Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Use NASA 4 Oil Spill Help, Corrupt MMS, Lightning Rod Rahm Emanuel - News Headlines 26 May 2010
From Denny: In a smart thought opinion piece from Robert Zaretsky over at the Christian Science Monitor, he suggests we put NASA on the job helping with this BP oil spill in the Gulf. He's right. NASA is experienced in extreme and hostile environments, forced over the decades to create some serious problem-solving that was life or death. Why hasn't the President put them to work on the problem along with the other alphabet soup federal agencies? It's a superb idea!
While suspicious as to America's intent, Mexico is low key relieved we sent troops to the border to help with the massive drug wars. Mexicans are still nervous it is a ploy to round up illegals. Americans are most interested in catching the criminal drug dealers who are so violent as well as stop the drugs flowing into America. Every country has the right to protect their citizens and their borders and the Mexicans respect and agree with that right.
The hard liners in Israel are angry with Rahm Emanuel because he won't rubber stamp their agenda and so they accuse him of being a traitor to Israel. Sounds a lot like the Republicans deciding who isn't patriotic enough for them, wrapping themselves tightly in The Flag, doesn't it? No one can please the hard liners in Israel as they are a contentious lot who don't care about anyone but themselves. Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like the Republicans too.
It's understandable Israel doesn't want America to favor the troublesome and terrorist Palestinians. What they don't seem to understand is that stirring up the Palestinians to more violence is insanity on Israel's part. At some point you have to give your enemy some quarter to rest his head at night and hope he stays on his side of the fence. If he comes across said fence then shame on him for whatever happens. But you don't need to be crossing the fence into his safe zone either.
Something despicable has popped up on the Iraq War radar: prisons in Iraq where the wives and children of suspects are held and tortured to get information out of their husbands. Supposedly, the American troops know nothing about it. I find that hard to believe. When you live in country and interact with the locals you hear the local news, gossip and wondering about secret places and doings. It's time for America to address this issue as it is unacceptable. The whole point of going into Iraq was originally to end torture and political prisoners. This regime is no different than Saddam.
Gulf oil spill: Is MMS so corrupt it must be abolished? (CSMonitor)
Lawmakers are looking at how to reform the Mineral Management Service (MMS), which oversees offshore drilling. Reports before and after the Gulf oil spill show it is deeply intertwined with Big Oil.
The Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) is peopled by those who hold the strings on America's natural treasures and is courted by those who, like the Deepwater Horizon drillers, want to exploit those resources.
Yet in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon accident, it is becoming apparent that the firewall that should exist between these two groups – the regulators and the regulated – is closer to a revolving door.
The Gulf oil spill has given fresh urgency to calls to reform the MMS, which has long been accused of having too cozy a relationship with Big Oil. But as the process of reform starts, new reports are revealing just how intertwined the MMS and Big Oil are – and how difficult it will be to separate one from the other.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) of New Hampshire went so far as to suggest in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Wednesday that the agency be abolished entirely and rebuilt from scratch.
Her exasperation is a response to findings like those of acting Interior Department Inspector General Mary Kendall, who released a report this week that said relationships between MMS and industry officials often date back to kindergarten. The relationships could create a situation where personal connections undermine the MMS's ability to impartially oversee the oil-drilling industry, she told the House Natural Resources Committee during a hearing Wednesday........
Yet the MMS is uniquely situated for vilification and reform. It receives billions of dollars a year in royalties from the industry it is supposed to regulate. Employees of the MMS and Big Oil routinely switch sides. And the MMS relies on industry expertise for environmental impact and assessment data that go into approving drilling permits, according to officials......
Why Mexico welcomes Obama's plan to send 1,200 US troops to border (CSMonitor)
Departing from its complaints about the Arizona immigration law, Mexico cautiously welcomes President Barack Obama's plan to send 1,200 troops to the border.
The Mexican government all but praised President Barack Obama's decision to send 1,200 troops to the border, in a departure from the usual complaints about the US immigration enforcement policies.
Unlike President Felipe Calderon’s fiery opposition to Arizona’s immigration law or his calls for a new immigration policy, Mexico’s official reaction to the deployment of US National Guardsmen near the border has been measured, even as the public response has been mixed.
The troops will “strengthen efforts to combat transnational organized crime," the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement, which predicted the guardsmen will not be involved in immigration enforcement. The ministry also wrote of a “shared responsibility” in fighting drug traffickers and called for additional resources to prevent arms and cash smuggling into Mexico........
Obama administration officials said the troops won’t conduct searches for illegal immigrants, but will gather intelligence, work on surveillance support and train local law enforcement. Obama will also ask Congress for $500 million for law-enforcement in the region.
Why Rahm Emanuel is a lightning rod in Israel (CSMonitor)
In Israel, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Obama next week. While the move is seen as a bid to smooth relations, Emanuel is a controversial figure in Israel.
In a move seen in Israel as a bid to smooth ties after recent sharp differences over Israeli building in East Jerusalem, Rahm Emanuel paid a rare visit as White House chief of staff to Israel, delivering in person an invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with President Barack Obama next week.
Mr. Emanuel, who is combining business with a family vacation to celebrate the bar mitzvah of his son Zach, has been a lightning rod for blunt criticism because of his Jewish identity and ties to Israel. Israeli hard-liners who consider the Obama administration as hostile to the Jewish state have called him an "anti-Semite" and a "traitor...."
Emanuel's father was born in Jerusalem, fought in the Irgun underground militia before Israel's establishment, and moved to the US. As a boy, Emanuel went to summer camp in Israel, and also did a stint volunteering in the Israeli army.
But those links only enhance the dismay of some Israelis that Emanuel is the right-hand man of a president they consider more sympathetic to the Palestinians than to Israel, says Akiva Eldar, a former Washington correspondent for the liberal Haaretz newspaper.
"People in the US don't understand that to Israelis, his name sounds like a kibbutznik or a war hero. So the expectations are high. And if you are not completely pro-Israeli, you’re a traitor," he says.
"His image is that he's very liberal, and that he doesn't have a problem criticizing Israel…. Regardless of his Jewish identity, he's an Obama guy. So he starts from a problematic point....."
Witness: Secret Iraq prison for women and children (CSMonitor)
Iraq's Muthanna Army base has women and children in a secret prison, says an Iraqi eyewitness. He says some are family members of Al Qaeda suspect and are used to extract confessions.
There aren't supposed to be any prisons at the Muthanna Iraqi Army base, let alone ones with children in them.
But a member of the Iraqi security services says that as late as mid-May, he saw children playing in a makeshift detention center here......
The Muthanna facility appears to be operating weeks after a separate undisclosed prison on the base, where more than 400 suspects were held and dozens tortured, was closed.
The witness, who is known to be credible, says he risked speaking to a Western publication because he and some colleagues were sickened by seeing women and children detained. He insisted on anonymity.
"To reach the point of detaining women and their children is unacceptable. A woman's honor is Iraqi honor," he says.
He says at least six women and at least eight children were being held, including the wives of two suspected Al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders, Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri. The two women were detained with their children when their husbands were killed in an April air strike.
A Defense Ministry spokesman at the time confirmed that children had been rounded up. ....
In some cases, the women were being interrogated as possible suspects, but in others they were being used to try to extract confessions from their husbands. Using threats against women to elicit confessions from male relatives is a practice well-documented by rights groups.
"Four days ago when one of the men wouldn't confess they said, 'Bring in his wife.' They put her in a separate room nearby and beat her so he could hear her screaming," says the witness. "They went back to the man and said, 'We will rape her if you don't confess........' "
The witness said although the Iraqi Army unit has a joint operations center with US forces, the Iraqis make sure the Americans don't see the torture.......
Gulf oil spill: Could NASA come to the rescue? (SCMonitor)
As the Gulf oil crisis grows, NASA’s unrivalled expertise and experience in extreme remote environments make it a great candidate to fix the leak.
........But NASA could play a critical role in the pressing technical issues that now confront the oil spill in the Gulf. While it appears self-evident that all appropriate government agencies should be called on to act in any national crisis, NASA remains on the sidelines nearly a month since the fatal event in the Gulf.
This is tragic.
NASA’s unrivalled expertise and experience in extreme remote environments, complex operations, high pressure complex fluid flows, data and imaging needs, robotic systems, complex analytical modeling, manufacture of critical and specialized hardware, and safety and hazards management make it a perfect fit as a key responder in the Gulf.
Not only might it have the institutional knowledge to help the oil industry with current safety management, but it might also rescue BP from such errors in the future. Who knows? It might also rescue itself.
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