Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Flowers Of The Forest - YouTube

The Flowers Of The Forest - YouTube



I've seen the smiling
Of fortune beguiling,
I've tasted her pleasures,
And felt her decay;
Sweet is her blessing,
And kind her caressing,
But now they are fled
And fled far away.

Dante's Prayer - Please Remember Me

 

When the dark wood fell before me And all the paths were overgrown When the priests of pride say there is no other way I tilled the sorrows of stone I did not believe because I could not see Though you came to me in the night When the dawn seemed forever lost You showed me your love in the light of the stars 

Cast your eyes on the ocean Cast your soul to the sea When the dark night seems endless Please remember me Then the mountain rose before me By the deep well of desire From the fountain of forgiveness Beyond the ice and fire Cast your eyes on the ocean Cast your soul to the sea When the dark night seems endless Please remember me 

Though we share this humble path, alone How fragile is the heart Oh give these clay feet wings to fly To touch the face of the stars Breathe life into this feeble heart Lift this mortal veil of fear Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears We'll rise above these earthly cares Cast your eyes on the ocean Cast your soul to the sea When the dark night seems endless Please remember me Please remember me

Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think | Singularity Hub

Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think | Singularity Hub

...I’ll start with poverty, which has declined more the in the past 50 years than the previous 500. In fact, during the last 50 years, while the population on Earth has doubled, the average per capita income around th world (adjusted for inflation) has tripled.
We’re not just richer than ever before, we’re healthier as well. During the last century, maternal mortality has decreased by 90 percent and child mortality by 99 percent, while the length of the average human lifespan has more than doubled.
As Steven Pinker has made clear, since the middle ages, violence on Earth has been in constant decline. Homicide rates are a hundred-fold less than they were when they peaked 500 years ago. So we’re not only healthier, we’re safer as well.
If your measure of prosperity is tilted towards the availability of goods and services, consider that even the poorest American’s today (those below the poverty line) have access to phones, toilets, running water, air conditioning and even a car. Go back 150 years and the wealthiest robber barons couldn’t have hoped for such wealth.
Right now, a Maasai Warrior on mobile phone has better mobile communications than President Reagan did 25 years ago; And, if he were on Google, he would have access to more information than President Clinton did just 15 years ago. We are effectively living in a world of communications and information abundance.
Even more impressive are the vast array of tools and services now disguised as free mobile apps that this same Maasai Warrior can access: a GPS locator, video teleconferencing hardware and software, an HD video camera, a camera, stereo system, vast library of books, films, games and music. Go back 20 years and add the cost of these goods and services together—and you’ll get a total well in excess of a million dollars. Today, all these devices come standard with a smart phone....

Gen Allen-Gen Kayani meeting: Washington offers joint offensive against TTP – The Express Tribune

Gen Allen-Gen Kayani meeting: Washington offers joint offensive against TTP – The Express Tribune


ISLAMABAD:  The US made an offer to Pakistan to conduct a joint military offensive against the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the Pak-Afghan border region, in a move indicating that the two estranged allies have sought to cooperate in specific areas despite worsening ties.
However, the offer is linked with the Pakistani military agreeing to eliminate alleged sanctuaries of the Haqqani network on its side of the border, diplomatic sources revealed.
The idea was discussed in talks between US Gen John Allen, who is leading Nato-led US forces in Afghanistan, and Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in Rawalpindi on Wednesday....

-bth: it is amazing how difficult it is to get NATO Pak cooperation going on a sustained basis.  Also how resilient insurgencies are when they can straddle an international border.

Admiral: US Supplies to Afghanistan Triple in Cost Without Pakistan Route -- News from Antiwar.com

Admiral: US Supplies to Afghanistan Triple in Cost Without Pakistan Route -- News from Antiwar.com


In comments today Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek, the director of the Defense Logistics Agency, provided some of the most specific details about the costs of the supply lines for the NATO occupation of Afghanistan yet seen by the public.

According to Vice Adm. Harnitchek, a cargo container from the US to Afghanistan costs about $20,000 in shipping by the current overland routes, and that cargo sent by sea to Karachi and then ferried in across the Afghan-Pakistan border costs only about a third of that price.

Coupled with recent claims by Leon Panetta that the loss of the Pakistan route costs an additional $100 million a month, that would amount to about 7,500 containers are sent per month....

-bth: we need to adjust Pakistani aid accordingly

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Biometrics biometric technology | Homeland Security News Wire

Biometrics biometric technology | Homeland Security News Wire

 Chris Archer, the online content editor at IDGA (the Institute for Defense & Government Advancement), talked with James Loudermilk, Senior Level Technologist, FBI Science and Technology Branch, about biometrics and biometrics and homeland security; Loudermilk says that biometrics applications helped the FBI determine that about 1 percent of people who seek visa to visit the United States as tourists have previously done things that make them unsuitable guests; the conversation examines the application of biometrics for homeland security, issues relating to privacy and civil liberties, and what can be learned from international biometrics projects, including India’s UID scheme...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New study by Harvard Kennedy School researcher forecasts sharp increase in world oil production capacity, and risk of price collapse - Harvard - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

New study by Harvard Kennedy School researcher forecasts sharp increase in world oil production capacity, and risk of price collapse - Harvard - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

 Cambridge, Mass. -- Oil production capacity is surging in the United States and several other countries at such a fast pace that global oil output capacity is likely to grow by nearly 20 percent by 2020, which could prompt a plunge or even a collapse in oil prices, according to a new study by a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School.
The findings by Leonardo Maugeri, a former oil industry executive who is now a fellow in the Geopolitics of Energy Project in the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, are based on an original field-by-field analysis of the world’s major oil formations and exploration projects.
Contrary to some predictions that world oil production has peaked or will soon do so,  Maugeri projects that output should grow from the current 93 million barrels per day to 110 million barrels per day by 2020, the biggest jump in any decade since the 1980s. What’s more, this increase represents less than 40 percent of the new oil production under development globally: more than 60 percent of the new production will likely reach the market after 2020....

-bth: worth reading in full with significant long term implications for North America in particular. I have serious doubts about a price collapse due to these types of discoveries because for them to be produced, higher oil prices are required. Often substantial amounts of heat energy are expended to extract these thick oil or tar deposits.

US Sent Afghanistan Surge Troops ‘To Wrong Province', Book Claims

US Sent Afghanistan Surge Troops ‘To Wrong Province', Book Claims


The Pentagon sent thousands of US troops to the wrong province in Afghanistan and "squandered more than a year of the war," a book to be published Tuesday claims.
According to "Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan," President Barack Obama gave the green light for a reinforcement of 17,000 US Marines to be deployed to the war-torn country in February 2009 and another 30,000 later the same year, The (London) Times reported Monday.
However, more than 50 percent of the initial 17,000 ended up in Helmand Province- where the British already had a presence - instead of nearby Kandahar, which is considered the spiritual home of the insurgents.
"Can someone tell me why the Marines were sent to Helmand?" Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the then-commander of US and International Security Assistance Force troops in Afghanistan, was alleged to have asked upon his arrival in Kabul in June 2009.
McChrystal reportedly regarded Helmand to be of "far lower strategic significance."
If the first batch of surge troops had been deployed to Kandahar, "it could have obviated the need for a full 30,000 surge later that year or it could have granted commanders the flexibility to combat insurgent havens in eastern Afghanistan much sooner," the book states....

-bth: well perhaps the marines went to Helmand because the Brits were collapsing and planned to pull out and the Marines wanted an independent command.

Monday, June 25, 2012

$5B CAMO SNAFU - The Daily

$5B CAMO SNAFU - The Daily

 NATICK, Mass. — The Army is changing clothes.

Over the next year, America’s largest fighting force is swapping its camouflage pattern. The move is a quiet admission that the last uniform — a pixelated design that debuted in 2004 at a cost of $5 billion — was a colossal mistake.

Soldiers have roundly criticized the gray-green uniform for standing out almost everywhere it’s been worn. Industry insiders have called the financial mess surrounding the pattern a “fiasco.”

As Army researchers work furiously on a newer, better camouflage, it’s natural to ask what went wrong and how they’ll avoid the same missteps this time around. In a candid interview with The Daily, several of those researchers said Army brass interfered in the selection process during the last round, letting looks and politics get in the way of science.

“It got into political hands before the soldiers ever got the uniforms,” said Cheryl Stewardson, a textile technologist at the Army research center in Natick, Mass., where most of the armed forces camouflage patterns are made.

The researchers say that science is carrying the day this time, as they run four patterns through a rigorous battery of tests. The goal is to give soldiers different patterns suitable for different environments, plus a single neutral pattern — matching the whole family — to be used on more expensive body armor and other gear. The selection will involve hundreds of computer trials as well on-the-ground testing at half a dozen locations around the world.

But until the new pattern is put in the field — a move that’s still a year or more away — soldiers in Afghanistan have been given a temporary fix: a greenish, blended replacement called MultiCam. The changeover came only after several non-commissioned officers complained to late Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, and he took up the cause in 2009. Outside of Afghanistan, the rest of the Army is still stuck with the gray Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP. And some soldiers truly hate it.

“Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,” said an Army specialist who served two tours in Iraq, wearing UCP in Baghdad and the deserts outside Basra.  “The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.”...

bth: I remember meeting Moran at Natick.  I think he actually got fired if memory serves.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

US, Pakistan heading towards collision | DAWN.COM

US, Pakistan heading towards collision | DAWN.COM

... 
Secretary Baker noted that the relationship was in a ‘terrible’ shape, adding that this was “really sad, because for the duration of the Cold War they were our ally, and India was the ally of the Soviet Union, and now all of that is changed”.
Mr Baker disagreed with those who suggested severing ties to Pakistan.
“I think we need to maintain a relationship with them because they’re a nuclear power and because it’s really important that we not see nuclear conflagration in the subcontinent. And we don’t want to see any more proliferation than we’ve seen from Pakistan,” he said.
He suggested cutting off US aid to Pakistan to “get their attention” while maintaining a relationship with them.
Secretary Clinton observed that America’s relationship with Pakistan has been challenging for a long time.
“Some of it is of our own making,” she said, adding that she believed the US should have been more concerned about “what was going to happen to the Pakistanis” after the Soviet withdrawal from Pakistan.
“First of all, I completely agree it is not in our interests to cut off our relationship,” she said while explaining her approach. “It is in our interest to try to better direct and manage that relationship.”
She said there were several things that the US was now asking the Pakistanis to do: “Number one, they’ve got to do more about the safe havens inside their own country” because “the extremists have an ace in the hole. They just cross the border; they get direction and funding and fighters, and they go back across the border.”
She urged Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network as well as the LET, noting that the militants had already killed more than 30,000 Pakistanis.
“Secondly, they have to be willing to recognise that as we withdraw from Afghanistan, it is in their interest to have a strong, stable Afghan government” and they should stop “doing everything possible to try to undermine it.”
“And at the very least, they ought to stop double-dealing us,” said Secretary Baker. “Yeah, at the very least,” Secretary Clinton agreed.
“And they should release Dr Afridi,” she added.

-bth: this appears to me to be a fair outline of the evolving US position with regard to Pakistan

Asia Times Online :: Internal crisis shapes Putin's foreign policy

Asia Times Online :: Internal crisis shapes Putin's foreign policy

 The Moscow Center of Strategic Studies (CSS) - an influential think tank led by well-known economist, former parliamentarian and first deputy economics minister in Vladimir Putin's first government, Mikhail Dmitriev - has recently published a report about the ongoing political and economic crisis in Russia. According to sociological research conducted via focus groups, the vast majority of urban-based populations in all regions of Russia demand change.

The emerging middle class in Moscow and several other major cities is demanding an independent and non-corrupt judiciary and law enforcement, free speech, and political rights, while the less educated and lower earning masses are more concerned with economic issues, as well as the availability of social services.

Still, the protest agendas of the middle class and the broader Russian masses largely coincide: the corrupt police force and crony judicial system cause overall revulsion. Russians are fed up with Putin and his cohorts monopolizing political and economic power. There is a growing urge to see new actors with new ideas in power. The number of loyal "Putinites" in Russia is dramatically dwindling, while a critical mass of devoted anti-Putin activists has emerged primarily in Moscow.

The CSS report predicts that the internal political, social and economic crisis will increasingly influence Putin's foreign policy, foreseeing attempts to "compensate internal political failures with populist foreign policy actions." Russian foreign policy may turn into an appendix of internal political troubles, becoming "less realistic and increasingly indoctrinated".

Instead of pragmatically pursuing Russia's long-term national interests, Putin's Kremlin seems bent on pigheadedly confronting the United States on almost any global or regional issue, guessing that the Russian public will approve. The Kremlin is attempting to paint the pro-democracy movement in Russia as a Western (American) plot and part of a global anti-Russian conspiracy....

Gene Sharp: A dictator's worst nightmare - CNN.com

Gene Sharp: A dictator's worst nightmare - CNN.com


...What gives a government -- even a repressive regime -- the power to rule? The answer, he realized, was people's belief in its power. Even dictatorships require the cooperation and obedience of the people they rule to stay in charge.

So, he reasoned, if you can identify the sources of a government's power -- people working in civil service, police and judges, even the army -- then you know what a dictatorship depends on for its existence.

Once he'd worked that out, Sharp went back to his theories of nonviolent struggle: "What is the nature of this technique?" he asked himself. "What are its methods ... different kinds of strikes, protests, boycotts, hunger strikes ... How does it work? It may fail. If it fails, why? If it succeeds, why?"

Suddenly, he got it. If a dictatorship depends on the cooperation of people and institutions, then all you have to do is shrink that support.

That's when the light went on in Sharp's head. That is exactly what nonviolent struggle does. By its very nature, nonviolent struggle destroys governments, even brutal dictatorships, politically.

It is a weapon as potent as a bomb or a gun -- maybe more so....