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Showing posts from February, 2010

Afghan army shows improvements in Marjah fight

LA Times:

The Afghan troops who supported the U.S. Marines in the battle to end Taliban control of this town in Helmand province showed marked improvement over last summer's performance in a similar fight but still need much more training, Marine commanders say.

Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the top Marine here, said that overall the Afghan battalions exceeded his expectations. Nicholson said he would give some Afghan units an A- or B+ but that others, particularly those with soldiers fresh from basic training, would get a C- or D.

The lead Afghan commander, Brig. Gen. Mahayoodin Ghoori, agreed with Nicholson's assessment. "We fought hard, we beat the terrorists, but we need more training, especially more training with heavy weapons," Ghoori said.

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The Marines are moving to boost Afghan training, by emphasizing combat leadership among the enlisted ranks, and more accurate use of M-16s. The project goes by the acronym TLSR: Transition of Leading Security Responsibility.

&q…

Lucky 13 in Chile quake

Telegraph:

When their 13th-floor apartment began to shake, Alberto Rozas pulled his 7-year-old daughter Fernanda into the bathroom doorway and waited for it to stop.But as their brand-new apartment building toppled like a felled tree, the pair plummeted, hugging each other all the way down.Mr Rozas had no idea which way was up until he looked through his apartment's shattered window and spotted light - "the light of the full moon".Rozas and his daughter, Fernanda, clambered up and to safety with nothing more than a few cuts, scrapes and bruises....
Apparently there were other survivors in the toppled building, although rescuers had to cut their way into their apartments to find them. They had a very fortunate ride down 13 floors without and elevator.

'Holy' hookers in Delhi

Times:

A self-styled Hindu holy man and a British Airways stewardess have been arrested in Delhi on suspicion of involvement in a multimillion-pound prostitution racket. Police said that Shiv Myra Dwivedi, a Hindu swami, used his temple in south Delhi as a front to provide as many as 200 prostitutes, including air hostesses and students, often to clients in five-star hotels. In his spiritual guise he claimed a following of more than 100,000 people, including leading politicians. Undercover officers arrested him, another alleged pimp and six alleged prostitutes including two air hostesses, one from BA and one from the Indian airline Jagson, on Friday evening, Delhi police said. The six women, aged between 19 and 30 and including an MBA student, each gave fake Indian names, apart from one identified only as “Ms Julie”. Delhi police did not specify their nationalities. BA told The Times that it was looking into the report.
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Corruption seems to have few limits in Delhi. T…

CIA bomber brags of duping Jordanians. US

Washington Post:

The suicide bomber behind the Dec. 30 attack on a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan claims in a posthumously released recording that he lured U.S. and Jordanian intelligence officers into a trap by sending them misleading information about terrorist targets as well as videotapes he made of senior al-Qaeda leaders. The bomber, a Jordanian physician named Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, also claims that he intended to kidnap only a single Jordanian intelligence officer, but then stumbled on an unexpected opportunity to attack a large group of Americans and their Jordanian allies at once. "It wasn't planned this way," Balawi says in an undated, 44-minute videotape released Sunday by as-Sahab, the media arm of al-Qaeda. He attributes the change to "the stupidity of Jordanian intelligence and the stupidity of American intelligence" services that invited him to Afghanistan to help set up a strike against al-Qaeda targets.
... In the new video, the 32-…

China's real estate bubble

Telegraph:

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... The sight of a "real" alpine village rising from the grimy industrial suburbs of Huairou outside Beijing provokes an increasingly common reaction when discussing China's property market: "You've got to be kidding me, right?" With its alpine clock tower soaring 200ft into the murk emitted by nearby chimneys, the "Spring Legend" development offers a Disney-style version of a lifestyle that the residents of Huairou and Beijing can realistically aspire to.
"The air is so fresh it penetrates your heart," waxes the sales brochure, a claim that requires a suspension of belief equally demanded by Spring Legend's ersatz palm trees, faux red English phone boxes and plant pots brimming with plastic alpine flowers. Making sense of such developments, along with the forests of empty new office blocks in Beijing and the tripling of land prices in some Chinese cities over the last 12 months, is …

Pakistan Taliban routed?

Times:

Significant leaders of the Pakistani Taleban have been killed or captured in an onslaught of frontier ground and air attacks, a Pakistani general has told The Times. “The militant command and control centres and their caches have been dismantled or captured,” said Major-General Tariq Khan, one of the country’s most experienced commanders in the frontier war with the Taleban. “The kind of hits the leadership has taken, the casualties they have taken, the TTP [Pakistani Taleban] is no longer significant,” he said. “It has ended as a cohesive force. It doesn’t exist any more as an umbrella organisation that can influence militancy anywhere.” The claims come at a time of improved military co-operation between America and Pakistan, in which US drones have killed a number of key Pakistani Taleban commanders, and Pakistani security agents have arrested at least four senior Afghan Taleban leaders over the past month. It was no coincidence that two US special forces soldie…

Did Enron exec get a fair trail?

NY Times:

When Enron collapsed in 2001, thousands of employees at its Houston headquarters lost their jobs and savings, and the city’s economy reeled. Much of the public’s anger was directed at Jeffrey K. Skilling, the company’s former chief executive.

A Houston Chronicle column about his trial on fraud charges was headlined “Your Tar and Feathers Ready? Mine Are.” A rap song appeared called “Drop the S Off Skilling.” And potential jurors in Mr. Skilling’s trial told the court that he was “a high-class crook” who “should be reduced to having to beg on the corner and live under a bridge.” The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday on whether Mr. Skilling’s conviction should be overturned because the prejudice against him in Houston was so strong and pervasive that he could not receive a fair trial. It has been two decades since the Supreme Court has considered a major change-of-venue case, and its jurisprudence is still rooted in decisions based on small communities dominated by a s…

What is needed to fight the cyber war

Michael McConnell:

The United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing. It's that simple. As the most wired nation on Earth, we offer the most targets of significance, yet our cyber-defenses are woefully lacking.

The problem is not one of resources; even in our current fiscal straits, we can afford to upgrade our defenses. The problem is that we lack a cohesive strategy to meet this challenge. The stakes are enormous. To the extent that the sprawling U.S. economy inhabits a common physical space, it is in our communications networks. If an enemy disrupted our financial and accounting transactions, our equities and bond markets or our retail commerce -- or created confusion about the legitimacy of those transactions -- chaos would result. Our power grids, air and ground transportation, telecommunications, and water-filtration systems are in jeopardy as well. These battles are not hypothetical. Google's networks were hacked in an attack that began in December and …

Easy for her to say

From Fox News:

Pelosi: Support Health Bill, Even If It Means Your Job
Of course it will probably mean she want be speaker either. I think they should oppose it because it is a bad bill. Pelosi's problem is that she does not trust the voters.

Whither the Air Force?

Washington Post:

The question, scrawled on a Pentagon whiteboard last fall, captured the strange and difficult moment facing the Air Force.

"Why does the country need an independent Air Force?" the senior civilian assistant to Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the service's chief of staff, had written. For the first time in the 62-year history of the Air Force, the answer isn't entirely clear. The Air Force's identity crisis is one of many ways that a decade of intense and unrelenting combat is reshaping the U.S. military and redefining the American way of war. The battle against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq has created an insatiable demand for the once-lowly drone, elevating the importance of the officers who fly them. These new earthbound aviators are redefining what it means to be a modern air warrior and forcing an emotional debate within the Air Force over the very meaning of valor in combat. Since its founding, the Air Force has existed primarily to support its…

The Gore delusion

Al Gore has coming out of hiding to suggest that those who have discovered the fraud surrounding claims of "climate change" are just wanting to wish the problem away. Where did he get such an idea. The "science" of climate change has been tested and found wanting. It is even more revealing because people like him have been in denial about the inadequacies of the science to such an extent they would not even give skeptics a forum.

Then there is the arrogance he displays about the exploration for oil.

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Of course, we would still need to deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil....

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But it is the environmental movement that is responsible for strangling the domestic production of oil and gas that causes us to have to rely on foreign producers. …

Tea Parties--It is about the spending

NY Times:

Keli Carender has a pierced nose, performs improv on weekends and lives here in a neighborhood with more Mexican grocers than coffeehouses. You might mistake her for the kind of young person whose vote powered President Obama to the White House. You probably would not think of her as a Tea Party type.

But leaders of the Tea Party movement credit her with being the first. A year ago, frustrated that every time she called her senators to urge them to vote against the $787 billion stimulus bill their mailboxes were full, and tired of wearing out the ear of her Obama-voting fianc√©, Ms. Carender decided to hold a protest against what she called the “porkulus.” “I basically thought to myself: ‘I have two courses. I can give up, go home, crawl into bed and be really depressed and let it happen,’ ” she said this month while driving home from a protest at the State Capitol in Olympia. “Or I can do something different, and I can find a new avenue to have my voice get out.” This wee…

Hurt Locker does not work for Iraq vets

Lindsay Wise, Houston Chronicle:

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Everybody seems to love this movie. Except for Iraq war veterans. A lot of them hate it.This week, Newsweek.com published a critical essay about The Hurt Locker by Iraq war veteran Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the non-profit group, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:... those of us who have served in the military couldn't help but be distracted by a litany of inaccuracies that reveal not only a lack of research, but ultimately respect for the American military. In the military, precision is critical. Take, for instance, the role of Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) units, a heroic and prestigious group, and the focus of the film. EOD is a specialized job in the military that does one thing exceptionally well: disposing of bombs. Members do not generally patrol looking for bad guys, kick in doors, or execute sniper missions. Yet there is a whole scene in The Hurt Locker when the two EOD characters clear a building to find a bomb in…

The warmist whine

Christopher Booker:

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The chief defence offered by the warmists to all those revelations centred on the IPCC's last 2007 report is that they were only a few marginal mistakes scattered through a vast, 3,000-page document. OK, they say, it might have been wrong to predict that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035; that global warming was about to destroy 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest and cut African crop yields by 50 per cent; that sea levels were rising dangerously; that hurricanes, droughts and other "extreme weather events" were getting worse. These were a handful of isolated errors in a massive report; behind them the mighty edifice of global warming orthodoxy remains unscathed. The "science is settled", the "consensus" is intact.

But this completely misses the point. Put the errors together and it can be seen that one after another they tick off all the central, iconic issues of the entire global war…

Are Brit cops bonkers?

From the Daily Mail on Sunday:

Father stopped from taking this picture of his son, 4, on children's train ride 'in case he was a paedophile'
It is hard to imagine a more innocent picture of a boy on a train ride, unless you think a pedophile father would take his boy to a public place to exploit him--not.

Ron Paul draws opposition in Tuesday primary

Politico:

Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-oriented Republican whose 2008 presidential run provided kindling for the Tea Party movement, suddenly finds himself dealing with the blowback: a handful of Tea Party-inspired candidates are seeking to dislodge him in Tuesday’s Texas Republican primary. It’s an unusual turn of events for a veteran congressman who has reached stardom in conservative populist circles and who just last week emerged as the victor of the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Yet despite his solid anti-establishment credentials and non-conformist views, Paul finds himself under siege from three Republicans who are embracing many of the themes that have defined Paul’s career. At the heart of the resistance is the notion that the 10-term Paul has gone Washington, abandoning his constituents as he pursues his white whale—the presidency. “To be honest, I was surprised when these guys started coming out of the woodwork,” said Fort Bend …

Rangel or the Swamp?

David Paul Kuhn:

Draining swamps is not so popular today. It's bad ecology.We could understand Nancy Pelosi's defense of Charlie Rangel this way. It's an issue of conservation. I've heard those San Francisco liberals love the environment. Forget promises to "drain the swamp" during the 2006 campaign. She wants to conserve her ally's job.Don't get Pelosi wrong. Surely, if a powerful House member "has proven himself to be ethically unfit" we know "the burden" indeed "falls upon" his party to oust him. In such a case, party leaders would obviously ask: "Do they want to remove the ethical cloud that hangs over the Capitol?"So Pelosi explained in October 2004. The subject was Tom DeLay. The House ethics committee had admonished the Republican majority leader. DeLay used the Federal Aviation Administration to track Democratic state rivals. He hosted a fundraiser with energy lobbyists while energy legislation was under …

5 Ft. Jackson Muslim soldiers removed from duty

McClatchy:

A South Carolina congressman said Friday that five Muslim soldiers at Fort Jackson had been removed from active duty, and four of them discharged from the Army , in connection with an ongoing probe into alleged threats to poison food at the large South Carolina base. Republican Rep. Joe Wilson , who sits on the House Armed Services Committee , said the soldiers' laptops had been seized and were being analyzed. Congressional officials with knowledge of the case said cell phones and Arabic writings had been confiscated as well. In his first public comments on the case, Wilson said FBI forensics experts were working with the Army's Criminal Investigation Division in the probe. "The initial investigation confirmed that (the five soldiers) had not made any effort to poison food and that allegations about their disloyalty were inaccurate," Wilson told McClatchy . "There was further investigation. I have not received any word of it being over…

Feminism ='s liberalism

Beverley McPhail complains about Sarah Palin's feminist credentials in a Houston Chronicle op-ed. Depite the fact that she is a female success story, McPhail says she is not a feminist success story. This is primarily because McPhail equates feminism to liberalism and her complaints about Sarah Palin is that she is not a liberal. Of course, if she were, she would have no appeal to conservative voters.

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... Every one of her views stood in stark contrast to a progressive, feminist agenda. Palin is anti-choice and anti-comprehensive sexuality education, and was against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

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Progressives are the fascist side of liberal control freak government who continually push an anti freedom agenda. Wow, how did you like that insult exchange?

I think McPhail misstates Palin position to say she is anti choice or anti comprehensive sex ed. She strongly favors choosing life and has made that her personal choice. People like McPhail don't like the choice Sar…

Military reopens access to social media sites

Bloomberg/BusienssWeek:

The Pentagon reversed a directive that has blocked access from U.S. military computers to about 10 social-networking sites, such as YouTube and MySpace. Troops will have unrestricted access to these and other sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, if security precautions are applied and ethical guidelines are followed, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said yesterday in announcing the new policy....
I think this will be a moral booster and also help recruit new troops.

Control freak energy policy takes another tack

Washington Post:

Three key senators are engaged in a radical behind-the-scenes overhaul of climate legislation, preparing to jettison the broad "cap-and-trade" approach that has defined the legislative debate for close to a decade. The sharp change of direction demonstrates the extent to which the cap-and-trade strategy -- allowing facilities to buy and sell pollution credits in order to meet a national limit on greenhouse gas emissions -- has become political poison. In a private meeting with several environmental leaders on Wednesday, according to participants, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), declared, "Cap-and-trade is dead." Graham and Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) have worked for months to develop an alternative to cap-and-trade, which the House approved eight months ago. They plan to introduce legislation next month that would apply different carbon controls to individual sectors of the economy instead of setting a national…

Texas wasting a lot of money on Democrats this year

Houston Chronicle:

Texas is considered a solidly Republican state by political professionals and pundits alike — but don't tell that to Democrats on Capitol Hill.A Houston Chronicle analysis of congressional campaign contributions in the 2010 election season found that Texans are shipping millions of dollars to out-of-state candidates this year, and most of the recipients are Democrats.Eight of the top 10 non-Texas recipients of Lone Star State political money are Democrats. Overall, Democrats are receiving about 60 percent of the $6,823,766 in Texas money headed to Senate and House candidates in other states, according to Federal Election Commission filings through Feb. 10. Houston, the top political exporter, sends about two-thirds of its campaign cash to Democrats.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is trailing four Republicans in Nevada polls, leads the list with $585,098 in Lone Star dollars, followed by Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln, who is fighting for her political l…

Major earthquake hits Chile

NY Times:

A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, shaking the capital of Santiago for 90 seconds and sending tsunami warnings from Chile to Ecuador.

Chile's TVN cable news channel was reporting 78 deaths, with the toll expected to rise. The quake downed buildings and houses in Santiago and knocked out a major bridge connecting the northern and southern sections of the country. It struck at 3:34 a.m. local time and was centered about 200 miles southwest of Santiago, at a depth of 22 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The epicenter was some 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live. Phone lines were down in Concepcion as of 7:30 a.m. and no reports were coming out of that area. The quake in Chile was 1,000 times more powerful than the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that caused widespread damage in Haiti on Jan 12, killing at least 230,000, earthquake experts reported on CNN International. The U.S. Geolog…

Iran running out of storage for nuke fuel?

NY Times:

When Iran was caught last September building a secret, underground nuclear enrichment plant at a military base near the city of Qum, the country’s leaders insisted they had no other choice. With its nuclear facilities under constant threat of attack, they said, only a fool would leave them out in the open.

So imagine the surprise of international inspectors almost two weeks ago when they watched as Iran moved nearly its entire stockpile of low-enriched nuclear fuel to an above-ground plant. It was as if, one official noted, a bull’s-eye had been painted on it. Why take such a huge risk? That mystery is the subject of fervent debate among many who are trying to decode Iran’s intentions. The theories run from the bizarre to the mundane: Under one, Iran is actually taunting the Israelis to strike first. Under another, it is simply escalating the confrontation with the West to win further concessions in negotiations. The simplest explanation, and the one that the Obama adminis…

Taliban on the run in Helmand

Telegraph:

It is only a few days since the mud-walled fort situated in the heart of Helmand's lush river valley was captured from the Taliban, but the local Afghan tribal leaders are already busy making plans for the future.For years the farmers who tend the neatly arranged rows of crops along the river banks have been forced to endure the Taliban's oppressive rule. Few dared challenge the Taliban regime after a group of Afghans who had objected to the Taliban's strict implementation of Islamic law were hanged from a tree. After that the villagers knew better than to confront their Taliban overlords.But now the Taliban have been driven from their primitive citadel, and the tribal chiefs have crowded into the dusty compound to thank the British troops who had masterminded their liberation."The British are our friends. They have given us our lives back," explains one farmer. "We now have the chance to make a better life for ourselves."...Taken by surprise,…

Soros et.al. attacking Euro?

Daily Mail:

A secretive group of Wall Street hedge fund bosses are said to be behind a plot to cash in on the decline of the euro. Representatives of George Soros's investment business were among an all-star line up of Wall Street investors at an 'ideas dinner' at a private townhouse in Manhattan, according to reports. A spokesman for Soros Fund Management said the legendary investor did not attend the dinner on February 8, but did not deny that his firm was represented. At the dinner, the speculators are said to have argued that the euro is likely to plunge in value to parity with the dollar. The single currency has been under enormous pressure because of Greece's debt crisis, plus financial worries in Portugal, Italy, Spain and Ireland. But, it has also struggled because hedge funds have been placing huge bets on the currency's decline, which could make the speculators hundreds of millions of pounds. ...
This is also going to create a problem for many of the drug…

Mossad gets rush of volunteers after Dubai story

Times:

Would you be prepared to cross-dress? And kill a guest in an adjacent hotel room? If the answer to these questions is a resounding “yes”, and you can also act, enjoy luxury international travel with a twist and can carry off a convincing Irish or Australian accent, then the job could be yours. The Israeli spy agency Mossad may be the target of international reproach since it allegedly killed the Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel this month, but at home emerging details of the operation have generated Mossad mania. It has never been more popular in Israel, with stores selling out of Mossad memorabilia and its official website reporting a soaring number of visitors interested in applying to become agents. “Mossad has been restored to its glory days,” said Ilan Mizrahi, a former deputy director of the agency, which is located in the affluent beach town of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.
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Dubai has turned the Israeli intelligence agency into a group of hero…

Danish paper apologizes for exploding headress

Independent:

A Danish newspaper apologised yesterday for offending Muslims by reprinting a cartoon of the Prophet Mohamed with a bomb-shaped turban, rekindling a heated debate about the limits of freedom of speech.The Danish daily Politiken said its apology was part of a settlement with a Saudi lawyer representing eight Muslim groups in the Middle East and Australia. It drew strong criticism from the Danish media, which had stood united in rejecting calls to apologise for 12 cartoons that sparked fierce protests in the Muslim world four years ago.Lars Loekke Rasmussen, the Prime Minister, expressed surprise at Politiken's move, saying he was worried that Danish media were no longer "standing shoulder to shoulder" on the issue.Politiken said it did not mean to offend Muslims in Denmark or elsewhere when it reprinted one of the most controversial cartoons, showing Mohamed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse. Islamic law opposes any depiction of the prophet, …

Brits contiue to be roiled by discomfort of terrorist

The Guardian goes on and on and on about the poor old alleged dirty bomber who was caught by the US before he could do his alleged dirty deed and was denied sleep like a college student preparing for finals in an attempt to gather information about other plots. The mauldalin circus seems to never end. I do not feel the least bit sorry for him. He should have been kept at Gitmo to begin with. Allowing the Brits to wallow in their pity party for him was a mistake.

Texas Governor's race as seen from Washington

Dan Balz of the Washington Post looks at the difficulties Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is having gaining traction in her primary campaign against Gov. Rick Perry. I think it is actually a pretty fair report on both. He notes that Sen. Hutchison has the endorsements of most of the GOP heavy weights, Other than Sarah Palin who endorsed Gov. Perry. She also has all the major newspaper endorsements. But as the latest polls show Perry closing in on 50 percent, those endorsements do not look that important. As I have noted before, they just do not have that big an impact when both candidates are so well known. The election is Tuesday.

Used dentures argument for rationed health care?

At the Obama health care summit yesterday, Rep. Louise Slaughter had the sob story of someone who was wearing her dead sisters dentures. While it is sad that poor teeth run in that family, I don't believe that insurance/health care reform will include dental coverage too. Is slaughter suggesting we need to expand the coverage even further?

A House in disarray

Ed Morrissey:

Democrats in the House appear to have started falling apart following a year of frustration and lost opportunities. Jonathan Allen reports on three events that would have taxed leadership had they happened individually. Coming as they did all on one day, the Politico reporter wonders whether Nancy Pelosi has lost her grip on her divided caucus, and whether the House will get any work done this year:Shortly after dinnertime, New York Democrat Charlie Rangel emerged from his private hideaway after news broke that he would be admonished by the House ethics committee.Yet reporters in the Capitol rushed right past Rangel to ask House Democratic leaders about a critical intelligence bill that had just been pulled over a torture provision. The language had been inserted in defiance of leadership by House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).At the same time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was slated to meet with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus to tr…

A clueless foreign policy

James Corum:

The Bush administration got a lot of things wrong – but at least they usually had some idea of who America’s adversaries were and who America’s friends were. For example, Bush’s policy of maintaining the special relationship with Britain was a simple recognition of the close bonds of alliance, friendship and interests that the British and Americans have had since World War I.In contrast, Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are apparently clueless about some of the most basic aspects of foreign policy: supporting one’s friends and fencing in one’s adversaries. The declaration of neutrality on the issue of the sovereignty of the Falklands issued by the US State Department is clear proof of the uselessness of the Obama administration.In the grand scheme of things it makes little sense for America to give moral support to the Kirchner government in Argentina. Kirchner is no friend of the US and Kirchner’s government is in deep domestic trouble for its gross misman…

How the Democrats are juggling the books on health care costs of their legislation

Paul Ryan is one of the more articulate spokesman in explaining the gimmicks used to pretend there are savings in these bills.

Democrats' dishonest health care agreement ploy

Opinion Journal:

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It's as if the last year didn't happen. Only minutes into the discussion, it became clear the Democratic strategy was to portray this debate as somehow taking place between the 49 yard lines. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus chimed in that "The main point is, we basically agree."Yet the reality is that there is a vast philosophical and policy gulf on health care in Washington. Everyone agrees there are severe problems in the health-care markets. The disagreement is over solutions.The morning was dominated by an argument over whether ObamaCare would lower insurance costs, and the exchange was telling. Republicans, led by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, rightly said that premiums would increase, while the President disagreed. "This is an example of where we've got to get our facts straight," he said, in keeping with his strategy of depicting any disagreement as factually challenged or politically motivated.One fact is that the Cong…

Democrats try to criminalize tough interrogations

Eli Lake:

The House Democratic leadership stopped a vote Thursday night on the $50 billion classified intelligence budget after Republicans mounted a campaign against one of its provisions to ban degrading treatment of detainees and some moderate Democrats indicated they would not vote for the bill. The Republican lawmakers, led by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, opposed what they saw as backdoor legislation that would impose fines and prison terms on intelligence officers who abuse captured terrorism suspects. A Democratic House aide told The Washington Times that the leadership supported the amendment and urged the House Rules Committee to place it in a slate of provisions to the bill known as a managers amendment. Courtney Littig, a spokeswoman for the House intelligence committee said, "To my knowledge the first time we learned of the McDermott amendment was when we received copies of the amendments from the Rules Committee [Wednesday] afternoon." Rep. Jim McDer…

A Boxer rebellion in California

Roger L. Simon:

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Of course, it’s more than an unpleasant personality that makes me react so strongly to Boxer (we’re none of us perfect in that regard, right?). It’s also her uncanny ability to mix willful ignorance and guilt-free dishonesty. That combination was on display at Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs and at which Senator Inhofe made an interesting minority report. At that meeting, according to Pajamas Media’s own Charlie Martin, Boxer and the EPA’s Lisa Jackson “threw the IPCC under the bus,” ostensibly by denying they had been influenced by that UN organization, its officers like Rajendra Pachauri or other tarnished foreign sources (the East Anglia CRU) in their conclusions about climate and AGW. (Boxer: “In my opening statement, I didn’t quote one international scientist or IPCC report. … We are quoting the American scientific community here.”)Boxer lied.According to the perspicacious climatequotes.com, “Barbara Boxer…

Americans oppose Dem health care after failure of summit

Gallup:

Americans are skeptical that lawmakers will agree on a new healthcare bill at Thursday's bipartisan healthcare summit in Washington, D.C. If an agreement is not reached, Americans by a 49% to 42% margin oppose rather than favor Congress passing a healthcare bill similar to the one proposed by President Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate. By a larger 52% to 39% margin, Americans also oppose the Democrats in the Senate using a reconciliation procedure to avoid a possible Republican filibuster and pass a bill by a simple majority vote.

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The Democrats did not really change any minds and Obama did not look like a fair arbiter of the debate. Most of the times when he challenged Republicans he was just flat wrong. Cong. Ryan and Sen. Alexander demonstrated that on more than one occasion as did Sen. McCain.

While this poll shows Americans opposing the Democrat push on health care, it probably understates the opposition, because the passion by a great margin is on the si…

Side effects?

Charles Krauthammer:

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Consider the oddity of those drug commercials on television. Fifteen seconds of the purported therapeutic effort, followed by about 45 seconds of a rapidly muttered list of horrific possible side effects. When the ad is over, I can't remember a thing about what the pill is supposed to do, except perhaps cause nausea, liver damage, projectile vomiting, a nasty rash, a four-hour erection and sudden death.

Sudden death is my favorite because there is something comical about it being a side effect. What exactly is the main effect in that case? Relief from abdominal bloating?

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There is a stop smoking drug ad, that by the time they finish with the side effects including suicide you wonder why someone might not opt for a much slower death from smoking. As for the four hour erection, I don't think I have ever heard a man or a woman complain about such an effect. I have heard some say to bring it on after hearing the ad.

Rate Debate

Sen. Alexander wins this one.

Bullet proof breast implants saves life

Telegraph:

Lydia Carranza was working in the office of a dentist in Beverly Hills, California when a gunman ran in and opened fire.He aimed the weapon directly at her heart but one of her silicone implants took the force of the blow, stopping bullet fragments from reaching her vital organs.The gunman had gone to the dental office looking for his wife, who also worked there. She was shot and killed in the attack. Mrs Carranza was sitting a few feet away when the gunman turned on her."She's just one lucky woman," surgeon Dr Ashkan Ghavami told the Los Angeles Times. "The bullet fragments were millimetres from her heart and her vital organs. Had she not had the implant, she might not be alive today."...
Who knew that "D" cup implants could save a life? Maybe they should be covered by Obama care for everyone who is at risk of being shot by a deranged killer.

Don't they know?

Half of Taliban leadership now under arrest in Pakistan

Christian Science Monitor:

Pakistan has arrested nearly half of the Afghanistan Taliban’s leadership in recent days, Pakistani officials told the Monitor Wednesday, dealing what could be a crucial blow to the insurgent movement.

In total, seven of the insurgent group’s 15-member leadership council, thought to be based in Quetta, Pakistan, including the head of military operations, have been apprehended in the past week, according to Pakistani intelligence officials. Western and Pakistani media had previously reported the arrest of three of the 15, but this is the first confirmation of the wider scale of the Pakistan crackdown on the Taliban leadership, something the US has sought.“This really hurts the Taliban in the short run,” says Wahid Muzjda, a former Taliban official turned political analyst, based in Kabul. Whether it will have an effect in the long run will depend on what kind of new leaders take the reins, he says.
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The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Pakistan has offere…

The new Israeli drone's role in Iran attack

Popular Mechanics:

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Working from high altitudes, the Eitan will likely be used to provide prestrike information on targets, to eavesdrop on electronic communications and to send battle damage assessments back after an attack. It will also undoubtably be used to monitor any retaliation for the airstrike—seeking rocket launches and eavesdropping on Iran. The onboard power required to electronically jam radar and communications equipment is not in the Eitan, Israeli defense industry officials told the trade journal Defense News. But the ability to carry so much weight opens up questions about the drones' ability to conduct long-range, high-risk bombing missions on their own.

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While the done has an ability to fly a payload of ordinance, it would probably not be enough to penetrate the deeply buried nuclear sites of Iran. That will take a much bigger bomb. Israel also has missile carrying subs that could also be used in an attack. I question whether Israel has the ca…

Texas A&M develops vaccines from plants?

Danger Room:

The Pentagon’s after a better way to strike back against infectious diseases and bio-threats. Now, a team at Texas A&M may have come up with a way to turn tobacco plants into vaccine-making machines.Darpa, the military’s risk-taking research agency, is investing $40 million into the Texas Plant-Expressed Vaccine Consortium, which will test the tobacco-based method and then offer up 10 million doses of H1N1 vaccines. Once the process has been vetted, the researchers anticipate a scalability that could yield 100 million vaccine doses per month.Plant-based vaccine production has been in the workings for years now, including the successful creation of edible bananas that protect against the Norwalk virus. Last summer, Darpa requested proposals for plant-based options that would rapidly yield protective antigens for the creation of potent vaccines. Tobacco is a particularly good option, because it’s cheap and grows quickly — yielding vaccines in weeks, rather than the sever…