The Skunk and Tiger

"Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge."-Horace Mann

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Obama's letter to Pentagon

November 14, 2007

The Honorable Robert Gates

Secretary of Defense

Department of Defense

The Pentagon Washington, DC 20310-1400

Dear Secretary Gates:

I am writing to ask that you make clear to Congress and the public how past performance of private security contractors will impact new contract bids by those contractors. This question has taken an added significance given press reports that the Department of Defense is considering Blackwater USA for new contracts just as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is finalizing its report on the September 16 incident in which Blackwater security personnel killed 17 Iraqis.

Press reports indicate Blackwater is one of five military contractors competing for up to $15 billion in contracts over five years to support the Department’s counter-narcotics operations. At the same time, there is an ongoing FBI and Department of Justice investigation into the September 16 incident. According to today’s news reports, the FBI has found that at least 14 of the shootings by Blackwater personnel were unjustified and violated rules issued to security contractors in Iraq for the use of deadly force.

Although these investigations are still underway, it is important to understand the ramifications of the investigation for your department’s plans to award new contracts. Accordingly, I ask that you respond to the following questions:

What role does the past performance of a government contractor play in determining whether the company will secure a new contract? Is there a difference between a contractor potentially engaging in criminal conduct, as opposed to some other type of misconduct?

Does the Department provide any guidance or training to its contracting officers on how to evaluate a contractor’s past performance in whether to award a new contract to the same company? If so, please provide copies of any guidance or training materials.

Specifically, how will the ongoing FBI and Justice Department investigation of the September 16 incident affect the Defense Department’s consideration of Blackwater for new contracts?

The American people deserve to know that their taxpayer dollars are not awarded to companies that may have engaged in criminal conduct and may have jeopardized our military’s efforts to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end.

I look forward to your prompt responses to these questions. Thank you.


Barack Obama

United States Senator

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Former pilots and officials call for new U.S. UFO probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich may have been ridiculed for saying he had seen a UFO, but for some former military pilots and other observers, unidentified flying objects are no laughing matter.

An international panel of two dozen former pilots and government officials called on the U.S. government on Monday to reopen its generation-old UFO investigation as a matter of safety and security given continuing reports about flying discs, glowing spheres and other strange sightings.

"Especially after the attacks of 9/11, it is no longer satisfactory to ignore radar returns ... which cannot be associated with performances of existing aircraft and helicopters," they said in a statement released at a news conference.

The panelists from seven countries, including former senior military officers, said they had each seen a UFO or conducted an official investigation into UFO phenomena.

The subject of UFOs grabbed the spotlight in the U.S. presidential race last month when Kucinich, a member of Congress from Ohio, said during a televised debate with other Democratic candidates that he had seen one.

Former presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter are both reported to have claimed UFO sightings.

Most turn out to be misidentified aircraft, satellites or meteors. A panelist who once worked for Britain's Ministry of Defense said 5 percent of incidents cannot be explained.

But the sightings are often dismissed by authorities without proper investigations, UFO activists say.

"It's a question of who you going to believe: your lying eyes or the government?" remarked John Callahan, a former Federal Aviation Administration investigator, who said the CIA in 1987 tried to hush up the sighting of a huge lighted ball four times the size of a jumbo jet in Alaska.

The panel, organized by a group dedicated to winning credibility for the study of UFOs, urged Washington to resume UFO investigations through the U.S. Air Force or NASA.

"It would certainly, I think, take a lot of angst out of this issue," said former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, who said he was among hundreds who saw a delta-shaped craft with enormous lights silently traverse the sky near Phoenix in 1997.

The Air Force investigated 12,618 UFO reports from 1947 to 1969 in what was known as Project Blue Book. Investigators concluded that the incidents posed no threat and there was no evidence of space aliens or a super technology in operation.

"Since the termination of Project Blue Book, nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations," the Air Force said on its Web site.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Joanne Kenen, David Alexander, Stuart Grudgings)

..I am a skeptic but I love the whole UFO phenomenon anyway. I miss Coast to Coast. Art Bell's old late-night radio program provides great UFO/Conpiracy theories. I hope it comes to Sirius even if it is owned by Clear Channel.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Baby Update 2

This is most likely the last ultrasound before she arrives sometime late next month. We are so excited but have much to do before she gets here. I have not been blogging much, I have been busy with various projects and reading whenever I get a chance.

A friend of mine got me into George R.R. Martin's "Fire and Ice" books. I am on the second book which is is much more fast paced.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Monster, Giraffe & Dragon