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9951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hide the numbers! on: July 20, 2009, 11:06:32 AM

White House putting off budget update
By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer Tom Raum, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 1 min ago
WASHINGTON – The White House is being forced to acknowledge the wide gap between its once-upbeat predictions about the economy and today's bleak landscape.

The administration's annual midsummer budget update is sure to show higher deficits and unemployment and slower growth than projected in President Barack Obama's budget in February and update in May, and that could complicate his efforts to get his signature health care and global-warming proposals through Congress.

The release of the update — usually scheduled for mid-July — has been put off until the middle of next month, giving rise to speculation the White House is delaying the bad news at least until Congress leaves town Aug. 7 on its summer recess.

The administration is pressing for votes before then on its $1 trillion health care initiative, which lawmakers are arguing over how to finance.

The White House budget director, Peter Orszag, said on Sunday that the administration believes the "chances are high" of getting a health care bill by then. But new analyses showing runaway costs are jeopardizing Senate passage.

"Instead of a dream, this routine report could be a nightmare," Tony Fratto, a former Treasury Department official and White House spokesman under President George W. Bush, said of the delayed budget update. "There are some things that can't be escaped."

The administration earlier this year predicted that unemployment would peak at about 9 percent without a big stimulus package and 8 percent with one. Congress did pass a $787 billion two-year stimulus measure, yet unemployment soared to 9.5 percent in June and appears headed for double digits.

Obama's current forecast anticipates 3.2 percent growth next year, then 4 percent or higher growth from 2011 to 2013. Private forecasts are less optimistic, especially for next year.

Any downward revision in growth or revenue projections would mean that budget deficits would be far higher than the administration is now suggesting.

Setting the stage for bleaker projections, Vice President Joe Biden recently conceded, "We misread how bad the economy was" in January. Obama modified that by suggesting the White House had "incomplete" information.

The new budget update comes as the public and members of Congress are becoming increasingly anxious over Obama's economic policies.

A Washington Post-ABC News survey released Monday shows approval of Obama's handling of health-care reform slipping below 50 percent for the first time. The poll also found support eroding on how Obama is dealing with other issues that are important to Americans right now — the economy, unemployment and the swelling budget deficit.

The Democratic-controlled Congress is reeling from last week's testimony by the head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, that the main health care proposals Congress is considering would not reduce costs — as Obama has insisted — but "significantly expand" the federal financial responsibility for health care.

That gave ammunition to Republican critics of the bill.

Citing the CBO testimony, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Monday accused Democrats of "burying this budget update until after Congress leaves town next month." He called the budget-update postponment "an attempt to hide a record-breaking deficit as Democratic leaders break arms to rush through a government takeover of health care."

White House budget office spokesman Tom Gavin disagreed, noting the delay was "really not something out of the norm" and is typical for a president's first year. Gavin noted that President George W. Bush's budget office did not release the mid-session review in his first year until August 22; in President Bill Clinton's first year, it did not come out until Sept. 1.

Obama also didn't release his full budget until early May — instead of the first week in February, when he put out just an outline

Late last week, Obama vowed anew that "health insurance reform cannot add to our deficit over the next decade and I mean it."

The nation's debt — the total of accumulated annual budget deficits — now stands at $11.6 trillion. In the scheme of things, that's more important than talking about the "deficit," which only looks at a one-year slice of bookkeeping and totally ignores previous indebtedness that is still outstanding.

Even so, the administration has projected that the annual deficit for the current budget year will hit $1.84 trillion, four times the size of last year's deficit of $455 billion. Private forecasters suggest that shortfall may actually top $2 trillion.

Budget updates in previous administrations have given rise to charges that the White House was manipulating its figures to offer too rosy an outlook. Critics will be watching closely when the White House's Office of Management and Budget releases the new numbers.

Still, the update mainly involves plugging in changes in economic indicators, not revising program-by-program details. And indicators such as unemployment and gross domestic product changes have been public knowledge for some time.

Standard & Poor's chief economist David Wyss said part of the problem with the administration's earlier numbers is that "they were just stale," essentially put together by budget number-crunchers at the end of last year, before the sharp drop in the economy.

Wyss, like many other economists, says he expects the recession to last at least until September or October. "We're looking for basically a zero second half (of 2009). And then sluggish recovery," he said.

Even as it prepares to put larger deficit and smaller growth figures into its official forecast, the administration is looking for signs of improvement.

"If we were at the brink of catastrophe at the beginning of the year, we have walked some substantial distance back from the abyss," said Lawrence Summers, Obama's chief economic adviser.
9952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 19, 2009, 06:21:03 PM
Funny, I recall JDN dishonestly smearing Michelle Malkin, the US military and being an uninformed buffoon at best. No loss in my book.
9953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: July 15, 2009, 05:19:19 PM
Yes, Debka is the Weekly World News of OSINT. (Batboy joins al qaeda!)

I almost didn't post the article because it was mentioned. Still, the important point of the article was that AQ and other have and will continue to target commercial aviation for mass casualty attacks.

This isn't "the last war", this is one of the major threats we face.
9954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: July 15, 2009, 09:11:16 AM
- Pajamas Media - -

Foiling the Next 9/11 and Not Even Knowing It
Posted By Ryan Mauro On July 14, 2009 @ 12:00 am In . Column2 05, . Positioning, Crime, Homeland Security, US News | 91 Comments

The United States may have narrowly missed a repeat of the 9/11 attacks in June — and, apparently, even the FBI doesn’t realize it.

On June 4, a 24-year-old Muslim man named Raed Abdhul-Rahman Alsaif was [1] arrested for trying to bring a seven-inch knife on board a U.S. Airways flight at Tampa International Airport, destined for Phoenix. The blade was seen by a screener and Alsaif was caught before he could get onto the airliner. Of course, he says he is innocent, as some forgetful friend gave him the luggage bag and failed to mention that a knife was embedded inside the material, which the criminal complaint [2] states was “artfully” concealed in such a way as to allow for it to be retrieved once the flight took off.

Alsaif graduated from the Islamic Saudi Academy in Virginia in 2003. For those that don’t remember, this school has been embroiled in a little bit of controversy the past two years. In October 2007, the U.S. Commission on International Religion Freedom [3] requested that the State Department close the school, citing the use of textbooks filled with extremism. The commission again [4] reported on the school’s radical curriculum in June 2008. One graduate has been convicted of [5] working with al-Qaeda, while two former students were [6] kicked out of Israel upon landing due to clear signs they were planning suicide bombings.

Private investigator Bill Warner [7] notes that when Alsaif was booked and photographed by police in October on his second arrest on drug charges, he had a beard — a beard that was shaven off before he attempted to board the U.S. Airways flight. For those that think this is all attributable to coincidence, there’s another key element to consider.

On the same day, June 4, two other individuals, Roshid Milledge and Damien Young, were [8] arrested in Philadelphia after sneaking a handgun onto a flight. The airline? U.S. Airways. The destination? Phoenix. The departing time? About [9] 35 minutes from the flight Alsaif attempted to board, using the same airliner and with the same destination.

The FBI immediately cast doubt on questions that the two were part of a terrorist plot or even connected to Alsaif.

“This investigation represents an isolated incident, involving only these two individuals,” the FBI press release following their arrest [8] states.

I don’t know what’s more frightening: the fact that the FBI so readily dismissed the remarkably similar arrests as unconnected, or the fact that in the latter case, the handgun actually made it on board the aircraft and the suspects were only apprehended after another passenger reported them as engaging in suspicious behavior. The aircraft was then turned around and brought back to the gates.

Luckily, the FBI does appear to have common sense and the tone has changed. A spokesperson has [10] said, “We don’t know if there is a connection, but we are checking it out.”

However, the fact remains that the FBI prematurely dismissed a possible connection, reflecting a desire to immediately squash speculation about a wider plot. Either the FBI was aware of the similarities in the arrests and deliberately misled the public, or they failed to look into other data indicating a wider conspiracy before making a conclusion. Either way, it does not reflect well upon the FBI.

The hit-or-miss Israeli website Debkafile [11] reported on July 7 that U.S. and German intelligence believes that 15-20 al-Qaeda terrorists have been trained in Pakistan and Algeria and are now hiding in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, and Egypt. Their mission, according to the report, is to hijack and bomb Western airliners headed to Israel and the United States.

Are we really to believe these three events are unrelated — the arrest of Milledge and Young, the arrest of Alsaif, and the reported warning about attacks on airliners?

The good news is that a 9/11 plot may have been thwarted. The bad news is that the public and possibly the FBI are unaware that they even have had a success, failing to connect obvious dots. If the coincidences of these cases are not addressed and if they are attributed to chance, then we’ve truly fallen out of the post-9/11 mindset and only a disaster will wake us up.

Article printed from Pajamas Media:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:
[1] arrested:
[2] states:

[3] requested:
[4] reported:

[5] working with al-Qaeda:
[6] kicked out of Israel:
[7] notes:

[8] arrested:
[9] 35 minutes:
[10] said:
[11] reported:
9955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: July 15, 2009, 09:10:14 AM
Schneier is to security what Obama is to economic or foreign policy.  rolleyes
9956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: July 15, 2009, 08:59:44 AM

Al-Qaeda vows to hit China over Uighur unrest
By Polly Hui – 1 day ago

HONG KONG (AFP) — Al-Qaeda is threatening for the first time to attack Chinese interests overseas in retaliation for the deaths of Muslims in the restive region of Xinjiang, according to a risk analysis group.
The call for reprisals against China comes from the Algerian-based offshoot Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), according to a summary of its report sent to AFP by the international consultancy Stirling Assynt.
"Although AQIM appear to be the first arm of Al-Qaeda to officially state they will target Chinese interests, others are likely to follow," said the report, which was first divulged by the South China Morning Post Tuesday.
Osama bin Laden's network has not previously threatened China, but the Stirling report said a thirst for vengeance over Beijing's clampdown in Xinjiang was spreading over the global jihadist community.
Hundreds of thousands of Chinese work in the Middle East and North Africa, including 50,000 in Algeria, estimated the group, which has offices in London and Hong Kong providing risk advice to corporate and official clients.
"This threat should be taken seriously," Stirling said, basing its information on people who it said had seen the AQIM instruction.
"There is an increasing amount of chatter ... among jihadists who claim they want to see action against China.
"Some of these individuals have been actively seeking information on China's interests in the Muslim world, which they could use for targeting purposes."
Stirling said the extremist group could well target Chinese projects in Yemen in a bid to topple the Beijing-friendly government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The intelligence firm also noted Al-Qaeda's killing of 24 Algerian security officers who were meant to be protection for Chinese engineers three weeks ago.
"On that occasion they did not attack the Chinese engineers because the target was the project on which they were working.
"Now, future attacks of this kind are likely to target security forces and Chinese engineers alike," the report said.
The most likely scenario would be that Al-Qaeda's central leadership would encourage their affiliates in North Africa and the Arabian peninsula to attack Chinese targets near at hand, it said.
Al-Qaeda centrally does "not want to open a new front with China," the analysis said.
"But equally their sense of Muslim solidarity compels them to help and/or to be seen to be helping. This is also a factor in helping the organisation regain support and funding from their global constituency."
Chinese authorities have said that riots in the Xinjiang city of Urumqi by Muslim Uighurs on July 5 left 184 people dead -- most of whom were Han, China's dominant ethnic group -- and more than 1,600 injured.
Uighur leaders accuse Chinese forces of opening fire on peaceful protests, in the latest unrest to rock the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang.
Chinese authorities have previously blamed low-level attacks on Xinjiang's East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which Beijing, the United States and the United Nations list as a terrorist organisation.
China has also said that ETIM militants have received some training and funding from Al-Qaeda.
However, many experts have told AFP that they doubt the ETIM is a major threat in Xinjiang, and some lawmakers in the United States are pushing for the terrorist label to be lifted.
The US government meanwhile last month released four Uighurs from the Guantanamo Bay detention site, years after clearing them of any wrongdoing. Beijing's bid to have them extradited was denied and they are now in Bermuda.
9957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: July 15, 2009, 08:51:13 AM
Somehow, I doubt that NorK kiddies are behind the cyber-attacks. How many NorK households have a computer and access to the net?
9958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 14, 2009, 11:34:14 AM

Read this and tell me how great gov't health care is.
9959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 14, 2009, 11:31:23 AM

An American government health-care system you should know

Over the last few months, as Barack Obama’s plans to transform the health-care industry in America have proceeded, I have written extensively on the two existing government-run health-care systems and their myriad problems: Medicare/Medicaid and the VA.  It seems I missed a third that may be worse than either or perhaps both combined.  Mary Clare Jalonick of the Associated Press provides an eye-opening report on Indian Health Service, a single-payer system that rations care to Native Americans on reservations across the country — and kills them through neglect and a severe lack of resources:

On some reservations, the oft-quoted refrain is “don’t get sick after June,” when the federal dollars run out. It’s a sick joke, and a sad one, because it’s sometimes true, especially on the poorest reservations where residents cannot afford health insurance. Officials say they have about half of what they need to operate, and patients know they must be dying or about to lose a limb to get serious care.

Wealthier tribes can supplement the federal health service budget with their own money. But poorer tribes, often those on the most remote reservations, far away from city hospitals, are stuck with grossly substandard care. The agency itself describes a “rationed health care system.”

The sad fact is an old fact, too.

The U.S. has an obligation, based on a 1787 agreement between tribes and the government, to provide American Indians with free health care on reservations. But that promise has not been kept. About one-third more is spent per capita on health care for felons in federal prison, according to 2005 data from the health service.

Without a doubt, the people on the reservations represent some of the poorest of the poor in America.  Yet we already have a single-payer system in place to provide health care to Native Americans on these reservations.  Do we properly fund it?  Do we make sure that enough resources are applied to ensure good health care?  Not at all.  It is, as the agency itself describes, a system of rationing medical resources, and the end result is a poor population unable to seek out its own care locked into a system that only works when someone is on death’s door.

In fact, as Jalonick reports, it often doesn’t recognize when a patient faces death.  Jalonick profiles the heartrending case of Ta’Shon Rain Little Light, who began complaining of stomach pains at the age of 5, and stopped eating and playing.  The overwhelmed clinic diagnosed her as depressed, and ten subsequent visits to the clinic over the next several months while Ta’Shon’s symptoms worsened didn’t change the diagnosis.  Only when she suffered a collapsed lung did IHS airlift her to Denver, where Ta’Shon was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Could it have been treated?  We’ll never know, thanks to a diagnostic service that appears to be just above the wild-guess level on the reservation.

When government owns the nation’s health-care system, we can all look forward to the same level of care.  After all, as Obama himself insists, a government-run system will “save costs,” but he never explains how those costs get saved.  We will all go into the rationing-system grinder, just as veterans do with the VA, seniors and disabled do with Medicare, and Native Americans do with IHS.
9960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: July 13, 2009, 09:18:33 PM
"Enough shovels of earth -- a mountain. Enough pails of water -- a river."

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

"With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown."

China has been positioning it's pieces for decades. America's current weakness and China's internal pressures may well force China's hand.
9961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: July 12, 2009, 05:02:40 PM

China could attack India before 2012, claims analyst

Press Trust of India, Sunday July 12, 2009, New Delhi

A leading defence expert has projected that China will attack India by 2012 to divert the attention of its own people from "unprecedented" internal dissent, growing unemployment and financial problems that are threatening the hold of Communists in that country.

"China will launch an attack on India before 2012. There are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century," Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, has said.

Verma said the recession has "shut the Chinese exports shop", creating an "unprecedented internal social unrest" which in turn, was severely threatening the grip of the Communists over the society.

Among other reasons for this assessment were rising unemployment, flight of capital worth billions of dollars, depletion of its foreign exchange reserves and growing internal dissent, Verma said in an editorial in the forthcoming issue of the premier defence journal.

In addition to this, "The growing irrelevance of Pakistan, their right hand that operates against India on their behest, is increasing the Chinese nervousness," he said, adding that US President Barak Obama's Af-Pak policy was primarily Pak-Af policy that has "intelligently set the thief to catch the thief".

Verma said Beijing was "already rattled, with its proxy Pakistan now literally embroiled in a civil war, losing its sheen against India."

"Above all, it is worried over the growing alliance of India with the US and the West, because the alliance has the potential to create a technologically superior counterpoise.

"All these three concerns of Chinese Communists are best addressed by waging a war against pacifist India to achieve multiple strategic objectives," he said.

While China "covertly allowed" North Korea to test underground nuclear explosion and carry out missile trials, it was also "increasing its naval presence in South China Sea to coerce into submission those opposing its claim on the Sprately Islands," the defence expert said.

He said it would be "unwise" at this point of time for a recession-hit China to move against the Western interests, including Japan. "Therefore, the most attractive option is to attack a soft target like India and forcibly occupy its territory in the Northeast," Verma said.

But India is "least prepared" on ground to face the Chinese threat, he says and asks a series of questions on how will India respond to repulse the Chinese game plan or whether Indian leadership would be able to "take the heat of war".

"Is Indian military equipped to face the two-front wars by Beijing and Islamabad? Is the Indian civil administration geared to meet the internal security challenges that the external actors will sponsor simultaneously through their doctrine of unrestricted warfare?

"The answers are an unequivocal 'no'. Pacifist India is not ready by a long shot either on the internal or the external front," the defence journal editor says.

In view of the "imminent threat" posed by China, "the quickest way to swing out of pacifism to a state of assertion is by injecting military thinking in the civil administration to build the sinews. That will enormously increase the deliverables on ground -- from Lalgarh to Tawang," he says.
9962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism on: July 11, 2009, 06:07:00 PM
Makes sense to me.
9963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tick, tick, tick on: July 10, 2009, 02:53:55 PM

Commercial Real Estate Is a ‘Time Bomb,’ Maloney Says (Update2)

By Dawn Kopecki

July 9 (Bloomberg) -- The $3.5 trillion commercial real estate market is a ticking “time bomb” that may lead to a second wave of losses at large U.S. banks, congressional Joint Economic Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said.

About $700 billion in commercial mortgages will need to be refinanced before the end of 2010 and “doing nothing is not an option,” Maloney, a New York Democrat, said at a committee hearing today. This “looming crisis” may lead to significant losses for banks, force shopping center and hotel owners into bankruptcy, and impede economic recovery, she said.

The response by banks to this “growing threat has been slow and inadequate,” said James Helsel, a partner at RSR Realtors in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and treasurer for the National Association of Realtors. “The lack of liquidity and banks’ reluctance to extend lending are also becoming apparent in the increasing level of delinquent properties.”

There were 5,315 commercial properties in default, foreclosure or bankruptcy at the end of June, more than twice the number at the end of last year, with hotels and retail among the most “problematic,’ Real Capital Analytics Inc. said in a report yesterday. Losses on commercial mortgage-backed securities, or CMBS, will total 9 percent to 12 percent of the market, or as much as $90 billion, said Richard Parkus, a research analyst for Deutsche Bank Securities in New York.

Bottom Not Near

The bottom is several years away, and it will be at least 2012 before there is “palpable improvement” in the commercial real estate market, Parkus told lawmakers at the hearing. “It’s hard to imagine fundamentals improving in an environment where we are beginning to see massive increases in defaults.”

The largest concentration of distressed properties is in New York City, Helsel said. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Detroit, Phoenix, Chicago, Dallas and Boston also have high distress rates, he said.

A tightening in issuance of CMBS, which used to account for about 30 percent of financing, has exacerbated problems, Jon D. Greenlee, the Federal Reserve’s associate director for banking supervision and regulation, said in prepared testimony today. A disproportionately high number of small and medium-sized banks have “sizable exposure” to commercial real estate loans, and delinquency rates at around 7 percent in the first quarter are almost double from a year ago, he said.

“Market participants anticipate these rates will climb higher by the end of this year, driven not only by negative fundamentals but also borrowers’ difficulty in rolling-over maturing debt,” Greenlee said. “In addition, the decline in CMBS has generated significant stresses on the balance sheets of institutions that must mark these securities to market.”

Fed Programs

The Federal Reserve has expanded its Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF, to new and existing commercial mortgage backed securities to jump start the market. Maloney said the Public Private Investment Program, or PPIP, may also help with the problem as officials release more details of its potential use.

Maloney said the TALF program expires at the end of this year, which may short cut its effectiveness “just as it begins to ramp up.” She also said that uncertainty about the future of the PPIP has kept many investors “on the sidelines, so there’s some urgency to the Treasury providing additional clarity about the program.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dawn Kopecki in Washington at

Last Updated: July 9, 2009 12:14 EDT
9964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 09, 2009, 10:14:27 AM

Economist declares 'train wreck'
By: Victoria McGrane
July 8, 2009 04:50 AM EST

If you thought last week’s job numbers were bad, take a look at the latest from Morgan Stanley’s chief economist, Richard Berner.

In a research note that’s been making the rounds of economics blogs this week, Berner declares that “America’s long-awaited fiscal train wreck is now under way.”

By “train wreck,” he means out-of-control federal budget deficits that he’s sure will finally drag the economy under — as if we weren’t already feeling badly enough about its shaky state.

“Depending on policy actions taken now and over the next few years, federal deficits will likely average as much as 6 percent of [the gross domestic product] through 2019, contributing to a jump in debt held by the public to as high as 82 percent of GDP by then — a doubling over the next decade,” Berner writes on Morgan Stanley’s online Global Economic Forum.

“Worse, barring aggressive policy actions, deficits and debt will rise even more sharply thereafter as entitlement spending accelerates relative to GDP. Keeping entitlement promises would require unsustainable borrowing, taxes or both, severely testing the credibility of our policies and hurting our long-term ability to finance investment and sustain growth,” he adds. “And soaring debt will force up real interest rates, reducing capital and productivity and boosting debt service.”

“Not only will those factors steadily lower our standard of living,” Berner concludes, “but they will imperil economic and financial stability.”

Wall Street POLITICO is a weekly column looking at issues that drive business.
9965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 07, 2009, 10:18:00 PM

So libs, is 173 MPH ok because Obama is sooooooo dreamy?
9966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: July 07, 2009, 01:19:25 PM

U.S. warns of multiple al-Qaida plots
July 7, 2009 - 7:15am
Intelligence suggests al Qaida operatives are planning to plant multiple explosive devices in several locations. (AP File Photo) J.J. Green,
WASHINGTON - Last week, German authorities discovered that groups of terrorists may have been dispatched from training bases in Pakistan to launch crippling attacks.

In April, U.S. intelligence officials warned Germany about possible terror attacks. Since that time German security officials have reportedly been preparing for massive, multi-layered attacks for which al-Qaida has become known.

Shortly after the April warning, German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth said in an unrelated interview, "You will understand that I can't go into the details of the terrorist threat, but I can only tell you that we all know that we have to be vigilant and that we have to continue to work very hard on that, but I do not want to go into details."

Intelligence suggests al-Qaida operatives are planning to plant multiple explosive devices in several locations and detonate them either in a simultaneous or sequential fashion.

U.S. and German intelligence sources say that strategy is designed to emulate the ones employed Bali in 2002 and Madrid in 2004. The idea is to draw in first responders to the scene after the first explosion, and then the subsequent explosions are set off in the same location to inflict maximum casualties.

A U.S. intelligence source with knowledge about the situation says "it is a credible threat, which also includes Germans in North Africa."

They say as a minimum of 12 al-Qaida operatives who were trained in the tribal region of Pakistan have left the training camps and are headed back to their home countries. Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Egypt are just some of those countries.

According to the source, the threat levels also were raised for many other Western European countries to include concerns for "Turkish Airlines flying passengers from Istanbul to the U.S., the UK and Israel."

The source says "passengers traveling out-bound from Istanbul to those locations on July Fourth were segregated, screened multiple times, including their bags and told there were concerns for Turkish Airlines flights to these locations."

Another source headed to Chicago from Istanbul said they were told that there was a specific threat against Turkish Airlines flights headed to those places.

In the U.S., Turkish Airlines flies to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Tampa and Chicago.

U.S. Intelligence and German media sources indicate the warning came from the U.S. government, but the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had arrived at the same conclusion after picking up chatter that al-Qaida is planning an attack during the run-up to the Bundestag election to try to force Germany to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Scharioth is well aware of why Germany is a target.

"We are the third biggest troop contributor in Afghanistan, and we are also the fourth biggest contributor of civilian efforts, training and reconstruction and also trying to help the country to redo the education system, give more girls a chance to get an education and all those things - that's one thing," Scharioth says.

The operatives are thought to be skilled in obtaining, assembling and the detonation of explosives that could damage large buildings, disable transit systems and create mass casualties.

This alleged plot is only a part of what concerns Scharioth. A number of rogue nations may be on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons and opening the door to al-Qaida to get ahold of them.

"We have to address the problem of nuclear proliferation because we would be very concerned, if say in 15-20 years, you have 20 nuclear weapon countries and of course the more nuclear weapon countries you have, the greater the risk and you also have to protect those nuclear weapons [so they don't fall into the wrong hands]," Scharioth says.

Scharioth says he's grateful that the U.S. and Germany are allies. He praises the cooperative effort given the alternative.

"We believe that the Cold War was dangerous enough. We were very close to a very, very bad situation and everybody who was bearing responsibility can tell you just how close we came," Scharioth says.

The German government is reportedly concerned enough about this new threat that it is contemplating changes to its emergency response measures
9967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: July 06, 2009, 07:03:10 PM
Best post, ever!
9968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Green Light? on: July 06, 2009, 06:47:58 PM

SUNDAY, JULY 05, 2009

The Green Light?
A pair of reports, published this weekend, suggest that Israel has received tacit permission for a raid against Iran's nuclear facilities.

The first account, from the U.K. Telegraph, claims that Saudi Arabia has assured Israel that it will "cast a blind eye" to IAF jets flying over the kingdom, during any potential raid against nuclear targets in Iran.

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Earlier this year Meir Dagan, Mossad’s director since 2002, held secret talks with Saudi officials to discuss the possibility.

The Israeli press has already carried unconfirmed reports that high-ranking officials, including Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, held meetings with Saudi colleagues. The reports were denied by Saudi officials.

“The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia,” a diplomatic source said last week.

Use of Saudi airspace would solve enormous logistical, planning and tactical challenges for the IAF. Without a direct route (through Saudi Arabia or Iraq), Israeli pilots would be forced to use corridors through Turkey or around the Arabian Peninsula. As we noted more than three years ago, longer routes put added pressure on Israel's small tanker fleet, which would be used to re-fuel strike aircraft on the Iran mission.

Estimates vary on the exact numbers of tankers in the IAF inventory, but most analysts believe there are only 5-7 KC-707s. These aircraft would be an integral part of any long-range mission to Iran, providing aerial refueling and (possibly) command-and-control functions, such as radio relay. Israeli aircraft use the same "boom" refueling system as the USAF; fighters maneuver behind the tanker as the "boom operator" extends the refueling probe into the refueling receptacle of the receiving aircraft. Once contact is established, the tanker begins pumping fuel to the receiver, at a rate of several hundred pounds per minute.

The number of tankers available, coupled with their potential offload, will limit the size of any Israeli strike package. Again, estimates on the size of the formation vary (depending on the number of targets to be struck, fighter payload, target distance and airspeed), but many analysts believe the Israelis would launch 4-5 tankers, supporting no more than 30 strike aircraft, divided roughly between F-15Is and F-16Is (which would attack the nuclear facilities) and other F-15s and F-16s, flying air defense suppression and air superiority missions. Divide the number of "bombers" (say 15) by the number of nuclear complexes (four), and you'll see that the IAF has virtually no margin for error.

Flying across Saudi airspace would not only decrease in-flight refueling requirements, it could also allow the IAF to add additional strike aircraft to the package, and increase their munitions load, improving prospects for success. Utilizing a corridor through Saudi Arabia would also provide "plausible denial" for two of Israel's most important allies, Turkey (which controls northern approaches to Iran), and the United States, which controls Iraqi airspace.

But if securing the Saudi route is critically important--and it is--why leak the information? A couple of possibilities come to mind. First, there's the chance that someone in Israel or Saudi Arabia decided to leak the information, trying to deter the attack for political reasons.

Secondly, the leak may be designed to send a message to Iranian leaders. Saudi complicity means that Israel has overcome one of the last major obstacles in striking Iran's nuclear facilities. That means an attack would come at any time, giving the mullahs something to contemplate as they set strategy in Ahmadinejad's second presidential term.

The announcement about the Saudi air route came just days after another disclosure from Tel Aviv. Late last week, the Defense Ministry disclosed that an Israeli Dolphin-class recently transited the Suez Canal in June. It was the first IDF warship to use the waterway in years, and signals improving relations between Israel and Egypt. The transit also gives Israeli subs direct access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, putting them closer to possible targets in Iran.

According to various defense and press accounts, Israel's newest subs are capable of launching cruise missiles through their torpedo tubes. Details on the weapons system remain sketchy; some analysts believe the cruise missile is a modified Harpoon or Popeye with limited range. Others suggest a long-range weapon, capable of hitting targets up to 750 miles away. Whatever its capabilities, the cruise missile gives Israel another option for striking Iran.

There are also indications that the U.S. will not stand in the way if Israel attacks Tehran's nuclear facilities. In an interview on ABC's "This Week," Vice President Joe Biden said the Israelis are free to set their own course on Iran. According to the AP, Biden's remarks suggest the administration is adopting a "tougher" stance toward Tehran, although the vice president still holds out hope for talks with the Iranians.

Given Mr. Biden's penchant for verbal slips and gaffes, it's hard to say if his comments actually reflect administration policy, or he was simply free-lancing once again. Assuming his remarks are consistent with White House views, then it looks like the Obama team may be accepting the inevitable.

In other words, Tehran has no plans to give up its nuclear program, and Israel will not allow Iran to get the bomb. That makes an Israeli strike almost inevitable, and there's only so much the U.S. can do to prevent it.

Besides, even the "diplomacy first" crowd that dominates the White House and State Department must recognize the bottom line. If the Israelis go after Iran, they will be doing the world a favor, and (possibly) prevent a regional conflagration. It's the sort of bold action that-- in another time--might be openly endorsed by the U.S. But in today's political environment, tacit approval is about as good as it gets.
9969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China vs. Islam on: July 06, 2009, 10:57:36 AM

ASIA NEWS JULY 6, 2009, 11:32 A.M. ET
Scores Reported Dead in China After Riots

SHANGHAI -- The official death toll in riots in China's northwestern Xinjiang region rose sharply Monday, with the government saying that 140 had been killed in what appears to be one of the deadliest episodes of unrest in China in decades.

Police said at least 828 other people were injured in violence that began Sunday in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. Witnesses said the conflicts pitted security forces against demonstrators, and members of the region's Turkic-speaking Uighur ethnic group against members of the country's Han Chinese majority. Many among the predominantly Muslim Uighurs have chafed at Chinese government rule.

The official tally of dead and injured increased Monday as more information came out of Urumqi through the state-run Xinhua news agency, although it appeared that most or all of the violence had ended by the early hours of Monday.

Xinhua quoted Liu Yaohua, a senior police official in Xinjiang, as saying that rioters had burned 261 vehicles, including 190 buses and two police cars, several of which were still ablaze as of Monday morning. Mr. Liu said the death toll of 140 "would still be climbing."

As evening fell in Urumqi Monday, witnesses said that paramilitary troops of the People's Armed Police, backed by armored personnel carriers, were patrolling largely calm city streets. Many businesses remained shuttered and gates of the city's central bazaar, which was the scene of unrest Sunday night, were closed.

Police said they were still searching for dozens of people suspected of fanning the violence. Several hundred people have already been arrested in connection with the riot, police said, and the government said it was bringing "ethnic officials" from nearby areas to help with interrogations.

Uighur activists said hundreds of Uighurs, many of them students, had gathered Sunday to protest racial discrimination and call for government action against the perpetrators of an attack last month on Uighur migrant workers at a toy factory in southern China. In that incident, a group of Han Chinese broke into a factory dormitory housing Uighur workers. State media reported that two people were killed. Uighur groups say the death toll may have been higher.

The protests appear to have spun out of control late Sunday, with clashes between protestors and police as well as ethnic violence around the city. Xinhua's report Monday said that 57 dead bodies had been "retrieved from Urumqi's streets and lanes," while the remaining fatalities were confirmed dead at hospitals.

An official in the nursing department of one of Urumqi's largest hospitals, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region People's Hospital, said the hospital received 291 people injured in the unrest. Seventeen of them died, and more than 20 others were in critical condition on Monday night.

The official said that 233 of the injured were Han Chinese, 39 were Uighurs and the rest belonged to other ethnic minority groups. Seven of the injured had gunshot wounds, she said.

Uighurs have long complained about restrictions on their civil liberties and religious practices imposed by a Chinese government fearful of political dissent in strategically important Xinjiang, which covers one-sixth of China's territory and is also an important oil-and-gas-producing region.

Many Uighurs resent what they see as economic and social discrimination by the majority Han Chinese, who have migrated to Xinjiang in growing numbers. Some Uighurs, seeking independence from China, have waged sporadic and at times violent campaigns against the government.

Pictures said to be of the Sunday's protests distributed by the Washington-based Uyghur American Association showed young Uighurs marching in Urumqi, in some cases carrying the Chinese flag. Pictures also showed phalanxes of helmeted police in riot gear, with shields and batons.

Demonstrators clashed with the police, witnesses said, and rioters smashed shops and attacked buses. "Most were young Uighurs. They were smashing everything on the street," said one Han Chinese man who works as a driver.

Another Han Chinese man, who owns a shop in the city's central bazaar, said he saw Uighurs "with big knives stabbing people" on the street. He said crowds of Hans and Uighurs were fleeing the violence. "They were targeting Han, mostly," he added. "We need to hide inside for a few more days."

The government blamed the unrest on a prominent exiled Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uyghur Congress, an activist group. Sunday's demonstration was "instigated and directed from abroad," according to a government statement cited by Xinhua.

Alim Seytoff, vice president of the Uyghur American Association, dismissed the government's claim, saying, "Every time something happens, they blame Ms. Kadeer." He added: "It's really the Chinese government's heavy-handed policies that create such protests and unrest."

Unrest in Xinjiang mounted last year, as some Uighurs sought to emulate widespread antigovernment demonstrations in Tibetan areas. There were several violent incidents around the time of last summer's Beijing Olympics, including an attack on a border-police unit that left 16 dead. Ten militants died after another attack with improvised explosives in a Xinjiang city on the first weekend of the Games.

Write to Gordon Fairclough at and Jason Dean at
9970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 05, 2009, 09:34:47 PM
In general, conservatism is working from ideas that are proven to work while "liberalism" is generally based on fantasy and emotion.
9971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 05, 2009, 09:41:13 AM
Nouriel "Dr. Doom" Roubini is right, but I think things will be even worse than what he predicts. Then again, I expected the Dow to be in the 6000 range by now.
9972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 03, 2009, 06:33:09 PM

North Korean-Burmese alliance grows closer

Any room for one more in the Axis of Evil Alternative Ethics Outlook?  Burma, called Myanmar by the ruling military junta, sent its military leaders to North Korea for secret talks last year, resulting in a closer military and economic alliance just coming to light now, according to the Telegraph.  Pyongyang has begun supplying the Burmese regime with weapons in defiance of UN arms embargos on both countries:

A 37-page document in Burmese obtained by Radio Free Asia detailed a visit by 17 Burmese officials, including General Thura Shwe Mann, the chief of staff of the army and Burma’s third-ranked leader, to Beijing and Pyongyang last November.

The stated aim of the visit was “to modernize the Burmese military and increase its capabilities through visiting and studying the militaries” of China and North Korea, and a memorandum of understanding was signed with North Korea counterparts on November 27.

The report also says the Burmese delegation was shown North Korean surface-to-air missiles and rockets, along with naval and air defense systems and tunnel construction, including how Pyongyang stores aircraft and ships underground to protect them from aerial attack.

None of this comes as any great shock, as Pyongyang needs all the customers it can get for its weapons systems, and Burma needs weapons systems to maintain its iron grip on power.  The path of the Kang Nam, the North Korean ship trailed by the US Navy and suspected of illegal gun-running, originally appeared to lead to Burma, before American pressure forced it to turn around.  This revelation confirms that Kim Jong-Il has turned the rogue nation of Burma into a client state.

If we needed more proof of Kim’s inclination to act as a proliferator, it would be difficult to find anything better.  He partners with fellow rogue states to move weapons around the world while his people starve to death.  The only action that will get his attention is a blockade, which is why Kim keeps threatening war when the US and its Pacific Rim allies attempt to impose it.  It may not be a bluff; if we cut off his ability to sell weapons, Kim will have no choice but to either surrender to the six-party agenda or to attempt to seize the entire Korean peninsula.
9973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 03, 2009, 06:29:04 PM

Changing Course

For more than a week, the USS John S. McCain has been shadowing a North Korean merchant vessel, believed to be carrying illegal weapons.

Now that ship--the Kang Nam--appears to be heading back home. As the AP reports:

U.S. officials said Tuesday that a North Korean ship has turned around and is headed back toward the north where it came from, after being tracked for more than a week by American Navy vessels on suspicion of carrying illegal weapons.

The move keeps the U.S. and the rest of the international community guessing: Where is the Kang Nam going? Does its cargo include materials banned by a new U.N. anti-proliferation resolution?

Originally, the North Korean cargo vessel was believed enroute to Myanmar, carrying a load of missile parts. The two rogue nations have drawn closer in recent years, although Myanmar has little need for ballistic missiles. However, various intelligence agencies and anti-proliferation groups have reported that Pyongyang has been attempting to sell missiles to the Myanmar regime since 2005.

There is also the possibility that Myanmar was merely a trans-shipment point, but those reports are also unconfirmed. With U.S. naval vessels trailing the Kang Nam--and hints that we might board and search the vessel--North Korea decided to recall the ship and its cargo.

Still, no one can actually be sure the the Kang Nam is heading back to the DPRK. In the past, North Korean ships involved in illicit activities (most notably, drug running) have operated from Chinese coastal waters. Under that scenario, the vessel would rendez-vous with another ship and transfer the cargo.

However, given the constant surveillance of the Kang Nam, accomplishing that transfer would be difficult, if not impossible. It's also unlikely that Beijing would want to be associated with that activity, particularly as U.S. envoys press China to put more pressure on Pyongyang.

The most likely scenario? In a few days, the Kang Nam slips back into port at Nampo, and the cargo is unloaded. Then, it's shipped to Sunan Airfield, near Pyongyang, and loaded onto an IL-76 transport, which flies the cargo to the customer.

As we noted almost three years ago, North Korea has long used airlift to move high-value cargo to its most important clients, including Iran. And that illustrates a rather serious "hole" in current efforts to contain Pyongyang. While the U.S. (and other naval powers) are actively tracking DPRK maritime shipments, there is no comparable effort for air transfers.

In some cases, those shipments would be almost impossible to stop. With a lighter load, an IL-76 can fly non-stop from North Korea to Iran. However, those flights do require direct routing (through Chinese or Russian airspace). Without it, North Korea or Iranian airlifters would be forced to make refueling stops, providing an opportunity for the U.S. to lobby for third-party inspections, or deny access to the airfields.

As with other attempts to pressure Pyongyang, China would be a key player in eliminating the air option. But (apparently) there are limits to Beijing's cooperation. Intelligence reports indicate that North Korean IL-76s sometimes use Chinese airfields during flights to the Middle East. Without more assistance from the PRC, North Korea's "air bridge" will remain open, and Kim Jong-il will retain a critical option for shipping missile and WMD cargoes to his customers.
9974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: July 03, 2009, 09:26:39 AM
This is who they are:
9975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's worst fcukup thus far on: July 02, 2009, 09:12:33 AM

Missing Our Moment in Iran
Obama’s policy is a lose/lose proposition that will please neither side.

By Victor Davis Hanson

Last month, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest a rigged presidential election. Our president was extremely cautious in his initial criticism of the Iranian government’s fierce crackdown against the protestors. At first, President Obama said that the United States — given our history in Iran — should not be “meddling” in the country’s internal affairs.

Obama suggested that the leading opposition candidate, the reformer Mir-Hossein Mousavi, might not be that different from the entrenched theocracy’s choice, the incumbent (and declared winner of the June election) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Finally, as both the crowds in the Iranian streets and the violence against them increased over the next several days, Obama conceded that he was “appalled” at the clerics’ repression.

In defense of the president’s hesitation, some of his supporters argued that our initial neutrality was aimed at not spoiling the administration’s earlier efforts at outreach to Iran’s Islamist regime. We were taking the realistic long view, they added, in which negotiations with the clerics might still curb Iran’s nuclear-weapon aspirations and their support for terrorism. As Obama’s U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, put it, the  “legitimacy” of the regime was “not the critical issue in terms of our dealings with Iran.”

Perhaps Obama also wishes to avoid former President Bush’s muscular approach in the Middle East, which ended up in costly efforts to foster legitimate constitutional governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, after removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.

Unfortunately, Obama’s policy is a lose/lose proposition that will please neither side in Iran. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, isn’t suddenly going to embrace the U.S. because of Obama’s more charismatic approach, much less stop subsidizing terrorists and developing a nuclear arsenal.

For over three decades, the Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II administrations all reached out — both overtly and covertly — to the Iranian theocracy, with offers of normalizing relations, secret arms deals, back-channel meetings, and occasional apologies. But the clerics today are as anti-American as they were in 1979. And they’re still rounding up, killing, and torturing dissidents in the same manner that they used to consolidate power after the fall of the Shah.

In addition, our belated, tepid criticism of the repressive Iranian government may not translate into goodwill from Iranian advocates for freedom — given our painful silence in the early days of the demonstrations, when achieving global support was critical.

And what about other pro-democracy dissidents abroad — whether in Cuba, the Arab world, or Venezuela? Will they still trust that the U.S. supports their efforts to obtain a free society?

Meanwhile, authoritarians in China, North Korea, Russia, the Middle East, and South America may draw two unfair and unfortunate conclusions. One, the United States does not care much what other regimes do to their own people. Two, a new America will overlook almost anything in order just to get along with these authoritarians.

But is the U.S. at least consistent in its promises not to meddle?

Not all the time.

When Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in Israel, the Obama administration made its distaste clear. It also has tried to find ways to isolate Hamid Karzai’s elected government in Afghanistan — and was initially not happy about the prospects of its reelection.

Most recently, the U.S. condemned the Honduran military’s arrest of Pres. Manuel Zelaya. The nation’s supreme court had found his efforts to extend his presidential tenure in violation of its constitution, once Zelaya tried to finesse an illegal third term.

In other words, the U.S. pressures other nations as it pleases — though strangely now more to lean on friends than to criticize rivals and enemies.

In contrast, had President Obama voiced early, consistent, and sharp criticism of the Iranian crackdown, the theocracy would have worried that the president’s stature could have galvanized global boycotts and embargos to isolate the theocracy and aid the dissidents. And the reformers in the streets could have become even more confident with a trademark Obama “hope and change” endorsement.

Internal democratic change in Iran is the only peaceful solution to stopping an Iranian bomb, three decades of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, and a Middle East arms race. When thousands risked their lives for a better Iran, a better Middle East, and a better world, we, the land of the free, simply were not with them.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. © 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

National Review Online -
9976  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Security issues on: July 01, 2009, 08:55:16 AM
 I suggest everyone "red team" their home/business/lifestyle. Take a walk around your residence after dark and look for vulnerabilities. How constant are your patterns. How predictable are you?
9977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 01, 2009, 08:37:35 AM
This just in!

Michael Jackson......still dead.

Details at 11:00
9978  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Security issues on: June 30, 2009, 11:03:47 PM
Cultivating awareness of one's surroundings. Noting patterns and any deviations from the standard patterns around your home/work.
9979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: June 30, 2009, 10:49:22 PM
June 29, 2009
Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship


"Harder to kill than a vampire." That is what the sociologist Joel Best calls a bad statistic. But, as I have discovered over the years, among false statistics the hardest of all to slay are those promoted by feminist professors. Consider what happened recently when I sent an e-mail message to the Berkeley law professor Nancy K.D. Lemon pointing out that the highly praised textbook that she edited, Domestic Violence Law (second edition, Thomson/West, 2005), contained errors.

Her reply began:

"I appreciate and share your concern for veracity in all of our scholarship. However, I would expect a colleague who is genuinely concerned about such matters to contact me directly and give me a chance to respond before launching a public attack on me and my work, and then contacting me after the fact."

I confess: I had indeed publicly criticized Lemon's book, in campus lectures and in a post on I had always thought that that was the usual practice of intellectual argument. Disagreement is aired, error corrected, truth affirmed. Indeed, I was moved to write to her because of the deep consternation of law students who had attended my lectures: If authoritative textbooks contain errors, how are students to know whether they are being educated or indoctrinated? Lemon's book has been in law-school classrooms for years.

One reason that feminist scholarship contains hard-to-kill falsehoods is that reasonable, evidence-backed criticism is regarded as a personal attack.

Lemon's Domestic Violence Law is organized as a conventional law-school casebook — a collection of judicial opinions, statutes, and articles selected, edited, and commented upon by the author. The first selection, written by Cheryl Ward Smith (no institutional affiliation is given), offers students a historical perspective on domestic-violence law. According to Ward:

"The history of women's abuse began over 2,700 years ago in the year 753 BC. It was during the reign of Romulus of Rome that wife abuse was accepted and condoned under the Laws of Chastisement. ... The laws permitted a man to beat his wife with a rod or switch so long as its circumference was no greater than the girth of the base of the man's right thumb. The law became commonly know as 'The Rule of Thumb.' These laws established a tradition which was perpetuated in English Common Law in most of Europe."

Where to begin? How about with the fact that Romulus of Rome never existed. He is a figure in Roman mythology — the son of Mars, nursed by a wolf. Problem 2: The phrase "rule of thumb" did not originate with any law about wife beating, nor has anyone ever been able to locate any such law. It is now widely regarded as a myth, even among feminist professors.

A few pages later, in a selection by Joan Zorza, a domestic-violence expert, students read, "The March of Dimes found that women battered during pregnancy have more than twice the rate of miscarriages and give birth to more babies with more defects than women who may suffer from any immunizable illness or disease." Not true. When I recently read Zorza's assertion to Richard P. Leavitt, director of science information at the March of Dimes, he replied, "That is a total error on the part of the author. There was no such study." The myth started in the early 1990s, he explained, and resurfaces every few years.

Zorza also informs readers that "between 20 and 35 percent of women seeking medical care in emergency rooms in America are there because of domestic violence." Studies by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, indicate that the figure is closer to 1 percent.

Few students would guess that the Lemon book is anything less than reliable. The University of California at Berkeley's online faculty profile of Lemon hails it as the "premiere" text of the genre. It is part of a leading casebook series, published by Thomson/West, whose board of academic advisers, prominently listed next to the title page, includes many eminent law professors.

I mentioned these problems in my message to Lemon. She replied:

"I have looked into your assertions and requested documentation from Joan Zorza regarding the March of Dimes study and the statistics on battered women in emergency rooms. She provided both of these promptly."

If that's the case, Zorza and Lemon might share their documentation with Leavitt, of the March of Dimes, who is emphatic that it does not exist. They might also contact the Centers for Disease Control statistician Janey Hsiao, who wrote to me that "among ED [Emergency Department] visits made by females, the percent of having physical abuse by spouse or partner is 0.02 percent in 2003 and 0.01 percent in 2005."

Here is what Lemon says about Cheryl Ward Smith's essay on Romulus and the rule of thumb:

"I made a few minor editorial changes in the Smith piece so that it is more accurate. However, overall it appeared to be correct."

A few minor editorial changes? Students deserve better. So do women victimized by violence.

Feminist misinformation is pervasive. In their eye-opening book, Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies (Lexington Books, 2003), the professors Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge describe the "sea of propaganda" that overwhelms the contemporary feminist classroom. The formidable Christine Rosen (formerly Stolba), in her 2002 report on the five leading women's-studies textbooks, found them rife with falsehoods, half-truths, and "deliberately misleading sisterly sophistries." Are there serious scholars in women's studies? Yes, of course. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, an anthropologist at the University of California at Davis; Janet Zollinger Giele, a sociologist at Brandeis; and Anne Mellor, a literary scholar at UCLA, to name just three, are models of academic excellence and integrity. But they are the exception. Lemon's book typifies the departmental mind-set.

Consider The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World (2008), by the feminist scholar Joni Seager, chair of the Hunter College geography department. Now in its fourth edition, Seager's atlas was named "reference book of the year" by the American Library Association when it was published. "Nobody should be without this book," says the feminist icon Gloria Steinem. "A wealth of fascinating information," enthuses The Washington Post. Fascinating, maybe. But the information is misleading and, at least in one instance, flat-out false.

One color-coded map illustrates how women are kept "in their place" by restrictions on their mobility, dress, and behavior. Somehow the United States comes out looking as bad in this respect as Somalia, Uganda, Yemen, Niger, and Libya. All are coded with the same shade of green to indicate places where "patriarchal assumptions" operate in "potent combination with fundamentalist religious interpretations." Seager's logic? She notes that in parts of Uganda, a man can claim an unmarried woman as his wife by raping her. The United States gets the same low rating on Seager's charts because, she notes, "State legislators enacted 301 anti-abortion measures between 1995 and 2001." Never mind that the Ugandan practice is barbaric, that U.S. abortion law is exceptionally liberal among the nations of the world, and that the activism and controversy surrounding the issue of abortion in the United States is a sign of a vigorous free democracy working out its disagreements.

On another map, the United States gets the same rating for domestic violence as Uganda and Haiti. Seager backs up that verdict with that erroneous and ubiquitous emergency-room factoid: "22 percent-35 percent of women who visit a hospital emergency room do so because of domestic violence."

The critical work of 21st-century feminism will be to help women in the developing world, especially in Muslim societies, in their struggle for basic rights. False depictions of the United States as an oppressive "patriarchy" are a ludicrous distraction. If American women are as oppressed as Ugandan women, then American feminists would be right to focus on their domestic travails and let the Ugandan women fend for themselves.

All books have mistakes, so why pick on the feminists? My complaint with feminist research is not so much that the authors make mistakes; it is that the mistakes are impervious to reasoned criticism. They do not get corrected. The authors are passionately committed to the proposition that American women are oppressed and under siege. The scholars seize and hold on for dear life to any piece of data that appears to corroborate their dire worldview. At the same time, any critic who attempts to correct the false assumptions is dismissed as a backlasher and an anti-feminist crank.

Why should it matter if a large number of professors think and say a lot of foolish and intemperate things? Here are three reasons to be concerned:

1) False assertions, hyperbole, and crying wolf undermine the credibility and effectiveness of feminism. The United States, and the world, would greatly benefit from an intellectually responsible, reality-based women's movement.

2) Over the years, the feminist fictions have made their way into public policy. They travel from the women's-studies textbooks to women's advocacy groups and then into news stories. Soon after, they are cited by concerned political leaders. President Obama recently issued an executive order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls. As he explained, "The purpose of this council is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy." He and Congress are also poised to use the celebrated Title IX gender-equity law to counter discrimination not only in college athletics but also in college math and science programs, where, it is alleged, women face a "chilly climate." The president and members of Congress can cite decades of women's-studies scholarship that presents women as the have-nots of our society. Never mind that this is largely no longer true. Nearly every fact that could be marshaled to justify the formation of the White House Council on Women and Girls or the new focus of Title IX application was shaped by scholarly merchants of hype like Professors Lemon and Seager.

3) Finally, as a philosophy professor of almost 20 years, and as someone who respects rationality, objective scholarship, and intellectual integrity, I find it altogether unacceptable for distinguished university professors and prestigious publishers to disseminate falsehoods. It is offensive in itself, even without considering the harmful consequences. Obduracy in the face of reasonable criticism may be inevitable in some realms, such as partisan politics, but in academe it is an abuse of the privileges of professorship.

"Thug," "parasite," "dangerous," a "female impersonator" — those are some of the labels applied to me when I exposed specious feminist statistics in my 1994 book Who Stole Feminism? (Come to think of it, none of my critics contacted me directly with their concerns before launching their public attacks.) According to Susan Friedman, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, "Sommers' diachronic discourse is easily unveiled as synchronic discourse in drag. ... She practices ... metonymic historiography." That one hurt! But my views, as well as my metonymic historiography, are always open to correction. So I'll continue to follow the work of the academic feminists — to criticize it when it is wrong, and to learn from it when it is right.

Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the author of Who Stole Feminism? (Simon & Schuster, 1994) and The War Against Boys (Simon & Schuster, 2000), and editor of The Science on Women and Science, forthcoming from the AEI Press.
Section: The Chronicle Review
9980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Where is the outrage? on: June 27, 2009, 05:20:02 PM
Milt, Rogt, JDN?

Obama prepares to hold Gitmo guys indefinitely, just as Bush did

In yet another sign of political perfidy, the White House of President George W. Bush has drafted a presidential executive order that would allow that double-dealing Republican chief executive to hold suspected terrorist detainees indefinitely.

According to the president's intentions, such suspects could be detained for long periods of time, virtually indefinitely. Is this really what the nation voted for last November?

Oh, wait. No. According to an exclusive Washington Post/Pro Publica report this afternoon, it's the refreshing new Democratic administration of Barack Obama that's now preparing this new executive order to hold certain terrorist suspects indefinitely.

This is an obviously inspiring sign of the new style of leadership the Democrat promised and is finally bringing to the White House. As one blogger put it, George W. Obama. And it shows the kind of powerful political pragmatism with which the ex-senator from Illinois approaches this job at such a crucial and globally turbulent time.Strangely, it was leaked to the Post on a slow summer Friday afternoon when it wouldn't gain much attention.

According to the Post report, the 44th president is now starting to think that closure of the internationally-reviled Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which Obama announced with so much fanfare on his first day in office last winter, may be impossible to actually accomplish before the one-year deadline he set for himself before actually planning where else to put these prisoners.

In other words, fanfare aside, status quo ante. Democrat or Republican, same deal. Ex-Vice President Dick Cheney will be so pleased that the Obama-Biden folks finally accepted his advice to protect national security.

Another sign, finally, of real change after eight long years of the very same thing.

-- Andrew Malcolm
9981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: June 23, 2009, 01:57:18 PM

Perfectly captures our President on Iran.
9982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: June 21, 2009, 10:17:04 PM
- Works and Days - -

“This Is the Moment”?
Posted By Victor Davis Hanson On June 20, 2009 @ 4:10 pm In Uncategorized | 95 Comments

Let Me Count the Ways Why Obama Should at Last Speak Out ( —I write this at around noon on Saturday, and suspect the pressure of public outrage will soon get to Obama, and he soon will recant and start sounding Reaganesque)


(As in something like this:


“Hundreds of thousands of gallant Iranians are now engaged in a non-violent moral struggle against tyranny in Iran-one of the great examples of bravery in our times. All free peoples of the world watch their ordeal, and can only wish them success, while owing them a great deal of gratitude for risking their lives for the innate and shared notion of human freedom and dignity. We in the United States ask the government of Iran—as well as its military and security forces — to recognize the universal appeal of freedom that flourishes among its own remarkable people, to stand down and renounce its serial use of violence and coercion-and to ensure a truly free election where the voices of all can be at last fully heard, so that  Iran can once more properly reenter  the family of law-biding nations”.)


So why speak out louder? (Does not Obama see that the world has been given a rare chance, thanks to brave Iranians—as if the German people had risen up in 1938 in fear of what was on the horizon)


1)   It is the moral and right thing to do to support the brave and idealistic (the Congressional Democrats mostly get this. And, after a week of embarrassment, the “I worship whoever runs the White House” pundits are not far behind and scrambling to retract and revise last week’s obsequious columns.). The dissidents in fact can win in this new age of private instant communications, in which global news is not predicated on elite correspondents and news desks editors, but can flow globally and instantaneously, unfiltered, with unforeseen consequences.)


2)   The theocracy is a fiendish regime that hides behind third-world victimhood while it murders and promotes terror abroad. When it totters, the world sighs relief from Iraq to Lebanon; when it chest-thumps, thousands die at home and abroad.



3)   Of the three ways to stop a nuclear theocracy-(regime change, preemption, embargo), supporting the opponents of the regime is the most logical, peaceful, and cost-effective-and has the best chance of success. (Ask the worried surrounding Arab frontline countries).



4)    There is a long bipartisan American history of supporting dissidents who were fighting for election fairness abroad in Poland, Serbia, Latin America, and South Africa. (Does Obama think Mandela did not wish words of support from America? Why then would he think the Iranians being shot at in the streets would not wish moral clarity from the prophet of Cairo?). The Europeans (and even the Arab world) are way ahead of us.


5)   Obama’s realpolitik is flawed: 1) if the mullahs win, they will have greater contempt for our timidity; 2) if the dissidents win, they will not forget our realistic fence-sitting; 3) you can never believe (ever) anything the mullahs say or do. Negotiating with them is like signing a pact with Hitler. They are afraid of US voiced support for the dissidents, not the dissidents themselves who ask for our solidarity. If anything, the theocrats grasp that their own do not want a nuclear confrontation with Israel in which the people would be sacrificial pawns. Again and again, the dissidents have repeated that they are tired of being hated in the world as Ahmadinejad’s Iranians, not that they wanted Obama’s America to be less critical of Ahmadinejad.

…. And Why He Has Not:


1)   Our President has always been a trimmer-voting present serially in Illinois; proclaiming broad new positions on the campaign trail only to disown them while President; rhetorically always splitting the difference with ‘on the one hand, on the other’, ’some, they, others say’, ‘I don’t accept false choices…’ etc. So now he waits to see who wins. And then will provide the soaring rhetoric postfacto to suggest that he was either the careful realist all along who foresaw the dissidents’ failure-or the enthusiastic moralist who always really did cheer on the mullahs’ demise. Robert Gibbs has both scripts already fed into the bookend A and B teleprompters.





2)   It’s a personal thing that interferes with Obama’s ego, and messianic personal diplomacy.  Obama himself is not comfortable with those abroad who emulate American values and seek to have the freedoms and rights we take for granted. The post-colonial industry mandates that the Other is a perpetual victim of colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and racism with justified grievances. Only elite American intellectuals of singular insight and empathy understand the calculus of the oppressed, and so, through apologies, accommodations, and concessions, they alone on our behalf can deal with an Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Ortega, Castro, Morales, Nasrallah, etc. But when we see a purple-finger election, a statue of liberty at Tiananmen, or the current Levi-clad, cell-phoning, English-placard-carrying Iranian grassroots resistance, all the above is rendered null and void. Obama wants to rise above his country; but when his country is not held in disrepute (as is true among the Iranian people), he is an actor without a role.


People abroad really do prefer freedom and true constitutional government to autocratic grievance mongers who loot their country and brutalize the free. In such conditions, old-fashioned Americans, often inarticulate and perhaps clumsy, but honest in their belief in the universal appeal of human freedom, do better than all the nuanced Kennedy School intellectuals (e.g. They laughed at the reductionist  “Tear Down This Wall” and “Evil Empire” and apparently preferred “No Inordinate Fear of Communism”). So a deer-in-the-headlights Obama wonders, ‘Wait, why aren’t they shouting the boilerplate ‘Death to America!’ and invoking, like I did, 1953 and the CIA crimes? Don’t they know the things that we did to them and I apologized for? Don’t they see that I am as separate from the US of the 1950s as they are? What’s this grass-roots rejection of an anti-Western, anti-colonialist indigenous Iranian government all about? (cf. his moral equivalent comparison of Mousavi to Ahmadinejad as equally anti-American).



3)   Obama is clueless. Hillary knows more, but not that much more (Bill knows less as his 2005 Davos disastrous encomium of Iran proved). Biden, well, is Biden. The brighter like Holbrooke serve on the second tier.  In short, no one knows now to whom do you apologize? And if to no one, what then do you do? We’re back to sorta, sorta not shoot the pirates, kinda, kinda not stop the Koreans, maybe, maybe not keep renditions, tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, and drone attacks-or why didn’t someone brief me on the problems with closing Guantanamo before I promised the world at end to our American Gulag?





4)   He’s addicted to the ossified Iraqi paradigm of “Bush intervened and caused a mess” (Free Iraq is apparently still equivalent to Saddam’s Iraq), so “I don’t want to follow his lead” (as if vocal support now is the same as shock and awe then). Somewhere in stone a lie is chiseled “Iraq made Iran stronger”. He doesn’t see the footnote: “But if Iraqi democracy survives, it fuels emulation in neighboring Iran and does more to undermine the theocracy than all the F-22s in the world”. Who knows-if Iranian freedom spreads, some nut might praise Bush’s commitment to Middle East freedom in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, and not Obama’s apologetics at Cairo? (Free Shiites in Iraq are far better for Iran than either oppressed minorities under Saddam, or Saddam’s opportunistic dictatorship). Bottom line again: Obama needs to forget Ahmadinejad and talk daily with Maliki.




5) His entire anti-Bush foreign policy is then in trouble. We’ve heard for eight years a cheap slur of “neo-cons” did it, not that in the dangerous world abroad there are no good choices, but supporting freedom is usually the better alternative if one must choose. If a peaceful democratic revolution succeeds in Iran, then what happens with “outreach” to Putin, Chavez, and Hamas? The new liberal realpolitik insisted that we don’t offer moral judgment, and was framed instead by winning the hearts and minds of tyrants through humbling ourselves and meae culpae. But if these democracies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and an Iran (?) were to succeed, then what? You would not go to Chavez and promise first to talk about shared colonial racist oppression, but rather say to the Venezuelan people, “We stand with you in your struggle to achieve freedom and dignity and to join the other democracies of Latin America”? That is not just in the cards, and so Iran, is well, a monkey-wrench.


For now, watch the Iranian army and police. If one battalion bolts, then . . .

Article printed from Works and Days:

URL to article:
9983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 21, 2009, 10:18:35 AM


June 20, 2009 --
When Barack Obama was running for president, he vigorously reassured voters of his firm commitment to America's special relationship with Israel. Indeed, he worked to beef up his pro-Israel bona fides long before he even announced his intention to run. In a 2006 speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama recounted a helicopter tour over the Israeli border with the West Bank. "I could truly see how close everything is and why peace through security is the only way for Israel," he said. In that same speech, Obama called the Jewish State "our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy." During the primary and general election campaigns, Obama dispatched a stream of high-profile Jewish supporters to canvas Florida, and in a 2008 AIPAC speech, he went so far as to declare that Jerusalem must remain the "undivided" capital of Israel.

For all the qualms that anti-Obama "smears" would depress support in the Jewish community, Jews rewarded Obama with nearly 80% of their votes, more than they gave John Kerry.

Just six months into the new administration, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that those who harbored suspicions about Obama's approach to the Middle East had good reason to be worried. A confluence of factors -- including his administration's undue pressure on Israel, a conciliatory approach to authoritarian Muslim regimes, and the baseless linkage of the failed "peace process" to the curtailment of the Iranian nuclear program -- point to what could become "the greatest disagreement between the two countries in the history of their relationship," as Middle East expert Robert Satloff recently told Newsweek.

This dramatic shift in American policy began several months ago when the administration signaled that it would make the cessation of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank the centerpiece of its policy to revamp the region. And that approach, mostly hinted at through anonymous leaks, became as good as official when Obama delivered his vaunted address to the Muslim world in Cairo earlier this month. In that speech, Israel (and, specifically, its policy of settlement construction) was the only state to merit specific criticism from the president of the United States. Among all the degradations and injustices in the Middle East, from the abhorrent treatment of women in nations like Saudi Arabia, to Syrian-backed assassinations of pro-sovereignty politicians in Lebanon, to the arrest and imprisonment of gay men in Egypt, the leader of the free world singled out America's one, reliable democratic ally in the region for rebuke.

Obama's strategic worldview assumes that once the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, other problems in the Middle East will be easier to fix, if not solve themselves. "We understand that Israel's preoccupation with Iran as an existential threat," National Security Advisor Jim Jones told George Stephanopoulos last month. "We agree with that. And by the same token, there are a lot of things that you can do to diminish that existential threat by working hard towards achieving a two-state solution."

By establishing this connection, the fate of the entire region thus hinges upon the resolution of a problem that hasn't had a solution for over six decades. This is an awfully convenient view for those who enjoy the status quo, which is why so many Arab despots cling to it, and it's discouraging to see the Obama administration joining them.

"Linkage" is faulty for two reasons. The first is intrinsic to the peace process itself, as it is going nowhere. And it will continue to go nowhere for at least as long as Hamas -- a terrorist organization constitutionally committed to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews -- rules the Gaza Strip, which it has controlled since violently seizing power in the summer of 2007. But it's not just Hamas that remains hesitant to work with Israel. To see the continued intransigence of the Palestinians, witness their bizarre reactions to Benjamin Netanyahu's momentous speech last week, in which the Israeli Prime Minister, for the first time in his career, announced his support for the two-state solution so obsessively demanded by the international community. The Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt denounced Netanyahu's pledge as "nothing but a hoax." The PLO Executive Committee Secretary called Netanyahu a "liar and a crook" who is "looking for ploys to disrupt the peace endeavor." A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that, "The speech has destroyed all peace initiatives and [chances for] a solution." And these are the so-called "moderates."

The second reason why "linkage" is a faulty premise, and why the Obama administration is so foolish to pursue it, is that the problems of the Middle East are not inspired by the lack of a Palestinian state. The biggest crisis in the Middle East right now is Iran's mad quest for nuclear weapons. Nothing even comes close. Even the Arab states -- whose citizens, we are told, cannot rest due to Palestinian statelessness -- are letting the world know that their foremost concern is a revolutionary Islamic theocracy with nuclear weapons (As the dramatic and inspiring street protests in Tehran over the past week have amply demonstrated, what really rouses the Muslim "street" is the venality and cruelty of the region's authoritarian governments, not far-off Zionists reluctant to give Palestinians a state).

These regimes know that Iran, thus armed, will be able to act with far greater impunity that it already does, causing more trouble for coalition forces in Iraq, ordering its proxy armies of Hamas and Hezbollah to ramp up attacks on Israel and stir chaos in Lebanon, and support radical elements throughout the region. It would also set off a regional arms race, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt as the next likely proliferators. Yet the Obama administration does not seem to realize that stopping an Iranian nuclear bomb ought take precedence over the stalled "peace process."

In his otherwise admirable remarks about the significance of the Holocaust and the hatefulness of its denial in his Cairo speech, Obama did further damage by paying obeisance to the Arabs' false narrative about Israeli's creation. In neglecting to affirm the Jews' historic claim on the land of Israel, Obama confirmed the Arab belief that they are paying for the crimes of mid-twentieth century Europe. However awful the misfortune that befell them, Obama's narrative -- in the minds of his audience -- portrays the Jews, however awful their misfortune, as occupiers, not indigenous neighbors.

The Cairo speech provided Obama with an opportunity to call on the Muslim world to acknowledge that Jews are as much a part of the Middle East and its history as are Persians and Arabs, Sunnis and Shia, Druz and Christians. He failed in that task.

Unfortunately, the President seems to be paying no domestic political price for turning on Israel. Given the historic support that the American public has shown for the Jewish State, this is in and of itself a disturbing sign. But when an American administration's rhetoric and diplomacy render Israel the obstinate actor and portray its supposed recalcitrance as the main obstacle to peace, public opinion will follow.

The percentage of American voters who call themselves supporters of Israel has plummeted from 69% last September to 49% this month, according to the Israel Project. Meanwhile, only 6% of Jewish Israelis consider Obama to be "pro-Israel," a Jerusalem Post poll found, pointing to a disturbing gulf between the two nations. There are even signs of rising anti-Semitism, as a survey by Columbia and Stanford professors found that 32% of Democrats blamed Jews for the financial crisis.

Obama is turning America against Israel, for what exactly? The false hopes of improved relations with Arab nations and a nuclear-equipped Iran. That is not what he promised in his campaign, and neither a fair practice or a fair trade.

James Kirchick is an assistant editor of The New Republic and a Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow.
9984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: June 20, 2009, 04:30:53 PM

June 20, 2009, 6:00 a.m.

Neutrality Isn’t an Option
You always have a dog in the fight, whether you know it or not.

By Mark Steyn

The polite explanation for Barack Obama’s diffidence on Iran is that he doesn’t want to give the mullahs the excuse to say the Great Satan is meddling in Tehran’s affairs. So the president’s official position is that he’s modestly encouraged by the regime’s supposed interest in investigating some of the allegations of fraud. Also, he’s heartened to hear that OJ is looking for the real killers. “You've seen in Iran,” explained President Obama, “some initial reaction from the Supreme Leader that indicates he understands the Iranian people have deep concerns about the election . . . ”

“Supreme Leader”? I thought that was official house style for Barack Obama at Newsweek and MSNBC. But no. It’s also the title held by Ayatollah Khamenei for the last couple of decades. If it sounds odd from the lips of an American president, that’s because none has ever been as deferential in observing the Islamic republic’s dictatorial protocol. Like President Obama’s deep, ostentatious bow to the king of Saudi Arabia, it signals a fresh start in our relations with the Muslim world, “mutually respectful” and unilaterally fawning.

And how did it go down? At Friday prayers in Tehran, Ayotollah Khamenei attacked “dirty Zionists” and “bad British radio” (presumably a reference to the BBC’s Farsi news service rather than the non-stop Herman’s Hermits marathon on Supergold Oldies FM). “The most evil of them all is the British government,” added the supreme leader, warming to his theme. The crowd, including President Ahmadinelandslide and his cabinet, chanted, “Death to the U.K.”

Her Majesty’s Government brought this on themselves by allowing their shoot-from-the-lip prime minister to issue saber-rattling threats like: “The regime must address the serious questions which have been asked about the conduct of the Iranian elections.”

Fortunately, President Obama was far more judicious. And in return, instead of denouncing him as “evil” and deploring the quality of his radio programming, Ayatollah Khamenei said Obama’s “agents” had been behind the protests: “They started to cause riots in the street, they caused destruction, they burnt houses.” But that wasn’t all the Great Satin did. “What is the worst thing to me in all this,” sighed the supreme leader, “are comments made in the name of human rights and freedom and liberty by American officials . . . What? Are you serious? Do you know what human rights are?”

And then he got into specifics: “During the time of the Democrats, the time of Clinton, 80 people were burned alive in Waco. Now you are talking about human rights?”

It’s unclear whether the “Death to the U.K.” chanters switched at this point to “Democrats lied, people fried.” But you get the gist. The President of the United States can make nice to His Hunkalicious Munificence the Supremely Supreme Leader of Leaders (Peace Be Upon Him) all he wants, but it isn’t going to be reciprocated.

There’s a very basic lesson here: For great powers, studied neutrality isn’t an option. Even if you’re genuinely neutral. In the early nineties, the attitude of much of the west to the disintegrating Yugoslavia was summed up in the brute dismissal of James Baker that America didn’t have a dog in this fight. Fair enough. But over in the Balkans junkyard the various mangy old pooches saw it rather differently. And so did the Muslim world, which regarded British and European “neutrality” as a form of complicity in mass murder. As Osama bin Laden put it:
The British are responsible for destroying the Caliphate system. They are the ones who created the Palestinian problem. They are the ones who created the Kashmiri problem. They are the ones who put the arms embargo on the Muslims of Bosnia so that two million Muslims were killed.

How come a catalogue of imperial interventions wound up with that bit of scrupulous non-imperial non-intervention? Because great-power “even-handedness” will invariably be received as a form of one-handedness by the time its effects are felt on the other side of the world. Western “even-handedness” on Bosnia was the biggest single factor in the radicalization of European Muslims. They swarmed to the Balkans to support their coreligionists and ran into a bunch of Wahhabi imams moving into the neighborhood with lots of Saudi money and anxious to fill their Rolodex with useful contacts in the west. Among the alumni of that conflict was the hitherto impeccably assimilated English public (ie, private) schoolboy and London School of Economics student who went on to behead the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl. You always have a dog in the fight, whether you know it or not.

For the Obama administration, this presents a particular challenge — because the president’s preferred rhetorical tic is to stake out the two sides and present himself as a dispassionate, disinterested soul of moderation: “There are those who would argue . . . ” on the one hand, whereas “there are those who insist . . . ” on the other, whereas he is beyond such petty dogmatic positions. That was pretty much his shtick on abortion at Notre Dame. Of course, such studied moderation is usually a crock: Obama is an abortion absolutist, supporting partial-birth infanticide, and even laws that prevent any baby so inconsiderate as to survive the abortion from receiving medical treatment.

So in his recent speech in Cairo he applied the same technique. Among his many unique qualities, the 44th president is the first to give the impression that the job is beneath him — that he is too big and too gifted to be confined to the humdrum interests of one nation state. As my former National Review colleague David Frum put it, the Obama address offered “the amazing spectacle of an American president taking an equidistant position between the country he leads and its detractors and enemies.”

What would you make of that “equidistance” if you were back in the palace watching it on CNN International? Maybe you’d know that, on domestic policy, Obama uses the veneer of disinterested arbiter as a feint. Or maybe you’d just figure that no serious world leader can ever be neutral on vital issues. So you’d start combing the speech for what lies underneath the usual Obama straw men — and women: “I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal.” Very brave of you, I’m sure. But what about the Muslim women who choose not to cover themselves and wind up as the victims of honor killings in Germany and Scandinavia and Toronto and Dallas? Ah, but that would have required real courage, not audience flattery masquerading as such.

And so, when the analysts had finished combing the speech, they would have concluded that the meta-message of his “equidistance” was a prostration before “stability” — an acceptance of the region’s worst pathologies as a permanent feature of life.

The mullahs stole this election on a grander scale than ever before primarily for reasons of internal security and regional strategy. But Obama’s speech told them that, in the “post-American world,” they could do so with impunity. Blaming his “agents” for the protests is merely a bonus: Offered the world’s biggest carrot, Khamenei took it and used it as a stick.

He won’t be the last to read Obama this way.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn
National Review Online -
9985  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Security issues on: June 19, 2009, 10:20:36 PM
The LDS have a large cadre of former/current  federal law enforcement/intel officers to draw from to protect church interests.
9986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 18, 2009, 03:30:44 PM
Ok, I don't see how the economy will turn out alright after Obanomics drives us into unimaginable debt.

Meanwhile, we are getting ready to catch a BRIC to our collective heads. And Tthe remaining axis of evil nations are running wild.

So, how does this portend a recovery?
9987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama greenlights the crackdown on: June 18, 2009, 10:25:22 AM


June 18, 2009 --
SILENCE is complicity. Our president's refusal to take a forthright moral stand on the side of the Iranian freedom marchers is read in Tehran as a blank check for the current regime.

The fundamentalist junta has begun arresting opposition figures, with regime mouthpieces raising the prospect of the death penalty. Inevitably, there are claims that dissidents have been "hoarding weapons and explosives."

Foreign media reps are under house arrest. Cellphone frequencies are jammed. Students are killed and the killings disavowed.

And our president is "troubled," but doesn't believe we should "meddle" in Iran's internal affairs. (Meddling in Israel's domestic affairs is just fine, though.)

We just turned our backs on freedom.


Of all our foreign-policy failures in my lifetime, our current shunning of those demanding free elections and expanded civil rights in Iran reminds me most of Hungary in 1956.

For years, we encouraged the Hungarians to rise up against oppression. When they did, we watched from the sidelines as Russian tanks drove over them.

For decades, Washington policymakers from both parties have prodded Iranians to throw off their shackles. Last Friday, millions of Iranians stood up. And we're standing down.

That isn't diplomacy. It's treachery.

Despite absurd claims that Obama's Islam-smooching Cairo speech triggered the calls for freedom in Tehran's streets, these politics are local. But if those partisan claims of the "Cairo Effect" were true, wouldn't our president be obliged to stand beside those he incited?

Too bad for the Iranians, but their outburst of popular anger toward Iran's oppressive government doesn't fit the administration's script -- which is written around negotiations with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

To Obama, his dogmatic commitment to negotiations is infinitely more important than a few million protesters chanting the Farsi equivalent of "We Shall Overcome."

This is madness. There is no chance -- zero, null, nada -- that negotiations with the junta of mullahs will lead to the termination (or even a serious interruption) of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our president's faith in his powers of persuasion is beginning to look pathological. Is his program of negotiations with apocalypse-minded, woman-hating, Jew-killing fanatics so sacrosanct that he can't acknowledge human cries for freedom?

Is the Rev. Jeremiah Wright a better role model than Martin Luther King? It's a damned shame that our first minority president wasn't a veteran of our civil-rights struggle, rather than its privileged beneficiary.

An ugly pattern's emerging in our president's beliefs:

He's infallible. This is rich, given all the criticism of the Bush administration's unwillingness to admit mistakes. We now have a president with Jimmy Carter's naivete, Richard Nixon's distaste for laws, Lyndon Johnson's commitment to the wrong war, and Bill Clinton's moral fecklessness.

Democracy isn't important. Our president seems infected by yesteryear's Third-World-leftist view that dictatorships are essential to post-colonial development -- especially for Muslims.

Look where Obama has gone and who he supports: the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, his groveling speech in Egypt, his embrace of Hamas, his hands-off approach to the gory regime in Sudan -- and now his dismay at the protests in Iran.

Strict Islam is true Islam. This is bewildering, given Obama's childhood exposure to the tolerant Islam practiced in most of Indonesia. The defining remark of his presidency thus far was his Cairo demand for the right of Muslim women to wear Islamic dress in the West -- while remaining silent about their right to reject the hijab, burqa or chador in the Middle East.

History's a blank canvas -- except for America's sins. Of course, we've had presidents who presented the past in the colors they preferred -- but we've never had one who just made it all up.

Obama's ignorance of history is on naked display -- no sense of the brutality of Iran's Islamist regime, of the years of mass imprisonments, diabolical torture, prison rapes, wholesale executions and secret graves that made the shah's reign seem idyllic. Our president seems to regard the Iranian protesters as spoiled brats.

Facts? Who cares? In his Cairo sermon -- a speech that will live in infamy -- our president compared the plight of the Palestinians, the aggressors in 1948, with the Holocaust. He didn't mention the million Jews dispossessed and driven from Muslim lands since 1948, nor the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Christians from the West Bank.

Now our president's attempt to vote "present" yet again green-lights the Iranian regime's determination to face down the demonstrators -- and the mullahs understand it as such.

If we see greater violence in Tehran, the blood of those freedom marchers will be on our president's hands.
9988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: June 17, 2009, 07:45:57 AM
Obama's choice is not to choose on Iran
The president has an opportunity to stand up for democracy.
Jonah Goldberg
June 16, 2009

Do it, President Obama, please. Take the side of democracy.

Declare yourself and your nation on the side of hope and change where it is more than a slogan and better than a rationalization for ever-bigger government. Stop measuring the success of your diplomacy with Iran by the degree to which the grinning, hate-filled stooge of a clerical junta will "temper" his rhetoric about the pressing need to destroy Israel and slow his ineluctable pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Instead, choose a higher standard. Look to history. Look to the aspirations of the students risking their lives and livelihoods to protest a sham election. Stop fawning over the mythological Muslim street only when it hates America, and look to the real Iranian street at the moment of its greatest need, when its heart may be open to loving America.

You often invoke President Kennedy's pledge to put a man on the moon to justify your domestic agenda. You and your supporters invite comparisons to Camelot. Well, what of John F. Kennedy's most solemn vow? "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

No, we should not bomb Iran, or invade it. Those prices are too steep; those burdens are too heavy. But maybe you could lift a finger for democracy?

During the campaign you mocked those who belittled your rhetoric as "just words." Well, what you've offered so far is less than just words. You've put a fresh coat of whitewash on Iran's sham "democracy." On Monday, you proclaimed yourself "troubled" by the events in Iran, before hinting that you'd negotiate with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad no matter what an investigation into his "landslide" victory found. Then there was your pre-election mumbling about "robust debate [that] hopefully will advance our ability to engage them in new ways."

Of course, debate in Iran has been robust only if you are grading on a curve. Ahmadinejad's main opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was an accidental reform candidate. The mullahs had disqualified about 400 others, leaving in the race only four presumed hacks deemed to be pliant enough not to rock the boat. Mousavi's popular support and the robustness of the debate he ignited were an unintended consequence of a rigged election, not the intention of a democratic regime. Going into the election, you chose to celebrate the process, to placate a theocratic politburo.

Reportedly, you are biding your time, waiting to see what happens, as if it is a great mystery. Your campaign lived and breathed YouTube. Check it now, check it often. You and your team promised "soft power" and "smart power." Well, let's see some of that. Because by not clearly picking a side, it appears you have chosen the wrong side.

Do you fear antagonizing the powers-that-be in Iran? That ship has sailed. Though I am sure they're grateful for your eagerness not to roil the seas around them. Is it because you think "leader of the free world" is just another of those Cold War relics best mothballed in favor of a more cosmopolitan and universal awe at your own story?

"Enough about those people bleeding in the street. What do you think of me?" Is that how it is to be?

During the Bush years, what was best about liberalism had bled away. One of the worst things about the Republican Party has always been its Kissingerian realpolitik, the "it's just business" approach to world affairs that amounted to a willful blindness to our ideals beyond our own borders. The Democratic Party may not have always gotten the policies right, but it had a firm grasp of the principle.

In the 1990s, liberals championed "nation building," and conservatives chuckled at the naivete of it. Then came Iraq, and Republicans out of necessity embraced what liberals once believed out of conviction. The result? Liberals ran from their principles, found their inner Kissingers and embraced a cold realism whose chill emanated from the corpse of their ideals.

Labor unions, such as the AFL-CIO, once battled tyranny abroad on the grounds that workers everywhere need democracy. Today, the president turns a blind eye to the independent labor movement in Iran, and the unions and Democrats spend their time trying to figure out how to eliminate the secret ballot in the American workplace.

So far, "hope and change" has meant spending trillions we do not have on expanded government we do not need. Meanwhile, the huddled masses of Iranians yearning to breathe free think hope and change means something more. But the new American colossus stands all but silent, her beacon dimmed, her luster tarnished.

Please, Mr. President, prove me wrong.
9989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: June 15, 2009, 11:03:25 AM
Obama's probable response to the crisis:

1. Blame Bush.

2. Issue another apology.

3. Go golfing.
9990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Limited Government on: June 13, 2009, 09:34:10 AM
I like the new thread.
9991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: June 10, 2009, 09:21:26 PM

Obama is a 20 year disciple of Rev. "Them Jews" Wright. Much like Obama's lack of concern for the US soldier murdered by the black muslim convert in Arkansas, I doubt his concern here. His radicalism become clearer every day.
9992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: June 10, 2009, 07:28:26 PM

I'm sure he's just "shocked and saddened".  rolleyes
9993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sarah warned us about this on: June 10, 2009, 06:02:40 PM

Good news: U.S. reportedly reading terrorists their Miranda rights now

Say, weren’t we warned during the campaign that this might happen if Obama won? Take it away, Sarahcuda:

Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay … he wants to meet them without preconditions.

Al-Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America … he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights?

As I recall, she ate no small amount of crap for accusing him of that given his silence on the matter before the election. But then, this is the same woman who said enormous tax hikes were inevitable under The One in order to pay for his catastrophic expansion of government, notwithstanding his campaign promises not to raise taxes on the middle class. How’s that prediction working out so far? Crazy Sarah and her nutty theories.

Anyway, yeah. Miranda warnings:

If Tenet is right, it’s a good thing KSM was captured before Barack Obama became president. For, the Obama Justice Department has quietly ordered FBI agents to read Miranda rights to high value detainees captured and held at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan, according a senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. “The administration has decided to change the focus to law enforcement. Here’s the problem. You have foreign fighters who are targeting US troops today – foreign fighters who go to another country to kill Americans. We capture them…and they’re reading them their rights – Mirandizing these foreign fighters,” says Representative Mike Rogers, who recently met with military, intelligence and law enforcement officials on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan.

Rogers, a former FBI special agent and U.S. Army officer, says the Obama administration has not briefed Congress on the new policy. “I was a little surprised to find it taking place when I showed up because we hadn’t been briefed on it, I didn’t know about it. We’re still trying to get to the bottom of it, but it is clearly a part of this new global justice initiative.”

It was thoughtful of the most transparent administration evah to force Rogers to find out about this on the battlefield. There’s a certain perverse logic to it, though: If you’re unwilling to use any form of enhanced interrogation to save lives, you might as well go the whole nine yards and affirmatively warn detainees that they don’t have to talk to you. That’s what a law-enforcement approach to terrorism means — accepting a heightened risk of an attack by eschewing certain preventative measures in order to heighten the risk of conviction in court later by following criminal procedure. How this squares with The One’s willingness to send drones into Pakistan and torpedo houses packed with people on the say-so of informants is beyond me, but I’m sure we’ll get a speech on it at some point down the line. Exit question: Why institute a Miranda policy for terrorists captured abroad before the Supreme Court’s even heard the issue? They might find a wrinkle distinguishing classic criminal cases from prisoners of war — especially if Sotomayor’s half as tough on crime as the White House spin team keeps assuring us she is.
9994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's church bulletin on: June 10, 2009, 05:53:15 PM

Great reading for a future president.
9995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: June 10, 2009, 11:40:06 AM
Who would have guessed that someone that was a 20 year adherent of Rev. Wright would be an anti-Israeli president ?

Shocked! I am just stunned to see this development. How many Jews in Obama's administration again?
9996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: June 10, 2009, 11:15:20 AM

Terror Names Linked To Doomed Flight AF 447

3:58pm UK, Wednesday June 10, 2009
Peter Allen, in Paris
Two passengers with names linked to Islamic terrorism were on the Air France flight which crashed with the loss of 228 lives, it has emerged.

Debris from Air France flight AF 447 has been recovered from the Atlantic
French secret servicemen established the connection while working through the list of those who boarded the doomed Airbus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 31.
Flight AF 447 crashed in the mid-Atlantic en route to Paris during a violent storm.
While it is certain there were computer malfunctions, terrorism has not been ruled out.

Soon after news of the fatal crash broke, agents working for the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), the French equivalent of MI6, were dispatched to Brazil.
It was there that they established that two names on the passenger list are also on highly-classified documents listing the names of radical Muslims considered a threat to the French Republic.
A source working for the French security services told Paris weekly L'Express that the link was "highly significant".
Agents are now trying to establish dates of birth for the two dead passengers, and family connections.
There is a possibility the name similarities are simply a "macabre coincidence", the source added, but the revelation is still being "taken very seriously".
France has received numerous threats from Islamic terrorist groups in recent months, especially since French troops were sent to fight in Afghanistan.
Security chiefs have been particularly worried about airborne suicide attacks similar to the ones on the US on September 11, 2001.
9997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 10, 2009, 09:54:03 AM
Comment, Rachel?
9998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: June 10, 2009, 09:51:06 AM
What of a High Energy Radio Frequency burst directed to the "fly by wire"  system?
9999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hack-Jet: Losing a commercial airliner in a networked world on: June 09, 2009, 11:29:32 PM

Counterterrorism Blog

Hack-Jet: Losing a commercial airliner in a networked world

By Roderick Jones

When there is a catastrophic loss of an aircraft in any circumstances, there are inevitably a host of questions raised about the safety and security of the aviation operation. The loss of Air France flight 447 off the coast of Brazil with little evidence upon which to work inevitably raises the level of speculation surrounding the fate of the flight. Large-scale incidents such as this create an enormous cloud of data, which has to be investigated in order to discover the pattern of events, which led to the loss (not helped when some of it may be two miles under the ocean surface). So far French authorities have been quick to rule out terrorism it has however, emerged that a bomb hoax against an Air France flight had been made the previous week flying a different route from Argentina. This currently does not seem to be linked and no terrorist group has claimed responsibility. Much of the speculation regarding the fate of the aircraft has focused on the effects of bad weather or a glitch in the fly-by-wire system that could have caused the plane to dive uncontrollably. There is however another theory, which while currently unlikely, if true would change the global aviation security situation overnight. A Hacked-Jet.

Given the plethora of software modern jets rely on it seems reasonable to assume that these systems could be compromised by code designed to trigger catastrophic systemic events within the aircraft's navigation or other critical electronic systems. Just as aircraft have a physical presence they increasingly have a virtual footprint and this changes their vulnerability. A systemic software corruption may account for the mysterious absence of a Mayday call - the communications system may have been offline. Designing airport and aviation security to keep lethal code off civilian aircraft would in the short-term, be beyond any government civil security regime. A malicious code attack of this kind against any civilian airliner would, therefore be catastrophic not only for the airline industry but also for the wider global economy until security caught up with this new threat. The technical ability to conduct an attack of this kind remains highly specialized (for now) but the knowledge to conduct attacks in this mold would be as deadly as WMD and easier to spread through our networked world. Electronic systems on aircraft are designed for safety not security, they therefore do not account for malicious internal actions.

While this may seem the stuff of fiction in January 2008 this broad topic was discussed due to the planned arrival of the Boeing 787, which is designed to be more 'wired' --offering greater passenger connectivity. Air Safety regulations have not been designed to accommodate the idea of an attack against on-board electronic systems and the FAA proposed special conditions , which were subsequently commented upon by the Air Line Pilots Association and Airbus. There is some interesting back and forth in the proposed special conditions, which are after all only to apply to the Boeing 787. In one section, Airbus rightly pointed out that making it a safety condition that the internal design of civilian aircraft should 'prevent all inadvertent or malicious changes to [the electronic system]' would be impossible during the life cycle of the aircraft because 'security threats evolve very rapidly'.

Boeing responded to these reports in an AP article stating that there were sufficient safeguards to shut out the Internet from internal aircraft systems a conclusion the FAA broadly agreed with - Wired Magazine covered much of the ground. During the press surrounding this the security writer Bruce Schneier commented that, "The odds of this being perfect are zero. It's possible Boeing can make their connection to the Internet secure. If they do, it will be the first time in the history of mankind anyone's done that." Of course securing the airborne aircraft isn't the only concern when maintenance and diagnostic systems constantly refresh while the aircraft is on the ground. Malicious action could infect any part of this process.

While a combination of factors probably led to the tragic loss of flight AF447 the current uncertainty serves to highlight a potential game-changing aviation security scenario that no airline or government is equipped to face.

Comments on Hack-Jet:

(Note - these are thoughts on the idea of using software hacks to down commercial airliners and are not specifically directed at events surrounding the loss of AF447).

If you would like to comment on Hack-Jet go to discussion blog linked here.

From the author of Daemon Daniel Suarez:

It would seem like the height of folly not to have physical overrides in place for the pilot -- although, I realize that modern aircraft (especially designs like the B-2 bomber) require so many minute flight surface corrections every second to stay aloft, that no human could manage it. Perhaps that's what's going on with upcoming models like the 787. And I don't know about the Airbus A330.

I did think it was highly suspicious that the plane seems to have been lost above St. Peter & Paul's Rocks. By the strangest of coincidences, I had been examining that rock closely in Google Earth a few weeks ago for a scene in the sequel (which was later cut). It's basically a few huge rocks with a series of antennas and a control hut -- with nothing around it for nearly 400 miles.

Assuming the theoretical attacker didn't make the exploit time-based or GPS-coordinate-based, they might want to issue a radio 'kill' command in a locale where there would be little opportunity to retrieve the black box (concealing all trace of the attack). I wonder: do the radios on an A330 have any software signal processing capability? As for the attackers: they wouldn't need to physically go to the rocks--just compromise the scientific station's network via email or other intrusion, etc. and issue the 'kill' command from a hacked communication system. If I were an investigator, I'd be physically securing and scouring everything that had radio capabilities on those rocks. And looking closely at any record of radio signals in the area (testing suspicious patterns against a virtual A330's operating system). Buffer overrun (causing the whole system to crash?). Injecting an invalid (negative) speed value? Who knows... Perhaps the NSA's big ear has a record of any radio traffic issued around that time.

The big concern, of course, is that this is a proof-of-concept attack -- thus, the reason for concealing all traces of the compromise.


From John Robb - Global Guerrillas:

The really dangerous hacking, in most situations, is done by disgruntled/postal/financially motivated employees. With all glass cockpits, fly by wire, etc. (the Airbus is top of its class in this) it would be easy for anybody on the ground crew to crash it. No tricky mechanical sabotage.

External hacks? That is of course, trickier. One way would be to get into the diagnostic/mx computers the ground crew uses. Probably by adding a hack to a standard patch/update. Not sure if any of the updates to these computers are delivered "online."

Flight planning is likely the most "connected" system. Easier to access externally. Pilots get their plans for each flight and load them into the plane. If the route has them flying into the ground mid flight, it's possible they won't notice.

In flight hacks? Not sure that anything beyond outbound comms from the system is wireless. If so, that would be one method.

Another would be a multi-directional microwave/herf burst that fries controls. Might be possible, in a closed environment/fly by wire system to do this with relatively little power.


There has been continuous discussion of the dangers involved with fly-by-wire systems in Peter Neumann's Risk Digest since the systems were introduced in the late 1980s. The latest posting on the subject is here.

Investigator: Computer likely caused Qantas plunge

Links to Note

PodCast Analysis of flight AF447 error messages from Innovation Analysis Group [Analysis suggest all computer systems failed simultaneously]

Pilot Network online discussion

Aviation Safety Network

Photograph of Jet from spotter site

Twitter Feed for Flight AF447

By Roderick Jones on June 9, 2009 3:34 PM
10000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: June 08, 2009, 06:00:29 PM
40% of the US population doesn't pay federal income tax. Should they be able to vote?
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