Friday, December 23, 2011

NightWatch 20111222 - KGS - On recent events in Iraq and Syria

NightWatch 20111222 - KGS

... Comment: In effect, Maliki has announced a pending purge of Sunni Arab political leaders, three days after the departure of the last American soldiers. It is an extraordinary act of defiance to consolidate Iraq as an Arab Shiite state before other groups and sects can act to prevent it.

Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said it will cooperate with judicial decisions from the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council regarding Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, Kurdistan Alliance member Mahmoud Othman said. Othman asked the judiciary to declare an arrest warrant and said the alliance will leave this decision process to the judiciary.

Comment: The logic of political events this week leads towards a resumption of civil war next year. The Kurds no longer have the US as their protector and they lack the strength, politically and militarily, to protect the Sunni Arabs. Together they can cooperate to defend their territories, but al Maliki is making it clear that Iraq is the first Arab Shiite state.

That probably explains the Sunni Arab determination, with obvious outside Sunni Arab financial support, to overthrow the Alawite government in Damascus to prevent the formation of a Shiite belt from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean Sea. To Sunnis, the spread of the Shiite heresy and apostasy means the return of fitna … chaos. Iraq is lost to the Sunni Arabs, for now, and the new battle lines against the Shiism are being drawn in Syria.

Letter to Touro Synagogue - Wikisource

Letter to Touro Synagogue - Wikisource

The letter from George Washington in response to Moses Seixas

To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport Rhode Island.

Gentlemen,

While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people.

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

-bth: Amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Problems possible at nearly 65,000 Arlington National Cemetery graves, review finds - The Washington Post

Problems possible at nearly 65,000 Arlington National Cemetery graves, review finds - The Washington Post

After a year-long effort to account for every single grave at Arlington National Cemetery, Army officials said Thursday that there might be problems, some as minor as errors in paper records, with nearly 65,000 sites--or one-quarter of all graves at the nation’s most prominent military burial ground.

In a highly anticipated report, mandated by Congress last year in the wake of the burial scandal at Arlington, the cemetery cited monumental challenges in completing the task--Civil War-era logs gone missing, illegible headstones and burial procedures that changed signifiantly over time at the 150-year-old cemetery.

“In a lot of cases the marker is absolutely right,” said Army Col. John Scharder, the co-chair of the task force. “The service was conducted flawlessly and someone wrote something on a piece of paper wrong.”

But “the discovery of burial errors cannot be ruled out,” the report said.

Congress ordered the accounting after an Army investigation found widespread problems including mismarked or unmarked graves, urns that had been dug up and dumped in a dirt pile, and millions of dollars wasted on contracts that produced nothing.

Since then additional problems have been discovered, prompting a criminal investigation by the FBI and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, including a mass grave that held eight sets of cremated remains.

The revelations of the problems led to the removal of the cemetery’s leadership. A new team, in place since June, 2010, has since embarked on an ambitious--and exceedingly difficult--project to document every single grave.

An accountability task force has photographed every burial marker and uploaded the information to a database where it was double-checked against more than 500,000 paper records that have been scanned into the system.

So far, the task force has found no problems with 195,748 sites, according to the report. Of the remaining 64,230 sites, there have been some discrepancies that warrant further review. Arlington officials stressed that those problems could be minor, such as typos in names or dates of death that don’t mean that people are buried in the wrong places.

Schrader said that it could be another six months before the cemetery will be able to get through those cases.

- bth: maybe it doesn't matter to them, but it matters to me. Fix it. Fix it now.

RICHARD VERREAU--MINUIT CHRÉTIENS - YouTube

RICHARD VERREAU--MINUIT CHRÉTIENS - YouTube

BBC News - Finland 'finds Patriot missiles' on China-bound ship

BBC News - Finland 'finds Patriot missiles' on China-bound ship

The Finnish authorities have impounded an Isle of Man-flagged ship bound for China with undeclared missiles and explosives, officials say.

Police are questioning the crew of the MS Thor Liberty after what were described as 69 Patriot anti-missile missiles were found aboard.

Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen said the missiles were marked "fireworks".

The MS Thor Liberty had docked in the Finnish port of Kotka after leaving Germany last week.

Dock workers became suspicious after finding explosives poorly stored on open pallets, and the missiles were then found in containers marked "fireworks".

The managing director of the ship's owner, Thorco Shipping, expressed surprise. Thomas Mikkelsen told AFP news agency from Denmark that he was unaware of the matter.

Another company official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the ship had been detained in Finland and said the missiles could have been loaded on to the vessel by mistake, AFP adds.

Police did not confirm Finnish media reports that the ship had also been scheduled to stop in South Korea, Reuters news agency reports....

- bth: even if the missiles were destined for S. Korea, does it make sense that they would pass through China? Good grief. And labeled as fireworks has got to be the year's best understatement.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Father Loses Second Son | Here & Now

Father Loses Second Son | Here & Now

By: Alex Ashlock

Carlos Arredondo lost one of his two sons in Iraq. Twenty-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo was killed in Najaf in 2004.

Now his other son, Brian Arredondo, is also gone. Brian apparently committed suicide on Monday. He was 24.

When the Marines came to Arredondo’s home in 2004 to deliver the news about Alexander, he became so distraught that he poured gasoline in the Marine vehicle and set it and himself on fire. The Marines who had come to his home saved him. Carlos called them his “angels in camouflage.”

In the years since, Carlos and his wife Melida became very visible advocates for military families in the Boston area. Carlos, so familiar for his pickup truck with a flag-draped coffin in the bed, representing his son’s.

In memory of Alexander Arredondo, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. (Anna Miller/Here & Now)

In memory of Alexander Arredondo, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. (Anna Miller/Here & Now)

The last time I saw them was Memorial Day weekend. They had come to the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne to help another Massachusetts family mourn its own loss. Paul Monti of Raynham, Massachusetts had gathered thousands of volunteers to put flags on all the veterans’ graves there, including his son’s. Jared Monti was killed in Afghanistan and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Carlos and Melida came to help and brought Alexander’s boots and a photo of him, and propped them up against a tree in the cemetery.

Carlos Arredondo was on Here and Now in 2007. He was a native of Costa Rica and he had finally become an American citizen, with the help of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

When he did that, he had his named legally changed. “I changed my name after my first born Alexander and my second born Brian,” he told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “So my name now is Alexander Brian Arredondo. And for me to honor my boys with their own names is wonderful.”

A candlelight vigil will be held for Brian at First Church in Jamaica Plain, Mass. Tuesday night.

-bth: I appreciate that Alex took the time to write this article about our friends who have given so much.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nick Pulliam Iraq 2004-05

Lawmakers make steep cuts to DHS research budget | Homeland Security News Wire

Lawmakers make steep cuts to DHS research budget | Homeland Security News WireOver the weekend the Senate approved an omnibus spending bill that would result in deep cuts to DHS’ research and development arm

Over the weekend the Senate approved an omnibus spending bill that would result in deep cuts to DHS’ research and development arm.

On 17 December the Senate voted sixty-seven to thirty-two to approve a consolidated omnibus spending bill that the House had approved the day before. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

The bill allocates $668 million to DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate, a difference of more than $500 million from the agency’s request of $1.17 billion for the fiscal year.

After repeated pleas from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and Taro O’Toole, the undersecretary of the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate, lawmakers added more than $100 million to the agency’s budget.

O’Toole argued that such steep budget cuts would deprive DHS of critical research and development.

Under the new bill, the S&T Management and Administration would receive $135 million, a 10 percent cut, while S&T research, development, acquisition, and operations would be allocated $533 million, nearly a 50 percent cut from DHS’ request.

Instead of allocating research funds more specifically to each department, lawmakers opted to create consolidated budget for research, development, and innovation programs that would allow S&T more flexibility in shifting research priorities and funding projects.

-bth: what are those Senators thinking? 50% cut in S&T for DHS is a disaster for domestic industry and for national security. There is a veritable war going on along the Mexican border and cuts like this will decimate methods of addressing those issues.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mexican ex-officials work for US intelligence: report

Mexican ex-officials work for US intelligence: reportAt least 80 former Mexican government officials are currently working as informants for US intelligence agencies, the daily La Jornada reported, citing senior Mexican officials.

Most of them are gathering information for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the prestigious daily reported.

Senior officials in the attorney general's office and the interior ministry said that those informants work as spies, gather and analyze information, and follow cases on request.

"We have not dismissed the possibility that current government employees are also working for the Americans in combination with their ex-colleagues," a senior government official who has participated in counternarcotics meetings with US officials told the newspaper.

The spying case came to light during a probe into whether the DEA has laundered drug money seized from criminal groups in Mexican territory, La Jornada reported.

On December 4, The New York Times reported that undercover US counternarcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds to see how the system works and use the information against Mexican drug cartels.

Some 45,000 people have been killed in Mexico since 2006, when its government launched a major military crackdown against the powerful drug cartels.

- bth: 45,000 dead since 2006 dwarfs the Middle Eastern conflicts we are engaged in for the same period.

Methane discovery stokes new global warming fears Shock as retreat of Arctic releases greenhouse gas - Science - News - The Independent

Methane discovery stokes new global warming fears Shock as retreat of Arctic releases greenhouse gas - Science - News - The Independent

... Natalia Shakhova, a colleague at the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said that the Arctic is becoming a major source of atmospheric methane and the concentrations of the powerful greenhouse gas have risen dramatically since pre-industrial times, largely due to agriculture.

However, with the melting of Arctic sea ice and permafrost, the huge stores of methane that have been locked away underground for many thousands of years might be released over a relatively short period of time, Dr Shakhova said.

"I am concerned about this process, I am really concerned. But no-one can tell the timescale of catastrophic releases. There is a probability of future massive releases might occur within the decadal scale, but to be more accurate about how high that probability is, we just don't know," Dr Shakova said.

"Methane released from the Arctic shelf deposits contributes to global increase and the best evidence for that is the higher concentration of atmospheric methane above the Arctic Ocean," she said.

"The concentration of atmospheric methane increased unto three times in the past two centuries from 0.7 parts per million to 1.7ppm, and in the Arctic to 1.9ppm. That's a huge increase, between two and three times, and this has never happened in the history of the planet," she added.

Each methane molecule is about 70 times more potent in terms of trapping heat than a molecule of carbon dioxide. However, because methane it broken down more rapidly in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, scientist calculate that methane is about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a hundred-year cycle.

Secretary Eyes Cuts in Marines and the Navy - NYTimes.com

Secretary Eyes Cuts in Marines and the Navy - NYTimes.comKABUL, Afghanistan — On a trip to Afghanistan to visit Navy and Marine forces, the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, said Saturday that he expected both branches to reduce their numbers after the Iraq and Afghan wars, and to return to their seafaring roots — although both will have some new areas of focus.

The Marines increased their numbers by about 27,000 in 2006 and 2007 to meet the demands of fighting the war in Iraq and the increase in troops there.

“The Marines are going to get smaller,” Mr. Mabus said. “And, they are going to get lighter because the equipment they’ve had for these land wars has been heavier and larger.” ...

- bth: I realize there is great nostalgia here but Marines floating on a boat, shunting the equipment that saved their lives in a land engagement and waiting for the Japanese to invade the Philippines is a total waste of manpower and talent. It means that the Marines would not be usable in any engagement we have fought in in the last 2 decades and for the most part three. Think about that. Its like the congress and the marine brass just can't wait to get back to making extraordinarily overpriced and delayed landing craft and driving around in light under armored vehicles hoping the enemy has forgotten how to make an IED. This is a bad plan all around.

Raw Video: Last US Troops Roll Out of Iraq - YouTube

Raw Video: Last US Troops Roll Out of Iraq - YouTube