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   PoliticsPolitics for Pros- moderated


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From: LindyBill4/9/2007 8:25:18 AM
   of 773448
 
Restoration on the Half Shell
By ROWAN JACOBSEN
NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED
Published: April 9, 2007

THIS year marks 400 years since the founding of the Jamestown colony, a span in which everything about the area has changed, not least the water. When John Smith first encountered the Chesapeake, he was struck by its beauty and bounty. "Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man's habitation," he wrote. The water was clear, fish teemed in its depths, and oysters lay "as thick as stones" on the bottom.

Don't try to look for those oysters today. They aren't there. Even if they were, you wouldn't be able to see them through the brown murk. Those oysters were the linchpin of a now-comatose ecosystem. Not only did they pave the bottom, providing footholds for aquatic plants, but they also formed prodigious "oyster reefs" 20 feet high and miles long that sheltered juvenile fish and crustaceans.

And they performed another vital function. Oysters eat algae. A single adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day, and the uncountable billions that once inhabited the Chesapeake filtered the entire bay every few days. This allowed sunlight to penetrate to the bay bottom so eelgrass and other foundations of the food chain could thrive. By providing these three services — filtration, stabilization and habitation — oysters engineered the ecosystem.

Then they disappeared. Overharvesting was the main culprit, but pollution and disease played roles, too. Annual harvests on the Chesapeake plunged, from over 100 million pounds in 1880 to 20 million in 1960 and less than 250,000 pounds today.

Many East Coasters think that mid-Atlantic waters are supposed to look like brown soup. They're not. Too many nutrients wash downstream from cities and farms, feeding algae blooms, and there aren't enough oysters around to eat the algae. When the algae die and decay, they take the oxygen with them, causing the "dead zones" becoming all too common along America's coasts.

Today, everyone agrees that to restore the estuaries we need to restore the oysters. But how to do it? Government agencies spend about $300 million a year in oyster-restoration programs, with marginal results. Millions of baby oysters are grown in hatcheries and thrown into the Chesapeake every year, but without the structure provided by oyster reefs, they are crunched up by starfish, stingrays and other predators, buried under sediment, or killed by disease. Fewer wild oysters populate the Chesapeake today than when the restoration programs began in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, there is a movement to introduce a Chinese oyster into the bay that may grow faster and be more disease-resistant and pollution-tolerant. But the folly of introducing an alien species to a struggling ecosystem has been shown again and again. Zebra mussels, anyone?

Meanwhile, a real solution exists. Oyster farms are thriving in Virginia, New York and New England. On these aquaculture operations, billions of oysters spend one to three years in metal cages that function as artificial reefs. They filter water. Their shells provide habitat for numerous species. Sport fishermen have learned that striped bass, shad and other species congregate around them.

Aquaculture has a bad name. We picture fish farms with tons of feed being dumped into the water, creating the same algae-promoting conditions as pollution from cities and terrestrial farms. But the situation is reversed with oyster farms, because oysters are little filters. The farms provide far more water-cleaning benefits than all the government programs put together, don't cost taxpayers a cent, and support coastal economies. They also make better oysters: a farmed oyster is plumper, sweeter and prettier than its wild cousin.

So, have the Chesapeake watermen, who harvest what remains of the wild oyster fishery, embraced aquaculture? Hardly. They have resisted every attempt to privatize bottomland, even as they go out of business. And Maryland has obliged them with a series of regulations effectively hamstringing aquaculture.

This is wrongheaded. The rest of us should consider it our patriotic duty to eat more cultivated oysters. I know; it's tough. But opting for oysters over wild seafood takes the pressure off marine populations and supports the sustainable production of food along our coasts. It can even help the Chesapeake return to the state of beauty and bounty that stunned John Smith four centuries ago.

nytimes.com

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From: LindyBill4/9/2007 8:32:47 AM
   of 773448
 
Cursed Communications
STRATEGY PAGE
April 9, 2007: Osama bin Laden, and other senior al Qaeda leaders miss their cell phones and email. Over the last six years, as more terrorist leaders have been caught or killed, the word has gotten out that Western intelligence agencies capture much, if not all, use of these devices by terrorists. Since Islamic terrorists tend to have vivid imaginations, they assume Western technical capabilities to be far greater than they actually are. Or do they?

The cell phones and Internet have been a major boost for Islamic terrorists, but not all of them. For lower ranking terrorists, the ability to easily communicate with like-minded people is a boon to recruiting, fund raising, planning and morale in general. However, the higher you get up the food chain, the more likely that use of these electronic devices will get you noticed by the police. This makes it clear that the police do not have unlimited capabilities in this area. Naturally, the intelligence people stay quiet about exactly what they can do. But from what is known, terrorists using cell phones and the Internet tend to get noticed.

The fact that the top people have given up use of the Internet and cell phones, has not made much of an impression on those lower down in the terrorist pecking order. These lower ranking guys are younger, less wiser, and more inclined to believe they can outsmart the lawmen. There are plenty of ways to mess with people trying to tap into your Internet use. Email can be encrypted, or you can save drafts of email, without sending them, with your recipient having access to your email account (and thus being able to call up drafts.) VOIP phone calls over the Internet, like Skype, are encrypted. However, all those precautions can be overcome by the intel people. Some of these obstacles slow down the cops, but as many imprisoned terrorists have to come to discover, the Internet is a vulnerable communications channel if someone is really out to get you.

Terrorists have improvised in several ways, like inventing their own code words for things while chatting on cell phones or email. But that still makes it possible to know where they are. In combat, terrorists often don't care if the enemy knows their general location. Thus terrorists in Iraq use off-the-shelf walkie-talkies (especially the Motorola ones) for battlefield communication, sometimes with code words, sometimes not. In a fast moving gun battle, staying in touch with your buddies is important.

Overall, modern communications tools have been a curse for the terrorists. While the Internet does help with recruiting, it also delivers terrorist identities or locations to the police early on. Sure, that has sometimes paid off because, with so many new recruits, the police have sometimes lost track of which newbies develop into really lethal terrorists. There's a growing trend for potential recruits to back away from active participation in terrorism when they realize how vulnerable they are. The less thoughtful recruits are not discouraged, and that accounts for so many of the terrorists being dummies and boneheads.

strategypage.com

tinyurl.com

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To: LindyBill who wrote (201909)4/9/2007 9:09:25 AM
From: LindyBill
   of 773448
 
To Close Gaps, Schools Focus on Black Boys
D-Ed Reckoning
By KDeRosa

The NYT laps up another story about a non-instructional remedy to what is fundamentally an instructional problem: the academic performance of black boys.

Instead of fixing what and how they're teaching, the Ossining Union Free school district is trying something different:

"[T]he black boys at Brookside, are set apart, in a way, by a special mentoring program that pairs them with black teachers for one-on-one guidance outside class, extra homework help, and cultural activities during the school day. "All the black boys used to end up in the office, so we had to do something," said Lorraine Richardson, a second-grade teacher and mentor. "We wanted to teach them to help each other" instead of fight each other."

The message is that the problem is "black boys." There's something about black boys that is inherently defective and causing underperformance. It can't be that the school isn't teaching properly.

Let's see what this program entails:

"The special efforts for Ossining's black male students began in 2005 with a college-preparatory program for high schoolers and, starting last month, now stretch all the way to kindergarten, with 5-year-olds going on field trips to the American Museum of Natural History and Knicks and Mets games to practice counting."

Well, at least they got the practice counting part right.

And here's some irony for you:

"Ossining's unusual programs for black boys have drawn the attention of educators across the country as school districts in diversifying suburbs are coming under new pressure to address what many see as a seemingly intractable racial divide with no obvious solution."

First of all there is an obvious solution: teach better. But, that's a solution to one is looking for. The irony is that this "unusual program" has "drawn the attention of educators across the country." That's because they're all looking for the easy solution, as opposed to something with a proven track record. And, that's because all the programs with proven track records all involve instructional changes. these programs don't draw "the attention of educators across the country."

"The federal No Child Left Behind law's requirement that test scores be analyzed for each racial group has over the past decade spotlighted the achievement gap even in predominantly white suburban districts."

See. NCLB has been good for something. Collecting data. Something schools are loathe to do since it shows they are failing.

Some groups have attacked the program for the wrong reasons:

"I think this is a form of racial profiling in the public school system," said the coalition's executive director, Michael Meyers. "What they're doing here, under the guise of helping more boys, is they're singling them out and making them feel inferior or different simply because of their race and gender."

Actually, having a low performer is a mainstream class sends a steady stream of information to the student that he isn't as smart as the rest of the class. So, this isn't the problem.

then we have this non-sequitur:

"At a time of wider debate over the socioeconomic barriers facing black boys, the focus on boosting educational support has gained traction with policymakers."

But elsewhere in the article we're told that the black girls aren't performing as badly as the boys. So, it's not an SES issue now is it?

Finally we come to some words that should strike horror in anyone who follows education:

"A New York Times analysis of state education data showed"

That's where I had to stop

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To: KLP who wrote (201768)4/9/2007 10:47:16 AM
From: Alastair McIntosh
   of 773448
 
I guess you're not familiar with the ARGO project. 3000 sensors all over the global oceans recording temperature and salinity to a depth of 2000 meters and transmitting the results by satellite link. Plenty of data to get a good handle on quantity and distribution oceanic heat content.

argo.net

..there are no temperatures taken of any consequence over this 70% of land?

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To: LindyBill who wrote (201912)4/9/2007 11:04:43 AM
From: unclewest
   of 773448
 

"The fact that the top people have given up use of the Internet and cell phones"

"Overall, modern communications tools have been a curse for the terrorists."


More strategy page nonsense. I don't buy a word of it.

There are 150 million militant Muslims on earth. Those involved in the fight continue to use the internet and cell phones with impunity, including their top leadership. They are not trying to avoid us. We seem to forget that their goal is to die fighting us. The Quranic Concept of War assures them a place in heaven for doing so and they believe it.

Both Strategy Page and DOD have consistently underestimated the strength and capabilities of our enemies.

If anything, AQ use of modern commo has increased. I know for a fact DOD and the Army just started a new initiative to try to intercept more of their communications in more locales.

With our current war of attrition strategy we will deplete our military resources long before AQ does the same.
We are the dog that is losing "The War of The Flea."
Petreaus letter to the Iraqi people (in my last post) is a prime example why.

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To: LindyBill who wrote (201912)4/9/2007 11:11:49 AM
From: unclewest
   of 773448
 
Farewell Message, Army Chief of Staff
General Peter J. Schoomaker
35th Chief of Staff of the Army

Tomorrow we will stand on the parade field at Fort Myer and the mantle of Army Chief of Staff will pass to General George W. Casey. It has been a tremendous privilege and honor to serve alongside you, the Soldiers, Civilians, and family members, who make the Army the world’s preeminent land force, the ultimate instrument of national resolve.
Upon becoming 35th Army Chief of Staff in August 2003, I issued an “Arrival Message” to the force. In that message I spoke of standing in an Iranian desert in 1980, on a moonlit night, at a place called Desert One, where eight of our comrades lost their lives and others were forever scarred. I spoke of keeping a photo of the carnage that night to remind me of the grief and failure of that mission and the commitment survivors of that operation made to a different future.
Having now been in this Army for almost four decades, and having seen the Army my father served in for 32 years before that, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that today’s battle-hardened Army does, in fact, reflect the different “future” we envisioned.
Standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, the men and women of today’s Army have remained focused on our nonnegotiable responsibility to the Nation. For almost 232 years, the Army has never failed the American people, and it never will. We have been resolute in the pursuit of our four overarching strategies – providing relevant and ready landpower; training and equipping Soldiers to serve as warriors and growing adaptive leaders; sustaining the all-volunteer force composed of highly competent Soldiers who are provided a quality of life commensurate with the level of their service; and providing infrastructure and support to enable the force to fulfill its strategic roles and missions. Furthermore, instead of reigning-in our drive to transform during a time of war, we have leveraged opportunities in this conflict to establish and accelerate the momentum necessary to reshape the entire force into a more capable campaign-quality force with vastly improved joint and expeditionary capabilities.
Specifically, as we serve alongside our joint and allied partners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, we have improved the Army’s ability to operate and dominate in any environment against current, emerging, and unforeseen threats. While working to grow the Regular Army by 30,000 since 2004, we now have authority to permanently increase our endstrength by over 74,000 Soldiers across all components – Active, National Guard, and Army Reserve. We have created far more capable and strategically deployable brigade-sized formations that are designed to receive and integrate new technologies and equipment as soon as they become available. There has been a significant expansion and enhancement of Army Special Operations Forces. We have and are continuing to increase Soldier and unit effectiveness and protection, as evidenced in our reset efforts and modernization plans. We have been developing a forward-looking doctrine which guides how we organize, train, fight, and sustain our forces. Finally, and perhaps most importantly given that Soldiers are our centerpiece, the Army’s intellectual and cultural transformation is creating and maintaining a learning and adaptive force that will dramatically improve how we face future challenges. We are growing innovative Soldiers and pentathlete leaders through training and education built on recent combat experience. Literally, every aspect of today’s Army has been touched by change, with the exception of our enduring values.
During my tenure as Army Chief of Staff, I have seen our Soldiers continuously demonstrate why they are our greatest strength. Their adherence to the Warrior Ethos is as inspiring as it is necessary. Their ability to learn and adapt as we fight an ever-changing enemy and transform to meet complex future threats is essential. Their dedication and optimism about our future are contagious.
We must never forget that war is fought in the human dimension. Therefore, technology will always play an important but distinctly secondary role, because even our most sophisticated satellites and computers cannot get into the mind of the enemy, interact with local leaders, understand other societies and cultures, or make the instantaneous life or death decisions required to meet our 21st century challenges. Men and women with their “boots on the ground” are necessary to do all this.
Let there be no mistake, fighting and adapting today, while transforming for an uncertain and complex future against traditional, irregular, catastrophic, and disruptive threats is vital to America’s security. Although those in uniform have borne a disproportionate burden during the opening engagements of this Long War, we are not fighting and cannot win this war alone. Defeating our enemies requires a shared understanding of the threat and a strategic consensus. It requires a concerted effort, utilizing all elements of power – diplomatic, informational, military, and economic. Finally, it requires a national commitment to recruit, train, equip, and support those in uniform and their families, something that is a matter of priorities, not affordability.

While prudence cautions against ignoring the effect of war weariness and our tendency toward cyclic national defense flat-footedness, let me assure you that from my vantage point, our men and women in uniform continue to enjoy the admiration and appreciation of every American. This is reflected both in public opinion and the Congress. This support has been and will be critical as we continue to fight this Long War.
The road ahead will not be easy and the stakes could not be higher. While there is much we don’t know, I can say with certitude that sustained engagement of our Army will remain the norm, not the exception. Therefore, the Army must continue to demonstrate initiative, resilience, and innovation at all levels. The Army must continue to adhere to its non-negotiable Values and the Warrior Ethos. The Army must continue to learn and adapt. Yet despite challenges, everything I have seen as Army Chief of Staff encourages me.
When recalled from retired rolls nearly four years ago, I stated that “as an American Soldier, I had never left your ranks.” It has been a great privilege to wear the uniform once again. I remain forever humbled by the courage, dedication, and selfless service of those who preceded us and those who remain in service to our Country. I am proud of you. You are indeed Army Strong!
God bless you – the United States Army.

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To: MJ who wrote (201896)4/9/2007 11:22:41 AM
From: ManyMoose
   of 773448
 
So many people world-wide think of America as a good country, yet so many would like to see us fail. The most distressing thing is that many of those who think that way are Americans.

I've never seen the Enola Gay, but I have been inside a B-17 and taken a memorable flight in one (which I recommend as well worth the $350 each it cost us). They are small by comparison with the B-29, yet look at what they accomplished.

As for the bomb on Hiroshima, which had unspeakable effects, I can only say to the entire world "Thank your God that the USA is the country that used that bomb and not some of her enemies, including the ones we have now."

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To: Alastair McIntosh who wrote (201914)4/9/2007 11:55:31 AM
From: KLP
   of 773448
 
No, I didn't know about the Argo project. 3000 sensors in a globe as big as ours and with 70% of that globe covered with water doesn't seem very many sensors.

Do you know if there are sensors above the water at various levels worldwide?

And just as a matter of interest, are you watching Planet Earth? It certainly will make anyone realize just how vast, and how vastly complex, this planet really is.

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To: MJ who wrote (201878)4/9/2007 12:01:51 PM
From: Alan Smithee
   of 773448
 
Here's a little history of how the 25th Amendment came about:

25th Amendment

The assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 shocked the nation in more ways than the obvious. The advancement of medical technology had many hoping that the President could have been saved after being shot. That was not the case, but if he had been, Kennedy could have been in a coma for an extended period of time, perhaps never able to fully function again. He would be the President, but would not be able to fulfill his duties. The resulting power vacuum would cause a constitutional crisis - who is President? Who has the power of the Presidency?

Less than two years after Kennedy's death, on July 6, 1965, the Congress passed the 25th Amendment, where the line of succession was not only clarified, but what was to be done in the case of presidential disability was addressed. The selection of a Vice President for an empty Vice Presidential seat was also provided for. The states ratified the amendment on February 10, 1967 (584 days). The second clause, dealing with the filling of a vacancy in the Vice Presidency, was used less than six years later when Gerald Ford assumed the Vice Presidency upon the resignation of Spiro Agnew.

usconstitution.net

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To: Ichy Smith who wrote (201870)4/9/2007 1:03:47 PM
From: DMaA
   of 773448
 
Twice you've missed the point that I am "pontificating" on how my tax dollars are being used.

and you sit and pontificate on what a stranger should do about a child they don't want, and cannot afford to raise.

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