Thursday, January 31, 2008
Face of Defense: Engineer Sees Hospital as ‘Once in Lifetime’ Project
BASRA, Iraq, Jan. 30, 2008 – The Basra Children’s Hospital project can get its hooks into people. Take Army Lt. Col. Kenneth McDonald, for example.
McDonald extended his tour in Iraq to two years from one to help bring the project to a successful conclusion.“Where else, as an engineer, would you want to be?” asked McDonald, who taught in the civil and mechanical engineering department at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., before coming to Iraq in 2006.
“My first day after arriving in Tallil and then driving to Basra, we were hit,” he recalled, adding that he wondered what he’d gotten himself into. The city has more than its share of indirect fire attacks, with more than 1,000 mortar rounds landing on Contingency Operating Base Basra over the summer.
The motto at Camp Blackadder, “Living the Dream,” captures the spirit of a team proud of its mission and aware of its circumstances. The slogan can be uttered on occasion with that particular wryness to be found in a combat zone. Some British soldiers in Basra have adopted the slogan, which adorned their shirts at a recent five-kilometer race.
Before extending his tour, McDonald said, he did a lot of soul searching. He concluded with respect to the hospital job that “something as significant as this comes only once a lifetime.”
[ in·dom·i·ta·ble ]
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2008 – Operation Phantom Phoenix is succeeding in cracking down on Iraq's enemies, largely because of the Iraqi security forces’ professionalism and the cooperation of the Iraqi people, a senior U.S. military officer said in Baghdad today.
“One of the reasons progress has been made and continues to be made in Iraq is the increasing courage of the Iraqi people as they place themselves in harm’s way to disrupt the terrorist networks and improve security conditions,”During 2003 and 2004, Iraqis fought behind the multinational forces. In 2006, they worked side by side with the coalition. “Now,” he said, “we are fighting in front of them, and we are taking the leadership in conducting operations.”
'War is just like boxing," said Gen. George Patton. "When you get your opponent on the ropes, you must keep punching the hell out of him and not let him recover."
Today in Iraq, the enemy is on the ropes. Soldiers and Marines have reduced northern Al Qaeda safe havens to rubble. Contractors are delivering tons of supplies and securing our diplomats. One-time insurgent strongholds are returning to peace.
One would expect aspiring political leaders not only to laud our troops for their great work - but also to admit that a total pullout on a predetermined schedule might be just a tad premature.
Instead, the 2008 candidates for President on the Democratic side stubbornly deny the possible troop victory that's finally in our sights in a grotesque swap for political victory.
They're basically rooting for our defeat over there - which has me rooting, harder than ever, for their defeat here.
Muslims are supposed to give some of their wealth to charity in order to purify it, according to Islamic custom. But now the Bauchi State government has passed a law that forces the rich to give this tax, called Zakat, to the government.
Now the Sharia Commission has started drawing up a list of individuals they believe should be paying Zakat. They have sent out letters to more than 3,000 people warning if they don't pay the tax to the government this year they could be arrested and jailed for three months, fined, or given 20 lashes.
"We have a good number of rich people in the state but right now we can say they are not responding," says Bala Ahmed, spokesman for the state Sharia Commission. "Now we have the law we can ask them to give it by force."['ask them to give by force' - don't we have a political party that subscribes to that idea too?]
What would you do if your foreign policy agenda had these priorities:
1. Get Arab and European support for solving the Iraq crisis.That pretty much describes the U.S. framework for dealing with the Middle East nowadays. And yet, nobody is saying: 'We are so grateful at the United States becoming more active on Arab-Israeli issues that we are going to back its policy on other issues.'
2. Mobilize Arab and European forces against a threat led by Iran and its allies, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah.
3. Get Iran to stop its campaign to get nuclear weapons.
4. Reestablish American credibility toward friends and deterrence toward enemies.
5. Reduce the level of Israel-Palestinian conflict.
On the contrary,...
-- Promusicae wanted names of Telefonica Internet clients who shared copyright material on the Web using the Kazaa file exchange software, so it could start civil proceedings against them. Civil proceedings are cheaper than criminal proceedings, and typically require a lower burden of proof.
"Such protection cannot, however, affect the requirements of the protection of personal data. The directives on the protection of personal data also allow the member states to provide for exceptions to the obligation to guarantee the confidentiality of traffic data,"EU rules do not preclude the possibility of EU countries laying down an obligation to disclose personal data in the context of civil proceedings, it said. "However, it does not compel the member states to lay down such an obligation," the court said.
Not everyone on the media left is marching in lockstep on the issue, however. One such dissident is Alexander Cockburn, a former columnist for the Nation who has experienced nothing but hatred from the "tolerant" left for thinking for himself:
"Since I started writing essays challenging the global warming consensus, and seeking to put forward critical alternative arguments, I have felt almost witch-hunted. There has been an hysterical reaction. One individual, who was once on the board of the Sierra Club, has suggested I should be criminally prosecuted."He also hits on another important point that many in the business-hating media always overlook when it comes to the temperature debate: This movement is being bought and paid for by the world's largest corporations: [>]
Across the globe, this pattern of deception continues as rich, large companies have figured out that environmental regulation is a great way for not only getting great publicity but also to shut out the competition.
Washington -- Sen. Barack Obama easily won the African American vote in South Carolina, but to woo California Latinos, where he is running 3-to-1 behind rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, he is taking a giant risk: spotlighting his support for granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. It's a huge issue for Latinos, who want them. It's also a huge issue for the general electorate, which most vehemently does not.
This is what Sheryl Stolberg writes today in the New York Times on page A1 in White House Memo:
Mr. Bush has spent years presiding over an economic climate that would be the envy of most presidents. Yet much to the consternation of his political advisors, he has had trouble getting credit for it...The great economic performance under Bush [is] all the more remarkable for the fact that this president faced an extraordinarily difficult set of circumstances: an inherited recession, terrorists attacks and record high oil prices. And yet with solid growth, low unemployment and low non-oil inflation, the American economy is not in recession, despite what some would have you believe.
It is just too bad that ‘the newspaper of record' has been working for all these years so hard to conceal this fact.
The presidential field has winnowed down further, with Democrat John Edwards and Republican Rudy Giuliani announcing their withdrawal from the presidential race on the same day. But while the Democrat was serenaded as a trailblazer, the moderate Republican was mocked for "living an illusion."
"Indeed, Mr. Edwards was poised to collect enough delegates in early nominating contests to potentially influence the outcome at the Democratic nominating convention in August, if neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Obama won enough delegates to clinch the nomination."Wednesday's lead "news analysis," "Dizzying Fall For Ex-Mayor," by the tag team of Michael Powell and Michael Cooper, dispensed with anything positive about Giulani's efforts;
"As Mr. Giuliani ponders his political mortality, many advisers and political observers point to the hubris and strategic miscalculations that plagued his campaign. -- the more that Republican voters saw of him, the less they wanted to vote for him. Perhaps he was living an illusion all along."[no bias here, move along...]
Once again, California registered the biggest net loss of domestic population in the country – 263,035 more people moved OUT of California last year than moved IN. That comes on the heels of 2005-2006, when 287,000 more people moved out of California than moved in – a bigger total loss of domestic population than Louisiana suffered after Hurricane Katrina. According to the Census Bureau, California has suffered a net loss of more than a half-million people to other states in the last two years.
The Laffer Competitiveness Index annually ranks states for tax and regulatory competitiveness. The higher the number, the heavier the burdens. California ranks 44th among the 50 states in the Laffer Competitiveness Index. Of the six states losing population the fastest, New York ranks 49th, Rhode Island 48th, New Jersey 43rd, and Hawaii, 45th. The only anomaly was Michigan (16th) whose economy is reeling from the slowdown in automobile sales.
Does anyone see a pattern here? Once again, the states with high tax and regulatory burdens are losing population to the states with low tax and regulatory burdens...
[who's leaving demographically? well, those who pay high taxes and consume the least in government services...]
Sacked for sheep sex prank
Two British oil workers have been sacked after simulating sex with sheep due to be slaughtered for a Muslim festival. The animals were being killed for 30 foreign workers to celebrate Eid Al Adhha in the Algerian oil town Hassi Messaoud. The men, who have not been named, were reported by stunned restaurant workers and guards — then sacked by their employer, US industrial giant Schlumberger. They were accused of ''sheep violation''.