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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Natural Gas Opponents, Citing Air Emissions, Come Out Blazing in Support of Marijuana Use

In a dichotomy that could witnessed in the nations capital Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colo) recently introduced the BREATHE Act, which is claimed to end Clean Air Act "exemptions" governing oil and natural gas development in the United States. In a March 17 press release, Congressman Polis, citing the imperative to ensure air quality safety, says this about the BREATHE Act:
“It’s simply common sense to ensure that we monitor extremely dangerous emissions, equip communities in heavy drilling areas with the tools they need to stay safe , and reverse these exemptions to the Clean Air Act.”
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) in the same press release adds this:
Whether you're drilling oil or gas, toxic fumes released in the process pollute the air we breathe, causing health problems for workers at the drilling sites and nearby residents. The BREATHE Act is another commonsense bill that will make sure that oil and gas companies use the best available technology to rid their emissions of harmful pollutants and protect our air and the people who breathe it."
This is all well and good. Everyone wants to breathe clean air without the risk of health problems or respiratory difficulties, but it takes a true politician to, in a matter of weeks, put to rest this line of argument to advocate for the legalization of marijuana. In a speech this week at the National Press Club in Washington DC, Rep. Polis - flanked by Steve Fox, director of public affairs at the National Cannabis Industry Association - renewed efforts to legalize marijuana.

Ben Smith of Politico helps to put Congressman Polis' duplicity into perspective....

"Drugs are fundamentally a health issue," said Polis on MSNBC. "Is there an abuse of drugs? Absolutely. Do people abuse alcohol, tobacco and marijuana? Yes. Should we have a national health strategy around reducing that? Yes. Does throwing people in prison for smoking a joint make sense? No."

And Polis tells the hip-hop magazine The Source that legalizing marijuana could actually even lead to urban renewal and greening.

"Marijuana farming in major urban centers would increase greenspace and make urban renwal profitable in the short and long-term," said Polis.
Yes you read that right. "Urban renewal" by way of pot farms. You cannot make this stuff up even if you tried. Somehow Rep. Polis is able to reconcile his concerns about the impact of clean-burning American natural gas production with the widely accepted fact marijuana smoke is carries a significant health risk is beyond me. For what it's worth, the American Lung Association, has this to say about the impact of marijuana use and health:

Marijuana smoke contains a greater amount of carcinogens than tobacco smoke. In addition, marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, further increasing the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Marijuana use is not only associated with adverse physical effects, but also mental, emotional and behavioral changes.

People who smoke marijuana frequently, but do not smoke tobacco, have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers. Many of these extra sick days are due to respiratory illnesses.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana, per se. In fact, I think it is more than appropriate, but I would expect some degree of consistency when making the argument and Jared Polis fails to maintain consistency.

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Terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas may now have chemical weapons.

Did Libyan rebels obtain chemical weapons from Qaddafi stockpile and sell them to Iran?

Since nuclear weapons were first used in 1945, any subsequent use has been deterred by the concept of “mutual assured destruction”. In the early nuclear confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union, this simply meant that both sides were constrained from using nuclear weapons by the assured knowledge that the other side would then also use them.

This doctrine presupposed a level of rationality on all those nations that possessed the ultimate weapon. As the number of nations that had nuclear weapons increased, the doctrine remained intact. This concept of  deterrence has kept the world from seeing any repeat use of the nuclear bomb.

But what if one had a nation governed by irrational beings? What if the rulers were possessed of a religious doctrine such that the deaths of large numbers mattered little? For example, when Iran gets nuclear weapons, can it be deterred by fear of assured destruction? Or what if the weapons got into the hands of a terrorist group that had no constraints on use?

One of the fears that we live with is that a group like Al Qaeda or Hezbollah, groups whose members look forward to basking  in the hereafter with 72 virgins, groups that have no difficulty  lining up an unlimited supply of suicide bombers, might get hold of such weapons. What then? The big fear surrounding nuclear weapons has been the idea that some rogue group might obtain them, and would not hesitate to use them.

Such groups would not be subject to  deterrence, not only because death is not necessarily a worrisome consequence for them,  but also  because there is no clear address to which to direct retaliation.

What is true for nuclear weapons is also true for biologic and chemical weapons, the other weapons of mass destruction. Now we have news of chemical weapons  that have been stockpiled in the armories of Libyan ruler Moammar Qaddafi,  that got into the hands of rebels who are fighting against Qadaffi.

According to this story, a large number  of artillery shells containing deadly chemical agents came into rebel hands when they captured facilities in and around Benghazi.  Apparently the rebels obtained at least 2,000 artillery shells carrying mustard gas and 1,200 nerve gas shells, and sold them “ for cash payment amounting to several million dollars”. The buyers?  Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah. The destination? Gaza and Lebanon.

While I need to caution that I have only a single source for this story at this time, it needs to be taken seriously. According to this source, representatives of Iran met with rebel leaders in Benghazi because they recognized a unique opportunity to get hold of Qaddafi’s stock of poison gas. They saw a chance to supply Hezbollah and Hamas with chemical  weapons without Iran being implicated. The weapons supposedly can be delivered by artillery or by drones, and it is known that Hezbollah has obtained drones from Iran.

The story  is supported by testimony given by the commander of US NATO forces, Adm. James Stavridis, to a US Senate committee on March 29, in which he spoke of “telltale signs of the presence of Islamic insurgents led by Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah” on the rebel side of the Libyan war. One must wonder why these groups were there.

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A theory on a radio commercial

I don't know if you've heard this commercial that I'm about to talk about, and I'm unable to find a transcript on the web, so I hope that you know which one I'm talking about.

This commercial is put out by Mountain Dew, and it features two spokespeople hyping two flavors of Diet Mountain Dew as they go head-to-head in a taste test. The female is rooting for the flavor of Supernova, and the male is rooting for the Voltage flavor.

This commercial irritates me to no end.

One reason is the female/male roles that are played upon. This meme has been tackled in more depth by better writers and deeper thinkers than me elsewhere, so I'll just quickly sum it up and go on to my other point.

The problem with these kinds of roles in commercials is that the female is invariably shown to be smarter and/or hipper than the male. Or, to put it another way, the male is shown to be clueless or bumbling, so much so that you really have to wonder how this stooge is able to get out among the general populace.

Is it too much to ask that both spokespeople are intelligent and knowledgeable? Is it so hard to have two positive roles for your spokespeople?

But there's a deeper issue here, one that I don't think I've ever seen before. And I don't know if this is intentional or not, although I think it most likely is intentional.

As I mentioned before, the female is a hip, smart role who advocates for the Supernova brand of Diet Mountain Dew, while the male advocates for the Voltage brand of Diet Mountain Dew. While the female talks intelligently about her brand, the male uses terms like "yak bak" and "twitter bomb", but obviously has no idea what they are or how they are used. He even sounds vaguely doltish, as if he has just walked into the spokesman's role.

Now this is an interesting dichotomy. Here we have a spokeswoman who is a positive for her brand, while we have a spokesman who is not. I think he is even a negative for his brand. Every time I hear this commercial, my only thought is that even if I was inclined to buy a Diet Mountain Dew, I would definitely not buy the Voltage brand. Who wants to be identified with an obvious dolt, a male bimbo?

Make no mistake about it, these roles are intentional. This commercial was not just quickly written and acted and just put out there. No, every word is examined before it is even put into the studio. Once it has been acted and produced, the ad is again examined in minute detail. Every second is examined, every inflection in the actors' voices are looked at in a critical manner. Nothing is left unexamined.

Like I said, this is something that I've never seen before. A spokesman who can only be seen as torpedoing his own brand at the expense of another brand. Now, I'm not saying that the male bimbo is intentionally doing this, but it is the net effect of his actions, and thus the commercial.

I think this is intentional on the part of Mountain Dew (Pepsico). The alternative is that the makers of the ad are so incompetent that they were unaware as to the effect that the ad has or how the ad would be viewed.

So the question is: why would Mountain Dew intentionally spike one of their own products, even if it was in favor for another of their products? I have a number of theories, but until more information is available, I'll keep those to myself.

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What Israel Should Do With the Peace Process.

The story is always the same in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process: Israel concedes land and policy to the Palestinian Authority, while Hamas fires more rockets from the Gaza Strip. Peace efforts is a farce and is completely one sided.

It doesn't matter what Israel concedes, or what project America funds, because the Palestinians don't want peace - they want time.

Time to push the United Nations to create a Palestinian State; time to push the Palestinian Authority and Hamas terrorists towards unity and time to push the Israeli government towards internal fracture and external pressure.

This process has got to end.

Prime Minister Netanyahu should immediately announce that no negotiations shall be held with any Palestinian representative until Israel's right of existence is absolutely recognized, and until Israel's land settlements are legally accepted as legitimate. Such a declaration would force the true intents of the Palestinians to be revealed for the entire world to see.

Israel can no longer allow the United Nations, or the Palestinians to control the storyline. They must take the initiative and write the narrative.

What say you?

Video- Dog Saved in Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami Rubble

Out of the devastation and destruction from Japan, there emerges a story that gives a modicum of comfort.  Here's your smile for the day:

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Video: Weiner Roasting

I noted the inherent hypocrisy in Anthony Weiner's request for an Obamacare waiver for New York City previously, but this video help's to rub his nose in it just a bit....

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Support For Hydraulic Fracturing From a Most Unusual Place?

Gasland producer Josh Fox appeared on MSNBC with Dylan Ratigan and Elena Craft of the Environmental Defense fund. Surprisingly, Fox is forcefully challenged on the facts related to hydraulic fracturing specifically and natural gas production in general. He is pressed to outline his plans for energy independence which boil down to, "carbon bad, wind/solar good."

While Fox waxes poetic about the fictional notion that wind and solar energy can exclusively drive America's economy, Environmental Defense Fund's Elena Craft - an air quality specialist- tells Ratigan this: "At EDF, I think we're realists. We realize that natural gas is part of a diverse energy portfolio."

Take home quote, MSNBC's Ratigan to Gasland's Josh Fox: "I'm not looking to get a propaganda speech from you."

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Israeli-Palestinian Peace Settlement; Why the Big Deal?

Let us stipulate two facts;

There is but a single nation that is a democracy in the Middle East; that nation is Israel

There is but a single nation that can be relied on to be consistently pro-Western in the Middle East; that nation is  Israel

So why the need for President Obama to put pressure on Israel to freeze the building of new homes?, And why the need for our President to force Israel  to make "peace" with the Palestinians, a peace that will only be a way-station on the road to another terrorist state in that part of the world, a peace that the Palestinians don’t want, a peace that will be anything but peaceful?  

The Israelis are correctly resisting the suicidal implications behind any imposed arrangement. But why is the impulse to achieve a settlement that will in fact settle nothing, there in the first place?

Lee Smith has an interesting article in Tablet in which he correctly points out  that the urgency surrounding the Palestinian issue  has little to do with reality. The various Muslim states, including Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and Iran, need to find a way to accomplish two things; divert attention from their own autocratic behavior, and win over the West to support their non-democratic governments. They do this essentially by changing the subject.

The problem, in their formulation, is not their own internal dysfunction, but rather it is the “Zionist entity”. And persons like James Baker in the senior Bush administration, persons like Samantha Powers in the current Obama administration, Europeans like Tony Blair, nod their heads with sage understanding, convinced in their hearts that the problem is Israel and the “Zionist lobby”.

Many American foreign policy gurus and most European diplomats, who should know better, swallow the nonsense that if we can only solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, all the other problems in the Middle East will magically disappear. When the attacks of Sept 11, 2001, against New York and Washington occurred, Al Qaeda talking little about Israel. Once they realized what a public relations bonanza that could be, the attacks took on an anti-Israel tint.

Now we  have a unique phenomenon. The Arab masses are rising up against their  autocratic leaders. And not one word about Israel. No one is claiming they are revolting over the “plight of the Palestinians”

It is hard to understand how the takeover of Lebanon by Syria, the killing of the Lebanese prime minister by Bashar Assad, the murder of 25,000 Syrians by Hafez Assad, the Iraq-Iran war, the genocide in the Sudan, or any of the dozens of other problems of the area, have anything to do with Israel . And so the lie has been exposed. Here is a reasonable question: will the Arabists of the State Department, or those like Samantha Powers who surround Barack Obama, change their tune? Not likely. Once stuck with an “explanation”, even the smartest people will tend to focus on those “facts” that support their theses, and ignore those realties that clash with their vision,  so-called confirmation bias.

Smith  points out that “The fact that a wave of revolutions has shaken the foundations of Arab politics without the slightest apparent connection to popular outrage against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians should be surprising to most experts and politicians in the West. For over four decades, the driving idea behind the West’s approach to the Middle East has been the supposed centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to Arab popular anger at the West and its key to ensuring the stability of the West’s favored regimes.”
 Why is President Obama still pushing for a peace based on old ideas, still pushing for a settlement “freeze”? America should know better. Our government keeps going back to the Middle East with the same proposals, ideas that have never worked. Why are these ideas stillborn? Because  the Palestinians have rejected any recognition of a Jewish state, or any solution that does not contain within it the seeds for the destruction of Israel,  and Israel has rejected suicide. The result over the decades has been  thousands of Israeli casualties resulting from  terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, who are doing the dirty work of Syria, Iran and others, and thousands of Arabs killed when Israel responded.
As Lee points out, “ this is no “meaningless” cycle of violence; rather, it is the product of a deliberate diplomatic process overseen by the world’s oldest democracy. It was the United States that kept going back to the well over and over”

Barack Obama, Bashar Assad, Egypt, Iran, George W. Bush, , Hamas, Hezbollah, Hillary Clinton, Jerusalem, John Kerry, Syria, the crisis in Egypt, Israel-Palestinian problem, Samantha Power, Tony Blair, James baker,
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Are Unintended Consequences the Intention?

Joining the slow motion delivery of Iraq to the Ayatollahs of Iran and the decade long quagmire of Afghanistan America’s Progressive leadership stumbled into Libya with all the bravado and none of the experience of Custer at Little Big Horn.  The UN and NATO get more attention and have more influence on a decision affecting the lives of our warriors and the security of our nation then the United States Congress. 
The government drifts rudderless into the whitewaters of war, the mission changes with each new speaker at the podium, and the President appears more interested in sporting events and vacations than in doing his job.  With a foreign policy this well directed the unintended consequences are the only consequences we should count on, which makes one wonder how unintended they are. 
On the Home front after all the back-slapping died down its plain that as far as Congress goes the new boss is just like the old boss.  First the Patriot Act receives rubber-stamp approval.  Then a series of highly publicized overly dramatic Continuing Resolutions take one step back and billions of steps deeper into debt.  And after the record-shattering victory of the Tea Party led Republicans the Progressive’s Evolution Revolution continues as the Stimulus, Obamacare, and the Financial Reform Bill take affect and strangle the economy.
The Stimulus: a slush-fund to help re-elect the President kicks into high gear pouring out money for make work jobs. The administration trumpets each drop in the unemployment figures as a return to normalcy when everyone knows it is merely a reflection of discouraged workers leaving the job market as America’s work force shrinks.  It is patently absurd to think that government spending can grow the economy.  Government only gets money by expropriating it from the economy in the form of taxes, inflation, or borrowing.  It then rakes off exorbitant handling fees and then puts it back into the economy.  If I take twenty dollars out of my right pocket, throw eleven dollars down a rat hole and then put nine dollars in my left pocket how have I increased my net worth?
Obamacare: sold to the American people on the basis of insuring 30-40 million people while at the same time lowering costs is busting the budget.  Even according to the Progressive’s own Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media the budgets so far proposed by President Obama add in excess of $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years, as analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 
This nonpartisan report contrasts with the still disturbing projections of the White House, which stated that President Obama's budget would produce deficits adding only $8.5 trillion to the national debt in the same time frame. That was last year and the dominant Progressive party never passed that budget in the face of elections.  This year’s budget is even bigger yet the administration claims it will result in lower deficits and a decreasing debt and the cow jumped over the moon.
This optimistic White House projected a deficit of about $1.5 trillion last year or 10.3% of the entire economy which would be the largest since World War II.  The report went on to predict a $1.3 trillion in 2011.  It is now estimated at 1.6 trillion.  The sobering news does not stop there however.
The CBO continues in a considerably less optimistic vein predicting that deficits would never fall below 4% of the economy under President Obama's policies and that they will begin to grow even larger after 2015.  The report also notes that perpetual deficits of this size will make it necessary for the government to continue to borrow at ever accelerating rates and that by 2020 the national debt will account for an astounding 90% of the economy.  The CBO also projected that the interest payments on this escalating debt would increase by over $800 billion in the next decade.
The financial reform Bill was passed on a wave of indignation concerning big banks which foreclosed on homes without reading error-filled paperwork.
It is beyond absurd that legislators who routinely pass thousand page bills without reading them were really indignant at the crony capitalists who are among their biggest donors because they foreclose on houses without reading the mortgage papers.  Can’t you just see our legislators from central casting in the best Congress money can buy, sleeves rolled-up, coat over the shoulder ready for a photo-op as they plan more regulations to clean up the mess their previous regulations caused? 
The crisis with the big banks exploded after President Obama theatrically pointed his finger at the EVIL bankers telling them defiantly, “We want our money back!” as he is lobbied Congress for the imposition for a Financial Crisis Responsibility Tax.  It turns out that the bankers are passing any taxes imposed on them to consumers in the form of fees.  So now we get to contribute the money to pay ourselves back for the money Washington appropriated from us to bail out the banks. 
To finish the cyclical kabuki farce Congress then bails-out their friends again so they can return to the casino floor to place our money, our children’s futures, and the fate of our economy on Red-13.  It’s time to deactivate the robo-signers.  It’s time to vote out the cronies in Congress and to stop doing business with the cronies in the financial industry.   There are alternatives available: citizen-patriots who will serve a few terms and return to the real world and locally owned banks and credit unions. 
What’s the shape of our Transformed America? Looking at the government-induced government-sustained Great Recession, the unsustainable debt that grows every day, and the increasing over-extension of our military obligations the now repudiated doctrine of Too-Big-to-Fail may be our last best hope.  America’s status as the largest consumer economy in the world makes us valuable to China, the largest manufacturer in the world.  Hopefully they will continue to buy and hold our debt. After two years of the Obama Administration it feels like America’s New Motto should be “Help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

Auditors: Widespread Corruption, Kickbacks, Embezzlement Plague China's High Speed Rail Projects

Construction Worker on Beijing-Tainjin High Speed Line- China Daily Photo
China's National Audit Office released a report earlier this month detailing how 187 million Yuan (roughly $28.5 million) in funds were embezzled from the Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail project alone.
China’s state audit office said on Wednesday it had identified numerous cases of embezzlement and other irregularities from just a three-month period of construction on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line last year and has passed the cases on to judicial authorities for formal investigation.

China’s railway minister and the rail ministry’s deputy chief engineer were both removed from their positions last month for “severe disciplinary violations” — an allegation that usually results in criminal charges for corruption.
The resignations and scandals have prompted China's Ministry of Railways to re-inspect some of the lines while casting future projects in doubt. Other problems uncovered by the audit include double-billing and filing of fake invoices.

Sacked former Railways Minister Liu Zhujin allegedly pocketed $122 million in payouts for doling out contracts for construction of various high speed rail projects since taking office in 2003. The Ministry racked up an estimated 1.3 trillion Yuan in debt under Liu's tenure and Liu is the highest ranking Communist Party official to be dismissed from his post in 5 years.
China Rail Attendants Completing Training in Tianjin- Xinhua Photo
China's ambitious high-speed rail projects have frequently been cited by politicians here as an example of large public works projects playing a role in improving a nation's economy, with California and Chicago seeking Chinese capital and technology for their own proposed high speed rail projects.

However, ongoing corruption case against Liu Zhijun should stand as a cautionary tale for some of high-speed rail's more enthusiastic backers.

Should the ambitions of President Obama and so many other politicians regarding high speed rail be realized, we would likely be faced with the prospect of multiple public works projects even bigger in size and scope than the Big Dig, only with more cost overruns and even less oversight. And even if the various projects finish on budget and on time the costs simply won't end with the construction of a dedicated high-speed rail line. There is also the matter of ridership and maintaining not only the rail and roadbed, but the electrical infrastructure such as transformers and overhead wires and catenary poles.

Krauthammer Obliterates Hillary Clinton.

Charles Krauthammer, who we can all agree is quite wise, absolutely obliterated Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in his new column this morning:
Few things said by this administration in its two years can match this one for moral bankruptcy and strategic incomprehensibility.
Krauthammer has once again demonstrated why Conservatives absolutely love his weekly columns in the Washington Post. We are quite lucky to have him on our side in the continuous ideological fight between Conservatives and Liberals. 

Check out the entire piece.

What the... US Ending Its Air Combat Role in Libya

No, this is not an April Fool's joke.

The Pentagon announced yesterday that the United States will be pulling its attack planes out of Libya.  The Obama Administration hopes that NATO can pick up the slack.

Amongst the well-deserved criticism were words like, "odd," "troubling," and "unnerving."  Senator John McCain said sarcastically, "Your timing is exquisite," in reference to the fact that Dictator Maummar Gaddafi's forces have been pushing back against rebels.
President Obama
If the United States isn't going to use its planes to enforce a no-fly zone, can someone explain to me why we even bothered doing any of this?  We've had a drawn out debate for the last month and a half about the United States' role in Libya and right after the President declares that we're bombing the country, we're leaving.

Why did we waste our time?  If NATO is going to "pick up the slack," why did we go in in the first place? Did we ever intend to stay, or was this all for show?

What in God's name is President Obama doing?

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Gov't to Spend $600,000 on Toad Statue

People in the United States are rallying against wasteful government spending as the deficit and national debt soar.  Officials do not seem to be listening.  Either that or they really like amphibians.

Having spent $700,000,000 on a new building (the Mark Center) in Alexandria, Virginia, the Department of Defense is looking to furnish the interior.  Though you may think that the government might want to save, instead they had an idea:  spend $600,000 on a sculpture of a toad that has a fairy on top.

But something as costly as this would be the main attraction at the building, or at least in the main lobby, right?  Well, no.  Actually, if the statue is purchased, it will be seen by relatively few people, as it will be located near bus shuttles.
Worth six-figures?
The statue of the toad is not the only piece of art being considered by the Mark Center, either.  It is one of four that could be purchased.  It is unclear if they could all be bought by the government, or only one.

A city official added about the cost:  "the $600,000 is federal money, and that no Alexandria funds will pay for the art."  Well, that's nice.  Now, who does federal money come from...  Oh yeah, us.

US News adds:
The four art proposals for the bus terminal include works for a wall and sculpture. But the one drawing most attention is the fairy and frog from artist Cheryl Foster. Her proposals describes the sculpture this way: "A 10-foot fairy, using an American Toad as 'transportation,' scurries to the entrance of the station. The interior of the toad is illuminated and the sounds of nature emanate from his throat." She said that nature inspired her.
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Attempted Jihadi Probe of California Marine Corps Base?

Officials with the United States Marine Corps said they have stepped up security procedures after a suspicious incident involving three Middle Eastern men took place at Camp Pendleton just north of San Diego last weekend.
SAN DIEGO -- One of the nation's largest military bases is reportedly under tighter security after three Middle Eastern men tried to enter without proper authorization. 10News learned the three men -- 40-year-old Afghani Ahmad Rahmani Naeem, 41-year-old Iranian Vahik Petrossian and 27-year-old Iranian Sengekdi Norvik Avanosian -- attempted to get into Camp Pendleton last weekend under what was considered suspicious circumstances.

According to a Be On the Lookout (BOLO) alert issued to high-ranking Camp Pendleton officials, someone reported hearing hateful comments and terrorist threats from three men at a gas station in Oceanside Saturday.

Investigators at Camp Pendleton said the men asked the attendant for directions on how to get to Camp Pendleton before they left the gas station. According to the alert, shortly after midnight Sunday, a rented silver Toyota Corolla driven by Naeem attempted to enter Camp Pendleton through the main gate.

As it was being searched, Petrossian and Avanosian drove up in a black Mercedes, but were told to wait. Instead, they continued past the gate and onto the base. Following a short pursuit, the Mercedes was stopped and searched.

No weapons or contraband were found in the Mercedes, but base security noticed the air bag in the steering wheel of the Mercedes had been pulled out and re-attached with duct tape and had wires hanging free, the alert said.

According to the alert, Naaem told base security he was lost and was trying to go to Glendale. When interviewed, Petrossian and Avanosian said they were lost and trying to go to Glendale.

The three men claimed not to know each other, the alert said. Naaem, Petrossian and Avanosian were photographed and released after questioning, and a warning about the trio was posted to law enforcement.

However, later that morning about 8:30 a.m., Naeem returned in the Toyota and tried to get on the base again, saying he made a mistake and was trying to enter Interstate 5, the alert said. After his vehicle was searched, Naeem was issued a letter of debarment from the base and escorted to the freeway.
[Petrossian and Avanosnian may very well be Armenian surnames, but keep in mind there is a sizable ethnic Armenian population in the northwestern corner of Iran around Tabriz, not to mention the two men could just as easily be travelling under an alias- Fenway_Nation] Investigators at Camp Pendleton also said that a criminal background check on the three men turned up nothing.

At a cursory glance, this would appear to be some sort of probe to gauge the security at Camp Pendleton (however poorly executed)- one vehicle to distract/occupy the guards while the second one would make their move on targets further into the base.

The incident comes a little over a week after the US Border Patrol arrested a van full of illegal immigrants from Mexico who were wearing Marine uniforms. A Border Patrol agent who had previously served with the USMC grew suspicious while working at a checkpoint outside of Pine Valley, CA (some 40 miles east of San Diego) when the van full of men were unfamiliar with the Marine Corps' 'Ooo-Rah!' salutation or the Marine Corps birthday.

Also worth mentioning is that about 15 miles north of Camp Pendleton is Edison International's San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, so there would be an abundance of potential targets out there for anybody interested in causing mayhem.

[Hat tip: The Jawa Report, Cross posted at Not Another New England Sports Blog!]

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Month in Review

Pundit Press is glad to bring you another month of the coverage you've grown to expect from us. We've had a successful March, with traffic rising to all-time highs. Since the last Month in Review in February we've done very well.
Since March first we've had 160,365 total pageviews. This is a 19% increase over February's figures. We're up to 76 followers, 47 Twitter followers, and 124 subscribers. Make sure to subscribe if you like the site!

We wound up with exactly 300 articles for the month.
  • Thomas led the way with 94 articles, or 31.33% of the total. His top article was Arif Uka Identified as Frankfurt Airport Shooter with 1,397 total views.
  • Aurelius came in second with 91 total pieces, or 30.33% of the total. His top article was Pictures of Japanese Earthquake with 58,492.
  • Unlikely Hospitalist came in with a respectable third, with 48 articles, or 16% of the total. He had 15.3% last month. His top article was They're Baaaack with 3,892 hits.
  • Mr K. entered in at fourth, with 42 articles, or 14%. He had 11.8% of the total last month. His top article was about the tsunami that hit Oregon, with 449 hits.
  • Dr. Lawrence W. White had 8 articles, or 2.66%. 
  • Eric Dondero had 4 pieces, or 1.33%.
  • Dr. Robert Owens also had four articles, or 1.33%.
  • Joe C. came back with 4 whole articles, or 1.33%.
  • Fenway Nation entered into the first MiR with two articles, or .67% of the total.
  • Kaptain Krude had 1 article, or a total of .33%.
Now, to the part you're all waiting for, the top twenty articles of March 2011:

1. Pictures of Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami March 11, 2011 by Aurelius comes in with 58,492 views or 36.5% of the total hits for the month.
2. Live Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami Coverage Updates (March 11, 2011) by Aurelius with 7,499 views, or 4.7% of the total.
3. Hawaii Tsunami, March 11, 2011 by Aurelius with 6,838 views. or 4.3% of the total.
4. Obama Libya Speech Scheduled To Accommodate 'Dancing With The Stars' by Aurelius with 6,050 viewsor 3.8%.
5. Arif Uka Facebook Profile Found? by Aurelius with 4,965 viewsor 3.1%.
6. They're Baaaack....... by Unlikely Hospitalist with 3,892 viewsor 2.4%.
7. Lara Logan Video? by Aurelius with 3,378 or 2.1%.
8. Internists Remind Physicians About Universal Ethical Principles by Unlikely Hospitalist with 2,711 or 1.7%.
9. Obama Attempts to Restrict 2nd Amendment without Congressional Approval by Aurelius with 2,665 or 1.7%.
10. Video- Obama Advisor: 'Invade Israel' by Aurelius with 2,381 or 1.5%.
11. Live Video of Hawaii Tsunami by Aurelius with 2,315 or 1.5%.
12. Arif Uka Pictures? by Aurelius with 2,136 or 1.3%.
13. Obama Speech Live (March 11, 2011) by Aurelius with 1,904 or 1.2%.
14. Kucinich: Obama Should be Impeached by Aurelius with 1,533 or 1%.
15. Muslim Brotherhood Leader: Qaddafi Must Die by Aurelius with 1,401 or .9%.
16. Arif Uka Identified as Frankfurt Airport Shooter by Thomas with 1,397 or .9%.
17. Japan Earthquake, March 11, 2011 by Aurelius with 1,336 or .8%
18. Obama Speech on Libya Live March 18, 2011 by Aurelius with 1,298 or .8%
19. Live Bombing Libya Attack Video by Thomas with 1,041 or .65%
20. Deranged Liberals: Walker Must Die by Aurelius with 1,002 or .62% of the total.

We've welcomed Fenway_Nation aboard this month. Fenway runs one of our favorite blogs, Not Another New England Sports Blog.

Next, we want to recognize our Top Writer of the Month. Last month it was Unlikely Hospitalist for his great coverage of the Wisconsin doctor drama. This month, it's Aurelius.

To Those that Linked to Us

We want to thank the following sites for their consideration:

Protein Wisdom
Reaganite Republican
Pirate's Cove
Michael Savage

Gateway Pundit
The Lonely Conservative
Michelle Malkin
Tomb of the Unknown Blogger (for those that linked but we missed)

Some interesting notes:
  • Pundit Press' Alexa ranking has grown again, now to 195,387, passing the 200,000 mark for the first time in our history.
  • As said earlier, we added Fenway_Nation to our staff.
  • Joe's article percent went up infinity.
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Marcellus Shale Takes Public Relations Hit

New Study from Gregory FCA and GoMarcellusShale.com Shows Marcellus Shale Continues to Take Hit in Public Opinion

A recent survey of Marcellus Shale public opinion, conducted by Gregory FCA and GoMarcellusShale.com, reveals that this vital source of domestic clean energy continues to take a public opinion thumping as traditional media reporting turns negative toward development of natural gas in the Appalachian Basin.

The study—which used Nielsen BuzzMetrics to cull more than 45,000 traditional media sources and over 150 million social media sources, including blogs, blog comments, message boards, forums, Facebook and Twitter—shows that the interest in Marcellus Shale by the media and general public is immense, drawing some 56,625 comments over the past year, more than the online and media interest shown in the eight other major shale plays throughout the United States.

While the interest is intense, the public sentiment toward Marcellus Shale development is exceedingly negative, compared to other shale plays. In fact, in traditional media, Marcellus Shale proves to be a lightning rod for negative press reports, with a positive sentiment of only 1.1 on a 10-point scale with five being the most positive sentiment and negative 5 being the lowest sentiment. As a point of comparison, Niobrara and Bakken Shale plays scored positive sentiments in the traditional media over the past year, with 5 and 4.5, respectively. Only the Utica Shale play scored more negative sentiment in traditional media, with a negative 1.5 sentiment in traditional press.

Interestingly, Marcellus Shale showed higher public sentiment in the digital domain, scoring nearly double the positive sentiment in online comments—a positive 2.8 sentiment in social media compared to 1.1 positive sentiment in traditional media.

“Clearly, traditional media has been persuaded by environmental groups as well as broad-based media vehicles—such as the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘Gasland,’” says Keith Mauck, the publisher of GoMarcellusShale.com. “This has had a corrosive effect on the public opinion of Marcellus Shale, penetrating the reporting by mainstream media and tainting their worldview of the issue.”

At the same time, sentiment in user-generated content—social media—is nearly twice as positive than comments and reporting in traditional media.

“That’s an interesting and counterintuitive conclusion, particularly considering that environmental groups are typically savvy social networkers who know how to get their message out online,” says Greg Matusky, President of Gregory FCA, one of the nation’s 50 largest public relations agencies. “It tells me that while the media is decidedly negative, citizens and supporters of natural gas development in the Appalachian Basin have found a place online to voice their support, a place that’s unfiltered by reporters and editors. It also suggests that the industry has not done a good enough job of communicating facts to traditional media.”

Conversely, industry groups may have found an effective way of countermining traditional media reporting.

“The recent New York Times expose comes immediately to mind,” says Matusky. “The article, which reported on groundwater contamination by Marcellus Shale development, was strongly attacked online by industry groups. Our study shows that this kind of rapid response through unfiltered and direct channels can affect public opinion.”

What is not so clear, however, is whether more positive online sentiment will eventually affect traditional media coverage and convince reporters and editors that domestic, clean energy, if developed responsibly, represents a major energy advance for America.

“The stakes are high—as evidenced this month when America went to war arguably over Mideast oil and on the heels of a nuclear disaster in Japan,” says Mauck. “America’s future depends on an effective, long-term energy policy, and public opinion weighs heavily in the direction of that policy, which is why this study is so timely and important for our nation.”

The study, which includes sentiment reporting by energy type, development method, and company players, can be downloaded at http://www.marcellus-shale-public-opinion-report.com/.

Interesting thoughts in the comment section. I for one blame the New York Times.

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