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23201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Russia rethinks pricing policy on: November 14, 2008, 12:29:49 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Russia Rethinks Energy Pricing Policy
November 13, 2008 | 0126 GMT
Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, will start dropping natural gas prices for European consumers at the beginning of 2009, CEO Alexei Miller. Miller’s stated rationale for making such a move in midwinter, when demand is highest, is that the export price for natural gas to Europe in the fourth quarter of 2008 was at a record high of more than $500 per 1,000 cubic meters. With the global economy in recession and energy consumption dropping across the board, that price would naturally have to come down.

Such an announcement would not be anomalous were it not Russia doing the talking. The Russians are reducing natural gas prices for the Europeans not out of economic pragmatism, nor out of the goodness of their hearts; instead, this is primarily a political move designed to keep the window of opportunity for manipulating Europe open as long as possible.

Russia is a powerful producer and exporter of both crude oil and natural gas. Because oil can be loaded and shipped across the world in a variety of ways — tanker, pipeline, truck or rail car — the laws of supply and demand more clearly dictate the price of oil than that of natural gas. Now that the world’s economic hubs are being hit with recession, there is little preventing the price of oil from plunging as demand drops. Thus, Russia also announced Wednesday that it is drastically revising its budget downward, anticipating oil prices falling to at least $50 per barrel in 2009 amid the global financial crisis.

Natural gas pricing works differently. Gas can be shipped easily only through existing pipeline networks, making the relationship between the producer and the consumer much tighter, and therefore much more politicized. As a result, prices for Europe are dictated far more by the Kremlin’s naughty-and-nice list than by market forces. This economic reality is all too familiar to countries like Ukraine, Lithuania and the Czech Republic: All have felt the wrath of Moscow, through price hikes or natural gas supply cutoffs, when they moved against Russia’s geopolitical interests.

Russia is the primary natural gas supplier for many former Soviet republics as well as for Turkey and Europe, with Europe dependent on Russian natural gas for about 25 percent of its energy supply. This economic interdependence gives Russia a big bat to swing in Eurasia, in order to sustain its influence on matters like NATO expansion in the region and the installation of a U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) shield. When winter rolls around, countries like Germany and Ukraine get especially nervous, knowing they have no adequate alternatives to Russia for keeping their lights and heat on. And with the price of oil plunging and Russia expecting to lose some $600 million per day in oil revenues compared to July highs, it has seemed all the more likely that Russia would compensate for these losses by keeping the price of natural gas high.

So why are the Russians talking about reducing the price instead? Gazprom’s announcement likely has to with a growing fear in Russia that a huge energy shift is sweeping across Europe — an energy shift that, for once, is leaving Russia out in the cold.

Russia’s energy leverage strategy, while effective in the past, has strong potential to backfire on the Kremlin over the long term. Since early winter 2006, when Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Europe (as punishment for the Western-backed Orange Revolution in Ukraine), energy security has become the dominant theme of every EU summit. With plenty of encouragement from the United States, Europe has accelerated efforts to break its dependence from the Russian natural gas monopoly. Its moves have involved such things as constructing new nuclear reactors and new pipelines, building terminals for the import (by tanker) of more expensive liquefied natural gas, and promoting alternative energy sources and conservation. The Europeans’ grand plan is to reduce total energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, and to get 20 percent of the remainder from renewable energy sources, thereby significantly reducing Russia’s ability to twist their arm on political matters.

While the European moves to break Russia’s energy grip have been under way for a couple of years now, the pace at which the change is taking place is astounding — much to Stratfor’s surprise and Russia’s deep discontent.

According to a report by Russian newspaper Vremya Novosti, Russian natural gas exports fell 8.3 percent year-on-year in October. The report also revealed that Germany, Turkey and Italy, Russia’s top three natural gas clients, cut their imports from Russia after Gazprom on Oct. 1 hiked prices to $460-$520 per 1,000 cubic meters.

An 8.3 percent drop in Russian natural gas imports, dwarfing a 1 percent decline in 2007, is very troubling news for the Russians. The Kremlin realizes that the more aggressive its stance toward Europe on energy matters, the faster Europe will move to cut the Russians out of the equation. By reducing the price of natural gas in the winter, the government — through Gazprom — could be toning down energy policy in efforts to win back some of Europe’s faith in Russia as a reliable, or at least less belligerent, energy supplier.

But Gazprom will not be entirely even-handed in its energy pricing this winter. According to Stratfor sources at Gazprom, the company is likely to apply the price breaks selectively. States that have been friendlier to Russian interests on recent matters will get a better deal. Most notably, this includes Germany — which has consciously refrained from taking a strong stance against Russia over the Georgian war and has spoken out against NATO expansion for Ukraine and Georgia — and the Czech Republic, which recently has become much more apprehensive over its BMD deal with the United States. Selective price breaks for EU states would be in direct violation of EU law, which stipulates that no individual economic deals can be made without the consent of the 27-member bloc. But Moscow won’t want to pass up the chance to whittle away at the EU’s economic coherence in the middle of a financial crisis, and to reward countries that are more willing to align with Russian interests.

However Gazprom chooses to implement these price cuts, the European trend of diversifying and seeking greater independence from Russian energy likely will continue. With the window of opportunity for political exploitation closing, the onus is now on Russia to maintain the credibility of its threats in Europe. The energy lever has been effective in the past, and Russia will continue to use it moving forward. But as tough tactics lose their effectiveness, the Kremlin needs a more nuanced approach to slow Europe’s drive toward energy independence.

23202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 12:28:34 PM
OK.
23203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More Treason from the NYT on: November 14, 2008, 12:23:42 PM
The Gray Lady undermines national security ... again
There they go again. The New York Times, continuing its policy of aiding and abetting this nation's enemies, on Monday published the latest classified anti-terrorist program to come to its attention. This revelation covers a secret order that authorized covert military action inside Syria, Pakistan and "elsewhere" (a quick look at the map to see what lies between Pakistan and Syria will discover "elsewhere"). Citing military and civilian sources, The Times reports that nearly a dozen such raids have been carried out since 2004. We can only imagine the gratitude felt by those brave special-ops soldiers carrying out these missions that their activities are public knowledge.

Freedom of the press is one of the most important rights enshrined in the Constitution. Its position as part of the First Amendment is no accident, indicating the importance the Founders gave to a press able to report freely and without fear on the activities of government. Even in wartime, the government should not censor the media unless truly extraordinary circumstances dictate otherwise. But there is also a reason for the government's classification of information, including this definition of Top Secret: "information of a highly sensitive nature, whose disclosure could result in grave danger to the national security of the United States." At what point does The Times consider that protecting our national security is more important than scoring political points against the Bush administration?
23204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fund Raising Appeal from PatriotPost on: November 14, 2008, 12:16:42 PM
I support PatriotPost and hope you will too:
==============

Our sacred honor ... to support and defend
By Mark Alexander

In 1776, an extraordinary group of men signed a document that affirmed their God-given right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." By attaching their signatures to our great Declaration of Independence, they, in effect, were signing their potential death warrants.

Indeed, the last line of our Declaration reads, "For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Many of these men, and many of their countrymen, the first generation of American Patriots, would die fighting for American liberty.

A decade later, their liberty having been won at great cost, our Founders further codified their independence and interdependence by instituting yet another historic document, our Constitution.

The Constitution specifies in Article VI, clause 3:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution..."

Bound by Oath to support...

The Constitution also prescribes the following oath to be taken by the president-elect: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Preserve, protect and defend...

Commissioned and enlisted military personnel are also required by statute to "solemnly swear, that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same...", though the officer's oath doesn't include any provision that they obey orders.

Against all enemies, foreign and domestic...

Notably, all these oaths mandate the preservation, protection, support and defense of our Constitution as ratified, not the so-called "living constitution" as amended by judicial activists populating what Thomas Jefferson predicted would become "the despotic branch."

While uniformed Americans serving our nation defend our Constitution with their lives, most elected officials debase it with all manner of extra-constitutional empowerment of the central government, not the least of which is the forced redistribution of income to benefit their constituency groups which, in turn, dutifully re-elect them.

Military service personnel who violate the Constitution are remanded for courts-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, while politicians who violate the Constitution are remanded for -- re-election.

On that note, the latest crop of Leftists on their way to Washington under the supervision of President-elect Barack Obama are destined to make a greater mockery of our Constitution than any administration in history. Clearly, Obama and his ilk have no history of honoring, or intention to honor, their oaths and, in fact, have no context for such honor.

A small cadre of liberals who believe themselves to be "patriots" have asked, "Can't I be a bona fide Patriot and support Barack Obama?"

In a word ... NO, unless in a state of solemn repentance.

In the spirit of charity, perhaps Obama supporters, who self-identify as patriots, are just grossly misinformed about our Constitution, our history and their own civic duty. Of course, they would likewise be grossly deluded about their identity, but perhaps the delusion is temporary.

I would suggest that Obama "patriots" are nothing more than "sunshine patriots," as Thomas Paine wrote, who "will in crisis, shrink from the service of his country."

At its core, the word "patriot" has direct lineage to those who fought for American independence and established our constitutional republic. That lineage has descended most directly through our history with those who have been entrusted "to support and defend" our Constitution -- more specifically, those who have been faithful to, and have abided by, that oath. As previously noted, by "our Constitution," I am referring to the United States Constitution, not the adulterated vestigial remains that liberals call "the living constitution."

I have taken oaths five times in the service of our country. But I did not have to take any oath to understand my obligations as a citizen "to support and defend" our Constitution.

So, does the title of "Patriot" apply to an individual who votes for a man who has not honored his public oaths of office previously, and has given no indication he intends to "bear true faith and allegiance to the same" as president -- a man who subscribes to the errant notion of a "living constitution" which, in his own words, "breaks free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution"?

No authentic Patriot would support those who violate their sacred oaths.

Unfortunately, in this most recent election, we saw even a handful of flag-rank military officers who have no more reverence for their oaths than Obama. However, they are the exception, not the rule.

Obama's mantra, "change," is a euphemism for constitutional abrogation -- an incremental encroachment on liberty until, at last, liberty is lost.

Our nation's second president, John Adams, warned, "A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

As for Obama's deception about his own patriotic pedigree, I commend the words of our nation's first president, George Washington: "Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. ...[W]here is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths...?"

Regarding the Presidential Oath of Office, Justice Joseph Story wrote: "[T]he duty imposed upon him to take care, that the laws be faithfully executed, follows out the strong injunctions of his oath of office, that he will 'preserve, protect, and defend the constitution.' The great object of the executive department is to accomplish this purpose." He wrote further that if the president does not honor his oath, his office "will be utterly worthless for ... the protection of rights; for the happiness, or good order, or safety of the people."

Of course, Barack Obama proposes to further constrain the rights of the people by advancing centralized government control of the economy by way of regulation and forced income redistribution, all in the name of "happiness, good order, and safety of the people," but in direct violation of his oath.

Quote of the week
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." --Ronald Reagan

Legacy of the American Revolution
"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn." --George Washington

Fellow Patriots, our 2008 Annual Fund campaign is under way. We raise almost 60 percent of our budget in the last two months of each year.

As you know, The Patriot is not sustained by any political, special interest or parent organization. Nor do we accept any online or e-mail advertising. Our operations and mission are funded by -- and depend entirely upon -- the voluntary financial support of American Patriots like YOU!

Thanks to you, our financial partners, The Patriot is now the most widely subscribed and distributed Internet-based conservative political journal. Indeed, your generosity and commitment have made it possible to offer The Patriot without a subscription fee to our military and mission-field readers, as well as collegiate readers -- the young people from whose ranks will come our next generation of leaders. We are also able to authorize the free redistribution and reprinting of our publication through various academic, media and political outlets and forums, thus reaching a very large audience.

"Thanks fellow Patriots for allowing us to reprint your commentary. It is rare, in today's publishing world, to find a first rate resource like The Patriot which permits its original content to be republished without charge. That policy certainly serves your mission, and ours." --State Family Policy Institute

Additionally, your donation will maintain some of the best research and advocacy resources on the Internet: PatriotPost.US, CollegiatePatriot.US, PatriotPetitions.US, Reagan2020.US (the most comprehensive tribute to Ronald Reagan on the Internet), and our Armed Forces outreach service Operation Shield of Strength.

As with other mission-based, donor-supported organizations, we raise most of our budget in the last two months of each year. As of this morning, we still must raise $299,325 before year's end.




If you have not already done so, please take a moment to support The Patriot's 2008 Annual Fund today with a secure online donation -- however large or small. If you prefer to support The Patriot by mail, please use our Donor Support Form.

Every dollar you contribute provides a free subscription for someone serving our nation, or a young person who will fill a family, community and national leadership role in the next generation!

I thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you as editor and publisher of The Patriot Post. On behalf of your Patriot Staff and National Advisory Committee, thank you and God bless you and your family.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis!
Mark Alexander
Publisher
23205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 11:01:19 AM
"In addition, Iran has a pre-existing alliance with AQ and may well have Saudi Hezbollah assets to lend to any effort."

 huh

Shia Iran has an alliance with Sunni AQ?  And the Sunni Saudi's also back Iran's pawn/partner Hezbollah?
23206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pelosi: hoisted on her own petard on: November 14, 2008, 10:55:41 AM
WSJ: What do bleeding Detroit auto makers, Colombia and green groups have in common? Not a lot, unless you are Nancy Pelosi.

If there was a moment that highlights to what extent the Democratic Party has become captive to its special interests, this might be it. Mrs. Pelosi and Harry Reid have spent this week demanding that Washington stave off a car-maker collapse. What makes this a little weird is that Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid are Washington. If they so desperately want a Detroit bailout they could always, you know, pass one.

 
Ken FallinInstead, having punted the Detroit question in the past, and having failed to offload it on the Bush administration, Mrs. Pelosi is now stuck dealing with it in the middle of a lame-duck session that is tangled in Colombia trade politics. Detroit's demands are meanwhile pressing in a postelection environment where Big Labor and greens are presenting their own bills for political services rendered. If you're wondering why Mrs. Pelosi hasn't yet decided what will happen when Congress returns, it's because she hasn't decided which group to annoy.

Democrats have been trying to shuffle money to Detroit since summer, but their timing has been off. The Michigan delegation's big push for auto funds coincided with September's financial crisis. With Washington in a panic, voters howling over $700 billion for banks, and an election in the offing, the leadership decided a Detroit bailout was one hot potato too many.

This decision was made easier by the fact that the Big Three's balance sheets have made even sympathetic Washington spenders worry about throwing money at a bankruptcy. Democrats decided it would be better to direct the funds in a way that allowed them to later deny fault.

The plan? Make it the Bush administration's responsibility to give Detroit cash -- namely by claiming after the event that the $700 billion rescue package for financial institutions was in fact a rescue package for auto makers. This was attempted with several hilarious "colloquys" -- pre-scripted dialogues between members that were quietly inserted into the Congressional Record after the vote, all aimed at rewriting the "intent" of the law. Say, this one, from Oct. 1:

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin: "As Treasury implements this new program, it is clear to me from reading the definition of financial institution that auto financing companies would be among the many financial institutions that would be eligible sellers to the government. Do you agree?"

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd: "Yes, for purposes of this act, I agree that financial institution may encompass auto financing companies."

Fun. Meanwhile, Democrats passed $25 billion in aid for Detroit, though under the careful guise of "green" funds to help it meet new fuel-efficiency standards.

Alas! All for naught! Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has stubbornly insisted that -- whatever the dreamy "intent" of Sen. Levin -- the $700 billion is, indeed, earmarked for financial institutions. Even a last-ditch letter-writing campaign by Mrs. Pelosi and the Michigan members this weekend, begging the administration to let them off the hook, wouldn't budge Mr. Paulson.

If that weren't enough, the administration has had the temerity to take Democrats at their legislative word, and demand the auto makers actually use that $25 billion in green funds for . . . green retooling. Which, needless to say, isn't going to help the Big Three CEOs pay their upcoming health-care bills.

And so Mrs. Pelosi has been landed with Detroit, again. The auto makers have staged a brilliant PR campaign, tying their misfortunes to today's financial mess -- never mind those decades of mismanagement. They've warned that the ripple effect of a crash could cost three million to four million jobs. Democrats have also undoubtedly been reminded by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger that those come from his union, which recently helped Mrs. Pelosi win an election.

The problem is how not to offend the other groups that just helped her win an election. The White House has intimated that its price for Democratic legislation in a lame-duck session would be the passage of the Colombia trade agreement. Yet Mrs. Pelosi has successfully sat on that deal for months at the demand of the broader union movement, which just spent hundreds of millions to increase Democratic majority.

Meanwhile, another trial balloon -- a proposal to loosen the rules governing the $25 billion in green money -- sent Mrs. Pelosi's environmental friends bonkers. They also just spent big helping Democrats, and insist the money go to building clean cars, not digging out Detroit.

Mrs. Pelosi has since tasked Barney Frank with "drafting" a bailout bill. Yet by yesterday, Democrats were backing away from a vote, complaining they weren't getting help from Republicans. That might work now, though come January, a bigger Democratic majority will no longer have the GOP as an excuse. By the looks of this week, that's when the real fun begins.

Write to kim@wsj.com
23207  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Starting up with FMA (training options) on: November 14, 2008, 10:50:54 AM
You now have begun the Adventure that continues to intrigue so many of us here  cool
23208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Stable money is the key on: November 14, 2008, 10:44:43 AM
I confess to having just skimmed that long read, but towards the end caught the idea about the role of the Chinese savings glut.  This idea I find very interesting and will think about it.

A bit briefer is this from today's WSJ:

OPINION NOVEMBER 14, 2008 Stable Money Is the Key to Recovery

How the G-20 can rebuild the 'capitalism of the future.'By JUDY SHELTON
   
Tomorrow's "Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy" in Washington will have a stellar cast. Leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging nations will be there, including Chinese President Hu Jintao, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who initiated the whole affair, in order, as he put it, "to build together the capitalism of the future," will be in attendance, along with the host, our own President George W. Bush, and the chiefs of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations.

 
Martin KozlowskiOne thing is guaranteed: Most attendees will take the view that Wall Street greed and inadequate regulatory oversight by U.S. authorities caused the global financial crisis -- never mind that their own regulatory agencies missed the boat and that their own governments eagerly bought up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac securities for the higher yield over Treasurys.

But whatever they agree to pursue, whether new transnational regulatory authority or globally mandated limits on executive remuneration, would only stultify prospects for economic recovery -- and completely miss the point.

At the bottom of the world financial crisis is international monetary disorder. Ever since the post-World War II Bretton Woods system -- anchored by a gold-convertible dollar -- ended in August 1971, the cause of free trade has been compromised by sovereign monetary-policy indulgence.

Today, a soupy mix of currencies sloshes investment capital around the world, channeling it into stagnant pools while productive endeavor is left high and dry. Entrepreneurs in countries with overvalued currencies are unable to attract the foreign investment that should logically flow in their direction, while scam artists in countries with undervalued currencies lure global financial resources into brackish puddles.

To speak of "overvalued" or "undervalued" currencies is to raise the question: Why can't we just have money that works -- a meaningful unit of account to provide accurate price signals to producers and consumers across the globe?

Consider this: The total outstanding notional amount of financial derivatives, according to the Bank for International Settlements, is $684 trillion (as of June 2008) -- over 12 times the world's nominal gross domestic product. Derivatives make it possible to place bets on future monetary policy or exchange-rate movements. More than 66% of those financial derivatives are interest-rate contracts: swaps, options or forward-rate agreements. Another 9% are foreign-exchange contracts.

In other words, some three-quarters of the massive derivatives market, which has wreaked the most havoc across global financial markets, derives its investment allure from the capricious monetary policies of central banks and the chaotic movements of currencies.

In the absence of a rational monetary system, investment responds to the perverse incentives of paper profits. Meanwhile, price signals in the global marketplace are hopelessly distorted.

For his part, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says his essential goal is "to root out the irresponsible and often undisclosed lending at the heart of our problems." But if anyone has demonstrated irresponsibility, it is not those who chased misleading price signals in pursuit of false profits -- but rather global authorities who have failed to provide an appropriate international monetary system to serve the needs of honest entrepreneurs in an open world economy.

When President Richard Nixon closed the gold window some 37 years ago, it marked the end of a golden age of robust trade and unprecedented global economic growth. The Bretton Woods system derived its strength from a commitment by the U.S. to redeem dollars for gold on demand.

True, the right of convertibility at a pre-established rate was granted only to foreign central banks, not to individual dollar holders; therein lies the distinction between the Bretton Woods gold exchange system and a classical gold standard. Under Bretton Woods, participating nations agreed to maintain their own currencies at a fixed exchange rate relative to the dollar.

Since the value of the dollar was fixed to gold at $35 per ounce of gold -- guaranteed by the redemption privilege -- it was as if all currencies were anchored to gold. It also meant all currencies were convertible into each other at fixed rates.

Paul Volcker, former Fed chairman, was at Camp David with Nixon on that fateful day, Aug. 15, when the system was ended. Mr. Volcker, serving as Treasury undersecretary for monetary affairs at the time, had misgivings; and he has since noted that the inflationary pressures which caused us to go off the gold standard in the first place have only worsened. Moreover, he suggests, floating rates undermine the fundamental tenets of comparative advantage.

"What can an exchange rate really mean," he wrote in "Changing Fortunes" (1992), "in terms of everything a textbook teaches about rational economic decision making, when it changes by 30% or more in the space of 12 months only to reverse itself? What kind of signals does that send about where a businessman should intelligently invest his capital for long-term profitability? In the grand scheme of economic life first described by Adam Smith, in which nations like individuals should concentrate on the things they do best, how can anyone decide which country produces what most efficiently when the prices change so fast? The answer, to me, must be that such large swings are a symptom of a system in disarray."

If we are to "build together the capitalism of the future," as Mr. Sarkozy puts it, the world needs sound money. Does that mean going back to a gold standard, or gold-based international monetary system? Perhaps so; it's hard to imagine a more universally accepted standard of value.

Gold has occupied a primary place in the world's monetary history and continues to be widely held as a reserve asset. The central banks of the G-20 nations hold two-thirds of official world gold reserves; include the gold reserves of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the Bank for International Settlements, and the figure goes to nearly 80%, representing about 15% of all the gold ever mined.

Ironically, it was French President Charles de Gaulle who best made the case in the 1960s. Worried that the U.S. would be tempted to abuse its role as key currency issuer by exporting domestic inflation, he called for the return to a classical international gold standard. "Gold," he observed, "has no nationality."

Mr. Sarkozy might build on that legacy if he can look beyond the immediacy of the crisis and work toward a future global economy based on monetary integrity. This would indeed help to restore the values of democratic capitalism. And Mr. Volcker, an influential adviser to President-elect Barack Obama, could turn out to be a powerful ally in the pursuit of a new stable monetary order.

Ms. Shelton, an economist, is author of "Money Meltdown: Restoring Order to the Global Currency System" (Free Press, 1994).
23209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / B. Rush on: November 14, 2008, 10:28:42 AM
"Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families."

—Benjamin Rush, letter to His Fellow Countrymen: On Patriotism, October 20, 1773
23210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 14, 2008, 09:00:50 AM
This is an interesting theme you focus on here GM.

I note the date of the most recent of your posts.  It was sometime around that time that Stratfor had a piece which focused on the vulnerability of the Saudi installations and IIRC it noted that there were some variables about the installations themselves that made it harder to blow the whole thing up than one might think.  That said, they did regard it as a very legitimate security concern. 

With the oil price spike one can easily imagine AQ dusting off their plans in this regard and even with the bursting of the bubble still thinking about it.
23211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: R.I.P. on: November 13, 2008, 05:40:04 PM
Magical moments that continue to inform my Life , , ,

The Adventure continues!
23212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: November 13, 2008, 05:11:33 PM
GM:

Would you please summarize in 25-100 words?

Thank you.
23213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 05:07:46 PM
"I just wish Bush, i.e. the republican party had been more fiscally responsible.  I mean
democrats are suppose to spend    but republicans are suppose to keep a tight purse.  Look at the mess we
are in when the both team up and spend and print money."

Mostly amen to that!  Worth noting though is that it is a mistake for Reps to allow Dems to maneuver them into being "the tax collector for the nanny state."  Part of Reagan's genius was that he knew how to avoid this trap.
23214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove on: November 13, 2008, 01:15:36 PM
second post of the day:

Political races are about candidates and issues. But election results, in the end, are about numbers. So now that the dust is settling on the 2008 presidential race, what do the numbers tell us?

First, the predicted huge turnout surge didn't happen. The final tally is likely to show that fewer than 128.5 million people voted. That's up marginally from 122 million in 2004. But 17 million more people voted in 2004 than in 2000 (three times the change from 2004 to 2008).

Second, a substantial victory was won by modest improvement in the Democratic share of the vote. Barack Obama received 2.1 points more in the popular vote than President Bush received in 2004, 3.1 points more than Vice President Al Gore in 2000, and 4.6 points more than John Kerry in 2004. In raw numbers, the latest tally shows that Mr. Obama received 66.1 million votes, about 7.1 million more than Mr. Kerry.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is now writing a book to be published by Simon & Schuster. Email the author at Karl@Rove.com or visit him on the web at Rove.com.
Four out of five of these additional votes came from minorities. Mr. Obama got nearly 3.3 million more votes from African-Americans than did Mr. Kerry; 2.9 million of them were from younger blacks aged 18-29. A quarter of Mr. Obama's improvement among blacks -- 811,000 votes -- came from African-Americans who voted Republican in 2004. Mr. Obama also received 2.5 million more Hispanic votes than Mr. Kerry. Over a third of these votes -- 719,000 -- cast ballots for Republicans in 2004.

One of the most important shifts was Hispanic support for Democrats. John McCain got the votes of 32% of Hispanic voters. That's down from the 44% Mr. Bush won four years ago. If this trend continues, the GOP will find it difficult to regain the majority.

Mr. Obama won 4.6 million more votes in the West and 1.4 million more in the Midwest than Mr. Kerry. Mr. McCain, on the other hand, got more than 2.6 million fewer votes in the Midwest than Mr. Bush. In Ohio, for example, Mr. Obama received 32,000 fewer votes than Mr. Kerry in 2004 -- but Mr. McCain got 360,000 fewer votes than Mr. Bush. That turned a 119,000 vote GOP victory in 2004 into a 206,000 vote Democratic win this year.

Then there were those who didn't show up. There were 4.1 million fewer Republicans voting this year than in 2004. Some missing Republicans had turned independent or Democratic for this election. But most simply stayed home. Ironically for a campaign that featured probably the last Vietnam veteran to run for president, 2.7 million fewer veterans voted. There were also 4.1 million fewer voters who attend religious services more than once a week. Americans aren't suddenly going to church less; something was missing from the campaign to draw out the more religiously observant.

In a sign Mr. Obama's victory may have been more personal than partisan or philosophical, Democrats picked up just 10 state senate seats (out of 1,971) and 94 state house seats (out of 5,411). By comparison, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, Republicans picked up 112 state senate seats (out of 1,981) and 190 state house seats (out of 5,501).

In the states this year, five chambers shifted from Republican to Democrats, while four shifted from either tied or Democratic control to Republican control. In the South, Mr. Obama had "reverse coattails." Republicans gained legislative seats across the region. In Tennessee both the house and senate now have GOP majorities for the first time since the Civil War.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

A Barack MarketEmpire State ImplosionThe Greens Get Harpooned

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Wonder Land: A Monument to Government Power
– Daniel HenningerHistory Favors Republicans in 2010
– Karl Rove

COMMENTARY

How to Put the Squeeze on Iran
– Orde F. KittrieObama and Missile Defense
– John R. BoltonIt's Time to Rethink Our Retirement Plans
– Roger W. Ferguson Jr.This matters because the 2010 Census could allocate as many as four additional congressional districts to Texas, two each to Arizona and Florida, and one district to each of a number of (mostly) red-leaning states, while subtracting seats from (mostly) blue-leaning states like Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania and, for the first time, California. Redistricting and reapportionment could help tilt the playing field back to the GOP in Congress and the race for the White House by moving seven House seats (and electoral votes) from mostly blue to mostly red states.

History will favor Republicans in 2010. Since World War II, the out-party has gained an average of 23 seats in the U.S. House and two in the U.S. Senate in a new president's first midterm election. Other than FDR and George W. Bush, no president has gained seats in his first midterm election in both chambers.

Since 1966, the incumbent party has lost an average of 63 state senate and 262 state house seats, and six governorships, in a president's first midterm election. That 2010 is likely to see Republicans begin rebounding just before redistricting is one silver lining in an otherwise dismal year for the GOP.

In politics, good years follow bad years. Republicans and Democrats have experienced both during the past 15 years. A GOP comeback, while certainly possible, won't be self-executing and automatic. It will require Republicans to be skillful at both defense (opposing Mr. Obama on some issues) and offense (creating a compelling agenda that resonates with voters). And it will require leaders to emerge who give the right public face to the GOP. None of this will be easy. All of this will be necessary.

Mr. Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
23215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 13, 2008, 12:46:10 PM
As bad as a spender as Bush was, it is deranged and disingenuous for Dems to point the finger on this-- for their complaint about him was always that he wasn't spending enough-- not to mention that when they control the House of Representatives control over spending is theirs.
23216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 13, 2008, 12:41:27 PM
Amongst those first to be thanked for this odious piece of legislation is Senator John McCain.
23217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: November 13, 2008, 12:37:27 PM
November 13, 2008

In today's Political Diary

'Election Day' Won't End Till Democrats Have 60
Nancy Rules
Pence for His Thoughts
The Man, Not the Plan (Quote of the Day)
Howard Shows How


Nightmare on Constitution Avenue

With news that Democratic candidate Mark Begich has taken the lead from incumbent GOP Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska's Senate race, Republicans are beginning to visualize a nightmare scenario in which Democrats actually reach the goal of 60 Senate seats that would allow them to stop any GOP filibuster.

The scenario runs like this:

First, Republicans lose the Alaska seat. At least 15,000 provisional ballots and an estimated 20,000 mailed absentee ballots remain to be counted. Ominously for Republicans, Mr. Begich now holds an 814-vote lead after some 50,000 absentee ballots were counted this week. The race could remain undecided for some time. Alaska will continue to accept absentee ballots through Nov. 19 if they were postmarked by Election Day.

Democrats also have an excellent opportunity to pick up a Georgia Senate seat if President-elect Obama decides it's vital for his party to win the December 2 runoff between GOP incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin. With a snap of Mr. Obama's fingers, money and resources from Team Obama's vaunted organization would pour in. Dispirited Republicans might well stay home, allowing Democrats to capture the seat much as Republicans took a Georgia Senate seat in a similar 1992 runoff. "We're a long way away from having the resources we need to match the Democrats," Senator Chambliss told reporters.

Then there's Minnesota, where GOP Senator Norm Coleman's lead over comedian Al Franken has just dwindled to 206 votes even before a statewide recount begins next week. Republicans fear that Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, an ally of the activist group ACORN, will attempt to put his thumb on the scale during the process.

If bad breaks occur in all of these races, Democrats will win the important strategic and psychological prize of 60 seats, and Republicans will have lost 15 Senate seats in just two election cycles -- a modern record.

-- John Fund

The Godmother


How determined is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to start the new term with her caucus marching in lockstep behind here? Take a look at the House Democratic leadership races -- if you can stay awake.

Barack Obama's tapping of Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel as his White House chief of staff opened up his powerful position as chair of the Democratic Caucus. Just a few days ago, rumors were flying that at least two challengers would seek his job. Connecticut Rep. John Larson, currently vice-chairman, made clear his intention to run. Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, architect of this cycle's House wins, said he wanted to run as well, setting up a showdown. Meanwhile, the vice-chairman's job that Mr. Larson is vacating quickly attracted competing bids from Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, New York Rep. Joe Crowley, and Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek.

But Mrs. Pelosi was apparently having none of it. Suddenly Mr. Van Hollen announced that he'd decided to stay put as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as well as accepting an additional title as "assistant" to Speaker Pelosi. That left Mr. Larson unopposed for the caucus chairmanship. At the same time, Reps. Shakowsky, Crowley and Meeks all changed their minds and decided not to run for the vice-chair slot. Instead, most will be supporting Mrs. Pelosi's handpicked ally for the job, California Rep. Xavier Becerra, who now appears a shoe-in.

In short, Mrs. Pelosi seems to have orchestrated the party's internal reorganization without any major infighting. Then again, she's also leaving some ambitious caucus members without prizes. We'll see how they respond once the legislating begins.

-- Kim Strassel

Hoosier Hero

The message of this election and the 2006 election is simple: "Big government Republicanism is a failed experiment."

So says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican. Mr. Pence is running to become chairman of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 power slot and effectively the communications director of the Republican Party. He is currently unopposed, but Dan Lungren of California has hinted he might also vie for the job. The leadership elections are next week.

I caught up with Mr. Pence on Wednesday and he was in a feisty mood. "Our job," he tells me, "is to expose and defeat the liberal agenda that is coming." He sees the first round being fought over a big-spending "stimulus" plan from the Obama administration as well as an attempt to reinstate the ban on offshore drilling. Mr. Pence says his party needs to discover its inner Reagan and bring back a "vision of policy contrast" with the Obama liberals. The only thing embattled Republicans have going for them, he adds, is that America "is still a center-right country. Voters know that we can't tax, spend and bailout our way back to prosperity."

Mr. Pence is ideally suited to rehab the Republican Party. He voted against three Bush initiatives that have grown the government mightily: the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the No Child Left Behind school spending law, and September's $700 billion financial rescue plan. Mr. Pence says he got into the race for conference chairman after a call from House Minority Leader John Boehner, who told him the party needs his crisp message.

Mr. Pence is a Reaganite optimist who tells me something that seems paradoxical but true. "For the first time in eight years, we as conservative Republicans have the wind at our backs." He means that being in the minority can be liberating, allowing the party to rediscover its bearings and figure out how to modernize the GOP message. Step One, he says, will be repudiating the Bush-era philosophy of "big government Republicanism."

Good riddance.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

"First, the good news for Obama: Sixty-two percent of Americans expect him to be a 'good' or 'great' president, and 70 percent expect the economy to improve over the next four years, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. . . But data in the Quinnipiac poll shows that overall goodwill won't necessarily translate into automatic support for Obama's policy proposals. Obama called for the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay during the campaign, and it was reported on Tuesday that the president-elect is already looking into shuttering the facility. But a 44 percent plurality of voters said Guantanamo should remain open, compared with 29 percent who wanted it closed and 27 percent who weren't sure. On Iraq, Obama's plans don't match voter sentiment right now, either. . . . And even on some Obama proposals with widespread support, Americans don't seem optimistic they'll be enacted. Fifty-four percent of voters believe the president-elect will not follow through on his oft-repeated campaign pledge to lower taxes for 95 percent of Americans" -- David Herbert, National Journal "Poll Track" columnist, on new post-election polling of voter attitudes about a Barack Obama presidency.

They're All Deaniacs Now

Four years after Howard Dean took over the Democratic National Committee with promises to invest in party building even in heavily Republican territory, his would-be counterparts in the Republican Party are talking about imitating Mr. Dean's approach. After all, it's tough to argue with two straight cycles of nearly unparalleled Democratic success.

Mr. Dean's "50-state strategy," which invested financial and human resources everywhere from Alaska to Wyoming and the Deep South, is credited with reviving the party in states where it had lately withered. In turn, those states helped steal more than 50 House seats from Republicans over two cycles, some in districts that gave President Bush more than 60% of the vote in 2004.

No wonder candidates looking to replace RNC chairman Mike Duncan are touting the Dean model as a way to rebuild the GOP. "We have to come up with our own 50-state strategy, so to speak," says Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis, who made his candidacy official on Wednesday.

"I thought Howard Dean had a pretty good idea with his 50-state strategy," echoes Oklahoma Republican Party chief Gary Jones, who is backing a combined ticket of former Senator Fred Thompson and one-time Michigan National Committeeman Chuck Yob for the RNC post.

Mr. Dean, the former Vermont governor who made a name for himself during the 2004 presidential primaries for his anti-war appeal to liberals, is an unlikely role model for Republican Party strategists. But they know a good idea when they see it. Along with gains in Congressional elections and picking up Electoral College votes from enemy territory in Indiana, North Carolina and even Nebraska's Second Congressional District, Democrats under Mr. Dean made impressive gains in state legislatures, including netting about 100 legislative seats this cycle (though several are being disputed in recounts).

Another great idea Republicans are adopting from Mr. Dean: If a candidate for public office helps raise money and manpower for state and local party organizations, the national party will always return the favor.


-- Reid Wilson, RealClearPolitics.com



23218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / R.I.P. on: November 13, 2008, 11:02:38 AM
Mitch Mitchell, drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, has died, apparently of natural causes at the age of 61 huh

MM was an outstanding drummer.  In addition to seeing him play as part of the JHE in 1967, I also saw him sit in various times with the Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore East.  There were strong connections between the JA and the JHE.  Jack Casady frequently played with JH (see e.g. "Voodoo Chile on Electric Ladyland", and a cut on "JH live at Winterland") and MM relates in his book on his years with JH that JH asked Jack to replace Noel Redding in the JHE but that Jack was loyal to the JA.  Anyway, MM would come sit in with the JA. 

The late show at the Fillmore began at 11:30 and usually had two bands before the JA, so the JA typically would come on stage around 0200 and MM would join in around 0400 with the set typically finishing around 0530 (which was cutting it close for me sneaking back into the house before my folks awoke).  This was not a problem when the JA drummer was Spencer Dryden, but Spencer's replacement Joey Covington apparently felt insecure--  one time a separate drum set was put out on stage for MM to play even as JC continued to play.  Eventually JC backed off and insincerely introduced "Our friend Mitch Mitchell" to the crowd. 

The rapport between Mitch, Jack on bass and Jorma on guitar (Paul Kantner doing fine on rythhm guitar too) was extraordinary.

Scary to see someone 5 years older than me dying of "natural causes"! shocked
23219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Bolton on: November 13, 2008, 10:51:30 AM
Well, tis a rare event but, apart from the tedious boilerplate about Bush, I'm in agreement with JDN on this one.

However, the following presages exactly the sort of weakness that I fear from a President BO:

JOHN R. BOLTONArticle
 
Presidential transitions provide the opportunity to predict how an incoming administration will govern. While the Obama transition is proceeding largely behind the scenes, commentators have been hard at work examining the emerging evidence to reach sweeping conclusions about the administration's likely direction.

While it is much too early to reach any firm conclusions, a few substantive events have taken place. Consider, for example, the established tradition of a president-elect's series of calls to world leaders, to introduce himself and receive their congratulations. One of Barack Obama's first such conversations took place last Friday with Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

From the press reports and statements regarding their brief exchange it seems Messrs. Obama and Kaczynski drew radically different conclusions on a critical issue -- missile defense. Mr. Kaczynski raised the subject, given the recent U.S.-Polish agreement to base missile defense assets in Poland. In the words of the Polish press statement about the call, Mr. Kaczynski heard Mr. Obama say "that the missile defense project would continue."

The Obama transition promptly issued a rebuttal: "President-elect Obama made no commitment on it. His position is as it was throughout the campaign -- that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable."

This was a remarkable statement. Mr. Obama contradicted a head of state, clinging to a campaign position that could most kindly be described as weak and ambiguous. The statement also reflected a naiveté in the structuring of such transition conversations -- and future dealings with truly unfriendly foreign leaders -- that could have been avoided.

Importantly, the Obama-Kaczynski telephone call must be seen in the context of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's speech just two days before, where he threatened to base Russian missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave, targeting our proposed missile defense deployments in Poland. Mr. Medvedev's words were more than just a direct challenge to President-elect Obama on missile defense. They were also a direct challenge to the Polish government, which reached an agreement with the Bush administration just days after the Russian invasion of Georgia. The Poles were out on a limb, and Mr. Medvedev was testing the strength of that limb and the strength of the incoming U.S. president. Both now look disturbingly weak.

To be sure, one could argue that the Poles should not so quickly have issued an unequivocal statement without checking with Mr. Obama's handlers. But so too the Obama team should have understood that foreign leaders, both friends and adversaries, are in a state of high tension, hoping to get the president-elect to give his stamp of approval for their agendas before the inertia of the permanent government gets in the way.

Mr. Kaczynski's gambit may have been the first, but it won't be the last, and those hundreds of Obama foreign-affairs advisers should have known it was coming. The Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programs, Arab-Israeli affairs and a host of other critical problems are thundering toward Mr. Obama as Jan. 20 approaches.

Freeing America from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty's antiquated constraints is rightly regarded as one of President Bush's most significant achievements. In 2001, we believed that the Russian strategic threat had eased. But the emerging threats from rogue states possessing a few nuclear-capable ballistic missiles required that we develop adequate defenses -- especially because many emerging nuclear-weapons states do not accept the same calculus of deterrence that maintained the Cold War's uneasy nuclear standoff. The demise of the ABM Treaty allows America to defend itself from these threats.

For a new Obama administration to retreat from this achievement, as many in the arms-control "community" have advocated, would be a significant step backward. His campaign position about deployment after the technology is "proved" is an excuse never to deploy missile defenses -- because nothing in the military field is ever conclusively proven for all time. Rebuffing Mr. Kaczynski is also precisely the wrong response to Mr. Medvedev's provocation. It will surely be read as weakness, and not only in Moscow. In fact, Moscow announced yesterday there would be no more missile-defense negotiations before Jan. 20.

How should Israel and the Arab world now contemplate the prospects for rapid U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the prospects for turmoil there and enhanced Iranian influence in the Middle East? Will North Korea -- whoever is in charge -- now kick back and wait for Jan. 20? The list of questions is far longer than the list of Mr. Obama's answers.

To repeat, it is much too early to draw larger conclusions from this one episode. On the existing postelection evidence, we cannot tell whether Mr. Obama will govern on the left or the center-left, or whether he is simply passive and risk-averse. But on balance, his conversation with Mr. Kaczynski points toward a weakening of the U.S. defense posture, indifference to allies under duress, and the need to satisfy his natural constituency within the Democratic Party. Let us now await the next pieces of evidence.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations"
23220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: November 13, 2008, 10:45:38 AM
BBG's post of Hedges reminds of us the wisdom of the Founding Fathers that not everyone should be voting , , , evil
23221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Pressuring Iran on: November 13, 2008, 09:26:28 AM
If Barack Obama is to persuade Iran to negotiate away its illegal nuclear weapons program, he will first need to generate more leverage than what the Bush administration is leaving him with. The current U.N. sanctions have proven too weak to dissuade Tehran's leaders, and Russia and China seem determined to keep those sanctions weak. Meanwhile, the regime continues to insist there are no incentives in exchange for which it would halt or even limit its nuclear work.

 
David KleinHowever, Tehran has an economic Achilles' heel -- its extraordinarily heavy dependence on imported gasoline. This dependence could be used by the United States to peacefully create decisive leverage over the Islamic Republic.

Iranian oil wells produce far more petroleum (crude oil) than Iran needs. Yet, remarkably for a country investing so much in nuclear power, Iran has not developed sufficient capacity to refine that crude oil into gasoline and diesel fuel. As a result, it must import some 40% of the gasoline it needs for internal consumption.

In recent months, Iran has, according to the respected trade publication International Oil Daily and other sources including the U.S. government, purchased nearly all of this gasoline from just five companies, four of them European: the Swiss firm Vitol; the Swiss/Dutch firm Trafigura; the French firm Total; British Petroleum; and one Indian company, Reliance Industries. If these companies stopped supplying Iran, the Iranians could replace only some of what they needed from other suppliers -- and at a significantly higher price. Neither Russia nor China could serve as alternative suppliers. Both are themselves also heavily dependent on imports of the type of gasoline Iran needs.

Were these companies to stop supplying gasoline to Iran, the world-wide price of oil would be unaffected -- the companies would simply sell to other buyers. But the impact on Iran would be substantial.

When Tehran attempted to ration gasoline during the summer of 2007, violent protests forced the regime to back down. Cutting off gasoline sales to Iran, or even a significant reduction, could have an even more dramatic effect.

In Congress, there is already bipartisan support for peacefully cutting off gasoline sales to Iran until it stops its illicit nuclear activities. Barack Obama, John McCain and the House of Representatives have all declared their support.

On June 4 of this year, for example, Sen. Obama said at a speech in Washington, D.C.: "We should work with Europe, Japan and the Gulf states to find every avenue outside the U.N. to isolate the Iranian regime -- from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions, to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran."

He repeated this sentiment during the presidential candidates' debate on Oct. 7: "Iran right now imports gasoline . . . if we can prevent them from importing the gasoline that they need . . . that starts changing their cost-benefit analysis. That starts putting the squeeze on them."

How do we stop the gasoline from flowing? The Bush administration has reportedly never asked the Swiss, Dutch, French, British or Indian governments to stop gasoline sales to Iran by the companies headquartered within their borders. An Obama administration should make this request, and do the same with other governments if other companies try to sell gasoline to Iran.

But the U.S. also has significant direct leverage over the companies that currently supply most of Iran's imported gasoline.

Consider India's Reliance Industries which, according to International Oil Daily, "reemerged as a major supplier of gasoline to Iran" in July after taking a break for several months. It "delivered three cargoes of gasoline totaling around 100,000 tons to Iran's Mideast Gulf port of Bandar Abbas from its giant Jamnagar refinery in India's western province of Gujarat." Reliance reportedly "entered into a new arrangement with National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) under which it will supply around . . . three 35,000-ton cargoes a month, from its giant Jamnagar refinery." One hundred thousand tons represents some 10% of Iran's total monthly gasoline needs.

The Jamnagar refinery is heavily supported by U.S. taxpayer dollars. In May 2007, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a government agency that assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services, announced a $500 million loan guarantee to help finance expansion of the Jamnagar refinery. On Aug. 28, 2008, Ex-Im announced a new $400 million long-term loan guarantee for Reliance, including additional financing of work at the Jamnagar refinery.

Or consider the Swiss firm Vitol. According to International Oil Daily, Vitol "over the past few years has accounted for around 60% of the gasoline shipped to Iran." Vitol is currently building a $100 million terminal in Port Canaveral, Florida.

Last year, when Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty discovered that an Indian company, Essar, was seeking to both invest some $1.6 billion in Minnesota and invest over $5 billion in building a refinery in Iran, he put Essar to a choice. Mr. Pawlenty threatened to block state infrastructure subsidies and perhaps even construction permits for the Minnesota purchase unless Essar withdrew from the Iranian investment. Essar promptly withdrew from the Iranian investment.

Florida officials could consider taking a similar stance with Vitol.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

A Barack MarketEmpire State ImplosionThe Greens Get Harpooned

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Wonder Land: A Monument to Government Power
– Daniel HenningerHistory Favors Republicans in 2010
– Karl Rove

COMMENTARY

How to Put the Squeeze on Iran
– Orde F. KittrieObama and Missile Defense
– John R. BoltonIt's Time to Rethink Our Retirement Plans
– Roger W. Ferguson Jr.The Minnesota example is not the only precedent. U.S. outreach to foreign banks and to oil companies considering investing in Iran's energy sector has reportedly convinced more than 80 banks and several major potential oil-field investors to cease all or some of their business with Iran. Among them: Germany's two largest banks (Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank), London-based HSBC, Credit Suisse, Norwegian energy company StatoilHydro, and Royal Dutch Shell.

A sustained initiative may be able to convince most or all current and potential suppliers that the profits to be gained from continuing to sell gasoline to Iran will be dwarfed by the lost loan guarantees and subsidies and foregone profits they will incur in the U.S. from continuing to do business with Iran.

Last Sunday, a group of 60 Iranian economists called for the regime to drastically change course, saying that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "tension-creating" foreign policy has "scared off foreign investment and inflicted heavy damage on the economy." The economists said the current sanctions, as weak as they are, have cost Iran billions of dollars by forcing it to use middlemen for exports and imports. Halting Iran's gasoline supply could contribute to reaching a tipping point -- at which economic pressures and protests convince the regime its illicit nuclear program poses too great a risk to its grip over the Iranian people.

If the federal and key state governments in the U.S. were to make it their goal to achieve a halt by companies selling gasoline to Iran, it could be a game-changer. It may be our best remaining hope for peacefully convincing Iran to desist from developing nuclear weapons.

Mr. Kittrie is a professor of law at Arizona State University and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He previously worked for 11 years at the U.S. Department of State, including as a specialist on nuclear nonproliferation and sanctions.
23222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WTF? on: November 13, 2008, 08:55:24 AM
Dan Mirvish, who with Eitan Gorlin created an elaborate Internet hoax complete with a fake policy institute and a phony adviser to Senator John McCain.

By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEŃA
Published: November 12, 2008
NYT
It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

April Fools’ Comes Early: Read All About It (November 13, 2008)
Palin Calls Criticism by McCain Aides ‘Cruel and Mean-Spirited’ (November 8, 2008)
Martin Eisenstadt’s Blog
The Web Site for the Harding Institute
 
Eitan Gorlin as the phony McCain adviser Martin Eisenstadt.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say?

“That’s a really good question,” one of the two, Eitan Gorlin, said with a laugh.

(For what it’s worth, another reporter for The New York Times is an acquaintance of Mr. Gorlin and vouches for his identity, and Mr. Gorlin is indeed “Mr. Eisenstadt” in those videos. He and his partner in deception, Dan Mirvish, have entries on the Internet Movie Database, imdb.com. But still. ...)

They say the blame lies not with them but with shoddiness in the traditional news media and especially the blogosphere.

“With the 24-hour news cycle they rush into anything they can find,” said Mr. Mirvish, 40.

Mr. Gorlin, 39, argued that Eisenstadt was no more of a joke than half the bloggers or political commentators on the Internet or television.

An MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, explained the network’s misstep by saying someone in the newsroom received the Palin item in an e-mail message from a colleague and assumed it had been checked out. “It had not been vetted,” he said. “It should not have made air.”

But most of Eisenstadt’s victims have been bloggers, a reflection of the sloppy speed at which any tidbit, no matter how specious, can bounce around the Internet. And they fell for the fake material despite ample warnings online about Eisenstadt, including the work of one blogger who spent months chasing the illusion around cyberspace, trying to debunk it.

The hoax began a year ago with short videos of a parking valet character, who Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish said was the original idea for a TV series.

Soon there were videos showing him driving a car while spouting offensive, opinionated nonsense in praise of Rudolph W. Giuliani. Those videos attracted tens of thousands of Internet hits and a bit of news media attention.

When Mr. Giuliani dropped out of the presidential race, the character morphed into Eisenstadt, a parody of a blowhard cable news commentator.

Mr. Gorlin said they chose the name because “all the neocons in the Bush administration had Jewish last names and Christian first names.”

Eisenstadt became an adviser to Senator John McCain and got a blog, updated occasionally with comments claiming insider knowledge, and other bloggers began quoting and linking to it. It mixed weird-but-true items with false ones that were plausible, if just barely.

The inventors fabricated the Harding Institute, named for one of the most scorned presidents, and made Eisenstadt a senior fellow.

It didn’t hurt that a man named Michael Eisenstadt is a real expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and is quoted in the mainstream media. The real Mr. Eisenstadt said in an interview that he was only dimly aware of the fake one, and that his main concern was that people understood that “I had nothing to do with this.”

Before long Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish had produced a short documentary on Martin Eisenstadt, supposedly for the BBC, posted in several parts on YouTube.

In June they produced what appeared to be an interview with Eisenstadt on Iraqi television promoting construction of a casino in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Then they sent out a news release in which he apologized. Outraged Iraqi bloggers protested the casino idea.

Among the Americans who took that bait was Jonathan Stein, a reporter for Mother Jones. A few hours later Mr. Stein put up a post on the magazine’s political blog, with the title “Hoax Alert: Bizarre ‘McCain Adviser’ Too Good to Be True,” and explained how he had been fooled.

In July, after the McCain campaign compared Senator Barack Obama to Paris Hilton, the Eisenstadt blog said “the phone was burning off the hook” at McCain headquarters, with angry calls from Ms. Hilton’s grandfather and others. A Los Angeles Times political blog, among others, retold the story, citing Eisenstadt by name and linking to his blog.

Last month Eisenstadt blogged that Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, Joe the Plumber, was closely related to Charles Keating, the disgraced former savings and loan chief. It wasn’t true, but other bloggers ran with it.

Among those taken in by Monday’s confession about the Palin Africa report was The New Republic’s political blog. Later the magazine posted this atop the entry: “Oy — this would appear to be a hoax. Apologies.”

But the truth was out for all to see long before the big-name take-downs. For months sourcewatch.org has identified Martin Eisenstadt as a hoax. When Mr. Stein was the victim, he blogged that “there was enough info on the Web that I should have sussed this thing out.”

And then there is William K. Wolfrum, a blogger who has played Javert to Eisenstadt’s Valjean, tracking the hoaxster across cyberspace and repeatedly debunking his claims. Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish praised his tenacity, adding that the news media could learn something from him.

“As if there isn’t enough misinformation on this election, it was shocking to see so much time wasted on things that didn’t exist,” Mr. Wolfrum said in an interview.

And how can we know that Mr. Wolfrum is real and not part of the hoax?

Long pause. “Yeah, that’s a tough one.”
23223  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What does Kali Tudo 2 have in store for us?? on: November 13, 2008, 08:40:30 AM
Yesterday Night Owl gave me a first VERY rough edit of Kali Tudo 2.  The footage was shot in Hawaii, working the the Hawaii Clan of the Dog Brothers (led by Dogzilla). 
23224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Old Times at the Kremlin on: November 13, 2008, 12:33:06 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Seems Like Old Times at the Kremlin
November 12, 2008

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Tuesday sent a draft law to the Duma that would make a series of structural changes to the Russian government, including extending the president’s term. The draft law is no surprise; Medvedev laid out the changes in his first state address Nov. 5. But the details of the changes are quite interesting. The presidential term would be extended from four to six years, legislators’ terms would increase from four to five years, and there would be a shift in the way members of the legislature’s upper house, the Federal Council, are chosen.

Following the State of the State address last week, Medvedev’s aides had quickly explained that the extension of the presidential term would not affect Medvedev’s stay in office, but rather would apply to the next president. The Russian media have erupted with speculation that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be returning to the presidency, which he left earlier this year. Under Russian law, a president can serve more than two terms, but not consecutively. This has led to rumors in the press that Medvedev could step down in the coming year, allowing Putin to step into his old shoes and serve out the remainder of Medvedev’s term before potentially being elected to another two terms of his own. All told, it would mean that Putin could be in office for another 15 years.

According to Stratfor sources, Putin might lay the groundwork for such a move at the convention for United Russia — the ruling party — on Nov. 20, where he is to give a “campaign-style speech.” It does not really matter if Putin is president or prime minister; in either position, he is the one driving the train in Moscow. But he has allowed Medvedev to act as president, particularly in the decision-making process during the Russia-Georgia war and the financial crisis.

According to what Stratfor has heard from sources in Moscow, Putin has not yet decided whether to return to the presidency. The main reason he would want to return is that Medvedev isn’t seen as the authoritative figure Putin was in the same role — and with Russia attempting a resurgence on the global scene, it needs a powerful leader to command respect. On the other hand, Putin has never been interested in the daily tasks that go along with being chief, such as meeting with middle- or low-tier world leaders or making constant speeches. He is much more interested in decision-making — and the power that goes along with it.

This is where one of the key, but mostly overlooked, changes proposed by Medvedev comes into play. Though the details of this change are still murky, it calls for members of the Federal Council — who represent each of Russia’s 81 federal regions (republics, oblasts, krais, okrugs and the two largest cities) — to be chosen by the ruling party in each region. Since Putin’s United Russia controls most of the country already, and any stray regions most likely will be under that party’s control soon, the shift would put United Russia in charge of essentially the entire country, at the regional level.

Stratfor has watched as United Russia evolved from being merely another party in the country to the main party in Russia. Now it appears to be transforming into “the Party” — much like the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which controlled the top echelons of the Russian government and held power in every region of the Soviet Union. Medvedev’s reforms officially would give United Russia that sort of power.

Moreover, this gives whoever is in charge of the party the bulk of power in Russia. Under most Soviet leaders, the ruler of “the Party” was the ruler of the country. But in modern Russia, the president must have no party affiliation, according to a social law — which is why Putin took the helm of United Russia only after becoming premier. This tradition can be changed, but thus far, it is not a part of Medvedev’s large government overhaul plan. Which leaves us wondering whether the shuffle in organization and positions is just about Putin returning to the presidency, or whether something larger — the question of who exactly will control “The Party” — is in play.
23225  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 13, 2008, 12:31:27 AM
Disculpe que lo siguiente sea en ingles.  Si alguien tiene un software para traducirlo, se lo agradeceria:

Worrying Signs from Border Raids
November 12, 2008




By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Last week, the Mexican government carried out a number of operations in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, aimed at Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran, one of the original members of the brutal cartel group known as Los Zetas. According to Mexican government officials, Gonzalez Duran controlled the Zetas’ operations in nine Mexican states.

The Nov. 7 arrest of Gonzalez Duran was a major victory for the Mexican government and will undoubtedly be a major blow to the Zetas. Taking Gonzalez Duran off the streets, however, is not the only aspect of these operations with greater implications. The day before Gonzalez Duran’s arrest, Mexican officials searching for him raided a safe house, where they discovered an arms cache that would turn out to be the largest weapons seizure in Mexican history. This is no small feat, as there have been several large hauls of weapons seized from the Zetas and other Mexican cartel groups in recent years.

The weapons seized at the Gonzalez Duran safe house included more than 500 firearms, a half-million rounds of ammunition and 150 grenades. The cache also included a LAW rocket, two grenade launchers and a small amount of explosives. Along with the scores of assorted assault rifles, grenades and a handful of gaudy gold-plated pistols were some weapons that require a bit more examination: namely, the 14 Fabrique Nationale (FN) P90 personal defense weapons and the seven Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifles contained in the seizure.

Matapolicias
As previously noted, the FN Five-Seven pistol and FN P90 personal defense weapon are very popular with the various cartel enforcer groups operating in Mexico. The Five-Seven and the P90 shoot a 5.7 mm-by-28 mm round that has been shown to be effective in penetrating body armor as well as vehicle doors and windows. Because of this ability to punch through body armor, cartel enforcers call the weapons “matapolicias,” Spanish for “cop killers.” Of course, AK-47 and M-16-style assault rifles are also effective at penetrating body armor and vehicles, as are large-caliber hunting rifles such as the 30.06 and the .308. But the advantage of the Five-Seven and the P90 is that they provide this penetration capability in a much smaller — and thus far more concealable — package.

The P90 is a personal defense weapon designed to be carried by tank crew members or combat support personnel who require a compact weapon capable of penetrating body armor. It is considered impractical for such soldiers to be issued full-size infantry rifles or even assault rifles, so traditionally these troops were issued pistols and submachine guns. The proliferation of body armor on the modern battlefield, however, has rendered many pistols and submachine guns that fire pistol ammunition ineffective. Because of this, support troops needed a small weapon that could protect them from armored troops; the P90 fits this bill.

In fact, the P90 lends itself to anyone who needs powerful, concealable weapons. Protective security details, some police officers and some special operations forces operators thus have begun using the P90 and other personal defense weapons. The P90’s power and ability to be concealed also make it an ideal weapon for cartel enforcers intent on conducting assassinations in an urban environment — especially those stalking targets wearing body armor.

The Five-Seven, which is even smaller than the P90, fires the same fast, penetrating cartridge. Indeed, cartel hit men have killed several Mexican police officers with these weapons in recent months. However, guns that fire the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge are certainly not the only type of weapons used in attacks against police — Mexican cops have been killed by many other types of weapons.

Reach Out and Touch Someone
While the P90 and Five-Seven are small and light, and use a small, fast round to penetrate armor, the .50-caliber cartridge fired by a Barrett sniper rifle is the polar opposite: It fires a huge chunk of lead. By way of comparison, the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge is just a little more than 1.5 inches long and has a 32-grain bullet. The .50-caliber Browning Machine Gun (BMG) cartridge is actually 12.7 mm by 99 mm, measures nearly 5.5 inches long and fires a 661-grain bullet. The P90 has a maximum effective range of 150 meters (about 165 yards), whereas a Barrett’s listed maximum effective range is 1,850 meters (about 2,020 yards) — and there are reports of coalition forces snipers in Afghanistan scoring kills at more than 2,000 meters (about 2,190 yards).

The .50-BMG round not only will punch through body armor and normal passenger vehicles, it can defeat the steel plate armor and the laminated ballistic glass and polycarbonate windows used in lightly armored vehicles. This is yet another reminder that there is no such thing as a bulletproof car. The round is also capable of penetrating many brick and concrete block walls.

We have heard reports for years of cartels seeking .50-caliber sniper rifles made by Barrett and other U.S. manufacturers. Additionally, we have noted many reports of seizures from arms smugglers in the United States of these weapons bound for Mexico, or of the weapons being found in Mexican cartel safe houses — such as the seven rifles seized in Reynosa. Unlike the P90s, however, we cannot recall even one instance of these powerful weapons being used in an attack against another cartel or against a Mexican government target. This is in marked contrast to Ireland, where the Irish Republican Army used .50-caliber Barrett rifles obtained from the United States in many sniper attacks against British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

That Mexican cartels have not used these devastating weapons is surprising. There are in fact very few weapons in the arsenals of cartel enforcers that we have not seen used, including hand grenades, 40 mm grenades, LAW rockets and rocket-propelled grenades. Even though most intercartel warfare has occurred inside densely populated Mexican cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo — places where it would be very difficult to find a place to take a shot longer than a few hundred meters, much less a couple thousand — the power of the Barrett could be very effective for taking out targets wearing body armor, riding in armored vehicles, located inside the safe house of a rival cartel or even inside a government building. Also, unlike improvised explosive devices, which the cartels have avoided using for the most part, the use of .50-caliber rifles would not involve a high probability of collateral damage.

This indicates that the reason the cartels have not used these weapons is to be found in the nature of snipers and sniping.

Snipers
Most military and police snipers are highly trained and very self-disciplined. Being a sniper requires an incredible amount of practice, patience and preparation. Aside from rigorous training in marksmanship, the sniper must also be trained in camouflage, concealment and movement. Snipers are often forced to lie immobile for hours on end. Additional training is required for snipers operating in urban environments, which offer their own set of challenges to the sniper; though historically, as seen in battles like Stalingrad, urban snipers can be incredibly effective.

Snipers commonly deploy as part of a team of two, comprising a shooter and a spotter. This means two very self-disciplined individuals must be located and trained. The team must practice together and learn how to accurately estimate distances, wind speed, terrain elevation and other variables that can affect a bullet’s trajectory. An incredible amount of attention to detail is required for a sniper team to get into position and for their shots to travel several hundred meters and accurately, consistently strike a small target.

In spite of media hype and popular fiction, criminals or terrorists commit very few true sniper attacks. For example, many of our sniper friends were very upset that the media chose to label the string of murders committed by John Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo as the “D.C. Sniper Case.” While Mohammed and Malvo did use concealment, they commonly shot at targets between 50 and 100 meters (about 55 yards to 110 yards) away. Therefore, calling Mohammed and Malvo snipers was a serious insult to the genuine article. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the killing of Dr. Bernard Slepian, also have been dubbed sniper attacks, but they actually were all shootings committed at distances of less than 100 meters.

Of course, using a Barrett at short ranges (100 meters or less) is still incredibly effective and does not require a highly trained sniper — as a group of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents found out in 1993 when they attempted to serve search and arrest warrants at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The agents were met with .50-caliber sniper fire that ripped gaping holes through the Chevrolet Suburbans they sought cover behind. Many of the agents wounded in that incident were hit by the shrapnel created as the .50-caliber rounds punched through their vehicles.

While it is extremely powerful, the Barrett is however a long, heavy weapon. If the sniper lacks training in urban warfare, it might prove very difficult to move around with the gun and also to find a concealed place to employ it. This may partially explain why the Mexican cartels have not used the weapons more.

Moreover, while the Zetas originally comprised deserters from the Mexican military and over the years have shown an ability to conduct assaults and ambushes, we have not traditionally seen them deploy as snipers. Today, most of the original Zetas are now in upper management, and no longer serve as foot soldiers.

The newer men brought into the Zetas include some former military and police officers along with some young gangster types; most of them lack the level of training possessed by the original Zetas. While the Zetas have also brought on a number of former Kaibiles, Guatemalan special operations forces personnel, most of them appear to be assigned as bodyguards for senior Zetas. This may mean we are not seeing the cartels employ snipers because their rank-and-file enforcers do not possess the discipline or training to function as snipers.

Potential Problems
Of course, criminal syndicates in possession of these weapons still pose a large potential threat to U.S. law enforcement officers, especially when the weapons are in the hands of people like Gonzalez Duran and his henchmen. According to an FBI intelligence memo dated Oct. 17 and leaked to the media, Gonzalez Duran appeared to have gotten wind of the planned operation against him. He reportedly had authorized those under his command to defend their turf at any cost, to include engagements with U.S. law enforcement agents. It is important to remember that a chunk of that turf was adjacent to the U.S. border and American towns, and that Reynosa — where Gonzalez Duran was arrested and the weapons were seized — is just across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Armed with small, powerful weapons like the P90, cartel gunmen can pose a tremendous threat to any law enforcement officer who encounters them in a traffic stop or drug raid. Over the past several years, we have noted several instances of U.S. Border Patrol agents and other U.S. law enforcement officers being shot at from Mexico. The thought of being targeted by a weapon with the range and power of a .50-caliber sniper rifle would almost certainly send chills up the spine of any Border Patrol agent or sheriff’s deputy working along the border.

Armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and .50-caliber sniper rifles, cartel enforcers have the potential to wreak havoc and outgun U.S. law enforcement officers. The only saving grace for U.S. law enforcement is that many cartel enforcers are often impaired by drugs or alcohol and tend to be impetuous and reckless. While the cartel gunmen are better trained than most Mexican authorities, their training does not stack up to that of most U.S. law enforcement officers. This was illustrated by an incident on Nov. 6 in Austin, Texas, when a police officer used his service pistol to kill a cartel gunman who fired on the officer with an AK-47.

While the arrest of Gonzalez Duran and the seizure of the huge arms cache in Reynosa have taken some killers and weapons off the street, they are only one small drop in the bucket. There are many heavily armed cartel enforcers still at large in Mexico, and the violence is spreading over the border into the United States. Law enforcement officers in the United States therefore need to maintain a keen awareness of the threat.

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23226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Worrying signs from Border raids on: November 13, 2008, 12:12:15 AM
Worrying Signs from Border Raids
November 12, 2008
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

Last week, the Mexican government carried out a number of operations in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, aimed at Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran, one of the original members of the brutal cartel group known as Los Zetas. According to Mexican government officials, Gonzalez Duran controlled the Zetas’ operations in nine Mexican states.

The Nov. 7 arrest of Gonzalez Duran was a major victory for the Mexican government and will undoubtedly be a major blow to the Zetas. Taking Gonzalez Duran off the streets, however, is not the only aspect of these operations with greater implications. The day before Gonzalez Duran’s arrest, Mexican officials searching for him raided a safe house, where they discovered an arms cache that would turn out to be the largest weapons seizure in Mexican history. This is no small feat, as there have been several large hauls of weapons seized from the Zetas and other Mexican cartel groups in recent years.

The weapons seized at the Gonzalez Duran safe house included more than 500 firearms, a half-million rounds of ammunition and 150 grenades. The cache also included a LAW rocket, two grenade launchers and a small amount of explosives. Along with the scores of assorted assault rifles, grenades and a handful of gaudy gold-plated pistols were some weapons that require a bit more examination: namely, the 14 Fabrique Nationale (FN) P90 personal defense weapons and the seven Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifles contained in the seizure.

Matapolicias
As previously noted, the FN Five-Seven pistol and FN P90 personal defense weapon are very popular with the various cartel enforcer groups operating in Mexico. The Five-Seven and the P90 shoot a 5.7 mm-by-28 mm round that has been shown to be effective in penetrating body armor as well as vehicle doors and windows. Because of this ability to punch through body armor, cartel enforcers call the weapons “matapolicias,” Spanish for “cop killers.” Of course, AK-47 and M-16-style assault rifles are also effective at penetrating body armor and vehicles, as are large-caliber hunting rifles such as the 30.06 and the .308. But the advantage of the Five-Seven and the P90 is that they provide this penetration capability in a much smaller — and thus far more concealable — package.

The P90 is a personal defense weapon designed to be carried by tank crew members or combat support personnel who require a compact weapon capable of penetrating body armor. It is considered impractical for such soldiers to be issued full-size infantry rifles or even assault rifles, so traditionally these troops were issued pistols and submachine guns. The proliferation of body armor on the modern battlefield, however, has rendered many pistols and submachine guns that fire pistol ammunition ineffective. Because of this, support troops needed a small weapon that could protect them from armored troops; the P90 fits this bill.

In fact, the P90 lends itself to anyone who needs powerful, concealable weapons. Protective security details, some police officers and some special operations forces operators thus have begun using the P90 and other personal defense weapons. The P90’s power and ability to be concealed also make it an ideal weapon for cartel enforcers intent on conducting assassinations in an urban environment — especially those stalking targets wearing body armor.

The Five-Seven, which is even smaller than the P90, fires the same fast, penetrating cartridge. Indeed, cartel hit men have killed several Mexican police officers with these weapons in recent months. However, guns that fire the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge are certainly not the only type of weapons used in attacks against police — Mexican cops have been killed by many other types of weapons.

Reach Out and Touch Someone
While the P90 and Five-Seven are small and light, and use a small, fast round to penetrate armor, the .50-caliber cartridge fired by a Barrett sniper rifle is the polar opposite: It fires a huge chunk of lead. By way of comparison, the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge is just a little more than 1.5 inches long and has a 32-grain bullet. The .50-caliber Browning Machine Gun (BMG) cartridge is actually 12.7 mm by 99 mm, measures nearly 5.5 inches long and fires a 661-grain bullet. The P90 has a maximum effective range of 150 meters (about 165 yards), whereas a Barrett’s listed maximum effective range is 1,850 meters (about 2,020 yards) — and there are reports of coalition forces snipers in Afghanistan scoring kills at more than 2,000 meters (about 2,190 yards).

The .50-BMG round not only will punch through body armor and normal passenger vehicles, it can defeat the steel plate armor and the laminated ballistic glass and polycarbonate windows used in lightly armored vehicles. This is yet another reminder that there is no such thing as a bulletproof car. The round is also capable of penetrating many brick and concrete block walls.

We have heard reports for years of cartels seeking .50-caliber sniper rifles made by Barrett and other U.S. manufacturers. Additionally, we have noted many reports of seizures from arms smugglers in the United States of these weapons bound for Mexico, or of the weapons being found in Mexican cartel safe houses — such as the seven rifles seized in Reynosa. Unlike the P90s, however, we cannot recall even one instance of these powerful weapons being used in an attack against another cartel or against a Mexican government target. This is in marked contrast to Ireland, where the Irish Republican Army used .50-caliber Barrett rifles obtained from the United States in many sniper attacks against British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

That Mexican cartels have not used these devastating weapons is surprising. There are in fact very few weapons in the arsenals of cartel enforcers that we have not seen used, including hand grenades, 40 mm grenades, LAW rockets and rocket-propelled grenades. Even though most intercartel warfare has occurred inside densely populated Mexican cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo — places where it would be very difficult to find a place to take a shot longer than a few hundred meters, much less a couple thousand — the power of the Barrett could be very effective for taking out targets wearing body armor, riding in armored vehicles, located inside the safe house of a rival cartel or even inside a government building. Also, unlike improvised explosive devices, which the cartels have avoided using for the most part, the use of .50-caliber rifles would not involve a high probability of collateral damage.

This indicates that the reason the cartels have not used these weapons is to be found in the nature of snipers and sniping.

Snipers
Most military and police snipers are highly trained and very self-disciplined. Being a sniper requires an incredible amount of practice, patience and preparation. Aside from rigorous training in marksmanship, the sniper must also be trained in camouflage, concealment and movement. Snipers are often forced to lie immobile for hours on end. Additional training is required for snipers operating in urban environments, which offer their own set of challenges to the sniper; though historically, as seen in battles like Stalingrad, urban snipers can be incredibly effective.

Snipers commonly deploy as part of a team of two, comprising a shooter and a spotter. This means two very self-disciplined individuals must be located and trained. The team must practice together and learn how to accurately estimate distances, wind speed, terrain elevation and other variables that can affect a bullet’s trajectory. An incredible amount of attention to detail is required for a sniper team to get into position and for their shots to travel several hundred meters and accurately, consistently strike a small target.

In spite of media hype and popular fiction, criminals or terrorists commit very few true sniper attacks. For example, many of our sniper friends were very upset that the media chose to label the string of murders committed by John Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo as the “D.C. Sniper Case.” While Mohammed and Malvo did use concealment, they commonly shot at targets between 50 and 100 meters (about 55 yards to 110 yards) away. Therefore, calling Mohammed and Malvo snipers was a serious insult to the genuine article. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the killing of Dr. Bernard Slepian, also have been dubbed sniper attacks, but they actually were all shootings committed at distances of less than 100 meters.

Of course, using a Barrett at short ranges (100 meters or less) is still incredibly effective and does not require a highly trained sniper — as a group of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents found out in 1993 when they attempted to serve search and arrest warrants at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The agents were met with .50-caliber sniper fire that ripped gaping holes through the Chevrolet Suburbans they sought cover behind. Many of the agents wounded in that incident were hit by the shrapnel created as the .50-caliber rounds punched through their vehicles.

While it is extremely powerful, the Barrett is however a long, heavy weapon. If the sniper lacks training in urban warfare, it might prove very difficult to move around with the gun and also to find a concealed place to employ it. This may partially explain why the Mexican cartels have not used the weapons more.

Moreover, while the Zetas originally comprised deserters from the Mexican military and over the years have shown an ability to conduct assaults and ambushes, we have not traditionally seen them deploy as snipers. Today, most of the original Zetas are now in upper management, and no longer serve as foot soldiers.

The newer men brought into the Zetas include some former military and police officers along with some young gangster types; most of them lack the level of training possessed by the original Zetas. While the Zetas have also brought on a number of former Kaibiles, Guatemalan special operations forces personnel, most of them appear to be assigned as bodyguards for senior Zetas. This may mean we are not seeing the cartels employ snipers because their rank-and-file enforcers do not possess the discipline or training to function as snipers.

Potential Problems
Of course, criminal syndicates in possession of these weapons still pose a large potential threat to U.S. law enforcement officers, especially when the weapons are in the hands of people like Gonzalez Duran and his henchmen. According to an FBI intelligence memo dated Oct. 17 and leaked to the media, Gonzalez Duran appeared to have gotten wind of the planned operation against him. He reportedly had authorized those under his command to defend their turf at any cost, to include engagements with U.S. law enforcement agents. It is important to remember that a chunk of that turf was adjacent to the U.S. border and American towns, and that Reynosa — where Gonzalez Duran was arrested and the weapons were seized — is just across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Armed with small, powerful weapons like the P90, cartel gunmen can pose a tremendous threat to any law enforcement officer who encounters them in a traffic stop or drug raid. Over the past several years, we have noted several instances of U.S. Border Patrol agents and other U.S. law enforcement officers being shot at from Mexico. The thought of being targeted by a weapon with the range and power of a .50-caliber sniper rifle would almost certainly send chills up the spine of any Border Patrol agent or sheriff’s deputy working along the border.

Armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and .50-caliber sniper rifles, cartel enforcers have the potential to wreak havoc and outgun U.S. law enforcement officers. The only saving grace for U.S. law enforcement is that many cartel enforcers are often impaired by drugs or alcohol and tend to be impetuous and reckless. While the cartel gunmen are better trained than most Mexican authorities, their training does not stack up to that of most U.S. law enforcement officers. This was illustrated by an incident on Nov. 6 in Austin, Texas, when a police officer used his service pistol to kill a cartel gunman who fired on the officer with an AK-47.

While the arrest of Gonzalez Duran and the seizure of the huge arms cache in Reynosa have taken some killers and weapons off the street, they are only one small drop in the bucket. There are many heavily armed cartel enforcers still at large in Mexico, and the violence is spreading over the border into the United States. Law enforcement officers in the United States therefore need to maintain a keen awareness of the threat.

Tell Stratfor What You Think

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23227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 12, 2008, 11:59:55 PM
Is that even possible?
23228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 12, 2008, 11:58:47 PM
Thank you Doug-- both for your answer and for posting here on this thread where the subject matter properly belongs. 

FWIW I just posted a brief answer on the thread in question.  If there are to be any rejoinders to it, please let them be here.
23229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 12, 2008, 11:54:28 PM
Well articulated Doug.

I would add that my idea of any patriotic American would find such a man (and his wife) utterly reprehensible and be unwilling to be involved with him.
23230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 11:53:11 PM
OK, that give me a sense of where you are at on this subject.

Briefly (and this is a huge subject!) deflating a currency has several consequences.  Off the top of my head here are some of them in no particular order:

1) Amongst the most important is the misallocation of investment capital.  This is a matter of HUGE importance-- for example too many homes get built.  This leads to a bubble, which when it bursts creates calamity and tragedy-- (and the free market gets blamed angry tongue )

2) Savers get screwed.  For example, they save what should be enough for old age, then the government comes along and decimates the values of their savings leaving them with a much harder old age-- this then makes them more dependent upon the government;

3) With negative interest rates (inflation + taxes being greater than the interest rate) people are penalized for saving.  This leads to one or both of two behaviors: First-- less saving and Second-- riskier investments as savers/investors seek to outrun the dimunition of their savings through inflation and taxes.  We see both of these behaviors in abundance on the American landscape.

4) A devaluing currency.  Because of the unique role of the dollar in the world economy (i.e. we are the main currency of international transactions) this has profound consequences for the world economy.  What happens is that when the dollar depreciates, other countries often feel that this then creates a price advantage for our products on the international market.  So other countries print more money too so as to maintain stable exchange rates.  This was a major variable in the creation and the maintainence of the Great Depression.  These were known as "beggar thy neighbor" devaluations i.e. by devlaing my currency, my country's products become cheaper and my people make the sales and your people do not.  The net result is that everyone tries to devalue which means simply that too much money is created and a world-wide inflation is unleashed.  We just saw this in the commodity bubbles (including oil) and the housing bubbles world-wide.  When the bubble bursts (and it always will) the consequences are terrible--e.g. the current meltdown and often lead those who created the problem blaming the market and panicing people into giving them power to control and manipulate the market even more!!! 

Does this help?
Marc
23231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 05:08:08 PM
Are you serious?
23232  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What would you like to see from DBMA? on: November 12, 2008, 04:41:51 PM
Yes, and moral and spiritual too.
23233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: November 12, 2008, 11:51:28 AM
Can Newt Save the GOP?

Both the Democratic and Republican National Committees are likely to have new leadership next year.

Former Democratic Governor Howard Dean of Vermont is stepping down, having completely recovered from his unfortunate reputation as an erratic and wildly liberal 2004 presidential contender. As chairman of the DNC, he adopted a controversial "50-state strategy" that had the party pouring resources into states it normally didn't contest. His strategy paid off this year as Barack Obama won such states as Indiana and Virginia that had not voted Democratic at the presidential level since Barry Goldwater's landslide loss in 1964.

Unknown yet is whom Mr. Dean's replacement will be, but it's certainly going to be someone President-elect Obama will have confidence in -- campaign manager David Plouffe comes to mind.

On the Republican side, the jockeying to replace current GOP Chairman Mike Duncan has begun. Mr. Duncan has been a competent administrator and fundraiser but the widely perceived need for new blood in the wake of the party's second consecutive drubbing at the polls makes him unlikely to be re-elected.

Several candidates are lining up to replace him. Michigan GOP State Chairman Saul Anuzis is actively campaigning on a platform of reinvigorating the party's grass roots and returning to basic conservative principles. South Carolina Party Chairman Kalton Dawson is touting his fundraising abilities as he rounds up votes among fellow RNC members.

But several insiders believe the next RNC chairman must have some star power and an ability to get on national talk shows at a time when the new Obama administration will dominate media coverage. Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, now chairman of the GOPAC conservative training academy, is allowing friends to make calls on his behalf. Mr. Steele is already a fixture on cable TV news shows and well known in Washington D.C. conservative circles.

But some Republicans are touting someone with an even bigger media profile -- former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. "The Republican National Committee has to ask itself if it wants someone who has successfully led a revolution," Randy Evans, Mr. Gingrich's personal attorney, told the Washington Times this week. "If it does, Newt's the one."

While it sounds implausible, many Republicans think a return of Mr. Gingrich to the national stage would be the jolt of energy the party needs. They point out that many were also skeptical that Howard Dean could sublimate his ego enough to become a successful party leader -- a worry clearly now proven wrong in Mr. Dean's case.

-- John Fund

Belushi and Ackroyd, They're Not

C-SPAN unearthed a remarkable video from its archives this week. Back in 2005, freshly minted U.S. Senator Barack Obama was part of a celebrity roast for his Chicago pal Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who is now about to become his White House chief of staff. The event, a charity benefit for an epilepsy foundation run by the wife of Obama strategist David Axelrod, provides an eerie preview of the new top players in Washington.

During his turn at the microphone, Mr. Obama took a risk and joked about an accident the teenage Emanuel suffered that caused him to lose part of his middle finger. "As a result, this rendered him practically mute," Mr. Obama joked about the famously profane Mr. Emanuel.

Mr. Obama also had fun with the fact that the young Rahm practiced ballet, quipping that his friend was "the very first to develop Machiavelli's 'The Prince' for dance. It was an intriguing piece -- a lot of kicks below the waist."

No dinner honoring a Chicago pol would have been complete without a few pokes at the city's rich tradition of political corruption. Mr. Obama obliged, noting that he was in awe of the fact that Mr. Emanuel had avoided appearing before a criminal grand jury. He chalked it up to the fact that Mr. Emanuel shared the same lawyer as Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak, who was then in hot water over the Valerie Plame affair.

All in good fun, but here's hoping that notwithstanding the jokes about Chicago, not too many of its cultural mores and patronage politics seep into the DNA of the Obama administration.

-- John Fund

Read Their Lips

It wasn't all bad news for conservatives on November 4th. Voters across the country decided the fate of scores of ballot initiatives dealing with taxes and government spending. With our friends at the National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Tax Reform, we've compiled some of the most important results. For the most part, voters aren't in a full-fledged tax revolt but they're a lot less enthusiastic about new taxes than President-elect Obama seems to be.

First, the defeats. Two of the most prominent anti-tax initiatives, one in Massachusetts to abolish the income tax and another in North Dakota to cut income taxes by 15%, failed by two-to-one margins. In a previous election, an initiative to abolish the Massachusetts income tax had come within four percentage points of winning. What changed? Carla Howell, who led the effort to repeal the tax, was quoted in the Boston Globe: "The teachers unions spent 100 times more on advertising than we did. The message to voters: advertising works."

Minnesotans were among the few voters in the country who said "yes" to new taxes. An initiative to raise the sales tax by 3/8ths of a percentage point pay for the arts was approved.

But otherwise, the left's crusade to raise revenues for new spending programs was mostly beaten back and in some cases trounced. Arizonans voted to ban transfer taxes on property sales by 77% to 23%. Maine voters repealed an alcohol and soda pop tax by 64% to 36%. Coloradoans rejected a teensy 0.2 percentage point sales tax hike to benefit the disabled by 63% to 37%. Floridians defeated a measure that would have allowed localities to propose new sales taxes to benefit community colleges by 57% to 43%. The left's latest crusade to impose "fat taxes" on McDonalds and other fast food purchases was clobbered in localities in North Carolina and Virginia, even as these voters helped elect Barack Obama. Finally, one of the biggest successes for anti-tax activists was defeating an amendment to gut the spending limits in Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, despite huge money spent by the spending constituencies.

Though California was home to one of the nation's seminal tax revolts -- 1978's Proposition 13 -- the latest results in the Golden State were mixed. Voters inexplicably approved a high-speed rail bond of $10 billion, with at least another $30 billion of spending required to complete the project. This is a state that's already hopelessly mired in debt.

On the other hand, renewable energy may be a liberal and environmentalist panacea, but even Californians apparently aren't too eager to pay for it. Voters rejected $5 billion in renewable energy program bonds by 60% to 40% and thrashed a measure requiring all utilities to generate at least one-fifth of their power from renewable energy by 2010 (it lost by 65% to 35%). Colorado voters also crushed Governor Bill Ritter's tax on "big oil."

"We had some big victories last Tuesday," says National Taxpayer Union spokesman Pete Sepp. "We blocked a lot of bad things from happening." That's what Republicans in Congress will have to learn to do over the next four years.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day I

"Sarah Palin made a vast difference in John McCain's favor. Compared to 2004, McCain lost 11 points among white men according to the Fox News exit poll but only 4 points among white women. Barack Obama's underperformance among white women, evident throughout the fall, may be chalked up, in large part, to the influence of Palin. She provided a rallying point for women who saw their political agenda in terms larger than abortion. She addressed the question of what it is like to be a working mother in today's economy and society, and resonated with tens of millions of white women who have not responded to the more traditional, and liberal, advocates for their gender" -- political analyst Dick Morris in his syndicated column.

Quote of the Day II

"Now it's starting to get creepy. In an odd way, the selection of Rahm Emanuel as Barack Obama's chief of staff fulfills yet another plot line that unfolded during the final season of NBC's 'West Wing,' which must have been written by Nostradamus. As aficionados of the long-running show will know, Emanuel is widely cited as inspiration for the character of Josh Lyman, who becomes the chief of staff to the new president, Matthew Santos. And the real conspiracy theorists know why that's important: The Santos character is modeled after Obama. (The writers spoke repeatedly with David Axelrod while composing their prophetic plot lines.) This isn't the first parallel to emerge from the show. . . . At this rate, John McCain will be named as Obama's secretary of state. After all, that's how the season ends, with Santos picking his former rival in the ultimate gesture of bipartisanship" -- Lucas Grindley, writing at Government Executive magazine's "Lost in Transition" blog.

Voters vs. Tort Sharks

One heartening aspect of last week's election was a surge of voters taking a new -- and inspired -- interest in elections for state attorneys general. The public clearly has become wary of top law officers with ties to the tort bar who campaign to increase litigation and target the business community.

In West Virginia, a little known GOP lawyer Dan Greear came within a few thousand votes of knocking off state AG and institution Darrell McGraw, who now begins his 16th year in the job. Mr. Greear was supposed to be a write-off -- he was outmatched in funding, name recognition, and up against a powerful, populist AG who has long used his position to dole out political patronage (culled from legal settlements) to favored constituencies. Mr. Greear nonetheless managed to surprise the political establishment by nearly pulling off an upset. In the process, he educated a lot of voters about what their state's reputation as a legal hellhole was costing its economy. He also inspired a cowed West Virginia business community to take a stand against Mr. McGraw's pro-litigation agenda.

Mr. Greear may have lost, but his efforts will likely have a lasting impact. Call it the Eliot Spitzer effect: Mr. McGraw is now on notice that a lot more voters have been clued in to the game he's been playing and don't approve.

Meanwhile, sitting GOP attorneys general in Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington State handily fought off challenges from Democratic opponents who had campaigned in favor of bigger, nastier litigation. In Indiana, Greg Zoeller, chief deputy for the current attorney general, won the top slot in part by noting that his office never had been close to trial lawyers. His Democratic opponent, Linda Pence, was a trial attorney. In North Carolina, a pro-business Democrat, Roy Cooper (who as attorney general threw out the Duke rape case) was reelected in his race against a Republican personal injury lawyer.

Sadly, Missouri and Oregon both elected particularly anti-business Democrats to the AG's office -- for which they may eventually pay a price in lost jobs and investment. In the middle of hard economic times, voters elsewhere have figured out that they make their states more competitive by electing an attorney general committed to the rule of law, rather than to shaking down business for the benefit of special interest groups.
23234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: November 12, 2008, 11:27:51 AM
FWIW I'd have put BBG's post in one of the Islam in Action threads.

Anyway, changing the subject completely  smiley

“Coming out” puts adolescents at risk
Encouraging adolescents with same-sex attractions to identify as gay has no scientific or ethical justification.
How should schools treat students who self-identify as homosexual? Today entire school systems in a number of states and counties promote “acceptance”. The demand for acceptance is based on the premise that patterns of sexual attraction – to the other sex or to same sex are determined at birth and unchangeable; therefore, everyone – the affected students themselves, their parents, teachers, and classmates – should be educated and when necessary pressured into accepting same-sex attraction (SSA) as normal and as healthy as the love between a man and a woman in marriage.

There is, however, no evidence to support the claim that SSA is genetically determined and unchangeable. If it were, one would expect that identical twins would always have the same pattern of sexual attraction. A study led by J. Michael Bailey based on the twins registry in Australia found that among male identical twins, when one twin had SSA, in only 11 per cent of the cases so did the other. This research virtually precludes genetic determination.

There is also no evidence to support the claim that SSA is unchangeable. There are numerous reports of people understanding the emotional conflicts that led them to SSA, successfully addressing these weaknesses and then experiencing a new pattern of sexual attraction. A large study of sexuality led by Edward Lauman found the percentage of people self-identifying as homosexual declining over time. Lisa Diamond found that patterns of sexual attraction are particularly unstable among women.

Those who support acceptance might argue that even if SSA is not genetically determined and changeable it would still be better for those experiencing these feelings to “come out” and be accepted as homosexual by the school community. This view ignores the very real risks that accompany coming out, particularly for males.

Vulnerable boys

Over 40 per cent of males who self-identify as homosexual (“gay”) before age 18 have been victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault. (Doll et al, 1992) An even higher percentage has suffered from untreated Gender Identity Disorder. (Zucker, Bradley, 1995) A study of the sexual behavior of 239 homosexually active males, 13 to 21, found that 42 per cent had a history of sexual abuse/assault. (Remafedi, 1994; Osmond, 1994) A study of 425 homosexual males, ages 17 to 22, found that 41.4 per cent reported an occasion of forced sex. (Halkitis, Wilton, Drescher, eds. 2005; Wainberg 2006) Forced sex rarely involves “safe” sex practices. (Kalichman, Rompa 1995)

Sexual child abuse and sexual assault have been linked to long-term psychological problems, including depression, sexual addiction, drug addiction, involvement in prostitution, and suicidal feelings. Some of these young men see their victimization as proof that they were “born” homosexual. Programs directed to acceptance rarely acknowledge or address these problems. When these serious emotional conflicts are not uncovered and treated, these males often act out in ways that are dangerous to themselves and to others. It is important to address this highly prevalent problem in young males with SSA.

At high risk of infection

Even if an adolescent male with SSA was not the victim of sexual abuse and did not experience untreated gender identity disorder GID, engaging in homosexual activity as an adolescent carries a high and truly unacceptable risk.

New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control reveal that the epidemic among young men who have sex with men (MSM) is raging unabated. In August 2008, it was revealed that the CDC had underestimated the number of new cases of HIV by 40 per cent. The report found that while new infections among heterosexuals and injection drug users are falling, new infections continue to increase in younger MSM. In 2006, the number of MSM aged 13-24 diagnosed with HIV/AIDS increased by 18 per cent over the previous year.

A study of sexual risk behaviors of young MSM aged 17-22 found that 22 per cent reported beginning anal sex with men when they were ages 3 to 14; of these 15.2 per cent were already HIV positive. Of those who began sex when they were 15-19, 11.6 per cent were HIV positive, while of those who began sex with men when they were 20-22, only 3.8 per cent were HIV positive. (Lemp, 1994) It is clear that every year a male with SSA delays sexual involvement reduces his risk of HIV.

Vulnerable young men may use the internet to seek out sexual partners. Out magazine, a publication targeted to MSM, ran an article by Michael Gross (2008) on how MSM are using the internet, posting pornographic pictures of themselves, and becoming addicted to the process of cruising on the web. Gross worries about the “health risks” and “psychological dissociation that’s characteristic of online social life.” Men may be looking for love but, Gross suggests, “You might as well train for a marathon by doing sprints in a minefield.”

Once a young man has exposed himself on the internet, whatever he has put up becomes part of the public record forever. The 15-year-old boy who realizes at 20 that his SSA was just a phase of his life related to weaknesses in male confidence will have those pictures follow him for the rest of his life.

HIV/AIDS is not the only disease affecting MSM. The number of sexually transmitted infections (STI) transmitted by homosexual activity is staggering. They include syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis B and C, lymphogranuloma vernereum and human papillomavirus (HPV), which has been linked to genital warts and a number of cancers. (Carter, 2007) HPV is transmitted by skin contact and therefore condoms provide only minimal protection. The much-touted new HPV vaccine protects against only four of the 100 varieties of this disease.

In some areas the increase in syphilis infections has been traced to an increased use of crystal meth and “high risk sexual behavior at resorts or bath houses, or through meetings initiated over the Internet.” (Brian, 2004; Klausner, 2000)

Not only are MSM at high risk for infection with HIV and many other STIs, the problem compounds itself in that infection with another STI makes a man more vulnerable to HIV and an HIV-positive man is more likely to contract another STI. According to a recent study, “HIV positive men who have sex with men are up to 90 times more likely than the general population to develop anal cancer.” (Cranston, Ross, 2007)

Recently, doctors in San Francisco traced outbreaks in San Francisco and Boston of multidrug-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MSRA), the flesh-eating bacteria, to homosexual activity.  It is also possible that a new, yet unidentified disease will find its way into this community. In 1980 before the first case of AIDS was identified, Dr. Selma Dritz, an expert on STI’s, looked at the behaviors of MSM and warned, “There are so many opportunities for transmission that, if something new gets loose here, we’re going to have hell to pay.” (Shilts, Randy, And the Band Played On). Her warning came too late; by 1980 the HIV virus was already spreading among MSM. Tragically, in spite of massive education the high-risk behaviors continue.

As treatment for AIDS has improved and life expectancy has increased, young MSM no longer fear HIV as they should. Many of those who start out planning to use condoms, fail to do so because they are drunk or are high on drugs or don’t want to send a message that they don’t trust their partner. If this is a pattern among adult MSM, it is not surprising that adolescent males who have sex with males ignore warnings.

Does education prevent infection?

A large study on the association of health risk behaviors and sexual orientation among adolescents concluded: “GLB youth who self-identify during high school report disproportionate risk for a variety of health risk and problem behaviors, including suicide, victimization, sexual risk behaviors, and multiple substance abuse use. In addition, these youth are more likely to report engaging in multiple risk behaviors and initiating risk behaviors at an earlier age than their peers.” (Garofalo, 1998)

Homosexual activists forced to explain why persons with SSA are at “elevated” risk for addictions, partner abuse, rampant promiscuity, anxiety, depression and suicidality usually blame the increased problems on the stress of living in a rejecting, “hateful and heterosexist” culture. (Cochran, Mays 2007) They then use these problems to justify pro-homosexual education in schools. However, if this view were true then one would expect to see lower levels of severe psychiatric illnesses in more accepting cultures such as the Netherlands, but this is not the case. (Sandfort, 2006)

The hope that identifying boys with SSA and providing them with HIV prevention education will reduce the risk of STI infections is not supported by the research. According to a review of studies of HIV prevention programs, “the efficacy of health education interventions in reducing sexual risk for HIV infection has not been consistently demonstrated…More education, over long periods of time, cannot be assumed to be effective in inducing behavior changes among chronically high risk males.” (Stall, Coates, Hoff, 1988)

Dr. Philip Alcabes, an epidemiologist, commenting on the latest CDC data to the New York Times said, “t looks like prevention campaigns make even less difference than anyone thought… HIV incidence did not decline as much from the 1980s to the 1990s as we believed despite the dramatic increase in condom promotion and so-called prevention education.”

He quoted an editorial in Lancet, a leading medical journal, that was even blunter: “U.S. efforts to prevent HIV have failed dismally.”

AIDS education, which provides children and adolescents with explicit information about the various forms of sexual behavior that spread the disease, may create curiosity and encourage experimentation among young men. Because AIDS education has also been used as a vehicle for promoting positive attitudes toward homosexuality, while at the same time ignoring the serious health risks associated with SSA, it is possible that the number of young men experimenting with homosexuality will increase.

As support groups in schools for males who think that they might be homosexual are being established, younger boys will be encouraged to "come out." This "coming out" will probably include engaging in sexual activity at an earlier age and more often. These young men may be attracted to the urban homosexual community, traveling to centers of homosexual activity where they are likely to encounter HIV-positive adults interested in engaging in sexual activity with attractive teenagers. This can lead to hustling (receiving money or compensation for sex) which is a high-risk activity.

A brochure, entitled Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel, was sent to school officials by a coalition of groups including the National Education Association. It claimed: “If school environments become more positive for lesbian, gay, and bisexual students, it is likely that their differences in health, mental health, and substance abuse will decrease.” This has not been born out by experience. Nothing could be more positive than the Harvey Milk school in Manhattan, which was set up to provide a safe environment for students with atypical sexual orientations and gender identities, yet in November of 2003, five male students were arrested. They had for some time been intimidating other students, working as prostitutes, blackmailing Johns, stealing from trendy stores, and involved with ecstasy and cocaine. (Cross, 2003)

Given the substantial, well-documented risks involved in engaging in homosexual activity as an adolescent and since a certain percentage of males who experience SSA in adolescence find that these feelings disappear in time, schools should not encourage adolescent males to “come out”, but, instead, offer positive support for addressing the serious emotional problems in these teenagers.

Girls

While adolescent females with SSA do not face the same risk for STIs as males, a significant number of these young women with SSA have been victims of sexual abuse or rape. (Bradford, 1994) SSA is even less stable among young women than among young men with some females finding themselves attracted to men and to women at different times in their lives. Many adolescent girls have crushes on female teachers or coaches. With time and growth in maturity these feelings resolve. Rather than assuming that every young female who ever experiences any SSA is permanently homosexual, schools should encourage young women to try to understand themselves and wait before identifying themselves as homosexual.

Finally, educators, like physicians and mental health professionals, have a serious responsibility to provide informed consent to their students and not advocate a lifestyle which has serious medical and psychiatric illnesses associated with it without warning students about such risks.

Dale O’Leary is a US writer with a special interest in psycho-sexual issues and is the author of two books: One Man, One Woman" and The Gender Agenda. She collaborated on this article with Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D., a psychiatrist and Director of Comprehensive Counselling Services in W. Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and Peter Kleponis, M.S., a psychotherapist also based in Philadelphia.

* A complete version of this paper with footnotes can be found in the Backgrounders section of this website: Same-sex attraction in adolescents

 
23235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kurds on: November 12, 2008, 11:20:53 AM
A friend recently arrived in Iraq (Baghdad) comments he saw more Burkhas in the DC area than he sees in Baghad.
=========
WSJ

Iraq's Kurds have consistently been America's closest allies in Iraq. Our Peshmerga forces fought alongside the U.S. military to liberate the country, suffering more casualties than any other U.S. ally.

And while some Iraqi politicians have challenged the U.S.-Iraq security agreement, Iraq's Kurdish leaders have endorsed the pact as essential for U.S. combat troops to continue fighting terrorists in Iraq.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is committed to a federal, democratic Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors.

We have benefited enormously from the service and sacrifices of America's armed forces and their families, and we are deeply grateful. We are also proud to have shared in such sacrifices; my brother was among those severely wounded during the liberation of Iraq.

Last year, following a U.S. request, we deployed Kurdish troops to Baghdad. These troops played a decisive role in the success of the surge. Last month I once again visited Baghdad to meet with the leadership of the federal government. We stressed our commitment to developing an Iraqi state that abides by its constitution and that is based upon a federal model with clearly delineated powers for its regions.

In spite of all this, some commentators now suggest that the Kurds are causing problems by insisting on territorial demands and proceeding with the development of Kurdistan's oil resources. These allegations are troubling. We are proceeding entirely in accord with the Iraqi constitution, implementing provisions that were brokered by the U.S.

In the constitutional negotiations that took place in the summer of 2005, two issues were critical to us: first, that the Kurdistan Region has the right to develop the oil on its territory, and second, that there be a fair process to determine the administrative borders of Iraq's Kurdistan Region -- thus resolving once and for all the issue of "disputed" territories.

Unfortunately, ever since the discovery of oil in Iraq in the 1920s, successive Iraqi governments have sought to keep oil out of Kurdish hands, blocking exploration and development of fields in Kurdistan. Saddam Hussein's government went even further, using Iraqi oil revenues to finance the military campaigns that destroyed more than 4,500 Kurdish villages and to pay for the poison gas used to kill thousands of Kurdish civilians.

The Kurdish leadership agreed to a U.S.-sponsored compromise in 2005 in which the central government would have the authority to manage existing oil fields, but new fields would fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the regions. Since then, the KRG has taken the lead with Baghdad in negotiations on a hydrocarbon law that is faithful to Iraq's constitution and is conducive to modernizing Iraq's oil infrastructure and substantially increasing its oil production.

We have awarded contracts for foreign oil companies (including some American ones) to explore our territory. In so doing, Kurdistan is not threatening the unity of Iraq. It is simply implementing the constitution.

The "disputed territories" have a tragic history. Since the 1950s, Iraqi regimes encouraged Arabs to settle in Kirkuk and other predominantly Kurdish and Turkmen areas. Saddam Hussein accelerated this process by engaging in ethnic cleansing, expelling or killing Kurds and Turkmen, or by requiring nationality corrections (in which non-Arabs are forced to declare themselves to be Arabs) and by moving Arabs into Kurdish homes.

The dispute between Baghdad and the Kurds over Kirkuk has lasted more than 80 years and has often been violent. All sides have now agreed to a formula to resolve the problem, to bring justice to Kirkuk, and to correct the crimes against Kurds committed by Saddam Hussein's regime. Iraq's constitution requires that a referendum be held in disputed territories to determine if their populations want to join the Kurdistan Region. Conducting a plebiscite is not easy, but it is preferable to another 80 years of conflict.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Obama's Lame Duck OpportunityMischief in Minnesota?Same Old Berlin Wall

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Business World: Obama's Car Puzzle
– Holman W. JenkinsThe Tilting Yard: Goodbye to All That
– Thomas Frank

COMMENTARY

Is Now the Time to Buy Stocks?
– John H. CochraneKurdistan Is a Model for Iraq
– Masoud BarzaniThis Election Has Not 'Realigned' the Country
– Jennifer MarsicoIf the pro-Kurdistan side should lose the referendum in Kirkuk, I promise that Kurdistan will respect that result. And if they win, I promise that we will do everything in our power to ensure outsized representation of Kirkuk's Turkmen, Arabs and Christians both on the local level and in the parliament and government of the Kurdistan Region.

Regional stability cannot come from resolving internal disputes alone. That is why expanding and deepening our ties with Turkey is my top priority.

My meeting last month in Baghdad with the Turkish special envoy to Iraq was a historic and positive development. There should be further direct contacts between the KRG and Turkey, as well as multilateral contacts that involve the U.S. We are eager to work with Turkey to seek increased peace and prosperity in the region.

I am proud that the Kurdistan Region is both a model and gateway for the rest of Iraq. Our difficult path to a secular, federal democracy is very much inspired by the U.S. And so we look forward to working with the Obama-Biden administration to support and defend our hard-fought successes in Iraq, and to remain proud of what the Kurdistan region is today: a thriving civil society in the heart of the Middle East. When we insist on strict compliance with our country's constitution, we are only following America's great example.

Mr. Barzani is the president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
23236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Al Franken stealing election? on: November 12, 2008, 11:17:56 AM
Second post:

WSJ

You'd think Democrats would be content with last week's electoral rout. But judging from the odd doings in Minnesota, some in their party wouldn't mind adding to their jackpot by stealing a Senate seat for left-wing joker Al Franken.

 
AP
Al Franken.
When Minnesotans woke up last Wednesday, Republican Senator Norm Coleman led Mr. Franken by 725 votes. By that evening, he was ahead by only 477. As of yesterday, Mr. Coleman's margin stood at 206. This lopsided bleeding of Republican votes is passing strange considering that the official recount hasn't even begun.

The vanishing Coleman vote came during a week in which election officials are obliged to double-check their initial results. Minnesota is required to do these audits, and it isn't unusual for officials to report that they transposed a number here or there. In a normal audit, these mistakes could be expected to cut both ways. Instead, nearly every "fix" has gone for Mr. Franken, in some cases under strange circumstances.

For example, there was Friday night's announcement by Minneapolis's director of elections that she'd forgotten to count 32 absentee ballots in her car. The Coleman campaign scrambled to get a county judge to halt the counting of these absentees, since it was impossible to prove their integrity 72 hours after the polls closed. The judge refused on grounds that she lacked jurisdiction.

Up in Two Harbors, another liberal outpost, Mr. Franken picked up an additional 246 votes. In Partridge Township, he racked up another 100. Election officials in both places claim they initially miscommunicated the numbers. Odd, because in the Two Harbors precinct, none of the other contests recorded any changes in their vote totals.

According to conservative statistician John Lott, Mr. Franken's gains so far are 2.5 times the corrections made for Barack Obama in the state, and nearly three times the gains for Democrats across Minnesota Congressional races. Mr. Lott notes that Mr. Franken's "new" votes equal more than all the changes for all the precincts in the entire state for the Presidential, Congressional and statehouse races combined (482 votes).

This entire process is being overseen by Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who isn't exactly a nonpartisan observer. One of Mr. Ritchie's financial supporters during his 2006 run for office was a 527 group called the Secretary of State Project, which was co-founded by James Rucker, who came from MoveOn.org. The group says it is devoted to putting Democrats in jobs where they can "protect elections."

Mr. Ritchie is also an ally of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or Acorn, of fraudulent voter-registration fame. That relationship might explain why prior to the election Mr. Ritchie waved off evidence of thousands of irregularities on Minnesota voter rolls, claiming that accusations of fraud were nothing more than "desperateness" from Republicans.

In today's Opinion Journal
REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Obama's Lame Duck OpportunityMischief in Minnesota?Same Old Berlin Wall

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Business World: Obama's Car Puzzle
– Holman W. JenkinsThe Tilting Yard: Goodbye to All That
– Thomas Frank

COMMENTARY

Is Now the Time to Buy Stocks?
– John H. CochraneKurdistan Is a Model for Iraq
– Masoud BarzaniThis Election Has Not 'Realigned' the Country
– Jennifer MarsicoMr. Franken and fellow Democrats are already waging a full-scale public pressure campaign to help turn the recount their way. That includes a push to turn what should be a straightforward count of existing legal ballots into a complete do-over -- mau-mauing election officials into accepting tossed ballots. The Franken campaign recently showed up before the Hennepin County canvassing board, demanding that its liberal members count 461 previously rejected ballots. To the board's credit, they unanimously voted no.

The Franken campaign has also been wrapping itself around Barack Obama's popularity to increase its recount potential. Minnesota has a voter intent law, which means that election officials can take a second look at ambiguous ballots. Mr. Franken's people are already arguing that a vote for Mr. Obama certainly indicated a vote for Mr. Franken. This can't possibly be true, however, because nearly every campaign poll showed Mr. Franken lagging Mr. Obama by five to 15 percentage points -- and on Election Day he trailed by 12.2%. Mr. Franken ran a nasty, polarizing campaign, and in any case he was part of a three-man contest.

The Coleman team is demanding the tapes from the voting machines on election night, and that's the least Mr. Ritchie can do. The Secretary of State should also investigate miraculous discoveries like the "forgotten" 32 car ballots. He needs to show voters, the press and the Coleman team that he's running a transparent process that focuses on previously counted votes, rather than changing the rules after the election is over.

With their party only three Senate seats from the 60 needed to break a filibuster (and two still not decided), Democrats have a political incentive to cut corners to steal a seat if they can get away with it. Mr. Franken and his left-wing allies also know that if Mr. Franken couldn't win election in this fabulous Democratic year, then the not-so-funnyman never will. If Minnesota wants to retain its reputation as a state with clean elections, it needs to run an honest recount.

 

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
23237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Vote Fraud (ACORN et al) on: November 12, 2008, 11:05:18 AM
Although this is from the NYT, it seems a fair point:
=======================
That’s Two for Me
Published: November 11, 2008

We’ve all heard of close elections. But consider the strange (and outrageous) case of the 2006 City Council election in Anamosa, Iowa.

According to census figures, Anamosa’s Ward 2 has nearly 1,400 residents, about the same as the town’s other three wards. The problem is that 1,300 of the ward’s “residents” are inmates of the Anamosa State Penitentiary. Minus the prisoners, Ward 2 has only 58 actual residents. A councilman won his election to represent the ward with two write-in votes: one from his wife and one from a neighbor.

While Anamosa’s case is extreme, the phenomenon is not. It is called prison-based gerrymandering when politicians draw legislative districts around prisons and count inmates — who are denied the vote in all but two states — as residents.

At the state level, prison-based gerrymandering exaggerates the political power of the mainly rural districts where prisons are built. And it dilutes the power of the mainly urban districts where inmates come from and to which they nearly always return. But as the Anamosa case shows, this kind of gerrymandering is also a problem within cities and towns.

Anamosa’s voters were so outraged that they have passed a referendum that will require its City Council members to be elected at large beginning in 2009. And other states and localities are beginning to wake up to the problem. But a study by the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group, has found 21 counties across the nation where at least one in five people counted as residents were actually prison inmates.

The ideal solution would be for the United States Census Bureau to count prison inmates, not as residents of prisons, but at their actual home addresses. Until the bureau gets around to that, state and local lawmakers should make sure that prisoners are excluded from the population counts when legislative districts are drawn. The current arrangement undermines the most basic democratic principle of one person, one vote.

23238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 12, 2008, 10:54:15 AM
"Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth." --George Washington
23239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: November 12, 2008, 10:48:47 AM
I think one of the key variables is how the Fed has printed too much money and has kept interest rates too low ((ROI should be greater than inflation + taxes).  Too much money at too low a price has been sloshing around the global system.   Conservatives (and Republicans) need to understand this and communicate this.
23240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: November 12, 2008, 10:35:07 AM
"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn."

—George Washington, letter to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, September 5, 1789
23241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The First Amendment on: November 12, 2008, 09:29:38 AM
Schumer is an anus par excellence.

Looking at the bright side, if the Dems go for reimposing the FD, I think it is a really good issue for the Republicans , , , as long as we win on it.  Losing on the FD would be bad, very bad.
23242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Internet and related technology on: November 12, 2008, 12:13:21 AM
Rachel:

That was a fascinating read.  Thank you.

Marc
23243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: November 12, 2008, 12:04:53 AM
BBG:

There are not many people I regard as both bright enough and educated enough to appreciate the book "The Way the World Works" by Jude Wanniski.

In his later years JW was something of a crank and an anti-semite, but in his prime (editorial writer for the WSJ, author of TWTWW) he was something else.  This bold book assays to reduce political economics to a series of principles/laws much as physics seeks to explain the physical world.

Anyway, the chapter on the causes of the Great Depression is simply brilliant.  It overlaps quite a bit with the points in the piece that you post, but offers much more.

Highly recommended.
23244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 11, 2008, 11:59:49 PM
Woof BBG:

Nice post!

May I be a tad anal and ask you to post it on the Free Speech (or is it The First Amendment?) thread?

TIA,
Marc
23245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: November 11, 2008, 06:29:28 PM
Woof BBG:

See entry number 42:  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1709.0

@ all:

This matter of vote fraud (notice how I have modified the name of the ACORN thread to the more all encompassing "Vote Fraud" is a profoundly important one.  It is the nature of things at this moment that the friends of dishonesty will try to sweep this under the rug.  I am hoping that our merry little band of truthseekers here will keep our eye on the ball and continue to share intel here on this issue.

TAC,
Marc
23246  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: November 11, 2008, 06:17:57 PM
Just a quick yip before turning to some other matters:

I had someone ask about nationalities.  OF COURSE all nationalities are welcome.  Already on board on Lonely Dog (Switzerland) and Red Dog (Germany).
23247  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: November 11, 2008, 06:14:08 PM
Looking forward to class this Saturday.
23248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: November 11, 2008, 05:54:19 PM
Exactly so-- it is the nature of things and that is exactly what makes it worrisome when they so much more knowledge that was previously private about people.
23249  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / R.I.P. on: November 11, 2008, 10:18:07 AM


Joe Hyams, Best-selling Author and
Martial Arts Pioneer, Dies at Age 85

Joe Hyams (June 6, 1923 - Nov. 8, 2008)

Best selling author of Zen and the Martial Arts -and numerous other
books, Hollywood insider, and veteran martial arts enthusiast, Joe
Hyams passed away, of natural causes, on November 8, 2008.

During his long entertainment career, Joe Hyams was the Los Angeles
Bureau Chief and Hollywood columnist for the New York Herald
Tribune and also actor Humphrey Bogart's best friend.

Joe Hyams took up fencing lessons in the 1950's and through those
classes he met film music composer Bronislau Kaper. In 1958, Kaper
introduced him to Ed Parker, who was teaching Kenpo in the weight
room in Beverly Hills Health Club. Mr. Hyams became one of Ed
Parker's first private students and also one of Mr. Parker's first
black belts.

Joe Hyams was the first person to introduce Bruce Lee into the
Hollywood community. He helped Bruce Lee, with whom he trained
privately get a foothold in Hollywood during Bruce's struggling
years. Mr. Hyams trained with Bruce Lee for two years, and when
Bruce left for Hong Kong to pursue his film career, he suggested
that Joe learn from Jim Lau, who trained him in Wing Chun.

A thorough treatment of Mr. Hyams life and times is being prepared
by his protégé, martial arts writer and editor John Corcoran.

http://www.martialinfo.com/joe-hyams



23250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 11, 2008, 10:17:08 AM
IF BO backs off our missile defense in Poland he is going to have "pussy" tattooed on his forehead.
==============

Geopolitical Diary: Obama's Visit to the White House
November 10, 2008
U.S. President George W. Bush has invited President-elect Barack Obama to the White House. Such visits are normal protocol, and wives are part of the visit. Many times such visits come later in the transition, provide for a photo opportunity that assures the country that the transition is amicable and leave policy issues out of it. It will be interesting to see if this meeting has more substance, because there are certain issues that are not only pressing, but on which Obama and Bush might need to coordinate — even if they have different policies.

The first is obviously the G-20 meeting to be held in Washington on Nov. 15. Labeled as Bretton Woods II by some European leaders, the meeting is intended to discuss the future of the international financial system. Some Europeans want to create a robust international regulatory regime — or as might be put by cynics, a means whereby the Europeans have increased control over the American financial system. The first meeting will not be the last. A process is going to be put in place at this meeting. Bush’s inclination is to resist the more extreme European demands. It is not clear what Obama’s policy is. Obama will not be at the meeting, under the principle that the U.S. has only one president at a time — and to hold open his options. But his presence will be felt. These talks will set up the process under which Obama will negotiate. Bush and Obama might want to discuss this.

Second, there is Iran. Prior to the election, the administration was leaking the idea that Bush would establish low-level diplomatic relations with Iran after the election and before the winner — now known to be Obama — takes office. The theory was that such relations were essential and that Bush wanted to take the onus of establishing relations away from his successor, freeing him to deal directly with the Iranians. The Iranians formally congratulated Obama on his victory — the first such congratulations since the Iranian revolution. Obama, at his press conference, reacted coolly to the congratulations, reiterating demands that Iran stop nuclear development and not support terrorist groups. Obama is again keeping his options open. However, if the leaks from the administration genuinely signaled a desire by Bush to open diplomatic relations to free Obama to negotiate while Bush takes the heat, then Obama will have to let Bush know that he wants this — or at least go on record with Bush that he doesn’t.

Finally, there is the question of a coordinated stance on Russia. The Russians have just announced that they intend to deploy Iskander short-range ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad as a counter to a U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) installation slated for Polish soil. Obama’s advisers have also insisted that their camp has made no firm commitments on this installation either way, repudiating claims by Polish President Lech Kaczynski that the new American president-elect had assured him of firm support during a phone conversation on Nov. 8. On Nov. 7, news leaked that investigators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have discovered the obvious, which is that Georgian troops started the war with Russia by attacking South Ossetia first. The deployment of missiles, the caution on BMD deployment in Poland and support for the Russian version of what happened in Georgia all combine to create new issues and opportunities in U.S.-Russian relations. It remains Bush’s responsibility to deal with this, but clearly, knowing where Obama wants to go on this would be useful to the transition.

The Russia question can hold, but the other two issues are pressing. It would be extremely useful to the international markets to know what the American position at the G-20 is going to be and whether it will remain the same after Jan. 20, 2009. The markets have all the uncertainty they need and could use a joint position. The Iranian recognition issue is critical. We suspect that Bush is prepared to move on this but needs an indication that this is the direction Obama wants to go. It is pointless and possibly harmful to open diplomatic relations if Obama is heading in a different direction.

All transition periods have important questions, but normally there is little need for coordination. Things will wait and if policies change, they change. In the case of the G-20 and Iran, that is not quite the way it is. True, the world will not end if Bush zigs and Obama zags, but in these two matters it would be enormously helpful if a seamless position could be devised. Russia is somewhat less pressing, but Obama already seems to have taken a position, and therefore the issue is in play.

The question is whether Obama is ready to define even preliminary positions on either the G-20 or Iran. Election rhetoric is very different from policy formation, and no president-elect, a week after his election, is quite ready to implement policy. But the G-20 is days away, and the situation in Iran is fluid. It will be interesting to see if the Nov. 10 meeting between Bush and Obama is tea and a tour, or a serious working session. Obviously, aides can work out a detailed coordination, but the principals have to seal the deal. We will find out on Monday what kind of transition we have, and what might happen in the interim.
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