27 February 2010

We’ll split America into 54 pieces

Playboy sends a 'lab rat' journalist to do waterboarding. It's an interesting five-minute watch.

Behind Taliban Lines
Excellent PBS Front Line piece by an Afghan[i?] journalist who embedded with a Hezb-e-Islam/Al Qaeda cell for 10 days. Thoughts:

• From around 37:30-38:15 there are some dead body images if you’re queasy.
• They SLEEP in their turbans…
• If capitalism is so bad, why are these fighters wearing store-bought sneakers?
• “We split Russia into 25 pieces, and God willing, now we’ll split America into 54 pieces.”
• You really have to admire their dedication not only to the cause, but to learning their religion and praying and such. But they’re sooo delusional!!!!! They actually believe all their propaganda!
• For being so dedicated to their cause, they’re a bunch of WHINERS.
• Wow…I watched this whole clip kinda sick to my stomach, knowing that the video would end with (an) American soldier(s) dying. It ended up being a providentially good ending for America this time, but this is just one op out of dozens a month in one small region out of the whole country.
• I guess not all of them aren’t completely into anarchy, eh? I love their handcuffs.
• This cameraman/reporter is an amazing guy. I don’t know if it’s courageous exactly, but it definitely takes some balls…yea, I might call him brave. I could not imagine doing that embed job…

Truth-squading the summit
I'm all about fact-finding and getting past the sizzle and subterfuge to find substance, so I liked this article.

Obama exaggerated. Boehner lied. Reid was incorrect. Ryan is wrong.

An army of partisan fact checkers bombarded the media through seven hours of the health care summit with such deep thoughts — replete with cherry-picked data — confirming the adage that there’s lies, damn lies and statistics.

Some of the jabs were dead on, but some were merely meant to back up partisan talking points. Still, there were plenty of factually challenged statements.

'Mitch the knife' eyes 2012 run

After months of Shermanesque denials, Indiana GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels’ admission that he’s now willing to consider a White House run has roused his long-standing, if unofficial, fan club.

Republican admirers from Washington, Indiana and elsewhere, hoping to encourage their favorite Hoosier, are out in force to make the case that a balding, blunt, unprepossessing, listed-at-5-foot-7 policy wonk would be a strong contender to take on President Barack Obama. Their shorthand is that he’s the un-Obama. If the country has soured on a charismatic orator who brought glamour but little executive experience to the presidency, the thinking goes, then Daniels could provide the antidote.

“Do we want a president that’s pretty, or do we want one who can get the job done?”

At 60, Daniels’s résumé is exhaustive: He’s a Princeton-educated former Senate chief of staff-turned political operative-turned think tank chief-turned Fortune 500 executive-turned White House budget director-turned two-term governor.

Wash. teacher killed outside school before classes
The stalking began with bursts of phone calls — 10 or 15 in a day, about once a year, from an old college acquaintance. Then, flowers and unwanted visits, an anti-harassment order, an arrest — and bail.

Jennifer Paulson, a 30-year-old special education teacher at a Tacoma elementary school, knew she was in danger this week when her alleged stalker was released from the Pierce County Jail, three days after she had him arrested. She started staying away from her home in an attempt to avoid him.

It didn't work. When she showed up for work Friday morning, he was already there — and had been waiting for hours, according to reports neighbors gave police. Paulson was shot more than once as she walked into the school. Her body lay near the base of a large evergreen tree with blood seeping from her mouth.
A Pierce County sheriff's deputy tracked down the suspected killer, Jed R. Waits, 30, of Ellensburg, outside a daycare about 10 miles away and killed him in a shootout.

26 February 2010

People of the world, unite and defeat the US aggressors

War is not only a practical necessity, it is also a theoretical necessity, an exigency of logic…That war should ever be banished from the world is a hope not only absurd, but profoundly immoral.
-Heinrich von Treitschke

The Maoist cult was sustained by the publication of the Little Red Book of quotations from Mao. The more militant have been longer remembered: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun; politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed; all reactionaries are paper tigers; people of the world, unite and defeat the US aggressors and all their running dogs.
-John McCormick, Comparative Politics in Transition

Now for a thumbnail view of the news I think is interesting:

US health debate stalls
Here's a nice little snapshot of the highlights of the healthcare debate. Intended for an international audience, it's a good intro to the topic if you haven't been following too closely.

I thought his remarks were funny (if not slightly classless), but I think McCain needs to shut up and move on. In other news, I like Obama's tie, and I can't help but thinking about the security ramifications of having the President, Vice President, and plenty of senior citizens in the same tiny office...

Al-Qaida leader in Yemen threatens new US attacks
Qasim al-Raimi, a top military commander for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, warned Americans in an article published in an online militant magazine that the group "will blow up the earth from below your feet."

"You have attacked us in the midst of our household, so wait for what will attack you in the midst of yours," al-Raimi said.

Al-Raimi claimed in the article that U.S. efforts have backfired, and only succeded in pushing more Yemenis into the militant fold. "You united us with our people, made our catastrophe one," he said.

Iranian rebel 'admits US links'
An alleged member of a Sunni Muslim group fighting the Iranian government has said in a televised confession that his group received help from the United States.

"They [Americans] said they would co-operate with us and will give me military equipment," Rigi said in Farsi in the prerecorded television statement.

"They also promised to give us a base along the border with Afghanistan near Iran."

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said...that accusations that Washington supported Jundallah or any other anti-goverment groups fighting in Iran were "nothing more than Iranian propaganda."

"Allegations that we played some role in creating or supporting Jundallah is just another false claim in a long list of ridiculous Iranian fabrications."

Ahmadinejad: Arab world will usher in new Mideast without Zionists

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that Arab nations will usher in a new Middle East without Zionists and without colonialists.

The Iranian president also said that "if the Zionist regime wants to repeat its past mistakes, this will constitute its demise and annihilation."

Ahmadinejad said Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon will all stand against Israel.

"(The Americans) want to dominate the region but they feel Iran and Syria are preventing that," Ahmadinejad said during a news conference with Assad. "We tell them that instead of interfering in the region's affairs, to pack their things and leave."

Ahmadinejad is also scheduled to meet senior officials from the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

Navy to allow women to serve aboard submarines
The Navy will soon permit female sailors to serve aboard submarines, removing one of the last barriers to women in the military serving equally alongside men.

The integration is likely to be phased in, with the first women serving on some subs perhaps within a year or so. Women might serve first on some of the larger submarines that are easier to reconfigure to accommodate them. Before women are assigned to a submarine, they must receive nuclear training, which can take up to a year, say military officials. The Navy isn't speaking about the plan until it planners determine how it will be implemented.

Russia’s Military Doctrine: New Dangers Appear
Aleksandr Khramchikhin, the Deputy Director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis, highlighted the potential for conflict on the Russian border, which had nothing to do with NATO, but was likely, if unleashed, to lead to a much wider war. Khramchikhin pointed to increased tensions between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He warned that neither Seoul nor Pyongyang, and neither Beijing nor Washington wanted to start a conflict, but the large arsenals and the heightened tension might lead to an uncontrolled escalation bringing in other powers.

US intervention on the side of South Korea would not fundamentally change that military balance, or bring the war to a rapid conclusion. US forces are currently overcommitted in other theaters and lack the strategic reserve to occupy the North. Khramchikhin characterized such a conflict as a catastrophe for everyone. Moreover, North Korea could make use of it nuclear arms delivered by short-range missiles and aircraft or as nuclear mines. Such an escalation would demand that China acted.

Qaddafi calls for jihad against Switzerland: Is it funny?
Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi has ratcheted up his campaign against Switzerland by calling for jihad, or holy war, against the European nation.

The British daily the Telegraph quoted Qaddafi after he gave a "rambling" address.

"Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against [the Prophet] Mohammad, and God and the Koran," he told a meeting in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

"The masses of Muslims must go to all airports in the Islamic world and prevent any Swiss plane landing, to all harbors and prevent any Swiss ships docking, inspect all shops and markets to stop any Swiss goods being sold."

Later in his address, Qaddafi distinguished his proposed holy struggle from Al-Qaeda-style terrorism, saying: "There is a big difference between terrorism and jihad which is a right to armed struggle."

The BBC reported that, in his speech, Qaddafi also slammed Switzerland's vote in November last year to ban minarets, or spires on Moslem mosques used for the call to prayer.

19 February 2010

Justice is the end of government.

If they fear you, they will respect you. If they love you, they might respect you. But if they don’t fear you, they’ll never love you or respect you and they don’t have to!
-Richard Nixon, Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms

There are probably as many reasons for committing terrorist acts as there are terrorists.
-David E. Long, The Anatomy of Terrorism

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.
-Publius/James Madison, Federalist No. 51

Russia to supply Iran with S-300 defense systems

Russia intends to fulfill a contract to supply S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran
Israel and the United States have repeatedly asked Russia to scrap a contract to sell Iran the truck-mounted S-300, which can shoot down hostile missiles or aircraft up to 150 km (90 miles) away.

Israel and the United States have repeatedly asked Russia to scrap a contract to sell Iran the truck-mounted S-300, which can shoot down hostile missiles or aircraft up to 150 km (90 miles) away.

"There is a contract to supply these systems to Iran, and we will fulfill it," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

The Jihadist Next Door
Hammami was every bit as Alabaman as his mother, a warm, plain-spoken woman who sprinkles her conversation with blandishments like “sugar” and “darlin’.” Brought up a Southern Baptist, Omar went to Bible camp as a boy and sang “Away in a Manger” on Christmas Eve. As a teenager, his passions veered between Shakespeare and Kurt Cobain, soccer and Nintendo.

Some 8,500 miles from Alabama, on the eastern edge of Africa, he has become a key figure in one of the world’s most ruthless Islamist insurgencies. That guerrilla army, known as the Shabab, is fighting to overthrow the fragile American-backed Somali government. The rebels are known for beheading political enemies, chopping off the hands of thieves and stoning women accused of adultery. With help from Al Qaeda, they have managed to turn Somalia into an ever more popular destination for jihadis from around the world.

03 February 2010

...A false humanity has restrained your arms and stopped your blows...

If a capitalist economy is subjected to increasing degrees of state control, a point (not precisely specificiable at this time) will be reached at which democratic governance becomes impossible.
-Peter Berger, The Capitalist Revolution, 1986

If…I nevertheless conclude that I believe that the welfare state…is really worth fighting for and even dying for as compared to any rival system, it is because, despite its imperfection in theory and practice, in the aggregate it provides more promise of preserving and enlarging human freedoms, temporal prosperity, the extinction of mass misery, and the dignity of man and his moral improvement than any other social system which has previously prevailed, which prevails elsewhere today or which outside Utopia, the mind of man has been able to provide a blueprint for.
-Abramovitz, 1981

Maritime piracy represents an area where the mixing of militant Islamic terrorism and crime can converge with potentially severe consequences for global military and economic security. Particularly alarming is the fact that criminals and terrorists…have the resources to commandeer lethal cargoes such as chemicals, gas, arms, and specialized dual-use equipment. A potential nightmare scenario for governments would be the hijacking and sinking of one or more ships in one of the worlds’ most important canals or narrow shipping lanes…The 500,000 ton ships that traverse these waterways carry a crew of only thirty and have no armed guards to repel raiding parties. A scuttled supertanker in one of these locations could create major economic disruptions.
-Thomas M. Sanderson, Transnational Terror and Organized Crime, 2004

Five or six hundred heads would have guaranteed your freedom and happiness but a false humanity has restrained your arms and stopped your blows. If you don’t strike now, millions of your brothers will die, your enemies will triumph and your blood will flood the streets. They’ll slit your throats without mercy and disembowel your wives. And their bloody hands will rip out your children’s entrails to erase your love of liberty forever.
-Jean-Paul Marat, 1790

Amusingly sad video - some conspiracy theorist guy convinces too many ignoramouses to sign a petition repealing the 'outdated' First Amendment.

The Euro Xenophobia continues - is this philosophically and morally ok? Is it a slippery slope? Is the potential endstate of this slippery slope desirable? Does this do anything to get at the root of the problem or does it exacerbate the problem and accomplish a few of 'their' objectives for them?

al Qaeda Attack In 3-6 Months May Be In Works - “The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11. It is that Al Qaeda is adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect,” Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee. Panetta also warned of the danger of extremists acting alone: “It’s the lone-wolf strategy that I think we have to pay attention to as the main threat to this country,” he said.