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1  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: April 17, 2014, 09:06:21 AM
Woof All,

We are coming out of hibernation after a long cold winter in Connecticut.  It actually snowed yesterday!

The time off from teaching gave me the opportunity to dive back into regular yoga training.  I used it as a chance to extract some movements that focus on lower back and hip rehabilitation/ maintenance, and combine them into an easy to follow progression for students to learn.

As usual, DBMA Connecticut will be focusing on Combining Foot and Stick Work, Double Stick, and Edged Weapons training this Spring.  Classes will be starting up again this weekend.

C- Bad Dog
RussEsq@gmail.com
DBMA Connecticut
2  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / How and Why to Be a Leader (Not a Wannabe) on: August 21, 2013, 08:46:48 PM
Here is an excellent article about how to step up and make things better around you.  I put this in martial arts topics because it has to do with tactical awareness of what is going on around you and how to influence it to your and others benefit.

It isn't about what you have, and how much — but what you do, and why — if you're to live a life that matters.

Woof,
Russ

How and Why to Be a Leader (Not a Wannabe)
by Umair Haque  |  12:00 PM July 8, 2013

We need a new generation of leaders. And we need it now.

We're in the midst of a Great Dereliction — a historic failure of leadership, precisely when we need it most. Hence it's difficult, looking around, to even remember what leadership is. We're surrounded by people who are expert at winning — elections, deals, titles, bonuses, bailouts, profit. And often, we're told: they're the ones we should look up to — because it's the spoils and loot that really matter.

But you know and I know: mere winners are not true leaders — not just because gaming broken systems is nothing but an empty charade of living; but because life is not a game. It isn't about what you have, and how much — but what you do, and why — if you're to live a life that matters.

Leadership — true leadership —is a lost art. Leaders lead us not to a place — but to a different kind of destination: to our better, truer selves. It is an act of love in the face of an uncertain world.

Perhaps, then, that's why there's so little leadership around: because we're afraid to even say the word love — let alone to feel it, weigh it, measure it, allow it, admit it, believe it, and so be transformed by it.

Wannabes — who I'll contrast leaders with in this essay — are literally just that: wannabes. They want to be who leaders are, but cannot: they want the benefits of leadership, without the price; they want the respect, dignity, and title of leadership, without leading people to lives that matter; they want the love leaders earn, act by painful act, without, in return, having the courage, humility, and wisdom to love.

When you think about chiefs, presidents, and prime ministers that way, I'd suggest that most of our so-called leaders are wannabes: those who want to be seen as leaders, without leading us anywhere but into stagnation, decline, fracture, fear, apathy, and comfortable, cheap pleasures that numb us to it all. Leaders — true leaders, those worthy of the word — do the very opposite: they lead us to truth, worth, nobility, wonder, imagination, joy, heartbreak, challenge, rebellion, meaning. Through love, they lead us to lives that matter. Wannabes impoverish us. Leaders enrich us.

So here are my six ways to start being a (real) leader — and stop being just another wannabe.

Obey — or revolt? Are you responding to incentives — or reshaping them? Here's the simplest difference between leaders and wannabes. Wannabes respond dully, predictably, neatly, to "incentives," like good little rational robots. They do it for the money and end up stifled by the very lives they choose. Leaders play a very different role. They don't just dully, robotically "respond" to "incentives" — their job is a tiny bit of revolution. And so they must reshape incentives, instead of merely responding to them. They have principles they hold dearer than next year's bonus — and so they think bigger and truer than merely about what they're "incentivized" to do. If you're easily bought off from what you really hold dear with a slightly bigger bonus, here's the plain fact: you're not a true leader.

Conform — or rebel? Are you breaking the rules or following them? The rules are there for a reason: to stifle deviation, preserve the status quo, and bring the outliers right back down to the average. That's a wonderful idea if you're running a factory churning out widgets — but it's a terrible notion if you're trying to do anything else. And so leaders must shatter the status quo by breaking the rules, leading by example,= so that followers know the rules not just can, but must be broken. If you're nail-bitingly following the rules, here's the score: you're not a true leader.

Value — or values? Why do people follow true leaders? Because leaders promise to take them on worthwhile journeys. The wannabe creates "value" for shareholders, for clients, for "consumers". But the leader creates what's more true, more enduring, more resonant: lives of real human worth. And they must do so by evoking in people values that matter, not merely "value" which is worthless. Which would you choose? In a heartbeat, most people choose the latter, because value without values is what reality TV is to a great book: empty, vacant, narrow, arid. If you're creating value — without setting values — you're not a leader: you're just a wannabe.

Vision — or truth? The wannabe sets a vision. With grandiloquent gesture and magnificent panorama, the vision glitters. The leader has a harder task: to tell the truth, as plain as day, as obvious as dawn, as sure as sunrise, as inescapable as midnight. Vision is nice, and many think that a Grand Vision is what inspires people. They're wrong. If you really want to inspire people, tell them the truth: there's nothing that sets people free like the truth. The leader tells the truth because his fundamental task is that of elevation: to bring forth in people their better selves. And while we can climb towards a Grand Vision, it's also true that the very act of perpetually climbing may be what imprisons us in lives we don't really want (hi, Madison Ave, Wall St, and Silicon Valley). Truth is what elevates us; what opens us up to possibility; what produces in us the sense that we must become who were meant to be if we are to live worthy lives — and one of the surest tests of whether you're a true leader is whether you're merely (yawn, shrug, eyeroll) slickly selling a Grand Vision, or, instead, helping bring people a little closer to the truth. And if you have to ask what "truth" is (newsflash: climate change is real, the global economy is still borked, greed isn't good, bankers shouldn't earn a billion times what teachers do, CEOs shouldn't get private jets for life for running companies into the ground, the sky really is blue) — guess what? You're definitely not a leader.

Archery — or architecture? Wannabes are something like metric-maximizing robots. Given a set of numbers they must "hit," they beaver away trying to hit them. The leader knows their job is very different: not merely to maximize existing metrics, which are often part of the problem (hi, GDP, shareholder value), but to reimagine them. The leader's job is, fundamentally, not merely to "hit a target" — but to redesign the playing field. It's architecture, not mere archery. If you're hitting a target, you're not a leader. You're just another performer, in an increasingly meaningless game.

love — or Love. Many of us, it's true, choose jobs we "love" over those we don't, readily sacrificing a few bucks here and there in the process. But this isn't love as much as it is enjoyment. Love — true love, the real thing, big-L Love — is every bit as much painful as it is pleasant. It transforms us. And that is the surest hallmark of a true leader. They have a thirst not merely for love — but to love; a thirst that cannot be slaked merely through accomplishments, prizes, or honors. It can only, only be slaked through transformation; and that is why true leaders must, despite the price, through the pain, into the heart of very heartbreak itself, lead.

And yet.

We're afraid, you and I, of this word: love. Afraid of love because love is the most dangerously explosive substance the world has ever known, will ever know, and can ever know. Love is what frees the enslaved and enslaves the free. Because love, finally, is all: all we have, when we face our final moments, and come to know that life, at last, must have been greater than us if we are to feel as if it has mattered.

The old men say: children, you must never, ever believe in love. Love is heresy. Believe in our machines. Believe in operation and calculation. Place your faith in being their instruments. Our perfect machines will bring you perfection.

I believe lives as cold as steel will only yield a world as cruel as ice. I believe cool rationality and perfect calculation can take us only a tiny distance towards the heart of what is good, true, and timelessly noble about life. Because there is no calculus of love. There is no equation for greatness. There is no algorithm for imagination, virtue, and purpose.

Even a perfect machine is just a machine.

If we are to lead one another, we will need the heresy of love. We must shout at yesterday in the language of love if we are to lead one another. Not just to tomorrow, but to a worthier destination: that which we find in one another.

It's often said that leaders "inspire". But that's only half the story. Leaders inspire us because they bring out the best in us. They evoke in us our fuller, better, truer, nobler selves. And that is why we love them — not merely because they paint portraits of a better lives, but because they impel us to be the creators of our own.

http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2013/07/how_and_why_to_be_a_leader_not.html
3  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Top Dog & Crafty Dog Demo, 2002? on: November 05, 2012, 12:46:23 PM
Wow... a blast from the past!

This was September 2001 I believe.

Thank you Guro C. for letting me participate.

I was so surprised (and honored) when Top Dog called me up.

I was just passing through LA on the way to a job interview in San Diego.

That's what happens when you "show up."
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Crime Committed in France, by France on: August 21, 2012, 08:58:05 PM
The Crime Committed in France, by France

François Hollande

AP Photo/Jacques Brinon Pool

French President François Hollande, center, arrives at the Jewish memorial prior to ceremonies to mark the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv roundup, Paris, July 22, 2012

The following is the speech given by President François Hollande to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv Roundup on July 16 and 17, 1942, when the French police arrested 13,152 Jewish men, women, and children from Paris and its suburbs, and confined them to the Vélodrome d’Hiver, a bicycle stadium in Paris. They were later deported to German concentration camps. Eight hundred and eleven survived the war. President Hollande delivered his speech at the original site of the demolished velodrome on July 22, 2012.

Prime Minister, President of the National Assembly, ambassadors, Mayor of Paris, President of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, Chief

 NYRblog : Roving thoughts and provocations from our
1 of 7 8/21/12 6:30 PM

The Crime Committed in France, by France by François Holland... http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/aug/18/france-hol...

Rabbi, representatives of the religions, ladies and gentlemen:

We’ve gathered this morning to remember the horror of a crime, express the sorrow of those who experienced the tragedy, and speak of the dark hours of collaboration, our history, and therefore France’s responsibility.

We’re also here to pass on the memory of the Holocaust—of which the roundups were the first stage—in order to fight the battle against oblivion and testify to new generations what barbarity is capable of doing and what resources humanity may possess to defeat it.

Seventy years ago, on July 16, 1942, early in the morning, 13,152 men, women, and children were arrested in their homes. Childless couples and single people were interned in Drancy, where the museum created by the Mémorial de la Shoah will stand in the autumn.

The others were taken to the Vélodrome d’Hiver. Thrown together for five days in inhuman conditions, they were taken from there to the camps of Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande.

A clear directive had been given by the Vichy administration. “The children must not leave in the same convoys as the parents.” So, after heartrending separations, they departed—the parents on one side, the children on the other—for Auschwitz- Birkenau, where the deportees of Drancy had preceded them by a few days.

There, they were murdered. Solely for being Jews.

This crime took place here, in our capital, in our streets, the courtyards of our buildings, our stairways, our school playgrounds.

It was to prepare the way for other roundups, in Marseille and throughout France—in other words, on both sides of the demarcation line. There were also other deportations, notably of gypsies.

The infamy of the Vel d’Hiv was part of an undertaking that had no precedent and has no comparison: the Holocaust, the attempt to annihilate all the Jews on the European continent.

Seventy-six thousand French Jews were deported to the death camps. Only 2,500 returned.

Those women, men, and children could not have known the fate that awaited them.

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The Crime Committed in France, by France by François Holland... http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/aug/18/france-hol...

They could not even have imagined it. They trusted in France.

They believed that the country of the great Revolution and the City of Light would be a safe haven for them. They loved the Republic with a passion born of gratitude. Indeed, it was in Paris in 1791, under the National Constituent Assembly, that Jews had become fully fledged citizens for the first time in Europe. Later, others had found in France a land of welcome, a chance at life, a promise of protection.

Seventy years ago, this promise and this trust were trampled underfoot.

I would like to recall the words that the [future] chief rabbi of France, Jacob Kaplan, wrote to Marshal Pétain in October 1940, after the introduction of the despicable Statute of the Jews. “As the victims of measures that undermine our human dignity and our honor as Frenchmen, we express our profound faith in the spirit of justice of the Eternal France. We know that the ties uniting us with the great French family are too strong to be broken.”

Therein lies the betrayal.

Across time, beyond grief, my presence this morning bears witness to France’s determination to protect the memory of her lost children and honor these souls who died but have no graves, whose only tomb is our memory.

That is the purpose of the requirement set by the Republic: that the names of those martyred victims should not fall into oblivion.

We owe the Jewish martyrs of the Vélodrome d’Hiver the truth about what happened seventy years ago.

The truth is that French police—on the basis of the lists they had themselves drawn up—undertook to arrest the thousands of innocent people trapped on July 16, 1942. And that the French gendarmerie escorted them to the internment camps.

The truth is that no German soldiers—not a single one—were mobilized at any stage of the operation.

The truth is that this crime was committed in France, by France.

To his great credit, President Jacques Chirac recognized this truth, in this very spot on July 16, 1995.

“France,” he said, “France, country of the Enlightenment and human rights, land of

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The Crime Committed in France, by France by François Holland... http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/aug/18/france-hol...

welcome and asylum, France, that day, was committing the irreparable.”

But the truth is also that the crime of the Vel d’Hiv was committed against France, against her values, against her principles, against her ideal.

Honor was saved by the Righteous, by all those who were able to rise up against barbarism, by those anonymous heroes who hid a neighbor here, helped another there, and risked their lives to save those of innocent people. By all those French people who enabled three quarters of France’s Jews to survive.

France’s honor was embodied by General de Gaulle, who stood up on June 18, 1940, to continue the struggle.

France’s honor was defended by the Resistance, the shadow army that would not resign itself to shame and defeat.

France was represented on the battlefields, with our flag, by the soldiers of the Free French Forces.

She was also served by the Jewish institutions, like the Oeuvre de secours aux enfants [Children’s Welfare Organization], which secretly organized the rescue of more than five thousand children and took in orphans after the Liberation.

The truth does not divide people. It brings them together. In that spirit, this day of commemoration was established by François Mitterrand, and the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah was created under Lionel Jospin’s government. Set up under that same government, with Jacques Chirac, was the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation Resulting from Anti-Semitic Legislation in Force During the Occupation, whose aim was to put right what still could be put right.

In the chain of our collective history, it now falls to me to continue this common duty of remembrance, truth, and hope.

It begins with passing on the memory. Ignorance is the source of many abuses. We cannot tolerate the fact that two out of three young French people do not know what the Vel d’Hiv roundup was.

The Republic’s schools—in which I hereby voice my confidence—have a mission: to instruct, educate, teach about the past, make it known and understood in all its dimensions. The Holocaust is on the curriculum of the final primary and junior

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The Crime Committed in France, by France by François Holland... http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/aug/18/france-hol...

school years and the second lycée year.

There must not be a single primary school, junior school, or lycée in France where it is not taught. There must not be a single institution where this history is not fully understood, respected, and pondered over. For the Republic, there cannot and will not be any lost memories.

I personally shall see to this.

The challenge is to fight tirelessly against all forms of falsification of history: not only the insult of Holocaust denial, but also the temptation of relativism. Indeed, to pass on the history of the Shoah is to teach how uniquely appalling it was. By its nature, its scale, its methods, and the terrifying precision of its execution, that crime remains an abyss unique in human history. We must constantly remind ourselves of that singularity.

Finally, passing on this memory means preserving all its lessons. It means understanding how the ignominy was possible then, in order that it may never recur in the future.

The Shoah was not created from a vacuum and did not emerge from nowhere. True, it was set in motion by the unprecedented and terrifying combination of single- mindedness in its racist frenzy and industrial rationality in its execution. But it was also made possible by centuries of blindness, stupidity, lies, and hatred. It was preceded by many warning signs, which failed to alert people’s consciences.

We must never let our guard down. No nation, no society, nobody is immune from evil. Let us not forget this verdict by Primo Levi on his persecutors. “Save the exceptions, they were not monsters, they had our faces.” Let us remain alert, so that we may detect the return of monstrosity under its most harmless guises.

I am aware of the fears expressed by some of you. I want to respond to them.

Conscious of this history, the Republic will pursue all anti-Semitic acts with the utmost determination, but also all remarks that may lead France’s Jews even to feel uneasy in their own country.

In this area, nothing is immaterial. Everything will be fought with the last ounce of energy. Being silent about anti-Semitism, dissimulating it, explaining it already means accepting it.

5 of 7 8/21/12 6:30 PM

The Crime Committed in France, by France by François Holland... http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/aug/18/france-hol...

The safety of France’s Jews is not just a matter for Jews, it is a matter for all French people, and I intend it to be guaranteed under all circumstances and in all places.

Four months ago, in Toulouse, children died for the same reason as those of the Vel d’Hiv: because they were Jews.

Anti-Semitism is not an opinion, it is an abhorrence. For that reason, it must first of all be faced directly. It must be named and recognized for what it is. Wherever it manifests itself, it will be unmasked and punished.

All ideologies of exclusion, all forms of intolerance, all fanaticism, all xenophobia that seek to develop the mentality of hatred will find their way blocked by the Republic.

Every Saturday morning, in every French synagogue, at the end of the service, the prayer of France’s Jews rings out, the prayer they utter for the homeland they love and want to serve. “May France live in happiness and prosperity. May unity and harmony make her strong and great. May she enjoy lasting peace and preserve her spirit of nobility among the nations.”

All of France must be worthy of this spirit of nobility.

To tirelessly teach historical truth, to scrupulously ensure respect for the values of the Republic, to constantly recall the demand for religious tolerance, within the frame of our laïque [secular] laws never to give way on the principles of freedom and human dignity, always to further the promise of equality and emancipation. Those are the measures we must collectively assign ourselves.

In thinking of the lives never allowed to blossom, of those children deprived of a future, those destinies cut short, we must raise still further the demands we make of our own lives. By refusing indifference, neglect, and complacency, we shall make ourselves stronger together.

It is by being clear-sighted about our own history that France, thanks to the spirit of harmony and unity, will best promote her values, here and throughout the world.

Long live the Republic! Long live France!

August 18, 2012, 9:35 a.m.

6 of 7 8/21/12 6:30 PM

The Crime Committed in France, by France by François Holland... http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/aug/18/france-hol...

Copyright © 1963-2012 NYREV, Inc. All rights reserved.
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: July 26, 2012, 11:47:20 AM
Stratfor's policy on China is that its domestic stability in terms of rural uprising and political dissent will dictate whether or not it can successfully assert itself internationally.

This is wishful thinking on Stratfor's part, but has a historical basis in CHinese society.

China has a ton of subs that spreads its sea coverage, but not an effective long range fleet yet.  However, that is changing fast.

Japan will need to assert itself sooner rather than later.
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: July 26, 2012, 09:46:43 AM
Japan has a modern Naval force with a lot of ships and interaction with US Naval Operations in the Pacific.  I would not be surprised if they step up their activities in the region to assert their power in the face of an increasing Chinese threat, a threat that has not yet matured in terms of its physical assets (i.e.. air craft carriers).
7  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: July 25, 2012, 11:59:33 AM
Road Run

Bolton Lake Kora- clockwise run around the Lake (6.5 miles/ 10.5 km.). 

From a current Marine Corps Officer and former U.S. National Champion in Rowing:

It is all about just getting out there and getting after it. Training for running is just like training for any other endurance type activity. Go longer but slower to get your aerobic system used to going for that long, then go faster and shorter to build muscle / push your anaerobic system to handle the pace. The two should meet in the middle and you will be all set.

Cool down-

160 meter swim with 54 lbs. of weight on my back (i.e. one almost seven year old young lady- Fei Fei Iger)!

8  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: July 21, 2012, 01:20:20 PM
DBMA Connecticut

Road Runs-  July 21st, 2012

1) Morning- Vernon Road to Bolton Road roundtrip to the Bolton Lake Dam wall (1.5 km, slow & smooth, untimed).

2) Early Afternoon- Vernon Road to Quarry Road (up steep hill), (2.6 km, moderate pace, 15:01).

Cool down- swim in the Lake (160 meters).
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: July 19, 2012, 07:45:16 AM
This is a piece I wrote in response to a request from a senior State Department officer who is an Asia hand, but has not focused directly on China during his career.  He was looking for an insider's view of the social turmoil occurring recently such as that in Wukan this past Winter.  His question was "are these events isolated, one-time occurrences, or signs of growing tension throughout China?"  It is in part based on discussions with a college professor of Chinese Policy, who is well traveled in China and fluent in Mandarin, and my Father, who follows geopolitics religiously.

Analysis of Local Protests in Rural Chinese Areas

On April 18th in Lijiang, Yunnan, thousands of local farmers surrounded government buildings to protest damage to their homes from coal mining activities, and the behavior of the local officials who unjustly supported the coal companies to the detriment of the local villagers (http://www.kanzhongguo.com/news/12/04/19/448717.html).  A warning shot from a police firearm scared the farmers into attacking a large group of officers with their edged weapons.  Fifteen officers were injured and the Deputy Chief of Police of Yunnan Province was killed.  Riot police were called in to rescue the officers, and many of the farmers were shot dead.

Events like this are not uncommon in China on a national level.  There is a lot of local discontent that boils over into various forms of protest and demonstration.  Last fall, there was a similar uprising in Wukan, Guangdong that led to the abduction and extrajudicial detainment of several of the protest leaders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protests_of_Wukan), one of whom was killed.  This intensified the protest until thousands of police seized the town forcing a resolution.

The question here is if these events are isolated, one-time occurrences, or signs of growing tension throughout China.

What makes this incident unique is that it occurred in Lijiang.  Lijiang is a World Heritage Site and premier tourism center of China.  It is very wealthy, and a centerpiece of China’s program for successful minority relations.  The region is populated largely by non-Han people (Yi, Naxi, Hui, Tibetan, and Bai), although most of the police, and government officials are of the Han ethnicity.  The growing number of civil uprisings are not limited to the Han governed minority populated areas however.

"The data show that mass incidents are generally rooted in work-related grievances and seek address of immediate demands rather than seeking broad political changes"  (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1451828).  While the data, in a large part, reflects simple economic concerns, when do these incidents increase to the point where there are areas that become ungovernable due to the conflicts, simple in nature or not?

China has a history of breaking along certain fault lines that crack due to various strains.  So if you add nationwide scandal, like that of Bo Xi Lai, that shows the People how absent they really are in their leaders’ thoughts, to local grievances also related to quality of living and work, what will happen?

Typically, they air month long marathons of anti-Japanese WWII TV shows on every channel to take focus away from the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”).  This has worked remarkably well to the point that I do not know one person in China that does not hate the Japanese, but they know basically nothing about the Gong Chan Dang/ CCP.

Before I left China earlier this year, I asked a lifelong member of the Gong Chan Dang what if my daughter can no longer speak Chinese after living in the United States for a while.  He said, "It doesn't matter.  China is nothing."  This was reflective of a newly found feeling that the Government doesn't take care of the people, and that they are trying to regulate them too closely and unfairly even when they fully comply with the Gong Chan Dang's agenda.  (see Member's Area for full story and analysis).

The most likely path from here is stabilization of conflicts and more Japanese WWII TV dramas.  However, it is interesting to examine the alternative.

There are several essential problems with creating an accurate picture about what is going on in China.  Most of the US/ foreign media and business interests tend to overhype any turmoil.  Academia tends to try to gain a balanced approach through careful analysis of trends and underemphasizes the turmoil as being common and not disruptive to progress or reform.  And, if you are actually on the ground there, you have little access to news of any events that are occurring, so you do not see or feel any turmoil unless you are in the midst of it.

In the end, what we have is a bunch of interest-biased information coming to us from all directions and people gravitating toward what fits their world image most closely.

What the lifelong member of the Gong Chan Dang said is instructive here.  He has benefited tremendously from the Chinese occupation of the Tibetan Plateau and has gone along with the Party's agenda for decades.  Still, he feels underrepresented and alien to his current Government.  The question is, will this feeling grow among the people like him, or can the Party control this sentiment?  I don't think any of us can predict the answer to that, or what will happen if it does grow beyond the Party's control.

Many Chinese feel that China is a dangerous place where those with money do as they please at the expense of everyone else.  They base this on the food quality issues, leadership abuses of their duties to take care of the People, and the token allowances given to minorities to appease them (financial and academic aid that only masks the vast disparities).  I am not aiming at getting into a comparative argument here between China and any other nation in terms of these issues, but rather to illustrate why people are frustrated to the point of despair about what is happening to their lives there.

There is no vehicle there for people to exert their rights, or to make gains other than through wealth.  And for those that do get wealth (media stars and business tycoons), they send their children overseas to escape the arbitrariness of that system.

On May 17, 2012, it was reported that a suicide bomber, a woman carrying a baby with explosives strapped to her body, killed several people at a government office in Qiaojia, Yunnan.  She was protesting authority’s plans to tear down her home for a development project.  
Quickly the story was revised by the Government to say that the bombing had been done by a disgruntled worker (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/worldview/death-and-justice-in-south-china/article2435484/page1/).  Rather than awaiting a full investigation of the incident, the chief of Yunnan’s Public Security Bureau declared the case closed and stated that he could stake his reputation and career on the decision.  This prompted the Chinese public to ask why proof of the crime was not being used to determine the outcome rather than this Chief’s reputation and career.

It is becoming obvious that people are losing respect for the Government and the police, and the public's perception of the Bo Xi Lai scandal could be fueling this disconnect between the two further.  One blogger commenting on the Qiaojia incident wrote: “I'm not law professional, nor police, of course not a Public Security Bureau chief, but I know there must be enough evidence before confirming that some suspected criminal is guilty, instead of basing it on deduction or a subjective assumption. Why are there so many suspicious facts in the case? Why is the whole country of China asking questions?”

Of course, the Chinese People deserve better than this.  Dramas about the Japanese during WWII will hopefully outlive their usefulness and social media will hopefully have a positive impact as well.

In China, I asked many people if they thought peoples’ lives were improving and they said no.  They could not trust the food because of all of the scandals involving tainted products of every kind.  People were getting sick and in the hospital often from tainted food they said.  This is just one example, but it is indicative of the greater problem.

If the sentiment is that their lives are not improving and that their Government does not support them, how long can the WWII Japanese dramas keep the masses sedated?  And if they do not remain sedated, what happens then?  Who knows?  Maybe nothing.  

This year before the CCP change of power is going to be unpredictable and very dangerous.  Similar tensions as these reported above are what have led to popular revolt in modern China.  You also have to factor in the impact of the new and ubiquitous communication technologies, and the inflationary potential of bloggers.  These factors magnify all of the tensions, and lend new leverage to organizational effort.  The incident in Wukan is quite instructive in this regard.

So an Apple Store on every corner may be more than just good business for Apple. Tiananmen Square took place at a time that "rhymes" with the present political instability.  That was appreciated by Mark Twain, who has been quoted as saying that "History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 18, 2012, 11:51:14 AM
The links seem to work now.

Here they are again just in case:

http://igertrekking.webs.com/

http://blackpotterycoffee.webs.com/

Before China, I also lived in Japan (96-99') and Vietnam (95'/00').  Good times, and some interesting martial arts training there as well.  Somehow I got coaxed into being the assistant coach of a high school Judo team.  We had one real hot shot who could throw anyone, or pin them mercilessly to the mats.  The training I had there stands up well in BJJ training much to many people's surprise (not to mention in real fighting).  In Vietnam, we just learned "boobytraps."   afro

Woof,
Russ
11  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: July 18, 2012, 10:52:59 AM
I just starting running three weeks ago, and after two weeks of road runs, I switched to running on a track last week.

Here is my workout from today.

Two sets of 800 meters running (2 laps) followed by 400 meters (1 lap) walking.

The running times were:

4:09
4:01

Two sets of 400 meters running and 400 walking.

The running times were:

1:48
1:40

Total distance was 4000 meters.

I had planned to run split 400s (400 sprinted/ 400 walked) for 4800 meters, but I thought the above method would be a better workout today.


On Saturday, I ran six laps with these times:

Lap 1-  1:38

Lap 2-  3:50 (2:12)

Lap 3-  5:40 (1:50)

Lap 4-  7:42 (2:02)

Lap 5-  9:40 (1:58)

Lap 6-  11:45 (2:05)


Last Thursday, I split it like this:

1200 meters (3 laps)-

Lap 1-  2:06

Lap 2-  2:14

Lap 3-  2:20

Total-  6:34

This was too slow.

I wanted to get my body used to feeling a faster lap, so I shifted to splits (400 meters walking/ 400 meters sprinting).

Here's how they went:

Lap 4-  5:00

Lap 5-  1:40

Lap 6-  5:00

Lap 7-  1:30

Lap 8-  5:00

Lap 9-  1:28

That's a lot of rest time, but I was going for speed on the 400s.


Later that day, I ran these:

800 meters-  3:50

1:30 rest

800 meters-  4:01

1:30 rest

800 meters- 4:03

1:30 rest

400 meters- 2:12 (cool down)


The split lap training really helps you pick up your speed.

I went from running a 13:25 on Wednesday to running an 11:45 on Saturday.

It also really helps to time yourself and see if you are improving or not.
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 18, 2012, 08:59:45 AM
Thanks Guro C.!

Before I moved to the Tibetan Plateau in 2009, I was living in Kunming, Yunnan, teaching International Law to international business majors from the EU, CH, North Africa, and China, of course!  We also had a DBMA Kunming group, and Guro C. allowed me to represent DBMA for a seminar in Beijing in 2006.

Before that I was living in NYC, working as an attorney at a firm, and running Manhattan DBMA (2003-2006).  While a law student, and intern at the San Diego DA's Office, I attended Guro Crafty's DBMA classes at Inosanto Academy in Marina Del Ray in 2001.  I was also a student of Raw Dog's in NYC during this time (1999-2004), and taught DBMA classes at his school, Progressive Martial Arts Academy, after my certification by Guro Crafty as an Apprenctice Instructor in 2002.

As for Tibet, here is what I was really doing over there:

igertrekking.webs.com
blackpotterycoffee.webs.com

Take a look when you have a chance.

We are back in Connecticut now, and eager to start up DBMA training here again.  So anyone in the area, please get in touch.

I look forward to many fine discussions here!

Woof,
Russ
13  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: July 18, 2012, 07:43:58 AM
China staked its modern claim to control of the sea in the waning days of the Chinese Civil War. Since most of the other claimant countries were occupied with their own independence movements in the ensuing decades, China had to do little to secure this claim. However, with other countries building up their maritime forces, pursuing new relationships and taking a more active stance in exploring and patrolling the waters, and with the Chinese public hostile to any real or perceived territorial concessions on Beijing's part, Deng's quiet approach is no longer an option.

The Paradox of China's Naval Strategy
July 17, 2012 | 0859 GMT

Stratfor
By Rodger Baker and Zhixing Zhang

Over the past decade, the South China Sea has become one of the most volatile flashpoints in East Asia. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan each assert sovereignty over part or all of the sea, and these overlapping claims have led to diplomatic and even military standoffs in recent years.

Because the sea hosts numerous island chains, is rich in mineral and energy resources and has nearly a third of the world's maritime shipping pass through its waters, its strategic value to these countries is obvious. For China, however, control over the South China Sea is more than just a practical matter and goes to the center of Beijing's foreign policy dilemma: how to assert its historic maritime claims while maintaining the non-confrontational foreign policy established by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1980.

China staked its modern claim to control of the sea in the waning days of the Chinese Civil War. Since most of the other claimant countries were occupied with their own independence movements in the ensuing decades, China had to do little to secure this claim. However, with other countries building up their maritime forces, pursuing new relationships and taking a more active stance in exploring and patrolling the waters, and with the Chinese public hostile to any real or perceived territorial concessions on Beijing's part, Deng's quiet approach is no longer an option.

Evolution of China's Maritime Logic
China is a vast continental power, but it also controls a long coastline, stretching at one time from the Sea of Japan in the northeast to the Gulf of Tonkin in the south. Despite this extensive coastline, China's focus has nearly always turned inward, with only sporadic efforts put toward seafaring and even then only during times of relative security on land.

Traditionally, the biggest threats to China were not from sea, except for occasional piracy, but rather from internal competition and nomadic forces to the north and west. China's geographic challenges encouraged a family-based, insular, agricultural economy, one with a strong hierarchal power structure designed in part to mitigate the constant challenges from warlords and regional divisions. Much of China's trade with the world was undertaken via land routes or carried out by Arabs and other foreign merchants at select coastal locations. In general, the Chinese chose to concentrate on the stability of the population and land borders over potential opportunities from maritime trade or exploration, particularly since sustained foreign contact could bring as much trouble as benefit.

Two factors contributed to China's experiments with naval development: a shift in warfare from northern to southern China and periods of relative national stability. During the Song dynasty (960-1279), the counterpart to the horse armies of the northern plains was a large inland naval force in the riverine and marshy south. The shift to river navies also spread to the coast, and the Song rulers encouraged coastal navigation and maritime trade by the Chinese, replacing the foreign traders along the coast. While still predominately inward-looking during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) under the Mongols, China carried out at least two major naval expeditions in the late 13th century -- against Japan and Java -- both of which ultimately proved unsuccessful. Their failure contributed to China's decision to again turn away from the sea. The final major maritime adventure occurred in the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644), when Chinese Muslim explorer Zheng He undertook his famous seven voyages, reaching as far as Africa but failing to use this opportunity to permanently establish Chinese power abroad.

Zheng He's treasure fleet was scuttled as the Ming saw rising problems at home, including piracy off the coast, and China once again looked inward. At about the same time that Magellan started his global expedition in the early 1500s, the Chinese resumed their isolationist policy, limiting trade and communication with the outside and ending most consideration of maritime adventure. China's naval focus shifted to coastal defense rather than power projection. The arrival of European gunboats in the 19th century thoroughly shook the conventional maritime logic of Chinese authorities, and only belatedly did they undertake a naval program based on Western technology.

Even this proved less than fully integrated into China's broader strategic thinking. The lack of maritime awareness contributed to the Qing government's decision to cede its crucial port access at the mouth of the Tumen River to Russia in 1858, permanently closing off access to the Sea of Japan from the northeast. Less than 40 years later, despite building one of the largest regional fleets, the Chinese navy was smashed by the newly emergent Japanese navy. For nearly a century thereafter, the Chinese again focused almost exclusively on the land, with naval forces taking a purely coastal defense role. Since the 1990s, this policy has slowly shifted as China's economic interconnectedness with the world expanded. For China to secure its economic strength and parlay that into stronger global influence, the development of a more proactive naval strategy became imperative.

Interpreting the 'Nine-Dash Line'
To understand China's present-day maritime logic and its territorial disputes with its neighbors, it is necessary to first understand the so-called nine-dash line, a loose boundary line demarcating China's maritime claims in the South China Sea.

The nine-dash line was based on an earlier territorial claim known as the eleven-dash line, drawn up in 1947 by the then-ruling Kuomintang government without much strategic consideration since the regime was busy dealing with the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of China and the ongoing civil war with the Communists. After the end of the Japanese occupation, the Kuomintang government sent naval officers and survey teams through the South China Sea to map the various islands and islets. The Internal Affairs Ministry published a map with an eleven-dash line enclosing most of the South China Sea far from China's shores. This map, despite its lack of specific coordinates, became the foundation of China's modern claims, and following the 1949 founding of the People's Republic of China, the map was adopted by the new government in Beijing. In 1953, perhaps as a way to mitigate conflict with neighboring Vietnam, the current nine-dash line emerged when Beijing eliminated two of the dashes.


The new Chinese map was met with little resistance or complaint by neighboring countries, many of which were then focused on their own national independence movements. Beijing interpreted this silence as acquiescence by the neighbors and the international community, and then stayed largely quiet on the issue to avoid drawing challenges. Beijing has shied away from officially claiming the line itself as an inviolable border, and it is not internationally recognized, though China regards the nine-dash line as the historic basis for its maritime claims.

Like other claimant countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines, China's long-term goal is to use its growing naval capabilities to control the islands and islets within the South China Sea and thus the natural resources and the strategic position they afford. When China was militarily weak, it supported the concept of putting aside sovereignty concerns and carrying out joint development, aiming to reduce the potential conflicts from overlapping claims while buying time for its own naval development. Meanwhile, to avoid dealing with a unified bloc of counterclaimants, Beijing adopted a one-to-one negotiation approach with individual countries on their own territorial claims, without the need to jeopardize its entire nine-dash line claim. This allowed Beijing to remain the dominant partner in bilateral negotiations, something it feared it would lose in a more multilateral forum.

Despite the lack of legal recognition for the nine-dash line and the constant friction it engenders, Beijing has little ability now to move away from the claim. With the rising international attention and regional competition over the South China Sea, the Chinese public -- which identifies the waters within the nine-dash line as territorial waters -- is pressuring Beijing to take more assertive actions. This has left China in an impossible position: When Beijing attempts to portray joint developments as evidence that other countries recognize China's territorial claims, the partner countries balk; when it tries to downplay the claims in order to manage international relations, the Chinese population protests (and in the case of Chinese fishermen, often act on their own in disputed territory, forcing the government to support them rhetorically and at times physically). Any effort to appeal to Beijing's domestic constituency would risk aggravating foreign partners, or vice versa.

Developing a Maritime Policy
The complications from the nine-dash line, the status of domestic Chinese developments and the shifting international system have all contributed to shape China's evolving maritime strategy.

Under former leader Mao Zedong, China was internally focused and constrained by a weak navy. China's maritime claims were left vague, Beijing did not aggressively seek to assert its rights and the independence struggles of neighboring countries largely spared China from taking a stronger maritime stance. China's naval development remained defensive, focused on protecting its shores from invasion. Deng Xiaoping, in concert with his domestic economic reforms in the late 1970s and early 1980s, sought the more pragmatic joint economic development of the East and South China seas, putting aside claims of territorial sovereignty for another time. China's military expenditures continued to focus on land forces (and missile forces), with the navy relegated to a largely defensive role operating only in Chinese coastal waters.

To a great degree, Deng's policies remained in place through the next two decades. There were sporadic maritime flare-ups in the South China Sea, but in general, the strategy of avoiding outright confrontation remained a core principle at sea. China's navy was in no position to challenge the dominant role of the U.S. Navy or to take any assertive action against its neighbors, especially since Beijing sought to increase its regional influence through economic and political means rather than through military force.

But joint development proposals for the South China Sea have largely failed. China's expanded economic strength, coupled with a concomitant rise in its military spending -- and more recently its focus on naval development -- has raised suspicions and concerns among neighboring countries, with many calling on the United States to take a more active role in the region to counterbalance China's rise. The issue of the nine-dash line and territorial claims have also risen in significance because countries had to file their maritime claims under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, bringing the competing claims a step closer to international arbitration. China, which was a signatory to the treaty largely due to its potential maritime gains in the East China Sea, found itself forced to file numerous counterclaims in the South China Sea, raising alarm in neighboring countries of what was seen as an outright push for regional hegemony.

It was not only counterclaimant nations that considered the Chinese moves troubling. Japan and South Korea are heavily dependent on the South China Sea as an energy transit corridor, and the United States, Australia and India among others depend on the sea for trade and military transit. All these countries saw China's moves as a potential prelude to challenging free access to the waters. China responded with increasingly assertive rhetoric as well as a larger role for the Chinese military in foreign policy decisions. The old policy of non-confrontation was giving way to a new approach.

The Foreign Policy Debate
In 1980, Deng expressed the shape of Chinese foreign policy as one in which China should observe the world, secure its position, deal calmly with foreign affairs, hide its capabilities and bide its time, maintain a low profile and never claim leadership. These basic tenets remain the core of Chinese foreign policy, either as guidelines for action or excuses for inaction. But China's regional and domestic environment has shifted significantly from the early days of Deng's reforms, and China's economic and military expansion has already passed Deng's admonition to hide capabilities and bide time.

Beijing understands that only through a more proactive policy can China expand from a solely land-based power to a maritime power and reshape the region in a manner beneficial to its security interests. Failure to do so could enable other regional states and their allies, namely the United States, to contain or even threaten China's ambitions.

At least four elements of Deng's policies are currently under debate or changing: a shift from noninterference to creative involvement; a shift from bilateral to multilateral diplomacy; a shift from reactive to preventative diplomacy; and a move away from strict nonalignment toward semi-alliances.

Creative involvement is described as a way for China to be more active in preserving its interests abroad by becoming more involved in other countries' domestic politics -- a shift from noninterference to something more flexible. China has used money and other tools to shape domestic developments in other countries in the past, but an official change in policy would necessitate deeper Chinese involvement in local affairs. However, this would undermine China's attempts to promote the idea that it is just another developing nation helping other developing nations in the face of Western imperialism and hegemony. This shift in perception could erode some of China's advantage in dealing with developing nations since it has relied on promises of political noninterference as a counter to Western offers of better technology or more development resources that come with requirements of political change.

China has long relied on bilateral relations as its preferred method of managing its interests internationally. When China has operated within a multilateral forum, it has often shaped developments only by being a spoiler rather than a leader. For example, China can block sanctions in the U.N. Security Council but has rarely proffered a different path for the international community to pursue. Particularly through the 1990s, Beijing feared its relatively weak position left it little to gain from multilateral forums, and instead put China under the influence of the stronger members. But China's rising economic power has shifted this equation.

China is pursuing more multilateral relationships as a way to secure its interests through the larger groups. China's relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, its participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its pursuit of trilateral summits are all intended to help Beijing shape the policy direction of these blocs. By shifting to the multilateral approach, China can make some of the weaker countries feel more secure and thus prevent them from turning to the United States for support.

Traditionally, China has had a relatively reactive foreign policy, dealing with crises when they emerge but often failing to recognize or act to prevent the crises before they materialize. In places where Beijing has sought access to natural resources, it has often been caught off-guard by changes in the local situation and not had a response strategy prepared. (The division of Sudan and South Sudan is one recent example). Now, China is debating shifting this policy to one where it seeks to better understand the underlying forces and issues that could emerge into conflict and act alone or with the international community to defuse volatile situations. In the South China Sea, this would mean clarifying its maritime claims rather than continuing to use the vague nine-dash line and also more aggressively pursuing ideas for an Asian security mechanism, one in which China would play an active leadership role.

China's stance on alliances remains the same as that put forward by Deng in the 1980s: It does not engage in alliance structures targeted against third countries. This was both to allow China to retain an independent foreign policy stance and to avoid international entanglements due to its alliances with others. For example, Chinese plans to retake Taiwan were scuttled by its involvement in the Korean War, and thus its relations with the United States were set back by decades. The collapse of the Cold War system and the rise of China's economic and military influence have brought this policy under scrutiny as well. Beijing has watched cautiously as NATO has expanded eastward and as the United States has strengthened its military alliances in the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing's non-alliance policy leaves China potentially facing these groups alone, something it has neither the military nor the economic strength to effectively counter.

The proposed semi-alliance structure is designed to counter this weakness while not leaving China beholden to its semi-alliance partners. China's push for strategic partnerships (even with its ostensible rivals) and increased military and humanitarian disaster drills with other nations are part of this strategy. The strategy is less about building an alliance structure against the United States than it is about breaking down the alliance structures that could be built against China by getting closer to traditional U.S. partners, making them less willing to take strong actions against China. In its maritime strategy, Beijing is working with India, Japan and Korea in counterpiracy operations and engaging in more naval exchanges and offers of joint exercises and drills.

Looking Forward
China's world is changing. Its emergence as a major economic power has forced Beijing to rethink its traditional foreign policy. Closest to home, the South China Sea issue is a microcosm of China's broader foreign policy debate. The ambiguity of China's maritime claim was useful when the region was quiet, but it is no longer serving China's purposes, and coupled with the natural expansion of China's maritime interests and naval activity it is instead exacerbating tensions. Old policy tools such as trying to keep all negotiations bilateral or claiming a hands-off approach are no longer serving China's needs. The policy of joint development inherited from Deng has failed to bring about any significant cooperation with neighboring countries in the sea, and the assertion of the nine-dash line claims amid the U.N. sea treaty filings has simultaneously increased domestic Chinese nationalism and countermoves by neighboring countries.

Despite the lack of clarity on its maritime policy, China has demonstrated its intent to further consolidate its claims based on the nine-dash line. Beijing recognizes that policy changes are needed, but any change has its attendant consequences. The path of transition is fraught with danger, from disgruntled domestic elements to aggressive reactions by China's neighbors, but by intent or by default, change is happening, and how the foreign policy debate plays out will have lasting consequences for China's maritime strategy and its international position as a whole.
14  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: August 09, 2010, 04:21:45 AM
The documentary takes a dramatic turn, though, when the infant’s Palestinian mother, Raida, who is being disparaged by fellow Gazans for having her son treated in Israel, blurts out that she hopes he’ll grow up to be a suicide bomber to help recover Jerusalem.

August 7, 2010
Steal This Movie
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

I just saw a remarkable new documentary directed by Shlomi Eldar, the Gaza reporter for Israel’s Channel 10 news. Titled “Precious Life,” the film tracks the story of Mohammed Abu Mustafa, a 4-month-old Palestinian baby suffering from a rare immune deficiency. Moved by the baby’s plight, Eldar helps the infant and mother go from Gaza to Israel’s Tel Hashomer hospital for lifesaving bone-marrow treatment. The operation costs $55,000. Eldar puts out an appeal on Israel TV and within hours an Israeli Jew whose own son was killed during military service donates all the money.

The documentary takes a dramatic turn, though, when the infant’s Palestinian mother, Raida, who is being disparaged by fellow Gazans for having her son treated in Israel, blurts out that she hopes he’ll grow up to be a suicide bomber to help recover Jerusalem. Raida tells Eldar: “From the smallest infant, even smaller than Mohammed, to the oldest person, we will all sacrifice ourselves for the sake of Jerusalem. We feel we have the right to it. You’re free to be angry, so be angry.”

Eldar is devastated by her declaration and stops making the film. But this is no Israeli propaganda movie. The drama of the Palestinian boy’s rescue at an Israeli hospital is juxtaposed against Israeli retaliations for shelling from Gaza, which kill whole Palestinian families. Dr. Raz Somech, the specialist who treats Mohammed as if he were his own child, is summoned for reserve duty in Gaza in the middle of the film. The race by Israelis and Palestinians to save one life is embedded in the larger routine of the two communities grinding each other up.

“It’s clear to me that the war in Gaza was justified — no country can allow itself to be fired at with Qassam rockets — but I did not see many people pained by the loss of life on the Palestinian side,” Eldar told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “Because we were so angry at Hamas, all the Israeli public wanted was to [expletive] Gaza. ... It wasn’t until after the incident of Dr. Abu al-Aish — the Gaza physician I spoke with on live TV immediately after a shell struck his house and caused the death of his daughters and he was shouting with grief and fear — that I discovered the [Israeli] silent majority that has compassion for people, including Palestinians. I found that many Israeli viewers shared my feelings.” So Eldar finished the documentary about how Mohammed’s life was saved in Israel.

His raw film reflects the Middle East I know — one full of amazing compassion, even among enemies, and breathtaking cruelty, even among neighbors.

I write about this now because there is something foul in the air. It is a trend, both deliberate and inadvertent, to delegitimize Israel — to turn it into a pariah state, particularly in the wake of the Gaza war. You hear the director Oliver Stone saying crazy things about how Hitler killed more Russians than Jews, but the Jews got all the attention because they dominate the news media and their lobby controls Washington. You hear Britain’s prime minister describing Gaza as a big Israeli “prison camp” and Turkey’s prime minister telling Israel’s president, “When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill.” You see singers canceling concerts in Tel Aviv. If you just landed from Mars, you might think that Israel is the only country that has killed civilians in war — never Hamas, never Hezbollah, never Turkey, never Iran, never Syria, never America.

I’m not here to defend Israel’s bad behavior. Just the opposite. I’ve long argued that Israel’s colonial settlements in the West Bank are suicidal for Israel as a Jewish democracy. I don’t think Israel’s friends can make that point often enough or loud enough.

But there are two kinds of criticism. Constructive criticism starts by making clear: “I know what world you are living in.” I know the Middle East is a place where Sunnis massacre Shiites in Iraq, Iran kills its own voters, Syria allegedly kills the prime minister next door, Turkey hammers the Kurds, and Hamas engages in indiscriminate shelling and refuses to recognize Israel. I know all of that. But Israel’s behavior, at times, only makes matters worse — for Palestinians and Israelis. If you convey to Israelis that you understand the world they’re living in, and then criticize, they’ll listen.

Destructive criticism closes Israeli ears. It says to Israelis: There is no context that could explain your behavior, and your wrongs are so uniquely wrong that they overshadow all others. Destructive critics dismiss Gaza as an Israeli prison, without ever mentioning that had Hamas decided — after Israel unilaterally left Gaza — to turn it into Dubai rather than Tehran, Israel would have behaved differently, too. Destructive criticism only empowers the most destructive elements in Israel to argue that nothing Israel does matters, so why change?

How about everybody take a deep breath, pop a copy of “Precious Life” into your DVD players, watch this documentary about the real Middle East, and if you still want to be a critic (as I do), be a constructive one. A lot more Israelis and Palestinians will listen to you.

Nicholas D. Kristof is off today.
15  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gen. James N. Mattis on: July 24, 2010, 09:36:08 AM
Iterative Design During Operation Iraqi Freedom II (from p. 99 of the Counterinsurgency Manual)

During Operation Iraqi Freedom II (2004-2005),

the 1st Marine Division employed an operational design similar to that used during the Philippine Insurrection (circa 1902).

The commanding general, Major General James N. Mattis, USMC,

began with an assessment of the people that the Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors would encounter within the division’s
area of operations. The area of operations was in western Iraq/Al Anbar Province, which
had a considerably different demographic than the imam-led Shia areas in which the division
had operated during Operation Iraqi Freedom I.

Major General Mattis classified provincial constituents into three basic groups: the tribes,
former regime elements, and foreign fighters. The tribes constituted the primary identity
group in western Iraq/Al Anbar Province. They had various internal tribal affiliations and
looked to a diverse array of sheiks and elders for leadership. The former regime elements
were a minority that included individuals with personal, political, business, and professional
ties to the Ba’ath Party. These included civil servants and career military personnel
with the skills needed to run government institutions. Initially, they saw little gain from a
democratic Iraq. The foreign fighters were a small but dangerous minority of transnational
Islamic subversives.

To be successful, U.S. forces had to apply a different approach to each of these groups
within the framework of an overarching plan. As in any society, some portion of each
group included a criminal element, further complicating planning and interaction. Major
General Mattis’s vision of resolution comprised two major elements encompassed in an
overarching “bodyguard” of information operations. (See figure 4-3, page 4-8.)

The first element and main effort was diminishing support for insurgency. Guided by the
maxims of “first do no harm” and “no better friend–no worse enemy,” the objective was to
establish a secure local environment for the indigenous population so they could pursue
their economic, social, cultural, and political well-being and achieve some degree of local
normalcy. Establishing a secure environment involved both offensive and defensive combat
operations with a heavy emphasis on training and advising the security forces of the
fledgling Iraqi government. It also included putting the populace to work. Simply put, an
Iraqi with a job was less likely to succumb to ideological or economic pressure to support
the insurgency. Other tasks included the delivery of essential services, economic development,and the promotion of governance.
All were geared towards increasing employment opportunities and furthering the establishment of local normalcy.
Essentially, diminishing support for insurgency entailed gaining and maintaining the support of the tribes, as well as converting as many of the former regime members as possible. “Fence-sitters” were considered a winnable constituency and addressed as such.

The second element involved neutralizing the bad actors, a combination of irreconcilable
former regime elements and foreign fighters. Offensive combat operations were conducted
to defeat recalcitrant former regime members. The task was to make those who
were not killed outright see the futility of resistance and give up the fight. With respect to
the hard-core extremists, who would never give up, the task was more straightforward:
their complete and utter destruction. Neutralizing the bad actors supported the main effort
by improving the local security environment. Neutralization had to be accomplished in a
discrete and discriminate manner, however, in order to avoid unintentionally increasing
support for insurgency.
16  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gen. James N. Mattis on: July 24, 2010, 09:28:25 AM
Hey P.C., good to hear from you too!

Mattis will technically be Patraeus' senior as commander of CENTCOM.

There is so far no date listed for the confirmation hearing.  I can't imagine they plan to leave the post open for long.

Speaking of Patton....  Patton takes his staff on an unexpected detour to the site of the ancient Battle of Zama. There he reminisces about the battle, insisting to his second in command, General Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) that he was there.

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patton_%28film%29

I think I'm going to spend some time reading up on counterinsurgency:

http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-24.pdf

This manual is designed to fill a doctrinal gap. It has been 20 years since the Army published a field manual devoted exclusively to counterinsurgency operations. For the Marine Corps it has been 25 years. With our Soldiers and Marines fighting insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is essential that we give them a manual that provides principles and guidelines for counterinsurgency operations. Such guidance must be grounded in historical studies. However, it also must be informed by contemporary experiences.

This manual takes a general approach to counterinsurgency operations. The Army and Marine Corps recognize that every insurgency is contextual and presents its own set of challenges. You cannot fight former Saddamists and Islamic extremists the same way you would have fought the Viet Cong, Moros, or Tupamaros; the application of principles and fundamentals to deal with each varies considerably. Nonetheless, all insurgencies, even today’s highly adaptable strains, remain wars amongst the people. They use variations of standard themes and adhere to elements of a recognizable revolutionary campaign plan. This manual therefore addresses the common characteristics of insurgencies. It strives to provide those conducting counterinsurgency campaigns with a solid foundation for understanding and addressing specific insurgencies.

A counterinsurgency campaign is, as described in this manual, a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations conducted along multiple lines of operations. It requires Soldiers and Marines to employ a mix of familiar combat tasks and skills more often associated with nonmilitary agencies. The balance between them depends on the local situation. Achieving this balance is not easy. It requires leaders at all levels to adjust their approach constantly. They must ensure that their Soldiers and Marines are ready to be greeted with either a handshake or a hand grenade while taking on missions only infrequently practiced until recently at our combat training centers. Soldiers and Marines are expected to be nation builders as well as warriors. They must be prepared to help reestablish institutions and local security forces and assist in rebuilding infrastructure and basic services. They must be able to facilitate establishing local governance and the rule of law. The list of such tasks is long; performing them involves extensive coordination and cooperation with many intergovernmental, host-nation, and international agencies. Indeed, the responsibilities of
leaders in a counterinsurgency campaign are daunting; however, the discussions in this manual alert leaders to the challenges of such campaigns and suggest general approaches for grappling with those challenges.

Conducting a successful counterinsurgency campaign requires a flexible, adaptive force led by agile, well-informed, culturally astute leaders. It is our hope that this manual provides the guidelines needed to succeed in operations that are exceedingly difficult and complex. Our Soldiers and Marines deserve nothing less.

DAVID H. PETRAEUS
Lieutenant General, U.S. Army
Commander
U.S. Army Combined Arms Center

JAMES F. AMOS
Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps
Deputy Commandant
Combat Development and Integration
17  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gen. James N. Mattis on: July 23, 2010, 03:46:20 AM
General Mattis will be going up for confirmation hearings for the post of commander of Central Command.  Very interesting gentleman with a well crafted persona....

Associates of General Mattis offer an explanation for the contradiction of a general who uses “ain’t” in public but devotes his government moving allowance to hauling a library of 6,000 books from station to station, forgoing most personal effects.

He was once asked which American Indian warrior he most respected. His answer was a tribe-by-tribe, chief-by-chief exposition spanning the first Seminole war to the surrender of the Lakota.


I have also heard from Marine officer friends that it is rumored that he believes himself to be the reincarnation of the Carthaginian General Hannabal.

Petraeus’s Successor Is Known for Impolitic Words
By THOM SHANKER

WASHINGTON — To those who have served under him, Gen. James N. Mattis is the consummate Marine commander, a warrior who chooses to lead from the front lines and speaks bluntly rather than concerning himself with political correctness.

But General Mattis, President Obama’s choice to command American forces across the strategic crescent that encompasses Iraq and Afghanistan, has also been occasionally seen by his civilian superiors as too rough-edged at a time when military strategy is as much about winning the allegiance of local populations as it is about firepower.

If his predecessor as the commander of Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus, is known for his skill at winning over constituencies outside the military, General Mattis has a reputation for candid, Patton-esque statements that are not always appreciated inside or outside the Pentagon.

“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap around women for five years because they didn’t wear a veil,” General Mattis said during a forum in San Diego in 2005. “You know guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway, so it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

For those comments, he received an official rebuke. His career path, however, was not seriously altered, and he now finds himself awaiting Senate confirmation to take over one of the most important jobs in the military. His new assignment would nominally put him atop General Petraeus — now the commander in Afghanistan — in the chain of command and leave him overseeing the reduction of American troops in Iraq, the escalation in Afghanistan and an array of potential threats from across the Middle East and South Asia, including Iran.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described General Mattis’s significant professional growth as he rose through the senior ranks, in particular at his current post atop the military’s Joint Forces Command. “I watched him interact in NATO at the highest levels, diplomatically, politically, and on very sensitive subjects,” Admiral Mullen said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates described General Mattis as “one of our military’s outstanding combat leaders and strategic thinkers.”

But the general angered one of Mr. Gates’s predecessors, Donald H. Rumsfeld, in 2001 with another remark that played well with his Marines, but not with civilian leaders in Washington. After Marines under his command seized an airstrip outside Kandahar, establishing the first forward operating base for conventional forces in the country, General Mattis declared, “The Marines have landed, and we now own a piece of Afghanistan.”

Mr. Rumsfeld and other senior officials believed that these words violated the official message of the invasion, that the United States had no desire to occupy a Muslim nation, but was fighting to free Afghanistan from the Taliban tyranny.

General Mattis is viewed differently by those who have been with him on the front lines.

It was the first winter of the war in Afghanistan, when the wind stabbed like an ice pick and fingertips froze to triggers, but a young lieutenant’s blood simmered as he approached a Marine fighting hole and spotted three heads silhouetted in the moonlight. He had ordered only two Marines to stand watch while the rest of the platoon was ordered to rest before an expected Taliban attack at first light.

“I dropped down into the hole, and there were two junior Marines,” the lieutenant, Nathaniel C. Fick, recalled of that overnight operation outside Kandahar. “But the third was General Mattis. He has a star on his collar and could have been sleeping on a cot with a major waiting to make him coffee. But he’s out there in the cold in the middle of the night, doing the same thing I’m doing as a first lieutenant — checking on his men.”

The military career of the previous top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, ended over comments he made to Rolling Stone magazine that were read as disparagements of civilian leadership. Yet even in that context, General Mattis’s past provocative comments do not appear to have caused any serious second thoughts about him at the Pentagon or the White House.

“General Mattis is a warrior’s warrior,” said Mr. Fick, who served twice under his command —in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, and in Iraq in 2003 — and is now chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, a nonpartisan policy institute. “That’s a virtue not always appreciated in American society.”

Associates of General Mattis offer an explanation for the contradiction of a general who uses “ain’t” in public but devotes his government moving allowance to hauling a library of 6,000 books from station to station, forgoing most personal effects.

He is a reader of philosophy who has patterned his speeches and writings on Aristotle’s famous dictum on effective communications: Know your audience. When he is speaking to Marines, he speaks like a Marine. When he is speaking to defense chiefs or senior government leaders, he uses their language.

And he is a reader of history. He was once asked which American Indian warrior he most respected. His answer was a tribe-by-tribe, chief-by-chief exposition spanning the first Seminole war to the surrender of the Lakota.

Just hours before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, in which General Mattis ordered his force on a race from Kuwait to Baghdad, sowing chaos among Iraqi units along the way, he wrote a message to Marines under his command that encapsulates the general’s thinking.

“While we will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam’s oppression,” he wrote.

“Engage your brain before you engage your weapon,” the general added.

He is sure to be tested at Central Command, where his tasks include maintaining relations with allies, some dear and some difficult; building the capabilities of unstable nations to defend themselves against terrorists or other threats; and always, always, keeping an eye on Iran.

The Central Command post in some ways is diminished, since there is an officer of equal rank in charge of the war in Iraq and another for Afghanistan, both falling within the Central Command’s area of responsibility.

Senior officers predict there will be little friction as General Mattis moves into command over General Petraeus, who now has been cast, for a second time, in the role of savior for a faltering war effort. In fact, some officers suggested that General Mattis should have been considered for the Afghan command, but senior officials wanted the more polished Petraeus, given the circumstances of General McChrystal’s removal, and the fact that General Petraeus already was involved in developing the Afghan strategy.

Generals Mattis and Petraeus have worked together before, in writing the military’s manual on counterinsurgency, which has become the guiding concept for both wars — and for which General Mattis rarely gets credit.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Guess who was a 2nd Lt. under Mattis....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilario_Pantano
18  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 19, 2010, 04:31:05 AM
Frank Luntz on Why American Jewish Students Won’t Defend Israel
Evelyn Gordon - 07.18.2010 - 12:22 PM

PR guru Frank Luntz gave a lengthy interview last week to the Jerusalem Post’s David Horovitz. Much of it was what one might expect from a PR guru. But one incident he described was shocking: a session with 35 MIT and Harvard students, 20 non-Jews and 15 Jews:

    “Within 10 minutes, the non-Jews started with ‘the war crimes of Israel,’ with ‘the Jewish lobby,’ with ‘the Jews have a lot more power and influence’ – stuff that’s borderline anti-Jewish.

    And guess what? Did the Jewish kids at the best schools in America, did they stand up for themselves? Did they challenge the assertions? They didn’t say sh*t. And in that group was the leader of the Israeli caucus at Harvard. It took him 49 minutes of this before he responded to anything.”

After three hours, Luntz dismissed the non-Jews and confronted the Jews, furious that “you all didn’t say sh*t.”

    “And it all dawned on them: If they won’t say it to their classmates, whom they know, who will they stand up for Israel to? Two of the women in the group started to cry. … The guys are like, “Oh my God, I didn’t speak up, I can’t believe I let this happen.” And they’re all looking at each other with horrible embarrassment and guilt like you wouldn’t believe.”

But Luntz didn’t stop with illustrating this gaping hole in what American Jews are evidently teaching their children; he also explained it:

    “The problem that I see is that so many parents in the Jewish community taught their kids not to judge. I’m going to say something that’s a little bit ideological, but I find that kids on the right are far more likely to stand up for Israel than kids on the left. Because kids on the right believe that there is an absolute right and wrong; this is how they’ve been raised.

    Kids on the left have been taught not to judge. Therefore those on the left will not judge between Israel and the Palestinians; those on the right will.”

This is a travesty — because this particular right/left difference shouldn’t exist. First, it’s a travesty of everything the left once stood for — which was upholding a particular set of values, not refusing to judge between those values and others. Willingness to defend your own values shouldn’t be a trait limited to the right.

But it’s also a travesty because it shouldn’t be hard for any Jewish leftist to explain why Israel, for all its flaws, is still a far better example of the left’s one-time values, such as freedom, democracy, tolerance, and human rights, than any of its enemies. As Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat, Ishmael Khaldi, said in explaining why he chose to represent a country that allegedly oppresses his fellow Muslim Arabs, “We’re a multicultural, multilingual, multireligious country and I’m happy and proud to be part of it.”

Israel’s PR failings are innumerable. But if American Jews can’t get this particular message across to their children, the fault isn’t Israel’s; it’s their own. And only American Jews themselves can fix it.
19  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thailand on: June 09, 2010, 10:01:52 AM
Nice shot of his leg injury in the original article here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/38265/the-red-shirt-guard-who-saved-my-life

The red shirt guard 'who saved my life'

The recent red shirt protest was a bleak and dramatic time for foreign reporters, with the death of two correspondents and numerous others injured. But one Bangkok-based Canadian journalist owes his life to an heroic rescue by a red shirt guard

    * Published: 6/06/2010 at 12:00 AM
    * Newspaper section: News

Nelson Rand is unsure how long he was clinically dead. One doctor said two minutes, another said three and a third said six. After days on morphine recovering in intensive care wards in two Bangkok hospitals, Rand is not 100% certain about the exact details of his remarkable recovery.

GUARDIAN ANGEL: Nelson Rand with his saviour, Oan Thirawat. PHOTO: COURTESY OF NELSON RAND

However, it seems unquestionable that this thoughtful and energetic Canadian - a correspondent for France24 news channel - has had a most remarkable near-death experience.

Recuperating in a room in the Bangkok Nursing Home (BNH) in Convent Road, Rand has had plenty of time to ponder the dramatic moments when he became a big story internationally and survived by the narrowest of margins. It is hard to think of a closer brush with death.

Bed-ridden with four serious wounds - three from bullets - he came to realise fairly quickly that his extraordinary survival was due not only to a team of dedicated doctors at Chulalongkorn Hospital, but also to a red shirt guard who put his own life at considerable risk to pull him out of harm's way and rush him to hospital.

It was three weeks ago: Friday, May 14, about 2pm the day after rogue general Seh Daeng was shot in the head by a sniper.

Rand, who has lived and worked in Bangkok for the best part of a decade, was down alongside Lumpini Park, near the thick of the action, reporting on a street battle in bright sunlight in the heart of the city.

''I was filming with the army and I tried to get across to the other side and I got shot when I tried to get across. I took a risk and I paid for it. I knew what I was doing,'' he recalled in a slightly hoarse voice from his hospital bed.

Rand, 34, wore a black shirt and sunglasses, but he is not sure if that was a factor in his being shot. The first bullet hit him in the left hand.

LIFE-THREATENING: Rand almost died from a leg wound which severed his artery.

''I was on the ground trying to get to cover, then I was shot in the leg and abdomen.

''I'll never forget _ I could see my vein, the inside of my hand _ and I was thinking 'this is not good'.''

He had screamed in pain and dropped his camera, which kept recording.

The bullet that struck him in the leg was the one that nearly killed him, as it cut his femoral artery and caused him to lose a lot of blood, while a third bullet passed through his left side.

Rand's buddy John Sanlin captured the drama on film _ footage that was shown around the world on CNN within hours.

His plight had also been noted by a red shirt guard who had experience working for an emergency rescue team, similar to Poh Teck Tung.

''I was screaming for help and he slowly crawled across the street under fire to get me. There's some clips of it on some Thai [web] sites that show it. He clearly went to the line of fire to come and get me.

''I don't remember seeing him coming to get me, but I remember he grabbed my arm and dragged me away. Somehow there was a motorbike and I was put in the middle, between him and a guy on the back holding me.''

They roared off on the red guard's bike while still under fire, across to Chulalongkorn Hospital. The bike has two bullet holes at the front from that ride.

''That's when I got my foot injury _ it was dragging along the road and I just had a sock on. It's all black now 'cos the skin's dead. It ground down to the bone.''

The stranger who had saved his life stayed at the hospital until he was through several hours of surgery and had survived.

Rand has a vague dream-like recollection of ''a stage of something I've never felt _ maybe between life and death, something that I can't explain''. He said he'd heard different versions from doctors about his heart stopping, until he was given a packet of blood and shock treatment to restart his heart.

''I believe from what people told me my blood had about run out - they gave me a lot of bags [of blood] and revived me after one bag. I think I had a few minutes when I was clinically dead, or - I don't know what it's called - but they had to revive me.'' Shortly after, he was transferred away from the ''red zone'' to BNH. In an interview after his accident with Canadian colleague Steve Sandford, Rand said he wanted to locate the red shirt guard who saved his life - and thank him.

''He put his own life at risk and he didn't even know me. That's what I call true heroism _ a true selfless act, which I think only a few people are capable of. I'd like to ask if there's one thing he wants, because I'd like to get it. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here.''

Sandford's wife Am, a ''fixer'' for foreign news crews, contacted Thai PBS, which had people who were able to track down the red shirt guard. Days later, he was brought to Rand's hospital room for a heartfelt message of thanks _ watched by Nelson's parents, who had flown over from Calgary, and filmed by Sandford.

Oan Thirawat, 25, said soldiers were still shooting when he ran across the road to grab Rand and sprint to get away.

''I was always thinking I had to help him because it's my job. When people are hurt around the protest site I have to help them. I have to help them in the danger zone. I have to get them out first, no matter what.

''I was afraid that I couldn't save him in time. I rushed to get him to the hospital. We had an accident on the way. I could not stop in time and the red shirts didn't clear the way for me. I already contacted them to clear the way, but they didn't. We had five motorbikes with victims. The first one led us to the hospital.

''Before I came back, I stayed for about three hours at the hospital with Nelson to make sure he was okay, until the doctors finished the surgery. I felt very happy that I saved one life. Life is very valuable.

''For the red shirts, we help all people. Even the wounded soldiers we will help. We try to save anyone's life, even the foreigners or police. We help them all. From my experience, I help people who are in traffic accidents or rescue people in fires.''

On his Facebook page, Rand, still in a wheelchair, posted a shot of Oan with him on his first night out of hospital early last week.

Rand's book Conflict, published by Maverick House last year, details adventures in the life of a reporter visiting flashpoints in Cambodia, Burma's Karen State, Laos and southern Thailand. But his best chapter is surely yet to be penned.
20  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thailand on: June 09, 2010, 09:12:18 AM
Thanks G M!  Nelson is out of the hospital now, and recovering well.  It looks like the Thai Parliment is calling for all parties to reach for national reconciliation as well before holding elections early next year.
21  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Thailand on: June 01, 2010, 11:30:49 PM
Woof All,

I just got back from Bangkok last week after spending several days there during the Red Shirt Protests.

When I arrived on May 19th, the city was in chaos.  The premier downtown luxury shopping area near Siam Square was on fire.  Driving to the city from the airport, I could see a plume of smoke in the sky that reminded me of what I saw from the top of my law school building in NYC on 9-11.

The purpose of my visit was to see my friend Nelson Rand.  He is a Canadian journalist who is an expert in SE Asian Security Issues.  He was shot by assault rifle fire while covering the Protest on May 14th near Lumpini Park.  One of the three bullets that hit him severed his femoral artery at his mid thigh.  He bled out while being carried to the hospital, but luckily was able to get into the emergency room in time for them to save him.

The night I arrived was the first night that the Government imposed a curfew, 8pm to 6am I believe.  Nelson's hospital was in Silom, just west of the Protests and I could not get anyone to take me any farther than Sukhumvit Road that night.  When I arrived on Sukhumvit Soi 1 just off the expressway ramp, there were hundreds of soldiers heavily armed many with more than one assault rifle.  This is usually a street filled with tourists and business people.  It was shocking.

I arrived in Silom the next day and visited Nelson.  He was groggy, but recovering well.  That night just before curfew, I went out with a Burmese journalist on his motorbike.  I had a kevlar jacket and helmet on, but as the streets darkened it got frightening.  The soldiers were on edge and we saw more than one unlock the safety on their rifles as we approached.

The next day, I walked up to the area where Silom Road and Pat Pong intersect.  This is the famous nightlife area of Bangkok.  If you have ever seen that famous photo of Phnom Penh in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge evacuated the city then you have an idea of what it looked like.  Again, shocking.  Usually this area is filled with business people and tourists.

The city started to recover after several more days, and business reopened, but Bangkok of all places was not where I would have expected this type of violence.

Here is a link to a news report which includes some of the footage that Nelson captured while he was shot:

http://video.ca.msn.com/watch/video/bangkok-riots/16ar6ejlu
22  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: June 03, 2008, 09:34:02 PM
Hi All,

I have read Nassim Taleb's "The Black Swan," and although he can be quite pompous in doing so, he points out a valid criticism of human thinking.... that we tend not to account for unforeseeable events even though we know they are there, and that they do happen.  That is his simple premise in the book.

As far as investing guidance, Peter Lynch, who ran the Magellan Fund during its peak years, has several excellent books such as "Beating the Street."  They describe his approach and statistically analyze how keeping your money in the market vastly increases your financial gains over time, despite rises and falls.

Also.... John Maudlin's "Outside the Box" is one of the best financial news letters out there.  He regularly has guest writers with expertise in different areas, such as Stratfor's George Friedman on geopolitical issues, as well as leading brokers from all over the world.  The newsletter is free: http://www.investorsinsight.com/blogs/thoughts_from_the_frontline/default.aspx

Good Luck!
Russ



23  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / YEAR OF THE RAT! on: February 06, 2008, 07:06:21 AM
The sky is alight with fireworks here in Kunming, and it sounds like a warzone outside.  In China, every stret has explosions non-stop for days to celebrate the New Year and to scare away bad luck and bad spirits that might be lurking.  What a great tradition!

I have been told that because the Rat is a water sign, and normally earth beats water, which are in ascendant this year, but because of the Rat's strength, it will mean a year of upheaval.

Here we go!!!!!

春节快乐!   afro  Happy Spring Festival!

Russ
DBMA Kunming
24  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: January 12, 2008, 12:54:10 AM
Wow!  A great article about economic realities..... trade deficits with China, and Canada... the role of savings, and the impact of taxes.....

(and the U.S. Presidential Candidates misunderstanding of them).

In this issue:
What Are They Thinking?
The Reality of Trade Deficits
Fair Tax Nonsense
How to Create an Immigration Depression
Stimulate the Economy by Cutting Spending?
Tax Hikes to Help Us Grow?
Europe, Phoenix, and My Conference in La Jollal

In the past week, I have been in the car coming home late from work, with the presidential debates are on the radio. It is very discouraging to listen to what passes for economic literacy among the candidates. In reality, many candidates are espousing policies that are quite dangerous at worst, or simply misleading at best. Far too many in both parties tell a frustrated America what it wants to hear, rather than the economic reality. The Republicans have some of the worst offenders.

So, today we will look at some economic reality. We tackle trade deficits, the dollar, taxes (the "Fair Tax"), how should we stimulate the economy as we slip into recession, and global trade. I think we will cover enough that I can just about guarantee to offend most of my readers at some point. But the main point I want you to take away from all this is that the simple one-line answers given at these debates might work to fool most of the voters and tell them what they want to hear, but they are not based in economic reality. While this is of more interest to US citizens, the principles apply across borders. So, let's jump right in.

The Reality of Trade Deficits

The trade deficit jumped this month by almost 10%, to $63 billion. To hear the candidates talk, we can lower the deficit by forcing China to allow its currency to rise, increase our exports because of a lower dollar, stop our dependence on high-priced foreign oil, etc. Whatever the problems are, they are not of our making.

Let's look at the reality. I asked my friends at Plexus to create a few charts for me. First, let's see if a lower dollar will have a major impact on the deficit. The deficit is in red, and the numbers for the dollar index are on the right. Notice that from 1992 until 2002 the dollar got stronger and the trade deficit rose. Of course, there was the period from the end of '93 until '95 where the dollar dropped almost 20% and had seemingly very little effect on the trade deficit.

Now notice that from 2002 until the present the dollar has gone down and the trade deficit has exploded. If a weaker dollar were the answer, then one would expect the trade deficit to improve. Yet, the deficit has roughly doubled since 2002 while the dollar has dropped by more than a third. Using a trade-weighted dollar index would produce the same visual results, although the trade-weighted dollar has dropped by "only" 25%.

As I have maintained for years, I expect the Chinese to allow their currency to rise slowly. By the time the next president can have a foreign policy team in place to focus on the issue, the Chinese will have allowed the yuan to rise another 15% or so. This will bring it very close to the 30% increase in valuation that the China hawks in Congress have been wanting. The reality will be that the Chinese will have done almost all the heavy lifting within 18 months.

What will be the result? It means that the $325 billion in goods and services that we buy from China will cost us 10-15% more than it does now. Will we buy 15% less? Not if that is how we want to spend our money. And that brings us to the next chart. While there is not an exact correlation, the trade deficit rises as consumer spending rises, which makes sense if you think about it.

Want to see the real problem at the root cause of the trade deficit? The one that candidates absolutely cannot mention from the debate podiums? Look at the next chart:

No, the simple answer is that the trade deficit is not going to come down until the US starts to save more and spend less. In 1992, consumer spending was a little over 65% of GDP. It is now closer to 72%. Savings are down from 8% in that time, to barely above zero. If US consumers simply saved 5%, as we did 10 years ago, the trade deficit would come down by a lot.

But it would not go away, because we, like all developed countries, are addicted to energy consumption, and for now that means oil. We imported $34 billion in petroleum products in November, a jump of 10% over the next highest month on record. (By the way, you can get 47 pages of small-print numbers on all aspects of trade at the main web site at the US Census Bureau at http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/current_press_release/press.html. The data I cite is from there.)

In large part, that is because of soaring oil prices. But it may get worse. We actually imported less oil in November in terms of barrels of oil than the average for the last year, but the price was up from an average of $72 in October to almost $80 in November. Oil at $95 has not yet made it into the actual price. Another $15 a barrel could add as much as $50 billion to the annual trade deficit.

That means oil alone will soon be more than 60% of our trade deficit, if oil stays above $90 a barrel. Hard to cut the deficit with a lower dollar if we keep buying expensive oil.

Some random items from pages 21-22 of the report. We imported $193 billion in autos for the first 11 months of the year. $618 million in sugar. $118 billion in TV's, VCR's and other electronic gadgets. We imported $219 billion just in crude oil.

Quick: who's our biggest trading partner? Canada, by a wide margin. We import almost the same from Canada as we do from China ($289 billion to $295 billion), but we also send them $229 billion. Yes, we ran a trade deficit with Canada of $59 billion for the first 11 months of the year. ($67 billion with Mexico.) The rapidly rising Canadian dollar has barely made a dent in the deficit. Yet Senators Schumer and Graham (bipartisan economic illiterates) think a rising Chinese currency will lower the trade deficit with China when it has done no such thing with Canada, and dropped the $112 billion deficit with Europe by just 10%, almost entirely composed of lower imports and only a little by increased exports.

And yes, our deficit with China is going to be in the $260 billion (annualized) range. Dropping that by 10% would not change the deficit that much. You reduce the trade deficit by spending less and exporting more.

However, we would have to grow exports by 90% to balance the trade deficit. Exports are up by 12% over a year ago, and most categories are up, but it is simply not realistic to think we can grow our way out of the trade deficit.

The heavy lifting on reducing the deficit is going to be by a reduction in spending. And that is only going to happen when people realize they have not saved enough for retirement and their homes are not a piggy bank that can be cashed out for retirement. And reduced consumer spending will not happen on just imports. It will be across the board and a drag on the economy. Wishing for a lower trade deficit may bring along problems that are not mentioned in the debates.

Yes, if we can develop coal-to-natural-gas technologies (there is considerable hope on that front), bio-fuels (not ethanol, which is a really bad idea, unless you grow corn) and a conversion to electric-based cars, the developed world can rid itself of oil addiction. But that is going to be at least 10 years down the road, if not a lot longer.

So, the next time some candidate says we have to lower the trade deficit, ask him how he plans to do that. Exactly what policy is going to make a difference, unless we erect trade barriers? See if the candidate says we need to spend less.

Fair Tax Nonsense

The only candidate I will specifically mention is Mike Huckabee. His espousal of the Fair Tax demonstrates his lack of understanding of reality and economics. Basically, Fair Tax proponents want a 23% sales tax to replace every type of government tax. No more income, corporate, social security, or Medicare taxes. And everyone gets a $5,000 or so "prebate" which covers the taxes up to the poverty level. What could be simpler or more fair?

No one would like to get rid of the IRS more than I. I spend way too much on accounting for taxes and such. But this is not the way to do it.

First of all, the 23% they talk about is really 30%. Under the proposal, if an item sells for $100, then $23 of that would go to the government (said to be tax-inclusive). That means the item really costs $77 and the tax is an additional $23 or about 30% (said to be the tax-exclusive rate). Add an average 7% for state sales tax and we are now up to 37%. But wait, it gets worse.

That 23% number simply won't produce the revenues they suggest. That assumes the government will pay the tax, so the budget has to go up. It also assumes that there is 100% compliance and everyone pays that 37% (yeah, right - just like they do the income tax). Bruce Bartlett writes this week in the Wall Street Journal:

"A 2000 estimate by Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation found the tax-inclusive rate would have to be 36% and the tax-exclusive rate would be 57%. In 2005, the U.S. Treasury Department calculated that a tax-exclusive rate of 34% would be needed just to replace the income tax, leaving the payroll tax in place. But if evasion were high then the rate might have to rise to 49%. If the Fair Tax were only able to cover the limited sales tax base of a typical state, then a rate of 64% would be required (89% with high evasion)."

44 states have income taxes. They would have to repeal their income taxes and raise their sales taxes in order for individuals not to have to file annual income tax returns.

Do you really want to add 30% to the cost of a new home? And pay an extra 30% in interest on the borrowing price? 30-40% more for your legal services? Do you want your rents to go up 30%? Do you really think that massive evasion would not follow? We would move back to a black market cash economy so fast it would take all of Ben Bernanke's printing presses working overtime to create enough cash for the black market economy.

Yes, in theory it would mean that exports would be priced more competitively, as corporate taxes are removed. The idea as theory is not entirely without merit, but every independent study I have read suggests the number for the tax when combined with state taxes would be north of 40% and maybe more like 50%.

Further, this is a tax hike on the middle class. If you make less than $15,000 you win. If you make more than $200,000 you win, because you actually save more and spend less of your income. This is a nice populist proposal which sounds good but is economically challenged. It only works on someone who has not read about the problems.

Let me give you two links if you want to read more. One is to Bartlett's article and the other is to the people at Fact Check (a very good site for lots of facts on a lot of things) http://opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110010523 and http://www.factcheck.org/taxes/unspinning_the_fairtax.html.

What would I do about tax reform? Dick Armey had it right: flat and low and simple. It seems like every ex-communist country has it figured out. It is just we capitalists that can't get it right.

How to Create an Immigration Depression

The call by Huckabee and others to deport 12,000,000 illegal immigrants is simply economic suicide. It would create a depression (not just a minor recession) in short order. Let's reduce productivity by 10-15%. Let's reduce consumer spending by 7-8%. Shut down hundreds of thousands of businesses who could not get workers they need. Who will pick the crops? Or do any of a hundred jobs that Americans don't want to do? It would drive up labor costs and create inflation. It would be a disaster of Biblical proportions.

Now, I am all for controlling the border. I want to know who is coming in. But we have to deal with reality, and the reality is that we need those workers who are here. The economy simply will not function without them. You can't send them home and then tell them to apply and hope they can get back in, and then expect business to function as usual. It will take years for a bureaucracy to handle the paperwork.

Go ahead. Close the borders. Find out who is here illegally and make sure they do not have a criminal record. If so, they go. The rest need to get documented, and we need to radically increase the number of immigrants we allow (after we control the borders!), especially educated workers who can help us build our knowledge economy.

And yes, this is amnesty. That is the cost of not controlling the border all these years. Nothing we can do about it, unless we want to shoot ourselves in both feet just to prove a point. Sounds rather dumb to me.

The great irony is that within ten years we are going to need even more immigrants to replace retiring boomers, as well as to pay into social security and Medicare programs. We are going to be competing with Europe for those immigrants. We need to get a head start.

And yes, it is a lot more complex than this quick analysis. But pandering to voters who for whatever reason want to stop illegal immigration by throwing out everyone who is here illegally is not the answer. Establish fines, require documents, whatever. But recognize reality and stop telling voters what they want to hear when your policies simply cannot work and will be destructive.

Stimulate the Economy by Cutting Spending?

In the Republican debate in South Carolina last night, the candidates were asked what they would do to stimulate the economy if it is rolling into recession. Nearly every candidate said "I would cut spending" as an answer.

I guess they skipped that class in Economics 101. Deficit spending is a stimulus in the short term. Cutting spending in the short term would be the opposite. I am a huge proponent of cutting spending, smaller government, balanced budgets, etc. But you don't stimulate an economy that is rolling into recession by cutting spending. Dumb answer, and those who are doing the questioning should call them on their economic garbage.

Tax Hikes to Help Us Grow?

The Democratic candidates agree that the Bush tax cuts needs to be repealed. So, in 2010 we face the largest tax increase in history if that is to be the case. Want to double the dividend and capital gain taxes? Vote for Hillary or Obama. Watch your stocks tank.

They want to "tax the rich" and make more for middle class tax cuts. Sounds nice, but let's look at the facts. The bottom half of taxpayers only pay 3% of the total income taxes collected, which is 1% less than before the Bush tax cuts. 44% of the US population, or 122 million people, pays no income tax at all.

The richest 1% of the country pay 39% of all taxes ($365,000 income and up), which is 3% more than before the Bush tax cuts, under the Clinton tax policy. The top 5% ($145,000) pay 60% of all taxes (up 5% from 1999); and the top 25%, with income over $62,000, pays paid 86% of all taxes. It seems to me that the rich are paying their fair share. Every category is paying more now than under Clinton, except the bottom 75%.

Under any Democratic plan, they would want more than 50% of US citizens to pay no income taxes. If you pay no taxes, why do you care if we run deficits? Polls clearly show that those who pay no taxes are overwhelmingly against tax cuts, as they think it will cut their entitlements and benefits. The plan is clearly to build a constituency of voters who will vote Democrat to increase taxes on someone else and spend the money on programs for them.

Any increase in taxes at the levels proposed by Democrats is by definition anti-growth. Government spending is not as efficient or productive as private spending. It will also be a large drag on the stock market. 2010 is now less than two years away. Congress is going to have to deal with tax policy in 2009 or risk a major economic setback. See how safe your job or business will be in a second recession within a few years, like we saw in 1980-82.

A repeal of the Bush tax cuts would raise taxes on the bottom 75% of the country, and cut taxes for the rich, as a percentage of total taxes paid.

I can go on, but I have probably offended enough readers for one weekend.

Europe, Phoenix, and My Conference in La Jolla

I am going to be in Phoenix February 9-10, speaking several times at the Cambridge House Resource Investment Conference. This is a large, free conference with an outstanding line-up of speakers, mostly focused on natural resources and gold. If you are in the area, or simply looking for more information on gold and natural resources, you should consider attending. As noted, the conference is free if you pre-register. You can find out more by going to: http://www.cambridgehouse.com/mauldin/access.html and clicking on "Phoenix."

I am off to Europe next Saturday for a week, and am now scheduled to go back April 16-18. I trust the weather will be better in April. Details to follow in a few weeks on the second trip.

We are finalizing plans for the Annual Strategic Investment Conference, co-hosted by Altegris Investments in La Jolla. It will be April 10-12, so save the dates. This is a very high-level conference with nationally known speakers and some of the best hedge fund managers I know. Attendees consistently rate it the best conference they attend all year.

The kids are now off and gone after being here for most of the holidays. The house is quiet and the tree is (finally) out, with all the decorations packed for another year. It is a great pleasure to watch them grow and mature, talking about decisions, anticipating graduation and new jobs. Abbi has been an intern for the Tulsa 66ers, a minor league basketball team, but she was recently hired on as paid staff, running floor operations. Clearly management there knows a good thing. Now if Mark Cuban can get the same vision, maybe Abbi can move closer to Dad.

There have been times when I thought seven kids was a little much, but now I realize I am a blessed man. Seven is just about the perfect number.

It is time once again to hit the send button. Have a great week.

Your working harder than he would like to analyst,

John Mauldin
John@FrontLineThoughts.com

Copyright 2008 John Mauldin. All Rights Reserved
25  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: December 13, 2007, 07:49:55 AM
A Friend Writes:

'A young man trudges along the frozen streets of Moscow, wrapping his scarf and coat tighter about himself. Looking around, he sees the homeless and the poor - people swilling home-made potato vodka and standing in long lines for toilet paper, and he vows to himself: "As god as my witness, I WILL own Machine Head."'

26  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia on: December 12, 2007, 10:46:11 AM
You have to admit.... any post grouping BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN and DEEP PURPLE together deserves its own thread, but I digress.

Stratfor is good, but considered "alarmist" in professional intel circles.

Which indicates two things:

1) Medvedev's musical "obsessions" indicate that he has good taste and that he is discernibly human from most politicians... which is much more than we learn from the "expert" analysts.

and

2)  We think we know much more than we do, which is indicated by our constant categorizing that tries to place the "unknown" into a neat pile, when in reality we have no way of predicting what will, or might take place.

I submit that Medvedev's musical tastes are equally as pertinent to getting to know what he might do, and whom he is, as anything else we may read.  And, fortunately for us, they are good!   afro

As for Medvedev being his own man.... many times, a U.S. President has picked a Supreme Court Justice precisely because of the way he felt the Justice would vote on matters, and has been sadly mistaken by the impartiality of the Justice once a member of the Court.

I am excited to have a fellow music lover potentially in a position of great world power.  As my Father wrote: "At least its not Wagner!"
27  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian Leaders (Putin, Medvedev, Oligarchs, etc) on: December 11, 2007, 08:47:15 AM
Heavy Metal Fanatic To Succeed PUTIN As Russian Leader

Russia's RIA Novosti reports: The man backed by Vladimir Putin for next year's presidential election is a heavy-metal-loving 42-year-old whose surname comes from the Russian word for 'bear'.

First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was nominated by the ruling United Russia party and three other smaller pro-Kremlin parties on Monday afternoon. President Putin later said on national television: "I have known Dmitry Medvedev well for over 17 years, and I completely and fully support his candidature."

The man who may well become leader of the largest nation on Earth said he had spent much of his youth compiling cassettes of popular Western groups, "Endlessly making copies of BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN and DEEP PURPLE."

All these groups were on state-issued blacklists during Medvedev's Soviet-era schooldays.

"The quality was awful, but my interest colossal," he said.

Medvedev went on to boast of his collection of DEEP PURPLE LPs, saying that he had searched for the albums for many years.

"Not reissues, but the original albums," he added, concluding that, "If you set yourself a goal you can achieve it."

Read more RIA Novosti.
28  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Larry Hartsell died on: August 22, 2007, 12:19:41 AM
Larry Hartsell was a very insightful martial artist, and one bad dude.

Several years ago at a seminar in Connecticut, I demonstrated some of the Snaggletooth material and DBMA Siniwali for him and he loved it.

It was an honor to receive his praise and it inspired me to train harder.

I'm in Bangkok today...  I will be sure to go out tonight and celebrate in his honor!

Woof,
Russ
29  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Good Luck everyone at the Gathering. on: June 20, 2007, 12:30:12 PM
I remember seeing Sled Dog fight, along with two generations of his students, at the Summer 2001 Gathering after the first DBMA Camp.  He drove his opponent's straight to the walls (hence the name "Sled Dog")!

What a great memory....  grin

WOOF!
Russ
30  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: June 08, 2007, 12:20:01 PM
Needs some work, but not bad...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8PEIVitHXQ

 afro
31  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans on: May 26, 2007, 12:14:15 PM
Historian Reflects
On War and Valor
And a Son's Death
Andrew Bacevich Opposed
Iraq Conflict but, in Grief,
He Still Believes in Serving
By GREG JAFFE
May 26, 2007; Page A1 WSJ

WALPOLE, Mass. -- In late 2004, with the Iraq war raging, Andrew Bacevich's son told him that he was joining the Army.

Mr. Bacevich's son didn't fit the profile of a typical soldier. First Lt. Andrew Bacevich spent his teenage years in affluent Boston and Washington, D.C., suburbs. His father was a professor at Boston University and a prominent conservative critic of the war, writing in some of the country's largest newspapers that the pre-emptive conflict was immoral, unnecessary and almost certain to lead to defeat.
[A B]

But the father was also a retired colonel and Vietnam veteran. He had argued that it was essential that the children of America's lawmakers, professors, journalists and lawyers serve in the defense of the nation. Too often, the affluent and well-educated treat national defense as a job they can contract out to the same people who bused their tables and mowed their lawns, he wrote in his 2005 book "The New American Militarism." That made it too easy for the president to take the nation to war in the first place, and left too few people willing to hold the commander in chief accountable when things went awry, he warned.

So the elder Mr. Bacevich didn't discourage his son from becoming an Army officer. Rather, he helped him.

On May 13, Lt. Bacevich, age 27, was killed by a suicide bomber near Balad, a small Sunni town north of Baghdad.

"Should I have said to my son, 'I don't want you to join the Army'?" the father, who is 59, asks himself quietly today. It is a question that he says likely will dog him for years to come.

Mr. Bacevich, who served in Vietnam from 1970-1971, and his son shared the same square jaw and confident smile. They also shared an "ironic kinship," he says. "In the long military history of the U.S., which has featured many victories and glorious moments, my son and I managed to pick the two wars that stand out for all the wrong reasons," he says.

Mr. Bacevich grew up in Illinois and attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His parents both served in World War II, but neither pushed him to go to West Point. "Military service seemed to be a worthy thing to do -- that was the milieu in which I grew up," he says.

He fought in Vietnam and stayed in the Army through the painful rebuilding stretch that followed, serving in tank units and earning a graduate degree from Princeton in history. He and his wife also have three daughters. After 23 years, he retired as a colonel. Mr. Bacevich, who says he registered as an independent, voted for George W. Bush in 2000 but not in 2004.

His son, Andy, who spent his early childhood on Army bases, signed up for the Army ROTC at Boston University. "I think he wanted to do what his dad had done," Mr. Bacevich says. After his second year of ROTC, Andy applied to go to Army jump school over the summer to learn to be a paratrooper. A routine Army medical screening found that he had had childhood asthma, which disqualified him from serving in the military. Mr. Bacevich took his son to Massachusetts General Hospital for a test that his son hoped would show that the effects of the disease had disappeared. Andy failed it.

He finished Boston University and went to work for his state senator, and then for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In 2004, the Army, which was having trouble finding soldiers to fight in Iraq, loosened its standards to allow recruits with mild asthma. Andy enlisted, went through basic training and was accepted into the Army's Officer Candidate School. Mr. Bacevich says he was "inordinately proud" of the fact that his son got his commission by rising through the enlisted ranks and Officer Candidate School. "It was the hard way," he says.

Andy was initially assigned to the field artillery branch, which fires big cannons. But he wanted to be a tank officer, as his dad had been. So Mr. Bacevich called a friend who was a serving general and asked whether it would be possible to move his son. "It happened," Mr. Bacevich says. "Andy drove off in his new black Mustang to the armor school in Fort Knox, Ky."
[Andrew Bacevich, Jr.]

In October 2006, Andy was sent to Iraq as a platoon leader responsible for the lives of 15 soldiers. Around that time, Mr. Bacevich pondered the value of life in Iraq. An Iraqi civilian killed mistakenly by U.S. forces merits a payment from the Pentagon of just $2,500 to his or her family, he wrote in the Washington Post. The family of a U.S. soldier killed in action typically receives about $400,000, he noted. "In launching a war advertised as a high-minded expression of U.S. idealism, we have wandered into a swamp of moral ambiguity," he wrote.

He never mentioned his son in his writings and asked reporters quoting him in stories not to write about his son, either. "I didn't want to burden him with my political baggage. My son had an enormous responsibility and a tremendously difficult job," he says. When his son called home from Iraq, he often sounded exhausted, Mr. Bacevich says. In February, he spent a two-week leave with his family. He seemed physically drained.

When his son was back in Iraq, Mr. Bacevich emailed him nearly every day with news about his family and Boston sports teams. "I wanted him to know that whatever the stresses he was enduring there was a normal life to which we hoped he would return," Mr. Bacevich says. At the same time, he railed in public even more loudly against the war. "The truth is that next to nothing can be done to salvage Iraq," he wrote in the Los Angeles Times on May 9. "We are spectators, witnesses, bystanders caught in a conflagration that we ourselves, in an act of monumental folly, touched off."

Then, on Mother's Day, Andy and his men stopped a suspicious van and ordered the men inside to get out. One of them fired a shot at Andy, who shot back, according to an email to Mr. Bacevich from Andy's company commander. A second man from the van began walking toward Andy and two of his soldiers. The man blew himself up, killing Andy and badly wounding a second U.S. soldier.

Today, Mr. Bacevich finds some solace in small things. His son was out in front sharing the risk with his soldiers when he died. "I would not want to make more of it than it deserves. But, yeah, my kid was doing the right thing, and it took bravery," Mr. Bacevich says.

One of Andy's soldiers recently emailed Mr. Bacevich a photo of Andy that he had taken a few hours before Andy was killed. Mr. Bacevich has studied it for clues about his son. In the picture, Andy is not smiling, but he doesn't look unhappy. "There's a confidence and a maturity that I think suggests that in a peculiar way he found satisfaction in the service he was performing," Mr. Bacevich says.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bacevich was sitting on his back porch when the Army casualty assistance officer assigned to help his family handed him a survivor's benefit check for $100,000. For a widow with children, such checks are a lifesaver. But Mr. Bacevich doesn't need the money. "I felt sick to my stomach," he says. "The inadequacy of it just strikes you."

As a historian and former soldier, he takes clear-cut lessons from the check, his son's death and the broader war. "When you use force, the unintended consequences that result are so large and the surprises so enormous that it really reaffirms the ancient wisdom to which we once adhered -- namely, to see force as something to be used only as a last resort." In the future, he says, historians will wonder how a country such as the U.S. ever came to see military force as "such a flexible, efficient, cost-effective and supposedly useful instrument."

For a father, the lessons are far less clear-cut. When he was writing against the war, which was often, he told himself he was doing the best he could to end the conflict.

Should he have told his son not to volunteer for such a war? "I believe in service to country. I believe soldiering is an honorable profession. There is no clear right and wrong here," he says. "What I tried to do was inadequate."
32  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Yoga on: May 20, 2007, 06:46:43 AM
Yesterday, we began class at the Kunming Botanical Gardens with some Yoga stretching.

A) The first exercise was a fairly traditional movement that Raw Dog used to have us do before training Muay Thai:

1) legs Indian style (Native American I should say!), chin up, reach forward with your arms and rest your elbows on the ground in from of your knees as far forward as you can manage.  Keep your chin up and face forward.

I was shocked to see that one of my students, a 2nd Degree black belt in TKD and current teacher who is very athletic and flexible, could barely place his elbows on the ground in front of him.  Does this indicated that flexibility within the hips versus in the hamstrings and quads (as most TKD requires) are perhaps not similarly attained?  I warned him that as he got older, hip injuries from TKD could be debilitating if he did not loosen up his hips.

2) keeping legs in the same position, place either hand at the base of the spine, palm down, wrist facing toward base of spine.  Use the other hand on your knee to assist you in twisting your torso so that you are facing backward and looking directly over your shoulder.  Often, this will crack my back as well!

Complete 3 sets of the movements above.

B) Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Yoga stretch-

This is an isolation of a Yoga Jiu Jitsu movement that Crafty Dog showed us in June 2001 in the IAMA DBMA Class.

The full movement rotates your legs either clockwise or counterclockwise beneath you at the knees while you move between a seated position to rising on your shins to complete a circle with your legs.  No hand involvement is allowed.  You simply allow your legs to rotate beneath you while you maintain a quiet upper torso.

The isolation takes place while one leg is to the rear and one leg is in front of you bent at the knee with the sole of your foot facing toward your opposite quadricept.  Lean forward onto this front leg and feel the stretch in your hip.  Alternate legs.  Raw Dog showed this isolation to one student who was having a lot of lower back pain.  Actually, I think he mentioned he had seen Dr. Gyi do this one.  Hmmm......

The next movement is a common stretch:
Seated, soles of your feet together in front of you, push knees down with elbows as you pull up on your feet.

To cool down, we worked two of Dr. Gyi's Dhanda Yoga movements using a 36" stick for assisted stretching and massage:

1) side grip deltoid stretch
2) overhead lat. dorsi stretch

And one Letha Yoga movement (I believe) that Guro Crafty showed us in the DBMA Class at IAMA the day before the November 2003 Gathering:

Partner lies face down, wrap your arms at your bicep around his or her ankles.  Adjust your legs into a squatting position (commonly seen in Asia as waiting for the bus or taking a dump, also seen/ known in the West for the posture of skiers while tucking during the Downhill Event in Alpine Skiing) as you extend your partners legs into a stretch position and raise their hips from the ground slightly.  Use your leverage from this squatting position to stretch your partner's hips.

And if that's not thoroughly confusing.... you should see what we did during the actual class!
33  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: May 13, 2007, 09:07:47 AM
OK... Don't laugh too hard.... I only had this Korean Cha Cha music and several Chinese love songs to choose from for the background music.

However, you may like the blade work! 

Enjoy,

Russ



New blade in Shangri-la (Yunnan, China).

34  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: April 25, 2007, 11:47:54 PM
Russ or Robert,
  What backround did these guys have?  In clip 9 there is some great footwork going on.

Gruhn

Just saw these today!

The crew in Beijing have mostly MMA backgrounds.  Some have worked a little Illustrisimo.

We had a lot of fun that day!

Woof,
Russ
35  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: February 09, 2007, 06:53:34 AM
Congratulations "C-Cyborg Dog!"  I can only imagine....  afro

Miss ya',
Russ
36  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Leo Gaje Seminar in Connecticut on: March 08, 2006, 11:02:33 AM
My good friend and teacher, Ron Kosakowski, is hosting GT Gaje for a Seminar this April:  http://psdtc.com/Events/Leo_Gaje_seminar.htm

Ron just got back from training in Mindanao!
37  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Protestor In England.... on: February 17, 2006, 10:33:51 AM
Protestor In England....


http://www.filedump.nl/plaatjes/20060203BritishMuslims_ps.jpg

 

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming!
Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of it {Spiritus Mundi}
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
 
William Butler Yeats
38  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Krabi Krabong in the Movies on: September 08, 2005, 10:42:18 AM
Shockingly enough....

There is a Bond movie with Roger Moore as 007 in which there is a Krabi Krabong sword fight!

I just saw it two weeks ago on AMC.
39  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Australian Whipboxing on: September 06, 2005, 10:47:27 AM
http://www.whipboxing.com/
40  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / New Staff DVD on: July 25, 2005, 10:29:54 AM
Ouch!  embarassed

What a great looking DVD!
41  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Charles Kangas: Sayoc Kali 7/30-31 in Signal Hill on: July 22, 2005, 11:41:36 AM
Charles is a good teacher.  I've trained with him many times.

Enjoy,
Russ C-"Bad Dog" Iger
42  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Leo Gaje in Connecticut, April 9th & 10th on: April 09, 2005, 10:35:12 PM
The seminar today in Connecticut was great!

We ended it with an hour of Dumog...., some of the most practical and efficient empty hand fighting I have ever been taught.

I've been to Guro Inosanto's seminar where he teaches Dumog and it is always puzzling, but the material today was presented masterfully.

GT Gaje showed his incredible skill and talent today.  Seeing him teach reminded me of the DBMA phrase: "Walk As A Warrior For All Your Days!"

Don't miss a chance to train with this man.  Exhausting, but well worth it!

Woof,
Russ
43  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Leo Gaje in Connecticut, April 9th & 10th on: February 24, 2005, 09:59:17 AM
Leo Gaje in Connecticut, April 9th & 10th:

http://www.psdtc.com/Events/Leo_Gaje_seminar.htm
44  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Filipino Martial Artist Blade Collectors Dream Swords Knives on: February 15, 2005, 01:25:57 PM
Filipino Martial Artist and Blade Collectors Dream Swords and Knives

Filipino Karambits - http://www.psdtc.com/Filipino.KARAMBIT.htm

Pakal Blades - http://www.psdtc.com/Filipino.Pakal.blade.1.htm

Swords from the Philippines:

Ginunting - http://www.psdtc.com/Filipino.Ginunting.htm

Barong - http://www.psdtc.com/Filipino.Barong.htm

Kalis - http://www.psdtc.com/Filipino.Kalis.htm

Kris - http://www.psdtc.com/Filipino.Kris.htm

Kampilan - http://www.psdtc.com/Filipino.KARAMBIT.htm
45  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Marine Charged With Murder in Iraq Deaths on: February 15, 2005, 08:57:07 AM
This is total bs!  A soldier being charged with murder during a combat operation!

http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,FL_marine_021205,00.html

From: Talbott 1ST Lt

go google - check out ilario pantano marine - #1 guy in IOC class after me.
46  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Band of brothers, sisters can fight as well as play.&q on: February 07, 2005, 09:11:01 AM
This from the February 4th Boston Herald.  The headline reads; "Band of brothers, sisters can fight as well as play." There's also an interview of Kristin and picture of her in front of one of Saddam's palaces.

http://news.bostonherald.com/international/view.bg?articleid=66844
47  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause: on: February 01, 2005, 12:43:05 PM
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/iraq/tikrit-cc.htm

This link has photos, maps, and the different camps including FOB Danger where Kristin and her unit are stationed.
48  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / National Guard soldiers arriving in Tikrit on: February 01, 2005, 11:15:28 AM
My brother in law's sister, Kristin Duarte, just arrived in Tikrit, Iraq.  She and her National Guard unit were brought there to escort truck conveys (a very dangerous job).

Her Father forwarded this to me from their unit commander's wife:

"If anyone knows anyone who is in a position to donate such items, or has contacts with the major computer companies Dell, Gateway, HP, etc.. and can make a request for donation, please contact me and we will make sure they get them."

Does anyone have any resources or connections in this area?

Thanks,
Russ
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"I just wanted to let you know that our unit has arrived safely in Tikrit.  Two of our soldiers are in route with equipment, but the bulk of the band have arrived.

The band is staying in their own palace.  They have electricity and running water.  At this time there is no computer access, but they will be requesting to have the building wired for access.

Unfortunately, two of our soldiers have had their personal laptops stolen and one soldier left a mini DVD player on the plane.  If anyone knows anyone who is in a position to donate such items, or has contacts with the major computer companies Dell, Gateway, HP, etc.. and can make a request for donation, please contact me and we will make sure they get them.  Most companies have been very generous to soldiers serving in Iraq, and it can't hurt to make a request.

I will let you know when the band has arrived in total."

Contact Info:
r_iger@hotmail.com
49  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Filipino Kun Tao Workshop in Connecticut on: January 05, 2005, 10:57:47 AM
Interesting and practical system for tactically minded individuals:

http://www.psdtc.com/Events/Kuntao_WS.htm

Filipino Kun Tao Workshop
Conducted by Ron Kosakowski
Sunday, February 6th 2005, 10:30am to 3:00 pm

Location: Practical Self Defense Training Center, 2148 South Main St., Waterbury, Connecticut
50  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tsunami Relief: What we can do on: January 03, 2005, 11:15:31 AM
I just made a small donation to Save the Children.  I have worked with them before in SE Asia and they are excellent at getting aid out to those in need.  Anything you can afford to give will help.  It doesn't have to be a lot.

http://www.savethechildren.org/radio_asia_earthquake.asp?stationpub=hp_asia_overview
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