“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."

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

Stop the Absurd US Military Policies on Personnel

There is no part of the US establishment that wastes more money than the Pentagon. A huge component of the waste is the reliance on career enlisted personnel and a career officer corps. The term military career should be proceeded by the word "short". Military service should be composed of mostly conscripts from a universal draft. They should be overwhelmingly male, single with no children.

Two stories highlight the absurdity of the current politically correct social experimentation foisted on the Pentagon by liberal politicians:


A paper published in the journal Pediatrics in late 2009 found that children in military families were more likely to report anxiety than children in civilian families. The longer a parent had been deployed in the previous three years, the researchers found, the more likely the children were to have had difficulties in school and at home. But those studies do not describe the myriad ways, often imperceptible to outsiders, in which families cope with deployments every day.- continue article in the NY Times

The military's next step after 'don't ask, don't tell': Equal rights for gay service members

After the House voted to repeal the policy, the Senate took on the issue and also voted to lift the 17-year-old ban on gays in the military.

By Chris Patti Washington Post
Thursday, December 30, 2010; 8:00 PM
With a swoop of his pen last week, President Obama wiped away more than a century of discrimination that had culminated in a 17-year struggle for the rights of gay men and lesbians serving in the U.S. armed forces. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will now try to fashion a policy that will filter down to all of us in the services. That policy needs to set a standard for the ethical and equitable treatment of all service members, regardless of their sexuality...
...Despite all of the controversy, repealing "don't ask, don't tell" was the easy part. Politics aside, it takes no courage to simply right a wrong. The president and members of Congress have been congratulating themselves for doing the right thing. But minds should be turning to the difficult questions that remain. These are the same questions that vex our society when it comes to equal rights for homosexuals. They cross over into the "gray areas" where some start to feel uncomfortable and where the legal options are ambiguous.

It is, for example, one thing to hand a gay junior sailor a paintbrush and point him toward a rusty bulkhead. But can that gay sailor, if he has a partner, collect the same housing allowance his married counterparts do? Can a lesbian sailor request to be stationed where her partner is? Will the military recognize a marriage between two service members that is legal in one state but not in another?

The issue of gay marriage provokes deep divisions. I hope that my brothers and sisters in the armed forces can help the Defense Department set standards for the rights of gay men and lesbians that far outpace the conflicted sentiment and resulting legal tangle in our society. This is an opportunity to show all Americans that homosexuals deserve equal treatment under the law. This applies not just in some cases or with limitations but to the full rights all Americans should share when it comes to legal matters such as marriage, salary and tax benefits.

It is incumbent on the military to not only pave a fair and equitable way forward for all service members but also to lead by example and provide our country with a template. The Sailor's Creed, which is recited across the globe every day by everyone serving in the Navy, concludes, "I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all." It is time for those words to ring true for everyone who serves.

Most gay and lesbian service members won't be standing up and announcing their sexual orientation at the next "all-hands" call. They won't get new name tags. They will remain, as they always have been, indistinguishable from their straight counterparts. Instead, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" means that there may be quiet instances of a lesbian sailor telling a shipmate that she is gay, or a gay sailor saying that his plans for the weekend include going on a trip with his partner. Such statements are likely to be met with shrugs, and everyone will go back to getting the mission done. But just because these moments no longer risk automatic discharge does not mean that gay and lesbian service members have equality.

The Pentagon must be clear about treating all members of the U.S. military equally, which means that it must recognize gay marriage as legal and a right of every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine. These rights almost must extend to their spouses, just as they do to the spouses of straight servicemen and women, to include health care, retirement benefits, GI Bill eligibility and commissary privileges.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Their lives as they knew them are over...

Baby boomers near 65 with retirements in jeopardy
CHICAGO (AP) — Through a combination of procrastination and bad timing, many baby boomers are facing a personal finance disaster just as they're hoping to retire. Starting in January, more than 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65, a pattern that will continue for the next 19 years.
The boomers, who in their youth revolutionized everything from music to race relations, are set to redefine retirement. But a generation that made its mark in the tumultuous 1960s now faces a crisis as it hits its own mid-60s.
"The situation is extremely serious because baby boomers have not saved very effectively for retirement and are still retiring too early," says Olivia Mitchell, director of the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research at the University of Pennsylvania.
There are several reasons to be concerned:
— The traditional pension plan is disappearing. In 1980, some 39 percent of private-sector workers had a pension that guaranteed a steady payout during retirement. Today that number stands closer to 15 percent, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, D.C.
— Reliance on stocks in retirement plans is greater than ever; 42 percent of those workers now have 401(k)s. But the past decade has been a lost one for stocks, with the Standard & Poor's 500 index posting total returns of just 4 percent since the beginning of 2000.
— Many retirees banked on their homes as their retirement fund. But the crash in housing prices has slashed almost a third of a typical home's value. Now 22 percent of homeowners, or nearly 11 million people, owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. Many are boomers.
Michael Vanatta, 61, of Vero Beach, Fla., is paying the price for being a boomer who enjoyed life without saving for the future. He put a daughter through college, but he also spent plenty of money on indulgences like dining out and the latest electronic gadgets.
Vanatta was laid off last January from his $100,000-a-year job as a sales executive for a turf company. And with savings of just $5,000, he's on a budget for the first time. In April, he will start taking Social Security at age 62.
"If I'd been smarter and planned and had the bucks, I'd wait until 70," says Vanatta, who is divorced and rents an apartment. "It's my fault. For years I was making plenty of money and spending plenty of money."
Vanatta is in the majority. Some 51 percent of early boomer households, headed by those ages 55 to 64, face a retirement with lower living standards, according to a 2009 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
Too many boomers have ignored or underestimated the worsening outlook for their finances, says Jean Setzfand, director of financial security for AARP, the group that represents Americans over age 50. By far the greatest shortcoming has been a failure to save. The personal savings rate — the amount of disposable income unspent — averaged close to 10 percent in the 1970s and '80s. By late 2007, the rate had sunk to negative 1 percent.
The recession has helped improve the savings rate — it's now back above 5 percent. Yet typical boomers are still woefully short on retirement savings. Even those in their 50s and 60s with a 401(k) for at least six years had an average balance of less than $150,000 at the end of 2009, according to the EBRI.
Signs of coming trouble are visible on several other fronts, too:
— Mortgage Debt. Nearly two in three people age 55 to 64 had a mortgage in 2007, with a median debt of $85,000.
— Social Security. Nearly 3 out of 4 people file to claim Social Security benefits as soon as they're eligible at age 62. That locks them in at a much lower amount than they would get if they waited.
The monthly checks are about 25 percent less if you retire at 62 instead of full retirement age, which is 66 for those born from 1943 to 1954. If you wait until 70, your check can be 75 to 80 percent more than at 62. So, a boomer who claimed a $1,200 monthly benefit in 2008 at age 62 could have received about $2,000 by holding off until 70.
— Medical Costs. Health care expenses are soaring, and the availability of retiree benefits is declining.
"People cannot fathom how much money will be needed to simply cover out-of-pocket medical care costs," says Mitchell of the University of Pennsylvania.
A 55-year-old man with typical drug expenses needs to have about $187,000 just to cover future medical costs. That's if he wants to be 90 percent certain to have enough money to supplement Medicare coverage in retirement, the EBRI said. Because of greater longevity, a 65-year-old woman would need even more to cover her health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health expenses: an estimated $213,000.
— Employment. Boomers both need and want to work longer than previous generations. But unemployment is near 10 percent, and many have lost their jobs.
The average unemployment period for those 55 and older was 45 weeks in November. That's 12 weeks longer than for younger job-seekers. It's also more than double the 20-week period this group faced at the beginning of the recession in December 2007.
If financial neglect turns out to be many boomers' undoing, challenging circumstances are stymieing others.
Linda Reaves of Silver Spring, Md., never had much opportunity to save as a single mother raising two sons and a daughter. After holding a variety of positions over the years — hotel office manager, research analyst for a mortgage company, hospital mental health counselor — she was still living paycheck to paycheck. Then she was laid off in 2007 at the age of 57.
She entered a training program to learn new skills, but all she has found since is a string of temporary jobs. In her daily quest for clerical or administrative work, she competes against much younger applicants.
Reaves, who turns 60 this month, plans to work until she's at least 70 and then wants to travel, even if she doesn't know where the money will come from.
"I just keep going. I don't really worry about it," she says.
Add this all up, and there's a "slow-burning" retirement crisis for boomers, says Anthony Webb, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research.
"If you have a crisis where the adverse consequences are immediately clear, then people understand that they have to do something," Webb says. "When the consequences will be felt 20 or 30 years in the future, the temptation is that we kick the can down the road."
As a result, he believes many won't change their behavior.
For less affluent boomers, it won't take that long to feel the pain of poor planning. Concerns about financial trouble will hang over many of those 65th birthday celebrations in 2011.
Many seem to view their plight through rose-colored granny glasses. An AARP survey last month of boomers turning 65 next year found that they worry no more about money than they did at age 60 — before the recession or the collapse of home prices. But in an acknowledgement of reality, 40 percent said they plan to work "until I drop."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chinese Anti-Carrier Missiles

Internatuonal News

TOKYO/SEOUL: China is stepping up efforts to deploy a “carrier-killer” missile system, the commander of the US Pacific Command has said in an interview with a Japanese newspaper, published on Tuesday.

“The anti-ship ballistic missile system in China has undergone extensive testing,” Admiral Robert Willard told the Asahi Shimbun in Honolulu, according to a transcript of the interview on its website.

Willard said China appeared to have achieved “initial operational capability” but it would take “several more years” before fully deploying the system.

US military analysts have warned China is developing a new version of its Dongfeng 21 missile that could pierce the defences of even the sturdiest US naval vessels and has a range far beyond Chinese waters.

Washington has expressed rising concern over China’s military intentions following a string of double-digit increases in Chinese military spending and the rapid modernisation of its armed forces. In the interview, Willard also said China aims to become a global military power by extending its influence beyond its regional waters.

“They are focused presently on what they term their near seas—the Bohai, Yellow Sea, South China Sea, East China Sea,” Willard said.

“I think they have an interest in being able to influence beyond that point, and they have aspirations to eventually become a global military,” he said. “In the capabilities that we’re seeing develop, that is fairly obvious.”

Referring to tensions on the Korean peninsula, Willard warned that North Korea is ready to take another provocative step and called on China, Pyongyang’s sole major ally, to play its role in defusing the situation.

“I think, for now, we’re past this particular crisis, but we have no doubt, given North Korea’s history, that a next provocation is readied,” Willard told the daily.

“It’s a matter of assessing how it might be deterred or how the North Koreans might be dissuaded from exercising the next provocation,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to news reports earlier on Tuesday, Beijing is getting tougher with South Korean spies caught collecting intelligence there on North Korea, jailing one of them for more than a year despite pleas from Seoul.

The army major had been trying to collect information on the North’s nuclear and missile programmes when he was caught in July last year in a sting operation, Yonhap news agency and the Korea JoongAng Daily said. A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment.

The newspaper said the man it identified as Major Cho was arrested in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang following a rendezvous with a Chinese military officer posing as an informant.

Cho gave tens of thousands of dollars to the Chinese officer for information about the North’s nuclear development and missiles, it said. He was jailed for 14 months despite the South’s request that he be repatriated;

Fortress at Sea? The Carrier Invulnerability Myth
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Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 14 perform a diamond formation fly-by over the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) during an October 2009 Tiger Cruise for friends and family of Sailors assigned to the ship. These ships project power, but at what cost?
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America's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, especially in today's irregular, asymmetric warfare climate, could be little more than slow-moving targets.
The recently renewed debate over aircraft carrier requirements has focused mainly on the factors of cost and utility. These issues notwithstanding, analysts often overlook or understate the carriers' inherent vulnerabilities. Regardless of the number of carriers national leadership decides to maintain, because they remain the U.S. Navy's preeminent capital ship and a symbol of American global power and prestige, they are a potential key target for both unconventional and conventional adversaries. Carrier proponents, however, universally seem to accept on faith alone the premise that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) is essentially invulnerable.
Yet an intelligent adversary could potentially exploit carrier weaknesses. The sudden, unexpected loss of a CVN, especially by unanticipated asymmetric means, would shock both the military establishment and the American psyche-perhaps being a military equivalent to the Twin Towers' collapse on 9/11. The truth is, a deployed aircraft carrier is more vulnerable to mission kill than is commonly believed, and the Department of Defense should consider efforts to prevent or mitigate such an exigency.
The carrier debate is alive and well. The current effort surrounding the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)and the near-term decommissioning of the nearly 50-year-old USS Enterprise (CVN-65) are raising the volume of the argument, specifically on the number of carrier strike groups (CSGs) needed to meet national and combatant commander demands.
Recurring congressional statutes also dictate minimum carrier fleet size, often despite differing advice from Navy secretaries and military leaders.1 The carrier's value in the post-9/11 era?amidst a global security paradigm defined by the often ambiguous characteristics of irregular, asymmetric, or hybrid warfare-remains an unanswered question. While combat-proven in conventional conflicts and for certain aspectf irregular warfare, future roles and structure of the carrier force remain murky.
Assessments of aircraft carrier vulnerability are not new. The Soviets debated building a significant carrier fleet in the 1960s but determined that large carriers had no place in the nuclear age, partly because of their vulnerability to missiles with nuclear warheads.2 While later choosing to build larger carriers, Moscow always retained the view that carriers remained vulnerable. While the American carrier debate has continued since 1945, it has focused largely on missions, cost, and force structure-not vulnerability.

Presumed Impregnable

The U.S. view of carrier invulnerability is a perilous assumption. If 9/11 taught Washington anything, it clearly demonstrated that fortress America was vulnerable in ways its citizens and defenders never imagined. Terrorists selected targets with maximum psychological impact, employing a relatively sophisticated asymmetric method, seemingly incorporating many of the basic principles of war and operational art: simplicity, synergy, simultaneity and depth, surprise, tempo and timing, security, etc.
The basic operational plan also reflected an awareness of the efficacy of the classic indirect approach-a key aspect of asymmetric warfare. They also exploited a basic vulnerability of open, democratic political systems-a benign operating environment. If a handful of Saudis could plan and carry out effective attacks halfway around the world in a foreign land, why then could other adversaries not accomplish the same in local waters familiar to them?
The typical carrier capabilities that lead to presumptions of impregnability include: speed, armor, compartmentalization, size, defenses (air wing, own-ship, escorts, etc.), blue-water sanctuary (range from shore and from adversary/targets), and technological superiority of U.S. weapon systems. Not often discussed, though, is how a smart enemy might exploit technology or subterfuge to obviate some traditional carrier strengths. Some potential examples include:
  • Mass media, satellite communication, and the Internet can provide location and disposition of U.S. carriers when they are near shipping lanes or coastal waters; carrier presence is obvious well before the silhouette appears on the horizon.
  • Carriers not supporting a conflict requiring continuous air wing operations will not be operating at higher speeds, especially at night.
  • Fast, low profile, open-ocean craft are widely available.
  • Armored hangar bay doors are useless when open, typical to lower conditions of readiness.
  • Carrier crew size and diversity would likely allow unfettered access to clandestine infiltrators of almost any ethnicity.
  • While nuclear power provides virtually unlimited steaming, carriers remain dependent on forward staging areas and supply ships for food, aviation fuel, and stores.
  • The insatiable appetite for information afloat is satisfied by way of precious, uninterrupted bandwidth flowing through multiple nodes with varying vulnerabilities.

Next-Generation Weapons Are Here Now

Emerging technologies and new classes of advanced conventional weapons are also making the carriers' ostensible invulnerability more suspect. Most experts see recent advances in foreign antiship cruise missiles (ASCM), offensive information operations capabilities, stealthy diesel and nuclear-powered submarines, deep water rising mines, and antiship ballistic missiles (ASBM) as direct threats to carrier strike groups proximate to the littorals (i.e., when supporting air operations inland). While contemporary conflicts demonstrate no such apparent threats to carriers, they also involve state adversaries without advanced conventional naval weapons.
Hezbollah's effective use of a C802 ASCM against an Israeli warship in 2006, however, illustrates that state order of battle calculations alone cannot provide a total picture of enemy capabilities. Although most Navy leaders avow carrier invulnerability, then-Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Timothy Keating admitted that the ability to defend against such advanced threats is uncertain.3 While it is beyond the scope of this article to cite specifics, a quick scan of any recent DOD global threat assessment reveals a plethora of emerging weapon systems of concern.4
A corollary to the expanding advanced conventional weapons threat could change the fundamental calculus of the carrier's value. Simply put, increasing adversary offensive threats to carriers require concomitant carrier and strike group defenses to mitigate them. For instance, if the security environment changes such that carriers are threatened with new, better weapons, but in much the same way they were during the Cold War, the brunt of the carrier air wing will again be needed for strike group defense.
The resultant reduction in offensive carrier strike capability-not to mention the significant shift in aircraft/weapons mix and predeployment air wing and ship defensive training-may diminish the carriers' primary role of power projection. Similarly, increased defensive tasking to strike group escorts would limit their support for the myriad regional non-combat missions espoused in the current maritime strategy. Indeed, the reliable provision of air power from an unchallenged carrier witnessed during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom may well not be the future norm.

Asymmetric Challenges Loom

Conventional threats notwithstanding, carriers are also vulnerable to unconventional or asymmetric threats.5These potentially include terrorism, sabotage, infiltration, denial and subterfuge (information operations [IO], including cyber and psychological operations), interdiction, and homeport or logistics hub attacks, among others. While many admirals discount such threats outright, again, one need only recall the shock and confusion following the 9/11 attacks.
One reason these threats make military leaders uncomfortable is that they are vague and indiscriminate. Another is that few weapons in the Carrier Strike Group arsenal can directly address them. Indeed, the strike group's inherent capabilities are usually irrelevant against asymmetric threats. Finally, since an unconventional adversary may seek any of these means-and perhaps yet unknown methods-to achieve a mission kill (i.e., not necessarily a catastrophic kill), leaders often swear off as impractical the vouchsafing of every potential carrier vulnerability.
Just as operational art demands a rigorous assessment of adversary center of gravity and critical vulnerabilities, one cannot assume away the enemy's ability to do the same. The 2006 Israeli experience in Lebanon is a recent example of a hybrid conflict, wherein an unconventional enemy knew its opponent well, exploited technology to defeat its armor, directed a sophisticated IO campaign to manage perceptions, and threatened the homeland with incessant rocket and missile barrages.
Gone are the days when the most serious unconventional threats were ignorant, lightly armed fanatics conducting improvised attacks on hardened targets. As such, it is a relatively simple task with readily available information to evaluate the carrier as a system, with critical elements of varying dependency, many of which could degrade mission capability if assailed. Admittedly, adversaries require global reach and significant capability to threaten some elements over the longer-term, but a creative opponent could still seriously limit a carrier's effectiveness, at least temporarily.
Any neophyte can generate a basic list of forward-deployed military unit vulnerability: communications, logistics/lines of communication, crew readiness/morale, mobility, etc. Because the CSG cannot protect everything, the aggressor has the advantage in target selection and surprise.

Pondering the Unthinkable

Carrier proponents typically fail to mention such vulnerabilities. Instead they promote the carriers' inherent ability to operate unfettered off an enemy coast-a virtual fortress at sea. In fairness to the carrier admirals, when threat assessments on the future operating environment present only shadowy non-state actors with undefined or unpredictable capabilities, it is easy to see how some would prefer to focus on the black and white conventional threats. Listing a few hypothetical examples might help demonstrate potential asymmetric carrier threats:
  • A carrier operating with only a single escort on an OEF no-fly day, far separated from other strike group warships, is approached by a small team of highly trained, well-armed saboteurs in a low-profile, fast boat at night in international waters. They gain access via a lowered elevator when the ship is in low readiness conditions for a quick surprise attack with satchel charges in the hangar and flight decks to destroy most carrier air wing aircraft before the ship musters a response.
  • An adversary state about to seize several small islands in the Persian Gulf directs a small team of special forces to commandeer a large container ship, which veers into the path of a CVN exiting the southern Suez Canal in a restricted waterway. The resultant collision and carrier grounding causes enough damage to limit the carrier to ten knots, preventing most fixed-wing flight operations indefinitely.
  • An extremist group targeted by carrier air wing operations identifies the less protected fleet auxiliaries providing carrier strike group logistics in a forward theater and targets them simultaneously with waterborne improvised explosive devices. Critical fuel, food, and stores shortages severely limit air wing operations for a period of weeks.

We Must Not Assume Away Threats

Instilling paranoia is not the intent of these examples; it is only to present the art of the possible. So what can naval leaders do to lessen the likelihood of asymmetric attacks focused on carrier mission kills? First, they must admit that such attacks are possible. Then, undertake a comprehensive assessment of carrier vulnerabilities, with most likely and most dangerous scenarios addressed first for prevention and mitigation plans. Next, naval war game and doctrine developers should make a commitment to present warfighters and defense leaders at war games and red team exercises with situations where conventional, unconventional/asymmetric, and/or hybrid threats marginalize or threaten CSGs.
This will force leaders to challenge traditional assumptions of carrier invulnerability. Finally, leaders and strategists should evaluate military plans and force capabilities in light of the fact that asymmetric attacks may come from either conventional or nontraditional adversaries.
Presuming carrier invulnerability is dangerous. It promotes complacency, prevents a healthy degree of critical thinking, and limits America's ability to prevent and respond to a completely new class of threats. As a CATO Institute study amidst the post-Desert Storm carrier debate related, "Carriers and their battle groups are awesome instruments of war, but they are not juggernauts, as their supporters claim. . . ."6
Pre-9/11 American society provided opportunity enough for a band of radical Muslim brothers to shut down the United States temporarily. Why then could peaceful international waters or territorial seas not provide a similarly benign operating environment today? As defense leaders prepare to make hard QDR decisions, it is high time to renew the carrier vulnerability debate. As former President George W. Bush was wont to state, "Bring it on."

Time to Buy a Real Hat

From the Telegraph ...more men should wear proper hats with pride, including trilbies, pork pie hats, bowlers, flat caps and fedoras. British men might once have had famously stiff upper lips, but they spoke using their hats: they doffed them, tipped them, and threw them high in the air to indicate happiness. When respectable hats fell from fashion, our men were cruelly deprived of a dignified public language, and condemned to the folly of the American baseball cap, which can make middle-aged men look silly Ironically, it is the popularity of Don Draper, the trilby-wearing character from the American series Mad Men, that may help to re-establish the quality hat in the UK. Modern men are often naturally drawn to hats, but fearful of ridicule. Take the plunge, and you won’t look back.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Cold? Blame it on Siberia

Is it cold enough for you?  It's pretty darn cold down here in the deep south.  As I type these words, still in the 30's with a wind that cuts. What happened to the predictions of a warmer, wetter winter?  Oh, and what about all those hurricanes that we didn't have this past season?  It's funny to me that we sometimes have a hard time predicting a week ahead, much less decades.  Let's face it.  We're not so smart as we like to think.
December 25, 2010
Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming


Lexington, Mass.
THE earth continues to get warmer, yet it’s feeling a lot colder outside. Over the past few weeks, subzero temperatures in Poland claimed 66 lives; snow arrived in Seattle well before the winter solstice, and fell heavily enough in Minneapolis to make the roof of the Metrodome collapse; and last week blizzards closed Europe’s busiest airports in London and Frankfurt for days, stranding holiday travelers. The snow and record cold have invaded the Eastern United States, with more bad weather predicted.
All of this cold was met with perfect comic timing by the release of a World Meteorological Organization report showing that 2010 will probably be among the three warmest years on record, and 2001 through 2010 the warmest decade on record.
How can we reconcile this? The not-so-obvious short answer is that the overall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes. Last winter, too, was exceptionally snowy and cold across the Eastern United States and Eurasia, as were seven of the previous nine winters.
For a more detailed explanation, we must turn our attention to the snow in Siberia.
Annual cycles like El Niño/Southern Oscillation, solar variability and global ocean currents cannot account for recent winter cooling. And though it is well documented that the earth’s frozen areas are in retreat, evidence of thinning Arctic sea ice does not explain why the world’s major cities are having colder winters.
But one phenomenon that may be significant is the way in which seasonal snow cover has continued to increase even as other frozen areas are shrinking. In the past two decades, snow cover has expanded across the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, especially in Siberia, just north of a series of exceptionally high mountain ranges, including the Himalayas, the Tien Shan and the Altai.
The high topography of Asia influences the atmosphere in profound ways. The jet stream, a river of fast-flowing air five to seven miles above sea level, bends around Asia’s mountains in a wavelike pattern, much as water in a stream flows around a rock or boulder. The energy from these atmospheric waves, like the energy from a sound wave, propagates both horizontally and vertically.
As global temperatures have warmed and as Arctic sea ice has melted over the past two and a half decades, more moisture has become available to fall as snow over the continents. So the snow cover across Siberia in the fall has steadily increased.
The sun’s energy reflects off the bright white snow and escapes back out to space. As a result, the temperature cools. When snow cover is more abundant in Siberia, it creates an unusually large dome of cold air next to the mountains, and this amplifies the standing waves in the atmosphere, just as a bigger rock in a stream increases the size of the waves of water flowing by.
The increased wave energy in the air spreads both horizontally, around the Northern Hemisphere, and vertically, up into the stratosphere and down toward the earth’s surface. In response, the jet stream, instead of flowing predominantly west to east as usual, meanders more north and south. In winter, this change in flow sends warm air north from the subtropical oceans into Alaska and Greenland, but it also pushes cold air south from the Arctic on the east side of the Rockies. Meanwhile, across Eurasia, cold air from Siberia spills south into East Asia and even southwestward into Europe.
That is why the Eastern United States, Northern Europe and East Asia have experienced extraordinarily snowy and cold winters since the turn of this century. Most forecasts have failed to predict these colder winters, however, because the primary drivers in their models are the oceans, which have been warming even as winters have grown chillier. They have ignored the snow in Siberia.
Last week, the British government asked its chief science adviser for an explanation. My advice to him is to look to the east.
It’s all a snow job by nature. The reality is, we’re freezing not in spite of climate change but because of it.

Judah Cohen is the director of seasonal forecasting at an atmospheric and environmental research firm.

I love it.  It's cold as Siberia because of ...are you ready for this?  Because of Siberia.   This makes more sense to me than anything I've read coming from the AGW crowd.  Climate changes, we know that. Sea levels rise and fall over time. The world freezes and thaws.  Man is resilient.  Relax, whirled. Enjoy the ride!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

~ TSA Whistleblowing Patriot Pilot ~

To the thousands of patriotic Americans who have contacted us or shown support for the Patriot Pilot who exposed the major TSA security flaw at the San Francisco (SFO) airport and at other airports throughout the United States and perhaps the World, via YouTube, we say thank you. The Patriot Pilot is an average man, like many of us, who simply wanted to make sure that the American public was truly safe when flying the "frendly skies".

nfortunately, some in the Government, such as TSA, have worked overtime to try and convince us that we are safe, when we, in fact, know that we are not. How can TSA claim that air travel is safe when they can't even keep thousands of pounds of marijuana and hundreds of pounds of cocaine off our commercial aircraft? They can't using their current, myopic system, and punishing the Patriot Pilot is not going to make the skys any safer, either. To illustrate my point, there have been a number of instances where ground crews have been implicated in illegal activities involving commercial aircraft. For example, on August 6, 2010, "Ground crews at Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport were accused ... of smuggling drug-laden suitcases aboard four major commercial airlines bound for the U.S. mainland. ... The three men arrested allegedly stowed cocaine-stuffed suitcases in the airlines’ cargo compartments and sometimes used tags stolen from properly checked luggage[.] ... Last year, nine employees of [a major commercial carrier] were accused of participating in a smuggling ring that allegedly sent at least 9,000 kilograms (19,800 pounds) of cocaine aboard flights from Puerto Rico to the U.S. over a decade." In reality, a bomb is much smaller and substantially more dangerous than the thousands of pounds of drugs already believed to have been smuggled about commercial aircraft by ground crews. Clearly, drug lords know that airports are not the air tight security environments that TSA would like the rest of us to believe.

unishing the Patriot Pilot only serves to remind each of us that we are not free to seek redress from our Government as provided for in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. If we were, then the TSA would be asking for the help of EVERYAmerican and especially the tens of thousands of professional pilots who are flying into literally every airport in the World on a daily basis. What do they see that could make our safety system even better?

ow much better could we make the system if TSA worked with us and not againstus?

he Patriot Pilot would like to sincerely thank Sacramento News 10 Reporter George Warren for bringing this critical story to the American public so that we can finally force TSA to start an intelligent dialog about a real and complete security system.

or our country to truly have a safe aviation system, we need to create a security zone around the airport and check everyone and everything that comes into that security zone,without exception. The current system, as exposed by the Patriot Pilot, allows ground crews far to much unsupervised access to the aircraft and only invites another terrorist attack or mass air disaster. Let's plug the hole, NOW.

lease join us in contacting your congressional represenatives to ask that Congress hold hearings into TSA's compete lack of oversight in the aviation safety system, especially since we, the taxpayers and the flying public have already spent billions of dollars to make the skys safer, only to find out that the security system is, as the Patriot Pilot stated, "is just smoke and mirrors." Congress should ask the Patriot Pilot to testify about his treatment and what he thinks would make the system safer.

~ Much More Later Today (12/26/2010) ~

lease Check Back Later Today For The Rest of The Story

Line Drawing of Lady Justice

Friday, December 24, 2010

Snow in Europe

Chritsmas 2010: Where are the Neocons Now?

Iraq's war on Christians

Oil and geopolitics prevent the United States and Western European countries from speaking out against what amounts to genocide against Christians in the Middle East.

As much of the world once more prepares to celebrate the birth of Christ, it is a melancholy fact that many of the most ancient churches established in his name are being pushed to the brink of oblivion across the region where their faith was born.

The culprits are Salafist Islam's increasingly virulent intolerance, the West's convenient indifference and, in the case of Iraq, America's failure to make responsible provisions to protect minorities from the violent disorder that has persisted since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

When America intervened to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Christians — mostly Chaldeans and Assyrians — numbered about 1.4 million, or about 3% of the population. Over the last seven years, more than half have fled the country and, as the New York Times reported this week, a wave of targeted killings — including the Oct. 31 slaying of 51 worshipers and two priests during Mass at one of Baghdad's largest churches — has sent many more Christians fleeing. Despite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki promises to increase security, many believe the Christians are being targeted not only by Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has instructed its fighters "to kill Christians wherever they can reach them," but also by complicit elements within the government's security services.

The United States, meanwhile, does nothing — as it did nothing four years ago, when Father Boulos Iskander was kidnapped, beheaded and dismembered; or three years ago, when Father Ragheed Ganni was shot dead at the altar of this church; or two years ago, when Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was kidnapped and murdered; as it has done nothing about all the church bombings and assassinations of lay Christians that have become commonplace over the last seven years.

The human tragedy of all this is compounded by the historic one. The churches of the Middle East preserve the traditions of the Apostolic era in ways no other Christian rites or denominations do. The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch Syria, and it was there that the Gospels first were written down in Koine Greek. For 1,000 years, the churches of Iraq and Syria were great centers of Christian thought and art. Today, the Christian population is declining in every majority Muslim country in the region and is under increasingly severe pressure even in Lebanon, where it still constitutes 35% of the population.
LA Times

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Try competing with $2 an hour labor

Profit Outweighs Risk in Juárez Factories
Published: December 11, 2010
In 2009, more than $42 billion in trade value moved through the ports that Ciudad Juárez shares with El Paso, representing 15 percent of the total trade between the United States and Mexico. That number is estimated to be even higher in 2010.

Since June 2009, more than 24,000 manufacturing jobs have been added in Juárez, on the Texas-Mexico border, and the amount of tractor-trailer traffic hauling goods through the region increased by 22 percent from January to June of 2010 compared with the first six months of last year.

At the same time, there were more than 2,600 killings in Juárez in 2009, the byproduct of a battle between the rival Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels, and the city is on pace to exceed 3,000 homicides in 2010.

So much for the deadening economic impact of headline-making violence. The psychological impact, however, is something different.

While the killings and threats of extortion have forced thousands of retail businesses in Juárez to close and tens of thousands of residents to flee their homes for the safety of Texas, border business experts say the vibrancy of the city’s manufacturing industry is due to what is and has always been the bottom line: money. Not even an unshakeable fear instilled in most of the 1.3 million Juárez residents can curb the success of the factories, or maquiladoras, where assembly-line workers earn, on average, $1.60 to $2 hourly.

“Juárez is open for business,” said Toby M. Spoon, the executive vice president of Tecma, an outsourcing company based in El Paso that will celebrate 25 years in business next year.

A shelter operation that provides factory space, employees and legal expertise to businesses with a manufacturing presence in Mexico, Tecma had one of its best years in 2009, Mr. Spoon said. The company signed five new clients and netted an estimated $45 million in profits.

Read More

Yes, I'm afraid that the profit is worth the risk.  But is the profit interfering with immigration reform or control of the border?  No doubt about it. We want that cheap labor and Mexico wants those remittances. We have an intractable mess of foreign and domestic and economic policy that will take years to sort out.

Meanwhile, wages in the USA are being forced down but expenses are not.  With oil at $91 per barrel, those who still hold jobs in the USA are once again beginning to feel the pinch.  We have an outlook of falling wages, high expenses and economic uncertainty.  So called economic and investment experts are blowing smoke and hot air about the markets and recovery, but does anyone actually know what is happening? I don't think so.

Welcome to the new decade of the new millennium.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Capricorn Dec 22 - Jan 20 by Melody

Dec 22 - Jan 20

"The celestial bodies are the cause of all that takes place in the sublunar world" ~Thomas Aquinas

Duality: Feminine ~ Receptive, magnetic, self contained and strong through inner reserves.

Triplicity: Earth ~ Practical and Stable.

Quadruplicity: Cardinal ~ It's the sign of enterprising and outgoing. They are the initiators. Capricorns are reserved, prudent and patient. They use strategy instead of force, seeks security, is acquisitive; the most womanly woman, disciplined, determined, and quick to seize opportunity.

Ruling Planet: Saturn ~ Roman god who presided over the sowing and reaping of grain. In ancient times, the outermost planet of the known universe. Saturn represents obstacles and limitation.

In ancient astrology Saturn was often referred to as the symbol of Father Time. This makes you excellent organizers and planners to the extent of plotting long term timetables. Most won't look past next month but you, as a Capricorn, will carefully examine your goals and separate them into all its necessary steps even if it takes years to reach. You learn to wait for what you want even if it means giving up today's temptation for tomorrow's rewards.

Often called the Celestial Taskmaster, Saturn, symbolizes responsibility, discipline and restriction. You are in constant need to improve or perfect something. You are ambitious, practical and above all determined. Your active mind quickly grasps ideas and when taking on new tasks you complete them to the best of your ability. You fuss over details to make sure all contingencies are in order. You don't trust people to look after details. This is due to your constant need to be in control. Because of your diligence you are very rarely credited for your creativity. And you are creative.

An aura of melancholy and sternness often surrounds Capricorns. Your remoteness in spirit is often misunderstood making you a target for being described as cold passion. In certain ways, Saturn can make a Capricorn a little cold and calculating; a strict parent residing inside each one of you. Essentially, you feel you can only depend on yourself. You think of yourself as a real person in a real world. By all means you don't deserve the reputation of being sober and gloomy. In fact, one of you most striking characteristics is your sense of humor. Your wit may dry and incisive but is extremely funny and has a way of erupting when other least expect it.

Symbol: The goat ~ A surefooted animal who is able to ascend the heights by taking advantage of every foothold.

Dominant Keyword: I use

Polarity: Cancer ~ Capricorn is the sign governing reputation, career, standing in the community. Its natives seek honor, praise, and approval in the world at large, but tend to be emotionally reserved in personal relationships. Cancer, Cap's opposite sign, is the sign of domesticity and home life. Cancerians derive security from the love and closeness of mates and family members.

Part Of The Body Ruled By Capricorn: The bones, joints, and knees: There is no doubt about it, Capricorn natives often have beautiful bone structure, but they are subject to stiff joints, rheumatism, and orthopedic problems.

Lucky Day: Saturday Lucky Numbers: 2 and 8 Flowers: Carnations & Ivy

Cities: Oxford, Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Montreal. Countries: Mexico, Afghanistan, Bulgaria and India.

Birthstone: Garnet ~ Attracts popularity, high esteem and true love.

Colors: Dark Green and Brown: Classic, comforting colors of nature and the earth.

"we are born at a given moment, in a given place, and like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born." ~Carl Gustav Jung

Capricorns are flawless. Bwahahahahahaha

More like a mixed bag full of good and evil. You either love them or hate them. The erratic mood swings and unexpected wit and subtly are surprising for the quiet, reserved individuals you seem to be. You also tend to ruin things with utterly irresponsible bouts of flippancy. You are greatly loyal to the few friends you do have. But you can be a bitter and powerful enemy.

Yes, you are the most generous, kindest, decent people of the zodiac, for this people tend to take advantage of you. You are also the most reliable and when you give your word you stick to it. You are the most honest. Beneath your reserve you are sensitive and sympathetic. Anyone looking for a shoulder to lean on need not look any further than a Capricorn.

But…at the same time you are ever so proud of the fact that you are the most opinionated self-centered sign in the zodiac. It's true. Do you want to know why? Because you are always right. Egotistical cruel Capricorn puts ambition ahead of personal relationships which can easily be jettisoned (not my word obviously but it sounded good) when needed.

"If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself." "Don't mix business with pleasure." "If at first you don't succeed - try, try again." Money doesn't buy happiness, but I'll take it anyway."

Your desire for success, money, status, authority and even love is the motivating force for the pursuit of your destiny. That's right being an earth sign combined with a cardinal sign produces a powerful personality geared towards power and leadership. Only after being trapped, chained by circumstances early in life are you a born climber.You are not content poking around down in the valley. As long as there is a top to get to from the bottom you will persevere any obstacles that come along. The goat, being your symbol, gives you the determination and strength to climb that impassible terrain, finding the footholds where no one thought they existed. If you can't move mountains, then at least you can scale the heights. Most Capricorns tend to be successful later in life.

You are uncomfortable with uncertainty and tend to see things in black and white. To the un-evolved Capricorn there is only one right way and that is your way. Caps can be very closed minded and critical and put value only in power and success. You are usually materialistic and marry for money and prestige. You can be very spiteful to those who stand in your way. It is often said that Capricorns will live to a ripe old age just to spite people. You have a great sense of pride and will not forgive anyone who belittles or slights you in any way.

Capricorns are considered the loner of the zodiac, but have a great need to be loved and appreciated. Unfortunately, you won't let this be known. You hide behind many masks and when one is revealed there is still yet another. It may take a long time to discover the real you. You may seem indifferent and aloof only because you are so self-contained. But the very elusiveness of your personality can be very hypnotically attractive. Like a riddle wrapped inside a sphinx. There seems to be a fascinating secret buried in your depths and anyone willing to penetrate your shell of reserve will be greatly rewarded. That's if you can get in.

"It is the soul's duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master passion." ~Rebecca West (1985)

Whether it be a Capricorn man or a Capricorn woman both are very private and distance when it comes to relationships. Even secretive, but one wouldn't know. The least likely of all zodiacs to fall in love at first sight. Capricorns have no time to waste on silly flirtations. Love is a serious matter and if one doesn't measure up then one is out the door. Anyone looking to a Capricorn better be in for a long siege. Capricorn women are not easy to win and expect to be pursued, wooed and put into the mood. No Don Juan can leap in her bed and leap out again. If a man lets the issue of sex become a contest of wills there will be no contest. This woman could wear down a glacier. As for the Capricorn man, he may not be the most imaginative and poetic partner but he is skillful and lusty. His interest in the physical side of a relationship never wanes. As a matter of fact the older he gets the more potent. Their voracious sexual appetite is almost as intense as their greed for power. But when and if you do find the one, you're in it for the long haul.

Heaven or hell

*Taurus ~These two earth signs can provide the security each is looking for.
*Gemini ~A good learning experience but would never last
*Cancer ~The differences are just too big to overcome.
*Leo ~Trouble waits behind every door.
*Virgo ~A good pair of complementing each others suits.
*Libra ~Too many differences for this relationship to go anywhere.
*Scorpio ~Irresistible personalities bring them together never wanting to leave.
*Sagittarius ~Keep looking
*Capricorn ~Similarities will cause boredom
*Aquarius ~A rocky start but if the stick together great things could happen
*Pisces ~The difference between these to signs actually make them compatible.

The stars in politics ~ There isn't any. Do you want to know why? The stars can't even figure it out. There is no money. There are no jobs. And the war in the White House is more appalling than I could ever imagine. We are in debt up to our ass and the nonchalant attitude I get is, keep borrowing, keep printing and keep shelling it out. Because, well, fuck we can't pay it back anyway, so what's the difference from one million to 100 million or one trillion to 300 trillion. Chinese will soon be the new language. Konichiwa…Oh, I'm sorry that's Japanese.

Let's look into Cap's future:

~ Start the new year being cautious with money. Oh, and be less domineering with people as they will not appreciate your bossy ways.

~ Lighten up the next few months. Put your strong will aside for a while this should be a time for fun and frivolity. This should also be a time to clear up any misunderstandings.

~ Come April things run a lot smoothly at work if you take the "i" out of team and work together. You start to move forward full steam ahead. Expect great rewards by the end of the summer.

~ August is a good time to travel. Contact with people far away will bring promising opportunity for the future.

~ The next few months are all about social gain. You attract new and interesting people. Other people's project may benefit you so stay alert for those promising opportunities. Risk taking is at you beck and call so long as you keep your head on straight and use common sense.

Monthly Special ~ Personal birth chart. With your full birthdate, exact time of birth and birth place you can get a full sense of the real you through the exact positioning of your stars. We here at souls-R-Us have full respect for the privacy and confidentiality of each one of our clients. So don't hesitate. This special will only last through January while people are adjusting to high rising costs of food and energy.

Peace and warm wishes to all this holiday season