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Showing posts from June, 2010

Desperate Taliban using 5 year olds to plant IEDs

Telegraph:

In the past five months the number child insurgents has increased almost fivefold in the town of Sangin, to a band of 40, who are used to run weapons, plant bombs and carry out tasks for the Taliban, The Daily Telegraph has learnt. According to military intelligence sources there are about 12 children being routinely used in the Sangin area just to plant bombs.
The Taliban have resorted to the tactic because they know that British troops are unlikely to fire on children planting IEDs (improvised explosive devices). They have also been forced into the change because sophisticated surveillance technology is able to pick up Taliban IED planting teams and take action against them. On one occasion surveillance cameras picked up two children under 10 walking along the main road with one placing an IED in a hole followed by another covering it up with a bag of stone and earth. "They know that we won't engage the kids," sai…

Senate approves bipartisan panel to study offshore drilling

The Hill:

A key Senate panel delivered a rebuke to President Barack Obama Wednesday in approving the creation of a bipartisan oil spill commission that would effectively compete with his own.

Five Democrats joined all 10 Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in agreeing to create a new bipartisan panel whose members would mostly be appointed by Congress.

The proposal — offered by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) — would establish a commission of 10 whose members would be appointed equally by the two parties, with Obama naming the chair and congressional leaders selecting the vice chair and the remaining eight members. The commission would have subpoena power, which the Obama-appointed panel does not.

Barrasso said the newly proposed commission — which he said is modeled after the 9/11 Commission — is needed to provide a “truly unbiased bipartisan review” of offshore drilling in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico spill. Obama’s commission “appears to me to be…

The Irreconciable Haqqanis

Jeffrey Dressler at the Institute for the Study of War provides the background on the futility of negotiating with a group the is tightly tied to al Qaeda and the Pakistan ISI.

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“The Haqqani network, with the help of Al Qaeda and others, is arguably the most capable and deadly insurgent group operating in Afghanistan today. The Haqqani network maintains considerable military strength and territorial control in Afghanistan’s Southeast. It also enjoys relative sanctuary in North Waziristan, and the network is capable of executing spectacular suicide attacks in Kabul at will.”“The Haqqanis and Al Qaeda maintain a symbiotic relationship to the extent that each side is equally unlikely to break the bond that has been forged over the past several decades. Striking a deal with the Haqqanis will not only relieve pressure on the Pakistanis to dismantle the terror hub in North Waziristan, but will embolden Al Qaeda and like-minded terrorist organizations, providing them with a veil o…

Report on the Talibans failed attack against base

pp
Multisource political news,world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

I am skeptical of the analysis which credits the Taliban for this failed attack. Launching failed attacks is the easiest thing to do in warfare and the Taliban have many to their credit. What they get from the attacks is a PR event with some in the media who seem to think that a failed attack is "sophisticated" and a sign of strength.

California welfare cards get cash at strip clubs

LA Times:

California welfare recipients have been able to get taxpayer cash -- meant to feed and clothe needy families -- from ATM machines at strip clubs across the state, including some well-known gentlemen’s cabarets in Los Angeles.More than $12,000 from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was dispensed from the start of 2007 to the end of 2009 at clubs including Sam’s Hofbrau, Seventh Veil and Star Strip, according to officials at the Department of Social Services.Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered the department to remove the clubs from the official list of businesses where welfare recipients can withdraw benefits using state-issued ATM cards....
Does California have a budget problem?

Obama's big government fails Alabama on spill

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann:

It's one thing to say that President Obama's administration showed its ineptitude and mismanagement in its handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It is quite another to grasp the situation up close, as I did during a recent visit to Alabama.

According to state disaster relief officials, Alabama conceived a plan -- early on -- to erect huge booms offshore to shield the approximately 200 miles of its coastline from oil. Rather than install the relatively light and shallow booms in use elsewhere, the state (with assistance from the Coast Guard) canvassed the world and located enough huge, heavy booms -- some weighing tons and seven meters high -- to guard its coast.But ... no sooner were the booms in place than the Coast Guard, perhaps under pressure from the public comments of James Carville, uprooted them and moved them to guard the Louisiana coastline, instead.So, Alabama decided on a backup plan. It would buy snare booms to catch t…

Kagan's questionable abortion ethics

Clarke Forsythe:

Shannen Coffin’s National Review Onlinearticle yesterday described how Elena Kagan, while working in the Clinton White House, intervened to edit a supposedly scientific evaluation of the partial-birth abortion procedure that became the policy statement of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) — and was later relied upon by a federal court to strike down the Bush administration’s federal partial-birth abortion ban. As Coffin explained, in December 1996, Kagan received a draft statement by an ACOG “select panel,” which said that ACOG “could identify no circumstances under which this procedure . . . would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.” Kagan drafted an amendment which said that the procedure “however, may be the best or most appropriate in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.” Under questioning by Sen. Orrin Hatch this morning, Kagan admitted, “The …

Kerry's job killing 'energy' bill

Mark Tapscott:

More than half a million jobs could be lost by 2015 if Congress approves the cap-and-trade portion of the Kerry-Lieberman anti-global warming bill, according to an independent analysis to be made public tomorrow by the Institute for Energy Research.The study was done by Chamberlain Economics LLC at IER's request of the measure - officially known as the American Power Act - being sponsored by Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-CN.Besides the 522,000 jobs lost within five years, the measure if approved would destroy an estimated 5.1 million jobs by 2050.......
Proponents of the bill claim they will replace those jobs with ones in the magic energy business. What the bill really does is manipulate the market by taxing the most efficient energy in order to subsidize the less efficient.

Google to shake up E-book market

NY Times:

Independent bookstores were battered first by discount chains like Barnes & Noble, then by superefficient Web retailers like Amazon.com.

Now the electronic book age is dawning. With this latest challenge, these stores will soon have a new ally: the search giant Google. Later this summer, Google plans to introduce its long-awaited push into electronic books, called Google Editions. The company has revealed little about the venture thus far, describing it generally as an effort to sell digital books that will be readable within a Web browser and accessible from any Internet-connected computing device. Now one element of Google Editions is coming into sharper focus. Google is on the verge of completing a deal with the American Booksellers Association, the trade group for independent bookstores, to make Google Editions the primary source of e-books on the Web sites of hundreds of independent booksellers around the country, according to representatives of Goo…

Sinaloa cartel uses diversty in Houston area recruiting

Houston Chronicle:

Dozens of federal agents, police and sheriff's deputies Tuesday swept through Harris County and arrested 28 alleged members of a drug-trafficking conspiracy with ties to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel.Thirty-two others were captured in Galveston, Fort Bend, Brazoria and other neighboring counties.The operation was code-named Agent Orange for the East Texas county where the investigation began two years ago with a tip from low-level dealers who wanted leniency. It culminated Tuesday with the arrests of mostly Houston residents for alleged roles in a cocaine and methamphetamine-smuggling operation that used this city as a hub for infiltrating the United States.The ring was unique in the world of drug trafficking as it stretched across ethnic lines, according to authorities. People with first names such as Jesus and Omar are accused of doing business with Mohammad, Shannon, Heather and Ken."It is quite unusual actually," said Malcolm Bales, th…

Sailing

LA Times:

Facing dozens of cameras, 16-year-old sailor Abby Sunderland thanked her rescuers on Tuesday, recounted how she got through her most terrifying moments at sea and spoke about how her family has gotten through sharp criticism of the voyage.

Responding to those who said she was too young to sail around the world by herself, Abby defended her abilities. On boats since she was a toddler, she has worked as a crew member on sailboats piloted by her father, a shipwright, and her older brother, Zac, who made his own circumnavigation last year at age 17, before departing on her trip in late January.

After she traveled 12,000 nautical miles, her voyage was stopped only because a rogue wave turned her boat upside down and snapped her 60-foot mast, she told reporters at a news conference in Marina del Rey.

"I've crossed two oceans and two capes," she said. "The questions about my age should have been done months ago.... My trip didn't end because of …

Why liberalism failed Obama

Allan Meltzer:

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Two overarching reasons explain the failure of Obamanomics. First, administration economists and their outside supporters neglected the longer-term costs and consequences of their actions. Second, the administration and Congress have through their deeds and words heightened uncertainty about the economic future. High uncertainty is the enemy of investment and growth.

Most of the earlier spending was a very short-term response to long-term problems. One piece financed temporary tax cuts. This was a mistake, and ignores the role of expectations in the economy. Economic theory predicts that temporary tax cuts have little effect on spending. Unless tax cuts are expected to last, consumers save the proceeds and pay down debt. Experience with past temporary tax reductions, as in the Carter and first Bush presidencies, confirms this outcome. Another large part of the stimulus went to relieve state and local governments of their budget deficits. Transferring a def…

Taliban launch complex attack/PR offensive

NY Times:

Eight Taliban insurgents were killed on Wednesday after they attacked the NATO air base in Jalalabad, using a suicide car bomb and rocket-propelled grenades to attempt to breach the gate. The attack, which was similar to one carried out at Bagram Air Base in May, began at 7:30 in the morning when a suicide bomber driving a car detonated his explosives at the eastern gate of the base. The explosion, which was heard by people in the area, was followed by militants launching grenades and firing other weapons. The attack appeared to be designed to generate publicity and remind people of the Taliban presence in the area. Although the insurgents did not enter the main air base, which is set back substantially from the main road, the firefight disrupted traffic for several hours on the road, the main route to the Pakistan border crossing at Torkham. The Taliban took credit for the attack in a telephone interview. Two NATO soldiers received minor injuries, acc…

The source of Tea Party anger

Victor Davis Hanson:

I think we all know why the Tea Party movement arose — and why even the polls do not quite reflect the growing generic anger at incumbents in general, and our elites in particular.There is a growing sense that government is what I would call a new sort of Versailles — a vast cadre of royal state and federal workers that apparently assumes immunity from the laws of economics that affect everyone else.In the olden days, we the public sort of expected that the L.A. Unified School District paid the best and got the worst results. We knew that you didn’t show up at the DMV if you could help it. A trip to the emergency room was to descend into Dante’s Inferno. We accepted all that in other words, and went on with our business.But at some point — perhaps triggered by the radical increase in the public sector under Obama, the militancy of the SEIU, or the staggering debts — the public snapped and has had it with whining union officials and their political enab…

Petraeus to review Afghan rules of engagement

Eli Lake:

Predicting "tough fighting" ahead, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus vowed to review rules of engagement to ensure U.S. troops aren't handicapped on the battlefield and left open the prospect of delaying troop withdrawals as he breezed through Senate confirmation hearings as President Obama's nominee to lead the war in Afghanistan.Less than a week after Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal resigned after making disparaging remarks about his civilian bosses, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved Gen. Petraeus to replace him as commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. The full Senate likely will confirm Gen. Petraeus in coming days.In his opening testimony, the four-star general said that "protecting the [Afghan] population inevitably requires killing, capturing or turning the insurgents." But he also pledged to continue the policy of trying to keep Afghan insurgents to a bare minimum.Some U.S. forces in Afghanistan have complained th…

Disease and IQ

Guardian:

People who live in countries where disease is rife may have lower IQs because they have to divert energy away from brain development to fight infections, scientists in the US claim.The controversial idea might help explain why national IQ scores differ around the world, and are lower in some warmer countries where debilitating parasites such as malaria are widespread, they say.Researchers behind the theory claim the impact of disease on IQ scores has been under-appreciated, and believe it ranks alongside education and wealth as a major factor that influences cognitive ability.Attempts to measure intelligence around the world are fraught with difficulty and many researchers doubt that IQ tests are a suitable tool for the job. The average intelligence of a nation is likely to be governed by a complex web of interwoven factors....
I think it depends on the disease. High fevers in the young tend to effect their development. I suspect the fever damages some of the bra…

Maximizing economic growth through limiting size of government

At a certain point government spending becomes a drag on the economy. Studies show that this begins to happen when spending exceeds 17.4% of GDP. I think it is the same principal as the law of diminishing returns in setting the price of a product or service. At some point when you raise the price of a product the total revenue starts declining because fewer people are buying. The Laffer curve makes the same point about the rate of taxes. At some point the higher the rate the less taxes will be collected.

US wary of Pakistan brokered agreement with Haqqani

Washington Times:

U.S. officials and a former Afghan foreign minister are expressing skepticism over Pakistan-brokered talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and al Qaeda-affiliated groups, saying Islamabad appears to be trying to install its proxies in a future government in Kabul.With an assessment for a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan set to begin in July 2011, Pakistan has stepped in to fill what it sees as a security vacuum in its neighborhood.Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, and its director of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha are leading the vacuum-filling efforts. The two recently facilitated a meeting between Mr. Karzai and Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani network, according to an Al Jazeera news report over the weekend.The Obama administration says it will consider dealing with only those groups that cease violence, support the Afghan Constitution and renounce al Qaeda.…

Decapitation strikes working in Afghanistan

NY Times:

Despite deepening pessimism back home and disarray in the top American military ranks, officials insist that the buildup of soldiers in Afghanistan is beginning to show results: Commando raids over the last four months have taken scores of insurgent leaders out of action, in a secretive operation aimed partly at pressuring the Taliban to reconcile with the Afghan government.

About 130 important insurgent figures have been captured or killed in Afghanistan over the past 120 days, about the time that commanders turned their attention from the fight around Marja to a much more complex campaign around Kandahar, according to NATO military statistics. The targets have included Taliban shadow provincial governors and military commanders, as well as district-level financiers, trainers and bomb makers. At the same time, American military officials say that the greater number of troops, along with more trained Afghan security forces, is allowing NATO forces “to confront t…

Major operation kills 150 Taliban

Fox News:

As many as 150 insurgent fighters have been killed since Sunday in a major offensive involving about 700 U.S. and Afghan troops along eastern Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, a senior military official confirmed to Fox News early Tuesday.The U.S.-led operation was one of the largest yet in the region, officials told The Washington Post, who described the assault as "one of the most intense battles of the past year."In a statement Sunday, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said more than 600 ISAF and Afghan troops were pursuing Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Kunar and that "a number of insurgents" were killed.Two American troops were also killed in the battle, according to ISAF.The offensive was designed to flush out growing numbers of Taliban militants bidding to open up a second front in Kunar, as U.S.-led forces root out insurgents in southern Afghanistan, the Post reported."The Taliban know we are bringing our…

79% support offshore drilling in Louisiana

Rasmussen Reports:

Even as oil washes up on their shores from the still-spewing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, 79% of Louisiana voters believe offshore oil drilling should be allowed, and nearly as many support deepwater drilling. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Louisiana finds that just 15% do not believe offshore oil drilling should be allowed. These findings are basically unchanged from early April prior to the eruption of the oil leak. Nationally, 60% of voters support offshore oil drilling, while 22% are opposed. Eighteen percent (18%) remain undecided. Seventy-two percent (72%) favored offshore drilling prior to the oil leak. As for the relatively limited drilling for oil in deepwater locations like the rig that exploded in April causing the current environmental disaster, 72% of Louisiana voters think it should be allowed. Nineteen percent (19%) oppose deepwater drilling.
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In another survey Rasmussen found that 53 percent of likely …

Read the indictment...?

From AFP:

Russia demands explanation for US spy arrests
The indictment usually tells the defendant and the public why someone was arrested.

Who knew?

From McClatchy:

Watchdog: Afghan forces won't be ready for U.S. withdrawal
I think that has been obvious to most non Democrats for sometime and we did not need a watchdog to tell us. The withdrawal deadline never made any sense and the closer it gets the less sense it will make.

Mexican criminal insurgents assassinate candidate for governor across from Texas

WSJ:

A leading Mexican gubernatorial candidate was killed early Monday in a state bordering Texas, in the highest-level assassination of a politician here since President Felipe Calderón declared war on drug cartels in 2006.The killing of Rodolfo Torre, who was seen as a shoo-in for governor in Tamaulipas, represents an escalation of the drug traffickers' war against the Mexican state. "This is an attack not only against one citizen, but against all society; an attack not just on one politician, but against all politicians and our political institutions," Mr. Calderón said in a televised address.Mr. Torre, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which governed Mexico until 2000, and at least three others were killed when his campaign convoy was ambushed by gunmen on a rural highway in Tamaulipas state.The candidate, his chief of staff, campaign chief and at least one bodyguard died, officials said. Televised images showed several bodies, covered in w…

GOP congress could buy time for victory in Afghanistan

NY Times:

When he ordered 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan last December, President Obama stressed that they would not stay forever. “After 18 months,” he said, “our troops will begin to come home.”

Last weekend, though, he scorned the “obsession around this whole issue of when do we leave,” saying he was focused on making sure the troops were successful. The July 2011 deadline he set was intended to “begin a process of transition,” he said, but “that doesn’t mean we suddenly turn off the lights and let the door close behind us.” As he hands command of the war to Gen. David H. Petraeus, Mr. Obama is trying to define what his timeline means — but not too much. Even as developments in Afghanistan have made meeting the deadline all the more daunting, Mr. Obama has sent multiple signals to multiple audiences, sticking by his commitment to begin pulling out while insisting that it does not mean simply walking away.
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Obama's problem here is with the left wing of …

GOP spending cuts shaming Dems into earmark cuts

Washington Times:

The first spending bill to begin moving through Congress since House Republicans pledged to forgo earmarks shows the vow is working: The bill contains nearly 50 percent less in pork-barrel spending than last year's version.The 2011 homeland security spending bill, which was approved by a House subcommittee last week, includes just one Republican earmark. And just as telling, House Democrats' earmarks dropped dramatically, with the dollar amount down nearly 20 percent from last year's bill."Essentially, the vacuum that was created by virtually no Republican earmarks wasn't backfilled by more Democratic earmarks, and in fact, Democrats actually took less than they did last year," said Steve Ellis, vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group. "There is a fear of overstepping the earmarking bounds, and also a commitment to at least further whittling away at earmark levels."Earlier this year, House Republi…

Russian spy games

NY Times:

In what law enforcements officials portrayed as an extraordinary takedown of a Russian espionage network, the Justice Department on Monday announced charges against 11 people accused of living for years in the United States as part of a deep-cover program by S.V.R. -- one of the successors to the Soviet-era K.G.B.

Criminal complaints filed in federal court on Monday read like a thriller novel: Secret Russian agents were assigned to live as married couples in the United States, even having children who were apparently unaware of their parents’ true identities. A spy swapped identical bags with a Russian official as they brushed past each other in a train station stairwell. Messages were written with invisible ink, hidden in the data of digital pictures, and encoded in messages sent over shortwave radio. The complaints followed a multiyear investigation that culminated with Sunday’s arrest of 10 people in Yonkers; Montclair, New Jersey; Boston; and northern Virgi…

Concerns about Canada to Texas pipeline

Houston Chronicle:

From the ranches of East Texas to Capitol Hill, folks suddenly have the jitters about a proposed pipeline that would bring Canadian crude to the refineries of Houston and Port Arthur.The $7 billion project, called Keystone XL, would increase America's access to crude from Canada's tar sands,as offshore crude exploration faces scrutiny amid a runaway oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a legal fight over a federal offshore drilling moratorium. But critics warn that the oil flowing through the 2,000-mile pipeline would come with a high environmental toll, leaving behind toxic sludge ponds and destroyed forests while producing large amounts of gases linked to climate change.Ranchers also worry about the possibility of groundwater contamination, while some Houston-area residents say refining the crude will further foul the region's already dirty air."This isn't a hard thing for people to understand," said Matthew Tejada of the adv…

14th Amendment incorporates 2nd in right to bear arms case

David Fredosso:

Within the text of the 214-page Supreme Court ruling on gun rights is a history lesson on how Americans’ right to keep and bear arms was a major issue in the struggle for black civil rights in the South after the Civil War. To wit, Southern resisters, black codes and lawless lawmen attempted to disarm freedmen (usually in order to make them more vulnerable to racist terrorism), and the federal government came to their rescue by protecting their 2nd Amendment rights.The quotations and detailed references leave absolutely no question that Congress and the ratifiers of the 14th Amendment viewed it — and accompanying post-war civil rights legislation — as a safeguard against state infringement of the 2nd Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms. It’s not a part of our history that the Left has much stomach for, but fewer people argue against the obvious now that the Democratic Party has all but conceded the gun issue.I’ve removed the references and fo…

Bomb proof undershorts for the troops

Daily Mail:

They are designed to protect the parts other armour doesn't reach. Bomb-proof underwear is the latest morale booster for troops fighting in Afghanistan.
They are just one of a series of innovative ideas to revolutionise warfare - including a robot 'dog' to carry wounded soldiers and automated naval drones.
Military equipment supplier BCB International is selling the reinforced boxer shorts - which have a Kevlar panel at the front - for £60 a time to the Ministry of Defence. While the pants will not protect from a direct blast, they could shield the area from small fragments from a roadside bomb.Corporal Simon Mercer, who has just returned from Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment said: 'You go out on patrol and you've got a helmet for your head and body armour for your torso, but you've got nothing for your groin. It's forever in your mind.' ...
The protective vest of the US troops has a piece that comes down to pro…

Money flowing out of Afghanistan

Telegraph:

The sum haemorrhaging from one of the poorest countries in the world has led officials to believe the money is from plundered Western aid projects and security or reconstruction contracts, it has been reported. Proceeds from the country's rampant opium and heroin businesses also account for part of the sum, which is more than the Afghan government's entire tax revenue.
The money is packed in suitcases or even stacked on pallets and flown mainly to Dubai. Customs records for legally declared money leaving the airport showed £2.1 billion left between since the start of 2007 and the end of February 2010. The declared cash is likely to be a fraction of what actually leaves the country. Customs records are incomplete and money is also smuggled out unregistered. In December The Daily Telegraph reported that the Afghan ministry of finance estimated £6m a day was being smuggled out. Afghanistan's endemic corruption and Ham…

The Kagan hearings

The Washington Times:

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Monday pushed back at Republican accusations that she is liberal ideologue, telling Congress that if confirmed she would consider every case "impartially, modestly" and "in accordance of the law."Ms. Kagan, while addressing the Senate Judiciary Committee in the first day of what was expected to be a weeklong hearing, stressed that she would take an "even-handed" approach and would consider all sides of an argument if confirmed. Her almost 13-minute speech was peppered with such words and phrases as "restraint," "open minded," "principle" and "impartiality."Ms. Kagan, 50, is the first woman to hold the post of U.S. Solicitor General, the federal government's top litigator before the Supreme Court. She also was the first woman to serve as dean of Harvard Law School, and she served as an adviser in the Clinton administration.She said her experie…

News you can use?

From the Independent:

Want to lose weight? Try sex and shopping
It is best not to try them at the same time unless you are very fast.

Fuel sales to Iran halted

BBC:

French energy company Total says it has stopped petrol deliveries to Iran, amid growing international pressure over Iran's nuclear programme.Total confirmed the move days after the US Congress passed unilateral sanctions that could punish companies doing business with Iran.The sanctions still have to be signed into law by US President Barack Obama....Other companies have already taken similar action to Total in anticipation of the measure passed by Congress.Spain's Repsol confirmed on Monday that it had withdrawn from a contract it won with Royal Dutch Shell to develop the South Pars gas field in southern Iran, Reuters news agency reported....
That should make Iran fuel supplies tight. It may even require more rationing. Iran has had trouble raising the price to market levels and it will be interesting to see what can of mechanism it chooses for rationing. Rationing by price is usually the best method.

White says Obama spending hurting his campaign

Politico:

Polls show he’s already competitive, but Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White said his odds of knocking off two-term Texas Gov. Rick Perry might even be greater if President Obama had exhibited more fiscal restraint during his first 18 months in office. “If the president wasn’t spending so much money, borrowing money, it would probably help,” White acknowledged during an interview with POLITICO on Monday. “Increasing spending in almost everything. I mean, I don’t know where to start.” White’s comments reflect the distance he’s willing to carve out between himself and a president from his own party, who is saddled with a 40 percent job approval rating in the Lone Star state, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports survey. Perry, already the state's longest-serving governor, has made a determined effort to link White to the Obama administration and its economic policies. But calling himself a “fiscal conservative”, the former Houston mayor said Perr…

Police report alleges aggressive sexual conduct by Gore

Byron York:

The allegation that Al Gore sexually assaulted a woman in a Portland, Ore., hotel room nearly four years ago has dealt a serious blow to the former vice president's story that he and wife Tipper simply "grew apart" after 40 years of marriage.The police report of the masseuse's complaint is 73 pages long and extremely detailed. According to the document, she got a call from the front desk of the trendy Hotel Lucia on the night of Oct. 24, 2006. The hotel had a special guest. Could she come at 10:30 p.m.?She went to Gore's room carrying a folding massage table and other equipment. Gore, whom she had never met, greeted her with a warm embrace. "The hug went on a bit long, and I was taken just a bit aback by it," the masseuse told police. But she went along because Gore "was a VIP and a powerful individual and the Hotel Lucia had made it clear to me by inference that they were giving him 'the royal treatment.'"Gore sa…

Karzai administration blocking corruption investigations

Washington Post:

Top officials in President Hamid Karzai's government have repeatedly derailed corruption investigations of politically connected Afghans, according to U.S. officials who have provided Afghanistan's authorities with wiretapping technology and other assistance in efforts to crack down on endemic graft. In recent months, the U.S. officials said, Afghan prosecutors and investigators have been ordered to cross names off case files, prevent senior officials from being placed under arrest and disregard evidence against executives of a major financial firm suspected of helping the nation's elite move millions of dollars overseas. As a result, U.S. advisers sent to Kabul by the Justice Department, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration have come to see Afghanistan's corruption problem in increasingly stark terms.
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It appears to me the obvious answer to this problem is to charge those who giving the orders to remove names from investigations…

Israeli pig farmers

BBC:

A female pig by the name of Barbie lies anaesthetised on a bed, a pulse monitor clipped to her snout as it pokes out from under a blanketStaff in blue medical scrubs crowd around her, examining an image of the inside of her colon, shown on a computer screen above the bed. Unusually in the pig world, Barbie was raised by Jews. Researcher Sharon Goldfarb-Albak strokes the animal's head tenderly. "I love pigs! The Bible says don't eat pig, so I don't eat pig, but that doesn't mean I can't pet them and make them my friends," she says.
...
It is a interesting story. While most of those doing the research do not consume the pork some do. You discover that not all Israeli Jews are religious. I wonder if they eat cheese burgers too.

Supreme Court says 2nd Amendment applies nationwide

WSJ:

The Supreme Court ruled for the first time that gun possession is fundamental to American freedom, giving federal judges power to strike down state and local weapons laws for infringing on Second Amendment rights.The ruling was 5-4 along the court's usual conservative-liberal split. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion.
The court in 2008 voided a District of Columbia handgun ban, and Monday's ruling extended that to the rest of the country. Because Washington is federal territory and not part of a state, the legal basis for imposing federal constitutional limits on gun laws adopted by states had been unclear.The legal question before the court had much to do with questions of constitutional history. Before the Civil War, courts held that the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government. After the Union victory, the Reconstruction amendments were adopted to elevate individual rights over state powers and cement the federal role in enforcing …

Drone pilots now working out of Houston

Houston Chronicle:

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Inside a windowless room at Houston’s Ellington Airport, the 36-year-old major with the Texas Air National Guard will sit down at the controls of a Predator drone as it cruises over insurgent hideouts and convoy routes in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Although it’s late afternoon in Houston, the sun is about to rise in the combat zone.

Via satellite, Stiles will talk to ground troops on the front lines who depend on the high-resolution, real-time images collected by his Predator’s sensors. He will look for evidence of bombs planted in or alongside roadways, or suspicious people carrying weapons on rugged mountain trails.

“You might be doing a convoy escort, guys moving 20 to 30 vehicles from point A to point B, and you’re just scanning ahead of them, trying to make sure no one is going to ambush them,” Stiles said. “It kinda gives ’em a warm, fuzzy feeling to know there’s somebody up there looking after them.”

...

“Sometimes I’ll hear guys screaming and gunfire in t…

Reforming the wrong regulators

Opinion Journal:

President Obama hailed the financial bill that House-Senate negotiators finally vouchsafed at 5:40 a.m. Friday, and no wonder. The bill represents the triumph of the very regulators and Congressmen who did so much to foment the financial panic, giving them vast new discretion over every corner of American financial markets. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, those Fannie Mae cheerleaders, played the largest role in writing the bill. Congressman Paul Kanjorski even offered a motion to memorialize it as the Dodd-Frank Act. It's as if Tony Hayward of BP were allowed to write new rules on deep water drilling. The Federal Reserve, which promoted the housing mania and failed utterly in its core mission of monitoring Citigroup, will now have more power to regulate more financial institutions and more ability to dictate the allocation of credit.
The Treasury, which bailed out institutions willy-nilly without consistent rules, will now lead the Financial Stability Ove…

No more free rides for public sector unions

Washington Times:

Major clashes are breaking out between public-sector unions and state and local governments seeking to steady their wobbly books by scaling back employee benefits, pitting labor's political clout against lawmakers eager to avoid raising taxes or cutting programs.From New York to California, state capitals and city halls facing huge budget deficits are fighting with unions to slash costs through pension cuts or freezes and worker furloughs and by renegotiating contracts with unions that represent civil servants, teachers, police, firefighters and other public servants."A lot of state and city governments' backs are against the wall; they can't go on borrowing forever like the federal government," said Chris Edwards, the director of tax-policy studies at the Cato Institute, a free-market think tank."It's a giant battle, and these are only the opening salvos."Putting more pressure on historically sticky relationships, gove…

What McChrystral really said to Rolling Stone

David Carr, NY Times:

You could say General Stanley A. McChrystal was a victim of his own hubris – the archetypal field commander who got too intemperate with the suits back at headquarters.Then again, you might not.Let’s stipulate that allowing a reporter from Rolling Stone with a skeptic’s view of the war in Afghanistan unfettered access for a month was not the best career move. But those who’ve read the full piece by Michael Hastings — as opposed to just the juicy bits being tossed around cable news — might be forgiven for wondering what exactly got him whacked so quickly. Or at least, you might wonder if it has less to do with what the general said and more to do with the relentless velocity and recklessness of the modern media ecosystem.The original piece was hijacked by other news organizations and by the end of the day Tuesday, the general was thought to have suggested that the commander-in-chief did not seem “engaged” when they met, made profane fun of the vice pres…

Mossad chief to step down?

Independent:

Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, could step down in three months after the country's Prime Minister refused to extend his term, a television channel has claimed. The unconfirmed reports will prompt speculation that Mr Dagan, 65, is being ousted over a botched operation in January to kill a Hamas operative in Dubai that led to a diplomatic backlash from some of Israel's closest allies.Israel's Channel Two television claimed that Mr Dagan, who has served eight years in the post, asked Benjamin Netanyahu to extend his term, but the request was turned down. Mr Netanyahu's office immediately refuted the reports, saying that Mr Dagan "did not turn to us and did not ask us to extend his term."...
The Hamas operative in Dubai deserved to die and he did. That part of the operation was not botched. The team that handled the operation could have done a better job of handling the video security in the hotel, but th…

Afghan factions unhappy with Taliban negotiations

Guardian:

Pakistani proposals for peace talks between President Hamid Karzai and a notorious insurgent commander have triggered political tensions inside Afghanistan that analysts warn could dangerously destabilise the country.Western officials say Pakistan's ISI spy agency has offered to negotiate with Sirajuddin Haqqani – an al-Qaida linked commander accused of numerous suicide attacks – as part of a broader initiative to find a find a settlement to the conflict.Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, and the head of the ISI, Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha, are due to arrive in Kabul tomorrow for their third meeting with Karzai in recent months.Frosty relations between the two sides have thawed in recent months; about 10 days ago reports emerged from Pakistan that the ISI was offering to "deliver" the Haqqani network, which is based in North Waziristan in the tribal belt.Today a suspected CIA drone attacked a compound in North Waziristan, killing …

Palin tells crowd in Tyler it is time for responsible drilling for oil

Tyler Telegraph:

Sarah Palin first used her slogan, "Drill, baby, drill," when she was running for vice president. She used it again Saturday night at The Oil Palace, where she talked about the importance of drilling oil domestically for a more secure, freer and more prosperous nation.

Mrs. Palin, former governor of Alaska, author and political commentator, said she first used the now-famous term to call for drilling domestically, safely, responsibly and ethically, although some accused her of being a cheerleader for reckless oil companies.

"We chant 'Drill, baby, drill' because we understand the need to domestically develop our resources," she said to a group of more than 2,000 people gathered at The Oil Palace, which she called an "appropriate" place to talk about energy.

People were decked out in patriotic outfits and waving flags or signs that read "Run Baby Run! 2012" while Mrs. Palin spoke. She said she loved the signs and…

McCain says Afghan withdrawal date a political decision

The Hill:

Sen. John McCain blasted President Barack Obama's stated goal of beginning troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011, saying Obama made a "political decision" not based on military strategy.

McCain (R-Ariz.), Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential election, continued to criticize Obama's decision to include a timetable in his Afghanistan strategy, and he criticized military leaders who signed on to Obama's timetable strategy.

"It was purely a political decision," McCain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Not one based on facts on the ground, not one based on military strategy."

...
Actually that is the good news, because if it were based on military strategy, it would be one of the dumbest decisions of all time. It tells the enemy to just hang on a few months and we will go away. It gives the enemy hope when our military is trying to convince them that their cause is hopeless.

I think the withdrawal date was somet…

Taliban unlikely to bite on a deal

NY Times:

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, expressed strong skepticism on Sunday about the prospects for an Afghanistan deal being pushed by Pakistan between the Afghan government and elements of the Taliban, saying militants do not yet have a reason to negotiate seriously. “We have seen no evidence that they are truly interested in reconciliation, where they would surrender their arms, where they would denounce Al Qaida, where they would really try to become part of that society,” said Mr. Panetta in an interview on ABC’s news program “This Week.” Mr. Panetta’s comments came amid reports, not yet confirmed by American officials, that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has met personally with Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani network, a faction of the Afghan Taliban considered to be close to Al Qaeda. Acknowledging that the American-led counterinsurgency effort is facing unexpected difficulty, Mr. Panetta said that the Taliban an…