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unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
November 15, 2012

US General: Military scandals 'undermine trust'


US General: Military scandals 'undermine trust'
AP / November 14, 2012

PARIS (AP) — The head of U.S. Africa Command says the ‘‘shortcomings’’ of any top military leader reflect badly on the entire officer corps.

With America’s top ranks ensnared in scandal, Gen. Carter Ham told reporters in Paris on Wednesday that such cases ‘‘undermine the trust’’ that officers receive from service members and the public.

A day earlier, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta demoted Gen. William ‘‘Kip’’ Ward after he was accused spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses.


Ham said ‘‘any taint on an individual has a tendency to blemish the institution — and it’s unhelpful.’’
November 15, 2012

Without Romney To Shield Them, For-Profit Colleges Must Face Reality


On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney praised overpriced for-profit colleges and promised to protect them from accountability. But he lost.

Without Romney To Shield Them, For-Profit Colleges Must Face Reality
Posted at 3:56 pm by David Halperin

Since last week’s election, the Fox News Channel has featured several corporate executives complaining about the results. But it’s likely that few are as upset as CEOs of the troubled for-profit college industry. This sector, which is deeply dependent on the federal government, bet heavily on a Republican victory.

Mitt Romney, who has a financial stake in the industry, went out of his way to praise for-profit colleges, and he pledged to undo Obama reforms aimed at holding these companies accountable for fraudulent practices and poor quality schools. Sparked by Romney’s apparent eagerness to let them off the hook and keep the $32 billion in federal taxpayer dollars flowing into their coffers every year, big for-profit colleges and their executives contributed heavily to Romney and Republican Super PACs.

The for-profit colleges also staffed up their lobbying and corporate ranks with well-connected Republicans like Margaret Spellings and Sally Stroup, both former George W. Bush officials on whose watch the government turned a blind eye to the industry’s misbehavior.

Last week, the for-profit colleges lost their bet on the GOP. Now they face an Obama Administration and U.S. Senate majority — backed by veterans, civil rights groups, and many others — increasingly determined to halt the industry’s torrent of waste, fraud, and abuse.
November 15, 2012

Study: California refineries operated during periods blamed for gas price spikes


The cost of gas in Santa Cruz, California, in late April 2012.

Study: California refineries operated during periods blamed for gas price spikes
By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WASHINGTON — West Coast gasoline price spikes in May and October were widely blamed on refinery outages, but new research to be released at a California hearing Thursday shows that refiners continued to produce gasoline in periods when the public was told the contrary.

The information, shared exclusively with McClatchy, comes from Oregon-based McCullough Research, which combed through thousands of pages of environmental documents to conclude that refineries were in fact operating during supposed outages and maintenance shutdowns.

Specifically, the report alleges that in May, at a time when Royal Dutch Shell’s Martinez, Calif., plant was reported to be down for maintenance for two weeks, it appears to have been making gasoline for at least half that time. That conclusion is reached from state environmental documents showing nitrogen oxide emissions had returned to normal at the refinery a full week before it was reported to have come back on line.


This means that in California, the nation’s most populous state, seven major players control most of the supply. They are vertically integrated, refining oil into gasoline and getting involved in the retailing of gasoline in the wholesale market. That system, McCullough said in an interview, lends itself to a market concentration that allows producers to subtly coordinate their prices.

on edit: to correct header
November 15, 2012

How sexy is Benghazi?


How sexy is Benghazi?
Pepe Escobar
Nov 16, 2012

The Love Pentagon - as in the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen-FBI shirtless torso guy - is the farce that keeps on giving. But this should really not be about sex, lies and emails. This should be about Benghazi.

Scandal or not, General David Petraeus finally accepted to testify, at a still unspecified date, to the Senate Intelligence Committee, about the 9/11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in Libya in which ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed; he may eventually be asked about what the CIA had been up to before, during and after the attack.


The notion that the now disgraced General will come clean regarding the current CIA modus operandi is as fanciful as Paula Broadwell playing Snow White. Since Petraeus was appointed director of the CIA by Obama, the agency has morphed into a full-blown paramilitary killing machine - not exactly a haven for HUMINT (human intelligence). It's all about secret, shadowy black ops, unmonitored by the Executive, the Legislative, the Judiciary, the media; virtually out of control.

This hardcore militarization of the CIA implies the agency never acknowledging the Drone Wars. Not to mention how its targeted assassinations, from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula and the Pakistani tribal areas, are chosen; and who is lucky enough to live (or die) another day. What makes is even more absurd is that the CIA is also entrusted by the White House to impartially analyze its own shadow war enterprise.

unhappycamper comment: Pepe also coined a new word in this article: Boobghazi.
November 15, 2012

Juan Cole: Candidate for CIA Chief Jane Harman Advocated Ethnic Breakup of Iran


Candidate for CIA Chief Jane Harman Advocated Ethnic Breakup of Iran
Posted on 11/15/2012 by Juan

CNN lists former California representative Jane Harman, now head of the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., as a potential successor to Gen. David Petraeus as head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

This idea is a very, very bad one. Harman is an Iran hawk who would be perfectly happy to give Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the war on Iran he so desperately wants the US to fight for him.

She accepts uncritically the allegation that Iran is going for broke in trying to build a nuclear warhead (there is no good evidence for Iran wanting an actual bomb as opposed to the capability, similar to Japan’s, to construct one quickly if deterrence against foreign invasion was needed).


Harman’s elevation to the CIA would politicize the agency and distort Iran analysis, removing a potential obstacle to hawks who are annoyed that the National Intelligence Estimates don’t support Netanyahu’s alarmism.
November 15, 2012

Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal Report Cites 'Abuse Of Power' Amid Petraeus, Allen Probe



U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaks during a press conference following meetings with his Australian counterparts on Nov. 14 in Perth, Australia.

Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal Report Cites 'Abuse Of Power' Amid Petraeus, Allen Probe
Posted: 11/14/2012 10:07 pm EST Updated: 11/14/2012 10:16 pm EST

A U.S. military shaken by the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus and the investigation of its top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, announced Wednesday that one of the largest sex scandals in its history has widened, enveloping at least eight commanders and nearly 50 possible victims.

The Air Force released its report on the scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where members of the Air Force go through basic training. Investigations of at least 25 military training instructors have led to charges against 11, and have resulted in five convictions, from rape to inappropriate relationships with recruits. Two commanding officers have been removed, and Air Force Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, said at a press conference Wednesday that six more have received "disciplinary action."

Chief of Air Force Safety Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward, who conducted the investigation, found evidence of a weakness in safeguards, leadership and accountability at Lackland, leading to an "ever-present" abuse of power, according to a Department of Defense statement.

"This report necessarily focuses on the few who violated a sacred trust and broke faith with fellow airmen everywhere," Woodward wrote in the report, which Rice said includes 46 recommendations formed from interviews and surveys of some 18,000 service members. The Air Force said it is implementing 45 of the recommendations, including a required target of 25 percent female instructors, according to Reuters.
November 14, 2012

Can Navy Afford Next-Gen DDG-51 Destroyer, Packard Award Or Not?


Can Navy Afford Next-Gen DDG-51 Destroyer, Packard Award Or Not?
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Published: November 12, 2012

WASHINGTON: It's not a Nobel Prize, but the Packard Award matters in the big-dollar world of defense procurement. Last week, utterly overshadowed by elections, the Department of Defense awarded the Packard to the Navy's DDG-51 destroyer, the sleek grey mainstay of the fleet.

With 62 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers already in service, four under construction, and at least nine more in the Navy's latest five-year plan, getting the DDG-51 right -- at the right price -- is critical to the Navy. The Packard Award recognized an innovative approach that saved an estimated $300 million over the three most recent ships -- and which might help the Navy afford the next, far more challenging phase of the destroyer's evolution.


The Navy's particular problem is that commercial shipbuilding in America is all but dead. The "Big Six" shipyards that remain -- soon to be the "Big Five" once the Avondale, La. yard shuts down next year -- depend almost entirely on the Navy to stay afloat financially. Further shrinking the pool of potential competitors for contracts, not all of the Big Five can build every kind of Navy ship.


What's especially complicated is that the Navy plans to redesign the destroyer part-way through this five-year contract, evolving the DDG-51 into a ballistic missile defense ship with a revolutionary new radar that requires extensive new power and cooling systems. Critics charge the changes are so radical that this is really a new class of ship, just crammed into an existing hull, but the Navy simply calls the new destroyer DDG-51, Flight III. (The ships now being built are the version called "Flight IIA," which was preceded, naturally, by Flights I and II).

unhappycamper comment: I sure would like to hear Mr. Freedberg's take on the $5+ billion dollar DDG-1000 being built at Bath Iron Works.
November 14, 2012

Deficit cutters look to Pentagon budget

Deficit cutters look to Pentagon budget
Posted: Nov 13, 2012, 6:23 am
By Donna Cassata
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — One war is done, another is winding down and the calls to cut the deficit are deafening. The military, a beneficiary of robust budgets for more than a decade, is coming to grips with a new reality — fewer dollars.

The election accelerated an already shifting political dynamic that next year will pair a second-term Democratic president searching for spending cuts with tea partyers and conservatives intent on preserving lower tax rates above all else, even if it means once unheard of reductions in defense.


"It is a big piggybank," said former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican who along with Democrat Erskine Bowles had recommended $4 trillion in budget cuts over a decade, including deep reductions in defense, as part of a special presidential commission in December 2010.

"If you can't get in there and start getting stuff out of there when you have a defense budget of $740 billion bucks — and the defense budget of every major country on earth, 17 of them, including Russia and China, is $540 billion combined. Who is joshing who," said Simpson. "That's madness, madness."

November 14, 2012

Done in by the PATRIOT Act: The Grand Irony of the Petraeus Sex Scandal


Done in by the PATRIOT Act: The Grand Irony of the Petraeus Sex Scandal
Mon, 11/12/2012 - 17:44 — Anonymous
by: Dave Lindorff

There is a delicious irony to the story of the crash-and-burn career of Four-Star General and later (at least briefly) CIA Director David Petraeus.

The man who was elevated to the ethereal ranks of a General Eisenhower or Robert E. Lee by swooning corporate myth makers like the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Trudy Rubin, the Washington Post’s David Iglesias, and the NY Times’ Michael Gordon, was never really that brilliant. It wasn’t his “surge” after all that quieted things down (temporarily) in Iraq; rather it was a deal to pay off the insurgents with cash to stand down until the US could gracefully pull out without the departing troops having to be shoot their way down to Kuwait in full retreat. As for his allegedly “brilliant” counterinsurgency policy of “winning hearts and minds,” we have already seen how well that has worked in Iraq, which is now basically a client state of Iran, and the writing is already on the wall in Afghanistan, where the US is almost universally loathed, with US forces spending most of their time looking out for Afghan soldiers who might turn their guns on their supposed ally and “mentor” American troops.

For a real measure of Gen. Petraeus, go to Admiral William Fallon -- that rare military leader who had the guts to tell President Bush and Cheney he would not allow an attack on Iran “on his watch,” thereby quite possibly saving us all from being at war with Iran years ago. Fallon, who at the time in 2007 was head of Centcom, the military command region covering the entire Middle East, once reportedly called, Petraeus, who was being put in charge of the Iraq theater, an “ass-licking little chicken-shit” -- to his face.


The CIA chief was thus done in by the Patriot Act and other assorted violations of the First and Fourth Amendments, all backed by Gen. Petraeus and his political promoters in Congress and the White House, as well as in the corporate media.
November 13, 2012

Afghanistan has Peace scheduled for 2014 (maybe)


No breakthrough in Afghan peace efforts before 2014: official
By Michael Georgy and Hamid Shalizi
KABUL | Fri Nov 9, 2012 7:32am EST

(Reuters) - Afghanistan's government has failed to secure direct talks with the Taliban and no significant progress is expected before 2014, when most NATO combat troops withdraw, a senior Afghan official closely involved with reconciliation efforts said on Friday.

"No breakthrough is expected before the 2014 election," the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A political settlement between the Afghan government and insurgents is widely seen as the best way of delivering stability to the country before most NATO combat troops pull out at the end of 2014.

Afghan officials were also hoping to make progress in reconciliation efforts before presidential elections in April of 2014 to decrease the chances of prolonged instability in a nation that has suffered through decades of war.

unhappycamper comment: The appears to be the 2012 version of "Peace with honor".

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