Battlefield 3 : Unboxing, Downloading, and Hardcore Mode

RPN is officially up to spec when it comes to games.  It has been something of a struggle to keep up in the ever crushening economy, but as per, it’s worth it.  Proof of point is in the following two videos.  This is significant as to the level of “virtual reality” 12.4 GHZ of processing power tied together with 8GB of superfast memory (2 of it dedicated solely to drawing and physics) can create in real time (for under $1G, mind you, 27″  monitor included ).   Computers of similar abilities will cost about half this much in 18 months, and be called consoles once again.

But enough preamble, RPN Gaming is live once again.  Here’s the proof.

Normally I like to try and finish a game before doing a full review. In this case, if you think about war as hardcore mode.  Here’s my full Battlefield 3 experience.

NOTE: The above video is also a nod to the curious, and some may say “flippant” nature of the curious crossover of the content of this site…that is…international politics and video games.   While the events portrayed and the re-imagined in the gaming world are never to be confused as the real thing, they can often offer a visceral insight into the nature of certain real life events.

Hardcore mode…IRL there’s no turning it off.

SIDENOTE: For some damn reason EA makes you install Origin (their “Steam-alike”) in order to install and play Battlefield 3.  This is, IMHO, utter crap.  It crashed updating, and wouldn’t let me install from the DVD’s forcing a 5-hour download of  a game I bought at the store.  Not to mention that, as present, Origin is in freaking BETA.   For those not familiar with software code words, that means “it crashes a lot and for no apparent reason, use with caution.”  As that software is the foundation of the B3 experience…right now it sucks.

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Iraq Libya Bush Obama Apples Oranges Fruit and War (and footnotes regarding freedom [x])

So it looks like we are at war again. 

Or in an unusual style I should say “we” [1] are at “war”[2] again [3].

-fin-

[1] We, the United Nations, of which I, as a United States citizen, am kinda a member. 

[2] It’s more of a humanitarian effort cloaked in war robes.  Well, let’s not cut dice here…what do we call this?  I think using “war”, flat out, is a bit extreme, especially referring to only the U.S. and Libya, and forgetting Europe and the Arab League, all of which are part of this…action.  This is a different type of thing [7], and I prefer it much to the other.[4]

[3] The U.N. is also intervening in other places….link…that needs to be updated…[5] 

[4] Iraq.  This is not the same thing as Iraq.  This is not a year of build-up, a parade of fake evidence, a cascade of fear-mongering, 500,000 300,000 (after Rummy got a hold of it) troops, multiple fleets, U.S. tanks rolling across the sand…this is just not the same thing.   This is a place called Libya.[6] 

[5] It’s Wikipedia, do it yourself.

[6] Libya.  It’s right here.  Between Egypt and Tunisia.   You might think, hey, wait, it’s barely between Egypt and Tunisia.  Well…yea…it does hang down a bit.  You remember hearing about the vastness of the Sahara Desert?  Yea…that’s what’s hanging there. “Libya” the piece of land, is better understood as the trade route by the Mediterranean connecting Egypt and Tunisia.  Note the bright line in the same place here, right along the sea.  Benghazi, the city that Kwudaffee [sp], was about to destroy, is right on that curveback part of the Med, where you can take a shortcut over sea.

The Tunisian people, just rose up,  and overthrew their authoritarian dictator.

The Egyptian people followed suit, rose up, and the overthrew their authoritarian dictator.

The Libyan people rose up, and got bombed and sniped and who knows what else.

[7] This “action” as I mentioned, falls into what I consider the “just war” category.  It is war based on justice.  Which, in pretty much every case, calls for a great deal of restraint, which we have shown in this case.

I am greatly saddened in this regard by Iraq.  On the one hand, great, I’m very glad that everyone now (welcome to the club, Republicans) is concerned about the cost and validity [8] of war.   I think Iraq re-taught that lesson to a lot of people.   On the other hand, I think that lesson came with it the somewhat cynical notion that all use of force, particularly by the United States, is “war” of the same caliber and just-ness as the one in Iraq.

They aren’t.  That’s the entire point of “just war” theory.  The notion that there is a time to unleash the Hogs. [8]

 [8] The President of the United States through the War Power Act of 1973 gets to do so when, and I quote…

SEC. 2. (c) The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

That (2) up there, in this case, is the U.N. Security Countil resolution, adopted 10-0 by that body.  The U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. treaty, so here comes the Constitution..

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Emphasis mine.  BTW, we have veto power in the U.N., so it’s not like “they” could ever order us to attack anyone we didn’t want to.   So that’s how the President “gets” to do this.  When somebody takes a shot at us, Congress tells him to, one of our treaties authorizes it (i.e. an attack on a NATO ally), or if he’s feelin’ really dirrty, whenever he wants.   Here’s the rub…

It is important to note that since the War Powers Resolution’s enactment, over President Nixon’s veto in 1973, every President has taken the position that it is an unconstitutional infringement by the Congress on the President’s authority as Commander-in-Chief. The courts have not directly addressed this question.

Remember folks, the President controls the Army, the Congress controls the purse strings.  That *is* the check and balance.  The rest is largely show and politics (and we get to vote out either next time ’round).    Congress has told itself it can cut off fuding after 60 (or 90) days.   It takes Congress a lot longer to do anything in most cases, hence the wiggle room written into pretty much every law concerning this stuff (if you read the law technically, simultaneously assassinating every member of Congress in an inconspicuous manner would make it impossible for the U.S. to ever strike back, as it violates none of the rules specifically listed in [8 – Sec.2.(c)(3)].)

All that being said, comparing this entire situation, from start to [current], isn’t  anything like Iraq.  If, perhaps, the people of Afghanistan had risen up and overthrown the Taliban, and the people of Iran has risen up and overthrown their Theocracy (as they’ve tried a couple times), and the people of Iraq rose up…and got gunned down by Saddam Hussein…then…perhaps then, we’d be talking about the same thing (at least it would be closer goegraphically and geo-politically.)   

Hindsight gives us this insight, for if Iraq had been the just war it was claimed, we would have a) found the WMD, b) been welcomed and c) the mass killing would have stopped by now.  We didn’t, they weren’t, and they haven’t.  We’ll know this about Libya much sooner [it won’t take 3 years for everyone to notice that if it’s going to fester for another 1o], but as it stands one can’t say the rest.

Iraq was spoiled from the start, to use it as a template for judging all war is folly.   Here, we seem currently and to me at least, to be on the righteous path.   A priest should not stand by and watch a slaughter he could stop with little effort, I daresay I don’t understand how a President could either.  

In this sense the apples and oranges can be compared on their own merits and not just lumped into that big basket of fruit called “war”.

[x] It ain’t free, but it is very much worth fighting for.  Like oil.  Which, like freedom, makes life flow much more smoothly.   Take that as you will.   If the right wants to take up the “war for oil” mantra, things will go uber-bizaroo and Trump might actually win (and have an army to fire people with).

[we’ll see how long this goes on.  Obama doesn’t seem to get into fights unless he knows he’s going to win, and he pulled the trigger here just about as soon as the i’s were crossed and t’s dotted.

A Bit or Twenty About My Political Views

[this is an excerpt from a private conversation with a friend, who wish to remail anonymous, I think]

This is a much more civilzed conversation, but I really do prefer to have these conversations in public, as, you know…I’m a struggling writer. Really struggling.

To summarize…I’m not a Democrat and don’t follow their agenda. I saw Obama admitted a mistake with Dashle, which is why I like Obama. Bush couldn’t think of a mistake he made after four years…which was a sad joke.

I think both Cavuto and Olbermann are loud mouthed windbags who treat politics like college football. Cavuto is damn near retarded and Olbermann is a pompous windbag.

I enjoy watching and responding to, the Sunday morning talkers. NPR is one of the better sources of info. I usually scan Google News, which is run by an AI and then research from there to do my writing.

I don’t think News and Opinion should be mixed, which is why I think Fox, MSNBC, CNN, etc. are a joke. Cronkite could say more with the raise of an eyebrow than most of these modern schlubs can say with a ten minute rant. All of them are first and foremost a BUSINESS and in the media game to make money. They are not after Truth, at all, they go after ratings, which is why they suck.

I blame Bush and Cheney for making a series of huge strategic blunders that pushed our country to bankruptcy. That was the goal of AQ, BTW, to bankrupt the country. It worked. Bush is an anti-intellectual fool who picked party over principle again and again and again. He picked image over substance and should be in jail for endorsing and pushing torture.

Morals are still important. 9/11 didn’t change that. We’ve killed tens, if not hundred of thousands of innocent people in response. That, I feel, is very immoral.

I’m against torture because I have friends in the military. I also believe in the Golden Rule, as it has been “discovered” by every major religion on the planet. If one endorses torture for others, they endorse it for their friends. I don’t want anyone tortured and think there are much better ways to get information. Study how we “interrogated” German and Japanese Generals during WWII for some good examples.

I can, and have, sat down with people, been honest with them, and have had them telling me their secrets in under 20 minutes. Torture only makes people tell their torturers what the tortoree thinks their torturers want to hear. It’s not a good avenue to get at the truth. It’s torture, and it’s wrong. No matter who does it. Jack Bauer is a fictional character and a number of lecturers at the U.S. War College had to make a public statement about it, because of bunch of keyboard commandos think we should torture more people.

It won’t work, and you also might want to read up on the Japanese we executed for war crimes after they water-boarded Americans. It’s just not right. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

As Martin Luther King said, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.” He got assassinated for that view.

I’m not a big fan of Clinton. He sold his soul to be President. Watch, or read “Primary Colors” to see how that worked.

I’m currently reading McClellen’s book on Bush, and consider it to be one of the more accurate readings on what went on in that White House.

I’ve also read two of Obama’s books, and consider him to be a very intelligent, very well read, and very good leader. I don’t agree with the Limbaughian traitorous stance that seems to be dominating the GOP. I also think “Joe the Plumber” is a tard and have written extensively about him.

I’m curious about your view of Islam, which I have a great deal of respect for, and am also critical of in my book.

BTW, would you like to buy a book? I hate to give my writings aways for free to people, as I believe them to have real value. I am an independent thinker, and wish to stay that way.

Regardless, I hope this finds you well. And I VERY MUCH appreciate the more respectful tone this conversation now has.

Peace,
-Roy

Music and the Economic Collapse of the U.S.

This is a pretty good example of what my book is like…my intellectual ramblings divided by popular culture references. The book is also my philosophy “dissertation”. However, unlike most phi-disses, this one was created to be understood by another with the capacity to appreciate simple culture, and not necessarily someone who has a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, physics, medicine, English, or any of the other fields which I reference in the book.

Sorry about that whole “U.S. economic collapse” thing (Straw and A Camel’s Back)

There’s an ooooold saying about the tipping points in life.

This ones comes from deep in the desert, back in some of the first communities our species ever built.

The wiki says the story goes like this.

The idiom the straw that broke the camel’s back is from an Arab proverb about how a camel wearing shoes is loaded beyond its capacity to move[citation needed]. This is a reference to any process by which cataclysmic failure (a broken back) is achieved by a seemingly inconsequential addition (a single straw). This also gives rise to the phrase “the last/final straw”, used when something is deemed to be the last in a line of unacceptable occurrences. A variation of this idiom is “the straw that broke the donkey‘s back”.

One of the earliest published usages of this phrase was in Charles Dickens‘s Dombey and Son where he says “As the last straw breaks the laden camel’s back”, meaning that there is a limit to everyone’s endurance, or everyone has his breaking point. Dickens was writing in the nineteenth century and he may have received his inspiration from an earlier proverb, recorded by Thomas Fuller in his Gnomologia as ‘Tis the last feather that breaks the horse’s back.’

So it goes from the Desert to Dickens and back to Dicks in the Desert (of Wall Street). Or something.

Why I’m bringing this up is that, uh, I’m one of those straws, maybe even the proverbial one.

You see, in order to provide for my little media endeavor, and take some time to write and enjoy life, I’ve taken the step of cashing out a 401K I’d been bulding for the last few years. Silly, I know, but when one needs capital and one has been saving for that reason, it was an easy call.

The fact that I got my check on the exact same day that the shit hit the fan makes me wonder about the weight of my piece of straw.

We’ve been told that the camel was mighty and healthy and beyond danger. That It could withstand war and famine and plague and pestilence and keep walking through the desert undisturbed. That it could go faster, even, if we just whipped it harder.

Now we know better.

Just like they did thousands of years ago, halfway around the world.

“They Hate Us For Our Freedom”

This is perhaps the stupidest idea ever put forth in the arena of foreign relations.

May I quote someone?

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over ablack, nor a black has any superiority over a white- except by piety and good action.

Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.  Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim, which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.

Do not therefor, do injustice to yourselves.

There’s other parts of the speech i don’t agree with, obviously, but the basic premise is a fairly strong argument against the idiocy displayed by those who would profess that the title of this post is true.

What Happened Since 9/11

Umm..yea…that’s me…and what I was thinking about today.   If you want to know what I was thinking or where I was 7 years ago today, I remember exactly, and can share. 

Just like the rest of you.

Certain events in history have that effect. 

Also, and this is only something that makes sense if you watch the video and wonder why I didn’t return to the same theme I started with…

There’s a reason the country isn’t together now as it was after 9/11/08.  There’s a reason we don’t feel the unity we did then.  A HUGE FUCKING part of that reason is the war we were lied into.  If you don’t think we were lied into that war, please say so, and I’ll convince you otherwise.  Hindsight is 20/20.  

The other main reason for our disunity is that…well…a lot of things have gone wrong since Bush led us into the desert.  A whole lot.  And we all know it.  What we don’t agree on is what to do about it.  We don’t agree on that at all. 

This is a problem.  A real problem.   We all agree on one thing (shit is fucked up) but we don’t agree on the other (who’s best to fix it).  For whomever is selected to try and fix the problems that we have brought upon ourselves, at least half the country is going to throw up their arms in disapproval and immediately discount the solutions offered.

I’m going to go ahead and go out on a limb here in my virtual abode and offer all my rhetorical, roytorical, logical, factual, emotional, historical, histronical, and whatever-adjective-you-chose reasons why Obama is the better choice in this particular situation.

I’ve been doing so for a little while now, half-assedly.  I just want to let you folks know what you are in store for.  Until those polls start moving back in the right correct direction, my full argumentative arsenal is officially on patrol.

RNC Video : Iran Attacked Us on 9/11

I watch this last night and was blown away by the…sliminess…of it.  The lack of knowledge of history.  The selective memory and the out-and-out insanity of this.  Not to mention, as you’ll see, the utter lack of judgement with showing hundreds of people getting killed instantly.

This is disgusting.  This is the RNC.

Now…something VERY important to note here…listen as the video begins…

The first attack occurred in Iran, 444 days American held hostage.  Again and again.

“They” grew…

And kill us “they” did. The date was September 11th, 9/11.

I’m sorry, but the selective memory, and total lack of historical perspective or accuracy is amazing.  Gone is any mention of Reagan pulling out of Lebanon during the Israeli occupation. Gone is any mention of funding “Them” against their fight with the Evil Empire for the entirety of Reagan’s terms.   Gone is any mention of Iraq and Iran fighting a horrid war in the 80’s, both with our help.  Gone is any mention of Bush, or invading Iraq, or Afghainstan or Weapons of Mass Destruction.   Gone is any sense of history or context. 

Let’s recall, if we can, what this same group of people said in 2004.

Note the familiar face in the cavalcade of fear.

So is this the “Change” they are talking about?  Instead of going after terrorists we are going after Islam?  Instead of going after Iraq we are going after Iran (since they, it seems, started it)?  Instead of focusing on our problems, we are focusing on how “they” want to kill us?

Have we always been at war with Eastasia?  Or is it Middleeastasia?

Sorry, but this video illustrates exactly how much change, peace, and rational argument you can expect from the RNC and the McCain/Palin ticket.

Previous coverage “live-writing” of the RNC coverage is here (yea, I talk about the thing and the people watching the thing).

Some possible campaign slogans, courtesy of “dahmer’s love zombie” of Fark.

McCain/Palin: Because your preacher said so.

McCain/Palin: You don’t need to see her position on the issues. She can go about her business. Vote along.

McCain/Palin: Because the other guy is a ni(BONGGGGGGGGG)

–my own–

McCain/Palin: POW + PTA = Pota-wow!

McCain/Palin: Change You Can Believe In (if you believe all the other crap we spew).

McCain/Palin: Kill ‘Em All and Let Baby Jesus Sort ‘Em Out

Feel free to be creative…

Iraq and Afghanistan War Updates (and of course juicy Palin bits)

Sorry, I’ve been slacking on the war updates. Some big things have happened, so let me dig ’em out of me email and let you know what the hell is going on and, as per, what I think about that.

First up is some good news, direct from al-Anbar province in Iraq.

RAMADI, Iraq, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Iraq on Monday took over security control of the western province of Anbar from U.S. troops, a provincial security source said.

In a ceremony held in the provincial government building in the provincial capital city Ramadi under tough security measures, the U.S. military transferred the security file of the Sunni province to Iraqi security forces.

Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Advisor announced the security transfer, saying “the Anbar province which once was one of the hottest areas in Iraq is celebrating today the transfer of security file.”

Ma’moun al-Alwani, the governor of Anbar and the commander of the U.S. troops in the province signed the agreement of the handover during the televised ceremony.

Anbar would be the 11th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to return to the control of Iraqi security forces. It would also be the first Sunni-dominated province to be handed over by the coalition forces.

Anbar, the country’s largest province, expanding from Baghdad all the way west to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, has been relatively calm since more than a year and a half ago after Sunni tribes and anti-U.S. insurgent groups turn up against al-Qaida in Iraq network, cooperating with the U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces.

[full story]

This is good news. We are giving them back their country. That is the only kind of victory we can fully achieve here. I say we go for it. Now is the time to make the decision about who is going to lead us in the “right” direction here.

Let me show you two links, both attached to the above story that illustrate the current divide.

U.S. proposes troops presence to 2015 in Iraq, Talabani

BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that the United States asked Iraq to keep its troops in the war-torn country until 2015, but negotiations set 2011 as a dead line, website of Talabani’s party posted on Wednesday.

“It was an American proposal that its troops to stay in Iraq to2015 while the Iraqi one suggested 2010, then we agreed on the date 2011,” Talabani said in an interview with the al-Hurra television from Washington late on Tuesday.

——

Iraq, U.S. eye troops withdrawal by end of 2011

BAGHDAD, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) — Iraq and the U.S. negotiators have reached a draft agreement on a proposed withdrawal timetable and other issues on the U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond 2008, CNN reported Friday.

Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Hamoud, who is also Iraq’s chief negotiator, told the channel that the U.S. troops would completely pull out by the end of 2011.

So the basic issue is that at the end of this year, there is no even-paper-thin, reason for the United States to continue having a military presence in Iraq. They are trying to hammer out such an agreement now. Iraq wants us gone anywhere from now to 2011. Bush wants us there to 2015. McCain wants at least 2013 and maybe 2113. Obama wants now to 2010 (maybe 2011).

I think that makes the choice easy. This war needs to be over. It’s reaching a point where we can hand it back over to the Iraqis we put in power. I think that’s about all we can ask for now. I seriously doubt we want to stay there until the Iraqi commit to fighting the “war on terror” (i.e. Iran and Syria) for us.

Now, this is all assuming (in one branch of future reality) that McCain wins and survives a full term. Say he wins and doesn’t. Then one Sarah Palin takes over. You may have heard of her by now. You may have even seen her speaking to people before. What you probably haven’t seen is her preaching before. Which brings us to Sarah Palin and Iraq. In this case, I’ll let her speak for herself.

Part 1

Part 2

[source and more on Palin’s church here…all part of the vetting process for the American people, it would seem]

The part that freaks me the fuck out, quite frankly, is where she is talking about sending her son off to war. She asks for only one thing (well, after asking them to pray for a $30,000,000,000 pipeline project)

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country.

That our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure we are praying for. That there is a plan, and that plan is God’s plan.

Oh golly. Let me catch you up a bit here. I know it’s hard to follow what’s going on in the rest of the world while you are busy pumping oil and negotiating pipeline contracts (and raising 5 kids, and going to snowmobile races, and teaching abstinence classes…it’s a full life I know).

The “Plan” you are talking about in regards to Iraq was actually put together by the last Vice-President. That’s what he did. And no, he’s not God. Nor is Bush. And quite frankly, after following the action overseas for the last 7 years quite closely, I’m not sure you want to bring “God’s Plan” into it.

And frankly, Mrs. Palin, if something happens to McCain, it’s going to be your plan. Do you have one? Have you even thought about it, a little bit?

Really though, this kind of stuff freaks me out. There’s another quote out there about how she doesn’t really follow what’s going on. To have someone that doesn’t know (like Bush) surrounded by people with a serious agenda (the Neocons, rallying to McCain) scares the every-living shit out of me.

Now, as to Afghanistan….

“Victory in Afghanistan Is Impossible”

Gèrard Chaliand: No. Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. With the heralded reinforcements, there will be about 80,000 NATO soldiers on the ground. That is insufficient to control the terrain. We’re in a military impasse. In this country, one and a quarter times the size of France with an incomparably more difficult topography, we would have had to send more men and above all to have actively contributed to ameliorating economic conditions in the countryside. Today, we must also try to negotiate. There’s no other way out. The Taliban cannot win the war against NATO, which is just as incapable of eradicating the Taliban.

Outside of Kabul and several big cities, it’s the Taliban who control the local governments, and not foreign soldiers, most usually barricaded inside their little forts. In the south and east of the country, the Taliban – with the support of a large part of the local population – have succeeded in establishing a political infrastructure, parallel hierarchies that are the real power. Now experience shows that when it’s the opponent who exercises that power, the war is lost.

How did we get to that point?

The Taliban filled the vacuum left between 2002 and 2004, when the 15,000 GIs who were there were mainly busy with tracking bin Laden, when the other international forces remained concentrated in Kabul and nothing was done for the peasant populations, especially in the south and east (the Pashtun regions) even though those regions are the keys to the country.

International development aid, directed for the most part towards Kabul, represents less than 10 percent of the donations paid out. The reconstruction teams in the provinces represent fewer than 10,000 men for a population of 20 million rural residents!

Contrary to preconceptions, the Taliban have a better understanding of what is strategically important. They have understood that the conflict’s center of gravity is the sensitivity of Western public opinion – which they must impress by killing NATO – preferably American – soldiers. Our refusal to incur losses is notorious.

So we got that going for us. It turns out that when you stop one war half-way through to start another one that drags on for 10 times longer than you thought it would, that first, easy, half-way-through war comes back bigger and badder than ever. So much so that now we will have to re-fight it.

And most likely do so without the support of Pakistan. I know, I haven’t been writing about that either, but Musharraf is gone. It looks like the assassination of Bhutto is going to lead to Bhutto getting elected (hey, it’s Pakistani politics). Mostly there is disarray there, but a consistent lack of general support for U.S. goals in the region.

Afghanistan is also fucked for us because of stuff like this.

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, according to the United Nations mission in Kabul.

If the assertion proves to be correct, this would almost certainly be the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

The United Nations statement adds pressure to the United States military, which maintains that 25 militants and 5 civilians were killed in the airstrikes, but has ordered an investigation after Afghan officials reported the higher civilian death toll.

The United Nations team visited the scene and interviewed survivors and local officials and elders, getting a name, age and gender of each person reported killed. The team reported that 15 people had been wounded in the airstrikes.

I saw some other news reports on this and it looks more like 9 or 10 people got killed. A whole family. Kids, parents, grandparents. The target they wanted wasn’t there. This was a village in sight of the U.S. base in the area. The house had been searched the day before, then the 2,000 lb. bombs. came. And the family disintegrated.

They quoted some of the survivors as saying that the U.S. was worse than the Russians. Worse than the Russian, can you believe it? They quoted the recent burning of Georgia (Atlanta), which they had just heard about, as proof of the “Amrikaans” barbarity.

GET THE FUCK OUT OF OUR COUNTRY!!!!!

Last week, U.S. and Iraqi officials said the two sides agreed tentatively to a schedule that includes a broad pullout of combat troops by the end of 2011 with the possibility that a residual U.S. force might stay behind to continue training and advising Iraqi security services.

But al-Maliki’s remarks indicated his government was not satisfied with that arrangement and wants all foreign troops gone by the end of 2011.

Iraqi leader insists foreign soldiers must go – Yahoo! News.

——

Sorry for the harsh paraphrase there, but I wanted to make it clear to my fellow Americans what the Iraqis think our foreign policy should be regarding their domestic policy.

The Spirit of the Olympics Shining Through The Fog of War

Olympic shooters hug as their countries do battle – CNN.com

BEIJING, China (CNN) — Sharpshooters from Russia and Georgia embraced Sunday after earning medals for their countries, which have been teetering on the brink of war since the Beijing Summer Olympics kicked off last week.

Russia’s Natalia Paderina and Georgia’s Nino Salukvadze hugged after winning Olympic silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the women’s 10-meter air pistol competition.

The rivals kissed each other on the cheek after standing on the medal podium with China’s Guo Wenjun, who won the gold medal in the event.

Waving flower bouquets high, the women smiled broadly at the audience.

“If the world were to draw any lessons from what I did, there would never be any wars,” Salukvadze, 39, said afterward, according to media reports. The reports described the two as friends.

This is good to see…if a bit ironic.  I mean…sharpshooters?!

Bush Administration Takes RPN Advice and Talks to Iran

WASHINGTON, July 16 (Reuters) – With just six months left in office, the Bush administration has done an about-face in joining talks with Tehran over its nuclear program, a move analysts say is driven partly by a desire to avoid war with Iran.

For years, the Bush administration said it would join nuclear talks with Iran only if it gave up uranium enrichment, but with President George W. Bush’s term ending in January and tensions rising with Tehran, Washington feels it cannot afford to be excluded.

The perception, especially in global financial markets, of a growing likelihood of a confrontation between Iran and the United States or Israel has rattled oil markets in recent months, helping drive prices to record highs.

ANALYSIS-U.S. seeks talking over war with Iran | Reuters.

Ahh, finally we found the way to leverage the Bush administration to action…the near total collapse of the U.S. economy…at least it would if we attacked Iran.  Mere speculation has probably added 10-15% of the price of oil.  War itself would do something along the lines of 100-150%.

But to the main point here, the idea that Iran had to stop everything before we would even talk to them was a pretty fanciful negotiation tactic.  It’s the kind of tactic that only works of you have a boot on someone’s neck.  While we certainly overpower Iran, they are far from totally defenseless (as covered in this post regarding the recent missile launches and this one from a while back about the fast-boats.)

And the main weapon they have is economic.  Which is where we happen to be weakest at the moment.

So the talks began.  And since the story above is from a week or so back, here’s the results…

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran on Monday of not being serious at weekend talks about its disputed nuclear program despite the presence of a senior U.S. diplomat, and warned it may soon face new sanctions.

In her first public comments since Saturday’s meeting in Switzerland, Rice said Iran had given the run-around to envoys from the U.S. and five other world powers. She said all six nations were serious about a two-week deadline Iran now has to agree to freeze suspect activities and start negotiations or be hit with new penalties.

Rice was briefed on the meeting by the State Department’s No. 3 diplomat, Undersecretary of State William Burns, who attended the session in a shift from Washington’s previous insistence that it would not meet with the Iranians unless enrichment of uranium had stopped.

[full article]

So there was little progress on this go round.  That is understandable, since now positions are being re-trenched.  There are also limits to the punitive actions that can be taken, which complicates the options for the Six Allies.

Meanwhile, world oil prices rose above $130 a barrel in part on concerns that the threat of new sanctions against Iran may escalate tensions in the Middle East.

At Saturday’s meeting, Iran had been expected to respond to a package of incentives offered in exchange for halting enrichment of uranium, which can be used to fuel atomic weapons. The Bush administration broke with long-standing policy to send a top diplomat to support the offer.

However, Rice said that instead of a coherent answer, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili delivered a “meandering” monologue full of irrelevant “small talk about culture” that appeared to annoy many of the others present at the table in Geneva.

And so the haggling begins. The next round should be in two weeks or so…

“We will see what Iran does in two weeks, but I think the diplomatic process now has a new kind of energy to it,” she said. “If they do not decide to suspend then we will be in a situation where we have to return to the Security Council.”

High-level contact between the United States and Iran is extremely rare and Burns’ presence at the talks may have confused the Iranians, Rice said, acknowledging a tactical change to demonstrate U.S. unity with the other five powers: Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

“From time to time, it is important to invigorate the diplomacy,” she said. “I think that the fact that we went may have been a bit surprising to the Iranians, and they didn’t react in a way that gave anyone any confidence.”

Hey, at least we’re talking.  It’s a fair sight better than shooting.