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Showing posts from March, 2011

What is with Clinton's suck up to Syria

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Image via WikipediaCharles Krauthammer:

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Bashar made promises of reform during the short-lived Arab Spring of 2005. The promises were broken. During the current brutally suppressed protests, his spokeswoman made renewed promises of reform. Then Wednesday, appearing before parliament, Assad was shockingly defiant. He offered no concessions. None.

Second, it's morally reprehensible. Here are people demonstrating against a dictatorship that repeatedly uses live fire on its own people, a regime that in 1982 killed 20,000 in Hama and then paved the dead over.

Here are insanely courageous people demanding reform — and the U.S. secretary of state tells the world that the thug ordering the shooting of innocents already is a reformer, thus effectively endorsing the Baath party line — "We are all reformers," Assad told parliament — and undermining the demonstrators' cause.

Third, it's strategically incomprehensible. Sometimes you cover for a repressive ally because you n…

Qaddafi sons also send their man to talk in London

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Image via WikipediaGuardian:

Colonel Gaddafi's regime has sent one of its most trusted envoys to London for confidential talks with British officials, the Guardian can reveal.

Mohammed Ismail, a senior aide to Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, visited London in recent days, British government sources familiar with the meeting have confirmed.

The contacts with Ismail are believed to have been one of a number between Libyan officials and the west in the last fortnight, amid signs that the regime may be looking for an exit strategy.

Disclosure of Ismail's visit comes in the immediate aftermath of the defection to Britain of Moussa Koussa, Libya's foreign minister and the country's former external intelligence head, who has been Britain's main conduit to the Gaddafi regime since the early 1990s.

A team led by the British ambassador to Libya, Richard Northern, and MI6 officers, embarked on a lengthy debriefing of Koussa at a safe house after he flew into Farnborough airpor…

Rumsfeld is right

Daily Mail:

Donald Rumsfeld labels 'Kill Team' Afghan photos as 'much worse' than Iraq's Abu Ghraib
Sometimes it is hard to remember that no one was killed at Abu Ghraib.  Some prisoners were humiliated, but frat houses have done similar stunts.  The main difference is that no one wanted to become a member of the Abu Ghraib frat house.

But the killing for sport in Afghanistan was truly despicable.

A Mad Max retreat in the desert

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Cover of Mad Max (Special Edition)Daily Mail:

Libyan rebel forces retreated in disarray yesterday as the battle in the east swung dramatically in favour of Colonel Gaddafi. The oil town of Brega changed hands for the sixth time in six weeks, as regime troops backed by heavy artillery won back most of the ground they had lost in recent days.

Last night Gaddafi loyalists were once again closing in on the key town of Ajdabiya, which they had abandoned on Saturday in the face of devastating coalition airstrikes. Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad had already fallen again.

As civilians began to flee there were reports that fresh Nato air raids were being carried out against the regime advance.

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They even claimed to have taken Sirte itself. There was giddy talk of Tripoli within days.

But since then the rebel volunteers’ lack of heavy weapons, battlefield tactics and communications, or even basic training has seen them routed.

During the last 36 hours the oil towns of Bin Jawad, Ras Lanuf and Aghei…

What to do with Libya's Moussa Koussa

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Image via WikipediaTelegraph:

Moussa Koussa, the Libyan foreign minister, who fled to Britain on Wednesday, is described as having "electrifying" information on Col Muammar Gaddafi's role in terrorist atrocities across Europe.

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Mr Koussa, who was likened yesterday to Rudolf Hess by a Conservative MP, is being interrogated by MI6 at an unknown location. It is not clear whether information obtained by MI6 will be made public.

Senior Whitehall sources indicated that Scotland Yard was unlikely to get involved "at the moment".

The Libyan foreign minister was identified yesterday by Jack Straw, the former Labour foreign secretary, as a key source for British and American intelligence for more than a decade.

Last night Ali Abdessalam Treki, a Libyan former foreign minister and UN General Assembly president, also defected. Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy UN ambassador, said that most high-level Libyan officials were trying to defect but were having trouble leav…

Qaddafi loses about 25 percent of army

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Image via WikipediaBBC:

Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi's armed forces are not close to breaking point despite hundreds of allied air strikes, American military chiefs have said.

Adm Mike Mullen told a US Congress committee Col Gaddafi's troops still had 10 times the rebels' firepower.

At the same hearing, Defence Secretary Robert Gates reiterated the US would put no "boots on the ground" in Libya.

Rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces appear to have reached a stalemate in their fight for control of the country.

In recent days, rebels have been urging international forces to conduct more air strikes.

Adm Mullen told the House of Representatives armed forces committee that bad weather had stopped them from identifying targets over the past three or four days.

"[The weather] has more than anything else reduced the impact... reduced the effectiveness, and has allowed the regime forces to move back to the east," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Despite the wea…

Another offical flees Tripoli

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Image via WikipediaNY Times:

As rebel forces began a cautious regrouping after a panicked retreat, an atmosphere of paranoia descended on the Libyan capital of Tripoli following the defection of the country’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa.

Fears that the regime could be cracking were deepened further when a second top Libyan official, Ali Abdussalam el-Treki, defected Thursday to Egypt. In decades of service, Mr. Treki had served as both foreign minister and as ambassador to the United Nations, where he was president of the General Assembly.

The capital of Tripoli was alive with rumored defections on Thursday, with the prime minister and the speaker of Parliament, among other top figures, said at various times to be quitting the country. None of those reports could be verified. But the authorities were taking no chances, assigning guards to senior officials to assure they cannot leave, a former Libyan official said.

Other than Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s sons, the only other official …

Senate GOP pushes vote on opening ANWR

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Image via WikipediaHouston Chronicle:

Senate Republicans are making another bid to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling — but this time they are trying to sweeten the offer by dedicating a quarter of the revenue to renewable energy projects.

The ANWR drilling plan is embedded in energy legislation unveiled Thursday by more than two dozen lawmakers, led by David Vitter of Louisiana and John Cornyn of Texas.

The bill also would restrict environmental groups from filing legal challenges to energy projects, force the government to approve a pipeline that would bring Canadian oil sands crude to the Gulf Coast and clear the path for Shell to begin oil drilling in Arctic waters near Alaska.

“This measure will take the boot off the neck of domestic energy producers and unlock our domestic energy potential,” Cornyn said.

...I think the bill is outstanding and deserves immediate consideration. I also think it gives the Democrats a lot of problems because of their anti energy pol…

Rationed health care a killer deal

From the Daily Mail:

Former NHS director dies after operation is cancelled four times at her own hospital
Why do the socialist love this government health care system?

'Wrong turn' into Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base

Their story does not make much sense.

Libya troops adopt rebel tactics

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BBC:

Ras Lanuf has now changed hands for the fourth time in three weeks. BBC world affairs editor John Simpson in Tripoli has been assessing the fighting.

Colonel Gaddafi's forces have changed their tactics.

The Libyan army has not always been known for its efficiency or its high morale.

Now though, it has shown a remarkable degree of flexibility, and has chosen to adopt tactics used by the rebels only a few days ago, when they were sweeping along the coastal road, apparently unstoppably, in the direction of Sirte.

The sudden turnaround of fortune is the result of several factors.

The first is that Colonel Gaddafi's army has decided to follow methods which the rebels have used so successfully.

Its men are racing forward in the ordinary flat-bed trucks known elsewhere in Africa as 'technicals', with heavy machine-guns or anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back.

Others are equipped with mortars. Though these are quite light, they often cause great panic among the rebels, …

Al Qaeda has leaders eager to get to Libya

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Image by Getty Images via @daylifeFrom the Daily Beast:

Al Qaeda's Libya Pilgrimage
Will they leave the Taliban when they are needed most?  It looks like they will split their meager forces and head for Libya, but it maybe over with when they get there.  The CIA is now trying to figure out who the opposition is in Libya.  They might decide to switch some of their drones to the area to go after the al Qaeda leaders who have been hiding in Pakistan.
Related articlesWashington may arm Al-Qaeda-linked Libyan rebels (rt.com)CIA Running Libyan Rebels (lewrockwell.com)CIA operatives reported on the ground in Libya (capitolhillblue.com)Gaddafi winning ground war, coalition battles on (rt.com)Moscow "alarmed" by reports of al-Qaeda presence in Libyan opposition (rt.com)

Row expected over the number of troops to leave Afghanistan this summer

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Image via WikipediaWashington Post:

Military leaders and President Obama’s civilian advisers are girding for battle over the size and pace of the planned pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer, with the military seeking to limit a reduction in combat forces and the White House pressing for a withdrawal substantial enough to placate a war-weary electorate.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top allied commander in Afghanistan, has not presented a recommendation on the withdrawal to his superiors at the Pentagon, but some senior officers and military planning documents have described the July pullout as small to insignificant, prompting deep concern within the White House.

At a meeting of his war cabinet this month, Obama expressed displeasure with such characterizations of the withdrawal, according to three senior officials with direct knowledge of the session. “The president made it clear that he wants a meaningful drawdown to start in July,” said one of the officials, who, like t…

Obama's Libya credibility gap

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Image via WikipediaRoss Douthat:

Addressing the nation Monday evening, President Obama suggested that the United States was in the process of reducing its military footprint in Libya, even as he explicitly rejected the idea of pursuing regime change in Tripoli by force of arms. Both statements seemed calculated to make our intervention seem tightly limited rather than open-ended. (“I want to be clear,” Obama said. “The United States of America has done what we said we would do.”) But two days later, both look dubious in the extreme.

No sooner had the president finished speaking than the Times’s Eric Schmitt came out with a story undercutting the idea that America can be just be one partner among many in the Libyan operation. (American military involvement, Schmitt reported, “is far deeper than discussed in public and more instrumental to the fight than was previously known.”) The next day in London, representatives of the allied powers took turns insisting that regime …

McCaul wants to label Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations

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Image via WikipediaHouston Chronicle:

In a potentially sweeping and politically charged escalation of the U.S. offensive against Mexican drug cartels, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, introduced legislation in Congress Wednesday to designate six murderous Mexican drug cartels "foreign terrorist organizations."

Such a designation by the State Department could expose Mexican drug traffickers and U.S. gunrunners to charges of supporting terrorism. McCaul spokesman Mike Rosen said it was the first time that a member of Congress had proposed the designation for the powerful Mexican drug gangs that have waged all-out war against Mexican security forces over the last five years, claiming nearly 35,000 lives.

McCaul, the former federal prosecutor and ex-deputy attorney general of Texas, unveiled the legislation as he raises his profile in Washington for a possible bid for statewide office. The next opening? The seat being vacated at the end of 2012 by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-…

Syria not serious about reform

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Image via WikipediaFarid Ghadry:

A week ago, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad proclaimed the imminent cancellation of the much-hated emergency law. As one Facebook dissident wrote, “Syrians want to cancel the law of Assad because it is causing the emergency.”

This week, in his first public appearance since the uprisings erupted, Assad delivered a speech before the Syrian parliament — to allege that the demonstrations are nothing but a foreign conspiracy to destabilize Syria.

This after two weeks during which some 200 hundred Syrians have been gunned down in cold blood, several hundred have been injured, and up to 5,000 activists for freedom and human rights have been detained under abhorrent prison conditions.

Though the speech centered on reforms, it dodged them more than any time in the past. There were no specifics. There was no timeline. And there was no clear commitment to any implementations. Assad went so far as to claim that “99.9% of the people complain about their salaries or jobs, t…

House Republicans looking for deeper cuts

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Image via WikipediaWashington Examiner:

House Republicans on Wednesday refused to yield in their pledge to uphold a campaign promise to reduce federal spending to 2008 levels despite an impasse with Democrats over the budget that threatens to shut down the government.

Republican lawmakers essentially thumbed their noses at the Democrats Wednesday by reintroducing legislation that would cut $61 billion through September, the end of the current fiscal year. The Senate, run by Democrats, has already rejected the plan and declared the cuts too steep to support.

But Republican leaders are facing increasing pressure from their large faction of fiscal conservatives, who in turn are getting an earful from the Tea Party activists who helped elect them to Congress. Tea Party groups are planning a rally at the Capitol Thursday to pressure Republicans to hold their ground in the budget talks and refuse to settle for fewer cuts.

The GOP bill would not only reinstate their original budget-cutting le…

AARP health insurance profits set to soar under Obamacare

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Robert Bluey:

An 18-month congressional investigation into AARP reveals that the organization stands to make more than $1 billion over the next 10 years from Obamacare, a law the seniors lobby supported despite opposition among its core constituency.

AARP, which operates as a tax-exempt organization in Washington, would profit from an increase in its insurance business, specifically from the sale of Medicare products to older Americans. The lucrative business has already transformed AARP into an insurance powerhouse. If it were a for-profit business, AARP would rank as the sixth-largest insurance company in America with profits of $427 million in 2009.

AARP’s revenues exploded following passage of the Medicare Part D law during the Bush administration and will continue to grow as a result of Obamacare, according the House Ways and Means Committee report. That’s because an estimated 7 million seniors will lose Medicare Advantage plans — a consequence of Obamacare — and shift to

Obama's Chu story hard to swallow

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Image via WikipediaCharlie Sperling:

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"Last year, when we were trying to fill -- figure out how to close the cap, I sent Chu down to sit in the BP offices, and he essentially designed the cap that ultimately worked, and he drew up the specs for it and had BP build it, construct it." Obama said praising Chu's abilities.

But wasn't a 'mystery plumber' credited to have done the same thing back in July 2010?

The Christian Science Monitor noted at the time that BP has received 300,000 ideas from around the world and it was nearly impossible to track down the source of the design.

...I think the "mystery plumber" was tracked down to a guy in Canada who called in the suggestion.  Perhaps Chu heard the description and refined it, but I do not think he could get a patent on the idea.   Perhaps Obama was just using the story for some self deprecating humor about his Noble Prize.
Related articlesNever Letting a Good Crisis Go to Waste (erg…

Union thug threaten businesses

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Image via WikipediaRed States:

Well, that didn’t take long. Union threats that were somewhat isolated a couple of weeks ago are now gaining in popularity among union bosses in Wisconsin. Business owners are now receiving threatening letters telling them that, if they don’t support government-sector unions, their businesses will be boycotted.

...There is more.

The Unions are certainly creating a hostile environment for those who are not their supporters. It has been a long time since we have seen this kind of thuggery. It is the kind of thing that makes me want to vote against all Democrats who support this nonsense.
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Drug cartels getting most heavy weapons from Central America

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Image via WikipediaFox News:

The most fearsome weapons wielded by Mexico's drug cartels enter the country from Central America, not the United States, according to U.S. diplomatic cables disseminated by WikiLeaks and published here Tuesday by La Jornada newspaper.

Items such as grenades and rocket-launchers are stolen from Central American armies and smuggled into Mexico via neighboring Guatemala, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City reported to Washington.

The assertions appear in embassy cables written after three bilateral conferences on arms trafficking that took place between March 2009 and January 2010 in Cuernavaca, Mexico; Phoenix; and Tapachula, Mexico, respectively.

The cables' authors note that Mexican officials and politicians never hesitate to remind U.S. diplomats that Mexico's drug war - which has claimed 35,000 lives in the last four years - is fueled by Americans' demand for illegal drugs and by guns bought in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Yet one of the ca…

Taliban leadership under attack in areas they thought were safe

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Image via WikipediaNY Times:

The Afghan Taliban are showing signs of increasing strain after a number of killings, arrests and internal disputes that have reached them even in their haven in Pakistan, Afghan security officials and Afghans with contacts in the Taliban say.

The killings, coming just as the insurgents are mobilizing for the new fighting season in Afghanistan, have unnerved many in the Taliban and have spread a climate of paranoia and distrust within the insurgent movement, the Afghans said.

Three powerful Taliban commanders were killed in February in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, well known to be the command center of the Taliban leadership, according to an Afghan businessman and a mujahedeen commander from the region with links to the Taliban. A fourth commander, a former Taliban minister, was wounded in the border town of Chaman in March, in a widely reported shooting.

There have also been several arrests in Pakistan of senior Taliban commanders, including…

Obama's failed energy policies

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Image by DonkeyHotey via FlickrSarah Palin:

It’s unbelievable (literally) the rhetoric coming from President Obama today. This is coming from he who is manipulating the U.S. energy supply. President Obama is once again giving lip service to a “new energy proposal”; but let’s remember the last time he trotted out a “new energy proposal” – nearly a year ago to the day. The main difference is today we have $4 a gallon gas in some places in the country. This is no accident. This administration is not a passive observer to the trends that have inflated oil prices to dangerous levels. His war on domestic oil and gas exploration and production has caused us pain at the pump, endangered our already sluggish economic recovery, and threatened our national security. Through a process of what candidate Obama once called “gradual adjustment,” American consumers have seen prices at the pump rise 67 percent since he took office. Meanwhile, the vast undeveloped reserves that could help to …

Libya Foreign Minister defects to UK

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Image by Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας via FlickrBBC:

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa is in Britain and "no longer willing" to work for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime, the Foreign Office says.

He flew into an airport near the capital earlier on Wednesday.

He has subsequently spent hours talking to British officials.

His apparent defection comes as rebels in Libya are retreating from former strongholds along the eastern coast as Colonel Gaddafi's forces advance.

...I suspect he maybe trying to negotiate an exit for the Qaddafi clan. He has been on the phone with several diplomats discussing the possibility and this maybe the only way for him to have the direct contact needed to work a deal I suppose it is also possible that he does not feel safe around Col Qa-daffy.
Related articlesLibya: William Hague hints at Muammar Gaddafi exile - BBC News (news.google.com)Summit to discuss Libya after Obama defends war (guardian.co.uk)Hague hints at exile for Gaddaf…

Energy? What's that?

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Image via WikipediaIBD:

President Obama wants to cut oil imports by a third after telling Brazil he wants to be their best customer. Cellulosic ethanol won't cut it, and neither will talking out of both sides of your teleprompter.

In a Georgetown University address that echoed President Jimmy Carter's "moral equivalent of war" speech in 1977, the president on Wednesday outlined his plan to reduce oil imports by one-third over the next decade.

Carter, too, set the goal of reducing oil imports by a third through conservation, increased fuel efficiency, more use of ethanol and other alternative energy sources, and the wearing of more sweaters.

There was nothing new in Obama's version. It didn't work then. It won't work now.

It's hard to square the president's words with a seven-year offshore drilling ban in effect off both coasts and Alaska's continental shelf and in much of the Gulf of Mexico, with a de facto moratorium covering the rest.

Is this…

Shell gets first deep water permit in new area

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Image via WikipediaHouston Chronicle:

The federal government today granted Shell the first permit to drill a new deep-water exploration well proposed since last year’s Gulf spill, marking a major milestone for the oil and gas industry and offshore regulators.

Under the move, Shell Oil Co. will be allowed to drill the first of three deep-water wells in the Gulf of Mexico about 250 miles southeast of Houston that were outlined in the company’s just-approved offshore exploration plan.

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Environmentalists are poised to challenge the government’s approval of both the exploration plan and the drilling permit issued today, setting up a legal battle that could determine not just whether Shell’s project can go forward, but whether federal regulators can move swiftly to green light others like it.

...The anti energy left is still determined to make it unprofitable to drill for oil and gas. What is needed is a way to sanction these people who bring frivolous lawsuits to thwart our ability to g…

CIA sends spooks to Libya

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Image by Getty Images via @daylifeNY Times:

The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and make contacts with rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials.

While President Obama has insisted that no American ground troops join in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks and are part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help set back Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said.

The C.I.A. presence comprises an unknown number of American officers who had worked at the spy agency’s station in Tripoli and those who arrived more recently. In addition, current and former British officials said, dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers are working inside Libya. The British operatives have been directing airstrikes from British Tornado jets and gathering int…