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151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Zang!!! on: November 19, 2015, 01:33:17 PM
152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More quality work from Scott Grannis on: November 19, 2015, 12:00:56 PM
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / RE-examining Grahman's strategy on: November 19, 2015, 11:55:27 AM
Generally, most of us here have sneered at Lindsay Graham, but what say we now about his recommended strategy in light of the current situation and trajectory?
154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 19, 2015, 11:43:34 AM
Underlining the point I have been making for a while now-- we need to keep our eye on the 1-on-1 with Hillary numbers!!!
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Serious Study of Muslim attitudes and politics around the world on: November 19, 2015, 11:42:17 AM
156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo: Drone strikes on ISIS-- shouldn't this be secret? on: November 18, 2015, 11:31:23 PM
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Rand Paul nails it concerning previous refugee attackers on: November 18, 2015, 08:45:17 PM
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SS St. Louis on: November 18, 2015, 08:43:25 PM

"This is a hilariously ignorant representation of the SS St. Louis voyage.

The St. Louis originally set sail for Cuba, which unbeknownst to the passengers had enacted stricter immigration policies since they embarked and required a $500 bond and written authorization from two Cuban cabinet members.

The US tried to intervene and have them admitted to Cuba, but the Cuban government refused. Privation was rampant after the Great Depression and immigrants were seen as competitors for scarce jobs and resources.

After negotiation, the reason they were refused admittance was and remained that nobody was willing to post the $453,500 required to admit them to Cuba, because the truth is that when it's not about rhetoric and it's about dollars and cents and actually doing something, almost nobody gives a shit about refugees.

They weren't allowed in Florida because of precedent. The US had already filled its quota of immigrants from Germany and Austria that year, and there was a backlog of several years. Admitting them would allow them to the front of the line ahead of over nine hundred others who had already been guaranteed immigration. Is there any incentive to follow the law if you can just sail over and plead to be allowed to the front of the line? Nope.

After the ship returned, 254 died in the Holocaust, half the number quoted, so I'm calling bullshit on this one. The full story of the voyage is available here:

- Commentary provided by Henryk Bronislaw Hinkle-Zaleski.
159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 18, 2015, 05:13:33 PM
Kasich:  Yeah, weird-- and it will hit a lot of people that way.

160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syrians with Greek passports stopped in Honduras on: November 18, 2015, 05:06:28 PM
161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen.Ted Cruz challenges Baraq to a debate on: November 18, 2015, 12:49:14 PM
162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: Dems going over a cliff on ISIS on: November 18, 2015, 12:04:54 PM
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Anonymous takes down 300+ ISIS Twitter accounts on: November 18, 2015, 11:56:39 AM
164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq's cynical refugee ploy on: November 18, 2015, 11:51:05 AM
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / ISIS jihadi released in plea deal on: November 18, 2015, 11:45:04 AM
166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / FBI has nearly 1,000 active ISIS probes inside US on: November 18, 2015, 10:33:44 AM
167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen.Ted Cruz: refugee criteria, strategy for ISIS on: November 18, 2015, 10:17:13 AM
168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Previous refugees arrested on: November 18, 2015, 10:02:00 AM
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Super PAC ad for Dr. Ben on: November 18, 2015, 09:50:19 AM
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some parting thoughts on Gov. Bobby Jindal on: November 18, 2015, 09:47:39 AM
A Stupid GOP Electorate Takes a Pass on the Best Governor in the 2016 Field

Alright. I’m ready to just burn down the primary process.

Do you why I was such a big Bobby Jindal fan? Look at the condition of his state the day he took office, and look at the condition of his state now. Yes, Jindal’s approval rating is way below its peak, and two-thirds of Louisianans think the state is headed in the wrong direction. I’ll explain more on that in a bit. But let’s take a time machine back to 2007, right before Jindal was elected.

Democratic governor Kathleen Blanco had performed so abysmally during Katrina and its aftermath, she chose to not run for reelection. The state-run program to distribute federal disaster relief funds was in typical disarray. By January 2007 -- 17 months after Katrina! -- fewer than 250 of an estimated 100,000 applicants had received payments from the program. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin was still talking about keeping his devastated locale “chocolate city.” (In 2014, Nagin was convicted on 20 of 21 charges of wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering related to bribes from city contractors before and after Hurricane Katrina; he was sentenced to ten years in federal prison.) The FBI raided the local congressman’s home and found $90,000 cash in his freezer; he was later sentenced to 13 years in prison. Eighty percent of New Orleans was flooded, and 70 percent of homes were damaged. High crime, failing schools, a state government gripped by incompetence and corruption . . . You think the United States of America in 2015 is a mess? Louisiana in 2007 was in as bad a situation as any state in the union has been in the past 50 years.

Look at Bobby Jindal. Just look at him. He’s 90 pounds soaking wet, he speaks a million words a minute, and he’s got the brains for Oxford and can’t hide it at all. When he’s not nerdy, he’s square; he chose to be called “Bobby” because he liked the character on The Brady Bunch. A state that still reveres Huey Long the way the Turks revere Ataturk was never going to give a guy like him the keys to state government unless they were desperate and looking for a miracle.

So they put Bobby Jindal behind the wheel and damn, did he perform. Fed up with government corruption? Jindal recognized that nothing would work if you didn’t fix that first:

Louisiana’s dramatic jump was rooted in the state’s poor performance in 2006, when it was ranked as number 44, with only 43 points. The disappointing score motivated Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to push a sweeping ethics reform package soon after entering office in January 2008. He signed the bills in the package over a period of several days beginning March 3, 2008, and the new laws took effect this past January. They require all lawmakers to report their outside financial interests -- the first time such disclosure has ever been required in Louisiana. As a result of Jindal’s initiative, Louisiana has rocketed to the top of the Center’s rankings, with 94.5 points, earning the top slot among all 50 states.

Then there’s the economy. Here’s Forbes in 2013:

Louisiana has become one of the most attractive states to do business across a wide spectrum of both traditional and burgeoning industries. This is in large part due to governmental reforms and economic development efforts that were executed in 2008, at a time when most states were pulling back on those efforts due to the beginning of the economic recession. In the past four years, the state has improved on all major business climate rankings, excelling on several lists among the top 10, and luring in dozens of economic development projects that are creating more than 63,000 jobs and over $28 billion in new capital investment.

Just last month, New Orleans was ranked no. 1 overall in economic recovery out of the largest 100 metro areas in the United States, according to the Brookings Institution. Specifically, the Louisiana city came out first in employment, first in Gross Domestic Product output, 87th in unemployment, and 26th in housing prices.

Did Jindal have some wind at his back for much of his first term with higher oil prices in his oil-rich state? Sure, and with oil prices coming down, it’s hurting the state’s economy, one of the reasons for gloom in Jindal’s second term.

Do you like school choice? Jindal pushed for the biggest expansion of it anywhere. Do you like big, sweeping, honking reforms that actually improve schools where they were previously disastrous failures? Look to New Orleans.

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina wiped out huge swaths of the city’s infrastructure and displaced its population, a disaster that paradoxically gave the city the chance to redesign its failing school system. Rather than re-create the neighborhood-based schools that had recapitulated generations of poverty, the city created a network of public charter schools. The charters, which have open admission and public accountability, have produced spectacular results. Before the reforms, New Orleans students -- like overwhelmingly poor students in most places -- lagged far behind more affluent students. Since the reforms, the achievement gap has nearly closed. The proportion of New Orleans students performing at grade level, once half the rate of the rest of the state, now trails by just 6 percent:

If immigration’s your issue, here’s the guy who talked about assimilation and could point to his family’s life experience:

“We need to insist people that want to come to our country should come legally, should learn English and adopt our values, roll up their sleeves, and get to work,” Jindal, the Louisiana governor, said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We need to insist on assimilation. You know, in Europe they’re not doing that. They’ve got huge problems. Immigration without assimilation is invasion. That can weaken our country.”

He’s the one who kept telling people to not call him Indian-American, just “American.”

What the hell, Republican-primary voters? I mean, what the hell? A record like that, and you don’t give the guy a second look?

You know why it’s great to have a governor running for president? Because you already have this nice, big detailed record to examine to get a sense of what kind of leader they’ll be. There’s a lot less guesswork than, say, giving the keys to the Oval Office to a CEO, a brain surgeon, or a real-estate developer and saying, “good luck.”

Now, on to Jindal’s home-state troubles. He cut state government in both the easy ways and the hard ways, and people didn’t like it -- including self-identified conservatives.

Huey Long set up a bunch of state-run hospitals; a big project of Jindal’s first term was privatizing them. Here’s Rod Dreher, writing in the ironically-titled American Conservative magazine, lamenting Jindal’s decision to privatize state-run hospitals and refuse the Medicaid expansion offered under Obamacare:
He has largely privatized the state’s public hospitals, and refused as a matter of principle to take the federal Medicaid money due the state because of Obamacare. So now he can tell GOP primary voters nationwide that he stood up to Obamacare . . .

[Baton Rouge] General’s midcity ER is closing, it was announced this week. The hospital was losing $2 million each month treating the indigent, and could no longer sustain that kind of hemorrhaging. This was foreseen back in 2010, when Jindal and the GOP legislature chose to close Baton Rouge’s charity hospital:
Bill Holman, president and CEO of Baton Rouge General Medical Center, said the agreement won’t ensure that the patients who currently receive care at Earl K. Long will move to The Lake. He said an ambulance will take a patient to the closest hospital in an emergency, and when Earl K. Long closes, one of the closest hospitals will be Baton Rouge General’s mid-city campus.

Holman said his hospital couldn’t handle an influx of uninsured or Medicaid patients without the higher reimbursement rates that will be paid only to The Lake.
“We will have no choice but to close services or ration patient care to survive,” he warned.

Services are now closed. There is now no emergency room in north Baton Rouge, where the majority of the city’s poor, uninsured people live.

The title of the piece? “How Bobby Jindal Wrecked Louisiana.”

Here’s another post from Dreher at the American Conservative, this time lamenting the enormity of Jindal’s proposed cuts to higher education.

I know there must be some pro-Jindal Republicans in Louisiana somewhere, but I haven’t yet met one in the three years I’ve been back. When I ask them why they turned on him, every single one says a variation of, “Because he’s sacrificing the state for his national political ambitions.” Most of them add, “He’s destroyed LSU.”

Comes news that the Jindal Administration is forecasting cutting state funding for its public colleges and universities by $200 to $300 million.
The title of that one? “Destroying Louisiana’s Public Universities.”
Those poor public-university professors.

Hell, man, we don’t need conservatives and Republicans to make those arguments. We can get them from liberals and Democrats.

Here’s a governor willing to make the hard cuts, not just the easy ones, and he gets incoming fire from state Republicans and self-identified conservatives. The Left, hey, we count on their opposition. The wishy-washy middle who want everything funded and somebody else to pay for it -- “Hey, let’s just tax the richest one percent!” -- we figure they’ll abandon ship the moment students start protesting. But no, Jindal’s approval rating plummeted in large part because Louisiana Republicans -- many of whom would describe themselves as conservative -- turned against him for “cuts to health-care services and higher education.”

(Another portion of the dissatisfaction in Louisiana stems from locals’ believing he’s spending too much time on his presidential campaign instead of his gubernatorial duties. This is what happens when your governor or senator runs for president. This doesn’t make much sense as a gripe, whether you like or hate your governor or senator. If you like him, that means that guy you like might soon be doing his good work from the presidency, not just the Senate or governor’s mansion. If you hate the guy, why aren’t you glad he’s spending time away from his day job?)

See, a lot of us conservatives walk around in a reassuring trance believing that people like and want small government. Most people don’t. At most, they like and want small government for other people. Farmers like farm subsidies, defense-contractor employees like big spending by the Pentagon, most senior citizens explode at the slightest mention of cuts to Social Security or Medicare. Most self-identified conservatives not only don’t fight for smaller government, they fight against it when it personally impacts them. And then they turn around and complain that lawmakers never manage to reduce the size of government.
171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 18, 2015, 09:28:23 AM
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Funding campaign to buy a weapon to kill the Jews on: November 18, 2015, 09:26:47 AM
173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on full time and part time jobs on: November 17, 2015, 09:06:04 PM
The Worst Recovery Ever?For Part-Time Jobs To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 11/17/2015

Mark Twain has been attributed with saying “If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're misinformed.” And given the media’s portrayal of the job market recovery over the past six-and-a-half years, we can see where he was coming from.

We hear all the time “It’s a part-time recovery for jobs.” In reality, exactly the opposite is true. This has been the worst recovery for part-time jobs in more than 40 years! We aren’t really sure where the idea came from to begin with. Maybe it was because part-time jobs rose substantially during the last recession and people just assumed that trend continued.

Or maybe it’s because the media, playing the role of armchair economists, dug into the household side of the employment report and figured out that you can see how many part-time or full time jobs are reported each month, and they cherry-pick just the months that show large part-time gains to support their argument.

Take for instance April of 2015, the household survey showed a gain of 437,000 part-time jobs while full-time showed a 252,000 loss. So for that single month, all of the gains in household employment were due to part-time jobs. But, as with many data series, the month-to-month reports can be very volatile.

To get a better idea of what’s really going on, you need to look at the trend over at least the past year. Take that small step back, and a much clearer picture emerges. It turns out that, from October 2014 to

October 2015, the US added 2.3 million full-time jobs and actually lost 507,000 part-time jobs. So despite monthly volatility, all of the jobs created in the past year have been full-time.

The table (see PDF) shows expansions and contractions in the US economy going back to January 1970. It’s true, the last recession did see a large gain in part-time employment, but this recovery has been like nothing we have seen in the last 45 years – part-time jobs have actually declined by 276,000, while full-time jobs have risen by 9.3 million. This means 100% of the jobs that have been created in this expansion so far have been full time jobs. 100%! And the employment picture keeps improving.

Private sector payrolls have risen for 68 consecutive months, the best streak going back to at least the early 1900’s. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has been cut in half from 10% to 5% and the more expansive U-6 rate, which also includes marginally attached and discouraged workers as well as those employed part-time for economic reasons, has fallen from a high of 17.1% down to 9.8% in October.

Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t praising the strength of this economic recovery. We still call it a plow-horse. Government is too big, taxes are too high and regulation is much too onerous. And jobs could be growing faster with better policies in place, but this has certainly not been a part-time recovery. The pouting pundits trying to push that story are either cherry-picking the data or never looked at it to begin with. Either way, they are just plain wrong.
174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: November 17, 2015, 09:01:32 PM
175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The World retains its' ability to surprise: this from Interpol on: November 17, 2015, 08:23:13 PM
176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Searching for a Syrian Solution on: November 17, 2015, 05:16:00 PM
 Searching for a Syrian Solution
November 17, 2015 | 09:15 GMT Print
Text Size
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (C) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) address the media after the International Syria Support Group meeting in Vienna, Austria, on Nov. 14. (VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP/Getty Images)

In a notable breakthrough in negotiations over the weekend, the International Syria Support Group agreed during a meeting in Vienna to convene Syrian government and opposition representatives on Jan. 1, 2016, in formal negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations. The support group, made up of virtually every direct and indirect foreign state participant in the Syrian civil war, has aspired to find a solution to the destabilizing Syrian civil war, and progress has increasingly appeared to be within reach. However, serious obstacles remain that could rapidly undermine any gains the group hopes to accomplish going forward.

The current timeline for the peace plan agreed to by the International Syria Support Group is as follows: By Dec. 14, the group will reconvene to review progress so that the United Nations can seek to convene Syrian government and opposition groups in formal negotiations by Jan. 1, 2016. By May 14, 2016, a cease-fire between Syrian government and opposition groups will come into force, allowing the process for drafting a new constitution to begin. Finally, by May 14, 2017, U.N.-administered free elections will be held under the new constitution, ushering in a new government and, hopefully, bringing an end to fighting in the country.

The International Syria Support Group's aim is to get the foreign state participants in the Syrian conflict to reach an agreement on a solution to the country's civil war that would then be presented to the Syrians. The Washington Post reported that to facilitate the cease-fire, actors in the International Syria Support Group will stop all support and supplies to "various belligerents" on both sides once negotiations are underway.

Despite the latest initiative's ambitious goals, it is still unlikely that the plan will result in an effective end to the conflict. The following issues will prevent further progress in finding a solution:
Syrian Participation

The fact that no Syrian group from either the loyalist or rebel side was included in the negotiations points to the stark divisions that will plague the peace process. This was deliberate: The United States and other negotiating partners wanted to minimize friction during the talks so that the international group of negotiating powers could present a unified message to the key players in Syria.

However, the fact remains that while it will be difficult for the foreign powers to reach a consensus, it will be even harder for the warring parties on the ground in Syria. There are simply too many armed forces of varying ideologies and motivations driving the conflict.

The Opposition Picture

One of the principle difficulties in reaching an agreement, even at this early stage, is agreeing on which rebel groups should lead — let alone be included as representatives of — the opposition in the talks, if and when the talks take place. Even powers that support the rebels have significantly differing opinions. The United States, for instance, has long sought to mainly include the Free Syrian Army. However, it was recently reported that the United States, under pressure from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, also conceded to accepting Ahrar al-Sham as a core opposition group.

The Kurdish question is another unresolved issue that does not appear to have been addressed in the latest meeting or subsequent agreement. Turkey will undoubtedly be wary of any significant role given to the Syrian Kurds in upcoming negotiations, while the Kurds are sure to push for greater autonomy, conflicting with both the wider rebel and loyalist positions.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle, however, is the sheer number of armed rebel organizations in the civil war. Hundreds of groups, from the very small to the very powerful, such as the Army of Islam, Ahrar al-Sham and the wider Free Syrian Army, are fighting in Syria. Reaching a consensus on a rebel negotiating position when the rebels themselves can only really agree on the need for President Bashar al Assad's downfall could critically undermine the negotiation process.

Terrorist List

Even with a negotiated agreement between rebel groups and Damascus, the Syrian civil war would not completely stop because two major terrorist groups — the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra — would remain. The Islamic State is an uncontroversial issue since virtually all armed forces in Syria are the Islamic State's enemies. The group's attacks in Paris have also made an end to the Syrian crisis even more desirable, though the issue always had some measure of urgency. But the inclusion of Jabhat al-Nusra and similar groups on the terrorist list would considerably complicate the situation and threatens to unravel any potential agreement.

Several rebel groups including Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and the largely secular Free Syrian Army have operated and continue to operate closely with Jabhat al-Nusra. Convincing these rebel groups to disentangle themselves from their alliances with Jabhat al-Nusra, whether those alliances are ideological or out of convenience, will be difficult. It would be even more challenging to convince the same rebel groups to stop fighting the loyalist forces and turn their guns on Jabhat al-Nusra.

At the same time, continued strikes on Jabhat al-Nusra in such a narrow and clearly saturated battlefield could also rapidly undermine the negotiation process as other rebel groups are damaged. The Russians have previously struck Free Syrian Army allies of Jabhat al-Nusra, essentially arguing that they operate together and are therefore the same. The Russians will be keen to maximize the number of rebel groups on the terrorist list, likely forcing certain rebel factions into breaking from any negotiation process altogether.

Finally, Jabhat al-Nusra is hardly the only extremist group within the rebel landscape beyond the Islamic State. Jihadist groups such as Jabhat Ansar al-Din and Jund al-Aqsa maintain similar or even more extreme ideological positions. These groups will be especially opposed to a cease-fire pushed from abroad and will likely continue operations even as loyalist and rebel factions seek peace. 
Ending Support

Any effort to force belligerents in the conflict to agree to a cease-fire by withdrawing supplies and support will be complicated by the fact that many of the International Syria Support Group members are themselves active participants in the conflict. Iran and Russia are present on the ground in a fighting capacity, while the United States is increasingly inserting itself into the conflict in support of its Syrian Democratic Forces allies. These nations, as well as others such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, could claim that support given to their respective proxies is meant to combat the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, rather than other loyalist or rebel forces. All sides will have an incentive to ensure their own preferred groups are better advantaged if and when they reach the negotiating table, making it extremely difficult to halt the flow of all supplies in practice.

Moreover, the International Syrian Support Group process deliberately omitted the question of the Syrian president's future in its most recent meeting. The group's members readily admit that al Assad's position is a polarizing issue, and many fear that raising the issue would undermine progress before it even begins. However, this only highlights the disputes that have yet to be settled in the process.

Ultimately, Russia and Iran are not entirely committed to ensuring al Assad's personal leadership of Syria as long as their interests are met, but stepping in to convince al Assad to leave power — let alone successfully doing so — is a step both Tehran and Moscow would only take when they are truly confortable with the talks' progress. But at this stage, the obstacles that still lie ahead make getting there as distant a prospect as ever.
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sec. State Kerry is a coward on: November 17, 2015, 04:57:13 PM
178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Well, this is unsettling , , , on: November 17, 2015, 10:27:07 AM
179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Next Gen Surveillance State on: November 17, 2015, 01:09:58 AM
Urban Terror will Usher in Next Gen Surveillance State
Posted: 16 Nov 2015 02:45 PM PST
The effectiveness of blood and guts terrorism isn't found in the physical and psychological damage it does.
It's found in the reaction it provokes.
With this in mind, will the Paris attacks provoke a reaction that makes them effective?
I think so.
Over the long run, the Paris attacks of 2015 (and those that follow) will be seen as the start of a shift to the next generation surveillance state in the US, China, and Europe.
Due to a revolutionary technological change currently underway, it will be possible to add pervasive physical surveillance to the proven systems of electronic surveillance (voice, email, chat, etc.) already in use.
This new capability will make it possible to deploy a cognitive sensor network that will:
1. "know" who everyone in an urban area is (if you ever had a picture taken, it will likely "know" who you are),
2. simultaneously track where everyone in a city is (and has been), and
3. understand what everyone in the city is doing (from voice to behavior capture/analysis).
Further, this network will learn. It will get continuously better with experience.
It will also be proactive. For example, if it finds a gap in its coverage, it can actively move cognitive sensors to cover the gap (even penetrating structures to gather information).
John Robb
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Big Fatwa against ISIS on: November 16, 2015, 10:25:58 PM
181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Christians NO, Muslims YES on: November 16, 2015, 10:18:44 PM
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / There is this too on: November 16, 2015, 09:59:15 PM
183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Eagles of Death Metal on: November 16, 2015, 09:43:51 PM
Apparently the concert in Pairs by the "Eagles of Death Metal" was selected because they will be playing in Israel.  They have stated their renewed intention to play in Israel.

184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Schengen Agreement in doubt on: November 16, 2015, 09:40:05 PM
 The Paris Attacks Will Have Far-Reaching Effects
Geopolitical Diary
November 17, 2015 | 02:06 GMT Text Size

With the French and many others around the world still in shock after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, French President Francois Hollande said Monday in a speech before the two chambers of Parliament that France is at war and announced a series of policies to fight terrorism. The attacks revealed the extent to which the situation in Syria, the immigration crisis in Europe and international terrorism are interconnected. The repercussions of the attacks will be similarly far-reaching.

The Paris attacks will seriously challenge the continuity of the Schengen Agreement, which eliminated border controls in Europe. As of Monday, the Schengen Agreement is effectively suspended in many places. France has re-established border controls, as have Sweden, Germany and Slovenia. Hungary built a fence to protect its border with Serbia, which is not a member of the treaty. So far, these actions are taking place within the framework of Schengen, which allows for the temporary reintroduction of border controls during emergencies.

What is a Geopolitical Diary?

The big question is whether Schengen will be formally abolished, or if countries will begin to opt out from it. The concept of a Europe without borders has become very difficult for governments to defend. As a first reaction, European governments could enact measures to improve intelligence sharing and increase cooperation between security forces in Europe while trying to preserve the agreement. But the future of Schengen is ultimately in the hands of European voters. If the popular sentiment turns against Schengen, moderate governments — or, after the next electoral cycle, nationalist governments — could withdraw from the agreement.

Meanwhile, closing off Europe's external borders without finding a home for the migrants could lead to serious problems in the Balkans, where migrants will be stranded. As several thousand men and women become involuntary immigrants to countries with high unemployment and latent ethnic tensions, the region's already fragile political and social structures will experience significant strain in the next few months.

The Paris attacks could accelerate the rise of nationalist parties across Europe. After the dust settles in France, voters could decide that Hollande's Socialist government has failed to protect them. In the upcoming municipal elections (scheduled for December), the center-right Republicans and the far-right National Front will probably have strong showings, paving the way for a strong performance for both parties in the presidential election of 2017. To different degrees, the two parties criticize Europe's policies on migration and, in the case of the National Front, France's membership in the eurozone.

The rise in Euroskepticism will be felt elsewhere in Europe. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has already changed policy to toughen regulations on asylum. In the coming days she will be under pressure from conservative forces to follow the policy changes with political changes, potentially including an admission of mistakes in the handling of the migration crisis. If anything, the Paris attacks could accelerate Germany's growing Euroskepticism ahead of the general elections of 2017 and especially after the vote.

The Paris attack will also make it hard for the European Commission to defend its plan to relocate refugees across the Continent. The plan was already in serious trouble: Only a few hundred of the 120,000 men and women included in the scheme have actually been relocated. Poland said it will opt out from the plan, and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe will probably follow suit. Brussels will be too weak to introduce sanctions against the countries that choose not to participate in the plan.

Before the Paris attacks, the European Union was already trying to enhance cooperation with Turkey to prevent asylum seekers from entering Europe. The Turkish government basically made three requests: money, visa liberalization for Turkish citizens and a no-fly zone in northern Syria. The European Union has already approved giving Ankara some 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) to deal with the migration crisis. After the Paris attacks, Brussels will probably offer more flexible visa conditions for Turkish citizens.

Now the stage is set for Turkey to solicit firmer support from the Europeans as it tries to push forward its plans to establish a "safe zone" in northern Syria. Turkey and the United States already appear to be in advanced talks over stepping up military operations in northern Syria, and Ankara is looking for diplomatic cover from NATO members to proceed, preferably with the participation of European countries willing to put boots on the ground. There is no guarantee that Turkey will get that much of a commitment from the Europeans, but it can count on broader European involvement overall in the air campaign against the Islamic State. The major question is still whether Turkey and potential coalition partners can reach an understanding with Russia to quell the fighting.

In addition, the Paris attacks could compel more EU members to seek accommodation with Russia on the end of the civil war in Syria. Countries that were originally against keeping Bashar al Assad in power could decide to stick with the devil they know to slow down emigration from Syria. This could open the door for cooperation in other issues — most notably, Ukraine — but that would happen later in the process. The European Union is still likely to extend sanctions against Moscow when they expire in late January 2016, and the United States probably will encourage its European partners to keep pressure on Russia. Moreover, even with Russian cooperation, substantial challenges remain in Syria, given the disputes over which Syrian parties can be negotiated with, the presence of extremist factions in Syria that do not want a cease-fire to be implemented, and the vast number of armed factions in the conflict.

Europe also faces limitations when it comes to a military reaction to the Paris attacks. Airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq will intensify in the coming days, but Europe is unlikely to go beyond that. Germany will oppose any form of military intervention in Syria and will push for a diplomatic solution to the civil war in the country. Countries such as the United Kingdom and Italy could join the airstrikes in Syria, but they are unlikely to send ground troops to the conflict. Even U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that putting boots on the ground would be a mistake.

The Paris attacks will accelerate some processes that were already underway in Europe, such as resistance to migration and criticism of the Schengen Agreement. The attacks will also affect the European Union's already complex relationship with Turkey and Russia, but pre-existing factors — such as political divisions among member states on how to deal with Moscow and Ankara — as well as logistical constraints will continue to shape the European Union's foreign policy, regardless of what has been said publicly the past three days.
185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 16, 2015, 08:20:02 PM
I caught that too , , ,   tongue
186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Man bites dog on: November 16, 2015, 05:54:28 PM
This woman ! on CNN !
187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Calling Dr. Ben , , , on: November 16, 2015, 01:41:06 PM
The press corps has spent two weeks obsessing over what Ben Carson has said about his past. It’d be better off plumbing a far more problematic aspect of his campaign: What exactly is he thinking for the future?

Mr. Carson has been a declared presidential candidate for six months. He spent months more contemplating that run. Now we’re barely more than two months from the Iowa caucuses. And the nation is still waiting for any measure of policy detail from the Carson campaign.

The pediatric neurosurgeon captured attention on the strength of a truly impressive and truly compelling biography. And he’s stoked that interest with his pitch for American renewal. Asked on Fox News Sunday recently to what he attributes his polling strength, Mr. Carson talked about the public’s interest in “truth and integrity” and “traditional American values.” His new TV ad features the tagline “heal, inspire, revive.” This is soothing for an American electorate still aching for the hope and change Barack Obama never delivered.

Then again, this is a high-stakes presidential race, and Mr. Carson is obliged to be something more than Seabiscuit. Voters don’t like Mr. Obama’s divisive politics, but the core of their complaint is his destructive policy agenda. Any Republican president will face an extraordinary task in cleaning up the mess. Redirecting the country will require a very clear, very methodical plan.

Mr. Carson has more duty than most to outline such a plan—both because he has no voting record, and because his past policy prescriptions are so varied. Many Americans date their first notice of Ben Carson to that prayer breakfast in 2013, when he criticized ObamaCare in front of the president. In fact, the surgeon has spent 15 years writing a string of best-selling books and giving interviews that feature policy ideas.

Just a few past Carson proposals: He has called for government to take responsibility for providing catastrophic health insurance, funded by taxes on insurers. He has called for turning insurers into “nonprofit service organizations with standardized, regulated profit margins.” He’s suggested that he’d be OK with a total tax rate (federal, state, local) of 37%—or 42% for those earning more than $1 million. He’s suggested having government pay for child-care facilities. He has proposed (as recently as January) a “luxury tax on very expensive items, which provides an opportunity for the wealthy to pay down the national debt.”

It’s possible Mr. Carson now holds different views. We don’t really know. He has in recent weeks started to outline some major proposals, but rarely on paper, and often with giant question marks. On Monday he finally put a number to his flat tax—15%—and said he’d eliminate all deductions. He wants to extend that rate to capital gains and foreign income. This is a start.

Then again, Mr. Carson has also said he’d offer a “rebate” for people in poverty. How does that work? And what about a specific corporate tax rate? Carried interest? Expensing? Dividends? Tax harmonization? He has said he’d declare a tax holiday for multinationals with money overseas, but that then he’d require them to invest 10% of what they bring back in “enterprise zones.” How’s that work? And why?

ObamaCare has motivated the Republican electorate for years. Mr. Carson spent a long time suggesting he’d replace government health programs like Medicare with cradle-to-grave health savings accounts—to which the government would contribute. When asked about it recently, Mr. Carson said, “That’s the old plan. That’s been gone for several months now.”

His new HSA plan, though not formally released, would seem to coexist with Medicare and Medicaid, giving recipients the option of reallocating federal dollars to health accounts. And everyone else? Mr. Carson has implied he is against the federal government funding HSAs for workers. At the same time he’s suggested that he’d get rid of the tax benefit for corporations that currently provide health benefits to tens of millions of Americans.

He has changed his mind four times on the minimum wage—criticizing Mr. Obama for proposing a hike, then saying the rate did need to rise, then proposing a two-tiered system tied to inflation, and then (at this week’s debate) opposing any changes (again).

In fairness, there are many issues on which Mr. Carson is consistent and clear: tort reform, the need to cut spending and repeal ObamaCare. In fairness, there are many issues on which he is not.

The point is not to pile on, but to note that these are basic and legitimate questions. Being president, like pediatric neurosurgery, takes great study and work. You don’t wing an operation to separate conjoined twins. And you don’t wing saving a country.

Few doubt that Mr. Carson is incredibly smart and capable, that he has the values and integrity he speaks of. But values and integrity are but a framework for purpose. The nation deserves to know Mr. Carson’s specific purpose. 
188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syrian Passport a fake on: November 16, 2015, 01:35:17 PM
y Marcus Walker and
Noemie Bisserbe
Updated Nov. 16, 2015 2:07 p.m. ET

ATHENS—Mystery deepened over a Paris attacker who traveled to Europe via Greece and the Balkans, after French officials said Monday that the Syrian passport he had used was indeed a fake.

Authorities in France and Greece have said that fingerprints taken from the remains of a suicide bomber outside France’s national sports stadium, the Stade de France, match the prints of a man who entered Europe via the Aegean island of Leros on Oct. 3.

Police on Leros registered the man under the identity in the passport he showed them: Ahmad AlMohammad, 25, from Syria. The same passport was found near the man’s body outside the stadium on Friday night.

Whoever the man was, he posed as one of the many refugees fleeing Syria’s war—including the violence of Islamic State—to enter Europe through its lightly controlled frontier in the Aegean Sea.

Greek authorities on islands such as Leros, Lesbos and Chios have confronted thousands of arrivals every day in recent months as refugees and other migrants make the short sea crossing from Turkey in inflatable boats. Short of staff and equipment, Greek police carry out only a simple procedure that involves taking people’s data and fingerprints, and sometimes asking them a few questions, before giving them permission to travel onward, deeper into Europe.

Upon his arrival in Leros, the Paris assailant was checked against police databases under his Syrian identity, Greek officials say. Nothing was found. Police on Leros didn’t spot that the passport was fake. A black market in Syrian passports has sprung up in Turkey as migrants try to gain the easiest possible entry into Europe, which has treated Syrian war refugees as more deserving of shelter in European Union countries than many other nationalities.

Greek authorities say the man using the name Ahmad AlMohammad took a ferry to the port of Piraeus, arriving on Oct. 8, before traveling north through the Balkans. Greece’s migration ministry said on Sunday that the man later reached Croatia. But after that, the trail appears to go cold. Officials in Austria, Germany, Italy and Hungary say they have no information about any man using that name entering their territory.

Adding further confusion, Serbia’s government has said a man by the same name entered its territory at the Presevo border crossing with Macedonia on Oct. 7—a date when Greek authorities say he was on a ferry.

Neither country’s authorities could explain the inconsistency. But Serbian media reported that another man carrying a passport with the same name and other details was arrested in the country on Saturday. Serbian authorities haven’t confirmed or denied those reports, which raised the possibility that multiple forged Syrian passports using the same name have been circulating.

All that is clear is that the man who landed in Greece got as far as Paris.

—Valentina Pop and Inti Landauro contributed to this article.
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Philippines changing mind on Subic Bay? on: November 16, 2015, 11:59:23 AM*Situation%20Report
190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bush 43 called it on: November 16, 2015, 11:56:54 AM
Recall if you will the prophetic warning issued by George W. Bush in July 2007: "To begin withdrawing from Iraq ... will be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It will mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qa'ida. It means that we would be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It will mean we would allow terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they had in Afghanistan. It will mean that American troops will have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous."
191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Donald Trump considers sending 10,000 troops and closing US mosques on: November 16, 2015, 11:25:24 AM
192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Many paths to modernization on: November 16, 2015, 11:10:19 AM
 Many Paths to Modernization
Global Affairs
November 11, 2015 | 08:48 GMT Print
Text Size

By Jay Ogilvy

A few columns ago, I proposed a different vision of geopolitics based on Manuel Castells' concept of "the space of flows." The main idea was fairly simple: We need to supplement the literal proximities between the geopolitical entities we call "states" with another set of relationships — namely, the ties that bind some places to others through dense corridors of communication and commerce.

With the help of well-known American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, I'd like to explore yet another form of closeness and distance that could further supplement a new, less literal, geopolitics: economic and cultural similarities. I'll start with Fukuyama's thesis that China and southern Italy are, in a sense, "closer" to one another than are China and Japan or Italy and Israel.

In his book Trust, Fukuyama develops the thesis that low-trust societies — places where people generally have less trust for those who aren't related to them, like China and southern Italy — put so much importance on family and relationships that they often find it difficult to succeed in industries requiring organizations that are larger than just a few families. Products such as handcrafted leather goods and clothing can be fashioned and sold by small groups of people bearing the same last name. But the automobile and aerospace industries demand larger workforces and consequently require a degree of trust among strangers that runs in short supply in southern Italy and western China.

What is Global Affairs?

I add the western qualifier here because western China is the old China, where trust among non-family members is still low. In the past few decades since Trust was published, coastal China has demonstrated a remarkable capacity for creating, organizing and managing some very large enterprises, including shipyards, railroads, aerospace and automobiles. This raises the question: Was Fukuyama's thesis simply wrong? Or have the Chinese learned to trust one another?
Revisiting the 'End of History'

Let's take these questions in turn. It is tempting to think that Fukuyama is wrong again; wasn't he the guy who told us that history was over? But this would be a glib conclusion that badly misreads the case Fukuyama was making in The End of History and the Last Man. To those of us steeped in the tradition Fukuyama draws on — George Friedman included — everyone knows that the phrase "the end of history" does not refer to the cessation of politics. What a ridiculous idea, as if one day we might wake up to a world in which journalists no longer had anything to write about! Fukuyama is not deluded, as countless commentators have made him out to be with sentences starting with, "Contrary to Fukuyama's idea that history is over … "

Instead, "the end of history" refers to a particular reading of German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's work by a French scholar named Alexandre Kojeve. In a series of influential lectures in Paris during the 1930s, Kojeve laid out an interpretation of Hegel, according to which Hegel (the thinker) saw himself teaming up with Napoleon (the historical actor) to accomplish a kind of rounding out of history in word and deed. To the extent that Hegel's words brought to self-consciousness Napoleon's uniting of Europe, then the disparate and often senseless acts of history that had occurred up to that point could be understood to have achieved a new level of meaning and maturity.

Kojeve certainly wasn't maintaining that according to Hegel, history was over and nothing would happen anymore. Again, that would be ridiculous. Nor was Fukuyama claiming anything of the kind. Instead he was borrowing this idea, well known to some, to make similar sense of the demise of both communism and fascism in the 20th century. With only democratic capitalism left, the contest between world-dominating ideologies was over. A new maturity, not the shutdown of death, had been achieved. With the violence of adolescence behind us, we could enter into adulthood, with all the headlines and events that "adult" development would engender.

Of course, it is possible to question both Kojeve and Hegel about their reading of Napoleon's significance, just as it is possible to question Fukuyama's view that democratic capitalism has triumphed quite as thoroughly as he claims. After all, China still resists democracy, and since 2008 we have reason to look for another chapter in the history of capitalism. But these are sensible debates about real issues, not facile dismissals of a foolish claim that was never intended to be made in the first place.

So Fukuyama is not wrong again, because he was never wrong to begin with. Nor, I think, is he wrong now to call attention to the figurative "closeness" between southern Italy and China. Their economies, and hence their geopolitical power, are still inhibited by low levels of trust between non-kin. Look at Italy's plight as one of the southern European nations tearing the European Union apart. Look at the near panic induced among many senior Chinese officials who are cowering under the threat of arrest. Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign is unfolding for a reason: The "radius of trust," to use Fukuyama's vivid phrase, is still too often drawn tight around friends and family, even as companies in China get bigger.
Fukuyama on Political Order

Fukuyama's focus on the importance of trust carried into his later two-volume magnum opus, The Origins of Political Order (2011) and Political Order and Political Decay (2014). These magisterial tomes trace the origins and evolution of political organizations from their pre-human roots in primate biology to the present day.

There is no way to adequately summarize more than a thousand pages in less than a thousand words. Still, I want to draw your attention to this work because Fukuyama's framework sheds light on two areas of great interest today: First, the crises in southern Europe and the Middle East, and second, the prospects for democracy in China.

For Greece and Italy, his lesson is fairly simple: Don't assume that once modernization has been achieved, liberal democracy will flourish like mushrooms after a rainstorm. After taking the time to review several histories of nation building and state building — the two are not the same, as Fukuyama shows in great detail — he is able to conclude with authority that there are several paths, not just one, toward modernization and development.

Fukuyama then identifies the six major components of a geopolitical model: economic growth, social mobilization, ideas/legitimacy, democracy, rule of law and the state. By reviewing and comparing the histories of state formation in China, Europe, Russia, Latin America, the United Kingdom, North America and Africa — in other words, the history of the entire world — Fukuyama is able to show how different countries' paths toward modernization have been.

    "In Britain and America, economic modernization drove social mobilization which in turn created the conditions for the elimination of patronage and clientelism. In both countries, it was new middle-class groups that sought an end to the patronage system. This might lead some to believe that socioeconomic modernization and the creation of a middle class will by themselves create modern government. But this view is belied by the Greek and Italian cases, societies that are wealthy and modern and yet continue to practice clientelism. There is no automatic mechanism that produces clean, modern government, because a host of other factors is necessary to explain outcomes."

A similar lesson can be drawn with respect to Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever one has to say about the wisdom of driving on to Baghdad in the Iraq War, the bungling of the U.S. occupation showed a callow lack of appreciation for that "host of other factors" involved in institution building.

    "Results of state building are very disappointing. The United States is scheduled to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan in 2016 without having created a functional, legitimate centralized state. Iraq seemed to have more of a state, but the latter's authority in the areas north of Baghdad collapsed in 2014. Repeated interventions and billions of dollars in foreign assistance have yet to create functional governments in either Haiti or Somalia."

The Recurring Threat of Patrimonialism

One theme that shows up throughout Fukuyama's work is the unending tension between the need for objective, neutral and fair rule-based institutions on the one hand, and mankind's age-old tendency to favor family and friends on the other. Even where the rule of law has triumphed after centuries of familial favoritism by tribal leaders, society hasn't managed to eliminate the perpetual threat of "repatrimonialism" — a big word that plays a big role, by Fukuyama's measure.

This brings us back to China, for there as nowhere else we see the contest playing out: Can China move beyond "rule by law," where the legal system is used to level the playing field for everyone except the country's leaders, to "rule of law," where the leadership is not, in patrimonial fashion, above the rules governing everyone else?

The jury is still out, but Fukuyama's framework gives us a helpful lens through which we can read breaking news stories about China. Fukuyama begins his history of statecraft by pointing out that China was the first in the world to transition from warring tribes to a functioning, centralized state under the Qin dynasty in the third century B.C. Much has happened since then, of course, and the paroxysms of the 20th century — from Mao's Long March, through the Cultural Revolution, to Deng Xiaoping's dictum "to get rich is glorious" — may have cut the roots to China's past so thoroughly that no vestige of its long history could last. But in one of his bolder chapters, titled "The Reinvention of the Chinese State," Fukuyama makes the claim that "whether or not participants in that process were aware of what they were doing," Chinese leaders have been engaged in a kind of Confucian repatrimonialization since 1978 that is, in many ways, reminiscent of dynasties past. "The reformers were deliberately seeking to establish a Western-style Weberian bureaucracy, but in doing so they inadvertently recovered some of their own traditions."

So what about the future? Will the growth of the middle class in China generate louder calls for democracy? Or can authoritarian capitalism persist? As of this writing, Fukuyama is on his way home from China, and we will be talking in the coming weeks. I'll convey the outcome of our conversation in my column next month.
193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: My op-ed on the Paris attacks on: November 16, 2015, 10:57:31 AM
Woof Steve:

One of my nicknames around here is "the Thread Nazi"  cheesy

I have moved your post to the "Articulating our Cause" thread and am locking this one here.

TAC! (The Adventure Continues!)
194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Paris on: November 16, 2015, 10:56:07 AM
Moving Steve's post to here:


By Steve Browne

Well, it’s happened again to everyone’s shock and horror, but to no one’s surprise.

Jihadists struck at several locations around Paris. The latest death toll stands at 129.

Some of the attackers are dead. More believed responsible for planning are being sought.

France reacted by bombing areas held by ISIS in the Middle East.

Satisfying for sure, but not likely to affect anything in the short run.

Other reactions include cries of “false flag!”

Some people love this one. It makes them feel wise and powerful to know they have the world figured out when all us peasants are still in the dark.

I have a couple of observations. One is that it violates the Principle of Parsimony expressed in William of Occam’s famous razor.

Paraphrased it means that of competing explanations, the simplest is most likely to be closest to the truth. In this case you have a bunch of murderous fanatics screaming they did it, they’re glad they did it, and they’ll do it again. Versus the CIA/Mossad managed to talk a bunch of peaceful Islamists into doing something they’d never have thought of on their own.

As the late Christopher Hitchens said, “What is asserted without proof may be dismissed without proof.”

Another predictable reaction is that they’re “not really Islamic.”

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, has a doctorate from the Islamic University in Baghdad in Islamic studies and history. His immediate family include professors of Arabic language and rhetoric.

Could you please tell me how he’s “not Islamic” with citations from the Koran and Hadith – in Arabic with notes on translation?

Then there’s the blowback hypothesis. We caused this by our meddling in the Middle East and all the people we’ve killed there.

This argument has some merit to it. We have meddled, and continue to do so and lately our meddling has caused two large Arab Muslim countries to collapse into chaos. Iraq because we didn’t have the stamina to stay and do the imperialist peacekeeping thing after we deposed a murderous tyrant. And Libya because we knocked off a murderous but relatively well-behaved tyrant and didn’t even bother to march in and fix things.

And by the way, the U.S. did those in spite of vociferous objections from France.

One can point out that lately Muslims have killed hundreds of times more Muslims than Westerners have.

Doesn’t matter. That’s what cops call a “domestic dispute” and they hate them precisely because attempts to break up a fight often end with both parties turning on the meddler.

We could talk all day about why they hate us and miss the essential point – that they hate us, and there is probably little we can do about it. They have their reasons, but they are theirs not ours.

The attacks on Paris were well planned and involved French citizens born in the country but who do not feel themselves to be French, coordinated with fellow-jihadists outside the country.

And they will do it again.

Why? What do they hope to gain by it?

Well, sometimes they do manage to affect state policy. After the Madrid bombings in 2004 that killed 191 people and wounded 2,050, the Spanish voted out their government and withdrew the miniscule force they had in Iraq.

Big deal.

What I think they’re doing is counting coup.

The Plains Indians gave the highest honors not to warriors who killed the most enemies, but to those bold enough to ride in amongst their enemies and slap one in the most insulting way possible.

The jihadists come from a proud hyper-macho culture that sees the wealth, freedom and accomplishments of the West as deeply humiliating. They cannot hope to overcome the West by military force, but they can humiliate us back.

And no matter how much we bomb them in return, one coup counted against the West is a greater victory in their eyes.

If I am correct, this is going to go on for some time.

I would give a lot to be wrong.
195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: November 16, 2015, 10:54:42 AM
Welcome aboard Steve!

Gents:  I first got to know Steve in the internet sense on FB and am sure we will appreciate his contributions here.

196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Why Progress on the Nagorno-Karabakh Standoff May Be Imminent on: November 16, 2015, 08:01:19 AM

After a decades-long standoff, Armenia and Azerbaijan may be making diplomatic progress toward resolving their bitter dispute over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Both countries claim the semi-autonomous region, which lies along the southern half of their shared border, but since the end of a six-year war over the territory in 1994, Armenia has exercised control there and in seven adjacent regions also wrested from Azerbaijani rule. For 15 years, Russian support for Armenia has kept Azerbaijan from mounting another viable challenge to retake Nagorno-Karabakh. However, Russia's increasingly fragile position amid its standoff with the West and Azerbaijan's ability to leverage this change may soon prompt deals on several of the regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh.


The dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan is one of several frozen conflicts in the former Soviet space that have persisted since the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the end of the war in the early 1990s, there was a period of relative calm. But over the past year, military clashes along the border have intensified as Azerbaijan has increased cross-border raids and shootouts.

In what may be a harbinger of changes to come, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made an unannounced visit to Armenia on Nov. 9 in what some local media have billed as a "secret" trip to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia has played a significant role in the dispute, both as the main mediator in political negotiations between the two countries and as Armenia's de facto security guarantor. (Russia has 5,000 troops in Armenia.) But after years of defending Armenia's claims, Russia may be more open to negotiating with Azerbaijan now that Moscow is under increased pressure from the West.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan is being seen as a potential alternative energy supplier to the Europeans, and Baku is using its newfound political clout to lobby Moscow to change its position on Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan has expanded economic and security cooperation and has cultivated a more active diplomatic relationship with Russia. At the same time, it is becoming more aggressive toward Armenia, conducting cross-border raids and initiating shootouts along the line of conflict more frequently.
A Diplomatic Resolution

Stratfor has previously laid out several potential directions the Nagorno-Karabakh standoff could go. As Azerbaijan grows bolder, it may reach an agreement with Armenia that gives it control of the regions surrounding the breakaway territory. If the diplomatic route fails, Azerbaijan may increase the scale of its military activities. And of course, there is always the possibility that the tense standoff will drag on, tensions unabated.

Recent developments suggest the three major parties involved are seriously considering the first scenario: a diplomatically brokered resolution to the conflict. On Nov. 11, several Armenian newspapers, referring to their own sources as well as to media reports from Russia, ran articles and commentaries framing Lavrov's recent visit to Yerevan as an appeal for Armenia to return five out of seven territories adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan. In exchange, Russia would place its own troops in these territories to guarantee that war would not resume and also to convince Azerbaijan to end its economic blockade of Armenia. Citing sources involved in the negotiation process, the Russian daily Kommersant added that the Lachin corridor — a key supply route into Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia proper — would remain in Armenia's control, as would the region of Kalbajar. Azerbaijan, for its part, would end military hostilities and commit itself to peace talks.

Though neither country has confirmed these reports, there are several reasons to take them seriously. Of particular note is the specificity about the terms of the rumored negotiations. There have been alleged leaks pertaining to talks over Nagorno-Karabakh before, but none of them included this level of concrete detail. Moreover, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has on multiple occasions said that Armenia could accept relinquishing control of Nagorno-Karabakh's adjacent regions as long as a secure land link were maintained and international security guarantees were implemented — which would be the case according to the purported current deal. Russia has also recently been signaling its intention to deepen security ties with Armenia through the transfer of military helicopters and the establishment of a joint air defense system, which is an important prerequisite for Yerevan to even consider giving territorial concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. The leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh have also hinted to local media that the Russian military may use the airport in the breakaway territory's capital for counter-terrorism exercises.
Armenia's Reservations

Of course, the reports emerging in local media — no matter how credible the source may be — do not guarantee that Armenia will indeed relinquish control of the regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. The dispute is still an extremely sensitive political issue in Armenia, where the public feels a strong sense of national ownership over the territory. The last Armenian president to seriously negotiate a change to the status quo, Levon Ter-Patrosyan, was even forced to resign by popular demand. To make any concession, Armenia's current government would need guarantees it could survive a negotiated settlement. But given Armenia's weak economy and increasing social unrest, making concessions to Azerbaijan could be particularly inflammatory at the moment. Even if the government could make a negotiated settlement over Nagorno-Karabakh politically feasible, there would be extremely challenging logistical issues, including the status of the roughly 500,000 mostly Armenian residents residing in the surrounding regions (the exact number of which is disputed).

If negotiations do proceed, other external powers, notably Turkey and the United States, will likely try to shape any diplomatic resolution to align with their own strategic interests. Both Ankara and Washington are increasingly focused on the Caucasus region, as demonstrated by the U.S. naval chief's recent visit to Azerbaijan and by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's plan to visit Baku in his first foreign trip since the formation of a new government in Turkey.

That being said, it cannot be ignored that the diplomatic activity related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has seen a marked uptick in recent months, and there are increasingly detailed elements of the negotiations that are being leaked to the local and Russian media. The constraints on both Russia and Armenia also suggest that these countries cannot maintain their position on preserving the status quo on the conflict indefinitely. Therefore, the likelihood that control of the regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh will change hands is increasing, and the parameters of a potential deal — if one is able to be made — are becoming slowly but increasingly clear. 
197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim security guard saved stadium from bomb on: November 16, 2015, 07:18:50 AM

Edited to add:

Assuming the name to be Muslim, it appears the meme above is confirmed:
198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe on: November 16, 2015, 07:16:34 AM
LA Times= POTB= Pravda On The Beach
199  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Steven Seagal humor on: November 16, 2015, 07:15:10 AM
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Greg Gutfield on: November 15, 2015, 11:11:32 PM
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