Random Thoughts (Political Edition)

SpitfireMK461

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While population density in most of the US does not justify the need for high speed rail, the eastern seaboard, especially between Boston and DC, as well as the west coast between San Diego and San Fransisco most definitely could put HSR to good use. And as the article mentions, train use is increasing with 2010 on track (no pun intended) to see the highest passenger levels ever, likely due in part to rising costs and inconvenience of air travel.
 

Dogbert

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300 km/h is still to slow. 300km here will get you to Canberra or in the middle of no where. It needs to be atleast 500km/h IMO for it to be viable here.
Once trains become as fast as planes, they'll inherit all the cost and headache associated with planes. No thank you.

My state is about 350km wide. There's three ways to cross it:

1. Spend about $125 to take a plane, which takes about three hours with a connection.
2. Spend about $35 in gas to take a car, which takes about three hours.
3. Spend about $35 to take a train, which takes five hours.

If having a car when I got there didn't matter, I'd always take the train. There's no hassle trying to get on, you get comfy seats and better food, and the scenery is better.
 
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thevictor390

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Once trains become as fast as planes, they'll inherit all the cost and headache associated with planes. No thank you.
Well, not quite. They're still grounded. You can still make emergency stops. A mechanical failure does not lead to a deadly crash as long as the structure is intact.
 

h-p

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Well, not quite. They're still grounded. You can still make emergency stops. A mechanical failure does not lead to a deadly crash as long as the structure is intact.
And getting on and off the train is much easier than plane, and you can take alot more stuff with you. (you don't have to wait it)
 

hajj

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Once trains become as fast as planes, they'll inherit all the cost and headache associated with planes. No thank you.

My state is about 350km wide. There's three ways to cross it:

1. Spend about $125 to take a plane, which takes about three hours with a connection.
2. Spend about $35 in gas to take a car, which takes about three hours.
3. Spend about $35 to take a train, which takes five hours.

If having a car when I got there didn't matter, I'd always take the train. There's no hassle trying to get on, you get comfy seats and better food, and the scenery is better.
I once took a train from the South of France to Brussels the ticket cost 90? one way, on the way there I took a bus to some remote airport and flew with Ryanair, including the bus fare that was around 60? and took less than the train.
High speed trains in Europe are nice, but unless you book them early, they are as expensive as plane,s so normally I fly distances over 400km.
 

MacGuffin

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I suspect had a different author wrote the book the final opinion of the CIA could be substantially different, even with the same evidence. He choose to emphasize specific parts of CIA history and leave others behind.



When you rely on a single source, such as this text, to form your opinion then outside help is needed to rectify any errors in that text.



I have heard the whole "CIA was a complete failure" spiel before, generally from journalists mind you, and most actual scholars and historians do not agree. The problem is that you are forming overarching opinions about the CIA based on an incomplete and biased text. Any informed opinion requires additional reading of various sources.
You still seem to miss the point.

Weiner's book isn't meant to be a chronicle of the CIA doing their job. Doing their job (and doing it well) should be normality and not worth any mentioning. Instead the book concentrates on the numerous occasions where the CIA didn't do its job well -- with sometimes catastrophic and outrageous results. Let me tell you again, that the CIA was founded for one single purpose: Providing intelligence to prevent another Pearl Harbour. Since 9/11 we know, that it failed in its job. It failed to do, what it was founded for: Defending the USA against attackers, before the attack happened. And it failed badly.

In short: The book tries to explain, how it was possible to have such a big failure in the end and analyses, why the CIA wasn't able to prevent another attack on the USA by providing accurate intelligence in time. Surely also the politicians carry a lot of the fault, no doubt about that, but the core of the problem was the CIA itself -- its structure, its personnell and its leaders. And that's what the book describes.

There certainly were successes on many occasions in smaller scales but in the great scheme of things, with the most important events in history in mind, the failures weigh much heavier, than the successes. They were successful in overthrowing governments in South America or Africa but in the end they weren't successful in defending their own country, which was their original job.

The core of what should be the CIA, the human intelligence, never really got on its feet and developed into a stepchild existence over the years, playing a minor role compared to covert operations and technical recon. The inability to give correct and timely information to political leaders was responsible for a number of disasters -- the last one being the war in Iraq under the assumption that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Or where do you think that information came from, hm? Errors of that magnitude happened a lot.

Collecting information and data was never the problem. Understanding, analyzing, evaluating and drawing the right conclusion was the big problem. And it didn't make things easier, when they desparately looked for young Americans who could speak fluent Arabic -- and then let them fail the aptitude test because theire written English was bad (!)

Yes, the book doesn't cover the complete history of the CIA but merely concentrates on the failures. But it's those failures, which marked the U.S. foreign politics of the past decades. If you read about historic events and then compare them to what Weiner writes about the role the CIA played in them, you are in constant facepalm.

The bottom line of the book is not, that the CIA was a complete failure. The bottom line is, that it has almost always been a failure, when it counted.

And I still recommend you reading it, before you're flooding me with more pastes from other websites. Can't you write something on your own on the topic? Or are you simply trying to fill me up with stuff so much, that I'm getting tired of the discussion?
 
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SpitfireMK461

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Probably because I come from a country that largely uses capital punishment, but I don't see the big deal in the Japan story.
 

thevictor390

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The method of execution doesn't seem it would matter much to me, as long as it's fast. If you're worried about capital punishment on the whole, then I guess I'm in the same situation as Spitfire.
 

jetsetter

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Two Cheers for the Independent QDR Review Panel
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Defense News has had a look at an advance copy of the Congressionally-mandated Independent QDR Review Panel report which will be briefed to Congress this week by its study leads.

There's apparently a lot here to like--criticism of DoD's (lack of a) force planning construct, some goodness on reforming the National Security decision making and planning apparatus, and what can only be seen as a rebuke to the QDR drafters for its lack of effort in the 15-20 year view.

Most heart-warming of all for this navalist is the clarion call to grow the Navy. That this independent, bi-partisan review panel came to a conclusion many of us support doesn't make it right or self-evident, but it sure does add some weight.

What did "growing the Navy" cost--bureaucratically--within the Panel? I suspect that the support of land forces folks was purchased with the report's recommendation to support current force levels in the Army and Marine Corps. Which brings us to my primary criticism of this report--that it doesn't make (or advocate) strategic choices. As defense spending is increasingly pressurized by a sputtering economy and other priorities, this report advocates growing the Navy (and Air Force) and enshrining the surge-inspired growth in land forces. I suspect that this will not be taken seriously by the White House or the Congress.

But all in all, the QDR Review Panel did an able job. I hope to link to an online version when I find it.

Report: http://www.comw.org/qdr/fulltext/2010QDRindypanelreport.pdf

http://www.informationdissemination.net/2010/07/two-cheers-for-independent-qdr-review.html
Great news!!! Increased defense spending is something I have been advocating for years. It is quite unfortunate that neither Congress nor the White House will listen. They seem to be fixed on a future idea of combat that is unwavering. This idea in a nutshell basically dismisses the concept of combat between nations. They believe that combat in the future will consist solely of actions against Al-Qaeda like actors. This is short sided and indeed quite dangerous. Yes, conflicts aimed at terrorist organizations will occur and that is something we need to prepare for but there is also a strong likelihood that not too far in the future the world will see war between powerful nations. That is also something that we need to be prepared for. It would not be difficult really. The funding is there, the spending just needs to be increased to a higher percentage of GDP. Historically speaking the current percentage is still quite low.

 

wooflepoof

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Computer Evidence Ties Leaks to Soldier
Investigators have found concrete evidence on computers used by Pfc. Bradley Manning that link him with the leak of classified Afghanistan war reports, a U.S. defense official said.
whole story

The release of the documents, Mr. Gates said, potentially harmed U.S. relations with Pakistan and other countries, and put in danger Afghans who had cooperated with the U.S. Defense officials are taking steps to figure if Afghans mentioned in the documents may now require help. "That is one of the worst aspects of this: will people trust us?" Mr. Gates said.

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said WikiLeaks's founder Julian Assange would be responsible for any harm that came from the document release. "Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his sources are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier, or that of an Afghan family."
Looks like wikileaks record may be shattered in grand fashion
 
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nomix

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Ironically, 20 years ago he advocated leaving Saddam Hussein in power to maintain stability in the middle east.
It's beginning to look like a pattern. Just like Nixon basicly created the underlying reasons for the Cuban missile crisis. From time to time, you have been governed by idiots.

I fail to see what Japan has done wrong. The criminals were sentenced to death and received their just punishment. Hanging, if done right, is cheap and effective.
The criminals were found guilty, by some very sick logic the state got the impression it has the right to take life, and the sentence was carried out. Hanging is probably an okay way to die, though, so I'm not that outraged by the particular method of execution. I do think it's a fucking disgrace that a state gets the deluted idea it can take life, but I guess it's not for me to decide. Only American presidents get to decide what's right or wrong, and what warrants action.

I think Japan's prison system is a bigger issue, if I'm not mistaken, Japan's prison system gets a lot of well deserved beef for their treathment of prisoners. A few state sanctioned murders a year is a smaler issue in that context.
 

Dogbert

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Looks like wikileaks record may be shattered in grand fashion
Yup. And Assange totally threw Manning under the bus with this, despite his "our sources remain confidential" credo.

WikiLeaks: Telling you everything you already knew at the expense of others.
 
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AiR

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Looks like wikileaks record may be shattered in grand fashion
?

If some dude uses his employers computers to leak stuff, there's going to be tracks. Wikileaks protect their sources but that wont help if their sources reveal themselves.
As for the second paragraph thats just silly and wouldnt hold up in court, not even an american one.

Now the news from a much more peaceful place!
Korea Times said:
North Korea wants to pay back debt in ginseng
North Korea has offered to pay its debt to the Czech government with ginseng, according to a local Czech daily newspaper.

MF DNES, a daily newspaper based in Prague, reported last Saturday that North Korea has recently suggested to the Czech Finance Ministry that it would pay 5 percent of its debt ? approximately $500,000 ? with ginseng.

?We are trying to persuade them (North Korea) to give us, for example a bulk of Zinc instead, so that we could sell it to someone else,? Tomas Zidek, deputy finance minister, told the newspaper in Czech.

North Korea is believed to have a significant amount of zinc in deposits.

The paper went on to say the consumption of ginseng in the Czech Republic is very small, and it only imported 1.4 tons last year. The amount of ginseng worth $500,000 will be roughly 400 tons, securing the supply for more than 200 years.

But, to Czech?s disappointment, North Korea seemed to have made up its mind, as it sent a delegation with samples of ginseng.

North Korea is known to be Czech?s 10th biggest debtor, which goes back to the communist governments. The North bought many trams and vehicles from former Czechoslovakia.
 

Dogbert

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As for the second paragraph thats just silly and wouldnt hold up in court, not even an american one.
I wouldn't be so sure. He knowingly released classified information, which is a crime.

I'm sure the NYT gets military-classified material dropped at their doorstep every day, but there's a reason you don't see it on the front page.
 

AiR

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I wouldn't be so sure. He knowingly released classified information, which is a crime.
No it isn't.
And that's a case against a US paper. Wikileaks is not american. Assange is not american. Nor has Assange acted in the removal of the documents from the Pentagon. He's merely the director of the charity foundation that has been given said documents by someone. This person has prorably broken the law. Assange and his organization have not. Further, the charity is regulated by german law and the website is protected by the swedish freedom of speech law. Even so much as trying to prosecute Assange will result in the US completely loosing face, and all over a few documents that are not even "top secret".
 
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