Today in Iraq, 30 August 2011

Reuters reports (via trust.org):

BAQUBA – A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded three policemen when it went off in southern Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, police said.

HILLA – Police found the burnt bodies of a government employee and his wife inside their house on Monday in central Hilla, 100 km (62 miles) south of Baghdad, a police source said. The source said an initial investigation showed they had been killed by a sharp weapon before being set alight. (Compiled by Baghdad bureau)

Quote of the day:

After an incident where a vehicle failed to comply with directions while attempting to pass through a gate, “You try your damnedest to make this thing idiot proof, and they go and build a better idiot.”

It has been 3,087 days since the Invasion of Iraq.

The Science Guy vs Fox, Round Two

On August 29th Bill Nye made a return appearance on FOX News hot on the heels on “Moon Volcano” affair in which the pundit, Charles Payne, attempted to shun away Global Warming with anecdotal evidence; in this case Hurricane Irene.

Mr. Nye goes on to give a great breakdown on basic science while Mr. Payne attempts to talk around him and toss some dirt towards Al Gore.

David over at VideoCafe has the video hosted and some choice quotes. The video is well worth a viewing if just for the one instance where Mr. Payne admits that the world is warming up. The most minuscule of admissions, but one more than you normally see on that network.

Israel Makes Risky Security Decision

Concerns of Palestinian protests against nearby Jewish Settlements over the upcoming U.N. bid for Palestinian statehood has prompted the Israeli Army to make some risky security decisions.

A plan is in progress to train and arm settlers with non-lethal munitions to support army personnel with the defense of the settlements. The army has also established two virtual “trigger lines” surrounding settlements with nearby Palestinian villages. The first line of defense is a trigger to launch non-lethal munitions including tear gas with a second “Red” trigger line to initiate lethal rounds against the extremities of the protestors. Now the source on this is Al Jazeera but, Israeli sources have confirmed that lethal force is authorized for defensive actions, which is in the eye of the beholder.

My problem with this strategy is twofold. First, the settlers and Palestinians have a rough history, worse than the Israeli Army’s as they have been neighbors long enough to get some old fashion blood feuds going. Many Palestinians claim that Settlers are known to shoot locals and the police / security forces are apt to let the investigation go cold. Non-Lethal weapons can kill and are incredibly dangerous in green hands, a malicious person can do a fatal amount of damage fast and I am sure an angry mob would react poorly to watching one of their own go down like that.

Secondly, if the red trigger line is crossed, no doubt many of the protestors will die. In the stress of battle, armed and in full kit, with an angry mob scaring the Moses outta you; perfect accuracy will be difficult. Some people will take rounds either center mass or to the head, not to mention the wounded who will die due to infection and inadequate medical care. And Zeus forgive what could happen if some of the protestors bring guns.

There is no easy answer for this one and I will watch and hope for the best. Israel finds itself uncomfortably sitting on a powder keg and lets hope no one brings matches.

Today in Iraq, 29 August 2011

Reuters reports (via trust.org):

BAGHDAD – Three policemen on a foot patrol were killed by armed men in a speeding car in eastern Baghdad, according to hospital and police officials.

FALLUJA – A parked car bomb went off in the centre of Falluja city, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, targeting an Iraqi army patrol, wounding seven soldiers and nine civilians sitting in a nearby cafe, according to local police.

MOSUL – A parked car bomb killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded nine people, including a traffic policeman, when it went off in the northern outskirts of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – Police found the body of a young man with gunshot wounds to his head and chest in the western outskirts of Mosul, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb went off and wounded five people, including two policemen, in the Zaafaraniya district of south-eastern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.

BAGHDAD – A parked car bomb blew up near a mosque in south-western Baghdad late on Sunday, killing one person and wounding eight others, an Interior Ministry source said. (Compiled by Baghdad bureau)

Quote of the day:

Scrawled on the shitter door, “Reason # 25 for ‘Why I can’t wait to go home’; My roommate’s hourly masturbation schedule. You would think a Major wouldn’t have that amount of time…or himself… on his hands…”

It has been 3,086 days since the Invasion of Iraq.

Islamophobia is Stupid

So, Fox news is using the 9/11 Ten Year Anniversary to shamelessly stoke the flames of hatred over the Park 51 Islamic Community Center at the expense of thousands of dead Americans. According to Media Matters, it started on fox news with a link to a Wall Street Journal Article and the headline:

Bloomberg Bans Clergy From 9/11 Ceremony but Ground Zero Mosque OK

Dishonest point number 1, the WSJ article does not mention the Mosque.

Thus churns the perpetual motion machine that is Fox News, soon a regular conservative blogger picked up the story and it ended up on Fox and Friends by the end of the day; discussing the news that they had started in the first place, you know the drill; dishonest point number 2.

But what gets me is the whole concept of Islamophobia, it strikes me as both anti-American and pants-on-head-retarded. First and foremost, it is just good old fashion American bigotry with an equal helping of American historical ignorance. The right loves to blast the newcomers and decry their strange ways yet always seem to forget that America is a melting pot…that isn’t white.

But I don’t think the melting is happening enough for Fox news viewers and it won’t. Let’s face it, if you’re an Arab-American immigrant, you are very likely to hold to your culture and gravitate towards other Arabs. America is a big scary place and you would want to seek groups with a common bond. So we are not going to fully “Americanize” the fresh off the boat immigrants, but that is never how populations integrate into our culture. It takes generations of popular culture, MTV, and pre-marital sex. But I guess it’s not happening fast enough for the right to show our new American brothers and sisters any semblance of kindness.

Let me clearly state this, if you are against the building of a Mosque anywhere on private property in the United States, I declare you to be a coward. You are just a craven who is too terrified of the other side to let the other side even speak. Even when what you fear so much does not exist. I know Muslims; I live, eat, and work with them every day. I even attend Muslim prayer, since a bit of meditation always is nice and “When in Rome.” There is no great plan to take over Christendom just as there is no great Christian plan to convert all Muslims. Sure they may be some individuals that desire that, but internal factions and infighting prevent Muslims and Christians alike from mass jihad / crusades. The simple truth is that people who oppose free expression of religion on private property lack sufficient faith in their beliefs to be able to turn the other cheek.

Clergy was banned from the 9/11 anniversary because it is a government event and members of most faiths and secular alike died in the terrible attacks. So ALL clergy was banned, including Imams. Why should we bring your all loving, all seeing, and all powerful deities to the event? If they existed, they had a hand in 9/11 as much as any terrorist.

If you have a real beef with Violent Extremist Networks, your nearest recruiter is right down the street and I will have room for you in a patrol as soon as you get here. But you won’t because you’re a fucking pussy.

Forget UFOs, Watch Out for UAVs

Sometime Last Thursday before this deployment, we had a little game we used to play. Some of my army buddies and I would climb the nearby mountains and spend the day observing Juarez (being Scouts after all). We had great fun watching the TTPs of the warring drug cartels and critiquing their work. One day we noticed a small object flying over the city, swooping low and then orbiting certain areas. Upon a closer look we figured it was some time of modified RC plane or ad hoc UAV.

Then at this year’s Black Hat, researchers Mike Tassey and Richard Perkins unveiled their drone, made from commercially available parts.

This drone plane runs on Arduino and would cost you $6,000. This drone is based on FMQ-117B U.S. Army target drone and equipped it with Wi-Fi and hacking tools — IMSI catcher and antenna to spoof a GSM cell tower and hack calls. What’s more? It can launch a dictionary attack on the network using its database of 340million words.

The device onboard tricks phones to disable encryption, and records call details and content before they’re routed to their intended receiver through VoIP or redirected to anywhere else the hacker wants to send them.

So sooner rather than later, expect the face of cyber and actual crime to experience a similar rapid evolution as the military has in the use of these powerful tools. As they used to say on Rationalwiki.org, “TK can see your house from here,” and soon anybody will be able to do that and more. Tinfoil hats may yet come back in style.

Today in Iraq, 28 August 2011

Reuters reports (via trust.org):

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded one policeman and two civilians in the central district of Karrada in Baghdad, an interior ministry source said.

MOSUL – A bomb attached to the car of an off-duty policeman killed him and wounded four other policemen who were travelling with him in central Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, a local police source said. The source said the off-duty policeman was dropping his colleagues home after work when the incident occurred.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb went off and wounded two civilians in Baghdad’s southeastern Zaafaraniya district, an interior ministry source said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb wounded two civilians when it exploded in northwestern Baghdad, a security source said.

TUZ KHURMATO – A roadside bomb targeted the vehicle of police Major Mohammed Taqi, wounding him, his bodyguard and a passer-by in central Tuz Khurmato, 170 km (105 miles) north of Baghdad, police and hospital sources said.

JALAWLA – Gunmen in a speeding car opened fire at the car of local government official, killing him and his driver, in Jalawla, 115 km (70 miles) northeast of Baghdad on Saturday night, a local official and a police source said. (Compiled by Baghdad bureau)

Quote of the day:

“Remember gentlemen, smile, be nice, and be prepared to kill everyone you meet”

It has been 3,085 days since the Invasion of Iraq.

 

KBR Sucks

For a few days, I found myself thinking the unthinkable, “Gods damn it,” I said to myself. “I miss KBR.” A few weeks of being back on US rations was enough to whitewash the litany of sketchy stuff the company has committed in Iraq, a few of my favorites being; cost plus exploitation via burn pits, showers electrocuting Soldiers, failing to treat drinking water for any foreign organisms or viruses, washing our clothes in dirty sewage water, hiring prostitutes to service their employees, and failing to provide their employees with any of the training or education necessary for survival… the list goes on.

But I guess when you go from eating crab legs to brown slop, you find yourself in a forgiving mood. Until I read this story, and thankfully all that hate filled my black little heart all over again.

KBR is suing a woman who claimed that she was raped while working in Iraq for KBR in 2005.

Jamie Leigh Jones lost her 145 million dollar suit last month and now KBR is seeking 2 million from her for their defense fees. Even though the jury did not decide in Jones’ favor, her claim strikes me as very possibly true given the company’s shady nature. They already screw Johnny Taxpayer over for millions, and there is a history of sexual crimes in Iraq to boot. But, I guess KBR wants to make a point to its employees, shut up or you will face our crack legal team and we will go after you.

If you are not familiar with contracting in Iraq, the film Iraq for Sale is available on YouTube. Watch it, because if you’re an American, you are paying for it.

Sean Hannity is a Liar, Ann Coulter is an IDiot, and Other Predictable One Liners

Sean “Earmuffs” Hannity must hate Media Matters, I mean fuck those nerds; sitting at home compiling cold hard facts to refute his emotional assertions. Judging by his behavior, I assume he is at least as narcissistic and egomaniacal as I am and I sure as Hades would be fuming if I was in his shoes.

Today’s lie was asserting that Austin Goolsbee was incorrect in his assessment of American job growth.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER OBAMA ADVISOR: Over the 17 months, wait take the 17 months where we’re actually growing fairly robustly -

HANNITY: Growing? We’re losing 400,000 jobs a month!

GOOLSBEE: Before the events at the beginning of this year –

HANNITY: We’re losing –

GOOLSBEE: We added 2.5 million, we added 2.5 million jobs. When the president [took] office, we’re losing almost 800,000 a month. When we slow that down and turn it around, we add 2.5 million. It has taken longer than we anticipated, there’s no question about that, you’re correct.

Mr. Goolsbee’s sources: The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Department of Labor. Mr. Hannity’s source his gut, a case study of truthiness in practice.

Ann Coulter has picked up the Anti-Science banner of the willfully ignorant +2 and has started ranting about how evolution is clearly a liberal lie. She falls back on old creationist memes, irreducible complexity, quotes Behe, and implies that Evolution is pushed because of the requirement of a ‘liberal creation myth’. While simultaneously recruiting Galileo to her side and asserting Modern science has disproved evolution. When you think about the contempt Coulter must have for humanity, you heart has to ache. Because for her to be right, all biological and medical scientists the world over must be engaged in a Herculean effort of deception. I on the other hand don’t assume that the majority of our fellow humans so morally lacking as to lie constantly, but I don’t watch a lot of Fox. Yet what can you really expect from Coulter; she has a degree in Law, so arguments for arguments sake is her bread and butter; facts need not apply.

PZ has already covered her completely erroneous concept of microbiology, but one should never pass up an opportunity to point out that both these assholes are so smug, they smell their own farts. That and I really don’t think a lack of a creation story would bother me as Atheist, their side is the one that requires creation; I am satisfied in my knowledge that the things I don’t know far exceed what I could possibly hope to comprehend in a million lifetimes yet, I CAN say with some degree of certainty that both of these people are filled to the brim with bullshit.