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23251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: December 02, 2009, 12:16:16 PM
Also coming a real long way is the Orwellian potential of ever accelerating technological capabilities , , ,
23252  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: ¿7 metros? on: December 02, 2009, 12:13:33 PM
"claro previo permiso del gobierno"

El peligro en otorgar ese potencia al gobierno es que el gobierno no de' permiso.
23253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 02, 2009, 11:07:12 AM
4th post of the morning.

Tis a rare event, but a reasoned piece from Thomas Friedman:

This I Believe
Published: December 1, 2009

Let me start with the bottom line and then tell you how I got there: I can’t agree with President Obama’s decision to escalate in Afghanistan. I’d prefer a minimalist approach, working with tribal leaders the way we did to overthrow the Taliban regime in the first place. Given our need for nation-building at home right now, I am ready to live with a little less security and a little-less-perfect Afghanistan.

I recognize that there are legitimate arguments on the other side. At a lunch on Tuesday for opinion writers, the president lucidly argued that opting for a surge now to help Afghans rebuild their army and state into something decent — to win the allegiance of the Afghan people — offered the only hope of creating an “inflection point,” a game changer, to bring long-term stability to that region. May it be so. What makes me wary about this plan is how many moving parts there are — Afghans, Pakistanis and NATO allies all have to behave forever differently for this to work.

But here is the broader context in which I assess all this: My own foreign policy thinking since 9/11 has been based on four pillars:

1. The Warren Buffett principle: Everything I’ve ever gotten in life is largely due to the fact that I was born in this country, America, at this time with these opportunities for its citizens. It is the primary obligation of our generation to turn over a similar America to our kids.

2. Many big bad things happen in the world without America, but not a lot of big good things. If we become weak and enfeebled by economic decline and debt, as we slowly are, America may not be able to play its historic stabilizing role in the world. If you didn’t like a world of too-strong-America, you will really not like a world of too-weak-America — where China, Russia and Iran set more of the rules.

3. The context within which people live their lives shapes everything — from their political outlook to their religious one. The reason there are so many frustrated and angry people in the Arab-Muslim world, lashing out first at their own governments and secondarily at us — and volunteering for “martyrdom” — is because of the context within which they live their lives. That was best summarized by the U.N.’s Arab Human Development reports as a context dominated by three deficits: a deficit of freedom, a deficit of education and a deficit of women’s empowerment. The reason India, with the world’s second-largest population of Muslims, has a thriving Muslim minority (albeit with grievances but with no prisoners in Guantánamo Bay) is because of the context of pluralism and democracy it has built at home.

4. One of the main reasons the Arab-Muslim world has been so resistant to internally driven political reform is because vast oil reserves allow its regimes to become permanently ensconced in power, by just capturing the oil tap, and then using the money to fund vast security and intelligence networks that quash any popular movement. Look at Iran.

Hence, post-9/11 I advocated that our politicians find sufficient courage to hike gasoline taxes and seriously commit ourselves to developing alternatives to oil. Economists agree that this would ultimately bring down the global price, and slowly deprive these regimes of the sole funding source that allows them to maintain their authoritarian societies. People do not change when we tell them they should; they change when their context tells them they must.

To me, the most important reason for the Iraq war was never W.M.D. It was to see if we could partner with Iraqis to help them build something that does not exist in the modern Arab world: a state, a context, where the constituent communities — Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds — write their own social contract for how to live together without an iron fist from above. Iraq has proved staggeringly expensive and hugely painful. The mistakes we made should humble anyone about nation-building in Afghanistan. It does me.

Still, the Iraq war may give birth to something important — if Iraqis can find that self-sustaining formula to live together. Alas, that is still in doubt. If they can, the model would have a huge impact on the Arab world. Baghdad is a great Arab capital. If Iraqis fail, it’s religious strife, economic decline and authoritarianism as far as the eye can see — the witch’s brew that spawns terrorists.

Iraq was about “the war on terrorism.” The Afghanistan invasion, for me, was about the “war on terrorists.” To me, it was about getting bin Laden and depriving Al Qaeda of a sanctuary — period. I never thought we could make Afghanistan into Norway — and even if we did, it would not resonate beyond its borders the way Iraq might.

To now make Afghanistan part of the “war on terrorism” — i.e., another nation-building project — is not crazy. It is just too expensive, when balanced against our needs for nation-building in America, so that we will have the strength to play our broader global role. Hence, my desire to keep our presence in Afghanistan limited. That is what I believe. That is why I believe it.
23254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 02, 2009, 10:54:38 AM
third post of the morning

Obama Announces New U.S. Afghan Strategy
.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, speaking at West Point, laid out his new strategy for “concluding” the Afghan war. The short version is as follows: 30,000 additional U.S. troops will begin deployment at the fastest possible rate beginning in early 2010; the force’s primary goal will be to enable Afghan forces to carry on the war themselves; U.S. troops will begin withdrawing by July 2011 and complete their withdrawal by the end of the president’s current term.

Obama outlined a series of goals for U.S. forces, the four most critical of which STRATFOR will reproduce here. The first is to deny al Qaeda a safe-haven. The second is to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government, largely by securing key population centers. The third is to strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s Security Forces and government so that more Afghans can get into the fight. The fourth is to create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.

“In many ways the new strategy seems less like an active military strategy than one of a series of mild gambles.”
Let us first look at the somewhat obvious points from STRATFOR’s point of view:

There isn’t a lot that you can do in 18 months, even with that many troops. You certainly cannot eradicate the Taliban. Even reversing the Taliban’s momentum as Obama hopes to do is a very tall order. And you might find it fairly difficult to root out the apex leadership of al Qaeda, especially if it is in Pakistan instead of Afghanistan. Simply pursuing that goal would require the regular insertion of forces into Pakistan, enraging the country upon which NATO military supply chains depend. Even more so, having full withdrawal by the end of Obama’s current term puts a large logistical strain on the force, giving it less manpower to achieve its goals — particularly once the drawdown begins in July 2011. For most of the period in question, the United States will have far fewer than the roughly 100,000 troops at the ready that the Obama policy envisions.

In many ways the new strategy seems less like an active military strategy than one of a series of mild gambles: that the force will be sufficient to (temporarily) turn the tide against the Taliban, that this shift will be sufficient to allow the Afghan army to step forward, and that this shift will be sufficient to allow U.S. forces to withdraw without major incident. That’s tricky at best.

Now for the less-than-obvious points:

Ramrodding 30,000 troops into Afghanistan immediately will severely tax the military. Bear in mind that the drawdown in Iraq has only recently begun, and forces pulled from Iraq will either need substantial time to rest and retool before they can do something else, which in many cases may to be shipped off to Afghanistan. The ability of U.S. ground forces to react to any problem anywhere in the world in 2010 just decreased from marginal to nonexistent. Many of America’s rivals are sure to take note.

However, by committing to a clear three-year timeframe, Obama is aiming for something that Bush did not. He is bringing the U.S. military back into the global system as opposed to its current sequestering in the Islamic world. The key factor that has enabled many states to challenge U.S. power in recent years — Russia’s August 2008 war with Georgia perhaps being the best example — is that the United States has lacked the military bandwidth to deploy troops outside of its two ongoing wars. If Obama is able to carry out his planned Iraqi and Afghan withdrawals on schedule, the United States will shift rapidly from massive overextension to full deployment capability.

And so states that have been taking advantage of the window of opportunity caused by American preoccupation now have something new to incorporate into their plans: the date the window closes.
23255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 02, 2009, 10:53:40 AM
second post of the morning:

Obama's Plan and the Key Battleground
December 2, 2009

By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama announced the broad structure of his Afghanistan
strategy in a speech at West Point on Tuesday evening. The strategy had
three core elements. First, he intends to maintain pressure on al Qaeda on
the Afghan-Pakistani border and in other regions of the world. Second, he
intends to blunt the Taliban offensive by sending an additional 30,000
American troops to Afghanistan, along with an unspecified number of NATO
troops he hopes will join them. Third, he will use the space created by the
counteroffensive against the Taliban and the resulting security in some
regions of Afghanistan to train and build Afghan military forces and
civilian structures to assume responsibility after the United States
withdraws. Obama added that the U.S. withdrawal will begin in July 2011, but
provided neither information on the magnitude of the withdrawal nor the date
when the withdrawal would conclude. He made it clear that these will depend
on the situation on the ground, adding that the U.S. commitment is finite.

In understanding this strategy, we must begin with an obvious but unstated
point: The extra forces that will be deployed to Afghanistan are not
expected to defeat the Taliban. Instead, their mission is to reverse the
momentum of previous years and to create the circumstances under which an
Afghan force can take over the mission. The U.S. presence is therefore a
stopgap measure, not the ultimate solution.

The ultimate solution is training an Afghan force to engage the Taliban over
the long haul, undermining support for the Taliban, and dealing with al
Qaeda forces along the Pakistani border and in the rest of Afghanistan. If
the United States withdraws all of its forces as Obama intends, the Afghan
military would have to assume all of these missions. Therefore, we must
consider the condition of the Afghan military to evaluate the strategy's

Afghanistan vs. Vietnam
Obama went to great pains to distinguish Afghanistan from Vietnam, and there
are indeed many differences. The core strategy adopted by Richard Nixon (not
Lyndon Johnson) in Vietnam, called "Vietnamization," saw U.S. forces working
to blunt and disrupt the main North Vietnamese forces while the Army of the
Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) would be trained, motivated and deployed to
replace U.S. forces to be systematically withdrawn from Vietnam. The
equivalent of the Afghan surge was the U.S. attack on North Vietnamese Army
(NVA) bases in Cambodia and offensives in northern South Vietnam designed to
disrupt NVA command and control and logistics and forestall a major
offensive by the NVA. Troops were in fact removed in parallel with the
Cambodian offensives.

Nixon faced two points Obama now faces. First, the United States could not
provide security for South Vietnam indefinitely. Second, the South
Vietnamese would have to provide security for themselves. The role of the
United States was to create the conditions under which the ARVN would become
an effective fighting force; the impending U.S. withdrawal was intended to
increase the pressure on the Vietnamese government to reform and on the ARVN
to fight.

Many have argued that the core weakness of the strategy was that the ARVN
was not motivated to fight. This was certainly true in some cases, but the
idea that the South Vietnamese were generally sympathetic to the Communists
is untrue. Some were, but many weren't, as shown by the minimal refugee
movement into NVA-held territory or into North Vietnam itself contrasted
with the substantial refugee movement into U.S./ARVN-held territory and away
from NVA forces. The patterns of refugee movement are, we think, highly
indicative of true sentiment.

Certainly, there were mixed sentiments, but the failure of the ARVN was not
primarily due to hostility or even lack of motivation. Instead, it was due
to a problem that must be addressed and overcome if the Afghanistation war
is to succeed. That problem is understanding the role that Communist
sympathizers and agents played in the formation of the ARVN.

By the time the ARVN expanded - and for that matter from its very
foundation - the North Vietnamese intelligence services had created a
systematic program for inserting operatives and recruiting sympathizers at
every level of the ARVN, from senior staff and command positions down to the
squad level. The exploitation of these assets was not random nor merely
intended to undermine moral. Instead, it provided the NVA with strategic,
operational and tactical intelligence on ARVN operations, and when ARVN and
U.S. forces operated together, on U.S. efforts as well.

In any insurgency, the key for insurgent victory is avoiding battles on the
enemy's terms and initiating combat only on the insurgents' terms. The NVA
was a light infantry force. The ARVN - and the U.S. Army on which it was
modeled - was a much heavier, combined-arms force. In any encounter between
the NVA and its enemies the NVA would lose unless the encounter was at the
time and place of the NVA's choosing. ARVN and U.S. forces had a tremendous
advantage in firepower and sheer weight. But they had a significant
weakness: The weight they bought to bear meant they were less agile. The NVA
had a tremendous weakness. Caught by surprise, it would be defeated. And it
had a great advantage: Its intelligence network inside the ARVN generally
kept it from being surprised. It also revealed weakness in its enemies'
deployment, allowing it to initiate successful offensives.

All war is about intelligence, but nowhere is this truer than in
counterinsurgency and guerrilla war, where invisibility to the enemy and
maintaining the initiative in all engagements is key. Only clear
intelligence on the enemy's capability gives this initiative to an
insurgent, and only denying intelligence to the enemy - or knowing what the
enemy knows and intends - preserves the insurgent force.

The construction of an Afghan military is an obvious opportunity for Taliban
operatives and sympathizers to be inserted into the force. As in Vietnam,
such operatives and sympathizers are not readily distinguishable from loyal
soldiers; ideology is not something easy to discern. With these operatives
in place, the Taliban will know of and avoid Afghan army forces and will
identify Afghan army weaknesses. Knowing that the Americans are withdrawing
as the NVA did in Vietnam means the rational strategy of the Taliban is to
reduce operational tempo, allow the withdrawal to proceed, and then take
advantage of superior intelligence and the ability to disrupt the Afghan
forces internally to launch the Taliban offensives.

The Western solution is not to prevent Taliban sympathizers from penetrating
the Afghan army. Rather, the solution is penetrating the Taliban. In
Vietnam, the United States used signals intelligence extensively. The NVA
came to understand this and minimized radio communications, accepting
inefficient central command and control in return for operational security.
The solution to this problem lay in placing South Vietnamese into the NVA.
There were many cases in which this worked, but on balance, the NVA had a
huge advantage in the length of time it had spent penetrating the ARVN
versus U.S. and ARVN counteractions. The intelligence war on the whole went
to the North Vietnamese. The United States won almost all engagements, but
the NVA made certain that it avoided most engagements until it was ready.

In the case of Afghanistan, the United States has far more sophisticated
intelligence-gathering tools than it did in Vietnam. Nevertheless, the basic
principle remains: An intelligence tool can be understood, taken into
account and evaded. By contrast, deep penetration on multiple levels by
human intelligence cannot be avoided.

Pakistan's Role
Obama mentioned Pakistan's critical role. Clearly, he understands the
lessons of Vietnam regarding sanctuary, and so he made it clear that he
expects Pakistan to engage and destroy Taliban forces on its territory and
to deny Afghan Taliban supplies, replacements and refuge. He cited the Swat
and South Waziristan offensives as examples of the Pakistanis' growing
effectiveness. While this is a significant piece of his strategy, the
Pakistanis must play another role with regard to intelligence.

The heart of Obama's strategy lies not in the surge, but rather in turning
the war over to the Afghans. As in Vietnam, any simplistic model of
loyalties doesn't work. There are Afghans sufficiently motivated to form the
core of an effective army. As in Vietnam, the problem is that this army will
contain large numbers of Taliban sympathizers; there is no way to prevent
this. The Taliban is not stupid: It has and will continue to move its people
into as many key positions as possible.

The challenge lies in leveling the playing field by inserting operatives
into the Taliban. Since the Afghan intelligence services are inherently
insecure, they can't carry out such missions. American personnel bring
technical intelligence to bear, but that does not compensate for human
intelligence. The only entity that could conceivably penetrate the Taliban
and remain secure is the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). This
would give the Americans and Afghans knowledge of Taliban plans and
deployments. This would diminish the ability of the Taliban to evade
attacks, and although penetrated as well, the Afghan army would enjoy a
chance ARVN never had.

But only the ISI could do this, and thinking of the ISI as secure is hard to
do from a historical point of view. The ISI worked closely with the Taliban
during the Afghan civil war that brought it to power and afterwards, and the
ISI had many Taliban sympathizers. The ISI underwent significant purging and
restructuring to eliminate these elements over recent years, but no one
knows how successful these efforts were.

The ISI remains the center of gravity of the entire problem. If the war is
about creating an Afghan army, and if we accept that the Taliban will
penetrate this army heavily no matter what, then the only counter is to
penetrate the Taliban equally. Without that, Obama's entire strategy fails
as Nixon's did.

In his talk, Obama quite properly avoided discussing the intelligence aspect
of the war. He clearly cannot ignore the problem we have laid out, but
neither can he simply count on the ISI. He does not need the entire ISI for
this mission, however. He needs a carved out portion - compartmentalized and
invisible to the greatest possible extent - to recruit and insert operatives
into the Taliban and to create and manage communication networks so as to
render the Taliban transparent. Given Taliban successes of late, it isn't
clear whether he has this intelligence capability. Either way, we would have
to assume that some Pakistani solution to the Taliban intelligence issue has
been discussed (and such a solution must be Pakistani for ethnic and
linguistic reasons).

Every war has its center of gravity, and Obama has made clear that the
center of gravity of this war will be the Afghan military's ability to
replace the Americans in a very few years. If that is the center of gravity,
and if maintaining security against Taliban penetration is impossible, then
the single most important enabler to Obama's strategy would seem to be the
ability to make the Taliban transparent.

Therefore, Pakistan is important not only as the Cambodia of this war, the
place where insurgents go to regroup and resupply, but also as a key element
of the solution to the intelligence war. It is all about Pakistan. And that
makes Obama's plan difficult to execute. It is far easier to write these
words than to execute a plan based on them. But to the extent Obama is
serious about the Afghan army taking over, he and his team have had to think
about how to do this.
23256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: December 02, 2009, 08:37:56 AM
Regarding President BO's speech last night:

Let me see if I have this straight:

1) This is a "must win war";

2) We will begin leaving in 18 months;

3) We will leave our fate in the hands of the Afghan Army whether it is ready or not;

4) Pakistan and the people of Afghanistan, knowing that we are leaving, will align with us;

5) We can't afford to stay any longer than because we need to pass the President's health care, cap and trade, and so much other spending;

6) Therefore we will give Gen. McChrystal less troops than he has said are necessary to prevent defeat.

Is that about right?
23257  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: December 02, 2009, 07:49:55 AM
Two people from my Monday KT class have a school of their own about 90 minutes east from here and they have begun bringing me out to their school every few months for a one day seminar.  Not only is it nice to see my work with them taking root with their students, working with a group that has the basics in place enables me to go further and deeper into the material.

Here's some fotos from the first of these:
23258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: December 02, 2009, 07:44:33 AM
I'm with BBG and Rarick on this.
23259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington and others on: December 02, 2009, 06:57:55 AM
"No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass." --George Washington, letter to Benjamin Lincoln, 1788

"I hope, some day or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world." --George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, 1788

23260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: December 02, 2009, 06:46:26 AM
I'm thinking the matter deserves more interest and concern than that , , ,

Anyway, here's another case in the Kelo line:

Floridians who think life's a beach should be watching the Supreme Court closely today when the Justices hear oral arguments about whether the state may confiscate private waterfront land for a dubious public purpose.

The case, Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Dep't of Environmental Protection, began in 2003, when home owners in the Florida Panhandle objected to changes in their property lines caused by a "beach renourishment" program. Typically done in the name of deterring erosion, the government carts in truckloads of sand, making the beach bigger. But rather than extending the property of the owner, the state declares itself owner of the sandy addition, effectively separating waterfront home owners from the water itself.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 for the state and claimed the program doesn't mean the state can go around "creating as much dry land between upland property and the water as it pleases." There's a point, they said, at which such beach additions would represent an unconstitutional taking. But the problem is where exactly that point occurs: Without a specific demarcation, it's a slippery slope for how much land the state may seize without having to compensate the private owners.

To reach its decision, the Florida high court had to throw over 100 years of common law to declare that waterfront property owners have "no independent right of contact with the water." In a scathing dissent, Florida Justice Fred Lewis wrote that for the court to say that waterfront rights are unconnected with ownership of the land abutting water is a non sequitur. The court had "butchered Florida law," he wrote, and "unnecessarily created dangerous precedent based on a manipulation of the question actually certified."

Beach renourishment has been controversial around the country as a waste of money spent on sand that literally washes back into the ocean. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, by 2002 more than $2.5 billion of federal money had been spent on beach projects. According to a May report by Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, many are special interest projects for wealthy communities and have few environmental benefits.

The Florida case is all the weirder because the beaches in question aren't threatened by erosion and some have grown naturally in recent years, adding to the suspicion that "beach renourishment" is a state pretext to gain waterfront rights in a desirable area. Unable to stop the state from dumping the new sand on their beaches, several owners offered to pay the state their pro-rata share of the sand distribution to maintain exclusive rights to their waterline. Florida refused the deal.

If the state wants to create a public beach, it may have the power to do so by invoking eminent domain and compensating owners for their loss. Short of that, the action is a taking that violates the Fifth Amendment, and this case provides an opportunity for the Supreme Court to begin making amends for the damage it did to property rights in the 2005 case of Kelo v. New London.
23261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Abortion on: December 01, 2009, 04:44:21 PM
IMHO the fundamental tension on this issue has been exponentially increased by judicial liberal fascism imposing its personal opinion via Roe vs. Wade. 

The correct solution is to let the democractic republican principle work it out in each of the 50 states.
23262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Follow the money on: December 01, 2009, 10:24:34 AM
What often prevents these things is the cost.   This includes the question of what to do when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow-- electricity doesn't really "store" well, so a 24/7 system is needed.

Changing subjects:

Follow the Money

Last year, ExxonMobil donated $7 million to a grab-bag of public policy institutes, including the Aspen Institute, the Asia Society and Transparency International. It also gave a combined $125,000 to the Heritage Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis, two conservative think tanks that have offered dissenting views on what until recently was called—without irony—the climate change "consensus."

To read some of the press accounts of these gifts—amounting to about 0.00027% of Exxon's 2008 profits of $45 billion—you might think you'd hit upon the scandal of the age. But thanks to what now goes by the name of climategate, it turns out the real scandal lies elsewhere.

Climategate, as readers of these pages know, concerns some of the world's leading climate scientists working in tandem to block freedom of information requests, blackball dissenting scientists, manipulate the peer-review process, and obscure, destroy or massage inconvenient temperature data—facts that were laid bare by last week's disclosure of thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, or CRU.

But the deeper question is why the scientists behaved this way to begin with, especially since the science behind man-made global warming is said to be firmly settled. To answer the question, it helps to turn the alarmists' follow-the-money methods right back at them.

Consider the case of Phil Jones, the director of the CRU and the man at the heart of climategate. According to one of the documents hacked from his center, between 2000 and 2006 Mr. Jones was the recipient (or co-recipient) of some $19 million worth of research grants, a sixfold increase over what he'd been awarded in the 1990s.

View Full Image

Associated Press
Al Gore wins the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize: Doing well by doing good?
.Why did the money pour in so quickly? Because the climate alarm kept ringing so loudly: The louder the alarm, the greater the sums. And who better to ring it than people like Mr. Jones, one of its likeliest beneficiaries?

Thus, the European Commission's most recent appropriation for climate research comes to nearly $3 billion, and that's not counting funds from the EU's member governments. In the U.S., the House intends to spend $1.3 billion on NASA's climate efforts, $400 million on NOAA's, and another $300 million for the National Science Foundation. The states also have a piece of the action, with California—apparently not feeling bankrupt enough—devoting $600 million to their own climate initiative. In Australia, alarmists have their own Department of Climate Change at their funding disposal.

And all this is only a fraction of the $94 billion that HSBC Bank estimates has been spent globally this year on what it calls "green stimulus"—largely ethanol and other alternative energy schemes—of the kind from which Al Gore and his partners at Kleiner Perkins hope to profit handsomely.

Supply, as we know, creates its own demand. So for every additional billion in government-funded grants (or the tens of millions supplied by foundations like the Pew Charitable Trusts), universities, research institutes, advocacy groups and their various spin-offs and dependents have emerged from the woodwork to receive them.

The Climate Emails
The Economics of Climate Change
Rigging a Climate 'Consensus'
Global Warming With the Lid Off
Climate Science and Candor
.Today these groups form a kind of ecosystem of their own. They include not just old standbys like the Sierra Club or Greenpeace, but also Ozone Action, Clean Air Cool Planet, Americans for Equitable Climate Change Solutions, the Alternative Energy Resources Association, the California Climate Action Registry and so on and on. All of them have been on the receiving end of climate change-related funding, so all of them must believe in the reality (and catastrophic imminence) of global warming just as a priest must believe in the existence of God.

None of these outfits is per se corrupt, in the sense that the monies they get are spent on something other than their intended purposes. But they depend on an inherently corrupting premise, namely that the hypothesis on which their livelihood depends has in fact been proved. Absent that proof, everything they represent—including the thousands of jobs they provide—vanishes. This is what's known as a vested interest, and vested interests are an enemy of sound science.

Which brings us back to the climategate scientists, the keepers of the keys to the global warming cathedral. In one of the more telling disclosures from last week, a computer programmer writes of the CRU's temperature database: "I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seems to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. . . . Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight. . . . We can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!"

This is not the sound of settled science, but of a cracking empirical foundation. And however many billion-dollar edifices may be built on it, sooner or later it is bound to crumble.
23263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Naval war games on: November 30, 2009, 04:50:06 PM
23264  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hypothermia on: November 30, 2009, 10:41:48 AM
 Immersion Hypothermia Skills that can save a life

Hypothermia and Immersion Hypothermia are both killers. Most cases of hypothermia happen in the outdoors in 50 degree F weather and are preventable- dress properly (no cotton!), stay hydrated, and do something about it when you get wet or begin losing dexterity such as build a fire & shelter, get back to the vehicle, or into the sleeping bag. A good hypothermia recipe is to have a cup of hot chocolate with a tablespoon of butter and I always carry this solution in a thermos when on the winter trail.

Keep in mind that the statistics bear out that the classic "survivor" lost in the wilds each year is injured and hypothermic.

Immersion Hypothermia is a real killer and you only have a limited amount of time on your hands. The best info comes from this U of Toronto Professor who has studied it the most and is on YouTube. Pass this vid around to those who spend time playing ice hockey, ice-fishing, or traveling the wilds in winter. It can be a lifesaver to know-

Another test I do with my students on winter survival courses is to have them place their hands (minus gloves) in the snow for a count of 60 seconds. After this, they must get a fire going using their matches, lighter, or spark rod. With a loss of dexterity, the spark-rod wins out as it involves gross-motor movement compared to the lighter and matches. Try this test of your gear in the backyard next snowfall and see how the gear holds up when the hands are numb.

Cottonballs smeared with vaseline and used for tinder is the other half of the picture in successfully starting a fire when the forest is buried in snow and your hands are numb.

Tony Nester
Ancient Pathways Survival School
23265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Thought crimes on: November 30, 2009, 10:27:11 AM
Faith & Family
"Peter Vidala was being harassed at work-subjected, over and over again, to views he found offensive. When he finally spoke up, he was fired. It's an illustration of the double standard that often prevails when it comes to same-sex 'marriage.' Vidala was a deputy manager at a Brookstone store in Boston's Logan Airport. Last August, a manager visiting from another store told Vidala she was planning to 'marry' her female partner. Vidala said he 'quickly changed the subject.' As a Christian, he considered homosexual behavior immoral, and same-sex 'marriage' an 'oxymoron.' The woman's comments made him uncomfortable. But the visiting manager didn't get the message-or maybe she did. She talked about her wedding plans over and over. Vidala later told Fox new she was goading him into commenting on her relationship. Vidala said, 'By the fourth time she mentioned it, I felt God wanted me to express how I felt about the matter. So I did.' He told her, 'Regarding your homosexuality, I think that's bad stuff.' He also reported that he had intended to tell her he would prefer she not bring up the subject at work, but she just started laughing. And then she told him, 'Get over it ... keep your opinions to yourself.' She then complained to human resources, and Vidala was fired. Why? Because by 'imposing' his beliefs on her, it constituted 'harassment.' So pummeling a junior-level Christian employee with endless comments he finds offensive is OK. But making a single critical comment to a lesbian senior-level employee is a firing offense. Even more disturbing is the reason Brookstone gave to back up its decision. In Massachusetts, same-sex 'marriage' is legal. So a lesbian employee can prattle on about her wedding plans without harassing anyone. The implications of this are frightening. If same-sex 'marriage' is foisted upon other states, then expressing disagreement with it-or even criticizing the homosexual lifestyle-could become a firing offense for everyone. If employers had taken this attitude 90 years ago, people could have lost their jobs for disagreeing with laws forbidding women from voting! This is how far the gay agenda has come in this country. Any disagreement is portrayed as hatred and harassment. And the victim-as in this case-is often a Christian. Peter Vidala's firing will have one beneficial effect, at least. It will help the rest of us understand why same-sex 'marriage' laws are like no other. Oppose them beforehand or speak out afterward, and you will be punished." --author Chuck Colson
23266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Swiss Minarets on: November 30, 2009, 01:44:19 AM
Nearly 58% of Swiss voters Sunday cast their ballots in favor of banning the construction of new minarets in the Alpine republic, a surprise result that led at least one Swiss member of parliament to declare that "the foundations of Switzerland's direct democracy have failed."

That is clearly wrong. Swiss direct democracy shows its mettle when Swiss voters use it to stand up to their political elites, as happened here. Having said that, Sunday's vote, for all the hand-wringing leading up to it, was a decidedly mild-mannered sort of protest. The construction of new minarets is banned, but the building of mosques is unaffected, and the vote does not affect the four existing minarets in the country. Nobody's freedom of worship is threatened, but a symbolic message has been sent.

But what message, exactly? The vote betrays an undercurrent of fear among the Swiss—a fear that is not without cause. There is no denying the connection between radical imams and terrorist acts. Nor should anyone look away from the fact that too many European Muslims flatly reject the norms of their host countries, sometimes in ways that are criminal: honor killings, child brides and the like.

Yet banning minarets does nothing to address that fear. It merely makes it less likely that the average Swiss will be confronted by a visible symbol of Islam upon his skyline. Thus, even as a symbolic gesture, it seems to encourage a head-in-the-sand approach toward the 5% of Swiss who are Muslim. In much of Europe, this is the norm anyway, the result of political correctness and cowardice.

Rather than being a blow against that attitude, Sunday's vote seems only to reinforce it. Banning minarets won't do anything to assimilate Switzerland's or Europe's Muslims, or to ensure that economic opportunity is available to everyone of whatever creed, or to deal with Western Europe's demographic problem of too few newborns.

The ban, in other words, does too much and too little at once. Too much because it becomes a very visible and easily exploited symbol of supposed European intolerance. But it accomplishes too little because it seeks merely to hide from view the problems that gave rise to the fear of the minaret in the first place.
23267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Honduras on: November 30, 2009, 01:35:57 AM
Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution.

Yesterday's elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle.

National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

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Getty Images
Casting a vote in Tegucigalpa, Nov. 29
.The fact that the U.S. has said it will recognize their legitimacy shows that this reality eventually made its way to the White House. If not Hugo Chávez's Waterloo, Honduras's stand at least marks a major setback for the Venezuelan strongman's expansionist agenda.

The losers in this drama also include Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Spain, which all did their level best to block the election. Egged on by their zeal, militants inside Honduras took to exploding small bombs around the country in the weeks leading to the vote. They hoped that terror might damp turnout and delegitimize the process. They failed. Yesterday's civic participation appeared to be at least as good as it was in the last presidential election. Some polling stations reportedly even ran short, for a time, of the indelible ink used to mark voter pinkies.

Latin socialists tried to discredit Honduran democracy as part of their effort to force the reinstatement of deposed President Manuel Zelaya. Both sides knew that if that happened the electoral process would be in jeopardy.

Mr. Zelaya had already showed his hand when he organized a mob to try to carry out a June 28 popular referendum so that he could cancel the elections and remain in office. That was unlawful, and he was arrested by order of the Supreme Court and later removed from power by Congress for violating the constitution.

It is less well-known that as president, according to an electoral-council official I interviewed in Tegucigalpa two weeks ago, Mr. Zelaya had refused to transfer the budgeted funds—as required by law—to the council for its preparatory work. In other words, he didn't want a free election.

Mr. Chávez didn't want one either. During the Zelaya government the country had become a member of Mr. Chávez's Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), which includes Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. If power changed hands, Honduran membership would be at risk.

Last week a government official told me that Honduran intelligence has learned that Mr. Zelaya had made preparations to welcome all the ALBA presidents to the country the night of his planned June referendum. Food for a 10,000-strong blowout celebration, the official added, was on order.

ALBA has quite a bit of clout at the Organization of American States (OAS) these days, and it hasn't been hard for Mr. Chávez to control Secretary General José Miguel Insulza. The Chilean socialist desperately wants to be re-elected to his OAS post in 2010. Only a month before Mr. Zelaya was deposed, Mr. Insulza led the effort to lift the OAS membership ban on Cuba. When Mr. Zelaya was deposed, Mr. Insulza dutifully took up his instructions sent from Caracas to quash Honduran sovereignty.

Unfortunately for him, the leftist claims that Honduras could not hold fair elections flew in the face of the facts. First, the candidates were chosen in November 2008 primaries with observers from the OAS, which judged the process to be "transparent and participative." Second, all the presidential candidates—save one from a small party on the extreme left—wanted the elections to go forward. Third, though Mr. Insulza insisted on calling the removal of Mr. Zelaya a "military coup," the military had never taken charge of the government. And finally, the independent electoral tribunal, chosen by congress before Mr. Zelaya was removed, was continuing with the steps required to fulfill its constitutional mandate to conduct the vote. In the aftermath of the elections Mr. Insulza, who insisted that the group would not recognize the results, presides over a discredited OAS.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.At least the Obama administration figured out, after four months, that it had blundered. It deserves credit for realizing that elections were the best way forward, and for promising to recognize the outcome despite enormous pressure from Brazil and Venezuela. President Obama came to office intent on a foreign policy of multilateralism. Perhaps this experience will teach him that freedom does indeed have enemies.

Almost 400 foreign observers from Japan, Europe, Latin America and the U.S. traveled to Honduras for yesterday's elections. Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, the German parliament and Japan will also recognize the vote. The outpouring of international support demonstrates that Hondurans were never as alone these past five months as they thought. A good part of the world backs their desire to save their democracy from chavismo and to live in liberty.

Write to: O'
23268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: 500,000 on: November 30, 2009, 01:34:05 AM
Mohamed ElBaradei caps his contentious and ultimately failed 12-year stint as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency today, having spent many years enabling Iran's nuclear bids only to condemn them in his final days in office. Mr. ElBaradei combined his rebuke of Iran with his familiar calls for more negotiation, but we'll take his belated realism about Iran as his tacit admission that Dick Cheney and John Bolton have been right all along. Let's hope the education of the Obama Administration doesn't take as long.

As if to underscore the point, yesterday the Iranian government ordered up 10 additional uranium enrichment plants on the scale of its already operational facility in Natanz, which has a planned capacity of 54,000 centrifuges. That could mean an eventual total of more than 500,000 centrifuges, or enough to enrich about 160 bombs worth of uranium each year. Whether it can ever do that is an open question, but it does give a sense of the scale of the regime's ambitions.

The decision is also a reminder of how unchastened Iran has been by President Obama's revelation in September that Iran had been building a secret 3,000 centrifuge facility near the city of Qom. The IAEA's governing board finally got around on Friday to rebuking Iran for that deception, a vote the Administration trumpeted because both Russia and China voted with the United States. But perhaps only within the Obama Administration can a symbolic gesture by the IAEA be considered a diplomatic triumph.

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Associated Press
Mohamad ElBaradei
."Time is running out for Iran to address the international community's growing concerns about its nuclear program," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday, but the West has said this many times before. Earlier this year, Mr. Obama said Iran had a deadline of September.

The regime scoffed at Mr. Obama after he delivered a conciliating message for the Persian New Year in March, scoffed again after he mildly criticized its post-election crackdown and killing spree in June (following days of silence), and scoffed a third time by rejecting the West's offer last month to enrich Iran's uranium for it. Yet the Administration insists the enrichment deal is still Iran's for the taking. "A few years ago [the West] said we had to completely stop all our nuclear activities," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last month. "Now look where we are today."

Those are the words of a man who believes he has Mr. Obama's number. And until the President, his advisers and the Europeans realize that only punitive sanctions or military strikes will force it to reconsider its nuclear ambitions, an emboldened Islamic Republic will continue to march confidently toward a bomb over the wreckage of Mohamed ElBaradei's—and Barack Obama's—best intentions.
23269  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: November 28, 2009, 06:49:14 PM
So May 1-2 are out for you?

23270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 28, 2009, 06:41:06 PM
Putting aside the utter stupidity of the Obama team's decision, Stratfor discusses some practical details:

A Terrorist Trial in New York City
November 18, 2009 | 2153 GMT

By Ben West and Fred Burton

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Nov. 13 that the U.S. Justice Department had decided to try five suspected terrorists currently being held at Guantanamo Bay in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, located in lower Manhattan. The five suspects — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarek bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi — are all accused of being involved in the 9/11 plot, with Mohammed describing himself as the mastermind in a 2003 confession.

The announcement follows from U.S. President Barack Obama’s first executive order, which he signed on Jan. 22, to close the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and another executive order to suspend the military tribunals set up under the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists. Holder’s decision has generated much debate and highlighted the legal murkiness concerning the status of Guantanamo detainees and how best to bring them to justice.

Beyond this murkiness is the perceived security threat of bringing five suspected terrorists accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to trial in New York City. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he thought holding the trial in New York would put residents at risk. And Andrew McCarthy, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote in The New Republic that the trial will “create a public-safely nightmare for New York City.” Numerous other observers and media outlets around the world have voiced similar security concerns about the New York trial.

Although there has been much criticism of the decision to hold the trial in New York City, when it comes to prosecuting terror suspects, the Southern District of New York knows what it’s doing. The staff of the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York has gained considerable knowledge and expertise prosecuting terror cases over the years, just as the U.S. Marshals Service Special Operations Group (SOG) has gained much experience providing security for those trials. It was in the Southern District of New York in 1995 that Omar Abdel Rahman, aka the Blind Sheikh, was tried for the so-called Landmarks Plot of 1993 and received a life sentence. In 1996, Abdel Basit (aka Ramzi Yousef) and two co-conspirators were also tried in the Southern District and sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the Bojinka Plot, which also included an indictment for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the staff of the Southern District has been familiar with Mohammed for some time now). The attackers behind the 1998 attacks against the U.S. embassies were also prosecuted in the Southern District of New York and sentenced to life imprisonment. Few other courts have so much experience handling and prosecuting high-profile terrorism cases, so it should have come as no surprise that Holder named the district as the venue for the upcoming trial. On top of all this, the World Trade Center towers were also in the Southern District of New York, putting the deadliest site of the 9/11 attacks under the Southern District’s jurisdiction.

The case will be prosecuted jointly by the offices of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, led by Preet Bharara, and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, led by Neil H. MacBride. The Eastern District of Virginia has also successfully prosecuted several terrorism cases, including those of John Walker Lindh in 2002, the Virginia Jihad Network in 2005 and Zacarias Moussaoui in 2006.

While some believe that trying the so-called “Gitmo Five” in New York City will result in more terrorist attacks in the city, STRATFOR does not anticipate a marked increase in the number of plots or attacks. New York City has long been a popular target for radical Islamists — there have been nine known plots involving targets in New York uncovered since the 9/11 attacks, including two in the past six months. In May 2009, four men were arrested for attempting to detonate explosives outside a synagogue in the Bronx, and in September, Najibullah Zazi was arrested for plotting to detonate backpack explosives on trains in New York City. Other plots have included a 2007 plan to detonate fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport, a 2006 plot to detonate explosives in the Holland Tunnel and a 2004 plot to attack a subway station near Madison Square Garden.

New York City remains an alluring target for jihadists because of its symbolism. Home to more than 8 million people, it is the largest city in the United States and a global financial and media center. Whatever happens there gets more exposure and publicity than virtually anywhere else in the world. It is also a perceived center of Jewish wealth and culture (New York has the second-largest Jewish population behind Tel Aviv), compounding the threat from Islamist radicals. New York City will remain a terrorist target for many reasons other than the Gitmo Five trial. It is also interesting to note that none of the city’s other high-profile terrorism trials has ever resulted in a retaliatory attack against the city.

In addition to the federal prosecutors who will be involved in the trial having experience dealing with terrorism cases, the New York Police Department has the training, manpower and focus to provide effective physical security. Federal agents, including those of the U.S. Marshals Service SOG, will be primarily responsible for handling the five suspects and providing security inside the federal courthouse. The building is one of the most secure federal courthouses in the country, equipped with anti-vehicle borne explosive device barricades, 24-hour guard posts and high-resolution video cameras. The U.S. Marshals will be augmented by NYPD “Hercules” teams (designed to provide a surge of police presence in an area to prevent or disrupt criminal and terrorist operations) and will likely place sniper teams on nearby rooftops for added security. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic around the courthouse will be severely limited, with nearby streets closed to traffic and nearby subway entrances closed to riders.

During the trial, the five defendants will be held at the Metropolitan Correctional Complex, which is connected to the courthouse via a third-of-a-mile-long underground tunnel. This significantly reduces the threat of terrorist attack or a disruption of the proceedings by allowing security forces to control the geography of the trial venue and spot unusual activity. Another geographic benefit is the fact that Manhattan is an island with limited access points (bridges and tunnels), which makes it easier to seal off the area and control who or what gets in or out. These factors do not necessarily preclude an attack, especially a suicide attack in which the perpetrator is undeterred by the risk of death, but do decrease the options of an attacker and increase the options of law enforcement personnel in dealing with the potential risks.

Because the courthouse will be under such tight security, any attacker able to penetrate the island cordon and slip into the area would likely go after softer targets surrounding the building. The NYPD will be responsible for protecting areas outside the courthouse and will probably create a secure buffer around the complex, the depth of which will depend on the severity of any given threat. Police would have the wherewithal to put whole sections of the city under heavy lockdown and provide a level of physical security designed to thwart terrorist activities that have reached the latter stages (deployment, attack and escape). This buffer would both protect softer targets nearby and make it that much harder for would-be attackers to infiltrate the courthouse. The NYPD also has the intelligence-collecting capabilities (informants, undercover officers, surveillants, analysts, etc.) to keep a close eye on any potential threat in the area leading up to and during the trial. The NYPD developed these capabilities with a vengeance following the 9/11 attacks, and in the years since it has become quite adept at conducting preventative counterterrorism investigations rather than just reactive ones.

In addition to the NYPD, other first-responders in New York — the fire department, emergency medical services and transportation agencies — are experienced and well-trained in dealing with terrorist attacks and can support security efforts surrounding the trial. Given the 9/11 experience, Manhattan residents and workers are also well-versed in emergency action plans and preparations.

Certainly, the fact that such a high-profile trial will be held in New York City will temporarily add to the workload of federal and municipal security and emergency personnel, but in some ways it will be little more than a routine effort. The city is used to high-profile events, regularly hosting such events as the U.N. General Assembly, with its attendant flow of international VIPs. New York City has been and will remain a prime terrorist target, and the people responsible for maintaining security in the city are very good at what they do. Indeed, Manhattan — given its recent history of civic trauma and intense focus on counterterrorism — may very well possess the safest civilian court in the country.
23271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Here's the Stratfor on Sanctions on: November 28, 2009, 06:31:34 PM

By George Friedman

The Iranian government has rejected, at least for the moment, a proposal from the P-5+1 to ship the majority of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment. The group is now considering the next step in the roadmap that it laid out last April. The next step was a new round of sanctions, this time meant to be crippling. The only crippling sanction available is to cut off the supply of gasoline, since Iran imports 35 percent of its refined gasoline products. That would theoretically cripple the Iranian economy and compel the Iranians to comply with U.S. demands over the nuclear issue.

We have written extensively on the ability of sanctions to work in Iran. There is, however, a broader question, which is the general utility of sanctions in international affairs. The Iranian government said last week that sanctions don’t concern it because, historically, sanctions have not succeeded. This partly explains Iranian intransigence: The Iranians don’t feel they have anything to fear from sanctions. The question is whether the Iranian view is correct and why they would believe it — and if they are correct, why the P-5+1 would even consider imposing sanctions.

The Assumptions of Sanctions
We need to begin with a definition of sanctions. In general, sanctions are some sort of penalty imposed on a country designed to cause it sufficient pain to elicit a change in its behavior. Sanctions are intended as an alternative to war and therefore exclude violence. Thus, the entire point of sanctions, as opposed to war, is to compel changes of behavior in countries without resorting to force.

Normal sanctions are economic and come in three basic forms. First, there is seizing or freezing the assets of a country or its citizens located in another country. Second, sanctions can block the shipment of goods (or movement of people) out of the target country. Third, sanctions can block the movement of goods into a country. Minor sanctions are possible, such as placing tariffs on products imported from the target country, but those sorts of acts are focused primarily on rectifying economic imbalances and are not always driven by political interests. Thus, the United States placed tariffs on Chinese tires coming into the United States. The purpose was to get China to change its economic policies. On the other hand, placing sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s or on Sudan today are designed to achieve political and military outcomes.

It is important to consider the underlying assumptions of the decision to impose sanctions. First, there is the assumption that the target country is economically dependent in some way on the country or countries issuing the sanctions. Second, it assumes that the target country has no alternative sources for the economic activity while under sanctions. Third, it assumes that the pain caused will be sufficient to compel change. The first is relatively easy to determine and act on. The next two are far more complex.

Obviously, sanctions are an option of stronger powers toward weaker ones. It assumes that the imposition of sanctions will cause more pain to the target country than it will to the country or countries issuing sanctions, and that the target country cannot or will not use military action to counter economic sanctions. For example, the United States placed sanctions on the sale of grain to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It discovered that while the sanctions were hurting the Soviets, they were hurting American farmers as well. The pain was reciprocal and there was an undertone of danger if the Soviets had chosen to counter the sanctions with military force. An example of that concerned Japan in 1941. The United States halted the shipment of oil and scrap metal to Japan in an attempt to force it to reshape its policies in China and Indochina. The sanctions were crippling, as the Americans expected. However, the Japanese response was not capitulation, but Pearl Harbor.

To understand the difficulties of determining and acting on the assumptions of imposing sanctions, consider Cuba. The United States has imposed extensive economic sanctions on Cuba for years. During the first decades of the sanctions, they were relatively effective, in the sense that third countries tended to comply rather than face possible sanctions themselves from the United States. As time went on, the fear of sanctions declined. A European country might have been inclined to comply with U.S. sanctions in the 1960s or 1970s, for both political reasons and for concern over potential retaliatory sanctions from the United States. However, as the pattern of international economic activity shifted, and the perception of both Cuba and the United States changed within these countries, the political implication to comply with U.S. wishes declined, while the danger of U.S. sanctions diminished. Placing sanctions on the European Union would be mutually disastrous and the United States would not do it over Cuba, or virtually any other issue.

As a result, the sanctions the United States placed on Cuba have dramatically diminished in importance. Cuba can trade with most of the world, and other countries can invest in Cuba if they wish. The flow of American tourists is blocked, but European, Canadian and Latin American tourists who wish to go to Cuba can go. Cuba has profound economic problems, but those problems are only marginally traceable to sanctions. Indeed, the U.S. embargo has provided the Castro regime with a useful domestic explanation for its economic failures.

This points to an interesting characteristic of sanctions. One of the potential goals of placing sanctions on a country is to generate unrest and internal opposition , forcing regime change or at least policy change. This rarely happens. Instead, the imposition of sanctions creates a sense of embattlement within the country. Two things follow from this. First, there is frequently a boost in support for the regime that might otherwise not be there. The idea that economic pain takes precedence over patriotism or concern for maintaining national sovereignty is not a theory with a great deal of empirical support. Second, the sanctions allow a regime to legitimize declaring a state of emergency — which is what sanctions intend to create — and then use that state of emergency to increase repression and decrease the opportunity for an opposition to emerge.

Consider an extreme example of sanctions during World War II, when both the Axis and Allies tried to use airpower as a means of imposing massive economic hardship on the population, thereby attempting to generate unrest and opposition to the regime. Obviously, strategic bombing is not sanctions, but it is instructive to consider them in this sense. When we look at the Battle of Britain and the strategic bombing campaigns against Germany and Japan, we find that countereconomic warfare did not produce internal opposition that the regime could not handle. Indeed, it could reasonably be argued that it increased support for the regime. It is assumed that economic hardship can generate regime change, yet even in some of the most extreme cases of economic hardship, that didn’t happen.

Imposing an effective sanctions regime on a country is difficult for two reasons. First, economic pain does not translate into political pressure. Second, creating effective economic pain normally requires a coalition. The United States is not in a position to unilaterally impose effective sanctions. In order to do that, it must act in concert with other countries that are prepared not only to announce sanctions but — and this is far more important and difficult — also to enforce them. This means that it must be in the political interest of all countries that deal with the target to impose the sanctions.

It is rarely possible to create such a coalition. Nations’ interests diverge too much. Sometimes they converge, as in South Africa prior to the end of apartheid. South Africa proved that sanctions can work if there is a coalition that does not benefit extensively from economic and political ties with the target country, and where the regime is composed of a minority within a very large sea of hostility. South Africa was a special case. The same attempt at a sanctions regime in Sudan over Darfur has failed because many countries have political or economic interests there.

It is also difficult to police the sanctions. By definition, as the sanctions are imposed, the financial returns for violating them increase. Think of U.S. drug laws as a form of sanctions. They raise the price of drugs in the United States and increase the incentives for smugglers. When a broad sanctions regime was placed on Iraq, vast amounts of money were made from legitimate and illegitimate trading with Iraq. Regardless of what a national government might say (and it may well say one thing and do another) individuals and corporations will find ways around the sanctions. Indeed, Obama’s proposed sanctions on corporations are intended precisely for this reason. As always, the issue is one of intelligence and enforcement. People can be very good at deception for large amounts of money.

The difficulty of creating effective sanctions raises the question of why they are used. The primary answer is that they allow a nation to appear to be acting effectively without enduring significant risks. Invading a country, as the United States found in Iraq, poses substantial risks. The imposition of sanctions on relatively weaker countries without the ability to counter the sanctions is much less risky. The fact that it is also far less effective is compensated for by the lowered risk.

In truth, many sanction regimes are enforced as political gestures, either for domestic political reasons, or to demonstrate serious intent on the international scene. In some cases, sanctions are a way of appearing to act so that military action can be deferred. No one expects the sanctions to change the regime or its policies, but the fact that sanctions are in place can be used as an argument against actions by other nations.

This is very much the case with Iran. No one expects Russia or China (or even many of the European states) to fully comply with a sanctions regime on gasoline. Even if they did, no one expects the flow of gasoline to be decisively cut off. There will be too many people prepared to take the risk of smuggling gasoline to Iran for that to happen. Even if the U.S. blockaded Iranian ports, the Caucasus and Central Asia are far too disorderly and the monetary rewards of smuggling are too great of an incentive to make the gasoline sanctions effective. Additionally, the imposition of sanctions will both rally the population to the regime as well as provide justification for an intense crackdown. The probability of sanctions forcing policy changes or regime change in Iran is slim.

Balancing Acquiescence and War
But sanctions have one virtue: They delay or block military action. So long as sanctions are being considered or being imposed, the argument can be made to those who want military action that it is necessary to give the sanctions time to work. Therefore, in this case, sanctions allow the United States to block any potential military actions by Israel against Iran while appearing domestically to be taking action. Should the United States wish to act, the sanctions route gives the Europeans the option of arguing that military action is premature. Furthermore, if military action took place without Russian approval while Russia was cooperating in a sanctions regime, it would have increased room to maneuver against U.S. interests in the Middle East, portraying the United States as trigger-happy.

The ultimate virtue of sanctions is that they provide a platform between acquiescence and war. The effectiveness of that platform is not nearly as important as the fact that it provides a buffer against charges of inaction and demands for further action. In Sudan, for example, no one expects sanctions to work, but their presence allows business to go on as usual while deflecting demands for more significant action.

The P-5+1 is now shaping its response to Iran. They are not even committed to the idea of sanctions. But they will move to sanctions if it appears that Israel or the United States is prepared to move aggressively. Sanctions satisfy the need to appear to be acting while avoiding the risks of action.
23272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Whackostan offensive on: November 28, 2009, 06:27:23 PM
Pakistan: The South Waziristan Offensive Continues
Stratfor Today » November 25, 2009 | 2145 GMT

A Pakistani army soldier guards his South Waziristan post Nov. 18 as he watches internally displaced civilians fleeing from military operations against Taliban militants


Inspector-General of the Pakistani Frontier Corps Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan said Nov. 24 that South Waziristan would be split into two separate agencies. The statement comes nearly six weeks into a Pakistani military offensive to root out Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) forces from their stronghold in South Waziristan, and will form part of Pakistan’s political strategy to maintain alliances with neutral tribal leaders and prevent the Taliban from re-entrenching themselves in the region.

The military offensive Rah-i-Nijat is entering its sixth week of ground operations in South Waziristan. The Pakistani army has been fighting through a section of South Waziristan home to the Mehsud tribe that was, until recently, the center of operations for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The military has employed a strategy of attacking this area from three directions: Jandola-Sararogha, Shakai-Kaniguram and Razmak-Makeen. Each axis has led to the capture of major roads and major population centers in the area — objectives that deny militants mobility and sanctuary.

The military has not completely consolidated its control over the area — militant ambushes, mortar and improvised explosive devices (IED) attacks continue. However, the military has captured and cleared the major population centers of Sararogha, Kaniguram and Makeen, and is now moving to other strategic population centers such as Ladha (where there is a fort that was taken by the TTP in 2008) and Janata, as well as clearing smaller villages outside of the larger towns.

It is important to emphasize that military operations are ongoing and that the Pakistani forces deployed to South Waziristan will be tied up there for some time. Presently, there is no withdrawal plan and the military has not indicated when operation Rah-i-Nijat will conclude. This also means that internally displace persons (IDPs) in South Waziristan will continue to be without homes for a while. However, the total IDPs resulting from Rah-i-Nijat number around 300,000 — much more manageable for the government than the nearly 2 million IDPs that resulted from Rah-i-Rast, the May 2009 military operation in the Swat Valley.

Pakistan, however, still faces many challenges, including how it can mitigate the dispersion of soldiers and prevent the TTP from simply re-establishing itself outside of South Waziristan. Even before military operations began, many of the high-level TTP commanders were believed to have fled to other areas of Pakistan, so it is key that the militant threat does not return and re-establish itself as soon as the military operations end. By the nature of non-state groups like the Taliban, leaders are elusive, so capturing or killing all of them is extremely difficult, but disrupting their bases of operations will likely weaken their power and frustrate their objectives against the Pakistani state.

In addition to the South Waziristan, the army has also paid considerable attention to the northern Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) agencies of Bajaur, Orakzai, and Khyber, where pre-existing Taliban allies remain strong and have likely attracted at least some fleeing militants from South Waziristan. Militants in Bajaur Agency continue to engage the Pakistani army, and as recently as Nov. 22, the army killed 16 militants in an operation there that was part of the larger mission of preventing the spread of militant fighters. Despite recent success against militants in Bajaur, Islamabad still faces belligerents there.

Meanwhile, in Orakzai Agency (which was the home of current TTP leader Hakeemullah Mehsud before he took over following Baitullah Mehsud’s death), the Pakistani air force has conducted a sustained air campaign against several militant positions and killed scores of militants. However, it is clear that the TTP and its militant allies have maintained their capability to attack the Pakistani state, as seen by the string of attacks since Rah-i-Nijat began.

Additionally, Pakistani ground forces and helicopter gunships have been patrolling Khyber Agency to protect the major route that is used to supply NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan as well as deny militants a sanctuary from which they can strike at nearby Peshawar. Lashkar-i-Islam (LI) in collaboration with the TTP is likely responsible for recent attacks in Peshawar. Even though LI is more oriented toward organized crime and making money by smuggling goods into Afghanistan, it has an interest in allying with the TTP (which it has been in competition with) in order to resist the state’s offensive.

The Nov. 24 announcement that South Waziristan will be divided and politically administered as two separate agencies (raising the number of agencies in FATA from seven to eight) is also part of Islamabad’s strategy to maintain order in South Waziristan once the military mission there is complete. The specific geographical split is not yet clear, but it will largely divide the Mehsud and Waziri tribal areas. The Mehsud area is in the center of South Waziristan, where the TTP has its largest presence and, consequently, where the Pakistani military has launched operation Rah-i-Nijat. The Waziri tribal area (largely under the control of Taliban warlord Maulvi Nazir Ahmad) is located primarily in the west along the border with Afghanistan.

Maulvi Nazir and the Waziri tribes located along the Afghan border have cooperated with Islamabad by remaining neutral before and during the execution of Rah-i-Nijat. Nazir’s forces are more concerned with fighting Western forces in Afghanistan and have not taken up arms against Islamabad. The understanding reached between Islamabad and Nazir was an effort to divide forces in South Waziristan in order to isolate the TTP and its leadership from neighboring tribes, whose combined resistance to the Pakistani military would have frustrated their mission. Splitting South Waziristan agency in two would be a continuation of the strategy to divide control of the geographically difficult-to-govern territory in order to weaken remaining TTP elements. This also would have put the TTP’s area of operation under Islamabad’s direct control without unnecessarily impeding upon other actors in the region (like the Waziris) whom Islamabad is wary of further alienating.

Islamabad is considering several options to govern South Waziristan and FATA in general after Rah-i-Nijat. First, FATA may lose its autonomous status and become another province, which would give Islamabad more control over the area’s governance and services. Another option would be to follow the recent example of Gilgit-Baltistan in the north, which is not a new province but will now be responsible for its own regional executive, legislature and judiciary. FATA could also be incorporated into the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and its governing structures assimilated into the NWFP’s government (which is much more closely controlled than FATA). Regardless of what happens, it will be quite some time before military control on the ground can permit effective political changes that would drastically alter the way the area is governed.

The federal government is responsible for these decisions, which is itself suffering from destabilizing disputes like the one surrounding the National Reconciliation Ordinance — a highly controversial piece of legislation that granted amnesty to politicians accused of corruption and other criminal activity, many of whom are part of the current government.

But for now, the Pakistani military is still occupied with the task of securing the area and preventing the TTP from taking back what it has lost. The future success of this offensive depends upon the outcome of the political battle in Islamabad over the NRO, which will be heating up once the legislation expires on Nov. 28.
23273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Nukes and a presidential struggle on: November 28, 2009, 06:21:07 PM
Pakistan: Nuclear Weapons and a Presidential Struggle
Stratfor Today » November 28, 2009 | 1915 GMT

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Sept. 29 in ItalySummary
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari late on Nov. 27 handed over control of the country’s nuclear arsenal to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. The move is more about the president’s political survival than the South Asian nation’s nuclear weapons. Zardari’s efforts are unlikely to bear fruit and the potential political instability could have grave implications for Islamabad’s counter-insurgency efforts against jihadists and Washington’s plans for the region.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari late on Nov. 27 transferred power of the country’s nuclear arsenal to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. According to a statement from presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, Zardari issued the 2009 National Command Authority (NCA) Ordinance — an amendment to the original ordinance that was issued by former President Pervez Musharraf naming the president chairman and the prime minister vice-chairman. The amendment is part of a re-promulgation of 27 ordinances that were enacted by Musharraf, which the Supreme Court ruled on July 31would expire on Nov. 28 if parliament did not approve them.

The move is Zardari’s way of catering to the demand from across the country that he shed powers he inherited from Musharraf, yet allowing him to retain control over the government. He hopes giving up the chairmanship will help defuse pressure from the military — the state’s principal stakeholder.

The military opposes Zardari primarily because it perceives he is working with the United States to weaken the position of the military through the recently approved Kerry-Lugar Aid package. The military has also been particularly concerned that the multibillion-dollar assistance program undermines the country’s national defense by seeking to limit its nuclear weapons arsenal. But domestic and international circumstances limit the military’s ability to get rid of the president, hence the increasingly complex legal procedures against him.

From Zardari’s point of view, the chairmanship is symbolic: The nuclear establishment is dominated by the military. The chairmanship was significant under Musharraf, who served as president and military chief. Currently, with a civilian president, the real players in the nuclear establishment are the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC); Gen. Tariq Majid, who heads the powerful Development Control Committee (DCC); and the director general of Strategic Plans Division (SPD), retired Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai.

The chairman only plays a role when rare strategic decisions have to be made — at which time the entire committee meets. Given that the chairman, despite being the committee’s head, is one of many NCA members who are among the top brass and civilian leadership in the nation, Zardari is not losing much by handing the post over to Gilani. If anything, it could help, given that Gilani is more acceptable to the military and the country as a whole. The DCC and the Employment Control Committee (which includes the defense, interior and finance ministers, the CJCSC, the SPD chief and the three armed services chiefs with the foreign minister at the helm) make up the NCA.

As far as command and control of the nuclear arsenal are concerned, these political maneuverings and domestic changes are superficial. The nuclear establishment is not affected by the political changes. In the event of a true crisis, the civilian and military leadership would be jointly involved in nuclear decisions.

In addition to the NCA move, Zardari on Nov. 27 told private television channel Express News that the controversial 17th amendment would be abolished by parliament in December. The 17th amendment of 2003 rendered Musharraf more powerful than the legislature or the prime minister, as opposed to the original 1973 constitution. Yet it is unclear to what extent Zardari, who also heads the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, would be willing to heed to the growing demand that he shed powers he enjoys, including the right to dismiss parliament and appoint the military chiefs.

The country’s constitution calls for a parliamentary form of government in which the popularly elected prime minister is the chief executive, while the president, elected by national and provincial legislatures, is a ceremonial head of state. However, through long periods of military rule, through some crafty constitutional and political engineering, the president has remained powerful while the prime minister was relegated to the status of a vice-president. Interestingly, it is ironic that the military wants to return to the original system, when it favored a strong presidency in the past.

Ideally, Zardari would like to appoint the next army chief when Gen. Ashfaq Kayani retires in November 2010. Given Zardari’s weak position and the pressure from the military, he is likely to also relinquish this authority to the prime minister. As head of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party — and in his pursuit to hold onto that role — Zardari must try to retain control of the government, even as he is forced to accept a presidency with ceremonial powers. The dilemma for Zardari is: How does he retain control over the government should he be forced to accept a presidency with ceremonial powers?

Furthermore, within months he may face a constitutional ouster, given the brewing controversy surrounding the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which also expired Nov. 28. Musharraf in late 2007 issued the NRO, which granted amnesty to politicians accused of corruption, murder and other criminal activity.That made it possible for Zardari and many of his key allies to rise to power. The law’s expiration sets into motion a political and constitutional crisis because of the revival of all criminal cases against thousands of senior government officials — a development temporarily delayed by the Eid al-Adha holiday.

Once the country returns from the holiday, the domestic political crisis will likely overshadow all other issues. Because Zardari has legal immunity from prosecution so long as he holds the office of president, it will be sometime before the presidency will be affected. However, many senior Cabinet ministers, appointees and bureaucrats will have to face the courts – overwhelming the judiciary. Zardari’s opponents seek to force him out of office by challenging his eligibility to run for the presidency in the Supreme Court, which is expected to be the main event in the coming legal storm.

Pakistan’s civilian institutions historically have been weak, with political instability hardwired into the state system. Even as the civilian institutions try to assert themselves, the end result is the same instability — and it comes at a critical time when the country’s military has its hands full with a major counter-insurgency offensive against jihadists. This latest round of instability could exacerbate the problems the United States and its NATO allies face as they try to come up with a strategy for neighboring Afghanistan.
23274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-afpakia on: November 28, 2009, 06:16:04 PM
Pakistan, India: Nuclear Rivalry on the Subcontinent
Stratfor Today » November 25, 2009 | 1516 GMT

Pakistani ballistic missiles on display in Karachi in November 2008Summary
Pakistan and India have been locked in a bitter regional rivalry since their partition into separate entities on the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Three wars and a nuclear arms race later, the two countries are miles apart in terms of strategic capability. India had a head start in developing nuclear weapons and thus has more confidence in their utility, while Pakistan remains geopolitically exposed and vulnerable — with a greater need for a nuclear deterrent.

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In August, a pair of independent U.S. nuclear experts estimated that Pakistan had 70 to 90 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, an increase over their 2007 estimate of 60 weapons. But it was only in a follow-on publication of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists released Nov. 10 that the latest figure appeared, along with the estimate of the size of India’s arsenal — a lower figure of 60 to 80 warheads (the last full assessment of India’s arsenal was published in 2008). The report was picked up a week later in the Indian press, on the heels of an article in the Nov. 16 issue of The New Yorker on Pakistani nuclear security.

These are only the most recent high points in the ongoing media clamor over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the status of nuclear forces on the subcontinent and a pending Bush-era civilian nuclear deal between India and the United States (Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Washington on Nov. 22 to discuss the deal). But the latest figures on the size of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal are only estimates and provide little perspective on the more complex underlying issues. While STRATFOR continues to examine and closely monitor Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, we thought it timely and appropriate to focus now on the realities of the nuclear rivalry on the subcontinent.

A Brief History
India tested its first nuclear device in 1974, but it began planning to construct the facility in which to reprocess the plutonium that would ultimately produce the fissile material for that test in 1964. By comparison, Pakistan’s program began in earnest in 1972, following the country’s devastating defeat by India in 1971 that resulted in the loss of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). But even though the program was initiated, much needed to be done to consolidate control over the country and reconstitute the military in the wake of that conflict. In other words, when Pakistan began its nuclear program, India was already nearing completion of its first full-scale nuclear device.

Nevertheless, then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made it clear following India’s 1974 nuclear test that Pakistan would develop a nuclear weapon even if the Pakistani people had to eat grass. Perhaps no other statement better reflects Pakistan’s determination to develop and maintain a nuclear deterrent against India.

From its 1974 test until 1998, India had nearly a quarter century to learn from the data and experience that came from the test and to focus on refining the design of its warheads. By the time the two countries faced off with a spate of nuclear tests in 1998, India had a series of second-generation warheads — and what was reported to be a crude thermonuclear configuration — ready to go. The relative maturity of India’s program given its previous experience and the comparative wealth of intellectual, human and fiscal resources that New Delhi enjoyed meant that India was in a position to take a much greater leap forward in terms of nuclear weapons sophistication in 1998 than Pakistan was.

The Challenge of Nuclear Weapons
Despite this comparative advantage, however, India’s five 1998 tests saw only one or two clear, full-scale nuclear detonations. The larger detonation, estimated to have been in the 12-25 kiloton range (i.e., from just smaller than the Hiroshima bomb to just larger than the Nagasaki bomb), is thought to have been the crude thermonuclear design — experts suggest that the second stage may have failed to ignite. India claims a yield roughly three times that which was measured and that several of the remaining tests were intended to have subkiloton yields. The fact is, in the nearly half century since India began making plans to reprocess plutonium for weapons purposes, it has not demonstrated a full-scale weapons test indicative of destructive power beyond that of the basic implosion device used against Nagasaki in 1945.

No doubt India has deployed nuclear weapons that are considerably smaller in size and more efficient than those first American designs from 1945. And it has no doubt adjusted its weapons designs based on the 1998 test data. But India’s position today as a nuclear power serves as a reminder of the challenges of weaponization. Even relatively crude and simple nuclear warhead configurations are incredibly complex, involving highly sophisticated metallurgy, explosives, quality assurance and hardened and reliable circuitry. Having a high degree of confidence that these weapons will work as designed in a crisis when they reach their target is no small matter. After hasty assembly and dispersal, a warhead will experience a wide range of extremes in terms of acceleration, vibration and temperature during the delivery process.

India’s Agni II medium-range ballistic missileTo attain a high degree of confidence, engineers must have an experimental understanding of their warhead designs and configurations that is as close as possible to an understanding of the weapon in its operational environment. Much “subcritical” and other non-nuclear testing can be done, but until these complex and sophisticated designs are validated through actual testing, only relatively small and conservative tweaks are likely to make it into final production weapons.

As a point of comparison, the United States has carried out more than 1,000 nuclear tests over the years, the Soviet Union more than 700. It is on this basis and with this background that the world’s most modern and sophisticated nuclear weapons have been built. A modern and capable country hardly needs hundreds of nuclear tests to build a credible nuclear deterrent, but India’s dearth of testing experience and data is a pivotal constraint on the complexity and sophistication of its deployed arsenal.

And Pakistan suffers from even more profound constraints. The country is geopolitically fractious and fragile. It must expend a great deal of effort to control peripheral territories and dissident populations while mustering enormous resources to build and maintain a standing army to defend Punjab — the country’s core — from India’s qualitatively and quantitatively superior military. Meanwhile, its economy requires considerable capital investment merely to function. For a country like Pakistan to build and field a nuclear arsenal at all is an impressive achievement.

But the existence of a Pakistani nuclear arsenal must first be understood as a testament to the disadvantages Pakistan faces in its rivalry with India. The intensity of this rivalry, even in times of relative tranquility, is difficult to overstate. It is the omnipresence of India and the Pakistani fear of Indian aggression — perhaps the one thing that all the ethnic and religious groups in Pakistan can agree on — that has made the immense investment in the nuclear arsenal over the course of decades possible.

And at the end of the day, no matter what Pakistan does to further develop its nuclear program, as long as the fundamental dynamics that define the rivalry on the subcontinent persist, Pakistan is unlikely to ever catch up with India. India started its program earlier and enjoyed a considerable lead in terms of testing, and it continues to work diligently to maintain that lead. And this gap is one India has a strong incentive to maintain by continuing its own program development, which means that Pakistan must work frantically simply to prevent the gap from getting any wider.

Though Pakistan reportedly obtained some nuclear test data from China (which was probably old test data) and some designs (which also may have come from China) for the configuration of nuclear warheads, the real trick was the application of this data. Testing data is far more applicable to the arsenal of the country of origin and has only limited applicability to a foreign country independently developing its own arsenal. One country’s test data also does not validate another country’s manufacturing or quality assurance processes. Because of this, even if Pakistan received test data from a number of other countries, it would not give Pakistan the boost it needed to surpass India.

Similarly, blueprints for proven weapons designs are certainly helpful, but it is the testing of indigenously manufactured versions that really validates a country’s attempts to re-create or modify the designs. In the case of both outside weapons designs and testing data, it is the application of foreign data or other assistance and subsequent validation that really matters.

This application began with Pakistan’s six tests in 1998. Only two produced yields in the kiloton range, and neither reached even the low threshold of the roughly 16 kilotons of the Hiroshima bomb. (Pakistan claims that several were intended to be subkiloton tests.) Though Pakistan undoubtedly learned a great deal from these tests, it has not had the opportunity — as India has had — to subject lessons learned from those tests to a second round.

Correlation of Forces
This is not to say that the nuclear rivalry on the subcontinent is not the most dynamic and fast-paced in the world today. It is. And this certainly is not to say that the programs of both countries are not advancing at a considerable pace. They are. But while estimates of the size of their nuclear arsenals may spark some international concern or have some geopolitical significance, they tell us next to nothing about the strategic military balance on the subcontinent. This is because each country approaches the issue of maintaining its nuclear arsenal from a very different perspective.

India enjoys considerable strategic depth and holds the advantage in terms of the range of its delivery systems. Its qualitative and quantitative advantages extend to the conventional battlefield, and its core is not immediately vulnerable to conventional Pakistani aggression. In short, it has more time to react and can store some of its weapons outside of Pakistan’s reach, meaning that New Delhi can feel more secure with fewer weapons.

Every weapon in Pakistan, by comparison, is within range of India’s arsenal. Indian forces poised on the Pakistani border are also poised on the Punjabi core, the demographic, industrial, agricultural and geographic heartland of Pakistan. Pakistan must have more nuclear weapons to account for attrition of its arsenal and also to react on the battlefield to overwhelming conventional Indian force. Islamabad does not enjoy the luxury of time that New Delhi does. Similarly, Pakistan has far more reason to be concerned about the reliability and operational performance of its weapons in combat, which means that for each target or operational need it must dedicate additional bombs to account for that uncertainty.

Pakistan’s strategic disadvantages, in other words, present a substantial need for nuclear weapons. On the other hand, India enjoys considerably more room to maneuver, allowing it to rely less on its nuclear arsenal for its strategic security. Given (in all likelihood) India’s considerably higher degree of confidence in its weapons, its ideal nuclear strength may actually be less than Pakistan’s.

In any case, debating the precise status of the arsenals when the details of each are a matter of national security — and especially when estimates place them so close together — is largely academic. What is knowable about the strategic balance between India and Pakistan is defined by clear constraints and geopolitical realities. Despite progress in developing the Pakistani arsenal, nothing in the last decade has altered the fundamental realities of the nuclear rivalry on the subcontinent.
23275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / E-bombs on: November 28, 2009, 10:59:55 AM,3566,513295,00.html

Portable 'E-Bombs' Could Take Down Jetliners
Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Weapons experts and techno-thriller fans are familiar with the concept of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) — a supermassive blast of electricity, usually from a nuclear blast high above ground, that fries electronic circuits for miles around, crippling computers, cars and most other modern gadgets.
Now comes word that a much smaller EMP device, or "e-bomb," could be carried in a car, or even on someone's person — and be used to take down an airliner.
"Once it is known that aircraft are vulnerable to particular types of disruption, it isn't too much of a leap to build a device that can produce that sort of disruption," Israeli counter-terrorism expert Yael Shahar tells New Scientist magazine. "And much of this could be built from off-the-shelf components or dual-use technologies."
Shahar says she's especially worried about two devices — one called a Marx generator, which beams an EMP at a target, and the other with the "Back to the Future"-like name of flux-compression generator.
The latter was developed by the Soviets during the 1950s when Marx generators proved too expensive. Basically, an explosive charge is set off at one end of a cylinder of charged copper coils, and the resulting shock wave sends out a powerful electric pulse as it travels down the tube.
It might take a big flux-compression generator to darken a city neighborhood. But a smaller one could take out the steering, navigation and communication systems of a jetliner, especially if pointed at the cockpit.
As for Marx generators, which are used by power companies, medical researchers and labs, you can buy the plans to build one online for $10, or a fully assembled commercial unit for several hundred dollars.
Shahar adds that as aircraft manufacturers switch to lighter, stronger composite materials in place of aluminum, they're actually making the planes more vulnerable.
"What is needed is extensive shielding of electronic components and the vast amount of cables running down the length of the aircraft," she tells New Scientist.
23276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: November 28, 2009, 09:28:46 AM
Stratfor had a recent piece about how a) sanctions don't work, and that therefore b) their function is to avoid acting.

This certainly makes sense.  OTOH, if we get Russia and China on board it does seem that sanctions (e.g. refined petroleum products) could generate substantial leverage.
23277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Jobs for the Taliban on: November 28, 2009, 09:10:11 AM
I bet President Bush would have appreciated such support from POTH when he was rallying the nation to back the Surge , , , but I digress , , ,


Afghans Offer Jobs to Taliban Rank and File if They Defect Recommend
Published: November 27, 2009
JALALABAD, Afghanistan — The American-backed campaign to persuade legions of Taliban gunmen to stop fighting got under way here recently, in an ornate palace filled with Afghan tribal leaders and one very large former warlord leading the way.

“O.K., I want you guys to go out there and persuade the Taliban to sit down and talk,” Gul Agha Shirzai, the governor of Jalalabad, told a group of 25 tribal leaders from four eastern provinces. In a previous incarnation, Mr. Shirzai was the American-picked governor of Kandahar Province after the Taliban fell in 2001.

“Do whatever you have to do,” the rotund Mr. Shirzai told the assembled elders. “I’ll back you up.”

After about two hours of talking, Mr. Shirzai and the tribal elders rose, left for their respective provinces and promised to start turning the enemy.

The meeting is part of a battlefield push to lure local fighters and commanders away from the Taliban by offering them jobs in development projects that Afghan tribal leaders help select, paid by the American military and the Afghan government.

By enlisting the tribal leaders to help choose the development projects, the Americans also hope to help strengthen both the Afghan government and the Pashtun tribal networks.

These efforts are focusing on rank-and-file Taliban; while there are some efforts under way to negotiate with the leaders of the main insurgent groups, neither American nor Afghan officials have much faith that those talks will succeed soon.

Afghanistan has a long history of fighters switching sides — sometimes more than once. Still, efforts so far to persuade large numbers of Taliban fighters to give up have been less than a complete success. To date, about 9,000 insurgents have turned in their weapons and agreed to abide by the Afghan Constitution, said Muhammad Akram Khapalwak, the chief administrator for the Peace and Reconciliation Commission in Kabul.

But in an impoverished country ruined by 30 years of war, tribal leaders said that many more insurgents would happily put down their guns if there was something more worthwhile to do.

“Most of the Taliban in my area are young men who need jobs,” said Hajji Fazul Rahim, a leader of the Abdulrahimzai tribe, which spans three eastern provinces. “We just need to make them busy. If we give them work, we can weaken the Taliban.”

In the Jalalabad program, tribal elders would reach out to Taliban commanders to press them to change sides. The commanders and their fighters then would be offered jobs created by local development programs.

The Pashtuns, who form the core of the Taliban, make up a largely tribal society, with families connected to one another by kinship and led by groups of elders. Over the years, the Pashtun tribes have been substantially weakened, with elders singled out by three groups: Taliban fighters, the rebels who fought the former Soviet Union and the soldiers of the former Soviet Union itself. The decimation of the tribes has left Afghan society largely atomized.

Afghan and American officials hope that the plan to make peace with groups of Taliban fighters will complement an American-led effort to set up anti-Taliban militias in many parts of the country: the Pashtun tribes will help fight the Taliban, and they will make deals with the Taliban. And, by so doing, Afghan tribal society can be reinvigorated.

“We’re trying to put pressure on the leaders, and at the same time peel away their young fighters,” said an American military official in Kabul involved in the reconciliation effort. “This is not about handing bags of money to an insurgent.”

The Afghan reconciliation plan is intended to duplicate the Awakening movement in Iraq, where Sunni tribal leaders, many of them insurgents, agreed to stop fighting and in many cases were paid to do so. The Awakening contributed to the remarkable decline in violence in Iraq.

In the autumn of 2001, during the opening phase of the American-led war in Afghanistan, dozens of warlords fighting for the Taliban agreed to defect to the American-backed rebels. As in Iraq, the defectors were often enticed by cash, sometimes handed out by American Army Special Forces officers.

At a ceremony earlier this month in Kabul, about 70 insurgents laid down their guns before the commissioners and agreed to accept the Afghan Constitution. Some of the men had fought for the Taliban, some for Hezb-i-Islami, another insurgent group. The fighters’ motives ranged from disillusion to exhaustion.

“How long should we fight the government? How many more years?” said Molawi Fazullah, a Taliban lieutenant who surrendered with nine others. “Our leaders misled us, and we destroyed our country.”

Like many fighters who gave up at the ceremony, he shrouded his face with a scarf and sunglasses, for fear of being identified by his erstwhile comrades.

The Americans say they have no plans to give cash to local Taliban commanders. They say they would rather give them jobs.

In a defense appropriations bill recently approved by Congress, lawmakers set aside $1.3 billion for a program known by its acronym, CERP, a discretionary fund for American officers. Ordinarily, CERP money is used for development projects, but the language in the bill says officers can use the money to support the “reintegration into Afghan society” of those who have given up fighting.

For all the efforts under way to entice Taliban fighters to change sides, there will always be the old-fashioned approach: deadly force. American commanders also want to squeeze them; such is the rationale behind Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s request for tens of thousands of additional American troops.

Indeed, sometimes force alone does the trick. On Oct. 9, American Special Forces soldiers killed Ghulam Yahia, an insurgent commander believed responsible for, among other things, sending several suicide bombers into the western city of Herat. Mr. Yahia had changed sides himself in the past: earlier in the decade, he was Herat’s mayor.

When the Americans killed Mr. Yahia, in a mountain village called Bedak, 120 of his fighters defected to the Afghan government. Others went into hiding. Abdul Wahab, a former lieutenant of Mr. Yahia’s who led the defectors, said that the Afghan government had so far done nothing to protect them or offer them jobs. But he said he was glad he had made the jump anyway.

“We are tired of war,” he said. “We don’t want it anymore.”

Sangar Rahimi and Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan.
23278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Any significance on: November 28, 2009, 09:06:07 AM
Any signficance to the IAEA finally admitting that Iran is going for nukes?

Any significance to the Russians and, for the first time, the Chinese signing a resolution against the Iranian nuke program?
23279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: NY dunks property rights on: November 28, 2009, 09:03:22 AM
New York judges served up what basketball fans call a facial on Tuesday, when an appellate court ruled that the state may seize homes and small businesses in Brooklyn for the benefit of a private developer and the New Jersey Nets. The decision represents a backward step for the effort to protect property rights at the state level since the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London.

The case, Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, dealt with plans by developer Forest City Ratner to build a new arena for the Nets as well as snazzy apartments and offices on land currently occupied by homes and businesses. To make way for the sports complex, the state declared the property "blighted" and used its power of eminent domain to hand it to the developer.

Such unabashed takings have an unfortunate history in New York state, where the political class has a habit of using its powers on behalf of well-connected private interests. Caught under the wheels are average citizens whose only recourse is to try to defend their property rights in court.

So much for that. In allowing the property seizure, the Court of Appeals dodged some of the central challenges to the condemnation, including whether the Empire State Development Corporation's designation of blight in the Atlantic Yards area was applied after the stadium project had already been planned, making it a "pretext." Nor did the court take on the question—at the heart of eminent domain law since Kelo—whether economic development may be considered a public use under the New York Constitution.

Instead, the majority argued that because the state had designated the area as blighted, the takings were therefore a "public use," and it was not the place of the court to interfere. Nevermind that the determination of blight was based largely on a study funded by . . . the aspiring developer.

Courts in New York have been famously hostile to eminent domain challenges, but 43 states have adjusted their laws since Kelo to provide stronger protections for property owners. The New York ruling vindicates Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's prediction in dissent in Kelo that "the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms." Q.E.D.
23280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carly Fiorina on: November 28, 2009, 08:59:16 AM


When Carly Fiorina sat down to speak with me recently, I was briefly taken aback. The former CEO of Hewlett Packard and current candidate for U.S. Senate from California was sporting a close-cropped, salt-and-pepper hairdo. Having completed six months of treatment for breast cancer, the 55-year-old Ms. Fiorina has dispensed with the auburn wig she'd been wearing as her hair grows back.

She says her health is now fine, and that "after chemotherapy Barbara Boxer isn't that scary anymore," referring to the three-term Democratic incumbent she wants to unseat in 2010. She laughs when I suggest her new 'do may get her a hearing in precincts like Berkeley and San Francisco. On a more serious note, she says that "in these hard times, a lot of people across the spectrum will listen to my message—that California can only recover if we encourage economic growth and restrain spending and job-killing regulation."

With a 12.5% unemployment rate, the Golden State is certainly in trouble. In 2007 alone, 260,000 Californians moved to states with more opportunity. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation says only New York and New Jersey have worse business tax climates. And a new Los Angeles Times poll found that more than half of California residents think the state's major problems won't fade as the economy recovers.

Ms. Fiorina is not shy in pointing out what's to blame. "The high tax, big government, regulatory regime we see in California is the current course and speed for where the nation is headed," she warns. "California is a great test case, a factual demonstration that those programs don't work." She notes that while state spending has significantly outstripped inflation in recent years, every year government services perform more poorly and it becomes harder to open a business. "I very much doubt Hewlett Packard could be founded today as a manufacturing company in California," she adds soberly.

There are signs California voters have had enough. After the legislature passed a huge $12.5 billion tax increase last February to plug the state's budget gap, it put a measure on the ballot to extend the tax hikes for two years. The tax failed by an almost 2-to-1 margin.

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Terry Shoffner
 .Voters may also be in the mood for new leadership. "I'm not a professional politician, I'm a problem solver," she emphasizes, contrasting her record with that of the 69-year-old Ms. Boxer. That record is fairly stark: By most measures, Ms. Boxer has been an unbending ideologue during her three terms, as illustrated by her 95% rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action in 2008.

Given the deep national recession and a state economy deep in the red, Ms. Fiorina is especially critical of Ms. Boxer's opposition to "virtually every trade agreement." Ms. Fiorina also chides Ms. Boxer for the latter's lockstep support for the public employee unions that she claims enjoy "outsized political influence" in California.

On the environment, Ms. Fiorina faults the senator for ignoring pleas from farmers to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore water flows to California's Central Valley, which have been restricted by two controversial biological assessments by the government that asserted the local delta smelt was endangered: "I've seen the devastation and massive unemployment that [the water restrictions have] caused."

California's other Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, has called for an immediate third-party review of the federal conclusions. Ms. Fiorina notes that Ms. Boxer came into the Senate in 1993 at the same time as her more moderate colleague. "Since then, Dianne Feinstein has been far more productive while Barbara Boxer has been singularly ineffective for the people of California."

On the legislative front, Ms. Boxer chairs the Senate Environment Committee. Her clumsy bobbling of the cap-and-trade bill designed to address global warming has even been criticized by some of her fellow Democrats. Ms. Fiorina has a different take: "Thank goodness she's failed to pass that job-killer, but it shows how little she gets across the finish line."

Ms. Fiorina makes clear she takes the issue of climate change seriously. But she argues that global warming is best addressed through more innovation, new technology and energy efficiency, areas in which California has excelled. The scientific debate on the extent of global warming should continue, she says. Meanwhile, cleaner technologies such as nuclear power should be encouraged.

"We must take advantage of every source of energy," she emphasizes, and forthrightly tackles a taboo subject in a state that has restricted off-shore drilling since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. "Technology has fundamentally changed the extraction of oil and natural gas," she says. That means California can protect the environment at the same time it opens up new areas of exploration.

Ms. Fiorina also is fascinated by the political potential of technology. "We need more transparency and accountability in government so that people know how their money is being spent," she says. "That means putting budgets online, putting legislation online." She's convinced that if citizens can play a greater watchdog role it will be easier to keep a check on higher spending and taxes.

In the midst of her enthusiastic comments about high-tech solutions to economic and political problems, Ms. Fiorina pauses to acknowledge that she's fully aware her six-year tenure as the head of HP will be used against her.

"Liberals will say I was let go by my board in 2005 and outsourced some jobs overseas," she says bluntly. "But I took the company through the worst technology recession in a generation and created jobs on a net basis. As for the outsourcing, the tax and regulatory climate made it almost impossible not to do that—which is why we have to change it." Ms. Fiorina claims subsequent revelations—that her successor and the board members who fired her were embroiled in an internal spying scandal—help vindicate her tenure as the first woman to head a Fortune 20 company.

But it's not just Democrats and liberals who will attack Ms. Fiorina. In a recent poll (with most voters undecided), she had only a narrow lead over Republican Chuck DeVore, a state assemblyman who criticizes her as the candidate of the party's establishment. He told reporters earlier this month that the fundamental issue is whether primary voters want "someone who epitomizes Reagan Republicanism or Rockefeller Republicanism."

To some that slam might seem a bit of a reach. Ms. Fiorina insists on her conservative bona fides. Her father was Joseph Sneed, a conservative law professor who served on the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from 1973 until his death last year. His daughter says she inherited both his ability to work with those he disagreed with and his "common sense" views on issues.

Ms. Fiorina adds that she learned the values of hard work and entrepreneurship after she left Stanford University with a degree in medieval history and philosophy and was "unemployable." She worked as a secretary at a real-estate firm until she joined a management training program at AT&T in 1980. She rose to oversee marketing and sales for the largest division of Lucent Technologies before taking over HP in 1999.

"I will not run away from [conservative] values," Ms. Fiorina says, noting that she has signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge against higher taxes and voted for Proposition 8 last year, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. On abortion, Ms. Fiorina says she is "proudly pro-life" and a strong opponent of taxpayer funding of abortions.

But her views also carry some nuance. She notes she created a strong program of domestic partner benefits while at HP. As for changing existing laws on abortion, she acknowledges, "I know, as a realist, that not everyone agrees with me. So the common ground we can find is how to reduce abortions."

An issue that will give Mr. DeVore some traction in a primary is that Ms. Fiorina says she "probably" would have voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor, because most presidential Supreme Court nominees who are qualified deserve a presumption of support. One can argue with that position on substantive grounds, but it's probably smart politics in a general election given that California is 37% Hispanic.

Mr. DeVore has won backing from Rep. Tom McClintock, a conservative California hero, along with South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint. But Ms. Fiorina is supported by stalwart Republican conservative Sens. Tom Coburn and James Inhofe from Oklahoma. She also has support from Maine's Republican moderate Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

Can a conservative win in California given the shellacking John McCain, for whom Ms. Fiorina was a top economic adviser, got in the state last year? Her crisp answer is yes, noting that "the timing is now against Boxer" because "Californians are worried about whether they will have a job along with ballooning federal spending and deficits." All recent polls show Ms. Boxer below the 50% support an incumbent should have. Last week's Rasmussen poll gave Ms. Boxer a 46% to 37% lead over Ms. Fiorina, with one in three voters holding a "very unfavorable" view of the Democratic incumbent.

Ms. Fiorina notes that ObamaCare is now supported by only half of the state's voters. This is a sign, she says, that voters increasingly recognize it will raise the cost of health-care premiums and fail to solve real problems in our health-care system.

She has also targeted the proposed federal guidelines restricting the frequency of mammograms on the basis of personal experience. Ms. Fiorina says she found her own breast cancer lump only two weeks after a clear mammogram, and if she had waited two years for another one her cancer might not have been detected. She said on CNN that the federal panel that approved the now-withdrawn recommendations had "no cancer specialists on it, and the panel was explicitly asked to consider cost, not simply science."

Ms. Fiorina recognizes she has a way to go to convince voters to elect a political newcomer, and she makes no excuses for her spotty voting record in recent years. But California has a long tradition of electing outsiders to statewide office—from Ronald Reagan to educator S.I. Hayakawa (to the U.S. Senate) to Arnold Schwarzenegger. In tough economic times, California may well be tempted to elect a former CEO who thinks the Congress needs common-sense people like herself.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for
23281  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: November 28, 2009, 08:41:45 AM

Even if you have already done so, as Lonely Dog has just done.  Please state exactly which dates work for you.

Thank you,
23282  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: November 27, 2009, 10:30:43 PM

None of those URLs are working for me.

Anyway, at this point, nevermind. smiley
23283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: November 27, 2009, 10:23:03 PM
My reaction is that even by the standards of a POTB columnist, this is a remarkable specious, and bigoted, piece.

The lack of specifics is striking, and the absence of any basis for for comparison to Father Coughlin is complete. 

What on earth does the ADL have to do with any of this?   What is the basis for smearing Beck with charges of bigotry? 
23284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: November 27, 2009, 06:36:03 PM
A liberal friend expressed surprise at my interest in GB-- "Why even the ADL thinks he's anti-semitic" and sent me a copy of this from , , , either Pravda on the Hudson (NYT) or Pravda on the Beach (LA Times). 



Who's watching Glenn Beck?
Much like the Depression-era demagogue Father Charles Coughlin, the Fox News personality is promoting a mass movement. Should his bosses be pulling the plug?
By Tim Rutten
November 25, 2009
E-mail Print Share  Text Size For nearly a century, the Anti-Defamation League has stared unflinchingly into the dark corners of America's social psyche -- the places where combustible tendencies such as hatred and paranoia pool and, sometimes, burst into flame.

As a Jewish organization, the ADL's first preoccupation naturally is anti-Semitism, but in the last few decades it has extended its scrutiny to the whole range of bigoted malevolence -- white supremacy, the militia movement, neo-nativism and conspiratorial fantasies in all of their improbable permutations. These days, the organization's research is characterized by the sense of proportion and sobriety that long experience brings.

That makes its recent report on the extremist groups and propagandists that have emerged since President Obama's election -- "Rage Grows In America: Anti-Government Conspiracies" -- particularly notable. For the first time in living memory, the ADL is sounding the alarm about a mainstream media personality: Fox News' Glenn Beck, who also hosts a popular radio show.

The report notes that while "other conservative media hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, routinely attack Obama and his administration, typically on partisan grounds, they have usually dismissed or refused to give a platform to the conspiracy theorists and anti-government extremists." By contrast, "Beck and his guests have made a habit of demonizing President Obama and promoting conspiracy theories about his administration. ... Beck has even gone so far as to make comparisons between Hitler and Obama."

What gives all of this nonsense an ominous twist is Beck's announcement that he intends to use his TV and radio shows to promote a mass movement that will involve voter registration drives, training in community organizing and a series of regional conventions that will produce a "100-year plan" for America to be read from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a mass rally Aug. 28.

As Beck wrote on his website, "I know that the bipartisan corruption in Washington that has brought us to this brink and it will not be defeated easily. It will require unconventional thinking and a radical plan to restore our nation to the maximum freedoms we were supposed to have been protecting. ... All of the above will culminate in The Plan, a book that will provide specific policies, principles and, most importantly, action steps that each of us can take to play a role in this Refounding."

Hard times predictably throw up their demagogues. Still, even allowing for the frenetic pace of our wired world's 24-hour news cycle, it's remarkable how quickly the arc of Beck's career has come to resemble that of the Great Depression's uber-demagogue, Father Charles Coughlin. In the months after the crash of '29, Coughlin turned what had been a conventionally religious weekly radio broadcast into a platform for championing the downtrodden working man. He was an early supporter of the New Deal, coining the slogan "Roosevelt or Ruin," but quickly turned on the president for a variety of complex ideological and personal reasons. Coughlin flirted with Huey Long, launched an unsuccessful political party, published a popular newspaper, Social Justice, and even inspired and supported a kind of militia, the Christian Front, some of whose members were arrested by the FBI and charged with plotting a fascist coup.

As the 1930s dragged on, Coughlin, a longtime admirer of Francisco Franco, became virulently anti-Semitic, isolationist and pro-German. He also was extraordinarily popular. At their height, his weekly broadcasts attracted more than 40 million listeners. Still, after he lashed out at German Jews in the wake of Kristallnacht, many major urban radio stations dropped his program. Influential American prelates, the Vatican and prominent Catholic New Dealers had worked for some time to persuade Coughlin's superior, the archbishop of Detroit, to silence him. Shortly before the U.S. entered World War II, a new bishop was installed, and Coughlin was ordered to cease broadcasting. He accepted the clerical discipline and retired into a long life of bitter silence.

It's hard to imagine any contemporary cable system dropping Fox News simply because Beck is an offensively dangerous demagogue -- not with his ratings at least. His new foray into politics, though, presents Rupert Murdoch's network with a profound challenge. Is it willing to become the platform for an extremist political campaign, or will it draw a line as even the authoritarian Catholic Church of the 1940s did? CNN recently parted ways with its resident ranter, Lou Dobbs -- who now confirms he's weighing a presidential bid.

Does Fox see a similar problem with Beck -- and, if not, why?

23285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: November 27, 2009, 10:54:25 AM
Big Business can be amongst the most ardent players of fascism:

Big Pharma Sells Out

However the Senate's health-care debate pans out, we'll wager this prediction: The pharmaceutical executives who have endorsed this exercise will eventually be exposed as among the most shortsighted CEOs in the history of capitalism.

In June, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America sealed a deal with the White House and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus promising to contribute $80 billion in lower drug costs over the next decade to ObamaCare, plus a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign. In return they were to be spared from price controls and the reimportation of cheaper foreign drugs.

The loophole is that the deal didn't include the House, and now it may fall apart in the Senate. But even if it does somehow survive, by now it is obvious that the industry's political protection will last only as long as it takes to pass a bill, whereupon the same politicians who are trying to override this deal will get back to work.

"You've heard that as a consequence of our efforts at reform, the pharmaceutical industry has already said they're willing to put $80 billion on the table," President Obama said in July. "We might be able to get $100 billion out or more."

Led by Henry Waxman, the House saw that and raised: The bill that passed earlier this month extracts as much as $150 billion from the industry, including demands for a 23.1% "discount" when Medicare buys prescription drugs for some seniors (much like Medicaid imposes now) and gives the government the power to "negotiate" lower prices for everyone.

The pharma lobby was unfazed. "Despite the shortcomings in the House legislation, we remain completely committed to helping the President and Congress pass comprehensive health care reform this year," a senior vice president said in a statement. "This is a three-act play and a good critic doesn't write a review after the opening scenes."

But now the curtain is coming down. The Senate bill is only going to grow more expensive on the floor. Given that Harry Reid is even relying on a 5% "botax" on cosmetic surgery, the drug makers will become ever more appealing targets as the search for revenue to make ObamaCare appear to be deficit neutral grows more desperate.

Meanwhile, the AARP and its media stenographers are levelling allegations that drug makers are already jacking up prices for brand-name prescriptions. John McCain and Olympia Snowe are cosponsoring a bill with Byron Dorgan that would allow pharmacies and wholesalers to import medications from Canada and Europe.

So how has the industry responded? More or less as Lenin predicted. Big Pharma is now running ads against Joe Lieberman, saying his threat to torpedo the Senate bill could cause drug prices to rise by 20%. It is also funding a campaign that targets the fence-sitters Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln.

In other words, the industry is trashing the very Senators who stand the best chance to rescue it from government control. Instead, the drug CEOs are making themselves complicit with the Washington mentality of seeing only the costs of medications, not benefits like longer lives or fewer hospitalizations. They are ensuring that they will always be a political target and making the extortion easier in the bargain.

The shame is that there be will fewer resources for the research and development that drives innovation, particularly for the smaller biotech companies that are the future of cutting-edge medicine. When it takes about a decade and a billion dollars to bring a new drug to market, a CEO of a smaller drug company told us recently, most firms are "living on the edge of extinction."

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Associated Press
Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler
.But it is the biggest players who are engaged in political gamesmanship. At a speech in February at the Economic Club of Chicago, Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler laid out what he called his company's "new approach to legislation and public policy." Rehearsing the health industry's role in stopping HillaryCare in 1994, he announced that the difference this time is that pharma will be "actively supporting appropriate reforms, rather than simply trying to stop things we don't agree with."

Mr. Kindler, a lawyer and former McDonald's executive, went on to endorse even such political inspirations as comparative effectiveness research, which while fine in theory will inevitably be used to "prove" that more expensive medications aren't worth the costs to government when ObamaCare's spending detonates. In England, these kinds of studies were used to try to ban Pfizer's Stutent, a treatment for kidney cancer. The Senate bill contains a Medicare commission with a mandate to go after drugs, though only about 10 cents of every U.S. health dollar goes toward prescriptions.

The irony is that if business began to educate the public about what the current bills will mean for U.S. health care, it might be able to defeat them and force a more modest, sensible reform. National Journal's composite of all health polling finds that 50.9% of the public now opposes health reform in general, up from about 15% in February. Only 43.9% are in favor. The most recent polls put support even lower: Just 35% from Quinnipiac, 38% from Rasmussen.

A Washington Post-ABC poll found that 52% of the public believes ObamaCare will increase their personal health costs and that 37% expect their quality of care will deteriorate. They're right. A survey of registered voters by Public Opinion Strategies found that the more people hear about the plan, the less they like it, and that voter hostility is higher now than it ever was for HillaryCare.

Yet now this son of HillaryCare is headed toward passage, and when shareholders start griping about lousy returns, Mr. Kindler and his fellow executives will be long gone. It's one more reminder that when it comes to protecting economic freedom, you can never trust big business. The biggest losers will be patients, who lack the millions to lobby Congress and in the future will have fewer innovative medicines.
23286  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "The Bolo Game" on: November 27, 2009, 10:38:25 AM
A Howl of Greeting to All:
The Bolo Game was originally was originally shot as an "DBMA Instructor Only Vid-Lesson". Given the very small volume of sales attendant to such a limited size "market", we kept the production budget down by shooting outside in back of "Boxing Works"-- so there is some street noise as part of the audio track.

Why have we kept this material "closed door" for all these years?
One reason is that one of the "games" shown in "The Bolo Game" used to set up a Bolo Game attack is one we call "the Kalimba" in homage to the man from whom I learned it.   When GT Gaje introduced me to Manong Kalimba in Bacolod in 1997 one of the conditions of the training was that I not publicly share the material until after his death.  GT Gaje informed me a couple of years ago that Manong Kalimba had passed and thus this reason was no longer in play.
So why did we continue to keep the material "closed door"?  The second reason is IMHO some really stellar material-- as the line from a TV western of my youth went "No brag, just fact"-- and I have wanted to keep it within the DBMA tribe to keep an advantage for us.

So what has changed?

I had only one glorious day with Manong Kalimba.  As we sat during a break eating coconuts, I offered to produce a DVD of him (actually back then it would have been a video).  He declined.  When I asked him why, he said he would not want anyone using his techniques against him or figuring out ways to counter them.
Here in America and elsewhere in the west people tend to have no idea just how seriously secrecy is part of the culture of the Filipino Martial Arts.  In the "look at me!" culture of youtube and the vast anonymity in which modern man so often lives, these ideas may seem quaint or deranged, but as time goes by I begin to appreciate just how extraordinary it has been of Top Dog to show what he personally does in our "Real Contract Stickfighting" series of so many years ago (1993 if I remember correctly) and to have remained the Top Dog with so many people studying him for all these years since then.  As I have pursued my life in martial arts, I begin to appreciate the risks I have taken by having allowed people to see a portion of what I do-- for unlike Top Dog my way has been one not of physical dominance, but of craftiness.
That said, as I have spent more years in the Art, I begin to understand more about what it takes to ensure the survival and transmission of the Art's understandings and techniques.  I see how much is being lost.  The Art has given so much to me that I have an increasing sense of having to do what I can to contribute to its survival. 
It is in this light that I worry that the current number of carriers of The Bolo Game is too small to ensure its survival and so I now let it out.  In return, (in addition to the cost of the DVD) I ask that people respect the work I have put into developing this distinctive body material and act in a way that the benefit accrues to me: in other words, no copying, pirating, ripping, teaching it in seminars or DVDs, etc.  Please tell me if you see someone doing any of this.  With my blessings, use if for yourself, in your school-- and please say where you got it.
Although the Bolo Game is a development of mine, it builds upon a Krabi Krabong based structure that in DBMA we call "The Salty Game" because it was brought to us by Salty Dog-- a key addition being the understanding of how to make the uppercut a high percentage move in the adrenal state.  This structure was then blended with the Kali triangles of the DBMA footwork matrix and the Trident Game and certain other DBMA understandings.  This DVD is perhaps the most nutritionally dense one I have ever put out.

What of the advantage held by the DBMA folks that now will be diluted?  Well, first of all, buying the DVD is one thing-- training it with me is another.  Furthermore, just as I developed the Bolo Game, I have developed other additional advantages for the DBMA tribe.  After all, I am the Crafty Dog.  It is what I do wink 

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty
23287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: November 27, 2009, 10:09:56 AM
A post this morning on "The Way Forward for the American Creed" thread made the excellent point about the need to clearly and effectively say what the American Creed is all about-- to speak in positives.

Someone who has been doing that REALLY well in my opinion, is Glen Beck, whose show I watch most days.

Therefore, I'd like to open this thread for discussion of the points raised by GB.
23288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: November 27, 2009, 10:07:16 AM
23289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Whoops! Too much ethanol on: November 27, 2009, 10:03:29 AM
U.S. Unlikely to Use the Ethanol Congress Ordered

Published: November 26, 2009
WASHINGTON — Two years ago, Congress ordered the nation’s gasoline refiners to do something that is turning out to be mathematically impossible.

To please the farm lobby and to help wean the nation off oil, Congress mandated that refiners blend a rising volume of ethanol and other biofuels into gasoline. They are supposed to use at least 15 billion gallons of biofuels by 2012, up from less than seven billion gallons in 2007.
But nobody at the time counted on fuel demand falling in the United States, which is what has happened during the recession. And that decline could well continue, as cars become more efficient under other recent government mandates.

At the maximum allowable blend, in which gasoline at the pump contains 10 percent ethanol, updated projections suggest that the country is unlikely to be able to use all the ethanol that Congress has ordered up. So something has to give.

“The market is full,” said Jeff Broin, chief executive of Poet, a company in Sioux Falls, S.D., that produces ethanol.

In theory, the Environmental Protection Agency has the power to solve this problem by tweaking the mandates imposed by Congress, and it may act as early as next week.

Each potential solution would anger one interest group or another, so the agency has been subjected to fierce lobbying, including from members of Congress lining up behind various factions. One possibility is to raise the maximum proportion of ethanol in gasoline to 15 or 20 percent.

But that idea is opposed by some carmakers and pollution experts. They contend that high ethanol blends can cause damage to cars, including making catalytic converters run hotter.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says it believes this could cause the converters, components that help control pollution, to fail at around 50,000 miles. They are supposed to last for 120,000 to 150,000 miles. “We are sensitive to the issues facing the ethanol industry, but the government must make decisions based on sound science,” said Dave McCurdy, president and chief executive of the alliance, in a letter to the E.P.A.

Another possibility is that the agency could waive the mandates requiring use of a large volume of biofuels. But that would anger farmers, who sell a great deal of corn to ethanol factories, and the members of Congress who represent them. It might also undermine the efforts of companies that are investing millions in factories to make ethanol from waste materials, like corncobs, straw and garbage.

“Ethanol is the only viable, competitive alternative to foreign oil,” said Tom Buis, chief executive of Growth Energy, the ethanol trade group that filed the petition with the E.P.A. to increase the blending percentage. “If we’re going to become less dependent on foreign oil, we’ve got to move forward.”

A third possibility is that the E.P.A. could announce that it is waiting for more data on how cars perform at higher blends, but that would merely put off the hard decision.

When Congress wrote the rules, in 2007, gasoline consumption had been growing for years, and it looked as if the nation would be able to use considerably more ethanol in the future. Gasoline consumption hit a peak of 3.4 billion barrels that year.

But gasoline demand fell in 2008, after soaring gas prices early in the year were followed by the economic crisis. Consumption was slightly less than 3.3 billion barrels last year, and it could end 2009 at about the same level.

With consumers buying more fuel-efficient cars these days, and carmakers rushing to bring even more of those to market, gasoline demand may not recover much in coming years, even as ethanol production soars.

As of yet, not all gasoline is blended with 10 percent ethanol, but that saturation point is rapidly approaching. Under the present rules, the nation could hit the upper limit of its ability to consume ethanol in 2011.

Mr. Buis and others argue that Congress or the E.P.A. must do something if the country is to move to a new generation of biofuels that do not compete with food crops. The possibilities include ethanol made from wood chips, waste paper or agricultural waste like straw and corncobs.

Congress has also passed mandates for the blending of this type of fuel, so that the nation’s total consumption of all renewable fuels, in vehicles and other equipment, is supposed to reach 36 billion gallons in 2022.

Perhaps the easiest way for the country to absorb all the excess ethanol would be to make wider use of an ethanol blend called E85, which contains 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Most cars on the road cannot use it, but in recent years, millions of “flex-fuel” cars have been sold, especially by General Motors. (Any car with a yellow gasoline cap can use E85.)

The problem is that at current prices, E85 does not make economic sense for drivers, and most of them use regular gasoline in their flex-fuel cars. That means gasoline stations have little incentive to install pumps for E85. The fuel can be found in the Corn Belt but is not readily available elsewhere in the country.

Gasoline was selling on average Thursday for $2.63 a gallon, while E85 was selling for $2.23 a gallon. That might make E85 sound like a bargain, but cars go fewer miles on a gallon of ethanol than of gasoline. Adjusted for that factor, E85 on Thursday was effectively 31 cents a gallon more expensive than gasoline.

A return of $4 gasoline might change things, by making E85 a relative bargain and spurring wider use. So would an unexpected spurt in total fuel demand. Otherwise, it is not at all clear how the nation’s coming surplus of ethanol can be absorbed.

Gregory M. Scott, executive vice president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, drives a flex-fuel car in the Washington area, but said he had never put E85 in it.

He said the amount of renewable fuel that Congress had mandated refiners to use, and the amount that can be blended for conventional automobiles, were on a collision course.

“At some point,” he said, “those two lines cross.”
23290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / From Linda "Bitch" Matsumi on: November 27, 2009, 09:00:37 AM
Bay area, CA:

A friend of mine works at HSSV and sent this out. The dog's not 100% Akita, but she is apparently just completely awesome. So, I figured it couldn't hurt to send it your way on the off chance you guys would consider adopting her.
23291  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Armed American Report Issue 173 on: November 27, 2009, 08:35:07 AM
It Doesn't Have to Make Sense: It's Just the Law - Statements
"...Written statement: a VERY BAD idea! ...."
by K.L. Jamison
In 1996, an unhappy consumer attacked the City Marshal of Lancaster, Missouri with a hammer.(1) The Marshal defended himself and later vented his adrenaline to the responding Sheriff stating, "I hope the son-of-a-bitch is dead." This led to the Marshal's conviction for involuntary manslaughter and a sentence of seven years in prison.(2) The story had a happy ending, but a story four years and tens of thousands of dollars in the making, and not a story the Marshal enjoyed very much. The Marshal might have avoided the worst part of the story had he not confused his right to remain silent with the right of free speech.

In the movie, Under Pressure, a woman tried to explain the stalking and implied threats of a neighbor. After a disorganized and unconvincing recitation of ambiguous events she lamely concludes, "I'm not a very good story teller." Most people tell stories badly. In the aftermath of self-defense there can be a giddy stream of consciousness statement which has more to do with the effects of adrenaline than reality. The basic legal advice is "DON'T."

The first question is, "What is a statement?" In a nation which counts exotic dancing as freedom of speech, a statement is also broadly construed. In 1996, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that a suspect's refusal to uncross his legs during questioning could be taken as a statement when later charged with murder.(3) In a separate death penalty case, the court found that the defendant had purchased a used car which sported the bumper sticker, "I'm the person your mother warned you about." At trial the prosecution argued that the fact he did not remove this bumper sticker revealed something about his character. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that it was perfectly acceptable for the state to kill this man, in part, because of his failure to remove the bumpersticker.(4) One can imagine the effect of bumper stickers bought in jest such as, "Keep Honking, I'm Reloading." If this case does not also inspire a re-evaluation of one's T-shirt collection, nothing will.

There is also the problem of nicknames. As of this writing, a rapper who rejoices in the stage name "C-Murder" is on trial for murder. If I were asked to defend a man named "Murder" or any variation thereof, I would charge more. Massad Ayoob testified in favor of a police officer who had killed a felon nicknamed "Snake." Captain Ayoob slipped the nickname into his testimony which seems to have had an effect on the jury.

Written statement, a VERY BAD idea!

There is a cynical defense attorney saying: "Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you." In the movie, My Cousin Vinnie, two, unfortunate Yankees are suspected of murder and during questioning are accused of shooting a clerk. One incredulously asked, "I shot the clerk?" This is taken down and read in court as a confession. Theater audiences laughed, defense attorneys smiled and nodded. There have even been cases where comments by other persons have been attributed to the defendant, and used against him; complete silence is the only bulwark against these mistakes.

The first statement is the 911 call. These calls are recorded and if the call sounds bad for the defendant, it will be played over and over again at trial. In one case, a man cocked his double-action revolver and went after a person who was shooting out windows. When he caught up with the threat he extended his revolver and in the process tripped the light single action trigger pull; arguably an accidental discharge. His 911 call records him saying that he thought he had just shot someone. The 911 operator, trained to keep him on the line and keep him talking, asked why he thought he had shot someone. The man replied, "Lady, I think I'm a pretty good shot." This callous-sounding statement took accident off the table and the man had to live or die with a self-defense case. This all important introduction to law enforcement must be planned in advance.

The first words out of the caller's mouth should be the location of the incident. If the battery then dies, or the minutes run out, or some other technological catastrophe occurs the authorities will know that something of interest is at that location, and the caller's cell phone records can prove that he or she made the call. The next statement is the caller's name. The core of the 911 call consists of three sentences:

"He tried to kill me."
"I was never so scared in my life."
"Send an ambulance."(5)

The first sentence serves to introduce the roles of the parties, the caller is the victim, the other person the attacker. Being in reasonable fear of life or limb is a prerequisite to acting in self-defense. The phrase "I was never so scared..." is to preclude the prosecutor from claiming that the citizen never said he was scared "until he talked to a lawyer."(6) The phrase "Send an ambulance" says that the caller does not want anyone to die.

When the police arrive, they will want a more elaborate statement; this should consist only of:

1. He attacked me.
2. I will sign a complaint.
3. There is the evidence.

Good Advice.

This restates part of the 911 call and points out critical evidence. One cannot expect the "CSI" team to be called out to pick up every fiber and hair. If a real forensic team routinely conducted the investigations shown on television, its budget would last about a week.

The demand for a lawyer is both the best thing one can do, and a damaging statement. Anyone who is questioned by police has the right to a lawyer; this includes victims. The problem is that the police, and potential jurors, take a demand for a lawyer as evidence of something to hide. To compound the problem, the victim's decision to remain silent and demand for a lawyer can be used again him or her in court. In the criminal system, one does not have rights, until arrested; it doesn't have to make sense, it's just the law. It is a left-handed fortune that people who act in self-defense are routinely arrested. It may be called something else such as "detained" or given the "Alice in Wonderland" explanation "You're being handcuffed for your own protection." Whenever a person is not allowed to leave, he is placed under arrest regardless of descriptive terms. If one is arrested, generations of TV shows advise us to remain silent.

Western Missouri Shooters Alliance President Sheila Stokes-Begley employs a cell phone and CZ75 compact.

If the circumstances are ambivalent, simply state a fear of being sued, and demand a lawyer to protect against frivolous litigation. Bernard Goetz was acquitted of criminal charges in the shooting of four thugs on the subway, but was sued for $43 million and lost. Police are frequently sued by criminals and the explanation is likely to ring a bell.

Self-defense cases bring out the curious, the media in the forefront. Comments to friends will be confused and used against you, comments to family will be mistaken and used against you. Both family and friends can be subpoenaed and forced to testify against you. Comments to the media will be sensationalized and this is never good. The New York City prosecutor's office had determined not to charge Bernard Goetz, until he made unwise remarks to the news media. At some point a statement must be made. The impression is that the earlier a statement is made, the more reliable it is. In reality, the earlier a statement is made, the less reliable it is. The effects of stress will confuse the statement and even cause temporary amnesia. Inaccuracies in the initial statement will convince authorities that the survivor is both a liar and a murderer. A lawyer must be immediately engaged to organize the statement.

A lawyer is a professional storyteller. He will not tell the client how to lie, he will tell him how to tell the truth, a more complicated process than most imagine. The statement must contain facts which track the elements of self-defense. In the case of defense of home or defense of other persons, there may be other elements as well. Knowledge of the assailant's reputation for violence would certainly be relevant. The most important element to include is fear. A police statement is no place for macho posturing. One cannot use violence against another person unless in fear of life or limb. The survivor must go over every detail of why he or she was terrified, weak-kneed, pants-pissing afraid. If one does foul one's pants, a not uncommon event, make sure that goes into the statement. No matter how ineffective a storyteller the survivor might be, the jury is sure to believe that.

(1)1 A City Marshal is a law enforcement officer position used in Third and Fourth Class towns in Missouri.
(2) State v Beeler, 12 S.W.3d 294 (Mo. 2000) at 296.
(3) State v Kinder, 942 S.W.2d 313 (Mo en banc 1996) at 325.
(4) State v Six, 805 S.W.2d 159 (Mo. Ban. 1991) at 167.
(5) Taken from the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance "Stay Out of Jail" card, see
(6) A claim I have heard, even when false.

Kevin L. Jamison is an attorney in the Kansas City Missouri area concentrating in the area of weapons and self-defense.

This information is for legal information purposes and does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions you should consult a qualified attorney.
23292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Virginia Bill of Rights 1776 on: November 27, 2009, 08:21:55 AM
"[R]eligion, or the duty which we owe to our creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and this is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other." --Virginia Bill of Rights, Article 16, 1776
23293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Trash into homes on: November 26, 2009, 04:27:16 PM
23294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: November 26, 2009, 04:15:36 PM

Just had a moment to watch that one-- nice find!
23295  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: November 26, 2009, 10:26:50 AM
And here's one more-- this one has been running in the WSJ for 48 years now.

The Desolate Wilderness
A chronicle of the Pilgrims' arrival at Plymouth, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.

View Full Image
.The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other's heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.

Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.

These editorials have appeared annually since 1961.
23296  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / NYT on: November 26, 2009, 10:20:38 AM
Published: November 25, 2009
Andre Waters, a former N.F.L. defensive back, put a pistol in his mouth, pulled the trigger and — however unknowingly — sounded an alarm on the seriousness of football brain injuries.

It was November 2006. A neuropathologist soon discovered extensive damage in Waters’s brain tissue. For the next three years, as similar cases came to light and the hideous effects of football brain trauma were examined in newspaper articles, television features and one heated Congressional hearing, the N.F.L. and its committee on concussions vehemently fought suggestions that their approach to the injury was at all improper.
The debate did not end on Tuesday, when the league announced several measures that most onlookers called long overdue. The embattled co-chairmen of the league committee resigned — “graciously,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a leaguewide memo, suggesting that they would have been fired otherwise. And the N.F.L. affirmed its plan to install independent experts to bring an uncompromised approach to handling players with concussions.

But the affair did reach a moment of reflection. Even the most hardened skeptics who had fought the league’s approach for years sensed that Tuesday was a moment for détente. Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard football player and the primary advocate for reform in the treatment of sports concussions, joined others involved with the issue in calling Tuesday’s events the most significant since Waters killed himself.

“It means that possibly the most public voice on this issue, the N.F.L., has decided to stop blocking progress and maybe become part of the solution,” Nowinski said.

“Not just the co-chairs resigning, but the message aimed at children, parents and coaches — saying that there’s a problem that needs to be addressed now — will go a long way to protecting kids and players in the future,” he said. “I think it refocuses what’s important, which is developing ways to prevent brain damage in current and future athletes, and treating people who have already been touched by the problem.”

Tempering some optimism was how the N.F.L. announcement — which included the consideration of changes to practice and game rules and the plan for a televised public-service announcement on concussions to make its debut next month — employed much of the same obfuscatory language as dozens of past league statements on the issue.

The release quoted Goodell as saying that the moves would “enhance the substantial progress we have made in recent years” and that “our goal remains to make our game as safe as possible, protect the health and safety of our players, and set the best possible example for players at all levels and in all sports.” The league spokesman Joe Browne wrote on Twitter, “Goodell again shows he’s serious re: concussions.”

This continued a pattern of the league requesting credit for improving conditions without accepting its role in preserving the conditions that required improvement. For example, when the N.F.L. decided in 2007 that players who were knocked unconscious during games could no longer return the same day, the league did not address how published research by its own committee doctors had declared the practice safe. And on the day that Goodell held a leaguewide concussion summit in June 2007 to show how serious the league was on the issue, he fought the suggestion that a player found with brain damage similar to Waters’s had developed it through football.

Goodell insisted that the player “may have had a concussion swimming,” adding, “A concussion happens in a variety of different activities.”

Industries with $8 billion in revenue generally do not court lawsuits, so few onlookers expected the N.F.L. to embrace the suggestion that its past or current practices were subpar. (For example, a player who was cleared to play after being knocked unconscious could attempt to prove he was knowingly mistreated.) But the league took a serious public-relations hit in the meantime, according to Marina Ein, a crisis management specialist based in Washington.

“They were dragged kicking and screaming, when we’re talking about people dying young and losing their cognitive lives,” Ein said. “The resistance to the problem and the cover-up always leads to tragedy and a crisis that ought never to happen. How many players have been submitted to potentially life-altering injuries in the last three years, since the issue was really raised prominently?”

Incongruously, a study that the league commissioned — but immediately discredited — led directly to Tuesday’s events. A University of Michigan phone survey, obtained by The New York Times in September, indicated that N.F.L. retirees were reporting diagnoses of dementia and other cognitive diseases at rates many times the national average.

The league and its doctors dismissed the findings, but news media coverage prompted the attention of Congress, whose hearing on Oct. 28 led to public comparisons between the N.F.L. and the tobacco industry. It took less than a month for Goodell to act more decisively than ever before.

If the league does follow through with meaningful independent care of player concussions, and does actually enact rule changes rather than merely discuss them, the burden of protecting players will continue to shift to the players. As the league has claimed that “all return-to-play decisions are made by physicians,” all involved know that is false; most players with concussions decide to keep playing without a physician’s even knowing, or even having reason to know.

Coaches and the news media will also share responsibility not to glorify “warriors” who get back on the field quickly, and independent research into what can help stem football’s high rates of dementia and other cognitive decline will need funding.

“We’ve failed as a nation to look at this very serious issue,” said Jim Kovach, a former N.F.L. linebacker who is president of the Buck Institute for Age Research near San Francisco. “It has to be all of us looking at this and saying that these could be our kids or friends getting hurt. It’s not just the N.F.L.”

But on Tuesday, as the N.F.L. shed some of its past and announced better care in the future, it was the N.F.L. giving all sides a chance to start a more cooperative era.

“There’s always the possibility of a fresh start,” said Ein, the crisis management specialist. “That’s the beauty of doing the right thing.”
23297  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: November 26, 2009, 10:06:39 AM
Anyone have the URL of that?
23298  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: November 26, 2009, 10:05:11 AM
George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.
23299  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Count your blessings on: November 25, 2009, 02:09:16 PM

Count Your Blessings
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." --Thomas Paine
We call the primary gathering place in our home "the warm room" because at its center hearth is a woodstove. This room is where we gather in the evening after the day's tasks and our family dinner.

This past Sunday night, my family surrounded me in our warm room, each of us doing something that we enjoy. I was reading, my wife was checking e-mail, my older son was bantering with my daughter, and my youngest son was assembling his latest Lego creation.

It was the first day of Thanksgiving week, but giving thanks was not really on my mind. I was content just to relax with my family after a good meal.

Then my cell phone chimed brusquely. I was piqued by the interruption, mostly in anticipation that when that phone rings on a Sunday night, there's usually something seriously wrong somewhere that requires my attention.

To my pleasant surprise, when I answered, a familiar voice, although faint due to the satellite connection, was on the other end. It was an Air Force friend stationed in Bagram, in the Parwan province of Afghanistan, calling to say hello and provide an update on his status.

Needless to say, he is far away from his family, who will be without him for Thanksgiving and probably Christmas. And yes, his call prompted immediate gratitude on my part for the casual and cozy evening that I was enjoying, with my family, in the comfort of our home.

The next morning, I returned from a meeting to my SUV, parked on a city street, and found in the dust between the Navy Jack on the rear window and the "Support Our Troops" magnet on the bumper, someone had scrawled, "World Peace!" I am quite sure that the author was misguidedly implying some contradiction between pride in our military forces and achievement of world peace.

Undoubtedly, the poor soul who soiled his pinkie to leave that message has never taken an oath to support and defend our Constitution, much less undertaken any action to that end at risk of personal injury or death. Thus, what this anonymous peacenik fails to realize is that nobody wants world peace more than our front-line soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines -- the very warriors fighting for that peace.

I am grateful for our uniformed Patriots, who, like my friend in Bagram, are defending liberty in places far away, so that we may live in peace at home, and I am grateful for their families, who bear a great burden with their loved one's absence.

But, as I contemplate our national day of Thanksgiving, beyond gratitude for my immediate blessings, I am greatly concerned about the trials that we, as a people, now face in the wake of this unprecedented assault upon our Constitution. For I am certain that the resulting collectivist government policies, left unchecked, will smother our free market system and our legacy of liberty.

You know the story of our First Thanksgiving, the three-day Pilgrim feast of 1621, after nearly half their company had died during the preceding winter. (I have posted an Account of the First Harvest Feast and Thanksgiving for those of you might like to read it to your families before the Thanksgiving meal.)

What you may not know, however, is that, in an effort to improve production at Plymouth Plantation, a collectivist policy was implemented in 1622 which almost destroyed the remainder of the settlement.

Plymouth Colony's governor, William Bradford, recorded in his history of the Colony that, to forestall another failed crop season, he would allot each family a plot of land, and mandate that "all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" must be forfeited to a common storehouse in order that "all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock."

In theory, Bradford believed that this would be good for the Colony since each family would receive equal share of produce without regard to their contribution.

Unfortunately, then as now, collectivism works only in theory.

Bradford wrote that his plan failed because it undermined the incentive to produce, noting that it "was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort."

After the abysmal results in 1622, Bradford wrote that the Colony leaders contemplated "how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop."

They then decided to trade their collectivist plan for a free market approach, and in 1623, Bradford wrote, "This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any other means the Governor or any other could use. ... Instead of famine now God gave them plenty and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many. ... Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day."

As a direct consequence, the Colony celebrated a much greater Day of Thanksgiving in 1623.

The conclusion was obvious. Given liberty and incentive to be industrious, their Colony thrived. Indeed, by 1624, production was so abundant that the Colony exported corn back to England.

And for generations since, to the extent that men have been set at perfect liberty to establish free markets, to produce goods and services without having profits seized for redistribution, our nation has thrived.

Yet once again, our governors are contemplating collectivist policies of the sort that failed in 1622 and have failed many times since, giving credence to the aphorism, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

My fellow Patriots, never in the history of our country has there been such an acute, coordinated and vicious assault upon our rights and upon the structures established to protect those rights. From individuals, to state governments, to federal institutions initiated at the dawn of our Constitution, nothing -- absolutely nothing -- is sacred to the leftists currently controlling our nation's capital.

But take heart, for as George Washington wrote in the darkest days of our American Revolution, "We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times."

Of such exertions, Washington wrote, "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors."

So it is that on Thanksgiving Day of this week, we are called upon to pause and take respite; to acknowledge the divine intervention of our Creator in the affairs of this great nation; to recommit ourselves to obeisance of His will; to express our gratitude and give Him all thanks and praise for the bounty which He has bestowed upon us.

We yet live in the land of the free, the home of the brave, that shining city on a hill, and for it, we humbly implore that He protect us and grant us much favor in our coming struggle to re-establish The Rule of Law over the rule of men.

For that and for each of you, fellow Patriots, I am grateful!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US

23300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: November 25, 2009, 10:29:53 AM
What do you make of this?

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