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23001  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cunningham to plead the 5th; AZ to open its own investigation on: January 21, 2012, 08:11:47 PM
second post:

Federal official in Arizona to plead the fifth and not answer questions on 'furious'

By William La Jeunesse

Published January 20, 2012

The chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona is refusing to testify before Congress regarding Operation Fast and Furious, the federal gun-running scandal that sent U.S. weapons to Mexico.

Patrick J. Cunningham informed the House Oversight Committee late Thursday through his attorney that he will use the Fifth Amendment protection.

Cunningham was ordered Wednesday to appear before Chairman Darrell Issa and the House Oversight Committee regarding his role in the operation that sent more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. Guns from the failed operation were found at the murder scene of Border Agent Brian Terry.

The letter from Cunningham’s Washington DC attorney stunned congressional staff. Last week, Cunningham, the second highest ranking U.S. Attorney in Arizona, was scheduled to appear before Issa‘s committee voluntarily. Then, he declined and Issa issued a subpoena.

Cunningham is represented by Tobin Romero of Williams and Connolly who is a specialist in white collar crime. In the letter, he suggests witnesses from the Department of Justice in Washington, who have spoken in support of Attorney General Eric Holder, are wrong or lying.

“Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly,” the letter to Issa says.

Romero claims Cunningham did nothing wrong and acted in good faith, but the Department of Justice in Washington is making him the fall guy, claiming he failed to accurately provide the Oversight Committee with information on the execution of Fast and Furious.

"To avoid needless preparation by the Committee and its staff for a deposition next week, I am writing to advise you that my client is going to assert his constitutional privilege not to be compelled to be a witness against himself." Romero told Issa.

This schism is the first big break in what has been a unified front in the government’s defense of itself in the gun-running scandal. Cunningham claims he is a victim of a conflict between two branches of government and will not be compelled to be a witnesses against himself, and make a statement that could be later used by a grand jury or special prosecutor to indict him on criminal charges.

Arizona's state legislature will open its own investigation into the Obama administration's disgraced gun-running program, known as "Fast and Furious," the speaker of the state House said Friday.

Speaker Andy Tobin created the committee, and charged it with looking at whether the program broke any state laws — raising the possibility of state penalties against those responsible for the operation.

It's a turnaround from the rest of the immigration issue, where the federal government has sued to block the state's own set of laws.
A law requiring businesses to check new workers' legal status was upheld by the Supreme Court last year, and the court has agreed to hear the case of Arizona's crackdown law that makes being an illegal immigrant a state crime and gives state and local police the power to enforce that law.

Fast and Furious was a straw-purchase program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The goal was to try to trace guns sold in Arizona shops and then trafficked across the Mexican border, where they landed in the hands of drug cartels.

As part of the operation, however, agents let the guns "walk" — meaning they lost track of them. At least two of the guns ended up at the scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with Mexican bandits along a smuggling corridor in Arizona.

Mr. Tobin will announce the committee's jurisdiction at a press conference in Phoenix on Monday. The committee is charged with looking into the facts about the program, what impact it had on Arizona and whether any of the state's laws were broken.

A report is due back by March 30.
Arizona's investigation into Fast and Furious comes on top of an investigation by Republicans in Congress.
On Friday the chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona told a House committee he will decline to answer their questions next week, citing his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
The official's lawyer, in a letter to the committee, said his client is innocent but is "ensnared by the unfortunate circumstances in which he now stands between two branches of government."
By Stephen Dinan
23002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 21, 2012, 08:05:47 PM
 rolleyes Reality check.  We helped Afg throw the Russians out and left them along until they hosted an attack on our homeland.  As for Pak, I'll wait and see if YA jumps in, but until then would note that there are lots of seriously tough places on the planet that do not teach their children to commit suicide.  Only Iran, the Palestinian territories, and Afpakia come to mind.
23003  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DC Fed District Court rules in favor on ATF's multiple sale regs on: January 21, 2012, 08:01:53 PM
This from Gun Owners of America.  GOA's emails have started appearing in my email box, but I am not really familiar with them.

Well, this past Friday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a setback to gun owners. The issue involved a lawsuit challenging Barack Obama’s illegal multiple sales regulations. [NSSF v. Jones, Acting Director, BATFE.]
Through those regulations, Obama has demanded, by regulatory fiat, that firearms licensees in four southwestern states report multiple sales of certain long guns to the federal government.   
In upholding this action, Judge Rosemary Collyer -– a Bush appointee! –- ignored the Constitution, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Heller case, and the clear language of federal law.
Of course, this once again underscores the danger of putting all our eggs in the “court basket.” It’s not a bad idea to challenge unconstitutional measures in the courts, but it’s problematic if we look to them as being the ultimate defenders of our gun rights. Clearly, they are not.
Among other things, Judge Collyer ignored the obvious language of the 1986 McClure-Volkmer Act, which prohibits the ATF from demanding any information on gun owners other than information explicitly allowed by statute.
Specifically, the section states: “Such [licensees] shall not be required to submit to the Attorney General reports and information with respect to such records and the contents thereof, except as expressly required by this section.” (18 U.S.C. 923(g)(1))
Paragraph (g)(5) allows the Attorney General to demand information by issuing a “demand letter,” but participants in the drafting of McClure-Volkmer affirm that this was not intended to trump the paragraph (1) limitation, in order to statutorily mandate reporting requirements.
To interpret paragraph (g)(5), as Obama and Attorney General Holder have interpreted it, is to say that there are NO limits on the information the Attorney General can demand -– up to and including every 4473 in the country.
In opening this door, Collyer cited much narrower decisions in the Fourth and the liberal Ninth Circuit, but expanded them beyond any judicial precedent. Citing a test that looked at whether the ATF’s action constituted a “clear error of judgment” or was “arbitrary or capricious,” Collyer gave all of the benefit of the doubt to Obama -– and none to the Second Amendment, which wasn’t even considered in her 21-page opinion.
The decision will presumably be appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals -– a supposedly “conservative” circuit that nevertheless upheld ObamaCare.   
But the larger issue is this: Congress can block these regulations by simply cutting off the money to implement them. Last fall, we demanded that the House include such a prohibition in its giant money bill. But congressional leaders ignored the Second Amendment community on this and a variety of other pro-gun issues, including defunding ObamaCare.
It is late in the game. But there is still an opportunity to prohibit funding for the multiple sales regulations on the annual Department of Justice Appropriations bill and the “continuing resolution” which will inevitably follow around September 30.
True, a lot of damage will have been done by that point. But we cannot allow to stand the precedent that the Attorney General can seize any and all gun-related information, simply by saying he wants it.
ACTION: Click here to ontact your representative. Tell him Congress must act to block funding for the unlawful, anti-gun Obama multiple sales regulations.
23004  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: January 21, 2012, 07:48:36 PM
Looking for basic input on the proper use of Quick Clot; when to use, when not to use.

I gather there are now "QC sponges" for civilian use, to lessen the risk of inappropriate use.

I am coming at this not only from a desire to inform myself, but also because I am moving forward on our catalog offering a trauma kit.  I'm thinking that QC should be included, but I'm also wondering about what info should be included.
23005  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Salt Lake City January 21-22 on: January 21, 2012, 07:45:16 PM
I was housed in the DVQ (Distinguised Visitors Quarters) last night on base.  I confess it chuckled me greatly to be a DV.

Good times at the seminar today and looking forward to more tomorrow.
23006  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Dance continues on: January 21, 2012, 07:33:37 PM
Japan on Thursday became the first country to officially inform Washington that it
would seek a waiver from pending U.S. sanctions on foreign institutions doing
business with Iran's central bank. Japanese officials delivered the message to a
visiting U.S. government delegation. Other importers of Iranian crude, including
India, China and South Korea, have either waffled in their commitment to support the
U.S.-led sanctions or expressed an outright dismissal of them.

Washington passed sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran as part of a larger defense
authorization bill Dec. 31. Nations that agree to abide by the sanctions have a
six-month window to comply, during which time they can continue buying crude from
Iran. This is similar to proposed EU sanctions that will be discussed Jan. 23. As
with the 2010 U.N. sanctions banning gasoline sales to Iran, these sanctions are
unlikely to have the desired effect of crippling Iran's economy to the point of
Iranian capitulation. The same goes for the European Union's planned embargo, which
will be replete with loopholes for objecting states. Beyond trying to financially
strain Iran, the sanctions rhetoric is designed to keep Iran and its nuclear
ambitions in the headlines and to demonstrate publicly that action is being taken
against Iran, while quieter clandestine efforts are in play.

The last three months have seen the latest round of a cycle that has played out
repeatedly over the last several years: Israel escalates claims that Iran is close
to attaining a bomb that could threaten the existence of the Jewish state. The
United States and Europe then propose hardened sanctions aimed at deterring that
activity -- while Washington makes sure to note that military options remain on the
table -- and Iran responds by threatening to disrupt the shipment of oil through the
Strait of Hormuz, enervating global energy markets. The rhetoric in this
circumstance belies the actors' capabilities. Israel knows it has limited ability to
launch a successful airstrike on Iran, while the United States wants to avoid a new
war with a Persian Gulf state, and Tehran does not want to incur the economic cost
of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz.

Israeli rhetoric markedly shifted Wednesday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told
Israeli Army Radio that an attack on Iran by his country is not soon forthcoming,
and he downplayed the immediacy of the threat posed by Iran's nuclear efforts.
Barak's comments came the day before U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen.
Martin Dempsey traveled to Israel. An article published Thursday in Israeli media,
written by a journalist with close ties to Barak, claimed that Dempsey would be
briefed on an Israeli intelligence assessment indicating that Iran has not yet tried
building a deliverable nuclear device. The assessment also implies that the Iranian
regime is more preoccupied with the potential for unrest following parliamentary
elections in March than it is with moving forward with its nuclear program.

A visit by a high-level U.S. defense official to Israel was already guaranteed to
capture Iran's attention, especially coming on the heels of Iranian military
maneuvers centered on the Strait of Hormuz. Israel and the United States could have
hinted at a possible attack in an effort to further their psychological warfare
campaign against Iran. Instead, Israel has done essentially the opposite, choosing
to de-emphasize the urgency of the Iranian nuclear threat. Notably, this follows
revelations that the United States reached out to Iran amid tensions over the Strait
of Hormuz. Israel's recent rhetoric on the Iranian nuclear program in many ways
takes the wind out of an already tottering sanctions campaign. The question is why
Israel would do this.

Israel could be employing psychological warfare tactics, lowering Iran's guard in
preparation for an attack. But Israel could not carry out such an attack
unilaterally, and the United States is giving no indication it is ready for a
military confrontation in one of the world's most vital energy thoroughfares. Israel
seems pleased with the progression of its covert military campaign against Iran (the
recent death of an Iranian chemist associated with the nuclear program could serve
to bolster that confidence), and thus does not seem motivated to push Washington
toward a military campaign the United States wants no part of. Israel may be willing
to see what comes out of the United States' latest attempt at dialogue with Iran.
Israel is even doing its part to create an atmosphere more conducive to those talks,
while relying on its covert capabilities to address Iran's nuclear threat.

And so, after a months-long buildup in tensions that again raised in the media the
possibility of a looming regional war, it appears rhetoric is cooling for now. U.S.
sanctions will likely leave space for allies of the United States to continue buying
Iranian crude (albeit at reduced levels); Washington is reportedly reaching out to
Iran for a diplomatic dialogue, while Iran has temporarily dialed down its bellicose
rhetoric regarding the Strait of Hormuz; and the Israelis, through the conduit of
Barak, have indicated that they are content for now with this course of action.
23007  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 21, 2012, 07:31:47 PM
I would proffer the probability that Romeny's weenie response on his tax returns this past week typifies how he will respond to class warfare from Barak and the Demogogues.

Oh, and btw, NEWT WINS grin grin grin
23008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 21, 2012, 07:27:48 PM
I disagree.  I have seen him readily agree on his failings in the past.

Oh, and by the way m, , , Pravda on the Hudson has projected Newt as the winner in SC today  grin grin grin
23009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 21, 2012, 07:25:32 PM

What do you make of the fact that they are modelling commiting suicide?
23010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fatah fuct, and so is "peace process" on: January 20, 2012, 02:35:40 AM
The cognitive dissonance produced by this article is simply amazing. 

Palestinian Fatah looks ill-prepared for election
In this photo taken Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, Kifah Iwaiwi, a district Fatah party leader speaks at his office in the West Bank City of Hebron. Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian national movement whose survival is key to hopes for a peace deal with Israel, appears ill-prepared for a promised electoral showdown with the Islamic militant Hamas. (AP Photo - Nasser Shiyoukhi)
From Associated Press
January 20, 2012 2:24 AM EST
HEBRON, West Bank (AP) — Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian national movement whose survival is key to hopes for a peace deal with Israel, appears ill-prepared for a promised electoral showdown with the Islamic militant Hamas.

The movement's leaders, blaming Fatah's loss to Hamas in 2006 parliament elections on lack of organization, say this time they've come up with a detailed plan to mobilize supporters and field attractive candidates. But skeptics note the party, known for epic infighting, hasn't even begun looking for a presidential candidate to replace leader Mahmoud Abbas, 76, who says he is retiring.

Some say the movement that once cast itself as a band of swashbuckling revolutionaries needs "rebranding" — its star dimmed after two decades of corruption-tainted rule in the Palestinian autonomy zones and the failure of negotiations with Israel meant to produce an independent state.

In the West Bank's largest city of Hebron, district party leader Kifah Iwaiwi said he spent much of the past four years on the job apologizing for the past misbehavior of Fatah members. Relying largely on volunteers and donations in the campaign, Iwaiwi said one of Fatah's biggest assets, at least locally, is the ability to solve voters' personal problems because of its ties to the Palestinian Authority.

Fatah and Hamas — after several years of running rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza — agreed in principle to "reconcile" and hold presidential and parliamentary elections by May 2012. Since then, Islamists have emerged victorious in parliamentary elections in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, feeding a fear that the Palestinian territories — if elections indeed are held — could be next.

A political takeover of the West Bank as well by an unreformed, globally shunned Hamas would isolate the Palestinians, crushing any hopes for peace and a negotiated path to Palestinian independence. It could also mean the end to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of annual foreign aid from the West, which regards Hamas as a terror group.

"Everyone feels that if Fatah falls down again, it's the end," said Iwaiwi. Hebron overwhelmingly voted for the Islamists last time.

Fatah may be helped this time by some disillusionment with Hamas, which seized Gaza by force in 2007. Pollster Khalil Shikaki sees a drop in the Islamists' popularity, from 44 percent in 2006 to 29 percent today — but a fifth of respondents are undecided, and pollsters failed to predict the stunning 2006 upset by Hamas.

The election date is linked to progress in slow-moving reconciliation talks, and Abbas' initial election date of May 4 already seems out of reach.

Central Elections Commission director Hisham Kheil said he still awaits Hamas permission to update voter records in Gaza, a process of some six weeks. Elections would be held about three months after preparations are completed, with the date set in a presidential degree by Abbas.

The delay has raised questions about whether Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are genuinely committed to elections. They announced again last month that they are ready to end the split, but the goodwill gestures promised at the time, such as releasing political detainees and lifting travel bans, have not been carried out. They plan to meet again in Cairo in early February.

Each faces some opposition in their movements, and power-sharing comes at a steep price, especially for Abbas who would lose international support by bringing Hamas into the fold.

Abbas has told Fatah's 22-member decision-making Central Committee repeatedly that he is serious about retiring and moving forward with elections, and that the party had better find a presidential candidate.

But polls show that only Abbas could defeat a Hamas candidate, and that his lieutenants — except senior Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, imprisoned by Israel — would win minimal voter support.

Meanwhile, the party is arguing over how to choose the candidates for parliament. Chaotic primaries in 2006 were blamed for Fatah's defeat: many of those who weren't picked in the primaries ran as independents and split the vote, helping Hamas candidates win certain districts.

The Central Committee wants to skip primaries this time and pick the candidates, said Mohammed Madani, head of Fatah's election campaign.

Such a decision, however, would antagonize those seeking a more democratic process, including party elders who advocate choosing the candidates for president and parliament in a convention, not in back rooms.

"Fatah lost the last election due to an accumulation of errors. I do not see that it has learned from its mistakes," said Nabil Amr, one of the party elders who have been sidelined.

Shikaki's latest poll puts Fatah ahead of Hamas by 43 to 29 percent, with 11 percent backing other factions and 17 percent undecided. In the presidential race Abbas tops Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas by 55 to 37 percent. Jailed Fatah icon Barghouti would defeat a Hamas candidate with 54 percent, while senior Abbas aide Saeb Erekat would lose with just 7 percent. The mid-December survey of 1,260 carried an error margin of 3 percentage points.

No one knows quite what to make of the polls.

Many believe Islamist support — as elsewhere throughout the Arab world — may be under-measured systematically in such surveys. In the West Bank specifically, Hamas backers may not always be honest about their political leanings because of the ongoing crackdown on the Islamists by Abbas' security forces.

With all the uncertainty, Abbas and Mashaal could also keep postponing the election.

Hamas is confident of victory, but fears that it would be a pointless one if, just as in 2006, its West Bank candidates are harassed and arrested by Israel. Abbas might come under growing pressure from Fatah to call off the vote, as he did in 2010 when he canceled local elections after it became apparent his party would lose.
23011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: January 20, 2012, 12:24:37 AM
I gather they also claim mines that lurk on the bottom which are then released to float up as a ship passes overhead.
23012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 20, 2012, 12:23:22 AM
Arguably he has matured since 15 years ago-- in part due to his being brought low, in part due to his time in the wilderness, in part due to the natural passage of time.
23013  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYPD wants to use technology to scan for guns on: January 20, 2012, 12:21:38 AM
There is much to quibble with in that piece, but the examples given are not the only ones.


NYC police pursuing technology to scan pedestrians for guns
The NYPD is working in conjunction with the Department of Defense to further crack down on illegal guns in the city by researching technology that could detect concealed weapons on people as they walk down the street, the New York Post reports.
23014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More from Cong. Issa on: January 20, 2012, 12:18:34 AM
Issa issues another subpoena in probe of 'Fast and Furious'
By Jordy Yager - 01/19/12 01:22 PM ET

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has subpoenaed a senior official from the U.S. Attorney's Office in his investigation of the botched gun-tracking operation "Fast and Furious."

Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a subpoena for Patrick Cunningham, the chief of the Phoenix office’s criminal division within the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona.

In a letter to Cunningham sent on Wednesday, Issa said Justice Department (DOJ) officials have suggested that Cunningham is “the most appropriate person to interview from the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding Operation Fast and Furious.”

“Senior Justice Department officials have recently told the committee that you relayed inaccurate and misleading information to the department in preparation for its initial response to Congress,” said Issa in the letter, which was made public on Thursday.

Though Issa does not specify what “initial response to Congress” he is referring to, he is likely talking about a letter from DOJ sent last year to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that contained false statements about the operation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

One Republican lawmaker, Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner, has suggested impeaching Attorney General Eric Holder for lying to Congress.

In that February letter, which has since been rescinded, DOJ stated that it did everything in its power to make sure that firearms do not cross the border into Mexico.

Later, it came to light that Operation Fast and Furious oversaw the sale of nearly 2,000 guns to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels. Officials did not provide surveillance for the weapons — a highly controversial and frowned upon tactic known as letting guns “walk” — which has caused many of the firearms to go missing.

In late 2010, two of the guns sold under the operation were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in Arizona miles from the border.

Issa said that Cunningham insisted that “no unacceptable tactics were used” in Fast and Furious even after the “initial response” to Congress.

Issa has been investigating the operation and the tactics it used since March of last year. Holder and President Obama have denied ever approving or knowing about the tactics used in Fast and Furious. A separate inspector general investigation has been ongoing since March 2011 as well.

Holder is scheduled to appear before Issa's committee in two weeks.

The committee has been working with Cunningham’s lawyer since August to try and arrange an interview, and one had been scheduled for Thursday, according to Issa’s letter. But Cunningham canceled on Tuesday, leading the chairman to issue a subpoena.

“As a result of your recalcitrance and inflexible positions, the committee is now forced to engage in compulsory process to obtain your testimony,” Issa stated.

Cunningham was named once before in a subpoena Issa issued in October that sought email communications between top DOJ officials. In the subpoena was a request for correspondence sent to or from Cunningham between the dates of Dec. 16 and Dec. 18, 2009, Dec. 15 and Dec. 17, 2010, and March 9 and March 14, 2011.

Cunningham joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona in late 2009 and worked directly under former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke. Burke, who oversaw much of the legal advice given during Operation Fast and Furious, resigned in August.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment. Requests for comment from the U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona were not immediately returned.

This story has been updated to clarify that a senior official for the U.S. Attorney's Office was subpoenaed.
23015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sarah Palin and Rick Perry endorse Newt on: January 19, 2012, 10:37:50 AM
I just heard that Perry has endorsed Newt.

And this from the Newt folks:

Dear Friend,

Newt Gingrich is surging.

Newt won the debate Monday night - it wasn't even close. Then Sarah Palin told Sean
Hannity last night on Fox that she'd vote for Newt if she had a vote in South
Carolina. And just this morning, a new Rasmussen poll showed Newt within three
points of Mitt Romney!

Please watch this video and you'll see why we have so much momentum right now:

Here's what others said:

Frank Luntz: "I've never seen it in a debate and I've been doing these debates now
for 16 years - a standing ovation in the middle of a debate!"

Dick Morris: "Newt, Newt, Newt. He was absolutely terrific tonight? He might win on

Kathryn Lopez of National Review: "This will get watched and re-watched."

Everything is going our way right now, but we are running out of time.  Please check
out the note from Newt below and help us win this critical primary here in South
Carolina on Saturday.


Michael Krull

Campaign Manager

Newt 2012
23016  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 19, 2012, 10:19:15 AM
Perry who?  cheesy

"Generally speaking, presidents with approval ratings below 50 percent are in danger. President George H.W. Bush had 46 percent at this stage of his presidency and went down to defeat.  On the other hand, President Clinton also was at 46 percent in January 1996 and won re-election."

Worth noting is that he won with well less than 50% of the vote due to Ross Perot.   Will Ron Paul do the same thing to the same effect?
23017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 19, 2012, 10:13:54 AM
As best as the lowly layman reader can tell, those three pieces are rather impressive-- especially the Jonescu one--thank you BBG.  I note btw, the second posted material, references the variable I have been asking Chuck to address, namely solar activity.

Anyway, Chuck, over to you.
23018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: January 19, 2012, 10:02:39 AM
"While the folks at the “Copyright Alliance” pretend to be looking out for the interests of independent filmmakers and authors, the fact is that the only paying members of their lobbying group seem to be big corporations, corporations that aren’t worried about creators, they’re worried about profits. Given a choice between a great film and a profitable one, they’d pick the profitable one every time. Given the choice between paying net profits to creators and adjusting the accounting…"

I disagree with this.  It profoundly misses the fact that property rights and profit are good.

I'm willing to entertain the notion that there may be serious unintended side effects and it remains to be seen whether the drafting of the legislation can address these concerns or not, but I am not willing to agree to the additional assertion that people SHOULD be able to steal my work.

Like our Constitution, I believe in copyright. 

Do you?

Why or why not?

The simple fact is that there are sites dedicated to making people's work e.g. martial arts instructional DVDs, downloadable for free.   Your TED guy talks about reversing the presumption of innocent until proven guilty, but in the real world what is someone to do when the site is completely anonymous and located both nowhere and everywhere?  As a matter of legislative drafting I'd have no problem with having two different courses of legal remedy.   For a site that is run by identifiable persons (legal or corporate) then the usual legal framework remains.   For those which seek to anonymously steal, well then the legal route of what is effectively a TRO (temporary restraining order) seems rather reasonable to me.
23019  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / New battlefield tourniquet on: January 19, 2012, 09:34:05 AM

Birmingham and Georgia physicians invent new tourniquet for the battlefield
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 8:00 AM
By Stan Diel -- The Birmingham News The Birmingham News

The abdominal aortic tourniquet should save lives on the battlefield, said its co-inventor, Birmingham's Dr. John Croushorn.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A Birmingham emergency medicine doctor and a Georgia physician have developed an inflatable tourniquet they believe will save lives on the battlefield by stopping bleeding from severe abdominal wounds.

Dr. John Croushorn, former head of emergency medicine at Trinity Medical Center and a former combat surgeon and helicopter door gunner in Iraq, on Tuesday said the inflatable device is an answer to gunshot wounds just below soldiers' body armor.

Insurgents often aim below the body armor, where damage to large, inaccessible blood vessels in the pelvis can be fatal within minutes. The device developed by Croushorn and Dr. Richard Schwartz, head of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, is placed around the body at the level of the belly button and inflated to compress the aorta.

The device mimics a long-standing combat medicine technique of using one's knee to apply pressure to the abdomen, cutting off all blood flow to lower extremities.

"Those wounds are devastating," Croushorn said in an interview. "They make very large holes and injure a lot of different things. So you just sort have to turn all of the blood flow off for a little bit."

Such wounds aren't the most common on a battlefield, he said, but they are among the most common causes of preventable combat deaths.

The device, which Croushorn said looks a little like a fanny pack, secures around the waist and is inflated using a hand pump. A gauge turns green when the pressure is sufficient to halt blood flow. Then the patient can be evacuated to a medical facility.

Studies on pigs have shown that the device can be left in place for an hour, which should be enough time to get the wounded to more sophisticated care.

Research on the device was bankrolled in part by the U.S. Department of Defense, and its path through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration bureaucracy was expedited because the military believed it could save lives on the battlefield. It won FDA "premarket" approval in October, a little more than a year after the application was filed. Most medical devices take three to five years to win premarket approval.

Croushorn and Schwartz have created a company to market the device, Compression Works LLC, and hope to have it in full production by April or May, Croushorn said. Military special operations commands, which have budgets separate from the military at large, already have placed orders, he said.

In addition to its military application, the device also may have civilian applications for victims of auto accidents and other such trauma, he said.

And it also could be proven to improve the survival rate for heart attack victims by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart during chest compressions, Croushorn said.

Both Croushorn and Schwartz have experience in military medicine. Croushorn served as command surgeon of Task Force 185 Aviation in the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2004, he said. He left the Mississippi National Guard as a major. Schwartz was a member of the Fifth Special Forces Group during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm,
23020  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: January 19, 2012, 12:24:10 AM
There is also the not-so-minor matter that one can LOSE money in the market, in real estate, etc.  Trust me on this one  cry
23021  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Surf Dog and TUF in Brazil on: January 18, 2012, 11:55:14 PM
Surf Dog, who has become one of the top judges in MMA (regularly judging the UFC, Strikeforce, TUF, etc) will be one of the judges for this coming season where the coaches are Vitor Belfort and Vanderlei Silva.  The season will be in Brazil, filming begins Feb 6.  Surf Dog will be there for 6 weeks.

In other news female MMA fighter "Cyborg" tested positive for steroids after knocking out her Japanese opponent in 16 seconds.
23022  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: January 18, 2012, 10:26:27 PM
I would submit that this forum comes nowhere close to meeting the criterion of being "dedicated to piracy", contrast various sites I have seen dedicated to theft.   That said, the GOA piece on what the Brady folks have tried to get away with gives pause, and Glenn Beck certainly has credibility with me as well.

This is not to say that much/most of the opposition comes from folks who simply wish to keep stealing and that piracy is not a real problem.

I have no problem acknowledging that considerable drafting issues remain for this legislation to become worthy of passage.
23023  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self Defense with Pistols on: January 18, 2012, 10:19:52 PM
I would note that there seems to have been zero preparation of these students by the police for actually drawing the gun.  Then the students were given holsters remarkably unsuited for drawing the gun while wearing clothing that made the draw even less likely to succeed.
23024  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: January 18, 2012, 10:05:40 PM
Looking forward to this  cool

Changing subjects, currently I am at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas.  We will be offering a number of new items in our catalog in the coming weeks.
23025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / SOPA and related legislation on: January 18, 2012, 09:05:22 PM

Bringing the conversation over to here from Homeland Security and American Freedom:

I note that my man Glenn Beck opposes the current bills and here's this email which I received today:


By now, you are no doubt aware that several websites have either gone
totally or partially "dark" today in protest of the
pernicious internet legislation that will be coming to a vote next
week.  Wikipedia and Google are just two of the websites which are
protesting in this manner.

And while you may have not paid much attention to this story, you need
to know that the "muzzle the web" legislation these sites are
protesting could also affect your ability to get gun-related
information on websites like GOA's.

The reason is that S. 968 could, in its final form, allow the Brady
Campaign to partially shut down our GOA website and our organization
(plus many other pro-gun websites) with a series of factually accurate,
but legally frivolous complaints.

The Senate bill and its House counterpart have accurately been called
"a direct attack on the underpinnings of the web."

True, many of the most serious "gun problems" are in the
House counterpart.  But the reality is this:  We are within a few votes
of killing the whole concept next week in the Senate with only 41
Senate votes.

But if we allow the so-called "anti-piracy" bill to go
forward on the HOPE that the worst provisions will not make it into the
final version --- and we fail to eliminate them --- the bill may be

Here are the "gun problems," as we see them:

Section 103(b)(1) of H.R. 3261 allows any "holder of an
intellectual property right" to demand that PayPal and other
payment and advertising services stop providing services to
organizations like ours, thereby shutting off our income.

How would they do this?  Perhaps by arguing that we were stealing their
intellectual property by quoting their lying misrepresentations in our

Is this legally frivolous?  Sure it is.  But the Brady Campaign is the
King of Frivolous Complaints:

* Remember when the Brady Campaign asked the Federal Election
Commission in 2007 to shut down GOA's ability to post its candidate
ratings on the Internet?  They claimed that we were in violation of the
McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act.  Thankfully, the FEC ruled
in GOA's favor, thus enabling us to continue posting candidate ratings
without restraint.

* Remember when the Brady Campaign got 36 state and local jurisdictions
to bring frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers --- not in the
expectation of winning, but to drain the resources of the manufacturers
in order to halt the manufacture of guns in America?

This "muzzle the web" legislation will throw the doors open
to even more frivolous complaints.  Could we defend ourselves?  Yes, we
could.  We could file a counter notification under section 103(b)(5)
and spend years defending ourselves.  But the one thing we did learn
during the 36 frivolous lawsuits is that the anti-gun forces in America
have very deep pockets.

And the other problem is that, under section 104, our Internet
providers would be insulated from liability for shutting us down.  But
they would receive no comparable insulation from legal liability if
they refused to cut us off.

The Senate version, S. 968, has been amended, at the behest of Iowa
Senator Chuck Grassley and others, to provide many protections which
were not in its initial form.

Under section 3, the Attorney General would go to court and would have
to claim that, because of a hyperlink to an offending site, we were
"primarily" engaged in the theft of intellectual property.

We would feel a lot better about these protections if the Attorney
General were not Eric Holder, a ruthless ideologue who has demonstrated
that he will go to any lengths to destroy the Second Amendment.

So the bottom line is this:  H.R. 3261 and S. 968
would potentially empower the Brady Campaign and Eric Holder to go
after our Internet site.  To do so, they would have to make the same
frivolous arguments and engage in the same lawless activity that they
have done so often in the past.

But --- given that we're within a few votes of snuffing out that risk
by killing the bill in the Senate --- we believe it's the better course
of action to do so.

ACTION:  Contact your Senators.  Ask them to vote against S. 968, every
chance they get.
23026  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: January 18, 2012, 09:02:53 PM
Lets take this over to the Internet thread on the SCH forum.
23027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Morris: Newt is Newt again on: January 18, 2012, 08:51:29 PM


Published on on January 17, 2012

The impostor who wallowed in negative ads, attacked capitalism at Bain Capital and
hemmed and hawed when asked about his role at Freddie Mac is gone. The real Newt
Gingrich has returned!

The former Speaker was in his element during Monday night's GOP debate in South
Carolina. Inspired and egged on by a conservative crowd and appealing to a national
TV audience, he put red meat before the voters. Rick Santorum, by contrast, served
only white-meat chicken. (It was a GOP debate, so nobody served pork.)

When Newt spoke about the importance of a work ethic and criticized Fox News's Juan
Williams for implying that being a janitor was demeaning for young people, he gave
vent to the frustrations of millions of Americans chafing under the restraints of
political correctness.

And when he savaged Ron Paul for comparing Osama bin Laden to a Chinese dissident
seeking asylum in the United States, he articulated what we all felt -- revulsion at
Paul's modern-day impersonation of Neville Chamberlain cowering in the face of

Newt is back!

With biweekly debates, these national contests -- far more than local campaigning
and even paid advertising -- will shape the outcome of the early primaries.
Especially in a state the size of South Carolina, where media is not that costly, so
everyone can afford their share, the debates will be the difference.

Santorum's performance was workmanlike, statistical, detailed and lawyerly. He laid
out his points well and even baited a trap for Romney over his failure to urge the
repeal of a Massachusetts law permitting felons to vote, even while incarcerated.
But the difference between Santorum and Gingrich was on vivid display on Monday
night: passion versus carefully articulated positions.

Just as important for Newt was the destruction of Ron Paul. His quibbling over how
we should have handled bin Laden and the candidate's obviously self-destructive
isolationism should reduce even further his vote share in a defense-oriented state
like South Carolina. If Newt can open up a separation in vote share vis-à-vis Paul
and Santorum (and Perry recognizes reality and bows out) then Newt has Mitt where he
wants him -- one on one.

Romney's debate performance was subpar. He handled the income tax return question
poorly. Everybody realizes that releasing your returns in April won't help primary
voters decide for whom they should vote in January. Most likely, Mitt's return will
show that he paid the capital gains rate -- 15 percent -- on his income, which is
his legal right, but which will open him up for criticism. But Romney has to realize
that he needs to take the heat and release them sooner rather than later. If
Gingrich releases his returns before South Carolina, you can bet he will force
Romney to fess up before Florida.

Mitt also needs to do a better job of defending Bain Capital. This is not a
tax-supported or philanthropic institution. Bain got private investors to bail out
failing companies. To do that, and to take those kinds of risks, you need to offer
monster returns. That Bain was able to produce, attract capital and turn around so
many companies is very, very admirable. And Romney needs to start addressing it in
those terms. Are his critics confident that he would have gotten the capital to try
to turn these companies around if he offered a lower return? On what basis do they
think so?

Newt only hurts himself by going negative. He looks bad doing it and it brings out
the worst in his image. It makes one wonder if he is staying in the race out of
anger and a need for revenge. But when he articulates his positive vision, we
realize what a patriot he really is.
23028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re-entry on: January 18, 2012, 08:07:13 PM
BTW I met a CMH recipient at the SHOT Show today  cool cool cool

Wars lessons being applied to ease combat stress
From Associated Press
January 18, 2012 7:59 PM EST
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — When the Marine unit that suffered the greatest casualties in the 10-year Afghan war returned home last spring, they didn't rush back to their everyday lives.

Instead, the Marine Corps put them into a kind of decompression chamber, keeping them at Camp Pendleton for 90 days with the hope that a slow re-entry into mundane daily life would ease their trauma.

The program was just one of many that the military created as it tries to address the emotional toll of war, a focus that is getting renewed attention as veterans struggling to adjust back home are accused of violent crimes, including murder.

While veterans are no more likely to commit such crimes than the general population, the latest cases have sparked a debate over whether they are isolated cases or a worrying reminder of what can happen when service members don't get the help they need.

"This is a big focus of all the services, that we take care of our warriors who are returning because they have taken such good care of us," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said, pointing out that tens of thousands of veterans return home to lead productive lives.

Some, however, fall on hard times, getting into trouble with the law. Others quietly suffer, with their families and friends trying to pull them out of a depression.

In the latest high-profile criminal case involving an Iraq war veteran, a former Camp Pendleton Marine is accused of killing four homeless men in California. His family said he was never the same after his 2008 deployment. In Washington state, an Iraq War veteran described as struggling emotionally killed a Mount Rainier National Park ranger and later died trying to escape.

Suffering from combat stress is an age-old problem. What's new is the kind of wars that troops fight now. They produce their own unique pressures, said psychologist Eric Zillmer, a Drexel University professor and co-editor of the book "Military Psychology: Clinical and Operational Applications."

The war on terror "is very ambiguous, with no front lines, where you can't tell who the enemy is. During the day, he may be a community leader and, at night, a guerrilla fighter. You never know when an assault takes place. It's very complicated, and people feel always on edge," he said.

Add to that, multiple deployments that tax the central nervous system, said Zillmer: "The human brain can only stay in danger mode for so long before it feels like it's lost it. It gets exhausted." He compared going into combat like "diving to the depths of the ocean and when you have to go back to the surface you have to decompress.

"It's the same process," he said. "It's almost a biological process."

A 2009 Army report concluded that the psychological trauma of fierce combat in Iraq might have helped drive soldiers from one brigade to kill as many as 11 people in Colorado and other states. The study found the soldiers also faced "significant disruptions in family-social support."

The military's stubbornly high suicide rate has proven that more help is needed, and that is why it has been investing in helping troops transition back from war zones.

Few units know war's pain more than the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. The Camp Pendleton battalion nicknamed "The Dark Horse" lost 25 members in some of the heaviest fighting ever seen in Afghanistan. More than 150 Marines were wounded. More than a dozen lost limbs.

The Marine Corps brass, concerned about the traumatic deployment's fallout, ordered the entire 950-member unit to remain on the Southern California base after it returned home. The 90 days was the same amount of time crews aboard war ships usually spend upon returning home.

During that time, the Marines participated in a memorial service for their fallen comrades. They held barbecues and banquets, where they talked about their time at war. Before the program, troops would go their separate ways with many finding they had no one to talk to about what they had just seen.

Mental health professionals are monitoring the group, which has since scattered. They say it is too early to tell what kind of impact keeping them together made. Combat veterans believe it likely will help in the long run. The Marines have ordered combat units since then to stick together for 90 days after leaving the battlefield.

"They share a commonality because they've gone through the same thing, so it helps them to come down," said Maj. Gen. Ronald Bailey, the commanding general of one of Camp Pendleton's most storied units, the 1st Marine Division.

"I can tell you from experience that this will help," said Bailey, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new practice is one of a slew of initiatives ushered in by the new commandant, Gen. James Amos, who has made addressing mental health issues of Marines a top priority. He was concerned by the branch's suicide rate, which has ranked among the highest of the armed services.

Commanders have tried to remove the stigma that seeking help is a sign of weakness. The Marines have set up hotlines and designated psychologists, chaplains and junior troops to identify troubled troops. "We've been in this 11 years and the medical staff and Marine officials are better educated now on dealing with combat stress," Bailey said.

All service members also now undergo rigorous screening of their mental stability both before and after they go to battle.

While Veterans Affairs and Department of Justice have said veterans don't commit more crimes per capita than others, the VA has launched efforts to help veterans in trouble with the law receive help rather than just be locked up.

Since 2009, the VA has had a legal team review cases to see if the best remedy is treatment instead of incarceration. States also have been establishing special veterans courts to do the same. Some say combat stress is also being used by criminals trying to get a lighter sentence.

Veterans agree the military has made great strides in the past few years but they say the help has come too late for many.

Paul Sullivan, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, said the military only started administering medical exams of service members before and after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007 to identify problems early so they can be treated more effectively and less expensively.

"It's good their implementing it now, yes, however, what's the military going to do with all of the veterans the military didn't examine?" he asked. "That's the problem."


Associated Press writers Amy Taxin in Santa Ana, Calif., Dan Elliott in Denver and Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
23029  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 18, 2012, 11:43:03 AM
I fear that just like George "Passionate Conservatism" Bush, Mitt suffers from what I call "patrician's guilt" and that therefor he will have a strong tendency to crumble and crump under class warfare and race-baiting from the progressives-Dems.
23030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury on PPI numbers on: January 18, 2012, 11:38:40 AM

The Producer Price Index (PPI) declined 0.1% in December To view this article, Click

Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
 Robert Stein - Senior Economist

Date: 1/18/2012

The Producer Price Index (PPI) declined 0.1% in December, coming in below the
consensus expected gain of 0.1%.  Producer prices are up 4.5% versus a year ago.
The decline in the PPI in December was due to food and energy, each dropping 0.8%.
The “core” PPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.3%.
Consumer goods prices dipped 0.2% in December but are up 5.4% versus last year.
Capital equipment prices rose 0.2% in December and are up 2.3% in the past year.
Core intermediate goods prices fell 0.5% in December but are up 4.2% versus a year
ago.  Core crude prices were unchanged in December but are up 3.3% in the past
twelve months.
Implications: Due to falling commodities, producer prices took a breather in
December, dipping 0.1% overall.  However, the Federal Reserve can hardly use this
data to justify another round of quantitative easing. “Core” prices,
which exclude food and energy and which the Fed says it follows more closely than
the overall figures, increased 0.3% and are now up 3.1% versus a year ago. With the
exception of a temporary surge in 2008-09, this is the largest 12-month increase for
core producer prices since the early 1990s. The increase in core prices in December
was largely due to light trucks and construction machinery, which suggests some
firms are preparing for an increase in activity. There has been a recent lull in
producer price inflation. Prices for overall finished goods increased 4.5% in the
past twelve months, but are down at a 0.6% annual rate in the past three months.
There has been a similar slowdown in producer price inflation at the intermediate
and crude levels of production, for both overall prices and for prices excluding
food and energy. Although monetary policy is loose, the reaction of inflation to
that policy is variable, not a straight line. We do not expect the lull in producer
price inflation to be long-lived. In other recent news, chain-store sales continue
to grow, up 3% versus a year ago according to the International Council of Shopping
Centers and up 2.8% according to Rebook Research. And remember, these data are only
for stores open for more than a year.
23031  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: January 18, 2012, 11:13:16 AM
If I read Helprin correctly, he is calling for the President to war upon Iran without a declaration of war.   

One notes that getting a declaration of war would ruin the element of surprise , , ,
23032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Driven by poverty and despair , , , on: January 18, 2012, 10:44:14 AM
U.S. News Send to a Friend Printable View
From US private school student to al-Qaida agent
From Associated Press
January 18, 2012 8:33 AM EST
Moeed Abdul Salam didn't descend into radical Islam for lack of other options. He grew up in a well-off Texas household, attended a pricey boarding school and graduated from one of the state's most respected universities.

But the most unlikely thing about his recruitment was his family: Two generations had spent years promoting interfaith harmony and combating Muslim stereotypes in their hometown and even on national television.

Salam rejected his relatives' moderate faith and comfortable life, choosing instead a path that led him to work for al-Qaida. His odyssey ended late last year in a middle-of-the-night explosion in Pakistan. The 37-year-old father of four was dead after paramilitary troops stormed his apartment.

Officers said Salam committed suicide with a grenade. An Islamic media group said the troops killed him.

Salam's Nov. 19 death went largely unnoticed in the U.S. and rated only limited attention in Pakistan. But the circumstances threatened to overshadow the work of an American family devoted to religious understanding. And his mysterious evolution presented a reminder of the attraction Pakistan still holds for Islamic militants, especially well-educated Westerners whose Internet and language skills make them useful converts for jihad.

"There are things that we don't want to happen but we have to accept, things that we don't want to know but we have to learn, and a loved one we can't live without but have to let go," Salam's mother, Hasna Shaheen Salam, wrote last month on her Facebook page.

The violence didn't stop after Salam died. Weeks after his death, fellow militants killed three soldiers with a roadside bomb to avenge the raid.

It is not clear to what extent Salam's family knew of his radicalism, but on his Facebook page the month before he died, he posted an image of Anwar al-Awalki, the American al-Qaida leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, beside a burning American flag. He had also recently linked to a document praising al-Awalki's martyrdom and to a message urging Muslims to rejoice "in this time when you see the mujahideen all over the world victorious."

After his death, the Global Islamic Media Forum, a propaganda group for al-Qaida and its allies, hailed Salam as a martyr, explaining in an online posting that he had overseen a unit that produced propaganda in Urdu and other South Asian languages.

A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said Salam's role had expanded over the years beyond propaganda to being an operative. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The family, originally from Pakistan, immigrated to the U.S. decades ago. Salam's father was a pilot for a Saudi airline, and the family eventually settled in the Dallas suburb of Plano. Their cream-colored brick home, assessed at nearly $400,000, stands on a corner lot in a quiet, upper-class neighborhood.

The family obtained American citizenship in 1986. Salam attended Suffield Academy in Connecticut, a private high school where tuition and board currently run $46,500. He graduated in 1992.

A classmate, Wadiya Wynn, of Laurel, Md., recalled that Salam played varsity golf, sang in an a cappella group and in the chamber choir, and that he hung out with a small group of "hippie-ish" friends. She thought he was a mediocre student, but noted that just being admitted to Suffield was highly competitive.

Salam went on to study history at the University of Texas at Austin and graduated in 1996. His Facebook profile indicated he moved to Saudi Arabia by 2003 and began working as a translator, writer and editor for websites about Islam.

"Anyone can pick up a gun, but there aren't as many people who can code html and understand the use of proxies," said Evan Kohlmann, a senior partner a Flashpoint Global Partners, which tracks radical Muslim propaganda.

Salam, who had apparently been active in militant circles for as long as nine years, arrived three years ago in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and became an important link between al-Qaida, the Taliban and other extremists groups, according to an al-Qaida operative in Karachi who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is wanted by authorities.

Salam traveled to the tribal areas close to the Afghan border three or four times for meetings with senior al-Qaida and Taliban leaders, the operative said. He would handle money and logistics in the city and deliver instructions from other members of the network.

Back in the United States, Salam's mother is a prominent resident of Plano, where she is co-chairwoman of a city advisory group called the Plano Multicultural Outreach Roundtable, as well as a former president of the Texas Muslim Women's Foundation.

The founder of the latter group, Hind Jarrah, said Shaheen and her husband are too upset to speak with anyone.

"She's a committed American citizen. She's a hard worker," Jarrah said, calling her "one of the nicest, most committed, most open-minded" women she had ever met.

Salam's brother, Monem Salam, has traveled the country speaking about Islam, seeking to correct misconceptions following the 9/11 attacks. He works for Saturna Capital, where he manages funds that invest according to Islamic principles — for example, in companies that do not profit from alcohol or pork. He recently moved from the company's Bellingham, Wash., headquarters to head its office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

After the 2001 attacks, he and his wife made a public-television documentary about his efforts as a Muslim man to obtain a pilot's license. They also wrote a column for The Bellingham Herald newspaper that answered readers' questions about Islam.

Both Salam's parents and his brother declined numerous interview requests from The Associated Press.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, dozens of U.S. citizens have been accused of participating in terrorism activities, including several prominent al-Qaida propagandists, such as al-Awalaki and Samir Khan, who was killed alongside him. Perhaps best known is Adam Gadahn, an al-Qaida spokesman believed to be in Pakistan.

Of 46 cases of "homegrown terrorism" in the U.S. since 2001, 16 have a connection to Pakistan, according to a recent RAND Corporation study. Salam's background as college-educated and from a prosperous family isn't unusual among them.

Salam divorced his wife in October, but was contesting custody of their three sons and one daughter. The children were staying with him in the third-floor apartment when a squad of paramilitary troops known as Rangers arrived around 3:30 a.m.

Officers said they pushed through the flimsy door, and Salam killed himself with a grenade when he realized he was surrounded.

The Islamic media group and the al-Qaida contact in Karachi disputed that account, saying Salam was killed by the troops.

Through the windows, blood splatter and shrapnel marks were visible on the wall close to the dining table. There were boxes of unpacked luggage, a treadmill and two large stereo speakers. Residents said Moeed had only been living there for five days.

Neighbor Syed Mohammad Farooq was woken by an explosion. Minutes later, one of the troops asked him to go inside the apartment and see what had happened, he said.

"He was lying on the floor with blood pooling around him. One of his arms had been blown off. I couldn't look for long. He was moaning and seemed to be reciting verses from the Koran," he said. "I could hear the children crying, but I couldn't see them."

Hours later, Salam's wife and father-in-law, a lawyer in the city, came to collect the children from the apartment in Gulistane Jauhar, a middle-class area of Karachi, Farooq said. On the night he died, Salam led evening prayers at the small mosque on the ground floor of the apartment building.

"His Koranic recitation was very good," said Karim Baloch, who prayed behind him that night. "It was like that of an Arab."


Johnson reported from Bellingham, Wash., and can be reached at Brummitt reported from Islamabad, Pakistan, and can be reached at


AP news researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report, along with reporters Ashraf Khan in Karachi, Pakistan; Zarar Khan in Islamabad; Adam Goldman in Washington; Danny Robbins and Linda Stewart Ball in Plano, Texas; and Paul Weber and Will Weissert in Austin, Texas.
23033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 18, 2012, 10:40:57 AM
"Are you better off now than you than you were five trillion dollars ago?"

If the future Republican nominee is amongst our readers, I hope he is taking notes!
23034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: January 18, 2012, 10:39:19 AM
Agreed.  My sympathies for Newt are a matter of record around here, but I agree that this Bain Capital episode appears to have been not only a blunder, but also a moment of character weakness for him.   

Here's a WSJ piece from today on his professor years:


A year into his first full-time teaching job, Newt Gingrich applied to be college president, submitting with his application a paper titled "Some Projections on West Georgia College's Next Thirty Years."

Mel Steely, a history professor who played a role in Mr. Gingrich's hiring in 1970, said the bid drew "a chuckle" from administrators. The following year, Mr. Gingrich applied to be chairman of the history department. That wasn't greeted so kindly, Mr. Steely said, with some favoring a longtime professor and World War II veteran.

Enlarge Image

University of West Georgia
Newt Gingrich in 1973, during his time at West Georgia College.

"We weren't going to make Newt our chairman, but he liked the idea of competing for almost anything," said Mr. Steely, who later wrote a complimentary biography of Mr. Gingrich titled "The Gentleman From Georgia." "He figured 'I'm capable of doing this,' and it didn't bother him so much that it offended anybody."

Mr. Gingrich often says his experience as a historian would make him a superior president. During Monday's GOP debate, he lectured "as a historian" on "a fact-based model" for revamping Social Security, citing the success of programs in Galveston, Texas, and Chile.

Gingrich's History

Review records relating to Newt Gingrich's time as a professor and his early political career.

View Interactive

So what was Professor Gingrich actually like? A clutch of little-known records from what is now the University of West Georgia in Carrollton suggests the ambition and intellectual grandeur of Newt 2012 aren't a long way from the 1970s vintage. In addition to seeking the college presidency, Mr. Gingrich was often absent as he pursued political goals. He embarked on an effort to moonlight as a paid consultant. And, it turns out, he spent little time teaching history.

Mr. Gingrich coordinated the school's fledgling environmental-studies department and by 1976 was removed from the history department because his "interest in long-range and broad-range planning for the clearly more appropriate to the orientation of our Department of Geography," a 1975 letter from then-college president Ward Pafford reads.

Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond emphasized that Mr. Gingrich's backing in history includes a master's and doctoral degree from Tulane University and extensive research and writing on the subject. "He's talked about teaching environmental studies" at West Georgia, Mr. Hammond said.

Then as now, "There was this whole wealth of information that he was communicating in digestible bites," said J. Randolph Evans, a West Georgia student of Mr. Gingrich who was his legal counsel when he was House speaker in the 1990s and chairman of several Gingrich ventures. He described Mr. Gingrich as an engaged and energetic professor.

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More photos and interactive graphics
The college records total more than 200 pages, but they're incomplete, university officials say, citing the file's age. Mr. Gingrich left the small liberal arts college in 1977 after seven years and after he was denied tenure.

Mr. Gingrich was recommended to West Georgia as a dynamic young academic "with a single-minded purpose in life: to become a fine teacher-scholar," wrote Charles P. Roland, then-chairman of history at Tulane University in New Orleans.

His application listed 26 books he said he'd read between August 1969 and January 1970 while writing his dissertation on educational systems in the Belgian Congo. Mr. Gingrich, his wife, Jackie, and their two daughters were living in Brussels at the time. "My reading is rather too eclectic for a specialist and my coursework was too broad to give me any depth," he wrote in a 1970 letter to W. Benjamin Kennedy, who then led West Georgia's history department. He started at an annual salary of $9,700.

After his unsuccessful bid for the president's job, college officials asked him and a colleague to draw up ideas for modernizing the institution. That led to the 1973 creation of "The Institute for Directed Change and Renewal," a platform the two men used to try to sell the institute's services to public schools.

Mr. Gingrich wrote to a college vice president asking if it was "appropriate and legal" to profit from their work. College President Pafford responded swiftly: "You are not entitled to financial compensation by any other State of Georgia agency or institution," he wrote in a memo. The institute soon went defunct.

The file contains a letter from Mr. Gingrich apologizing for his brusque treatment of Mr. Kennedy, the history head. "Occassionally [sic] a young man acting in innocence will cause trouble while pursuing what he believes to be a good cause," Mr. Gingrich wrote. A memo on the incident written by Mr. Kennedy is missing.

Mr. Gingrich threw himself into working as "a specialist in futurism," according to a 1973 college news release. "Asked why he maintains such a hectic schedule, he said he feels it is his obligation as an educator to do as much as possible to make the world a better place," the release said. In fact, Mr. Gingrich was pursuing a long-shot bid for Congress, running as the 6th District's lone Republican in the shadow of Watergate.

A December 1973 news story by Howell Raines, then of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, noted Mr. Gingrich was making "four or more speeches a week," while "carefully retaining the unofficial status of his candidacy." It was against the rules of the university system for serving professors to campaign for office.

Mr. Gingrich later went on unpaid leave to pursue his campaign, billing himself as a reformer, as he had at West Georgia College. He lost, but tried twice more, each time taking unpaid leave. After leaving the college for good, he won his House seat in 1978.

Write to Elizabeth Williamson at
23035  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / There goes another $83.33 Billion on: January 18, 2012, 09:31:25 AM
US share of IMF is 1/6.

* Global stocks this morning are mixed with the Euro Stoxx 50 down -0.06% and Mar
S&Ps up +2.40 points.  The dollar and Treasuries are lower and most commodities rose
after the IMF proposed a $500 billion expansion of its lending resources to insulate
the global economy against any worsening of Europe's debt crisis.  The IMF is
pushing China, Brazil, Russia, India, Japan and oil exporting nations to be the top
contributors to the bailout fund that may be initiated at the Feb 25-26 meeting of
G-20 finance ministers and central bankers in Mexico City.  The IMF currently has
$385 billion available for lending and wants to boost that amount to $885 billion.
A positive for European bank stocks was the decline in the 3-month cross-currency
basis swap, the rate banks pay to convert euro interest payments into dollars, to 78
bp below the euro interbank offered rate, a 5-1/4 month low.  Limiting gains in
stocks and the euro was the action by Germany's Economy Ministry to cut its 2012
German GDP forecast to +0.7%, down from an Oct forecast of +1.0% as the debt crisis
dampens the outlook for sustaining exports.  The World Bank also cut its growth
estimates as they reduced their 2012 global growth forecast to +2.5% from a June
estimate of +3.6%, saying a recession in the Euro-Zone threatens to exacerbate a
slowdown in emerging markets.
23036  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 18, 2012, 01:37:37 AM
Nice work  grin

BTW, with regard to the data of the early Reagan years, I would add that

a) Volcker at the Fed, taking advice from the Dems who said the tax rate cuts would be inflationary (i.e. if people spend the money they make it causes inflation, but if the government does, it doesn't) stopped on the money brakes

b) The Reagan rate cuts were phased in over three years.  This causes many businesses to defer taking profits, invest, etc until the rates had bottomed.  In the January of the first year where the cuts were fully phased in Milton Friedman, using monetary criteria predicted poor growth.  Jude Wanniski and the rest of the supply side school predicted outstanding growth.  When the data came in, that quarter was 10%!  Game, set, match-- the Laffer Curve won.
23037  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gen. McCaffrey 15% chance of war; Helprin-- take out Iran's nukes on: January 17, 2012, 11:01:52 PM
Very interesting piece, not all sunshine and roses.


Mark Helprin:

Iran will be able to sea launch nukes from off our coasts or detonate in our harbors, Obama should take them out.


To assume that Iran will not close the Strait of Hormuz is to assume that primitive religious fanatics will perform cost-benefit analyses the way they are done at Wharton. They won't, especially if the oil that is their life's blood is threatened. If Iran does close the strait, we will fight an air and naval war derivative of and yet peripheral to the Iranian nuclear program, a mortal threat the president of the United States has inadequately addressed.

A mortal threat when Iran is not yet in possession of a nuclear arsenal? Yes, because immediately upon possession all remedies are severely restricted. Without doubt, Iran has long wanted nuclear weapons—to deter American intervention in its and neighboring territories; to threaten Europe and thereby cleave it from American interests in the Middle East; to respond to the former Iraqi nuclear effort; to counter the contiguous nuclear presences in Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. in the Gulf; to neutralize Israel's nuclear deterrent so as to limit it to the attrition of conventional battle, or to destroy it with one lucky shot; to lead the Islamic world; to correct the security imbalance with Saudi Arabia, which aided by geography and American arms now outclasses it; and to threaten the U.S. directly.

In the absence of measures beyond pinpoint sanctions and unenforceable resolutions, Iran will get nuclear weapons, which in its eyes are an existential necessity. We have long known and done nothing about this, preferring to dance with the absurd Iranian claim that it is seeking electricity. With rampant inflation and unemployment, a housing crisis, and gasoline rationing, why spend $1,000-$2,000 per kilowatt to build nuclear plants instead of $400-$800 for gas, when you possess the second largest gas reserves in the world? In 2005, Iran consumed 3.6 trillion cubic feet of its 974 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves, which are enough to last 270 years. We know that in 2006—generation exceeding consumption by 10%—Iran exported electricity and planned a high-tension line to Russia to export more.

Accommodationists argue that a rational Iran can be contained. Not the Iran with a revered tradition of deception; that during its war with Iraq pushed 100,000 young children to their deaths clearing minefields; that counts 15% of its population as "Volunteer Martyrs"; that chants "Death to America" at each session of parliament; and whose president states that no art "is more beautiful . . . than the art of the martyr's death." Not the Iran in thrall to medieval norms and suffering continual tension and crises.

Its conceptions of nuclear strategy are very likely to be looser, and its thresholds lower, than those of Russia and China, which are in turn famously looser and lower than our own. And yet Eisenhower and Churchill weighed a nuclear option in Korea, Kennedy a first strike upon the U.S.S.R., and Westmoreland upon North Vietnam. How then can we be certain that Iran is rational and containable?

Enlarge Image

Associated Press
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Inexpert experts will state that Iran cannot strike with nuclear weapons. But let us count the ways. It has the aerial tankerage to sustain one or two planes that might slip past air defenses between it and Israel, Europe, or the U.S., combining radar signatures with those of cleared commercial flights. As Iran increases its ballistic missile ranges and we strangle our missile defenses, America will face a potential launch from Iranian territory.

Iran can sea-launch from off our coasts. Germany planned this in World War II. Subsequently, the U.S. completed 67 water-supported launches, ending as recently as 1980; the U.S.S.R. had two similar programs; and Iran itself has sea-launched from a barge in the Caspian. And if in 2007, for example, 1,100 metric tons of cocaine were smuggled from South America without interdiction, we cannot dismiss the possibility of Iranian nuclear charges of 500 pounds or less ending up in Manhattan or on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The probabilities of the above are subject to the grave multiplication of nuclear weapons. Of all things in respect to the Iranian nuclear question, this is the most overlooked. A 1-in-20 chance of breaking a leg is substantially different from a 1-in-20 chance of dying, itself different from a 1-in-20 chance of half a million people dying. Cost drastically changes the nature of risk, although we persist in ignoring this. Assuming that we are a people worthy of defending ourselves, what can be done?

Much easier before Iran recently began to burrow into bedrock, it is still possible for the U.S., and even Israel at greater peril, to halt the Iranian nuclear program for years to come. Massive ordnance penetrators; lesser but precision-guided penetrators "drilling" one after another; fuel-air detonations with almost the force of nuclear weapons; high-power microwave attack; the destruction of laboratories, unhardened targets, and the Iranian electrical grid; and other means, can be combined to great effect.

Unlike North Korea, Iran does not yet possess nuclear weapons, does not have the potential of overwhelming an American ally, and is not of sufficient concern to Russia and China, its lukewarm patrons, for them to war on its behalf. It is incapable of withholding its oil without damaging itself irreparably, and even were it to cease production entirely, the Saudis—in whose interest the elimination of Iranian nuclear potential is paramount—could easily make up the shortfall. Though Iran might attack Saudi oil facilities, it could not damage them fatally. The Gulf would be closed until Iranian air, naval, and missile forces there were scrubbed out of existence by the U.S., probably France and Britain, and the Saudis themselves, in a few weeks.

It is true that Iranian proxies would attempt to exact a price in terror world-wide, but this is not new, we would brace for the reprisals, and although they would peak, they would then subside. The cost would be far less than that of permitting the power of nuclear destruction to a vengeful, martyrdom-obsessed state in the midst of a never-subsiding fury against the West.

Any president of the United States fit for the office should someday, soon, say to the American people that in his judgment Iran—because of its longstanding and implacable push for nuclear weapons, its express hostility to the U.S., Israel and the West, and its record of barbarity and terror—must be deprived of the capacity to wound this country and its allies such as they have never been wounded before.

Relying solely upon his oath, holding in abeyance any consideration of politics or transient opinion, and eager to defend his decision in exquisite detail, he should order the armed forces of the United States to attack and destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons complex. When they have complied, and our pilots are in the air on their way home, they will have protected our children in their beds—and our children's children, many years from now, in theirs. May this country always have clear enough sight and strong enough will to stand for itself in the face of mortal threat, and in time.

Mr. Helprin, a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, is the author of, among other works, the novels "Winter's Tale" (Harcourt) and "A Soldier of the Great War" (Harcourt).
23038  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: January 17, 2012, 10:54:20 PM
Yes, for those of you who follow our Politics & Religion forum, that is Andrew Bole's group.
23039  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: January 17, 2012, 10:53:14 PM
It turns out our master has a glitch in it and so we need to create a new one.   cry Time frame?  Unknown.
23040  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Brake the Internet Pirates on: January 17, 2012, 09:53:54 PM
Wikipedia and many other websites are shutting down today to oppose a proposal in Congress on foreign Internet piracy, and the White House is seconding the protest. The covert lobbying war between Silicon Valley and most other companies in the business of intellectual property is now in the open, and this fight could define—or reinvent—copyright in the digital era.

Everyone agrees, or at least claims to agree, that the illegal sale of copyrighted and trademarked products has become a world-wide, multibillion-dollar industry and a legitimate and growing economic problem. This isn't college kids swapping MP3s, as in the 1990s. Rather, rogue websites set up shop oversees and sell U.S. consumers bootleg movies, TV shows, software, video games, books and music, as well as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fashion, jewelry and more.

Often consumers think they're buying copies or streams from legitimate retail enterprises, sometimes not. Either way, the technical term for this is theft.

The tech industry says it wants to stop such crimes, but it also calls any tangible effort to do so censorship that would "break the Internet." Wikipedia has never blacked itself out before on any other political issue, nor have websites like Mozilla or the social news aggregator Reddit. How's that for irony: Companies supposedly devoted to the free flow of information are gagging themselves, and the only practical effect will be to enable fraudsters. They've taken no comparable action against, say, Chinese repression.

Meanwhile, the White House let it be known over the weekend in a blog post—how fitting—that it won't support legislation that "reduces freedom of expression" or damages "the dynamic, innovative global Internet," as if this describes the reality of Internet theft. President Obama has finally found a regulation he doesn't like, which must mean that the campaign contributions of Google and the Stanford alumni club are paying dividends.

Enlarge Image

AFP/Getty Images
The House bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and its Senate counterpart are far more modest than this cyber tantrum suggests. By our reading they would create new tools to target the worst-of-the-worst black markets. The notion that a SOPA dragnet will catch a stray Facebook post or Twitter link is false.

Under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998, U.S. prosecutors and rights-holders can and do obtain warrants to shut down rogue websites and confiscate their domain names under asset-seizure laws. Such powers stop at the water's edge, however. SOPA is meant to target the international pirates that are currently beyond the reach of U.S. law.

The bill would allow the Attorney General to sue infringers and requires the Justice Department to prove in court that a foreign site is dedicated to the wholesale violation of copyright under the same standards that apply to domestic sites. In rare circumstances private plaintiffs can also sue for remedies, not for damages, and their legal tools are far more limited than the AG's.

If any such case succeeds after due process under federal civil procedure, SOPA requires third parties to make it harder to traffic in stolen online content. Search engines would be required to screen out links, just as they remove domestic piracy or child pornography sites from their indexes. Credit card and other online financial service companies couldn't complete transactions.

(Obligatory housekeeping: We at the Journal are in the intellectual property business, and our parent company, News Corp., supports the bills as do most other media content companies.)

Moreover, SOPA is already in its 3.0 version to address the major objections. Compromises have narrowed several vague and overly broad provisions. The bill's drafters also removed a feature requiring Internet service providers to filter the domain name system for thieves—which would have meant basically removing them from the Internet's phone book to deny consumer access. But the anti-SOPA activists don't care about these crucial details.

The e-vangelists seem to believe that anybody is entitled to access to any content at any time at no cost—open source. Their real ideological objection is to the concept of copyright itself, and they oppose any legal regime that values original creative work. The offline analogue is Occupy Wall Street.

Information and content may want to be free, or not, but that's for their owners to decide, not or or The Founders recognized the economic benefits of intellectual property, which is why the Constitution tells Congress to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" (Article I, Section Cool.

The Internet has been a tremendous engine for commercial and democratic exchange, but that makes it all the more important to police the abusers who hijack its architecture. SOPA merely adapts the current avenues of legal recourse for infringement and counterfeiting to new realities. Without rights that protect the creativity and innovation that bring fresh ideas and products to market, there will be far fewer ideas and products to steal.
23041  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 17, 2012, 05:51:00 PM
It IS an interesting read.  AS is not stupid and to deconstruct it would take more time and effort than I am inclined to invest while I am on the road, but I agree-- it is worth the time.
23042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: January 17, 2012, 05:36:08 PM

I liked that.  A lot.

23043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good news! BP toughening policies; some other items on: January 17, 2012, 08:54:37 AM

AP Exclusive: Border Patrol to toughen policy
A Border Patrol agent works in front of a color-coded chart at a detention center Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, in Imperial Beach, Calif. The Border Patrol is moving to end its revolving-door policy of turning migrants around to Mexico without any punishment in what amounted to an invitation to immediately try their luck again. (AP Photo - Gregory Bull)
From Associated Press
January 17, 2012 6:53 AM EST
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol is moving to halt a revolving-door policy of sending migrants back to Mexico without any punishment.

The agency this month is overhauling its approach on migrants caught illegally crossing the 1,954-mile border that the United States shares with Mexico. Years of enormous growth at the federal agency in terms of staff and technology have helped drive down apprehensions of migrants to 40-year lows.

The number of agents since 2004 has more than doubled to 21,000. The Border Patrol has blanketed one-third of the border with fences and other physical barriers, and spent heavily on cameras, sensors and other gizmos. Major advances in fingerprinting technology have vastly improved intelligence on border-crossers. In the 2011 fiscal year, border agents made 327,577 apprehensions on the Mexican border, down 80 percent from more than 1.6 million in 2000. It was the Border Patrol's slowest year since 1971.

It's a far cry from just a few years ago. Older agents remember being so overmatched that they powerlessly watched migrants cross illegally, minutes after catching them and dropping them off at the nearest border crossing. Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher, who joined the Border Patrol in 1987, recalls apprehending the same migrant 10 times in his eight-hour shift as a young agent.

The Border Patrol now feels it has enough of a handle to begin imposing more serious consequences on almost everyone it catches, from areas including Texas' Rio Grande Valley to San Diego. The "Consequence Delivery System" — a key part of the Border Patrol's new national strategy to be announced within weeks — relies largely on tools that have been rolled out over the last decade on parts of the border and expanded. It divides border crossers into seven categories, ranging from first-time offenders to people with criminal records.

Punishments vary by region but there is a common thread: Simply turning people around after taking their fingerprints is the choice of last resort. Some, including children and the medically ill, will still get a free pass by being turned around at the nearest border crossing, but they will be few and far between.

"What we want to be able to do is make that the exception and not necessarily the norm," Fisher told The Associated Press.

Consequences can be severe for detained migrants and expensive to American taxpayers, including felony prosecution or being taken to an unfamiliar border city hundreds of miles away to be sent back to Mexico. One tool used during summers in Arizona involves flying migrants to Mexico City, where they get one-way bus tickets to their hometowns. Another releases them to Mexican authorities for prosecution south of the border. One puts them on buses to return to Mexico in another border city that may be hundreds of miles away.

In the past, migrants caught in Douglas, Ariz., were given a bologna sandwich and orange juice before being taken back to Mexico at the same location on the same afternoon, Fisher said. Now, they may spend the night at an immigration detention facility near Phoenix and eventually return to Mexico through Del Rio, Texas, more than 800 miles away.

Those migrants are effectively cut off from the smugglers who helped them cross the border, whose typical fees have skyrocketed to between $3,200 and $3,500 and are increasingly demanding payment upfront instead of after crossing, Fisher said. At minimum, they will have to wait longer to try again as they raise money to pay another smuggler.

"What used to be hours and days is now being translated into days and weeks," said Fisher.

The new strategy was first introduced a year ago in the office at Tucson, Ariz., the patrol's busiest corridor for illegal crossings. Field supervisors ranked consequences on a scale from 1 to 5 using 15 different yardsticks, including the length of time since the person was last caught and per-hour cost for processing.

The longstanding practice of turning migrants straight around without any punishment, known as "voluntary returns," ranked least expensive — and least effective.

Agents got color-coded, wallet-sized cards — also made into posters at Border Patrol stations — that tells them what to do with each category of offender. For first-time violators, prosecution is a good choice, with one-way flights to Mexico City also scoring high. For known smugglers, prosecution in Mexico is the top pick.

The Border Patrol has introduced many new tools in recent years without much consideration to whether a first-time violator merited different treatment than a repeat crosser.

"There really wasn't much thought other than, 'Hey, the bus is outside, let's put the people we just finished processing on the bus and therefore wherever that bus is going, that's where they go,'" Fisher said.

Now, a first-time offender faces different treatment than one caught two or three times. A fourth-time violator faces other consequences.

The number of those who have been apprehended in the Tucson sector has plunged 80 percent since 2000, allowing the Border Patrol to spend more time and money on each of the roughly 260 migrants caught daily. George Allen, an assistant sector chief, said there are 188 seats on four daily buses to border cities in California and Texas. During summers, a daily flight to Mexico City has 146 seats.

Only about 10 percent of those apprehended now get "voluntary returns" in the Tucson sector, down from about 85 percent three years ago, said Rick Barlow, the sector chief. Most of those who are simply turned around are children, justified by the Border Patrol on humanitarian grounds.

Fisher acknowledged that the new strategy depends heavily on other agencies. Federal prosecutors must agree to take his cases. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must have enough beds in its detention facilities.

In Southern California, the U.S. attorney's office doesn't participate in a widely used Border Patrol program that prosecutes even first-time offenders with misdemeanors punishable by up to six months in custody, opting instead to pursue only felonies for the most egregious cases, including serial border-crossers and criminals.

Laura Duffy, the U.S. attorney in San Diego, said limited resources, including lack of jail space, force her to make choices.

"It has not been the practice (in California) to target and prosecute economic migrants who have no criminal histories, who are coming in to the United States to work or to be with their families," Duffy said. "We do target the individuals who are smuggling those individuals."

Fisher would like to refer more cases for prosecution south of the border, but the Mexican government can only prosecute smugglers: smuggling migrants is a crime in Mexico but there is nothing wrong about crossing illegally to the United States. It also said its resources were stretched on some parts of the border.

Criticism of the Border Patrol's new tactics is guaranteed to persist as the new strategy goes into effect at other locations. Some say immigration cases are overwhelming federal courts on the border at the expense of investigations into white-collar crime, public corruption and other serious threats. Others consider prison time for first-time offenders to be excessively harsh.

The Border Patrol also may be challenged when the U.S. economy recovers, creating jobs that may encourage more illegal crossings. Still, many believe heightened U.S. enforcement and an aging population in Mexico that is benefiting from a relatively stable economy will keep migrants away.

"We'll never see the numbers that we saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s," said Edward Alden, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Doris Meissner, who oversaw the Border Patrol as head of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in the 1990s, said the new approach makes sense "on the face of it" but that it will be expensive. She also said it is unclear so far if it will be more effective at discouraging migrants from trying again.

"I do think the Border Patrol is finally at a point where it has sufficient resources that it can actually try some of these things," said Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.

Tucson, the only sector to have tried the new approach for a full year, has already tweaked its color-coded chart of punishments two or three times. Fisher said initial signs are promising, with the number of repeat crossers falling at a faster rate than before and faster than on other parts of the border.

"I'm not going to claim it was a direct effect, but it was enough to say it has merit," he said.

Networked Intelligence | 17 January 2012

MEXICO: Defense Secretariat recommends policy review

On 9 January 2012, the Mexican army’s institutional magazine La Gran Fuerza de
México said that Mexico faces a looming energy crisis due to oil shortages, a food
crisis fueled by climate change and overpopulation, and vulnerability to cyber
attacks.  The Defense Secretaiat (Sedena) recommended that Mexico renew its defense
policy to seek alternative energy sources and to formulate new production and
nutrition policies to stave off famine.

MEXICO: Informal sector drove employment growth under PAN administrations

On 9 January 2012, the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) reported that the
informal sector became the main generator of employment over the last 11 years. The
number of employed individuals increased by 10.8 million, 23.7 percent of which were
employed in the formal sector, while the remaining 76.3 percent fell within the
informal sector. The unemployment rate increased by 202 percent, with a total of
2,781,703 unemployed persons. However, the report shows a 14 percent growth of the
number of jobs under the present administration.

MEXICO: Local chief of La Familia arrested

On 11 January 2012, members of the Federal police arrested Emmanuel Díaz Ríos, alias
El Profe, area chief for “La Familia” cartel in the municipalities of Chicoloapán,
Chimalhuacán, Nezahualcóyotl, Los Reyes and Texcoco in the state of Mexico. While
arresting him, Iztapalapa police also seized a nine-millimeter firearm with 10
cartridges, 40 cartridges of different calibers, one chip, seven cell phones, a
package containing one kilo of white powder suspected to be cocaine, documents and a
gray van with license plates from the state of Mexico.
23044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Straits of Hormuz on: January 17, 2012, 08:51:29 AM
Baraq's weakness in bugging out of Iraq bears its inevitable fruit.

Iran, the U.S. and the Strait of Hormuz Crisis

By George Friedman | January 17, 2012

The United States reportedly sent a letter to Iran via multiple intermediaries last
week warning Tehran that any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz constituted a red
line for Washington. The same week, a chemist associated with Iran's nuclear program
was killed in Tehran. In Ankara, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani met with
Turkish officials and has been floating hints of flexibility in negotiations over
Iran's nuclear program.

This week, a routine rotation of U.S. aircraft carriers is taking place in the
Middle East, with the potential for three carrier strike groups to be on station in
the U.S. Fifth Fleet's area of operations and a fourth carrier strike group based in
Japan about a week's transit from the region. Next week, Gen. Michael Dempsey,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will travel to Israel to meet with senior
Israeli officials. And Iran is scheduling another set of war games in the Persian
Gulf for February that will focus on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps'
irregular tactics for closing the Strait of Hormuz.

While tensions are escalating in the Persian Gulf, the financial crisis in Europe
has continued, with downgrades in France's credit rating the latest blow. Meanwhile,
China continued its struggle to maintain exports in the face of economic weakness
among its major customers while inflation continued to increase the cost of Chinese

Fundamental changes in how Europe and China work and their long-term consequences
represent the major systemic shifts in the international system. In the more
immediate future, however, the U.S.-Iranian dynamic has the most serious potential
consequences for the world.

The U.S.-Iranian Dynamic

The increasing tensions in the region are not unexpected. As we have argued for some
time, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the subsequent decision to withdraw created a
massive power vacuum in Iraq that Iran needed -- and was able -- to fill. Iran and
Iraq fought a brutal war in the 1980s that caused about 1 million Iranian
casualties, and Iran's fundamental national interest is assuring that no Iraqi
regime able to threaten Iranian national security re-emerges. The U.S. invasion and
withdrawal from Iraq provided Iran an opportunity to secure its western frontier,
one it could not pass on.

If Iran does come to have a dominant influence in Iraq -- and I don't mean Iran
turning Iraq into a satellite -- several things follow. Most important, the status
of the Arabian Peninsula is subject to change. On paper, Iran has the most
substantial conventional military force of any nation in the Persian Gulf. Absent
outside players, power on paper is not insignificant. While technologically
sophisticated, the military strength of the Arabian Peninsula nations on paper is
much smaller and they lack the Iranian military's ideologically committed manpower.

But Iran's direct military power is more the backdrop than the main engine of
Iranian power. It is the strength of Tehran's covert capabilities and influence that
makes Iran significant. Iran's covert intelligence capability is quite good. It has
spent decades building political alliances by a range of means, and not only by
nefarious methods. The Iranians have worked among the Shia, but not exclusively so;
they have built a network of influence among a range of classes and religious and
ethnic groups. And they have systematically built alliances and relationships with
significant figures to counter overt U.S. power. With U.S. military power departing
Iraq, Iran's relationships become all the more valuable.

The withdrawal of U.S. forces has had a profound psychological impact on the
political elites of the Persian Gulf. Since the decline of British power after World
War II, the United States has been the guarantor of the Arabian Peninsula's elites
and therefore of the flow of oil from the region. The foundation of that guarantee
has been military power, as seen in the response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in
1990. The United States still has substantial military power in the Persian Gulf,
and its air and naval forces could likely cope with any overt provocation by Iran.

But that's not how the Iranians operate. For all their rhetoric, they are cautious
in their policies. This does not mean they are passive. It simply means that they
avoid high-risk moves. They will rely on their covert capabilities and
relationships. Those relationships now exist in an environment in which many
reasonable Arab leaders see a shift in the balance of power, with the United States
growing weaker and less predictable in the region and Iran becoming stronger. This
provides fertile soil for Iranian allies to pressure regional regimes into
accommodations with Iran.

The Syrian Angle

Events in Syria compound this situation. The purported imminent collapse of Syrian
President Bashar al Assad's regime in Syria has proven less imminent than many in
the West imagined. At the same time, the isolation of the al Assad regime by the
West -- and more important, by other Arab countries -- has created a situation where
the regime is more dependent than ever on Iran.

Should the al Assad regime -- or the Syrian regime without al Assad -- survive, Iran
would therefore enjoy tremendous influence with Syria, as well as with Hezbollah in
Lebanon. The current course in Iraq coupled with the survival of an Alawite regime
in Syria would create an Iranian sphere of influence stretching from western
Afghanistan to the Mediterranean. This would represent a fundamental shift in the
regional balance of power, and probably would redefine Iranian relations with the
Arabian Peninsula. This is obviously in Iran's interest. It is not in the interests
of the United States, however.

The United States has sought to head this off via a twofold response. Clandestinely,
it has engaged in an active campaign of sabotage and assassination targeting Iran's
nuclear efforts. Publicly, it has created a sanctions regime against Iran, most
recently targeting Iran's oil exports. The later effort faces many challenges,

Japan, the No. 2 buyer of Iranian crude, has pledged its support, but has not
outlined concrete plans to reduce its purchases. The Chinese and Indians -- Iran's
No. 1 and 3 buyers of crude, respectively -- will continue to buy from Iran despite
increased U.S. pressure. In spite of U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's
visit last week, the Chinese are not prepared to impose sanctions, and the Russians
are not likely to enforce sanctions even if they agreed to them. Turkey is unwilling
to create a confrontation with Iran and is trying to remain a vital trade conduit
for the Iranians regardless of sanctions. At the same time, while the Europeans seem
prepared to participate in harder-hitting sanctions on Iranian oil, they already
have delayed action on these sanctions and certainly are in no position politically
or otherwise to participate in military action. The European economic crisis is at
root a political crisis, so even if the Europeans could add significant military
which they generally lack, concerted action of any sort is unlikely.

Neither, for that matter, does the United States have the ability to do much
militarily. Invading Iran is out of the question. A nation of about 70 million
people, Iran's mountainous geography makes direct occupation impossible given
available American forces.

Air operations against Iran are an option, but they could not be confined to nuclear
facilities. Iran still doesn't have nuclear weapons, and while nuclear weapons would
compound the strategic problem, the problem would still exist without them. The
center of gravity of Iran's power is the relative strength of its conventional
forces in the region. Absent those, Iran would be less capable of wielding covert
power, as the psychological matrix would shift.

An air campaign against Iran's conventional forces would play to American military
strengths, but it has two problems. First, it would be an extended campaign, one
lasting months. Iran's capabilities are large and dispersed, and as seen in Desert
Storm and Kosovo against weaker opponents, such operations take a long time and are
not guaranteed to be effective. Second, the Iranians have counters. One, of course,
is the Strait of Hormuz. The second is the use of its special operations forces and
allies in and out of the region to conduct terror attacks. An extended air campaign
coupled with terrorist attacks could increase distrust of American power rather than
increase it among U.S. allies, to say nothing of the question of whether Washington
could sustain political support in a coalition or within the United States itself.

The Covert Option

The U.S. and Israel both have covert options as well. They have networks of
influence in the region and highly capable covert forces, which they have said
publicly that they would use to limit Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons without
resorting to overt force. We assume, though we lack evidence, that the assassination
of the Iranian chemist associated with the country's nuclear program last week was
either a U.S. or Israeli operation or some combination of the two. Not only did it
eliminate a scientist, it also bred insecurity and morale problems among those
working on the program. It also signaled the region that the United States and
Israel have options inside Iran.

The U.S. desire to support an Iranian anti-government movement generally has failed.
Tehran showed in 2009 that it could suppress demonstrations, and it was obvious that
the demonstrators did not have the widespread support needed to overcome such
repression. Though the United States has sought to support internal dissidents in
Iran since 1979, it has not succeeded in producing a meaningful threat to the
clerical regime. Therefore, covert operations are being aimed directly against the
nuclear program with the hope that successes there might ripple through other more
immediately significant sectors.

As we have long argued, the Iranians already have a "nuclear option," namely, the
prospect of blockading the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 35 percent of
seaborne crude and 20 percent of the world's traded oil passes daily. Doing so would
hurt them, too, of course. But failing to deter an air or covert campaign, they
might choose to close off the strait. Temporarily disrupting the flow of oil, even
intermittently, could rapidly create a global economic crisis given the fragility of
the world economy.

The United States does not want to see that. Washington will be extremely cautious
in its actions unless it can act with a high degree of assurance that it can prevent
such a disruption, something difficult to guarantee. It also will restrain Israel,
which might have the ability to strike at a few nuclear facilities but lacks the
force to completely eliminate the program much less target Iran's conventional
capability and manage the consequences of that strike in the Strait of Hormuz. Only
the United States could do all that, and given the possible consequences, it will be
loathe to attempt it.

The United States continues, therefore, with sanctions and covert actions while Iran
continues building its covert power in Iraq and in the region. Each will try to
convince the region that its power will be supreme in a year. The region is
skeptical of both, but will have to live with one of the two, or with an ongoing
test of wills -- an unnerving prospect. Each side is seeking to magnify its power
for psychological effect without crossing a red line that prompts the other to take
extreme measures. Iran signals its willingness to attempt to close Hormuz and its
development of nuclear weapons, but doesn't cross the line to actually closing the
strait or detonating a nuclear device. The United States pressures Iran and moves
forces around, but doesn't cross the red line of commencing military actions. Thus,
each avoids triggering unacceptable actions by the other.

The problem for the United States is that the status quo ultimately works against
it. If al Assad survives and if the situation in Iraq proceeds as it has been
proceeding, then Iran is creating a reality that will define the region. The United
States does not have a broad and effective coalition, and certainly not one that
would rally in the event of war. It has only Israel, and Israel is as uneasy with
direct military action as the United States is. It does not want to see a failed
attack and it does not want to see more instability in the Arab world. For all its
rhetoric, Israel has a weak hand to play. The only virtue of the American hand is
that it is stronger -- but only relatively speaking.

For the United States, preventing the expansion of an Iranian sphere of influence is
a primary concern. Iraq is going to be a difficult arena to stop Iran's expansion.
Syria therefore is key at present. Al Assad appears weak, and his replacement by a
Sunni government would limit -- but not destroy -- any Iranian sphere of influence.
It would be a reversal for Iran, and the United States badly needs to apply one. But
the problem is that the United States cannot be seen as the direct agent of regime
change in Syria, and al Assad is not as weak as has been claimed. Even so, Syria is
where the United States can work to block Iran without crossing Iran's red lines.

The normal outcome of a situation like this one, in which neither Iran nor the
United States can afford to cross the other's red lines since the consequences would
be too great for each, would be some sort of negotiation toward a longer-term
accommodation. Ideology aside -- and the United States negotiating with the "Axis of
Evil" or Iran with the "Great Satan" would be tough sells to their respective
domestic audiences -- the problem with this is that it is difficult to see what each
has to offer the other. What Iran wants -- a dominant position in the region and a
redefinition of how oil revenues are allocated and distributed -- would make the
United States dependent on Iran. What the United States wants -- an Iran that does
not build a sphere of influence, but instead remains within its borders -- would
cost Iran a historic opportunity to assert its longstanding claims.

We find ourselves in a situation in which neither side wants to force the other into
extreme steps and neither side is in a position to enter into broader
accommodations. And that's what makes the situation dangerous. When fundamental
issues are at stake, each side is in a position to profoundly harm the other if
pressed, and neither side is in a position to negotiate a broad settlement, a long
game of chess ensues. And in that game of chess, the possibilities of
miscalculation, of a bluff that the other side mistakes for an action, are very

Europe and China are redefining the way the world works. But kingdoms run on oil, as
someone once said, and a lot of oil comes through Hormuz. Iran may or may not be
able to close the strait, and that reshapes Europe and China. The New Year thus
begins where we expected: at the Strait of Hormuz.
23045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson 1786 on: January 17, 2012, 08:41:30 AM
"If our country, when pressed with wrongs at the point of the bayonet, had been
governed by its heads instead of its hearts, where should we have been now? Hanging
on a gallows as high as Haman's." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Maria Cosway, 1786
23046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Defend copyright/intellectual property! on: January 17, 2012, 08:30:17 AM
23047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt vs. Juan Williams on: January 17, 2012, 02:10:30 AM
23048  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Jihadism 2012 predictions on: January 17, 2012, 01:41:08 AM

View today's fresh analysis on our site:

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For the past six years, Stratfor has published an annual forecast on al Qaeda and the jihadist movement. Since our first forecast in January 2006, we have focused heavily on examining and documenting the change of jihadism from a phenomenon involving primarily the core al Qaeda group to one based primarily on the broader, decentralized jihadist movement -- and the lesser threat the latter poses.

The central theme of last year's forecast was that the al Qaeda core would continue to be marginalized on the physical battlefield and would struggle to remain relevant on the ideological battlefield. While we did not forecast the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden, his death certainly furthered the downward trend we predicted for the al Qaeda core organization. Due to the al Qaeda core's struggles, we forecast that regional jihadist franchise groups would continue to be at the vanguard of the physical battle and would eclipse the al Qaeda core in the ideological realm. We also noted that grassroots operatives would remain a persistent, albeit low-level, threat for 2011.

The past year saw hundreds of attacks and thwarted plots planned by jihadist actors in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. But in terms of transnational plots and attacks, activity was down considerably compared to 2010. As we forecast, almost all of these plots involved grassroots operatives or militants from regional jihadist groups rather than militants dispatched by the al Qaeda core leadership. For 2012, we anticipate that these trends will continue and, given bin Laden's death, the core al Qaeda group will not only continue to degrade but struggle to survive. Like the past two years, jihadism in 2012 will be defined by the activities of the franchise groups and the persistent grassroots threat.


Contemporary vernacular imbues "al Qaeda" with a number of definitions, and the al Qaeda label is applied, often incorrectly, to several distinct actors. Therefore, we need to define what we refer to as jihadism, al Qaeda and the various agents in the jihadist movement to understand jihadism as a phenomenon.


In Arabic, "jihad" means to "struggle" or "strive for" something. The word commonly refers to an armed struggle, and one engaged in such a struggle is called a "mujahid" (mujahideen in the plural). Mainstream Muslims do not consider "jihadist" an accurate term for those who claim to fight on their behalf. In fact, those called jihadists in the Western context are considered deviants by mainstream Muslims. Therefore, the jihadist label reflects this perception of deviancy. We therefore use the term jihadist to refer to militant Islamists who profess the violent overthrow of existing regimes in favor of global or regional Islamic polities. We use the term "jihadism" to refer to the ideology propagated by jihadists.

Al Qaeda, al Qaeda Prime or al Qaeda Core

Stratfor views what most people refer to as "al Qaeda" as a decentralized global jihadist network rather than a monolithic entity. This network consists of three distinct and quite different elements. The first is the vanguard al Qaeda organization, which we frequently refer to as al Qaeda prime or the al Qaeda core. The al Qaeda core is the small organization founded by bin Laden and currently led by Ayman al-Zawahiri and a small circle of trusted associates.

Although al Qaeda trained thousands of militants in its camps in Afghanistan, most of those trained were either grassroots operatives or members of other militant groups who never became members of the core group. Indeed, most of the trainees received only basic guerrilla warfare instruction, and only a select few were designated to receive training in terrorist tradecraft skills, such as bombmaking. Of the few who received this advanced training, fewer still were selected to join the al Qaeda core organization.

The al Qaeda core was designed to be a small and elite organization stationed at the forefront of the physical battlefield. Since the 9/11 attacks, the United States and its allies have applied intense pressure on this core organization. This pressure has resulted in the death or capture of many al Qaeda cadres and has ensured that the group remain small due to operational security concerns. The remnants of this insular group are lying low in Pakistan near the Afghan border, and this isolation has significantly degraded the group's ability to conduct attacks. Accordingly, the al Qaeda core has been relegated to producing propaganda and providing guidance and inspiration to other jihadist elements. With the death of bin Laden, the burden of the propaganda efforts will fall to al-Zawahiri, Abu Yahya al-Libi and, to a lesser extent, native English speaker Adam Gadahn. Despite the disproportionate amount of media attention it receives, the al Qaeda core constitutes only a very small portion of the larger jihadist movement and has not conducted a successful terrorist attack for years.

Franchise Groups

The second element of jihadism associated with al Qaeda is a worldwide network of local or regional terrorist or insurgent groups. These groups have been influenced by the al Qaeda core's philosophy and guidance and have adopted a similar jihadist ideology. In many cases, members of these groups received training in al Qaeda camps in the 1980s and 1990s. Some of these groups have publicly claimed allegiance to bin Laden and the al Qaeda core, becoming what we refer to as franchise groups. These include such organizations as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Notably, even though these groups adopt the al Qaeda label, they are locally owned and operated. As such, some group leaders, like Nasir al-Wahayshi of AQAP, maintain relations and are philosophically aligned with the al Qaeda core. Others, like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of the al Qaeda franchise in Iraq, can be at odds with the al Qaeda core's leadership and philosophy.

Other regional groups may adopt some or all of al Qaeda's jihadist ideology and cooperate to some degree with the core group. But for a variety of reasons, they maintain even more independence than the franchise groups. They are more akin to allies than true members of the al Qaeda movement.

Grassroots Jihadists

The third and broadest element of the global jihadist network encompasses what we refer to as grassroots jihadists. These are individuals who are inspired by the al Qaeda core -- or, increasingly, by the franchise groups -- but who may have little or no actual connection to these groups. Some grassroots operatives, such as Najibullah Zazi, who pleaded guilty to charges related to a New York City Subway bomb plot in 2009, travel to places like Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen, where they receive training from jihadist franchise groups. Other grassroots jihadists, like accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, may communicate but have no physical interaction with members of a franchise group. Some grassroots militants have no direct contact with other jihadist elements. Lastly, some would-be grassroots militants seek out contact with other jihadist elements but accidentally make contact with government informants. In recent years, such cases have been occurring more frequently, resulting in sting operations and arrests.

Moving down the hierarchy from the al Qaeda core to the grassroots operatives, there is a decline in operational capability and expertise in what we refer to as terrorist tradecraft -- the skills required to effectively plan and execute a terrorist attack. The operatives belonging to the al Qaeda core generally are better trained than their regional affiliates, and both of these elements tend to be far better trained than grassroots operatives, who must travel abroad to obtain training.

While these various elements of the jihadist network are distinct, the Internet brings them together, especially at the grassroots level. Videos, websites and online magazines indoctrinate aspiring militants in the jihadist ideology and provide a forum for like-minded individuals and groups.

2011 Forecast in Review

As noted above, the heart of our jihadist forecast for 2011 was the idea that the efforts of the U.S. government and its allies would continue to marginalize the al Qaeda core on the physical battlefield, which would in turn cause the organization to continue to struggle for relevance on the ideological battlefield. We concluded that the regional jihadist franchise groups would remain at the forefront of the physical battlefield and assume a more prominent position in the ideological battlefield. While the franchise groups have indeed subsumed the al Qaeda core, many groups, such as al Shabaab and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are weaker than they were a year ago.

We did not see a successful attack attributed to the al Qaeda core in 2011, though there is evidence to suggest the group had never stopped planning. For example, in April German authorities arrested a Moroccan-born man, Abdeladim el-K (German privacy law prevents suspects from being fully identified), who they claim was sent to Germany by al Qaeda operational leader Atiyah Abd al-Rahman to conduct an attack. German police on Dec. 15 also arrested a man who reportedly was inspired by el-K and who was allegedly attempting to continue el-K's attack plans.

2011 differed from previous years in that there were no transnational attacks from franchise or affiliate groups. AQAP conducted an attack in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in August 2009, attempted an attack on a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25, 2009, and attempted to bomb cargo planes in October 2010, but was quiet last year, as were the TTP and AQIM. The Caucasus Emirate, a jihadist group loosely affiliated with al Qaeda, was active in the Caucasus and conducted some attacks in Moscow, but those attacks were not categorically transnational. Likewise, al Shabaab carried out some attacks in northern Kenya following the Kenyan invasion of southern Somalia, but we consider those attacks more regional than transnational despite their occurring across a national border.

In our 2011 forecast, we also noted our belief that, due to the accessibility of U.S. and European societies and the ease of conducting attacks against them, we would see more grassroots plots, if not successful attacks, there than attacks by the other jihadist elements. This forecast was accurate. Of the 12 plots against the West in 2011 that we classify as jihadist (down from 20 in 2010), one plot was connected to the al Qaeda core, 11 to grassroots elements (down from 15 in 2010) and none to franchise groups (down from 4 in 2010). The one plot connected to the al Qaeda core involved an operational planner who linked up with grassroots militants in Germany.

We also forecast that, because of the nature of the jihadist threat, soft targets would continue to be attacked in 2011 and that additional plots targeting aircraft would take place. We saw the continued focus on soft targets, but aside from the March 2 attack against U.S. Air Force personnel outside the Frankfurt airport and the Caucasus Emirate's suicide bombing attack at the arrival terminal of Moscow's Domodedovo airport in January, we did not see plots directed at aircraft. Instead, we saw aviation-related plots often focused on soft targets outside airport security.

In addition, we predicted an increase in plots and attacks involving firearms and other weapons rather than improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The shooting in Frankfurt, the thwarted knife attack against cartoonist Lars Vilks in Goteborg, Sweden, and several thwarted plots in the United States, including those in Seattle, Alabama, New York and Killeen, Texas, all evidence our prediction.

Our regional forecasts for 2011 were accurate, especially for the United States, Europe, North Africa and Indonesia. Our biggest miss was underestimating how involved AQAP would become in Yemen's internal conflict as different groups challenged President Ali Abullah Saleh's rule and how this involvement would distract the group from conducting transnational attacks.

Forecast for 2012

We anticipate that the al Qaeda core will continue to struggle in the physical and ideological arenas. The group still has prolific spokesmen in al-Zawahiri, al-Libi and Gadahn, but in 2011 the group issued remarkably few messages. The remaining leaders appear to be lying low following the deaths of bin Laden, al-Rahman and others.

Even though AQAP lost important English-speaking ideological figures when Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed (Khan was the editor of AQAP's English-language Inspire magazine) the group's main operational and ideological leadership remain at large. Among this leadership are the group's emir, Nasir al-Wahayshi, operational commander Qasim al-Raymi, and innovative bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri.

The remaining ideological leaders include the group's mufti, or religious leader, Saudi-born Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish. With a degree in Islamic law, fighting experience with bin Laden at Tora Bora and time served in Guantanamo Bay, al-Rubaish has impeccable jihadist credentials. The influential head of AQAP's Shariah Council, a Yemeni imam named Adel bin Abdullah al-Abab, is among AQAP's ideologues. While AQAP is unlikely to ever recreate what Samir Khan accomplished with Inspire magazine, the group's al-Malaheim Media is still active, and its Arabic-language offerings continue. Those messages frequently are translated into English on such websites as the Ansar Al-Mujahideen English forum.

Moreover, the English-language statements of al-Awlaki and the editions of Inspire magazine remain on the Internet with a readership that numbers in the thousands. Indeed, an article from the first edition of Inspire, "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," was linked to thwarted grassroots plots in Texas and New York in 2011. We believe that the threat from grassroots jihadists will persist for the foreseeable future.

We disagree with those who claim that the unrest in the Arab world will end jihadism. The overthrow of the Gadhafi regime in Libya and the democratic movements in Tunisia and Egypt will provide alternative outlets to jihadism for dissent, and other Islamist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, will undercut jihadism ideologically. But the small core of hard-line jihadists will remain undeterred; this group will continue to propagate its ideology and recruit new adherents.

Recruitment will be more difficult in the current environment, and while this may hasten the eventual decline of jihadism, it will not kill the ideology this year. In addition to persisting in such lawless places as Yemen, Somalia and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, jihadism will maintain its niche in the West, and grassroots jihadists will continue to be radicalized and mobilized in the United States, Europe, Australia and elsewhere.

Regional Forecasts

The United States and Europe

The al Qaeda core and franchise groups will continue to struggle attacking the United States and Europe directly and will continue to reach out to grassroots operatives who have the ability to travel to the West. Otherwise, they will attempt to recruit aspiring jihadists living in the West. This means we will likely see more thwarted or botched plots involving poorly trained operatives and simple attacks like the shooting in Frankfurt. While such attacks can and do kill people, they are not spectacular events as 9/11 and the 2008 Mumbai attacks were. This trend also means that travel to places like Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or contact with jihadist planners there, will continue to be an operational weakness that Western intelligence agencies can exploit. Such was the case in Birmingham, England, where 12 suspected plotters were arrested in September and November. Individuals seeking to acquire weapons and explosives will also remain vulnerable to detection.

While Nasir al-Wahayshi's appeal for aspiring jihadists to avoid contacting franchise groups and traveling overseas in search of training is sound, it has been difficult for jihadists to follow. This is evidenced by the fact that we have seen very few plots or attacks in which the planners were true lone wolves who had absolutely no contact with outside jihadists -- or with government agents they believed to be jihadists. While the leaderless resistance model can be difficult for law enforcement to guard against, its downside for jihadists is that it takes a unique type of individual to be a true and effective lone wolf.

Since we believe most plots in the United States and Europe in 2012 will involve grassroots jihadists, we also believe that soft targets -- public gatherings and mass transportation hubs, for example -- will continue to be the most popular target set. In places like Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia, we believe hotels and housing compounds will be more attractive targets than U.S. embassies or consulates, which are much more difficult to successfully attack. With a thwarted plot against a cartoonist involved in the Mohammed cartoon controversy taking place as recently as September, we do not see any end to that threat.

We predict that al-Wahayshi's advice will go unheeded and that grassroots jihadists in the United States will continue to plan and conduct simple attacks using firearms and other weapons. We do not foresee difficult and elaborate attacks employing explosives.


The government of Pakistan has been busily trying to divide the TTP and channel the group's efforts toward other targets in the region, such as foreign forces in Afghanistan and India. Islamabad has had some success in that regard, but we anticipate that some factions of the TTP will continue to target the Pakistani state. In any case, we expect to see fewer and smaller attacks in Pakistan in 2012 than in 2011.


We will need to keep a close eye on the leadership of the Afghan Taliban and their dialogue with the Karzai government. The current conflict between the Taliban and Afghan and NATO forces will lessen somewhat if the Taliban become more involved in the political process, but we do not anticipate the militant group renouncing violence altogether. With some Pakistani jihadist groups vowing to target foreign forces in Afghanistan, acts of terrorism may increase against foreigners in Kabul and Kandahar. Given the intensity of foreign counterterrorism operations and the ongoing insurgency, jihadist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan will have little opportunity to set their sights on targets beyond the immediate region.


India continues to face the threat of Kashmir-based militant groups as well as transnational jihadist groups supported by state and non-state elements within Pakistan. These groups include the Haqqani network and residual elements of Lashkar-e-Taiba, all of which will continue to plan attacks inside India and against Indian interests in nearby countries, such as Afghanistan. India also faces a persistent but smaller threat from domestic jihadist groups like Indian Mujahideen.

Central Asia

For the first time in modern history, Kazakhstan in 2011 was the site of multiple suspected jihadist attacks, including three suicide attacks. Jund al-Khalifa, a Kazakh al Qaeda franchise group, emerged last summer, and we anticipate that it will continue its activities in 2012. Other groups, such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, are active in the region, but because these groups are weak and disorganized and operate largely from the area along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, they do not pose a major threat to the region's governments.


The Russians have hit the Caucasus Emirate very hard, arresting or killing several key leaders. The group was already suffering from internal divisions at the beginning of 2011; consequently, it did not pose a strategic threat to Russia last year. However, the jihadist group will continue to attack Russian and local government security forces in the Caucasus and will continue its attempts to take the fight to the heart of Moscow -- especially since Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov and dissenting Chechen insurgent leaders resolved their differences last summer. Low-level attacks against soft targets can be expected in the coming year. With the 2014 Winter Olympics being held in Sochi, we anticipate the Russians will focus a great deal of effort on weakening the jihadist groups in the region.


As noted above, AQAP has lost some important English-speaking ideologues, yet the group maintains much of its militant capability. Yemen, where AQAP is based, increasingly is seen as a destination to which foreign jihadists travel to fight and receive training. With the government in Sanaa struggling to retain power in 2011, AQAP was able to take advantage of the instability of the Saleh regime, which was cracking down on protests and fighting throughout the country, and seized portions of southern Yemen. The group also has become very adept at using ambushes, roadside IEDs and sticky bombs to assassinate government officials and military officers. AQAP's experience could later be applied elsewhere if the group is able to again expand its focus beyond Yemeni government targets.

As the crisis in Yemen is resolved and the government turns its attention to regaining control of the country, we anticipate severe clashes between AQAP and government forces. If AQAP declines to fight and withdraws to its remote hideaways, the group may resume operations against foreigners in Sanaa and Aden and conduct transnational attacks. Given AQAP's tactical advances, such attacks might be more deadly than similar attacks in the past.


While the Islamic State of Iraq was greatly damaged by Sunni cooperation with the Americans, the U.S. military withdrawal will change that dynamic. The power struggle between Sunnis and Shia could allow the Islamic State of Iraq to regenerate because the Sunni sheikhs not only tolerate the organization, but support it as a tool against the Shia and their powerful Iranian supporters. Given the tense political situation and the still-unresolved ethno-sectarian balance of power, there will be plenty of opportunity for terrorist attacks.

North Africa

In northern Algeria, AQIM has continued to resist the al Qaeda core's targeting philosophy, instead concentrating on attacking government and security targets. In a sense, AQIM essentially functions as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat but with a different name. The Algerian government has hit AQIM very hard in its traditional mountain strongholds east of Algiers, and the ideological rift over whether to follow al Qaeda's dictates also has hurt the group. Increased abductions of Westerners and clashes with security forces in the Sahara-Sahel are not convincing evidence of AQIM's expanding reach -- nor are incompetent attacks to the south of Algeria. Much of this expanded activity in the south is the result of rivalries between sub-commanders and attempts at raising money via kidnapping and banditry for survival. This is a sign of weakness and lack of cohesion, not strength.

A cell of Moroccan militants allegedly linked to AQIM conducted a successful bombing attack in April against a cafe in Marrakech, Morocco, that killed 17 people, but it was a relatively unsophisticated attack against a soft target. Moroccan authorities claim to have arrested those responsible for the attack.

AQIM elements in the mountains east of Algiers remain weak and ineffective. Even the IEDs the group has employed have been somewhat weak, indicating that the group is running out of explosives. Some of the factions in the Sahel allegedly have received weapons from Libya, but aside from some landmines we have not seen signs of advanced weaponry, such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles or anti-tank guided missiles.

On the whole, AQIM is a shadow of what it was five years ago. It will continue to kidnap victims in the Sahel -- or acquire kidnapped foreigners from ethnic Tuareg rebels in Mali and Niger -- and conduct the occasional small attack, but it still is not a unified militant organization that poses a regional, much less transnational, threat.


Former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) fought against the Gadhafi regime, and the group's leader, Abdelhakim Belhadj, is now the commander of the Tripoli Military Council. (Belhadj and the LIFG renounced jihadism in March as part of a deradicalization program run by Seif al-Islam Gadhafi.) With the fall of the regime in Libya and the current struggle for power among the various militias -- some of these militias, like the Tripoli Military Council, are Islamist -- jihadists have been presented an opportunity. It will be important to monitor Libya to see if the jihadist elements are able to make any gains there.


The overthrow of Hosni Mubarak has created an opening for Egyptian citizens to participate in the political process. This will help dilute jihadist sentiment in the country. A faction of former militant group Gamaah al-Islamiyah is even taking part in the elections. However, while Mubarak was deposed, the military regime is still in place. The small core of hard-line jihadists is unlikely to embrace the change and will continue its struggle. Indeed, jihadist elements have attacked a number of oil pipelines in the months since Mubarak fell. We anticipate that attacks against pipelines and security forces will continue, and 2012 could also see a return of attacks against tourists in the Sinai if the authorities are unable to weaken the jihadists there.

If the military regime is unwilling to relinquish power to the newly elected parliament, the resultant conflict and disillusionment with the democratic process could convince people to turn to jihadism as a viable political alternative.


Divisions between Somali jihadists weakened al Shabaab in 2011, with rifts emerging between factions with nationalist goals and those aligned with al Qaeda with transnationalist goals. Al Shabaab has lost much of its territory in Mogadishu, and though it still has assets in the capital city and can conduct attacks and occasional raids there, it no longer controls large sections of the city. The Kenyan invasion of southern Somalia, the increased presence of African Union Mission in Somalia peacekeepers in Mogadishu and continuing pressure from U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle operations has forced al Shabaab to retrench. Aside from some low-level attacks in northern Kenya, the group cannot plan or conduct attacks outside Somalia. We do not see al Shabaab being defeated in 2012, but we believe that they will be unable to conduct a spectacular attack outside their immediate region.


Boko Haram made huge operational leaps in 2011; the group now employs vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) instead of small IEDs and small arms and machetes. This indicates that at least some element of the group has received outside training, likely from AQIM or al Shabaab (there have been reports of both). Boko Haram also became a transnational threat when it conducted a VBIED attack against a United Nations compound in Abuja that killed at least 21 people. Boko Haram has made threats to conduct attacks in the Niger Delta, but so far it has been unable to strike outside northern Nigeria or the capital. Despite its operational advancement, Boko Haram is still far from being a true transnational threat. The group may attempt to increase its operational range inside Nigeria, but we expect it to remain predominantly focused on northern Nigeria. We also believe that Boko Haram would strike other Nigerian cities, such as Lagos, before embarking on transnational attacks.


The Indonesian government has continued to hit the remnants of Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad and other jihadist elements hard, and it is unlikely that Indonesian jihadists will be able to regroup and conduct large-scale terrorist attacks in 2012. However, they will likely continue low-level attacks against soft targets, such as Christian churches in places like Poso, to incite sectarian violence. Non-jihadist Islamist groups -- Front Pembela Islam, for example -- may also incite riots and contribute members to other jihadist groups.


While the al Qaeda core has been marginalized and heavily damaged, the ideology of jihadism continues to survive and win new converts, albeit at progressively lower numbers. As long as this ideology is able to spread, the war its adherents are waging will continue. While jihadists do not pose a strategic geopolitical threat on a global, regional or national scale, they nonetheless are capable of killing scores of people. For that reason alone, the jihadist threat remains in 2012.
23049  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: January 17, 2012, 01:13:33 AM
That was a lively debate tonight!

23050  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 16, 2012, 09:56:40 PM
I can't see it clearly enough.  Is his race listed as "African American"?
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