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Topics I've Started

Jonathan Pollard

01 April 2014 - 10:55 AM

On 21 November 1985 Jonathan Pollard, an intelligence analyst with the Navy Ocean Surveillance Information Center, was arrested on espionage charges by the FBI as he left the Israeli embassy in Washington DC.

Pollard plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government and was sentenced to life in prison. Because of his plea and the sensitive national security issues involved the full extent of his activities have not been revealed.

At the very least he is believed to have supplied American information on Arab and Middle Eastern countries to the Israelis as he has admitted as much. At the worst he is believed to have attempted to sell American information to both Pakistan and South Africa.

Pollard is a Jewish-American born in Galveston. In 1995 the Israeli Government officially granted him citizenship and in 2002 former (and now current) Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu visited Pollard in a Federal Prison.

His imprisonment remains a sore spot in American-Israeli relations with many Israelis clamoring for his release and many Americans opposing it.

The Israeli case for clemency

Public support in Israel for Pollard's release seems high and the website www.jonathanpollard.org says that: "Jonathan Pollard was a civilian American Naval intelligence analyst. In the mid 1980's (circa 1983-1984), Pollard discovered that information vital to Israel's security was being deliberately withheld by certain elements within the U.S. national security establishment. Israel was legally entitled to this vital security information."

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The American Opposition

Opposition to Pollard's release is still strong in the Defense and Intelligence arenas. Since his imprisonment seven Secretaries of Defense and four Directors of Naval Intelligence have spoken out publicly opposing his release.

There remains a strong contingent of Jewish Americans who also oppose his release. Rear Admiral Sumner Shapiro, himself Jewish, said on Pollard: "We work so hard to establish ourselves and to get where we are, and to have somebody screw it up . . . and then to have Jewish organizations line up behind this guy and try to make him out a hero of the Jewish people, it bothers the hell out of me," LINK

Martin Peretz, a Jewish American and former owner of the New Republic said: "Jonathan Pollard is not a Jewish martyr. He is a convicted espionage agent who spied on his country for both Israel and Pakistan – a spy, moreover, who got paid for his work. His professional career, then, reeks of infamy and is suffused with depravity" and that Pollard's supporters are "professional victims, mostly brutal themselves, who originate in the ultra-nationalist and religious right. They are insatiable. And they want America to be Israel's patsy." LINK

All of this has been simmering just below the diplomatic surface for decades only appearing at particularly tense times but it is on the scene once again with our Government and Israel reportedly close to a deal on clemency and Pollard's release, apparently in the near future.

What do you think should happen to Pollard?

An insight into Russian Geopolitical Strategy

21 March 2014 - 08:00 PM

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I stumbled across this book the other day, The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia by Aleksandr Dugin, a professor at Moscow State University, which is apparently part of the curriculum at the Russian Military's General Staff Academy. I can't find an English translation of it or find any evidence of its influence (which is reported to be large) on Russian decision makers but you all can read the Wikipedia article about it and take from it what you will.

It basically outlines a strategy for a post-Soviet Russia to increase its influence in the world at the expense of just about everyone but especially us. The ultimate goal seems to be the establishment of a large Russian dominated Eurasian union, here are the basics (shamelessly copied from wiki):


In Europe:

- Germany should be offered the de facto political dominance over most Protestant and Catholic states located within Central and Eastern Europe. Kaliningrad oblast could be given back to Germany. The book uses the term a "Moscow-Berlin axis".

- France should be encouraged to form a "Franco-German bloc" with Germany. Both countries have a "firm anti-Atlanticist tradition".

- The United Kingdom should be cut off from Europe.

- Finland should be absorbed into Russia. Southern Finland will be combined with the Republic of Karelia and northern Finland will be "donated to Murmansk Oblast".

- Estonia should be given to Germany's sphere of influence.

- Latvia and Lithuania should be given a "special status" in the Eurasian-Russian sphere.

- Poland should be granted a "special status" in the Eurasian sphere.

- Romania, Macedonia, "Serbian Bosnia" and Greece - "orthodox collectivist East" - will unite with the "Moscow the Third Rome" and reject the "rational-individualistic West".

- Ukraine should be annexed by Russia because "Ukraine as an independent state with certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia and, without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics". Ukraine should not be allowed to remain independent, unless it is cordon sanitaire, which would be inadmissible.

In the Middle East and Central Asia:

- The book stresses the "continental Russian-Islamic alliance" which lies "at the foundation of anti-Atlanticist strategy". The alliance is based on the "traditional character of Russian and Islamic civilization".

- Iran is a key ally. The book uses the term "Moscow-Tehran axis".

- Armenia has a special role and will serve as a "strategic base" and it is necessary to create "the [subsidiary] axis Moscow-Erevan-Teheran". Armenians "are an Aryan people ... [like] the Iranians and the Kurds".

- Azerbaijan could be "split up" or given to Iran.

- Georgia should be dismembered. Abkhazia and "United Ossetia" (which includes Georgia's South Ossetia) will be incorporated into Russia. Georgia's independent policies are unacceptable.

- Russia needs to create "geopolitical shocks" within Turkey. These can be achieved by employing Kurds, Armenians and other minorities.

The book regards the Caucasus as a Russian territory, including "the eastern and northern shores of the Caspian (the territories of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan)" and Central Asia (mentioning Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirghistan and Tajikistan).

In Asia:

- China, which represents a danger to Russia, "must, to the maximum degree possible, be dismantled".Russia should offer China help "in a southern direction – Indochina (except Vietnam), the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia".

- Russia should manipulate Japanese politics by offering the Kuril Islands to Japan and provoking anti-Americanism.

- Mongolia should be absorbed into Eurasia-Russia.

The book emphasizes that Russia must spread Anti-Americanism everywhere: "the main ‘scapegoat’ will be precisely the U.S."

In the United States:

- Russia should use its special forces within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism. For instance, provoke "Afro-American racists". Russia should "introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.

I highlighted items in red where I think we can see Russia pursuing the strategy.

I won't pretend to be knowledgeable on domestic Russian affairs but Dugin does seem to have some kind of a following. They appear, at first glance, to be fascists and openly reject what they call "liberalism". It's difficult to tell if leaders really subscribe to his thinking but they are at the very least fellow travelers and sympathetic in some way, Putin's recent statements and his approach to Ukraine seem to indicate he agrees with Dugin at least some level. Personally, I find the rise of Russian fascism and ultra-nationalism disturbing.

You can spot Dugin's followers by their use of that black flag with all the arrows, it represents his "International Eurasian Movement".

Marching in Russia:

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In Serbia

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In Syria at a pro-Assad rally. This is interesting because it would seem to hint that maybe the Russian Government in someway does support the movement given their strong ties to Assad.

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In South Ossetia (disputable autonomous region of Georgia):

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In the arctic:

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Dugin isn't alone in his thinking. Some of you may remember Igor Panarin, another Russian college professor, who predicted the collapse of the US by 2010. This is how he thought it would pan out:

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So he was obviously wrong about that but he, like Dugin, advocated the establishment of a "Eurasian Union" which we see Russia taking steps to create.

Like I said, I have no idea how big these ideas are in Russia, if these guys are popular or they're just seen as extremist loons, but from the outside looking in it does seem to explain a lot about their foreign policy. I'm no expert and most of my sources are crap but it's still interesting. So um... discuss I guess.

Athlon ranks all 128 CFB HC jobs

12 March 2014 - 12:53 PM


Top 30, Big Ten and teams of interest to Nebraska:

1. Texas
2. Florida
3. Alabama
4. Southern Cal
5. Ohio State
6. Oklahoma
7. Notre Dame
8. Georgia
9. LSU
10. Michigan
11. Florida State
12. Oregon
13. Texas A&M
14. Penn State (sanctions not considered)
15. Auburn
16. Tennessee
17. Nebraska
18. UCLA
19. South Carolina
20. Clemson
21. Miami
22. Oklahoma State
23. Washington
24. Wisconsin
25. Arkansas
26. Michigan State
27. Virginia Tech
28. North Carolina
29. Louisville
30. Ole Miss
31. Missouri
32. Iowa
34. Baylor
40. Maryland
41. Texas Tech
50. Rutgers
52. Illinois
53. Colorado
56. Minnesota
57. Purdue
59. Northwestern
61. Kansas State
64. Iowa State
68. Kansas
69. Indiana

Big 10 Bubble Watch

16 February 2014 - 05:35 PM

Why not start early. Who's in? Who's out? Who's on the edge?

Pomeroy as of 2230 19FEB2014 LINK

6. Iowa
12. Wisconsin
13. Ohio State
16. Michigan
18. Michigan State
36. Minnesota
61. Nebraska
73. Indiana
93. Illinois
94. Purdue
95. Penn State
118. Northwestern

ESPN BPI as of 2230 19FEB2014 LINK

9. Iowa
14. Wisconsin
15. Michigan State
18. Ohio State
26. Michigan
42. Minnesota
69. Indiana
71. Nebraska
76. Illinois
79. Penn State
90. Purdue
121. Northwestern

RPI as of 2230 19FEB2014LINK

6. Wisconsin (.6571)
13. Michigan State (.6315)
14. Ohio State (.6311)
20. Michigan (.6202)
46. Minnesota (.5863)
48. Iowa (.5850)
52. Nebraska (.5799)
87. Illinois (.5438)
97. Indiana (.5376)
103. Northwestern (.5337)
108. Penn St (.5292)
124. Purdue (.5229)

SOS as of 2230 19FEB2014 LINK

2. Wisconsin
4. Ohio State
10. Michigan
19. Michigan State
22. Minnesota
25. Nebraska
27. Northwestern
54. Illinois
65. Penn State
71. Indiana
93. Iowa
127. Purdue

ESPN's Bubble Watch as of 18FEB2014 LINK

LOCKS: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan
SHOULD BE IN: Ohio State, Iowa
WORK LEFT TO DO: Minnesota, Nebraska

The great Hurry Up No Huddle (HUNH) rule change debate

14 February 2014 - 10:00 AM


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HUNH Guru and Auburn HC Gus Malzahn whispers comforting words in the ear of Alabama DC Kirby Smart

Earlier this week Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas Coach Bert Bielema voiced their concerns on player safety and HUNH style offenses to the NCAA Football Rules Committee. Wednesday, the committee responded to their concerns by proposing a new rule that would prohibit offenses from snapping the ball until 29 seconds or fewer remained on the play clock. The rule would not apply to spiking the ball to stop the clock or on drives with less than two minutes left in the game. LINK

Air Force HC and chairman of the committee Troy Calhoun said "This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute." The committee has one other Head Coach for a member, Louisiana Lafayette HC Todd Berry. Both coaches are relative offensive sloths: Berry's Cajuns were 93rd in the country when it comes to plays per game with roughly 70 while Calhoun's Falcons were 104th in the country and ran 67.7 plays per game. LINK

The proposed rule change will be voted on by the NCAA oversight committee on March 6th.

Other coaches have since commented on the proposal:

Auburn HC Gus Malzahn: "When I first heard that, to be honest with you, I thought it was a joke. As far as healthy or safety issues, that's like saying the defense shouldn't blitz after a first down because they're a little fatigued and there's liable to be a big collision in the backfield."

Mississippi HC Hugh Freeze: "'Y'all are kidding me, That's not true?'"

Washington State HC Mike Leach: ""First off, doubt it will pass. Second, it's ridiculous. All this tinkering is ridiculous. I think it deteriorates the game. It's always been a game of creativity and strategy. So anytime someone doesn't want to go back to drawing board or re-work their solutions to problems, they beg for a rule."

Oklahoma State HC Mike Gundy (via twitter):
"The no huddle, fast tempo style has changed the game of CFB. Our sport has exploded in popularity with high scoring games & packed stadiums."

"College Football is constantly evolving. Coaches have to make adjustments based on their team, their talents and their opponents."

"The 10-second rule is like asking basketball to take away the shot clock - Boring!. It’s like asking a blitzing linebacker to raise his hand"

"Why change our sport at the peak of its popularity"

Rogers Redding, NCAA National Coordinator on Officiating weighed in by saying: "One could argue tempo is safety-related since it makes the game quicker and runs more plays. But I think the issue would be -- and one of the things the committee is always interested in -- is what's the balance between offense and defense?" but when Redding was asked whether this was really an issue of player safety and if players were at risk when playing in, or against, the HUNH he said "I think it's fair to say there's not really much hard data on this." LINK

Redding's admission raises an interesting question: Is the HUNH really that hazardous to player safety?

Randy Cohen, Chairman of the college committee of the National Athletic Trainers' Association said, "If you want to do it for a competitive advantage, then come out and say you're doing it for a competitive advantage. Don't say it's a safety issue because right now we don't have any data about this. None."

Dr. Jeffrey Dugas, Troy University's team physician and a sports medicine surgeon said, "That's a stretch, I find it hard to believe they're really hanging this rule on injury prevention. There's no question a hurry-up offense is going to fatigue a defense. If this is all being hung on fatiguing a defense and injury risk goes up, that's fine if there's data that supports the case."


So are Bielema and Saban actually concerned for player safety or does this have to do with how they stack up in SEC play?:

SEC Teams by average plays per game in the 2014 Season

#21 :Ole Miss (79.8)
#43: Missouri
#52: Georgia
#57: Miss State
#61: A&M
#62: Auburn
#73: SCAR
#87: Vandy
#98: Florida
#103: Tennessee
#105: ULSU
#113: Kentucky
#116: Alabama
#121: Arkansas (64.7)

A second question is, assuming that the HUNH does pose a unique threat to player safety and therefore deserves a mitigating rule change, will the "29 second" rule actually protect players?...how many HUNH teams actually snap the ball with more than 29 seconds on the clock? Not many. In the 2014 BCS NCG Auburn did it....once.

So what do you think? Are Bielema and Saban's positions driven by an altruistic interest in player safety or self preservation? Is the rule change warranted?