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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Return To Sender

January 31st, 2012 - 8:16 pm

There’s good news: an American ally is finally going to take charge of Afghanistan. For keeps too. The bad news is that ally is Pakistan.

(Reuters) – The United States military has said in a secret report that the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, are set to retake control over Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw from the country, Britain’s Times of London newspaper said Wednesday …

Citing the same report, the BBC reported on its website that Pakistan and the ISI knew the locations of senior Taliban leaders and supported the expulsion of “foreign invaders from Afghanistan. Senior Taliban leaders meet regularly with ISI personnel, who advise on strategy and relay any pertinent concerns of the government of Pakistan,” it said.


Hold That Tiger

January 31st, 2012 - 10:54 am

Three years ago two tiger parks in India reported that while they had no tigers, they had plenty of officials to manage them. “State Minister of Forests Rajendra Shukla said that the [Panna National Park] reserve, which three years ago had 24 tigers, no longer had any … this is the second tiger reserve in India, after Sariska in Rajasthan, where numbers have dwindled to zero.” They ought to form a club with the Philppine forestry department, which has thousands of foresters and no forests left to manage either.

On second thought, the Indian park rangers ought to make common cause with educators. Despite the ever increasing amounts of money spent on educating elementary and high school students, and despite the relentless rise in the numbers of educators, the dropout rate in America is rising. Every 12 seconds, a student drops out. As an article in Education Week put it:

Every school day, more than 7,200 students fall through the cracks of America’s public high schools. Three out of every 10 members of this year’s graduating class, 1.3 million students in all, will fail to graduate with a diploma. The effects of this graduation crisis fall disproportionately on the nation’s most vulnerable youths and communities. A majority of nongraduates are members of historically disadvantaged minorities and other educationally underserved groups. They are more likely to attend school in large, urban districts. And they come disproportionately from communities challenged by severe poverty and economic hardship.

The problem, according to the artcle, is that the students are “underserved”. The solution to this problem therefore, is to increasing the size of the servings. Increase the portions.



January 30th, 2012 - 10:14 am

Syrian uprising reaches the edge of Damascus, according to the Washington Post. Hanin Ghaddar argues that Israel actually prefers to keep Assad in power as a lesser evil to a possible Islamist takeover. And so too does Hezbollah! As perhaps does Russia, according to the NYT. But despite this, Assad’s regime is looking more and more shaky by the day.

According to the Washington Post, Hamas is looking for a new sugar daddy in Turkey and is distancing itself from Iran. “Hamas is developing new relations with Turkey, according to new reports coming from the region. The arrangement includes opening an official Hamas office in Turkey in a matter of weeks and a reported Turkish pledge of $300 million to help re-build Hamas-controlled Gaza. … ‘Far better a Sunni sponsor with growing influence than a Shia paymaster that is an international pariah under growing sanctions. One has to wonder how the Turkish role affects the internal dynamics in Hamas, where the Gaza hierarchy appears to be pushing aside the formerly dominant outsiders, led by Khaled Meshal from Damascus.’”


That Old Magic

January 30th, 2012 - 8:39 am

In the years immediately after the Second World War, American prestige was so great that it covered many of its actions with “that old magic” — the aura of invincibility and power that made it hard for foreign governments to question it. That magic has worn thin.

Pakistan has decided to jail a doctor who helped find Osama Bin Laden. “Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is acknowledging publicly for the first time that a Pakistani doctor provided key information to the U.S. in advance of the successful Navy SEAL assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound last May.

Panetta told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday, that Shakil Afridi helped provide intelligence for the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Afridi ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden’s presence in the compound.

He has since been charged by Pakistan with treason. Panetta said he is “very concerned” for the doctor.


Cycle 25

January 29th, 2012 - 3:26 pm

The nice thing about the term “Climate Change” is that it covers all possibilities. The Daily Mail reports:

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997. …

Meanwhile, leading climate scientists yesterday told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food. …

Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona – derived from magnetic-field measurements 120,000 miles beneath the sun’s surface – suggest that Cycle 25, whose peak is due in 2022, will be a great deal weaker still.

What this represents is an empirical test of the hypothesis that solar activity affect the earth’s climate more than Greenhouse Gases. Watts Up With That describes how the estimates of the sun’s activity are predicted.

“Just like the Tea Party”

January 29th, 2012 - 1:04 pm

“They’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party.” — Barack Obama on Occupy.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, “Occupy Oakland protesters broke into City Hall, stole an American flag from the City Council chamber and set it on fire Saturday night, punctuating a wild day in which police deployed tear gas, arrested more than 400 marchers and dodged hurling objects. Demonstrators spent the day trying to break into a convention center and temporarily occupying City Hall and a YMCA.”

According to Occupy, it it’s the fault of the police. “In a news release Sunday, the Occupy Oakland Media Committee criticized the police conduct, saying that most of the arrests were made illegally because police failed to allow protesters to disperse.”


“Enron 1″

January 27th, 2012 - 3:32 pm

When the President and Vice-President extolled the company Enr1, they painted a picture of company creating the motive power for an electric-powered America. It was part of their strategy, not just to create jobs, but to “create whole new industries.” They were going to pick the winners instead of letting primitive capitalism pick the losers.

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But it was all fantasy. As the Hill points out, Enr1 has just declared bankruptcy after spending $55M of the $118 million grant it received from the Department of Energy. “This was a difficult, but necessary, decision for our company,” Ener1 CEO Alex Sorokin said in a news release.

Occupy Wall Street, Down Under Style

January 27th, 2012 - 12:58 pm

When the senior media adviser to Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, Tony Hodges, decided to surreptitiously sic a crowd of aboriginal protesters on opposition leader Tony Abbott, he had no idea it would backfire big time. What started as an attempt to embarrass Abbott, who earlier remarked that the aboriginal protest site which opened in Canberra 40 years ago ought to close after all this time, it turned into threat to the media adviser’s own boss. Several hundred protesters converged on the Lobby Restaurant and banged on the glass, leading to what police called a “clear threat” to Gillard’s safety. She was forced to run from the scene, losing a shoe in the process of nearly falling to the ground.

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Open Under New Management

January 26th, 2012 - 2:49 pm

The BBC reports that several people have died after being tortured by militias in Libyan detention, citing Amnesty International. “It claimed to have seen patients in Tripoli, Misrata and Gheryan with open wounds to their head, limbs and back.”

Meanwhile, charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has suspended operations in Misrata after treating 115 patients with torture-related wounds. … “The torture is being carried out by officially recognised military and security entities as well as by a multitude of armed militias operating outside any legal framework,” a spokesman for London-based Amnesty said. …

Medecins Sans Frontieres said it was being “exploited” as some patients were being brought to them between interrogation sessions.



January 26th, 2012 - 11:47 am

The March of Time

Hat tip: Tigerhawk. The above, someone pointed out to me, is a photoshopped image and not a real cover. I apologize for the oversight. The real cover does not have the reference to “Beyond Detente”. However, the Global Warming cover seems correct.