Saturday, July 23, 2005

Power Armor

I WANT a set of this! Designed and marketed for physical rehabilitation, I can easily think of many extended uses.

Thanks to /. for the original link.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Heros AND Traitors

Very interesting concept. Some devote space and bandwidth to our heros. Others, like me, rant and complain about traitors. Here's a site for both, check it out!

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CIA Agents Indicted?

UPDATE: (7/22/05 9:00 PM CDT) Note: original post and update below this update.
From the Chicago Tribune (free reg. required):

WASHINGTON -- Italian prosecutors again sought arrest warrants Wednesday for six additional CIA operatives who they say took part in the abduction two years ago of a radical Islamic cleric.
If granted, the prosecutors' request would bring to 19 the number of CIA personnel formally charged with the kidnapping in February 2003 of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, better known as Abu Omar.

Ya' know, I'm really glad that these guys are on our side!

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Paraphrasing here: An Italian judge has order 13 CIA officers arrested in connection with seizing Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, on the streets of Milan on Feb. 17, 2003, and sending him to Egypt. This is a strange story. Apparently the official documents did not name the suspects as CIA agents, but reporters were told by a secondary source that they were CIA. Actually, the suspects were not named at all nor was their nationality given.

So, does this mean that ANY person working for the CIA is at risk of arrest? If not Italian nationals, would they then be subject to ICC prosecution? While I'm asking, is there ANYONE who truly beleives that the United States should submit our citizens to the vagaries of extranational public opinion and political whim?

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Update: (06/25/05 12:05 AM CDT) This gets curiouser and curiouser. The New York Times is now reporting this story. And Reuters is also (thanks to Free Republic for this link). Check out the lead paragraph from each (emphasis mine):

NY Times:

MILAN, June 24 - An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency accused of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric on a Milan street two years ago and sending him to a prison in Egypt for questioning, Italian prosecutors and investigators said today.
MILAN/ROME (Reuters) - An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 people linked to the CIA for "kidnapping" an Egyptian terrorism suspect in Milan and flying him to Egypt where he said he was tortured, judicial sources said on Friday.
Reuters then goes into a lenghty diatribe about torture. To their credit, the NY Times does not. Another discrepancy between the stories concerns the identy of the people indicted. Reuters reports: "Another judicial source said: 'We know some of the identities of these (suspects) with certainty, but with others we are not sure of their true identity.'" The Times reports that (boldface mine):
Investigators said the court documents, which remain under seal, identify the 13 operatives by their real names as well as their cover names. In the warrants, Judge Nobili said that all 13 suspects were linked to the C.I.A. and that several served as diplomats at the United States Consulate in Milan, investigators said.
Now I wonder just how it came about that this information was made available to a foreign government, even a putative ally? Maybe the Intelligence Oversight Committee should investigate. On second thought, maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea after all.

On a related note, Tigerhawk has a nice post on Paul Krugman's column today. On the comments section, commenter Jim - PRS says:

However, when I consider the remarks of Dick Durbin and make what I believe is the reasonable assumption that he had to know how the Arab and other U.S.-hostile media would use them, I can only conclude that he is either unpatriotic or simply a blithering idiot.

To which Tigerhawk replies:
One of my little rules is that when a person's actions or statements force you to conclude that they are either nefarious or stupid, the most probable explanation is that they are stupid. I like to call this theorem "TigerHawk's Razor."
Then commenter Sluggo throws this out:
Sluggo's Corollary states that, absent drool on the chin, they are most likely nefariously pretending to be stupid.
Hmmm, I don't think frothing at the mouth equates with drool on the chin. It's one thing to stand on the Senate floor and make disparaging remarks about our troops, or to opine in the NY Times that we are in a quagmire in Iraq and destined to lose, and to reveal cold, hard facts to a foreign agency. In a time of war! I do beleive that there is a word for that. And a proscribed punishment. That, I think, would qualify as nefarious, and stupid, and even (read Krugman) unpatriotic.

Pure speculation on my part, you understand. I know nothing.

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A Kerryesque Suggestion?

From the politico aspiring to become Mexico's next El Presidente, Jorge Castaneda, comes this Kerryesque suggestion (foreign veto, or Global Test) to the problem of illegal immigration from Mexico:

[...] Opponents of illegal immigration are incensed because Castaneda said the United States cannot secure its southern border without Mexico's blessing. And that it will not have Mexico's blessing until America agrees to a series of almost non-negotiable demands. [...]

I've quoted Sr. Castaneda before when posting about illegal immigration:

[...] "It makes sense," Castañeda said. "The Mexican economy doesn't grow, the U.S. economy does grow, and well, people leave. It's not rocket science." [...]

Although it would be much easier and more manageable to control the border with the cooperation of the Mexican authorities, it is still doable without. And contrary to Sr. Castanedas assessment, it just may be rocket science: (Apologies for quoting myself!)

I would suggest that El Presidente Fox become more concerned about the flow northward before the United States is forced into action. The other option may be a repeat of history, with U.S. Marines once again at the Halls of Montezuma, and the Regiment of Mounted Rifles (3d ACR) at the gates of Mexico City.

(Thanks to RealClearPolitics for the initial link, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations transcript here.)

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

No Wonder

U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Report Low Morale

WASHINGTON — A majority of U.S. soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report that finds psychological stress is weighing particularly heavily on National Guard and Reserve troops. [...]
Hmmm. Several questions here. First, the article relates that the rates measured in all areas had dropped from levels reported in previous surveys.

[...] The initial inquiry was triggered in part by an unusual surge in suicides among soldiers in Iraq in July 2003. Wednesday's report said the number of suicides in Iraq and Kuwait declined from 24 in 2003 to nine last year.
The overall assessment said 13 percent of soldiers in the most recent study screened positive for a mental health problem, compared with 18 percent a year earlier. Symptoms of acute or post-traumatic stress remained the top mental health problem, affecting at least 10 percent of all soldiers checked in the latest survey.
In the anonymous survey, 17 percent of soldiers said they had experienced moderate or severe stress or problems with alcohol, emotions or their families. That compares with 23 percent a year earlier. [...]
And this:
[...] The report said 54 percent of soldiers rated their units' morale as low or very low. The comparable figure in a year-earlier Army survey was 72 percent. [...]
It seemed to me that the report sounded a lot like bureaucrats attempting to justify their jobs/budgets. Read it, and see what you think.

Now don't get me wrong... I'm firmly in support of monitoring the mental health of our troops, and applying appropriate programs to lessen risks. They are in a very stressful situation, and it would take a total mental disconnect to avoid being affected.

Secondly, the article (and the report) determined that one of the main concerns amongst the troops was the length of deployment, or rather variations of deployment lengths.

[...] The thing that bothered soldiers the most, the latest assessment said, was the length of their required stay in Iraq. At the start of the war, most were deployed for six months, but now they go for 12 months.
Asked about this, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference that the Army's 12-month requirement is linked in part to its effort to complete a fundamental reorganization of fighting units. [...]

That kind of makes it sound like it's all that wimpy Rumsfelds fault. Might be, but I'd wager that many other factors are also involved.

What the article does not do is explain what, if any, effect the constant negative reporting on the home front of the progress of the Iraqi Campaign has on the deployed troops. They are content to let the impression stand that our boys and girls are doing poorly over there.

And they failed to make any assessment or comment about the age-old military tradition of griping. Since the surveys were anonymous, I'd say that normal griping probably played a role in the answers received.

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This Is Really Cheesy!

This has provided me with the best laugh of the day! Thanks to Doug Petch

If you haven't done so already, go here and zoom in to the closest view.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

He's Dead, Jim

Sadly, Scottie has died. He was 85.

(picture credit: BBC Star Trek Gallery)

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- James Doohan, the burly chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise in the original "Star Trek" TV series and motion pictures who responded to the apocryphal command "Beam me up, Scotty," died early Wednesday.
I will always best remember his "I don't think she can take much more, Captain!" Well, make that a paraphrase, since I can't find a source, yet.

(Picture Credit: CNN Article)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

'Bout Time

WASHINGTON-U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chairman of the Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee, and U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security subcommittee, introduced comprehensive border security and immigration reform legislation on Tuesday.
The Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005 will dramatically strengthen enforcement, bolster border security, and comprehensively reform our immigration laws. The key components of the bill include enhanced border security and interior enforcement, employer accountability, and reform that addresses temporary workers and the current illegal population.
Lots of interesting provisions here. Read the whole thing, please.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

More on Immigration and Assimilation

"Immigrant Births in America Rising"

From Cara Anna, AP writer, via San Antonio Express-News(reg. required).

With the ever-increasing population of immigrants in the United States, legal and not, I hope it didn't take rocket science to figure this out. However, the amount of births is not the point of this post. Rather, the article explains and explores the problems presented with health care providers dealing with language barriers during the emotionally charged event of childbirth.

The article states that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that interpreters be provided to non-English speaking patients. Since I could not find this requirement in the Act, I am assuming that the provision of interpreters has resulted from an after-Act interpretation of the Act by the court system. Regardless, this requirement serves to increase the cost of health care services to everyone.
[...] A survey of New Jersey's hospitals shows that in a largely urban state where 11 percent of residents have limited English, just 3 percent of hospitals have a full-time interpreter. Eighty percent of hospitals offer no staff training on working with interpreters, and 31 percent have no multilingual signs.
Cost is a barrier and most hospitals told the New Jersey survey that reimbursement for translation services is needed. A 2002 study by the National Association of Children's Hospitals found interpreting costs at 22 hospitals ranged from $1,800 to $847,000 per year. [...]
This is an expense that should not be placed on our health care systems. Interpreters should be provided on a voluntary basis for those who have not yet obtained a satisfactory knowledge of English

The United States is an English-speaking country. All immigrants should be encouraged, pressured, cajoled into learning the language of their adopted country. Assimilation is necessary for the health of this country.

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Juche? I got yer juche!

This is not a trade-off, it is nucular blackmail! Read the whole thing.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Incoming! Incoming!

I, and many others, have complained about the ease with which illegals can and do cross our borders, posing an extreme and unwarranted danger to the United States. That danger is ignored, downplayed, or outright ridiculed by a wide spectrum of the American polity. Unfortunately, it may already be too late to implement effective checks and controls on the borders.

How long does it take to construct physical barriers to prevent uncontrolled crossing? How long to recruit, train and deploy adequate personnel? Maybe too long, when balanced against possible terrorist threats that may already be in advanced planning, or execution, stages.

Case in point, from Alfredo Corchado and Jason Trahan of the Dallas Morning News (via Kansas City Star - free reg. required):
[...] The plot, according to uncorroborated information provided by an FBI informant, involves a man, described as an Arab who goes by the nickname "El Espanol," and Ernesto Zatarin Beliz, also known as El Traca, a reputed Mexican drug trafficker and member of the Zetas, the feared enforcers of the notorious Gulf cartel.
"El Espanol is gathering truck drivers with knowledge of truck routes in the United States and explosive experts" in the state of Coahuila, according to the March 11 memo, which originated in the San Diego FBI office and was made available by a U.S. attorney's office. The informant "believes that the activity in Coahuila, Mexico, is terrorist related." [...]
Read the whole thing, much more information there.

"Yeah, yeah, so what?" the apologists whine. Only one guy, and we already have tabs on him. How much of a threat can he pose?

One? Oh, really?


WASHINGTON – As London recovers from the latest deadly al-Qaida attack that killed at least 50, top U.S. government officials are contemplating what they consider to be an inevitable and much bigger assault on America – one likely to kill millions, destroy the economy and fundamentally alter the course of history, reports Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin. [...]

The Arab TV news network criticized by the new Iraqi government and others for its anti-American bias and willingness to carry the messages of terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, is headed for the U.S.-Mexico border to document how easy it is to enter America illegally. [...]

Al-Qaida "communities," like the one busted in Lodi, Calif., have direct ties to other networks in Mexico and Central America, where jihadi terrorists are not viewed as a local threat, reports Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
"South of the Rio Grande Valley there exists a dire situation," said an intelligence researcher who took part in an academic meeting in west Canada. [...]

Of the 800,000 illegal aliens caught trying to sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border since October, more than 10 percent are from countries other than Mexico, posing serious national security issues.
"We're now concerned about the potential for terrorists coming across the border because of the huge increases in 'other than Mexicans,' people coming from abroad through Mexico, across our southern border," says Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz. "Our country has intelligence that tells us that al-Qaida specifically desires to bring people across our border." [...]
WASHINGTON – The Mexican army is escorting those attempting to cross over the U.S. border illegally – including known drug-runners – to areas not patrolled by the Minuteman Project near Naco, Ariz., say Border Patrol sources and other officials including a U.S. congressman.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, denounced the action by the Mexican military and called on President Bush to do the same. [...]
WASHINGTON – Islam is on the move in Mexico and throughout Latin America, making dramatic gains in converting the native population, increasing immigration, establishing businesses and charities and attracting attention from U.S. government officials who have asked their neighbors to the south to keep an eye on foreign Muslim groups.
The monitoring of foreign groups is intended to "avoid problems in Mexico that have an impact in the United States," said the head of the Attorney General Office's special terrorism investigation unit, Gen. Jorge Serrano. [...]
Adding information to previous reports about terrorists crossing the southern border, FBI Director Robert Mueller told a congressional panel today that illegal aliens from countries with ties to al-Qaida have crossed into the U.S. from Mexico using false identities.
Mueller says some of the aliens are people with Middle Eastern names who have adopted Hispanic last names before coming into the U.S. [...]
While there likely aren't any posters depicting exotic destinations on the wall, an al-Qaida travel agency operates in Latin America to help terrorists enter the U.S., the 9-11 commission reports.
The revelation was part of the panel's final report issued Saturday as the commission formally disbanded. [...]
With Islamic "charities" under increasing international pressure and scrutiny to cut ties with terrorists, al-Qaida and other allied organizations are expanding operations in Latin America, establishing both legitimate and criminal enterprises to fund future operations, reports Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin. [...]
International law-enforcement authorities combating terrorism have growing concerns about a major influx into the Latin American nation of Paraguay of Arabic-speaking visitors carrying European passports.
Some of these "Europeans" could not even speak the language of their so-called mother land, according to a report in the latest issue of Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, an online premium intelligence newsletter published by WND.
Many of the visitors and emigres travel to the triple border region where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. This region, often described as a lawless area, is nicknamed by some intelligence station agents as "The Muslim Triangle meeting zone."
Some of these items are slightly dated, others very recent, but all point to one thing... our enemies are not resting, not waiting for favorable conditions, not waiting on others to act first. They have demonstrated the capability and willingness to plan for long periods before attacking. Do we have any reason to think that they have stopped? Nope.

So we're not doing anything. Wait, what the hell is this???

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has just let the cat out of the bag about what's really behind our trade agreements and security partnerships with the other North American countries. A 59-page CFR document spells out a five-year plan for the "establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community" with a common "outer security perimeter."
"Community" means integrating the United States with the corruption, socialism, poverty and population of Mexico and Canada. "Common perimeter" means wide-open U.S. borders between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
This CFR document, called "Building a North American Community," asserts that George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin "committed their governments" to this goal when they met at Bush's ranch and at Waco, Texas on March 23, 2005. The three adopted the "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America" and assigned "working groups" to fill in the details.
The CFR document calls for allowing Mexican trucks "unlimited access" to the United States, including the hauling of local loads between U.S. cities. The CFR document calls for adopting a "tested once" principle for pharmaceuticals, by which a product tested in Mexico will automatically be considered to have met U.S. standards.
That dog won't hunt!

UPDATE:: From Miguel Gonzales at the Desert Dispatch:
VICTORVILLE -- National and local banks have found in their quest to attract more customers that catering to illegal immigrants can significantly increase traffic and business.
A widely ignored group for many years, illegal immigrants have become a force within the nation's economy, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research center based in Washington, D.C. [...]
Bankers and employers actively catering to illegals are certainly not helping the situation!

Thanks to Free Republic for original pointer.

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