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Monday, February 27, 2012

How Many More US Troops Have to Die for a Broken Mission?



Afghan airport hit by suicide car bombing
BBC

At least six people have been killed in a suicide car bomb attack at Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan, police say. They say several other people were injured when the bomb exploded at the gates of the airport.


The Afghan Taliban have said they carried out the attack.


Afghanistan has seen days of deadly protests following the burning of Muslim holy books at a US military base near Kabul a week ago.US officials say the books were destroyed inadvertently. All the casualties at the airport appeared to be civilians, said provincial police official Obaidullah Talwar.


The airport serves both civilian and international military aircraft. Meanwhile, Afghan authorities are still hunting a 25-year-old Afghan policeman believed to have shot dead two senior Nato officers at the interior ministry in Kabul on Saturday.


Afghan officials named the suspect as police intelligence officer Abdul Saboor from Parwan province.


The identities of the dead Nato officers have not been confirmed but they are believed to have been an American colonel and major.Reports said the gunman opened fire in a secure room in the ministry - one of the highest security buildings in the capital - at close range.


On Sunday, France and Germany followed the US and Britain in withdrawing civilian staff from Afghan government institutions in the wake of the killings.


President Hamid Karzai has appealed for calm amid anger at the burning of copies of the Koran at the Bagram air base.


In his televised address on Sunday, Mr Karzai "condemned with the strongest words" the treatment of the Korans but added: "Now that we have shown our feelings it is time to be calm and peaceful."

50 comments:

  1. Despite an American-led training effort that has spanned years and cost tens of billions of dollars, the Afghan security forces are still widely seen as riddled with dangerously unreliable soldiers and police officers. The distrust has only deepened as a pattern of attacks by Afghan security forces on American and NATO service members, beginning years ago, has drastically worsened over the past few days. A grenade attack on Sunday, apparently by a protester, wounded at least six American soldiers.

    Nearly a week of violent unrest after American personnel threw Korans into a pit of burning trash has brought into sharp relief the growing American and Afghan frustration — and, at times, open hostility — and the risks of a strategy that calls for American soldiers and civilians to work closely with Afghans.

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  2. The Kabul attack struck at the heart of the trust needed for that mission and senior US officials rushed to deny suggestions that the deaths, which one senior diplomat in Kabul described as "ominous", could speed Washington's withdrawal timetable.

    "This is not the time to decide that we are done here," the US ambassador, Ryan Crocker, told CNN's State of the Union in an interview from Kabul.

    "We have got to redouble our efforts. We've got to create a situation that al-Qaida is not coming back."

    But the increasing number of foreign soldiers dying at the hands of the Afghan security forces they are meant to be supporting appears to have undermined the commitment of some US allies.

    Paris sped up withdrawal plans after four French soldiers were killed last month by an Afghan army trainee. And rioting in northern Afghanistan over the last week also pushed Germany to shut down a military base ahead of schedule.

    In a further possible incident of sabotage by Afghans working with foreign forces, the Taliban claimed that a cook on a base in eastern Afghanistan had poisoned the food of coalition troops. The insurgent group, which often exaggerates claims of enemy loses, said that five died and dozens were injured.

    Master Sergeant Nicholas Conner, spokesman for the coalition's eastern regional command, said that traces of bleach had been found on food in the dining area of a base near the Pakistan border and it had been shut for investigation, but there were no deaths or injuries.

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  3. .

    Niger warns against travel to Libya as tensions rise


    Adding to tensions, Libya's war has pushed hundreds of pro-Gaddafi fighters, along with weapons, south into the Sahel region that are believed to be fueling a renewed Tuareg rebellion in Niger's western neighbor Mali.

    French Foreign Minister Allain Juppe visited Mali President Amadou Toumani Toure on Sunday, pledging French support to end the fighting that has killed scores and forced more than 125,000 people from their homes, including into Niger.


    Hey, When You Are on an Humanitarian Mission, Shit Happens

    Guns flooding the ME, revenge killings among the tribes, the war flooding over into neighbor countries? Troubling, but still, it is merely unfortunate collateral damage when you are determined to 'save lives' for humanitarian reasons.

    .

    .

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  4. Meanwhile, the Republicans have successfully shut down an ethanol program that has taken us from, virtually, zero production to 15 Billion Gallons/Yr (at a $0.90/gal discount to gasoline) in just a few short years.

    We deserve these stupid, corrupt assholes we have "managing" us.

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  5. "...We've got to create a situation that al-Qaida is not coming back."

    Not going to happen, in my opinion.
    Taliban or al-Qaida or both are going to sweep over the 'stan when we pull out.
    And the poppy will be the crop of choice.

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  6. I doubt we'll ever remake the world in our image despite the undying fervor of our imperial cheerleaders. We're holding the Middle East together with duct tape and baling wire, as it were.

    To my right-wing "friends", let's make a deal. You ease up on the Clash of Civilizations bullshit and we'll suffer silently as you spend ever-greater amounts to militarize the 3rd World.

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  7. Quirk wrote:

    "To throw down the guantlet - to be an agnostic is a cop out. Saying that nothing is known nor can be known is simply to say I don't know, I have no opinion.


    Here, I completely disagree with you. First, as Socrates might say, you need to define your terms. I agree with Thomas Huxley on the definition of agnosticism.

    Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle...

    Positively the principle may be expressed as in matters of intellect, do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable.

    This is a more general definition of agnosticism that can be applied to matters other than just the mystical and transcendental. "





    If that is what is means to be an agnostic then I would agree with you but that definition of "agnostic" is overly broad in my opinion.


    ag·nos·tic
       [ag-nos-tik] Show IPA

    noun
    1.
    a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. Synonyms: disbeliever, nonbeliever, unbeliever; doubter, skeptic, secularist, empiricist; heathen, heretic, infidel, pagan.

    2.
    a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.

    3.
    a person who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic: Socrates was an agnostic on the subject of immortality

    adjective
    4.
    of or pertaining to agnostics or agnosticism.

    5.
    asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.

    6.
    holding neither of two opposing positions: If you take an agnostic view of technology, then it becomes clear that your decisions to implement one solution or another should be driven by need.

    Origin:
    < Greek ágnōst ( os ), variant of ágnōtos not known, incapable of being known ( a- a-6 + gnōtós known, adj. derivative from base of gignṓskein to know) + -ic, after gnostic; said to have been coined by T.H. Huxley in 1869

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/agnostic

    or:

    "Agnostic - Agnostos
    The English term "agnostic" is derived from the Greek "agnostos," which means, "to not know." An agnostic is one who admits, "I don't know." The term is applied specifically to those who don't know for certain whether or not God exists. An agnostic is one who believes that the existence of God is unknown and most likely beyond human ability to discover. "

    http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/agnostic.htm

    In short it means "I don't know"

    I will also agree that the term is used primarily in the religious context still it does apply to gaining knowlege in general as you stated. Answering the question of the existence of God is a tough question to answer but not different in kind then many other difficult philosphic questions; what is ethical, or what is art ect. In that context, I repeat, I think it is a cop out to simply answer "I don't know". You are essentially evading the question but, at the same time, I do value intellectual humility yet one should strive to establish a position and entertain counter arguments.

    You asked me where I fall on this question; the existence of God. I think it is important to, as you say, define your terms.

    If you mean God as in the traditional establishment religious sense the answer is no. I see no reason to believe that an omnicient, omni-potent being sits above the universe making judgements and passing the information through various means to be contained in books which reveal the truth. There are just too many internal contradictions in those mythologies (i.e. the problem of evil).

    If you meant the existence of a God in the sense that we are all a part of something larger, then yes, maybe I could answer in the affirmative along those lines but many details need still be addressed.

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  8. Ash, I now hereby rename thee -

    Dances With Shadows

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  9. The squaw Many Dreams gave birth on the cold dirt floor of the tepee to the boy during the First Moon of the Falling Leaves and four years later during the First Moon of the Falling Leaves the elders named him Dances With Shadows from his habit of chasing shadows on the tepee wall cast by the fire in the tepee fire pit which was surrounded by elders conversing.

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  10. Young Dances With Shadows became famous among the tribal members and the tribes round about on the high buffalo plains from his way of talking concerning things he knew nothing of and his name verbed among them to mean there he goes again talking of nothing at all.

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  11. .

    Once again Ash, I would point out your inconsistency. You pick and choose but in the end say nothing.

    On the term agnostic, you belittle the term using various examples other than the transcendental; yet when I offer you a perfectly good definition of agnostic as it is used by many today, you fall back on the original Greek definition and restrict it only to one question, "Is there a god?"

    And on the question of god, you say that being an agnostic is a cop out; yet when asked the same question, "Is there a god?", you give us


    If you meant the existence of a God in the sense that we are all a part of something larger, then yes, maybe I could answer in the affirmative along those lines but many details need still be addressed.


    Cop out?

    Good lord, thy name is cop out, Ash.


    You are essentially evading the question but, at the same time, I do value intellectual humility yet one should strive to establish a position and entertain counter arguments.

    More nonsense. No one doubts what Dawkins position is on the question "Is there a god?" He is almost 100% certain there is none. If forced to choose between yes or no, he would obviously choose no. However, on a question none of us can 'prove' either scientifically or intellectually, he admits that there is the possibility albeit a small one that he could be wrong. As I've put before, he lacks the arrogance of certainty.

    He is an agnostic.

    .

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  12. Do you believe there are yellow winged dragons living out of sight above the clouds? Are you 100% certain of that answer? It is certainly possible that they exist there, unseen, undetected. Why say "I don't know" regarding God but not those dragons?

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  13. .

    You conficently assert that there is no god, Ash.

    Prove it to me.

    .

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  14. Consider the possibility that goes beyond the term, god. God as a concept represents too many things to too many people. God has been reduced or expanded to a concept about anything and any conversation about it becomes useless.

    It is probably best to start with specific ideas: creation, expansion and longevity. Fundamentally, was the universe created or did it always exist in a form of contraction and expansion? If the universe was created, I suppose we need a creator. However if the universe and existence is a small part of a constant expansion and contraction, which looks to be a credible concept, you do not need a creator. The God concept becomes reduced to hope and faith.

    How can you believe or disbelieve in the unknowable? Only by faith or denial.

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  15. If you gave a definition of God we could look to see if we can, in the tradition of the scientific method (or by your definition of agnosticism), look to see if we can disprove that assertion.

    Unless there is reason to believe God exists why believe? Do you believe in God's existence because it is written in the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran?

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  16. I do not see how you can reasonably argue beyond the scale of agnosticism to faith. To do so it to claim to have knowledge of the unknown and worse, to have undeniable conviction about something that you say does not exist. That is a feeling, not a fact.

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  17. I always thought the Teleological argument for God's existence was the most compelling but hardly definitive.

    Another common argument is ones personal experience with God - individuals have 'seen' him - a noumenal experience or some will refer to as a 'primordial experience'. They have 'felt' his existence.

    In the end, though, unless you have good reason to believe something then why believe it? To say I don't know....

    ...where does it stop? I don't know if we should stay in Afghanistan because that is 'unknowable'? Let's invade Iran because you can't know it is the wrong thing to do? Yellow winged dragons exists because I don't know the unknowable?

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  18. You can only be sure that something does not exist if you can examine every possibility in the universe and find that your search comes up empty-handed. That has to be based on your ability to prove all that exists and that which does not. How will you prove something does not exist? You can only claim that something is unproven.

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  19. .

    If you gave a definition of God we could look to see if we can, in the tradition of the scientific method (or by your definition of agnosticism), look to see if we can disprove that assertion.

    You pick the definition. Make it easy on yourself.


    Unless there is reason to believe God exists why believe? Do you believe in God's existence because it is written in the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran?

    Your lack of intellectual curiosity is astounding. Why worry about the existance of God? Men have been pondering the question for as long as there have been men. Shamans, gurus, philosophers, poets, even scientists like Einstein. And why restrict it to the Bible, Torah, or Koran. There are the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita, the sutras, and the Book of the Dead.

    The question is universal. The fact that you lack the curiosity to pursue it, well...

    You simply say you deny it. If you can't offer any reasons for that denial than "Unless there is reason to believe God exists why believe?", it either indicates to me supreme arrogance or more likely just a lack of intellectual curiosity.

    If it's the latter, you are wasting my time.

    .

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  20. I have thought about it quite a lot Quirk. Heck, I even studied the 'question' in a formal educational environment at one point. The answer I've arrived at is as stated - unless you have good reason to believe something exists then don't believe it. I don't believe God exists as described in the three major religions.

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  21. .

    I don't believe God exists as described in the three major religions.




    A definitive statement; yet, at least so far, you have failed to present any evidence other than your 'belief' to 'prove' there is no god.

    You have also failed to refute my statement that there is no way of proving that god does not exist.

    Yet, you say agnosticism is a cop out.

    I gotta walk the dogs.

    .

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  22. That is correct - I can't prove a negative. I can't prove that yellow winged dragons don't exist either. I can't prove that Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons.

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  23. .

    That is correct - I can't prove a negative. I can't prove that yellow winged dragons don't exist either. I can't prove that Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons.


    Yet you feel perfectly justified in saying you are right. Based on what? You don't say.

    What it comes down to is your belief. Hardly what some would call proof.

    But you go even further, you state that it is a "cop out" to say that you don't know. You argue a person should take definitive position even if it is wrong.

    I find that argument laughable especially on a question for which there is no provable answer in this life.

    .

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  24. Deuce: How will you prove something does not exist? You can only claim that something is unproven.

    Since the existence of consciousness after death could be verified by the person who dies (if it exists), and since the experience of consciousness is purely internal and exclusive to the person who possesses it, and since the absence of consciousness could not be verified, even in principle, since it would require consciousness to verify its absence, it follows that consciousness after death must exist, according to the corollary to the identity axiom, if not non-A then A.

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  25. .
    Ash, you make a logical argument when you say that the inability to disprove does not prove. However, you then trivialize the issue by bringing in yellow dragons and Iran bombs, for even though the inability to disprove does not prove it also does not disprove.

    You are still left with the big questions. Where did we come from? Why are we here? What actually happened at the time of the big bang? What existed before it? Did everything just spontaneously appear from nothing? One could go on and on. I would contend some of these questions are as tough to answer as “Is there a god?”

    Which is harder to believe, that some entity, force, etc. called god initiated a process by which the universe was created or that everything we see about us just spontaneously sprang into existence 14 billion years ago? People from Aquinas to Einstein did not seem to find these matters trivial.

    Yet, you are willing to take one of these hard to believe options and say “Well, let’s drop this one.” But then someone says “do you think the universe just sprang into existence spontaneously from nothing?” What do you say? If you say yes, how do you answer those who argue with you but then also argue you can’t prove a negative. On the other hand, if you say no, you have eliminated one more possibility. Eventually, (I am assuming you are not sitting there with an answer ready to spring upon us) you run out of possibilities and are left with: “I don’t know.”

    In my opinion, when you are willing to rule out one option but offer nothing in its place, it is you who are doing the “copping out”.

    .

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  26. Since the existence of consciousness after death could be verified by the person who dies (if it exists), and since the experience of consciousness is purely internal and exclusive to the person who possesses it, and since the absence of consciousness could not be verified, even in principle, since it would require consciousness to verify its absence, it follows that consciousness after death must exist, according to the corollary to the identity axiom, if not non-A then A.

    Your premise is wrong, it contradicts the definition of death. …the existence of consciousness after death could be verified by the person who dies Consciousness and death are mutually exclusive as one of the definitions of being dead is to be in the state of permanent ending, unaware of your surroundings.

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  27. You've all lost your freakin' minds.

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  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  30. I agree that those questions are tough to answer Quirk, possibly impossible to answer depending on how the question is put forward.

    I believe a legitimate answer to questions can be "I don't know" but I also think it is a form of cop-out, avoiding the question, to use "I don't know" as a formal position, a philosophy as it were (how I interpreted agnosticism).

    For example, if I am asked "Have the Iranians mastered the nuclear fuel cycle and are on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon" I can answer, in all honesty, I don't know. The question is answerable but I don't know the answer. To the question of "Does God exist?" the parameters surrounding what God is will determine the answer to that question. If you are asking me if God exists as described in the Bible I believe the answer is No. If it is a God that defies description, that defies earthly manifestation then the question could be answered with an "I don't know" because that answer is essentially built into the question. That makes the question essentially meaningless if it can't be answered.

    In fact I think our positions are very close in these matters...

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  31. Deuce: Consciousness and death are mutually exclusive as one of the definitions of being dead is to be in the state of permanent ending, unaware of your surroundings.

    It may be the case that a person's software is backed up on the network once it has been developed.

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  32. 4
    Trippers and askers surround me,
    People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and
    city I live in, or the nation,
    The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old
    and new,
    My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
    The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
    The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss
    or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
    Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news,
    the fitful events;
    These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
    But they are not the Me myself.

    Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
    Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
    Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
    Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
    Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

    Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with
    linguists and contenders,
    I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.


    our national bard

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  33. Inspectors found traces of bleach in some of the food, but officials said it wasn't clear if it was intentional.

    Before the news became public, the Taliban claimed that one of its sympathizers had poisoned the food, though the U.S. military said there were no reports of anyone getting sick at the base in Nangarhar province.

    Afghan and U.S. officials said they were cautiously hoping that the major demonstrations have tapered off.

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  34. Since Mitt Romney and Ron Paul continue to make the curious claim that former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum isn’t a fiscal conservative, here’s a quick, pocket-sized overview of spending grade point averages (GPAs) during Santorum’s tenure in the Senate — based on grades awarded by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU). The grades from NTU — a group that stands for lower federal spending and has Steve Forbes on its board of directors — are based on the perceived effects of members’ votes (weighted based on importance) on the size of the federal budget.

    ...

    Spending GPAs Based on Grades from the National Taxpayers Union
    (4.00 equals most fiscally conservative, 0.00 equals least):


    Ron Paul: 4.00
    Rick Santorum: 3.66
    Average Republican senator from a state at least 10 points to the right of Pa.: 3.34
    Average Republican senator from a state at all to the right of Pa.: 3.30
    Average Republican senator: 3.21
    Average Republican senator from a state at least as far left as Pa.: 2.57
    Average senator (both parties included) from a state to the right of Pa.: 2.35
    Average senator (both parties included): 1.69
    Average senator (both parties included) from a state at least as far left as Pa.: 0.52
    Average Democratic senator: 0.13
    Barack Obama: 0.00

    ...

    NTU doesn’t grade governors, but the Cato Institute gave Romney a C (a 2.00) on spending during his term as governor of Massachusetts.

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  35. On this day in 2007, the Shanghai Stock Exchange fell 9%, the largest drop in 10 years. Dubbed the 'Chinese Correction', stocks sank as rumors circulated China would raise interest rates to curb inflation.

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  36. Additionally, the report urged that the central bank, the People's Bank of China be made "autonomous," and that universities also be given greater independence. It also urged that China create several "world-class research universities."

    Those recommendations could require big changes by the Communist Party—a subject the report doesn't address. For instance, the party's personnel department now hires and fires managers of state-owned firms, giving it vast power over the direction of the companies.

    The Politburo Standing Committee, the party's most powerful organization, sets broad monetary policy, which is then implemented by the PBOC.

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  37. The time has come to support policies, not people. We need solutions that are fair, bold, efficient, transparent, sustainable and generationally equitable.

    The Purple Plans reflect a non-partisan economist's solution to our problems. Each plan should appeal to both red Republicans and blue Democrats.

    ...

    President Kennedy said, "Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings."


    Purple Plans

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  38. Through December and January, Mitt Romney was comfortably ahead in polls in his home state of Michigan. Then Rick Santorum surged into the lead after his February 7 victories in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado.

    ...

    For what it's worth, it feels to me as if Santorum could win. Based on several conversations with Michiganders over the last couple of days, I'm sure the intensity is with Santorum, and my guess is the momentum is with him as well.


    Michigan Mo?

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  39. .

    You've all lost your freakin' minds.




    This from the Archbishop of Ethanol.

    The Cardinal of Corn.

    The Shaman of Switchgrass.

    The Pope of Peak Oil.

    As Rick Santorum might say, "He has a different 'theology' than most.


    :)


    .

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  40. Einstein still right. Faster than light neutrino was caused by loose cable. Whew!

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  41. How do I command my posts to stay, and make 'em stay?

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  42. The Fool Without Fossil

    aka

    The Fossil Fool

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  43. The scenario, from Shunsuke Kondo, chairman of Japan Atomic Energy Commission, was part of a new report released Tuesday by the privately funded group called the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation led by Yoichi Funabashi, a prominent journalist and former editor-in-chief of Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's main daily newspapers.

    ...

    In the report, Mr. Kondo concluded that the biggest risk to the plant was the spent-fuel pool at the No 4 reactor. The pool was located on the top floor of the structure and was exposed to the open as a result of an earlier hydrogen explosion that blew off the building's roof.

    There had been an earlier fear—shared by nuclear experts within the U.S. government—that the fuel in the pool was exposed and overheating rapidly. That was eased after an aerial photo showed the existence of water in the pool.


    Nuclear Options

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  44. .

    Einstein still right. Faster than light neutrino was caused by loose cable. Whew!


    Possibly.

    But that is mere speculation at this point, the same as saying that faster than light neutrinos have been proven.

    It will be a few months before other tests taken in different locations (Japan and the US) with different equipment will either confirm or contradict the Opera results.

    The Opera experiment will also be re-run in March.,

    .

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  45. The al Qaeda story, like the administration’s misreading of Russian intentions, petty complaints about a fractured opposition, and refusal to buttress the Free Syrian Army, allows the White House to act as a hapless spectator of a vicious civil war. It is a civil war, but it’s more than that: The regime in Damascus that has so much Syrian blood on its hands also, along with its allies in Iran and Hezbollah, has killed many thousands of Americans.

    In Lebanon, U.S. Marines, diplomats, and intelligence officials were slaughtered by Iranian and Syrian assets; in Iraq, the Syrians and Iranians backed both Sunni and Shia fighters in their war against American troops, leaving almost 5,000 dead and many more thousands wounded. Marie Colvin is just the most recent American casualty of the Assad family’s unchecked aggression.

    The administration has not only an interest but an obligation to fight back against the Iranian-Syrian assault on America—first, by bringing an end to the regime in Damascus.

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