28 November 2006

Navy Eyes Fighting in Cyberspace

Chief of Naval Operations Mullen has tasked a development group with creating new concepts that will help the service fight adversaries in cyberspace. Military dot com reports.

In an Oct. 16 memorandum, Mullen calls on the Strategic Studies Group to give him a "high-level blueprint that encompasses your longer-term view, as well as a roadmap that includes immediately actionable steps -- operational, process, and technological -- that our Navy may take to begin developing the capabilities" needed to master the cyberspace warfare domain in the next 25 years.

The one-page document is addressed to the group's director, retired Adm. James Hogg, and is titled "Strategic Studies Group XXVI Theme -- 'Fighting in Cyberspace in 2030.'"

The Strategic Studies Group, located at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, "generates revolutionary naval warfare concepts" that appear to have potential, but are not being pursued by other Navy organizations, according to the group's Web site.

The group "is tasked only by and reports directly to the CNO," it adds.

Each year, the study team focuses on an issue of special interest to the chief of naval operations, according to a Naval War College Web site.

Mullen opens the memo by calling cyberspace a "new dimension to warfare" that is not only a "seamless blend of sensors, networks, and advanced information technologies, [but] it is also different in principles and concepts."

The group is charged with first understanding the relationships between cyberspace and "traditional maritime domains" like warfare and naval competition.

Posted openly at Adam's Blog, Right Wing Nation, Third World County, Basil's Blog and Bright & Early.


Coast Guard Uses Biometrics, Identifies, Detains One Suspect

The U.S. Coast Guard has adopted high-tech measures to combat human smuggling and illegal immigration efforts on the high seas. USCG District 7 PAO reports.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The crew of Coast Guard cutter Key Largo used biometrics, digital fingerprints and photographs, during an interdiction Sunday night in the Mona Passage, to identify one person who had previously been deported and was attempting to illegally enter the United States.

The suspect was aboard a yola carrying 13 Dominican migrants that was interdicted by the Key Largo 24 nautical miles northwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The suspect was identified using the biometric information and comparing it against US-VISIT's databases, which includes information about wanted criminals and immigration violators. The suspect was detained along with two other migrants and turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol Tuesday. The other 10 migrants were repatriated to La Romana, Dominican Republic at approximately 9 a.m. today.

The yola was initially located by an HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Air Station Miami. An HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen flew rescue support during the transfer of migrants from the yola to the Key Largo.

The biometric capability employed in this case provides the Coast Guard with an important tool to definitively establish the identity of those interdicted at sea who may attempt to enter or re-enter the United States illegally, or who may pose a threat to national security.

Collecting biometric identification supports the U.S. Government's efforts to target human smugglers and protect migrants put at risk attempting to enter the United States illegally from the sea.

The Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Posted openly at Adam's Blog, Right Wing Nation, Third World County, Basil's Blog and Bright & Early.


US Military Trains Bomb-Sniffing Bees

In the latest version of "drone"warfare, DOD scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory said in an online statement published Monday they had developed a method to harness the common honey bee's exceptional olfactory sense to sniff out explosives used in bombs or IEDS.

"The new techniques could become a leading tool in the fight against the use of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which present a critical vulnerability for American military troops abroad and is an emerging danger for civilians worldwide," the research laboratory said.

The scientists used Pavlovian techniques on the bees' natural response to nectar, a sticking out of their tongue, or proboscis extension reflex.

By rewarding them with sugar water, the scientists taught bees to give the same reflex action when they were exposed to vapors from explosives such as dynamite, C4 plastic and TATP (triacetone triperoxide), often used by suicide bombers.

"Scientists have long marveled at the honey bee's phenomenal sense of smell, which rivals that of dogs," said Tim Haarmann, principal investigator for the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project. "But previous attempts to harness and understand this ability were scientifically unproven. With more knowledge, our team thought we could make use of this ability."

The rest of the story can be found here.

Posted openly at Adam's Blog, Right Wing Nation, Third World County, Basil's Blog and Bright & Early.


26 November 2006

Afghanistan's Fledgling Army Joins Fight

Amidst all of the negative reports concerning Iraq, there has been considerable silence regarding Afghanistan. The newly formed Afghan Army has grown from former members of the Northern Alliance, to a legitimate force.

"They are our exit strategy," said Maj. Francoise Bisillon, who is part of the Canadian team that lives with, trains and mentors Afghan soldiers in Panjwayi.

Their short morning patrol might not seem like dangerous work, but the area is NATO's front line against Taliban militants. Clashes erupt in nearby fields almost every day.

This year alone, 34 Canadian soldiers have been killed in Kandahar province, most of them in insurgent attacks near the Argandab River, a fertile valley of orchards and vineyards that is a green oasis in an expanse of brown desert and barren mountains.

Close-quarter fighting over the summer in the province's Panjwayi, Pashmul and Zhari areas killed hundreds of militants, but dozens of civilians also died — deaths that have soured relations between locals and Western troops.

Lt. Col. Shirin Shah Kowbandi's chin and right palm bear scars from clashes with Taliban militants in the country's north in the 1990s, when the hard-line Islamic militia ruled most of Afghanistan.

A towering man in green fatigues, he has spent most of his adult life fighting the Taliban, first as a member of the Northern Alliance and now as commander of the Afghan National Army's 2nd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 205th Corps in Kandahar province, the militia's former heartland.

When the Taliban ruled, the lines of battle and combatants were clear, he said.

"Now, there is no front line," Kowbandi said. "Four or five guys will attack and then run into the village where they hide their weapons."

Kowbandi complains that his unit has only half the men required, few weapons and old equipment. Some of their assault rifles jammed during the summer offensive, while barrels on others were bent. Recent rains left their dun-colored pickup trucks bogged down in thick mud.

"If we have better weapons and equipment, we can beat the enemy faster," Kowbandi said, before turning his gaze to some Canadian armored vehicles.

"If I only had those," he said.

I wish you did, too.

Open Post Thanks to Basil's Blog, Woman Honor Thyself, Pirate's Cove, Jo's Cafe, and Point Five.


Massive Rally Backs Chavez Opponent

In one of the largest anti-Chavez rallies in many years, thousands of Venezuelans blocked a major highway in support of opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales.

Shouts of "Dare to change!" rose up from the dense crowd filling the highway for several miles and spilling into nearby overpasses and streets in Venezuela's capital, Caracas. The rally came eight days before the country's presidential election on Dec. 3.

Rosales, speaking from a stage, promised democracy for a country he said was sinking into Cuba-style authoritarianism under Chavez.

"I don't want to be a president who controls all the branches of government," Rosales shouted to thundering applause. "Let there be true democracy in Venezuela!"

I agree, let there be democracy in Venezuela.

The rest of the story can be found here.

Open Post Thanks to Basil's Blog, Woman honor Thyself, Pirate's Cove, Jo's Cafe, and Point Five.


23 November 2006

Farmers Lose...Wetlands Win

In yet another example of how the government take of private land extends beyond eminent domain, the Island County (Washington) Planning Department has enacted a Critical Area ordinance, which local green groups claim is not enough. In a nutshell, the ordinance limits development in critical areas (e.g. wetlands). Wait a minute; the ordinance not only limits the development of privately owned land, but farming as well. That's right -- farming. The original stewards of the land -- farmers -- are now being regulated as if they were planning a Mega-lo-Mart or the 895th Starbucks in town. The Snohomish County Herald reports.

Whidbey Environmental Action Network is suing the county. It alleged the new rules are based on faulty science and fail to protect these critical areas. The environmental advocacy organization has asked a Thurston County Superior Court judge to force Island County to redraft the rules and protect environmentally sensitive areas.

Ultimately, the group would like to eliminate farming near wetlands and streams, litigation coordinator Steve Erickson said.

"We don't think, by and large, streams and wetlands are the place to have livestock," he said. "Someone who lives downstream shouldn't have to worry about getting sick from someone's livestock (up) the stream. A trip to the beach shouldn't mean a trip to the emergency room."

County Planning and Community Development Director Phillip Bakke countered that the new rules would protect the environment. They also would make it tougher for farmers to practice near critical areas, he said.

For example, the new rules would force some farmers to develop farm plans in conjunction with conservation districts. Others would need to create setbacks from streams and confinement areas for manure.

Additionally, the rules would only apply to current farmers. New farmers would have to abide by the county's critical areas ordinance, which limits development around wetlands and streams. Though the ordinance was created with urban development in mind, it also applies to farming, Bakke said.

Tactics like this aren't limited to Island County, oh no. Right here in California, federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have banded together to draw lines on private property -- lines that establish wetland preserves on private land. If a landowner wants to develop his or her land in the Sun Ridge area of Sacramento County or many other parts of the state, they had better be prepared to give up huge chunks of their land if they want to stand a chance of getting development entitlements.

Think this could never happen to you? That nice little Creek that runs through your back 40 may become the next National [insert species name here] Preserve.

Linked at the following excellent sites: Third WorldCounty, bRight and Early, Cao's Blog, Right Wing Nation, and Basil's Blog.


Canada Toughens Bail for Gun Crimes

It is not too often I find myself praising any Canadian political, judicial or institutional decision. While I find Canada's stand on gun restrictions appaling, today I find myself cheering Toronto for a good decision. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that his party is pushing amendments to the criminal code to make it difficult for those charged with a violoent crime involving a gun to get released on bail while awaiting trial. The rest of the story.
The amendments, expected to be introduced later in the day in the House of Commons, will require those accused of serious crimes involving firearms to provide sufficient justification to be granted bail.

"Gun crime is a menace to public safety, and protecting Canadians must be the first priority of our bail system," Harper said in Toronto.

"Our legislation will reverse the onus, so that people charged with serious gun crimes will have to demonstrate to the courts why they should not stay in custody until their trial."

Harper said of the nearly 1,000 crimes involving firearms or restricted weapons reported so far this year in Toronto, nearly 40 percent were committed by people on bail, on parole or on probation.

The amendments, which were championed by the Conservative Party during Canada's last federal election, were part of broad anti-violent crime proposals.

Posted with Great Thanks at The Mudville Gazette, Bright & Early, Blue Star Chronicles, Pirate's Cove and Third World County.

19 November 2006

Okinawans Embrace U.S.Military More Than Do Democrats

In a recent election, Okinawans have proven to support the U.S. military more than the Democratic party -- AFP via Yahoo reports.
Japan's southern island chain of Okinawa elected an ally of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as governor, rejecting calls to scale back one of the US military's key overseas deployments.

The election had turned into a referendum on the troops in the subtropical islands, which host three-quarters of the US military facilities in Japan, one of Washington's closest allies.

Voters backed Hirokazu Nakaima, who is supported by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party. He has said he will negotiate with the central government over the troop presence and avoid confrontation.

With all the votes counted, Nakaima had 347,303 votes with challenger Keiko Itokazu, who had campaigned actively against the US troops, receiving 309,985 votes. A pro-independence candidate trailed in third place.

Shamelessly linked at The Mudville Gazette, Third World County, Right Wing Nation, Basil's Blog, Bright & Early, and Jo's Cafe.


Kissinger says No Victory in Iraq

Former Secretary of State and noted butcher of the English language Henry Kissinger stated publicly that a military victory in Iraq is not possible.
"If you mean by 'military victory,' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible," he told the British Broadcasting Corp.
Herr Kissinger further claims that we must hop in bed with Iraq's neighbors if we are to make any progress. He did come out of the ether when asked about total troop withdrawal.
But Kissinger, an architect of the Vietnam war who has advised President Bush about Iraq, warned against a rapid withdrawal of coalition troops,saying it could destabilize, Iraq's neighbors and cause a long-lasting conflict.
What crap.

Shamelessly linked at The Uncooperative Blogger, Stuck on Stupid, Is it Just Me?, and Cao's Blog