Nov 27 2009
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently released figures that show 1 out of 4 Afghan combat troops went AWOL or quit in the year ending in September. Desertion rates are so high and retention rates so low that Gen. McChrystal’s plans to build up the Afghan National Army (ANA) to replace American troops for Afghan security will not work, if the trends continue, because the ANA can get barely enough recruits to replace the losses. Making matters even worse, the loss rate is accelerating while the growth of the ANA is slowing. Moreover, A U.S. GAO report showed the ANA has a 19% absenteeism rate, leaving just 26,000 troops available for combat.
To fight this growing problem the DoD changed accounting procedures in September 2008. Formerly, only troops that were trained and assigned to a unit were counted. Now everyone, including green recruits, is included in the overall strength figures.
Oct 17 2009
Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis wrote that American troops are viewed by Afghanis as occupiers. Increasing troop levels, as proposed by General McChrystal would only increase resistance. He recommended cutting combat forces.
“Many experts in and from Afghanistan warn that our presence over the past eight years has already hardened a meaningful percentage of the population into viewing the United States as an army of occupation which should be opposed and resisted,” writes Davis.
Providing the additional 40,000 troops that Gen. McChrystal has reportedly requested “is almost certain to further exacerbate” that problem, he warns.
Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis wrote a 63 page report on his own time advising against the strategy proposed by General Stanley McChrystal. Lt. Col. Davis is highly experienced in Afghanistan after serving as liaison officer between the Central Command and the Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan (CFC-A) in 2005. Moreover, in 2008 & 2009 he commanded a transition team on the border of Iraq and Iran.
Successful counter insurgencies require the support of the population. After 8 years we don’t have that support. Therefore, Lt. Col. Davis proposes a change in strategy to a “Go Deep” strategy.
The “Go Deep” strategy proposed by Davis would establish an 18-month time frame during which the bulk of U.S. and NATO combat forces would be withdrawn from the country. It would leave U.S. Special Forces and their supporting units, and enough conventional forces in Kabul to train Afghan troops and police and provide protection for U.S. personnel.
Oct 01 2009
The 1976 Viking lander would have likely found water ice on Mars if it had probed just 4 inches deeper.
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed frozen water hiding just below the surface of mid-latitude Mars. The spacecraft’s observations were obtained from orbit after meteorites excavated fresh craters on the Red Planet.
Water ice, never seen before in Mars’ “temperate” zone, was discovered in a shallow crater that was made in 2008. The ice reveals that Mars was warmer and wetter in the relatively recent past.
The finds indicate water-ice occurs beneath Mars’ surface halfway between the north pole and the equator, a lower latitude than expected in the Martian climate.
This ice is a relic of a more humid climate from perhaps just several thousand years ago.
said Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Mars has large variations in its tilt that cause its climate to change even more strongly that the changes from glacial to interglacial on earth. However, Mars lost most of its atmosphere to space because Mars lacks the mass (size) to hold on to its upper atmosphere when it interacts with energetic particles in the solar wind. With only 1% of the atmospheric pressure of the earth, the Martian surface is uninhabitable to humans.
Jul 30 2009
Photo By VinceVarnas, Oregon FishOutofWater
Electric blue clouds, literally at the edge of space, have been recently seen glowing in the dark from Oregon to Colorado to Virginia, further south than they have ever been seen. Noctilucent clouds were first reported in the far north after the Krakatoa eruption. Until the last several decades they were always seen north of 50 N Latitude. No one is sure why the clouds are moving south but global warming is a suspected cause.
Feb 13 2009
A truth and reconciliation commission for
seeking answers so that we can develop a shared understanding of the failures of the recent past.
will not achieve your objective to
make sure they never happen again
unless the Department of Justice is allowed to pursue justice aggressively.
Since J. Edgar Hoover began illegal FBI surveillance of American citizens in the 1950’s we have had repeated violations of basic Constitutional rights by the government followed by investigations by commissions. However, because no one in the government suffered any consequences for their actions the violations not only continued, they have grown worse. Justice must be pursued and laws protecting citizens’ Constitutional rights must be enforced to stop the violations. J Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy abused the power of the FBI to keep files on congress and private citizens using the ruse of the red scare. McCarthy was censured and driven from the Senate but only the victims of his abuse suffered real punishment. J. Edgar Hoover continued his abuses of power, keeping files on Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders.
Dec 05 2008
Zimbabwe is in a condition of complete collapse. Cholera is spreading because the government is out of money to pay for water purification. Over 500 people have died. Troops went on a rampage in Harare yesterday when they couldn’t get funds out of banks. People are starving.
Today, South Africa’s president is announcing a plan for South Africa to go into Zimbabwe to deal with the crisis.
President Kgalema Motlanthe’s cabinet will today unveil a plan for rescuing the country, which is buckling under the weight of a shattered economy, food shortages, a cholera outbreak and rioting soldiers.
Jun 25 2008
Since 1995 the number of oceanic dead zones, masses of oxygen depleted water deadly to most marine life, has grown from 44 to 169. The International Whaling Commission reported that dead zones are killing the world’s coastlines, increasing by a third in the last two years.
Jun 23 2008
Both the National Hurricane Center and the Colorado State University forecast team founded by Dr. Bill Gray are forecasting above normal Atlantic hurricane seasons. The NHC is predicting 12-16 named storms, 6-9 hurricanes, 2-5 major hurricanes and an “ACE” range 100%-210% of the median. CSU is predicting (PDF) 15 (avg. 9.6) named storms, 8 (avg. 5.9) hurricanes, 4 (avg. 2.3) intense hurricanes and a “NTC” 160% of average.
However, these forecasts don’t address the “mystery” of the missing oceanic heat that has now been found.
Climate models had predicted that the heat content of the oceans would rise faster than the data were showing. A recent correction of the data set revealed that sea levels and oceanic heat content were rising 50% faster than previously determined.
The oceans have been growing warmer and sea levels have been rising at a faster rate than previously estimated, researchers reported. A review of millions of measurements over the past four decades revealed a subtle error, they said; after correcting it, they found that sea levels rose two inches from 1961 to 2003 – about 50 percent greater than previous estimates. Experts familiar with the work said the finding, published in the journal Nature, added credence to computer simulations predicting centuries of rising seas from human-caused global warming.
May 12 2008
At 2:28 pm local time a major M 7.9 earthquake struck China near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province. 9000 people are feared dead according to Chinese news reports , but USGS analysis shows that 200,000 people were exposed to violent to extreme shaking that could cause heavy damage in well built structures and very heavy damage in vulnerable structures.
Rescuers are searching for victims.
Moreover, close to a million people lived where strong shaking could cause heavy damage in vulnerable structures. This USGS analysis suggests that early news reports many be underestimating the extent of this disaster.
The city of Chengdu, in the Sichuan basin with about 5 million inhabitants, 55 miles east of the rupture, was spared from heavy damage because the earthquake rupture propagated from the southeast to the northwest sparing the cities in the basin. However, towns near the fault rupture well to the northeast of the epicenter were hit hard even though they were as far from the epicenter as Chengdu. In an earthquake like this the distance from the epicenter may be a misleading indicator of potential damage.
A Horrific Scene at a Middle School in Dujiangyan
We are just leaving the horrific scene at the Juyuan Middle School outside the city of Dujiangyan. Hundreds of parents are still standing in the rain as the army works to find children trapped in the rubble. One parent told us she could hear her son calling. A scene of utter desperation. Back a couple hundred feet was an area where rescuers — peoples armed police — were bringing bodies that had been retrieved. Families were rushing over to see whether the child was theirs. Under tents are families burning incense and candles and paper money next to the shrouded bodies of their loved ones. A terrible, terrible scene.
— Andrea Hsu
For those that may have family or friends in or near Chengdu, from a comment on an NPR blog:
Please check with Consulate General of American in Chengdu.
Phone: (28) 8558-3992
Fax: (28) 8554-6229
The ACS Unit provides emergency assistance to American citizens in distress: when an American is destitute, arrested, separated from minor children, or sick. In an emergency, the Consulate Duty Officer can be reached at any time by calling 1370-800-1422.
Dial 01186 before you dial those numbers if you dial from USA.
Apr 01 2008
PRESIDENTIAL RESULTS (very incomplete)
Morgan Tsvangirai 1000, 000 51%
Robert Mugabe 844, 000 42%
Simba Makoni 148, 000 7%
He is reported to be negotiating a transition of power with the leading opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai. Inside sources say he has decided against participation in a run off election.
The negotiations about a possible transfer of power away from Mr. Mugabe began after he apparently concluded that a runoff election would be demeaning, a diplomat said.
Mar 17 2008
The world’s glaciers are losing mass at record rates according to the United Nations. Preliminary calculations just completed for 2006 show that the rate of glacial melting increased from the previous record rate in 2003. Glaciers have not retreated this rapidly since prehistoric time over 5000 years ago.
Water supplies and agriculture, especially in China, India and Pakistan are threatened by the rapid loss of mountain glaciers. Water supplies in California and the western U.S. are diminishing as glaciers and winter snowpack decline.
Note: x-posted in Orange.
I have generally lurked here rather than post here because environmental writing doesn’t seem to be a primary focus here. However, many of my former readers are now here so I thought it might be a good time to make a first post here. Environmental matters aren’t discussed enough on the political blogs, in my opinion. The planet has been taken for granted by people for far too long. We can not escape the environmental consequences of our choices.
The glacial retreat story was covered extensively in the European press and virtually ignored in the U.S. One reason Americans are so ignorant is the lack of media coverage of environmental matters. Blogs also tend to have less discussion of the environment here. I hope this blog is interested in environmental discussions.
GLACIER RETREAT ACCELERATES (over)