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23201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PatriotPost on: January 30, 2009, 12:12:06 PM
New & notable legislation
"All U.S. taxpayers would enjoy the same immunity from IRS penalties and interest as Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner under a bill introduced Wednesday by Republican Rep. John Carter of Texas," reports CNSNews.com. "If we don't hold our highest elected officials to the same standards as regular working folks, we owe it to our constituents to change those standards so everyone is abiding by the same law," said Carter, a former Texas judge, who realizes his bill stands no chance of passing. The bill, called the "Rangel Rule Act of 2009," would allow any taxpayer paying back taxes to write "Rangel Rule" on their return in order to be immune from penalties and interest.

Speaking of Charlie Rangel (D-NY), the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is supposed to be preparing to dole out hundreds of billions of dollars from the upcoming stimulus package. Instead he is under the shadow of a growing ethics inquiry that could embarrass him and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who refused his earlier offer to step down from his post. Rangel was already under investigation for failing to pay $10,000 in taxes on a rental villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. Now he's under investigation for allegedly accepting a $1 million donation from a local businessman for his eponymous Harlem public policy center in exchange for his favorable vote on a tax bill that protected the donor's offshore accounts. Culture of corruption, anyone?

The Senate voted this week to postpone the conversion to digital television, scheduled for 17 February. President Obama urged the four-month delay because of evidence by the Nielsen Co. that indicates some 6.5 million households are not prepared for the switch. However, the House failed to reach the required two-thirds vote to override the original law. House leaders plan to bring it back for a simple majority vote next week. A delay would cost broadcasters millions of dollars.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is back, and headed to Barack Obama's desk for his signature. Both the House and the Senate passed the bill this week. This time around, though, SCHIP has two items conspicuously absent from the legislation. The first is a requirement to provide a photo ID and proof of legal residency or citizenship; the second is a cap that would deny benefits to families earning more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) would not give straight answers when asked about the wisdom of removing these provisions, which would greatly reduce the opportunity for abuse of the program. That was probably because they knew that the truth -- removing these provisions takes us one step closer to universal taxpayer-abusing health care -- might not fly with the public. Yet.

Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on Thursday, which makes it easier to sue employers for pay discrimination. "It is a story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every $1 men earn, women of color even less, which means that today in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income, and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime." Oddly enough, Obama's female Senate staffers earned 78 cents for every $1 his male staffers earned.

Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduced HR 197, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2009, which would provide national recognition for all valid state right-to-carry licenses. In other words, states would be required to recognize other states' permits as they do drivers' licenses.

This week's 'Alpha Jackass' award

"The heart and soul of this has been a struggle of me against the system. Under these rules, I'm not even getting a fair trial; they're just hanging me. And when they hang me under these rules that prevent due process, they're hanging the 12 million people of Illinois who twice have elected a governor. I took that system on. I challenged that system." --former Illinois Gov. Rod "F." Blagojevich

Blogojevich was removed from office Thursday by the Illinois senate, which voted 59-0 to oust the "devious, cynical, crass and corrupt" governor. He derided the verdict as "un-American." Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn became Illinois' 41st governor.

23202  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Rest in Peace on: January 30, 2009, 12:06:34 PM
Two days before Royce was to fight Matt Hughes, I went to pick up someone who was a BB under Royce for a private.  He was from out of town and asked me to pick him up at Hennesey's in Redondo Beach.  It turns out he was having lunch with Royce and Helio Gracie.

I was flattered that Royce remembered me from our previous meeting (an introduction by Rigan Machado) and told him that he would establish guard on MH, and when MH went to hit him he would get past his elbow, slither to his back and choke him out.  He and Helio both laughed and Royce said to me "From your lips to God's ears!" 

I liked very much the enthusiasm for Life I sensed in Helio in that moment.
23203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: January 30, 2009, 11:55:22 AM
THE FOUNDATION
"A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." --Second Amendment, United States Constitution

PATRIOT PERSPECTIVE
Sixty million armed Patriots ... and counting
By Mark Alexander

By now, you've probably heard that large sectors of the U.S. economy have collapsed, consumer confidence is at a historic low, Democrats control the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and they're poised to print "bailout and infrastructure" money on the theory of "trickle up poverty" -- risking a prolonged recession followed by hyperinflation.

If there is an economic recovery any time soon, it will be the result of private sector initiatives and a consumer confidence recovery, not the redistribution of a few trillion dollars among friends. Never fear, there is a "community organizer" at the helm.

And that's the good news.

The bad news is that Barack Hussein Obama and his congressional cadre may well use the current crisis as cover to further undermine our constitutional rule of law.

Yes, Obama and his Demo colleagues in the Senate and House have taken a sacred oath to "support and defend" our Constitution, but they have no history of honoring their oaths.

So where does that leave "The People"? Well, if the politicians don't honor their oath, why should we honor their office? That is a question for another day.

At no time in our history has the future of American liberty been secure without a vigorous defense of the plain language of our Constitution, opposed to the adulterated interpretation of the so-called "Living Constitution" promoted by Barack Obama and his gang of judicial activists.

And there is no more important place to start at this moment in our history than with the Second Amendment to our Constitution.

In 1833, Justice Joseph Story, appointed to the Supreme Court by our Constitution's principal author, James Madison, wrote the following in his "Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States": "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."

That was never more true than today.

Obama claims: "I believe in the Second Amendment. Lawful gun owners have nothing to fear. I said that throughout the campaign. I haven't indicated anything different during the transition. ... We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measures that I think respect the Second Amendment and people's traditions. I think there's a lot of room before bumping against a constitutional barrier."

However, Obama's nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder (formerly Janet Reno's Deputy Attorney General), who faces Senate confirmation next week, reaffirmed in the recent DC v. Heller Supreme Court case his long-held position that the Second Amendment affirms no right of individual gun possession by private citizens.

Holder insists that the Second Amendment "does not protect firearms possession or use that is unrelated to participation in a well-regulated militia," which he interprets as a military unit. Of course, our Founders understood "militia" to be synonymous with "the people," but Holder must have skipped his law school's elective on "original intent."

Holder's remarks seem to conflict with his boss's statements about gun ownership, but Obama is not referring to the rights assured by the Second Amendment: "I'm a strong believer in the rights of hunters and sportsmen to have firearms." That's the same subterfuge his mentor John Kerry propagated back in '04.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso understands what's at stake: "Given Holder's career of attacks on the Second Amendment, his nomination continues to be of great concern to me. ... Our nation's highest law enforcement officer must be committed to protecting and defending our individual rights to keep and bear arms."

Other conservatives also get it, like Louisiana Sen. David Vitter: "[Holder has] clearly advocated near-universal licensing and registration, and he joined and filed an amicus brief in the District of Columbia v. Heller U.S. Supreme Court case arguing that the Second Amendment was not an individual right. That's deeply disturbing."

Statistically, those who are not "deeply disturbed" by the implications of Holder's appointment are likely residing in one of those blue urban centers which typically elect liberals to national office.

I came across an essay from one such misguided urbanite this week -- Fred Lebrun, who writes for the Albany (NY) Times-Union.

Fred wrote of the unprecedented number of gun sales since Obama's election: "Otherwise sensible people seem to completely lose their marbles when it comes to the loaded question of handgun ownership, and what rules ought to apply. I'm not sure why that is. The latest example of mass paranoia at work for no discernable reason is a rush to gun shops across the country to buy sidearms. The rationale, or vague impetus, is that with the election of Barack Obama as president, we're heading for the confiscation of our guns, for sure. ... Well, if it's true, why in the world would you go out and buy something the government is going to take away from you anyway?"

Fred, those of us who still uphold our Constitution and honor our oaths, as have generations of Patriots before, understand that, in the words of James Madison, "The ultimate authority ... resides in the people alone. ... The advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation ... forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition."

Madison's words are truer today than when he wrote them in 1787. (Our adversaries at the time of that writing, the British, are learning that gun confiscation leaves one defenseless against tyranny -- and they are now protesting ... with cardboard placards.)

As for why some folks "go out and buy something the government is going to take away from you anyway," well, the only guns that will ever be taken from my hands, or those of tens of millions of like-minded gun owners, will be seized posthumously, and with empty magazines -- which is the only reason Obama and his congressional Leftists have not completely discarded that venerable old Constitution.

Fred concludes: "For the first time since 1935, with an all-Democratic national government, we are in a position to finally institute some meaningful and sensible gun control measures that will help mightily in regaining our cities from gun terror, street by street. Gun control doesn't have to be a dirty word."

What Fred doesn't seem to understand is that there are already some 20,000 -- TWENTY THOUSAND -- gun laws on the books. The argument that more laws will make America safer is ludicrous at every level, and to suggest that somehow such laws justify undermining the Second Amendment's clear intent is to undermine the strongest pillar of our Constitution.

Y'know, Fred, old Ben Franklin had a word of advice for folks like you: "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

And to those for whom such a struggle proves too much an encroachment on their comfort zone, Sam Adams said, "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"

Currently, some 80 million Americans are gun owners, and it is estimated that 60 million of them own guns for purposes other than hunting. If you are not among them, you might thank God for the ranks of us who are, because as our Founders knew, we are the vanguard between liberty and tyranny.

(Visit PatriotShop.US for 2A products, and take a stand.)

Quote of the week
"No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms." --Thomas Jefferson

On cross-examination
"It ought to be a law that people must have a gun in their homes. I know many fine police officers. But we can't depend on the police to protect us anymore. The value of human life means nothing to [criminals]. If it had been my house [this thug] came in on, he would have wound up at Coulter Funeral Home." --General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon (Chattanooga, TN) advising a female victim of a home invasion to buy a gun

When seconds count, the police are only minutes away...

Open query
"What is a left-wing socialist but a Marxist without a gun?"â?¨--Don Feder

The BIG lie
"I am not in favor of concealed weapons. There has not been any evidence that allowing people to carry a concealed weapon is going to make anybody safer." --Barack Obama
23204  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Kali Tudo (tm): The Running Dog Game on: January 30, 2009, 11:39:09 AM
Dog Brothers Kali Tudo ™: The Running Dog Game---
Kali Silat vs. The Guard
By Guro Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny


In 1998 there was a big internet brouhaha about “Where’s the trapping?” I always felt the question a fair one. As I wrote at the time:

“Lets us begin by avoiding overstating things. We need to remember that in the current environment that a lot of this stuff continues to work. When I was in Brazil in June 1992 I showed Renzo Gracie the video from Paul Vunak: "Headbutt, Elbow, Knees". I have the ringside video of Renzo’s next vale tudo fight in which he drills some guy he gets in the corner with this precisely this structure.

“It is also important to remember that MANY situations that one might be in are quite different from the cage. How many people would want to have to close on concrete against a guy with good fast savate feet in cowboy boots? Yeah, it can be done, but some of you are going to get seriously zipped in the bladder. A straight blast might get you through a barroom ruckus to the door better than a single leg takedown/side control/arm bar. Many bouncers and others with lots of experience swear by trapping. So in my opinion we should not get carried away with the "Where-is-the-trapping?" stuff.

“Still, there is a legitimate question in all this. Little of what we see today is the way it is taught in many Jun Fan/Wing Chun or Kali/FMA classes and , , , it is important to honestly raise this question.”
END QUOTE

I also felt that the question had an answer—that the material was valid.

Allow me to begin my answer with an anology: In engineering, different types of strength are distinguished: compressive, tensile, shear, fatigue, etc. (I hope that any engineering people amongst our readers will be kind with any technical corrections of what follows.) My understanding is that compressive strength is the ability to bear weight. For example, you can put a lot of weight on concrete and it won't crumble. Tensile strength is the ability to withstand a pull. Think of the metal cables of a suspension bridge. Why aren't they made of concrete? The answer is that concrete has lousy tensile strength and easily snaps when tested in this way.

Against the fighting structures used in the 60s and early 70s JF/WC trapping structures worked. As Muay Thai came in this was less so. And as BJJ came in it seemed even less so. It is as if the BJJ question tested the tensile strength of concrete. Concrete is strong, but not in that way. The challenge, as I see it, is the equivalent of learning to put "rebar" (those metal rods that are laid out and tied together in a gridlike pattern) in concrete; something is need to provide tensile strength.

Before continuing, I’d like to clarify the terminology a bit. To my present way of thinking, “trapping” is simply a subset of Kali Silat striking and so for me the deeper question is where is the Kali Silat striking? We have heard the assertion of Kali and the other FMA that the motions of the empty hand are like the motions of the weapons—and again the infuriating question comes, “OK then, why is it not seen in the Cage?”

In my humble opinion, the answer is this. Although there are many people skilled in the drills and skills of the FMA (which are sometimes mocked as “tippy tap martial arts and crafts”) the key point is that most of them have never used these skills in the adrenal state. The only skills most people have used in the adrenal state are based upon boxing and Americanized Muay Thai tested in increasingly vigorous sparring that eventually becomes combat sport. Thus, it simply is no surprise that when they find themselves in a fight they use these skills and do not turn to their Kali Silat skill sets! In short, what we do, what we experience in the adrenal state is the deepest learning of all and as such it has a very strong tendency to supersede skills trained without adrenaline.

This also answers the question why I at fifty six years of age and counting I dare to seek to be someone who leads the way in establishing the validity of the Kali Silat idiom of fighting in the Cage. Of course the obvious logic is to leave it to some young lion to prove the theory with his deeds as Royce Gracie shocked the larger martial arts world with the advent of the UFC—I know that! The reason that in my humble opinion I remain relevant is that I HAVE hit people with sticks and these movements to me represent success in the adrenal state and I rely upon them in my own sparring. Combined with my many years of training under Guro Dan Inosanto (including as a private student) and other of the finest FMA, BJJ, and MMA teachers in the world, I believe this enables me to convey the necessary understandings to those who will actually step into the Cage.

Naturally the question arises whether any of our Kali Tudo ™ is relevant to those without extensive FMA type weaponry training and the answer is yes, but I must be candid. The mission statement of Dog Brothers Martial Arts is “To Walk as a Warrior for all your days”—and this means a lifelong path for the dangers of the real world, not just those of young male ritual hierarchical combat. This means we seek a system that uses the same underlying idioms of movement, regardless whether there are weapons and regardless of the numbers involved. This is precisely the point why Dog Brothers Martial Arts develops the subsystem of Kali Tudo ™ so we can use the same idiom of movement both with weapons AND empty hand AND to test our way of fighting empty hand in the adrenal state without concerns or pretensions that what we do is “too deadly for the cage”. In short, the highest levels of Kali Tudo are achieved by including weaponry training. There is no avoiding building the foundation. Those of you who put up the walls before thinking about putting in the wiring, when the sun of youth goes down you may find yourself in the dark. Conversely, those of you who put in the wiring without building sturdy walls and a watertight roof will may find yourself wet from a rain of blows , , ,

So how did “the Running Dog Game”, which is the subject of Kali Tudo ™ 2 come about and why is it the subject of the second DVD on this subsystem of ours?

In the aftermath of the aforementioned internet brouhaha of 1998, I began searching for my answers to the question presented. About two years later I had my first answer in something I called “The Running Dog Game”.

The RDG had its genesis in an unusual guard pass I learned from Renato Magno, BB in Machado BJJ, Pan Am BB Champion, and much more. In essence, it involves passing the guard, and perhaps snatching a foot lock, while running over the guard players head. Given my penchant for odd humor, I nicknamed the technique “the Running Dog” which in leftist-Marxist lexicon was a perceived calumny heaped upon the less powerful who benefited by aligning themselves with the capitalist class. It seemed humorous to me to embrace the insult of both my right wing “free minds and free markets” perspective and my doggy nature.

As I explored in the horizontal world of the ground how to best set up the Running Dog, I began to recognize reference points originally installed in my previously vertical Kali Silat (and Jun Fan Gung Fu) training. Very interesting! There were lots of successes, but also lots of getting arm-barred and lots of getting backswept. With further exploration, I developed “the Running Dog Posture” and developed a special exercise (which is shown in the DVD) to develop the physicality to maximize its capabilities.

So, in summary, what is the Running Dog Game? It is:

a) a way of standing up inside the Guard so as to establish the RD Posture

b) with the RD Posture established, the following options exist:

1) the signature move of the RD Game matrix: The RD pass over the head, either taking a foot or hip lock, or simply
standing up first and punting his head or taking controls from north-south. Typically the RD is facilitated by Kali Silat striking.

2) Kali Silat striking to knock out/TKO;

3) Kali Silat striking to “the Rico Kickover Heel Hook”;

4) Kali Silat striking to shucking the legs over to standard MMA type side control/knee on belly positions;

5) Kali Silat striking to shucking the legs over to Silat type leg attacks.


One of the key insights that opened my understanding was that a goodly part of the challenge of applying Kali Silat striking was facilitated by the fact that the because the Guard player had the ground behind him he found it much more difficult to move away from the traps, destructions, double timing and triplet timing strikes of Kali Silat. That is why this material is ideal for the second DVD covering our Kali Tudo subsystem—it is shockingly easy to apply against many people. Of course, nothing works against every one! Once this understanding is in place, the next step will be to apply it standing-- both in open range and clinch.

In 2000 I showed the RD Game to my backyard group (with drive by guest appearance by Top Dog) and filmed it as a “Vid-lesson” for instructors and private students of the DBMA Association. Some of this footage now appears in “KT2: The RD Game”. It was precisely because of the efficacy of the material that I held it back as a bit of a “secret weapon”. My reasons for changing my thinking in regard to secrecy are for a separate conversation on some other day. For the moment it suffices that in some regards my thinking has changed and that in September of 2008 I visited my good friend and hero Dogzilla and the Hawaii Clan of the Dog Brothers where we shot the current incarnation of the RD Game , , , as well as some other things that will appear in KT 3 and KT 4 wink

So there it is: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm): The Running Dog Game.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
======================
 We hope to have "The Running Dog Game" out by the end of February.   We will be taking pre-orders soon!
23205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Israeli Rabbinate severs ties with the Vatican on: January 30, 2009, 11:26:40 AM
Israel's Chief Rabbinate Severs Ties with Vatican - Ian Deitch (AP/Washington Post)
    Israel's chief rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican on Wednesday to protest a papal decision to reinstate Bishop Richard Williamson who publicly denied six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
    The Jewish state's highest religious authority sent a letter to the Holy See saying: "It will be very difficult for the chief rabbinate of Israel to continue its dialogue with the Vatican as before."

23206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Turkey's pivot on: January 30, 2009, 11:02:18 AM
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan created a stir at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday with a lengthy condemnation of Israel’s recent actions in the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan’s speech was clearly prepared beforehand — read directly from papers he was holding — so this was no off-the-cuff comment that could be written off. And sitting right next to the Turkish prime minister the whole time was none other than Israeli President Shimon Peres. After Peres delivered a counterpoint, Erdogan went on what detractors would probably label a rant, which ended with a brief argument with the moderator about time limits before he abruptly walked off the stage, having said, “I do not think I will return to Davos.”

Back in Turkey, the response was mixed: Some were surprised by their leader’s actions, and some were thrilled to see him lambaste both Israel and the European elites at Davos. Indeed, it is a matter for debate both within and outside Turkey just where Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party are taking Turkish policy in the near future. There are those who see his bold criticisms of Israel as a clear bid to seize a leadership position for Islamic sentiment throughout the Middle East. Others see Turkey asserting itself in order to counter, or perhaps collaborate with, a resurgent Russia. Still others see Turkey pushing to join, or perhaps utterly reject, the European Union. The one thing that is clear is that Turkey is moving more assertively than it has in decades.

It has been almost 90 years since the world has seen Turkey as a place that projects any power on its own. Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks have been extremely insular, dabbling only rarely in events beyond their borders. Granted, Turkey was a key participant in the NATO alliance during the Cold War, given that it shared borders with the Middle East, Iran, the Soviet bloc (Bulgaria) and the Soviet Union itself. It has been a long time, however, since Turkey pursued an activist foreign policy — and most of the world has forgotten just what that means.

Turkey occupies on some of the most valuable real estate in the world. The Anatolian plateau is high and easily defensible, and as a peninsula it also supports a thriving maritime culture. Both are excellent assets for growing a successful state. But Turkey’s most important feature is its critical location. It sits astride the land routes connecting Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East — not to mention the straits connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. It is the only country in the world that is positioned to project influence readily into all of these regions.

A deeper look reveals that the territory that comprises modern-day Turkey has been at or near the center of the human story for thousands of years. It was the home of the Hittite empire some 3,300 years ago, and afterward its Aegean coast was part of Classical Greece. Not only was Anatolia a key component of the Roman Empire, but Byzantium — based in what is now Istanbul — was Rome’s immediate political, cultural, religious and economic successor. That entity in turn was succeeded by the Ottomans, who crafted what was at the time the world’s greatest empire — which almost unilaterally enabled humanity to emerge from the Dark Ages, even at times conquering a good portion of what would eventually become Western civilization. For about half of the past two millennia, Anatolia has commanded the world’s most powerful economic and military forces.

The bottom line is this: Any time in human history that the Anatolian Peninsula has not been a leading force in geopolitics has been an aberration. The land that links Europe to the Eurasian steppe to the mountains of Asia to the Mediterranean basin and the deserts of Arabia is geographically destined to play a major role on the global stage. If the world has a pivot, it lies in Turkey.

And although the direction of its movement remains up for debate, Turkey — after more than 90 years of quiescence — is moving again.
23207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Voter ID laws successful on: January 30, 2009, 08:39:17 AM
By HANS VON SPAKOVSKY
Remember the storm that arose on the political left after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana's voter ID law last April? According to the left, voter ID was a dastardly Republican plot to prevent Democrats from winning elections by suppressing the votes of minorities, particularly African-Americans.

 
Since the election of Barack Obama, we haven't heard a word about such claims. On Jan. 14, the federal appeals court in Atlanta upheld Georgia's voter ID law.

The reasons for the silence about alleged voter suppression is plain. In the first place, numerous academic studies show that voter ID had no effect on the turnout of voters in prior elections. The plaintiffs in every unsuccessful lawsuit filed against such state requirements could not produce a single individual who didn't either already have an ID or couldn't easily get one.

Second are the figures emerging from the November election. If what liberals claimed was true, Democratic voters in states with strict photo ID requirements would presumably have had a much more difficult time voting, and their turnout dampened in comparison to other states. Well, that myth can finally be laid to rest.

The two states with the strictest voter ID requirements are Indiana and Georgia. Both require a government-issued photo ID. According to figures released by Prof. Michael McDonald of George Mason University, the overall national turnout of eligible voters was 61.6%, the highest turnout since the 1964 election.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (JCPES) found that black turnout in the 2008 election was at a historic high, having increased substantially from 2004. The total share of black voters in the national vote increased from 11% to 13% according to exit polls, with 95% of blacks voting for Mr. Obama.

So what happened in Georgia where the ACLU, the NAACP and other such groups claimed the state's photo ID law was intended to depress black turnout? According to figures released by Curtis Gans at American University, Georgia had the largest turnout in its history, with nearly four million voters. The Republican turnout was up only 0.22 percentage points; the Democratic turnout was up an astonishing 6.1 percentage points, rising from 22.66% of the eligible voting population to 28.74% of the eligible population.

The overall turnout in Georgia increased 6.7 percentage points from the 2004 election -- the second highest increase in turnout of any state in the country. According to the JCPES, the black share of the statewide vote increased in Georgia from 25% in the 2004 election, when the photo ID law was not in effect, to 30% in the 2008 election, when the photo ID law was in effect.

By contrast, the Democratic turnout in the neighboring state of Mississippi -- which has no voter ID requirement but also has a large black population similar to Georgia's -- increased by only 2.35 percentage points.

In Indiana, which the Supreme Court said had the strictest voter ID law in the country, the turnout of Democratic voters in the November election increased by 8.32 percentage points. That was the largest increase in Democratic turnout of any state in the country. The increase in overall turnout in Indiana was the fifth highest in the country, but only because the turnout of Republican voters actually went down 3.57 percentage points. The nearby state of Illinois (no photo ID requirement) had an increase in Democratic turnout of only 4.4 percentage points -- nearly half Indiana's increase.

Of course, the decline in Republican turnout and huge increase in Democratic turnout in Indiana matched what happened elsewhere, and explains why Mr. Obama won. Republican turnout nationwide declined 1.3 percentage points from the 2004 election, while Democratic turnout increased 2.6 percentage points.

The JCPES predicts that when the final turnout numbers are in for the 2008 election, black turnout will probably reach a historic high of almost 67% and likely surpass white turnout for the first time. All at a time when about half of the states have passed various forms of voter ID requirements, including two states with strict photo ID laws.

The claim that Republican legislatures in Georgia and Indiana passed voter ID to depress Democratic turnout is demonstrably false. But even if it were true, they obviously failed miserably to achieve that objective given the huge increases in Democratic and minority turnout in both states.

I guess liberals will now claim that their historic increases in turnout would have been even higher if not for voter ID laws. But that would be an absurd argument, given the states' performance in comparison to other states without voter ID laws.

With every election that has occurred since states have begun to implement voter ID, the evidence is overwhelming that it does not depress the turnout of voters. Indeed, it may actually increase the public's confidence that their votes will count.

That won't stop the ACLU or the League of Women Voters from filing more frivolous lawsuits against such state laws and continuing to waste taxpayer money. But ultimately they will lose, and our ability to protect the security and integrity of our elections will be preserved.

Mr. von Spakovsky, a visiting legal scholar at The Heritage Foundation, is a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission and a former Justice Department official.
23208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington; Lincoln on: January 30, 2009, 08:36:16 AM
"The Citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole Lords and Proprietors of a vast Tract of Continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the World, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life, are now by the late satisfactory pacification, acknowledged to be possessed of absolute freedom and Independency; They are, from this period, to be considered as the Actors on a most conspicuous Theatre, which seems to be peculiarly designated by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity; Here, they are not only surrounded with every thing which can contribute to the completion of private and domestic enjoyment, but Heaven has crowned all its other blessings, by giving a fairer opportunity for political happiness, than any other Nation has ever been favored with. Nothing can illustrate these observations more forcibly, than a recollection of the happy conjuncture of times and circumstances, under which our Republic assumed its rank among the Nations."

--George Washington, Circular to the States, 8 June 1783
==========

--
"If you gave me 6 hours to cut down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the ax." -- Abraham Lincoln
23209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: January 30, 2009, 08:33:57 AM
U.S. Says Ex-Agent Passed Secrets to Russia From Jail
By EVAN PEREZ

WASHINGTON -- A former Central Intelligence Agency official imprisoned for spying for Russia continued to pass information and collect money from his old handlers while behind bars, according to U.S. prosecutors.

Harold James Nicholson, 58 years old, used his 24-year-old son, Nathaniel, to restart contacts with Russian spies in Mexico, Peru and Cyprus, according to an indictment against father and son filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore. Both father and son were arraigned Thursday on charges of money laundering and acting as agents of a foreign government.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent's affidavit filed in court provides a spy-novel narrative from 2006 to 2008. U.S. officials claim Harold Nicholson tutored his son in spy tradecraft and Nathaniel Nicholson tried to hide his activities as he reached out to Russian contacts on trips abroad, buying his plane tickets with cash.

Prosecutors allege the elder Mr. Nicholson, who was serving a 23-year sentence, was seeking to recover money, and perhaps a "pension," that his Russian contacts owed him for past work, in order to help his financially struggling family. Even behind bars, Mr. Nicholson still held value to the Russians, who wanted to figure out how he was caught and how much U.S. investigators knew of Russian spying in the U.S., prosecutors say.

Harold Nicholson was a former CIA station chief in Malaysia and later worked as an instructor for trainees at the agency's Langley, Va., headquarters. He was convicted of espionage conspiracy under a plea agreement in 1997. Prosecutors say he gave Russian spies the identity of the CIA's Moscow station chief as well as information on new CIA trainees. Federal agents stopped him as he attempted to fly to Switzerland to hand over classified documents to agents for the SVR, the successor agency to the Soviet Union's KGB. He is the most senior CIA official ever convicted of spying for a foreign government.

Matthew G. Olsen, acting assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement that "these charges underscore the continuing threat posed by foreign intelligence services."

An attorney for the father and son couldn't be reached for a comment.

FBI agents monitored the father and son, using email and telephone wiretaps and tracking devices on the son's car to keep tabs on the 24-year-old's alleged spy activities, according to documents filed by prosecutors.

Along the way, the father offered proud words of encouragement to his son. A birthday card the father sent the son last year, according to prosecutors, read: "You have been brave enough to step into this new unseen world that is sometimes dangerous but always fascinating. God leads us on our greatest adventures. Keep looking through your new eyes. I understand you and me."

Federal agents stopped Nathaniel Nicholson as he returned from meeting contacts in Lima, Peru, in December 2007. Without telling him, the agents photocopied a notebook he carried that agents say contained coded notes about his alleged meetings with Russian spies. The notebook also contained instructions for a meeting he later had at a TGI Friday's restaurant in Nicosia, Cyprus, with a Russian contact, according to the FBI affidavit.

FBI agents monitoring an email account attributed to Nathaniel Nicholson said that in October 2008, he sent a coded email as instructed by his Russian contact, confirming an upcoming meeting in Cyprus.

The email, according to the FBI affidavit, read: "Hola Nancy! It is great to receive your message! I love you too. I hope to see you soon! The best regards from my brother Eugene! - Love Dick"

Prosecutors claim the son collected nearly $36,000 in trips overseas intended to help family members pay off debts. The father expressed hopes of relocating to Russia when he left prison, prosecutors say.

In one letter, the father sent physical data such as his height and weight to his son, and prosecutors think the information was to be used by the Russians to provide him travel documents upon his release.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123326691076330523.html
23210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: January 29, 2009, 10:32:24 PM
Now, now, play nicely please!

"amphiboly"?

Please indulge my laziness in looking this up.  What does this mean?
23211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DHS wants criminal aliens out?!? on: January 29, 2009, 07:52:05 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090129/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/i...bGsDaG9tZWxhbmRzZWNy


Homeland secretary wants criminal aliens out of US

By EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 12 mins ago

WASHINGTON – If you're a criminal and you're not entitled to be in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants you out of the country. Napolitano wants what she calls "criminal aliens" off American streets. She is looking at existing immigration enforcement programs to see if taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck.

"That sounds very simple, but it's historically not been done," Napolitano said, speaking to reporters and senior Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Thursday.
About 113,000 criminals who were in the U.S. illegally were deported last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. The agency estimates there are now as many as 450,000 criminals in federal, state and local detention centers who are in the country illegally.
Napolitano said she wants to improve data-sharing among local, state and federal facilities. So far, there are jails in 26 counties across the country with computer systems that can talk instantly with immigration systems.

The goal, Napolitano said, is for federal immigration officials to know whether an inmate is in the country illegally immediately after he is processed into a detention facility. After the criminal serves his or her sentence, immigration officials can be ready to deport that person right away.
ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said the agency plans to expand this connectivity to all state and local detention centers over the next four years.

Napolitano, whose job includes overseeing immigration laws, says she also will go after criminal fugitives who are in the country illegally.
23212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: January 29, 2009, 06:17:58 PM
Unless I'm missing something, missing from your discussion is the distinction between equal pay for the SAME work, and the government/courts/lawyers/bureaucracies deciding what is COMPARABLE.
23213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / You say stop, I say go, hello, goodbye, hello on: January 29, 2009, 02:16:58 PM
Guantanamo judge refuses Obama's request for delay

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

MIAMI (Reuters) – The chief judge for the Guantanamo war crimes court on Thursday refused U.S. President Barack Obama's request to delay proceedings against a prisoner charged with plotting an attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors.

This could force the Pentagon to withdraw the charges, though they could be refiled later if the Obama administration decides to keep the special tribunals at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  The White House said it was consulting with the Pentagon and the Department of Justice on how to respond, said spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Hours after taking office last week, Obama ordered Guantanamo prosecutors to seek 120-day delays in all pending cases to give his administration time to decide whether to scrap the widely criticized tribunals created by the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists outside the regular U.S. court system.

But the judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, said the law underpinning the tribunals gives the presiding judges sole authority to delay cases. He ruled that postponing proceedings against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri was not reasonable and "does not serve the interest of justice."

Nashiri is charged with conspiring with al Qaeda to crash an explosives-laden boat against the side of the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000. The attack killed 17 U.S. sailors and Nashiri would face execution if convicted. His arraignment was set for February 9.  Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Obama's executive order freezing the trials, which are formally known as military commissions, would guide the Defense Department's actions.

"This department will be in full compliance with the president's executive order. There's no ifs, ands or buts about that," Morrell told reporters. "While that executive order is in force and effect, trust me that there will be no proceedings continuing down at Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay) with military commissions."

The military judge, however, noted that Obama directed in his order that it "shall be implemented consistent with applicable law" and the 2006 law authorizing the trials was still applicable.

Military prosecutors and defense lawyers both supported delaying the case, arguing that Obama's pending decision on what to do with Guantanamo could render the proceedings moot. Obama has ordered the prison closed by this time next year.
Morrell said it appeared to be up to Susan Crawford, the Pentagon appointee overseeing the Guantanamo trials, to resolve the matter. She could withdraw the charges without prejudice, allowing them to be refiled again later.
Charges are pending against 21 Guantanamo prisoners, though Crawford has only referred 14 cases to trial. Judges have issued orders freezing the proceedings in six of those.
23214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 29, 2009, 12:56:38 PM
The Left Angeles Times is very much a part of the political ecosystem in which I live and it torments me on a regular basis, thank you very much  tongue  cheesy
23215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington; Lincoln on: January 29, 2009, 12:22:50 PM
If we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war. -- George Washington

‘‘We, the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution.’’
— Abraham Lincoln
23216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 29, 2009, 12:21:44 PM
AT PRESENT that may be true, but over time the trend line is unfavorable.
23217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Entitlement Stimulus on: January 29, 2009, 12:15:55 PM
The more we dig into the pile of spending and tax favors known as the "stimulus bill," the more amazing discoveries we make. Namely, Democrats have apparently decided that the way to gun the economy is to spend even more on health care.

This is notable because if there has been one truly bipartisan idea in Washington, it's that the U.S. as a whole spends too much on health care. President Obama has been talking up entitlement reform as a way to free up the money for his other social priorities. But it turns out that Congress is using the stimulus as cover for a massive expansion of federal entitlements.

Only the bill's $20 billion or so devoted to electronic health records can be reasonably called an investment. More typical is the $87 billion that will go to Medicaid, which -- silly us -- we underestimated by about $6 billion in our stimulus editorial yesterday. This pot of money will be used to blow out the federal matching rate by 4.9 percentage points across the board. Medicaid is nominally a joint state-federal program, but the feds pick up 57% of the Medicaid bill on average and are willing to go as high as 82% in some states. In other words, Democrats want to bail out the states that make unaffordable health-care promises and haven't tried to control costs. This latest rescue will give Governors more incentive to do so, given that the more they spend, the more Congress pays.

National taxpayers will also fund a new program allowing some laid-off workers receiving unemployment checks to enroll in Medicaid. For the first time ever on a large scale, the federal government will pay 100% of the costs they incur, and states are explicitly prohibited from means-testing this benefit. Supposedly the $11 billion plan will expire in 2010, but the word "temporary" does not exist in the entitlement world -- and Democrats will fight furiously to extend these benefits before they sunset.

Another damaging inspiration is the plan to throw $30.3 billion at Cobra insurance plans. The unemployed are currently allowed to keep their work health benefits for 18 or 36 months since 1986. While they search for a new job, they must pay 102% of the full insurance premium, including the employer's share. But Democrats now plan to subsidize these plans to the tune of 65%.

Are they making Cobra a new entitlement? Cobra was never intended as an option to assist the long-term unemployed -- considering that adverse selection means Cobra enrollees cost businesses about 145% as much as covered employees. Since Democrats want to boost participation by propping up Cobra use, that will result in less capital to invest in new jobs in the middle of a recession. It will also mean adding another disincentive (in addition to unemployment insurance) to get a new job. When you subsidize people not to work, you get more nonworkers.

Not for nothing did Democratic heath-care commissar Pete Stark tell the New York Times that "We accomplished more today than in the last eight years" after his committee approved the Medicaid and Cobra pieces of the stimulus. In one swoop Democrats will make employer-sponsored health care even more expensive and expand opportunities for an anxious public to join, or remain on, the welfare rolls. The pretext of "stimulus" is being leveraged to capture ever more of the private health-care market and transfer those costs onto government.

But don't forget that everyone agrees that health spending is already too high. So the stimulus also devotes $1.1 billion to create a new bureaucracy called the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. A billion dollars isn't nearly enough to conduct the rigorous clinical studies needed to provide more information on what medical treatments result in the best outcomes. But Democrats want to get this "health-care Fed" on the books now so it's around when they pass the next entitlement expansion -- for the entire middle class.

When government finances start to buckle under that subsidy, the comparative effectiveness outfit will start to ration care to control costs, much like the United Kingdom's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). The draft report accompanying the House portion of the bill notes that procedures and drugs "that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed."

In sum, what we are really getting in this stimulus bill are several more steps in the gradual government takeover of the health-care market.
23218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: January 29, 2009, 11:54:31 AM
Tis rare to find so much specious reasoning packed in so little space.
23219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: New Phase? on: January 29, 2009, 11:49:47 AM
Geopolitical Diary: A New Phase in U.S.-Russian Relations?
January 29, 2009 | 0051 GMT
Russia has suspended its plans to deploy Iskander short-range ballistic missiles to its Kaliningrad enclave because the new U.S. administration is “not rushing through” with plans to establish a missile shield in central Europe, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed Russian military official. The same day, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos that, though it carried many well-worn anti-Western themes, ended with Putin wishing the new U.S. administration well — a shift from his scathing words for Barack Obama before the inauguration.

These two statements appear to signal a momentary easing of tensions between Moscow and Washington. More importantly, they show that Russia is trying to feel out the contours of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev had announced the plans to deploy missiles to Kaliningrad — a tiny Russian enclave sandwiched between Poland and the Baltic states — on Nov. 5, the day after Obama’s election. The timing of that announcement (which was intentionally delayed to coincide with the election) was a pointed signal that Moscow would not pull any punches with the incoming administration. There has been some question over the status of Iskander missile production and deployment, and it is still not clear whether a unit even exists that is trained, equipped and prepared to deploy to Kaliningrad — but the announcement itself marked a deliberate escalation of tensions between Russia and the United States.

Those tensions had already been growing for several years. When Putin took power as president in 1999, his goal was to restore Russia to some semblance of its former prominence as a global power, after the free-fall of the 1990s. A major component of his plan involved keeping the United States out of Russia’s way – and especially out of the former Soviet region, which Moscow still considered its own proper sphere of influence. Thus, when George W. Bush took office in 2001, Putin attempted to form a close bond with his administration in order to win support and recognition of that sphere of influence. For example, Putin was the first world leader to call Bush following the 9/11 attacks, and Moscow offered to (and did) assist Washington in the ensuing war in Afghanistan.

But whatever amity there may have been did not last long. While Russia continued to claw its way back from its post-Soviet nadir, the United States pushed back in 2004 by supporting the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the eastward expansion of the NATO alliance. From Russia’s perspective, these actions were a betrayal. By the time Putin and Bush had entered their second terms, it was clear that a geopolitical standoff reminiscent of the Cold War had begun to form. Last year, frictions went beyond mere rhetoric, with Russia’s war against U.S.-allied Georgia and Washington’s signing of missile defense deals with Poland and the Czech Republic.

Now different men hold the two presidencies — Medvedev took the helm in Moscow in 2008 and Obama was inaugurated just over a week ago — but the question remains whether anything fundamental has changed. Russian leaders may have not liked what Bush did, but they at least felt they understood him. Obama, only a few days into his administration, remains an unknown quantity from Moscow’s point of view.

In Russia, the change of administration did not mean a change in policy — effectively, the Putin regime remains in place. By the same token, Moscow did not take Obama’s campaign pledge of “change” seriously, and leaders there have not expected any kind of rapprochement to follow his inauguration. Indeed, Putin made it quite clear in the days before Obama’s inauguration that the United States has a lot of work to do if it wants to regain Russia’s trust any time soon — or ever.

But the Kremlin is now beginning to rethink its position. The government in Moscow does not trust Obama, but it does recognize that Obama needs the Russians. He has pledged to expand the war in Afghanistan — but with NATO supply routes in Pakistan under serious threaten, Washington needs another route into that theater – and the most readily available routes pass either through Russia proper or through former Soviet territories.

And so U.S.-Russian relations are at a pivotal point. Russia is trying to figure out the new American administration, to see whether it is willing to make concessions in exchange for help on the Afghan issue. On that front, Washington is sending mixed signals. Obama has stated that he wants to rethink missile defense in Europe — a key condition for any deal with Russia — and has said in general terms that he wants to redefine NATO, certainly an interesting possibility from Moscow’s perspective. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, however, that the redefinition of NATO would involve clearing up arms-reduction treaties with Russia and that the United States would focus on achieving energy security for Europe (meaning helping the Europeans find alternatives to Russian supplies). Both moves potentially threaten some of Russia’s greatest means of leverage.

In this context, the announcement that Russia is putting off the Kaliningrad missile deployment could mean one of two things.

First, it could be a tentative gesture designed to sound out the new administration. The early days of the Obama presidency are an opportunity for Russia to find out how serious Obama and his team really are. The U.S. push to establish new supply routes to Afghanistan is proceeding too quickly for Russia to wait — so Moscow could be floating a trial balloon and watching for the response, while actively attempting to shape the new administration’s behavior. In “pulling back” its deployment plans for the Iskander, Russia could be creating an opening for the United States to respond in kind. However, Moscow has chosen its opening gambit carefully: If there is no reciprocation, the deployment can move ahead – and the missiles would directly threaten U.S. ballistic missile defense installations in Poland once they are built.

The other possible explanation for Russia’s announcement could be that the United States already has made an offer behind the scenes. Talks occurred on the sidelines of the informal Jan. 26-27 Russia-NATO Council meeting in Brussels. This was an ambassador-level meeting, though Russian envoy Dmitri Rogozin did hint at a possible arrangement in the works. On the first day of the talks, Rogozin blasted Washington for wanting to use former Soviet territory for shipments to Afghanistan, but he changed his tune on the second day, saying there was a possibility the United States and Russia could strike a deal. This could indicate that a preliminary deal has, in fact, already been struck. If so, the Kaliningrad discussion and Putin’s comments, both of which came soon after, could have been a gesture to show Moscow’s genuine interest in negotiating.

This does not mean Russia could not change its mind once again on Kaliningrad. Provided that the missiles are built and there is a crew in place that can operate them, it is simply a question of deployment. Russia will not commit itself to any concessions recklessly, but it appears the Russians are opening a door for Washington to prove that change, indeed, has come.
23220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Keith Jarrett on: January 29, 2009, 11:26:30 AM
By CORINNA DA FONSECA-WOLLHEIM
Oxford, N.J.

The pond outside Keith Jarrett's home in rural New Jersey is frozen over. Inside the jazz pianist's 18th-century farmhouse, life appears similarly suspended. An expectant silence reverberates against the walls of vinyl LPs, CD boxes spilling off sofas, towers of stereo equipment bristling with cables. Next door, in the converted barn that houses Mr. Jarrett's recording studio, a pair of Steinways and two harpsichords cower under black quilted covers.

In the weeks leading up to a solo improvised concert, Mr. Jarrett retreats into creative solitude to empty his mind. More than 30 years since his first fully improvised solo album, "Facing You," he continues to be the only pianist to offer evening-long concerts of music created out of nothing. He records every such concert, preferring a recording to any attempt to notate and transcribe his music. The recordings thus become the authoritative source for his "compositions." Tonight, he will play at Carnegie Hall, his first North American solo appearance in more than three years. How does he prepare for such a tightrope act?

Tune In
Listen to clips from Keith Jarrett's 2005 solo concert at Carnegie Hall:

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A Jazz Night to Remember: The unique magic of Keith Jarrett's 'The Köln Concert' (10/11/08)Listen to a clip of Keith Jarrett's "The Köln Concert," Part 2c Mr. Jarrett, his closely cropped silver hair offset by an all-black outfit, frowns. "Imagine an archer preparing for a shot before the target shows up," he says. "He's just aiming at where he suspects there may possibly be a target." In the run-up to his 2005 solo concert at Carnegie Hall, he read fiction by New York writer Nick Tosches and thought about Charles Ives and Carl Ruggles, composers, as he puts it, "who did their thorny stuff, their spiky music which we can begin to call American classical music."

This time, there is little deliberate preparation beyond playing a lot of Bach to "keep his fingers going." But Mr. Jarrett, who is known for hectoring audiences who cough too much, looks forward to playing again for a New York crowd.

"When you're on stage you have a very strange knowledge of what the audience is. It isn't exactly a sound -- it's a hum, like the streets. New York is such a microcosm of the world, and so independent-minded, that I have a kind of trust with them. You can feel that they just want me on stage and then they don't know what's going to happen. It's more like playing for other 'me's' in the audience."

The format of Mr. Jarrett's solo concerts has changed since he returned to them after an illness-induced hiatus in the 1990s. While his improvisations often used to last as long as 40 minutes, Mr. Jarrett now allows each musical idea to find its shape -- even if the result is a three-minute miniature. Recent solo concerts have consisted of as many as 10 musically distinct pieces that range from lyrical blues to jaggedly dissonant knots of fast notes.

"Some of those languages come up just because my hands are in a certain place," he says. "One of the great things about paying money is that maybe you stay there a few minutes longer and you might get to see something being built in front of your eyes. If a person plays dissonance long enough it will sound like consonance. It's a language that was alien and then it's less and less alien as it continues to live. After a while, it's like saying, goddammit, it finally makes sense."

Whether the resulting music can still be called jazz is of little concern to Mr. Jarrett. "It has the tendency to be anything it wants to be. My music education and listening has been so broad that it doesn't sound categorizable to me either. Obviously it gets into jazz territory -- and then it gets out of it again." But while Mr. Jarrett can draw on a wide knowledge of Western music, and an impressive catalog of recording and performing the classical repertoire, he has no desire to return to "that nervous, jittery, get-into-emotion-on-bar-151" world.

As he sees it, moving from the interpretation-based world of classical music to the improvisational one of jazz requires a radical shift that can shake the foundations of self. When he performed a lot of Mozart in the '80s, he says, "I wasn't playing anything other than Mozart. I had to become another person." And, he adds, "to teach a classical musician to improvise is almost more impossible than to teach an accountant or a plumber to improvise."

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Ken Fallin"I once had a conversation with Vladimir Ashkenazy. We were on a cruise with the English Chamber Orchestra and I gave him a tape with some of my improvisations. When he had listened to it, he said, 'How do you play all the right notes?' I said, 'No, you see they just become the right notes by virtue of their environment.' Then he said, 'I'd love to be able to improvise but I know I'd need so much time to get into the right headspace to do that.' Of course, he didn't use the word 'headspace.' But he knew he'd have to shut everything down. From where they are you can't get to the improvisation and have it be you, because you've been trained outside of yourself.

"If you're improvising and you finish a concert and you're changed forever, that's different from finishing any kind of classical concert, no matter how good. The reason you can't be physically, cellularly changed is it did not come through you. The music was already there."

Still, there are clues to Mr. Jarrett's classical ventures in almost every aspect of his art, from the musical idioms he employs to his near-obsessive concern with matters of touch, color and sonority. Many have written -- and complained -- about his physical relationship with his instrument, the tortured positions he gets into while playing, and the moans and groans that escape him. But Mr. Jarrett says that what some see as an almost sexual relationship with the piano is really one marked by struggle.

"I'm never trying to get it to sound just like a piano. I'm trying to find every possible way to make it either a voice or an instrument that is unlike a Western instrument. You know, it can't be a guitar but I wish it was; it can't be an orchestra but I wish it was. So the rebellion that I'm faced with immediately upon sitting down at a piano is that it is a piano. And I can turn cartwheels -- it's not going to make any difference. But what I can do is try to almost fool the instrument into becoming something else."

The irony is that the painful contortions and ecstatic moans that some critics find so distracting are the effect of his efforts to get out of the way of the music and to channel what he calls a "transformation of energy." And it is this intensity that he brings to each moment on stage that ultimately roots him in jazz.

"If I'm not a jazz player all the time, I've at least been cued in to what I do by jazz. Because people needed to survive, they were in the cotton fields and they sang because otherwise they would not be able to handle their lives at all. If you play music from that same position, then what you have at stake is your own survival. Which is really what I've been saying about solo improvisation for 30 years: It's dangerous as hell because if you fail you feel like committing suicide."

Ms. da Fonseca-Wollheim is a writer living in New York.
23221  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Suppliments: Legal and Illegal on: January 29, 2009, 11:14:03 AM
Have you considered good nutrition and sleep?

This is where you claim the benefits of your workouts.  If you don't allow for rebuilding, you will just be running yourself down.
23222  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Rest in Peace RIP R.I.P. on: January 29, 2009, 11:12:16 AM
Helio Gracie is Dead:

 Helio Gracie : Dead at 95 years
"The day on January 29 morning more sad for lovers of art soft. Creator of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu along with his brother Carlos, Master Hélio Gracie, who had completed 95 years in 2008, died in Rio de Janeiro. The tatami not have details about the death of the Master, but the death is confirmed."

RIP Helio

 http://jbonline.terra.com.br/nextra/...e290126426.asp

in english vis a vis google translator: http://translate.google.com/translat...istory_state0=
23223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 29, 2009, 11:09:08 AM
@all:

Many good points being made.  I would add the example of the green houses that Israel left behind in Gaza being destroyed.

@ Huss:

I submit Turkey as an example of Islamic culture and democracy co-existing.  Indonesia too-- at least for now.

@ NKD:

I fear I have not succeeded in conveying my point-- I supported and support the Osirak operation.  My concern is that by placing missiles and rockets of ever greater efficacy on Israel's northern and southwestern borders that Iran is creating a situation wherein if Israel goes Osirak on Iran that Iran will be in a position to blow up Israel's reactor and contaminate Israel.
23224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: January 29, 2009, 12:44:27 AM
 shocked shocked shocked cry cry cry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry
23225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Indonesia: Islamist Contortions on: January 29, 2009, 12:14:02 AM
For those who wonder what problems corruption-ridden and disaster-plagued Indonesia must tackle most urgently, the Indonesian Council of Ulema has the answer: yoga.

On Monday, the Council, a quasi-official grouping of 700 Islamic clerics, decreed that Muslims should shun the ancient Indian practice. The clerics worry that Hindu-influenced chants and invocations might weaken Muslim believers' faith. The decree, though not legally binding, carries the force of moral authority, and, as is not uncommon in the Muslim world, the unspoken threat of enforcement by vigilantes.

The Council's decision was not entirely unprecedented. Malaysia's National Fatwa Council issued a similar ban last November. Nonetheless, it comes as a reminder of the challenges the world's most populous Muslim-majority country faces as it struggles to nurture a fledgling democracy in the face of the increasingly undemocratic demands of fundamentalist Islam.

To be sure, Indonesia is no Saudi Arabia. The majority of the country's Muslims -- 88% of its 235 million people -- practice a gentle folk Islam infused with elements of the archipelago's long Animist-Hindu-Buddhist past. The country's constitution is nonsectarian. Overt legal discrimination against non-Muslims, the cornerstone of government policy in neighboring Malaysia, is rare. Most people live in harmony.

But in recent years, Indonesian fundamentalists -- including hardline clerics, politicians from the Prosperous Justice Party and vigilante groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front -- have grown increasingly assertive. These groups don't always agree with each other on tactics, but have broadly similar worldviews. They have spearheaded the persecution of the minority Ahmadiyya Muslim community, the passage of a so-called antipornography bill that encourages vigilantism and discriminates against non-Muslim cultures, and a regulation that forces Christian schools to offer religious instruction on Islam.

Put bluntly, Islamic fundamentalism puts a crimp on Indonesia's otherwise impressive democratic flowering. It's at odds with individual rights, freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. In a mature democracy, you wouldn't find a government body called the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society outside the pages of a novel. In Indonesia, it helps the government determine which groups are labeled "heretical" or "deviant."

After two successful national elections since the end of Suharto's 32-year-reign in 1998 -- and with another due this year -- Indonesians are justifiably proud of having mastered the processes of democracy. But the gains may be chimerical unless they can defend their ability to publicly scrutinize, criticize -- and, if necessary, mock -- bad ideas that come from Islam as readily as those drawn from a political manifesto.

Since the 1970s, Indonesian Islam has been stripped of its legendary tolerance toward other faiths by a combination of rapid urbanization, compulsory religious education in government schools, and the efforts of Middle Eastern and homegrown purifiers of the faith. In recent years, this Arabization of Indonesian Islam has gathered pace as globalization has brought the religious and political discourse (often indistinguishable from each other) of Riyadh and Tehran to Jakarta. Reminded daily that they are recipients of God's final revelation, a large minority of Muslims -- perhaps between 10% and 15% -- embrace the fundamentalist notion that the cause of their backwardness lies not in a failure to embrace modernity but in a failure to fully embrace their faith. Many more, while not full-blown fundamentalists themselves, are broadly sympathetic to these ideas.

Indonesia's fundamentalists have shown themselves to be better motivated and better organized than their opponents. Weak or sympathetic politicians (including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono), courts and police allow them to use violence or the threat of violence to control the public square -- by driving Playboy magazine out of Jakarta, or by attacking secular nationalists at a high-profile rally for religious freedom. Meanwhile cultural norms put any public criticism of Islam out of bounds. Hardliners can be chided for distorting the faith, but an unspoken code of self-censorship ensures that no one ever questions the faith itself. The kind of robust debate between believers and unbelievers that marks most democracies is notable for its absence in Indonesia.

To put this in perspective, consider that Indians are free to debate the caste-centered and sexist aspects of Hindu scripture. The Spaniard who believes in contraception and gay rights can flatly declare that he doesn't care what the Bible says or what the Pope thinks. But an Indonesian who publicly expresses similar sentiments about the Quran or the prophet Muhammad immediately invites threats of violence.

This constrained national discourse cedes fundamentalists the moral high ground, a crucial advantage in this battle of ideas. Unless Indonesians can find a way to broaden the debate, to allow purely secular and even antireligious arguments to set up stall in the public square, they should not be surprised to find themselves in a land where clerics set the agenda, both in yoga class and outside it.

Mr. Dhume is a Washington-based writer and the author of "My Friend the Fanatic: Travels With a Radical Islamist" (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2009).

23226  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Nicaragua on: January 28, 2009, 11:58:28 PM
Geopolitical Diary: Nicaragua and the Basis of Ortega's Power
El 28 de enero de 2009

El Presidente nicaragüense Daniel Ortega puede estar enfermo y es considerado confiando mucho en su mujer, Rosario Murillo, informes de noticias que el martes surgido dijo, citando declaraciones de un sacerdote, Ernesto Cardenal. Según Cardenal, Ortega tiene una enfermedad de sangre que requiere él evitar el sol y realizar la mayor parte de sus asuntos de noche. Stratfor no tiene confirmación independiente de esta alegación y no tiene razón verdadera para creer Cardenal, que es un crítico de Ortega. Ciertamente hay las enfermedades (como porfirismo) eso puede causar que sus víctimas eviten el sol. (Casualmente, algunos creen que estas enfermedades pueden haber ocasionado las leyendas de vampiros y hombres lobo).

Típicamente, doblaríamos no tanto como una ceja en noticias de la salud declinante de un líder de un estado como pequeño y estado desesperadamente pobre como Nicaragua — No porque somos despiadados, pero porque individuos pueden raramente tomar medidas que sube al nivel de significado geopolítico. Gran presidentes y los líderes inspiradores son forzados en todo el mundo enormemente por las instituciones que los apoyan, la geografía que los rodea y los recursos que últimamente forman su capacidad para la acción. Sin embargo, hay unas pocas situaciones en las que individuos pueden tomar papeles desproporcionadamente significativos. Y porque Nicaragua – aunque uno de los estados más pobres en el Hemisferio Occidental — Ha servido como una pezonera para el control de América Central desde que su principio, Ortega es un ejemplo que hace al caso.

Estados Unidos ha tomado gran interés en Nicaragua con el paso de los años. En 1912, ocupó el país en el nombre de estabilizar el gobierno allí. EEUU fuerza sacó en 1933 después de años de rebeldes luchadores de Sandinista. Washington entonces apoyó el Somoza el régimen familiar que tuvo el poder de 1936 a 1979. Bajo ese régimen, el Sandinista Frente Nacional de Liberación (FSLN) renovó rebeliones y, dirigido por Ortega, se hizo con el poder finalmente en 1979. El gobierno izquierdista se alió inmediatamente con Cuba y la Unión Soviética. Estados Unidos entonces empezó financiando el “contra” rebelión para desarzonar el Sandinistas. Ellos fueron quitados del poder, pero no por una rebelión: El FSLN fue rechazado en 1990. Se encrespó para enchufar atrás con la reelección de Ortega en 2006 (después de tres ofertas fracasadas). Desde entonces, Ortega ha encarado acusaciones graves, como alegaciones que él persiguió a sus adversarios políticos resultados totales y manipuló de elecciones municipales. El descontento con su regla ha llevado a desestabilizar disturbios en el corazón de Nicaragua, con elementos de profesional-oposición y partidarios de Ortega que chocan violentamente.

Es difícil de decir cómo este período actual de desestabilización jugará fuera, pero hay dos lecciones clave de tomar de esta historia breve. Primero, el país está extraordinariamente prono a períodos de la inestabilidad de guerrillero-dirigió yuxtapuso con períodos del despotismo. El segundo, la posición de Nicaragua en el istmo que separa Norte y Sudamérica crea una amenaza estratégica potencial a Estados Unidos.

En el primer punto, el factor más importante que ha hecho Nicaragua prona a tanto la rebelión como el autoritarismo son su geografía. La mayor parte de la población es concentrada por la costa occidental, donde tierra fértil y lluvia segura compensan las tendencias de la región hacia el volcanismo y terremotos. El territorio restante es dividido entre selvas, las montañas y la Costa caribe de Mosquito. Las tierras vírgenes relativamente vastas del territorio nicaragüense proporcionan suelo fértil para la concepción de movimientos persistentes de guerrillero para desafiar a líderes que bien-atrincheran en Managua. Sin embargo, con la mayor parte de la población concentrada en una pequeña área, es vulnerable a la dominación por cualquiera controlando a gobernante.

De ahí que el líder individual sea mucho más importante en Nicaragua que en muchos otros países. Con muy pocos centros de población para controlar, el país bastante puede ser dominado bien por un solo político. Y Ortega, habiendo vuelto a enchufar, haber utilizado su posición de aprovecharse de aspecto geográfico más pertinente de Nicaragua: la proximidad a Estados Unidos.

Ortega no sólo se ha declarado que un aliado de Rusia por reconocer oficialmente la independencia de escapada las regiones georgianas Abjazia y Ossetia del sur, pero de él también ha dado la bienvenida a Irán en una asociación de trabajo. Y él ha sido implicado a ayudar las Fuerzas armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia. Estas relaciones no podrían ser diseñadas para dar mejor Estados Unidos acidez. Para Rusia, que busca un resurgimiento de bajo nivel de influencia en Iberoamérica por primera vez desde que la Guerra Fría, la asociación con Ortega presta la posibilidad concreta de basar operaciones de inteligencia en la tierra nicaragüensa y el beneficio más político de hacer su presencia sentía en el traspatio de EEUU. Más siniestro, sin embargo, puede ser la relación de Ortega con Irán, que podría dar iraní Apoyó militantes de Hezbolá una base sólida de operaciones en la región. De hecho, Robert Puertas de Ministro de Defensa de EEUU indicaron el martes que Estados Unidos considera a Irán para ser mucha más amenaza en Iberoamérica que Rusia.

Fueron Nicaragua y su geografía situados en otra parte en el mundo, Ortega no tendría la capacidad de ofrecer los servicios de su país a tales aliados internacionales. Pero a causa de la posición del país — la América Central que cabalga — Ortega es posicionado extraordinariamente esgrimir su pequeña influencia con efecto sorprendente.

23227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 28, 2009, 09:18:41 PM
This is a really important question, so lets make sure we aren't missing anything.

a) Concerning the seemingly pertinent example that Huss uses of the House of Saud, as Stratfor commented earlier today (or was it yesterday?) on the intel thread, SA has kicked AQ's ass in SA.  WHY IS THAT?  Once we removed our troops from SA (their presence no longer being necessary to defend it from SH in Iraq) their motivations changed.  WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?

b) As noted in many posts made by several of us, there has been a lot of one handed clapping in support of Hamas/Gaza.  WHY IS THAT?  Indeed, many felt that during Lebanon 2 a lot of the Arab world was silently wishing for Israeli success.  WHY?

c) As noted in the Iraq thread by my friend in Iraq, who originally opposed the decision to go to Iraq, he sees the Iraqis themselves as having rejected the AQ whackos.  WHAT DOES THAT TELL US? 

Capt raises an important question.  Certainly HUSS answered well, but let us be careful that we do not answer too quickly.
23228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 28, 2009, 07:10:15 PM
Looking forward to the conversation on this  cool
23229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / House of Dhimmi Lords on: January 28, 2009, 06:28:45 PM
http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/3765
Muslims in the Lords

From the desk of Thomas Landen on Mon, 2009-01-26 11:16

The House of Lords is a venerable British institution, but what does one get if one accepts Muslims in? This:

A member of the Lords intended to invite her colleagues to a private meeting in a conference room in the House of Lords to meet the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, an elected member of the Dutch parliament, to watch his controversial movie Fitna and discuss the movie and Mr. Wilders’ opinions with him.

Barely had the invitation been sent to all the members of the House when Lord Ahmed raised hell. He threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to prevent Mr. Wilders from entering the House and threatened to take the colleague who was organizing the event to court. The result is that the event, which should have taken place next Thursday was cancelled.

Lord Ahmed immediately went to the Pakistani press to boast about his achievement, which he calls “a victory for the Muslim community.”

A victory for the Muslim community, but a defeat for British democracy where topics to which Muslims object cannot even be debated. That, apparently, is what one gets when one accepts Muslims into the House of Lords.

Lord Ahmed is considered to be a “moderate” Muslim. The Pakistani born Nazir Ahmed became the United Kingdom’s first Muslim life peer in 1998. He is a member of the Labour Party and was appointed to the Lords by Tony Blair. Lord Ahmed took his oath on the Koran. He led one of the first delegations on behalf of the British Government on the Muslim pilgrimage of the Hajj, to Saudi Arabia. In February 2005, Lord Ahmed hosted a book launch in the House of Lords for anti-Zionist author Israel Shamir. In 2007, he responded to the award of a knighthood to Salman Rushdie by stating that he was appalled, saying that Rushdie had “blood on his hands.”

Lord Ahmed was among the founders of The World Forum, an organization set up “to promote world peace in the aftermath of 9/11 with an effort to build bridges of understanding between The Muslim World and the West by reviving a tradition of Dialogue between people, cultures and civilizations based on tolerance.”

What does “dialogue” mean to those who make discussion about controversial issues impossible? Thank you, Mr. Blair, for bringing “diversity” to the House of Lords.
23230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: January 28, 2009, 06:22:56 PM
More on the CIA rape charge:

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=6750266&page=1

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,484487,00.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/01/28/cia.rape.allegations/



Exclusive: CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes
"Ugly American"? Spy Boss Allegedly Drugged Muslim Women, Made Secret Sex Videos

By BRIAN ROSS, KATE McCARTHY, and ANGELA M. HILL
January 28, 2009—

The CIA's station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

The suspect in the case is identified as Andrew Warren in an affidavit for a search warrant filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. by an investigator for the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service.

Click here to read the affidavit.

Watch "World News with Charles Gibson" TONIGHT at 6:30 p.m. ET for the full report.

Officials say the 41-year old Warren, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.

According to the affidavit, the two women "reported the allegations in this affidavit independently of each other."

The affidavit says the first victim says she was raped by Warren in Sept. 2007 after being invited to a party at Warren's residence by U.S. embassy employees.

She told a State Department investigator that after Warren prepared a mixed drink of cola and whiskey, she felt a "violent onset of nausea" and Warren said she should spend the night at his home.

When she woke up the next morning, according to the affidavit, "she was lying on a bed, completely nude, with no memory of how she had been undressed." She said she realized "she recently had engaged in sexual intercourse, though she had no memory of having intercourse."

According to the affidavit, a second alleged victim told a similar story, saying Warren met her at the U.S. embassy and invited her for a "tour of his home" where she said he prepared an apple martini for her "out of her sight."

The second victim said she suddenly felt faint and went to the bathroom where "V2 [victim 2] could see and hear, but she could not move," the affidavit says.

She told investigators Warren "was attempting to remove V2's her pants." The affidavit states, "Warren continued to undress V2, and told her she would feel better after a bath."

Alleged Rape Victims Tell Their Stories to Investigators

The alleged victim said she remembers being in Warren's bed and asking him to stop, but that "Warren made a statement to the effect of 'nobody stays in my expensive sheets with clothes on.'" She told investigators "as she slipped in and out of consciousness she had conscious images of Warren penetrating her vagina repeatedly with his penis."

The second victim told investigators she sent Warren a text message accusing him of abusing her and he replied, "I am sorry," the affidavit says.

According to the affidavit, when Warren was interviewed by Diplomatic Security investigators, he claimed he had "engaged in consensual sexual intercourse" and admitted there were photographs of the two women on his personal laptop. He would not consent to a search or seizure of the computer, leading investigators to seek the warrant.

According to the affidavit, a search of Warren's residence in Algiers turned up Valium and Xanax and a handbook on the investigation of sexual assaults.

The affidavit says toxicologists at the FBI laboratory say Xanax and Valium are among the drugs "commonly used to facilitate sexual assault."

"Drugs commonly referred to as date rape drugs are difficult to detect because the body rapidly metabolizes them," said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant. "Many times women are not aware they were even assaulted until the next day," he said.

The CIA refused to acknowledge the investigation or provide the name of the Algiers station chief, but the CIA Director of Public Affairs, Mark Mansfield, said, "I can assure you that the Agency would take seriously, and follow up on, any allegations of impropriety."

State Departmentt Acting Spokesman Robert Wood issued a statement saying, "The U.S. takes very seriously any accusations of misconduct involving any U.S. personnel abroad. The individual is question has returned to Washington and the U.S. Government is looking into the matter."

U.S. officials were bracing for public reaction in the Muslim world, following the report of the allegation.

"It has the potential to be quite explosive if it's not handled well by the United States government," said Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who specializes in women's issues in the Middle East.

"This isn't the type of thing that's going to be easily pushed under the carpet," she said.

U.S. Officials Say They Found Video Tapes

Both women have reportedly since given sworn statements to federal prosecutors sent from Washington to prepare a possible criminal case against the CIA officer.

Following the initial complaints, U.S. officials say they did obtain a warrant from a federal judge in Washington, D.C. in October to search the station chief's CIA-provided residence in Algiers and turned up the videos that appear to have been secretly recorded and show, they say, Warren engaged in sexual acts.

Officials say one of the alleged victims is seen on tape, in a "semi-conscious state."

The time-stamped date on other tapes led prosecutors to broaden the investigation to Egypt because the date matched a time when Warren was in Cairo, officials said.

As the station chief in Algiers, Warren played an important role in working with the Algerian intelligence services to combat an active al Qaeda wing responsible for a wave of bombings in Algeria.

In the most serious incident, 48 people were killed in a bombing in Aug. 2008 in Algiers, blamed on the al Qaeda group.

The Algerian ambassador to the United Nations, Mourad Benmehid, said his government had not been notified by the U.S. of the rape allegations or the criminal investigation.

Repeated messages left for the Warren with his parents and his sister were not returned.

No charges have been filed, but officials said a grand jury was likely to consider an indictment on sexual assault charges as early as next month.

"This will be seen as the typical ugly American," said former CIA officer Bob Baer, reacting to the ABC News report. "My question is how the CIA would not have picked up on this in their own regular reviews of CIA officers overseas," Baer said.

"From a national security standpoint," said Baer, the alleged rapes would be "not only wrong but could open him up to potential blackmail and that's something the CIA should have picked up on," said Baer. "This is indicative of personnel problems of all sorts that run through the agency," he said.

"Rape is ugly in any context," said Coleman, who praised the bravery of the alleged Algerian victims in going to authorities. "Rape is viewed as very shameful to women, and I think this is an opportunity for the U.S. to show how seriously it takes the issue of rape," she said.

Click Here for the Investigative Homepage.

Copyright © 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures
23231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: January 28, 2009, 05:53:01 PM
Having seen some material coming out of India, I share considerable sympathy with that line of analysis.   

Given our lack of conceptual clarity on the basics and/or even who the players are, are we up to a strategy that essentially calls for the disintegration of the Islamic nuclear state of Pakistan?
23232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The govt is here to help!!! Only $275k per job!!! on: January 28, 2009, 03:53:17 PM
And this from Supply Side Maestro Alan Reynolds:

$646,214 Per Government Job
by Alan Reynolds


Alan Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of Income and Wealth (Greenwood Press, 2006).

Added to cato.org on January 28, 2009

This article appeared in The Wall Street Journal on January 28, 2009.

House Democrats propose to spend $550 billion of their two-year, $825 billion "stimulus bill" (the rest of it being tax cuts). Most of the spending is unlikely to be timely or temporary. Strangely, most of it is targeted toward sectors of the economy where unemployment is the lowest.

The December unemployment rate was only 2.3% for government workers and 3.8% in education and health. Unemployment rates in manufacturing and construction, by contrast, were 8.3% and 15.2% respectively. Yet 39% of the $550 billion in the bill would go to state and local governments. Another 17.3% would go to health and education -- sectors where relatively secure government jobs are also prevalent.


If the intent of the plan is to alleviate unemployment, why spend over half of the money on sectors where unemployment is lowest? Another 22.5% of the $550 billion would go to social programs, such as expanding food stamps and extending benefits for the unemployed and subsidizing their health insurance.

After subtracting what House Democrats hope to spend on government payrolls, health, education and welfare, only a fifth of the original $550 billion is left for notoriously slow infrastructure projects, such as rebuilding highways and the electricity grid.

The Obama administration claims the stimulus bill will "create or save three or four million jobs over the next two years . . . with over 90% [of those jobs] in the private sector." To prove it, they issued a report from Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. Its key estimates, however, were simply lifted from an outdated paper by Mark Zandi of Moody's economy.com.

Mr. Zandi's current estimates have government employment growing by 330,400 over two years as a result of the House bill (compared with 244,000 in Bernstein-Romer paper). Yet even that updated figure still amounts to only 8.3% of total jobs added, even though state and local governments are to receive 39% of the funds ($214.5 billion). Spending $214.5 billion to create or save 330,400 government jobs implies that taxpayers are being asked to spend $646,214 per job.

Does that make sense?

Simulations with his macroeconomic model, according to Mr. Zandi, reveal that "every dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates an estimated $1.63 in near-term GDP." By contrast, such "multipliers" simulate that tax cuts for business or investors would add only 30-38 cents on the dollar.

But econometric models are parables, not facts. The big multipliers for transfer payments and tiny multipliers for capital taxes in Mr. Zandi's model reveal more about the way the model was constructed than about the way the economy works. If model builders make Keynesian assumptions, their model will generate Keynesian results. Yet as Harvard economist Robert Barro recently pointed out on this page, contemporary academic economic research does not support the multipliers used to justify the House stimulus bill.

In the March 2006 IMF Research Bulletin, economist Giovanni Ganelli summarized recent International Monetary Fund research on fiscal policy. Several studies find that reductions in government spending "can have expansionary effects, since they can contribute to a consumption and investment boom owing to altered expectations regarding future taxation."

A 2002 study of U.S. data by Roberto Perotti of Università Bocconi did find that the effect of debt-financed spending increases was somewhat positive, but the multiplier effect was much less than one. A 2004 IMF study of recessions in advanced economies likewise found that "multipliers are unlikely to exceed unity." A 2006 study of U.S. data by IMF economist Magda Kandil found the effect of "fiscal expansion appears insignificant on aggregate demand and economic activity."

In December 2008, the National Bureau of Economic Research published "What are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Shocks?" by Andrew Mountford of the University of London and Harald Uhlig of the University of Chicago. "The best fiscal policy to stimulate the economy," they report, "is a deficit-financed tax cut," and "the long term costs of fiscal expansion through government spending are probably greater than the short term gains."

That's because "government spending shocks crowd out both residential and non-residential investment," while "the [positive] response of consumption is small and only significantly different from zero on impact" (i.e., temporarily). But suppose all of these recent studies were mistaken, and the House Democrats' spending spree worked as advertised. We're still left with three million jobs added or saved at a cost of $825 billion -- $275,000 per job.

In short, a growing body of evidence suggests that a dollar of extra spending is likely to lift nominal income by less than a dollar, arguably much less. Several studies suggest the multiplier may be less than zero after a couple of years, because private investment (including housing) eventually falls by more than government spending rises. Another $550 billion of deficit spending on top of a deficit already above $1 trillion is likely to prove more dangerous than helpful to an economy already overloaded with risky debt.
23233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CATO takes on His Glibness on: January 28, 2009, 03:30:40 PM

Good stuff from CATO:  Speaking Facts and Truth to Power:

http://www.cato.org/fiscalreality
23234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AQ in the Arabian Peninsula on: January 28, 2009, 03:13:16 PM
In the meantime would it make sense to remind folks he was Muslim?

Anyway, not to push this discussion off the radar screen, but adding this just in from Stratfor:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Desperation or New Life?
January 28, 2009




By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Links
The Devolution of Al Qaeda
The media wing of one of al Qaeda’s Yemeni franchises, al Qaeda in Yemen, released a statement on online jihadist forums Jan. 20 from the group’s leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, announcing the formation of a single al Qaeda group for the Arabian Peninsula under his command. According to al-Wuhayshi, the new group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, would consist of his former group (al Qaeda in Yemen) as well as members of the now-defunct Saudi al Qaeda franchise.

The press release noted that the Saudi militants have pledged allegiance to al-Wuhayshi, an indication that the reorganization was not a merger of equals. This is understandable, given that the jihadists in Yemen have been active recently while their Saudi counterparts have not conducted a meaningful attack in years. The announcement also related that a Saudi national (and former Guantanamo detainee) identified as Abu-Sayyaf al-Shihri has been appointed as al-Wuhayshi’s deputy. In some ways, this is similar to the way Ayman al-Zawahiri and his faction of Egyptian Islamic Jihad swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden and were integrated in to al Qaeda prime.

While not specifically mentioned, the announcement of a single al Qaeda entity for the entire Arabian Peninsula and the unanimous support by jihadist militants on the Arabian Peninsula for al-Wuhayshi suggests the new organization will incorporate elements of the other al Qaeda franchise in Yemen, the Yemen Soldiers Brigade.

The announcement also provided links to downloadable versions of the latest issue of the group’s online magazine, Sada al-Malahim, (Arabic for “The Echo of Battle”). The Web page links provided to download the magazine also featured trailers advertising the pending release of a new video from the group, now referred to by its new name, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The translated name of this new organization sounds very similar to the old Saudi al Qaeda franchise, the al Qaeda Organization in the Arabian Peninsula (in Arabic, “Tandheem al Qaeda fi Jazeerat al-Arabiyah”). But the new group’s new Arabic name, Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad fi Jazirat al-Arab, is slightly different. The addition of “al-Jihad” seems to have been influenced by the Iraqi al Qaeda franchise, Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn. The flag of the Islamic State of Iraq also appears in the Jan. 24 video, further illustrating the deep ties between the newly announced organization and al Qaeda in Iraq. Indeed, a number of Yemeni militants traveled to Iraq to fight, and these returning al Qaeda veterans have played a large part in the increased sophistication of militant attacks in Yemen over the past year.

Four days after the Jan. 20 announcement, links for a 19-minute video from the new group titled “We Start from Here and We Will Meet at al-Aqsa” began to appear in jihadist corners of cyberspace. Al-Aqsa refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque on what Jews know as Temple Mount and Muslims refer to as Al Haram Al Sharif. The video threatens Muslim leaders in the region (whom it refers to as criminal tyrants), including Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Saudi royal family, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It also threatens so-called “crusader forces” supporting the regional Muslim leaders, and promises to carry the jihad from the Arabian Peninsula to Israel so as to liberate Muslim holy sites and brethren in Gaza.

An interview with al-Wuhayshi aired Jan. 27 on Al Jazeera echoed these sentiments. During the interview, al-Wuhayshi noted that the “crusades” against “Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia” have been launched from bases in the Arabian Peninsula, and that because of this, “all crusader interests” in the peninsula “should be struck.”

A Different Take on Events
Most of the analysis in Western media regarding the preceding developments has focused on how two former detainees at the U.S. facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appear in the Jan. 24 video — one of whom was al-Shihri — and that both were graduates of Saudi Arabia’s ideological rehabilitation program, a government deprogramming course for jihadists. In addition to al-Shihri who, according to the video was Guantanamo detainee 372, the video also contains a statement from Abu-al-Harith Muhammad al-Awfi. Al-Awfi, who was identified as a field commander in the video, was allegedly former Guantanamo detainee 333. Prisoner lists from Guantanamo obtained by Stratfor appear to confirm that al-Shihri was in fact Guantanamo detainee No. 372. We did not find al-Awfi’s name on the list, however, another name appears as detainee No. 333. Given the proclivity of jihadists to use fraudulent identities, it is entirely possible that al-Awfi is an alias, or that he was held at Guantanamo under an assumed name. At any rate, we doubt al-Awfi would fabricate this claim and then broadcast it in such a public manner.

The media focus on the Guantanamo aspect is understandable in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Jan. 22 executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and all the complexities surrounding that decision. Clearly, some men released from Guantanamo, and even those graduated from the Saudi government’s rehabilitation program, can and have returned to the jihadist fold. Ideology is hard to extinguish, especially an ideology that teaches adherents that there is a war against Islam and that the “true believers” will be persecuted for their beliefs. Al Qaeda has even taken this one step further and has worked to prepare its members not only to face death, but also to endure imprisonment and harsh interrogation. A substantial number of al Qaeda cadres, such as al-Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al-Libi, have endured both, and have been instrumental in helping members withstand captivity and interrogation.

This physical and ideological preparation means that efforts to induce captured militants to abandon their ideology can wind up reinforcing that ideology when those efforts appear to prove important tenets of the ideology, such as that adherents will be persecuted and that the Muslim rulers are aligned with the West. It is also important to realize that radical Islamist extremists, ultraconservatives and traditionalists tend to have a far better grasp of Islamic religious texts than their moderate, liberal and modernist counterparts. Hence, they have an edge over them on the ideological battlefield. Those opposing radicals and extremists have a long way to go before they can produce a coherent legitimate, authoritative and authentic alternative Islamic discourse.

In any event, in practical terms there is no system of “re-education” that is 100 percent effective in eradicating an ideology in humans except execution. There will always be people who will figure out how to game the system and regurgitate whatever is necessary to placate their jailers so as to win release. Because of this, it is not surprising to see people like al-Shihri and al-Awfi released only to re-emerge in their former molds.

Another remarkable feature of the Jan. 27 video is that it showcased four different leaders of the regional group, something rarely seen. In addition to al-Wuhayshi, al-Shihri and al-Awfi, the video also included a statement from Qasim al-Rami, who is suspected of having been involved with the operational planning of the suicide attack on a group of Spanish tourists in Marib, Yemen, in July 2007.

In our estimation, however, perhaps the most remarkable feature about these recent statements from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is not the appearance of these two former Guantanamo detainees in the video, or the appearance of four distinct leaders of the group in a single video, but rather what the statements tell us about the state of the al Qaeda franchises in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Signposts
That the remnants of the Saudi al Qaeda franchise have been forced to flee their country and join up with the Yemeni group demonstrates that the Saudi government’s campaign to eradicate the jihadist organization has been very successful. The Saudi franchise was very active in 2003 and 2004, but has not attempted a significant attack since the February 2006 attack against the oil facility in Abqaiq. In spite of the large number of Saudi fighters who have traveled to militant training camps, and to fight in places such as Iraq, the Saudi franchise has had significant problems organizing operational cells inside the kingdom. Additionally, since the death of Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the Saudi franchise has struggled to find a charismatic and savvy leader. (The Saudis have killed several leaders who succeeded al-Muqrin.) In a militant organization conducting an insurgency or terrorist operations, leadership is critical not only to the operational success of the group but also to its ability to recruit new members, raise funding and acquire resources such as weapons.

Like the Saudi node, the fortunes of other al Qaeda regional franchises have risen or fallen based upon ability of the franchise’s leadership. For example, in August 2006 al Qaeda announced with great fanfare that the Egyptian militant group Gamaah al-Islamiyah (GAI) had joined forces with al Qaeda. Likewise, in November 2007 al Qaeda announced that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) had formally joined the al Qaeda network. But neither of these groups really ever got off the ground. While a large portion of the responsibility for the groups’ lack of success may be due to the oppressive natures of the Egyptian and Libyan governments and the aggressive efforts those governments undertook to control the new al Qaeda franchises, we believe the lack of success also stems from poor leadership. (There are certainly other significant factors contributing to the failure of al Qaeda nodes in various places, such as the alienation of the local population.)

Conversely, we believe that an important reason for the resurgence of the al Qaeda franchise in Yemen has been the leadership of al-Wuhayshi. As we have noted in the past, Yemen is a much easier environment for militants to operate in than either Egypt or Libya. There are many Salafists employed in the Yemeni security and intelligence apparatus who at the very least are sympathetic to the jihadist cause. These men are holdovers from the Yemeni civil war, when Saleh formed an alliance with Salafists and recruited jihadists to fight Marxist forces in South Yemen. This alliance continues today, with Saleh deriving significant political support from radical Islamists. Many of the state’s key institutions (including the military) employ Salafists, making any major crackdown on militant Islamists in the country politically difficult. This sentiment among the security forces also helps explain the many jihadists who have escaped from Yemeni prisons — such as al-Wuhayshi.

Yemen has also long been at the crossroads of a number of jihadist theaters, including Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Levant, Egypt and Somalia. Yemen also is a country with a thriving arms market, a desert warrior tradition and a tribal culture that often bridles against government authority and that makes it difficult for the government to assert control over large swaths of the country. Yemeni tribesmen also tend to be religiously conservative and susceptible to the influence of jihadist theology.

In spite of this favorable environment, the Yemeni al Qaeda franchise has largely floundered since 9/11. Much of this is due to U.S. and Yemeni efforts to decapitate the group, such as the strike by a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle on then-leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu Ali al-Harithi, in late 2002 and the subsequent arrest of his replacement, Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal, in late 2003. The combination of these operations in such a short period helped cripple al Qaeda in Yemen’s operational capability.

As Stratfor noted in spring 2008, however, al Qaeda militants in Yemen have become more active and more effective under the leadership of al-Wuhayshi, an ethnic Yemeni who spent time in Afghanistan as a lieutenant under bin Laden. After his time with bin Laden, Iranian authorities arrested al-Wuhayshi, later returning him to Yemen in 2003 via an Iranian-Yemeni extradition deal. He subsequently escaped from a high-security prison outside the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, in February 2006 along with Jamal al-Badawi (the leader of the cell that carried out the suicide bombing of the USS Cole).

Al-Wuhayshi’s established ties with al Qaeda prime and bin Laden in particular not only provide him legitimacy in the eyes of other jihadists, in more practical terms, they may have provided him the opportunity to learn the tradecraft necessary to successfully lead a militant group and conduct operations. His close ties to influential veterans of al Qaeda in Yemen like al-Badawi also may have helped him infuse new energy into the struggle in Yemen in 2008.

While the group had been on a rising trajectory in 2008, things had been eerily quiet in Yemen since the Sept. 17, 2008, attack against the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and the resulting campaign against the group. The recent flurry of statements has broken the quiet, followed by a Warden Message on Jan. 26 warning of a possible threat against the compound of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and a firefight at a security checkpoint near the embassy hours later.

At this point, it appears the shooting incident may not be related to the threat warning and may instead have been the result of jumpy nerves. Reports suggest the police may have fired at a speeding car before the occupants, who were armed tribesmen, fired back. Although there have been efforts to crack down on the carrying of weapons in Sanaa, virtually every Yemeni male owns an AK-variant assault rifle of some sort; like the ceremonial jambiya dagger, such a rifle is considered a must-have accessory in most parts of the country. Not surprisingly, incidents involving gunfire are not uncommon in Yemen.

Either way, we will continue to keep a close eye on Yemen and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. As we have seen in the past, press statements are not necessarily indicative of future jihadist performance. It will be important to watch developments in Yemen for signs that will help determine whether this recent merger and announcement is a sign of desperation by a declining group, or whether the addition of fresh blood from Saudi Arabia will help breathe new life into al-Wuhayshi’s operations and provide his group the means to make good on its threats.
23235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 28, 2009, 03:12:01 PM
Fair enough cheesy

The point I am trying to raise though, and lets use the Lebanese invasion of a year or so ago as an example, is the possibility that this approach simply innoculates/immunizes the enemy.

When Israel went into Lebanon it had as green a light as I can remember from the US govt.  I was praying for Israel to go all the way through the Bekkaa Valley (sp?) and clean out that nest of vipers for once and for all.  Instead, having triggered the regretable civilian casualites, you guys quit before you finished.

Net result: Hez gets bragging rights AND doubles/triples the number of missiles it has.

Arguably a similar dynamic in play now with Gaza-- except that Iran now has fronts on both your north and south borders.  As soon as they can reach your nuclear reactor, what happens to your Osirak option for Iran's incipient nukes?

PS:  My apologies for President Bush vetoing your request to go after Iran.  I fear this was a historic error.
23236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CIA chief, convert to Islam, allegedly raped drugged women on: January 28, 2009, 02:16:46 PM
Exclusive: CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes

"Ugly American"? Spy Boss Allegedly Drugged Muslim Women, Made Secret Sex Videos

By BRIAN ROSS, KATE McCARTHY, and ANGELA M. HILL
January 28, 2009—


The CIA's station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

Officials say the 41-year old CIA officer, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.



The discovery of more than a dozen videotapes showing the CIA officer engaged in sex acts with other women has led the Justice Department to broaden its investigation to include at least one other Arab country, Egypt, where the CIA officer had been posted earlier in his career, according to law enforcement officials.

The U.S. State Department referred questions to the Department of Justice, which declined to comment.

"It has the potential to be quite explosive if it's not handled well by the United States government," said Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who specializes in women's issues in the Middle East.

"This isn't the type of thing that's going to be easily pushed under the carpet," she said.

The CIA refused to acknowledge the investigation or provide the name of the Algiers station chief, but the CIA Director of Public Affairs, Mark Mansfield, said, "I can assure you that the Agency would take seriously, and follow up on, any allegations of impropriety."

It can be a crime for government officials to reveal the identity of a current covert intelligence officer, and CIA officials would not comment the status of the person under investigation.

One of the alleged victims reportedly said she met the CIA officer at a bar in the U.S. embassy and then was taken to his official station chief residence where she said the sexual assault took place.

The second alleged victim reportedly told U.S. prosecutors that, in a separate incident, she also was drugged at the American's official residence before being sexually assaulted.

Both women have reportedly given sworn statements to federal prosecutors sent from Washington to prepare a possible criminal case against the CIA officer.

Following the initial complaints, U.S. officials say they obtained a warrant from a federal judge in Washington, D.C. in October to search the station chief's CIA-provided residence in Algiers and turned up the videos that appear to have been secretly recorded and show, they say, the CIA officer engaged in sexual acts.

Officials say one of the alleged victims is seen on tape, in a "semi-conscious state."

The time-stamped date on other tapes led prosecutors to broaden the investigation to Egypt because the date matched a time when CIA officer was in Cairo, officials said.

Pills found in the CIA residence were sent to the FBI crime laboratory for testing, according to officials involved in the case.

"Drugs commonly referred to as date rape drugs are difficult to detect because the body rapidly metabolizes them," said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant. "Many times women are not aware they were even assaulted until the next day," he said.

A third woman, a friend of one of the alleged victims, reportedly provided a cell phone video that showed her friend having a drink and dancing inside the CIA station chief's residence in Algiers, which officials told ABC News provided corroboration the CIA officer had indeed brought the woman to his residence.

The officer in charge of the CIA station in Algiers plays an important role in working with the Algerian intelligence services to combat an active al Qaeda wing responsible for a wave of bombings in Algeria.

In the most serious incident, 48 people were killed in a bombing in August, 2008 in Algiers, blamed on the al Qaeda group.

The Algerian ambassador to the United Nations, Mourad Benmehid, said his government had not been notified by the U.S. of the rape allegations or the criminal investigation.

Repeated messages left for the CIA officer with his parents and his sister were not returned.

No charges have been filed but officials said a grand jury was likely to consider an indictment on sexual assault charges as early as next month.

"This will be seen as the typical ugly American," said former CIA officer Bob Baer, reacting to the ABC News report. "My question is how the CIA would not have picked up on this in their own regular reviews of CIA officers overseas," Baer said.

"From a national security standpoint," said Baer, the alleged rapes would be "not only wrong but could open him up to potential blackmail and that's something the CIA should have picked up on," said Baer. "This is indicative of personnel problems of all sorts that run through the agency," he said.

"Rape is ugly in any context," said Coleman who praised the bravery of the alleged Algerian victims in going to authorities. "Rape is viewed as very shameful to women, and I think this is an opportunity for the US to show how seriously it takes the issue of rape," she said.

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=6750266&page=1
23237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NYT: Dirt is good on: January 28, 2009, 02:07:18 PM
Personal Health
Babies Know: A Little Dirt Is Good for You
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By JANE E. BRODY
Published: January 26, 2009

Ask mothers why babies are constantly picking things up from the floor or ground and putting them in their mouths, and chances are they’ll say that it’s instinctive — that that’s how babies explore the world. But why the mouth, when sight, hearing, touch and even scent are far better at identifying things?

When my young sons were exploring the streets of Brooklyn, I couldn’t help but wonder how good crushed rock or dried dog droppings could taste when delicious mashed potatoes were routinely rejected.

Since all instinctive behaviors have an evolutionary advantage or they would not have been retained for millions of years, chances are that this one too has helped us survive as a species. And, indeed, accumulating evidence strongly suggests that eating dirt is good for you.

In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system. Several continuing studies suggest that worms may help to redirect an immune system that has gone awry and resulted in autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma.

These studies, along with epidemiological observations, seem to explain why immune system disorders like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and allergies have risen significantly in the United States and other developed countries.

Training the Immune System

“What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment,” Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her new book, “Why Dirt Is Good” (Kaplan). “Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.”

One leading researcher, Dr. Joel V. Weinstock, the director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said in an interview that the immune system at birth “is like an unprogrammed computer. It needs instruction.”

He said that public health measures like cleaning up contaminated water and food have saved the lives of countless children, but they “also eliminated exposure to many organisms that are probably good for us.”

“Children raised in an ultraclean environment,” he added, “are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.”

Studies he has conducted with Dr. David Elliott, a gastroenterologist and immunologist at the University of Iowa, indicate that intestinal worms, which have been all but eliminated in developed countries, are “likely to be the biggest player” in regulating the immune system to respond appropriately, Dr. Elliott said in an interview. He added that bacterial and viral infections seem to influence the immune system in the same way, but not as forcefully.

Most worms are harmless, especially in well-nourished people, Dr. Weinstock said.

“There are very few diseases that people get from worms,” he said. “Humans have adapted to the presence of most of them.”

Worms for Health

In studies in mice, Dr. Weinstock and Dr. Elliott have used worms to both prevent and reverse autoimmune disease. Dr. Elliott said that in Argentina, researchers found that patients with multiple sclerosis who were infected with the human whipworm had milder cases and fewer flare-ups of their disease over a period of four and a half years. At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dr. John Fleming, a neurologist, is testing whether the pig whipworm can temper the effects of multiple sclerosis.

In Gambia, the eradication of worms in some villages led to children’s having increased skin reactions to allergens, Dr. Elliott said. And pig whipworms, which reside only briefly in the human intestinal tract, have had “good effects” in treating the inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, he said.

How may worms affect the immune system? Dr. Elliott explained that immune regulation is now known to be more complex than scientists thought when the hygiene hypothesis was first introduced by a British epidemiologist, David P. Strachan, in 1989. Dr. Strachan noted an association between large family size and reduced rates of asthma and allergies. Immunologists now recognize a four-point response system of helper T cells: Th 1, Th 2, Th 17 and regulatory T cells. Th 1 inhibits Th 2 and Th 17; Th 2 inhibits Th 1 and Th 17; and regulatory T cells inhibit all three, Dr. Elliott said.

“A lot of inflammatory diseases — multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and asthma — are due to the activity of Th 17,” he explained. “If you infect mice with worms, Th 17 drops dramatically, and the activity of regulatory T cells is augmented.”

In answer to the question, “Are we too clean?” Dr. Elliott said: “Dirtiness comes with a price. But cleanliness comes with a price, too. We’re not proposing a return to the germ-filled environment of the 1850s. But if we properly understand how organisms in the environment protect us, maybe we can give a vaccine or mimic their effects with some innocuous stimulus.”

Wash in Moderation

Dr. Ruebush, the “Why Dirt Is Good” author, does not suggest a return to filth, either. But she correctly points out that bacteria are everywhere: on us, in us and all around us. Most of these micro-organisms cause no problem, and many, like the ones that normally live in the digestive tract and produce life-sustaining nutrients, are essential to good health.

“The typical human probably harbors some 90 trillion microbes,” she wrote. “The very fact that you have so many microbes of so many different kinds is what keeps you healthy most of the time.”

Dr. Ruebush deplores the current fetish for the hundreds of antibacterial products that convey a false sense of security and may actually foster the development of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria. Plain soap and water are all that are needed to become clean, she noted.

“I certainly recommend washing your hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after changing a diaper, before and after handling food,” and whenever they’re visibly soiled, she wrote. When no running water is available and cleaning hands is essential, she suggests an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Dr. Weinstock goes even further. “Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat,” he said. He and Dr. Elliott pointed out that children who grow up on farms and are frequently exposed to worms and other organisms from farm animals are much less likely to develop allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Also helpful, he said, is to “let kids have two dogs and a cat,” which will expose them to intestinal worms that can promote a healthy immune system.
23238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: January 28, 2009, 02:01:53 PM
How do you think/feel that approach is working for you?
23239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO and so called "Fair Pay" on: January 28, 2009, 01:59:35 PM
This editorial from today's NY Slimes.  Some things BO said on the campaign trail in this regard got my spider sense tingling-- and unless I miss my guess this is an absolutely Orwellian Liberal Fascist play to get the government, particularly the courts, in the business of determining the comparative pay for different lines of work because some lines of work are more male or more female.

Lets keep our eye out for this one!

=========

Editorial
Progress on Fair Pay

Published: January 27, 2009
Congress has given a significant boost to civil rights by approving legislation to overturn a notorious 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it much harder for employees to challenge unlawful pay discrimination based on gender, race, age and disability. Following its passage with a final House vote on Tuesday, the measure goes to the White House where President Obama is expected to sign it this week.

The 5-to-4 decision involved Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Alabama. She received much smaller raises over several years than men in comparable positions. Overriding longstanding legal precedents and government practice, the court’s conservative majority decided she was entitled to nothing. In doing so, it imposed an unrealistic deadline for filing claims that rewarded employers who successfully disguise their discriminatory pay actions.

After signing the corrective measure, Mr. Obama ought to press Congress to continue the fight for equal pay for equal work by passing a second bill — the Paycheck Fairness Act — that would further strengthen current laws against gender-based wage discrimination. Among other things, this bill, which Mr. Obama co-sponsored while in the Senate, would make stronger remedies available under the existing Equal Pay Act; ensure that courts require employers to show that wage disparities are job-related, not sex-based, and consistent with business needs; and protect employees who discuss salary information from retaliation. 

These changes may not please some business interests. But women still make, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men for performing substantially the same work. To narrow that yawning wage gap, tighter rules are plainly in order.  (actually once the numbers are screened for age variables, this 78 cents number is horse excrement-- Marc)

The House, to its credit, passed both bills. But Democratic leaders in the Senate peeled off the Paycheck Fairness Act after determining that pairing the two measures could jeopardize the chamber’s approval of the more familiar Ledbetter bill.

The new president can play a useful role in helping to rally Senate Democrats not to rest on their Ledbetter laurels and to persuade Republicans to come on board. In the House, only three Republicans voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In the Senate, five did. By now, Republican opposition to civil rights and pay equity is not surprising. That makes it all the sadder.
23240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Iraqi journalists: free press and free land on: January 28, 2009, 01:48:59 PM
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
Published: January 27, 2009
BAGHDAD — At a recent meeting with the Iraqi journalists’ union, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki made a pledge that would have scandalized the Iraqis’ American counterparts: the government would give plots of land to thousands of journalists, for a nominal price or possibly even free.

A campaign sign for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq. Mr. Maliki has pledged to give plots of land to journalists.
His timing, a month before provincial elections, as well as his admonition to journalists to focus on stories of progress and reconstruction, might be seen as an attempt to buy favorable news coverage.

But if it was, there were few objections from the journalists, who have been demanding the land giveaway for years.

“The resolution of distributing lands to journalists is part of several rights that the journalists should have,” said Moaid Allami, the president of the union. “These are social and legal rights to the citizen, to the journalist citizen.”

More than just free elections, policy analysts often say, democracy requires democratic civil institutions like a free press. But the popularity of the land-for-journalists program illustrates the challenges newfound democratic principles face when they clash with entitlements and cozy relationships that no one ever questioned before.

The government has been pledging to give land to journalists for years, and there are doubts as to when or whether it will really happen. Yassin Majeed, a government spokesman, said that the process was going forward and that the current plan was to offer plots all over the country to as many journalists in the union as possible.

But there are few doubts among journalists that they deserve it.

Mr. Allami, whose union represents 10,000 employees of state, party and independently owned media, said journalists were entitled to the state’s support given the hardships they faced in the line of duty. For six years running, Iraq has been declared the most dangerous place in the world for journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since the American-led invasion in 2003, 114 Iraqi journalists have been killed, the organization reports, victims of cross-fire, bombings or assassination.

Local press organizations say the number is much higher.

Shihab al-Tamimi, the former president of the union, was shot and killed in his car last February, and Mr. Allami was wounded in a bomb blast outside the union’s headquarters in September.

Before the American invasion, all journalists worked for the government and, like other government-employed professionals, including doctors and teachers, they were well paid and had secure jobs, pensions and other benefits.

But since then, the media have been largely privatized, and those benefits have disappeared. The vast majority of Iraqi reporters are paid salaries too low for them to accrue any savings. And unlike state employees, they have little job security and no health insurance, life insurance or pensions.

The journalists’ union has sought compensation in another program from the era of Saddam Hussein’s government: land patronage. For decades, land was given to soldiers, officers and favored government employees. The union has also asked for pensions, as well as reduced fares for journalists on the state-owned airline.

“Support from the government is not a right, but it’s a necessity,” said Maher Faisal, the managing editor of the independent newspaper Addustour. “The media and journalists have been marginalized in this country.”

Mr. Faisal said he hoped that the deal was not politically motivated. “But,” he said, “journalists need to eat.”

A few journalists, however, are worried about a different kind of survival — that of Iraq’s nascent free press.

Hadi Jalow Merei, a writer for the newspaper Azzaman, said the land distribution plan “would open the door to government interference.”

Ziad al-Ajili, the manager of a Baghdad-based advocacy group, Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, said of the land giveaway: “I would not take it even if I have to live in a tent. As soon as you do, it will be the end of Iraq’s independent journalism.”

He acknowledges the difficulties Iraqi journalists face; his organization keeps a tally of arrests, killings and beatings of journalists, as well as government violations of press freedoms. But the best way to address these problems, he said, is through more journalism, not government handouts.

“They’re not thinking about the future,” he said of his colleagues. “If they think about the future as independent journalists, we can do lots of things.”

===================
(Page 2 of 2)



Under Mr. Hussein, journalists walked a fine line. Those who went too far in their reporting were often arrested and tortured. But Mr. Hussein, whose son Uday was president of the journalists’ union, knew how to use the carrot, too.

Reporters who worked during those years said they were granted leeway to criticize government officials as long as Saddam Hussein, his sons and his special interests were left untouched. Those favored by Mr. Hussein were showered with money, cars and land.

Since his government was toppled in 2003, private news outlets have proliferated, some independent and many affiliated with political parties. A free press was enshrined in Iraq’s new Constitution, which guarantees the right “as long as it does not violate public order and morality.” Laws criminalizing certain types of speech have curtailed that right somewhat.

But the new authorities sometimes acted like the old ones. An American public relations firm hired by the Pentagon paid Iraqi journalists for favorable coverage. Both the American-led coalition and the Iraqi government have closed news outlets and arrested journalists, often without charge or on vague accusations of supporting terrorism.

Last year, Iraq ranked 158th out of 173 countries in the Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, a media watchdog group.

But the old habits die hard for journalists, too.

“The union is still begging from the powerful and working hard to satisfy the government,” said Sadiq al-Moussaoui, who runs the Waael news agency. “When the politicians start becoming afraid of us, that will mean we are real journalists.”

But Mr. Majeed, the government spokesman, insisted that a simple benefit program did not mean that the government expected anything in return. Nor was Mr. Allami, the union president, concerned that the program could appear to compromise journalists’ integrity.

“I’m not afraid about the credibility of the journalism in Iraq after these resolutions,” he said. “On the contrary, I’m afraid of the government if we say something or write something honest against them in the future. They may take away our rights if we criticize them at some point. But once we get the lands and those lands are registered in our names, they aren’t going to be able to take them away.”
23241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 28, 2009, 11:49:37 AM
Did anyone not Sec Def Gates's comments on Afg yesterday?  It read to me like he has been reading Stratfor.

Any comments? 

Also note the following from today's NY Slimes-- are BO's anonymous aides saying the same thing as Sec Def?  Are they channeling our Freki (or did he read this article before posting?  cheesy )

========================
Aides Say Obama’s Afghan Aims Elevate War
HELENE COOPER and THOM SHANKER
Published: January 27, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Obama intends to adopt a tougher line toward Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, as part of a new American approach to Afghanistan that will put more emphasis on waging war than on development, senior administration officials said Tuesday.

American soldiers conducted an operation along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan last month. The Obama administration says it plans to send more troops to fight in Afghanistan this year.


President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan can expect a tougher line from the Obama administration, American officials said.
Mr. Karzai is now seen as a potential impediment to American goals in Afghanistan, the officials said, because corruption has become rampant in his government, contributing to a flourishing drug trade and the resurgence of the Taliban.

"The president has recently asked for a comprehensive review of Afghanistan policy, and no final decisions have been made," Michael A. Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, said Wednesday.

Among those pressing for Mr. Karzai to do more, the officials said, are Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Richard C. Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The officials portrayed the approach as a departure from that of President Bush, who held videoconferences with Mr. Karzai every two weeks and sought to emphasize the American role in rebuilding Afghanistan and its civil institutions.

They said that the Obama administration would work with provincial leaders as an alternative to the central government, and that it would leave economic development and nation-building increasingly to European allies, so that American forces could focus on the fight against insurgents.

“If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who served under Mr. Bush and is staying on under Mr. Obama, told Congress on Tuesday. He said there was not enough “time, patience or money” to pursue overly ambitious goals in Afghanistan, and he called the war there “our greatest military challenge.”

Mr. Gates said last week that previous American goals for Afghanistan had been “too broad and too far into the future,” language that differed from Mr. Bush’s policies.

NATO has not met its pledges for combat troops, transport helicopters, military trainers and other support personnel in Afghanistan, and Mr. Gates has openly criticized the United States’ NATO allies for not fulfilling their promises.

Mr. Holbrooke is preparing to travel to the region, and administration officials said he would ask more of Mr. Karzai, particularly on fighting corruption, aides said, as part of what they described as a “more for more” approach.

Mr. Karzai is facing re-election this year, and it is not clear whether Mr. Obama and his aides intend to support his candidacy. The administration will be watching, aides said, to see if Mr. Karzai responds to demands from the United States and its NATO allies that he arrest associates, including his half-brother, whom Western officials have accused of smuggling drugs in Kandahar.

Shortly before taking office as vice president last week, Mr. Biden traveled to Afghanistan in his role as the departing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He met with Mr. Karzai and warned him that the Obama administration would expect more of him than Mr. Bush did, administration officials said. He told Mr. Karzai that Mr. Obama would be discontinuing the video calls that Mr. Karzai enjoyed with Mr. Bush, said a senior official, who added that Mr. Obama expected Mr. Karzai to do more to crack down on corruption.

After his return from Afghanistan, Mr. Biden, who has had a contentious relationship with Mr. Karzai, described the situation there as “a real mess.”

An election is scheduled to be held no later than the fall, under Afghanistan’s Constitution. Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-American who is a former United States ambassador to the United Nations and is viewed as a possible challenger to Mr. Karzai, warned that the Obama administration must tread carefully as it recalibrated its Afghanistan policy.

“If it looks like we’re abandoning the central government and focusing just on the local areas, we will run afoul of Afghan politics,” Mr. Khalilzad said. “Some will regard it as an effort to break up the Afghan state, which would be regarded as hostile policy.”

Mr. Obama is preparing to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan over the next two years, perhaps to more than 60,000 from about 34,000 now. But Mr. Gates indicated Tuesday that the administration would move slowly, at least for now. He outlined plans for an increase of about 12,000 troops by midsummer but cautioned that any decision on more troops beyond that might have to wait until late 2009, given the need for barracks and other infrastructure.

With the forces of the Taliban and Al Qaeda mounting more aggressive operations in eastern and southern Afghanistan, administration officials said they saw little option but to focus on the military campaign. They said Europeans would be asked to pick up more of the work on reconstruction, police training and cooperation with the Afghan government. They also said much of the international effort might shift to helping local governments and institutions, and away from the government in Kabul.

“It’s not about dumping reconstruction at all,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic delicacy of the subject. “What we’re trying to do is to focus on the Al Qaeda problem. That has to be our first priority.”

Mr. Gates said Tuesday that under the redefined Afghan strategy, it would be vital for NATO allies to “provide more civilian support.” In particular, he said, the allies should be more responsible for building civil society institutions in Afghanistan, a task that had been falling to American forces. He also demanded that allies “step up to the plate” and defray costs of expanding the Afghan Army, an emerging power center, whose leaders could emerge as rivals to Mr. Karzai.

Mr. Gates added that the United States should focus on limited goals. “My own personal view is that our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to attack the United States and our allies, and whatever else we need to do flows from that objective,” he said.
23242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Russian POV on: January 28, 2009, 11:40:29 AM
What follows is quite a bit different from our usual fare here-- but then our mission is to Search for Truth.  Not saying this piece doesn't have deception, misdirection, and outright lies too, but I do find it interesting.  Comments?
===============

http://www.russiatoday.com/guests/detail/1801


Dmitry Rogozin

American missiles to be deployed in Poland are capable of hitting Moscow in just four minutes, which makes them totally provocative weapons, says Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin.

Dmitry Rogozin: I was a State Duma deputy for 11 years. I know very well the work of parliamentarians in the West. In the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, I was the leader of a political group. What is going on in the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO is something quite uncommon and not customary for western parliamentarianism. Usually, they try to invite both sides to discussions, even if it’s just for the sake of appearances. They might have concealed some aspects while emphasizing others, but flatly declining the presence of an official Russian representative at a discussion with Saakashvili on a matter they call the “Russian-Georgian conflict” is just plain wrong. This is why I considered it impossible to accept the invitation to attend the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Valencia. In turn, I invited leaders of national delegations to the Assembly to our mission in Brussels. We’ll talk there.

Sometimes I get the impression that we and they live on different planets. At first, even before the dust had settled after the bombing of Tskhinval, we heard “It does not matter who attacked whom”. I wish they had tried to tell the same to the U.S. after 9/11.

A while later, when human rights activists such as Human Rights Watch started reporting military crimes, our Western counterparts slowly began to change their point of view. But even that is admitted only in their internal discussions, while they keep telling us that Russia’s intrusion in Georgia is unacceptable, as is Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

It’s a Biblical situation: they are looking at a splinter in our eye while refusing to notice the log in theirs.

Frankly, I don’t believe it. We’ve discussed it repeatedly with many influential European politicians, and the picture looks as follows: Europe is a neighbor of Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia. Imagine that you live in an apartment next to a Ukrainian flat, where a girl called Yulia is running back and forth, yelling and shouting, between two men named Viktor. It’s a Brazilian soap opera, the several-hundredth episode of it.

In another apartment, an insane maniac is running around with a knife, threatening to stab everyone he sees. That’s the Georgian apartment. Hearing all this racket from behind a wall is one thing; breaking down the wall between apartments and inviting everyone to your place is quite different. There are different people in Europe, but they are not crazy, especially the politicians. I doubt they will take any such steps.

It is clear that neither Albania, nor Croatia, nor Macedonia, nor Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor Ukraine, nor Georgia can be considered powers in a military sense. Their military potential is zero. It’s even lower than that, I would say. So it’s not about acquiring valuable military allies, it’s purely a political matter. As the westerners themselves admit, it’s a matter of a new political identity for the newly admitted countries. And this is the anti-Russian thing. This is why, when anybody in the Ukraine tries to change identity, to change Ukraine’s historical choice, or, to put it simply, to tear Ukraine away from Russia, we are anxious. How else should we feel when there are so many ties with Russia? 40% of Russian families have immediate relatives in Ukraine, and 80% of Ukrainian families have relatives in Russia. This connection is impossible to break up. This is why such plans should be viewed as breakaway and aimed against Russia.

The same is true about Georgia. You see, guys like Saakashvili come and go, but there is still a history of relationships between our two countries, and it is far richer than what has happened over the last few years. Again, this breaking away from Russia is a strange attempt to legalise Georgia’s territorial gains in the form of Abkhazia and Ossetia, which were never part of the state of Georgia. I think that all this is just an attempt to isolate the Russian bear, to force it into its lair. There is one problem, though, and every hunter knows that. You can hunt a bear down, you can badger it, but it’s dangerous to come close to it. Therefore, NATO closing in on Russia is dangerous: any hunter can tell you that.

The chances are pretty low so far. It’s due to the inertia of the Cold War mentality. In general, what Russia is suggesting is very good. We suggest principles that are really hard to object to. Who is going to deny that security should be equal, indispensable and indivisible for all? Who could be against demilitarizing the entire centre of the European continent using military force solely to defend our common borders in the Pacific area? Who could be against ruling out military planning, especially nuclear planning, against each other? These things are totally reasonable; it’s a new world outlook. It’s a new vision of collective security for everyone. Therefore, what Medvedev is offering is hardly questionable.

The problem is a different matter altogether. The problem is that employees of all international organizations think, “What’s going to happen to me personally?” I refer to employees of the NATO Secretariat, employees of the European Commission, and employees of the OSCE headquarters in Vienna - they all think this. “Will I keep getting my several-thousand-euro paycheck if that Medvedev guy realizes his concept?” They are afraid that a moment will come when people will simply sweep those lardy European bureaucrats out of their cozy seats. It’s that selfish, small-minded, paltry psychology of Euro-Atlantic bureaucrats that can ruin such a great initiative. Well, I still believe this concept will win through sooner or later.

For example, what they are discussing now is the unacceptability of Russia’s plan to deploy its Iskander missile systems in the Kaliningrad Region. As for the fact that the U.S. has already began deploying its launch systems in Poland and is about to press the Czechs into approving the deployment of a radar station there, nobody in Europe seems to care about that. Everybody would rather believe the fairy-tales of bad Iranian guys or some Bin Laden having snatched a missile somewhere and running around with it, preparing to fire it at the civilized European world. This is rubbish. Nobody can steal a strategic missile. No Bin Laden can do that. But nevertheless, since this myth is being touted by America, Europe prefers to stay silent. That flaccid, spineless reaction of Europe to America’s actions and to Russia’s responses to them only proves one thing: Europe still doesn’t have its own political face. It’s wealthy, but politically spineless. It’s like a big, thick, but very flexible, pencil.

Let’s just hope Russia’s deployment of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad will influence Europe’s attitude towards America’s missile defence plans. For us, it is important to have the military means to counterbalance those plans, which indeed threaten our security. You see, the thing is that the American missiles to be deployed in Poland can be used in several ways. They can not only shoot down descending ballistic missiles, but they can also engage surface targets. That is, they can be fired at Moscow from Poland, and they are so quick and accurate that a missile can get to Moscow in just four minutes and fly into Russian Prime Minister’s office through the window! I am not joking! This is a destabilising, misbalancing, and totally provocative weapon.

===========

How can we stand for that? Of course, we will find an adequate military response. That is, unless we find a political response first. Well, we so hope that they are sensible enough to realise that we are not like we used to be. If we are offended, we can hit back, and do it more than once.

Until things get really tough, they are going to keep pretending that Russia is their opponent. I think that in the XXI century, the real threat is posed by a certain bunch of people who think that you and I are second-class people. Those close-minded people simply don’t recognize our right to live. They don’t care who they are dealing with - Russians, Jews, Tatars, French, or British, or whoever, - they are all the same to them. To them, we are just a worthless civilization that must be destroyed. Let’s hope our Western counterparts realise that those guys threaten us all in equal measure and that this plague advancing on the European continent will engulf us while we are all arguing. Today, we talk about existing threats such as terrorism, extremism (political or religious), drug trafficking, and piracy.

As for piracy, there are pirates rampant in Somalia, and tomorrow, I think, the entire African coast will be swarming with pirates, and there will not be enough warships to keep them at bay. There is an enormous distance between Europe and the Third World. There is a new civilization emerging in the Third World that thinks that the white, northern hemisphere has always oppressed it and must therefore fall at its feet now. This is very serious

If the northern civilization wants to protect itself, it must be united: America, the European Union, and Russia. If they are not together, they will be defeated one by one.

Of course, the resumption of the work of the Russia-NATO council is possible. It will surely happen, because there are too many bureaucrats in NATO who are responsible for contact with Russia. They are afraid of losing their jobs after the freezing of the Russia-NATO council, so they are among the most zealous lobbyists for resuming our good relationship. Well, kidding aside, the scope of strategic matters that unites us is so vast that we can pretend as long as we want that we don’t communicate, but we can’t help communicating. In Brussels, I have regular meetings with the leaders of the NATO secretariat, political leaders, ambassadors, and so on. It’s just that they are afraid of meeting with me in what is called the Russia-NATO council. It will happen this December at the earliest, or next March at the latest. This is my forecast, and you will see that I am right.
23243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine; Parsons on: January 28, 2009, 11:21:27 AM
"Beware the greedy hand of government, thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry." --Thomas Paine

"We have duties, for the discharge of which we are accountable to our Creator and benefactor, which no human power can cancel. What those duties are, is determinable by right reason, which may be, and is called, a well informed conscience."

--Theophilus Parsons, the Essex Result, 1778
23244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: January 28, 2009, 11:16:19 AM
Woof NonKosherDog:

Welcome aboard!

I too noted the Pope's action in re-instating this turd (see my post on the "Organized Religion" thread on the SCH forum).  Very discouraging-- particularly after he began his papacy a few years back with his forceful statement that God is a god of Reason.

The Adventure continues!
Marc
23245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: January 28, 2009, 11:08:34 AM
Wednesday Chronicle
Vol. 09 No. 04
28 January 2009

THE FOUNDATION
"Beware the greedy hand of government, thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry." --Thomas Paine

UPRIGHT
"The stimulus package being discussed is politically smart but economically stupid. It's that bedeviling, omnipresent Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy problem again. ... A far more important measure that Congress can take toward a healthy economy is to ensure that the 2003 tax cuts don't expire in 2010 as scheduled. If not, there are 15 separate taxes scheduled to rise in 2010, costing Americans $200 billion a year in increased taxes. In the face of a recession, we don't need that." --economist Walter E. Williams

"Bashing Rush Limbaugh last week, Obama urged GOP lawmakers to ignore the voices of obstructionism and sign on to his behemoth stimulus package: 'We shouldn't let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done.' ... History has shown us that 'Get Things Done' is mindless liberal code for passing ineffective legislation and expanding government for government's sake." --columnist Michelle Malkin

"More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's 'lost decade' in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today." --two hundred economists in an open letter disseminated by the Cato Institute

"We all know how we got into this economic mess. We spent too much, borrowed with abandon, and acted like the bills would never come due. So what's the prescription for getting out? Spending more, borrowing more, and acting like the bills will never come due." --columnist Steve Chapman

"For those of you not shouting hosannas, it might have occurred to you that we are suffering from a rampant sickness in American life that casts government as the author of your dreams and an Illinois politician as the linchpin of your hopes." --Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi

INSIGHT
"Employment gives health, sobriety and morals. Constant employment and well-paid labor produce general prosperity, content and cheerfulness." --American statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

"Too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxis and cutting hair." --comedian George Burns (1898-1996)

EDITORIAL EXEGESIS
"Ah, the dirty little secret is out. That $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bill was in part simply a variation on congressional pork -- except this time the recipients were banks with friends in high places. One of those powerful friends was Rep. Barney Frank (D-[MA]), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. And one of the recipients of a $12 million infusion of federal cash was the troubled OneUnited Bank in Boston -- a bank that had already been accused of 'unsafe and unsound banking practices.' Its CEO, Kevin Cohee had also been criticized by regulators for 'excessive' pay that included a Porsche. Frank admits he included language in the TARP legislation specifically designed to bail out OneUnited. He also acknowledges contacting officials at the Treasury Department about the bank's bailout application. 'I believe it would have been a very big mistake to put the only black bank (in Massachusetts) out of business,' Frank said. Besides, he insists, 'It was a case of the federal government causing the problem.' Causing the bad loans OneUnited made? Or would that go back to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which Frank so staunchly defended earlier on? Frank has never failed to amaze us with his ability to defend the indefensible and to staunchly uphold the double standard. It's his special talent." --Boston Herald

 

 
 

DEZINFORMATSIA
Not that there's anything wrong with that!: "n a meeting [last week] with senior White House staffers, President Obama showed a lot of love. That's right. The president is a man hugger. We counted nine man-to-man hugs. ... We think the president could be setting a new trend here." --CBS's Julie Chen

Just doesn't get it: "y far the lion's share of the [federal budget] surpluses went into the tax cuts. It was the most profoundly un-conservative act of the Bush presidency. Rather than pay down the debt or save in the good times for the inevitable bad times, Bush squandered it all, so that all of us, particularly the high-income earners, could indulge in a bit more consumption." --Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria, who must have missed the fact that federal revenue increased faster than inflation because of the tax cuts

Right analysis, wrong goal: "As he has done so often, Obama pronounced debates about the size of government as irrelevant. What matters is 'whether it works.' Quietly but purposefully, he was overturning the Reagan revolution." --Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne

Partisan divide: "Does President Barack Obama finally have the cajones, that some Democrats haven't had in the past, in saying to other Republicans 'you don't have to listen to Rush Limbaugh'?" --MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell

Wrong label: "Now, the [Kristen] Gillibrand pick [for U.S. Senate from New York] is not without controversy itself. She is a conservative Democrat, favoring gun rights. And the pick has upset some more liberal Democrats." --ABC's "Good Morning America" reporter John Berman **Gillibrand has an American Conservative Union rating of 8, and a NARAL endorsement. That's conservative?

And proud of it: "I'm a liberal, I was born a liberal, I'll be one 'til I die, what else should a reporter be when you see so much and when we have such great privilege and access to the truth?" --White House reporter Helen Thomas

On the inauguration crowd: "From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity." --ABC's Bill Weir **Yeah, awed by the amount of garbage dropped by the Obamaniacs and the huge feast they were about to make of it.

Newspulper Headlines:

Looks as if the Honeymoon's Over: "Rotten Canned Fish Linked to the Democrats" --Bangkok Post

And You Thought College Was Expensive: "Full-Day Kindergarten Will Cost Millions" --Muskegon (MI) Chronicle

News of the Tautological: "A New Day Dawns for America, World" --St. Petersburg Times

Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control: "Former French President Chirac Hospitalised After Mauling by His Clinically Depressed Poodle" --Daily Mail (London)

We Blame Global Warming: "As Challenges Mount, Ardor for Obama Cools Abroad" --Associated Press

Except for the Northern Hemisphere, Where It's Winter: "Study: Antarctica Joins Rest of Globe in Warming" --Associated Press

Bottom Stories of the Day: "Surveyed Scientists Agree Global Warming Is Real" --CNN.com

(Thanks to The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto)

THE DEMO-GOGUES
Translation: more government: "We begin this year and this administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action. ...f we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse." --President Barack Obama

It's all about retaining power: "If we don't get this done we [the Democrats] could lose seats and I could lose re-election. But we can't let people like Rush Limbaugh stall this. That's how things don't get done in this town." --Barack Obama, more concerned with re-election that America

Stumbling out of the gate: "What I told [Middle East 'envoy' George Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating. ... My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy." --Barack Obama in his first official presidential TV interview -- with Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Al Arabiya news channel Al Arabiya

The earth is renewed: "There is a great exhalation of breath going on in the world as people express their appreciation for the new direction that's being set and the team that is put together by the president. We have a lot of damage to repair. It not any kind of repudiation or indictment of the past eight years so much as an excitement and an acceptance of how we are going to be doing business." --the new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton

Says the kettle to the pot: "For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate." --Barack Obama on reversing the ban on federal funding for international "family planning" (read: abortion)

Non Compos Mentis: "[C]ontraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government." --House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying that fewer births would save the government money

Socialism 101: "Well, whatever you want to call it…. If we are going to put money into the banks, we certainly want equity for the American people. In other words, if we are strengthening [the banks], then the American people should get some of the upside of that strengthening. Some people call that nationalization. I'm not talking about total ownership.... Now how big that investment becomes is -- would we have ever thought we would see the day when we'd be using that terminology? Nationalization of the banks." --Nancy Pelosi when asked if it's a good idea to "have nationalization or partial nationalization of the banks"

Bursting with pride: "If there was no Martin Luther King Jr. and no Roland Burris, there would be no Barack Obama in the White House today." --Sen. Roland Burris, who was appointed to take Obama's Senate seat

VILLAGE IDIOTS
Social engineering: "I am concerned, as I'm sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high-skill people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers. I have nothing against white male construction workers. I'm just saying that there are a lot of other people who have needs as well..." --former Labor Secretary Robert Reich

From the peacenik files: "I have believed for some time that military power is no solution to terrorism. ... So let me suggest a truly audacious hope for [the Obama] administration: How about a five-year time-out on war -- unless, of course, there is a genuine threat to the nation?" --former presidential candidate George McGovern advising Obama on appeasement

Mindless hope: "I know just coming back from Egypt and Abu Dhabi and other places in Europe that the world is so happy that we've changed direction. They're so hopeful. They are as hopeful as we are, and they are really impressed with the American people that they have taken on this guy and that uh, he's going to be -- they hope, managing things in a different way." --actress Susan Sarandon

Thugs for Obama: "He is a man with good intentions; he has immediately eliminated Guantanamo prison, and that should be applauded. I am very happy and the world is happy that this young president has arrived ... [We] welcome the new government and we are filled with hope." --Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez on Obama

Looking for a one-way plane ticket to Gaza: "Yes, I do. I think [Hamas can be trusted]. Because of their own self-interest. Not because they're benevolent or kind or that sort of thing. But yes, I do. I think they can. And they've never betrayed any commitment that they've made to me or publicly, as a matter of fact." --chief Village Idiot Jimmy Carter

 

 
 

SHORT CUTS
"More than 144 hours into Barack Obama's presidency, the economy is still in recession, the country is still at war, and in many parts of the country it's still cold outside. Citizens are growing impatient: Wasn't President Obama supposed to bring change?" --Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto

"During his upcoming administration, Obama has promised to out-do FDR by putting an additional 2.5 million people on the federal payroll. He has also threatened -- I mean, promised -- to create some sort of civilian paramilitary group that sounds suspiciously like Hitler's brown shirts, but I could very well be mistaken. For all I know, Obama may dress them in blue." --columnist Burt Prelustsky

"This week the Left arrived in Washington, excited about the wonderful things it will do to us -- I mean, for us. They always do it for us." --ABC "20/20" co-anchor John Stossel

"Let's start a new group: PETT: People for the Ethical Treatment of Taxpayers." --political analyst Rich Galen

"If Nancy Pelosi wants fewer births, I have the way to do this, and it won't require any contraception. You simply put pictures of Nancy Pelosi in every cheap motel room in America. That will keep birth rates down, because that picture will keep a lot of things down." --radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh

Jay Leno:

President Obama said when it comes to passing the stimulus package we can't afford distractions and delays. You know who took offense to this in Congress? The head of the Senate Distractions and Delays Committee.

President Obama has signed an executive order closing Guantanamo Bay. Well, the big problem, how do you get these inmates back to their home countries? They're all on the "do not fly" list.

Well, I mean, what'll they do with them? I mean, look, most politicians don't want them in their state or their district. Other countries don't want them. Although, today, New York City's Yellow Cab Company said, "Hey, we'll take them."

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial got under way [Monday]. But he was not there. He didn't go. He went on "The View" instead, which is a pretty smart move, because it will help his case when he pleads insanity.

Former French President Jacques Chirac was rushed to the hospital after being mauled by his clinically depressed poodle. See that's how you know that the French are not fighters, okay -- when their leader is attacked by a maniacal poodle.
23246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surprise, surprise on: January 27, 2009, 10:22:17 PM
AP article pulled from JEMS.com

Hamas tried to hijack ambulances during Gaza war
Jason Koutsoukis
2009 Jan 26
GAZA STRIP, Palestine -- PALESTINIAN civilians living in Gaza during the three-week war with Israel have spoken of the challenge of being caught between Hamas and Israeli soldiers as the radical Islamic movement that controls the Gaza strip attempted to hijack ambulances.

Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."

Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.

"After the first week, at night time, there was a call for a house in Jabaliya. I got to the house and there was lots of shooting and explosions all around," he said.

Because of the urgency of the call, Mr Shriteh said there was no time to arrange his movements with the IDF.

"I knew the Israelis were watching me because I could see the red laser beam in the ambulance and on me, on my body," he said.

Getting out of the ambulance and entering the house, he saw there were three Hamas fighters taking cover inside. One half of the building had already been destroyed.

"They were very scared, and very nervous … They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away. I refused, because if the IDF sees me doing this I am finished, I cannot pick up any more wounded people.

"And then one of the fighters picked up a gun and held it to my head, to force me. I still refused, and then they allowed me to leave."

Mr Shriteh says Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war.

"You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."

Eyad al-Bayary, 32, lost his job as a senior nurse at the Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza City, about six months ago because he is closely identified with Fatah, the rival political movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Twice last year Mr Bayary was arrested by Hamas, and once he was jailed for six days for flying the Fatah flag above his house in Jabaliya. He now works part-time as an English teacher at al-Azhar University.

"After the first day of the war, I go to the hospital to work, to help, but I was told to go away. They tell me 'you are not needed here' and they push me away," Mr Bayary said.

Since the ceasefire was declared on January 17, Hamas has begun to systematically take revenge on anyone believed to have collaborated with Israel before the war.

Israel makes no secret of the fact that it has a network of informants inside Gaza who regularly provide information on where Hamas leaders live, where weapons are being stored and other details that formed an important part of Israel's battle plan.

According to rumour, a number of alleged collaborators have already been executed. Taher al-Nono, the Hamas government's spokesman in Gaza, told the Herald that 175 people had been arrested so far on suspicion of collaborating.

"They will be dealt with by the court and the judge and we will respect the judge's decision," Mr Nono said.

And if the sentence is death?

"We will respect the decision."

But the breakdown between Hamas and Fatah over the last 18 months did not prevent some co-operation between the two sides during the war.

The commander of one al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade unit - the brigades are a coalition of secular militia groups which operate under the loose umbrella of Fatah - said the real enemy remains Israel.

The unit commander, who used the name Abu Ibrahim, invited the Herald into his home.

On the wall of his lounge room hung the portraits of George Habash, who founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a communist paramilitary organisation, and Abu Ali Mustafa, the man who succeeded Habash as leader of the PFLP and who was killed by Israeli forces in 2001.

"Of course we fought together with Hamas because we all have the same aim: to liberate our homeland," he said.

With his two-year old daughter on his knee, Mr Ibrahim, 30, said he would never accept peace or negotiation, even if it might lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

"I believe in the existence of Israel because it exists on my land - but the war with Israel will only end when I liberate all of my land. This last war with Israel was not the first war, and it will not be the last."

Rebuilding the Strip
GAZA CITY: Hamas will begin a big reconstruction effort in the Gaza Strip today as the territory's 1.5 million people start to recover from the devastating three-week war with Israel that claimed more than 1300 lives and destroyed thousands of buildings, factories and farms.

Life was beginning to return to a relative state of normality yesterday, with schools, universities and businesses back open.

But with most government buildings destroyed during the war, and piles of concrete rubble on street corners, Gazans face a huge effort to return the Strip to the impoverished state that existed before the war began.

Thousands of Gazans who lost their homes are still living in temporary accommodation provided in United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools, and electricity is being rationed, with homes receiving power for just a few hours a day.

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Ayman Taha, said his organisation would observe a truce with Israel for 18 months on the condition all the crossing points with Israel were opened.

With Hamas's popularity apparently plummeting in as a result of the war, the movement's leadership is using financial handouts to boost morale.

Hamas leaders from Gaza and Damascus, Syria, travelled to Cairo yesterday to meet Egyptian intelligence leaders and leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organisation for talks aimed at resolving Hamas's dispute with the Fatah movement of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In Israel the appointment of George Mitchell as special envoy of the US President, Barack Obama, to the Middle East has met with caution and suspicion.

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials were scrambling to put together a brief for Mr Mitchell, who is due to visit Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah this week, as well as Egypt and Jordan.

Israeli officials believe Mr Mitchell's first step will be to recommend the "road map for peace" plan announced by the former president George Bush in 2002 be extended.

Israelis have also begun to turn their attention to the general elections on February 10. With polls indicating the right-wing Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu is on track to return to the Prime Minister's office he occupied in 1996, the centrist Kadima Party leader, Tzipi Livni, warned yesterday that if the far-right won government it would lead to an inevitable rift with the US. Get EMS news & articles delivered to your inbox!

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Honesta Mors Turpi Vita Potior


lod.med@gmail.com
23247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surprising news on: January 27, 2009, 10:19:09 PM
By Peter Millard and Matthew Cowley
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Petroleos Mexicanos's $2 billion bond sale on Tuesday was oversubscribed threefold, underscoring strong investor interest in Mexico's state oil company despite disappointing operating results last year.

Pemex originally planned to place $1 billion or more in 10-year paper on Tuesday. A syndicate banker familiar with the bond sale said around $6 billion in orders came in, allowing Latin America's largest oil producer to increase the size of the deal.

Pemex, which saw oil production drop 9% last year, said it will use the money for investments and to pay off debt coming due this year.

Pemex needs the money - oil production has plummeted 26% since peaking in 2004. The company plans to boost investments by 8% this year, to $19.4 billion, in an effort to develop new oil fields that will compensate for the giant Cantarell field, where output is falling at an alarming rate of 30% a year.

On Tuesday the company said in a filing that net losses in 2008 will surpass 2007 losses due to the sharp drop in oil prices and the depreciation of the local peso currency against the U.S. dollar.

Pemex has a heavy tax load and often has to sell imported fuel at a discount, eroding profits from oil exports.

Despite the ugly operating results, an energy reform approved last fall helped drive demand for the Tuesday bond sale, said the syndicate banker. The reform makes it easier for Pemex to issue debt and streamlines bureaucracy at the state-run oil monopoly.

The simple structure of the bond - it was issued by Pemex instead of its Project Funding Master Trust affiliate - also made it attractive to investors.

The bond carried a coupon of 8% and was sold at 98.313% of face value to yield 8.25%, equivalent to a spread of 570.70 basis points over U.S. Treasury notes of a similar maturity, according to a term sheet provided by a fund manager.

The strong demand for the issue is good news for both Pemex and the federal government, said UBS economist Gabriel Casillas, noting that Pemex and Mexican sovereign debt prices often move in synch.

"Perhaps after these good results, the federal government will try to issue some debt," said Mexico City-based Casillas.

On Dec. 18, Mexico's government sold $2 billion in 10-year global bonds with a 5.98% yield, raising enough money for about 32% of Mexico's 2009 foreign debt servicing needs.

Gianna Bern of Brookshire Advisory and Research, an energy, economics and consulting firm near Chicago, said Pemex probably hoped to sell at a lower yield, but noted that the company needs to raise cash when it can to help pay for its aggressive investment budget.

With much of the developed world selling debt to finance fiscal stimulus packages, emerging market issuers like Pemex risk getting crowded out of the market.

"A $2 billion issuance is a fiscal imperative given the size of their 2009 capital plan," said Bern. "Under the current market conditions, they need to take advantage of any opening."

The syndicated banker said the pricing came in at the tighter end of guidance, which was 8 1/4 to 8 3/8.

Moving forward Pemex will be competing with companies like Brazilian oil giant Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR), or Petrobras, for scarce liquidity in global markets.

On Tuesday Petrobras Chief Financial Officer Almir Barbassa said the company could sell more than $1.5 billion in bonds in the first quarter of this year to help pay off a $5 billion bridge loan. Petrobras will need to raise $8 billion to $9 billion in the capital markets over the next two years.

Pemex is expected to refinance around $5 billion of debt that comes due this year, and the company has said it will increase its total debt to the tune of $3 billion in 2009, reversing a two-year stretch of reducing its debt load.

As of the end of September, Pemex's total bonds and bank loans fell 3.1% on the year to $48.2 billion.

23248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: January 27, 2009, 08:16:06 PM
Which makes sense to me-- Keynesian is wrong and does not work- and Scott is a stellar Supply Sider.  Artificially low interest rates are a huge part of how we get ourselves into this mess and continuing the foolishness is only going to take us down the road to Japan.
23249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-Russia on: January 27, 2009, 08:13:44 PM
Lets follow up on this at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1673.0

 smiley
23250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: January 27, 2009, 08:12:30 PM
Huss:

Please email me at Craftydog@dogbrothers.com

There is a long Indian intel piece I'd like to send you.
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