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Archive for June, 2010
“Capt. Mike Clauer was serving in Iraq last year as company commander of an Army National Guard unit assigned to escort convoys. It was exceedingly dangerous work — explosive devices buried in the road were a constant threat to the lives of Clauer and his men.
He was halfway through his deployment when he got a bolt from the blue — a frantic phone call from his wife, May, back in Texas.
Clauer had a hard time understanding what his wife was saying. His $300,000 house was already completely paid for. Could it be possible that their home was foreclosed on and sold because his wife had missed two payments of their HOA dues?
The Clauers’ four-bedroom, 3,500-square-foot home had been sold on the courthouse steps for just $3,500 — enough to cover outstanding HOA dues and legal costs.
The new owner quickly sold it for $135,000 and netted a tidy profit.”
“We think [the Iranians] have enough low-enriched uranium right now for two weapons. They do have to enrich it, fully, in order to get there. And we would estimate that if they made that decision, it would probably take a year to get there, probably another year to develop the kind of weapon delivery system in order to make that viable.”
A peace deal in Afghanistan? “The bottom line is that we really have not seen any firm intelligence that there’s a real interest among the Taliban, the militant allies of Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda itself, the Haqqanis, TTP, other militant groups. We have seen no evidence that they are truly interested in reconciliation.”
U.S. troops already face plenty of threats in Afghanistan: AK-47–wielding insurgents, improvised bombs, an intransigent and incompetent government. Now add a less familiar challenge to that list of woes: Afghanistan’s toxic sand.
The pulverized turf, it turns out, contains high levels of manganese, silicon, iron, magnesium, aluminum, chromium and other metals that act as neurotoxic agents when ingested.
“More good news from Afghanistan: the U.S. military has no idea where the billions it’s spending on warzone contractors is actually ending up. And nine years into the war, the Pentagon has barely started the long, laborious process of figuring it out.”
“SAN DIEGO — A judge has sentenced a San Diego County aircraft worker to two years in federal prison for selling the military defective bolts for its helicopters.
U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy says 57-year-old Joel H. Potter pleaded guilty and admitted he put troops at risk. He was sentenced Monday.
Duffy says the U.S. Department of Defense discovered the problem after a bolt’s head broke off as it was being installed on a Sikorsky CH-53E helicopter, prompting a worldwide alert to the Navy and Marine Corps.”
“WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court held Monday that Americans have the right to own a gun for self-defense anywhere they live, expanding the conservative court’s embrace of gun rights since John Roberts became Chief Justice.
By a 5-4 vote, the justices cast doubt on handgun bans in the Chicago area, but signaled that some limitations on the Constitution’s “right to keep and bear arms” could survive legal challenges.”
“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran is willing to resume nuclear talks, but not until August, so as to “punish” the West. His comments were included in a flurry of anti-Western rhetoric to mark the anniversary of a 1981 explosion that killed key figures and dozens of supporters of Iran’s revolution.
Mr. Ahmadinejad says Iran is postponing nuclear talks because the West issued a Security Council resolution against it, supposedly to give them the upper hand in negotiations.
He says Iran considers it immoral, and for this reason Tehran is delaying negotiations until late August, to “punish the West so they learn how to speak properly with other nations.”
“MEXICO CITY — A popular candidate for governor who had made increased security his prime campaign pledge was killed along with at least four others Monday morning in a brazen attack, rattling a nation already alarmed by surging drug violence.”
“Recently Saudi Arabia gave Israel permission to fly over to strike Iran.
A US Carrier group was seen transiting the Suez Canal with IDF naval vessels on their way to the Persian Gulf.
News agencies have reported that IAF jets have landed at airfields in Saudi Arabia and that nuclear armed Israeli submarines are stationed off of Iran.
There are currently as many as three US Carrier groups in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea and US Troops have been reported to be massing in Azerbaijan.”
Or it could just be more rumors.
Some of the toughest questions Elena Kagan will face in her Supreme Court confirmation hearings this coming week will focus on her actions during the military recruiting controversy while she was dean of Harvard Law School.
In 2004, Kagan barred military recruiters from using the law school’s office of career services to meet with students interested in military service.
To many Americans – including those with family and friends on overseas deployments – any effort to restrict military recruitment endangers US service members and the country.
“The Army was stonewalled at Harvard. Phone calls and emails went unanswered,” an Army recruiter said in a March 2005 memo. “The [career services director] refused to inform students that we were coming to recruit and the [career services director] refused to collect resumes or provide any other assistance.”
A wave of brutal ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, which officials now admit killed as many as 2,000 people, threatens to turn the mountainous Central Asian nation of 5 million into a failed state. A failed Kyrgyztan could destabilize its neighborhood, offer a target for the region’s Islamist radicals, and provide a haven for narcotraffickers working the opium pipeline from Afghanistan, experts warn.
Kurt Hofmann, St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner:
“Back in April, I wrote about Illinois Carry’s announcement of a series of “town hall meetings” throughout the state, to educate the public about defensive handgun carry. Since then, those meetings have started the process of building public support for armed self-defense.
Perhaps they’re making a difference–attitudes certainly seem to be changing. That’s why gun rights advocates were really looking forward to having such a meeting right in Chicago itself, and why it’s so unfortunate that a planned south-side Chicago meeting for June 30th has suddenly been thrown into limbo. From the Chicago Reader:
Gerald Vernon says he did everything he should have to obtain a permit to hold a meeting at the Tuley Park field house on the south side…and walked away thinking he’d reserved a meeting room for the evening of June 30. The group that would be convening was Illinois Carry, an organization advocating for the right to bear concealed firearms.
But on Wednesday, a week before the scheduled date of the event, he got a call telling him his permit had been revoked.
The event has apparently been canceled–with no explanation.”
“…two major factors distinguish the Afghan from the Iraqi surge. First is the alarming weakness and ineptness — to say nothing of the corruption — of the Afghan central government. One of the reasons the U.S. offensive in Marja has faltered is that there is no Afghan “government in a box” to provide authority for territory that the U.S. military clears.
In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, after many mixed signals, eventually showed that he could act as a competent national leader rather than a sectarian one when he attacked Moqtada al-Sadr’s stronghold in Basra, faced down the Mahdi Army in the other major cities in the south and took the fight into Sadr City in Baghdad itself. In Afghanistan, on the other hand, President Hamid Karzai makes public overtures to the Taliban, signaling that he is already hedging his bets.
But beyond indecision in Kabul, there is indecision in Washington. When the president of the United States announces the Afghan surge and, in the very next sentence, announces the date on which a U.S. withdrawal will begin, the Afghans — from president to peasant — take note.”
“BOISE — Arizona’s sweeping new immigration law doesn’t even take effect until next month, but lawmakers in nearly 20 other states are already clamoring to follow in its footsteps.
Gubernatorial candidates in Florida and Minnesota are singing the law’s praises, as are some lawmakers in other states far from the Mexico border such as Idaho and Nebraska. But states also are watching legal challenges to the new law, and whether boycotts over it will harm Arizona’s economy.
“If the feds won’t do it, states are saying, ‘We’re going to have to do it,’” said Idaho state Sen. Monty Pearce.”
“My job as the Multi-National Corps Iraq Historian is to collect as much data for the military archives as possible so that, once declassified, the events at hand can be studied by researchers, writers, and historians to tell the story of this phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.” – Col Michael Visconage