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22951  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty 8/1-2 Fort Hood, TX on: July 31, 2009, 05:25:27 AM
Leaving in a few hours-- really pysched to see Gus, his crew, all the WTers, and meet new friends.
22952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Federalist 57 on: July 31, 2009, 05:11:53 AM
"If it be asked what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer, the genius of the whole system, the nature of just and constitutional laws, and above all the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it." --Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788
22953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 31, 2009, 03:41:24 AM
BBG:

Good to have a thorough piece on that subject.  Thanks.
22954  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Lonely Dog's Report on: July 30, 2009, 09:25:29 PM
Posted on behalf of Lonely Dog:

======================================

Hi Marc

I'm sitting here on the floor in our new and empty apartment.  We just moved in yesterday.  Today we clean the old apartment and I will unplug my computer in the next minutes.  I will have no internet access for the next days. so I took the opportunity to write a short Gathering report...

Please post it for me on the forum.

thanks
Wuff
Benjamin

-----------

Gathering 2009 in Bern

This year we had like last year 2 days of fighting. The “Tribal Gathering” on Friday and the “Regular Gathering” on Saturday. On Friday we had 40 fighters, and on Saturday even some more. The fighters came from various countries (Switzerland, Germany, England, Scotland, Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Poland and USA).

Unfortunately this year Guro could not be with us  so I had to host the event by myself.   I have to admit that I was quite nervous… I would like to thank Guro Marc for the trust in me.

After I open the day with the magic words, I continued with reading a letter that Guro Marc sent me. While reading the letter I wore Marc’s famous jeans jacket, which he gave me after he promoted me to Guro. With wearing that jacket I wanted to underline that in spirit he is here with us all.
     
“A Howl of Greeting to All:
Due to the change of date of the Euro Gathering to a date which conflicts with family commitments, I am not able to be there with you this time.

It certainly feels very strange and unsettling to not be at a Gathering, but upon reflection I realize that the fact that my vision of the Dog Brothers which began so long ago has gotten to a point where I CAN miss a day is really a sign of tremendous progress towards the birth of a tribe which will outlive us all.  For this, I am deeply happy.”

While reading the last 2 sentences I really had goose bumps… the letter continued with:
 
”For those of you fighting for the first time and are worried about whether you will fight well, allow me to ask you a three part question:
Remember the first time you had sex?  Were you any good at it?  Have you gotten better since then?

What matters is that you keep on being here in this space-- for these are days in which you will create and install in your spirit the place where you are forever young so that you will walk as a warrior for all your days.

As you step out into the magical space, feel the gift of your aliveness and be present in the moment.

The Learning that takes place in the adrenal state is some of the deepest and highest that there is.  The greater the adrenal state, the profounder the Learning. The greater the state of Play, the better the result. The more that one can move in both directions simultaneously, the better. "The greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation. Higher consciousness through harder contact." (c)

See you all next time.
Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers.”

Now everybody was very motivated to start the day.

As last year we decided go without the warm up knife rounds, so it was again a almost stick only day. As usual most fights were done with single sticks or double stick. Although we had also some nice fights with some exotic weapons. “Dog” Andy Hommel who trained and explored the last years a lot with flexible weapons had some great fights with: Nunchaku, Flail, and 3 sectional staff.

On both days, we had a lot of great fights. It was amazing to see the progress that many fighters did since the last year. Most fights were very technical and ones could recognize that the fighters followed game plans and strategies. We saw many fights on a high level and with great spirit. Although the fights were though we had only a few injuries.

Both days I organized a barbeque for the fighters, so we could sit around the Campfire and chat about the this adventure and that it will continued…

After I had a council of elders meeting through phone call with Marc, I had the permission to do the “Dog Dubbing” on Sunday during the seminar.

The “Council of Elders” is proud to announce the new members of the Tribe.

Marcus "Giri Dog" Schillinger

Andy "C-Flexi Dog" Hommel
Jerome “C-Frisbee Dog” Challon
Peter "C-Grumpy Dog" Fray
Thomas "C-Sword Dog" Rickert
Torben "C-Old Dog" Lorenian
Chris “C-Rogue Dog” Smith
Martin “C-? Dog” Blatter (Tinu asked me to give him a name, still need some time to find a good one)

Lynn "C-Psycho Bitch " Brown
"Cat" Heather Kerr

"Dog" Davide Musi
"Dog" Heiko Zauske
"Dog" Manfred Schilka
"Dog" Shanu Singh
"Dog" Stefan Ramsauer
"Dog" Thorsten Picker
"Dog" Thomas Britschgi
"Dog" Simon Godsland

All in all it was a very exciting and successful event. And we all are looking forward with anticipation to the next Euro Gathering in July 2010.

Wuff
Guro Benjamin “Lonely Dog” Rittiner
22955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Denial of a Taliban truce on: July 30, 2009, 08:22:35 AM
I found this piece by Stratfor particularly fascinating-- are we actually beginning to have the semblance of a strategy?


Geopolitical Diary: Denial of a Taliban Truce
July 28, 2009
An official spokesman for the Afghan Taliban movement has denied a claim by President Hamid Karzai that the Afghan government negotiated a truce with the insurgent movement in western Badghis province.

The denial on Monday came only hours after a presidential spokesman announced the truce: Siamak Herawi had claimed that 20 days of talks with local tribal elders had concluded on July 25 with the signing of a cease-fire agreement, which led to militants pulling out of three areas in Bala Murghab district and the withdrawal of Afghan National Army units from compounds captured from militants in the region. The subsequent Taliban denial was accompanied by violence: Two militants were killed and two police wounded during an insurgent ambush of a police patrol in Bala Murghab district.

The details suggest that the Karzai government might have reached some form of agreement with local Taliban leaders somewhere in Badghis province. If so, it would be the first such deal between Kabul and the Pashtun jihadists since the insurgency began in late 2001. Truces are indeed part of the overall U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, which is why Herawi described the alleged July 25 agreement as “a model that other provinces and areas are also trying to use.”

But even if an actual truce was achieved, it certainly didn’t last long, and it was reported to have been in effect in only one of seven districts in the province, which itself is a remote Taliban outpost on the border with Turkmenistan, in a region dominated by the Hazara and Aimak ethnic minorities. A backwater in the war, Badghis province has seen little in the way of Taliban activity compared to areas in southern, eastern and northern Afghanistan.

While there might have been a short-lived truce — and such deals are part of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan — a great many obstacles remain before Washington or Kabul will be able to engage in any meaningful dialogue with the Taliban.

Any truce in Bala Murghab district was likely the work of local insurgents who were promptly overruled by the central Taliban leadership, which is most concerned about insulating local Taliban elements from U.S. and NATO efforts to co-opt the insurgency.

This could be one reason why Mullah Mohammad Omar issued a Taliban code-of-conduct manual, as reported by Al Jazeera on Monday. The manual quotes Mullah Omar as forbidding the creation of new jihadist units, and it calls upon his commanders to disband unofficial factions that refuse to subordinate to the central Taliban leadership.

Mullah Omar is clearly trying to consolidate his hold over the various commanders across Afghanistan, who have enjoyed a great degree of autonomy in almost eight years of war. Along with the central shura, Mullah Omar has been in hiding for years. The Taliban, who have the upper hand in Afghanistan’s conflict, have no need at present to negotiate for a slice of the political pie: They can create a new one after, as they expect, they force Western troops out of Afghanistan. But at the same time, the Taliban realize that the United States and NATO are not about to leave the country as long as it remains a sanctuary for al Qaeda-led transnational jihadists who dream of striking at the West.

STRATFOR has learned that Mullah Omar is actually open to the idea of disassociating from al Qaeda as part of a negotiated settlement that would result in Western forces leaving Afghanistan. The collapse of the Badghis truce, if there was one, does not mean the Taliban are not interested in negotiations or cease-fires. They are — but only under certain circumstances. While the government in Kabul and its Western backers see cease-fire deals with local militants as a means of weakening the Taliban (by bypassing the central leadership), Mullah Omar wants any cease-fire talks to be held with the central leadership. He has outlined certain conditions that would make that possible.

These include the Taliban’s removal from the international terrorist list, the release of Taliban prisoners and the freedom of the Taliban to function as a legal political movement. The leaders want to be able to see progress on these demands before they move forward on other issues. For the United States, however, these are unacceptable demands, especially while the insurgents have the upper hand in the fighting and as the United States struggles to develop the intelligence needed to distinguish between reconcilable and irreconcilable elements among the Taliban.

Even the Taliban are not exactly in a condition to come quickly to the table. They have a host of internal issues that must be sorted out, including challenges from hard-line factions allied with al Qaeda — especially the one led by Haji Mansour Dadullah (brother of Mullah Dadullah, who was killed in a U.S. air strike). There is also the matter of dealing with Taliban factions across the border, whose war against the Pakistani state is seen by the Afghan Taliban as undermining the insurgency in Afghanistan.

The idea of a truce with the Taliban is not an improbable notion, but it is not likely to be meaningful if negotiated only on a local level. And given the problems facing both sides in the Afghan war, a real truce or even meaningful talks are unlikely anytime soon.
22956  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Gathering Report from Lonely Dog on: July 30, 2009, 07:12:48 AM
Euro Gathering report inadvertently posted here.  Deleted.
22957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Vaccine for dogs for snake bite on: July 30, 2009, 06:59:22 AM


Is there a snake bite vaccine for dogs?

There is a vaccine against rattlesnakes for dogs. For more information, see http://www.redrockbiologics.com/
22958  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Snake and other venomous bites on: July 30, 2009, 06:55:52 AM


http://lomalindahealth.org/medical-center/our-services/emergency/programs-and-divisions/venom-er/about-us/index.html
22959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine: taxation on: July 30, 2009, 06:32:47 AM
"If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute." --Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791
22960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: July 29, 2009, 08:31:42 PM
A year or so from now I may well be a Californian no longer, but nonetheless, here's this:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-karako26-2009jul26,0,757702.story
 
 
 
Opinion
Putting California back together
The state's Constitution needs a rewrite -- and the federal Constitution should be the model.
By Tom Karako
July 26, 2009
If this year's budget quagmire in Sacramento has you thinking there must be a better way, there is. To the extent that California is ungovernable today, it is partly because its legislative and executive branches are too weak and dysfunctional to resist entrenched special interests and non-elected bureaucracies. Fixing these problems requires constitutional change. It won't be easy, but the time has come to do it.

Over the last 130 years, California's Constitution has assumed the size of a textbook. The ease of amendment by initiative and referendum has produced endless gimmicks that diffuse accountability, confuse the public and produce thoroughly dysfunctional governance. People from across the political spectrum are calling for a constitutional convention.


If Californians do rewrite the Constitution, it should be revised to resemble more closely the concise federal Constitution: more responsible legislators and executives, stronger control of the bureaucracy and less direct democracy.

Of the many reforms being circulated, the Founding Fathers might approve these six.

Part-time Legislature: Forty-three states have part-time legislative sessions, and California should too. Freed from a yearlong legislative cycle, legislators would spend less time conspiring to make government increasingly complicated and intrusive, and more time in their districts meeting constituents. A part-time Legislature does not mean a part-time government. The execution of laws is constant, but the making of those laws can be done in advance.


A part-time Legislature should not be a "citizen legislature" resembling jurors who legislate as a kind of hobby. With the economy and geography of a small nation, California merits professional legislators to master the job we hire them to do. Salaries should remain the same, lest legislators be limited to the affluent, the corrupt and the amateur.

Hard spending cap: In 1979, voters passed the so-called Gann Amendment by a wide margin, imposing a severe formula of fiscal restraint tied to increases in population, inflation and economic growth. Unfortunately, Gann was eviscerated in 1988 when teachers unions pushed through Proposition 98 by a razor-thin margin, mandating huge increases in education spending.

A spending cap similar to Gann would again be prudent. If it resulted in a surplus, extra revenue could be returned to taxpayers or saved in a rainy-day fund, provided it could not be too easily raided by legislators.

Two-year budgeting cycle: The Legislature should be restricted to figuring out a budget one year, and only in the second year could it consider other legislation.

Eliminate the two-thirds supermajority requirement for budgets: A more controversial but necessary reform would be to reduce the two-thirds supermajority vote to pass state budgets, while retaining that requirement for tax increases. The current system, requiring two-thirds for both, has diffused responsibility without protecting the state from excessive spending. If voters want to give a clear majority of their representation to one party, let the majority prevail -- and let the people judge the consequences. Only three other states require a supermajority for budgets, but 15 require a supermajority to raise taxes.

Unified executive branch: When Americans elected Barack Obama, he got to fill his Cabinet not with a hodgepodge of John McCain and Obama appointees working at cross purposes but with nominees who would implement the president's policies. Similar unity would improve government in a state as large as California.

It is dysfunctional to have executive officers separately elected and in competition with one another, as are many executive officers in California.

The governor should also have greater latitude in firing and controlling non-elected bureaucrats and public employee unions that pursue their own agendas at taxpayer expense.

Repeal ballot-box budgeting: Budget-making is a complicated process that involves priorities and trade-offs. It is not well-suited to direct democracy, when the people can only register an up-or-down vote.

California's decades of ballot-box budgeting has helped to produce a monstrous Constitution, with mandates for specific amounts of spending that inevitably tie the hands of the Legislature and limit flexibility.

The need for flexibility was seen when Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) offered up two of his favored programs, in Propositions 1D and 1E on the May ballot, redirecting their surplus billions to pay bills from the general fund. That would have saved the state $1 billion this year alone. But voters' anger at Proposition 1A's tax increases understandably doomed 1D and 1E, precluding nuance.

A better system would be to repeal all past ballot-box budgeting and put the programs under the general fund. Legislators would be able to set priorities, and the people would judge the results.

The genius of representative government, James Madison wrote, is excluding the people in their collective capacity from the direct business of governing. Hand the task of budgets back to our elected representatives, the ones we hired to make these hard decisions.

California needs constitutional reform before we can expect sustained fiscal reform. Whether that comes from a package of initiatives or a constitutional convention, it should focus on strong, responsible political institutions and draw on the wisdom of the U.S. Constitution.

Tom Karako directs the Claremont Institute's Golden State Center.
22961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: July 29, 2009, 08:20:20 PM
An elderly man in Louisiana had owned a large farm for several years. He
had a large pond in the back. It was properly shaped for swimming, so he
fixed it up nice with picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some apple, and
peach trees.

One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn't
been there for a while, and look it over. He grabbed a five-gallon bucket
to bring back some fruit.
As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As
he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in his
pond. He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the
deep end. One of the women shouted to him, 'we're not coming out until you
leave!'


The old man frowned, 'I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim naked
or make you get out of the pond naked.'

Holding the bucket up he said, 'I'm here to feed the alligator.'

Some old men can still think fast.
22962  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Lacrosse Staff on: July 29, 2009, 04:16:38 PM
"© Barbara K. Adamski" barbadamski.com.

Lacrosse (excerpt) by Barb Adamski. The Canadian Encyclopedia. © 2009 Historica Foundation of Canada
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004453 <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004453>


Men's Field Lacrosse

Men's field lacrosse is played by two teams of 10 on an outdoor field. The most noticeable difference between field lacrosse and other forms is the use of much longer sticks by the three defencemen on each team. The World
Lacrosse Championships take place every four years. In 2006, Canada won its first championship in nearly three decades when it defeated the United States of America 15-10. Many players on Canada's national field lacrosse
team play box lacrosse as well.

Women's Field Lacrosse

Women's field lacrosse is a non-contact sport played with 12 players per team. Ball movement and effective stick handling are key elements of the sport, and the shallowness of the stick's pocket makes catching and maintaining control of the ball more challenging. The first game of women's field lacrosse took place in Scotland in 1890.

Box Lacrosse

Box lacrosse was developed in the 1930s as a way to take advantage of hockey arenas left vacant during the summer months. Boxla (as it is also known) is sometimes referred to as the fastest sport on two feet. Rebounds and checks off the boards make the game exciting to watch, and a 30-second shot clock that requires a team to either score in half a minute or relinquish the ball to their opponent leads to a high-scoring game. Box lacrosse is usually played on a cement surface.

Professional indoor lacrosse is similar to box lacrosse in many ways, including the number of players per side (6), its use of the 30-second clock and the existence of boards surrounding the playing surface. Professional indoor lacrosse is played on a turf carpet.

Inter-Crosse

Inter-crosse, the newest form of lacrosse, is a low-risk activity, designed for schools and recreation programs. The easy-to-play indoor game uses molded plastic sticks and a soft, lightweight ball, and teaches participants
the fundamentals of lacrosse: scooping, carrying, passing, and catching the ball.
22963  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: July 29, 2009, 04:15:46 PM
The Role of the Mexican Military in the Cartel War
July 29, 2009




By Stephen Meiners and Fred Burton

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is in the middle of a four-day visit this week to Mexico, where he is meeting with Mexican government officials to discuss the two countries’ joint approach to Mexico’s ongoing cartel war. In prepared remarks at a July 27 press conference with Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, Kerlikowske said Washington is focused on reducing drug use in the United States, supporting domestic law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers and working with other countries that serve as production areas or transshipment points for U.S.-bound drugs.

Absent from his remarks was any mention of the U.S. position on the role of the Mexican military in the country’s battle against the drug cartels. Kerlikowske’s visit comes amid a growing debate in Mexico over the role that the country’s armed forces should play in the cartel war. The debate has intensified in recent weeks, as human rights organizations in Mexico and the United States have expressed concern over civil rights abuses by Mexican troops assigned to counternarcotics missions in various parts of the country.

The director of Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission, for example, has encouraged the new legislature to re-examine the role of the Mexican military in the country’s cartel war, saying that the current approach is clearly not working. The number of citizen complaints against soldiers has increased over the last few years as the troops have become actively engaged in counternarcotics operations, and the commission director has expressed hope for greater accountability on the part of the armed forces.

Citing similar concerns, and the fact that such citizen complaints are handled by the military justice system — which has reportedly not successfully prosecuted a case in years — the independent U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her not to certify Mexico’s human rights record to Congress, which would freeze the disbursement of a portion of the funds for the Merida Initiative, a U.S. counternarcotics aid package for Mexico.

More important than any possible funding freeze from Washington, though, is the potential response from the Mexican government. President Felipe Calderon has emphasized that the use of the military is a temporary move and is necessary until the country’s federal police reforms can be completed in 2012. Legislative leaders from both main opposition parties complained last week that Calderon’s approach has unnecessarily weakened the armed forces, while the leader of the Mexican senate — a member of Calderon’s National Action Party — said the legislature will examine the role of the military and seek to balance the needs of the cartel war with the civil rights of the Mexican people. In addition, the president of Mexico’s supreme court has said the court plans to review the appropriateness of military jurisdiction in cases involving citizen complaints against soldiers.

Domestic debate and international criticism of Calderon’s use of the military are not necessarily new. Indeed, Calderon was defending his approach to representatives of the United Nations back in early 2008. However, the renewed debate, combined with recent changes in the Mexican legislature, have set the stage for a general re-examination of the Mexican military’s role in the cartel war. And while it is still unclear exactly where the re-examination will end up, the eventual outcome could drastically change the way the Mexican government fights the cartels.

More than Just Law Enforcement
Since taking office in December 2006, Calderon’s decision to deploy more than 35,000 federal troops in security operations around the country has grabbed headlines. While previous presidents have used the armed forces for counternarcotics operations in isolated cases, the scope and scale of the military’s involvement under Calderon has reached new heights. This approach is due in no small part to the staggering level of corruption among federal police. But primarily, the use of the military is a reflection of the many tasks that must be performed under Calderon’s strategy, which is far more complex than simply putting boots on the ground and requires more than what traditional law enforcement agencies can provide.

This broad range of tasks can be grouped into three categories:

The first involves duties traditionally carried out by the armed forces in Mexico, such as technical intelligence collection and maritime and aerial monitoring and interdiction. These tasks are well-suited to the armed forces, which have the equipment, training and experience to perform them. These are also key requirements in the country’s counternarcotics strategy, considering that Mexico is the primary transshipment point for South American-produced cocaine bound for the United States, the world’s largest market for the drug.
The second category includes traditional civilian law enforcement and judicial duties. Specifically, this includes actions such as making arrests, prosecuting and convicting defendants and imposing punishment. With the exception of the military routinely detaining suspects and then turning them over to law enforcement authorities, the tasks in this second category have remained mainly in the hands of civilian authorities.
The final category is more of a gray area. It involves tasks that overlap between Mexico’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies, and it is the area over the last few years in which the Mexican military has become increasingly involved. It is also the area that has caused the most controversy, primarily due to the fact that it has brought the troops into closer contact with the civilian population.
Some of the most noteworthy tasks in this final “gray” category include:

Drug-crop eradication and meth-lab seizures. In addition to being the main transit point for U.S.-bound cocaine, Mexico is also estimated to be the largest producer of marijuana and methamphetamines consumed in the United States. The U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center estimates that more than 17,000 tons of marijuana were produced in Mexico during 2007, most of which was smuggled into the United States. Similarly, seizures of so-called meth superlabs in Mexico over the last few years — some capable of producing hundreds of tons annually — underscore the scale of meth production in Mexico. The destruction of marijuana crops and meth production facilities is a task that has been shared by both the military and law enforcement under Calderon.
Immigration and customs inspections at points of entry and exit. Thorough inspections of inbound and outbound cargo and people at Mexico’s borders have played a key role in some of the more noteworthy drug seizures during the last few years, including the country’s largest cocaine seizure at the Pacific port of Manzanillo in November 2007. Similar inspections elsewhere have led to significant seizures of weapons and precursor chemicals used in the production of meth. In many cases, the Mexican armed forces have played a role in either stopping or inspecting suspect cargo.
Raids and arrests of high-value cartel targets. Beyond simply stopping the flow of drugs and weapons into and out of Mexico, the federal government has also sought to disrupt the powerful organizations that control the drug trade by arresting drug cartel members. Given the federal police’s reputation for corruption, highly sensitive and risky operations such as the arrest of high-ranking cartel leaders have more often than not been carried out by the military’s elite Special Forces Airmobile Group (GAFE). In most cases, the suspects detained by GAFE units have been quickly handed over to the attorney general’s office, though in some cases military personnel have been accused of holding suspects for longer than necessary in order to extract information themselves.
General public safety and law enforcement. The rise in organized crime-related violence across Mexico over the last few years has been a cause for great concern both within the government and among the population. A central part of the federal government’s effort to curb the violence has been the deployment of military forces to many areas, where the troops conduct such actions as security patrols, traffic stops and raids as well as man highway checkpoints. In some cities, the military has been called upon to assume all public-safety and law-enforcement responsibilities, disarming the local police force while looking for police links to organized crime. Another part of this militarization of law enforcement has involved the appointment of military officers — many of whom resign their commission a day before their appointment — to law enforcement posts such as police chief or public safety consultant.
It is this final trend that has led to most of the concerns and complaints regarding the military’s role in the cartel war. The federal government has been mindful of these concerns from the beginning and has tried to minimize the criticism by involving the federal police as much as possible. But it has been the armed forces that have provided the bulk of the manpower and coordination that federal police agencies — hampered by rampant corruption and a tumultuous reform process — have not been able to muster.

A Victim of its Own Success
The armed forces’ greater effectiveness, rapid deployment capability and early successes in some public security tasks made it inevitable that its role would evolve and expand. The result has been a classic case of mission creep. By the time additional duties were being assigned to the military, its resources had become stretched too thin to be as effective as before. This reality became apparent by early 2008 in public-safety roles, especially when the military was tasked with security operations in cities as large and as violent as Ciudad Juarez.

Even though the Mexican military was not designed or trained for law-enforcement duties or securing urban areas, it had been generally successful in improving the security situation of the smaller cities to which it had been deployed throughout 2007. But by early 2008, when soldiers were first deployed to Ciudad Juarez en masse, it became clear that they simply had too much on their plate. As the city’s security environment deteriorated disastrously during the second half of 2008, the military presence there proved incapable of controlling it, an outcome that has continued even today, despite the unprecedented concentration of forces that are currently in the city.

In addition to the military’s mission failures, it has also struggled with increasing civil rights complaints from citizens. In particular, soldiers have been accused of unauthorized searches and seizures, rough treatment and torture of suspects (which in some cases have included police officers), and improper rules of engagement, which have led several times to civilian deaths when soldiers mistook them for hostile shooters. In many cities, particularly in northern and western Mexico, exasperated residents have staged rallies and marches to protest the military presence in their towns.

While the military has certainly not acted flawlessly in its operations and undoubtedly bears guilt for some offenses, these complaints are not completely reliable records of the military’s performance. For one thing, many cartel enforcers routinely dress in military-style clothing and travel in vehicles painted to resemble military trucks, while many also have military backgrounds and operate using the tactics they were taught. This makes it difficult for residents, during the chaos of a raid, to distinguish between legitimate soldiers and cartel members. More important, however, is the fact that the Mexican drug cartels have been keenly aware of the threat posed to them by the military and of the controversy associated with the military’s involvement in the cartel war. For this reason, the cartels have been eager to exploit this vulnerability by paying residents to protest the military presence and spread reports of military abuses.

Outlook
As the Mexican congress and supreme court continue the debate over the appropriateness of the military in various roles in the cartel war, it is important to recall what the armed forces have done well. For all its faults and failures, the military remains the most reliable security tool available to the Mexican government. And continued problems with the federal police reforms mean that the military will remain the most reliable and versatile option for the foreseeable future.

Any legislative or judicial effort to withdraw the armed forces from certain tasks will leave the government with fewer options in battling the cartels and, ultimately, in an even more precarious position than it is in now. The loss of such a valuable tool in some areas of the cartel war would force the government to fundamentally alter its strategy in the cartel war, most likely requiring it to scale back its objectives.

22964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: Mex Mil in the Cartel War on: July 29, 2009, 04:07:11 PM
The Role of the Mexican Military in the Cartel War
July 29, 2009




By Stephen Meiners and Fred Burton

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is in the middle of a four-day visit this week to Mexico, where he is meeting with Mexican government officials to discuss the two countries’ joint approach to Mexico’s ongoing cartel war. In prepared remarks at a July 27 press conference with Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, Kerlikowske said Washington is focused on reducing drug use in the United States, supporting domestic law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers and working with other countries that serve as production areas or transshipment points for U.S.-bound drugs.

Absent from his remarks was any mention of the U.S. position on the role of the Mexican military in the country’s battle against the drug cartels. Kerlikowske’s visit comes amid a growing debate in Mexico over the role that the country’s armed forces should play in the cartel war. The debate has intensified in recent weeks, as human rights organizations in Mexico and the United States have expressed concern over civil rights abuses by Mexican troops assigned to counternarcotics missions in various parts of the country.

The director of Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission, for example, has encouraged the new legislature to re-examine the role of the Mexican military in the country’s cartel war, saying that the current approach is clearly not working. The number of citizen complaints against soldiers has increased over the last few years as the troops have become actively engaged in counternarcotics operations, and the commission director has expressed hope for greater accountability on the part of the armed forces.

Citing similar concerns, and the fact that such citizen complaints are handled by the military justice system — which has reportedly not successfully prosecuted a case in years — the independent U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her not to certify Mexico’s human rights record to Congress, which would freeze the disbursement of a portion of the funds for the Merida Initiative, a U.S. counternarcotics aid package for Mexico.

More important than any possible funding freeze from Washington, though, is the potential response from the Mexican government. President Felipe Calderon has emphasized that the use of the military is a temporary move and is necessary until the country’s federal police reforms can be completed in 2012. Legislative leaders from both main opposition parties complained last week that Calderon’s approach has unnecessarily weakened the armed forces, while the leader of the Mexican senate — a member of Calderon’s National Action Party — said the legislature will examine the role of the military and seek to balance the needs of the cartel war with the civil rights of the Mexican people. In addition, the president of Mexico’s supreme court has said the court plans to review the appropriateness of military jurisdiction in cases involving citizen complaints against soldiers.

Domestic debate and international criticism of Calderon’s use of the military are not necessarily new. Indeed, Calderon was defending his approach to representatives of the United Nations back in early 2008. However, the renewed debate, combined with recent changes in the Mexican legislature, have set the stage for a general re-examination of the Mexican military’s role in the cartel war. And while it is still unclear exactly where the re-examination will end up, the eventual outcome could drastically change the way the Mexican government fights the cartels.

More than Just Law Enforcement
Since taking office in December 2006, Calderon’s decision to deploy more than 35,000 federal troops in security operations around the country has grabbed headlines. While previous presidents have used the armed forces for counternarcotics operations in isolated cases, the scope and scale of the military’s involvement under Calderon has reached new heights. This approach is due in no small part to the staggering level of corruption among federal police. But primarily, the use of the military is a reflection of the many tasks that must be performed under Calderon’s strategy, which is far more complex than simply putting boots on the ground and requires more than what traditional law enforcement agencies can provide.

This broad range of tasks can be grouped into three categories:

The first involves duties traditionally carried out by the armed forces in Mexico, such as technical intelligence collection and maritime and aerial monitoring and interdiction. These tasks are well-suited to the armed forces, which have the equipment, training and experience to perform them. These are also key requirements in the country’s counternarcotics strategy, considering that Mexico is the primary transshipment point for South American-produced cocaine bound for the United States, the world’s largest market for the drug.
The second category includes traditional civilian law enforcement and judicial duties. Specifically, this includes actions such as making arrests, prosecuting and convicting defendants and imposing punishment. With the exception of the military routinely detaining suspects and then turning them over to law enforcement authorities, the tasks in this second category have remained mainly in the hands of civilian authorities.
The final category is more of a gray area. It involves tasks that overlap between Mexico’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies, and it is the area over the last few years in which the Mexican military has become increasingly involved. It is also the area that has caused the most controversy, primarily due to the fact that it has brought the troops into closer contact with the civilian population.
Some of the most noteworthy tasks in this final “gray” category include:

Drug-crop eradication and meth-lab seizures. In addition to being the main transit point for U.S.-bound cocaine, Mexico is also estimated to be the largest producer of marijuana and methamphetamines consumed in the United States. The U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center estimates that more than 17,000 tons of marijuana were produced in Mexico during 2007, most of which was smuggled into the United States. Similarly, seizures of so-called meth superlabs in Mexico over the last few years — some capable of producing hundreds of tons annually — underscore the scale of meth production in Mexico. The destruction of marijuana crops and meth production facilities is a task that has been shared by both the military and law enforcement under Calderon.
Immigration and customs inspections at points of entry and exit. Thorough inspections of inbound and outbound cargo and people at Mexico’s borders have played a key role in some of the more noteworthy drug seizures during the last few years, including the country’s largest cocaine seizure at the Pacific port of Manzanillo in November 2007. Similar inspections elsewhere have led to significant seizures of weapons and precursor chemicals used in the production of meth. In many cases, the Mexican armed forces have played a role in either stopping or inspecting suspect cargo.
Raids and arrests of high-value cartel targets. Beyond simply stopping the flow of drugs and weapons into and out of Mexico, the federal government has also sought to disrupt the powerful organizations that control the drug trade by arresting drug cartel members. Given the federal police’s reputation for corruption, highly sensitive and risky operations such as the arrest of high-ranking cartel leaders have more often than not been carried out by the military’s elite Special Forces Airmobile Group (GAFE). In most cases, the suspects detained by GAFE units have been quickly handed over to the attorney general’s office, though in some cases military personnel have been accused of holding suspects for longer than necessary in order to extract information themselves.
General public safety and law enforcement. The rise in organized crime-related violence across Mexico over the last few years has been a cause for great concern both within the government and among the population. A central part of the federal government’s effort to curb the violence has been the deployment of military forces to many areas, where the troops conduct such actions as security patrols, traffic stops and raids as well as man highway checkpoints. In some cities, the military has been called upon to assume all public-safety and law-enforcement responsibilities, disarming the local police force while looking for police links to organized crime. Another part of this militarization of law enforcement has involved the appointment of military officers — many of whom resign their commission a day before their appointment — to law enforcement posts such as police chief or public safety consultant.
It is this final trend that has led to most of the concerns and complaints regarding the military’s role in the cartel war. The federal government has been mindful of these concerns from the beginning and has tried to minimize the criticism by involving the federal police as much as possible. But it has been the armed forces that have provided the bulk of the manpower and coordination that federal police agencies — hampered by rampant corruption and a tumultuous reform process — have not been able to muster.

A Victim of its Own Success
The armed forces’ greater effectiveness, rapid deployment capability and early successes in some public security tasks made it inevitable that its role would evolve and expand. The result has been a classic case of mission creep. By the time additional duties were being assigned to the military, its resources had become stretched too thin to be as effective as before. This reality became apparent by early 2008 in public-safety roles, especially when the military was tasked with security operations in cities as large and as violent as Ciudad Juarez.

Even though the Mexican military was not designed or trained for law-enforcement duties or securing urban areas, it had been generally successful in improving the security situation of the smaller cities to which it had been deployed throughout 2007. But by early 2008, when soldiers were first deployed to Ciudad Juarez en masse, it became clear that they simply had too much on their plate. As the city’s security environment deteriorated disastrously during the second half of 2008, the military presence there proved incapable of controlling it, an outcome that has continued even today, despite the unprecedented concentration of forces that are currently in the city.

In addition to the military’s mission failures, it has also struggled with increasing civil rights complaints from citizens. In particular, soldiers have been accused of unauthorized searches and seizures, rough treatment and torture of suspects (which in some cases have included police officers), and improper rules of engagement, which have led several times to civilian deaths when soldiers mistook them for hostile shooters. In many cities, particularly in northern and western Mexico, exasperated residents have staged rallies and marches to protest the military presence in their towns.

While the military has certainly not acted flawlessly in its operations and undoubtedly bears guilt for some offenses, these complaints are not completely reliable records of the military’s performance. For one thing, many cartel enforcers routinely dress in military-style clothing and travel in vehicles painted to resemble military trucks, while many also have military backgrounds and operate using the tactics they were taught. This makes it difficult for residents, during the chaos of a raid, to distinguish between legitimate soldiers and cartel members. More important, however, is the fact that the Mexican drug cartels have been keenly aware of the threat posed to them by the military and of the controversy associated with the military’s involvement in the cartel war. For this reason, the cartels have been eager to exploit this vulnerability by paying residents to protest the military presence and spread reports of military abuses.

Outlook
As the Mexican congress and supreme court continue the debate over the appropriateness of the military in various roles in the cartel war, it is important to recall what the armed forces have done well. For all its faults and failures, the military remains the most reliable security tool available to the Mexican government. And continued problems with the federal police reforms mean that the military will remain the most reliable and versatile option for the foreseeable future.

Any legislative or judicial effort to withdraw the armed forces from certain tasks will leave the government with fewer options in battling the cartels and, ultimately, in an even more precarious position than it is in now. The loss of such a valuable tool in some areas of the cartel war would force the government to fundamentally alter its strategy in the cartel war, most likely requiring it to scale back its objectives.
22965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq-9 on: July 29, 2009, 03:45:10 PM
So I just heard that DynCorp has been told by the Iraqi government that they have to bring all 60 of their PSD vehicles down at the same time to be formally  documented so as to allow their continued presence and operation in Iraq. They will have to pay a 5% import surcharge per vehicle.
 
These armored Suburbans can run about $200K.  So say the tax is $10K per vehicle.  That would be about $600,000.
 
And that's just DynCorp.
22966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Coxe on: July 29, 2009, 07:43:09 AM
"As our president bears no resemblance to a king so we shall see the Senate has no similitude to nobles." --Tench Coxe, An American Citizen, No. 2, 1787
22967  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Lacrosse Staff on: July 29, 2009, 07:03:16 AM
A one handed version can be seen at 2:42 (I think) by the player in the green shirt:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PklCh7KPfm4

To get a bit more sense of the game:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlX0UUeohaQ&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6BjA_zjGBU&feature=fvw lousy music but really good attack stick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8K3oyo9Tzw&feature=related

A fair amount of contact is allowed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9WSMxQ7uJw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ1Rm4KaTns a bit grainier, but a lot of good hits
22968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Talking with the Taliban on: July 28, 2009, 09:35:20 PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/27/britain-us-talks-taliban-afghanistan
22969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sacha Baron Cohen on: July 28, 2009, 10:28:10 AM
Brüno star Sacha Baron Cohen threatened by Gaza militant group over 'mocking' interview

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 2:06 PM on 28th July 2009


Brüno star Sacha Baron Cohen has been threatened by a terrorist organisation that he ridiculed in the hit satire.

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian militias in the West Bank, released a statement saying it was 'very upset' at how it is portrayed in the film.

The group is responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and shootings and has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and United States.

'The movie was part of a conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades,' a spokesman told Jerusalem-based journalist Aaron Klein.

'We reserve the right to respond in the way we find suitable against this man.'

In the film, Baron Cohen's Austrian character, an outrageous gay fashionista, attempts to get himself kidnapped during a meeting with Ayman Abu Aita, who is identified in the film as the leader of the Martyrs' Brigades.

Brüno is shown telling Mr Abu Aita: 'I want to be famous. I want the best guys in the business to kidnap me. Al-Qaeda is so 2001.'

Before Mr Abu Aita can respond, Brüno suggests that he remove his moustache, explaining: 'Because your king Osama looks like a kind of dirty wizard or homeless Santa.'

A spokesman for 37-year-old Baron Cohen refused to comment on the threat.

Mr Klein, the WorldNet reporter who received the statement from the Martyrs' Brigades, said today: 'These are terrorists who are fundamentalist Islamists. They are against feminism, gay rights and abortion.

'Once I asked them what would they do if they found out one of their members was a homosexual. They said they would cut off his head.'

Mr Abu Aita himself has threatened to sue Baron Cohen. He claims he was tricked into appearing in the film and has insisted that he is no longer involved in the Martyrs' Brigades.

Baron Cohen is reported to have received death threats in America and Kazakhstan after his previous box office hit, Borat.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worl...nterview.html#
22970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hunches on: July 28, 2009, 10:09:15 AM
By BENEDICT CAREY
Published: July 27, 2009
The sight was not that unusual, at least not for Mosul, Iraq, on a summer morning: a car parked on the sidewalk, facing opposite traffic, its windows rolled up tight. Two young boys stared out the back window, kindergarten age maybe, their faces leaning together as if to share a whisper.

Jennifer Murphy, a psychologist at the Army Research Institute, demonstrated a test used to determine the characteristics of service members who might have exceptional abilities at detecting roadside bombs.

For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.

“One afternoon I remember turning down a road in Baghdad we were very familiar with, and there’s no one out — very creepy for that time of day.” Sgt. Dan Gomez, speaking about when he and others sensed something was amiss and ended up avoiding a roadside bomb.

The soldier patrolling closest to the car stopped. It had to be hot in there; it was 120 degrees outside. “Permission to approach, sir, to give them some water,” the soldier said to Sgt. First Class Edward Tierney, who led the nine-man patrol that morning.

“I said no — no,” Sergeant Tierney said in a telephone interview from Afghanistan. He said he had an urge to move back before he knew why: “My body suddenly got cooler; you know, that danger feeling.”

The United States military has spent billions on hardware, like signal jamming technology, to detect and destroy what the military calls improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, the roadside bombs that have proved to be the greatest threat in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, where Sergeant Tierney is training soldiers to foil bomb attacks.

Still, high-tech gear, while helping to reduce casualties, remains a mere supplement to the most sensitive detection system of all — the human brain. Troops on the ground, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for foiling many I.E.D. attacks, and, like Sergeant Tierney, they often cite a gut feeling or a hunch as their first clue.

Everyone has hunches — about friends’ motives, about the stock market, about when to fold a hand of poker and when to hold it. But United States troops are now at the center of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation, some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it well before others’ do.

Experience matters, of course: if you have seen something before, you are more likely to anticipate it the next time. And yet, recent research suggests that something else is at work, too.

Small differences in how the brain processes images, how well it reads emotions and how it manages surges in stress hormones help explain why some people sense imminent danger before most others do.

Studies of members of the Army Green Berets and Navy Seals, for example, have found that in threatening situations they experience about the same rush of the stress hormone cortisol as any other soldier does. But their levels typically drop off faster than less well-trained troops, much faster in some cases.

In the past two years, an Army researcher, Steven Burnett, has overseen a study into human perception and bomb detection involving about 800 military men and women. Researchers have conducted exhaustive interviews with experienced fighters. They have administered personality tests and measured depth perception, vigilance and related abilities. The troops have competed to find bombs in photographs, videos, virtual reality simulations and on the ground in mock exercises.

The study complements a growing body of work suggesting that the speed with which the brain reads and interprets sensations like the feelings in one’s own body and emotions in the body language of others is central to avoiding imminent threats.

“Not long ago people thought of emotions as old stuff, as just feelings — feelings that had little to do with rational decision making, or that got in the way of it,” said Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. “Now that position has reversed. We understand emotions as practical action programs that work to solve a problem, often before we’re conscious of it. These processes are at work continually, in pilots, leaders of expeditions, parents, all of us.”

Seeing What Others Miss

The patrol through Mosul’s main marketplace never became routine, not once, not after the 10th time or the 40th. A divot in the gravel, a slight shadow in a ditch, a pile of discarded cans; any one could be deadly; every one raised the same question: Is there something — anything — out of place here?

Clearing a road of bombs is one of the least glamorous and most dangerous jobs on the planet. It is also one of the most important. In May, coalition forces found 465 of them in Afghanistan and 333 in Iraq. The troops foiled more than half the traps over all — but about 10 percent of the bombs killed or maimed a soldier or a Marine.

“We had indicators we’d look for, but you’d really have to be aware of everything, every detail,” said Sergeant Tierney, whose unit was working with the Iraqi police in that summer of 2004.

In recent years, the bombs have become more powerful, the hiding places ever more devious. Bombs in fake rocks. Bombs in poured concrete, built into curbs. Bombs triggered by decoy bombs.

“On one route sweep mission, there was a noticeable I.E.D. in the middle of the road, but it was a decoy,” said Lt. Donovan Campbell, who in 2004 led a Marine platoon for seven months of heavy fighting in Ramadi and wrote a vivid book, “Joker One,” about the experience. “The real bomb was encased in concrete, a hundred meters away, in the midst of rubble. One of my Marines spotted it. He said, ‘That block looks too symmetrical, too perfect.’ ”

Lieutenant Campbell had the area cleared and the bomb destroyed.


“Unless you know what rubble in that part of Iraq looks like, there’s no way you’d see that,” he said. “I had two guys, one we called Hound Dog, who were really good at spotting things that didn’t fit.”

Soldiers looked for roadside bombs in Afghanistan. Troops, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for foiling many roadside bomb attacks.
Brain Power
The Gut Feeling
For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.



The men and women who performed best in the Army’s I.E.D. detection study had the sort of knowledge gained through experience, according to a preliminary analysis of the results; but many also had superb depth perception and a keen ability to sustain intense focus for long periods. The ability to pick odd shapes masked in complex backgrounds — a “Where’s Waldo” type of skill that some call anomaly detection — also predicted performance on some of the roadside bomb simulations.

“Some of these things cannot be trained, obviously,” said Jennifer Murphy, a psychologist at the Army Research Institute and the principal author of the I.E.D. study. “But some may be; these are fighters who become very sensitive to small changes in the environment. They’ll clear the same road every day and notice ridiculously subtle things: this rock was not here yesterday.”

In a study that appeared last month, neuroscientists at Princeton University demonstrated just how sensitive this visual ability is — and how a gut feeling may arise before a person becomes conscious of what the brain has registered.

They had students try to pick out figures — people or cars — in a series of photos that flashed by on a computer screen. The pictures flashed by four at a time, and the participants were told to scan only two of them, either those above and below the center point, or those to the left and right. Eye-tracking confirmed that they did just that.

But brain scans showed that the students’ brains registered the presence of people or cars even when the figures appeared in photos that they were not paying attention to. They got better at it, too, with training.

Some people’s brains were almost twice as fast at detecting the figures as others’. “It appears that the brain primes the whole visual system to be strongly sensitive to categories of visual input,” kinds of things to look for, said Marius V. Peelen, a neuroscientist at Princeton and a co-author of the study with Li Fei-Fei and Sabine Kastner. “And apparently some people’s visual system processes things much faster than others’.”

Something in the Air

A soldier or Marine could have X-ray vision and never see most I.E.D.’s, however. Veterans say that those who are most sensitive to the presence of the bombs not only pick up small details but also have the ability to step back and observe the bigger picture: extra tension in the air, unusual rhythms in Iraqi daily life, oddities in behavior.

“One afternoon I remember turning down a road in Baghdad we were very familiar with, and there’s no one out — very creepy for that time of day,” said Sgt. Don Gomez, a spokesman for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who took part in the invasion and later, in 2005, drove a general in and around Baghdad.

Trash was heaped in a spot along the street where Sergeant Gomez and other drivers in the convoy had not seen it before, so they gave it a wide berth.

“We later called it in to an explosives team and, sure enough, they found one and detonated it — the thing left a huge crater,” he said.

As the brain tallies cues, big and small, consciously and not, it may send out an alarm before a person fully understands why.

In a landmark experiment in 1997, researchers at the University of Iowa had people gamble on a simple card game. Each participant was spotted $2,000 and had to choose cards from any of four decks. The cards offered immediate rewards, of $50 or $100, and the occasional card carried a penalty. But the game was rigged: the penalties in two of the decks were modest and in the other two decks were large.

The pattern was unpredictable, but on average the players reported “liking” some decks better than others by the 50th card to the 80th card drawn before they could fully explain why. Their bodies usually tensed up — subtly, but significantly, according to careful measures of sweat — in a few people as early as about the 10th card drawn, according to the authors, Dr. Damasio; his wife, Dr. Hanna Damasio; Dr. Antoine Bechara; and Dr. Daniel Tranel.

In a study published in May, researchers at King’s College in London did brain scans of people playing the gambling game used in the University of Iowa study. Several brain regions were particularly active, including the orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in decision making, and the insula, where the brain is thought to register the diverse sensations coming from around the body and interpret them as a cohesive feeling — that cooling sensation of danger. In some brains, the alarm appears to sound earlier, and perhaps more intensely, than average.

===========



Page 3 of 3)



Gut feelings about potential threats or opportunities are not always correct, and neuroscientists debate the conditions under which the feeling precedes the conscious awareness of the clues themselves. But the system evolved for survival, and, in some people, is apparently exquisitely sensitive, the findings suggest.

For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.



Mastering the Fear

One thing did not quite fit on the morning of Sergeant Tierney’s patrol in Mosul. The nine soldiers left the police station around 9 a.m., but they did not get their usual greeting. No one shot at them or fired a rocket-propelled grenade. Minutes passed, and nothing.

The soldiers walked the road in an odd silence, scanning the landscape for evidence of I.E.D.’s and trying to stay alert for an attack from insurgents. In war, anxiety can run as high as the Iraqi heat, and neuroscientists say that the most perceptive, observant brain on earth will not pick up subtle clues if it is overwhelmed by stress.

In the Army study of I.E.D. detection, researchers found that troops who were good at spotting bombs in simulations tended to think of themselves as predators, not prey. That frame of mind by itself may work to reduce anxiety, experts say.

The brains of elite troops also appear to register perceived threats in a different way from the average enlistee, said Dr. Martin P. Paulus, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, and the V.A. San Diego Healthcare System. At the sight of angry faces, members of the Navy Seals show significantly higher activation in the insula than regular soldiers, according to a just-completed study.

“The big question is whether these differences perceiving threat are natural, or due to training,” Dr. Paulus said.

That morning in Mosul, Sergeant Tierney gave the command to fall back. The soldier who had asked to approach the car had just time enough to turn before the bomb exploded. Shrapnel clawed the side of his face; the shock wave threw the others to the ground. The two young boys were gone: killed in the blast, almost certainly, he said.

Since then, Sergeant Tierney has often run back the tape in his head, looking for the detail that tipped him off. Maybe it was the angle of the car, or the location; maybe the absence of an attack, the sleepiness in the market: perhaps the sum of all of the above.

“I can’t point to one thing,” he said. “I just had that feeling you have when you walk out of the house and know you forgot something — you got your keys, it’s not that — and need a few moments to figure out what it is.”

He added, “I feel very fortunate none of my men were killed or badly wounded.”
22971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Price of Tyranny on: July 28, 2009, 09:58:49 AM
Once you get it started over there, I will delete it here.

This is a really great idea for a thread by the way and I am looking forward to it becoming one of our best and most important threads.

22972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Federalist 57 on: July 28, 2009, 08:47:53 AM
"The house of representatives ... can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny." --Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788
22973  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Lacrosse Staff on: July 27, 2009, 09:58:58 PM
Woof All:

My son has become involved with the sport of lacrosse.

FANTASTIC GAME!!!  I wish I had known about it when I was young and now that I am not I wish there were a league for old farts like me.

Dog Brother trivia:  Top Dog used to play a little bit of lacrosse and to my eye it was a subtle and important influence to the distinctive quality of his movement (as was his being a defensive end for Columbia University's football team for one season).

Here are some entries from the thread on DBMA Lacrosse Staff on the DBMA Association Forum:

Guro Crafty
=========================

Here are some of the rules for lacrosse regarding contact:

From Lacrosse, fundmentals for winning by David Urick

1: Slashing: Stirking an opponent anywhere other than the gloved hand on the stick;

2: Tripping: obstructing an opponent at or below the knees with the stick, hands, arms, feet, or legs;

3: illegal body checking:  BC'g from the rear, above the shoulders, below the knees, or when the opponent is not in possession of the ball or within 5 yards of a loose ball.

4: Cross checking:  checking with the part of the stick between the hands (this an interesting reason why the Kalimba staff grip intrigues Coach Brooks so much-- there is NO area between the hands!)

5) Unsportsmanlike conduct

, , , ,

A)  HOLDING:  Holding an opponent of stick.  A player may hold off an opp in possession of the ball or within 5 yardsw of a loose ball with either a closed gloved hand on the hand of his stick or with either forearm.  However both hand of the defender must be upon his stick.  When holding off, a player must only exert pressure equal to that of his opponent (THIS is where the techniques, tactics, strategies I am developing get close to crossing the line.  I believe these issues can be solved, but until we get referees to acknowledge it, it is just Coach Brooks and my opinion)

, , ,


Here is some conventional 1x1 defense thinking:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8bn6oTsnOU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWJuqldYbk8&feature=related






------------------

Many staff systems have lots of spinning moves as part of using the range potential of the weapon in the context of 360 degrees.  Obviously, not having to worry here about getting hit in the back or the head facilitates spin moves greatly.

One of the ideas I am working with here is to use the "thirds grip" (a major element of our 6' staff subsystem)  to have, in effect, an attack stick (i.e. the shorter stick middies and attackers use for both attack and defense) on each side of the defender.  This contrasts to current practice wherein the attack stick is only on one side-- middies and attackers do so because that is the nature of the length of their stick and defenders seek to use the reach advantage of the d-stick and to force the attacker to commit sooner whether he is going left or right.

Note here the use of theory and technique from the Merge Theory VL, as in the use of Kalimba type merges done on the uppercut line with each each end of the d-stick.

The thirds grip also allows a fluid transition to the grip of the Kalimba game for a shorter staff (4-5 foot typically)-- which also allows for checking the the third of the stick that is in front of me without breaking the rule against checking with the lenght of the stick between my hands!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHowi-6c5cI&feature=player_embedded
22974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Price of Tyranny on: July 27, 2009, 07:54:45 PM
This is a good idea for a thread, though I am thinking it might also fit on the SCE forum too.
22975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / BO's Gift on: July 27, 2009, 06:52:06 PM
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/27/the-presidents-accidental-gift-on-race/?feat=article_top10_read
 
BREITBART: Obama's accidental gift on race
By Andrew Breitbart | Monday, July 27, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Less than a month after being confirmed as the nation's attorney General, Eric H. Holder Jr. called out the American people as "essentially a nation of cowards" for refusing to talk openly about race.

So, thank you, professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and President Obama, for starting the long-awaited national discussion on black and white identity - while averting our attention from the cockamamie scheme to nationalize health care.

And kudos to the professor and the president for choosing Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department as the representative of the Caucasian-American side of this difficult and much-needed historic debate.

Poetry was at work as the archetypal racist white cop who, according to the admittedly fact-challenged president, "stupidly" arrested his "friend." Sgt. Crowley waged a swift and effective public relations campaign that quashed the racism meme that Mr. Gates was recklessly pushing.

Sgt. Crowley, as it happens, is the Cambridge police force's hand-picked racial profiling expert and was selected by a former black police commissioner. He also performed CPR on black basketball star Reggie Lewis, whose widow praised the public servant for doing everything he could to save her husband. Sgt. Crowley's own police department immediately jumped to his defense in a picture-perfect multiracial photo op and press conference.

Even though Mr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley are poised to put their individual grievances to rest - over a beer negotiated by the president of the United States - the scope of the problem that brought them international attention lingers, underscoring the need for continued robust public dialogue.

We're finally talking, Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama. Why stop now?

Of course, the attorney general is essentially right in his assessment. Much of America is petrified to bring up race, especially in public forums - the media, in particular. But for exactly the opposite reasons Mr. Holder, the Obama administration and the brain trust of modern liberalism assert.

Americans, especially nonblacks, are deeply fearful that the dynamic is predicated on an un-American premise: presumed guilt. Innocence, under the extra-constitutional reign of political correctness, liberalism's brand of soft Shariah law, must be proved ex post facto.

Think not? Ask the Duke lacrosse team, which had 88 of the school's professors sign a petition that presumed their guilt before their side of the story was known. Even though the white athletes were exonerated and the liberal district attorney who pushed the case was dethroned, disbarred and disgraced, the professoriate that assigned guilt to its own students still refuses to apologize.

Those signatories constituted 90 percent of Duke's African and African-American Studies Department, the subject-matter domain of Mr. Gates, Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West and other tenure-wielding, highfalutin, iambic-pentameter-filibustering race baiters, and 60 percent of Duke's women's studies department, another hotbed of victimology posing as intellectualism.

While the media was front and center in preparing for the public executions of the three Duke lacrosse players, they scurried away when they were proved innocent. The Democratic Media Complex, in its pursuit of Orwellian hate-crime legislation, reparations and sundry non-ameliorative resolutions to America's troubled racial past, pursues its victims with blood lust. But it cannot act in good faith to redeem those it has destroyed in countless rushes to judgment. (Richard Jewell, R.I.P.)

The mainstream media choose to flaunt story lines that make white America appear guilty of continued institutional racism, while black racism against whites is ignored as an acceptable disposition given our nation's history. This double standard provides a game board on which the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton can thrive in perpetuity and ensures racial progress is slowed.

And that is why the Case of Sergeant Crowley vs. Professor Gates is so important. As is expected from professional race baiters, Mr. Gates instigated a public brouhaha over race. And Mr. Obama, a man who attended the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's racist sermons for 20 years, used the bully pulpit to grant his friend a national platform to condemn a man for doing his job.

Sgt. Crowley, a proud and defiant public professional, played the moment perfectly and stopped his own assassination by media. Talk about a postmodern hero. Whether he likes it or not, Sgt. Crowley is a potent symbol of how the union has managed to become more perfect, a Rosa Parks of rush-to-judgment "reverse racism."

Now that the facts of the case show that his friend the professor was the man doing the racial profiling, the president wants to end the discussion.

Now we see what the attorney general meant when he spoke of cowards.

• Andrew Breitbart is publisher of the news portals Breitbart.com and Breitbart.tv. His latest endeavor, Big Hollywood (http://bighollywood.breitbart.com), is a group blog on Hollywood and politics from the center-right perspective.
22976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 27, 2009, 11:03:02 AM
"So, why is the original BC kept from public viewing?"

This seems to me a VERY fair question given what is involved.
22977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Federalist 55 on: July 27, 2009, 08:54:29 AM
Freki:  Great to have you adding to the mix.
==================

"In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. ... Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob." --Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788
22978  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Vernon Forrest on: July 27, 2009, 08:41:15 AM
July 27, 2009

Forrest, Ex-Boxing Champ, Is Killed

By DERRICK HENRY
Vernon Forrest, a former middleweight boxing champion also known for his charitable work, was shot and killed Saturday night in Atlanta. The police said that he had apparently been robbed and then exchanged gunfire with his assailant.

Forrest, 38, is the third prominent boxer to die this month. Arturo Gatti, a super featherweight and light welterweight, was found dead July 11 at a Brazilian resort. Alexis Argüello, a champion in the lightweight divisions, was found dead on July 1 at his home in Managua, Nicaragua. He had been elected mayor of Nicaragua’s capital last year.

Last September, Forrest reclaimed his World Boxing Council title at 154 pounds by beating Sergio Mora, an opponent 10 years younger. Forrest, who had a 41-3 career record with 29 knockouts, had been sidelined by injury and vacated his crown. In 2002, he twice defeated Shane Mosley and was named Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year.

Forrest, who lived in Atlanta, had stopped at a gas station on Whitehall Street in central part of the city to put air into the tires of his Jaguar when a man robbed him at gunpoint, the police said. Forrest, who also was armed, chased the man several hundred feet, toward a nearby intersection. The two exchanged gunfire, Atlanta Police Det. Lt. Keith Meadows told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Forrest suffered seven to eight shots to the back, the police said. Lt. Meadows said there was evidence that Forrest had used his weapon, but the police did not know if the assailant had been shot.

An 11-year-old boy who was in Forrest’s vehicle gave police a description of the assailant. The boy, the son of Forrest’s girlfriend, did not witness the shootings, the police said.

An autopsy was planned for Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

Forrest, a former W.B.C. super welterweight champion, was just as noted for his work outside the ring. In 1998, he started Destiny’s Child, a foundation for people with mental disabilities in Atlanta.

Forrest said he thought of starting the foundation after seeing an autistic child struggle to tie his shoes. “If you sit there and watch a person take about an hour to tie his shoestrings, then you realize that whatever problems you got ain’t that significant,” he said in a 2006 New York Times interview. “A light just turned on in my head.”

The foundation set up group homes in the Atlanta area.

“We teach mathematics and how to count money,” Forrest said in a 2003 Times interview. “We had this one 18-year-old boy to whom all money looked the same. He had trouble with quarters and nickels. Then one day, he said, ‘Uncle Vernon, I got it, I got it.’ ”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/27/sp...7boxer.html?hp
22979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 26, 2009, 08:51:28 PM
Does anyone offer insurance that does not allow cancelation?
22980  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty Saturday class on: July 26, 2009, 04:06:15 PM
I'm suspecting that there are not many places where you can find on tangent on Aristotle on a thread announcing a class  cheesy  Crazy Cossack, please feel free to expound  smiley

@All:

The class met yesterday at the park where we used to hold our Gatherings of the Pack and had a fine time.  After a tangent on apply our 6 foot staff method to lacrosse, we focused on Kali Tudo starting with the low cross of the Trigg 101 as a portal to angular crashing drives.

Due to my seminar schedule in August and the desire to take a family vacation, we decided to resume training on Saturday September 5th.

TAC!
Guro Crafty
22981  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Now that's a knife! on: July 26, 2009, 03:51:42 PM
Apparently wee-hours street confrontation focused on who had bigger knife
By Kate Paul, KTVZ.COM

A would-be victim of a knife-wielding burglar on a southeast Bend street early Saturday morning turned the tables - pulling out a larger knife of his own - and the assailant then ran away, the teen told police.

Officers responded around 2:30 a.m. to the area of Southeast Third Street and Vine Lane (north of Wilson) on the report of an attempted armed robbery with a knife, said Sgt. Tom Pine.

The victim, Jeremy Meade, 18, of Bend, reported being confronted by an unknown suspect with a knife who demanded his wallet, Pine said.
But the teen refused to comply with demands.

Sgt. Andy Homan told NewsChanel 21, "When the subject confronted him, he had what (Meade) called a smaller knife. And apparently, our victim was carrying a larger knife, and he brandished it back - I'm guessing in (self) defense - and apparently that thwarted the robbery."
"And the suspect thought twice and ran off," Homan said.

The suspect ran north toward the Third Street underpass, and Meade called 911, Homan said, but police were unable to locate the suspect. Pine said he faces likely charges of first-degree attempted robbery, unlawful use of a weapon and menacing.

The suspect description is limited - a white male adult, about 6 feet tall, with medium build. Anyone with information that could help in the case was asked to contact police.
22982  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Euro Gathering 2009 on: July 26, 2009, 07:16:20 AM
Lonely Dog read this at the opening of the Gathering:
===============

A Howl of Greeting to All:

Due to the change of date of the Euro Gathering to a date which conflicts
with family commitments, I am not able to be there with you this time.

It certainly feels very strange and unsettling to not be at a Gathering, but
upon reflection I realize that the fact that my vision of the Dog Brothers
which began so long ago has gotten to a point where I CAN miss a day is
really a sign of tremendous progress towards the birth of a tribe which will
outlive us all.  For this, I am deeply happy.

Lonely Dog will be in touch with me during these days concerning Council of
Elders matters, so know that I will be a part of any asecensions and matters
of that sort.  Speaking of which-- there is the matter of an ascension to
full Dog Brother left over from last time.  I would like to suggest to
Lonely that he take care of it in this moment.  smiley

(Ceremony for Marcus:  By the powers invested in us by us we dub
thee___________.)

For those of you fighting for the first time and are worried about whether
you will fight well, allow me to ask you a three part question:

Remember the first time you had sex?  Were you any good at it?  Have you
gotten better since then?

What matters is that you keep on being here in this space-- for these are
days in which you will create and install in your spirit the place where you
are forever young so that you will walk as a warrior for all your days.

As you step out into the magical space, feel the gift of your aliveness and
be present in the moment.

The Learning that takes place in the adrenal state is some of the deepest
and highest that there is.  The greater the adrenal state, the profounder
the Learning. The greater the state of Play, the better the result. The more
that one can move in both directions simultaneously, the better. "The
greater the dichotomy, the profounder the transformation. Higher
consciousness through harder contact." (c)

See you all next time.

Crafty Dog
Guiding Force of the Dog Brothers.

==========================

I spoke a little while ago with Lonely and he reports two days of outstanding fighting and DB spirit.    The Tribe grows stronger every day.
22983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Intelligence and Psychology on: July 26, 2009, 06:43:46 AM
Scientists worry machines may outsmart man
By JOHN MARKOFF
Published: July 25, 2009
A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.

Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone.

Their concern is that further advances could create profound social disruptions and even have dangerous consequences.

As examples, the scientists pointed to a number of technologies as diverse as experimental medical systems that interact with patients to simulate empathy, and computer worms and viruses that defy extermination and could thus be said to have reached a “cockroach” stage of machine intelligence.

While the computer scientists agreed that we are a long way from Hal, the computer that took over the spaceship in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” they said there was legitimate concern that technological progress would transform the work force by destroying a widening range of jobs, as well as force humans to learn to live with machines that increasingly copy human behaviors.

The researchers — leading computer scientists, artificial intelligence researchers and roboticists who met at the Asilomar Conference Grounds on Monterey Bay in California — generally discounted the possibility of highly centralized superintelligences and the idea that intelligence might spring spontaneously from the Internet. But they agreed that robots that can kill autonomously are either already here or will be soon.

They focused particular attention on the specter that criminals could exploit artificial intelligence systems as soon as they were developed. What could a criminal do with a speech synthesis system that could masquerade as a human being? What happens if artificial intelligence technology is used to mine personal information from smart phones?

The researchers also discussed possible threats to human jobs, like self-driving cars, software-based personal assistants and service robots in the home. Just last month, a service robot developed by Willow Garage in Silicon Valley proved it could navigate the real world.

A report from the conference, which took place in private on Feb. 25, is to be issued later this year. Some attendees discussed the meeting for the first time with other scientists this month and in interviews.

The conference was organized by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and in choosing Asilomar for the discussions, the group purposefully evoked a landmark event in the history of science. In 1975, the world’s leading biologists also met at Asilomar to discuss the new ability to reshape life by swapping genetic material among organisms. Concerned about possible biohazards and ethical questions, scientists had halted certain experiments. The conference led to guidelines for recombinant DNA research, enabling experimentation to continue.

The meeting on the future of artificial intelligence was organized by Eric Horvitz, a Microsoft researcher who is now president of the association.

Dr. Horvitz said he believed computer scientists must respond to the notions of superintelligent machines and artificial intelligence systems run amok.

The idea of an “intelligence explosion” in which smart machines would design even more intelligent machines was proposed by the mathematician I. J. Good in 1965. Later, in lectures and science fiction novels, the computer scientist Vernor Vinge popularized the notion of a moment when humans will create smarter-than-human machines, causing such rapid change that the “human era will be ended.” He called this shift the Singularity.

This vision, embraced in movies and literature, is seen as plausible and unnerving by some scientists like William Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Other technologists, notably Raymond Kurzweil, have extolled the coming of ultrasmart machines, saying they will offer huge advances in life extension and wealth creation.

“Something new has taken place in the past five to eight years,” Dr. Horvitz said. “Technologists are replacing religion, and their ideas are resonating in some ways with the same idea of the Rapture.”

The Kurzweil version of technological utopia has captured imaginations in Silicon Valley. This summer an organization called the Singularity University began offering courses to prepare a “cadre” to shape the advances and help society cope with the ramifications.

“My sense was that sooner or later we would have to make some sort of statement or assessment, given the rising voice of the technorati and people very concerned about the rise of intelligent machines,” Dr. Horvitz said.

The A.A.A.I. report will try to assess the possibility of “the loss of human control of computer-based intelligences.” It will also grapple, Dr. Horvitz said, with socioeconomic, legal and ethical issues, as well as probable changes in human-computer relationships. How would it be, for example, to relate to a machine that is as intelligent as your spouse?

Dr. Horvitz said the panel was looking for ways to guide research so that technology improved society rather than moved it toward a technological catastrophe. Some research might, for instance, be conducted in a high-security laboratory.

The meeting on artificial intelligence could be pivotal to the future of the field. Paul Berg, who was the organizer of the 1975 Asilomar meeting and received a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1980, said it was important for scientific communities to engage the public before alarm and opposition becomes unshakable.

“If you wait too long and the sides become entrenched like with G.M.O.,” he said, referring to genetically modified foods, “then it is very difficult. It’s too complex, and people talk right past each other.”

Tom Mitchell, a professor of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University, said the February meeting had changed his thinking. “I went in very optimistic about the future of A.I. and thinking that Bill Joy and Ray Kurzweil were far off in their predictions,” he said. But, he added, “The meeting made me want to be more outspoken about these issues and in particular be outspoken about the vast amounts of data collected about our personal lives.”

Despite his concerns, Dr. Horvitz said he was hopeful that artificial intelligence research would benefit humans, and perhaps even compensate for human failings. He recently demonstrated a voice-based system that he designed to ask patients about their symptoms and to respond with empathy. When a mother said her child was having diarrhea, the face on the screen said, “Oh no, sorry to hear that.”

A physician told him afterward that it was wonderful that the system responded to human emotion. “That’s a great idea,” Dr. Horvitz said he was told. “I have no time for that.”

Ken Conley/Willow Garage
22984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Once again on: July 26, 2009, 06:00:34 AM
Repeating my post of the 23rd:

Question 1: What is done and what should be done about people with pre-existing conditions looking for health care?

Question 2:  Is/should an insurance company be allowed to discontinue someone who develops a problem?

==========================================

My favorite cartoon strip-- highly recommended as a daily read!
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/
22985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thomas Friedman: The Losers hang on on: July 26, 2009, 05:32:32 AM
A tad sunny  cheesy with regard to Afpakia I think (see e.g. the "Michael Yon in Afg" thread and the Afg-Pak thread here) but some points worth consideration.

=========================================
The Losers Hang On Sign in to Recommend
 
After spending a week traveling the frontline of the “war on terrorism” — from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan in the seas off Iran, to northern Iraq, to Afghanistan and into northwest Pakistan — I can comfortably report the following: The bad guys are losing.

Yes, the dominos you see falling in the Muslim world today are the extremist Islamist groups and governments. They have failed to persuade people by either their arguments or their performances in power that their puritanical versions of Islam are the answer. Having lost the argument, though, the radicals still hang on thanks to gun barrels and oil barrels — and they can for a while.

Because, while the radicals have failed miserably, our allies — the pro-Americans, the Muslim modernists, the Arab moderates — have not really filled the void with reform and good government of their own. They are winning by default. More on that later.

For now, though, it is obvious that everywhere they have won or seized power, the Islamists — in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon or Gaza — have overplayed their hands, dragged their societies into useless wars or engaged in nihilistic violence that today is producing a broad backlash from mainstream Muslims.

Think of this: In the late-1970s, two leaders made historic trips — President Anwar Sadat flew from Egypt to Israel and Ayatollah Khomeini flew from Paris to Tehran. For the last 30 years, politics in the Middle East and the Muslim world has, in many ways, been a struggle between their competing visions.

Sadat argued that the future should bury the past and that Arabs and Muslims should build their future based on peace with Israel, integration with the West and embracing modernity. Khomeini argued that the past should bury the future and that Persians and Muslims should build their future on hostility to Israel, isolation from the West and subordinating modernity to a puritanical Islam.

In 2009, the struggle between those two trends tipped toward the Sadatists. The fact that Iran’s ruling theocrats had to steal their election to stay in power and forcibly suppress dissent by millions of Iranians — according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran has surpassed China as the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with 41 now behind bars — is the most visible sign of this. The Taliban’s burning down of secular schools that compete with its mosques, and its peddling of heroin to raise cash, are also not exactly signs of intellectual triumph.

The same day that President Obama spoke to the Muslim world from Cairo University, Osama bin Laden released a long statement on Islamic Web sites and on Al Jazeera. As the Egyptian Middle East expert Mamoun Fandy noted: “Obama beat Osama hands down. Ask anyone about the content of Obama’s speech and they will tell you. Ask them what Osama said and most people will say, ‘Did he give a speech?’ ”

In Iraq’s elections last January, nationalist and moderate Muslim parties defeated the sectarian, radical religious parties, while in Lebanon, a pro-Western coalition defeated one led by Hezbollah.

Here in Pakistan, the backlash against the Taliban has been building among the rising middle class. It started in March when a mobile-phone video of a teenage girl being held down and beaten outside her home by a Taliban commander in Pakistan’s Swat Valley spread virally across this country. In May, the Pakistani Army began an offensive against Taliban militants who had taken control of key towns in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and appeared to be moving toward the capital, Islamabad.

I followed Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visited a vast, choking-hot and dust-covered refugee tent camp in Jalozai, where some 116,000 refugees have fled the NWFP, as the Pakistani Army moved into their hometowns to smash the Taliban in a popular operation.

“People are totally against them, but the Taliban don’t care,” a Pakistani teacher, Abdul Jalil, 41, told me while taking a break from teaching the Urdu alphabet to young boys in a sweltering tent. “They are very cruel. They chopped people’s heads off.”

To the extent that the radical Islamists have any energy today, it comes not from the power of their ideas or examples of good governance, but by stoking sectarian feuds. In Afghanistan, the Taliban play on Pashtun nationalist grievances, and in Iraq, the Sunni jihadists draw energy from killing Shiites.

The only way to really dry up their support, though, is for the Arab and Muslim modernists to actually implement better ideas by producing less corrupt and more consensual governance, with better schools, more economic opportunities and a vision of Islam that is perceived as authentic yet embracing of modernity. That is where “our” allies in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have so consistently failed. Until that happens, the Islamist radicals will be bankrupt, but not out of business.
22986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 26, 2009, 04:09:45 AM
Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the govt. will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self insure!!

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get.

Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill - YOUR HEALTHCARE IS RATIONED!!!


Pg 42 of HC Bill - The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC Benefits for you. YOU have no choice!

PG 50 Section 152 in HC bill - HC will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise

Pg 58 HC Bill - Govt will have real-time access to individual's finances & a National ID Healthcard will be issued! [Mark of the Beast? Rev 13]

Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Govt will have direct access to your bank accounts for elective funds transfer

PG 65 Sec 164 is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in labor unions & community organizations [such as ACORN].

Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Govt is creating an HC Exchange to bring private HC plans under Govt control.

PG 84 Sec 203 HC bill - Govt mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the Exchange

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specifies Benefit Levels for all Plans [The Govt will ration your Healthcare].

PG 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill - Govt mandates linguistic services. Example - Translation for illegal aliens

Pg 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18 The Govt will use groups i.e., ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals For Govt HC plan

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specifics of Benefit Levels for Plans. [AARP members - your health care WILL be rationed]

-PG 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill - Medicaid Eligible Individuals (redefined elsewhere as all those under 133% of poverty level) will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. [No choice]

Pg 124 lines 24-25 HC No company can sue Govt for price fixing. No "judicial review" against Govt Monopoly.

Pg 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill - Doctors/ AMA - The Govt will tell you what you can earn.

Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST auto enroll employees into public option plan. [NO CHOICE]

Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay for HC for part time employees AND their families. (this will cut a lot of jobs)

Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Employer with payroll of 400k & above who does not provide public option Pays 8% additional tax on all payroll.

Pg 150 Lines 9-13 Business w payroll between 251k & 400k who doesn't provide public option pays 2-6% additional tax on all payroll

Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesn't have acceptable (who decides what is acceptable?) HC according to Govt will be taxed additional 2.5% of income

Pg 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual Taxes. [however, Americans will pay]

Pg 195 HC Bill -officers & employees of HC Administration [GOVT] will have access to ALL Americans' finance/personal records

PG 203 Line 14-15 HC - "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax" [Yes, it says that]

Pg 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid, Seniors, low income, poor, affected [Pay attention seniors]

Pg 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill - Doctors, doesn't matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same salary

PG 253 Line 10-18 Govt sets value of Dr's time, professional judgment, etc. [literally value of humans].

PG 265 Sec 1131Govt mandates & controls productivity for private HC industries

PG 268 Sec 1141 Fed Govt regulates rental & purchase of power driven wheelchairs

PG 272 SEC. 1145. TREATMENT BY CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - [Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!]

Page 280 Sec 1151 The Govt will penalize hospitals for what Govt deems preventable readmissions.

Pg 298 Lines 9-11 Drs, treat a patient during initial admission that results in a readmission-Govt will penalize you.

Pg 317 L 13-20 PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells Drs. what/how much they can own.

Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3 PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating hospitals cannot expand

Pg 321 2-13 Hospitals have opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input required. [govt permission]

Pg335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339 - Govt mandates establishment of outcome based measures. [HC the way they want. Rationing]

Pg 341 Lines 3-9 Govt has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc. Forcing people into Govt plan

Pg 354 Sec 1177 - Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people [such as Downs Syndrome]

Pg 379 Sec 1191 Govt creates more bureaucracy - Telehealth Advisory Committee. [HC by phone?]

PG 425 Lines 4-12 Govt mandates Advance Care Planning Consult. [Think Senior Citizens: end of life]

Pg 425 Lines 17-19 Govt will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of atty. Mandatory!

PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Govt provides approved list of end of life resources, guiding you in death [think mandatory Kervorkian]

PG 427 Lines 15-24 Govt mandates program for orders for end of life. The Govt has a say in how your life ends

Pg 429 Lines 1-9 An "advocate care planning consult" will be used frequently as patients health deteriorates

PG 429 Lines 10-12 "advocate care consultation" may include an ORDER for end of life plans. [An ORDER from GOV]

Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.

PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life

Pg 469 - Community Based Home Medical Services = Non profit organizations. [ACORN Medical Services]

Page 472 Lines 14-17 PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORG. Monthly payment to a community-based organization. [like ACORN]

PG 489 Sec 1308 The Govt will cover Marriage & Family therapy. [Which means they will insert Govt into your marriage]

Pg 494-498 Govt will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, rationing those services.

Here's the full Health Care bill that sits in the House.

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-...=f:h3200ih.pdf
22987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 25, 2009, 09:52:45 PM
Smartass cheesy
22988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 25, 2009, 01:51:35 PM
GM:

I am 56.

 grin
22989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 25, 2009, 11:05:44 AM
When I was in my early 20s, I was the only white guy in a 9 man band.  We had three percussion players and did originals, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and the Funkadelics and played gigs where I was the only white person in the room.  Also during this era I shared an apartment with a friend who was black.  All this was in Philadelphia.

In this context, even though white, I experienced racially tinged stops on several occasions.  For example, calm driving, calm behavior when stopped, yet dragged out of the car and searched.  It REALLY does happen and it is a bummer.
22990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Operation AC on: July 25, 2009, 09:29:41 AM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/michael-s-dispatches/

Michael's Dispatches
SatComms for Soldiers
  25 July 2009
Sangin, Afghanistan

Have been out with British forces in the area of Sangin in northern Helmand Province.  This area appears to be turning into the main effort of the current fight in Afghanistan, but this is unclear to me at the moment.  I do know that air assets are heavy.  During our mission yesterday, a B-1 could be seen overhead, though it was miles high.  On the ground, this place is loaded with IEDs and there were many firefights during yesterday’s mission.   My section of eight soldiers did not fire a single round; we did not come into direct contact, though bullets sometimes zipped overhead.  Nearly all missions are conducted on foot and the soldiers like it that way.  I am with the British battalion called 2 Rifles.  The last mission I did with 2 Rifles was in Iraq, and they killed maybe 26-27 JAM members during that fight.  Yesterday they only killed two Taliban (Predator actually made the shot), but the mission was well run, and morale here is very high.  Everybody is ready to roll again and missions are near continuous.  I’ll ask British commanders to let me stay, though that might not be necessary because there are so few helicopters.  More likely I am stuck here.  FOB Jackson is probably going to be my Hotel California, but that’s all good because these are great soldiers, in the thick of it, and I want to stay.

More broadly speaking, our forces are spread to the high winds across desolate stretches of Afghanistan, sometimes in tiny “bases” with as few as a half-dozen soldiers.  Last December, I spent some time with a group of such soldiers in Zabul Province, but hardly wrote a word about them, yet. They were deep in wild country and it took two days for us to drive out to a paved road.  Those soldiers had no access to Internet, and said that on one occasion they didn’t even get mail for three months.

Until December, I used a satellite antenna called a “Regional BGAN” (R-BGAN) HNS-9101 to transmit dispatches from remote areas.  These small, portable systems are expensive; during a fifteen-day period last year, I spent almost exactly $5,000.  (Prices based on bandwidth usage.)

During late 2008, when I saw the group of a half-dozen American soldiers, out there in the boondocks, two days from a road and once going three months without mail, I told Mrs. Frankie Mayo, who runs Operation AC.  Frankie and Operation AC had sent loads of gear to Iraq, including air conditioners and generators.  When I told Frankie about the isolated soldiers, she got to work with Hughes to send R-BGANs to Afghanistan.

Lucky for me, with the old R-BGAN no longer usable, Hughes, through Frankie, shipped a newer model, the Hughes 9201 BGAN Inmarsat Terminal.  Many of this year’s dispatches will come through the 9201.

Without such a terminal, large numbers of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors will be without regular communications for much or most of their time in Afghanistan.  The infrastructure is Spartan to non-existent.  Life here is tougher than it was in Iraq, and the fighting will be tougher still.  Yes, there are the gigantic bases—as in Iraq—where everything is available, but little of the war is being fought from the larger bases.

Extended battlefield journalism from Afghanistan is relatively non-existent.  Broadly speaking, folks at home will not know how their loved ones are doing unless they can communicate directly.  To learn more about the effort to send satellite communications gear to troops downrange, please see Operation AC.

http://www.operationac.com/index.html

 
22991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: July 25, 2009, 09:28:52 AM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/michael-s-dispatches/

Michael's Dispatches
SatComms for Soldiers
  25 July 2009
Sangin, Afghanistan

Have been out with British forces in the area of Sangin in northern Helmand Province.  This area appears to be turning into the main effort of the current fight in Afghanistan, but this is unclear to me at the moment.  I do know that air assets are heavy.  During our mission yesterday, a B-1 could be seen overhead, though it was miles high.  On the ground, this place is loaded with IEDs and there were many firefights during yesterday’s mission.   My section of eight soldiers did not fire a single round; we did not come into direct contact, though bullets sometimes zipped overhead.  Nearly all missions are conducted on foot and the soldiers like it that way.  I am with the British battalion called 2 Rifles.  The last mission I did with 2 Rifles was in Iraq, and they killed maybe 26-27 JAM members during that fight.  Yesterday they only killed two Taliban (Predator actually made the shot), but the mission was well run, and morale here is very high.  Everybody is ready to roll again and missions are near continuous.  I’ll ask British commanders to let me stay, though that might not be necessary because there are so few helicopters.  More likely I am stuck here.  FOB Jackson is probably going to be my Hotel California, but that’s all good because these are great soldiers, in the thick of it, and I want to stay.

More broadly speaking, our forces are spread to the high winds across desolate stretches of Afghanistan, sometimes in tiny “bases” with as few as a half-dozen soldiers.  Last December, I spent some time with a group of such soldiers in Zabul Province, but hardly wrote a word about them, yet. They were deep in wild country and it took two days for us to drive out to a paved road.  Those soldiers had no access to Internet, and said that on one occasion they didn’t even get mail for three months.

Until December, I used a satellite antenna called a “Regional BGAN” (R-BGAN) HNS-9101 to transmit dispatches from remote areas.  These small, portable systems are expensive; during a fifteen-day period last year, I spent almost exactly $5,000.  (Prices based on bandwidth usage.)

During late 2008, when I saw the group of a half-dozen American soldiers, out there in the boondocks, two days from a road and once going three months without mail, I told Mrs. Frankie Mayo, who runs Operation AC.  Frankie and Operation AC had sent loads of gear to Iraq, including air conditioners and generators.  When I told Frankie about the isolated soldiers, she got to work with Hughes to send R-BGANs to Afghanistan.

Lucky for me, with the old R-BGAN no longer usable, Hughes, through Frankie, shipped a newer model, the Hughes 9201 BGAN Inmarsat Terminal.  Many of this year’s dispatches will come through the 9201.

Without such a terminal, large numbers of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors will be without regular communications for much or most of their time in Afghanistan.  The infrastructure is Spartan to non-existent.  Life here is tougher than it was in Iraq, and the fighting will be tougher still.  Yes, there are the gigantic bases—as in Iraq—where everything is available, but little of the war is being fought from the larger bases.

Extended battlefield journalism from Afghanistan is relatively non-existent.  Broadly speaking, folks at home will not know how their loved ones are doing unless they can communicate directly.  To learn more about the effort to send satellite communications gear to troops downrange, please see Operation AC.

http://www.operationac.com/index.html

 
22992  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Affliction finished. Fedor to UFC? on: July 25, 2009, 08:08:59 AM
Affliction folds promotion, will sponsor UFC
By Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports

  After promoting two critically acclaimed but financially disastrous mixed martial arts cards, Affliction on Friday first canceled its pay-per-view card scheduled for Aug. 1 and then opted to get out of the promotional business.

Affliction released a statement Friday evening in which it announced “a collaboration with the UFC.” It confirmed that it will cease operations as a fight promoter and that its clothing division will become a UFC sponsor.

“Our brand is synonymous with the ‘Live Fast’ approach to life and UFC is the perfect venue for us to market our brand. We have come to an agreement with the UFC which we feel will be the best for the sport and will help the UFC continue delivering the highest caliber of fights.” said Eric Foss, co-founder of Affliction.

Affliction had a card slated for Aug. 1 with a main event of Fedor Emelianenko, the No. 2 fighter in the Yahoo! Sports mixed martial arts rankings, against former UFC champion Josh Barnett at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

But Barnett tested positive for an anabolic steroid and on Tuesday was denied a license to fight by the California State Athletic Commission.

That left Affliction scrambling to find a replacement for Emelianenko. With no viable alternatives – the best was former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, who was already down to 195 pounds for a scheduled middleweight fight – Affliction early Friday opted to scrap the show.

Later in the day, Affliction came to terms on a deal with the UFC in which it would quit promoting fight cards. The UFC is likely to absorb the contracts of all Affliction fighters except Emelianenko.

Emelianenko’s contractual status is not known, though UFC president Dana White said Friday he is trying to negotiate a deal with the Russian.

Multiple sources had indicated to Yahoo! Sports that Affliction was on the verge of a deal with Strikeforce for some sort of merger, but that fell apart in the last 24-48 hours. That’s when talks began anew between White and Affliction. They had spoken earlier in July about such a scenario, but were unable to come to a deal.
22993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 25, 2009, 02:02:18 AM
As best as I can tell IMHO the Blue Dogs and the Reps are playing what was once said of Republican Sen. Bob Dole-- "tax collector for the welfare state".

In this case, they are trying to eliminate the worst stupidities but the cost is that they too become tied to this process-- AND they "improve" it for His Glibness.  The acede to the continuing trend to statism.

I would much rather they take up the ideological battle for free market orientation. 
22994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 24, 2009, 05:53:49 PM
Also part the mix I think is that inside he feels the insecurity of the oreo.
22995  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Happy Birthday Guro Dan Inosanto on: July 24, 2009, 05:13:28 PM
Love, Honor, and Respect.  Always.
22996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BP Agent Robert Rosas on: July 24, 2009, 02:15:22 PM
Acting Commissioner’s Message: Death of BPA Robert Rosas

It is with great sadness that Chief Aguilar and I share with you the tragic news of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas. Agent Rosas, age 30, entered on duty with the U.S. Border Patrol on May 22, 2006, and was assigned to the Campo Station in the San Diego Sector.

On July 23, 2009, Agent Rosas was shot and killed by unidentified assailants near Campo, California, after responding to suspicious activity in an area notorious for alien and drug smuggling.

Early reports indicate that Agent Rosas exited his vehicle approximately 18 miles east of the Tecate Port of Entry, near the Shockey Truck Trail, a short distance from the border. Agents working nearby heard gun shots and tried to contact Agent Rosas. When he did not respond, his fellow Agents rushed to the area to locate him, and found his body on the ground near his vehicle.

At this time, it is unknown where the shots originated or the whereabouts of the assailants. An international effort involving the FBI, ICE, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office, the Government of Mexico, and other partners is underway to locate and bring to justice the perpetrators of this atrocious act.

Agent Rosas is survived by his wife, Rosalie; a son, Robert, age 2; a daughter, Kayla Alisa, 11 months; and other family members.

The wearing of mourning bands is authorized and all CBP flags should be flown at half-staff from now until interment. Funeral arrangements are pending and will be relayed once confirmed.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rosas family and all the friends and colleagues Agent Rosas leaves behind.

Jayson P. Ahern
Acting Commissioner
22997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT editorial on Antibiotics fed to animals on: July 24, 2009, 10:03:57 AM
Even though this is the NYT, it makes sense to me.
====================================

Farms and Antibiotics Sign in to Recommend
          Published: July 23, 2009

The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 percent of the antibiotics used in this country are fed to farm animals. These animals do not receive these drugs the way humans do — as discrete short-term doses. Agricultural antibiotics are a regular feed supplement intended to increase growth and lessen the chance of infection in crowded, industrial farms.

These practices are putting both humans and animals increasingly at risk. In an environment where antibiotics are omnipresent, as they are in industrial agriculture, antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases quickly develop, reducing the effectiveness of common drugs like penicillin and tetracycline.

Despite that danger, the Food and Drug Administration had been reluctant to restrict routine agricultural use of antibiotics. The F.D.A.’s principal deputy commissioner, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, signaled a welcome change in direction recently, testifying on behalf of a new bill, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. It would allow veterinarians to prescribe antibiotics to treat individual animals or prevent disease, but it would sharply restrict the routine feeding of antibiotics to farm animals — the practice most closely associated with the development of drug-resistant pathogens.

The legislation is drawing strong opposition from the farm lobby since the restrictions would make it much harder for industrial farms to crowd thousands of animals together in confined, inhumane and unhealthy quarters. But the current practice is dangerously self-defeating: treating more and more animals with less and less effective drugs and in turn creating resistant strains of disease that persist in the soil and water. Congress should stop this now before an entire class of drugs becomes useless.
22998  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / OTC supplements said to contain steroids on: July 24, 2009, 10:00:35 AM
y MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and NATASHA SINGER
Published: July 23, 2009
Two over-the-counter dietary supplements that anti-doping officials say are popular among high school football players contain steroids, according to court papers filed by federal authorities on Thursday.

The supplements, Tren Xtreme and Mass Xtreme, are manufactured by American Cellular Labs and marketed as a “potent legal alternative to” steroids. But authorities alleged in search warrants executed on Thursday that the supplements contain illegal man-made steroids, also known as designer steroids. One of the substances is Madol, which was first identified six years ago during the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative.

The authorities said that Max Muscle, a walk-in supplement store with about 100 locations nation-wide, paid American Cellular Labs to be the exclusive retailer of these products, which could also be purchased on the Internet.

Maurice Sandoval, identified in the court documents as American Cellular’s chief executive, said in a telephone interview that he never personally sold steroids but declined to comment on whether the company had sold steroids. He said he sold the company last year but that a paperwork error kept his name on the company.

Someone who answered the phone Thursday at Max Muscle’s corporate office in Anaheim, Calif., said no one was available to comment on how many Max Muscle stores carried the American Cellular products. “This is not our product,” said the man, who would not give his name and hung up.

On Thursday, the Web site of a Max Muscle outlet in Des Moines was offering a promotion of Tren Xtreme for free, but a salesman who answered the phone there said the store no longer sold the brand.

Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said the substance helped athletes quickly gain muscle mass and strength.

“This is the supplement of choice for high school football players, and we have heard that from more than one source,” Tygart said. “It’s one of the more popular dietary supplements for these athletes because it works.”

Tygart declined to estimate how many high school athletes had used the product.

The investigation into American Cellular Labs is led by Jeff Novitzky, an agent for the Food and Drug Administration, and prosecutors from the United States attorney’s office for the Northern District of California. Since 2002, Novitzky has become the face of the government’s investigations into the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.

The F.D.A. did not return calls seeking comment on the investigation.

The search warrants were executed at a Muscle Max store in the Castro section of San Francisco and at Sandoval’s residence in Pacifica, Calif. Another search warrant was executed on the office of WVM Global Incorporated, in Lake Forest, Calif., which authorities believe is an associated business to American Cellular.

The F.D.A. has jurisdiction over dietary supplements, defined as products that can offer general health benefits but cannot claim to treat specific diseases or symptoms.

Manufacturers of dietary supplements are responsible for ensuring and documenting the safety and efficacy claims of their products. According to the law governing dietary supplements, the F.D.A. is empowered to act only in cases when it identifies a harmful or adulterated product that is already on sale.

But if federal authorities find a supplement to contain an undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredient like a steroid, the agency considers the product to be an illegal, unapproved drug.

Illegal steroids are of particular concern in preteen and teenage boys, doctors said, because artificially high levels of testosterone can stop their bones from growing.

Steroids are organic compounds, like hormones, naturally produced by the body. They are also used as legal drugs to treat conditions like testosterone deficiency. Athletes have also used illegal forms of steroids for performance enhancement.

Investigators grew concerned over sports products made by American Cellular Labs after the F.D.A. received reports of severe liver and kidney problems in people who had used the two products, according to court documents.

In one case, a liver transplant doctor reported that a 38-year-old male patient who had used these products was later hospitalized with severe liver dysfunction and acute kidney failure which needed to be treated with dialysis, the documents said.

Legal steroid drugs come with health risks. But unknowingly taking supplements that contain illegal compounded steroids is even riskier because such drugs entail unknown risks, said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an instructor at the Harvard Medical School who is studying the dangers of adulterated dietary supplements.

For example, when doctors prescribe testosterone for men who have a testosterone deficiency, physicians monitor the patients closely because such steroids can lead to higher-than-normal hormone levels, potentially putting patients at risk for prostate cancer.

But taking designer steroids in a sports supplement is even more dangerous for people, he said, because these compounds have not been studied for safety.

“It’s placing the consumer at very serious risk of harm because there is absolutely no research showing that this new compound is safe in humans,” said Cohen, a general internist at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a network of public hospitals in Massachusetts. “We do have evidence that, in the past, analogs of pharmaceutical compounds have led to unexpected life-threatening disease such as liver failure that required transplantation.”
22999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Elections in Afg. on: July 24, 2009, 09:53:34 AM
HERAT, Afghanistan — When Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the main election challenger to President Hamid Karzai, arrived here to campaign last weekend, thousands of supporters choked the six-mile drive from the airport. Cars were plastered with his posters. Motorbikes flew blue banners. Young men wearing T-shirts emblazoned with his face leapt aboard his car to embrace him to ecstatic cheers.


Top, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the main challenger to President Hamid Karzai, arriving in Herat last Friday to campaign. Thousands turned out to greet him, in a sign of his growing support.

 
A presidential rival has support in Herat and in the north.

With only a month to go, Dr. Abdullah has started his campaign late, but in its first two weeks he has canvassed six provinces and drawn growing support and larger crowds than expected. Rapturous welcomes like this one have suddenly elevated him to the status of potential future president.

“I have no doubt that people want change,” Dr. Abdullah said in an interview after a tumultuous day campaigning in Herat, in western Afghanistan, adding that his momentum was just building. “Today they are hopeful that change can come.”

Mr. Karzai is still widely considered the front-runner in the campaign for the Aug. 20 presidential election. But Dr. Abdullah, who has the backing of the largest opposition group, the National Front, is the one candidate among the field of 41 who has a chance of forcing Mr. Karzai into a runoff, a contest between the top two vote-getters if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes in the first balloting.

Already well known among most Afghans, Dr. Abdullah, 48, an ophthalmologist, has a background that includes years of resistance to Soviet and Taliban rule as well as a crucial role in the formation of the new democratic government after the American intervention.

A dapper dresser, wearing traditional Afghan clothes under a variety of Western tailored jackets, he combines solidarity with the former resistance fighters with the moderation of the Afghan intellectual, giving him potentially broad appeal.

After serving as foreign minister in Mr. Karzai’s government for five years, he left in 2006 and has since become a strong critic of the president’s leadership. He refused an offer to become Mr. Karzai’s running mate, and he contends that the president practices a policy of divide and rule that has polarized the country.

Today, Dr. Abdullah, with a diplomat and a surgeon as his running mates, is seen as part of a younger generation of Afghans keen to move away from the nation’s reliance on warlords and older mujahedeen leaders and to clean up and recast the practice of governing.

To do that, he advocates the devolution of power from the strong presidency built up under Mr. Karzai to a parliamentary system that he says will be more representative. He is also calling for a system of electing officials for Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and nearly 400 districts as a way to build support for the government.

Those provincial governors are now appointed from Kabul, and many have been criticized for cronyism and corruption. Influential Shiite clerics here in Herat, who supported Mr. Karzai in the last election in 2004, are now so fed up with corrupt appointees that they have said they will back Dr. Abdullah this time.

Re-engaging the people is essential to reverse the lawlessness and insecurity that have reached a critical point in much of the country, Dr. Abdullah said. “They have managed to lose the people,” he said of the current government. “In fighting an insurgency, you lose the people and you lose the war.”

Before several thousand people in Herat’s sports stadium, he raised the biggest cheer with his promise to build up Afghan institutions so that foreign troops could go home soon.

He also promised to curb the rampant corruption and review foreign assistance programs to ensure that they focused on grass-roots development and addressed poverty and unemployment. In his public meetings, he emphasized support for the rights of women, the unemployed, the disabled and the victims of war.

He said he would work seriously toward reconciliation with the Taliban, calling the current process a “joke.” Yet in an interview he retained his longtime opposition to the Taliban leadership and said he doubted that the Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, was ready to negotiate for peace.

This is only the second national presidential election in Afghanistan’s history, and political analysts warn that it is virtually impossible to predict how the election will go or to read voters’ intentions. Diplomats calculating the numbers of the various factions that have come out in support of Mr. Karzai say that he will just scrape back in, thanks largely to the support from the largest ethnic group, his fellow Pashtuns.

Yet two opinion polls conducted this year suggested that Mr. Karzai had lost considerable support since his 2004 victory with 55 percent of the vote. One of those polls, conducted in May by the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit pro-democracy group, showed that Mr. Karzai’s support was down to 31 percent. While only 7 percent said they would vote for Dr. Abdullah, the poll indicated that the election would have to go to a second round.

People interviewed in Herat also spoke of a shift in the public mood. “Karzai has governed for eight years and all the problems have increased, not decreased,” said Hosseini, 47, a farmer who uses one name and who traveled to the city to hear Dr. Abdullah speak.

Although Dr. Abdullah has significant support in the north and the large population centers, he will have difficulty campaigning in the south, where the insurgency makes movement virtually impossible.

And although he may tap into the desire for change after nearly eight years of Mr. Karzai’s rule, supporters and analysts say Mr. Karzai will still dominate in his Pashtun homeland in Kandahar, in the south.

Dr. Abdullah also claims heritage from Kandahar through his father, Ghulam Muhayuddine Khan, a Pashtun who was a senator in the 1970s. Yet he is far better known for his connection to the northern Panjshir Valley, through his mother and his close relationship with the famous resistance commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, who fought both the Russian occupation and the Taliban.

Dr. Abdullah dismissed suggestions that he could not raise support in the Pashtun south and said that support for Mr. Karzai in the area had dropped drastically as security had worsened and more people had joined the insurgency. “Southern Afghanistan has nearly announced jihad against Karzai,” he said.
23000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: July 24, 2009, 08:34:07 AM
Greetings,

Am back in the thick of it.  The area of Sangin, in Helmand Province, is very dangerous.  British officers say there are more IEDs here than anywhere else in Afghanistan.  Many casualties from this immediate vicinity.  One soldier that I talked with today got knocked down two days ago by an IED.  I have to shout while talking with him.  He can hardly hear a thing.  He's been blasted four times: twice in Iraq, and that was his second time here.  Will be walking back into combat with him.

Am with an excellent British unit that I was with in Basra, Iraq.  Anticipate immediate combat.  Resupply helicopter was shot down here in last week or so, just near the perimeter.  Soldiers here saw the helicopter crash and burn, killing all aboard.  My helicopter flight made it in with no problems, but this remains a potentially hot LZ.

Meanwhile, please see the final photo-dispatch from Ghor Province.

Your support is crucial.

--
Very Respectfully,

Michael Yon
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