Saturday, December 25, 2010

43 killed outside World Food Programme distribution area in Pakistan -

43 killed outside World Food Programme distribution area in Pakistan - "Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's blast in Pakistan's tribal region, an explosion at a food distribution point that killed at least 43 people and injured 90 others.

Azam Tariq, the central spokesperson for Pakistani Taliban, told CNN in a phone call that it targeted people who formed a pro-government and anti-Taliban group.

Sohail Khan of the Bajaur Agency told CNN a suicide bomber detonated explosives near a World Food Programme distribution center.

Jackie Dent, a spokeswoman for the United Nations World Food Programme, confirmed that the incident happened outside a World Food Programme distribution point in Khar. Dent said food was being distributed at the time of the blast.

Dr. Muhammad Hanif, a senior medical officer of Bajaur Agency's headquarter hospital in Khar, told CNN that 43 dead bodies and 90 injured people were brought in the hospital.

Amjad Jamal, a spokesman for the World Food Programme, said the blast took place about 600 meters from the food distribution point at a security check post. He said more than 300 people were going through a security screening to get food and other items. ...

- bth: blowing people up at a food distribution center composed refugees must define terror. I do not understand why the people of Pakistan tolerate the Taliban when it conducts raids like this.

YouTube - I'll Be Home For Christmas - Josh Groban

YouTube - I'll Be Home For Christmas - Josh Groban: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Nixon-Era Probe Of Dan Schorr Uncovered A Great Reporter, FBI Files Show : The Two-Way : NPR

Nixon-Era Probe Of Dan Schorr Uncovered A Great Reporter, FBI Files Show : The Two-Way : NPR: "In August 1971 the Nixon White House asked the FBI to do a background check on Daniel Schorr — who at that time was on the administration's infamous 'enemies list' because he was a hard-working, deep-digging, exposer of corruption and wrongdoing with CBS News.

Files just posted at now reveal that the 'dirt' the FBI dug up on Dan proved that he was ... a hard-working, deep-digging, exposer of corruption and wrongdoing with CBS News.

Also: that everyone he had worked with described him as loyal, honest and worthy of consideration for a government job. (The ruse created by the White House when it asked the FBI to do the investigation was that Dan was being considered for a position in the government.)

Oh, and Dan could also be, according to another legendary newsman, Howard K. Smith, 'abrasive and insulting.' But those are necessary traits, Smith added, if you're going to be 'an outstanding news correspondent.'...

Daniel Schorr appears before a Senate panel in 1972.

- bth: Daniel Schorr had the guts integrity and moral courage to stand for something. He had meaning. It is good that he is remembered.

Afghan War Raises Questions of Coverage in U.S. -

Afghan War Raises Questions of Coverage in U.S. - ..."The study started in 2007. In that year, Afghanistan — which was a relatively low-grade conflict at the time, with many fewer allied causalities — accounted for only 1 percent of the nation’s news coverage. The same held true in 2008. The coverage picked up markedly at the end of 2009, when Mr. Obama conducted a lengthy review of Afghanistan strategy, but still added up to only 5 percent for the year.

Four or 5 percent “may be the baseline, at least for now, no matter what the strategic stakes are, or even as U.S. involvement ratchets up,” Mr. Jurkowitz said.

This year, Mr. Jurkowitz estimated, roughly half of the coverage of Afghanistan actually emanated from the war zone. That suggests that “without a major Washington policy debate or strategy review ongoing, that Afghanistan remains a story that gets modest coverage,” he said.

Modest, with question marks. When the CNN host Eliot Spitzer asked on Thursday night, “Why are we even there,” his guests had few answers.

The skepticism was noticeable this month when ABC conducted another of its checkups on the war. The Emmy-winning series was titled “Where Things Stand” when it was started in 2004 for Iraq, but this month, for Afghanistan, it was renamed “Can We Win?”

Tom Nagorski, the foreign managing editor for ABC News, said it was not a political statement or change in tone; rather, it reflected the fact that Mr. Obama’s strategic review was under way. “It’s a chance to bring some great, old-fashioned, terrific reporting to bear,” he said.

Privately, some television executives say the Afghanistan coverage is an outgrowth of the self-evaluations made by news organizations in the wake of the Iraq war, when many were faulted for not broadcasting sufficient skepticism. ...

- bth: how to make the important interesting?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Device uses sunlight to make liquid fuel | Raw Story

Device uses sunlight to make liquid fuel | Raw Story: "Scientists from the US and Switzerland have created a prototype machine that harnesses the sun's energy to make liquid fuels from water.

'We have a big energy problem and we have to think big,' Prof Sossina Haile, who led the study, told The Guardian.

The solar device uses sunlight and cerium oxide to break down water or carbon dioxide into hydrogen or carbon monoxide.

Cerium oxide, an oxide of the rare earth metal cerium, is almost as abundant as copper and when heated the chemical strips oxygen molecules from water and carbon dioxide.

Using a parabolic mirror to focus sunlight, the device heats up cerium oxide to 1,600 degrees celcius in the presence of water or carbon dioxide, creating either hydrogen or carbon monoxide, which can be converted to liquid fuels.

The cerium oxide is a catalyst and is not itself used up in the reaction, meaning the same cerium oxide can be used multiple times. ...

Israel destroyed Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, leaked cable reveals | Raw Story

Israel destroyed Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, leaked cable reveals | Raw Story: "Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in an air raid just weeks before it went online in 2007, said a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks and published on Friday in an Israeli daily.

'On September 6, 2007, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor built by Syria secretly, apparently with North Korea's help,' then US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice wrote in the cable published in Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

'Our intelligence experts are convinced that the attack targeted by the Israelis is in fact an atomic reactor of the same type built by North Korea in Yongbyon,' she wrote in the message dated April 2008.

'We have good reason to believe that the reactor was not built for peaceful purposes,' she said, adding the attack came only weeks before the reactor was to become operational.

Rice also noted the secrecy surrounding the construction of the nuclear facility, with the Syrian authorities refusing to invite the International Atomic Energy Agency or any media to inspect the site....

- bth: it seems to me that the world would be a better place if news like this were made public when the event occurred. It adds needed clarity to a confusing situation.

BBC News - Taliban launch attacks along north Pakistan border

BBC News - Taliban launch attacks along north Pakistan border: "About 150 Taliban launched co-ordinated attacks against five Frontier Corps checkpoints in Mohmand tribal region, they said.

The Taliban said only two of their fighters had died.

The military has launched offensives in the region in recent months, but insurgent attacks have continued.

Amjad Ali Khan, administrator of Mohmand, confirmed that 11 soldiers had been killed following initial reports that three had died. He said 12 other soldiers had been injured.

Mr Khan said the Frontier Corps paramilitary troops had 'repulsed' the militant attacks in the Baizai area which began at 0200 local time.

'The troops responded with artillery fire and raids by helicopter gunships, killing 24 militants,' he said.

'Seven of their bodies are in our possession.'...

- bth: what is the purpose of this attack by the Taliban?

Police search Mumbai for 4 in alleged terror plot -

Police search Mumbai for 4 in alleged terror plot - "MUMBAI, India — Police searched India's financial capital on Friday for four men who authorities believe entered Mumbai to carry out a terrorist attack, a top police official said.

Authorities issued a terror alert for the city, where a three-day terrorist seige in 2008 killed 166 people. Since then, police tend to take even minor threats seriously and have periodically raised the alarm, but there have been no subsequent attacks in the city. Despite checkpoints and some road closures, traffic and activity in most of Mumbai was normal on Friday.

Police have received credible information that at least four men belonging to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group have entered the city and were planning to strike during the holiday season, said Himanshu Roy, joint police commissioner of Mumbai Police. India blames Lashkar for the 2008 assaults.

'The four men are planning violent attacks that are going to cause destruction,' Roy said. 'The four have recently arrived in Mumbai. We believe the threat is serious.'...

Iranian soldier captured in Afghanistan - Telegraph

Iranian soldier captured in Afghanistan - Telegraph: "The capture of the officer confirms that Iran is directly supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The officer, from the elite al-Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, was captured by US special forces on December 18, a Nato spokesman said. Described as 'a key Taliban weapons facilitator', he was arrested in Kandahar province.

'The joint security team specifically targeted the individual for facilitating the movement of weapons between Iran and Kandahar through Nimroz province,' a Nato statement said.

It is the first reported instance of the capture of an al-Quds officer in Afghanistan. Several Iranian soldiers and operatives were caught in Iraq between 2006 and 2008. ...

- bth: its hard to say how much credit to put into this. The Telegraph is notorious for trying to bait the US with Iranian stories. Further note the press release and the Nato spokesperson are not identified. One wonders how much credence to give it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sacramento-area pilot punished for YouTube video | | Sacramento, California | News

Sacramento-area pilot punished for YouTube video | | Sacramento, California | News: "The 50-year-old pilot, who lives outside Sacramento, asked that neither he nor his airline be identified. He has worked for the airline for more than a decade and was deputized by the TSA to carry a gun in the cockpit.

He is also a helicopter test pilot in the Army Reserve and flew missions for the United Nations in Macedonia.

Three days after he posted a series of six video clips recorded with a cell phone camera at San Francisco International Airport, four federal air marshals and two sheriff's deputies arrived at his house to confiscate his federally-issued firearm. The pilot recorded that event as well and provided all the video to News10.

At the same time as the federal marshals took the pilot's gun, a deputy sheriff asked him to surrender his state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon.

A follow-up letter from the sheriff's department said the CCW permit would be reevaluated following the outcome of the federal investigation.

The YouTube videos, posted Nov. 28, show what the pilot calls the irony of flight crews being forced to go through TSA screening while ground crew who service the aircraft are able to access secure areas simply by swiping a card.

'As you can see, airport security is kind of a farce. It's only smoke and mirrors so you people believe there is actually something going on here,' the pilot narrates.

Video shot in the cockpit shows a medieval-looking rescue ax available on the flight deck after the pilots have gone through the metal detectors. 'I would say a two-foot crash ax looks a lot more formidable than a box cutter,' the pilot remarked....

- bth: retaliation by DHS plain and simple

Pakistan Arrests Nasiruddin Haqqani, Key Taliban Leader - The Daily Beast

Pakistan Arrests Nasiruddin Haqqani, Key Taliban Leader - The Daily Beast: Nasiruddin Haqqani, whose jihadist codename is Dr. Khan, was reportedly traveling by car with four fellow militants from the city of Peshawar to North Waziristan when he was picked up by Pakistani agents. One of the men traveling with him was a senior Haqqani commander named Mullah Muhammad Jan.

Pakistan has come under increasing pressure by the U.S. to move more forcefully against jihadist groups, in particular the violent Haqqani network, which has operated with impunity in North Waziristan, attacking U.S. troops across the border in Afghanistan. Last week, Admiral Mike Mullen, the U.S. top military officer, made an unscheduled stop in Islamabad, delivering a message of “strategic impatience” to the government there.

The arrest of the younger Haqqani is significant. Nasiruddin Haqqani, who has relatives in the Arab Gulf region, is reportedly the Haqqani network’s key fundraiser and financial operative in the Middle East. (It is believed that Nasiruddin’s mother hails from the United Arab Emirates.)

“The message is very clear,” says one Taliban commander who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Be careful, we can arrest any one of you at any time.”...

- bth: we'll see if he stays caught or is part of the great catch and release program run by ISI

Barney Frank Takes On Those Worried About 'Radical Homosexual Agenda' (VIDEO)

Barney Frank Takes On Those Worried About 'Radical Homosexual Agenda' (VIDEO): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

In Baghdad, Christmas Canceled -- News from

In Baghdad, Christmas Canceled -- News from

...This year however, Christmas is pretty much canceled. With violence against Baghdad’s Christian community soaring to new heights and large numbers of the community fleeing into refugee status in Europe and Syria, all but one church has canceled their celebrations, and plan to remain closed for Christmas...

Halliburton settles bribery case, says charges against Cheney dropped - The Hill's E2-Wire

Halliburton settles bribery case, says charges against Cheney dropped - The Hill's E2-Wire

Halliburton has agreed to pay $35 million to the government of Nigeria to settle bribery charges that ensnared former Vice President Dick Cheney, according to the company.

The Nigerian government charged Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, and other executives of the company in connection with a subsidiary of Halliburton, KBR Inc., with allegedly paying bribes to secure contracts for a liquefied natural gas facility in Nigeria....

Zombie Xmas

The Daily Beast: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Marines arming the Shadow UAV

Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 Aircraft News from Flightglobal: "The US Marine Corps hopes to have its AAI RQ-7 Shadow unmanned air vehicle armed in the next 12- to 18-months, moving ahead without the US Army as a partner in the weaponisation programme.

'All the other services have an unmanned system that delivers ordinance,' says Lt Col Brad Beach from a joint services panel at the Army Aviation Association of America unmanned aerial systems conference near Washington on 13 December, calling the USMC's need to weaponise the UAV 'urgent.'

Although the Army Aviaton and Missile Command issued a request for information in April seeking data on precision-guided weapons weighing 11.3kg (25lb) or less that could be fielded within 12 months of a contract award and said as recently as October that it would take the lead on development of Shadow weaponisation with the USMC, the programme is no longer on the table for the army.

'Army leadership to this date has made the decision that we are not pursuing to weaponise systems below our Gray Eagle platform, which is Hellfire-capable right now,' says Col Robert Sova, capability manager for UAVs at the Army Training and Doctrine Command.

For the Marines to turn around a weapons programme in such rapid fashion could prove difficult. So far, no request for proposals has been drafted to kick off the Pentagon's acquisition process.

Even without an RFP in place, Raytheon has been pressing ahead with UAV weaponisation, successfully flight-testing the Small Tactical Munition (STM) at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona in October launching from a Cobra UAV, the company says. This would make the weapon a logical choice for the Shadow. The smallest in Raytheon's arsenal, at 0.6m-long (2ft) and weighing 5.9kg, it and was specifically designed for use by unmanned platforms. The dual-mode, semi-active laser seeker and INS/GPS guidance system enable it to engage fixed and moving targets in all weather conditions, the company says.

The STM is based in large part on the Griffin missile - a 0.84m, 19kg motorised weapon developed two years ago by Raytheon. While the Griffin could also be an option for the Pentagon in arming the Shadow, the STM is small enough to allow the 4.3m-long Shadow to carry several.

- bth: this would seem a real and practical next step

Pakistan: Alliance Over if US Troops Expand War Across Border -- News from

Pakistan: Alliance Over if US Troops Expand War Across Border -- News from "Pakistani military leaders are warning the United States to keep their troops on the Afghan side of the border, with officials cautioning that the long-standing anti-terror alliance between the two countries would be ended formally if the United States invades.

US military officials are said to be pushing not only for permission to launch raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas, but are hoping to increase the rate so much as to make such raids a “routine” part of the Afghan War.

NATO, for its part, is denying that it has any plans to approve the attacks, but the Times of London reported that US officials believe they are very close to getting the go ahead for the raid.

The US has launched a handful of cross-border raids over the past several years, most recently in September when they killed 60 “suspects” just across the border. That raid led Pakistan to close the border to NATO supplies and sparked a major rift in relations. One can only imagine how much damage would be done if such raids become as common as drone strikes.

- bth: so if we send overt ground forces over in US uniforms the Pak government will break our plate, cut off our supply lines and generally our sources of intelligence from them. So it is said. On the other hand, such raids would be a major game changer as suddenly Pak sovereignty would be officially and publicly challenged by a foreign government which is something Pak doesn't want India to replicate. Watch for nuanced moves by the US: 1. American piloted aircraft making raids and 2. raids carried out by surrogate or irregular troops.

Video: Awesome Gesture-Controlled Robot Arm

Video: Awesome Gesture-Controlled Robot Arm: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

YouTube - Long range is boring!

YouTube - Long range is boring!: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

YouTube - New York City

YouTube - New York City: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Amazing what is being done with UGVs and first person viewing

Afghan Bombs Kill, Wound 3,800 Troops in 2010 | Danger Room |

Afghan Bombs Kill, Wound 3,800 Troops in 2010 | Danger Room | "How dangerous have the Taliban’s crude, cheap homemade bombs become? One awful measure came Sunday, when they drove a van full of explosives into a military base in southern Afghanistan, killing six U.S. soldiers. Another is this: The jury-rigged bombs have killed and wounded about a thousand more allied troops this year than in 2009.

Later this week, the White House will release its assessment of the war’s fortunes. And while Defense Secretary Gates said last week that the 2010 troop surge “reversed” the Taliban’s momentum, it hasn’t rolled back the insurgents’ ability to wreak havoc with improvised explosives.

They’ve been building bombs at a far faster clip, and even if they’ve not been able to kill people with them as efficiently as they used to, they’re killing and maiming more people with them. Nearly as many Afghan civilians have died this year from the bombs as last year — a big, flashing warning sign for the war. If this is reversing Taliban momentum, it would be scary to see what their unbroken momentum would look like.

Danger Room acquired these and other figures from the Pentagon’s bomb squad, known as JIEDDO, which provided us with stats on improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan from 2005 to this November.

The figures don’t distinguish between U.S. and allied troops. But they provide perhaps the most comprehensive public look to date into how deadly Afghanistan’s fertilizer-based bombs are. They killed two-thirds of the approximately 2050 U.S. and allied troops who’ve died in action in Afghanistan in the past five years.

The most recent casualty figures are especially striking. With a month left to go in 2010, improvised explosive devices have killed 413 NATO troops and wounded 3,400, for a total of 3,813 casualties. That’s about 1,000 more dead and wounded — an increase of over a third — than the toll from last year, when bombs took 2,785 allied victims. The bombs have killed and maimed 2,484 Afghan soldiers and cops so far this year, 32 more than in 2009.

The bombs’ toll on Afghan troops and civilians have been far more severe....

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

LEBANON: Nation braces for Hezbollah reaction to indictments | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times

LEBANON: Nation braces for Hezbollah reaction to indictments | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times: "Lebanon is bristling with nervous tension as it awaits the announcement that could spark a new round of civil strife or even another war with Israel, but disaster may not be as imminent as many fear.

It has been nearly two weeks since a prosecutor's office told reporters in the Hague, Netherlands, that the draft indictment in the investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri would be handed over to the pretrial judge, Daniel Franson, 'very very soon.' Hezbollah members are expected to be accused of complicity in that bombing, which killed 21 others as well.

The nation has braced for a confrontation between the government and the Shiite militia, which has dismissed the court as a politically charged sham and vowed to fight the charges and prevent any of its members from being taken into custody.

But experts estimate it will take another six to 10 weeks for the judge to review the merits of the case, and even if he confirms the indictment, he can rule to keep its contents confidential. That means the names of suspects -- unless somebody inside the court leaks the names to the media -- probably won't come out before mid-February, if they are made public at all....

- bth: well now this will be interesting.

Official: AFSOC unaware crashed CV-22 carried flight incident recorder - The DEW Line

Official: AFSOC unaware crashed CV-22 carried flight incident recorder - The DEW Line: "A baffling paperwork glitch has deprived investigators of the flight incident recorder (FIR) onboard a crashed BellBoeing CV-22 despite evidence that the critical device survived, according to president of the accident investigation board.

The missing FIR prevented the board from determining the cause of the crash and fuelled a rare public dispute between accident investigators and the head of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) over opposing theories.

The president of the accident investigation board, recently retired Brig Gen Donald Harvel, believes chances are greater than 50% that the CV-22 crashed as a result of dual engine power loss.

AFSOC issued a press release on 16 December dismissing Harvel's theory as unsupported by a 'preponderance of credible evidence', and the command's internal - and unreleased -- investigation report already blamed the crash on pilot error....

- bth: how very odd that the black box was not retrieved. Curious even.

U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan -

U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan - "WASHINGTON — Senior American military commanders in Afghanistan are pushing for an expanded campaign of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas, a risky strategy reflecting the growing frustration with Pakistan’s efforts to root out militants there.

The proposal, described by American officials in Washington and Afghanistan, would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash.

The plan has not yet been approved, but military and political leaders say a renewed sense of urgency has taken hold, as the deadline approaches for the Obama administration to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. Even with the risks, military commanders say that using American Special Operations troops could bring an intelligence windfall, if militants were captured, brought back across the border into Afghanistan and interrogated. ...

- bth: I think this is a public stalking horse to put pressure on the Pakistan government to take action. If the US military were to take such action on more than an isolated basis, the Pak government would cut off our supply lines. The surge makes these lines all the more important. If the US were to go after these Pakistani based militants we would almost certainly not be broadcasting it in advance and in public.

Italy: Explosive Device Found In Rome Subway

Italy: Explosive Device Found In Rome Subway: "ROME — A suspicious package full of wires and powder was found Tuesday in a subway car in Rome, prompting a terror scare during the Christmas season. But the city's mayor said the device could not have exploded.

The device was found at around 10 a.m. (0900GMT) inside a train at the Rebibbia station, on the outskirts of Italian capital. The train was at the end of the line and empty when the package was found, said Atac, which runs the Rome subway.

Bomb-disposal experts checked the powder and concluded 'the device could not have exploded,' said Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno.

'The rudimentary device could not trigger an explosion,' Alemanno was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency....

- bth: its a dry run

Latest Terror Threat in US Aimed to Poison Food - CBS Evening News - CBS News

Latest Terror Threat in US Aimed to Poison Food - CBS Evening News - CBS News: "CBS) In this exclusive story, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports the latest terror attack to America involves the possible use of poisons - simultaneous attacks targeting hotels and restaurants at many locations over a single weekend.

A key Intelligence source has confirmed the threat as 'credible.' Department of Homeland Security officials, along with members of the Department of Agriculture and the FDA, have briefed a small group of corporate security officers from the hotel and restaurant industries about it.

'We operate under the premise that individuals prepared to carry out terrorist acts are in this country,' said Dec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Dec. 6, 2010.

The plot uncovered earlier this year is said to involve the use of two poisons - ricin and cyanide - slipped into salad bars and buffets.

Of particular concern: The plotters are believed to be tied to the same terror group that attempted to blow up cargo planes over the east coast in October, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In online propaganda al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has praised the cargo attack, part of what it called 'Operation Hemorrhage.'...

- bth: I haven't seen any real indication that the food supply is threatened from al Qaeda.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Opponents Taking Revenge On Russian Arms Treaty

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Opponents Taking Revenge On Russian Arms Treaty: "WASHINGTON -- The repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy over the weekend was a major victory for the White House, but it is now imperiling a chief priority: the ratification of the nuclear-arms-reduction pact with Russia known as the New START Treaty. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had promised the White House early last week that they would deliver the votes necessary to ratify the START treaty if the administration would pull the repeal of the military's DADT policy off the lame-duck agenda, according to Democratic aides familiar with the pair's offer.

The White House declined the offer and pushed ahead with repeal; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) brought it to the Senate floor Saturday, where it won 63 votes to defeat a filibuster, and 65 votes on final passage.

Now that DADT has been repealed, Graham is signaling he'll no longer vote for the treaty. 'If you really want to have a chance of passing START, you better start over and do it in the next Congress because this lame duck has been poisoned,' Graham said on CBS's 'Face the Nation' on Sunday....

- bth: so just amazing. McCain and Graham will muck up a nuclear weapons treaty in revenge for not passing DADT? What children.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: Richard Holbrooke Told Me Afghanistan Was A Losing Proposition

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough: Richard Holbrooke Told Me Afghanistan Was A Losing Proposition: "WASHINGTON -- Before his death, Richard Holbrooke admitted that Afghanistan is a war that cannot be won, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough revealed Monday.

'Afghanistan is so depressing to me because I've yet to talk to a foreign policy expert, including Richard Holbrooke -- off the record -- that didn't know this was a losing proposition,' said Scarborough. 'And it seems like the president is just buying time because he doesn't want the Republicans to call him weak on defense.'...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Distraction - SourceWatch

Distraction - SourceWatch: "Techniques of distraction are used to suppress information or points of view by crowding them out of the media, or by inducing other people or groups of people to stop listening to certain arguments, or simply by drawing their attention elsewhere.

In a general age of information overload, it is far easier and more cost-effective to simply not discuss an issue, than to spend money on propaganda and spin. Many governments may be discovering that dealing with the public is best achieved through Weapons of Mass Distraction.

There is no doubt that all countries have priorities in news reporting that constitutes a bias, and that many times the bias will favor the administration currently in power. It is controversial, and may be just another conspiracy theory, to say that the government or large corporations are deliberately manipulating the media to distract the populace. But the media does have that effect, and the population is distracted. The only question left is whether it's deliberate or not.

Distracting the media is relatively easy, using some time-tested techniques--Some of the following recent examples helped keep U.S. public sentiment in favor of an Iraq invasion:

* 1 Distraction by nationalism
* 2 Straw man
* 3 Distraction by scapegoat
* 4 Distraction by phenomenon
* 5 Distraction by broadening the issue
* 6 Marginalization
* 7 Demonisation of the opposition
* 8 Googlewashing
* 9 A few older examples

-bth: techniques you are seeing more of

Sweden bomber's father-in-law 'not sad' for death - The Local

Sweden bomber's father-in-law 'not sad' for death - The Local: "'We did not know and were not aware of his criminal plans. We feel no sorrow. We are not sad about his death. Quite the opposite,' Ali Thwany wrote in a statement to several media outlets, including the Expressen daily, which published it on its website.

Thwany's son-in-law, Taimour Abdulwahab, is strongly believed to have been Saturday's bomber, although police have yet to officially identify the man who first blew up his car and later himself near a crowded pedestrian street in central Stockholm.

He was carrying a cocktail of explosives and police suspect he may have left the crowd of Christmas shoppers due to a problem with the bombs when he mistakenly set off a small charge while standing in an empty side-street.

The bomber was the only person to die, but two people were slightly injured when his car exploded minutes earlier about 300 metres away.

'My daughter Mona has been tricked into living with him. She did not know her husband was a criminal, or about his hidden and open intentions. I count his departure as the door to freedom for my daughter. Now she can be free from the brainwashing of terrorism,' Thwany wrote.

Reports have said Abdulwahab arrived in Sweden as a child from Iraq and could have become radicalised in Britain, where he attended university and lived for the last few years with his wife Mona and three children.

'With his action, he denies all the good he has received from Sweden, Sweden which took us in [and] has given us what no Arab or Muslim country has given us,' Thwany lamented....

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Bomber linked to radical preacher: report - The Local

Bomber linked to radical preacher: report - The Local: "They also said that other voices could be heard on an audio message the suicide bomber sent out before Saturday's attack near a busy pedestrian shopping street in the Swedish capital.

The Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily reported, quoting sources with insight into the case, that British police were looking into a possible connection between Taimour Abdulwahab, who is strongly believed to have been the Stockholm bomber and Egyptian-born Hamza.

Hamza, the former imam of the once-notorious Finsbury Park mosque in north London, was jailed in Britain for seven years in 2007 for inciting followers to murder non-believers.

TV4 meanwhile reported that it had hired a sound technician to analyse the audio message the Stockholm bomber sent to police and media shortly before he first blew up his car and minutes later himself.

'There are at least two people' heard on the message, sound technician Johan Öhgren told the commercial broadcaster....

'He wanted to do something to help' Slain Army medic was spurred by plight of wounded » Local News », Salem, MA

'He wanted to do something to help' Slain Army medic was spurred by plight of wounded » Local News », Salem, MA: "SALEM — Lauren Elizabeth Ayube's life changed forever with a simple knock at the door last Wednesday.

Two men dressed in formal Class A Army uniforms were standing solemnly outside, and, deep down, she knew what that meant: Her husband, Sgt. James Ayube Jr., a combat medic serving in Afghanistan, had been killed.

But she wouldn't let herself believe it, not right away.

'I had a weird, surreal moment. I asked them, 'Why are you dressed like that?'' Lauren Ayube said yesterday. 'They asked me if I was Mrs. Ayube, and I said, 'Yes, but why are you dressed like that?' No matter how many times I thought about this moment in my head, I wasn't prepared.'

She collapsed to the floor, screaming that they must by lying.

James Ayube Jr., 25, of Salem, died Wednesday in Kandahar Province Afghanistan, when a suicide bomber rounded the corner of a building and blew himself up near the spot where Ayube and Kelly J. Mixon, of Fernandina Beach, Fla., were standing. Both men were killed. The fateful knock on the door came Wednesday evening, and since then the Ayube family has been trying to process the tragedy.

'It was so unreal the first couple days. It's only now sinking in. We're devastated,' his father, James Ayube Sr. of Salem, said yesterday.

'It's hard to imagine not having your kid around. It's just not right, a parent having to bury their child. I wish I could make a deal with the devil and switch places with him.'...

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Fellow soldier and lifelong friend will escort Goncalo's body back to Fall River - Fall River, MA - Wicked Local Fall River

Fellow soldier and lifelong friend will escort Goncalo's body back to Fall River - Fall River, MA - Wicked Local Fall River: "FALL RIVER —

Military officials are not ready to release details on how 21-year-old Army Fall River native Pfc. Ethan Goncalo died Saturday in Afghanistan or when his body might be returned to Fall River for what will be the fourth funeral this year of a city serviceman.

But the family of his best friend serving with him in the Army National Guard’s 181st Infantry, Pvt. Tyler Andrade of Fall River, said Andrade will escort the body of his former Little League teammate to Massachusetts and Fall River.

“The Army came yesterday and told me. They picked up his dress uniform,” Evelyn Andrade, Tyler’s mother, said Thursday.

She said Goncalo’s parents, Louis and Beth Goncalo of Fall River, “requested it,” after speaking several times with the heartbroken family. “They wanted Tyler to do it.”

Goncalo’s biological mother is Kelly Reed of Boston. He reportedly has two step-brothers, but no funeral information has been released.

Maj. Lisa Ahaesy, Massachusetts Army National Guard public affairs officer, confirmed Pvt. Tyler Andrade, 20, “is the escort” at the request of the Goncalo family.

He will escort his lifelong friend’s body to his home state and city, she said....

Slain Marine remembered for his determination - The Boston Globe

Slain Marine remembered for his determination - The Boston Globe: "MALDEN — Lance Corporal Michael E. Geary was a determined, level-headed teenager who decided at an early age he wanted to be a US Marine, his family says.

“Since he was 14, it was all he talked about,’’ said his father, Tim Geary of Derry, N.H. “I asked him why the Marines. His response was, ‘Because they’re the best.’ The Marine Corps was everything to him.’’

Corporal Geary, 20, who was from Derry and had roots in Malden, was killed in action in Afghanistan last week, local officials and the military said yesterday.

He died Dec. 8 during combat operations in Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan, according to the US Department of Defense.

Corporal Geary was born in Malden, spent his early childhood in Brookline, and had lived since the age of 9 in Derry, where he graduated from Pinkerton Academy in 2009....

India not to leave Afghanistan: WikiLeaks

India not to leave Afghanistan: WikiLeaks: "WASHINGTON: India had informed the United States that they would not leave Afghanistan because they had strategic interests there, revealved a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

According to the cable sent to Washington, YK Sinha -- India's A/S equivalent for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran -- in a February 22, 2010 meeting, welcomed increased GOI-USG coordination 'at all levels' on respective assistance activities in Afghanistan. He warned the USG not to be drawn into what he characterized as a Pakistani 'game' of enlisting American support to 'drive India out of Afghanistan' by presenting 'fabricated' evidence of alleged Indian misdeeds in Afghanistan or the border areas.

Sinha contended that 'it is quite clear to India' that Pakistan views Afghanistan 'as a zero sum game and they want India out of Afghanistan.' He stated that 'we will not leave Afghanistan because we have strategic interests there.'

- bth: It would seem to me that we could do something with this to increase manpower, intel or training efforts. Also it plays to the paranoia of Pakistan because while Pakistan believes we will inevitably leave, they know India will not.

Printer bomb plot: police unwittingly considered transporting live device - Telegraph

Printer bomb plot: police unwittingly considered transporting live device - TelegraphBomb disposal officers suffered a narrow escape when they planned to transport the device - described as “the most sophisticated device seen for a decade” by British experts - for further examinations while it was still primed.

They could have been on the motorway on the way to the Defence Science and Techonology Laboratories at Fort Halstead in Kent at the time the device was timed to explode.

However the Scotland Yard bomb disposal officers unwittingly disarmed the device and a warning from British officials in London, who were monitoring a simultaneous bomb scare in Dubai, alerted them that it was viable.

The sophistication of the bomb, which was hidden in a desk top printer, has prompted British counter-terrorism officials to undertake an urgent reassessment of the threat posed al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based group believed to be responsible for planting the bomb on a cargo plane destined for Chicago.

“This was the most sophisticated device we have seen for a decade,” a police source told the Daily Telegraph.

- bth: British bomb squad handling of this event does not inspire confidence in anything other than good luck

China to send permanent ship patrols to disputed waters: Voice of Russia

China to send permanent ship patrols to disputed waters: Voice of Russia
China intends to deploy permanent ship patrols off the disputed Diaoyutai islands in the East China Sea.

The Japanese newspaper Asahi quotes a source in the Chinese Agriculture Ministry as saying that Beijing was determined to protect its land and waters that rightfully belonged to China. Patrol ships will be escorting Chinese fishing trawlers.

The Ddiaoyutai or Senkaku archipelago has been the subject of a bitter territorial dispute between China and Japan.

Relations between the two countries strained in September after Japanese coast guards detained a Chinese fishing vessel in the contested area.

Pakistan: China is a more reliable trading partner than the US, economist says - Adnkronos Politics

Pakistan: China is a more reliable trading partner than the US, economist says - Adnkronos Politics: "Islamabad, 17 Dec. (AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad - Chinese premier Wen Jiabao arrived Pakistan Friday to kick off on a three-day visit during which he is expected to sign 20 business agreements. According to a senior Pakistani economist, the current visit of Chinese premier marks the beginning of a ten year long economic plan aiming to turn around Pakistan’s economy.

“Unlike Pakistan’s unreliable and dimensionless economic and strategic relations with the US, China aims to give Pakistan’s economy a very sound footing through a decade-long program,' Washington based economist Meekal Ahmad told Adnkronos International (AKI) in an interview in Islamabad.

Ahmed, who served in Pakistan's Finance Ministry in the late 1980s and the International Monetary Fund through the late 2000s and is frequently consulted by top Pakistani decision makers, said that Pakistan’s economic dependency on Washington is unrealistic, while long-term economic relations with China are more sustainable.

Pakistan and China have a joint venture to develop fighter jets on par with the American F-16, yet it is about half the price, Ahmed said, adding 'Pakistan would certainly get export orders.”

“Similarly China offers Pakistan the nuclear power plants America frowns upon and would provide Pakistan a facility to produce cheap energy,” Ahmad said.

China's economy is booming. The world's second-largest economy posted annual growth of 9.6 percent in the third quarter of 2010, slowing from 11.9 percent in the first three months of the year. The figures compare with a 2.5 percent expansion for the US economy.

''American supremacy' is just a matter of time. It will become clear in the next five years as to whether Americans will retain their economic superiority or not,' Ahmad said.

- bth: one might dismiss this Paki economist opinion but for the fact that China is making long term economic and political investments in nuclear energy, defense industries in Pakistan, not just aid programs like the US. Perhaps with all the money we are spending in Pakistan we should be taking the long view as well. For example would Pakistan benefit from a free trade agreement with the US? Would it benefit from investments in port facilities and in telecom?

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban accused of forcing farmers to grow opium poppy instead of saffron | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban accused of forcing farmers to grow opium poppy instead of saffron | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times: "It is as pricey as precious metals or illicit drugs, and in some kitchens it is increasingly becoming even more valued. Saffron, a spice that grows in Afghanistan, could be a solution for farmers who want to make ends meet without growing poppy flowers that can be turned into opium and heroin that enrich and empower drug barons.

But this week, the spokesman for the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan spoke of a 'disturbing trend' in the western portion of the country: The Taliban is forcing farmers to stop growing the savory spice and switch to more nefarious crops.

'Insurgents are pressuring Herat farmers to switch to growing poppy instead of saffron so they can use the money from drug sales to fund their operations,' German army Gen. Josef Blotz told reporters Monday. 'In areas north of Herat city, insurgents have destroyed fields planted with saffron, and last month they attacked two trucks carrying saffron bulbs for planting and killed the truckers who were delivering them.'

A Taliban spokesman reached by telephone Wednesday denied the charge....

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