Is It A Draw?

Seriously, do we have any sort of endgame plan here?

Libyan Conflict Seen as Stalemate

Both the Libyan government and rebel leaders outwardly express confidence their side will prevail. But behind the scenes, concerns are rising that the eight week conflict may be at a stalemate.

Government forces continue to besiege the western rebel city of Misrata, and remain just outside Ajdabiya, a key eastern town that has changed hands numerous times.

. . .

Whatever their popular support, the rebels have been unable to make much headway on the battlefield. Their farthest drive was under the aerial protection of a mission led by the U.S., France and Britain. Those gains have been reversed during the time NATO has been in charge of the campaign.

See also:
Gadhafi military hurt, but prospect of stalemate looms, official says
Libya stalemate could thicken fog of war for NATO
EU concern at prolonged Libyan war
US Commander Sees Libya Stalemate
US General: Libya stalemate more likely now
New Battles in Libya, Strains in NATO Campaign
NATO urged to press harder in Libya as battles continue
Will Libya stalemate force US out of its back-seat role?
U.S. Faces a Libya Stalemate, What are its Options?
Libya stalemate appears to be emerging: U.S. general
With Libya a stalemate, removing Gaddafi the fastest way to end the fighting

These have to be just about the most bizarre rules of engagement for a war, oops, sorry, I mean kinetic military action, that I’ve ever seen. What is it, exactly, that we’re trying to accomplish in Libya? If we’re trying to get rid of Gaddafi, let’s back the “rebels” all the way and get it over with. This strange maintenance of an ongoing “status quo”, where attrition is killing human beings on both sides, on a daily basis, is totally perverse.

/not to mention that this ineffective, half ass “quasi-military intervention” is wasting a lot of U.S. taxpayer money, money we don’t even have to spend, and it’ll continue to do so for as long as this standoff farce continues

A Ban Too Far?

And it hasn’t even been released yet.

Sales of ‘Medal of Honor’ video game blocked on U.S. military bases

Small victory,” was all it said on the subject line of Karen Meredith’s e-mail.

But for the Silicon Valley military mom, who lost her son in the Iraq war, the decision this week by U.S. military base exchanges not to carry the controversial “Medal of Honor” video game was still great news.

“I’m thrilled,” said Meredith, whose son, Lt. Ken Ballard, perished in 2004. She has set off a storm of protest against Redwood City-based Electronic Arts and its “first-person shooter” game, which allows players to pretend they’re Taliban fighters killing American soldiers in Afghanistan. She applauded Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella, commander of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, or AAFES, for the decision to keep the game out of its stores worldwide.

“I’ve heard from people all over the world, many of them upset about this game, so at least this has started a conversation,” she said. “And this country needs to have a conversation about the place of violent video games in our society, especially a game based on an ongoing war.”

Due out Oct. 12, “Medal of Honor” has drawn accolades from gamers and has been defended even by some U.S. soldiers. But it has unleashed howls of protest from families who have lost loved ones and even from Great Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox, who urged retailers to “ban this tasteless product.”

Electronic Arts spokesman Jeff Brown on Friday issued a statement that said in part: “The criticism of ‘Medal of Honor’ is disappointing because I can’t think of another interactive game that has gone to such lengths to convey respect for soldiers. From the very first day of development, the ‘Medal of Honor’ development team has been dedicated to creating an homage to the soldiers who fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

Saying EA feels “a deep sympathy and respect for the soldiers and people with family members killed or wounded in Afghanistan,” Brown wrote that “we don’t see a distinction between a film like ‘Hurt Locker’ and a game like ‘Medal of Honor.’ We don’t agree that it’s OK to depict the war in films and books, but not in games. We don’t see a moral difference.”

See also:
Taliban-Themed Multiplayer Gets EA’s “Medal of Honor” Banned on U.S. Military Bases
Military Exchanges Refuse to Stock New ‘Medal of Honor’ Video Game
Medal of Honor pulled from US military stores
Medal Of Honor Banned On US Military Bases
Medal of Honor not to be sold on US military bases
Medal Of Honor Pre-Orders Banned From Military Stores
Playing as the Enemy

I can understand the sensitivity but, in the end, it’s just a game. If you don’t like it, you don’t need to buy or play it.

/if you outlaw video games, only outlaws will have video games

Chicken Beats Egg

It’s official, you can now feel free to count your chickens before they’re hatched.

Chicken Came Before the Egg: “Scientific Proof”

British scientists claim to have solved one of the great mysteries of life, the universe and everything in it: The chicken came before the egg, they say, and they’re not mincing words.

“It had long been suspected that the egg came first, but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first,” Sheffield University’s Dr Colin Freeman, according to a report in the Metro.

Researchers from Scotland and England used a supercomputer called HECToR to look in such detail at a chicken eggshell that they were able to determine the vital role of a protein used to kick-start the egg’s formation.

That protein is only found, wait for it… inside a chicken.

Freeman, who worked on HECToR with counterparts at Edinburgh’s Warwick University, said the protein had been identified earlier by scientists and was known to be linked to egg formation, “but by examining it closely we have been able to see how it controls the process,” he added, describing it as a catalyst.

Professor John Harding, who also took part in the research, told Metro the discovery could have other applications.

“Understanding how chickens make shells is fascinating in itself, but can also give clues towards designing new materials.” he said.

Which is good, because in spite of HECToR’s hard work and the “scientific proof” it yielded, the study offered no explanation as to how the chicken got there in the first place.

If not from an egg, perhaps it just came from across the road.

See also:
‘The chicken came first, not the egg’, scientists prove
Chicken came before egg
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken, researchers say!
What came first, chicken or egg?
UK scientists have proof chicken came before egg
Researchers say the chicken came before the egg in age-old riddle
Chicken-and-Egg Mystery Finally Cracked
Scientific Proof: The Chicken came before the Egg
After All These Years, It’s Been The Chicken All Along
Which came first? The chicken, not the egg!
Scientists solve chicken and egg riddle*
The Chicken and the Egg: Ancient Mystery Solved?
Scientists in Britain close to cracking chicken-egg puzzle
The chicken or the egg?

/well, now that that’s settled, you can lose sleep at night wondering where the chicken that laid the first egg came from

In One Door And Out The Other

Your tax dollars, hard at work, heading for the airport, getting out of town.

Afghanistan: $4.2 billion in mysterious cash flown out of Kabul since 2007

THE “blizzard of banknotes” leaving Kabul airport is worse than originally feared, The Scotsman has learned, with at least $4.2 billion (around £2.8 billion) exported in cash over the last three-and-a-half years.

Congressmen in the United States voted to suspend $4bn in aid to the Afghan government last week, after media reports showed $3bn in cash has been flown out of the country since 2007.

US and British fraud investigators fear that most of the money leaving Kabul has been siphoned-off from international aid contracts, or made from the country’s rapidly expanding opium trade.

Documents seen by The Scotsman show that the Afghan Ministry of Finance puts the real figure at $4.2bn – at least $1.2 billion higher than previously feared.

“Our records show that $4.2bn has been transferred in cash through Kabul International Airport alone during the last three-and-a-half years,” Afghanistan’s finance minister, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, wrote in a letter to US Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

Ms Lowey, chairwoman of the aid appropriations sub-committee in Congress, has vowed not to send another dime to Afghanistan until she was confident “that US taxpayer money is not being abused to line the pockets of corrupt Afghan government officials, drug lords and terrorists”.

Dr Zakhilwal’s letter acknowledges allegations that Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s government is “assisting or partaking in this fraud” but the minister hits back by pointing out that most of the money America spends in Afghanistan circumvents the Afghan government.

. . .

The sheer volume of cash couriered out of the country’s main airport is huge relative to Afghanistan’s gross domestic product which was just $13.5bn last year, and it easily dwarfs the amount of tax revenue collected by the government.

The figure doesn’t include cash exported from any of Afghanistan’s other international airports, which include Kandahar International, Mazar-e Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, and the main US base at Bagram, north of Kabul.

. . .

Afghanistan relies on a cash economy and there is no limit to how much money can be exported, as long as it is declared to customs. Official records show most of the money that was declared leaving Kabul since 2007 formed part of the traditional Islamic hawala system, in transfers to Dubai. The often informal nature of the hawala contracts, based on trust, honour and lender’s reputation, make the transactions almost impossible for financial investigators to track.

See also:
4.2 billion dollars have left Kabul airport: report
4.2 billion dollar worth ‘blizzard of banknotes’ have flown out of Kabul since 2007
Afghanistan minister rejects US corruption allegations
Afghan leader: Foreign contracts fuel corruption
Finance Minister Calls for Probe of Afghan Money Network
US freezes $4b of aid to Afghans
US cuts $5.6b Afghan aid amid graft charges
Afghanistan: US lawmakers block $4 bln in aid
Over $4 bn in cash flies out of Kabul

It looks like Karzai and his cronies have put together quite the U.S. financed retirement fund.

/no wonder it seems that Karzai doesn’t really care which side wins in Afghanistan, as long as he can make it to the airport to don his golden parachute

When Did Hell Freeze Over?

Well damn, here’s something you don’t see every day, American troops marching through Red Square.

U.S. Army Europe Soldiers marching into history in Moscow

Soldiers of U.S. Army Europe’s 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will march into history during Russia’s 65th Victory Day parade in Moscow, May 9.

USAREUR historians said the event marks the first time a serving, active-duty U.S. Army unit, carrying the American flag and representing the United States, will march in the parade.

The 75 Soldiers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, based in Baumholder, Germany, will join military units from Russia, Great Britain, France, Poland and member nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States in the historic march through Moscow’s Red Square. Company C took its place in the estimated 11,000-Soldier formation Tuesday night as part of the first dress rehearsal march.

A 45-piece band from U.S. Naval Forces Europe will also take part in Victory Day commemorative events.

The parade, which commemorates the 65th anniversary of the allies’ victory over the Axis powers during World War II, is being called the largest since 1945.

See also:
Surprising Guests in a Russian Parade: American Troops
Troops prep for parade
U.S. troops entering Red Square
US, Allied Troops to Join Russia’s WWII Parade
Foreign troops to join Russia’s Victory Day parade
Western troops march on Russia’s Red Square to mark end of WWII
Anger as NATO prepares to join Red Square parade
170th Infantry Brigade (United States)
170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

I guess if you live long enough you’ll eventually get to see everything.

/NATO troops parading through Red Square, how bizarre