Monday, April 30, 2012

Obama Uses Bin Laden Killing For Political Purposes. Does He Deserve The Credit? Should It Be Used In His Campaign?

Arianna Huffington rips Obama for Osama ad: ‘One of the most despicable things’ 
Published: 12:51 PM 04/30/2012

Who would have seen this coming? On Monday’s “CBS This Morning,” Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington condemned President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign for an ad questioning whether or not presumtive GOP nominee Mitt Romney would have killed Osama bin Laden.

The campaign ad features former President Bill Clinton applauding Obama, and takes what some say are Romney’s own words out of context to score political points.

The Romney campaign condemned the ad and Huffington agreed. “I agree with the Romney campaign,” she said. “Using the Osama bin Laden assassination, killing, the great news we had a year ago, in order to say basically that Obama did it and Romney may not have done it, which is really the — which is the message — I don’t think there should be an ad about that.

"I think it’s one thing to celebrate the fact that they did such a great job. It’s one thing to have an NBC special from the ‘Situation Room’ … all of that is perfectly legitimate. But to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.”

 Huffington likened it to a 2008 campaign ad from Hillary Clinton questioning if Obama would have the wherewithal to react properly to a hypothetical emergency 3 a.m. phone call. “It’s the same thing Hillary Clinton did with the 3 a.m. call — you know, ‘You’re not ready to be commander-in-chief,’” she continued.

“It’s also what makes politicians and political leaders act irrationally when it comes to matters of war because they’re so afraid to be called wimps, that they make decisions, which are incredible destructive for the country. I’m sure the president would not have escalated in Afghanistan if he was not as concerned, as Democrats are, that Republicans are going to use not escalating against him in a campaign.”

 Huffington argued that the ad went beyond merely celebrating one of Obama’s chief accomplishments. “That’s not just what the ad does,” she said. “[The ad] quotes a snippet from Romney and uses that to imply that Romney would not has been as decisive. There’s no way to know whether Romney would have been as decisive.

To actually speculate that he wouldn’t be is to me not the way to run a campaign on either side.”

 Read more: Daily

Obama strategy of taking credit for Osama bin Laden killing is risky, some observers say

President Obama has placed the killing of Osama bin Laden at the center of his re-election effort in a way that is drawing criticism for turning what he once described as an American victory into a partisan political asset.
Obama’s decision to send a Navy SEAL team deep inside Pakistan to kill bin Laden, the inspiration and ideologue behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, presents enormous political opportunity for a president, especially a Democratic one with no military experience.
But political analysts and Republican critics say Obama is taking a risk in claiming credit for something that as recently as his January State of the Union address he described as “a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s armed forces.”
In a series of videos and speeches leading up to the Wednesday anniversary of the raid, the Obama campaign, through high-profile proxies such as Vice President Biden and former president Bill Clinton, has made the president the star of the story. Biden and others have also suggested that Obama’s rival, the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, would not have pursued bin Laden with the same determination.
Read more at Washington Post

 "Ever since Vice President Joe Biden boiled down Obama's 2012 slogan to "bin Laden is dead, GM is alive," it has been clear that the embattled incumbent would not hesitate to use the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL strike as a political weapon." Yahoo News

The Bush Administration, and the Killing of Osama bin Laden

David Mark, of Politico’s “Arena” asked whether George W. Bush should have accepted President Obama’s invitation to attend ceremonies at Ground Zero today. The question and possible answers should have been straightforward, but of course, some people chose to use the occasion for yet more Bush-bashing. My response can be found here. I trust that my impatience with some of the answers shines through.
The arguments continue to rage as to how much credit the Bush Administration should get for the process that led to bin Laden’s killing. I am sure that this observation will deeply upset those for whom hating George W. Bush is their raison d’être, but as Paul Miller notes, a considerable amount of credit should in fact go to the 43rd President and his team, as well as other predecessors of President Obama:
Covert action is authorized by a Presidential Finding. Findings are rare; more often, presidents sign Memoranda of Notification (MON) to further extend or modify an existing Finding. That is why to find the relevant finding behind the Abbottabad strike, we have to go all the way back to one signed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. The 1986 Finding describes the basic authorities for covert worldwide counterterrorism action by the military and intelligence community. The Finding was signed concurrently with the birth of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC), and finally started the slow gears of American bureaucracy churning against terrorists across the globe. Reagan was the first to make fighting terrorism official U.S. policy. (See Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars).
President Bill Clinton signed a number of MONs further extending counterterrorism authorities, several specifically targeted at al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, according to the 9/11 Commission Reportand Ghost Wars. The military and intelligence community designed several operations to either kill or capture bin Laden several times in the late 90s. Clinton was the first to make fighting al-Qaida U.S. policy.
President George W. Bush dramatically expanded the counterterrorism authorities with an expansive MON signed shortly after 9/11 (detailed in Woodward’s Bush At War). The authorities enabled intelligence operatives and special operations forces to embed with the Afghan Northern Alliance and overthrow the Taliban in 2001 (see Gary Schroen’s First In and Gary Berntsen’s Jawbreaker). They also eventually gave birth to the rumored drone program (here is a fascinating website that attempts to track the rumored done strikes). But the drones are relevant for Abbottabad not because of their missiles, but because of their cameras and sensors; they’ve helped build up years and years of data about militants which analysts have been able to mine for the smallest detail, crucial in the hunt for bin Laden.
Perhaps most directly relevant for the road to Abbottabad, Bush made a few key changes to the counterterrorism programs in 2008. Frustrated by years of stalemate, he expanded the authorized target list, began to approve missions without prior Pakistani approval, and also authorized ground incursions into Pakistan to pursue al-Qaida. (see Bob Woodward, Obama’s Wars, Chapter 1).Abbottabad was not the first widely-reported Navy SEAL incursion into Pakistan. Bush authorized a raid on the town of Angor Adda in September 2008 in pursuit of al-Qaida targets. The raid went poorly — it was undertaken during Ramadan, when civilians were awake and feasting at night-Pakistani officials lashed out, and ground incursions were halted. But the precedent was set.
Via InstaPundit, still more evidence that the Bush Administration should share in the credit:
As President Obama celebrates the signature national-security success of his tenure, he has a long list of people to thank. On the list: George W. Bush.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bush waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have forged a military so skilled that it carried out a complicated covert raid with only a minor complication. Public tolerance for military operations over the past decade has shifted to the degree that a mission carried out deep inside a sovereign country has raised little domestic protest.
And a detention and interrogation system that Obama once condemned as contrary to American values produced one early lead that, years later, brought U.S. forces to the high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and a fatal encounter with an unarmed Osama bin Laden.
But the bridge connecting the two administrations has also led Obama to the same contested legal terrain over how to fight against stateless enemies and whether values should be sacrificed in the pursuit of security.
“We in the Obama administration absolutely benefitted from an enormous body of work and effort that went into understanding al-Qaeda and pursuing bin Laden,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
All of these are inconvenient truths for those who want to believe that the plan to kill Osama bin Laden sprang unadorned from the brow of Barack Obama. But they are truths nonetheless. President Obama certainly deserves a significant share of credit for the fact that Osama bin Laden no longer walks the Earth. But so do a number of his predecessors, including and most especially his most recent predecessor.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Swarms of Earthquake Activity.

As the active sunspot turns toward Earth, the earthquake activity continues to increase.  Here is the latest chart on the activity of the Sun...

3-day GOES X-ray Plot

There have been swarms of seismic activity around the globe that indicates there may be larger earthquakes to come.  First, lets look at Japan.

On this map, here is a list of the earthquake action (blue squares indicate the action within the past 24 hours)...
MAP4.52012/04/29 17:28:46   40.069143.499 37.3  OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
MAP5.82012/04/29 15:02:18   39.729142.074 10.0  NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
MAP4.62012/04/29 12:16:55   36.897141.030 61.7  NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
MAP5.82012/04/29 10:28:51   35.601140.483 39.9  NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

source: USGS

Notice the two 5.8 magnitude earthquakes.  On the map, they are spread apart from one another.  This leaves the possibility that there may be something larger that happens somewhere between the two.

In the area of Northern Sumatra, the earthquakes have started up again.  Here is the map showing the earthquake action...

10-degree map showing recent earthquakes
On this map, here is a list of the earthquake action (blue squares indicate the action within the past 24 hours)...

MAP5.42012/04/29 08:09:05   2.70994.556 23.3  OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA
MAP4.72012/04/29 03:52:26   1.91992.404 15.0  OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA
MAP4.92012/04/29 03:00:44   1.94993.804 15.2  OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA

source: USGS

Remember, this area is on high alert because of the pressure between the plates that is happening.

Another area to keep a close eye on is the Tonga region.  There have been quakes there in the past week and more during the past 24 hours.  Because there was a 6.7 in the past week, we need to keep a close eye on this area.  The swarm could build and/or there could be a megaquake.

10-degree map showing recent earthquakes
On this map, here is a list of the earthquake action (blue squares indicate the action within the past 24 hours)...
MAP4.62012/04/29 12:46:53  -23.558-177.599 212.1  SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS
MAP4.52012/04/29 09:01:45  -24.603-175.359 35.8  SOUTH OF TONGA
There are other areas that we need to keep a close eye on such as Chile, Alaska, and the West Coast of the United States.  The main area where pressure build up has been reported by scientists along the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada is "Cascadia".  This is just off shore of Oregon and Washington State and up to Canada.  Because not much pressure has been released from this area, there is a large chance that this area is ripe for a very large earthquake.

Of course, the best thing to do is to be prepared.  You should have your earthquake preparedness plan in place and your preparedness supplies in an easily accessible area.

I will update you when further information is warranted.  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Astronomers Worried Enough To Urge World To Prepare For Asteroids To Hit Earth.

Astronomer urges world to prepare for asteroids to hit earth
By John Hollenhorst
SALT LAKE CITY — Threats from the skies are real, and they could could push the human race to extinction, according to a prominent astronomer who spoke Friday in Logan. But he's quick to denounce a popular "end of the world" notion making the rounds this year.
The fearful — or playful — fad now is the supposed 2012 doomsday prophecy of the Mayan calendar. A prominent astronomer says it's all nonsense. But even he is raising the alarm about "death from the skies."
Hollywood loves a good catastrophe. What better use of special effects than threats from the sky … or deep in the Earth?
And astronomer-blogger Phil Plait enjoys talking about the scary, but improbable events that could snuff us out in a twinkling of the cosmic eye. He wrote a book on all the ways the human race could come to an end.
"Astroid impacts, big solar storm, nearby supernova, there's a super-violent event called a gamma-ray burst. And this can wipe out life across the galaxy," he said.
He's visiting Utah State's College of Science to deliver a message that is slightly unsettling.
"Space is fairly dangerous," he said. "I like to say that the universe is trying to kill us."
This is a guy who puts no stock in the Mayan Calendar 2012 end of the world frenzy, but he gets asked for advice about it all the time.
"I shouldn't have to do this," he said. "It's just totally made up, out of whole cloth. It's just nonsense. But it is literally scaring people and having an impact on what they're doing."
Space is fairly dangerous. I like to say that the universe is trying to kill us.
–Phil Plait
He worries about real threats to Earth, verified by science. There's not much we can do about extremely improbable threats like black holes, exploding stars and gamma-ray bursts, Plait said. But the most likely threat is from asteroids, which most scientists now accept as the instrument of doom for the dinosaurs. Every shooting star is a warning sign.
"Asteroid impacts are rare; they don't happen that much," Plait said. "But we just had something about the size of an SUV explode over California."
If we sit around and do nothing long enough, a big asteroid hit is almost certain, Plait said, so let's do something.
"We have to find these asteroids," he said. "We have to find out, if we see one, how do we do this? Do we blow it up? Do we slam it? Do we tow it?"
But the key, he said, is using science as a tool, instead of ignorance and phony mythology.
"It's so easy to fool human beings," he said. "And science circumvents that as long as you use it correctly."
Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington

Nancy Neal Jones
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
April 18, 2012
RELEASE : 12-121
NASA Mission Wants Amateur Astronomers to Target Asteroids
WASHINGTON -- A new NASA outreach project will enlist the help of amateur astronomers to discover near-Earth objects (NEOs) and study their characteristics. NEOs are asteroids with orbits that occasionally bring them close to the Earth. 

Starting today, a new citizen science project called "Target Asteroids!" will support NASA's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission objectives to improve basic scientific understanding of NEOs. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled for launch in 2016 and will study material from an asteroid. 

Amateur astronomers will help better characterize the population of NEOs, including their position, motion, rotation and changes in the intensity of light they emit. Professional astronomers will use this information to refine theoretical models of asteroids, improving their understanding about asteroids similar to the one OSIRIS-Rex will encounter in 2019, designated 1999 RQ36. 

OSIRIS-REx will map the asteroid's global properties, measure non-gravitational forces and provide observations that can be compared with data obtained by telescope observations from Earth. In 2023, OSIRIS-REx will return back to Earth at least 2.11 ounces (60 grams) of surface material from the asteroid. 

Target Asteroids! data will be useful for comparisons with actual mission data. The project team plans to expand participants in 2014 to students and teachers. 

"Although few amateur astronomers have the capability to observe 1999 RQ36 itself, they do have the capability to observe other targets," said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. 

Previous observations indicate 1999 RQ36 is made of primitive materials. OSIRIS-REx will supply a wealth of information about the asteroid's composition and structure. Data also will provide new insights into the nature of the early solar system and its evolution, orbits of NEOs and their impact risks, and the building blocks that led to life on Earth. 

Amateur astronomers long have provided NEO tracking observations in support of NASA's NEO Observation Program. A better understanding of NEOs is a critically important precursor in the selection and targeting of future asteroid missions. 

"For well over 10 years, amateurs have been important contributors in the refinement of orbits for newly discovered near-Earth objects," said Edward Beshore, deputy principal investigator for the OSIRIS-REx mission at the University of Arizona in Tucson. 

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. 

For more information about NASA, visit: 

For more information on Target Asteroids! and OSIRIS-REx, visit: 
- end -


Tucson scientist reveals new dangers of asteroid impact

Posted: Nov 5, 2010 6:00 AM 

TUCSON - New research by a Tucson scientist reveals shocking details about asteroids and our planet. The study shows certain asteroids could be more destructive than we ever thought.
Elisabetta Pierazzo, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, studied asteroids ranging from 500 meters to one kilometer. Unlike the one that killed the dinosaurs, these asteroids would not cause mass extinction.
"There is a chance that it could be a large enough impact to destabilize current civilization. And there's never been a quantification of what does that mean," Pierazzo said.
Pierazzo's study shows what might happen if one of these medium size asteroids landed in the ocean. She created simulations, looked at the data and found that kind of impact would have world-wide repercussions.
"You're going to throw a lot of water vapor and, with that, you're going to throw a lot of chloride and bromide into the upper atmosphere," Pierazzo said.
Those chemicals could destroy at least 60 percent of the ozone layer all over the world. People and plants would have little natural protection from harmful ultraviolet rays, forcing us to stay inside or wear sunscreen and hats all the time. However, plants and fish would be stuck unprotected in the sun.
"We are going to have less food to eat and it's going to be a major problem for this world," Pierazzo said.
Edward Beshore, Senior Staff Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and Principle Investigator for the Catalina Sky Survey, spends his days looking for asteroids.
"Most of the objects we find are about 100 to 200 meters across," Beshore said.
As for the asteroids from Pierazzo's study, Beshore says they spot about 50 a year. A small number of them come within five million miles of the earth's orbit. Those can be unpredictable.
"If they cross the orbit of the earth, they are potentially hazardous asteroids that we really need to keep our eye on," Beshore said.
In all, there are a couple hundred of those potentially hazardous, medium sized (500m to 1 km) asteroids out there. On average, asteroids that size hit the earth about every 25,000 to one million years.

Impact of large asteroid may cause disruption of Earth ozonosphere

Recently scientists all over the world have presented many models describing a collision of the Earth with an asteroid or a comet. All of us can imagine the consequences of such a collision. That is a powerful impact wave, a huge tsunami from the body falling into the ocean and the so-called “impact” winter and “firey” rain consisting of material from the Earth’s crust blasted to the edge of the atmosphere with a subsequent rain of meteors back to the Earth. All these scenarios are possible with the falling of a large body similar to that which possibly killed off the dinosaurs at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary (the so-called K-T Event).

Is this all we can expect from such a catastrophic scenario? Or do we need to prepare for something more? As studies by the American scientists of the Planetary Science Institute (PSI) have shown, one more biosphere-destroying event will be the destruction of the planet’s ozone layer. The group, under the direction of Elizabeth Pierazzo, generated two models describing the fall of asteroids 500 and 1000 meters in diameter into the ocean (depth of 4000 meters). From their analysis of the data the scientists came to some conclusions about the catastrophic consequences of the ejection of huge quantities of hot water vapor into the atmosphere. After the water vapor, the liberation of huge volumes of chlorides and bromides will continue the process of destroying the ozone layer. As a result of these events, there will be a global exhaustion of the ozone layer, and Earth life will be defenseless for years.

The UVI (ultraviolet index) may be over 20 for several months after Earth is hit by a 500 meter asteroid. A reading of 10 is dangerous to humans, and 20 is the maximum value ever recorded on Earth. Under such radiation, a person can get burned even after only five minutes in the sun. Even more serious are the facts associated with the impact of a kilometer-sized asteroid. The brightness of the ultraviolet radiation will reach a huge value – 56! A person without protection in the open sunlight would literally burn up. The ultraviolet intensity would gradually decrease, but over the course of two years its level would remain over 20.

During this time most of the plant and animal life on Earth would perish; in countries where there are not huge reserves of foodstuffs, hunger would become a problem. All this is without calculating in the catastrophe which a huge tsunami would cause.

All these data are not to scare the people of the Earth, but, instead, they have the purpose of bringing understanding of what we must be prepared for, if we want to preserve our civilization at our modern level of development, and not plunge it into chaos because we couldn’t take a hit from space.


New observations of Apophis

D. Tholen, M. Micheli, G. Elliott, UH Institute for Astronomy
January 31, 2011, American astronomers at the University of Hawaii took the first pictures of the well-known asteroid Apophis on the way to its next passage by the Earth, which will take place January 9, 2013. To observe this still faint object, scientists used the 2.2 meter telescope of the university observatory located on the top of the Hawaiian volcano, Mauna Kea. These observations were complicated not only by the faintness of the object, but also by the smallelongation of the asteroid.

With these observations begins a new round of study of this interesting and potentially hazardous object. Remember that April 13, 2029 it passes closer to the Earth than geostationary satellites, at an elevation of about 30,000 km, and will be visible to the unaided eye. This passage will not be dangerous for our planet. The danger may be in the asteroid flying through the so called “keyhole” – a zone of width of only 600 km. If that happens, the Earth’s own gravitational influence will bring the asteroid into an orbit of resonant return, and in 2036 the asteroid will collide with the Earth. The probabilty of such an event is very small, but it does exist. The fall of a body with a diameter on the order of 270 meters can have catastrophic consequences for the Earth. We still have time and we must protect ourselves regardless of how events might develop. But we must do this before the 2029 passage, otherwise the complexity of this already difficult task will increase many times.