Tuesday, January 31, 2006

UPDATE- Moscow Response to U.S. Star Wars Defense: Bulava Missiles

President Vladimir Putin boasted Tuesday that Russia has missiles capable of penetrating any missile defense system, Russian news reports said.

Putin said the new missiles were capable of changing both the altitude and direction of flight, making impossible enemy interception success. "A missile defense system is designed to counter missiles moving along a ballistic trajectory," Putin was quoted as saying. Putin claims Russia's Bulava missiles easily change trajectories during flight, as required.

Will Russia place the new missiles on its submarines? Putin said the new missiles were capable of carrying nuclear warheads. He wouldn't say whether the Russian military already had commissioned any such missiles., but as Molten Eagle note 4 days ago here, Russian is laying the keel of the third strategic submarine of the new Borey-class, constructed to carry the new solid-propellant, 10-warhead maneuverable Bulava missiles.

The Bulava missile (RSM-56) fits modified Typhoon submarines. Moscow has not publicized the solid-fuel missile’s payload, but general speculation is it carries 10 nuclear warheads. Three new Project 955 (Borey-class) submarines are undergoing construction to be outfitted with the missiles, by 2007.

Project 955 is smaller than Project 941 (shown above) 101 and its silhouette is similar to Project 667 BDRM (a.k.a. Delta IV, a.k.a. Delphin). Like Project 667 BDRM, Project 955's missile tubes are located behind the sail; Borey will carry 12 SLBMs (Project 667 BDRM: 16, Project 941: 20). Project 955's abovewater displacement is estimated by U.S. sources at 18,000 to 20,000 tons. 103. Its underwater displacement is actually smaller than even that of Project 667 BDRM at some 17, 100 tons (667 BDRM: 18,200 tons, 941: 48,000 tons). 104


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Interesting News You May Have Missed

Democrat Challenger for Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Next Big Thing Definitely following in Arnold's footsteps. Valuev is boxing's tallest and heaviest champion ever and, although a hero of Russia, has a German promoter, Wilfried Sauerland. Now known as the Beast from the East (promoter Don King wants to call him King Kong when he defends his U.S. title). Valuev reads Tolstoy and writes poetry to his wife. Like Arnold, Valuev has had a bit of controversy in his past:
I saw a huge man holding a small man with his left hand by the back of his jacket collar. The head of the small man was all hidden inside the jacket, while the big man was hitting him on the head, quickly and viciously," said Alexander Legoshin, 58.

Nikolay Valuev:
Height: 7-0
Weight: 323 lbs.
Reach: 85 in.

Idle Threat?
China opposes IRAN sanctions. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Russia’s offer to enrich Iranian uranium in Russia should be considered less complicated.

A day earlier, Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Robert Zoellick had warned China it would be “extremely dangerous” for its Middle East oil supplies to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. He advised China to steer in a different direction.

Payvand's Iran News ...
There are many among us who argue against US-Iran negotiations and normal diplomatic relations, which they think would help the regime to stay in power longer, further abuse human rights, and continue to forestall democratic change. They must be reminded that absence of the US from Iran in the last 26 years has not helped their cause; and that no country has ever become democratic in the absence of normal diplomatic relations with the US.

Schwarzenegger has never granted clemency to a condemned inmate.

Former Whitewater independent counsel (currently dean of Pepperdine University law school) Kenneth Starr asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday to spare the life of a death row inmate Michael Morales, who has apologized repeatedly for the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl in 1981. Morales, 46, is scheduled to be executed Feb. 21.

Molten Eagle: Lawyer Ken Starr's star just went down.

Al-Qaeda Counterfeit Passport Ring Busted (Colombia, S.A.)
Colombia dismantled a false passport ring linked to al-Qaida militants, the acting attorney general said Thursday after authorities led dozens of simultaneous raids across five cities.
The gang allegedly supplied an unknown number of citizens from Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and other countries with false passports and Colombian nationality without them ever stepping foot in the country, the attorney general's office said in a written statement. The counterfeited passports were then used to facilitate their entry into the United States and Europe. Nineteen people were arrested in Thursday's raids, carried out in collaboration with U.S. authorities, the attorney general's office said.

Authorities first suspected the existence of a criminal gang in 2002, when three Iraqi citizens were captured entering Colombia on false Israeli passports, the attorney general's statement said.

Molten Eagle: The NSA's controversial telephone eavesdropping allegedly began in 2002, too.

Vladimir Putin last September said that Russia was developing new strategic high-precision systems that can alter course and height during flight. The purpose behind such capabilities is to make a warhead a more elusive target for anti-missile systems such as the U.S. Star Wars program. The Washington Times had reported Nov. 21st that U.S. officials confirmed a vehicle that “can change course and range."

Now, Russia's Sevmash plant will commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Russian submarine fleet by laying the keel of the third strategic submarine of the new Borey-class, Interfax reported. The new submarine’s name will reportedly be Vladimir Monomach and is constructed to carry the new solid-propellant, 10-warhead maneuverable Bulava missiles.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Breaths of Able Danger

Molten Eagle first trumpeted attention to Able Danger with The Hero of the 9-11 Commission Was Max Cleland. Note Cleland is a disabled veteran and an avowed Democrat. Partisanship has no place at Molten Eagle since I remain an avowed independent (conservative albeit).

Cleland predicted that the 9-11 Commission was a cover up (of Able Danger). He wanted no part of it, stating, "I'm not going to be part of that. I'm not going to be part of looking at information only partially. I'm not going to be part of just coming to quick conclusions. " He is heroic in my eyes. Recall that the operating rules for the 9-11 commission (detailed in above post) were very restrictive and limiting so nothing new or significant would emerge.

Why? Last October, Molten Eagle analyzed 3 reasons for cover up in Mr. Speaker, this is not America. The leading reason given must sound very familiar by now, as Pres. Bush cited it in his speech recently: "...we're not going to tell you how." Exposure risks revealing the capabilities of cutting-edge technology that currently allows the U.S. to predict emerging terrorist threats.

Now, lefties continue to misinterpret facts for purely political gain: White House flip-flopped on spy standards: "A Justice Department spokesman confirmed Wednesday the administration opposed changing the law in 2002 in part because it did not want to publicly debate the issue." Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., accused the administration of having tried "to paper over the legality of a secret, spying program. If they really believed the current law is too burdensome, the Bush administration should have asked Congress to change it, but they did not. Instead, a top lawyer in the Bush administration did just the opposite."

Senators Spector (R) and Leahy (D), are you unaware that patriots pay dearly to guard our nation's security secrets? Why would we appoint leaders and pay staffs of security agencies to conduct clandestine spying, if we were going to neutralize their chances of success by openly sharing important details with the legislative branch (and public)?

The Bush administration in 2002 made it sound to domestic (and international) terrorists that barriers to eavesdropping were not being lowered. Accordingly, terrorists continued to rely on their existing, communicative security measures -to their detriment. Even today, they can still only guess how to avoid being listened in to. Hooray!

As taxpayers, we should be greatful. Senators need term limits -all of them, regardless of party.


Ignore Rant: Gore '08 - An independent voter's bumper sticker suggestion

Ex-VP Al Gore may be a loser (sore loser by his sanity-challenged, public demeanor), but is he also a man far ahead of his time?

Consider his frequent rants, for instance. The former Army journalist makes mainstream news merely by bashing his political opponents. Can we say he was an entertainer before mainstream news became the largely entertainment and propaganda industry that it is today?

What about his technical expertise (recall his penetrating involvement with the internet, the environment, Climate Tepidness and arctic submarine exploration*). Clearly, the man's name appears as author of a few books and knowledge is no obstacle to his scientific brilliance. He is attracted to high technology as certainly as insects to a lighted bulb -instinctively.

What new high tech thriller can he write to top his previous, fear-mongoring best-sellers?
Cool heads would not choose Mr. Gore for the 2008 ticket. The guy wants to be nation's the environmental tzar, it seems. A cabinet appointment would be a step up for an eager guy like Al.

Republicans had better worry. With the skill of Hugo Chavez, Gore brandishes scant facts embellished with whatever sensational fiction emanates from Holywood. After Gore's quip to his personal connection in the 1970 film Love Story, writer Erich Segal corrected the record by saying both Gore and his Harvard roommate, actor Tommy Lee Jones, had served as models for Love Story's male protagonist, but that Segal did not base any character on Tipper, after all. (Nice VP face-saving, Erich Segal).

What will Gore's bumper stickers look like? Ignore Gore '08, or Ignore Rant by Gore '08?
Perhaps the DNC will offer a candidate with a hint of charisma and actual winning potential, instead.

* submarine H/T Gus Van Horn


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

India's Growing Pains: Watch This

India, which has few domestic sources of fuel, also plans to build a 1,750-mile gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan, a project that has raised concerns in Washington.


U.S. Ambassador David Mulford said that if India does not vote to refer Tehran to the U.N. Security Council, it would be "devastating" to the landmark nuclear deal between India and the United States currently before the U.S. Congress.

The deal? It was signed when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Washington last July and provides sharing civilian nuclear technology and supplying nuclear fuel to India in exchange for New Delhi allowing international inspections of military and civilian nuclear facilities. The United States has agreed only to recognize India's civilian nuclear program - not the legitimacy of the nuclear weapons state.

Stay tuned to the news for major developments in the coming weeks.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Looming Natural Disasters?

Suppose an advanced Earth civilization hundreds of thousands of years ago coped with the last Ice Age (the lengthy one, not the Little Ice Age) in a highly competent manner - by evacuating to another planetary refuge? Did they make it? Did they leave a message for posterity? Did they ever intend to return?

Who were left behind? Hint: the primitives (our ancestors). If you are reading this, no doubt you have the entire Web as your resource. Do some investigation and critical thinking; reach a tentaive conclusion and refine your data until you are reasonably satisfied in your answers. Then, you cannot stop, you must evaluate the impact of new information.

As Ovid said, Nil homini certum est (nothing is certain for man). Which seems fairly clear from this: Scientist Says Fault Activity Unclear earthquakes in the New Madrid Zone occur differently than those along other fault lines.
"This whole thing is a big enigma," Glen Mattioli (professor of geosciences at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences) said. "As far as we know, the reason we get earthquakes is because of applied stress related to the motion of plates."
But Mattioli said that reason doesn't apply along the New Madrid Fault. No theory has fully explained why large earthquakes may have occurred there, either, he said.

And we thought Katrina was the epitomy of catastrophy? We know paltry little about the history of our planet beyond the past few millenia. How often in the last 2,000 years have whales been in Londons Thames? We have no real answer, although it was supposed to be the first sighting in about 100 years. Global Warming does not have credibility.


German Submarine Spoof , WWII

Not a "caption contest". It is actually a sad and revealing commentary on the bravery of U-boot sailors and the current, liberal view of the military submarine's future. What event spawned this particular, political commentary now? Just a pun, we might think?


Monday, January 23, 2006

Maniacal Rhetoric from Ahmadinejad

"Undoubtedly, if the truths about Islam are taught correctly, most people will accept Islam," Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stressed Friday.

Ahmadinejad noted that Muslim scholars would be responsible for plans to administer countries and nations globally, adding "the day when Islam is correctly taught and an Islamic strategy is followed by societies would be the day of death of global arrogance."

Here is the key to understanding Ahmadinejad's angry mindset:
Noting the tremendous potential of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), he thinks enemies of Islam have weakened Muslim states so they currently depend on imports from non-Islamic states for 97% of imported goods and services.

On the precipice of referral to the UN Security Council for nuclear activities summarized by Secretary of State Rice in certain terms, "The referral absolutely has to be made." ...Iran must know that there is a firm international consensus against the activities that Iran is currently engaged in. We would all like to solve this diplomatically and we are all committed to doing so but Iran must recognize the concerns of the international community and has not done so."

Iran Threatens Enrichment if It's Referred
Iran will immediately retaliate if referred to the U.N. Security Council next week by forging ahead with developing a full-scale uranium enrichment program, a senior envoy said Monday.
Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh, a senior envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, reflected Iran's defiance in the face of growing international pressure over its nuclear program. Enrichment can be used in electricity production but it also is needed in making uranium-based nuclear weapons.

"If Ahmadinejad is arrogant enough without nuclear capability to threaten retaliation against the United Nations when Iran is not granted nuclear jihadi status, can there be any doubt about how maniacal his nuclear indiscretions would be?" -Molten Eagle.

Is Islam to blame for the relative backwardness of its 57 states? Not according to Ahmadinejad.
Another victim of centuries of sea-to-sea camel culture looking for a shortcut to a Caliphatic world.

President Ahmadinejad, ask Iran's citizens whom you intolerantly repress how arrogant the West is.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Terror Insurgents Arrested in U.S. - One Question

An 83-page, federal indictment has been returned against 11 American insurgents ( people fighting the government of their own country ) charged with 4 1/2 years of arson, vandalism, violence and destruction valued in millions of dollars in 5 western states.

Of 11 defendants named in the indictment, eight have been arrested. Three are still at large. Federal officials believe they left the country (Canada, of course) to avoid prosecution, according to the indictment.

As an independent voter (no party affiliation), Vigilis suspects that 91% of the admitted (and alleged) Eco-terrorists are registered Democrats. Someone, anyone please, prove me wrong. Otherwise, it is becoming fairly obvious what the Democrat party has come to represent, isn't it?


Thursday, January 19, 2006

11:45 BLT (bin Laden time)

According to the text of Osama's latest threat/truce offering, "... delay in carrying out similar operations in America, this was not due to failure to breach your security measures. Operations are under preparation, and you will see them on your own ground once they are finished (emphasis added), God willing. ...We do not object to a long-term truce with you on the basis of fair conditions that we respect. ...I swear not to die but a free man even if I taste the bitterness of death. I fear to be humiliated or betrayed."

Contrast the new, desperate message to al-Qaeda's March, 2004 threat babble: "...the terrorist group announced it preparations for an attack on the U.S. were 70 percent complete. That increased to 90 percent, according to an al Qaeda spokesman just after the March 11 terrorist attack in Madrid, Spain." So, for almost 2 years al-Qaeda has been at least 90% prepared to attack us on U.S. soil. Why have they not? They have been arrested, appropriately renditioned, and continually monitored. All this has been done by our modernized DHS. Now, Osama dares ordinary bubbas to join the search. Is he a muslim, moron, or both? (Actually, M.E. believes Zawahri was correct, Sammy is dead).

Recently, an aggressive airstrike appears to have terrorized al-Qaida's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri. Where can he safely hide, now? How will he replace his key operatives, (Khalid Habib, al-Qaida's operations chief along the Afghan-Pakistan border, Abdul Rehman al-Maghribi, Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, an al-Qaida explosives expert with a $5 million bounty on his head, and a Moroccan believed to be al-Zawahri's son-in-law, believed killed by the missles?

The terror network's figureheads are barely alive, cowered and extremely desperate. The audio tape release would contradict Zawahri's purported claim earlier this month that Osama was dead and buried in Iran - no doubt a ruse to end the relentesss tracking by all manner of special operations forces, drones, bounty hunters and enemies of Wahabism.

Allah willing, these villains foresee their clock of doom. The time is 11:45 BLT (bin laden time, or bacon-lettuce-tomato).


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

News You May Have Missed: Opportunities for the Mind, the Wallet, and Distinction

UPDATE: The $212 Million Stardust Mission (Stage I)
On which military base did the returning capsule land?
Landing site was the U.S. Air Force Utah Test and Training Range. A helicopter then flew the capsule to the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Later, they will transfer the capsule to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
What might be the least startling discovery the stardust brings?
Perhaps, that stardust is no different than ordinary moondust.
What might be the most significant discovery the stardust brings?
Perhaps, that the atomic clocks of dust particles oscillate differently from observations to date.

Claim a Refund of Your Cell Phone Excise Taxes (3-year limit)?
Did you know you may clain a refund for up to 36 months of past taxes. However, a separate claim (Form 8849) is required for each calendar quarter of your phone bills. The process is cumbersome and time-consuming. The IRS continues collecting the 3% Federal Excise Tax from wireless users, despite the fact that nine federal courts have ruled the tax (dating from the 1898 Spanish American War) unlawful.

A Chance to Debate Big League Celebrity Bill O'Reilly?
Viewers will have the chance to debate Bill O'Reilly on his Fox News Channel talk show, "The O'Reilly Factor," next month. O'Reilly has announced the Great Factor Debate Contest, in which six winners will face off with the outspoken TV commentator on a topic of their choice. He warned viewers to "be careful what you wish for." Applicants may enter by e-mailing OReillyContest"at" foxnews.com. My question is, will the redoubtable Chapomatic enter?

Want Recognition for Your Cold War Service?
In the 1998 National Defense Authorization Act, the Secretary of Defense approved awarding Cold War Recognition Certificates to all members of the armed forces and qualified federal government civilian personnel who faithfully and honorably served the United States any time during the Cold War era, Sept. 2, 1945, through Dec. 26, 1991. Details here.
[Disclaimer: Molten Eagle is neither familiar with nor do I possess this certificate. There is something about the way it has been promoted that is still distasteful to me.]


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hugo Chavez's Axis of Ego

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (51), former paratroop officer and leader of an unsuccessful coup d'état in 1992, eventually became El Presidente de Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela. Chavez is a socialist reformer who supervised a new constitution, social programs, and foreign policy 'reforms' largely distancing Venezuela from the United States while embracing his axis of ego: Cuba; North Korea; China; Russia; and Iran.

According to Venezuelan, male mortality figures, Chavez can expect to live another 20 years. Constitutionally, Chavez may, if re-elected in 2006, serve another 6-year term. He wishes to remain president until death, however, and will attempt whatever means necessary to hold and expand the reigns of Venezuelan power. Assuming he will be handily re-elected, Chavez has only a few years to assure holding power beyond 2012.

Only the passage of time will reveal how dangerous and unstable this leader may become for Venezuela's citizens and its political hemisphere. The AP photo may come to symbolize this latino lightning rod.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

News & Updates for Sunday

Stardust capsule returns to Earth: Time capsules
The US Stardust probe (by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, cost $212 million) released the capsule as it flew back to Earth after a 3 billion-mile (4.7 billion km) trip. The Stardust spacecraft released the 101lb (45kg) capsule at 0557 GMT as it looped past the Earth on its return from deep space to land on a military base southwest of Salt Lake City. The Stardust probe began its seven-your voyage Feb. 7, 1999, launched from Cape Canaveral atop a Boeing Delta 2 rocket by Lockheed Martin under a $91.2 million contract.

"Stardust could provide a new window into the distant past," said Dr Simon Green of the PSSRI.
"Because these particles have come from inside a comet we know that essentially the particles haven't been heated since they became part of the comet, because the comet is made of ice," he told the BBC News website.

"That means that they contain information about the conditions that were present when they were incorporated into the comet. "That time was four-and-a-half thousand billion years ago, back when the Solar System formed, so what we hope to know from these particles is essentially what the Solar System looked like at that time, and essentially what we're all made of."

On which military base did the returning capsule land?
What would be the most startling discovery you can conceive?
What would be the least significant discovery the stardust could bring?
How will that compare to what, if anything, is actually discovered?

"What's often very telling about the history of a little particle is looking at the elements that are not very abundant, isotope ratios, or looking for traces of organic material. Those are only there in very small amounts." said principal investigator Don Brownlee of the University of Washington at Seattle.

The prospects of nanotechnology were forcefully and convincingly put forward by Richard Feynman when in 1959 he was addressing a convention of the American Physical Society at Caltech. He tried to visualise - what would happen if we could arrange the atoms one by one the way we want them? One aspect of the development of nanotechnology, as Feynman visualised more than four decades ago, is the power of manipulating and controlling things in the molecular scale.

Related innovations already include the scanning probe microscope, the scanning tunnelling microscope and atomic force microscope. These are capable of creating pictures of individual atoms or moving them from place to place. Innovations already include the scanning probe microscope, the scanning tunnelling microscope and atomic force microscope. These are capable of creating pictures of individual atoms or moving them from place to place. Nanostructured materials utilize the new techniques in electron beam and ion beam fabrication, molecular beam epitacy, nano-print lithography, projection electron microscopy etc. Thesse devices permit atom-by- atom manipulation for advanced studies quantum effect electronics, spin electronics and micromechanical systems. Now do you understand why the capsule landed in a military base?

UPDATE: Al-Zawahiri Safe, for Now
Two Pakistani intelligence officials said that Ayman al-Zawahiri, who has a wife from a local tribe, had been invited to a dinner in Damadola village to mark last week's Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, but apparently changed his mind. One of the officials said al-Zawahiri had sent some aides instead and investigators were trying to determine whether they had been in any of the three houses that were destroyed in the air strike. The bodies of seven foreigners had been taken from the village, which lies about four miles from Afghanistan. The interrogation of Abu Farraj al-Libbi, a senior al Qaeda figure arrested in a northwestern Pakistan town last May, produced the tip that al-Zawahiri had in recent months visited the tribal region of Bajur where Damadola is located.

Al-Libbi is accused of masterminding two assassination attempts on Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in December 2003 that killed 17 other people. He was interrogated in Pakistan and later handed over to the United States. The attack could not have been timed nor executed so precisely without updated intelligence from within the Bajur region. Obviously, Pakistanis suspect Mushrraf agrred to the strike.

The FBI anticipates performing DNA tests on the victims of a purported CIA airstrike in Pakistan that apparently targeted al-Qaida's second-in-command, a law enforcement official said Saturday. Up to 11 extremists were believed to be among the dead, according to unidentified Pakistani officials quoted in news reports.


Refuting "A Sucker's Game"

Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, says (emphasis added), "We are playing a sucker's game in Iraq, because we are fighting in a single country even though we are engaged in a regional war."

His pessimistic statement enthuses detractors of U.S. objectives in Iraq, but he is as obviously wrong as his quoted conclusion is ill-condidered. Regardless of your support for U.S. operations in Iraq:

- Ledeen himself makes the point that we are fighting Iran-trained, Iraqi terrorists in Iraq. These are Shiites who left Iraq twenty years ago to side with Iran in its war with Iraq. He says, "If you read carefully, you'll see that the so-called militia training is really terrorism: 'They (the Iranians) trained them (the young Iraqis)...to go out on patrol, to get people out of their houses, execute them and leave them on the street...' ...Let's stop talking about "militia training," okay? This is terrorist training. "

- Is the U.S. fighting the GWOT in only one foreign country? An unconfirmed CIA airstrike has been conducted at a compound in Damadola, Pakistan (a troublesome al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold) against al-Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

- Does anyone recall our feet on the ground in Afghanistan and in the Phillipines (U.S. assistance) . You will not hear much about special forces operations elsewhere, just like you will not know where submarines are patrolling. Do you need to be told why there is a need for secrecy in such matters? If so, your inexperience in real-world threats and military matters betrays your inability to understand and appreciate your relative complacency.

- The attack on Zawahiri in his foreign refuge signals immense, international cooperation in the preferred, covert war against global terrorism in which we are now engaged. Eighteen people are believed to have been killed in the strike. Eleven of them were alleged foreignors. Three bodies were quickly transported cross-border by locals. An eye-witness report also suggests 5 were high ranking al-qaeda leaders. Significant terrorist organizations will now be decapitated, there leaders will no longer be safe, even in foreign, Muslim refuges. What are the nationalities of the strike teams? Not all U.S. for certain. Whether or not the recent attack was based upon false information, it demonstrates amply a dramatic willingness to cross borders in pursuit of high-value terror targets.

Obviously, we are not really fighting in a single country, nor are we engaged in a regional war. We are engaged, as the president has claimed all along, a global war.



Saturday, January 14, 2006

UPDATE: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Running Scared, If not Dead

Who, besides al-Qaeda could have the audacity to strike a tribal village in Pakistan to neutralize 5 top-level leaders hiding in the midst of civilians? Is India after the $25-million reward on al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant? Pakistani officials told ABC News that five of those killed were high-level al Qaeda figures, and their bodies are now undergoing forensic tests for positive identification.

This could not sit well with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda in Iraq's leader. At last check, he had only a $10-million reward on his head.

Prediction update: Zarqawi is not only doomed, he is now a brooding short-timer (about 54 days left) . Allah speed, villain.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Careful What You Ask: For Time Travelers

Given this choice, which would you prefer? To go back 2 million years in time or forward 50,000 years? Better check the latest travel warnings first, you say. Nice thought, but good luck.

No one can tell for certain, of course, but geologists seem to expect you would be in the midst of an ice age in 50,000 years. Ice plates thousands of feet thick would cover your stomping grounds in much of the U.S. Companionship and food would be prized.

Want to go back instead? A paleoanthropologist has news for you. Much warmer, perhaps, but food and companianship would still be prized. Moreover, you could be the food.

Researcher: Early Man Was Hunted by Birds
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) - small human ancestors known as hominids had to survive being hunted not only by large predators on the ground but by fearsome raptors that swooped from the sky, said Lee Berger, a senior paleoanthropologist at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand.
"These types of discoveries give us real insight into the past lives of these human ancestors, the world they lived in and the things they feared," Berger said in documents accompanying a presentation at a conference Thursday.

Five months ago, researchers from Ohio State University submitted what Berger called the most comprehensive study to date of eagle damage on bones. Berger was among those asked to review the paper for the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. ...But they also identified features previously never described: puncture marks and ragged incisions in the base of the eye sockets, made when eagles rip out the eyes of dead monkeys with their talons and beaks to get at the brains.

The child's death has been blamed on a leopard or saber-toothed cat, which are known to have preyed on hominids. But 10 years ago, Berger and fellow researcher Ron Clarke submitted the theory that the hunter was a predatory bird, similar to today's African crowned eagle.


Odd Perspectives on Motive for Shooting State Troopers

One perspective: Ecology
Man fires at hunters, gets probation
CHESNEE -- A 68-year-old war veteran, concerned that two off-duty state troopers might be disturbing rare plankton in a creek bed, pleaded guilty Tuesday to peppering the men with birdshot. Published January 12, 2006, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Another perspective: Noise
Man pleads guilty to shooting at two off-duty troopers
CHESNEE, S.C. (AP) - A Chesnee man has pleaded guilty to shooting at two off-duty state troopers who were riding four-wheelers near his property last year.
Published Thu, Jan 12, 2006, The Beaufort Gazette

Chesnee is perhaps 300 miles from the Atlantic ocean. Fresh water plankton do exist, however.

Global Warming perspective (No One Has Really Claimed This One, Yet):
WASHINGTON Reuters News Service- The largest ice shelf in the Arctic, a solid feature for 3,000 years, has broken up, scientists in the United States and Canada said on Monday, (reported Sept. 22, 2003). Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Warwick Vincent's team said all of the fresh water poured out of the 20 mile long Disraeli Fjord. This in turn has affected communities of freshwater ... plankton and algae, said Derek Mueller, a Laval University graduate student who has studied the tiny creatures.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What's The Voltage of a Tree? Evergreens as Evereadies

Trees are amazing, natural solar-powered structures. Like batteries, they consume chemicals and can store energy. Trees convert solar radiation (free) into new, often larger and higher solar detectors. Amazingly, water enters the roots through thin membranes at their tips. The tree's vascular system draws the water up through the trunk and distributes it to the leaves, often 3-10 stories above the ground. A single mature Live oak can consume up to 300 gallons of water each day. That is some pretty heavy lifting. In addition, trees soak up carbon dioxide from the air, producing life-giving oxygen. One medium-sized tree generates about the same amount of oxygen as each of us needs to breathe.

Part of the energy crisis solution: Trees?
In North America the average solar power is about 9 kilo-Watt-hours per square meter (about a squared yard) per day.

Tests have generated 0.8 volts to 1.2 volts by driving an aluminum roofing nail half an inch into a tree attached to a copper water pipe driven 7 inches into the ground. But the electricity is fairly useless because it’s unstable and fluctuates. (M.E. note: don't try this at home, because there are often higher AC voltages present from normal, utility power distribution).

MagCap Engineering LLC wants to patent a process that converts the natural energy of a tree to usable direct-current electricity, company President Chris Lagadinos said. He expects to find investors to help pay for the research needed to figure a way to increase the tree power from less than 2 volts to 12 volts sometime this year, creating an alternative to fossil fuels.

“It’s a renewable source and it’s an unlimited source,” he said. “It’s virtually untapped. The issue is clean energy and it’s readily available. There are trees everywhere.”

Are there skeptics? Of course, but haven;t there always been?

Jim Manwell, director of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Renewable Energy Resource Laboratory, questioned the potential of MagCap’s plans. “I’m wildly skeptical,” he said. “I would need to see proof before I believed it. It strikes me as pretty questionable for a number of reasons... There’s a fundamental law of physics,” he said. “The energy has to come from somewhere.” (M.E. clue: the sun).


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Are Modern Submariners Really Pampered Wimps? Court To Decide

From the United Kingdom:
In the opening of his court martial yesterday at the Portsmouth Naval Base, the Director of Force Development at the Ministry of Defence (former commanding officer of HMS Talent) faced five charges of “unwarranted” abusive treatment that went “beyond robust leadership and management” of four officers and Chief Petty Officer Cosxwain under his command through repeated, unjustified, verbal abuse. Victims of Captain Robert Tarrant’s “aggressive and humiliating” leadership on board HMS Talent, a hunter-killer submarine, felt scared and intimidated. One, Lieutenant Ryan Ramsey, was so frightened that he used to vomit before going on watch. The charges cover a period between February 1998 and July 1999.

In her opening statement Commander Alison Towler, for the prosecution, said that commanding officers had the right to administer strict discipline during missions that required “forceful and immediate action that leaves no room for tact”. His outbursts were so commonplace that his officers gave them a nickname, calling them "reamings", she said.

Defending Tarrant, Alan Large said the captain would vigorously defend the charges. "He never knowingly or recklessly ill-treated anyone under his command. He accepts he demanded very high standards of performance from the ship's company in order to carry out HMS Talent's operational role as tasked by the Royal Navy."

From American naval history (1842, just twenty years before the submarine Hunley):
Designed to carry 90 officers and crew, the training brig USS Somers carried a complement of 120 on her second voyage. Three-quarters of the crew were teenaged midshipmen, the sons of some distinguished families, including: the son of Commodore John Rodgers, and the son of President John Tyler's Secretary of War, John Canfield Spencer.

Under command of Captain Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, the brig USS Somers sailed for St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, on November 12. Two weeks later, Midshipman Philip Spencer (son of the US Secretary of War), together with the boatswain's mate and another seaman, were placed under arrest for plotting a mutiny to takeover the ship and convert it into a piratical vessel.

Investigation by Mackenzie and his officers revealed that Spencer intended to seize the ship and kill the officers and any who sided with them. For their crime, they were hanged at the yardarm, while still at sea, on December 1. The Somers Lithograph, published circa 1843, shows the 3 mutineers hanging under the US flag. Although later court-martialed, Mackenzie was acquitted of charges of illegal punishment, oppression, and murder despite the standing of Spencer's father. More here.

News of the Somers mutiny shocked the country and the hangings cast doubt over the wisdom of sending midshipmen directly aboard ship for on-the-job training. Through the efforts of the Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, the Naval School was established without Congressional funding, at a 10-acre Army post named Fort Severn in Annapolis, Maryland, on October 10, 1845, enrolling a class of 50 midshipmen under seven professors. In 1850 the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Submarines and Migraines

Recall, if you will, that ABC's Good Morning America segment Run Silent, Run Deep had been broadcast November 23rd, 2005 aboard a submerged Navy submarine off the East coast. This was the first broadcast of its kind. Needless to say, several intriguing questions were raised immediately. What was the military purpose for the stunt? Why were two submarines (Scranton and Oklahoma City) confused in an initial press release?

In order to fulfill the communications requirements of the alleged feat, a surface support vessel relayed the live broadcast from the sub to a satellite uplink in a Rube Goldberg manner - without the support vessel, MV Dolores Chouset, the stunt might have been very impressive.

The broadcast served as public relations function for whom then? The Navy? The submarine service? ABC? Wireless Maritime Services (the joint venture between MTN and Cingular Wireless) who provided the advanced, cellular telephones used? Very strange that a PR goal would not be more obvious.

What other purpose could the GMA broadcast have served besides PR?
That question was posed by a reader of USS Scranton (SSN 756) Whereabouts. He also made this comment: The thing that I find truly hilarious is that most of the stock footage was of 688s, not even 688Is... much less of the Scranton. The EMBT blow footage Diana Sawyer comments on several times during the broadcast is of a boat with fairwater planes!

Answering is easy; being affirmed correct is almost impossible due to the prevailing secrecy of submarine operations. Being labeled wrong, on the otherhand, is a given because the Navy has already told us what they [the CIA?] wanted us to know.

Theory favored by Molten Eagle's panel (anonymous, so please do not ask):
The broadcast served as a cover to explain the presence of MV Dolores Chouest as she conducted a more clandestine operation, also off the East coast. The Dolores Chouest is one of several vessels owned by Edison Chouest Offshore leased to the Military Sealift Command as part of its Special Missions Program. It's crew consists of civilians and others.

What kind of secret operations, you may ask? Well the Chouset deploys a Tethered Unmanned Work Vehicle (wired, remote control submarine) called the Super Scorpio Plus. Similar unmanned vehicles have been used to recover the flight data recorder from Alaska Airlines Flight 261, conduct detailed survey operations involving the collision of Greeneville (SSN-772) and the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru, and the British Scorpio managed to free the Russian Priz class submersible AS-28 trapped on the sea floor off the Kamchatka Peninsula on 5 August 2005.

What could be of interest in these waters, you ask? Well, where did you actually see the Dolores Chouest? Did you spot her en route to and from Norfolk? How about after dark, where did you see her? When did the USS Scranton return with Robin Roberts and the other ABC people? On what later date did the MV Chouest return to Norfolk? These are all rhetorical questions.

Just Speculation:
Remember TWA Flight 800 (1996)? Swiss Air Flight 111 (1998)? EgyptAir Flight 990 (1999)? How about Abel Danger (1999)? Had an unidentified, foreign power been blackmailing the United States since 1996 (Clinton administration)?


Thursday, January 05, 2006

"The Rockford Files" The Perfect Tool Update

Why did we enjoy TV's The Rockford Files (1974-1980) so much? Probably because ace Stephen J. Cannell wrote it, James Garner starred in it, and it was an intriguing premise for its audience - a blemished detective who does it right and still manages to get it wrong. Rockford Files became Garner's second major television hit, with Noah Beery Jr. and Stuart Margolin. In 1977 he won an Emmmy for his portrayal.

True to Garner's TV character, however, a combination of injuries and "creative bookkeeping" by Universal Pictures denied him a proportional share of the huge profits the show generated. Garner became disillusioned and the show ended prematurely in 1980.

Jim Rockford was a con man who printed business cards of the moment right in his car. When I saw this product featured seriously at Book of Joe and WebMD, it took little time to recall how useful it would have been to Jim Rockford: Liquid Trust.

Do you remember your favorite episode? My all-time favorite was the one I also considered the funniest. It involved the ATF, the CIA and the FBI: THE BATTLE-AX AND THE EXPLODING CIGAR.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Understanding Nuclear Guidelines in GWOT

[In reading the following, do not forget certain things:
The chance of another largescale, terror attack on the U.S. is probably less than 4% today, provided an undimenished level of monitoring continues. The chance of a crude nuclear device or a dirty bomb detonation are much, much smaller - perhaps only on the order of some 1/1,000th of 4%.

To conduct a cleanup, people will have to enter the contamination area and suffer time and PC limited exposures to very high sources of radiation (such as, Cesium 137). It is also conceivable that vital (to national security) items would have to be retrieved, in limited situations]

In an apparent relaxation of nuclear medicine, the Department of Homeland Security has just issued cleanup standards for "dirty bomb" terrorist attacks that is far less protective than those set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for Superfund sites, nuclear power plants and nuclear waste dumps.

Since metropolitan areas would most likely be targeted, the public may be justifiably perplexed by the federal government's apparent abdication of its paternalistic role toward national health. Do not be mislead by too quick a read of the Associated Press report, written apparently to elicit alarm or outrage among the careless.

Maximum radiation levels up to 10,000 millirems a year would be permitted (subject to state determinations) under DHS guidelines. [This level] can be expected to produce a cancer in one of every four people exposed, said Diane D'Arrigo, of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a Washington-based nuclear industry watchdog group, citing government radiation risk assessments. The 10,000 mrem level was established by the International Commission on Radiation Protection as an acceptable exposure standard after cleanup. Some areas would have to be placed off limits permanently, say the guidelines.

By comparison, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission limits public exposure to 100 millirems per year in several cleanup standards it regulates. Even the exposure at the future Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site would be limited to only 15 millirems.

The 10,000 mrem puts terrorists on notice that Americans could still cope. In that sense, it serves as a deterrent to foolish actions. It does not tell terrorists the level of vengeance that we would ultimately invoke. With Allah's help, however, a few of them may have a lucid moment for a correct guess.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Nature's Worst Locales May Inspire Mankind's Best Architecture - Part I

What is it about the world's least hospitable environments that inspires some of mankind's most creative and bold architecture? The answer in Part II, but for now, prime examples.

Molten Eagle readers may recall the dramatically unbelievable photo and story of the Tennis Court at Burj Al Arab in September. No matter that it was actually a helicopter landing pad of immense architectural inspiration, tennis greats Andre Agassi and Roger Federer used it as the world’s highest tennis court ( 28th floor -almost 300 feet above ground).

Equal in its leap of imaginative functionality if not outright design is the Grand Canyon Skywalk (pictured above), set to be unveiled this month.

Proposed by tour operator David Jin for tours of the Grand Canyon's westernmost side, it was welcomed by the Hualapai tribe, who tapped Los Vegas architect Mark Johnson for the design. The Skywalk has six-foot-tall glass walls, a glass-view bottom, is built for a claimed load factor of 71 million pounds (the weight of 71-jumbo jetliners) to withstand winds over 100 miles per hour, and endure an 8.0-magnitude earthquake within a 50-mile radius. Still, says Johnson, "it's going to take some courage to step out there. Looking through a glass floor is intense." The Colorado River, of course, is 4,000 feet below.

KTNV-Action News says, "The financial future of the Hualapai is tied to tourism. They are not a gaming tribe."

And for those of you doubters who still believe it is an "urban legend," Snopes says, Status: True.