Saturday, September 18, 2010

O'Donnelll as seen by Chinese

Christine O'Donnell And The Tea Party Explained With Crazy Taiwanese Animation (VIDEO)

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I love the kid getting the lecture in the video about hair on his palm and going blind.

Bacevich: America’s wars are ‘permanent’ and often pointless

bacevich america s wars are permanent and often pointless - The Daily Free Press - News
Americans should focus on civil liberties at home rather than try to uphold them in the rest of the world, Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich said on Tuesday.

Bacevich, a nationally renowned international relations professor, spoke about his book, “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War,” to about 50 people at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, covering everything from the war in Afghanistan to Mexican immigrants.

Bacevich said that for a long time, American military policy has been based on the belief that the U.S. must constantly “lead, save, liberate and transform” abroad.

However, due to the loss of American dollars and lives in the Afghan War, Bacevich said the U.S. needs to find a new approach.

“These rules don’t work anymore,” he said.

Despite this, Bacevich said that the government has not changed its policy and continues to remain entrapped in wars.

“[Politicians] don’t want to look like wimps,” he said, explaining their refusal to back down from a military confrontation.

Bacevich said that it was up to the American people to take on the status quo.

“America no longer has the ability to ask questions of what makes sense to U.S. policy,” he said. “I would like to see the capacity to challenge Washington.”

He continued to say that politicians should adhere to the Constitution’s Preamble and “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity” at home.

The phrase, he said, epitomizes a new credo Americans must adopt to escape what is becoming a permanent war in Afghanistan.

He said that America had no “moral obligation” to single-mindedly focus on countries such as Afghanistan, and that it ought to place an equal amount of attention on others, such as Mexico.

“Why does Afghanistan come first if we are going to pay our obligations? [Mexico] should be at the top of the list,” he said.

He continued to say that the U.S. was more intimately connected with Mexico than Afghanistan because of territorial disputes, demands for drugs and lax gun laws.

Bacevich said America should welcome afflicted populations to its borders rather than wage war against their nations in order to satisfy a sense of “moral obligation.”

“Should we really wreak violence continually?” he asked. “Shouldn’t we have a policy to protect the women, to bring them here?”

But Bacevich conceded that immigration reform of this sort was unlikely to occur.

“The American public has an aversion to those people coming here,” he said.

At the end of the evening, Bacevich laid out the path he feels America should take on its way to becoming a more modest power in the global community.

“Turn off the switch in parts of the world where security threats are at an ebb,” he said.

Attendee James Williamson said he agreed with Bacevich’s analysis.

“[If the American government had] the guts to say how many resources go to war, people would be more likely to bring it to an end,” Williamson said.

“[Bacevich is] one of the most important voices around today,” he added.

Republicans drank the Tea Party Kool Aid

Friday, September 17, 2010

Naval Open Source INTelligence: Sikorsky X2 Technology™ Demonstrator Achieves 250-Knot Speed Milestone

Naval Open Source INTelligence: Sikorsky X2 Technology™ Demonstrator Achieves 250-Knot Speed Milestone: "Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.’s X2 TechnologyTM demonstrator today successfully achieved a speed of 250 knots true air speed in level flight at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center, accomplishing the program’s ultimate speed milestone.

Belgian police finds 40 kg explosives at Copenhagen bomber's home

Belgian police finds 40 kg explosives at Copenhagen bomber's home
COPENHAGEN, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Danish police confirmed on Wednesday the identity of the suspect behind the explosion in Copenhagen last Friday. The suspect was identified as Lors Doukaiev, a resident of Liege in Belgium.

The suspect has lived five years in Belgium and is originally from the Russian province of Chechnya. Following the identification of the suspect, Danish television reported that Belgian police has found 40 kilograms of explosives in the suspect's home in Liege.

"We are not 100 percent sure of his identity but we think it is very likely that he is Lors Dukayev, born in 1986 in Chechnya and now living in Belgium," the inspector in charge of the investigation, Svend Foldager, told reporters at a press conference in Copenhagen....


Prominent Pakistani politician murdered outside his London home - Telegraph

Prominent Pakistani politician murdered outside his London home - Telegraph: "Dr Farooq, 50, was repeatedly stabbed in the head and neck during the assault in Edgware, north London.

He was a leading member of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) party, which is one of the largest in Pakistan.

There were suggestions from Pakistan that he may have known his killer. When police arrived at the scene, they found Dr Farooq’s body outside his house.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said officers attended an address in Green Lane, Edgware, shortly before 5.30pm after reports of a serious assault. “On arrival, officers found a single Asian man aged 50 with multiple stab wounds and head injuries,” the spokesman said.

“Paramedics attended the man but he was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Next of kin have been informed and no arrests have been made.

Dr Farooq was expected to attend a birthday celebration at the MQM headquarters on London’s Edgware Road on Thursday night but the event was cancelled at the last minute. Police said it was too early to know if the murder was politically motivated.

The politician claimed asylum in Britain after spending seven years on the run as one of Pakistan’s most wanted fugitives. He was accused of a range of charges, including murder and torture.

He has not returned to Pakistan since his arrival in England in 1992. ...

Arlington National Cemetery finds more mismarked graves - CNN.com

Arlington National Cemetery finds more mismarked graves - CNN.com: "Washington (CNN) -- More graves in Arlington National Cemetery have been discovered to be mismarked after remains were exhumed last month, the Army said Wednesday.

At the request of a deceased soldier's next of kin, one grave was investigated and the remains were discovered to not be the deceased soldier in question. The investigation found discrepancies that concerned two sets of remains, the Army said.

The Army said the errors were immediately addressed.

'All families involved with this indicated that all discrepancies have been fixed to their satisfaction,' said a statement released by Army spokesperson Gary Tallman. The Army did not clarify the situation beyond the statement.

The national cemetery has been engulfed in scandal since June, when the Army released a report that detailed gross mismanagement of the cemetery. The investigation cited missing burial records, hundreds of mismarked graves and burial urns put in a spillage pile, where dirt dug up for grave sites is left.

During a Senate subcommittee hearing one senator suggested as many as 6,600 graves at Arlington Cemetery may be 'unmarked, improperly marked or mislabeled,'

The statement released by Tallman said the Army deeply regrets the mistakes that were made and acknowledges that Army leadership expects additional errors to come to light as Arlington works to address the problems cited in the report.

Some 330,000 veterans and their family members are buried at the historic site, overlooking the nation's capital.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BBC News - Kabul Bank taken over by Afghanistan central bank

BBC News - Kabul Bank taken over by Afghanistan central bank: "Afghanistan's central bank has stepped in to take control of the troubled Kabul Bank.

Central bank chief Abdul Qadir Fitrat said investigations had also been started into the dealings of the bank's top two directors and shareholders.

Customers have been withdrawing money from the bank amid fears it may collapse following allegations of corruption and mismanagement....

- --
bth: this means that in a round about manner, inevitably the US taxpayer will pick up the tab.

Reuters AlertNet - Fears raised over influx of fake Afghan poll cards

Reuters AlertNet - Fears raised over influx of fake Afghan poll cards: "* Enough fake cards for one in six Afghan voters

* Fraud, security are major concerns in parliamentary vote

* Election officials say 'not possible' to use fake cards

(Adds national security agency, paragraph 10)

By Sayed Salahuddin

KABUL, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Thousands of fake voter registration cards have been found across Afghanistan, election officials said on Tuesday, and observers called on the government to act to prevent widespread fraud in Saturday's election.

The parliamentary vote is seen as a key test of stability in Afghanistan, where violence is at its worst since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, before U.S. President Barack Obama conducts a war strategy review in December.

Poor security and fraud are major concerns ahead of the polls, which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt by hitting foreign troops and then Afghan targets. [ID:nSGE681139]

Last year's presidential poll was marred by widespread fraud, with a third of votes cast for President Hamid Karzai thrown out as fake by the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).

On Tuesday, both the ECC and independent watchdog the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA) said fake copies of registration cards, the document voters must produce to cast ballots, had been found in Herat in the west, Kunduz and Baghlan in the north and Nuristan and Paktia in the east.

Neither had exact figures or could say who was behind the fake cards, but some media reports have put the figure as high as 3 million -- about a sixth of Afghanistan's roughly 17.5 million registered voters.

FEFA's Jandad Spinghar told Reuters some counterfeit cards had been used in the past three elections, but numbers seemed to be much higher this time.

'We have seen samples of fake cards found by our observers. If the government does take preventive measures, the level of fraud can be reduced, if not totally prevented,' Spinghar said.

'The security organs have the time to basically find the specific differences between the real and fake cards and appoint police at each polling station to check any voter's card. Any one found with a faked card should be arrested and prosecuted.'

Afghanistan's main security agency said forged cards had been distributed but said it had had taken 'serious measures' to stop them from being used. It did not elaborate.

The election is seen as a test of credibility for Karzai after last year's ballot. Karzai has lately been seeking to assert his independence from his Western allies after his government was criticised for not doing enough to tackle graft.

Washington worries that widespread corruption weakens the central government's control, hampering its ability to train Afghan security forces so the almost 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan can gradually start to leave....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The DEW Line: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

YouTube - Boston - peace/piece of mind (WITH LYRICS)

YouTube - Boston - peace/piece of mind (WITH LYRICS): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Indonesian Christians beat on their way to prayers - CTV News

Indonesian Christians beat on their way to prayers - CTV News: "BEKASI, Indonesia — Indonesia's president ordered police to arrest the assailants who stabbed a Christian worshipper in the stomach and beat a minister in the head with a wooden plank as they headed to prayers.

Neither of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other in the world. Though it has a long history of religious tolerance, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal -- and violent -- in recent years.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who relies heavily on Islamic parties in parliament, has been widely criticized in the media for failing to crack down on hard-liners.

But he immediately called on authorities to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for Sunday's attacks.

Police have said they know who the perpetrators were, though they would not comment further. Suspicion immediately fell on the Islamic Defenders Front, Muslim hard-liners who have repeatedly warned members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church against worshipping on a field housing their recently shuttered church.

But the front, which is pushing for the implementation of Islamic-based laws, denied involvement in the attacks, ordering its followers to help police investigation, group leader Rizieq Shihab told reporters.

The front is known for smashing bars, attacking transvestites and going after those considered blasphemous with bamboo clubs and stones. Perpetrators are rarely punished or even questioned by police.

In the last few months, they have thrown shoes and water bottles at church members, interrupted sermons with chants of 'Infidels!' and 'Leave Now!' and dumped piles of feces on the land.

'We've questioned nine witnesses and have already identified the perpetrators,' said local detective, Capt. Ade Arie. 'But it's too early to comment or speculate on a motive.'

Local Police Chief Imam Sugianto said Asia Sihombing, a worshipper, was on his way to the field when assailants jumped off a motorcycle and stabbed him in the stomach.

The Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak was smashed in the head as she tried to come to his aid.

'I was trying to help get him onto a motorcycle so we could get him to a hospital,' she told reporters in the industrial city of Bekasi, 25 miles (40 kilometres) east of Jakarta.

The Islamic Defenders Front pressured local authorities early this year to shutter the Batak church, located in a densely populated Muslim area, saying the permit was granted without the required approval of residents.

The Christian worshippers have refused to back down. Every week, about 20 or so return to the field to pray, defying threats and intimidation.

Most people in Indonesia practice a moderate form of Islam and abhor violence. But the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy, a human rights group, said attacks on religious freedom by hard-liners were steadily increasing.

It said there have been 64 incidents -- ranging from physical abuse to preventing groups from performing prayers and burning houses of worship -- in 2010, up from 18 in 2009 and 17 in 2008.

'It's largely because Yudhoyono's administration is always so slow to step in,' said Hendardi, a Setara activist, pointing to recent attacks on the Islamic minority sect, Ahmadiyah.

'If he doesn't take immediate steps to address this problem, then the blame lies with him.'

- --
bth: amazing not that Christians were attacked in Indonesia but that the government actually paid lip service to doing something about it.

Omar in Pakistan - at least someone just stood up and said it

DAWN.COM | World | Mullah Omar is in Pakistan and everyone knows it: France: "PARIS: Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar is based in Pakistan and everyone knows it, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Tuesday, calling on Islamabad to do more to help end the conflict.

“It's not a secret for anyone, everyone knows that Mullah Omar is in Quetta, if he's not now in Karachi,” Kouchner told French lawmakers, referring to two major Pakistani cities known to harbour militant cells.

Mullah Omar was the leader of the Taliban regime that was overthrown in Afghanistan by US-led forces in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks and is now thought to be based in Quetta.

“Taliban leaders have been given shelter in Pakistan. I'm not revealing anything,” Kouchner said, telling parliament's foreign relations committee why Afghanistan has called on Pakistan to help negotiate a peace deal. -AFP

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

DOJ Press Release on David H. Brooks and Sandra Hatfield convictions

Federal Bureau of Investigation - The New York Division: Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
September 14, 2010 United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of New York
Contact: (718) 254-7000

David H. Brooks, Founder and Former Chief Executive Officer of DHB Industries, Inc. and Sandra Hatfield, Former Chief Operating Officer, Convicted of Insider Trading, Fraud, and Obstruction of Justice
Defendants Reaped Nearly $200 Million Through Their Schemes

After an eight-month trial a federal jury in Central Islip, New York, today found David H. Brooks and Sandra Hatfield, respectively the former Chief Executive Officer and former Chief Operating Officer of DHB Industries, Inc., a supplier of body armor to the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies, guilty of insider trading, fraud, and obstruction of justice. Brooks was also found guilty of lying to auditors. Brooks has been in custody since his January 2010, bail revocation for concealing millions of dollars in San Marino and London, England.

[bth: Brooks' brother was caught in an unrelated cash laundering scheme in London hauling duffle bags of cash out of a safety deposit box in London.]

The convictions were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, and Charles R. Pine, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, New York.

As detailed below, the government’s evidence at trial established that the defendants and others conspired to loot DHB for personal gain, concealed Brooks’ control of a related company used to funnel money to support the former CEO’s thoroughbred horse-racing business, falsely inflated inventory at a DHB subsidiary to artificially boost reported profits, and then lied to auditors in an effort to cover-up the schemes.

Unauthorized and Undisclosed Compensation

The defendants conspired to unlawfully enrich themselves and their family members through a variety of means. Brooks used corporate money not only to finance a horse-racing business that had no relationship to DHB’s business, but also used unreported corporate funds to finance a lavish lifestyle that included corporate-paid trips to exotic locations, the purchase of a luxury car and an armor-plated vehicle, personal jewelry, cosmetic surgery, country club bills, and $40,000 leather bound invitations for his son’s Bar Mitzvah.

The Related Party Scheme

The defendants engaged in a scheme to conceal the related party status of Tactical Armor Products (TAP), a company supposedly run independently of DHB by Brooks’ wife, but in fact wholly controlled by Brooks. Through this scheme, more than $10 million was siphoned out of DHB at Brooks’ direction to pay for obsolete body armor plates. The profits from these related party transactions were used to pay for more than $16 million in Brooks’ personal horse racing business, jewelry, and cash investments. To conceal the scheme and deceive auditors and investors, Brooks created fraudulent multi-million dollar transactions and doctored internal DHB documents.

[bth: he used TAP to hide profits from insider deals to himself and to pawn off obsolete body armor. Interesting that he was not convicted of endangering soldiers.]

The Accounting Frauds

The defendants engaged in accounting fraud schemes designed to increase the net income and profits that DHB reported in its press releases and filings with the SEC by falsely inflating the value of DHB’s existing inventory, adding non-existent inventory to the company’s books and records, and fraudulently reclassifying expenses. In one instance, Hatfield falsely boosted DHB’s inventory by $7 million in 2004, and both defendants fraudulently added more than $7 million of non-existent inventory to DHB’s books and records in the first quarter of 2005. The defendants also caused the inventory of DHB’s main body armor product line sold to the U.S. military to be overvalued by more than $7 million in 2003 and by more than $7 million in 2004.

[bth: he flat out scammed the US military and overstating body armor inventory is a nice way of saying that he failed to keep defective armor that should have been written down from going to soldiers in the field.]

Lying to Auditors and Obstruction of Justice

Brooks and Hatfield attempted to cover up several of the schemes by obstructing the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation into wrongdoing at DHB. The defendants submitted false reports to the SEC during an investigation of DHB’s executive compensation and related party schemes that began in March 2003; Brooks lied to DHB’s independent auditors about the inventory inflation fraud; and when auditors tried to look at the phony inventory, Brooks falsely claimed that it had been destroyed in a hurricane. Brooks later admitted that the supposed inventory never actually existed.

Insider Trading

In November 2004, several days after DHB filed a financial report with the SEC and sent shareholders a statement containing many of the same misrepresentations and omissions described above, the defendants sold more than $72 million of their DHB stock. In December 2004, they sold approximately $118 million of their DHB stock. These sales occurred when DHB’s stock price rose to over $20 per share in late 2004. In total, Brooks realized more than $185 million and Hatfield more than $5 million from the insider trading. Since these insider sales, DHB stock price fell to pennies on the dollar and the stock was de-listed from the American Stock Exchange.

Brooks was removed as DHB’s CEO in July 2006 and Hatfield resigned from DHB in November 2005. In July 2006, DHB relocated its headquarters from Westbury, New York, to Pompano Beach, Florida, and on October 1, 2007, DHB changed its name to Point Blank Solutions, Inc. DHB stock was traded on the American Stock Exchange until trading was suspended on May 26, 2006, as the defendants’ schemes came to light.

“Corporate executives who lie to and steal from their employers—the shareholders—put the investing public at grave financial risk,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We stand committed to ensuring that our markets operate fairly and honestly, and we will tirelessly investigate and prosecute insiders who fraudulently enrich themselves.” Ms. Lynch thanked the Defense Criminal Investigative Service for its assistance in this case.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Fedarcyk stated, “This case was fundamentally about stealing and lying. If someone robs a bank, it’s a crime regardless of how he spends the money. Likewise, it’s immaterial how Brooks spent the millions he misappropriated. To commit the theft and reap the insider trading windfall, and to conceal it all, Brooks and Hatfield lied to shareholders, lied to auditors, lied to regulators. The FBI is committed to policing and preventing this sort of brazen corporate misconduct.”

[bth: So why isn't he being prosecuted for deliberately releasing faulty body armor that was detected sometime in mid-2004 by the military out of Natick but not publicly addressed until the end of 2004 after about 250,000 sets had been fielded of questionable quality?  David Brooks and Hatfield scammed the US military and put armor out that didn't pass normal  statistical QA proceedures.  He cashed out before the military went public and took action but about six months after they found out about it.  Who stands up for our troops some of whom undoubtedly died because of this scumbag?  Was it as case that the feds had him dead to rights on a stock scam and went after the low hanging fruit?]

“DHB shareholders invested their money for the production of body armor for the American military and law enforcement, not to finance the lavish lifestyles of corporate insiders through their theft and deception,” stated IRS Special Agent-in-Charge Pine. “The defendants’ acts were not only illegal, but they also create doubt in the minds of the investing public in the integrity of America’s financial markets. The guilty verdicts today will send a strong signal to the public that the law enforcement community continues to devote resources to combat and curb this kind of behavior.”

[bth: " create doubt in the minds of the investing public?  What about the troops and police that depending on the integrity of the QA process on his body armor?]

When sentenced by United States District Judge Joanna Seybert, both defendants face a maximum term of imprisonment of 25 years for securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and insider trading; and 20 years for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and lying to auditors. The defendants face a fine equal to twice the pecuniary gain or loss resulting from their fraud schemes, and the government is seeking forfeiture of approximately $200 million from the defendants for securities fraud violations and for their unauthorized and undisclosed compensation. The government is also seeking forfeiture of more than $150 million of identifiable assets held by Brooks and $3 million held by Hatfield.

[bth: unless they seize this money it will be proof that scamming DOD pays.  This guy claims to have paid his attorneys $22 million last year!  I have a source that says he even cheated his horse stable guys.  These guys barely make minimum wage.  He cheats people because he can.  Now how would a guy this low down pay his attorneys $22 million?  Will some of these funds be available to him in the Caymans when he gets out of prison?]

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard T. Lunger, Christopher A. Ott, and Christopher C. Caffarone.

The Defendants:

DAVID H. BROOKS
Age: 55

SANDRA HATFIELD
Age: 56

Monday, September 13, 2010

How the media wants to stock a fight with Iran

NightWatch 20100910 - KGS
...For the record. The US government has backed Iranian denials of another secret uranium enrichment facility. US media recently revealed images and charts presented by an Iranian dissident group who claim Iran has a second secret nuclear facility that they found.

The United States issued a statement that it has long known about the facility, but has no reason to believe it is nuclear.

Comment: US television media provided lavish coverage of the original presentation by the Iranian dissidents. They gave no coverage to the US refutation, the very next day....

Experts fear Afghanistan may be teetering on brink of civil war – Afghanistan Crossroads - CNN.com Blogs

Experts fear Afghanistan may be teetering on brink of civil war – Afghanistan Crossroads - CNN.com Blogs: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Fading Fears

YouTube - Wall Street Journal takes on New York Times 華爾街日報單挑紐約時報

YouTube - Wall Street Journal takes on New York Times 華爾街日報單挑紐約時報: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pentagon may trim IED detector budget - Washington Times

Pentagon may trim IED detector budget - Washington Times: "The Pentagon is eyeing cuts in a war office thought to be untouchable: the organization that devises ways to foil the No. 1 killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Officials say the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) has done good work in developing jammers and detection equipment to neutralize the enemy's use of roadside bombs.

But observers inside and outside the Pentagon say JIEDDO has become unwieldy, with too many private contractors and duplicate programs. Congressional reports have called for stricter Pentagon oversight of JIEDDO's far-flung programs.

'JIEDDO has managed to spend billions over the last three years without any significant improvement in defenses against bombs,' said a Pentagon official who requested anonymity in order to speak freely about policy....


- bth: JIEDDO have become a big unproductive bureaucracy. But ironically its undoing will not be the importance of its mission but the cannibalistic nature of rival departments that covet its budget and assert that somehow our enemies will forget how devastatingly effective IEDs have been against our land forces.

Former Mossad Chief: World Must Attack Iran Now -- News from Antiwar.com

Former Mossad Chief: World Must Attack Iran Now -- News from Antiwar.com: "Speaking today at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism conference, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom urged the international community to come together and form a joint air force led by the United States to launch massive air strikes across Iran.

“Sanctions are not enough, I am hopeful that the world will come to its senses,” Yatom noted. Coming to its senses, it seems, is a euphemism for starting a massive war that is bound to spread across virtually the entire Middle East.

Yatom served as head of Mossad from 1996 to 1998, and also served as a member of Israeli parliament under the Labor Party. He resigned from politics in 2008 citing his lack of confidence in the Olmert government....

- bth: Mossad wants the US to fight Iran for them.

America – how can we reform it? « Fabius Maximus

America – how can we reform it? « Fabius Maximus: "How did America get to our present situation? What can we do to reform it? This series poses question and provides few (if any answers). The discussion in the comments are often far longer — and more interesting — than the posts themselves. Often heated, the different views clash discordently.

“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”
— James Bovard’s 1994 book Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (Conclusion, p 333)

An improved version:

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

--
bth: well said.

How the UK's Military fades into insignificance

Defence spending: thousands of troops to be cut - TelegraphThe cuts, which are part of the strategic defence review, will lead to a substantial reduction in the size of the Army, which will also have to give up many of its tanks and armoured vehicles. Soldiers could also be ordered to serve longer on the front line in Afghanistan, and be given less time to recuperate between tours.

Senior ministers are poised to make the first painful decisions on cuts next week as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. The Daily Telegraph has learnt that deep cuts to military manpower are high on the agenda.

The Armed Forces have about 180,000 uniformed personnel, but can keep a fighting force in the field of barely one twentieth of that. Paying for housing and supporting uniformed personnel is one of the biggest drains on the £36 billion Ministry of Defence budget.

According to the review, employing each uniformed serviceman was 50 per cent more expensive than employing an MoD civil servant, and twice as costly as the average civil servant. Many Armed Forces personnel carrying out administrative roles could be replaced by civilians, ministers were told.

The review also concluded provisionally that:

* Cutting the size of the Army would make it easier to honour a Tory pledge to bring troops out of Germany. But Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, was advised that an early exit could potentially increase costs since the forces there currently would need new British bases.

* The Trident nuclear deterrent should be replaced with another four-submarine deterrent. However, the Trident vessels could be kept in service longer to delay spending on the replacement.

* The Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers were likely to be approved, costing more than £5 billion. However, the type and number of aircraft they would carry remained the subject of debate.

* Dr Fox was said to be winning an argument with the Treasury to have capital spending for defence set out for 10 years instead of four, allowing better long-term planning of equipment procurement.

* There would be “winners” from the review, however. Some of the money saved would be spent on improving Britain’s “cyber-warfare” capabilities and expanding Special Forces units. There would also be extra investment in technology to counter mines and other “passive” weapons such as roadside bombs.

The Coalition’s spending cuts meant that the MoD budget was likely to be cut by almost a fifth. Defence officials calculated that each 20,000 reduction in Forces manpower would save £1 billion in the first year, and larger amounts in subsequent years from reduced pension and wage costs.

As the largest of the three services, the Army was likely to bear the brunt of the cuts. Commanders would be told to “do more with less” and increase “force generation” ratios, which determine the total number of troops required to field a specified front line force....

---
bth: sure and if you don't feed soldiers think of the money the UK government could save. Unfucking believable. The UK Army is already smaller than the US Marine Corp. By stripping forces of equipment, housing, reducing training time, reducing equipment - helping them 'do more with less' as is said by some pudgy bureaucrat... This is just unbelievable. What a ghost of a once proud military force. Compare this with trends in India and China. The military strength of the world is shifting decisively away from the victors of WWII.

Consumers or. citizens? -- Fabius Maximus

The guilty ones responsible for the loss of our liberties « Fabius Maximus:
...Our liberties have faded so quickly. In a few decades we’ve become accustomed to the routine outrages of SWAT teams, well documented by Randy Balko of Reason magazine (from assault to murder). Seizure of assets by the government without conviction of a crime {asset forfeiture}. Law enforcement tools intended for narrow use become clubs wielded to pound innocent citizens into plea bargains (e.g., conspiracy, wire fraud, RICO).

Since 9-11 the government has seized a wide range of new powers. Like the ones mentioned above, they’re initially used against a small number of bad guys. Almost certainly future years will see them come into common use. Extensive powers of surveillance, arbitrary imprisonment, even assassination. However shocking now, we’ll become accustomed to their use against our neighbors. Slow change against a background of fear – with these one can move sheep over long distances with little effort. While he cowers in a cave, bin Laden may ponder how 9-11 produced disaster for al Qaeda but many benefits for the US government.

How can this have happened so quickly, the loss of liberties painfully acquired over centuries? Anyone who has felled trees will find it easy to understand. Dead trees fall more easily than live ones. The Liberty Tree died long ago, but remained upright until now. We came to rely on the system erected by the Constitution — Congress, Courts, attorneys, law — as if they had an existence, a life, of their own. As though we could live our lives in their shade, without sacrifice or effort (more than voting and jury duty) to keep the wheels of the Republic turning. We believed it was a A Machine That Would Go of Itself (Michael Kammen explains this fallacy in his 1986 book of that name). We could be consumers instead of citizens.

These institutions work only so long as the Constitution lives in our hearts. When it died there from slow starvation these institutions could only glide on until the natural action of powerful groups warped them to their service. Congress becomes an instrument for division of the spoils, ineffective otherwise. Our finest attorneys, whether at the Office of Legal Counsel or the Vokolh Conspiracy become apologists for the expansion of government power.

The responsibility for the Republic’s fall is ours. Where else could it rest? That this remains controversal shows our decay, our loss of will and strength. Just as the burden of self-government became too great for the people of Rome to bear, so has it become for us.

What next? The miracle of reform and regeneration always remain possible. Every generation offers a fresh start. But in case events develop in a way not to our advantage, we should start devising a plan B. What follows the death of the Constitution? How can we forge a third Republic (following the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution)....

bth: consumers instead of citizens.

Al Qaeda Also Fed Up With Ground Zero Construction Delays | The Onion - America's Finest News Source | Onion News Network

Al Qaeda Also Fed Up With Ground Zero Construction Delays | The Onion - America's Finest News Source | Onion News Network


Al Qaeda Also Fed Up With Ground Zero Construction Delays

Imam Feisal Rauf: Moving Islamic Cultural Center Would Have 'Fueled Terrorism'

Imam Feisal Rauf: Moving Islamic Cultural Center Would Have 'Fueled Terrorism': "Making a relatively rare television appearance on Sunday, Imam Feisal Rauf, the man behind the controversial Islamic cultural center in downtown Manhattan, said that if he were forced to move the project it could spur terrorist activity among radicals abroad.

'My major concern with moving it is that the headline in the Muslim world will be 'Islam is under attack in America,'' said Rauf. 'This will strengthen the radicals in the Muslim world, help their recruitment, this will put our people -- our soldiers, our troops, our embassies, our citizens -- under attack in the Muslim world and we [would] have expanded and fueled terrorism.'...

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bth: always the veiled threat.