about made my blood run cold. They made me physically ill. In the ensuing discussion, my friend and her husband said that they had experienced the same reaction.
It was a gut level thing - a visceral denial of the banality of evil. The photos showed this man with his family, smiling and celebrating. Playing with children. Obviously quite the family man.
But he was supporting a government that was systematically murdering Jews by the millions. And he had to know it.
So when I hear someone referring to the Nazi like behavior of the United States, I have more than once broken into their diatribe with this, “So, you are saying that my husband is a war criminal.�?
Inevitably there is sputtering and denial. But I keep repeating it. “My husband has interrogated people. My friends do the same. Dick Cheney is not patrolling in Baghdad, and George Bush is not taking care of the day to day at Gitmo. It is one thing to disagree with their policies, but when you accuse them of war crimes when others are carrying the rifles, your blanket condemnation applies to those in the uniform, too. You just called my husband a war criminal.�?
And that’s the truth of it.
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Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester's Silver Star
A woman hadn't received a Silver Star for valor since WWII,
but Leigh Ann Hester finally ended that drought. She's a brave fighter, here's why she was recognized:
Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester of the 617th Military Police Company, a National Guard unit out of Richmond, Ky., received the Silver Star, along with two other members of her unit, Staff Sgt. Timothy Nein and Spc. Jason Mike, for their actions during an enemy ambush on their convoy. Other members of the unit also received awards.
Hester's squad was shadowing a supply convoy March 20 when anti-Iraqi fighters ambushed the convoy. The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. Hester led her team through the "kill zone" and into a flanking position, where she assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 grenade-launcher rounds. She and Nein, her squad leader, then cleared two trenches, at which time she killed three insurgents with her rifle.
When the fight was over, 27 insurgents were dead, six were wounded, and one was captured.
Hester, 23, who was born in Bowling Green, Ky., and later moved to Nashville, Tenn., said she was surprised when she heard she was being considered for the Silver Star.
"I'm honored to even be considered, much less awarded, the medal," she said.
Being the first woman soldier since World War II to receive the medal is significant to Hester. But, she said, she doesn't dwell on the fact. "It really doesn't have anything to do with being a female," she said. "It's about the duties I performed that day as a soldier."
Well done, soldier. As for the 27 terrorists, their war is over now.
A thimbleful of cognac to Pete (Alois).
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'The absence of freedom and the absence of liberty'
Condi Rice delivered what was described as "some of the toughest talk in the Arab world from a secretary of state"
during her tour to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Good for her. The Saudis described her comments as "meaningless"
, no big surprise there. I wonder how the princes felt having to listen to a black woman criticising them about women's rights and dissidents' arrests. Oh, the humiliation! Heh :-)
P.S. I read in some op-ed yesterday that Condi should have driven her own car in Saudi Arabia as a sign of support for women's rights and so on. As much as I support women's rights, I thought that was a silly and demeaning suggestion, the Secretary of State driving her own car.
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surveys the worrisome developments in Chavez's Venezuela and the steps he's taking to amplify his megalomaniacal pretensions, and sounds a warning call. When indeed will this menacing dangerous lunatic be swatted?
Chavez wants to rule an oil-rich empire consisting of Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama, and destabilize everywhere else. He's been providing finance to destabilizing democracies in Ecuador and Bolivia. He's got friendly relations with North Korea and Iran, and boasts about Iran's help for his nuclear program. He's squandering his nation's oil wealth on weapons to destabilize the region. Chavez has big plans for America. We should have big plans for him, too.
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Pentagon's Di Rita confirms Israel freeze-out
It's official now. The Pentagon is putting the heat on high
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Mike Reagan & The Whining Liberals
It took less time for the 3rd Infantry Division and the Marines to destroy the Medina Republican Guard than it took Ted Kennedy to call the police after his Oldsmobile sank at Chappaquiddick.Mike Reagan: Democrats playing fast and loose with facts
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Argumentum ad Nazium
Dick Durbin's idiotic remarks
brought to mind this wonderful little post I ran across the other day, the zombie of Hitler's corpse is eating people's brains
. Via Eric the Unread
Whenever someone makes a Hitler or Nazi comparison, be it "Bush=Hitler" or "Hillary=Hitler" or "Whomever=Hitler" or a questionable Holocaust comparison, don't just accept it or shrug and walk away. Pin down the person making the analogy. Ask him what, specifically, he means! Make him justify the analogy with history, facts, and logic. Ask him specifically what similarities and what historical events lead him to make that analogy. At least 95% of the time, you'll get either no answer (and you'll hopefully make the idiot making the analogy very uncomfortable); a meaningless "because X is as bad as Hitler," "because X got us in a war," or "X is like the Holocaust because lots of people are being killed" kind of an answer or an obviously fallacious answer like Charlie Rangel's or Abe Foxman's. The other 5% of the time (or usually way less), you may get something as thoughtful as David Neiwart's essays (not as long, of course). If interviewers who encounter such analogies from politicians they're interviewing would consistently, calmly, and insistently ask followup questions demanding justification and pointedly asking why the politician being interviewed chose the Hitler/Nazi analogy rather than another, a lot of this silliness would disappear. It wouldn't stop the bad analogies in political speeches, but it might make TV and radio political punditry just a little less annoying by making politicians acutely aware that they will be called on it when they use Nazi comparisons. At the very least, it would make politicians making such overheated analogies squirm on the air a bit, and that's always a good thing. In fact, maybe we could even have pundits invoke Godwin's Law.
I love perspective.
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Albertans work hard…
almost as hard as Americans! I found this article fascinating, in the Edmonton Journal.
I always thought all
Canadians worked a lot like Americans. Turns out they don't, and what they have to show for it is higher unemployment rates and lower incomes. Albertans work as hard as Americans do, and make almost as much money. Good for them.
Even in the late 1980s, at the very depths of the province's decade-long depression, while staggering under the ill effects of the National Energy Program and the halving of the world oil price, unemployment rarely rose above 10 per cent. In fact, it seldom stayed long above eight per cent.
In May of this year, it was a staggeringly low 3.5 per cent.
I had public policy professors at university in the 1970s who assured my classmates and me such a rate was theoretically impossible. It was below the effective "zero unemployment" rate.
Albertans have accomplished all of this despite the largest proportional influx of new workers of any province, and occasionally even the largest influx in raw numbers, too.
The largest factor in our success is our work ethic. We work the most hours per capita. We have the highest productivity levels.
And while the national labour-force participation rate -- the percentage of working-age adults who chose to work -- is currently 67.3 per cent, Alberta's is 72.7 per cent. It typically hovers around 73 per cent. No other province's level even comes close, historically or currently. Alberta, in fact, is the only province or territory with a rate above 70 per cent. Manitoba is next at 68.7 per cent, with Ontario in third at 68.5 per cent. What can I say, we like to work and it is reflected in our economic success.
Hard work pays.
In 1990, Alberta and Ontario had per capita provincial GDP of 117 per cent of the national average and 112 per cent, respectively. Now, ours is 140 per cent and theirs is just 105.
Indeed, we are now the only province with income levels approaching those in the U.S.
I wonder, though, if all this isn't also beginning to show up in national politics? Reluctance to change increases among voters as their fear levels rise.
Perhaps Ontarians are wedded to the Liberals because they are no longer far more prosperous than the rest of Canada.
While they are angered by the Liberals' numerous scandals and blatant waste in public spending, at least the Grits are the devils they know. They know the Grits will fleece them, yet they believe Paul Martin and his crew won't try anything bold that might make things worse for Ontario.
It's worth thinking about.
Yes, it is.
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A traitor comes home
The Guardian: US sergeant who fled to North Korea returns home for first visit in 40 years
Less than a year ago Charles Jenkins would not have dared to contemplate a trip to his homeland. To do so could have meant arrest, court martial and several years in prison for the former staff sergeant, who abandoned his army unit and fled to North Korea in 1965.
But today Mr Jenkins, 65, will leave Tokyo for the US as a free man to visit his ailing mother, whom he has not seen for more than 40 years.
He will be accompanied by his wife, Hitomi Soga, one of at least a dozen Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang agents during the 1970s and 80s, and their two daughters.
The trip represents a remarkable change of fortune for Mr Jenkins. Until last year he had been living in North Korea, unsure of whether he would ever be reunited with his wife, who had been allowed to return to Japan with four other abductees in 2002.
After a flurry of high-level negotiations between Tokyo and Washington, a physically weak Mr Jenkins brought his daughters to Japan last July, after being persuaded that he would not have to serve a lengthy jail term in the US.
After spending several weeks recuperating in hospital, he gave himself up late last year, donning a uniform and reporting for duty at Camp Zama, the US army's headquarters in Japan.
An army court martial gave him a token sentence of 30 days' confinement at Yokosuka naval base for deserting his post and aiding the enemy.
The couple and their daughters, Mika, 22, and Brinda, 19, have been living in Ms Soga's hometown on Sado, a quiet, windswept island on the Japan Sea coast.
The four left Sado yesterday and were due to spend the night in Tokyo before flying to Washington DC on a week-long trip. Mr Jenkins asked the media to respect their privacy. "We would like to travel and visit my family in peace as this time is a very personal matter."
As well as visiting his mother in a North Carolina nursing home, Mr Jenkins will introduce Ms Soga, 46, and his daughters to a family they have never met, including his sister and a nephew who flew to Japan last year to plead for clemency for his uncle.
Ms Soga was a 19-year-old trainee nurse when she and her mother were abducted on Sado on their way home from a shopping trip in 1978.
The couple met in North Korea when Mr Jenkins taught Ms Soga English and they married in 1980. Though he appeared in propaganda films for the Stalinist state, Mr Jenkins insists that he despised the regime.
He's a frail old man and all that, but honestly, he got off light. Though I suppose that having to live in North Korea all this time was a pretty good punishment for the douchebag.
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Israel in hot water with Rummy and Condi
The US has quietly imposed sanctions on Israel
three months ago, ending cooperation on several weapons development projects (including the Joint Strike Fighter), refusing to sell night-vision equipment, and insisting that four Ehud Barak-era ministry of defence officials be fired for lying to the US about sales of advanced Harpy attack drones to China. Israel has been trying to defuse
the year-old rift with the Pentagon, but the US refused to talk with the officials assigned to negotiate, prompting Israel to name a new one. I hope this situation ends soon.
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Elephants dancing, delicately
The Presidential Commission on Intelligence said CIA-FBI turf wars were seriously compromising intelligence operations
, and put most of the blame on the FBI. Now comes word that they've reached a new understanding delimiting their turfs and areas of authority.
WASHINGTON, June 12 (Reuters) - The CIA and the FBI have for the first time in two decades reached a new wide-ranging agreement on how to coordinate their intelligence activities in a post-Sept. 11 world of increasingly blurred divisions of duty, officials say.
A classified memorandum of understanding, which is under review by senior Bush administration officials, redefines the relationship by which the two agencies have operated worldwide since the Cold War era of the 1980s, officials said.
The document, which was jointly negotiated several weeks ago, is expected to be submitted for approval to the new director of national intelligence, John Negroponte. It is also awaiting the signatures of CIA Director Porter Goss and FBI Director Robert Mueller.
A congressional official who was briefed on the agreement by CIA and FBI representatives said the memorandum marked a major step toward implementing the interagency coordination and information-sharing reforms enshrined in two main post-Sept. 11 laws -- the USA Patriot Act and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
"It deals with who's responsible for recruiting and running human assets both in the United States and overseas," the official said without elaborating.
The heart of the agreement appears to address questions of jurisdiction in cases where individuals of interest to FBI and CIA agents cross international boundaries, the congressional official said.
"If you have a scientist from Botswana who's an expert in biological weapons, and we know he's going to visit New York, do you have the FBI approach him for recruitment or do you have the CIA? That's the kind of thing it addresses," the official said.
"They have a pretty good idea of who does what, where. But they want to make sure it's all properly coordinated so that if the CIA has a counterterrorism asset coming into the United States, they can make sure the FBI doesn't arrest him."
CIA and FBI reach new agreement on intelligence
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We have Al Libbi
Slightly old news,
but apparently (to my surprise) Pakistan has handed over Al Libbi, and he's in the US! I'm surprised because he was involved in several attempts on Musharraf's life.
ISN SECURITY WATCH (09/06/2005) - Abu Faraj al-Libbi, an alleged top-ranking al-Qaida suspect arrested by Pakistani forces in May, was handed over to the US last week, Pakistani officials told ISN Security Watch on Wednesday.
“We have completed our investigations, and he has given useful information, but there is no good reason to try him in the country," Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan said.
Al-Libbi was captured on 2 May after a shootout with Pakistani security officials in the city of Mardan in the Northwest Frontier Province.
The decision to extradite al-Libbi to the US came as a surprise, as the Libyan national is alleged to have masterminded two assassination attempts on Musharraf’s life in 2003. Earlier in May, Pakistani officials said al-Libbi would stand trial for those charges in Pakistan.
Although the military spokesman refused to reveal where US authorities were holding al-Libbi, official sources believe he has likely been taken to a detention center somewhere in Afghanistan, from where government jets routinely transfer high-profile prisoner to the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
However, Colonel James Yonts, the US military spokesman in Afghanistan, told the Associated Press in an email interview on Wednesday that al-Libbi had been taken directly from Pakistan to the US and not to Afghanistan. He offered no further details.
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Catch and release program: 100,000 “Other Than Mexicans" last eight months
Compare this number
with last year's total
, and it's clear that the numbers of “other than Mexican" illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican border are rising explosively. And what do the Border Patrol do? Release them on their own recognizance, never to be seen again.
WASHINGTON - Border control agents arrested nearly 100,000 non-Mexicans illegally crossing into the U.S. through Mexico over the past eight months, and have let the vast majority of them go free on bail, immigration officials told a U.S. Senate panel Tuesday.
About 70 percent of so-called "other-than-Mexican" illegal aliens captured along the Southern border are released on their own recognizance to appear at a future deportation hearing, Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar told the Senate Judiciary Committee. Few ever show up.
The rise in non-Mexican illegal immigrants captured while crossing the Mexican border has been of increasing concern to lawmakers since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Many view the trend with alarm, seeing a potential backdoor for terrorists.
"Those of us who represent states along the border have long been concerned with the potential for terrorists to smuggle themselves across the border," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona said during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Increasingly, he said, illegal immigrants "come from countries all over the world, most of the time flying to Mexico and then sneaking into the country on foot. We do not know if they intend to simply find work or engage in acts of terror."
Meanwhile, because many of the "other than Mexican" arrestees come from countries like Brazil where they are not required to have a visa to fly into Mexico, they can't be easily sent back to their countries.
Aguilar said the dearth of detention beds (there are only about 20,000) is a prime reason for the rise in the number of non-Mexican illegals released on bail. Just last year the recognizance rate was about 47 percent, he said.
"Definitely detention would in fact equal deterrence," he said.
C. Stewart Verdery Jr., the former Department of Homeland Security point man on border control issues who now works for a Republican consulting firm, said fixing the problem will take big money.
"This is not going to take some kind of plus-up or shuffling of money around. If you want to build an expansive system that can handle the influx, it will take a massive amount of money," he said.
He also advocated expanding the expedited removal process through border agents can deport undocumented aliens without hearings. That, he said, will cut down on the number of illegal immigrants released on bail who fail to show up for deportation proceedings.
"It will end the perception that we currently have a catch-and-release policy," he said.
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Sean Penn in Tehran
It looks like the cops were fed up with Sean Penn, driving around drunk with loaded guns and beating his girl friends, so they sent
him to Iran, hoping he would stay away from the trouble for a while.
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To Win the War on Terrorism
I have been after my brother to write something for a post since he got back from Iraq. In the talks that we have had about politics, war, and the state of the world since then, we seem to be in agreement that part of the problem in this war is that the American people have it too cushy, too soft, and aren't trying as hard as they can for victory. With such an (to us) obvious way to strike a major blow at terrorists through their funding (imagine the horror of the Sauds if we suddenly stop needing their oil!), one has to wonder first, why we haven't done this yet; and second, why we are not advocating this to everyone we know. Our grandparents gave up driving, pantyhose, grew victory gardens, went meatless some days of the week - and all to win a war. Can we have as much fortitude? We should start now. We cannot lose this war, we dare not lose this war, and it is in our best interest to win as quickly as possible.
Now - here is my brother's idea on how we can really win the war - we AT HOME! We who wonder what we can do! Here's the blow we can strike. Is this too much to ask when there are those willing to die for us?
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Chavez preparing to seize US oil companies
You ever hear of a 50% tax hike, retroactive to four years ago?
Chavez seems to be planning to seize American oil companies' assets in Venezuela. Not exactly a surprising move from the man who expressed admiration
for Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks and tried to open a direct channel to him. He also transferred 1 million dollars to the Taliban, 900,000 of it earmarked for Al Qaeda's moving expenses. We should have whacked him then, and the longer we wait to whack him, the worse his behavior is going to get.
Half a glass of Santa Clara Mexican vanilla milkshake-flavored liqueur to Ed Mahmoud Abu Al Kahool Martyrs Brigades for this story.
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All they have to do is say 'terrorism'
Amtrak forgets to serve a guy a meal he requests so he makes bomb threats forcing police to stop the train for six hours and search it. Some other idiot, upset that he was replaced in some project, sends an anonymous letter to the FBI accusing the person who replaced him of planning to carry out a biological attack in the U.S. And the biggest idiot of all had an argument with his wife and then called her on his way to Morocco saying he had been kidnapped by Arabs who were forcing him to fly to Casablanca. What happened to just egging people's cars when you got mad at them?Screwy terror tales
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Iraq War Coverage: Talk Show Hosts Head to Baghdad
From Move America Forward
Radio talk show hosts will be broadcasting their shows live from Baghdad, Iraq. In an effort to shed light on the "whole Iraq story," radio talk show hosts from across the United States are traveling to Baghdad from July 7 to 17, 2005.
Move America Forward (website: http://www.MoveAmericaForward.org), a non-partisan not-for-profit organization, is coordinating the trip for the talk show hosts with the U.S. Armed Forces Central Command. Melanie Morgan and Howard Kaloogian, Co-Chairs of the organization, and Board Member Buzz Patterson will be leading the delegation of talk show hosts to Kuwait and then on to Iraq. Morgan, who also has her own radio show on KSFO radio in San Francisco, will also be broadcasting live from Baghdad.
"Move America Forward's charter is to support our troops," Lt. Col. Buzz Patterson (Ret.) and host of The Buzz Cut of the Rightalk Radio Network said. "It's time our guys had their say, and we're going over to Iraq to give our troops a chance to tell the world about all the hard work their doing, and the successes they're having."
Move America Forward is currently supporting a "Cookies and Coffee for the Troops" program. Gourmet coffee and cookies stamped with the military branch insignias are sent to men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan with a supporting message from an American sponsor. The talk show hosts will be bringing a large shipment of cookies to
distribute directly to the troops in the field.
For more information on Cookies and Coffee for the Troops: Cookies and Gourmet Coffee for Our Troops
Talk show hosts who will be making the trek to Baghdad include nationally syndicated talk show host, Dennis Prager (based at NewsTalk 870 KRLA - Los Angeles, CA); nationally syndicated talk show host Lars Larson (based from NewsRadio 750 KXL in Portand, OR); Melanie Morgan of powerhouse KSFO 560 AM (San Francisco); Mark Williams of Sacramento, CA's #1-rated radio station, KFBK 1530; Michael Graham of NewsTalk 630 WMAL (Washington, DC); Martha Zoller of Newstalk 550 WDUN (Atlanta-Gainesville, GA) as well as the RighTalk Radio Network; and Lt. Col. Buzz Patterson, host of "The Buzz Cut" on the RighTalk Radio Network.
"We're looking forward to taking our medium to Baghdad and blowing the lid off of the other half of the Iraq story that the mainstream media refuses to cover-success, progress, democracy and freedom," said Morgan.
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'Tough and strong, like a man'
The post-Taliban Afghani Constitution guarantees equality between the sexes. The post-Taliban Afghani Constitution guarantees equality between the sexes. The post-Taliban Afghani Constitution guarantees equality between the sexes. The post-Taliban Afghani Constitution guarantees equality between the sexes. The post-Taliban Afghani Constitution guarantees equality between the sexes. The post-Taliban Afghani Constitution guarantees equality between the sexes.
Sorry for the repetition but doesn't it sound wonderful? In all the criticism and the hand-wringing about wars and such we sometimes forget the good things.Trading burqas for camouflage
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New Jersey puts domestic terrorists on trial
In my vegan days I had sympathy for SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty). I still think Huntingdon Life Sciences are inexcusably brutal and inhumane to their animal test subjects. But nothing justifies freelance terrorism. SHAC is not the law, and their domestic terrorist tactics do not belong in a civil society. Of course, they're whining about the Bush administration silencing dissent. I think we can all agree that most of their actions fall outside the bounds of what any society would consider acceptable dissent. Throw the book at them.
Their tactics included invading offices, damaging property and stealing documents. They also charged with physical assault - including spraying cleaning fluid into the eyes of employees - smashing the windows of their homes and threatening to kill or injure members of their families, prosecutors said.
The group also targeted other companies that did business with Huntingdon. Those firms were swamped with telephone calls and email blitzes intended to clog their computer systems, the indictment said.
Other alleged incidents include overturning a Huntingdon employee's car in the driveway of his New Jersey home and the destruction of putting greens at the Meadowbrook Golf Club in Long Island, New York, where some Huntington employees held memberships.
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The Left distorts Zarqawi
There are no terrorists, just misunderstood freedom fighters. Bush is the real terrorist!Seymour Hersh says Zarqawi doesn't even exist.
That's awfully laughable. Tell it to Nick Berg.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may be a “composite figure" and a propaganda creation of either Iraq’s Baathist insurgency or the U.S. government.
Leaving aside Hersh's irresponsible lunacy for the moment, Media Matters© for® America™ (the George Soros-funded employer of David Brock, Atrios and Oliver Willis) criticises a CNN reporter for mentioning Zarqawi as the link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, calling it a "discredited" theory. Actually, it's anything but. Iyad Allawi
doesn't think so. Neither does King Abdullah
. But the monkeys-for-hire at Media™ Matters© for America® know better. As Donald Luskin has said, nothing that Media Matters for America says matters.
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bigel, I found you a toy! Nuclear Weapon Effects Calculator
This interactive tool illustrates the devastating effects of a nuclear weapon detonation in selected U.S. cities. The size of the weapon and the height at which it is detonated are the two main factors which affect the range of destruction. The size of the bomb can be chosen by selecting the weapon's yield, as measured in kilotons (KT) or megatons (MT) of TNT equivalent. There is also the option of having the bomb delivered using an automobile at ground level or using an aircraft flying at an altitude which produces the widest area of destruction.
Red Circle: Intense heat from the explosion will likely cause widespread fires within this region.
Blue Circle: Most homes are completely destroyed and stronger commercial buildings will be severely damaged due to the high pressure blast wave in this region.
Yellow Circle: Moderate damage to buildings causing some risk to people due to flying debris is caused by the blast wave in this region.
For those interested in the technical details, this tool is based upon data obtained from The Effects of Nuclear Weapons. The blue and yellow contours mark overpressures of 5 psi and 2 psi, respectively. The blast radius scales with the weapon's yield as a cube root law. Choosing to deliver the bomb by aircraft assumes it is flying at an altitude which maximizes the size of the 5 psi contour. The red contour marks the region in which the thermal flux is 15 cal/cm2 or higher. This is likely to cause many materials to begin combustion, which can then spread into much larger fires. This model, however, does not take into account obstructions which may block some of the heat radiating from the fireball.
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People who should have died in jail
31 years after he crossed paths with and killed park ranger Kenneth Patrick, Veronza Bowers Jr. will be leaving prison a free man. Unfortunately for Kenneth, there's no such thing as a parole board that can let you out of the grave after 31 years. Prison is too good for some people.
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Venezuela Coup Attempt?
Is Hugo Chavez dead?
Babalu Blog has updates. You're the boss. Need the info.
A Cuban cigar and a Cuba Libre to Frank IBC for the link.
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President Bush says it best: We honor every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman who gave some of the best years of their lives to the service of the United States and stood ready to give life, itself, on our behalf. Watch this tribute
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Surging on short notice
Five Navy ships carrying 2800 sailors were ordered to surge
on very short notice to the Balkans and Middle East to support Global War on Terror operations, as part of the Navy's relatively new Fleet Response Plan to keep the fleet at a high state of readiness and more rapidly deploy it. The Fleet Response Plan got its first workout last year when seven aircraft carrier strike groups
were simultaneously surged in an awesome demonstration of US power and global reach. It was called Summer Pulse '04.
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Saddam's Family to buy Al Jazeera?
Unreliable Russian sources say yes! Главные ново�?ти дн�?: политика, �?кономика, прои�?ше�?тви�?
S. Hussein’s Family Is Buying Al Jazeera TV Channel
Saddam Hussein’s family intends to buy the controlling share of the largest Arab TV Channel Al Jazeera, as reported by the TV company NTV.
It has become known that there are three companies in the Virgin Islands which were registered (through frontmen) in the name of the former Iraqi president’s wife and two daughters. Hussein’s family intends to purchase 55% of Al Jazeera shares through these companies. The approximate price of this package–180 million dollars.
It is noteworthy that Hussein’s family resides in Qatar, which is also the address for Al Jazeera’s main headquarters.
It should also be mentioned that Al Jazeera is known as the “mouthpiece" for terrorist and extremist organizations. This channel’s transmission is banned in many countries. Even the Iraqi government closed the company’s headquarters in 2004, after having accused it for provoking violence.
Nevertheless, Washington in no way limits the company’s broadcasting, certain aspects of which can be called direct terrorist propaganda. Moreover, Al Jazeera’s broadcasting is achieved by means of a satellite all over North America, under the name of MRN.
Al Jazeera’s satellite channel has been financed and controlled from its inception in 1996 by the government of Qatar. Negligent amount of financial revenue is obtained by journalists through advertising, sponsorship and subscriptions in Europe and North America. Al Jazeera is very popular in Arab countries, where its audience comprises approximately 50 million people.
Three thimblefuls of cognac and my gratitude to packen for the translation.
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More bizarreness from Seymour Hersh
Watch Seymour Hersh (128k
). I'd never seen him speak before, but he looks like the biggest liar I ever saw. His entire body language screams "I'm lying!", doesn't it? He won't face the audience head on, he sweats and has all these nervous tics-and this is a friendly audience! I love how you can see him pausing before deciding he's gonna go ahead with some really blatant lie, as if to debate "am I really gonna say this? Yeah, I guess I'll say it". This is the transcript
and the guy really doesn't belong to the same reality as you and me. Check this part out:
Well, they're not counting now. American casualties are discounted in the newspapers. We have had an awful lot of people, more than a dozen die in the last few days alone in Iraq. American casualties are back up. And it's not a major story. Once in a while it gets to be a story. And so, they put out -- they do their own sort of accounting. The one way they balance the bad news is they have raids. And we suddenly show us on the offensive. And part of it is what the information -- it's an operation, it's a public relations. It's a strategic deception in a way. I’m not suggesting the raids are not there. I’m not suggesting they may even be finding people. God knows who they find. But clearly, one reason they're being emphasized is to detract from what's going on, which is a steady increase in the insurgency and the resistance.
They're not doing raids to destroy the Al Qaeda in Iraq network and win this war. Nooo. They're doing them to distract
you from the real
news, which is the body count! Hersh, you idiot, we don't hear anything but
the damn body count in the media. That's why we got guys like Bill Roggio, Chester, and Wretchard covering such stories as Operation Matador, Operation New Market and the upcoming Operation Thunder in such depth. It's not something we can get anywhere else, and you're part of the reason why.
And what happened is after the election of January 30, the elections so widely hailed by this President and the government, which as we now know has had very little consequence on the reality of what's going on on the ground, as we move towards an open civil war there, but after the election, there were orders put out to change the reporting requirements on incidents. In other words, you had to have a serious American fatality or casualty, not necessarily death, but a serious incident, to get reported. So just a mine going off and somebody being lightly wounded wouldn't get reported. So the numbers went down right away, suggesting that somehow the election had worked.
someone was telling the media to stop reporting this garbage, but it's sheer fabrication on Hersh's part (as is most of his reporting). Let me give a little attention to this "as we move toward open civil war" line. The upcoming Operation Thunder, as Bill Roggio reports
, involves a good 40,000 Iraqi troops
rooting out terrorists. The Iraqis are getting stronger, and the terrorists are growing weaker. They can field 40,000 men now? Sounds great.
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I don't know how it is for you but for me, lack of prejudice means I can feel free to hate a person regardless of his/her race, sexual preference, religion and so on. In other words, just because you're (insert group here) doesn't mean I have to like you!
It took me a few years to understand that. As many of my fellow immigrant comrades, I hadn't really met any blacks or known much about black culture until I came to the States. Was I prejudiced? Of course I was. I felt tenderness towards this entire group of people I didn't even know because I thought blacks had grown up or lived in ghettos, that whites were generally mean to blacks (bad Americans!) and I thought the cops were extra cruel to them. I believed that most black people were civil rights activists and that they were very very poor. I also believed that blacks resented whites because they've been so mistreated by them and that whites resented blacks because er... because we're racist by nature? What can I say, I was a college student and I had a few years of anti-American propaganda under my belt.
I eventually made friends who were black, actually they made friends with me, I was too shy and too new here to make friends with anyone, and they gave me my first exposure to what America is all about: it's not even about equal opportunity, a lot of minorities didn't start with equal opportunity. I think it's about having the freedom to become who you want to become. Like my beloved Condi, a little black girl growing up in racially segregated Alabama, becoming a Stanford Provost and who (please, please, please God!) may become President of the U.S. someday. What other country could this happen in?
Oh and back to equal-opportunity hate: I hate that guy with the funny hair, Al Sharpton. I don't care if he's black.
In the stereotype busting film "Crash," two young blacks come out of a restaurant steaming mad. In the course of their stroll down the sidewalk one of them claims that a waitress ignored them, then gave them lousy service, that the whites in the restaurant gave them hostile stares, and that when a couple passed them on the street the wife locked arms with her husband for fear they'd mug them. In his angry tirade, he covered the wide gamut of myths, stereotypes and negative perceptions that whites supposedly have about blacks. Crash Course on Black Stereotypes of Whites
While "Crash" pierces and pokes fun at racial stereotypes, it's the black perceptions about those stereotypes that make the film especially compelling. Many blacks take it as an article of faith that that most whites are hopelessly racist. A comprehensive Harvard University opinion poll in 2002 found that the racial attitudes of many whites about blacks are tightly enshrouded in stereotypes. The poll reinforced the fervent belief of many blacks that white racially disdain them. But it's hardly that simple.
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Unholy Shenanigans in Louisiana
Did you know that Louisiana is the only state with a death penalty for child molesters? You'll be happy to hear this
happened there, then...
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A piece of candy
From aridog's comment
: Do you know what the most popular thing we send to our own cadre in "care packages" is? Candy for the kids they meet. We ship it by the 40 lb box regularly. Most, donated by compassionate merchants.
Click on each photo for a larger view and read the narrative at Michael's blog, A day in Iraq
(a thimbleful of cognac to the unsigned comrade who fed the hyperlinkopotamus)
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Waiting for the Americans
Staff Sgt. Lanham, a medic in Iraq, thinks people don't like the phrase "winning hearts and minds" anymore. I'm not one of those people, I think winning hearts and minds is the most important mission of all and what he and his crew are doing deserves our attention, recognition and appreciation.
SKHARTIAT, Iraq — Wish as he might, Capt. Jon Christensen can’t cure them all. But if nothing else, he can help alleviate their discomfort.
Time and again, the 36-year-old physician’s assistant and his crew of medics from 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division visit impoverished towns and villages that pepper Ninevah Province to bring medical supplies and knowledge that, if even for a short time, dissolve the aches of arthritis, burden of birth defects, hurt of heart disease.
“The thing we’re doing is trying to win the hearts and minds," said Staff Sgt. Chuck Lanham, 43. “I know people don’t like that phrase anymore, but there’s no simpler way to describe it."
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Some of the most famous buildings in Washington, including the White House, are deeply marked by Freemasonry, the brotherhood that goes back to the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, says a new exhibit.
The show is called "The Initiated Eye: Secrets, Symbols, Freemasonry and the Architecture of Washington D.C." It opened to the public Wednesday.
Peter Waddell, 49, a history painter born in New Zealand, contributed 21 pictures to the show. Now an American citizen, he puts emphasis on George Washington, shown as he dons his ritual Masonic apron on the way to lay the cornerstone of the Capitol in 1792. Washington and 14 of his successors have been Freemasons, down through Lyndon Johnson.
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We're all Jews (Mazel Tov, Everyone!)
Council on Foreign Relations report: Muslim World Largely Anti-American
The report, by Charney Research, is based on 14 focus groups conducted last December and January among college-educated men and women in Egypt, Morocco and Indonesia.
Anger at U.S. foreign policy and at the U.S. government dominated spontaneous reactions in all three countries.
Many young Muslims said they admired Osama bin Laden, while views of President Bush were uniformly negative. All focus group members rejected U.S. views of the war in Iraq, saying the United States invaded on a false premise to further its own regional goals.
Anti-Semitic stereotypes also were noted. Focus group members saw the United States and Israel as synonymous and estimated the proportion of Jews in the U.S. population at up to 85 percent; it is 2 percent.
The report found negative opinions of the United States are taking a toll on U.S. companies, and that amounts of U.S. aid were massively underestimated; not one person in any focus group knew the U.S. is the world's largest donor by dollar amount.
"Most Egyptians and Indonesians put U.S. support for their countries over 10 years in millions; the correct figures were $7.3 billion and $1 billion, respectively," the authors said.
And these are college-educated people.
Even though the report recommends that America publicises more the amount of aid it gives, I think it should be the other way around. It's in bad taste for someone to publicise what they give, good manners dictate that the recipient shows their appreciation by acknowledging the help they've received. In the case of these nations, even their own citizens don't know the truth.
Maybe we should make aid dependent on the condition that the recipient nation runs television ads: "This year, the Great Satan gave us $3 billion! Go buy food, everyone!"
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How Jimmy Carter Sold Out South Koreans' Fight For Democracy
Another account of Jimmy Carter's misjudgment in the late 70's: according to NY Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez, while Carter was playing his Tom and Jerry game with Khomeini, some 2000 South Korean students and human right activists were slaughtered by brutal dictator Gen. Chun Doo in the city of Kwangju.
Posing the human rights gestures for public media was apparently all Mr. Carter could do in that time for South Korean activists.
But fearing a spinning SK, he continued to support Gen. Chun Doo and his excessive use of special forces to crush down pro-democracy movements in Kwangju and other cities. Read the whole thing inside. Freedom bid that shames us
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More effrontery from Mexico
Mexico to Send Protest Letter to U.S. - Yahoo! News
MEXICO CITY - Mexico will send a diplomatic letter to the United States protesting the extension of a wall along the U.S.-California border, officials said Friday.
Ruben Aguilar, a spokesman for President Vicente Fox, said the president would also continue to pressure the U.S. government to approve a migration accord that would allow more migrants to work legally north of the border.
President Bush proposed a temporary work program last year, but it has stalled amid opposition in Congress.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said Thursday that Fox had instructed him to send the diplomatic letter with the message that the wall's construction was "unacceptable and not a solution."
Then why don't you smart guys find a solution?
A corrugated metal wall — dubbed the "Tortilla Wall" — goes all around the edge of Tijuana, but a second and more substantial layer of barriers that was built behind the first one that is incomplete and, among other things, does not stretch out into the Pacific. The measures passed this week allow for the completion of that second layer of barriers.
The upcoming letter will be Mexico's first formal protest of new U.S. immigration regulations that require states to verify that people who apply for a driver's license are in the country legally.
Can I go to Mexico illegally and get a driver's license? I doubt it.
The rules also make it harder for migrants to gain amnesty, and easier to override environmental laws to build a barrier along the Mexican border in California.
The new provisions were signed by Bush on Wednesday and threaten to unravel recently patched relations between the United States and Mexico.
"We hope it doesn't make things worse than they already are, which is the obvious anger that building walls is not the way to resolve things along the border," Derbez said.
Get angry. Who cares, Derbez? Maybe if we can stop you from exporting your poverty, you'll be forced to deal with the corruption in Mexico.
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Israeli terror victims will face Sami Al-Arian in court
A thimbleful of cognac to my kafir brother Patrick at Clarity & Resolve
for this incredibly cool
Some 100 survivors of terror attacks, relatives of those killed, police investigators, Magen David Adom paramedics, and ZAKA volunteers will testify in what American authorities regard as the most important terrorist trial in the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The group will be flown to Tampa, Florida early next month to serve as prosecution witnesses in the trial of four Arab-Americans accused of belonging to Islamic Jihad and raising funds to finance terror attacks, including some that took place in Israel.
The trial is due to start on June 6, with jury selection to begin this week.
The Israeli witnesses, flying to Florida at the expense of the U.S. government, include survivors of terror attacks going back to 1989, as well as relatives of some of those killed, eyewitnesses, doctors from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir in South Tel Aviv and police officers.
Dozens of boxes of documents in Hebrew are also being flown to the trial, for the prosecution's use.
Among the terror attacks for which the four are being charged are the Bus 405 incident, from 1989, when an Islamic Jihad man forced an Egged bus off the highway and into a ravine on the road to Jerusalem, the 1992 pitchfork attack at a training base, the 1995 double suicide bombings at Beit Lid, the 1996 bombing at the Dizengoff Center, and a terror attack in Karkur in 2002. More than 100 Israelis and Americans were killed in the attacks mentioned in the 118-page indictment.
The Israelis will be asked to testify about their experiences.
The lead defendant in the case is Sami al-Arian, a University of South Florida computer engineering professor who has been held by authorities for the last two years. Also on trial are Sameeh Hammoudeh, Hatim Naji Fsariz and Ghassan Zayed Ballut.
The indictment also names non-U.S. citizens who are absent from the U.S. and therefore not being charged. Most prominent of these is Ramadan Salah, a friend and partner of Al-Arian and the head of Islamic Jihad, who lives in Damascus. Also named in the indictment are known Islamic Jihad leaders from Gaza, London, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
There are more than 50 individual charges being leveled against the four defendants, including running an organized crime ring, membership in a criminal organization and financing terror. They are also accused of murder, money laundering, conspiracy and extortion.
The FBI investigation against the four has gone on for some 10 years, both inside the U.S. and abroad. Much of the evidence was gathered via electronic surveillance and wiretaps, a result of close cooperation between U.S. and foreign police, including the Israel Police.
In Israel, investigators from the International Crimes Unit worked on the case. Although there is no gag order, police have refused to divulge anything about the case to the press as the trial has approached. Furthermore, the U.S. authorities will likely play down the role of the Israeli authorities in gathering the material on which they are basing their case.
However, the Americans do want to make the jury understand not only how the four defendants helped finance terror, but also "what terror looks like." It is for this purpose they are bringing in the Israeli witnesses. They also plan to play videotapes of news footage shot at terror scenes, display material from the forensic institute and present testimony from both survivors and the ZAKA volunteers who collect the tiny bits of human remains that are often left by a bombing.
Wow, just wow. The defense isn't taking this lying down, however. They have a brilliant plan: they are going to tell an American jury that Islamic Jihad is a legitimate resistance group, and imply that all the graphic, wanton murder that they just heard about and saw, all the families torn apart and the innocent Jewish and American mothers, fathers and children slain...deserved it.
While the prosecution plans to focus on the work the four did to help Islamic Jihad, the defense is planning to argue that Islamic Jihad is a legitimate resistance group - an argument that might not pass muster with the judge in the case since not only has the U.S. listed Islamic Jihad as a terror group since the 1980s, but the judge has announced he does not plan to allow the case to become a lesson in the history of the Middle East conflict.
Good luck with that, guys.
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First Sergeant Michael J. Bordelon
First Sergeant Michael J. Bordelon was conducting combat operations in Mosul, Iraq, on 23 April 2005 when a suicide car bomber rammed into his Stryker vehicle. Though mortally wounded, Michael Bordelon lived for another two weeks before the injuries claimed his life. With every passing day, here on FOB Marez, men who had known Michael Bordelon for years, men who had fought with him in the streets of Mosul, would ask about his condition. The veterans here have seen much since they arrived in Mosul, and they understood well that the odds were against their First Sergeant surviving, yet they would ask the commander hopefully, “How is First Sergeant Bordelon?"
Read the rest here.
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Who are the suicide bombers of Iraq?
In a paper published in March, Reuven Paz, an Israeli expert on terrorism, analyzed the lists of jihadi dead. He found 154 Arabs killed over the previous six months in Iraq, 61 percent of them from Saudi Arabia, with Syrians, Iraqis and Kuwaitis together accounting for another 25 percent. He also found that 70 percent of the suicide bombers named by the Web sites were Saudi. In three cases, Paz found two brothers who carried out suicide attacks. Many of the bombers were married, well educated and in their late twenties, according to postings.
"Insurgency", my ass: 'Martyrs' In Iraq Mostly Saudis
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Telling the family
After Army Pfc. Joel K. Brattain was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad a year ago, the painful task of notifying his family got underway thousands of miles from his hometown of Yorba Linda.
Officers from Brattain's unit in Iraq, the 82nd Airborne Division, contacted their rear detachment at Ft. Bragg, the division's home base. A soldier here alerted the post casualty assistance center, which then telephoned the Army base nearest to Yorba Linda — Ft. Irwin.
There, Sgt. Lloyd Cook, who had never heard of Brattain, answered his cellphone at home on a quiet Sunday morning and was ordered to tell a stranger that his son was dead.
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Bad guys will learn to DREAD this weapon
The DREAD Weapon System
is so totally awesome, I had to change pants three times while reading this article.
Imagine a gun with no recoil, no sound, no heat, no gunpowder, no visible firing signature (muzzle flash), and no stoppages or jams of any kind. Now imagine that this gun could fire .308 caliber and .50 caliber metal projectiles accurately at up to 8,000 fps (feet-per-second), featured an infinitely variable/programmable cyclic rate-of-fire (as high as 120,000 rounds-per-minute), and were capable of laying down a 360-degree field of fire. What if you could mount this weapon on any military Humvee (HMMWV), any helicopter/gunship, any armored personnel carrier (APC), and any other vehicle for which the technology were applicable?
That would really be something, wouldn't it? Some of you might be wondering, "how big would it be," or "how much would it weigh"? Others might want to know what it's ammunition capacity would be. These are all good questions, assuming of course that a weapon like this were actually possible.
According to its inventor, not only is it possible, it's already happened. An updated version of the weapon will be available soon. It will arrive in the form of a tactically-configured pre-production anti-personnel weapon firing .308 caliber projectiles (accurately) at 2,500-3000 fps, at a variable/programmable cyclic rate of 5,000-120,000 rpm (rounds-per-minute). The weapon's designer/inventor has informed DefRev that future versions of the weapon will be capable of achieving projectile velocities in the 5,000-8,000 fps range with no difficulty. The technology already exists.
The weapon itself is called the DREAD, or Multiple Projectile Delivery System (MPDS), and it may just be the most revolutionary infantry weapon system concept that DefenseReview has EVER come across.
Read the rest.
UPDATE: it's more dud than dream gun, really. Watch the cheesy promotional video at the bottom of this article
if you want to see how they envision it working, then read KingTiger's comment there, towards the bottom. A thimbleful of Remy to aridog.
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The Zarqawi Saga
Maybe the 540th time is the charm... Zarqawi Killed?
(a thimbleful of cognac to Frank IBC)
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Iraq's first female softball team
In this society, many object to women showing themselves off in public, while others dislike the game they play because of its association with the US troops who invaded the country more than two years ago.
Softball, a form of baseball, was banned under ousted president Saddam Hussein, who viewed it as a product of US imperialism.
Now, a year after it first took off at Baghdad's sports academy, women have formed six teams who compete in a nationwide championship.
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Assassination attempt on President Bush in Georgia
According to a report by ABC News, a grenade was thrown near a stage in the former Soviet republic of Georgia where President Bush was giving a speech. Thank God nothing happened.
According to the report, after President Bush left, the Secret Service was informed by Georgian authorities that during his speech, someone threw a device within 100 feet from the stage.
The device hit someone and fell to the ground, but did not go off. It was later determined that the device was a grenade. The Secret Service is investigating.
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Japanese dignity in the face of terrible adversity
Japan's defense chief Yoshinori Ono said the apparent kidnapping of one of its citizens would not affect the country's deployment of 550 troops in southern Iraq.
The Sunni militant Ansar al-Sunnah Army claimed on its Web site it had kidnapped Akihiko Saito, 44, after ambushing a group of five foreign contractors protected by Iraqi forces. It said Saito was "seriously injured" in the fighting and that the others had died.
A spokesman for Saito's employer, Cyprus-based security firm Hart GMSSCO, confirmed he was missing after an ambush Sunday night involving Hart personnel.
Saito's brother, Hironobu, urged Tokyo to stay the course.
"If the Japanese government decides it's best to stay in Iraq, I will support (that). ... I do not expect the Japanese government to waver for the sake of my brother," he said.
If everyone reacted this way, rather than giving the terrorists what they want (wailing families on tv denouncing their own government and flattering the terrorists)-the kidnappings would stop. Kidnapping a person is an expensive operation, in terms of material and human resources, for a terrorist outfit to pull off. You have to have lookouts, transportation, safehouses, the ability to move at a moment's notice, the ability to get videotapes out to the world-if you're not
getting millions of dollars in payoffs from the governments involved (coff coff Italy) and you're not
getting cooperation in endlessly dragging out the negative publicity for the target government from your victim's family (take a bow, Bigleys), what's the point? I'll quote Mark Steyn's censored column:
Whether or not it is, in the technical sense, a “joke", I find myself, with the benefit of hindsight, in agreement with Billy Connolly’s now famous observation on Kenneth Bigley – “Aren’t you the same as me, don’t you wish they would just get on with it?"
Had his killers “just got on with it", they would have decapitated Mr Bigley as swiftly as they did his two American confreres. But, sensing that there was political advantage to be gained in distinguishing the British subject from his fellow hostages, they didn’t get on with it, and the intervening weeks reflected poorly on both Britain and Mr Bigley.
None of us can know for certain how we would behave in his circumstances, and very few of us will ever face them. But, if I had to choose in advance the very last words I’d utter in this life, “Tony Blair has not done enough for me" would not be high up on the list. First, because it’s the all but official slogan of modern Britain, the dull rote whine of the churlish citizen invited to opine on waiting lists or public transport, and thus unworthy of the uniquely grisly situation in which Mr Bigley found himself[...]While Ken Bigley passed much of his life as a happy expat, his brother Paul appears to have gone a stage further and all but seceded. Night and day, he was on TV explaining to the world how the Bigley family’s Middle East policy is wholly different from Her Majesty’s Government – a Unilateral Declaration of Independence accepted de facto by Mr Blair’s ministry when it dispatched Jack Straw to Merseyside to present formally his condolences to the Bigleys, surely the most extraordinary flying visit ever undertaken by a British Foreign Secretary. For their pains, the government was informed by Paul Bigley that the Prime Minister had “blood on his hands". This seems an especially stupid and contemptible formulation when anyone with an Internet connection can see Ken Bigley’s blood and the hand it’s literally on holding up his head[...]Paul Bigley can be forgiven his clumsiness: he’s a freelancer winging it. But the feelers put out by the Foreign Office to Ken Bigley’s captors are more disturbing: by definition, they confer respectability on the head-hackers and increase the likelihood that Britons and other infidels will be seized and decapitated in the future. The United Kingdom, like the government of the Philippines when it allegedly paid a ransom for the release of its Iraqi hostages, is thus assisting in the mainstreaming of jihad.
What's more dignified? "Tony Blair has not done enough for me", or "I do not expect the Japanese government to waver for the sake of my brother"? I know which one I'd
want to be my family member if I was kidnapped, and it ain't Paul Bigley.
A briefcase with a hidden cognac compartment to lawhawk...
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Now a girl wants to shoot up her school
Meet Kelley Patricia Kaminski:
Chandler police have stepped up patrols near Basha High School and are planning a community forum with school officials tonight to address concerns prompted by a student's arrest.
Police believe 17-year-old Kelley Patricia Kaminski, and possibly two other students, planned a violent assault on campus. Kaminski was arrested last week; police are still questioning the other students, who have not been named.
The meeting is the result of what Chandler police said was a flood of calls this week to the department and the school regarding the alleged plot and the safety of students and staff.
Letters notifying parents about the question-and-answer session were sent home with Basha High students Thursday.
Kaminski was released from a juvenile detention facility Wednesday on the condition family members provide constant supervision to the teenager until her next court date. She is facing two felony counts involving interference with an educational institution.
Kaminski was taken into custody on school grounds last week after frightened students alerted school officials to her alleged plan to shoot students and teachers.
Administrators found a notebook in her backpack containing a "detailed map" of the school and a "written plan to carry out her threats," police said.
According to police records, she also had the means to carry out those threats. A search warrant executed on the Kaminski home produced several assault rifles, semiautomatic weapons and numerous boxes of ammunition, which purportedly belonged to her stepfather.
Chandler police say two other students, whose names have not been released, could also face charges.
School threat spurs forum
I guess the impulse to evil and mass murder knows no gender, but I'm still kind of shocked to see a teenage girl planning murder on such a scale. Let's hope she's the first and the last.
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Margaret Thatcher, Jeanne Kirkpatrick support Bolton
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Jeane Kirkpatrick, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Reagan Administration, both this week expressed their strong support for the confirmation of John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
Bolton's confirmation was held up two weeks ago when Sen. George Voinovich (R.-Ohio), who had failed to attend two hearings on the nomination, showed up at the meeting at which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee planned to vote on the question, and changed his mind about immediately voting for Bolton after listening to demagogic tirades by committee Democrats.
The committee now plans to vote May 12 on whether to recommend Bolton's confirmation to the full Senate. Voinovich's vote, according to Republican sources, remains a question mark.
Thatcher endorsed Bolton in a letter addressed directly to the nominee. Kirkpatrick sent a letter backing Bolton to HUMAN EVENTS Editor in Chief Tom Winter.
"I am writing this letter in order to let you know how strongly I support your nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations," Thatcher wrote to Bolton on May 4. "On the basis of our years of friendship, I know from experience the great qualities you will bring to that demanding post."
"A capacity for straight talking rather than peddling half-truths is a strength and not a disadvantage in diplomacy," wrote Thatcher. "Particularly in the case of a great power like America, it is essential that people know where you stand and assume that you mean what you say. With you at the UN, they will do both."
In her note to HUMAN EVENTS Editor in Chief Tom Winter, Kirkpatrick said she believes Bolton "will be an extraordinarily good representative of the United States to the United Nations.
"It is job I know well, having held it nearly five years," said Kirkpatrick. "Moreover, John Bolton's office was only two doors down the hall from mine for several years at the American Enterprise Institute. So, I have had an unusually good opportunity to come to know Bolton's views and values and to observe his effectiveness and see him interact with colleagues. He has been outstanding in all these respects."
"I have also heard him analyze problems (and solutions)," said Kirkpatrick. "He has outstanding intellectual skills and does outstanding work. I have no doubt that he will also do an outstanding job representing the U.S. at the UN."
"Tom, the former UN ambassador concluded, "I do not believe President Bush and his Administration should be denied the strength John Bolton can contribute to our country in this dangerous time."
Sen. Voinovich, are you listening?
You can read Jeanne Kirkpatrick's entire letter by clicking.
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The Arrest of Abu Farraj al-Libbi
After al Qaeda's chief operational planner, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, was arrested in Pakistan a little over a year ago, he was replaced by Abu Farraj al-Libbi, another bin Laden "associate." The CIA got the scoop and notified Pakistani officials of his whereabouts. The Pakistani police followed his movements as he passed through some of the remote tribal areas of Pakistan but were hesitant to arrest him because they were afraid there would be resistance from local tribes. Lucky for them, he sought refuge in a town where the police were loyal to the national government.
I'm trying not to think about the fact that Pakistan, a partly lawless nation where arresting a terrorist depends on the loyalty of each town's police force, has the bomb.Taking Down a Top Al Qaeda Plotter
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Pollard lobbying for Prisoner of Zion status
Jonathan Pollard wants to be declared a Prisoner of Zion,
and to support his case he's appealing to the committee's sense of outrage over his claimed ordeal in the US prison system. He previously tried to get it and they turned him down, saying that espionage doesn't qualify as Zionist action.
TEL AVIV - Jonathan Pollard demands the State of Israel acknowledge him as a Prisoner of Zion after spending the past two decades in an American prison.
After numerous past rejections to grant him his status of desire, Pollard seems to embrace a different tactic.
In his appeal to the Supreme Court he describes his 20-year-long journey through the American punitive system in terms that resemble the conditions in Siberia of the past century rather than U.S. in the year 2005.
"The petitioner has been going through difficult tortures," Pollard's attorney Niztana Dreshen-Latner begins the long list of physical and mental tortures, which make up the prosecution's case.
Graphic descriptions of tortures
In his graphic descriptions Pollard includes the time when he was held naked in freezing solitary confinement. He said he was forced to sustain these conditions for long periods of timeduring the winter.
In addition to his clothes, his glasses were taken away and he was not given any normal sleeping accommodations, such as bed or linen. In his appeal, Pollard said he "had to sleep like an animal on a concrete platform."
In another incident, Pollard described he was taken into a special cell, where he was seated on an iron chair, to which his arms and legs were tied to with iron chains. While seated there, his guards ruthlessly sprayed ice water at him.
"He could not sustain the pressure of the ice water tossed at his face with enormous force. "The water was so cold, so that they burnt his whole body. This abuse had taken away his will to survive," the appeal reads.
In addition, Pollard claims he spent a year committed to a special ward for the mentally ill against his will. This is also where they would electrically shock him from time to time.
The guards "would guarantee Jonathan's obedience by electrical shocks, when he was beaten, he would collapse on the floor and lose control of his bladder, he could not move or talk, his body would quiver," the appeal read.
Well, jail certainly sucks, but I didn't know it sucked that bad. If he's really being treated this way, it's an outrage. He got sentenced to life in prison, not life in prison plus torture.
I'm not sure that I believe it, because it sounds pretty fantastical for such a high-profile prisoner to be treated this poorly, and in America too.
A thimbleful of cognac to annie.
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RIP, David Hackworth
Sometimes I thought he was kind of nuts, but I never doubted his sincerity or his genuine desire for the success and safety of the troops. He may have been a nuisance and a gadfly at times, but he was ours
Retired Army Col. David Hackworth, one of the most decorated veterans in U.S. history who became a vocal advocate for military reform, died yesterday in Mexico at 74.
Hackworth returned from Vietnam as a strong critic of the war, later becoming a journalist and author of several best-selling books.
He had written a weekly column for WorldNetDaily for seven years.
Hackworth was in Mexico for treatments of bladder cancer, which he had battled for some time.
"He died in my arms yesterday morning," his wife, Eilhys England, said today.
Hackworth pushed for streamlined military and improved conditions for troops.
"Hack never lost his focus," said Roger Charles, president of Soldiers for the Truth, a California-based veterans group for which Hackworth served as chairman. "That focus was on the young kids that our country sends to bleed and die on our behalf. Everything he did in his retirement was to try to give them a better chance to win and to come home. That's one hell of a legacy."
Hackworth wrote several books including "Steel My Soldier's Heart," "The Vietnam Primer," "About Face," and "Hazardous Duty."
"Hack genuinely loved his boys -- and that meant any and all U.S. servicemen," said WND's Joseph Farah, who recruited Hackworth as a columnist in 1998. "That meant any time I needed advice on military questions, Hack was always helpful in providing answers and context. He could always link you up with servicemen and vets who would have answers if he didn't. We've lost a tremendous networking force for the men in the field. We've lost a genuine, one-of-a-kind American hero."
WorldNetDaily: David Hackworth dies of cancer, 74
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Major Mark Bieger found this little girl after the car bomb that attacked our guys while kids were crowding around. The soldiers here have been angry and sad for two days. They are angry because the terrorists could just as easily have waited a block or two and attacked the patrol away from the kids. Instead, the suicide bomber drove his car and hit the Stryker when about twenty children were jumping up and down and waving at the soldiers. Major Bieger, I had seen him help rescue some of our guys a week earlier during another big attack, took some of our soldiers and rushed this little girl to our hospital. He wanted her to have American surgeons and not to go to the Iraqi hospital. She didn't make it. I snapped this picture when Major Bieger ran to take her away. He kept stopping to talk with her and hug her.Michael Yon : Online Magazine: Little Girl
(a thimbleful of cognac to Lyana)
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Let Trump rebuild the WTC
Let's make a deal with The Donald. lawhawk
says we should take the Ground Zero rebuilding away from Daniel Libeskind, and give it to Donald Trump. He's certainly convinced me.
Trump has subsumed his huge ego for various projects around the city, including restoring Wollman Rink in Central Park. He knows that the public would not tolerate his plastering of his name all over the WTC site, but that the public would laud him if he was able to get towers built on the WTC site. Libeskind doesn't get the NY real estate market, let alone the political machinations within the market. Trump has managed to build a tremendous number of Class A properties throughout the city, including nearly a dozen buildings on the Upper West Side alongside the Hudson River. He knows how to deal with real estate developers, community activists that may oppose his plans, and politicians in order to get his buildings constructed.
Read it all, and follow his link to the original NYPost story, too. Trump has been pressing Pataki to rebuild twin
towers (as it should be).
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The pothead menace
A survey on drug use found that 43 percent of U.S. adults smoked marijuana at least once in their lives. Marijuana use is not prevalent in Greece and I had never been exposed to it when I was growing up and I didn't know of anyone else who had. Since our cultures are different maybe our ideas of "partying" are different as well. We also don't impose alcohol restrictions on minors and even though I have no statistics to back up my assertion here, I think that the rate of teenage alcohol and drug usage in Greece is much lower than it is in the States. I wonder why that is, why do U.S. teenagers think that pot is cool and Greek teenagers don't? Marijuana behind 45 percent of U.S. drug arrests
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