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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 47087 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #255 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 09:07am »

Washington Post

Officials say little about raid on terrorist camp in Sahara

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, July 24, 2010; A06

PARIS -- Mauritanian commandos backed by the French military carried out the raid in the dead of night, guns blazing as they pounced on a small terrorist campsite in a desolate stretch of the Sahara Desert.

The troops killed six members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Osama bin Laden's loosely organized North African affiliate, but four militants escaped into the surrounding wastelands, Mauritanian Interior Minister Mohamed Ould Boilil said Friday.

Details of the attack, mounted early Thursday near the border of Mali and Mauritania, were tightly held by the governments concerned. But as reports filtered out, it seemed another inconclusive chapter in the little-noticed struggle by several North African nations to snuff out a tiny al-Qaeda-style movement hiding in the Sahara far from the headline-making events of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

The French Defense Ministry said Friday that the Mauritanian military carried out the raid "with technical and logistical support" from France, without further defining the support. In Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, Ould Boilil said the raid was designed to prevent a planned attack on a military base in Mauritania.

French officials declined to comment on reports that the commandos and the French military had engaged in a joint operation to free a French hostage, Michel Germaneau, a retired engineer who was kidnapped April 22 in neighboring Niger. The terrorist group threatened last week to execute Germaneau if several of its imprisoned members were not released by Monday.

In a video distributed by the group in May, Germaneau complained of poor health and asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy to find a solution to his abduction. Six weeks later, the group published the execution threat.

The Web site of El País, a Madrid newspaper, quoted diplomatic sources as reporting that French special forces were directly involved in the raid. El País said that the unspoken goal was to liberate Germaneau but that he was not at the campsite, contrary to electronic intelligence supplied by the United States. Bernard Valero, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman, declined to confirm or deny the El País report. "From the beginning, we have been fully mobilized to get our fellow citizen liberated," he said.

Operating in small groups believed to total no more than 500 combatants, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has remained largely in the isolated desert region where Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Algeria come together.

But terrorism specialists said some of its units have raised large amounts of money through ransom and duties imposed on cigarette and drug smugglers passing through the remote desert.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/23/AR2010072305371.html

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« Reply #256 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 09:11am »

New York Times

July 24, 2010
The War: A Trillion Can Be Cheap
By ELISABETH BUMILLER

WASHINGTON — Like everything else, war is a lot more expensive than it used to be.

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans a staggering $1 trillion to date, second only in inflation-adjusted dollars to the $4 trillion price tag for World War II, when the United States put 16 million men and women into uniform and fought on three continents.

Sticker shock is the inevitable first reaction to the latest statistics on the costs of all major United States wars since the American Revolution, compiled by the Congressional Research Service and released late last month, and the figures promise to play into intensifying political and economic pressures to restrain the Pentagon budget.

Still, 21st-century technology is an obvious explanation for why two relatively small (although long) wars in developing societies like Iraq and Afghanistan are so expensive. As Stephen Daggett, a specialist in defense policy and budgets, writes in the Congressional Research Service report, in the Revolutionary War “the most sophisticated weaponry was a 36-gun frigate that is hardly comparable to a modern $3.5 billion destroyer.”

A second look at the numbers shows another story underneath. In 2008, the peak year so far of war spending for Iraq and Afghanistan, the costs amounted to only 1.2 percent of America’s gross domestic product. During the peak year of spending on World War II, 1945, the costs came to nearly 36 percent of G.D.P.

The reason is the immense growth, and seemingly limitless credit, of the United States economy over the last 65 years, as compared to the sacrifice and unity required to wring $4 trillion from a much smaller economy to wage the earlier war. To some historians, the difference is troubling.

“The army is at war, but the country is not,” said David M. Kennedy, the Stanford University historian. “We have managed to create and field an armed force that can engage in very, very lethal warfare without the society in whose name it fights breaking a sweat.” The result, he said, is “a moral hazard for the political leadership to resort to force in the knowledge that civil society will not be deeply disturbed.”

A corollary is that taxes have not been raised to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan — the first time that has happened in an American war since the Revolution, when there was not yet a country to impose them. Rightly or wrongly, that has further cut American civilians off from the two wars on the opposite side of the world.

Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, “Americans were called upon by their leaders to pay higher taxes during a war, and grumbling or not grumbling, they did it,” said Robert D. Hormats, the under secretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs and the author of “The Price of Liberty: Paying for America’s Wars.”

In terms of costs per warrior, the current wars appear to be the most expensive ever, according to Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Working independently of the Pentagon and of the Congressional study, and using computations based on the number of troops committed to the actual conduct of war at any one time, he estimates that the annual cost today is $1.1 million per man or woman in uniform in Afghanistan versus an adjusted $67,000 per year for troops in World War II and $132,000 in Vietnam.

Although technology is the driving factor, along with the logistical expense of moving equipment over the treacherous and landlocked Afghan terrain, costs per soldier have also risen because of the price of maintaining a better-trained and higher-paid force. “We’re not just pulling random guys off the street and sending them off to war like we did in the past,” Mr. Harrison said.

A last story in the numbers: A quick calculation shows that the United States has been at war for 47 of its 230 years, or 20 percent of its history. Put another way, Americans have been at war one year out of every five.

“You know, it’s a surprise to me that it’s that high,” said Mr. Daggett, who has focused on the cost, not length, of wars. “You think of war as not being the usual state.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/weekinreview/25bumiller.html?_r=1&ref=world

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #257 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 09:16am »

on Jul 24th, 2010, 10:10pm, murnut wrote:
Excellent series of articles by Colin Bennett

Mostly about Exo's

Excellent series that should be required reading for anyone interested in ufology

http://www.realityuncovered.net/blog/2010/05/child-brides-from-outer-space/

http://www.realityuncovered.net/blog/2010/07/child-brides-from-outer-space-part-2/



I corrected the second link
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« Reply #258 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 09:16am »

Telegraph

Axe falls on NHS services
NHS bosses have drawn up secret plans for sweeping cuts to services, with restrictions on the most basic treatments for the sick and injured.

By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent
Published: 9:19PM BST 24 Jul 2010

Some of the most common operations — including hip replacements and cataract surgery — will be rationed as part of attempts to save billions of pounds, despite government promises that front-line services would be protected.

Patients’ groups have described the measures as “astonishingly brutal”.

An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered widespread cuts planned across the NHS, many of which have already been agreed by senior health service officials. They include:

* Restrictions on some of the most basic and common operations, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and orthodontic procedures.

* Plans to cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from budgets for the terminally ill, with dying cancer patients to be told to manage their own symptoms if their condition worsens at evenings or weekends.

* The closure of nursing homes for the elderly.

* A reduction in acute hospital beds, including those for the mentally ill, with targets to discourage GPs from sending patients to hospitals and reduce the number of people using accident and emergency departments.

* Tighter rationing of NHS funding for IVF treatment, and for surgery for obesity.

* Thousands of job losses at NHS hospitals, including 500 staff to go at a trust where cancer patients recently suffered delays in diagnosis and treatment because of staff shortages.

* Cost-cutting programmes in paediatric and maternity services, care of the elderly and services that provide respite breaks to long-term carers.

The Sunday Telegraph found the details of hundreds of cuts buried in obscure appendices to lengthy policy and strategy documents published by trusts. In most cases, local communities appear to be unaware of the plans.

Dr Peter Carter, the head of the Royal College of Nursing, said he was “incredibly worried” about the disclosures.

He urged Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, to “get a grip” on the reality of what was going on in the NHS.

The Government has promised to protect the overall budget of the NHS, which will continue to receive above-inflation increases, but said the service must make “efficiency savings” of up to £20 billion by 2014, which would be diverted back to the front line.

Mr Lansley said last month: “This protection for the NHS is protection for patients – to ensure that the sick do not pay for the debt crisis.”

Dr Carter said: “Andrew Lansley keeps saying that the Government will protect the front line from cuts – but the reality appears to be quite the opposite. We are seeing trusts making job cuts even when they have already admitted to being short staffed.

‘‘The statements he makes may be well intentioned – but we would implore him to get a grip on the reality, because these kinds of cuts are incredibly worrying.”

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said the cuts were “astonishingly brutal” and expressed particular concern at moves to ration operations such as hip and knee operations.

“These are not unusual procedures, this is a really blatant attempt to save money by leaving people in pain,” she said.

“Looking at these kinds of cuts, which trusts have drawn up in such secrecy, it particularly worries me how far they disadvantage the elderly and the vulnerable.

‘‘We cannot return to the days of people waiting in pain for years for a hip operation or having to pay for operations privately.”

She added that it was “incredibly cruel” to draw up savings plans based on denying care to the dying.

On Thursday, the board of Sutton and Merton primary care trust (PCT) in London agreed more than £50 million of savings in two years. The plan included more than £400,000 to be saved by “reducing length of stay” in hospital for the terminally ill.

As well as sending more patients home to die, the paper said the savings would be made by admitting fewer terminally ill cancer patients to hospital because they were struggling to cope with symptoms such as pain. Instead, more patients would be given advice on “self management” of their condition.

Bill Gillespie, the trust’s chief executive, said patients would stay at home, or be discharged from hospital only if that was their choice, and would be given support in their homes.

This week, Hertfordshire PCT plans to discuss attempts to reduce spending by rationing more than 50 common procedures, including hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and orthodontic treatment.

Doctors across the county have already been told that their patients can have the operations only if they are given “prior approval” by the PCT, with each authorisation made on a “case by case” basis.

Elsewhere, new restrictions have been introduced to limit funding of IVF.

While many infertile couples living in Yorkshire had previously been allowed two cycles of treatment — still short of national guidance to fund three cycles — all the primary care trusts in the county are now restricting treatment to one cycle per couple.

A “turnaround” plan drawn up by Peterborough PCT intends to make almost £100 million of savings by 2013.

Its cuts include closing nursing and residential homes and services for the mentally ill, sending 500 fewer patients to hospital each month, and cutting £17 million from acute and accident and emergency services.

Two weeks ago, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals trust agreed plans to save £55 million in two years, with £20 million coming from about 500 job losses.

Yet, a month before the decision was taken, senior managers at a board meeting described how staff shortages were already causing delays for patients being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/7908742/Axe-falls-on-NHS-services.html

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #259 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 09:18am »

on Jul 25th, 2010, 09:16am, murnut wrote:
I corrected the second link


Mornin' Mur! laugh
Husband needing coffee......................see ya later................
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« Reply #260 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 12:04pm »

Great walk this morning.

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Mt. Baker in the background. Kenneth Arnold said the discs were coming south from Mt. Baker when he first saw them.
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« Reply #261 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 1:44pm »

Wired

Battle: Los Angeles Mixes UFO Lore, Fallujah Feel
By Lewis Wallace July 23, 2010 | 9:26 pm | Categories: Movies, sci-fi


SAN DIEGO — Graft urban combat’s raw intensity and a back story based on real events onto an explosive alien invasion and you’ve got Battle: Los Angeles, an upcoming sci-fi movie that attempts to convey what an alien invasion might actually look like.

The now-familiar videos of U.S. troops engaged in Iraq firefights informed the look and feel of the movie, said cast members and filmmakers Thursday during a Comic-Con International panel offering a first glimpse at the film.

“We made a war movie with aliens in it,” said Aaron Eckhart, who plays a Marine in the movie.

The footage shown in Hall H looked like a combination of Black Hawk Down and District 9, with U.S. troops taking withering fire from aliens in a decimated Los Angeles. The goal was to inject realism and a first-person feel into a classic sci-fi scenario.

“I found a lot of the embedded footage you find of the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan incredibly powerful,” said director Jonathan Liebesman, “and I thought that would just be a great way to tell an alien-invasion story.”

The Comic-Con crowd got only the briefest glimpses of Battle: Los Angeles‘ extraterrestrial invaders. But Liebesman said the aliens would be different from what we’ve seen in previous sci-fi movies.

“What we wanted to do was an alien that wasn’t a creature or an insect,” he said, adding that concept art used had a “hint of biomechanicalness” to it. “We wanted to do something that was literally alien.”

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The film takes its name from the so-called Battle of Los Angeles, a real-life false alarm during World War II that triggered a barrage of anti-aircraft artillery fire when U.S. forces thought they spotted enemies over the Southern California city.

The incident, yet another mysterious aerial event supposedly involving weather balloons, has since been seized upon by ufologists as an encounter with extraterrestrial spaceships. For the movie, the 1942 incident is framed up as a scouting mission for the eventual alien invasion.

Michelle Rodriguez, who plays yet another macho, ass-kicking female fighter in the movie, was asked if she would ever take on a lighter role.

“Oh, you mean like get raped and win an Oscar?” Rodriguez asked, stunning the crowd just a little bit. “I’m horrible, I know.”

“She’s tough in real life, too,” Eckhart said.

Rodriguez went on to say that male screenwriters’ lack of understanding of the balance between masculine and feminine characters leads to the kind of parts she ends up playing on screen, and held out hope that better roles would come along.

Read More http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/07/battle-los-angeles/#ixzz0uikg1nk6

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« Reply #262 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 1:48pm »

The Battle of Los Angeles
San Francisco museum

THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II;
DEFENSE OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

“The Battle of Los Angeles”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

During the night of 24/25 February 1942, unidentified objects caused a succession of alerts in southern California. On the 24th, a warning issued by naval intelligence indicated that an attack could be expected within the next ten hours. That evening a large number of flares and blinking lights were reported from the vicinity of defense plants. An alert called at 1918 [7:18 p.m., Pacific time] was lifted at 2223, and the tension temporarily relaxed. But early in the morning of the 25th renewed activity began. Radars picked up an unidentified target 120 miles west of Los Angeles. Antiaircraft batteries were alerted at 0215 and were put on Green Alert—ready to fire—a few minutes later. The AAF kept its pursuit planes on the ground, preferring to await indications of the scale and direction of any attack before committing its limited fighter force. Radars tracked the approaching target to within a few miles of the coast, and at 0221 the regional controller ordered a blackout. Thereafter the information center was flooded with reports of “enemy planes, ” even though the mysterious object tracked in from sea seems to have vanished. At 0243, planes were reported near Long Beach, and a few minutes later a coast artillery colonel spotted “about 25 planes at 12,000 feet” over Los Angeles. At 0306 a balloon carrying a red flare was seen over Santa Monica and four batteries of anti-aircraft artillery opened fire, whereupon “the air over Los Angeles erupted like a volcano.” From this point on reports were hopelessly at variance.

Probably much of the confusion came from the fact that anti-aircraft shell bursts, caught by the searchlights, were themselves mistaken for enemy planes. In any case, the next three hours produced some of the most imaginative reporting of the war: “swarms” of planes (or, sometimes, balloons) of all possible sizes, numbering from one to several hundred, traveling at altitudes which ranged from a few thousand feet to more than 20,000 and flying at speeds which were said to have varied from “very slow” to over 200 miles per hour, were observed to parade across the skies. These mysterious forces dropped no bombs and, despite the fact that 1,440 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition were directed against them, suffered no losses. There were reports, to be sure, that four enemy planes had been shot down, and one was supposed to have landed in flames at a Hollywood intersection. Residents in a forty-mile arc along the coast watched from hills or rooftops as the play of guns and searchlights provided the first real drama of the war for citizens of the mainland. The dawn, which ended the shooting and the fantasy, also proved that the only damage which resulted to the city was such as had been caused by the excitement (there was at least one death from heart failure), by traffic accidents in the blacked-out streets, or by shell fragments from the artillery barrage.

Attempts to arrive at an explanation of the incident quickly became as involved and mysterious as the “battle” itself. The Navy immediately insisted that there was no evidence of the presence of enemy planes, and Secretary [of the Navy, Frank] Knox announced at a press conference on 25 February that the raid was just a false alarm. At the same conference he admitted that attacks were always possible and indicated that vital industries located along the coast ought to be moved inland. The Army had a hard time making up its mind on the cause of the alert. A report to Washington, made by the Western Defense Command shortly after the raid had ended, indicated that the credibility of reports of an attack had begun to be shaken before the blackout was lifted. This message predicted that developments would prove “that most previous reports had been greatly exaggerated.” The Fourth Air Force had indicated its belief that there were no planes over Los Angeles. But the Army did not publish these initial conclusions. Instead, it waited a day, until after a thorough examination of witnesses had been finished. On the basis of these hearings, local commanders altered their verdict and indicated a belief that from one to five unidentified airplanes had been over Los Angeles. Secretary Stimson announced this conclusion as the War Department version of the incident, and he advanced two theories to account for the mysterious craft: either they were commercial planes operated by an enemy from secret fields in California or Mexico, or they were light planes launched from Japanese submarines. In either case, the enemy’s purpose must have been to locate anti-aircraft defenses in the area or to deliver a blow at civilian morale.

The divergence of views between the War and Navy departments, and the unsatisfying conjectures advanced by the Army to explain the affair, touched off a vigorous public discussion. The Los Angeles Times, in a first-page editorial on 26 February, announced that “the considerable public excitement and confusion” caused by the alert, as well as its “spectacular official accompaniments, ” demanded a careful explanation. Fears were expressed lest a few phony raids undermine the confidence of civilian volunteers in the aircraft warning service. In Congress, Representative Leland Ford wanted to know whether the incident was “a practice raid, or a raid to throw a scare into 2,000,000 people, or a mistaken identity raid, or a raid to take away Southern California’s war industries.” Wendell Willkie, speaking in Los Angeles on 26 February, assured Californians on the basis of his experiences in England that when a real air raid began “you won’t have to argue about it—you’ll just know.” He conceded that military authorities had been correct in calling a precautionary alert but deplored the lack of agreement between the Army and Navy. A strong editorial in the Washington Post on 27 February called the handling of the Los Angeles episode a “recipe for jitters,” and censured the military authorities for what it called “stubborn silence” in the face of widespread uncertainty. The editorial suggested that the Army’s theory that commercial planes might have caused the alert “explains everything except where the planes came from, whither they were going, and why no American planes were sent in pursuit of them.” The New York Times on 28 February expressed a belief that the more the incident was studied, the more incredible it became: “If the batteries were firing on nothing at all, as Secretary Knox implies, it is a sign of expensive incompetence and jitters. If the batteries were firing on real planes, some of them as low as 9,000 feet, as Secretary Stimson declares, why were they completely ineffective? Why did no American planes go up to engage them, or even to identify them?... What would have happened if this had been a real air raid?” These questions were appropriate, but for the War Department to have answered them in full frankness would have involved an even more complete revelation of the weakness of our air defenses.

At the end of the war, the Japanese stated that they did not send planes over the area at the time of this alert, although submarine-launched aircraft were subsequently used over Seattle. A careful study of the evidence suggests that meteorological balloons—known to have been released over Los Angeles —may well have caused the initial alarm. This theory is supported by the fact that anti-aircraft artillery units were officially criticized for having wasted ammunition on targets which moved too slowly to have been airplanes. After the firing started, careful observation was difficult because of drifting smoke from shell bursts. The acting commander of the anti-aircraft artillery brigade in the area testified that he had first been convinced that he had seen fifteen planes in the air, but had quickly decided that he was seeing smoke. Competent correspondents like Ernie Pyle and Bill Henry witnessed the shooting and wrote that they were never able to make out an airplane. It is hard to see, in any event, what enemy purpose would have been served by an attack in which no bombs were dropped, unless perhaps, as Mr. Stimson suggested, the purpose had been reconnaissance.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In: The Army Air Forces in World War II, prepared under the editorship of Wesley Frank Craven, James Lea Cate. v.1, pp. 277-286, Washington, D.C. : Office of Air Force History : For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. G.P.O., 1983.


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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #263 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 2:13pm »

on Jul 25th, 2010, 12:04pm, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Great walk this morning.

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Mt. Baker in the background. Kenneth Arnold said the discs were coming south from Mt. Baker when he first saw them.
Crystal

Hello Crystal.
You got a really awesome view there. The aliens possibly also know what's beautiful so no wonder that they are flying around there. wink
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« Reply #264 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 3:37pm »

It's paradise Phil. I am so lucky.
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« Reply #265 on: Jul 25th, 2010, 3:39pm »

Battle of Los Angeles photo. Second photo is contrast enhanced.

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« Reply #266 on: Jul 26th, 2010, 06:21am »

New York Times

The War Logs

July 25, 2010
Piecing Together the Reports, and Deciding What to Publish

The articles published today are based on thousands of United States military incident and intelligence reports —records of engagements, mishaps, intelligence on enemy activity and other events from the war in Afghanistan — that were made public on Sunday on the Internet. The New York Times, The Guardian newspaper in London, and the German magazine Der Spiegel were given access to the material several weeks ago. These reports are used by desk officers in the Pentagon and troops in the field when they make operational plans and prepare briefings on the situation in the war zone. Most of the reports are routine, even mundane, but many add insights, texture and context to a war that has been waged for nearly nine years.

Over all these documents amount to a real-time history of the war reported from one important vantage point — that of the soldiers and officers actually doing the fighting and reconstruction.

The Source of the Material

The documents — some 92,000 individual reports in all — were made available to The Times and the European news organizations by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to exposing secrets of all kinds, on the condition that the papers not report on the data until July 25, when WikiLeaks said it intended to post the material on the Internet. WikiLeaks did not reveal where it obtained the material. WikiLeaks was not involved in the news organizations’ research, reporting, analysis and writing. The Times spent about a month mining the data for disclosures and patterns, verifying and cross-checking with other information sources, and preparing the articles that are published today. The three news organizations agreed to publish their articles simultaneously, but each prepared its own articles.

Classified Information

Deciding whether to publish secret information is always difficult, and after weighing the risks and public interest, we sometimes chose not to publish. But there are times when the information is of significant public interest, and this is one of those times. The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not.

Most of the incident reports are marked “secret,” a relatively low level of classification. The Times has taken care not to publish information that would harm national security interests. The Times and the other news organizations agreed at the outset that we would not disclose — either in our articles or any of our online supplementary material — anything that was likely to put lives at risk or jeopardize military or antiterrorist operations. We have, for example, withheld any names of operatives in the field and informants cited in the reports. We have avoided anything that might compromise American or allied intelligence-gathering methods such as communications intercepts. We have not linked to the archives of raw material. At the request of the White House, The Times also urged WikiLeaks to withhold any harmful material from its Web site.

Verification

To establish confidence in the information, The Times checked a number of the reports against incidents that had been publicly reported or witnessed by our own journalists. Government officials did not dispute that the information was authentic.

It is sometimes unclear whether a particular incident report is based on firsthand observation, on the account of an intelligence source regarded as reliable, on less trustworthy sources or on speculation by the writer. It is also not known what may be missing from the material, either because it is in a more restrictive category of classification or for some other reason.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/war-logs.html

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« Reply #267 on: Jul 26th, 2010, 06:35am »

New York Times

July 25, 2010
Search Widens for U.S. Sailors in Afghanistan
By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and ALISSA J. RUBIN

KABUL, Afghanistan — As a huge manhunt for two missing American servicemen widened throughout a dangerous region of eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, a Taliban spokesman said that one had been killed in an ambush and the other captured.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Kabul on Sunday that the military would “do all we can” to return the servicemen, who were in the Navy. The United States military in Afghanistan was offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to their return.

Afghan and American forces were carrying out an immense aerial and ground operation in Logar Province, where the two servicemen were attacked. Police officers at checkpoints were handing out reward notices to passengers on minibuses, a favorite form of travel in Afghanistan’s rural areas, and radio stations in Logar were announcing the reward, according to a reporter at one station and the director of another.

A NATO officer confirmed that the $20,000 reward was being offered and said, “It is not unusual; it is an option that a commander in a localized area can choose to exercise.”

The military would say little about the practice because the search was under way for the two missing servicemen, who were last seen leaving a military base in Kabul in an armored sport-utility vehicle on Friday afternoon.

NATO officials have declined to say why the two servicemen went to Logar, or whether the trip was sanctioned by the military. Although soldiers make up the lion’s share of American forces in Afghanistan, which is landlocked, most bases have a mix of service members, including from the Navy.

The American government has long had a policy of refusing to pay a ransom for a kidnapped employee. Nor was it clear that the Taliban were asking for one. The only reports so far were that they were interested in a prisoner swap.

But the military has offered rewards in several previous cases, usually immediately after service members disappear, before their kidnappers have a chance to spirit them to a more distant and secure location.

The distinction between a ransom and a reward appeared to be somewhat gray, although in Afghanistan, where people can earn tens of thousands of dollars in the poppy business or in transporting heroin, it seemed unlikely that $20,000 would be of much interest to the kidnappers; the reward seemed to be aimed more at bystanders who might have seen or heard something that could inform the military’s search.

A reward offer could also yield a surfeit of useless information that is either immaterial or fabricated by people who simply want to get the money. Typically tips in kidnapping cases offer little productive information, according to private contractors who work on them.

“Certainly we don’t want to incentivize people to grab people or to get their mitts on a reward,” a NATO official said.

Rewards were offered on at least two occasions in Iraq, in 2006 and again in 2007, to obtain information about soldiers who had been captured. In a case that bears some similarities to the one in Afghanistan, an American general said $200,000 was offered and about 50,000 leaflets were distributed when three soldiers were missing after an ambush south of Baghdad in 2007, according to a report published by The Associated Press.

Shahidzia, a local radio reporter in Logar, said he broadcast information about the reward after receiving a telephone call from an interpreter for the chief American military public affairs officer in the province, who had provided a description of the two men and mentioned the reward.

Later, on a minibus home from work, he said, “I saw a paper with the photos of the two missing Americans on both sides in the driver’s hand. When I asked him where he got it from, he said that Afghan police were handing it out on the main highway to all the drivers and passengers and were telling everyone to provide information about them and get a reward.”

Another station, Radio Isteqlal in Logar, also broadcast information about the sailors, said Lal Muhammad Torabi, the station’s director.

The resources being put into the search were considerable, according to residents and a spokesman for the Logar governor’s office, Din Muhammad Darwish, who said that the province “had been locked down since yesterday.”

The Taliban suggested that the capture of the two servicemen had been fortuitous, that the pair had strayed into an area they controlled and that they had seized the opportunity.

The Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said in a telephone interview that the two Americans had entered an area known as Dasht-i-Qala when the Taliban spotted them and tried to capture them alive. The area is in Charkh District, at the southern end of Logar Province, about 60 miles south of Kabul.

“They resisted, and one of them started shooting,” Mr. Mujahid said. “One soldier was trying to resist and the other one was willing to surrender.” Shots were exchanged for a while before one was killed and the other was captured, he said.

“They carried weapons, binoculars, and they were uniformed,” he said, and they were alone.

Now, Mr. Mujahid said, “the Taliban are waiting for the leadership to decide what to do” with the surviving serviceman and the body of his partner; he said both were in a safe location.

Afghan officials in Logar Province also thought one serviceman had died in the ambush, said Mr. Darwish, the spokesman for the Logar provincial governor. “One of the Americans was killed late on Friday,” he said. “We heard he was first wounded, then that he later died because of wounds he sustained in the attack.”

Admiral Mullen said the trip appeared to be “an unusual circumstance” but emphasized that he did not have all the details.

“We’ve got a large number of forces focused on the return of these two individuals,” he said. “It is certainly our intended focus to do all we can, as it has been in the past, to return to American hands anybody who has been captured or killed.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/world/asia/26afghan.html?ref=world

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« Reply #268 on: Jul 26th, 2010, 06:40am »

Telegraph

Dudley poised to replace Tony Hayward as BP chief
Bob Dudley is set to be named as the new chief executive of BP within 24 hours as the company launches the fight to repair its reputation and finances.

By Graham Ruddick
Published: 9:52PM BST 25 Jul 2010

BP said on Monday that its board will meet this evening in London. It's expected to ratify the resignation of existing chief executive Tony Hayward.

Mr Hayward is believed to have been in negotiations over the weekend about his compensation package. Under his contract he is entitled to at least £1.045m – his basic salary – although BP is thought to be keen to avoid any row with the US Government over the scale of the payout.

BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and the rest of the board now accept that, despite many shareholders supporting Mr Hayward, his departure is vital to the company drawing a line under the Gulf of Mexico disaster and planning for the future. This is particularly true in America where Mr Hayward has gained pariah status after a series of gaffes.

An unnamed senior US official told American media last night that he was briefed on Mr Hayward's looming departure last week. Mr Svanberg is expected to stay on for the time being – despite criticism of his role in the crisis.

Mr Dudley is said to be a "racing certainty" to be named the new chief executive. An announcement is expected by tomorrow morning, when BP publishes half-year results, although the timing of the handover is being finalised.

A spokesman for BP said last night: "Tony Hayward remains our chief executive and has the support of senior management and the board."

Mr Dudley would be the first non-British businessman to become BP chief executive. Mr Dudley grew up in Mississippi and took over control of BP's efforts to cap the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico last month. Under his leadership, BP has succeeded in using a temporary cap to stop oil seeping from the sea bed and is closing in on finishing a relief well that should seal the leak.

As an American, the company will hope Mr Dudley can rebuild BP's relationship with the US Government, which has been heavily critical of Mr Hayward. After the BP chief was pictured on his yacht near the Isle of Wight at the height of the crisis, Rahm Emanuel, the White House Chief of Staff, said: "I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting."

Mr Dudley, 54, spent 20 years at Amoco before it was bought by BP in 1998. In 2003, he became chief executive of BP's joint-venture in Russia, TNK-BP. However, he left Russia under a cloud in 2008 when the billionaires partnering BP accused Mr Dudley of favouring the British company.

On his return, Mr Dudley was appointed the managing director of BP, with responsibility for Asia and the Americas. He was paid $2.2m (£1.4m) last year.

Almost 100 days after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 workers, BP is forecast to unveil the worst quarterly loss in British corporate history on Tuesday.

Analyst estimates for "clean" profits of $5bn in the second quarter of the year, stripping out the effect of inventory changes, are likely to rile BP's critics. However, the company will take a $25bn to $30bn provision to meet costs related to the catastrophic oil spill. That could lead BP to record a pre-tax loss of up to $25bn, according to Jason Kenney, oil analyst at ING.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/7909633/Dudley-poised-to-replace-Tony-Hayward-as-BP-chief.html

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« Reply #269 on: Jul 26th, 2010, 06:46am »

Telegraph

Vicar gives Holy Communion to dog
An Anglican church in Canada has become the focus of controversy after a vicar gave Holy Communion to a dog.

Published: 12:18PM BST 26 Jul 2010

A priest at St Peter's Anglican Church in Toronto, gave Holy Communion to an Alsatian cross dog called Trapper
The priest gave the Host – considered by Christians to represent the body of Jesus Christ – to an Alsatian cross called Trapper.

St Peter's Anglican Church in Toronto has since been deluged complaints from Christians all over Canada.

Donald Keith, the dog's owner, said he had taken his pet to the church because he had been told animals were welcome.

He said that because he was newcomer the vicar invited him up in person to receive communion.

"The minister welcomed me and said come up and take communion, and Trapper came up with me and the minister gave him communion as well," said Mr Keith.

"Then he bent his head and said a little prayer," Mr Keith said.

"I thought it was a nice way to welcome me into the church," he said. "I thought it was acceptable." He added: "There was an old lady in the front just beaming when she saw this.

"Ninety nine-point-nine per cent of the people in the church love Trapper and the kids play with him." He said one member of the congregation was unhappy about the vicar giving the dog communion and complained to the archbishop, Colin Johnson.

The dog has since been banned from receiving the sacrament.

"It was just one person who got his nose out of joint and went to the head of the Anglican Church," said Mr Keith.

"Holy smokes. This is small stuff. I thought it was innocent and it made me think of the blessing of the animals.

"This has blown me away. The church is even getting emails from Catholics," he said.

Peggy Needham, the deputy people's warden at the church, said that no further action would be taken.

"The backlash is from just one person," she said.

"Something happened that won't happen again. Something our interim priest did spontaneously.

"This person went to the top and emailed our bishop to make a fuss and change things. But he misjudged our congregation."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7910177/Vicar-gives-Holy-Communion-to-dog.html

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