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Archive for December 2008

U.S. Military Prepares for Civil Unrest and Economic Riots

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us-army-war-college-report1Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal writes, “The economy is in recession. Consumer spending is down, foreclosures are up and a host of businesses are laying off workers and struggling with tight credit and the troubled housing and financial markets. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and U.S. Treasury Department have pumped more than $8.5 trillion into the economy via equity purchases of bank stocks, liquidity infusions, Wall Street and bank bailouts and taxpayer rebates. U.S. automakers are seeking more than $14 billion in federal loans with fears they could fall into bankruptcy without a bailout. The U.S. housing and subprime lending-induced recession also has hit economies in Europe, Japan and China.”

In light of this he mentions how a new report by the U.S. Army War College, which came out this past month, talks about “the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crises lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks.”

The War College Report states that “Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.”

The Full 51 Page War College Report Known Unknowns: Unconventional “Strategic Shocks” in Defense Strategy Development can be downloaded.  It is authored by Mr. Nathan P. Freier, a Visiting Professor of Strategy, Policy and Risk Assessment at the U.S. Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute and a Senior Fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  Mr. Freier joined CSIS in April 2008 after retiring from the U.S. Army after 20 years as a lieutenant colonel.

The report “is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States, Section 101.  As such, it is in the public domain, and under the provisions of Title 17, United States Code, Section 105, it may not be copyrighted.  It should be noted that Mr. Freier states that  “The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. This report is cleared for public release; distribution is unlimited.”

Written by subversiveunveiler

December 26, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Top 10 Underreported News Stories

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It is the time of year for all of the Top 10 lists to come out.  Time Magazine has a Top 10 for Everything in 2008.  They have the typical Top 10 News Stories, Top Ten Gadgets, Top 10 Religious Stories,  Top 10 Scientific Inventions and such.  One that kind of caught my eye among others was the Top 10 Underreported Stories of 2008.  What would you say would make your list of underrported stories of 2008?

Written by subversiveunveiler

December 26, 2008 at 3:06 am

Obama’s Cabinet

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If you’re having trouble remembering what all those cabinet positions are for the executive office and who Obama has put in them, here is a helpful resource I came across through McClatchy.  You’ll find a very, very brief description of the offices and the people filling them in the coming administration.

Written by Aaron Nee

December 20, 2008 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , ,

A Sunrise in the West?

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I am always excited to hear about scientists being baffled by extraordinary developments.  I was alerted to just such an event through Watts Up With That.

THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) is a medium-class mission under NASA’s Explorer Program, through which an alarming discovery has been made regarding a severe breach in the Earth’s protective magnetospere. The magnetosphere is a bubble of magnetism shielding the Earth from destructive solar wind. From time to time the magnetosphere is penetrated, but the degree to which it was torn open and how it happened has scientists baffled.  In regard to the discovery, THEMIS project scientist David Sibeck of the Goddard Space Flight Center says, “When I tell my colleagues, most react with skepticism, as if I’m trying to convince them that the sun rises in the west.”

What follows is the article from NASA reporting on the finding.

FEATURE
A Giant Breach in Earth’s Magnetic Field 12.16.2008

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Dec. 16, 2008: NASA’s five THEMIS spacecraft have discovered a breach in Earth’s magnetic field ten times larger than anything previously thought to exist. Solar wind can flow in through the opening to “load up” the magnetosphere for powerful geomagnetic storms. But the breach itself is not the biggest surprise. Researchers are even more amazed at the strange and unexpected way it forms, overturning long-held ideas of space physics.

“At first I didn’t believe it,” says THEMIS project scientist David Sibeck of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “This finding fundamentally alters our understanding of the solar wind-magnetosphere interaction.”

The magnetosphere is a bubble of magnetism that surrounds Earth and protects us from solar wind. Exploring the bubble is a key goal of the THEMIS mission, launched in February 2007. The big discovery came on June 3, 2007, when the five probes serendipitously flew through the breach just as it was opening. Onboard sensors recorded a torrent of solar wind particles streaming into the magnetosphere, signaling an event of unexpected size and importance.

Right: One of the THEMIS probes exploring the space around Earth, an artist’s concept. [more]

“The opening was huge—four times wider than Earth itself,” says Wenhui Li, a space physicist at the University of New Hampshire who has been analyzing the data. Li’s colleague Jimmy Raeder, also of New Hampshire, says “1027 particles per second were flowing into the magnetosphere—that’s a 1 followed by 27 zeros. This kind of influx is an order of magnitude greater than what we thought was possible.”

The event began with little warning when a gentle gust of solar wind delivered a bundle of magnetic fields from the Sun to Earth. Like an octopus wrapping its tentacles around a big clam, solar magnetic fields draped themselves around the magnetosphere and cracked it open. The cracking was accomplished by means of a process called “magnetic reconnection.” High above Earth’s poles, solar and terrestrial magnetic fields linked up (reconnected) to form conduits for solar wind. Conduits over the Arctic and Antarctic quickly expanded; within minutes they overlapped over Earth’s equator to create the biggest magnetic breach ever recorded by Earth-orbiting spacecraft.

Above: A computer model of solar wind flowing around Earth’s magnetic field on June 3, 2007. Background colors represent solar wind density; red is high density, blue is low. Solid black lines trace the outer boundaries of Earth’s magnetic field. Note the layer of relatively dense material beneath the tips of the white arrows; that is solar wind entering Earth’s magnetic field through the breach. Credit: Jimmy Raeder/UNH. [larger image]

The size of the breach took researchers by surprise. “We’ve seen things like this before,” says Raeder, “but never on such a large scale. The entire day-side of the magnetosphere was open to the solar wind.”

The circumstances were even more surprising. Space physicists have long believed that holes in Earth’s magnetosphere open only in response to solar magnetic fields that point south. The great breach of June 2007, however, opened in response to a solar magnetic field that pointed north.

“To the lay person, this may sound like a quibble, but to a space physicist, it is almost seismic,” says Sibeck. “When I tell my colleagues, most react with skepticism, as if I’m trying to convince them that the sun rises in the west.”

Here is why they can’t believe their ears: The solar wind presses against Earth’s magnetosphere almost directly above the equator where our planet’s magnetic field points north. Suppose a bundle of solar magnetism comes along, and it points north, too. The two fields should reinforce one another, strengthening Earth’s magnetic defenses and slamming the door shut on the solar wind. In the language of space physics, a north-pointing solar magnetic field is called a “northern IMF” and it is synonymous with shields up! “So, you can imagine our surprise when a northern IMF came along and shields went down instead,” says Sibeck. “This completely overturns our understanding of things.”

Northern IMF events don’t actually trigger geomagnetic storms, notes Raeder, but they do set the stage for storms by loading the magnetosphere with plasma. A loaded magnetosphere is primed for auroras, power outages, and other disturbances that can result when, say, a CME (coronal mass ejection) hits.

The years ahead could be especially lively. Raeder explains: “We’re entering Solar Cycle 24. For reasons not fully understood, CMEs in even-numbered solar cycles (like 24) tend to hit Earth with a leading edge that is magnetized north. Such a CME should open a breach and load the magnetosphere with plasma just before the storm gets underway. It’s the perfect sequence for a really big event.”

Sibeck agrees. “This could result in stronger geomagnetic storms than we have seen in many years.”

A video version of this story may be found here. For more information about the THEMIS mission, visit http://nasa.gov/themis

Written by Aaron Nee

December 18, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Posted in science

Tagged with , , ,

Jesus and Buddha

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Jesus and Buddha together.  Wow.  That is a religion I could join.

 

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/12/14/when_jesus_met_buddha/?p1=

makes me want to buy the book.

Written by alisap

December 16, 2008 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

From the archives – A 2007 interview with Ray McGovern

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The other day I came across the embedded video bellow of Ray McGovern.  The interview is a about two years old, but the topics spoken on remain of interest.

McGovern served in the CIA for 27 years.  After becoming extremely disillusioned by the Bush administration’s push for torture as an approved interrogation method, McGovern returned his Intelligence Commendation Award to Congressman Pete Hoekstra, in protest of the policy.  In response to what he saw as a shameful distortion of evidence for the purpose of advancing policy, McGovern co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

The interview bellow touches all several points that are interesting to hear from McGovern’s perspective as an intelligence insider.  The subjects touched on include Vietnam, Iraq, torture and the politics of the CIA.

Written by Aaron Nee

December 16, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Foreign Policy

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Shoe Attack was more insulting than you might think

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Apparently a shoe being thrown, or exposed in general, is a huge insult per muslim tradition. Yeah, he didn’t get hit by the man’s Air Jordans, but he did get hit with an age old insult. BBC explains:

By Martin Asser
BBC News

Around the Arab world, if you want to escalate a situation, by saying for example “I’m going to thump you”, add the words “with a shoe” and you’re adding serious insult to the threat of possible injury.
It’s that cultural significance that has added real sting to the assault by an Iraqi journalist against US President George W Bush at a Baghdad news conference.
In Arab culture it’s considered rude even to display the sole of one’s shoe to a fellow human being.
Certainly, crossing one’s legs ankle-on-knee style should never be done in a public place for fear of offending the person next to you.
The sensitivity is related to the fact shoes are considered ritually unclean in the Muslim faith.
In addition to ritual ablutions before prayer, Muslims must take off their shoes to pray, and wearing shoes inside a mosque is forbidden.
Shoes should either be left at the door of the mosque, or carried (preferably in the left hand with the soles pressed together).
But beyond the Islamic significance, the dirty and degrading implication of the sole of a shoe crosses all religious boundaries in the Middle East.
Following in the footsteps
There has been plenty of droll reaction in the wake of Sunday’s shoe attack to experts who have informed the public that “throwing a shoe at someone’s face is considered an insult in Islam”.

History will record Mr Bush’s last trip to Iraq, a country his government has left such an indelible mark upon, was greeted with a volley of shoes and a cry of ‘dog’
The blog reaction (to articles not unlike the one you are reading) has been a sarcastic, “and in all other religions… it is a sign of affection, friendship, fellowship, and good feeling(!)” to quote chookie on democraticunderground.com.
But it is worth mentioning that there is quite a rich history when it comes to shoe-ing incidents involving Iraq and the Bushes.
The first was the floor mosaic at the front door to Baghdad’s Rashid Hotel depicting the first President Bush.
Its location meant visitors to the hotel – frequented by top Baath regime officials and visiting VIPs – had to step on George Bush Snr’s likeness, in revenge for alleged “war crimes” committed during the 1991 liberation of Kuwait.
The mosaic was reportedly dug up after the US military took over the hotel, following their overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
In that year the Iraqi shoe was much in evidence during popular protests against the fallen Iraqi ruler, being used to hit the posters and statues dedicated to him around the country.
Boot on the other foot
As anger over Washington’s policies in the Middle East has grown in some Arab circles, it has been posters of George W Bush that have received the shoe treatment.

Bush’s image has been associated with shoes across the Arab world
His national security advisor and subsequent secretary of state has been given the particularly insulting first name Kundara – meaning shoe – instead of Condoleezza Rice.
Now history will record that Mr Bush’s last presidential trip to Iraq, a country his government has left such an indelible mark upon, was greeted with a volley of shoes and cries of “dog” (another extreme insult in Arabic) from Iraqi cameraman Muntadar al-Zaidi.
Fortunately for Mr Bush, who leaves office in just over a month, he was able to duck out of the way of the two shoes Mr Zaidi threw at him – presumably the only weapon the assailant was able to smuggle through the tight security cordon at Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s office.
Many of Mr Bush’s supporters will see it as a mean-spirited gesture against a man whose policies liberated the country from a vicious dictator.
To illustrate the point, in a previous age, the perpetrator would be facing a summary, and probably agonising, death if he had dared confront Saddam Hussein’s regime in such a way. Instead Mr Bush has been praised for his dignified response.
But others have hailed Mr Zaidi as a hero, for striking a symbolic blow against someone they hold responsible for devastating wars in the Muslim world that have cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Written by jasonofagun

December 15, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized