Saturday, August 08, 2009

DAWN.COM | Provinces | Fighting erupts between Taliban rivals

DAWN.COM | Provinces | Fighting erupts between Taliban rivals: "ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government has received reports that shooting broke out between two rivals for the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, and one of them may have been killed, the interior minister said on Saturday.

Pakistani news channels were carrying unconfirmed reports that Hakimullah Mehsud, one of the movement's most powerful commanders, had been killed at a shura, or council meeting, held to decide who would succeed slain leader Baitullah Mehsud.

'The infighting was between Wali-ur-Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud,' Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters.

'We have information that one of them has been killed. Who was killed we will be able to say later after confirming.'"...

Afghan National Police Wounded by Friendly Fire, ISAF Investigating

Digital Video & Imagery Distribution System: "KABUL, Afghanistan – Several Afghan national police were wounded when two AH-64 Apache helicopters responded to small arms fire from insurgents in the early morning hours in Ghazni province, Aug. 8.

The ANP wounded were treated by International Security Assistance Force service members. One has been released from treatment. Four ANP are still being treated, including one who is in critical condition, and three who are in stable condition.

The incident is currently under investigation."...

Al Jazeera English - Asia-Pacific - Jakarta bomb suspect death in doubt

Al Jazeera English - Asia-Pacific - Jakarta bomb suspect death in doubt: "Doubts have surfaced over whether the man killed by Indonesian police in Central Java was Noordin Mohammad Top, the man wanted in connection with the recent bombing of two hotels in Jakarta.

Local television reported that Noordin had been killed in a gun battle with police at a house near the village of Beji, but Al Jazeera has subsequently been told that the body was not that of Noordin.

'He's not yet dead, in fact DNA tests prove that the body that was recovered was not of Noordin Mohammed Top,' Rohan Gunaratna, the head of the Singapore-based centre for violence and terrorism, told Al Jazeera.

'But it is very likely that he will be hunted down in the next few days.'"...

Armed forces to get more snoop-power - India - NEWS - The Times of India

Armed forces to get more snoop-power - India - NEWS - The Times of India: "NEW DELHI: Defence ministry has approved another major induction of spy drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for armed forces, with
surveillance and intelligence-gathering missions becoming critical on the western and eastern fronts as well as along the huge coastline. Army, for instance, is going in for two more “troops” (6-8 birds each) of advanced Heron UAVs from Israel for
Rs 1,118 crore after getting the nod from the Defence Acquisitions Council headed by defence minister A K Antony."...

[bth: the US thinks it owns this space but developing countries are moving up quickly. UAVs are here to stay and are emerging in a big way around the globe. Next week is the AUVSI conference in DC, the biggest annual conference on unmanned systems in the world. Expect news releases]
Informed Comment

New Inertial Measurement Unit Gives Raytheon's Excalibur Ia Increased Reliability - Aug 04, 2009

New Inertial Measurement Unit Gives Raytheon's Excalibur Ia Increased Reliability - Aug 04, 2009

YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz., Aug. 4, 2009 /PRNewswire/ -- Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) fired nine Excalibur Ia-1 precision-guided projectiles from a Paladin gun system. The test validates the increased reliability of the projectile's new Atlantic Inertial Systems inertial measurement unit (AIS IMU). Using the new IMU, Raytheon achieved a 100 percent success rate.

"Excalibur Ia-1 is an extraordinarily capable weapon," said Steve Bennett, Raytheon's Excalibur program director. "In an effort to provide ever-increasing performance and to meet changing operational requirements, we needed an IMU that met Excalibur's stringent standards."

Excalibur Ia-1 tests using the new AIS IMU began 10 months ago and have consistently demonstrated increased precision with an average impact distance of less than 2 meters (about 6 1/2 feet) from the target. These tests clear the way for Raytheon to resume immediate production of Excalibur Ia-1.

"We look forward to providing the warfighter increased quantities of precision Excalibur rounds," said Lt. Col. Mike Milner, U.S. Army Excalibur product manager. "Soldiers and Marines welcome the continued deliveries as Excalibur is critical to the success of their combat operations."

Raytheon continues thorough testing of all its Excalibur variants. Excalibur increment Ia-2 testing demonstrated better than 5 meter (slightly more than 16 feet) accuracy.

"We've got to start thinking of precision in a whole new way," said Jim Riley, Raytheon Missile Systems vice president of Land Combat. "We're used to thinking in terms of the circular error of probability, but precision is the way of the future. CEP doesn't limit collateral damage, nor does it keep our warfighters safe. Excalibur's proven precision is not only effective, it's essential for the protection of combat forces and civilians."

Excalibur Ia-1 has a unique guidance logic that acts as a built-in safety feature. The weapon will not arm itself unless the guidance logic determines it will impact the intended target. If the intended target cannot be hit, Excalibur rounds fly to a predetermined safe impact point....

[wow. this may put artillery back into the fight]

Naval Open Source INTelligence

The Raw Story » ‘Brooks Brothers riot alumni’ connected to anti-health rallies

The Raw Story » ‘Brooks Brothers riot alumni’ connected to anti-health rallies

[bth: bunch of brown shirts]

John Hughes Quote Quiz - The Daily Beast

John Hughes Quote Quiz - The Daily Beast

"Don't give me that liberal yuppie bullshit
about a good fight, this isn't fucking Yale!
A good fight is one you WIN!
--True Believer (1989)"

Andy Borowitz: Taliban Denies Leader Is Dead; Claims Twitter Account Was Down

Andy Borowitz: Taliban Denies Leader Is Dead; Claims Twitter Account Was Down: "A senior commander in the Pakistani Taliban has denied reports that the group's leader was killed in a US missile strike in South Waziristan, claiming instead that the leader's Twitter account was momentarily down.

Haikmullah Mehsud told reporters by telephone on Saturday that Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader the US had supposedly killed, was 'perfectly fine and would begin tweeting again soon.'"...

Ministers back down to give war wounded a better deal | Mail Online

Ministers back down to give war wounded a better deal | Mail Online: "Soldiers wounded in combat are to get higher payouts after ministers signalled a full-scale retreat from the failing compensation scheme.

Defence ministers have ordered that those who risk their lives in the front line must get more than servicemen hurt in training exercises.

They bowed to public pressure to overhaul the discredited system after the outcry at the Defence Ministry's fight in the courts to limit compensation payouts to two servicemen."...

Poor families of war heroes forced to survive on food parcels | Mail Online

Poor families of war heroes forced to survive on food parcels | Mail Online: "Hundreds of families of soldiers fighting in Afghanistan survive on food parcels because they cannot make ends meet, it emerged yesterday.

The extra cost of childcare and phone bills when their low-paid husbands are sent overseas means many women are forced to rely on the charity handouts.

Yesterday the Tories described the situation as a 'betrayal' of the troops risking their lives on the frontline. Young privates earn as little as £16,681 a year."...

Struggling: Hundreds of families of soldiers fighting in Afghanistan survive on food parcels because they cannot make ends meet

New helicopters not safe without Kevlar armour, claim pilots | Mail Online

New helicopters not safe without Kevlar armour, claim pilots | Mail Online: "Pilots have warned that new helicopters being sent to Afghanistan could be flying deathtraps because they do not have the necessary armour plating.

Six Merlin aircraft due to deploy in December lack £100,000 of Kevlar armour, making them vulnerable to small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, it was claimed yesterday.

MoD officials admitted they have received an 'urgent operational requirement' demand from commanders to improve the protection on the Merlins because conditions are tougher in Afghanistan than they were in Iraq, where the helicopters previously served"...

[bth: further indication of a failure to adequately fund or support Britain's troops in combat. So as a result of inadequate equipment casualties are going to go up and shortly thereafter an appeal by the public to withdraw. A further indication of the 'too little too late' philosophy of procurement. We are going to lose this war over this incompetence and neglect if we are not more diligent.]

'Life-saving' Afghanistan Ridgeback armoured trucks are stranded in Dubai | Mail Online

'Life-saving' Afghanistan Ridgeback armoured trucks are stranded in Dubai | Mail Online: "The Ministry of Defence was today rushing three 'stranded' armoured trucks to Afghanistan after they were marooned at an airbase because of a lack of RAF planes.

Nine of the hi-tech Ridgback vehicles have been marooned on the tarmac at an airbase in Dubai during the bloodiest month for British soldiers since the conflict began.

The MoD today denied there was any problem and insists that the trucks were only intended to be used from October.

Last night the backlog had begun to clear as it emerged six of the nine Ridgbacks had been flown to Afghanistan.

But after Tories branded the delay 'inexcusable', two of the final three Ridgbacks were hastily being airlifted by RAF C aircraft.

The third will be moved by the end of the week, officials have promised.

The RAF has been unable to move them because it has committed the necessary aircraft to removing British equipment from Iraq and is overstretched."...

[bth: a further indication of how underfunded, understaffed and incompetent the British military has become.]

Forced to lie for the MoD: Tormented spin doctor blows whistle on the deceptions fed to loved ones of fallen heroes | Mail Online

Forced to lie for the MoD: Tormented spin doctor blows whistle on the deceptions fed to loved ones of fallen heroes | Mail Online: "A civil servant has broken ranks to reveal how he was forced to lie about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

John Salisbury-Baker, 62, was working in the Ministry of Defence when he says he was ordered to deliberately mislead bereaved families and the public.

He claims he was instructed to issue official statements through the media which were 'heavily spun' and clearly at odds with the reality."

Mr Salisbury-Baker was caught up with the huge political storm that has raged for years over the inadequacy of equipment and the safety of the controversial Snatch Land Rover which has been blamed for a series of soldiers' deaths.

Only when the contradictory evidence was overwhelming did the official line from the MoD change, he claims.

Under the Official Secrets Act he is banned from speaking out for fear of prosecution and a possible jail sentence.

But yesterday his partner spoke of his mental anguish and accused the Government of treating the British public like 'fools'.

He was expected to lie for the MoD,' said Christine Brooke, 65. 'It was part of his job and a burden he simply couldn't bear. John tried to speak up but was swimming against the tide.'

In his role as a press officer for the MoD he often came into contact with the families of those soldiers killed in action....

[bth: worth reading in full. It took action by a KIA family to bring the truth out.]

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Ruminations on the Afghan "money pit," etc.

Sic Semper Tyrannis : Ruminations on the Afghan "money pit," etc.: "Afghanistan - Yesterday, I watched file footage of General McChrystal at his confirmation hearing. In it he clearly said that he intended to wage a 'comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign.' (paraphrasing). I hadn't heard that before. Well, he was honest. I mistook him for someone else with different intentions. Did the president and David Jones not know what he intended to do? Did they not talk to him before giving him the job? Did they not see that he would demand more troops? Implicit in his stated intention is the task of creating a new and grand Afghanistan that will be a stout hearted ally of the United States in our quest to make the world an unsafe place for takfiri jihadi folk. As I have said before, this is an enormous task, an enormously expensive task that will take a long time. The American people will grow weary of the whole thing before transformation of Afghanistan is achieved. They will demand an end in one way or another and we will then leave. General McChrystal's 'strategy review' is an interesting thing. Since McChrystal already knew what he intended to do before he left for overseas to take command, what are the conferees strategizing about? I suppose that it must be 'the plan,' in other words, how much".....

[bth; worth reading in full]

Informed Comment: Ahmadinejad sworn in;
Critic worries about Brain Draign and Capital Flight

Informed Comment: Ahmadinejad sworn in; <br> Critic worries about Brain Draign and Capital Flight: ..."I think 2009 will be a big year for capital flight and brain drain from Iran, and if the repression continues, the numbers could rise through Ahmadinejad's 4 years in office. Much poorer Pakistan is producing scientific works that get cited by scientists world-wide in more fields than does Iran. The hard liners have no conception of how destructive for Iran's development prospects their repressive policies really are. Iran is the world's 17th largest country by population, and it should by all rights be among their more wealthy and advanced of such states. So far, not so much."

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Pakistani Christians burnt alive | Video |

Pakistani Christians burnt alive | Video |

This Party Just Took A Turn For The Douche (VIDEO) (NSFW)

This Party Just Took A Turn For The Douche (VIDEO) (NSFW)



GIs, out of Iraq cities, have time on their hands - Yahoo! News

GIs, out of Iraq cities, have time on their hands - Yahoo! News:...."Under a U.S.-Iraq security pact, American combat troops completed their pullback from Iraqi cities on June 30, the first stage of a full withdrawal of American forces by the end of 2011. Quitting the cities leaves a test for Iraq's army and police, which failed to stem a wave of Shiite-Sunni slaughter in 2006. That prompted the U.S. troop surge of 2007, which is widely credited with helping to quell the violence.

'We were doing one mission a day. ... Now it's two missions a week,' Sgt. 1st Class Henry Rhodes, 40, of Sanford, N.C., said, sitting in a Humvee baking in 115-degree heat. 'At the beginning of the agreement, it started getting — I don't know, I wouldn't say boring — we just started running out of things to do.'"...

[bth: time to leave. Our troops are stretched very thin in Afghanistan and these soldiers could be training in the US instead of sitting on base in Iraq]

Report: Iran plane was carrying arms for Hezbollah - Israel News, Ynetnews

Report: Iran plane was carrying arms for Hezbollah - Israel News, Ynetnews: "An Iranian plane crash two weeks ago – which left 168 people dead – was caused by the explosion of sophisticated fuses slated to be delivered to Hezbollah, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Saturday, quoting sources in the Middle East."...

Saeed trial acid test for Pakistan: Krishna - India - NEWS - The Times of India

Saeed trial acid test for Pakistan: Krishna - India - NEWS - The Times of India: "NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s real test that it is acting against India-specific terror will come when it acts “decisively” against Lashkar-e-Taiba chief
Hafiz Saeed, foreign minister S M Krishna said.

On Monday, Pakistan indefinitely adjourned hearings against Saeed, leaving the mastermind of 26/11, a free man.

In an exclusive conversation with TOI, Krishna indicated that foreign secretaries’ talks would be “futile” if Pakistan did not create a “favourable” atmosphere. The sentiment is a marked departure from the controversial joint statement that said foreign secretaries would meet “as often as necessary”.

“Unless they address our concerns on terror and as the PM put it, create a favourable atmosphere for talks, talks will be futile. For any talks you have to build a favourable atmosphere, trust needs to be built up. In its absence, regardless of how many times the PMs or foreign ministers meet or foreign secretaries meet, it will have no impact. Pakistan should address our terror concerns, move decisively against those people named by India, and then tackle them accordingly. This will be the first indication to the government of India that they are moving decisively to tackle terror,” ...

[bth: so Pakistan failed to bring the terrorists to justice again. We might as well give up on the Paki government as a source of justice against terror. Terrorists are their surrogates.]

Pakistani high court suspends case against Hafiz Saeed - The Long War Journal

Pakistani high court suspends case against Hafiz Saeed - The Long War Journal: "Pakistan's highest court has suspended hearings on the government's appeal of the recent release of Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan 'indefinitely' suspended the government's petition to have Saeed placed under house arrest yet again. No reason was given by the court for suspending the hearing.

The suspension took place just two days after India said it has turned over enough evidence to Pakistan to allow it to proceed with the prosecution of Saeed."...

[bth: part of Pakistan's two faced dealing with terrorism and another demonstration of their catch and release program]

RAAF's white elephant in the sky | The Daily Telegraph

RAAF's white elephant in the sky | The Daily Telegraph: "THE RAAF's venerated F-111 strike aircraft, known fondly as the 'Pig', has become the world's most maintenance-intensive war plane.

By the time the remaining 18 F-111s retire late next year, taxpayers will have forked out hundreds of millions of dollars just to keep the 1960s jets in the air.

It takes maintenance crews 180 hours work for every hour that an F-111 jet stays aloft.

By comparison, support crews require only 30 hours for every hour that the world's most expensive fighter plane - the USAF F-22 Raptor stealth jet - spends in the air.

Australia is the only country operating the long-range, supersonic, two-seat F-111 strike aircraft and as such bears the entire cost of operating the planes. With its huge payload and long-range, the jet has had major deterrent value for Australia over the past 40 years but its systems are so out of date it would not last long in a modern war."....

'Combat ban' for Afghanistan helicopters - Telegraph

'Combat ban' for Afghanistan helicopters - Telegraph: "A failure to equip the six Merlin helicopters – which will go to Helmand in December – with proper protection from bullets and rocket-propelled grenades will endanger the lives of passengers and crew, pilots have told The Daily Telegraph.

The disclosures come in the wake of public criticism from military leaders and senior politicians over the shortage of helicopters for British troops in Afghanistan. The shortage has been blamed for some deaths, particularly in cases where troops have had to travel in lightly armoured vehicles on the ground, rather than by air."

The fleet of Merlins will help to alleviate this shortage.However, pilots are angry that requests for Kevlar armour to protect the aircraft have been ignored.

"I don't want people to come back strapped into their seats with bullet holes in them," said a source in the Merlin fleet. "We are going to send aircraft out to Afghanistan that are lacking in the required protection. It will be the same as driving a Snatch Land Rover along a road full of mines."

Senior RAF officers believe that the failure to meet the estimated £100,000 cost of fitting Kevlar armour to each aircraft has become an issue that could prevent them being used on operations in Helmand. As much of the country is unsafe for unprotected aircraft, they are likely to see little service until the problem is remedied.

The MoD might now delay their deployment in order to have them fitted with the armour, or it could deploy them as "a calculated risk".

The Merlins have been successful at negating the threat from surface-to-air missiles during their five-year deployment in Iraq. But in Afghanistan, their lack of armour may make them vulnerable to small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, which they will face when landing in "hot" zones in assaults against the Taliban.

The Daily Telegraph has also previously disclosed the existence of intelligence that the insurgents are actively trying to destroy a British helicopter carrying troops.

An RAF spokesman said: "Our Merlins have ballistic protection as standard, but we are always looking for the best ways to protect our forces. An urgent operational requirement to prepare the Merlin Mk3s for deployment will see the armour up-rated based on the advice of our technical experts."

[bth: unfucking unbelievable. How many British troopers will die because of this penny pinching incompetence. So when a helicopter goes down for lack of proper equipment and its full of troops and then the British public declares they should leave Afghanistan, who will blame them? They will have been beaten by their own MOD bureacuratic incompetence.]

IED video

- The Long War Journal

U.S. Sues First Choice Armor & Equipment For Providing Defective Bullet-Proof Vests To Law Enforcement Agencies

U.S. Sues First Choice Armor & Equipment For Providing Defective Bullet-Proof Vests To Law Enforcement Agencies: "WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States has filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against First Choice Armor & Equipment Inc. and its founder, Edward Dovner, for submitting false claims for bullet-proof vests purchased by the United States for federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, the Justice Department announced today.

First Choice, which manufactured and sold bullet-proof vests containing Zylon fiber from 2000-2005, marketed its vests to law enforcement agencies as a thinner and more lightweight alternative to other bullet-proof vests. The United States alleges that at the same time First Choice was selling its Zylon bullet-proof vests, the company and its founder knew of significant manufacturing and degradation problems in the Zylon fiber that rendered the material unsafe for ballistic use. In fact, when the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice tested eight of First Choice's bullet-proof vests in 2005, all failed.

The United States has also sued Mr. Dovner and Karen Herman, Mr. Dovner's wife and First Choice's president, for a fraudulent conveyance - a transfer of property that is made to swindle, hinder or delay a creditor, or to put such property beyond his or her reach - in violation of the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act. The government alleges that after learning of the investigation into Zylon bullet-proof vests, Mr. Dovner and Ms. Herman removed more than $5 million from First Choice. Mr. Dovner then purchased a Ferrari, a Maserati and a private jet through various shell companies....

Asia Times Online :: US's $1bn Islamabad home is its castle

Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan: ..."According to reports, the US will spend $405 million on the reconstruction and refurbishment of its main embassy building in the diplomatic enclave of the capital; $111 million for a new complex to accommodate 330 personnel; and $197 million to construct about 250 housing units."

For this purpose, the US Embassy has acquired about 7.2 hectares of land at what is widely considered a mark-down price of 1 billion rupees (US$12 million), courtesy of the state-run Capital Development Authority. A Turkish firm has already built a 153-room compound for the embassy.

The fortress-like embassy will eventually accommodate close to 1,000 additional personnel being sent to Islamabad as part of the US administration's decision to significantly raise its profile in the country. The new staffers will augment the current 750-strong American contingent already based in Pakistan; this against a sanctioned strength of 350.

"What appears to be more alarming is that this staff surge will include 350 [US] marines. Additionally, the Americans are pressuring Islamabad to allow the import of hundreds of Dyncorp armored personnel carriers," reported Pakistan’s largest English-language daily Dawn.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Islamabad, Richard W Snelsire, told Asia Times Online that the US was "redoing" the embassy compound as it was 40 years old. He said this was also largely because US aid to Pakistan had tripled to US$1.5 billion a year and therefore additional staff were needed. Snelsire dismissed the report of armored vehicles being used at the embassy and also said the notion of 350 marines being stationed there was "fictitious".

The point can't be denied, though, that the embassy is undergoing massive expansion, and one cannot easily assume all of the new staff will be pencil-pushers.

Indeed, since the last few months of 2008, the Americans have quietly been working on extending their physical footprint in the country.

During this period, about 300 American officials landed at Tarbella, the brigade headquarters of Pakistan's Special Operation Task Force approximately 20 kilometers from Islamabad. They were officially designated as a "training advisory group", according to documents seen by Asia Times Online. (See The gloves are off in Pakistan Asia Times Online, September 23, 2008.)

Investigations by Asia Times Online indicate that this was no simple training program. According to sources directly handling the project, the US bought a huge plot of land at Tarbella, several square kilometers. Twenty large containers were then sent there. They were handled by the Americans, who did not allow any Pakistani officials to inspect them. Given the size of the containers, sources familiar with such shipments believe they carried special arms and ammunition and even possibly tanks and armored vehicles - and certainly nothing to do with any training program.

These developments at Tarbella and now the bigger facility in the heart of Islamabad are reminiscent of American policy in the Middle East, where the Jordanian capital of Amman was turned into a hub for the US's handling of Iraq, Syria and Palestine. ...

Monday, August 03, 2009

Australia Launches Major Anti-Terror Operation

Australia Launches Major Anti-Terror Operation
MELBOURNE, Australia — Police in Australia foiled terrorist plans for commando-style suicide attacks on at least one army base, arresting four men Tuesday with suspected links to a Somali Islamist group, senior officers said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the plot was a "sober reminder" that Australia is still under threat from extremist groups enraged that the country sent troops to join the U.S.-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Some 400 officers from state and national security services took part in 19 pre-dawn raids on properties in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, and arrested four men, all Australian citizens ranging in age from 22 to 26, police said.

Several others were being questioned Tuesday, police said.

Australian Federal Police Acting Commissioner Tony Negus said the raids followed a seven-month surveillance operation of a group of people allegedly linked to al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida-linked Somali extremist organization that has been fighting to overthrow Somalia's transitional government.

The cell's plans included sending members armed with automatic weapons into military bases in Australia, including Holsworthy Barracks on the outskirts of Sydney, Negus said....

Vortex Cannon Blows A Wall Of Bricks Over (VIDEO)

Vortex Cannon Blows A Wall Of Bricks Over (VIDEO)

Off the Charts - Why a Recovery May Still Feel Like a Recession -

Off the Charts - Why a Recovery May Still Feel Like a Recession - "Over all, shipments for nonmilitary purposes were down by 20 percent, while orders fell by 27 percent. The declines in some areas were much larger, with orders for primary metal products, like iron and steel, plunging by 44 percent. The government cannot track orders for semiconductors because Intel will not provide figures, but shipments in that category were down by a third."

Shipments of commercial aircraft and parts fell by just 7 percent, largely because there are long lead times for such orders, and that helped to keep the shipment decline lower than it would otherwise have been. But orders fell 65 percent.

Those declines are not from boom periods. By early 2008, the recession was on, and durable goods shipments were already coming down. They had peaked the previous summer, and the National Bureau of Economic Research later determined the recession began in December 2007.

In reporting the June figures this week, the Census Bureau said durable goods orders for some categories were up from the previous month, although shipments were still declining. That provided more evidence that the recession might be nearing an end. But a return to high levels of orders, or shipments, may be many months away.

[bth: bye bye American manufacturing. People are going to miss it when its gone. In the meantime, it seems the pols don't really give a damn. Compare the response to the US auto industry to the US banking industry in Washington as a case in point. ]

Durable Goods Shipments

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The truth about grit - The Boston Globe

The truth about grit - The Boston Globe: ..."In a recent paper, Dweck and colleagues demonstrated that teaching at-risk seventh-graders about the growth mindset - this included lessons about the importance of effort - led to significantly improved grades for the rest of middle school."

Interestingly, it also appears that praising children for their intelligence can make them less likely to persist in the face of challenges, a crucial element of grit. For much of the last decade, Dweck and her colleagues have tracked hundreds of fifth-graders in 12 different New York City schools. The children were randomly assigned to two groups, both of which took an age-appropriate version of the IQ test. After taking the test, one group was praised for their intelligence - “You must be smart at this,” the researcher said - while the other group was praised for their effort and told they “must have worked really hard.”

Dweck then gave the same fifth-graders another test. This test was designed to be extremely difficult - it was an intelligence test for eighth-graders - but Dweck wanted to see how they would respond to the challenge. The students who were initially praised for their effort worked hard at figuring out the puzzles. Kids praised for their smarts, on the other hand, quickly became discouraged.

The final round of intelligence tests was the same difficulty level as the initial test. The students who had been praised for their effort raised their score, on average, by 30 percent. This result was even more impressive when compared to the students who had been praised for their intelligence: their scores on the final test dropped by nearly 20 percent. A big part of success, Dweck says, stems from our beliefs about what leads to success.

Woody Allen once remarked that “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Duckworth points out that it’s not enough to just show up; one must show up again and again and again. Sometimes it isn’t easy or fun to keep showing up. Success, however, requires nothing less. That’s why it takes grit.

Jonah Lehrer is the author of “How We Decide” and “Proust Was a Neuroscientist.” He is a regular contributor to Ideas.

[bth: persistence is probably more definitive than grit, but it is less likely to sell books]

Army Looking Into Monitoring of Protest Groups -

Army Looking Into Monitoring of Protest Groups - "SEATTLE — The Army says it has opened an inquiry into a claim that one of its employees spent more than two years infiltrating antiwar groups active near one of the nation’s largest military bases. The groups say the employee infiltrated their activities under an assumed name and gained access to their plans as well as names and e-mail addresses of some members.

The man, John J. Towery, a civilian employee at Fort Lewis, south of Tacoma, Wash., works as a criminal intelligence analyst for the post’s Force Protection Division, say officials at Fort Lewis, the nation’s third largest Army post.

The Army would not disclose the nature of the investigation or address the claim that Mr. Towery had shared information about civilians. It said Mr. Towery was not available for an interview."...

He said Mr. Towery told them that the Army had reassigned him, at least temporarily, and that he was being investigated “for espionage.” Mr. Maslauskas Dunn and Mr. Hendricks said they were skeptical of suggestions that Mr. Towery might have infiltrated the group purely on his own, as a so-called renegade without Army approval.

Stephen Dycus, a professor at Vermont Law School who focuses on national security issues, said the Army was prohibited from conducting law enforcement among civilians except in very rare circumstances, none of which immediately appeared to be relevant to the Fort Lewis case. Mr. Dycus said several statutes and rules also prohibited the Army from conducting covert surveillance of civilian groups for intelligence purposes.

“Infiltration is a really big deal,” he said. He said it “raises fundamental questions about the role of the military in American society.”

Catherine Caruso, a spokeswoman for Fort Lewis, said in a written statement that “the Fort Lewis Force Protection Division, under the Directorate of Emergency Services, consists of both military and civilian employees whose focus is on supporting law enforcement and security operations to ensure the safety and security of Fort Lewis, soldiers, family members, the work force and those personnel accessing the installation.”

[bth: a similar situation occurred a couple of years ago in California where the head of the California National Guard was involved in domestic surveillance. ]

Obama Axes Pentagon Plan To Build Billion Dollar Tank In Shape Of Dragon | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Obama Axes Pentagon Plan To Build Billion Dollar Tank In Shape Of Dragon | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Obama Axes Pentagon Plan To Build Billion Dollar Tank In Shape Of Dragon

Congresswoman Says Botched Plastic Surgery Most Important Issue Facing U.S. | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Congresswoman Says Botched Plastic Surgery Most Important Issue Facing U.S. | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Congresswoman Says Botched Plastic Surgery Most Important Issue Facing U.S.

Grit: IQ is overrated - The Boston Globe

Grit: IQ is overrated - The Boston Globe: ..."The subjects were then tracked over the ensuing decades, with the most recent analysis comparing the groups at the age of 40. The differences, even decades after the intervention, were stark: adults assigned to the preschool program were 20 percent more likely to have graduated from high school and 19 percent less likely to have been arrested more than five times.

The Perry Preschool study is a powerful demonstration that early childhood education has lasting benefits. But what skills did the preschool experience actually improve? The initial evidence suggested that the children benefited from dramatic boosts in their IQ scores, but the effect faded with time, and by age 10 it had vanished. James J. Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago, has recently demonstrated that, rather than boost intelligence, the Perry Preschool led to permanent improvements in various personality traits, such as self-control and grit. He argues that it’s time policy makers stop fixating on academic test scores and instead devote resources to improving these attributes.

“Our educational approach in America is rather misguided,” Heckman says. “We’ve been focused on cognitive this, cognitive that, but we’ve mostly ignored the traits and skills that actually predict success in life.�"

War effort is being hampered by troops too unfit to deploy | UK news | The Observer

War effort is being hampered by troops too unfit to deploy | UK news | The Observer: "Britain's war effort is being hampered by the number of front-line troops who are too fat or unfit to be deployed to southern Afghanistan.

A leaked memo sent to all army units and obtained by the Observer reveals that basic fitness policy 'is not being carried out' and highlights concern among military commanders over a 'worrying trend of obesity' that is limiting the number of soldiers fit enough to fight in Helmand. Units are routinely failing to fulfil the army's basic fitness regime of two hours of physical exercise a week, it adds, and the army must 'reinvigorate a warrior ethos'.

To counter the problem, the army will introduce a 'body composition measurement' policy this October to weed out overweight troops as well as enforcing a bare minimum of three physical training sessions a week.

'The numbers of personnel unable to deploy and concerns about obesity throughout the army are clearly linked to current attitudes towards physical training,' states the emergency memo from Major Brian Dupree of the army physical training corps in Wiltshire. He warns that Britain's 'operational effectiveness' is being undermined and that soldiers' lives could be placed at risk because some are unable to cope with the brutal conditions of Helmand province and the stresses of combat."...

Welsh Guards bear brunt as Afghan death toll rises - Times Online

Welsh Guards bear brunt as Afghan death toll rises - Times Online: ..."The operation is a part of a larger and ongoing series of British operations, named “Panchai Palang” (Panther’s Claw), designed to methodically take and then hold the territory around Lashkar Gah. Meanwhile, the much larger US operation launched last Thursday, Operation Khanjar, is pushing 4,000 US Marines supported by more than 180 aircraft into the Taleban’s lines of supply further south down to the Pakistan border.

The Taleban are likely to play for time. In a message to his fighters intercepted by Afghan intelligence in Helmand last week the commander of Taleban fighters in the province, Mullah Naim Barach, told his followers: “If the pressure becomes too much just store the weapons where you can and collect them again later.” The Taleban fight not to win, but to outlast.

Interviewed six days before his death, Colonel Thorneloe said: “It is a big hit to lose someone but there is an absolute understanding that the mission is vital and that those we’ve lost wouldn’t have wanted to be elsewhere and they would want us to see it through."

Military May Ban Twitter, Facebook as Security ‘Headaches’ | Danger Room |

Military May Ban Twitter, Facebook as Security ‘Headaches’ | Danger Room | "The U.S. military is strongly considering a near-total ban on Twitter, Facebook, and all other social networking sites throughout the Department of Defense, multiple sources within the armed forces tell Danger Room.

It’s the latest twist in the Defense Department’s tangled relationship with so-called “Web 2.0″ sites. But while earlier social media blockades have been thrown up over bandwidth and secrecy concerns, this fresh ban stems from fears that Facebook and the like make it far too easy for hackers and cybercrooks to gain access to the military’s networks."...

[bth: this is bull shit. It is a further attempt to 'manage the message' by isolating soldiers and marines from the public.]

Government to cut wounded soldiers’ awards - Times Online

Government to cut wounded soldiers’ awards - Times Online: "The government will this week launch an attempt to deny soldiers crippled in battle full compensation for their injuries.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will go to the Court of Appeal on Tuesday to try to slash the compensation awarded to two injured soldiers by up to 70%. If the government wins, it will fuel the mounting disquiet over the relatively paltry payments some soldiers are receiving for lifelong injuries.

The legal action comes as British troops are suffering their heaviest casualties since the beginning of the conflict in Afghanistan in 2001."...

[bth: a further indication of the dismal public interest in the welfare of UK's soldiers. MOD is screwing these guys over. First they are given suboptimal equipment - trucks - that get blown up with disastrous results. Then they can't get medically evacuated on time because there aren't enough UK helicopters so they have to borrow them from the US. Then they get to the UK, are discharged and cheated on what it costs to compensate them for being permanently disabled. Just a total screw job. Ironically there was a similar disdain for treatment by the British government of wounded after WWI but then a public social movement swelled up to do something about it. The crown did not want to suggest at the time that it had an obligation to treat its subjects. As critical as I am about the US military's handling of many of these issues, the public has responded and most issues eventually get corrected. I'm not seeing this in the UK. I noticed it two years ago when I was in London - its as if out of sight out of mind.]

The unmanned systems tsunami

The unmanned systems tsunami (SWJ Blog)
...Two recent reports are reminders of the scope of the coming unmanned system tsunami. First, the Air Force released its Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Flight Plan 2009-2047. Lt. Gen. David Deptula’s ISR directorate is leading this planning effort, which will have implications for every aspect of the Air Force for the next several decades (click here for a transcript of his recent presentation at the Pentagon). Slides 15-20 of the UAS flight plan display the Air Force’s ambition to dominate UAS activity from nano-sized vehicles through large cargo-sized aircraft. The presentation also indicates the Air Force’s awareness that unmanned systems will transform its doctrine, training, and culture.

The U.S. Navy hired RAND to study its plans for unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs). RAND studied the Navy’s list of possible missions for UUVs and compared those to the near-term prospects for UUV technology (click here for the RAND report). RAND recommended that the Navy pursue UUV development in seven mission categories: mine countermeasures, leave-behind sensor deployment, harbor monitoring, oceanography, undersea infrastructure, identification/inspection, and anti-submarine warfare. Naval mines and adversary diesel submarines threaten the Navy’s future access to parts of the western Pacific and Persian Gulf. According to RAND, UUVs provide a possible solution. As for naval aviation and the support it provides for ground forces, this study from CSBA shows the future for unmanned carrier-based strike aircraft.

On one level, a RAND report and two PowerPoint presentations are no more than just embryonic studies. In addition, unmanned vehicles have yet to confront defended spaces or hostile electronic countermeasures, concerns General Deptula readily acknowledged.

Yet no one should doubt the unmanned tsunami is on its way. Robert Gates badly thrashed the Air Force until it increased its UAV presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. The upcoming QDR is certain to prominently promote UAS and UUV development. In addition, in his review of the Army’s FCS program, Gates terminated the combat vehicles but retained much of the sensors and unmanned systems. So unmanned systems are getting close attention from the top of the Pentagon.

In his presentation at the Pentagon, General Deptula likened UAS development to where airpower was in the 1920s. Then, rickety platforms needed to mature and military planners needed to imagine new battlefield doctrines. Pressured by OSD if by nothing else, the Air Force and Navy will push ahead with their unmanned plans. Army and Marine Corps leaders need to involve themselves in those plans to avoid being left behind.

YouTube - This guy is the Freaking Funniest Guy Ever

YouTube - This guy is the Freaking Funniest Guy Ever

Remains of pilot missing 18 years in Iraq found -

Remains of pilot missing 18 years in Iraq found - ...."The Iraqi said he knew of two other Iraqis who recalled an American jet crashing and the remains of the pilot being buried in the desert, the Pentagon said.

'One of these Iraqi citizens stated that they were present when Captain Speicher was found dead at the crash site by Bedouins and his remains buried,' the Defense Department said in a statement.

The military recovered bones and multiple skeletal fragments and Speicher was positively identified by matching a jawbone and dental records, said Rear Adm. Frank Thorp"He said the Iraqis told investigators that the Bedouins had buried Speicher. It was unclear whether the military had information on how soon Speicher died after the crash......

This image provided by the U.S. Navy Oct. 11, 2002 shows a photo of Navy Capt. Michael 'Scott' Speicher, the F/A-18 'Hornet' pilot who was shot down over Iraq on the opening night of Operation Desert Storm in Jan. 1991. The Pentagon initially declared him killed, but uncertainty led officials over the years to change his official status a number of times to 'missing in action' and 'missing-captured.'