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23001  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: China and Russia spying on: November 04, 2011, 08:30:19 AM

WASHINGTON—The U.S. government accused the Chinese of being the world's "most active and persistent" perpetrators of economic spying, an unusual move designed to spur stronger U.S. and international action to combat rampant industrial espionage threatening U.S. economic growth.

Russian intelligence agents also are conducting extensive spying to collect U.S. economic data and technology, according to a U.S. intelligence report released Thursday that concluded China and Russia are "the most aggressive collectors" of U.S. economic information and technology.

"The nations of China and Russia, through their intelligence services and through their corporations, are attacking our research and development," said U.S. counterespionage chief Robert Bryant.

Mr. Bryant spoke at a rare public event Thursday to roll out the report by his staff at the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive. The report focuses on spying primarily for commercial and economic purposes, as opposed to national security. "This is a national, long-term, strategic threat to the United States of America," he said. "This is an issue where failure is not an option."

The bulk of this theft of U.S. corporate and economic secrets is carried out in cyberspace, where vast volumes of data can be stolen in seconds, according to U.S. intelligence officials. The spying campaigns have reached a crescendo, they said, as U.S. government and business operations have grown extraordinarily reliant on communication technology.

The U.S. is a prime target of economic espionage by countries like China and Russia that seek to build up their domestic industries with stolen technology and intellectual property from more advanced U.S. firms, officials say. The leading areas of theft are components of the U.S. economy: information technology, military technology, and clean-energy and medical technology.

 A lot of U.S. companies like to say they'll beat the Chinese at what the U.S. does best - innovation. They'll simply run faster than the Chinese. The problem is, they may not have history on their side. John Bussey has details on The News Hub.

It's illegal under U.S. law to steal corporate secrets from other companies, and there is less incentive for U.S. companies to pilfer from countries that are less developed.

Allies of the U.S. have also gotten in the game of stealing industrial secrets, the report said. It did not name those countries, but officials privately acknowledge that Israel and France have tried to steal U.S. secrets.

Thursday's report was unusual because it called out China and Russia by name as the top perpetrators of economic espionage, which is something U.S. officials have been reluctant to do for fear of harming diplomatic relations.

"When you hide these things, nobody does anything about them," said Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute cybersecurity firm who also spoke at the rollout of the report.

 
A senior intelligence official said it was necessary to single out specific countries in order to confront the problem and attempt contain a threat that has gotten out of control. Economic espionage is condoned by both China and Russia and is part of each country's national economic development policy, the official said.

The Chinese government is believed to have been behind a number of recent high-profile cyber attacks, including multiple hacks of Google Inc. and the EMC Corp.'s RSA unit, a security company that makes the numerical tokens used by millions of corporate employees to access their network.

Cyberattacks revealed earlier this year on Lockheed Martin Corp. and the International Monetary Fund are also believed be traced to China.

The threat will accelerate in the coming years and presents "a growing and persistent threat" to U.S. economic security, according to the intelligence report, which reflects the views of 14 U.S. intelligence agencies.

At the Chinese Embassy in Washington, spokesman Wang Baodong called the U.S. charges "unwarranted allegations" that were part of a "demonizing effort against China." The Russian Embassy didn't respond to requests to comment but has in the past denied allegations of cyberspying.

The U.S government doesn't have calculations of the economic losses due to economic cyberespionage. The senior U.S. intelligence official cited estimates of $50 billion in losses in 2009 due to lost intellectual property and counterfeiting, through all means of theft, including cyber break-ins.

"If our research and development—$400 billion a year—is pilfered, frankly, it will destroy part of our economic viability in this country," Mr. Bryant said.

Industrial espionage poses a number of national-security threats to the U.S., including the risk that stolen military technology will be handed to hostile countries like North Korea or Iran, the intelligence report concluded.

 WSJ's Chana Schoenberger has details of U.S. companies being deterred from taking advantage of easy access to the Chinese Yuan by bureaucracy and paperwork. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
.Government-sponsored economic spying is growing, the senior official said. Officials wouldn't say, however, how much of the industrial spying is believed to be from government agents, though they said government, intelligence services, and private organizations and individuals all took part.

U.S. officials have confronted foreign counterparts with allegations of industrial espionage, the senior U.S. official said, but the official declined to provide an example or cite a particular country's government. More confrontations are necessary, the official said, to begin to curb the spying.

One proposal intelligence officials are considering is building the cyberattack equivalent of the National Counterterrorism Center, which merges terrorism data from intelligence agencies and state and local governments.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com



Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203716204577015540198801540.html#ixzz1ck80QQuH
23002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington 1784 on: November 04, 2011, 08:09:35 AM
"The foundation on which all [constitutions] are built is the natural equality of man, the denial of every preeminence but that annexed to legal office, and particularly the denial of a preeminence by birth." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington, 1784
23003  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia and China taking advantage of situation on: November 04, 2011, 08:08:36 AM
Vice President of Strategic Intelligence Rodger Baker and Senior Eurasia Analyst Lauren Goodrich discuss how Russia and China are looking to exploit the European debt crisis to their advantage.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   In Europe’s Crisis, Russia Sees Opportunity
Colin: While Europe’s outlook is darkened by uncertainty, opportunity knocks for Russia and China as both look to seize the chance of taking advantage. Both have growing political influence and shedloads of cash, so what will they do? Welcome to Agenda, where STRATFOR’s leading analysts on Russia and China join me to discuss what Moscow and Beijing want.
Colin: With me now are Lauren Goodrich and Rodger Baker, thanks for joining me. While the Europeans sort out their mess, the Russians and the Chinese have shedloads of cash. Are there some bargains to be had in Europe? Are the Russians going to take advantage of this, do you think?
Lauren: The Russians are already taking advantage of it. The Russians are in negotiations at this time to pick up assets all across Europe, specifically in Central Europe. They are looking at things from energy firms, banks, credit unions, airports, ports… anything that gives them a strategic placement and foothold within Central Europe, something that they can use in the future. And Russia has plenty of cash to do this with. And so Russia right now is in negotiations with countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, Greece, of course, and then Italy to pick up assets.
Colin: Even Greece?
Lauren: Yes, in Greece they are picking up some of the largest assets. They are in negotiations and talks right now to pick up probably the state energy firms and maybe even Athens International Airport.
Colin: And what about the Chinese?
Rodger: The Chinese are really a lot more cautious than what we are seeing the Russians doing. The Chinese have talked about how the Europeans should get their own house in order, how the Europeans should have enough cash to do it themselves, and the Chinese are sending mixed signals depending upon what day of the week it is, depending upon which Chinese official it is. They are saying on the one hand we are willing to come in, we are willing to help out if Europe provides certain guarantees that our investments are going to be secured and that this will guarantee that the European Union and the eurozone will hold together. Or they are saying you know what, we really need to still watch, we need to see, we need to wait, we are just not so sure that Europe has its act in gear. And in some ways the Chinese get a little bit of a grand domestic PR (public relations) out of this. They get to seem the country that is the responsible economic country, at least for their home audience. They play this up, the same way they did toward the U.S. economic crisis, but in reality they are very concerned about the future of Europe.
Colin: So far they have been mostly looking at resources in terms of overseas acquisitions, but in Europe there are some big industrial companies which are probably undervalued. Do you think they have got any interest in them?
Rodger: The Chinese are looking at some of those. We have seen them show interest in the past. Things with technology, things in aerospace, in computer systems, ultimately things that would be related to dual-use technologies, they would love to get a better hold of. So they are watching those, but those are not necessarily going to be directly linked to the way in which they are looking the European investments. The Europeans are largely looking at China to invest in European bonds or to expand their purchase of European bonds, and that is where China is kind of holding back on right now.
Colin: Right and the Russians, of course, must be interested in some of European technology?
Lauren: Very much so. As far as technology, though, this is something that they have been looking into in a very long-term project. At this time though, with the crisis happening, they are looking to pick up very quick assets and things that give them political leverage. So where the Chinese seem to be doing things more financially motivated, economically motivated, or via technology, the Russians are thinking about the politics on this — how does this help them get leverage in Europe?
Colin: Can we turn this on its head for a moment? Because look at the harm that the mess in Europe is doing to China and Russia. For example, Europe is China’s biggest export market and it must be damaging the Chinese economy.
Rodger: For the last several years the Chinese economy has been struggling because of this European crisis, or in part because of the European crisis. And what it has done is it has taken a big toll on European exports, the combination of the U.S. and the European economic downturns, and that has brought to the fore inside China a very long-standing issue with the Chinese economy. The structural problems of the Chinese economy are now becoming very clear and very apparent. They have been known for a long time but they really have not been as visible.
And so we see the Chinese government in this very mixed position. On the one hand, they would really like to see the European economy just suddenly pick back up, start buying Chinese exports again and allow the Chinese simply to brush away some of these deeper reforms that are necessary, at least put them aside for a while. On the other hand, the Chinese cannot really count on this European resurgence of purchasing power anytime soon, and that means that in the end their attention is focused more on their domestic economy, on what they can do to try to not only pass themselves over this crisis but maybe use this crisis of the moment that forces them into being able to bring about economic change inside China.
Lauren: And this is very different than what we are seeing inside Russia. In Russia they are mainly worried because the Russians had counted on the Europeans to dump $100 billion in the next 3-5 years into modern technology, into the privatization programs and just in basic investment inside of the Russia. That money is not going to come anymore. Europe does not have $100 billion to dump inside Russia. So Russia is now having to revise its entire strategy for its economic future, which was supposed to be launched via these programs in the next few years. They are back to the drawing board.
But this does not mean that Russia does not have the money to do it themselves. Russia has $100 billion, Russia has $600 billion. So they have the cash to do it themselves, but the Russians tend to like to have other people pay for things before they pay for things. And so that is why they are going to have to step up if they want these programs to move forward.
Rodger: And this is an area, too, where we see the Chinese kind of keeping an eye on the Russians, because the Chinese have wanted a hand in a lot of this planned Russian privatization and sale of businesses. The Russians have been fairly reticent in allowing the Chinese in. The Chinese now see this as a potential opportunity, rather than to grab things in Europe necessarily, to grab things in Russia.
Lauren: So we could start actually seeing, probably, a strategic partnership between Russia and China economically grow. Which there is not much economic…
Colin: How likely is that?
Rodger: The Chinese really have got two big issues with the Russians. Number one, they would like to get it little bit more influence over the Russian economy overall. China continues to sit in a place where, even though it is economically much more powerful than Russia, politically it sees Russia as still having a lot more clout. China makes a lot more noise, but Russia seems to be a lot more influential, particularly in critical places for China like Central Asia, where they are pulling their resources from. Even more these days in Southeast Asia, where Russia is selling arms to, nominally, China’s opponents in Southeast Asia. This is troubling.
The second is energy, and the Russians and the Chinese go back and forth over energy prices. China wants to become a much larger consumer of Russian energy at a price much lower than what the Europeans pay. The Russians are not willing to make that deal with the Chinese.
Lauren: Which we will see if that changes because right now, as far as Russian exports, out of all of Russian exports 50 percent go to the EU. And if the EU market starts shrinking and the majority of those exports are energy, Russia has to find another market. If they have to do it at a discount then… they are going to have to do something.
Colin: Lauren what about the fallout on all of those countries that used to be part of the old Soviet Union? They went to Europe, basically, and this is where they had to be, this is the new thing for them, but now they must be looking at what is going on in Brussels and other European capitals and saying well maybe we should get closer to Russia again.
Lauren: Well the key country in that one is Ukraine. Ukraine has had a plan for 2011 to sign the very beginning steps to start a free trade agreement with Europe. It is on the shelf now, and no one in Brussels is returning Kiev’s phone calls at this time because they cannot even think about anything outside of the EU, let alone a country that Russia covets so much. The last thing Europe wants is to tick off Russia at a time that they are already in a crisis.
Colin: And President Medvedev has got, I think, trips to four European capitals this month — Rome, Athens, Berlin and Paris. So what is he up to?
Lauren: Yes. Well he is at the G-20 right now in France, he should be meeting with Sarkozy today. Next week he will be in Germany. What is interesting about the German visit, though, is that they will be discussing economics and Medvedev does have his economic team with him. But it is to launch the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline that directly connects Germany and Russia. So it is a very symbolic show of having Russia and Germany be such great partners together at a time when Europe is dividing within this crisis.
Colin: And the Chinese? They must be looking at these energy partnerships, and they need energy, and saying hey, we had better be part of this.
Rodger: They are watching energy partnerships. I think the Chinese probably will not be able to do much on the European front. Again, they are looking at being able to pull from eastern Russia and see what they can get out of that. And in some sense they hope that if the Europeans are going to continue to slow down, that will slow down the amount of energy going to Europe and require Russia to sell to them. What the Chinese are looking for is if they can see enough desperation in the European Union for Chinese money that they can exploit that.
The big thing on the table, I think, for the Chinese that they would be willing to put a lot of money down on is if the Europeans stop the arms embargo on China that they put in place in 1989, and that opens up new streams of technology for their own weapons development, for their own military improvements. That would be something for the Chinese that they would see very worthwhile to go ahead and lay down a whole load of cash.
Colin: Fascinating. Look, we will have to leave it there. Lauren and Rodger, thank you very much indeed.
Rodger: Thank you.
Colin: And that is Agenda for this week. Thanks for joining us. Bye for now.
23004  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / French paper hit by arson on: November 04, 2011, 08:04:38 AM
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-france-arson-muhammad-20111103,0,4620865.story

but paper shows courage:

http://www.latimes.com/sns-rt-france-firemagazinel5e7m304n-20111103,0,4671429.story
23005  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Plans to end run via the UN on: November 03, 2011, 08:27:50 PM
Betcha Harold Koh is behind this , , ,

http://www.examiner.com/law-enforcement-in-national/global-gun-control-law-pushed-by-clinton#ixzz1bjW4PQC4

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pushing for the United States to become a party to a global gun control law proposed by the United Nations. And President Barack Obama appears to be sympathetic to such an international power-grab and he's already displayed a propensity for bypassing the legislative process.

In fact, many believe the recent "Operation Fast and Furious" scandal had more to do with gaining support for gun control and gun ownership bans than it had to do with crimefighting and drug cartels.

"The Obama Administration will take its first major step in a plan to ban all firearms in the United States. The Obama White House intends to force gun control and a complete ban on all weapons for US citizens through the signing of international treaties with foreign nations," according to journalist Joan Sharon.

The goal of the treaty is to come up with internationally recognized rules governing the trade of guns and ammo. The United States is the world's largest exporter of arms.

 
To sooth concerns, the administration has said that it would sign the accord only if all other states agreed to it first, but pro-gun groups view the international treaty as a first step toward home-grown gun control.

U.S. lawmakers and groups like the National Rifle Association argue that it would essentially gut the Second Amendment by allowing an international authority to control American gun ownership.

A final version of the treaty is expected to be finished next year.

By signing international treaties on gun control, the Obama administration can use the U.S. State Department to bypass the normal legislative process in Congress. Once the U.S. government signs these international treaties, all US citizens will be subject to those gun laws created by foreign governments.
 
These are laws that have been developed and promoted by organizations such as the United Nations and individuals such as radical billionaire George Soros and New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
 
"The laws are designed and intended to lead to the complete ban and confiscation of all firearms," according to Sharon.
 
"The Obama administration is attempting to use tactics and methods of gun control that will inflict major damage to our 2nd Amendment before US citizens even understand what has happened," she added.
 
Critics believe Obama will appear before the public and tell them that he does not intend to pursue any legislation in the United States that will lead to new gun control laws, while cloaked in secrecy, his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is committing the US to international treaties and foreign gun control laws.
 
"We will wake up one morning and find that the United States has signed a treaty that prohibits firearm and ammunition manufacturers from selling to the public. We will wake up another morning and find that the US has signed a treaty that prohibits any transfer of firearm ownership. And then, we will wake up yet another morning and find that the US has signed a treaty that requires US citizens to deliver any firearm they own to the local government collection and destruction center or face imprisonment," Ms. Sharon stated.
 
 
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org).  In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. 
He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations.  He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.   Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com.   Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.

To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.
23006  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Jordan and Hamas on: November 03, 2011, 08:11:31 PM

Analyst Reva Bhalla explains the Jordanian calculation to move toward greater engagement with Palestinian group Hamas.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   The Geopolitics of the Palestinians
•   Jordan’s King Dismisses his Cabinet
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal is expected to make an official visit to Jordan in the coming days to meet with King Abdullah II. An important shift is taking place in Jordan as the country’s leaders are starting to take a much more proactive stance in trying to prevent the backlash of the Arab Spring in countries like Syria and Egypt from threatening the Hashemite Kingdom’s hold on power. Though the Jordanian government lives in deep tension with its majority Palestinian population, part of the evolving Jordanian strategy entails making very public steps to improve its relationship with Hamas.

Over the past several weeks, there have been several movements in Jordan that have been very much out of character for the Hashemite regime, yet have been very revealing of how Jordan is viewing the growing uncertainties in its neighborhood. Jordan is preparing for a visit by Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, who is currently based in Damascus, to make an official visit to Amman along with Qatar’s crown prince after Eid al-Adha. In setting the mood for the upcoming visit, Jordanian Prime Minister Awn al-Khasawneh said Oct. 31 that the government’s decision in 1999 to expel Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshaal, was a “constitutional and political mistake.”

The Jordanian authorities have a fundamental crisis with the Palestinians. The country’s Hashemite rulers were transplanted from the Arabian Peninsula to rule over a territory that is now predominantly inhabited by Palestinians. Jordan thus views groups like Hamas and any bid for Palestinian statehood as a direct threat to the sustainability of the Hashemite monarchy. This is why Jordan has a very healthy relationship with Israel, which shares common cause with the Jordanian government in keeping the Palestinians contained. That said, Jordan does place limits on its relationship with Israel, as it did in 1997, when Jordan saved Meshaal from an Israeli assassination attempt in Amman. Jordan sees the need to continue to engage Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

On the domestic front, Jordan has not been immune to demonstrations inspired by the Arab Spring. Most of the demonstrations have been led by the political arm of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood called the Islamic Action Front. But these demonstrations have been markedly different from those taking place in neighboring Arab countries. Jordan has a much more open relationship with its opposition, and the demonstrations have been pretty contained. The opposition in Jordan is very aware of its limits and is not calling for complete regime change. Still, the government does not feel like it has completely dodged the bullet, and the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood has been pushing in its negotiations with the government to welcome Hamas back to Amman.

Jordan is also looking nervously at the political transition taking place in Egypt. Though Jordan is happy to see the military regime in Egypt maintain control, they can see that the government in Cairo will increasingly have its hands full in trying to contain its domestic opposition while trying to keep Hamas hemmed in in Gaza.

Then there is the situation in Syria, where President Bashar al Assad’s political problems are growing. A great deal of tension exists between Jordan and the Syrian regime, which is allied with Iran. But Jordan has also relied on Syria for a long time to play its part in keeping Hamas in check. A lot of Hamas’ finances, for example, run through Hamas’ politburo, which moved to Damascus in 2001. Now that the Syrian regime is distracted, Jordan is growing concerned about Egypt’s and Syria’s abilities to keep Hamas in check and is now trying to take matters into its own hands. Jordan also shares an interest with Egypt in trying to distance Hamas from Iran’s orbit of influence and deny Iran a strong foothold in the Levant. On the home front, Jordan’s government can also use improving ties with Hamas to gain credibility with the country’s Islamist opposition.
But Hamas also comes with a lot of baggage. Though Jordan and Israel continue to cooperate very closely, Jordan does not necessarily want to be held responsible by Israel for Hamas’ militant actions. Jordan and Israel also do not want to give Hamas an opportunity to gain a strong foothold in Fatah-controlled West Bank, from which it could threaten both Jordan and Israel. Still, Jordan may be contemplating the old adage of “keeping friends close and enemies closer” in making these positive gestures toward Hamas.

Hamas is also weighing the merits of warming ties with Jordan. The group understands that Jordan’s intelligence and security apparatus works in very tight coordination with Israel and the United States and will be doing whatever it can to clamp down on Hamas’ movements. Hamas is looking for a new home, and the Jordanian government may be seriously looking at the prospect of laying out the welcome mat for Hamas for its own strategic interests.
23007  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams on Property 1787 on: November 03, 2011, 08:04:03 PM
"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free." --John Adams, 1787
23008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2.0 on: November 03, 2011, 12:38:15 PM
May I suggest we put the Geezer Militia case on the watch list but withhold commentary while we await further developments?

23009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 03, 2011, 12:35:50 PM
This would be better in Media Matters.
23010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: November 03, 2011, 12:34:53 PM
VERY interesting BBG!
23011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The turbulent spectacle of democracy: Madison 1787, Federalist 10 on: November 03, 2011, 12:32:18 PM
"[D]emocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." --James Madison, Federalist No. 10, 1787
23012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Larry Elder on MSM on Jesse Jackson's peccadillos on: November 03, 2011, 11:28:42 AM


http://townhall.com/columnists/larryelder/2011/11/03/media_awol_on_sexual_indiscretion_--_when_jesse_jackson_was_front-runner
23013  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: November 03, 2011, 11:27:31 AM
May I suggest we put the Geezer Militia case on the watch list but withhold commentary while we await further developments?

23014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 03, 2011, 11:07:57 AM
BD:

I'm all for vetting across the spectrum.   What I am NOT for is unsourced reports of anonymous accusations.  

Clinton's serial philandering (which included groping a woman in the WH when she came to beg for her husband's job -- no doubt GM will remember the names and facts  cheesy ) was given a pass by the MSM.   The MSM gleefully particpated in cruel politics of personal destruction (e.g. repeating and spreading Carville's description of "trailer park trash", mocking the woman's nose, her use of make up, etc) where, as I noted, she was brought to the governor by a trooper and the governor dropped his pants.  She put her name to the accusations! and offered supporting details  -- his curved penis.  

Here there is a firestorm over unsourced reports of anonymous accusations of alleged events (none of which involved state troopers, dropping pants, or any other such thing) some 15 years ago.

I don't think GM is playing dumb here.  I think, like me, he is saying that essentially nothing is known of the accusations or the accusers.  In that an agreement was signed to STFU and go away, that is the way it should be.

23015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An English view on: November 03, 2011, 10:52:00 AM


The American phoenix is slowly rising again. Within five years or so, the US will be well on its way to self-sufficiency in fuel and energy. Manufacturing will have closed the labour gap with China in a clutch of key industries. The current account might even be in surplus.
 
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
5:53PM BST 23 Oct 2011
Assumptions that the Great Republic must inevitably spiral into economic and strategic decline - so like the chatter of the late 1980s, when Japan was in vogue - will seem wildly off the mark by then.
Telegraph readers already know about the "shale gas revolution" that has turned America into the world’s number one producer of natural gas, ahead of Russia.
Less known is that the technology of hydraulic fracturing - breaking rocks with jets of water - will also bring a quantum leap in shale oil supply, mostly from the Bakken fields in North Dakota, Eagle Ford in Texas, and other reserves across the Mid-West.
"The US was the single largest contributor to global oil supply growth last year, with a net 395,000 barrels per day (b/d)," said Francisco Blanch from Bank of America, comparing the Dakota fields to a new North Sea.
Total US shale output is "set to expand dramatically" as fresh sources come on stream, possibly reaching 5.5m b/d by mid-decade. This is a tenfold rise since 2009.
The US already meets 72pc of its own oil needs, up from around 50pc a decade ago.
"The implications of this shift are very large for geopolitics, energy security, historical military alliances and economic activity. As US reliance on the Middle East continues to drop, Europe is turning more dependent and will likely become more exposed to rent-seeking behaviour from oligopolistic players," said Mr Blanch.
Meanwhile, the China-US seesaw is about to swing the other way. Offshoring is out, 're-inshoring' is the new fashion.
"Made in America, Again" - a report this month by Boston Consulting Group - said Chinese wage inflation running at 16pc a year for a decade has closed much of the cost gap. China is no longer the "default location" for cheap plants supplying the US.
A "tipping point" is near in computers, electrical equipment, machinery, autos and motor parts, plastics and rubber, fabricated metals, and even furniture.
"A surprising amount of work that rushed to China over the past decade could soon start to come back," said BCG's Harold Sirkin.
The gap in "productivity-adjusted wages" will narrow from 22pc of US levels in 2005 to 43pc (61pc for the US South) by 2015. Add in shipping costs, reliability woes, technology piracy, and the advantage shifts back to the US.
The list of "repatriates" is growing. Farouk Systems is bringing back assembly of hair dryers to Texas after counterfeiting problems; ET Water Systems has switched its irrigation products to California; Master Lock is returning to Milwaukee, and NCR is bringing back its ATM output to Georgia. NatLabs is coming home to Florida.
Boston Consulting expects up to 800,000 manufacturing jobs to return to the US by mid-decade, with a multiplier effect creating 3.2m in total. This would take some sting out of the Long Slump.
As Philadelphia Fed chief Sandra Pianalto said last week, US manufacturing is "very competitive" at the current dollar exchange rate. Whether intended or not, the Fed's zero rates and $2.3 trillion printing blitz have brought matters to an abrupt head for China.
Fed actions confronted Beijing with a Morton's Fork of ugly choices: revalue the yuan, or hang onto the mercantilist dollar peg and import a US monetary policy that is far too loose for a red-hot economy at the top of the cycle. Either choice erodes China's wage advantage. The Communist Party chose inflation.
Foreign exchange effects are subtle. They take a long to time play out as old plant slowly runs down, and fresh investment goes elsewhere. Yet you can see the damage to Europe from an over-strong euro in foreign direct investment (FDI) data.
Flows into the EU collapsed by 63p from 2007 to 2010 (UNCTAD data), and fell by 77pc in Italy. Flows into the US rose by 5pc.
Volkswagen is investing $4bn in America, led by its Chattanooga Passat plant. Korea's Samsung has begun a $20bn US investment blitz. Meanwhile, Intel, GM, and Caterpillar and other US firms are opting to stay at home rather than invest abroad.
Europe has only itself to blame for the current “hollowing out” of its industrial base. It craved its own reserve currency, without understanding how costly this “exorbitant burden” might prove to be.
China and the rising reserve powers have rotated a large chunk of their $10 trillion stash into EMU bonds to reduce their dollar weighting. The result is a euro too strong for half of EMU.
The European Central Bank has since made matters worse (for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France) by keeping rates above those of the US, UK, and Japan. That has been a deliberate policy choice. It let real M1 deposits in Italy contract at a 7pc annual rate over the summer. May it live with the consequences.
The trade-weighted dollar has been sliding for a decade, falling 37pc since 2001. This roughly replicates the post-Plaza slide in the late 1980s, which was followed - with a lag - by 3pc of GDP shrinkage in the current account deficit. The US had a surplus by 1991.
Charles Dumas and Diana Choyleva from Lombard Street Research argue that this may happen again in their new book "The American Phoenix".
The switch in advantage to the US is relative. It does not imply a healthy US recovery. The global depression will grind on as much of the Western world tightens fiscal policy and slowly purges debt, and as China deflates its credit bubble.
Yet America retains a pack of trump cards, and not just in sixteen of the world’s top twenty universities.
It is almost the only economic power with a fertility rate above 2.0 - and therefore the ability to outgrow debt - in sharp contrast to the demographic decay awaiting Japan, China, Korea, Germany, Italy, and Russia.
Europe's EMU soap opera has shown why it matters that America is a genuine nation, forged by shared language and the ancestral chords of memory over two centuries, with institutions that ultimately work and a real central bank able to back-stop the system.
The 21st Century may be American after all, just like the last.
23016  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Statfor: Escalation of the Euro crisis on: November 03, 2011, 10:46:22 AM
As always, unexamined Keynesian type assumptions lurk in Stratfor's economic ananlyses, but the larger picture painted of a Europe unravelling bears consideration.
=========================

The G-20 Summit Amid Escalation of the European Crisis
Five EU summits in the past two weeks have failed to stem the European financial crisis. In fact, by some measures the agreements reached have made it worse. European leaders proved unwilling to commit more of their own financial resources to the ongoing bailout program. So the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), which until recently claimed 440 billion euros of funding capacity and offered full guarantees for any investment in European bailouts, now will guarantee at most 25 percent. The idea is that the facility could now stretch four times as far. But as Klaus Regling, the facility’s manager, discovered during a visit to East Asia, no one is interested in investing in the EFSF if the guarantees are gone. Europe’s bailout fund has gone from a funding capacity of 440 billion euros in fairly certain cash, to at best a far lesser amount.
“Europe’s politicians are losing their ability to manage the European crisis.”
In the meantime, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced plans to refer the eurozone’s bailout program for his country to a public referendum (assuming he himself survives a confidence vote on Friday). The Greeks are furious at being forced to operate under eurozone-mandated austerity, which leaves the country little hope of ever growing out from under their debt load, despite sharp write-downs negotiated as part of the bailout package. Should the Greeks vote down the bailout program, its funds will stop flowing to the country. Greece will default and be pushed, either by its own economic circumstances or by its European partners, out of the eurozone. Financial markets will shut out any other damaged states — most notably Italy — and the threat of default will repeat on a far larger scale. A meaningful bailout facility must be in place to keep the eurozone from breaking up.
If we are indeed witnessing the beginning of the end of the European project, we may also be seeing the last of the Cold War’s geopolitical support structures unwind. One of the primary reasons for the EU’s formation was to serve as the economic muscle tissue on the security skeleton of NATO. The West used those two entities to forge the political, economic and military integration needed to fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union. But just as NATO has struggled to find a reason to continue existing in the new era, the EU has discovered that without NATO eliminating competition in Europe, the idea of sharing a common foreign policy and military policy, as well as common markets and currencies, is dubious at best.
Europe’s politicians are losing their ability to manage the European crisis. A generation ago, Germany would have had no choice but to bail out Greece. But Germany is breaking free of its Cold War restrictions and has firmly resisted. A generation ago, Greece could have been made to accept the conditions of a bailout, regardless of the suffering inflicted. But the ties that bind Europe are no longer reinforced by the United States, and Greece is now at liberty to make its own decisions. A generation ago, Europeans would accept the decisions their leaders made. But with the pall of the Cold War gone, citizens across the Continent are choosing to follow nationalist inclinations at the expense of the European ideal. Nationalism isn’t creeping back into Europe — it has already arrived. It just hasn’t taken formal power yet.
The present crop of European leaders is not familiar with a world in which Europe is simply the name of the continent on which they live. Most of them will be swept out of power by the current political changes.
Only those politicians who learn to bolster their personal political standings with stances that benefit their own states will remain relevant. Case in point: French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel asserted today that no new bailout funds will flow to Greece until the results of the latter’s referendum are known. Such populist grandstanding may play well at home for a president facing a tough re-election vote this April, but it comes at the cost of nudging the Greek population to trigger a financial disaster: Greece will default far sooner if it loses its ongoing bailout support.
This is the European backdrop as the Group of 20 meets in Cannes, France on Thursday and Friday. Europe’s crisis has advanced to the degree that European structures threaten to fall apart. The resources to fix these structures are available even now, but Europeans are refusing to share what they have with each other. For the leaders coming to Cannes, the summit promises a strong dose of drama. And it may empty of Europeans, who may spend most of the G-20 summit on the sidelines, holding their own meetings in an attempt to stave off any further escalation of the crisis.
There is little that the visitors can do to help Europe if the Europeans are unwilling to help themselves; other visiting leaders at the G-20 summit can do little more than pass the time. Meanwhile, STRATFOR has to start imagining what the world might look like if Europe as we know it begins to unravel.
23017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 02, 2011, 11:09:21 PM
"c) and that Slick Willie dropped his drawers.   I gather that she also gave some specifics about the appearance of Clinton's penis (that it curved when erect) though one wonders how verifying evidence would be obtained , , ,"

"In investigations of sexual assault, a subpeona for non-testimonial evidence can require a medical exam of a suspect to confirm notable physical characteristics, or to gather evidence of the assault."

I was wondering how he would be aroused for the exam , , , and who would do it, , , ,
23018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 02, 2011, 10:20:55 PM
Good reminders of media bias, but pertaining more to the Media thread.

BTW BD in the Paula Jones case:

a) SHE PUT HER NAME TO IT.
b) Her allegation was that she was summoned to the Governor's presence by a State Trooper
c) and that Slick Willie dropped his drawers.   I gather that she also gave some specifics about the appearance of Clinton's penis (that it curved when erect) though one wonders how verifying evidence would be obtained , , ,
d) Clinton had quite the rep as the ladies man
e) Clinton was married to Hillary

Quite a contrast here!




23019  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Not enough to worry about? That's just fg great on: November 02, 2011, 05:55:42 PM
I'm not real wild about the WSJ putting this out there for millions of eyeballs , , ,
===================================================

By ANDREW F. KREPINEVICH
Nearly 60 years ago the classic television documentary series "Victory at Sea" first recounted the U.S. Navy's exploits during World War II. Several episodes highlighted the Battle of the Atlantic against German submarines that were waging guerrilla war at sea. Their objective: destroy allied cargo ships providing an economic lifeline from America to Britain.

The German submarines pursued a form of warfare known as commerce raiding, attacking the enemy's economic assets at sea. The U.S., British and Canadian navies won the Battle of the Atlantic, thanks to their use of convoys and exploitation of advances in antisubmarine warfare technology and tactics—but only after suffering horrendous losses in blood and treasure.

At war's end, the United States emerged as far and away the world's predominant naval power. Since then the U.S. commitment to providing unfettered access to the world's seas to all nations has enabled an era of economic globalization and growth.

Memories of a time when access to the seas was not guaranteed have faded. Yet much has changed in the past 60 years. Two developments in particular suggest a growing need for the United States and other peaceful nations to begin thinking anew about how to defend their maritime commerce, albeit under very different circumstances.

The first development is the emergence of an undersea economy. Two years after World War II, in 1947, the first offshore discovery of oil out of sight of land occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Today nearly 30% of U.S. oil production and 15% of gas production is produced from wells on the Outer Continental Shelf. Globally, some 30% of the world's oil output comes from offshore production.

An enormous amount of capital investment has gone into creating this undersea energy infrastructure. This includes the oil platforms that drill, extract and temporarily store oil and gas, as well as the oil and gas wellheads, pipelines and pumps required to transfer the product from its undersea location to shore.

This vast infrastructure was built with the assumption that while it would have to weather natural disasters, it would not be a target in war. In military parlance, much of the infrastructure comprises "soft" targets that would not require much in the way of explosives to cause significant, and perhaps catastrophic, damage. Fortunately many of these targets have not been easy to reach—until now.

This brings us to the second development: the diffusion of military technology and weaponry that can threaten the undersea economy with a new form of commerce raiding.

In recent years, Latin-American narco-cartels have begun moving their cargo by submarine. While not even remotely in a class with the U.S. Navy's submarines, these simple boats are nevertheless capable of operating undersea in littoral waters while moving tons of cocaine. They have a range of up to 2,000 miles and cost but a few million dollars to build. These submarines can submerge to depths of a few dozen feet, which is sufficient to make detection difficult, allowing them to approach offshore oil platforms with little or no warning.

Even more disturbing is the proliferation of unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs, which were once almost exclusively operated by Western militaries. With the growth of the undersea economy, civilian development and production took off in the 1980s. UUVs are now widely used for a variety of commercial and scientific purposes.

These UUVs are perhaps best known for their role in locating sunken ships. Unlike the small submarines operated by narco-cartels, UUVs can descend to the ocean floor. If adapted for military purposes, they could carry mines and other explosives, as well as cameras and electronic sensors. They are also becoming cheaper, with a wide variety of systems available for sale in the private sector.

Then there are naval mines, now manufactured in more than 30 countries. Some producers, like Russia, are developing mines with better sensors, target-recognition systems, stealthy coatings, and self-propulsion systems to enable them to move about. But mines don't need to be sophisticated to be effective, especially against the thousands of soft targets populating the continental shelf.

While narco-cartels are interested in making money, not war, this is not the case with radical nonstate entities or their state sponsors. Some groups, including al Qaeda, seek to achieve victory not by defeating their enemies on the battlefield but by inflicting unacceptable pain or damage, either against defenseless civilians or economic infrastructure. Toward this end, radical Islamists have undertaken attacks, employing far less sophisticated means and with minimal success, on an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden in October 2002 and Saudi oil production facilities in February 2006. Should the U.S. find itself in a confrontation with Iran, it might employ proxies to achieve similar ends.

For a relatively small effort on their part, in short, America's enemies could potentially impose enormous costs on its undersea economy, including loss of energy resources, damaged infrastructure and environmental degradation.

This nascent threat to America's undersea energy assets demands attention before it arrives on the nation's doorstep. The Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Defense Department, should explore the cost and feasibility of options for defending the undersea energy economy, so they can move quickly to build a defensive shield if the need arises. The intelligence community should monitor the threat by focusing on the proliferation of undersea means of attack, especially as it pertains to radical nonstate entities. On the diplomatic front, efforts should be made to engage in this effort friendly states that have significant undersea energy assets of their own, such as Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Given the stakes involved, just as the U.S. and its allies developed the forces, capabilities and methods needed to defend their economic assets at sea during the Battle of the Atlantic, a similar effort is needed now with respect to America's undersea economic interests. The alternative is to hope for the best—and hope is not a strategy.

Mr. Krepinevich is president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

23020  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Inflection Point on: November 02, 2011, 05:45:01 PM


Research Reports
________________________________________
Housing At An Inflection Point To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 11/2/2011
Summary: The long awaited rebound in home building has finally started. Despite large remaining excess inventories, residential construction is poised to grow substantially over the next several years, just to get back to normal levels of building activity. In addition, home prices are at or very close to a bottom, at values that, relative to rents and construction costs, signal considerable appreciation in the years ahead.   
The excess inventory of homes remains enormous. From 1987 through 2001, the number of residents per home hovered narrowly around 2.42. Getting back to that level today would require the elimination of two million homes.
 
If this were all we knew about the housing market, we would have to conclude that national average prices have large further declines ahead.
 
But knowing the size of the excess inventory is only part of the story. To determine future price movements we also have to know how quickly home builders are adding to or subtracting from inventories. The reason should be clear: an excess inventory that is growing would signal lower future prices than an excess inventory that is shrinking.   
 
The US population age 25 and up is rising about 1.1% per year. (The overall population is growing slightly more slowly, about 0.9% per year, but residents below age 25 will not have much impact on the demand for homes in the next few years.) Applying the 1.1% to the 129 million homes we should have today suggests the underlying demand for new housing units is 1.4 million per year, for both owner-occupied and rented homes combined. In addition, the “scrappage” of homes due to disasters and “knock-downs” should create net demand of about 200,000 units per year, bringing annual total demand to 1.6 million.
By contrast, in the past year builders have started (and completed) fewer than 600,000 homes. The gap between total demand and the recent pace of construction puts us on track to eliminate the excess inventory in two years.
Click the link above to view the entire report.
23021  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: November 02, 2011, 04:52:50 PM
 cool
23022  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 02, 2011, 01:13:10 PM
What is the sit rep on the Huatree militia folks trial?

23023  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Price Controls on: November 02, 2011, 01:07:19 PM
Republican's ability to snatch defeat from victory can be frightening indeed.

===========

This week President Obama finally confronted a major U.S. health-care disgrace—the growing shortages of lifesaving drugs, especially anticancer therapies. For some reason the White House lumped its executive order with its "we can't wait" campaign against House Republicans, but the pity is that we will have to wait, because the only genuine fix is a liberal anathema: market prices.

Shortages have more than tripled since 2005, according to the University of Utah's Drug Information Service, and by the end of the year more than 300 products are likely to be back-ordered, in short supply or totally unavailable. Some are anesthetics and pain therapies, others emergency room "crash cart" drugs. But most—about 70% in 2010—belong to the class of drugs known as "sterile injectables" that are mainstays of the chemotherapy arsenal, such as paclitaxel or cytarabine.

The result is that more and more patients are receiving substandard care—relying on less effective or more expensive substitutes or else forced to postpone treatment. In oncology, delays of weeks or even days can be fatal.

Most sterile injectables have been off-patent for decades, but unlike other cheap generic drugs with low profit margins, production is complex and requires special facilities. Nonetheless, George W. Bush and the Republican majority decided that Medicare was "overpaying" for these cancer drugs and included a 6% cap on price increases every six months in the 2003 prescription drug bill. These new price controls (which apply to the providers that purchase the drugs) took effect in 2005, when the shortages began.

In a rational market, sterile injectable prices would now be rising to encourage more supply, since the demand for cancer drugs is inelastic. The old reimbursement system, called "buy and bill," was imperfect, but at least it allowed prices to float and wasn't producing the scarcity that central planning always does. The sterile injectables that are in short supply currently sell for $37.88 a dose on average, and modest price increases could make the market economic.

The problem is compounded because Food and Drug Administration rules cause pointless delays. It takes as long as two and a half years to receive FDA manufacturing approval for a generic, so other drug makers can't ramp up production if a company cancels a product line due to these disincentives or even if the fragile supply chain for sterile injectables is contaminated and manufacture is delayed.

Mr. Obama's executive order will do little if any good since it doesn't address or even mention this underlying distortion that Medicare has created. Instead, it merely expands the FDA reporting requirements about production interruptions or terminations. This is supposed to be an early warning system, but the scandal is that the availability of basic medicines could be allowed to become an emergency.

The order also tells the Justice Department to crack down on the "grey markets" that have sprung up to deliver supplies to doctors and hospitals, albeit with the inevitable markups. So rather than allow price signals to govern supply and demand, Mr. Obama wants to suppress them further.

The larger danger apart from the risks to the patients forced to receive compromised treatment is to the future of cancer progress. The common chemotherapy drugs are critical in clinical trials as the standard regimen or in combination with new options, and the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups reports that as many as half of all ongoing trials require the drugs that are vanishing. This is a delay that really is killing people.

23024  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Colbert takes over OWS on: November 02, 2011, 01:00:29 PM


http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/401092/october-31-2011/colbert-super-pac---occupy-wall-street-co-optportunity---stephen-on-location
23025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Weird scenes from the gold mine: Syrian Pilots in Yemen on: November 02, 2011, 12:23:51 PM

Summary
The An-26 military transport plane that crashed upon landing Oct. 24 in Lahj province, Yemen, killed eight Syrian military personnel and one Yemeni passenger and wounded seven others, including two more Syrians. In the days since the crash, opposition figures have been asking why the regime of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is commissioning Syrian pilots (assuming that those killed in the crash were indeed pilots) to combat opposition forces. The political pressures facing the Syrian regime, not those facing Yemen’s, may be more to blame.

Analysis
Questions are still lingering over the mysterious Oct. 24 crash of a military plane in Yemen that reportedly resulted in the deaths of eight Syrian military personnel and one Yemeni passenger. The An-26 transport plane crashed upon landing at the al Anad air force base in Lahj province, southeast of Sanaa. The cause of the crash remains unclear; Yemeni opposition forces claim it was a Yemeni martyrdom operation by the Yemeni pilot to prevent attacks on opposition forces, but a more reasonable explanation, maintained by the military, is that the crash was due to human and mechanical error. Seven people — two Syrians and five Yemenis — reportedly survived the crash.

The obvious question that Yemeni opposition figures have been positing in the days since the crash is why the regime of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is commissioning Syrian airmen to allegedly combat opposition forces. The answer may have more to do with the political pressures currently being faced by the Syrian regime than with Yemen’s own political crisis.

Since the crash, Yemeni opposition figures belonging to the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) seized the opportunity to criticize the government for allegedly not having enough trained pilots of its own, thereby having to commission Syrian and even Iraqi pilots to conduct attacks on opposition forces. Anonymous military sources in Yemen responded to those allegations in interviews with state-run media in which they claimed that the Syrian airmen had been working as flight trainers at the Faculty of Aviation and Air Defense since August 1999, when a defense cooperation agreement was signed between Syria and Yemen.

It is not surprising to find foreign pilots, particularly Iraqis and Syrians, among Yemen’s air force. Following the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Yemen quietly invited a number of former Iraqi Baathist pilots into its air force to help operate the country’s Soviet-era MiG-29 and Sukhoi jet fighters. Several Iraqi fighter pilots were involved in Yemen’s air offensive on al-Houthi rebel positions in northern Yemen in the fall of 2009.

Syrian pilots have been known to operate in Yemen for some time, but STRATFOR sources have indicated that their presence has expanded recently. It is important to remember that Syria’s air force is dominated by Sunni pilots, though Syrian air force intelligence and command and control systems for the air forces are handled almost exclusively by minority Alawites, who are aligned with the regime. When Syria began experiencing more significant demonstrations in the spring, there were unconfirmed rumors that the regime had grounded part of its air force out of concern that Sunni pilots might defect. A STRATFOR source more recently claimed that as part of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s strategy to prevent Sunni dissent among air force pilots, Syria struck a deal with Saleh to send more Sunni pilots to assist Yemen’s air force. Al Assad’s calculation may have been that the farther away from Syria these pilots were, the less trouble they could cause at home.

At the same time, Yemen’s air force was in need of extra assistance to target al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as well as opposition forces. A STRATFOR source claims that about 60 Syrian pilots are in Yemen and are concentrated in southern Abyan province, where AQAP is more active. While trying to shield itself from potential Sunni military defections at home, the Syrian regime also has tried to use its quiet assistance to the Yemeni regime against AQAP as a way to curry favor with the United States. Syria has attempted similar gestures in the past, sporadically offering intelligence cooperation on militant activity in Iraq as a way of seeking relief from Washington when the need arises.

The crash that exposed the Syrian military presence in Yemen to the public thus offers a peek into Syria’s own handling of its domestic political crisis. There are no signs thus far of serious breaks within the Alawite-dominated military ranks in Syria that would indicate a coup or collapse of the regime is imminent, but the al Assad clan has had to keep a close eye on its air force for good reason. The last thing it wants is for Sunni pilots to defect and flee with major military hardware to a country like Turkey, which has been offering a great deal of vocal support to the opposition but has thus far refrained from following through with plans to establish a military buffer zone along the border with Syria.

Hoping to avoid a situation similar to Libya’s, where rebel fighters were able to use the eastern base of Benghazi as a refuge, the Syrian regime is relying on the heavy Alawite presence in the military overall to keep potential Sunni defectors in check. Sending off a few pilots to Yemen could well be part of this protection strategy as the al Assad regime attempts to ward off further dissent.



Read more: Why Syrian Pilots Are Operating in Yemen | STRATFOR
23026  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: November 02, 2011, 10:58:19 AM
Of course.  Think of all the money she can make now!  Furthermore I somehow doubt the request includes an offer to repay the money originally paid plus compound interest.  rolleyes
23027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 02, 2011, 10:56:29 AM
It will be interesting to see how this develops. 
23028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Trilateral Commission; Rockefeller, Morgan, and War on: November 02, 2011, 03:17:38 AM
There is quite a bit here I disagree with, indeed I wonder if at times it calls to anti-semitic memes.  Nonetheless, given the sophistication of this board, I think we can handle it.  There are things to ponder here.

http://mises.org/daily/5607/Rockefeller-Morgan-and-War
23029  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Earth at Seven Billion on: November 02, 2011, 03:12:44 AM

The Earth at Population 7 Billion
The United Nations Population Fund estimates that the world’s 7 billionth person was born Oct. 31. Understanding demography is a core part of STRATFOR’s work, as it colors a great many factors, from whether a state can balance its budget to whether a state will be capable of defending itself.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the increase in population is putting pressure on the global ecosystem and threatening the balance of power in the world. As the story goes, the poorer states are breeding so rapidly that within a few generations they will overwhelm the West and Japan — assuming the environment survives the rising tide of people.
“So while the absolute population of the developed world will crest within the next generation, that of the world as a whole will level out and begin to decline sometime in the next two to three generations.”
That thinking obscures a far more complex reality. Four factors help properly analyze the impact of population growth. First, populations are indeed cresting in the developed world — and appear already to have done so in Germany and Japan. Because of large gains in life expectancy, these cresting populations are first aging. Third, while a senior citizen and an infant both count as a single person from a census point of view, only one of them can one day have children — in other words, aging is the last step before a population begins declining. The developed world is moving into an era of shrinking populations. And before anyone thinks that the masses of the developing world are about to take over, the demographic profiles of the major developing states are only three decades behind the developed world.
So while the absolute population of the developed world will crest within the next generation, that of the world as a whole will level out and begin to decline sometime in the next two to three generations.
This trend of aging, followed by shrinking populations, is already rewriting the geopolitical environment. A normal population structure is tilted toward the young: there are many babies, fewer children, still fewer young adults, and so on. Young adults support children, but they are at the low ebb of their earning potential. Young adults’ large numbers plus low earning power combine with their high living costs to make them debtors. Older adults have finished raising children, and their earning power is at its zenith: They are a society’s creditors. A typical population structure features fewer mature adults than young adults, which leads to weak capital supply but strong capital demand. Loans are expensive, borrowing is difficult and cost efficiency is of crucial importance. This was the normal state of affairs globally in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The modern era’s trend of aging-but-not-yet-declining populations has changed all of these calculations. There are many more mature adults in all developing countries than there are young adults. Capital supply is robust as those mature workers save for their retirement and pay more taxes than when they were younger (or both). But there are fewer young families to absorb the available capital. In such a capital-rich environment, borrowing costs plummet, leaving substantial room to lower taxes. Economic growth greatly increases when money management becomes a booming industry as every saver looks for ways to earn returns on investments. Sectors become overinvested and bubbles form; volatility and financial crashes become more common.
Demography drove economies to this condition in the 1990s, when credit (and thus growth) increased. In the 2000s, mature workers produced a good deal of excess capital. The 2010s find the global economy correcting itself after 20 years of excess-capital-driven growth — at the same time as mature workers are retiring and leaving their capital-supplying role.
A darker period is likely to dawn by the 2020s. Most of those high-wage earners will have retired — they will no longer supply capital and instead will depend on the state to issue their pensions. The cost of capital will invert strongly. The generation born between 1964 and 1979 — characterized by its low numbers — will be responsible for supplying capital. Not only will they have to fund the younger generations, they also will have to support the pensions and geriatric-support programs created by their predecessors. Since the developing world’s aging process lags about 30 years behind that of the developed world, this same generation will act as the primary capital suppliers to the entire world.
“Perhaps the most unexpected outcome of population patterns is that the developed world will have a massive interest in attracting immigrants.”
The developing world started to age too late. Its countries will lack enough mature workers to generate the capital needed to replace that which can no longer be imported from the developed world. The developing world will experience the financial challenges of the developed world, without having built up the infrastructure and industrial base the developed world has had for three generations. Such capital scarcity threatens to halt growth across the poorer parts of the planet. It will also make for strange bedfellows: The only hope the developed world’s ’64-’79 generation will have to meet their bills is to import more taxpayers. Perhaps the most unexpected outcome of population patterns is that the developed world will have a massive interest in attracting immigrants.
The aforementioned analysis is what the picture will look like on a global scale — but with demography, every country and region in many ways constitutes a unique reality. The trends that shape demography are affected by geography and culture. The overarching trend is of a shrinking global population, but there are dozens of standalone stories where that trend is either bucked, magnified or otherwise interpreted through the lens of the locality. Here are five examples:
Russia’s population started shrinking some 20 years ago due to the influence of alcoholism, drug abuse and communicable diseases rather than due to having achieved affluence. That difference in causality whittled away the morale of Russia’s potential young parents so deeply that Russia now has more citizens in their 20s, 30s, even their 60s, than it has teenagers. Russian power may well be in sharp ascendance currently, but it is entirely likely that in about 10 years time, the Russians will lack the people they need to man a sizable army, or perhaps even to maintain a modern society.
India is the only major developing state that is still experiencing a normal population profile (in which there are more babies than children and more children than young adults, etc.). This could make India the world’s workforce, but the country probably will soon be the target of huge citizen-recruitment programs from the rest of the world. Unless India can make a significant leap in the quality of its mass education, the coming brain drain will deplete the country’s skilled labor.
China’s population stands at more than a billion, but after thirty years of the one-child policy and of population movements from rural to urban areas, the Chinese birthrate has fallen dramatically. Only Japan is aging faster than China. Even if STRATFOR is wrong and the Chinese economy does not collapse over the next few years, it will struggle mightily to survive the 2020s, when China faces sharp qualitative labor shortages. China’s economy depends on attractive labor costs — the looming bottoming out of the cheap, low-skilled labor pool could be a deathblow.
Brazil may not turn out as capital-starved as much of the developing world. The country’s demographic has not inverted, but merely slowed: its number of 20- and 30-year-olds is similar to its number of teenagers and children. In two decades, Brazil may have a population structure that makes it relatively capital rich (by the standards of the world in 2040). It could well become the only major developing state that can generate its own capital and not depend on the developed world’s shrinking capital supplies. And thanks to the local opportunities that local capital can create, it might avoid losing too much of its skilled labor to foreign recruitment.
The United States is the only developed state that still can claim a positive demographic profile, and this is before factoring in immigration. In the developed world, only New Zealand is younger than the United States, and the United States is the only developed state that has a young generation strong in numbers — those born between 1980 and 1999 are second in number only to the baby boomers, who are currently in the process of retiring. As such, the United States not only faces the least severe shift from capital excess to capital scarcity, it is also the only developed state that can hope to grow out of the current demographic period in anything less than sixty years. In the 2020s, the United States will have a good number of citizens in their 30s, who are capable of having children. Across Europe, the dominant generation at that time will consist of people in their 50s and 60s. America’s adjustment will still be difficult, but it alone among the major powers will still have excess capital and a younger generation capable of supporting its economic systems.
STRATFOR would like to extend its thanks to the fine people at the U.S. Census Bureau who collect, organize and share their statistics on global population. You can access their data here
23030  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Brooklyn gun battle on: November 01, 2011, 11:03:07 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=77oEbPQs8DQ
23031  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The true game on: November 01, 2011, 10:55:47 PM

Third post


Sen. Feinstein: Lax gun control is real ‘problem’ with Fast and Furious
By Matthew Boyle - The Daily Caller


Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that lax gun control laws, not Obama administration malfeasance within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF), was the real problem uncovered by Operation Fast and Furious.

“My concern, Mr. Chairman, is there’s been a lot said about Fast and Furious, and perhaps mistakes were made, but I think this hunt for blame doesn’t really speak about the problem,” Feinstein said during the Tuesday hearing. “And the problem is, anybody can walk in and buy anything, .50-caliber weapons, sniper weapons, buy them in large amounts, and send them down to Mexico. So, the question really becomes, what do we do about this?”

“I’ve been here 18 years,” Feinstein continued. (Many thanks to the people of California for that - LD) “I’ve watched the BATF get beaten up at every turn on the road. And, candidly, it’s just not right.”

After the hearing, Feinstein’s staff refused to answer when The Daily Caller asked how gun control laws would have prevented the abuses in Operation Fast and Furious when the law enforcement agents responsible for upholding gun laws were the individuals giving the weapons to drug cartels.

They also refused to say whether the Sen. Feinstein wanted to hold Obama administration officials accountable for shipping guns into Mexico, for Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder, or for the murders of countless Mexican citizens directly resulting from the failed gun-walking program.

When TheDC asked if Sen. Feinstein cared about the program’s connections to the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata, Feinstein’s spokesman pointed to a comment she made during a March 9, 2011 hearing. Then, Feinstein did not mention any relationship between the murder and Operation Fast and Furious.

House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa recently indicated that Attorney General Eric Holder may be withholding more information about Zapata’s murder.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Sen. Feinstein advocated for Operation Fast and Furious as a springboard from which to advocate for gun control laws, including national databases and government-controlled firearms registration. She argued that such laws would prevent future programs like Fast and Furious from reaching maturity.

“So, the question comes, what can we do?,” Feinstein asked Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, a hearing witness. “And, I’d really rather concentrate on the constructive, rather than other things, so the questions comes: Do you believe that, if there were some form of registration when you purchase these firearms, that that would make a difference?”

Breuer, a high-ranking Obama administration official who is notable for his willingness to accept some responsibility for the scandal, said it would.

“Senator, we’re talking today about transnational organized crime,” Breuer said, ”and your leadership, and the chairman’s, and other senators’ shows that information — information — is the tool we need to challenge and defeat organized crime.”

“I know others disagree,” Feinstein added, “but we have very lax laws when it comes to guns and I think, to some extent, this influences BATF as to whether they have political support or not,” Feinstein said. “But, I think these numbers are shocking — and when you know the number of deaths these guns have caused, used by cartels against victims, it’s literally up in the tens of thousands.”

According to the Obama administration’s BATF, 70 percent of weapons recovered in Mexico come from the United States. Feinstein insisted those numbers are a “very deep concern for me.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, contested the weapons-trafficking statistics Feinstein and Breuer cited, arguing that they appear to make the U.S. appear to be a more rampant source of illicit firearms than is actually the case. Grassley has been challenging those statistics since June, when he wrote a letter to then-acting BATF director Ken Melson.

“I am concerned that the selective release of certain statistical data without further clarification and categorization may inaccurately reflect the scope and source of the problem of firearms in Mexico and the DTO [drug trafficking organization] violence,” Grassley wrote to Melson in June.

At least 29 members of Congress have now called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over Operation Fast and Furious. With a Tuesday tweet, North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones became the latest, writing: “It’s time for Eric Holder to go!”

23032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Orwellian cesspool thickens on: November 01, 2011, 10:54:06 PM
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer Blames Second Amendment For ATF/DOJ Gun Walking Mistakes
Katie Pavlich


During a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing today on Capitol Hill, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who is facing pressure surrounding his role in the Obama Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious, asked for more gun control and blamed law abiding gun shop owners for violence in Mexico.

Breuer declared that nearly 70 percent of guns found in Mexico come from the United States, a figure that has been disproven by the National Rifle Association, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and by Senator Charles Grassley’s office multiple times. Also during testimony, Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein pushed for more gun control and Breuer expressed his agreement with her statements that American gun laws are too “lax” and therefore result it more violent crime.

Feinstein asked Breuer if he thought a reporting measure for long gun rifles would be helpful to ATF. Breuer answered yes. Remember, the Department of Justice has already circumvented Congress by requiring the sale of multiple long gun rifles in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas be reported to the ATF. These new regulations were implemented in early July 2011:


Quote:
The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States. Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border. This new reporting measure -- tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period -- will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations. These targeted information requests will occur in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to help confront the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico and along the Southwest Border. 

“The problem is, anybody can walk in [to a gun shop] and buy anything,” Feinstein said.

This comment by Feinstein was particularly disappointing considering during Operation Fast and Furious law abiding gun shop owners expressed deep discomfort with selling massive amounts of high powered weapons to known drug cartel straw purchasers, yet ATF officials told them to do so anyway, saying they would be “serving their country” by helping ATF in the operation.

Breuer said the number one tool he needs is to know when guns are purchased, essentially what can be interpreted as a national reporting measure. What Breuer and Feinstein are missing is this: The Obama Justice Department in partnership with ATF is the largest American supplier of weapons to Mexican drug cartels through Operation Fast and Furious; not law abiding gun shops. See Obama DOJ Gave Cartel Enough Guns to Arm a Marine Regiment.

Also, Breuer tried to claim that when Operation Fast and Furious came to light publically in Spring 2011 through media reports, ATF officials “made it clear” they don’t condone walking guns. Not true, in fact William Newell, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division at the time Operation Fast and Furious was implemented (he has since been promoted to a cushy position in Washington D.C.) and carried out, wouldn’t rule out the idea of conducting another program like Fast and Furious in the future when asked during Congressional testimony in July 2011.

As I wrote in July after a House Oversight Hearing about Fast and Furious:

Former ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell would not condemn Operation Fast and Furious and allowing guns to walk into Mexico during testimony and questioning. In fact, Newell went so far as to say he was unaware of guns walking into Mexico, despite internal emails showing he did know. Newell admitted the agency made mistakes but would not admit the program was a bad idea and exposed that he was in communication with a member of the White House national security team. His testimony also conflicted with previous testimony given by Special Agent John Dodson of the Phoenix Field Division who said on June 15, “Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated.”

“At no time in our strategy was it to allow guns to be taken to Mexico,” Newell said, adding that at no time did his agency allow guns to walk.

“You’re entitled to your opinion, not your own facts,” Issa responded.

Yesterday Breuer came out publically to admit he had made a “mistake” by not telling Attorney General Eric Holder about gun walking that occurred under the Bush Administration through Operation Wide Receiver, saying essentially he should have sounded a warning about gun walking when it started to occur during Fast and Furious, but he remained silent. It is important to point out that under Wide Receiver, there was an effort to track 300 weapons in collaboration with the Mexican Government. Under Operation Fast and Furious, there was no effort to track 2,000 guns that were purposely walked in to Mexico and the Mexican Government was left in the dark about the operation. Today during testimony, Breuer said he, “Didn’t draw the connection,” between the tactics used in the two separate programs, which is hard to believe.

Breuer’s testimony and statements about “not making connections” between two separate but similar gunwalking programs and his claim he never told Attorney General Holder about his concerns or Fast and Furious at all, raise new questions.

Why is Breuer coming out with these revelations now? The House Oversight Committee Investigation into Fast and Furious has been going on for months, yet Breuer all the sudden regrets not sounding the alarm about the dangers of gunwalking when Operation Fast and Furious started in the Fall of 2009? While claiming he never told Attorney General Eric Holder about the program? Although Breuer claims he personally never told Holder about the tactics being used in Fast and Furious, five detailed memos about the lethal program dated July and August 2010 were addressed directly to Holder. Despite Breuer’s testimony, the question of “who authorized Fast and Furious,” remains unanswered.



"The American people—and especially the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry—deserve answers from the Justice Department about why they claim they didn’t know gunwalking was occurring in Operation Fast and Furious when the department’s fingerprints are all over it," Senator Grassley said during the hearing.

It looks like someone, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, is falling on a sword, and that sword happens to be Eric Holder’s.
23033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DOJ's Orwellian strategy on: November 01, 2011, 10:51:48 PM


A proposed revision to Freedom of Information Act rules would allow federal agencies to lie to citizens and reporters seeking certain records, telling them the records don’t exist.

The Justice Department has proposed the change as part of a large revision of FOIA rules for federal agencies. Specifically, the rule would direct government agencies who are denying a request under an established FOIA exemption to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist,” rather than citing the relevant exemption.

The proposed rule has alarmed government transparency advocates across the political spectrum, who’ve called it “Orwellian” and say it will “twist” public access to government. 

Justice Dept. proposes lying, hiding existence of records under new FOIA rule
http://dailycaller.com/2011/10/24/justice-dept-proposes-lying-hiding-existence-of-records-under-new-foia-rule/#ixzz1cPrGQbez

__________________
23034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: November 01, 2011, 09:50:44 PM
The legend returns from the mists of elsewhere!  cool
23035  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Winter Camp 2012 on: November 01, 2011, 06:17:31 PM
That is part of the logic  grin

Pretty Kitty and I are working on the cost.  Also, we will be seeing if we can get a group discount rate at the Best Western Hotel (which is on the water btw) or some other decent place.

23036  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 01, 2011, 06:15:17 PM
Tactical Analyst Ben West discusses online activists Anonymous’ continued efforts against Mexican drug cartels and the cartels’ responses.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   Mexico’s Cartels Draw Online Activists’ Ire
•    Dispatch: Implications of a Mexican Drug Lord’s Capture
•   Mexican Drug War Update: The Polarization Continues
A member of the online activist group, Anonymous, released a video statement October 31 stating that it will continue to search for and publicize sensitive data about Mexican criminal organizations despite the physical threat of doing so.
Based upon past examples, the latest Anonymous campaign against Los Zetas could spill over into the real world, resulting in violence and deaths as Los Zetas target a new group.
Online media has been in conflict with Mexican criminal and drug organizations for some time now. Journalists are known to be targets of the cartels and plenty have been killed in the past.
Bloggers are also included in the online media campaign against the cartels, but they have typically not been targeted as much — likely because the information they post has not had as much of an impact on cartel operations as the journalists have.
However, that could be changing with the addition of Anonymous to the anti-cartel online media campaign in Mexico.
Throughout August and September of this year four people with connections to anti-cartel blog websites have been attacked.
• Two individuals killed and hung from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo with signs warning not to post on blogs.
• A girl found beheaded in Nuevo Laredo who had contributed to anti-cartel blogs in the past.
• Additionally, an Anonymous member claimed that a volunteer was abducted by Los Zetas while distributing pamphlets in Veracruz.
Anonymous has conducted successful Distributed Denial of Service Attacks on institutions such as Visa and MasterCard and has stolen sensitive information from HB Gary Federal in 2011 and subsequently publicized internal emails from that group. It brings together a group of individuals with a higher skill-set and sense of operational security than the less savvy anti-cartel bloggers already active in Mexico.
This higher skill-set means that Anonymous could contribute to the effectiveness of the online struggle against the cartels or at least bring more publicity to the issue. It’s important to remember that the U.S. has been engaging in its own electronic observation of the Mexican cartels for years. Anonymous likely won’t be able to turn up more information than the U.S. government already has, but they are able to publicize more information than the U.S. government can.
If Anonymous is able to increase the effectiveness of online operations seeking to expose cartel activities then that makes them and other anti-cartel bloggers in Mexico much higher profile targets than before.
Anonymous is not an organization. It’s important to remember, it is a loose association of individuals. It’s not the group itself then, but the individuals involved, who become targets of the cartels.
We have seen reports that Los Zetas are deploying their own teams of computer experts to track those individuals involved in the online anti-cartel campaign, which indicates that the criminal group is taking the campaign very seriously. Those individuals involved face the risk of abduction, injury and death — judging by how Los Zetas has dealt with threats in the past.
23037  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Chicago Nov 19-21 on: November 01, 2011, 03:21:35 PM
Nanny nanny boo boo to you too  cheesy

BTW, I think Surf Dog may be judging the main event or the co-main event.
23038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 01, 2011, 01:58:42 PM
Quite right.

Separately I would offer that GM's post of McCardle on 10/7 is worth rereading.
23039  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Why aren't men born circumcized? on: November 01, 2011, 01:32:50 PM
second post

Why Aren’t Men Born Circumcised?   Cheshvan 4, 5772 • November 1, 2011
By Tzvi Freeman
Print this Page


Question:

You keep touting mitzvahs as things G d wants us to do. But if that were true, why didn’t He create the universe that way in the first place? If He doesn’t want us eating pork, why did He make it edible? If he wants men circumcised, why aren’t they born that way? Why are we messing around with the way He made things—and claiming that we’re doing His will?

Answer:

Funny thing, I get that circumcision question a lot—but no one ever asks about ear-piercing, shaving or hair removal. Seems it’s an oldie, because Rabbi Judah the Prince, the famous redactor of the Mishnah, also had it posed to him by some Roman philosopher.1 In typical Jewish fashion, he responded that the same question could be asked of haircuts—why not let it grow? Or of grain growing in the field—why don’t bread loaves grow instead? Similarly, I could ask why G d makes earthquakes and then require that we go and pull the people out. Why make illness and then require that we develop medicines? And if we were supposed to wear clothes, I suppose He would make us furry, right?

Rabbi Judah’s answer was that everything G d made in His world requires some sort of fixing. That’s how the creation story in Genesis sums it up: “. . . all His work that G d created to do.” To do, the sages say, means to fix.

The question remains, why? If He wants it fixed, why not fix it Himself? Or better, don’t make it broken to begin with.

The answer takes more than one fascinating form:

1. To make us partners
Providing us mitzvahs to do is the ultimate act of generosity. If He had made a perfect world and beamed us down to enjoy it, He would effectively be rendering us parasites. By leaving some things incomplete and instructing us to fill them in, He promotes us to a full partnership in His creative work. And what aspect of His creative work? That which fulfills its true inner purpose, His innermost desire.

2. To render us real
Taking that a little further: Imagine a world conjured out of G d’s imagination, instantly behaving exactly the way He wished it should behave. What is there that is real or significant about this creation? What makes it any more than a whimsical fantasy?

Imagine you just made Pinocchio. Imagine you wanted Pinocchio to be your little boy. But imagine that Pinocchio has no free will, and even if he did, had everything laid out for him with no options in which to express that free will. Pinocchio is not your little boy, he’s just a nicely carved hunk of wood with suspenders.

By turning to us, the conscious characters within that creation, and saying, “Please do this . . . ,” G d provides us free will, along with the areas in which to express that free will. Mitzvahs, then, are the elements that render us real, to become “a significant other.” Or, in Torah language, kadosh—which we translate as holy.

Not only we, but also all the objects and activities that are implicated in the mitzvah, are rendered significant and kadosh.
Which, by the way, solves an enigma in the life story of the patriarch Abraham. At one hundred years of age, Abraham underwent circumcision. But didn’t he know earlier that circumcision was a desirable act for spiritual hikers, like himself, trying to get close to G d? The question is especially acute according to the Talmud’s statement that Abraham fulfilled the entire Torah although it was not yet given.2 So why did he leave out this not-such-a-detail mitzvah until he had to be told?

Our answer, however, solves the puzzle. If Abraham had performed the circumcision before being commanded, he would be doing it just like any other created being doing something nice. Once G d declares that it is now His official will that Abraham and his household be circumcised, the act of circumcision becomes a mitzvah, rendering the body of the circumcised significant and kadosh. Since circumcision, unlike other mitzvot, is a one-time-only opportunity, Abraham waited for G d’s command before opting in.

3. That’s just the way innermost desires work

Plunging yet deeper for the intrepid intellect, this is an inherent distinction between secondary and primary desires. Feeling intrepid? Hang in there.

Let’s start with a parallel from the human being. We also have intrinsic, primary desires rumbling beneath the surface of our consciousness—for example, the desire for territory, for love, for confirmation of our existence—whatever they are and however you wish to express them. These desires surface in the form of secondary desires: to earn money, to look good, to compete—all the mad races of human beings upon this planet.

Now take a look at how these two sorts of desires manifest. The secondary desires jump out immediately and spontaneously. The inner, primary desires, on the other hand, unfold gradually, sometimes after many years—in some cases, never achieving fruition. We run through our entire lives rarely, if ever, understanding why we do all the things we do.
Why is it this way, that inner desires do not manifest spontaneously, but unfold? Rabbi Shalom DovBer of Lubavitch explained: If a desire has any outward expression, it is already not the real you. As soon as you can know of it and feel it and act upon it, it is already a movement away from the innermost core.

Ironically, by this paradigm, the deepest expressions of the divine will are those acts which He did not expressly tell us to do, but which Jewish communities derived through study and celebration of His Torah. Examples are the rabbinical enactments and safeguards, customs and embellishments known as hiddur mitzvah. We, as a community, decided to send gifts of food to one another on Purim, to eat fruits on Tu B’Shvat, to dance with the Torah on the day we conclude the cycle of its readings. These are the most exquisite expression of desire closest to the core—that which cannot be commanded or told, sometimes not even alluded to in a nuance of the text, but sensed only by those who are immersed with their entire souls in His Torah with love.

It seems more than slightly absurd to apply human psychology to the One who came up with their design to begin with. In truth, the idea applies to Him in its most absolute sense. We are but the cheap imitation, created this way, “in His image,” so that we can come to some understanding of His workings with this world by more deeply examining ourselves.
You see, our innermost desires are innate: since we are human beings, we desire territory, love, etc. Our desires are really needs. The Creator has no needs; He is entirely free in every respect to choose whatever He wishes to desire. Once He has so chosen, however, then certain needs spring into place. Since those needs are conceived by necessity, they are born into existence by necessity. But since the inner desires are chosen by His free will, they are manifest in our world through our free will.

Let’s take an example: G d decides to desire that the seventh day will be a day of rest, so that Creator and created can commune in a state of un-movement. That’s an inner desire—nothing preceded it, demanding that it must be so. But once that desire is in place, there is now a need for a world that is created in six days, so that on the seventh, G d will rest, and His created beings will rest along with Him.

The second desire appeared spontaneously, and therefore is manifest in the same way: G d never asks the creation to create itself in six days, or forbids it to be created in five or seven or any other way. He dictates and so it occurs. The primary desire, however, that we should rest together, appears as a mitzvah: Just as G d chose it of His free will, so the human being must choose of his free will to observe the Shabbat.

Another example: G d chose of His free will that there will be conscious beings inside His creation that will declare His oneness every morning and night—a.k.a. “Shema Yisrael.” Accordingly, there must be morning and there must be night. That implies us creatures living upon a planet where darkness and light alternate, which in turn is fulfilled by a simple relationship between the movements of our planet and that of a fiery globe beyond us. Again, the patterns of nature are set in firmware, while the underlying desire that gave rise to those patterns is left as a user event.

And one more: G d chose to desire that physical beings make a covenant with Him through their physical bodies—and by implication there must be physicality, bodies, and a certain place on the body for circumcision. That which exists by implication becomes the natural order, occurring spontaneously within our natural world. The innermost desire is left up to us to choose, and to carry out.

Along with our choice to rescue survivors, heal the sick, and wherever we can, otherwise fix the world.

FOOTNOTES

1.
Genesis Rabbah 11:6
2.
Talmud, Yoma 28b; Leviticus Rabbah 2:9. See How Did the Torah Exist Before It Happened?

23040  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Murder rates in Central America on: November 01, 2011, 12:42:00 PM


Region - Small Arms Survey: Central America is the most violent region in the world

The Small Arms Survey declared during a presentation on 27 October 2011 at the United Nations in Geneva that Central America is the most violent region in the world. The study, conducted from 2004-2009, showed that there are 29 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, and Central Americans are more likely to die a violent death than those countries at war. El Salvador showed the highest murder rate with 62 per 100,000 inhabitants, while Honduras and Guatemala showed 49 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
23041  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Unleashing the Soul in your Child on: November 01, 2011, 12:31:32 PM
Unleashing the Soul in Your Child   Cheshvan 4, 5772 • November 1, 2011
By Rochel Pritsker


I was speaking with a ten-year-old about her birthday and why it is important. From her perspective, the best part of a birthday was getting older and enjoying cake and presents. I smiled. I have heard this answer many times before, from most children, whether they are preschoolers or preteens. I told her that what makes her birthday important is that it is a reminder of the day she was created by G d with a special and unique mission. No one else has her mission. She holds the one piece of the puzzle that no one else can fill, to help bring a good, positive change to the world. Like all of us, she was created because she was needed.

The young girl shook her head and replied simply, “That’s not true. The world can continue with or without me, it wouldn’t make any difference. It doesn’t need me for anything.” I told her she is partially right—the world could continue without her, but it could never benefit from what she in particular has to offer, in what she was created to accomplish in life.

The young girl replied simply, “The world can continue with or without me"

It is obvious that much of our society is achievement-driven, as opposed to purpose-driven. This is the reason why grownups often love to ask children, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” And sometimes, if the child happens to give a response that doesn’t meet the adult’s expectations, the child is talked out of it: “Why not become a governor instead? Or a scientist? You can become a great doctor—you know, you can be anything that you want to be!”

But can a child truly become anything he wants? To be raised with that mindset neglects one main fact—he already is someone. And that someone is not dependent on a “thing” to become. Rather, he is brought to life with a soul that has a unique mission. And what is that mission? To effectively utilize what G d brings his way, while revealing the truth of good in every situation; and what will come his way will be unique to him, and him alone.

For this reason, it is false to tell a child that he can become anything he wants to be. The truth is that a child can become the best he can be—not anything or anyone else other than whom he is meant to be.

Imagine the kind of freedom and joy a child lives with when the focus is not on climbing a ladder that takes him on pursuits that belong to someone else, but instead this ladder takes him to his own great heights—the best he has to offer to the world. And he doesn’t need to wait until he is a grownup to believe that he has purpose—he is needed today.

I remember when my son first switched from homeschooling to a traditional school setting. It was the first time my son was in a classroom of children, with a teacher who wasn’t me. Understandably, he felt nervous and unsure about starting this new experience. But throughout his first week at school, I noticed a few of the kids in the higher grades high-fiving my son every day as I picked him up from school. I could see on my son’s face how he felt accepted and included. Those kids lived up to the purpose that existed for them at that particular moment—making a new child feel welcomed. That moment belonged to them, and they didn’t waste it, they claimed it.

Can a child truly become anything he wants?

Learning to unleash your child’s soul means responding to him with the intent that your role as a parent is to guide his soul every day, and uncover his purpose for fulfilling good things in the world. When you interact with your child with this mindset, you start to see him not through your own eyes, but through G d’s eyes. Your response is no longer about you—who you are, your fears, your past failures, your dreams and hopes. Your response is about him, who he is, and all the good he has to offer.

A young child can, and should, be told that he has a soul; that he was created in this world not to simply exist for the sake of achievement, but to live for the sake of his unique, G d-given purpose. This is the secret to lasting motivation and living with passion. And this is where true self-worth is created, knowing that you have something significant to contribute. When we realize that our child can answer a need in this world, we then behave in a way that inspires his soul to shine, to make the difference it was intended to make.

I remember one Shabbat morning we were late to synagogue. I left the house in a rush, with my two boys trailing behind me. My five-year-old son, who is happy-go-lucky and appreciates simplicity, sensed my negative mood and tried to lighten things up several times. Finally, he said, “I know! Why don’t we play ‘I Spy’?!” It’s a game he loves, and one that we usually play every Shabbat morning on our thirty-minute walk to synagogue. This time, I didn’t even turn around to look at him. I quickened my pace and replied, “No, we’re late! We can’t play that game now! Hurry up!”

As soon as I said the words, I felt guilty. Sure, maybe my son needed to understand that sometimes we do need to hurry. But at that moment, this lesson would save me only ten additional minutes. Whereas it would shut him out of thirty minutes of feeling Shabbat in a positive light, while also keeping him from the opportunity to contribute what he could offer to Shabbat.

It is not the adult who constantly waits for the child. It is the child who waits for the adult

I turned around to him. The sun was beaming on him. He looked disappointed. He was no longer skipping as he usually does. So I came up to him and whispered in his ear, “I am ready to be nice. I would love to play ‘I Spy’ with you! You have such a way of making our Shabbat so happy!” He beamed when he heard my words, and instantly he came alive again. He was no longer separated from Shabbat, but an important part of it.

As adults, it seems that we are endlessly waiting for our child to listen, to behave, to get things done. But if we are completely honest, it is not the adult who constantly waits for the child. It is the child who waits for the adult—waits to be understood, waits to be discovered, waits for proper limits to be set, and waits until he is seen and guided towards what he has to offer to life—shining the light of his soul upon the world.
23042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / T. Paine: on: November 01, 2011, 10:42:38 AM
"Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries; tis time to part." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
23043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Bang for the buck? on: November 01, 2011, 10:38:41 AM
For hard-working American families struggling to make ends meet, the student protesters at Occupy Wall Street must seem like cast members of a reality show designed to make them look shallow and self-indulgent. The irony is that these students and recent grads have a point about their college debt. It's just not the point they are making.

Here, for example, is a typical entry on the blog "We Are the 99 Percent." A woman is holding up a handwritten note that reads: "I am a college graduate. I am also unemployed. I was lead [sic] to believe that college would insure me a job. I now have $40,000 worth of student debt."

 John Kline on the National Labor Relations Board's strike against Boeing and the increase in the student loan default rate.
.The headlines tell us that, as a nation, we now owe more in college loans than we do on our credit cards. Notwithstanding the stock horror stories about the kid who leaves campus owing hundreds of thousands, however, the average college debt load is about the price of a new Toyota Prius—$28,100 for those with a degree from a four-year private school, $22,000 for those from public schools.

Even so, these figures don't touch the most important question: Are students getting fair value in return?

Anne Neal has been trying to help families answer that question for years. As president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, she believes students should leave college with a broad base of knowledge that will allow them "to compete successfully in our globalized economy and to make sense of the modern world." By that ACTA means universities should require a core curriculum with substantive courses in composition, literature, American history, economics, math, science and foreign language.

"The fundamental problem here is not debt but a broken educational system that no longer insists on excellence," Ms. Neal says. "College tuitions have risen more than 440% over the last 25 years—and for what? The students who say that college has not prepared them for the real world are largely right."

At WhatWillTheyLearn.com, students can click onto ACTA's recent survey of more than 1,000 American four-year institutions—and find out how their colleges and universities rate. Two findings jump out. First, the more costly the college, the less likely it will require a demanding core curriculum. Second, public institutions generally do better here than private ones—and historically black colleges such as Morehouse and service academies such as West Point amount to what ACTA calls "hidden gems."

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 .Alas, much of the debate over the value of a college degree breaks down one of two ways. Either people pit the liberal arts against the sciences—"Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?" asks Florida Gov. Rick Scott—or they plump for degrees that are thought to be more practical (e.g., business). Both are probably mistakes.

If the young people now entering our work force are going to change jobs as often as we think, the key to getting ahead will not be having one particular skill but having the ability to learn new skills. In this regard, the problem is not so much the liberal arts as the fluff that too often passes for it. In other words, though Gov. Scott is right to demand better measures of what Florida citizens are getting for their tax dollars, he'd probably be better off focusing on excellence and transparency than on suggesting specific courses of study.

As for the "practical" majors, New York University's Richard Arum and the University of Virginia's Josipa Roksa tell us they might not be as useful as once thought. In a recent work called "Academically Adrift," these authors tracked the progress of more than 2,300 undergraduates at two dozen U.S. universities. They found that more than a third of seniors leave campus having shown no improvement in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, or written communications over four years. Worse, the majors and programs often thought most practical—education, business and communications—prove to be the least productive.

So yes, the student protesters with their iPads and iPhones may come across badly to other Americans. Yes too, even those who leave school thousands of dollars in debt will—on average—find their degrees a good investment, given the healthy lifetime earnings premium that a bachelor's degree still commands.

Still, when it comes to what our colleges and universities are charging them for their degrees, they have a point. Too many have paid much and been taught little. They've been ripped off—but not by the banks or the fat cats or any of the other stock villains so unwelcome these days in Zuccotti Park.

"If these students and grads understood the real issues with their college debt," says Ms. Neal, "they would change their focus from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy the Ivory Tower
23044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Stephens on: November 01, 2011, 10:35:07 AM

This is not an Islamic Revolution."

So opined Olivier Roy, arguably Europe's foremost authority on political Islam, in an essay published days after Hosni Mubarak was forced from power in February. "Look at those involved in the uprisings, and it is clear that we are dealing with a post-Islamist generation," he wrote. "This is not to say that the demonstrators are secular; but they are operating in a secular political space, and they do not see in Islam an ideology capable of creating a better world."

Mr. Roy wasn't alone in the sangfroid department. "I am not in the least bit worried about the Muslim Brotherhoods in Jordan or Egypt hijacking the future," confided New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, with the caveat that their secular opponents would need some time to organize. Added his colleague Nicholas Kristof in a dispatch from Cairo: "I agree that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be a good ruler of Egypt, but that point of view also seems to be shared by most Egyptians."

What reassurance. Nine months on, the Islamist Nahda party has swept to victory in Tunisia, the one Arab state in which secularist values were said to be irreversibly fixed. Libya's new interim leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, came to office promising "the Islamic religion as the core of our new government"; as a first order of business, he promises to revoke the Gadhafi regime's ban on polygamy since "the law is contrary to Shariah and must be stopped." Later this month, Islamist candidates—some of them Muslim Brothers, others even more religiously extreme—will likely sweep Egypt's parliamentary elections.

It doesn't stop there. Hezbollah has effectively ruled Lebanon since it forced the collapse of a pro-Western government in January. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's Islamist prime minister, cruised to a third term in parliamentary elections in June. Hamas, winner in the last vote held by the Palestinian Authority in 2006, would almost certainly win again if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dared put his government to an electoral test.

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When secular politics fail, Islamism is the last big idea standing.
.Why have Islamists been the main beneficiaries of Muslim democracy? None of the usual explanations really suffices. Islamists are said to be the unintended beneficiaries of the repression they endured under autocratic secular regimes. True up to a point. But why then have their secular opponents in places like Egypt been steadily losing ground since the Mubarak regime fell by the wayside? Alternatively, we are told that secular values never had the chance to sink deep roots in Muslim-majority countries. Also true up to a point. But how then Tunisia or Turkey—to say nothing of the Palestinians, who until the early 1990s were often described as the most secularized Arab society?

Closer to the mark is Mideast scholar Bernard Lewis, who noted in an April interview with the Journal that "freedom" is fairly novel as a political concept in the Arab world. "In the Muslim tradition," Mr. Lewis noted, "justice is the standard" of good government—and the very thing the ancien regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya so flagrantly traduced. Little wonder, then, that Mr. Erdogan's AK party stands for "Justice and Development," the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's new party is "Freedom and Justice" and, further afield, the leading Islamist party in Indonesia calls itself "Prosperous Justice."

Still, the Islamists' claim to "justice" goes only so far to account for their electoral successes. There is also the comprehensive failure of the Muslim world's secular movements to provide a better form of politics.

The national-socialist brew imported from Europe in the 1940s by Michel Aflaq became the Baathist tyrannies of present-day Syria and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Pan-Arabism's appeal faded well before the death of its principal champion, Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Socialism failed Algeria; Gadhafi's "Third Universal Theory" failed Libya. French-style laïcité descended into kleptocracy in Tunisia and quasi-military control in Turkey. Periodic attempts at market liberalization yielded dividends in places like Bahrain and Dubai but were never joined by political liberalization and were often shot through with cronyism.

That sour history leaves Islamism as the last big idea standing—and standing at a moment when tens of millions of young Muslims find themselves undereducated, semi- or unemployed, and uniquely receptive to a world view with deep historic roots and heroic ambitions.

What does its future hold?

Optimists say it need not be a reprise of Iran; that it could look more like Turkey; that the term "moderate Islamist" isn't an oxymoron, at least in a relative sense. Then again, Turkey's domestic and foreign policies inspire little confidence that moderate Islamism will be anything other than moderately repressive and moderately radical. As for Iran, signs of its own long-awaited turn toward moderation are as fleeting as the Yeti's footsteps in drifting snow.

The good news is that after 31 years most Iranians have grown sick of Islam always being the answer, and the collapse of the regime awaits only the next ripe opportunity. The bad news is that a similar time-frame may be in store for the rest of the Muslim world, until it too becomes disenchanted with Islamist promises. Get ready for a long winter.

23045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: November 01, 2011, 10:19:58 AM
May I suggest reframing from the rather crude metric of "how much regulation" to one that analyzes the basis for the regulation?

For example, regulation that is based upon prevention of fraud (e.g. the box should have in it what it says it has in it in the amount claimed) and the proper allocation of the costs of externalities (costs should be born by the buyer and seller to the transaction-- thus pollution is a proper reason for regulation) is one thing.

Regulation that seeks to redistribute wealth or give bureaucrats nanny powers are another thing.
23046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American History on: November 01, 2011, 10:11:37 AM
BD:

If I read it correctly and remember correctly, it was the Russians asserting that about the Turkish based missiles-- not knowing that they were to be taken out anyway (no opinion on whether that assertion is true btw).

As for the CIA breaking that MAP understanding , , , well , , , that would not be the first time it broke an agreement, would it?  cheesy

Anyway, I probably should have posted the piece with an accompanying comment by me that I was simply offering a different perspective than the story line with which I was already familiar.
23047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A reverse chronology on: November 01, 2011, 12:40:58 AM
This past week, top government leaders continued to spin the deadly 2009 gunwalking Fast and Furious operation as some low-level rogue operation. In addition, there were inside-the-Beltway rumors, letters sent between key players, and demands for Holder's resignation.


The heroic online journalists at sites like Sipsey Street Irregulars, PajamasMedia, and Townhall have worked for months uncovering facts leading to the foul murders of federal agents and Mexican citizens. During the week leading up to Halloween, certain signs appeared suggesting that their diligent work is beginning to yield some interesting fruit.


Working backwards Memento-style, here are the highlights in what may turn out to be a watershed week in the high-stakes scandal known as Fast and Furious.

Friday, October 28 2:24PM
Katie Pavlich reports from Townhall.com that Attorney General Holder will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on December 8.
Holder better get his lies, the lies of President Obama and the lies of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in order before promising to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth about this deadly program. His testimony is sure to be "consistent and truthful" with his efforts to cover-up Fast and Furious since the beginning of the House Oversight Committee investigation.

Will he take the fifth?

Friday October 28
Representative Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, penned a letter to Chairman Issa suggesting that Kenneth Melson, the former head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, appear before the members to "help the Committee and the American people better understand what mistakes were made in Operation Fast and Furious, how these tactics originated, who did and did not authorize them, and what steps are being taken to ensure that they are not used again."


The tone of Cummings' letter should have interested parties a bit perplexed. The congressman sounds a lot more subdued and respectful towards Congressman Issa. Two weeks ago, an angry Cummings disparaged the chairman's investigation into Fast and Furious as a "deep-sea fishing expedition" and "political stunt." What's up, Mr. Cummings?

Thursday, October 27
Big media shill Jonathan Alter pens a comically dead serious editorial for Bloomberg.com entitled "Obama Miracle Is White House Free of Scandal."
President Barack Obama goes into the 2012 with a weak economy that may doom his reelection. But he has one asset that hasn't received much attention: He's honest.
Although it's possible that the Solyndra LLC story will become a classic feeding frenzy, don't bet on it. Providing $535 million in loan guarantees to a solar-panel maker that goes bankrupt was dumb, but so far not criminal or even unethical on the part of the administration
Every time Representative Darrell Issa, the Republican from California who leads a House investigative committee, calls the Obama administration "corrupt" without offering any evidence, he hurts his cause. It's much harder to make a story register as a bona fide scandal when the political motivation is so obvious.

How terrified are these people? Alter mentions Solyndra, a scandal covered by the mainstream media, but only alludes to Fast and Furious via Congressman Issa. This kind of over-the-top damage control must mean that F and F is sending shudders through the halls of power.

Thursday, October 27
Blogger Anthony Martin at Examiner.com reveals that there's a rumor swirling around D.C. that former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, who abruptly resigned in December 2009, has turned over a stack of documents to Congressman Darrel Issa's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Issa's office won't confirm or deny according to Martin.


One thing is for sure: by his own admission, Ogden was in on the ground floor of whatever the higher-ups were planning in secret meetings back in 2009. On March 24, 2009, Ogden spoke at a Department of Justice briefing and announced, "The President has directed us to take action to fight these cartels and Attorney General Holder and I are taking several new aggressive steps as part of the Administration's comprehensive plan."


If Ogden handed over documents that truly "vindicate ATF whistleblowers" and "confirm the guilt of the perpetrators of the scheme within the DOJ," then Issa needs to play it close to the vest. If this turns out to be just cover-up "disinformation," could Ogden be the administration's designated fall guy?

Thursday October 27
Appearing before the House Foreign Affair Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Representative Connie Mack (R-Fla) that the State Department had not issued a license or waiver to "allow for the transfer of thousands of weapons across the US.-Mexico border." Clinton stated that "there is no record of any request for coordination. We have no record of any kind of notice or heads up."


Asked when she first heard about Fast and Furious, Mrs. Clinton stated, "[F]rom the press." When interviewed by a reporter from CNN Español in March 2011, President Obama gave a similar response, saying he first heard about the gun-trafficking program "in the news."

Wednesday, October 26
If anyone thought the internet would make old-fashioned letter-writing obsolete, think again. Hard-copy correspondence is making its way to major players allegedly involved in Fast and Furious. Representative Joe Walsh (R-Ill) joined the fray and wrote a no-holds-barred letter to Attorney General Eric Holder telling him "to resign immediately and issue an apology to the American people he has failed to serve." But the best part centered on Walsh's reference to the current "anti-gun administration."
This not only raises serious questions about your ability to serve as the head of the Justice Department, but also begs the question of why an anti-gun Administration would knowingly force licensed firearms dealers to sell guns to violent criminals. I raise this because Operation Fast and Furious - if the facts of this case had not come to light - would have been used by this Administration as another false argument to attack law-abiding American gun owners.

Representative Joe Walsh became the fourth congressman to demand Holder's resignation.

Wednesday, October 26
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano got a grilling during a House Judiciary hearing from Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Representative Trent Gowdy (R-SC), and Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) (see video).
The "testy" stone-faced secretary showed little empathy for the murdered agents despite her defensive remarks.
I think we all should be outraged at the death of Agent Terry and I think the first thing is to recognize who actually killed him and that our No. 1 priority was to make sure the shooters were found - some had gone back into Mexico - and that the FBI was in charge of that investigation.

Napolitano then called Operation Fast and Furious "troublesome" and denied any involvement, conveniently passing the buck to the Department of Justice. She spoke in the customary cover-up language, advising committee members not to "rush to judgment" and promising that "there will be lessons learned from this."

Tuesday, October 25
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Ca), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Holder, head of the Department of Justice, demanding answers on the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata on February 15, 2011. Zapata was shot to death while driving on a highway near the northern city of San Luis Potosi. A fellow agent was wounded in the deadly attack.


The letter "raises red flags about the nature of the ATF investigation" into Zapata's killing. The opening paragraphs cites a March 1, 2011 ATF press release denying knowledge of Otilio Osorio's purchase of the weapon on September 17, 2010 used to kill Zapata in February 2011.
According to ATF documents, however, the agency had reason to believe as early as September 17, 2010, that Otilio's brother, and co-habitant Ranfari Osorio, and their next-door neighbor Kelvin Morrison were straw purchasers. Yet the ATF apparently made no effort to contact Ranfari Osorio or Kelvin Morrison and inquire about how their weapons came to be trafficked to Mexico within 2 weeks of their purchase.

The ATF did not submit a Report of Investigation (ROI) on a November 9, 2010 transfer of firearms among the Osorio brothers, Morrison, and a Dallas ATF confidential informant until February 25, "the same day ATF received the report tracing the Zapata murder weapon back to the purchase by Otilio Osorio."


The letter implicates Operation Fast and Furious as a game of Russian roulette with other people's lives.
At the heart of the Operation Fast and Furious debacle stands the memory of the victims and their families' search for the truth. It's becoming clearer and clearer each day this investigation may end at the White House. AG Holder has already perjured himself in front of a congressional hearing, and what the mainstream media once termed a "botched sting operation" is turning into a mass murder tragedy threatening to upend our rule of law.


http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/...d_furious.html
23048  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 31, 2011, 08:24:20 PM
You are right, you are cheesy

There ARE plenty of people who make the points that the article does.  You simply focus on the admittedly numerous others.
23049  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Whose gun is it? on: October 31, 2011, 06:17:52 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9-LOxQXUmU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

 cheesy
23050  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A different take on Tunisian elections on: October 31, 2011, 05:50:02 PM


Media Whitewash Ghannouchi's Radical Islamist Views
IPT News
October 31, 2011
http://www.investigativeproject.org/3262/media-whitewash-ghannouchi-radical-islamist-views
 
A recurring media theme in recent days is that Rachid al-Ghannouchi and his Ennahda Party, which won last week's Tunisian elections, are "moderate" Islamists despite considerable evidence to the contrary.

A few notable voices in the conservative blogosphere like Martin Kramer, Melanie Phillips and Raymond Ibrahim pointed out problems with this argument, including Ghannouchi's endorsement of jihad in Gaza, stating that "Gaza, like Hanoi in the '60s and Cuba and Algeria, is the model of freedom today." Ghannouchi has expressed support for suicide bombings and welcomes the destruction of Israel, which he predicts could "disappear" by 2027.

"There is no such thing as 'moderate Islamism,'" Phillips wrote. "It's as absurd as saying there were moderate and extreme Stalinists, or moderate and extreme Nazis, or moderate and extreme proponents of the Spanish Inquisition. You cannot have moderate fanatics."

That message apparently hasn't reached some U.S. media and political elites. Before and after Tunisia's election, news outlets provided a steady stream of stories portraying the group as moderate and committed to democracy.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed (which he republished on his Senate website) declaring that "Ennahda has been giving encouraging answers about its rejection of extremism and its respect for the democratic process, individual liberties, women's rights and the rule of law."

The headline of a front-page New York Times story referred to Ennahda as "moderate." The Times quoted Ghannouchi (the founder of the party) saying that Ennahda "is not a religious party" but one whose members "merely draw their values from Islam." The Times added that the group's win at the polls in Tunisia "was sure to embolden those who favor a more liberal approach, including some within Egypt's mainstream Muslim Brotherhood."

Another Times story began: "For more than three decades, Rachid al-Ghannouchi has preached that pluralism, democracy and secular Islam are harmonious."

These and other media accounts gloss over or neglect to mention Ghannouchi's many radical statements – particularly his calls for Israel's destruction.

The Arab Spring "will achieve positive results on the path to the Palestinian cause and threaten the extinction of Israel," he said in a May interview with the Al Arab Qatari website. "The liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation represents the biggest challenge facing the Umma [Muslim people] and the Umma cannot have existence in light of the Israeli occupation."
In the same interview, Ghannouchi said: "I give you the good news that the Arab region will get rid of the bacillus of Israel. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, said that Israel will disappear by the year 2027. I say that this date may be too far away, and Israel may disappear before this."

This is consistent with Ennahda's platform, which declares that the group "struggles to achieve the following goals … To struggle for the liberation of Palestine and consider it as a central mission and a duty required by the need to challenge the Zionist colonial attack which planted in the heart of the homeland an alien entity which constitutes a (sic) obstacle to unity and reflects the image of the conflict between our civilization and its enemies."

In September, the organization stated that it "supports the struggle of peoples seeking liberation and justice and encourages world peace and aims to promote cooperation and collaboration and unity especially among Arab and Islamic countries and considers the Palestinian struggle for liberation to be a central cause and stands against normalization."
In June 2001, Ghannouchi appeared in an al-Jazeerah panel discussion in which he blessed the mothers of Palestinian suicide bombers:

"I would like to send my blessings to the mothers of those youth, those men who succeeded in creating a new balance of power…I bless the mothers who planted in the blessed land of Palestine the amazing seeds of these youths, who tought the international system and the Israel (sic) arrogance, supported by the US, an important lesson. The Palestinian woman, mother of the Shahids (martyrs), is a martyr herself, and she has created a new model of woman."

These inconvenient quotes have thus far been notably absent from media coverage of Ghannouchi and the Tunisian elections.

The Washington Post editorialized that Ennahda has forsworn violence and accepted "the rules of democracy and human rights." If "its success is accepted by secular Tunisians and Western democracies, its moderate model should get a boost in Egypt and Libya," the paper added.

The Post also ran an op-ed by John Esposito, a prominent apologist for radical Islam, who described Ennahda as advocating a national unity government based on "the desire to address common political, economic and social concerns." It "speaks of a government "that is inclusive of all parties, secular or Islamist, accepting equality of citizenship, civil society and women's rights," Esposito wrote.

The European media provided a similar picture. The British Daily Mail newspaper reported that Ennahda "believes that democracy is the best system to maintain people's rights."It quoted the party as "support[ing] Tunisia's liberal laws promoting women's equality – making it much more progressive than other Islamic movements in the Middle East."

The German newspaper Die Welt wrote that Ennahda's ascencion shouldn't trouble Westerners very much: "Success in founding a new state, even with a Sharia-oriented party in the lead, as long as it accepts the principles of plurality and human rights, will be an enormous step forward."

According to the German financial daily Handelsblatt: "We should get used to the fact that democracy in many Arab countries will create strong Islamist parties. There are worse things. For too long, fear of Islamists has led the U.S. and Europe to support terrible despots like Tunisia's…Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak."

People who toppled dictators through peaceful uprising deserve credit and a chance to show they can govern responsibly. But the United States and its allies should not see the changes through rose-colored glasses. Hardcore Islamists like Ghannouchi pose a host of new challenges and potential problems. It would help if the news media paid attention to those rather than invoking judgments about moderation in hopes they turn out to be true.
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