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23251  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Question from a friend in Iraq on: December 11, 2008, 11:02:02 PM
Here's what my friend is thinking off:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=315bca1c04
23252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Predictions confirmed on: December 11, 2008, 03:07:43 PM
Evolutionary theory predictions confirmed

http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/evo_science.html
23253  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: New to forum on: December 11, 2008, 02:50:09 PM
Woof Rick:

Welcome aboard.  I just surfed through some of your clips-- excellent movement and creativity!

Crafty Dog
23254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers: on: December 11, 2008, 02:06:27 PM
 
My Fellow Patriots,

Of the American fight for liberty, George Washington wrote, "Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!" Indeed, it was, and it remains our noble cause. And we know, by virtue of your patronage, that you are standing with us on many frontlines in honor and defense of our nation's proud heritage and legacy of liberty.

Of those unwilling to enlist in this righteous cause, Samuel Adams said, "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

However, of those who did enlist, and have in generations since, Adams wrote, "It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."

Though a minority we may be, we have never wavered in our endeavor to set brushfires of liberty.

From our humble beginnings in 1996, The Patriot Post is now the most widely read conservative political journal on the Internet. We reach millions of readers, and by extension, their families, friends and associates, and we do so at a cost of less than 25 cents per reader per year. Thousands of our readers repost our content on blogs, social networking sites and personal Web sites. High school teachers, and college and university professors use our content to teach their students, and many political and cultural organizations reprint our content in their publications.

On the other hand, the major print media outlets, which have commanded a stranglehold on public opinion for generations, are now suffering unprecedented reader attrition. Liberal standard-bearers like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and other print dailies are losing ground to the "new media" -- that's us.

The Patriot's Annual Fund is donor supported so we can offer our publication free of charge to thousands of American military personnel, students and those in ministry or other professions with limited financial means.

We hear from these Patriot readers every day, and I would like to share a few of their recent comments:


"I forward The Patriot to all of my military colleagues here at CENTCOM and SOCOM. Many have become subscribers and have thanked me for alerting them to your website. The Patriot is an outstanding resource for right-thinking Patriots." --Macdill AFB

"I am a tenured professor at [a major university] and am teaching an Honors course on our national heritage. The Patriot is a very constructive source for alternative perspective to the liberal tripe that passes as 'intellectual discourse' in academia. Thank you!" --Los Angeles, California

"Patriots, I am a 'house church' coordinator in Beijing. I greatly appreciate The Patriot. Its message of liberty shines like a beacon for all of us here." --Beijing, China

Patriots, this is a call to arms. As we close out our books this year, we still must raise $153,787 in order to meet our budget. Please, support The Patriot's 2008 Annual Fund today, in accordance with your ability. (If you prefer to support us by mail, please use our printable donor form or print the donor information listed below.)




Publishing, like freedom, is not free. We employ editorial and technical managers, numerous part-time feature and content editors, and an indispensable research and analysis team. In addition, our Internet publishing efforts require a sizable investment beyond the human one; this includes robust and powerful hardware, custom software, office space, installations, maintenance and more. We also incur substantial legal, accounting and insurance costs.

Yet, our mission and operations budget is a small fraction of the expenses of other influential conservative organizations, primarily because our dedicated staff members are motivated by mission and not deterred by modest wages. (View our expense graphic here.)

If you have not already done so, please take a moment to support The Patriot today.

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

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander,
Publisher, for the editors and staff

Note: Once your donation has been recorded, your e-mail address is removed from our appeal and update lists. However, when the year-end campaign is complete, we will send you a report.

Donor Guide:
Recommended Operation Support Levels:
Family Defender: $26 (50¢/week)
Frontline Patriot: $39 (75¢/week)
Company Command: $52 ($1/week)

Recommended Mission Support Levels:
Battalion Command: $100
Regiment Command: $250
Division Command: $500
Corps Command: $1,000

Send your contribution to:
The Patriot Annual Fund
PO Box 507
Chattanooga, TN 37401-0507

Please make your check payable to "The Patriot Annual Fund," and please note your e-mail address on the memo line so we can credit your subscriber account, and so our publisher can thank you.

(Please pray on this and every day for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm's way around the world in defense of our liberty, and for the families awaiting their safe return.)
 
23255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 10 Worst Predictions for 2008 on: December 11, 2008, 01:52:08 PM
The 10 Worst Predictions for 2008

 

Posted December 2008
 
Prognostication is by far the riskiest form of punditry. The 10 commentators and leaders on this list learned that the hard way when their confident predictions about politics, war, the economy, and even the end of humanity itself completely missed the mark.





1
Scott Gries/Getty Images"If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she's going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her, then. … Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I'll predict that right now." —William Kristol, Fox News Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006

Weekly Standard editor and New York Times columnist William Kristol was hardly alone in thinking that the Democratic primary was Clinton's to lose, but it takes a special kind of self-confidence to make a declaration this sweeping more than a year before the first Iowa caucus was held. After Iowa, Kristol lurched to the other extreme, declaring that Clinton would lose New Hampshire and that "There will be no Clinton Restoration." It's also worth pointing out that this second wildly premature prediction was made in a Times column titled, "President Mike Huckabee?" The Times is currently rumored to be looking for his replacement.
2
CNBC"Peter writes: 'Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there?' No! No! No! Bear Stearns is fine! Do not take your money out. … Bear Stearns is not in trouble. I mean, if anything they're more likely to be taken over. Don't move your money from Bear! That's just being silly! Don't be silly!" —Jim Cramer, responding to a viewer's e-mail on CNBC's Mad Money, March 11, 2008

Hopefully, Peter got a second opinion. Six days after the volatile CNBC host made his emphatic pronouncement, Bear Stearns faced the modern equivalent of an old-fashioned bank run. Amid widespread speculation on Wall Street about the bank's massive exposure to subprime mortgages, Bear's shares lost 90 percent of their value and the investment bank was sold for a pittance to JPMorgan Chase, with a last-minute assist from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
3
ERIC CABANIS/Getty Images"[In] reality the risks to maritime flows of oil are far smaller than is commonly assumed. First, tankers are much less vulnerable than conventional wisdom holds. Second, limited regional conflicts would be unlikely to seriously upset traffic, and terrorist attacks against shipping would have even less of an economic effect. Third, only a naval power of the United States' strength could seriously disrupt oil shipments." —Dennis Blair and Kenneth Lieberthal, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007

On Nov. 15, 2008 a group of Somali pirates in inflatable rafts hijacked a Saudi oil tanker carrying 2 million barrels of crude in the Indian Ocean. The daring raid was part of a rash of attacks by Somali pirates, which have primarily occurred in the Gulf of Aden. Pirates operating in the waterway have hijacked more than 50 ships this year, up from only 13 in all of last year, according to the Piracy Reporting Center. The Gulf of Aden, where nearly 4 percent of the world's oil demand passes every day, was not on the list of strategic "chokepoints" where oil shipments could potentially be disrupted that Blair and Lieberthal included in their essay, "Smooth Sailing: The World's Shipping Lanes Are Safe." Hopefully, Blair will show a bit more foresight if, as some expect, he is selected as Barack Obama's director of national intelligence.
4
Spencer Platt/Getty Images"[A]nyone who says we're in a recession, or heading into one—especially the worst one since the Great Depression—is making up his own private definition of 'recession.'" —Donald Luskin, The Washington Post, Sept. 14, 2008

The day after Luskin's op-ed, "Quit Doling Out That Bad-Economy Line," appeared in the Post, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, and the rest is history. Liberal bloggers had long ago dubbed the Trend Macrolytics chief investment officer and informal McCain advisor "the Stupidest Man Alive." This time, they had some particularly damning evidence.
5
YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images"For all its flaws, an example to others." —The Economist on Kenya's presidential election, Dec. 19, 2007

The week before Kenya's presidential election, the erudite British newsweekly ran an ill-conceived editorial praising the quality of the country's democracy and predicting it might "set an example" for the rest of the continent. If only. The ensuing election was rife with examples of voter fraud and ballot-stuffing. What followed was a month of rioting and ethnic bloodshed that left more than 800 dead and 200,000 displaced. The carnage ended in a messy power-sharing agreement between President Mwai Kibaki and his challenger Raila Odinga, leaving the country deeply divided and its government delegitimized.
6
Brad Barket/Getty Images"New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will enter the Presidential race in February, after it becomes clear which nominees will get the nod from the major parties. His multiple billions and organization will impress voters—and stun rivals. He'll look like the most viable third-party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt. But Bloomberg will come up short, as he comes in for withering attacks from both Democrats and Republicans. He and Clinton will split more than 50% of the votes, but Arizona's maverick senator, John McCain, will end up the country's next President." –BusinessWeek, Jan. 2, 2008

No part of this prediction from BusinessWeek's "Ten Likely Events in 2008" turned out to be even remotely true. After weeks of hints and press leaks, Bloomberg declared he would stay out of the race, saying that Barack Obama and John McCain showed signs of displaying the "independent leadership" needed to govern effectively. After overturning New York's term-limits law, Bloomberg seems likely to run for a third term as mayor instead.
7
Sean Gallup/Getty Images"There is a real possibility of creating destructive theoretical anomalies such as miniature black holes, strangelets and deSitter space transitions. These events have the potential to fundamentally alter matter and destroy our planet." —Walter Wagner, LHCDefense.org

Scientist Walter Wagner, the driving force behind Citizens Against the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is making his bid to be the 21st century's version of Chicken Little for his opposition to the world's largest particle accelerator. Warning that the experiment might end humanity as we know it, he filed a lawsuit in Hawaii's U.S. District Court against the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which built the LHC, demanding that researchers not turn the machine on until it was proved safe. The LHC was turned on in September, and it appears that we are still here.
8
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images"The possibility of $150-$200 per barrel seems increasingly likely over the next six-24 months." —Arjun Murti, Goldman Sachs oil analyst, in a May 5, 2008, report

The vaunted predictive powers of Murti, dubbed the "oracle of oil" in a glowing New York Times profile, failed him this time. Oil prices peaked in July at about $147 a barrel before beginning a long decline. Thanks to a decrease in demand because of the global recession, prices are now nearing the $40 mark, and some experts even see $25 as a possibility next year.
9
VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images"It starts with the taking over of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which has already happened. It goes on to the destruction of the Georgian armed forces, which is now happening. The third [development] will probably be the replacement of the elected government, which is pro-Western, with a puppet government, which will probably follow in a week or two." —Charles Krauthammer, Fox News, Aug. 11, 2008

Krauthammer immediately followed this inaccurate forecast (Russia eventually agreed to a cease-fire and pulled out its troops several weeks later, leaving Mikheil Saakashvili's government in place) by predicting that Ukraine would be next on Russia's hit list and suggesting that the United States station troops there. As for Saakashvili, his approval rating was at 76 percent in September.
10
Mario Tama/Getty Images"I believe the banking system has been stabilized. No one is asking themselves anymore, is there some major institution that might fail and that we would not be able to do anything about it." —Henry Paulson on National Public Radio, Nov. 13, 2008

The U.S. Treasury secretary entered November with guns blazing. After much hemming and hawing before Congress a month earlier, he came out with what he called his "bazooka" —a $700 billion mandate to scoop up bad assets from troubled banks. By mid-November, he had already discharged $300 billion in munitions, albeit mostly via the kind of direct equity stakes he had rejected earlier. Unfortunately for Paulson, shortly after his vote of confidence, Citigroup's stock price plunged 75 percent in one week, closing below $5 for the first time in 14 years.

23256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Waxman buries FM truth on: December 11, 2008, 12:47:03 PM


Henry Waxman's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met Tuesday to examine "The Role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the Financial Crisis." Alas, Mr. Waxman didn't come to bury Fan and Fred, but to bury the truth.


The two government-sponsored mortgage giants have long maintained they were merely unwitting victims of a financial act of God. That is, while the rest of the market went crazy over subprime and "liar" loans, Fan and Fred claimed to be the grownups of the mortgage market. There they were, the fable goes, quietly underwriting their 80% fixed-rate 30-year mortgages when -- Ka-Pow! -- they were blindsided by the greedy excesses of the subprime lenders who lacked their scruples.

But previously undisclosed internal documents that are now in Mr. Waxman's possession and that we've seen tell a different story. Memos and emails at the highest levels of Fannie and Freddie management in 2004 and 2005 paint a picture of two companies that saw their market share eroded by such products as option-ARMs and interest-only mortgages. The two companies were prepared to walk ever further out on the risk curve to maintain their market position.

The companies understood the risks they were running. But squeezed between the need to meet affordable-housing goals set by HUD and the desire to sustain their growth and profits, they took the leap anyway. As a result, by the middle of this year, the two companies were responsible for some $1.6 trillion worth of subprime credit of one form or another. The answer to Mr. Waxman's question about their role in the crisis, in other words, is that they were central players, if not the central players, in the creation of the housing boom and the credit bust. Mr. Waxman released some of these documents Tuesday but kept others under wraps.

In early 2004, Freddie's executive team was engaged in a heated debate over whether to start acquiring "stated income, stated assets" mortgages. And in April of that year, David Andrukonis, the head of risk management, wrote to his colleagues, "This is not an affordable product, as I understand it, but a product necessary to recapture [market] share. . . . In 1990 we called this product 'dangerous' and eliminated it from the marketplace." Freddie went ahead anyway.

At Tuesday's hearing, both Mr. Waxman and former Fannie CEO Franklin Raines argued that Fan and Fred were following the market, not leading it, as if this was exculpatory. The documents plainly show that people at both Fan and Fred clearly understood that these mortgages were risky, thought many homeowners didn't understand them and that they were putting their business at risk by buying up Alt-A and subprime mortgage-backed securities.

One Fannie Mae document from March 2005 notes dryly, "Although we invest almost exclusively in AAA-rated securities, there is a concern that the rating agencies may not be properly assessing the risk in these securities." But they bought them anyway, both to maintain their market share and to show people like Democrat Barney Frank that they were promoting affordable housing.

By April 2008, according to a document prepared for then-Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd and marked "Confidential -- Highly Restricted," Fannie's $312 billion in Alt-A mortgages represented "12% of single-family credit exposure." This book of business, the document notes, "was originated to maintain relevance in market with customers -- main originators were Countrywide, Lehman, Indymac, Washington Mutual, Amtrust." The first four need no introduction; regulators ordered Ohio-based Amtrust to stop lending two weeks ago.

Remember that one of Fannie's roles was supposed to be to buy up mortgage-backed securities in the secondary market and keep that market "liquid." This was, they always argued, the rationale for their $1 trillion-plus MBS portfolios. By becoming buyers of private-label subprime and Alt-A-backed MBS, they did just that -- they liquified and helped legitimize products that they now claim others irresponsibly sold.

In today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Whitewashing Fannie MaePolitical Favors at the FCC

TODAY'S COLUMNIST

Wonder Land: U.S. Says It Will Bail Out Christmas
– Daniel Henninger

COMMENTARY

We Need a Bailout Exit Strategy
– Christopher CoxObama Was Mute on Illinois Corruption
– John FundHow the GOP Should Prepare for a Comeback
– Karl RoveBankruptcy Doesn't Equal Death
– Don boudreauxMr. Raines even suggested that Fan and Fred's regulator was to blame for allowing them to get into trouble. "It is remarkable," he told the committee, "that during the period that Fannie Mae substantially increased its exposure to credit risk its regulator made no visible effort to enforce any limits."

What Mr. Raines failed to mention was that, all along, Fannie and Freddie were spending millions on lobbying to ensure that regulators did not get in their way. As the AP reported Sunday night, Freddie spent $11.7 million in lobbying in 2006 alone, with Newt Gingrich, for example, getting $300,000 that year for talking up the benefits of Freddie's business model. (Apologies welcome, Newt.)

Other Republicans on Freddie's payroll included former Senator Al D'Amato and Congressman Vin Weber, and then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's former chief of staff, Susan Hirschmann. As we know by now, Fan and Fred tried to buy everybody in town from both political parties, and the companies did it well enough to make themselves immune from regulatory scrutiny.

Mr. Waxman calls it a "myth" that Fannie and Freddie were the originators of the crisis. That's a red herring. Mr. Waxman's documents prove beyond doubt that Fan and Fred turbocharged the housing mania with a taxpayer-backed, Congressionally protected business model that has cost America dearly.

 
23257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: December 11, 2008, 12:40:08 PM
John Fund is a serious political reporter for the WSJ:
======================================

By JOHN FUND
This week Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on charges that he conspired to sell Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat, among other misdeeds. At first the president-elect tried to distance himself from the issue: "It is a sad day for Illinois. Beyond that, I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment." But it quickly became clear that Mr. Obama would have to say more, and yesterday he called for Mr. Blagojevich to resign and for a special election to fill the vacant Senate seat.

 
APWhat remains to be seen is whether this episode will put an end to what Chicago Tribune political columnist John Kass calls the national media's "almost willful" fantasy that Mr. Obama and Chicago's political culture have little to do with each other. Mr. Kass notes that the media devoted a lot more time and energy to investigating the inner workings of Sarah Palin's Wasilla, Alaska, than it has looking at Mr. Obama's Chicago connections.

To date, Mr. Obama's approach to Illinois corruption has been to congratulate himself for dodging association with it. "I think I have done a good job in rising politically in this environment without being entangled in some of the traditional problems of Chicago politics," he told the Chicago Tribune last spring. At the time, Mr. Obama was being grilled over news that he bought his house through a land deal involving Tony Rezko, a political fixer who was later convicted on 16 corruption counts. Rezko is mentioned dozens of times in the 76-page criminal complaint against Mr. Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama has an ambiguous reputation among those trying to clean up Illinois politics. "We have a sick political culture, and that's the environment Barack Obama came from," Jay Stewart, executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, told ABC News months ago. Though Mr. Obama did support ethics reforms as a state senator, Mr. Stewart noted that he's "been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state including, at this point, mostly Democratic politicians."

One reason for Mr. Obama's reticence may be his close relationship with the powerful Illinois senate president Emil Jones. Mr. Jones was a force in Mr. Obama's rise. In 2003, the two men talked about the state's soon-to-be vacant U.S. Senate seat. As Mr. Jones has recounted the conversation, Mr. Obama told him "You can make the next U.S. senator." Mr. Jones replied, "Got anybody in mind?" "Yes," Mr. Obama said. "Me."

Starting in 2003, Mr. Jones worked to burnish Mr. Obama's credentials by making him lead sponsor of bills including a watered-down ban on gifts to lawmakers. Most of Mr. Obama's legislative accomplishments came as result of his association with Mr. Jones.

In 2002, Mr. Obama turned up to help Mr. Blagojevich, a staunch ally of Mr. Jones, win the governor's mansion. Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama's incoming White House chief of staff, told The New Yorker earlier this year that six years ago he and Mr. Obama "participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two [other participants]."

Mr. Blagojevich won, but before long, problems surfaced. In 2004, Zalwaynaka Scott, the governor's inspector general, said his administration's efforts to evade merit-selection laws exposed "not merely an ignorance of the law, but complete and utter contempt for the law." Nonetheless, Mr. Obama endorsed Mr. Blagojevich's re-election in 2006.

This spring, many Democrats were so disgusted with Mr. Blagojevich that state House Speaker Michael Madigan drafted a memo on why Democrats should impeach Mr. Blagojevich. Mr. Madigan's "talking points" compared the corruption going on in the state to a tumor that must be removed.

But Mr. Madigan's move drew a rebuke from Mr. Jones. The Chicago Sun-Times story at the time quoted Mr. Jones saying he thought it was wrong for the speaker to "promote the impeachment of a Democratic Governor. . . Impeachment is unwarranted in my opinion, and should not be used as a political tool."

Many people were curious who Mr. Obama would side with in the dispute. Would it be with those Democrats who wanted to move aggressively against an apparently corrupt governor or with his old Chicago ally, Mr. Jones, who preferred to wait? Mr. Obama did neither. He kept silent. (I emailed the Obama campaign about Mr. Blagojevich's problems in June, but my question was ignored.)

In today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Whitewashing Fannie MaePolitical Favors at the FCC

TODAY'S COLUMNIST

Wonder Land: U.S. Says It Will Bail Out Christmas
– Daniel Henninger

COMMENTARY

We Need a Bailout Exit Strategy
– Christopher CoxObama Was Mute on Illinois Corruption
– John FundHow the GOP Should Prepare for a Comeback
– Karl RoveBankruptcy Doesn't Equal Death
– Don boudreauxTo his credit, Mr. Obama did call Mr. Jones in September to urge passage of an ethics bill banning some office holders from accepting money from a business that has a $50,000 or larger contract with the state. The bill passed and takes effect on Jan. 1.

Mr. Obama has spoken out forcefully against corruption outside Illinois. Kathy Tate-Bradish, a Chicago teacher active in education in Africa, gushed on Mr. Obama's campaign blog during his visit to Kenya last year about his "amazing" speech against corruption during his visit there.

"Corruption is the single biggest thing keeping not only Kenyans, but all Africans, down," she wrote. "Corruption is just killing them but nobody has been able to speak out against it because they fear for their own security. Barack spoke out against it, publicly, in Kenya. I honestly think the speech he gave will be one of the major factors that turns the tide against corruption."

Mr. Obama says he plans to return often to Chicago as president. "Our friends are here. Our family is here. And so we are going to try to come back here as often as possible," he told the Los Angeles Times this month. Perhaps during one of those trips he could find time to forthrightly address the corruption issues that the state will be sorting through in the weeks and months ahead. A president has a powerful bully pulpit. A few words from Mr. Obama could force real and lasting change in Illinois.
23258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: December 11, 2008, 12:10:32 PM
The Son Almost Rises

One key political casualty in the fallout from the Blagojevich scandal is likely to be Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who yesterday stepped forward to acknowledge he was "Senate Candidate 5" in the federal criminal complaint against Illinois' governor.

According to federal prosecutors, Mr. Blagojevich told allies that a representative of Candidate 5 had approached him on a "pay to play" basis and offered over $1 million in contributions in exchange for appointing Rep. Jackson as the U.S. Senator replacing Barack Obama.

Mr. Jackson said he had nothing to do with any such offer, although his attorney indicated that it was possible someone in Mr. Jackson's orbit had approached the governor without his consent.

Regardless of what ultimately happens legally, Mr. Jackson has now been captured on tape reading carefully from a prepared statement denying his guilt and then refusing to take questions from reporters on the advice of his attorneys -- hardly a launching platform to political greatness.

Mr. Jackson has been angling for a bigger political stage to play on for years, having frequently clashed with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to the point that he almost challenged him for the office in 2007. Lately, though, the fiery congressman from Chicago's South Side had made peace with the Daley machine and was on track to secure its blessing for a bid for statewide office. At a breakfast held at last fall's Democratic National Convention in Denver, Mr. Jackson effusively hugged Mayor Daley and had to use a tissue to wipe away some tears as he explained the meaning of the reconciliation. "I've been trying to get to know Mayor Daley for 14 years," he told the assembled crowd.

Political reporters interpreted the performance as an obvious attempt to secure Mr. Daley's blessing as the next U.S. Senator from Illinois. It was a good strategy, but it crashed and burned this week as Mr. Jackson was caught up in L'Affaire Blagojevich.

Now, instead of moving to the U.S. Senate, Mr. Jackson faces months of uncertainty as federal prosecutors probe his relationship to the disgraced Illinois governor and the possible indictment of his associates or even himself.

-- John Fund

Kissing the Olympic Rings Goodbye?

Chicago's Olympic committee is holding its breath, hoping that the high-profile drama surrounding Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's arrest on federal corruption charges won't adversely impact the city's bid to win the 2016 Games. Earlier this year, Chicago was announced as one of the four finalists by the IOC along with Tokyo, Madrid, and Rio de Janeiro.

Though generally considered an underdog, most observers believe the election of Barack Obama as president significantly boosted Chicago's chances of becoming only the fourth American city to host the Games (St. Louis hosted in 1904, Los Angeles in 1984, and Atlanta in 1996). Indeed, Mr. Obama wasted no time in putting his new global clout to work on behalf of the Windy City: One of his first acts as President-elect was to tape a video message to IOC members that was submitted along with city's final bid on November 21.

"The United States would be honored to have the opportunity to host the games and serve the Olympic movement," Mr. Obama said in the video. "As president-elect, I see the Olympics and Paralympic Games as an opportunity for our nation to reach out, welcome the world to our shores and strengthen our friendships across the globe."

Olympic officials say Governor Blagojevich hasn't played much of a role in the bidding process thus far, but the Governor did pledge to contribute $150 million in guaranteed state funds as part of Chicago's overall $1.5 billion bid package to the IOC. These financial guarantees are critical to Chicago's chances, since Chicago is the only city among the final four whose financial commitments are not being fully backed by the host country's national government.

Initial reactions suggest that while the Blagojevich scandal is unseemly and not necessarily helpful in the short term, it won't have much impact, if any, on the final outcome. Then again, the IOC won't make the final decision until next October, and in the world of Chicago politics, who knows what could happen by then.

-- Tom Bevan, executive editor of RealClearPolitics.com

Those Tragic Al Franken Voters

Al Franken, the Democratic Senate candidate locked in an acrimonious recount battle with GOP Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, has turned to YouTube.com to make the case that Minnesota officials aren't counting ballots that should be counted.

The Franken campaign released its latest video just before the State Canvassing Board's scheduled meeting on Friday, in an effort to convince the board to count several hundred absentee ballots that Team Franken claims were rejected for specious reasons. The video, which features seven voters who claim their votes should have been counted, is an effective piece of propaganda. As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports: "In one scene, quadriplegic Mike Brickley of Bloomington is shown lying in bed -- with his head resting on a Minnesota Vikings pillow -- as he pleads with officials to count his vote."

Mr. Brickley tells the camera: "I may be a quadriplegic, but we are still someone, and we deserve to have our votes counted."

The Coleman campaign claims Mr. Brickley had his ballot rejected because officials found he was not registered to vote and that his signature on the absentee ballot didn't match the one used on the application for an absentee ballot. Mr. Brickley maintains he was registered and that his wife had to sign his ballot on his behalf because of his disability.

If Mr. Brickley is indeed registered to vote, I have no doubt a way will be found to have his ballot counted. But his hard-luck case doesn't address the many thousands of absentee ballots rejected for legitimate reasons. With Mr. Coleman holding a lead of between 190 and 300 votes as the recount ends, Mr. Franken has little chance of winning unless he can convince state officials to count a large number of absentee ballots that were originally rejected for not meeting legal requirements. There is precious little evidence that enough such ballots exist to turn the tide.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"When it comes to Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Dead Meat), many national TV talking heads can't resist playing amateur psychiatrist. 'He's crazy,' said one talking head of our governor. 'A sociopath!' said another. 'He should have been put in a straitjacket, not handcuffs,' said a third, all of them diagnosing Blagojevich as cuckoo. . . .
  • ne thing is clear: The pundits who make such diagnoses have never talked to a Chicago machine politician in their lives. How do they think Chicago politicians talk in private when they're muscling some other guy for cash? Like Helen Mirren playing the queen?" -- Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.

Quote of the Day II

"Idiocy and greed aren't just for Republicans. For every Larry Craig, there's an Eliot Spitzer; for every Ted Stevens, there's a Rod Blagojevich. In our heads, we Democrats know that. It's just that in our hearts, we don't want to believe it. Because we're the good guys, right? But it's precisely when a party achieves power that its members need to start worrying the most about idiocy and greed. . . Gaining political power also corrupts in far more subtle ways. Members of political majorities succumb easily to smugness and complacency, to the conviction that explaining and justifying ideas is no longer necessary, to the temptation to dismiss critics as so many irrelevant cranks. 'Groupthink' is mainly a disease of the powerful and complacent, not the fractious opposition" -- Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks.

The Next Senator from New Yawk?

When Hillary Clinton vacates her Senate seat, there won't be any need for another carpetbagger to fill the spot. Among those applying for the job is Fran Drescher, star of "The Nanny" and a childhood resident of the outer boroughs of New York City. The actress best known for her role as a nasally New Yorker feels she could play that role just as convincingly in the U.S. Senate.

Ms. Drescher's publicist notes that she has been an advocate for women's health, notably the "Cancer Schmancer" movement, encouraging early testing. For that matter, she's also been a public diplomacy envoy for the State Department, a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill to lobby for cancer funding, and a fixture at Democratic conventions and fundraisers. For a celebrity, in other words, she's been far more of a political workhorse than, say, fellow small-screener and loud mouth Al Franken.

The rap on Ms. Drescher, of course, has always been that she's too annoying to listen to. Then again, being known for whining isn't necessarily a liability in politics. As she told People Magazine, her audiences on the lecture circuit have been goading her to get into politics for ages. "It was one of the single most-asked questions: When are you going to run? Only second to: Is that your real voice?"

Why should New York Gov. David Paterson pick her to fill the Hillary seat? "I would hope he would take into consideration that I'm a beloved New Yorker who gets the New York constituents probably as good, if not better, than any of the other people being considered," she told People magazine.

One other potential qualification is that Ms. Drescher was an energetic Hillary supporter in the Democratic primaries. If Mrs. Clinton has a say, the Nanny might be a shoo-in compared to current pollster favorite Caroline Kennedy, who famously stiffed her home-state senator and instead came out for Barack Obama.

-- Collin Levy



23259  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Agradecimiento de cada dia on: December 11, 2008, 12:00:38 PM
Guau a todos:

Como se ve en el foro "Martial Arts", hay un hilo llamado "Daily Expression of Gratitude".  Con este hilo se comienza aqui lo mismo en espanol.

El concepto basico es muy simple y, en mi opinion, sumamente potente:  Expresar abiertamente cada dia algo por lo cual este's agradecido.  Puede ser algo profundo, o algo muy pequeno.  Por supuesto, habra'n dias en los cuales se nos hace dificil encontrar el espiritu de gratitud, pero precisamente en estos momentos que es el mas importante que conectemos con agradecimiento. 

Es posible sentir "tonto" haciendo eso, pero ofrezco que en mi opinion este ejercicio, este meditacion, es muy potente.

Comienzo:

"Hoy agradezco haber encontrado un software que traduce English-Epanol y Espanol-English.  Eso me permitira' contribuir mas a este foro."

?Ven?  No esa cosa complicada-- y pido que Uds participen cada dia.

La Aventura continua,
Marc
23260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: December 11, 2008, 11:49:22 AM
FWIW what I see so far is a lot of sound and fury signifying , , , I'm not sure what. 

I think my hardcore rightwing bonafides to be in reasonably good order  wink  but so far I have not seen anything that puts BO in a bad light.   Indeed, what seems to be known so far does not contradict the possibility that BO has acted with integrity.
23261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: December 11, 2008, 11:45:25 AM
Two interesting posts there Rachel.

Turning to the Dating Darwin one, I commend the author for what seems to be a honest search for Truth.

She writes:

"As girls overturn traditional gender roles, boys are forced to do the same, leaving both sexes in scary, unscripted territory. This has, indeed, come as a result of feminist advancements -- but  feminist advancements within a culture that is not yet egalitarian. I think many young women are still in search of an empowered and authentic sexual identity -- a way to be active participants in our sexual culture. Given that they are doing this within a culture than defines sexual power in male terms, , ,"

The word "egalitarian" is a slippery one.  Properly understood, it simply means "equal in value" but in point of fact it is often used to mean "identical in all ways"-- which IMHO is foolishness.

As I see it, the underlying Darwinian question is presented by the interregnum between the onset of puberty and actual childbearing in the modern era.  In many cases, this lasts for decades!!!  The consequences of this separation of sex and reproduction, greatly enabled by technology (the various forms of birth control) and fetus-cide) are as profound as they are outside of Darwinian logic.
IMHO THIS is what drives the dynamic the author seeks to address.

What I sense feminists (even a lucid one such as this author) imply when they use the phrase "traditional gender roles" is that these traditions are simply some sort of arbitrary social construct with oppressive overtones-- one that can be replaced by the "identical in all ways" construct.  Men and women are equal in value, but they most certainly are not the same, and the liberal PC feminazi ideology that says they are ultimately will fail.

A very simple and direct Darwinian example of this is the dramatic decline in birth rates below replacement rates.  I submit the proposition that the more "egalitarian" the culture, the lower the birth rates.  Look at Europe for example.  In many major countries such as Germany, France, and Spain the birth rates are as low as 1.1- 1.4!!!  In contrast, the Muslim birth rates (both Turkish and Arabic) are way above the replacement rate of 2.1.   The net result is the pre-emptive dhimmitude chronicled in various nearby threads.

A large subject, but right now my day takes me elsewhere.

TAC!
Marc

23262  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Seminario con Guro Marc Denny en Argentina on: December 11, 2008, 10:54:02 AM
Nico:

Disculpe la tardanza en mi respuesta.

Te felicito la tarea de DBMA comenzada tan bien y espero con ganas ver donde el futuro nos lleve.

!La Aventura continua!
Guro Marc
23263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington on: December 11, 2008, 10:41:05 AM
"No compact among men ... can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other."

--George Washington, draft of first Inaugural Address, April 1789
23264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Vote Fraud (ACORN et al) on: December 10, 2008, 08:06:25 PM
Ann Coulter IMHO has become highly erratic in the quality of her work.  That said, this one seems rather lucid.  Here's her take on the shenanigans in Minnesota:
=============
Minnesota Ballots: Land of 10,000 Fakes
by  Ann Coulter

 
What is the point of having a hand recount of ballots in the Minnesota Senate race if the Democratic secretary of state is going to use the election night totals in precincts where it will benefit Democrat Al Franken?
   
Either the hand recount produces a better, more accurate count, or there was no point to the state spending roughly $100,000 to conduct the hand recount in the first place.
   
But that is exactly what the George Soros-supported secretary of state has agreed to do in the case of a Dinkytown precinct near the University of Minnesota. The hand recount of the liberal precinct produced 133 fewer ballots than the original count on election night and, more important, 46 fewer votes for Franken.
   
So he's proposing to defer to the election night total over the recount tally.
   
There are no "missing" ballots in Dinkytown. Ballots were run through the voting machines twice on election night. Last week, Minneapolis elections director Cindy Reichert explained they already knew for a fact that 129 ballots had been run through machines twice on election night, which pretty closely matched the 133 allegedly "missing" ballots.
   
As Reichert said, "There are human errors that are made on Election Day." According to an article in the Dec. 2, 2008, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Reichert was "confident that that's what happened" and that "we have all the ballot envelopes here."   
   
But after relentless badgering by the Franken campaign, now Reichert isn't so sure anymore. So the new plan is for Minneapolis to submit both the election night total from Dinkytown -- which gives Franken an extra 46 votes -- and the meticulous hand recount total, which does not, and allow the canvassing board to decide which to use.
   
The 129 ballots that Reichert said were run through the machines twice on election night could end up being counted twice. 
   
In all other precincts, the initial tallies from election night are treated as highly unreliable rough approximations of the actual vote, while the results from the hand recount are regarded as the absolute truth.
   
Only in the Dinkytown precinct, where the election night total gave Franken an additional 46 votes, does the state treat the hand recount as an error-prone joke compared to the highly accurate election night vote.
   
The Soros-supported Secretary of State Mark Ritchie explains that there is "precedent" for counting election night totals rather than the recount totals. If so, how about using the election night tally from some of the precincts that gave Coleman more votes on election night?
   
Highly implausible, post-election "corrections" in just three Democratic precincts -- Two Harbors, Mountain Iron and Partridge Township -- cost Coleman 446 votes. But I note that Ritchie doesn't propose deferring to the election night totals there.
   
The Minneapolis Star Tribune attributed the 436-vote "correction" in Franken's favor to "exhausted county officials." Were they more exhausted in those three precincts than in Dinkytown?
   
Either the post-election tally is better than the election night tally or it isn't. Cherry-picking only those election night results Ritchie likes isn't an attempt to get an accurate vote-count; it's an attempt to get a Democrat in the U.S. Senate.
   
If Minnesota is going to accept the election night tally from Dinkytown, why not from any of these precincts where Coleman lost votes under far more suspicious circumstances?  And why are guys named "Al" always caught trying to steal elections?
   
Wholly apart from the outrageous inconsistency of deciding that some election night tallies trump the hand recount and some don't, Franken's miraculous acquisition of more than 500 votes from heavily Democratic precincts in post-election "corrections" wasn't believable on its face -- and that's even accounting for the fact that Franken voters tend to be stupider than average and therefore more likely to fill out their ballots incorrectly.
   
Corrections in all other 2008 races combined led to only 482 changes in the entire state of Minnesota. The idea that typo "corrections" in one single contest from only three precincts, out of more than 4,000 precincts, could lead to 436 "corrections" benefiting Franken is manifestly absurd.
   
Ritchie's proposal to accept the election night count from one precinct is a stunning admission that even he doesn't believe a hand recount is any more accurate than the original election night tally. 
   
To be sure, endlessly recounting ballots doesn't yield more accurate results, it just creates different results. There is no reason to think a tabulation is more accurate because it occurred later in time.
   
But then why have a recount at all?  If the state of Minnesota is going to spend $100,000 and endless man-hours to conduct a meticulous hand recount on the grounds that it is more accurate, the state ought to at least pretend to believe in its own recount.
   
Election recounts are never intended to get more accurate results. They are simply opportunities for Democrats to manufacture new votes and steal elections.
   
And once again, Republicans are asleep at the wheel while another close election is being openly stolen by the man whose contributions to western civilization include the "Planet of The Enormous Hooters" sketch on "SNL."

23265  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Question from a friend in Iraq on: December 10, 2008, 08:03:58 PM
From behind a full nelson to keep the hands from the bomb trigger?

From in front , , , double underhooks?

23266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Golfer heroes on: December 10, 2008, 06:58:30 PM
Notice the age of the defenders of justice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Life of Reilly

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Rick Reilly
ESPN The Magazine

We golfers are sick of all you Americans who call us useless Crisco butts wearing clothing salvaged from a Sherwin-Williams paint factory explosion. To you, we offer The Fab Foursome.


These four golfers not only fought off an armed robber, they chased him down in a golf cart and held him for police. And all without resorting to a single Big Bertha!

OK, true, the assailant was wearing underpants on his head. And, yes, the weapon was only a kitchen knife. And yes, he did move at the speed of Willard Scott on stilts, but what did you expect? We did say the guy got caught by golfers.

It all happened on Monday, Nov. 24, at around 4 p.m. at the Central Valley Golf Course in Salt Lake City. A, ahem, brief summary:

Scott Flick, 34, an assistant golf pro, was alone in the shop when, according to the charges, Barry Kramer, 48, entered wearing a pair of brown men's tighties on his head and carrying a 10-inch kitchen knife in his fist. Seeing nobody behind the cash register, he surprised Flick in his office and said, "Money!"

Then Flick said something very clever, which was: "Are you kidding me?!" Question No. 1: Why was the man wearing underpants on his head? A: Perhaps he planned to take the money and launder it.

Question No. 2: Was the color of the underpants originally brown or were they … A: "No," answers Flick. "They were not stained from the day before."

The point is, this man, who Flick thought outweighed him by 70 pounds, aimed to give Flick a slice that no lesson could cure. He thrust the knife at Flick's bellybutton, menacingly. "People ask me why I didn't just do what he wanted," recalls Flick, "but I was trapped in that office. I really felt threatened."

Surveillance cameras caught Flick grabbing the man's arms and shoving them above his head. The knife caught Flick's ear. Now it was Van Gogh time, pal. Flick wrestled the assailant out of the office, into a supply closet—carving up his own hand along the way—and hip-checked him into a shelf, breaking the knife off at the handle.

Finding himself at a golf course without a shank, the assailant fled, with Flick following him as he called 911. "I didn't even know my ear was cut until I looked at my phone and saw all the blood."

At that instant, three golfers were coming in from their round. Flick saw them and hollered, "Get this guy! He tried to rob me! I'm cut!"

Library custodian Bob Brewer, 58, spun the cart around in hot pursuit, with his friend, real-estate agent Reed Madsen, 57, sprinting behind. Next on the Golf Channel: America's Most Unforgettable Cart Chases!

In the parking lot, the third buddy—groundskeeper Gary Itow, 58—gave chase, too, a golf shoe on his right foot, a running shoe on his left, neither of them tied. "The guy still had the underwear on his head," Itow remembers. "He looked like maybe he was having trouble seeing."

Robbery 101: Leghole faces out.

As the assailant ran across the driving range, Brewer ran the nose of the cart into the back of his calves, felling him on the spot. He then jumped out and, along with his two buddies, stomped him flat while Itow kicked the knife handle out of his hand. A passing golfer came over offering aspirin. He thought the robber was having a heart attack. When they told him the man was actually a knife-waving maniac, the Good Samaritan moved away quickly. Exactly, son. Leave this to the experts.

Question No. 3: Did guys try to hit Bob's cart with seven-iron shots as he drove across the practice range? A: Surprisingly, no.

Police charged Kramer with aggravated robbery. And it turns out this may have been No. 2 for the Underpants Robber. A week before, a knife-wielding man walked into a suburban Salt Lake City pro shop with men's undergarments on his head and tried to rob it. Detectives for both cases say it's "possible" the cases are linked. (OK, so they're not exactly Scotland Yard.)

Rightly, the Fab Foursome is being hailed as heroes. Flick got 10 stitches in his right hand and a bonus which was way more than the nearly $200 in the register. For their courage, Flick gave the three buddies a free round of golf.

As for those three, they get out of their cart now with a certain bounce, according to Itow. "We say stuff to each other like, 'Go ahead, punk. Make my putt."

And get this: Hollywood executives have approached them about starring in a new TV series—CSI: Pro Shop. Question No. 4: Did you make that one up? A: Yes.
23267  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Question from a friend in Iraq on: December 10, 2008, 06:50:47 PM
My sentiments exactly. grin

 I suspect what my friend has in mine though is a situation wherein the GG has to jump on the BG HTH.
23268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Men: Stay out of the doghouse! on: December 10, 2008, 05:11:48 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SecVCh9dg4I
23269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Joe the plumber appalled on: December 10, 2008, 09:26:25 AM
'Joe the Plumber' told conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Tuesday that he felt "dirty" after hitting the campaign trail with Republican presidential nominee John McCain and "seeing some of the things that take place," Politico reported.

Joe Wurzelbacher said he was specifically put off by McCain when it came to talk of the $700 billion bailout.

"When I was on the bus with him, I asked him a lot of questions about the bailout because most Americans did not want that to happen,"

Wurzelbacher told Beck. "I asked him some pretty direct questions. Some of the answers you guys are gonna receive they appalled me, absolutely. I was angry. In fact, I wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him."
Wurzelbacher said he stayed on the trail with McCain "honestly, because the thought of Barack Obama as president scares me even more."

Wurzelbacher, however, offered kind words to McCain running mate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

"Sarah Palin is absolutely the real deal," he said.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elec...cain-appalled/
23270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: December 10, 2008, 09:10:07 AM
My initial impression is that I am not seeing anything terrible by BO here.  Politics is not beanbag.
====================
http://www.newsmax.com:80/headlines/Blagojevich_Indictment/2008/12/09/160064.html?s=al&promo_code=7403-1

Blagojevich Scandal: What Did Obama Know, and When Did He Know It?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 7:04 PM
By: David A. Patten  Article Font Size   


Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich wanted “something big” from the Obama administration in return for naming its preferred candidate to fill Obama’s Senate seat — and he delivered an expletive-filled tirade when Obama’s representatives apparently refused to go along.

Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested Tuesday on charges that they tried to “sell” the U.S. Senate seat that Obama recently vacated. Under Illinois law, naming a replacement falls to Blagojevich.

The FBI says it taped Blagojevich complaining that Obama advisers were telling him that he had to “suck it up . . . and give this mother----er [the President-elect]] his senator. F--- him. For nothing? F--- him.”

Obama briefly addressed the arrests Tuesday afternoon, telling the media, “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening. It’s a sad day for Illinois. Beyond that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”

The criminal complaint was announced Tuesday by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who came to national prominence during the investigation that led to the conviction of Scooter Libby on charges related to the Valerie Plame case.  Fitzgerald stated Tuesday that “there is no allegation in the complaint that the president-elect was aware of it and that is all I can say,” according to ABCNews.com. The 76-page criminal complaint refers to the president-elect and his representatives at least 40 times, however.

Item No. 99 in the document states that Blagojevich and Harris spoke on Nov. 7 with “Adviser B,” a Washington, D.C.-based consultant presumably working on behalf of the Obama transition team. During the call, Blagojevich indicated that he would appoint a person the complaint identifies only as “Senate Candidate 1” -- presumably a candidate preferred by the Obama administration -- in return for Blagojevich being appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services by Obama.

Candidate 1 is generally believed to be Obama insider Valerie Jarrett, who has been mentioned as among the favorites to replace Obama in the Senate.

Harris stated “we wanted our [request] to be reasonable and rather than . . . make it look like some sort of selfish grab for a quid pro quo."

During the call, Blagojevich stated he was hurting “financially.” And Harris said the “financial security” of the Blagojevich family was an issue. At one point, Blagojevich stated outright, “I want to make money,” according to the indictment. Also discussed during that conference call was a “three-way deal” between the SEIU union, Blagojevich, and Obama. The deal was that Blagojevich would appoint Obama’s preferred candidate, and in return Obama would help Blagojevich win the SEIU appointment to head an organization called “Change to Win.”

ChangetoWin.org describes itself as an organization created by “seven unions and six million workers” to “restore the American Dream of the 21st Century.”

Harris said the three-way deal would give Obama a “buffer so there is no obvious quid pro quo for [the appointment of Senate Candidate 1]. The criminal complaint states, “Adviser B said that he liked the idea of the three-way deal.”

Three days later, the indictment said, Blagojevich told Harris it was unlikely that Obama would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services, or appoint him to be an ambassador, due to the investigation looming over him. The complaint states that Adviser B and another consultant are believed to have participated in a call during which Blagojevich said they were telling him to “suck it up” for two years, and give this “motherf---er [the President-elect] his senator. F--- him. For nothing? F--- him.”

Next, states the complaint, Blagojevich says he would appoint another candidate, Senate Candidate 4, “before I just give f---ing [Senate Candidate 1] a f---ing Senate seat and I don’t get anything.”

Senate Candidate 4, the complaint states, is a deputy governor of the State of Illinois. Dean Martinez, Bob Greenlee, and Louanner Peters currently serve as deputy governors.

During the conversations with Obama’s representatives, Blagojevich repeatedly made it clear he would not agree to name “Senate Candidate 1” to fill the position without a quid pro quo from the White House, if only indirectly, according to the complaint. Blagojevich stated he wanted to make $250,000 to $300,000 annually.

The criminal complaint indicates Blagojevich and his staff were confident they could exact something from at least one candidate for the seat, Senate Candidate 5. Senate Candidate 5 is not identified.

Based on the complaint, it remains unclear whether any close Obama associate knew that Blagojevich was seeking monetary gain in return for the Senate appointment. It is possible that having such knowledge without reporting it to authorities in a timely way could raise serious legal issues.  If nothing else, the complaints represent an embarrassment to Obama given his support for Blagojevich’s gubernatorial reelection bid.

The RNC responded to the indictments in part by circulating an Associated Press report from August 2006 in which Obama stated, “We’ve got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois.”

Also, RNC Chairman Robert M. “Mike” Duncan released a statement calling Obama’s reaction to the arrests “insufficient at best.”

He added, “Given the President-elect’s history of supporting and advising Gov. Blagojevich, he has a responsibility to speak out and fully address the issue.”

© 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
 
 
23271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: on: December 10, 2008, 08:59:23 AM
"No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable."

--George Washington, Message to the House of Representatives, 3 December 1793
23272  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: New to forum on: December 10, 2008, 01:21:14 AM
That's the spirit!

I remember being very surprised when that happened.

Welcome aboard!

23273  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Healing Aspect of DBMA on: December 10, 2008, 01:19:45 AM
If you use the Advanced Search function to look for "Dit Da Jow" you may find something , , ,
23274  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Question from a friend in Iraq on: December 10, 2008, 12:36:16 AM
Woof All:

A friend who is in Iraq training the Baghdad police in modern police skills emails me the following question:

"Are there/is there a pressure point that when pressed would prevent/significantly limit a person from effectively pressing a button (like on a suicide vest switch)?"

Comments/suggestions?

TAC!
CD
23275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor:The quasi surge on: December 09, 2008, 11:47:08 PM
Geopolitical Diary: The Afghanistan Surge and Pakistan's Role
December 9, 2008

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar remained defiant as ever Monday, declaring in a message posted on an Islamist radical Web site that a planned surge of foreign troops to Afghanistan would result only in more targets for Taliban fighters. He also refused to negotiate with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government in Kabul so long as foreign soldiers remain in Afghanistan.

Though such a statement is not exactly surprising, coming from a hardliner like Mullah Omar, even his more moderate colleagues are not feeling compelled to entertain negotiations with the government at the moment. Despite U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s statements about a “soft surge” strategy analogous to a model used in Iraq — a surge that could total 20,000 U.S. troops, on top of more than 60,000 U.S. and NATO forces already present — the Taliban movement is not quaking in its boots.

No one is suggesting a cut-and-paste application of the Iraq strategy, but the underpinning is the same: A significant influx of combat forces to turn the tide of the conflict and change regional perceptions.

In the Iraq experience, it is not that the 30,000 extra troops altered the balance of power — far from it. It was the arrival of those troops in context that was significant. U.S. President George W. Bush committed the forces immediately after his party lost the 2006 congressional elections and thus control over both houses of Congress. The obvious decision would have been to throw in the towel and begin a withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, Bush surged forces. The general feeling in the region — and particularly in Iran — was shocked confusion. For if the Americans were willing to double down after a bad election result, what would it take for them to back off? The result was a shift in calculus in Tehran and among Iraq’s sectarian groups that led to negotiations, a significant reduction in violence and ultimately the Status of Forces Agreement, which defines terms of the U.S. military presence in Iraq for the next three years.

The U.S. hope now is that the architect and implementer of the Iraq surge strategy, Gen. David Petraeus, can translate the Iraq success to the Afghan theater, largely using forces that are being freed up from Iraq. Just as the surge into Iraq caused the Iranians to wonder if the Americans had lost their minds, the logic goes, a surge into Afghanistan might cause the Pakistanis to shift their position. Specifically, the Americans want the Pakistanis to take a much firmer line against militant Islamists in the region bordering Afghanistan.

However, a direct Iraq-to-Afghanistan comparison is impossible because the war theaters are quite different — perhaps too different to make the surge strategy applicable.

First and most critically, there is no single government in Pakistan. In fact, many of the factions in Pakistan fully side with the radical Islamists that the United States wants to target in the border region. And as the last couple of weeks have illustrated, there are sound reasons to doubt that Pakistan’s government would be able to effect a difference in the security situation, even if it does possess the will to crack down on the Islamist rogues that are causing trouble.

Second, there is a belief within the Pakistani government — among those who are making at least some efforts to help out the war effort — that the Americans surely will not take any steps that would threaten the coherence of the Pakistani state itself. To do so would, in their eyes, destroy Pakistan and release what pressure that has been brought to bear on the militants in the first place. The key bluff (assuming it is a bluff) of an Afghan surge would be for the Americans to convince this faction that, no, Washington is less concerned with the fragility of the Pakistani state than with eradicating Islamist militants, so Islamabad had better step up.

Third, even if the bluff works, there is always the concern that India will be compelled to take military action against Pakistan itself — with or without U.S. consent — in retribution for the Mumbai attacks, and in hopes of keeping such an attack from occurring again. In other words, if the Pakistanis become all the more concerned about rival India to the east, they will have even less incentive to worry about problems on their western border with Afghanistan. In fact, Pakistan could grow even more reliant on Islamist militant irregulars to use against India as tensions escalate.

It is an imperfect comparison, and applying the surge strategy to Afghanistan is probably a long shot at best. But right now it is the only page in the game book that appears to have some relevance.
23276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: December 09, 2008, 09:59:23 PM
second post of the day:

WHY ARE MEXICAN PASSPORTS SHOWING UP IN MUMBAI, INDIA?

By Todd Bensman
The San Antonio Express-News

Three Afghani Muslim men caught posing as Mexican nationals last month while
en route to Europe were part of a human smuggling operation and carried what
are now believed to be altered but genuine Mexican passports for which they
paid $10,000 each, Indian investigators told The San Antonio Express-News.


An ongoing transcontinental investigation, which now involves Mexican and
Indian authorities, began Feb. 11 when a suspicious airport customs official
in Kuwait noticed the three Afghanis, traveling under Mexican pseudonyms,
could not speak Spanish during a layover on their air trip from New Delhi,
India to France.

The three Afghani travelers were detained and deported to India, where they
remain in custody while Mexican and Indian authorities try to learn about
their backgrounds, where they were going and who sold the apparently real
government-issue passports. A U.S. source confirmed the FBI and Immigration
and Customs Enforcement investigators also are looking into the matter.

At issue to some U.S. national security experts is whether another of
Mexico's embassies and consulates abroad might be implicated in selling
travel documents to people from countries like Afghanistan where terrorist
organizations are active, a circumstance that potentially could bring
terrorists to American borders. It wouldn't be the first time a Mexican
embassy was implicated in such an affair.

In 2003, a Mexican investigation into a Lebanon-Mexico human smuggling
operation produced firings and indictments of Mexican embassy personnel in
Beirut for allegedly selling travel documents to Lebanese citizens. One man
who bought a Mexican visa for $3,000 turned out to be a ranking Hezbollah
operative smuggled over the California border in the trunk of a car. Mahmoud
Kourani was convicted in 2004 of supporting the terrorist group from
Detroit.

Interdicting U.S.-bound travelers from the Middle East "was our number one
concern," said recently retired FBI Assistant Legal Attaché James Conway,
who for four years after 9-11 oversaw the bureau's counterterrorism programs
in Mexico City. "That's the national security concern from our southern
flank."

Travelers from Islamic countries carrying passports that are valid but
altered with fake names and photographs are among the most difficult to
detect, he said. In the black markets of human smuggling, real national
passports with embedded security bar codes rank among the most valuable
travel documents because they enable their bearers to more easily slip
through airport inspections.
==============
"If you've got a Mexican passport you've already crossed the bridge," Conway
said. "And you can become part of the flood of people who cross into the
U.S. If terrorists wanted to exploit the infrastructure in place, they can.
It's there."

TERRORISTS OR REFUGEES?

V.G. Babu, superintendent of immigration police at Cochin International
Airport, told the Express-News in a telephone interview the passports were
genuine government-manufactured passports and that the three men admitted to
buying them for $10,000 each in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, which
hosts a Mexican consulate office.

Babu said the three men initially tried to convince Indian authorities that
they were Mexicans. But the story quickly fell apart when two of the three
couldn't prove they spoke Spanish, he said.

"We broke them," because of the language issue, he said, and handed the men
over to federal Indian police for further investigation.

Investigators learned that a third Afghan who did speak some Spanish had
more than casual dealings with the Mexican embassy personnel in New Delhi
and was known to speak several languages, according to one Indian news
report.

Babu said he could offer no further details. Mexican foreign service
officials would only confirm that a multi-ministry investigation was
underway.

The Mexican Embassy in New Delhi declined to comment on the case. However, a
Feb. 16 Newindypress.com report cited New Delhi-based Ambassador Rogerlio
Granguillhome as confirming to Indian authorities that the passports were
likely real and asking that the documents be handed over so they can be
traced to their origins at an embassy or consulate office.

Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for Mexico's embassy in Washington D.C., also
would not answer questions specific to the investigation. But he did say his
government "has applied strong measures and invested considerable resources
to continuously improve the security of its travel documents."

"Mexico is a committed partner with the U.S. in ensuring . our borders are
not used to threaten or undermine our common security," Alday said in an
email.

Whether the Afghanis are connected to terrorist organizations battling with
American troops in Afghanistan and how they obtained the passports remain
unknown as the obscure investigation unfolds.

But Afghanistan is one of 43 predominantly Islamic nations listed by the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security as "countries of special interest"
because Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups operate in them.

Many Afghans caught crossing the U.S. southern border in recent years have
been determined to be economic immigrants, not terrorists, but many others
are presumed to have crossed and not been caught. Between 2002 and 2006, the
U.S. border patrol caught about 63 Afghanis crossing the borders, according
to agency capture data.

Conway, the former FBI legal attaché to Mexico, said that during his tour
the FBI got many "hits" running the names of captured immigrants from those
countries through terror watch list databases. He declined to elaborate,
citing national security rules against disclosure, and it remains unknown
what was learned of those individuals. But terrorists have illegally crossed
into the U.S. from Mexico and Canada since the mid 1990s.


THE WEAK LINK

The India case highlights concern felt among homeland security officials
since 9-11 about a continuing stream of immigrants from countries of
interest who illegally cross U.S. borders every year using Latin American
travel documents, often provided by paid human smugglers.

The chief concern, according to current and former FBI and ICE agents
familiar with the issue, is how well Latin American countries police the
supplies of travel documents emanating from their embassies and consulates
in Islamic countries.

According to federal court records from prosecutions of Middle Eastern
smugglers, thousands of Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese and citizens of many other
Islamic countries have been able to travel illegally to Latin American
countries, then over U.S. borders. They were often able to do so by using
real travel documents originating from embassy offices of Mexico, Guatemala,
Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.

Conway said the ability to obtain real passports from any of those countries
represents a high danger.
================
"If you've got diplomatic establishments, like in Beirut, handing out
passports, there's little you can do," he said. "They come to Mexico, dress
like Mexican businessmen and you think they're going to pop up on our radar
screen? Absolutely not. They're going to walk on through."

In recent years, U.S. authorities have sought to make Central- and South
American countries more aware of the security threat presented by their
consulate offices and embassies. But some of those countries, such as
Venezuela and Guatemala, have proven less than responsive when asked to
tighten controls on foreign service personnel stationed abroad.

Among countries south of the U.S., Mexico has proven to be among the most
cooperative, Conway and other federal agents who have worked
counterterrorism programs there have said. Mexico has collaborated
extensively with American agencies to interdict travelers from countries of
interest, going so far as to allow American agents to interrogate captured
detainees inside Mexican facilities.

As part of those efforts, the Mexican government has taken some steps to
fortify confidence in its embassy personnel. For instance, after an
investigation in 2003 Mexico purged its Beirut embassy of personnel thought
to have been supplying travel documents to a Lebanese human smuggling
operation run by Salim Boughader, a Lebanese-Mexican.

Then, after U.S. courts were through convicting Boughader of smuggling
hundreds of Lebanese into Mexico for journeys over the U.S. border, Mexico
prosecuted and convicted him.

Mexico also has intensified a program of vetting its consuls and actively
monitoring the activities of staff elsewhere. Last year, the Express-News
reported that Iraqis and other citizens of the region had offered hundreds
of thousands of dollars in bribes to Mexico's honorary consul to Jordan, for
travel visas that would get them to Mexico and then the U.S. (SEE BREACHING
AMERICA SERIES)


Raouf N. El-Far, a Jordanian businessman who was appointed Mexico's honorary
consul to Jordan in 2004, said he refused all offers. He also said he
underwent an intensive intelligence background check before his appointment,
part of a new program at the time.

Still, word that three Afghans caught using passports to pose as traveling
Mexican nationals struck counter-terrorism expert Steven Emerson as lucky -
and alarming.

"If these three Afghanis figured out how to infiltrate under false Mexican
identifies, you can be sure that Islamic terrorists have done the same,"
said Emerson, who runs the Washington D.C.-based Investigative Project on
Terrorism.

"This needs to be investigated by Congress and the FBI."

Express-News reporter Sean Mattson in Mexico contributed to this report
=================
23277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mexico circling the drain? on: December 09, 2008, 09:56:57 PM
Stratfor
Part 1: A Critical Confluence of Events
December 9, 2008 | 1213 GMT
Summary

Mexico is facing the perfect storm as the global financial crisis begins to
impact the country's economy and as the government's campaign against the
drug cartels seems to be making the country even less secure. Mexico also
faces legislative elections in the coming year, which will involve much
jockeying for the 2012 presidential race. The political implications of the
financial crisis will be reflected in a decline in employment and overall
standard of living. In a country where political expression takes the form
of paralyzing protest, the economic downturn could spell near-disaster for
the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Analysis
Editor's Note: This is the first part of a series on Mexico.



Mexico appears to be a country coming undone. Powerful drug cartels use
Mexico for the overland transshipment of illicit drugs - mainly cocaine,
marijuana and methamphetamine - from producers in South America to consumers
in the United States. Violence between competing cartels has grown over the
past two years as they have fought over territory and as the Mexican army
has tried to secure the embattled areas, mainly on the country's periphery.
It is a tough fight, made even tougher by endemic geographic, institutional
and technical problems in Mexico that make a government victory hard to
achieve. The military is stretched thin, the cartels are becoming even more
aggressive and the people of Mexico are growing tired of the violence.


At the same time, the country is facing a global economic downturn that will
slow Mexico's growth and pose additional challenges to national stability.
Although the country appears to be in a comfortable fiscal position for the
short term, the outlook for the country's energy industry is bleak, and a
decline in employment could prompt social unrest. Complications also loom in
the political sphere as Mexican parties campaign ahead of 2009 legislative
elections and jockey for position in preparation for the 2012 presidential
election.

Economic Turmoil

As the international financial crisis roils economies around the world,
Mexico has been hit hard. Tightly bound to its northern neighbor, Mexico's
economy is set to shrink alongside that of the United States, and it will be
an enormous challenge for the Mexican government to face in the midst of a
devastating war with the drug cartels.


The key to understanding the Mexican economy is an appreciation of Mexico's
enormous integration with the United States. As a party to the North
American Free Trade Agreement and one of the largest U.S. trading partners,
Mexico is highly vulnerable to the vagaries of the U.S. economy. The United
States is the largest single source of foreign direct investment in Mexico.
Even more important, the United States is the destination of more than 80
percent of Mexico's exports. A slowdown in economic activity and consumer
demand in the United States thus translates directly into a slowdown in
Mexico.

In addition to the sale of most Mexican goods in the U.S. markets, the
United States is a major source of revenue for Mexico though remittances,
and together these sources of income provide around a quarter of Mexico's
gross domestic product (GDP). When Mexican immigrants send money home from
the United States, it makes up a substantial portion of Mexico's external
revenue streams. Remittances to Mexico totaled US$23.9 billion in 2007,
according to the Mexican Central Bank. The slowdown in the U.S. housing
sector has brought remittances down during the course of 2008 from highs in
the middle of 2007. As of the end of September 2008, remittances for the
year were down by US$672.6 million from the same period in 2007.

The decline in remittances is being matched by a slowdown in Mexico's
economy across the board. The Mexican government estimates that Mexico's GDP
will slow from 3.2 percent growth in 2007 to 1.8 percent in 2008. Given that
the U.S. economy is sliding into recession at the same time, this is likely
only the beginning of the Mexican slowdown, and growth is expected to bottom
out at 0.9 percent in 2009.

With growing pressure on the rest of the economy, the prospect of rising
unemployment is perhaps the most daunting challenge. So far, unemployment
and underemployment in Mexico has risen from 9.77 percent in December 2007
to 10.82 percent in October 2008, (some 27 percent of the workforce is
employed in the informal sector). But slowed growth and declining demand in
the United States is sure to cause further declines in employment in Mexico.
As happened in the wake of Mexico's 1982 debt crisis, Mexicans may seek to
return to a certain degree of subsistence farming in order to make it
through the tough times, but that is nowhere near an ideal solution. The
government has proposed a US$3.4 billion infrastructure buildup plan to be
implemented in 2009 that will seek to boost jobs (and demand for industrial
goods) throughout Mexico, although it is not clear how quickly this can take
effect or how many jobs it might create.

Further compounding the employment issue is the possibility of Mexican
immigrants returning from the United States as jobs disappear to the north.
Stratfor sources have already reported a slightly higher-than-normal level
of immigrants returning to Mexico, and although it is too early to plot the
trajectory of this trend, there is little doubt that job opportunities are
evaporating in the United States. As migrants return to Mexico, however,
there are very few jobs waiting for them there, either. This presents the
very real possibility that the available jobs will be in the black markets,
and specifically with the drug cartels. Demand for drugs persists despite
economic downturns, and the business of the cartels continues unabated.
Indeed, for the cartels, the economic downturn could be an excellent
recruitment opportunity.

The turmoil in U.S. financial markets has directly damaged the value of the
Mexican peso and has caused a loss of wealth among Mexican companies.
Mexican businesses have lost billions of dollars (exact figures are not
available at this time) to bad currency bets. Mexican companies in search of
extra financing have had trouble floating corporate paper, which has forced
the government to offer billions of dollars worth of guarantees. The upside
to this is that a weaker currency will increase the attractiveness of
Mexican exports to the United States vis-à-vis China (for a change), which
will boost the export sector to a certain degree.

The fluctuating peso has also forced the Mexican central bank to inject
about US$14.8 billion into currency markets to stabilize the peso.
Nevertheless, the peso has devalued by approximately 22.6 percent since the
beginning of 2008. Partially as a result of the currency devaluation,
inflation appears to be rising slightly. The government has reported a
12-month inflation rate of 6.2 percent, through mid-November. This is
actually fairly low for a developing nation, but it is the highest inflation
has been in Mexico since 2001.

Mexico's financial sector is highly exposed to the international credit
market, with about 80 percent of Mexico's banks owned by foreign companies,
and the banking sector has been unstable in recent months. Foreign capital
has, to a certain degree, fled Mexican investments and banks as capital
worldwide veered away from developing to developed markets, in response to
the global financial crisis. The result is a decline in investments across
the board, and there was a sharp decline in the purchase of Mexican
government bonds. After a four-week fall in bond purchases, the Mexican
government announced a US$1.1 billion bond repurchase package Dec. 2 in an
attempt to increase liquidity in the capital markets and lower interest
rates. Although investors were not responsive, it is an indication that the
government is taking its countercyclical duties seriously.

As the government seeks to counter falling employment and other economic
challenges, it will need to lean heavily on its available resources. The
central bank holds US$83.4 billion in foreign reserves, as of Nov. 28, and
can continue to use the money to implement monetary stabilization. Mexico
also maintains oil stabilization funds that total more than US$7.4 billion,
which provides a small fiscal cushion. The 2009 Mexican federal budget calls
for the first budget deficit in years - amounting to 1.8 percent of GDP -
and has increased spending by 13 percent from the previous year's budget, to
US$231 billion.

Some 40 percent of this budget is reliant on oil revenues generated by
Mexican state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Despite the
fall in oil prices, Mexico has managed to secure its energy income through a
series of hedged oil sales contracts. These contracts will sustain the
budget through the duration of 2009 with prices set from US$70 to US$100 per
barrel. Mexico is a major exporter of oil - ranked the sixth largest
producer and the 10th largest exporter. The energy industry is critical for
the economy, just as it is for the government.

In the long term, however, Mexico's energy industry is crippled. Due to a
history of restrictive energy regulations, oil production is falling
precipitously (primarily at Mexico's gigantic offshore Cantarell oil field),
with government reports indicating that production averaged 2.8 million
barrels per day (bpd) between January and September, which is far from
Mexico's target production of 3 million bpd. Thus, even if Mexico has
secured the price of its oil through 2009, it cannot guarantee its
production levels in the short term, and perhaps not in the long term.

To try to boost the industry's prospects, the Mexican government has passed
an energy reform plan that will allow Pemex to issue contract agreements to
foreign companies for joint exploration and production projects. The
government has also decided to assume some of Pemex's debt in order to ease
the company's access to international credit in light of the tight
international credit market.

These changes could help Mexico pull its oil production rate out of the
doldrums. However, most of Mexico's untapped reserves are located either in
deep complex formations or offshore - environments in which Pemex is at best
a technical laggard - making extraction projects expensive and technically
difficult. With the international investment climate constrained by capital
shortages, foreigners barred from sharing ownership of the oil they produce
and the price of oil falling, it is not yet clear how interested foreign oil
companies will be in such partnerships.

The decline in the energy sector has the potential to produce a sustained
fiscal crisis in the two- to three-year timeframe, even assuming that other
aspects of the economic environment (nearly all of which are beyond Mexico's
control) rectify themselves. The slack in government revenue will have to be
taken up through increased taxes on other industries or on individuals, but
it is not yet clear how such a replacement source of revenue might be
created.

The overall political implications of the financial crisis will be reflected
in a decline in employment and the standard of living of average Mexicans.
In a country where political expression takes the form of paralyzing
protest, the economic downturn could spell near-disaster for the
administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

The Shifting Political Landscape
In power since 2000, the ruling National Action Party (PAN) has enjoyed a
fairly significant level of support for Calderon both within the
legislature - where it lacks a ruling majority - and in the population at
large, particularly given the razor-thin margin with which Calderon won his
office in 2006. The Calderon administration has launched a number of reform
efforts targeting labor, energy and, of course, security.

Although the PAN has maintained an alliance with the Institutional
Revolutionary Party (PRI) for much of Calderon's administration, this is a
unity that that is unlikely to persist, given that both parties have begun
to lay out their campaigns for the 2012 presidential election.

For the ruling party, there are a number of looming challenges on the
political scene. Mexico has seen a massive spike in crime and drug-related
violence coincide with the first eight years of rule by Calderon's PAN after
71 straight years of rule by the PRI. To make things worse, the global
financial crisis has begun to impact Mexico - through no fault of its own -
and the impact on employment could be devastating. Given the confluence of
events, it is almost guaranteed that Calderon and the PAN will suffer
political losses going forward, weakening the party's ability to move
forward with decisive action.

So far, Calderon has been receiving credit for his all-out attack on the
drug cartels, and his approval ratings are near 60 percent. As the economy
weakens and the death toll mounts, however, this positive outlook could
easily falter.

The challenge will not likely come from the PAN's 2006 rival, the
Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD). The PRD gained tremendous media
attention when party leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lost the
presidential election to Calderon and proceeded to stage massive
demonstrations protesting his loss. Since then, the PRD has adopted a
less-radical stance, and the far-left elements of the party have begun to
part ways with the less radical elements. This split within the PRD could
weaken the party as it moves forward.

The weakening of the PRD is auspicious for Mexico's third party, the PRI,
which has been playing a very careful game. The PRI has engaged in
partnerships with the PAN in opposition (for the most part) to the leftist
PRD. In doing so, the PRI has taken a strong role in the formation of
legislation. However, the PRI's prospects for the 2012 presidential election
have begun to improve, with the party's popularity on the rise. As of late
October, the PRI was polling extremely well - at the expense of both the PAN
and the PRD - with a 32.4 percent approval rating, compared to the PAN's
24.5 percent and the PRD's 10.8 percent.

In the short term, the June 2009 legislative elections will be a litmus test
for the political gyrations of Mexico, a warm-up for the 2012 elections and
the next stage of political challenges for Calderon. As the PRI positions
itself in opposition to the PAN - and particularly if the party gains more
seats in the Mexican legislature - it will become increasingly difficult for
the government to reach compromise solutions to looming challenges. Calderon
is somewhat protected by his high approval ratings, which will make overt
moves against him politically questionable for the PRI or the PRD.

Although a great deal could change (and quickly), these dynamics highlight
the potential changes in political orientation for Mexico over the next
three years. In the short term, the political situation remains relatively
secure for Calderon, which is critical for a president who is balancing the
need for substantial economic resuscitation with an ongoing war on domestic
organized crime.

Mexico's most critical challenge is the convergence of events it now faces.
The downturn in the economy, the political dynamics or the deteriorating
security situation, each on its own, might not pose an insurmountable
problem for Mexico. What could prove insurmountable is the confluence of all
three, which appears to be in the making.
23278  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: December 09, 2008, 09:51:03 PM
He aqui la traduccion del Stratfor del post anterior.  !Por favor alguien haz la separacion de parafos!

La parte 1: Una Confluencia Crítica de Acontecimientos el 9 de diciembre de 2008 | 1213 Resumen de GMT México está frente a la tormenta perfecta como la crisis financiera global comienza a impresionar la economía del país y como la campaña del gobierno contra los cárteles de droga parece estar haciendo el país asegura todavía menos. México también encara elecciones legislativas en el año venidero, que implicará mucho manejar para la 2012 carrera presidencial. Las implicaciones políticas de la crisis financiera serán reflejadas en un descenso en el empleo y nivel de vida general. En un país donde expresión política toma la forma de protesta paralizadora, la baja económica podría deletrear cercano-desastre para la administración de Presidente mexicano Felipe Calderon. La Nota de la redacción del análisis: Esto es la primera parte de una serie en México. El Tema Especial relacionado Llama Países En la Crisis Economía Política y la Crisis financiera que Rastrean Cárteles de la Droga de México Relacionados Ligan Países en la Crisis: México México parece ser un país que la venida deshizo. Los cárteles poderosos de la droga utilizan México para el transbordo terrestre de drogas ilícitas — principalmente cocaína, la marihuana y la metanfetamina — De productores en Sudamérica a consumidores en Estados Unidos. La violencia entre competir cárteles han crecido durante los últimos dos años como ellos han luchado sobre el territorio y como el ejército mexicano ha tratado de asegurar las áreas luchadas, principalmente en la periferia del país. Es un combate duro, hecho aún más duro por problemas endémicos, geográficos, institucionales y técnicos en México que hace una victoria del gobierno dura para lograr. El ejército es estirado delgado, los cárteles llegan a ser aún más agresivos y las personas de México se cansan de la violencia. Al mismo tiempo, el país está frente a una baja económica global que ralentizará el crecimiento de México y colocará desafíos adicionales a la estabilidad nacional. Aunque el país parezca estar en una posición fiscal cómoda para el término corto, la vista para la industria de la energía del país es desolado, y un descenso en el empleo podría incitar inquietud social. Las complicaciones también asoman en la esfera política como partidos mexicanos hacen campaña adelante de 2009 elecciones legislativas y manejan para la posición en la preparación para la 2012 elección presidencial. La Confusión económica Como la crisis financiera internacional irrita economías alrededor del mundo, México ha sido golpeado duramente. Salte apretadamente a su el norte de vecino, la economía de México es puesta a encogerse al costado que de Estados Unidos, y ser un enorme desafío para el gobierno mexicano de encarar en el medio de una guerra devastadora con los cárteles de droga. La llave a la comprensión de la economía mexicana es una apreciación de enorme integración de México con Estados Unidos. Cuando un partido al Acuerdo de libre cambio norteamericano y a uno del EEUU más grande que comercia a socios, México es sumamente vulnerable a los caprichos de economía de EEUU. Estados Unidos es la sola fuente más grande de inversión directa extranjera en México. Aún más importante, Estados Unidos es el destino de más que el 80 por ciento de las exportaciones de México. Un retraso en la actividad y la demanda de consumo económicas en Estados Unidos así traduce directamente en un retraso en México. Además de la venta de la mayoría de los bienes mexicanos en mercados de EEUU, Estados Unidos es una fuente mayor de renta para México aunque remesas, y juntos estas fuentes de ingresos proporcionan alrededor de un cuarto del producto interno bruto de México (PIB). Cuándo inmigrantes de mexicano envían dinero en casa de Estados Unidos, hace una porción substancial de corrientes externas de renta de México. Las remesas a México totalizaron los mil millones US$23.9 en 2007, según el Banco Central mexicano. El retraso en el sector de envoltura de EEUU ha bajado remesas durante 2008 de alto en medio de 2007. Al el fin de septiembre 2008, las remesas para el año fueron hacia abajo por US$672.6 millón del mismo período en 2007. El descenso en remesas es emparejado por un retraso en la economía de México general. El gobierno mexicano estima que PIB de México ralentizará del crecimiento del 3,2 por ciento en 2007 1,8 por ciento en 2008. Dado que economía de EEUU desliza en la recesión al mismo tiempo, esto es probable sólo el principio del retraso mexicano, y el crecimiento son esperados profundizar fuera en 0,9 por ciento en 2009. Con presión creciente en el resto de la economía, la perspectiva del desempleo creciente es quizás el desafío más intimidando. Hasta ahora, el desempleo y el subempleo en México han subido del 9,77 por ciento en diciembre 2007 al 10,82 por ciento en octubre 2008, (el unos 27 por ciento de la fuerza de trabajo es empleado en el sector informal). Pero ralentizó el crecimiento y demanda declinante en Estados Unidos están seguro causar descensos adicionales en el empleo en México. Cuando sucedió tras 1982 crisis de deuda de México, mexicanos pueden procurar volver hasta cierto punto de agricultura de subsistencia para hacerlo por los tiempos duros, pero eso está muy lejos de una solución ideal. El gobierno ha propuesto un plan de aumento de infraestructura de mil millones US$3.4 para ser aplicado en 2009 que procurará aumentar trabajos (y la demanda para bienes de producción) a través de México, aunque no sea claro cuán rápidamente esto puede surtir efecto ni cuántos trabajos que lo quizás cree. Aún más componer el asunto de empleo es la posibilidad de inmigrantes mexicanos que vuelven de Estados Unidos como trabajos desaparecen al norte. Las fuentes de Stratfor ya han informado un ligeramente más alto que nivel normal de inmigrantes que vuelven a México, y aunque sea demasiado temprano tramar la trayectoria de esta tendencia, hay duda pequeña que oportunidades de trabajo evaporan en Estados Unidos. Cuando emigrantes vuelven a México, sin embargo, hay muy pocos trabajos que los esperan allí, cualquiera. Esto presenta la posibilidad muy verdadera que los trabajos disponibles estarán en los mercados negros, y específicamente con los cárteles de droga. La demanda para drogas persiste a pesar de bajas económicas, y el negocio de los cárteles continúa constante. Verdaderamente, para los cárteles, la baja económica podría ser una excelente oportunidad de contratación. La confusión en mercados financieros de EEUU ha dañado directamente el valor del peso mexicano y ha causado una pérdida de riqueza entre compañías mexicanas. Los negocios mexicanos han perdido miles de millones de dólares (exige figuras no están disponible en este momento) a apuestas malas de moneda. Las compañías mexicanas en busca del financiamiento de exceso han tenido problema papel corporativo flotante, que ha forzado el gobierno para ofrecer miles de millones de valor de dólares de garantías. La parte superior a esto es que una moneda más débil aumentará la atracción de exportaciones mexicanas a Estados Unidos en relación con China (para un cambio), que aumentará el sector de la exportación hasta cierto punto. El peso que fluctúa también ha forzado el banco central mexicano a inyectar acerca de mil millones US$14.8 en mercados monetarios para estabilizar el peso. No obstante, el peso ha desvalorizado por aproximadamente 22,6 por ciento desde que el principio de 2008. Parcialmente a consecuencia de la devaluación de moneda, la inflación parece estar subiendo ligeramente. El gobierno ha informado una tasa de inflación de 12 meses del 6,2 por ciento, por a mediados de noviembre. Esto es realmente bastante bajo para un país en vías de desarrollo, pero es la inflación más alta ha estado en México desde que 2001. El sector financiero de México es expuesto sumamente al mercado internacional del crédito, con acerca del 80 por ciento de los bancos de México poseídos por compañías extranjeras, y el sector bancario ha sido inestable en los últimos meses. La capital extranjera tiene, hasta cierto punto, inversiones mexicanas huida y deposita como principal en todo el mundo virado lejos de desarrollar a mercados desarrollados, en respuesta a la crisis financiera global. El resultado es un descenso en inversiones generales, y había un descenso agudo en la compra de bonos del estado mexicanos. Después de que una caída de cuatro-semana en compras de bono, el gobierno mexicano anunciara que un mil millones US$1.1 vinculan vuelven a comprar paquete diciembre. 2 en una tentativa para aumentar liquidez en los mercados principales y bajar los tipos de interés. Aunque inversionistas no fueran sensibles, es una indicación que el gobierno toma sus deberes contracíclicos gravemente. Cuando el gobierno procura contradecir empleo que se cae y otros desafíos económicos, necesitarán para inclinarse mucho en sus recursos disponibles. El banco central tiene los mil millones US$83.4 en reservas extranjeras, al noviembre. 28, y puede continuar utilizar el dinero para aplicar estabilización monetaria. México también mantiene fondos de estabilización de petróleo que total más que los mil millones US$7.4, que proporciona un pequeño cojín fiscal. Las 2009 llamadas económicas, federales y mexicanas para el primer déficit presupuestario en años — sumando el 1,8 por ciento de PIB — Y ha aumentado el gasto por el 13 por ciento del presupuesto del año anterior, a EEUU$231 mil millones. El unos 40 por ciento de este presupuesto depende de rentas de petróleo engendradas por compañía petrolera mexicana de estado-poseyó Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). A pesar de la caída en precios del crudo, México ha logrado asegurar sus ingresos de energía por una serie de contratos cubiertos de ventas de petróleo. Estos contratos sostendrán el presupuesto por la duración de 2009 con precios puso de EEUU$70 a EEUU$100 por barril. México es un exportador mayor de petróleo — Situado el sexto productor más grande y el exportador más grande décimo. La industria de la energía es crítica para la economía, así como es para el gobierno. A largo plazo, sin embargo, la industria de la energía de México es paralizada. Debido a una historia de regulaciones restrictivas de energía, la producción de petróleo se cae precipitadamente (principalmente en campo petrolífero offshore gigantesco de Cantarell de México), con informes de gobierno que indican esa producción promedió 2,8 millones de barriles por día (bpd) entre enero y septiembre, que es distantes de la producción del objetivo de México de 3 millones de bpd. Así, incluso si México haya asegurado el precio de su petróleo por 2009, no puede garantizar sus niveles de la producción a corto plazo, y quizás no a largo plazo. Para tratar de aumentar las perspectivas de la industria, el gobierno mexicano ha pasado un plan de reforma de energía que permitirá Pemex para publicar contrato acuerdos a compañías extranjeras para proyectos conjuntos de exploración y producción. El gobierno también ha decidido asumir que algunos de la deuda de Pemex para aliviar el acceso de la compañía crédito internacional a la luz del mercado internacional apretado de crédito. Estos cambios podrían ayudar México saca su tasa de la producción de petróleo del estancamiento. Sin embargo, la mayor parte de reservas sin explotar de México son situadas o en formaciones complejas profundas u offshore — los ambientes en los que Pemex es a lo más un vago técnico — La extracción que hace proyecta caro y técnicamente difícil. Con el clima internacional de inversión forzado por escaseces principales, los extranjeros impidieron de compartir propiedad del petróleo que ellos producen y el precio de caer de petróleo, es todavía no vacía compañías petroleras extranjeras cuán interesadas estarán en tales asociaciones. El descenso en el sector de energía tiene el potencial para producir una crisis fiscal sostenida en el dos- a agenda de tres-año, asumiendo aún que otros aspectos del ambiente económico (casi todos los cuales están más allá del control de México) rectifica a sí mismo. El flojo en la renta del gobierno tendrá que ser tomado por impuestos aumentado en otras industrias o en individuos, pero es todavía no vacía cómo tal fuente de reemplazo de renta quizás sea creada. Las implicaciones políticas generales de la crisis financiera serán reflejadas en un descenso en el empleo y el nivel de vida de mexicanos medios. En un país donde expresión política toma la forma de protesta paralizadora, la baja económica podría deletrear cercano-desastre para la administración de Presidente mexicano Felipe Calderon. El Panorama político que Cambia En el poder desde que 2000, la resolución el Partido Nacional de Acción (CACEROLA) ha disfrutado de un nivel bastante significativo de apoyo para Calderon ambos dentro de la legislatura — dónde falta una mayoría gobernante — Y en la población en grande, especialmente dado el margen delgadísimo con que Calderon ganó su oficina en 2006. La administración de Calderon ha lanzado varios esfuerzos de reforma que concentran en trabajo, la energía y, por supuesto, la seguridad. Aunque la CACEROLA haya mantenido una alianza con el Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) para mucha de la administración de Calderon, esto es una unidad que que es improbable persistir, dado que ambos partidos han comenzado a ordenar sus campañas para la 2012 elección presidencial. Para el partido gobernante, hay varios desafíos inminentes en el panorama político. México ha visto un punta masivo en la violencia de crimen y droga-relacionó coincide con los primeros ocho años de regla por la CACEROLA de Calderon después de 71 años rectos de regla por el PRI. Para hacer cosas peores, la crisis financiera global ha comenzado a impresionar México — por ningún defecto de su propio — Y el impacto en el empleo podría estar devastando. Dada la confluencia de acontecimientos, casi es garantizada que Calderon y la CACEROLA sufrirán pérdidas políticas que avanzan, debilitando la capacidad del partido para adelantarse con acción decisiva. Hasta ahora, Calderon ha estado recibiendo crédito para su ataque supremo en los cárteles de droga, y sus calificaciones de aprobación son el 60 por ciento cercano. Cuando la economía debilita y los montes de número de víctimas, sin embargo, esta vista positiva podría vacilar fácilmente. El desafío hace no probable viene de la CACEROLA 2006 rival, el Partido demócrata Revolucionario (PRD). El PRD ganó atención tremenda de medios cuando líder de partido Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador perdió la elección presidencial a Calderon y continuó para preparar demostraciones masivas que protestan su pérdida. Desde entonces, el PRD ha adoptado una postura menos-radical, y los elementos de la extrema izquierda del partido han empezado a maneras de parte con los elementos menos radicales. Esta separación dentro del PRD podría debilitar el partido como se adelanta. La debilitación del PRD es propicia para los terceros de México, el PRI, que ha estado jugando un juego muy cuidadoso. El PRI ha entrado en asociaciones con la CACEROLA en la oposición (en la mayor parte) al PRD izquierdista. A hacer así, el PRI ha tomado un papel fuerte en la formación de legislación. Sin embargo, las perspectivas del PRI para la 2012 elección presidencial han comenzado a mejorar, con la popularidad del partido en la subida. Al tarde octubre, el PRI sondeaba muy bien — a costa de la CACEROLA y el PRD — Con una calificación de aprobación de 32,4 por ciento, comparado al 24,5 por ciento de la CACEROLA y el 10,8 por ciento del PRD. A corto plazo, el junio 2009 elecciones legislativas serán una prueba de tornasol para las rotaciones políticas de México, un calentamiento para las 2012 elecciones y la próxima etapa de desafíos políticos para Calderon. Cuando el PRI se posiciona en la oposición a la CACEROLA — y especialmente si el partido gana más asientos en la legislatura mexicana — Llegará a ser cada vez más difícil para el gobierno alcance soluciones de compromiso a desafíos inminentes. Calderon es protegido algo por sus calificaciones altas de aprobación, que hará movimientos abiertos contra él políticamente dudoso para el PRI o el PRD. Aunque mucho pueda cambiar (y rápidamente), estas dinámica destaca los cambios potenciales en la orientación política para México en los próximos tres años. A corto plazo, la situación política se queda asegura relativamente para Calderon, que es crítico para un presidente que equilibra la necesidad para la resucitación económica substancial con una guerra progresiva en el crimen organizado doméstico. México la mayoría de los desafíos críticos son la convergencia de acontecimientos ahora encara. La baja en la economía, la dinámica política o la situación de la seguridad que empeoran, cada por sí mismo, no quizás coloque un problema insuperable para México. Qué podría demostrar insuperable es la confluencia de todo tres, que parece ser en construcción.
23279  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Buenas noticias on: December 09, 2008, 09:38:23 PM
!Guau!

Me da mucho gusto anunciar que he encontrado buen software que traduce english-espanol y vice versa-- por lo cual podre' contribuir mucho mas aqui en espanol.   

Cabe mencionar que las traducciones no estan perfectos, digamos que este'n 95%.  Si alguien se las hace un "cut and paste" y luego corregirlas, se lo agradeceria muchisimo.

La Aventura continua!
Crafty Dog
23280  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: December 09, 2008, 09:30:34 PM
I am grateful to have found a program that does a rather good job of translating english-spanish and vice versa for a reasonable price.
23281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Recruitment of Somalis in North America on: December 09, 2008, 01:14:56 PM
No idea yet about this website's reliability:
==============================

Recruitment from...Canada for Islamic terror training continues

Young Muslim men are being recruited from mosques and Islamic Centers in the U.S., Canada for terrorist training. They are beginning to return, some in plastic bags.

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

5 December 2008 The Northeast Intelligence Network confirmed Thursday that there is a nationwide investigation being conducted by the FBI of young men from Somalia being trained as suicide bombers and “low-tech attackers” for use inside the U.S. The investigation began last summer when authorities noticed a trend of Somali immigrants “disappearing” from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. According to initial reports, about four dozen men ranging between the ages of 17 and 35 have “gone missing” within the last several months in the Minneapolis area alone. One federal law enforcement official, speaking on the strict condition of anonymity to the Northeast Intelligence Network, confirmed that this trend is neither exclusive to Minneapolis nor Somalia immigrants, but it was first noticed there. The investigation was further punctuated by the death of suicide bomber and Minnesota resident Shirwa AHMED. AHMED, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was one of five Muslim terrorists who killed 29 people in northern Somalia on October 29.

 

AHMED, pictured at left, was buried this week in Burnsville, a suburban community south of the Minneapolis- St. Paul area. AHMED’s remains were transported back to the U.S. with the help of the FBI after DNA tests established his identity. According to news reports, the FBI is investigating the “disappearance” of young men from Somalia by “ reaching out to the Somali-American community” in search of additional information. The FBI admits that they are looking into the disappearance of 20-40 young Somalia men from Minnesota, but unofficial reports by a federal source close to the Northeast Intelligence Network places that number much higher.

“There is active recruitment from mosques, Islamic centers and over the Internet calling young men from the U.S. and Canada to ‘train for Jihad as their religious duty,’” stated this official. The plan is to have these young men trained in the handling of weapons and explosives, and sending them back to the U.S. and Canada to engage in low-tech attacks against “soft targets,” such as malls, shopping centers, and other crowded locations.

The Northeast Intelligence Network has been warning readers about homicide bombers coming to the U.S. and Canada for years, with expedited recruitment within the past 36 months. We are now beginning to see the evolution of this recruitment and training as it manifests into results, such as the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai. It will not be long before we see it in North America.

http://3w.homelandsecurityus.com/20081205b

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

In a closely related vein, here's this from the local FOX station:

http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/myfox/MyFox/pages/sidebar_video.jsp?contentId=8029360&version=1&locale=EN-US
23282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: December 09, 2008, 01:06:59 PM
What a shocking idea-- I'm shocked, absolutely shocked!
=========
For the RNC, What Kind of 'Conservative'?

The race for the GOP party chairmanship has now jelled. Some 168 members of the Republican National Committee will make their selection from a half-dozen candidates at their meeting in Washington D.C. on January 29.

All of the candidates claim to be conservative, all insist that the party has to compete in states outside its Southern and Western bases, and all agree that the party needs to rediscover its basic principles.

But there are variations in approach.

Mike Duncan, the current RNC chairman, is running a low-key campaign touting his technocratic skills and taking some credit for the party's successes in Georgia and Louisiana runoff elections this month. Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland who is a frequent guest on Fox News, is a little more moderate on social issues than some of the other candidates, saying that Republican Congressional leaders misjudged the mood of the country when they pressed for a federal solution in the case of Terri Schiavo, a comatose woman who was allowed to die in accord with her husband's wishes. Mr. Steele has a good headstart in building support among Republicans who like his direct style and smooth television presence.

Other candidates include: Former Tennessee Republican Chairman Chip Saltsman, who made many contacts this year while managing Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign and is seen as someone in accord with the former Arkansas governor's populist pitch; Saul Anuzis, the chair of the Michigan GOP, who appeals to many Northeastern Republicans who say that the party needs to get away from its over-reliance on support in Southern states; and Katon Dawson, the current chair of the South Carolina party, who says the party can't afford geographic snobbery and is sending out a slick DVD touting his achievements in building a state party.

Last week, a new entrant joined the field. Ken Blackwell, a former state treasurer and secretary of state in Ohio who was his party's gubernatorial candidate in 2006, sent a letter to all RNC members. He calls for returning the party to its Reaganite roots and touts internal reform at the RNC, including "spending smarter, replacing staff and consultants and modernizing our fundraising infrastructure." Mr. Blackwell is the favorite of many movement conservatives, having served on the boards of the National Rifle Association, the National Taxpayers Union and the Club for Growth.

But this will be no conventional election. RNC members are concerned not just with the big picture but also with two very parochial issues: Members want somebody who will keep them personally in the loop on what's happening inside the party, and they also recognize the need for a good manager to keep on top of the sprawling Republican National Committee army of staff members and consultants.

"It's fair to say that the Republican Party has a habit of retaining old consultants and old Beltway players for far too long," one RNC member told me. "We saw the benefit the Obama campaign got by getting some fresh blood for their campaign versus the sluggish response of the retreads around Hillary Clinton. I think the candidate who is most likely to win is the one who will solve the party's 'staff infection.'"

-- John Fund

That Immigration Dog Don't Hunt

National and Louisiana Democrats pulled out all the stops in trying to elect longtime Shreveport District Attorney Paul Carmouche to Congress last Saturday. They touted Mr. Carmouche's anti-crime record and ran ads attacking Republican John Fleming, a physician, for advocating a private alternative to Social Security. Barack Obama taped a radio ad calling on voters to send Mr. Carmouche to Washington so he could back the Obama agenda.

But Democrats also made a blatant attempt to poach conservative votes from Mr. Fleming by attacking him on the immigration issue. Earlier this year, Dr. Fleming spoke in favor of allowing easier entry for foreigners with valid work permits and expressed general support for legal immigration: "We will welcome the positive contributions that they can make to our society. We will encourage them to [pursue] the American dream. And when they become citizens, we will gladly call them our fellow Americans."

Mr. Carmouche claimed Mr. Fleming's position was tantamount to wanting to bring more illegal immigrants into the U.S. "We certainly don't need to bus illegal aliens into the country, to take jobs that belong to Americans," he said in a recent debate. He told voters that on immigration, he was "completely in opposition to my opponent, John Fleming."

Mr. Fleming evenly responded that he supported strict enforcement of border controls, but bravely added that a policy that focused only on enforcement could only go so far. "Just simply deporting [people] is not going to solve the problem," he told voters.

In the end, voters had a clear choice. The final outcome was very close, but in a very anti-Republican year and running a handpicked centrist candidate, Democrats still lost. The lesson appears to be one that more than a few Republican candidates have learned in recent years: While a hard line on immigration may poll well, its concrete political benefits at the ballot box remain elusive.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"We've never seen anything like [Barack Obama's campaign organization] in this country. They have 4 million contributors, but they have several million more people who are on their e-mail lists. That's just a very, very powerful base for grassroots lobbying . . . We probably put too much weight on [having 60 Democratic votes for a filibuster-proof Senate majority] and not enough weight on the fact that a lot of Republicans, I think, either genuinely want to cooperate or are going to be fearful of the political consequences of not cooperating with President Obama in a period like this. So I think you'll see Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and even some more conservative Republicans -- John McCain, for example, on issues like torture and Guantanamo could end up being a real ally of the new president" -- Democratic strategist and former John Kerry campaign manager Bob Shrum, in a Q&A with National Journal's XM Radio show.

Quote of the Day II

"On November 10, in a lengthy telephone call with numerous advisors that included discussion about Blagojevich obtaining a lucrative job with a union-affiliated organization in exchange for appointing a particular Senate Candidate whom he believed was favored by the President-elect and which is described in more detail below, Blagojevich and others discussed various ways Blagojevich could 'monetize' the relationships he has made as governor to make money after leaving that office . . . . Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being 'stuck' as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife’s employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office"-- from a Justice Department press release today announcing the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris on federal corruption charges.

Kozying Up with the Dalai Lama

President Nicolas Sarkozy has been regaining lost ground in the French polls, despite the global financial crisis and France's rising unemployment and personal controveries. Over the weekend, he further bolstered his popularity with a risky but crowd-pleasing move: meeting the Dalai Lama.

Mr. Sarkozy's sit-down on Saturday in Gdansk, Poland was his first meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader, who was in Poland to attend a gathering of Nobel Laureates. China's reaction was the usual fit of pique, which French Minister for Human Rights Rama Yade described as a "psychodrama." Not only did Beijing cancel a trade summit that was supposed to take place in Lyons on December 1. An editorial in the People's Daily denounced Mr. Sarkozy as "stubborn" and called his move "provocative and dangerous." The paper added: "He must pay for it."

"I am free to decide on my agenda as president of the French Republic," Mr. Sarkozy told reporters in response. "I represent values, convictions."

In this case, he also represented Europe's love affair with the Dalai Lama. In April, pro-Tibet protesters attacked the Olympic torch as it relayed through Paris. And last week, in honor of the Dalai Lama's visit, some 30 members of the European Parliament fasted for a day to greet his arrival.

But trade is important too. And more worrisome than the fulminating of the Chinese-language People's Daily may have been Beijing's English-language paper, China Daily, which warned darkly that the spat might hurt the image of such French brands as the Carrefour supermarket chain and Louis Vuitton luxury goods, both of which do good business on the mainland.

Having earned his bouquets for meeting the Dalai Lama, Mr. Sarkozy on Monday quickly tried to limit the damage by dispelling any notion that he was stirring up Tibetan separatism, saying there is "only one China."

-- Leslie Hook



23283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: December 09, 2008, 01:05:41 PM
For the RNC, What Kind of 'Conservative'?

The race for the GOP party chairmanship has now jelled. Some 168 members of the Republican National Committee will make their selection from a half-dozen candidates at their meeting in Washington D.C. on January 29.

All of the candidates claim to be conservative, all insist that the party has to compete in states outside its Southern and Western bases, and all agree that the party needs to rediscover its basic principles.

But there are variations in approach.

Mike Duncan, the current RNC chairman, is running a low-key campaign touting his technocratic skills and taking some credit for the party's successes in Georgia and Louisiana runoff elections this month. Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland who is a frequent guest on Fox News, is a little more moderate on social issues than some of the other candidates, saying that Republican Congressional leaders misjudged the mood of the country when they pressed for a federal solution in the case of Terri Schiavo, a comatose woman who was allowed to die in accord with her husband's wishes. Mr. Steele has a good headstart in building support among Republicans who like his direct style and smooth television presence.

Other candidates include: Former Tennessee Republican Chairman Chip Saltsman, who made many contacts this year while managing Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign and is seen as someone in accord with the former Arkansas governor's populist pitch; Saul Anuzis, the chair of the Michigan GOP, who appeals to many Northeastern Republicans who say that the party needs to get away from its over-reliance on support in Southern states; and Katon Dawson, the current chair of the South Carolina party, who says the party can't afford geographic snobbery and is sending out a slick DVD touting his achievements in building a state party.

Last week, a new entrant joined the field. Ken Blackwell, a former state treasurer and secretary of state in Ohio who was his party's gubernatorial candidate in 2006, sent a letter to all RNC members. He calls for returning the party to its Reaganite roots and touts internal reform at the RNC, including "spending smarter, replacing staff and consultants and modernizing our fundraising infrastructure." Mr. Blackwell is the favorite of many movement conservatives, having served on the boards of the National Rifle Association, the National Taxpayers Union and the Club for Growth.

But this will be no conventional election. RNC members are concerned not just with the big picture but also with two very parochial issues: Members want somebody who will keep them personally in the loop on what's happening inside the party, and they also recognize the need for a good manager to keep on top of the sprawling Republican National Committee army of staff members and consultants.

"It's fair to say that the Republican Party has a habit of retaining old consultants and old Beltway players for far too long," one RNC member told me. "We saw the benefit the Obama campaign got by getting some fresh blood for their campaign versus the sluggish response of the retreads around Hillary Clinton. I think the candidate who is most likely to win is the one who will solve the party's 'staff infection.'"

-- John Fund

That Immigration Dog Don't Hunt

National and Louisiana Democrats pulled out all the stops in trying to elect longtime Shreveport District Attorney Paul Carmouche to Congress last Saturday. They touted Mr. Carmouche's anti-crime record and ran ads attacking Republican John Fleming, a physician, for advocating a private alternative to Social Security. Barack Obama taped a radio ad calling on voters to send Mr. Carmouche to Washington so he could back the Obama agenda.

But Democrats also made a blatant attempt to poach conservative votes from Mr. Fleming by attacking him on the immigration issue. Earlier this year, Dr. Fleming spoke in favor of allowing easier entry for foreigners with valid work permits and expressed general support for legal immigration: "We will welcome the positive contributions that they can make to our society. We will encourage them to [pursue] the American dream. And when they become citizens, we will gladly call them our fellow Americans."

Mr. Carmouche claimed Mr. Fleming's position was tantamount to wanting to bring more illegal immigrants into the U.S. "We certainly don't need to bus illegal aliens into the country, to take jobs that belong to Americans," he said in a recent debate. He told voters that on immigration, he was "completely in opposition to my opponent, John Fleming."

Mr. Fleming evenly responded that he supported strict enforcement of border controls, but bravely added that a policy that focused only on enforcement could only go so far. "Just simply deporting [people] is not going to solve the problem," he told voters.

In the end, voters had a clear choice. The final outcome was very close, but in a very anti-Republican year and running a handpicked centrist candidate, Democrats still lost. The lesson appears to be one that more than a few Republican candidates have learned in recent years: While a hard line on immigration may poll well, its concrete political benefits at the ballot box remain elusive.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"We've never seen anything like [Barack Obama's campaign organization] in this country. They have 4 million contributors, but they have several million more people who are on their e-mail lists. That's just a very, very powerful base for grassroots lobbying . . . We probably put too much weight on [having 60 Democratic votes for a filibuster-proof Senate majority] and not enough weight on the fact that a lot of Republicans, I think, either genuinely want to cooperate or are going to be fearful of the political consequences of not cooperating with President Obama in a period like this. So I think you'll see Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and even some more conservative Republicans -- John McCain, for example, on issues like torture and Guantanamo could end up being a real ally of the new president" -- Democratic strategist and former John Kerry campaign manager Bob Shrum, in a Q&A with National Journal's XM Radio show.

Quote of the Day II

"On November 10, in a lengthy telephone call with numerous advisors that included discussion about Blagojevich obtaining a lucrative job with a union-affiliated organization in exchange for appointing a particular Senate Candidate whom he believed was favored by the President-elect and which is described in more detail below, Blagojevich and others discussed various ways Blagojevich could 'monetize' the relationships he has made as governor to make money after leaving that office . . . . Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being 'stuck' as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife’s employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office"-- from a Justice Department press release today announcing the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris on federal corruption charges.

Kozying Up with the Dalai Lama

President Nicolas Sarkozy has been regaining lost ground in the French polls, despite the global financial crisis and France's rising unemployment and personal controveries. Over the weekend, he further bolstered his popularity with a risky but crowd-pleasing move: meeting the Dalai Lama.

Mr. Sarkozy's sit-down on Saturday in Gdansk, Poland was his first meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader, who was in Poland to attend a gathering of Nobel Laureates. China's reaction was the usual fit of pique, which French Minister for Human Rights Rama Yade described as a "psychodrama." Not only did Beijing cancel a trade summit that was supposed to take place in Lyons on December 1. An editorial in the People's Daily denounced Mr. Sarkozy as "stubborn" and called his move "provocative and dangerous." The paper added: "He must pay for it."

"I am free to decide on my agenda as president of the French Republic," Mr. Sarkozy told reporters in response. "I represent values, convictions."

In this case, he also represented Europe's love affair with the Dalai Lama. In April, pro-Tibet protesters attacked the Olympic torch as it relayed through Paris. And last week, in honor of the Dalai Lama's visit, some 30 members of the European Parliament fasted for a day to greet his arrival.

But trade is important too. And more worrisome than the fulminating of the Chinese-language People's Daily may have been Beijing's English-language paper, China Daily, which warned darkly that the spat might hurt the image of such French brands as the Carrefour supermarket chain and Louis Vuitton luxury goods, both of which do good business on the mainland.

Having earned his bouquets for meeting the Dalai Lama, Mr. Sarkozy on Monday quickly tried to limit the damage by dispelling any notion that he was stirring up Tibetan separatism, saying there is "only one China."

-- Leslie Hook



23284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sowell on: December 09, 2008, 08:53:41 AM
The Meaning of Mumbai
By Thomas Sowell

Will the horrors unleashed by Islamic terrorists in Mumbai cause any second thoughts by those who are so anxious to start weakening the American security systems currently in place, including government interceptions of international phone calls and the holding of terrorists at Guantanamo?

Maybe. But never underestimate partisan blindness in Washington or in the mainstream media where, if the Bush administration did it, then it must be wrong.

 Contrary to some of the more mawkish notions of what a government is supposed to be, its top job is the protection of the people. Nobody on 9/11 would have thought that we would see nothing comparable again in this country for seven long years.

Many people seem to have forgotten how, in the wake of 9/11, every great national event-- the World Series, Christmas, New Year's, the Super Bowl-- was under the shadow of a fear that this was when the terrorists would strike again.

They didn't strike again here, even though they have struck in Spain, Indonesia, England and India, among other places. Does anyone imagine that this was because they didn't want to hit America again?

Could this have had anything to do with all the security precautions that liberals have been complaining about so bitterly, from the interception of international phone calls to forcing information out of captured terrorists?

Too many people refuse to acknowledge that benefits have costs, even if that cost means only having no more secrecy when making international phone calls than you have when sending e-mails, in a world where computer hackers abound. There are people who refuse to give up anything, even to save their own lives.

A very shrewd observer of the deterioration of Western societies, British writer Theodore Dalrymple, said: "This mental flabbiness is decadence, and at the same time a manifestation of the arrogant assumption that nothing can destroy us."

There are growing numbers of things that can destroy us. The Roman Empire lasted a lot longer than the United States has lasted, and yet it too was destroyed.

Millions of lives were blighted for centuries thereafter, because the barbarians who destroyed Rome were incapable of replacing it with anything at all comparable. Neither are those who threaten to destroy the United States today.

The destruction of the United States will not require enough nuclear bombs to annihilate cities and towns across America. After all, the nuclear destruction of just two cities was enough to force Japan to surrender-- and the Japanese had far more willingness to fight and die than most Americans have today.

How many Americans are willing to see New York, Chicago and Los Angeles all disappear in nuclear mushroom clouds, rather than surrender to whatever outrageous demands the terrorists make?

Neither Barack Obama nor those with whom he will be surrounded in Washington show any signs of being serious about forestalling such a terrible choice by taking any action with any realistic chance of preventing a nuclear Iran.

Once suicidal fanatics have nuclear bombs, that is the point of no return. We, our children and our grandchildren will live at the mercy of the merciless, who have a track record of sadism.

There are no concessions we can make that will buy off hate-filled terrorists. What they want-- what they must have for their own self-respect, in a world where they suffer the humiliation of being visibly centuries behind the West in so many ways-- is our being brought down in humiliation, including self-humiliation.

Even killing us will not be enough, just as killing Jews was not enough for the Nazis, who first had to subject them to soul-scarring humiliations and dehumanization in their death camps.

This kind of hatred may not be familiar to most Americans but what happened on 9/11 should give us a clue-- and a warning.

The people who flew those planes into the World Trade Center buildings could not have been bought off by any concessions, not even the hundreds of billions of dollars we are spending in bailout money today.

They want our soul-- and if they are willing to die and we are not, they will get it.

(I'd rather we kill them than we die,  smiley but Sowell has the gist of the right idea )
23285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Odd tidbit on: December 09, 2008, 08:35:01 AM
Second post of the AM:

Michael Yon with an odd little tidbit:

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/sniffer.htm


Here is a rare and curious thing: an antique British WB-17 bomber flying over Afghan skies. These planes flew in the 1950s and 60s, performing top of the atmosphere reconnaissance. The U.S. Air Force retired the WB-17 decades ago.  But NASA owns two, which it uses for an odd group of missions, including collecting cosmic dust from extremely high altitudes.  It seems doubtful that NASA came all the way to Afghanistan to collect cosmic dust, but this would be an interesting region in which to search for traces of nuclear debris, drifting upwards from Iran, Pakistan, various Central Asian states, China, or India.
23286  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stratfor on: December 09, 2008, 07:16:22 AM
Comentarios?  En espanol por supuesto  smiley

Part 1: A Critical Confluence of Events
December 9, 2008 | 1213 GMT
Summary
Mexico is facing the perfect storm as the global financial crisis begins to impact the country’s economy and as the government’s campaign against the drug cartels seems to be making the country even less secure. Mexico also faces legislative elections in the coming year, which will involve much jockeying for the 2012 presidential race. The political implications of the financial crisis will be reflected in a decline in employment and overall standard of living. In a country where political expression takes the form of paralyzing protest, the economic downturn could spell near-disaster for the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Analysis
Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a series on Mexico.

Related Special Topic Pages
Countries In Crisis
Political Economy and the Financial Crisis
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Related Links
Countries in Crisis: Mexico
Mexico appears to be a country coming undone. Powerful drug cartels use Mexico for the overland transshipment of illicit drugs — mainly cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine — from producers in South America to consumers in the United States. Violence between competing cartels has grown over the past two years as they have fought over territory and as the Mexican army has tried to secure the embattled areas, mainly on the country’s periphery. It is a tough fight, made even tougher by endemic geographic, institutional and technical problems in Mexico that make a government victory hard to achieve. The military is stretched thin, the cartels are becoming even more aggressive and the people of Mexico are growing tired of the violence.

At the same time, the country is facing a global economic downturn that will slow Mexico’s growth and pose additional challenges to national stability. Although the country appears to be in a comfortable fiscal position for the short term, the outlook for the country’s energy industry is bleak, and a decline in employment could prompt social unrest. Complications also loom in the political sphere as Mexican parties campaign ahead of 2009 legislative elections and jockey for position in preparation for the 2012 presidential election.

Economic Turmoil
As the international financial crisis roils economies around the world, Mexico has been hit hard. Tightly bound to its northern neighbor, Mexico’s economy is set to shrink alongside that of the United States, and it will be an enormous challenge for the Mexican government to face in the midst of a devastating war with the drug cartels.

The key to understanding the Mexican economy is an appreciation of Mexico’s enormous integration with the United States. As a party to the North American Free Trade Agreement and one of the largest U.S. trading partners, Mexico is highly vulnerable to the vagaries of the U.S. economy. The United States is the largest single source of foreign direct investment in Mexico. Even more important, the United States is the destination of more than 80 percent of Mexico’s exports. A slowdown in economic activity and consumer demand in the United States thus translates directly into a slowdown in Mexico.

In addition to the sale of most Mexican goods in the U.S. markets, the United States is a major source of revenue for Mexico though remittances, and together these sources of income provide around a quarter of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP). When Mexican immigrants send money home from the United States, it makes up a substantial portion of Mexico’s external revenue streams. Remittances to Mexico totaled US$23.9 billion in 2007, according to the Mexican Central Bank. The slowdown in the U.S. housing sector has brought remittances down during the course of 2008 from highs in the middle of 2007. As of the end of September 2008, remittances for the year were down by US$672.6 million from the same period in 2007.

The decline in remittances is being matched by a slowdown in Mexico’s economy across the board. The Mexican government estimates that Mexico’s GDP will slow from 3.2 percent growth in 2007 to 1.8 percent in 2008. Given that the U.S. economy is sliding into recession at the same time, this is likely only the beginning of the Mexican slowdown, and growth is expected to bottom out at 0.9 percent in 2009.

With growing pressure on the rest of the economy, the prospect of rising unemployment is perhaps the most daunting challenge. So far, unemployment and underemployment in Mexico has risen from 9.77 percent in December 2007 to 10.82 percent in October 2008, (some 27 percent of the workforce is employed in the informal sector). But slowed growth and declining demand in the United States is sure to cause further declines in employment in Mexico. As happened in the wake of Mexico’s 1982 debt crisis, Mexicans may seek to return to a certain degree of subsistence farming in order to make it through the tough times, but that is nowhere near an ideal solution. The government has proposed a US$3.4 billion infrastructure buildup plan to be implemented in 2009 that will seek to boost jobs (and demand for industrial goods) throughout Mexico, although it is not clear how quickly this can take effect or how many jobs it might create.

Further compounding the employment issue is the possibility of Mexican immigrants returning from the United States as jobs disappear to the north. Stratfor sources have already reported a slightly higher-than-normal level of immigrants returning to Mexico, and although it is too early to plot the trajectory of this trend, there is little doubt that job opportunities are evaporating in the United States. As migrants return to Mexico, however, there are very few jobs waiting for them there, either. This presents the very real possibility that the available jobs will be in the black markets, and specifically with the drug cartels. Demand for drugs persists despite economic downturns, and the business of the cartels continues unabated. Indeed, for the cartels, the economic downturn could be an excellent recruitment opportunity.

The turmoil in U.S. financial markets has directly damaged the value of the Mexican peso and has caused a loss of wealth among Mexican companies. Mexican businesses have lost billions of dollars (exact figures are not available at this time) to bad currency bets. Mexican companies in search of extra financing have had trouble floating corporate paper, which has forced the government to offer billions of dollars worth of guarantees. The upside to this is that a weaker currency will increase the attractiveness of Mexican exports to the United States vis-à-vis China (for a change), which will boost the export sector to a certain degree.

The fluctuating peso has also forced the Mexican central bank to inject about US$14.8 billion into currency markets to stabilize the peso. Nevertheless, the peso has devalued by approximately 22.6 percent since the beginning of 2008. Partially as a result of the currency devaluation, inflation appears to be rising slightly. The government has reported a 12-month inflation rate of 6.2 percent, through mid-November. This is actually fairly low for a developing nation, but it is the highest inflation has been in Mexico since 2001.

Mexico’s financial sector is highly exposed to the international credit market, with about 80 percent of Mexico’s banks owned by foreign companies, and the banking sector has been unstable in recent months. Foreign capital has, to a certain degree, fled Mexican investments and banks as capital worldwide veered away from developing to developed markets, in response to the global financial crisis. The result is a decline in investments across the board, and there was a sharp decline in the purchase of Mexican government bonds. After a four-week fall in bond purchases, the Mexican government announced a US$1.1 billion bond repurchase package Dec. 2 in an attempt to increase liquidity in the capital markets and lower interest rates. Although investors were not responsive, it is an indication that the government is taking its countercyclical duties seriously.

As the government seeks to counter falling employment and other economic challenges, it will need to lean heavily on its available resources. The central bank holds US$83.4 billion in foreign reserves, as of Nov. 28, and can continue to use the money to implement monetary stabilization. Mexico also maintains oil stabilization funds that total more than US$7.4 billion, which provides a small fiscal cushion. The 2009 Mexican federal budget calls for the first budget deficit in years — amounting to 1.8 percent of GDP — and has increased spending by 13 percent from the previous year’s budget, to US$231 billion.

Some 40 percent of this budget is reliant on oil revenues generated by Mexican state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Despite the fall in oil prices, Mexico has managed to secure its energy income through a series of hedged oil sales contracts. These contracts will sustain the budget through the duration of 2009 with prices set from US$70 to US$100 per barrel. Mexico is a major exporter of oil — ranked the sixth largest producer and the 10th largest exporter. The energy industry is critical for the economy, just as it is for the government.

In the long term, however, Mexico’s energy industry is crippled. Due to a history of restrictive energy regulations, oil production is falling precipitously (primarily at Mexico’s gigantic offshore Cantarell oil field), with government reports indicating that production averaged 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) between January and September, which is far from Mexico’s target production of 3 million bpd. Thus, even if Mexico has secured the price of its oil through 2009, it cannot guarantee its production levels in the short term, and perhaps not in the long term.

To try to boost the industry’s prospects, the Mexican government has passed an energy reform plan that will allow Pemex to issue contract agreements to foreign companies for joint exploration and production projects. The government has also decided to assume some of Pemex’s debt in order to ease the company’s access to international credit in light of the tight international credit market.

These changes could help Mexico pull its oil production rate out of the doldrums. However, most of Mexico’s untapped reserves are located either in deep complex formations or offshore — environments in which Pemex is at best a technical laggard — making extraction projects expensive and technically difficult. With the international investment climate constrained by capital shortages, foreigners barred from sharing ownership of the oil they produce and the price of oil falling, it is not yet clear how interested foreign oil companies will be in such partnerships.

The decline in the energy sector has the potential to produce a sustained fiscal crisis in the two- to three-year timeframe, even assuming that other aspects of the economic environment (nearly all of which are beyond Mexico’s control) rectify themselves. The slack in government revenue will have to be taken up through increased taxes on other industries or on individuals, but it is not yet clear how such a replacement source of revenue might be created.

The overall political implications of the financial crisis will be reflected in a decline in employment and the standard of living of average Mexicans. In a country where political expression takes the form of paralyzing protest, the economic downturn could spell near-disaster for the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

The Shifting Political Landscape
In power since 2000, the ruling National Action Party (PAN) has enjoyed a fairly significant level of support for Calderon both within the legislature — where it lacks a ruling majority — and in the population at large, particularly given the razor-thin margin with which Calderon won his office in 2006. The Calderon administration has launched a number of reform efforts targeting labor, energy and, of course, security.

Although the PAN has maintained an alliance with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for much of Calderon’s administration, this is a unity that that is unlikely to persist, given that both parties have begun to lay out their campaigns for the 2012 presidential election.

For the ruling party, there are a number of looming challenges on the political scene. Mexico has seen a massive spike in crime and drug-related violence coincide with the first eight years of rule by Calderon’s PAN after 71 straight years of rule by the PRI. To make things worse, the global financial crisis has begun to impact Mexico — through no fault of its own — and the impact on employment could be devastating. Given the confluence of events, it is almost guaranteed that Calderon and the PAN will suffer political losses going forward, weakening the party’s ability to move forward with decisive action.

So far, Calderon has been receiving credit for his all-out attack on the drug cartels, and his approval ratings are near 60 percent. As the economy weakens and the death toll mounts, however, this positive outlook could easily falter.

The challenge will not likely come from the PAN’s 2006 rival, the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD). The PRD gained tremendous media attention when party leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lost the presidential election to Calderon and proceeded to stage massive demonstrations protesting his loss. Since then, the PRD has adopted a less-radical stance, and the far-left elements of the party have begun to part ways with the less radical elements. This split within the PRD could weaken the party as it moves forward.

The weakening of the PRD is auspicious for Mexico’s third party, the PRI, which has been playing a very careful game. The PRI has engaged in partnerships with the PAN in opposition (for the most part) to the leftist PRD. In doing so, the PRI has taken a strong role in the formation of legislation. However, the PRI’s prospects for the 2012 presidential election have begun to improve, with the party’s popularity on the rise. As of late October, the PRI was polling extremely well — at the expense of both the PAN and the PRD — with a 32.4 percent approval rating, compared to the PAN’s 24.5 percent and the PRD’s 10.8 percent.

In the short term, the June 2009 legislative elections will be a litmus test for the political gyrations of Mexico, a warm-up for the 2012 elections and the next stage of political challenges for Calderon. As the PRI positions itself in opposition to the PAN — and particularly if the party gains more seats in the Mexican legislature — it will become increasingly difficult for the government to reach compromise solutions to looming challenges. Calderon is somewhat protected by his high approval ratings, which will make overt moves against him politically questionable for the PRI or the PRD.

Although a great deal could change (and quickly), these dynamics highlight the potential changes in political orientation for Mexico over the next three years. In the short term, the political situation remains relatively secure for Calderon, which is critical for a president who is balancing the need for substantial economic resuscitation with an ongoing war on domestic organized crime.

Mexico’s most critical challenge is the convergence of events it now faces. The downturn in the economy, the political dynamics or the deteriorating security situation, each on its own, might not pose an insurmountable problem for Mexico. What could prove insurmountable is the confluence of all three, which appears to be in the making.
23287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on: December 09, 2008, 06:22:23 AM
"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Shelton Gilliam, 19 June 1808
23288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Next Steps on: December 09, 2008, 04:52:13 AM
Next Steps in the Indo-Pakistani Crisis
December 8, 2008
By George Friedman

Militant Attacks In Mumbai and Their Consequences

In an interview published this Sunday in The New York Times, we laid out a potential scenario for the current Indo-Pakistani crisis. We began with an Indian strike on Pakistan, precipitating a withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the Afghan border, resulting in intensified Taliban activity along the border and a deterioration in the U.S. position in Afghanistan, all culminating in an emboldened Iran. The scenario is not unlikely, assuming India chooses to strike.

Our argument that India is likely to strike focused, among other points, on the weakness of the current Indian government and how it is likely to fall under pressure from the opposition and the public if it does not act decisively. An unnamed Turkish diplomat involved in trying to mediate the dispute has argued that saving a government is not a good reason to go to war. That is a good argument, except that in this case, not saving the government is unlikely to prevent a war, either.

If India’s Congress party government were to fall, its replacement would be even more likely to strike at Pakistan. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress’ Hindu nationalist rival, has long charged that Congress is insufficiently aggressive in combating terrorism. The BJP will argue that the Mumbai attack in part resulted from this failing. Therefore, if the Congress government does not strike, and is subsequently forced out or loses India’s upcoming elections, the new government is even more likely to strike.

It is therefore difficult to see a path that avoids Indian retaliation, and thus the emergence of at least a variation on the scenario we laid out. But the problem is not simply political: India must also do something to prevent more Mumbais. This is an issue of Indian national security, and the pressure on India’s government to do something comes from several directions.

Three Indian Views of Pakistan
The question is what an Indian strike against Pakistan, beyond placating domestic public opinion, would achieve. There are three views on this in India.

The first view holds that Pakistani officials aid and abet terrorism — in particular the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), which serves as Pakistan’s main intelligence service. In this view, the terrorist attacks are the work of Pakistani government officials — perhaps not all of the government, but enough officials of sufficient power that the rest of the government cannot block them, and therefore the entire Pakistani government can be held accountable.

The second view holds that terrorist attacks are being carried out by Kashmiri groups that have long been fostered by the ISI but have grown increasingly autonomous since 2002 — and that the Pakistani government has deliberately failed to suppress anti-Indian operations by these groups. In this view, the ISI and related groups are either aware of these activities or willfully ignorant of them, even if ISI is not in direct control. Under this thinking, the ISI and the Pakistanis are responsible by omission, if not by commission.

The third view holds that the Pakistani government is so fragmented and weak that it has essentially lost control of Pakistan to the extent that it cannot suppress these anti-Indian groups. This view says that the army has lost control of the situation to the point where many from within the military-intelligence establishment are running rogue operations, and groups in various parts of the country simply do what they want. If this argument is pushed to its logical conclusion, Pakistan should be regarded as a state on the verge of failure, and an attack by India might precipitate further weakening, freeing radical Islamist groups from what little control there is.

The first two analyses are essentially the same. They posit that Pakistan could stop attacks on India, but chooses not to. The third is the tricky one. It rests on the premise that the Pakistani government (and in this we include the Pakistani army) is placing some restraint on the attackers. Thus, the government’s collapse would make enough difference that India should restrain itself, especially as any Indian attack would so destabilize Pakistan that it would unleash our scenario and worse. In this view, Pakistan’s civilian government has only as much power in these matters as the army is willing to allow.

The argument against attacking Pakistan therefore rests on a very thin layer of analysis. It requires the belief that Pakistan is not responsible for the attacks, that it is nonetheless restraining radical Islamists to some degree, and that an Indian attack would cause even these modest restraints to disappear. Further, it assumes that these restraints, while modest, are substantial enough to make a difference.

There is a debate in India, and in Washington, as to whether this is the case. This is why New Delhi has demanded that Pakistan turn over 20 individuals wanted by India in connection with attacks. The list doesn’t merely include Islamists, but also Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, the former head of the ISI who has long been suspected of close ties with Islamists. (The United States apparently added Gul to the list.) Turning those individuals over would be enormously difficult politically for Pakistan. It would create a direct confrontation between Pakistan’s government and the Pakistani Islamist movement, likely sparking violence in Pakistan. Indeed, turning any Pakistani over to India, regardless of ideology, would create a massive crisis in Pakistan.

The Indian government chose to make this demand precisely because complying with it is enormously difficult for Pakistan. New Delhi is not so much demanding the 20 individuals, but rather that Pakistan take steps that will create conflict in Pakistan. If the Pakistani government is in control of the country, it should be able to weather the storm. If it can’t weather the storm, then the government is not in control of Pakistan. And if it could weather the storm but chooses not to incur the costs, then India can reasonably claim that Pakistan is prepared to export terrorism rather than endure it at home. In either event, the demand reveals things about the Pakistani reality.

The View from Islamabad
Pakistan’s evaluation, of course, is different. Islamabad does not regard itself as failed because it cannot control all radical Islamists or the Taliban. The official explanation is that the Pakistanis are doing the best they can. From the Pakistani point of view, while the Islamists ultimately might represent a threat, the threat to Pakistan and its government that would arise from a direct assault on the Islamists is a great danger not only to Pakistan, but also to the region. It is thus better for all to let the matter rest. The Islamist issue aside, Pakistan sees itself as continuing to govern the country effectively, albeit with substantial social and economic problems (as one might expect). The costs of confronting the Islamists, relative to the benefits, are therefore high.

The Pakistanis see themselves as having several effective counters against an Indian attack. The most important of these is the United States. The very first thing Islamabad said after the Mumbai attack was that a buildup of Indian forces along the Pakistani border would force Pakistan to withdraw 100,000 troops from its Afghan border. Events over the weekend, such as the attack on a NATO convoy, showed the vulnerability of NATO’s supply line across Pakistan to Afghanistan.

The Americans are fighting a difficult holding action against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The United States needs the militant base camps in Pakistan and the militants’ lines of supply cut off, but the Americans lack the force to do this themselves. A withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the Afghan border would pose a direct threat to American forces. Therefore, the Pakistanis expect Washington to intervene on their behalf to prevent an Indian attack. They do not believe a major Indian troop buildup will take place, and if it does, the Pakistanis do not think it will lead to substantial conflict.

There has been some talk of an Indian naval blockade against Pakistan, blocking the approaches to Pakistan’s main port of Karachi. This is an attractive strategy for India, as it plays to New Delhi’s relative naval strength. Again, the Pakistanis do not believe the Indians will do this, given that it would cut off the flow of supplies to American troops in Afghanistan. (Karachi is the main port serving U.S. forces in Afghanistan.) The line of supply in Afghanistan runs through Pakistan, and the Americans, the Pakistanis calculate, do not want anything to threaten that.

From the Pakistani point of view, the only potential military action India could take that would not meet U.S. opposition would be airstrikes. There has been talk that the Indians might launch airstrikes against Islamist training camps and bases in Pakistani-administered Kashmir. In Pakistan’s view, this is not a serious problem. Mounting airstrikes against training camps is harder than it might seem. The only way to achieve anything in such a facility is with area destruction weapons — for instance, using B-52s to drop ordnance over very large areas. The targets are not amenable to strike aircraft, because the payload of such aircraft is too small. It would be tough for the Indians, who don’t have strategic bombers, to hit very much. Numerous camps exist, and the Islamists can afford to lose some. As an attack, it would be more symbolic than effective.

Moreover, if the Indians did kill large numbers of radical Islamists, this would hardly pose a problem to the Pakistani government. It might even solve some of Islamabad’s problems, depending on which analysis you accept. Airstrikes would generate massive support among Pakistanis for their government so long as Islamabad remained defiant of India. Pakistan thus might even welcome Indian airstrikes against Islamist training camps.

Islamabad also views the crisis with India with an eye to the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. Any attack by India that might destabilize the Pakistani government opens at least the possibility of a Pakistani nuclear strike or, in the event of state disintegration, of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of factional elements. If India presses too hard, New Delhi faces the unknown of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal — unless, of course, the Indians are preparing a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Pakistan, something the Pakistanis find unlikely.

All of this, of course, depends upon two unknowns. First, what is the current status of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal? Is it sufficiently reliable for Pakistan to count on? Second, to what extent do the Americans monitor Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities? Ever since the crisis of 2002, when American fears that Pakistani nuclear weapons could fall into al Qaeda’s hands were high, we have assumed that American calm about Pakistan’s nuclear facilities was based on Washington’s having achieved a level of transparency on their status. This might limit Pakistan’s freedom of action with regard to — and hence ability to rely on — its nuclear arsenal.

Notably, much of Pakistan’s analysis of the situation rests on a core assumption — namely, that the United States will choose to limit Indian options, and just as important, that the Indians would listen to Washington. India does not have the same relationship or dependence on the United States as, for example, Israel does. India historically was allied with the Soviet Union; New Delhi moved into a strategic relationship with the United States only in recent years. There is a commonality of interest between India and the United States, but not a dependency. India would not necessarily be blocked from action simply because the Americans didn’t want it to act.

As for the Americans, Pakistan’s assumption that the United States would want to limit India is unclear. Islamabad’s threat to shift 100,000 troops from the Afghan border will not easily be carried out. Pakistan’s logistical capabilities are limited. Moreover, the American objection to Pakistan’s position is that the vast majority of these troops are not engaged in controlling the border anyway, but are actually carefully staying out of the battle. Given that the Americans feel that the Pakistanis are ineffective in controlling the Afghan-Pakistani border, the shift from virtually to utterly ineffective might not constitute a serious deterioration from the United States’ point of view. Indeed, it might open the door for more aggressive operations on — and over — the Afghan-Pakistani border by American forces, perhaps by troops rapidly transferred from Iraq.

The situation of the port of Karachi is more serious, both in the ground and naval scenarios. The United States needs Karachi; it is not in a position to seize the port and the road system out of Karachi. That is a new war the United States can’t fight. At the same time, the United States has been shifting some of its logistical dependency from Pakistan to Central Asia. But this requires a degree of Russian support, which would cost Washington dearly and take time to activate. In short, India’s closing the port of Karachi by blockade, or Pakistan’s doing so as retaliation for Indian action, would hurt the United States badly.

Supply lines aside, Islamabad should not assume that the United States is eager to ensure that the Pakistani state survives. Pakistan also should not assume that the United States is impressed by the absence or presence of Pakistani troops on the Afghan border. Washington has developed severe doubts about Pakistan’s commitment and effectiveness in the Afghan-Pakistani border region, and therefore about Pakistan’s value as an ally.

Pakistan’s strongest card with the United States is the threat to block the port of Karachi. But here, too, there is a counter to Pakistan: If Pakistan closes Karachi to American shipping, either the Indian or American navy also could close it to Pakistani shipping. Karachi is Pakistan’s main export facility, and Pakistan is heavily dependent on it. If Karachi were blocked, particularly while Pakistan is undergoing a massive financial crisis, Pakistan would face disaster. Karachi is thus a double-edged sword. As long as Pakistan keeps it open to the Americans, India probably won’t block it. But should Pakistan ever close the port in response to U.S. action in the Afghan-Pakistani borderland, then Pakistan should not assume that the port will be available for its own use.

India’s Military Challenge
India faces difficulties in all of its military options. Attacks on training camps sound more effective than they are. Concentrating troops on the border is impressive only if India is prepared for a massive land war, and a naval blockade has multiple complications.

India needs a military option that demonstrates will and capability and decisively hurts the Pakistani government, all without drawing India into a nuclear exchange or costly ground war. And its response must rise above the symbolic.

We have no idea what India is thinking, but one obvious option is airstrikes directed not against training camps, but against key government installations in Islamabad. The Indian air force increasingly has been regarded as professional and capable by American pilots at Red Flag exercises in Nevada. India has modern Russian fighter jets and probably has the capability, with some losses, to penetrate deep into Pakistani territory.

India also has acquired radar and electronic warfare equipment from Israel and might have obtained some early precision-guided munitions from Russia and/or Israel. While this capability is nascent, untested and very limited, it is nonetheless likely to exist in some form.

The Indians might opt for a drawn-out diplomatic process under the theory that all military action is either ineffective or excessively risky. If it chooses the military route, New Delhi could opt for a buildup of ground troops and some limited artillery exchanges and tactical ground attacks. It also could choose airstrikes against training facilities. Each of these military options would achieve the goal of some substantial action, but none would threaten fundamental Pakistani interests. The naval blockade has complexities that could not be managed. That leaves, as a possible scenario, a significant escalation by India against targets in Pakistan’s capital.

The Indians have made it clear that the ISI is their enemy. The ISI has a building, and buildings can be destroyed, along with files and personnel. Such an aerial attack also would serve to shock the Pakistanis by representing a serious escalation. And Pakistan might find retaliation difficult, given the relative strength of its air force. India has few good choices for retaliation, and while this option is not a likely one, it is undoubtedly one that has to be considered.

It seems to us that India can avoid attacks on Pakistan only if Islamabad makes political concessions that it would find difficult to make. The cost to Pakistan of these concessions might well be greater than the benefit of avoiding conflict with India. All of India’s options are either ineffective or dangerous, but inactivity is politically and strategically the least satisfactory route for New Delhi. This circumstance is the most dangerous aspect of the current situation. In our opinion, the relative quiet at present should not be confused with the final outcome, unless Pakistan makes surprising concessions
23289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Hidden Travels of the A-Bomb on: December 09, 2008, 04:27:23 AM

By WILLIAM J. BROAD
Published: December 8, 2008
In 1945, after the atomic destruction of two Japanese cities, J. Robert Oppenheimer expressed foreboding about the spread of nuclear arms.

 
“They are not too hard to make,” he told his colleagues on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, N.M. “They will be universal if people wish to make them universal.”

That sensibility, born where the atomic bomb itself was born, grew into a theory of technological inevitability. Because the laws of physics are universal, the theory went, it was just a matter of time before other bright minds and determined states joined the club. A corollary was that trying to stop proliferation was quite difficult if not futile.

But nothing, it seems, could be further from the truth. In the six decades since Oppenheimer’s warning, the nuclear club has grown to only nine members. What accounts for the slow spread? Can anything be done to reduce it further? Is there a chance for an atomic future that is brighter than the one Oppenheimer foresaw?

Two new books by three atomic insiders hold out hope. The authors shatter myths, throw light on the hidden dynamics of nuclear proliferation and suggest new ways to reduce the threat.

Neither book endorses Oppenheimer’s view that bombs are relatively easy to make. Both document national paths to acquiring nuclear weapons that have been rocky and dependent on the willingness of spies and politicians to divulge state secrets.

Thomas C. Reed, a veteran of the Livermore weapons laboratory in California and a former secretary of the Air Force, and Danny B. Stillman, former director of intelligence at Los Alamos, have teamed up in “The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation” to show the importance of moles, scientists with divided loyalties and — most important — the subtle and not so subtle interests of nuclear states.

“Since the birth of the nuclear age,” they write, “no nation has developed a nuclear weapon on its own, although many claim otherwise.”

Among other things, the book details how secretive aid from France and China helped spawn five more nuclear states.

It also names many conflicted scientists, including luminaries like Isidor I. Rabi. The Nobel laureate worked on the Manhattan Project in World War II and later sat on the board of governors of the Weizmann Institute of Science, a birthplace of Israel’s nuclear arms.

Secret cooperation extended to the secluded sites where nations tested their handiwork in thundering blasts. The book says, for instance, that China opened its sprawling desert test site to Pakistan, letting its client test a first bomb there on May 26, 1990.

That alone rewrites atomic history. It casts new light on the reign of Benazir Bhutto as prime minister of Pakistan and helps explain how the country was able to respond so quickly in May 1998 when India conducted five nuclear tests.

“It took only two weeks and three days for the Pakistanis to field and fire a nuclear device of their own,” the book notes.

In another disclosure, the book says China “secretly extended the hospitality of the Lop Nur nuclear test site to the French.”

The authors build their narrative on deep knowledge of the arms and intelligence worlds, including those abroad. Mr. Stillman has toured heavily guarded nuclear sites in China and Russia, and both men have developed close ties with foreign peers.

In their acknowledgments, they thank American cold warriors like Edward Teller as well as two former C.I.A. directors, saying the intelligence experts “guided our searches.”

Robert S. Norris, an atomic historian and author of “Racing for the Bomb,” an account of the Manhattan Project, praised the book for “remarkable disclosures of how nuclear knowledge was shared overtly and covertly with friends and foes.”

The book is technical in places, as when detailing the exotica of nuclear arms. But it reads like a labor of love built on two lifetimes of scientific adventure. It is due out in January from Zenith Press.

Its wide perspective reveals how states quietly shared complex machinery and secrets with one another.

All paths stem from the United States, directly or indirectly. One began with Russian spies that deeply penetrated the Manhattan Project. Stalin was so enamored of the intelligence haul, Mr. Reed and Mr. Stillman note, that his first atom bomb was an exact replica of the weapon the United States had dropped on Nagasaki.

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Moscow freely shared its atomic thefts with Mao Zedong, China’s leader. The book says that Klaus Fuchs, a Soviet spy in the Manhattan Project who was eventually caught and, in 1959, released from jail, did likewise. Upon gaining his freedom, the authors say, Fuchs gave the mastermind of Mao’s weapons program a detailed tutorial on the Nagasaki bomb. A half-decade later, China surprised the world with its first blast.

The book, in a main disclosure, discusses how China in 1982 made a policy decision to flood the developing world with atomic know-how. Its identified clients include Algeria, Pakistan and North Korea.

Alarmingly, the authors say one of China’s bombs was created as an “export design” that nearly “anybody could build.” The blueprint for the simple plan has traveled from Pakistan to Libya and, the authors say, Iran. That path is widely assumed among intelligence officials, but Tehran has repeatedly denied the charge.

The book sees a quiet repercussion of China’s proliferation policy in the Algerian desert. Built in secrecy, the reactor there now makes enough plutonium each year to fuel one atom bomb and is ringed by antiaircraft missiles, the book says.

China’s deck also held a wild card: its aid to Pakistan helped A.Q. Khan, a rogue Pakistani metallurgist who sold nuclear gear on the global black market. The authors compare Dr. Khan to “a used-car dealer” happy to sell his complex machinery to suckers who had no idea how hard it was to make fuel for a bomb.

Why did Beijing spread its atomic knowledge so freely? The authors speculate that it either wanted to strengthen the enemies of China’s enemies (for instance, Pakistan as a counterweight to India) or, more chillingly, to encourage nuclear wars or terror in foreign lands from which Beijing would emerge as the “last man standing.”

A lesser pathway involves France. The book says it drew on Manhattan Project veterans and shared intimate details of its bomb program with Israel, with whom it had substantial commercial ties. By 1959, the book says, dozens of Israeli scientists “were observing and participating in” the French program of weapons design.

The book adds that in early 1960, when France detonated its first bomb, doing so in the Algerian desert, “two nations went nuclear.” And it describes how the United States turned a blind eye to Israel’s own atomic developments. It adds that, in the autumn of 1966, Israel conducted a special, non-nuclear test “2,600 feet under the Negev desert.” The next year it built its first bomb.

Israel, in turn, shared its atomic secrets with South Africa. The book discloses that the two states exchanged some key ingredients for the making of atom bombs: tritium to South Africa, uranium to Israel. And the authors agree with military experts who hold that Israel and South Africa in 1979 jointly detonated a nuclear device in the South Atlantic near Prince Edward Island, more than one thousand miles south of Cape Town. Israel needed the test, it says, to develop a neutron bomb.

The authors charge that South Africa at one point targeted Luanda, the capital of neighboring Angola, “for a nuclear strike if peace talks failed.”

South Africa dismantled six nuclear arms in 1990 but retains much expertise. Today, the authors write, “South African technical mercenaries may be more dangerous than the underemployed scientists of the former Soviet Union” because they have no real home in Africa.

“The Bomb: A New History,” due out in January from Ecco Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, plows similar ground less deeply, but looks more widely at proliferation curbs and diplomacy. It is by Stephen M. Younger, the former head of nuclear arms at Los Alamos and former director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at the Pentagon.

Dr. Younger disparages what he calls myths suggesting that “all the secrets of nuclear weapons design are available on the Internet.” He writes that France, despite secretive aid, struggled initially to make crude bombs — a point he saw with his own eyes during a tour of a secretive French atomic museum that is closed to the public. That trouble, he says, “suggests we should doubt assertions that the information required to make a nuclear weapon is freely available.”

The two books draw on atomic history to suggest a mix of old and new ways to defuse the proliferation threat. Both see past restraints as fraying and the task as increasingly urgent
============

Page 3 of 3)



Mr. Reed and Mr. Stillman see politics — not spies or military ambitions — as the primary force in the development and spread of nuclear arms. States repeatedly stole and leaked secrets because they saw such action as in their geopolitical interest.

Beijing continues to be a major threat, they argue. While urging global responses like better intelligence, better inspections and better safeguarding of nuclear materials, they also see generational change in China as a great hope in plugging the atomic leaks.

“We must continue to support human rights within Chinese society, not just as an American export, but because it is the dream of the Tiananmen Square generation,” they write. “In time those youngsters could well prevail, and the world will be a less contentious place.”

Dr. Younger notes how political restraints and global treaties worked for decades to curb atomic proliferation, as did American assurances to its allies. “It is a tribute to American diplomacy,” he writes, “that so many countries that might otherwise have gone nuclear were convinced to remain under the nuclear umbrella of the United States.”

And he, too, emphasizes the importance of political sticks and carrots to halting and perhaps reversing the spread of nuclear arms. Iran, he says, is not fated to go nuclear.

“Sweden, Switzerland, Argentina and Brazil all flirted with nuclear programs, and all decided to abandon them,” he notes. “Nuclear proliferation is not unidirectional — given the right conditions and incentives, it is possible for a nation to give up its nuclear aspirations.”

The take-home message of both books is quite the reverse of Oppenheimer’s grim forecast. But both caution that the situation has reached a delicate stage — with a second age of nuclear proliferation close at hand — and that missteps now could hurt terribly in the future.

Mr. Reed and Mr. Stillman take their title, “The Nuclear Express,” from a 1940 radio dispatch by Edward R. Murrow , who spoke from London as the clouds of war gathered over Europe. He told of people feeling like the express train of civilization was going out of control.

The authors warn of a similar danger today and suggest that only close attention to the atomic past, as well as determined global action, can avoid “the greatest train wreck” in history.

23290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Too little too late for Pakistan? on: December 09, 2008, 12:12:47 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Too Little, Too Late for Pakistan?
December 8, 2008
Amid growing pressure from both India and the United States, Pakistani security forces began raiding camps and offices belonging to Islamist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in and around Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, on Sunday. The Pakistanis allegedly detained members of LeT and its front organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawah. Islamabad desperately needs a break from the pressure that has been building since the United States — the only potential restraint on Indian retaliation over the Mumbai attacks — issued sharp warnings about the need for the government to clamp down on Islamist radicals operating within its borders.

Pakistan is trying to demonstrate its commitment to cooperation with India. Yet its attempts to control what happens on Pakistani soil appear increasingly feeble.

India, for one, is unlikely to be satisfied by Sunday’s arrests. There is no reason at the moment to believe that the targeted sites hosted a significant number of militants, or that any of those who were apprehended are of any value in ensuring India’s security. It is even possible that the militants who once operated in these locations got out before the raids, rendering the strikes a purely symbolic action.

India anticipated, and to an extent designed, this outcome. New Delhi’s demands following the Mumbai attacks were that Pakistan hand over some 20 individuals whom Indian intelligence agencies had pinpointed as threats to national security. The Indians knew that the Pakistanis — unwilling to suffer the embarrassment and political cost of handing over such high-value targets under pressure — were unlikely to comply. Pakistan’s refusal to turn over the people on India’s most-wanted list gives India better justification in taking matters into its own hands.

In India, the pressure is building — within the government, the opposition and the public — to take decisive military action, commensurate with the threat non-state actors pose to national security. Potential military strategies available to New Delhi range from air strikes to a naval blockade of Pakistan’s most significant port, Karachi. Notably, Indian military officials have canceled events on their calendars — including a high-profile annual military parade to be held on Republic Day in late January, fueling speculation that the armed forces expect to be preoccupied somehow during that time.

Meanwhile, New Delhi is preparing to embark on a campaign of diplomacy that will last through the coming week, hoping to convince the world that the Mumbai attacks can be traced back to Pakistani nationals who received support from rogue elements within the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. The Indians will attempt to establish a firm legal basis for retaliatory strikes against Pakistan, while presenting evidence to the U.N. Security Council and the broader international community.

Nevertheless, India would find it extremely difficult to eradicate the Islamists through military action. The more important question is whether New Delhi can force Pakistan to take care of its own militant problem. If Islamabad can be pushed into mowing down militant groups that thrive on Pakistan’s soil and rooting out the rogue elements of the ISI, then India will be safer and total war will have been averted. But this strategy hinges on whether Pakistan has sufficient control of its interior to stop the militant groups.

The United States depends on the stability of the Pakistani state for similar reasons. Pakistan’s chief playing card is its ability to rein in militants on its side of the border and, crucially, to act as a transport route for equipment and materials needed by U.S. and NATO troops for the campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan. If these lines are cut off or disrupted, counterinsurgency operations are affected.

This brings to mind another news item from South Asia. A Taliban force numbering in the hundreds attacked a NATO facility near Peshawar, Pakistan, on Sunday and destroyed nearly 100 trucks, including Humvees, used to transport equipment for the war effort in Afghanistan. This kind of attack has happened before, and security precautions were said to have been taken, but this particular attack was conducted on a larger scale, and more brazenly, than anything seen so far. It was another telling example of how the situation in Pakistan’s northwest regions has spiraled out of Islamabad’s control, jeopardizing its commitments to Washington.

The security strategies of both India and the United States hinge on Islamabad’s ability to snuff out militant groups. The assumption behind recent U.S. and Indian moves is that, if they apply enough pressure, they can coerce Islamabad into braving the domestic political consequences it will face in cracking down on these groups. But this assumption breaks down if the Pakistani government is not capable of controlling its interior. In that case, New Delhi and Washington each have an entirely new set of complications to deal with.
23291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Restore the Uptick Rule on: December 09, 2008, 12:00:31 AM
By CHARLES R. SCHWAB
The last time the stock market suffered from extreme volatility and risk of market manipulation as severe as we are experiencing today, our grandparents' generation stepped up to the plate and instituted the uptick rule. That was 1938. For nearly 70 years average investors benefited immensely from that one simple stabilizing act.

Unfortunately, in a shortsighted move, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) eliminated the rule in July 2007, just as we were about to need it most. Investors have now been whipsawed by what appears to be manipulative trading, what we used to call "bear raids," which drive stock prices down without warning and at breakneck speed. Average investors feel the deck is stacked against them and are losing confidence in the markets.

For the sake of our children and grandchildren, and to avoid a needless future repeat of a bad situation, it is time to restore the uptick rule.

The uptick rule may seem far from a kitchen-table issue, but it is critically important to ordinary investors. With more than half of all U.S. households invested in the stock market, either directly or through a retirement plan, it matters a great deal. The average 401(k) retirement account has lost 20%-30% of its value over the last 18 months -- more than $2 trillion in retirement savings has been wiped out. Behind those numbers are real people who planned and saved, and who are suddenly facing an uncertain retirement and the prospect of working longer.

In the wake of the Great Depression, the uptick rule was established to eliminate manipulation and boost investor confidence. The rule said that short sales could be made only after the price of a stock had moved up (an "uptick") over the prior sale. This slowed the short selling process making it more expensive and limiting the ability of short sellers to manipulate stocks lower by piling on, driving the share price quickly down and quickly profiting from the downdraft they created. In July 2007, however, the SEC repealed the uptick rule after a brief study. Manipulative short sellers couldn't believe their luck.

The SEC's study took place during a period of low volatility and overall rising stock prices in 2005 through part of 2007 and didn't anticipate the kind of market we are experiencing today. We live in an environment now where 200 point drops or more in the Dow Jones Industrial Average are increasingly common, where a stock losing 20%, 30% or even more of its value in a single day barely warrants a second glance at the ticker. Ironically, it was just this sort of volatility that inspired the regulators of the 1930s to implement the uptick rule in the first place. Without this vital control mechanism, short sellers have been having a field day, betting heavily on lower prices and triggering panicked investors to sell even more.

Don't get me wrong. Legitimate short selling where a trader has borrowed shares for future delivery and believes those shares will lose value over time plays an important and stabilizing role in our markets. It provides a check on overexuberant prices on the upside, and provides natural buyers on the downside. The uptick rule, however, prevents short selling from turning into manipulative activity. Reinstating it will help smooth out the markets and reduce the speed of price drops. It will limit the ability of a small number of professional investors to trigger fast dramatic price drops that create panic among investors.

In today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

The Obama Health-Care ExpressFight Racism, U.N.-StyleLet Ford Save Ford

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Main Street: Now for an Honest Debate on Gitmo
– William McGurnGlobal View: Obama's Team of Conformists
– Bret Stephens

COMMENTARY

Getting Out of the Credit Mess
– Harvey GolubRestore the Uptick Rule, Restore Confidence
– Charles R. SchwabHolding CEOs Accountable
– Jonathan MaceyThe SEC has an opportunity to make a real difference in helping to control future market stability and restore confidence in the fairness of our capital markets. But the SEC has been strangely silent as the crisis has worsened. It did step in earlier this fall to implement short stock borrowing restrictions and a temporary ban on short selling, first on 19 stocks in the financial services sector, and later in a broader swath of 900 stocks across several sectors. But these steps were a temporary half-measure and didn't fix the problem for the long term.

Clearly, the SEC will need to work on some of the mechanics of reinstating the uptick rule. Regulators should act quickly to establish a framework and solicit public comment, then reinstate the rule and remain flexible and willing to fine tune it if necessary.

Ordinary investors' expectations for investing are reasonable. They want a fair playing field. They want to be successful. They want to provide for their families, support their children's education, have a comfortable retirement, and maybe even leave a little bit for future generations. But they can't succeed when the markets are gripped by fear and manipulated by those who want to profit from that fear, at the expense of everyone else.

It may be too late for the restoration of the uptick rule to have much impact on where we are today. But there is no reason to wait and we need the protection in place for the future. It is time to restore it. It's what our grandparents did for us in 1938, and it worked for nearly 70 years. With that kind of track record, we should tip our hats to the regulators of yesteryear and acknowledge that they had it right all along.

Mr. Schwab is the founder and chairman of the financial services firm that bears his name.
23292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Rational debate on Gitmo on: December 08, 2008, 11:59:00 PM
A funny thing happened on the road to Barack Obama's inaugural: America became open to rational debate on Guantanamo.

 
AP
What should we do with people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
Not all that long ago, Guantanamo was simply one more manifestation of the wickedness of George W. Bush. Back then, the operating assumption appeared to be that the only people being held at Guantanamo were innocent goat herders whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result, the focus was on detainee abuse and their lack of rights, as witness an Associated Press headline from last December: "Lawyers complain iguanas at Guantanamo get more legal protection than detainees."

One year later, we now have Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other 9/11 plotters at Gitmo saying they want to plead guilty. And the headlines have begun to concede that closing the detention center will not be as easy as the critics suggested. "Closing detainee camp a minefield of critical steps," notes the Miami Herald. "Closing it may be the easy part; With Guantanamo, the issue for Obama will be deciding what to do with the 250 prisoners, experts say" reports the L.A. Times. "Close Guantanamo prison? Sure. But that's the easy part," says USA Today.

What unites all these stories is the acknowledgment of the basic fact of Guantanamo: The problem is the people, not the place.

As evidence of this new openness, the New York Times recently ran a piece reporting that "even some liberals are arguing that to deal realistically with terrorism, the new administration should seek Congressional authority for preventive detention of terrorism suspects deemed too dangerous to release even if they cannot be successfully prosecuted."

Exactly. The real issue isn't even so much the idea of trying these men in federal courts, which has already been done with Zacarias Moussaoui. The real issues for the president-elect are as follows: Where in America would you put these men? Would you release them on American soil if they are found not guilty? What about those whose home countries will not take them back? And what do you do with the toughest cases: those for whom the evidence is insufficient for a trial, but sufficient to tell us they are far too dangerous to release?

During the campaign, of course, both John McCain and Barack Obama vowed to close Gitmo down. But a President Obama will likely find it easier to do the prudent thing. As a Republican hawk charged by his opponent with representing a third Bush term, Mr. McCain would have been under immense pressure to prove that he wasn't George W. Bush. And a hasty closing of Guantanamo would have been a high-profile way to do it.

Fortunately, Mr. Obama is under no such pressure. For one thing, his opposition to the war gives him better credentials to do the wise thing here. For another, at least during his "honeymoon" period, the press is likely to give him a pass for whatever he comes up with -- even if the substance of what he decides seems to echo his predecessor.

In today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

The Obama Health-Care ExpressFight Racism, U.N.-StyleLet Ford Save Ford

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Main Street: Now for an Honest Debate on Gitmo
– William McGurnGlobal View: Obama's Team of Conformists
– Bret Stephens

COMMENTARY

Getting Out of the Credit Mess
– Harvey GolubRestore the Uptick Rule, Restore Confidence
– Charles R. SchwabHolding CEOs Accountable
– Jonathan MaceyYes, it's a double standard. But it could turn out to be a good thing for the nation. What the American people need today is a sensible policy that recognizes three facts: that terrorists present a unique challenge to our rules of war; that capturing and holding terrorists is different from capturing and holding criminals or prisoners of war; and that the men and women who set up Guantanamo did so not because they were out to shred the Constitution but because, faced with some very imperfect choices, this was thought to be the best way to protect the American people.

It's true that Mr. Obama repeated his pledge to close Guantanamo during his recent "60 Minutes" interview. But he also declined to set a date. No doubt he is now realizing a hard truth. While senators can say what they please and go to sleep untroubled, presidents cannot escape the consequences of their decisions.

Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor who served as assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, hopes we might finally be getting a real debate. Though he has criticized some of the legal reasoning behind the Bush administration's terror policies, he says the animus against President Bush has corrupted our public discourse by making the issue the character of the good men and women trying to protect us rather than the enemy they were trying to stop.

Mr. Goldsmith notes that Mr. Obama is in a position to end the acrimony and strike a prudent way forward. "The single best thing about the election of Obama," he says, "may be that we now have a chance to view the terror threat without the distorting lens of Bush hatred."

Write to MainStreet@wsj.com
23293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The BO Health Care Express on: December 08, 2008, 11:52:13 PM
A charismatic Democratic President takes office promising to extend health insurance to all Americans. His party enjoys majorities in Congress, and the GOP is at sea. The press corps finds policy a bore and instead files stories that draw facile analogies to the heyday of FDR.

 
APYes, all that will be true next year -- but it was also true in January 1993. Fewer than two years later, the grand health-care ambitions of Bill and Hillary Clinton were reduced to tatters. No one is more attuned to this memory than today's Democrats, who aren't about to let history repeat itself. And since the lessons they learned from the HillaryCare fiasco are political, and not substantive, they are already moving full-speed ahead.

This mentality is nicely captured by Tom Daschle, the former Senate Majority Leader who Barack Obama has tapped to run Health and Human Services. "I think that ideological differences and disputes over policy weren't really to blame," he writes of 1994 in his book "Critical," published earlier this year. Despite "a general agreement on basic reform principles," the Clintons botched the political timing by focusing on the budget, trade and other priorities before HillaryCare.

President-elect Obama will not make the same mistake. Congressional Democrats are already deep into the legislative weeds, while Mr. Daschle is organizing the interest groups and a grassroots lobbying effort. Mr. Obama may be gesturing at a more centrist direction in economics and national security, but health care is where he seems bent on pleasing the political left.

According to Mr. Daschle, because of the Clintons' hesitation, "reform opponents succeeded in confusing and even frightening Americans about what change might mean," and this time the Democrats mean to define the debate. Consider the December 2 letter to us from Senator Max Baucus, who is upset that a recent editorial on his health-care plan did not use his favorite terms of art (his style being surrealism). "It will require affordability, but premiums will not be set," he writes. So the government will merely determine "affordability" -- which might as well be the same thing.

Much as Mrs. Clinton insisted that her health bureaucracies were "alliances," Mr. Baucus says his new entitlement "will not be 'managed by the government,' but by an independent council of Presidentially appointed health-care experts." The Senate Finance Chairman wants us to believe that a government commission to determine benefits and subsidies will somehow be above politics.

Shrewder moves are being made to co-opt should-be opponents. The Clintons decided to go to war with "proponents of the status quo," as Mrs. Clinton put it in a bare-knuckled speech in May 1993. This meant vilifying business, especially insurance companies guilty of "unconscionable profiteering" and even drug makers like Merck, which Mr. Clinton had courted during his campaign. This time, Democrats are trying to seduce business with subsidies and other bribes.

They may succeed, which is no surprise given that many corporations would be only too happy to dump their health liabilities on the government. The "Divided We Fail" coalition, which advocates "universal" coverage, includes not only usual suspects like unions and AARP but also the Business Roundtable and the National Federation of Independent Business, the small-business lobby that led the charge against HillaryCare.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group, recently said its members would accept all comers regardless of health status or previous illness -- i.e., guaranteed issue -- but only if the government requires everyone to buy insurance. The individual mandate will expand their business in the short term, but it won't be long before Congress is also regulating premiums, cost-sharing and administrative expenses. Dr. Faustus, call your internist.

In today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

The Obama Health-Care ExpressFight Racism, U.N.-StyleLet Ford Save Ford

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Main Street: Now for an Honest Debate on Gitmo
– William McGurnGlobal View: Obama's Team of Conformists
– Bret Stephens

COMMENTARY

Getting Out of the Credit Mess
– Harvey GolubRestore the Uptick Rule, Restore Confidence
– Charles R. SchwabHolding CEOs Accountable
– Jonathan MaceyAnother opening for Democrats is the new director of the Congressional Budget Office, a post vacated when Peter Orszag joined the Obama Administration. CBO totes up the official cost of legislation and thus is one of those obscure Beltway outfits that frames the political argument. A "score" that is too costly make a bill harder to pass.

In the 1990s, CBO director Robert Reischauer knee-capped HillaryCare by pointing out its true costs and giving little credit to claims it would generate savings. With good reason: Putative cost "offsets" never seem to materialize when Congress tries to plan the insurance markets. Now Democrats will try to install a CBO director who can be more easily rolled.

Most disturbingly, Democrats are talking up "budget reconciliation" to pass a health overhaul. This process was created in 1974 and allows legislation dealing with government finances to be whisked through Congress on a simple majority after 20 hours of debate. In other words, it cuts out the minority by precluding a filibuster. Mr. Daschle writes that reform "is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol," and Mr. Baucus has said he's open to the option.

Any taxpayer commitment this large ought to require a social consensus reflected in large majorities, but Democrats are determined to plow ahead anyway. They know that a health-care entitlement for the middle class will never be removed once it is in place; and that government will then dominate American health-care choices for decades to come. That's all the more reason for the recumbent GOP to get its act together.
23294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 08, 2008, 11:42:30 PM
From a friend currently traning the Iraqi police:

"Almost every Iraqi I have met has said they fear that if the U.S. leaves, then the sectarian strife will be on like Donkeykong.  There was nothing less than wholesale Shia against Sunni neighborhood ethnic cleansing going on in mixed areas of Baghdad back on 2006.  Some of it directly attributable to Iraqi police and army.  Much of it occurring right in front of them because they were the problem.  Militia infested.  Militia connected.  Militia supporting.  Very simply put, Shia versus Sunni.  The bottom line here.  Time will tell."
23295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nordyke: 9th Circuit case on: December 08, 2008, 12:59:39 PM
Nordyke (http://wiki.calgunsfoundation.org/in...ordyke_v._King) has been scheduled for oral arguments on 15 Jan 2009 before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in S.F., CA. Due to Heller, this case should incorporate the 2nd A to the states in the 9th circuit (incl CA and HI). This is a critically important case that, if it goes our way and many in the know believe it will, will be used to shoot down many anti-gun laws in CA and will be used to either loosen up our "May Issue" CCW system or force it to be replaced w/a "Shall Issue" CCW system. The next 5 years should be very exciting and good for CA gunnies!

Hopefully, pro-2nd A people in HI are also organizing to exploit this opportunity.

We expect the opinion to be published probably between April and Aug '09.

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...d.php?t=135918

Be sure to regularly stop by:
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/f...splay.php?f=71
for the latest info on CA gun laws/politics.

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

To give others (incl Gabe), who may think CA is a lost cause, some idea of what we'll be going after Nordyke incorporation, the below is copied from (bold-ing added):
http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s...19#post1726119

Gene Hoffman is one of the alpha-dogs at Calguns.net and Calguns Foundation.

*****

Lots of confusion in this thread.

1. California is pretty unique in that it does not have a right to keep and bear arms in the State constitution. As such, the only thing (other than politicians getting unelected) that keeps California from seizing firearms is the Federal Second Amendment.

2. Heller states that the keeping of all non NFA firearms are protected by the Federal 2A and that bearing arms means to carry them loaded for confrontation, but that States are still free to regulate CCW. Heller made no ruling on whether the Federal 2A applies to the states but hinted that all the rulings that would say it doesn't aren't valid anymore.

3. Nordyke will be a 3-0 or 2-1 victory for the Alameda Gun Show at the 9th Circuit court of appeals. It will establish that there is a right to possess firearms to be able to sell them at otherwise state regulated gun shows on public property that isn't one of the classic prohibited areas (courts, prisons, city hall.) It will also be the first case in the US to find that there is a right of undefined scope to participate in the lawful commerce of firearms under the 2A. However, most importantly, it will rule that all State and local laws will be reviewed by the Federal Courts as potentially violating the 2A at intermediate or strict scrutiny.

After Nordyke, all California laws will be challengeable. Some are quicker and easier to file a new suit against and beat back than others. Here is the list of things that we're going to be able to get overturned in the order I bet we'll choose to attack them:

1. [CCW Reform.] CA Sheriffs denying a clean applicant because their CCW good cause isn't good enough. The logic is that even though states can regulate CCW, they can't make CCW may issue while banning loaded open carry as the combination of laws violates the right of the people to bear arms.

2. Subsequent waiting periods. A 10 day wait to acquire a firearm after one can show that one already owns a firearm has no rational basis. If I'm mad, suicidal, or homicidal, what good does a cooling off period do when I can just use the gun I already own?

3. Not Unsafe Roster. This is a bit harder as we need to let the facts that the new requirements (LCI, Mag Disco) are a defacto ban on new handguns coming into the state.

4. SB-23 Feature Ban. This one is unconstitutional in so many ways but we need to play the politics on it well. The rest of the nation will care deeply about this one as a win here ends all future Federal AWB speculation. I may also have this ranked too low in priority order but some things that are afoot may make overturning this moot in the short term - hence my downgrade.

5. Large-capacity magazine import ban. There are potentially interesting commerce clause issues with "offer for sale" in the export context. However, it's not clear that the rationing ammo argument can survive intermediate scrutiny - especially as we start to push for the "patrol officer" equivalent analysis under 2A/14A. The basic premise is that if a "patrol officer" is issued something by the State, then its very hard for the State to argue that that something is "dangerous and uncommon."

Each one of those is a case or legislation or both to get it fixed. The major difference is that we'll win all of them.

-Gene
==================

If you don't get the "CAl-erts" from CalNRA, you'll want to. http://calnra.com/

Also, if you don't know about www.calccw.com, you'll want to check them out. Most of them are based in OC and are VERY active in reigning in the new sheriff.
==================

Expect defeat at the trial court level, then the case moving the appellate levels for decissions that actually matter.

This is the dog & poly show right now. The Court that matters is in D.C.

http://www.chicagoguncase.com/

In October, shortly after we filed our Rule 16 motion (see Oct. 24 post below), the NRA filed similar motions in their companion case challenging Chicago’s handgun ban, as well as its case challenging Oak Park’s handgun ban. Although our cases do not perfectly overlap, the goal of all three Rule 16 motions in each case was the same: to seek an opinion from the Court that, as a matter of law, state and local governments are bound by the Second Amendment.
On Thursday, the District Court issued an opinion and order in the NRA cases, denying the motions. A similar opinion and order, adopting the Court’s rationale in the NRA cases, was entered in our case. The District Court ruled, essentially, that whatever the merits of our claims, it is bound by existing precedent holding that the Second Amendment does not apply to state and local governments. The order in our case denied not only our Rule 16 motion, but also our previously unresolved motion for summary judgment. A hearing is set in all three cases for December 9, to see where the matters now stand.
Although we would have preferred that the Court had ruled in our favor, we are not disappointed. From Day One, it was clear that this case would be decided conclusively on appeal. This development takes us one step closer toward the elimination of Chicago’s failed and unconstitutional gun ban, and for that, we are grateful.

23296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ on: December 08, 2008, 12:19:12 PM
Let Caroline Run

Is there a divine right for the Kennedy family to hold a U.S. Senate seat, as they have for 54 of the last 56 years? Nepotism on Capitol Hill has become an art form, and there is no better practitioner than Senator Ted Kennedy. Only hours after news of his cancerous brain tumor last spring, the New York Daily News reported that he was telling friends he wanted his wife Vicki to take his Massachusetts seat.

Now the New York Post is reporting that Mr. Kennedy "has been working back channels to promote niece Caroline as the replacement for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate." New York Governor David Paterson has already spoken with Ms. Kennedy about her interest in the job, the paper says, and her uncle has helpfully sent word to the governor that if she were appointed "legislation affecting New York would receive prompt attention."

Two generations after anti-nepotism laws began to open up civil service positions to excluded groups like Jews and blacks, "the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way," says Adam Bellow, author of a book called "In Praise of Nepotism." The National Journal reports that 63 current members of Congress, including at least one-third of U.S. Senators, have relatives who have lobbied or consulted on government relations at the federal or state level in recent years. At least eight former legislators who are now registered as lobbyists were replaced by relatives in their former Congressional seats.

Yet I sense a backlash is brewing. A deep-seated American belief holds that those who gain public office through artificial privilege should be viewed with suspicion. That wariness can certainly be overcome, as the electoral success of political workhorses Senator Evan Bayh and former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida demonstrates, but some brighter lines are certainly in order. Back in 1960, a Scripps-Howard reporter shocked the country and won a Pulitzer Prize with the revelation that one in five members of Congress had relatives on the official payroll. There ought to be some decent restraint on official nepotism, and now is the time to show it. If Caroline Kennedy really wants to represent New York in the Senate, she has the visibility and the connections to raise money and run for the office in her own right.

-- John Fund

Who's Multicultural Now?

Louisiana isn't known as a leading indicator of political diversity even though it has always been a mixture of northern Baptists, New Orleans blacks and Bayou Cajuns. But the state sports a governor whose parents came from India, a Lebanese-American Congressman and now the nation's first Vietnamese-American congressman.

Anh "Joseph" Cao fled South Vietnam as a boy in 1975 when a Communist invasion threw the last remnants of U.S. influence out of the country. He quickly taught himself English and earned degrees in philosophy and physics. In 2000 he became a lawyer specializing in immigration work.

He, like many anti-Communist Vietnamese refugees, also became a Republican. While a half-dozen Democrats fought to challenge indicted Congressman Bill Jefferson in their party's primary, Mr. Cao held back and husbanded his resources. After Mr. Jefferson won a Democratic primary runoff against Hispanic former news anchor Helena Moreno by 57% to 43% last month, Mr. Cao began collecting endorsements from Democrats who were furious at the revelation that Mr. Jefferson had hidden $90,000 in alleged bribe money in his home freezer.

On Election Day, Mr. Cao's campaign flooded local voters with two automated "robo" calls from Ms. Moreno and from respected former New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. Both urged voters to abandon Mr. Jefferson and vote for Mr. Cao, a former law professor who specialized in teaching ethics.

Mr. Cao was aided by low voter turnout on Saturday, but he also managed to win black votes that few Republicans have ever gotten before. "It's no longer an issue of black and white," he explained, noting that his Asian heritage meant he hadn't been part of the old racial rivalries in the city. "It now goes to the issue of who's going to better represent the 2nd District to bring about change, to bring about reform." After his victory, Mr. Cao exulted that "the American Dream is well and alive."

Indeed, the country's 1.5 million Vietnamese Americans are coming into their own politically. Mr. Cao was able to draw on the votes and support of more than 20,000 who live in the New Orleans area. In California's Orange County, Janet Nguyen serves on the Board of Supervisors and much of the area is represented in the State Assembly by Republican Van Tran. Last month, the city of Westminster in Orange County (pop. 90,000) elected its first city council in which a majority of members are Vietnamese-Americans.

Republicans now have Mr. Cao as a national spokesman to carry their message to Asian voters. Two-thirds of Vietnamese Americans indicated they were voting for John McCain over Barack Obama in this year's election, a clear break from the voting pattern of other Asian groups. Democrats acknowledge the historic nature of Mr. Cao's victory, but they also note that he will be hard pressed to keep his seat in a normal turnout election two years from now in a district that went overwhelmingly for Barack Obama.

-- John Fund

The Vietnamese Swing Vote

"The future is Cao." So wrote House Republican Leader John Boehner in a note to his GOP colleagues last night. "The Cao victory is a symbol of what can be achieved when we think big, present a positive alternative, and work aggressively to earn the trust of the American people."

Saturday's victory by Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao in the battle for a New Orleans House seat is also a big opportunity for the Republican Party to visibly reach out to an immigrant group that has traditionally supported the GOP but is in danger of slipping away. When he is sworn in next year, Mr. Cao will become the first Vietnamese American to serve in Congress in history. He will therefore become an ambassador to a community that is small in total numbers but heavily concentrated in a handful of states and capable of tipping the scales in close elections.

Though the largest Vietnamese community can be found in California's Orange County, Virginia is the state with the second largest. And one reason Barack Obama surprised many by carrying that traditional red state was his aggressive outreach to the Vietnamese community. Ironically, Vietnam veteran John McCain never bothered to court what should have been a well-disposed constituency. Two years earlier, another Vietnam vet, Democrat Jim Webb, made a strong play for their support in his Senate race. Mr. Webb, whose wife is Vietnamese American, ended up defeating incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen by a few thousand votes. Had Mr. Allen run more strongly among Vietnamese-American voters, he'd likely be in the Senate today.

After Mr. Cao's victory on Saturday, he was flanked by his wheelchair-bound father who had, as one press report put it, "spent seven years in a North Vietnamese prison camp during that country's civil war." One reason Republicans could long count on Vietnamese-American support was that they didn't call the Vietnam War a "civil war" but a case of communist aggression against a free country. Mr. Cao's victory is now an opportunity for the GOP to reconnect with a Vietnamese community that's likely to grow in electoral importance in the future.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"I was embarrassed . . . ashamed at their treatment. They [the lawmakers] wanted to unload on [the Detroit executives in last week's bailout hearings]. They wanted to grandstand, smack them around. . . . I said to [GM Chief] Rick [Wagoner], 'You're a better man than me.' I would have told the committee, 'Kiss my butt,' and walked out" - mega-auto dealer and Nascar championship team owner Rick Hendrick, on last week's Congressional hearings with the Big Three auto makers.

Baby Al, It's Cold Outside

Al Gore is having a bad decade. So far, 2000-2008 has seen a very slight cooling. According to Climate Research News, "This year is set to be the coolest since 2000."

Even more amazing is that 2009 isn't expected to get any better for Democrats on Capitol Hill who will be pushing cap-and-trade legislation to slow down catastrophic global warming. The Farmer's Almanac predicts another colder than usual year in 2009 with the highest snowfall in years. We will see if the 200-year-old Farmer's Almanac is more reliable than the NASA multi-billion dollar climate forecasting models.

More bad news for the "heat is on" crowd: A new U.S. military report says that "scientific conclusions about the causes and potential effects of global warming are contradictory." The report, titled Joint Operating Environment 2008, states that global warming's impact on rising sea levels, hurricanes and other natural disasters is "controversial." Why? Because, as the report correctly notes, scientists themselves are in disagreement about what a warming planet would mean: "Some argue that there will be more and greater storms and natural disasters, others that there will be fewer."

Environmentalists are quick to respond that a few years of cooling prove nothing, and they are mostly right. But the important point is that the global climate computer models -- which Mr. Gore cites in his Oscar-winning docudrama "An Inconvenient Truth" and which are the sole basis for predictions of dangerous human-caused warming -- have a terrible track record when matched against actual climate experience. Many of the same alarmists who now downplay a year or two (or eight) of cooling once pointed to the seemingly hot years in 2004 and 2005 as proof positive of manmade global warming. Most readers will remember the screaming headlines about the "The Hottest Year Ever." But as we've learned since, the data were actually in error. The hottest years of the past century were in the 1930s, before 90% of the manmade carbon emissions even took place. Talk about inconvenient truths.

The latest cooling data give the alarmists something really to be alarmed about. Precisely because the science is so uncertain, anecdotes have tended to drive public and political perception of climate change. But the anecdotes today are of a planet that has stopped warming and may be cooling, and of climate lobbyists who repeatedly have been forced to back off their most alarming claims about recent temperature trends.

-- Stephen Moore



23297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison on: December 08, 2008, 11:00:13 AM
"There is not a more important and fundamental principle in legislation, than that the ways and means ought always to face the public engagements; that our appropriations should ever go hand in hand with our promises. To say that the United States should be answerable for twenty-five millions of dollars without knowing whether the ways and means can be provided, and without knowing whether those who are to succeed us will think with us on the subject, would be rash and unjustifiable. Sir, in my opinion, it would be hazarding the public faith in a manner contrary to every idea of prudence."

--James Madison, Speech in Congress, 22 April 1790
23298  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Islamo-fascismo en otros partes del mundo on: December 07, 2008, 09:13:32 PM

Lo que paso en Mumbai - Lo que sabemos hasta ahora 



En 2001 Estados Unidos sufrió un ataque terrorista en el World Trade Center. Se ha hecho costumbre llamarla "la tragedia del 11/9, como si hubiera sido un huracán o un terremoto, pero no lo fue. Fue hecho por hombres, hombres malvados. Unos pocos años después, España y el Reino Unido enfrentaron eventos similares. Y ahora La India. No estoy tan instruido en geopolítica como para tratar de trazar un significado estratégico aquí. Lo que si puedo hacer es trazar similitudes operacionales con la esperanza de entender mejor a mi enemigo y entonces ser capaz de derrotarlo. De igual manera, ser capaz de enseñarles a mis alumnos como derrotarlos.

Esto es lo que sabemos hasta ahora:

1- Los atacantes estaban organizados en pares de tiradores, permitiendo disparar a uno mientras el otro se movía y cosas así. El par de tiradores, o "equipo de dos hombres" es un desarrollo táctico de pequeñas unidades muy usado en operaciones SWAT. Para combate urbano muy cercano, donde las áreas tienden a ser compartimentadas, tiene sentido que cada habitación sea "tomada" por dos hombres. No es difícil adquirir las habilidades de un equipo de dos hombres. Por ejemplo, nosotros enseñamos un curso de tácticas en equipo y después de dos días de instrucción, los alumnos ya poseen las habilidades para trabajar en cualquier problema como un equipo bien aceitado. Es obvio que estos terroristas tuvieron una gran exposición a este material.

2- Aunque todavía no sabemos todo, parece que cada equipo de dos hombres opero de manera autónoma en Mumbai. Eso significa que aunque ellos tenían un objetivo general, como alcanzaba cada uno ese objetivo era elegido por cada equipo. Así es que vimos a equipos autónomos de dos hombres, bien entrenados, con practica, cada uno con sus propios objetivos, y aparentemente en contacto unos con otros. Si lo pensas un poco, esto fue un Columbine mas grande, mejor preparado, con múltiples tiradores y mucho mejor preparados.


3- Hasta que aparecieron los de "fuerzas especiales" mas tarde, no parecía que la "policía armada" haya hecho mucho por detenerlos en absoluto. Nunca estuve en La India, pero si el entrenamiento y la paga de su policía local es parecido a lo que vi en varias de las naciones del tercer mundo que he visitado, no creo que los terroristas hayan encontrado mucha resistencia de nadie a cargo. Después de todo, si te dan un viejo Enfield sin munición y 150 dólares por mes para vivir, realmente vas a querer meterte en la boca del león?

4- La india es muy restrictiva en lo concerniente a la posesión de armas por los civiles, y la posibilidad de encontrar a alguien que estuviera armado era mínima. Sin embargo, creo que esto otra vez es indicativo de como un civil armado podría haber parado al menos a uno de los dos hombres del equipo que atacaba. Aquellos que quieran argumentar este punto los hago leer lo que dijo el periodista ingles quien comentada que si hubiera tenido un arma podría haber matado a los dos terroristas que vio (porque nadie mas estaba ni siquiera intentándolo!)

5- Hay evidencia que muchas de las víctimas fueron torturadas y ejecutadas. Esto lo voy a dejar así para que lo absorban bien.

6- Aquí en Estados Unidos, o en cualquier lugar del mundo, si confias en las autoridades para tu protección y seguridad, sos un tonto. Ellos no pueden protegerte. Es verdad que a veces vos no podes protegerte a vos mismo tampoco, pero el punto es que entregando tu derecho (o las herramientas) para la defensa propia porque alguien te dice que te protegerá, es estúpido. Seguimos viendo los resultados de esta mentalidad. Solo vos podes protegerte a vos mismo.

7- Existe evidencia que los terroristas eran "fuertes y en buena forma", y que estaban usando esteroides y otras drogas para pelear mejor. Ahora, no vamos a sugerir aquí que drogarse sea algo bueno para aquellos que tuvieron que pelear contra esos tipos, pero si nos muestra que tu adversario no sera el tipo fácil de golpear que algunos piensan que será. Mira la foto de arriba. ves a un tipo joven, en buen estado con lo que parece ser un AK rumano. Tiene dos cargadores pegados con cinta, igual a como lo hacen los de fuerzas especiales rusas, y su dedo esta fuera del gatillo. Estos tipos eran serios, dedicados e hicieron su deberes.

Estoy seguro que escucharemos mas y mas acerca de los eventos de Mumbai en los meses siguientes. Hemos discutido esto extensivamente en la sección "Fighting Terrorism" de nuestro foro "Warrior talk". Cuando llegue mas info, la iremos pasando.

Gabe Suarez- Traducido por Pablo T.
23299  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / If each of us carried a gun, we could help combat terrorism on: December 07, 2008, 09:04:28 PM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/article5299010.ece

From The Sunday Times

December 7, 2008


Think tank: If each of us carried a gun . . .

. . . we could help to combat terrorism

Richard Munday


div#related-article-links p a, div#related-article-links p a:visited {color:#06c;}The firearms massacres that have periodically caused shock and horror around the world have been dwarfed by the Mumbai shootings, in which a handful of gunmen left some 500 people killed or wounded.
For anybody who still believed in it, the Mumbai shootings exposed the myth of “gun control”. India had some of the strictest firearms laws in the world, going back to the Indian Arms Act of 1878, by which Britain had sought to prevent a recurrence of the Indian Mutiny.
The guns used in last week’s Bombay massacre were all “prohibited weapons” under Indian law, just as they are in Britain. In this country we have seen the irrelevance of such bans (handgun crime, for instance, doubled here within five years of the prohibition of legal pistol ownership), but the largely drug-related nature of most extreme violence here has left most of us with a sheltered awareness of the threat. We have not yet faced a determined and broad-based attack.
The Mumbai massacre also exposed the myth that arming the police force guarantees security. Sebastian D’Souza, a picture editor on the Mumbai Mirror who took some of the dramatic pictures of the assault on the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, was angered to find India’s armed police taking cover and apparently failing to engage the gunmen.
In Britain we might recall the prolonged failure of armed police to contain the Hungerford killer, whose rampage lasted more than four hours, and who in the end shot himself. In Dunblane, too, it was the killer who ended his own life: even at best, police response is almost always belated when gunmen are on the loose. One might think, too, of the McDonald’s massacre in San Ysidro, California, in 1984, where the Swat team waited for their leader (who was held up in a traffic jam) while 21 unarmed diners were murdered.



Rhetoric about standing firm against terrorists aside, in Britain we have no more legal deterrent to prevent an armed assault than did the people of Mumbai, and individually we would be just as helpless as victims. The Mumbai massacre could happen in London tomorrow; but probably it could not have happened to Londoners 100 years ago.
In January 1909 two such anarchists, lately come from an attempt to blow up the president of France, tried to commit a robbery in north London, armed with automatic pistols. Edwardian Londoners, however, shot back – and the anarchists were pursued through the streets by a spontaneous hue-and-cry. The police, who could not find the key to their own gun cupboard, borrowed at least four pistols from passers-by, while other citizens armed with revolvers and shotguns preferred to use their weapons themselves to bring the assailants down.
Today we are probably more shocked at the idea of so many ordinary Londoners carrying guns in the street than we are at the idea of an armed robbery. But the world of Conan Doyle’s Dr Watson, pocketing his revolver before he walked the London streets, was real. The arming of the populace guaranteed rather than disturbed the peace.
That armed England existed within living memory; but it is now so alien to our expectations that it has become a foreign country. Our image of an armed society is conditioned instead by America: or by what we imagine we know about America. It is a skewed image, because (despite the Second Amendment) until recently in much of the US it has been illegal to bear arms outside the home or workplace; and therefore only people willing to defy the law have carried weapons.
In the past two decades the enactment of “right to carry” legislation in the majority of states, and the issue of permits for the carrying of concealed firearms to citizens of good repute, has brought a radical change. Opponents of the right to bear arms predicted that right to carry would cause blood to flow in the streets, but the reverse has been true: violent crime in America has plummeted.
There are exceptions: Virginia Tech, the site of the 2007 massacre of 32 people, was one local “gun-free zone” that forbade the bearing of arms even to those with a licence to carry.
In Britain we are not yet ready to recall the final liberty of the subject listed by William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England as underpinning all others: “The right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence.” We would still not be ready to do so were the Mumbai massacre to happen in London tomorrow.
“Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India,” Mahatma Gandhi said, “history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.” The Mumbai massacre is a bitter postscript to Gandhi’s comment. D’Souza now laments his own helplessness in the face of the killers: “I only wish I had had a gun rather than a camera.”
Richard Munday is the co-author and editor of Guns & Violence: The Debate Before Lord Cullen
23300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Christian and other words removed from Children's dictionary in UK on: December 07, 2008, 04:23:13 PM
Words associated with Christianity and British history taken out of children's dictionary

Words associated with Christianity, the monarchy and British history have been dropped from a leading dictionary for children.

Julie Henry, Education Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:47PM GMT 07 Dec 2008


Oxford University Press has removed words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch" from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity". Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.

The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.

But academics and head teachers said that the changes to the 10,000 word Junior Dictionary could mean that children lose touch with Britain's heritage.

"We have a certain Christian narrative which has given meaning to us over the last 2,000 years. To say it is all relative and replaceable is questionable," said Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment at Buckingham University. "The word selections are a very interesting reflection of the way childhood is going, moving away from our spiritual background and the natural world and towards the world that information technology creates for us."

An analysis of the word choices made by the dictionary lexicographers has revealed that entries from "abbey" to "willow" have been axed. Instead, words such as "MP3 player", "voicemail" and "attachment" have taken their place.

Lisa Saunders, a worried mother who has painstakingly compared entries from the junior dictionaries, aimed at children aged seven or over, dating from 1978, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007, said she was "horrified" by the vast number of words that have been removed, most since 2003.

"The Christian faith still has a strong following," she said. "To eradicate so many words associated with the Christianity will have a big effect on the numerous primary schools who use it."

Ms Saunders realised words were being removed when she was helping her son with his homework and discovered that "moss" and "fern", which were in editions up until 2003, were no longer listed.

"I decide to take a closer look and compare the new version to the other editions," said the mother of four from Co Down, Northern Ireland. "I was completely horrified by the vast number of words which have been removed. We know that language moves on and we can't be fuddy-duddy about it but you don't cull hundreds of important words in order to get in a different set of ICT words."

Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College, a leading private school in Berkshire, said: "I am stunned that words like "saint", "buttercup", "heather" and "sycamore" have all gone and I grieve it.

"I think as well as being descriptive, the Oxford Junior Dictionary, has to be prescriptive too, suggesting not just words that are used but words that should be used. It has a duty to keep these words within usage, not merely pander to an audience. We are looking at the loss of words of great beauty. I would rather have "marzipan" and "mistletoe" then "MP3 player."

Oxford University Press, which produces the junior edition, selects words with the aid of the Children's Corpus, a list of about 50 million words made up of general language, words from children's books and terms related to the school curriculum. Lexicographers consider word frequency when making additions and deletions.

Vineeta Gupta, the head of children's dictionaries at Oxford University Press, said: "We are limited by how big the dictionary can be – little hands must be able to handle it – but we produce 17 children's dictionaries with different selections and numbers of words.

"When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance. That was because many children lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multicultural. People don't go to Church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as "Pentecost" or "Whitsun" would have been in 20 years ago but not now."

She said children's dictionaries were trailed in schools and advice taken from teachers. Many words are added to reflect the age-related school curriculum.
Words taken out:

Carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe

Dwarf, elf, goblin

Abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar

Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade

adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.

Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow

Words put in:

Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export, chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue

Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep, citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate,
EU, drought, brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping, committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable, emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro

Apparatus, food chain, incisor, square number, trapezium, alliteration, colloquial, idiom, curriculum, classify, chronological, block graph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education...ictionary.html
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