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23151  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: toronto dbma training camp featuring Crafty Dog, Top Dog and Sled Dog Aug 21-23 on: July 02, 2009, 11:14:08 PM
Quite delighted to see who is coming  cool
23152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thought crimes on: July 02, 2009, 10:03:28 PM
Holder: Whites and Ministers will not be protected by proposed hate crimes legislatio

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://muffledoar.blogspot.com/

Attorney General Eric Holder testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 25 and gave startling testimony that means Christian ministers and whites will not be protected under the hate crimes statute proposed by the Department of Justice. Holder says that the proposed statute would only protect “traditional” victims of hate crimes, and then he goes on to name a series of Democratic Party constituencies.

Senator Sessions asks Holder about the scope of the protected classes. (Beginning at 58:43 – running through 60:09) Sessions presents a hypothetical where a minister gives a sermon, quotes the Bible about homosexuality and is thereafter attacked by a gay activist because of what the minister said about his religious beliefs and what scripture says about homosexuality.

Holder: “Well the statute would not necessarily cover that. On the other hand, I think the concern that actually has been expressed is if the action was reversed. . . . We are talking about, if in fact the person, we are talking about crimes that have a historic basis. Groups who have been targeted for violence as a result of their skin color, sexual orientation, that is what this legislation is designed to cover. The fact that someone might strike somebody as a result of pure speech, again, . . . we don’t have the indication that somebody was motivated to strike at somebody because they were in one of these protected classes. That would not be covered by the statute.”

Later, Senator Tom Coburn asks Holder if the muslim radical who killed army recruiter Pvt. Long committed a hate crime. Holder’s equivocation was disturbing. “There is a certain element of hate in that, I suppose.” He would suppose. You can see him “suppose” at minute 73:00.

Then Holder goes on to list the only groups intended to be protected by the proposed law. This is racial identity politics taking a sinister turn. Holder explicitly says the proposed law only protects classes “where there is a history” of violence against those groups. “What we are looking for here in terms of expansion of the statute are instances where there is a historic basis. See, groups of people who are singled out for violence perpetrated against them because of who they are. I don’t know if we have the same historical record to say members of our military have been targeted in the same way that people who are African American, people who are Jewish, people who are gay, have been targeted over the many years.” (minute 73:00-74:00)

Based on Holder’s testimony, it is clear that the law would not protect white victims who were attacked because of their race by racial minorities. Holder’s testimony explicitly excluded prosecution of the gay activist who attacks a Christian minister or priest because of his sermon on homosexuality, but the legislation protects the gay activist when he is attacked. This is a dangerous development to our laws and our nation. One of the most fundamental principles in the founding of this nation was that all are created equal. A bloody Civil War was fought to sustain it. No group enjoys privileged status over the other. Once the Department can decide to protect certain individuals for crimes, and not others, those not protected will lose faith in the system. Loss of faith in the system is more than a simple inconvenience. Confidence that laws are enforced fairly and equally preserves peace and prosperity. Lawlessness ensues when the law is perceived as a weapon against certain groups for the benefit of other groups. It is not enough to simply point to a bundle of statistics or history, or to Matthew Sheppard, to justify unfairness in the law.
__________________
If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”—Samuel Adams
23153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Long Legged Mack Daddy and Riotin' White People on: July 02, 2009, 06:26:07 PM


The unique Dr. Manning  cheesy cheesy cheesy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hFiab7fjak
23154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Waziristan on: July 02, 2009, 02:37:25 PM
My third post of the day:

Pakistan: Expanding the Waziristan Offensive
Stratfor Today » July 1, 2009 | 2112 GMT

ROSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
A Pakistani soldier at a checkpoint outside of Wana, South Waziristan on June 22Summary
The Pakistani military distributed pamphlets in the restive agency of North Waziristan urging locals to cooperate in the fight against Taliban militants. The move comes as the military seeks to launch a narrowly focused operation against the Pakistani Taliban network of Baitullah Mehsud rather than the broader jihadist movement operating within Pakistan’s borders. The Mehsud network, however, will do all they can to force the military to broaden its operation, thereby stretching it to the limit.

Analysis
Pakistani army helicopters dropped pamphlets July 1 in Miramshah, the capital of North Waziristan Agency, urging locals to fully cooperate with the military against local Taliban elements. The pamphlet stressed that the Pakistani army has no plans to expand its military offensive to North Waziristan, but that it does reserve the right to attack militants who target the army. The text added, “The army guarantees protection from internal and external enemies and its security is the security of Islamic Republic of Pakistan; therefore, you should support Pakistan Army.”

Pakistan has ample reason to be concerned about North Waziristan right now. The Pakistani army is still engaged in intensive cleanup operations in Swat and surrounding areas within the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has formed a habit of making rather sensational claims that the Swat, Malakand, Mingora, Kalam and Buner areas have been cleared completely of Taliban as part of a wider propaganda effort by the state to bolster public support for military operations. But the reality on the ground is much more complex, and Pakistani troops currently have limited capacity to hold their ground in the NWFP and at the same time turn their attention to the next big offensive in the lawless tribal area of South Waziristan along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.





Click image to enlarge
South Waziristan is where top Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-i-Taliban network is based, along with a number of al Qaeda-linked jihadists. Afghan Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani also uses this area as a launchpad for attacks against U.S., NATO and Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan. In the Waziristan operation, named Operation Rah-i-Nijat (Salvation Path), Pakistan is primarily concerned with Mehsud and his Pakistani Taliban allies who have turned against the state and have demonstrated a capability to reach beyond the autonomous tribal areas to carry out spectacular suicide attacks in the heart of Pakistan, including the urban areas of Lahore.

Though the United States would prefer otherwise, the Pakistani army has no intentions of expanding its military offensive to the Haqqani network and other Afghan Taliban whose militant focus lies across the border in Afghanistan. The Pakistani military has long sought to distinguish between a “good” and “bad” Taliban to avoid having every Pashtun in its northwest become a potential enemy. As far as Islamabad is concerned, there are still Islamist militants operating in Pakistani borders who can be considered assets rather than enemies of the state.

Operation Rah-i-Nijat is thus designed to be extremely limited in scope. This is a significant contrast to the Swat operation in the NWFP, which borders the Punjabi heartland and is still formally integrated into Pakistan’s provincial structure. Whereas the Pakistani military now understands the need to flush the Taliban out of the NWFP, the autonomous tribal regions to the west pose a far greater challenge in terms of political, social and economic integration. Moreover, Pakistani Taliban have done their part to eliminate scores of pro-government tribal elders and chiefs whom Islamabad desperately needs to carry out these military operations and bar the Taliban from setting up parallel governments. In spite of these obstacles, the Pakistani military understands the need at the very least to target Mehsud’s network to protect the Pakistani core from the country’s largest and most capable Taliban grouping.

The Pakistani military is currently focused on the first phase of the operation, the intelligence war, against Mehsud in Waziristan. This involves Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officers mapping out which tribal chiefs and elders it can count on to support a conventional assault in the region so the army can whittle down Mehsud’s base of operations and his escape routes. One such escape route would run through the mountains of North Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan’s restive Khost province, where the Pakistani army has much stronger relationships with tribal chieftains than it does in South Waziristan. As long as the Pakistani army can lock down support in North Waziristan, the more capable it will be in interdicting the flow of fleeing Taliban from the southern areas.

But major flaws in this strategy are already coming to light. Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur scrapped a peace deal June 30 signed in mid-February 2008 with the state. That peace deal had the approval of a grand jirga consisting of 286 tribal elders from the Dawar and Wazir subtribes of the Utmanzai tribe in North Waziristan, thus providing the Pakistani military with a tribal barrier to Taliban infiltration. Mehsud and his Taliban brethren, however, were two steps ahead of the army and appear to have succeeded in bringing Gul Bahadur back to their side. Three major attacks in the area — a massive kidnapping of more than 500 students from the Razmak Cadet college June 1, two ambushes on military convoys with improvised explosive devices on Miramshah-Mir Ali road June 26 and another major attack on a 250-member convoy in North Waziristan’s Madakhel area June 28 — all bear Gul Bahadur’s fingerprints. It thus comes as no surprise that the Taliban commander called off the peace deal June 30 to drive home the message to the Pakistani military that the military’s support network in North Waziristan is no longer intact.

Seeing its South Waziristan operation in danger, the Pakistani military has now gone into high gear to try and salvage public support in North Waziristan. The pamphlets are just one of several ways the army is trying to reassure locals that it has no intentions of expanding the offensive to their area and that they are better off remaining on the state’s side.

Speculation is already spreading that the army may have no choice but to expand the scope of the Waziristan operation to the north now that Gul Bahadur has drawn a line in the sand. Still, the Pakistani military would greatly prefer to keep North Waziristan out of artillery range. Expanding the operation to North Waziristan, Balochistan and Kurram agency — all areas where militants are likely to flee — will only stretch the military in multiple directions. And this is exactly what Mehsud’s network is aiming for.

From Mehsud’s point of view, having the government expand its operation not only will take some heat off of his own militant enclaves, it also could well turn tribal loyalties against the state. Moreover, stretching the military operation in the tribal belt also could compel battle-hardened Afghan Taliban hiding out in Pakistan to back up their Pakistani Taliban brethren once they see their own strongholds come under direct threat.

Between cleaning up in and around Swat and struggling to lay the groundwork for an offensive in Waziristan, the problems are mounting for the Pakistani military. Mehsud is clearly waging his own intelligence war to protect key escape routes, divert the military’s focus and transform the state’s allies into enemies. Meanwhile, Pakistani forces are up against the clock to knock the legs out from under Mehsud while public morale is still swinging in favor of the military. While this operation was designed to be narrow in scope, the Pakistani Taliban network has every intent of stretching the military to the limit.
23155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / South Bay Tea Party on: July 02, 2009, 12:44:36 PM
South Bay Tea Party Web Site
1. JULY 17th Event
2. Letter from Nathan
3. Action Item from California Tea Party Patriots.
July 17th - Demonstrate our Support of Free Market Health Care:
We have nation changing issues of Socialized Medicine at a cost that will enslave your children for a generation. OR if the government limits the price (salaries) artificially then who is going to study for 7 to 14 years to become a doctor when they could do something else, so we will have much worse health care in the end. OR they will have to limit procedures, so less needed health care and only to those that the government approves of.




When: July 17, 2009, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM Friday evening rush hour.

Where:

On the sidewalk in front of Jane Harman's Office

2321 E. Rosecrans Avenue

El Segundo, CA 90245

What: Bring signs protesting Socialized Medicine, and in support.

How: Obey all peace officers. But make a difference. Bring a friend. Parking is all around, and you can even pay to park in Jane's building.




Click Here To Respond for the Event and to Take a Survey

Have your friends sign up to our email notifications here

Note from Nathan Mintz:
Dear Tea Party Patriots,

Liberals in Washington have already begun spinning up their plans for passing socialized medicine quietly through congress in coming weeks. Like our health care was being auctioned off to the most inefficient bidder, we have stood by and watched as the (lowball) price tag for this has risen from 600 billion, to 1 trillion, to now 1.6 trillion. With this on top of the 10 trillion dollars in printed money we have to look forward to in the next 10 years, Barack Obama seems determined to ensure his place in history as the nationalizer-in-chief.

With Democrats holding a near filibuster proof majority in the Senate and some moderate Republicans,like Susan Collins of Maine, in danger of waffling on this most critical issue, what can be done to confront this seemingly unstoppable Juggernaut?

As Tea Party organizers, we won't stand idly by and watch as Liberals try to ruin an industry that works well for 80% of Americans, by replacing it with a clinical DMV. We know that the real problem with health care is largely one created by government, which is already responsible for between 45% to 56% of US health care spending. That's right- the government is the largest spender on health care already, so its hard to see how getting them more involved will reduce the cost.

We need your help: Doctors, Nurses, health care professionals, we know that you face the real problems in health care everyday. We need your words, stories and anecdotes to help make the public case that in this case, government is not the solution, but part of the problem. We need your participation in a push across local print media to help voice vehement opposition against this usurpation of another critical American industry and help do our part locally to oppose this horrible plan.

Please contact either Nathan or Gary with your thoughts or desire to help.

Thanks,

Nathan Mintz

Chairman

South Bay Tea Party

California Tea Party Patriots Organization:
This is an emergency request for all California Tea Party Patriots to speak out through massive phone calls and prevent the legislature from passing huge tax increases. We defeated them at the polls, and now they intend to just circumvent us. The disdain they have for us is palpable, and they intend to shove taxes down our throats whether we support them or not.




So we have a plan...


CALL YOUR LEGISLATOR! BIG VOTE ON HIGHER TAXES IMMINENT

Our contacts in the Capitol say that they are being bombarded with calls, visits and emails from unions and various types of welfare recipients and labor union shills demanding higher taxes. A vote is expected to take place TOMORROW or WEDNESDAY. We need to make our voices heard too.

THE PROPOSAL
As if the politicians have suddenly forgotten that California voters just rejected higher taxes by nearly 2 to 1, Democrats in the legislature are now pushing for higher car taxes, tobacco taxes, oil taxes and more.

Now on the table are these so-called “revenue enhancements”

$2 BILLION IN OIL TAXES. With gas prices already approaching $3 a gallon, this will hurt anyone who drives

$1.50 A PACK CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE. This scheme would try to make smokers pay for the politician’s mistakes. In reality, people will find ways around it or stop smoking. When the revenue does not materialize, then the pressure will be on to raise other taxes.

$15 CAR TAX HIKE. Car tax increases got Gray Davis recalled and were a part of the reason Prop. 1A was rejected. What part of "NO" don’t they understand? We the people spoke loud and clear, but they are still not listening!

There are also various accounting gimmicks and a proposal to drain the reserve fund. This is not the answer. We need real reforms to save our state. Cut the wasteful spending, trim the bloated bureaucracy, get rid of boards and commissions that do nothing, address a prison system that costs us twice as much per inmate as paid by other states.


HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF HEARD
Raising taxes requires a 2/3 vote. This protects taxpayers from the problem of two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. The Democratic legislators are all expected to support the tax increases, but they cannot go ahead with their plans without Republican support. We need to urge the Republican legislators to stay strong.

All legislators claim to welcome input from citizens, so feel free to share your opinions with the Democratic politicians as well. If you are a Democrat, be sure to tell them.

See the No New Taxes site for a list of legislators. Republican names are in red, Democrats are in blue.


FIND YOUR OWN LEGISLATOR
Click on this link, it will find out for you by asking for your zip code:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html


Let them know that you OPPOSE ANY KIND OF TAX INCREASE and SUPPORT FUNDAMENTAL REFORMS THAT REIN IN SPENDING BY CUTTING OUT THE WASTE FRAUD AND ABUSE.


NO NEW TAXES WEBSITE TOTALLY OVERHAULED: CHECK OUT
http://www.nonewtaxes.net
The NNT site has been totally overhauled. Now, there is a wealth of news and press releases for you to read as well as a great video of an SEIU representative threatening the legislature.

If you have not yet seen it, see the Darrell Steinberg “translation” page where you can see a video of him and tell you what he is really saying. Direct link to that here: http://www.nonewtaxes.net/steinberg.htm

Please forward this to all of your local lists so that we make the maximum impact possible on the legislature, and prevent them from proceeding with this travesty.

Tea Party Patriots

www.TeaPartyPatriots.org

23156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We still hold these truths , , , on: July 02, 2009, 11:54:43 AM
Independence Day 2009: We still hold these truths...
"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" --Patrick Henry

As we celebrate the 233rd year of our Declaration of Independence, let us look at the common parlance associated with the polar spectrum of current political ideology (while such a review is still permitted by the state), and explore what is meant by "Left versus Right," "Liberal versus Conservative" and "Tyranny versus Liberty"?


Tyranny v. Liberty (poster available at PatriotShop.US)

First, a little history.

On July 4th of 1776, our Founders, assembled as representatives to the Second Continental Congress, issued a declaration stating most notably: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

In other words, our Founders affirmed that our rights, which are inherent by Natural Law as provided by our Creator, can't be arbitrarily alienated by men like England's King George III, who believed that the rights of men are the gifts of government.

Our Founders publicly declared their intentions to defend these rights by attaching their signatures between July 4th and August 2nd of 1776 to the Declaration. They and their fellow Patriots pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor as they set about to defend the Natural Rights of man.

At the conclusion of the American War for Independence in 1783, our Founders determined the new nation needed a more suitable alliance among the states than the Articles of Confederation. After much deliberation, they proposed the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1787, ratified in 1788 and implemented in 1789 as subordinate guidance to our Declaration of Independence.

Since that time, generations of American Patriots have laid down their lives "to support and defend" our Constitution -- and I would note here that their sacred oath says nothing about a so-called "Living Constitution" as advocated by the political left.

Given that bit of history as a backdrop, consider the lexicography of our current political ideology.

On the dark side of the spectrum would be Leftists, liberals and tyrants.

(Sidebar: One should not confuse "classical liberalism" with "contemporary liberalism." The former refers to those, like Thomas Jefferson, who advocated individual liberty, while the latter refers to those, like Barack Hussein Obama, who advocate statism, which is the antithesis of liberty.)

Statism, as promoted by contemporary American liberals, has as its objective the establishment of a central government authorized as the arbiter of all that is "good" for "the people" -- and conferring upon the State ultimate control over the most significant social manifestation of individual rights, economic enterprise.

On the left, all associations between individuals ultimately augment the power and control of the State. The final expression and inevitable terminus of such power and control, if allowed to progress unabated, is tyranny.

The word "tyranny" is derived from the Latin "tyrannus," which translates to "illegitimate ruler."

Liberals, then, endeavor to undermine our nation's founding principles in order to achieve their statist objectives. However, politicians who have taken an oath to "support and defend" our Constitution, but then govern in clear defiance of that oath, are nothing more than illegitimate rulers, tyrants.

 
(Sidebar: Some Leftists contend that Communism and Fascism are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Properly understood, however, both of these forms of government are on the left, because both have as a common end the establishment of an omnipotent state led by a dictator.)

Over on the "right wing" of the political spectrum, where the light of truth shines, would be "conservatives," from the Latin verb "conservare," meaning to preserve, protect and defend -- in this case, our Constitution.

American conservatives are those who seek to conserve our nation's First Principles, those who advocate for individual liberty, constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, strong national defense and traditional American values.

Contemporary political ideology is thus defined by tyrannus and conservare occupying the Left and Right ends of the American political spectrum, defining the difference between liberals and conservatives.

Though there are many devoted protagonists at both ends of this scale, the space in between is littered with those who, though they identify with one side or the other, are not able to articulate the foundation of that identity. That is to say, they are not rooted in liberal or conservative doctrine, but motivated by contemporaneous political causes associated with the Left or Right. These individuals do not describe themselves as "liberal" or "conservative" but as Democrat or Republican. Further, they tend to elect ideologically ambivalent politicians who are most adept at cultivating special interest constituencies.

That having been said, however, there is a major difference between those on the Left and the Right, as demonstrated by our most recent national elections. Those on the Left tend to form a more unified front for the purpose of electability; they tend to embrace a "win at all costs" philosophy, while those on the right tend to spend valuable political capital drawing distinctions between and among themselves.

I would suggest that this disparity is the result of the contest between human nature and Natural Law.

The Left appeals to the most fundamental human instincts to procure comfort, sustenance and shelter, and to obtain those basic needs by the most expedient means possible. The Left promises that the State will attain those needs equally, creating a path of least resistance for that fulfillment.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Right promotes the tenets of Natural Law -- individual liberty and its attendant requirements of personal responsibility and self-reliance.

Clearly, one of these approaches is far easier to sell to those who have been systematically dumbed down by government educational institutions and stripped of their individual dignity by the plethora of government welfare programs.

That easy sell notwithstanding, the threat of tyranny can eventually produce an awakening among the people and a reversal of trends toward statism. But this reversal depends on the emergence of a charismatic, moral leader who can effectively advocate for liberty. (Ronald Wilson Reagan comes to mind.)

For some nations, this awakening has come too late. The most notable examples in the last century are Russia, Germany, Italy and China, whose peoples suffered greatly under the statist tyrannies they came to embrace. In Germany and Italy, the state collapsed after its expansionist designs were forcibly contained. In Russia, the state collapsed under the weight of 70 years of economic centralization and ideological expansionism.

The Red Chinese regime, having witnessed the collapse of the USSR, has so far avoided its own demise by combining an autocratic government with components of a free enterprise economic system. (My contacts in China, including that nation's largest real estate developers and investment fund managers, believe the Red regime will be gone within five years.)

Of course, there exists an American option for the rejection of tyranny: Revolution. And it is an essential option, because the Natural Rights of man are always at risk of contravention by tyrants. At no time in the last century has our Republic faced a greater threat from "enemies, domestic" than right now.

"Our individual salvation," insists Barack Obama, "depends on collective salvation." In other words, BHO's tyranny, et al, must transcend Constitutional authority. And in accordance with his despotic ideals, Obama is now implementing "the fundamental transformation of the United States of America" that he promised his cadre of liberal voters.

It is yet to be seen whether the current trend toward statism will be reversed by the emergence of a great conservative leader, or by revolution, but if you're betting on another Ronald Reagan, I suggest you hedge your bet.

Our Declaration's author, Thomas Jefferson, understood the odds. He wrote, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground," and he concluded, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Accordingly, George Washington advised, "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."

Indeed we must.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US
23157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / We still hold these truths , , , on: July 02, 2009, 11:52:48 AM
Independence Day 2009: We still hold these truths...
"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" --Patrick Henry

As we celebrate the 233rd year of our Declaration of Independence, let us look at the common parlance associated with the polar spectrum of current political ideology (while such a review is still permitted by the state), and explore what is meant by "Left versus Right," "Liberal versus Conservative" and "Tyranny versus Liberty"?


Tyranny v. Liberty (poster available at PatriotShop.US)

First, a little history.

On July 4th of 1776, our Founders, assembled as representatives to the Second Continental Congress, issued a declaration stating most notably: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

In other words, our Founders affirmed that our rights, which are inherent by Natural Law as provided by our Creator, can't be arbitrarily alienated by men like England's King George III, who believed that the rights of men are the gifts of government.

Our Founders publicly declared their intentions to defend these rights by attaching their signatures between July 4th and August 2nd of 1776 to the Declaration. They and their fellow Patriots pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor as they set about to defend the Natural Rights of man.

At the conclusion of the American War for Independence in 1783, our Founders determined the new nation needed a more suitable alliance among the states than the Articles of Confederation. After much deliberation, they proposed the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1787, ratified in 1788 and implemented in 1789 as subordinate guidance to our Declaration of Independence.

Since that time, generations of American Patriots have laid down their lives "to support and defend" our Constitution -- and I would note here that their sacred oath says nothing about a so-called "Living Constitution" as advocated by the political left.

Given that bit of history as a backdrop, consider the lexicography of our current political ideology.

On the dark side of the spectrum would be Leftists, liberals and tyrants.

(Sidebar: One should not confuse "classical liberalism" with "contemporary liberalism." The former refers to those, like Thomas Jefferson, who advocated individual liberty, while the latter refers to those, like Barack Hussein Obama, who advocate statism, which is the antithesis of liberty.)

Statism, as promoted by contemporary American liberals, has as its objective the establishment of a central government authorized as the arbiter of all that is "good" for "the people" -- and conferring upon the State ultimate control over the most significant social manifestation of individual rights, economic enterprise.

On the left, all associations between individuals ultimately augment the power and control of the State. The final expression and inevitable terminus of such power and control, if allowed to progress unabated, is tyranny.

The word "tyranny" is derived from the Latin "tyrannus," which translates to "illegitimate ruler."

Liberals, then, endeavor to undermine our nation's founding principles in order to achieve their statist objectives. However, politicians who have taken an oath to "support and defend" our Constitution, but then govern in clear defiance of that oath, are nothing more than illegitimate rulers, tyrants.

 
(Sidebar: Some Leftists contend that Communism and Fascism are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Properly understood, however, both of these forms of government are on the left, because both have as a common end the establishment of an omnipotent state led by a dictator.)

Over on the "right wing" of the political spectrum, where the light of truth shines, would be "conservatives," from the Latin verb "conservare," meaning to preserve, protect and defend -- in this case, our Constitution.

American conservatives are those who seek to conserve our nation's First Principles, those who advocate for individual liberty, constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, strong national defense and traditional American values.

Contemporary political ideology is thus defined by tyrannus and conservare occupying the Left and Right ends of the American political spectrum, defining the difference between liberals and conservatives.

Though there are many devoted protagonists at both ends of this scale, the space in between is littered with those who, though they identify with one side or the other, are not able to articulate the foundation of that identity. That is to say, they are not rooted in liberal or conservative doctrine, but motivated by contemporaneous political causes associated with the Left or Right. These individuals do not describe themselves as "liberal" or "conservative" but as Democrat or Republican. Further, they tend to elect ideologically ambivalent politicians who are most adept at cultivating special interest constituencies.

That having been said, however, there is a major difference between those on the Left and the Right, as demonstrated by our most recent national elections. Those on the Left tend to form a more unified front for the purpose of electability; they tend to embrace a "win at all costs" philosophy, while those on the right tend to spend valuable political capital drawing distinctions between and among themselves.

I would suggest that this disparity is the result of the contest between human nature and Natural Law.

The Left appeals to the most fundamental human instincts to procure comfort, sustenance and shelter, and to obtain those basic needs by the most expedient means possible. The Left promises that the State will attain those needs equally, creating a path of least resistance for that fulfillment.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Right promotes the tenets of Natural Law -- individual liberty and its attendant requirements of personal responsibility and self-reliance.

Clearly, one of these approaches is far easier to sell to those who have been systematically dumbed down by government educational institutions and stripped of their individual dignity by the plethora of government welfare programs.

That easy sell notwithstanding, the threat of tyranny can eventually produce an awakening among the people and a reversal of trends toward statism. But this reversal depends on the emergence of a charismatic, moral leader who can effectively advocate for liberty. (Ronald Wilson Reagan comes to mind.)

For some nations, this awakening has come too late. The most notable examples in the last century are Russia, Germany, Italy and China, whose peoples suffered greatly under the statist tyrannies they came to embrace. In Germany and Italy, the state collapsed after its expansionist designs were forcibly contained. In Russia, the state collapsed under the weight of 70 years of economic centralization and ideological expansionism.

The Red Chinese regime, having witnessed the collapse of the USSR, has so far avoided its own demise by combining an autocratic government with components of a free enterprise economic system. (My contacts in China, including that nation's largest real estate developers and investment fund managers, believe the Red regime will be gone within five years.)

Of course, there exists an American option for the rejection of tyranny: Revolution. And it is an essential option, because the Natural Rights of man are always at risk of contravention by tyrants. At no time in the last century has our Republic faced a greater threat from "enemies, domestic" than right now.

"Our individual salvation," insists Barack Obama, "depends on collective salvation." In other words, BHO's tyranny, et al, must transcend Constitutional authority. And in accordance with his despotic ideals, Obama is now implementing "the fundamental transformation of the United States of America" that he promised his cadre of liberal voters.

It is yet to be seen whether the current trend toward statism will be reversed by the emergence of a great conservative leader, or by revolution, but if you're betting on another Ronald Reagan, I suggest you hedge your bet.

Our Declaration's author, Thomas Jefferson, understood the odds. He wrote, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground," and he concluded, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Accordingly, George Washington advised, "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."

Indeed we must.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US
23158  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Josh Koshchek on: July 02, 2009, 11:13:48 AM
Josh Koshchek:  Discuss strengths and weaknesses please.  Any footage of him fighting?

23159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / French show some brass, AQ annoyed on: July 02, 2009, 09:21:09 AM
Al Qaeda vows revenge over France's plan to ban the burqa

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Al Qaeda vows 'dreadful revenge' on France over plans to ban the burqa

By Ian Sparks
Last updated at 11:02 PM on 01st July 2009


Al Qaeda terrorists have vowed to 'wreak dreadful revenge' on France over its plans to ban the burkha.

The chilling warning comes after President Nicolas Sarkozy said the Islamic garment which covers the head and body 'debases women' and is not welcome in his country.

French MPs have set up a commission to decide if it should be made illegal for women to hide their faces in public.

Now leaders of Al Qaeda's North African network have called on French Muslims to react 'with the utmost hostility'.

One Islamic extremist website carried the message: 'We will seek dreadful revenge on France by all means at our disposal, for the honour of our daughters and sisters.

'Our Mujahadin followers must not remain silent in the face of such provocation and such injustice.'

The call for an inquiry into burkhas was made two weeks ago by Left-wing deputy Andre Gerin, who described them as 'mobile prisons'.

He said: 'We find it intolerable to see images of these imprisoned women when they come from Iran, Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.

'Today in many cities, we see several Muslim women wearing the burkha, which covers and fully envelops the body and the head, or the niqab which allows only the eyes to be shown. They are totally unacceptable on the territory of the French republic.'

President Sarkozy supported a ban, saying: 'These head and body covers make women prisoners and deprive them of their identity.

'The burkha is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement.

'I say solemnly that it will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.'

Paris Mosque leader Dalil Boubakeur supported the proposal for a commission, adding: 'There is a growing number of women wearing the burkha in France, which could be taken as a sign that some fundamentalist trends are gaining ground.

'But any official debate on this issue should be on the condition that they listen to what the experts on Islam have to say on the issue.'

In 2004, France - which is home to Europe's largest Muslim population of five million - banned school pupils from wearing veils and other religious symbols as part of the government's drive to defend secularism.

Last year, the country's highest court refused to grant French citizenship to a Moroccan woman who wears a burkha on the grounds that her Muslim practices were incompatible with French gender equality and secularism laws.

Reacting to the Al Qaeda terror threat, a French government spokesman said: 'Our security services will remain on their continuously high level of vigilance against any threat to security in France.'

The commission of 58 MPs is expected to announce its decision later this year on whether a law should be passed to ban the burkha.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worl...an-burqa.html#
23160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Declaration of Independence on: July 02, 2009, 09:06:44 AM
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
23161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson and ciphers/codes on: July 02, 2009, 08:47:22 AM
second post
WSJ

By RACHEL EMMA SILVERMAN
For more than 200 years, buried deep within Thomas Jefferson's correspondence and papers, there lay a mysterious cipher -- a coded message that appears to have remained unsolved. Until now.

The cryptic message was sent to President Jefferson in December 1801 by his friend and frequent correspondent, Robert Patterson, a mathematics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. President Jefferson and Mr. Patterson were both officials at the American Philosophical Society -- a group that promoted scholarly research in the sciences and humanities -- and were enthusiasts of ciphers and other codes, regularly exchanging letters about them.

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University of Pennsylvania Archives
 
Robert Patterson
In this message, Mr. Patterson set out to show the president and primary author of the Declaration of Independence what he deemed to be a nearly flawless cipher. "The art of secret writing," or writing in cipher, has "engaged the attention both of the states-man & philosopher for many ages," Mr. Patterson wrote. But, he added, most ciphers fall "far short of perfection."

To Mr. Patterson's view, a perfect code had four properties: It should be adaptable to all languages; it should be simple to learn and memorize; it should be easy to write and to read; and most important of all, "it should be absolutely inscrutable to all unacquainted with the particular key or secret for decyphering."

Mr. Patterson then included in the letter an example of a message in his cipher, one that would be so difficult to decode that it would "defy the united ingenuity of the whole human race," he wrote.

There is no evidence that Jefferson, or anyone else for that matter, ever solved the code. But Jefferson did believe the cipher was so inscrutable that he considered having the State Department use it, and passed it on to the ambassador to France, Robert Livingston.

The cipher finally met its match in Lawren Smithline, a 36-year-old mathematician. Dr. Smithline has a Ph.D. in mathematics and now works professionally with cryptology, or code-breaking, at the Center for Communications Research in Princeton, N.J., a division of the Institute for Defense Analyses.

A couple of years ago, Dr. Smithline's neighbor, who was working on a Jefferson project at Princeton University, told Dr. Smithline of Mr. Patterson's mysterious cipher.

Dr. Smithline, intrigued, decided to take a look. "A problem like this cipher can keep me up at night," he says. After unlocking its hidden message in 2007, Dr. Smithline articulated his puzzle-solving techniques in a recent paper in the magazine American Scientist and also in a profile in Harvard Magazine, his alma mater's alumni journal.

The "Perfect" Cipher?
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The 1801 letter from Robert Patterson to Thomas Jefferson The code, Mr. Patterson made clear in his letter, was not a simple substitution cipher. That's when you replace one letter of the alphabet with another. The problem with substitution ciphers is that they can be cracked by using what's termed frequency analysis, or studying the number of times that a particular letter occurs in a message. For instance, the letter "e" is the most common letter in English, so if a code is sufficiently long, whatever letter appears most often is likely a substitute for "e."

Because frequency analysis was already well known in the 19th century, cryptographers of the time turned to other techniques. One was called the nomenclator: a catalog of numbers, each standing for a word, syllable, phrase or letter. Mr. Jefferson's correspondence shows that he used several code books of nomenclators. An issue with these tools, according to Mr. Patterson's criteria, is that a nomenclator is too tough to memorize.

Jefferson even wrote about his own ingenious code, a model of which is at his home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va. Called the wheel cipher, the device consisted of cylindrical pieces, threaded onto an iron spindle, with letters inscribed on the edge of each wheel in a random order. Users could scramble and unscramble words simply by turning the wheels.

But Mr. Patterson had a few more tricks up his sleeve. He wrote the message text vertically, in columns from left to right, using no capital letters or spaces. The writing formed a grid, in this case of about 40 lines of some 60 letters each.

Then, Mr. Patterson broke the grid into sections of up to nine lines, numbering each line in the section from one to nine. In the next step, Mr. Patterson transcribed each numbered line to form a new grid, scrambling the order of the numbered lines within each section. Every section, however, repeated the same jumbled order of lines.

The trick to solving the puzzle, as Mr. Patterson explained in his letter, meant knowing the following: the number of lines in each section, the order in which those lines were transcribed and the number of random letters added to each line.

The key to the code consisted of a series of two-digit pairs. The first digit indicated the line number within a section, while the second was the number of letters added to the beginning of that row. For instance, if the key was 58, 71, 33, that meant that Mr. Patterson moved row five to the first line of a section and added eight random letters; then moved row seven to the second line and added one letter, and then moved row three to the third line and added three random letters. Mr. Patterson estimated that the potential combinations to solve the puzzle was "upwards of ninety millions of millions."

 
Thomas Jefferson
After explaining this in his letter, Mr. Patterson wrote, "I presume the utter impossibility of decyphering will be readily acknowledged."

Undaunted, Dr. Smithline decided to tackle the cipher by analyzing the probability of digraphs, or pairs of letters. Certain pairs of letters, such as "dx," don't exist in English, while some letters almost always appear next to a certain other letter, such as "u" after "q".

To get a sense of language patterns of the era, Dr. Smithline studied the 80,000 letter-characters contained in Jefferson's State of the Union addresses, and counted the frequency of occurrences of "aa," "ab," "ac," through "zz."

Dr. Smithline then made a series of educated guesses, such as the number of rows per section, which two rows belong next to each other, and the number of random letters inserted into a line.

To help vet his guesses, he turned to a tool not available during the 19th century: a computer algorithm. He used what's called "dynamic programming," which solves large problems by breaking puzzles down into smaller pieces and linking together the solutions.

The overall calculations necessary to solve the puzzle were fewer than 100,000, which Dr. Smithline says would be "tedious in the 19th century, but doable."

After about a week of working on the puzzle, the numerical key to Mr. Patterson's cipher emerged -- 13, 34, 57, 65, 22, 78, 49. Using that digital key, he was able to unfurl the cipher's text:

"In Congress, July Fourth, one thousand seven hundred and seventy six. A declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. When in the course of human events..."

That, of course, is the beginning -- with a few liberties taken -- to the Declaration of Independence, written at least in part by Jefferson himself. "Patterson played this little joke on Thomas Jefferson," says Dr. Smithline. "And nobody knew until now."
23162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This sounds ominous on: July 02, 2009, 08:34:54 AM
By JACK GOLDSMITH
Published: July 1, 2009
Cambridge, Mass.
NY Times

OUR economy, energy supply, means of transportation and military defenses are dependent on vast, interconnected computer and telecommunications networks. These networks are poorly defended and vulnerable to theft, disruption or destruction by foreign states, criminal organizations, individual hackers and, potentially, terrorists. In the last few months it has been reported that Chinese network operations have found their way into American electricity grids, and computer spies have broken into the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter project.

Acknowledging such threats, President Obama recently declared that digital infrastructure is a “strategic national asset,” the protection of which is a national security priority.

One of many hurdles to meeting this goal is that the private sector owns and controls most of the networks the government must protect. In addition to banks, energy suppliers and telecommunication companies, military and intelligence agencies use these private networks. This is a dangerous state of affairs, because the firms that build and run computer and communications networks focus on increasing profits, not protecting national security. They invest in levels of safety that satisfy their own purposes, and tend not to worry when they contribute to insecure networks that jeopardize national security.

This is a classic market failure that only government leadership can correct. The tricky task is for the government to fix the problem in ways that do not stifle innovation or unduly hamper civil liberties.

Our digital security problems start with ordinary computer users who do not take security seriously. Their computers can be infiltrated and used as vehicles for attacks on military or corporate systems. They are also often the first place that adversaries go to steal credentials or identify targets as a prelude to larger attacks.

President Obama has recognized the need to educate the public about computer security. The government should jump-start this education by mandating minimum computer security standards and by requiring Internet service providers to deny or delay Internet access to computers that fall below these standards, or that are sending spam or suspicious multiple computer probes into the network.

The government should also use legal liability or tax breaks to motivate manufacturers — especially makers of operating systems — to improve vulnerability-filled software that infects the entire network. It should mandate disclosure of data theft and other digital attacks — to trusted private parties, if not to the public or the government — so that firms can share information about common weapons and best defenses, and so the public can better assess which firms’ computer systems are secure. Increased information production and sharing will also help create insurance markets that can elevate best security practices.

But the private sector cannot protect these networks by itself any more than it can protect the land, air or water channels through which foreign adversaries or criminal organizations might attack us. The government must be prepared to monitor and, if necessary, intervene to secure channels of cyberattack as well.

The Obama administration recently announced that it would set up a Pentagon cybercommand to defend military networks. Some in the administration want to use Cybercom to help the Department of Homeland Security protect the domestic components of private networks that are under attack or being used for attacks. Along similar lines, a Senate bill introduced in April would give the executive branch broad emergency authority to limit or halt private Internet traffic related to “critical infrastructure information systems.”

President Obama has tried to soothe civil liberties groups’ understandable worries about these proposals. In the speech that outlined the national security implications of our weak digital defenses, the president said the government would not monitor private sector networks or Internet traffic, and pledged to “preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties we cherish as Americans.”

But the president is less than candid about the tradeoffs the nation faces. The government must be given wider latitude than in the past to monitor private networks and respond to the most serious computer threats.

These new powers should be strictly defined and regularly vetted to ensure legal compliance and effectiveness. Last year’s amendments to the nation’s secret wiretapping regime are a useful model. They expanded the president’s secret wiretapping powers, but also required quasi-independent inspectors general in the Department of Justice and the intelligence community to review effectiveness and legal compliance and report to Congress regularly.

Many will balk at this proposal because of the excesses and mistakes associated with the secret wiretapping regime in the Bush administration. These legitimate concerns can be addressed with improved systems of review.

But they should not prevent us from empowering the government to meet the cyber threats that jeopardize our national defense and economic security. If they do, then privacy could suffer much more when the government reacts to a catastrophic computer attack that it failed to prevent.

Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School who was an assistant attorney general from 2003 to 2004, is writing a book on cyberwar.

23163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Marines try to retake valley on: July 02, 2009, 08:17:04 AM
second post of morning

NY Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — Almost 4,000 United States Marines, backed by helicopter gunships, pushed into the volatile Helmand River valley in southwestern Afghanistan early Thursday morning to try to take back the region from Taliban fighters whose control of poppy harvests and opium smuggling in Helmand provides major financing for the Afghan insurgency.

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U.S. Marines waited for helicopter transport as part of an operation in Helmand Province on Thursday. More Photos »

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The New York Times
Four thousand troops entered the Helmand River valley. More Photos >
The Marine Expeditionary Brigade leading the operation represents a large number of the 21,000 additional troops that President Obama ordered to Afghanistan earlier this year amid rising violence and the Taliban’s increasing domination in much of the country. The operation is described as the first major push in southern Afghanistan by the newly bolstered American force.

Helmand is one of the deadliest provinces in Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters have practiced sleek, hit-and-run guerrilla warfare against the British forces based there.

British troops in Helmand say they rarely get a clear shot at Taliban attackers, who ambush them with improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles. The explosive devices — some made with fertilizer distributed to Afghan farmers in an effort to wean them from opium production — are the most feared weapon. The Taliban favor ambushes in the morning and evening and do not often strike during the blazing afternoon heat.

In recent weeks some British troops have been setting up what are known as “blocking positions” on bridges over irrigation canals and at other locations, apparently to help stop the flow of insurgents during the main military operation and to establish greater security before the presidential election scheduled for August. The British forces, whose main base in Helmand is adjacent to the main Marine base, will continue to support the new operation.

The British have had too few troops to conduct full-scale counterinsurgency operations and have often relied on heavy aerial weapons, including bombs and helicopter gunships, to attack suspected fighters and their hideouts. The strategy has alienated much of the population because of the potential for civilian deaths.

Now, the Marines say their new mission, called Operation Khanjar, will include more troops and resources than ever before, as well as a commitment by the troops to live and patrol near population centers to ensure that residents are protected. More than 600 Afghan soldiers and police officers are also involved.

“What makes Operation Khanjar different from those that have occurred before is the massive size of the force introduced, the speed at which it will insert, and the fact that where we go we will stay, and where we stay, we will hold, build and work toward transition of all security responsibilities to Afghan forces,” the Marine commander in Helmand Province, Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, said in a statement released after the operation began.

The Marines will be pushing into areas where NATO and Afghan troops have not previously established a permanent presence. As part of the counterinsurgency strategy, the troops will meet with local leaders, help determine their needs and take a variety of actions to make towns and villages more secure, said Capt. Bill Pelletier, a spokesman for the Marines, according to The Associated Press.

“We do not want people of Helmand Province to see us as an enemy; we want to protect them from the enemy,” Captain Pelletier said, The A.P. reported.

The goal of the operation is to put pressure on the Taliban militants “and to show our commitment to the Afghan people that when we come in we are going to stay long enough to set up their own institutions,” he said.

The 21,000 additional American troops that Mr. Obama authorized after taking office in January almost precisely matches the original number of additional troops that President George W. Bush sent to Iraq two years ago. It will bring the overall American deployment in Afghanistan to more than 60,000 troops. But Mr. Obama avoided calling it a surge and resisted sending the full reinforcements initially sought by military commanders.

Instead, Mr. Obama chose to re-evaluate troop levels over the next year, officials said. The Obama administration has said that the additional American commitment has three main strategies for denying havens for the Taliban and Al Qaeda: training Afghan security forces, supporting the weak central Afghan government in Kabul and securing the population.

In late March, Mr. Obama warned Congressional leaders that he would need more than the $50 billion in his budget for military operations and development efforts.

Asked by lawmakers about the prospect of reconciliation with moderate members of the Taliban, officials said Mr. Obama replied that he wanted to sift out hard-core radicals from those who were fighting simply to earn money.

Eros Hoagland contributed reporting.
23164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: July 02, 2009, 08:12:09 AM
Its the NY Times, so caveat lector:

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

QASIM PULA, Pakistan — Islamist charities and the United States are competing for the allegiance of the two million people displaced by the fight against the Taliban in Swat and other parts of Pakistan — and so far, the Islamists are in the lead.

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Mehmood Hassa, president of Al-Khidmat Foundation, gave a speech to displaced people living with host families in Yar Hussain in Swabi District in June.

 
The New York Times
Two million people have been displaced by the fight against the Taliban in Swat and other parts of Pakistan.
Although the United States is the largest contributor to a United Nations relief effort, Pakistani authorities have refused to allow American officials or planes to deliver the aid in the camps for displaced people. The Pakistanis do not want to be associated with their unpopular ally.

Meanwhile, in the absence of effective aid from the government, hard-line Islamist charities are using the refugee crisis to push their anti-Western agenda and to sour public opinion against the war and the United States.

Last week, a crowd of men, the heads of households uprooted from Swat, gathered here in this village in northwestern Pakistan for handouts for their desperate families. But before they could even get a can of cooking oil, the aid director for a staunchly anti-Western Islamic charity took full advantage of having a captive audience, exhorting the men to jihad.

“The Western organizations have spent millions and billions on family planning to destroy the Muslim family system,” said the aid director, Mehmood ul-Hassan, who represented Al Khidmat, a powerful charity of the strongly anti-American political party Jamaat-e-Islami.

The Western effort had failed, he said, but Pakistanis should show their strength by joining the fight against the infidels.

The authorities’ insistence that the Americans remain nearly invisible reveals the deep strains that continue to underlie the American-Pakistani relationship, even as cooperation improves in the fight against the Taliban, and public support for the war grows in Pakistan.

Yet Islamist and jihadist groups openly work the camps.

“Because of the lack of international agencies, there is a vacuum filled by actors that are Islamist and more than that, jihadist,” said Kristele Younes, a senior advocate with Refugees International, a Washington group established in 1979.

One of the most prominent jihadist charity groups, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, had been barred from the camps, according to Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad, the head of the Pakistani Army’s disaster management group. The group was designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council in December.

Nonetheless, it set up operations in Mardan under a new name, Falah-e-Insaniyat, according to Himayatullah Mayar, the mayor of Mardan. After the order to leave the area, Falah-e-Insaniyat went underground but still appeared to be operating to some extent, Mr. Mayar said.

Signs of the organizational strength and robust coffers of Islamist charities were easy to see around the camps, often in contrast to the lack of services offered by the government.

For example, Al Khidmat, Mr. Hassan’s group, arranged to bring in eye surgeons from Punjab to staff a free eye clinic for the displaced, offering cataract operations and eyeglasses.

“Government hospitals are nonexistent here, and we are able to treat not only the displaced but the whole community,” said one of the surgeons, Dr. Khalid Jamal.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hassan was busy checking new temporary schools, health clinics and four ambulances on 24-hour service that Al Khidmat had set up.

Every day, he said, he personally supervised the distribution of food at three different places — sometimes at a home, sometimes in a camp. So far, he said, he had covered 400 of 450 villages near the city of Swabi. Always, he said, before the food is distributed, he delivers his exhortation to jihad.

By contrast, although a substantial amount of American aid is getting through, it is not branded as American, and Pakistani authorities have insisted that it be delivered in a “subtle” manner, General Ahmad said.

The general said he had told American officials that there would be an “extremely negative” reaction if Americans were seen to be distributing aid, particularly if it was delivered by American military aircraft.

“I said they couldn’t fly in Chinooks, no way,” General Ahmad said, referring to American military helicopters. The United States, he said, was seen as “part of the problem.”

That is not what American officials had hoped for. At first, the exodus of people from Swat, many of whom had suffered from the brutality of the Taliban, seemed to present a chance for Washington to improve its image in Pakistan.

“There is an opportunity actually to provide services, much as we did with the earthquake relief, which had a profound impact on the perception of America,” Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who serves as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said at a hearing attended by the Obama administration’s special envoy, Richard C. Holbrooke, at the start of the exodus.

In an effort to highlight American concern for the refugees, Mr. Holbrooke visited the camps in June, sitting on the floor of a sweltering tent and talking to people about their plight. “President Obama has sent us to see how we can help you,” he said. One result of the trip was an effort to send Pakistani-American female doctors to assist women in the camps.

According to the State Department, the United States has pledged $110 million for food and logistical support. In late May, the Defense Department sent several flights to Islamabad carrying ready-to-eat meals, environmentally controlled tents and water trucks. But ideas of winning back popularity with a big show of airlifts of American assistance on the scale of American earthquake relief to Kashmir in 2005 were rebuffed, and not only by the Pakistanis.

American nongovernmental organizations in Pakistan discouraged high-profile deliveries of United States government aid because anti-American sentiment was too widespread and the security risk to Americans in the camps was too high, said the head of one of the groups, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. There were many Taliban in the displaced camps, and they believed the Pakistani military was fighting against them in Swat on orders from Washington, the official said.

The restrictions on American assistance are clear in the camps and in villages like this one deep in the countryside around Mardan and Swabi, where Pakistani families have opened their homes to large numbers of displaced people.

American officials and their consultants were barely able to move beyond the highly visible refugee camps set up along the main highway between Islamabad and Peshawar, said Mahboob Mahmood, a Pakistani-American businessman who has visited the area to help find ways to bring additional aid.

“They have been almost completely neutered,” he said.
23165  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 02, 2009, 07:46:15 AM
Grateful for time with my children.
23166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine; Jefferson and music on: July 02, 2009, 07:17:31 AM
"The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth."

--Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
===============================
By BARRYMORE LAURENCE SCHERER
July 4, 1826, was a significant anniversary in America's history. On that 50th jubilee of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Stephen Foster, who would widely be regarded as the nation's first popular songwriter, was born in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, in Quincy, Mass., one of the pre-eminent signatories to the Declaration, John Adams, died at age 90. According to tradition, the last words he spoke were "Thomas Jefferson still survives." But his old friend -- and former political rival -- had actually passed away that morning, at 83. And with Jefferson's death the nation lost not just one of its greatest statesmen but one of its cultural leaders.

Jefferson was a true Renaissance man. Law, diplomacy and politics were his profession, but his activities embraced virtually all the liberal arts and sciences: from mathematics and philosophy to economics, archaeology, ornithology, ichthyology, horticulture, architecture, art and music.

Music, however, was Jefferson's particular delight, "an enjoyment, the deprivation of which . . . cannot be calculated," he declared in 1785. From early boyhood, he pursued this "passion of my soul," studying the violin with a teacher in Williamsburg, Va. By the time he matriculated at the College of William and Mary in 1760, his playing was so fluent that he was invited for weekly chamber music gatherings with the royal governor of Virginia. Jefferson even purchased a "kit" -- a slender dance-master's pocket fiddle -- and had a case for it fashioned for his saddle so he could play and practice while traveling.

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Cryptologist Cracks Presidential Code Not surprisingly, music played an important role in his courtship of the charming young widow Martha Skelton, another Colonial music lover, who played keyboard instruments and guitar. According to Jefferson family lore, two of Jefferson's amatory rivals encountered one another on Mrs. Skelton's doorstep. While waiting to be received by her, they heard her singing a touching song to her own harpsichord accompaniment in an adjoining room. Then they heard a gentleman sing with her and play a violin obbligato. Knowing that Jefferson was the only violinist in the neighborhood, one suitor said to the other, "We are wasting our time," and they quietly left in defeat. Jefferson married Skelton on new year's day, 1772.

The future president's musical tastes -- which he imparted to his children -- were sophisticated and broadly rooted in popular composers from the 17th through the middle-18th centuries. He deemed Arcangelo Corelli his favorite composer, deeply admired Haydn and had a great love for French and Italian opera. Not surprisingly, violin, chamber and keyboard music formed a major part of his extensive music library, which he cataloged in 1783 and is now housed at the University of Virginia.

Among the volumes and music sheets are sonatas, concertos (with accompanying parts), overtures and other works by Corelli, Haydn, Gluck, Handel, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Boccherini, Stamitz, Clementi and J.C. Bach (J.S. Bach's youngest son). There are also many works by contemporaneous names less familiar today, among them Padre Martini, Gaetano Pugnani, Ignaz Pleyel and the Italianized German Giovanni Adolfo Hasse. Vocal music abounds, including scores of Handel's "Messiah" and "Alexander's Feast," Handel's Coronation and Funeral Anthems, Haydn's solo cantatas, John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera," Purcell's song collection "Orpheus Brittanicus," and Thomas Arne's operas "Artaxerxes" and "Alfred" (with its finale, "Rule Britannia").

Surprisingly, however, there is scant Mozart. And while there are many solos, duos and trios for violin, cello and keyboard, there are no string quartets.

Jefferson also collected American music, both folk songs and those of emerging composers. To his fellow Declaration signer Francis Hopkinson, who ranks as the first American-born composer of art songs, he wrote in 1789: "Accept my thanks . . . and my daughter's . . . for the book of songs [Hopkinson's "Seven Songs" of c. 1784]. I will not tell you how much they have pleased us, nor how well the last of them merits praise for its pathos, but relate . . . that while my elder daughter was playing it on the harpsichord, I happened to the younger one all in tears. I asked her if she was sick. She said, 'no; but the tune was so mournful.'"

According to Jefferson's granddaughter Ellen Coolidge, whose bedroom at Monticello was above his, the former president could often be heard "humming old tunes, generally Scotch songs but sometimes Italian airs or hymns."

In old age, Jefferson wrote with typical insight that "music is invaluable where a person has an ear," continuing that "it furnishes a delightful recreation for the hours of respite from the cares of the day, and lasts us through life." Certainly, music helped the "Philosopher of Democracy" to bear exceptional responsibilities throughout a career in which he was successively a colonial revolutionary, our ambassador to France, our first secretary of state, our second vice president and one of our greatest chief executives.

Mr. Scherer writes about music and the fine arts for The Journal. He is the author of the award-winning book "A History of American Classical Music" (Sourcebooks, 2007).
23167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq-8 on: July 02, 2009, 07:09:54 AM
The huge difference I see between June 29th and today is the much greater Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police presence inside the IZ.  There is some sort of machine gun plus armed military or police vehicle every 200 meters or so.  Occasionally you will see a convoy sized line of military or police vehicles pulled off to the side of the road.  There are more Iraqi Army guys walking around the vicinity of what is called "the GRD" (which stands for Gulf Regional Development) compound.
 
What you almost don't see any more is much in the way of U.S. military vehicles moving around.  They are not completely gone but you just don't see them like you used to.  The sense is that there is no more cavalry to come to the rescue anytime quickly.
 
Some of the Iraqi Army soldiers and Iraqi Police officers are their usual, typical, reasonably friendly selves.  They will wave and smile as they always have.  But others have that feeling their oats look in their eyes.
 
We live in interesting times here in the IZ...
23168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AZ and Fed LEO units merging on: July 01, 2009, 08:20:53 PM
Posted here because of its implication for erasing federal-state boundaries.  Hard to argue with its logic though:
======================

http://www.azcentral.com:80/news/articles/2009/04/23/20090423taskforce0423-ON.html

The state police and federal marshals are merging their special units that track Arizona fugitives in a move to save money while dealing with the growing number of arrest warrants waiting to be served.

"Basically, it's getting everyone in one room in one building working together instead of occasionally discussing cases of mutual interest. It's a great force multiplier," U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said.

The aggregation of acronyms brings together the state Department of Public Safety's Violent Criminal Apprehension Team, called VCAT, and the Arizona Wanted task force of the U.S. Marshals Service. The merger formalizes a relationship among agencies to share information and manpower to track the 60,000 wanted fugitives in the state.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and a long list of other police agencies are also involved. The Sheriff's Office is the repository of all of the warrants in the county, but individual agencies execute them.

DPS' Violent Criminal Apprehension Team was formed in 2008 in the midst of the ongoing argument over illegal immigration in the state on the order of then-Gov. Janet Napolitano. DPS set up the unit, and $1.6 million was pulled from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office that was being used to fight human smuggling. The Legislature later gave the money back to the Sheriff's Office.

But the apprehension team remained and says that since its formation, it has made 730 arrests, clearing 920 felony warrants. DPS says that near the end of March, there were 54,872 felony warrants in Arizona with a little more than 40,000 of them in Maricopa County and 450 to 500 new ones issued every week. The new setup deputizes DPS officers assigned to the combined unit as federal marshals, extending their enforcement range.

Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff said another goal of the new system is to minimize politics and maximize results. "What this means to the cop on the street is they come to work every day with precise information about individuals who have committed crimes in our community," he said.

Everyone pays their own way. Gonzales acknowledged that in tough financial times, everyone has "taken major hits to their budgets." More could be on the way as governments work out their spending plans in the slumping economy.

Gonzales said combining the units should have happened earlier in view of the number of new warrants pouring out of the courts.

"We cannot arrest our way out of this problem."
23169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / If you think health care on: July 01, 2009, 06:19:11 PM
is expensive now, just wait until the govt makes it free.

http://abcnews.go.com:80/video/playerIndex?id=4578691
23170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A recommended site on: July 01, 2009, 05:54:06 PM
http://chesshere.com/
23171  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Rest in Peace on: July 01, 2009, 05:51:43 PM
Hall of Fame boxer found dead; reports cite suicide

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) - Alexis Arguello, who fought in one of boxing's most classic brawls and reigned supreme at 130 pounds, was found dead at his home early Wednesday.

Coroners were conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Sandanista Party's Radio Ya and other local media were reporting it appeared to be a suicide.

The La Prensa newspaper reported that Arguello — elected mayor of Nicaragua's capital last year — was found with a gunshot wound to the chest.

The 57-year-old Arguello retired in 1995 with a record of 82-8 with 65 knockouts and was a champion in three weight divisions. He was perhaps best known for two thrilling battles with Aaron Pryor and fights with Ray Mancini, Bobby Chacon and Ruben Olivares.

"I'm kind of in a daze right now. I can't believe what I'm hearing," Pryor told The Associated Press. "Those were great fights we had. This was a great champion."

Nicknamed "The Explosive Thin Man," Arguello was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992, where flags were flying at half-staff in his honor Wednesday.

In 1999, a panel of experts assembled by The AP voted Arguello the best junior lightweight and sixth-best lightweight of the 20th century. He never lost at 130 pounds, and his popularity in his own country was so great that he carried the flag for Nicaragua at the Beijing Olympics.

"Not only was he one of the greatest fighters I've ever seen, he was the most intelligent fighter," Bob Arum, who promoted some of his biggest fights, told The Associated Press. "He was a ring tactician. Every move was thought out. And he was a wonderful, wonderful person."

Arguello turned pro in 1968 and promptly lost his first bout. He didn't lose much more, and six years later knocked out Olivares in the 13th round to win the featherweight title.

Arguello went on to win the super featherweight and lightweight titles, his 5-foot-10 frame allowing him to move up in weight without losing his tremendous punching power. At the time, he was only the sixth boxer to win championships in three weight classes, and was considered for a while the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

He moved up in weight again in November 1982 to challenge Pryor for the 140-pound belt, a match billed as "Battle of the Champions." More than 23,000 fans packed the Orange Bowl in Miami, and the two waged an epic battle before Pryor knocked out Arguello in the 14th round.

"It was a brutal, brutal fight," Arum said. "That was something I will never, ever forget as long as I live. That was one of the most memorable fights I ever did."

The bout was named "Fight of the Year" and "Fight of the Decade" by Ring Magazine, but was shrouded by controversy. Pryor's trainer, Panama Lewis, gave him a water bottle after the 13th round that many believe contained an illegal substance — an accusation Pryor denied.

A rematch was ordered and they met again a year later at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. This time, Pryor knocked out Arguello in the 10th round.

"We always talk to each other about that first fight," Pryor said. "I never went into the fight knowing I could beat Alexis, I just went into the fight to beat Alexis."

Arguello announced after the fight that he would retire from boxing, but as so often happens in the sport, Arguello couldn't stay away from the ring.

He returned to win two fights in 1985 and 1986, then didn't step in the ring until 1994, when he made a brief comeback. He retired for good the following year.

"Alexis Arguello was a first-class fighter and a first-class gentleman," said Hall of Fame executive director Edward Brophy. "The Hall of Fame joins the boxing community in mourning the loss of a great champion and friend."

Arguello fought against the Sandinista government in the 1980s after it seized his property and bank account, but later joined the party and ran for mayor of the capital last November. He defeated Eduardo Montealegre, though opponents alleged the vote was fraudulent.

Arguello had returned Sunday from Puerto Rico, where he honored the late baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. His death prompted Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega to announced he was canceling a trip to Panama for the inauguration of President-elect Ricardo Martinelli.

"We are upset," presidential spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said. "This is a heartbreaking announcement. He was the champion of the poor, an example of forgiveness and reconciliation."
23172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 01, 2009, 05:42:19 PM
Pre-packaged questions for His Glibness:
http://www.breitbart.tv/white-house-...ons-for-obama/
23173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Big Brother is watching on: July 01, 2009, 02:04:27 PM
As part of Cap & Trade , , ,

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


 The federal government wants to install GPS units in cars that can upload data for the purpose of eliminating a gas tax. 
http://www.kansascity.com/business/story/1299981.html

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but unless they are wanting logs on exactly where we’ve been, it would be much cheaper, and easier, to use the existing OBD-II interface on cars to track total mileage.  I guess GPS jammers are going to become very popular soon.

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.8758
23174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 01, 2009, 01:47:43 PM
See entry #256 cheesy
23175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Board the Kang Nam on: July 01, 2009, 09:29:51 AM
By GORDON G. CHANG
At this moment the Kang Nam, a North Korean tramp freighter, is on the high seas tailed by a team of American destroyers and submarines and watched by reconnaissance satellites and aircraft. The vessel had cleared the Taiwan Strait at the end of last week as it headed south. Yesterday, it was reported to have turned back north toward the Chinese coast. On board, its cargo could contain plutonium pellets, missile parts or semi-ripe melons. In any event, Washington wants to know what is in the rusty ship's hold.

Why the interest in this particular vessel? The Kang Nam is a "repeat offender" and known to carry "proliferation materials." As an unnamed American official told Fox News this month, "This ship is presumed to be carrying something illicit given its past history." United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, unanimously passed on June 12, broadened the concept of illicit cargoes as far as North Korea is concerned. It prohibits Pyongyang from selling arms, even handguns. The Kang Nam's U-turn is a sure sign that it is carrying contraband and is now seeking a safe port.

The Security Council, while banning Pyongyang's export of weapons, has not given U.N. member states the means of enforcing the new restrictions. Resolution 1874 calls upon countries to inspect North Korean cargoes on the high seas -- but only "with the consent of the flag State," in this case North Korea. Should Pyongyang refuse -- as it most certainly would -- a member state can, within the terms of the resolution, direct a vessel to "an appropriate and convenient port" for inspection by local officials. Should Pyongyang refuse to divert the ship, the resolution contemplates the filing of a report to a U.N. committee.

It looks as if Washington will file such a report soon. Last week, the U.S. promised China it would abide by the restraints imposed by Resolution 1874. This means, in all probability, that the U.S. will be reduced to watching the Kang Nam unload illegal cargo items at some port.

Yet Washington does not have to adopt such a feeble approach. The North Koreans have, inadvertently, given the U.S. a way to escape from the restrictions of the new Security Council measure. On May 27, the Korean People's Army issued a statement declaring that it "will not be bound" by the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War. This was at least the third time Pyongyang has disavowed the interim agreement that halted hostilities in 1953. Previous renunciations were announced in 2003 and 2006.

The U.N. Command, a signatory to the armistice, shrugged off Pyongyang's belligerent statement. "The armistice remains in force and is binding on all signatories, including North Korea," it said immediately after the renunciation, referring to the document's termination provisions. That may be the politically correct thing to say, but an armistice as a legal matter cannot remain in existence after one of its parties, a sovereign state, announces its end. Today, whether we like it or not, there is no armistice.

Furthermore, there has never been a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War. This means the U.S., a combatant in the conflict, as leader of the U.N. Command, is free to use force against Pyongyang. On legal grounds, the U.S. Navy therefore has every right to seize the Kang Nam, treat the crew as prisoners of war, and confiscate its cargo, even if the ship is carrying nothing more dangerous than melons. Because the Navy has the right to torpedo the vessel, which proudly flies the flag of another combatant in the war, it of course has the right to board her.

But does America have the will to do so? "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something," President Barack Obama said in the first week of April, reacting to North Korea's test of a long-range missile. Unfortunately, the president's words have apparently meant little because Kim Jong Il's belligerent state has, since that time, detonated a nuclear device, handed out harsh sentences to two American reporters, and announced the resumption of plutonium production. North Korea has threatened nuclear war several times in recent days and this month sent one of its patrol boats into South Korean waters. American envoys, in response, have issued stern warnings, participated in meetings in the region, and engaged in high-level diplomacy in the corridors of the U.N. None of these measures, however, has led to the enforcement of rules or the punishment of the North Korean regime.

North Korea's words, in contrast, have meant something. It has, as noted, ended the armistice. Of course, no one is arguing that the nations participating in the U.N. Command resume a full-scale land war in Asia. Yet recognizing the end of the temporary truce would allow the U.S. to use more effective measures to stop the North Korean proliferation of missile and nuclear technologies. The Bush administration sometimes got around to warning Kim Jong Il about selling dangerous technologies but never did anything about it.

Instead, President George W. Bush outsourced the problem to the U.N. In October 2006, in response to the North's first nuclear detonation, the Security Council passed a resolution aimed at halting North Korean proliferation. Unfortunately, Beijing refused to implement the new rules, calling the measures unacceptable, even after voting in favor of them. Since then, more evidence has come to light of North Korea's transfer of nuclear weapons technologies to Iran and Syria.

The lesson of the last few years is that the U.N. is not capable of stopping North Korean proliferation. No nation can stop it except the U.S. Of course, ending North Korea's sales of dangerous technologies to hostile regimes will anger Pyongyang. This month, for instance, the North said that interception of the Kang Nam would constitute an "act of war."

Yet, as much as the international community would like to avoid a confrontation, the world cannot let Kim Jong Il continue to proliferate weapons. Moreover, it is unlikely that he will carry through on his blustery threats. The North Koreans did not in fact start a war when, at America's request, Spain's special forces intercepted an unflagged North Korean freighter carrying Scud missiles bound for Yemen in December 2002. Even though the Spanish risked lives to board the vessel, Washington soon asked Madrid to release it. At the time, the Bush administration explained there was no legal justification to seize the missiles.

Now, the Obama administration has no such excuse. There is definitely a legal justification to seize the Kang Nam. North Korea, after all, has resumed the Korean War.

Mr. Chang is the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World" (Random House, 2006).
23176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Parsing the arguments on: July 01, 2009, 09:26:01 AM
By GEORGE NEWMAN
The health-care debate continues. We have now heard from nearly all the politicians, experts and interested parties: doctors, drug makers, hospitals, insurance companies, even constitutional lawyers (though not, significantly, from trial lawyers, who know full well "change" is not coming to their practices). Here is how one humble economist sees some of the main arguments, which I have paraphrased below:

- "The American people overwhelmingly favor reform."

If you ask whether people would be happier if somebody else paid their medical bills, they generally say yes. But surveys on consumers' satisfaction with their quality of care show overwhelming support for the continuation of the present arrangement. The best proof of this is the belated recognition by the proponents of health-care reform that they need to promise people that they can keep what they have now.

- "The cost of health care rises two to three times as fast as inflation."

That's like comparing the price of hamburger 30 years ago with the price of filet mignon today and calling the difference inflation. Or the price of a 19-inch, black-and-white TV 30 years ago with the price of a 50-inch HDTV today. The improvements in medical care are even more dramatic, leading to longer life, less pain, fewer exploratory surgeries and miracle drugs. Of course the research, the equipment and the training that produce these improvements don't come cheap.

 
Corbis
 - "Health care represents a rising proportion of our income."

That's not only true but perfectly natural. Quality health care is a discretionary, income-elastic expense -- i.e. the richer a society, the larger the proportion of income that is spent on it. (Poor societies have to spend income gains on food and other necessities.) Consider the alternatives. Would we feel better about ourselves if we skimped on our family's health care and spent the money on liquor, gambling, night clubs or a third television set?

- "Shifting funds from health care to education would make for a better society."

These two services have a lot in common, including steadily rising cost. What is curious is that this rise in education costs is deemed by the liberal establishment smart and farsighted while the rise in health-care costs is a curse to be stopped at any cost. What is curiouser still is that in education, where they always advocate more "investment," past increases have gone hand-in-hand with demonstrably deteriorating outcomes. The rising cost in health care has been accompanied by clearly superior results. Thus we would shift dollars from where they do a lot of good to an area where they don't.

- "Forty-five million people in the U.S. are uninsured."

Even if this were true (many dispute it) should we risk destroying a system that works for the vast majority to help 15% of our population?

- "The cost of treating the 45 million uninsured is shifted to the rest of us."

So on Monday, Wednesday and Friday we are harangued about the 45 million people lacking medical care, and on Tuesday and Thursday we are told we already pay for that care. Left-wing reformers think that if they split the two arguments we are too stupid to notice the contradiction. Furthermore, if cost shifting is bad, wait for the Mother of all Cost Shifting when suppliers have to overcharge the private plans to compensate for the depressed prices forced on them by the public plan.

- "A universal plan will reduce the cost of health care."

Think a moment. Suppose you are in an apple market with 100 buyers and 100 sellers every day and apples sell for $1 a pound. Suddenly one day 120 buyers show up. Will the price of the apples go up or down?

- "U.S. companies are at a disadvantage against foreign competitors who don't have to pay their employees' health insurance."

This would be true if the funds for health care in those countries fell from the sky. As it is, employees in those countries pay for their health care in much higher income taxes, sales or value-added taxes, gasoline taxes (think $8 a gallon at the pump) and in many other ways, effectively reducing their take-home pay and living standards. And isn't it odd that the same people who want to lift this burden from businesses that provide health benefits also (again, on alternate days) want to impose this burden on the other firms that do not offer this benefit. What about the international competitiveness of these companies?

- "If you like your current plan you can keep it."

In other words, you can keep your current plan if it (and the company offering it) is still around. This is not a trivial qualification. Proponents have clearly learned from the HillaryCare debacle in the 1990s that radical transformation does not sell. What we have instead is what came to be dubbed "salami tactics" in postwar Eastern Europe where Communist leaders took away freedoms one at a time to minimize resistance and obscure the ultimate goal. If nothing else, a century of vain attempts to break the Post Office monopoly should teach us how welcoming Congress is to competition to one of its high-cost, inefficient wards.

- "Congress will be strictly neutral between the public and private plans."

Nonsense. Congress has a hundred ways to help its creation hide costs, from squeezing suppliers to hidden subsidies (think Amtrak). And it has even more ways to bankrupt private plans. One way is to mandate ever more exotic and expensive coverage (think hair transplants or sex-change operations). Another is by limiting and averaging premiums and outlawing advertising. And if all else fails Congress can always resort to tax audits and public harassment of executives -- all in the name of "leveling the playing field." Then, in the end, the triumphal announcement: "The private system has failed."

- "Decisions will still be made by doctors and patients and the system won't be politicized."

Fat chance. Funding conflicts between mental health and gynecology will be based on which pressure group offers the richer bribe or appears more politically correct. The closing (or opening) of a hospital will be based not on need but which subcommittee chairman's district the hospital is in. Imagine the centralization of all medical research in the country in the brand new Robert Byrd Medical Center in Morgantown, W.Va. You get the idea.

- "We need a public plan to keep the private plans honest."

The 1,500 or so private plans don't produce enough competition? Making it 1,501 will do the trick? But then why stop there? Eating is even more important than health care, so shouldn't we have government-run supermarkets "to keep the private ones honest"? After all, supermarkets clearly put profits ahead of feeding people. And we can't run around naked, so we should have government-run clothing stores to keep the private ones honest. And shelter is just as important, so we should start public housing to keep private builders honest. Oops, we already have that. And that is exactly the point. Think of everything you know about public housing, the image the term conjures up in your mind. If you like public housing you will love public health care.

Mr. Newman is an economist and retired business executive.
23177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Honduras on: July 01, 2009, 09:12:27 AM
As military "coups" go, the one this weekend in Honduras was strangely, well, democratic. The military didn't oust President Manuel Zelaya on its own but instead followed an order of the Supreme Court. It also quickly turned power over to the president of the Honduran Congress, a man from the same party as Mr. Zelaya. The legislature and legal authorities all remain intact.

We mention these not so small details because they are being overlooked as the world, including the U.S. President, denounces tiny Honduras in a way that it never has, say, Iran. President Obama is joining the U.N., Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and other model democrats in demanding that Mr. Zelaya be allowed to return from exile and restored to power. Maybe it's time to sort the real from the phony Latin American democrats.

 
Associated Press
 
People against the return of ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya participate in a rally at the central park in Tegucigalpa, Tuesday, June 30, 2009.
The situation is messy, and we think the Hondurans would have been smarter -- and better off -- not sending Mr. Zelaya into exile at dawn. Mr. Zelaya was pressing ahead with a nonbinding referendum to demand a constitutional rewrite to let him seek a second four-year term. The attorney general and Honduran courts declared the vote illegal and warned he'd be prosecuted if he followed through. Mr. Zelaya persisted, even leading a violent mob last week to seize and distribute ballots imported from Venezuela. However, the proper constitutional route was to impeach Mr. Zelaya and then arrest him for violating the law.

Yet the events in Honduras also need to be understood in the context of Latin America's decade of chavismo. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez was democratically elected in 1998, but he has since used every lever of power, legal and extralegal, to subvert democracy. He first ordered a rewrite of the constitution that allowed his simple majority in the national assembly grant him the power to rule by decree for one year and to control the judiciary.

In 2004 he packed the Supreme Court with 32 justices from 20. Any judge who rules against his interests can be fired. He made the electoral tribunal that oversees elections his own political tool, denying opposition requests to inspect voter rolls and oversee vote counts. The once politically independent oil company now hires only Chávez allies, and independent television stations have had their licenses revoked.

Mr. Chávez has also exported this brand of one-man-one-vote-once democracy throughout the region. He's succeeded to varying degrees in Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua, where his allies have stretched the law and tried to dominate the media and the courts. Mexico escaped in 2006 when Felipe Calderón linked his leftwing opponent to chavismo and barely won the presidency.

In Honduras Mr. Chávez funneled Veneuzelan oil money to help Mr. Zelaya win in 2005, and Mr. Zelaya has veered increasingly left in his four-year term. The Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single term, which is scheduled to end in January. Mr. Zelaya was using the extralegal referendum as an act of political intimidation to force the Congress to allow a rewrite of the constitution so he could retain power. The opposition had pledged to boycott the vote, which meant that Mr. Zelaya would have won by a landslide.

Such populist intimidation has worked elsewhere in the region, and Hondurans are understandably afraid that, backed by Chávez agents and money, it could lead to similar antidemocratic subversion there. In Tegucigalpa yesterday, thousands demonstrated against Mr. Zelaya, and new deputy foreign minister Marta Lorena Casco told the crowd that "Chávez consumed Venezuela, then Bolivia, after that Ecuador and Nicaragua, but in Honduras that didn't happen."

It's no accident that Mr. Chávez is now leading the charge to have Mr. Zelaya reinstated, and on Monday the Honduran traveled to a leftwing summit in Managua in one of Mr. Chávez's planes. The U.N. and Organization of American States are also threatening the tiny nation with ostracism and other punishment if it doesn't readmit him. Meanwhile, the new Honduran government is saying it will arrest Mr. Zelaya if he returns. This may be the best legal outcome, but it also runs the risk of destabilizing the country. We recall when the Clinton Administration restored Bertrand Aristide to Haiti, only to have the country descend into anarchy.

As for the Obama Administration, it seems eager to "meddle" in Honduras in a way Mr. Obama claimed was counterproductive in Iran. Yet the stolen election in Iran was a far clearer subversion of democracy than the coup in Honduras. As a candidate, Mr. Obama often scored George W. Bush's foreign policy by saying democracy requires more than an election -- a free press, for example, civil society and the rule of law rather than rule by the mob. It's a point worth recalling before Mr. Obama hands a political victory to the forces of chavismo in Latin America
23178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Franken manipulated absentee count on: July 01, 2009, 08:50:36 AM
The Minnesota Supreme Court yesterday declared Democrat Al Franken the winner of last year's disputed Senate race, and Republican incumbent Norm Coleman's gracious concession at least spares the state any further legal combat. The unfortunate lesson is that you don't need to win the vote on Election Day as long as your lawyers are creative enough to have enough new or disqualified ballots counted after the fact.

Mr. Franken trailed Mr. Coleman by 725 votes after the initial count on election night, and 215 after the first canvass. The Democrat's strategy from the start was to manipulate the recount in a way that would discover votes that could add to his total. The Franken legal team swarmed the recount, aggressively demanding that votes that had been disqualified be added to his count, while others be denied for Mr. Coleman.

But the team's real goldmine were absentee ballots, thousands of which the Franken team claimed had been mistakenly rejected. While Mr. Coleman's lawyers demanded a uniform standard for how counties should re-evaluate these rejected ballots, the Franken team ginned up an additional 1,350 absentees from Franken-leaning counties. By the time this treasure hunt ended, Mr. Franken was 312 votes up, and Mr. Coleman was left to file legal briefs.

What Mr. Franken understood was that courts would later be loathe to overrule decisions made by the canvassing board, however arbitrary those decisions were. He was right. The three-judge panel overseeing the Coleman legal challenge, and the Supreme Court that reviewed the panel's findings, in essence found that Mr. Coleman hadn't demonstrated a willful or malicious attempt on behalf of officials to deny him the election. And so they refused to reopen what had become a forbidding tangle of irregularities. Mr. Coleman didn't lose the election. He lost the fight to stop the state canvassing board from changing the vote-counting rules after the fact.

This is now the second time Republicans have been beaten in this kind of legal street fight. In 2004, Dino Rossi was ahead in the election-night count for Washington Governor against Democrat Christine Gregoire. Ms. Gregoire's team demanded the right to rifle through a list of provisional votes that hadn't been counted, setting off a hunt for "new" Gregoire votes. By the third recount, she'd discovered enough to win. This was the model for the Franken team.

Mr. Franken now goes to the Senate having effectively stolen an election. If the GOP hopes to avoid repeats, it should learn from Minnesota that modern elections don't end when voters cast their ballots. They only end after the lawyers count them.
23179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lets see how the American Pravdas cover this one on: July 01, 2009, 08:25:04 AM
President Bush received considerable heat from the American Pravdas (my new name for the MSM) with its allegations of his politicizing science.

Lets see how this story is covered!
============================

Suppressed EPA scientist breaks silence, speaks on Fox News
By: MARK TAPSCOTT
Editorial Page Editor
06/30/09 12:10 PM EDT
Alan Carlin, the senior EPA research analyst who authored a study critical of global warming that was suppressed by agency officials, has broken his silence and spoken on Fox News about his situation. Carlin told "Fox & Friends" Steve Ducy and Gretchen Carlson that his most important conclusion in the study was that the U.S. should not rely upon recommendations of the UN in making policy decisions regarding global warming.
"The most important conclusion, in my view, was that EPA needed to look at the science behind global warming and not depend upon reports issued by the United Nations, which is what they were thinking of doing and in fact have done," Carlin said.
Asked what happened to his study once it was completed, Carlin said "my supervisors decided not to forward it to the group within EPA who had the responsibility for preparing an overall report which would guide EPA on whether to find that the emission of global warming gases would be something that EPA should regulate."
You can watch entire interview with Carlin here.
Carlin has been at EPA for 38 years and until the Fox interview was telling reporters seeking interviews that he was instructed by EPA officials not to speak with them. He almost certainly risks retalitation by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and other Obama appointees within the agency.
There are federal laws designed to protect whistle blowers like Carlin from political retaliation. It will be fascinating to watch how an administration of the Left deals with a whistleblower who for whatever reason opposes their political agenda. Will they persecute him or protect him?
I've had occasion to deal with quite a few whistle blowers over the years and they generally fall into two categories: First are the sincere employees who see something they believe to be wrong, are rejected when they go through channels seeking change, and are then subjected to reprisals, big and small, which ultimately exact an incredibly high emotional, professional and financial toll. It is not uncommon for these folks to become obsessed with seeking vindication, to suffer nervous breakdowns or end up divorced.
Then there are the others who somehow manage to maintain an emotional and professional balance while maintaining the rightness of their cause and pursuing it to a conclusion. It often takes years, but eventually they sometimes win vindication, though by that time the original controversy is usually long past and the wrong they exposed has either been forgotten, papered over or, occasionally, addressed and remedied.
A great example of this second kind of whistle blower is William Clinkscales, a man I greatly admire who exposed hundreds of millions of dollars of waste and fraud at the General Services Administration (GSA) during the Carter years, and was put through hell as his reward. He was vindicated by President Reagan who honored his service and recognized the importance of what he had done.
Bill once told me of his being reassigned to a do-nothing job as his boss in effect saying to him: "Now Bill, in this extremely important new job I am giving you, your task is to watch that flagpole out in front of the GSA headquarters and if it moves, you come tell me immediately." I still chuckle when I think of Bill telling me that, but it was indicative of the lot that too often greets whistle blowers like Alan Carlin.
Carlin told Fox that "things are a little tense, but as of last night, I still had a job." Sounds like he is expecting the worst.
My prediction in this case is that Carlin will be stripped of duties, given an office that was previously used as a broom closet and transferred to a duty location as far from EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. as possible. Or he will soon opt for retirement, which will then free him to write and speak as he pleases, secure in his receipt of a pension from the federal government's old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) broke the story about Carlin's study being suppressed last week and has posted extensive information about the situation. It appears the story has generated so much interest that CEI's web site is overwhelmed with traffic, as it is taking a loooonnnnnggggg time to load.
UPDATE: CEI demands EPA hear public comments on suppressed study
The good folks at CEI have issued astatement today demanding that EPA reopen the comment period on the proposed rule on the agency's plans to regulate global warming emissions - CO2, the same thing every human being breathes out during the normal course of living - and to which the Carlin study was addressed.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/Suppressed-EPA-scientist-breaks-silence-speaks-on-Fox-News-49513762.html
23180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: on: July 01, 2009, 08:20:57 AM
"Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!"

--George Washington, letter to James Warren, March 31, 1779
23181  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Arizona case on self-defense law on: July 01, 2009, 08:20:11 AM
Rather long, but a good read.  This case presents many issues in self-defense.

http://www.cofad1.state.az.us/opinionfiles/CR/CR060675OP.pdf
23182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US, Poland, Russia, and BMD on: July 01, 2009, 02:09:36 AM
stratfor

Geopolitical Diary: The BMD Issue Comes to the Fore
June 30, 2009

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, told Polish military officials in Warsaw on Monday that Washington is still undecided on how to proceed with the ballistic missile defense (BMD) installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. Speaking at a news conference with his Polish counterpart, Gen. Franciszek Gagor, Mullen said that the BMD deployment is still under review, but that “the United States is committed to the relationship with Poland and certainly supporting modernization of the Polish military.”

With U.S. President Barack Obama set to meet with his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev — as well as with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the man truly in charge at the Kremlin — between July 6 and 8, Moscow and Washington are accelerating their political exchanges. One issue will dominate the activity before Obama’s visit and the meetings: increased U.S. military involvement in Central Europe, encapsulated by the proposed BMD system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

From Moscow’s perspective, greater U.S. involvement in Central Europe illustrates a key shift in Washington’s posture in Europe. While the Cold War ultimately was about the disposition of Germany — and Germany therefore was torn apart by the geopolitical forces of the period — the “new” Cold War between resurgent Russia and the United States, the global hegemon, is about the disposition of Poland. A weak and insecure Poland isolated on the open North European plain, between Germany and Russia, poses no threat to Moscow, nor would it be able to counter Russia’s influence on its borders — particularly in the Baltic states, Belarus and Ukraine. However, a confident Poland bolstered and armed by an aggressive patron would not be simply a regional competitor, but a jumping-off point for a host of anti-Russian forces. Thus, it would pose a threat to Russia — one that could counter Moscow’s designs for the region.

Poland is hoping that the United States will be that patron. For Warsaw, the BMD system has little to do with potential nuclear threats emanating from the Middle East (or even from Moscow). It is about entrenching a U.S. presence in Poland for the long haul — committing Washington to defending the portion of the North European plain between the Oder and Bug rivers, in much the same way that Washington was committed to the defense of West Germany during the Cold War.

Thus, Obama’s visit to Moscow next week has prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity between Moscow, Washington and Warsaw. For its part, Moscow is trying the stick-and-carrot approach. The Russian military began a major military exercise in its North Caucasus region on Monday, likely to signal that NATO and its ally Georgia are powerless to prevent Russian dominance in the region.

However, Moscow also has nudged Kyrgyzstan to reverse its decision to end the U.S. lease of the Manas airbase, which is vital for NATO military operations in Afghanistan. And the Russians have signaled that they might agree to the transport of “lethal” military supplies through Russian territory (including its airspace) to Afghanistan, thus allowing Washington to avoid shipping supplies through turbulent Pakistan. Meanwhile, Washington has softened its stance on BMD: Mullen suggested that Washington is considering a Russian proposal about using Soviet-era radar facilities in Gabala, Azerbaijan — a statement that Russian media have given particular attention since Mullen’s visit. (STRATFOR has noted the marginal utility of this radar.)

Ultimately, even if the Russians and the Americans arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement on the BMD program during talks next week, the question of Poland will remain. A deepening of Polish-U.S. military ties would not stop with a BMD system — even one in which Russia is involved. Washington already has completed delivery of nearly 50 F-16C/D fighter jets in the latest Block 52 configuration — among the most modern F-16s flown in the NATO alliance — to Poland. The Pentagon is quickly closing in on a deal to deploy U.S. Patriot missiles to Poland and/or sell them to Warsaw directly.

Therefore, even if the United States backs away from the BMD issue, the victory would be a Pyrrhic one for Moscow — for it is this arrangement that the Kremlin has truly feared all along. The BMD issue – which would put 10 ballistic missile interceptors near Poland’s Baltic coast – was one issue on which the Kremlin felt it could gain a lot of traction. But an aggressive, confident and U.S.-backed Poland perched on Russia’s borders would be a real geopolitical problem for Moscow.
23183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: July 01, 2009, 01:45:21 AM
MY is back in Afghanistan, reporting as only he can:

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/
23184  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Security issues on: June 30, 2009, 11:40:52 PM
Something that triggered awareness on my part was in the aftermath of a home invasion and robbery in my mom's place in southern Peru.   We had some suspects and I noted how our team set up a surveilance station and realized that my own practices would never have spotted it had I been the object of its attentions.  I also noted how the team spotted people watching us from a ridge overlooking the house and yard and that I had not. 

I grew up in Manhattan, NYC and compared to most I think I have above average environmental awareness-- but there are levels and there are levels.
23185  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Asherman Chest Seal? on: June 30, 2009, 11:35:46 PM
One of our DBMA Assn members posted the following on the DBMAA forum and I thought to ask the knowledgeable players here for feedback.

TAC
CD
====================================


Woof,
 I just recently heard about this device invented by a Navy Seal Team Doc, called the Asherman Chest Seal. This is a dressing for a sucking chest wound that has a oneway tube. A box of ten will set you back $150 www.greatmedicalsupplies.com
23186  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: June 30, 2009, 04:45:07 PM
Grateful that this thread is here every day, reminding me , , ,
23187  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: June 30, 2009, 04:43:51 PM
Yesterday we got more physical with the same material.
23188  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Surveillance on: June 30, 2009, 04:40:49 PM
I question I ask myself:  How does a warrior live so that he naturally spots efforts to surveil his family or him?
23189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gilder' on: June 30, 2009, 02:00:00 PM
"My friends, it would behoove you to study everything
you can get your hands on by George Gilder, a true
American genius." -- Rush Limbaugh

"Israel is the crucial battlefield for Capitalism and Freedom in our
time." -- George Gilder, author of The Israel Test

George Gilder's global best seller Wealth & Poverty made the moral case
for capitalism to millions of Americans, changing the national debate. Now
Gilder, in The Israel Test, makes the moral case for Israel as a bastion
of capitalism and freedom.

Have you ever wondered why, in our time, it is the Left that leads the
attack on Israel? After reading The Israel Test you will never wonder
again. Gilder brilliantly shows that Israel is the ultimate test dividing
those who really stand with Capitalist Democracy from those who always
blame America and Israel first.

Gilder's argument has even long-time defenders of Israel saying things
like "I never looked at Israel that way before. I never truly realized
what was at stake." The Jerusalem Post raves about the book's "unexpected
power." But that's the way it has always been with Gilder's work. He has
an astonishing knack for making his readers see fresh what should have
been obvious all along.

The official publication date of The Israel Test is not until July 22. But
we can show you a way to get your copy weeks before it shows up in
bookstores.

Click here to pre-order The Israel Test today at 25% off publisher's
price!
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Israel-Test/Richard-Vigilante-Books/e/9780980076356/?itm=4lkid=J28248347&pubid=K158729


DOCUMENTS ISRAEL'S EMERGENCE
AS HI-TECH POWER: "ISRAEL INSIDE" 

What's so revolutionary about The Israel Test?  Well, for one thing,
Gilder portrays Israel not as a needy "poor relation" dependent on the
U.S. but as a leader of the hi-tech economy indispensable to continued
U.S. success. "The reason America should continue to 'prop up' Israel," he
writes, "is that Israel itself is a crucial prop of American wealth,
freedom, and power."

Obscured by the usual media coverage of the "war-torn" Middle East are
Israel's rarely celebrated feats of commercial, scientific, and
technological creativity. Today tiny Israel, with its population of 7.23
million, five and one-half million Jewish, stands behind only the United
States in technological contributions. In per-capita innovation, Israel
dwarfs all nations. The forces of civilization in the world continue to
feed upon the quintessential wealth of mind epitomized by Israel.

In The Israel Test Gilder documents Israel's transformation into a hi-tech
powerhouse, profiling the top companies and entrepreneurs that are making
Israel into Silicon Valley's greatest rival-and ally-and shows how the
world's leading-edge technologies increasingly feature "Israel Inside."

Obviously with the book still "embargoed" we can't quote The Israel Test
at length here. But here is a just a snippet to whet your appetite: From
The Israel Test , by George Gilder:

The central issue in international politics, dividing the world into two
fractious armies, is the tiny state of Israel.

The prime issue is not a global war of civilizations between the West and
Islam or a split between Arabs and Jews. These conflicts are real and
salient, but they obscure the deeper moral and ideological war. The real
issue is between the rule of law and the rule of leveler egalitarianism,
between creative excellence and covetous "fairness," between admiration of
achievement versus envy and resentment of it.

Israel defines a line of demarcation. On one side, marshaled at the United
Nations and in universities around the globe, are those who see capitalism
as a zero-sum game in which success comes at the expense of the poor and
the environment: every gain for one party comes at the cost of another. On
the other side are those who see the genius and the good fortune of some
as a source of wealth and opportunity for all.

The Israel test can be summarized by a few questions: What is your
attitude toward people who excel you in the creation of wealth or in other
accomplishment? Do you aspire to their excellence, or do you seethe at it?
Do you admire and celebrate exceptional achievement, or do you impugn it
and seek to tear it down? Caroline Glick, the dauntless deputy managing
editor of the Jerusalem Post, sums it up: "Some people admire success;
some people envy it. The enviers hate Israel."

. . . . Today in the Middle East, Israeli wealth looms palpably and
portentously over the mosques and middens of Palestinian poverty. But
dwarfing Israel's own wealth is Israel's contribution to the world
economy, stemming from Israeli creativity and entrepreneurial innovation.
Israel's technical and scientific gifts to global progress loom with
similar majesty over all others' contributions outside the United States.

Though Jews in Palestine had been the most powerful force for prosperity
in the region since long before the founding of Israel in 1948, more
remarkable still is the explosion of innovation attained through the
unleashing of Israeli capitalism and technology over the last two decades.
During the 1990s and early 2000s Israel sloughed off its manacles of
confiscatory taxes, oppressive regulations, government ownership, and
Socialist nostalgia and established itself in the global economy first as
a major independent player and then as a technological leader.

Contemplating this Israeli breakthrough, the minds of parochial intellects
around the globe, from Jerusalem to Los Angeles, are clouded with envy and
suspicion. Everywhere, from the smarmy diplomats of the United Nations to
the cerebral leftists at the Harvard Faculty Club, critics of Israel
assert that Israelis are responsible for Palestinian Arab poverty. . . .
Denying to Israel the moral fruits and affirmations that Jews have so
richly earned by their paramount contributions to our civilization, the
critics of Israel lash out at the foundations of civilization itself--at
the golden rule of capitalism, that the good fortune of others is also
one's own.

In simplest terms, amid the festering indigence of Palestine, the state of
Israel presents a test. Efflorescent in the desert, militarily powerful,
industrially preeminent, culturally cornucopian, technologically
paramount, it lately has become a spearhead of the global economy and
vanguard of human achievement. Believing that this position was somehow
captured, rather than created, many in the West still manifest a primitive
zero-sum vision of economics and life. . . .

Click here to pre-order The Israel Test today at 25% off publisher's
price.
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Israel-Test/Richard-Vigilante-Books/e/9780980076356/?itm=4lkid=J28248347&pubid=K158729
23190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Clusterfcuk continues , , , on: June 30, 2009, 01:52:15 PM
Court Rules Franken Has Won Senate Seat

The Minnesota Supreme Court has just issued its long-awaited
judgment in the Senate race, declaring that Democrat Al
Franken is the winner.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/?emc=na
23191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More Honduras on: June 30, 2009, 11:36:43 AM
Many foreign observers are condemning the ouster of Honduran President Mel Zelaya, a supporter of Hugo Chavez, as a "military coup." But can it be a coup when the Honduran military acted on the orders of the nation's Supreme Court, the step was backed by the nation's attorney general, and the man replacing Mr. Zelaya and elected in emergency session by that nation's Congress is a member of the former president's own political party?

Mr. Zelaya had sacked General Romeo Vasquez, head of the country's armed forces, after he refused to use his troops to provide logistical support for a referendum designed to let Mr. Zelaya escape the country's one-term limit on presidents. Both the referendum and the firing of the military chief have been declared illegal by the Honduran Supreme Court. Nonetheless, Mr. Zelaya intended yesterday to use ballots printed in Venezuela to conduct the vote anyway.

All this will be familiar to members of Honduras' legislature, who vividly recall how Mr. Chavez in Venezuela adopted similar means to hijack his country's democracy and economy. Elected a decade ago, Mr. Chavez held a Constituent Assembly and changed the constitution to enhance his power and subvert the country's governing institutions. Mr. Zelaya made it clear that he wished to do the same in Honduras and that the referendum was the first step in installing a new constitution that would enhance his powers and allow him to run for re-election.

No one likes to see a nation's military in the streets, especially in a continent with such painful memories of military rule. But Honduras is clearly a different situation. Members of Mr. Zelaya's own party in Congress voted last week to declare him unfit for his office. Given his refusal to leave, who else was going to enforce the orders of the nation's other branches of government?

--John Fund
WSJ
23192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Honduras on: June 30, 2009, 11:25:24 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Venezuela and the Honduran Coup
June 29, 2009
Military forces arrested Honduran President Manuel Zelaya at his home early Sunday morning, marking a sea change for the country. Prior to the coup, Zelaya had been attempting to call a national referendum on whether to change the constitution. Though Zelaya still had backing from many leftist organizations in the country, he lacked the support of the Congress, the Supreme Court and the military — all of which maintained that his actions were unconstitutional. His decision to go forward with the referendum in the face of such strong opposition pushed the situation to a climax, ending with his exile to Costa Rica.

The situation has prompted howls of objections, particularly from leftist leaders in Latin America — with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the forefront. Though Chavez’s promises of a military response following the arrest of Zelaya — a fellow leftist — have made headlines, his ability and will to intervene are both extremely constrained. Chavez himself has mentioned limits to his willingness to intervene in the situation, declaring that hostilities would be inevitable if the Honduran military violated the sanctity of the Venezuelan embassy or murdered the Venezuelan ambassador.

Chavez likes to link Venezuela to any and all leftist leaders in the region and to rattle sabers when any of those leaders are threatened. The Honduran coup, however, is deeply entrenched in domestic politics, and Chavez’s ability to take serious action is limited by uncertainties in the political situation he faces in Venezuela. Just as in a 2008 incident between Colombia and Ecuador (when Colombian forces crossed the border in pursuit of members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), Chavez can make statements but is not able to put substantial forces into play.

There have been isolated and unsubstantiated reports that Venezuelan and Nicaraguan personnel might have been supporting Zelaya in Honduras as hostilities were intensifying, but there is nothing to suggest that any kind of meaningful troop presence or interference was a factor in the day’s events. Indeed, sources in Venezuela have revealed that even Venezuelan military personnel lack confidence in the country’s ability to leverage the troop transport aircraft that would be required to establish a meaningful force in Honduras.

Because even Chavez is unable to intervene effectively, the situation in Honduras remains localized. The military immediately turned control of the country over to the Congress, which appointed its leader as the interim head of state. Therefore, it does not seem likely that this situation will turn into a military grab for power — a fact that should bring sighs of relief to a region where the destructive military dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s are remembered well.

This also should not be read as a symbolic or tide-turning failure of the Latin American left, which is far from being a united ideological bloc. With center-leftists leading successful regimes in Brazil and Chile, the myth of a rising, unified wave of extreme leftism in Latin America is just that. Though the coup in Honduras could invigorate opposition movements in leftist-led countries throughout the region — particularly in countries like Venezuela, which are experiencing serious economic difficulties due both to populist excesses and the troubled global economy — it should not be taken as a part of a larger trend. If other governments in Latin America fall, it will be a result of their own spiraling, domestic dramas rather than a domino effect from Sunday’s events in relatively isolated Honduras.

The fact is that regional cohesion in Latin America is very difficult to achieve. With massive geographic barriers separating Latin American countries and the economic challenges facing each leader, there are enormous obstacles to functional cooperation and pressing concerns to attend to at home. Ultimately, the challenges facing Latin American countries in 2009 might lead to military intervention, as in Honduras. But regime stability very often depends on domestic factors — and all the leftist alliances in the world cannot save a leader who rejects the authority of every other branch of his government.
23193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul's bill for transparent thread has strong support on: June 30, 2009, 11:22:57 AM
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/06/24/mr-popular-rep-paul-wins-supporters-fed-sunshine/
 
Mr. Popular? Ron Paul Wins Supporters to Fed Sunshine Bill
Rep. Ron Paul so far has won 245 co-sponsors to a bill that would require a full-fledged audit of the Federal Reserve by the end of 2010. 
By Judson Berger

FOXNews.com

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

 
 
Rep. Ron Paul, shown here speaking to the American Conservative Union last February, is winning supporters to a new bill. (Reuters Photo)

All of a sudden, Congress is paying close attention to Ron Paul.

The feisty congressman from Texas, whose insurgent "Ron Paul Revolution" presidential campaign rankled Republican leaders last year, now has the GOP House leadership on his side -- backing a measure that generated paltry support when he first introduced it 26 years ago.

Paul, as of Tuesday, has won 245 co-sponsors to a bill that would require a full-fledged audit of the Federal Reserve by the end of 2010.

Paul attracted just 18 co-sponsors when he authored a similar bill, which died, in 1983. While the impact Fed policies have on inflation is once again a concern, fears about loose monetary policy and excessive federal spending appear even more widespread in 2009.

"In the past, I never got much support, but I think it's the financial crisis obviously that's drawing so much attention to it, and people want to know more about the Federal Reserve," Paul told FOXNews.com.

With the Federal Reserve holding interest rates at rock-bottom levels, pumping trillions into the economy and now poised to have new powers to oversee the financial system under President Obama's proposed regulatory overhaul, Paul said lawmakers want transparency.

"If they give them a lot more power and there's no more transparency, that'll be a disaster," he said.

The bill would call for the comptroller general in the Government Accountability Office to audit the Fed and report those findings to Congress. The GAO's ability to conduct such audits now is severely restricted.

A slew of top Republicans are backing the bill, as are many Democrats.

"Ron Paul has the right idea on this," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who supports similar legislation in the Senate. "I'm just hoping we can get a clear audit. ... We need to know what they're up to."

House Republican Leader John Boehner, who signed on as a co-sponsor this month, wrote in a recent blog post that the "lack of transparency and accountability" regarding federal dollars committed by the Fed and Treasury Department raise "serious concerns" and make an audit critical.

"The Federal Reserve Transparency Act would remove all of these restrictions, and allow GAO to get real answers from the Federal Reserve to protect American taxpayers," Boehner wrote.

Unfortunately for Paul, the bill appears to be idling in the House Financial Services Committee, which is chaired by Barney Frank, D-Mass. The bill has been sitting there, gathering co-sponsors, since Paul introduced it in late February.

"You've kind of got to rely on the Democratic leadership (to move the bill along)," a Boehner aide said. "I haven't heard a lot of support from Chairman Frank."

Calls to Frank's office were not returned.

Paul acknowledged that his bill hasn't advanced but said Frank has "promised" him he will deal with his bill and is willing to give it a hearing. Paul said it's easily got the "momentum" to pass the full House.

A representative with the Federal Reserve could not be reached for comment.

Obama, though, voiced confidence in Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last Tuesday and defended the Fed's overall ability to regulate effectively as well as his proposal to give the body more power.

"If you look at what we've proposed, we are not so much expanding the Fed's power as we are focusing what the Fed needs to do to prevent the kinds of crises that are happening again," Obama said. "We want that power to be available so that taxpayers aren't on the hook."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced a bill similar to Paul's in the Senate in March, which so far has attracted just three co-sponsors -- DeMint and Republican Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana and Mike Crapo of Idaho.

But DeMint told FOX News last week that the measure would have a good chance of passing the Senate if supporters can push Paul's to a vote, which he said would be successful, in the House.

"I think if we can get that much attention on this bill, I don't believe senators could vote against it, if people knew what they were voting for because everyone is suspicious of the Federal Reserve," DeMint said.

Paul's underlying goal is to abolish the Federal Reserve, which he finds contemptible.

"I blame almost everything on the Fed because they create the bubbles, they create the credit," Paul said.

But the move to require an audit, which Paul described as "neutral," puts him a bit more in the congressional mainstream.

That's a change of pace. The long-time congressman's GOP primary bid was decidedly outside the mainstream. His campaign drew enthusiastic support last year, and though it wasn't enough to pose an electoral threat to the top candidates, he even staged his own September counter-convention in Minneapolis -- down the road from the official Republican National Convention in St. Paul. His "Rally for the Republic" drew more than 10,000 supporters and was complete with a rock band and a slew of faux-delegates wielding signs for their states.

Paul frequently plays the role of party and congressional outsider. Most recently, he was the lone "no" vote on last Friday's resolution to condemn the Iranian government's crackdown on protesters.

He cited constitutional concerns in that vote, as he has in his criticism of the Fed and a slew of other issues.

"The whole process is unconstitutional. There is no legal authority to operate such a monetary system," Paul said in February, in a statement calling for Washington to "end the Fed." He introduced the Federal Reserve Transparency Act the following day.
23194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The costs of Barack's bug-out on: June 30, 2009, 10:01:15 AM
WSJ

By MICHAEL RUBIN
Today is a milestone in Iraq. Under the terms of the Strategic Framework Agreement, U.S. troops will withdraw from Iraqi cities. In retrospect, however, June 30 will likely mark another milestone: the end of the surge and the relative peace it brought to Iraq. In the past week, bombings in Baghdad, Mosul and near Kirkuk have killed almost 200 people. The worst is yet to come.

While the Strategic Framework Agreement was negotiated in the twilight of the Bush administration, President Barack Obama shaped the final deal. He campaigned on a time line to withdraw combat troops from Iraq, and his words impacted the negotiation.

Iraq has shown us time and again that military strength is the key to influence in other matters. Just look at the behavior of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric.

Under Saddam, Mr. Sistani was an independent religious mind, but he was hardly a bold voice. Like so many other Iraqis, he stayed alive by remaining silent. Only after Saddam's fall did he speak up. Though he is today a world-famous figure, the New York Times made its first mention of the ayatollah on April 4, 2003, five days before the fall of Baghdad.

Mr. Sistani is as much of a threat to Iran as he was to Saddam. In November 2003, he contradicted Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei when asked what night the holy month of Ramadan would end, a determination made by sighting the moon. Mr. Sistani said Tuesday, Mr. Khamenei said Wednesday.

To the West, this might be trivial, but it sent shock waves through Iran. How could the supreme leader claim ultimate political and religious authority over not only the Islamic Republic but all Shiites and be contradicted?

Perhaps this is why Iran bolstered its support for militias. When I visited Najaf in January 2004, I saw dark-clad militiamen on the streets outside Mr. Sistani's house. Mr. Sistani quieted until the following year, when U.S. forces retook the city.

Militias are not simply reactions to sectarian violence, nor are they spontaneous creations. They are tools used by political leaders to impose through force what is not in hearts and minds.

Because of both ham-fisted postwar reconstruction and neighboring state interference, militia and insurgent violence soared from 2004 through 2006. The fight became as much psychological as military.

Iranian and insurgent media declared the United States to be a paper tiger lacking staying power. The Baker-Hamilton Commission report underscored such perceptions. Al-Jazeera broadcast congressional lamentations of defeat throughout the region. Iranian intelligence told Iraqi officials that they might like the Americans better, but Iran would always be their neighbor and they best make an accommodation. Al Qaeda sounded similar themes in al-Anbar.

Then came President Bush's announcement that he would augment the U.S. presence. The surge was as much a psychological strategy as it was a military one. It proved our adversaries' propaganda wrong. Violence dropped. Iraq received a new chance to emerge as a stable, secure democracy.

By telegraphing a desire to leave, Mr. Obama reverses the dynamic. In effect, his strategy is an anti-surge. Troop numbers are not the issue. It is the projection of weakness. Not only Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki but Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani have also reached out to the Islamic Republic in recent weeks.

In Cairo, Mr. Obama said the U.S. had no permanent designs on Iraq and declared, "We will support a secure and united Iraq as a partner, and never as a patron." Indeed. But until the Iraqi government is strong enough to monopolize independently the use of force, a vacuum will exist and the most violent factions will fill it.

Power and prestige matter. Withdrawal from Iraq's cities is good politics in Washington, but when premature and done under fire it may very well condemn Iraqis to repeat their past.

Mr. Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School.

23195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams on: June 30, 2009, 09:54:32 AM
"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, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765
23196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spengler on: June 29, 2009, 10:30:24 PM
Middle East
Jun 30, 2009
 
Obama creates a deadly power vacuum
By Spengler

There's a joke about a man who tells a psychiatrist, "Everybody hates me," to which the psychiatrist responds, "That's ridiculous - everyone doesn't know you, yet." Which brings me to Barack Obama: one of the best-informed people in the American security establishment told me the other day that the president is a "Manchurian Candidate".

That can't be true - Manchuria isn't in the business of brainwashing prospective presidential candidates any more. There's no one left to betray America to. Obama is creating a

 
strategic void in which no major power will dominate, and every minor power must fend for itself. The outcome is incalculably hard to analyze and terrifying to consider.

Obama doesn't want to betray the United States; he only wants to empower America's enemies. Forcing Israel to abandon its strategic buffer (the so-called settlements) was supposed to placate Iran, so that Iran would help America stabilize Iraq, where its influence looms large over the Shi'ite majority.

America also sought Iran's help in suppressing the Taliban in Afghanistan. In Obama's imagination, a Sunni Arab coalition - empowered by Washington's turn against Israel - would encircle Iran and dissuade it from acquiring nuclear weapons, while an entirely separate Shi'ite coalition with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would suppress the radical Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This was the worst-designed scheme concocted by a Western strategist since Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery attacked the bridges at Arnhem in 1944, and it has blown up in Obama's face.

Iran already has made clear that casting America's enemies in the leading role of an American operation has a defect, namely that America's enemies rather would lose on their own terms than win on America's terms. Iran's verbal war with the American president over the violent suppression of election-fraud protests leaves Washington with no policy at all. The premise of Obama's policy was that progress on the Palestinian issue would empower a Sunni coalition. As the president said May 18:
If there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I personally believe it actually runs the other way. To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians - between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with the potential Iranian threat.
Israel's supporters remonstrated in vain. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a prominent Obama supporter, wrote, "If there is to be any linkage - and I do not believe there should be - it goes the other way: it will be much easier for Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank if Iran does not have a nuclear umbrella under which it can continue to encourage Hamas and Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israeli civilians."

No matter: America made clear that it had annulled the George W Bush administration's promise that a final settlement would allow most of Israel's 500,000 "settlers" to keep their homes, in order to launch the fantasy ship of Iranian cooperation with America.

That policy now is in ruins, and Washington has no plan B. David Axelrod, Obama's top political advisor, told television interviewers on January 28 that Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who spent the last week denouncing the United States, "Did not have final say" over Iran's foreign policy and that America still wanted to negotiate with Iran. This sounds idiotic, but the White House really has painted itself into a corner. The trouble is that Obama has promised to withdraw American forces from Iraq, and Iran has sufficient influence in Shi'ite-majority Iraq to cause continuous upheaval, perhaps even to eventually win control of the country.

By a fateful coincidence, American troops are scheduled to leave Iraq's urban centers on June 30. Overthrowing Saddam Hussein left Iraq open to Iranian destabilization; that is why the elder George Bush left the Iraqi dictator in power in 1990.

Offering Iran a seat at the table in exchange for setting a limit to its foreign ambitions - in Lebanon and Gaza as well as Iraq - seemed to make sense on paper. But the entity that calls itself revolutionary Islam is not made of paper, but of flesh and blood. It is in danger of internal collapse and can only assert its authority by expanding its influence as aggressively as it can.

After the election disaster, Iran's revolutionary leadership urgently needs to demonstrate its credibility. Israel now can say, "A country that murders its own citizens will have no compunction about massacring its enemies," and attack Iran's nuclear capacity with fewer consequences than would have been imaginable in May. And if an Israeli strike were to succeed, or appear successful to the world, the resulting humiliation might be fatal to the regime.

Israel may not be Tehran's worst nightmare. Iraq's Sunnis are testing the resolve of the weakened mullahs. The suicide bombing that killed 73 people at a Shi'ite mosque in Kirkuk on June 20 and a second bombing that killed another 72 Shi'ites in Baghdad's Sadr City slum most likely reflect Sunni perceptions that a weakened Tehran will provide less support for Iraqi Shi'ites. Although Shi'ites comprise more than three-fifths of Iraq's population, Sunnis provided the entire military leadership and are better organized on the ground. America's hopes of enlisting Iran to provide cover for its withdrawal from the cities of Iraq seem delusional.

What move on the chessboard might Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei venture to pre-empt an Israeli air raid against the nuclear facilities? Iran has the rocket launchers of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, and terrorist sleeper cells throughout the world. Iran might seek to pre-empt what it anticipates to be the next move from Israel by demonstrating its capacity to inflict injury on Israel or on Jewish targets elsewhere. That would require careful judgment, for a heavy handed action could provide a pretext for even more serious action by the Israelis and others. The same sort of consideration applies to Iranian support for Pakistan Shi'ites, for Hezbollah, and other vehicles of Iran's program of imperial expansion.

The Obama administration has put itself in a peculiar bind. It has demanded that the Pakistani army suppress the Taliban, after Islamabad attempted a power-sharing agreement that left the Taliban in control of the Swat Valley. To root out the largely Pashtun Taliban, Pakistan's largely Punjabi army has driven a million people into refugee camps and leveled entire towns in the Swat Valley. Tens of thousands of refugees are now fleeing the Pakistani army in the South Waziristan tribal area. Punjabis killing Pashtuns is nothing new in the region, but the ferocity of the present effort does not augur well for an early end to the conflict.

While the Pakistan army holds nothing back in attacking the Taliban, American troops in Afghanistan have been told that they no longer can call in air strikes if civilians are likely to suffer. That will put American forces in the unfortunate position of the Pirates of Penzance, who exempted orphans. Once this became generally known, everyone they attempted to rob turned out to be an orphan.

The Taliban need only take a page from Hamas' book, and ensure that civilians are present wherever they operate. The US has made clear that it will not deal in civilian blood, the currency of warfare in that region since before the dawn of history. It will not be taken seriously in consequence.

What will the administration do now? As all its initiatives splatter against the hard realities of the region, it will probably do less and less, turning the less appetizing aspects of the fighting over to local allies and auxiliaries who do not share its squeamishness about shedding civilian blood. That is the most dangerous outcome of all, for America is the main stabilizing force in the region.

The prospect of civil wars raging simultaneously in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq is no longer improbable. The Israel-Palestine issue is linked to all of these through Iran, whose credibility depends on its ability to sustain such puppies of war as Hezbollah and Hamas. Whether or not the Israelis take the opportunity to strike Iran, the prospect of an Israeli strike will weigh on Iran's proxies in the region, and keep Israel's borders in condition of potential violence for the interim.

America's great good fortune is that no hostile superpower stands ready to benefit from its paralysis and confusion. When Soviet troops landed in Afghanistan in December 1979, America was in the grip of an economic crisis comparable to the present depression. American diplomats at the Tehran Embassy were still hostages to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The price of gold doubled from around $400 to $800 after the Russian invasion because most of the world thought that Russia would win the Cold War. If America lost its dominant superpower status in the West, the dollar no longer could serve as a global reserve currency. To the superpower goes the seigniorage, the state's premium for providing a currency.

By contrast, the gold price barely fluttered all through the present crisis. America remains the undisputed global superpower for the time being. America's creditors express consternation about its $1.8 trillion budget deficit and many trillions more of guarantees for the banking system, but there is nothing they can do about it for the time being but talk. That is how one should interpret a June 25 Reuters report that a "senior researcher with the ruling Communist Party" had urged China to shift some of its $2 trillion in reserves out of dollars and into gold.
Li Lianzhong, who heads the economic department of the Party's policy research office, said China should use more of its $1.95 trillion in foreign exchange reserves to buy energy and natural resource assets. Speaking at a foreign exchange and gold forum, Li also said that buying land in the United States was a better option for China than buying US Treasury securities.

"Should we buy gold or US Treasuries?" Li asked. "The US is printing dollars on a massive scale, and in view of that trend, according to the laws of economics, there is no doubt that the dollar will fall. So gold should be a better choice."
There is no suggestion that Li, even though he is a senior researcher, was enunciating an agreed party line.

The last thing China wants at the moment is to undercut the US dollar, for three reasons. First, as America's largest creditor, China has the most to lose from a dollar collapse. Second, Americans would buy fewer Chinese imports. And third, the collapse of the dollar would further erode America's will to fulfill its superpower function, and that is what China wants least of all.

America remains the indispensable outsider in Asia. No one likes the United States, but everyone dislikes the United States less than they dislike their neighbors. India need not worry about China's role in Pakistan, for example, because America mediates Indian-Pakistani relations, and America has no interest in a radical change to the status quo. Neither does China, for that matter, but India is less sure of that. China does not trust Japan for historical reasons that will not quickly fade, but need not worry about it because America is the guarantor of Japan's security. The Seventh Fleet is the most disliked - and nonetheless the most welcome - entity in Asia.

All of this may change drastically, quickly, and for the worse. Obama's policy reduces to empowering America's enemies in the hope that they will conform to American interests out of gratitude. Just the opposite result is likely to ensure: Iran, Pakistan and other regional powers are likely to take radical measures. Iran is threatened with a collapse of its Shi'ite program from Lebanon to Afghanistan, and Pakistan is threatened with a breakup into three or more states.

Obama has not betrayed the interests of the United States to any foreign power, but he has done the next worst thing, namely to create a void in the region by withdrawing American power. The result is likely to be a species of pandemonium that will prompt the leading players in the region to learn to live without the United States.

In his heart of hearts, Obama sees America as a force for evil in the world, apologizing for past American actions that did more good than harm. An example is America's sponsorship of the 1953 coup in Iran that overthrew the left-leaning government of Mohammed Mossadegh.

"In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government," the president offered in his Cairo address to Muslims on June 5. Although Iran's theocracy despises Mossadegh - official Iranian textbooks call him the "son of a feudal family of exploiters who worked for the cursed Shah, and betrayed Islam" - Iran's government continues to reproach America for its role in the coup. "With a coup they toppled the national government of Iran and replaced it with a harsh, unpopular and despotic regime," Ahmadinejad complained in a January 28 speech.

It is s a bit late to offer advice to Obama, but the worst thing America can do is to apologize. Instead, it should ask for the gratitude of the developing world. Weak countries become punching-bags in the proxy wars of empires. This was from the dawn of history until the fall of the last empire - the "evil" empire of Soviet communism.

The Soviets exploited anti-colonial movements from the 1917 Bolshevik coup until the collapse of the Afghanistan adventure in the late 1980s. Nationalists who tried to ride the Russian tiger ended up in its belly more often than on its back. Iran, Chile, Nicaragua, Angola and numerous other weak countries became the hapless battleground for the contest of covert operations between the Soviet Union and America - not to mention Vietnam and Korea.

The use of developing countries as proxy battlefields and their people as cannon fodder came to an end with the Cold War. As a result, the past 20 years have seen the fastest improvement in living standards ever in the global south, and a vast shift in wealth towards so-called developing countries.

By defeating Russia in the Cold War, America made it possible for governments in the global south to pursue their own interests free from the specter of Soviet subversion. And by countering Soviet subversion, America often averted much worse consequences.

Many deficiencies can be ascribed to the Shah of Iran, but a communist regime in the wake of a Mossadegh administration would have been indescribably worse. The septuagenarian Mossadegh had his own agenda, but he relied on the support of the communist Tudeh party. The US feared a Soviet invasion of Iran, and "the [Harry S] Truman administration was willing to consider a Soviet invasion of Iran as a casus belli, or the start of a global war", according to Francis J Gavin's 1999 article in The Journal of Cold War Studies.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with help from British intelligence helped the shah overthrow the left-leaning regime. But this was no minor colonial adventure, but a flashpoint with the potential to start a world war.

It is painful and humiliating for Iranians to recall the overthrow of a democratically elected government with American help. It would have been infinitely more humiliating to live under Soviet rule, like the soon-to-be-extinct victims of Soviet barbarism in Eastern Europe.

The same is true of Chile, where the brutal regime of General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in 1973, with help from the CIA. Allende was surrounded by Cuban intelligence operations. As Wikipedia reports:
Shortly after the election of Salvador Allende in November 1970, the [Cuban Directorate of Intelligence - DI] worked extremely closely to strengthen Allende's increasingly precarious position. The Cuban DI station chief Luis Fernandez Ona even married Salvador Allende's daughter Beatrice, who later committed suicide in Cuba. The DI organized an international brigade that would organize and coordinate the actions of the thousands of the foreign leftists that had moved into Chile shortly after Allende's election. These individuals ranged from Cuban DI agents, Soviet, Czech and North Korean military instructors and arms suppliers, to hardline Spanish and Portuguese Communist Party members.
My Latin American friends who still mourn the victims of Pinochet's "night and fog" state terror will not like to hear this, but the several thousand people killed or tortured by the military government were collateral damage in the Cold War. Like Iran, Chile became the battleground of a Soviet-American proxy war. The same is true in Nicaragua. (Full disclosure: I advised Nicaragua's president Violeta Chamorro after she defeated the Cuban-backed Sandinistas in the 1990 elections; I did so with no tie to any government agency.)

Obama's continuing obsession with America's supposed misdeeds - deplorable but necessary actions in time of war - is consistent with his determination to erode America's influence in the most troubled parts of the world. By removing America as a referee, he will provoke more violence than the United States ever did. We are entering a very, very dangerous period as a result.
23197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: Honduras on: June 29, 2009, 04:20:00 PM
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was detained by military forces in the early hours of June 28, transported to a military base just outside Tegucigalpa and flown to Costa Rica on a military aircraft.

In a media interview from Costa Rica, where he is reportedly seeking asylum, Zelaya called his ouster a “kidnapping” and called on his supporters to resist the action peacefully. Zelaya supporters burned tires in front of the presidential palace to protest his ouster, and there were reports of security forces using tear gas to dispel protesters.

In a brief radio announcement, the Honduran Supreme Court said it ordered the army to remove the president to “defend the rule of law.” The Honduran Congress is expected to approve the president of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, to serve as interim president, and presidential elections slated for Nov. 29 will proceed on schedule, according to the country’s electoral court.

The details of Zelaya’s expulsion to Costa Rica are unclear, but Zelaya’s comments and his transportation on a military aircraft suggest he was forced to go there. It isn’t clear if the terms of his expulsion require him to stay in Costa Rica and not seek refuge with allies in Nicaragua, El Salvador or Venezuela. In response to the military action, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced he would take steps to “defeat” the coup against Zelaya, while the government of Ecuador announced it would not recognize the interim government of Honduras.

Zelaya’s ouster is not, in and of itself, necessarily a significant event. While there hasn’t been a coup in Latin America for some time, such an event is not exactly unheard of. There have been initial protests, and the next several days should show the extent to which Zelaya is supported by the populace. There could be marches and unrest among his supporters, particularly rural laborers and unions. One early flash point could be the military’s seizing materials for a referendum on possible constitutional reforms scheduled for June 28 — it was this referendum that triggered the army’s move against Zelaya, after the Supreme Court declared the reforms unconstitutional.

The question is whether Venezuela or other allies of the left-leaning Zelaya act on their pledges to resist the coup, and how those actions manifest themselves. While there were rumors (from possibly biased sources) of the movement of Venezuelans and Nicaraguans into Honduras in recent days, at the moment there does not appear to be any physical action being taken by Zelaya’s allies. This situation, however, will need to be closely monitored in the coming days and weeks.
23198  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Bromas, humor on: June 29, 2009, 09:13:39 AM
La frase del año: del ganador del Nobel en Literatura 'En el mundo actual, se está invirtiendo cinco veces más en medicamentos para la virilidad masculina y silicona para mujeres, que en la cura del Alzheimer. De aquí algunos años, tendremos viejas de tetas grandes y viejos con pene duro, pero ninguno de ellos se acordará para que sirven'.
23199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: June 29, 2009, 09:03:37 AM
"Where liberty dwells, there is my country."

--Benjamin Franklin (attributed), letter to Benjamin Vaughn, March 14, 1783
23200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: June 29, 2009, 09:03:21 AM
Good contribution!  I have been reading about this with concern for some time now.  The question remains though concerning genital deformations in fish, etc.
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