Saturday, December 11, 2010

YouTube - Diana Krall - Walk On By (From "Live In Rio")

YouTube - Diana Krall - Walk On By (From "Live In Rio"): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

[R]ight, as the world goes,
is only in question between equals in power,
while the strong do what they can
and the weak suffer what they must

--History of the Pelopponeasian War,


YouTube - Mumford & Sons - Winter Winds

YouTube - Mumford & Sons - Winter Winds: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Iraq’s education ministry bans theatre & music classes

Iraq’s education ministry bans theatre & music classes: "The Iraqi Ministry of Education has banned theatre and music classes in Baghdad's Fine Arts Institute, and ordered the removal of statues showcased at the entrance of the institute without explaining the move, but some of the students mull religious reasons as the real motive.

“Prohibiting theatre and music in the institute for its so called “violation” of religion is only an individual opinion touted by some people hailing from religious parties, but it is contradictory to the opinion of most religious clerics and scholars,” said Dhaya al-Shakarchi, a writer and a politicians, told

Students have also fears that the ban will extend to include other arts such as photography, directing, sculpting, and drawing....

- bth: we fought for this?

YouTube - The Times They Are A-Changin - A Bob Dylan Song - My cover version

YouTube - The Times They Are A-Changin - A Bob Dylan Song - My cover version: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Roadside bomb kills 15 civilians in Afghanistan

Roadside bomb kills 15 civilians in Afghanistan: "KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A roadside bomb planted by the Taliban has killed 15 civilians in a dangerous and remote region of southern Afghanistan, officials said Saturday.

The attack happened Friday afternoon as a pickup truck carrying villagers to a nearby bazaar rolled over the bomb, detonating it in the Khan Neshin district of Helmand province, said Daoud Ahmadi, spokesman for the provincial governor. ...

Poll: Obama's losing support; Romney would beat him now | McClatchy

Poll: Obama's losing support; Romney would beat him now | McClatchy: "WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's approval ratings have sunk to the lowest level of his presidency, so low that he'd lose the White House to Republican Mitt Romney if the election were held today, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

The biggest reason for Obama's fall: a sharp drop in approval among Democrats and liberals, apparently unhappy with his moves toward the center since he led the party to landslide losses in November's midterm elections. At the same time, he's gained nothing among independents.

'He's having the worst of both worlds right now,' said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in New York, which conducted the national survey.

'As he moves to the center, he's not picking up support among independents and he's having some fall-off among his base. If his strategy is to gain independents and keep the Democrats in tow, it isn't working so far.'...

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Friday, December 10, 2010

15-Year-Old Protester Goes Off On British Establishment (VIDEO)

15-Year-Old Protester Goes Off On British Establishment (VIDEO): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

bth -Times they are a changing

'Prince of Pork' to Approps chair - Simmi Aujla -

'Prince of Pork' to Approps chair - Simmi Aujla - "Rep. Hal Rogers may have sworn off earmarks as he lobbied his way into the powerful House Appropriations Committee chairmanship, but there’s a reason he’s earned the nickname “Prince of Pork.”

Over the past two years, Rogers has requested $175,613,300 in earmarks, including funding for a cheetah protection nonprofit that his daughter works for....

- bth: earmarks are about to be called member directed initiatives or some such.

NightWatch 20101209 - KGS - Iran to put missiles in Venezuela

NightWatch 20101209 - KGS:..."Venezuela-Iran: Die Welt is the original source for the following item, which is too important to overlook.

'Iran is planning to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil, based on unidentified western sources, according to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, on 25 November. According to the article, an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on 19 October 2010.

The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles. According to Die Welt, Venezuela has agreed to allow Iran to establish a military base manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Venezuelan missile officers. In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an 'emergency'.

In return, the agreement states that Venezuela can use these facilities for 'national needs' - radically increasing the threat to neighbors like Colombia. The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) will be stored in the base. It says that Iran also pledged to help Venezuela in rocket technology expertise, including intensive training of officers.'

Comment: The Die Welt report is the first in open sources and has not been confirmed. The status of the agreement also is not clear. For example, it is unknown whether the article describes a proposal, an agreement in principle, or a contract. If a contract or other agreement, its status is not clear.

The legal complications of building foreign missile base are layered and complex. Even in Venezuela Chavez lacks the authority to complete an agreement on his own. The complexity of the arrangements suggests this might be wishful thinking, a preliminary agreement of some kind or just plain propaganda to stoke US concerns.

What is known is that Chavez has sought to develop a ballistic missile capability for years, but with little apparent success. Iranian Revolutionary Guards also have been reported in Venezuela as well as Nicaragua, but not in significant numbers.

Venezuela has engaged in a multi-billion dollar arms spending spree in Russia to build its military capabilities to deter a US attack, according to Chavez. However, no sources have reported Russian sales of ballistic missiles.

North Korea has tried to market ballistic missiles in South America with no success to date. It genuinely wants a foothold in America and has good relations with Cuba, but no foothold there. Thus, Iran could be fronting for North Korea. Iran most likely possesses all three of the missiles mentioned, but acquired them, the technology and any production facilities from North Korea.

If the Die Welt report is accurate, it would be the first agreement to base foreign ballistic missiles in a Latin American country since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. If Shahab-3s eventually show up in Venezuela, then so will North Koreans because that missile is an Iranian modification of the North Korean NoDong ballistic missile. The Iranians are not good at maintaining them and over the years regularly have required North Korean technical assistance. If Iranian missiles ever show up in Venezuela, North Korea will be in on the deal and gotten a significant share of any profits. That would make this the first North Korean foothold in South America....

- bth: OK I didn't see this coming. one can only hope for an industrial rocket fuel accident at the base at some point in the near future.

Pakistan loses credibility in Taliban battle - study | World | Reuters

Pakistan loses credibility in Taliban battle - study | World | Reuters: "ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's government is overlooking the scale of civilian casualties in its war against militants and will lose credibility unless it acts to ease the suffering, a report by a U.S. pressure group showed.

The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), due to release its study in Islamabad on Thursday, says there were likely more civilian casualties in Pakistan in 2009 than in neighbouring Afghanistan.

'Despite the severity of losses and consequences of ignoring them, civilian casualties receive too little attention from U.S., Pakistani and donor-nation policy-makers, military officials and international organisations alike,' said CIVIC.

'Overlooking the majority of civilians harmed or displaced by combat operations is undermining the Pakistani government's legitimacy.'...

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Special operations forces deal blows to Taliban's ranks - The Long War Journal

Special operations forces deal blows to Taliban's ranks - The Long War Journal: "Coalition and Afghan special operations teams have hit hard at the Taliban and allied groups' leadership and rank and file during more than 7,000 raids throughout Afghanistan over the past six months.

Approximately 7,100 special operations counterterrorism missions have been conducted between May 30 and Dec. 2 of this year, the International Security Assistance Force told The Long War Journal. More than 600 insurgent leaders were killed or captured. In addition, more than 2,000 enemy fighters have been killed, and over 4,100 fighters have been captured.

The enemy commanders and fighters killed or captured are from various jihadist groups battling Coalition and Afghan forces, including the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Hizb-i-Islami, al Qaeda, and the Islamic Jihad Group.

The numbers of insurgents killed or captured include only those targeted in special operations raids, ISAF stated. These numbers do not include Taliban and allied fighters killed or captured during conventional counterinsurgency operations, or during massed Taliban assaults on Coalition and Afghan bases.

Within the same time frame, special operations troops also completed more than 2,500 humanitarian operations, including the provision of medical and educational assistance.

The intensity of the special operations raids over the past six months reflects a shift from counterinsurgency to counterterrorism operations....

- bth: note General Cartwright's statement that the shift has occurred from counterinsurgency to counterterrorism operations.

Anthrax Review Delay Is Sought by F.B.I. -

Anthrax Review Delay Is Sought by F.B.I. - "WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has requested a last-minute delay in the release of a report on the bureau’s anthrax investigation by the National Academy of Sciences, prompting a congressman to say that the bureau “may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure” the academy’s scientific panel “to reach a conclusion desired by the bureau.”

Representative Rush D. Holt, a Democrat of New Jersey and a physicist who has often been critical of the investigation, made the remarks in a letter Thursday to the F.B.I.’s director, Robert S. Mueller III, saying that he found the bureau’s request for a delay “disturbing.” The F.B.I. has told the committee that it wants to turn over an additional 500 pages of investigative documents not provided previously despite the committee’s request for all relevant material when it began the review in April 2009.

“If these new documents were relevant to the N.A.S.’s review why were they previously undisclosed and withheld?” Mr. Holt wrote. The anthrax-laced letters that killed five people in 2001 were sent from a mailbox in Princeton in his district. ...

- bth: one wonders if we will ever get the truth on the anthrax attacks

Military Bans Disks, Threatens Courts-Martial to Stop New Leaks | Danger Room |

Military Bans Disks, Threatens Courts-Martial to Stop New Leaks | Danger Room | "It’s too late to stop WikiLeaks from publishing thousands more classified documents, nabbed from the Pentagon’s secret network. But the U.S. military is telling its troops to stop using CDs, DVDs, thumb drives and every other form of removable media — or risk a court martial.

Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, commander of Air Force Network Operations, issued the Dec. 3 “Cyber Control Order” — obtained by Danger Room — which directs airmen to “immediately cease use of removable media on all systems, servers, and stand alone machines residing on SIPRNET,” the Defense Department’s secret network. Similar directives have gone out to the military’s other branches.

“Unauthorized data transfers routinely occur on classified networks using removable media and are a method the insider threat uses to exploit classified information. To mitigate the activity, all Air Force organizations must immediately suspend all SIPRNET data transfer activities on removable media,” the order adds....

- bth: so how the hell are they going to transfer data? A mind meld?

Soldier from Salem dies in Afghanistan bombing - The Boston Globe

Soldier from Salem dies in Afghanistan bombing - The Boston Globe
A US Army medic from Salem was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan Wednesday, his brother said.

Army Sergeant James A. Ayube Jr., 25, died of injuries suffered on patrol in Kandahar Province, his brother Alexander Ayube, 24, said in a phone interview from the family’s home last night. He said the military told the family of his brother’s death late Wednesday.

Alexander Ayube said his brother, who had served previously in Iraq, had six months left on his tour.

He said his brother’s wife was at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware last night to identify the fallen soldier’s remains and have them brought to Salem. He said she had requested to make the first public statements in memory of her husband, possibly today.

“We’re all exhausted,’’ said Alexander Ayube. “We were up all night getting information.’’

His brother graduated from Salem High School in 2003, he said, and later earned a degree from Bunker Hill Community College in Boston.

He said James Ayube leaves his wife, Lauren, and a younger sister, Ashleigh, as well as his parents, James Sr. and Christina. He said the family has not made funeral arrangements....

Senate Vote on Medical Benefits to 911 First Responders

U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote: "- This link takes you to a list of senators that voted on 911 medical benefits. The vote failed. The benefits are denied to those who gave up life and health to work at the World Trade Center in the immediate aftermath of 911. Every fucking Republican in the Senate voted to screw these brave Americans over yesterday because as a group the Republicans decided to block all legislation until their millionaire backers get tax breaks. So fuck the firemen has become the Republican party motto yesterday and you know what? By next week no one will care. We as a country have forgotten what its like to fight for normal Americans like these firemen. It makes me sick.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

NightWatch 20101208 - KGS - Japan's response to N. Korea and China

NightWatch 20101208 - KGS: "Japan: Japan must improve its defense capability near its maritime border with China in the southwest, Vice Defense Minister Jun Azumi said on 8 December. The expansion of China's military has increased regional instability.

Azumi said Japan must ensure the mobility of its forces over the next decade to strengthen its defense, and it should revise its weapons export ban, he said. The country's public debt, roughly double its $5 trillion economy, complicates efforts to improve its defense capability, he said.

Japan should strengthen defense cooperation with South Korea, Australia and India, Azumi said, adding that North Korea's actions provided a suitable environment for Japanese-South Korean coordination.

Comment: The most important comment was about the need to strengthen defense cooperation with South Korean, Australia and India. Asian and Pacific countries are taking responsibility for the security of Asia, with or without American help in the future.

Analysts need to pay careful attention to Japanese official statements about defense and national security. Statements like that above have become more frequent than ever and are reshaping public attitudes, spurred by irresponsible North Korean and Chinese behaviors that create confrontation.

Japan's warrior tradition is infinitely more deeply rooted than latter-day, post-World War II pacifism. Support for more expansive defense operations are manifest in Japan's deployment of a contingent in Iraq, airlift operations from Kuwait, fueling support for Allied naval forces in the Arabian Sea, and support for anti-piracy operations off Somali, including building a bases in Djibouti. Once Japan's constitution is amended or modified to permit collective security, the era of post-war pacifism will have ended....

- bth: Japan's strengthened defense cooperation is probably not the response China and N. Korea wished for but it seems to be one they are going to get. The post is worth reading in full.

Dems outraged as GOP blocks 9/11 responders’ health bill | Raw Story

Dems outraged as GOP blocks 9/11 responders’ health bill | Raw Story: "May be end of the road for $7-billion aid package to heroes of 9/11

Senate Republicans on Thursday derailed a bill to aid people who got sick after exposure to dust from the World Trade Center's collapse in the Sept. 11 attack.

Supporters were three votes short of the 60 needed to proceed to debate and a final vote on the bill that would have provided as much as $7.4 billion in health care and compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors. The bill failed on a test vote, 57-42.

Fifty-seven Democrats voted for the bill and 41 Republicans opposed it. Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, switched his vote to 'no' at the last moment, a parliamentary move that allows him to bring the measure up again for a vote....

- bth: these patriots, these firemen, policemen and their families are getting fucked and I watched it happen yesterday in the halls of Russell Senate building as they desperately tried to get Republicans to agree to bring the bill to a vote by 4 PM, but they could not. The Reps decided they would not let any bill through until the tax bill was done. It was not enough that the unemployed are held hostage, these patriots are actually dying. So these guys who have cancer and lung ailments from the human remains and toxic poisons they breathed in on 911 can go home and die knowing that Washington couldn't give a damn about them. It was a sad and pathetic thing to see yesterday. If I had not seen it with my own eyes and talked to them in person I would not have believed it.

Second X-37B Prepared For Launch | AVIATION WEEK

Second X-37B Prepared For Launch | AVIATION WEEK: ..."But the landing, which was the first successful runway recovery of an autonomous space vehicle since the 1988 demonstration launch and landing of the former Soviet Union’s Buran unmanned space shuttle, was not without incident. McKinney says the vehicle’s left main landing gear tire blew out on touchdown—a mishap not easily spotted in initial photos released by the Air Force. However, program officials say the fact the X-37B continued to roll down the runway centerline without deviation following the blowout of the 300-psi. dinner-plate-size tire is a testament to the integrity of its control system.

Shreds of ruptured tire caused some damage to the belly of the vehicle, which also was pitted in several places by unidentified space debris. “Where it came from we don’t know,” McKinney says, adding that initial inspections have revealed damage in “about seven” places to the thermal protection tiles and vehicle body. However, McKinney says evidence of impacts and tire burst does not diminish the overall performance of the vehicle or its test accomplishments over an almost eight-month space mission. “The purpose of this particular mission was the vehicle,” he adds....

U.S. Home Values May Drop by $1.7 Trillion This Year: Zillow - Bloomberg

U.S. Home Values May Drop by $1.7 Trillion This Year: Zillow - Bloomberg: "U.S. home values are poised to drop by more than $1.7 trillion this year amid rising foreclosures and the expiration of homebuyer tax credits, said Zillow Inc., a closely held provider of home price data.

This year’s estimated decline, more than the $1.05 trillion drop in 2009, brings the loss since the June 2006 home-price peak to $9 trillion, the Seattle-based company said today in a statement.

The drop in home values pushed more buyers underwater, meaning they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, Zillow said. The percentage of homeowners with so-called negative equity reached 23.2 percent in the third quarter, up from 21.8 percent at the end of 2009.

“With foreclosures near an all-time high in late 2010 and high rates of negative equity persisting, it does not appear that the first part of 2011 will bring much relief,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said in the statement. “Government incentives can only temporarily hold back the tide.” ...

- bth: link this with higher treasury yields - meaning mortgage rates go up - and we're in for a double dip recession.

Liberal Group Ad Recalls When Obama Said Bush Tax Cuts Offended His Conscience

Liberal Group Ad Recalls When Obama Said Bush Tax Cuts Offended His Conscience: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Man Charged In Recruitment Center Bomb Plot - Baltimore News Story - WBAL Baltimore

Man Charged In Recruitment Center Bomb Plot - Baltimore News Story - WBAL Baltimore: "BALTIMORE -- A 21-year-old construction worker has been accused of plotting to use a vehicle bomb to blow up a military recruitment center in Catonsville, Baltimore County.

The suspect has been identified as Antonio Martinez, aka Muhammed Hussain. He faces charges of attempted murder of federal officers and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He's currently being held without bond....

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Why our Afghanistan War Dead don’t Seem to be News | Informed Comment

Why our Afghanistan War Dead don’t Seem to be News | Informed Comment:... "I am sad to report that I have concluded that the relative silence on our Afghanistan war dead has to do with the workings of our two-party system. Americans are great followers of sports where two teams oppose one another. They become fierce partisans of one team over the other. They have the same approach to economic life (iPhone vs. Android, Kindle vs. Google ebooks, X-Box vs. Playstation, etc.) They join a “team” in their minds and grow absolutely scathing about the other side. Republicans and Democrats are teams for them. It may be the real reason a third party is so hard to mount; it does have to do with the first past the post electoral system, but it may be also that you can’t root for more than one team at a time, so it is more convenient to have just two parties if you have a binary mindset.

So here’s the reason the whole bloody Afghanistan war is off the radar: it isn’t a partisan issue. The Republican Party, except for a few Liberatarians, is solidly in favor of the war and would apparently like to go on fighting it for decades if only they could. But the Democrats cannot oppose the war (as they eventually opposed the Iraq War) because their own president has implemented a surge and is dedicated to prosecuting the war. The rank and file Democrats may not be very happy about Obama’s adoption of the war, but they are loathe to attack their own party leader (i.e. many of them feel as though they have to support their team)....

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Ex-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski: Spokespersons of US Right 'In Most Cases Stunningly Ignorant' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Ex-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski: Spokespersons of US Right 'In Most Cases Stunningly Ignorant' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International:
..."SPIEGEL: The dispatches show how European leaders are clamoring for access in Washington and the US coolly plays them against each other.

Brzezinski: Interrelationships between people are affected by respective hierarchies, who is on top, who is less on top. Anyone familiar with royal courts knows that. And the US descriptions of Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel or Silvio Berlusconi basically fit thousands of cartoons that have appeared about them.

SPIEGEL: As National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, you tried to prepare Americans for a more multipolar world -- one with a stronger China and a weaker US. Americans did not like that idea and Carter was voted out of office after one term.

Brzezinski: That concept is now very much a reality when you look at the rise of countries like China and India.

SPIEGEL: And the American decline. Are Americans aware of that trend or does the fate of Carter await President Barak Obama should he openly address the issue?

Brzezinski: I am very worried that most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued. And it makes it much more difficult for any president to pursue an intelligent policy that does justice to the complexity of the world.

SPIEGEL: Yet the American right is still convinced of American exceptionalism.

Brzezinski: That is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.

SPIEGEL: If you were still national security advisor, how would you tell President Barack Obama to react to WikiLeaks?

Brzezinski: To relax and to carry on. His basic instincts on the large issues of foreign policy are fundamentally correct and in tune with history,

SPIEGEL: Just his instincts? Not his policies?

Brzezinski: There is a lack of strategic implementation. Look at the standstill in the Middle East. The hesitation on Iran is another, and the absence of a kind of shared strategic perspective with the Europeans on Russia. To tackle this, it will require more of an effort to correct than if he had been more energetic and more committed to push forward with his world view shortly after the assumption of office.

- bth: a fascinating interview

Sun Eruption Is Beautiful, Filament Explosion Is 400,000 Miles Long

Sun Eruption Is Beautiful, Filament Explosion Is 400,000 Miles Long: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Catch-and-release of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan angers troops | Washington Examiner

Catch-and-release of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan angers troops | Washington Examiner: "More than 500 suspected Taliban fighters detained by U.S. forces have been released from custody at the urging of Afghan government officials, angering both American troops and some Afghans who oppose the policy on the grounds that many of those released return to the battlefield to kill NATO soldiers and Afghan civilians.

And those numbers understate the problem, military officials say. They do not include suspected Taliban fighters held in small combat outposts or other forward operating bases throughout the region who are released before they ever become part of the official detainee population.

An Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that President Hamid Karzai's government has personally sought the release of as many as 700 suspected Taliban fighters since July, including some mid-level leaders. 'Corruption is not just based on the amount of money that is wasted but wasted lives when Taliban return only to kill more NATO forces and civilians,' said the official, who opposes what he considers corruption in the Karzai administration....

- bth: one wonders if we are serious about this war

Penn Medicine News: Color-Changing “Blast Badge” Detects Exposure to Explosive Shock Waves

Penn Medicine News: Color-Changing “Blast Badge” Detects Exposure to Explosive Shock Waves: "PHILADELPHIA - Mimicking the reflective iridescence of a butterfly's wing, investigators at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a color-changing patch that could be worn on soldiers' helmets and uniforms to indicate the strength of exposure to blasts from explosives in the field. Future studies aim to calibrate the color change to the intensity of exposure to provide an immediate read on the potential harm to the brain and the subsequent need for medical intervention. The findings are described in the ahead-of-print online issue of NeuroImage.

“We wanted to create a ‘blast badge’ that would be lightweight, durable, power-free, and perhaps most important, could be easily interpreted, even on the battlefield”, says senior author Douglas H. Smith, MD, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair and professor of Neurosurgery at Penn. “Similar to how an opera singer can shatter glass crystal, we chose color-changing crystals that could be designed to break apart when exposed to a blast shockwave, causing a substantial color change.”

D. Kacy Cullen, PhD, assistant professor of Neurosurgery, and Shu Yang, PhD, associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering, were co-authors with Smith.

Blast-induced traumatic brain injury is the 'signature wound' of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, with no objective information of relative blast exposure, soldiers with brain injury may not receive appropriate medical care and are at risk of being returned to the battlefield too soon.

“Diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury [TBI] is challenging under most circumstances, as subtle or slowly progressive damage to brain tissue occurs in a manner undetectable by conventional imaging techniques,” notes Cullen. There is also a debate as to whether mild TBI is confused with post-traumatic stress syndrome. “This emphasizes the need for an objective measure of blast exposure to ensure solders receive proper care,” he says...

--- bth: Great idea.

Senator Edward Kennedy visits First Parish in Bedford, MA October 2006

Senator Edward Kennedy visits First Parish in Bedford, MA: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Senator Edward Kennedy visits First Parish in Bedford, MA in USA

Senator Ted Kennedy, Vicki Kennedy, Alma Hart, Brian Hart, Rep. Charles Murphy at First Parish Bedford MA in front of a war memorial on the town common

Leaked memo offers insight to Russian security agencies

Leaked memo offers insight to Russian security agencies: ...."Unlike the FBI, the ambassador said 'political factors determine the enthusiasm for pursuing investigations,' and some elements of the security services were said to be linked to organized crime.

Noting that Russian security service directors play a more open role in politics than do their counterparts in the West, the ambassador said the three 'accrue political power . . . by using the legal system against political enemies - turning the courts into weapons of political warfare rather than independent arbiters.' But, he added, 'Despite their similar outlook and background, they are also competitors for influence against each other, with shadowy conflicts occasionally bubbling to the surface.'

Mueller was warned that the security services 'maintain . . . active surveillance' against U.S. representatives and have 'sought to stifle U.S. humanitarian programs in the North Caucasus.' In addition, there have been investigations and trumped up charges against Western-supported, nongovernment organizations.

While the FSB had elements working cooperatively with U.S. law enforcement agencies in the areas of terrorism, narcotics, cybercrime, organized crime and nonproliferation, that agency's counterintelligence units have carried out 'harassing activities against all embassy personnel [that] spiked in the past several months to a level not seen in many years,' Beyrle wrote. These included false and slanderous attacks in the media, assertions that spouses had been killed accidentally and searches of homes.

Despite what Beyrle called 'these challenges,' he said Mueller's visit came with strong Kremlin backing and 'a climate of renewed opportunity.'

In fact, he said earlier visits to Moscow by President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton 'have produced more positive momentum in our bilateral ties than I have seen in over a decade.'

But he said it was 'premature to say we have reached a turning point in overcoming security service suspicions about U.S. intentions,' despite the 'vigor' with which the FSB pushed for Mueller's visit, including Russian payment for his aircraft's overflight and landing fees.

- bth: frankly it is refreshing to read a candid assessment of Russian politics and law enforcement elements by a US leader.

Outlook glum for 'porous' Pakistan border - Washington Times

Outlook glum for 'porous' Pakistan border - Washington Times: "The State Department has stated in a cable from Peshawar, Pakistan, that it is skeptical about eventually winning the military struggle in Pakistan's badlands, saying peace talks go nowhere and murderous militants control key towns.

A long cable from the consulate in Peshawar also says eight years of airstrikes, military patrols and added checkpoints have had little effect on securing the border with Afghanistan used by Islamic militants to attack U.S. troops battling the Taliban.

'The borders are porous,' the cable states. 'Taliban and militant extremists are constantly crossing the border with Afghanistan and engaging in terrorist and smuggling activity. The rugged terrain makes it difficult to patrol and control the border.'

Military analysts say that as long as militants can move freely from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and back, it will be difficult to defeat the anti-Kabul insurgency.

A consulate officer wrote the cable to inform Washington and U.S. commanders about the cast of characters controlling Waziristan, a key tribal border region, as a prelude to an upcoming Pakistani military offensive, its fourth since the summer of 2009. The tribal areas are infested with al Qaeda and Taliban militants who want to bring down the government in Islamabad, as well as Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The U.S. thinks Osama bin Laden moves within the region....

- bth: this is an article worth reading in full. In light of yesterdays attack using suicide bombers to cow down the anti-Taliban militias - essentially a repeat of what happened a few years ago per this article - to break the will to resist against the Taliban. One might conclude that the taliban has won in Pakistan's territories and continues to win by terror alone.

Government Forced to Release Docs on Spying Program by William Fisher --

Government Forced to Release Docs on Spying Program by William Fisher -- "Last week’s release of 900 pages of U.S. government documents dealing with the implementation of the nation’s primary surveillance law suggests that the government has been systematically violating the privacy rights of U.S. citizens.

How many citizens is unclear, since the documents were extensively redacted. The previously secret internal documents were obtained through a court battle by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The government declined to disclose the number of citizens who had their telephone calls, e-mail, or other communications intercepted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008. They also declined to discuss any specific abuses, the ACLU said.

The 900 documents were delivered in keeping with a previously agreed schedule.

Alex Abdo, a senior attorney with the ACLU, told IPS, “For two years now, the government has had the authority to engage in the dragnet and unconstitutional surveillance of Americans’ communications with little to no oversight of its actual surveillance decisions.” ...

- bth: it seems inevitable that the government, under the guise of national security, violates the civil liberties of its citizens. Only exposure prevents this from continuing which is why this case is so important.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Ethnicities Map for Afghanistan

Can Scott Brown Win Again in Massachusetts? Poll Suggests He Can

Can Scott Brown Win Again in Massachusetts? Poll Suggests He Can: ..."Matched against five active Democratic pols, Brown holds leads ranging from 7 points to 19 points.
-- If Gov. Deval Patrick, re-elected after a tough campaign, developed a taste for the Washington scene, Brown would lead him by 49 percent to 42 percent, with 9 percent undecided.
-- Brown would lead Kennedy's widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, by 48 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided. Democratic leaders in Massachusetts and Washington had wanted her to run for her late husband's seat, but she declined.
-- Brown would lead Rep. Ed Markey, who just won his 18th term representing a district surrounding Boston to the north and the west, by 49 percent to 39 percent, with 13 percent undecided.
-- Rep. Mike Capuano, who ran a distant second to Coakley in the race for the Democratic nomination to succeed Kennedy, and who has said he'll decide in December whether to run against Brown next year, would have a double-digit deficit to make up, according to the poll. Brown leads him 52 percent to 36 percent, with 12 percent undecided.
-- The worst showing is by Rep. Steven Lynch, now entering his fifth term representing Boston's southern suburbs. Brown leads Lynch 49 percent to 30 percent, with 20 percent undecided.
Brown leads all the Democrats among independents (38 percent of the sample) by 23 points or more.
Brown right now enjoys a 53 percent job approval rating among Massachusetts voters with only 29 percent disapproving and another 18 percent not sure of their opinion. By contrast, his Democratic counterpart, John Kerry, is seen favorably by 50 percent and unfavorably by 43 percent, with 7 percent undecided.

NightWatch 20101205 - comment on N. Korea

NightWatch 20101205 - KGS:... "North Korea: The highlight of weekend news reports was the visit on 6 December by Kim Chong-il to the massive Kim Chaek Iron and Steel complex and to the Ranam mining machinery plant on the east coast, near Kim's east coast villas.

Comment: These reports are staged to convey that North Korea does not want the west coast offshore islands confrontation to escalate. The reported activities of Kim Chong-il are more important than the warlike propaganda denouncing Allied exercises. Kim appears to be taking a vacation on the east coast.

However, real war preparations by North Korea, especially civil defense measures require careful attention, should they be reported. Such measures involve real costs to the decision makers and the state, unlike propaganda statements, whose purpose is to achieve results with little cost.

The confrontation could escalate to a crisis with little warning. More exchanges of fire are likely, juding by North Korean military movements and denunciations of Allied military exercises . South Korean Minister Kim has committed South Korea to retaliate with air strikes, which portends a significant increase in the stakes potential consequences of another incident.

China Clones, Sells Russian Fighter Jets -

China Clones, Sells Russian Fighter Jets -


• 1950s — Soviet Union allows China to copy various low-tech weapons

• 1956 — Ideological dispute leads to cutoff of Soviet military assistance

• 1992 — China becomes first country outside former Soviet Union to buy Su-27 fighter jet

• 1994 — China buys four Kilo class diesel submarines from Russia

• 1996 — China buys license to assemble Su-27

• 1997 — China buys two Sovremenny-class destroyers from Russia

• 2002 — China buys eight more submarines and two more destroyers from Russia

• 2007 — China unveils J-11B, which Russians say is a copy of Su-27

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Group works to honor the fallen from Mass

Group works to honor the fallen from Mass. - T

he Boston Globe
Lieutenant General  John F. Kelly was guest speaker at a fund-raiser at the Boston  Convention Center.


Although planning and fund-raising
for a permanent memorial is still years away, Magoon said, the fund is
closer to their goal after a push for donations and a fund-raising
dinner last week, which together raised $100,000.

About 1,000 people attended the sold-out
dinner Thursday night at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
The keynote speaker was Brighton native Lieutenant General John F. Kelly
of the Marine Corps. Greg Kelly is not related to the general.

John Kelly’s son, Marine Lieutenant
Robert Michael Kelly, was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on
Nov. 9.

“You couldn’t have
had a more heartfelt, moving keynote speaker,’’ Greg Kelly said. “Even
though his son just died, he stayed focused on the event and our goal.’’

Magoon said the fund is scouting a
location for the permanent memorial and its leaders will meet with
officials in the coming weeks. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in
Boston is one place under consideration, he said.

After securing a location, fund organizers
plan to hold a public competition for the memorial’s design and will
set the project’s budget based on the design selected, Magoon said.

Magoon said 2013 is a possibility for
breaking ground, but that it depends on planning and fund-raising....

A life lesson in duty, love, and hellish war - The Boston Globe

A life lesson in duty, love, and hellish war - The Boston Globe

....Last Tuesday, his platoon came under small-arms fire again, and Scott Milley was shot and killed. The local governor announced they would have a day of mourning for the young American officer who in less than a month had won over so many local people.

An hour and a half after the two men in uniform delivered the news, the yellow house on Basswood Avenue was full of people, hugging, crying. The next day, Scott’s parents, his brother and his sister Ashley flew down to Dover Air Force Base to await the return of his body.

“There’s a hotel there, and they offered us four rooms,’’ his father said. “But all we needed was one big bed.’’

They sat on the bed, unable to sleep, telling Scott stories, and they laughed and they cried and they asked if it was OK to be mad at Scott and mad at the war and then they cried some more. Every emotion — pride, anger, guilt, helplessness, unbearable sorrow — washed over them, like unrelenting waves.

Scott’s body arrived at Dover about 20 hours after they did.

Four days before his unit shipped out, Scott Milley was driving down a country road in Louisiana when he nearly hit a stray puppy. He stopped his car, got out, and whistled. The puppy, a yellow Lab, came trotting up. He picked her up and named her Bentley, like the car, because he always wanted a Bentley.

He called his father and asked him to fly down to pick up his car, to give to his sister. When Steve Milley got to Fort Polk, he found out part of the deal was he had to take the puppy back to Sudbury. Bentley sat on Steve Milley’s neck, like a furry scarf, the last 60 miles.

Herb Chambers, the car dealer, has donated use of a fleet of Bentleys for the funeral. All over Sudbury, yellow ribbons are being tied to trees and telephone poles, yellow like the house on Basswood Avenue.

And inside that yellow house, Janice Milley sat on a bed, hugging her son’s teddy bear, as if it was the toddler who once held it. Bentley inched toward Janice Milley and nuzzled up against her, trying to do the impossible, trying to console an inconsolable mother....