Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

30 March - News Items

NATO and the USA Charge Into Libya With Our Al Qaeda Allies! Go Team! Wait, What?

The US is claiming that all sorts of lives have been saved, but the US has been claiming that since 1945 and, well, we’ve sure killed a lot of people while saving lives. (Killing to save lives, that’s a future post.) And people are certainly dying in Libya, it’s a full fledged civil war at this point. I can only guess at what’s going on, and I certainly have no clue how it’s going to end, but here are a few observations.

For one thing, it’s a little odd that the USA and Al Qaeda are fighting on the same side. If we do succeed in getting rid of Qaddafi, we will once again (remember Saddam?) have destroyed one of Al Qaeda’s enemies. And we are literally fighting on their side, the rebels admit that they have contacts with Al-Qaeda and that jihadists from Iraq and elsewhere are fighting with the rebels now. I wonder what our pilots think knowing that they are providing air support to fighters who killed American GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan. See why this war is hard to figure out, it’s hard to even get the brain around that one.

 

The Libyan Uprising, a Tactical Analysis

Only mobile (motorized) ground forces are useful, ranged weapons rule, and air power rules. (By motorized I mean that troops with trucks or some other means to get around besides walking.) In other words, Libya is the perfect battleground for modern heavily equipped troops as opposed to mountainous or jungle lands where lightly armed guerrillas can have the upper hand.

 

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Introduction

Welcome to Doug’s Darkworld, a blog about war, mysteries, history, strange things, science, logic, photography, cosmology, paleontology, anthropology,  current events, religion, propaganda, philosophy, psychology, sociology,  ghosts, paranormal events, movies, astronomy, space exploration, metaphysics, foreign policy, propaganda, and whatever else strikes my fancy. As the esteemed Robert A. Heinlein said: “Specialization is for insects.”  Please note, it’s Doug’s Darkworld, not Doug’s Puppyworld. Polite comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome.           — Doug Stych 16 October 2010
Written by unitedcats
June 7, 2010 at 7:39 pm
Posted in Uncategorized

The Libyan Uprising, a Tactical Analysis


OK, thought I’d have some fun with this looking at it purely from a tactical or wargaming perspective. I’ve done a lot of wargaming, too much really. And Libya is a classic battlefield so to speak for wargames. That’s because some classic battles were fought there during World War Two, Libya was the scene of much of the fighting between Germany’s Rommel and the Afrika Korps against the British Eighth Army. It as some interesting fighting indeed, I will have to write about it some day. For now though, the lessons learnt in World War Two still apply. And the rules for fighting in Libya are thus: Only mobile (motorized) ground forces are useful, ranged weapons rule, and air power rules. (By motorized I mean that troops with trucks or some other means to get around besides walking.) In other words, Libya is the perfect battleground for modern heavily equipped troops as opposed to mountainous or jungle lands where lightly armed guerrillas can have the upper hand.
Lets see how this came about. Look at the map above. That’s Libya. It’s a little smaller than Mexico or about twice the size of Texas. The terrain is also shown on the map above.  IE it’s one big flat desert where vehicles can drive just about anywhere, but are completely exposed because there’s no cover. And as the map shows, the only things worth having are along the coast. So vehicles rule because moving by foot is just too damn slow when people with vehicles can just drive anywhere. And since it’s all open ground, the troops with the longer ranged weapons have an advantage. Air power rules over all because there’s no places to hide except in the cities. So fighting in World War Two went back and forth east to west in Libya several times. Now it should be noted that in World War Two if one had the manpower, time, and land mines it was possible to set up extensive fortified lines. Neither side has that luxury in the current fighting, so fortified lines aren’t a consideration.
So on the map above, the rebels hold the brown cities to the east, Qaddafi’s forces hold the green cities to the west. Misrata being the exception, it’s been besieged by Qaddafi’s forces for over a week now. At first, after his initial setbacks, Qaddafi’s tanks and motorized forces advanced rapidly to the east, reaching the gates of Benghazi, the heart of the uprising. The rebel forces were mobile, but they lacked the heavy weapons that Qaddafi’s troops had. Unlike stupid Hollywood war movies (which is to say, all Hollywood war movies,) untrained lightly armed troops fare very very poorly against anything resembling a professional army in an open fight. So Qaddafi’s forces kicked butt, and likely would have stormed Benghazi and that would have been that.
Then however, the USA intervened (I’m not even going to pretend there was anything “international” about this intervention) and quickly dominated the skies over Libya. And quickly destroyed the equipment of Qaddafi’s mobile forces. Their tanks, trucks, and artillery were sitting ducks. Reduced to foot soldiers, fleeing is pretty much Qaddafi’s troops only option. And as I type, hastily organized rebel mobile forces are now once again advancing rapidly westward towards Tripoli, where Qaddafi is holed up. Basically pickup trucks and SUVs filled with fighters and small weapons.
What happens now? I don’t see Qaddafi has any option but to retreat to Tripoli and dig in. As I explained, there’s no such thing as natural defensive lines in Libya, no rivers or mountain passes to defend. And his troops don’t have the time to build any sort of fortified line. So I would expect that in a week or so, Qaddafi will once again be back in Tripoli with rebels in control of most of the country. And that’s where it get interesting again, because Tripoli is a large city and troops dug into a large city have some considerable advantages. They are no longer at the mercy of air power or ranged weapons, so if Qaddafi is going to make a last stand, the streets of Tripoli are it.
Assuming Qaddafi’s forces remain loyal and defend Tripoli, what happens then? Well, if civilian life and damage wasn’t a problem, the rebels could simply shell and bomb the city until it surrenders. However, the rebels likely do not have the heavy artillery or warplanes to accomplish that. So the USA can either give them the weapons to do so, or bomb it themselves. Both sound like unlikely prospects to me, in fact the idea that the Libyan rebels would decide to bombard Tripoli into submission sounds dubious to me. And even Obama is not clueless enough to order US planes to bomb Tripoli flat. I hope. OK, bombing is out, the second alternative is starving the city into submission. That could take months or years, and isn’t guaranteed to work. I don’t think I’m going out on a  limb to state that the rebels are unlikely to either bombard or starve Tripoli into submission.
So what’s left? Storming the city. IE rebels charge into the city with small weapons and fight with Qaddafi’s troops. And likely without much by way of USA air support. That’s because providing air support to troops fighting in city streets pretty much means getting up close and personal with jets and especially helicopter gunships. And that puts them in range small arms, and losses would be inevitable. Again, I think it’s safe to say that Obama won’t want a repeat of Black Hawk Down, so USA close air support is out of the question. Yes, if Qaddafi’s troops dig into Tripoli the rebels will have no choice but to charge into Tripoli. Where they will be ambushed and slaughtered in droves by Qaddafi’s professional soldiers.
In other words, there may not be a happy ending here. The rebel’s best bet is that Qaddafi’s forces will be so demoralized that they will flee rather than fight. Qaddafi and a few hundred loyalists might hole up somewhere and fight to the bitter end, but even a rag tag rebel army could deal with that. If Qaddafi has enough loyalist soldiers to defend the city, the Battle of Tripoli could be an ugly thing indeed. My current thinking is that if this war isn’t over in a  week, it could drag on for months or years.
Good luck Libyan rebels, may your aim be true, your sense of justice great, and your desire for vengeance small.
(I’ve made a good faith effort to use the above images legally, the top image is Public Domain or close enough. The second image is a low resolution, grey scale reproduction of a Reuters image, and the third dates from World War Two and is in the Public Domain. The map of Libya is pretty basic, the size of the circles represents the population of the cities. The second image is Libya rebels with makeshift mobile forces, hey, it works as long as they don’t run into tanks or such. The third is a German long range 88mm anti-tank gun from World War Two. I chose it to illustrate the advantage long range weapons have in desert warfare. Note the 40 plus rings painted on the barrel, those are kill rings, each one represents a tank destroyed by that gun.)





Written by unitedcats
March 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm

NATO and the USA Charge Into Libya With Our Al Qaeda Allies! Go Team! Wait, What?

Oh my. The situation in Libya has been progressing dramatically, so on the one hand I have been loathe to write about it. Anything I write could be superseded by developments on the ground so to speak even as I type. Granted that’s always true no matter what the topic to some extent, but when a ground war is being fought over actual territory, things can move right along. On the other hand, this is important stuff. We are talking an actual war here, and wars have a way of gripping my mind. Some people stare at traffic accidents by the side of the road with morbid fascination, I can’t stop looking at wars.
So, after a week of US bombing the Libyan rebels appearing to be advancing on Tripoli again. The US is claiming that all sorts of lives have been saved, but the US has been claiming that since 1945 and, well, we’ve sure killed a lot of people while saving lives. (Killing to save lives, that’s a future post.) And people are certainly dying in Libya, it’s a full fledged civil war at this point. I can only guess at what’s going on, and I certainly have no clue how it’s going to end, but here are a few observations.
For one thing, it’s a little odd that the USA and Al Qaeda are fighting on the same side. If we do succeed in getting rid of Qaddafi, we will once again (remember Saddam?) have destroyed one of Al Qaeda’s enemies. And we are literally fighting on their side, the rebels admit that they have contacts with Al-Qaeda and that jihadists from Iraq and elsewhere are fighting with the rebels now. I wonder what our pilots think knowing that they are providing air support to fighters who killed American GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan. See why this war is hard to figure out, it’s hard to even get the brain around that one.
Obama is taking fire from all political quarters regarding his decision to intervene in Libya. Left and  right. I’m actually surprised he isn’t taking more flak, isn’t the fact that we are fighting on Al Qaeda’s side proof he was a secret Islamic jihadist all along? Shouldn’t Glenn Beck be running with this? Maybe he is. In any event it’s nice to see voices being raised against this hastily conceived war. I’ve wondering how such a shrewd politician as Obama would so something that was going to give his domestic political enemies lots of ammunition? Could he really be doing it out of humanitarian concerns? No, my suspicion is that he calculated that the political cost of doing nothing was greater than the cost of action.
IE if Obama had stood by while Qaddafi crushed the revolt, the left would attack him for not helping save lives, and the right would attack him for being afraid to use force. This more or less means we went to war purely out of domestic political considerations. The fact that the rebels hold the bulk of Libya’s oil fields probably was discussed too. And I don’t think the intervention was thought through much more that that. I mean, we’ve already pawned it off on NATO just so the blame can be distributed.  And now we’re more or less stuck trying to do whatever it is we are trying to accomplish in Libya. And speaking of the politics of it all, I can’t help but wonder if this was some sort of “perfect storm” situation where both our enemies and our “friends” encouraged Obama to do something that they knew wouldn’t end well for the USA. Russia and China have to be thrilled, in fact anyone who is waiting for the USA to go bankrupt  has to be trilled. This new war is costing a lot of money and making a lot of enemies. Yes, it’s making us some friends, but when you’re making new enemies for every friend you make, well, it’s not much of a bargain.
And I’m also curious that like the ongoing Fukushima crisis, Americans seem almost oblivious to the fact that this war could have some terrible consequences for the USA. Qaddafi is the fellow who brought down Pan Am Flight 103 for starters. And Al Qaeda has apparently used the confusion to help themselves to some modern weapons. Wars have a way of leading to places that aren’t one anyone’s itinerary. That’s why despite my childish inclination to cheer the intervention, I still think wars are a bad idea with very few exceptions. And Libya isn’t one of them.
(The above image came from a site that claimed all its images are public domain: TotallyFreeImages.com. It’s an Australian soldier charging into a sandstorm during fighting in Libya in World War Two. The guy in the image might even still be alive. I think it’s self evident why I thought it was a great image to illustrate the US intervention in the Libyan Uprising.)


Written by unitedcats
March 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm

“Oh, meltdown. It’s one of those annoying buzzwords. We prefer to call it an unrequested fission surplus.” — C. Montgomery Burns

 

Sigh. Nuclear power. One can read opinion pieces all over the map about nuclear power, from Ann Coulter’s “radiation is good for you” to more sober analysis. Basically, if someone wants to believe this accident is no big deal, there’s plenty on the web to reinforce their beliefs. If one wants to go the other extreme, there’s stuff out there as well. The bottom line is that us sheep will never really know the full story, both because there are so many unknowns that no one knows, and the flood of conflicting opinion and information. However, this doesn’t mean that we should just throw up our hands in despair, there’s still wiggle room for thoughtful analysis. So, in my usual rough order, my current thinking on this unpleasant situation.
The first thing is that like the gulf oil spill, the powers that be have tremendous incentive to downplay this situation. More incentive really, we are talking about one of the world’s most important centres of finance and industry, not just some gulf coast fishermen and tourist traps. This means that it is a given that governments and the media are going to show a strong “everything’s OK, move along now” bias, they have to. Now this isn’t evidence that things are worse than they say, since they are going to downplay the situation no matter what, it just means that we shouldn’t simply take their word for it that this is no big deal. A codicil to this point is that it’s not over yet. IE, anyone who is now saying, everything’s OK, is considerably jumping the gun. The goddamn damaged nuclear power plants are yet to be brought under control, and the final cost is anyone’s guess, it’s way to early to assess the final impact of this disaster.

http://www.komadoma.com/blog

7 Days Later

by Chris on Mar.18, 2011, under Uncategorized
First of all I want to make clear that what I am talking about here is the situation in Tokyo- where I live and what I see and experience every day. The situation a hundred-some miles up north very dire and very serious and frankly what we in Tokyo have experienced are at worst inconveniences in comparison. I encourage all of you to join me in financially assisting those relief efforts.
Tokyo is not in imminent danger of mass radiation as you may have heard in many of the more sensationalist foreign media reports you may have been hearing about lately. We’re a bit shaken, some of us are scared, some of us are optimistic. By and large we’ve banded together and kept our heads.
TEPCO, the electric company, warned that we would have a big blackout yesterday. But it was averted, because we all conserved enough power. Walking down the streets these days, they’re about as dark as you’ll ever see them; all the stores have shut off their bright outdoor signs. The neon brights of Shibuya are shut down. Office skyscrapers show a handful of dots of lights, not the uniform brightness you usually see. People have the lights on in their home, maybe a TV on, a computer, a rice cooker, and we can run our washing machines without fear or regret after peak hours.
The oddest thing about how this crisis is affecting Tokyo, frankly, is how much things have been “staying the same” for the past week. Things aren’t really getting worse, and they’re not really getting better. Tokyo is not plunging deep into panic or radiation, media scare-mongering notwithstanding. But at the same time, it really doesn’t seem like things are getting back to normal yet. Whatever you want to call what the city is experiencing, it’s not something that “happened” but rather is still very much in the middle of “happening.”
Grocery stores are doing their best to keep enough stock on hand. You’re hard pressed to find fresh milk and eggs, but fresh meat and some veggies are there to be found, and instant ramen – hard to find in the initial days- is now abundant. Stores have added more canned foods like good ol’ SPAM to the front and center.
A number of people I know have chosen to leave Tokyo, at least for now. It’s still far from a rush, but it’s also more than a trickle. They are heading south, mainly to Osaka, or to their home countries- Korea, Taiwan, or even as far as the US or UK. As for myself, I am still staying, albeit with one eye on the Geiger and another on the news.

ExtraDimensional has an old - but wild - post

Tiger Pistol Shrimp and the State of the Union
http://www.komadoma.com/blog/category/extra-dimensional

Water clear-up 'urgent' at reactor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12908313

At this stage, the announcement by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) that it will decommission four hobbled nuclear reactors at Fukushima, Japan, is little more than a formality.

Their fates were more or less sealed when the company took a decision - a few days into the crisis - to pump seawater into the reactor vessels as a measure to cool them down.

The salt water is extremely corrosive to the materials used inside - even without core damage, the vessels would have been written off.

FUKUSHIMA UPDATE (29 MAR)

  • Reactor 1: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas explosion. Highly radioactive water detected in reactor
  • Reactor 2: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas blast; containment damage suspected. Highly radioactive water detected in reactor and adjoining tunnel
  • Reactor 3: Damage to the core from cooling problems. Building holed by gas blast; containment damage possible. Spent fuel pond partly refilled with water after running low. Highly radioactive water detected in reactor
  • Reactor 4: Reactor shut down prior to quake. Fires and explosion in spent fuel pond; water level partly restored
  • Reactors 5 & 6: Reactors shut down. Temperature of spent fuel pools now lowered after rising high
  • Plutonium: Found at five locations in soil - levels said to represent no danger to human health

Radiation: How Much is Too Much?
http://wilybadger.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/radiation-how-much-is-too-much
Thanks to this helpful guide from XKCD 

 

Obama calls for deep cuts in U.S. oil imports
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/30/us-obama-energy-idUSTRE72S3C820110330

Obama laid out four areas to help reach his target of curbing U.S. dependence on foreign oil: lifting domestic energy production, fostering the use of more natural gas in vehicles like city buses, making cars and trucks more efficient, and boosting alternative energy by encouraging biofuels.

The United States consumed almost 20 million barrels of oil a day in 2010 of which roughly half was imported.

Noting natural gas made sense after discoveries of an estimated 100-years' worth of domestic shale gas reserves, Obama urged Congress to pass legislation to encourage the use of natural gas burning vehicles.

Changes and challenges at the United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

 According to this Information Today Newsbreak story on March 10, 02011 by Barbie E. Keiser, there's been "Upheaval at the National Archives" due to

Suspended development of the Electronic Records Archive (ERA) and closure of the Archives Library and Information Center (ALIC). What happened to set off this furor was the release of two documents: Memorandum 2011-113 issued by the Archivist of the United States (AOTUS), David S. Ferriero, on Feb. 14 and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report to Congressional Committees, Electronic Government: National Archives and Records Administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 Expenditure Plan (GAO-11-299) published on March 4.
 Haitians Face Imminent Eviction from Displaced Persons Camps
http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/30/haitians_face_imminent_eviction_displaced_persons
Reconstruction efforts in Haiti have barely begun 15 months after a devastating earthquake killed thousands and left more than 1.5 million people homeless. Hundreds of thousands of people still live in makeshift shelters in hundreds of tent camps across Haiti. Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from one of those camps and speaks with residents who face imminent eviction by landowners even though they have nowhere else to go. 

Paul Krugman on the attempt to silence Willian Cronon

New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, entered into the controversy surrounding the President of the American Historical Association and University of Wisconsin history professor, William Cronon.  Cronon wrote an article in the Times critical of the Wisconsin Governor Walker and his support for a bill to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public school teachers.  The Republican party in Wisconsin has responded by using Freedom of Information laws to request all of Professor Cronon’s university emails.
William Cronon and the American Thought Police – NYTimes.com.

http://profcatcurrenthistory.wordpress.com
 Maine governor tries to disappear labor history

How to ignore history, by Alan Greenspan

Catastrophic economic meltdowns happen, says the Maestro. But not very often, so why worry?

Researchers of the Palestinian Census Bureau revealed in an official research that “Israel’s” settlement construction in occupied Palestinian had quadrupled in 2010 comparing to the number of settlement units constructed in 2009. This escalation in settlement activities occurred despite “Israel’s” claimed 10-month settlement freeze in 2010.
http://www.tenpercent.org.uk/2011/03/30/palestinian-land-day-settlement-activities-quadrupled-in-2010
Carter visits jailed American contractor in Cuba
http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/03/30/cuba.carter.gross/index.html
Carter also visited former Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Wednesday, whom he referred to as an "old friend." During the news conference, he declared that it was time that five Cubans jailed on espionage charges in the United States also be freed.

"I think the holding of the so-called Cuban five is unwarranted," he said, noting that they had already spent 12 years in U.S jails. But he quashed speculation that they could in some way be traded for Gross, saying they were entirely different cases.
......................................................
Moussa Koussa, the Libyan foreign minister, last night defected from Col Muammar Gaddafi's government after flying to Britain, telling officials he was "no longer willing" to serve the regime.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8417514/Libyan-foreign-minister-Moussa-Koussa-defects.html
Why the Christian right is backing a brutal despot
http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/30/ivory_coast_christian_right_gbagbo
Gbagbo's backing from the Christian right has come from a few sources, some of which share a common link to the Fellowship. The reasons for the support are not clear, though it may have to do with both long-standing relationships between Gbagbo and evangelicals active in Africa, and the fact that Gbagbo is Christian and his opponent, Alassane Ouattara -- the internationally recognized president of Ivory Coast -- is Muslim.
Obama calls for deep cuts in U.S. oil imports
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/30/us-obama-energy-idUSTRE72S3C820110330

Samsung Accused Of Installing Secret Keyloggers On New Laptops 'To Monitor Performance'
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110330/13301613700/samsung-accused-installing-secret-keyloggers-new-laptops-to-monitor-performance.shtml
( That's one way to destroy market share
Warm Air Over Eastern Shores Draw In the Cold
http://news.discovery.com/earth/from-warm-oceans-come-cold-continents-110330.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1
According to modeling work at the California Institute of Technology, the sharply contrasting winter climates are the result of waves of thermal energy rising from the warm Atlantic Ocean in a pattern that pulls colder air farther south over the eastern continental boundaries of North America. These semi-stationary waves in the atmosphere, rather than the ocean itself, shape the patterns of winter on both sides of the Atlantic.

The geophysicists, Yohai Kaspi and Tapio Schneider, who conducted the work also point to the same large atmospheric wave pattern occurring over the Pacific Ocean as responsible for cold winters along the eastern continental boundary of Asia. These atmospheric waves over both ocean basins also explain the warmer climates on the western boundaries of the continents, they add.

The Cal-Tech pair write that their modeling work provides "a plausible answer to the question of why the eastern continental boundaries of both Asia and North America are so cold, and why the extent of the cold regions on both continents is similar."
"Kaspi and Schneider’s work provides fresh insight into processes that create a notable asymmetry in Earth’s climate," wrote Yale University geophysicist William Boos in a separate evaluation of the study published in the same issue of Nature. It also raises "numerous issues" about how such waves affect climate patterns on longer time scales, he said.

Acetaminophen in Pregnancy: Link to Baby's Asthma?

Study Suggests an Increase in Asthma Risk When Pregnant Women Take Some Painkillers

http://www.webmd.com/asthma/news/20110330/acetaminophen-in-pregnancy-link-to-babys-asthma?src=RSS_PUBLIC
Kansas City lands coveted Google broadband project
http://pursuitist.com/tech/kansas-city-lands-coveted-google-fiber-optic-project

Facebook Now Allows Personal Profiles To Be Converted Into Business Pages

http://www.insidefacebook.com/2011/03/30/facebook-now-allows-personal-profiles-to-be-converted-into-business-pages/
Facebook has added a new Help Center article on converting profiles to Pages with details about the migration process. Any user with a verified account can use the migration tool. Their profile photo will be transferred, and all their friends will be converted into users who Like their Page.
All other profile content, including additional photos and wall posts will disappear and all Like connections to other Pages will be severed. Therefore, anyone using the migration tool should consider using Facebook’s Download Your Information tool first to back up their content. It appears that users can rename their new Page during the migration process giving them a chance at rebranding.

Canadian ISP's Hamfisted Attempts To Throttle File Sharing Throttles World Of Warcraft Instead
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110329/03074013672/canadian-isps-hamfisted-attempts-to-throttle-file-sharing-throttles-world-warcraft-instead.shtml

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