"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

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Top 10 reasons to blame Democrats for soaring gasoline prices

From the American Thinker.

This started out as an attempt to create a light and humorous, Letterman-esque Top 10 list. But the items on the list, and the drain Americans are seeing in their pocketbooks because of Democrats' actions (sometimes inaction) are just too tragic for that.

This article is an interesting read with plenty of citations. Note several items in the list are restrictions from tapping into sources of energy.

10. ANWR Restrictions

9. Coastal Drilling Restrictions

8. Insistence on Alternative Fuels

7. Nuclear Power Restrictions

6. Coal Restrictions

5. New Refinery Restrictions

4. Reduced Competition

3. Global Warming Myth

2. Speculation

1. Defeat of Bush's 2001 Energy Package

For a full read, click here.


Report: Exams prove abuse, torture in Iraq, Gitmo

From Yahoo via AP.

Not wanting to downplay this article nor the use of torturous methods, but I find the wording of the article interesting. First the title.

Report: Exams prove abuse, torture in Iraq, Gitmo

Exams prove abuse, torture. Is it abuse, torture, or both? Clearly being locked up in a jail is abusive when compared to being free. But abuse if a far cry from torture. So, what does the article say about abuse and/or torture.

Medical examinations of former terrorism suspects held by the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, found evidence of torture and other abuse that resulted in serious injuries and mental disorders, according to a human rights group....

Seven were held in Abu Ghraib between late 2003 and summer of 2004, a period that coincides with the known abuse of prisoners at the hands of some of their American jailers. Four of the prisoners were held at Guantanamo beginning in 2002 for one to almost five years....

Because the medical examiners did not have access to the 11 patients' medical histories prior to their imprisonment, it was not possible to know whether any of the prisoners' ailments, disabilities and scars pre-dated their confinement. The U.S. military says an al-Qaida training manual instructs members, if captured, to assert they were tortured during interrogation.

Looking at three different parts of the article and putting them together we get seven were held at Abu Ghraib during a period of known abuse (again, not torture). The facts surrounding Abu Ghraib have already been reported. So is this article just a rehash of Abu Ghraib abuses that already resulted in disciplinary actions? The article also goes on to state the medical conditions of detainees was unknown beforehand. In addition, are the detainees using their training as the article discusses and then disregards. Now, let's look at what is considered torture.

_Stress positions, including being suspended for hours by the arms or tightly shackled for days.

_Prolonged isolation and hooding or blindfolding, a form of sensory deprivation.

_Extreme heat or cold.

_Threats against themselves, their families or friends from interrogators or guards.

Ten said they were forced to be naked, some for days or weeks. Nine said they were subjected to prolonged sleep deprivation. At least six said they were threatened with military working dogs, often while naked. Four reported being sodomized, subjected to anal probing, or threatened with rape.

Stress positions - Economy seats on airlines are stress positions. However, the article states it "includes" (but doesn't state it was caused by) being suspended by arms or shackled. So, at the very least all detainees had handcuffs or zipcuffs on. And they apparently were on rather tightly. Again, where is the torture?

Blindfolding - We have all seen pictures of detainees blindfolded during transport within the prison and to/from the prison. I am not sure this constitutes torture, much less abuse.

Extreme heat/cold - Both or one of them? Ok, it is hot in Iraq and Gitmo. Got it, the prisoners were hot. So was I wrapped up in body armor in Iraq when it was 130F. While uncomfortable, I would much rather do that than fly in economy seats for prolonged distances on an airplane.

Threats - So, guards or interrogators told detainees they were going to kill and/or capture their other terrorists friends. Again, not sure where the abuse is in this story.

At times, guard/interrogators kept detainees naked, deprived of sleep, or threatened with dogs (understand it doesn't state there were actual attacks). These all sound like pretty sublime interrogation techniques.

However, the article does state, "Four reported being sodomized, subjected to anal probing, or threatened with rape. " Note, the article does not state that any of the detainees were sodomized or subjected to anal probing. Instead, detainees could have only been threatened with rape.

Finally, the article states,

The patients underwent intensive, two-day long exams following standards and methods used worldwide to document torture.

"We found clear physical and psychological evidence of torture and abuse, often causing lasting suffering," he said.

Clear physical and psychological evidence was found of torture and abuse. What physical evidence? The article already stated that past records were not available. As for psychological evidence these detainees are fanatical terrorists who blow themselves up, make women cover themselves from head to toe, prevent women from being educated, or kill a women if she reports a rape. I question their psychological stability prior to detention.

In addition, the article never unequivocably states detainees were attacked by dogs, raped, or hung by the arms. It just states they were threatened or shackled. Again, these are interrogation techniques. The goal is to make the detainee believe that he is going to be attacked by dogs, raped, or hung by the arms if he does not talk.

I guess what the article is implying is we should put the detainees in 72F rooms with nice beds and pillows, TVs, and microwaves and then ask them for information. If they don't give us the information, we should give them ice cream and tuck them in for a good night sleep. If they still don't tell us anything, we should put them up in a middle class neighborhood in the middle of America and let them go free.

Come on folks. This is a war against people who drive up to an outdoor market with a car ladened with 300 pounds of explosives and blow themselves and scores of innocent men, women, and children. This is a war against people who kill women if they accuse a man of rape. This is a war against people who circumcise women to keep them faithful. This is a war against people who want possession of a nuclear weapon so they can kill thousands with a single push of a red button.

I truly believe that threatening detainees with dogs, handcuffing them, depriving them of sleep, blindfolding them, striping them of clothes, making them hot (or cold), threatening to hurt their friends (read other terrorists), and even threatening rape to make them talk are sound interrogation techniques, not abuse and certainly not torture by any stretch of the imagination.

It is called interrogation and it is what is done during war. It is what is done in a war in which the enemy does not wear a uniform, hides behind civilians, and indiscriminately kills innocent women and children.

Just my thoughts. I welcome yours.

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US runs out of patience with Pakistan

From Syed Saleem Shahzad writing for the Asia Times.

The words came from Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the weekend, threatening to send troops into Pakistani territory in hot pursuit of the Taliban, but Islamabad has no doubts Karzai was reading from a script prepared by the United States.

The message is crystal clear: Pakistan's failure to cooperate at the sub-strategic level leaves the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with no alternative but to mobilize the newly trained Afghan National Army into Pakistan whenever it sees fit.

Mr. Shahzad always has some interesting insights when it comes to Pakistan. This article is no different. For a full read, click here.

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Al Maliki the Victorious

From Mshari Al-Zaydi writing for Asharq Alaswat.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki does not tire of reiterating the words national reconciliation, closing the ranks, eliminating sectarianism and foreign infiltration and purging the security forces of sectarian and partisan tendencies. However, more than anything else; he likes to talk about his Iraqi identity and the immortal Iraqi state.

Mr. Al-Zaydi continues with a brief historical background of Maliki and how his background is influencing his current actions. He ends with,

Mr. Prime Minister, we hope that your nationalistic and non-sectarian words are genuine, although we see a group of your advisors following a different course than yours. Theirs is a tense sectarian rhetoric that is partisan-inclined and narrow minded.

And who knows, perhaps the man’s words are true, especially when he mentions his grandfather; the poet [Muhammad Hasan Abi al Mahasin] who was the poet of the national revolution, and says that he is an extension of that patriotism.

An interesting read. For a full read, click here.

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Our Own Oil Cartel

From Terence P. Jeffrey at CNSNews.

Contemplate this the next time you spend $60 or more filling up your tinny little car with gasoline made from imported oil: The U.S. government knows where it can get its hands on more untapped petroleum than exists in the proven reserves of Iran or Iraq, which have 136 billion barrels and 115 billion barrels, respectively.

He continues with,

"The nation's undiscovered oil resources total about 139 Bbbls (billion barrels)," says the report. "Of that total, the MMS estimates that 86 Bbbls are offshore under the OCS, comprising 62 percent of the nation's resources. State waters and nonfederal onshore resources are the second largest potential source of production (21 percent), followed by Federal onshore oil resources (17 percent)."

That's right. In America, we have approximately 139 Billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil producable by off-the-shelf technology.

For a full read, click here.

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AQI Bombing Networks disabled (Baqubah, Tikrit)

From MNF-I.

Coalition forces detained 33 suspected terrorists Saturday and Sunday during operations targeting al-Qaeda‘s terrorism and facilitation networks around Iraq.

What this story does not tell is how integrated intelligence suppored by SoIz and ISF presence coupled with multiple and successive prior detentions of AQI insurgents has put AQI on the run and incapable of mounting a coordinated offensive. They are hiding out in safe houses planning their own survival instead of planning operations against Iraqis.

For a full read, click here.

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The Ultimate Sadrist Spin

From Nibras Kazimi at the Talisman Gate.

Muqtada al-Sadr throws down his arms at Maliki’s feat in the last act of his months-old saga of surrender; he officially disbands the Mahdi Army to everyone’s disbelief, including mine,

Mr. Kazimi continues,

I read Sadr’s directive yesterday: I have to admit that at first I dismissed it as a forgery, seeing that it appeared on an anti-Sadrist website that had peddled forged statements attributed to Sadr in the past. Not only was the wording weird and disjointed, but Sadr actually demobilizes the Mahdi Army, going far beyond “freezing” its activities as he did twice in the past year. He limits “resistance” to a “group that shall be authorized to do so by us in writing soon” and that they alone were the ones allowed to carry arms. Everyone else must turn pacifist.

This piece is very interesting. Beginning in March, PM Maliki began going after the Mahdi Army and Special Groups. He had success in Basrah and later repeated that success in Sadr City. Now Sadr is disbanding the Mahdi Army while Iraqi Army forces are going after his and Iranian elements in Maysan.

PM Maliki is also using the Iraqi Army against the last remaining remnants of Al Qaeda in Mosul.

Having just returned from Iraq recently, I can honestly say it is quite different from a few years ago. But more about that later.

For a full read, click here.

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