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22951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Preaching to the choir around here on: November 20, 2010, 04:00:22 PM
Government Strangles High-Tech Growth
Published on August 28, 2010 by Ernest Istook

The CEO of Intel has joined the ranks of those labeling big government as
the cause of our economic slump, not the solution.
Paul Otellini says it already costs Intel an extra billion dollars to build
a microchip plant in the U.S., rather than overseas. In his illustration,
it's an extra 25% to create a $4 billion facility.
He told this to an Aspen gathering of the Technology Policy Institute,
adding that government is killing America's leadership for jobs of tomorrow.
Otellini said, "We seemed a generation ahead of the rest of the world in
information technology. That simply is no longer the case."
While promoting education, research, favorable trade policies, and broadband
expansion, he made it clear that tax policies are key--policies that are the
opposite of what Congress and the Obama Administration are promoting:
As CNET reported on his speech, "Take factories. 'I can tell you
definitively that it costs costs1 billion more per factory for me to build,
equip, and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United
States,' Otellini said. The rub: Ninety percent of that additional cost of a
$4 billion factory is not labor but the cost to comply with taxes and
regulations that other nations don't impose."
How do we get companies to expand in America rather than overseas? The Intel
CEO explained, "Adjust the U.S. corporate tax rate to a rate that is
competitive world-wide. At Intel, we generate 75% of our revenue and much of
our profit abroad. The U.S. tax treatment of that income makes it extremely
expensive to repatriate that profit and invest here. If our tax rate
approached the rest of the world, corporations would have a natural
incentive to invest here given many of the natural advantages that exist in
this country."
He suggested lowering the rate to 25%. That reduction echoes a Heritage
Foundation proposal in its "Solutions for America," which recommends, "The
U.S. corporate tax rate should be set at or below the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development average of 26% to eliminate the
incentive to move businesses and jobs overseas."
Otellini also stressed the need not to penalize companies when they
repatriate their foreign earnings and bring them back to the U.S. He's
joined by many others in the high-tech community who warn that what some
call "closing tax loopholes" actually hurts the ability to create jobs in
America. Sybase CEO John Chen has written, "President Barack Obama has
proposed to raise taxes on the international operations of U.S. businesses.
There is one thing the proposal can effectively achieve: make the United
States an even less friendly place to do business, and thus delay the
economic recovery. . . . Although intended to keep investments and jobs from
leaving our country, in the long run the measures in the proposal will drive
investments away, and kill jobs in the U.S."
The high-tech sector's complaints are part of a growing chorus from job
creators who describe how Washington is smothering economic growth.
The Business Roundtable sent a 50-page letter to the White House describing
how Obama's agenda is stifling growth and killing jobs. A GOP letter
complained of 191 intended rules and regulations that EACH would impose
$100-million or more of growth-killing cost burdens on businesses.
Worried about what their own government is doing to them, businesses
continue to sit on a $1.8-trillion cash stockpile, holding it back for the
extra costs they face from more taxes and more regulation.
The White House happy talk of a "Recovery Summer" grates like nails on a
blackboard. That rhetoric collapses with news that second quarter growth was
at a 1.6% annual rate--less than half the first quarter rate and well below
original White House numbers.
To put America back to work, it's time to heed those who create jobs, rather
than politicians who create more government. Intel and others should not
face a $1-billion hurdle to expanding in the USA instead of overseas.
Former Congressman Ernest Istook is a distinguished fellow at The Heritage
Foundation.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Commentary/2010/08/Government-Strangles-High-Tech-Growth


22952  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bruises on: November 20, 2010, 03:55:41 PM
Linda "Bitch" Matsumi recommends these:

http://www.traumeel.com/

http://www.alcis.com/

http://www.sombrausa.com/
22953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Don't mess with Texas on: November 20, 2010, 03:44:18 PM

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/11/18/americas-war-texas-mounts-counterinsurgency-effort/#ixzz15eiV26Yv
22954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-11 on: November 20, 2010, 03:36:30 PM
OMII is back home in the USA.  Welcome home! cool
22955  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Flying Car on: November 20, 2010, 01:28:07 PM
I've been in a few traffic jams where this would have been handy , , ,

http://www.eaavideo.org/video.aspx?v=635469588001
22956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 19, 2010, 06:27:28 PM
Glenn Beck says that former DHS head Chertkoff (sp?) is a lobbyist for the company that makes the scanners (Rapiscan) and that George Soros until 3 days ago had 11,000 shares.

Also, that Europe uses dogs just fine to solve the same challenges.
22957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Allman Bros: Whipping Post with very good quality video on: November 19, 2010, 06:25:08 PM
http://www.wolfgangsvault.com/?utm_source=NL&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=101119#interumVideoPlayer
22958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / And so it goes , , , on: November 19, 2010, 10:41:46 AM


Around the Nation: Latinos Now Majority in CA Schools
Thanks to an immigration influx and a higher Latino birth rate, the state of California announced last week that Latinos are now an absolute majority among California public school students. That news was greeted by advice for Latino parents by UC-Berkeley professor of education and public policy Bruce Fuller: Their influence will only grow as they realize the schools they attend are underfunded. Leave it to a UC-Berkeley professor to forget, conveniently, that California schools just received an extra infusion of $1.2 billion from the federal government prior to the start of the school year. It's also worth pointing out that only around 60 percent of those Latino parents are currently able to vote, since many are here illegally with their children now attending public schools.

Add in the fact that illegal immigrant children are able to attend California's public university system for just the cost of in-state tuition, and it's small wonder that outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who promised to terminate the $15 billion deficit he was handed in 2004, is leaving behind a budget hole that's grown to more than $25 billion. Of course, it could also have something to do with this list of California agencies sucking the state dry.

Given the state's fiscal disaster and high unemployment, perhaps the main reason Latinos are now the majority in the state's schools is that 5,000 legal American citizens are fleeing the state each week. It's a trend that shows few signs of abating.

22959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta on: November 19, 2010, 10:40:03 AM
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta
In a ceremony at the White House Tuesday, United States Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta became the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the account of Giunta's actions, click here.

Of Giunta, Wall Street Journal columnist and former Bush speechwriter William McGurn wrote, "When we think of military heroism, we may think of Rambos decorated for great damage inflicted on the enemy. In fact, the opposite is true. Every Medal of Honor from these wars has been for an effort to save life. Even more telling, each specifically recognizes bravery that cannot be commanded."

"On that ridge in Afghanistan, Salvatore Giunta could not save his sergeant," McGurn continued. "But he did deprive the enemy of its victory -- and death of some of its sting. ... [A] fellow soldier (who earned a Silver Star in the same firefight) put it this way. 'The last thing [Sgt. Josh] Brennan ever saw was us,' says Sgt. Erick Gallardo. 'You know, he saw us fighting for him. ... We fought for him and he's home with his family now because of that.' It's a soldier's gift. Because of Sgt. Giunta, the family of Josh Brennan know that when their loved one breathed his last, he did so knowing he was among friends willing to put their own lives at risk for him." A fine gift, indeed. Thank you, Staff Sgt. Giunta, for your service to our great country.

22960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WTH, it was only 18 minutes , , , on: November 19, 2010, 10:33:45 AM
Politics
Internet Traffic from U.S. Government Websites Was Redirected Via Chinese Servers

By Joshua Rhett Miller

Published November 16, 2010

When 15 percent of the world's Internet traffic -- including the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates office, the Senate and several U.S. government agencies — was redirected last April onto computer routers in China, it also may have left the sites vulnerable to surveillance — or worse.

Nearly 15 percent of the world's Internet traffic -- including data from the Pentagon, the office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other U.S. government websites -- was briefly redirected through computer networks in China last April, according to a congressional commission report obtained by FoxNews.com.

It was not immediately clear whether the incident was deliberate, but the April 18 redirection could have enabled malicious activities and potentially caused an unintended "diversion of data" from many U.S. government, military and commercial websites, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states in a 316-page report to Congress.

A draft copy of the report was obtained on Tuesday by FoxNews.com. The final 2010 annual report to Congress will be released during a press conference in Washington on Wednesday.

According to the draft report, a state-owned Chinese telecommunications firm, China Telecom, "hijacked" massive volumes of Internet traffic during the 18-minute incident. It affected traffic to and from .gov and .mil websites in the United States, as well as websites for the Senate, all four military services, the office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and "many others," including websites for firms like Dell, Yahoo, IBM and Microsoft.

"Although the Commission has no way to determine what, if anything, Chinese telecommunications firms did to the hijacked data, incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications," the report reads. "This level of access could enable surveillance of specific users or sites."

Citing a separate cyberattack against Google's operations in China earlier this year, the report notes China's history of "malicious computer activities" that "raise questions about whether China might seek intentionally to leverage these abilities to assert some level of control over the Internet, even for a brief period."

The report continues, "Any attempt to do this would likely be counter to the interests of the United States and other countries. At the very least, these incidents demonstrate the inherent vulnerabilities in the Internet's architecture that can affect all Internet users and beneficiaries at home and abroad."

Chris Smoak, a research scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, said, whether intentional or accidental, incidents like the one on April 18 occur "two or three times a year" as large amounts of data are routed through multiple nations. He declined to indicate whether he believes the incident was deliberate.

"There's no way to really say," Smoak said. "Due to the short duration, it's very difficult to say."

Smoak said security vulnerabilities pertaining to Internet routing processes is one of the more "unfortunate aspects" of the digital age.

"They weren't designed with security in mind, they were designed with performance in mind and the end result," he said referring to the routing system. "We're very susceptible in that anyone could do this at any time."

The report details how the Internet routing process is susceptible to manipulation and lists how the exchange of data between networking equipment typically relies on "trust-based" transactions.

The report reads: "If a computer user in California, for example, seeks to visit a website hosted in Texas, the data would likely make several 'hops' (that is, transit multiple servers) along the way," the report reads. "Data are supposed to travel along the most efficient route. However, Internet infrastructure does not necessarily correlate to the geographical world in a predictable way, so it would be unusual for data to transit a server physically located in Georgia, or some other somewhat removed location."

The process, however, could be subject to manipulation if networking equipment in a remote location, such as China, advertised a route claiming to be the most efficient data path. Effectively, Smoak said, the servers will try to get the information to its destination by the fastest means possible, but the data could conceivably be censored or changed altogether.

"It's an unfortunate aspect of the technology we use today," Smoak said. "It's all based on trust."

Sam Masiello, director of threat management at McAfee, said the security breach could have been potentially "very damaging" given the large amounts of data transferred across the Internet every second.

"It could potentially be very damaging, the reason being you don't know what traffic was being routed to those servers at the time," Masiello told FoxNews.com. "But if you're the criminal, how do you identify [sensitive information]? It's like trying to find a very small needle in a very, very large haystack."

Masiello said he did not find any evidence leading him to believe that the incident was intentional, but noted increasing number of cyberattacks emanating from China.

"We've certainly seen a lot of Internet crime coming out of China and a lot of criminals that are based out of China, but as far as an actual link back to China Telecom, it's very difficult to say," Masiello said. "Who's to say criminals did not get into China Telecom? But the fact of the matter remains, we've seen a lot of cybercrime emanating out of China in the past year."

Regardless of the intention behind the breach, Masiello concluded: "This type of attack shows there is a vulnerability in the Internet system, even if someone if able to hijack it for a very short period of time."


22961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NY Times: This is your brain on metaphors on: November 19, 2010, 10:02:17 AM
Despite rumors to the contrary, there are many ways in which the human brain isn’t all that fancy. Let’s compare it to the nervous system of a fruit fly. Both are made up of cells, of course, with neurons playing particularly important roles. Now one might expect that a neuron from a human will differ dramatically from one from a fly. Maybe the human’s will have especially ornate ways of communicating with other neurons, making use of unique “neurotransmitter” messengers. Maybe compared to the lowly fly neuron, human neurons are bigger, more complex, in some way can run faster and jump higher.

We study hard to get admitted to a top college to get a good job to get into the nursing home of our choice. Gophers don’t do that.
.But no. Look at neurons from the two species under a microscope and they look the same. They have the same electrical properties, many of the same neurotransmitters, the same protein channels that allow ions to flow in and out, as well as a remarkably high number of genes in common. Neurons are the same basic building blocks in both species.

So where’s the difference? It’s numbers — humans have roughly one million neurons for each one in a fly. And out of a human’s 100 billion neurons emerge some pretty remarkable things. With enough quantity, you generate quality.


Erin Schell
 Neuroscientists understand the structural bases of some of these qualities. Take language, that uniquely human behavior. Underlining it are structures unique to the human brain — regions like “Broca’s area,” which specializes in language production. Then there’s the brain’s “extrapyramidal system,” which is involved in fine motor control. The complexity of the human version allows us to do something that, say, a polar bear, could never accomplish — sufficiently independent movement of digits to play a trill on the piano, for instance. Particularly striking is the human frontal cortex. While occurring in all mammals, the human version is proportionately bigger and denser in its wiring. And what is the frontal cortex good for? Emotional regulation, gratification postponement, executive decision-making, long-term planning. We study hard in high school to get admitted to a top college to get into grad school to get a good job to get into the nursing home of our choice. Gophers don’t do that.

There’s another domain of unique human skills, and neuroscientists are learning a bit about how the brain pulls it off.

Consider the following from J. Ruth Gendler’s wonderful “The Book of Qualities,” a collection of “character sketches” of different qualities, emotions and attributes:

Anxiety is secretive. He does not trust anyone, not even his friends, Worry, Terror, Doubt and Panic … He likes to visit me late at night when I am alone and exhausted. I have never slept with him, but he kissed me on the forehead once, and I had a headache for two years …

Or:

Compassion speaks with a slight accent. She was a vulnerable child, miserable in school, cold, shy … In ninth grade she was befriended by Courage. Courage lent Compassion bright sweaters, explained the slang, showed her how to play volleyball.

What is Gendler going on about? We know, and feel pleasure triggered by her unlikely juxtapositions. Despair has stopped listening to music. Anger sharpens kitchen knives at the local supermarket. Beauty wears a gold shawl and sells seven kinds of honey at the flea market. Longing studies archeology.

Symbols, metaphors, analogies, parables, synecdoche, figures of speech: we understand them. We understand that a captain wants more than just hands when he orders all of them on deck. We understand that Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” isn’t really about a cockroach. If we are of a certain theological ilk, we see bread and wine intertwined with body and blood. We grasp that the right piece of cloth can represent a nation and its values, and that setting fire to such a flag is a highly charged act. We can learn that a certain combination of sounds put together by Tchaikovsky represents Napoleon getting his butt kicked just outside Moscow. And that the name “Napoleon,” in this case, represents thousands and thousands of soldiers dying cold and hungry, far from home.

And we even understand that June isn’t literally busting out all over. It would seem that doing this would be hard enough to cause a brainstorm. So where did this facility with symbolism come from? It strikes me that the human brain has evolved a necessary shortcut for doing so, and with some major implications.

A single part of the brain processes both physical and psychic pain.
.Consider an animal (including a human) that has started eating some rotten, fetid, disgusting food. As a result, neurons in an area of the brain called the insula will activate. Gustatory disgust. Smell the same awful food, and the insula activates as well. Think about what might count as a disgusting food (say, taking a bite out of a struggling cockroach). Same thing.

Now read in the newspaper about a saintly old widow who had her home foreclosed by a sleazy mortgage company, her medical insurance canceled on flimsy grounds, and got a lousy, exploitative offer at the pawn shop where she tried to hock her kidney dialysis machine. You sit there thinking, those bastards, those people are scum, they’re worse than maggots, they make me want to puke … and your insula activates. Think about something shameful and rotten that you once did … same thing. Not only does the insula “do” sensory disgust; it does moral disgust as well. Because the two are so viscerally similar. When we evolved the capacity to be disgusted by moral failures, we didn’t evolve a new brain region to handle it. Instead, the insula expanded its portfolio.

Or consider pain. Somebody pokes your big left toe with a pin. Spinal reflexes cause you to instantly jerk your foot back just as they would in, say, a frog. Evolutionarily ancient regions activate in the brain as well, telling you about things like the intensity of the pain, or whether it’s a sharp localized pain or a diffuse burning one. But then there’s a fancier, more recently evolved brain region in the frontal cortex called the anterior cingulate that’s involved in the subjective, evaluative response to the pain. A piranha has just bitten you? That’s a disaster. The shoes you bought are a size too small? Well, not as much of a disaster.

Now instead, watch your beloved being poked with the pin. And your anterior cingulate will activate, as if it were you in pain. There’s a neurotransmitter called Substance P that is involved in the nuts and bolts circuitry of pain perception. Administer a drug that blocks the actions of Substance P to people who are clinically depressed, and they often feel better, feel less of the world’s agonies. When humans evolved the ability to be wrenched with feeling the pain of others, where was it going to process it? It got crammed into the anterior cingulate. And thus it “does” both physical and psychic pain.

Another truly interesting domain in which the brain confuses the literal and metaphorical is cleanliness. In a remarkable study, Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto and Katie Liljenquist of Northwestern University demonstrated how the brain has trouble distinguishing between being a dirty scoundrel and being in need of a bath. Volunteers were asked to recall either a moral or immoral act in their past. Afterward, as a token of appreciation, Zhong and Liljenquist offered the volunteers a choice between the gift of a pencil or of a package of antiseptic wipes. And the folks who had just wallowed in their ethical failures were more likely to go for the wipes. In the next study, volunteers were told to recall an immoral act of theirs. Afterward, subjects either did or did not have the opportunity to clean their hands. Those who were able to wash were less likely to respond to a request for help (that the experimenters had set up) that came shortly afterward. Apparently, Lady Macbeth and Pontius Pilate weren’t the only ones to metaphorically absolve their sins by washing their hands.

This potential to manipulate behavior by exploiting the brain’s literal-metaphorical confusions about hygiene and health is also shown in a study by Mark Landau and Daniel Sullivan of the University of Kansas and Jeff Greenberg of the University of Arizona. Subjects either did or didn’t read an article about the health risks of airborne bacteria. All then read a history article that used imagery of a nation as a living organism with statements like, “Following the Civil War, the United States underwent a growth spurt.” Those who read about scary bacteria before thinking about the U.S. as an organism were then more likely to express negative views about immigration.

Another example of how the brain links the literal and the metaphorical comes from a study by Lawrence Williams of the University of Colorado and John Bargh of Yale. Volunteers would meet one of the experimenters, believing that they would be starting the experiment shortly. In reality, the experiment began when the experimenter, seemingly struggling with an armful of folders, asks the volunteer to briefly hold their coffee. As the key experimental manipulation, the coffee was either hot or iced. Subjects then read a description of some individual, and those who had held the warmer cup tended to rate the individual as having a warmer personality, with no change in ratings of other attributes.

Another brilliant study by Bargh and colleagues concerned haptic sensations (I had to look the word up — haptic: related to the sense of touch). Volunteers were asked to evaluate the resumes of supposed job applicants where, as the critical variable, the resume was attached to a clipboard of one of two different weights. Subjects who evaluated the candidate while holding the heavier clipboard tended to judge candidates to be more serious, with the weight of the clipboard having no effect on how congenial the applicant was judged. After all, we say things like “weighty matter” or “gravity of a situation.”

What are we to make of the brain processing literal and metaphorical versions of a concept in the same brain region? Or that our neural circuitry doesn’t cleanly differentiate between the real and the symbolic? What are the consequences of the fact that evolution is a tinkerer and not an inventor, and has duct-taped metaphors and symbols to whichever pre-existing brain areas provided the closest fit?

Jonathan Haidt, of the University of Virginia, has shown how viscera and emotion often drive our decisionmaking, with conscious cognition mopping up afterward, trying to come up with rationalizations for that gut decision. The viscera that can influence moral decisionmaking and the brain’s confusion about the literalness of symbols can have enormous consequences. Part of the emotional contagion of the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda arose from the fact that when militant Hutu propagandists called for the eradication of the Tutsi, they iconically referred to them as “cockroaches.” Get someone to the point where his insula activates at the mention of an entire people, and he’s primed to join the bloodletting.

Related
More From The Stone
Read previous contributions to this series.
.But if the brain confusing reality and literalness with metaphor and symbol can have adverse consequences, the opposite can occur as well. At one juncture just before the birth of a free South Africa, Nelson Mandela entered secret negotiations with an Afrikaans general with death squad blood all over his hands, a man critical to the peace process because he led a large, well-armed Afrikaans resistance group. They met in Mandela’s house, the general anticipating tense negotiations across a conference table. Instead, Mandela led him to the warm, homey living room, sat beside him on a comfy couch, and spoke to him in Afrikaans. And the resistance melted away.

This neural confusion about the literal versus the metaphorical gives symbols enormous power, including the power to make peace. The political scientist and game theorist Robert Axelrod of the University of Michigan has emphasized this point in thinking about conflict resolution. For example, in a world of sheer rationality where the brain didn’t confuse reality with symbols, bringing peace to Israel and Palestine would revolve around things like water rights, placement of borders, and the extent of militarization allowed to Palestinian police. Instead, argues Axelrod, “mutual symbolic concessions” of no material benefit will ultimately make all the difference. He quotes a Hamas leader who says that for the process of peace to go forward, Israel must apologize for the forced Palestinians exile in 1948. And he quotes a senior Israeli official saying that for progress to be made, Palestinians need to first acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and to get their anti-Semitic garbage out of their textbooks.

Hope for true peace in the Middle East didn’t come with the news of a trade agreement being signed. It was when President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan attended the funeral of the murdered Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. That same hope came to the Northern Irish, not when ex-Unionist demagogues and ex-I.R.A. gunmen served in a government together, but when those officials publicly commiserated about each other’s family misfortunes, or exchanged anniversary gifts. And famously, for South Africans, it came not with successful negotiations about land reapportionment, but when black South Africa embraced rugby and Afrikaans rugby jocks sang the A.N.C. national anthem.

Nelson Mandela was wrong when he advised, “Don’t talk to their minds; talk to their hearts.” He meant talk to their insulas and cingulate cortices and all those other confused brain regions, because that confusion could help make for a better world.

(Robert Sapolsky’s essay is the subject of this week’s forum discussion among the humanists and scientists at On the Human, a project of the National Humanities Center.)



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
22962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Stuxnet update on: November 19, 2010, 09:54:39 AM
Tangent:  I wonder if the Chinese can do stuff like this to us?
=============


Worm Was Perfect for Sabotaging Centrifuges
By WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: November 18, 2010
 
Experts dissecting the computer worm suspected of being aimed at Iran’s nuclear program have determined that it was precisely calibrated in a way that could send nuclear centrifuges wildly out of control.

Their conclusion, while not definitive, begins to clear some of the fog around the Stuxnet worm, a malicious program detected earlier this year on computers, primarily in Iran but also India, Indonesia and other countries.

The paternity of the worm is still in dispute, but in recent weeks officials from Israel have broken into wide smiles when asked whether Israel was behind the attack, or knew who was. American officials have suggested it originated abroad.

The new forensic work narrows the range of targets and deciphers the worm’s plan of attack. Computer analysts say Stuxnet does its damage by making quick changes in the rotational speed of motors, shifting them rapidly up and down.

Changing the speed “sabotages the normal operation of the industrial control process,” Eric Chien, a researcher at the computer security company Symantec, wrote in a blog post.

Those fluctuations, nuclear analysts said in response to the report, are a recipe for disaster among the thousands of centrifuges spinning in Iran to enrich uranium, which can fuel reactors or bombs. Rapid changes can cause them to blow apart. Reports issued by international inspectors reveal that Iran has experienced many problems keeping its centrifuges running, with hundreds removed from active service since summer 2009.

“We don’t see direct confirmation” that the attack was meant to slow Iran’s nuclear work, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said in an interview Thursday. “But it sure is a plausible interpretation of the available facts.”

Intelligence officials have said they believe that a series of covert programs are responsible for at least some of that decline. So when Iran reported earlier this year that it was battling the Stuxnet worm, many experts immediately suspected that it was a state-sponsored cyberattack.

Until last week, analysts had said only that Stuxnet was designed to infect certain kinds of Siemens equipment used in a wide variety of industrial sites around the world.

But a study released Friday by Mr. Chien, Nicolas Falliere and Liam O. Murchu at Symantec, concluded that the program’s real target was to take over frequency converters, a type of power supply that changes its output frequency to control the speed of a motor.

The worm’s code was found to attack converters made by two companies, Fararo Paya in Iran and Vacon in Finland. A separate study conducted by the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that finding, a senior government official said in an interview on Thursday.

Then, on Wednesday, Mr. Albright and a colleague, Andrea Stricker, released a report saying that when the worm ramped up the frequency of the electrical current supplying the centrifuges, they would spin faster and faster. The worm eventually makes the current hit 1,410 Hertz, or cycles per second — just enough, they reported, to send the centrifuges flying apart.

In a spooky flourish, Mr. Albright said in the interview, the worm ends the attack with a command to restore the current to the perfect operating frequency for the centrifuges — which, by that time, would presumably be destroyed.

“It’s striking how close it is to the standard value,” he said.

The computer analysis, his Wednesday report concluded, “makes a legitimate case that Stuxnet could indeed disrupt or destroy” Iranian centrifuge plants.

The latest evidence does not prove Iran was the target, and there have been no confirmed reports of industrial damage linked to Stuxnet. Converters are used to control a number of different machines, including lathes, saws and turbines, and they can be found in gas pipelines and chemical plants. But converters are also essential for nuclear centrifuges.

On Wednesday, the chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity center in Virginia, Sean McGurk, told a Senate committee that the worm was a “game changer” because of the skill with which it was composed and the care with which it was geared toward attacking specific types of equipment.

Meanwhile, the search for other clues in the Stuxnet program continues — and so do the theories about its origins.
22963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Is this the BJJ school? on: November 19, 2010, 08:39:58 AM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvLOncMKDYc&feature=player_embedded
22964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ain't no sunshine , , , on: November 19, 2010, 08:02:38 AM
Dispatch: Koreas Refocusing Policy Postures
November 18, 2010 | 1938 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Following South Korea’s declaration that the Sunshine Policy has failed and North Korea threatening another nuclear test, Analyst Rodger Baker examines politics on the peninsula.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

The South Korean Unification Ministry’s latest white paper declares the Sunshine Policy a failure. The Sunshine Policy set up under former President Kim Dae Jung to encourage North Korea to change its behavior through friendly actions through economic assistance. The Unification Ministry said that this is been a failure, that the North Koreans have not changed their behavior, the North Korean population is no better off, and that it remains in effect a threat to South Korea.

As the South Koreans are reviewing their North Korean policies, the North Koreans appear to be ramping up for another nuclear test or at least making it appear that that’s what they’re doing. There are increasing reports from the region that there is activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site, and this is raising concerns that Pyongyang is going to carry out its third test.

The North Koreans have a reputation of raising the stakes before they reenter negotiations. What they will do is that they will use that to shape the discussions and shape the sense of immediacy. It brings people into the negotiations in a way where you want to deal with the immediate issue of the nuclear test, and other issues that are long-standing maybe take out second place. The North Koreans gain the benefit of going back to the status quo before they have to start stepping down from there.

As the North Koreans really try to solidify the new leadership, there is always a push for some grand and bold action to make it clear who’s in charge. When Kim Jong-Il came to power there was the Taepodong launch. With Kim Jong Un, it very well may be a nuclear test just to show that from the beginning he is strong, he is tough.

From the South perspective they’re looking at starting to take over security responsibility for the peninsula from the United States - you have changes in that dynamic with the U.S. defense relationship where really the two Koreas are our re-looking at each other. In North, you have the leadership transition underway, in the south we really moved beyond some of the past types of governments considered pro-North Korean. But also you have a new pressure building for both Koreas.

The Chinese have become much more assertive in their political behavior and even in their military behavior in the region. Japan is starting to wake up it seems - feeling threats from China, feeling threat from Russia. The United States is re-engaging in the region. And what happens when you have these large powers coming and pressing against each other in the Pacific region, very often where it all overlaps is the Korean peninsula. In southern Seoul and in Pyongyang, they’re feeling this increasing pressure, an increasing sense of concern for what historically they would’ve called the minnow between whales.

22965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NATO and other matters on: November 19, 2010, 07:55:23 AM
Senior Eurasia analyst Lauren Goodrich examines the prospects for this weekend’s crucial NATO summit in Lisbon on the alliance’s future.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Colin Chapman: NATO is at a crossroads. Friday and Saturday see the most important meeting of the organization since the end of the Cold War. The meeting to be held in the Portuguese capital Lisbon will be attended by the president of Russia for the first time. So does NATO face just a facelift or a transformation?

Welcome to Agenda. And joining me to discuss this is STRATFOR Senior Eurasia Analyst Lauren Goodrich. Lauren, the agenda looks very different at this NATO summit. It’s not going to be about Afghanistan, is it?

Lauren Goodrich: Not at all. This is the most critical NATO summit in over a decade because they’re going to be drafting the Strategic Concept Document. This Strategic Concept Document is pretty much the mission statement of NATO. It’s the third one drafted since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Strategic Concept during the Cold War, of course, was to contain the Soviets. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, the strategic concept changed to pretty much deal with the fall of the Soviet Union at first, and then shifted again in 1999 in order to expand NATO’s ability to intervene outside the Eurasian theatre. This allowed NATO to militarily intervene in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, etc… So now it’s time for the third strategic concept document to actually be drafted. This one is going to set what is NATO’s focus for the next decade. What is the threat for the next decade?

Chapman: So what is the threat in the next decade?

Goodrich: Well that’s the problem. You have 28 members now of NATO all with differing interests and different definitions of what a threat is. This is where we go into pretty much how NATO is divided into three camps.

The first camp is what I would call the Atlanticists – the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark. The Atlanticists are interested in the non-Eurasian theatre. They want NATO to focus on the threats that we’ve seen recently such as the war in Afghanistan and nontraditional threats such as terrorism.

The second camp is actually the core Europeans led by the French and Germans. They are interested in limiting NATO, a leaner NATO, having the members not be as committed and limiting their ability to commit. And also having NATO work with other organizations such as the United Nations.

The third group within NATO which is the Intermarium states. This is the more interesting group because it’s newer NATO members - mainly the ones from Central Europe. What they see as a threat is what the core and the root level NATO theat was going back to the beginning of NATO - the Soviets. And the Central Europeans want NATO to focus back on the Russians.

Chapman: It’s called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but after this is it going to emerge as something completely different?

Goodrich: Well that depends on the Strategic Concept Document that’s drafted this weekend. But how do you draft a common document when you have so many diverging interests in NATO at this moment? The Strategic Concept Document looks like it’s only going to show how divided the alliance is now.

Chapman: Let me throw that question back to you. Could this all really be resolved in just two days?

Goodrich: Well the negotiations over this concept document have been going on for quite a while now. But we are not seeing any ability for them to come together. Even in the past week we’ve seen statements out of France and the Poles, the United States, United Kingdom, the Germans - everyone’s on a different page.

Chapman: Lauren – why did the Russians accept an invitation to attend – what do they expect to get out of it?

Goodrich: Well the NATO summit is actually in two parts. The first part is the NATO summit in which they will be discussing the Strategic Concept Document. The second part is actually the Russian-NATO summit, which is why Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was invited. Medvedev is going with two goals. The first goal is to see what comes out of the first part of the summit. The more divided NATO is especially over the Strategic Concept Document, the better it is for the Russians. The Russians know that as long as NATO is divided, it can never agree on things like expansion – especially into the former Soviet states. Or declaring Russia as the target of their focus.

The second is for Medvedev to sit down with U.S. President Barack Obama. This is the very first one-on-one since the U.S. elections. The Russians were very wary going into these elections because they know the Republicans tend to have a firmer, more aggressive take on Russia. Since the elections, which did not go in Obama’s favor occurred, Russia has grown wary as to whether Obama would stick to his previous commitments on having warmer relations with Russia.

Chapman: I suppose one of the ironies of all this is just as things look as if they could change, they might not change because of the state of America’s politics.

Goodrich: Very much so. The United States and Russia seemed as if they were on a warming period under Barack Obama – starting in about April – but really fleshing out over the summer. The United States and Russia decided that it was better to have a temporary detente between their two countries in order to focus on more important issues of the moment.

For the United States this meant that they needed Russia to agree to sanctions on Iran and logistical support for Afghanistan. For Russia, this meant that they needed the U.S. to cease support for Georgia and Ukraine, freeze ballistic missile defense plans in Central Europe, as well as aiding Russia in its modernization and privatization programs. Both sides actually agreed to all of this until the elections.

The START Treaty ended up being the bellwether of whether this temporary detente was being successful or not. It looked like it was going to slide through both legislatures in both Russia and the United States easily - until the elections. So now we have a stall on START.

Chapman: So summing up, its’t NATO really just playing into Russia’s hands? As these groups in NATO argue about the future, the Russians just get on about their own business.

Goodrich: Very much so. They’re counting on the divisions within NATO. As long as it’s divided Russia will have a much easier time in order to clamp down on its resurgence especially in its former Soviet states and be able to start even pushing on the NATO members themselves.

Chapman: Thanks very much Lauren. Lauren Goodrich there, and that’s Agenda for this week. I’m Colin Chapman. See you next time.
=================
Thursday, November 18, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

U.S.-Russian Relations in Pre-Summit Flux

Just days before the NATO summit in Lisbon in which Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama will meet, Medvedev has postponed his annual State of the State address from Nov. 22 to Nov. 30 to account for a possible shift in U.S.-Russian relations, according to STRATFOR sources in Moscow.

Over the past six months, Moscow and Washington had set many of their disagreements aside to achieve more critical goals. Russia wanted aid on its modernization and privatization programs, a cessation of Western support for Georgia and Ukraine, and a freeze on ballistic missile defense (BMD) plans in Russia’s periphery. The United States wanted Russia to sign onto sanctions against Iran and to drop support for Tehran, as well as provide increased logistical support for the war in Afghanistan. On all these issues, there was some sort of common ground found, meaning that Moscow and Washington seemed to have struck a temporary detente.

“START seems to be just the beginning of a possible breakdown in the “reset” with Russia.”
One bellwether to judge U.S.-Russian relations has been the new START Treaty — the nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia. Obama and Medvedev agreed on START in April and it looked as if it would pass in both countries’ legislatures, especially in time for the November NATO summit. STRATFOR sources in Moscow even indicated that a delegation from the United States two months ago ensured that relations were in a warming period and that START would be signed.

But there has been a shift in Washington in the past month since the November U.S. elections.

Since the elections, the U.S. Senate — which must ratify START – has shifted positions. There are senators who are either vociferously opposed to the START document or against it in its current form. There is even a concern that since the elections, START may not even make it to the floor for debate. Russian officials have directly linked the Senate’s stall on START to a possible break of any reset in relations between Moscow and Washington. Part of the Senate debate on START is whether the United States should even contribute to Russia’s modernization program, which Obama agreed to on Medvedev’s last visit. A delay or reversal on either issue on the U.S. side is an indication that Washington is either divided over the future of Russian relations or is starting to cool from its recent warming.

But problems in the Senate over relations with Russia seem to be just the beginning of a possible breakdown in the “reset” with Russia.

The next issue is that at the NATO summit, there is the NATO treaty on BMDs that could possibly include Russia’s participation in some yet undefined format in any future BMD projects. But this Russian participation would not preclude Washington from making a bilateral deal on setting up missile defense installations – in countries such as Poland and Czech Republic. While Russia would enjoy being included in a NATO treaty on BMD, it is much more concerned with Washington’s bilateral deals on BMD projects in Central Europe. This is an issue Russia had previously assumed was frozen, but without the new NATO treaty covering U.S. bilateral deals, the issue of BMD in Central Europe is back on the table much to Russia’s chagrin.

Lastly, there are rumors that military support from the West is returning to Georgia. At this time, STRATFOR cannot confirm these rumors from Moscow sources, but if true, every guarantee Russia struck over the summer with the United States on forming a temporary detente has been abandoned.

This is the fear Moscow has going into this NATO summit over the weekend. Russia seems to be unsure if all the recent signs over the past few weeks on START, modernization, BMD and Georgia are really a decision in the United States to return to an aggressive stance with Russia, or if there are other explanations, like party politics in Washington. This is why Medvedev has pushed back his State of the State address, and sources say that a second version of the speech is being written in which the president won’t be so warm on relations with the United States.

What happens next will be key. If the U.S. has abandoned its understandings with Russia, then it is time for Moscow to reciprocate. This could mean that everything from resuming support for Iran to pulling back on support for the mission in Afghanistan could be considered in the Kremlin.


22966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 19, 2010, 12:19:52 AM
"Amsterdam, where access to drugs is relatively unproblematic, is among the most violent and squalid cities in Europe."

Perchance is any of that due to the clash of civilizations occurring there?
22967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 19, 2010, 12:14:41 AM
A couple of random thoughts:

a) One way of thinking about things is that our sweet tooth is nature's way of cluing us to eat certain things that are sweet e.g. fruit.  Instead we eat sugar and our body is confused.  Its near for carbo fuel is sated, but it remains hungry for the nutrition which it was intended to receive by eating the fruit.

b) Muscles consume calories, even at rest.  Part of healthy living is to realize the natural potential for muscle mass.  Genetic disposition to eat (appetite) has a tendency to be suitable for the intended muscle mass of the human in question.   If natural muscle mass is not achieved, there will be an inherent contradiction between the disposition to eat and the disposition to eat a certain amount.

Just rambling here , , ,
22968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Arranged on: November 19, 2010, 12:08:48 AM
Two faiths, two women and their friendship
In the film, Arranged, shared values bridge the faith divide in an unexpected way.



Jennifer S. Bryson is Director of the Islam and Civil Society Project at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. Her article is reproduced here with the permission of The Public Discourse.


“I heard that the Muslims want to kill all the Jews,” says a fourth-grade student to his Muslim teacher while an Orthodox Jewish teacher sits with them in the classroom. Just about any way one looks at this it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

And yet, by this point in the film Arranged the students’ Muslim teacher, Nasira, and the Orthodox Jewish special education teacher, Rochel, have begun to suspect that they may have more in common with each other as religious women than with anyone else in the secular environment of their Brooklyn public school.

The lunchtime chit-chat of the other female school teachers is about parties and sleeping with guys. Nasira and Rochel have, however, opted for a different approach to life. This means eating lunch alone instead—until they discover each other, that is.

There are those who would like to get Nasira and Rochel to abandon their “backward” ways. In the view of the school principal, for example, the religiosity and consequent modesty of Nasira and Rochel are outdated and irrational. At a workshop to instruct teachers about tolerance, the principal simply assumes and then goes on to tell the whole group that she thinks Nasira wears a headscarf because her father forces her to do so. Nasira, however, refuses to let this snide remark pass and shares with the group an eloquent explanation of her personal choice to follow her religious faith and how this informs her understanding of feminine modesty. She does so gracefully and confidently, not angrily or bitterly. This piques Rochel’s interest. Rochel discovers that Nasira too is facing the challenge of trying to fit in but not give in to the culture at their school.

Nasira’s explanation of why she chooses to wear the hijab does, however, not alleviate the principal’s crusade to ‘enlighten’ and ‘liberate’ Nasira and Rochel with her own brand of feminism.

The principal’s enthusiasm for diversity and tolerance wanes when it comes to the modest attire these young women have chosen out of their religious convictions. The principal considers these women among her two best teachers in the school, but for her that’s not enough. She tells them, “You’re successful participants in the modern world, except for this religious thing. You know I mean—the rules, the regulations, the way you dress… I mean come on we’re in the 21st century here for crying out loud. There was a women’s movement!” Nasira and Rochel try to be polite, but clearly they feel more irritation than liberation at hearing this. The principal, on the other hand, is so flustered by Nasira and Rochel’s calm, confident disinterest in the type of free-for-all feminism she promotes that she finally resorts to offering them her own personal money for them to go out and buy some “designer” clothes as a replacement for “those farkakte outfits” (which seems to be a Yiddish nod, from the secular Jewish principal, to the line from the Blues Brothers, “What are you guys gonna do? The same act? Wearing the same farkakte suits?”). Nasira and Rochel decline and walk out of her office.

This is a delightful film with a positive, substantive message. It deserves more viewers than its somewhat confusing title might attract. Arranged, as in arranged marriage, conjures up for many images of child marriage and forced marriage. This film does not attempt to downplay the abusiveness of such practices. Rather, in this film the “arranging” of marriage refers to family engagement in the process of searching for a suitable spouse.

(In fact, it is worth noting that today there are devout Muslims and Jews working to protect women and men from potential abuses resulting from distorted concepts of marriage. For example, this Fall the Muslim chaplain at New York University, Imam Khalid Latif, devoted a Friday sermon to differentiating between marriage and forced marriage.)

Nasira and Rochel discover they are both exploring the possibility of getting married, and that both of them are from devout religious families with cultural traditions of parents’ involvement in suggesting and getting to know eligible bachelors.

At the same time, even with a role for their families in seeking a suitable spouse, each woman has veto authority over any of the proposed suitors. And they exercise it.

But when Rochel spots a handsome, single Orthodox Jewish student with kind, bright eyes in a university study group with Nasira’s brother, some dreaming and scheming ensue. The most helpful person along the way proves to be her Muslim friend Nasira, who comes up with a humorous ploy to bring him to the attention of the women helping Rochel find a husband.

In a day and age in America when public discussion of marriage tends to be limited to either vicious fighting or depressing divorce statistics, Arranged provides a welcome respite from this. The film offers instead a focus on the centrality of relationship, commitment, and family in marriage.

This story—devout Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women discovering common ground in valuing feminine dignity and family—is not just some fictional tale of unrealistic wishful-thinking. Arranged is based on the real life account of an Orthodox Jewish woman, a teacher in the New York public schools, and her experiences getting to know the Pakistani-American Muslim mother of one of her pupils.

These filmmakers are not naďve. As one of them explains in an interview about the making of the film, included on the DVD, Israel and Lebanon were at war during the shooting of this movie. Challenges abound and they are very real. And in the film Nasira and Rochel have to maneuver their budding friendship through the obstacles of family members’ skepticism and even opposition to their Muslim-Jewish friendship. But even so, real friendships are also possible, and alliances to protect religious freedom can cross unexpected lines.

(For example, in Montreal the Orthodox Jewish community is fighting against a bill which would ban the Muslim facial veil, niqab, in Quebec for women seeking government services. The Orthodox Jewish community there has expressed concern about the government trying to regulate the attire of religious believers and doing so by targeting one minority.)

Shared values provide a bridge for Nasira and Rochel. They are women with humble self-dignity in a world not disposed to support integrity or family. What these women learn is that kindness begets friendship, and genuine friendship can handle differences. They don’t have to deny their difference to get along. The bridge they build proves to be stronger than cross-currents around them. Friendship, and healthy relationships, ensue and grow.

Jennifer S. Bryson is Director of the Islam and Civil Society Project at The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ.

Copyright 2010 the Witherspoon Institute. All rights reserved.

22969  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Body Language on: November 19, 2010, 12:01:48 AM
GM:

We need to work on your sense of FUN.  cheesy

Every person on a homicide squad being gorgeous or handsome?  Offices with the feng shui of a SF decorator?  In Sacramento? Only interesting cases involving famous people?  All the physical takedowns of perps being executed by the babe cops?  and crooked captain bars too!  Oh no!  cheesy

Where the show really shines for me is the character of the lead actor and his interaction with a script with plenty of wit that regularly communicates the appeal of high IQ.
22970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Arranged" on: November 18, 2010, 11:54:04 PM
Two faiths, two women and their friendship
In the film, Arranged, shared values bridge the faith divide in an unexpected way.



Jennifer S. Bryson is Director of the Islam and Civil Society Project at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. Her article is reproduced here with the permission of The Public Discourse.


“I heard that the Muslims want to kill all the Jews,” says a fourth-grade student to his Muslim teacher while an Orthodox Jewish teacher sits with them in the classroom. Just about any way one looks at this it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

And yet, by this point in the film Arranged the students’ Muslim teacher, Nasira, and the Orthodox Jewish special education teacher, Rochel, have begun to suspect that they may have more in common with each other as religious women than with anyone else in the secular environment of their Brooklyn public school.

The lunchtime chit-chat of the other female school teachers is about parties and sleeping with guys. Nasira and Rochel have, however, opted for a different approach to life. This means eating lunch alone instead—until they discover each other, that is.

There are those who would like to get Nasira and Rochel to abandon their “backward” ways. In the view of the school principal, for example, the religiosity and consequent modesty of Nasira and Rochel are outdated and irrational. At a workshop to instruct teachers about tolerance, the principal simply assumes and then goes on to tell the whole group that she thinks Nasira wears a headscarf because her father forces her to do so. Nasira, however, refuses to let this snide remark pass and shares with the group an eloquent explanation of her personal choice to follow her religious faith and how this informs her understanding of feminine modesty. She does so gracefully and confidently, not angrily or bitterly. This piques Rochel’s interest. Rochel discovers that Nasira too is facing the challenge of trying to fit in but not give in to the culture at their school.

Nasira’s explanation of why she chooses to wear the hijab does, however, not alleviate the principal’s crusade to ‘enlighten’ and ‘liberate’ Nasira and Rochel with her own brand of feminism.

The principal’s enthusiasm for diversity and tolerance wanes when it comes to the modest attire these young women have chosen out of their religious convictions. The principal considers these women among her two best teachers in the school, but for her that’s not enough. She tells them, “You’re successful participants in the modern world, except for this religious thing. You know I mean—the rules, the regulations, the way you dress… I mean come on we’re in the 21st century here for crying out loud. There was a women’s movement!” Nasira and Rochel try to be polite, but clearly they feel more irritation than liberation at hearing this. The principal, on the other hand, is so flustered by Nasira and Rochel’s calm, confident disinterest in the type of free-for-all feminism she promotes that she finally resorts to offering them her own personal money for them to go out and buy some “designer” clothes as a replacement for “those farkakte outfits” (which seems to be a Yiddish nod, from the secular Jewish principal, to the line from the Blues Brothers, “What are you guys gonna do? The same act? Wearing the same farkakte suits?”). Nasira and Rochel decline and walk out of her office.

This is a delightful film with a positive, substantive message. It deserves more viewers than its somewhat confusing title might attract. Arranged, as in arranged marriage, conjures up for many images of child marriage and forced marriage. This film does not attempt to downplay the abusiveness of such practices. Rather, in this film the “arranging” of marriage refers to family engagement in the process of searching for a suitable spouse.

(In fact, it is worth noting that today there are devout Muslims and Jews working to protect women and men from potential abuses resulting from distorted concepts of marriage. For example, this Fall the Muslim chaplain at New York University, Imam Khalid Latif, devoted a Friday sermon to differentiating between marriage and forced marriage.)

Nasira and Rochel discover they are both exploring the possibility of getting married, and that both of them are from devout religious families with cultural traditions of parents’ involvement in suggesting and getting to know eligible bachelors.

At the same time, even with a role for their families in seeking a suitable spouse, each woman has veto authority over any of the proposed suitors. And they exercise it.

But when Rochel spots a handsome, single Orthodox Jewish student with kind, bright eyes in a university study group with Nasira’s brother, some dreaming and scheming ensue. The most helpful person along the way proves to be her Muslim friend Nasira, who comes up with a humorous ploy to bring him to the attention of the women helping Rochel find a husband.

In a day and age in America when public discussion of marriage tends to be limited to either vicious fighting or depressing divorce statistics, Arranged provides a welcome respite from this. The film offers instead a focus on the centrality of relationship, commitment, and family in marriage.

This story—devout Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women discovering common ground in valuing feminine dignity and family—is not just some fictional tale of unrealistic wishful-thinking. Arranged is based on the real life account of an Orthodox Jewish woman, a teacher in the New York public schools, and her experiences getting to know the Pakistani-American Muslim mother of one of her pupils.

These filmmakers are not naďve. As one of them explains in an interview about the making of the film, included on the DVD, Israel and Lebanon were at war during the shooting of this movie. Challenges abound and they are very real. And in the film Nasira and Rochel have to maneuver their budding friendship through the obstacles of family members’ skepticism and even opposition to their Muslim-Jewish friendship. But even so, real friendships are also possible, and alliances to protect religious freedom can cross unexpected lines.

(For example, in Montreal the Orthodox Jewish community is fighting against a bill which would ban the Muslim facial veil, niqab, in Quebec for women seeking government services. The Orthodox Jewish community there has expressed concern about the government trying to regulate the attire of religious believers and doing so by targeting one minority.)

Shared values provide a bridge for Nasira and Rochel. They are women with humble self-dignity in a world not disposed to support integrity or family. What these women learn is that kindness begets friendship, and genuine friendship can handle differences. They don’t have to deny their difference to get along. The bridge they build proves to be stronger than cross-currents around them. Friendship, and healthy relationships, ensue and grow.

Jennifer S. Bryson is Director of the Islam and Civil Society Project at The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ.

Copyright 2010 the Witherspoon Institute. All rights reserved.

22971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Big Dog on: November 18, 2010, 08:09:31 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHJJQ0zNNOM&feature=player_embedded#!
22972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 18, 2010, 06:02:26 PM
Nice to read of your soft side GM cool
22973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: November 18, 2010, 10:13:47 AM
The Politics thread is more suitable for this and related subjects.
22974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2010, 10:13:02 AM
JDN:  Exactly.

Rarick:  Isn't Vegas even more fornicated than we are?  Isn't gambling the epitome of discretionary spending?
22975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / TSA=Thousands Standing Around/Transacting Sexual Assaults, unionized on: November 18, 2010, 08:47:38 AM




TSA Unionization: A $30 Million Annual Gift to Union Bosses

Another reward for union bosses; another slap in the face for Americans.
Posted by LaborUnionReport (Profile)
Wednesday, November 17th at 11:00AM EST
4 Comments

When we have an administration more concerned about rewarding its union cronies than the U.S. Constitution (see ObamaCare for reference), giving union bosses access to the wallets of TSOs was only a matter of time. Now, the Transportation Security Agency’s blue shirts who are doing Janet Napolitiano’s bidding frisking, groping, molesting and seemingly sexually assaulting the American public, are about to get license for further abuse—a union card.

In a significant victory for federal employee unions, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided Friday that Transportation Security Administrationstaffers will be allowed to vote on union representation.

The decision clears the way for a campaign by the government’s two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, to represent some 50,000 transportation security officers.

It was bound to happen. Before it became an agency known as Fourth Amendment violators, due to its critical national security responsibilities, the TSA was created in 2001as a non-union agency  As labor attorney Jay Sumner notes:


Enacted in 2001, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) provides that the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security has the power to, among other things, determine the compensation, terms and conditions of employment for employees who carry out security screening functions. Accordingly, in a 2003 memorandum, the Under Secretary declared that TSA officers, “in light of their critical national security responsibilities, shall not, as a term or condition of their employment, be entitled to engage in collective bargaining or be represented for the purpose of engaging in such bargaining by any representative or organization.”

While the Federal Labor Relations Authority (an agency that governs labor relations between the federal government and unions) recently granted permission to unionize the TSA, it has not yet ruled to give the unions collective bargaining rights—yet. But, it is only a matter of time.

“AFGE argued, and the FLRA agreed, that the right for employees to elect an exclusive representative and the right to engage in collective bargaining are two separate and distinct rights,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “We have always said the choice to unionize and the task of winning collective bargaining rights at TSA would be a two-part process.

“While we wait for the decision on collective bargaining rights that TSA Administrator Pistole has indicated will come soon, the election process can begin to move forward,” Gage added.

Here’s some informal statistics for you:

Number of TSA employees eligible for unionization: 50,000
TSA budget for FY 2010: $7.8 billion
Estimated Union Dues TSA unionization will provide union bosses at $50 per month:$2,500,000 per month or $30,000,000 per year.

__________________

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.”  Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
22976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pro-biotics on: November 18, 2010, 08:36:04 AM
Fair enough. 

I would also add the question of what are the cumulative consequences of taking antibiotic medicines various times in one's life?  How does the flora re-establish itself?  Is the mix the same? Or do other less positive bacterias increase their place in the mix?
22977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A savvy friend comments on: November 18, 2010, 08:31:32 AM
People in North America are no longer using digital cable to view programming.   With a Roku, Playstation or Xbox, as long as you don’t have to watch cable system programming when the programs are first shown, you can actually cut your cable or satellite bill significantly.

Cisco invested heavily in the cable set top box (STB) model when it acquired Scientific Atlanta.  But everything including TV signals are moving to Ethernet packets.  Google and Apple TV are also examples of this trend.  NetFlix has survived and prospered because it recognized this phenomenon long before Blockbuster.  In its last earnings call, CSCO revealed that its North American sales to MSO’s (multiple system operators) declined 30%.

IMO, the recession here has accelerated the convergence of the Internet with TV as people look to cut fixed monthly household expenses.

I believe that in this decade, Apple and Google/Amazon will supplant the major MSO’s as the prime source of video programming to the home and to the wireless device such as the iPad.  If AAPL has any major vulnerability in this environment, it is its walled garden approach to providing programming versus a more open source at Google/Amazon.  In many respects, AAPL reminds me on AOL at its peak 15-20 years ago.


And don’t dismiss wireless as a strong competitor to cable.  The new 4G LTE systems that are nearing implementation can provide very robust download speeds for Ethernet packets.  LTE has won the battle with WiMax as the most widely adopted worldwide standard for 4G.  Why do you think that Verizon is selling iPads now?  In 1-2 years, in the more densely populated areas of North America, it may be more efficient to access the internet directly by wireless.  This also attacks Cisco’s Linksys division because direct wireless access obviates the need for a WiFi router.

 

Anyway, this article prompted me to share these thoughts.  I now watch almost half of my video over the internet.  How much video do you now watch over the internet?

 

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a3986a1c-f28c-11df-a2f3-00144feab49a.html#ixzz15dYSiZDL

Viewers pull plug on US cable television
By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles

Published: November 17 2010 21:31 | Last updated: November 17 2010 21:31

The number of people subscribing to US cable television services has suffered its biggest decline in 30 years as younger, tech-savvy viewers lead an exodus to web-based operations, such as Hulu and Netflix.

The total number of subscribers to TV services provided by cable, satellite and telco operators fell by 119,000 in the third quarter, compared with a gain of 346,000 in the third quarter of 2009, according to SNL Kagan, a research company.
Although television services offered by telecoms and satellite providers added subscribers over the period, cable operators were hard hit, with subscriber numbers falling by 741,000 – the largest decline in 30 years.

The figures suggest that “cord-cutting” – one of the pay-television industry’s biggest fears – is becoming a reality as viewers drift to web-based platforms.

Online TV services are stepping up their efforts to reach new viewers and become profitable: Hulu, which is owned by News Corp, Walt Disney and NBC Universal, has slashed the cost of its online subscription service by 20 per cent to $7.99 per month and offers a vast array of film and TV programming.

Jason Kilar, Hulu’s chief executive, has maintained that Hulu, which is exploring an initial public offering, complements pay-television services.

Yet the data suggest that the growth of Hulu and Netflix, the DVD subscription company which began testing a $7.99 per month streaming-only service last month, has become problematic for cable operators.

Ian Olgeirson, senior analyst at SNL Kagan, said it was becoming “increasingly difficult” to dismiss the impact of web-based services on the pay-TV industry, “particularly after seeing declines during the period of the year that tends to produce the largest subscriber gains due to seasonal shifts back to television viewing and subscription packages”.

Hulu’s revenues are increasing sharply: the company is projected to generate more than $240m in 2010, up from $108m in 2009. It has extended the number of devices that can access its subscription service to include Sony’s PlayStation 3 console and will add internet-connected devices, including Vizio, LG Electronics and Panasonic Blu-ray players, in the next few months.

Devices such as Apple’s iPad also appear to be accelerating the move away from traditional multichannel television.

Research from The Diffusion Group, a technology research company, found that more than a third of iPad users were likely to cancel their pay-TV subscriptions in the next six months.

The cable industry has launched a vigorous defence against cord-cutting: companies such as Comcast, which has agreed to buy NBC Universal, are backing “TV Everywhere”, which gives subscribers access to channels and programming online, and via their cable box.

 

 
22978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 17, 2010, 08:13:44 PM
"So Crafty, does this mean you are an advocate for adopting the Shin Bet model of domestic intelligence gathering, thus allowing for El Al-like aviation security?"

Expound please.
22979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: CA's AG race on: November 17, 2010, 11:42:16 AM
By JOHN FUND
The race to determine who will be the attorney general of California is still too close to call. Democrat Kamala Harris, San Francisco's district attorney, leads Republican Steve Cooley, the DA for Los Angeles County, by 31,000 votes out of nearly nine million cast. And there are more than 750,000 ballots left to count.

The tabulation process has led to a full-fledged food fight between the candidates and has roped in Dean Logan, the controversial voter registrar of Los Angeles County. Ms. Harris claims that Cooley officials have crowded election workers "and aggressively attempt(ed) to have ballots disqualified" in Los Angeles County. Cooley aides counter that election workers in Los Angeles are being far too sloppy in comparing signatures on provisional ballots with voter registration cards on file for that person. They allege that in some instances no comparison is being made.

Attorneys for Mr. Cooley also complain that county workers are contacting voters by phone to fill out incomplete voter registration forms in order that their provisional ballots can be made legal, a step that's not part of the county's written procedures for counting ballots. They also claim that Mr. Logan's staff has held private meetings with Harris representatives and given them access to rejected provisional ballots.

Mr. Logan rejects all of the allegations. "I don't believe there's been anything raised at this point that is a significant concern," he told the Los Angeles Times. But Mr. Logan made similar soothing statements in 2004 when he presided over one of the great meltdowns of U.S. elections during his previous tenure as elections chief of King County, Washington, which includes Seattle. The Washington governor's race that year entered the ranks of electoral infamy when Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner over Republican Dino Rossi by 132 votes out of 2.7 million cast after three recounts.

The mess in those recounts made the Florida 2000 battle look orderly. In King County alone, there were more than 3,500 unaccounted-for ballots or voters. Some precincts had more ballots than voters, for a total of 2,900 extra ballots. Other precincts have more voters than ballots, for a total of 800 extra voters.

Other irregularities abounded. The Seattle Times reported that 129 felons illegally voted in King and Pierce counties. Some 55,000 optical-scan ballots (on which the voter marks a bubble) in King County were "enhanced" so that the voters' supposed intent could be determined, with no uniform standard governing the process. And in an eerie parallel to Mr. Cooley's complaints in the AG race in California, National Review noted that at least 348 provisional King County ballots — which were supposed to be closely inspected to see if they were legitimate — were directly fed into machines and counted. Bob Williams of Washington state's Evergreen Freedom Foundation concluded that Mr. Logan was guilty of "practiced incompetence" in his unwillingness to follow proper recount procedures.

In July, 2005 the King County Independent Task Force on Elections, a body set up to probe the county's vote-counting problems, concluded that Mr. Logan was "ill equipped" to make the changes needed to restore public trust and confidence in elections. A year later, Mr. Logan quietly resigned to take his new job in Los Angeles County.

Mr. Logan's track record should raise concerns that proper procedures for vote counting are once again not being fully followed in California's AG race. If prompt action to ensure the integrity of the election process isn't taken now, we may see calls for Los Angeles County to appoint its own task force to investigate Mr. Logan's "practiced incompetence."

22980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 17, 2010, 11:30:18 AM
Even a legend in his own mind can be right sometimes.

Some folks on "our" side acted irresponsibly on this one:

=========

Too Good to CheckBy THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: November 16, 2010


 On Nov. 4, Anderson Cooper did the country a favor. He expertly deconstructed on his CNN show the bogus rumor that President Obama’s trip to Asia would cost $200 million a day. This was an important “story.” It underscored just how far ahead of his time Mark Twain was when he said a century before the Internet, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” But it also showed that there is an antidote to malicious journalism — and that’s good journalism.

 In case you missed it, a story circulated around the Web on the eve of President Obama’s trip that it would cost U.S. taxpayers $200 million a day — about $2 billion for the entire trip. Cooper said he felt impelled to check it out because the evening before he had had Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Republican and Tea Party favorite, on his show and had asked her where exactly Republicans will cut the budget.

Instead of giving specifics, Bachmann used her airtime to inject a phony story into the mainstream. She answered: “I think we know that just within a day or so the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He’s taking 2,000 people with him. He’ll be renting over 870 rooms in India, and these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending.”

The next night, Cooper explained that he felt compelled to trace that story back to its source, since someone had used his show to circulate it. His research, he said, found that it had originated from a quote by “an alleged Indian provincial official,” from the Indian state of Maharashtra, “reported by India’s Press Trust, their equivalent of our A.P. or Reuters. I say ‘alleged,’ provincial official,” Cooper added, “because we have no idea who this person is, no name was given.”

It is hard to get any more flimsy than a senior unnamed Indian official from Maharashtra talking about the cost of an Asian trip by the American president.

“It was an anonymous quote,” said Cooper. “Some reporter in India wrote this article with this figure in it. No proof was given; no follow-up reporting was done. Now you’d think if a member of Congress was going to use this figure as a fact, she would want to be pretty darn sure it was accurate, right? But there hasn’t been any follow-up reporting on this Indian story. The Indian article was picked up by The Drudge Report and other sites online, and it quickly made its way into conservative talk radio.”

Cooper then showed the following snippets: Rush Limbaugh talking about Obama’s trip: “In two days from now, he’ll be in India at $200 million a day.” Then Glenn Beck, on his radio show, saying: “Have you ever seen the president, ever seen the president go over for a vacation where you needed 34 warships, $2 billion — $2 billion, 34 warships. We are sending — he’s traveling with 3,000 people.” In Beck’s rendition, the president’s official state visit to India became “a vacation” accompanied by one-tenth of the U.S. Navy. Ditto the conservative radio talk-show host Michael Savage. He said, “$200 million? $200 million each day on security and other aspects of this incredible royalist visit; 3,000 people, including Secret Service agents.”

Cooper then added: “Again, no one really seemed to care to check the facts. For security reasons, the White House doesn’t comment on logistics of presidential trips, but they have made an exception this time. He then quoted Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, as saying, “I am not going to go into how much it costs to protect the president, [but this trip] is comparable to when President Clinton and when President Bush traveled abroad. This trip doesn’t cost $200 million a day.” Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said: “I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd, this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy and some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier in support of the president’s trip to Asia. That’s just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.”

Cooper also pointed out that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the entire war effort in Afghanistan was costing about $190 million a day and that President Bill Clinton’s 1998 trip to Africa — with 1,300 people and of roughly similar duration, cost, according to the Government Accountability Office and adjusted for inflation, “about $5.2 million a day.”

When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, we have a problem. It becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues — deficit reduction, health care, taxes, energy/climate — let alone act on them. Facts, opinions and fabrications just blend together. But the carnival barkers that so dominate our public debate today are not going away — and neither is the Internet. All you can hope is that more people will do what Cooper did — so when the next crazy lie races around the world, people’s first instinct will be to doubt it, not repeat it.

22981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-10 on: November 17, 2010, 11:08:45 AM


Well we went to the airport today only be told we could not leave the country because we did not have an exit visa.  So I am stuck here for the immediate future.  But at least I am back in the IZ....
22982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 17, 2010, 10:54:09 AM
Tangent:  Speaking of major operations in Mexico, I am reminded of the Chinese national with a business pharmaceutical background who purchased a Mexican citizenship.  Authorities found a home filled with IIRC $250,000,000 in CASH.  Hotly pursued by narco hit squads, he fled.  An American LEO that I have trained was the man who put the cuffs on him here in the US-- just ahead of the hit squads closing in.

Larger point, the operations in Mexico can get REALLY big.
22983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What about the El Al approach? on: November 17, 2010, 10:49:24 AM
So, (working from memory here) what happened to in the matter of those 30,000 scan-fotos wrongly saved by the US Marshals Service at some courthouse?   Any heads roll?

===========
"The Transportation Security Administration's demeaning new 'enhanced pat-down' procedures are a direct result of the Obama administration's willful blindness to the threat from Islamic radicals. While better tools are available to keep air travelers safe, they would involve recognizing the threat for what it is, which is something the White House will never do. El Al, Israel's national airline, employs a smarter approach. Any airline representing the state of Israel is a natural -- some might say preeminent -- target for terrorist attacks. Yet El Al has one of the best security records in the world and doesn't resort to wide-scale use of methods that would under other circumstances constitute sexual assault. The Israelis have achieved this track record of safety by employing sophisticated intelligence analysis which allows them to predict which travelers constitute a possible threat and which do not. Resources are then focused on the more probable threats with minimal intrusion on those who are likely not to be terrorists. Here in the United States, these sophisticated techniques have roundly been denounced as discriminatory 'profiling.' ... TSA believes an 80-year-old grandmother deserves the same level of scrutiny at an airport terminal checkpoint as a 19-year-old male exchange student from Yemen. This policy not only is a waste of time and resources, it denies reality. ... Despite all the government bureaucracy and TSA's intrusive inspection practices, [al Qaeda underwear bomber Umar Farouk] Abdulmutallab's attack was only foiled because of a faulty bomb and the actions of alert passengers. Now all passengers have to pay the price by having their privacy (and their privates) invaded, which is the Obama administration's alternative to instituting a policy that will target the source of the problem." --The Washington Times

22984  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Body Language on: November 17, 2010, 10:40:17 AM
Reading body language and facial cues is a very important skill that can often have personal safety implications.

Recently my wife and I have become quite enchanted by the TV show The Mentalist, whose lead character is a high IQ fellow assisting a police homicide squad peopled by model beautiful cops (well, it is in California cheesy)  Amongst his skills is the ability to read body language and facial cues very well.

Similarly there is the TV show "Lie to me" which is based upon the work of this Dr. Paul Ekman http://www.paulekman.com/
22985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 17, 2010, 01:03:59 AM
"I'd expect that if any footage of anyone's body parts end up on the net from a TSA employee, that employee will trade in their TSA uniform for a BOP inmate uniform."

Coming from the hard-bitten practical LEO that you are, that is remarkabliy naive  cheesy 

22986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 17, 2010, 12:59:41 AM
The French women article's reference to yogurt prompts me to proffer a pet theory of mine:

We are continuously dosed by antibiotics via our consumption of industrial poultry and beef.  The results is our natural intestinal flora is disrupted and diminished.  This I think has consequences-- one of which may be to increase digestive disorders and susceptibility to weight gain.


22987  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Wuss Test on: November 17, 2010, 12:44:31 AM
From a friend currently training police in Iraq:
======================================================
Well on this the final morning here I decided to give my partner the "wuss test."

Since his arrival here 6-weeks ago he has been like a clingy bitch (no offense meant to women) when it comes to being alone in the IZ.  Most of the contractors in the IZ have to get around by themselves at some point.  I personally know a 19-yeard old kid, a 57-year old woman, and a limping 65-year old man (who walks around the 'hood) who have no problem getting around alone as needed.  But not my partner.  Now mind you I love the man, but today was the "wuss test."

I know he is starving when he gets up in the morning.  It's all he can think of doing...to go eat.  This morning I advised him I had decided I was going to pass on breakfast.  It took him a lot of thinking before he made his decision (which I predicted with accuracy) that he was "going to pass on breakfast also."

It must be killing him right now.  Hungry as hell and has the power to kill those hunger pangs (by simply getting in the car and driving over to the DFAC by himself).  But he just won't do it.

And so, by social engineering, the bottom line is what it is.  And it is always good to know the level of cojones that the person who "has your back" really has, and to know it before cruch time comes.
22988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 16, 2010, 06:54:54 PM
Next Speaker of the House Boener (pronounced "boner" if I am not mistaken-- many obvious jokes here  cheesy) will be riding commercial.  If he gets scanned so as to prove there is no profiling, what are the odds of his penis showing up on youtube?
22989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 16, 2010, 06:52:33 PM
I think it makes sense to realize that there are drugs that by-pass free will.  Certainly not pot, but meth would appear to be a contender.  As such, legalization may not make sense.
22990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 16, 2010, 06:48:56 PM
JDN:

Agreed.  This is madness.
22991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: November 16, 2010, 11:42:15 AM
Hat tip to BBG, this from the WOD thread

A Gangster With Oil
 
Posted 11/15/2010 06:57 PM ET

Colombian police escort suspected Venezuelan drug lord Walid Makled Garcia in Bogota last August. He says Hugo Chavez protected his drug empire. AP View Enlarged Image

Geopolitics: Years ago, Americans worried about Venezuela's leftist Hugo Chavez becoming a new Castro — with oil. It happened. Now he's filling his cabinet with drug lords, and the threat morphs into something creepier.

Last week, Chavez promoted Major General Henry Rangel Silva to general-in-chief, the top position in the Venezuelan military command.

It was a rogue act because, in 2008, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control named Rangel and two other Chavez loyalists as "Tier II Kingpins" for material support of drug trafficking.

The U.S. designation came of an administrative process so strict and thorough the U.S. government could indict someone if it's right — and be sued if it's wrong. There have been no lawsuits.

Rangel is said to provide material support for Colombia's FARC communist terrorists, who control 60% of Colombia's cocaine production, pushing it into Mexico and other destinations.

With Mexico endangered by local cartels' trade with Venezuela's government-linked suppliers, the link to Mexico's drug war is very real. And it's a national security problem for the U.S. — a big one.

The promotion shows Chavez is surrounding himself with drug lords. Most leaders would expel someone with those credentials. Not Chavez. He almost seems to be flaunting Rangel and others like him. One can only conclude that Venezuela is now a narcostate.

With seven other Chavez loyalists also on the Treasury's list (but not yet announced) the rot is far deeper than the U.S. wants to admit. The only real question left is what will we do about it?

It's important because drug lords have turned Mexico a battlefield. Violence on the U.S.-Mexico frontier began in 2005, the same year Chavez stopped cooperating with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon began his six-year term by declaring war against the drug cartels. So far, it has cost 30,000 lives, and the war's now spilling over our borders.

Two Fridays ago, Mexican marines killed Antonio Cardenas, the chief of the Gulf Cartel, in a shootout that shut the U.S. border with Mexico down. Cardenas' war was fueled by people like Rangel.

Now, there are even people who can prove it. Last August, Colombian forces captured a major Venezuelan drug lord named Walid Makled-Garcia, who'd had a falling out with Chavez.

Makled was so high-ranking the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration last week declared him the "King of Kingpins" after his indictment in New York. Until this summer, Makled commanded Venezuela's air and seaports. His gigantic jetliners loaded with tons of cocaine flew from "the presidential ramp" headed for Mexico.

Makled says he kept records and tapes of his encounters with Rangel, and other top Venezuelan military and intelligence leaders, bribing them to let his drug jets take off. He made $1.4 billion from his work — about the same amount as Chapo Guzman, Mexico's richest cartel chief, whom Forbes magazine estimates is worth $1 billion.

In 2006, Makled's records show, a DC-9 loaded with five and half tons of cocaine crashed in Mexico. It was discovered by Mexican police before it could reach its "buyer" — who happened to be the Sinaloa drug lord Guzman, known for his shootouts in Juarez.

There's also a political aspect emerging in that Mexican war: In recent news item about a child assassins turning up in Mexico, Mexican police report that these gangs are being protected by Chavez's leftist political ally in Mexico, the PRD Party. If PRD continues in this way, it may soon become a leftist drug insurgency, like FARC.

It all pushes the question of what to do about Chavez to a new level of urgency. Right now, Colombia must decide whether to extradite Makled to the U.S. to tell everything he knows about Chavez, or to send him to Venezuela, where he is likely to be killed.

Chavez asked for Makled first, and the murders he's charging him with are graver than the U.S.' cocaine-smuggling charges. Chavez badly needs to silence him to promote his generals.

The Obama administration has its own dilemma — does it want Makled to talk, or does it just want to sweep him and his shocking revelations under the rug as war continues to rage in Mexico?

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/553849/201011151857/A-Gangster-With-Oil.aspx
22992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indefinite detention that we all can live with on: November 16, 2010, 11:03:47 AM
Hat tip to BBG on the Cognitive Dissonance thread; pasting here as well:

Obama Caves on Civilian Trial for KSM
It turns out indefinite detention isn’t so bad after all.

Let’s review the state of play, shall we?

Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama blasted the Bush administration’s decision to treat al-Qaeda terrorists as enemy combatants and detain them without trial at Guantanamo Bay. Now, two years into his presidency, Obama has decided to treat al-Qaeda terrorists as enemy combatants and detain them without trial at Guantanamo Bay.

The media is reporting that the administration will hold Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 plotter indefinitely, granting them neither a civilian nor a military trial. This determination, leaked over the weekend, appears to be a rebuff of Attorney General Eric Holder, who had intimated a few days earlier that a civilian prosecution was imminent.

Here’s the difference between Presidents Bush and Obama: The former’s strategy was driven by weighty national-security concerns and maintained despite ceaseless condemnation from the Obama Left. Obama’s strategy — or, more accurately, his drift — is driven by naked political concerns, and his base’s media megaphone has gone nearly silent.

After the most devastating attack ever carried out on American soil by a foreign enemy, President Bush determined that the Clinton administration’s preferred strategy of treating al-Qaeda as a mere law-enforcement problem had been unserious. The criminal-justice system is tailored to address ordinary crimes committed in peacetime America. It is designed to favor the defendants: Americans are presumed innocent and armed by the Constitution with protections that, quite intentionally, make it difficult for the government to investigate, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate. By itself, civilian justice is incapable of neutralizing wartime enemies. Unlike everyday crooks, foreign terrorists operate from overseas redoubts where American law does not apply, where foreign regimes like Iran and the Taliban are only too happy to abet them.

This is not hypothesis; it is our experience. The Clinton Justice Department indicted Osama bin Laden himself in June 1998. He responded by orchestrating, with impunity, the August 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa, the October 2000 Cole bombing, and the 9/11 attacks. Al-Qaeda’s onslaught was a war, not a crime wave. President Bush was hardly alone in thinking so: Congress overwhelming authorized combat operations against al-Qaeda, and it has continued to authorize and fund them for nearly a decade. Combat operations necessarily imply not only the killing of enemy combatants but their capture and detention, with the corollary of military-commission trials for those who have committed provable war crimes.

The Bush strategy has worked. Its detractors among self-styled “human-rights activists” — who seem far more concerned about the humans doing the killing than the humans doing the dying — point to the spotty record of commission trials in contending otherwise. But commissions constitute only a small element of the Bush approach, and doubtless the least important one.

The Bush strategy’s key components are twofold. First: Kill, capture, and defund terrorists overseas, thereby denying them safe haven and taking them out before they can act. Second: Detain those who have been captured both to maximize the potential for acquiring fresh intelligence and to thin out the ranks of highly trained jihadists. The enemy may be able to replace terrorists who have been captured or killed, but the new recruits cannot replicate their level of competence.

It is a sad fact that the tireless, heroic work of our military continues without our paying it much mind. It is thus common for Americans to look at all our patent vulnerabilities — subway systems, power grids, sports stadiums, etc. — and wonder: “Why haven’t there been more 9/11s?” But this is no mystery. Dead and detained jihadists cannot execute attacks. A terror network worried about drone strikes on its training camps does not have the luxury of taking the months it takes to plan and execute significant plots. Fresh intelligence from high-level captives disrupts plots in addition to making it extraordinarily difficult for al-Qaeda to embed capable cells in our homeland.

While President Obama has gradually and grudgingly made the Bush strategy his own, he lacks the grace to say so, much less to give his predecessor credit. But it is remarkable to consider how far Obama has come. In June 2008, with the campaign in high gear, he ripped Bush, complaining that

in previous terrorist attacks [such as] the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated. And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world.
This critique was astonishing in its ignorance. In most previous terrorist attacks, we had not been able to arrest those responsible — they had been able to keep attacking. Even in the one example Obama cited, the 1993 WTC bombing, several of those responsible were able to flee because civilian due-process protections made it impossible to hold them. Some were never apprehended — and KSM, who was complicit in the WTC bombing and several subsequent plots, was finally captured thanks to wartime operations, not law-enforcement protocols.

Moreover, detaining enemy combatants without trial is entirely consistent with the “rule of law” that applies in wartime. Indeed, the Obama Justice Department has found itself making just this argument, albeit without fanfare. In short, indefinite detention at Gitmo “destroyed our credibility” only with Bush-deranged leftists — and isn’t it amazing how credulous they’ve suddenly become now that their guy is accountable?

In his conclusion, candidate Obama leveled the charge — oft-repeated but mindless — that Bush counterterrorism had “given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in [Islamic] countries that say, ‘Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.’” Let’s put aside the now-familiar Obama crotchet that gives Muslim sensibilities pride of place over American security concerns. The brute fact is: Obama is treating Muslim terrorists the same way Bush did. Given that, is it too much to ask the president finally to acknowledge that terrorist recruitment is driven by Islamist ideology? The legal theory by which a president justifies the indefinite detention of terrorists is beside the point.

For those who maintain that our president is a pragmatist and not an ideologue, worth pondering is Obama’s ideological intransigence, and how it has bred incompetence. If, back in January 2009, Obama had just let the then-pending military commission go forward, KSM and his cohorts would likely have been executed by now. They had announced their intention to plead guilty and proceed to sentencing. Allowing that, however, would effectively have meant endorsing military commissions and, by extension, Bush counterterrorism. So the new president interrupted the proceedings and dangled before KSM the stage the terrorist had always craved: a civilian trial just a few blocks from Broadway.

The public revolted, prompting bipartisan congressional opposition. Meantime, the president came to realize that, regardless of his purple campaign rhetoric, many committed jihadists could not be tried in civilian court and would kill Americans if released. His law-enforcement framework was impractical: He would have to detain al-Qaeda captives indefinitely or find another way to try them. Consequently, he kept Gitmo open despite having promised to close it; and, with an assist from congressional Democrats, he made a few cosmetic tweaks in the military-commission system in order to camouflage the inconvenient truth that it was substantially the same commission system proposed by Bush and endorsed by Congress in 2006.

But while Obama preserved military commissions, he didn’t actually want to use them. Had he used them, and had terrorists promptly started being convicted and severely sentenced, public opposition to the civilian prosecutions beloved by his base would have stiffened. So now there is one obvious right thing to do: Give KSM and the 9/11 plotters the military commission and execution they should have had almost two years ago. Yet, Obama can’t bring himself to do it.

Instead, the man who claimed that indefinite detention without trial “destroyed our credibility” will indefinitely detain the terrorists without trial — at least until after the 2012 election, when either they will be some other president’s headache or electoral politics will no longer weigh on Obama. That’s change you can believe in.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/253356/obama-caves-civilian-trial-ksm-andrew-c-mccarthy#
22993  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 16, 2010, 10:18:19 AM
Federal Deployment to Tamaulipas

The Mexican government is reported to have significantly augmented federal security forces in the northern Tamaulipas border region with a deployment of both Mexican army troops and Federal Police agents, bringing the number of federal security forces in the region to nearly 3,000. These forces, which have been arriving since Nov. 13, will be primarily deployed to the areas around Ciudad Mier, Camargo, Nuevo Guerrero, Miguel Aleman and Diaz Ordaz, or more generally in the rural stretch between the major metropolitan areas of Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo along the Tamaulipas-South Texas border. This deployment will be in addition to the Mexican Marine forces already deployed to the region, as well as the Mexican army operating in the military’s 7th and 8th zones, which are headquartered in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon and Reynosa, respectively. Additionally, there are reports that a Mexican special operations unit will be deployed from Mexico City to the Tamaulipas border region as well to conduct high-risk operations, possibly targeting high-value cartel targets. Military officials also have indicated that they will be establishing checkpoints in the region and will be inspecting 100 percent of both passenger and cargo vehicles.

Though the new deployment of federal forces to the area is sizable, the total number of federal forces in the region pales in comparison to other federal security operations, such as Coordinated Operation Chihuahua, which boasts close to 10,000 forces deployed primarily in northern Chihuahua. The Tamaulipas deployment also will allow particular branches of the military and Federal Police to have more specified roles in the operations. According to Mexican military officials, Mexican Marines will primarily be tasked with intelligence operations and to a lesser extent will conduct joint patrols with the army and Federal Police. The Federal Police will base the majority of their operations in more urban areas, including Reynosa, Matamoros and to a lesser extent Nuevo Laredo. Mexican army personnel will primarily be tasked with operations in the more rural areas, including checkpoints outside urban centers.

This deployment comes at a time when tensions between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas are high in large part due to the Nov. 5 death of Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas Guillen. Tony Tormenta’s death set in motion a likely offensive on the part of Los Zetas to retake control of the Tamaulipas-South Texas border region lost earlier in the year to the Gulf cartel and their allies in the New Federation.

Los Zetas have made bold moves in battleground like Ciudad Mier, Camargo and Miguel Aleman. The group has all but taken over portions of these towns, forcing residents to flee in the wake of Tony Tormenta’s death. One such brazen takeover reportedly occurred Nov. 5 in Ciudad Mier, where alleged members of Los Zetas were reported to be running through the streets screaming that all the residents in the area must vacate the city or be killed. More than 300 people are estimated to have left the city reportedly seeking shelter in nearby Miguel Aleman, where at least two temporary housing settlements have been set up. It appears that Los Zetas are using both of these small towns as a staging area for a possible assault on the much larger Reynosa metropolitan area some 65-80 kilometers (40-50 miles) to the southeast.

The death of Tony Tormenta could not have come at a worse time for the Gulf cartel. The Gulf cartel was part of the New Federation alliance which included La Familia Michoacana (LFM) and the Sinaloa Federation, but developments in the past three months have strained the relationship between the three, with the once-powerful alliance reduced to a non-aggression agreement between the Gulf cartel and its two former allies. LFM fell out of the Sinaloa Federation’s favor after attempting to move in on the methamphetamine production and trafficking market in Jalisco and Colima states after the death of Sinaloa No. 3 Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal in July. LFM’s defense of its territory in its home state of Michoacan also has drawn Sinaloa’s ire. The Sinaloa Federation has been of little help to the Gulf cartel in recent months as Sinaloa has been dedicating large amounts of its resources and focus to the conflict in Juarez. The group traditionally has held very little influence in the Tamaulipas region.

Further leaving the Gulf cartel exposed, in the months leading up to the death of Tony Tormenta, Mexican federal security forces dealt a serious blow to cells associated with the Gulf cartel leader, arresting more than 50 operatives and making numerous weapons and cash seizures. This leaves the remaining Gulf cartel leader, Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez, and the cells associated with him extremely vulnerable to any Los Zetas offensive.

With the increase in tensions and posturing between Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel along with the influx of Mexican federal security forces in the region, violence in the Tamaulipas border area is likely to escalate in the weeks to come. The deployment of more federal security forces increases the likelihood that they will come in contact with one of the two criminal groups operating in the region, resulting in firefights between criminals and security forces. Additionally, aside from the obvious risk of bodily harm from being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, this likely increase in fighting and along with the expanded presence of security forces will present significant disruptions to businesses and visitors in the region. Narco-blockades, a tactic both Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel use, create an elevated degree of risk of carjacking (especially for high-profile vehicles such as SUVs, trucks and tractor trailers) as well as logistical complications from the resulting traffic jams. Logistical issues also will arise from the 100 percent inspection rate at the military checkpoints that have been and will be established in the region and from the military personnel manning the checkpoints’ lack of training in interacting with civilians.



(click here to view interactive map)

Nov. 8

Soldiers in Zapopan, Jalisco state, killed two men and arrested another during a firefight at a suspected methamphetamine lab. A passerby was injured during the incident.
Unidentified gunmen killed the police commander of the municipality of Pabellon de Arteaga, Aguascalientes state, as he drove near his home.

Nov. 9

Police seized 531 kilograms (about 1,170 pounds) of marijuana from a steel shipment in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Authorities said the drugs arrived from Leon, Guanajuato state. No arrests were made during the incident.
Security forces in Acapulco, Guerrero state, discovered the decapitated bodies of two police officers near the settlement of La Venta. The victims’ tongues had been removed and both bodies bore signs of torture.
Police discovered several body parts in a plastic bag floating in a sewage ditch in Ecatepec, Mexico state. Local residents called the police after spotting a dog carrying a human hand in its mouth.
Soldiers in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, freed 10 kidnapped migrants and arrested six suspected kidnappers during a raid on a house.
Police in Puente de Ixtla, Morelos state, arrested a suspected associate of Edgar Valdez Villarreal. The suspect allegedly controlled drug trafficking routes through central Mexico.

Nov. 10

Suspected LFM members hung banners in Zitacuaro, Maravatio and Ciudad Hidalgo, Michoacan state, stating the cartel’s alleged intent to disband and seek a truce with the government.
Officers from the state attorney general’s office discovered the bodies of two men in a house allegedly owned by the Beltran Leyva Organization in Bosques de Las Lomas neighborhood of Mexico City.
Soldiers arrested two municipal policemen in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state, for allegedly surveilling a security forces raid on a motel.
Unidentified gunmen fired at the offices of the El Sur newspaper in Acapulco, Guerrero state. No injuries were reported.

Nov. 11

Unidentified attackers threw two grenades at the state security and roads offices in Gomez Palacio, Durango state. No injuries were reported in the attack.
Police found the body of a man in the trunk of an abandoned car in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The victim had been shot in the head.
Police in Santa Rosa, Morelos state, arrested three suspected high-ranking associates of Edgar Valdez Villarreal after a car chase that began in Oaxtepec, Morelos state, after the three suspects failed to stop at a police roadblock.

Nov. 12

One suspected cartel gunman was killed in a firefight with soldiers in the Terminal neighborhood in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The shooting began when a convoy of suspected gunmen did not heed the soldiers’ order to stop.
Three severed heads were discovered outside a municipal government office in Chalchihuites, Zacatecas state. A message claiming the crime was revenge for a previous homicide in Chalchihuites was left near the heads.
Police arrested seven people suspected of working as lookouts for Los Zetas in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.

Nov. 13

Police discovered the bodies of two men and a woman hanging from a bridge in Tepic, Nayarit state. A message was discovered near the bodies.
The bodies of two unidentified men were found in the trunk of an abandoned car in the municipality of Cuautla, Morelos state.
Unidentified gunmen killed a Chihuahua state prison official as he drove with his son in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. The child was injured during the attack.

Nov. 14

Police discovered five bodies in an orchard in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood of Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Five people were killed and eight were injured when a group of unidentified gunmen opened fire on patrons at a bar in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
22994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: November 16, 2010, 10:17:41 AM
Federal Deployment to Tamaulipas

The Mexican government is reported to have significantly augmented federal security forces in the northern Tamaulipas border region with a deployment of both Mexican army troops and Federal Police agents, bringing the number of federal security forces in the region to nearly 3,000. These forces, which have been arriving since Nov. 13, will be primarily deployed to the areas around Ciudad Mier, Camargo, Nuevo Guerrero, Miguel Aleman and Diaz Ordaz, or more generally in the rural stretch between the major metropolitan areas of Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo along the Tamaulipas-South Texas border. This deployment will be in addition to the Mexican Marine forces already deployed to the region, as well as the Mexican army operating in the military’s 7th and 8th zones, which are headquartered in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon and Reynosa, respectively. Additionally, there are reports that a Mexican special operations unit will be deployed from Mexico City to the Tamaulipas border region as well to conduct high-risk operations, possibly targeting high-value cartel targets. Military officials also have indicated that they will be establishing checkpoints in the region and will be inspecting 100 percent of both passenger and cargo vehicles.

Though the new deployment of federal forces to the area is sizable, the total number of federal forces in the region pales in comparison to other federal security operations, such as Coordinated Operation Chihuahua, which boasts close to 10,000 forces deployed primarily in northern Chihuahua. The Tamaulipas deployment also will allow particular branches of the military and Federal Police to have more specified roles in the operations. According to Mexican military officials, Mexican Marines will primarily be tasked with intelligence operations and to a lesser extent will conduct joint patrols with the army and Federal Police. The Federal Police will base the majority of their operations in more urban areas, including Reynosa, Matamoros and to a lesser extent Nuevo Laredo. Mexican army personnel will primarily be tasked with operations in the more rural areas, including checkpoints outside urban centers.

This deployment comes at a time when tensions between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas are high in large part due to the Nov. 5 death of Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas Guillen. Tony Tormenta’s death set in motion a likely offensive on the part of Los Zetas to retake control of the Tamaulipas-South Texas border region lost earlier in the year to the Gulf cartel and their allies in the New Federation.

Los Zetas have made bold moves in battleground like Ciudad Mier, Camargo and Miguel Aleman. The group has all but taken over portions of these towns, forcing residents to flee in the wake of Tony Tormenta’s death. One such brazen takeover reportedly occurred Nov. 5 in Ciudad Mier, where alleged members of Los Zetas were reported to be running through the streets screaming that all the residents in the area must vacate the city or be killed. More than 300 people are estimated to have left the city reportedly seeking shelter in nearby Miguel Aleman, where at least two temporary housing settlements have been set up. It appears that Los Zetas are using both of these small towns as a staging area for a possible assault on the much larger Reynosa metropolitan area some 65-80 kilometers (40-50 miles) to the southeast.

The death of Tony Tormenta could not have come at a worse time for the Gulf cartel. The Gulf cartel was part of the New Federation alliance which included La Familia Michoacana (LFM) and the Sinaloa Federation, but developments in the past three months have strained the relationship between the three, with the once-powerful alliance reduced to a non-aggression agreement between the Gulf cartel and its two former allies. LFM fell out of the Sinaloa Federation’s favor after attempting to move in on the methamphetamine production and trafficking market in Jalisco and Colima states after the death of Sinaloa No. 3 Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal in July. LFM’s defense of its territory in its home state of Michoacan also has drawn Sinaloa’s ire. The Sinaloa Federation has been of little help to the Gulf cartel in recent months as Sinaloa has been dedicating large amounts of its resources and focus to the conflict in Juarez. The group traditionally has held very little influence in the Tamaulipas region.

Further leaving the Gulf cartel exposed, in the months leading up to the death of Tony Tormenta, Mexican federal security forces dealt a serious blow to cells associated with the Gulf cartel leader, arresting more than 50 operatives and making numerous weapons and cash seizures. This leaves the remaining Gulf cartel leader, Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez, and the cells associated with him extremely vulnerable to any Los Zetas offensive.

With the increase in tensions and posturing between Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel along with the influx of Mexican federal security forces in the region, violence in the Tamaulipas border area is likely to escalate in the weeks to come. The deployment of more federal security forces increases the likelihood that they will come in contact with one of the two criminal groups operating in the region, resulting in firefights between criminals and security forces. Additionally, aside from the obvious risk of bodily harm from being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, this likely increase in fighting and along with the expanded presence of security forces will present significant disruptions to businesses and visitors in the region. Narco-blockades, a tactic both Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel use, create an elevated degree of risk of carjacking (especially for high-profile vehicles such as SUVs, trucks and tractor trailers) as well as logistical complications from the resulting traffic jams. Logistical issues also will arise from the 100 percent inspection rate at the military checkpoints that have been and will be established in the region and from the military personnel manning the checkpoints’ lack of training in interacting with civilians.



(click here to view interactive map)

Nov. 8

Soldiers in Zapopan, Jalisco state, killed two men and arrested another during a firefight at a suspected methamphetamine lab. A passerby was injured during the incident.
Unidentified gunmen killed the police commander of the municipality of Pabellon de Arteaga, Aguascalientes state, as he drove near his home.

Nov. 9

Police seized 531 kilograms (about 1,170 pounds) of marijuana from a steel shipment in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Authorities said the drugs arrived from Leon, Guanajuato state. No arrests were made during the incident.
Security forces in Acapulco, Guerrero state, discovered the decapitated bodies of two police officers near the settlement of La Venta. The victims’ tongues had been removed and both bodies bore signs of torture.
Police discovered several body parts in a plastic bag floating in a sewage ditch in Ecatepec, Mexico state. Local residents called the police after spotting a dog carrying a human hand in its mouth.
Soldiers in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, freed 10 kidnapped migrants and arrested six suspected kidnappers during a raid on a house.
Police in Puente de Ixtla, Morelos state, arrested a suspected associate of Edgar Valdez Villarreal. The suspect allegedly controlled drug trafficking routes through central Mexico.

Nov. 10

Suspected LFM members hung banners in Zitacuaro, Maravatio and Ciudad Hidalgo, Michoacan state, stating the cartel’s alleged intent to disband and seek a truce with the government.
Officers from the state attorney general’s office discovered the bodies of two men in a house allegedly owned by the Beltran Leyva Organization in Bosques de Las Lomas neighborhood of Mexico City.
Soldiers arrested two municipal policemen in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state, for allegedly surveilling a security forces raid on a motel.
Unidentified gunmen fired at the offices of the El Sur newspaper in Acapulco, Guerrero state. No injuries were reported.

Nov. 11

Unidentified attackers threw two grenades at the state security and roads offices in Gomez Palacio, Durango state. No injuries were reported in the attack.
Police found the body of a man in the trunk of an abandoned car in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The victim had been shot in the head.
Police in Santa Rosa, Morelos state, arrested three suspected high-ranking associates of Edgar Valdez Villarreal after a car chase that began in Oaxtepec, Morelos state, after the three suspects failed to stop at a police roadblock.

Nov. 12

One suspected cartel gunman was killed in a firefight with soldiers in the Terminal neighborhood in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The shooting began when a convoy of suspected gunmen did not heed the soldiers’ order to stop.
Three severed heads were discovered outside a municipal government office in Chalchihuites, Zacatecas state. A message claiming the crime was revenge for a previous homicide in Chalchihuites was left near the heads.
Police arrested seven people suspected of working as lookouts for Los Zetas in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.

Nov. 13

Police discovered the bodies of two men and a woman hanging from a bridge in Tepic, Nayarit state. A message was discovered near the bodies.
The bodies of two unidentified men were found in the trunk of an abandoned car in the municipality of Cuautla, Morelos state.
Unidentified gunmen killed a Chihuahua state prison official as he drove with his son in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. The child was injured during the attack.

Nov. 14

Police discovered five bodies in an orchard in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood of Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Five people were killed and eight were injured when a group of unidentified gunmen opened fire on patrons at a bar in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
22995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Infrastructure on: November 16, 2010, 08:49:42 AM
American Superconducter (AMSC on the NASDAQ) has some very interesting technology for fixing the electrical grid.
22996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: November 16, 2010, 08:30:40 AM
1) "eliminating tax breaks" such as the deductibility of health insurance provided by employers is a huge tax increase.  Eliminating any tax break is a tax increase.

2) There are some huge military cuts in here, something which I oppose.


22997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Infrastructure on: November 15, 2010, 06:14:11 PM
Like it says  smiley

GM, would you please kick this thread off with what you posted in the China thread today?
22998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Haste makes waste? on: November 15, 2010, 05:43:17 PM
a) This is a VERY important theme; into which thread should we continue this discussion?

b) BTW, our electrical system is very badly overloaded and out of date.

c) See pictures on post of June 29 (page two of this thread):
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1138.50
22999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 15, 2010, 11:33:49 AM
Also, IIRC somewhere in this thread there are a bunch of fotos of Chinese high rises that have simply fallen over , , ,
23000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This too is China on: November 15, 2010, 08:08:26 AM


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