Uh, Really?

Wired’s Danger Room has an interview with a Somali shipping pirate.

Who sounds oddly like a Silicon Valley startup executive. These are all quotes from the pirate:

“Once you have a ship, it’s a win-win situation.”

“Hostages – especially Westerners – are our only assets, so we try our best to avoid killing them.”

“A single mission with 12 armed men and boats costs a little over $30,000. But a successful investor has to dispatch at least three or four missions to get lucky once.”

And my favorite:

“The financiers are the most important since they organize and plan the big shot operations and are able to pay running cost[s]. Financiers always need to forge deals with traders, land cruiser owners, translators, business people to keep the supplies flowing during operations and manage the logistics. There is a long supply chain involved in every hijacking.

…and as soon as we learn to automate and optimize it, we’ll attain unheard-of efficiencies in pirate management!!

I’m not saying that the interview is completely bogus – but this just sets off my BS detector. I’d love to actually hear the tape.

And as a blue-water sailor, there was one thing that rang kind of false as well:

“Beyond that, in my case deploy a boat with six men to get close to the ship and leave another in reserve near the coast just in case we need backup. We use sophisticated equipment that allows us to spot our targets from a distance. We always have to be close to the main sea lane and keep in touch with each other using talkie phones.”

So the sea lanes off Somalia are about 4 – 6 degrees latitude from the coast – so figure they are 240 – 360 miles from shore.

Unless he means the backup boats lurk like 200 miles off the coast – a broad definition of ‘near the coast’ – the time to get backup in place to catch a 15 – 20kt ship with a 25kt power launch from 100 miles away is on the order of 15 – 18 hours. Some backup…

A LEO’s View Of l’affaire Gates

Posted on behalf of a LEO who chooses to remain anonymous…

From Wikipedia:

“Discrimination toward or against a person of a certain group is the treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit. Discrimination is always a behavior that promotes a certain group at the expense of another”

Change is hard. It’s as hard to accept as it is to achieve. Well folks, times have changed and it is time to embrace it and move forward.

The incident in Cambridge involving Professor Gates is a perfect example of a man’s cultural heritage ruling his response to what should have been a harmless incident that began with nothing but the best of intentions. It’s a shame that adversarial racial politics are still sexier than common sense and reality. It’s even sadder that discrimination is considered reasonable, but only if it comes from a historically oppressed source.

The stereotype of a predominately white police force made up of blue collar, barely educated war veterans from the Viet Nam era is a thing of the past. For one thing, those guys are all old and retired (no offense to old retired cops here, of course.) The most senior sergeant at my police department was hired almost 20 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The average officer on the street was hired over 30 years after that historic moment.

I work for a state police department that patrols a major university and the surrounding city streets. It’s a unique environment and we are well trained to deal with it. Far from an occupying army, we are members of the community we serve.

Our officers are black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Philipino, gay, Jewish, you name it he or she is our brother or sister in crime fighting. Most of our officers are college graduates, some with post-graduate degrees, many are alumni. Only one of every one hundred applicants makes it all the way through the screening and training process to become a full fledged police office working the streets.

We are governed by a state standard that includes ongoing training in avoiding historically common forms of bias in the way we perform our job within our human limitations, for we are of course human, just like you. We are required by both law and policy to be fair and reasonable in our approach to the situations we encounter. We are expected to have a thicker skin than most and turn the other cheek to those who are abusive to us, within reason and until we feel physically threatened. We are still human. Just like you. Words can still hurt, but we are trained to control our reactions.

In Cambridge, Professor Gates seems to have assumed that Sergeant Crowley had an agenda. He was right. Sergeant Crowley was planning to catch a burglar breaking into a house. That was his agenda. And upon his arrival he encountered a man fitting the suspect description, who yelled at him and refused to cooperate with his requests for identification. Instead, the professor started hurling insults. Racist insults. You see the professor’s insults were based on his perception of Sergeant Crowley. A perception that was based on Sergeant Crowley’s profession and his skin color.

The politically correct will say that isn’t fair. They will say that Professor Gates reaction was a result of historical oppression and discrimination. His behavior will be excused because of his race and history. Even by the President of the United States. Forget that he is a highly regarded and honored scholar with the benefit of the best education available in this country. Forget that a man of his stature should be expected to behave like a mature adult who shows the patience and respect towards others that he clearly expects from others. Forget that an educated man and renowned teacher and author should be able to grasp that police officers responding to a burglary in progress are going to look for the suspect as described by the caller and for their own safety, will be reasonably suspicious of the person they encounter who fits that description. The situation will escalate if that person seems highly reactive and volatile upon contact.

Sergeant Crowley on the other hand will be held by many to a super human standard. Forget that he was called to the residence by a witness. Forget that he encountered the actual person described in the call. Forget that the person refused to cooperate and instead shouted at him and began hurling those racially based insults. Forget that Sergeant Crowley team teaches a class for recruits on how to avoid racial profiling, along with an African American colleague. Or that he was hand picked for that role by Cambridge’s black Police Commissioner. Or that he volunteers as a youth coach and is a decorated officer. Forget that many officers would have proned him out at gunpoint before asking for identification. He will be vilified in many forums as a racist. Sergeant Crowley will be treated as a lower class citizen that is assumed to have erred due to his skin color and profession.

Is it just me or is the irony getting kind of thick in here?

40 Years Later

Today is the 40th anniversary of man’s first landing on another celestial body. Could we do it again today? I wonder…

I attend meetings of The Luncheon Society, a group organized by tireless banker Bob McBarton.

At a recent, meeting Steven Squyres and John Callas – Principal Investigator and Project Manager for the Mars Rovers – spoke (this was before Spirit got stuck) about the status and findings of the rovers, and what they envisioned as the next acts in planetary exploration.

He was asked what he’d do with enough money and how long it would take to put a human on Mars.

After he replied, I challenged him. The US space program in the 50’s and 60’s was based on the missile programs of the 50’s which were in turn based on the aircraft programs of the 40’s and WW II. We grew a crop of engineers and mechanics who first built airplanes, and then went on to build more-sophisticated airplanes and nuclear missiles – and who directly transferred that core body of technique and knowledge up the food chain to the space program.

That doesn’t exist today. We’re outsourced it to Taiwan and China, and I worry – seriously – about what it would take to grow enough engineers to do the job.

I don’t recall the source of the quote, but a landowner talked to his gardener about having some trees to shade the property. The gardener said, “But sir – it will take 50 years for them to grow that big!”

The landowner replied “Then you’d better start planting them this morning.”

We need to start planting engineers in this country. So we can go back to the Moon, to Mars, beyond – and so we can build a smart grid, power plants, and all the other stuff we will need rebuild over the next 50 years.

That would be a fitting memorial to the people who built the things to allow men to walk on the moon.

Today In Iran

Check out the news…Rafsanjani criticizes the regime’s treatment of protesters, and demands that they regain the trust of the people.

We agreed that you will stop chanting. If we do not have the votes of the people behind us, we will have nothing. The guardian council, the expediency council, EVERYONE gets their legitimacy from the vote of the people.

In Which I Am Shocked – Shocked – To Be Supporting Peter Singer

So Peter Singer – whose past writings have been, to put it mildly, odious to me – has an oped in the NY Times that’s triggering a bit of reaction: ‘Why We Must Ration Health Care

The reactions are, overall, kinda scathing:

From Tammy Bruce (Please, Tammy – finger outside the triggerguard until the sights are on the target, OK?):

Obama moral relativist begin making fascist argument for rationing health care which is what this has been about from the beginning – eliminating “costs” from the budget. For fascists, people are the budget.

From Don Surber:

I have been saying that the Democratic Party does not want to save lives with their hideous, expensive and bureaucratic plan to take over health care.

The plan is to “save” money….

He is a sick, sick man. He puts money ahead of human life. He may be bio, but he has no ethics – or at least any that I would want to be associated with.

From Steve Gilbert at Sweetness and Light:

…it is worth going to the link and reading the full tract.

It is great nightmare fuel.

By the way, in case Mr. Singer’s name doesn’t strike a bell, he is that famed bioethicist who believes in sex with animals and abortion, euthanasia and infanticide for humans.

Maybe Mr. Obama will make him his Health Care Czar.

…and so on.

So I’m gonna go pretty far out on a limb here, and say that while I may or may not agree with his prescription, I think that his diagnosis is one that we can’t afford to avoid dealing with in some way.

Here’s a personal – and painful story. This is how my dad died.

My dad had never been in great health – he’d had a heart attack in his 40’s, been a three-pack-a-day smoker until then, and a pipe smoker afterward. He walked, which was his form of exercise, but it didn’t make a huge dent in the family genetics. His dad had died of a heart attack in his late 50’s, the year before I was born, and his brother had a heart attack in his 30’s. His brother died – of a stroke – in his early 60’s, and my cousin, writer Paula Danziger, died of a heart attack at 59.

You get the picture. (In case you’re concerned, I get a treadmill test every two years – I got to do a technicium one this year – and pass with flying colors each time. My BP was 120/80 when I was checked two weeks ago, and so I’m assuming I got my mom’s cardiovascular system instead of my dad’s.)

So my dad had his first bypass when he was 53 – three years younger than my age. He had another about ten years later, retired at 64, and at age 67 had a major stroke, followed by a mild heart attack and kidney failure.

He started permanent dialysis, and spent about eight years in relative stability, until he had another heart attack and needed yet another bypass. At this point he was too frail to live on his own, even with the ongoing two shifts of help that had burned through his savings, and I moved him to a board-and-care facility near my house so the boys and I could spend time with him.

Then he needed another bypass, and we had a long debate about whether to do it or not. To be honest, I pushed him toward doing it, because I felt that withholding treatment would have been immoral.

After that he had two decent years, and then he began a series of abdominal bleeds, which led to three emergency surgeries in seven months. Two months after the third surgery, he started bleeding slowly again, and I had a conference with his doctors.

They could keep operating, and he’d eventually die on the table, or painfully from abdominal bleeding. He was sedated for pain, and when we roused him, not coherent.

When he’d started dialysis, the nephrologist had told him that he could stop any time, and that dying from kidney failure was one of the most painless ways to die. He’d noted that and frequently talked about just stopping dialysis when things became too much for him. So I made the decision to discontinue his dialysis, and a day later he went into a coma and a day later he died.

The day I made that decision and called my aunt and mother and informed them was one of the worst days of my life; my own responsibility still sits heavily on my shoulder.

But I didn’t see any alternatives, and really still don’t. Adulthood is, I’ve come to believe, a matter of making choices between terrible alternatives and moving forward.

And now to the point of this exercise. When I was talking to my dad about his second bypass – at 75, three years before he died – we discussed how lucky we were that money didn’t enter into the equation; between medicare and retirement insurance benefits from his employer, his healthcare was essentially free. We both wondered if he would have had the third bypass if I had had to take money from my kids college funds for it.

And that’s really where the nub of the problem becomes.

Because in the last three years of my life, my dad’s medical bills (not his chronic care bills, but his bills for physicians and surgeons) probably was close to three quarters of a million dollars. Figure close to $250K for each bypass and postoperative care, $125K each for the three operations and postoperative care, and about $1K/month for medical visits, tests, etc. (not including dialysis). So $500K in surgery, $360K in overall medical care. In the last nine months – during all of which he was in postoperative acute care – we probably spent (or his insurers spent) $370K – to what end, exactly?

And so that’s the question we’re looking at in rationing and talking about health care. Because we’re only willing to spend so much on healthcare overall; but as long as it doesn’t cost me anything, I’m prepared to spend whatever it takes until there’s no further point.

And so there’s the rub. On one hand, I’d be blowing buildings up if some cubedwelling functionary told me I couldn’t get treatment for my dad. On the other, I have to ask – as cooly and dispassionately as I can – if the money I caused to be spent on him in those final months – even those final years – is money he or I would have spent if we’d had to write the checks.

And there’s the rub; we have a system which largely removes cost as a factor either because you’re in a protected class like my father, where there are no costs – or because the costs are so great that they don’t matter and they are an insurmountable barrier. There is no “this much and no more” in healthcare as it’s structured today.

Should there be? Thinking about my dad, I honestly don’t know. But we need to talk about it, and so I have to – grudgingly, holding my nose – tip my hat to Professor Singer.

Violating Your Privacy … But For A Good Cause

Work will settle down soon (it better) and I hope to get back to being a blogger (one post in the queue on how blogging has changed as it’s become professionalized and what that means to small fry amateurs like me).

But meanwhile, here’s something to occupy your time.

Lexus is going to give a car to someone who registers on a marketing site and gets the largest number of votes from other registrants (you don’t have to try for the car – you can just vote. And you can opt-out of them spamming you) – so go on over to the site and register, and then go to Captain Michael Valetta’s page and vote for him.

As he puts it in his ‘why me’ piece:

I fly Blackhawks for a living for the U.S. Army. Its a pretty sweet job, I admit, but not without its drawbacks including time in Iraq and Kuwait away from my family. My 1997 Toyota Camry with 126k miles is another unfortunate drawback. I’d sure love to leave next time knowing that my wife and our two kids are trouble-free and driving in luxury!

Go gettum…

Things That Make You Go “Hmmmm…”

Someone in the PR department at the NRDC or a sister organization is earning their keep…

From the NY Times, July 3:

Ten years have gone by since a modest but important moment in American environmental history: the dismantling of the 917-foot-wide Edwards Dam on Maine’s Kennebec River.

The Edwards Dam was the first privately owned hydroelectric dam torn down for environmental reasons (and against the owner’s wishes) by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Bruce Babbitt, the interior secretary at the time, showed up at the demolition ceremony to promote what had become a personal crusade against obsolete dams. The publicity generated a national discussion about dams and the potential environmental benefits – to water quality and fish species – of removing them.

It certainly helped the Kennebec and its fish, and dams have been falling ever since. According to American Rivers, an advocacy group and a major player in the Edwards Dam campaign, about 430 outdated dams (some of them small hydropower dams like Edwards) have been removed with both public and private funding. In one case, the removal of a small, 50-foot dam on Oregon’s Sandy River was paid for entirely by the electric utility that owned it in order to improve salmon runs.

More lies ahead. Three dams that have severely damaged salmon runs in Washington State are scheduled to come down in 2011. A tentative agreement has been reached among farmers, native tribes and a power company to remove dams on California’s Klamath River, the site of a huge fish kill several years ago attributed mainly to low water flows caused by dams.

From the LA Times, July 6:

Politicians and stakeholders have steadfastly resisted the painful solution of dam removal while hoping for a miracle. That hope turned out to be a one-way road on a dead-end street, and in many respects they’re now blaming the court for their current predicament. With few exceptions, the region’s politicians, past and current, have been challenging the recommendations of scientists (including dam removal and increasing the spills over the dams) for more than a decade. Former Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) famously vowed to chain himself to a dam rather than surrender, a prospect relished by many conservation groups.

Throughout this stalemate, fish counts have continued to fall, and the underlying science is clear: In river after river where dams have been removed, native fish populations have rebounded and thrived. As the government’s former chief aquatic biologist, Don Chapman, concluded, dam removal is the most effective strategy for saving endangered native fish stocks from extinction.

This was the conclusion reached by the Idaho Statesman newspaper back in 1997 after it conducted a yearlong study of the Snake River dams. The paper reported that the economic benefits of a healthy fishery — and the resultant tens of thousands of jobs — would swamp the benefits of leaving the dams in place.

Dozens of reports by natural resources economists have agreed. Among other things, they describe the dams as economic sinkholes, which produce less than 3% of the region’s power, do nothing for flood control, irrigate only a handful of big farms and subsidize transportation costs (at the expense of taxpayers and salmon) for wheat farmers in Idaho and eastern Washington.

Now preserving fish populations is damn important (sorry) and a good thing to be sure. And I have no doubt that the Army Corps of Engineers never met a river it didn;t want to damn. But hydropower is 3.4% of national energy production (Excel), and 63% of our renewable energy production. I’d love to know what percent of the national hydropower budget we’re talking about taking offline here…

Bacevich, JimHenley, Autarky^3

Because I am more attentive to things I’m paying attention to, this op-ed by Andrew Bacevich (of the “no peace dividend’ camp) caught my eye.

Titled ‘Obama’s strategic blind spot,’ he starts by suggesting that in focusing too much on the ‘how we win’ we’ve lost track of the ‘why we fight’…

A comparable failure of imagination besets present-day Washington. The Long War launched by George W. Bush in the wake of 9/11 has not gone well. Everyone understands that. Yet in the face of disappointment, what passes for advanced thinking recalls the Churchill who devised Gallipoli and godfathered the tank: In Washington and in the field, a preoccupation with tactics and operations have induced strategic blindness.

As President Obama shifts the main U.S. military effort from Iraq to Afghanistan, and as his commanders embrace counterinsurgency as the new American way of war, the big questions go not only unanswered but unasked. Does perpetuating the Long War make political or strategic sense? As we prepare to enter that war’s ninth year, are there no alternatives?

Pragmatists shy away from first-order questions — recall President George H. W. Bush’s aversion to what he called “the vision thing.” Obama is a pragmatist. Unlike his immediate predecessor, he inhabits a world where facts matter.

Yet pragmatism devoid of principle will perpetuate the strategic void that Obama inherited. The urgent need is for the administration to articulate a concrete set of organizing precepts — not simply cliches — to frame basic U.S. policy going forward.

He then goes on to suggest a set of strategic principles:

What should those principles be?

First, the Long War may be long, but it should not get any bigger. The regime-change approach — invade and occupy to transform — hasn’t worked; simply trying harder in some other venue (Somalia? Sudan?) won’t produce different results. In short, no more Iraqs.

Second, forget the Bush Doctrine of preventive war: no more wars of choice; henceforth only wars of necessity. The United States will use force only as a last resort and even then only when genuinely vital interests are at stake.

Third, no more crusades unless the American people buy in; expecting a relative handful of soldiers to carry the load while the rest of the country binges on consumption is unconscionable. At a minimum, the generation that opts for war should pay for it through higher taxes rather than foisting a burden of debt onto their grandchildren.

Fourth, the key to keeping America safe is to defend it, not to project American muscle to obscure places around the world. It may or may not be true that a “mighty fortress is our God”; had the United States been a mighty fortress on 9/11, however, the 19 hijackers would have gotten nowhere.

Fifth, by all means let the United States promote the spread of freedom and democracy. Yet we’re more likely to enjoy success by modeling freedom rather than trying to impose it. To provide a suitable model, we’ve considerable work to do here at home. Meanwhile, let’s not deny others the prerogative of defining for themselves exactly what it means to be free.

Boy, I disagree strongly with much of this. My disagreements are really focused on two areas of it –

The secret to keeping America safe can’t be to ‘defend it’ when the enemies aren’t fleets of warships and armies of tanks. What it takes to lock down and secure an open society like ours means, simply, the end of social freedom as we know it. It’s a massive surveillance state, with all the abuse that implies. Bacevich has been critical at length of the weakness of homeland defense that “let 9/11 happen” – well, what – exactly – kind of “mighty fortress” would have prevented it? Do we simply stop allowing foreign nationals into the country, or assign them government ‘minders?’ Nice rhetoric, show me a policy.

When he says we will use force only as a last resort, does he suggest that we simply take a hands-off position to the balance of the world? Let Israel and the Arabs nuke it out? Let the violent extremists kill enough people to take over societies, and keep their grip on the societies they already control?

Now if he believes that if we stop meddling, they will stop being angry, that’s amusing and wrong.

Way back in 2004, blogger Jim Henley posted a similar ‘Grand Plan‘ that paralleled Bacevich’s (with some additional detail that may or may not reflect Bacevich’s thinking). My overall take on Henley’s post was:

…when I was pointed to Jim Henley’s Grand Plan, I just lost the capacity for reasonable thought; it was so dumb, such a dorm-room, bong-hit driven idea of how the world ought to be that I almost left it alone. Then I got a link to it from a non-blog person, and realized that I had to Go Back In There and wrestle with it.

And as a side note, my feelings about Bacevich’s grand strategy aren’t all that different. Look, let’s go to one specific criticism of Henley:

“A Grand Strategy for the Rest – The Unqualified Offerings Plan, not just for Iraq but for terrorism generally:

1) Stop borrowing trouble

OK, that makes sense. The problem of course is that – as in the oldest known form of drama, tragedy – the trouble we’re paying for was borrowed generations ago. There’s no ‘ollie ollie oxen free’; no Original Position. So as a game-theory concept, it makes lots of sense. As a basis for real-world policy, it makes very little.

2) “Wait” for the people behind the trouble we’ve already borrowed to get old and tired or die off outright.

Right. First Rawls, then Kuhn; a full plate of philosophy’s Greatest Hits. Sadly, the dynamics are little more complex than that. Yes, the changes are large largely generational, but – a big but – the dynamics making the new generation take positions can’t be reset to zero, there are consequences for disengagement, and so there’s little but hope that would lead one to believe that – absent some positive act – the next generations will be happier to coexist than the last.

Still true – what exactly has changed in the Palestinian culture to make them more willing to live alongside Israel since 1948? And – as a sidenote – I’ll suggest that pure containment is Bacevich’s preferred foreign policy; except that – based on his unwillingness to meddle in foreign affairs, it’s containment that starts at the US border.

Look, go read my criticism of Henley’s ideas. Slightly warmed over, they serve perfectly well as criticisms of Bacevich’s as well. Three key points:

The first [problem with Henley’s arguments] is, yes, they do – they do, because they are a part of an expansionist (as are all evangelical) religion that sees a unified worldwide church as is goal, and more important, because one of the strongest strains in that church was raised from stock created here in the West, and defines itself, not only internally through the Quran, but externally, against the West (see Qutb).

The second problem is that even if we tried, we couldn’t cut the ties that are at the boundaries between our cultures. Trade, migration, media…the big three drivers that force their culture into contact with ours – even without the mechanisms of imperialism (stipulating for the moment that imperialism is as powerful as he suggests) force us to deal with each other. Does he somehow think that the Playboy Channel and MTV will somehow stop being watched in Riyadh? And that this itself won’t be a threat to the established order?


What [fresh] humiliations, exactly, did he have in mind? Because I think he’s forgetting that OBL is talking about ancient colonial history, and battles in Andalusia and at the gates of Vienna. These folks have a much better sense of history than we do.

and finally,

But the interests here are (a) inseparable – we can’t economically (or culturally) ‘disengage’ from the Islamic world; and (b) central to our well-being – it’s not only the oil and the economy, but the fact that while the Vietnamese Communist Party signed up for the internationalization of Communism, we didn’t need to worry about them, it was the USSR and China carrying that ball; Hanoi was happy to just bring Saigon into the fold. It was a nationalist manifestation of an international movement. Islamism isn’t nationalist. It hasn’t, doesn’t, and won’t stop at national borders.

There’s a great paraphrase of the Three Laws of Thermodynamics that goes

You can’t win.
You can’t break even.
You’ve got to play.

That’s thermodynamic reality. Political reality in a wicked-problems world, like it or not, follows similar rules.

You don’t know if you’re winning or losing.
You don’t know when you’re done.
You have to play.

I get the impulse to just close our collective eyes hold our breath and hope things will get better. In this country, we’re about 500 years too late for that.

“Hello,” He Lied

…so I’m reading all the books that TG bought me from my Amazon Wish List, and this morning I picked up Andrew Bacevich’s ‘The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.’ I just finished Niebuhr’s ‘The Irony of American History‘ which Bacevich wrote the preface to, and had finished that book mulling over the notion that Bacevich had flatly misread Niebuhr, and that Niebuhr’s book was more in the spirit of Ellul than of Chomsky.

So, anyway, I pick up Bacevich’s own book, and the opening words are:

War Without Exits

For the United States, the passing of the Cold War yielded neither a “peace dividend,” nor anything remotely resembling peace.

And it was like getting slapped. WHAT THE F***?? How can someone make the claim that there was no peace dividend – we’ll talk later about whether there was peace – in the aftermath of the collapse of Communism as a strategic enemy? Did he ever look at the Clinton budgets?

Here’s a handy graph, based on data from Truth and Politics.org (I have superficially checked their numbers and they seem right).


Note that it shows that the percentage of US Gross Domestic Product spent on defense declined from 6.1% in 1983 to 3.0% in 1999-2001. That’s 3.1% of GDP that was freed up from the Reagan peak; from the fall of the wall in 1989, the decline is only 2.6%. To put that in perspective, the entire health sector today comprises about 17% of GDP – so we’re talking about a savings in defense spending of almost 20% of the entire healthcare budget.

Now I know it’s strong to accuse someone of lying. But I don’t know how else to interpret such a willful misstating of elementary fact in support of one’s argument. And while I’ll go on and finish the book, I have to say that I don’t understand how every critic in America didn’t confront Bacevich with the same question.

You Just Cannot Make This Stuff Up…

From Editor & Publisher:

John Arthur has been forced out as Los Angeles Times executive editor.

Editor Russ Stanton explained in a posting at the paper’s Web site, “John and I did not agree on the need for the just-announced masthead changes, and we differ on the best approach to reaching our goals.”

Sports editor Randy Harvey becomes associate editor, and obituaries editor Jon Thurber will become managing editor, print.
[emphasis added]