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23051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chinese continue to move as we continue to do nothing on: October 31, 2011, 05:39:29 PM
Our dominance in outer space WAS a vital piece of our military superiority.  Baraq is throwing it away.  This is one of his most serious errors.
23052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 31, 2011, 05:24:16 PM
Note that it is Congressional action which legally requires this.
23053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Controversial gunship owner interview on: October 31, 2011, 05:23:19 PM
PC has already expressed himself very well on this, but FWIW here is Glenn Beck with the instructor in question:
23054  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: October 31, 2011, 02:20:40 PM
Interesting.  Please post on the Intel thread as well.
23055  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 31, 2011, 02:18:04 PM
So, what do you make of the Rolling Stone piece I posted?
23056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: CA's Green Tax on: October 31, 2011, 02:15:58 PM
second post of the day:

It may be time for California to formally apply for membership in the European Union. Its taxing, borrowing and regulatory policies are already more in line with the southern tier of Euroland than with other U.S. states, and the Golden State has taken another lurch in the Euro-direction by becoming the first jurisdiction in the nation to adopt a full-scale cap-and-trade tax to combat global warming. The new taxes and regulations will require a nearly 30% reduction in carbon emissions from power plants, manufacturers, cars and trucks by 2020.

This green tax was signed into law in 2006 by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger when the state's economy was flying high. California was going to be the green role model for other states. Now no one believes that fantasy. Ten states in the Northeast entered a regional cap and trade compact to limit greenhouse gases in 2008, but that market is now dying if not dormant and states (recently New Jersey) are dropping out.

In 2006 it also seemed plausible that the federal government would establish national carbon caps. But in 2010 the Democratic Senate killed cap and trade, and there is no chance anytime soon this tax will be implemented in Washington.

So California will go it alone on cap and trade, and the economic fallout won't be pretty. Nearly every independent analysis agrees that water, electricity, construction and gas prices inside the state will rise. The only debate is about how much.

A 2009 study by the California Small Business Roundtable estimated costs of $3,857 per household by the end of the decade. Gasoline prices, already near the highest in the nation, could rise by another 4% to 6%. An analysis by the state's own Legislative Analyst's Office found that the higher costs of doing business would mean "leakage of jobs," with the California economy "likely adversely affected in the near term by implementing climate change policies that are not adopted elsewhere."

Now even unions are catching on to the damage. The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) gave final approval to the new scheme two weeks ago after listening to "scathing comments from union workers fearful of losing their jobs." Hard-hat union members from the steel, concrete and oil and gas industries were among the opponents. Charles McIntyre, president of an association of the glass workers union and companies, told the CARB hearing that "these manufacturers are spending millions of dollars every year to meet different requirements and different standards. Well, this is starting to cost us a lot of jobs."

The Western States Petroleum Association calculates the new law could cost its members up to $540 million in higher costs in the first two years alone. When a spokesman from Conoco Phillips told the CARB hearing about its higher costs, Mary Nichols, the CARB chairman, responded that a company with $14 billion in profits shouldn't complain but rather "should do something about the problem of global warming." Sounds like a candidate to be President Obama's next jobs czar.

Ms. Nichols also said that "our society is going to have to use less gasoline"—a remark that reveals the elites-know-best impulse that animates much of the anticarbon energy movement.

The tragedy is that this economic harm is being inflicted for nothing but environmental symbolism. A single state's policies can't possibly alter the planet's temperature given the huge carbon footprint elsewhere, as even the CARB has acknowledged.

Notwithstanding their bouts of carbon imperialism (see below), even some Europeans are having cap-and-trade second thoughts. "There is a trade-off between climate-change policies and competitiveness," concludes a recent EU commission report. "Europe cannot act alone in an effort to achieve global decarbonization."

But evidently high-minded California—with 2.1 million people already out of work and with the nation's second highest jobless rate at 11.9%—will. The job cost will be paid not in the tony salons of Hollywood but in the working class neighborhoods of Torrance and Fresno.

23057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: US cuts UNESCO funding! on: October 31, 2011, 02:08:28 PM

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is cutting off funding for the United Nations cultural agency because it approved a Palestinian bid for full membership, a move that could cost the agency a fifth of its budget.

The U.S. and other opponents of the vote had warned that granting the Palestinian request for membership at Unesco could harm renewed Mideast peace efforts.  State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday's vote triggered a long-standing congressional restriction on funding to U.N. bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached.  Ms. Nuland said Unesco's decision was "regrettable, premature and undermines our shared goal to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace" between Israelis and Palestinians.  She said the U.S. would refrain from making a $60 million payment it planned to make in November, but the U.S. would maintain membership in the body.

The Palestinians want full membership in the U.N., but Israel opposes the bid. The U.S. says it would veto a vote in the Security Council  Palestine became a full member of the United Nations's cultural agency on Monday amid huge cheers after delegates approved the membership in a vote of 107-14 with 52 abstentions. Eighty-one votes were needed for approval in a hall with 173 Unesco member delegations present.

"Long Live Palestine!" shouted one delegate, in French, at the unusually tense and dramatic meeting of Unesco's General Conference.

Lawmakers in the U.S., which provides about 22% of funding for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, had threatened to halt some of the funding if Palestinian membership was approved.

The U.N. agency protects historic heritage sites and works to improve world literacy and cultural understanding, but it also has come under criticism in the past as a forum for anti-Israel sentiment. The U.S. pulled out of Unesco under President Ronald Reagan but rejoined under President George W. Bush.

Monday's vote is a symbolic breakthrough but it alone won't make Palestine into a state. The issue of borders of an eventual Palestinian state, security troubles and other disputes that have thwarted Middle East peace for decades remain unresolved.

Palestinian officials are seeking full membership in the U.N., but that effort is still under examination and the U.S. has said it will veto it unless there is a peace deal with Israel. Given that, the Palestinians separately sought membership at Paris-based Unesco and other U.N. bodies.  Monday's vote is definitive. The membership formally takes effect when Palestine signs Unesco's founding charter.  The U.S. ambassador to Unesco, David Killion, said after Monday's vote that it would "complicate" U.S. efforts to support the agency. The U.S. voted against the measure.

Israel's ambassador to Unesco, Nimrod Barkan, called the vote a tragedy.

"Unesco deals in science, not science fiction.  They forced on Unesco a political subject out of its competence.  They've forced a drastic cut in contributions to the organization," he said.

Existing U.S. law can bar Washington from funding any U.N. body that accepts members that don't have the "internationally recognized attributes of statehood." That requirement is generally interpreted to mean U.N. membership.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week called Unesco's deliberation "inexplicable," saying discussion of Palestinian membership in international organizations couldn't replace negotiations with Israel as a fast-track toward Palestinian independence.

Ghasan Khatib, spokesman for the Palestinian government in the West Bank urged the U.S. to keep Unesco funding.

He called it "a vote of confidence from the international community."

"We look at this vote as especially important because part of our battle with the Israeli occupation is about the occupation attempts to erase the Palestinian history or Judaizing it. The Unesco vote will help us to maintain the Palestinian traditional heritage, " he said
23058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson to Adams 1821: on: October 31, 2011, 01:47:25 PM

"[T]he flames kindled on the 4 of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, 1821
23059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: What is going right? on: October 31, 2011, 01:17:28 PM

Monday Morning Outlook
What's Going Right? To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 10/31/2011
Everyone knows housing is still weak. And, everyone knows jobs are growing, but not fast enough to seriously lower the unemployment rate, which stands at 9.1%.
Everyone also knows real GDP has expanded for nine consecutive quarters, at an average annual rate of 2.5%. No one is satisfied with this; but it is a recovery, not a recession.
So, how can real GDP grow when housing and employment are so weak? Something must be going right…somewhere.
Well, it turns out that the strongest part of the economy has been business investment.   Equipment and software investment (Cap-Ex) has grown five times faster than GDP – 12.9% at an annual rate over the past nine quarters.
The strongest category has been transportation and related equipment (trains, planes, trucks, etc.), up 43.3% at an annual rate over nine quarters. Computers and peripheral equipment (including servers, printers, routers, etc.) are also up 26.2% at an annual rate in the past 2 ¼ years. All of this data is adjusted for inflation, and what it shows is, contrary to popular belief, businesses are spending and investing. Moreover, businesses investment is a bigger share of the economy than housing.
Consumer spending is up, too, despite weak confidence data. After adjustment for inflation, consumer spending is up 2.2% at an annual rate over the past nine quarters. In a shocker, real furniture and household durable equipment spending (refrigerators, washing machines, etc.) increased by 5.0% in the past year and now stands just 0.3% below its all-time high from late 2007. Despite weak housing, and worries about credit, household durable spending has rebounded to pre-crisis levels.
Last we looked, the only help government is giving businesses is a more rapid depreciation schedule – which is a tax incentive for investment. Yet, trillions are being spent trying to stimulate housing and employment. In other words, what government is trying to boost by spending is going wrong, but where it uses tax cuts things are looking up and going right. If government could find the courage to have faith in markets and not itself, more things would be going right.
That said…it seems clear that the economy is finding enough strength in business investment and consumption to offset the pain caused by housing and employment. We expect the scales to remain tipped toward growth in the quarters ahead and look for 3% real GDP growth in 2012.
This growth could accelerate if government spending and regulation were reduced in a significant way. Housing already looks to have found a bottom. Imagine what happens when it finally turns up? Buck up, not everything is going wrong. In fact, there are many things going right in the US economy.
23060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 31, 2011, 12:21:54 PM
I would begin by emphasizing how much of what they say agrees with us!!!  The first step of communication is to establish what is held in common.  Then let them see how serious, indeed how radical to the ruling fascist structures (both corporate and liberal) much of what we propose is.   Share with them the understanding of how the Constitution is a bulwark against the ruling fascist structures-- and put the cold hard evidence of liberal fascism's collusion with, indeed creation of what that which they protest-- and how they are disserved by association with the Left in its various manifestations.
23061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Myths of the Cuban Missile Crisis on: October 31, 2011, 11:56:11 AM
23062  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: SEMINARIO DBMA CON GURO CRAFTY EN MÉXCO D.F. 12-13 NOV 11 on: October 31, 2011, 11:44:28 AM
La Aventura continua!
23063  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Activists vs. Cartels on: October 31, 2011, 11:43:45 AM
The online activist collective Anonymous released a video Oct. 6 in which a masked spokesman denounces Mexico’s criminal cartels, demands that a member of Anonymous kidnapped by Los Zetas be released and threatens to release information about individuals cooperating with Mexico’s cartels. If Anonymous carries out its threat, it will almost certainly lead to the deaths of individuals named as cartel associates, whether or not the information released is accurate. Furthermore, as Mexican cartels have targeted online journalists and bloggers in the past, hackers could well be targeted for reprisal attacks.

Anonymous, an online collective of activists including hackers, lashed out at Mexican cartels in a video released online Oct. 6. In the video, a masked individual claiming to speak on behalf of Anonymous denounces Mexico’s cartels and demands that Los Zetas release a member of Anonymous kidnapped during a street-level protest named Operation Paperstorm in Veracruz state. The spokesman also threatens to release revealing information about journalists, police, politicians and taxi drivers colluding with the cartels.

Simply disseminating information on cartel members will not significantly impede overall cartel operations, but if Anonymous carries out its threat, it will affect cartel associates and others the that cartels could target for retaliatory attacks.

Anonymous is not an organized, monolithic group; rather, it is a collection of activists whose organizers work under the name Anonymous. Hackers have conducted several online activities using the name Anonymous, as they have had to develop code for conducting cyberattacks. The collective of hackers takes on several different causes and carries out attacks involving participation by experienced hackers and unskilled members alike. Not everyone involved in Anonymous participates in every action, and some actions are more popular than others.

The Anonymous spokesman in the video does not specify how many individuals support the threat against the cartels or how the group acquired the information it threatens to release. It would not take a group of hackers to obtain the kind of information the spokesman claims Anonymous could release; much of this kind of information could be acquired via rumors circulating through Mexico. In fact, the Anonymous spokesman does not mention anything about using hacking activities to acquire confidential information about the cartels.

However, there are many examples of hackers acting under the name Anonymous acquiring personal and sensitive information about their targets. Recently, hackers shut down child pornography website Lolita City and reportedly posted more than 1,500 usernames and activities of the website’s users. On Oct. 21, Anonymous hackers stole sensitive information — including Social Security numbers — from a series of police-affiliated targets including the International Association of Chiefs of Police website and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association email portal and revealed more than 1,000 usernames and passwords of Boston police officers. Although cartels’ activities are focused on the streets of the cities they control, even cartels use the Internet for communication and some business transactions. Any cartel activities occurring online could be potential vulnerabilities if individuals involved in the new Anonymous threat can identify them; though the threat from Anonymous does not necessarily mean that hackers are now targeting cartels, given the history of activities carried out in Anonymous’ name, it is certainly possible.

If Anonymous carries out its threat, members would use online media outlets to publish revealing information about the cartels and their associates. Anonymous members frequently focus on these media, which allow them to post revealing information while concealing their own identities. Any information released to the public would not pose a direct threat in itself; it would be up to others to determine the information’s validity and whether to take action. For example, if Anonymous claims that a politician is colluding with criminal cartels, the politician could be threatened by whatever actions the Mexican government decides to take or by members of rival cartels.

Loss of life will be a certain consequence if Anonymous releases the identities of individuals cooperating with cartels. Whether voluntarily or not, cooperating with criminal cartels in Mexico comes with the danger of retribution from rival cartels. Taxi drivers, typically victims of extortion or otherwise forced to act as lookouts or scouts, are particularly vulnerable. In areas such as Acapulco, Guerrero state, reports of murdered taxi drivers occur weekly. The validity of the information Anonymous has threatened to reveal is uncertain, as it might not have been vetted. This could pose an indiscriminate danger to individuals mentioned in whatever Anonymous decides to release.

The online media frequently used to organize Anonymous-labeled activities are far removed from the violent world of Mexican criminal cartels. This distance — along with the likely physical distance of many Anonymous members from Mexico — could limit the activists’ understanding of cartel activities. Anonymous activists may act with confidence stemming from perceived anonymity when sitting in front of a computer, but this could blind them to any possible retribution.  Cartels have targeted bloggers and online journalists in previous attacks, and even hackers in Mexico are not beyond the cartels’ reach. Cartels reportedly have turned to the information technology community in the past, coercing computer science majors in Mexico into working for them. Any Anonymous activists inside Mexico who are targeting or perceived as targeting the Mexican cartels will be just as vulnerable as online journalists and bloggers as the cartels seek to make them examples of what happens when someone exposes or publicizes damaging information about cartel activity.

Anonymous activists can threaten to reveal information about cartels or launch cyberattacks. But even if the cartels cannot track down the individuals directing cyberattacks or releasing information, the cartels will continue to commit acts of violence meant to warn the online community about such activities.

23064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This could get pretty wild on: October 31, 2011, 11:42:05 AM

The online activist collective Anonymous released a video Oct. 6 in which a masked spokesman denounces Mexico’s criminal cartels, demands that a member of Anonymous kidnapped by Los Zetas be released and threatens to release information about individuals cooperating with Mexico’s cartels. If Anonymous carries out its threat, it will almost certainly lead to the deaths of individuals named as cartel associates, whether or not the information released is accurate. Furthermore, as Mexican cartels have targeted online journalists and bloggers in the past, hackers could well be targeted for reprisal attacks.

Anonymous, an online collective of activists including hackers, lashed out at Mexican cartels in a video released online Oct. 6. In the video, a masked individual claiming to speak on behalf of Anonymous denounces Mexico’s cartels and demands that Los Zetas release a member of Anonymous kidnapped during a street-level protest named Operation Paperstorm in Veracruz state. The spokesman also threatens to release revealing information about journalists, police, politicians and taxi drivers colluding with the cartels.

Simply disseminating information on cartel members will not significantly impede overall cartel operations, but if Anonymous carries out its threat, it will affect cartel associates and others the that cartels could target for retaliatory attacks.

Anonymous is not an organized, monolithic group; rather, it is a collection of activists whose organizers work under the name Anonymous. Hackers have conducted several online activities using the name Anonymous, as they have had to develop code for conducting cyberattacks. The collective of hackers takes on several different causes and carries out attacks involving participation by experienced hackers and unskilled members alike. Not everyone involved in Anonymous participates in every action, and some actions are more popular than others.

The Anonymous spokesman in the video does not specify how many individuals support the threat against the cartels or how the group acquired the information it threatens to release. It would not take a group of hackers to obtain the kind of information the spokesman claims Anonymous could release; much of this kind of information could be acquired via rumors circulating through Mexico. In fact, the Anonymous spokesman does not mention anything about using hacking activities to acquire confidential information about the cartels.

However, there are many examples of hackers acting under the name Anonymous acquiring personal and sensitive information about their targets. Recently, hackers shut down child pornography website Lolita City and reportedly posted more than 1,500 usernames and activities of the website’s users. On Oct. 21, Anonymous hackers stole sensitive information — including Social Security numbers — from a series of police-affiliated targets including the International Association of Chiefs of Police website and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association email portal and revealed more than 1,000 usernames and passwords of Boston police officers. Although cartels’ activities are focused on the streets of the cities they control, even cartels use the Internet for communication and some business transactions. Any cartel activities occurring online could be potential vulnerabilities if individuals involved in the new Anonymous threat can identify them; though the threat from Anonymous does not necessarily mean that hackers are now targeting cartels, given the history of activities carried out in Anonymous’ name, it is certainly possible.

If Anonymous carries out its threat, members would use online media outlets to publish revealing information about the cartels and their associates. Anonymous members frequently focus on these media, which allow them to post revealing information while concealing their own identities. Any information released to the public would not pose a direct threat in itself; it would be up to others to determine the information’s validity and whether to take action. For example, if Anonymous claims that a politician is colluding with criminal cartels, the politician could be threatened by whatever actions the Mexican government decides to take or by members of rival cartels.

Loss of life will be a certain consequence if Anonymous releases the identities of individuals cooperating with cartels. Whether voluntarily or not, cooperating with criminal cartels in Mexico comes with the danger of retribution from rival cartels. Taxi drivers, typically victims of extortion or otherwise forced to act as lookouts or scouts, are particularly vulnerable. In areas such as Acapulco, Guerrero state, reports of murdered taxi drivers occur weekly. The validity of the information Anonymous has threatened to reveal is uncertain, as it might not have been vetted. This could pose an indiscriminate danger to individuals mentioned in whatever Anonymous decides to release.

The online media frequently used to organize Anonymous-labeled activities are far removed from the violent world of Mexican criminal cartels. This distance — along with the likely physical distance of many Anonymous members from Mexico — could limit the activists’ understanding of cartel activities. Anonymous activists may act with confidence stemming from perceived anonymity when sitting in front of a computer, but this could blind them to any possible retribution.  Cartels have targeted bloggers and online journalists in previous attacks, and even hackers in Mexico are not beyond the cartels’ reach. Cartels reportedly have turned to the information technology community in the past, coercing computer science majors in Mexico into working for them. Any Anonymous activists inside Mexico who are targeting or perceived as targeting the Mexican cartels will be just as vulnerable as online journalists and bloggers as the cartels seek to make them examples of what happens when someone exposes or publicizes damaging information about cartel activity.

Anonymous activists can threaten to reveal information about cartels or launch cyberattacks. But even if the cartels cannot track down the individuals directing cyberattacks or releasing information, the cartels will continue to commit acts of violence meant to warn the online community about such activities.

23065  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Medicine shortages on: October 31, 2011, 11:32:05 AM

WASHINGTON — President Obama will issue an executive order on Monday that the administration hopes will help resolve a growing number of critical shortages of vital medicines used to treat life-threatening illnesses, among them several forms of cancer and bacterial infections.

U.S. Scrambling to Ease Shortage of Vital Medicine (August 20, 2011)
Times Topic: Drugs (Pharmaceuticals)Readers’ Comments
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The order offers drug manufacturers and wholesalers both a helping hand and a gloved fist in efforts to prevent or resolve shortages that have worsened greatly in recent years, endangering thousands of lives.

It instructs the F.D.A. to do three things: broaden reporting of potential shortages of certain prescription drugs; speed reviews of applications to begin or alter production of these drugs; and provide more information to the Justice Department about possible instances of collusion or price gouging.

Such efforts are included in proposed legislation that has been pending in Congress since February despite bipartisan support for its provisions.

The order, the first since 1985 by a president to affect the functions of the Food and Drug Administration, is part of a series of recent executive orders involving such disparate issues as mortgage relief and jobs for veterans. They are intended to show that the president, plagued by low approval ratings, is working to resolve the nation’s problems despite a Congress largely paralyzed by partisan disagreements.

“The president’s action is a recognition of the fact that this is a serious problem, and we can and should do more to help solve it,” said an administration official who asked to remain anonymous to avoid upstaging the official announcement on Monday. “We can’t wait anymore.”

So far this year, at least 180 drugs that are crucial for treating childhood leukemia, breast and colon cancer, infections and other diseases have been declared in short supply — a record number. Prices for some have risen as much as eightyfold, and clinical trials for some experimental cures have been delayed because the studies must also offer older medicines that cannot be reliably provided.

Patients with entirely curable diseases have been forced to take medicines that may not be as effective, adding anxiety to an already terrible ordeal.

The president’s order is a modest effort that, while possibly helpful, is unlikely to resolve the problem soon or entirely. Administration officials characterized it as one step in a long and complicated effort. Indeed, Mr. Obama eschewed more ambitious proposals — like government drug stockpiling or manufacturing — that would have injected the government more directly into the nation’s drug market and cost more but that might have been more effective.

Still, Mr. Obama’s order and others he has issued recently reflect his belief in the power of government to improve people’s lives. By contrast, top Republican legislators and presidential candidates have almost uniformly argued that resolving the nation’s economic and other problems depends mostly on scaling back or ending government regulations to allow the free market to function more effectively. No regulatory agency touches people’s lives more thoroughly than the F.D.A., which regulates 25 cents of every dollar spent by consumers.

Along with Mr. Obama’s order, on Monday the administration will release two government reports that mostly blame a dysfunctional marketplace for drug shortages, directly contradicting assertions by some commentators that government rules are to blame. The analyses found that 74 percent of the medicines in short supply in 2010 were sterile injectibles, the kind of drugs delivered in hospitals or clinics to treat cancer or anesthetize patients before surgery.

The economic and technical hurdles to participating in this market have made it exceedingly inflexible, the analyses found. Just five large hospital buying groups purchase nearly 90 percent of the needed medicines, and only seven companies manufacture the vast majority of supply. In most cases, one company produces at least 90 percent of a drug’s supply, and crucial ingredients — many of them made in mammoth plants in India and China — are often difficult to find, verify and approve, so years are needed to create new capacity. While demand has grown steadily in recent years, supply capacity has remained largely unchanged.

With so much supply dependent on so few companies and facilities, safety problems that arise anywhere in the system can result in enormous disruptions. Nearly half of the shortages followed inspections that found serious quality problems, including injectibles that had glass shards, metal filings and bacterial and fungal contamination, the reports found.

Even the generic drug industry is calling for more regulation. The industry recently agreed to provide the F.D.A. with nearly $300 million annually to bolster inspections and speed drug applications. That amounts to about 1 percent of the industry’s revenues and about 5 percent of its profits in the United States, an extraordinary vote of confidence in the government’s ability to improve the situation.

This money and an industry campaign to build more capacity may eventually resolve much of the supply disruptions. In the meantime, Mr. Obama will promise Monday to strengthen the staff of the drug agency’s shortages team to deal with what are expected to be far more and detailed communications with manufacturers about events that could affect drug supplies, officials said.

The administration will also send letters to manufacturers reminding them of their legal responsibility to report pending supply disruptions of certain drugs and to encourage them to notify the drug agency of events that could possibly lead to disruptions even when not required to do so.

The rules needed to expand required notifications will take time to finalize, but the president’s order will speed that process, administration officials said. The president will also announce his support of legislation proposed in both the House and Senate to expand even further reporting requirements from manufacturers.

Mr. Obama’s order that the F.D.A. report to the Justice Department possible instances of price gouging or collusion is largely directed at the shadowy and fading world of small wholesalers that buy drugs from one set of users and in times of shortage sell them at huge markups to another. In one case, a leukemia drug that normally sold for $12 per vial was being sold for $990 per vial — 80 times higher. A survey found that small wholesalers typically increased prices by 650 percent during shortages.

23066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Where that satellite really landed on: October 31, 2011, 11:16:52 AM
23067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rolling Stone: WS is not winning, it is cheating on: October 31, 2011, 11:09:25 AM
Again, I repeat my point that we of the American Creed are missing opportunities here to woo and win a goodly percentage of these people.
23068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A recent episode of GBTV on: October 31, 2011, 11:04:18 AM
23069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 31, 2011, 11:00:56 AM
Subscribe to The Patriot Post — It's Right and It's FREE: click here.
Brief • October 31, 2011
The Foundation
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood." --John Adams
Opinion in Brief
Michelle's message is not an American one
"[Michelle Obama is] back on the campaign trail, and for some reason is returning to the same hardball politics. The other day, she thundered, 'Will we be a country that tells folks who've done everything right but are struggling to get by, "Tough luck, you're on your own"? Is that who we are?' Given that the federal budget has increased by $2 trillion in just a decade, entitlements are at record levels, and this administration is now running $1.5 trillion annual deficits, it is hard to imagine that any government has told anyone 'tough luck.' And it is even harder to suggest that nine months of a Republican-controlled House -- voted in as part of the largest midterm correction since 1938 -- has had much effect on the Obama employment agenda of nearly three years, the majority of which time Obama controlled both houses of Congress and borrowed nearly $5 trillion in sending unemployment over 9 percent. And when Ms. Obama charges, 'Will we be a country where opportunity is limited to just the few at the top? Who are we?' one wonders, why, then, in the past three years of hard times, did she insist on vacationing, in iconic fashion, at Vail, Martha's Vineyard, and Costa del Sol, the tony haunts of 'the few at the top'? In these rough times, surely a smaller staff, less travel, and budgetary economies would have enhanced her populist message of some at the top enjoying perks at the expense of others. In short, even if she does not revert to 2008 style and restart her lamentations about life in her country being unfair, I think it a mistake for any president to put the First Lady out, in highly partisan fashion, on the campaign trail to attack her husband's political rivals. And, I think, the public unease with it will soon prove the point." --historian Victor Davis Hanson

"Free market capitalism is unforgiving. Producers please customers, in a cost-minimizing fashion, and make a profit, or they face losses or go bankrupt. It's this market discipline that some businesses seek to avoid. That's why they descend upon Washington calling for crony capitalism -- government bailouts, subsidies and special privileges. They wish to reduce the power of consumers and stockholders, who hold little sympathy for blunders and will give them the ax on a moment's notice. Having Congress on their side means business can be less attentive to the will of consumers. Congress can keep them afloat with bailouts, as it did in the cases of General Motors and Chrysler, with the justification that such companies are 'too big to fail.' Nonsense! If General Motors and Chrysler had been allowed to go bankrupt, it wouldn't have meant that their productive assets, such as assembly lines and tools, would have gone poof and disappeared into thin air. Bankruptcy would have led to a change in ownership of those assets by someone who might have managed them better. The bailout enabled them to avoid the full consequences of their blunders. ... The Occupy Wall Street protesters are following the path predicted by the great philosopher-economist Frederic Bastiat, who said in 'The Law' that 'instead of rooting out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general.' In other words, the protesters don't want to end crony capitalism, with its handouts and government favoritism; they want to participate in it." --economist Walter E. Williams

"This country wasn't built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth. Then it began apologizing for its greatness and began giving away its wealth, feeling guilty for having produced more than its neighbors. ... Examine your values and understand that you must choose one side or the other. Any compromise between good and evil only hurts the good and helps the evil." --novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

"The trouble with the [Occupy Wall Street] movement is that it's centered around two concepts, both of which are abject lies. First and foremost, it doesn't represent ninety-nine percent of anything, no mater how many time the protesters themselves, their enablers, or a corrupt mainstream media repeats the slogan. Second, there is nothing inherently virtuous about being poor or middle class, any more than there is anything inherently evil about being wealthy. ... And make no mistake: it is a virus that infects every ethnic group, both genders and, as you may have guessed, every income class. Until some kind of national integrity is restored, everything else comes down to dealing with the symptoms of the problem instead of the problem itself. How do you restore integrity? One self-aware person at a time coming to the realization that without it, you're nothing but the member of a mob, whether that mob resides in Zuccotti Park, a bank boardroom, or the Beltway in Washington, D.C. You want to camp out all winter and rail against the inequities of the world? Knock yourself out." --columnist Arnold Ahlert
Essential Liberty
"Conventional wisdom is that government must run the schools. But government monopolies don't do anything well. They fail because they have no real competition. Yet competition is what gives us better phones, movies, cars -- everything that's good. ... In 1955, [economist Milton Friedman] proposed school vouchers. His plan didn't call for separating school and state -- unfortunately -- but instead sought a second-best fix: Give a voucher to the family, and let it choose which school -- government-run or private -- their child will attend. Schools would compete for that voucher money. Today, it would be worth $13,000 per child. (That's what America spends per student today.) Competition would then improve all schools. ... Vouchers aren't a perfect solution, but they are better than leaving every student a prisoner of a government monopoly." --columnist John Stossel

The Gipper
"Those nations and states which have secured man's highest aspirations for freedom, opportunity, and justice have always been those willing to trust their people, confident that their skills and their talents are equal to any challenge." --Ronald Reagan

Re: The Left
"According to the Taranto Principle, first identified by distinguished Wall Street Journal writer James Taranto, the mainstream media concocts false truths that actually encourage liberal Democrats to extravagance; thus, Al Gore hyperventilates over Global Warming, Jean-Francois Kerry presents himself as a Vietnam War hero, and Barack Obama sits awash in red ink and promises more. Operating in accord with the principle, the liberal Democrats abandon themselves to a riot of fantasies far removed from the American consensus, and the result is catastrophe for them and much amusement for the rest of us. ... It doesn't sound like the Occupiers are making much headway with the average American. But they are making headway with liberal Democrats. White House adviser David Plouffe says, 'The protests you're seeing are the same conversations people are having in living rooms and kitchens across America. ... People are frustrated by an economy that does not reward hard work and responsibility, where Wall Street and Main Street don't seem to play by the same set of rules.' And the brightest president in American history has said, 'I think people are frustrated. And the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.' Once again, the Taranto Principle is vindicated." --columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell

For the Record
"If I were a liberal, I would have spent the last week in shock that a Democratic audience in Flint, Mich., cheered Vice President Joe Biden's description of a policeman being killed. ... Biden's audience whooped and applauded ... when he said that without Obama's jobs bill, police will be 'outgunned and outmanned.' ... What is liberals' evidence that there will be more rapes and murders if Obama's jobs bill doesn't pass? Biden claims that, without it, there won't be enough cops to interrupt a woman being raped in her own home -- which would be an amazing bit of police work/psychic talent, if it had ever happened. (That's why Americans like guns, liberals.) Obama's jobs bill tackles the problem of rape and murder by giving the states $30 billion ... for public school teachers. Only $5 billion is even allotted to the police.... [D]id Flint [Michigan] use any money from Obama's last trillion-dollar stimulus bill to hire more police in order to prevent rape and murder? No, Flint spent its $2.2 million from the first stimulus bill on buying two electric buses. Even if what Flint really needed was buses and not cops, for $2.2 million, the city could have bought seven brand-new diesel buses and had $100,000 left over for streetlights. ... The 'green' buses were never delivered because the company went out of business -- despite a $1.6 million loan from the American taxpayer." --columnist Ann Coulter
23070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Less Academics, More Narcissism on: October 31, 2011, 12:17:42 AM
City Journal.
Heather Mac Donald
Less Academics, More Narcissism
The University of California is cutting back on many things, but not useless diversity programs.
14 July 2011

California’s budget crisis has reduced the University of California to near-penury, claim its spokesmen. “Our campuses and the UC Office of the President already have cut to the bone,” the university system’s vice president for budget and capital resources warned earlier this month, in advance of this week’s meeting of the university’s regents. Well, not exactly to the bone. Even as UC campuses jettison entire degree programs and lose faculty to competing universities, one fiefdom has remained virtually sacrosanct: the diversity machine.

Not only have diversity sinecures been protected from budget cuts, their numbers are actually growing. The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.

It’s not surprising that the new vice chancellor’s mission is rather opaque, given its superfluity. According to outgoing UCSD chancellor Marye Anne Fox, the new VC for EDI “will be responsible for building on existing diversity plans to develop and implement a campus-wide strategy on equity, diversity and inclusion.” UCSD has been churning out such diversity strategies for years. The “campus-wide strategy on equity, diversity and inclusion” that the new hire will supposedly produce differs from its predecessors only in being self-referential: it will define the very scope of the VC’s duties and the number of underlings he will command. “The strategic plan,” says Fox, “will inform the final organizational structure for the office of the VC EDI, will propose metrics to gauge progress, and will identify potential additional areas of responsibility.”

What a boon for a taxpayer-funded bureaucrat, to be able to define his own portfolio and determine how many staff lines he will control! UC Berkeley’s own vice chancellor for equity and inclusion shows how voracious a diversity apparatchik’s appetite for power can be. Gibor Basri has 17 people working for him in his immediate office, including a “chief of staff,” two “project/policy analysts,” and a “director of special projects.” The funding propping up Basri’s vast office could support many an English or history professor. According to state databases, Basri’s base pay in 2009 was $194,000, which does not include a variety of possible add-ons, including summer salary and administrative stipends. By comparison, the official salary for assistant professors at UC starts at around $53,000. Add to Basri’s salary those of his minions, and you’re looking at more than $1 million a year.

UC San Diego is adding diversity fat even as it snuffs out substantive academic programs. In March, the Academic Senate decided that the school would no longer offer a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering; it also eliminated a master’s program in comparative literature and courses in French, German, Spanish, and English literature. At the same time, the body mandated a new campus-wide diversity requirement for graduation. The cultivation of “a student’s understanding of her or his identity,” as the diversity requirement proposal put it, would focus on “African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Chicanos, Latinos, Native Americans, or other groups” through the “framework” of “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, language, ability/disability, class or age.” Training computer scientists to compete with the growing technical prowess of China and India, apparently, can wait. More pressing is guaranteeing that students graduate from UCSD having fully explored their “identity.” Why study Cervantes, Voltaire, or Goethe when you can contemplate yourself? “Diversity,” it turns out, is simply a code word for narcissism.

UC San Diego just lost a trio of prestigious cancer researchers to Rice University. Rice had offered them 40 percent pay raises over their total compensation packages, which at UCSD ranged from $187,000 to $330,000 a year. They take with them many times that amount in government grants. Scrapping the new Vice Chancellorship for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion could have saved at least one, if not two, of those biologists’ positions, depending on how greedily the new VC for EDI defines his realm. UCSD is not disclosing how much the VC for EDI will pull in or how large his staff will be: “We expect that [budget/staffing] will be part of the negotiation with the successful candidate at the end of our search process,” says Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Judy Piercey. Since the new UCSD vice chancellor will be responsible for equity, inclusion, and diversity—unlike the Berkeley vice chancellor, who is responsible only for equity and inclusion—the salary at UCSD will presumably reflect that infinitely greater mandate.

UCSD is by no means the only campus bullish on the diversity business, despite budgetary shortfalls hitting the UC system everywhere else. In 2010, Berkeley announced the UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, funded in part by a $16 million gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. The “new” initiative duplicates existing “equity” projects, not least the Berkeley Diversity Research Initiative, established by Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau in 2006. This latest initiative boasts five new faculty chairs in “diversity-related research”—one of which will be “focused on equity rights affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” according to the press release, and “will be one of the first endowed chairs on this subject in the United States.” (Sorry, Berkeley, Yale got there first.)

The main purpose of the UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion seems to be to buy for the academic identity racket the respectability that no amount of campus mau-mauing has yet been able to achieve. “Area studies such as ethnic studies, queer studies and gender studies tend to be marginalized and viewed as less essential to the university than such fields as engineering, law or biology,” glumly noted the press release. (The use of the term “area studies” to refer to the solipsist’s curriculum is a novel appropriation of a phrase originally referring to geopolitical specialization.) According to a campus administrator on the Berkeley Diversity Research Initiative’s executive committee, the new initiative will change the character of Berkeley’s area studies by “asserting [sic] them squarely into the main life and importance of the campus.”

Conferring academic legitimacy on narcissism studies is apparently a superhuman task deserving of superhuman remuneration. The salary and expense account of the likely new director of the UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, John Powell—who is currently the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University’s law school—will likely dwarf anything seen so far among diversocrats, according to inside sources.

UCLA’s diversity infrastructure has likewise been spared the budgetary ax. In the pre-recession 2005–06 academic year, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for faculty diversity reported up the bureaucratic ladder to a vice chancellor for academic personnel, herself reporting to an executive vice chancellor and provost, who in turn reported to the university chancellor. Today, that associate vice chancellor for faculty diversity has been transformed into a vice provost position, while the vice chancellor for academic personnel above her has been eliminated. The new vice provost for faculty diversity will not be lonely; she can pal around with UCLA’s associate director for diversity research and analysis, its associate vice provost for student diversity, its associate dean for academic diversity, its director of diversity outreach, and its director of staff affirmative action.

The one observable activity performed by these lavishly funded diversity bureaucrats is to pressure academic departments to hire more women and minorities. (Even that activity is superfluous, given the abundant pressure for race and gender quotas already exerted by campus groups, every accrediting agency, and external political bodies.) Should a department fail to satisfy—as it inevitably will in every field with low minority participation—only one explanation is possible: a departmental or campus “climate” hostile to diversity, which then requires more intercessions from the diversity bureaucracy. The fact that every other college and university in the country is scouring the horizon for the identical elusive cache of qualified female and minority hires is not allowed into the discourse. Even less acceptable is any recognition of the academic achievement gap between black and Hispanic students, on the one hand, and white and Asian students, on the other, which affects the pool of qualified faculty candidates in fields with remotely traditional scholarly prerequisites. Student admissions offices are under the same pressure, which in California results in the constant generation of new schemes for “holistic” admissions procedures designed to evade the ban on racial and gender preferences that California voters enacted in 1996.

UC San Diego’s lunge toward an even more costly diversity apparatus was inspired in part by one of those periodic outbreaks of tasteless adolescent humor that every diversity bureaucrat lives for (and whose significance is trivial compared with the overwhelmingly supportive environment that today’s universities provide all of their students). But it was hardly out of character on a campus presided over by a chancellor fond of “social justice” rhetoric. And UC’s other campuses are equally committed to bureaucratic diversity aggrandizement, even without a pretext for accelerating those efforts.

This week, in light of a possible cut of $650 million in state financing, the University of California’s regents will likely raise tuition rates to $12,192. Though tuition at UC will remain a bargain compared with what you would pay at private colleges, the regents won’t be meeting their responsibility to California’s taxpayers if they pass over in silence the useless diversity infrastructure that sucks money away from the university’s real function: teaching students about the world outside their own limited selves. California’s budget crisis could have had a silver lining if it had resulted in the dismantling of that infrastructure—but the power of the diversity complex makes such an outcome unthinkable.

Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
23071  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 30, 2011, 11:29:58 PM
Anonymous sources quoting unnamed people about alleged behavior twenty years ago; is another high tech lynching (see Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill-- who was busted while trying to be anonymous) under way?  Looks like it. 
23072  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Guro Crafty en Madrid, Espana, primavera 2012 on: October 30, 2011, 09:19:56 PM
Se espera tener las fechas muy pronto.  cool
23073  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Estudio: ?Que paso' aqui? on: October 30, 2011, 09:18:50 PM
23074  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / List of Romney flip flops on: October 30, 2011, 07:58:08 PM
23075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: October 30, 2011, 04:09:03 PM
I don't think even Gov. Chris Christie is fat enough for there to be enough room.
23076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Scrapping and replacing the current U.S. tax code. on: October 30, 2011, 04:07:53 PM

Welcome aboard smiley

Do know that we try to have a substantial amount of thread coherence around here; the idea being that this strengthens this forum as a resource and as a research tool.   For example, as Doug notes, your post would fit nicely in the Tax Policy thread.  Generally, see the Rules of the Road thread.

Again, good to see you here. 


PS: Locking this thread.
23077  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pravda on the Beach calls to our GM for a response on: October 30, 2011, 12:37:50 PM
I hazard the guess that our GM will not approve of the tone here cheesy,0,1292189.story
23078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: US presence in the mid-east post Iraq on: October 30, 2011, 12:05:06 PM
MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran.
The plans, under discussion for months, gained new urgency after President Obama’s announcement this month that the last American soldiers would be brought home from Iraq by the end of December. Ending the eight-year war was a central pledge of his presidential campaign, but American military officers and diplomats, as well as officials of several countries in the region, worry that the withdrawal could leave instability or worse in its wake.

After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative.

In addition to negotiations over maintaining a ground combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is considering sending more naval warships through international waters in the region.

With an eye on the threat of a belligerent Iran, the administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense.

The size of the standby American combat force to be based in Kuwait remains the subject of negotiations, with an answer expected in coming days. Officers at the Central Command headquarters here declined to discuss specifics of the proposals, but it was clear that successful deployment plans from past decades could be incorporated into plans for a post-Iraq footprint in the region.

For example, in the time between the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States Army kept at least a combat battalion — and sometimes a full combat brigade —  in Kuwait year-round, along with an enormous arsenal ready to be unpacked should even more troops have been called to the region.

“Back to the future” is how Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, Central Command’s chief of staff, described planning for a new posture in the Gulf. He said the command was focusing on smaller but highly capable deployments and training partnerships with regional militaries. “We are kind of thinking of going back to the way it was before we had a big ‘boots on the ground’ presence,” General Horst said. “I think it is healthy. I think it is efficient. I think it is practical.”

Mr. Obama and his senior national security advisers have sought to reassure allies and answer critics, including many Republicans, that the United States will not abandon its commitments in the Persian Gulf even as it winds down the war in Iraq and looks ahead to doing the same in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
“We will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region, which is proof of our ongoing commitment to Iraq and to the future of that region, which holds such promise and should be freed from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Tajikistan after the president’s announcement.
During town-hall-style meetings with military personnel in Asia last week, the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta, noted that the United States had 40,000 troops in the region, including 23,000 in Kuwait, though the bulk of those serve as logistical support for the forces in Iraq.
As they undertake this effort, the Pentagon and its Central Command, which oversees operations in the region, have begun a significant rearrangement of American forces, acutely aware of the political and budgetary constraints facing the United States, including at least $450 billion of cuts in military spending over the next decade as part of the agreement to reduce the budget deficit.
Officers at Central Command said that the post-Iraq era required them to seek more efficient ways to deploy forces and maximize cooperation with regional partners. One significant outcome of the coming cuts, officials said, could be a steep decrease in the number of intelligence analysts assigned to the region. At the same time, officers hope to expand security relationships in the region. General Horst said that training exercises were “a sign of commitment to presence, a sign of commitment of resources, and a sign of commitment in building partner capability and partner capacity.”
(Page 2 of 2)
Col. John G. Worman, Central Command’s chief for exercises, noted a Persian Gulf milestone: For the first time, he said, the military of Iraq had been invited to participate in a regional exercise in Jordan next year, called Eager Lion 12, built around the threat of guerrilla warfare and terrorism.
Another part of the administration’s post-Iraq planning involves the Gulf Cooperation Council, dominated by Saudi Arabia. It has increasingly sought to exert its diplomatic and military influence in the region and beyond. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, sent combat aircraft to the Mediterranean as part of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, while Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates each have forces in Afghanistan.
At the same time, however, the council sent a mostly Saudi ground force into Bahrain to support that government’s suppression of demonstrations this year, despite international criticism.
Despite such concerns, the administration has proposed establishing a stronger, multilateral security alliance with the six nations and the United States. Mr. Panetta and Mrs. Clinton outlined the proposal in an unusual joint meeting with the council on the sidelines of the United Nations in New York last month.
The proposal still requires the approval of the council, whose leaders will meet again in December in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and the kind of multilateral collaboration that the administration envisions must overcome rivalries among the six nations.
“It’s not going to be a NATO tomorrow,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic negotiations still under way, “but the idea is to move to a more integrated effort.”
Iran, as it has been for more than three decades, remains the most worrisome threat to many of those nations, as well as to Iraq itself, where it has re-established political, cultural and economic ties, even as it provided covert support for Shiite insurgents who have battled American forces.
“They’re worried that the American withdrawal will leave a vacuum, that their being close by will always make anyone think twice before taking any action,” Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, said in an interview, referring to officials in the Persian Gulf region.
Sheik Khalid was in Washington last week for meetings with the administration and Congress. “There’s no doubt it will create a vacuum,” he said, “and it may invite regional powers to exert more overt action in Iraq.”
He added that the administration’s proposal to expand its security relationship with the Persian Gulf nations would not “replace what’s going on in Iraq” but was required in the wake of the withdrawal to demonstrate a unified defense in a dangerous region. “Now the game is different,” he said. “We’ll have to be partners in operations, in issues and in many ways that we should work together.”
At home, Iraq has long been a matter of intense dispute. Some foreign policy analysts and Democrats — and a few Republicans — say the United States has remained in Iraq for too long. Others, including many Republicans and military analysts, have criticized Mr. Obama’s announcement of a final withdrawal, expressing fear that Iraq remained too weak and unstable.
“The U.S. will have to come to terms with an Iraq that is unable to defend itself for at least a decade,” Adam Mausner and Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote after the withdrawal announcement.
Twelve Republican Senators demanded hearings on the administration’s ending of negotiations with the Iraqis — for now at least — on the continuation of American training and on counterterrorism efforts in Iraq.
“As you know, the complete withdrawal of our forces from Iraq is likely to be viewed as a strategic victory by our enemies in the Middle East, especially the Iranian regime,” the senators wrote Wednesday in a letter to the chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee.
23079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cain, Paul on: October 30, 2011, 11:54:22 AM
Saw Cain on Face the Nation this AM.  Thought he did reasonably well with a fairly hostile Washington insider interview.  Improving answering questions on foreign affairs, but still not at a level that seems presidential.

Saw Ron Paul handle CNN's Candy Crowley VERY well too.  He really has gotten quite good at handling heart string questions such as "Surely you can't be against helping people go to college."   He articulates well things like actually shutting down entire departments such as Energy, Education, Commerce, etc.  Too bad his foreign affairs are what they are.  Too bad he has too many stray crackpot comments, such as the one about a border fence with Mexico being used to keep us in.  On the Bret Baier Report's "hot seat" interview, Charles Krauthammer badly stuffed him to his face with it.
23080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on Tunisia's elections on: October 30, 2011, 11:47:54 AM

"Most important is that democracy wins," said Mondher Ben Ayed, an IT executive in the Tunisian capital of Tunis about this North African country's electoral experiment. "But we'll also get to know who we are."

Elections are a great mirror to society, and for too long Arabs were denied a look. Ten months ago, Tunisians launched the Arab Spring by deposing dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and the elections on Sunday were the first to follow from this year of uprisings. The results, which were released last night, introduced Tunisians to themselves.

The Islamist Nahda Party won 41% of the votes, good enough for 90 seats in a 217-member constituent assembly, which will form a government and write a new constitution. Though the proof will be in its behavior in office, Nahda ran on a moderate platform, promising to keep religion (and shariah law) out of Tunisian politics. The outcome forces Tunisians to adjust their self-image. The country's old elites have for decades thought of Tunisia as overwhelmingly secular and Westernized. This isn't quite right. What also needs to be adjusted is an often condescending attitude among the better-educated toward poorer religious or more conservative citizens who got their say Sunday. Plaintive cries from those whose preferred parties lagged Nahda call to mind the reaction on the U.S. coasts when a Republican sweeps the red states to the White House.

The electorate was described in some quarters as too apathetic or culturally ill-suited to democracy. But Tunisians took to the vote with enthusiasm; turnout was around 90%. As well as Nahda did, the four leading so-called secular parties won 31% of the vote. These parties might alternatively be called left-of-center, particularly on economics, and the outcome suggests a typical left-right national split. Anyone associated with the old regime learned how deeply their countrymen hate Ben Ali: They got 5% of the vote.

The biggest surprise was the group led by Hechmi Hamdi, the London-based owner of satellite television network Al Mostakilla. His so-called Popular Petition promised free health care, generous unemployment benefits and a fantastic new bridge to southern Italy. Apparently 13% of Tunisians believe in such miracles, and made the party the fourth-largest in the assembly. The election commission ruled that Popular Petition broke campaign laws and took away six of their seats. The commission's decision, which seemed borderline legally and symbolically stupid, leaves a black mark on an otherwise well-run election. Violent protests broke out in several cities.

Many eyes now will be trained on the new ruling Islamist party. Yet the other message from Sunday is that Tunisia revealed itself to be a pluralistic society enthused, for the time being, about this opportunity to build a representative system of government.

23081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: From Cave to Kennel on: October 29, 2011, 09:12:30 PM
Ross MacDonald

Chauvet Cave in southern France houses the oldest representational paintings ever discovered. Created some 32,000 years ago, the 400-plus images of large grazing animals and the predators who hunted them form a multi-chambered Paleolithic bestiary. Many scholars believe that these paintings mark the emergence of a recognizably modern human consciousness. We feel that we know their creators, even though they are from a time and place as alien as another planet.

 Dog historian Mark Derr discusses the story of how man's best friend came to be and how new scientific findings are changing our preconceived notions of the domesticated dog. He speaks with WSJ's Christina Tsuei.

What most intrigues many people about the cave, however, is not the artwork but a set of markings at once more human and more mysterious: the bare footprints of an 8- to 10-year-old torch-bearing boy left in the mud of a back chamber some 26,000 years ago—and, alongside one of them, the paw print of his traveling companion, variously identified as a wolf or a large dog.

Attributing that paw print to a dog or even to a socialized wolf has been controversial since it was first proposed a decade ago. It would push back by some 12,000 years the oldest dog on record. More than that: Along with a cascade of other new scientific findings, it could totally rewrite the story of man and dog and what they mean to each other.

For decades, the story told by science has been that today's dogs are the offspring of scavenger wolves who wandered into the villages established by early humans at the end of the last ice age, about 15,000 years ago. This view emphasizes simple biological drive—to feed on human garbage, the scavenging wolf had to behave in a docile fashion toward humans. And—being human—we responded in kind, seeking out dogs for their obsequiousness and unconditional devotion.

As the story goes, these tame wolves bred with other tame wolves and became juvenilized. Think of them as wolves-lite, diminished in strength, stamina and brains. They resembled young wolves, with piebald coats, floppy ears and shorter, weaker jaws. Pleading whiners, they drowned their human marks in slavish devotion and unconditional love. Along the way, they lost their ability to kill and consume their prey.

But it was never clear, in this old account, just how we got from the scavenging wolf to the remarkable spectrum of dogs who have existed over time, from fell beasts trained to terrorize and kill people to creatures so timid that they flee their own shadows. The standard explanation was that once the dump-diver became a dog, humans took charge of its evolution through selective breeding, choosing those with desired traits and culling those who came up short.

This account is now falling apart in the face of new genetic analyses and recently discovered fossils. The emerging story sees humans and proto-dogs evolving together: We chose them, to be sure, but they chose us too, and our shared characteristics may well account for our seemingly unshakable mutual intimacy.

Dogs and humans are social beings who depend on cooperation for their survival and have an uncanny ability to understand each other in order to work together. Both wolves and humans brought unique, complementary talents to a relationship that was based not on subservience and intimidation but on mutual respect.

It seems that wolves and humans met on the trail of the large grazing animals that they both hunted, and the most social members of both species gravitated toward each other. Several scholars have even suggested that humans learned to hunt from wolves. At the least, camps with wolf sentinels had a competitive advantage over those without. And people whose socialized wolves would carry packs had an even greater advantage, since they could transport more supplies. Wolves benefited as well by gaining some relief from pup rearing, protection for themselves and their offspring, and a steadier food supply.

The relationship between dogs and humans has been so mutually beneficial and enduring that some scholars have suggested that we—dog and human—influenced each other's evolution.

The Chauvet Cave "dogwolf"—the term I use for a doglike, or highly socialized, wolf who kept company with humans—is controversial, but it cannot easily be dismissed. Over the past three years, it has been grouped convincingly with a number of similar animals that have been identified in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and the Altai Mountains in Southern Siberia, dating from 33,000 to 16,000 years ago.

Identification of these early dogs, combined with recent genetic evidence and a growing understanding of animals not as stimulus-response machines but as sentient beings, has broken the consensus model of dog domestication—leaving intact little more than the recognition of the grey wolf, Canis lupus, as progenitor of the dog. Everything else, it seems, is up for grabs.

According to the old view, the dog arose around 15,000 years ago in the Middle East. (Or in China, south of the Yangtze River, an alternate possible origin point added in the last decade in an attempt to reconcile archaeological evidence with emerging DNA evidence.)

The first major challenge to the consensus came in 1997, when an international team of biologists published a paper in the journal Science placing the origin of the dog as early as 135,000 years ago. Their date was based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on to offspring through females and is believed to change little from generation to generation; it allows scientists to calculate the time when populations or species separated genetically. This analysis suggested that wolves could have become dogs wherever in Eurasia they associated closely with early humans, and that even after the split was made, dogs and wolves continued to interbreed.

In short, because of their natural affinities, wherever and whenever wolves and humans met on the trail, some of them began to keep company. Often, when socialized wolves died, there were no others immediately available to replace them. But sometimes several socialized wolves would mate or a socialized female would mate with a "wild" wolf and then have her litter near the human camp. The pups would stay or go, according to their natures. This kind of arrangement could have continued for a considerable period. Any number of them could ultimately have produced dogwolves or dogs. Most of those lines would have vanished over time.

The DNA evidence remained controversial for years, even as most major studies placed the genetic separation of wolf and dog at earlier dates than those favored by archaeologists. Hard proof was slow to appear. The Chauvet Cave paw print once provided the only physical evidence for the existence of dogs before 15,000 years ago—and it was, at best, an indirect piece of support.

Then in 2008, Mietje Germonpré, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science and the leader of an international team of scientists, re-examined fossil material excavated from Goyet Cave in Belgium in the late 19th century and announced the identification of a 31,700-year-old dog, a large and powerful animal who ate reindeer, musk oxen and horses. The dogwolf from Goyet Cave was a creature of the Aurignacian culture that had produced the art in Chauvet Cave.

Last July, another international team identified the remains of a 33,000-year-old "incipient dog" from the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. This month, Ms. Germonpré confirmed another find, this one in the Czech Republic, of the remains of a 26,000- to 27,000-year-old dog that had been buried with a bone in its mouth—perhaps to fuel it as it accompanied its human companion to the afterlife.

While the old consensus model held that the first dogs were small, these and other recently identified early dogs are large animals, often with shorter noses and broader faces than today's wolves. These early dogs appear in the camps of hunters of horses, reindeer, mammoths and other big game. From all appearances, they were pack animals, guards, hunters and companions. They are perhaps best viewed as the offspring of highly socialized wolves who had begun breeding in or near human camps.

Our view of domestication as a process has also begun to change, with recent research showing that, in dogs, alterations in only a small number of genes can have large effects in terms of size, shape and behavior. Far from being a product of the process of domestication, the mutations that separated early dogs from wolves may have arisen naturally in one or more small populations; the mutations were then perpetuated by humans through directed breeding. Geneticists have identified, for instance, a mutation in a single gene that appears to be responsible for smallness in dogs, and they have shown that the gene itself probably came from Middle Eastern wolves.

All of this suggests that it was common for highly socialized wolves and people to form alliances. It also leads logically to the conclusion that the first dogs were born on the move with bands of hunter-gatherers—not around semi-permanent pre-agricultural settlements. This may explain why it has proven so difficult to identify a time and place of domestication.

Taken together, these recent discoveries have led some scientists to conclude that the dog became an evolutionary inevitability as soon as humans met wolves. Highly social wolves and highly social humans started walking, playing and hunting together and never stopped. The dog is literally the wolf who stayed, who traded wolf society for human society.

Humans did wield a significant influence over dogs, of course, by using breeding to perpetuate mutations affecting their shape, size and physical abilities. Recent studies suggest that the dog has unique abilities among animals to follow human directions and that its capacity for understanding words can approach that of a two-year-old child. To various degrees, humans appear to have concentrated those and other characteristics and traits through selective breeding.

Since the advent of scientific breeding in the late 18th century, humans have altered the look and temperament of the dog more than they had over thousands of preceding years. A team of gene-sequencers at the Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that the dog lost 4% of its genetic diversity during its initial separation from the wolf. Much greater losses have occurred as a result of modern breed formation, one result of which is the more than 400 inheritable diseases to which purebreds are uniquely vulnerable.

Recent genetic evidence has confirmed that certain basic types—pariah dogs, sight hounds, mastiffs, spitz-type dogs and small dogs—arose very early in the transformation of wolf to dog. These dogs adapted to their homelands and often had special talents as hunters, guards and eventually herders. These characteristics were often perpetuated over time.

Scientific breeders believed they could improve on nature by consolidating several similar types into one breed or isolating a few prize specimens from a larger population. In both cases, they relied on inbreeding to create and perpetuate the look and talents they wanted. With the advent of kennel clubs in the mid-19th century, the pace of breed creation picked up.

Breeders began to create dogs to fit the needs of the wealthy—from sporting dogs that could point and retrieve fowl, to little puppy-like lap dogs. The dog proved to be a wonderful animal for testing the skill of breeders, since it could be stretched in size from two to 200 pounds.

Purebred dogs were expensive commodities until after World War II, when they became symbols of arrival in the middle class. Increased demand led to increased breeding, often in puppy mills. The resulting dogs had health and behavior problems from bad breeding and the poor care of pregnant females and newborn puppies.

In some cases, the traits that breeders desire are inherited along with unwanted, debilitating conditions—such as when blindness and epilepsy accompany particular coat styles and eye colors. In many regards, the original, naturally occurring breeds were healthier and better at their appointed tasks than their purebred heirs.

But this is just the most recent chapter of a long tale. The tableau in the mud of Chauvet Cave is a stark reminder that dogs and humans have traveled together for tens of thousands of years, from ancient hunting camps to farms, ranches cities and suburbs—from the tropics to the poles. The relationship has endured not because dogs are juvenilized wolves but because they are dogs—our faithful companions.

—Mr. Derr's most recent book is "How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends."
23082  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Chicago Nov 19-10 on: October 29, 2011, 02:40:18 PM
Also see!/event.php?eid=264777853534337
23083  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Guro Crafty in Chicago Nov 19-21 on: October 29, 2011, 02:20:49 PM
23084  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Guro Crafty in Mexico City Nov 12-13 on: October 29, 2011, 02:19:58 PM
23085  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Winter Camp 2012 on: October 29, 2011, 02:18:21 PM
Feb 17-19 is the date and GM Art Gonzales of Tenio Decuerdas will be the guest instructor.
23086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: October 29, 2011, 02:17:09 PM
Goodness, I feel like I am back in law school!  cheesy

"I'll add that morally, even if they got up right from the class and killed a hundred people in front of the building to please the Sun God, the onus , , , of moral responsibility is on them, not the teacher, , ,."

Of course it is on them, but morally and spiritually speaking, it is not clear to me that the teacher is off scott free though.

a)  Neo Nazis who go on to kill blacks, and jews, and asians, and Mexicans and , , ,
b) KKKers who go on to kill blacks, and jews, and asians, and Mexicans, and , , ,

Indeed, aren't bartenders sometimes held responsible for serving the obviously inebriated when they then go drive and kill someone?
23087  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 29, 2011, 01:34:39 PM
Well, I would use them as Exhibit A as to why one would not want to be part of OWS cheesy
23088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: October 29, 2011, 01:30:01 PM

Your reasoning is sound and protects us from sliding down a slippery slope to places to which we do not want to go.  That said, please forgive the intrusion of this ridiculous hypothetical  grin

The Aztec religion worshipped the Sun God.  As part of that religion they waged war, captured prisoners, and sacrificed them to the Sun God by cutting out their still beating hearts.  Question presented:  Could the CCW instructor deny them instruction on the basis of their religion?
23089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Euros peddling their debts to the Chinese on: October 29, 2011, 10:50:18 AM
PARIS — A day after European leaders unveiled their latest plan to save the euro, top officials opened talks with China in an effort to lure tens of billions of dollars in additional cash, giving China perhaps its biggest opportunity yet to exercise financial clout in the Western world.
China is expected to demand significant concessions, including financial guarantees and limits on what Beijing sees as discriminatory trade policies, in exchange for any investment in Europe’s emergency stability fund. The head of the rescue fund, Klaus Regling, got a cautious reply from Chinese officials Friday during a visit to Beijing, where he said he did not expect to reach an investment deal with China anytime soon.
A senior Chinese official, Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao, said China — like the rest of the world — was still waiting for the Europeans to deliver crucial details on how the rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, would operate and be profitable before deciding on whether to participate.
That Europe would turn so openly to China to help stabilize the debt crisis shows how quickly the Chinese economic juggernaut has risen on the world stage. Indeed, if China comes to Europe’s aid, it will signal a new international order, with China beginning to rival the role long played by the United States as the world’s pivotal financial power.
“This would be a tectonic shift,” said Pieter P. Bottelier, an expert on China who teaches at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “It would be so important economically and politically.”
Arvind Subramanian, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said Europe’s appeal was another sign that China was already a dominant global power.
“China’s power is more imminent, broader in scope and greater in magnitude than anyone imagines,” he said. “For instance, China’s currency is already having a negative effect not just on the U.S. and Europe, but on everyone else, too. And the rest of the world can’t do anything about it. If that’s not dominance, what is?”
Europe has turned to Beijing and a handful of other emerging market economies to consider investing in the fund to supplement contributions by the 17 countries that use the euro. Outside investment was presented as critical for the Europeans to create a financial firewall of up to $1.4 trillion to prevent the debt crisis that started in Greece from ravaging larger countries, including Italy and Spain.
In a sign that the crisis was far from over and that investors were still wary of Italy’s political paralysis and its huge debt, it was obliged on Friday to pay the highest rate in more than a decade to sell a new bond issue.
The fear is that a failure to contain the crisis would lead to contagion in global financial markets on par with the Lehman Brothers debacle, and deliver a blow not only to the economies of Europe, but also to the United States and other major trading partners.
Such a deterioration would certainly be bad news for China, which could hardly afford to see two of its biggest markets hobbled at the same time.
China has a $3.2 trillion nest egg in foreign reserves, by far the largest hoard of foreign currency in the world, and it needs to find places to park those reserves rather than convert them all to Chinese renminbi, a step that could set off domestic inflation and lead to sharp appreciation in the currency’s value. Europeans know that China is eager to move some of the money out of its vast pile of United States Treasury securities, and they are pushing the Continent’s crisis as a good opportunity to invest on the cheap.
Hours after European leaders unveiled their grand plan, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France called President Hu Jintao to say that Europe was still looking for some cash, and lobbied Beijing to play a “major role” in helping Europe get its house in order.
Since the Europe crisis worsened two years ago, regional leaders once wary of China’s influence have rolled out the red carpet in hopes that China might be a savior for their ailing economies. China has already made deals to expand its footprint into choice Western European countries like Italy and Spain. Now, Chinese-owned companies run the biggest shipping port in Greece. They own highways and other crucial infrastructure, and are working to snap up other strategic businesses to anchor their presence on European soil.

But with Europe’s economy verging on its second recession in three years, Chinese officials are wary of taking too big of a risk abroad. China’s own economy is slowing, and there is growing unease about inflation and a property bubble. The income gap between the rich and the poor is widening, posing challenges to the leadership in Beijing.
Chinese citizens have also been venting anger on the Internet about government investments in Europe that have turned out to be anything but profitable, including billions of euros worth of volatile bond holdings from stricken countries like Spain and Greece. And on a per capita basis China is still much poorer than Spain, Greece or Italy, meaning officials in Beijing could face a popular outcry if they poured resources into rescuing European countries or banks.
“There is a lot of skepticism within the Communist Party, but also in Chinese public opinion, about China sinking money into European reserve assets,” said Jonathan Holslag, the head of research at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies.
Still, lending a hand to Europe could prove a golden opportunity for China to increase its financial and political clout, and make it more of an equal among giants on the Continent, analysts say.
Although leaders have pledged not to tie political demands to financial investments, Beijing has sought to get the European Union to recognize it as a market economy under global trade rules. Without that status, it is easier for other nations to initiate trade proceedings against China.
China is also eager to persuade Europe to drop its criticism of its currency valuation policies, especially at a time when the United States Congress is weighing legislation that would allow American companies to file trade cases against China on the basis of an undervalued renminbi.
Another longstanding sore point is the arms embargo that Europe and the United States imposed on China after its bloody 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square. The European Union recently considered easing the ban, but the United States has steadfastly objected. More than anything, lifting the ban would signal Europe’s acceptance of China as an equal on the world stage.
It is not clear whether China would push that hard, though. As much as Europe wants the cash, Beijing knows that taking things too far could backfire.
“When you look at the diplomatic agenda, most officials understand that trying to impose political conditions on financial support is not going to work, and might even be counterproductive,” said Mr. Holslag, the Brussels Institute researcher. “If they become too blunt and assertive in attaching a lot of demands, that might lead to a defensive, if not protectionist, stance in Europe.”
Moreover, Europe is China’s largest export market, so it may be in Beijing’s interest to help boost European stability, said an official close to the Chinese government’s deliberations although not directly involved in them.
If a contribution is made to the European stabilization fund, he said, it is likely to be sizable, although smaller than those by the biggest European countries or the International Monetary Fund. What would be crucial, he said, is that Germany, France and the European Central Bank are behind the plan to expand the fund.
“We are looking at China’s pile of reserves with envy, and hope the Chinese are willing to spend something on us,” said Paul de Grauwe, an economics professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium and an adviser to the European Commission. “But they surely don’t want to throw money at this except if they get an ironclad guarantee. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t think we should count on China to help us out.”

23090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: October 29, 2011, 10:21:16 AM
As the conversation between the two of you continues, I note that this statement is not true:

"If he was a private citizen teaching a self defense class in firearms or hand to hand then he would have the discretion of choosing who (sic) he taught."

Perhaps it should be otherwise, but my understanding is that any an all businesses are required by law to not discriminate on the basis of blah blah under penalty of law.
23091  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 29, 2011, 10:15:35 AM
The Foundation
"Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." --James Madison
Government & Politics
Bypassing Congress to 'Fix' the Economy

Barack Obama wants everyone to know that he's the president, and by golly he's getting impatient. "We can't wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job," he told a Las Vegas crowd Monday. "Where they won't act, I will." What does that mean? "I've told my administration," he explained, "to keep looking every single day for actions we can take without Congress, steps that can save consumers money, make government more efficient and responsive, and help heal the economy. And we're going to be announcing these executive actions on a regular basis."
Obama, formerly a "senior lecturer" in constitutional law, apparently thinks it's fine to thumb his nose at the separation of powers and simply enact legislation by executive fiat, on the grounds that "we can't wait." No more "yes, we can," which is so 2008. Yet this is the same old arrested development that is endemic on the Left.
There are three overarching areas in which Obama promises to take action: Jobs, mortgages and student loans. We've seen this movie before. Obama has been demanding a "jobs" bill since early September, by which he means another half-trillion dollars of so-called "stimulus" spending on various Democrat constituent groups, not least of which is public unions. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) agreed that indeed we can't wait -- and that the Democrat-controlled Senate should therefore act on the 17 House measures passed already this year (including part of Obama's proposed bill) that would, in various ways, enable entrepreneurs to create jobs.
The president proposes an overhaul to an existing government program to help people refinance their government-guaranteed mortgages. The Federal Housing Finance Agency simultaneously released detailed changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program, known as HARP. Helping people who are "underwater" on their mortgages -- they owe more than their homes are worth -- sounds like a noble goal. In reality, however, the program won't help that many people and it won't mean much for the economy at large. Enrollment requirements include that one's mortgage must have been owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac since at least May 2009, the current loan-to-value ratio must be greater than 80 percent, and the homeowner must be current on payments. In other words, this will hardly help those facing foreclosure or lift falling home prices.
Besides, foreclosures aren't caused by underwater mortgages; they're caused by homeowners not making payments, often because they're out of work. In other words, they are the symptom, not the disease. Deregulate, lower and stabilize taxes, grow the economy and the number of jobs, and housing problems will be alleviated as a result. (The economy did grow at 2.5 percent in the third quarter, but that's not even a maintenance level, much less a signal of real recovery.)
Obama's other proposal is to help students with their education loans, which indeed are astronomical (more on that below). He believes that by adjusting the cap on payments each month and lowering interest rates slightly, graduates will have more money at their disposal, so they will spend more and boost the economy. It's the same old demand-side theory, and we can expect the same old result. What's more, the impact would be negligible.
The Atlantic crunched the numbers: "How much would an interest rate reduction of up to 0.5% affect payments? For the average borrower, the impact would be small. In 2011, Bachelor's degree recipients graduating with debt had an average balance of $27,204, according to an analysis done by, based on Department of Education data. That average has ballooned from just $17,646 over the past decade. Using these values as the high and low bounds of average student debt over the last ten years, the monthly savings for the average student loan borrower would be between $4.50 and $7.75 per month. Clearly, this isn't going to save the economy."
That last sentence pretty well sums up the entire Obama presidency.
What do you think of Obama's plan to circumvent Congress?
Nanny State
"The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don't work even harder than we did in 2008, then we're going to have a government that tells the American people, 'you are on your own.' If you get sick, you're on your own. If you can't afford college, you're on your own. If you don't like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you're on your own. That's not the America I believe in. It's not the America you believe in." --Barack Obama, shameless promoter of the nanny state
The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto responded, "[D]o you know what they call people who rely on themselves? Adults."

The Oath Accountability Act for Constitutional Integrity
To restore the Constitution's strict enumeration of the central government's "few and defined powers," we must, first and foremost, require that all members of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches abide by their oaths "to support and defend" our Constitution -- under penalty of law. At present, there is no legal penalty for Breach of Oath or legal obligation to abide by the plain language of our Constitution.
Please help us enact, through judicial or legislative action, strong penalties obligating all elected and appointed federal officials to abide by their oaths. If the federal judiciary refuses to hear this action, then we will take it to the national legislature for codification into federal law. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "Bind [them] down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

News From the Swamp: Debt Committee Update
The congressional "super committee" tasked with identifying $1.2 trillion in budget savings over the next 10 years as part of the most recent debt-ceiling deal has been meeting for weeks behind closed doors. The committee's Democrats threw back the curtain this week, though, when they issued a proposal to cut $3 trillion from the deficit. Of course, to the average headline reader, it appears that Democrats actually want to cut $3 trillion. Great news, right? Not really. For one thing, roughly half of the savings would come from tax hikes -- above and beyond those already hidden in ObamaCare. Furthermore, entitlements are "off the table" and all the savings are spread out over 10 years, as if this Congress can bind a future one to a spending plan.
On the one hand, we're glad to see Democrats working with multi-trillion-dollar figures. On the other hand, enough with the tax increases already. That's nothing more than a political ploy to portray Republicans as obstructionist when they don't go along. Class warfare won't fix anything, and tax hikes certainly aren't budget cuts.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Awards
"[L]ast week, we had a separate vote on a part of the jobs bill that would put 400,000 teachers, firefighters and police officers back on the job, paid for by asking people who make more than $1 million to pay one-half of 1 percent in additional taxes. For somebody making $1.1 million a year, that's an extra $500. Five hundred bucks. And with that, we could have saved 400,000 jobs. Most people making more than $1 million, if you talk to them, they'll say, I'm willing to pay $500 extra to help the country. They're patriots. They believe we're all in this thing together. But all the Republicans in the Senate said no." --Class-Warrior-in-Chief Barack Obama
"We have lost our ambition, our imagination, and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge." --Obama, blaming the American people at a fundraiser in San Francisco
New & Notable Legislation
The Senate this week completed work on an appropriations bill to fund the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Science, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development. The package, called the 3-in-1 minibus, combines three separate spending bills and will be voted on when the Senate returns from recess in November. The debate process reportedly went smoothly and stayed on schedule, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) waxed nostalgic for the good old days: "This is the way we did things in the past. It is difficult, but it moves legislation."
The minibus concept seems palatable to both Republicans and Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell likes it because it breaks spending bills into manageable pieces that can be debated and amended. Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense notes that the minibus appeals to Reid because it makes the Senate relevant on spending. However, the unusually smooth legislative process that led to the 3-in-1 minibus is unlikely to last. The Senate still has to debate the most controversial spending bills -- those funding health and human services, financial regulation and the environment. There will be more than enough floor fights as Republicans attempt to defund all the obstacles to an economic recovery -- ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, and the EPA juggernaut.
The next government shutdown is scheduled for Nov. 18, leaving little time to hammer out the rest of the budget with minibuses. Reid remains undeterred by the ticking clock, insisting on using valuable floor time to put up piecemeal bills related to Obama's jobs plan. To paraphrase the Majority Leader: This is the way we do things now. (And this from the man who hasn't passed a budget in more than 900 days.)
RNC vs. Florida
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is happy with the Republicans' new primary schedule. Up until this week, several states were battling for early placement in the schedule, instigated by Florida officials moving their primary from early March to Jan. 31. This led to an absurdly front-loaded schedule in which New Hampshire, obsessive about its first-in-the-nation status, threatened to move its primary to this December. Priebus lobbied to get the states back in line, but insists that Florida, along with New Hampshire and South Carolina, will lose half their delegates at the convention as a penalty for moving up their dates. Priebus promises that the punishment will stick, but the convention is taking place in Tampa. It's hard to believe that the RNC would embarrass Florida on its home turf, particularly when the state will figure prominently in the national contest.
Jindal Sweeps to Re-Election
Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal effectively won a second term last week when he claimed 65.8 percent of the vote in the Louisiana open primary. Under the state's election laws, his strong majority showing against nine other candidates negated the need for a general election in November. Jindal maintains a strong popular appeal in Louisiana for his continued work to clean up corruption, reduce taxes and move government jobs into the private sector. Additionally, unemployment under Jindal is down to about 7 percent, much better than the federal government's numbers. Perhaps that's why the national media has all but ignored his impressive victory. Jindal certainly thinks so. He says his record "runs contrary to the political thinking in Washington, which is about more spending and bigger government."
Gov. Jindal's success has inevitably led to speculation about whether he might appear next year as a vice presidential candidate, or in 2016 or 2020 as a presidential candidate. He's only 40, which leaves him plenty of time to decide what his next political move might be.
National Security
Warfront With Jihadistan: Iraq Withdrawal Is Official
Barack Obama has now made official the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year. While the Obama administration portrays this as the fulfillment of a campaign promise, the reality is quite different: A U.S. foreign policy dramatically weakened by a committed socialist. As U.S. and Iraqi negotiators struggled to reach an agreement on a continued U.S. presence in Iraq, Obama ignored the process. In fact, according to logs released by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, he never even tried to contact top Iraqi officials to help reach a deal. Given the high priority the U.S. had given to reaching an agreement, and given that even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other senior Pentagon officials spoke about the need for a continued presence in the volatile country, this dereliction of duty is inexcusable. Obama didn't even have the guts to vote "present."
Naturally, he's now claiming the withdrawal actually helped locate Osama bin Laden by allowing the military to refocus its assets on the al-Qa'ida leader. Yet according to a report in the May 3 New York Times, the crucial intelligence that allowed the U.S. to locate and kill bin Laden actually came from an al-Qa'ida operative who was captured in 2004 by U.S. forces in Iraq. If Obama had had his way, the U.S. would not have even been in Iraq in 2004 to gather this intelligence. To claim that abandoning Iraq is what led to finding bin Laden is preposterous.
Sitting back and watching this debacle is Iran. With many close ties within the Iraqi government, Iran watches and plots for Iraq to fall under its influence. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran not to view the U.S. withdrawal as an opportunity to exploit. "No one, most particularly Iran, should miscalculate about our continuing commitment to and with the Iraqis going forward," Clinton said with a straight face. No word yet on whether the Iranians have stopped laughing. This administration certainly hasn't given them reason to.
The French -- er, Arab -- Spring
The so-called "Arab Spring" was supposed to have ushered in a new wave of democracy and "freedom for all." In reality, the results resemble the French Revolution that literally left heads rolling in the street. A brief survey of fallen Arab regimes includes those of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, with Syria, Yemen, Jordan and perhaps Bahrain teetering. A number of others continue enduring constant protests as well as pressure from the rest of the Arab Spring movement. With Moammar Gadhafi dead, Libyans rightfully rejoice. Unfortunately, what makes anyone think the "new" Libyan regime will be different from the old one? What within these new regimes gives anyone under their charge hope that "things will be different this time"?
Without Rule of Law -- the concept that laws apply equally across the board to everyone, from the nation's leader to the lowliest citizen -- freedom is a dead letter. The American Founders understood this. They instituted a representative republic -- not a democracy -- wherein political power is vested in the people, and secured there by diffusing power throughout the government by applying the separation of powers doctrine: separating legislative, executive and judicial governmental functions. The Rule of Law issue returns us to the original question: What evidence exists that despotism is really dead in these new "Arab Spring" regimes? Has anyone evidenced any intent to implement time-tested Rule of Law principles among the ashes of any of these failed systems? Pardon our pessimism, but we have seen nothing to indicate progress toward civil government.
Perhaps a better question is, to what degree, if any, should the U.S. intervene in these restless cauldrons? While it's true we don't want to sit idly by while potential terrorist threats stake out turf from which to attack U.S. interests, we must also be careful in being the "world's policeman." Obama's intervention in a growing list of African nations hardly meets our nation's fundamental criterion of "vital interest."
From a Patriot's perspective the answer to most of these issues is straightforward. First, protect vital U.S. national interests. Second, do not intervene in civil wars unless those interests are genuinely at stake. Third, encourage development of Rule of Law representative governments. Fourth, keep the military out of the nation-building business. The military's job is to kill people and break things, so send them in only when State Department efforts fail. No one fully understands yet what "Arab Spring" means, but other than those populating much of our Executive and Legislative branches, most Americans understand "vital national interest."
What will the "Arab Spring" yield?
Business & Economy
Around the Nation: States Could Be in $4 Trillion Hole
Almost every state in the nation is required by law to balance its budget every year, Vermont being the lone exception. Yet according to figures compiled by the group State Budget Solutions, all 50 states are in debt, with California leading the way. The Golden State might be in the red by over $600 billion long-term if the most pessimistic pension liability calculations used by SBS are true. Interestingly, Vermont has the least debt, with only $6 billion in accrued liabilities.
In the case of many states, part of the problem stems from using Uncle Sam as a financial crutch during this last recession. Borrowers from a federal fund to ease the burden of spiraling unemployment benefits are again liable for both interest and repayment to the federal government, with California again leading the way by owing $8.6 billion. This payback most affects their short-term bottom lines.
Meanwhile, bean counters in some states are trying to limit the damage by trimming services, with Medicaid a prime target. Next April, Hawaii will limit Medicaid recipients to 10 hospital days a year in an effort to reduce costs. Other states have similar, but somewhat more generous, yearly limits on hospital stays, as health care funding gobbles up an increasing percentage of their budgets and competes with other outstanding obligations, such as those unfunded pension mandates for state retirees. Unfortunately, many states are considering the same old job-killing "solution" of raising taxes; the only question being which groups will be targeted.
Student Loan Debt Reaches $1 Trillion
We know the story well, thanks to Occupy Wall Street: A young person goes deeply into debt to attend a college, only to find upon graduation that the anticipated jobs aren't there. Many grads expected to walk from college right into a specific position, never considering the state of the economy. Many will accept nothing less than a dream job -- but their loans still need to be repaid. Multiply that story by millions of graduates and that's why, collectively, they owe about $1 trillion in loans, a sum that is now greater than the aggregate total of credit card debt. Moreover, federal law says student loans can't be discharged in bankruptcy proceedings.
The consequences are much more than monetary, although that albatross of debt around a graduate's neck is a hefty burden. New graduates are forced to wait longer to buy a car or a home, and they often must delay even such life choices as getting married or having children. That's one reason these adult children are staying in the parental nest for a much longer period of time -- at least when they're not sleeping in a park in a major city.
Yet the blame can't be placed solely on the colleges, the lenders, or even the government, which now controls the student-loan industry. In some respects, those who told our youth a college degree is the price of admission into the middle class -- regardless of how useful the degree is in the real world -- may have sold everyone a bill of goods. Obviously those in the ivory tower of academia weren't going to kill the golden goose of "free" money that's built a series of educational empires from coast to coast.
Furthermore, lost in all the hype about jobless graduates occupying Wall Street is a simple fact: The world still needs tradesman such as plumbers, electricians and other people who know how to make stuff and make it work. Those who made the choice for a less glamorous livelihood don't have the fancy trappings -- but they aren't saddled with the debt either. Call them the proud graduates of the school of hard knocks, where the tuition is paid with sweat equity but the experience they gain is priceless.
Are you still paying off your student loans?
Dealing With A Job in Itself?
In 2003, the website was created as a means to allow those who wanted to explore working for the government to search for jobs in various fields and post their resumés. Shrewdly, those in charge back then allowed a private contractor to set up the site, using a contractor that was already in the field of matching job seekers and employers. Overall, the site worked relatively well.
However, in 2010, the Obama administration decided to put the government back in charge. Imagine that. Eighteen months and $6 million later, the "new" debuted -- and promptly went down thanks to overwhelmed servers. That inauspicious debut only began a tide of complaints mainly revolving around the user-unfriendliness of the site and poor response from those government workers who deal with the customers. "Over one week now and I still haven't received my password reset email!" cried a user on the website's Facebook page. Presumably that user isn't finding any shovel-ready jobs in the meantime.
The old system worked fine, but someone, inspired by "change he could believe in," had the bright idea of wresting the website from the private sector and having the government run it, spending millions of borrowed dollars in the process. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Europe Dealing With Debt Crisis
"European leaders said they secured a deal to reduce Greece's debt after they labored overnight and into Thursday morning to find agreement on what they had billed as a blockbuster package to stem the Continent's debt crisis," reports The Wall Street Journal. "French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after the marathon negotiating session that the leaders had reached agreement with private banks on a 'voluntary' 50% reduction of Greece's debt in the hands of private investors." The nations further agreed to expand the European Financial Stability Facility, a bailout vehicle for the European Union, to roughly one trillion euros.
Greece, of course, is the lightning rod of Europe's overarching debt crisis -- a situation brought on by the same policies Barack Obama and his Democrat lemmings are enacting here in the U.S. European Union nations are now trying to rescue Greece in a desperate attempt to prevent the fall of more dominos. Obviously, the solution to Europe's -- or our own -- debt crisis is not to merely tax the rich or throw out debt, it's for nations to live within their means and expand economic freedom. Perhaps it will take collapse for some to learn that lesson. Sadly, though, any suggestion that we allow the free market free rein, such as not intervening in foreclosures as Mitt Romney suggested this week, results in a firestorm of protest from all the usual suspects.
The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace certainly hasn't learned. Long a source of Marxist teaching in the Catholic Church, the Council issued a statement, "Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems In The Context Of Global Public," calling for, in essence, the end of economic freedom in the world. According to Richard Viguerie of ConservativeHQ, "The plan, while couched in terms of a voluntary change for greater world good, would actually require that nations surrender their sovereignty to a new world body endowed with the authority to tax and manage all movement of capital between counties." It is tragic to watch as one of the very institutions that helped to bring down Soviet communism is now pushing globalist Marxism a scant 20 years later.

Culture & Policy
Second Amendment: A Win for Gun Rights in Canada
Canada has finally learned a lesson in liberty. This week, conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) introduced a bill to end Canada's long-gun registry and to destroy all the records that have amassed during the registry's history. National Post reports, "Since the long-gun registry came into force, lawful gun owners have faced increasing scrutiny from police authorities. The surveillance has increased particularly since the Firearms Registry database went online. In the second quarter of 2003, the database was searched 95,503 times by police. By the first quarter of 2011, the number of searches had reached nearly 1.3 million." The results have been harassment, arrest and even imprisonment.
One Toronto man recalls that police came to his home one night, led him into the street in his underwear, seized his properly licensed guns, and leveled 14 criminal offenses against him. It seems a prospective buyer touring the man's apartment had seen the guns and reported them to police. Also, a New Brunswick man brought his legally owned unloaded gun to a neighbor's house when drunken teenagers created a disturbance. The gun owner made a citizen's arrest of the teens, but soon after, he himself was arrested and jailed.
Tony Bernardo, executive director of the Canadian Sports Shooting Association, notes that the 144-page legislation at the root of the registry focuses on law-abiding citizens while not even mentioning criminal firearms use. According to MP Candice Hoeppner, who has championed the repeal, the registry has cost almost $2 billion -- money that should have gone toward targeting criminals. Should the repeal pass, law-abiding gun owners will be able to rest a bit easier north of the border, and Canadian police will be free to turn their attention to the real criminals.
What do you think of gun registries?
Faith and Family: Planned Parenthood and the Shredded Documents
It seems there's no end to the underhanded activities of Planned Parenthood. Not too long ago, its staffers were caught advising people they believed to be pimps and sex traffickers on how to circumvent the law. Now, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri is on trial for 23 felonious counts of "false writing." Specifically, the abortion provider is accused of falsifying the records of patients who have had late-term abortions. Prosecutors have revealed that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment shredded documents critical to the case. Coincidentally, at the time these crimes were committed, the governor of Kansas was none other than Barack Obama's Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.
The case began in 2003, when at the behest of pro-life groups the state investigated Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers for not reporting child rape. These providers are bound by state law to follow certain protocols: In addition to reporting child rape, they must keep detailed patient records and determine the viability of late-term fetuses to be aborted. They must also give these files to the health department. But when the state requested documents critical to their failure-to-report case, both the health department and Planned Parenthood dragged their heels. The health department caved in 2004, as did Planned Parenthood in 2006. However, this opened up an entirely different can of worms, for the files didn't match.
The state later learned that the original health department records had been shredded years earlier. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment neglected to mention this fact when it was refusing to comply with the state's demand. The agency claims it was a "routine shredding," but its long history of subterfuge says otherwise. The state now has until Nov. 9 to show that -- as the judge so eloquently put it -- Planned Parenthood "committed felonies to cover up misdemeanors." We think they have a good case.

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And Last...
Democrats are finally coming to realize that the Obama "brand" is badly damaged. As Roll Call reports, "In the latest battle in the Congressional franking wars, Democrats have been vetoing use of the word 'Obamacare' in taxpayer-financed mass mailings, saying it violates rules against using the franking privilege for 'personal, partisan or political reasons.'" The truth is, Democrats are concerned that Republicans' use of the word as a pejorative to refer to the "Affordable Care Act" is harmful to their 2012 election prospects. At least congressional Democrats are concerned; Obama himself embraced the term on the campaign trail in August, saying, "I have no problem with folks saying, 'Obama cares.'" Funny, but that's not what they're saying at all. Not using the shorthand presents another problem, as well: How in the world are they going to fit "The Affordable You-Have-To-Pass-It-To-Know-What's-In-It-And-If-You-Don't-Like-It-Here's-a-Waiver-Because-We-Care Act" on the stationery?
23092  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pamela Geller on: October 28, 2011, 09:13:39 PM
23093  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Beck finds gem of a clip for our GM on: October 28, 2011, 05:12:46 PM
23094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 28, 2011, 12:33:04 PM
Given Cain's cancer history, should he be nominated Rubio's (lack of) experience would get a lot of attention.
23095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: October 28, 2011, 12:31:26 PM
What we do NOT have here is a failure to communicate , , , on your part cheesy  I got all that entirely and if I failed to communicate that in return, my bad. smiley
23096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Pope's Engagement other religions on: October 28, 2011, 10:21:27 AM
By FRANCIS X. ROCCA Assisi, Italy

In this Umbrian hilltop city 25 years ago, Buddhists chanted to the accompaniment of gongs and drums, Zoroastrians tended a sacred fire, and an American Indian medicine man in traditional headdress smoked a peace pipe and called down the blessings of the "Great Spirit." In a moment that produced the day's most famous image, robed leaders of the world's major religions sat side by side under a sign bearing various translations of the word "peace."

The World Day of Prayer for Peace on Oct. 27, 1986, was of one of the most remarkable events in the spectacle-filled reign of Pope John Paul II. It epitomized that pontiff's historic opening to other faiths, the legacy of which is now known as the "Spirit of Assisi."

On Thursday, some 300 religious leaders returned to the city of St. Francis to join Pope Benedict XVI in commemorating his predecessor's gesture and renewing their commitment to the cause of peace. Yet this year's event differed in several ways that reflected the current pope's distinctive approach to interreligious dialogue.

The 1986 meeting at Assisi, for all its appeal to those of other persuasions, was far from universally popular among Catholics. Among its critics was then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's doctrinal office, who told an interviewer that Assisi "cannot be the model" for such encounters. The cardinal later wrote that "multireligious prayer" of the kind offered there "almost inevitably leads to false interpretations, to indifference as to the content of what is believed or not believed, and thus to the dissolution of real faith."

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Pope Benedict XVI with religious leaders at Saint Francis Basilica on Thursday in Assisi, Italy.
.Such prayer should occur only rarely, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, and to "make clear that there is no such thing . . . as a common concept of God or belief in God, that difference not merely exists in the realm of changing images and concepts" but in the substance of what different religions claim.

Of course, Cardinal Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict, so it was hardly surprising that this year's Assisi gathering would reflect his concerns about religious relativism. Not that everyone was on message: A Hindu swami declared that "truth is one" even though "professed in many different ways," and there were several invocations of one deity or another. Otherwise public prayer was conspicuously absent. Even this restrained display, however, was too much for the most intransigent opponents of ecumenism.

Followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the ultra-traditionalist who cited the first Assisi gathering as a major factor in his decision to break with Rome in 1988, are now considering a Vatican overture that would bring an end to more than two decades of schism. Yet a statement authorized by their current leader denounced this week's event as a "dreadful blasphemy toward God as well as an occasion of scandal for all on earth."

This year's gathering did draw another group traditionally resistant to the appeal of interfaith activity: those who profess no religion at all. Among the guests chosen to speak in Assisi's Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, along with the patriarch of Constantinople and the archbishop of Canterbury, was the Bulgarian-French psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva, one of four nonbelievers in attendance.

Benedict's decision to include agnostics, to whom he dedicated the conclusion of his address, was the choice most revealing of his priorities. In acknowledgment of their presence, Thursday's official program called for "reflection and/or prayer," and the day itself was rechristened one of "reflection, dialogue and prayer." Thus at a gathering of religious leaders, worship had become optional.

This change, redefining the group as united not by faith but by the desire for peace and justice, ruled out any interpretation of their meeting as an advertisement for religious syncretism. Even more importantly, opening the dialogue to nonreligious "seekers of the truth" underscored one of the major themes of Benedict's pontificate: the need for Western culture to restore its dialogue between faith and reason, and thus to rehabilitate the concept of objective truth in the realms of metaphysics and ethics.

This audacious goal has unsettling implications for Catholicism's relations with other faiths. After all, if religion is of more than merely subjective value, and if its many varieties are not just different expressions of the same reality, it follows that some religions are truer than others. And Benedict has never hidden his conviction of where the truth in its fullness lies.

However undiplomatic it may seem in certain contexts, Benedict's emphasis on objective truth is, by his lights, essential to the agenda for which he prayed in Assisi. As he told a European ambassador last week, social justice is based on norms accessible to all, derived not from divine revelation but from "reason and nature"—that is, from "universally applicable principles that are as real as the physical elements of the natural environment."

Mr. Rocca is Vatican correspondent for Religion News Service.

23097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on the Dec. of Ind., 1825 on: October 28, 2011, 10:14:55 AM
"This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, 1825
23098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Bahais on: October 28, 2011, 10:10:27 AM
Not to worry Baraq will give a speech on this, right after he gives one on the ongoing purge of the Coptic Christians in Egypt:

In some 40 years as a university professor, I have been privileged to teach students who went on to serve their people as senators, ambassadors, prominent scholars and even U.S. president. None of this would have been possible had I lived in my family's homeland of Iran. As a member of the Bahai faith, I would have been barred from teaching freely—and I might even have been imprisoned, as seven Bahai educators now are.

While many Iranian citizens are targets of repression by the current regime, the treatment of Bahais, the country's largest non-Muslim religious community, is a special case. Unlike Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, who have certain limited rights under the Islamic Constitution, Bahais were declared unprotected infidels immediately following the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Bahais have faced persecution in Iran since their religion was founded more than a century and a half ago, but it was never as systematic as in the last 30 years. Since the Islamic Revolution, more than 200 Bahai leaders have been put to death. The regime has outlawed Bahai institutions, confiscated their properties, desecrated their cemeteries, demolished their holy places. Bahais are subject to constant state-sanctioned pressure to recant their faith.

To stamp out that faith, Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamenei approved the so-called Golpaygani memorandum in 1991. Photo copies describing plans to slowly strangle Iran's Bahai community were made public by the United Nations in 1992. One measure was to deny Bahais entry to universities, thereby impoverishing them intellectually and economically.

Bahais had already begun educating their youth, founding what became known as the Bahai Institute for Higher Education in 1987. In Tehran and beyond, Bahai professors—unemployable elsewhere because of their membership in what the mullahs called "the deviant sect"—taught languages, biological sciences, civil engineering, literature and even music. Classes were held in private homes, labs were set up in garages, and the Internet eventually provided access to resources abroad.

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Members of the Bahai religion demonstrate in Rio de Janeiro in June for the release of seven Bahai prisoners.
.The institute avoided teaching about the Bahai faith or other religions, thus avoiding the possible accusation of proselytizing. It operated quietly but not secretly: No enterprise of such size—with thousands of students and hundreds of faculty—could be secret. No law prohibited instruction in languages, sciences, accounting and the like, so the institute didn't violate the letter or spirit of any law.

The institute's success frustrated the government. In spite of constant harassment, it achieved academic standards equal to or higher than those of state universities and was frequently recognized by foreign universities that admitted its students into masters and doctoral programs.

In 1996 and 1998, the regime raided homes where classes were held and confiscated equipment. In the second attack, agents of the Ministry of Information arrested 36 faculty and declared the institute closed. The regime demanded that the 36 sign a pledge not to cooperate with the institute. Not one complied.

The regime's latest assault began on May 22 with raids on 39 homes. Months later, widespread arrests and interrogations of faculty, staff and students continue.

This month, Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced seven Bahai faculty members to a combined 30 years behind bars. Meanwhile, a senior lawyer of theirs, Abdolfattah Soltani, remains incarcerated under suspicious circumstances.

Such repression is extreme but not isolated—Iran's regime targets other minorities as well as women, intellectuals and others. This makes many Iranians feel solidarity with their Bahai fellow citizens.

In an eloquent open letter to the Bahai community in 2009, 243 academics, writers, artists and human rights activists proclaimed, "As Iranian human beings we are ashamed for what has been perpetrated upon the Bahais in the last century and a half in Iran." That year, demonstrators on the streets of Tehran shouted slogans supporting religious minorities, including Bahais. Even Grand Ayatollah Montazeri—once an enemy of the Bahais—issued a fatwa to the effect that Bahais have every right accorded to Iranian citizens.

The rights of Iran's Bahais cannot be separated from the human rights of the general population. That journalists, artists and activists languish in jails; that students are excluded from universities based on their religion; that seven Bahai leaders have been condemned to prison for 20 years and seven Bahai educators now face a similar fate; that all Bahais are virtual outlaws in their native land—it's all part of a single assault on human dignity. One hopes the rest of the world won't close its eyes.

Mr. Kazemzadeh is professor emeritus of history at Yale and a former commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

23099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: 4 Reasons Keynesianism isn't working on: October 28, 2011, 10:00:44 AM
Those who heaped high praise on Keynesian policies have grown silent as government spending has failed to bring an economic recovery. Except for a few diehards who want still more government spending, and those who make the unverifiable claim that the economy would have collapsed without it, most now recognize that more than a trillion dollars of spending by the Bush and Obama administrations has left the economy in a slump and unemployment hovering above 9%.

Why is the economic response to increased government spending so different from the response predicted by Keynesian models? What is missing from the models that makes their forecasts so inaccurate? Those should be the questions asked by both proponents and opponents of more government spending. Allow me to suggest four major omissions from Keynesian models:

First, big increases in spending and government deficits raise the prospect of future tax increases. Many people understand that increased spending must be paid for sooner or later. Meanwhile, President Obama makes certain that many more will reach that conclusion by continuing to demand permanent tax increases. His demands are a deterrent for those who do most of the saving and investing. Concern over future tax rates is one of the main reasons for heightened uncertainty and reduced confidence. Potential investors hold cash and wait.

Second, most of the government spending programs redistribute income from workers to the unemployed. This, Keynesians argue, increases the welfare of many hurt by the recession. What their models ignore, however, is the reduced productivity that follows a shift of resources toward redistribution and away from productive investment. Keynesian theory argues that each dollar of government spending has a larger effect on output than a dollar of tax reduction. But in reality the reverse has proven true. Permanent tax reduction generates more expansion than increased government spending of the same dollars. I believe that the resulting difference in productivity is a main reason for the difference in results.

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 .Third, Keynesian models totally ignore the negative effects of the stream of costly new regulations that pour out of the Obama bureaucracy. Who can guess the size of the cost increases required by these programs? ObamaCare is not the only source of this uncertainty, though it makes a large contribution. We also have an excessively eager group of environmental regulators, protectors of labor unions, and financial regulators. Their decisions raise future costs and increase uncertainty. How can a corporate staff hope to estimate future return on new investment when tax rates and costs are unknowable? Holding cash and waiting for less uncertainty is the principal response. Thus, the recession drags on.

Fourth, U.S. fiscal and monetary policies are mainly directed at getting a near-term result. The estimated cost of new jobs in President Obama's latest jobs bill is at least $200,000 per job, based on administration estimates of the number of jobs and their cost. How can that appeal to the taxpayers who will pay those costs? Once the subsidies end, the jobs disappear—but the bonds that financed them remain and must be serviced. These medium and long-term effects are ignored in Keynesian models. Perhaps that's why estimates of the additional spending generated by Keynesian stimulus—the "multiplier effect"—have failed to live up to expectations.

The Federal Reserve, too, has long been overly concerned about the next quarter, never more than in the current downturn. Fears of a double-dip recession, fanned by Wall Street, have led to continued easing and seemingly endless near-zero interest rates. Here, too, uncertainty abounds. When will the Fed tell us how and when it is going to sell more than $1 trillion of mortgage-related securities? Will Fannie Mae, for example, have to buy them to hold down mortgage interest rates?

By now even the Fed should understand that we do not have a liquidity shortage. It has done more than enough by adding excess reserves beyond any reasonable amount. Instead of more short-term tinkering, it's time for a coherent program to start gradually reducing excess reserves.

Clearly, a more effective economic policy would aim at restoring the long-term growth rate by reducing uncertainty and restoring investor and consumer confidence. Here are four proposals to help get us there:

First, Congress and the administration should agree on a 10-year program of government spending cuts to reduce the deficit. The Ryan and Simpson-Bowles budget proposals are a constructive start. (Note to Republican presidential candidates: Permanent tax reduction can only be achieved by reducing government spending.)

Second, reduce corporate tax rates and expense capital investment by closing loopholes.

Third, announce a five-year moratorium on new regulations.

Fourth, adopt an enforceable 0%-2% inflation target to allay fears of future high inflation.

Now that the Keynesian euphoria has again faded, perhaps this administration—or more likely the next—will recognize the reasons for the failure and stop asking for more of the same.

Mr. Meltzer, a professor of public policy at the Tepper School, Carnegie Mellon University and a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is the author most recently of "Why Capitalism?" forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
23100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan nails it on: October 28, 2011, 09:03:42 AM
People are increasingly fearing the divisions within, even the potential coming apart of, our country. Rich/poor, black/white, young/old, red/blue: The things that divide us are not new, yet there's a sense now that the glue that held us together for more than two centuries has thinned and cracked with age. That it was allowed to thin and crack, that the modern era wore it out.

What was the glue? A love of country based on a shared knowledge of how and why it began; a broad feeling among our citizens that there was something providential in our beginnings; a gratitude that left us with a sense that we should comport ourselves in a way unlike the other nations of the world, that more was expected of us, and not unjustly—"To whom much is given much is expected"; a general understanding that we were something new in history, a nation founded on ideals and aspirations—liberty, equality—and not mere grunting tribal wants. We were from Europe but would not be European: No formal class structure here, no limits, from the time you touched ground all roads would lead forward. You would be treated not as your father was but as you deserved. That's from "The Killer Angels," a historical novel about the civil war fought to right a wrong the Founders didn't right. We did in time, and at great cost. What a country.

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 .But there is a broad fear out there that we are coming apart, or rather living through the moment we'll look back on as the beginning of the Great Coming Apart. Economic crisis, cultural stresses: "Half the country isn't speaking to the other half," a moderate Democrat said the other day. She was referring to liberals of her acquaintance who know little of the South and who don't wish to know of it, who write it off as apart from them, maybe beneath them.

To add to the unease, in New York at least, there's a lot of cognitive dissonance. If you are a New Yorker, chances are pretty high you hate what the great investment firms did the past 15 years or so to upend the economy. Yet you feel on some level like you have to be protective of them, because Wall Street pays the bills of the City of New York. Wall Street tax receipts and Wall Street business—restaurants, stores—keep the city afloat. So you want them up and operating and vital, you don't want them to leave—that would only make things worse for people in trouble, people just getting by, and young people starting out. You know you have to preserve them just when you'd most like to deck them.

Where is the president in all this? He doesn't seem to be as worried about his country's continuance as his own. He's out campaigning and talking of our problems, but he seems oddly oblivious to or detached from America's deeper fears. And so he feels free to exploit divisions. It's all the rich versus the rest, and there are a lot more of the latter.

Twenty twelve won't be "as sexy" as 2008, he said this week. It will be all brute force. Which will only add to the feeling of unease.

Occupy Wall Street makes an economic critique that echoes the president's, though more bluntly: the rich are bad, down with the elites. It's all ad hoc, more poetry slam than platform. Too bad it's not serious in its substance.

There's a lot to rebel against, to want to throw off. If they want to make a serious economic and political critique, they should make the one Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner make in "Reckless Endangerment": that real elites in Washington rigged the system for themselves and their friends, became rich and powerful, caused the great catering, and then "slipped quietly from the scene."

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.It is a blow-by-blow recounting of how politicians—Democrats and Republicans—passed the laws that encouraged the banks to make the loans that would never be repaid, and that would result in your lost job. Specifically it is the story of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage insurers, and how their politically connected CEOs, especially Fannie's Franklin Raines and James Johnson, took actions that tanked the American economy and walked away rich. It began in the early 1990s, in the Clinton administration, and continued under the Bush administration, with the help of an entrenched Congress that wanted only two things: to receive campaign contributions and to be re-elected.

The story is a scandal, and the book should be the bible of Occupy Wall Street. But they seem as incapable of seeing government as part of the problem as Republicans seem of seeing business as part of the problem.

Which gets us to Rep. Paul Ryan. Mr. Ryan receives much praise, but I don't think his role in the current moment has been fully recognized. He is doing something unique in national politics. He thinks. He studies. He reads. Then he comes forward to speak, calmly and at some length, about what he believes to be true. He defines a problem and offers solutions, often providing the intellectual and philosophical rationale behind them. Conservatives naturally like him—they agree with him—but liberals and journalists inclined to disagree with him take him seriously and treat him with respect.

This week he spoke on "The American Idea" at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. He scored the president as too small for the moment, as "petty" in his arguments and avoidant of the decisions entailed in leadership. At times like this, he said, "the temptation to exploit fear and envy returns." Politicians divide in order to "evade responsibility for their failures" and to advance their interests.

The president, he said, has made a shift in his appeal to the electorate. "Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment."

But Republicans, in their desire to defend free economic activity, shouldn't be snookered by unthinking fealty to big business. They should never defend—they should actively oppose—the kind of economic activity that has contributed so heavily to the crisis. Here Mr. Ryan slammed "corporate welfare and crony capitalism."

"Why have we extended an endless supply of taxpayer credit to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, instead of demanding that their government guarantee be wound down and their taxpayer subsidies ended?" Why are tax dollars being wasted on bankrupt, politically connected solar energy firms like Solyndra? "Why is Washington wasting your money on entrenched agribusiness?"

Rather than raise taxes on individuals, we should "lower the amount of government spending the wealthy now receive." The "true sources of inequity in this country," he continued, are "corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless." The real class warfare that threatens us is "a class of bureaucrats and connected crony capitalists trying to rise above the rest of us, call the shots, rig the rules, and preserve their place atop society."

If more Republicans thought—and spoke—like this, the party would flourish. People would be less fearful for the future. And Mr. Obama wouldn't be seeing his numbers go up.

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