Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Love a Man in a Uniform

Gang of Four - I Love a Man in a Uniform - YouTube link

This video of U.S. snipers in Iraq has been on YouTube since Dec. of 2006. Though I like Metallica, I thought the guys deserved some fresh music -- especially for the ladies. Enjoy gals. ;) - c

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Florida's "Guns-at-Work" Law Upheld

Image from browningmgs.com

Federal Judge Hands Huge Defeat to Florida Business Lobby on "Guns-at-Work" Law


The Florida Chamber of Commerce and The Florida Retail Federation argued for three years that business owners had an absolute right to control their employees. That's why they kept calling it the "take-your-guns-to-work" legislation.

They claimed they could search employee vehicles and ban firearms from those vehicles in the employer's parking lot. They claimed businesses didn't care if customers had guns in cars, they only cared about their right to control employees. When the legislature passed the law protecting the rights of workers, The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation filed a lawsuit in federal court asking the Court to throw out the law.

They argued that the law requiring businesses to allow guns in vehicles in their parking lots constituted an unconstitutional "taking" of their property. In court, the federal judge ruled against them - THEY LOST.

They argued that OSHA regulations require them to provide a safe work environment for their workers, which required them to bans guns in parking lots to comply with OSHA requirements. In court, the federal judge ruled against them - THEY LOST.

They argued that, as employers, they had an absolute right to control the conduct of their employees and could ban guns from employee vehicles in company parking lots while employees were at work. In court, the federal judge ruled against them - THEY LOST.

Those are the three points argued by the Chamber and the Retail Federation. THEY LOST ON ALL THREE POINTS.

At the hearing and in his ruling, the judge complained about language drafted by the legislature saying that it doesn't give businesses clear guidance on whether the laws allows business owners to ban customers from having guns in their cars in parking lots. Rather that clear up the confusion according to the intent of the legislature, he ruled that businesses can prohibit customers from keeping guns in their in the parking lot.

CURRENT STATUS:

The judge upheld the new NRA-supported law.

If a business has a gun ban policy, employees who possess a valid Concealed Weapons License are exempt from the gun ban policy and cannot be fired for exercising their gun rights.

If a business has a gun ban policy and no employee has a valid CW license, then that business can also ban customers from having guns locked in their vehicles in the parking lot while they shop or conduct business.

A business may not search vehicles to see if a person has a firearm; may not ask if a person has a firearm in the vehicle; may not ask if a person has a CW license.

PRACTICAL EFFECT:

Before the law passed, employees had no protection from anti-gun employers. They had no recourse. They had to give up their firearm and self-defense rights or be fired. They now have protection. WORKERS WON - BUSINESS LOBBY LOST

Due to the judge's ruling based on inartful language, business owners can post signs notifying customers that they are prohibited from having firearms locked in their vehicles while in the parking lots. CUSTOMERS DON'T HAVE TO PATRONIZE A BUSINESS THAT DOESN'T RESPECT THEIR RIGHT TO KEEP A GUN IN THEIR CAR - THEY CAN SPEND THEIR MONEY ELSEWHERE - CUSTOMERS WIN - BUSINESS LOSES.

Spokespersons for the Florida Chamber and the Florida Retail Federation are claiming victory, praising the judge for ruling that businesses can keep customers from having firearms in their vehicles in parking lots. It remains to be seen if business owners will agree that they won anything. They probably wish the Florida Chamber and the Florida Retail Federation would just shut up and quit alienating customers.

Our position is: Big Business lost. The People won.

Prepared by The National Rifle Association of America & Unified Sportsmen of Florida

The Sympathetic Stain

Document from Spies of the Revolution

While serving in Paris as an agent of the Committee of Secret Correspondence, Silas Deane is known to have used a heat-developing invisible ink, compounded of cobalt chloride, glycerin and water, for some of his intelligence reports back to America.

Even more useful to him later was a "sympathetic stain" created for secret communications by James Jay, a physician and the brother of John Jay. Dr. Jay, who had been knighted by George III, used the "stain" for reporting military information from London to America. Later he supplied quantities of the stain to George Washington at home and to Silas Deane in Paris.

The stain required one chemical for writing the message and a second to develop it, affording greater security than the ink used by Deane earlier.

Once, in a letter of John Jay, Robert Morris spoke of an innocuous letter from "Timothy Jones" (Deane) and the "concealed beauties therein," noting "the cursory examinations of a sea captain would never discover them, but transferred from his hand to the penetrating eye of a Jay, the diamonds stand confessed at once."

Washington instructed his agents in the use of the "sympathetic stain," noting in connection with "Culper Junior" that the ink "will not only render his communications less exposed to detection, but relieve the fears of such persons as may be entrusted in its conveyance . . ."

Washington suggested that reports could be written in the invisible ink "on the blank leaves of a pamphlet . . . a common pocket book, or on the blank leaves at each end of registers, almanacs, or any publication or book of small value."

Washington especially recommended that agents conceal their reports by using the ink in correspondence: "A much better way is to write a letter in the Tory stile with some mixture of family matters and between the lines and on the remaining part of the sheet communicate with the stain the intended intelligence."

Source: Counter Intelligence Reader, Vol. 1, Chap. 1,
The American Revolution and the Post-Revolutionary Era: A Historical Legacy (pdf)

Older and Wiser


An older, white-haired man walked into a jewelry store one Friday evening with a beautiful young gal at his side.

He told the jeweler he was looking for a special ring for his girlfriend.

The jeweler looked through his stock and brought out a $5,000 ring.

The old man said, "No, I'd like to see something more special."

At that statement, the jeweler went to his safe and brought back another ring. "Here's a stunning ring at only $40,000." he said.

The young lady's eyes sparkled and her whole body trembled with excitement.

The old man seeing this said, "We'll take it."

The jeweler asked how payment would be made and the old man stated, "By check. I know you need to make sure my check is good, so I'll write it now and you can call the bank Monday to verify the funds. I'll pick the ring up Monday afternoon."

Monday morning, the jeweler phoned the old man. "There is no money in your account, sir."

"I know," said the old man, "but let me tell you about my weekend!"

Freedom Sails

Click to enlarge images. - Photos courtesy Lockheed-Martin/Released

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The first ship in the Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship class, the future USS Freedom (LCS 1), began Builder's Trials on Lake Michigan July 28.

LCS is a fast, agile, focused-mission ship designed to defeat asymmetric "anti-access" threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The 378-foot Freedom is being designed and built by a Lockheed Martin-led industry team.

"Getting Freedom underway is a significant step in the ship's steady progress toward entering the fleet," said LCS Program Manager Capt. James Murdoch. "Freedom has overcome many challenges to reach this important milestone. LCS 1 will add tremendous capabilities to the fleet for our Sailors."

Builder's trials test the vessel's propulsion, communications, navigation and mission systems, as well as all related support systems. Following the completion of builder's trials, Freedom will return to Marinette Marine to prepare for acceptance trials that will be conducted by the U.S. Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey.

The LCS 1 Freedom class consists of two different hullforms – a semiplaning monohull and an aluminum trimaran – designed and built by two industry teams, respectively led by Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. The seaframes will be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads, called mission packages, which can be changed out quickly. These mission packages focus on three mission areas: mine counter measures, surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

LCS 1 is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy later this year and will be homeported in San Diego.

For more news from Naval Sea Systems Command, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/navsea/.

Source: Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Iran's Secret Nuclear Reactor

The Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa reported today that, according to "highly reliable sources," Iranian authorities had begun construction of a secret nuclear reactor in the Al-Zarqan region close to the city of Ahwaz in southwest Iran, on the Iran-Iraq border.

The paper said that according to sources, Iran was working to distance its nuclear installations from international oversight. The English version of the report, published in the Kuwaiti Arab Times, said, "Disclosing [that] Tehran directed international A-bomb inspectors to other places, sources warned [that] the project poses a very serious threat to international security."

Also according to the sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not know about this site at all, since it was not included in negotiations with Iran in Geneva held in early July.

According to the report, the sources said that during 2000-2003, Iran expropriated the lands and homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region, destroying homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region.

Destroyed homes, fields, orchards, and wells, and built a three-meter-high wall around the project site, which allegedly measures hundreds of kilometers.

The report also said that "the construction of the reactor began with the laying of a pipeline for fresh water from the [nearby] Karoun River to the site, and the expansion of the Al-Zarqan power station."

Also, the sources said that "the construction works seem to be routine and do not arouse attention, but the tight security around the region is what arouses suspicions regarding the nature of the work." They added that the site is guarded by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) personnel, reflecting its importance and sensitivity.

IRGC Commander's Letter to Construction Company: Maintain Complete Secrecy

In its report, Al-Siyassa included a letter dated April 7, 2008 from the office of the assistant of IRGC commander in Al-Ahwaz city Brig. Hassan Jalaliyan, marked "highly confidential," to Mohammed Kayafir, manager of the Mehab Qudus Company for Construction and Supervision, which is building the reactor. The following is a translation of the letter:

"From the IRGC Commander in the city of Al-Ahwas to the director in charge at the Mehab Qudus company for Construction and Supervision Mr. Mohammed Kayafir

"Re: The nuclear reactor at Al-Zarqan

"Greetings,

"I thank you for the good services of the Mehab Qudus company, and at the same time I must remind you of the following items:

"1. All construction materials must be transported from the warehouses to the construction site in top secrecy.

"2. As part of the doctrine of caution, we reiterate yet again that during the transport of all required materials, you must ensure that this [transport] does not arouse the suspicions of any citizen in the region through which you are moving.

"3. In general, it is absolutely forbidden to hire any Arabic speakers or any citizen from Khozestan in the framework of the 'Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor' construction project. You must ensure that all manpower, including the driver, the accountant, the warehouse manager, the laborer, the technician, or the guard, comes from the northern provinces.

"In conclusion, we say yet again that all the construction work in this project must be carried out under absolute secrecy.

"From the aide to IRGC commander in the city of Al-Ahwaz, Hassan Jalaliyan."

An Ideal Place to Build a Nuclear Reactor - The Local Residents Can Serve as a Human Shield

Al-Siyassa also reported that the "National Society for Arabstan State took satellite pictures of the location, which looked perfect for the construction of a secret nuclear reactor..." It added, "The site is more suitable for building a nuclear reactor than Bushehr, which is close to American bases." It noted that a nuclear power plant under construction at Darkhovin is in an open area on the main road between Ahwaz and Abadan - while the "Al-Zarqan nuclear reactor is in the middle of very highly populated areas, making it a very difficult target due to a possibility that the Iranian authorities will use civilians as human shields."

On January 31, 2008, the Iran Daily wrote that Iranian Atomic Energy Organization deputy head Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh had said that the nuclear power plant at Darkhovin, in southwestern Iran, would become operational in 2016.

Source: MEMRI

American Presidents

The Presidents - YouTube link

Music by Johnny Cash - Ragged Old Flag

  1. George Washington, 1789-1797
  2. John Adams, 1797-1801
  3. Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809
  4. James Madison, 1809-1817
  5. James Monroe, 1817-1825
  6. John Quincy Adams, 1825-1829
  7. Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837
  8. Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841
  9. William Henry Harrison, 1841
  10. John Tyler, 1841-1845
  11. James Knox Polk, 1845-1849
  12. Zachary Taylor, 1849-1850
  13. Millard Fillmore, 1850-1853
  14. Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857
  15. James Buchanan, 1857-1861
  16. Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865
  17. Andrew Johnson, 1865-1869
  18. Ulysses Simpson Grant, 1869-1877
  19. Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 1877-1881
  20. James Abram Garfield, 1881
  21. Chester Alan Arthur, 1881-1885
  22. Grover Cleveland, 1885-1889
  23. Benjamin Harrison, 1889-1893
  24. Grover Cleveland, 1893-1897
  25. William McKinley, 1897-1901
  26. Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909
  27. William Howard Taft, 1909-1913
  28. Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921
  29. Warren Gamaliel Harding, 1921-1923
  30. Calvin Coolidge, 1923-1929
  31. Herbert Clark Hoover, 1929-1933
  32. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933-1945
  33. Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953
  34. Dwight David Eisenhower 1953-1961
  35. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961-1963
  36. Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963-1969
  37. Richard Milhous Nixon, 1969-1974
  38. Gerald Rudolph Ford, 1974-1977
  39. James Earl Carter, Jr., 1977-1981
  40. Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1981-1989
  41. George Herbert Walker Bush, 1989-1993
  42. William Jefferson Clinton, 1993-2001
  43. George Walker Bush, 2001-

Monday, July 28, 2008

Spiderman in Tehran

By Amir Taheri for Ashara Al Awsat

"A picture is worth a thousand words!" This is the proverb invented by an American photographer in the 1920s but ascribed to the Chinese for good effect. While not always true, like all other proverbs, it is surprisingly accurate on some occasions. No picture could replace a thousand words by Neffari or Roumi. But no number of words could replace the 1990 photo of an Afghan teenage girl with terror in her green eyes, reflecting two decades of war and famine.

Sometimes, however, words are needed to reveal the hidden meanings of a photo. For, on occasions, pictures disguise more than they reveal. This is why some editors attach as much importance to the art of writing captions as to the magic of devising headlines.

Last Saturday, 19 July 2008, Asharq Al Awsat published on its front page a news picture that offers a deep, perhaps unintended, insight into the current political mood of the Khomeinist rank-and-file in Iran.

The picture had been taken a day earlier during the Friday prayer gathering at the campus of the Tehran University, an important weekly political event in the Iranian capital. Attended by up to 20,000 people, the gathering usually lasts around three hours of which about 20 minutes are devoted to prayer. The rest is taken up by sermons and political speeches during which senior clerics and official spokesmen introduce the government's latest slogans and political guidelines. The occasion also provides the leadership for a weekly check on the mood of its most ardent followers. Photographers and television crews are always on the look out for the one moment that might translate that mood into images.

One such moment was captured last Friday in the photo splashed across five columns by Asharq Al Awsat its front page.

The photo depicts a corner of the congregation. One can distinctly see the faces of 22 men and one boy aged perhaps seven or eight. It is towards the end of the main sermon by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami when congregants are invited to wave their clenched fists and shout: "Death to America!", the signature slogan of Khomeinism.

But what do we see?

Of the 22 men, six have kept their mouths tightly shut, obviously wishing to show they are not shouting the required slogan. Another six keep their mouths moving, but are not waving clenched fists.

One man has raised both hands in a sign associated with surrender, and another is waving at the camera. Even those who seem to be shouting and waving clenched fists are doing so in a manner clearly designed to show that they are doing so reluctantly. With the exception of two individuals who seem camera-conscious and want to show their zeal, all others in the picture appear bored, tired and unhappy.

One young man is holding his chin in one hand, deep in his reverie as if he were all alone on a desert island. A middle-aged man is sneakily looking side ways, presumably towards the women's quarter, and ignoring what is going on around him. An older man stares into the camera and waves his hand as if to say "hello!" One man appears to be fast asleep in the middle of 20,000 supposed "volunteers for martyrdom".

Of the 22 men, only eight appear to be young, that is to say aged below 40, a sure sign that Khomeinism is no longer attracting the youth. Of the eight young men in this picture, four are clean-shaven, something unthinkable in the Islamic Republic even five years ago.

Over the past 30 years, Iranians have developed a new branch of semiology, the science of signs, known as "rish shenasi" (beard-spotting). This new science enables one to guess the social background and political tendencies of an individual from the form of his facial hair.

With the help of an amateur "rish shenas" (beard-spotter), we deconstructed the Asharq Al Awsat photo with some interesting results.

Of the 22 men in the photo, not one is sporting the mandatory radical style of beard associated with Khomeinist militants such as the Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. It is clear that nobody wishes to be mistaken for a Hezballahi, a species hated by most Iranians. Ten of the men wear traditional beards that have always been popular in Iran, especially in the countryside. Three have only moustaches, often associated with Iran with parties of the left such as the Communist Tudeh (Masses) or the Islamic-Marxists such as the Mujahedin Khalq. Two clean-shaven young men may well be mistaken for nostalgics of the Shah's regime. One could imagine them slipping into their designer suits and instantly feel at home at any middle class party anywhere in the world.

All the men in the picture wear shirts, four of them with short sleeves, something unthinkable a few years ago, and two more with sleeves rolled up. Needless to say, there is not a single necktie in sight, and only one of the shirts, a blue Yves Saint-Laurent one, looks expensive. Only one man is fondling a rosary, an object hat would have been almost universal in such a congregation only a few years ago.

The picture shows a congregation that is exclusively male, four-fifths middle aged or old, and, although appearances may be misleading, mostly from middle and lower middle class backgrounds. It does not represent a population that is 55 per cent female, 60 per cent young and 80 per cent urban working class and/or rural.

The Asharq Al Awsat's picture has a jewel right in the middle. This is the image of the young boy. We see him standing up and stretching one arm upwards with more enthusiasm than the old folk surrounding him. But what is he really doing? A closer look shows that he is trying to hang on to an imaginary object that would help him climb up. Why? Well, he is wearing an orange T-shirt showing the Spiderman, the American movie hero who climbs the highest walls.

The "Great Satan" is present in the inner sanctum of the Khomeinist religion, and, to make matters worse, by a young boy representing the future generation of Iranians.

~

Amir Taheri was born in Iran and educated in Tehran, London and Paris. Between 1980 and 1984 he was Middle East editor for the London Sunday Times. Taheri has been a contributor to the International Herald Tribune since 1980. He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Taheri has published nine books some of which have been translated into 20 languages. In 1988, Publishers' Weekly in New York chose his study of Islamist terrorism, "Holy Terror", as one of The Best Books of The Year. He has been a columnist of Asharq Al Awsat since 1987.

Booze Blues for Sudan's Women Under Sharia

Zakia is a Muslim woman living under Sharia law, stigmatized as a criminal for brewing and selling illicit alcohol to feed the family that her father abandoned outside Sudan's booming capital.

It is a simple recipe and one cooked up by thousands of women in the squalid camps and impoverished neighborhoods of those who fled years of war across southern, western and eastern Sudan.

Put dates and baking powder in water. Cover with a plastic bag to fend off the perennial dust, then bury underground for two to five days depending on the season. Heat over a fire and drip the piping hot liquid through a sieve.

Add water.

One to two hours later, 23-year-old Zakia has enough bottled aragi to flog to local labourers for a week, earning enough cash to keep her, her mother, brother, niece and seven sisters in food and clothes.

She got married last year. But the relationship failed and they live apart. With a street attitude akin to the Bronx, she slices through the air with a defiant hand when asked if her husband looks after her financially.

"I don't even want to see his face," she says, recoiling in distaste, catching a whiff of aragi as she sits back on a plastic chair while her sisters giggle and plait their hair in the corner.

A gangly customer folds himself onto the bed behind, extending a boney arm along the back of her chair, already a bit drunk in the stifling heat of a leisurely Friday in Halfaya, 15 kilometres (nine miles) north of Khartoum.

Zakia puts financial independence and business ethics above religious dictums about not indulging. Besides she does not drink, perhaps wary of turning into one of her drunken, layabout customers.

"It's just a trade," she says, denying any pang of conscience in profiting from what the Koran forbids.

But it's a dangerous business. Police raids are frequent. Around 90 percent of inmates in the women's prison were arrested on suspicion of selling aragi. They complain of beatings, fines, ransacked homes and confiscated booze.

Community workers say police hide behind the cloak of Islam, running alchol rackets with what they confiscate to supplement poor pay. They talk about women sinking into prostitution and sexual favours in return for protection.

The women's prison in Omdurman, across the Nile from the seat of government, is dank, overcrowded and filthy. Ex-inmates say the food is too disgusting to eat, the wardens cruel and their children left unfed. Jail is a social stigma.

Chol Sakina, a Christian from the south, has been in Khartoum for more than two years. The poorest of the poor, she does not know how old she is and cannot afford to go home. She is too frightened to talk about alcohol.

She lives with her one-eyed aunt in a mud hut. They say they have not worked since police threw their equipment into the river four months ago.

A stale fish brought by well-wishers lies coated in dust on the ground. Her aunt's only knife is so blunt she can't hack through the scales.

"Sometimes we only eat flour with salt," says her aunt, Kadose. "This is poor people's food," she says tilting a bucket of grey, watery slop into view.

"We'll die from this food."

Magda Ali, a doctor who lost her government job after the Islamist-backed coup of 1989, helps run a charity that works to lift thousands of alcohol women out of the poverty and ignorance that trapped them into the trade.

"Poverty is everywhere in Sudan. To break the poverty cycle, the best thing is to start skills' training, such as caring for the elderly, bedside nursing. But the problem is the market does not accept them," says Ali.

Her Al Manar organisation has success stories. They train women in basic health and provide loans to encourage them into different small businesses.

The biggest country in Africa, Sudan is run by an Arab elite looking to the culture and Islam of the Arab world.

But most Sudanese see themselves as African, from a tribal culture in which fermented, or alcohol drinks, are perfectly acceptable.

Indeed many alcohol sellers list policemen, civil servants and middle class professionals among their customers.

"Fermented dates are a culture all over Sudan. It's not a crime. All over Sudan traditionally people make sherbet, fermented. Boiled dates with herbs. They especially make it for weddings. It is an alcoholic drink," says Ali.

"We have all the culture of Africa but since independence (from Britain in 1956) we have been ruled by a government with an Arab culture. They try to impose things that are not African," she adds.

Viviana John, a teenager who lives in a hut in the shadow of imposing villas built on the back of oil profits, dreams of becoming a doctor.

Her mother hopes to finance those dreams by selling alcohol, earning 300 dollars a month after her husband lost his job. But Viviana lives in fear.

"If the police come here to take her, we'd be in big trouble. If I could find a place to work, may be I could help, but I can't," she says, babysitting her four siblings while her mother Mary is out buying booze to sell.

"What can she do? My mum doesn't want to work as a housemaid in Arab people's houses. She used to work as a tea lady, but a fight broke out. She sort of got hit by mistake and didn't ever want to work there again," she said.

Her mother, Mary calls the area near the North Khartoum industrial zone where she goes shopping "the centre of the drunkards".

"If you go to jail you find things far worse than just selling drink, such as murder. It's the least of the vices. But it deserves to be controlled, kept illegal, otherwise people will drink to death."

"My son is 17. My daughter 16. One is seven years old, one five and the youngest seven months. I hope to educate them by selling this aragi so that when they grow up, they will feed me," she says in the pitch black of night.

Source AFP

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Turtle Man

The Turtle Man - YouTube link

"I try not to smile because I got my teeth knocked out by a chainsaw." - Turtle Man

Running full speed into a green pond is all part of the fun for the Turtle Man.

Watch as he reaches blindly into murky waters infested with snapping turtles in hopes of grabbing the tail end of this sharp beaked beast.

The Turtle Man is truly a one-of-a-kind character. You have to see him to believe it!

"I'm Kentucky's best kept secret." - Turtle Man

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Old Guard Meets New

In a historic rendezvous, the Coast Guard Cutter Barque Eagle, and the cutter Bertholf passed along side each other near the San Francisco Ferry Terminal.

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is a three-masted barque, and carries square-rigged sails on the fore and main masts. The sailing vessel is 295 feet long, can attain speeds of up to 17 knots under full sail, and has the capacity to carry 239 passengers and crew. The Eagle has been in service within the Coast Guard since 1946, serving as a training platform for cadets and officer candidates to learn leadership, teamwork, seamanship, and navigation skills. She is the only square-rigged sailing vessel still actively serving in the Unites States military. The Eagle is visiting San Francisco and five other West Coast ports, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Astoria, Tacoma, and Victoria, British Columbia.

The Bertholf is the lead ship in the new Legend class of cutters designed to be the flagship of the modern Coast Guard fleet. Bertholf will improve operational readiness and enable the Coast Guard to fulfill its multi-mission roles more effectively through better sea keeping, higher sustained transit speeds, greater endurance and range, and a greater ability to launch and recover improved small boats, helicopters, and eventually unmanned aerial vehicles - all key attributes in enabling the Coast Guard to implement increased security responsibilities.

Olympic Terror Thwarted?


2008 Olympic Games Target of Terror Plot

Chinese police claim to have cracked a terrorist cell planning to attack athletes at the Olympic Stadium in Shanghai.

Though China did not name the group responsible, a recent YouTube post by the Turkistan Islamic Party clearly shows the TIP plans to target the 2008 Olympic Games.

The 3-minute 24-second video (below,) dated July 23, entitled "Our Blessed Jihad in Yunnan" features a statement by TIP Commander Seyfullah who warned, "Our aim is to target the most critical points related to the Olympics. We will try to attack Chinese central cities severely, using tactics that have never been employed." - Related story.


The Turkistan Islamic Party Threatens Olympic Games in China

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sunkist Smiles

Click to enlarge image.

Grand prize winner of the Sunkist Smiles photo contest:

Siblings Emma and Timber from Greensville, SC, taking the Sunkist orange wedged-smile to the max.

PRNewsFoto/Sunkist Growers, Inc.

Sisters of Fallujah

Photo: U.S. Marine Corps by Cpl Erin A. Kirk

Iraqi women learn they can shoot as well as men.

Above, an Iraqi woman shoots an AK-47 type rifle at a range in Fallujah, Iraq, on April 29, 2008.

Women enrolled in becoming Sisters of Fallujah participated in a live-fire range as part of their police training.

source centcom.mil

~

Rifle make. - h/t: lazycat

Sermon from the Mount

Mount Rushmore circa 2108 political parody by Doctordawg.


Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company. - George Washington


Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question. - Thomas Jefferson


No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. - Theodore Roosevelt


I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday. - Abraham Lincoln


~


Thursday, July 24, 2008

NASA Image Library

NASA and Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library based in San Francisco, made available the most comprehensive compilation ever of NASA's vast collection of photographs, historic film and video today.

Located at www.nasaimages.org, the Internet site combines for the first time 21 major NASA imagery collections into a single, searchable online resource.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

They Can Build It. They Have the Technology.

North Korea May Develop Electromagnetic Pulse Weapon System

By Michael Ha, Staff Reporter, The Korea Times

A top U.S. scientist warned American lawmakers of a possible catastrophic national security scenario: a possible development of Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons by rogue states, including North Korea, and a potential detonation of such a device on American soil.

William Graham, chairman of the U.S. government-sponsored "Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States," told U.S. lawmakers that the Stalinist state has the required technologies to develop such weapons.

In a testimony to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee this month, the scientist said EMP weapons are "one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences."

Graham told lawmakers that the detonation of such devices over the middle of the continental United States "has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures that support the fabric of U.S. society and the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power."

He warned: "Several potential adversaries have the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse, and others appear to be pursuing efforts to obtain that capability."

What's worse, he noted, is that "a determined adversary can achieve EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication."

"For example, an adversary would not have to have long-range ballistic missiles to conduct an EMP attack against the United States. Such an attack could be launched from a freighter off the U.S. coast using a short- or medium-range missile to loft a nuclear warhead to high altitude."

He said even small nuclear weapons can create massive EMP effects, giving out an intensely fluctuating magnetic field, over wide geographic areas. "United Nations investigators recently found that the design for an advanced nuclear weapon, miniaturized to fit on ballistic missiles currently in the inventory of Iran, North Korea and other potentially hostile states, was in the possession of Swiss criminals affiliated with the A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network."

And because the United States relies heavily on electricity and electronics, the scientist told U.S. lawmakers, "the impact would be far worse than on a country less advanced technologically," adding that the weapon could cripple the U.S. financial system as well as the system of distribution for food and water and medical care.

Further reading: EMP Attack: Critical National Infrastructures

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Escape from L.A. - "Snake Plissken shuts down the Earth"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Eye for the Dramatic

Click to enlarge image.

The world's largest floating stage hosts Puccini's opera Tosca, in Philipp Himmelmann's staging, on July 23, at the Breganz Festival in Austria. (PRNewsFoto/Bregenzer Festspiele GmbH) - Related story.

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Pavarotti - Recondita armonia - Tosca, Puccini

Get Your U.S. Passport Card Here

Joint Announcement from the U.S. Departments of State And Homeland Security on Passport Card Production

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that the new U.S. Passport Card is in full production and is now being distributed. The Passport Card is a convenient, wallet-sized document for land and sea travel between the United States and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It is not valid for international travel by air.

Beginning in June 2009, travelers will be required to present a single Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document denoting both citizenship and identity when entering the United States through a land or sea border.

More than 350,000 Americans pre-ordered the U.S. Passport Cards since the State Department began taking orders on February 1. Over 7,600 cards have already been mailed to advance customers, and all pre-orders are expected to be filled by September 30, 2008. After that initial distribution, we expect the processing time for passport cards to be the same as for passport books – less than four weeks. Customers will be able to track the progress of their passport card application online beginning in mid-August.

The passport card will facilitate the frequent travel of Americans living in border communities by utilizing a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. With this technology, DHS’ U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will be able to access photographs and other biographical information stored in secure government databases before the traveler reaches the inspection booth so that inspection can be facilitated. For privacy protection, no personal information is stored on the electronic chip itself. The chip will have only a unique number pointing to a stored record contained in secure government databases.

“We are pleased to offer Americans a choice of documents, the traditional passport book, and now the passport card, to meet their personal needs for international travel,” said Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice L. Jacobs. “The passport card is the newest addition to the Department’s long history of providing secure, reliable services to the American traveling public.”

“We have been working closely with the U.S. Department of State to be able to provide another type of secure identification that is vital to protecting our nation’s borders” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Policy Stewart Baker. “The new passport cards will help facilitate legitimate travel while allowing our frontline personnel to focus more on those who may pose a threat.”

The Passport Card is available for $45 for first-time adult applicants and $35 for children under 16. Adults who currently have valid passports can apply for the passport card by mail for $20.

For information on how to apply for a U.S. Passport Card or the traditional passport book please visit the following website: travel.state.gov.

The Media is in Love with Barack

The Media is in Love with Barack

It's pretty obvious that the media has a bizarre fascination with Barack Obama. Some may even say it's a love affair. If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The FBI: A Centennial History, 1908-2008

To help commemorate its 100th anniversary, the FBI has produced its first coffee-table history, FBI: A Centennial History 1908-2008 (Hardcover).

The 132-page book traces the FBI’s journey from fledgling startup to one of the most respected names in national security, taking you on a walk through the seven key chapters in Bureau history.

It features overviews of more than 40 famous cases and an extensive collection of photographs.

You can purchase hardcover or paperback copies of the book from the Government Printing Office and from various online booksellers.

It is also available here free of charge, either as a printable pdf or in a text-only format.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fashion Week in Iran

Iran's answer to fashion week, the 3rd Festival of Women of My Land, is currently underway in Tehran at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults.

A total number of 33 Islamic countries participated in the festival presenting new Islamic designs for women's dress.

The first journal of Islamic dress code in 100 colorful pages will be printed and offered during the festival.

Focusing on tribal wedding dress and costumes for young adults, the showcase will continue until June 25, 2008 at the venue.

Source: Tehran Times

Photos from last year's festival.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blind Man's Buff

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Blind man's bluff or Blind man's buff is a children's game played in a spacious area, such as outdoors or in a large room, in which one player, designated as "It," is blindfolded and gropes around attempting to touch the other players without being able to see them, while the other players scatter and try to avoid the person who is "it", hiding in plain sight and sometimes teasing them to make them change direction. The game is a variant of tag.

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"Am I in Afghanistan?"

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RNC: Obama's Afghanistan Travel Guide

The following is being issued by the Republican National Committee:

TIP #1: You Should Take The Opportunity To Learn About The Difficult Work Our Troops Are Doing, Before Assuming That They Are "Just Air-Raiding Villages And Killing Civilians" In Afghanistan:

Obama Said American Troops Were "Just Air-Raiding Villages And Killing Civilians." Obama: "We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there." (Philip Elliott, "Obama Gets Warning From Friendly Voter," The Associated Press, 8/14/07)

NOTE: "It Will Be Obama's First Trip To Afghanistan. He Has Been To Iraq Once." (Dan Hoover, "Demint Asks Obama For Hearings On Afghanistan," The Greenville [South Carolina] News, 7/16/08)

TIP #2: Leave The English-To-Arabic Dictionary At The Hotel, Because Contrary To Your Earlier Assertion, The Arabic Language Is Not Widely Spoken There:

Obama Claimed That We Are Placing "All" Of Our Arabic Interpreters In Iraq When They Are Needed In Afghanistan. Obama: "Right now, we don't have enough troops and NATO hasn't provided enough troops because they are still angry about us going into Iraq. So we just don't have enough capacity right now to deal with -- and it's not just troops by the way, it's like Arabic interpreters, Arab language speakers. We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then it's harder for us to use them, and obviously they may not speak Arabic, but the various dialects that they speak in Afghanistan often times people who speak Urdu or Pashto or whatever the languages are, they are going to be needed in those areas and a lot of them have ended up being placed elsewhere. So, we've got to focus on Afghanistan." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At A Campaign Event, Cape Girardeau, MO, 5/13/08)

According To The CIA World Factbook, The Languages Spoken In Afghanistan Are: "Afghan Persian Or Dari (Official) 50%, Pashto (Official) 35%, Turkic Languages (Primarily Uzbek And Turkmen) 11%, 30 Minor Languages (Primarily Balochi And Pashai) 4%, Much Bilingualism." (CIA World Factbook Website, www.cia.gov, Accessed 5/13/08)

"The Vast Majority Of Military Translators In Both War Zones Are Drawn From The Local Population. Naturally They Speak The Local Language. In Iraq, That's Arabic Or Kurdish. In Afghanistan, It's Any Of A Half Dozen Other Languages -- Including Pashtu, Dari, And Farsi." (David Wright and Sunlen Miller, "Obama Gaffes On Iraq And Afghanistan," ABC News' "Political Radar" Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 5/13/08)

TIP #3: If You Claim To Be A Leader On Afghanistan, You Could Have Taken The Opportunity To Lead And Hold Hearings On Our NATO Operations There:

Obama: "I ask you to consider my judgment and vision for new American leadership. Leadership that brings our combat brigades out of Iraq in 16 months, renews American diplomacy, finishes the fight in Afghanistan..." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks On Foreign Policy, Des Moines, IA, 12/18/07)

The Subcommittee On European Affairs Has Jurisdiction Over The Countries Of Europe As Well As NATO Activities. "Jurisdiction: The subcommittee deals with all matters concerning U.S. relations with the countries on the continent of Europe...and with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe." (U.S. Senate Committee On Foreign Relations Website, foreign.senate.gov, Accessed 2/27/07)

As Chairman Of The Subcommittee On European Affairs, Obama Could Have Held Hearings On The Role Of NATO In Afghanistan. "[A]mbassador John Ritch, who served for two decades as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's senior staffer on European affairs and East-West relations...[P]oints out that as subcommittee chair, Obama could have examined a wide variety of urgent matters, from the role of NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq to European energy policy and European responses to climate change..." (Joe Conason, "Obama's European Problem," Salon.com, www.salon.com, 12/29/07)

TIP #4: If You Really Wanted To Increase The Resources Available For Afghanistan, You Could Have Voted For A Bill Providing Funding For Operations There:

Obama: "Perhaps most importantly, some of these troops could be redeployed to Afghanistan, where our lack of focus and commitment of resources has led to an increasing deterioration of the security situation there. ... By redeploying from Iraq to Afghanistan, we will answer NATO's call for more troops and provide a much-needed boost to this critical fight against terrorism." (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks To The Chicago Council On Global Affairs, Chicago, IL, 11/20/06)

Obama Voted Against Providing $94.4 Billion In Critical Funding For The Troops In Iraq And Afghanistan. (H.R. 2206, CQ Vote #181: Passed 80-14: R 42-3; D 37-10; I 1-1, 5/24/07, Obama Voted Nay)

The Emergency Spending Bill Provided The Following For U.S. Operations In Afghanistan:
$40 million for new power generation
$314 million for rural road rebuilding
$155 million for rural development
$19 million for agriculture
$174 million for Provincial Reconstruction Teams
$25 million for governance capacity building
$10 million for a Civilian Assistance Program
$79 million to support Diplomatic and Consular Programs
$16 million for Migration and Refugee Assistance
$16 million for International Disaster and Famine Assistance for Internally Displaced Persons Assistance
$47 million for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement activities (Stephen Daggett, Amy Belasco, Pat Towell, Susan B. Epstein, Connie Veillette, Curt Tarnoff, Rhoda Margesson, and Bart Elias, "FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations For Defense, Foreign Affairs, And Other Purposes," Congressional Research Service, 7/2/07)

TIP #5: Do Not Insult Your Hosts:

Obama Said The Karzai Government "Has Not Gotten Out Of The Bunker" In Afghanistan. Obama: "I think the Karzai government has not gotten out of the bunker and helped organize Afghanistan and government, the judiciary, police forces, in ways that would give people confidence." (CNN's "GPS With Fareed Zakaria," 7/13/08)

Paid for by the Republican National Committee. Not Authorized By Any Candidate Or Candidate's Committee.

While I'm Away, the Cat Will Play

Apparently, while I was on vacation, my cat Puter was spending a lot of time on the Internet, filling in for me. The following is is an unpublished post she left in my inbox. (h/t: Puter for the video translation.)

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C, I found a new Osama video I thought you'd want to use for your blog... so I made a story of it for you. Love, P.

A Message From Osama Bin Laden

Puter takes covert action.

Hello, CIA Pizza? Yes. Delivery please.

Knock, knock. Pizza man!

al-Zawahiri: Another anchovy pizza?

Osama: A jihad on YouTube!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Olympic Stadium Satellite Photo

Click image to enlarge.

Sneak Peek from Beijing: New Satellite Image of the National Stadium and Aquatics Center captured by DigitalGlobe. See more satellite Imagery of Olympic sites at www.digitalglobe.com. (PRNewsFoto/DigitalGlobe)

Lamborghini Lover Lands First Gallardo LP560-4

Photo: PRNewswire

Automobili Lamborghini America, LLC delivered the first Gallardo LP560-4 to Benny Caiola, Jr., noted Italian car enthusiast and collector, this week at his home outside of New York City.

Mr. Caiola secured the right to the first LP560-4 through a generous bid at the East Side House Settlement charity auction during the 2008 New York International Auto Show.

Caiola's impressive garage, boasting dozens of exotic and collector cars, has housed many of Lamborghini's iconic and timeless models including the Countach, Diablo, Espada, Jalpa and the legendary Miura.

"Lamborghini was the first to garner my passion for automobiles," Caiola explained. "I've loved Lamborghinis my entire life and have owned nearly every model."

The Gallardo LP560-4 arrives at all 31 United States showrooms in late summer of 2008. The Gallardo, with more than 7,100 units sold worldwide, is Lamborghini's most successful model of all time.

The all-new 560 horsepower LP560-4, which replaces the previous Gallardo model, features a powerful new engine, permanent four-wheel drive system and an 18 percent reduction in fuel consumption and C02 emissions.

As of today, there is a six month waiting list for the new Gallardo LP560-4 signaling that the success of the Gallardo model will continue for years to come.

About Lamborghini


Founded in 1963, Automobili Lamborghini is headquartered in Sant'Agata Bolognese, in Northeastern Italy and manufactures some of the world's most sought after super sports cars. With 34 dealerships in North America and 114 worldwide, Automobili Lamborghini has created a succession of dynamic and elegant super sports cars including the Miura, Islero, Urraco, 350GT, Espada, Countach, Diablo, Murcielago LP640, Murcielago LP640 Roadster, Gallardo Coupe, Gallardo Spyder, Gallardo SE, Gallardo Superleggera, Reventon and the recently launched 2009 Gallardo LP560-4. For more information on Automobili Lamborghini, please visit the website at http://www.lamborghini.com/.


Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Precious Images

Precious Images

Precious Images by Chuck Workman is a movie montage featuring nearly 500 clips from the greatest films of all time. At one point, it was the most seen short film in history.

Complete list of all 469 film clips. h/t: Ike

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Having trouble choosing a movie to watch? This 7-minute film is sure to jog more than a few fantastic big screen memories.


Chaige We Can Believe In


Chaige Qingre Granule is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine used to treat the acute upper respiratory tract infection of wind heat syndrome (caused by inhaling too much hot air.)


National Campaign Fund - Hot Air





Barack Obama, Change We Can Believe In?

Inspired by Biology: From Molecules to Materials to Machines

T cell (shown in blue) interacting with an antigen-presenting cell (in green). The latter display molecular signatures of unknown pathogens. T cells can detect fewer than 10 such molecules based on cooperative interactions between membrane-bound and cytoplasmic molecules. SOURCE: Michael L. Dustin, Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine of the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Program in Molecular Pathogenesis.

Scientists have long desired to create synthetic systems that function with the precision and efficiency of biological systems.

To assess the current work and future promise of the biology-materials science intersection, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation asked the NRC to identify the most compelling questions and opportunities at this interface, suggest strategies to address them, and consider connections with national priorities such as healthcare and economic growth.

This book presents a discussion of principles governing biomaterial design, a description of advanced materials for selected functions such as energy and national security, an assessment of biomolecular materials research tools, and an examination of infrastructure and resources for bridging biological and materials science.


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