Two deploying soldiers and a concerned mother reported Friday afternoon that the U.S. Army appears to be singling out soldiers who have purchased Pinnacle’s Dragon Skin Body Armor for special treatment. The soldiers, who are currently staging for combat operations from a secret location, reported that their commander told them if they were wearing Pinnacle Dragon Skin and were killed their beneficiaries might not receive the death benefits from their $400,000 SGLI life insurance policies. The soldiers were ordered to leave their privately purchased body armor at home or face the possibility of both losing their life insurance benefit and facing disciplinary action.
On Saturday morning a soldier affected by the order reported to DefenseWatch that the directive specified that “all” commercially available body armor was prohibited.
It’s pretty well understood among active service personnel that the Interceptor and Second Chance body armor issued by the Pentagon for our soldiers is sorely lacking. These soldiers are the ultimate “motivated consumers” when it comes to wanting a product that works well in real-life situations. Throughout the literature, one can find many reports of the operational superiority of Dragon Skin over the government-issue Interceptor and Second Chance armors. This article in Defense Review, and this transcript of a PBS story are just two examples; a quick Googling of “dragon skin body armor” will pick up more.
Those inside the defense community closest to the soldiers on the ground have been talking for some time about alternatives to the woefully inadequate armor supplied to our troops. This article posted on NavySEALS.com says, regarding the standard-issue Interceptor armor that has proven defective,
As good as Interceptor armor is, numerous experts concluded, it is far less capable than another product sold on the open market.
- meaning, Dragon Skin.
What are some of the problems with Interceptor? Well, for starters,
The so-called SAPI (Small Arms Protective Inserts) used in the Interceptor system are too fragile and incur about a 60% loss/replacement rate in the field because the design is inherently brittle and fractures when dropped or slammed into solid objects such as the ground.
“Solid objects such as the ground”???? Well, thank goodness soldiers would never come into contact with a solid object such as the ground.
Here’s a graph of the stock performance of Armor Holdings, Inc., the company that has the exclusive contract to supply body armor to the Army and Marines (NYSE trading symbol: AH), over the past three years, since the start of the Iraq war:
Not bad, huh?
Now, if you had to hazard a guess as to who owns almost 6% of the shares of Armor Holdings, Inc. – shares with a current market value of $88,000,000.00 – who would you guess? Maayybeeee – a company owned by a top Republican campaign donor?
- In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.
But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.
F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans’ international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans’ privacy.
President Bush has characterized the eavesdropping program as a “vital tool” against terrorism; Vice President Dick Cheney has said it has saved “thousands of lives.”
But the results of the program look very different to some officials charged with tracking terrorism in the United States. More than a dozen current and former law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, including some in the small circle who knew of the secret program and how it played out at the F.B.I., said the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive.
“We’d chase a number, find it’s a schoolteacher with no indication they’ve ever been involved in international terrorism – case closed,” said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. “After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration.”
It is the time of year when students are taught about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, so passionately delivered that his call for freedom changed U.S. history. Once heard, it is impossible to forget.
But many students won’t get to hear it — and most who do will hear only snippets, educators and historians said. And that, they said, is affecting the legacy of the preeminent civil rights leader, whose life will be honored tomorrow with an annual federal holiday.
The reason? Copyright.
What kind of cloud is this?
A roll cloud.
These rare long clouds may form near advancing cold fronts. In particular, a downdraft from an advancing storm front can cause moist warm air to rise, cool below its dew point, and so form a cloud. When this happens uniformly along an extended front, a roll cloud may form. Roll clouds may actually have air circulating along the long horizontal axis of the cloud. A roll cloud is not thought to be able to morph into a tornado. Unlike a similar shelf cloud, a roll cloud is completely detached from their parent cumulonimbus cloud. Pictured above, a roll cloud extends far into the distance in the summer of 2005 above Albany, Missouri, USA.
A U.K. judge has questioned whether software patents should be granted, and has criticized the U.S. for allowing “anything under the sun” to be patented.
Sir Robin Jacob, a judge at the U.K.’s Court of Appeal who specializes in intellectual-property law, spoke about the potential problems surrounding software patents at a seminar for the Society for Computers and Law on Thursday evening in London.
“Do we need patents for computer programs? Where is the evidence for it?” Jacob asked.
“The United States takes the view that anything made by man, under the sun, can be patented. And they have granted patents for business methods, mainly computer business methods. But as far as I can see, it would cover a new and improved method of stacking oranges on a barrel,” Jacob said.
“It’s been said that (searching for prior art) is all going to be sorted out and will be very easy in due course–I don’t believe it,” he said. “And some of the fuzzy patents that have emerged from the United States tell you that it’s going to be very difficult to stop very ordinary things from being patented.”
A UK consumer watchdog has called for new laws to protect users’ rights to use digital music and movies.
The National Consumer Council (NCC) said anti-piracy efforts were eroding established rights to digital media.
The NCC had little faith that industry self-regulation would adequately protect consumers’ rights.
In its statement to the inquiry it said the digital locks put on content were “constraining the legitimate consumer use of digital content”.
Also being undermined were rights established by consumer protection and data protection laws, it said.
“Consumers face security risks to their equipment, limitations on their use of products, poor information when purchasing products and unfair contract terms,” said Jill Johnstone, the NCC’s director of policy.
In Martin Luther King Day address, Gore compares wiretapping of Americans to surveillance of King
In spite of our ( Congressman Rep. Bob Barr and I) differences over ideology and politics, we are in strong agreement that the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.
As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.
It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.
So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.
It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.
On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.
The FBI privately called King the “most dangerous and effective negro leader in the country” and vowed to “take him off his pedestal.” The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide.
This campaign continued until Dr. King’s murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn the most intimate details of Dr. King’s life, helped to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping.
The result was the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted expressly to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would be presented to an impartial judge to verify that there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance. I voted for that law during my first term in Congress and for almost thirty years the system has proven a workable and valued means of according a level of protection for private citizens, while permitting foreign surveillance to continue.
Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on “large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States.” The New York Times reported that the President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping program “without search warrants or any new laws that would permit such domestic intelligence collection.”
During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.
But surprisingly, the President’s soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.
At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA’s domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.
Another example of fine rhetoric, read the full text here….
The Earth is about to catch a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years
The climate centres around the world, which are the equivalent of the pathology lab of a hospital, have reported the Earth’s physical condition, and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years. I have to tell you, as members of the Earth’s family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilisation are in grave danger.
Our planet has kept itself healthy and fit for life, just like an animal does, for most of the more than three billion years of its existence. It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma. She has been there before and recovered, but it took more than 100,000 years. We are responsible and will suffer the consequences: as the century progresses, the temperature will rise 8 degrees centigrade in temperate regions and 5 degrees in the tropics.
Much of the tropical land mass will become scrub and desert, and will no longer serve for regulation; this adds to the 40 per cent of the Earth’s surface we have depleted to feed ourselves.
Curiously, aerosol pollution of the northern hemisphere reduces global warming by reflecting sunlight back to space. This “global dimming” is transient and could disappear in a few days like the smoke that it is, leaving us fully exposed to the heat of the global greenhouse. We are in a fool’s climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.
By failing to see that the Earth regulates its climate and composition, we have blundered into trying to do it ourselves, acting as if we were in charge. By doing this, we condemn ourselves to the worst form of slavery. If we chose to be the stewards of the Earth, then we are responsible for keeping the atmosphere, the ocean and the land surface right for life. A task we would soon find impossible – and something before we treated Gaia so badly, she had freely done for us.
To understand how impossible it is, think about how you would regulate your own temperature or the composition of your blood. Those with failing kidneys know the never-ending daily difficulty of adjusting water, salt and protein intake. The technological fix of dialysis helps, but is no replacement for living healthy kidneys.
My new book The Revenge of Gaia expands these thoughts, but you still may ask why science took so long to recognise the true nature of the Earth. I think it is because Darwin’s vision was so good and clear that it has taken until now to digest it. In his time, little was known about the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans, and there would have been little reason for him to wonder if organisms changed their environment as well as adapting to it.
Had it been known then that life and the environment are closely coupled, Darwin would have seen that evolution involved not just the organisms, but the whole planetary surface. We might then have looked upon the Earth as if it were alive, and known that we cannot pollute the air or use the Earth’s skin – its forest and ocean ecosystems – as a mere source of products to feed ourselves and furnish our homes. We would have felt instinctively that those ecosystems must be left untouched because they were part of the living Earth.
So what should we do? First, we have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realise how little time is left to act; and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilisation for as long as they can.