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Showing posts from January, 2010

Standing up to China

NY Times:

For the past year, China has adopted an increasingly muscular position toward the United States, berating American officials for the global economic crisis, stage-managing President Obama’s visit to China in November, refusing to back a tougher climate change agreement in Copenhagen and standing fast against American demands for tough new Security Council sanctions against Iran.

Now, the Obama administration has started to push back. In announcing an arms sales package to Taiwan worth $6 billion on Friday, the United States leveled a direct strike at the heart of the most sensitive diplomatic issue between the two countries since America affirmed the “one China” policy in 1972. The arms package was doubly infuriating to Beijing coming so soon after the Bush administration announced a similar arms package for Taiwan in 2008, and right as tensions were easingsomewhat in Beijing and Taipei’s own relations. China’s immediate, and outraged, reaction — cancellation of some military …

'Spies' behind climate email hacking?

Independent:

A highly sophisticated hacking operation that led to the leaking of hundreds of emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia was probably carried out by a foreign intelligence agency, according to the Government's former chief scientist. Sir David King, who was Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser for seven years until 2007, said that the hacking and selective leaking of the unit's emails, going back 13 years, bore all the hallmarks of a co-ordinated intelligence operation – especially given their release just before the Copenhagen climate conference in December. The emails were stolen from a backup computer server used by the University of East Anglia. They contained private discussions between climate scientists that have embarrassed those involved, particularly Professor Phil Jones, who has stepped down from his post as head of the unit pending an independent inquiry into whether there is any evidence of scientific misconduct. He is …

Afghan tank graveyard

The scrape metal is going to the Chinese.

Marines assualt breacher vehicle ready thwart Taliban IED strategy

LA Times:

Weighing 70 tons, traveling up to 45 mph and possessed of a smash-mouth name, the Assault Breacher Vehicle is the Marine Corps' latest answer to a perennial problem of offensive warfare: how to push through the barriers and booby traps of an enemy's outer defenses.

Over the decades, Marines have used various strategies to breach defenses, involving heavy vehicles or, in some cases, sending Marine engineers into minefields to set, by hand, line charges loaded with explosives.

"Breaching is always the hardest part of an assault," said Sgt. Carl Hewett, a breacher operator stationed here.

In the 1990s, the U.S. Army decided it could not afford to continue developing such a complicated, maintenance-heavy vehicle. But the Marine Corps persisted -- funding the development and testing from its own discretionary budget funds.

In December, the 42-foot-long assault breacher was used in combat for the first time, as Marines pushed into a Taliban stronghold called Now Zad i…

No more Mr. nice President?

Doyle McManus:

...

In a conversation with journalists, Obama's chief political strategist, David Axelrod, was blunt about what Republicans can expect if they don't find a way to compromise.

"We are going to very visibly seek their support moving forward, and we will shine a bright light on them when they don't," he said. "If they want to block everything . . . they will be held to account."

Axelrod accused the GOP of "rooting for failure."

"They made a decision they were going to sit it out and hope that we failed -- that the country failed," he said.

Until now, he suggested, Obama has been too gentle. "They didn't pay enough of a price for what was a determined strategy not to work with us," he said.

Now, "they either work with us or they have to pay the price for working against us."

...
Axelrod appears to be out of touch. This strategy is like throwing Ber Rabbit in the brier patch. It will be like a badge of hon…

Obama no longer an asset for Democrats

Politico:

As buoyant Republicans devise their game plan for the 2010 campaign, party officials are counting on a boost from an unlikely source – President Obama. A tactic that would have seemed far-fetched a year ago, when the new president was sworn in with a 67 percent job approval rating, is now emerging as a key component of the GOP strategy: Tie Democratic opponents to Obama and make them answer for some of the unpopular policies associated with the chief executive. GOP strategists gathered here for the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting believe that now that he's fallen below 50 percent in the venerable Gallup poll, Obama will be an asset to GOP candidates, particularly in conservative or swing states. The challenge will be to link Democrats with the administration on such issues as spending, bailouts, healthcare and cap-and-trade while not personally attacking Obama, who remains personally well-liked even as his standing erodes. So, at least in purple states o…

Hellfire for treason?

LA Times:

The CIA sequence for a Predator strike ends with a missile but begins with a memo. Usually no more than two or three pages long, it bears the name of a suspected terrorist, the latest intelligence on his activities, and a case for why he should be added to a list of people the agency is trying to kill.

The list typically contains about two dozen names, a number that expands each time a new memo is signed by CIA executives on the seventh floor at agency headquarters, and contracts as targets thousands of miles away, in places including Pakistan and Yemen, seem to spontaneously explode.

No U.S. citizen has ever been on the CIA's target list, which mainly names Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, according to current and former U.S. officials. But that is expected to change as CIA analysts compile a case against a Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico but now resides in Yemen.

Anwar al Awlaki poses a dilemma for U.S. counter-terrorism officials. He is a U.S. citizen…

Obama's inept performance

Thomas McClanahan:

What happened to the bright dreams, the hope and change? A year ago, fate handed President Obama one of the most tantalizing political opportunities in history.His party enjoyed a blowout election. The Republicans were leaderless and devoid of ideas. The Democrats had hefty majorities in both houses of Congress. Obama had stratospheric approval ratings and the support of a nation profoundly fearful of the future.And then he threw it all away. He outsourced chunks of his job to a left-wing congressional leadership that has learned nothing and forgotten nothing for the past 35 years.What came next was one appalling legislative blob after another: the stimulus package that hasn’t stimulated, the cap-and-trade monster, the health care power-grab.When Obama assumed office, he was still something of an enigma. Many asked: Who is this guy? Well, now we know a lot more. The bottom line: He isn’t a good politician. Politics is an art, and Obama’s basic competence is highly su…

Dem, GOP deficit comparisons

The Hill:

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who got President Barack Obama a bit miffed during the question-and-answer session after his address to the House GOP retreat Friday, fired back Saturday evening after the conclusion of the Baltimore conference.
Hensarling, in criticizing government spending, told Obama that the yearly deficits Democrats complained about under George W. Bush had now become "monthly" deficits in lengthy remarks that clearly frustrated the president. (Watch the video here)

"Jim, I know there's a question in there somewhere, because you're making a whole bunch of assertions, half of which I disagree with, and I'm having to sit here listening to them. At some point I know you're going to let me answer," said Obama, who called the congressman "Jim" three times even after being initially corrected by Jeb."With all due respect, I've got take this last question as an example of how it's very hard to have the kind …

Obama holds to liberal side, thinks he is in middle

Fred Barnes:

President Obama’s greatest need is to escape the ideological grip of congressional Democrats and the liberal base of the Democratic party (they’re one and the same). But he either doesn’t recognize this or, as a conventional liberal himself, isn’t so inclined. This self-inflicted difficulty has put Obama in worse political straits than President Clinton faced after the Republican landslide of 1994.Certainly there was nothing in Obama’s State of the Union address last week to indicate he understands the fix he’s in or has devised a credible way to get out of it. His message, though he didn’t put it in quite these words, was that he’d rather fight for unpopular liberal policies than switch to broadly appealing centrist ones. A bad omen for Obama and Democrats was the pleased-as-punch response of Capitol Hill’s top Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It makes my job a little easier than if he were moving to the middle and picking up people,” McConnell says. “…

Washington state in play for GOP?

McClatchy:

In 1994, Washington state was ground zero for a Republican revolution that gave the GOP control of Congress for a dozen years.The state's congressional delegation went from 8-1 Democratic to 7-2 Republican, and among those who lost was Democratic Rep. Tom Foley, the first sitting speaker of the House of Representatives to lose his seat since the Civil War.In the wake of the recent GOP victories in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, Democrats and Republicans in Washington state are wondering whether history could repeat itself this year.Democrats are still haunted by 1994, and their motto is "Not Again in 2010." Republicans are hoping they'll again ride a wave of public anger over health care and other issues to majorities in the House and the Senate.Nine months before Election Day is too early to talk of a rerun of 1994, but political experts don't rule it out."It's too soon to tell whether it will be another 1994 in Washington state or ar…

Democrats in trouble in Illinois

Washington Post:

Not a good week for the Democrats here trying to hang on to President Obama's old Senate seat. The party's leading contender -- state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias -- has spent these last precious days before Tuesday's primary scrambling to explain why regulators have targeted his struggling family bank for greater oversight. Giannoulias, once a senior lending officer at Broadway Bank, is being pressed relentlessly by his Democratic rivals and the media about his role in the bank's woes. Republicans promise that it is not a topic that will go away. The Senate race in the president's home state will be among the most symbolically important and expensive races in the country this year. After Republican Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts this month, the GOP sees a clear path to victory in this Democratic state -- and his name is Mark Kirk. Kirk, 50, a moderate five-term Republican House member, appears to be the man of the moment. As the lik…

The weapons sell that has China wee-weed up

Bill Gertz:

Included in the Obama administration's latest arms package for Taiwan will be authorization for a joint U.S.-Taiwan feasibility study on bolstering air power against the threats to the island posed by Chinese missiles and aircraft, according to U.S. officials. The administration put off actual sales of newer F-16s, but if the study, which will be conducted rapidly, determines that the jets are needed, they will be authorized in the coming months, said officials familiar with the arms deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The current package, worth several billion dollars, augments an earlier arms offer worth $6.5 billion that was announced in October 2008. The latest arms package includes 60 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, air defense communications equipment and additional Patriot PAC-3 missile defenses, according to congressional and administration officials who said an announcement on the package is imminent. Support for helping the Taiwanese military to build…

Obama's stubborn insistence on trial for 9-11 terrorist

NY Times:

For much of President Obama’s first year in office, his national security team worked to devise a secure plan to send dozens of Yemeni detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — the largest single group at the prison camp — home to Yemen, perhaps to a rehabilitation program.Then came the Christmas Day airliner bombing attempt, which was planned in Yemen, and the president put all transfers there on hold.Since November, the administration had been preparing to move the highest-profile Guantánamo prisoners — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four accomplices accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — to Manhattan for a federal criminal trial. But overwhelming opposition from New York politicians concerned about costs, disruptions and security now has the Justice Department scrambling to come up with a Plan B, even as Congress threatens to block money to pay for a criminal 9/11 trial altogether. That could force the administration to revive the very option that the preside…

Taliban chief killed in Hellfire strike January 17?

Reuters:

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud may have been targeted in a drone strike on January 17 after surviving a similar attack days earlier near the Afghan border, Pakistani intelligence officials said on Sunday.The officials said they had received unconfirmed reports that he may have died of wounds after a drone strike on two vehicles carrying militants in North Waziristan.Pakistan state television reported earlier that Hakimullah was killed and had been buried.

A military spokesman said he had no information on reports of Hakimullah's death.Although his death would likely create disarray in Pakistan's Taliban, analysts say it would not deal a major blow to the group, which is fighting to topple the pro-American government.

...
He has made about as many recordings as a dead man since January 16. I suspect that is because he is dead. His revile for leadership has probably stepped in and is keeping a low profile to avoid his fate.

Confiscated Nork arms shipment headed for Iran

Reuters:

A shipment of weapons from North Korea seized by Thai authorities last month were headed for Iran, according to a confidential report the Thai government sent to a U.N. Security Council committee.

Thai authorities seized more than 35 tons of arms from a cargo plane they said had come from North Korea, and arrested its five crew members after the aircraft made an emergency landing at a Bangkok airport in December.The report to the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee, seen by Reuters on Saturday, said the shipment included rockets, fuses, rocket launchers and rocket-propelled grenades....

I think both Iran and North Korea were in violations of UN arms embargoes. Since Iran produces most of its weapons, it is likely that it wanted these to use in terrorist operations outside the country so they could deny responsibility. Being the largest state sponsor of terrorism requires some stealth, I suppose.

More questionable sources for globo warmers

Sunday Telegraph:

The revelation will cause fresh embarrassment for the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had to issue a humiliating apology earlier this month over inaccurate statements about global warming. The IPCC's remit is to provide an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence on climate change.
In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information. However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them. The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master's degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted int…

Turning national security questions over to ICC judges

Sunday Telegraph:

At a special "review conference" in Kampala, Uganda, the nations which have signed up to the court, including Britain, will consider a proposal to let the court try the "crime of aggression" - the offence allegedly committed by Tony Blair. If the proposal, backed by more than 70 countries, passes, national leaders alleged to have launched "illegal" wars could be seized, transported to the Hague, tried and imprisoned.
UK law requires British police to enforce indictments and arrest warrants issued by the court. Britain, a member of the court, is not against the plan in principle but is fighting furiously for safeguards that would protect Mr Blair and future British prime ministers from arrest. John Washburn, convenor of AMICC, an umbrella body of non-governmental organisations interested in the court, said: "This will be one of the major items on the agenda in Kampala and it is almost certain that …

The Chinese espionage ring

Sunday Times:

THE security service MI5 has accused China of bugging and burgling UK business executives and setting up “honeytraps” in a bid to blackmail them into betraying sensitive commercial secrets. A leaked MI5 document says that undercover intelligence officers from the People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of Public Security have also approached UK businessmen at trade fairs and exhibitions with the offer of “gifts” and “lavish hospitality”. The gifts — cameras and memory sticks — have been found to contain electronic Trojan bugs which provide the Chinese with remote access to users’ computers. MI5 says the Chinese government “represents one of the most significant espionage threats to the UK” because of its use of these methods, as well as widespread electronic hacking.
Written by MI5’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, the 14-page “restricted” report describes how China has attacked UK defence, energy, communications and manufacturing com…

Lloyd Marcus rallies Tea Party faithful

Observer/Guardian:

The singer left no doubt about his politics. Striking up a tune in front of a Republican party meeting in Daytona Beach, Florida, he belted out "New York, New York", but changed the lyrics to an anti-Barack Obama diatribe."This socialist nightmare/Must come to an end!" sang Lloyd Marcus, decked out in a cowboy hat, pointed cowboy boots and a leather vest. Six elderly white Republicans were hauled to the front of the room and were soon dancing and kicking their legs in the air."My Obama blues/Are melting away!" he continued, as the rest of the room cheered wildly. Other songs followed. The Temptations' hit "My Girl" became "Our Girl", about Sarah Palin. Louis Armstrong's hit "What a Wonderful World" was rendered into a patriotic "What a Wonderful Country". Everyone in the room lapped it up, swaying to the words like teenagers at a rock concert, not ­retirees having lunch in a yacht club.But …

Iran + Taiwan ='s China, US spat?

Sunday Telegraph:

Beijing has also imposed sanctions on the companies selling the arms and threatened to review co-operation on other issues. The US responded defiantly, insisting that the sales would contribute to regional security.
The angry row sharply escalates existing frictions between Beijing and Washington, who are already at odds over trade, internet censorship and climate change. It is a further blow to President Barack Obama’s hopes of securing Chinese support for tougher measures against Iran over the Islamic regime’s illicit nuclear programme. The State Department insisted that arms sale contributed to "security and stability" between Taiwan and China. "Such sales contribute to maintaining security and stability across the Taiwan Strait," said US State Department spokeswoman Laura Tischler. The US is the leading arms supplier to Taiwan and, under a 1979 Act of Congress, is legally obliged to help Taiwan defend its…

Parade rest?

Image
The Daily Mail reports on a Danish soldier who passed out during a ceremony.

US rushing missile defense in Persian Gulf

NY Times:

The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of a series of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries, according to administration and military officials. The deployments come at a critical turning point in President Obama’s dealings with Iran’s leadership, when he is warning that his diplomatic outreach will now be combined with the “consequences,” as he put it in the State of the Union address, of the country’s continued defiance on its nuclear program. The administration is trying to win broad international consensus for sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which Western nations say controls the military side of the nuclear program. As part of that effort, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly warned China on Friday that its opposition to sanctions was shortsighted. The Senate, meanwhile, last …

Obama and the center

I think Stephen Hayes pretty well nails Obama when he attempts to define the health care plan as centrist, when the centrist had to be bribed into supporting it.

Obama has credibility problem in State of the Union

Rasmussen Reports:

...

The president in the speech declared that his administration has cut taxes for 95% of Americans. He even chided Republicans for not applauding on that point. However, just 21% of voters nationwide believe that taxes have been cut for 95% of Americans. Most (53%) say it has not happened, and 26% are not sure. Other polling shows that nearly half the nation’s voters expect their own taxes to go up during the Obama years. The president also asserted that “after two years of recession, the economy is growing again.” Just 35% of voters believe that statement is true, while 50% say it is false. Obama claimed that steps taken by his team are responsible for putting two million people to work “who would otherwise be unemployed.” Just 27% of voters say that statement is true. Fifty-one percent (51%) say it's false.
... On all the points raised in the president’s speech, there is a huge partisan divide. On the question of cutting taxes for 95% of Americans, hardly any …

Rejecting liberal media

Bill O'Reilly:

Watch out. America is moving to the right, and it's happening fast. The vote in Massachusetts was an ideological earthquake whose tremors are still being felt all over the country. When a big-government guy like President Obama takes to the lectern to announce he wants to freeze some federal spending, you know hell might be freezing over, as well. But nowhere is the rejection of liberal doctrine seen more clearly than in the television news industry. Last week, Fox News Channel, the only network that has brought some scrutiny to Obama from the beginning, was the No. 1 rated cable operation in America. If you listen closely, you can hear SpongeBob and Hannah Montana weeping. In addition, the Democratic outfit Public Policy Polling released a stunning scientific survey. It asked Americans which TV news operation they trusted. Hide the kids; here are the results: Fox News: 49 percent trust, 37 percent don't trust. ABC News: 31 percent trust…

GOP the generic leader now

Michael Barone:

The Real Clear Politics average on the generic ballot now shows Republicans ahead 46%-42%. This is historically unprecedented.
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The current results are as favorable for Republicans or more so than the CNN/Gallup polls taken at this point in the 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004, cycles in which Republican House candidates received more votes than Democratic candidates . All of which leads me to second Charlie Cook’ssuggestion that if the election were held today, Republicans would gain more than the 40 seats they need to get a majority in the House. I would go further and say that if the election were held today Republicans would do better than in 1994 or 2002, their best years since the “had enough?” Republican landslide of 1946.
...

The Republicans have the edge in intensity which is a reflection of the anger directed toward Democrats attempts to change their health care. Obama and Pelosi continue to stoke that anger with their continue push for some form of th…

Obama's message of hope to our enemies

Gordon Chang:

In Beijing General Secretary Hu Jintao is sporting a big grin. Kim Jong Il is breaking out another case of his favorite Hennessy in North Korea. And in Tehran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is celebrating in, well, the way that dour theocrats kick up their heels, however they manage to do that.The cause for all this cheer? On Wednesday Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union message, and although he surely did not intend to do so, he essentially let these villains--and others--know they can do whatever they want. The president unfortunately will not be doing much to stop them from destabilizing the international system--or even from threatening the United States.America, whether it should be or not, is a nation at war. There are two obvious ones, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as a general struggle against Islamic fanaticism taking place across the globe. Then there are especially consequential confrontations. Two nuclear rogues--North Korea and Iran--t…

The Holder problem

Rich Lowry:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano must be relieved. Over the last few weeks, Attorney General Eric Holder has passed and lapped her in the race to be the most flagrantly incompetent Obama administration official in the War on Terror. Last year, Holder had a brainstorm: He'd remove Khalid Sheik Mohammed from Gitmo to try him in lower Manhattan, in the former shadow of the World Trade Center. Holder was thrilled by the "symbolism" of trying KSM so close to the scene of the crime. But, eventually, New York officials and members of Congress were bound to notice the barking-mad senselessness of the entire scheme. Now that they have, plans for Holder's trial of the century have collapsed in an unsightly heap in a matter of 24 hours. ...
Indeed, the NY Times reports the plan to try them in NY City has been dropped. It appears the liberals in the City convinced the liberals in the White House that the trials wedre politically unwise.

This is happen…

Why bin Laden is going green

IBD Editorial:

Global warming fanatics have an unwelcome new ally: Osama bin Laden. Unlike enviro-leftists, the terror master recognizes that the green agenda can cripple the U.S. economy. In the Obama worldview, fighting climate change will "finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America." In the Osama worldview, it will "bring the wheels of the American economy" to a halt....
There is no doubt that is one of his objectives. It was what the attacks on the World Trade Center were about. It is what his attack on the dollar was about. He believes that if he can ruin the US economy, he will have a chance of defeating our military.

California Senate needs mental health help

IBD Editorial:

The California Senate voted last Thursday to create a government-run single-payer medical care program. Do the 22 lawmakers who voted for this bill realize that the state will run out of cash before April? The state is facing a $20 billion deficit. It's bleeding money. To close the gap, Sacramento will probably cook up some brew of tax hikes, pay cuts for state workers and program cuts.Despite the deep troubles, the Senate wants to add a program that is expected to cost $200 billion a year, which, in fact, is likely far short of what the plan will actually cost."Does anybody believe that cost containment can be done when the state of California takes it over?" state Sen. George Runner asked from the Senate floor. "A state that has year-after-year deficits? And we believe that we're going to be the responsible party? To control costs when it comes to health care?"For the 22 — all Democrats — who voted for the bill and haven't noticed what&#…

It could have been life

From the Houston Chronicle:

‘Scarecrow Bandit' hit with 354-year sentence for holdups
Texas justice can be tough. He was also ordered to pay restitution.

A liberal false premise of people voting against their interest

BBC:


The Republicans' shock victory in the election for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts meant the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate. This makes it even harder for the Obama administration to get healthcare reform passed in the US.Political scientist Dr David Runciman looks at why is there often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.Last year, in a series of "town-hall meetings" across the country, Americans got the chance to debate President Obama's proposed healthcare reforms. What happened was an explosion of rage and barely suppressed violence. Polling evidence suggests that the numbers who think the reforms go too far are nearly matched by those who think they do not go far enough. But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform - the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state - are often the ones it seems designed to help. In Texa…

Terror pursuit teams formed to aggregate leads

NY Times:

The nation’s main counterterrorism center is creating new teams of specialists to pursue clues of emerging terrorist plots as part of a rapid buildup that will sharply increase its analyst corps, perhaps by hundreds of people over the next year, intelligence officials said Friday.

The action by the National Counterterrorism Center is one of the furthest reaching by the government so far to address the failings of several federal agencies in allowing a 23-year-old Nigerian man to board a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day with high explosives sewn into his underwear. A White House review this month found that no one in the government’s vast intelligence system had sole responsibility for detecting and piecing together disparate threat information, telltale signs that could have prevented the man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from boarding the plane. In response, the counterterrorism center in the past several days has picked more than three dozen of its most capable analysts…

Pashtun homosxual activity in Afghanistan

Fox News:

As if U.S. troops and diplomats didn't have enough to worry about in trying to understand Afghan culture, a new report suggests an entire region in the country is coping with a sexual identity crisis. An unclassified study from a military research unit in southern Afghanistan details how homosexual behavior is unusually common among men in the large ethnic group known as Pashtuns -- though they seem to be in complete denial about it. The study, obtained by Fox News, found that Pashtun men commonly have sex with other men, admire other men physically, have sexual relationships with boys and shun women both socially and sexually -- yet they completely reject the label of "homosexual." The research was conducted as part of a longstanding effort to better understand Afghan culture and improve Western interaction with the local people. The research unit, which was attached to a Marine battalion in southern Afghanistan, acknowledged that the behavior of some Afghan me…

Russia tests stealth fighter jet

BBC:

A new stealth fighter has made its maiden flight in Russia's far east.The Sukhoi T-50 jet spent 47 minutes in the air over Komsomolsk-on-Amur and test pilot Sergei Bogdan said "it is easy and comfortable to pilot". The jet - also known by the Russian designation PAK FA - is seen as a potential rival to the US F-22 Raptor, which first flew in 1997. The "fifth generation" jet is designed to be invisible to radar. Russia's air force hopes to acquire it in 2015. The new jet has been developed in partnership with India. It is seen as a significant milestone in Russia's efforts to modernise its Soviet-era military hardware.
...
The Russian air force lost several planes to the primitive Georgia anti aircraft weapons during that war. It will be interesting to see if they can actually produce this air craft and more importantly maintain it. That has become one of the critical areas for the F-22.

Obama restrains recovery

Kimberley Strassel:

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A venture capitalist recently remarked to me that the uncertainty the administration has created is "nothing short of paralyzing." Nobody will invest in an industry that might be the next to be overtaxed, overregulated, or publicly disemboweled. Add to that uncertainty the administration's new populist bent, and it's a recipe for a continued capital freeze. "People in the economy are thinking about whether to invest or take risks when what they are seeing are early signs of Hugo Chávez economics," says Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan. With the White House's political fortunes fundamentally tied to economic recovery, this populist fire is an act of self-immolation.
...

There is much more.

I think Obama's ignorance of how the economy works is doing damage in several part of the economy. He has been devastating to the hospitality and travel business by criticizing business gatherings in exotic locations. He is also restraining banking…

Democrats still don't get it on health care

Hugh Hewitt:

...

Prior to Massachusetts Obamacare was just a terrible bill with disastrous consequences for the American health care system, especially for seniors. If passed after Massachusetts, Obamacare would become the single most contemptuous act by a Congress towards voters in American history. The groups and efforts like Tea Party Patriots , Docs4PatientCare.org and AMAC's TearUpYourCard.com that may have dialed back their activism since Scott Brown's win now know they have to double and redouble their efforts. In recent weeks some of the attention of the powerful anti-Democrat grass root organizing has passed over to expressions of concern over out-of-control spending. Now the groups must return their attention to the mess that is Obamacare, however that Frankenstein monster of a bill gets reassembled through the reconciliation process. There's another development that may come into play as well as Democrats pursue collective political suicide. America's healt…

Closing Gittmo still a difficult task

Washington Post:

The closure of the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is beginning to look like a protracted and uncertain project for the Obama administration as political, legal and security concerns limit the president's options.

Having blown the one-year closure deadline set last January in an executive order, the administration is planning to transfer some detainees to a state prison it hopes to acquire in Illinois. But there appears to be little mood in Congress to provide the administration with either the funding for the prison or the authority to transfer detainees who will be held indefinitely. At the same time, opposition is building to plans to transfer a number of detainees, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to a civilian court in Lower Manhattan for federal trial. "My hope is that the attorney general and the president decide to change their mind," New York Mayor Michael R. Bloom…

Voters dubious of 'spending freeze'

Andrew Malcom:

...

The new Rasmussen Reports poll actually shows that 9% -- nine out of every 100 Americans -- think the freeze will do a lot about the federal deficit that has this many 0's -- 0,000,000,000,000.To put it another way, 81 out of every 100 Americans are already convinced that the president's three-year plan is a phony phreeze that won't do much of anything at all about the deficit. They're not against a freeze. It sounds swell. Like a budget-conscious family banning restaurant dinners except on weekends. In fact, 57% of poll respondents would like to see a government spending reduction. They just don't see such a tiny one as mattering much, despite the administration's orchestrated news leaks in advance and the three whole paragraphs the president devoted to it.And, therefore, Obama's spending veto threat also rings hollow. Since, come to think of it, he's had that at his left hand since he took the oath by raising the right one 374 days ag…

It is hard out there for a President

George Will:

...

Not until the 33rd minute of Wednesday's 70-minute address did Obama mention health care. The weirdness of what he said made it worth the wait. Acknowledging that the longer the public has looked at the legislation the less the public has liked it, he blamed himself for not "explaining it more clearly." But his faux contrition actually blames the public: The problem is not the legislation's substance but the presentation of it to slow learners. He urged them to take "another look at the plan we've proposed." The plan? The differences between the House and Senate plans are not trivial; they concern how to pay for the enormous new entitlement. Last Feb. 24, with a grandiosity with which the nation has become wearily familiar, he said, "Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health-care reform in the last 30 days than we have in the last decade." He was referring to the expansion of eligibility to an existing entitlem…

The American terrorist leader in Somalia

NY Times Magazine:

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Omar Hammami had every right to flash his magnetic smile. He had just been elected president of his sophomore class. He was dating a luminous blonde, one of the most sought-after girls in school. He was a star in the gifted-student program, with visions of becoming a surgeon. For a 15-year-old, he had remarkable charisma.Despite the name he acquired from his father, an immigrant from Syria, 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. In the thick of his adolescence, he was fearless, raucously funny, rebellious, contrarian. “It felt cool just to be with him,” his best friend at the time, Trey Gunter, said recently. “You knew he was going to be a leader.”A de…