Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waterboarding: Because it Works

It's been reported that US interrogators waterboarded Khalid Sheik Muhammad 183 times. Apparently he coughed up useful information every time, making him a human ATM/encyclopedia of al-Qaeda activities and plans. Osama bin Laden must feel heightened anxiety every day due to Khalid's obvious willingness to tell his captors everything. In other words, waterboarding works. Imagine if US interrogators had gotten their hands on Khalid before 9/11.

Intel chief: Harsh techniques brought good info
Private memo says interrogation methods helped nation in terrorism fight

WASHINGTON - President Obama’s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.

“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country,” Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.

Admiral Blair sent his memo on the same day the administration publicly released secret Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of interrogation methods that the Obama White House has deemed to be illegal torture.

Among other things, the Bush administration memos revealed that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to a form of near-drowning known as waterboarding a total of 266 times.

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Borders for Dummies

Screwballs are part of every administration. Obama's administration has proven it is as inept as the Bush administration when choosing appointees for important jobs. After it becomes apparent that some appointees are nitwits, the process to off-load them begins. Luckily for Obama, some of his earliest declined to accept the offered jobs because they knew their tax problems would surface in the vetting process.
But downright nuttiness of the kind displayed by Janet Napolitano is often undetectable until it's too late. Her wackiness is now out, a mere three months after Obama took office. Not bad. She's the early bird, fortunately appearing early, before any doing any real damage.
Can someone please tell us how U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano got her job? She appears to be about as knowledgeable about border issues as a late-night radio call-in yahoo.

In an interview broadcast Monday on the CBC, Ms. Napolitano attempted to justify her call for stricter border security on the premise that "suspected or known terrorists" have entered the U. S. across the Canadian border, including the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack.

All the 9/11 terrorists, of course, entered the United States directly from overseas. The notion that some arrived via Canada is a myth that briefly popped up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and was then quickly debunked.

Informed of her error, Ms. Napolitano blustered: "I can't talk to that. I can talk about the future. And here's the future. The future is we have borders."

Just what does that mean, exactly?

Just a few weeks ago, Ms. Napolitano equated Canada's border to Mexico's, suggesting they deserved the same treatment. Mexico is engulfed in a drug war that left more than 5,000 dead last year, and which is spawning a spillover kidnapping epidemic in Arizona. So many Mexicans enter the United States illegally that a multi-billion-dollar barrier has been built from Texas to California to keep them out.

In Canada, on the other hand, the main problem is congestion resulting from cross-border trade. Not quite the same thing, is it?

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Wind and the Lying

Let's cut to the chase. Actually, let's jump to the end, the article closes with statements about the big drop in sales of wind generators following the disappearance of credit in the economy. The same final paragraph also noted that sales of wind generators depend on subsidies. Unless a wind generator can produce power for less than other methods, there is no basis for using the technology.

Wind generators themselves will become more expensive if legislation forces their use. Therefore, General Electric and Vestas are lobbying Congress for more laws that will ensure the continued success of their wind-generator operations. In fact, Environmentalists and their lobbyists will continue their work to convince Americans of the global threat presented by "reckless" and unchecked energy consumption.

In the 1950s, when Americans feared communist expansion, President Dwight Eisenhower alerted citizens to the dangers of the Military-Industrial Complex. The cozy relationship between government and defense contractors was accepted by most voters. Most believed in the Domino Theory and other scenarios describing the Moscow's plans for world dominanation. Americans, especially after World War II, were ready to believe that the best offense was a strong defense.

Americans were ready and willing to spend heavily to ensure that no nations would launch violent and destructive military campaigns to conquer and annex other states. However, Eisenhower understood this aspect of the American spirit. With that in mind, he warned Americans about an arms build-up. An expensive escalation of military strength leading to the creation of large stockpiles of nuclear weapons and complex systems for deploying them if war should break out. Intercontinental missile systems, long-range bombers, aircraft carriers, submarines, etc.

The vast arsenal worked as hoped. No shots were fired. Deterrence won the Cold War. About 30 years after Eisenhower spoke to the nation about the risks of a costly Military Industrial Complex, the Soviet Union collapsed, destroyed by its own fear and inability to maintain parity with the US military.

Today we are looking at the rise of the Environmental-Industrial Complex. Another cozy relationship between government and an industry. The Environmentalists are as intense and fervent as the old anti-Communists. Probably more driven, a result of the difficulty of describing the danger they see. Today we have a president whose attitude is "better safe than sorry." He's already declared a de facto war on the forces he believes have harmed the environment.

Unfortunately, he's escalating a war on a crucial element of our national strength: Cheap energy. He wants to raise the cost of energy. His policies -- those driven by the Environmental Industrial Complex -- will do the trick. But raising the cost of energy for an economy has about the same effect as cutting back supplies of clean drinking water available to the citizens. Imposing higher energy costs and attempting to restrict the future of an essential industry to fight an invisible and unidentifiable foe is extreme folly.

GE, Vestas Lead U.S. Wind Turbine Sales, Taking 56% of Market

April 12 (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. and Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s two largest suppliers of wind turbines, sold a record 4,648 megawatts in the U.S. last year, taking 56 percent of the total market, an industry group said.

Installations rose 58 percent to 8,300 megawatts. Wind turbines accounted for 42 percent of all new generating capacity in the U.S., almost matching the additions of natural gas fueled plants, the Washington-based American Wind Energy Association said today in a statement.

Juno, Florida-based FPL Group Inc.’s NextEra Energy Resources ranked first among companies that install wind turbines, with 25 percent of U.S. generation totaling 25,300 megawatts, enough to power 7 million homes, the group said.

That’s about 2.5 percent of total U.S. power supply. The U.S. leads the world in wind-power capacity.

Texas and Iowa have the most wind generation, followed by California and Minnesota. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. leads regulated utilities in wind-power production. Minnesota leads the nation in the share of power coming from wind at 7.5 percent.

President Barack Obama set a goal of doubling U.S. renewable energy over three years. Wind turbines are typically the cheapest source of renewable energy.

Employment in the wind industry rose 70 percent from a year ago to 85,000, the trade association said.

GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, retained the lead in largest number of wind turbines installed, with a 43 percent market share, the group said. Randers, Denmark-based Vestas had 13 percent, followed by Siemens AG and Suzlon Energy Ltd. with 9 percent each.

Developers were taking advantage of federal and state incentives to encourage renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Installations this year have stalled as a credit crisis dried up financing, the wind association said.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama Gets One Right

There's one good way to knock off a dying communist regime -- let subversive capitalists nail its coffin shut with commerce. The best possible outcome of Obama's action to let Americans travel to Cuba and send money to suffering Cubans is the distress it will cause Fidel. He will spend his dying days watching the 12 million inmates living on his island prison embrace every capitalist opportunity that slips onto the island as Americans jup over to Havana and elsewhere.

One of the biggest real estate booms of the 21st Century will occur in Cuba as its citizens are finally positioned to get everything Fidel had denied them for 49 years. Major League Baseball will get the boost it needs from the talent living in Cuba. Maybe the eventual fall of Fidel's dictatorship will lead to the arrival of a major league team in Havana. At the very least, a lot of spring training will return to the island.

Obama to allow travel, money transfers to Cuba

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is allowing Americans to make unlimited trips and money transfers to family in Cuba and easing other restrictions Monday to usher in a new era of openness toward the island nation ruled by communists for 50 years.

With the changes, Obama aims to lessen Cubans' dependence on the Castro regime, hoping that will lead them to demand progress on political freedoms, the official said. About 1.5 million Americans have relatives on the island nation that turned to communist rule in 1959 when Fidel Castro seized control.

"There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans," Obama said in a campaign speech last May in Miami, the heart of the U.S. Cuban-American community. "It's time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime."

Other steps taken Monday include expanding the things allowed in gift parcels being sent to Cuba, such as clothes, personal hygiene items, seeds, fishing gear and other personal necessities.

The administration also will begin issuing licenses to allow telecommunications and other companies to provide cell and television services to people on the island, and to allow family members to pay for relatives on Cuba to get those services, the official said.

Last May, former President George W. Bush announced a new policy that people living in the United States could include cell phones in gift parcels sent to Cubans. At the time, Bush aides said that U.S. residents could pay for the cell service attached to phones they send.

Francisco Hernandez, head of the exile group the Cuban American National Foundation, was once a staunch supporter of travel restrictions but supported Obama's announcement, saying he hopes it will inspire both sides to reconsider long-held positions.

It will help Cubans become more independent of the state "not only in economic terms but in terms of information, and contacts with the outside world," said Hernandez, who was imprisoned by the Cuban government for nearly two years after participating in the 1961 failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

Miami travel agent Tesie Aral said her phone has been ringing nonstop in anticipation of the announcement, with a tenfold increase last Friday alone.

"People were already planning to travel more based on their ability to go every 12 months," said Aral, owner of ABC Charters. "Whether they can travel more frequently than that depends on the economy."

Also in that Miami speech nearly a year ago, Obama promised to depart from what he said had been the path of previous politicians on Cuba policy — "they come down to Miami, they talk tough, they go back to Washington, and nothing changes in Cuba."

"Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy," he said then. "This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century — of elections that are anything but free or fair; of dissidents locked away in dark prison cells for the crime of speaking the truth. I won't stand for this injustice, you won't stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba."

He also promised to engage in direct diplomacy with Cuba, "without preconditions" but with "careful preparation" and "a clear agenda."

Some lawmakers, backed by business and farm groups seeing new opportunities in Cuba, are advocating wider revisions in the trade and travel bans imposed after Castro came to power in Havana.

But the official said that Obama is keeping the decades-old U.S. trade embargo, arguing that that policy provides leverage to pressure the regime to free all political prisoners as one step toward normalized relations with the U.S.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Obama: Something in the Air

Firing off artificial volcanos and planting artificial trees. Two ideas from Camp Obama for saving the planet. Is Hollywood involved in this? The idea of cloning and producing laboratory-designed humans is at the core of one major battle already underway. Obama wants to go further and re-engineer the entire planetary eco-system. Who said this guy is down to earth? He's Dr. Frankenstein.

Obama looks at climate engineering

(AP) - The president's new science adviser said Wednesday that global warming is so dire, the Obama administration is discussing radical technologies to cool Earth's air.

John Holdren told The Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month that the idea of geoengineering the climate is being discussed. One such extreme option includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays. Holdren said such an experimental measure would only be used as a last resort.

"It's got to be looked at," he said. "We don't have the luxury of taking any approach off the table."

Holdren outlined several "tipping points" involving global warming that could be fast approaching. Once such milestones are reached, such as complete loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic, it increases chances of "really intolerable consequences," he said.

Twice in a half-hour interview, Holdren compared global warming to being "in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog."

At first, Holdren characterized the potential need to technologically tinker with the climate as just his personal view. However, he went on to say he has raised it in administration discussions.

Holdren, a 65-year-old physicist, is far from alone in taking geoengineering more seriously. The National Academy of Science is making climate tinkering the subject of its first workshop in its new multidiscipline climate challenges program. The British parliament has also discussed the idea.

The American Meteorological Society is crafting a policy statement on geoengineering that says "it is prudent to consider geoengineering's potential, to understand its limits and to avoid rash deployment."

Last week, Princeton scientist Robert Socolow told the National Academy that geoengineering should be an available option in case climate worsens dramatically.

But Holdren noted that shooting particles into the air—making an artificial volcano as one Nobel laureate has suggested—could have grave side effects and would not completely solve all the problems from soaring greenhouse gas emissions. So such actions could not be taken lightly, he said.

Still, "we might get desperate enough to want to use it," he added.

Another geoengineering option he mentioned was the use of so-called artificial trees to suck carbon dioxide—the chief human-caused greenhouse gas—out of the air and store it. At first that seemed prohibitively expensive, but a re-examination of the approach shows it might be less costly, he said.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Our Muslim in Washington

"Achmed. This is better than I could have predicted. Praise Allah. I must consult the Koran."

"What is it, Abdul?"

"We have conquered the American infidels. The Great Satan has fallen. The non-believers asked a Muslim to lead them and he is. They have surrendered to Allah."

"Allahu akbar, Abdul. Forty years to conquer them. Only 40 years."

"With the Great Hussein Obama putting the American infidels in the hands of Allah, it will take no time to drive the Jews from Palestine. Praise Allah, Achmed. Praise Allah. Jihad, Achmed. Jihad has carried us to the top. We have defeated the infidels and it took only 19 martyrs in four jets to do it. Allahu ackbar.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Barack Obama, making his first visit to a Muslim nation as president, declared Monday the United States "is not and will never be at war with Islam."

Calling for a greater partnership with the Islamic world in an address to the Turkish parliament, Obama called the country an important U.S. ally in many areas, including the fight against terrorism. He devoted much of his speech to urging a greater bond between Americans and Muslims, portraying terrorist groups such as al Qaida as extremists who did not represent the vast majority of Muslims.

"Let me say this as clearly as I can," Obama said. "The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical ... in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject."

The U.S. president is trying to mend fences with a Muslim world that felt it had been blamed by America for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"America's relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not be based on opposition to al Qaida," he said. "We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."

"We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country," Obama said.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Our Man in Washington


"Yes, Achmed."

"Did you see the headline, Abdul?"

"No, Achmed. What does it say?"

"It says Hussein Obama has commanded his country to accept Islam. Praise Allah."

"Then we have won, have we not, Achmed?"

"Yes. We have won. And the infidel nation shall accept the will of Allah. Hussein Obama shall lead them. It is a great day."

Obama Tells Turkey U.S. Is ‘Not at War With Islam’

April 6 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama used an address in the Turkish capital to stress that the U.S. isn’t “at war with Islam,” as he pledged to ease tensions between the West and the Muslim world.

“I know that the trust that binds us has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced,” Obama said in a speech today to the Turkish parliament in Ankara. “Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not at, and will never be, at war with Islam.

Obama, on the first stop of a two-day trip to Turkey, his first as president to a Muslim country, stressed the cultural ties and shared history between the U.S. and Turkey in an alliance that has made the world “more secure.” The two can use that partnership to bridge the religious and cultural divide between the West and the predominantly Muslim east, he said.

He pledged to lend U.S. support to combat the “terrorist activities” of the Kurdish separatist movement, the PKK. The U.S. is prepared to be a partner to help work through the issue of Armenian massacres in 1915, and “strongly supports” Turkish membership of the European Union, Obama said.

“Turkey is bound to Europe by more than bridges over the Bosporus,” he said. “Turkish membership would broaden and strengthen Europe’s foundation once more.”

NATO Objections

Obama also championed Turkish EU membership yesterday in Prague during a U.S.-EU informal summit, one day after he helped overcome Turkish objections to Denmark’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the next head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“Turkey is key to Washington’s design to improve relations with the Muslim world,” said Josh Landis, co-director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

Obama told the Turkish lawmakers that a “partnership with the Muslim world is critical.”
Obama, 47, is meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after earlier holding talks with President Abdullah Gul. He will travel to Istanbul tomorrow.

“The struggle with terrorism is one of the important issues for both countries,” Gul, 58, told reporters after the talks. “We will advance our partnership to a new level. We are determined to be hand-in-hand on a range of issues.”

Street Protests

Turkish police arrested 15 people as several hundred demonstrators protesting U.S. policies tried to march on the parliament in Ankara, NTV television reported.

Inside, Obama said that for America to address a global economic crisis, religious extremism, climate change and weapons proliferation, it will need the help of its allies.

“No one nation can confront these challenges alone,” he said. “That is why we must listen to one another, and seek common ground.”

During his presidential campaign, Obama vowed to undertake a vigorous “public diplomacy program” that would distinguish his approach to foreign relations from that of former President George W. Bush.

Relying on international help will be “the approach of the United States of America going forward,” Obama said, as he continued to distance himself from his predecessor.

The president’s visit to Ankara and Istanbul is noteworthy also because Turkey, the only mainly Muslim member of NATO, angered the Bush administration by refusing to allow the U.S. to use its soil as a staging ground for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Iran Energy Accord

Bilateral tensions escalated further after the Turkish government reached an energy accord with Iran over American objections and criticized Israel’s December incursion into Gaza.

Obama said the U.S. will “continue to support your central role as an East-West corridor for oil and gas.” On Iraq, he asked for countries to set aside their differences on how the war began and instead work to end it. He said the U.S. will engage with “all of Iraq’s neighbors” to “forge a new dialogue that reconciles differences and advances our common security.”

He urged Palestinians and Israelis to work together for statehood, reiterating his support for a two state solution.

“Both Israelis and Palestinians must take the steps that are necessary to build confidence,” he said.

He also continued his outreach to Iran, which borders Iraq, calling it a “great civilization.”

‘Model Partnership’

Speaking to reporters after talks with Gul, Obama said the U.S. Turkish relationship could develop into a “model partnership” that lays “the foundation of a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous.”

Campaigning for president, then-U.S. Senator Obama called the 1915 conflict between Turks and Armenians a “genocide.” He declined to use that language today, saying at the press conference that “I have not changed views.” In his speech, he acknowledged that “the United States is still working through some of our own darker periods,” mentioning the treatment of Native Americans.

Obama, stressing the need for engagement based on “mutual interests and mutual understand,” said the U.S. will present specific programs relating to the Muslim world in the coming months.

“When people look back on this time, let it be said of America that we extended the hand of friendship,” he said in parliament.

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