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9851  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Serious problem on: February 09, 2011, 12:18:24 PM

WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices

US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%

• Peak oil alarm revealed by secret official talks
• Datablog: Are we running out of oil?

    * John Vidal, environment editor
    *, Tuesday 8 February 2011 22.00 GMT
    * Article history

Aerial View of Oil Refinery Saudi oil refinery. WikiLeaks cables suggest the amount of oil that can be retrieved has been overestimated. Photograph: George Steinmetz/Corbis

The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.

The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%.

The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their Opec cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand.
9852  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Meet the hardliners who now run China’s foreign policy. on: February 09, 2011, 12:14:38 PM,0&passthru=MzQ2ZDBiYmM0MzgzNWFlYTFiOTcwNmY0NTkzYjgzY2M&utm_source=Editors%20and%20Bloggers&utm_campaign=15bad5c325-Edit_and_Blogs&utm_medium=email

Meet the hardliners who now run China’s foreign policy.
9853  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Another Triumph for the Greens on: February 09, 2011, 12:00:18 PM

To go with toilets that don’t flush and light bulbs that don’t light, we now have dishwashers that don’t wash.
Jan 31, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 19 • By JONATHAN V. LAST

My dishwasher is the Bosch SHE58C—an amazing machine. Stainless-steel front, concealed controls, six cycles to choose from. The manual runs a brisk 63 pages. When we got the Bosch, I read it cover to cover, highlighting and annotating as I went, marking the manufacturer’s preferred method of arranging dishes and the proper way to sit utensils in the dedicated wash basket. I took some pains to relay this information to my wife, though it did not please her as much as I imagined it would.

At first, my Bosch was wonderful. Quiet as a wind’s whisper, the dishes were so clean you could eat off of them. But a few months ago I started noticing problems. A fork would come out with food between the tines; a glass would have bits of grime stuck to the bottom. Surely this was a fluke? Alas, no. My dishwasher no longer shines. What went wrong?

It so happens that in the last six months, a lot of people have suddenly discovered their dishwashers don’t work as well as they used to. The problem, though, isn’t the dishwashers. It’s the soap. Last July, acceding to pressure from environmentalists, America’s dishwasher detergent manufacturers decided to change their formulas. And the new detergents stink.

One of the key ingredients in dish detergent is (or was) phosphorus. Phosphorus is a sociable element, bonding easily and well with others. In detergent, it strips food and grease off dirty dishes and breaks down calcium-based stains. It also keeps the dirt suspended in water, so it can’t reattach to dishes. Best of all, it prevents the washed-away grime and minerals from gumming up the inner-workings of your dishwasher. Traditionally, phosphorus was loaded into dish detergent in the form of phosphates, which are compounds of phosphorus bonded to oxygen. (PO4 if you’re keeping score at home.) Prior to last July, most detergents were around 8 percent elemental phosphorus. Now they’re less than 0.5 percent phosphorus.
9854  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Crater on: February 09, 2011, 11:54:34 AM

Just as things looked brighter for Obama, Americans' approval of his deficit handling craters

9855  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion on: February 09, 2011, 11:10:56 AM
Dealing with the MB is like dealing with moderate nazis.
9856  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: February 09, 2011, 11:08:37 AM

9857  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / U.S. handling of Egypt protests now alienating pretty much everyone on: February 08, 2011, 10:08:36 PM

**More bowing required?
9858  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why We Can't Rule Out an Egyptian Reign of Terror on: February 08, 2011, 09:58:00 PM,0

There are, of course, many different ways of categorizing historical revolutions. But for the purposes of understanding what is happening in Egypt -- and the challenges it may pose for the United States -- one simple, rough distinction may be especially useful. This is the distinction between revolutions that look more like 1688 and revolutions that look more like 1789. The first date refers to England's "Glorious Revolution," in which the Catholic, would-be absolute monarch James II was overthrown and replaced by the Protestant William and Mary and the English Parliament claimed powerful and enduring new forms of authority. The second is, of course, the date of the French Revolution, which began as an attempt to create a constitutional monarchy but ultimately led to the execution of King Louis XVI, the proclamation of the First French Republic, and the Reign of Terror.
9859  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Getting more expensive on: February 08, 2011, 09:51:42 PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Treasurys extended a weeklong fall on Tuesday after the government's auction of $32 billion in new debt met with tepid demand. The yield on the 10-year note rose to the highest level in 10 months.

The government auctioned three-year notes at a yield of 1.34 percent. That's the most expensive borrowing cost the government has had to pay on those notes since last May.

Foreign buyers showed weak interest in the sale. Indirect bidders, a rough proxy for foreign funds and banks, took 27 percent of the notes, the lowest share since May 2007.
9860  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NatGeo on pole shifts on: February 08, 2011, 04:52:23 PM

Long time coming.
9861  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pressure point on: February 08, 2011, 04:12:24 PM

Soaring Oil Price Threatens U.S. Economy
As chaos spreads through the Arab world, here's one way we can protect ourselves.
February 8, 2011 - by Robert Zubrin

In recent weeks, the price of oil has climbed above $90 per barrel. As chaos spreads through the Arab world, we could soon see much worse. With these facts in mind, it is essential that U.S. policymakers act to protect the U.S. economy from this ever-worsening trend.

The likely impact of a new oil price rise is shown in the graph below, which compares oil prices (adjusted for inflation to 2010 dollars) to the U.S. unemployment rate from 1970 to the present. It can be seen that every oil price hike for the past four decades, including those in 1973, 1979, 1991, 2001, and 2008, was followed shortly afterwards by a dramatic rise in American unemployment.
9862  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 08, 2011, 04:04:45 PM

America is to give the Russians details of Britain's Trident missiles under a new treaty, according to the latest WikiLeaks revelations.

The deal, which will be signed by U.S. President Barack Obama next week, will see Moscow given information about the missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in America.

The Daily Telegraph claims the Americans used the details of British nuclear secrets as a 'bargaining chip' to persuade Russia to sign the key treaty.

Read more:
9863  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 08, 2011, 03:56:06 PM
WikiLeaks cables: US agrees to tell Russia Britain's nuclear secrets
The US secretly agreed to give the Russians sensitive information on Britain’s nuclear deterrent to persuade them to sign a key treaty, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

**Much worse than the snubs of the Brits Barry has done up to now.
9864  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama lied, income died on: February 08, 2011, 02:03:43 PM

Fact-Checking President Obama's Claim: 'I Didn't Raise Taxes Once'
From Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Obama:

    O'REILLY: Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth.

    OBAMA: Absolutely.

    O'REILLY: You deny that?

    OBAMA: Absolutely. I didn't raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years.I lowered taxes for the last two years.”

**Read it all.
9865  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 08, 2011, 01:59:04 PM
I'd be willing to bet there are pools of mercury visible on the factory floors of the CFL bulb plants in China.
9866  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More Althouse vs. Tribe on: February 08, 2011, 01:24:46 PM

February 8, 2011
I have to take a 3rd shot at Larry Tribe's op-ed: That big word "choice."

Here's my first shot and here's my second shot at Larry Tribe's op-ed purporting to say why the Supreme Court will come down in favor of the constitutionality of the individual mandate to buy health insurance. I didn't set out to write one post after another about the op-ed, but I must go on to talk about his use of the word "choice" — which is monumentally important in the discussion of abortion rights. Tribe's op-ed has nothing to say about abortion. I wonder if he would have written it differently if abortion had crossed is mind, but I can't believe that a constitutional law professor would overlook the abortion-related significance of the word "choice."

Tribe's op-ed, as I wrote in the first post, rests very heavily on misrepresenting the Supreme Court's commerce power doctrine as referring to "commercial choices." In fact, the cases refer to "commercial activities," and a switch from "activity" to "choice" is immensely important in the health care litigation, in which opponents stress that the failure to buy insurance is inactivity, not activity, and therefore beyond even the broadest interpretations the Supreme Court has ever given to the Commerce Clause.

Tribe attempted to skew opinion by substituting "choice" for "activity," and I have called him on that. But I need to go further, because someone who uses words to get things done needs to be kept honest not only about shifting from one word to another, but also about changing the meaning of the same from case to case. Let's look at how Tribe talked about "choice" and health insurance and then see how that squares with what "choice" is supposed to mean in the abortion context.

In today's op-ed, Tribe wrote:

    Individuals who don’t purchase insurance they can afford have made a choice to take a free ride on the health care system. They know that if they need emergency-room care that they can’t pay for, the public will pick up the tab. This conscious choice carries serious economic consequences for the national health care market, which makes it a proper subject for federal regulation.

You can see that Tribe has given a very broad definition to the notion of choice. People bumble along, doing what they want, aware of the chance of an undesirable outcome, vaguely expecting to take advantage of an out that isn't very nice. That's a choice. It is something real and specific that the individual has done. Society can, as a group, based on our idea of the good, say to that person: We are now going to require you to take responsibility at that early decision point of yours. So Tribe says.

Now, apply that to abortion. If we take a similarly broad view of choice, we could say — as anti-abortion advocates do — that women who know they may be fertile have a choice when they go ahead and have sexual intercourse with a man. They can refrain from having sex, but if they go forward, they know that if they need emergency-room care get that they can’t pay for get pregnant, the public will pick up the tab they can get an abortion.

Of course, the Supreme Court case law does not present the woman's right to choose in terms of taking responsibility at that early point. It says:

    These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

The choice that matters is an elaborate process of high-level reflection that occurs after the woman becomes pregnant — that is, when it's too late to take the precautions that the majority might have liked her to take so that she would not show up with the demand for something it wants to prevent.

I realize there are many distinctions that can be made between health insurance and abortion, but there is so much sophistry around the word "choice" that I think it's important to concentrate on what choice means and how it matters in the law. It seems to me that society, acting through a legislature, may have a preference about when an individual should be required to make a choice, and that the individual, valuing autonomy, may want a broader range of choice than the majority would like to permit. When we think about government power and individual autonomy, how consistent must we be about what "choice" means?
9867  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: February 08, 2011, 01:14:52 PM

February 8, 2011
Professor Tribe would like you to know how nonpartisan the Supreme Court Justices are ... I mean, will be, when they decide the individual mandate question the way he would like.
The NYT has an op-ed by lawprof Larry Tribe that purports to demonstrate how obvious it supposedly is that the Supreme Court will find the health care law constitutional.

    The justices aren’t likely to be misled by the reasoning that prompted two of the four federal courts that have ruled on this legislation to invalidate it on the theory that Congress is entitled to regulate only economic “activity,” not “inactivity,” like the decision not to purchase insurance. This distinction is illusory. Individuals who don’t purchase insurance they can afford have made a choice to take a free ride on the health care system. They know that if they need emergency-room care that they can’t pay for, the public will pick up the tab. This conscious choice carries serious economic consequences for the national health care market, which makes it a proper subject for federal regulation.

Of course, the argument Tribe likes was presented, considered, and rejected in the 2 federal court cases. It's a perfectly comprehensible argument, but that doesn't make its success in the Supreme Court a sure thing. Acting as if it does, Tribe says "it’s distressing that many assume its fate will be decided by a partisan, closely divided Supreme Court." Oh, you terrible people who fail to bow to the obviousness of one side of a constitutional argument! You compound your sins by falling prey to the upsetting belief that the Supreme Court Justices are politically partisan!

    To imagine Justice Scalia would abandon that fundamental understanding of the Constitution’s necessary and proper clause because he was appointed by a Republican president is to insult both his intellect and his integrity.

That's not sarcasm. Read the whole thing. You'll see, it's not intentional sarcasm. It might be an attempt to sweet-talk Scalia into using the health-care litigation to score some political neutrality points, but it's not sarcasm. It's more: Ah! What a fine Justice, full of integrity and intellect, I will say Justice Scalia is if he decides this case my way!

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom many unfairly caricature as the “swing vote,” deserves better as well.

Oh! People are sooooo unfair to Justice Kennedy. I, Larry Tribe, will protect him from the scurrilous "swing vote" remarks people make.... when he decides this case my way!

    Yes, his opinion in the 5-4 decision invalidating the federal ban on possession of guns near schools is frequently cited by opponents of the health care law.

I hope they do a better job of pointing at the Lopez case than that NYT link does. Here's the right link, in case anyone cares.

    But that decision in 1995 drew a bright line between commercial choices, all of which Congress has presumptive power to regulate, and conduct like gun possession that is not in itself “commercial” or “economic,” however likely it might be to set off a cascade of economic effects.

Drew a bright line, eh? But the line, if you can call it a line, isn't about "commercial choices." That's Tribe's phrase — as he assures us the line is bright! — and what the Court said was "commercial activity" — which is why the argument about the distinction between activity and inactivity has been so important in the health care litigation. Tribe declares lines to be bright precisely at the point when he is shedding darkness. (If you think you can't shed darkness, I agree. I'm just riffing on the linguistic oddity of the lawyer's expression "bright line." Aren't easy-to-see lines usually dark — like black ink on white paper?)

    The decision about how to pay for health care is a quintessentially commercial choice in itself, not merely a decision that might have economic consequences.

"Quintessentially" is such a strong word that perhaps you will not notice that it's next to the phrase that is not "economic activity."

    Only a crude prediction that justices will vote based on politics rather than principle would lead anybody to imagine that Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Samuel Alito would agree with the judges in Florida and Virginia who have ruled against the health care law.

Oh, come on. Tribe's rhetorical move has become comical at this point. It reminds me of an old-fashioned mother exerting moral pressure on a child by telling him how sure she is that he is such a good little boy that he could never do whatever it is she doesn't want him to do. Put more directly, it's an assertion of authority: I'm telling you what's right and if you don't do it, you'll be wrong. Could the Justices possibly yield to pressure like that? It's crude to think that they would, isn't it? It's an insult both their intellect and their integrity.

And yet, Larry Tribe does think it, right? That's what's behind his rhetoric. I believe. Crudely.

UPDATE: I have 2 more posts about this op-ed, one dealing with Tribe's disapproval of people who fail to take responsibility and one dealing with the meaning of "choice."
9868  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: February 08, 2011, 01:03:54 AM
We should be scared. This administration is the living, breathing example of "credentialed, not educated". I think it's pretty clear that the empty suit has no clue what to do. The only thing in our favor at the moment is that the Egyptian power structure is much smarter and far more competent than ours.

Their strategy appears to be one of divide and conquer the disparate factions while outwaiting the crowds. It might just work.
9869  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: February 07, 2011, 11:13:30 PM

There are several different factors to consider here, amongst them:

1. Clever individuals/groups that understand psywar shape their message to appeal to the target audience. What words tend to resonate with us?

2. There is a bias shaped by the fact that our media has very few resources to draw upon that don't speak english. Those in Egypt that are proficient in english may well have a western philosophical orientation that is atypical of the population. Were an arab language media organization to interview arabic speakers in the US, do you think those arabic speakers here would tend to be valid representations of mainstream American opinions? If you doubt my description of Egyptian opinion, scroll back and read up on the validated polls done in years past.

3. In making strategic choices, one must choose between the real choices offered and not the theoretical best choice one might wish for. Best wishes and unrealistic hope is what keeps the lights on in the casinos in Vegas. A lack of a decisive, pragmatic leadership is why we must worry about a nuclear Iran. An Islamic Republic of Egypt is even more catastrophic in the long term.
9870  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: February 07, 2011, 07:41:53 PM
And if the majority wish to live under sharia, then what?
9871  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: February 07, 2011, 04:41:46 PM
I'd love to see Egypt become a beacon of freedom in the arab world. The dominoes could then fall in another direction. Egypt is the center of gravity, and will tend to pull surrounding nations in whatever way it moves.

I think the Egyptian military has a major hand to play here, and my hope is that they keep Egypt a friend to us and at least the cold peace with Israel when they contribute to the post-Mubarak government.
9872  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 07, 2011, 04:02:25 PM

Egypt could fall into the hands of radical Islamists as a result of the country's uprising, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

Netanyahu warned about the result of the riots in Egypt over the past two weeks while speaking at an event for European diplomats held at the Knesset on Monday.

"Egyptians can choose a state with secular reforms. However, there is also another possibility that the Islamists will exploit the situation in order to gain governance over the country and lead it backward," the Prime Minister said.

"The third possibility is that [Egypt] will go in the direction of Iran," Netanyahu said, adding that they would "oppress the country and threaten all those surrounding it."
9873  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 07, 2011, 02:45:06 PM
Don't go stupid places and do stupid things with stupid people.

I find it hard to muster up much sympathy for these individuals. No, they weren't spies, yes the mullahs are our enemies. We have much bigger and better reasons than them to wage war on Iran, but nothing but hugs will be forthcoming from this president.
9874  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: February 07, 2011, 02:23:23 PM

What of the Copts? What if other arab nations, including the Saudis and Jordan fall into the clutches of the Jihadists? The purpose of Iraq was to create a viable alternative to either the jihadis and the strongmen. Thrusting Egypt into the arms of the jihadists is not consistent with that policy.
9875  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: February 07, 2011, 01:58:36 PM
But what of the crime-free paradise gun control laws have made in Chicago?
9876  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Best Nat'l Anthem rendition on: February 07, 2011, 11:23:45 AM

I still get chills and tear up a little seeing this. Too bad Whitney threw her talent away.
9877  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Declaration of Independence on: February 07, 2011, 11:15:31 AM

This was one of my favorite parts of the Super Bowl. 

It was the best part. A reminder that freedom, and silly things like sports are thing we have because people stood up and stand up for this nation today.
9878  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 07, 2011, 11:13:01 AM
A narcissistic, overrated bag of hot air. Obama was there as well.
9879  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What's the left's position? on: February 07, 2011, 10:58:50 AM
**Another great bit from VDH

My three-week victory, your seven-year mess

It is difficult trying to figure out what the left’s position is on democracy and the Middle East. Here’s a brief effort.

Once upon a time, a number of prominent liberals — among them Thomas Friedman, Fareed Zakaria, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid — thought it was a good idea to remove Saddam Hussein and supplant his Baathist rule with democracy. I say that with confidence since one can watch the speeches of the senators in question on YouTube debating the 23-writ authorizations to use force in October 2002, in addition to reading the New York Times and Newsweek editorials between 2002-3 of prominent liberal columnists. The New Republic stable of authors was particularly in favor of the Bush-Cheney “just war” to invade Iraq. Jonathan Chait (who would go on to author an infamous essay about why “I hate George Bush”) and Peter Beinhart were especially hard on the fellow left for not joining the Bush effort.

By early 2004, almost all that liberal support had entirely dissipated, predicated on two developments. First, a presidential election was just months away and Bush’s war was no longer “mission accomplished” but turning into a campaign liability. Second, a resistance had formed under hard-core Islamists that was beginning to take a heavy toll on American forces. No WMD had been found, and it was now easy to suggest that one could withdraw support for building democracy in Iraq because two of the 23 writs for going to war were no longer operative, the effort was probably lost, and George W. Bush might well deservedly not be reelected.

No matter. Bush pressed on. His polls sunk yet he was barely reelected. His ongoing “democracy” agenda got little support from those who once had enthusiastically praised the Iraqi adventure and had proclaimed their belief in universal human rights. Few came to Sec. of State Rice’s support when in 2005 she chastised Hosni Mubarak’s regime to grant fundamental rights. Fewer saw any connection between Saddam’s fate and America’s pro-democratic stance and the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, the fright of Mr. Gaddafi who gave up his WMD arsenal, or the sudden willingness of Pakistan to harness Dr. Khan.

Instead, “spreading democracy” was seen by the left as a wounded George Bush’s quirky tic. His talk about “universal” freedom was ridiculed more as a manifestation of a sort of evangelical Christianity than genuine political idealism. Bush’s zeal for democracy, then, was orphaned: the right was now realist again (“they are either incapable of democracy or not worth the effort to implant it”) and the left multicultural (“who are we of all people to say what sort of government others should employ?”).

**Read it all.
9880  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / On a pale, green horse? on: February 07, 2011, 07:39:31 AM

Look at 1:15

Weird. I'd like to see what a forensic video analyst says.
9881  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / It's good for the earth! on: February 06, 2011, 03:26:41 PM

Unintended consequences.
9882  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 06, 2011, 01:57:07 PM
" I have bought hundreds of CFL light bulbs,"

You ready to deal with the toxic aftermath of a broken CFL bulb, Doug?   evil
9883  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BATFE-WTF? on: February 06, 2011, 11:53:17 AM,0,6169639.story

Guns tracked by firearms bureau found at firefight scene
Two AK-47s bought in Arizona were used in a firefight that left a Border Patrol agent dead last month. The discovery comes amid a growing congressional investigation into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.


PHOENIX - A U.S. senator is examining a claim that two guns sold in purchases sanctioned by federal firearms agents were later used in a December shootout that left a Border Patrol agent dead near the Arizona-Mexico border.

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said in a letter provided Monday to The Associated Press he had received information that appears to partially corroborate the claim received by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the guns.

"Members of the Judiciary Committee have received numerous allegations that the ATF sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw buyers, who then allegedly transported these weapons throughout the Southwest border area and into Mexico," reads a letter sent Thursday from Grassley to Kenneth Melson, acting director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The letter does not elaborate on the role possible of federal agents in the sale of the guns, and it could not be determined if the purchases were part of a sting operation.
9884  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 06, 2011, 11:34:18 AM
The climate changes. Sometimes it's warmer, sometimes it's colder. Were "Anthropogenic global warming" real, there would be no need to falsify data, as has been done.
9885  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 06, 2011, 11:25:43 AM
Indeed, BD.


It's important to focus like a laser beam on the really stupid overreaches by the federal gov't. Things that the average person would look at and agree with.

Like this:
9886  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: February 06, 2011, 09:42:07 AM
It's my understanding  Pima county has a large infestation, I mean population of liberals. So what if the DA and Sheriff wage a legal war against the Tea Party there and get re-elected as a result?
9887  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The MB and terminal decline on: February 06, 2011, 09:29:02 AM

A Moving Letter from Salim Mansur
Claire Berlinski, Ed. · 12 hours ago

Salim Mansur sent me the link to his latest column about Egypt. It is excellent, but what struck me even more was the note he sent me with it. I asked his permission to publish it, which he kindly granted me.

    Dear Claire:

    Below is my column from today on Egypt. Since I do not have an opportunity to write in public more than one column per week, I am limited to what I can say. Extremely distressed by the crew in Washington, and in most European capitals. Media is so corrupted by left-leaning thinking that there is not much of an analysis to be expected in the media that is now competing with facebook, twitters, etc. The dumbing down of thinking is itself a huge problem the West is facing now as it tries pathetically to undertstand/explain politics and history of other cultures when it no longer has faith in its own civilizational values. I despair, and so I follow Samuel Pepys who confined himself to his diaries while London burned and I am trying to devote my time to reading and writing of my own (that of course I might not be able to publish, and even if published few will read).

    I am more convinced now, as I wasn't when Paul Kennedy wrote about the rise and fall of great powers, that the West has gone over the tipping point in its terminal decline. That intelligent people, or people who claim to be intelligent, (I have in mind the talking heads in the U.S. media such as Chris Matthews or Fareed Zakaria) cannot make the difference between the sham of the Muslim Brotherhood talking about freedom and democracy and the generic thirst in man to be free. These are the people who have like the Bourbons learned nothing and forgotten nothing. They are glibly about to put the Lenins of our time into trains heading for Moscows of our time, they find nothing odd that they are pushing for the Muslim Brotherhood to be taken into governing when everything needs to be done to keep the Muslim Brotherhood out even as one carefully negotiate the long historic transition of Arab societies from tribal autorcracy and military dictatorships to representative rule and constitutionally limited government. I read you when I can, and I wish that you and others like you were closer to the main media control in the West, or in government.

    Take care, and God bless.

9888  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 06, 2011, 09:17:31 AM

"This stance is just plain silly.  Interstate commerce clause?  Airline traffic certainly pertains.  FAA?  I have no problem with him, or anyone for that matter, questioning national government involvement in regulation.  But he should pick his fights with more care. "

Yup. If there is anything today that is clearly interstate commerce, aircraft would fall into that definition.
9889  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / How does the "Supremacy of the Sheriff" look now? on: February 05, 2011, 08:12:59 PM
**Not that Holder's DOJ will do anything about this, if true.....
9890  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Food and failed Arab states on: February 05, 2011, 10:19:40 AM

Food and failed Arab states
By Spengler

Even Islamists have to eat. It is unclear whether President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt will survive, or whether his nationalist regime will be replaced by an Islamist, democratic, or authoritarian state. What is certain is that it will be a failed state. Amid the speculation about the shape of Arab politics to come, a handful of observers, for example economist Nourel Roubini, have pointed to the obvious: Wheat prices have almost doubled in the past year.

Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer, beholden to foreign providers for nearly half its total food consumption. Half of

Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Food comprises almost half the country's consumer price index, and much more than half of spending for the poorer half of the country. This will get worse, not better.

Not the destitute, to be sure, but the aspiring and frustrated young, confronted the riot police and army on the streets of Egyptian cities last week. The uprising in Egypt and Tunisia were not food riots; only in Jordan have demonstrators made food the main issue. Rather, the jump in food prices was the wheat-stalk that broke the camel's back. The regime's weakness, in turn, reflects the dysfunctional character of the country. 35% of all Egyptians, and 45% of Egyptian women can't read.

Nine out of ten Egyptian women suffer genital mutilation. US President Barack Obama said Jan. 29, "The right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny … are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere." Does Obama think that genital mutilation is a human rights violation? To expect Egypt to leap from the intimate violence of traditional society to the full rights of a modern democracy seems whimsical.

In fact, the vast majority of Egyptians has practiced civil disobedience against the Mubarak regime for years. The Mubarak government announced a "complete" ban on genital mutilation in 2007, the second time it has done so - without success, for the Egyptian population ignored the enlightened pronouncements of its government. Do Western liberals cheer at this quiet revolt against Mubarak's authority?

Suzanne Mubarak, Egypt's First Lady, continues to campaign against the practice, which she has denounced as "physical and psychological violence against children." Last May 1, she appeared at Aswan City alongside the provincial governor and other local officials to declare the province free of it. And on October 28, Mrs Mubarak inaugurated an African conference on stopping genital mutilation.

The most authoritative Egyptian Muslim scholars continue to recommend genital mutilation. Writing on the web site IslamOnline, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi - the president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars - explains:

    The most moderate opinion and the most likely one to be correct is in favor of practicing circumcision in the moderate Islamic way indicated in some of the Prophet's hadiths - even though such hadiths are not confirmed to be authentic. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to a midwife: "Reduce the size of the clitoris but do not exceed the limit, for that is better for her health and is preferred by husbands."

That is not a Muslim view (the practice is rare in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan), but an Egyptian Muslim view. In the most fundamental matters, President and Mrs Mubarak are incomparably more enlightened than the Egyptian public. Three-quarters of acts of genital mutilation in Egypt are executed by physicians.

What does that say about the character of the country's middle class? Only one news dispatch among the tens of thousands occasioned by the uprising mentions the subject; the New York Times, with its inimitable capacity to obscure content, wrote on January 27, "To the extent that Mr. Mubarak has been willing to tolerate reforms, the cable said, it has been in areas not related to public security or stability.

For example, he has given his wife latitude to campaign for women's rights and against practices like female genital mutilation and child labor, which are sanctioned by some conservative Islamic groups." The authors, Mark Landler and Andrew Lehren, do not mention that 90% or more of Egyptian women have been so mutilated. What does a country have to do to shock the New York Times? Eat babies boiled?
9891  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No Idea Glenn Beck had fans in Egypt..... on: February 05, 2011, 08:41:40 AM

Glenn Beck's fault.
9892  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 05, 2011, 08:40:23 AM
Let's see if NBC/SeeBS/ABC/CNN cover it.
9893  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Perhaps the greatest TV show ever on: February 05, 2011, 12:16:33 AM

I'm pretty jaded (shocking, I know) but this show had me in tears I laughed so hard.
9894  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cloward-Pivening our allies now? on: February 04, 2011, 05:09:02 PM

Loss for words. WTF!
9895  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 04, 2011, 02:04:51 PM
Funny how not too long ago, Obama was respectful towards Mubarak and the left lectured us on not interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign nations.
9896  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: February 04, 2011, 01:39:27 PM
I think the only reason there is anything of a middle class left in California is that underwater homeowners don't want to default or take the loss.
9897  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More civility from the left on: February 04, 2011, 01:36:01 PM

More leftist goodness.
9898  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 04, 2011, 01:10:48 PM

The FBI had an informant inside the original NY/NJ AQ cell, but decided the 2000 bucks a month (or so) wasn't worthwhile and cut him loose. Other USG entities also had pieces of the puzzle, but no one put them together.
9899  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / They need to read this forum on: February 04, 2011, 09:58:20 AM
The problem is Egypt is very brittle. Were the Muslim Brotherhood to take over, things for the Copts, as well as average Egyptians would be much worse off. Keep in mind that those who could take power in Egypt see the pyramids and other artifacts there as something they'd like to destroy, just as the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas in Bamiyan. And, like the talibs, the destruction of artifacts would be the least of the horrible things done by them.

Egypt used to be very westernized, now salafism is taking deep root in the population. This does not bode well for the future. Classic Egyptian things, like belly dancing are going away because they are "unislamic".

Almost like I knew what I was talking about.
9900  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Arab revolution and Western decline on: February 04, 2011, 08:06:11 AM

The Arab revolution and Western decline

By Ari Shavit

Two huge processes are happening right before our eyes. One is the Arab liberation revolution. After half a century during which tyrants have ruled the Arab world, their control is weakening. After 40 years of decaying stability, the rot is eating into the stability. The Arab masses will no longer accept what they used to accept. The Arab elites will no longer remain silent.

Processes that have been roiling beneath the surface for about a decade are suddenly bursting out in an intifada of freedom. Modernization, globalization, telecommunications and Islamization have created a critical mass that cannot be stopped. The example of democratic Iraq is awakening others, and Al Jazeera's subversive broadcasts are fanning the flames. And so the Tunisian bastille fell, the Cairo bastille is falling and other Arab bastilles will fall.

The scenes are similar to the Palestinian intifada of 1987, but the collapse recalls the Soviet collapse in Eastern Europe of 1989. No one knows where the intifada will lead. No one knows whether it will bring democracy, theocracy or a new kind of democracy. But things will never again be the same.

The old order in the Middle East is crumbling. Just as the officers' revolution in the 1950s brought down the Arab monarchism that had relied on the colonial powers, the 2011 revolution in the square is bringing down the Arab tyrants who were dependent on the United States.

The second process is the acceleration of the decline of the West. For some 60 years the West gave the world imperfect but stable order. It built a kind of post-imperial empire that promised relative quiet and maximum peace. The rise of China, India, Brazil and Russia, like the economic crisis in the United States, has made it clear that the empire is beginning to fade.

And yet, the West has maintained a sort of international hegemony. Just as no replacement has been found for the dollar, none has been found for North Atlantic leadership. But Western countries' poor handling of the Middle East proves they are no longer leaders. Right before our eyes the superpowers are turning into palaver powers.

There are no excuses for the contradictions. How can it be that Bush's America understood the problem of repression in the Arab world, but Obama's America ignored it until last week? How can it be that in May 2009, Hosni Mubarak was an esteemed president whom Barack Obama respected, and in January 2011, Mubarak is a dictator whom even Obama is casting aside? How can it be that in June 2009, Obama didn't support the masses who came out against the zealot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while now he stands by the masses who are coming out against the moderate Mubarak?

**Read it all
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