November 10, 2009

QotD: “It’s not that the FBI is merely incompetent”

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Law, Religion — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 14:11

You know the scariest thing about this? It’s not that the FBI is merely incompetent. It is that, apparently, so many American Muslims in sensitive positions make contact with Al Qaeda that the FBI is forced to conduct investigatory triage and evaluate whether, in their minds, the emails are merely innocent-for-now banter or something demanding a more urgent response.

Otherwise, why the blow-off? I don’t understand how the FBI could possibly deem any chatter with Al Qaeda harmless and not worth investigating unless so much of this was going on that they had decide which illegal chatter with a hot-war enemy was worth their limited let’s-take-a-looksie-at-this resources.

Ace, “FBI: Hassan’s Al Qaeda Emails Were Probably Just Some Research and Social Chatter and Stuff”, Ace of Spades, 2009-11-10

Your backyard: red in tooth and claw

Filed under: Environment — Tags: — Nicholas @ 08:53

Stephen Malaga looks at half-baked suggestions for suburban backyards:

Environmental groups’ view of the animal world sometimes resembles Disney’s Bambi, with owls and rabbits mingling peacefully and Man lurking as the only predator, aided by his evil servant the hunting dog. A good example is the National Wildlife Federation, which wants to reintroduce wild animals into the suburban and urban enclaves from which development has expelled them by encouraging homeowners to develop “healthy and sustainable wildlife habitats” on their properties. The NWF has even produced a television program — Backyard Habitat, shown on Animal Planet — in which experts advise homeowners in places like Chicago about how to attract animals with plants they can feed on, freshwater, and places of cover like high grasses. The show especially likes to visit families with small children, emphasizing that such habitats can teach kids about wild animals.

But somehow missing from the program is one of Nature’s basic principles: the idea that hunters and the hunted evolve together. My own New Jersey backyard, a rich feeding environment that draws small herbivores with its tasty plants, dense underbrush, and drinking sources, illustrates how a residential habitat gradually becomes a killing field — in our case, one where stray cats battle over hunting turf, predatory birds dive to scoop up breakfast, and my wife and I scramble to clean up carcasses before our daughter sees them.

The Guild Season 3, Episode 10

Filed under: Gaming, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 08:35

<br /><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-US&#038;vid=4995fdbf-3463-4810-a2f4-b8853c006fb1" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 10: The Return!">Video: Season 3 &#8211; Episode 10: The Return!</a>

Korean War flare-up at sea

Filed under: Asia, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:25

The technically still-at-war Korean navies had a brief sea battle yesterday:

Warships from North and South Korea exchanged fire in disputed waters off the western coast of the Korean peninsula on Tuesday, leaving one North Korean vessel engulfed in flames, South Korean officials said.

The two Koreas accused each other of violating their territorial waters to provoke the two-minute skirmish. It was the first border fighting in seven years between the two countries, which remain technically at war.

[. . .]

North Korea appeared to have intended the clash to highlight its long-standing argument: the 195-53 Korean War never officially ended and the United States must negotiate a peace treaty with it if it wants the North to give up its nuclear weapons program, according to analysts in Seoul.

“Our high-speed patrol boat repelled the North Korean patrol boat,” the South Korean Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement following the skirmish. “We are fully prepared for further provocations from the North Korean military.”

South Korea said it suffered no casualties. Speaking in Parliament, Prime Minister Chung Un-chan said the North Korean boat limped back to its waters “enveloped in flames.”

Military ATV usage

Filed under: Military, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 08:17

I can understand the attraction of riding an ATV, as carrying a full pack and combat gear is exhausting, but I would have thought the noise of the vehicle would make them tactically useless:

ATVs (all terrain vehicles) have proved particularly useful, and popular in Afghanistan. There are many models in use, all of them militarized civilian vehicles. The British use a militarized versions of the Yamaha Grizzly 450. Basically, the Grizzly is a four wheel, 628 pound, cross country motorcycle. This ATV is six feet long and 3.5 feet wide. In addition to the driver, there are racks on the bike that can carry another 175 pounds. In addition, the vehicle can tow a trailer carrying another 350 pounds of cargo. Top speed, on a flat surface, without a trailer, is about 75 kilometers an hour. Cross country, it’s usually about half that, and a bit less if a trailer is being hauled.

Four years ago, the British Army bought 250 of the Grizzly 450s, and these were very popular with the troops in Afghanistan. There they are used for patrolling, and hauling supplies to troops in isolated positions. The army is paying $41,000 for each bike, although that includes a trailer, spare parts and technical services. The civilian version goes for about $8,000 each.

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