Friday, August 31, 2007


The front-line operatives in the campaign to stabilize Iraq are the American and Coalition members who comprise the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, or PRTs. These are relatively small operational units comprised not just of diplomats, but military officers, development policy experts (from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Justice), and other specialists (in fields such as rule of law, engineering, and oil industry operations) who work closely with Iraqi provincial leaders and the Iraqi communities that they serve. While PRTs dispense money for reconstruction projects, the strategic purpose of these civil-military field teams is both political and economic. By building provincial governments' ability to deliver essential services and other key development projects to local Iraqis, PRTs help to extend the reach of the Iraqi government to all corners of the country and help build the stability necessary to complete the transition to full-Iraqi control.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Iraqis Missed Most Goals

USA Today
August 30, 2007
Pg. 7

Iraqis Have Missed Most Of Congress' Goals, GAO Says

Report Says 13 Of 18 Benchmarks Unfulfilled

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Congressional auditors have determined that the Iraqis have failed to meet the majority of political and military goals laid out by lawmakers to assess President Bush's Iraq war strategy.

The Government Accountability Office will report that at least 13 of the 18 benchmarks to measure the effect of the U.S. troop increase in Iraq are unfulfilled. It comes ahead of a Sept. 15 deadline for Bush to report on the situation eight months after he announced the plan, three officials familiar with the matter said.

The officials, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the report has not been made public, also said the administration is preparing a case to argue that Congress ordered the GAO to use unfair, "all or nothing" standards when compiling the document.

The GAO is to give a classified briefing about its findings to lawmakers today. It is not clear when its unclassified report will be released, but it is due Sept. 1 amid a series of assessments called for in January legislation that authorized Bush's plan to send 30,000 more troops to Iraq. There are now more than 160,000 troops in Iraq.

Among those Bush will hear from are the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Defense Secretary Robert Gates; the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus; and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker.

"While we've seen progress in some areas, it would not surprise me that the GAO would make this assessment given the difficult congressionally mandated measurement they had to follow," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council.

The GAO is expected to find that the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has met only modest security goals for Baghdad.

The White House declined to comment on the specific findings of the GAO report.

An internal White House memo says the report will claim the Iraqis have failed on at least 13 benchmarks. It says the criteria lawmakers set for the report allow no room to report progress, only absolute success or failure. The memo argues that the GAO will not give a "true picture" of the situation because the standards were "designed to lock in failure," according to portions of the document read to the AP by an official who has seen it.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Geoff Morrell previewed the administration's response. "The standard the GAO has set is far more stringent," he said. "Some might argue it's impossible to meet."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

National Intelligence Estimate

There have been measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq’s security situation
since our last National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in January 2007. The steep
escalation of rates of violence has been checked for now, and overall attack levels across Iraq have fallen during seven of the last nine weeks. Coalition forces, working with Iraqi forces, tribal elements, and some Sunni insurgents, have reduced al-Qa’ida in Iraq’s (AQI) capabilities, restricted its freedom of movement, and denied it grassroots support in some areas.

However, the level of overall violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains high; Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled; AQI retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks; and to date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively. There have been modest improvements in economic output, budget execution, and government finances but fundamental structural problems continue to prevent sustained progress in economic growth and living conditions.

Surge to Draw Down

"The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to advise President Bush to reduce the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half, potentially creating a rift with top White House officials and other military commanders over the course of the war.

Administration and military officials say Marine Gen. Peter Pace is likely to convey concerns by the Joint Chiefs that keeping well in excess of 100,000 troops in Iraq through 2008 will severely strain the military."

I can only hope that we do draw down and then spend some of the money we are wasting on Iraq on science, R&D and education in America.

NGC 1672

NGC 1672, visible from the Southern Hemisphere, is seen almost face on and shows regions of intense star formation. The greatest concentrations of star formation are found in the so-called starburst regions near the ends of the galaxy's strong galactic bar. NGC 1672 is a prototypical barred spiral galaxy and differs from normal spiral galaxies in that the spiral arms do not twist all the way into the centre. Instead, they are attached to the two ends of a straight bar of stars enclosing the nucleus.

Look up

Look up at night and wonder at the wonder of our universe.

Pleiades Cluster (M45)

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." -- Vincent van Gogh

Starry Night

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." -- Vincent van Gogh


"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." -- Vincent van Gogh

Just one of the reasons I like Vincent van Gogh. Scientists are dreamers of the best kind, reasoned.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Science discovery

Science will save us; human beings. Here is a list of general science magazines. Pick one you like and add to your understanding of the universe.

General Science Magazines:
21st Century Science and Technology Magazine challenges the assumptions of modern scientific dogma, including quantum mechanics, relativity theory, biological reductionism, and the formalization and separation of mathematics from physics.

American Scientist Features reviews of current research written by prominent scientists and engineers.

Citizen Scientist Online magazine published by the Society for Amateur Scientists. Features news, ideas, and techniques from the amateur scientist community.

Cosmos Australian magazine that treats science as natural part of culture, covering it from many angles: art, design, travel, interviews, humour, history and opinion.

Discover Magazine Explores all areas of science from archeology to ecology, technology to medicine, and astronomy to physics.

front wheel drive Brings intelligent reporting to emerging sciences such as artificial intelligence, memetics, media theory, chaos theory and the like.

Geotimes News magazine for the earth and environmental sciences published by the American Geological Institute.

Issues in Science and Technology Forum for discussion of public policy related to science, engineering, and medicine.

Natural History Mgazine of science, nature, and culture. Web site includes selections from the current issue, editors' Picks from the Past, and information for subscribers.

Nature Publisher of many science magazines and journals.

New Scientist Provides daily science and technology news from around the world. Regular sections include interviews with high-profile personalities, essays, book reviews and bestseller lists.

Popular Science Covers the latest developments in electronics, communications, cars, tools, aviation, space exploration, science, energy, photography and technology. Reports on science and technology with particular relevance to sustainable development and the needs of developing countries.

Science Daily Online magazine covering the latest discoveries in science and technology. Also offers free search of its archive of more than 30,000 stories, as well as related links, books, encyclopedia articles, and jobs, in hundreds of different topics.

Science Magazine Provides the full text of the journal's news stories, research reports, and commentary articles in a searchable database, enhanced by additional information, links, multimedia, and user services.

Science News Weekly news magazine covering the most important research in all fields of science.

Scientific American Comprehensive science and technology coverage, including science trivia and games.

Seed International science and culture magazine. Each issue looks at big ideas in science, important issues at the intersection of science and society, and the people driving global science culture.

Skeptic Covers a wide variety of social, scientific, and pseudoscientific controversies by top experts in the field.

Smithsonian Magazine Explores lifestyles, cultures, people, technology, music and Americana for educated readership. Published by the Smithsonian Institution, this magazine also includes photo essays and in-depth articles highlighting current Smithsonian museum exhibits.

World SciencebbNews site aimed at timely reporting of global science developments not always covered in the general media.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

When is Ramadan in 2007?

Ramadan in 2007 will start on Thursday, the 13th of September and will continue for 30 days until Friday, the 12th of October.

Pakistan aided Taliban

US records confirm Pakistan aided Taliban
16 Aug 2007, 0010 hrs IST,PTI

WASHINGTON: Close on the heels of a US intelligence report of a resurgence of Taliban in Pakistan's border areas, newly declassified documents reveal that Islamabad was directly involved in funding, arming and advising the militant group.

The National Security Archives of the George Washington University has published details of American concerns over Pakistan's relationship with the Taliban during the seven-year period leading up to the 9/11 attacks.

The revelation comes just days after Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that there is 'no doubt' Afghan militants are supported from Pakistani soil.

"While Musharraf admitted the Taliban were being sheltered in the lawless frontier border regions, the declassified US documents released on Wednesday clearly illustrate that the Taliban was directly funded, armed and advised by Islamabad itself," the National Security Archives said.

The documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also detailed US concerns about Pakistani troops training and fighting alongside the Taliban inside Afghanistan.

"The records represent the most complete and comprehensive collection of declassified documentation to date on Pakistan's aid programmes to the Taliban, illustrating Islamabad's firm commitment to a Taliban victory in Afghanistan," the Archives said.

Good Day

Today was a good day at work and no one killed me on the Kuwaiti highway. So it was a good day for me. Oh they tried to kill me on the highway by driving way too fast and not looking where they are driving, by weaving in and out of traffic. I saw a couple of accidents in the last few days. Usually I just see the wrecked cars on the side of the road. Twisted metal, broken glass, reminders that someone is no more. But these people do not seem to mind, they have a very low regard for life in general. Perhaps they should go back to riding camels.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I have a dream

I have a dream that someday the people of the world will unite and work towards making the world, the whole world a better place. To have that dream become a reality we need to have a vision a goal which is bigger that all of us. We need to focus on exploring the universe because out in the universe all things are possible. To to that point we need to solve big problems here on Earth. But we still need something for our children to dream about, like traveling to the stars. That gives them a reason to get along with their neighbors, to learn math and science. To work on epic projects that take us all into the future.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Arab's in Space?

Drive for Arab space agency
BAHRAINI astronomers are backing a call for the creation of an Arab space agency to involve the region in the industry and assist Arab scientists to research and promote exploration.
The issue will be discussed at an international forum on astronomy to be held in Alexandria, Egypt, in October.
Arab Union on Astronomy and Space Science vice-president Dr Shawqi Al Dallal from Bahrain, its president Dr Hamid Al Naimiy, and colleagues from other Arab countries will provide a document to the Arab League regarding the establishment of an Arab Space Agency.
"We have to convince the Arab League to discuss this matter," Dr Al Dallal told the GDN.
"Our role is to convince people to meet and discuss this matter.
"The agency can promote telecommunications, satellites, participation in space missions, get involved in the application of space science and participate in protocols with other countries.
"It's basically an opportunity for more active participation in the space science research and space missions."
Dr Al Dallal, who heads the Bahrain Astronomical Society, said he was also preparing to participate in the First International Forum for the Young and Amateurs in Astronomy and Space Science.
The event is organised by the Arab Union on Astronomy and Space Science in Latakia, Syria, from August 25 to 30.
He said the society would then be preparing a programme for Ramadan, which includes stargazing and lectures.
Its next event is a lecture on Black Holes and Gateways to Unknown Universes, which will be presented at the Youth Innovation Centre, Umm Al Hassam, today.
Dr Al Dallal will deliver the talk, which will be followed by an opportunity to observe planets through a telescope.

Iran Terrorist Organization

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is preparing to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization, The New York Times reported in Wednesday editions, citing senior administration officials.
If the declaration is imposed, it would be the first time that the United States has placed the armed forces of any sovereign government on its list of terrorist organizations, the newspaper reported.
The U.S. government has long considered Iran an active state sponsor of terrorism. Singling out the guard would signal a more confrontational turn in the administration's approach to Iran, the newspaper said.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Important Questions

Some important questions. How should we live? What is happiness? What is the morally right way to live or to act? And what is the relationship between happiness and morality? Questions we all need to find answers for if we are to live the good life. Of course this leads to what is happiness? What is morally right? Is their a universal morality that we should all guide our lives by? Can I do what is right and still be happy? How can I apply these questions to my daily life? To making daily decisions for how to act? What to do with my time? Is choosing to write in my blog the best way to spend this time? Does it bring me happiness? Does it make me better?

BBC News

The BBC News has always been one of my preferred sources. Click this blog entry title and go to the BBC News website section devoted to the struggle for Iraq. It has a good timeline of events and background information. Also maps, video and audio reports.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Failaka Island

Failaka Island

The home of Kuwait's main archaeological site, Failaka is definitely worth a visit, though it requires a bit of extra caution. The Iraqis turned Failaka into a heavily fortified base and filled the area with mines. Failaka's history goes back to the Bronze Age Dilmun civilisation, which was centred in Bahrain. The Greeks arrived in the 4th century BC in the form of a garrison sent by Nearchus, one of Alexander the Great's admirals. A small settlement existed on the island prior to this, but it was as the Greek town of Ikaros that the settlement became a real city. The Greeks lived on Failaka for two centuries. The centrepiece of the island is its temple. Failaka is about 20km (12mi) north-east of Kuwait City's centre and well served by ferries, which depart daily from Arabian Gulf St just south of the city centre.

Off the beaten path


Al-Jahra, 32km (20mi) west of Kuwait City, is where invading troops from Saudi Arabia were defeated (with British help) in 1920. The town's only conventional site is the Red Fort, a low rectangular mud structure near the highway, that played a key role in the 1920 battle. Al-Jahra is also the site of the Gulf War's infamous 'turkey shoot' - the Allied destruction of a stalled Iraqi convoy as it attempted to retreat from Kuwait.

Doha Village

On an arm of land jutting out into Kuwait Bay, Doha Village is the site of several small dhow-building yards and a fishing village of squalid shacks. Buses from Kuwait City make the trip to Doha, 20km (12mi) to the north-west.

Kuwait for tourist

Kuwait is your prototypical oil-rich state, and travelers looking for a relaxed entry into the Muslim world can look forward to wandering around mosques, souks and other sandy traces of bygone Bedouin days. Behind the glitzy opulence lies a deep sense of traditional values and warm Arabian hospitality.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

4 Galaxy Pileup

For Release: August 6, 2007

Artist Concept

Four galaxies are slamming into each other and kicking up billions of stars in one of the largest cosmic smash-ups ever observed.

The clashing galaxies, spotted by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, will eventually merge into a single, behemoth galaxy up to 10 times as massive as our own Milky Way. This rare sighting provides an unprecedented look at how the most massive galaxies in the universe form.

"Most of the galaxy mergers we already knew about are like compact cars crashing together," said Kenneth Rines of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. "What we have here is like four sand trucks smashing together, flinging sand everywhere." Rines is lead author of a new paper accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Collisions, or mergers, between galaxies are common in the universe. Gravity causes some galaxies that are close together to tangle and ultimately unite over a period of millions of years. Though stars in merging galaxies are tossed around like sand, they have a lot of space between them and survive the ride. Our Milky Way galaxy will team up with the Andromeda galaxy in five billion years.

Kind of reminds me of Iraq + Afghanistan + Al Qaeda + USA

Monday, August 06, 2007

Epic Projects

Where are the epic projects of our time? Who is providing the thought leadership for the next epic project? What can an ordinary person commit to that is greater than them self? President John F. Kennedy challenged us to put a man on the moon and we did it! What are the projects that mark our era like the pyramids of Egypt? We need to focus more of our energy building and exploring rather than killing in wars and staying in our homes watching TV. When are we going to leave this planet to explore the solar system?

Saturday, August 04, 2007


The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is charged by executive order to conduct a review of the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program, with PCAST serving in this role as the President's IT Advisory Committee (PITAC).

You should care about what this report says because the economic well being of the USA is tied to our ability to deliver new technologies.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Time is on my mind this month, must be because it is the month I have a birthday. Also because I have been over here so long and it is time to go home. Can't wait to go home again.
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