“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Missile Defense Pandering to the Russians

Does not look like he is a kidder.

Some day soon, one can hope that the Star Trek lobby will have waned and we can end international cooperation in space stations. (We do not need international space stations. We need a reliable cargo launching US missile platform.)

Meanwhile Russians and Chinese are separately planning sending men to the moon. The Russians say they plan a permanent moon base. You will recall that the Russians recently claimed the North Pole and one can assume they will do the same with the moon. Meanwhile back on earth, some leading US technical authority thinks it would be a good idea to allow the Russians to help us pick a site for missile defense radar sites in areas that they control. This sounds like moon thinking.

Is our technical expert aware that the Russians have recently decided to use oil pipelines as political weapons? Where is good dot-joining when we need it? Could it be possible that some future Russian commissar might say to the US ," the road to your radar site is temporarily closed for repairs. We will call you when it is fixed, how about a nice cup of tea?"

U.S. specialist favors Putin's missile logic
By Rachel Kaufman
September 1, 2007

A leading U.S. technical authority on missile defense said this week that geography and topography would make Azerbaijan a better site to defend the United States and its allies from terrorist rockets than would the locations in Eastern Europe preferred by the Bush administration.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a harsh critic of the original U.S. basing plan, has strongly pushed for the Azerbaijan site. U.S. officials cite a potential missile strike from Iran — thought to be seeking nuclear arms — as a key reason a shield is needed.

U.S. planners continue to express deep doubts about the Russian plan, but a senior Russian official said yesterday that American, Russian and Azeri specialists had agreed to meet in Baku on Sept. 15 for another round of technical talks on the issue.

The Baku meeting would discuss "the joint use of the radar and the question of anti-missile defense as a whole," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin told Agence France-Presse on a visit to the Azerbaijan capital. U.S. and Azerbaijan officials did not confirm the Sept. 15 date, but acknowledged that expert discussions have been held.

Theodore Poston, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at MIT, said he favored NATO member Turkey as a possible location for interceptor missiles.

The most effective system to guard Europe from a terrorist missile would allow a U.S. missile-interceptor system to work with Russian radar already situated in Azerbaijan, Mr. Poston said at a Washington conference on missile defense Tuesday.

A joint system, he said, would combine the strengths of each system, and balance out their weaknesses.

Mr. Putin has argued that U.S. plans to establish a radar base in the Czech Republic to guide interceptor missiles based in Poland would directly threaten Russia's national security by neutralizing its nuclear arsenal. Bush administration officials counter that the modest system is no threat to Russia's vast nuclear stocks.

Mr. Putin expressed his anxieties at a meeting with President Bush before the June Group of Eight summit in Germany and made a surprise offer that the United States use a former Soviet base in Gabala, Azerbaijan, instead.

Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, who heads the Pentagon missile defense agency, said the Azerbaijan radar site is too close to Iran to replace the system planned for Eastern Europe.

The Russian radar could track a missile early in its flight from Iran, but would have trouble directing interceptor missiles once the missiles were launched, he said.

"It's like having a car coming at you on the [highway]," the general said in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 16. "By the time you see it, you wouldn't be able to react to it."

Mr. Poston said the main issue in the U.S.-Russia talks is trust.

"People don't trust us; not only the Russians, but a lot of people," he said.

Some in the Bush administration argue that Mr. Putin floated his alternative plan as a way to undercut the U.S. effort. Gen. Obering said he could not judge the "sincerity" of the Russian offer, but noted that technical talks have proceeded despite the doubts.

Mr. Poston said there is a strong geographical argument for placing a ground-based interceptor in Turkey or Azerbaijan.

An interceptor placed in either location would be closer to any potential launches — from neighboring Iran or from Central Asia — and would work well with the curvature of the Earth, he said. Missiles could be intercepted more quickly.

Mr. Poston said it would be best if Russia and the United States could work out a joint plan, but added that a ground base for the missile shield in Turkey could be perceived as a threat by the Russians.

"If the Russians could somehow be assured that that wasn't the case, my guess is they might well be happy to work with us," Mr. Poston said.


  1. There you go, duece.
    When one tells a tale, you have to stick with the story.

    If, as claimed recently, the Eastern European sites are to defend against Iran's nonexistent ICBM threat of nonexistent MIRVed nuclear devices against Europe, then Azerbaijan IS better located than Poland.
    Geography does not lie.

    If those missle defenses are really designed to counter a real, currently existing threat, from Russia, then Polish and Czech sites make all the sense in the world.

    The US denies that the Russians are the percieved threat, it's really, truly, those pesky Persians.
    Caught in our own web of deceit and deceptions, the Russians flush with cash are playing tough, in their own backyard.

    While we stumble across the desert, looking for an oasis, happily funding a mirage.

    rufus linked to old Omar, the Sunni bloger of Baghdad, yesterday, who told US that Sunni Baghdadi are vactioning in Syria, camping out at roadside rest areas, on the way home.

    Does not sound like a war zone, to me. I'd think we'd all agree that tourists do not transit combat zones.
    Yet the US military remains, while the enemy evaporates in the heat of the summer surge.

    Spending $5,000,000 USD per day, the US will secure that route through the sandbox from the fog of war.

    While the Russians gas up the Bears and Backfires and probe US and British air defense systems.

    But the Russians, we must remember, are partners in peace, in the Quartet and granted observer status in NATO. The G8 sets another place at the table, to accomadate those soulful Russian eyes.

    Flush with cash, the Russians provide the only reliably safe space station rescue vehicle, the Soyuz. While the US frets for the lives of its' astronauts with every launch and reentry of the Space Bus.

    Caught in a web of deceptions, the US extends its' military muscle, to the doorsep of the only country with a nuclear capacity to match our own, then tell US and the world, it's all about the loudmouth wimp, across the street.

    That spin is thin, to rational folks. Telling the truth, a concept so foreign to US politicos, they've forgotten the virtues of the truth and the price of deception.

    Mr Craig, an example on a personal level, our relationship with Russia much the same, on a larger scale. We have a wide stance.

    The lies, are we telling them to fool others, or are we lying to ourselves in a form of self-denial.

    As with Mr Craig, it is hard to tell what motivates the individual to tell such tall tales, but institutionalized lies and fanciful tales of self-importance,
    it's like the Byzantine Empire, reborn.

    Ahhh, that we'd be Roman, instead.

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  3. Sorry, about that $5,000,000 USD number, there is a zero missing.
    At $15 Billion per month, that should be $50,000,000 USD per day

    Fifty million per day, not Five.

    But what's a zero, though, here or there, amongst friends.
    It'll come out in the wash

  4. $50,000,000 a day. That would buy some serious defense to deploy where it may come in handy.

  5. He may think the Chinese a greater threat ot US, than Iran.

    He'd be right.

    How many US citizens have the Persians poisoned, of late?

  6. Where is the outrage?
    The Chinese killed, with poisoned food products, hundreds, if not thousands of US dogs.

    Mr Vick, only six or eight.

    Mr Vick is crucified in the Press, the Chinese, instiutionally excused.

    Better to be electrocuted or hung, than die of kindey failure, a slow and painful way to go.

    Serial killers a better headline generator than genocide, whether it's people or pets.

  7. While the US loosens import contols ever more. Fewer inspections, fewer tests, ever more reliance upon the manufacturer, to meet US Standards of Safety.

    But what if those poisons were not an error, not a mistake?

    What if the poisone toothpaste and poison pet food were test runs of asymetrical assualts systems?

    We have opened the flood gates, in advance of the storm. The true lessons of Katrina, flushed down the drain.

    But fear not, all the Communists have ever cared about is money, just like US.
    Take that to the bank.

  8. $50 Million USD per day, to secure the road to Damascus for vactioners.

    How many ethonal distilleries would that build here in the US?

    I figure ten.

    Which is a more vital interest, long term, for the US to pursue

    Domesticly produced fuel or safe foreign vacation travel for Baghdadis in the summer?

    Let's all think on that over the Labor Day weekend, $150 million USD worth of time spent.

    Or funding for 15 new distilleries
    A 10% increase in current capacity.
    Maybe we should wait until February.
    Maybe get a better view, then.
    We'll just be down another $90 Billion.

    Money saved by utilizing Mexican trucks, in the US. Happily they'll be transiting Texas on their way to Kansas.
    Keep those bad boys off my highways. There are reasons we never let them enter before, not for xenophopic reasons, either.
    As the large numbers of people we've let enter the country stand testament to.
    Has more to do with brakes, or the lack there of, on many vehicles from Mexico.
    Safety Standards are not universally applied, as the Chinese have tried to teach US.

    Fool me once, shame on you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me.

  9. And at home, the The Courts just seem to screw us over, every time.

    Court rules fine to let the Mexican truckers in, but can't send letters out to the employers of illegals.

  10. Hey, that's only about a quarter a day, for every man, woman, and child.
    Not such a bad deal if you're not in the service, or an Iraqi.

  11. Hell, it's cheaper than playing Warcraft, or whatever, at a videogame emporium.

  12. "The long, Non-War on 2 Bits a day."

    2 Bit Non-War.

  13. There are some hidden and accumulating costs, of course, such as replacing our entire Army's rolling stock.
    Flesh, well this is a family friendly forum, isn't it?

  14. Then there's the worn-out Eagles, Hornets, and C-46's.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. For $90 Billion USD, we could fund all the good humanitarian projects that the World Bank does, for the next six years, directly.

    And be paid back, with interest.

    Unlike the Iraq Adventure.

    One must wonder, what is the end state in Iraq to look like?

    If not folks on vacation during the summer time.
    Mr Bush admits that the democratic government of Iraq has emerged and tells US that government is soveriegn.

    The Commanding General of the MNF told Ralph Peters that aQ is no longer the primary worry for the Coalition in Iraq.
    The 1920 Brigades and the like have limited aQI's capacity, to the point that the situation in Basra is his primary concern.

    While the Deputy Commander of the MNF, General Simmons, told Hugh Hewitt that Basra was and is a success, that the Iraqi Government has the situation there well in hand. No reason for concern. The stories of anarchy there, MSM fabrications.

    Wish the Generals would coordinate their intel, and stick to the same story. But taken in total, good news, there is no longer cause for concern, if Basra is the biggest worry for the Commander MNF and General Simmons truthful, which I assume he is.

    What else are we to do,
    what more is there?

    The WMD threat is gone.
    Anbar is secure
    Basra is secure
    Kurdistan is secure
    The Mahdi Army has stood down
    The Sunni militias as well
    The democratic govenment emerged and in place.

    The Shia outlaw militias, in Baghdad, numbering only a few hundred combatants, according to General Simmons.

    Still, the politicos on both sides of the aisle refuse to see realities, as they are reported to the public, here at home.

    While other threats around the world mount their ponies and prepare to ride.

    The only battle field left in the Iraq War, it's in Washington DC.

  17. Don't Call it the long war for nothin.
    Non tho it is.

  18. Look at Putin. Pride holding a toy. We have that sort of folk here too, though we have a little more control over them. How to end this continual rearmament, and improvement of armaments? It has a kind of dynamic of it's own. Europe at least seems to have gotten to the point where they won't be fighting each other again. It's hard to see how Enland, or France, or Germany would be fighting each other again, like in the old days.

  19. How to stop the continual cycles of military rearmament?

    Look to the country that spends more on its' military than the rest of the world, combined.
    Look to the country that fields multiple generations of offensive aircraft. Aircraft that cannot be detected by radar.
    Look to the country that has the proponderance of out of their country military bases, with over 720 of them around the world.
    Look at the country that is expanding its' military footprint around the world.

    Want to stop the cycle of military expansion and rearmament, look in the mirror, to find the solution.

    If the US feels threaten in todays environment, imagine how those we consider foes must feel.

  20. Craig has resigned. "I am humbled by the tremendous outpouring of support from Idahoans, colleagues, and staff" !! Shit, he couldn't get the time of day from anybody. Ah, Lord, some of these guys can say anything with a straight face.

  21. "Then there's the worn-out Eagles, Hornets, and C-46's."

    You just dated yourself, Doug. :)

  22. By country, the United States has been the top supplier of weapons since the end of the Cold War. CRS finds America's ordinance deliveries in 2002 at $10.5 billion, or over 40 percent of the world total (but down from $18 billion in 1999). In practical terms, it includes deliveries of 271 tanks and armored personnel carriers valued at $600 million, with top buyer Egypt taking 177; 119 hulls for naval vessels, plus one complete boat somewhat mysteriously reported as sold to the Cayman Islands; and $1.3 billion worth of bullets, missiles, and other explosives. To these goods could be added a reported $350 million in commercial sales (again possibly understated) and about $700 million in open-market sales of small arms. At $12 billion, the total would roughly equal America's exports of auto engines or textile yarn and fabric; and would fall slightly below the value of our imports of shoes or pearls. Excluding small arms, the United Kingdom was the second largest exporter of weapons at $4.7 billion in 2002; Russia followed at $3.1 billion; France at $1.8 billion; and China at $800 million rounded out the top five.

    The biggest buyers are in the Middle East, which purchased about $10 billion worth of weapons in 2002, or 40 percent of the world total. In second were industrialized countries which together bought about $8 billion worth of weapons; Latin American and African countries spent the least on imported ordinance, at about $600 million and $200 million respectively. By country, Saudi Arabia was the top buyer, purchasing $5.2 billion worth of weapons, or a fifth of the $25.4 billion world total. Egypt came second with $2.1 billion in purchases, followed by Kuwait, China, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates.

    Then just this past July, as seen through the eyes of Dubai, in the UAE:

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (IPS/GIN) - The United States’ new plan to counter Iran’s influence by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and other allies could trigger an arms race and worsen instability in the Middle East, according to experts.

    The arms deal, which still requires the approval of the Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress, is one of the largest deals ever proposed. It offers a package of $20 billion to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, $13 billion to Egypt and $30 billion to Israel over 10 years. Items include advanced fighter jets, smart bombs, computer systems and missile boats.

    “It is an ill-advised strategic approach for geostrategically containing Iran,” said Steven Wright, an associate professor at Qatar University. “It is a flawed logic for Washington to see the arms sales as a means of strengthening its position against Iran and enhancing regional security.”

    “Selling more arms to the Gulf countries, along with Israel, will only serve to make Iran’s security concerns more acute and increase regional insecurity,” the Doha-based specialist on Gulf-U.S. relations said over email. “On the other hand, it will likely prompt Iran to devote more of its state budget toward defense expenditure.”

    Supporting the anxiety about an arms race in the region are reports indicating that Russia is planning to sell 250 Sukhoi jets, including 30 of the most advanced jets it has, to Iran.

    Furthermore, on Aug. 5, Iran unveiled its new fighter jet, “Azarakhsh.” The jet, whose name means “Lightning,” is said to be modeled on the American F-5, using Iranian technology.

  23. Based on the F-5, using "Iranian" technology - I'd say the kill ratio should be about 250 - 0.

    Look, I think we do a lot of things wrong, BUT, having the World's Pre-eminent Military probably isn't one of them.

    As for Iraq, It's all about Kuwaiti/KSA/UAE/Gulf Oil. Alway was. We know that.

    The trick, now, is how to force the Big Oil Companies to install E85 pumps. Until we get at least ten times as many pumps as we currently have, we won't be able to get the Auto makers to produce an ethanol optimized engine. Man, It's always something.

  24. As in AZ in the summertime, rufus, mandate an ethonal blend everywhere, but all the time, year round.

    Same pumps are used, no station refits required.

    That's where to start, if serious about a transition.

    It's a matter of will, not infrastructure.

    The AZ blend was mandated by the Federals based upon the dust in the AZ air. We have high levels of particulates, not really to be blame, totally, on the fuel.

    Regardless, the Federals have the authority, if they wanted to excercise it, to mandate the blend nation-wide.

    As it became more universally used, the improved infrastructure would follow.

    But the excuse that "Big Oil" is not retrofitting it's infrastructure, that is a strawman for inaction.

  25. In May, the RFA was invited to open the trading day at NASDAQ, reflecting the growing recognition on Wall Street that ethanol and biodiesel represent growth markets for the future.

    By June, ethanol had successfully replaced MTBE in virtually every gallon of reformulated gasoline where it was still being used.

    In October, for the first time, a president and 3 cabinet secretaries gathered on the same stage to promote a vision for renewable fuels few could have imagined even a year ago.
    At that same event, the president of the American Petroleum Institute reflected upon the oil industry’s newfound appreciation for ethanol’s octane and gasoline blending quality, and noted refiners could now see a day when ethanol was blended in every gallon of gasoline sold in the country.
    In November, the 3 major U.S.automakers met with the president of the United States and pledged to increase their FFV production to 50% of their vehicle sales by 2012.

    Before the end of the year, ethanol blended gasoline accounted for 46% of the nation’s motor fuel, with sales literally from coast to coast and border to border.

    Throughout 2006, 15 new ethanol biorefineries opened, construction began on no fewer than 50 new biorefineries, and the industry set new all­time records for ethanol production, sales and capacity.
    The U.S.ethanol industry produced an astounding 4.9 billion gallons, sold more than 5.5 billion gallons, and with new biorefineries opened and expansions completed, closed the year with more than 5.4 billion gallons of capacity.

    But we’re not done yet. As I stand here today, there are 78 plants under construction– steel in the ground, dirt being moved welders welding. These plants will add another 6 billion gallons of capacity within 18 months – 3 billion gallons this year!

    As the industry grows, it is expanding beyond the traditional grain belt, with plants currently under construction in Washington, Texas, New York and right here in Arizona.
    And as the industry has grown, so too has the industry’s footprint on the economy. In 2006, the ethanol industry:

    1. Increased gross output by $41 billion;
    2. Supported the creation of 163,000 jobs, including 20,000 in the manufacturing sector;
    3. Put an additional $6.7 billion into the pockets of American consumers; and,
    4. Added $2.7 billion in new tax revenue for the federal government and $2.2 billion for state and local treasuries.

    State of the Ethanol Industry is Sound
    State of the Industry Address by RFA President Bob Dinneen

  26. By June, ethanol had successfully replaced MTBE in virtually every gallon of reformulated gasoline where it was still being used.

    So that, hermanos, would be the first step, mandate reformulated with ethanol gasoline everywhere. Bet it'd use up most all of the production capacity in place today.

  27. I agree, Rat, but there's just a little bit more to it.

    For instance, I don't know if you're aware, but there IS a Mandate for 4.6 Billion gallons this year. It will increase every year until it gets to approx. 10%. This is a helpful, but it has a couple of large problems.

    Under this mandate a company that sold 85.4 gallons of gasoline, and 4.6 gallons of ethanol in the midwest could sell 10 gallons in Az without adding any ethanol.

    Now, here's the problem. If the Manufacturers knew that all gasoline next year was going to have 5% ethanol they could add a little compression to their engines and you would get better mileage, and performance. This is NOT, however, the case. As a result, the Manufacturers have to build to the lowest common denominator - the gasoline engine.

    You see, here's the big problem. An engine that's optimized for unleaded will operate on ethanol, but an engine that's optimized for ethanol will not go on gas. The compression is just too high.

    So, Joe Q. gets in his car, realizes he's losing 1.5% gas mileage, and gives ethanol a good cussing (not really realizing that the oil company is buying the ethanol for $0.80/gal less than the price of wholesale unleaded.

  28. Some scientists have the idea of growing sea plants or algae that could be harvested for ethanol or related organic 'fossil' fuels.

    If it pans out, we(as in the whole world) probably don't have to worry about energy shortages(though prices will probably still rise) any time soon.

    And of course, Thomas Gold's abiogenetic prediction about oil might pan out too...

    Of course, I'm looking at this issue from a global industrialization viewpoint, not an ameri-centric one, but the idea of peak oil is still very frightening.

  29. People cuss the IRS everyday, rufus, what of it.

    People cuss abortion on demand, everyday.

    People cuss the war in Iraq, everyday.

    None of those cussing changes the course of things.

    1.5% loss of mileage is piddly, cut the Federal gasoline tax by the correct propotional amount to compensate for the economic loss, if that's the big a deal, if it's considered that important.
    It is not, it did not stop the mandate in CA or AZ, and there was grumbling, but to no avail.

    All it'd take is leadership.

  30. Anyway - The oil companies are starting to realize they're in the fight of their lives and are starting to push back hard. If you count the number of anti-ethanol items out of msm every week you'll see what I mean.

    Folks, we use about $700 - $800 Billion Dollars worth of petroleum products/year. That's A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT OF ADVERTISING DOLLARS sloshing around.

    No, 99.9% of the articles you're reading about ethanol, right now, are NOT anywhere near accurate; And, Yes, They WILL CONTINUE. Them Bucks are just Too Big.

    And, just because a magazine has the word, "Science" in it's name doesn't mean it doesn't need advertisers.

    One Point: If you were going to build a Hot Rod, you'd be insane to build it to run on anything except E-85. With proper compression you just automatically raise your HP by 20+ percent. NOW, go down to the supermarket, and come back and tell us how many of the hot rod magazines has a world to say about ethanol. We'll wait. . . . . . . . .

  31. Go from 20 mpg to 19.7 mpg

    Nothing to it, but to do it.

  32. Leadership in the "War on Imported Mussulman Oil" that's all that is needed.

    If we are being serious

  33. I agree with you on the leadership, Rat, BUT Politicians are sorry-assed putzes; We know that.

    It's kind of funny, really; our greatest strength is, also, our greatest weakness. We're "Capitalists." It means we can kick-ass when we get going, but it's hard to get the engine started, sometimes.

    Ex. The only people who really "understand" ethanol are the guys making it. And, they're making so damned much money that they're keeping their head down, their mouths shut, and working 24/7. We've got a glut coming, though; in which case they might get a little more active in making their case.

    Well, gotta go to the store. I'll check and see if any of the Hot Rod Magazines have any articles about joy juice. chuckle, chuckle

  34. THIS, btw, is the most efficient way to use Corn. Biomass, to BioGas, to fuel cell, equals ENERGY

  35. ANN ARBOR, Mich. — What was supposed to be a tuneup turned into a stunner: Appalachian State 34, No. 5 Michigan 32. Julian Rauch's 24-yard field goal with 26 seconds left put the Mountaineers ahead of the Wolverines and Corey Lynch's blocked field goal in the final seconds sealed one of college football's biggest upsets.

  36. Weber State--7
    Boise State--56

    Things are getting back to 'normal' here in Idaho.

  37. Well, it seems that cash plus patriotism equals higher enlistments in the Army.
    I'd bet that higher reenlistment bonuses increase retention, as well.

    Army's $20,000 Signing Bonus Attracts Thousands to Basic Training, Boosts Recruitment Goals
    09-01-2007 10:35 AM
    By SUSANNE M. SCHAFER, Associated Press Writer

    LEXINGTON, S.C. (Associated Press) -- Bored with life on his family's South Carolina horse farm, Willard McCormick decided that military service was the right plan for his future. And when the Army dangled its new, $20,000 recruiting bonus in front of him, the decision got a lot easier.

    "I wasn't going to go right away, but I heard about the bonus and decided to jump on it," McCormick, 19, said a couple of days after signing up.
    Since the bonus was unveiled in July, more than 6,200 recruits have signed up to begin basic training before Oct. 1, a move that boosts end-of-fiscal year recruiting numbers, Army officials said.

    "People are calling here saying $20,000 is more than they've made in the past two years," said Staff Sgt. Brent Feltner, 27, commander of a strip-mall recruiting station in this central South Carolina town.
    The Army has offered bonuses before _ some ranging from about $10,000 to $15,000 _ but $20,000 is the largest amount Smith said he's seen in his 26 years with the military.

    "We've had a good August. It's been a good tool to use," said Smith, who added the bonus will help the Army reach a goal of recruiting 80,000 soldiers in fiscal year 2007.

    After missing its monthly recruiting goals for two consecutive months, the Army announced in August that it had slightly exceeded its target for July. It signed up 9,972 people, up from the 9,750 it was hoping for.

  38. BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military called radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's order to suspend his Mehdi Army militia for the next six months "encouraging."

    A Mehdi Army member holds a rocket launcher and the Quran during a parade in Baghdad in 2006.

    In a statement issued Saturday, the military said al-Sadr's order would enable the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi security forces to "intensify their focus on al Qaeda in Iraq...without distraction from [Mehdi Army] attacks."

    Al-Sadr's suspension -- which one of his senior aides said would be a period for restructuring -- comes after nearly 60 people were killed and scores were injured during recent street fighting between armed Shiite factions in Karbala and Baghdad.

    "Muqtada al-Sadr's declaration holds the potential to reduce criminal activity and help reunite Iraqis separated by ethno-sectarian violence and fear," the U.S. military said.

  39. The vet thinks it is some kind of a mutaated dog. So little imagination ...

    It is one ugly creature," Canion said, holding the head of the mammal, which has big ears, large fanged teeth and grayish-blue, mostly hairless skin.

    Canion and some of her neighbors discovered the 40-pound bodies of three of the animals over four days in July outside her ranch in Cuero, 80 miles southeast of San Antonio. Canion said she saved the head of the one she found so she can get to get to the bottom of its ancestry through DNA testing and then mount it for posterity.

    She suspects, as have many rural denizens over the years, that a chupacabra may have killed as many as 26 of her chickens in the past couple of years.

    "I've seen a lot of nasty stuff. I've never seen anything like this," she said.

    What tipped Canion to the possibility that this was no ugly coyote, but perhaps the vampire-like beast, is that the chickens weren't eaten or carried off _ all the blood was drained from them, she said.

    Chupacabra means "goat sucker" in Spanish, and it is said to have originated in Latin America, specifically Puerto Rico and Mexico.

    Canion thinks recent heavy rains ran them right out of their dens.

    "I think it could have wolf in it," Canion said. "It has to be a cross between two or three different things."

    Aliens, that's the "Real deal", yeah, alien bloodsuckers, or something like that.

    Mutated dogs, that's not worthy of an urban legend.
    Wonder if there'll be "real" DNA tests, get the X-File agents on it, ASAP.

    If it's decided it's not an alien, could just be a cover up. Yeah, get a wet blanket on this story, bury it ... in Texas.

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  41. Good to see that Mookie is on the US team, now. First the Baathists, now the Mahdi Army
    It's real encouraging.

    It's all good, gettin' better.

    All for one, one for Iraq.
    At least for a while.

  42. Chupacabra in the news. Old news, to us Art Bell fans. They're real, Rat, real I tell you.

  43. How do you explain a whole bunch of bloodless chickens, Rat? Just tell me that. Sucked dry, they were.

    And the cattle mutilations in Montana? Though that's a whole other story.

  44. No idea, but I've never seen a blood sucking dog. Though I have seen dogs lick blood out of a bowl.

    Nor have I seen a vampire, like dracula. Though I have seen small blood sucking bats, nasty little rats with wings.

    But not big enough to drain a chicken, dry. It'd have to be pretty sizable something to do that.
    Say, about 40lbs?

    A whole pack of mutated dogs, does not seem likely.

    Alien scouts ... ???

  45. WEASELS!
    My mom says they used to pile their chickens in the corner of the pen after they'd killed em.
    Possums like them to, but they just kill as many as they eat, far as I know.
    ...but of course to late nighters,
    Weasels=Space Ailiens :-)

  46. (or flying teacups, of course, always a possibility in Big (blue) Sky Country.)