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9551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Cost of Living Hits Record, Passing Pre-Crisis High on: March 18, 2011, 07:59:30 AM
http://www.cnbc.com/id/42130406

US Cost of Living Hits Record, Passing Pre-Crisis High
Published: Thursday, 17 Mar 2011 | 4:09 PM ET
Text Size
By: John Melloy
Executive Producer, Fast Money

 
One would think that after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Americans could at least catch a break for a while with deflationary forces keeping the cost of living relatively low. That’s not the case.

A special index created by the Labor Department to measure the actual cost of living for Americans hit a record high in February, according to data released Thursday, surpassing the old high in July 2008. The Chained Consumer Price Index, released along with the more widely-watched CPI, increased 0.5 percent to 127.4, from 126.8 in January. In July 2008, just as the housing crisis was tightening its grip, the Chained Consumer Price Index hit its previous record of 126.9.

“The Federal Reserve continues to focus on the rate of change in inflation,” said Peter Bookvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak. “Sure, it’s moving at a slower pace, but the absolute cost of living is now back at a record high in a country that has seven million less jobs.”
9552  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Orange County deputy dies from illness he caught trying to save infant, Sheriff' on: March 18, 2011, 07:55:44 AM
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/orange-county-deputy-dies-from-illness-he-caught-1327335.html

Orange County deputy dies from illness he caught trying to save infant, Sheriff's Office says
 
Deputy Sebastian Diana, 40, died on Saturday after a more than five-year battle with an undisclosed illness, which the Sheriff's Office said he contracted while on a 911 call in 2006.

By Jeff Weiner

Orlando Sentinel

Updated: 10:23 a.m. Thursday, March 17, 2011

Posted: 8:18 a.m. Thursday, March 17, 2011


An Orange County deputy died this weekend, after a lengthy battle with an illness sheriff's officials said he caught while trying to save the life of an infant.

Deputy Sebastian Diana, 40, died on Saturday after a more than five-year battle with an undisclosed illness, which the Sheriff's Office said he contracted while on a 911 call in 2006.

According to an incident report, Diana was one of three deputies called to an Orange County apartment about 5:20 a.m. on Feb. 27, 2006, where a mother had reported that her 3-month-old boy was not breathing.

Deputies arriving on scene reported finding the child's mother screaming that her baby was dead. The child was lying on a blanket, and was not breathing, deputies said.

As Diana conducted CPR on the boy, he came into contact with the infant's vomit, the Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.

"In many ways, the very life that he was trying to save may have cost him his own life," Sheriff's Jerry Demings said.
9553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Whistleblowers on: March 18, 2011, 07:25:43 AM
http://armsandthelaw.com/archives/2011/03/25_atf_agents_w.php

25 ATF Agents write letter outlining scandals
Posted by David Hardy · 17 March 2011 07:37 PM

The contents of their letter are pretty stunning. A few samples:

"The Bureaus second most powerful manager Deputy Director Edgar Domenech, himself filed a whistleblower complaint and publicly stated that the Bureau of ATF has a propensity for reprisal and he “knew” such actions would result in career suicide."

"A Special Agent attempts to resist an investigation using unlawful wiretaps. The Special Agent openly challenges and reports it to superiors. After 20 + years of exemplary service, the next 1 ½ years results in the Special Agent and his family being transferred 5 times, suspended for 3 days, attempts made to have a psyche evaluation conducted, 2 letters of reprimand, and ultimately a termination."

"Complainants or those who would challenge unethical and/or illegal acts by Special Agents in Charge or senior managers are often threatened with collecting their next pay check in Fargo, North Dakota or Anchorage, Alaska."

"An anonymous letter was sent to the Department of Justice OIG from Las Vegas, Nevada alleging government Fraud waste and abuse. The OIG provided the letter to ATF Internal affairs for follow up investigation into the allegations contained in the anonymous letter. One of the primary objectives by ATF Internal Affairs investigators was to identify the author of the anonymous letter. During theInternal Affairs investigation, ATF identified an Agent who ATF had perceived to have been the whistleblower. This Agent became the recipient of vindictive personnel actions that ranged from a letter of reprimand to a notice of proposed removal from Federal service. Further investigation identified the true author of the letter and he/she admitted to being the author of the letter. ATF management then directed their attack on the actual whistleblower. ATF continued their attack on the perceived whistleblower and terminated him from Federal service. The Agent was later reinstated by ATF after appealing his removal to the MSPB [Merit Systems Protection Board]."
9554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / More on the Chevy Dolt on: March 18, 2011, 07:15:55 AM
http://www.forbes.com/2011/03/16/chevy-volt-ayn-rand-opinions-patrick-michaels.html

Chevy Volt: The Car From Atlas Shrugged Motors
Patrick Michaels, 03.16.11, 06:00 PM EDT
Who is going to buy all these cars?

The Chevrolet Volt is beginning to look like it was manufactured by Atlas Shrugged Motors, where the government mandates everything politically correct, rewards its cronies and produces junk steel.

This is the car that subsidies built. General Motors lobbied for a $7,500 tax refund for all buyers, under the shaky (if not false) promise that it was producing the first all-electric mass-production vehicle.
9555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, & the US Dollar on: March 17, 2011, 07:39:05 PM
So, who thinks that Japan may be the final straw?
9556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Japanese Fallout May Hit Treasuries on: March 17, 2011, 06:30:21 PM
http://www.europac.net/commentaries/japanese_fallout_may_hit_treasuries

Japanese Fallout May Hit Treasuries
March 17, 2011 - 8:28am — europac admin
By:
John Browne
Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan is facing two meltdowns in the wake of its devastating earthquake. The first, and more critical, is the meltdown at the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant, 150 miles north of Tokyo. Surely, this is the greater near-term threat. But long-term, another threat looms, having to do with the Japanese government’s response to the former.

As the fourth largest economy in the world, behind the EU, US, and China, any major setback in Japan likely will have widespread repercussions. Japan is also the third largest holder of US Treasuries, behind the United States and China. While it is too early even to assess the Japanese damage accurately – let alone to forecast the full implications – it is possible to see the potential for a meltdown of the US Treasury market and international monetary system.

Current estimates hold that the Japanese disaster has already lowered world economic growth by a full percentage point for the year.

Leaving aside massive international aid, a complete nuclear meltdown, or other escalations, Japan already will have to spend a massive amount of money to cope with the current disaster. This raises the question: from where will such an enormous amount of money come?

Japan could borrow. However, with a debt-to-GDP ratio of some 200 percent, or twice as bad as that of the United States, and with the main credit rating agencies exercising more scrutiny than before the Credit Crunch, raising funds will be difficult at an economic rate of interest. Moreover, Japan will likely be spending a large chunk of its foreign exchange reserves to buy oil to replace its lost nuclear power generating capacity – diminishing its collateral in the eyes of creditors.

Japan could follow the US example and “paper over” its problems. But without the benefits of being the international reserve currency, the Japaneses would immediately feel the effects of domestic inflation. The Bank of Japan has already pumped out ¥8 trillion ($98 billion) in the wake of the earthquake, but it is unlikely to try to match the Fed's $600 billion printing spree this quarter.

So, if Japan is limited in its ability to borrow or print money, it may have to sell part of its vast holdings of US Treasuries.

At the end of last month, the US Treasury had outstanding debt worth some $14.19 trillion. This represents 96.8 percent of the total $14.66 trillion value of business generated within the United States for the entire year of 2010. It is just short of the $14.294 trillion debt limit set in 2010 by a profligate Democrat Congress. To put it in perspective, the US government now owes $91,400 for every working American. However, this represents only some 22 percent of Washington's $62 trillion of unfunded obligations, which include Social Security, Medicare, housing, and other guarantees.

Japan is the third largest holder of US Treasuries ($877 billion), behind China ($896 billion) and the Fed ($1.108 trillion). Should Japan start selling Treasuries in large amounts to fund the repair of its economy, it could have a serious effect on US interest rates and the market value of Treasuries the world over. US bonds are widely held by central banks, international banks, and insurance companies, which already are concerned about their funding of loss claims arising from the damage in Japan.

Thus, a Japanese selloff could trigger a liquidity crisis like the one following the collapse of Lehman Bros. and AIG. Large institutions may not be willing or able to bear with US bonds through a steep correction.

Western economies are on thin ice as it is, even without a shock in their presumed “safe” asset.

Stock markets in the EU and US are weakening, destroying large amounts of private wealth and potential consumer confidence.

Further, the EU is facing the reality that the financial rescue programs it organized to save some of its members are not working. China and Japan offered to help. Now Japan may not be able to fulfill its promises. This could reignite further speculative downward pressure on the euro.

It seems that while we are all concerned about the effects of nuclear meltdown on the residents of Japan, we should also be aware that the fallout could spread further in the financial markets than it does in the atmosphere. Just as Californians are stocking up on iodide pills as a precautionary measure, investors should be stocking up on hard assets. After health, it's vital to guard your wealth – especially in emergency times like these.
9557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noted sports analyst to discuss Japan crises on: March 17, 2011, 02:01:43 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2011/03/17/open-thread-noted-sports-analyst-to-discuss-japan-crises/

OK, that headline might be a little harsh.  How about “Anti-bullying activist to discuss non-intervention in Libya while dictator massacres entire city“? Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear at the moment that Barack Obama will be taking questions but rather will just be issuing a statement:
9558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Clinton prepares to jump from the SS Obamatanic on: March 17, 2011, 01:48:00 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2011/03/17/too-good-to-check-hillary-angrily-looking-for-exits-after-libya-vacillation/

Too good to check: Hillary angrily “looking for exits” after Libya vacillation?

posted at 2:15 pm on March 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey


This would tend to put Hillary Clinton’s demurral on serving in another Barack Obama term as Secretary of State in a new light, wouldn’t it?  It also fits more closely with her husband’s track record — and recent public statements — as an interventionist, assuming this story from The Daily is on the level:

    Fed up with a president “who can’t make his mind up” as Libyan rebels are on the brink of defeat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is looking to the exits.

    At the tail end of her mission to bolster the Libyan opposition, which has suffered days of losses to Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, Clinton announced that she’s done with Obama after 2012 — even if he wins again.

    “Obviously, she’s not happy with dealing with a president who can’t decide if today is Tuesday or Wednesday, who can’t make his mind up,” a Clinton insider told The Daily. “She’s exhausted, tired.”

    He went on, “If you take a look at what’s on her plate as compared with what’s on the plates of previous Secretary of States — there’s more going on now at this particular moment, and it’s like playing sports with a bunch of amateurs. And she doesn’t have any power. She’s trying to do what she can to keep things from imploding.”

Getting snubbed by democracy activists in Egypt probably didn’t help, either, a product of the White House’s attempt to spin the mixed messages on Mubarak as the fault of the Secretary of State.  After that, no one would doubt that Hillary is “not happy” about the vacillation and the mixed messages coming from the US in the first real significant test of Obama’s supposed commitment to reform in the Middle East.  The source quoted by The Daily called the foreign policy efforts at the White House “amateur night.”

None of this is a big surprise, of course, but how badly would a Hillary exit damage Obama?  It depends on when she leaves, if she leaves at all in the current term.  If Hillary is really looking for an exit and angry over the botched foreign policy of Obama, she’ll want to get out before she has to take full ownership of the bungling.  That would free her and Bill Clinton to speak more candidly about the incoherence of American foreign policy, something Bill seems so keen on doing that he started while his wife is still nominally in charge of it.  The Clintons still have a substantial amount of influence in the Democratic Party, and the last thing Obama needs is to have Hillary and Bill on the outside of his tent, making Obama appear both weak and radical just as the effort to win re-election begins.

At the very least, Obama needs her and Bill to stay on the sidelines, which would work best by keeping her at State.  If his political team has any competence at all, they may want to suggest an end to blaming Hillary for Obama’s back and forth on Egypt.
9559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In-depth on the BATFE flow of guns to Mexico on: March 17, 2011, 01:40:06 PM
http://www.publicintegrity.org/articles/entry/2976/?utm_source=publicintegrity&utm_medium=social_media&utm_campaign=twitter

ATF let hundreds of U.S. weapons fall into hands of suspected Mexican gunrunners
Whistleblower Says Agents Strongly Objected to Risky Strategy
9560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, & the US Dollar on: March 17, 2011, 11:14:47 AM
Drudge has it now listed as a flashback, below this article.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/16/us-usa-treasury-geithner-debt-idUSTRE72F7WQ20110316

(Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Wednesday that there was no alternative except for Congress to raise the debt ceiling so that the government can keep borrowing.

"Congress has to do it. There's no alternative," he said in response to questions at a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee.

He repeated a warning that it would be have "catastrophic" consequences for the economy if the debt ceiling was not raised and the country defaulted on its debt obligations.
9561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / “Where are the Americans?”A tale of two tsunamis on: March 17, 2011, 09:11:43 AM
http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerkimball/2011/03/17/%E2%80%9Cwhere-are-the-americans%E2%80%9Da-tale-of-two-tsunamis/

“Where are the Americans?”A tale of two tsunamis
March 17, 2011 - 4:49 am - by Roger Kimball


On December 26, 2004, an undersea megathrust earthquake precipitated one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. With a magnitude of between 9.1 and 9.3, it was the third largest quake ever recorded. The resulting tsunamis, moving walls of water up to 100 feet high, slammed ashore in some 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean killing some 230,000 people. By December 29, President George W. Bush had outlined a huge relief effort.  He said it was an “international coalition,” but the vital center of the coalition was the United States Navy.

    “The U.S. military responded quickly, sending ships, planes, and relief supplies to the region.  Coordinated by Joint Task Force 536, established at Utapao, Thailand, the Navy and the Marine Corps shifted assets from the Navy’s Pacific Command within days.  The rapid response once again illustrated the flexibility of naval forces when forward deployed.

    The Navy deployed four Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 P-3 Orion patrol aircraft from Kadena, Japan, to Utapao to fly reconnaissance flights in the region and five VP-8 P-3s began flying missions out of Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory.  The Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group [including Shoup (DDG 86), Shiloh (CG 67), Benfold (DDG 65) and USNS Ranier (T AOE 7)] and the Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Expeditionary Strike Group [including Duluth (LPD 6), Milius (DDG 69), Rushmore (LSD 47), Thach (FFG 43), Pasadena (SSN 752) and USCG Munro (WHEC 724)] steamed to Indonesia from the Pacific Ocean.  Marine Corps disaster relief assessment teams from Okinawa, Japan, flew in to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and were later joined by U.S. Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Units from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Lastly, a total of eleven ships under the Military Sealift Command (MSC) proceeded to the region from Guam and Diego Garcia.”

At the U.N., meanwhile, Kofi Annan interrupted his holiday to go to New York where he held a “media availability” on the crisis. Annan, who frequently registered his “horror” and sadness at the event, appealed to the “international community” for aid. Annan talked.  The United States Navy said little but carried out scores of rescue operations and aid deliveries.

On March 11, 2010, an undersea megathrust earthquake  erupted off the East coast of Tohoku, Japan. With a magnitude of about 9, it was the worst earthquake ever to hit Japan. It triggered a tsunami some 30 feet high which devastated coastal areas. As of this writing,  10,000 are reported dead (some reports estimate the final figure will climb to 100,000) and 500,000 have been displaced. Property damage is enormous. The disaster severely damaged several nuclear power stations in the prefecture of Fukushima. To date, engineers have been only partially successful in cooling the nuclear fuel and containing radiation. Within hours of the disaster, President Barack Hussein Obama . . .  went golfing. Later, he had dinner with admirers from the liberal media.  The next day, he outlined his predictions about who would win this year’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

At Powerline, John Hinderaker, citing a story from the Daily Mail, quotes an associate professor at Chiba University:

    “I think the death toll is going to be closer to 100,000 than 10,000. Where is the sense of urgency? We need somebody to take charge. We’ve had an earthquake followed by fire, then a tsunami, then radiation, and now snow. It’s everything. There is nothing left. The world needs to step in. Where are the Americans? The Japanese are too proud to ask, but we need help and we need it now.”

“Where the Americans?” That’s the sixty-four-dollar question. Chaos in Egypt: “Where are the Americans?” Gadaffi in Libya: “Where are the Americans?” Devastation in Japan: “Where are the Americans?” I am in London for a few days. At a dinner party last night, that was once again the question: “Where are the Americans?” On Tuesday, U.S. debt jumped $72 billion — in one day. What are the Americans doing about it? President Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury insisted that Congress raise the debt limit so that the government could borrow more. “Where are the Americans?” President Obama has managed the impossible-seeming feat of making a President of France appear as decisive and effective.  Nicolas Sarkozy was the first Western leader to recognize the Libyan opposition. “Where are the Americans?”

Many months ago, I wondered in the space whether Obama’s behavior betoken incompetence or malevolence (noting, however, that the “or” need not be exclusive: he might e both incompetent and malevolent). On the domestic front, Obama’s activity is marked by arrogance, self-absorption, and policies that increase the power of government at the expense of local or individual initiative. In foreign affairs, his behavior is marked by contempt for America and moral paralysis  —

“Weakness, incoherence, drift, indecision,” observes John Hinderaker, are “the hallmarks of the Obama administration.” The community organizer and junior Senator is simply out of his depth.

Obama had not been in office long before comparisons with Jimmy “misery index” Carter began cropping up. We now know that a reprise of that disastrous administration would be, as Glenn Reynolds has frequently observed, the best-case scenario. “Where are the Americans?” Conrad Black had the best analogy: looking for Obama is like the children’s game “Where’s Waldo?”  The difference is that when your little one actually finds the dopey-looking fellow with the striped shirt, spectacles, and sock-like hat, he’s won the game. The philosopher Rudolph Canap used to make fun of Heidegger for treating the word “nothing” as a transitive verb: “das Nichts nichtet,”  “nothing noths,” he was fond of saying “nothing,” that is to say , begets vacancy.  Carnap thought it was nonsense.  Barack Obama shows that it is brute political reality.  Barack Obama: President Nothing.
9562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Someone want to explain this? on: March 17, 2011, 07:39:36 AM
Is TurboTax-Tim trying to kill off the dollar?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/5050407/US-backing-for-world-currency-stuns-markets.html

US backing for world currency stuns markets
US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner shocked global markets by revealing that Washington is "quite open" to Chinese proposals for the gradual development of a global reserve currency run by the International Monetary Fund.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard 6:05PM GMT 25 Mar 2009



The dollar plunged instantly against the euro, yen, and sterling as the comments flashed across trading screens. David Bloom, currency chief at HSBC, said the apparent policy shift amounts to an earthquake in geo-finance.

"The mere fact that the US Treasury Secretary is even entertaining thoughts that the dollar may cease being the anchor of the global monetary system has caused consternation," he said.

Mr Geithner later qualified his remarks, insisting that the dollar would remain the "world's dominant reserve currency ... for a long period of time" but the seeds of doubt have been sown.

The markets appear baffled by the confused statements emanating from Washington. President Barack Obama told a new conference hours earlier that there was no threat to the reserve status of the dollar.

"I don't believe that there is a need for a global currency. The reason the dollar is strong right now is because investors consider the United States the strongest economy in the world with the most stable political system in the world," he said.
Related Articles



      Gold price spikes as dollar falls
      25 Mar 2009

The Chinese proposal, outlined this week by central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, calls for a "super-sovereign reserve currency" under IMF management, turning the Fund into a sort of world central bank.

The idea is that the IMF should activate its dormant powers to issue Special Drawing Rights. These SDRs would expand their role over time, becoming a "widely-accepted means of payments".

Mr Bloom said that any switch towards use of SDRs has direct implications for the currency markets. At the moment, 65pc of the world's $6.8 trillion stash of foreign reserves is held in dollars. But the dollar makes up just 42pc of the basket weighting of SDRs. So any SDR purchase under current rules must favour the euro, yen and sterling.

NOTE: Drudge had this link in red this A.M., turns out to be from 2009, it seems.
9563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Worst case scenario on: March 16, 2011, 09:55:53 PM
http://blogs.knoxnews.com/munger/2011/03/ex-sandia-engineer-talks-about.html

Ex-Sandia engineer talks about some of the worst things that could happen in Japan

Dr. Michael Allen, vice provost for research and dean of graduate studies at Middle Tennessee State University, spent much of his early career at Sandia National Labs studying nuclear reactor accidents of the worst kind and performing simulations to better understand how bad things happen -- including core meltdowns.
9564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 16, 2011, 08:52:48 PM
Well, it's kind of like living in LA, you know the big one is coming, but if you don't prepare for it and it happens, it's too late.

Gov't default and/or hyperinflation are coming.
9565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 16, 2011, 07:34:46 PM
How do you say "shakedown" in Urdu?
9566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: March 16, 2011, 05:30:36 PM
Yup. I'm sure the left and MSM will insist it's all Bush's fault.
9567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More economic gloom/doom on: March 16, 2011, 03:36:49 PM
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/mandatory-spending-exceed-all-federal-revenues-fiscal-year-2011_554659.html

Mandatory Spending to Exceed all Federal Revenues — 50 Years Ahead of Schedule
9:00 AM, Mar 16, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON


We have now gotten to the point — as I noted yesterday — where if national defense, interstate highways, national parks, homeland security, and all other discretionary programs somehow became absolutely free, we’d still have a budget deficit. The White House Office of Management and Budget projects that in the current fiscal year (2011), mandatory spending alone will exceed all federal receipts. So even if we didn’t spend a single cent on discretionary programs, we still wouldn’t be able to balance our budget this year — let alone pay off any of the $14 trillion in debt that we have already accumulated.
9568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 16, 2011, 03:26:25 PM
I would be very, very surprised to find that a nuke plant built decades ago in the midwest was designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake.
9569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: March 16, 2011, 02:10:14 PM
Just as there are long term, potentially negative consequences for acting, there can be the same for failing to act. Power vacuums never go unfilled.
9570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lessons from Libya for Dictators in Distress on: March 16, 2011, 01:43:22 PM
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/03/16/lessons-from-libya-for-dictators-in-distress/

Lessons from Libya for Dictators in Distress
Rick Richman 03.16.2011 - 8:19 AM

1. If you want to remain in power, you need to do more than send a man on a camel into crowds. Declare war on your people; hire other people to help out.

2. Do not worry if the U.S. president says you must “step down” and “leave.” It is only his personal opinion.

3. To ensure that the president does not focus unduly on your war, schedule it while he is preoccupied with other matters: a Motown concert, a conference on bullying, his golf game, and finalizing his Final Four picks.

4. Declare that the opposition is not “organic.” The president will not assist a non-organic revolution. If the revolution is organic, do not worry: an organic revolution is by definition one he does not need to assist. Either way, you’re fine.

5. Recognize that your membership on the UN Human Rights Council will be suspended — the president will send his secretary of state there to ensure that. Do not start a war against your people if you are not prepared for this.

6. Do not worry about a “no-fly zone” or some other U.S. military response. The president will consider it only if the world speaks with one voice. The world includes Russia, China, and Turkey.

7. Remember when the president adopted his Afghanistan policy after an extensive “review;” selected his own general to implement it; got the general’s recommendations; and then held endless meetings before finally reluctantly approving them? That was about a war he was already in. He will need many more meetings than that before he considers any new action against you.

8. You may eventually be subject to sanctions, so check to see if they’ve worked yet with Cuba, North Korea, or Iran.

9. Consider restarting your nuclear program, since the conditions that caused you to suspend it are gone. At most, the president will form a committee of several nations to talk to you; he will consider more sanctions if the world speaks as one. You need not worry about his “deadlines.”

10. There is basically only one thing you do need to worry about: do not, under any circumstances, approve any future Jewish housing in Jerusalem. The president will go ballistic if you do.
9571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Foreign policy: America forfeits its leadership role on: March 16, 2011, 01:38:35 PM
http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2011/03/16/foreign-policy-america-forefits-its-leadership-role/

Foreign policy: America forfeits its leadership role

posted at 12:13 pm on March 16, 2011 by Bruce McQuain


Anne-Marie Slaughter has a piece entitled “Fiddling While Libya Burns” in the NYT.  She opens with this:

    PRESIDENT Obama says the noose is tightening around Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. In fact, it is tightening around the Libyan rebels, as Colonel Qaddafi makes the most of the world’s dithering and steadily retakes rebel-held towns. The United States and Europe are temporizing on a no-flight zone while the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Gulf Cooperation Council and now the Arab League have all called on the United Nations Security Council to authorize one. Opponents of a no-flight zone have put forth five main arguments, none of which, on close examination, hold up.

The Libyan rebels aren’t particularly happy with the rest of the world at all.  As Gadhafi’s forces close in on Benghazi, the rebel commander has said the world has failed them.

Speaking of the world:

    Foreign Ministers from the Group of Eight nations failed to agree yesterday on imposing a no-fly zone. In Paris, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe of France, which along with the U.K. has pressed for aggressive action against Qaddafi, said he couldn’t persuade Russia to agree to a no-fly zone as other allies, including Germany, raised objections to military intervention.

So since Russia can’t be persuaded and Germany raised objections, no go on the NFZ.  Notice who is not at all mentioned in that paragraph.  Oh, too busy filling out the NCAA brackets?  Got it.

    “President Obama opened up with a plea for bracket participants to keep the people of Japan front of mind, saying, ‘One thing I wanted to make sure that viewers who are filling out their brackets — this is a great tradition, we have fun every year doing it — but while you’re doing it, if you’re on your laptop, et cetera, go to usaid.gov and that’s going to list a whole range of charities where you can potentially contribute to help the people who have been devastated in Japan. I think that would be a great gesture as you’re filling out your brackets.’

There that’s covered – anyone for golf?

Oh wait, Lybia Libya.  Morning Defense (from POLITICO) says:

    Here’s your readout from Tuesday evening: “At today’s meeting, the President and his national security team reviewed the situation in Libya and options to increase pressure on Qadhafi. In particular, the conversation focused on efforts at the United Nations and potential UN Security Council actions, as well as ongoing consultations with Arab and European partners. The President instructed his team to continue to fully engage in the discussions at the United Nations, NATO and with partners and organizations in the region.”

Well the great gab fest is underway, or at least planned to be under way.  Oh, what was it President Obama said on March 3rd?

    With respect to our willingness to engage militarily, … I’ve instructed the Department of Defense … to examine a full range of options. I don’t want us hamstrung. … Going forward, we will continue to send a clear message: The violence must stop. Muammar Gaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.”

Uh huh.  So there is a reason for the rebels in Libya to at least feel a little let down, isn’t there? There’s a reason they’re saying things like:

    “These politicians are liars. They just talk and talk, but they do nothing.”

Yes sir, now there’s a group that obviously thinks much more highly of America since Obama took office.  Or:

    Iman Bugaighis, a professor who has become a spokeswoman for the rebels, lost her composure as she spoke about the recent death of a friend’s son, who died in battle last week. Her friend’s other son, a doctor, was still missing. Western nations, she said, had “lost any credibility.”

    “I am not crying out of weakness,” she said. “I’ll stay here until the end. Libyans are brave. We will stand for what we believe in. But we will never forget the people who stood with us and the people who betrayed us.”

Fear not Ms. Bugaighis, the UN is on the job:

    The United Nations Security Council was discussing a resolution that would authorize a no-flight zone to protect civilians, but its prospects were uncertain at best, diplomats said.

I think an episode that best typifies what is going on in the Obama administration (and is being mirrored around the world) is to be found in the British comedy “Yes, Prime Minister”.  If this isn’t what we’re seeing, I don’t know what typifies it better (via Da Tech Guy).  Pay particular attention (around the 8 minute mark) to the “4 stage strategy”.  It is what is happening in spades:

In case you missed it, weren’t able to view the vid for whatever reason or just need a recap, here’s the 4 Stage Strategy:

    Dick: “In stage 1 we say ‘Nothing is going to Happen’”

    Sir Humphrey: “In stage 2 we say ‘Something may be going to happen but we should do nothing about it’”

    Dick: “In stage 3 we say “maybe we should do something about it but there’s nothing we can do.’”

    Sir Humphrey: “In stage 4 we say ‘Maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now’”

Folks, there it is in a nutshell.  The Obama variation, aka the “Obama Doctrine” as outlined by Conn Carroll is this:

    It assumes that big problems can be solved with big words while the messy details take care of themselves. It places far too much confidence in international entities, disregards for the importance of American independence, and fails to emphasize American exceptionalism.

And gets absolutely nothing accomplished.

Oh, about that golf game …

[ASIDE] This is not a plea or a demand for a No Fly Zone in Libya. It is an assessment of the way this administration has approached almost every foreign policy crisis with which it has been faced. Back to my point about this president trying to defer everything that requires any sort of difficult decision to others (UN, NATO, etc). This is just another in a long line of examples of that along with his refusal to anything more than talk about it and give the impression of relevant action without any really being done.


Bruce McQuain blogs at Questions and Observations (QandO), Blackfive, the Washington Examiner and the Green Room.  Follow him on Twitter: @McQandO
9572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Saudi Arabia & the Arabian Peninsula on: March 16, 2011, 12:46:39 PM
As has been pointed out many times before, there is never a power vacuum in human affairs. Those that decry America being the "global cop", strap yourselves in. You might find yourself missing the stability once provided by the US sooner than you think.
9573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 16, 2011, 12:42:59 PM
Crafty,

Earlier in the thread, we were discussing nuclear power and "green" alternatives. Just as we must weigh the costs and problems related to nukes, we must look at the cost as problems related to other means of energy production.
9574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Saudi Arabia & the Arabian Peninsula on: March 16, 2011, 12:36:59 PM
I wonder at the covert moves the Saudis and other sunni gulf arab states are making right now. I bet some are looking for nuclear technology as we speak.
9575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 16, 2011, 12:34:33 PM
I'm not the oracle at Delphi, all I know is we are in an untenable trajectory. Anything that can't last forever, doesn't. Those running things now are pushing us past the point of recovery.

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Click on that, look around, then tell me how this all gets fixed and ends well for us.
9576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 16, 2011, 12:14:17 PM
I think getting out of the dollar and into gold and silver makes sense, as well as non-perishable food, guns and ammo. I think one morning, we'll wake up to a financial earthquake that's going to take down the facade we've been living under. I think that time is soon.
9577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Saudi Arabia & the Arabian Peninsula on: March 16, 2011, 12:10:38 PM
Hmmmmmm.....

I wonder what sort of bold leadership move Obama will make to resolve this.


Right after the final four and the vacation to Rio.
9578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: March 16, 2011, 10:57:53 AM
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/15/eveningnews/main20043554.shtml

The Fukushima 50: Not afraid to die
If the Fukushima nuclear plant's crisis is not calmed soon, Japan will need more brave volunteers to battle it


By Jim Axelrod


Since the disaster struck in Japan, about 800 workers have been evacuated from the damaged nuclear complex in Fukushima. The radiation danger is that great.

However, CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that a handful have stayed on the job, risking their lives, to try to save the lives of countless people they don't even know.

Although communication with the workers inside the nuclear plant is nearly impossible, a CBS News consultant spoke to a Japanese official who made contact with one of the 50 inside the control center.

The official said that his friend, one of the Fukushima 50, told him that he was not afraid to die, that that was his job.
9579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Green for me, not for thee on: March 16, 2011, 09:06:00 AM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html

In China, the true cost of Britain's clean, green wind power experiment: Pollution on a disastrous scale

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html



The lake of toxic waste at Baotou, China, which as been dumped by the rare earth processing plants in the background


9580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Is California next? on: March 16, 2011, 08:25:29 AM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1366198/Japan-earthquake-tsunami-US-West-Coast-victim.html

Is California next? Experts warn U.S. West Coast could be next victim of devastating earthquake on Pacific's 'Ring of Fire'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1366198/Japan-earthquake-tsunami-US-West-Coast-victim.html
9581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 16, 2011, 08:21:30 AM
Bwahahahahahahaha!


Good one, Doug.
9582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survivalist issues on: March 16, 2011, 07:38:51 AM
I wouldn't take any potassium iodide unless there is an actual rad plume heading to Cali.
9583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How much longer do we have? on: March 16, 2011, 07:25:18 AM
http://www.europac.net/pentonomics/tic_data_makes_you_nervous

Pentonomics - Tic Data that Makes you Nervous
March 15, 2011 - 9:24am — mpento
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
By:
Michael Pento

One has to wonder how many more blows the U.S. Treasury market can withstand. We all are aware of the inflation created by Bernanke’s Fed. And we are also painfully cognizant about the exploding burden of U.S. debt. Those two factors alone will help usher in dramatically higher interest rates in the months and years to come. But in recent days there has been even more fuel dumped upon the pyre of burning Treasuries.

China announced last month that they posted a $7.3 billion trade deficit, which was the largest in seven years. It was the fifth consecutive month that imports outpaced exports (exports gained 2.4% while imports were up 19.4%). Without having a trade surplus, China will have less money to dump into U.S. debt.

Japan is now facing a massive increase in debt accumulation in order to reconstruct their country. The rebuilding efforts will soak up all their available savings plus whole lot more. Therefore, their participation in the U.S. debt market should diminish significantly. Excluding the Fed, Japan is the second largest holder of U.S. debt outside of China.

Evidence of the waning appetite for U.S. debt came from today’s release of Treasuries International Capital Data. Global demand for U.S. stocks, bonds and other financial assets fell in January from a month earlier on declines in purchases of U.S. Treasury securities. Net buying of long-term equities, notes and bonds totaled $51.5 billion during January compared with net buying of $62.5 billion in December, according to the TICS data released today in Washington by the Treasury Department.

China saw its portfolio fall by $5.4 billion to $1.15 trillion in January. Hong Kong, which is counted separately from China, reduced its holdings to $128.1 billion from $134.2 billion. Total foreign purchases of Treasury notes and bonds were $46.5 billion in January compared with purchases of $54.6 billion in December.

Either by choice or by an alarm clock, foreigners are waking up and losing their appetite for U.S. debt. Maybe domestic investors should set their alarms too.


Michael Pento, Senior Economist at Euro Pacific Capital is a well-established specialist in the “Austrian School” of economics. He is a regular guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business, and other national media outlets and his market analysis can be read in most major financial publications, including the Wall Street Journal. Prior to joining Euro Pacific, Michael worked for a boutique investment advisory firm to create ETFs and UITs that were sold throughout Wall Street. Earlier in his career, he worked on the floor of the NYSE.
9584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ‘The Most Predictable Economic Crisis in History’ on: March 15, 2011, 08:26:24 PM
http://www.lesjones.com/2011/03/14/normal-interest-rates-would-be-a-disaster-for-u-s-debt/

Normal Interest Rates Would be a Disaster for U.S. Debt
Monday, March 14th, 2011 | Economics | ShareThis

‘The Most Predictable Economic Crisis in History’:

    If fewer people are willing to lend us money, the more we’ll have to shell out in higher interest payments. And if bond buyers lose confidence in our ability to make good on that debt, things could get really ugly, really fast.

    As Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), who served on the deficit commission and supported its recommendations, pointed out at a press conference this week, the United States has, historically, paid an average of 6 percent interest on its debt. It currently pays about 2 percent. If rates were to return simply to that historical average, it would involve an increase to our overall interest bill of $640 billion — to be paid immediately. “An impossible situation,” in Coburn’s words.

And that’s why the Federal Reserve is buying U.S. Treasuries. If they didn’t, the U.S. would have to pay higher interest rates on its debt, and we can’t afford to.

None of this can go on forever. The Fed can’t print money forever. The U.S. can’t borrow huge fractions of GDP forever. Austerity is coming. The only question in my mind now is whether we’ll have a currency collapse and hyperinflation first.

Previously – Bonus 2011 Deficit FAQ: Why is the Federal Reserve buying U.S. Treasuries?
9585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The UN springs into action! on: March 15, 2011, 08:06:29 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2011/03/15/days-after-it-might-have-done-some-good-un-finally-introduces-resolution-on-no-fly-zone-in-libya/

Days after it might have done some good, UN finally introduces resolution on no-fly zone in Libya

posted at 7:52 pm on March 15, 2011 by Allahpundit


How pathetic is this? The foreign minister of France, which was spearheading the push for a NFZ initially, flatly admitted today that it’s probably too late now. Qaddafi rolled over the rebels in Ajdabiya last night and is poised to utterly devastate the last rebel fortress in Benghazi, so by the time the Security Council passes a resolution and NATO scrambles to begin operations against Libyan air defenses, the entire country may be back in Qaddafi’s hands. (So quickly are the regime’s troops advancing that when Newsweek published this piece last night about a “decisive” battle to come, that battle was already basically over. Already the news has shifted to Benghazi’s defenders “bracing for death.”) Even the rebels know it’s too late for a NFZ: Yesterday they expanded their requests from a no-flight zone to include airstrikes against Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli. They’re not strong enough anymore to take him out so they’re begging us to do it for them.

Essentially, rather than tell them flat out that intervening in Libya is too much risk for too little reward, Obama and the EU have spent two weeks jerking them around with stern words about how Qaddafi must go while evidently intending all along to do nothing militarily to help. It’s good domestic politics — the public may like anti-Qaddafi rhetoric but they’re awfully chilly about bombing Libyan air defenses, a necessary precondition to a NFZ — but it’s amazingly cynical.

    “It may prove to be too little too late,” says Robert Danin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It could be of some assistance in creating humanitarian sanctuaries, but if the goal is to roll back Qaddafi’s forces, it is likely to have little military effect, especially with the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on the brink of falling.”

    Even though the U.S. is now backing the draft Libya resolution, Danin believes the Obama administration should have pushed harder for action much earlier. “Obama should not have called for Qaddafi to step down if the U.S. was not willing to back up that call with a real sense of an ‘or else’ … consequences for failing to step down.”

    The resolution comes amid criticism of the Security Council’s failure to react more forcefully. French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said he is “deeply distressed” by the Security Council’s failure to act and is pushing for the resolution’s passage. But Western diplomats tell Fox News they expect tough negotiations over the days ahead.

France and Britain lobbied diplomats at today’s meeting of the G-8 to at least include a passage about Libya in their final statement — to no avail. (Your quote of the day: “Col Gaddafi, in an interview, said Germany, Russia and China would now be rewarded with business deals and oil contracts.”) Libyan rebels met with Hillary last night in Paris and begged her for airstrikes — to no avail, just three days after The One surreally claimed that we were “tightening the noose” on Qaddafi. I understand the interventionist argument, I understand the noninterventionist argument, but what I don’t understand is the tactic of talking tough while fully intending to let this cretin steamroll his opponents. What does it amount to if not an admission of western paralysis? As Larry Diamond puts it at TNR, “If Barack Obama cannot face down a modest thug who is hated by most of his own people and by every neighboring government, who can he confront anywhere?”

That said, and contrary to those on the interventionist side, I don’t think any “lessons” will be drawn from this in, say, Riyadh about how to deal with protesters that weren’t already learned long ago. After watching Khamenei consolidate power two years ago by crushing demonstrators and then watching Mubarak sent into exile after the Egyptian army refused to fire, every autocracy in the region knows how to deal now with its own dispossessed. Letting Qaddafi win reinforces the lesson, but even had we acted against him, there’s no chance of NATO intervention against Saudi Arabia or Yemen or Bahrain or any other friendly regime. If there’s any “lesson” to be learned here, it’s that official U.S. rhetoric on Middle Eastern uprisings is farcically meaningless. We already knew that too, actually, from the White House’s rolling embarrassments during the Egyptian revolution, but in case there was any doubt, this should clear it up. Don’t trust a thing we say about whether X should go or Y should stay or there should be an “orderly transition” from X to Y over the span of blah blah blah. We don’t mean a word of it. We’re simply following events and trying to pander simultaneously to the democracy and “stability” factions in the region.
9586  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Taking Control of Cars From Afar on: March 15, 2011, 03:18:04 PM
http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/35094/?p1=A6&a=f

Researchers show they can hack into cars wirelessly.
9587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Saudi/US strains show as Bahrain declares a “state of emergency” on: March 15, 2011, 02:43:04 PM
http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2011/03/15/saudius-strains-show-as-bahrain-declares-a-state-of-emergency/

Saudi/US strains show as Bahrain declares a “state of emergency”

posted at 1:37 pm on March 15, 2011 by Bruce McQuain


Yes it’s another fine mess.  Of course while the Japanese tragedy and the struggles with their nuclear power plants has sucked all the air out of news elsewhere, there is, in fact much news elsewhere.  And not the least of it is coming out of the Middle East where Saudi troops, as a part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), moved into Bahrain ostensibly to “guard government facilities”.

The GCC is composed of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.   It was created in 1991 (think Iraq invasion of Kuwait), the 6 members share common borders and are committed by their charter to help each other in times of need.

The action by the GCC, as you might imagine, is in direct conflict with how the White House has indicated it would prefer the situation in Bahrain be resolved.  Obviously that’s not carried much weight with the GCC.

    The move created another quandary for the Obama administration, which obliquely criticized the Saudi action without explicitly condemning the kingdom, its most important Arab ally. The criticism was another sign of strains in the historically close relationship with Riyadh, as the United States pushes the country to make greater reforms to avert unrest.

    Other symptoms of stress seem to be cropping up everywhere.

    Saudi officials have made no secret of their deep displeasure with how President Obama handled the ouster of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, charging Washington with abandoning a longtime ally. They show little patience with American messages about embracing what Mr. Obama calls “universal values,” including peaceful protests.

The GCC move has prompted both Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense and Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, to cancel upcoming visits to Saudi Arabia.

Again, the apparent genesis of these tensions appear to be related to the way the US handled Egypt.  It has caused the Saudis and other GCC nations to trust the US less than before:

    The latest tensions between Washington and Riyadh began early in the crisis when King Abdullah told President Obama that it was vital for the United States to support Mr. Mubarak, even if he began shooting protesters. Mr. Obama ignored that counsel. “They’ve taken it personally,” said one senior American familiar with the conversations, “because they question what we’d do if they are next.”

    Since then, the American message to the Saudis, the official said, is that “no one can be immune,” and that the glacial pace of reforms that Saudi Arabia has been engaged in since 2003 must speed up.

Obviously the Saudi’s have their own ideas of how to handle this and apparently aren’t taking kindly to the US attempting to dictate how it should handle it’s internal affairs.  And, given the treatment of Mubarak, the Saudi rulers can’t help but feel that they’re just as likely to be thrown under the bus if protests were to escalate as was Mubarak.

Consequently, they’ve decided to go their own way and handle it with force within the GCC  while throwing money at the problem within the Saudi Kingdom.  Speaking of the latter:

    One of President Obama’s top advisers described the moves as more in a series of “safety valves” the Saudis open when pressure builds; another called the subsidies “stimulus funds motivated by self-preservation.”

    Saudi officials, who declined to comment for this article to avoid fueling talk of divisions between the allies, said that the tensions had been exaggerated and that Americans who criticized the pace of reforms did not fully appreciate the challenges of working in the kingdom’s ultraconservative society.

Of course the difference between their “stimulus funds” and ours is they actually have the money.   But it is ironic to see the adviser describe “stimulus funds” in those terms isn’t it?  The actual point here should be evident though.  The GCC has rejected the “Bahrain model” as the desired method of addressing the unrest.  As you recall that was the “regime alteration” model, v. the regime change model.

So where does that leave us?

    Demonstrating to Iran that the Saudi-American alliance remains strong has emerged as a critical objective of the Obama administration. King Abdullah, who was widely quoted in the State Department cables released by WikiLeaks as warning that the United States had to “cut off the head of the snake” in Iran, has led the effort to contain Iran’s ambitions to become a major regional power. In the view of White House officials, any weakness or chaos inside Saudi Arabia would be exploited by Iran.

    For that reason, several current and former senior American intelligence and regional experts warned that in the months ahead, the administration must proceed delicately when confronting the Saudis about social and political reforms.

    ”Over the years, the U.S.-Saudi relationship has been fraught with periods of tension over the strategic partnership,” said Ellen Laipson, president of the Stimson Center, a public policy organization. “Post-September 11 was one period, and the departure of Mubarak may be another, when they question whether we are fair-weather friends.”

That phone keeps ringing at 3am, doesn’t it?

Questions: given the “critical objective” as outlined above, is it smart to cancel visits by SecDef and SecState?  Doesn’t that possibly signal lack of support for the Saudis and play into the perception the US is a fair-weather friend?  Doesn’t that promise the possibility of more actions the Saudi’s might take that will be contra to the US’s advice?   Isn’t now the time to be going in there and making the case with top leaders and showing support while trying to twist a few arms to ramp down the situation instead of canceling?

UPDATE: Bahrain declares a “state of emergency”. 2 protesters killed 200 wounded. 1 Saudi soldier reported to have been killed.

Here’s a little insight into the Iranian connection mentioned above:

    The entrance of foreign forces, including Saudi troops and those from other Gulf nations, threatened to escalate a local political conflict into a regional showdown; on Tuesday, Tehran, which has long claimed that Bahrain is historically part of Iran, branded the move “unacceptable.”

    […]

    “The presence of foreign forces and interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs is unacceptable and will further complicate the issue,” Ramin Mehmanparast, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a news conference in Tehran, according to state-run media.

    Even as predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran pursues a determined crackdown against dissent at home, Tehran has supported the protests led by the Shiite majority in Bahrain.

    “People have some legitimate demands, and they are expressing them peacefully,” Mr. Memanparast said. “It should not be responded to violently.”

    He added, “We expect their demands be fulfilled through correct means.”

You have to love their chutzpah.  A little analysis:

    The Gulf Cooperation Council was clearly alarmed at the prospect of a Shiite political victory in Bahrain, fearing that it would inspire restive Shiite populations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to protest as well. The majority of the population in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich eastern provinces is Shiite, and there have already been small protests there.

    “If the opposition in Bahrain wins, then Saudi loses,” said Mustafa el-Labbad, director of Al Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “In this regional context, the decision to move troops into Bahrain is not to help the monarchy of Bahrain, but to help Saudi Arabia itself .”

So that’s the lens by which much of what happens should be viewed – two regional rivals, each aligned with a different sect of Islam as well as different ethnic groups (Arab v. Persian) attempting to take advantage of a situation in the case of Iran, or trying to prevent change that would favor Iran in the case of Saudi Arabia.

The possible result?

    An adviser to the United States government, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the news media, agreed. “Iran’s preference was not to get engaged because the flow of events was in their direction,” he said. “If the Saudi intervention changes the calculus, they will be more aggressive.”

Of course they have their own problems at home, but Iran will probably, at least covertly, try to support the opposition in Bahrain.  It is obviously perceived to be in their best interest to do so.

The primary reason that Bahrain has ended up asking the GCC in is because the recommended way to resolve the crisis, negotiate with the oppositions, was rejected by the opposition. As I mentioned in the earlier post about regime realignment, the entire process hinged on the opposition being willing to engage in honest, good faith negotiations with the government.  It appears the Bahranian royal family at least made an attempt to do the things necessary as advised by the US:

    The royal family allowed thousands of demonstrators to camp at Pearl Square. It freed some political prisoners, allowed an exiled opposition leader to return and reshuffled the cabinet. And it called for a national dialogue.

    But the concessions — after the killings — seemed to embolden a movement that went from calling for a true constitutional monarchy to demanding the downfall of the monarchy. The monarchy has said it will consider instituting a fairly elected Parliament, but it insisted that the first step would be opening a national dialogue — a position the opposition has rejected, though it was unclear whether the protesters were speaking with one voice.

Indeed.  But it doesn’t matter now, does it? Events have apparently moved beyond that.  The likelihood of this simmering down to the point that such negotiations and dialogue could occur seem remote – especially with Iran in the background keeping this all stirred up.

We live in interesting times.


Bruce McQuain blogs at Questions and Observations (QandO), Blackfive, the Washington Examiner and the Green Room.  Follow him on Twitter: @McQandO
9588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: March 15, 2011, 02:23:17 PM
http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?funnel=&item=1753160&go=item&section=10339&xxwvCampaign=2070293

I like WorldVision. They have a very small administrative footprint, so most of your donation actually reaches those in need rather than middlemen. IMHO, the Red Cross is way too top heavy.
9589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: March 15, 2011, 02:15:32 PM
"It's pretty clear that they will be getting very high doses of radiation. There's certainly the potential for lethal doses of radiation. They know it, and I think you have to call these people heroes."

Yes.
9590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Miracle on: March 15, 2011, 02:06:13 PM


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1366155/Japan-earthquake-tsunami-4-month-old-baby-girl-father-reunited-Ishinomaki.html

Miracle of the baby girl plucked from the rubble: Four-month-old reunited with her father after incredible rescue

By Richard Shears
Last updated at 10:27 AM on 15th March 2011


The sound of a baby’s cry amid the rubble seemed so impossible that soldiers searching a tsunami-smashed village dismissed it as a mistake.

But it came again. And they realised they had not been hearing things.

They pulled away wood and slate, dug back thick oozing mud – and there was the child they were to describe as a ‘tiny miracle’. ... And fear: Upon hearing another tsunami warning, a father tries to flee to safety with the baby girl he has just been reunited with

... And fear: Upon hearing another tsunami warning, a father tries to flee to safety with the baby girl he has just been reunited with

The four-month-old girl had been swept from her parents’ arms in the shattered village of Ishinomaki when the deadly wave crashed into the family home.

For three days, the child’s frantic family had believed she was lost to them for ever.

But yesterday, for a brief moment, the horrors of the disaster were brightened by one helpless baby’s story of survival.

Soldiers from the Japanese Defence Force had been going from door to door pulling bodies from the devastated homes in Ishinomaki, a coastal town northeast of Sendai.

Most of the victims were elderly, unable to escape the destructive black tide.

But for this precious moment, at least, it was only the child who mattered to the team of civil defence troops who found her.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1366155/Japan-earthquake-tsunami-4-month-old-baby-girl-father-reunited-Ishinomaki.html
9591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Saudi Arabia & the Arabian Peninsula on: March 15, 2011, 02:02:36 PM

"The U.S. hopes to avoid further escalation. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a visit to Egypt in Cairo, spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud about the situation in Bahrain. She said she was "particularly concerned" about the violence and the potential for escalation. About her call to the foreign minister, Mrs. Clinton said she told him all sides "must take steps now to negotiate toward a political solution," not a military one.

The State Department dispatched Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, to Bahrain, where he "working the issue aggressively on the ground as we speak," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.

The U.S. had tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade its Saudi allies to keep their forces out of the fray.

Tensions between President Barack Obama and the Saudi king flared in February over Mr. Obama's push for the immediate exit of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, rather than the graceful exit supported by the Saudis."

Smart power! Better get State working on translating "reset button" into arabic, stat!
9592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 15, 2011, 01:58:57 PM
" On the whole, I'd rather have the Japanese running things when you absolutely positively don't want to have an inadvertent clusterfcuk"

Well, WE do have Obama... wink

He'll get right on it, after golf, hoops, the bullying summit, Brazil vacation and finishing his March Madness final four picks.
9593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 15, 2011, 01:48:53 PM
I'd eat fugu in Japan, I wouldn't in China.
9594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 15, 2011, 01:45:34 PM
Well, yes.
9595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Lessons From Japan For US West Coast on: March 15, 2011, 01:38:26 PM
http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/007967.html

March 13, 2011
Lessons From Japan For US West Coast

Planet Earth is dangerous. Those of us on the US, Canadian, and Central American West Coast should think seriously about what we can learn from the Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor failures.

    Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami is alerting the US west coast that the same kind of thing could happen here. In fact, say experts who study the earth’s shifting crust, the “big one” may be past due.

The Pacific Northwest is especially vulnerable and could experience a 9.0 earthquake either onshore or offshore. If offshore the time to get to higher ground would be on the order of about 15 minutes. The Cascadia subduction zone could shake and cause offshore landslides that would cause massive wave movement.

The Cascadia earthquake of 1700 was previously thought to be part of a pattern of earthquakes that averaged 500 year intervals. But more recent research puts the average earthquake interval at 240 years. So we are about 71 years past the average Cascadia earthquake interval.

What about California? A Hayward fault quake could devastate the Bay Area forcing 200,000 out of their homes. SoCal is overdue for a Carrizo Plain earthquake. Risks come from other faults as well.

The US has several big earthquake risks including the New Madrid fault which last let loose in a major way in 1811 and 1812. A replay of especially severe 19th century natural disasters would make the earthquake in Japan small stuff in comparison.

What I'd like to know: How at risk are the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plants from a tsunami and/or strong earthquake? Should they be made safer from tsunami or earthquake risks? The take-home lesson from the Japanese nuclear power plant failures is that equipment and designs for maintaining sufficient reactor coolant water must be capable of handling severe earthquakes. The need for active systems (as distinct from passive systems) to cool nuclear reactors is a very unfortunate aspect of most (all?) operating nuclear power plants today.

Diablo Canyon is designed to handle 20 foot tsunami waves. Can even bigger tsunami waves strike there?

    DCPP is designed for storm surge waves of 36 feet and tsunami waves of 20 feet. In 1981, DCPP experienced a 31-foot storm surge. Because of the location and relative geometry of DCPP and the Cascadia (Washington-Oregon) earthquake, there would be no significant tsunami wave action at DCPP, particularly compared to the storm surge that has already been experienced at the plant. Waves from Alaska and Chile could be expected to reach DCPP in five and 13 hours, respectively.

Practical advice: Got enough water to last a couple of weeks? Got enough batteries? Warm clothing if you lose electric power and natural gas?

By Randall Parker at 2011 March 13 11:25 PM  Dangers Natural Geological
9596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 15, 2011, 01:29:41 PM
The media loves to hype bad news, in addition, every so-called expert with an anti-nuclear agenda has crawled out to give the MSM "Worse than Chernobyl" headlines.

IMHO, the earthquake/tsunami fatalities are the big story, and the nuclear the small one, but the MSM has the roles reversed.
9597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: March 15, 2011, 01:25:04 PM
I think that it is incredible, that in Japan currently, there is not one bit of evidence of anyone looting or treating their countrymen in a like manner.

In fact; to the contrary, they have found people encountering a case of water and taking only a couple of bottles, insuring that there would be water for others that need it.

There is a reason that I study the Samurai. Nothing but class....in all things.

My hat is off to them.

Agreed.
9598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The islamic roots of anti-semitism on: March 15, 2011, 09:29:38 AM
- FrontPage Magazine - http://frontpagemag.com -

Farrakhan: Jews Behind Mideast Crisis

Posted By Frontpagemag.com On March 3, 2011 @ 12:29 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 24 Comments

Louis Farrakhan, the reliably anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam, claimed Tuesday at the Nation’s annual meeting in the Chicago area that Jews and Zionists were “trying to push the US into war” and — in a revival of hoary anti-Semitic clichés — that “Zionists dominate the government of the United States of America and her banking system.”

The elderly Jew-hater also directed a warning to the president not to move against the man Farrakhan called “my brother and my friend,” Muammar Gaddafi: “President Obama, if you allow the Zionists to push you, to mount a military offensive against Gaddafi and you go in and kill him and his sons, as you did with Saddam Hussein and his sons… I’m warning you this is a Libyan problem, let the Libyans solve their problem among themselves.”

Farrakhan at the same time denied that he was – despite appearances — “just somebody who’s got something out for the Jewish people.” Farrakhan directly addressed those who might get such a crazy idea: “You’re stupid.” And he explained: “Do you think I would waste my time if I did not think it was important for you to know Satan? My job is to pull the cover off of Satan so that he will never deceive you and the people of the world again.”

A rational analyst would be hard-pressed to explain why Zionists might wish the U.S. to embark upon a military operation to remove Gaddafi, when the successor to his odious regime is likely to be an Islamic state that is even more virulently anti-America and anti-Israeli than that of the aging rock star who is still quixotically holding the fort in Tripoli. But Farrakhan’s anti-Jewish conspiracy paranoia is not entirely irrational, either: it is founded in a book revered by Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, albeit not in a wholly conventional fashion: the Koran.

Neither Sunni nor Shi’ite Muslim authorities generally regard the Nation of Islam as an orthodox expression of Islam; nevertheless, its adherents identify themselves as Muslims and read the Koran. And the Koran, whether or not it really is, in the words of Michael Potemra, Deputy Managing Editor of National Review magazine, “one of the loveliest books ever written…full of spiritual wisdom,” is undeniably full of venomous hatred toward the Jews.

The Koran puts forward a clear, consistent image of the Jews: they are scheming, treacherous liars and the most dangerous enemies of the Muslims. This theological tenet provides a basis for Islam’s deeply rooted anti-Semitism, and illuminates Farrakhan’s latest outburst. For the Koran depicts the Jews as a gang of corrupt, deceitful cut-throats.

The Koran condemns Jews for speaking “a lie concerning Allah knowingly” (3:75). The Jews are “men who will listen to any lie” (5:41). They also spread them: “There is a party of them who distort the Scripture with their tongues, that ye may think that what they say is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture. And they say: It is from Allah, when it is not from Allah; and they speak a lie concerning Allah knowingly” (3:78). They are so deceitful that they dare to distort “Divine Revelation and Allah’s Sacred Books. Allah says in this regard: ‘Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands and then say, ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for that their hands have written, and woe unto them for that they earn thereby’” (2:79).

The Jews in the Koran are so obstinate before Allah that they refuse to believe in the prophets Allah has sent them, even Moses, telling him: “O Moses! We will not believe in thee till we see Allah plainly” (2:55). They are hypocrites (2:14; 2:44) who “grow arrogant” before the messengers of Allah, refusing to believe in some and killing others (2:87). They are so arrogant and haughty that they “claimed to be the sons and of Allah and His beloved ones” – a fault they share with the Christians: “The Jews and Christians say: We are sons of Allah and His loved ones” (5:18).

The Jews also try to lead others away from the truth: “Many of the People of the Scripture long to make you disbelievers after your belief, through envy on their own account, after the truth hath become manifest unto them” (2:109). They rejoice in others’ ill-fortune: “If a lucky chance befall you, it is evil unto them, and if disaster strike you they rejoice thereat” (3:120).

And so when Farrakhan refers to Jews as Satanic deceivers, he is actually being more moderate than the Koran itself. For Farrakhan and his ilk, eliminating the Jewish state is not just a foreign policy goal; it is a religious imperative.

Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com

URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/03/03/farrakhan-jews-behind-mideast-crisis/
9599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / First PIMCO, Then OPEC, Then . . . ? on: March 15, 2011, 06:36:45 AM
http://www.nationalreview.com/exchequer/262054/first-pimco-then-opec-then

First PIMCO, Then OPEC, Then . . . ?
March 13, 2011 10:03 P.M.
By Kevin D. Williamson

Tags: Anemic Fiat Dollars, Bonds, Debt, Deficits, Despair

This remind you of anything?

    March 14 (Bloomberg) — Oil exporting countries are cutting holdings of U.S. government debt as energy prices rise, helping depress the dollar, the worst performing major currency of the past six months.

    Treasuries owned by oil producers and institutions such as U.K. banks that are proxies for Middle East nations fell 9 percent in the second half of 2010 to $654.6 billion, the first decline in the final six months of a year since the Treasury Department began compiling the data in 2006. The sales may continue, if history is any guide, because Barclays Plc says Middle East petroleum exporting nations have traditionally placed only 25 percent of their savings in dollar-based assets.

PIMCO, OPEC: not buying what we’re selling.

And does anybody think that the No. 3 U.S. government debt buyer, Japan, is going to be in the market for a while?

Here’s a little piece of knowledge:

    “I moved my clients out of any mutual funds that held Treasuries 12 to 18 months ago, including the Pimco Total Return Fund,” said Steven Tibbitts, owner of Tibbitts Financial Consulting, a $50 million advisory firm.

    In place of Treasuries, he has moved clients into floating-rate-bank-loan funds and international bonds, including emerging-markets debt.

    “It’s not a matter of whether rates rise, because they will, and when they do, it will be negative for longer-term bonds, especially longer-term government bonds,” Mr. Tibbitts said.

Question: Who thinks the U.S. government will still have a AAA rating in five years? Answer in the comments and tell me why/why not.

—  Kevin D. Williamson is a deputy managing editor of National Review and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, just published by Regnery. You can buy an autographed copy through National Review Online here.
9600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Welcome back, Carter on: March 15, 2011, 06:14:19 AM
**Click the link to see the CNBC interview

http://www.cnbc.com/id/42067433

Barack Obama Is the New Jimmy Carter: Niall Ferguson
Published: Monday, 14 Mar 2011 | 7:17 AM ET

By: CNBC.com


The current inflation scenario is reminiscent of the 1970s and the transition of economic dominance from the United States to China is already well under way, Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson told CNBC Monday.

Geopolitical events all add up "to a pretty bearish scenario because of all the inflation implications we're seeing right now," Ferguson said.

"You already had massive deficits and money printing in the developed world," he said. "On top of that you had enormous demand-side pressure from China relative to commodities."

"Now you've got the prospect of massive geopolitical disturbance in the great oil-producing centers of the world," he added. "That has to be a pretty inflationary scenario."

"At best case, we're going to re-run the 1970s, only with Barack Obama instead of Jimmy Carter in the White House," Ferguson said.

Globally, Western dominance peaked in the 1970s and the rise of Eastern dominance is evident with China taking over the top spot as world's biggest manufacturer, he said.

The dollar will likely keep its status as a reserve currency for a while, but there is "a sense around the world that exposure to the dollar has higher risk in it," Ferguson said.
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