Posted by: quiscus | March 25, 2012

March 25, 2012

1. There’s a surprise:

“Leader of Mali military coup trained in U.S.

The leader of a military coup in the West African country of Mali received military training in the United States on “several” occasions, a U.S. defense official said Friday.

Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, who led a renegade military faction that on Thursday deposed Mali’s democratically elected president, visited the United States several times to receive professional military education, including basic officer training, said Patrick Barnes, a U.S. Africa Command official based in Washington.”

2. “Idiotic Idea of the Day: Jailing Lurkers of Terror Websites

“Anyone who regularly consults internet sites which promote terror or hatred or violence will be sentenced to prison,” Sarkozy argued to a political rally in France on Thursday. “What is possible for pedophiles should be possible for trainee terrorists and their supporters, too.”

But terror porn doesn’t work like kiddie porn. For one thing, visitors to jihadist websites like the al-Shmukh forum aren’t just terrorist wannabees. They’re also lurking terrorism researchers or, um, journalists like us. And there’s law enforcement and intelligence officers monitoring them to discern the next moves of potentially dangerous people.

Let’s say Sarkozy carves out an exception for security officials. Immediately, the public would lose access to any academic or journalistic descriptions of just what online jihadi life is like. Law enforcement, like the rest of us, uses media reports to supplement their own analysis in order to make sure a big trend isn’t going unnoticed. Bye bye, SITE Institute. Nice knowing you, Jihadica. Meanwhile, the jihadis would just route around, probably bouncing to newer forums or adding deeper layers of encryption. ”

3. “Secret Nuclear Drone Plan Nixed by ‘Political Realities’

Drones crash. Compared to conventional airplanes, they crash a lot. Rough weather, communications errors, software glitches—sometimes we don’t even know what brings down a drone. But they go down, and because there’s no human inside, it’s never considered much of a loss. They’re (relatively) cheap! They’re (relatively) disposable! But with nuclear fuel inside, they’d be categorically dangerous. Even across bombed out Afghanistan, a Predator crash with nuclear consequences would be a diplomatic crisis. Suddenly, you don’t just have debris—you have a contamination zone. That wouldn’t go over well in downtown Islamabad.

And then there’s the inexorable reality of drones flying above the U.S. — above our homes. Although the propulsion tech Sandia seemed so keen on was ostensibly meant for military craft, the Homeland Security fantasy of “ultra-persistent” can’t be ignored. Domestic spies would drool and throb over this ever-watching eye as much as the Air Force or CIA.”

4. “MUNICIPAL DEMOCRATIZATION: A Corporate Versus a People’s City Budget

The attendees spent the first hour of the two-hour event being talked to. What we were told was as much ideology as fact. For example, city officials based their budget on the following premise: Because the recession has caused a major drop in tax returns, large cuts in services and jobs had to be made. There was no alternative. Zero mention was made of raising taxes on those who could afford it — the wealthy and corporations. There was also zero mention of using the city’s large financial reserves to save jobs and prevent cuts. Shockingly, there was no mention of the layoffs the city was planning, or the immense need to create new jobs in a city that has a much higher unemployment rate than the nation’s average. With a “cuts only” budget, creating jobs cannot be a topic of conversation.

After the “cuts only” solution was presented, much of the event was dedicated to discovering the community’s “priorities,” presumably with the intention of having the least prioritized services being cut, since cuts were mandatory. This inevitably pitted the different attendees against each other, with large sections of the crowd cheering for parks and recreation or transportation instead, in the hopes that their services or jobs wouldn’t be cut. If one accepts the city’s premise of a “cuts only” budget, this must be the sad outcome.

Why did the city limit its options so? Unfortunately, Portland is simply following a national trend on a city, state, and federal level where Democrats and Republicans have agreed that taxing the wealthy and corporations must not be an option in addressing the social crisis that resulted from the Great Recession, regardless of the vast inequality of wealth that has erupted over the last 30 years. Presumably governmental officials have chosen this route because their political parties depend on the wealthy for campaign contributions to ensure winning elections and staying in power. ”


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