BMEWS
 
Sarah Palin is the other whom Yoda spoke about.

calendar   Wednesday - April 30, 2008

HARD TIMES FOR AMERICANS?

Drew in a past post recently mentioned “research” which I confess I have not done with this story.
It’s being reported by at least one of the guys, Tom Leonard, from L.A.  Or at least, he was reporting from there earlier last week.

Mr Leonard, reporting from L.A., filed a story that mentioned the riots in LA and Rodney King who he wrote, had been “murdered by LA cops thus setting off riots.” He was referring of course to that unfortunate episode many yrs ago when some jerk video taped King being mugged by cops. yeah. They wanted his cell phone and play station I guess.

Anyway ... I just want my fellow Americans to know, should things get really bad over there, well ..... you could apply for aid from the EU who just love our asses. Not!

American portions reduce as food prices rise By Tom Leonard and Alex Spillius
Last Updated: 1:57AM BST 30/04/2008

Faced with growing delivery costs driven by higher fuel prices, many US restaurants have done the previously unthinkable and introduced smaller food portions served on smaller plates.

Hey really folks. Is that true? Nah ...

The increase in fuel prices was identified yesterday as the biggest issue affecting the lives of ordinary Americans. It surpassed even unemployment and home repossessions, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Until now, Americans have taken for granted the relative cheapness of petrol and food. Although $3·60 (£1·80) for a gallon of petrol still seems inexpensive by European standards, the 25 per cent increase from last year is causing considerable pain in a country that continues to run big gas-guzzling vehicles.

The Petroleum Marketers Association of America has reported that motorists are increasingly driving off from the pumps without paying.

The increase has hit the haulage business hardest. Truckers, who are now paying up to $1,500 (£750) to fill up with diesel, have launched a series of protests in US cities.

William Lockridge, of the Washington Metropolitan Area Truckers’ Association, said drivers were barely breaking even. “If the truck stops, the economy stops. We need help and we need it now,” he said.

The US has also been feeling the pinch from the rising cost of wheat, which has pushed up bread and pasta prices. The acreage devoted to the crop has fallen by 27 per cent since 1981, some of that because wheat farmers are turning to producing ethanol for biofuels.

President George W Bush tried yesterday to play down ethanol’s role, but still estimated it was responsible for 15 per cent of the food price rise.

http://tinyurl.com/6fpj4b


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 04/30/2008 at 07:37 PM   
Filed Under: • Fine-Dining •  
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Sisters cannot inherit ,European Court rules

I can’t help but feel sorry for these old ladies.  True, if ya look at the house they apparently have some money. Upkeep on that place can’t be small.
But so what?  I can see their viewpoint.  I can also understand where it can lead as explained in this article.

Sisters cannot inherit house they have lived in since birth, European Court rules
By Richard Savill

Last Updated: 8:48PM BST 29/04/2008
Two elderly sisters who have lived together since birth today lost a last-ditch legal appeal to obtain the same inheritance tax rights as married and gay couples.

In a 15-2 vote, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that Joyce Burden, 90, and her sister, Sybil, 82, do not face unfair discrimination under British inheritance tax rules.

The pair argued that they should be spared inheritance tax in the same way as married couples, or homosexuals who form a civil partnership.

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The sister who lives longest faces having to sell the family home in Marlborough, Wilts, when the other dies in order to meet the cost, estimated at more than £200,000.

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The sisters claimed British inheritance tax laws breached their human rights by exempting married and gay couples, while targeting cohabiting siblings.

But the Grand Chamber of the human rights court upheld an earlier ruling that national governments were entitled to some discretion when deciding taxation arrangements.

The decision means that when one sister dies the other will have to sell their four-bedroom property to pay the 40 per cent inheritance tax on its value above £300,000.

The house is worth about £875,000.

If they had won their case, British inheritance tax law would have had to change, to place cohabiting couples on an equal footing with married couples and “civil partnerships” in being exempt from inheritance tax.

I’m not a lawyer. I don’t understand why the law would have to change. I don’t understand why in the case of very old ppl like these two, something like extenuating circumstances would not apply. Especially where their entire lives have played out in this one home. But then, hey. I do understand the need of the govnmt. for cash to pay for political perks and salaries and immigration and welfare and .... how long a list do ya want ?

The sisters, who have been asking the Government to look at their case for 30 years, decided to write to the European courts after Labour introduced the Civil Partnership Act in 2004.

The Act granted the same right to gay and lesbian couples to avoid inheritance tax as married couples, but not to cohabiting family members.

The sisters’ letter, written without legal advice, read: “In desperation we write to you, for, as second-class citizens, we seek justice against the unfair laws we live with in the British Isles.”

The Burdens later hired a lawyer and claimed the Act violated Human Rights Convention articles outlawing discrimination and guaranteeing the “protection of property”.

In 2006 they lost the case by a 4-3 majority of the panel of seven human rights judges, although three members of the court described their inheritance tax plight as “awful” and “particularly striking”.

But the appeal hearing, before a larger 17-member panel of human rights judges, produced a more decisive 15-2 majority against the sisters today.

The sisters cannot take their case further. They could not immediately be contacted today.

However after losing the first case in 2006, Joyce Burden commented: “If we were lesbians we would have all the rights in the world. But we are sisters, and it seems we have no rights at all.”

(She sure does have a valid point there)

http://tinyurl.com/3ebbho


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 04/30/2008 at 06:00 PM   
Filed Under: • Taxes •  
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SOMETHIN ALMOST HIGH TECH FOR THE HI-TECH CROWD

OK, I may have exaggerated the high tech part ...

Unique cycle built by teen to combat pollution
Last Updated: 2:40PM BST 30/04/2008
It looks like a motorcycle that has been in a nasty accident, but the teenage inventor of this electric bike believes it is the answer to urban traffic chaos and pollution.
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Although it resembles a unicycle, the Uno has two wheels side by side and uses gyroscopic technology to stay upright.

Ben Gulak, 18, spent several years building the machine. The rider leans forward to accelerate to speeds of 25mph, and backwards to slow down.

Mr Gulak, from Canada, said: “I was inspired to make the bike after visiting China a few years ago and seeing all the smog. They all drive little bikes that are really polluting and I wanted to make something to combat that.”

http://tinyurl.com/5bjpf5


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 04/30/2008 at 05:42 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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Mass Roman grave discovered

I know this story is way off the beaten path for BMEWS but .... I guess I hope lots of others find this sort of thing as exciting as I do.
Think about it, after all these years.

They are still finding Roman coins and artifacts here, as well as ancient English coinage and pottery and arms of one sort or another.
You’d think that with so much rebuilding over so many centuries and the discoveries made over the years, there might be no more to unearth.
I guess not.

Mass Roman grave discovered in Gloucester
Last Updated: 7:02PM BST 30/04/2008
Archaeologists have unveiled the first ever discovery of a one of the rarest finds in British history – a mass Roman grave.

The remains of 91 men, women and children are believed to have been hurriedly dumped during an outbreak of disease in the 2nd or 3rd century.

It is the first officially-recognised Roman mass grave to be found in Britain.

The site was first discovered in Gloucester in 2004 and archaeologists have now gone public after four years secretly excavating the site and analysing the bones.

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Louise Loe, Head of Burial Archaeology at Oxford Archaeology who led the analysis, said: “The skeletons were lying with their bones completely entangled, reflecting the fact that they had been dumped in a hurried manner.

“When we studied the skeletons we looked for evidence to explain why they had been buried in such a way.

“This has led us to conclude the individuals were the victims of an epidemic.”

The burial site is now occupied by Cathedral Court, a complex of retirement homes opposite the Church of St Mary Magdalene, a former 12th Century lepers hospital.

Two other mass Roman burial sites have previously been found in York in the 1870’s but were not properly recorded and are therefore not officially recognised.

It is believed the bodies were victims of the Antonine Plague, which tore through Europe in the second century.

Archaeologists spent a painstaking 18 months analysing the bones, which were dumped about a century before the Romans quit Britain.

Project officer Andrew Simmonds added: “This is very exciting and is unique in as much as we are able to tie the find in with an actual historical event.

“By analysing the pottery and broaches found on the women we have been able to determine the date as the second half of the second century AD.

“This ties in with an outbreak of the Antonine Plague, which was probably small pox.

“The bones were not in a very good condition because of the manner in which they were discarded.

“We have managed to identify 21 of the bodies as definitely male and eight have been confirmed as female.”

Two 1st Century sculptured and inscribed tombstones were also found at the site.

One was for a 14-year-old slave and the other was for Lucius Octavius Martialis, a soldier of the 20th Legion.

The legion was stationed at Gloucester until the 70s AD and the mass grave may have been civilian descendants of the Roman military.

The discovery is significant not only because it pre-dates the Roman departure from Britain but also because it is so rare to discover remains in such a hap-hazard manner.

The Romans were very particular about where remains were buried, which makes the find so unique.

Roman Gloucester is thought to have been founded in 48AD by the river, at Kingsholm.

In about 97AD Glevum, the Roman name for Gloucester, was given the status of ‘colonia’ – the highest urban status.

http://tinyurl.com/4pl96f


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 04/30/2008 at 05:29 PM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and Discoveries •  
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Legal shennanigans over Philadelphia Gun Laws

As I covered here several weeks ago, Philadelphia mayor Nutter signed into law 5 new local gun laws. Ignoring the fact that these laws will be useless with regards to fighting crime and gang violence, it was against Pennsylvania law for Mayor Nutter to create these laws with his signature. Pennsylvania has had a statute against pre-emption since 1976, and that statute was found legal by the Supreme Court in 1996. Which means that no city, town, or municipality can make their own gun laws in PA. Nevertheless, Nutter did.

Philly DA Lynne Abraham had told the mayor that the laws would be unconstitutional, but he signed them anyway. She has vowed not to prosecute anyone arrested for breaking them.

During a City Council meeting Tuesday, Abraham stated she admired the efforts of City Council and the Mayor, but added she could not approve criminal charges stemming from arrests under the five new laws instated last week.
“Because these laws appear to me, as an attorney looking at the laws of Pennsylvania, to be preemptive, they are, on their face, illegal acts,” Abraham said.  Abraham said a 1996 ruling upheld a 1974 law stating that Philadelphia does not have the authority to pass its own gun control legislation.

The NRA got into the mix and went to PA Judge Cutler Greenspan and got an injunction, but injunctions don’t last forever. I think this one is good for about a month. Today’s Scary News letter from the NRA/ILA (5 days late, but that’s how the NRA always is):

Friday, April 25, 2008
This week’s outrage comes courtesy of Philadelphia Police Commissioner, and former Washington, D.C. police chief, Charles Ramsey. As we recently reported, the Philadelphia City Council passed five gun control measures, which were subsequently signed by Mayor Michael Nutter in direct violation of Pennsylvania’s state preemption law. 

A Philadelphia County court granted NRA’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the new gun control regulations and ruled that Philadelphia is barred from enforcing the ordinances and moving forward on promulgating regulations. But the City opposed the injunction, saying they believed that the ordinances are both necessary and legal.

And while District Attorney Lynne Abraham previously advised Philadelphia’s city council and mayor that their gun control proposals were unconstitutional, the city pressed on, defying the state’s firearm preemption law in its attempt to circumvent the Pennsylvania legislature.

Enter Commissioner Ramsey, whose anti-gun leanings and arrogant, above-the-law mentalities have followed him to the City of Brotherly Love. Not content with his city passing illegal gun control “laws,” Ramsey is actually encouraging the City Council and Mayor Nutter to ignore the legal advice of city attorneys against enforcing the ordinances.  Not only is he in favor of enforcing the illegal measures, he was recently quoted as saying, “As far as I am concerned, the laws are valid, and we will act as if this whole conversation with the D.A. just didn’t take place.”

When the City’s Police Commissioner--the top law enforcement official--encourages the mayor and council members to ignore legal advice, that’s not just blatantly arrogant and anti-gun, that’s outrageous.

Oh it’s more than outrageous. This is the head of the police department saying he’s going to enforce laws that he knows are illegal. It’s a case of “it’s for your own good” stretched to the limits; the man who is the head of law enforcement is vowing to act illegally because it’s the right thing to do. Dude, you are so fired. Don’t forget for a second that this Commissioner Ramsey fellow is the guy who pushed Washington DC’s gun laws into place - the ones that are under review by the Supreme Court right now in the DC v. Heller case. They too will fall.

Now we have another dog in the fight, Philly political sock puppet and City Solicitor Shelley Smith, who is challenging Judge Cutler Greenspan’s injunction because she feels the NRA lacks standing. [ Now, I am not a lawyer, so I could be off, but my understanding of “standing” means that a law, no matter how obviously wrong, can not be challenged in court until somebody has been injured by it. And “injured” means charged with breaking that law, but I’m not sure if “injured” has to include being convicted and penalized. The whole concept seems pretty damn stupid to me, but I guess it serves some sort of legislative streamlining process, or else the opponents of every single law would be challenging them in court the instant they were passed. Wait, is that actually a bad thing? Maybe not, but it would be an expensive one.] And my guess is that Smith is correct: no person has been injured by this law because a) it hasn’t been enforced yet, and b) the DA has vowed not to prosecute infactions because the laws are illegal. But that reality has nothing to do with the theater of courtroom drama.

“They don’t deal specifically with the legal injury as it relates to each of the separate ordinances,” Smith said. “You have to look at what every ordinance prohibits and then figure out if any of the plaintiffs can allege any specific injury.”
...
Greenspan on April 17 approved the NRA’s request for a temporary restraining order to keep the city from enforcing the new laws.  She will hold a hearing on May 19 to consider the group’s request for a permanent injunction.  The NRA says the laws conflict with a 1996 state Supreme Court ruling that only the state can regulate guns. Smith says the city laws do not conflict with that ruling.  Further complicating matters, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had vowed to enforce the local laws before the restraining order but District Attorney Lynne Abraham said she would not prosecute anyone arrested for violating them.

So the whole thing is a washing machine full of bullshit, stuck in the spin cycle. The laws are illegal. The mayor knew full well the laws are illegal. The Police Commissioner knew the laws were illegal. The city DA told them so. The Judge saw immediately that the laws were illegal and issued an injunction. The city Solicitor is lying out her ass, but she has to take the mayor’s position. The only thing she’s right about is the lack of standing, so the injunction will fail. And there won’t be any standing because these laws won’t be enforced. So can the Pennsylvania Supreme Court take these laws on without standing, and bitch slap Philadelphia AGAIN for violating the pre-emption law? Wait and see. This is only the opening act in the latest theater of the absurd.

The five ordinances in question are largely familiar re-workings of state legislative proposals that have already been shot down: a limit of one gun purchase per month; no ownership of automatic, or combat weapons; the imposition of arrest or a fine if your gun is stolen and you fail to immediately report it to the police. These are the main points. Limiting gun purchases to one per month is the only proposal that even made it to the voting floor in pro-gun Pennsylvania, where it, too, was promptly defeated.

Wasting time and money in court on Monday will save no lives. And, isn’t that the point?

So, really, what is this all about? Mayor Nutter is a very bright man. What’s the hidden agenda on this apparent fool’s errand in court, and at taxpayer expense? The NRA has already persuaded the judge to issue a restraining order prohibiting the police from arresting anyone based on the new ordinances. Police Commissioner Ramsey has been through all this once before, in Washington D.C., where another local gun control law worked its way right up to the United States Supreme Court.

The clear intent of what Mr. La Pierre is calling “political theatre” is the faint hope that some court, somewhere, will entertain an argument that can lead to the possible invalidation of that rule of pre-emption in which the state keeps the good stuff for itself.

So really what we are looking at is the ultimate expression of the leftist mindset: they have passed laws that they know are illegal under current statutes, but they are counting on judicial activism to get those other laws twisted around so that they get their way. For your own good, of course.

No, NRA, this is far more than an outrage. This is nascent tyranny. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/30/2008 at 12:59 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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calendar   Tuesday - April 29, 2008

Oh Canada

Call for handgun ban passes overwhelmingly

Toronto - A lopsided city council vote of 39-3 calling for a federal ban on handgun ownership came as little surprise yesterday. What proved revealing was how two right-wing councillors, seen by some as future mayoral candidates, came down on opposite sides of the vote.

Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre), one of three who opposed the mayor’s call for a federal ban, described the effort as “political junk food.”

After pointed questions to Mayor David Miller, who made the request for the ban his key item for the council session that opened yesterday, Mr. Thompson said “to suggest that a ban is the solution today, we are providing a false sense of security.

“It is an empty gesture,” he scoffed.  But Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East), a frequent critic of the mayor, voted with Mr. Miller and the majority of council.

If this [proposed ban] has even a minimal effect on 1 per cent of gun crime, it is a victory,” he said. “We need to do everything we can to get crime down in the city.”

Talk about moving the goalposts. If disarming the entire country has any positive impact AT ALL on even 1% of crimes committed with handguns, then it’s worth it. I think these people have been hit in the head with too many hockey pucks. And while this is only the voice of one city council, they’ve got a petition signed by 45,000 Canadians in support of it, and they plan on taking this to their Parliment in June to push the issue.

“A minimal effect on 1 percent of gun crime”. Holy cow. Let’s see, what would you call minimal? How about 1 percent? In the USA in 2006, there were 43,000 traffic fatalities. If lowering national speed limits to 10mph resulted in less than 5 fewer deaths, then by the same “logic” that’s what we should do. That’s the same “minimal effect on 1 percent”. And think of the gas we’d save! Why, you could get around faster on a bicycle!

Moonbats. Mindless moonbats. Let’s all just completely ignore that a decrease of 1% of 1% (0.0001) is so far inside the normal statisical variance that you can’t even see it.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/29/2008 at 04:47 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun ControlStoopid-People •  
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Not in Germany

I have no idea why my little country flag is showing me posting and commenting in Germany. It doesn’t come up that way on the Who’s On thingy over on the right sidebar. But I get my internet from the cable company, and they were just bought out by ComCast and the switch-over is taking place. Which is annoying. And expensive: Two months ago we were still on the “triple play” introductory plan that got us phone, TV, and internet for $99 a month - $105 with all the taxes and fees. That expired and the bill jumped to $145. For one month. This month the bill is from ComCast and it’s $169. Bastiges.
We’ve been living in this place for almost a decade, and this is at least the 4th time the cable companies have played Engulf & Devour with our service provider. Grrr.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/29/2008 at 03:54 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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Iraq News: you figure it out

Ok, I figured out one reason I don’t post as much as I want to. It’s because I try to verify whatever story I’m writing about. And that takes an awfully large amount of time. And let’s not mention my ability to get side tracked by amazing military technology. This post was going to be about dear old Media Bias, or at least Misleading Headlines, because this story caught my eye this morning, but it turned into a bit of a research project trying to figure out what the real story actually is:

Sadr City Militants Ambush U.S. Patrol, Killing More Than 30

FoxNews picks up an AP wire story which sounds like our guys took a major beating. Well, the headline at least. Turns out it wasn’t our guys getting killed, although we had half a dozen wounded in this skirmish. It was al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army that got smeared, but you’d never know that from the headlines. Or from the first paragraph in boldface, or even from the second paragraph:

BAGHDAD — More than two dozen people were killed when Shiite militants ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad’s embattled Sadr City district, bringing the death toll in the area on Tuesday to more than 30, a U.S. military spokesman and Iraqi officials said.

The clashes broke out at 9:30 a.m. after U.S. troops were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Stover said.

And one thing FoxNews doesn’t tell you at all is the author’s name, which shows up in the same AP story that ran at KPUA:

More than 30 killed in street battles in Baghdad’s Sadr City

By HAMID AHMED
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD (AP)—Shiite militants ambushed a U.S. patrol in Baghdad’s embattled Sadr City district on Tuesday and more than two dozen people were killed in the fighting, a U.S. military spokesman and Iraqi officials said. Six American soldiers were wounded.

So the AP story comes from a local stringer. Fake but accurate? Who can tell. Find the report of the same incident over at the Washington Times and what you get is

Shi’ite fighters delay barrier

By Richard Tomkins
BAGHDAD — Mortar barrages and gunbattles in Sadr City forced the U.S. military yesterday to delay one of its most ambitious “hearts and minds” campaigns in the vast Shi’ite slum northeast of central Baghdad.

U.S. forces battled to push Shi’ite fighters farther from the Green Zone in central Baghdad, a day after at fierce gunbattles left at least 38 militants dead. Four U.S. soldiers were killed in fighting yesterday.

U.S. officials were encouraged by a decrease in rocket fire compared with Sunday, when a sandstorm provided cover for Shi’ite fighters to send volleys of rockets at U.S. and Iraqi targets.

No “ambush”, no misleading headline implying 30+ American dead. No, this version focuses on the wall; it’s a “hearts and minds” project designed to keep the residents of Baghdad safer.

Centcom was a bit slow mentioning this incident. When I started writing thist they didn’t have this story up, but they did mention quite a few other ones, that show quite clearly that al-Sadr’s troops are getting their asses kicked, with well over 150 casualties within the last week and a half. 22 here, 16 here , 10 here , the local folks fending off an attack, kill 12, etc., all in the last four days. Pretty soon it starts to add up to some pretty hefty numbers, as Bill Roggio points out. The Madhi Army is getting a beat-down. Oh, and if you can’t tell the players without a scorecard:
al-Sadr, & Mahdi Army: bad guys, now referred to as “criminals” since they are defying the Iraqi government. Also, new Bush doctrine says don’t call them jihadis anymore. Duh.
AQI: Al-Qaeda in Iraq: bad guys.
SOI: Sons of Iraq: good guys. Local village and tribal militiamen.
MNF: Multi-National Forces: good guys. Our troops, British troops, etc., working together with Iraqi Army troops.
MND: Multi-National Division: good guys. See MNF.
IA: Iraqi Army: good guys. Iraqi troops trained well enough to fight on their own.
Iraqi Police: maybe good, maybe bad. There have been problems.

When our military did post on this “ambush” story, they wrote:

MND-B Soldiers attacked with IEDs, small-arms fire, kill 28 criminals (Eastern Baghdad)

BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers killed 28 criminals in an extended small-arms fire engagement against Special Groups criminals in eastern Baghdad April 29.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., a U.S. patrol received small-arms fire, wounding an MND-B Soldier. As the Soldier was being evacuated, a U.S. vehicle was struck by two improvised explosive devices, and received small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

One vehicle was damaged in the attack and two other Soldiers were injured. The three Soldiers and a fourth also injured in the heavy SAF and RPG attacks that followed were evacuated to a nearby combat outpost.

Another U.S. vehicle was damaged by a third IED in the attack, and two Soldiers suffered minor injuries in the fighting that followed. None of the U.S. injuries are life threatening.

Using a combination of weapon systems available, including a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, MND-B Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, defended themselves and as the fighting ebbed, at least 28 militants were killed in the four-hour engagement.

“We will defend ourselves and the law-abiding Iraqi citizens,” said Col. Allen Batschelet, chief of staff, MND-B and 4th Inf. Div.  “We continually show great restraint and professionalism when attacked, and clearly identify the enemy before engaging their positions. The enemy continues to show little regard for innocent civilians, as they fire their weapons from within houses, alleyways, and rooftops upon our Soldiers.

“Our goal is to establish a safe neighborhood in southern Sadr City in order to protect the people throughout Baghdad, and allow the Government of Iraq to reestablish economic growth and improve upon essential services.”

So what may have started out as as some “militant” “criminals” taking a potshot at some soldiers turned into a half day long fight. Was this a bigger action than CentCom is reporting, or was it just a patrol that got pinned down for a long time? It’s so hard to tell.

Oh, and if you don’t know what a Multiple Launch Rocket System, usually acronymed as an MLRS, it’s a tank-like vehicle that has a rack of small missiles on the top. Call it the modern US version of the old Soviet Katusha launchers. The news articles refer to “warheads weighing 200 pounds”, which means the Army’s M39 missile, shown in the picture. Think of it as a medium range rocket propelled guided cluster bomb. More than enough to take out a whole “gang” of “criminals” and the house they’re hiding in.

image

I have no idea why on earth our guys would use a missile that has a range of over 100km in a neighborhood firefight, but when you need it you call down whatever thunder you can find. And it worked just fine, obviously.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/29/2008 at 02:33 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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calendar   Monday - April 28, 2008

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … what the heck is that thing?

It weighs only 30 pounds and can be fully weaponized for assault and rescue. It has a 6-foot jet-wing that is steered with handheld rotary controls connected to its rudder. And it can hide more than 100 pounds of combat gear in a built-in compartment.image
The Gryphon attack glider, designed to penetrate combat zones at 135 miles per hour, could revolutionize the art of parachuting.

Its helmet has a heads-up display and provides on-board oxygen for the jump. To land, a soldier separates the wing from his pack and releases his parachute to slow his descent. The wing remains attached to the soldier by a cord and lands before him.

Currently, planes and pilots are put at risk because soldiers need to jump close to combat areas. Typical high altitude, high-opening, or HAHO, jumps from around 27,000 feet allow soldiers to travel only about 30 miles after exiting the aircraft.

The Gryphon could increase that range fourfold, creating an attack corridor of nearly 125 miles. Unaffected by headwinds or crosswinds because of its favorable lift-to-drag ratio, the glider would allow elite units to reach targets with increased speed, precision and stealth.

The Gryphon’s built-in oxygen supply system allows soldiers to jump from up to 30,000 feet. And with temperatures at that altitude sometimes reaching minus 64 degrees Fahrenheit, every second counts. Even in upwind conditions, the Gryphon could reduce HAHO jump duration to a third, from an average of 45 minutes to just 15, vastly reducing the risk of exposure to extreme cold.

The Gryphon’s designers, SPELCO GbR, are even planning to affix a relatively cheap and small turbo jet, which is used for unmanned military drones. Harnessing that jet, the glider would allow soldiers to jump lower, maintain altitude and travel farther than is currently possible.

image I’m not totally sold on this one. If it can fly you 125 miles instead of the 30 miles you can get from a parasail, doesn’t that mean you’re falling a lot slower? And if you’re falling a lot slower, how does that make it possible to get down quicker out of the upper atmosphere where the temperature is deathly cold? Maybe they meant that you could do a power dive straight down, and then pull up and glide those same 30 miles but from a much lower altitude.

And while the Spec Ops guys will all want to try it, after the initial thrill wears off won’t this wing-thing be just another heavy bulky item they’ve got to hump around?

I like the idea of sticking a little jet engine on it, though that will add even more weight. I wonder if it would give you enough power to take off from the ground that way, or if this gizmo is going to wind up being called the Pteradactyl because it only flies after being dropped a long long way?









thanks for the link Rancino!






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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/28/2008 at 11:49 PM   
Filed Under: • MilitaryNeat Inventions •  
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Here it is Firkey, and it’s all mine

I got an email from a friend. A professional computer programmer. “I’ve got a blog!”, he writes, “I feel so modern!”.

I took a look. He put up 2 posts on Carter being an idiot. That’s a good start.

So I wrote back and said, hey that’s great. I have one too, here’s the link, go and look.

He writes back “I went to barking-moonbat but I couldn’t figure out how to get to your blog.”

rolleyes  rolleyes  rolleyes  rolleyes


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/28/2008 at 03:26 PM   
Filed Under: • Humor •  
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SCOTUS gets one right

Supreme Court Upholds Law Requiring Indiana Voters to Produce Photo IDs

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights, validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws.

In a splintered 6-3 ruling, the court upheld Indiana’s strict photo ID requirement, which Democrats and civil rights groups said would deter poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots. Its backers said it was needed to deter fraud.

It was the most important voting rights case since the Bush v. Gore dispute that sealed the 2000 election for George W. Bush.

The law “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting ‘the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,”’ Justice John Paul Stevens said in an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also agreed with the outcome, but wrote separately.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented.

More than 20 states require some form of identification at the polls. Courts have upheld voter ID laws in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, but struck down Missouri’s. Monday’s decision comes a week before Indiana’s presidential primary.

The case concerned a state law, passed in 2005, that was backed by Republicans as a way to deter voter fraud. Democrats and civil rights groups opposed the law as unconstitutional and called it a thinly veiled effort to discourage elderly, poor and minority voters — those most likely to lack proper ID and who tend to vote for Democrats.

Well there you go. You want to use a check in the grocery store you have to show ID. You want to sign up for a credit card you have to show ID. You want to get onto a military base you sure as hell have to show ID. You get pulled over by the cops you better be able to produce the right kind of ID for yourself AND your car. What’s the big deal about showing ID for voting? Especially when the ID doesn’t cost you anything to procure.

I wish we had more stringent voter ID here in NJ. All I have to do is sign my name in a book, and have my signature verified by a little old lady who’s nearly blind. I didn’t even have to show a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate when I registered. Ok, maybe I’m an exception, because the person who registered me is the lady who lives downstairs, and I do handyman work for the nearly blind old lady from time to time ...

Getting a NJ driver’s license is now an involved ID process that makes you come up with “7 points” worth of ID - a passport is not enough, and your old license doesn’t help at all. Not only do you have to prove you’re an American, you also need to provide several kinds of proof that you live at the address you put on the form. And that’s Ok. But voter IDs, especially those with a photo, aren’t Ok? Nonsense. Done properly, a photo voter ID is almost a national ID. While I am against a National ID card, it’s pretty much a moot point. The government already knows who I am, where I live, what I do, where I went to school, who I’m married to, where I work, how much I earn, right down to the color of my car ... and what they don’t know about me the credit card companies do: what I buy, where I shop, how often I travel, etc. And because of gun control laws my fingerprints are on a government record already. Most law abiding, non pistol packing people don’t have their prints on file.

Without voter ID you get illegals voting. Without voter ID you get the dead voting. Early and often. Without voter ID you get people voting multiple times in different areas. Would we still get these things with a photo based voter ID? Well, that depends on the processes in place. If you make absentee voting more difficult - eg, fill out the form a month or so ahead of election day, then hand it over to the government and they’ll check your ID then - the system will be fairly clean. If you keep the voter database up to date, and remove the dead people frequently, that will help too. If the Change of Address form you fill out at the post office also goes to the voting record keepers that would also be a help. There are lots of ways to keep the records accurate.

There are too many holes in the voting system. Plug the holes and you make the results more honest, so that “make every vote count” becomes more like “make every legal vote count”, which actually gives MORE power to the legal voters. The voter registration process can be made more exacting without making it onerous. Just prove that you are an American, and prove where you live. That isn’t hard at all.

Oh, and SCOTUS’ 6-3 split? Hardly surprising is it? The lefty judges took the path of less responsibility. Does this decision show that the court is now Conservatively biased? Maybe, maybe not. It shows me that at least 6 of these people can figure out the difference between right and wrong. SCOTUSblog covers more of the details than you’ll get from the news blurbs, and relates that “Court was ruling on the law only as written” which means this decision says only that Indiana’s process if Ok: it is not a blanket approval of all voter ID laws.

The actual ruling for Crawford v. Marion County Election Board can be found here, where you can also read the dissenting opinions too, starting on page 31. Mainly they boil down to the arguments that 1) getting a copy of your birth certificate costs up to $12, and going to the DMV every 4 years to get a renewed non-driver ID is “onerous” for those who don’t drive; and 2) homeless people have to go to the county clerk after voting and sign and affidavit that they are homeless. Each time they vote. And that’s an “excessive burden”. Uh no, it isn’t.  And that $12 - or even $100 as Souter tries to twist it - is not a burdensome expense, nor can it be considered a poll tax. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/28/2008 at 02:30 PM   
Filed Under: • Government •  
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Linky pass along

A neat link sent to me by Rancino, who may have found it over at IMAO.us, who got it from reader TBinSTL, who found it at ...

SuperSlave - Black & White On The Grey Matters

It a series of videos by a young Conservative guy. They are long, and down to earth. I listened to all of them, and I can’t argue hardly at all with what he’s got to say. The only issue he hasn’t really focused on yet is media bias. Oh yeah, and OMG, he’s like, totally black. Like that matters. Well done.

Extra credit for the first commenter to identify the movie quote in this post.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/28/2008 at 02:03 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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calendar   Saturday - April 26, 2008

The Other Side Of Pat

Another Pat Condell video. You might not like it, but it should get a reaction out of you, one way or the other. Herein Pat talks about spirituality vs. religion. Is he right or is he wrong, and if so, where? Have at it in the comments.




Pat Condell: The Curse Of Religion

On Pat’s MySpace page for this video, one commenter pasted in an Emo Phillips joke, which seems relavent:

“I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?” He said, “Baptist!” I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?” He said, “Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?” He said,”Reformed Baptist Church of God!” I said, “Me too! Are you reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off.”


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/26/2008 at 03:09 PM   
Filed Under: • Religion •  
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The Rumors Were Correct

Chinese Arms Ship Goes To Angola

This is an update to a post that’s been ongoing for a week or so. Zimbabwe’s tinpot dictator, Robert Mugabe, has ordered a large arms shipment from China. Millions of rounds of 7.62x39, RPGs, and mortars. It has been delayed by dockworkers in South Africa who refused to unload it. Coincidentaly, the election results in Zimbabwe have still not been released, and Mugabe is rumored to have lost hugely. The ship, the An Yue Jian, left South Africa the other day with the message “next stop Mozambique”. This was a ruse, obviously. The ship has now docked in Angola, which is on the other side of the continent.

Angola’s government has authorised a Chinese ship carrying arms destined for Zimbabwe to dock, although it says it will not be allowed to unload weapons.  In a statement, the government said the vessel would only be allowed to deliver goods intended for Angola.  On Thursday, the Chinese authorities said they would recall the ship to China after port workers in South Africa refused to unload the weapons.  Other southern African countries had also refused to allow the ship to dock. Leaders in the region had expressed concern that the weapons could heighten tensions in Zimbabwe.
...
The state news agency, Angop, said the ship, the An Yue Jiang, had been authorised to dock in the capital Luanda.  But it can only unload “merchandise destined for Angola”, a government statement said.
Angola is a close ally of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

On Thursday, a Chinese foreign ministry official said the ship, which reportedly contains three million rounds of ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and 2,500 mortar rounds, might return to China.

The US had urged China to recall the An Yue Jiang, while the UK called for an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe.  Zambia’s president urged African countries not to let the arms in. But Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper condemned the country’s neighbours as “myopic stooges” for refusing to let the cargo dock.

“Zimbabwe is… under attack from the former coloniser and its allies. As such, Zimbabwe probably needs to arm itself more than any other country in Africa today,” the paper said.

This news seems to contradict another story that came out today that said the ship was going to be recalled. Somebody isn’t telling the truth!

So they’ll only let in things destined for Angola huh? That’s really interesting, because the manifest mentioned the other day didn’t include any cargo for Angola. Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Botswana, but no mention of Angola. This smells rotten. Maybe “only cargo destined for Angola” means they bought the arms and will just resell them to Mugabe (at a minor 200% markup of course)? And it’s damned funny that the election results are still being kept secret.

Stay tuned to the story folks, there’s going to be a bloodbath in Zimbabwe in another week or so.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/26/2008 at 12:57 AM   
Filed Under: • Africa •  
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