Monday, May 2, 2011

Want to know more about Seal Team Six?


Did she or didn't she?

Did reclusive author Harper Lee help with new biography?

Controversy surrounds author who has not given an interview in 45 years about her work, and whether she helped Chicago Tribune writer with new biography of the "To Kill a Mockingbird" author.

What a gaggle

Having a gander: The Greylag chicks follow the proud parent geese on Cod Beck reservoir, North Yorkshire

Vindication for 'enhanced interrogation' methods

In a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe years ago, al-Qaida's No. 3 leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, gave authorities the nicknames of several of bin Laden's couriers, four former U.S. intelligence officials said. Those names were among thousands of leads the CIA was pursuing.

Defining Moment and Arranged Meeting ...From Paris

They say that all cultures are defined by their treatment of woman and children.

12 year old suicide bombers?  Woman shielding a madman, with their bodies?

Osama, crazed madman who thought nothing of killing sweet innocents, was himself "tapped" two times in the forehead (according to eyewitness accounts).
My favorite Internet explanation?  "God will judge Bin Laden, but it was up to the Navy Seals to arrange for the meeting."

Muslim Clerics Furious Over Bin Laden's Sea Burial


Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden's burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.

Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.

Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.

Rail Rage in Argentina

Train passengers in Argentina furious about delays to their journeys have set fire to three commuter trains.

The trouble started during the Monday morning rush hour as suburban office workers embarked on their daily commute to the capital city.

A derailed train caused severe delays along the busy rail link.

Stranded passengers then set fire to at least eight wagons at three railway stations along the railway line.

Empire State Building turns eighty

When you are ready to head up the city's tallest building (and the world's tallest for about half of its 80 years), move quickly through the photo booth, past the Kevin Bacon-voiced virtual "Skyride", and hop into the marble elevators up, up and away. As you soar 1,050 feet to the observatory deck on the 86th floor, consider the giant office building's unlikely history.

"How high can you make so it won't fall down?" John Jacob Raskob, Empire's builder, asked its architect, William Lamb, as the story goes. This would have been around the peak of the stock market in the late 1920s when everything must have seemed possible. But construction (on the site of what was once the fabled Waldorf-Astoria hotel) began just months after the 1929 crash. Counter-intuitively, this aided its construction. The lucky-to-be-employed workforce efficiently built it in a little more than a year (at times as rapidly as a floor a day), with steel girders still hot from Pennsylvania mills, riveted together 15 to 20 hours after they were forged.

Burial at sea now being criticized by Islamic scholars

Two thoughts on the politically correct disposal of Bin Laden's remains:
1) Should have brought him in on a bed of ice like a flounder, and then buried him in undisclosed location when all parties are convinced 100% that he is indeed dead.

2) We can't win with 'Islamic Scholars' no matter what we do.

From the A.P.:

Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden's burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.

Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.

Ayman al-Zawarhi: dead man walking.

Will probably replace Bin Laden as the leader of al-Qaida.

Al-Zawahri's extremist views and his readiness to use deadly violence are beyond doubt.

In a 2001 treatise, "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner," he set down the longterm strategy for the jihadi movement _ to inflict "as many casualties as possible" on the Americans, while trying to establish control in a nation as a base "to launch the battle to restore the holy caliphate" of Islamic rule across the Muslim world.

Unlike bin Laden who found his Jihadist calling as an adult, al-Zawahri's activism began when he was in his mid-teens, establishing his first secret cell of high school students to oppose the Egyptian government of then President Anwar Sadat he viewed as infidel for not following the rule of God.

Where the Trail to bin Laden Began

More information is coming out about how American intelligence identified and tracked down the al Qaeda courier who led to Osama bin Laden. It appears that the CIA's interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libi provided the information that began the chain the culminated in bin Laden's death yesterday:

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden's most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

KSM and Libi are two of the three al Qaeda leaders who were waterboarded.

The Left

Media 'Cringes' at Sight of 'Vulgar' Americans Celebrating Bin Laden's Death


Washington Post Writer 'Cringes' at Sight of 'Vulgar' Americans Celebrating Bin Laden's Death

For the Washington Post's Petula Dvorak the sight of American college kids celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden outside of the White House gates, on Sunday night, was "almost vulgar." In a May 2 story Dvorak described the scenes of joy as "one part Mardi Gras and two parts Bon Jovi concert" but then went on to say "It felt a little crazy, a bit much. Almost vulgar" and went on to admit "my first reaction was a cringe."

Massachusetts has the closest plan to OCare

55-Day Wait to See a Doctor in Massachusetts

...A 2010 IBD/TPP Poll found that 45% of doctors would at least consider leaving their practices or taking early retirement as a result of the new health care law. And, an online survey by, a sort of Facebook for physicians, found that 26% of physicians in solo practices were considering closing. Of course, not every doctor who told these polls that he or she would consider leaving the field will actually do so. But if even a small portion depart, our access to medical care will suffer.

Maryland gov wants to raise gas tax by 50%. How about lower spending? (No need to guess which party.)

Gas Tax Hike May Be Proposed In Special Session


COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ)—Pain at the pump. If you think gas prices are high now, there is a plan that could push them even higher.

More details and links

U.S. Forces Were Unsure Bin Laden in House Until Meeting Him Face to Face...

SKYNEWS: Can US Offer Final Proof Of Osama's Death?
DNA tests won't be complete for days...
WH: '99.9% sure...
Will there be a photo?

Magic 64%

Is 64 a "magic" percentage that turns liquid to solid?

There's a large subfield in physics devoted solely to seeing how stuff behaves when it's squashed through other stuff. Those in that field may want to adopt 64 as their magic number, because it seems to be the percentage at which the behavior of matter changes in a peculiar way.

Materials science doesn't have the same sweeping glamor of Relativity, but it covers some very important ground. The predictable movement of fuel through gas tanks, or of grain through funnels, keeps our buses running and our food coming. It also turns out that those two kinds of flow - of liquids and solids - are connected by the number sixty-four.

For some time, scientists have studied the movement of material through passageways. Whether it was sand through an hour glass or rice through food processing equipment, a smooth, continuous flow was easily sustained. That is, as long as the material didn't pack into more than sixty-four percent of a given passageway. Below sixty-four percent capacity, grainy materials flowed like a liquid. Once the tube through which the 'liquid' moved was filled to sixty-four percent, things changed. The grains locked together until they behaved like a solid. Scientists referred to these solid obstructions as 'necklaces' because they form when a string of grains suddenly lock together in a chain.

It was assumed that this sort of thing happened only with rigid, solid, granular objects in air, until recently. A researcher blew nitrogen bubbles in water through a tube. At first the bubbles moved evenly through the tube, but as they reached sixty-four percent of the space, they jammed together and also behaved like a solid, albeit a fragile one. The bubbles were moving through a different medium, had different frictional interactions, and could squish and distend far more than solid material, but both suddenly transitioned from liquid to solid - behaviorally - when they filled 64 percent of the space they were in. This indicates that that percentage might be some kind of constant for behavioral phase transition. What once was a flowing liquid can now stand firm.

The secret stealth drone that helped kill Bin Laden

All details of how the U.S. government found and killed Osama Bin Laden will likely never be known, but reports this morning indicate the squad of U.S. Navy SEALS which ran the attack had two helicopters and this drone, known as the "Beast of Kandahar."

The Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel is a fighter-sized aircraft with a 65-foot wingspan whose existence has only been official since 2009, despite being used throughout the war in Afghanistan and spotted by aviation enthusiasts. Based in Nevada and a Kandahar airfield — where its nickname as "the beast of Kandahar" derives — the RQ-170s main assignment has been reconnaissance and surveillance for ground troops.

Bill Clinton: Supreme Court Might Strike Down Obamacare

There's a chance that the Supreme Court could rule the so-called "individual mandate" in the healthcare reform law unconstitutional, but on the whole the bill will stay in tact, former President Bill Clinton said.

"Well, I think - I guess, you know, there's some chance, given how political it is, the courts, that they would strike down the mandatory purchase, although I find it amazing that they would  I mean you can make people buy automobile liability insurance," Clinton said in an interview with CNN taped Friday.

India News

Secret Airfields On The Chinese Border

May 2, 2011: It was recently revealed that India has quietly built and put into service (last year) an airfield for transports in the north (Uttarakhand) near their border with China. While the airfield can also be used to bring in urgently needed supplies for local civilians during those months when snow blocks the few roads, it is mainly there for military purposes in case China invades again. Uttarakhand is near Kashmir, and a 38,000 square kilometer chunk of land that China seized after a brief war with India in 1962. This airfield, and several similar projects along the Chinese border are all about growing fears of continued Chinese claims on Indian territory.

India is alarmed at increasing strident Chinese insistence that is owns northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. This has led to an increased movement of Indians military forces to that remote area.

India has discovered that a buildup in these remote areas is easier said than done. Moreover, the Indians have discovered that they are far behind Chinese efforts. When they took a closer look, Indian staff officers found that China had improved its road network along most of their 4,000 kilometer common border. Indian military planners calculated that, as a result of this network, Chinese military units can move 400 kilometers a day on hard surfaced roads, while Indian units can only move half as fast, while suffering more vehicle damage because of the many unpaved roads.


Bush Reax


Former President George W. Bush says he's congratulated Obama.

U.S. "has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done. "

42: "A Profoundly Important Moment"


Bill Clinton congratulates Obama, national security team for bringing bin Laden "to justice."

Cheney on Board


Former Veep congratulates Obama, says, "If you attack the United States, we will find you and bring you to justice."

Rumsfeld Credits Gitmo


Former SecDef tells “Today,” OBL intel could “have been partly a result of the interviews that took place at Guantanamo."

The doctor is not in

Roughly 40% of doctors are age 55 or over. Are they really going to want to stick it out for a few more years if all they have to look forward to is more red tape (both government and insurance company) for less money? Those that remain are increasingly likely to join “concierge practices,” limiting the number of patients they see and refusing both government and private insurance.

And, at the same time, fewer young people are likely to decide that medicine is a good career. Remember, the average medical school graduate begins their career with more than $295,000 in debt.

Headlines from London

Shot in the head and dumped at sea: 9/11 mastermind killed by U.S. forces at Pakistan hideout - sparking wild celebrations in America

bin laden

The 54-year-old Al Qaeda leader had been hiding in this $1m mansion within a sprawling compound in Abbottabad just a few hundred yards from a military training base dubbed 'Pakistan's Sandhurst'. In a dramatic climax to a decade long hunt to avenge the 9/11 atrocities, the terror chief refused an offer to surrender, forcing U.S troops to open fire at the unrepentant killer. As his body was today buried at sea and families of 9/11 victims celebrated, the first haunting images from inside the 'headquarters of terrorism' emerged.

Bin Laden map

Live-blogging Bin Laden’s Demise


Sohaib Athar, a Pakistani IT consultant, unknowingly live-blogged the whole thing:

“Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).”

“Go away helicopter – before I take out my giant swatter :-/”

“A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S”

“@m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too… the helicopter is gone too.”

“@m0hcin seems like my giant swatter worked !”

“@raihak Funny, moving to Abbottabad was part of the ‘being safe’ strategy”

“Since taliban (probably) don’t have helicpoters, and since they’re saying it was not “ours”, so must be a complicated situation#abbottabad

This is about the only thing that can be criticized

Osama bin gone: Islamically correct

The AP story on the operation leading to bin Laden's death reports that bin Laden's remains were disposed at sea and states: "The U.S. official who disclosed the burial at sea said it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. Obama said the remains had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial." Is this some kind of a joke? The treatment of bin Laden's remains is not mentioned in Obama's formal remarks.

Turning to the press briefing by senior administration officials speaking on background, we find this comment on the treatment of bin Laden's remains: "SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are ensuring that it is handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition. This is something that we take very seriously. And so therefore this is being handled in an appropriate manner."


America in decline, or transcendent? We make the choice.

Victor Davis Hanson:

"We may well decline, and pass on a weaker, more divided, more insolvent and at-risk America to our children. But that is again, entirely a choice, not a fate. It is a decision that many prosperous, but tired and squabbling societies — 4th-century Athens, 5th-century A.D. Rome, 1950s Britain, 1970s America — chose willingly when they redistributed rather than created wealth, embraced envy rather than emulation as their collective creed, whined about not being liked rather than unapologetically assumed unpopularity is always the price of leadership and jealousy its constant twin, and talked of rationing, lectured on what they could not, rather than could, do, and made bickering between the generations, the sexes, the races, the classes, and tribes a national sport, rather than collectively and confidently looked forward to expanding, creating, and uniting in national purpose."

Why America is set to take off for the next 100 years

President Obama, listen carefully. By every benchmark, this should be an American century. Our known fossil fuel reserves are soaring, as new finds of coal, natural gas, oil, tar sands, and oil shale keep growing, not shrinking. Demographically, we are expanding; Europe, Japan, and China are shrinking.

We do not have the strikes of Europe, the violence of the Middle East, the state oppression of China. India has religious, social, and caste tensions unknown in the U.S. American farmland is the most productive in the world, its farmers the most gifted and innovative. We inherited a vast, developed infrastructure; out duty is to improve and expand it, not, as our ancestors, start from scratch building a Hoover Damn, intercontinental railroad, or port facilities in Oakland.

Like Britain just after World War II, we have a leadership class that fundamentally doesn’t like the country it leads as it is, and wants to change it into something . . . less.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Okay, Let’s Decline.

DNA is for westerners. Muslims need to see the body.

BIN LADEN BURIED AT SEA? On Facebook, Michael Yon writes: “Major mistake. OBL was/is a powerful cult figure who has vanished with no ‘death certificate.’ His body should have been displayed. The only thing more powerful than a living cult leader is one who disappears off the face of the earth. Making his body disappear was a deadly blunder that plays straight into the hero myth. Joseph Campbell couldn’t have written a more terrible ending.”

Background on the raid.

“The location of Bin Laden’s hide-out and the use of a U.S. raiding team on settled Pakistani territory raises a number of questions. First, has Pakistan been hiding Osama Bin Laden all along? Second, did the U.S. independently discover the location of Bin Laden? Third, was the information shared by some elements of Pakistani intelligence, assuming that his location was known to them, in exchange from some quid pro quo which has not yet been revealed? Or was the discovery of Bin Laden simultaneous, the result of the mutual and cooperative investigation of the ISI and U.S. intelligence? . . . The chances that Pakistan was wholly innocent were somewhat thrown into doubt by the possible location of the safe house. . . . According to Bob Hennelly, quoting White House officials, the hideout was custom built for the most famous fugitive on earth in an area favored by retired Pakistani military officers.”

Plus this: “Ironically the circumstances surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden tends to confirm the theory that terrorism, rather than being a spontaneous meme that floats above the planet, is in fact deeply rooted in the intelligence agencies and regimes of certain states.”

UPDATE: How’d we find him? Info from detainees. Sweet Guantanamo irony.

Praise for Obama

READER MICHAEL COSTELLO WRITES THAT OBAMA HAS NOW DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF FROM CARTER: “Carter would have screwed it up.” Yeah, yesterday I wrote that Obama could only wish for such success. Today he’s got it. Good for him. And, more to the point, for America.

And reader Steve Bogdan emails: “For the first time in my adult life, I’m proud of President Obama.”

UPDATE: More praise for Obama.

More on a job well done

Bush: Killing Bin Laden
'A Victory for America'

Former president commends his successor and the military on 'this momentous achievement'

  • America celebrates


  • L.A. Times: Bin Laden Killing a Huge Political Boost for Obama


  • U.S. Gives bin Laden's Body an Islamic Burial


  • 'Mass Murderer' Brought to Justice: Transcript Of Obama's Announcement of UBL's Killing

  • Back to what Gov’t does well. Great video report by ABC at the link.

    Inside the Operation That Killed Bin Laden

    By Brian Ross, Matthew Cole and Avni Patel
    ABC News Exclusive

    It began with a tip to the CIA eight months ago about a possible Bin Laden hiding place, and led Sunday to the bold military operation that will go down in U.S. history.

    Osama Bin Laden wasn't hiding in a cave, but in a Pakistani city of 90,000 called Abbottabad, just north of the Pakistani capital.

    Now back to things the Gov’t does not do well

    Public transit employee: $458K salary plus $1.2m home-loan concession

    If you had to guess, you’d guess this was in the San Francisco Bay area – and you’d be right. The official in question heads the San Mateo County Transit District, which runs trains and buses, and, like all public transit systems, is always in the red.  This means that when state and federal money bail local transit out every year, it’s tax dollars from across America that make executive compensation like this possible.

    Inside the Raid That Killed Bin Laden

     WASHINGTON –  Helicopters descended out of darkness on the most important counterterrorism mission in U.S. history. It was an operation so secret, only a select few U.S. officials knew what was about to happen.

    The location was a fortified compound in an affluent Pakistani town two hours outside Islamabad. The target was Usama bin Laden.

    Intelligence officials discovered the compound in August while monitoring an Al Qaeda courier. The CIA had been hunting that courier for years, ever since detainees told interrogators that the courier was so trusted by bin Laden that he might very well be living with the Al Qaeda leader.

    Continue at:

    Well Done, part III


    Hours after President Obama announced that Usama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan, the Al Qaeda leader's body is buried at sea, prompting Americans to celebrate the good news a block from Ground Zero.

    Well Done, part II


    Bin Laden Dead and Buried at Sea, Navy SEALs Heroes, America Celebrates

    Well Done!

    Mission was to kill, not capture...
    Crowds gather at White House, Ground Zero to celebrate...
    Obama: U.S. Carried Out Operation 'At My Direction'...
    W: 'No Matter How Long It Takes, Justice Will Be Done'...
    Killing brings anger, relief in Arab world...
    Heat on Pakistan...
    Hamas condemns killing of 'holy warrior'...


    Bin Laden was located in March

    Sources tell ABC News that in March President Obama authorized the development of a plan for the U.S. to bomb Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound with two B2 stealth bombers dropping a few dozen 2,000-pound JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) on the compound.

    But when the president heard the compound would be reduced to rubble he chose not to pursue that option.

    That would mean there would be no evidence bin Laden was dead to present to the world – no DNA evidence, as the administration anticipates it will have.

    Plus all 22 people in the compound including women and children, plus likely many neighbors would be killed.

    The president wanted proof. And he wanted to minimize collateral damage.

    Pakistan has some questions to answer

    Contrary to speculation that Osama bin Laden was in a remote tribal area, he was instead found in an affluent suburb of Islamabad.

    The trail that led the CIA to Osama bin Laden began with his most trusted courier. It had taken the CIA years to discover first his name and then the home where he was hiding the al-Qaida leader. But it took only 40 minutes on Sunday for US special forces to kill both the courier and Bin Laden.

    Contrary to repeated speculation over the past decade that Bin Laden was living in one of the remote tribal areas of Pakistan or even across the border in Afghanistan, the al-Qaida leader was found in an affluent suburb of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

    Senior US administration officials, briefing journalists in a late-night teleconference, said that after 9/11 the CIA chased various leads about Bin Laden's inner circle, in particular his couriers. One of these couriers came in for special attention, mentioned by detainees at Guantánamo Bay by his nom de guerre. He was said to be a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, and one of the few couriers Bin Laden trusted.