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Andy62

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About Andy62

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  • Birthday 09/30/1988

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  • Name
    Andy Berg
  • School
    Buhler HS/Wichita State University
  • Location
    Portland, OR
  1. Name: Andy Berg Location: Portland, OR Email: andyberg62@gmail.com Phone: 620-200-5972 Previous Affiliations: Student at Buhler High School, Buhler, KS (2004-2007) and Assistant Coach at Buhler High School (2007-2009). I am interested in assistant coaching and judging in the Portland area. I just moved here after graduating with a degree in political science and anthropology from Wichita State University. My exposure to the national circuit is limited, however I am a two time state policy debate champion in Kansas (2006 & 2007), and have competed at both the NCFL (Policy and Lincoln Douglas) and NFL (Lincoln Douglas) tournaments and have judged policy, LD, and PFD at the NFL and NCFL nationals, as well as Kansas State Championships, Colleyville, and the Neosho, MO tournaments to name a few. My style is kind of a happy mediuim between traditional and contemporary styles. I enjoy contemporary argumentation and can deal with speed but still prefer quality over quantity of arguments as well as solid presentation over high speed with limited analysis. I have experience working with novices and advanced debaters and would love to get back into the game in the Northwest. Please email or call me if you're interested.
  2. The Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2009 A few ways the world changed while you weren’t looking. BY JOSHUA E. KEATING | DECEMBER 2009 Sometimes it's the page A14 stories -- the ones that never see the light of cable news or take a second life in the blogosphere -- that tell you the most about what happened during any given year. From a naval alliance that could shift the military balance of power on two continents to a troubling security gap in the U.S. passport system to a brand-new way to circle the globe, these are the stories that never got the attention they deserved in 2009 but could dominate the conversation in 2010. 1. The Northeast Passage Opens for Business The mythic Northwest Passage still captures imaginations, but this September, two German vessels made history by becoming the first commercial ships to travel from East Asia to Western Europe via the northeast passage between Russia and the Arctic. Ice previously made the route impassable, but thanks to rising global temperatures, it's now a cakewalk. "There was virtually no ice on most of the route," Capt. Valeriy Durov told the BBC. "Twenty years ago, when I worked in the eastern part of the Arctic, I couldn't even imagine something like this." The significance of this development varies depending on whom you ask. The passage could be a gold mine for the commercial shipping industry, opening up a vastly shorter and cheaper route from Asia to Europe. But for environmentalists, the news is a sign that climate change may be reaching a dangerous tipping point. Scientists' latest observations suggest that the Arctic might be largely ice-free during the summer within the next decade. The environmental consequences -- increased flooding in coastal regions around the world and extinction of local animal species -- are well known. But the thaw also opens possibilities for geopolitical competition. Russia has literally planted its flag beneath the Arctic ice, staking a claim to newly accessible natural resources, much to the consternation of the other northern states. The newly opened route will also benefit Russia by bringing new business to its eastern ports. With the scramble for the Arctic's riches heating up, even peaceful Canada has been holding war games to prepare for possible military confrontation. Photo: istockphoto.com 2. Iraq's New Flashpoint With the international media and chattering classes turning their focus to Kabul, almost any news coming out of Baghdad got short shrift this year. That's unfortunate because even as overall violence declined in Iraq, the conflict is far from over. From a persistent insurgency carrying out regular attacks in major cities, to the country's 2.7 million remaining internal refugees, to a distressing lack of political reconciliation in Baghdad, Iraq has any number of emerging flashpoints that threaten to tear apart the tentative progress of recent years. And most troubling of all may be the growing fears of a new conflict between Iraq's Arab and Kurdish populations. The limited attention this subject has gotten so far has focused on the Kurdish claims to oil-rich Kirkuk, but analysts say developments in nearby Nineveh, the province around the northern city of Mosul, might be more dangerous still. The area is south of the Kurdish border, but contains a large Kurdish population that is eager to incorporate the territory into Kurdistan. Following the U.S. invasion, the Kurds became politically dominant in Nineveh, largely because of the apathy of the local Sunni population, and stationed peshmerga militia troops in the area in an effort to bring it under Kurdish control. That changed in January when Sunnis rallied around the hard-line Arab nationalist party al-Hadba -- which campaigned on a platform of pushing out the peshmerga and countering Kurdish influence -- and handed it a narrow majority in Nineveh's provincial elections. The Kurdish Fraternal List, the main Kurdish party in the region, walked out of the provincial council, vowing not to return unless it was given a number of senior leadership positions. With both sides threatening to resort to violence to resolve the dispute and insurgent attacks continuing, including a truck bombing that killed 20 in a Kurdish village in September, Iraqi and U.S. authorities increasingly view Nineveh's conflict as the greatest threat to Iraq's stability. "Without a compromise deal, [Nineveh] risks dragging the country as a whole on a downward slope," Loulouwa al-Rachid, the International Crisis Group's senior Iraq analyst, said in September. As one sign of how tense the situation has become, U.S. troops were still patrolling in Mosul months after their official withdrawal from other Iraqi cities. ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images 3. A Hotline for China and India "Hotlines" between world leaders, like the legendary Moscow-Washington "red telephone" devised after the Cuban missile crisis, are designed to prevent misunderstandings or miscommunications between nuclear powers from escalating into a nuclear conflict. China and the United States have one. So do India and Pakistan. This year, the leaders of India and China agreed to set one up between New Delhi and Beijing, highlighting concerns that a worsening border dispute could quickly become the first major conflict of the multipolar era. Asia's two emerging superpowers are at odds over the Himalayan region of Tawang, a district of India's Arunachal Pradesh state that China claims is historically part of Tibet and therefore within China's borders. The countries fought a war over the territory in 1962 that killed more than 2,000 soldiers. The India-based Dalai Lama has a great deal of influence over the region's largely ethnic Tibetan population, further irritating Beijing. The area has been increasingly militarized, and the Indian military documented 270 border violations and almost 2,300 cases of "aggressive border patrolling" by the Chinese in 2008. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the area in October, drawing official protests and retaliatory measures from Beijing. In June, the Times of India reported that Chinese President Hu Jintao suggested to Singh that the hotline be set up so that the border dispute didn't lead to military -- or even nuclear -- confrontation between the countries. Although likely a prudent precaution, the hotline is an indication that Tawang has joined Kashmir as one of Asia's most dangerous flashpoints. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images 4. A New Housing Bubble? More than any other factor, ill-advised speculation on U.S. real estate set off the global financial crisis. But even after millions of foreclosures and secondary effects rippled through economies around the world, U.S. homeowners might be starting to make the same mistakes all over again. After suffering their largest month-to-month drop in history, U.S. home prices began to increase again in May. The S&P/Case-Shiller index, widely considered the most reliable measure of housing prices in the United States, rose 3.4 percent between May and July, with gains in 18 of the 20 cities the index measures. Prices were still 13.3 percent lower than last year, but even that figure was less than expected. The release of this data coincided with other positive indicators, including an increase in existing home sales and home construction. "We've found the bottom," one economist told the New York Times. Not so fast. Economist Robert Shiller, one of the index's creators, sees the numbers as alarming rather than promising. Pointing to survey data showing that most homeowners think that their house will increase dramatically in value over the next decade, he worries that "bubble thinking" might once again be taking hold. "t appears that the extreme ups and downs of the housing market have turned many Americans into housing speculators," he wrote in the New York Times. The government's solution to the housing crisis might, ironically, be causing the new problem, by encouraging irresponsible home buying by people who aren't able to afford it. The Federal Housing Administration, which backed nearly 2 million mortgages in 2009, saw the percentage of its loans that are delinquent or in foreclosure rise to nearly 8 percent in June, and the agency is quickly burning through its reserves for loan losses. A congressional committee has been formed to investigate the losses. Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has said that Congress should look into the potential trade-offs of federal loan support. With prices looking likely to keep rising in the near term and the U.S. government giving generous incentives for homeowners, there's a risk that the same irresponsible speculative behavior that caused the Great Recession might be returning. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images 5. The ‘Civilian Surge' Fizzles In November 2007, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a now-famous speech at Kansas State University in which he acknowledged that "military success is not sufficient to win" counterinsurgency wars such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan and called for an increased role and increased funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In its Afghan strategy this March, Barack Obama's administration seemed to be following through on this advice, calling for a "civilian surge" of State Department and USAID personnel to complement the increased number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. "What we can't do is think that just a military approach in Afghanistan is going to be able to solve our problems," Obama told 60 Minutes, echoing Gates's rhetoric. Just one month later, however, the administration asked Gates to identify 300 military personnel to fill jobs in Afghanistan intended for civilian experts, as not enough civilians were available. Defense Undersecretary Michèle Flournoy acknowledged that the government was "playing a game of catch-up" after years of not developing civilian expertise. The Pentagon has also been taking over traditional State Department functions in neighboring Pakistan, an unprecedented step in a country where U.S. troops aren't formally allowed to operate. Under a supplemental funding bill passed in June, the Pentagon was given temporary authority to manage a $400 million fund designed to boost the Pakistani military's counterinsurgency capabilities. Military assistance of this kind is usually supervised by the State Department, but Gates -- along with Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus -- argued successfully that the State Department lacked the capability to administer it. The State Department may yet live up to the initial vision of Gates and Obama -- a planned "civilian response corps" that would be able to deploy as many as 400 civilians to conflict areas seems promising -- and Foggy Bottom is slated to eventually take over the Pakistan counterinsurgency fund. But for now, the dream of a civilian surge to match the military effort seems far off. As analyst Anthony Cordesman, who has advised the U.S. military on Afghanistan, put it, "[W]e need to stop talking about 'smart power' as if we had it." DAVID MCNEW/Getty Images 6. The Beijing-Brazil Naval Axis Ever since China not so secretly bought several aging Soviet aircraft carriers during the 1990s, China's ambitious naval plans have been the subject of fevered speculation by military analysts. In March, Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie offered the strongest confirmation yet that China plans to embark on a major aircraft-carrier building program, telling his Japanese counterpart, "We need to develop an aircraft carrier." The Pentagon thinks that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) could have multiple carriers up and running within the decade, with construction costs likely to run into the billions. With little in the way of naval aviation experience, China would need to get its sailors and pilots up to speed in a hurry to meet that timetable -- and that means finding an already operational carrier to train on. The trouble is, only four countries still operate carriers capable of launching conventional aircraft. The United States has little interest in helping the Chinese military; France is prohibited from doing so by a European Union embargo; and Russia has recently grown more wary about military cooperation with its powerful southern neighbor. That leaves Brazil, which was only too happy to let PLAN officers train aboard its 52-year-old carrier, the São Paulo (which it bought from France in 2000). Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim revealed the program in an interview with a Brazilian defense website in May. Although the exact terms of the deal are unknown, it is widely thought that the Chinese might be funding a restoration of the aging São Paulo in exchange for the training program. A Chinese naval website also hinted that China might be helping Brazil build nuclear submarines, and Jobim himself said that he hoped the program would lead to military cooperation in other areas. The United States has long been the dominant naval power in East Asia, but Chinese ships have recently been growing bolder about shadowing and confronting U.S. vessels and launching legal challenges to what Beijing views as unlawful intrusions into Chinese waters. With China and India undergoing massive military buildups -- the Indians are working on a plan to convert a Russian aircraft carrier for their own use -- U.S. naval supremacy may be slipping. Publicly, the U.S. Navy maintains that a Chinese carrier wouldn't affect the military balance of power in the region, but this year's annual Pentagon report on China's military capabilities warns that the country's modernization campaign could "increase Beijing's options for military coercion." GUANG NIU/POOL/Getty Images 7. Dead Man Gets Passport Since 2007, the U.S. State Department has been issuing high-tech "e-passports," which contain computer chips carrying biometric data to prevent forgery. Unfortunately, according to a March report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), getting one of these supersecure passports under false pretenses isn't particularly difficult for anyone with even basic forgery skills. A GAO investigator managed to obtain four genuine U.S. passports using fake names and fraudulent documents. In one case, he used the Social Security number of a man who had died in 1965. In another, he used the Social Security number of a fictitious 5-year-old child created for a previous investigation, along with an ID showing that he was 53 years old. The investigator then used one of the fake passports to buy a plane ticket, obtain a boarding pass, and make it through a security checkpoint at a major U.S. airport. (When presented with the results of the GAO investigation, the State Department agreed that there was a "major vulnerability" in the passport issuance process and agreed to study the matter.) More than 70 countries have adopted the biometric passports, which officials describe as a revolution in immigration security. However, the GAO's investigation proves that even the best technology can't keep a country safe when the bureaucracy behind it fails. iStockPhoto.com 8. Chechen Murders Go Global The world was shocked in July by the murder of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova in Chechnya. Suspicions immediately focused on the Chechen Kremlin-backed strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov, a frequent target of Estemirova's investigations. But Estemirova was just one of several critics of Kadyrov who has been murdered in recent months, and it appears that living abroad is no protection. In January, Kadyrov's former bodyguard, Umar Israilov, was fatally shot in Austria, where he was seeking asylum. Israilov had filed a complaint against Kadyrov in the European Court of Human Rights, accusing him of abductions and torture. In March, an exiled former resistance fighter named Ali Osayev was murdered in Istanbul. This followed the killings of two other former Chechen rebel commanders in Istanbul in late 2008. All three murders were carried out with a similar weapon, according to police. Also in March, Sulim Yamadayev, who commanded a rebel faction that competed with Kadyrov's, was murdered in Dubai. His brother Ruslan, once Kadyrov's rival for the Chechen presidency, was murdered in Moscow in September 2008. Interpol issued warrants for seven Russian citizens in connection with Sulim's murder, including a Duma representative from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party. Then there's the shadowy conflict within the North Caucasus region itself, which is anything but frozen. Although Kadyrov's repressive tactics have largely succeeded in pacifying Chechnya and the Kremlin issued a showy mission-accomplished declaration of the end of hostilities there in April, there are increasing fears that the republic's Islamist insurgency is spilling over into the surrounding region, with a wave of car bombings and assassinations in neighboring Ingushetia. The president of that wayward republic was badly wounded in an assassination attempt in June. VISKHAN MAGOMADOV/AFP/Getty Images 9. America Joins Uganda's Civil War In January, the New York Times' Jeffrey Gettleman broke the story that the U.S. military had helped plan and fund a Ugandan military attack against an infamous rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), in eastern Congo. The attack was poorly executed, allowing the rebel leaders to escape and murder 900 civilians in retaliation. It was the first time the United States had directly participated in actions against the LRA, which is designated a terrorist group by the United States. The LRA's religious fundamentalist leader, Joseph Kony, has abducted tens of thousands of children to serve as fighters and sex slaves in his decades-long guerrilla war against the Ugandan government. The United States' new Africa Command (Africom) defended its role in the mission, saying that the Ugandan attack would have happened anyway and that it was "too early to bring a final judgment" about U.S. support. But if some members of the U.S. Congress get their way, Africom's role in the conflict may expand. A pending bill co-authored by Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and enjoying wide bipartisan support would commit the United States to "eliminating the threat posed by the Lord's Resistance Army ... through political, economic, military, and intelligence support." Although few disagree with bringing Kony to justice -- he has refused to leave his jungle hideout since the International Criminal Court indicted him for crimes against humanity -- the bill raises questions about the proper role of Africom, which has thus far functioned in a mostly advisory capacity, and commits the United States to involvement in one of Africa's bloodiest and most complex conflicts. Some debate is probably warranted. LIONEL HEALING/AFP/Getty Images 10. A ROTC for Spies To cultivate a new generation of spies for a new generation of global threats, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have proposed the creation of a program to find and train potential agents from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Modeled on the military's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) at U.S. colleges and universities, the program would seek out "first- and second-generation Americans, who already have critical language and cultural knowledge, and prepare them for careers in the intelligence agencies," according to a description sent to Congress by National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair. But unlike ROTC, an official familiar with the proposal told the Washington Post's Walter Pincus, students' participation in the program would be kept secret to prevent them from being identified by foreign intelligence services. Universities would apply for grants to create courses and programs to meet the needs of the intelligence community. The U.S. intelligence community already funds national security studies programs at more than 14 U.S. colleges and universities. This new program would likely be a far more ambitious effort, building on a 2004 pilot project that provided financial assistance to students who studied cryptology. Still, five years after the 9/11 Commission recommended that the CIA recruit more bilingual operatives, just 13 percent of agency employees speak a second language. CIA Director Leon Panetta has said he would like to eventually have every intelligence analyst be able to do so. The new college program is just one part of the formerly WASP-dominated agency's efforts to diversify its workforce. The CIA has also been actively recruiting in Arab-American communities and now offers hiring bonuses of up to $35,000 for recruits who speak "mission-critical" languages such as Arabic, Farsi, and Chinese.
  3. Abortion doctor Tiller shot to death WICHITA, Kan., May 31 (UPI) -- Dr. George Tiller, a prominent target for abortion opponents, was gunned down Sunday at his church in Wichita, Kan., and police said a suspect was in custody. Witnesses and a police source told The Wichita Eagle Tiller, 67, was killed just after 10 a.m. in the lobby of Reformation Lutheran Church, where he was an usher, as he handed out bulletins to people entering the sanctuary. A church member told the Eagle the assailant threatened another person after shooting Tiller. The newspaper said the suspect was arrested in Gardner but authorities had yet to release details. The suspect was described as a 51-year-old man from the Kansas City, Kan., area, CNN said. Speaking with reporters, Wichita Police Detective Tom Stoltz said, "We think we have the right person arrested." The Tiller family issued a statement through Wichita lawyers Dan Monnat and Lee Thompson. "Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather. Today's event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George's friends and patients," the family statement said. "This is particularly heart wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace." The Eagle reported congregation members were initially detained inside the church by police and witnesses to the shooting were later seen being taken downtown for questioning. Abortion opponents had focused on Tiller because his clinic, Women's Health Care Services, performs late-term abortions. "We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down," anti-abortion group Operation Rescue said in a statement on its Web site. "Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ." President Barack Obama said in a statement issued by the White House he was "shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning." "However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence," Obama said.
  4. Andy62

    CFL Results

    What was their Aff?
  5. Andy62

    CFL Results

    Here is a link to the codes since the site has been down: http://www.albanynationals.org/ncfl-saturday-breaks.txt
  6. May 20, 2009 Dems hire speed reader for climate change bill Posted: 08:52 PM ET From CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart WASHINGTON (CNN) – As Congress prepares for a weeklong recess next week, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have armed themselves with a special weapon to deal with a possible Republican effort to delay getting a major piece of legislation out of committee by Memorial Day. Democrats on the committee have hired a speed reader to read the more than 900-page climate change bill if necessary. A request to have the entire bill read aloud is a prerogative Republicans have a right to invoke which could be used to frustrate Committee Chairman Henry Waxman's deadline of Memorial Day to get the committee's work on the bill done. Even with the use of the speed reader, reading the entire bill could take the equivalent of more than a full work day of time.
  7. Just for the record, I am an Obama supporter and completely agree with your post. I think that the biggest thing he will have against him in 2012 is failing to meet every single one of the public's high expectations and he might face a fate similar to Jimmy Carter. Also, the point of me posting this article is to show that Obama, the Republicans, and crazy internet bloggers have all had slip ups over the past 100 days. PS: For those of you who didn't already know about FactCheck I highly recommend you visit the site. They do a pretty good job checking politicians and the media, as does PolitiFact. And if you really really like the site, Brooks Jackson wrote a book called "unSpun" that's pretty good as well.
  8. 100 Days of Spin What Obama said -- and what has been said about him. April 29, 2009 Summary After 100 days in office, we find President Obama is sticking to the facts – mostly. Nevertheless, we find that the president has occasionally made claims that put him and his policies in a better light than the facts warrant. He has claimed that private economists agreed with the forecast in his budget, when they were really more pessimistic. He's used Bush-like budget-speak trying to sound frugal while raising spending to previously unimagined levels. And he has exaggerated the problems his proposals aim to cure by misstating facts about school drop-out rates and oil imports. At the same time, there's been no shortage of dubious claims made about the president by his political opponents. Republicans have falsely claimed that Obama planned to spend billions on a levitating train and that his stimulus bill would require doctors to follow government orders on what medical treatments can and can't be prescribed, among other nonsense. And those whoppers are mild compared with some of the positively deranged claims flying about the Internet. No, the national service bill Obama signed won't prevent anybody from going to church, for example. And no, he's not trying to send Social Security checks to illegal immigrants. Analysis Economic Cheerleading Facing some heat from critics who complained that the administration’s budget figures are too rosy, Obama offered a misleading defense to a national TV audience during his March 24 prime-time news conference. He said: “Our assumptions are perfectly consistent with what Blue Chip forecasters out there are saying.” That wasn’t true. Obama was referring to the Blue Chip Economic Indicators, a survey of forecasts from 50 private economists. In fact, at the time he spoke, the most recent Blue Chip forecast was far more pessimistic than the administration’s budget projections. That’s no small matter, since a weaker economic performance will produce even larger federal deficits than the Obama budget already forecasts. Obama's Prime Time Pitch March 25 Budgetspeak Obama also got it wrong when he claimed in that same speech that “we are reducing nondefense discretionary spending to its lowest level since the '60s.” His own forecast puts this figure higher than in many years under Reagan, Clinton or either Bush. Furthermore, he used the same verbal sleight-of-hand that President George W. Bush had used to deflect attention from the larger truth – that total federal spending is (and was) soaring far beyond the government’s means to pay for it. “Nondefense discretionary spending” is just a small slice (under 20 percent) of total spending. It excludes military spending, homeland security spending and rapidly rising Social Security and Medicare spending, among other things. So even if Obama’s claim had been true, it would have been misleading – pure spin. Obama's Prime Time Pitch March 25 Presidential Puffery We've noted a tendency for Obama to puff up the problems he's facing, as well as the solutions he's proposing. For example: He told a joint session of Congress Feb. 24 that "we import more oil today than ever before." That's untrue. Imports peaked in 2005 and are lower today. Fact-Checking Obama's Speech Feb. 25 He claimed in the same speech that his mortgage aid plan would help "responsible" buyers but not those who borrowed beyond their means. But even prominent defenders of the program in his administration concede that foolish borrowers will be aided, too. Fact-Checking Obama's Speech Feb. 25 He claimed in a March 10 address on education that the high school dropout rate has "tripled in the past 30 years.” But according to the Department of Education, it has actually declined by a third. Education Spin March 18 We’ve also found Obama being more certain than is warranted. He is fond of repeating, for example, that his stimulus bill will “create or save” 3.5 million jobs. Maybe so; some leading economists figure that’s possible, though it's far from a certainty. The immediate reality, however, is that the economy has been losing an average of 22,000 jobs per day since Obama took office. Stimulus Bill Bravado Feb. 13 Another example occurred April 16 during his visit to Mexico. Obama wanted his hosts to crack down on the violent drug trade and was promising that the U.S. would do its bit, too. But he went too far when he said, “More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States.” It's true that U.S. officials say that more than 90 percent of the guns Mexican officials ask them to trace are found to have come through the U.S. But Mexican officials don't ask the U.S. to trace all the guns they recover, so there's no way to know exactly how many come through the U.S. Counting Mexico's Guns April 17 Republican Spin Of course, we’ve noted plenty of false claims made by Obama’s critics, too. Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia claimed Obama’s stimulus bill created "a national health care rationing board," when in fact it did nothing of the sort. Doctor's Orders? Feb. 20 A number of House and Senate Republicans claimed that Obama’s stimulus bill contained $8 billion for a “levitating train.” In fact, not a dime of the money was earmarked for the proposed 300-mph “maglev” bullet train between Anaheim, Calif., and Las Vegas; the $8 billion is now being directed to 10 other passenger routes using more conventional technology. GOP Stimulus Myths Feb. 24 Internet Dementia The wildest claims about Obama continue to come from anonymous chain e-mails that spread like viruses. Some notable examples: There's no evidence that Obama dithered and delayed the rescue by Navy SEALs of Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, as claimed in a quick-spreading e-mail full of military jargon. The retired rear admiral who (in some versions) supposedly wrote it told us he's not the author, and that he never even met a Navy SEAL. The message's central claims are false, according to both White House and Pentagon officials. Did Obama delay the rescue of Captain Phillips? April 24 Nobody will be prevented from going to church by the national service bill Obama signed on April 21, and students won't be forced into slave-like forced labor either. The bill actually had broad support from Republican lawmakers, many of whom enthusiastically joined Democrats to pass it. It greatly expands such existing programs as VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). Is Congress creating a mandatory public service system? Are participants not allowed to go to church? March 31 And there's no point in sending Obama a petition asking him to veto a bill to pay Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants, as urged in yet another viral message. Obama has never supported such a move, and there's no such bill anyway. Is Congress about to give Social Security to illegal immigrants? March 1 None of this surprises us. Spin, fact-twisting and deceptive claims have been standard fare in Washington for a long time, and we doubt that will change. It's just part of the messy process we know as democracy, and it's our job to help citizens sort through all that. – by Brooks Jackson
  9. Andy62

    Infamous cards

    mead '98. surprised no one has said it yet.
  10. Some top political minds grade Obama on his first 100 days: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4890
  11. Iran sentences U.S. journalist to 8 years Story Highlights U.S. secretary of state "deeply disappointed;" vows to "vigorously raise our concerns" Roxana Saberi went on trial earlier this week on charges of spying The journalist, an Iranian-American, has freelanced for NPR, other news agencies Her father, speaking from Tehran, says the verdict will be appealed TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- A U.S. journalist in Iran was sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage, her father, lawyer and news reports said Saturday -- a sentence that prompted denunciation from the United States. Reports in Iranian media, including an Iranian judiciary source quoted Saturday by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency, confirmed the sentence of Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old Iranian-American from North Dakota. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was "deeply disappointed" by the news. "We are working closely with the Swiss Protecting Presence to obtain details about the court's decision, and to ensure her well-being," Clinton said in a statement. The United States will "continue to vigorously raise our concerns to the Iranian government," Clinton said. "Ms. Saberi was born and raised in the United States, yet chose to travel to the Islamic Republic of Iran due to her desire to learn more about her cultural heritage. Our thoughts are with her parents and family during this difficult time." Saberi's lawyer confirmed the sentence and vowed an appeal would be launched within 20 days. "I will definitely appeal the verdict within this period," Abdolsamad Khorramshahi said. The case has unfolded as the Obama administration has signaled an inclination to engage diplomatically with Iran, America's long-term adversary. The countries have been at odds for years over Iran's nuclear program and Iranian actions and stances in the Middle East, such as the regime's links to Hamas and Hezbollah and its alleged support of insurgents in Iraq. Saberi has been living in Iran since 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a journalists' advocacy group. She has freelanced for National Public Radio and other news organizations, and was writing a book about Iranian culture. NPR said she also reported for BBC, ABC and Fox. Her media credentials were revoked in 2006 by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which accredits reporters working for foreign news organizations, CPJ reported. "According to NPR, Saberi continued to file short news items with government permission," CPJ said. Saberi was first detained in January, CPJ said, although no formal charges were disclosed. "She told her family that she was initially held for buying a bottle of wine," CPJ said on its Web site. "A spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry said later that Saberi was being detained at Tehran's Evin Prison for reporting without proper accreditation." Political prisoners are often jailed at the prison, CPJ said. Word that Saberi was charged with espionage emerged on April 8, CPJ said. Hassan Haddad, deputy public prosecutor, told the Iranian Students News Agency that "without press credentials and under the name of being a reporter, she was carrying out espionage activities." She appeared before a Revolutionary Court on Monday for a one-day trial that was closed to the public, CPJ said, quoting an Iranian judiciary official. Her father, Reza Saberi, told NPR on Saturday he believes his daughter was coerced into making damaging statements. He said the verdict was issued Wednesday. The court, which didn't meet Thursday and Friday, reconvened Saturday. Reza Saberi said his daughter was brought to the court, but he wasn't allowed to enter. A lawyer later told him she was sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage. Reza Saberi said his daughter had earlier wanted to go on a hunger strike but she was persuaded not to. However, he said there is a chance she might do so now in light of the verdict. Reza Saberi said his daughter is "very weak and frail." "She is quite depressed about this matter and she wants to go on hunger strike. If she does, she's so frail it can be very dangerous to her health." Others also denounced the verdict. "Roxana Saberi's trial lacked transparency and we are concerned that she may not have been treated fairly," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, the CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. "We call on the Iranian authorities to release her on bail pending her appeal." Vivian Schiller, NPR's president and chief executive officer, said the network is "deeply distressed by this harsh and unwarranted sentence." "Saberi has already endured a three-month confinement in Evin Prison, and we are very concerned for her well-being. Through her work for NPR over several years, we know her as an established and respected professional journalist. "We appeal to all of those who share our concerns to ask that the Iranian authorities show compassion and allow her to return home to the United States immediately with her parents." North Dakota lawmakers slammed the conviction. Democratic U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad called the ruling "preposterous," adding that the "charges against her are baseless." "She was tried in a secret trial without her attorney even being present. That is a travesty of justice." U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan called the ruling "a shocking miscarriage of justice." "The Iranian government has held a secret trial, will not make public any evidence, and sentenced an American citizen to eight years in prison for a crime she didn't commit," the Democratic senator said. U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-North Dakota, said he was "dismayed at the verdict from the secret trial of Roxana Saberi." "We know Roxana to be a fine young woman of intelligence and integrity and I hope based on humanitarian considerations she will be allowed to return to the United States. "I am humbled by the brave efforts of Roxana's parents who traveled from Fargo to Tehran, and I will continue to work closely with them in an effort to secure her release." Feature Story News, the stringer service that employed Roxana Saberi in Iran, also denounced the action. Simon Marks, president and chief correspondent, called the conviction a "miscarriage of justice -- or what passes for justice in modern Iran." "Roxana moved to Iran in February 2003 to offer global audiences balanced, objective coverage of news developments in the Islamic Republic. Since then, she has always honored journalistic principles of the highest professional standard. "We note that no evidence to support charges of espionage has ever been furnished by the authorities in Iran. We can only conclude that absolutely none exists." More than 10,000 people signed a CPJ petition calling for due process and her release as soon as possible. CPJ said it handed the petition in March to Iran's Permanent Mission to the the United Nations. Saberi isn't the only American in peril in Iran. Earlier this month, at a conference on Afghanistan in Netherlands, Clinton sent a letter to the Iranian delegation asking for information on and the safe release of Saberi Esha Momeni, an Iranian-American student arrested in Iran last October. Clinton also inquired about Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in March 2007. One U.S. senator suggested earlier this year that Iran may be holding Levinson in a bid to exchange him for Iranian officials seized by U.S. troops in Iraq in 2007. "On several diplomatic occasions when Bob Levinson's name has been brought up to Iranian officials, the standard answer is, 'We don't know anything about that.' But the next thing out of the Iranian officials' mouths are to discuss the matter of the Iranians held by the Americans in Irbil, Iraq," Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, told reporters in February. "You can draw your own conclusions," he said. U.S. troops arrested five Iranians accused of being members of an elite Iranian military unit during a January 2007 raid in the Iraqi city of Irbil. They were accused of supporting Shiite militias in Iraq, but Iran said they were diplomats and accused the United States of violating international law by raiding a consulate.
  12. PS: I found the author's name rather appropriate.
  13. The Pirate Economy Why the U.S. Navy can't win this fight. By J. Peter Pham April 2009 U.S. Navy via Getty Images Troubled waters: A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion aircraft captures video of the hijacked Maersk Alabama. Sunday's dramatic rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips brings to a felicitous end an incident involving the most egregious assault on U.S. commercial shipping in two centuries. The last time maritime marauders were so bold, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison tasked the fledgling U.S. Navy and Marine Corps with taking the fight to the pirate havens along the "shores of Tripoli." This weekend's incident highlights what the world's best-trained military can accomplish under the right conditions. But it also underscores the limits of force in the face of a seemingly intractable challenge posed by the Somali pirates. According to the International Maritime Bureau, 111 of the 293 incidents of piracy or armed robbery at sea in 2008 took place off the coast of Somalia -- double the number from the preceding year. And 2009 is hardly off to an auspicious start. In spite of poor meteorological conditions -- hardly favorable for maritime forays -- there have already been more than a dozen seizures so far this year. The pirates aren't just getting lucky. Indeed, Somali piracy is quite the opposite of the helter-skelter often portrayed in the media; it is a highly structured enterprise built around a number of syndicates. Pirate bases in Eyl, in the northeastern Puntland region, and in Xarardheere, in central Somalia, stand out for their audacity and for the resources they command. The syndicates operate "mother ships" far offshore that serve as long-range platforms for the speedboats that attack commercial vessels; they own depots along the coast where the pirates resupply before bringing captured boats to their main bases; and they coordinate the networks to support pirate operations on land. A report to the U.N. Security Council last month by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plaintively conceded that "these groups now rival established Somali authorities in terms of their military capabilities and resource bases." Not only are the Somali pirates well-organized, but they have proven to be highly resilient to changes in the strategic environment. As I warned in an analysis two weeks ago, the pirates have not been intimidated by the international naval force that has assembled to prevent a repeat of last year's hijackings. Instead, they have shifted their operations to less patrolled areas, with strikes increasingly taking place farther and farther from the coast, on the high seas of the western Indian Ocean. The attempted seizure of the Maersk Alabama, for example, took place approximately 240 nautical miles southeast of the Somali shore. Mother ships, which resemble fishing vessels, have also worked hard to confuse antipirate patrols by avoiding the Somali coast altogether, docking instead at ports in other countries for refueling and resupplying (the U.N. report identified Al Mukalla and Al Shishr in Yemen). Historically, piracy has been a crime of opportunity, and there are few places with conditions more favorable than the de facto statelessness that has afflicted Somalia since the collapse of the country's last effective government in 1991. In this Hobbesian state, all sorts of individuals have become stakeholders in the political economy of piracy. In exchange for a share in the eventual ransoms, wealthy Somali businessmen finance the purchase and outfit of mother ships and skiffs as well as the recruitment and arming of their crews. In various ports, paid informants send information about vessels' defenses, crews, cargos, and itineraries, enabling pirate gangs to select their targets and plot courses for interception. The Maersk Alabama, for example, had left Djibouti en route for Mombasa, Kenya, four days before it was hijacked; that information alone would have enabled a potential attacker to narrow the search for it, even without the automatic identification system (AIS) transmitting on board, radar, and other technologies. Once a vessel is seized and brought to a pirate base, negotiations begin between the pirates and representatives of the ship's owner and its insurer. Eventually, the ransom, which is nowadays typically about $1 million -- although $3.2 million and $3 million, respectively, were paid to the captors of the Ukrainian-owned weapons freighter Faina and the Saudi-owned supertanker Sirius Starearlier this year -- must be delivered directly to the hijacked vessel by agreed-upon intermediaries, usually rather specialized security consultants. Although many people are involved in the process -- from the dealers who supply the pirates with the fuel to sail out, to the prostitutes who entertain them on their return -- some are more susceptible than others to pressure from the international community. Certainly, pirate financiers in the Somali diaspora are targets for legal proceedings if evidence can be found of their role. Ship owners and insurers also bear a measure of responsibility because their ransom payments are incentivizing more and more Somalis to embark on careers in piracy. Other profiteers to target include the regional Puntland government and al-Shabab, the al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group that was formally designated a "foreign terrorist organization" last year by the U.S. State Department. Both entities receive a portion of the proceeds in exchange for allowing the pirates to operate in areas they control. That's an opportunity for a crackdown: A case could be made that the payment or handling of ransom is prohibited under international treaties (such as the U.N. Convention Against Corruption), U.S. domestic legislation (such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), or other laws covering the finance and material support of terrorism. Still, Somalis are going to have to step up. Because piracy plays a huge economic role in communities where the marauders are based, attacking the enterprise requires building up local political and security capabilities so as to reduce the extent of the areas of "lawlessness" that the pirates have exploited up to now. Such a strategy includes developing a coast guard, perhaps initially under African Union or subregional auspices, that would constantly patrol the region along the shore. Over time, this coast guard might acquire the wherewithal to collect and process information useful in taking down the pirate networks altogether. Even if it was never as sophisticated as that, a local coastal patrol has better prospects for sustainability than the continued massive presence of warships from the blue-water navies of the world. Undoubtedly, a robust military response like that delivered Sunday by the U.S. Navy to the captors of Captain Phillips (and the French Navy last Friday to the pirates holding the yacht Tanit and its French civilian passengers) will be needed again to deal with pirate actions underway and to deter other potential maritime hijackings. Of course, as Bjoern Seibert convincingly argued here two weeks ago, the various naval efforts need to be better coordinated, if not integrated. Ultimately, however, piracy is far more complex than any naval patrol; it will require more than just the application of force to uproot piracy from the soil of Somalia. J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University and is senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  14. Any word on other events yet?
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