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22951  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 26, 2010, 08:12:20 PM
Profoundly grateful for a week on my own with our two children-- and grateful for Cindy's return tomorrow night.
22952  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF CANCER on: October 26, 2010, 08:10:55 PM
Guide Dog:

Yes C-Growling Dog cleared this with me.  Thank you for noticing the question presented.
22953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: October 26, 2010, 07:38:37 PM
As well as give the nervous willies to anyone thinking of doing an Osirak on a budding Venezuelan nuke program.
22954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Alaska Senate race on: October 26, 2010, 12:01:54 PM
BANKS, Alaska — The candidate treated like the front-runner in the Alaska Senate race is one not actually on the ballot.


Among the ways Senator Lisa Murkowski’s campaign is trying to encourage people to write in her name on the ballot — and spell it correctly:

• Rubber wristbands that read, “Lisa Murkowski. Fill it in. Write it in.”

• A jingle that spells out her name and features the words, “Fill in the oval, write it on the line.”

• Campaign posters made to look like ballots with her name written in and the oval beside “Write-in” filled in.

• Small handheld signs depicting a hand with her name on it.

• T-shirts depicting a ballot with her name written in.


 
JNeither Joe Miller nor Scott McAdams, for instance, was invited on stage here at the annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives last week. The only candidate allowed to address the 4,000 in attendance — and the candidate the federation eventually endorsed — was the incumbent, Lisa Murkowski, the Republican now running as a write-in candidate.

“You humble me, you honor me,” Ms. Murkowski told the crowd. “I will fight for you as long as I am able.”

Just weeks ago, Ms. Murkowski’s bid looked like a long shot. And it still may be — reliable polls in Alaska are few and far between.

But since being embarrassed in an upset by Mr. Miller, a protégé of Sarah Palin’s, in the Republican primary, Ms. Murkowski has defied conventional wisdom and her colleagues in the Republican establishment by waging a credible race as a write-in candidate. Analysts and Alaskans now say she could overcome the odds and logistical hurdles to win, something no senator has done since Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in 1954. Or she could be a spoiler.

Democrats insist that their nominee, Mr. McAdams, can pull out a victory in this heavily Republican state if he can paint Ms. Murkowski as too conservative, and her write-in campaign as too risky, for Democrats who might defect to her out of fear of a victory by Mr. Miller.

The night after the federation conference, it was Mr. Miller and Mr. McAdams who appeared together for a debate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Ms. Murkowski was nowhere to be found, but that did not stop the other two from attacking her: She is too liberal. No, she is too conservative.

“Maybe we ought to debate Lisa for the rest of the night,” Mr. McAdams quipped at one point. “‘What do you think, Joe?’”

A few moments later, when the candidates were supposed to ask each other questions, Mr. Miller said, “Scott, I’m tempted just to ask questions about Lisa.”

Later, the moderator inadvertently addressed one of them as “Scott Miller.”

Ms. Murkowski has attended most debates, but in a year filled with unconventional races across the country, hers is among the most unlikely. She has shed her sometimes mechanical public presence and struck populist notes — she even sang during a stump speech in Fairbanks last week.

“Fill in the oval, write it on the line,” the senator sang in a shaky contralto, striving to create an Election Day anthem out of a supporter’s original tune, called “Cinderella.”

Mr. Miller remains the presumptive favorite, but his lead has narrowed after a string of setbacks since his surprising primary victory.

News reports in Alaska have raised questions about everything from farm subsidies, unemployment and government health care benefits and even a low-income fishing license that Mr. Miller or his family members have received. Critics say the reports have undermined his credibility when he argues against the federal health care bill and unemployment benefits or vows to eliminate the Department of Education and eventually privatize Social Security.

Over the weekend, after Mr. Miller refused for weeks to answer questions about disciplinary action taken against him when he worked as a lawyer for Fairbanks North Star Borough, a judge ordered records of the incident released as soon as Tuesday. (The ruling also came after Mr. Miller’s security guards handcuffed Tony Hopfinger, the editor of Alaska Dispatch, an online news site, when he tried to ask Mr. Miller about the matter at a campaign event.)

Mr. Miller may still fight the judge’s order, though in a debate in Anchorage on Sunday, he admitted to being suspended from work for an ethics violation in 2008 for using government computers for political purposes. He left the job in the summer of 2009.

Questions about transparency have followed the candidate. In addition to his reluctance to discuss the ethics violation, he has also brushed off the handcuffing of the journalist, saying he played no role in the incident. Mr. Miller lives down a series of long gravel roads at the edge of Fairbanks. Security cameras are positioned to monitor the entrance to his house, which sits out of sight.

Asked about the security cameras in a brief interview, Mr. Miller initially asked a reporter to identify who revealed their existence. When the reporter declined to do so, Mr. Miller noted that he had once been a federal magistrate judge.

“There were security issues on occasion while I was U.S. magistrate judge,” he said.

While Mr. Miller worries that Ms. Murkowski will win Republican votes, Democrats hope to cast her as too conservative.

Alaska’s other senator, Mark Begich, a Democrat, who has had several staff members join or volunteer for the McAdams campaign, noted that Mr. McAdams, the mayor of Sitka, might need only a third of all votes to win. Presuming a 60 percent turnout, that is about 100,000 votes.

Underscoring both sides’ concerns over the Murkowski campaign, lawyers for state Democrats and Republicans have joined in a lawsuit accusing the State Division of Elections of improperly providing lists of write-in candidates to all voting locations and, in at least one polling place, in Homer, posting the lists inside voting booths.

A letter from the state elections director, Gail Fenumiai, written last week before the lawsuit was filed, said the lists were intended to be provided only to voters who requested them, not posted inside booths.

On Monday, after weeks of silence in the race, Ms. Palin used her Facebook page to attack Ms. Murkowski for comments the senator made in a televised debate the night before in Anchorage. Ms. Murkowski had raised the subject of Mr. Miller’s military service and questioned whether his conduct in the campaign was honorable.

“I find it astonishing that a sitting U.S. senator from Alaska would challenge the honor of a decorated combat veteran,” Ms. Palin wrote.

Ms. Murkowski is having to position herself carefully.

Asked whether she would do more to win Democratic votes, the senator said in an interview that she would not change her party. But, she said, “I’ve made it very clear that when I go back to Washington it will be because Alaskans have sent me back, not Republicans.”

She went on to name a range of constituencies she was courting, from libertarians and environmentalists to Democrats and Republicans. A moment later, just to be safe, an aide leaned in to clarify that she was indeed still a Republican.

22955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Reality hits BO over head with baseball bat on: October 26, 2010, 11:53:27 AM
Taking Harder Stance Toward China, Obama Lines Up Allies
By MARK LANDLER and SEWELL CHAN
Published: October 25, 2010WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, facing a confrontational relationship with China on exchange rates, trade and security issues, is stiffening its approach toward Beijing, seeking allies to confront a newly assertive power that officials now say has little intention of working with the United States.

In a shift from its assiduous one-on-one courtship of Beijing, the administration is trying to line up coalitions — among China’s next-door neighbors and far-flung trading partners — to present Chinese leaders with a unified front on thorny issues like the currency and their country’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The advantages and limitations of this new approach were on display over the weekend at a meeting of the world’s largest economies in South Korea. The United States won support for a concrete pledge to reduce trade imbalances, which will put more pressure on China to allow its currency to rise in value.

But Germany, Italy and Russia balked at an American proposal to place numerical limits on these imbalances, a step that would have further isolated Beijing. That left the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, to make an unscheduled stop in China on his way home from South Korea to discuss the deepening tensions over exchange rates with a top Chinese finance official.

Administration officials speak of an alarming loss of trust and confidence between China and the United States over the past two years, forcing them to scale back hopes of working with the Chinese on major challenges like climate change, nuclear nonproliferation and a new global economic order.

The latest source of tension is over reports that China is withholding shipments of rare-earth minerals, which the United States uses to make advanced equipment like guided missiles. Administration officials, clearly worried, said they did not know whether Beijing’s motivation was strategic or economic.

“This administration came in with one dominant idea: make China a global partner in facing global challenges,” said David Shambaugh, director of the China policy program at George Washington University. “China failed to step up and play that role. Now, they realize they’re dealing with an increasingly narrow-minded, self-interested, truculent, hyper-nationalist and powerful country.”

To counter what some officials view as a surge of Chinese triumphalism, the United States is reinvigorating cold war alliances with Japan and South Korea, and shoring up its presence elsewhere in Asia. This week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will visit Vietnam for the second time in four months, to attend an East Asian summit meeting likely to be dominated by the China questions.

Next month, President Obama plans to tour four major Asian democracies — Japan, Indonesia, India and South Korea — while bypassing China. The itinerary is not meant as a snub: Mr. Obama has already been to Beijing once, and his visit to Indonesia has long been delayed. But the symbolism is not lost on administration officials.

Jeffrey A. Bader, a major China policy adviser in the White House, said China’s muscle-flexing became especially noticeable after the 2008 economic crisis, in part because Beijing’s faster rebound led to a “widespread judgment that the U.S. was a declining power and that China was a rising power.”

But the administration, he said, is determined “to effectively counteract that impression by renewing American leadership.”

Political factors at home have contributed to the administration’s tougher posture. With the economy sputtering and unemployment high, Beijing has become an all-purpose target. In this Congressional election season, candidates in at least 30 races are demonizing China as a threat to American jobs.

At a time of partisan paralysis in Congress, anger over China’s currency has been one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement, culminating in the House’s overwhelming vote in September to threaten China with tariffs on its exports if Beijing did not let its currency, the renminbi, appreciate.

The trouble is that China’s own domestic forces may cause it to dig in its heels. With the Communist Party embarking on a transfer of leadership from President Hu Jintao to his anointed successor, Xi Jinping, the leadership is wary of changes that could hobble China’s growth.

There are also increasingly sharp divisions between China’s civilian leaders and elements of the People’s Liberation Army. Many Chinese military officers are openly hostile toward the United States, convinced that its recent naval exercises in the Yellow Sea amount to a policy of encircling China.

Even the administration’s efforts to collaborate with China on climate change and nonproliferation are viewed with suspicion by some in Beijing.

Mr. Obama’s aides, many of them veterans of the Clinton years, understand that especially on economic issues, there are elements of brinkmanship in the relationship, which can imply more acrimony than actually exists.

But the White House was concerned enough that last month it sent a high-level delegation to Beijing that included Mr. Bader; Lawrence H. Summers, the departing director of the National Economic Council; and Thomas E. Donilon, who has since been named national security adviser.

“We were struck by the seriousness with which they shared our commitment to managing differences and recognizing that our two countries were going to have a very large effect on the global economy,” Mr. Summers said.

Just before the meeting, China began allowing the renminbi to rise at a somewhat faster rate, though its total appreciation, since Beijing announced in June that it would loosen exchange-rate controls, still amounts to less than 3 percent. Economists estimate that the currency is undervalued by at least 20 percent.

Meanwhile, trade tensions between the two sides are flaring anew. The administration recently agreed to investigate charges by the United Steelworkers that China was violating trade laws with its state support of clean-energy technologies. That prompted China’s top energy official, Zhang Guobao, to accuse the administration of trying to win votes — a barb that angered White House officials.

Of the halt in shipments of rare-earth minerals, Mr. Summers said, “There are serious questions, both in the economic and in the strategy realm, that are going to require close study within our government.”

Beijing had earlier withheld these shipments to Japan, after a spat over a Chinese fishing vessel that collided with Japanese patrol boats near disputed islands. It was one of several recent provocative moves by Beijing toward its neighbors — including one that prompted the administration to enter the fray.

In Hanoi in July, Mrs. Clinton said the United States would help facilitate talks between Beijing and its neighbors over disputed islands in the South China Sea. Chinese officials were livid when it became clear that the United States had lined up 12 countries behind the American position.

With President Hu set to visit Washington early next year, administration officials said Mrs. Clinton would strike a more harmonious note in Asia this week. For now, they said, the United States feels it has made its point.

“The signal to Beijing ought to be clear,” Mr. Shambaugh said. “The U.S. has other closer, deeper friends in the region.”

22956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / TIPs on: October 26, 2010, 11:50:06 AM
Economist Scott Grannis, of whom I have spoken quite favorably on many occasions, persuaded me of the merits of TIPs a couple of years ago.  I am quite glad to report that I put a not insignificant % of my savings into them  grin

Here is POTH's take on them today-- of course, it is POTH so take the economic theory with a kilo of salt.

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

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/26/business/26bond.html?_r=1&th&emc=th
22957  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Russian S-300 missile system on: October 26, 2010, 11:43:45 AM
Venezuela - Chávez announces purchase of Russian missile system



Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced the purchase of the Russian S-300 missile
system on 17 October 2010. Experts speculate Chávez may buy two Antónov 74 planes as
well. Iran previously attempted to buy the same missile system but was rejected in
accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1929.


22958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Network Intel on: October 26, 2010, 11:41:20 AM
Venezuela - Chávez announces purchase of Russian missile system



Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced the purchase of the Russian S-300 missile
system on 17 October 2010. Experts speculate Chávez may buy two Antónov 74 planes as
well. Iran previously attempted to buy the same missile system but was rejected in
accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1929.


22959  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for Teachers, Schools, and Training Partners on: October 26, 2010, 11:37:16 AM
Gints is also known as Baltic Dog; several members of the Tribe have come out of his crew.
22960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 26, 2010, 09:28:29 AM
ROTFLMAO
22961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fox: Dingy Harry rides again on: October 25, 2010, 08:14:11 PM
An aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly lied to federal immigration and FBI agents and submitted false federal documents to the Department of Homeland Security to cover up her illegal seven-year marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation, FoxNews.com has learned.

Diana Tejada, Reid’s Hispanic Press Secretary, admitted to receiving payment for “some of her expenses” in exchange for fraudulently marrying Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini in 2003, strictly so he could obtain permanent U.S. residency, according to court documents.

Tarhini, now 37, was held in jail and at an immigration detention center in connection with his 2009 indictment on felony charges, documents show. He pleaded guilty to entering a fraudulent marriage to evade immigration laws — a Class D felony — in November 2009, and he was deported in March 2010.

Tejada, now 28, was never charged for her role in the crime.

“We did not charge the woman, and of course we don’t discuss the reasons we don’t charge people,” said Bob Troester, spokesman for the Western District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, which began as an FBI investigation out of the Oklahoma City Joint Terrorism Task Force.

“There’s multiple factors that go into charging decisions. She wasn’t charged and we can’t go beyond that.”

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement would not comment on why it took five years to investigate the couple's marriage.

As recently as five weeks ago, on Sept. 21, 2010, Tejada appeared as a guest on a Spanish-language radio program in her official capacity as a spokeswoman for Harry Reid.

Monday evening, Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley said Tejada was no longer employed by Reid’s office. When asked when Tejada left Reid’s services, the spokesman had no comment.

Manley provided this statement to FoxNews.com:

“Our office was not previously aware of these allegations and, following an internal investigation, the staffer at issue is no longer with our office. The conduct alleged, which took place several years before the staffer worked for Senator Reid, was clearly wrong. But the bottom line remains that this story was a desperation measure by partisan Republicans, who have stooped to slinging mud about junior staffers to score points in the waning days of her campaign.”

In court documents, Tejada, who was also the Press Secretary of Hispanic Media for the Senate Majority Conference Committee, is referred to as “an uncharged coconspirator in the crime of perjury, filing false immigration documents, the crime of sham marriage.”

According to interviews and court records obtained by FoxNews.com, Tejada knowingly filed false documents with the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services; lied in in-person interviews with ICE and FBI agents; and submitted fraudulent visa application affidavits and marriage license documents — all in attempt to use her status as an American citizen to get Tarhini permanent residency.

As a result of her actions, according to court documents, Tarhini was able to obtain a work permit.

“I don’t honestly know the reason why they chose to prosecute Bassam and not her,” said Jeffrey Byers, Tarhini’s criminal attorney.

“I don’t think they could’ve prosecuted the case without one of the two of them saying something, but I suspect they chose to work with the American citizen other than Bassam.”

A Justice Department source familiar with the investigation said:

"As exhibited in the court documents, the case prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Oklahoma City was a straightforward case involving two individuals who entered into a fraudulent marriage during college in order for one to evade immigration laws and obtain lawful residence."

Tarhini entered the U.S. in 2000 on a student visa to attend Oklahoma City University, where Tejada was also a student. They became friends and married in September 2003 so he could avoid compulsory service in the Lebanese National Army, Tejada later told officials. She was 21 years old at the time; he was 30.

Click here to see a copy of Tejada and Tarhini's marriage certificate.

Two months after their marriage, Tejada submitted an affidavit sponsoring Tarhini’s request for adjustment of status, affirming on his I-485 application for a green card — under penalty of perjury — that she was his wife.

Court records show that Tejada signed numerous affidavits fraudulently representing her marriage, including forms documenting her financial and employment information along with a signed obligation to support Tarhini.

As part of the process, documents show, she and Tarhini attended an August 31, 2004, meeting at Citizenship and Immigration Services in Oklahoma City, where they misrepresented their marriage to immigration officials.

The next year, Tarhini stayed in Oklahoma while Tejada moved to Washington D.C., where she began working as a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza, court and public records show.

In 2008, five years after he filed his visa application, Tarhini filed a suit against ICE officials to force a decision regarding the application — a strategy commonly employed when visa decisions appear to be taking an inordinate amount of time.

In 2008, sources with knowledge of the case told FoxNews.com, the FBI — working with the Oklahoma City Joint Terrorism Task Force — sent what’s called a collateral request to ICE, asking them to track down Tejada to interview her about Tarhini.

At this point, Tarhini was a subject of interest in an Oklahoma JTTF investigation, sources said. 

In May or June 2008, a source told FoxNews.com, Tejada was interviewed by ICE and FBI agents in Washington, and she maintained that her marriage was legitimate.

In October 2008, Tejada began working for Reid.

On Nov 3, 2008, ICE and FBI agents re-interviewed Tejada in Washington, according to documents and interviews.  This time, sources said, agents presented a slew of evidence against her and Tarhini, and Tejada broke down and confessed that her marriage was a lie, carried out to get Tarhini U.S. residency.

According to court records, she also told authorities that she and Tarhini had never dated nor consummated their marriage.

She told officials that she and Tarhini had discussed divorce, but they agreed to wait a while longer — until December 2008 — to see if his visa would be approved, records state.

In the presence of the federal agents, Tejada withdrew her visa petition for Tarhini, stopping his application to become a permanent resident, and signed a sworn affidavit saying that the marriage was a sham.

Tejada, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting, expressed concern about her job and said she was worried about Reid's reaction to her sham marriage.  The federal agents told her she had an obligation to tell Reid, and sources said they believed she would inform her boss.

The highest level of management inside the Department of Homeland Security was aware that she worked for Reid, multiple sources confirmed, and following protocol, the majority leader should have been informed of the investigation through those channels, as well.

But in July 2009, when an ICE agent testifying at Tarhini’s preliminary deportation hearing was asked specifically about Tejada’s employer, the agent did not say it was the U.S. Senate.

ICE Special Agent Rebecca Perkins: “Currently she is employed with the — a Hispanic center organization.”

Tarhini's Defense Counsel, Jeffrey Byers: “Is that La Raza? Does that sound familiar?"

Perkins: “I don’t know.”

Byers: “It’s a — it’s a — it's something that is a public service group for the Hispanic community. Is that a fair statement, or something to that degree?”

Perkins: “Yes”

According to sources with knowledge of the November 2008 meeting, Tejada also told ICE and FBI agents that she was concerned about some of Tarhini’s associates, including the best man at her wedding, a Pakistani national named Amer Awli, whom she described as “very secretive.” Awli's current whereabouts are unknown.

Following Tarhini’s arrest in 2009, he was interviewed by FBI agents who sources say asked about his ties to extremists groups. Some sources said they determined he did not have ties to any terror group, but other sources close to the case said that could not be ruled out.

“Not all of my cases involve the FBI,” said Tarhini’s immigration attorney, Timothy Lee Cook. “Certainly, there was something out there that caught their attention.”

When asked what that might be, Cook said:  “FBI’s not going to tell anybody that. And believe me, I asked.”

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told FoxNews.com via email, “We have no comment.”

ICE provided details of Tarhini’s deportation but referred additional questions to the Western District of Oklahoma's U.S. Attorney's Office.

On March 20, 2009, Tarhini’s visa application for status as a lawful permanent resident was denied due to fraud and misrepresentation of his marriage to Tejada, court records state.

That same day, Tarhini was administratively arrested by ICE "due to failure to maintain his non-immigrant student status and fraudulent marriage," court records state. "He was no longer attending the Oklahoma City University, thus violating his immigration status." 

In August 2009 Tarhini was indicted on two felony charges: Entering into a marriage to evade immigration laws, and subscribing to false statements.  As part of a plea deal last November, he pleaded guilty to the first charge, and the second was dropped.

Tarhini was sentenced to time served and three years' supervised release. ICE spokeswoman Gillian Brigham confirmed to FoxNews.com that Tarhini was “removed” from the U.S. on March 3, 2010.

Tejada made $52,451.60 last year working for Reid.

Last month Tejada spoke in her official capacity as Spokesperson, Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as a guest on a Spanish-language radio program’s immigration-themed special on the DREAM Act, which included a section in which the host answered listeners’ questions “about the do’s and don’ts of applying for residency and naturalization.”

Tejada filed for divorce, “alleging incompatibility,” on March 16, 2010. The divorce was finalized on July 6.

Tejada did not return requests for comment on this article.

22962  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 25, 2010, 04:09:42 PM
Pau, Chad:

I confess to being irritated by the Brown Power tatoo he recently got and the tone of some things said.
22963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hot Air in CA on: October 25, 2010, 10:06:14 AM
The Left Angeles Times, a.k.a. Pravda on the Beach (POTB) says this morning that Prop 23, which would suspend the state's global warming law until unemployment is 5.5% is trailing 48 to 32.

The clusterfcuk continues , , ,
22964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: October 25, 2010, 08:24:01 AM
And, if I am not mistaken, also entering the calculus should be the enviro consequences of making the battery, generating the electiricity that charges it, etc.  Yes?
22965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Emasculation of Men In Contempory Society on: October 25, 2010, 08:20:39 AM
ZG:

You touch upon a theme near and dear to my heart.  It has been addressed a bit in threads concerning Gender, Jungian Psychology, and a few others, but I like the idea of it having a thread of its very own.

CD
22966  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 25, 2010, 08:17:52 AM
I didn't get to get to see it cheesy  I suspect though that he will find a way to make money  cheesy
22967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 25, 2010, 08:08:44 AM
I was aware of the points made here.  Convenient to have the facts in one place.  I've just forwarded this in search of moving some people's understanding forward.
22968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Short sales resisted on: October 25, 2010, 07:16:06 AM
PHOENIX — Bank of America and GMAC are firing up their formidable foreclosure machines again today, after a brief pause.

But hard-pressed homeowners like Lydia Sweetland are asking why lenders often balk at a less disruptive solution: short sales, which allow owners to sell deeply devalued homes for less than what remains on their mortgage.

Ms. Sweetland, 47, tried such a sale this summer out of desperation. She had lost her high-paying job and drained her once-flush retirement savings, and her bank, GMAC, wouldn’t modify her mortgage. After seven months of being unable to pay her mortgage, she decided that a short sale would give her more time to move out of her Phoenix home and damage her credit rating less than a foreclosure.

She owes $206,000 and found a buyer who would pay $200,000. Last Friday, GMAC rejected that offer and said it would foreclose in seven days, even though, according to Ms. Sweetland’s broker, the bank estimates it will make $19,000 less on a foreclosure than on a short sale.

“I guess I could salute and say, ‘O.K., I’m walking, here’s the keys,’ ” says Ms. Sweetland, as she sits in a plastic Adirondack chair on her patio. “But I need a little time, and I don’t want to just leave the house vacant. I loved this neighborhood.”

GMAC declined to be interviewed about Ms. Sweetland’s case.

The halt in most foreclosures the last few weeks gave a hint of hope to homeowners like Ms. Sweetland, who found breathing room to pursue alternatives. Consumer advocates took the view that this might pressure banks to offer mortgage modifications on better terms and perhaps drive interest in short sales, which are rising sharply in many corners of the nation.

But some major lenders took a quick inventory of their foreclosure practices and insisted their processes were sound. They now seem intent on resuming foreclosures. And that could have a profound effect on many homeowners.

In Arizona, thousands of homeowners have turned to short sales to avoid foreclosures, and many end up running a daunting procedural gantlet. Several of the largest lenders have set up complicated and balky application systems.

Concerns about fraud are one of the reasons lenders are so careful about short sales. Sometimes well-off homeowners want to portray their finances as dire and cut their losses on a property. In other instances, distressed homeowners try to make a short sale to a relative, who would then sell it back to them (a practice that is illegal). A recent industry report estimates that short sale fraud occurs in at least 2 percent of sales and costs banks about $300 million annually.

Short sales are also hindered when homeowners fail to forward the proper papers, have tax liens or cannot find a buyer.

Because of such concerns, homeowners often are instructed that they must be delinquent and they must apply for a modification first, even if chances of approval are slim. The aversion to short sales also leads banks to take many months to process applications, and some lenders set unrealistically high sales prices — known as broker price opinions — and hire workers who say they are poorly trained.

As a result, quite a few homeowners seeking short sales — banks will not provide precise numbers — topple into foreclosure, sometimes, critics say, for reasons that are hard to understand. Ms. Sweetland and her broker say they are confounded by her foreclosure, because in Arizona’s depressed real estate market, foreclosed homes often sit vacant for many months before banks are able to resell them.

“Banks are historically reluctant to do short sales, fearing that somehow the homeowner is getting an advantage on them,” said Diane E. Thompson, of counsel to the National Consumer Law Center. “There’s this irrational belief that if you foreclose and hold on to the property for six months, somehow prices will rebound.”

Homeowners, advocates and realty agents offer particularly pointed criticism of Bank of America, the nation’s largest servicer of mortgages, and a recipient of billions of dollars in federal bailout aid. Its holdings account for 31 percent of the pending foreclosures in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and Scottsdale, according to an analysis for The Arizona Republic.

The bank instructs real estate agents to use its computer program to evaluate short sales. But in three cases observed by The New York Times in collaboration with two real estate agents, the bank’s system repeatedly asked for and lost the same information and generated inaccurate responses.

In half a dozen more cases examined by The New York Times, Bank of America rejected short sale offers, foreclosed and auctioned off houses at lower prices.

=======





“When I hear that a client’s mortgage is held by Bank of America, I just sigh. Our chances of getting an approval for them just went from 90 percent to 50-50,” said Benjamin Toma, who has a family-run real estate agency in Phoenix.

Bank of America officials also declined interview requests. A Bank of America spokeswoman said in an e-mail that the bank had processed 61,000 short sales nationwide this year; she declined to provide numbers for Arizona or to discuss criticisms of the company’s processing.

Fannie Mae, the mortgage finance company with federal backing, gives cash incentives to encourage servicers, who are affiliated with banks and who oversee great bundles of delinquent mortgages, to approve short sales.

But less obvious financial incentives can push toward a foreclosure rather than a short sale. Servicers can reap high fees from foreclosures. And lenders can try to collect on private mortgage insurance.

Some advocates and real estate agents also point to an April 2009 regulatory change in an obscure federal accounting law. The change, in effect, allowed banks to foreclose on a home without having to write down a loss until that home was sold. By contrast, if a bank agrees to a short sale, it must mark the loss immediately.

Short sales, to be sure, are no free ride for homeowners. They take a hit to their credit ratings, although for three to five years rather than seven after a foreclosure. An owner seeking a short sale must satisfy a laundry list of conditions, including making a detailed disclosure of income, tax and credit liens. And owners must prove that they have no connection to the buyer.

Still, bank decision-making, at least from a homeowner’s perspective, often appears arbitrary. That is certainly the view of Nicholas Yannuzzi, who after 30 years in Arizona still talks with a Philadelphia rasp. Mr. Yannuzzi has owned five houses over time, without any financial problems. When his wife was diagnosed with bone cancer, he put 20 percent down and bought a ranch house in North Scottsdale so that she would not have to climb stairs.

In the last few years, his wife died, he lost his job and he used his retirement fund to pay his mortgage for five months. His bank, Wells Fargo, denied his mortgage modification request and then his request for a short sale.

The bank officer told him that Fannie Mae, which held the mortgage, would not take a discount. At the end of last week, he was waiting to be locked out of his home.

“I’m a proud man. I’ve worked since I was 20 years old,” he said. “But I’ve run out of my 79 weeks of unemployment, so that’s it.”

He shrugged. “I try to keep in the frame of mind that a lot of people have it worse than me.”

Back in Phoenix, Ms. Sweetland’s real estate agent, Sherry Rampy, appeared to receive good news last week. GMAC re-examined her client’s application and suggested it might be approved.

But the bank attached a condition: Ms. Sweetland must come up with $2,000 in closing costs or pay $100 a month for 50 months to the bank. Ms. Sweetland, however, is flat broke.

A late afternoon desert sun angles across her Pasadena neighborhood.

“After this, I’ll never buy again,” Ms. Sweetland says. “This is not the American dream. This is not my American dream.”

22969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What the US Navy is doing in the Desert on: October 24, 2010, 04:39:16 PM
Thanks Pappy.  My dad was in the Seabees in New Guineau in WW2.
22970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Wikileaks on: October 24, 2010, 11:41:44 AM
LONDON — Julian Assange moves like a hunted man. In a noisy Ethiopian restaurant in London’s rundown Paddington district, he pitches his voice barely above a whisper to foil the Western intelligence agencies he fears.

He demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own as other men change shirts. He checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends.

“By being determined to be on this path, and not to compromise, I’ve wound up in an extraordinary situation,” Mr. Assange said over lunch last Sunday, when he arrived sporting a woolen beanie and a wispy stubble and trailing a youthful entourage that included a filmmaker assigned to document any unpleasant surprises.

In his remarkable journey to notoriety, Mr. Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowers’ Web site, sees the next few weeks as his most hazardous. Now he is making his most brazen disclosure yet: 391,832 secret documents on the Iraqi war. He held a news conference in London on Saturday, saying that the release “constituted the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered the public record.”

Twelve weeks ago, he posted on his organization’s Web site some 77,000 classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict.

Much has changed since 2006, when Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, used years of computer hacking and what friends call a near genius I.Q. to establish WikiLeaks, redefining whistle-blowing by gathering secrets in bulk, storing them beyond the reach of governments and others determined to retrieve them, then releasing them instantly, and globally.

Now it is not just governments that denounce him: some of his own comrades are abandoning him for what they see as erratic and imperious behavior, and a nearly delusional grandeur unmatched by an awareness that the digital secrets he reveals can have a price in flesh and blood.

Several WikiLeaks colleagues say he alone decided to release the Afghan documents without removing the names of Afghan intelligence sources for NATO troops. “We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he spoke about it afterwards,” said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a core WikiLeaks volunteer and a member of Iceland’s Parliament. “If he could just focus on the important things he does, it would be better.”

He is also being investigated in connection with accusations of rape and molestation involving two Swedish women. Mr. Assange has denied the allegations, saying the relations were consensual. But prosecutors in Sweden have yet to formally approve charges or dismiss the case eight weeks after the complaints against Mr. Assange were filed, damaging his quest for a secure base for himself and WikiLeaks. Though he characterizes the claims as “a smear campaign,” the scandal has compounded the pressures of his cloaked life.

“When it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a book, the realization dawns that perhaps the situation has become a little more stressful than you would like,” he said over the London lunch.

Exposing Secrets

Mr. Assange has come a long way from an unsettled childhood in Australia as a self-acknowledged social misfit who narrowly avoided prison after being convicted on 25 charges of computer hacking in 1995. History is punctuated by spies, defectors and others who revealed the most inflammatory secrets of their age. Mr. Assange has become that figure for the Internet era, with as yet unreckoned consequences for himself and for the keepers of the world’s secrets.

“I’ve been waiting 40 years for someone to disclose information on a scale that might really make a difference,” said Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed a 1,000-page secret study of the Vietnam War in 1971 that became known as the Pentagon Papers.

Mr. Ellsberg said he saw kindred spirits in Mr. Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old former Army intelligence operative under detention in Quantico, Va., suspected of leaking the Iraq and Afghan documents.

“They were willing to go to prison for life, or be executed, to put out this information,” Mr. Ellsberg said.

Underlying Mr. Assange’s anxieties is deep uncertainty about what the United States and its allies may do next. Pentagon and Justice department officials have said they are weighing his actions under the 1917 Espionage Act. They have demanded that Mr. Assange “return” all government documents in his possession, undertake not to publish any new ones and not “solicit” further American materials.

Mr. Assange has responded by going on the run, but has found no refuge. Amid the Afghan documents controversy, he flew to Sweden, seeking a residence permit and protection under that country’s broad press freedoms. His initial welcome was euphoric.

“They called me the James Bond of journalism,” he recalled wryly. “It got me a lot of fans, and some of them ended up causing me a bit of trouble.”

Within days, his liaisons with two Swedish women led to an arrest warrant on charges of rape and molestation. Karin Rosander, a spokesperson for the prosecutor, said last week that the police were continuing to investigate.

In late September, he left Stockholm for Berlin. A bag he checked on the almost empty flight disappeared, with three encrypted laptops. It has not resurfaced; Mr. Assange suspects it was intercepted. From Germany, he traveled to London, wary at being detained on arrival. Under British law, his Australian passport entitles him to remain for six months. Iceland, another country with generous press freedoms and a strong WikiLeaks following, has also lost its appeal, with Mr. Assange concluding that its government, like Britain’s, is too easily influenced by Washington. In his native Australia, ministers have signaled their willingness to cooperate with the United States if it opens a prosecution. Mr. Assange said a senior Australian official told him, “You play outside the rules, and you will be dealt with outside the rules.”

He faces attack from within, too.

After the Sweden scandal, strains within WikiLeaks reached a breaking point, with some of Mr. Assange’s closest collaborators publicly defecting. The New York Times spoke with dozens of people who have worked with and supported him in Iceland, Sweden, Germany, Britain and the United States. What emerged was a picture of the founder of WikiLeaks as its prime innovator and charismatic force but as someone whose growing celebrity has been matched by an increasingly dictatorial, eccentric and capricious style.

Internal Turmoil

Effectively, as Mr. Assange pursues his fugitive’s life, his leadership is enforced over the Internet. Even remotely, his style is imperious. In an online exchange with one volunteer, a transcript of which was obtained by The Times, he warned that WikiLeaks would disintegrate without him. “We’ve been in a Unity or Death situation for a few months now,” he said.

When Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland, questioned Mr. Assange’s judgment over a number of issues in an online exchange last month, Mr. Assange was uncompromising. “I don’t like your tone,” he said, according to a transcript. “If it continues, you’re out.”

Mr. Assange cast himself as indispensable. “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest,” he said. “If you have a problem with me,” he told Mr. Snorrason, using an expletive, he should quit.

In an interview about the exchange, Mr. Snorrason’s conclusion was stark. “He is not in his right mind,” he said. In London, Mr. Assange was dismissive of all those who have criticized him. “These are not consequential people,” he said.

“About a dozen” disillusioned volunteers have left recently, said Smari McCarthy, an Icelandic volunteer who has distanced himself in the recent turmoil. In late summer, Mr. Assange suspended Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a German who had been the WikiLeaks spokesman under the pseudonym Daniel Schmitt, accusing him of unspecified “bad behavior.” Many more activists, Mr. McCarthy said, are likely to follow.

Mr. Assange denied that any important volunteers had quit, apart from Mr. Domscheit-Berg. But further defections could paralyze an organization that Mr. Assange says has 40 core volunteers and about 800 mostly unpaid followers to maintain a diffuse web of computer servers and to secure the system against attack — to guard against the kind of infiltration that WikiLeaks itself has used to generate its revelations.

Mr. Assange’s detractors also accuse him of pursuing a vendetta against the United States. In London, Mr. Assange said America was an increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy. Moreover, he said, “we have been attacked by the United States, so we are forced into a position where we must defend ourselves.”

Even among those challenging Mr. Assange’s leadership style, there is recognition that the intricate computer and financial architecture WikiLeaks uses to shield it against its enemies has depended on its founder. “He’s very unique and extremely capable,” said Ms. Jonsdottir, the Icelandic lawmaker.

A Rash of Scoops

Before posting the documents on Afghanistan and Iraq, WikiLeaks enjoyed a string of coups.

Supporters were thrilled when the organization posted documents on the Guantánamo Bay detention operation, the contents of Sarah Palin’s personal Yahoo email account, reports of extrajudicial killings in Kenya and East Timor, the membership rolls of the neo-Nazi British National Party and a combat video showing American Apache helicopters in Baghdad in 2007 gunning down at least 12 people, including two Reuters journalists.

But now, WikiLeaks has been met with new doubts. Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have joined the Pentagon in criticizing the organization for risking people’s lives by publishing war logs identifying Afghans working for the Americans or acting as informers.

A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan using the pseudonym Zabiullah Mujahid said in a telephone interview that the Taliban had formed a nine-member “commission” after the Afghan documents were posted “to find about people who are spying.” He said the Taliban had a “wanted” list of 1,800 Afghans and was comparing that with names WikiLeaks provided.

“After the process is completed, our Taliban court will decide about such people,” he said.

Mr. Assange defended posting unredacted documents, saying he balanced his decision “with the knowledge of the tremendous good and prevention of harm that is caused” by putting the information into the public domain. “There are no easy choices on the table for this organization,” he said.

But if Mr. Assange is sustained by his sense of mission, faith is fading among his fellow conspirators. His mood was caught vividly in an exchange on Sept. 20 with another senior WikiLeaks figure. In an encrypted online chat, a transcript of which was passed to The Times, Mr. Assange was dismissive of his colleagues. He described them as “a confederacy of fools,” and asked his interlocutor, “Am I dealing with a complete retard?”

In London, Mr. Assange was angered when asked about the rifts. He responded testily to questions about WikiLeaks’s opaque finances, Private Manning’s fate and WikiLeaks’s apparent lack of accountability to anybody but himself, calling the questions “cretinous,” “facile” and reminiscent of “kindergarten.”

Mr. Assange has been equivocal about Private Manning, talking in late summer as though the soldier was unavoidable collateral damage, much like the Afghans named as informers in the secret Pentagon documents.

But in London, he took a more sympathetic view, describing Private Manning as a “political prisoner” facing a jail term of up to 52 years, without confirming that he was the source of the disclosed war logs. “We have a duty to assist Mr. Manning and other people who are facing legal and other consequences,” he said.

Mr. Assange’s own fate seems as imperiled as Private Manning’s. Last Monday, the Swedish Migration Board said Mr. Assange’s bid for a residence permit had been rejected. His British visa will expire early next year. When he left the London restaurant at twilight, heading into the shadows, he declined to say where he was going. The man who has put some of the world’s most powerful institutions on his watch list was, once more, on the move.



Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Dexter Filkins from Kabul, Afghanistan.


22971  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 24, 2010, 12:53:46 AM
I had fourth row in the VIP section.  Dana and Randy Couture were about 8 seats diagonally from me. cool

In his last fight Lesnar flinched on one good hit and covered up until Shane Carwell got gassed.  Here CV was not intimidated, and had no problems with gas in the tank or staying calm in BL's initial bull surges.  BL still does not like getting hit.

22972  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 23, 2010, 12:24:02 PM
Pay it forward!
22973  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Marc Denny Seminar Bloomington Illinois October 16th and 17th 2010 on: October 23, 2010, 12:22:59 PM
SgtMac:

High praise indeed from a man of your background.  Tail wags for the kind words.
22974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 23, 2010, 08:31:33 AM
1:  I'm thinking like Ellison is worthy of continued observation, perhaps on the Islam in America and/or the Homeland Security threads.

2:  I continue to really not like the way that some races are tightening.  Spreads in the polls that used to be in the double digits are now often in mid single digits or in the margin of error.  After all the cockiness about the coming tsunami, anything that underdelivers is not going to be good for the cause of freedom.
22975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: October 23, 2010, 07:45:34 AM

THE U.S. APPROACH TO MANAGING THE PERSIAN GULF

The day after the U.S. government formally notified Congress of a massive, $60
billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, Saudi King Abdullah called Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday to “discuss bilateral relations.” Ahmadinejad had
earlier phoned the Saudi king, making this the second time in only nine days that
Iran has reached out to its Persian Gulf rival.

While the Saudis and Iranians have been nervously feeling each other out, the junior
players in the Persian Gulf are also keeping busy. The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
announced Thursday that it has opened a naval base on its eastern coast in the
emirate of Fujairah. The base, jutting out into the Arabian Sea, would also house a
giant oil-storage terminal that would connect to the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi
through a multi-billion dollar oil pipeline now under construction.  In following
these plans, the UAE appears to be creating an option to circumvent the Strait of
Hormuz so that they may continue exporting oil and importing goods should Iran
attempt to follow through on threats to blockade the strategic chokepoint.

Just off the Arabian Peninsula, the tiny island nation of Bahrain -- home to the
U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet -- is gearing up for parliamentary elections Saturday. To
prepare for the polls, the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa family is doing everything it can
to ensure the country’s Shiite majority doesn’t increase its political clout -- and
thus provide its Persian neighbor with another stick with which to probe the
peninsula.

"With the Persian Gulf in flux, the United States is trying to get back into a
position where the natural Arab-Persian divide in the region balances itself out."

Iran is clearly weighing heavily on the minds of the Persian Gulf states. These
states don’t exactly long for a repeat of Saddam Hussein and his extraterritorial
oil ambitions, but they did watch with trepidation as the Sunni pillar in Iraq
crumbled under the watch of the United States throughout the course of the Iraq war.
Though the United States made the first big attempt to correct this imbalance with
the surge and the co-optation of Sunni former Baathists, it is obvious to everyone
that Iran is the emerging power in the Persian Gulf, while the United States is more
than ready to make its exit from the region.

But the United States also doesn’t have the option of clearing out and leaving its
Sunni Arab allies in a lurch. Whether or not American Tea Partiers, isolationist
pundits or regular taxpayers like it, the U.S. military is spread far beyond its
borders, with American boots on the ground in more than 150 countries and the U.S.
Navy in the unique position of dominating the high seas. The United States also
holds a quarter of the world’s wealth in gross domestic product and is responsible
for roughly the same fraction of the world’s fossil fuel consumption, a large
percentage of which comes from the Persian Gulf. Along with this ubiquitous global
presence comes a heavy burden. That burden does not necessarily mean playing the
global policeman and putting out fires wherever there is a real or imagined nuclear
threat, claims of genocide or otherwise. Instead, it means selectively choosing its
military engagement and maintaining various balances of power that allow the United
States to sustain its hegemony without getting bogged down in conflicts around the
world for dangerous lengths of time.

With the Persian Gulf in flux, the United States is trying to get back into a
position where the natural Arab-Persian divide in the region balances itself out.
From the U.S. point of view, Iran and Iraq could go on fighting each other for years
-- as they did throughout the 1980s -- as long as neither one is capable of wiping
the other out. Right now, Iraq is in far too weak a position and is too wedded to
the Iranians to rebuild itself as a useful counter to Iran. So that responsibility
is increasingly falling to Iraq’s neighbors.

Though there is great power in petrodollars alone, the Persian Gulf states are far
from warriors. In spite of all the state-of-the-art equipment the United States
floods into countries like Saudi Arabia, the Saudi military severely lacks the
leadership, ethos, training and doctrine to proficiently and coherently employ these
systems. The Persian Gulf states’ dependence on Washington is what allows the United
States to militarily entrench itself in the region. The $60 billion arms sale to
Saudi Arabia, for example, loudly signals to Iran that a U.S. exit from Iraq is not
tantamount to the United States abandoning its interests in the region. But as the
United States continues to grow and spread itself across the globe, it will
increasingly need to rely on local forces to manage things on their own, with the
United States standing close behind. For the Persian Gulf, that means the United
States investing the years into shaping the Saudi military into an effective force
and encouraging the UAE to reduce its vulnerabilities to Iran, as it appears to be
doing with this new export route into the Arabian Sea. These are initiatives that
take a great deal of time, money and effort, but they also have the best chance of
materializing when a state is confronted by an external threat. For the Persian Gulf
states, the threat of Iran dominating the gulf is as good a threat as ever to drive
them into action.

Copyright 2010 STRATFOR.

22976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Everything to be stored by Brit govt on: October 23, 2010, 12:38:08 AM
Telegraph UK: Every Email And Website To Be Stored By Brit Government

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
' Every email, phone call and website visit is to be recorded and stored after the Coalition Government revived controversial Big Brother snooping plans. '

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolog...overnment.html
22977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Where oh where has my little biscuit gone? on: October 23, 2010, 12:32:47 AM
http://abcnews.go.com/WN/president-b...ry?id=11930878

OMFG shocked shocked shocked

Contrast this:

http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/r/reagan-city.html

After Ronald Reagan said his good-byes to Bonnie Nofziger and hung up the phone, he leaned back and chatted with his aides who had gathered around him. He talked about his favorite room in the White House residence, the Yellow Room, and mentioned the note he had left in the desk drawer for George Bush on a notepad with the printed heading, DON'T LET THE TURKEYS GET YOU DOWN. Someone suggested that the president carve his initials in the Oval Office desk. A chuckle went around the group, and they all felt the bittersweetness of the moment.

Ken Duberstein stepped forward and briefed the president on the schedule for his last day in office--where he was to stand during the inauguration ceremony, when he would board the helicopter that would take him to Andrews Air Force Base for his final flight on Air Force One, when he would give his speech to the well-wishers at Los Angeles International Airport. As Duberstein finished his briefing, the president reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a plain white, plastic-coated card, like an unmarked credit card.

"Well, I guess I won't be needing this anymore," he said, holding the card out in General Powell's direction. "Whom do I give it to?"
It was the nuclear authentication code card that Ronald Reagan had carried throughout his presidency. That thin plastic wafer, when inserted into a black leather briefcase carried by a military aide, had the power to unleash Armageddon upon the world.
"Just hold on to it, sir," said Jim Kuhn. "You're still the commander in chief. You can turn it in after Mr. Bush is sworn in as president."

Ronald Reagan nodded and placed the card back in his pocket. Then Colin Powell stepped forward and gave the president the most succinct national security breefing of Ronald Reagan's entire presidency. "The world is quiet today, Mr. President," said Powell.
22978  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 22, 2010, 05:06:36 PM
And, given the crew who is bringing me along, the seats promise to be rather good wink  Keep on eye for me on your TV screen grin
22979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 22, 2010, 05:03:34 PM
To quote myself:

"That said, we must consider the possibility that China is starting one with us whether we like it or not.  In case such is the case, then we need a clear-headed assessment of who "wins" (i.e. loses less)."

In other words, I am not advocating Smoot Hawley, I am asking what to do if China starts it up.

22980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sowell: Gold on: October 22, 2010, 05:00:33 PM
Wednesday, September 29, 2010  02:53 AM
By Thomas Sowell


Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and  Peace
One of the many slick tricks of the Obama  administration was to insert a
provision in the massive Obamacare legislation  regulating people who sell
gold. This had nothing to do with medical care but  everything to do with
sneaking in an extension of the government's power over  gold, in a bill too big
for most people to read. 
Gold long has been a source of frustration for politicians who want to
extend  their power over the economy. First of all, the gold standard cramped
their  style because there is only so much money you can print when every
dollar bill  can be turned in to the government, to be exchanged for the
equivalent amount of  gold.
When the amount of money the government can print is limited by how much
gold  the government has, politicians cannot pay off a massive national debt
by just  printing more money and repaying the owners of government bonds with
dollars  that are cheaper than the dollars with which the bonds were
bought. In other  words, politicians cannot cheat people as easily.
That was just one of the ways that the gold standard cramped politicians' 
style - and just one of the reasons they got rid of it. One of Franklin D. 
Roosevelt's first acts as president was to take the United States off the
gold  standard in 1933. But, even with the gold standard gone, the ability of
private  individuals to buy gold reduces the ability of the government to
steal the value  of their money by printing more money.
Inflation is a quiet but effective way for the government to transfer 
resources from the people to itself, without raising taxes. A hundred-dollar 
bill bought less in 1998 than a $20 bill bought in the 1960s. This means that 
anyone who kept his money in a safe over those years would have lost 80
percent  of its value, because no safe can keep your money safe from
politicians who  control the printing presses.
That is why some people buy gold when they lose confidence in the 
government's managing of its money. Usually that is when inflation is either  under
way or looming on the horizon. When many people start transferring their 
wealth from dollars into gold, that restricts the ability of politicians to 
steal from them through inflation.
Even though there is currently very little inflation, purchases of gold
have  nevertheless skyrocketed. Ordinarily, most gold is bought for producing
jewelry  or for various industrial purposes, more so than as an investment.
But, at times  within the past two years, most gold has been bought by
investors.
What that suggests is that increasing numbers of people don't trust this 
administration's economic policies, especially the huge and growing deficits,
 which add up to a record-breaking national debt.
When a national debt reaches an unsustainable amount, there is always a 
temptation to pay it off with inflated dollars. There is the same temptation 
when the Social Security system starts paying out more money to baby boom 
retirees than it is taking in from current workers.
Whether gold is a good investment for individuals, and whether the gold 
standard is the right system for a country, are much more complicated
questions  than can be answered here. But what is clear is that the Obama
administration  sees people's freedom to buy and sell gold as something that can limit
what the  government can do.
Sneaking a provision on gold purchases and sales into massive legislation 
that is supposedly about medical care is just one of the many cynical tricks
 used to circumvent the public's right to know how they are being governed.
The  Constitution begins, "We the people" but, to the left, both the people
and the  Constitution are just things to circumvent in order to carry out
its agenda.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, 
Revolution and Peace in Stanford, Calif.

22981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: October 22, 2010, 03:05:06 PM
Glenn has been on a good rampage about the connection between George Soros giving nearly $2m to NPR and the firing of Juan Williams.

I do wish he would get off the kick in favor of bad food though rolleyes
22982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 22, 2010, 03:03:24 PM
I think a rather productive firestorm has been ignited by JW's firing by NPR.
22983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 22, 2010, 02:51:24 PM
"we need them to ignore how they are throwing money away continuing to fund our irresponsible spending habits"

GM, I am going to nit pick a bit on this one.  NO we do NOT need to fund our irresponsible spending habits.  Rather we need to spend responsibly.  We can get along quite nicely without the plastic knicknacks and poison laced products (including children's toys! angry) and we can get along quite nicely without further increasing their leverage over us.
22984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO's foreign money can of worms on: October 22, 2010, 02:20:55 PM
Return to the Article

 



October 19, 2010


Obama's foreign money can of worms


Thomas Lifson

The Democrats, including President Obama, have embarked on a disastrous
campaign impugning the US Chamber of Commerce as a source of nefarious
foreign money corrupting our campaigns. Not only has the accusation
failed to resonate, it has opened a door that Democrats would prefer
remain closed. And because Washington Post writer Marc A. Thiessen has
taken up the question, it will be impossible to contain the very valid
questions raised:

...one of the largest labor unions in America, the Service Employees
International Union (SEIU), ... is spending lavishly to elect Democrats.
The SEIU claims 100,000 members in Canada
<http://www.seiu.ca/2010/05/leader-in-us-healthcare-reform-applauds.php>
. According to SEIU's 2008 constitution
<http://www.seiu.org/images/pdfs/Con.BylawsFinal3.4.9.pdf> , dues
include $7.65 per month per member that must be sent to the SEIU
International in the United States. This means that the SEIU takes in
nearly $9.2 million per year from foreign nationals -- almost 10 times
the amount the Chamber receives from its affiliates abroad.

 

Is any foreign money being used to fund the SEIU's anti-Republican
campaign efforts? According to the Wall Street Journal, "The Service
Employees International Union, one of the nation's fastest-growing labor
unions, acknowledges that it can't be certain that foreign nationals
haven't contributed
<http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240527487033585045755445830241808
88.html>  to its $44 million political budget to support pro-labor
Democrats." The SEIU is not the only union that takes in money from
foreign members. According to the Canadian Department of Human Resources
and Skills Development
<http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/labour/labour_relations/info_analysis/union_
membership/index2009.shtml> , the United Steel, Paper and Forestry,
Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers has
280,000 Canadian members; the United Food and Commercial Workers has
more than 245,000; the Teamsters has more than 108,000; the Laborers'
International Union of North America has more than 68,000; and the
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has more than 57,000.
How much do these foreign union members send to the United States? If
the constitutions of their unions are anything like SEIU's, it could be
tens of millions of dollars. Is any of that money being used to help
elect Democrats this November?

 

Unions have another source of foreign cash: dues from illegal
immigrants. In an April 2007 speech, uncovered by the conservative Web
site RedState, SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina boasts how
his union's rolls are loaded with illegal immigrants
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZlsScws6xUc> .
Medina declares proudly: "SEIU is the largest union of immigrant workers
in the country, and a number of them are undocumented."

 

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

 

 

 

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Obama Accepting Untraceable Donations

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 29, 2008; A02

Sen. Barack Obama
<http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/o000167/> 's
presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable
prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on
how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a
contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed.

Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign
has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent
potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its
accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its
books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.

The Obama organization said its extensive review has ensured that the
campaign has refunded any improper contributions, and noted that Federal
Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of
donations.

(READ MORE: Murkowski embraces outsider status with write-in campaign)
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/10/AR20101
01002759.html> 

In recent weeks, questionable contributions have created headaches for
Obama's accounting team as it has tried to explain why campaign finance
filings have included itemized donations from individuals using fake
names, such as Es Esh or Doodad Pro. Those revelations prompted
conservative bloggers to further test Obama's finance vetting by giving
money using the kind of prepaid cards that can be bought at a drugstore
and cannot be traced to a donor.

22985  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Yee hah! on: October 22, 2010, 02:02:58 PM
Looks like I get to go to tomorrow night's UFC for free!
22986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 22, 2010, 02:01:20 PM
Sorry, having LOTS of internet connection problems.  Right now I am on the neighbor's connection.  In that Cindy is out of town and she is the geek in our family, it is hard to predict when all of this will get straightened out.
22987  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 22, 2010, 01:55:37 PM
We are having internet connection problems again-- AND Cindy is out of town visiting my mom  shocked
22988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 20, 2010, 01:47:59 PM
Perhaps I read too much into what you say, but I am not seeing a point at which you would draw a line.
22989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The on: October 20, 2010, 01:45:20 PM
Paris, Berlin, Moscow and the Emerging Concert of Europe

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is hosting Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday and Tuesday at the French Atlantic resort of Deauville. The summit is being described by Western media as an opportunity for Russia to improve its relations with NATO, with Paris and Berlin lending a hand toward the reconciliation between Moscow and the West.

In a way, the press on the summit is correct: The summit is ultimately about the West’s relationship with Russia. Unfortunately for the United States, Central Europeans, the United Kingdom and a large part of Europe’s firmly pro-U.S. countries such as the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark, it’s about the West as defined by Paris and Berlin — which is to say … Paris and Berlin.

“For both France and Germany, but particularly Germany, Russia is not a current security threat but rather a potential energy and economic partner.”
The topics of the meeting will be wide ranging, concentrating on security and Moscow’s relationship with NATO and the European Union. Specifically, the Russian president will bring up the Russian proposal for a new European Security Treaty. While Moscow claims that the proposal is not intended to replace NATO, the United States and its European allies — particularly Central Europeans worried about Russia’s intentions — see it as attempting to do exactly that.

Both Sarkozy and Merkel have indicated that they will listen to what Medvedev has to say on the proposed treaty. Just the fact that Berlin and Paris are willing to listen to Moscow’s proposal is worrisome to the rest of Europe. In fact, the timing of the summit is particularly jarring. The NATO heads of state summit — at which the alliance will approve a new Strategic Concept — is to be held in exactly one month, and yet Paris and Berlin have no problems so openly coordinating European security with Moscow. It is akin to spending a weekend on the sea with a mistress ahead of one’s 25-year marriage anniversary.

Paris and Berlin are both feeling like their marriage with NATO is getting stale. For both France and Germany, but particularly Germany, Russia is not a current security threat but rather a potential energy and economic partner. And neither Berlin nor Paris wants to be part of any future “American adventurism” outside of the European theater of operations, since both see efforts in Afghanistan as largely an enormous expenditure of resources for dubious benefits. The divergent interests of the various NATO member states have France and Germany looking to bring matters of European security back to the European theater, and that means talking to Russia.

France has an additional motive in wanting to make sure that as Germany and Russia get close, France is the one organizing the meeting and therefore keeping an eye on the developing Berlin-Moscow relationship (as evidenced by the fact that Sarkozy is the one hosting the other two leaders). In this context, we can consider Sarkozy’s idea to set up a European Security Council, which according to German newspaper Der Spiegel he would propose at the Deauville summit. Paris is trying to compensate for the strong Berlin-Moscow relationship by going out of its way to create structures that would involve Paris in the future European security architecture. France wants to be able to control the discussion and the makeup at these forums and introduce outside players if it feels that it needs to balance Moscow and Berlin.

While no public or official proposals or agreements may be seen out of the Deauville meeting, Russia is more interested in striking a very real understanding with France and Germany. The lack of public announcements should not detract from the fact that Medvedev is meeting with Sarkozy and Merkel to get a sense of their willingness to offer Russia clear security concessions. Russia wants a commitment and an understanding from France and Germany that they are willing to allow Russia its sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union and that they intend to coordinate with Russia on any future security matters that affect Moscow. Moscow does not want to be blindsided in the future as it was with the West’s decision to back Kosovo’s independence or to be completely left outside of European security matters as it was during the 1990s and doesn’t want to cross a red line with Paris or Berlin as it resurges. Tuesday’s meeting is most likely about creating guidelines on what Russia is allowed to do and what is going too far. Russia is currently at a delicate place in its resurgence during which it may cross into territory that could be construed as being beyond its direct sphere — specifically Moldova — so it needs to know where France and Germany stand now.

The entire episode is beginning to look very much like the Concert of Europe congress system of diplomacy. Between 1815 and 1914, Europeans resolved most geopolitical disagreements by holding a “Congress” at which concessions were made and general geopolitical horse-trading was conducted among the European powers. And if a particularly problematic country refused to make concessions — or was the very subject of the meeting — it could be denied access to the Congress in question.

Whether the Deauville summit results in concrete proposals or not, the significance is not in statements that follow but in the fact that Berlin and Paris no longer see anything wrong in spending a few days by the sea with Russia, especially as the rest of their supposed European allies wait for their input at the NATO summit. This tells us that Europe may have already entered a new Concert era, whether or not post-WWII institutions such as NATO still exist.

22990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 20, 2010, 12:06:46 PM
Trade wars are very bad things and tend to have consequences far beyond those originally envisioned.

That said, we must consider the possibility that China is starting one with us whether we like it or not.  In case such is the case, then we need a clear-headed assessment of who "wins" (i.e. loses less).

GM, you've been a serious observer of China for some time now.  Why do you say they win a trade war with us?
22991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 20, 2010, 12:02:48 PM
I continue to worry.

I saw yesterday that Murkowski has pulled to a statistical dead heat with Miller in Alaska.  Engle can lose NE (and Reid IMHO is just the man to cheat to help make that happen).  I read that O'Donnel in the debate bobbled the whole issue of teaching creationism in science class and came off looking like an ingnoramus on the first amendment and separation of church and state.   Paladino is looking quite the ass in NY.

If the promised tsunami doesn't happen this will all get played as an intramural squabble between the whacko tea partiers and the Rinos.

22992  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 20, 2010, 11:16:33 AM
Grateful to be home with my family!!!
22993  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 20, 2010, 11:15:37 AM
I'm back from a fine time in Bloomington.

I have a feeling of being able to settle in for a while after several months of seminars, government work, the DB Gathering, another matter that took great amounts of time at a fairly heavy emotional cost, etc etc.

I am really looking forward to getting my groove on!

PS:  Folks, now that starting today my wife will be visiting my mother for a week and so during that time all will be glorious chaos here cheesy
22994  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Marc Denny Seminar Bloomington Illinois October 16th and 17th 2010 on: October 20, 2010, 11:12:48 AM
Woof Terry et al:

As always a fine time.  Thank you for your gracious hospitality and the pleasure of working with the fine group of people you attract.  Thanks to all who travelled so far to come (Long distance price to Dog Howie who came from Philadelphia).

Your group is moving forward nicely and I look forward to the next time.

To walk as a warrior for all our days,
Guro Crafty
22995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man returns to Iraq 8(?) on: October 19, 2010, 07:44:07 AM
As I opened the exterior door of the Villa this morning at about 0655, I heard a huge boom.  Second loudest boom I have heard in all thiem time I have been over here combined.
 
At about 0720 while in the NEC DFAC, I heard another big boom.
 
Both sounded like truck bombs would.
 
So, it has been on like Donkeykong in Baghdad this morning.
 
Which is ironic because just last night as I was surfing the web to see what bad things have been going on in Iraq today, I thought to myself "man it's been very quiet.  We are due for something." 
 
Then I thought to myself "I wonder if the Iraqis think like that and warn their security folks the equivalent of we're due for something!"
22996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Excrement happens on: October 19, 2010, 07:43:06 AM
In the beginning was the plan.

And then came the Assumptions.

And the Assumptions were without form.
And the Plan was without substance.

And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.

And they spoke among themselves, saying,
"It is a crock of shit, and it stinketh."
And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said,
"It is a pail of dung, and none may abide the odor thereof."
And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying,
"It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong,
such that none may abide by it."
And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying,
"It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength."
And the Directors spoke amongst themselves, saying one to another,
"It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."
And the Directors then went unto the Vice-Presidents, saying unto them,
"It promotes growth, and it is very powerful."
And the Vice-Presidents went unto the President, saying unto him,
"This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigor
of the company, with powerful effects."
And the President Looked upon the Plan, and saw that it was good.
And the Plan became Policy.

This is how Shit Happens
22997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 19, 2010, 07:39:43 AM
I return late tonight from Bloomington IL.
22998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 19, 2010, 07:39:08 AM
Woof All:

I find myself worrying about how cocky some of the reporting by our usual sources is getting; if Angle loses in NE, if O'Donnell loses in DE, the Reps do not take the Senate and the Tea Party will be blamed by the RINOs and the chattering classes.
22999  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: October 18, 2010, 06:29:18 PM
As far as I know the show is in HD.

I am in Bloomington IL at the moment and will return Tuesday night and will look to answer your other questions later this week.
========

http://www.indemand.com/product/view/200437
23000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surprisingly candid comment from Merkel on: October 18, 2010, 08:26:46 AM
by Audrey Kauffmann Audrey Kauffmann – Sun Oct 17, 11:50 am ET
BERLIN (AFP) – Germany's attempt to create a multi-cultural society has failed completely, Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the weekend, calling on the country's immigrants to learn German and adopt Christian values.

Merkel weighed in for the first time in a blistering debate sparked by a central bank board member saying the country was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants.

"Multikulti", the concept that "we are now living side by side and are happy about it," does not work, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam near Berlin.

"This approach has failed, totally," she said, adding that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany's culture and values.

"We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don't accept them don't have a place here," said the chancellor.

"Subsidising immigrants" isn't sufficient, Germany has the right to "make demands" on them, she added, such as mastering the language of Goethe and abandoning practices such as forced marriages.

Merkel spoke a week after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which they pledged to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Germany's 2.5-million-strong Turkish community.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul, in a weekend interview, also urged the Turkish community living in Germany to master the language of their adopted country.

"When one doesn't speak the language of the country in which one lives that doesn't serve anyone, neither the person concerned, the country, nor the society," the Turkish president told the Suedeutsche Zeitung.

"That is why I tell them at every opportunity that they should learn German, and speak it fluently and without an accent. That should start at nurseries."

German President Christian Wulff was due for a five-day visit to Turkey and talks with the country's leaders on Monday.

The immigration debate has at times threatened to split Merkel's conservative party, and she made noises to both wings of the debate.

While saying that the government needed to encourage the training of Muslim clerics in Germany, Merkel said "Islam is part of Germany", echoeing the recent comments of Wulff, a liberal voice in the party.

Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, CSU, who represents the right-wing, recently said Germany did not "need more immigrants from different cultures like the Turks and Arabs" who are "more difficult" to integrate.

While warning against "immigration that weighs down on our social system", Merkel said Germany needed specialists from overseas to keep the pace of its economic development.

According to the head of the German chamber of commerce and industry, Hans Heinrich Driftmann, Germany is in urgent need of about 400,000 engineers and qualified workers, whose lack is knocking about one percent off the country's growth rate.

The integration of Muslims has been a hot button issue since August when a member of Germany's central bank sparked outrage by saying the country was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants with headscarves.

The banker, Thilo Sarrazin, has since resigned but his book on the subject -- "Germany Does Itself In" -- has flown off the shelves, and polls showed considerable sympathy for some of his views.

A recent study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think tank showed around one-third of Germans feel the country is being "over-run by foreigners" and the same percentage feel foreigners should be sent home when jobs are scarce.

Nearly 60 percent of the 2,411 people polled thought the around four million Muslims in Germany should have their religious practices "significantly curbed."

Far-right attitudes are found not only at the extremes of German society, but "to a worrying degree at the centre of society," the think tank said in its report.

"Hardly eight weeks have passed since publication of Sarrazin's theory of decline, and the longer the debate continues to a lower level it falls," the weekly Der Spiegel commented Sunday.

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