“This site is dedicated to preying on peoples vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.”

Sunday, September 30, 2012

No privacy, no problem?




License-plate readers prompt privacy worries



Brooks Hays

License plate readers (LPRs) are multiplying around the country, allowing federal agencies to track you and your car — and raising the concerns of privacy advocates.
Hundreds of the nearly-invisible devices are already installed at fixed locations, and more are on the way, as Salon wrote earlier this week. LPRs have mostly been used by local police departments to catch car thieves, petty criminals, and unregistered drivers by capturing their license plate numbers. But recently federal bodies like the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been tapping into local databases as well as building their own systems.
Local police departments are also attaching LPRs to their cruisers, where they indiscriminately record any vehicle within range, alerting police in real time if a wanted vehicle is spotted. All scanned plates, not just those implicated in possible crimes, are recorded and tagged with GPS coordinates, a color photo and time stamp. A single scanner can record thousands of plates in a day. Because the information may be stored for several years, LPR systems can generate a retroactive surveillance story — plotting who was where, when.
Courts have held that a license plate number — which is, after all, affixed to vehicles in plain view — is not private information. Therefore, neither a warrant nor probable cause is necessary to search an LPR database.
“When you drive your car, you’re not guaranteed privacy,” as DEA spokesperson Rusty Payne  told Salon journalist Jon Campbell.
 Ars Technica reported in July that the DEA has already installed LPR devices in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico to track illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. The agency is planning to expand its systems deeper into the nation's interior.
Defenders of the technology say the devices are used solely to track suspected criminals, not innocent people. But as Forbes reported last month, the government has shared license plate tracking info with third parties like the National Insurance Crime Bureau, an Illinois nonprofit composed of hundreds of insurance firms. Earlier this year, the New York Police Department came under scrutiny for using the technology to track vehicles coming and going from city mosques.
Privacy advocates say digitization has vastly expanded what authorities can learn from physical surveillance. Stationing a police officer to observe license plates for a day is quite different from building a system of scanners that can record your plate hundreds of times in a day.
"We have a failure to understand the dangers of having a complete history of people,” Lee Tien, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization, told Ars Technica.
License plate tracking isn't the only surveillance technology garnering attention from privacy advocates. As GIMBY's News Focus reported last week, the FBI is also looking to expand its facial recognition technology using a system of nationwide surveillance cameras. And when license plate scanners and facial recognition don’t prove sufficient, there are always drones.


_______________

There is no specified protection and guarantee of privacy but there are amendments that are interpreted to include “rights to privacy.”

Bill of Rights (and 14th Amendment) Provisions Relating to the Right of Privacy
Amendment I 
(Privacy of Beliefs)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  

Amendment III
(Privacy of the Home)
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV
(Privacy of the Person and Possessions)
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment IX
(More General Protection for Privacy?)
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The Scrubbed Post from The State Department Website


benghazzi gate.jpg

September 30, 2012
WAPO Attacks: Benghazigate?

Evidence is growing that the death of four American officials in Benghazi, including a charismatic and talented ambassador, came at a time when appropriate security procedures and precautions were not being taken. That at least is the burden of this story in the Washington Post, a story that few in the White House will enjoy reading.

As reporters Ernesto Londoño and Abigail Hauslohner put it:
U.S. officials appear to have underestimated the threat facing both the ambassador and other Americans. They had not reinforced the U.S. diplomatic outpost there to meet strict safety standards for government buildings overseas. Nor had they posted a U.S. Marine detachment, as at other diplomatic sites in high-threat regions.

The article only gets more damning; in a paragraph that must have raised blood pressure from Pennsylvania Avenue to Foggy Bottom to the Obama election HQ in Chicago, the Post reports that:
Insecurity has beset Libya since the country’s civil war ended in October 2011 with Gaddafi’s dramatic execution. Militias have been reluctant to disband or surrender weapons. After the U.S. Embassy formally reopened in Tripoli last fall, the U.S. military’s Africa command dispatched a team to help build its security infrastructure. The troops, however, were never assigned to bolster security at the site in Benghazi, said Eric Elliott, a spokesman for the Africa command. Elliott and the State Department could not say why.

There is more. The office in Benghazi was neither an embassy nor a consulate; it was a “liason office” and so did not come under the rules and regulations governing larger and more formal American installations overseas. Yet there was plenty of evidence that the threats in the area were substantial and were growing:
Security in eastern Libya deteriorated sharply in recent months. A string of attacks, some linked to fundamentalist groups, made clear that Westerners were no longer safe. The International Committee of the Red Cross suspended operations and evacuated staff in the east after an attack June 12 on its compound in the port city of Misrata. In Benghazi, convoys transporting the U.N. country chief and the British ambassador were attacked in April and June, respectively. The British government shut down its consulate soon afterward.
The U.S. outpost had a close call of its own June 6, when a small roadside bomb detonated outside the walls, causing no injuries or significant damage. But the Americans stayed put.

Even so, the American response was minimal:
Instead of signing a costly security contract similar to those the government has for facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the State Department this summer awarded a contract to Blue Mountain, a small British security firm, to provide local guards at the Benghazi compound. The year-long contract, which took effect in March, was worth $387,413, a minuscule sum for war-zone contracting. Blue Mountain and the State Department declined to comment for this article.
It’s clear — as it always is when something goes this horribly wrong — that serious mistakes and misjudgments were made, and no doubt both the executive branch and the Congress will poke in the ashes until we have a pretty good idea what went wrong and how we can prevent a repetition.
But over the years I’ve spent my fair share of time with American diplomats in some tricky places, and there is always a tug of war between prudence and the desire of diplomats — often our best and most dedicated diplomats — to get out there in the field and meet the people face to face. After all, we send diplomats abroad to engage, not to hide behind concrete walls, and people who are serious about their mission are always pressing the security officials to give them more room to interact more freely and spontaneously outside the embassy walls. I once visited a madrasha in Pakistan, and the powers that be insisted that there be a squad of armed special police with automatic weapons in the room at all times.
I have to say that I thought that my message of peace and friendship was a little undercut by the presence of so much heavy metal in the room and would have preferred to take my chances with the kids, but security officers are constantly balancing risks. They aren’t omniscient, and they make mistakes.
The problems in Benghazi, though, seem to lie deeper. There was a failure to connect the dots: the deterioration of the security situation in eastern Libya was marked and ongoing, and the liaison office in Benghazi was exactly the kind of soft, prominent target that would draw the wrong kind of attention. And while all the facts aren’t in, one gets a persistent sense that the bad guys knew entirely too much about what was going on there.
The press has started digging now, and it won’t stop until it reaches bottom. The problem for the administration is that the hole keeps getting deeper, and we don’t seem to have touched bottom yet. Some of the trouble may be that the State Department and the White House haven’t finished their own investigations yet, which makes it hard to give convincing answers to reporters. But this doesn’t look any prettier the more of it we see, and it doesn’t reinforce the image of calm competence that the administration was hoping to project as the election draws near.

Storing wind and solar energy: Different strategies

Liquid metal batteries or water stored in coal mines? (it is more interesting than you think!)







Renewable energy from sun and wind is difficult to store. Disused coal mines might be able to help.
Scientists in the Ruhr Valley are considering installing pumped-storage plants in the empty shafts that are more than 1,000 meters deep in places. Excess energy from solar or wind power plants would pump water from the depths to the surface. At night, or when the wind is not blowing, the water would be allowed to fall down again and drive generators. The advantage is that the landscape above the mines would not be involved. And there are more and more disused mines - not only in Germany.
Watch the DW report below or here:

Climate Science: Storage technology for regenerative energies

  • Date 22.06.2012

Male and female economists tend to have very different political views



Revealed: Female economists are more left-wing than male as gender gap creeps into academia


PUBLISHED: 00:58 EST, 30 September 2012 | UPDATED: 00:58 EST, 30 September 2012

Economists like to think of themselves of impartial experts who use their mathematical knowledge to reach rational solutions to the worlds problems.

But a new study has undermined that argument - as it reveals that academics opinions are partly based on their gender.

Female economists are significantly more left-wing than their male counterparts, who are more likely to hold free-market views.

Gap: Male and female economists tend to have very different political views
The extraordinary finding results from a survey of the political and professional beliefs of 400 economists, reported by USA Today.

On the whole, most economists are more likely to support free markets and low regulations than the general public.

But this tendency is much more pronounced among male economists, 59 per cent of whom believe the U.S. suffers from too much regulation - compared to just 35 per cent of women.

The political gap between men and women in the profession is apparent in nearly every area of policy.

On education, male economists are passionate supporters of introducing vouchers to enable parents to choose their children's schools.

61 per cent of them agree with the proposal, while just 14 per cent oppose it - but their female colleagues are overall against the plan.

By contrast, one policy proposal supported by women economists is forcing companies to pay for their employees' health insurance, a law which would be strongly opposed by men.

Perhaps the most controversial point of disagreement is over the pay gap between men and women.

The vast majority of male economists attribute any discrepancy to natural economic factors, whereas most female economists blames it on societal discrimination.

There are some areas where economists of both sexes agree - they all tend to be fans of Walmart, and foes of excessive military spending.




Saturday, September 29, 2012

Washington Post covers for Israeli lobbyist’s attempts to drag US into war with Iran.



‘Washington Post’ runs op-ed pushing Iran attack without saying authors work for Israel’s registered foreign agent
-Phillip Weiss MONDOWEISS

More subterfuge in our discourse. The Washington Post published an op-ed piece yesterday on the importance of finding a legal basis for an attack on Iran. Not surprisingly, the op-ed's authors, Jeffrey H. Smith and John B. Bellinger III, lawyers at Arnold & Porter, supplied such a basis.
Grant Smith sent me this letter that he had sent to the Washington Post:
“Would it be too much to ask that WAPO reveal that according to the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Act section, Arnold and Porter has been serving as Israel's registered foreign agent since June of 1964?  Would it be a lot more to mention that since 2010 the firm has been receiving a $10,000 per month retainer for advisory services and "special projects?"  Could WAPO possibly trouble itself to inform readers that according to FARA filings the firm earned $1.2 million in fees in 2010 alone from the Israeli government?  Arnold and Porter is now Israel's largest and longest serving registered foreign agent (not that there aren’t more than a handful of unregistered ones). "
More to the point, why should Americans believe such legalistic and non-contextual Iran attack propaganda courtesy of Israeli foreign agents?”
Smith wrote about Arnold & Porter in his book Divert. Excerpt:
“Arnold & Porter represented several Israeli government officials in US courts by arguing that sovereign immunity mandates provide blanket protection from legal liability for their actions. In 2007 the firm won dismissal of war crimes and crimes against humanity claims brought by Palestinians against former General Security Service head Avraham Dichter. In 2005 the firm won dismissal of similar claims against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other senior officials, Israeli military forces and an intelligence agency. In 2006 Arnold & Porter also won dismissal of similar claims focusing on a single Israeli officials actions that resulted in civilian casualties in 1996. In 2008 Israel's Treasury paid Arnold & Porter $483,401 to defend such actions. In the year 2010 the firm signed a renewable contract with Israel for a $10,000 per month retainer for legal and advisory services and "special projects" with $8,000 in allowed travel expenses. Arnold & Porter reported $1.2 million in fees from the government of Israel for the year 2010.”



HAT TIP: Quirk

Friday, September 28, 2012

What really happened in Benghazi?

This morning, the NY Times is still causing this a crime. It very may well be both a terror attack and a crime. I did not publish the entire article that appeared in  Canada here.

Prelude to attack


In the days and weeks leading up to the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, the U.S. Department of State received at least three warnings of not only impending violence, but of U.S. embassies being specifically targeted. One warning was specific to the U.S. embassy in Cairo, which was directly related to the current imprisonment of the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Others specified the Libyan embassy.
On September 9, 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reportedly received a warning that stated “[t]he time has come for a strong movement from you, O sons of Egypt, to release the detained sheikh…Let your slogan be: No to the American embassy in Egypt until our detained sheikh is released. Starting now, let the faithful among you form follow-up committees in charge of taking the necessary measures to force America to release the sheikh, even if it requires burning the embassy down with everyone in it.”
The warnings in the week before the attack were received while Ambassador Stevens was traveling in Germany, Austria and Sweden. Accordingly, it is important to determine whyAmbassador Stevens was at the consulate office in Benghazi during a time of heightened threat, was he made aware of the increased threat situation by the Clinton State Department, and who was responsible for the safety and security of Ambassador Stevens and what actually happened in Benghazi?
Research, investigation and confirmation from one source within the U.S. government found that in the situation involving Stevens, protection of the U.S. consulate was provided in large part by an organization known as “the Martyrs of the Feb. 17 Revolution Brigade.” This is a local Libyan militia led by Fawzi abu Kataf, who has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. It is now being reported that the “protection team,” specifically the leaders of the Martyrs of the Feb. 17 Revolution Brigade received orders from a senior Libyan government official to stand down during the coordinated attack against the U.S. Consulate.
It is unclear whether Ambassador Stevens was made aware of the threats, but it would logical to believe that he was not aware of the stand-down order or the impending attack. Regardless, it is important to determine what Ambassador Stevens’ mission was in Benghazi along with Foreign Service officer Sean Smith and Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

On the ground in Benghazi: timeline


Prior to any overt attack, it is vital to note that FSO Sean Smith, known as vile_rat in the online gaming community, posted the following disturbing message to an open gaming forum:“vile_rat: assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.” Investigation suggests that FSO Smith was referencing a member of the Martyrs of the Feb. 17 Revolution Brigade.
8:00 p.m.: Sometime around 8:00 p.m., Ambassador Stevens completed a meeting with the Turkish Consul General, allegedly at the Benghazi compound. Contrary to the insistence of the Obama administration, there were no Muslim protestors at or around the compound. This was substantiated by CBS News and also The New York Times.
9:30-10:30 p.m.: At or about 9:30 p.m. local time, Muslim terrorists attacked the consulate from three sides with rocket propelled grenade launchers and laser sighted weapons, breaching the walls that surrounded the property. No security forces were present to repel the attack. It was reported that upwards of twenty Americans were inside of the compound at this time, although this has yet to be confirmed.
10:30 p.m. The attackers gain access to the interior portion of the compound. Reports suggest that only Ambassador Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith and Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were inside and failed in their attempt to repel the attackers.
It was during this time that Libyan government reinforcements arrived. One of the reinforcements allegedly makes it inside, finds the body of Sean Smith, but is unable to locate the Ambassador. It was also during this time that the attackers storm the rear portion of the compound. The reinforcements retreat to a safe-house located about one-half mile away.
12:30 a.m. The attackers are seen on video pulling the body of Ambassador Stevens from the compound while shouting praises to Allah.
1:00 - 3:30 a.m.: Accounts as to the location of Ambassador Stevens vary, but it is confirmed that his body was located at the Benghazi Medical Center at approximately 3:30 a.m.
Numerous reports suggest that Ambassador Stevens suffered either ante-mortem or post-mortem injuries suggestive of sodomy. Additional reports also suggest that numerous classified documents were recovered from the consulate office by the attackers.
It was almost immediately following public reports of the attack that U.S. government officials, including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama, asserted that the attack on the U.S. embassy were the direct result of the video Innocence of Muslims. They also publicly stated that the attacks were spontaneous, there was no pre-planning involved in the attack, and cell phone video taken of Ambassador Stevens being pulled from the compound was documentation of a rescue attempt.
In consideration of the above information, it is clear that this administration is being disingenuous in their continued denials that (1) the attack was spontaneous; (2) a video, virtually unknown until after the 9/11 Libyan attacks, is behind these attacks; (3) they had no advance warning of impending attacks. So, where does this leave us?

Interview with Steve Klein, video spokesman


After a 90-minute interview on The Hagmann & Hagmann Report with Steven Klein, the spokesman for the video that can be heard here, it would appear that there are even more questions than answers with regard to this video.
Mr. Klein stated that he agreed to be a spokesman for the producers of the film after they were forced into hiding by the blowback from the negative publicity, yet denied knowing much about the production or providence of the video. However, he described those who were involved in creating the video as “refugees” who initially approached him, before the video even entered the production phase, with questions about First Amendment issues. He refused to identify the individuals behind the video by name, citing concern for their safety and protection. His rather cavalier attitude, in addition to his claims of not knowing a number of critical details of the production and providence of the video suggests either an incredible level of naivet√© or perhaps something else. Based on my professional investigative assessment, I am compelled to believe the latter.

Conclusion


At this point, I have a better grasp of the lies, misinformation and disinformation associated with the video and our government’s exploitation of it than I do solid truths.
This video appeared to come out of nowhere and seems to have been amateurishly produced. It is so poorly done that many are still unable to determine whether it was created as a parody or if it was a serious attempt at some type of documentary. It is interesting to note that among those who claim they don’t know is Mr. Klein, the current spokesman for the video. This is problematic and troublesome to say the least.
If my investigative findings are correct, there appear to be some very disconcerting ties between this video and individuals and entities associated with our own government. The official narrative of everyone from Obama to Rice to Obama presidential campaign advisor Robert Gibbs is that this specific video is to blame for the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans in Libya.
Clearly, their continued assertions in the face of contrary evidence suggests something much larger. The video appears to be serving multiple purposes. It appears to be a multi-faceted catalyst by seemingly opposing parties to advance different agendas. One might be to suppress any criticism of Islam and ultimately restrict our freedom of speech - both religious and political dissent, while the other is to foment chaos in Islamic countries as a means to an end.
Despite the gradual awakening of people to the larger agendas, both agendas seem to be working. My investigation is continuing.

When politicians are out of ideas, they go for patriotism. Obama calls for economic patriotism.

There is really not a lot going on between those two big ears is there?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Put away the blindfold, try a veil: How about a Muslim chick?

“Presidential Perks Gone Royal”




Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion dollars on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining President Obama and his family last year, according to the author of a new book on taxpayer-funded presidential perks.… 

 Author Robert Keith Gray writes in “Presidential Perks Gone Royal” that Obama isn’t the only president to have taken advantage of the expensive trappings of his office. But the amount of money spent on the first family, he argues, has risen tremendously under the Obama administration and needs to be reined in. Gray told The Daily Caller that the $1.4 billion spent on the Obama family last year is the “total cost of the presidency,” factoring the cost of the “biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever,” a 50 percent increase in the numbers of appointed czars and an Air Force One “running with the frequency of a scheduled air line.”

Washington Times


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

He is not my Prophet: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”- Barrack Hussein Obama

How is this guy possibly POTUS?

President Obama Says We "must" Condemn "those who slander the prophet of Islam," Among Others


Today, President Barack Obama delivered four pretty good paragraphs to the United Nations about the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and the underlying principles of free speech and tolerance-of-minority-viewpoints it reflects. In the as-prepared transcript of the speech, the good material in question can be found starting with the sentence "I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video," and concluding with the accurate kicker, "There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan."
I would be inclined to quote more, if it weren't for the Obama administration's own sorry record of video apologetics and premature blame these past two weeks, and for the fact that the president's welcome-if-overdue remarks today were bracketed by some assertions that can best be described as heinous. First, the noxious preamble:
In every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening; in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask how much they are willing to tolerate freedom for others.
That is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well – for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion – we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.
Then, the worse postscript:
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims.
As with every empty political speech or newspaper editorial, focus here on the authoritarian if blustery word must. In order:
in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask how much they are willing to tolerate freedom for others.
Let's see, I love freedom for myself (and others); am I somehow compelled to ask myself how much freedom I can tolerate from my fellow residents of the United States? Hell no, I'm not. We have a mostly free system that can and should be much freer, but there is no requirement to have this conversation, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
It deteriorates rapidly from there:
I believe [the video's] message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.
So many things wrong in so few words. Why this video, and not Theo Van Gogh's Submission, or Lars Vilks' animation of Mohammed wanting to go to a gay bar, the "Super Best Friends" episode of South Park, or Funny or Die's "How to Pick a Pocket"? Is it the degree of the insult, the craptasticness of the production values, the size of the release, or the vociferousness of the outrage expressed?
Given the track record of our past two administrations, I think we know the answer to that question, which suggests another thing terrible about this sentence: As Eugene Volokh recently pointed out, "Behavior that gets rewarded, gets repeated." If all it takes to earn a White House call for global condemnation of a single piece of expression is some violent protests outside a dozen or two diplomatic missions, then the perpetually aggrieved know exactly what to do the next time they pluck out some bit of cultural detritus to be offended by.
It is not any politician's job, and certainly not any American politician's job, to instruct the entire world on which films to criticize.
And speaking of that favorite State Department word, rejected--isn't that a word to describe what you do to something that gets in your face, or body? In medicine, the body "rejects" organs or other dissonant substances that have been introduced within it. In basketball, not every blocked shot is a "rejection," mostly those that come when the offensive player is driving aggressively toward the vicinity of the hoop. Innocence of Muslims didn't get all up in someone's grill, it lay forlorn and neglected on YouTube until some people (pro and con) decided to get excited by it. Even then, it is a remarkably easy piece of culture to avoid coming into contact with. "Rejected" implies a cultural potency that "Sam Becile" (or as I prefer, "C'est imbecile") could never dream of.
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.
Not your call, dude. Also, not my "prophet."
Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied.
Even though you can see what the president's getting at in terms of equivalent outrage, he's still way off base here. It is not our job to condemn blasphemy of any kind, period. As individuals we might criticize a few bits here and there, but we mostly ignore the vast ocean of what various people may consider "hateful" or "offensive" speech, and rightly so.
There was much else to criticize in Obama's speech today, most notably a deeply incoherent depiction of America's role in the world. But it’s certainly worth noting that a president who thought he was making a profound defense of American freedom of speech has continued his administration's two-week assault on the very notion.

Taliban can attack US forces at times and places of its choosing.

The increasingly corrupt and despicable US Media provide better cover for the Obama Regime than Pentagon can provide cover for US forces in Afghanistan:


The Long War Journal

Friday night's "well-coordinated" suicide assault on Camp Bastion resulted in the destruction of six US Harrier strike aircraft and significant damage to two others. The members of the suicide assault team wore US Army uniforms and "appeared to be well equipped, trained and rehearsed," the International Security Assistance Force said.
The nighttime attack, in which a suicide assault team penetrated the perimeter of Camp Bastion, a sprawling base in the Desert of Death in Helmand province, resulted in the death of two ISAF soldiers. Eight other ISAF troops and a civilian contractor were wounded in the attack. Fourteen members of the assault team were killed and one more was wounded and captured.
"The attack commenced just after 10 p.m. when approximately 15 insurgents executed a well-coordinated attack against the airfield on Camp Bastion," ISAF said in a statement that provided additional details on the attack. "The insurgents, organized into three teams, penetrated at one point of the perimeter fence."
The members of the jihadist assault team were "dressed in U.S. Army uniforms and armed with automatic rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers and suicide vests.”

Once inside the perimeter, the assault team "attacked coalition fixed and rotary wing aircraft parked on the flight line, aircraft hangars and other buildings."
ISAF confirmed that six AV-8B Harrier strike aircraft "were destroyed" and two more "were significantly damaged." Although ISAF did not state which country owned flew the aircraft, the US Marine Corps is the only military branch flying Harriers in Afghanistan. The aircraft cost an estimated $30 million each.
Additionally, "three coalition refueling stations were also destroyed. Six soft-skin aircraft hangars were damaged to some degree."
ISAF said on the day of the attack that it "has determined that despite the damage, there will be no impact to ground or air operations from Camp Bastion."
However, a US Marine aviation officer familiar with operations in southern Afghanistan disagreed. The Harriers are used to provide close air support for Coalition forces conducting combat and counterinsurgency operations in the south, and with eight of the aircraft taken offline, there will be less to support these missions.
"Our resources in the south -- including aircraft -- are already stretched," the officer told The Long War Journal. "We couldn't afford this loss, and our troops on the ground are going to feel this."
Friday's complex attack on Bastion is very similar to a host of other assaults on major bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan that have taken place over the years. An alliance of jihadist groups, that include the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, al Qaeda, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and other terror groups have penetrated bases and targeted aircraft and other personnel. [See LWJ report, Jihadists launch complex assault on Camp Bastion in Helmand, for a list of the more significant attacks since 2009.]

Correction/update: the article was updated to note that the Harriers were from the US Marine Corps. The British military retired its Harriers two years ago. In the past, Harriers were stationed in Afghanistan.
Back to the future:



Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/09/6_harrier_jets_destr.php#ixzz27YpEtduN

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Obama’s bumps in the road

Obama’s bumpy road to the future is shovel ready for someone who knows how to fix it. Any novice driver soon learns how to avoid them. Obama is philosophical.




Romney responds:



Saturday, September 22, 2012

It wasn’t just the Germans. You just never heard about this story.


The European Atrocity You Never Heard About

The European Atrocity You Never Heard About 1
Hoover Institution Archives
In the largest episode of forced migration in history, millions of German-speaking civilians were sent to Germany from Czechoslovakia (above) and other European countries after World War II by order of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union.
The screams that rang throughout the darkened cattle car crammed with deportees, as it jolted across the icy Polish countryside five nights before Christmas, were Dr. Loch's only means of locating his patient. The doctor, formerly chief medical officer of a large urban hospital, now found himself clambering over piles of baggage, fellow passengers, and buckets used as toilets, only to find his path blocked by an old woman who ignored his request to move aside. On closer examination, he discovered that she had frozen to death.
Finally he located the source of the screams, a pregnant woman who had gone into premature labor and was hemorrhaging profusely. When he attempted to move her from where she lay into a more comfortable position, he found that "she was frozen to the floor with her own blood." Other than temporarily stanching the bleeding, Loch was unable to do anything to help her, and he never learned whether she had lived or died. When the train made its first stop, after more than four days in transit, 16 frost-covered corpses were pulled from the wagons before the remaining deportees were put back on board to continue their journey. A further 42 passengers would later succumb to the effects of their ordeal, among them Loch's wife.
The European Atrocity You Never Heard About 2
Hoover Institution Archives
An estimated 500,000 people died in the course of the organized expulsions; survivors were left in Allied-occupied Germany to fend for themselves.
During the Second World War, tragic scenes like those were commonplace, as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin moved around entire populations like pieces on a chessboard, seeking to reshape the demographic profile of Europe according to their own preferences. What was different about the deportation of Loch and his fellow passengers, however, was that it took place by order of the United States and Britain as well as the Soviet Union, nearly two years after the declaration of peace.
Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians—the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children under 16—were forcibly ejected from their places of birth in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and what are today the western districts of Poland. As The New York Times noted in December 1945, the number of people the Allies proposed to transfer in just a few months was about the same as the total number of all the immigrants admitted to the United States since the beginning of the 20th century. They were deposited among the ruins of Allied-occupied Germany to fend for themselves as best they could. The number who died as a result of starvation, disease, beatings, or outright execution is unknown, but conservative estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people lost their lives in the course of the operation.
Most disturbingly of all, tens of thousands perished as a result of ill treatment while being used as slave labor (or, in the Allies' cynical formulation, "reparations in kind") in a vast network of camps extending across central and southeastern Europe—many of which, like Auschwitz I and Theresienstadt, were former German concentration camps kept in operation for years after the war. As Sir John Colville, formerly Winston Churchill's private secretary, told his colleagues in the British Foreign Office in 1946, it was clear that "concentration camps and all they stand for did not come to an end with the defeat of Germany." Ironically, no more than 100 or so miles away from the camps being put to this new use, the surviving Nazi leaders were being tried by the Allies in the courtroom at Nuremberg on a bill of indictment that listed "deportation and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population" under the heading of "crimes against humanity."
By any measure, the postwar expulsions were a manmade disaster and one of the most significant examples of the mass violation of human rights in recent history. Yet although they occurred within living memory, in time of peace, and in the middle of the world's most densely populated continent, they remain all but unknown outside Germany itself. On the rare occasions that they rate more than a footnote in European-history textbooks, they are commonly depicted as justified retribution for Nazi Germany's wartime atrocities or a painful but necessary expedient to ensure the future peace of Europe. As the historian Richard J. Evans asserted in In Hitler's Shadow(1989) the decision to purge the continent of its German-speaking minorities remains "defensible" in light of the Holocaust and has shown itself to be a successful experiment in "defusing ethnic antagonisms through the mass transfer of populations."
Even at the time, not everyone agreed. George Orwell, an outspoken opponent of the expulsions, pointed out in his essay "Politics and the English Language" that the expression "transfer of population" was one of a number of euphemisms whose purpose was "largely the defense of the indefensible." The philosopher Bertrand Russell acidly inquired: "Are mass deportations crimes when committed by our enemies during war and justifiable measures of social adjustment when carried out by our allies in time of peace?" A still more uncomfortable observation was made by the left-wing publisher Victor Gollancz, who reasoned that "if every German was indeed responsible for what happened at Belsen, then we, as members of a democratic country and not a fascist one with no free press or parliament, were responsible individually as well as collectively" for what was being done to noncombatants in the Allies' name.
That the expulsions would inevitably cause death and hardship on a very large scale had been fully recognized by those who set them in motion. To a considerable extent, they were counting on it. For the expelling countries—especially Czechoslovakia and Poland—the use of terror against their German-speaking populations was intended not simply as revenge for their wartime victimization, but also as a means of triggering a mass stampede across the borders and finally achieving their governments' prewar ambition to create ethnically homogeneous nation-states. (Before 1939, less than two-thirds of Poland's population, and only a slightly larger proportion of Czechoslovakia's, consisted of gentile Poles, Czechs, or Slovaks.)
For the Soviets, who had "compensated" Poland for its territorial losses to the Soviet Union in 1939 by moving its western border more than 100 miles inside German territory, the clearance of the newly "Polish" western lands and the dumping of their millions of displaced inhabitants amid the ruins of the former Reich served Stalin's twin goals of impeding Germany's postwar recovery and eliminating any possibility of a future Polish-German rapprochement. The British viewed the widespread suffering that would inevitably attend the expulsions as a salutary form of re-education of the German population. "Everything that brings home to the Germans the completeness and irrevocability of their defeat," Deputy Prime Minister Clement Richard Attlee wrote in 1943, "is worthwhile in the end." And the Americans, as Laurence Steinhardt, ambassador to Prague, recorded, hoped that by displaying an "understanding" and cooperative attitude toward the expelling countries' desire to be rid of their German populations, the United States could demonstrate its sympathy for those countries' national aspirations and prevent them from drifting into the Communist orbit.
The Allies, then, knowingly embarked on a course that, as the British government was warned in 1944 by its own panel of experts, was "bound to cause immense suffering and dislocation." That the expulsions did not lead to the worst consequences that could be expected from the chaotic cattle drive of millions of impoverished, embittered, and rootless deportees into a war-devastated country that had nowhere to put them was due to three main factors.
The first was the skill with which the postwar German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, drew the expellees into mainstream politics, defusing the threat of a potentially radical and disruptive bloc. The second was the readiness of most expellees—the occasionally crass or undiplomatic statements of their leaders notwithstanding—to renounce the use or threat of force as a means of redressing their grievances. The third, and by far the most important, was the 30-year-long "economic miracle" that made possible the housing, feeding, and employment of the largest homeless population with which any industrial country has ever had to contend. (In East Germany, on the other hand, the fact that the standard of living for the indigenous population was already so low meant that the economic gap between it and the four million arriving expellees was more easily bridged.)
The downside of "economic miracles," though, is that, as their name suggests, they can't be relied upon to come along where and when they are most needed. By extraordinary good fortune, the Allies avoided reaping the harvest of their own recklessness. Nonetheless, the expulsions have cast a long and baleful shadow over central and southeastern Europe, even to the present day. Their disruptive demographic, economic, and even—as Eagle Glassheim has pointed out—environmental consequences continue to be felt more than 60 years later. The overnight transformation of some of the most heterogeneous regions of the European continent into virtual ethnic monoliths changed the trajectory of domestic politics in the expelling countries in significant and unpredicted ways. Culturally, the effort to eradicate every trace of hundreds of years of German presence and to write it out of national and local histories produced among the new Polish and Czech settler communities in the cleared areas what Gregor Thum has described as a state of "amputated memory." As Thum shows in his groundbreaking study of postwar Wroclaw—until 1945 and the removal of its entire population, the German city of Breslau—the challenge of confronting their hometown's difficult past is one that post-Communist Wroclawites have only recently taken up. In most other parts of Central Europe, it has hardly even begun.
Still less so in the English-speaking world. It is important to note that the expulsions are in no way to be compared to the genocidal Nazi campaign that preceded them. But neither can the supreme atrocity of our time become a yardstick by which gross abuses of human rights are allowed to go unrecognized for what they are. Contradicting Allied rhetoric that asserted that World War II had been fought above all to uphold the dignity and worth of all people, the Germans included, thousands of Western officials, servicemen, and technocrats took a full part in carrying out a program that, when perpetrated by their wartime enemies, they did not hesitate to denounce as contrary to all principles of humanity.
The degree of cognitive dissonance to which this led was exemplified by the career of Colonel John Fye, chief U.S. liaison officer for expulsion affairs to the Czechoslovak government. The operation he had helped carry out, he acknowledged, drew in "innocent people who had never raised so much as a word of protest against the Czechoslovak people." To accomplish it, women and children had been thrown into detention facilities, "many of which were little better than the ex-German concentration camps." Yet these stirrings of unease did not prevent Fye from accepting a decoration from the Prague government for what the official citation candidly described as his valuable services "in expelling Germans from Czechoslovakia."
Today we have come not much further than Fye did in acknowledging the pivotal role played by the Allies in conceiving and executing an operation that exceeded in both scale and lethality the violent breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It is unnecessary to attribute this to any "taboo" or "conspiracy of silence." Rather, what is denied is not the fact of the expulsions themselves, but their significance.
Many European commentators have maintained that to draw attention to them runs the risk of diminishing the horror that ought properly to be reserved for the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities, or giving rise to a self-pitying "victim" mentality among today's generation of Germans, for whom the war is an increasingly distant memory. Czechs, Poles, and citizens of other expelling states fear the legal ramifications of a re-examination of the means by which millions of erstwhile citizens of those countries were deprived of their nationality, liberty, and property. To this day, the postwar decrees expropriating and denationalizing Germans remain on the statute book of the Czech Republic, and their legality has recently been reaffirmed by the Czech constitutional court.
Some notable exceptions aside, like T. David Curp, Matthew Frank, and David Gerlach, English-speaking historians—out of either understandable sympathy for Germany's victims or reluctance to complicate the narrative of what is still justifiably considered a "good war"—have also not been overeager to delve into the history of a messy, complex, morally ambiguous, and politically sensitive episode, in which few if any of those involved appear in a creditable light.
By no means are all of these concerns unworthy ones. But neither are they valid reasons for failing to engage seriously with an episode of such obvious importance, and to integrate it within the broader narrative of modern European history. For historians to write—and, still worse, to teach—as though the expulsions had never taken place or, having occurred, are of no particular significance to the societies affected by them, is both intellectually and pedagogically unsustainable.
The fact that population transfers are currently making a comeback on the scholarly and policy agenda also suggests that we should scrutinize with particular care the most extensive experiment made with them to date. Despite the gruesome history, enthusiasts continue to chase the mirage of "humane" mass deportations as a means of resolving intractable ethnic problems. Andrew Bell-Fialkoff, in a much-cited study, has advocated population transfers as a valuable tool so long as they are "conducted in a humane, well-organized manner, like the transfer of Germans from Czechoslovakia by the Allies in 1945-47." John Mearsheimer, Chaim Kaufmann, Michael Mann and others have done likewise.
Few wars today, whether within or between states, do not feature an attempt by one or both sides to create facts on the ground by forcibly displacing minority populations perceived as alien to the national community. And although the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court has attempted to restrain this tendency by prohibiting mass deportations, Elazar Barkan maintains that such proscriptions are far from absolute, and that "today there is no single code of international law that explicitly outlaws population transfers either in terms of group or individual rights protections."
The expulsion of the ethnic Germans is thus of contemporary as well as historical relevance. At present, though, the study of many vital elements of this topic is still in its earliest stages. Innumerable questions—about the archipelago of camps and detention centers, the precise number and location of which are still undetermined; the sexual victimization of female expellees, which was on a scale to rival the mass rapes perpetrated by Red Army soldiers in occupied Germany; the full part played by the Soviet and U.S. governments in planning and executing the expulsions—remain to be fully answered. At a moment when the surviving expellees are passing away and many, though far from all, of the relevant archives have been opened, the time has come for this painful but pivotal chapter in Europe's recent history to receive at last the scholarly attention it deserves.
R.M. Douglas is an associate professor of history at Colgate University. This essay is adapted from his new book, published by Yale University Press, Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans After the Second World War.

'First we hit her in the tits with a stick and then we beat her rear end with a bare bayonet. Then we fucked her, and then we threw her outside and shot at her. When she was lying there on her back, we threw grenades at her. 'Every time one of them landed near her body, she screamed.' ‘And just think, there were eight German officers sitting at that table with me, and they all broke out laughing.’


'I liked to shoot everything - women, kids... it was kind of sport': Secret Nazi tapes reveal how ordinary German soldiers were responsible for war crimes and not just SS



Secret recordings made by British intelligence during the Second World War have revealed for the first time the horrific atrocities carried out by everyday German soldiers.
For years the blame for horrific war crimes, rape and genocide were laid at the hands of the SS and Hitler's right hand men but a new book details how widespread the barbarity went. 
Transcripts taken from hidden microphones on prisoners of war have been collated for the disturbing book Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing and Dying: The Secret Second World War Tapes of German POWs.
Revelations: The new book reveals how soldiers like this one callously murdered the innocent and then joked about it with fellow soldiers
Revelations: The new book reveals how soldiers like this one callously murdered the innocent and then joked about it with fellow soldiers
Tainted: German soldiers crouch over the bodies of two shot down civilians
Tainted: German soldiers crouch over the bodies of two shot down civilians
Recordings: The tapes reveal that many of the German soldiers were fully aware of death camps - despite many stating differently
Recordings: The tapes reveal that many of the German soldiers were fully aware of death camps - despite many stating differently

Between 1940 and 1945 the British and Americans bugged about 13,000 German and several hundred Italian soldiers of all ranks and services - many of which in the Trent Park detention centre for POWs in north London.
It was hoped the recordings would reveal military secrets of potentially strategic importance, instead they catalogued open and uncensored conversations about war experiences - often as to boast.
Evil: It appears the atrocities carried out by the SS and Adolf Hitler's henchmen were a lot more widespread and done by ordinary soldiers
Evil: It appears the atrocities carried out by the SS and Adolf Hitler's henchmen were a lot more widespread and done by ordinary soldiers
They detail not only the extreme level of violence but a disturbing sense of enjoyment from the soldiers.
One example of many recounts:  'There was an event in the market square, crowds of people, speeches given. We really sprayed them! That was fun!' 
Another reveals the following conversation: 'We once did a strafing near Eastbourne. We flew up and saw a big castle; there seemed to be a ball or something – anyhow a lot of ladies in evening dress and a band. 
'The first time we flew past; then we attacked and kept at it. Boy oh boy, was that fun.'
Another reveals: 'I loved dropping bombs. It makes you feel all tingly, a great feeling. It’s as good as shooting someone down.' 
The book, which has been compiled by German historians Soenke Neitzel and Harald Welzer has been translated in to English for the first time, dispelling myths that German soldiers were not responsible for such war crimes.
It offers a bleak inside view of World War II and in doing so, they destroy once and for the myth of a 'clean' Wehrmacht - the German name for the armed forced.

The soldiers talk about their views of the enemy and their own leaders, discuss the details of combat missions and trade astonishingly detailed accounts of the atrocities they both witnessed and committed.

War crimes: The likes of Josef Mengele (left) known as 'The Angel of Death', Rudolf Hoss and Josef Kramer were well known war criminals but hidden microphones reveal how Wehrmacht soldiers were embroiled in the atrocities
War crimes: The likes of Josef Mengele (left) known as 'The Angel of Death', Rudolf Hoss and Josef Kramer were well known war criminals but hidden microphones reveal how Wehrmacht soldiers were embroiled in the atrocities

One passage reads: Zotlöterer: 'I shot a Frenchman from behind. He was riding a bicycle.'

Weber: 'At close range?'

Zotlöterer: 'Yes.'

Heuser: 'Did he want to take you prisoner?'

Zotlöterer: 'Nonsense. I wanted the bicycle.'
The material contains disturbing accounts of sexual abuse, rape and torture as well.

Disturbing: Women and children were not spared by trigger happy soldiers, some of whom described killing as 'fun'

Disturbing: Women and children were not spared by trigger happy soldiers, some of whom described killing as ‘fun’

Executions: German soldiers line up and execute a group of Jewish men by the banks of the Danube in Hungary
Executions: German soldiers line up and execute a group of Jewish men by the banks of the Danube in Hungary

In one section a passage attributed to Reimbold reads: 'In the first officers' prison camp where I was being kept here, there was a really stupid guy from Frankfurt , a young lieutenant, a young upstart.  
'And he said: 'Oh, we caught this female spy who had been running around in the neighborhood.
    'First we hit her in the t**s with a stick and then we beat her rear end with a bare bayonet. 
    Then we f***** her, and then we threw her outside and shot at her. When she was lying there on her back, we threw grenades at her.
    'Every time one of them landed near her body, she screamed.' 
    ‘And just think, there were eight German officers sitting at that table with me, and they all broke out laughing.’

    British intelligence: Microphones hidden on POWs at Trent Park in north London helped reveal how many soldiers boasted about their atrocities
    British intelligence: Microphones hidden on POWs at Trent Park in north London helped reveal how many soldiers boasted about their atrocities


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2206982/I-liked-shoot--women-kids--kind-sport-Secret-Nazi-tapes-reveal-ordinary-German-soldiers-responsible-war-crimes-just-SS.html#ixzz27CkMx2sy
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook