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23151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Reagan on: November 22, 2010, 07:15:14 PM
"Two hundred years ago, the Congress of the United States issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation stating that it was 'the indispensable duty of all nations' to offer both praise and supplication to God. Above all other nations of the world, America has been especially blessed and should give special thanks. We have bountiful harvests, abundant freedoms, and a strong, compassionate people. I have always believed that this anointed land was set apart in an uncommon way, that a divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth who had a special love of faith and freedom. Our pioneers asked that He would work His will in our daily lives so America would be a land of morality, fairness, and freedom. Today we have more to be thankful for than our pilgrim mothers and fathers who huddled on the edge of the New World that first Thanksgiving Day could ever dream. We should be grateful not only for our blessings, but for the courage and strength of our ancestors which enable us to enjoy the lives we do today. Let us reaffirm through prayers and actions our thankfulness for America's bounty and heritage." --Ronald Reagan

23152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 22, 2010, 07:06:39 PM
Rarick:

I will be interested to read GM's response to that.

GM:

Thank you for your offerings in response to my request for citations of efficacy; that said they are less than I look for.  In them I see only assertions of efficacy by people whom I do not necessarily trust 100%.  It seems to me it would be very simple to have someone strap on something imitating an underwear bomb and making a cliip of what it looks like on the scanner.   30-60 seconds on youtube should be enough.  smiley
========
"The 2001 law creating the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners after a two-year period. Now, with the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice. Mica, one of the authors of the original TSA bill, has recently written to the heads of more than 150 airports nationwide suggesting they opt out of TSA screening. 'When the TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees,' Mica writes. 'TSA has grown larger, more impersonal, and administratively top-heavy. I believe it is important that airports across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision provided by law.' In addition to being large, impersonal, and top-heavy, what really worries critics is that the TSA has become dangerously ineffective. Its specialty is what those critics call 'security theater' -- that is, a show of what appear to be stringent security measures designed to make passengers feel more secure without providing real security. 'That's exactly what it is,' says Mica. 'It's a big Kabuki dance.' Now, the dance has gotten completely out of hand." --columnist Byron York
===========
"After Muslim terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria tried to detonate explosive material in his underwear over Detroit last Christmas, the government began requiring nude body scans at airports. The machines, which cannot detect chemicals or plastic, would not have caught the diaper bomber. So, again, no hijackers were stopped, but being able to see passengers in the nude boosted the morale of airport security personnel by 22 percent. After explosives were inserted in two ink cartridges and placed on a plane headed to the United States from the Muslim nation of Yemen, the government banned printer cartridges from all domestic flights, resulting in no improvement in airport security, while requiring ink cartridges who traveled to take Amtrak. So when the next Muslim terrorist, probably named Abdul Ahmed al Shehri, places explosives in his anal cavity, what is the government going to require then? ... Only because the terrorists are Muslims do we pretend not to notice who keeps trying to blow up our planes. ... If the government did nothing more than have a five-minute conversation with the one passenger per flight born outside the U.S., you'd need 90 percent fewer Transportation Security Administration agents and airlines would be far safer than they are now. Instead, Napolitano just keeps ordering more invasive searches of all passengers, without exception -- except members of Congress and government officials, who get VIP treatment, so they never know what she's doing to the rest of us." --columnist Ann Coulter



23153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Ireland on: November 22, 2010, 04:48:39 PM
Dispatch: The Irish Bailout and Germany's Opportunity
November 22, 2010 | 2220 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Analyst Marko Papic examines the EU-IMF bailout of Ireland and the opportunities it may present for Germany.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

The EU and the IMF have come to an agreement with Ireland to provide Dublin with between €80 and €90 billion worth of loans. The bailout will be conditioned on Ireland pushing through a budget deficit reduction plan that will seek to bring the budget deficit under 3% of GDP as mandated by the Eurozone fiscal rules.

The terms of the bailout deal are still being revealed but what seems to be clear at this point is that the Irish low corporate tax rate will remain the same. At 12.5% the Irish corporate tax rate is one of the lowest in Europe and has really been the point of contention between Ireland and its larger EU member states. Countries like France have for long time focused on the Irish corporate tax rate in the argued that it gives Dublin an unfair competitive advantage over continental economies and that Ireland has been able to attract investors into Ireland with it’s low corporate rate. However behind this criticism is also a perception in Paris but also in Berlin that the low corporate tax rate has allowed Ireland to also be independent and to be independent-minded, however Dublin is fully funded until mid-2011 and therefore it felt that it was able to protect its corporate tax rate in the negotiations for the bailout right now, it felt it had an upper hand so to say.

What has happened now is that Germany seems to have withdrawn the corporate tax rate as one of the conditions for the bailout and has therefore allowed Ireland to keep it for the time being. Germany and France will take a wait-and-see approach with Ireland on this thorny issue and will wait for Ireland to slip up on the terms of its bailout bringing up the corporate tax rate perhaps at some later point in the future.

For Germany the bailout is another opportunity. First it allows Berlin to illustrates to the markets the effectiveness of the European Financial Stability Fund the EFSF which has about €440 billion plus the IMF money that brings it up to €750 billion. Now the fund was specifically designed to bail out Ireland, Portugal and Spain if the need arose. Now Ireland is falling down which means that Portugal could very will be next but the Portuguese needs would not be anymore to those of Ireland and Greece. And therefore the FSF has more than enough to handle both Ireland and Portugal however if Madrid also taps the EFSF the euro zone and Berlin may soon find themselves without any more ammunition in their clip to deal with further crises.

Ultimately Germany does not feel that the current crisis is one of existential nature. On one hand the uncertainty about the Eurozone and its’ markets means that the Euro is trading lower which helps German exports immensely. Furthermore Germany is using the opportunity of the crisis to redesign the European Union and its institutions and especially Eurozone fiscal rules and enforcement mechanisms of those rules. The real test for Eurozone therefore is not the panic level in Madrid or Lisbon or Dublin rather to what extent are the policymakers in Berlin concened.

23154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 22, 2010, 12:43:01 PM
a) that former DHS head Chertkoff (sp?) lobbied for the Rapiscan scanners? and/or

GM Having people leave either elected or appointed office to then lobby for private industry is nothing new.

Marc:   Neither is corruption, the possibility of which is the point of my question.

b) assertions that they do not spot items such as the Crispy Weiner bomber's bombs?

GM: To determine that, we'd need to experiment with the backscatter device as it's used by TSA. I don't know that the critics have done that.

Marc:  Nor am I aware of data showing that these things WOULD pick up Crispy Weiner bombs.   You frequently amaze me with your ability to come up with citations for your positions.    Please feel free to amaze me again.  smiley

23155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 22, 2010, 11:53:13 AM
GM:

What do you make of

a) that former DHS head Chertkoff (sp?) lobbied for the Rapiscan scanners? and/or
b) assertions that they do not spot items such as the Crispy Weiner bomber's bombs?
c) Also, what about the use of dogs instead of radiation and groping?
23156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / LEDs on: November 22, 2010, 09:24:49 AM
I think LEDs (new kind of hi tech light) are going to be a VERY strong sector and have what are for me some very large postions.  The sector had a huge run up  grin and recently gave a goodly portion of it back.  cry    My belief in this hypothesis is such that I added more.  Biggest position is CREE.  Others are AIXG, RBCN, and PWER.  Some of these are not pure LED plays. 

IMHO (and I have been wrong plenty) it is still a very good time to get in on these.  RBCN has been the subject of intense shorting and the shorts may be about to get stuffed worse than by a TSA groping  cheesy  DO YOUR OWN DILIGENCE, ONLY YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU.

The very savvy David Gordon writes:

"Oh, sure, I get that the bears conceded a great Q3 but wait, they say, for a terrible Q4. Except, Q4 is half-complete, and my tracking indicia show yet another phenomenal quarter. (Caveat: for a company of Rubicon’s size, teeny, one order postponement could put a serious damper on a quarter’s revenues.) So what we have is a stock in an intermediate term correction, which you and I hope and prefer to be an intermediate term base.

"While to my eye RBCN’s chart did not presage an upside “sling-shot” I would have preferred it had not reversed and declined as it has. I know one thing: granted sufficient time, RBCN will be much higher than today’s close and much higher than its all time high.

btw, a bottom is not the low trade but a process that unfolds over time.

Reply
■  says:
November 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm
What do these short traders know or are they soon to be creamed?

Stocks With Huge Short Interests (RBCN, BPI, GAP, CONN)

"Rubicon Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: RBCN) has approximately 60% of its float sold short, as of November 9.
Rubicon is a semiconductor company, trading at just over 10 times next years earnings, so it’s not expensive at all. The company has traded in a wide range in the past year, from $13.68 to $35.90, so shares are fairly volatile.

Read more: http://www.benzinga.com/trading-ideas/long-ideas/10/11/611497/stocks-with-huge-short-interests-rbcn-bpi-gap-conn#ixzz15U20vkfE

Reply
■ dmg says:
November 17, 2010 at 4:40 am
File the question, Patrick, under “What’s wrong with this picture?” 

"The shorts remain convinced that RBCN cannot, will not, sustain its revenues and earnings. Oops, but the company has to date. So the shorts argue now that its margins are unsustainable, and emphasize that everyone will see this truth in the next earnings (Q4) report. Except my channel checks show that this argument (declining margins to occur NOW) also incorrect. The initial glimmers of intermediate term bases for the group begin to proliferate — first AIXG and VECO, now CREE — grants succor to the investor. Only RBCN continues to suck swamp water. But for how much longer…?

"Imagine or pretend you are not already long the shares. Piece together the puzzle and ask yourself, “Does the decline, and possible i/t base, offer itself as opportunity to invest?” I know my answer. And I believe the market offers its clues. I gain confidence by the action of the group AND RBCN’s patterns in its larger periodicities (weekly and monthly bars).

23157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / But , , , we didn't think they really meant it , , , on: November 22, 2010, 08:18:08 AM
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/18/20101122/tuk-pupils-taught-to-carry-out-sharia-pu-a7ad41d.html

Pupils at Islamic schools across the country are being taught to chop off a criminal's hand and that Jews are conspiring to take over the world, a BBC investigation claimed on Monday.

Up to 5,000 pupils aged between six and 18 are being taught Sharia law punishments using "weekend-school" text-books which claim those who do not believe in Islam will be subjected to "hellfire" in death, the Panorama programme said.

A text book for 15-year-olds advises: "For thieves their hands will be cut off for a first offence, and their foot for a subsequent offence."

"The specified punishment of the thief is cutting off his right hand at the wrist. Then it is cauterised to prevent him from bleeding to death," it added.

Young pupils are warned that the punishment for engaging in homosexual acts is death by stoning, burning with fire or throwing off a cliff and that the "main goal" of the Jews is to "have control over the world and its resources."

The schools are part of the "Saudi Students Clubs and Schools in the UK and Ireland" organisation. The BBC investigation claimed that one school in London is owned by the Saudi government.

Education Minister Michael Gove told the BBC programme: "I have no desire or wish to intervene in the decisions that the Saudi government makes in its own education system.

"But I?m clear that we cannot have anti-Semitic material of any kind being used in English schools. Ofsted (Britain's education watchdog) will be reporting to me shortly."
23158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Now, that's a big satellite , , , on: November 22, 2010, 08:06:24 AM
http://www.themoneytimes.com/featured/20101122/us-military-launches-world039s-largest-satellite-id-10142445.html

National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) released a press note saying that the Air Force has launched its spy satellite from Cape Canaveral station on Sunday at 5:58 p.m.

The satellite is being dubbed as the largest satellite in the world. More details were not given as it is a classified mission.

The unmanned 23-story rocket carried the classified spy satellite.

Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, commander 45th Space Wing of the Air Force, said that this mission will help them in strengthening the national defense.

“Experts believe that the secret payload is a satellite capable of listening to a variety of transmissions from around the world. Such a satellite would have giant antennas stretching up to the size of a football field.
”Rocket launch faced many delays
The satellite, called NROL-32, had to face a series of delays due to technical problems.

The latest was a fault in the pair of temperature sensors, which delayed the Nov. 19 launch.

The 235 feet Delta 4 rocket is actually made up of three boosters, providing 2 million pounds of thrust and making it the most powerful rocket in service.

The rocket is made by United Launch Alliance, which is a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed. It made its first flight in 2004.

The rocket is capable of carrying payloads up to 24 tons in to low Earth orbit and 11 tons in geosynchronous orbits, which is used by communication satellites.

Experts believe that the secret payload is a satellite capable of listening to a variety of transmissions from around the world. Such a satellite would have giant antennas stretching up to the size of a football field.

Cloudy skies denied the spectacular show to the observers that could have been made more splendid by the rising moon.

But Florida residents doesn't need to be disappointed as they may be able to see space shuttle Discovery blast off on its final flight on Dec. 3, this year.

Satellite termed crucial for national defense
NRO Director Bruce Carlson said in press release that this is the most aggressive launch NRO had in the last 20 years.

He added that the new satellites are necessary for the new missions of NRO and will replace the existing ones before they fail.

“Now when I buy something people complain about how expensive it is, but nobody ever complains when it’s time to die and keep right on ticking,” Carlson a former general of the Air Force added. “We bought most of our satellites for three, five or eight years and we keep them in orbit for ten, twelve and up to twenty years.”

23159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Look at the bright side on: November 21, 2010, 10:19:18 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joIxWcFO3bY&feature=player_embedded
23160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: November 21, 2010, 10:15:05 PM
OK, , , but this is English, not Hebrew.  I can tell because I know I can't read or speak Hebrew, but I can read this. cheesy
23161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: November 21, 2010, 07:03:26 PM
"The soul is liberated from the body and returns closer to her source than ever before. , , , If the soul has become entrenched in material pleasures, she experiences the pain of ripping herself away from them so that she can experience the infinitely higher pleasure of basking in G-dly light. If she is soiled and injured by acts that sundered her from her true self while below, then she must be cleansed and healed. On the other hand, the good deeds and wisdom she has gained on her mission below serve as a protection for her journey upwards."

Why the use of the feminine pronouns here?
23162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Charleston, SC 1860 on: November 21, 2010, 01:19:41 PM
As he stepped gingerly from a launch onto the wharf, few of those watching could have imagined that this man would, within a matter of weeks, become the most famous military officer in America. None, surely, could have guessed that women would soon beg for locks of that meticulously combed gray hair, or that woodcuts of that bland, impassive face would appear on the front pages of magazines around the nation and across the Atlantic.

Everything about him seemed middling. He was in his fifties, of intermediate rank, medium height and moderate demeanor; circumspect in his political opinions; pleasant-mannered but lacking in charm; handsome without the slightest degree of magnetism. He was known in the service mainly – to the extent that he was known at all – for having translated certain French artillery textbooks into English. Even his name was nondescript, easily forgettable: Maj. Robert Anderson.

Library of Congress
 
Robert AndersonAnd yet here was the person to whom the United States government had just entrusted one of the most delicate military and political assignments in American history: command of the federal garrison in Charleston Harbor, the very epicenter of the exploding secession crisis. Perhaps more than any man except Abraham Lincoln himself, Anderson would set the course of events in the months ahead, and would make decisions that fixed the country on a path toward war or peace.

Within a fortnight after Lincoln’s election, everyone in America was aware that South Carolina would soon attempt to leave the Union; its legislature had already set a date for a “secession convention” in less than a month’s time. As soon as the formalities were complete, all federal property within the state’s borders would be, at least to the seceders’ eyes, subject to immediate confiscation. In particular, the three forts guarding Charleston Harbor – of which Anderson was about to take command on behalf of the United States – would immediately become foreign military bases within the sovereign Republic of South Carolina. Would they surrender peacefully – or, by resisting, bring war?

Luckily for the founding fathers of the nascent republic, those three citadels – Fort Moultrie, Castle Pinckney and Fort Sumter – “guarded” Charleston in only the most figurative sense. Waiting on Moultrie’s parade ground to welcome Anderson was a tiny detachment of soldiers that could scarcely even be termed a garrison: just two companies of barely 30 men each, not counting a small brass band.

And these were anything spit-and-polish troops. Their outgoing commander, Lt. Col. John Gardner, 67 years old, had been shunted off to Fort Moultrie as a none-too-demanding spot where he could wind down an army career that had begun in the hazy days before the War of 1812. Not surprisingly, Gardner was far from a martinet, and his men spent more time attending local cotillions and barbecues than they did taking artillery practice. Drifts of sand half-covered Fort Moultrie’s outer walls; grazing cows sometimes wandered blithely across the battlements.

Related
Civil War Timeline

An unfolding history of the Civil War with photos and articles from the Times archive and ongoing commentary from Disunion contributors.

Visit the Timeline »
.The two other two forts posed even less of a threat to the forces of secession. Fort Sumter, built on an artificial island in the harbor’s mouth, sat unfinished after decades of start-and-stop construction, and it housed just a few military engineers supervising some civilian workmen. Castle Pinckney, though its guns overlooked the town itself, was under the protection of but a single ordnance sergeant.

The cautious, temporizing administration of James Buchanan, the lame-duck president, may have appointed Anderson because he seemed as unthreatening as the forts themselves. Born in the border state of Kentucky, he detested secessionists and abolitionists in equal measure. The major personally owned no slaves, but his Georgia-born wife had inherited quite a number, whom she later sold off; Anderson once quipped dryly that “the increase of her darkies” had made him rich. He knew both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line well: his long career had seen him posted to Maine and Florida, New Jersey and Virginia. When the War Department plucked him out of the middle ranks of the officer corps for the Charleston appointment, he was serving on a commission to revise the curriculum at West Point, where he had once been an instructor.

Anderson had fought the Seminoles, led troops in the war with Mexico, and been brevetted for gallantry at Molino del Rey – but, as a devout Christian, he loved peace. Indeed, he loathed violence with the certitude of a man who had seen far too much of it already. The Buchanan administration believed it had found a soldier incapable of any rash act, one who would put no American lives at risk either to disrupt the Union or to defend it.

But the officers and men who welcomed Major Anderson to Charleston inspected their quiet new commander with searching eyes. They knew that in a certain sense, he – and they – would hold more power in the months ahead than President Buchanan himself. “The truth is we are the government at present,” one of them would soon write. “It rests upon the points of our swords. Shall we use our position to deluge the country in blood?”

23163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Von Mises on: November 21, 2010, 01:45:53 AM
This piece could go on the Economics thread on the SCH forum, but I put it here because of the reference to Glenn Beck-- who BTW IMHO had a fine week this week.
===========

Buttonwood
Nov 18th 2010

Taking von Mises to pieces

Why is the Austrian explanation for the crisis so little discussed?

 

JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES is back. The British economist has modern intellectual champions in Paul Krugman and Robert Skidelsky. For all today’s talk of austerity, a policy of Keynesian fiscal stimulus was adopted by most governments in the immediate aftermath of the credit crisis.

 

In contrast policymakers seem to show a lot less interest in the economic ideas of the “Austrian school” led by Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, who once battled Keynes for intellectual supremacy. Yet the more you think about recent events, the odder that neglect seems.

 

A one-paragraph explanation of the Austrian theory of business cycles would run as follows. Interest rates are held at too low a level, creating a credit boom. Low financing costs persuade entrepreneurs to fund too many projects. Capital is misallocated into wasteful areas. When the bust comes the economy is stuck with the burden of excess capacity, which then takes years to clear up.

 

Take that analysis piece by piece. Were interest rates held too low? The case seems self-evident for Ireland and Spain, where the European Central Bank was setting a one-size-fits-all monetary policy. Many people would also argue that the Federal Reserve kept rates too low. Some lay the housing boom of 2003-06 at the Fed’s door, others criticise the central bank’s tendency to slash rates whenever the financial markets wobbled.

 

Was capital misallocated? Again most people would accept that too many houses and apartments were built in Ireland and Spain, as well as individual American states like Florida and Nevada. In some places these dwellings may sit idle for a while, keeping downward pressure on property prices.

 

Economists who would not describe themselves as Austrian have reached conclusions that chime with Hayek. Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, in their book “This Time is Different”, argued that past financial crises have been followed by long periods of sluggish growth. Hyman Minsky, an American economist who died in 1996, said that the financial cycle led to economic volatility. Long booms tended to result in excessive risk-taking and “Ponzi finance”, where investors buy assets with borrowed money in the hope of quick capital gains. Minsky’s reputation has soared since the start of the credit crunch.

 

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a very popular financial author thanks to his books “Fooled by Randomness” and “The Black Swan”. One of his principal ideas is the difficulty of forecasting given the role of chance and extreme events. That echoes the views of Hayek, who wrote that “the curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

 

The Austrians may have said smart things about the boom, but what about the bust? One criticism is that the Austrians offered a “counsel of despair”, suggesting that the authorities do nothing while a crisis blows itself out. At least the monetarists propose cutting rates and expanding the money supply and the Keynesians promote deficit spending.

 

But Lawrence White, an economist at George Mason University in Washington, DC, argues that this is an unfair characterisation. “Hayek was not a liquidationist,” he says, referring to the philosophy of Andrew Mellon, President Herbert Hoover’s Depression-era treasury secretary, who wanted to “purge the rottenness out of the system”. Hayek believed the central bank should aim to stabilise nominal incomes. On that basis Mr White thinks the Fed was right to pursue the first round of quantitative easing, since nominal GDP was falling, but wrong to pursue a second round with activity recovering.

 

Mr White is one of the few current economists to promote the Austrian approach. This may be because economists divided into Keynesians and monetarists in the 1970s. You might think that the Austrians would find common cause with the monetarists. But Milton Friedman rejected their analysis, stating in 1998 that: “The Austrian business-cycle theory has done the world a great deal of harm.” Efficient-market theorists disliked the Austrians because they appeared to assume that businessmen could act irrationally.

 

The libertarian streak of the Austrians still has its fans. Glenn Beck, a lachrymose Fox News pundit, turned Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” into an unlikely bestseller earlier this year. Being associated with Mr Beck will not persuade many academics to take Austrian economic ideas seriously. Given the repeated credit booms and busts of the past 40 years, that may be a pity.
23164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New Nork nuke plant on: November 21, 2010, 01:29:14 AM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Sat, November 20, 2010 -- 9:00 PM ET
-----

North Koreans Unveil New Plant for Nuclear Use

North Korea showed a visiting American nuclear scientist last
week a vast new facility it secretly and rapidly built to
enrich uranium, confronting the Obama administration with the
prospect that the country is preparing to expand its nuclear
arsenal or build a far more powerful type of atomic bomb.

Whether the calculated revelation is a negotiating ploy by
North Korea or a signal that it plans to accelerate its
weapons program even as it goes through a perilous leadership
change, it creates a new challenge for President Obama.

The scientist, Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who
previously directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said
in an interview that he had been "stunned" by the
sophistication of the new plant.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/world/asia/21intel.html?emc=na
23165  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Vancouver January 29-20 on: November 20, 2010, 04:23:41 PM
PS:  Loki/Tricky Dog - Maelstrom Martial Arts - 604.908.5833

23166  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Guro Crafty in Vancouver January 29-30 on: November 20, 2010, 04:22:24 PM
Woof All:

I am delighted to announce my return to Vancouver, once again to be hosted by my good friend Tricky Dog.  The seminar will be held at www.tactixgym.com  

More info to follow soon.

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
23167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Preaching to the choir around here on: November 20, 2010, 04:00:22 PM
Government Strangles High-Tech Growth
Published on August 28, 2010 by Ernest Istook

The CEO of Intel has joined the ranks of those labeling big government as
the cause of our economic slump, not the solution.
Paul Otellini says it already costs Intel an extra billion dollars to build
a microchip plant in the U.S., rather than overseas. In his illustration,
it's an extra 25% to create a $4 billion facility.
He told this to an Aspen gathering of the Technology Policy Institute,
adding that government is killing America's leadership for jobs of tomorrow.
Otellini said, "We seemed a generation ahead of the rest of the world in
information technology. That simply is no longer the case."
While promoting education, research, favorable trade policies, and broadband
expansion, he made it clear that tax policies are key--policies that are the
opposite of what Congress and the Obama Administration are promoting:
As CNET reported on his speech, "Take factories. 'I can tell you
definitively that it costs costs1 billion more per factory for me to build,
equip, and operate a semiconductor manufacturing facility in the United
States,' Otellini said. The rub: Ninety percent of that additional cost of a
$4 billion factory is not labor but the cost to comply with taxes and
regulations that other nations don't impose."
How do we get companies to expand in America rather than overseas? The Intel
CEO explained, "Adjust the U.S. corporate tax rate to a rate that is
competitive world-wide. At Intel, we generate 75% of our revenue and much of
our profit abroad. The U.S. tax treatment of that income makes it extremely
expensive to repatriate that profit and invest here. If our tax rate
approached the rest of the world, corporations would have a natural
incentive to invest here given many of the natural advantages that exist in
this country."
He suggested lowering the rate to 25%. That reduction echoes a Heritage
Foundation proposal in its "Solutions for America," which recommends, "The
U.S. corporate tax rate should be set at or below the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development average of 26% to eliminate the
incentive to move businesses and jobs overseas."
Otellini also stressed the need not to penalize companies when they
repatriate their foreign earnings and bring them back to the U.S. He's
joined by many others in the high-tech community who warn that what some
call "closing tax loopholes" actually hurts the ability to create jobs in
America. Sybase CEO John Chen has written, "President Barack Obama has
proposed to raise taxes on the international operations of U.S. businesses.
There is one thing the proposal can effectively achieve: make the United
States an even less friendly place to do business, and thus delay the
economic recovery. . . . Although intended to keep investments and jobs from
leaving our country, in the long run the measures in the proposal will drive
investments away, and kill jobs in the U.S."
The high-tech sector's complaints are part of a growing chorus from job
creators who describe how Washington is smothering economic growth.
The Business Roundtable sent a 50-page letter to the White House describing
how Obama's agenda is stifling growth and killing jobs. A GOP letter
complained of 191 intended rules and regulations that EACH would impose
$100-million or more of growth-killing cost burdens on businesses.
Worried about what their own government is doing to them, businesses
continue to sit on a $1.8-trillion cash stockpile, holding it back for the
extra costs they face from more taxes and more regulation.
The White House happy talk of a "Recovery Summer" grates like nails on a
blackboard. That rhetoric collapses with news that second quarter growth was
at a 1.6% annual rate--less than half the first quarter rate and well below
original White House numbers.
To put America back to work, it's time to heed those who create jobs, rather
than politicians who create more government. Intel and others should not
face a $1-billion hurdle to expanding in the USA instead of overseas.
Former Congressman Ernest Istook is a distinguished fellow at The Heritage
Foundation.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Commentary/2010/08/Government-Strangles-High-Tech-Growth


23168  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bruises on: November 20, 2010, 03:55:41 PM
Linda "Bitch" Matsumi recommends these:

http://www.traumeel.com/

http://www.alcis.com/

http://www.sombrausa.com/
23169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Don't mess with Texas on: November 20, 2010, 03:44:18 PM

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/11/18/americas-war-texas-mounts-counterinsurgency-effort/#ixzz15eiV26Yv
23170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-11 on: November 20, 2010, 03:36:30 PM
OMII is back home in the USA.  Welcome home! cool
23171  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Flying Car on: November 20, 2010, 01:28:07 PM
I've been in a few traffic jams where this would have been handy , , ,

http://www.eaavideo.org/video.aspx?v=635469588001
23172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 19, 2010, 06:27:28 PM
Glenn Beck says that former DHS head Chertkoff (sp?) is a lobbyist for the company that makes the scanners (Rapiscan) and that George Soros until 3 days ago had 11,000 shares.

Also, that Europe uses dogs just fine to solve the same challenges.
23173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Allman Bros: Whipping Post with very good quality video on: November 19, 2010, 06:25:08 PM
http://www.wolfgangsvault.com/?utm_source=NL&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=101119#interumVideoPlayer
23174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / And so it goes , , , on: November 19, 2010, 10:41:46 AM


Around the Nation: Latinos Now Majority in CA Schools
Thanks to an immigration influx and a higher Latino birth rate, the state of California announced last week that Latinos are now an absolute majority among California public school students. That news was greeted by advice for Latino parents by UC-Berkeley professor of education and public policy Bruce Fuller: Their influence will only grow as they realize the schools they attend are underfunded. Leave it to a UC-Berkeley professor to forget, conveniently, that California schools just received an extra infusion of $1.2 billion from the federal government prior to the start of the school year. It's also worth pointing out that only around 60 percent of those Latino parents are currently able to vote, since many are here illegally with their children now attending public schools.

Add in the fact that illegal immigrant children are able to attend California's public university system for just the cost of in-state tuition, and it's small wonder that outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who promised to terminate the $15 billion deficit he was handed in 2004, is leaving behind a budget hole that's grown to more than $25 billion. Of course, it could also have something to do with this list of California agencies sucking the state dry.

Given the state's fiscal disaster and high unemployment, perhaps the main reason Latinos are now the majority in the state's schools is that 5,000 legal American citizens are fleeing the state each week. It's a trend that shows few signs of abating.

23175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta on: November 19, 2010, 10:40:03 AM
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta
In a ceremony at the White House Tuesday, United States Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta became the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the account of Giunta's actions, click here.

Of Giunta, Wall Street Journal columnist and former Bush speechwriter William McGurn wrote, "When we think of military heroism, we may think of Rambos decorated for great damage inflicted on the enemy. In fact, the opposite is true. Every Medal of Honor from these wars has been for an effort to save life. Even more telling, each specifically recognizes bravery that cannot be commanded."

"On that ridge in Afghanistan, Salvatore Giunta could not save his sergeant," McGurn continued. "But he did deprive the enemy of its victory -- and death of some of its sting. ... [A] fellow soldier (who earned a Silver Star in the same firefight) put it this way. 'The last thing [Sgt. Josh] Brennan ever saw was us,' says Sgt. Erick Gallardo. 'You know, he saw us fighting for him. ... We fought for him and he's home with his family now because of that.' It's a soldier's gift. Because of Sgt. Giunta, the family of Josh Brennan know that when their loved one breathed his last, he did so knowing he was among friends willing to put their own lives at risk for him." A fine gift, indeed. Thank you, Staff Sgt. Giunta, for your service to our great country.

23176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WTH, it was only 18 minutes , , , on: November 19, 2010, 10:33:45 AM
Politics
Internet Traffic from U.S. Government Websites Was Redirected Via Chinese Servers

By Joshua Rhett Miller

Published November 16, 2010

When 15 percent of the world's Internet traffic -- including the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates office, the Senate and several U.S. government agencies — was redirected last April onto computer routers in China, it also may have left the sites vulnerable to surveillance — or worse.

Nearly 15 percent of the world's Internet traffic -- including data from the Pentagon, the office of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other U.S. government websites -- was briefly redirected through computer networks in China last April, according to a congressional commission report obtained by FoxNews.com.

It was not immediately clear whether the incident was deliberate, but the April 18 redirection could have enabled malicious activities and potentially caused an unintended "diversion of data" from many U.S. government, military and commercial websites, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states in a 316-page report to Congress.

A draft copy of the report was obtained on Tuesday by FoxNews.com. The final 2010 annual report to Congress will be released during a press conference in Washington on Wednesday.

According to the draft report, a state-owned Chinese telecommunications firm, China Telecom, "hijacked" massive volumes of Internet traffic during the 18-minute incident. It affected traffic to and from .gov and .mil websites in the United States, as well as websites for the Senate, all four military services, the office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and "many others," including websites for firms like Dell, Yahoo, IBM and Microsoft.

"Although the Commission has no way to determine what, if anything, Chinese telecommunications firms did to the hijacked data, incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications," the report reads. "This level of access could enable surveillance of specific users or sites."

Citing a separate cyberattack against Google's operations in China earlier this year, the report notes China's history of "malicious computer activities" that "raise questions about whether China might seek intentionally to leverage these abilities to assert some level of control over the Internet, even for a brief period."

The report continues, "Any attempt to do this would likely be counter to the interests of the United States and other countries. At the very least, these incidents demonstrate the inherent vulnerabilities in the Internet's architecture that can affect all Internet users and beneficiaries at home and abroad."

Chris Smoak, a research scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, said, whether intentional or accidental, incidents like the one on April 18 occur "two or three times a year" as large amounts of data are routed through multiple nations. He declined to indicate whether he believes the incident was deliberate.

"There's no way to really say," Smoak said. "Due to the short duration, it's very difficult to say."

Smoak said security vulnerabilities pertaining to Internet routing processes is one of the more "unfortunate aspects" of the digital age.

"They weren't designed with security in mind, they were designed with performance in mind and the end result," he said referring to the routing system. "We're very susceptible in that anyone could do this at any time."

The report details how the Internet routing process is susceptible to manipulation and lists how the exchange of data between networking equipment typically relies on "trust-based" transactions.

The report reads: "If a computer user in California, for example, seeks to visit a website hosted in Texas, the data would likely make several 'hops' (that is, transit multiple servers) along the way," the report reads. "Data are supposed to travel along the most efficient route. However, Internet infrastructure does not necessarily correlate to the geographical world in a predictable way, so it would be unusual for data to transit a server physically located in Georgia, or some other somewhat removed location."

The process, however, could be subject to manipulation if networking equipment in a remote location, such as China, advertised a route claiming to be the most efficient data path. Effectively, Smoak said, the servers will try to get the information to its destination by the fastest means possible, but the data could conceivably be censored or changed altogether.

"It's an unfortunate aspect of the technology we use today," Smoak said. "It's all based on trust."

Sam Masiello, director of threat management at McAfee, said the security breach could have been potentially "very damaging" given the large amounts of data transferred across the Internet every second.

"It could potentially be very damaging, the reason being you don't know what traffic was being routed to those servers at the time," Masiello told FoxNews.com. "But if you're the criminal, how do you identify [sensitive information]? It's like trying to find a very small needle in a very, very large haystack."

Masiello said he did not find any evidence leading him to believe that the incident was intentional, but noted increasing number of cyberattacks emanating from China.

"We've certainly seen a lot of Internet crime coming out of China and a lot of criminals that are based out of China, but as far as an actual link back to China Telecom, it's very difficult to say," Masiello said. "Who's to say criminals did not get into China Telecom? But the fact of the matter remains, we've seen a lot of cybercrime emanating out of China in the past year."

Regardless of the intention behind the breach, Masiello concluded: "This type of attack shows there is a vulnerability in the Internet system, even if someone if able to hijack it for a very short period of time."


23177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NY Times: This is your brain on metaphors on: November 19, 2010, 10:02:17 AM
Despite rumors to the contrary, there are many ways in which the human brain isn’t all that fancy. Let’s compare it to the nervous system of a fruit fly. Both are made up of cells, of course, with neurons playing particularly important roles. Now one might expect that a neuron from a human will differ dramatically from one from a fly. Maybe the human’s will have especially ornate ways of communicating with other neurons, making use of unique “neurotransmitter” messengers. Maybe compared to the lowly fly neuron, human neurons are bigger, more complex, in some way can run faster and jump higher.

We study hard to get admitted to a top college to get a good job to get into the nursing home of our choice. Gophers don’t do that.
.But no. Look at neurons from the two species under a microscope and they look the same. They have the same electrical properties, many of the same neurotransmitters, the same protein channels that allow ions to flow in and out, as well as a remarkably high number of genes in common. Neurons are the same basic building blocks in both species.

So where’s the difference? It’s numbers — humans have roughly one million neurons for each one in a fly. And out of a human’s 100 billion neurons emerge some pretty remarkable things. With enough quantity, you generate quality.


Erin Schell
 Neuroscientists understand the structural bases of some of these qualities. Take language, that uniquely human behavior. Underlining it are structures unique to the human brain — regions like “Broca’s area,” which specializes in language production. Then there’s the brain’s “extrapyramidal system,” which is involved in fine motor control. The complexity of the human version allows us to do something that, say, a polar bear, could never accomplish — sufficiently independent movement of digits to play a trill on the piano, for instance. Particularly striking is the human frontal cortex. While occurring in all mammals, the human version is proportionately bigger and denser in its wiring. And what is the frontal cortex good for? Emotional regulation, gratification postponement, executive decision-making, long-term planning. We study hard in high school to get admitted to a top college to get into grad school to get a good job to get into the nursing home of our choice. Gophers don’t do that.

There’s another domain of unique human skills, and neuroscientists are learning a bit about how the brain pulls it off.

Consider the following from J. Ruth Gendler’s wonderful “The Book of Qualities,” a collection of “character sketches” of different qualities, emotions and attributes:

Anxiety is secretive. He does not trust anyone, not even his friends, Worry, Terror, Doubt and Panic … He likes to visit me late at night when I am alone and exhausted. I have never slept with him, but he kissed me on the forehead once, and I had a headache for two years …

Or:

Compassion speaks with a slight accent. She was a vulnerable child, miserable in school, cold, shy … In ninth grade she was befriended by Courage. Courage lent Compassion bright sweaters, explained the slang, showed her how to play volleyball.

What is Gendler going on about? We know, and feel pleasure triggered by her unlikely juxtapositions. Despair has stopped listening to music. Anger sharpens kitchen knives at the local supermarket. Beauty wears a gold shawl and sells seven kinds of honey at the flea market. Longing studies archeology.

Symbols, metaphors, analogies, parables, synecdoche, figures of speech: we understand them. We understand that a captain wants more than just hands when he orders all of them on deck. We understand that Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” isn’t really about a cockroach. If we are of a certain theological ilk, we see bread and wine intertwined with body and blood. We grasp that the right piece of cloth can represent a nation and its values, and that setting fire to such a flag is a highly charged act. We can learn that a certain combination of sounds put together by Tchaikovsky represents Napoleon getting his butt kicked just outside Moscow. And that the name “Napoleon,” in this case, represents thousands and thousands of soldiers dying cold and hungry, far from home.

And we even understand that June isn’t literally busting out all over. It would seem that doing this would be hard enough to cause a brainstorm. So where did this facility with symbolism come from? It strikes me that the human brain has evolved a necessary shortcut for doing so, and with some major implications.

A single part of the brain processes both physical and psychic pain.
.Consider an animal (including a human) that has started eating some rotten, fetid, disgusting food. As a result, neurons in an area of the brain called the insula will activate. Gustatory disgust. Smell the same awful food, and the insula activates as well. Think about what might count as a disgusting food (say, taking a bite out of a struggling cockroach). Same thing.

Now read in the newspaper about a saintly old widow who had her home foreclosed by a sleazy mortgage company, her medical insurance canceled on flimsy grounds, and got a lousy, exploitative offer at the pawn shop where she tried to hock her kidney dialysis machine. You sit there thinking, those bastards, those people are scum, they’re worse than maggots, they make me want to puke … and your insula activates. Think about something shameful and rotten that you once did … same thing. Not only does the insula “do” sensory disgust; it does moral disgust as well. Because the two are so viscerally similar. When we evolved the capacity to be disgusted by moral failures, we didn’t evolve a new brain region to handle it. Instead, the insula expanded its portfolio.

Or consider pain. Somebody pokes your big left toe with a pin. Spinal reflexes cause you to instantly jerk your foot back just as they would in, say, a frog. Evolutionarily ancient regions activate in the brain as well, telling you about things like the intensity of the pain, or whether it’s a sharp localized pain or a diffuse burning one. But then there’s a fancier, more recently evolved brain region in the frontal cortex called the anterior cingulate that’s involved in the subjective, evaluative response to the pain. A piranha has just bitten you? That’s a disaster. The shoes you bought are a size too small? Well, not as much of a disaster.

Now instead, watch your beloved being poked with the pin. And your anterior cingulate will activate, as if it were you in pain. There’s a neurotransmitter called Substance P that is involved in the nuts and bolts circuitry of pain perception. Administer a drug that blocks the actions of Substance P to people who are clinically depressed, and they often feel better, feel less of the world’s agonies. When humans evolved the ability to be wrenched with feeling the pain of others, where was it going to process it? It got crammed into the anterior cingulate. And thus it “does” both physical and psychic pain.

Another truly interesting domain in which the brain confuses the literal and metaphorical is cleanliness. In a remarkable study, Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto and Katie Liljenquist of Northwestern University demonstrated how the brain has trouble distinguishing between being a dirty scoundrel and being in need of a bath. Volunteers were asked to recall either a moral or immoral act in their past. Afterward, as a token of appreciation, Zhong and Liljenquist offered the volunteers a choice between the gift of a pencil or of a package of antiseptic wipes. And the folks who had just wallowed in their ethical failures were more likely to go for the wipes. In the next study, volunteers were told to recall an immoral act of theirs. Afterward, subjects either did or did not have the opportunity to clean their hands. Those who were able to wash were less likely to respond to a request for help (that the experimenters had set up) that came shortly afterward. Apparently, Lady Macbeth and Pontius Pilate weren’t the only ones to metaphorically absolve their sins by washing their hands.

This potential to manipulate behavior by exploiting the brain’s literal-metaphorical confusions about hygiene and health is also shown in a study by Mark Landau and Daniel Sullivan of the University of Kansas and Jeff Greenberg of the University of Arizona. Subjects either did or didn’t read an article about the health risks of airborne bacteria. All then read a history article that used imagery of a nation as a living organism with statements like, “Following the Civil War, the United States underwent a growth spurt.” Those who read about scary bacteria before thinking about the U.S. as an organism were then more likely to express negative views about immigration.

Another example of how the brain links the literal and the metaphorical comes from a study by Lawrence Williams of the University of Colorado and John Bargh of Yale. Volunteers would meet one of the experimenters, believing that they would be starting the experiment shortly. In reality, the experiment began when the experimenter, seemingly struggling with an armful of folders, asks the volunteer to briefly hold their coffee. As the key experimental manipulation, the coffee was either hot or iced. Subjects then read a description of some individual, and those who had held the warmer cup tended to rate the individual as having a warmer personality, with no change in ratings of other attributes.

Another brilliant study by Bargh and colleagues concerned haptic sensations (I had to look the word up — haptic: related to the sense of touch). Volunteers were asked to evaluate the resumes of supposed job applicants where, as the critical variable, the resume was attached to a clipboard of one of two different weights. Subjects who evaluated the candidate while holding the heavier clipboard tended to judge candidates to be more serious, with the weight of the clipboard having no effect on how congenial the applicant was judged. After all, we say things like “weighty matter” or “gravity of a situation.”

What are we to make of the brain processing literal and metaphorical versions of a concept in the same brain region? Or that our neural circuitry doesn’t cleanly differentiate between the real and the symbolic? What are the consequences of the fact that evolution is a tinkerer and not an inventor, and has duct-taped metaphors and symbols to whichever pre-existing brain areas provided the closest fit?

Jonathan Haidt, of the University of Virginia, has shown how viscera and emotion often drive our decisionmaking, with conscious cognition mopping up afterward, trying to come up with rationalizations for that gut decision. The viscera that can influence moral decisionmaking and the brain’s confusion about the literalness of symbols can have enormous consequences. Part of the emotional contagion of the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda arose from the fact that when militant Hutu propagandists called for the eradication of the Tutsi, they iconically referred to them as “cockroaches.” Get someone to the point where his insula activates at the mention of an entire people, and he’s primed to join the bloodletting.

Related
More From The Stone
Read previous contributions to this series.
.But if the brain confusing reality and literalness with metaphor and symbol can have adverse consequences, the opposite can occur as well. At one juncture just before the birth of a free South Africa, Nelson Mandela entered secret negotiations with an Afrikaans general with death squad blood all over his hands, a man critical to the peace process because he led a large, well-armed Afrikaans resistance group. They met in Mandela’s house, the general anticipating tense negotiations across a conference table. Instead, Mandela led him to the warm, homey living room, sat beside him on a comfy couch, and spoke to him in Afrikaans. And the resistance melted away.

This neural confusion about the literal versus the metaphorical gives symbols enormous power, including the power to make peace. The political scientist and game theorist Robert Axelrod of the University of Michigan has emphasized this point in thinking about conflict resolution. For example, in a world of sheer rationality where the brain didn’t confuse reality with symbols, bringing peace to Israel and Palestine would revolve around things like water rights, placement of borders, and the extent of militarization allowed to Palestinian police. Instead, argues Axelrod, “mutual symbolic concessions” of no material benefit will ultimately make all the difference. He quotes a Hamas leader who says that for the process of peace to go forward, Israel must apologize for the forced Palestinians exile in 1948. And he quotes a senior Israeli official saying that for progress to be made, Palestinians need to first acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and to get their anti-Semitic garbage out of their textbooks.

Hope for true peace in the Middle East didn’t come with the news of a trade agreement being signed. It was when President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan attended the funeral of the murdered Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. That same hope came to the Northern Irish, not when ex-Unionist demagogues and ex-I.R.A. gunmen served in a government together, but when those officials publicly commiserated about each other’s family misfortunes, or exchanged anniversary gifts. And famously, for South Africans, it came not with successful negotiations about land reapportionment, but when black South Africa embraced rugby and Afrikaans rugby jocks sang the A.N.C. national anthem.

Nelson Mandela was wrong when he advised, “Don’t talk to their minds; talk to their hearts.” He meant talk to their insulas and cingulate cortices and all those other confused brain regions, because that confusion could help make for a better world.

(Robert Sapolsky’s essay is the subject of this week’s forum discussion among the humanists and scientists at On the Human, a project of the National Humanities Center.)



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
23178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Stuxnet update on: November 19, 2010, 09:54:39 AM
Tangent:  I wonder if the Chinese can do stuff like this to us?
=============


Worm Was Perfect for Sabotaging Centrifuges
By WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: November 18, 2010
 
Experts dissecting the computer worm suspected of being aimed at Iran’s nuclear program have determined that it was precisely calibrated in a way that could send nuclear centrifuges wildly out of control.

Their conclusion, while not definitive, begins to clear some of the fog around the Stuxnet worm, a malicious program detected earlier this year on computers, primarily in Iran but also India, Indonesia and other countries.

The paternity of the worm is still in dispute, but in recent weeks officials from Israel have broken into wide smiles when asked whether Israel was behind the attack, or knew who was. American officials have suggested it originated abroad.

The new forensic work narrows the range of targets and deciphers the worm’s plan of attack. Computer analysts say Stuxnet does its damage by making quick changes in the rotational speed of motors, shifting them rapidly up and down.

Changing the speed “sabotages the normal operation of the industrial control process,” Eric Chien, a researcher at the computer security company Symantec, wrote in a blog post.

Those fluctuations, nuclear analysts said in response to the report, are a recipe for disaster among the thousands of centrifuges spinning in Iran to enrich uranium, which can fuel reactors or bombs. Rapid changes can cause them to blow apart. Reports issued by international inspectors reveal that Iran has experienced many problems keeping its centrifuges running, with hundreds removed from active service since summer 2009.

“We don’t see direct confirmation” that the attack was meant to slow Iran’s nuclear work, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said in an interview Thursday. “But it sure is a plausible interpretation of the available facts.”

Intelligence officials have said they believe that a series of covert programs are responsible for at least some of that decline. So when Iran reported earlier this year that it was battling the Stuxnet worm, many experts immediately suspected that it was a state-sponsored cyberattack.

Until last week, analysts had said only that Stuxnet was designed to infect certain kinds of Siemens equipment used in a wide variety of industrial sites around the world.

But a study released Friday by Mr. Chien, Nicolas Falliere and Liam O. Murchu at Symantec, concluded that the program’s real target was to take over frequency converters, a type of power supply that changes its output frequency to control the speed of a motor.

The worm’s code was found to attack converters made by two companies, Fararo Paya in Iran and Vacon in Finland. A separate study conducted by the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that finding, a senior government official said in an interview on Thursday.

Then, on Wednesday, Mr. Albright and a colleague, Andrea Stricker, released a report saying that when the worm ramped up the frequency of the electrical current supplying the centrifuges, they would spin faster and faster. The worm eventually makes the current hit 1,410 Hertz, or cycles per second — just enough, they reported, to send the centrifuges flying apart.

In a spooky flourish, Mr. Albright said in the interview, the worm ends the attack with a command to restore the current to the perfect operating frequency for the centrifuges — which, by that time, would presumably be destroyed.

“It’s striking how close it is to the standard value,” he said.

The computer analysis, his Wednesday report concluded, “makes a legitimate case that Stuxnet could indeed disrupt or destroy” Iranian centrifuge plants.

The latest evidence does not prove Iran was the target, and there have been no confirmed reports of industrial damage linked to Stuxnet. Converters are used to control a number of different machines, including lathes, saws and turbines, and they can be found in gas pipelines and chemical plants. But converters are also essential for nuclear centrifuges.

On Wednesday, the chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity center in Virginia, Sean McGurk, told a Senate committee that the worm was a “game changer” because of the skill with which it was composed and the care with which it was geared toward attacking specific types of equipment.

Meanwhile, the search for other clues in the Stuxnet program continues — and so do the theories about its origins.
23179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Is this the BJJ school? on: November 19, 2010, 08:39:58 AM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvLOncMKDYc&feature=player_embedded
23180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ain't no sunshine , , , on: November 19, 2010, 08:02:38 AM
Dispatch: Koreas Refocusing Policy Postures
November 18, 2010 | 1938 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Following South Korea’s declaration that the Sunshine Policy has failed and North Korea threatening another nuclear test, Analyst Rodger Baker examines politics on the peninsula.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

The South Korean Unification Ministry’s latest white paper declares the Sunshine Policy a failure. The Sunshine Policy set up under former President Kim Dae Jung to encourage North Korea to change its behavior through friendly actions through economic assistance. The Unification Ministry said that this is been a failure, that the North Koreans have not changed their behavior, the North Korean population is no better off, and that it remains in effect a threat to South Korea.

As the South Koreans are reviewing their North Korean policies, the North Koreans appear to be ramping up for another nuclear test or at least making it appear that that’s what they’re doing. There are increasing reports from the region that there is activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site, and this is raising concerns that Pyongyang is going to carry out its third test.

The North Koreans have a reputation of raising the stakes before they reenter negotiations. What they will do is that they will use that to shape the discussions and shape the sense of immediacy. It brings people into the negotiations in a way where you want to deal with the immediate issue of the nuclear test, and other issues that are long-standing maybe take out second place. The North Koreans gain the benefit of going back to the status quo before they have to start stepping down from there.

As the North Koreans really try to solidify the new leadership, there is always a push for some grand and bold action to make it clear who’s in charge. When Kim Jong-Il came to power there was the Taepodong launch. With Kim Jong Un, it very well may be a nuclear test just to show that from the beginning he is strong, he is tough.

From the South perspective they’re looking at starting to take over security responsibility for the peninsula from the United States - you have changes in that dynamic with the U.S. defense relationship where really the two Koreas are our re-looking at each other. In North, you have the leadership transition underway, in the south we really moved beyond some of the past types of governments considered pro-North Korean. But also you have a new pressure building for both Koreas.

The Chinese have become much more assertive in their political behavior and even in their military behavior in the region. Japan is starting to wake up it seems - feeling threats from China, feeling threat from Russia. The United States is re-engaging in the region. And what happens when you have these large powers coming and pressing against each other in the Pacific region, very often where it all overlaps is the Korean peninsula. In southern Seoul and in Pyongyang, they’re feeling this increasing pressure, an increasing sense of concern for what historically they would’ve called the minnow between whales.

23181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NATO and other matters on: November 19, 2010, 07:55:23 AM
Senior Eurasia analyst Lauren Goodrich examines the prospects for this weekend’s crucial NATO summit in Lisbon on the alliance’s future.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Colin Chapman: NATO is at a crossroads. Friday and Saturday see the most important meeting of the organization since the end of the Cold War. The meeting to be held in the Portuguese capital Lisbon will be attended by the president of Russia for the first time. So does NATO face just a facelift or a transformation?

Welcome to Agenda. And joining me to discuss this is STRATFOR Senior Eurasia Analyst Lauren Goodrich. Lauren, the agenda looks very different at this NATO summit. It’s not going to be about Afghanistan, is it?

Lauren Goodrich: Not at all. This is the most critical NATO summit in over a decade because they’re going to be drafting the Strategic Concept Document. This Strategic Concept Document is pretty much the mission statement of NATO. It’s the third one drafted since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Strategic Concept during the Cold War, of course, was to contain the Soviets. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, the strategic concept changed to pretty much deal with the fall of the Soviet Union at first, and then shifted again in 1999 in order to expand NATO’s ability to intervene outside the Eurasian theatre. This allowed NATO to militarily intervene in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, etc… So now it’s time for the third strategic concept document to actually be drafted. This one is going to set what is NATO’s focus for the next decade. What is the threat for the next decade?

Chapman: So what is the threat in the next decade?

Goodrich: Well that’s the problem. You have 28 members now of NATO all with differing interests and different definitions of what a threat is. This is where we go into pretty much how NATO is divided into three camps.

The first camp is what I would call the Atlanticists – the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark. The Atlanticists are interested in the non-Eurasian theatre. They want NATO to focus on the threats that we’ve seen recently such as the war in Afghanistan and nontraditional threats such as terrorism.

The second camp is actually the core Europeans led by the French and Germans. They are interested in limiting NATO, a leaner NATO, having the members not be as committed and limiting their ability to commit. And also having NATO work with other organizations such as the United Nations.

The third group within NATO which is the Intermarium states. This is the more interesting group because it’s newer NATO members - mainly the ones from Central Europe. What they see as a threat is what the core and the root level NATO theat was going back to the beginning of NATO - the Soviets. And the Central Europeans want NATO to focus back on the Russians.

Chapman: It’s called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but after this is it going to emerge as something completely different?

Goodrich: Well that depends on the Strategic Concept Document that’s drafted this weekend. But how do you draft a common document when you have so many diverging interests in NATO at this moment? The Strategic Concept Document looks like it’s only going to show how divided the alliance is now.

Chapman: Let me throw that question back to you. Could this all really be resolved in just two days?

Goodrich: Well the negotiations over this concept document have been going on for quite a while now. But we are not seeing any ability for them to come together. Even in the past week we’ve seen statements out of France and the Poles, the United States, United Kingdom, the Germans - everyone’s on a different page.

Chapman: Lauren – why did the Russians accept an invitation to attend – what do they expect to get out of it?

Goodrich: Well the NATO summit is actually in two parts. The first part is the NATO summit in which they will be discussing the Strategic Concept Document. The second part is actually the Russian-NATO summit, which is why Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was invited. Medvedev is going with two goals. The first goal is to see what comes out of the first part of the summit. The more divided NATO is especially over the Strategic Concept Document, the better it is for the Russians. The Russians know that as long as NATO is divided, it can never agree on things like expansion – especially into the former Soviet states. Or declaring Russia as the target of their focus.

The second is for Medvedev to sit down with U.S. President Barack Obama. This is the very first one-on-one since the U.S. elections. The Russians were very wary going into these elections because they know the Republicans tend to have a firmer, more aggressive take on Russia. Since the elections, which did not go in Obama’s favor occurred, Russia has grown wary as to whether Obama would stick to his previous commitments on having warmer relations with Russia.

Chapman: I suppose one of the ironies of all this is just as things look as if they could change, they might not change because of the state of America’s politics.

Goodrich: Very much so. The United States and Russia seemed as if they were on a warming period under Barack Obama – starting in about April – but really fleshing out over the summer. The United States and Russia decided that it was better to have a temporary detente between their two countries in order to focus on more important issues of the moment.

For the United States this meant that they needed Russia to agree to sanctions on Iran and logistical support for Afghanistan. For Russia, this meant that they needed the U.S. to cease support for Georgia and Ukraine, freeze ballistic missile defense plans in Central Europe, as well as aiding Russia in its modernization and privatization programs. Both sides actually agreed to all of this until the elections.

The START Treaty ended up being the bellwether of whether this temporary detente was being successful or not. It looked like it was going to slide through both legislatures in both Russia and the United States easily - until the elections. So now we have a stall on START.

Chapman: So summing up, its’t NATO really just playing into Russia’s hands? As these groups in NATO argue about the future, the Russians just get on about their own business.

Goodrich: Very much so. They’re counting on the divisions within NATO. As long as it’s divided Russia will have a much easier time in order to clamp down on its resurgence especially in its former Soviet states and be able to start even pushing on the NATO members themselves.

Chapman: Thanks very much Lauren. Lauren Goodrich there, and that’s Agenda for this week. I’m Colin Chapman. See you next time.
=================
Thursday, November 18, 2010   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

U.S.-Russian Relations in Pre-Summit Flux

Just days before the NATO summit in Lisbon in which Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama will meet, Medvedev has postponed his annual State of the State address from Nov. 22 to Nov. 30 to account for a possible shift in U.S.-Russian relations, according to STRATFOR sources in Moscow.

Over the past six months, Moscow and Washington had set many of their disagreements aside to achieve more critical goals. Russia wanted aid on its modernization and privatization programs, a cessation of Western support for Georgia and Ukraine, and a freeze on ballistic missile defense (BMD) plans in Russia’s periphery. The United States wanted Russia to sign onto sanctions against Iran and to drop support for Tehran, as well as provide increased logistical support for the war in Afghanistan. On all these issues, there was some sort of common ground found, meaning that Moscow and Washington seemed to have struck a temporary detente.

“START seems to be just the beginning of a possible breakdown in the “reset” with Russia.”
One bellwether to judge U.S.-Russian relations has been the new START Treaty — the nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia. Obama and Medvedev agreed on START in April and it looked as if it would pass in both countries’ legislatures, especially in time for the November NATO summit. STRATFOR sources in Moscow even indicated that a delegation from the United States two months ago ensured that relations were in a warming period and that START would be signed.

But there has been a shift in Washington in the past month since the November U.S. elections.

Since the elections, the U.S. Senate — which must ratify START – has shifted positions. There are senators who are either vociferously opposed to the START document or against it in its current form. There is even a concern that since the elections, START may not even make it to the floor for debate. Russian officials have directly linked the Senate’s stall on START to a possible break of any reset in relations between Moscow and Washington. Part of the Senate debate on START is whether the United States should even contribute to Russia’s modernization program, which Obama agreed to on Medvedev’s last visit. A delay or reversal on either issue on the U.S. side is an indication that Washington is either divided over the future of Russian relations or is starting to cool from its recent warming.

But problems in the Senate over relations with Russia seem to be just the beginning of a possible breakdown in the “reset” with Russia.

The next issue is that at the NATO summit, there is the NATO treaty on BMDs that could possibly include Russia’s participation in some yet undefined format in any future BMD projects. But this Russian participation would not preclude Washington from making a bilateral deal on setting up missile defense installations – in countries such as Poland and Czech Republic. While Russia would enjoy being included in a NATO treaty on BMD, it is much more concerned with Washington’s bilateral deals on BMD projects in Central Europe. This is an issue Russia had previously assumed was frozen, but without the new NATO treaty covering U.S. bilateral deals, the issue of BMD in Central Europe is back on the table much to Russia’s chagrin.

Lastly, there are rumors that military support from the West is returning to Georgia. At this time, STRATFOR cannot confirm these rumors from Moscow sources, but if true, every guarantee Russia struck over the summer with the United States on forming a temporary detente has been abandoned.

This is the fear Moscow has going into this NATO summit over the weekend. Russia seems to be unsure if all the recent signs over the past few weeks on START, modernization, BMD and Georgia are really a decision in the United States to return to an aggressive stance with Russia, or if there are other explanations, like party politics in Washington. This is why Medvedev has pushed back his State of the State address, and sources say that a second version of the speech is being written in which the president won’t be so warm on relations with the United States.

What happens next will be key. If the U.S. has abandoned its understandings with Russia, then it is time for Moscow to reciprocate. This could mean that everything from resuming support for Iran to pulling back on support for the mission in Afghanistan could be considered in the Kremlin.


23182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 19, 2010, 12:19:52 AM
"Amsterdam, where access to drugs is relatively unproblematic, is among the most violent and squalid cities in Europe."

Perchance is any of that due to the clash of civilizations occurring there?
23183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 19, 2010, 12:14:41 AM
A couple of random thoughts:

a) One way of thinking about things is that our sweet tooth is nature's way of cluing us to eat certain things that are sweet e.g. fruit.  Instead we eat sugar and our body is confused.  Its near for carbo fuel is sated, but it remains hungry for the nutrition which it was intended to receive by eating the fruit.

b) Muscles consume calories, even at rest.  Part of healthy living is to realize the natural potential for muscle mass.  Genetic disposition to eat (appetite) has a tendency to be suitable for the intended muscle mass of the human in question.   If natural muscle mass is not achieved, there will be an inherent contradiction between the disposition to eat and the disposition to eat a certain amount.

Just rambling here , , ,
23184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Arranged on: November 19, 2010, 12:08:48 AM
Two faiths, two women and their friendship
In the film, Arranged, shared values bridge the faith divide in an unexpected way.



Jennifer S. Bryson is Director of the Islam and Civil Society Project at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. Her article is reproduced here with the permission of The Public Discourse.


“I heard that the Muslims want to kill all the Jews,” says a fourth-grade student to his Muslim teacher while an Orthodox Jewish teacher sits with them in the classroom. Just about any way one looks at this it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

And yet, by this point in the film Arranged the students’ Muslim teacher, Nasira, and the Orthodox Jewish special education teacher, Rochel, have begun to suspect that they may have more in common with each other as religious women than with anyone else in the secular environment of their Brooklyn public school.

The lunchtime chit-chat of the other female school teachers is about parties and sleeping with guys. Nasira and Rochel have, however, opted for a different approach to life. This means eating lunch alone instead—until they discover each other, that is.

There are those who would like to get Nasira and Rochel to abandon their “backward” ways. In the view of the school principal, for example, the religiosity and consequent modesty of Nasira and Rochel are outdated and irrational. At a workshop to instruct teachers about tolerance, the principal simply assumes and then goes on to tell the whole group that she thinks Nasira wears a headscarf because her father forces her to do so. Nasira, however, refuses to let this snide remark pass and shares with the group an eloquent explanation of her personal choice to follow her religious faith and how this informs her understanding of feminine modesty. She does so gracefully and confidently, not angrily or bitterly. This piques Rochel’s interest. Rochel discovers that Nasira too is facing the challenge of trying to fit in but not give in to the culture at their school.

Nasira’s explanation of why she chooses to wear the hijab does, however, not alleviate the principal’s crusade to ‘enlighten’ and ‘liberate’ Nasira and Rochel with her own brand of feminism.

The principal’s enthusiasm for diversity and tolerance wanes when it comes to the modest attire these young women have chosen out of their religious convictions. The principal considers these women among her two best teachers in the school, but for her that’s not enough. She tells them, “You’re successful participants in the modern world, except for this religious thing. You know I mean—the rules, the regulations, the way you dress… I mean come on we’re in the 21st century here for crying out loud. There was a women’s movement!” Nasira and Rochel try to be polite, but clearly they feel more irritation than liberation at hearing this. The principal, on the other hand, is so flustered by Nasira and Rochel’s calm, confident disinterest in the type of free-for-all feminism she promotes that she finally resorts to offering them her own personal money for them to go out and buy some “designer” clothes as a replacement for “those farkakte outfits” (which seems to be a Yiddish nod, from the secular Jewish principal, to the line from the Blues Brothers, “What are you guys gonna do? The same act? Wearing the same farkakte suits?”). Nasira and Rochel decline and walk out of her office.

This is a delightful film with a positive, substantive message. It deserves more viewers than its somewhat confusing title might attract. Arranged, as in arranged marriage, conjures up for many images of child marriage and forced marriage. This film does not attempt to downplay the abusiveness of such practices. Rather, in this film the “arranging” of marriage refers to family engagement in the process of searching for a suitable spouse.

(In fact, it is worth noting that today there are devout Muslims and Jews working to protect women and men from potential abuses resulting from distorted concepts of marriage. For example, this Fall the Muslim chaplain at New York University, Imam Khalid Latif, devoted a Friday sermon to differentiating between marriage and forced marriage.)

Nasira and Rochel discover they are both exploring the possibility of getting married, and that both of them are from devout religious families with cultural traditions of parents’ involvement in suggesting and getting to know eligible bachelors.

At the same time, even with a role for their families in seeking a suitable spouse, each woman has veto authority over any of the proposed suitors. And they exercise it.

But when Rochel spots a handsome, single Orthodox Jewish student with kind, bright eyes in a university study group with Nasira’s brother, some dreaming and scheming ensue. The most helpful person along the way proves to be her Muslim friend Nasira, who comes up with a humorous ploy to bring him to the attention of the women helping Rochel find a husband.

In a day and age in America when public discussion of marriage tends to be limited to either vicious fighting or depressing divorce statistics, Arranged provides a welcome respite from this. The film offers instead a focus on the centrality of relationship, commitment, and family in marriage.

This story—devout Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women discovering common ground in valuing feminine dignity and family—is not just some fictional tale of unrealistic wishful-thinking. Arranged is based on the real life account of an Orthodox Jewish woman, a teacher in the New York public schools, and her experiences getting to know the Pakistani-American Muslim mother of one of her pupils.

These filmmakers are not naïve. As one of them explains in an interview about the making of the film, included on the DVD, Israel and Lebanon were at war during the shooting of this movie. Challenges abound and they are very real. And in the film Nasira and Rochel have to maneuver their budding friendship through the obstacles of family members’ skepticism and even opposition to their Muslim-Jewish friendship. But even so, real friendships are also possible, and alliances to protect religious freedom can cross unexpected lines.

(For example, in Montreal the Orthodox Jewish community is fighting against a bill which would ban the Muslim facial veil, niqab, in Quebec for women seeking government services. The Orthodox Jewish community there has expressed concern about the government trying to regulate the attire of religious believers and doing so by targeting one minority.)

Shared values provide a bridge for Nasira and Rochel. They are women with humble self-dignity in a world not disposed to support integrity or family. What these women learn is that kindness begets friendship, and genuine friendship can handle differences. They don’t have to deny their difference to get along. The bridge they build proves to be stronger than cross-currents around them. Friendship, and healthy relationships, ensue and grow.

Jennifer S. Bryson is Director of the Islam and Civil Society Project at The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ.

Copyright 2010 the Witherspoon Institute. All rights reserved.

23185  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Body Language on: November 19, 2010, 12:01:48 AM
GM:

We need to work on your sense of FUN.  cheesy

Every person on a homicide squad being gorgeous or handsome?  Offices with the feng shui of a SF decorator?  In Sacramento? Only interesting cases involving famous people?  All the physical takedowns of perps being executed by the babe cops?  and crooked captain bars too!  Oh no!  cheesy

Where the show really shines for me is the character of the lead actor and his interaction with a script with plenty of wit that regularly communicates the appeal of high IQ.
23186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Arranged" on: November 18, 2010, 11:54:04 PM
Two faiths, two women and their friendship
In the film, Arranged, shared values bridge the faith divide in an unexpected way.



Jennifer S. Bryson is Director of the Islam and Civil Society Project at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. Her article is reproduced here with the permission of The Public Discourse.


“I heard that the Muslims want to kill all the Jews,” says a fourth-grade student to his Muslim teacher while an Orthodox Jewish teacher sits with them in the classroom. Just about any way one looks at this it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

And yet, by this point in the film Arranged the students’ Muslim teacher, Nasira, and the Orthodox Jewish special education teacher, Rochel, have begun to suspect that they may have more in common with each other as religious women than with anyone else in the secular environment of their Brooklyn public school.

The lunchtime chit-chat of the other female school teachers is about parties and sleeping with guys. Nasira and Rochel have, however, opted for a different approach to life. This means eating lunch alone instead—until they discover each other, that is.

There are those who would like to get Nasira and Rochel to abandon their “backward” ways. In the view of the school principal, for example, the religiosity and consequent modesty of Nasira and Rochel are outdated and irrational. At a workshop to instruct teachers about tolerance, the principal simply assumes and then goes on to tell the whole group that she thinks Nasira wears a headscarf because her father forces her to do so. Nasira, however, refuses to let this snide remark pass and shares with the group an eloquent explanation of her personal choice to follow her religious faith and how this informs her understanding of feminine modesty. She does so gracefully and confidently, not angrily or bitterly. This piques Rochel’s interest. Rochel discovers that Nasira too is facing the challenge of trying to fit in but not give in to the culture at their school.

Nasira’s explanation of why she chooses to wear the hijab does, however, not alleviate the principal’s crusade to ‘enlighten’ and ‘liberate’ Nasira and Rochel with her own brand of feminism.

The principal’s enthusiasm for diversity and tolerance wanes when it comes to the modest attire these young women have chosen out of their religious convictions. The principal considers these women among her two best teachers in the school, but for her that’s not enough. She tells them, “You’re successful participants in the modern world, except for this religious thing. You know I mean—the rules, the regulations, the way you dress… I mean come on we’re in the 21st century here for crying out loud. There was a women’s movement!” Nasira and Rochel try to be polite, but clearly they feel more irritation than liberation at hearing this. The principal, on the other hand, is so flustered by Nasira and Rochel’s calm, confident disinterest in the type of free-for-all feminism she promotes that she finally resorts to offering them her own personal money for them to go out and buy some “designer” clothes as a replacement for “those farkakte outfits” (which seems to be a Yiddish nod, from the secular Jewish principal, to the line from the Blues Brothers, “What are you guys gonna do? The same act? Wearing the same farkakte suits?”). Nasira and Rochel decline and walk out of her office.

This is a delightful film with a positive, substantive message. It deserves more viewers than its somewhat confusing title might attract. Arranged, as in arranged marriage, conjures up for many images of child marriage and forced marriage. This film does not attempt to downplay the abusiveness of such practices. Rather, in this film the “arranging” of marriage refers to family engagement in the process of searching for a suitable spouse.

(In fact, it is worth noting that today there are devout Muslims and Jews working to protect women and men from potential abuses resulting from distorted concepts of marriage. For example, this Fall the Muslim chaplain at New York University, Imam Khalid Latif, devoted a Friday sermon to differentiating between marriage and forced marriage.)

Nasira and Rochel discover they are both exploring the possibility of getting married, and that both of them are from devout religious families with cultural traditions of parents’ involvement in suggesting and getting to know eligible bachelors.

At the same time, even with a role for their families in seeking a suitable spouse, each woman has veto authority over any of the proposed suitors. And they exercise it.

But when Rochel spots a handsome, single Orthodox Jewish student with kind, bright eyes in a university study group with Nasira’s brother, some dreaming and scheming ensue. The most helpful person along the way proves to be her Muslim friend Nasira, who comes up with a humorous ploy to bring him to the attention of the women helping Rochel find a husband.

In a day and age in America when public discussion of marriage tends to be limited to either vicious fighting or depressing divorce statistics, Arranged provides a welcome respite from this. The film offers instead a focus on the centrality of relationship, commitment, and family in marriage.

This story—devout Muslim and Orthodox Jewish women discovering common ground in valuing feminine dignity and family—is not just some fictional tale of unrealistic wishful-thinking. Arranged is based on the real life account of an Orthodox Jewish woman, a teacher in the New York public schools, and her experiences getting to know the Pakistani-American Muslim mother of one of her pupils.

These filmmakers are not naïve. As one of them explains in an interview about the making of the film, included on the DVD, Israel and Lebanon were at war during the shooting of this movie. Challenges abound and they are very real. And in the film Nasira and Rochel have to maneuver their budding friendship through the obstacles of family members’ skepticism and even opposition to their Muslim-Jewish friendship. But even so, real friendships are also possible, and alliances to protect religious freedom can cross unexpected lines.

(For example, in Montreal the Orthodox Jewish community is fighting against a bill which would ban the Muslim facial veil, niqab, in Quebec for women seeking government services. The Orthodox Jewish community there has expressed concern about the government trying to regulate the attire of religious believers and doing so by targeting one minority.)

Shared values provide a bridge for Nasira and Rochel. They are women with humble self-dignity in a world not disposed to support integrity or family. What these women learn is that kindness begets friendship, and genuine friendship can handle differences. They don’t have to deny their difference to get along. The bridge they build proves to be stronger than cross-currents around them. Friendship, and healthy relationships, ensue and grow.

Jennifer S. Bryson is Director of the Islam and Civil Society Project at The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ.

Copyright 2010 the Witherspoon Institute. All rights reserved.

23187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Big Dog on: November 18, 2010, 08:09:31 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHJJQ0zNNOM&feature=player_embedded#!
23188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 18, 2010, 06:02:26 PM
Nice to read of your soft side GM cool
23189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: November 18, 2010, 10:13:47 AM
The Politics thread is more suitable for this and related subjects.
23190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california on: November 18, 2010, 10:13:02 AM
JDN:  Exactly.

Rarick:  Isn't Vegas even more fornicated than we are?  Isn't gambling the epitome of discretionary spending?
23191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / TSA=Thousands Standing Around/Transacting Sexual Assaults, unionized on: November 18, 2010, 08:47:38 AM




TSA Unionization: A $30 Million Annual Gift to Union Bosses

Another reward for union bosses; another slap in the face for Americans.
Posted by LaborUnionReport (Profile)
Wednesday, November 17th at 11:00AM EST
4 Comments

When we have an administration more concerned about rewarding its union cronies than the U.S. Constitution (see ObamaCare for reference), giving union bosses access to the wallets of TSOs was only a matter of time. Now, the Transportation Security Agency’s blue shirts who are doing Janet Napolitiano’s bidding frisking, groping, molesting and seemingly sexually assaulting the American public, are about to get license for further abuse—a union card.

In a significant victory for federal employee unions, the Federal Labor Relations Authority decided Friday that Transportation Security Administrationstaffers will be allowed to vote on union representation.

The decision clears the way for a campaign by the government’s two largest labor organizations, the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union, to represent some 50,000 transportation security officers.

It was bound to happen. Before it became an agency known as Fourth Amendment violators, due to its critical national security responsibilities, the TSA was created in 2001as a non-union agency  As labor attorney Jay Sumner notes:


Enacted in 2001, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) provides that the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security has the power to, among other things, determine the compensation, terms and conditions of employment for employees who carry out security screening functions. Accordingly, in a 2003 memorandum, the Under Secretary declared that TSA officers, “in light of their critical national security responsibilities, shall not, as a term or condition of their employment, be entitled to engage in collective bargaining or be represented for the purpose of engaging in such bargaining by any representative or organization.”

While the Federal Labor Relations Authority (an agency that governs labor relations between the federal government and unions) recently granted permission to unionize the TSA, it has not yet ruled to give the unions collective bargaining rights—yet. But, it is only a matter of time.

“AFGE argued, and the FLRA agreed, that the right for employees to elect an exclusive representative and the right to engage in collective bargaining are two separate and distinct rights,” AFGE National President John Gage said. “We have always said the choice to unionize and the task of winning collective bargaining rights at TSA would be a two-part process.

“While we wait for the decision on collective bargaining rights that TSA Administrator Pistole has indicated will come soon, the election process can begin to move forward,” Gage added.

Here’s some informal statistics for you:

Number of TSA employees eligible for unionization: 50,000
TSA budget for FY 2010: $7.8 billion
Estimated Union Dues TSA unionization will provide union bosses at $50 per month:$2,500,000 per month or $30,000,000 per year.

__________________

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.”  Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
23192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pro-biotics on: November 18, 2010, 08:36:04 AM
Fair enough. 

I would also add the question of what are the cumulative consequences of taking antibiotic medicines various times in one's life?  How does the flora re-establish itself?  Is the mix the same? Or do other less positive bacterias increase their place in the mix?
23193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A savvy friend comments on: November 18, 2010, 08:31:32 AM
People in North America are no longer using digital cable to view programming.   With a Roku, Playstation or Xbox, as long as you don’t have to watch cable system programming when the programs are first shown, you can actually cut your cable or satellite bill significantly.

Cisco invested heavily in the cable set top box (STB) model when it acquired Scientific Atlanta.  But everything including TV signals are moving to Ethernet packets.  Google and Apple TV are also examples of this trend.  NetFlix has survived and prospered because it recognized this phenomenon long before Blockbuster.  In its last earnings call, CSCO revealed that its North American sales to MSO’s (multiple system operators) declined 30%.

IMO, the recession here has accelerated the convergence of the Internet with TV as people look to cut fixed monthly household expenses.

I believe that in this decade, Apple and Google/Amazon will supplant the major MSO’s as the prime source of video programming to the home and to the wireless device such as the iPad.  If AAPL has any major vulnerability in this environment, it is its walled garden approach to providing programming versus a more open source at Google/Amazon.  In many respects, AAPL reminds me on AOL at its peak 15-20 years ago.


And don’t dismiss wireless as a strong competitor to cable.  The new 4G LTE systems that are nearing implementation can provide very robust download speeds for Ethernet packets.  LTE has won the battle with WiMax as the most widely adopted worldwide standard for 4G.  Why do you think that Verizon is selling iPads now?  In 1-2 years, in the more densely populated areas of North America, it may be more efficient to access the internet directly by wireless.  This also attacks Cisco’s Linksys division because direct wireless access obviates the need for a WiFi router.

 

Anyway, this article prompted me to share these thoughts.  I now watch almost half of my video over the internet.  How much video do you now watch over the internet?

 

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a3986a1c-f28c-11df-a2f3-00144feab49a.html#ixzz15dYSiZDL

Viewers pull plug on US cable television
By Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles

Published: November 17 2010 21:31 | Last updated: November 17 2010 21:31

The number of people subscribing to US cable television services has suffered its biggest decline in 30 years as younger, tech-savvy viewers lead an exodus to web-based operations, such as Hulu and Netflix.

The total number of subscribers to TV services provided by cable, satellite and telco operators fell by 119,000 in the third quarter, compared with a gain of 346,000 in the third quarter of 2009, according to SNL Kagan, a research company.
Although television services offered by telecoms and satellite providers added subscribers over the period, cable operators were hard hit, with subscriber numbers falling by 741,000 – the largest decline in 30 years.

The figures suggest that “cord-cutting” – one of the pay-television industry’s biggest fears – is becoming a reality as viewers drift to web-based platforms.

Online TV services are stepping up their efforts to reach new viewers and become profitable: Hulu, which is owned by News Corp, Walt Disney and NBC Universal, has slashed the cost of its online subscription service by 20 per cent to $7.99 per month and offers a vast array of film and TV programming.

Jason Kilar, Hulu’s chief executive, has maintained that Hulu, which is exploring an initial public offering, complements pay-television services.

Yet the data suggest that the growth of Hulu and Netflix, the DVD subscription company which began testing a $7.99 per month streaming-only service last month, has become problematic for cable operators.

Ian Olgeirson, senior analyst at SNL Kagan, said it was becoming “increasingly difficult” to dismiss the impact of web-based services on the pay-TV industry, “particularly after seeing declines during the period of the year that tends to produce the largest subscriber gains due to seasonal shifts back to television viewing and subscription packages”.

Hulu’s revenues are increasing sharply: the company is projected to generate more than $240m in 2010, up from $108m in 2009. It has extended the number of devices that can access its subscription service to include Sony’s PlayStation 3 console and will add internet-connected devices, including Vizio, LG Electronics and Panasonic Blu-ray players, in the next few months.

Devices such as Apple’s iPad also appear to be accelerating the move away from traditional multichannel television.

Research from The Diffusion Group, a technology research company, found that more than a third of iPad users were likely to cancel their pay-TV subscriptions in the next six months.

The cable industry has launched a vigorous defence against cord-cutting: companies such as Comcast, which has agreed to buy NBC Universal, are backing “TV Everywhere”, which gives subscribers access to channels and programming online, and via their cable box.

 

 
23194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 17, 2010, 08:13:44 PM
"So Crafty, does this mean you are an advocate for adopting the Shin Bet model of domestic intelligence gathering, thus allowing for El Al-like aviation security?"

Expound please.
23195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: CA's AG race on: November 17, 2010, 11:42:16 AM
By JOHN FUND
The race to determine who will be the attorney general of California is still too close to call. Democrat Kamala Harris, San Francisco's district attorney, leads Republican Steve Cooley, the DA for Los Angeles County, by 31,000 votes out of nearly nine million cast. And there are more than 750,000 ballots left to count.

The tabulation process has led to a full-fledged food fight between the candidates and has roped in Dean Logan, the controversial voter registrar of Los Angeles County. Ms. Harris claims that Cooley officials have crowded election workers "and aggressively attempt(ed) to have ballots disqualified" in Los Angeles County. Cooley aides counter that election workers in Los Angeles are being far too sloppy in comparing signatures on provisional ballots with voter registration cards on file for that person. They allege that in some instances no comparison is being made.

Attorneys for Mr. Cooley also complain that county workers are contacting voters by phone to fill out incomplete voter registration forms in order that their provisional ballots can be made legal, a step that's not part of the county's written procedures for counting ballots. They also claim that Mr. Logan's staff has held private meetings with Harris representatives and given them access to rejected provisional ballots.

Mr. Logan rejects all of the allegations. "I don't believe there's been anything raised at this point that is a significant concern," he told the Los Angeles Times. But Mr. Logan made similar soothing statements in 2004 when he presided over one of the great meltdowns of U.S. elections during his previous tenure as elections chief of King County, Washington, which includes Seattle. The Washington governor's race that year entered the ranks of electoral infamy when Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner over Republican Dino Rossi by 132 votes out of 2.7 million cast after three recounts.

The mess in those recounts made the Florida 2000 battle look orderly. In King County alone, there were more than 3,500 unaccounted-for ballots or voters. Some precincts had more ballots than voters, for a total of 2,900 extra ballots. Other precincts have more voters than ballots, for a total of 800 extra voters.

Other irregularities abounded. The Seattle Times reported that 129 felons illegally voted in King and Pierce counties. Some 55,000 optical-scan ballots (on which the voter marks a bubble) in King County were "enhanced" so that the voters' supposed intent could be determined, with no uniform standard governing the process. And in an eerie parallel to Mr. Cooley's complaints in the AG race in California, National Review noted that at least 348 provisional King County ballots — which were supposed to be closely inspected to see if they were legitimate — were directly fed into machines and counted. Bob Williams of Washington state's Evergreen Freedom Foundation concluded that Mr. Logan was guilty of "practiced incompetence" in his unwillingness to follow proper recount procedures.

In July, 2005 the King County Independent Task Force on Elections, a body set up to probe the county's vote-counting problems, concluded that Mr. Logan was "ill equipped" to make the changes needed to restore public trust and confidence in elections. A year later, Mr. Logan quietly resigned to take his new job in Los Angeles County.

Mr. Logan's track record should raise concerns that proper procedures for vote counting are once again not being fully followed in California's AG race. If prompt action to ensure the integrity of the election process isn't taken now, we may see calls for Los Angeles County to appoint its own task force to investigate Mr. Logan's "practiced incompetence."

23196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: November 17, 2010, 11:30:18 AM
Even a legend in his own mind can be right sometimes.

Some folks on "our" side acted irresponsibly on this one:

=========

Too Good to CheckBy THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Published: November 16, 2010


 On Nov. 4, Anderson Cooper did the country a favor. He expertly deconstructed on his CNN show the bogus rumor that President Obama’s trip to Asia would cost $200 million a day. This was an important “story.” It underscored just how far ahead of his time Mark Twain was when he said a century before the Internet, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” But it also showed that there is an antidote to malicious journalism — and that’s good journalism.

 In case you missed it, a story circulated around the Web on the eve of President Obama’s trip that it would cost U.S. taxpayers $200 million a day — about $2 billion for the entire trip. Cooper said he felt impelled to check it out because the evening before he had had Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Republican and Tea Party favorite, on his show and had asked her where exactly Republicans will cut the budget.

Instead of giving specifics, Bachmann used her airtime to inject a phony story into the mainstream. She answered: “I think we know that just within a day or so the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He’s taking 2,000 people with him. He’ll be renting over 870 rooms in India, and these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending.”

The next night, Cooper explained that he felt compelled to trace that story back to its source, since someone had used his show to circulate it. His research, he said, found that it had originated from a quote by “an alleged Indian provincial official,” from the Indian state of Maharashtra, “reported by India’s Press Trust, their equivalent of our A.P. or Reuters. I say ‘alleged,’ provincial official,” Cooper added, “because we have no idea who this person is, no name was given.”

It is hard to get any more flimsy than a senior unnamed Indian official from Maharashtra talking about the cost of an Asian trip by the American president.

“It was an anonymous quote,” said Cooper. “Some reporter in India wrote this article with this figure in it. No proof was given; no follow-up reporting was done. Now you’d think if a member of Congress was going to use this figure as a fact, she would want to be pretty darn sure it was accurate, right? But there hasn’t been any follow-up reporting on this Indian story. The Indian article was picked up by The Drudge Report and other sites online, and it quickly made its way into conservative talk radio.”

Cooper then showed the following snippets: Rush Limbaugh talking about Obama’s trip: “In two days from now, he’ll be in India at $200 million a day.” Then Glenn Beck, on his radio show, saying: “Have you ever seen the president, ever seen the president go over for a vacation where you needed 34 warships, $2 billion — $2 billion, 34 warships. We are sending — he’s traveling with 3,000 people.” In Beck’s rendition, the president’s official state visit to India became “a vacation” accompanied by one-tenth of the U.S. Navy. Ditto the conservative radio talk-show host Michael Savage. He said, “$200 million? $200 million each day on security and other aspects of this incredible royalist visit; 3,000 people, including Secret Service agents.”

Cooper then added: “Again, no one really seemed to care to check the facts. For security reasons, the White House doesn’t comment on logistics of presidential trips, but they have made an exception this time. He then quoted Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, as saying, “I am not going to go into how much it costs to protect the president, [but this trip] is comparable to when President Clinton and when President Bush traveled abroad. This trip doesn’t cost $200 million a day.” Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said: “I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd, this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy and some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier in support of the president’s trip to Asia. That’s just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.”

Cooper also pointed out that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the entire war effort in Afghanistan was costing about $190 million a day and that President Bill Clinton’s 1998 trip to Africa — with 1,300 people and of roughly similar duration, cost, according to the Government Accountability Office and adjusted for inflation, “about $5.2 million a day.”

When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, we have a problem. It becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues — deficit reduction, health care, taxes, energy/climate — let alone act on them. Facts, opinions and fabrications just blend together. But the carnival barkers that so dominate our public debate today are not going away — and neither is the Internet. All you can hope is that more people will do what Cooper did — so when the next crazy lie races around the world, people’s first instinct will be to doubt it, not repeat it.

23197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-10 on: November 17, 2010, 11:08:45 AM


Well we went to the airport today only be told we could not leave the country because we did not have an exit visa.  So I am stuck here for the immediate future.  But at least I am back in the IZ....
23198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 17, 2010, 10:54:09 AM
Tangent:  Speaking of major operations in Mexico, I am reminded of the Chinese national with a business pharmaceutical background who purchased a Mexican citizenship.  Authorities found a home filled with IIRC $250,000,000 in CASH.  Hotly pursued by narco hit squads, he fled.  An American LEO that I have trained was the man who put the cuffs on him here in the US-- just ahead of the hit squads closing in.

Larger point, the operations in Mexico can get REALLY big.
23199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What about the El Al approach? on: November 17, 2010, 10:49:24 AM
So, (working from memory here) what happened to in the matter of those 30,000 scan-fotos wrongly saved by the US Marshals Service at some courthouse?   Any heads roll?

===========
"The Transportation Security Administration's demeaning new 'enhanced pat-down' procedures are a direct result of the Obama administration's willful blindness to the threat from Islamic radicals. While better tools are available to keep air travelers safe, they would involve recognizing the threat for what it is, which is something the White House will never do. El Al, Israel's national airline, employs a smarter approach. Any airline representing the state of Israel is a natural -- some might say preeminent -- target for terrorist attacks. Yet El Al has one of the best security records in the world and doesn't resort to wide-scale use of methods that would under other circumstances constitute sexual assault. The Israelis have achieved this track record of safety by employing sophisticated intelligence analysis which allows them to predict which travelers constitute a possible threat and which do not. Resources are then focused on the more probable threats with minimal intrusion on those who are likely not to be terrorists. Here in the United States, these sophisticated techniques have roundly been denounced as discriminatory 'profiling.' ... TSA believes an 80-year-old grandmother deserves the same level of scrutiny at an airport terminal checkpoint as a 19-year-old male exchange student from Yemen. This policy not only is a waste of time and resources, it denies reality. ... Despite all the government bureaucracy and TSA's intrusive inspection practices, [al Qaeda underwear bomber Umar Farouk] Abdulmutallab's attack was only foiled because of a faulty bomb and the actions of alert passengers. Now all passengers have to pay the price by having their privacy (and their privates) invaded, which is the Obama administration's alternative to instituting a policy that will target the source of the problem." --The Washington Times

23200  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Body Language on: November 17, 2010, 10:40:17 AM
Reading body language and facial cues is a very important skill that can often have personal safety implications.

Recently my wife and I have become quite enchanted by the TV show The Mentalist, whose lead character is a high IQ fellow assisting a police homicide squad peopled by model beautiful cops (well, it is in California cheesy)  Amongst his skills is the ability to read body language and facial cues very well.

Similarly there is the TV show "Lie to me" which is based upon the work of this Dr. Paul Ekman http://www.paulekman.com/
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