Monday, August 30, 2010

Debbie Schlussel: SCARY But Ignored: Terrorist Spies Successfully Infiltrated Top Classified US Cyber-Files


Last week, the story of a successful Middle Eastern invasion at the heart of our most vital online secrets came out but was largely ignored in favor of less important symbolism like the two-blocks-from-Ground-Zero mosque. I wonder–and doubt–if a single person was fired over this cyber-screw-up, which jeopardized who knows how many lives of American spies, soldiers, and other operatives. And, remember, this took place under the “counterterrorism” Prez in 2008, the same guy who did nothing but welcome Muslims to our shores for eight years and pander to them like the current guy. The attack was so serious that President Bush was briefed on it, but did little other than briefly ban the use of portable flash drives. Yeah, I’ll bet that worked (so easy to enforce, right?). But, no worries, Bush–and for a time, Obama–continued to use the same failed cybersecurity pointchick and adviser, Melissa Hathaway. Read more...

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Am An Iranian Daughter - My Father

It is near 6 months, I `ve been informed my father suffers from Alzheimer...
It is really hard when I have to try to remind him who the family are, where we are living, who he is...I am a teacher for the ones who know nothing about my knowledge, but how can I teach to my teacher?! Some times I can not see his kind and innocent eyes...

Oh!My God! please help me! help me to be the best for him, as he`s been for me!

help me to do the best for him as he did the best for me...

My dear freinds, from all over the world, please ask God to save him!to make him healthy and happy again... Read more...

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Philip Coppens: Mysterious American Metal Plates

For decades, metal sheets with writing have been recovered from various archaeological sites in South America. Until recently, all were labelled “frauds”, but slowly, archaeologists are beginning to change their opinion. The ancient Americans, it seems, knew perfectly well how to work with metal.

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Peru and began the conquest of the Inca Empire, they saw silver and gold everywhere. Alas, they were only interested in its monetary, not artistic value. They therefore melted the artefacts down to ingots for easier transport to Europe, where it never arrived; the ships were sunk by pirates before they reached Spain.

From the little that is left in museums like the Gold Museum of Lima, it is clear that the Inca were masters in metallurgy. Nevertheless, the technical proficiency in metallurgy of this civilisation remains one of the more controversial topics in archaeology.

The topic became even more popular and controversial when the likes of Erich von Däniken focused their attention on a collection of metal plates and various related artefacts that had been gathered by an eccentric Italian priest, Father Carlos Crespi, in Cuenca, Ecuador. Von Däniken wrote up his visit to Crespi in “Gold of the Gods”, adding that the collection possessed certain common traits: “All the pyramid engravings have four things in common: a sun, but more frequently several suns, is depicted above the pyramid; snakes are always flying next to or over the pyramid; animals of various kinds are always present.” Such consistency between artefacts collated over a number of years and from different sources, suggested a common origin.
When Crespi questioned the people that brought him these artefacts, they told him that they had found them in subterranean cave systems in the jungles. Crespi therefore made sure that the extra-ordinary collection remained intact, using the courtyard of the church Maria Auxiliadora as his museum. Alas, many of the artefacts were destroyed in a fire on July 20, 1962, an act of arson, possibly engineered to destroy the collection. Alas, little remains of the Crespi collection, which was placed in various locations following the priest’s demise in January 1980. It is said that there remain active attempts to reopen a museum that has all of the collection that still remains.

Today, the collection is commonly labelled a fraud. It is true that Crespi was first a missionary, and not an archaeologist. When poor people brought him these plates, as well as other artefacts, which the local people knew he collected, he made sure they were rewarded for their efforts. He knew several local families were poor but that pride prevented them from asking for money – unless it was as payment for something. And hence, more and more metal plates found their way to the priest. Some, Crespi was sure, were fakes – and they were often the crudest.

But amongst the Crespi Collection were vast quantities of precious metals, like gold and silver. Those artefacts were unlikely to be frauds. Especially when we know that the collection was estimated to be worth at least one million dollar – for more than Crespi was able to pay the locals. Read More at Phillip Coppens... 

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Telegraph: Greeks 'discover Odysseus' palace in Ithaca, proving Homer's hero was real'

An 8th BC century palace which Greek archaeologists claim was the home of Odysseus has been discovered in Ithaca, fuelling theories that the hero of Homer's epic poem was real.

Odysseus is tempted by the Sirens on his journey back to Ithaca Photo: CORBIS

Nearly 3,000 years after Odysseus returned from his journey, the team from the University of Ioannina said they found the remains of an extensive three-storey building, with steps carved out of rock and fragments of pottery. The complex also features and a well from the 8th century BC, roughly the period in which Odysseus is believed to have been king of Ithaca. Read more...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Government Can Use GPS to Track Your Moves

Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements.

That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant.

It is a dangerous decision — one that, as the dissenting judges warned, could turn America into the sort of totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell. It is particularly offensive because the judges added insult to injury with some shocking class bias: the little personal privacy that still exists, the court suggested, should belong mainly to the rich.

This case began in 2007, when Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents decided to monitor Juan Pineda-Moreno, an Oregon resident who they suspected was growing marijuana. They snuck onto his property in the middle of the night and found his Jeep in his driveway, a few feet from his trailer home. Then they attached a GPS tracking device to the vehicle's underside.

After Pineda-Moreno challenged the DEA's actions, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in January that it was all perfectly legal. More disturbingly, a larger group of judges on the circuit, who were subsequently asked to reconsider the ruling, decided this month to let it stand. (Pineda-Moreno has pleaded guilty conditionally to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and manufacturing marijuana while appealing the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained with the help of GPS.)

In fact, the government violated Pineda-Moreno's privacy rights in two different ways. For starters, the invasion of his driveway was wrong. The courts have long held that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes and in the "curtilage," a fancy legal term for the area around the home. The government's intrusion on property just a few feet away was clearly in this zone of privacy.

The judges veered into offensiveness when they explained why Pineda-Moreno's driveway was not private. It was open to strangers, they said, such as delivery people and neighborhood children, who could wander across it uninvited.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented from this month's decision refusing to reconsider the case, pointed out whose homes are not open to strangers: rich people's. The court's ruling, he said, means that people who protect their homes with electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes. People who cannot afford such barriers have to put up with the government sneaking around at night.

Judge Kozinski is a leading conservative, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, but in his dissent he came across as a raging liberal. "There's been much talk about diversity on the bench, but there's one kind of diversity that doesn't exist," he wrote. "No truly poor people are appointed as federal judges, or as state judges for that matter." The judges in the majority, he charged, were guilty of "cultural elitism."

The court went on to make a second terrible decision about privacy: that once a GPS device has been planted, the government is free to use it to track people without getting a warrant. There is a major battle under way in the federal and state courts over this issue, and the stakes are high. After all, if government agents can track people with secretly planted GPS devices virtually anytime they want, without having to go to a court for a warrant, we are one step closer to a classic police state — with technology taking on the role of the KGB or the East German Stasi.

Fortunately, other courts are coming to a different conclusion from the Ninth Circuit's — including the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That court ruled, also this month, that tracking for an extended period of time with GPS is an invasion of privacy that requires a warrant. The issue is likely to end up in the Supreme Court.

In these highly partisan times, GPS monitoring is a subject that has both conservatives and liberals worried. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's pro-privacy ruling was unanimous — decided by judges appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Plenty of liberals have objected to this kind of spying, but it is the conservative Chief Judge Kozinski who has done so most passionately. "1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last," he lamented in his dissent. And invoking Orwell's totalitarian dystopia where privacy is essentially nonexistent, he warned: "Some day, soon, we may wake up and find we're living in Oceania."


The Blogmocracy: Iraqis now against Americans leaving

Women situation in Iraq - Credit: Eastern Liberty

When I read this I was stunned. For nearly seven years American forces in Iraq fought in a restrained manner. They stood by as Iraqis destroyed Chaldean churches and had to deal with non stop attacks. China and France won the oil contracts not the US! This made the American public turn against the war and view the Iraqis as ingrates. This sour mood about Iraq is part of what propelled Barack Hussein Obama to the White House. Bush implemented the surge strategy which brought some measure of stability to Iraq. Now that we are leaving, The Iraqis want us to stay.

The saying “be careful what you wish for” is causing this opinion of Iraqis. They hated us and attacked us, now they want us to stay. America got very little out of the Iraq war other than removing Saddam. We got no oil and did nothing about the destruction of the Chaldean Christian community. We didn’t even give refugee status to the Christians. The Iraqis shouldn’t have launched those attacks on our troops or call for us to leave. They got what they wanted and now will regret it. Read More at The Blogmocracy...

What Does It All Mean?

Gizmodo: Mysterious Russian 'Numbers Station' Changes Broadcast After 20 Years

Mysterious Russian 'Numbers Station' Changes Broadcast After 20 Years

The bizarre, constant audio output of one particular mysterious Russian "Numbers Station" has changed, for the first time in 20 years. This might mean something bad is about to happen, or simply that someone finally remembered to switch tapes.

Here's the new message currently being beamed from Russian station UVB-76. The first person to successfully identify its meaning wins a 25-year vacation in Siberia's most desolate and inaccessible leisure resort:

UVB-76, UVB-76 - 93 882 naimina 74 14 35 74 - 9 3 8 8 2 nikolai, anna, ivan, michail, ivan, nikolai, anna, 7, 4, 1, 4, 3, 5, 7, 4 Read more at Gizmodo...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Basic Training as Basic Submission

Winning hearts and minds means losing your own. It involves teaching defenders of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to "respect" an Islamic tribal culture (as advocated by Admiral Mullen and other leaders) that subjugates women, girls, boys and non-Muslims (assuming there are any of the last left in the country ), while increasingly assuming its customs --...

Read More »

The Telegraph: Chile's trapped miners could be stuck until Christmas


But amid the joy of the news of their survival, Andres Sougarret, the engineer in charge of the mission, said it could take months to free the men from their underground prison.

It would take "at least 120 days" to carve a second shaft that was wide enough for the miners to be pulled up one-by-one.

A camera lowered down the bore hole on Sunday showed the miners sweaty and shirtless in the hot (32-36 degrees Celsius, 90-97 Fahrenheit) shelter, but in apparently good condition and high spirits. Read More...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eastern Liberty: All This Sun and Very Little Fun.

Another day and I'm sitting here without anything to do. I'm searching for a good channel to watch but as usual, nothing really captures my interest. Sadly, television is the only entertainment women really have and nothing good is on. It's 120 degrees outside and I'm thankful for the few hours of power a day we get so I feel cool (Baghdad only averaged 5 hours of power per household for the entire month of July.) But our lives are so drab and boring, even monotonous.

All the luxuries of the west are missing in our democracy. The movie theaters, parks, swimming pools, malls, amusement parks, theaters-even sports stadium for matches or local competitions. Those with money now leave Iraq for vacation, for shopping, for rest and recuperation. But for those of us who are just middle-class, and especially the women, we are stuck here, bored out of our minds. We are not living, we are merely existing.

Of course we can't have such diversions until we fix the infrastructure. Fix the electricity, the water, the roads, the schools, even the government if such a thing is even possible. I couldn't agree more. Read More

Diana West: Dawa, Uncle Sam-Style?

The title of the excerped AP report below is "War doesn't rest for Islam holy month." But maybe the title should have been "Islam doesn't rest for war" -- as in doesn't let the war stop its dawa (proselytizing), only now that proselytizing is starting to a bit like Dawa, Uncle Sam-Style.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WILSON, Afghanistan — “May you have a blessed Ramadan,” reads a poster greeting U.S. troops outside a base mess tent. It refers to Islam’s holiest month, a time of good deeds, prayer and purification of the spirit through sunrise-to-sunset fasting. ...

That would be a Happy Ramadan poster on a US base mess hall tent. Just curious: Does the military post Happy Hannukah, Merry X-mas and Yay Diwali (Hindu holiday) posters on mess hall tents as well? Read more...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Violet For Peace: Medicine For Losers !!

Medicine For Losers !!

Let's be Honest !

The medical college here is full of losers !

The ones who just want someone to call them Doctors to implement their selves out !

And don't care if the patients die by their hands , they all are " cases " to them


Weasel Zippers: Music Video Sums Up Opposition to Ground Zero Mosque – “Salt in the Wound” – Video

Music Video Sums Up Opposition to Ground Zero Mosque – “Salt in the Wound” – Video

Here is a great music video opposing the Ground Zero Mosque with scenes from September 11 that undoubtedly expresses the feelings of the vast majority of Americans.

“Salt in the Wound,” written by Rita W. Jones.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

China Cuts Long-Term Treasuries By Most Ever as Yields Drop

China cut its holdings of Treasury notes and bonds by the most ever, raising speculation a plunge in U.S. yields that sent two-year rates to a record low has made government securities unattractive.

The Asian nation’s holdings of long-term Treasuries fell by $21.2 billion in June to $839.7 billion, a U.S. government report showed yesterday. Total Chinese investment in U.S. debt declined 2.8 percent to $843.7 billion, the least in a year, following a 3.6 percent slide in May.

China, America’s largest creditor, is cutting back after scrapping its currency peg in June, giving it less reason to buy dollars and invest them in Treasuries. China is also turning more bullish on Europe and Japan, purchasing bonds of both nations. The shift comes as President Barack Obama increases U.S. debt to record levels, counting on overseas investors to buy, as he borrows to sustain the U.S. economic expansion.

“This may have been opportunistic,” said James Caron, head of U.S. interest-rate strategy in New York at Morgan Stanley, one of 18 primary dealers that trade with the Federal Reserve. “Look at the level of yields. If you’ve held a lot of Treasuries, you’ve done well.”

The two-year note yielded 0.51 percent as of 9:11 a.m. in London, after falling to a record 0.48 percent earlier today. The 0.625 percent security due July 2012 traded at 100 7/32, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Yields Will Rise

Two-year rates will climb to 0.85 percent by year-end, according to Bloomberg surveys of financial companies. Investors who purchased the securities today would lose 0.4 percent if the projection is correct, according to Bloomberg data.

“Buying now is a big risk,” said Hiroki Shimazu, an economist in Tokyo at Nikko Cordial Securities Inc., a unit of Japan’s third-largest publicly traded bank. “I don’t recommend it.”

Economic growth in the U.S., while weaker than expected, is still strong enough to send yields higher, he said.

U.S. gross domestic product will expand at a 2.55 percent rate in the last six months of 2010, according to the median of 67 estimates in a Bloomberg survey taken July 31 to Aug. 9, down from the 2.8 percent pace projected last month.

Dollar Peg

The People’s Bank of China on June 19 ended its currency’s two-year peg to the dollar, saying it would allow greater “flexibility” in the exchange rate. The yuan has since strengthened 0.5 percent.

The central bank limits the yuan’s appreciation by selling the currency and buying dollars, a policy that has contributed to its accumulation of the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves and led to the build-up of its Treasury holdings.

China will keep adding to its holdings of foreign debt as long as the nation has a trade surplus, news website Hexun reported, citing Liang Meng, a researcher at the People’s Bank of China. The country recently reduced its holdings of U.S. debt and increased its holding of Japanese bonds due to asset safety concerns, Liang was cited as saying.

The nation also gains foreign currency from trade and invests it in overseas bonds.

China, which has $2.45 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves, is becoming more optimistic on Europe and Japan.

‘Quite a Lot’

The nation has been buying “quite a lot” of European bonds, said Yu Yongding, a former adviser to the People’s Bank of China who was part of a foreign-policy advisory committee that visited France, Spain and Germany from June 20 to July 2.

Japan’s Ministry of Finance said Aug. 9 that China bought 1.73 trillion yen ($20.3 billion) more Japanese debt than it sold in the first half of 2010, the fastest pace of purchases in at least five years.

“Diversification should be a basic principle,” Yu, president of the China Society of World Economy, said in an interview last week, adding a “top-level Chinese central banker” told him to convey to European policy makers China’s confidence in the region’s economy and currency. “We didn’t sell any European bonds or assets. Instead we bought quite a lot.”

China held 10 percent of the $8.18 trillion in publicly traded U.S. debt as of July. Investors in Japan hold the second- largest position in Treasuries with $803.6 billion of the securities, or 9.8 percent.

China needs a strong U.S. dollar, said Kenneth Lieberthal, a senior fellow specializing in China at the Brookings Institution, a research group on Washington.

“I don’t think we’re going to see any massive flight from China’s holdings of U.S. debt,” Lieberthal said on Bloomberg Television. “That would be self defeating and they well recognize that.”


They know a communist when they see one...

And with no one to protect their investment...Iraq...why should they hold so many dollars

Massive coral die-off seen in 93-degree waters

One of the most destructive and swift coral bleaching events ever recorded is under way in the waters off Indonesia, where water temperatures have climbed into the low 90s, according to data released by a conservation group this week.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) says a dramatic rise in sea temperature, potentially linked to global warming, is responsible for the devastation.

In May, the WCS sent marine biologists to investigate coral bleaching reported in Aceh — a province of Indonesia — located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. The initial survey carried out by the team revealed that more than 60 percent of corals in the area were bleached.

Subsequent monitoring of the Indonesian corals completed in early August revealed one of the most rapid and severe coral mortality events ever recorded. The scientists found that 80 percent of some species have died since the initial assessment, and more colonies are expected to die within the next few months.

"This is a tragedy not only for some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs, but also for people in the region, many of whom are extremely impoverished and depend on these reefs for their food and livelihoods," said WCS Marine Program Director Caleb McClennen. Coral reefs provide haven for fish and other creatures, and larger fish tend to congregate around reefs because they are good places to feed.

Bleaching — a whitening of corals that occurs when symbiotic algae living within coral tissues are expelled — is an indication of stress caused by environmental triggers such as fluctuations in ocean temperature. Depending on many factors, bleached coral may recover over time or die.

The event is the result of a rise in sea surface temperatures in the Andaman Sea — an area that includes the coasts of Myanmar, Thailand, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and northwestern Indonesia. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Hotspots website, temperatures in the region peaked in late May at more than 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius). That's 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) higher than long-term averages for the area.

"It's a disappointing development particularly in light of the fact that these same corals proved resilient to other disruptions to this ecosystem, including the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004," said WCS Indonesia Marine Program Director Stuart Campbell.

Surveys conducted in the wake of the 2004 tsunami revealed that the many reefs of Aceh were largely unaffected by this massive disturbance. Indeed, reefs severely damaged by poor land use and destructive fishing prior to the tsunami had recovered dramatically in the intervening years due to improved management. Government and community-managed areas in the region have been remarkably successful at maintaining fish biomass despite ongoing access to the reefs. But the bleaching and mortality in 2010 have rapidly reversed this recovery and will have a profound effect on reef fisheries.

Of particular concern is the scale of the warmer ocean waters, which the NOAA website indicates has affected the entire Andaman Sea and beyond. Similar mass bleaching events in 2010 have now been recorded in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and many parts of Indonesia.

"If a similar degree of mortality is apparent at other sites in the Andaman Sea this will be the worst bleaching event ever recorded in the region," said Andrew Baird of James Cook University in Australia. "The destruction of these upstream reefs means recovery is likely to take much longer than before."

Efforts to bring back the reefs will have to be both local and global in scale, McClennen said.


American faces deportation from Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - An American detained for allegedly collaborating with Kurdish militants said Tuesday he was being targeted because of his writings about the war between Turkey and the guerrillas.

Turkish authorities detained the 25-year-old Jake Hess, of Hampton, New Hampshire, in a hotel in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir last week, months after his name appeared in a prosecutor's indictment against a group of Kurdish activists who have been charged with links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

A public prosecutor ordered Hess deported after questioning him for three-hours Sunday, though it was not clear when that might happen. He now shares a room with five asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iraq at a detention center for foreigners in Diyarbakir, and is free to use his mobile phone.

Kurdish rebels are fighting for autonomy in Turkey's southeast. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

Hess, who has visited PKK bases in northern Iraq, wrote two articles critical of Turkish treatment of Kurds for the news agency of Rome-based Inter Press Service, which covers development, the environment and human rights issues. Its website says it changed its legal status in 1994 to that of a "non-profit, international non-governmental organization."

Authorities questioned him on the content of his articles, Hess said.

"I was told that I was harming Turkey's image, that I was waging a smear campaign against Turkey," he told The Associated Press during a phone interview from his cell. "I have no doubt that I am being targeted for my writings."

Turkish officials have not commented on the case and no one answered calls at the Diyarbakir chief prosecutor's office Tuesday. The U.S. Embassy had no comment.

Hess said he developed an interest in the Kurdish conflict while at high school when he was involved in an Amnesty International campaign to free Kurdish politician Leyla Zana, who spent a decade in prison convicted of separatism and links to the PKK.

He arrived in Turkey nearly two years ago to teach English at a language school in Diyarbakir and worked as a translator for activist groups.

Hess' lawyer, Serkan Akbas, said the American was detained for his alleged ties to Kurdish activists who are accused of membership in the Kurdistan Democratic Confederation - a group, prosecutors say, is an offshoot of the PKK. The activists have denied the claims, and the indictment does not make any accusations against Hess.

Hess said that despite the indictment he had traveled freely in and out of Turkey, until his two articles appeared in July and early August.

"The timing is a little curious," he said.

In an Aug. 13 statement, Reporters Without Borders called for Hess' immediate release.

"Detaining a journalist should be an exceptional measure resulting from a thorough investigation establishing that he has committed a serious crime," the media rights group said.

Sanjay Suri, editor-in-chief of the Inter Press Service agency, said they had made inquiries to Turkish authorities but have not received an official statement.

In a July 13 article - "Turks let Kurdish forests burn," - Hess wrote that residents of two Kurdish villages in Turkey were facing "economic disaster and possibly displacement as Turkish soldiers set fire to their forests and crops."

Turkish authorities have denied such claims. Turkey systematically burned and forced the Kurdish villages to evacuate to cut supplies to Kurdish rebels in the early 1990s but abandoned the practice in the face of severe international criticism.


Bomber kills 61 Iraqis in recruitment drive

BAGHDAD (AP) - Young men from some of Iraq's poorest areas waited all night outside an army recruitment center, only to become easy prey Tuesday for a suicide bomber who killed 61 in the crowd. Desperate for jobs, dazed survivors rushed to get back in line after the attack.

Officials quickly blamed al-Qaida for the deadliest single act of violence in the capital in months. Police said 125 people were wounded.

Bodies of bloodied young men, some still clutching job applications in their hands, were scattered on the ground outside the headquarters' gate. Soldiers collected bits of flesh and stray hands and legs as frantic Iraqis showed up to search for relatives.

The early morning bombing in central Baghdad starkly displayed Iraqi forces' failure to plug even the most obvious holes in their security two weeks before the formal end of the U.S. combat role in Iraq.

Army and police recruitment centers have been frequent targets for militants, underscoring the determination of the applicants to risk their lives for work in a country with an unemployment rate estimated as high as 30 percent.

"I have to get this job at any cost in order to feed my family," said Ali Ahmed, 34, a father of two who returned to the bloody street after taking a friend to the hospital. "I have no option but to come back to the line. If there were other job opportunities, I would not be here in the first place."

Ali Ibrahim, 21, who suffered minor shrapnel wounds in the blast, returned to the line after his release from the hospital.

"I came back with my friend to try to get in. We are forced to come back for the sake of earning a living by securing the job," said Ibrahim, who had been waiting since 3 a.m.

Yasir Ali, a 29-year-old recruit, washed blood off his body at a nearby police station and then went back to the line outside the Iraqi army's 11th Division headquarters and recruiting center.

The men waited in vain. The recruitment center was shut down after the attack, and the military said it would not reopen. Even so, some applicants remained there until mid-afternoon.

On the last of a nine-day recruitment drive, Iraqi officials provided only scant security for the estimated 1,000 men hoping to get hired, hundreds of whom had stayed outside the headquarters overnight for a first shot at handing in their job applications.

The recruits were from three poor Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad and the impoverished Babil and Muthanna provinces in Iraq's Shiite-dominated south.

The suicide bomber sat patiently with them through dawn before launching his attack, Ali said.

Ali said he watched the bomber, whom he described as a young man, walk up to an Iraqi army officer and detonate the nail-packed explosives strapped to his legs about 7:30 a.m.

"Severed hands and legs were falling over me," Ali said. "I was soaked with blood from the body parts and wounded and dead people falling over and beside me."

The body of the suicide bomber was found with his legs blown off, said Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi.

Two police officials put the death toll at 61 with 125 others wounded. Officials at four Baghdad hospitals confirmed the body count. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Al-Moussawi said there were 39 killed and 57 wounded. Varying casualty counts are common in the confusion after attacks.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, a bomb attached to a fuel truck detonated in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of Ur on Tuesday night, killing 10 people, wounding 46 and causing a nearby gas station to catch fire, according to police and hospital officials.

Military recruiting stations and security checkpoints continue to be easy targets for insurgents who have killed 454 soldiers, policemen and government-backed local militias so far this year, according to an Associated Press count.

The repeated bombings show that despite at least $22 billion in U.S. funding since 2004 for training and equipment, security forces are little better at protecting themselves than the population.

The looming departure of the U.S. military has turned Iraqi forces into even more attractive victims for insurgents looking to prove their might by exploiting security gaps.

The White House said the bombing will not halt either Iraq's transition to democracy or the U.S. troop withdrawal.

"There obviously are still people who want to derail the advances that the Iraqi people have made toward democracy," Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said. "But they are firmly on track."

Al-Moussawi said the Iraqi military would shut down all recruiting centers in urban areas. Although police protect their own recruits by having them wait inside fortified buildings and closing off nearby roads, al-Moussawi said that was not always possible for the army because of the sheer number of job applicants.

"We couldn't get another place for the recruits," al-Moussawi said - despite describing the dearth of protections as "a mistake."

"It was difficult to control the area because it's an open area and because of the large number of recruits," he said.

Despite the risks, many Iraqis are lured by the prospect of a steady paycheck to join the security forces. After years of war, there are few jobs to be had, leaving Iraq's estimated unemployment rate at between 15 and 30 percent.

Adding to Iraq's economic stress is the political uncertainty that has dragged on for more than five months, since March parliamentary elections failed to produce a clear winner. That has left competing political parties bickering over how to share power and whether to replace Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki - instead of creating a stable government to rebuild industries and economic development.

"Factories are being closed and farms are being deserted, and nobody cares in the government," said Baghdad political analyst Hadi Jalo. "This situation has forced thousands of young people to risk their lives working in the security forces."


Son Of TIGRIS: Land of Giants – Power Lines Turned Into a Work of Art

Massachusetts-based Choi+Shine, has transformed mundane electrical pylons into statues on the Icelandic landscape by making only small alterations to existing pylon design. Making only minor alterations to well-established steel-framed tower design, the architects have created a series of powerful and variable towers.
The pylon-figures can also be arranged to create a sense of place through deliberate expression. Subtle alterations in the hands and head combined with repositioning of the main body parts in the x, y and z-axis, allow for a rich variety of expressions. The pylon-figures can be placed in pairs, walking in the same direction or opposite directions, glancing at each other as they pass by or kneeling respectively, head bowed at a town. Read More...

Diana West: Looks Like the Fix Is In: Russia's Polish Crash Investigation

It's never been clear what really happened on that foggy morning of April 10 when a Polish airplane crashed on a Russian runway, killing all 96 people aboard including Polish President Lech Kaczynski, cabinet ministers, military service chiefs, intelligence officials, the central bank president, parliamentarians, historians, decapitating the conservative government and gutting the country's elite.

Given the occasion -- the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's long-denied massacre of 22,000 Poles at Katyn Forest -- and given many of the crash victims' dedication to exposing Soviet-era treachery and opposing Putin-era Russian expansionism, was the crash, as reported, an epically tragic accident? Even as the Russians immediately cited "pilot error" (they did wait, as former CIA officer Eugene Poteat has noted, until after the plane had gone down), they also pledged to Poland a joint, transparent investigation. But four months later, Russian obfuscation casts doubt on both notions: pilot error and Russian cooperation. Little wonder that Polish parliamentarian Antoni Marcierewicz, a member of the late president's conservative Law and Justice Party, has recently announced a parliamentary probe into the crash, which he calls a "crime." Read More...

Monday, August 16, 2010

If You ever Wondered What A Bedouin Encampment Looks Like

These photographs were taken by photojournalist Plasmastik in Southern Israel, at a Bedouin settlement located just behind the wall of Beer Sheva prison...


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Technoccult: China 2013: the Controversial Novel Rocking China’s Intelligentsia

The Gilded Age: China 2013

The novel, first published in Hong Kong in late 2009, caused quite a stir on Chinese websites early this year. For instance, Hecaitou, one of the most influential bloggers in the country, wrote in January that the book “once and for fall settles the majority of Internet quarrels” on what China’s tomorrow will be like. At the time, the book was only available in Hong Kong. But after interest grew apace in Chinese cyberspace, the author himself “pirated” his rights from his own publisher in Hong Kong to let Chinese mainlanders read it online for free. Since February, numerous digital versions of the novel have circulated and sparked heated discussions on the Chinese Internet.


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American Socialists Release Names of 70 Congressional Democrats in Their Ranks

The Socialist Party of America announced in their October 2009 newsletter that 70 Congressional democrats currently belong to their caucus.
This admission was recently posted on

American Socialist Voter–
Q: How many members of the U.S. Congress are also members of the DSA?
A: Seventy

Q: How many of the DSA members sit on the Judiciary Committee?
A: Eleven: John Conyers [Chairman of the Judiciary Committee], Tammy Baldwin, Jerrold Nadler, Luis Gutierrez,
Melvin Watt, Maxine Waters, Hank Johnson, Steve Cohen, Barbara Lee, Robert Wexler, Linda Sanchez [there are 23 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee of which eleven, almost half, are now members of the DSA].

Q: Who are these members of 111th Congress?
A: See the listing below

Hon. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07)
Hon. Lynn Woolsey (CA-06)

Vice Chairs
Hon. Diane Watson (CA-33)
Hon. Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18)
Hon. Mazie Hirono (HI-02)
Hon. Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)

Senate Members
Hon. Bernie Sanders (VT)

House Members
Hon. Neil Abercrombie (HI-01)
Hon. Tammy Baldwin (WI-02)
Hon. Xavier Becerra (CA-31)
Hon. Madeleine Bordallo (GU-AL)
Hon. Robert Brady (PA-01)
Hon. Corrine Brown (FL-03)
Hon. Michael Capuano (MA-08)
Hon. André Carson (IN-07)
Hon. Donna Christensen (VI-AL)
Hon. Yvette Clarke (NY-11)
Hon. William “Lacy” Clay (MO-01)
Hon. Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Hon. Steve Cohen (TN-09)
Hon. John Conyers (MI-14)
Hon. Elijah Cummings (MD-07)
Hon. Danny Davis (IL-07)
Hon. Peter DeFazio (OR-04)
Hon. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)
Rep. Donna F. Edwards (MD-04)
Hon. Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Hon. Sam Farr (CA-17)
Hon. Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Hon. Bob Filner (CA-51)
Hon. Barney Frank (MA-04)
Hon. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11)
Hon. Alan Grayson (FL-08)
Hon. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)
Hon. John Hall (NY-19)
Hon. Phil Hare (IL-17)
Hon. Maurice Hinchey (NY-22)
Hon. Michael Honda (CA-15)
Hon. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-02)
Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Hon. Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Hon. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
Hon. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-13)
Hon. Barbara Lee (CA-09)
Hon. John Lewis (GA-05)
Hon. David Loebsack (IA-02)
Hon. Ben R. Lujan (NM-3)
Hon. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)
Hon. Ed Markey (MA-07)
Hon. Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Hon. James McGovern (MA-03)
Hon. George Miller (CA-07)
Hon. Gwen Moore (WI-04)
Hon. Jerrold Nadler (NY-08)
Hon. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC-AL)
Hon. John Olver (MA-01)
Hon. Ed Pastor (AZ-04)
Hon. Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Hon. Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
Hon. Charles Rangel (NY-15)
Hon. Laura Richardson (CA-37)
Hon. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34)
Hon. Bobby Rush (IL-01)
Hon. Linda Sánchez (CA-47)
Hon. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Hon. José Serrano (NY-16)
Hon. Louise Slaughter (NY-28)
Hon. Pete Stark (CA-13)
Hon. Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Hon. John Tierney (MA-06)
Hon. Nydia Velazquez (NY-12)
Hon. Maxine Waters (CA-35)
Hon. Mel Watt (NC-12)
Hon. Henry Waxman (CA-30)
Hon. Peter Welch (VT-AL)
Hon. Robert Wexler (FL-19)
First Things

Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents

WASHINGTON — At first, the news from Yemen on May 25 sounded like a modest victory in the campaign against terrorists: an airstrike had hit a group suspected of being operatives for Al Qaeda in the remote desert of Marib Province, birthplace of the legendary queen of Sheba.

But the strike, it turned out, had also killed the province’s deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk Qaeda members into giving up their fight. Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accepted responsibility for the death and paid blood money to the offended tribes.

The strike, though, was not the work of Mr. Saleh’s decrepit Soviet-era air force. It was a secret mission by the United States military, according to American officials, at least the fourth such assault on Al Qaeda in the arid mountains and deserts of Yemen since December.

The attack offered a glimpse of the Obama administration’s shadow war against Al Qaeda and its allies. In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists.

The White House has intensified the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone missile campaign in Pakistan, approved raids against Qaeda operatives in Somalia and launched clandestine operations from Kenya. The administration has worked with European allies to dismantle terrorist groups in North Africa, efforts that include a recent French strike in Algeria. And the Pentagon tapped a network of private contractors to gather intelligence about things like militant hide-outs in Pakistan and the location of an American soldier currently in Taliban hands.

While the stealth war began in the Bush administration, it has expanded under President Obama, who rose to prominence in part for his early opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Virtually none of the newly aggressive steps undertaken by the United States government have been publicly acknowledged. In contrast with the troop buildup in Afghanistan, which came after months of robust debate, for example, the American military campaign in Yemen began without notice in December and has never been officially confirmed.

Obama administration officials point to the benefits of bringing the fight against Al Qaeda and other militants into the shadows. Afghanistan and Iraq, they said, have sobered American politicians and voters about the staggering costs of big wars that topple governments, require years of occupation and can be a catalyst for further radicalization throughout the Muslim world.

Instead of “the hammer,” in the words of John O. Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, America will rely on the “scalpel.” In a speech in May, Mr. Brennan, an architect of the White House strategy, used this analogy while pledging a “multigenerational” campaign against Al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates.

Yet such wars come with many risks: the potential for botched operations that fuel anti-American rage; a blurring of the lines between soldiers and spies that could put troops at risk of being denied Geneva Convention protections; a weakening of the Congressional oversight system put in place to prevent abuses by America’s secret operatives; and a reliance on authoritarian foreign leaders and surrogates with sometimes murky loyalties.

The May strike in Yemen, for example, provoked a revenge attack on an oil pipeline by local tribesmen and produced a propaganda bonanza for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It also left President Saleh privately furious about the death of the provincial official, Jabir al-Shabwani, and scrambling to prevent an anti-American backlash, according to Yemeni officials.

The administration’s demands have accelerated a transformation of the C.I.A. into a paramilitary organization as much as a spying agency, which some critics worry could lower the threshold for future quasi-military operations. In Pakistan’s mountains, the agency had broadened its drone campaign beyond selective strikes against Qaeda leaders and now regularly obliterates suspected enemy compounds and logistics convoys, just as the military would grind down an enemy force.

For its part, the Pentagon is becoming more like the C.I.A. Across the Middle East and elsewhere, Special Operations troops under secret “Execute Orders” have conducted spying missions that were once the preserve of civilian intelligence agencies. With code names like Eager Pawn and Indigo Spade, such programs typically operate with even less transparency and Congressional oversight than traditional covert actions by the C.I.A.

And, as American counterterrorism operations spread beyond war zones into territory hostile to the military, private contractors have taken on a prominent role, raising concerns that the United States has outsourced some of its most important missions to a sometimes unaccountable private army.

A Proving Ground

Yemen is a testing ground for the “scalpel” approach Mr. Brennan endorses. Administration officials warn of the growing strength of Al Qaeda’s affiliate there, citing as evidence its attempt on Dec. 25 to blow up a trans-Atlantic jetliner using a young Nigerian operative. Some American officials believe that militants in Yemen could now pose an even greater threat than Al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan.

The officials said that they have benefited from the Yemeni government’s new resolve to fight Al Qaeda and that the American strikes — carried out with cruise missiles and Harrier fighter jets — had been approved by Yemen’s leaders. The strikes, administration officials say, have killed dozens of militants suspected of plotting future attacks. The Pentagon and the C.I.A. have quietly bulked up the number of their operatives at the embassy in Sana, the Yemeni capital, over the past year.

“Where we want to get is to much more small scale, preferably locally driven operations,” said Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington, who serves on the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.

“For the first time in our history, an entity has declared a covert war against us,” Mr. Smith said, referring to Al Qaeda. “And we are using similar elements of American power to respond to that covert war.”

Some security experts draw parallels to the cold war, when the United States drew heavily on covert operations as it fought a series of proxy battles with the Soviet Union.

And some of the central players of those days have returned to take on supporting roles in the shadow war. Michael G. Vickers, who helped run the C.I.A.’s campaign to funnel guns and money to the Afghanistan mujahedeen in the 1980s and was featured in the book and movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” is now the top Pentagon official overseeing Special Operations troops around the globe. Duane R. Clarridge, a profane former C.I.A. officer who ran operations in Central America and was indicted in the Iran-contra scandal, turned up this year helping run a Pentagon-financed private spying operation in Pakistan.

In pursuing this strategy, the White House is benefiting from a unique political landscape. Republican lawmakers have been unwilling to take Mr. Obama to task for aggressively hunting terrorists, and many Democrats seem eager to embrace any move away from the long, costly wars begun by the Bush administration.

Still, it has astonished some old hands of the military and intelligence establishment. Jack Devine, a former top C.I.A. clandestine officer who helped run the covert war against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan in the 1980s, said his record showed that he was “not exactly a cream puff” when it came to advocating secret operations.

But he warned that the safeguards introduced after Congressional investigations into clandestine wars of the past — from C.I.A. assassination attempts to the Iran-contra affair, in which money from secret arms dealings with Iran was funneled to right-wing rebels in Nicaragua known as the contras — were beginning to be weakened. “We got the covert action programs under well-defined rules after we had made mistakes and learned from them,” he said. “Now, we’re coming up with a new model, and I’m concerned there are not clear rules.”

Cooperation and Control

The initial American strike in Yemen came on Dec. 17, hitting what was believed to be a Qaeda training camp in Abyan Province, in the southern part of the country. The first report from the Yemeni government said that its air force had killed “around 34” Qaeda fighters there, and that others had been captured elsewhere in coordinated ground operations.

The next day, Mr. Obama called President Saleh to thank him for his cooperation and pledge continuing American support. Mr. Saleh’s approval for the strike — rushed because of intelligence reports that Qaeda suicide bombers might be headed to Sana — was the culmination of administration efforts to win him over, including visits by Mr. Brennan and Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the commander of military operations in the Middle East.

The accounts of the American strikes in Yemen, which include many details that have not previously been reported, are based on interviews with American and Yemeni officials who requested anonymity because the military campaign in Yemen is classified, as well as documents from Yemeni investigators.

As word of the Dec. 17 attack filtered out, a very mixed picture emerged. The Yemeni press quickly identified the United States as responsible for the strike. Qaeda members seized on video of dead children and joined a protest rally a few days later, broadcast by Al Jazeera, in which a speaker shouldering an AK-47 rifle appealed to Yemeni counterterrorism troops.

“Soldiers, you should know we do not want to fight you,” the Qaeda operative, standing amid angry Yemenis, declared. “There is no problem between you and us. The problem is between us and America and its agents. Beware taking the side of America!”

A Navy ship offshore had fired the weapon in the attack, a cruise missile loaded with cluster bombs, according to a report by Amnesty International. Unlike conventional bombs, cluster bombs disperse small munitions, some of which do not immediately explode, increasing the likelihood of civilian causalities. The use of cluster munitions, later documented by Amnesty, was condemned by human rights groups.

An inquiry by the Yemeni Parliament found that the strike had killed at least 41 members of two families living near the makeshift Qaeda camp. Three more civilians were killed and nine were wounded four days later when they stepped on unexploded munitions from the strike, the inquiry found.

American officials cited strained resources for decisions about some of the Yemen strikes. With the C.I.A.’s armed drones tied up with the bombing campaign in Pakistan, the officials said, cruise missiles were all that was available at the time. Drones are favored by the White House for clandestine strikes because they can linger over targets for hours or days before unleashing Hellfire missiles, reducing the risk that women, children or other noncombatants will fall victim.

The Yemen operation has raised a broader question: who should be running the shadow war? White House officials are debating whether the C.I.A. should take over the Yemen campaign as a “covert action,” which would allow the United States to carry out operations even without the approval of Yemen’s government. By law, covert action programs require presidential authorization and formal notification to the Congressional intelligence committees. No such requirements apply to the military’s so-called Special Access Programs, like the Yemen strikes.

Obama administration officials defend their efforts in Yemen. The strikes have been “conducted very methodically,” and claims of innocent civilians being killed are “very much exaggerated,” said a senior counterterrorism official. He added that comparing the nascent Yemen campaign with American drone strikes in Pakistan was unfair, since the United States has had a decade to build an intelligence network in Pakistan that feeds the drone program.

In Yemen, officials said, there is a dearth of solid intelligence about Qaeda operations. “It will take time to develop and grow that capability,” the senior official said.

On Dec. 24, another cruise missile struck in a remote valley called Rafadh, about 400 miles southeast of the Yemeni capital and two hours from the nearest paved road. The Yemeni authorities said the strike killed dozens of Qaeda operatives, including the leader of the Qaeda branch in Yemen, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, and his Saudi deputy, Said Ali al-Shihri. But officials later acknowledged that neither man was hit, and local witnesses say the missile killed five low-level Qaeda members.

The next known American strike, on March 14, was more successful, killing a Qaeda operative named Jamil al-Anbari and possibly another militant. Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch acknowledged Mr. Anbari’s death. On June 19, the group retaliated with a lethal attack on a government security compound in Aden that left 11 people dead and said the “brigade of the martyr Jamil al-Anbari” carried it out.

In part, the spotty record of the Yemen airstrikes may derive from another unavoidable risk of the new shadow war: the need to depend on local proxies who may be unreliable or corrupt, or whose agendas differ from that of the United States.

American officials have a troubled history with Mr. Saleh, a wily political survivor who cultivates radical clerics at election time and has a history of making deals with jihadists. Until recently, taking on Al Qaeda had not been a priority for his government, which has been fighting an intermittent armed rebellion since 2004.

And for all Mr. Saleh’s power — his portraits hang everywhere in the Yemeni capital — his government is deeply unpopular in the remote provinces where the militants have sought sanctuary. The tribes there tend to regularly switch sides, making it difficult to depend on them for information about Al Qaeda. “My state is anyone who fills my pocket with money,” goes one old tribal motto.

The Yemeni security services are similarly unreliable and have collaborated with jihadists at times. The United States has trained elite counterterrorism teams there in recent years, but the military still suffers from corruption and poor discipline.

It is still not clear why Mr. Shabwani, the Marib deputy governor, was killed. The day he died, he was planning to meet members of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch in Wadi Abeeda, a remote, lawless plain dotted with orange groves east of Yemen’s capital. The most widely accepted explanation is that Yemeni and American officials failed to fully communicate before the attack.

Abdul Ghani al-Eryani, a Yemeni political analyst, said the civilian deaths in the first strike and the killing of the deputy governor in May “had a devastating impact.” The mishaps, he said, “embarrassed the government and gave ammunition to Al Qaeda and the Salafists,” he said, referring to adherents of the form of Islam embraced by militants.

American officials said President Saleh was angry about the strike in May, but not so angry as to call for a halt to the clandestine American operations. “At the end of the day, it’s not like he said, ‘No more,’ ” said one Obama administration official. “He didn’t kick us out of the country.”

Weighing Success

Despite the airstrike campaign, the leadership of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula survives, and there is little sign the group is much weaker.

Attacks by Qaeda militants in Yemen have picked up again, with several deadly assaults on Yemeni army convoys in recent weeks. Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch has managed to put out its first English-language online magazine, Inspire, complete with bomb-making instructions. Intelligence officials believe that Samir Khan, a 24-year-old American who arrived from North Carolina last year, played a major role in producing the slick publication.

As a test case, the strikes have raised the classic trade-off of the post-Sept. 11 era: Do the selective hits make the United States safer by eliminating terrorists? Or do they help the terrorist network frame its violence as a heroic religious struggle against American aggression, recruiting new operatives for the enemy?

Al Qaeda has worked tirelessly to exploit the strikes, and in Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric now hiding in Yemen, the group has perhaps the most sophisticated ideological opponent the United States has faced since 2001.

“If George W. Bush is remembered by getting America stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s looking like Obama wants to be remembered as the president who got America stuck in Yemen,” the cleric said in a March Internet address that was almost gleeful about the American campaign.

Most Yemenis have little sympathy for Al Qaeda and have observed the American strikes with “passive indignation,” Mr. Eryani said. But, he added, “I think the strikes over all have been counterproductive.”

Edmund J. Hull, the United States ambassador to Yemen from 2001 to 2004, cautioned that American policy must not be limited to using force against Al Qaeda.

“I think it’s both understandable and defensible for the Obama administration to pursue aggressive counterterrorism operations,” Mr. Hull said. But he added: “I’m concerned that counterterrorism is defined as an intelligence and military program. To be successful in the long run, we have to take a far broader approach that emphasizes political, social and economic forces.”

Obama administration officials say that is exactly what they are doing — sharply increasing the foreign aid budget for Yemen and offering both money and advice to address the country’s crippling problems. They emphasized that the core of the American effort was not the strikes but training for elite Yemeni units, providing equipment and sharing intelligence to support Yemeni sweeps against Al Qaeda.

Still, the historical track record of limited military efforts like the Yemen strikes is not encouraging. Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, examines in a forthcoming book what he has labeled “discrete military operations” from the Balkans to Pakistan since the end of the cold war in 1991. He found that these operations seldom achieve either their military or political objectives.

But he said that over the years, military force had proved to be a seductive tool that tended to dominate “all the discussions and planning” and push more subtle solutions to the side.

When terrorists threaten Americans, Mr. Zenko said, “there is tremendous pressure from the National Security Council and the Congressional committees to, quote, ‘do something.’ ”

That is apparent to visitors at the American Embassy in Sana, who have noticed that it is increasingly crowded with military personnel and intelligence operatives. For now, the shadow warriors are taking the lead.


The Times Of India: 61 MP-bound explosives-laden trucks found missing


JAIPUR: Nearly 300 tonnes of explosives, loaded in 61 trucks, did a vanishing act while on its way to Sagar in Madhya Pradesh from Rajasthan Explosives and Chemicals Limited in Dholpur.

According to the police, they are in possession of documents which show that the trucks had left for Sagar between April and June this year from Dholpur but never reached their destination. The explosives included detonators and gelatin sticks which are classified as Class II explosives and are used in mining. (Hat Tip: Free Republic)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Corner: The President Stands with Sharia

Image Credit: Feminists 4 Sarah Palin

The President Stands with Sharia

By Andy McCarthy

At Andrew Breitbart’s Big Peace site, Frank Gaffney explains.

All of it is worth reading, but I was struck by Frank’s description of three people among the invited company in which President Obama chose to make his announcement in support the Ground Zero mosque:

Ingrid Mattson, the head of a Muslim Brotherhood satellite organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), that was identified by the Justice Department as an unindicted coconspirator in a terrorism financing case (and was proved, in fact, to have sent money to Hamas);

Salam al-Marayati, a self-described supporter of Hezbollah (and one Steve Emerson aptly describes as an anti-anti-terrorist); and

Dalia Mogahed, an apologist for sharia’s subjugation of women who has embraced ISNA, CAIR and other Islamist groups in her role as an Obama appointee to the President’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Friday, August 13, 2010

President Mullah Hussein Endorses Ground Zero Mosque

Barack has always viewed himself as culturally a Muslim, so why is this a surprise?

Weasel Zippers: Obama Supports Building Ground Zero Mosque…

Obama spits in America’s eye…

WASHINGTON (Fox News)President Barack Obama on Friday forcefully endorsed building a mosque near ground zero, saying the country’s founding principles demanded no less.

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has riven New York and the nation.

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”

The Province: Anti-Islam cleric with $60m bounty in Langley

One of the bravest men in the world: Father Zakaria Botros - Cr: Pastor Brian Zahnd

A controversial Christian cleric with a $60-million bounty on his head is in Vancouver.

Sources have told The Province that Father Zakaria Botros, a retired Coptic priest from Egypt, arrived at Vancouver International Airport Wednesday afternoon to little public fanfare -- but an RCMP presence.

Although he lives in exile in the U.S., Botros is little known in the West.

But he is the target of a fatwa and has been named Islam's "public enemy No. 1" by an Arabic newspaper for his fiery critiques of Islam, the Koran and the prophet Muhammad in a television show broadcast weekly on the Arabic-Christian channel al- Hayat or The Life.

Up to 60 million viewers in the Arab world -- as well as in Europe, Australia and North America -- tune in to Botros's show, Truth Talk, to listen to the outspoken cleric preach the gospel, according to World Magazine, which awarded Botros with the Daniel of the Year award in 2008. Read more...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Widow of Medal of Honor recipient can't afford to attend Arlington burial

ST. MARIES, Idaho -- Strangers are stepping up to help the widow of a north Idaho veteran who received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Vernon Baker died at his St. Maries home in July and will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941, served and was wounded in World War II. Vernon was 90 years old.

But Baker's wife of the last 17 years, Heidy Baker, can't afford to attend the burial of her own husband's ashes. Read More...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Canola, Pushed by Genetics, Moves Into Uncharted Territories

Genetically engineered versions of the canola plant are flourishing in the form of roadside weeds in North Dakota, scientists say, in one of the first instances of a genetically modified crop establishing itself in the wild.

How much of a problem this might be is subject to debate. But critics of biotech crops have long warned that it is hard to keep genes — in this case, genes conferring resistance to common herbicides — from spreading with unwanted consequences.

“If there’s a problem in North Dakota, it’s that these crop plants are becoming weeds,” said Cynthia L. Sagers, a biology professor at the University of Arkansas, who led the study. Results were presented Friday at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America.

Canola, whose seeds are pressed to make the popular cooking oil, is a type of oilseed rape developed by breeders in Canada. In the United States, it is grown mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota, though cultivation is spreading.

The roadside plants apparently start growing when seeds blow from fields or fall out of trucks carrying the crops to market. In the plains of Canada, where canola is widely grown, roadside biotech plants resistant to the herbicide Roundup have become a problem, said Alexis Knispel, who has just completed a doctoral dissertation on the subject at the University of Manitoba.

Some farmers, she said, have had to return to plowing their fields to control weeds — a practice that contributes to soil erosion — because they can no longer use Roundup to control the stray canola plants. She also said the proliferation of roadside canola would make it difficult to keep organic canola free of genetically engineered material.

Monsanto, the developer of Roundup Ready canola, one of the modified plants, said the new findings were neither surprising nor worrisome. Even before biotech crops were developed, canola grew on roadsides, it said; now that 90 percent of the canola planted by farmers is engineered, it would be reasonable to expect a similar percentage in roadside samples.

For the North Dakota study, Meredith G. Schafer, a graduate student at Arkansas, and colleagues traversed 3,000 miles of roads, stopping every five miles and taking a sample of one canola plant if there were any growing.

Of the 604 plants collected, 80 percent were genetically engineered, Dr. Sagers said. Some were Roundup Ready, with a gene conferring resistance to Roundup, also known as glyphosate. Others were Liberty Link crops, with a gene conferring resistance to glufosinate.

Two plants were found to have genes conferring resistance to both herbicides, suggesting that the crops resistant to each herbicide had mated.

The biotech canola has also been found growing in Japan, which does not even grow the crop, only imports it.

Scientists have also reported that genetically engineered grass established itself in the wild in Oregon. Monsanto said roadside canola could be controlled by mowing or by other herbicides. Resistance to an herbicide does not give a plant an advantage over others unless that particular herbicide is sprayed.

Dr. Sagers said that in some areas the researchers sampled, Roundup had been sprayed, leaving only the herbicide-resistant canola standing.

Dale Thorenson, assistant director of the United States Canola Association, said there were many weeds far more troublesome than stray canola plants.

Genetically modified corn and soybeans have not established themselves in the wild, even though they are grown on far more acres than canola.

“They are superdomesticated and they just don’t really like to go wild,” said Norman Ellstrand, a professor of genetics at the University of California, Riverside.


I wonder if the wild mated version is covered by anyone's patents?

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Good Don’t Always Die Young

The Godfather of Free Range International – the man who pioneered the techniques, tactics and procedures we use to travel in remote districts was executed last week in Badakhshan Province. Dan Terry was a good man. He was humble, self-effacing, and competent. He lived in Afghanistan with his family and spoke fluent Dari and Pashto. Despite knowing him for over 5 years, I don’t know really much more about him, no war stories or tales of derring d0. I met Dan in 2005 when he was in Kabul through a doctor friend. I learned later he was in town because he had brought in several children for free cleft palate surgery provided by the excellent CURE hospital in Kabul where they were tended post surgery by his wife Seija who heads the nursing section there. Dan was a religious man who used his love of God as inner strength to help lift the conditions of those he chose to live among – and he didn’t need to tell stories about what he’d done.

When we were starting out in the security business he explained how to operate safely, how easy it was to travel around the country (as long as you didn’t have big armored SUV’s) and how to seek food and shelter in remote districts if we ended up on foot for whatever reason. Dan taught me the most important things I know about operating in as a westerner in Afghanistan; be true to your word, speak openly, greet warmly, and always smile."

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Russia accuses US of arms control breaches

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's Foreign Ministry has accused the United States of violating its obligations under bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaties and failing to properly safeguard raidoactive materials.

The Foreign Ministry claimed in Saturday's statement that the U.S. has breached its duties under the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

It said in particular that the U.S. has failed to provide assurances that some of their nuclear missile launchers and bombers converted to carry conventional weapons couldn't be retrofitted.

The ministry also claimed that the U.S. authorities have failed to prevent leaks of radioactive materials and nuclear weapons-related information. It mentioned one case in 2006 when U.S. police found confidential data from Los Alamos National Laboratory leaked to a criminal group dealing with drugs.

Saudi says agreement close on BlackBerry services

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Negotiations between Saudi Arabia and the Canadian maker of BlackBerry telephones are going well and an agreement is imminent, said a Saudi regulatory official Saturday.

The Saudi telecommunications regulatory agency announced earlier this week that BlackBerry's messenger service would be halted on Friday over concerns that its data could not be monitored. Last minute talks, however, staved off the ban.

If an agreement is reached it could have wide-ranging implications for several other countries, including India and the United Arab Emirates, that have issues with the company over how it stores its data.

"Negotiations are ongoing. We agreed to continue the service," said Ahmed Ali, a director with the Saudi telecoms regulatory authority. "The Canadian firm is on its way to agreeing to Saudi requests."

The Saudi-owned, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya also reported Saturday that the crisis had been averted and a deal had been reached to give authorities access to BlackBerry data.

The report said the agreement involved installing servers inside the country that could be monitored and tests were under way. The information could not be independently verified.

The kingdom is one of a number of countries expressing concern that the device is a security threat because encrypted information sent on the phones is routed through overseas computers - making it impossible for local governments to monitor.

The United Arab Emirates has announced it will ban BlackBerry e-mail, messaging and Web browsing starting in October, and Indonesia and India are also demanding greater control over the data.

Analysts say RIM's expansion into fast-growing emerging markets is threatening to set off a wave of regulatory challenges, as its commitment to keep corporate e-mails secure rubs up against the desires of local law enforcement.

RIM says it does offer help to governments, but says its technology does not allow it, or any third party, to read encrypted e-mails sent by corporate BlackBerry users. The consumer version has a lower level of security.

In Saudi Arabia - which local media say has some 750,000 BlackBerry users - the ban has raised accusations the government is trying to further curb freedom of expression.

Saudi Arabia's telecommunications regulator, known as the Communications and Information Technology Commission, announced the imminent ban on Tuesday, saying the BlackBerry service "in its present state does not meet regulatory requirements," according to the state news agency SPA.

Saudi security officials fear the service could be used by militant groups. The kingdom has been waging a crackdown for years against al-Qaida-linked extremists.

Saudi Arabia also enforces heavy policing of the Internet, blocking sites both for political content and for obscenities.

Expectations of the ban have pushed some to sell their devices. At Riyadh's main mobile phone market, dozens of young men on the street were trying to sell the devices, some in their original packaging, and some running at more than half the normal price.

BlackBerry phones are known to be popular both among businesspeople and youth in the kingdom who see the phones' relatively secure communication features as a way to avoid attention from the authorities.


Unbelievable that they would give in to the tyrants.

Just let them ban the thing and the Saudis can go back to smoke signals or whatever

No Fire Support; No Glasses; More 'Chai'; No Warrior Friendly Change!

This morning I got a note from Andy Bostom, a good friend with a passion for the welfare of our troops, with what is now the official release of the good General's assessment of the ROE and his intent. From the story: "Going several steps better, General Petraeus has reportedly expanded the ban on air strikes and artillery fire to all types of buildings, tree-lined areas and hillsides where it is difficult to distinguish who is on the ground." The fact is, not only has he deemed the ROE as proper, he has deemed it not tight enough.

This is a precisely correct assessment in a COIN environment. If it is going to succeed and if the leadership on the ground deems it to be succeeding, each iteration and review of the ROE will be necessarily tighter than it's preceding version. This highlights a problem in the way the media and most of those studying and following this issue view it and assess changes to it. The assumption that a new leader might be willing to 'loosen' the ROE means the person making the assumption, does not understand the doctrine and that is what we have been trying to change; the lack of understanding of COIN.

He has even determined that the wearing of Oakley, polycarbonate safety glasses by our American Warriors to be detrimental to the apparent security of the Afghan population. He has directed that all, 'in-country', make great efforts to meet and greet the locals, without the glasses. For those of you who don't know, those glasses use ballistic lenses that protect against the micro-sand famous in desert terrain, shrapnel, flying debris and, oh yeah; intense sunlight.Read more at Let Them Fight or Bring Them Home.

Diana West: Eyeless in A-Stan

"Live our values," Gen. David Petraeus wrote recently to troops in Afghanistan. "This is what distinguishes us from our enemies."

Unfortunately, this is also what distinguishes us from many of our "friends." This culture-chasm is what makes the infidel struggle for hearts and minds across Islamic lands so recklessly, wastefully futile, something I was once again reminded of on reading Time magazine's cover story featuring 18-year-old Aisha. Aisha is a lovely Afghan girl whose husband and brother-in-law, on instructions from a local judge and Taliban commander, sliced off her ears and nose and left her dying to set an example for other wives thinking of running away from abusive in-laws. Only her discovery by U.S. troops saved Aisha's life.Read More...

Friday, August 06, 2010

UFO Mystic: Manmade UFOs?

Manmade UFOs?

Might this £142.5m combat aircraft unveiled yesterday (and others like it) be responsible for some UFO sightings?


Here’s a short extract:

It may look like the stuff of science fiction but this unmanned jet could be the combat craft of the future.

Named Taranis, after the Celtic god of thunder, the £142.5 million prototype has been unveiled by the Ministry of Defence.

Dubbed the “pinnacle” of British engineering and aeronautical design, it is the size of a light aircraft and has been equipped with advanced stealth technology making it virtually undetectable. Read More...

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Should Videotaping the Police Really Be a Crime?

Anthony Graber, a Maryland Air National Guard staff sergeant, faces up to 16 years in prison. His crime? He videotaped his March encounter with a state trooper who pulled him over for speeding on a motorcycle. Then Graber put the video — which could put the officer in a bad light — up on YouTube.

It doesn't sound like much. But Graber is not the only person being slapped down by the long arm of the law for the simple act of videotaping the police in a public place. Prosecutors across the U.S. claim the videotaping violates wiretap laws — a stretch, to put it mildly.

These days, it's not hard to see why police are wary of being filmed. In 1991, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) beating of Rodney King was captured on video by a private citizen. It was shown repeatedly on television and caused a national uproar. As a result, four LAPD officers were put on trial, and when they were not convicted, riots broke out, leaving more than 50 people dead and thousands injured (two officers were later convicted on federal civil rights charges). (See TIME's special: "15 Years After Rodney King.")

More recently, a New York Police Department officer was thrown off the force — and convicted of filing a false report — because of a video of his actions at a bicycle rally in Times Square. The officer can plainly be seen going up to a man on a bike and shoving him to the ground. The officer claimed the cyclist was trying to collide with him, and in the past, it might have been hard to disprove the police account. But this time there was an amateur video of the encounter — which quickly became an Internet sensation, viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube alone. (Read about the hidden side of the NYPD.)

In the Graber case, the trooper also apparently had reason to want to keep his actions off the Internet. He cut Graber off in an unmarked vehicle, approached Graber in plain clothes and yelled while brandishing a gun before identifying himself as a trooper. (Comment on this story.)

Back when King was beaten, it was unusual for bystanders to have video cameras. But today, everyone is a moviemaker. Lots of people carry video cameras in their pockets, on iPhones, BlackBerrys and even their MP3 players. They also have an easy distribution system: the Internet. A video can get millions of viewers worldwide if it goes viral, bouncing from blog to blog, e-mail to e-mail, and Facebook friend to Facebook friend. (See photos from inside Facebook's headquarters.)

No wonder, then, that civil rights groups have embraced amateur videos. Last year, the NAACP announced an initiative in which it encouraged ordinary citizens to tape police misconduct with their cell phones and send the videos to the group's website,

Law enforcement is fighting back. In the case of Graber — a young husband and father who had never been arrested — the police searched his residence and seized computers. Graber spent 26 hours in jail even before facing the wiretapping charges that could conceivably put him away for 16 years. (It is hard to believe he will actually get anything like that, however. One point on his side: the Maryland attorney general's office recently gave its opinion that a court would likely find that the wiretap law does not apply to traffic stops.)

Last year, Sharron Tasha Ford was arrested in Florida for videotaping an encounter between the police and her son on a public sidewalk. She was never prosecuted, but in June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida sued the city of Boynton Beach on her behalf, claiming false arrest and violation of her First Amendment rights.

The legal argument prosecutors rely on in police video cases is thin. They say the audio aspect of the videos violates wiretap laws because, in some states, both parties to a conversation must consent to having a private conversation recorded. The hole in their argument is the word "private." A police officer arresting or questioning someone on a highway or street is not having a private conversation. He is engaging in a public act.

Even if these cases do not hold up in court, the police can do a lot of damage just by threatening to arrest and prosecute people. "We see a fair amount of intimidation — police saying, 'You can't do that. It's illegal,'" says Christopher Calabrese, a lawyer with the ACLU's Washington office. It discourages people from filming, he says, even when they have the right to film.

Ford was not deterred. According to her account, even when the police threatened her with arrest, she refused to turn off her video camera, telling her son not to worry because "it's all on video" and "let them be who they continue to be."

The police then grabbed her, she said, took her camera and drove her off to the police station for booking.

Most people are not so game for a fight with the police. They just stop filming. These are the cases no one finds out about, in which there is no arrest or prosecution, but the public's freedoms have nevertheless been eroded.

Ford was right to insist on her right to videotape police actions that occur in public, and others should too. If the police are doing their jobs properly, they should have nothing to worry about.


If that were true, Cops, Cheaters and most media would be illegal.