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Current Topic: Current Events

Marijuana fighters fox Canadians
Topic: Current Events 7:35 pm EDT, May  9, 2008

Thickets three metres (10ft) high readily absorb heat, making them hard to penetrate with thermal devices, said Gen Rick Hillier in a speech in Ottawa.

Only the BBC could carry a news article about the problems wild marijuana are causing in the war against whoever-looks-hostile in such a deadpan way.

Marijuana fighters fox Canadians

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Topic: Current Events 7:52 am EDT, Oct 14, 2007

Ashley Gilbertson photographs the war in Iraq for the New York Times. He talks about the invasion of Iraq, the battle for Falluja, the Marines he worked with, post-traumatic stress disorder, Iraqi civilians, and the future of photojournalism. His work is available in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: A Photographer's Chronicle of the Iraq War published by the University of Chicago Press.

Praise for the book:

“This is the kind of reporting we so desperately need: free of false bravura, free of agenda, free of inflated urgency. Gilbertson … shows us personally and incontrovertibly what it has been like for him coming of age in Iraq during the last five years.

“For this reason, the book belongs less with other histories of the war than on the same shelf with Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. This is not trumped-up news coming live from Iraq but the straight story with harrowing snapshots of the American soul. When future generations look back and wonder where we went wrong, where we failed ourselves and them, it will not be hours of television and radio broadcasts that they pore over. It will be a select few texts, and Gilbertson’s book deserves to be one of them.”

I have this book... it's astonishing.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Leak Severed a Link to Al-Qaeda's Secrets
Topic: Current Events 7:51 am EDT, Oct 14, 2007

In a nutshell: last month, SITE used its access to Obelisk to obtain a "screener" of the latest Osama bin Laden video. They got excited, and, perhaps seeing an opportunity to boast, handed it off to top officials, who (according to Katz) promptly fumbled it into the national news media. Katz feels double-crossed and plays at revenge by naming names to the aforementioned national news media. (Mike also cites the coverage at the Sun.)

She claims that "a years-long surveillance operation" was compromised by the officials' early release of the video. If true, this reflects rather poorly on SITE's tradecraft.

If, at the time of the leak, Katz was embargoing this video from her regular subscribers, then why did she rely on SITE's basic Internet distribution mechanism? This sort of thing ought to be on a separate limited-access network. For that matter, she could have hand-couriered it over to Leiter at NTC. And why does the file remain online after Fielding, Bagnal, and Leiter had pulled their copies? They could have been given separate one-time-use URLs, each pointing to a separate watermarked copy of the video.

Venzke, her competitor at IntelCenter, is taking cheap shots at her expense, but he has a point: "It is not just about getting the video first. It is about having the proper methods and procedures in place ..."

It's possible this is a ruse. From the Bury the Lead Dept:

Al-Qaeda supporters, now alerted to the intrusion into their secret network, put up new obstacles that prevented SITE from gaining the kind of access it had obtained in the past, according to Katz.

"Oh, damn. Now I'm locked out."

It's also possible this is a deliberate disruption, akin to JIEDDO forcing bombers "back on the wire."

In either case, the infighting over the "leak" makes for good cover.

Note to early birds: the Shachtman story has been updated. See additional analysis at Captain's Quarters. Pundita was talking about Obelisk on Monday.

Leak Severed a Link to Al-Qaeda's Secrets

Another argument for camera-phones in schools
Topic: Current Events 10:09 am EDT, Sep 29, 2007

Here's a nice news program covering a student who had her wrist broken by a school security guard who apparently didn't like the way she reacted to him ordering her to clean up a piece of cake.

I'm at a bit of a loss as to why a security guard was handing out orders like that, perhaps he wasn't well-instructed on what he was supposed to be doing other than just making sure the children learn thoroughly to never question any authority figure, but that's another matter... The video explains itself.

Another argument for camera-phones in schools

9/11: In Memoriam
Topic: Current Events 7:10 am EDT, Sep 11, 2007

Six years ago today, some clueless desert dwellers hijacked some planes and smashed them into the World Trade Center, resulting in the unfortunate deaths of almost 3,000 people.

Since then, this event has been shamelessly capitalized upon by politicians and media alike to aggrandize themselves and their own personal agendas, spreading far more fear and uncertainty than any isolated bunch of sand-eating blow-hards would have ever been able to accomplish on their own.

Today, on this day of days, let's take a few seconds to remember the loss of lives with a moment of silence, and then move on with even more silence.

Let this day be the day we simply stopped giving a damn about what some ineffectual backwaters living in caves think, and get back to living our lives like real human beings who believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Help for the Mapless, or Maps for the Helpless, or umm... something...
Topic: Current Events 12:05 pm EDT, Aug 29, 2007

Thanks to the diligent campaigning, or at least semi-incoherent ramblings of the South Carolina Miss Teen USA Contestant, a new website has been launched to provide maps for US Americans that don't have them, and possibly to help South Africa as well.

Help for the Mapless, or Maps for the Helpless, or umm... something...

Rep. Baird Gets Blasted for Iraq war views
Topic: Current Events 11:57 am EDT, Aug 29, 2007

Congressman Brian Baird (D-3 Vancouver, Washington) hosted a town hall tonight at Fort Vancouver High School. It was Baird’s first appearance in front of his constituents since reversing his position on the war. ALTHOUGH he’s been an adamant critic of the war—he voted against the war and the surge—he announced last week that he thinks the surge is working and he wants to give it time.

He spoke in a high school auditorium that was packed with at least 500 people who were overwhelmingly vocal in their opposition to Baird’s new stance. There were also protesters outside calling for Baird to resign.

I also talked to several people as they left the auditorium and asked them if they found Baird—who was there to explain his new position—to be persuasive. To a person, everyone shook their head “no way,” including Doris Holmes, active member of the 18th district Democrats, who said, “He lied. He’s toeing the Bush party line. I can’t believe he’s a Democrat.”

You can follow links through to Baird's editorial if you wish. The bottom line is that this sort of thinking simply isn't allowed in the Democratic party. "I have committed even before setting pen to paper the essential crime that contains all others unto itself."

Rep. Baird Gets Blasted for Iraq war views

More Muslims Whine Like Bitches
Topic: Current Events 6:14 pm EDT, Aug 26, 2007

A demonstration was held in south-east Afghanistan to protest the gifting Afghani of children with soccer balls decorated with world flags, including the flag of Saudi Arabia.

Apparently the flag of Saudi Arabia includes the name of Allah somewhere on it, which they find offensive when applied to a soccer ball. Approximately 100 people in Khost were apparently offended enough to take to the streets in protest of what most of the rest of the world would simply consider to be a stupid mistake. Throwing a tantrum over a gift given in good faith is not making an effort to get along with one's fellow man.

Fucking grow up, people. If you're going to be this sensitive about the very name of your god, then be choosier about where you write it, which means don't even put it on flags that will stand around exposed to the elements.

Even the Christians know better than to do things like this... A brief reminder about their tenet... "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain." ...for those whose grasp of English thinks this means simply "don't say goddamnit" it is actually an admonition not to use it like a brand identifier or product endorsement, because that would be vanity at work--presuming to know the mind of the Christian god.

More Muslims Whine Like Bitches

School Districts Cancel Outdoor Activities Due To Excess Heat
Topic: Current Events 7:39 pm EDT, Aug  8, 2007

Wow. I don't know whether to be thankful or whether to think kids these days are pansies. I'm pretty sure the heat index at band camp (when I went to high school) was rather regularly at or above 110F.

School Districts Cancel Outdoor Activities Due To Excess Heat

It's easy for soldiers to score heroin in Afghanistan | Salon News
Topic: Current Events 7:22 pm EDT, Aug  8, 2007

Walking through the bazaar it takes less than 10 minutes for a vendor in his early 20s to step out and ask, "You want whiskey?" "No, heroin," I tell him. He ushers me into his store with a smile.

And this is winning???

It's easy for soldiers to score heroin in Afghanistan | Salon News

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