DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Obama’s Dangerous Asia “Pivot”

By Conn Hallinan
Friday December 23, 2011 - 01:08:00 PM

“On his recent trip to Asia Pacific, the President made it clear that the centerpiece of this strategy includes an intensified American role in this vital region,” Financial Times Nov. 28, 2011 —Tom Donilon, President Barak Obama’s national security advisor -more-


By Joe Eaton
Friday December 23, 2011 - 02:21:00 PM
Young male Townsend's warbler, a suet fancier.

We’ve been getting a lot of traffic and a rewarding variety of species at the bird feeders this fall. Or maybe it’s just the observer effect, influenced by the late onset of the rains. In any case, it’s been a good opportunity to watch bird behavior up close while waiting for the drier cycle to finish. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: A Christmas Carol for 2011

By Bob Burnett
Friday December 23, 2011 - 12:40:00 PM

It’s been 168 years since Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol to illustrate the horrific living conditions of the English poor and promote the true nature of Christmas. If Dickens were still alive, he’d be compelled to update his tale. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Getting there’s half the fun…

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday December 23, 2011 - 12:58:00 PM

Some states license older drivers but apply restrictions. Restriction numero uno on senior drivers is vision-related. It usually requires the driver to wear glasses or corrective contact lenses. Other common restrictions include using adequate support to ensure a proper driving position, no freeway driving, no driving without a right side mirror, no nighttime driving. A time of day restriction such as no driving during rush hour traffic is also possible. Only Illinois requires senior drivers to take a road test regularly. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Gingrich, The Times & Doomsday

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday December 13, 2011 - 08:23:00 AM

In a recent New York Times article the newspaper’s senior science writer, William J. Broad, takes a dig at Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s obsession with the possibility of a “nightmarish of doomsday scenarios: a nuclear blast high above the United States that would instantly throw the United States in a dark age.”

The phenomenon that Gingrich refers to is an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), one side effect of a nuclear explosion. EMPs can destroy or disrupt virtually anything electrical, from computers to power grids. As the Times points out, Gingrich has used this potential threat to advocate bombing Iran and North Korea. “I favor taking out the Iranian and North Korean missiles on their sites,” he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2009. Gingrich has also talked up the EMP “threat” on the campaign trail.

Broad dismisses EMPs as “a poorly understood phenomenon of the nuclear age” and quotes Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner poo-pooing the damage from an EMP attack as “pretty theoretical.”

While the Times is correct in dismissing any Iranian or North Korean threat—neither country has missiles capable of reaching the U.S., Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons, and both have never demonstrated a desire to commit national suicide—what Broad does not mention is that the effects of EMP are hardly “poorly understood”: the U.S. has an “E-bomb” in its arsenal. -more-