Saturday, January 23, 2010

Widespread problems found on LPDs, other ships - Navy News, news from Iraq - Navy Times

Widespread problems found on LPDs, other ships - Navy News, news from Iraq - Navy Times: "Navy engineers are tackling a raft of problems discovered aboard warships built at the Gulf Coast yards of defense giant Northrop Grumman — including faulty welds, lube-oil problems and a defective engine — in the latest installment of the ongoing saga between the Navy and its largest shipbuilder.

Inspectors are rechecking every pipe weld aboard every ship built in the last several years at Avondale, La., or Pascagoula, Miss., including destroyers and small- and big-deck amphibs, after discovering so many problems that all pipe welders and Navy inspectors at both yards had to be decertified and then recertified to work on ships.

Navy officials didn’t have information Thursday morning about how many people had to requalify to work in the yards, or how many people couldn’t requalify and were dismissed. The disbarring and reapplication took place last summer, when some of the problems were first discovered.

Navy Times asked NavSea for comment from its senior leadership, but none had arrived as of early Thursday afternoon. A major question was how or why NavSea’s inspectors approved work that subsequent Navy inspections later found inadequate."...

[bth: holy shit, why are we putting up with this crappy QA from Northrop Grumman? Are they ordained by God to get contracts regardless of the quality or lack of quality in their work?]

Afghanistan bans fertilizer chemical used in bombs | Antiwar Newswire

Afghanistan bans fertilizer chemical used in bombs | Antiwar Newswire: "The Afghan government banned a fertilizer chemical on Friday that was used in the devastating Oklahoma City bombing and in most of the homemade explosives that have killed and maimed hundreds of American soldiers here.

NATO troops have seized tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in raids over the last five months in southern Afghanistan, and the government has been discouraging farmers from using it for years for environmental reasons.

Still, the government believes the new ban will make it more difficult for the Taliban to replenish supplies of ammonium nitrate, which the U.S. think tank Globalsecurity.com says has been used in more than 90 percent of the homemade bombs, the biggest killer of NATO troops in Afghanistan.

NATO announced Friday that another service member was killed in a blast Friday in southern Afghanistan but did not release the victim's nationality.

Such 'fertilizer bombs' have also been used in Iraq in attacks against government security forces. The U.S. military said Friday that seven 55-gallon drums of ammonium nitrate were recovered after a truck bomb only partially detonated during an attack the day before at an Iraqi army checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul.

Earlier this month, Iraqi security forces in Baghdad arrested 25 people and seized 66 gallons (250 liters) of ammonium nitrate.

President Hamid Karzai issued the decree banning the use, production, storage, purchase or sale of ammonium nitrate on the recommendation of Afghan intelligence services and the ministries of agriculture and interior, according to a government statement.

Farmers have one month to turn in their stocks or face prosecution, the statement said.

A number of countries, including Germany, Colombia, Ireland, the Philippines and China, have banned ammonium nitrate fertilizer and most U.S. states regulate its use after the chemical was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people, and the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali in which 202 people died."....

[bth: this is probably a very good idea. I would only add that there are 2 plants which make this stuff in Pakistan which should catch on fire and we should be subsidizing urea based fertilizers so that farmers have no excuse not to switch. The rest of the article makes this point from the Afghan perspective. We should be listening if we are really going to run a COIN operation.]

Politics Articles | How Many Gitmo Alumni Are Actually Back in the Fight? | Miller-McCune Online Magazine

Politics Articles | How Many Gitmo Alumni Are Actually Back in the Fight? | Miller-McCune Online Magazine: ..."A similar report that surfaced in May said 1 in 7 detainees likely returned to battle. Now, the Defense Department says that number has risen to 1 in 5 without offering additional evidence.

Professor Mark Denbeaux, director of the Seton Hall Law School Center for Policy and Research, has analyzed similar Pentagon claims previously made about Guantanamo recidivism and found them to be false.

'This is the 46th time the government has spoken on the question of recidivism,' Denbeaux said. 'It's the fourth time the DoD has. Their numbers have changed every time. At no point have they ever matched names with numbers. There is the following statement. We have no names. We have no numbers. We have approximate percentages for which we have some trends, and it's an inexact science.'

The last claim by the Pentagon in April involved less than half the confirmed cases and only 15 named suspects, two of whom were never held at Guantanamo, according to Denbeaux.

The researchers noted that 'returning to the fight' has included speaking critically of the U.S. detention policy. It has also included five Uighur separatists — members of a Chinese Muslim community seeking independence from China — who have been peacefully staying in an Albanian refugee camp, but one of whom wrote The New York Times asking the American government to respect the right of habeas corpus."...

[bth: would it be too much to ask that we deal in facts and figures. The Pentagon loses its credibility when it fabricates number or their numbers don't reconcile with facts. This is a needless distraction from the core issue which should be fact based. I would only note that the recidivism rates are a fraction of those of US prisons which approach 2/3rds.]

Saudi: Bodies of 20 soldiers found on Yemen border | Antiwar Newswire

Saudi: Bodies of 20 soldiers found on Yemen border | Antiwar Newswire: ..."The Saudis have been relying on artillery and air power to defeat the rebels without risking manpower, but the casualties mostly come when ground forces attempt to move into areas that were shelled."

[bth: this is the last sentence in the article describing how 133 Saudi soldiers were killed. they were shelled by their own forces]

FT.com / US / Politics & Foreign policy - White House nightmare persists

FT.com / US / Politics & Foreign policy - White House nightmare persists: ..."In fact, exit polls from Mr Obama’s election showed that almost two-thirds of the voters cited the economy as their chief concern, with fewer than one in 10 mentioning healthcare. Mr Emanuel is also perceived to have mishandled the day-to-day logistics of getting healthcare through Congress.

By leaving the scripting of the details of the healthcare bill to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, the White House openly courted the risk of chaos. Tellingly, in his victory speech in Boston on Tuesday, Scott Brown, the new Republican senator, cited voter disdain for the sight of lots of “old men” on Capitol Hill bickering over healthcare reform at a time when their priority was jobs.

“I haven’t seen Rahm Emanuel except on television,” Jim Pascrell, a Democratic lawmaker from New Jersey, told Politico, the news website, on Friday. “We used to see him a lot; I’d like him to come out from behind his desk and meet with the common folk.”"...

[bth: its the economy stupid.]

MA Special Eleciton stats

Washington Post-Kaiser-Harvard Massachusetts special election poll




[bth: I think people want effective government that works for them. The last year saw government working for big business and not Main St. Americans]


Friday, January 22, 2010

YouTube - Best Guitar Performance Ever - Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing (live) - Best Part

YouTube - Best Guitar Performance Ever - Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing (live) - Best Part

YouTube - Alan Parsons Project-Eye In The Sky

YouTube - Alan Parsons Project-Eye In The Sky

U.S. ambassador puts brakes on plan to utilize Afghan militias against Taliban - washingtonpost.com

U.S. ambassador puts brakes on plan to utilize Afghan militias against Taliban - washingtonpost.com: "The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and senior Afghan officials have resisted moving forward with a bold and potentially risky initiative to support local militias in Afghanistan that are willing to defend their villages against insurgents, according to U.S. officials.

Their concerns have slowed the implementation of a key effort to provide security in places where there are relatively few NATO forces or Afghan police and Army units. U.S. military officials had wanted to get the initiative -- developed under the leadership of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan -- off to a quick start this year.

The plan was to take advantage of the emergence of informal village security forces that were taking up arms against outside insurgents. The hope was that the new program could yield thousands of new security forces relatively fast, bridging the gap until more army and police forces could be trained. But before the initiative can be implemented on a broader scale, Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry must approve the release of more money for it."...

[bth: reading the whole article it is clear that our intelligence sucks so bad we don't know if we are giving guns to the bad guys or the good guys.]

Political correctness has run amok in the US military - Threat Matrix

Political correctness has run amok in the US military - Threat Matrix: "There seems to be a clear double standard at work in the US military's information operations; it is apparently perfectly okay, even requisite, to mention the enemy's religion when we are apologizing for some slight or error, but it is almost always verboten when reporting on the enemy's actions against us in the name of that religion.

There is something wrong when the US military has time to issue a press release on the destruction of Korans in Afghanistan (we don't even know who destroyed the Korans, based on the release, but rest assured the US military will be accused of doing it), but in an 86-page report on last fall's murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, it cannot mention the shooter's name or note that the attack was carried out by a Muslim terrorist who was inspired by a radical Islamist preacher linked to al Qaeda and based in Yemen."...

[bth: Roggio certainly has a point]

BBC News - Why Pakistan will not mount new attacks on militants

BBC News - Why Pakistan will not mount new attacks on militants: "With its announcement that it will launch no new offensives against the Taliban in 2010, Pakistan's army appears to have opened a new innings in its favourite game with the West, says the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad.

For the United States, the statement by the Pakistan army could not have come at a worse time."...

For Washington, in particular, the military's U-turn will have far-reaching consequences.

Without Pakistani soldiers pressurising the Taliban in the tribal areas, it will be mission impossible for US forces in Afghanistan.

Diplomatic wrangling

Even with the additional 40,000 troops, it will not be possible to contain the insurgents.

With 2010 already being called a defining moment in the current conflict, the military has risked the all-out ire of the US with its decision.

But it appears to have thought out the move, given that it has gone public at a time when the US defence secretary is in Pakistan.

The military believes it has strong reasons not to move against the militants.

Many senior military officials have been angered by what they see are recent moves by the US and the UK to expand India's involvement in Afghanistan.

They see this as being specifically targeted against Pakistani interests.

There is also the matter of promised US aid to Pakistan, most of which has been delayed due to diplomatic wrangling.

US officials say much of the aid has been held up because of delays in processing visas for officials attached to the projects.

US army officer during exit a helicopter during an air assault operation on the town of Oshaky  in Afghanistan
Without Pakistani offensives, will it be mission impossible for US forces?

But Pakistani intelligence officials say that many of these officials actually end up involved in activities "beyond their charter of duties".

In common parlance, its means the officials are seen as spies.

Extremely unhappy

The military's decision has also put the Pakistan government, with which it has been at odds of late, in an embarrassing position.

The military's unhappiness at the government stems from what it sees as its pandering to US demands at every turn.

One example which intelligence officials quote at liberty, is the manner in which US special forces personnel are allowed to enter and move around Pakistan without being documented by immigration.

Officials say the military is extremely unhappy with the interior ministry on this count.

The shaky PPP-led government, for its part, is too busy rolling from one political crisis to another to really take this matter in hand.

On a more direct note, Pakistan's military has also been demanding that the US give it more advanced helicopters and transfer its drone technology.

They say as the frontline state against the Taliban, such equipment is needed for greater success.

The US has, however, rejected these demands so far.


[bth: as usual we see several things: 1. the Pak military is seeing to it that the Taliban is not defeated and has a place to retreat to in the face of a US offensive. 2. we have a shake down occurring whereby the Pak army is essentially coin operated. 3. we see a battle between the military officers and the civilian government over who can steal the US aid money first. As a side note the is some backtracking being done by the Pentagon to say that Xe international, formerly Blackwater isn't in Pakistan. If memory serves a month or so ago their contract in Paksitan for UAV support was not renewed, hence I think we are seeing a partially true statement about whether Xe/Blackwater was there or not. Based on an interview that Mr. Prince did last year I'd assume that Blackwater has been there under US contract and is likely there still perhaps under another corporate name.]

US to supply 'Shadow' drones to Pakistan: officials - Yahoo! News

US to supply 'Shadow' drones to Pakistan: officials - Yahoo! News: "ISLAMABAD (AFP) – The United States plans to provide Pakistan with a dozen unarmed drone aircraft that will help bolster its military as it takes on Taliban militants, US defence officials said.

Details of the drones emerged late Thursday during a visit to Pakistan by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was asked in an interview with Pakistani television if Washington would supply Islamabad with the unmanned aircraft.

'There are some tactical UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that we are considering, yes,' Gates said.

Defence officials in his delegation afterward confirmed funds had been set aside to secure 12 Shadow aerial drones for Pakistan.

The Shadow drones, smaller than the armed Predator and Reaper aircraft, are about 11 feet (three metres) long and have a wing-span of 14-feet, with sensors and cameras feeding video images back to operators on the ground.

The Pakistani military already had some less sophisticated drones for surveillance but would need to heavily invest in training specialists to be able to take advantage of the new hardware, said US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity."...

[bth: so long as this technology isn't handed over to the Chinese, this is a good move. Pakistan is developing its own UAV technology but the Shadow is a good vehicle and should serve their interests well.]

EFF: Court ruling means ’surveillance of Americans immune from review’ | Raw Story

EFF: Court ruling means ’surveillance of Americans immune from review’ | Raw Story: "A US District Court judge in San Francisco has dismissed a lawsuit brought against the US government by individuals who say their rights were infringed by the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy watchdog that participated in the lawsuit, described the judge's ruling as declaring 'that mass surveillance of Americans is immune from judicial review.'

Nine plaintiffs -- five customers of telecom companies from California and four others from Brooklyn -- had sued the NSA arguing that their rights had been infringed by the wiretapping program, which potentially could have spied on anyone in the United States.

'This ruling robs innocent telecom customers of their privacy rights without due process of law,' EFF legal director Cindy Cohn said in a statement. 'Setting limits on executive power is one of the most important elements of America's system of government, and judicial oversight is a critical part of that.'

But the judge's decision did not directly address the issue of limiting executive power. In his ruling (PDF), District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker argued that the plaintiffs could not prove that they were personally harmed by NSA wiretapping."

[bth: one wonders why the courts have turned their backs on warrantless wiretaps. When did Americans agree to surrender their constitutional rights.]

Newark Post - Archives > News > Glasgow ceramic body armor firm enters into deferred prosecution agreement

Newark Post - Newark, DE > Archives > News > Glasgow ceramic body armor firm enters into deferred prosecution agreement: "A Glasgow maker of ceramic inserts used in military body armor agreed to a fine under agreement with the U.S. Attorneys office for Delaware.

United States Attorney David C. Weiss, and Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge Edward T. Bradley, announced that on Jan. 21 Ceramic Protection Corporation of America (CPC America) entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.

CPC America is a Delaware corporation with its main locatino at 101 Lake Drive, in Glasgow.
According to criminal Information filed in conjunction with the deferred prosecution agreement, on March 10, 2005, CPC America entered into a supply agreement with ArmorWorks, Incorporated (“ArmorWorks”) to supply ArmorWorks with ballistic ceramic plates for Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (“ESAPIs”) for body armor used by the U.S. military.

According to the Information, the ArmorWorks Contract stated, in part, “. . . Further, each plate shall be made of the same material, according to the same formula, and by the same process as the plates that passed the Government’s first article testing.” On August 3, 2005, ArmorWorks received first article testing approval for production using CPC America ballistic ceramic plates..

The Information further alleges that on August 29, 2006, in response to a letter from ArmorWorks concerning changes in materials and the method of manufacture of ceramic tiles, CPC America sent a letter to ArmorWorks denying that changes had occurred, stating in pertinent part: “Specifically, in response to your speculation that Alanx [predecessor of CPC America] has had a process change or materials process change, the answer is that there has been no process change or materials process change since the qualification of our ESAPI product.”, when, as CPC America knew, process changes had occurred.

The criminal Information alleges that from March 10, 2005, to October 2006, CPC America falsified a material fact by certifying that the ESAPIs CPC America provided to ArmorWorks pursuant to the ArmorWorks Contract were manufactured in accordance with all required specifications, when in fact individuals acting on behalf of CPC America knew they were not.

Under the agreement with the Glasgow comapny, the government agrees to dismiss the criminal Information if CPC America satisfies certain requirements, including payment of a fine, over a one year period. No dollar figure was announced.

“I applaud DCIS for its diligence and exceptional dedication in this investigation,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss. “This case demonstrates our commitment to national security and, specifically, to protecting our troops who are in harm’s way in defense of our nation."

[bth: Hold on here. They were producing off spec ESAPI body armor plates for several years and just got a damned fine?]

Venture Capitalists Starved Tech Start-Ups in 2009 - NYTimes.com

Venture Capitalists Starved Tech Start-Ups in 2009 - NYTimes.com: ..."In 2009, venture capitalists invested $17.7 billion in 2,795 start-ups — 37 percent less cash and 30 percent fewer deals than in 2008. Internet companies, which have excited investors for more than a decade, took a big hit as investment declined 39 percent.

Only one Internet company, Twitter, was represented in the 10 biggest venture deals of 2009; it raised $100 million.

And although several of the largest deals involved so-called clean technology companies, including Solyndra, a maker of solar panels, and Silver Spring Networks, which sells energy-efficiency technology to utilities, overall investment in clean tech tumbled 52 percent.

Venture capitalists were virtually paralyzed last year. Financing of start-ups raising money for the first time fell to the lowest level since PricewaterhouseCoopers and the venture capital association started tracking venture investment in 1995. In the last three months of the year, though, investment in the youngest companies picked up slightly, giving hope to entrepreneurs.",,,

[bth: unless the IPO market improves. Unless there is improvement in the level of VC investing, you will not see small growth companies growing. The capital markets are locked up right now.]

Thursday, January 21, 2010

US firm backs off on 'Bible' scopes

The Raw Story | US firm backs off on 'Bible' scopes: "A US firm sought to quiet a controversy over coded Biblical references inscribed on gunsights used by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan Thursday, announcing it was providing the military with kits to remove them.

Muslim and religious freedom groups have reacted angrily after it emerged that Trijicon has contracts to supply over 800,000 of the gunsights to the US military.

Critics charged that the company was putting US troops in danger in Muslim-majority nations where the US military presence is already bitterly resented."...

[bth: this is illegal and puts US troops in danger. Why the hell was this going on in the first place and why wasn't it stopped years ago?]

Coakley Could Have Won If Unions Had Gone In Sooner: Study

Coakley Could Have Won If Unions Had Gone In Sooner: Study:... "'Coakley won union voters who had heard from their union by 10 points, while losing those who said they had not heard from their union by 5 points.'

Had unions been able to reach more people, and moved the vote breakdown to 60 percent for Coakley, 40 percent for Brown, 'Coakley would have won the race by 2 points,' the study concludes. (Union households usually vote 65-35 in favor of the endorsed candidate, the survey also notes.)

Skeptics could argue that the problem wasn't a lag in Big Labor's 'get out the vote' operations, but rather the lack of enthusiasm that workers had for the Democratic Party. Indeed, another takeaway from the AFL-CIO's data is that the working class simply revolted during this election.

But the dissatisfied union voter was at the very least persuadable. The internal AFL-CIO polling noted that 'the union vote moved toward Coakley by at least 5 points over the last week [when unions were on the ground], while her position with non union voters deteriorated further over that time period.' In short: had they been reached, union members would have voted for Coakley. The problem was, not enough were reached in time.

'Union members can't be taken for granted,' said a labor source who confirmed the statistics. And in Massachusetts, 'we weren't called in to the emergency till the end.'"

[bth: in fairness to the unions, Coakley actually has to ask for their votes. What's more she has to talk about jobs and what she is going to do about getting more jobs. She did not do this. She actually lost the police union for example. She did not address the core issue of jobs and ran her campaign like she was running for AG instead of US Senator.]

Robert Greenwald: "Shoot Anything That Moves": Brave New Films Interviews Coakley Campaign Pollster Celinda Lake and PCCC Co-Founder Stephanie Taylor [VIDEO]

Robert Greenwald: "Shoot Anything That Moves": Brave New Films Interviews Coakley Campaign Pollster Celinda Lake and PCCC Co-Founder Stephanie Taylor [VIDEO]

Suburbs carried Brown to victory - The Boston Globe

Suburbs carried Brown to victory - The Boston Globe:... "“It was a spontaneous, organic outpouring from people who are angry,’’ Hedlund said. “Something was definitely percolating out there, and it’s big. There’s a lot of frustration with what’s going on in Washington and what’s happening on Beacon Hill.’’

Brown carried Worcester County by about 60,000 votes, Plymouth County by more than 50,000, and Essex County by 35,000 votes. His statewide victory margin was about 110,000 votes, or 5 percent.

In Worcester County, Coakley won the city of Worcester but by only 2,000 votes. Brown more than offset that by winning the city’s largest suburb, Shrewsbury. Coakley also edged Brown in the affluent town of Harvard, but Brown trounced her in 57 other cities and towns, many by margins of more than 2-to-1, in the big Central Massachusetts county.

It was a similar story in Plymouth County, a sea of red with one blue island on color-coded election results maps. Coakley won Brockton, but only by 2,100 votes with a 41 percent turnout in the city. Brown won the 20 towns in the county, in most cases by large margins.

Middlesex County was supposed to be Coakley’s firewall. She lives in Medford, and before becoming attorney general, she served two terms as Middlesex district attorney. But she won the county by fewer than 24,000 votes out of about 550,000 cast.

In overwhelmingly Democratic Boston, Coakley pulled 69 percent of the vote, giving her a margin coming out of the city of about 59,000 votes. She rolled up huge margins in the predominantly black and Hispanic wards of the city, but the turnout was so light that it did not give her much of a lift. In Roxbury’s Ward 12, for instance, she beat Brown, 3,529 votes to 131, a 27-to-1 margin. The turnout, however, was only 34 percent"

[bth: its about JOBS. These are the counties that are getting pounded with a shrinking manufacturing base. Its the high tech corridor that can't get capital to grow. Wake up! Its about JOBS.]

Obama's Job Number One: More Jobs

Obama's Job Number One: More Jobs: ..."He said as much in a first-year anniversary interview with ABC News, acknowledging that he had made a mistake in not making his aims clear to the American public – a failure he already had planned to correct but which now had become more imperative.

'We were so busy getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us, that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people,' Obama said. 'I think the assumption was, if I just focus on policy ... that people will get it. And I think that, you know, what they've ended up seeing is this feeling of remoteness and detachment.'

Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs conceded that the White House allowed confusion over the health care proposals to persist and to drown out the administration's economic efforts – all playing a role in stoking the kind of voter anger that was a factor in Coakley's defeat.

Said Gibbs: 'That anger is now pointed at us because we're in charge. And rightly so.'

Obama was expected to try out his retooled message first on Thursday, in a White House event on the financial regulatory overhaul that is his next big legislative push. On Friday he travels to recession-battered Ohio for a town hall meeting on the economy."....

[bth: Mr. President, the problem is not with the American public. It is not with more speeches. Its the fact that you and the Congress are spending more time pandering to Wall Street and Lobbyists and less time focusing on Main Street. Jobs, credit cards, foreclosures, closed plants....]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Iran ordered attack on Israeli convoy, Jordanian source say | Middle East

Iran ordered attack on Israeli convoy, Jordanian source say | Middle East: "Last week's failed attempt on the lives of Israeli diplomats in Jordan was apparently carried out on instructions from Teheran, sources close to Jordan's General Intelligence Department (GID) revealed on Monday.
Jordanian bombs squad members...

Jordanian bombs squad members inspect the site where a bomb targeted a convoy of cars from the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan, Thursday.

The sources said the GID was investigating the possibility that the explosives used in the attack had been smuggled into the kingdom by Iranian diplomats.

The attack itself was apparently carried out by local al-Qaida supporters who received money and explosives from Iran, the sources said.

On Monday, Al-Arabiya reported that an Amman taxi driver was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the bombing.

According to the sources, the GID believes that the attack came in response to the killing of Iranian scientist Prof. Massoud Ali Muhammadi in Teheran last week. Ali Muhammadi was killed by a remote-controlled bomb on a motorcycle."....

Fort Hood Report: No Mention of Islam, Hasan Not Named - TIME

Fort Hood Report: No Mention of Islam, Hasan Not Named - TIME: "The U.S. military's just-released report into the Fort Hood shootings spends 86 pages detailing various slipups by Army officers but not once mentions Major Nidal Hasan by name or even discusses whether the killings may have had anything to do with the suspect's view of his Muslim faith. And as Congress opens two days of hearings on Wednesday into the Pentagon probe of the Nov. 5 attack that left 13 dead, lawmakers want explanations for that omission."

John Lehman, a member of the 9/11 commission and Navy Secretary during the Reagan Administration, says a reluctance to cause offense by citing Hasan's view of his Muslim faith and the U.S. military's activities in Muslim countries as a possible trigger for his alleged rampage reflects a problem that has gotten worse in the 40 years that Lehman has spent in and around the U.S. military. The Pentagon report's silence on Islamic extremism "shows you how deeply entrenched the values of political correctness have become," he told TIME on Tuesday. "It's definitely getting worse, and is now so ingrained that people no longer smirk when it happens."

Relieved | Talking Points Memo

Relieved | Talking Points Memo: "I want to recommend that everyone read the email we just got from a Senate staffer who will have to remain anonymous. Here's one part of the email that stood out to me. The whole thing is after the jump ...

The worst is that I can't help but feel like the main emotion people in the caucus are feeling is relief at this turn of events. Now they have a ready excuse for not getting anything done. While I always thought we had the better ideas but the weaker messaging, it feels like somewhere along the line Members internalized a belief that we actually have weaker ideas. They're afraid to actually implement them and face the judgement of the voters. That's the scariest dynamic and what makes me think this will all come crashing down around us in November.

Here's the whole thing."...

[bth: worth reading in full]

Democrats’ talking points: We can’t pass legislation anymore, despite majority | Raw Story

Democrats’ talking points: We can’t pass legislation anymore, despite majority | Raw Story: "Democrats have conceded they can no longer pass healthcare on their own, ensuring that their key legislative reform either dies or accepts further compromises to gain approval from Republican members.

What's more, they've decided to outline their case to the public through a set of talking points issued to Democrats after Tuesday's election upset in Massachusetts.

Their meme? 'It is mathematically impossible for Democrats to pass legislation on our own.'

The approach was endorsed despite the fact that Democrats hold a sizable majority in both the House and Senate. The Senate majority is considerably larger than the majority Republicans held over Democrats for much of President George W. Bush's second term (2005-2007), when Republicans had 55 Senate seats."...

[bth: if the party takes this stand, it is doomed. People are fed up with whining and excuses.]

White House Warns Against Dropping Health Care As Party Grows Skittish

White House Warns Against Dropping Health Care As Party Grows Skittish: ..."'This needs to be a wake up call that people are still demanding change,' Joe Trippi, a longtime party strategist and high-ranking official on the Howard Dean and John Edwards campaigns told the Huffington Post. 'I don't think it is ideological, I don't think it is left versus right. I think it is outsider versus insider. It is the new way versus people doing it the old way. That is still the carryover from 2008. And whether the Obama administration recognizes that is important. This is a wake up call that they can't play the inside game.'

'The most important thing is for Democrats to acknowledge that they need to change course and then to change course,' said Simon Rosenberg, a former Clinton administration official and head of the Democratic group NDN. 'They must acknowledge it has not been a good first year and they have to change. The most important option for that in the whole year will be the State of The Union speech next week. The stakes couldn't be higher.'"

Poll: Mass. Voters Protested Against Weak Wall Street, Health Care Policies

Poll: Mass. Voters Protested Against Weak Wall Street, Health Care Policies: "Massachusetts voters who backed Barack Obama in the presidential election a year ago and either switched support to Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown or simply stayed home, said in a poll conducted after the election Tuesday night that if Democrats enact tougher policies on Wall Street, they'll be more likely to come back to the party in the next election.

A majority of Obama voters who switched to Brown said that 'Democratic policies were doing more to help Wall Street than Main Street.' A full 95 percent said the economy was important or very important when it came to deciding their vote.

In a somewhat paradoxical finding, a plurality of voters who switched to the Republican -- 37 percent -- said that Democrats were not being 'hard enough' in challenging Republican policies.

It would be hard to find a clearer indication, it seems, that Tuesday's vote was cast in protest.

The poll also upends the conventional understanding of health care's role in the election. A plurality of people who switched -- 48 -- or didn't vote -- 43 -- said that they opposed the Senate health care bill. But the poll dug deeper and asked people why they opposed it. Among those Brown voters, 23 percent thought it went 'too far' -- but 36 percent thought it didn't go far enough and 41 percent said they weren't sure why they opposed it.

Among voters who stayed home and opposed health care, a full 53 percent said they opposed the Senate bill because it didn't go far enough; 39 percent weren't sure and only eight percent thought it went too far."...

[bth: people want jobs. In Mass. if they have jobs they can get health insurance. Its about jobs and a sense that Congress and the President haven't done enough to reign in banks and lobbyists. So with almost universal health insurance in Mass. and expensive coverage at that, the voter who wanted universal healthcare nationally was put at odds with his own self interest - he had to pay more. Our politicians aren't fighting hard enough for middle class Americans]

Saudi girl, 13, sentenced to 90 lashes after she took a mobile phone to school | Mail Online

Saudi girl, 13, sentenced to 90 lashes after she took a mobile phone to school | Mail Online: "A 13-year-old girl has been sentenced to 90 lashes and two months' prison in Saudi Arabia after she took a mobile phone to school.

A court ordered the girl to be flogged in front of her classmates following an assault on the school principal, according to the Saudi daily newspaper Al-Watan.

After the assault she was discovered to have concealed a mobile phone, breaking strict Saudi regulations banning the use of camera-equipped phones in girls' schools."...

News Analysis - A Year Later, Voters Send a Different Message - NYTimes.com

News Analysis - A Year Later, Voters Send a Different Message - NYTimes.com: ..."“I think there’s been a misreading of where the public is at: having a health care debate when so many people were focused on their jobs,” said Joe Trippi, a Democratic political consultant who managed the presidential campaign of Howard Dean in 2004.

“The failure to understand how anti-establishment the country has become is a big part of the problem,” Mr. Trippi said of Mr. Obama and the White House. “He actually led the way on that in the campaign and didn’t recognize what was happening as he was president.”"

[bth: its jobs stupid.]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coakley Pollster Defends Campaign Against White House

Coakley Pollster Defends Campaign Against White House:... "Lake said that the problem for Democrats is that voters are blaming them for the nation's poor economic conditions. '2010 is fast turning out to be a blame election and I think that either we are going to characterize who deserves the blame - whether that's banks and lobbyists and people who still want to hold on to national Republican economic strategies - or we're going to get the blame. And that's a very different tone than, often, the administration is comfortable with,' she said.

The feeling among voters, said Lake, is that Washington prioritizes Wall Street over Main Street and that, despite Coakley's credentials as a state attorney general who has taken on and beaten Wall Street banks, sending her to Washington would not make a difference. 'On the eve of the election, Martha Coakley had a 21-point advantage over Scott Brown on who would fight Wall Street and deliver for Main Street. But it didn't predict to the vote, because voters thought, even if they sent her down here that it wouldn't happen. 'Fine, she had done it in Massachusetts, but no one was doing it in Washington,'' Lake said. 'Voters are voting for change and we have to go back to that change message. And we have to deliver on change, especially an economic policy that serves working people.'

Lake pointed to polling released by the Economic Policy Institute showing that 65 percent of Americans though the stimulus served banks interests, 56 percent thought it served corporations and only ten percent that it benefited them. 'That is a formula for failure for the Democrats. We have to deliver on economic policies that take on Wall Street and we have to do it for five months, not just five days. We really have to deliver on the policies,' she said."...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Video Of Car Bomb Blast In Kabul

Video Of Car Bomb Blast In Kabul

Army Short-Circuits Robotic Future; Axes Drone Helo, ‘Mule’ (Updated) | Danger Room | Wired.com

Army Short-Circuits Robotic Future; Axes Drone Helo, ‘Mule’ (Updated) | Danger Room | Wired.com: "Once upon a time, the Army had grandiose plans for its future force, with a full wired array of robots, drones and high-tech armored vehicles. Budget realities, however, caught up with the $160-billion-plus Future Combat Systems, and the service has been seriously scaling back its modernization efforts.

The latest casualties? According to Roxana Tiron of The Hill, the Army is canceling plans for an autonomous ground vehicle and a pilotless helicopter. The move marks the end the for the counter-mine and transport versions of Lockheed Martin’s MULE (Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment) vehicle, six-wheeled ‘bots that would lighten the load for dismounted troops or scour minefields. (Work continues on an armed version of the robot, called the Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault Light, which takes the lion’s share of MULE funding.) It also terminates the Northrop Grumman FireScout, a robotic helo that was originally designed for the Navy. Both programs came out of FCS, which was formally canceled in June.

So what’s left of FCS? As Danger Room readers may recall, the service has already ended a push to build new hybrid-electric Manned Ground Vehicles for future brigades. The service is now focused on smaller bits and pieces that can be “spun out” to the current force. The remaining technologies are now referred to as Army Brigade Combat Team modernization."...

[bth: wow. worth reading in full.]

Said al Shihri captured? - Threat Matrix

Said al Shihri captured? - Threat Matrix: "The Yemen Observer is reporting that Said al Shihri, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's second in command, was captured after his car overturned at a police checkpoint in Shabwa province, an al Qaeda haven:

A car carrying members of al-Qaeda was turned over when attempted to bypass a newly established sudden checkpoint by the Yemeni security units today and resulted in the capture of Saeed al-Shihri, the second person in command of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, security source told the Yemen Observer.

The car was going in a high speed and was carrying al-Shihri and other al-Qaeda militants and flipped over in the district of Sylan in Shabwa near the borders of Marib province. All the militants were captured."...

[bth: interesting if true]

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes - ABC News

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes - ABC News: "Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.
Scopes

At the end of the serial number on Trijicon's ACOG gun sight, you can read 'JN8:12', a reference to... Expand

At the end of the serial number on Trijicon's ACOG gun sight, you can read 'JN8:12', a reference to the New Testament book of John, Chapter 8, Verse 12, which reads: 'Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.' The ACOG is widely used by the U.S. military. Collapse
(ABC News)

Scopes
The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious 'Crusade' in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents."...

[bth: just what we need. How about giving al Qaeda something to use as propaganda against us just for the heck of it. Of course no one will be held to account for this even though it appears to have been common knowledge in the Army and required an outside group to raise the issue.]

More evidence of terror threat than US admits: report

The Raw Story | More evidence of terror threat than US admits: report: ..."In late December, more intercepts of Al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen, who had previously focused their attacks on the region, mentioned the date of December 25, and suggested that they were 'looking for ways to get somebody out' or 'for ways to move people to the West,' the paper pointed out, citing an unnamed senior administration official.

And an Al-Qaeda figure made ominous threats against the United States, according to the report.

'We carry prayer beads, and with them we carry a bomb for the enemies of God,' a man describing himself as an Al-Qaeda fighter from Yemen announced in a video released on Al Jazeera satellite television, according to The Times. 'The issue is between us and America and its allies, and beware, those who stand in the ranks of America.'

The US intelligence network was clearly listening in Yemen and sharing that information, the paper said. Yet the inability to pull the data together or correctly interpret it produced the 'systemic failure' that Obama has referred to."