Pentagon's Second Thoughts on Iraq Withdrawal
|7:41:59 PM, Monday, April 11, 2011|
"WASHINGTON – Eight months shy of its deadline for pulling the last American soldier from Iraq and closing the door on an 8-year war, the Pentagon is having second thoughts.
Reluctant to say it publicly, officials fear a final pullout in December could create a security vacuum, offering an opportunity for power grabs by antagonists in an unresolved and simmering Arab-Kurd dispute, a weakened but still active al-Qaida or even an adventurous neighbor such as Iran.
The U.S. wants to keep perhaps several thousand troops in Iraq, not to engage in combat but to guard against an unraveling of a still-fragile peace. This was made clear during Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit Thursday and Friday in which he and the top U.S. commander in Iraq talked up the prospect of an extended U.S. stay.
How big a military commitment might the U.S. be willing to make beyond 2011? "It just depends on what the Iraqis want and what we're able to provide and afford," Gates said Thursday at a U.S. base in the northern city of Mosul where U.S. soldiers advise and mentor Iraqi forces. He said the U.S. would consider a range of possibilities, from staying an extra couple of years to remaining in Iraq as permanent partners.
Powerful political winds are blowing against such a move even as U.S. officials assert that Iraqi leaders — Sunni, Shiite and Kurd — are saying privately they see a need for help developing their air defenses and other military capabilities. U.S. training of Iraqi forces up to now has focused on combating an internal enemy, including al-Qaida, rather than external threats.
If the Iraqis choose not to ask for more help, then Dec. 31 probably will mark the end of U.S. military intervention that was so close to failing when Gates became Pentagon chief in December 2006. He once said the U.S. faced the prospect of a "strategic disaster" at the heart of the Middle East.
Meghan O'Sullivan, a top adviser on Iraq to President George W. Bush when his administration negotiated the 2008 security agreement that set upcoming deadline for a final U.S. military withdrawal, said time is too short to negotiate a full reworking of that legal pact.
"The question is, can both sides agree on something more modest but which still provides an adequate legal basis for a smaller number of American troops to stay in Iraq, with quite defined missions?" she said in an email exchange last week. O'Sullivan is a professor of international affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School..."
-- This news come as a complete surprise.
Egyptian Protesters Defy Military, Return To Tahrir Square
|2:10:49 PM, Monday, April 11, 2011|
"CAIRO — Angry anti-government demonstrators returned to Tahrir Square late Saturday, some declaring that they were ready to face martyrdom, less than a day after Egypt’s military rulers used force to break up a protesters’ camp in the place where their revolution began.
Protesters again chanted slogans calling for the removal of the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, likening him to ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Others prayed or read from the Koran. Many appeared mindful of the council’s warning earlier in the day that troops would use force again, if necessary, to clear the square.
The bloody pre-dawn crackdown Saturday followed weeks of rising tensions between the pro-democracy movement and the military leadership that has run the country since Mubarak’s ouster in February.
At first, protesters welcomed the military’s intervention, seeing it as protection from the security apparatus and paid government thugs. But the euphoria quickly faded, and accusations mounted that the military was shielding Mubarak and doing his bidding.
The death toll from the raid on the protesters’ encampment remained in dispute late Saturday. Witnesses said that at least two people had been killed, while the Health Ministry said one person had died.
Hundreds of troops, firing into the air and attacking protesters with electric batons, swarmed the center of the square to expel several hundred people who had defied a 2 a.m. curfew after a large but peaceful protest Friday.
Among those who had joined the overnight protesters in the camp were about 20 uniformed soldiers who had broken ranks to demand that the military council move faster to try Mubarak and former members of his regime on corruption charges.
“They were participating to show their solidarity with the people,” said Hassad Mahmoud, 20, a student at Cairo University who took part in the sit-in.
Toward midnight, jubilant protesters in the camp lifted rebellious soldiers on their shoulders, shouting, “The army and the people form a single hand!” One of the soldiers raised a rolled-up body bag into the air, proclaiming that he was ready to die..."
London Elektricity - Just One Second (Apex Remix)
|1:58:06 PM, Monday, April 11, 2011|
Young Japanese Female Tourists Magically Turn Into Old Japanese Men
|9:36:36 PM, Sunday, April 10, 2011|
Aides Web Film - Clever Dick
|7:09:28 PM, Sunday, April 10, 2011|
-- This TBWA Paris produced film demonstrates that thinking with your dick doesn't always have to mean stupidity in this AIDES web film. Think that movie Limitless, except the protagonist is... Well watch the film.
Attenborough: Fully Grown Python Eating a Deer - Life in Cold Blood - BBC Wildlife
|5:24:48 PM, Sunday, April 10, 2011|
-- Sir David Attenborough presents this epic wildlife documentary, exploring the world of cold blooded animals. Watch this phenomenal video to see a fully grown python kill and eat a deer. Brilliant high quality images from BBC natural history masterpiece, Life in Cold Blood.
One Dead in Shooting on UK Nuclear Submarine
|3:01:35 PM, Sunday, April 10, 2011|
"LONDON (AFP) – A Royal Navy sailor was killed on Friday and another has life-threatening injuries after a shooting aboard a nuclear submarine docked in port, police and the Ministry of Defence said.
A third sailor was arrested and was in custody over the incident in Southampton, officials said, stressing that the shooting was not terrorism-related.
"We can confirm that one person has died and another is in a life threatening condition following a shooting incident on board HMS Astute today," Hampshire police said.
Astute, the British navy's newest and most advanced submarine, was in Southampton on a five-day visit after spending 46 days at sea, according to local media.
Armed police, firefighters, paramedics and the local air ambulance were quickly deployed to the docks, and two police launches patrolled near the submarine, witnesses said.
"Two Royal Navy personnel have been involved in a firearms incident at Southampton docks where HMS Astute is alongside. Sadly, one has now died as a result of his injuries," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
It added: "A third Royal Navy serviceman has been arrested by Hampshire Constabulary and is now in custody.
"This incident was not terrorist-related and there is no threat to the wider public."
The mayor of Southampton and the leader and chief executive of the city council were visiting the submarine at the time, around noon (1100 GMT), but were not hurt.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox offered his condolences to the victims' families, saying: "I am greatly saddened to hear of this incident and of the death of a Royal Navy service person in this tragic incident..."
They See Me Rollin', They Hatin'
|2:32:59 PM, Sunday, April 10, 2011|
NATO Destroys 25 Pro-Gadhafi Tanks
|12:47:28 PM, Sunday, April 10, 2011|
"NATO destroyed 25 tanks belonging to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces on Sunday, as heavy fighting in Libya raged for a second day around a key frontline city.
The military alliance issued a statement saying it struck 11 vehicles as they approached Ajdabiyah, and another 14 on the outskirts of Misrata.
"The situation in Ajdabiyah, and Misrata in particular, is desperate for those Libyans who are being brutally shelled by the [Gadhafi] regime," said Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, who leads NATO's operations in Libya.
Air strikes near the strategic city of Ajdabiyah, 150 kilometres south of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, killed at least 15 government soldiers, Reuters reported.
NATO responded after forces loyal to Libyan leader launched their most sustained offensive since being driven back by international airstrikes last month and as rebels struggled to keep control of a buffer zone protecting their main eastern strongholds.
Rebels are desperate to hang onto the city to give breathing room to their main political base in Benghazi, a coastal city to the north of the latest fighting. If Ajdabiya moves into government hands, however, there is just open desert to Benghazi — the same scenario that galvanized the international air campaign over fears of mass civilian casualties.
CBC's Neil Macdonald, reporting from a hospital in Ajdabiya, said he was told 18 people were killed — including civilians, rebels and troops loyal to Gadhafi.
African Union wants ceasefire
The apparent surge in ground fighting could add urgency to the latest peace initiative. Envoys from the African Union plan to hold talks with Gadhafi and rebels during a two-day visit beginning Sunday. An official from the African bloc, Khellaf Brahan, said its proposals call for an immediate ceasefire, opening channels for humanitarian aid and talks between the rebels and the government.
But it's unclear whether rebel leaders would agree to call off their attacks while Gadhafi remained in power.
In the capital Tripoli, the deputy foreign minister claimed government forces shot down two U.S.-built Chinook helicopters being used by rebel forces in the east of the country.
Khaled Kaim said the helicopters were shot down near the eastern oil facilities of Brega — a key objective of rebels — and accused NATO commanders of a double standard to allow rebel forces to operate aircraft in "clear violation" of the UN-backed no-fly zone over the country.
"We have a question for the allied forces — is this resolution made for the Libyan government only or everyone in Libya?" he asked..."
-- Flying tanks! Gadhafi has the best tech.
We Are Not Alone
|12:27:02 PM, Sunday, April 10, 2011|
-- Some examples of the numerous life forms living on our body made visible by scanning electron microscopes.
Excerpt from the documentary "The Invisible World"
Hot Wheels Creative Advertising: Child Shaped Billboard Ads
|11:48:08 PM, Saturday, April 09, 2011|
Ry Legit - UltraViolence
|4:36:58 PM, Saturday, April 09, 2011|
-- A Bit of the Old Ultraviolence...
State Senator Wants N.J. Students To 'Opt In' To Paying Activity Fees Following Snooki's Rutgers Visit
|4:26:27 PM, Saturday, April 09, 2011|
"New Jersey's public universities students would have to "opt in" to paying for student events — like last week's appearance by "Jersey Shore" star Snooki at Rutgers University — under new legislation Sen. Joe Kyrillos is preparing to propose in the state Senate.
Kyrillos (R-Monmouth/Middlesex) said students at state colleges and universities should have a clearer choice of whether they want to pay for student-planned events that carry fees. Last week, Rutgers students paid Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi $32,000 to appear for two one-hour question-and-answer sessions on the Livingston campus in Piscataway. The students, who were not required to get approval from university officials, used a portion of the mandatory student fees they pay with their tuition to pay Snooki.
"Students ought not be forced to fund entertainment or events that they find objectionable," Kyrillos said. "There were a great deal of Rutgers students who I am certain were uninterested or flat out outraged by Ms. Polizzi's appearance on campus."
Kyrillos described Snooki as "a degenerate reality television star who offers neither useful advice nor any appreciable talents."
Like most colleges, Rutgers allows student committees to book speakers, concerts and other events funded by student fees. About 1,000 students attended the two free Snooki shows at Rutgers. Most students said they had a great time.
Under the current system, most students automatically pay student activities with their tuition. Under Kyrillos' legislation, public colleges would also be required to give students a box on their tuition forms to "opt in" to contributing to a student activities fund.
"If students can make a case for continued fees then let's find a methodology for appropriate checks and balances so that money is not wasted," Kyrillos said..."
Taking Stock At 69-th Birthday: This Guy Is In Better Shape Than You
|1:49:38 AM, Saturday, April 09, 2011|
Nazi Warplane Lying Off UK Coast Is Intact
|11:39:17 PM, Friday, April 08, 2011|
"A rare World War Two German bomber, shot down over the English Channel in 1940 and hidden for years by shifting sands at the bottom of the sea, is so well preserved a British museum wants to raise it.
The Dornier 17 -- thought to be world's last known example -- was hit as it took part in the Battle of Britain.
It ditched in the sea just off the Kent coast, southeast England, in an area known as the Goodwin Sands.
The plane came to rest upside-down in 50 feet of water and has become partially visible from time to time as the sands retreated before being buried again.
Now a high-tech sonar survey undertaken by the Port of London Authority (PLA) has revealed the aircraft to be in a startling state of preservation.
Ian Thirsk, from the RAF Museum at Hendon in London, told the BBC he was "incredulous" when he first heard of its existence and potential preservation.
"This aircraft is a unique aeroplane and it's linked to an iconic event in British history, so its importance cannot be over-emphasized, nationally and internationally," he said.
"It's one of the most significant aeronautical finds of the century."
Known as "the flying pencil," the Dornier 17 was designed as a passenger plane in 1934 and was later converted for military use as a fast bomber, difficult to hit and theoretically able to outpace enemy fighter aircraft..."
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