October 30, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 10/30/2007

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
Immunity Jeopardizes Iraq Probe - Potential prosecution of Blackwater guards allegedly involved in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians last month may have been compromised because the guards received immunity for statements they made to State Department officials investigating the incident, federal law enforcement officials... (READ MORE)

Iraqi Dam Seen In Danger of Deadly Collapse - AT THE MOSUL DAM, Iraq -- The largest dam in Iraq is in serious danger of an imminent collapse that could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing thousands of people and flooding two of the largest cities in the country, according to new assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers... (READ MORE)

Fake FEMA Briefing Costs Official New Assignment - The Federal Emergency Management Agency's director of external communications was denied a post as senior spokesman for Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell yesterday, becoming the highest-ranking casualty of a fake news conference staged by FEMA last week to publicize its response... (READ MORE)

Cuba's Waning System of Block-Watchers - CAMAGUEY, Cuba -- Children swarmed the table outside Blanca Peleaz's concrete home in this central Cuban city. There were cakes and cookies, gooey frosting and candy speckles, rare abundance in a place where food shortages are the norm. (READ MORE)

Protests Welcome Back Assembly - Hundreds of anti-tax demonstrators greeted lawmakers on their return yesterday for a special General Assembly session to consider Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to increase taxes and legalize slot machines to cut the state's $1.7 billion budget shortfall. (READ MORE)

U.S. Officials Visit Cole Bomber - U.S. Embassy officials in Yemen visited a Yemeni man convicted in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in his prison cell yesterday, three days after he was seen greeting relatives in his house. (READ MORE)

U.N. Envoy to Probe Deadly Force by U.S. - The U.N. specialist on illegal executions plans to probe the use of deadly force by U.S. troops and military contractors in Iraq when he visits the United States next spring. (READ MORE)

N. Korean Reveals Childhood Torture - In a testimony to stunned journalists yesterday, Mr. Shin, the first North Korean defector to the South who was born in the North's notorious gulag, revealed a nightmarish world in which inmates and their children suffer lifetime incarceration, are kept ignorant of outside society and undergo forms of torture that are medieval in their barbarism. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Rebuilding Stalled Despite Recent Calm - Despite declining violence in Iraq, the shaky state of security is still impeding the nation's $100 billion recovery and rebuilding effort, a new report said today. (READ MORE)

Hillary Backed Lab of Donor - Lawmakers, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, have taken thousands in campaign cash from an embattled Nobel-prize winning scientist while earmarking federal money for his New York lab. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
Yellowhammering Afghanistan: BOOM! - Being an artillery guy, I'm kind of partial to explosions. We don't get to see many of them in the nation-building missions we're doing today. So when one of our district teams made arrangements to destroy some mortar and rocket rounds taken from the Taliban and the Afghan National Police, I exercised my rank and made sure I was along for the ride. 1LT Plowden Dickson and his team was assessing an Afghan National Police observation post when he discovered many of the mortar and RPG rounds the police were using were rusted, damaged and generally unsafe. He convinced the police chief to destroy them for the protection of his men. (READ MORE)

This War and Me: What DO I send - If you have been following along with me the past week, you have noticed I mentioned some things NOT to send. It started out as mindless, humorous ranting but it is honestly about things we are in abundance of. So, I have received several comments and emails asking what we DO need. I received a comment from Debi M, with Soldiers' Angels and wanted to pretty much plagiarize her list of things we do need/want. I also wanted to say that it is not that we don't ever need the items on my list. I was targeting the individuals that want to send things too. We do receive candy, sun block, chap stick, soaps and razors, etc. We have a few large groups, like Soldiers' Angels that sends many boxes. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: The Perfect Evil: Coming to Roost - Iraq is looking better month by month. But at the current rate, surely we shall fail in Afghanistan: A great deal of flak came in for my 2006 reporting from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, that on-the-ground reporting is proving correct nearly to the letter. The following three-part report summarizing my observations and experiences in Afghanistan more than a year ago, warned of the growing threat of a narco-fueled Taliban increasingly able to challenge a national government overgrown with incompetency and choked with corruption. (READ MORE)

Northern Disclosure: Me, I'm just PROUD! - Home truly is where the heart is and mine is right here with our family. I am home on my R & R and it is wonderful! My wife truly is Wonder Woman, since I have been playing guns with my friends in the desert she has moved houses, reared a 4 year old monkey boy all while being pregnant. I was pretty sure that she was amazing before but now I am truly convinced. (READ MORE)

On Point: Ramadi: Building on Success - This month last year I was embedded in Ramadi with 1st Battalion 6th Marines as they kicked in doors, fought insurgents, and began to clear the city block by block. It cost the lives of a lot of good Marines, most under age 25, but their efforts and sacrifice convinced a few local citizens that the Marines understood the difference between “Iraqi’s” and “Al-Quada” – and so the charismatic Sheik Sattar Abu Risha formed the Sons of Anbar, and began co-operating with LtCol William Jurney’s young Marines. What a difference a year makes. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Bret Stephens: Amazonian Swindle - Ecuador has a huge environmental problem courtesy of Big Oil. Since 1990, there have been at least 800 recorded oil spills in the country, including 117 in the first nine months of 2006 alone. Their cumulative volume easily exceeds three million gallons. Scores of spills have never been cleaned up, posing severe health risks for the local population. Rainfall in the area is said to smell like car exhaust. mall wonder, then, that when actress Daryl Hannah ventured into the Ecuadorean Amazon in June to have herself photographed dipping her hand into a lake of black sludge, she characterized the situation as "potentially the biggest environmental case ever." Only one problem: The supposed villain in the plot, Texaco--now merged with Chevron--ceased operations in Ecuador in 1990. (READ MORE)

Pete Du Pont: Inconvenient Tax Truths - Nobel Peace laureate Al Gore believes global warming is "an inconvenient truth." Here are some economic truths that America's liberal leadership finds too inconvenient to support. Tax rate reductions increase tax revenues. This truth has been proved at both state and federal levels, including by President Bush's 2003 tax cuts on income, capital gains and dividends. Those reductions have raised federal tax receipts by $785 billion, the largest four-year revenue increase in U.S. history. In fiscal 2007, which ended last month, the government took in 6.7% more tax revenues than in 2006. (READ MORE)

Dennis Prager: The Left and the Term "Islamo-Fascism" - Last week, at universities around America, the conservative activist David Horowitz organized "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week." The week featured a guest speaker, the showing of the documentary, "Obsession," about radical Islam, and related activities. As one of those speakers -- at the University of California at Santa Barbara -- I was particularly interested in the controversy Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week engendered as well as in the larger question of whether the term "Islamo-Fascism" is valid. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: Political "Solutions" - It is remarkable how many political "solutions" today are dealing with problems created by previous political "solutions." Three examples that come to mind immediately are the housing market crisis, the wildfires in southern California, and the water shortages in the west. Congress and the Bush administration are currently vying with each other to come up with a solution to the housing crisis, brought on by widespread defaults on home mortgage loans -- especially defaults by those who took out risky "subprime" loans. (READ MORE)

Bill Murchison: Fall Of The Religious Right? - I don't see glee oozing from between every comma in David Kirkpatrick's New York Times magazine article this past weekend on the "evangelical crackup." He's a good reporter, whose coverage of conservatives I regard as generally well balanced. On the other hand, it isn't hard to visualize street dancing and fireworks displays outside Clinton headquarters. Kirkpatrick's focus is on the glug-glug sound as evangelical enthusiasm for conservatives and Republicans drains from the tub. No one can predict, for certain, the speed or volume of the drainage. (READ MORE)

Bill Steigerwald: Behind the California Wildfires with Dr. Reese - As several of Southern California's wind-whipped wildfires still burned on Thursday, we called conservation biologist and forest researcher Dr. Reese Halter to learn more about the 20 fires that had destroyed 2,000 homes, forced the evacuation of more than 500,000 people and left at least eight dead. Halter, the author of "Wild Weather: The Truth Behind Global Warming," is the founder and president of Global Forest Science (globalforestscience.org), a forest conservation and research institute that helps private landholders, governments and corporations around the world "make better ecological decisions." He was in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs. (READ MORE)

Rich Lowry: Barack Obama on Barack Obama - When it comes to self-reflection, Barack Obama is an overachiever. At age 46, he has already written two memoirs when most people in public life -- sometime at the end of their career -- will be lucky to write one. So far, what Obama seems set to get out of his presidential campaign is yet another memoir -- this one an agonized, deeply personal account of how his campaign went nowhere despite all the media hoopla, crowds and fundraising. It turns out that voters aren't as interested in Barack Obama as Barack Obama is. (READ MORE)

John Boehner: Pelosi-Rangel Really Is ‘Mother of all Tax Hikes’ - WASHINGTON - American families are feeling te crunch of spiking energy costs, runaway college tuition, ever-burdensome home mortgages and steadily rising prices for consumer goods. These and other cost-of-living increases are eating away at the family budget — making every dollar earned and saved even more valuable. The very last thing families need is to see more of their paycheck confiscated by Congress. (READ MORE)

John McCaslin: Conquering America - The Mexican government apparently has no problem with its citizens penetrating the U.S. border by the millions. In fact, it's been written that increasing the number of Mexicans working illegally in America is among Mexico's highest foreign-policy objectives. Yet now comes congressional testimony from Jess T. Ford, the Government Accountability Office's director of international affairs and trade, that "Mexican sensitivity about its national sovereignty" has made it difficult for the two countries to coordinate counternarcotics activities. (READ MORE)

Humbled Infidel: Help Spread The Good News Happening In Iraq - Our Troops Have Our Backs - Let's Have Their Backs - Since the “Surge” of troops was completed in June of this year, violence throughout Iraq has reduced dramatically. The combination of additional troops, and more importantly a new counter-insurgency strategy, are undeniably responsible for the reduction. Below you will see FACTS about the dramatic drop in violence. We have broken them down to the “Surge Focus” (June-October 2007) and to “One Year Focus.” Visit this site weekly to get the latest data. We also plan to add data about political and economic progress. (READ MORE)

Wolf Pangloss: 4GW Jihad and the role of the World Media - 4GW Jihad as it is currently practiced is characterized most often by recording photogenic megaviolence, then propagating the recordings to media channels that primarily serve the Muslim populace, for recruiting, radicalization and morale-building purposes, and secondarily the non-Muslim populace to propagandize against its own government and military. This is not ideal for the Jihadists, as they would prefer killing infidels to fooling them or demoralizing them, but it will do until they can advance to more sophisticated and impersonal methods of killing than beheading a kuffir with a dull knife. But it is good enough for their long-term plans. F. G. Hoffman described it well in his talk at the Boyd 2007 Conference. (READ MORE)

Kim Priestap: Rangel's Tax Plan a Return to Carternomics? - James Pethokoukis at US News & World Report writes that Charlie Rangel's tax plan could actually send tax rates to even higher levels than they were under Carter. He quotes Lawrence Lindsay: "Until very recently, there had been a growing bipartisan consensus, acknowledged at least implicitly, that you cannot run a high-tax [economic] regime and be competitive. The great unspoken fact is that [Rangel's 4.6 percentage-point surtax on high incomes] only looks like a restoration of [Clinton's tax rates]." (READ MORE)

Lorie Byrd: Errors of Omission - I only have a minute to comment on the following right now, so if any other Wizbang bloggers want to jump in on this one, please do. Bluto has posted the full text of the email Glenn Greenwald received from Colonel Steven A. Boylan, Public Affairs Officer for General Petraeus, with the portions that Greenwald omitted from his post characterizing the email as "bizarre" highlighted. Interesting is what Greenwald chose to include in the post, and what he chose to omit. In his original post describing the email as bizarre, Greenwald said: (READ MORE)

A Soldiers Mind: Training For Trauma - I remember well the training I went through to become a Paramedic. After 3 months of classroom work, we spent 3 months in our clinicals, working in various areas of hospitals, such as the Emergency Room, Surgery, Obstetrics, a Burn Unit, Neonatal ICU and Cardiac Care. For my Emergency Department rotation, I was fortunate to do my 2 weeks of ER clinicals in one of the busiest Level 1 Trauma Centers in the state of Kansas, where the most severely injured patients from all over the state were sent. The time we spent in the Emergency Department prepared us for what we would face, as we went into jobs working as Paramedics on various ambulance services. It was time well spent. Without that type of training, we’d have had no clue what we would be facing out in the field. The training allowed us to have hands on experience with actual patients and allowed us to practice and hone our skills that we’d been learning in the classroom. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: Does Kagan Read Big Lizards, or Does Big Lizards Anticipate Kagan? - Actually neither; Frederick W. Kagan has been making this same point for weeks now -- that we've already won the first Iraq battle against al-Qaeda, giving us encouragement as we tackle the second against the Iran-controlled Shiite militias. But he makes the argument very forcefully in an opinion piece in the current Weekly Standard. Kagan, recall, was a co-author along with Gen. Jack Keane and Maj. Daniel Dwyer of Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq, which most argue was the impetus behind President George W. Bush deciding to scrap the previous strategy we were using in Iraq and choose a counterinsurgency strategy (and a new general) instead. The link above is actually to a Power Point presentation on the strategy (masquerading as a PDF file) that I particularly like: Just set the zoom to "Fit page" and keep pressing the Page Down key to progress through the "slides." (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Response to Wildfires by Military not Hampered by Deployments - It did not take long for people to blame George Bush for the wildfires in California because of his [past] opposition to global warming and because of a general hatred of the man. People compare the response to the wildfires with the response to Katrina and there are those who believe that the wealthier Californians made out better than the poor folk in New Orleans. The fact is, all response starts at the local level and then rapidly involves state resources. The local responders put their plans into effect quickly in California and the state rapidly became involved. The National Guard responded proactively by moving planes equipped to fight fires closer to the action by placing them on training missions until they were requested and the official request could be initiated. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Trench Warfare On The Hill - The year after winning majorities in both chambers of Congress, the Democrats still have little to show for its victory. The only major partisan goal they have achieved, a minimum-wage increase, had to latch onto Iraq war funding to get the votes to pass. Republicans have grown incensed by heavy-handed tactics such as Harry Reid's publicity-stunt all-nighter on Iraq in July, and the snap vote on the latest S-CHIP bill, which actually cost them one of the Republican moderates who had supported the previous bill: “In a closed-door meeting before the last vote on the children’s health care bill, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer appealed for the support of about 30 wavering Republican lawmakers. What he got instead was a tongue-lashing, participants said.” (READ MORE)

Dymphna: The Transatlantic Mystery - I think it’s more complicated than you say. As a first generation American I sometimes feel like a participant observer in the US. But that might have been my natural inclination anyway… people who write tend to have this “observing ego” that notices without let-up. The last two World Wars damaged Europe badly. John Derbyshire had a recent column in which he looked back on the many spinsters of his childhood in Britain. “Many” because the flower of British manhood had been obliterated and left entombed in Flanders Field. It was the same for France and Germany, and Spain to some extent in the ’30s. World War II was wash, rinse, repeat, but with far more damage to the infrastructure of things ancient, things which could not be restored. In fact, some of them ceased to exist even as cultural memories. (READ MORE)

GayPatriotWest: The Clintonite Responses of Some Readers (& Others) - A couple weeks ago, while I was driving in the Northeast, The Hill newspaper reported the response of Hillary Clinton’s campaign to allegations that the former First lady “listened to a secretly recorded conversation between political opponents:” “Clinton’s spokesman panned the book [Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, detailing the allegations] but declined to discuss the allegation that Clinton had reviewed secretly recorded calls. ‘We don’t comment on books that are utter and complete failures,’ said Clinton’s press secretary, Philippe Reines.” How typical of the Clintons, attack the messenger without responding to the question. It seems that some of our critics have developed a similar strategy to deal with our points, attack us (as self-hating or motivated by currying favor with other conservatives) rather than respond to our arguments. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Iraqi troops free tribal leaders kidnapped by Mahdi Army commander - Just 24 hours after the capture of 11 Sunni and Shia tribal leaders in northern Baghdad, the Iraqi Army has freed eight of the sheikhs. Meanwhile, Multinational Forces Iraq has identified the Mahdi Army commander responsible for the kidnappings and has begun to name other Mahdi Army leaders as being involved in criminal and insurgent activity. Iraqi soldiers conducted the raid in a yet-to-be-identified region near Baghdad, likely with the aid of US Special Forces and killed four of the kidnappers. "We have rescued eight of the hostages and are working to free the others. We killed four of the kidnappers," Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al Askari said. (READ MORE)

Have an interesting post or know of a "must read?" Then send a trackback here and let us all know about it. Or you can send me an email with a link to the post and I'll update the Recon.

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