Monthly Archives: January 2010
The US is dispatching Patriot defensive missiles to four countries – Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait – and keeping two ships in the Gulf capable of shooting down Iranian missiles. Washington is also helping Saudi Arabia develop a force to protect its oil installations.
Tension between the US and Iran heightened dramatically today with the disclosure that Barack Obama is deploying a missile shield to protect American allies in the Gulf from attack by Tehran.
American officials said the move is aimed at deterring an attack by Iran and reassuring Gulf states fearful that Tehran might react to sanctions by striking at US allies in the region. Washington is also seeking to discourage Israel from a strike against Iran by demonstrating that the US is prepared to contain any threat.
The deployment comes after Obama’s attempts to emphasise diplomacy over confrontation in dealing with Iran – a contrast to the Bush administration’s approach – have failed to persuade Tehran to open its nuclear installations to international controls. The White House is now trying to engineer agreement for sanctions focused on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, believed to be in charge of the atomic programme.
Washington has not formally announced the deployment of the Patriots and other anti-missile systems, but by leaking it to American newspapers the administration is evidently seeking to alert Tehran to a hardening of its position.
The administration is deploying two Patriot batteries, capable of shooting down incoming missiles, in each of the four Gulf countries. Kuwait already has an older version of the missile, deployed after Iraq’s invasion. Saudi Arabia has long had the missiles, as has Israel.
An unnamed senior administration official told the New York Times: “Our first goal is to deter the Iranians. A second is to reassure the Arab states, so they don’t feel they have to go nuclear themselves. But there is certainly an element of calming the Israelis as well.”
Petraeus said the US is keeping cruisers equipped with advanced anti-missile systems in the Gulf at all times to act as a buffer between Iran and the Gulf states.
Washington is also concerned at the threat of action by Israel, which is predicting that Iran will be able to build a nuclear missile within a year, a much faster timetable than assessed by the US, and is warning that it will not let Tehran come close to completion if diplomacy fails.
The director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, met the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and other senior officials in Jerusalem last week to discuss Iran.
Pro-Israel lobby groups in the US have joined Republican party leaders in trying to build public pressure on the administration to take a tougher line with Iran. One group, the Israel Project, has been running a TV campaign warning that Iran might supply nuclear weapons to terrorists.
“Imagine Washington DC under missile attack from nearby Baltimore,” it says. “A nuclear Iran is a threat to peace, emboldens extremists, and could give nuclear materials to terrorists with the ability to strike anywhere.”
Washington is also concerned that if Iran is able to build nuclear weapons, other states in the region will feel the need to follow. Israel is the only country in the Middle East to already have atomic bombs, although it does not officially acknowledge it.
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said in London last week that the US will press for additional sanctions against Iran if it fails to curb its nuclear program.
Europe’s foreign affairs minister, Catherine Ashton, today said the UN security council should now take up the issue. “We are worried about what’s happening in Iran. I’m disappointed at the failure of Iran to accept the dialogue and we now need to look again at what needs to happen there,” she told Sky News.
“The next step for us is to take our discussions into the security council. When I was meeting with Hillary Clinton last week we talked about Iran and we were very clear this is a problem we will have to deal with.”
However, China and Russia are still pressing for a diplomatic solution.
Tony Blair, Middle East envoy on behalf of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU, continually referred to what he described as the Iranian threat during his evidence at the Chilcot inquiry last Friday. Textual analysis now shows that he mentioned Iran 58 times.
Besides the new missile deployment, Washington is also helping Saudi Arabia to create a 30,000-strong force to protect oil installations and other infrastructure, as well as expanded joint exercises between the US and military forces in the region.
The move is a continuation of the military build-up begun under former president George W Bush. In the past two years, Abu Dhabi has bought $17bn (£11bn) worth of weapons from the US, including the Patriot anti-missile batteries and an advanced anti-missile system. UAE recently bought 80 US-made fighter jets. It is also buying fighters from France.
Petraeus said in a speech in Bahrain last year the UAE air force “could take out the entire Iranian air force, I believe”.
Patriot missiles are designed to intercept enemy missiles before they reach their target. Since production began in 1980, 9,000 missiles have been delivered to countries including Germany, Greece, Taiwan and Japan.
During the first Gulf war Patriot success was 70% in Saudi Arabia and 40% in Israel. Since then the US has spent more than $10bn (£6.3bn) improving, among other aspects, the system’s radar and computer compatibility for joint forces action. Once in position, the system requires a crew of only three people to operate. Each missile weighs 700kg and has a range of about 100 miles.
The US navy is in the process of upgrading all its Ticonderoga class cruisers and a number of destroyers to carry the Aegis ballistic missile defence system. It uses a surface-to-air missile that is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles above the atmosphere. It has also been tested on failing satellites as they fall to earth. Each missile is over 6m long and costs more than $9m.
I saw the interview, and I have fully read this article. Let me translate for you what Obama, Gibbs and Pelosi really mean to say. LETS SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN NOVEMBER. In the mean time, lets just do things incrementally, and convince Americans that we have changed our ways and are now open and receptive to the republicans that we have virtually locked out of the last year of politics in Washington. Once we get the fools of America back on our side, we will go back to our socialist ways. That’s what they are really saying. JD
Washington (CNN) — Democratic efforts to pass a health care bill have stalled a bit, and the immediate focus may be shifting toward health insurance reform instead of quickly trying to pass a comprehensive bill, White House officials signaled Sunday.
Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that passing a health care bill was “still inside the five-yard line.” His comment pulled back the assessment several weeks ago by David Axelrod, the senior adviser to President Obama, that the bill was on the one-yard line, which in football would mean it was close to passing.
On the NBC program “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Axelrod referred to the issue as health insurance reform when talking about next steps.
“The American people aren’t saying let’s walk away from health insurance reform,” Axelrod said, citing problems such as rising costs, people denied health coverage for pre-existing conditions, and people losing coverage when they become seriously ill.
Asked about a comment by Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana that the health care bill was on life support, Axelrod said, “I hope that’s not the case” for tens of millions of Americans who lack health coverage or are otherwise “disadvantaged” in their relationship with insurance companies.
Democratic hopes to get a bill to Obama’s desk by now were derailed by the Republicans’ upset win in the January 19 special election in Massachusetts to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.
The win stripped Democrats of their 60-vote Senate supermajority and gave Republicans enough votes to block most legislation in the chamber. Democrats, who were in the process of combining previously passed House and Senate bills at the time of the election, have been struggling since to come up with a new legislative strategy.
Republicans remain unanimously opposed to the Democratic health care bills, causing Democratic leaders in Congress last week to caution against a quick resolution.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress “must take whatever time it takes” to pass a bill, while Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, said passing a bill was unlikely before spring or summer.
The American people aren’t saying let’s walk away from health insurance reform.
Pelosi, D-California, described a two-step process in which the House would likely vote in coming weeks on a series of specific health care provisions that have popular support. At the same time, Pelosi said, work would continue on finding a way to pass a more comprehensive overhaul later.
The idea was to demonstrate continued momentum for some of the most important aspects of health care reform, Pelosi said.
“That doesn’t mean that it is a substitute for doing comprehensive” legislation, Pelosi said. “It means we will move on many fronts, any front we can.”
Pelosi declined to identify which provisions the House might vote on separately, but said “they can move quickly.”
House Democrats believe that moving forward with some health care reforms that the public favors would demonstrate their resolve to work on a top priority issue during a congressional election year.
However, several Democratic aides acknowledged it was unclear if the Senate also would pass the piecemeal health care measures.
On Sunday, Gibbs was noncommittal when asked if Obama was considering breaking the health care bill into smaller measures that might be able to gain bipartisan support.
“I don’t think we know yet the answer on the process of this,” Gibbs told CNN.
Another strategy has House Democrats negotiating several changes to the Senate’s health care bill in order to get enough support to pass it in the House.
The bill then would go back to the Senate for a vote in the Senate under rules allowing approval by a simple majority, according to the House Democrats’ plan.
House Democrats object to a provision worked in by Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson that exempts his state from paying increased Medicaid expenses, and a 40 percent excise tax on insurance companies that provide the most expensive health insurance coverage.
The White House has negotiated with labor leaders to modify the tax plan for expensive health care policies by exempting many health plans covering union workers until 2017.
Republicans continued to criticize Democrats for seeking to move forward with a plan they say the American people have rejected in recent elections.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the Democratic bills passed by the House and Senate would give the government too large a role in the health care system.
“The American people are smart enough to do business on their own,” said Boehner.
In the Senate, some liberal Democrats have urged Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to use a legislative tool known as reconciliation, which would allow some components of the health care bill to pass with only 51 votes.
Several progressive activists held a news conference Wednesday urging the Senate to pass a package of changes through the reconciliation process. Under that scenario, the House would then pass both the original Senate bill and the package of changes passed through reconciliation.
Some Democratic sources warn, however, that using reconciliation is complicated and fraught with legislative hurdles, raising questions about whether it could happen even if enough congressional Democrats supported the move.
Other Democrats in tough re-election fights worry voters would see such a move as legislative gimmickry, reinforcing complaints that Democratic control of Washington has been business as usual.
I found this on the Times UK website. It seems to be the only place to find any headline stories about the global warming hoax. I especially like the part of the article where they discuss how there is no balance in the global warming community, because as far as these so called experts are concerned, there is no opposition. They are right. Ed.
The United Nations’ expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world’s mountain tops on a student’s dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.
The revelation will cause fresh embarrassment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had to issue a humiliating apology earlier this month over inaccurate statements about global warming.
The IPCC’s remit is to provide an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence on climate change.
In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information.
However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.
The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.
The revelations, uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, have raised fresh questions about the quality of the information contained in the report, which was published in 2007.
It comes after officials for the panel were forced earlier this month to retract inaccurate claims in the IPCC’s report about the melting of Himalayan glaciers.
Sceptics have seized upon the mistakes to cast doubt over the validity of the IPCC and have called for the panel to be disbanded.
This week scientists from around the world leapt to the defence of the IPCC, insisting that despite the errors, which they describe as minor, the majority of the science presented in the IPCC report is sound and its conclusions are unaffected.
But some researchers have expressed exasperation at the IPCC’s use of unsubstantiated claims and sources outside of the scientific literature.
Professor Richard Tol, one of the report’s authors who is based at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, Ireland, said: “These are essentially a collection of anecdotes.
“Why did they do this? It is quite astounding. Although there have probably been no policy decisions made on the basis of this, it is illustrative of how sloppy Working Group Two (the panel of experts within the IPCC responsible for drawing up this section of the report) has been.
“There is no way current climbers and mountain guides can give anecdotal evidence back to the 1900s, so what they claim is complete nonsense.”
The IPCC report, which is published every six years, is used by government’s worldwide to inform policy decisions that affect billions of people.
The claims about disappearing mountain ice were contained within a table entitled “Selected observed effects due to changes in the cryosphere produced by warming”.
It states that reductions in mountain ice have been observed from the loss of ice climbs in the Andes, Alps and in Africa between 1900 and 2000.
The report also states that the section is intended to “assess studies that have been published since the TAR (Third Assessment Report) of observed changes and their effects”.
But neither the dissertation or the magazine article cited as sources for this information were ever subject to the rigorous scientific review process that research published in scientific journals must undergo.
The magazine article, which was written by Mark Bowen, a climber and author of two books on climate change, appeared in Climbing magazine in 2002. It quoted anecdotal evidence from climbers of retreating glaciers and the loss of ice from climbs since the 1970s.
Mr Bowen said: “I am surprised that they have cited an article from a climbing magazine, but there is no reason why anecdotal evidence from climbers should be disregarded as they are spending a great deal of time in places that other people rarely go and so notice the changes.”
The dissertation paper, written by professional mountain guide and climate change campaigner Dario-Andri Schworer while he was studying for a geography degree, quotes observations from interviews with around 80 mountain guides in the Bernina region of the Swiss Alps.
Experts claim that loss of ice climbs are a poor indicator of a reduction in mountain ice as climbers can knock ice down and damage ice falls with their axes and crampons.
The IPCC has faced growing criticism over the sources it used in its last report after it emerged the panel had used unsubstantiated figures on glacial melting in the Himalayas that were contained within a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report.
It can be revealed that the IPCC report made use of 16 non-peer reviewed WWF reports.
One claim, which stated that coral reefs near mangrove forests contained up to 25 times more fish numbers than those without mangroves nearby, quoted a feature article on the WWF website.
In fact the data contained within the WWF article originated from a paper published in 2004 in the respected journal Nature.
In another example a WWF paper on forest fires was used to illustrate the impact of reduced rainfall in the Amazon rainforest, but the data was from another Nature paper published in 1999.
When The Sunday Telegraph contacted the lead scientists behind the two papers in Nature, they expressed surprise that their research was not cited directly but said the IPCC had accurately represented their work.
The chair of the IPCC Rajendra Pachauri has faced mounting pressure and calls for his resignation amid the growing controversy over the error on glacier melting and use of unreliable sources of information.
A survey of 400 authors and contributors to the IPCC report showed, however, that the majority still support Mr Pachauri and the panel’s vice chairs. They also insisted the overall findings of the report are robust despite the minor errors.
But many expressed concern at the use of non-peer reviewed information in the reports and called for a tightening of the guidelines on how information can be used.
The Met Office, which has seven researchers who contributed to the report including Professor Martin Parry who was co-chair of the working group responsible for the part of the report that contained the glacier errors, said: “The IPCC should continue to ensure that its review process is as robust and transparent as possible, that it draws only from the peer-reviewed literature, and that uncertainties in the science and projections are clearly expressed.”
Roger Sedjo, a senior research fellow at the US research organisation Resources for the Future who also contributed to the IPCC’s latest report, added: “The IPCC is, unfortunately, a highly political organisation with most of the secretariat bordering on climate advocacy.
“It needs to develop a more balanced and indeed scientifically sceptical behaviour pattern. The organisation tend to select the most negative studies ignoring more positive alternatives.”
The IPCC failed to respond to questions about the inclusion of unreliable sources in its report but it has insisted over the past week that despite minor errors, the findings of the report are still robust and consistent with the underlying science.
Last week was a great week in American politics. We had the democrats reeling from a stunning slap in the face with the Massachusetts election of Scott Brown. We had a sudden smile on the face of the Washington republicans, and the transformation of our beloved President Barack Obama.
The transformation of Obama came in waves. The first wave was the contrite Obama. Obama was all over the media saying he was sorry for not “listening to the people.” Just a few short hours later, we had the angry Obama wave, where Obama was telling all that would listen that he “is going to fight for what Americans want and need.” Then just a few short hours after that, we had “the blaming Obama wave” where Obama was hell bent on blaming republicans for all that was wrong in Washington. The President used words like “Obstructionist” and “isolating.”
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, who first had all but given up on health care reform, was all over the news telling Americans that we would have health care reform whether Americans wanted it or not. I guess the polls that meant so much to Pelosi just a few short weeks before now meant nothing, because they were no longer showing public support for health care reform.
Then there is the amazing John McCain, who is struggling to keep his seat back in Arizona, running about the news networks trying to revise history about a whole multitude of issues, from McCain Finegold to his original position on health care reform. Note to Arizona voters; if it takes voting for the democrat to get McCain out of Washington, then by all means do so. McCain has been a sellout to you Arizona conservatives for years now.
All the while the national media has been putting up story after story in a desperate attempt to inflate President Obama’s sinking numbers. Health care reform that was seemingly dead and is still dead, is grabbing headlines because of a probable attempt at reconciliation in the senate.
For those of you too worried about how you are going pay your bills to know what reconciliation means, this is where the democrats make an end run and use just 52 votes to pass one of the most unpopular bills to come down the pipe in years.
Back in Washington . . . er . . . wherever Obama might be jetting off to at the tax payers expense, Obama seems to suddenly care about the economy and jobs, instead of health care reform and getting the Olympic Games in Chicago in 2016.
On Thursday it was learned that Nancy Peosi spent two million dollars last year flying about the world on her tax payer financed private jet, and more than one hundred thousand dollars on food and drink for her and her staff. That’s ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS, and get this, on that tab were some of the finest foods in the world as well as the finest liquors.
Where is Hillary Clinton, the person that I considered to be the best candidate for the job of President of the United States? She wasn’t at the State of the Union Address. Ironically enough, she has remained above all of the controversy and been doing a good job as secretary of state.
Good day. JD