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23251  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm): The Running Dog Game on: March 26, 2009, 12:40:48 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZIn2Lv6ZWQ&feature=channel_page
23252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China's bluff on: March 26, 2009, 12:31:59 AM
   
Geopolitical Diary: China's Calculated Currency Rhetoric
March 25, 2009
One of the more popular conventional wisdoms is that the United States is in decline and that it is a simple matter to select options that will edge the United States out of its dominant position in the world. In an editorial published Tuesday, Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan spoke to one of the more popular financial conspiracy theories in this vein when he wrote that the time had come to establish a new scrip to replace the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency. The issue is close to Beijing’s heart: The Chinese reserve fund is a significant holder of U.S. debt, with some $750 billion in U.S. T-bills.

China does not purchase U.S. debt out of choice, but out of a lack of choice. China is a state with serious social stability issues that are mitigated only by state intervention in the economic structure to maintain mass employment. Since there isn’t much internal demand for the goods these employed masses produce — due in part to a high savings rate and low incomes — China must peddle its goods abroad. The U.S. consumer market, with annual sales of approximately $10 trillion, is roughly equivalent in bulk to the next six consumer markets combined. Sales to the United States and other countries hardwired into the American supply chain — which includes the bulk of East Asia — are the only reasonable option. And so the Chinese yuan has a de facto peg to the U.S. dollar.

That is hardly the extent to which the Chinese are bound to the dollar, however. Because China lacks the financial and industrial infrastructure needed to metabolize the massive revenues generated by exports, the income must be stored in some sort of non-Chinese asset. Outstanding U.S. T-bills currently total $11 trillion, which — with the notable exception of Japanese government debt, which very few foreigners even touch — is greater than the next five government debt issues combined, by a ratio of two to one. U.S. debt outsizes combined euro-denominated government debt by more than three to one.

Corporate debt isn’t much of an option either, even though the combined global corporate debt market is sufficiently large to absorb China’s currency reserves. Whenever an investor holds a substantial portion of any company’s debt, market liquidity is constrained and trading dynamics are altered. The solution is a highly diversified — and therefore actively managed — portfolio. But the administrative cost of a trillion-dollar portfolio so diversified that it does not affect the value of any particular asset would be staggering. In contrast, U.S. government debt is a one-stop shop that requires — at most — minimal management.

That China’s income is primarily in either dollars or dollar-linked currencies only strengthens the rationale for pouring surplus income into American assets in general, and U.S. government debt in particular. Plainly put, China cannot put its income anywhere else because there is no other option available. There have been some mild attempts to diversify, but a dearth of options means that “mild” is about as dynamic as a diversification program for China can get.

As to a world beyond the dollar, the issue is that a reserve currency is not decided upon; it creates itself. Two things are needed to create a reserve currency. First, there must be sufficient liquidity to support a global system. That requires a central bank with an enormous amount of autonomy from a state government, and the U.S. Federal Reserve is unparalleled on this count. Not even the European Central Bank can compete. Second, the economy upon which the currency is based must be large enough to withstand fluctuations caused by other economies buying and selling its assets in massive amounts. Again, the United States is the only economy that potentially could qualify.

Part and parcel of any replacement of the U.S. dollar would be a large-scale abandonment of U.S. T-bills as the core of Chinese currency reserves, which — as the conventional wisdom holds — would force intractable economic problems upon the United States. But a closer look reveals that this is not the case. First, selling U.S. T-bills en masse simply is not possible. Every seller requires a buyer, and the volumes at hand cannot be exchanged quickly. Second, starting down that road would cause the value of the securities in question to plummet, destroying the savings the Chinese have been building up for years. The so-called “nuclear option” really is not an option at all.

So why are the Chinese bringing this up in the first place? Beijing clearly has done the math already and knows that this idea — even if it had broad support — is a nonstarter. There are two reasons. First, officials in Beijing know that any direct confrontation — whether military or financial — with the United States would end in disaster for Chinese national interests. Therefore, they want to foster anything they can that would create an international structure to restrain American power; failing that, something that just gets people thinking in that direction will have to do. Second, China is more severely affected by the ongoing financial crisis than it would like the world to register. The Chinese need sustained international demand to maintain their export industries and, consequently, their high employment levels. Espousing rhetoric that makes it appear that you have more options than you do, while redirecting attention toward a foreign power, always plays well at home.

 
23253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 26, 2009, 12:29:55 AM
Thread coherence nazi here.  The last 5 posts (including one by me  embarassed ) belong on Islam vs. Free Speech or the Communicating with Islam threads.
23254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: March 26, 2009, 12:26:59 AM
Obama to redistribute Super Bowl trophies

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

Updated: March 32, 2009

Steelers to loose Super Bowl Trophies

The Super Bowl XLIII Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, the only team to win six titles, will soon be loosing half of those trophies. After a meeting between NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and President Barack Hussain Obama, Obama decided to redistribute half of their Steeler Super Bowl victories and trophies to less fortunate teams in the league.

"We live everyday in the country that invented the Super Bowl." said Obama "We are not about to lose this Great American tradition in the wake of these difficult times." Obama’s plan calls for the Steelers, who are a successful NFL team, to give half of their Super Bowl trophies to teams that are not successful or have not been as successful as the Steelers. "The Detroit Loins are just as much a part of the same fiber of the NFL as the Steelers and they should, no rather will, be entitled to a Super Bowl Trophy as well." Obama explains in his plan that he has imposed on Goodell and the NFL.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who by virtue of hard work, excellent team play, stellar draft choices, responsible investing of free agents, careful hiring of coaches and excellent community service and commitment to their fans, has prospered greatly during the past 30 years and have won six Super Bowl Trophies. But President Barack Hussain Obama’s plan calls for the Pittsburgh Steelers to carry the larger burden of the NFL’s less successful teams. Obama went on to further proclaim, "In these difficult times we are all in this to work together. We must reclaim the NFL Championship Dream for every team, for every city and for every fan."

"My plan will not affect 31 of the 32 teams in the league." Obama assures. That’s over 95 percent of the teams in the NFL will not have to worry about loosing any Super Bowl Trophies. "The worst teams in the NFL and the teams that can’t seem to get a break and win a championship will no longer have to worry about going without a title." Obama promises. "We are a country and league of hope. We all need to make a change. It does not matter the color of the teams uniforms, the personal decisions that the teams make or their performance but rather if they are a member of this great American league."

The Super Bowl XLIII trophy will be redistributed to the 0-16 Detroit Lions. Through no fault of their own incompetence, the Lions could not manage a victory all season and this trophy will help ease the pain of their lack of performance and give them hope once again. The redistribution of Super Bowl XL trophy will go directly to the Steeler’s division rival the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals who also have fallen on hard times have never won a Super Bowl. This victory will bring a smile to hundreds of Bengal fans all over the world as they can now celebrate. Finally, one of the Steeler’s two Super Bowl victories over the Dallas Cowboys will go back to the Cowboys since the league needs to provide hope in the face of difficulty and provide hope in the face of uncertainty. This is a heavy burden for the Steelers but together we can all prosper.

All hope is not lost for Pittsburgh fans, Barack Hussain Obama has another plan in place. Obama has meet with MLB and commissioner Bud Selig on a similar plan. The New York Yankees will redistribute two of their world series trophies to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a supplement to their loosing 16 straight seasons and counting. This plan will help stimulate the Pirates and enable them to regain the American Dream. Barack Hussain Obama will be meeting with the NHL and Michael Phelps in the upcoming weeks as this issue is high on his agenda for "Hope and Change."
23255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 10th Mountain on: March 25, 2009, 06:05:22 PM
McClatchy Newspapers (mcclatchydc.com)
March 23, 2009

U.S. Troops Confront Disciplined, Wily, Mobile Afghan Insurgents

By Philip Smucker, McClatchy Newspapers

ASMAR, Afghanistan — When the young American lieutenant and his 14 soldiers glanced up at the rock face, they thought that the major who'd planned the mission must have been kidding.

Elijah Carlson, a strapping, blue-eyed Southern Californian and a self-proclaimed "gun nut," gripped the crumbling rock, tugged backward by 90-pounds of ammunition and gear. "If we fall back, we are dead!" he whispered to Lt. Jake Kerr, the platoon leader.

In seconds, a rock shot loose beneath one soldier's boot and dropped 20 feet onto another soldier below, sending him tumbling 15 feet to the base and cracking his bulletproof side plate.

What transpired over the next 16 hours was the kind of clash that's led Kerr's commanders in the Army's 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y., to conclude that there's no "victory" waiting around the next bend in Afghanistan, only a relentless struggle with a fleet-footed, clever enemy. For Kerr, a recent West Point graduate who specialized in counterinsurgency, it was the first face-off with an often-elusive opponent and a case study in the complex politics of rural Afghanistan.

Kunar, where Combat Company of the 1st Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division's 32nd Infantry Regiment is stationed, is one of the most violent provinces in Afghanistan. Asmar is just 10 miles from the border with Pakistan's Bajaur Tribal Agency, which has been a sanctuary for al Qaida and Afghan Taliban leaders.

The mission was to disrupt the men and weapons infiltrating from Pakistan and root out their staging bases in Afghanistan. The Americans had hoped first to confer with village elders, but after intelligence indicated that insurgents were in the area, they moved in with heavy machine guns.

Kerr's platoon moved for three hours in the darkness. Each time they thought they'd reached the peak, the land shot up farther. The unit came across enemy fighting positions, piled high with rocks and littered with food wrappers.

Afghan and American intelligence reports said these were "Bakt Ali's men," insurgents who lay claim to nearby villages in central Kunar. Ali is a senior Taliban guerrilla leader in Kunar who's thought to have direct ties to Abu Ikhlas al Masri, an Egyptian al Qaida leader in Pakistan. At each dug-in position, Kerr recorded the GPS coordinates of unmanned enemy positions, down to the 10th digit.

As dawn broke over the rocks, company commander Maj. Andy Knight, of Ann Arbor, Mich., set out on foot in the valley 700 feet below. Kerr would provide support from his eagles' nests as Knight attempted to clear two villages where, he said, residents had complained of insurgent intimidation. Accompanied by a reporter, Knight and a detachment of American and 14 Afghan soldiers stepped carefully along mud dikes, greeting Afghan children and their parents with a cordial "Sengay?" — "How are you?"

What Kerr, from Lake Placid, N.Y., heard from his perch above the valley was a surprise: Unseen men along the valley floor were shouting to one another like an oral tag team, passing the news that "the Americans have arrived."

Within minutes, three men, one in a white shalwar kamis — a loose pajama-like shirt and pants — another in a black one and a third in a brown shawl and gray pants, sprinted down the valley from the west with machine guns toward Knight's patrol, which was walking along a dry, rocky streambed about 1,000 feet away.

Kerr, 25, part of a new generation of American warriors schooled at West Point in the raw lessons of fighting counterinsurgencies in the Islamic world, spotted them instantly.

"They were running at Major Knight with AK-47s," Kerr said after the battle. "We opened up on them, and they began firing. But we had the three men outgunned, and they dove for cover in the streambed."

In the valley, the hiking party splashed through irrigation channels and dove for cover amid tall bushes that lined the stream. The chatter of machine guns fired from both sides echoed off the ridges and stone walls.

Knight, who played tight end on the Army football team, shot past in a blur to the front of the marching party. He didn't yet know that two of the insurgents had been hit. They were pulling themselves on their bellies through the rocks, desperate to reach a bend in the stream.

Within five minutes, two Apache attack helicopters buzzed the valley, scanning for enemy positions and listening to Kerr direct them to the target. "I was shooting tracers down at the two fighters crawling in the stream, and the other man in a brown shawl was shooting back," Kerr said.

Hidden behind a wooden shack, Knight's party could see the two Apaches sweep down, ripping up the stream bed. The insurgents had slipped just out of Kerr's sight, however, back up a bend in the stream and away from Knight's party. When the Apaches unleashed their Hellfire missiles, the men already had vanished.

"Dawg 1,6!" Knight snapped into his radio to Lt. David Poe, 24, of Buffalo, N.Y., a few hundred yards away, as he crouched in the rocks. "Are you near the woman in the green dress, tending to the animals? We are moving towards your location."

Almost all the males in the valley had gone missing, but Afghan women were trying to keep spooked cows and goats from fleeing. As Knight's party climbed into the rocks above the stream and dashed along the mountainside, a woman in a black shawl appeared, waving her arms and wailing, berating U.S. and Afghan forces as they passed. An Afghan soldier shouted back, incorrectly, "Back in your house, lady! They shot first!"

Knight stopped to catch his breath. "Do we have maps of these villages?" he demanded of Lt. Eric Forcey, 23, of Lynchburg, Va., who was at his side.

"No, sir," Forcey replied. "For all intents and purposes, they do not exist."

"I think they've existed for a long time, Forcey; the mapmakers just have not found them," the major replied.

"Yes, sir."

WIth "shhh-thwamps, shhh-thwamps," two more Hellfire missiles crashed into the rocks.

With constant translations of the enemy radio chatter in Pashtu, picked up through electronic eavesdropping, and the major's narration of the battle, events appeared to turn. "I think one of them is badly injured," Knight speculated. "They will have to make a decision to drag him out or leave him."

The U.S. forces, augmented by the 14 Afghans, were deliberate, at times cumbersome. From above, Kerr's men heard radio traffic indicating that the insurgents had slipped into a larger village farther up the ravine.

Enemy radio chatter also indicated that the helicopter strikes were landing just in front of the house from which Bakt Ali's men apparently were talking.

Still, this was a shell game with no certainty about the targets' whereabouts, and Knight — who spent a year in Kunar in 2006 and 2007 — knew it. He refused to order an airstrike on the suspected hideout.

Instead, he took Kerr's plea over the radio that, "We can own this valley, sir!" He ordered two Humvees to rush up the stream bed and take up "support-by-fire" positions in front of a group of wooden houses and dispatched Dawg Company's Poe to oversee a group of Afghan commandos, who'd search the village on foot.

The choppers returned from refueling. Once in the village, the Afghan soldiers went house to house, room by room. A cluster of women and children stood on a rooftop. "This is a virtual ghost town, sir," came Poe's report. An Afghan interpreter sniped: "It almost always ends this way."

Kerr and his men were tired and frustrated. No one had found the fugitives' "blood trails," which he'd hoped to follow.

As his men packed in their heavy weapons and began to pull back down the mountain, the insurgents' radio traffic intensified.

"We could hear them actually counting our numbers, and they were saying that they would hit us. A commander told them to wait until we were grouped." The insurgents apparently wanted to target only the departing forces and to avoid destroying the village.

Kerr's team hiked back down the ridgeline, descended about 1,000 feet into the riverbed, linked up with Knight's fighters in U.S. jeeps and reached for water bottles.

Suddenly, an Afghan interpreter, monitoring radio traffic, heard Bakt Ali's commander order the attack. Kerr dove for cover. The pavement exploded with rocket blasts and fire from massive PK machine guns. Carlson, 23, from Torrance, Calif., dropped to his knees, curling into a fetal position under a dirt ledge with his machine gun trained on the crest of the mountain he'd scaled earlier. One U.S. soldier was hit in the groin as he leapt for cover.

Kerr's platoon's work was about to pay dividends, however.

With a rush of satisfaction, Kerr reached into his pocket and pulled out the GPS coordinates of the enemy positions he'd scribbled down that morning. From six miles away at their base in Asmar, a 10th Mountain artillery battery unleashed a torrent of 105 mm howitzer shells onto the enemy positions. In the twilight, .50-caliber machine guns blazed.

The day was over. No one was going back to hunt for the living or the dead. The insurgents had lost fighters, but they'd proved to be a wily, disciplined and mobile force.

The U.S. and Afghan forces had had a reality check. If they didn't already know it, they now understood why they'd been unable to have a peaceful discussion with the village elders. Bakt Ali's forces owned the villages, and until last Thursday, they more or less controlled the entire ravine. It would take more than better maps for the Afghan army and its U.S. allies to wrest control of them.

Smucker is a McClatchy special correspondent.
23256  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Burger King robber bagged by CCW holder on: March 25, 2009, 04:37:15 PM
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/southflorida/story/966133.html
23257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: March 25, 2009, 04:34:13 PM
Wednesday Chronicle
Vol. 09 No. 12
25 March 2009

THE FOUNDATION
"Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason." --Benjamin Franklin

 
Switching from teleprompter to big-screen TV
THE DEMO-GOGUES
Lies and statistics: "n this budget, we have made the tough choices necessary to cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term -- even under the most pessimistic estimates." --President Barack Obama, who doubled the budget deficit before he could halve it

Says the pot to the kettle: "
  • ne of the things that I'm trying to break is a pattern in Washington where everybody is always looking for somebody else to blame." --Barack Obama

Mentally challenged: "I bowled a 129. ... It's like -- it was like Special Olympics or something." --Barack Obama making fun of the Special Olympics on "The Tonight Show"

Pick socialism: "[W]e need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people." --Barack Obama

Regulatory Commissars: "I think the most important thing that we can do is make sure that we put in a bunch of financial regulatory mechanisms to prevent companies like an AIG holding the rest of us hostage. Because that's â??- that's the real problem." --Barack Obama

This week's "Quid Pro Homo" Award: "At some point, [the Defense of Marriage Act] is going to have to go to the United States Supreme Court. I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has too many votes on this current court." --Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), an open homosexual **Scalia has more than one vote?

Global warmism: "When we talk about drilling, the new thing we have to think about is the Arctic. There is a dangerous irony occurring. We are drilling, burning oil, sending CO2 up into the atmosphere, creating global warming -- and it's melting the Arctic making it possible for people to drill. Now there is this gold rush to start punching oil wells in a place we just desecrated because of global warming. That's one place we have to get a new moratorium where there hasn't been one before, because there has always been ice there before." --Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA)

Vocabulary police: "This Administration prefers to avoid using the term 'Long War' or 'Global War on Terror' [GWOT]. Please use 'Overseas Contingency Operation.'" --email from Dave Riedel of the Office of Security Review

UPRIGHT
"The more the Fed takes on its balance sheet, the more the long-run independence of the central bank is damaged. Monetizing so much government debt is what Third World nations do. Draining the new money from the system will someday be a problem. It may introduce a round of 'beggar-thy-neighbor,' central bank-engineered currency depreciations." --economist Tyler Cowen

"[treasury] Secretary Geithner wants AIG and executives at other companies that receive tax dollars to be paid according to performance. That is a standard most of us would like to see applied to Congress, which enjoys annual pay increases no matter how much incompetence, malfeasance and misfeasance it demonstrates." --columnist Cal Thomas

"This whole AIG fiasco -- where the entire political class is suddenly screaming over bonuses paid to derivative traders in AIG's financial-products division -- is just a complete farce. What it really shows is how the government has completely bungled the AIG takeover. Blame the Bush administration and the Obama administration. It also shows, once again, why the government shouldn't run anything, because it cannot run anything." --economist Lawrence Kudlow

"What do we learn about Obama from the 'Special Olympics' gaffe? We learn, first and foremost, what we already knew: Obama is an elitist with a high school sense of humor." --columnist Ben Shapiro

"This country no longer has any enemy combatants to worry about. There, don't you feel better? Probably not, because you know that, although the new administration has decided to drop the legal designation Enemy Combatants, they're all too real. Only the name is gone." --columnist Paul Greenberg

"[W]hen I think of my children and my grandchild, I'm not worried that they will suffer for lack of money. I worry they'll suffer a much worse fate: lack of freedom. ... We have to fight our way -- not back, but forward -- to a country in which self-dealing politicians control less of our economy and less of our lives." --columnist Paul Jacob

"We can recall that the founders of our country intended the role of government to protect our lives and property, not violate them. And that in times when we have respected that proper use of government, our country has prospered." --columnist Star Parker

INSIGHT
"The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity. The main vice of socialism is the even distribution of misery." --former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." --American physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988)

"When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set." --Chinese writer Lin Yutang (1895-1976)

EDITORIAL EXEGESIS
"There should be no hurdles to restoring freedom. But when Congress attempts to restrict it, the hurdle should be high, if not impossible to clear. It's chilling to watch as men with authority and influence prefer to instead crash their way through. The power to tax is the power to destroy, as is the power to regulate and limit choices. These powers should be wielded judiciously, and only within a system that safeguards against excess and demands accountability. The overly ambitious and unelected can't be allowed to govern by walking over the governed." --Investor's Business Daily

DEZINFORMATSIA
Wipe the drool off your chin: "Whether it's creating commissions for women and girls, ordering the investigation of President Bush's use of signing statements, or jamming a huge stimulus package through Congress, the man is working his tail off. And he seems to be loving every minute of it. It's almost as though our president was born to do exactly what he's doing. He's leading, and boy, is that refreshing." --CNN's Jack Cafferty

 
Bringing dignity to his office?
Obamamania: "When I heard [Obama] was going to [be on "The Tonight Show"] I thought, should a president really do that? Then I actually stayed up and watched it and he calmed me down. I've really been getting pretty upset in the last week, just like every other American I think. And he calmed me down. And he was presidential. I thought it was just a masterful performance." --NPR's Nina Totenberg

Covering the president: "Nothing goes unescaped when it comes to the president. He did talk about the Special Olympics. Some people took that as an offensive remark. However, this morning on a radio show, the director of the Special Olympics for the state of Illinois, a man by the name of Doug Snyder, talked about that, and he thinks he knows where all this came from, because he remembers a couple years back introducing the president to a little girl named Caitlyn, who showed the president how to bowl, and did a darn better job of doing it at the time than the president was able to do it. He thinks Caitlyn is actually perhaps the inspiration for the president deciding to be a bit better as a bowler." --MSNBC's Alex Witt covering for Obama's tasteless "Special Olympics" comment on the "Tonight Show"

Getting it right: "Obama is on track to accomplish exactly what he promised to change during the campaign, creating a massive burden for the next generation to fund politically popular policies in the short term." --Time magazine writer Michael Scherer

Newspulper Headlines:

Now He Tells Us!: "Obama Asks Americans Not to Expect Too Much From Him" --Associated Press

What an Insensitive Headline: "Chinks Exposed in Obama's Taliban Plan" --Asia Times

No One Knows for Sure: "Guess Profit Falls 13 Percent" --Los Angeles Business Journal

Drinking and Driving Don't Mix: "Wild Turkey Sends Maine Motorcyclist to Hospital" --Associated Press

News You Can Use: "Scientists: We're Doomed. Or Are We?" --Greenpeace UK Web site

Bottom Stories of the Day: "Animal Rights, Circus Lawyers Differ on Elephants" --Associated Press ++ "Gore to Revisit Climate Crisis in New Book" --New York Times Web site

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

VILLAGE IDIOTS
Name that standard: "The desirable goal of reforming the international monetary system, therefore, is to create an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies." --Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China **Didn't that used to be called "gold"?

Village Academic Curriculum: "If you make it a practice of killing other people's babies for personal gain ... eventually they're going to give you a taste of the same thing." --former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who once called the victims of 9/11 "little Eichmanns" after one of the architects of the Holocaust, testifying in his lawsuit seeking to get his job back

Non Compos Mentis: "Barack Obama is the first Hispanic president the same way Bill Clinton was the first black [president]." --Geraldo Rivera discussing immigration

Say what?: "The kids love to say SheetzuCacaPoopoo. Well, that was the key. But, the book is really about Barack Obama. Okay? Let me explain. ... The dog -- Max is in trouble. They send him to obedience school, okay? When he's in obedience school is when he becomes Barack. He becomes a community organizer. And he organizes the big dogs around the little dogs. 'Cause at first, the big dogs, also known as the Republicans, don't like him. See? And so, he finds ways, pragmatically, to help the big dogs. ... They can reach itches for them. They can go underneath to get to spots. They can scare the cats away. And so, he becomes popular. And everybody loves each other. ... It's all about pragmatism and change, and trying to find a solution in your situation, which is Barack Obama." --Joy Behar of "The View" promoting her new children's book **Well, SheetzuCacaPoopoo IS the perfect name...


 

SHORT CUTS
"[Obama] might be 'a fairly sensitive and compassionate man.' Alternatively, he could be a mean, self-absorbed S.O.B. who regards anyone other than himself as intellectually disabled. The truth is we don't know, because in the course of the presidential campaign the press declined to do even the most elementary due diligence on him. And, like Congress with the stimulus, the electorate didn't bother to find out what's in there before they voted for it." --columnist Mark Steyn

"One of the things that concerns me about Obama's presidency is that every time he opens his yap, he sounds so darn naive. Just recently, he spoke about reaching out to moderates in the ranks of the Taliban. A moderate in that society is a cretin who wants to murder Christians, Jews and any woman who refuses to wrap herself in a bed sheet before leaving the house, but who draws the line at beheading his victims for Al-Jazeera's TV cameras." --columnist Burt Prelutsky

"I can't believe we've decided to do battle with al-Qaida by vernacular-ing them to death." --comedian Dennis Miller

"The New York Times reported Sunday that President Obama is planning to regulate salaries paid by every company in the financial services industry. Already he's insulted Britain and Special Olympians while making nice to Iran and North Korea. One more week of this and everybody's going to be searching for the birth certificate." --comedian Argus Hamilton

Jay Leno:

People made a big deal out of the fact this is the first time a sitting president has done a late-night show. We tried to have other presidents on, but President Bush went to bed every night at 9:00. And President Clinton always seemed to have other late-night plans.

More problems for AIG: It turns out that the bonus money was actually $218 million, not $165 million as originally reported. AIG says they misplaced $53 million in bonus money. Today Sen. Chris Dodd said, "You mean that wasn't a campaign contribution?"

Senator Chris Dodd -- or 'Chris Dodge,' as they're calling him now -- after first denying it, now admits he's the one who eliminated the provision in the stimulus package that outlawed excessive bonuses. And coincidentally, he just happened to receive $280,000 from AIG in campaign contributions. What are the odds of that?

Congress is now investigating the special treatment that "Senator Dodge" ... received from Countrywide Mortgage for a couple of mortgages. Senator Dodd has contended he didn't know he was getting special rates on the mortgages. And, really, to be fair, how would the Senate chairman of the banking committee have any idea what the normal lending rate would be?
23258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Brit MP rips PM Brown a new one on: March 25, 2009, 04:30:09 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94lW6Y4tBXs
23259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 25, 2009, 04:10:23 PM
THAT is the key question!!!
23260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Missing Somalis return on: March 24, 2009, 11:59:40 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,509839,00.html

Source: 'Several' Missing Somali-Americans Back in U.S. After Overseas Terror Mission

Thursday , March 19, 2009
By Mike Levine


Many of the Somali-American men who were recruited to join an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group overseas have returned to the United States, according to a source familiar with an FBI investigation into the matter — but the FBI still has not revealed publicly if it is pursuing arrests in the case.
"Some of the guys who were missing aren't missing anymore," the source said. "Some of them got blown up and some of them came back, and some of them are still there [in Somalia]."
For several months the FBI has been investigating at least 20 Somali-American men from the Minneapolis area who traveled to war-torn Somalia, where some of them trained and fought with an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group known as al-Shabaab, according to counterterrorism officials.
Asked to characterize how many of those men are now back on American soil, the source would only say that "several" have returned. Federal authorities believe the men went to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, which has been warring with the moderate Somali government since 2006.
Usama bin Laden weighed in Thursday on the battle. In an audiotape posted online, the Al Qaeda leader urged Somalis to fight against the Somali government, insisting, "The war which has been taking place on your soil these past years is a war between Islam and the international crusade."
At a Senate hearing in Washington last week, counterterrorism officials said there is no intelligence to indicate that Somali-Americans who traveled to Somalia are planning attacks inside the United States.
“We do not have a credible body of reporting right now to lead us to believe that these American recruits are being trained and instructed to come back to the United States for terrorist attacks,” said Philip Mudd, a top-ranking official with the FBI’s National Security Branch. “Yet, obviously, we remain concerned about that, and watchful for it.”
Minneapolis has become the hub — and the media focus — of the FBI's investigation. But the FBI is casting a wide and growing net across the country, even in places hundreds of miles away from Minneapolis.
Testimony from counterterrorism officials and others at the Senate hearing last week suggested that the FBI investigation is active in Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Boston; Seattle; and San Diego.
"The FBI will follow leads wherever they takes us," said Rich Kolko, the chief of the FBI's National Press Office.
In fact, the FBI Field Office in San Diego has already interviewed "dozens" of people from the Somali-American community there, according to a local attorney.
The lawyer, Mahir Sherif, said he knows many of those who were interviewed, and he said the FBI often asked the same questions: Do you know anyone who has left the United States for Somalia? What are your feelings about Somalia? What are your feelings about Barack Obama? Do you know anyone who has committed an act of terrorism?
Sherif also said he knows at least one Somali-American who has received a subpoena to appear before a San Diego grand jury in the next couple of weeks. Sherif wouldn't identify the person but described him as a naturalized U.S. citizen in his 30s. Sherif said the person "consulted" with him after receiving the subpoena. The person recently traveled to the Middle East, which may have raised a red flag with authorities, according to Sherif. He did not say where in the Middle East the person visited.
Last week, a Muslim leader in the Minneapolis area told FOX News that at least 10 people in the Somali community there had been subpoenaed to testify before a Minneapolis grand jury, and another 40 had been interviewed by the FBI.
In cases like this, the field office leading the investigation — with help from FBI headquarters in Washington — "outlines" an investigative plan that is then implemented by other field offices, according to Kevin Donovan, a former FBI Assistant Director with the New York Field office.
"The lead field office basically sends out assignments in field offices across the U.S. and even around the world," he said.
It's unclear exactly what the FBI or any grand jury in San Diego would be investigating. A former Justice Department official said an FBI or grand jury investigation could be looking into something as clear-cut as a group of men from San Diego who joined al-Shabaab in Somalia, or they could be investigating whether someone from the San Diego area helped finance the Minneapolis men's travel overseas.
Either way, the former official said, "there has to be some kind of link to the Southern District of California."
Meanwhile, law enforcement officials tell FOX News that federal authorities in Seattle have been keeping track of a group of men in Washington state with alleged ties to Somali-American terrorists.
Authorities in Seattle recently arrested a Muslim convert the FBI believes had been in contact with Ruben Shumpert, one of the first Americans to join Islamic militants in Somalia. Shumpert, also a convert to Islam, was killed in Somalia last year.
Two weeks ago federal authorities charged Jimmy Lee King with drug and weapons-related offenses stemming from an incident in late November, according to court documents. An FBI official said King had been on the FBI's radar for some time, first gaining the FBI's attention after "assocating" with Shumpert. It's unclear whether the FBI has interviewed King in its investigation of Somali-linked terrorism, but court documents filed two weeks ago by the Joint Terrorism Task Force say King talked with the FBI "on several previous occasions regarding matters unrelated to the [November incident]."
The FBI official said King is believed to be involved in gang activity in Seattle, but the FBI is still trying to determine exactly how strong of a connection — if any — he has to international terrorism.
Donovan, the former FBI official, said charging a suspect with "lesser charges" when that suspect may have information relevant to a bigger investigation is "prudent."
"Many times it would be absolutely critical using lesser charges ... to get deeper into an organization," he said.
Dan Springer contributed to this report from Seattle



“We do not have a credible body of reporting right now to lead us to believe that these American recruits are being trained and instructed to come back to the United States for terrorist attacks,” said Philip Mudd, a top-ranking official with the FBI’s National Security Branch. “Yet, obviously, we remain concerned about that, and watchful for it.”
23261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Belgium on: March 24, 2009, 04:44:26 PM
Politicians Fret as Muslim Population Swells in Europe

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

Politicians Fret as Muslim Population Swells in Europe Amid Little Integration
Tuesday , March 24, 2009

By Greg Burke
BRUSSELS, Belgium —

A clash of civilizations may be taking place on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, but it's also happening a lot more quietly in European cities.  Old Europe's population is dwindling even as immigration and high birth rates among Muslim groups are swelling in cities all over the continent.  And in Belgium, it is no different.

Filip Dewinter, a leader of the far-right separatist party Vlaams Belang, predicts there will eventually be a kind of civil war when the longtime residents of Brussels — the nation's capital and administrative seat of the European Union — realize their city is about to be taken over by Muslim immigrants.

• Click here for video.

Although there are no official statistics on how many Muslims live in Brussels, it is believed they make up about 25 percent of the city’s 1 million urban residents. Dewinter, who opposes immigration and has called Islamophobia a "duty," claims three of the 19 sections of Brussels, each with its own mayor, now have Muslim majorities.

"In those neighborhoods it's not our government that's in power," he said, "but the Muslim authorities — the mosques, the imams — who are in charge."

FOX News visited one of those neighborhoods, called Molenbeek, which looks more like North Africa than the heart of Europe.

For some Belgians, that's not a problem. The mayor of Molenbeek, Socialist Philippe Moureaux, has worked hard to help Muslims try to integrate over the past decade and a half.  Moureaux believes multiculturalism is a good thing. He says even those who disagree with him should get used to life as it is in Brussels today: "Be realistic. They're here. They're relatively numerous and they're growing."

Many Moroccans have been in Belgium for decades and are now citizens, as are their children. The imam of one of the main mosques, which thousands of young Moroccans attend each Friday, stressed that Muslim immigrants have starting blending in around Brussels.

During FOX News' brief visit, there were no fiery demonstrations of the kind that have wracked the Netherlands, though the municipality is sometimes considered dangerous to traverse at night.

Yet Molenbeek remains disconcerting. Belgian police assigned three plainclothes officers to watch over a FOX News team shooting street scenes one morning in Molenbeek. When FOX News returned in the afternoon as more people were out and about, the police said it would be safer not to get out of the car. It wasn't even dark yet.

Part of that fear stems from particularly nasty street crime, something that can happen in bad neighborhoods in any big European — or American — city. But part of it is due to strong anti-Western sentiment among Belgium's Muslims, which suggests that true integration is still a long way off.

Mayor Moureaux blames the problems on a tiny number of very violent youths who are condemned by everyone, including the Muslim community.

But for Dewinter, integration simply isn't working. He claims the great majority of the Muslims don't want it to work. So instead of being a melting pot, Brussels has become a city that does everything possible to appease Islam, he claims.

"Halal food is served in the schools, not only for Muslim children, but for all the children," said Dewinter, adding that municipal pools in Brussels now have separate hours for men and women to swim.

The anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang, once considered a pariah party, now controls about 24 percent of the Belgian vote, a trend matched in other European countries with burgeoning Muslim populations.

Though the immigration debate has not yet reached the fever pitch it has in the U.S., a real test will come when a major European city has a Muslim majority. The first could be Marseilles, in France, or Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. But don't count out Brussels, the heart and capital of Europe.


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,510364,00.html
23262  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Physics of a stick strike on: March 24, 2009, 04:06:49 PM
Just got this question from a TV producer.  Anyone have a good and/or clever answer?
==================

Me again, in regards to the Time Warp segment you all did on stick fighting!  The Discovery Channel is asking for a bit more information on the force of the blows a rattan stick can wield.  Something along the lines of how a stick wielded at this speed striking a man weighing XXX pounds would exert XX force.  I’m not sure how we can address this (seems like too many variables) but
do you have any suggestions?

=================
23263  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Seeing Eye Dog; current fighter's list on: March 24, 2009, 04:05:31 PM
This just in:

Woof Crafty,
I will be unable to attend the Gathering for April 2009.  I will be going to have eye surgery tommorrow to repair a stitch on the scleral buckle in my left eye.

"Seeing-Eye Dog" Richard Estepa

Pain is temporary, regret is forever...
==================================
Current fighter's list:

Lonely Dog

Cyborg Dog
Guide Dog
Pappy Dog
Red Dog

C-Kaju Dog (aka) "Doc"
C-Lefty Dog
C-Scotty Dog
C-Spider Dog
C-Tahiti Dog
C-Tennessee Dog

Dog Matt
Dog Randall
Dog Ryan
Dog Tom Stillman

Terry Crutcher
Will Dixon (Lone Wolf)
Dominic Ischer (Lonely Den Clan)
Mike Norrell (MikeGPK)
23264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Support our troops on: March 24, 2009, 03:47:49 PM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/03/18/

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/03/19/

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/03/23/
23265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Brave Pak village on: March 24, 2009, 03:39:37 PM
Washington Post
March 22, 2009
Pg. 12

Pakistani Villagers Pay A Price For Defying Rebels

A Few Tribal Leaders Fight Religiously Cloaked Mayhem

By Pamela Constable, Washington Post Foreign Service

BAZITKHEL, Pakistan -- This tiny village in northwestern Pakistan has paid a high price for its defiance.

The health clinic lies in ruins, blasted to rubble by a car bomb that exploded outside three weeks ago. The mayor's compound next door is full of jagged holes. Five residents are dead, including a shopkeeper's small son and daughter. More than 20 were injured, including a young man whose right hand was severed.

But while most inhabitants of this violence-plagued region near the Afghan border have been cowed by the growing tide of Islamist and criminal violence, those in a handful of communities like Bazitkhel -- where tribal bonds are especially strong -- are determined to arm themselves and fight back.

Any vehicle that approaches Bazitkhel on the winding road from Peshawar, the provincial capital about 20 miles away, is quickly surrounded by men of all ages, each carrying a rifle and many loaded with grenade vests, ammo belts or military weapons. None wears a uniform or a badge.

"I am an educated and peaceful man. I would rather be carrying a book than a gun," said Hizar Amin Shah, 22, leaning on a rocket launcher. Shah said he spent the past decade studying and working in the capital, Islamabad, but has answered the call to return and defend his home. "These terrorists want to destroy the peace of Pakistan. It is up to us to finish them," he said.

The government of Pakistan, facing pressure from the West and increasing concern among its own citizens, has been struggling for months to contain an epidemic of religiously cloaked mayhem that is spreading from tribal havens along the Afghan border into the surrounding belt of "settled" areas that are theoretically protected by the state.

Authorities have tried various methods, first using the army to attempt to quash the rebels, and more recently negotiating truces with individual militia groups. Thousands of conflict-zone inhabitants, terrified by government bombing and insurgent brutality, have fled their homes. Few local officials dare visit their constituencies without military escorts.

A few tribal leaders, however, have refused to budge and are urging others to do the same. One of the first was Anwar Kamal Marwat, a former member of Parliament, who decided to organize a self-defense force in 2007 after Taliban militias began kidnapping and threatening people in his native Lakki Marwat district, demanding their support for a holy war.

"We are Muslims, and we know what holy war is. What they were doing was committing crimes," Marwat, 60, said last week in Peshawar. "They kept threatening us, but our tribe is very united and every village went on alert. We wanted to stop them before the cancer spread. It took many months, but now all their camps are gone, and they have not been back."

Marwat's success has been both an inspiration to other vulnerable communities and an embarrassment to the government, whose police are supposed to keep order and whose army is supposed to fight extremists.

One problem, according to experts and tribal leaders, is the divided loyalties and limited capacity of the security forces. Police are easily corrupted, tribal constabularies are ill-equipped and soldiers are often reluctant to shoot fellow Muslims. It is also widely believed here, though the government denies it, that Pakistani intelligence agencies covertly aid the insurgents in order to create trouble for next-door Afghanistan.

A second problem is that malefactors of all types benefit from a peculiar administrative arrangement, instituted by British colonial rulers, in which Pakistan's seven tribal zones are overseen by a federal agency and are off-limits to provincial or state security forces. As a result, they have become sanctuaries for both Islamist militias and criminal mafias, a distinction that local leaders said is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

"Some of the tribal agencies are totally controlled by the militants, and we are surrounded on three sides," said Afrasiab Khattak, a senior official in the party that rules North-West Frontier Province. Khattak has been a key promoter of the recent peace agreement with Taliban commanders in the Swat Valley, a tourist region in the province just outside the tribal belt.

The agreement has been criticized as creating a launching pad for a fundamentalist sweep through Pakistan. Last week, Islamic law courts began operating in Swat under the agreement, but Taliban commanders have not yet laid down their weapons. Still, Khattak said he believes the deal will hold.

"We have morally disarmed the militants in Swat. Now we have to create the conditions for physically disarming them," he said. "Swat is in a transition stage, and there is some confusion. The Taliban have no knowledge of law, and a few of them are addicted to violence, but 90 percent are behaving well."

But even in Peshawar, a city of several million, the chilling effects of Talibanization are everywhere. Half the movie theaters have shut down for lack of attendance at Bollywood action films deemed un-Islamic. Wedding parties have stopped hiring musicians, and only one craftsman who carves traditional instruments has remained in Dabgari Garden, a famous alley that once hummed with nightlife.

Gulzar Alam, an ethnic Pashto singer, has not performed at a single event since two gunmen ambushed him in a cemetery several months ago. As a further precaution, he has grown a beard and carries prayer beads.

"There is no more music in this city, not even in the public buses," Alam said, adding that most of his fellow entertainers have moved away or joined religious minstrel groups. The new provincial government hoped to spark a cultural revival, he added, "but now they've forgotten about it. The militancy problem has taken over everything."

In rural districts closer to the tribal zones, people are even more vulnerable to the predations of outlaw militias that roam freely just a few miles away. Bazitkhel, for example, is very near the Khyber Agency, a relatively prosperous tribal area that bustles with cross-border commerce but is also the stronghold of Mangal Bagh, a former bus driver who heads an Islamist militia-turned-criminal gang.

Leaders in Bazitkhel said most of their troubles originated with Bagh's followers, whom they allege enjoy the tacit acceptance of federal tribal officers. They said they had given authorities specific evidence about numerous attacks and their perpetrators, including cellphone records linking them to gang leaders in Khyber, but that nothing had come of it.

The village council head, Fahim ur Rahman, is now guarded around the clock by a small army of tribal members. He recounted half a dozen recent attacks and tribal retaliations, including a decisive battle last month in which hundreds of villagers encircled a group of militiamen in a three-hour gunfight, killing nine. Two weeks later came a message of gruesome revenge.

A pickup pulled into the village square in mid-afternoon and the driver walked into a shop, asking for cigarettes. The shopkeeper's children were outside munching on candy when the truck exploded, spraying deadly shrapnel in all directions. Two children died on the spot, and a third was rushed to a hospital in Peshawar with her stomach in shreds.

"These people call themselves Taliban, but they are nothing but criminals," Rahman said over rice and meat in his shrapnel-pocked compound. "We ask the security forces to crush them, but the police are afraid to take action, and other authorities protect them. If our tribe were not so united, we would have no hope of defending ourselves. We do not have permission to do this, but we have no choice."
23266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Geithner's new plan on: March 24, 2009, 07:57:38 AM
The best news about the new Treasury bad bank asset purchase plan is that Secretary Timothy Geithner has finally settled on a strategy. The uncertainty was getting almost as toxic as those securities. Now all Mr. Geithner has to do is find private investors willing to "partner" with the feds (Congress!) to bid for those rotten assets, coax the banks to sell them at a loss, and hope that the economy doesn't keep falling lest taxpayers lose big on their new loan guarantees.

 
APOther than that, General, how was the siege of Moscow?

Markets nonetheless roared their approval yesterday, though also for the increase in existing home sales and for the Obama Administration's (belated) pushback against Congress's rage against bankers and private contracts. In simplest terms, Treasury is using loan guarantees and $100 billion in remaining TARP money to create a more liquid market for dodgy financial assets. These include those infamous mortgage securities, as well as various loans that may be nonperforming. The idea is to create new buyers for those assets, perhaps leading to higher prices than now exist in a illiquid market, and thus help banks gradually clean up their balance sheets.

This isn't the worst idea the federal government has ever had, and if it works it will help banks take their losses and burn down debt. A Resolution Trust Corp. would have been a simpler and more politically transparent way to do this, especially six months or a year ago. But this Administration and the entire bailout have already lost too much standing with the public to pull that off now. So in essence this is an attempt at a slow-motion bank workout without a fight over a new resolution agency or having to ask Congress for more money.

On the other hand, none of this will be easy to execute. Start with the problem of attracting private investors, who will have to accept Uncle Sam as a 50-50 business partner. Mr. Geithner says investors won't be subject to the same compensation limits as TARP recipients, but what happens if their asset purchases pay off in big profits? Will Congress settle for only half the upside -- especially as it faces epic deficits in the years ahead? Most likely, cries will go up that the buyers were allowed to underpay for the assets and thus make a killing.

Especially after last week, every investor has to ask whether the potential payoff is worth the risk of appearing in the future before a Congressional committee, saying "I do solemnly swear . . ." Maybe Treasury should also sell investors some Nancy Pelosi-political risk insurance.

Then there is the question of whether the banks will sell enough of those assets to make a difference. Mr. Geithner's bet is that the banks will judge that they are better off disposing of their bad assets, even if it means taking losses. With a cleaner balance sheet, they would then have an easier time raising more private capital and repaying their TARP money to Treasury more quickly. The stronger banks may well find this attractive, since they'd emerge faster from asset purgatory and get a competitive jump on the laggards.

The harder call is the weaker banks, such as Citigroup, which fear that taking big losses will weaken them further. Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit has publicly said that he'd be violating his fiduciary duty to shareholders to take such losses when he thinks the market value of its assets is artificially low. Citi and Bank of America already have federal guarantees against tens of billions in future losses, so they have even less incentive than most to sell and write them down. Much will depend on how much Treasury can raise asset prices with this new liquidity play. Some banks -- some of them big -- will undoubtedly fail anyway.

Of course the largest risk, as always, is to the taxpayers. Don't be fooled because Treasury isn't going to Capitol Hill for more cash. The Obama Administration is instead leveraging the balance sheets of the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which will lend to the new public-private entities to buy the toxic assets.

In the case of the FDIC, it will lend at a debt-to-equity ratio of 6-to-l to the buyers. This means, according to the Treasury example, that the FDIC would guarantee 72 cents in funding for an asset purchased for 84 cents on the dollar. The feds and private investors would each put up six cents in capital. If the asset rises in value over time, the taxpayer and investors share the upside. If it falls further, then the taxpayers would absorb by far the biggest chunk of the losses. Better hope the recovery really is, as the White House says, just around the corner.

Whatever the Geithner plan's pitfalls, we sincerely hope this works. The feds have so thoroughly botched the TARP execution and various bailouts that Treasury has few options left. No accounting change can make bank losses vanish, or inspire investors and short sellers to value bank assets at more than their market price. Yes, banks need to earn their way out of trouble, and many are doing that, but they also need to burn losses. Might as well get on with it.
23267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: Cause and necessity of taking up arms on: March 24, 2009, 06:44:40 AM
"Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them."

--Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms, 6 July 1775
23268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Motives behind Russia's security proposal on: March 24, 2009, 05:34:47 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Motives Behind Russia's Security Proposal
March 23, 2009

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on Sunday blasted Russia’s proposal for a new security agreement with Europe and said the Americans should not force Poland into “regretting its trust in them.” Speaking at the 2009 Brussels Security Forum, Sikorski was reacting to a proposal that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov presented March 21, intended to create a new treaty to combat terrorism. According to Lavrov, the agreement would “respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of countries, inadmissibility of the use of force, guarantees for the provision of equal security, basic parameters of control over armaments and reasonable sufficiency in the development of military capability.” The initiative is meant to prove that no outside state and no international organization has the exclusive right to security in Europe.

Russia’s audience for the proposal was the United States, NATO and the European Union. While the treaty is said to be an anti-terrorism agreement, the Poles — and many others — see the true motives behind Lavrov’s proposal. The measure looks more like an attempt to re-create circumstances in which the United States is not invited to interfere in Russo-European affairs. It also could be intended to create a situation in which Europe is not allowed to cross into the former Soviet sphere dominated by Russia, since Lavrov’s proposal came just days after the European Union decided to launch partnership agreements with many countries in that sphere.

EU foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana — who happens to be a former NATO secretary-general — immediately shot down Lavrov’s proposal, adding that it is “a very intelligent set-up” for Europe to have the United States as the key guarantor of its security.

But it seems not everyone in Europe is as confident in the U.S.-European relationship as Solana.

The initiative Lavrov spoke of is actually based on a new treaty that Russian President Dmitri Medvedev placed before a select group of his European counterparts in June 2008. During the summer, Medvedev and others were very tight-lipped on what exactly this security agreement entailed and whether it actually could serve as a counter to U.S. and NATO influence in Europe. But at the time, STRATFOR sources said German leaders were considering Medvedev’s proposals. The point of that security agreement was to begin fracturing the U.S. hold over Europe and NATO by targeting individual states and pulling them out of Washington’s orbit.

Since Medvedev’s first push for an exclusive security agreement with certain European states, much has happened: the Russo-Georgian war, another natural gas shut-off from Russia to Ukraine (affecting Europe) and a possible move forward in U.S.-Russian negotiations. The time is ripe for Moscow to again try to create a more permanent structure involving Russia and Europe — especially one that counters the United States. Country by country, Moscow is attacking the Europeans’ confidence in Washington. In Moscow’s view, the Russians have the upper hand now: In the war with Georgia, they proved they are willing to invade a U.S. ally; with the natural gas cutoff, they issued a reminder that Europeans still depend on Russian natural gas; and the ongoing U.S.-Russian negotiations have many U.S. allies concerned about what Washington will barter away.

Solana has discounted the idea that any European country will be interested in Russia’s new security deal. However, it seems that some countries might not be quick to pass it up, while others fear the United States cannot follow through on its security guarantees.
23269  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: March 24, 2009, 05:31:02 AM
Uhhh , , , , ummmm, , , ,

1) rhomboid
2) lats
3) traps
, , , ummm  embarassed cheesy
23270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Friedman: US-Iran negotiations on: March 23, 2009, 04:15:05 PM
March 23, 2009




By George Friedman

Related Special Topic Page
U.S.-Iran Negotiations
The Iranian Nuclear Game
Iraq, Iran and the Shia

U.S. President Barack Obama released a video offering Iran congratulations on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on Friday. Israeli President Shimon Peres also offered his best wishes, referring to “the noble Iranian people.” The joint initiative was received coldly in Tehran, however. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the video did not show that the United States had shifted its hostile attitude toward Iran.

The video is obviously part of Obama’s broader strategy of demonstrating that his administration has shifted U.S. policy, at least to the extent that it is prepared to open discussions with other regimes (with Iran being the hardest and most controversial case). The U.S. strategy is fairly straightforward: Obama is trying to create a new global perception of the United States. Global opinion was that former U.S. President George W. Bush was unwilling to engage with, and listen to, allies or enemies. Obama’s view is that that perception in itself harmed U.S. foreign policy by increasing suspicion of the United States. For Obama, offering New Year’s greetings to Iran is therefore part of a strategy to change the tone of all aspects of U.S. foreign policy.

Getting Peres to offer parallel greetings was undoubtedly intended to demonstrate to the Iranians that the Israelis would not block U.S. initiatives toward Iran. The Israelis probably were willing to go along with the greetings because they don’t expect them to go very far. They also want to show that they were not responsible for their failure, something critical in their relations with the Obama administration.

The Iranian response is also understandable. The United States has made a series of specific demands on Iran, and has worked to impose economic sanctions on Iran when Tehran has not complied. But Iran also has some fairly specific demands of the United States. It might be useful, therefore, to look at the Iranian view of the United States and the world through its eyes.

From the Iranian point of view, the United States has made two fundamental demands of Iran. The first is that Iran halt its military nuclear program. The second, a much broader demand, is that Iran stop engaging in what the United States calls terrorism. This ranges from support for Hezbollah to support for Shiite factions in Iraq. In return, the United States is prepared to call for a suspension of sanctions against Iran.

For Tehran, however, the suspension of sanctions is much too small a price to pay for major strategic concessions. First, the sanctions don’t work very well. Sanctions only work when most powers are prepared to comply with them. Neither the Russians nor the Chinese are prepared to systematically comply with sanctions, so there is little that Iran can afford that it can’t get. Iran’s problem is that it cannot afford much. Its economy is in shambles due more to internal problems than to sanctions. Therefore, in the Iranian point of view, the United States is asking for strategic concessions, yet offering very little in return.

The Nuclear Question
Meanwhile, merely working on a nuclear device — regardless of how close or far Iran really is from having one — provides Iran with a dramatically important strategic lever. The Iranians learned from the North Korean experience that the United States has a nuclear fetish. Having a nuclear program alone was more important to Pyongyang than actually having nuclear weapons. U.S. fears that North Korea might someday have a nuclear device resulted in significant concessions from the United States, Japan and South Korea.

The danger of having such a program is that the United States — or some other country — might attack and destroy the associated facilities. Therefore, the North Koreans created a high level of uncertainty as to just how far along they were on the road to having a nuclear device and as to how urgent the situation was, raising and lowering alarms like a conductor in a symphony. The Iranians are following the same strategy. They are constantly shifting from a conciliatory tone to an aggressive one, keeping the United States and Israel under perpetual psychological pressure. The Iranians are trying to avoid an attack by keeping the intelligence ambiguous. Tehran’s ideal strategy is maintaining maximum ambiguity and anxiety in the West while minimizing the need to strike immediately. Actually obtaining a bomb would increase the danger of an attack in the period between a successful test and the deployment of a deliverable device.

What the Iranians get out of this is exactly what the North Koreans got: disproportionate international attention and a lever on other topics, along with something that could be sacrificed in negotiations. They also have a chance of actually developing a deliverable device in the confusion surrounding its progress. If so, Iran would become invasion- and even harassment-proof thanks to its apparent instability and ideology. From Tehran’s perspective, abandoning its nuclear program without substantial concessions, none of which have materialized as yet, would be irrational. And the Iranians expect a large payoff from all this.

Radical Islamists, Iraq and Afghanistan
This brings us to the Hezbollah/Iraq question, which in fact represents two very different issues. Iraq constitutes the greatest potential strategic threat to Iran. This is as ancient as Babylon and Persia, as modern as the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Iran wants guarantees that Iraq will never threaten it, and that U.S. forces in Iraq will never pose a threat to Iran. Tehran does not want promises alone; it wants a recognized degree of control over the Iraqi government, or at least negative control that would allow it to stop Baghdad from doing things Iran doesn’t want. To achieve this, Iran systematically has built its influence among factions in Iraq, permitting it to block Iraqi policies that Iran regards as dangerous.

The American demand that Iran stop meddling in Iraqi policies strikes the Iranians as if the United States is planning to use the new Baghdad regime to restore the regional balance of power. In fact, that is very much on Washington’s mind. This is completely unacceptable to Iran, although it might benefit the United States and the region. From the Iranian point of view, a fully neutral Iraq — with its neutrality guaranteed by Iranian influence — is the only acceptable outcome. The Iranians regard the American demand that Iran not meddle in Iraq as directly threatening Iranian national security.

There is then the issue of Iranian support for Hezbollah, Hamas and other radical Islamist groups. Between 1979 and 2001, Iran represented the background of the Islamic challenge to the West: The Shia represented radical Islam. When al Qaeda struck, Iran and the Shia lost this place of honor. Now, al Qaeda has faded and Iran wants to reclaim its place. It can do that by supporting Hezbollah, a radical Shiite group that directly challenges Israel, as well as Hamas — a radical Sunni group — thus showing that Iran speaks for all of Islam, a powerful position in an arena that matters a great deal to Iran and the region. Iran’s support for these groups helps it achieve a very important goal at little risk. Meanwhile, the U.S. demand that Iran end this support is not matched by any meaningful counteroffer or by a significant threat.

Moreover, Tehran dislikes the Obama-Petraeus strategy in Afghanistan. That strategy involves talking with the Taliban, a group that Iran has been hostile toward historically. The chance that the United States might install a Taliban-linked government in Afghanistan represents a threat to Iran second only to the threat posed to it by Iraq.

The Iranians see themselves as having been quite helpful to the United States in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as they helped Washington topple both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. In 2001, they offered to let U.S. aircraft land in Iran, and assured Washington of the cooperation of pro-Iranian factions in Afghanistan. In Iraq, they provided intelligence and helped keep the Shiite population relatively passive after the invasion in 2003. But Iranians see Washington as having betrayed implicit understandings that in return for these services, the Iranians would enjoy a degree of influence in both countries. And the U.S. opening to the Taliban is the last straw.

Obama’s Greetings in Context
Iran views Obama’s New Year greetings within this context. To them, Obama has not addressed the core issues between the two countries. In fact, apart from videos, Obama’s position on Iran does not appear different from the Bush position. The Iranian leadership does not see why it should respond more favorably to the Obama administration than it did to the Bush administration. Tehran wants to be very sure that Obama understands that the willingness alone to talk is insufficient; some indications of what is to be discussed and what might be offered are necessary.

Many in the U.S. administration believe that the weak Iranian economy might shape the upcoming Iranian presidential election. Undoubtedly, the U.S. greetings were timed to influence the election. Washington has tried to influence internal Iranian politics for decades, constantly searching for reformist elements. The U.S. hope is that someone might be elected in Iran who is so obsessed with the economy that he would trade away strategic and geopolitical interests in return for some sort of economic aid. There are undoubtedly candidates who would be interested in economic aid, but none who are prepared to trade away strategic interests. Nor could they even if they wanted to. The Iran-Iraq war is burned into the popular Iranian consciousness; any candidate who appeared willing to see a strong Iraq would lose the election. American analysts are constantly confusing an Iranian interest in economic aid with a willingness to abandon core interests. But this hasn’t happened, and isn’t happening now.

This is not to say that the Iranians won’t bargain. Beneath the rhetoric, they are practical to the extreme. Indeed, the rhetoric is part of the bargaining. What is not clear is whether Obama is prepared to bargain. What will he give for the things he wants? Economic aid is not enough for Iran, and in any event, the idea of U.S. economic aid for Iran during a time of recession is a non-starter. Is Obama prepared to offer Iran a dominant voice in Iraq and Afghanistan? How insistent is Obama on the Hezbollah and Hamas issue? What will he give if Iran shuts down its nuclear program? It is not clear that Obama has answers to these questions.

Rebuilding the U.S. public image is a reasonable goal for the first 100 days of a presidency. But soon it will be summer, and the openings Obama has made will have to be walked through, with tough bargaining. In the case of Iran — one of the toughest cases of all — it is hard to see how Washington can give Tehran the things it wants because that would make Iran a major regional power. And it is hard to see how Iran could give away the things the Americans are demanding.

Obama indicated that it would take time for his message to generate a positive response from the Iranians. It is more likely that unless the message starts to take on more substance that pleases the Iranians, the response will remain unchanged. The problem wasn’t Bush or Clinton or Reagan, the problem was the reality of Iran and the United States. Only if a third power frightened the Iranians sufficiently — a third power that also threatened the United States — would U.S.-Iranian interests be brought together. But Russia, at least for now, is working very hard to be friendly with Iran.
23271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US between Iran and the Taliban on: March 23, 2009, 11:16:00 AM
Afghanistan: The U.S. Between Iran and the Taliban
STRATFOR Today » March 21, 2009 | 1359 GMT


Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki arrived March 20 in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif for a two-day visit. At a time when Washington is reaching out to Iran to assist in Afghanistan, Iran is demonstrating to the United States that it holds significant influence in Afghanistan. At the same time, Iran is not happy about U.S. efforts to engage “moderate” Taliban elements, and will instead be working to revive the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance — an endeavor that is likely to find support in Russia, Central Asia and India.

Analysis
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki arrived March 20 in the northwestern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to meet with his Afghan and Tajik counterparts in a ceremony marking Nowruz — the Persian New Year celebrated by Iranians, Tajiks, Kurds, and Azeris. On the same day, U.S. President Barack Obama sent a message to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz as part of his administration’s efforts to engage Tehran diplomatically.

The Iranians have welcomed the “Happy Nowruz” message from Obama, but have reiterated their demand that the United States move beyond statements and take concrete steps to initiate the process of normalizing relations. Tehran knows that Washington is simultaneously trying to reach out to the clerical regime; it is also pursuing a diplomatic approach toward the Taliban, an enemy of Tehran that the Iranians nearly went to war with in 1998. From the Iranian point of view, this is the perfect time to demonstrate to the Americans that in addition to the Middle East, the Persian Islamist regime has great influence in South and Central Asia as well.

Intriguingly, the regional gathering is not being held in the Afghan capital, Kabul, but in Mazar-e-Sharif — a city with a Tajik majority in a predominantly Uzbek region, which is near the borders of the Central Asian states (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan). It is also the same city where the Taliban murdered 10 diplomats and an Iranian journalist at the Iranian Consulate in August 1998 as part of a larger massacre of Shiite opponents in and around the town after the Taliban re-captured it from the Northern Alliance. Ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazara and Turkmen in Afghanistan, along with their allies in Asghabat, Tashkent and Dushanbe all share Iran’s deep concern over the Taliban resurgence. These state and non-state actors, along with Russia, Iran and India, cooperated in supporting the Northern Alliance (a coalition of Afghan minorities) to counter the Taliban from 1994 to 2001 and then played an instrumental role in the fall of the Taliban regime in the aftermath of 9/11.


Tehran has strong influence among Afghanistan’s largest minority group, the Tajiks, because of ethno-linguistic ties. Similarly, it enjoys close relations with the Hazara, who are — like the Iranians — Shia. Given the way the Taliban routed the Northern Alliance in the 1990s, the Iranians understand that they will need to put together a more robust alliance comprising the Afghan minorities. The Uzbeks, however, are key in this regard because after the Tajiks, they are the next-largest ethnic group in the country. Moreover, the Uzbeks under the leadership of former military commander Gen. Abdul-Rashid Dostum played a key role in the ouster of the Marxist regime in 1992 after defecting to the Islamist rebel alliance.

Therefore, in addition to showing off their regional influence, the Iranians are likely attempting to revive the Northern Alliance. In April 2007, STRATFOR discussed the likelihood of the re-creation of the north-south divide in Afghanistan, pitting its Pashtun majority against the country’s minorities. By countering the rise of the Taliban, the Iranians would be offsetting the moves of their main regional rival, Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is interested in seeing the return of the Taliban as a means of checking Iran, which has created problems for Riyadh in the Arab world. Just as Iran has relied on its Arab Shiite allies and other radical forces in the Middle East to expand its influence, the Iranians have ample tools on their eastern front.

Iran is not the only power that has an interest in bolstering the Northern Alliance. The Russians also want to keep the Taliban contained, and would have an interest in undermining U.S. strategy in Afghanistan by reinforcing the Taliban’s biggest rivals. Iran will probably work through Russia to create a regional alliance against the Taliban, though Iran is aware that Moscow does not want Iran to expand its influence in Central Asia because the Russians see that region as their exclusive turf.

Additionally, Iran can rely on India to join this anti-Taliban regional alliance because of New Delhi’s interest in countering the Taliban’s main state-actor ally, Pakistan, and countering the Islamist militant threat that India faces from its western rival. The Indians have openly criticized U.S. efforts to seek out “moderate” Taliban and are bitter about the Obama administration’s soft approach toward Islamabad.

This emerging alignment of forces complicates an already complex and difficult situation that the United States faces in dealing with Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. Washington is struggling to deal with the spread of the jihadist insurgency from Afghanistan to Pakistan and now will have to balance between Iran and Saudi Arabia as it seeks to deal with the Taliban. A revitalization of an anti-Taliban alliance of state and non-state actors will create problems for the U.S. efforts to negotiate with the Taliban.

Such an anti-Taliban coalition also complicates U.S.-NATO efforts to reach out to the Central Asian republics and Russia in its search for alternative supply routes. Moscow and the Central Asian states are in favor, at the right price, of allowing the West to ship supplies through their territories to NATO forces in Afghanistan because they also want the Taliban in check. Washington’s moves to talk to the Taliban, however, are a cause of concern for the Kremlin and the countries of Central Asia, which is why they will be asking for a role in the U.S.-Iranian negotiations.

These complex dealings underscore the problems that the United States will be facing as it seeks simultaneously to negotiate with its two principal opponents in the Islamic world — Iran and the jihadists.
23272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: March 23, 2009, 10:56:46 AM
Live Not By Lies
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/SolhenitsynLies.htm
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Solzhenitsyn penned this essay in 1974 and it circulated among Moscow's intellectuals at the time. It is dated Feb. 12, the same day that secret police broke into his apartment and arrested him. The next day he was exiled to West Germany. The essay is a call to moral courage and serves as light to all who value truth.



At one time we dared not even to whisper. Now we write and read samizdat, and sometimes when we gather in the smoking room at the Science Institute we complain frankly to one another: What kind of tricks are they playing on us, and where are they dragging us? Gratuitous boasting of cosmic achievements while there is poverty and destruction at home. Propping up remote, uncivilized regimes. Fanning up civil war. And we recklessly fostered Mao Tse-tung at our expense—and it will be we who are sent to war against him, and will have to go. Is there any way out? And they put on trial anybody they want and they put sane people in asylums—always they, and we are powerless.

Things have almost reached rock bottom. A universal spiritual death has already touched us all, and physical death will soon flare up and consume us both and our children—but as before we still smile in a cowardly way and mumble without tounges tied. But what can we do to stop it? We haven't the strength?

We have been so hopelessly dehumanized that for today's modest ration of food we are willing to abandon all our principles, our souls, and all the efforts of our predecessors and all opportunities for our descendants—but just don't disturb our fragile existence. We lack staunchness, pride and enthusiasm. We don't even fear universal nuclear death, and we don't fear a third world war. We have already taken refuge in the crevices. We just fear acts of civil courage.

We fear only to lag behind the herd and to take a step alone-and suddenly find ourselves without white bread, without heating gas and without a Moscow registration.

We have been indoctrinated in political courses, and in just the same way was fostered the idea to live comfortably, and all will be well for the rest of our lives. You can't escape your environment and social conditions. Everyday life defines consciousness. What does it have to do with us? We can't do anything about it?

But we can—everything. But we lie to ourselves for assurance. And it is not they who are to blame for everything—we ourselves, only we. One can object: But actually toy can think anything you like. Gags have been stuffed into our mouths. Nobody wants to listen to us and nobody asks us. How can we force them to listen? It is impossible to change their minds.

It would be natural to vote them out of office—but there are not elections in our country. In the West people know about strikes and protest demonstrations—but we are too oppressed, and it is a horrible prospect for us: How can one suddenly renounce a job and take to the streets? Yet the other fatal paths probed during the past century by our bitter Russian history are, nevertheless, not for us, and truly we don't need them.

Now that the axes have done their work, when everything which was sown has sprouted anew, we can see that the young and presumptuous people who thought they would make out country just and happy through terror, bloody rebellion and civil war were themselves misled. No thanks, fathers of education! Now we know that infamous methods breed infamous results. Let our hands be clean!

The circle—is it closed? And is there really no way out? And is there only one thing left for us to do, to wait without taking action? Maybe something will happen by itself? It will never happen as long as we daily acknowledge, extol, and strengthen—and do not sever ourselves from the most perceptible of its aspects: Lies.

When violence intrudes into peaceful life, its face glows with self-confidence, as if it were carrying a banner and shouting: “I am violence. Run away, make way for me—I will crush you.” But violence quickly grows old. And it has lost confidence in itself, and in order to maintain a respectable face it summons falsehood as its ally—since violence lays its ponderous paw not every day and not on every shoulder. It demands from us only obedience to lies and daily participation in lies—all loyalty lies in that.

And the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me.

This opens a breach in the imaginary encirclement caused by our inaction. It is the easiest thing to do for us, but the most devastating for the lies. Because when people renounce lies it simply cuts short their existence. Like an infection, they can exist only in a living organism.

We do not exhort ourselves. We have not sufficiently matured to march into the squares and shout the truth our loud or to express aloud what we think. It's not necessary.

It's dangerous. But let us refuse to say that which we do not think.

This is our path, the easiest and most accessible one, which takes into account out inherent cowardice, already well rooted. And it is much easier—it's dangerous even to say this—than the sort of civil disobedience which Gandhi advocated.

Our path is to talk away fro the gangrenous boundary. If we did not paste together the dead bones and scales of ideology, if we did not sew together the rotting rags, we would be astonished how quickly the lies would be rendered helpless and subside.

That which should be naked would then really appear naked before the whole world.

So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood—of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one's family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies—or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one's children and contemporaries.

And from that day onward he:

Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question. Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed. Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.
No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice.

But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude.

And he who is not sufficiently courageous even to defend his soul—don't let him be proud of his “progressive” views, don't let him boast that he is an academician or a people's artist, a merited figure, or a general—let him say to himself: I am in the herd, and a coward. It's all the same to me as long as I'm fed and warm.

Even this path, which is the most modest of all paths of resistance, will not be easy for us. But it is much easier than self-immolation or a hunger strike: The flames will not envelope your body, your eyeballs, will not burst from the heat, and brown bread and clean water will always be available to your family.

A great people of Europe, the Czechoslovaks, whom we betrayed and deceived: Haven't they shown us how a vulnerable breast can stand up even against tanks if there is a worthy heart within it?

You say it will not be easy? But it will be easiest of all possible resources. It will not be an easy choice for a body, but it is the only one for a soul. Not, it is not an easy path. But there are already people, even dozens of them, who over the years have maintained all these points and live by the truth.

So you will not be the first to take this path, but will join those who have already taken it. This path will be easier and shorter for all of us if we take it by mutual efforts and in close rank. If there are thousands of us, they will not be able to do anything with us. If there are tens of thousands of us, then we would not even recognize our country.

If we are too frightened, then we should stop complaining that someone is suffocating us. We ourselves are doing it. Let us then bow down even more, let us wail, and out brothers the biologists will help to bring nearer the day when they are able to read our thoughts are worthless and hopeless.

And if we get cold feet, even taking this step, then we are worthless and hopeless, and the scorn of Pushkin should be directed to us:

Why should cattle have the gifts of freedom?

Their heritage from generation to generation is the belled yoke and the lash.
23273  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: March 23, 2009, 10:47:43 AM
!Que tristeza!
  cry
23274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Have We the people lost the American republic the Founding Fathers forge for us? on: March 23, 2009, 08:05:46 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeYscnFpEyA&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fhotair%2Ecom%2Farchives%2F2009%2F03%2F18%2Fred%2Dmeat%2Dangry%2Dguy%2Ddressed%2Das%2Dfounding%2Dfather%2Dcalls%2Dfor%2Dmarch%2Don%2Ddc%2Dor%2Dsomething%2F&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKFKGrmsBDk&feature=related
23275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Bonus tax makes work illogical for some on: March 23, 2009, 07:58:44 AM
By JONATHAN CLEMENTS
Like Bernie Madoff, I've got the government coming after my money. Unlike Madoff, I didn't do anything wrong.

The House of Representatives, alas, thinks otherwise. Last Thursday, 328 members voted for a bill that would slap a 90% surtax on my bonus, with Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel dismissing the payout I received in January as "repugnant to everything that decent people believe in." The Senate is considering a similar bill.

All of this might come as a surprise to those of you who recognize my byline. Until a year ago, I was The Wall Street Journal's personal-finance columnist -- and widely considered to be a friend of the ordinary investor.

But that was then. In April 2008, I left to join a new Citi venture. (What follows are my views -- not those of Citigroup Inc.) For the past year, I thought I was involved in building a wonderful, customer-friendly business that minimizes conflicts of interest, favors index funds, and helps everyday Americans with their entire financial lives.

It seems that I was sadly mistaken. If the rebuke from Washington is any guide, I have apparently played an integral part in the collapse of the global economy and the financial markets -- and I must be punished.

Should the House bill become law, my bonus will be taxed at up to 90% once my adjusted gross income hits $250,000. The tax will apply to employees of those companies, like Citi, that have received more than $5 billion from the government's financial rescue program. As you might imagine, this is a tad perplexing, given that I've never been involved in lending to subprime mortgage borrowers and, as far as I know, nor have any of the folks I now work with.

In fact, many of the Wall Street executives responsible for today's mess have long since moved on -- and, unless they receive a bonus in 2009, will escape the 90% surtax. Unfair? Indeed, it is. The House bill is akin to, say, penalizing the earnings of today's politicians because their predecessors failed to save us from the current economic debacle.

I realize readers won't be shedding tears -- $250,000 is a decent chunk of change (though, trust me, it doesn't buy that great a lifestyle in New York). Still, the bill could cause financial headaches. Some of my colleagues have already spent their bonus or put a big chunk into their 401(k) plan, so finding the money to pay the 90% tax will be a struggle. Some have total incomes that don't come close to $250,000 -- but they breach that level once their spouse's salary and their investment income are included. The bill could also hurt the economy, encouraging banks to cut back on lending, so they can return their bailout money and protect employees from the surtax.

Not buying the hardship angle? Not persuaded that this tax is unfair? Consider this truly searing indictment: A 90% tax is downright stupid, creating bizarre disincentives. Exhibit A? That would be me. Once my total income hits $250,000 for the current calendar year, I will have no incentive to work a single day more in 2009. After all, for every extra dollar of income I earn above $250,000, I will lose 90 cents of the bonus I received earlier this year.

Being somewhat knowledgeable about personal finance, I'm trying to figure out how to finagle this. By minimizing my investment income in 2009 and pushing other income into 2010, I reckon I can delay the day of tax reckoning. But even with that finagling, by mid-October, I will hit $250,000 in total income -- and have no incentive to earn any more income in 2009.

At that point, I plan to ask Citi for an unpaid sabbatical. Forget earning more income. There's no point. Instead, you will find me hunkered down at home, desperately trying not to spend money. This will make entire financial sense for the Clements household. What about the struggling economy? Not so much.

Mr. Clements is director of financial guidance for myFi, a unit of Citi, and the author of "The Little Book of Main Street Money," out in May by Wiley.

23276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New for profit news enterprise on: March 23, 2009, 07:48:15 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/business/media/23global.html?th&emc=th

Overseas reporters have been a casualty of budget-chopping news organizations, leaving an opening for the online start-up GlobalPost. But at a time when many news executives are exploring nonprofit business models to keep specialized reporting flowing, GlobalPost, which made its debut on Jan. 12, is intended to be a moneymaking venture.

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David Blumenfeld
Matt Beynon Rees, shown in Beit Jala, is a former correspondent for Time magazine, and contributes to the for-profit GlobalPost from Jerusalem.
With 65 correspondents worldwide — drawn from a surfeit of experienced reporters eager to continue working in their specialties even as potential employers disappear — GlobalPost has begun offering a mix of news and features that only a handful of other news organizations can rival.

Recent articles, free at GlobalPost.com, included reports on Thailand’s Islamic insurgency and Indian yogis worried about the financial crisis.

That ad-supported reporting is only one part of the GlobalPost business plan. If it is to succeed, it will depend in part on how many people sign up for a separate paid section of the site, which was to have been available in test mode beginning last week but is now expected to go online in the coming days.

Called Passport, it offers access to GlobalPost correspondents, including exclusive reports on business topics of less interest to general audiences, conference calls and meetings with reporters, and breaking news e-mail messages from those journalists.

Passport subscribers, who pay as much as $199 a year, can suggest article ideas. “If you are a member, you have a voice at the editorial meeting,” although the site will decide which stories to pursue, said Charles Sennott, a GlobalPost founder and its executive editor. He said Passport is meant to “create a feeling of community” for subscribers who might otherwise see newsrooms as “impenetrable and fortresslike.”

GlobalPost correspondents, who include the former Washington Post writer Caryle Murphy in Saudi Arabia and a Time magazine correspondent turned novelist, Matt Beynon Rees, in Jerusalem, are paid extra for Passport work. Their basic compensation is $1,000 a month for four articles, plus shares in the venture. The site had 500 applicants for the jobs, Mr. Sennott said.

Only a couple of dozen people have signed up for Passport, said Philip Balboni, GlobalPost’s other founder and the president and chief executive. The site is depending on marketing partnerships to generate subscriptions, some discounted, and hopes to have more than 2,000 by year’s end.

Two months in, the Boston-based company says demand for the free site — the mainstay of the business — is ahead of expectations. It has logged 250,000 unique users who have visited at least once, compared with the 90,000 Mr. Balboni had hoped for by now, and 1.1 million page views, more than half from returning visitors. “People have clearly liked what they’ve seen,” Mr. Balboni said, adding that the site has had visitors from every country except North Korea, Chad and Eritrea.

Advertising remains slow, he acknowledged. Liberty Mutual Insurance signed on for a year, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University has been advertising on a trial basis. “I think it will just take time,” Mr. Balboni said. “We are in an incredible down market.”

More encouragingly, a third revenue stream has been growing, as the company has signed up a growing number of news outlets, including The Daily News and The Boise Weekly of Idaho, to carry its reports and have use of its correspondents.

CBS Radio News recently signed a nonexclusive deal. It will be able to call on GlobalPost correspondents during breaking news, as a backup to its own reporters, said Harvey Nagler, CBS News’s vice president of radio.

Public television’s “Worldfocus” weeknight newscast features reports from GlobalPost correspondents, who carry inexpensive Flip digital video cameras when in the field.

The site was started with $8.5 million from private investors.

Mr. Balboni, who created the New England Cable News network, said he was a passionate defender of for-profit journalism. “I believe deep in my heart and soul that the discipline of the marketplace makes for a stronger organization,” he said. “It gives you a far greater chance to be a self-sustaining enterprise, without having to turn to government or foundations,” which can be mercurial, he said.

Long before the debate about whether newspapers and magazines should be charging for Web content, Mr. Balboni envisioned having consumers pay for at least a part of GlobalPost, he said. It was a lesson he learned after years in the cable TV business, which is supported by subscribers as well as ads. Having created a hybrid model, he said, “now we have to prove it in the marketplace.”

Alan D. Mutter, a media investor who analyzes news-business models at the blog Reflections of a Newsosaur, praised GlobalPost in an interview “for being thoroughly modern in its approach to revenue, in that it understands it won’t be simply advertising or subscriptions.” He added, “They’ve identified every conceivable revenue stream I can think of.”

But questions remain, he said, including how many news organizations still have the budget to pay to use its articles, and whether GlobalPost’s executives can create compelling content that will draw enough subscribers. “I’ve seen other publishers who offered premium content, and the content wasn’t good enough to make you want to write a check,” he said.

“This is definitely a forward-looking model, but it remains to be seen whether the audience materializes and whether they can execute,” Mr. Mutter said, adding that “I think everyone wishes them well because they are pretty close to what the future will be for news publishing.”
23277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Cartel violence growing in US on: March 23, 2009, 07:39:11 AM
Its the NY Slimes, so caveat lector.  For example the canard about the US's gun rights being the cause of the supply of the cartels' grenades, automatic guns, etc.  These are MILITARY weapons whose provenance is most likely MILITARY sources e.g. Central America, Venezuela, etc.  And, btw how did the Zetas get their beginning?  They were trained by the US military-- and the solution, now that the violence comes to America, is to disarm the American people?!?!?!?!  angry angry angry
====================================

TUCSON — Sgt. David Azuelo stepped gingerly over the specks of blood on the floor, took note of the bullet hole through the bedroom skylight, raised an eyebrow at the lack of furniture in the ranch-style house and turned to his squad of detectives investigating one of the latest home invasions in this southern Arizona city.



A 21-year-old man had been pistol-whipped throughout the house, the gun discharging at one point, as the attackers demanded money, the victim reported. His wife had been bathing their 3-month-old son when the intruders arrived.

“At least they didn’t put the gun in the baby’s mouth like we’ve seen before,” Sergeant Azuelo said. That same afternoon this month, his squad was called to the scene of another home invasion, one involving the abduction of a 14-year-old boy.

This city, an hour’s drive north of the Mexican border, is coping with a wave of drug crime the police suspect is tied to the bloody battles between Mexico’s drug cartels and the efforts to stamp them out.

Since officials here formed a special squad last year to deal with home invasions, they have counted more than 200 of them, with more than three-quarters linked to the drug trade. In one case, the intruders burst into the wrong house, shooting and injuring a woman watching television on her couch. In another, in a nearby suburb, a man the police described as a drug dealer was taken from his home at gunpoint and is still missing.

Tucson is hardly alone in feeling the impact of Mexico’s drug cartels and their trade. In the past few years, the cartels and other drug trafficking organizations have extended their reach across the United States and into Canada. Law enforcement authorities say they believe traffickers distributing the cartels’ marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs are responsible for a rash of shootings in Vancouver, British Columbia, kidnappings in Phoenix, brutal assaults in Birmingham, Ala., and much more.

United States law enforcement officials have identified 230 cities, including Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston and Billings, Mont., where Mexican cartels and their affiliates “maintain drug distribution networks or supply drugs to distributors,” as a Justice Department report put it in December. The figure rose from 100 cities reported three years earlier, though Justice Department officials said that may be because of better data collection methods as well as the spread of the organizations.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has asked for National Guard troops at the border. The Obama administration is completing plans to add federal agents along the border, a senior White House official said, but does not anticipate deploying soldiers.

The official said enhanced security measures would include increased use of equipment at the ports of entry to detect weapons carried in cars crossing into Mexico from the United States, and more collaboration with Mexican law enforcement officers to trace weapons seized from crime scenes.

Law enforcement officials on both sides of the border agree that the United States is the source for most of the guns used in the violent drug cartel war in Mexico.

“The key thing is to keep improving on our interdiction of the weapons before they even get in there,” said Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security and the former governor of Arizona, who will be testifying before Congress on Wednesday.

Familiar Signs

Sergeant Azuelo quickly began to suspect that the pistol whipping he was investigating was linked to a drug dispute. Within minutes, his detectives had found a blood-spattered scale, marijuana buds and leaves and a bundle of cellophane wrap used in packing marijuana.

Most often, police officials say, the invasions result from an unpaid debt, sometimes involving as little as a few thousand dollars. But simple greed can be at work, too: one set of criminals learns of a drug load, then “rips” it and sells it.

“The amount of violence has drastically increased in the last 6 to 12 months, especially in the area of home invasions, “ said Lt. Michael O’Connor of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department here. “The people we have arrested, a high percentage are from Mexico.”

The violence in the United States does not compare with what is happening in Mexico, where the cartels have been thriving for years. Forbes recently listed one of Mexico’s most notorious kingpins, Joaquin Guzmán, on its list of the world’s billionaires. (No. 701, out of 793, with a fortune worth $1 billion, the magazine said.)

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

But a crackdown begun more than two years ago by President Felipe Calderón, coupled with feuds over turf and control of the organizations, has set off an unprecedented wave of killings in Mexico. More than 7,000 people, most of them connected to the drug trade or law enforcement, have died since January 2008. Many of the victims were tortured. Beheadings have become common.


At times, the police have been overwhelmed by the sheer firepower in the hands of drug traffickers, who have armed themselves with assault rifles and even grenades.

Although overall violent crime has dropped in several cities on or near the border — Tucson is an exception, reporting a rise in homicides and other serious crime last year — Arizona appears to be bearing the brunt of smuggling-related violence. Some 60 percent of illicit drugs found in the United States — principally cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine — entered through the border in this state.

The city’s home-invasion squad, a sergeant and five detectives working nearly around the clock, was organized in April. Phoenix assembled a similar unit in September to investigate kidnappings related to drug and human smuggling. In the last two years, the city has recorded some 700 cases, some involving people held against their will in stash houses and others abducted.

The state police also have a new human-smuggling squad that focuses on the proliferation of drop houses, where migrants are kept and often beaten and raped until they pay ever-escalating smuggling fees.

“Five years ago a home invasion was almost unheard of,” said Assistant Chief Roberto Villaseñor of the Tucson Police Department. “It was rare.”

Web of Crime

Tying the street-level violence in the United States to the cartels is difficult, law enforcement experts say, because the cartels typically distribute their illicit goods through a murky network of regional and local cells made up of Mexican immigrants and United States citizens who send cash and guns to Mexico through an elaborate chain.

The cartels “may have 10 cells in Chicago, and they may not even know each other,” said Michael Braun, a former chief of operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Elizabeth W. Kempshall, who is in charge of the drug agency’s office in Phoenix, said the kind of open warfare in some Mexican border towns — where some Mexican soldiers patrol in masks so they will not be recognized later — has not spilled over into the United States in part because the cartels do not want to risk a response from law enforcement here that would disrupt their business.

But Mrs. Kempshall and other experts said the havoc on the Mexican side of the border might be having an impact on the drug trade here, contributing to “trafficker on trafficker” violence.

For one thing, they say, the war on the Mexican side and the new border enforcement are disrupting the flow of illicit drugs arriving in the United States. The price of cocaine, for instance, a barometer of sorts for the supply available, has surged.

With drugs in tighter supply, drug bosses here and in Mexico take a much harder line when debts are owed or drugs are stolen or confiscated, D.E.A. officials said.

Although much of the violence is against people involved in the drug trade, law enforcement authorities said such crime should not be viewed as a “self-cleaning oven,” as one investigator put it, because of the danger it poses to the innocent. It has also put a strain on local departments.

Several hours after Sergeant Azuelo investigated the home invasion involving the pistol whipping, his squad was called to one blocks away.

This time, the intruders ransacked the house before taking a 14-year-old boy captive. Gang investigators recognized the house as having a previous association with a street gang suspected of involvement in drug dealing.

The invaders demanded drugs and $10,000, and took the boy to make their point. He was released within the hour, though the family told investigators it had not paid a ransom.

“You don’t know anybody who is going to pay that money?” the boy said his abductors kept asking him.

The boy, showing the nonchalance of his age, shrugged off his ordeal.

“No, I’m not scared,” he said after being questioned by detectives, who asked that his name not be used because the investigation was continuing.

Growing Networks

Not all the problems are along the border.

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

Page 3 of 3)



The Atlanta area, long a transportation hub for legitimate commerce, has emerged as a new staging ground for drug traffickers taking advantage of its web of freeways and blending in with the wave of Mexican immigrants who have flocked to work there in the past decade.



Last August, in one of the grislier cases in the South, the police in Shelby County, Ala., just outside Birmingham, found the bodies of five men with their throats cut. It is believed they were killed over a $450,000 debt owed to another drug trafficking faction in Atlanta.

The spread of the Mexican cartels, longtime distributors of marijuana, has coincided with their taking over cocaine distribution from Colombian cartels. Those cartels suffered setbacks when American authorities curtailed their trading routes through the Caribbean and South Florida.

Since then, the Colombians have forged alliances with Mexican cartels to move cocaine, which is still largely produced in South America, through Mexico and into the United States.

The Mexicans have also taken over much of the methamphetamine business, producing the drug in “super labs” in Mexico. The number of labs in the United States has been on the decline.

While the cartel networks have spread across the United States, the border areas remain the most worrisome. At the scene of the pistol-whipping here, Sergeant Azuelo and his team methodically investigated.

Their suspicions grew as they walked through the house and noticed things that seemed familiar to them from stash houses they had encountered: a large back room whose size and proximity to an alley seemed well-suited to bundling marijuana, the wife of the victim reporting that they had no bank accounts and dealt with everything in cash, the victim’s father saying over and over that his son was “no saint” and describing his son’s addiction problems with prescription drugs.

A digital scale with blood on it was found in a truck bed on the driveway, raising suspicion among the detectives that the victim was trying to hide it.

The house, the wife told them, had been invaded about a month ago, but the attackers left empty-handed. She did not call the police then, she said, because nothing was taken.

Finally, they saw the cellophane wrap and drug paraphernalia and obtained a search warrant to go through the house more meticulously.

The attackers “were not very sophisticated,” Sergeant Azuelo said, but they somehow knew what might be in the house. “For me, the question is how much they got away with,” he said. “The family may never tell.”

All in all, Sergeant Azuelo said, it was a run-of-the-mill call in a week that would include at least three other such robberies.

“I think this is the tip of the iceberg,” Detective Kris Bollingmo said as he shined a light through the garage. “The problem is only going to get worse.”

“We are,” Sergeant Azuelo added, “keeping the finger in the dike.”
23278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iran starting nuke arms race on: March 23, 2009, 07:21:05 AM
By AMIR TAHERI
In the capitals of Western nations, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man regarded as the father of the Pakistani atom bomb, is regarded as a maverick with a criminal past. In addition to his well-documented role in developing a nuclear device for Pakistan, he helped Iran and North Korea with their nuclear programs.

But since his release from house arrest a month ago, Mr. Khan has entertained a string of official visitors from across the Middle East. All come with messages of sympathy; and some governments in that region are looking to him for the knowledge and advice they need to fast track their own illicit nuclear projects.

Make no mistake: The Middle East may be on the verge of a nuclear arms race triggered by the inability of the West to stop Iran's quest for a bomb. Since Tehran's nuclear ambitions hit the headlines five years ago, 25 countries -- 10 of them in the greater Middle East -- have announced plans to build nuclear power plants for the first time.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and Oman) set up a nuclear exploratory commission in 2007 to prepare a "strategic report" for submission to the alliance's summit later this year. But Saudi Arabia is not waiting for the report. It opened negotiations with the U.S. in 2008 to obtain "a nuclear capacity," ostensibly for "peaceful purposes."

Egypt also signed a nuclear cooperation agreement, with France, last year. Egyptian leaders make no secret of the fact that the decision to invest in a costly nuclear industry was prompted by fears of Iran. "A nuclear armed Iran with hegemonic ambitions is the greatest threat to Arab nations today," President Hosni Mubarak told the Arab summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia two weeks ago.

Last November, France concluded a similar nuclear cooperation accord with the UAE, promising to offer these oil-rich lands "a complete nuclear industry." According to the foreign ministry in Paris, the French are building a military base close to Abu Dhabi ostensibly to protect the nuclear installations against "hostile action," including the possibility of "sensitive material" being stolen by terrorist groups or smuggled to Iran.

The UAE, to be sure, has signed a cooperation agreement with the U.S. forswearing the right to enrich uranium or produce plutonium in exchange for American nuclear technology and fuel. The problem is that the UAE's commercial hub, the sheikhdom of Dubai, has been the nerve center of illicit trade with Iran for decades, according to Western and Arab intelligence. Through Dubai, stolen U.S. technology and spent fuel needed for producing raw material for nuclear weapons could be smuggled to Iran.

Qatar, the smallest GCC member by population, is also toying with the idea of creating a nuclear capability. According to the Qatari media, it is shopping around in the U.S., France, Germany and China.

Newly liberated Iraq has not been spared by the new nuclear fever. Recall the history. With help from France, Iraq developed a nuclear capacity in the late 1970s to counterbalance its demographic inferiority vis-à-vis Iran. In 1980, Israel destroyed Osirak, the French-built nuclear center close to Baghdad, but Saddam Hussein restored part of that capacity between 1988 and 1991. What he rebuilt was dismantled by the United Nations' inspectors between 1992 and 2003. But with Saddam dead and buried, some Iraqis are calling for a revival of the nation's nuclear program as a means of deterring "bullying and blackmail from the mullahs in Tehran," as parliamentarian Saleh al-Mutlaq has put it.

"A single tactical nuclear attack on Basra and Baghdad could wipe out a third of our population," a senior Iraqi official told me, on condition of anonymity. Since almost 90% of Iraqis live within 90 miles of the Iranian border, the "fear is felt in every town and village," he says.

Tehran, meanwhile, is playing an active part in proliferation. So far, Syria and Sudan have shown interest in its nuclear technology, setting up joint scientific committees with Iran, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. Iranian media reports say Tehran is also setting up joint programs with a number of anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America, notably Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, bringing proliferation to America's backyard.

According to official reports in Tehran, in 2006 and 2007 the Islamic Republic also initialed agreements with China to build 20 nuclear-power stations in Iran. The first of these stations is already under construction at Dar-Khuwayn, in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan close to the Iraqi border.

There is no doubt that the current nuclear race in the Middle East is largely prompted by the fear of a revolutionary Iran using an arsenal as a means of establishing hegemony in the region. Iran's rivals for regional leadership, especially Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are aware of the propaganda appeal of the Islamic Republic's claim of being " the first Muslim superpower" capable of defying the West and rivaling it in scientific and technological fields. In that context, Tehran's development of long-range missiles and the Muslim world's first space satellite are considered political coups.

Mohamed al Quwaihis, a member of Saudi Arabia's appointed parliament, the Shura Council, warns of Iran's growing influence. Addressing the Shura Council earlier this month, he described Iranian interferences in Arab affairs as "overt," and claimed that Iran is "endeavoring to seduce the Gulf States, and recruit some of the citizens of these countries to work for its interests."

The Shura devoted a recent session to "the Iranian threat," insisting that unless Tehran abandoned its nuclear program, Saudi Arabia should lead the Arabs in developing their own "nuclear response." The debate came just days after the foreign ministry in Riyadh issued a report identifying the Islamic Republic's nuclear program as the "principal security threat to Arab nations."

A four-nation Arab summit held in the Saudi capital on March 11 endorsed that analysis, giving the green light for a pan-Arab quest for "a complete nuclear industry." Such a project would draw support from Pakistan, whose nuclear industry was built with Arab money. Mr. Khan and his colleagues have an opportunity to repay that debt by helping Arabs step on a ladder that could lead them to the coveted "threshold" to becoming nuclear powers in a few years' time.

Earlier this month, Mohamed ElBaradei, the retiring head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has become a blunt instrument in preventing a nuclear arms race. Meanwhile, the U.S., France, Russia and China are competing for nuclear contracts without developing safeguards to ensure that projects which start as peaceful undertakings are not used as cover for clandestine military activities.

The Obama administration should take the growing threat of nuclear proliferation seriously. It should try to provide leadership in forging a united response by the major powers to what could become the world's No. 1 security concern within the next few years.

Mr. Taheri's new book, "The Persian Night: Iran Under The Khomeinist Revolution," is published by Encounter Books.
23279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: March 23, 2009, 07:09:10 AM
When does a single policy blunder herald much larger economic damage? Sometimes it's hard to know ahead of time. Few in Congress thought the Smoot-Hawley tariff was a disaster in 1930, but it led to retaliation and a collapse of world trade. The question amid Washington's AIG bonus panic is whether Congress's war on private contracts and the financial system is a similarly destructive moment.

It is certainly one of the more amazing and senseless acts of political retribution in American history. In its bipartisan rage, the House saw fit last week not merely to punish the employees of AIG's Financial Products unit that the company still needs to safely unwind credit default swaps. The Members voted, 328-93, to slap a 90% tax on the bonuses of anyone at every bank receiving $5 billion in TARP money who earns more than $250,000 a year. A draft Senate version is even broader. Never mind if the bonus was earned last year or earlier, or under a legally binding employment contract. The confiscatory tax will apply ex post facto.

Never mind, too, that such punitive laws were expressly deplored by America's Founders. In Federalist 44, James Madison warned that "Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligation of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation."

In 1827 in Ogden v. Saunders, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a similar warning about legislative limits under Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution: "The states are forbidden to pass any bill of attainder or ex post facto law, by which a man shall be punished criminally or penally by loss of life of his liberty, property, or reputation for an act which, at the time of its commission, violated no existing law of the land," wrote Justice Bushrod Washington.

"Why did the authors of the Constitution turn their attention to this subject, which, at the first blush, would appear to be peculiarly fit to be left to the discretion of those who have the police and good government of the state under their management and control? The only answer to be given is because laws of this character are oppressive, unjust, and tyrannical, and as such are condemned by the universal sentence of civilized man."

Yes, Article I, Section 10 applies to the states, and this is a federal law. Congress may also figure it avoids the "bill of attainder" objection by applying the law to individuals at several companies receiving TARP money. But Congress's willingness to wreak such vengeance against a specific class of Americans is still as offensive as a matter of principle as Justice Washington and the Federalist Papers noted. The Founders feared the punitive whim of the legislative mob as much as they did the tyranny of a King.

The House legislation may also be unconstitutional on equal protection grounds given that it treats a homogeneous group of individuals differently depending on which companies they work for. It is one thing to treat the companies that receive federal funds differently from those that don't. But the individuals receiving bonuses may have nothing to do with the decision to receive TARP money. The House's 90% tax on some bankers but not others is only a step away from deciding to impose a higher tax rate on employees of any company out of political favor -- say, tobacco companies, or in the next Republican Congress, the New York Times Co.

Which brings us to the Smoot-Hawley analogy. With such a sweeping assault on contracts and punitive taxation, Congress is introducing an element of political risk to economic decisions that is typical of Argentina or Russia. The sanctity of U.S. contracts has long been one of America's competitive advantages in luring capital, a counterpoint to our lottery tort system and costly regulation. Meanwhile, the 90% tax rate marks a return to the pre-Reagan era when Congress and the political class behaved as if taxes didn't matter to growth or incentives. It is a revival of the philosophy of redistributionist "justice" of the 1930s, when capital went on strike for an entire decade.

The financial system will suffer in particular, just when the Obama Administration is desperately seeking more private capital to ride out future losses. Facing such limits on the ability to reward talent, every bank CEO will try to pay off the TARP as soon as possible, whether or not this leaves the bank with a weaker capital base. Hedge funds and other investors that Treasury needs for its new Public-Private Investment Program, or for the Federal Reserve's TALF, will also be warier, if they'll play at all. Treasury may promise nothing punitive for these programs, but that's also what it said about the TARP.

The other Smoot-Hawley comparison relates to our new President. Herbert Hoover sent mixed signals about the tariff until he finally bent to a panicked GOP Congress. President Obama has behaved in the past week as if he can appease and "channel" Congressional anger without being run over himself. So not only did he incite the Members last Monday, he welcomed the House bill on Thursday. By the weekend, cooler White House heads were whispering that the mob had gone too far, but it will take more than words to kill this terrible legislation. Mr. Obama will have to fire a gun in the air -- which means threatening a veto.

On Inauguration Day, we wrote that our young President has a first-class intellect and temperament. Our question was whether he is tough enough. So far the answer is no. He has failed to stand up to a Congress of his own party on anything difficult -- from stimulus priorities, to earmarks, to protectionism against Mexican trucks. Mr. Obama needs to face down the AIG mob, or his Presidency may be its next victim.
23280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: Federalist 48; Patrick Henry; Reagan on: March 23, 2009, 06:53:29 AM
"It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it. After discriminating, therefore, in theory, the several classes of power, as they may in their nature be legislative, executive, or judiciary, the next and most difficult task is to provide some practical security for each, against the invasion of the others."

--James Madison, Federalist No. 48

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." --Patrick Henry

"The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us. Business doesn't pay taxes.... Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business. Begin with the food and fiber raised in the farm, to the ore drilled in a mine, to the oil and gas from out of the ground, whatever it may be -- through the processing, through the manufacturing, on out to the retailer's license. If the tax cannot be included in the price of the product, no one along that line can stay in business." --Ronald Reagan
23281  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / C-Kaju Dog (Dean Webster) honored on: March 23, 2009, 12:36:12 AM

http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/1245427.html



In Fridays Fresno Bee:

Red Cross to honor 17 Tulare-Kings heroes

The Tulare-Kings American Red Cross chapter will honor 17 "real
heroes" at a breakfast this month.

Those selected displayed determination, selflessness and courage in
their work in their communities, said Marie Davis, the chapter's
acting chief executive officer.

Those who will be honored and their categories are: Jacob Cabrera,
Good Samaritan-Youth (Tulare); Jeremy Cabrera, Good Samaritan-Youth
(Tulare); Steven Steward, Good Samaritan-Youth (Tulare); Sally Ortiz,
Good Samaritan-Adult (Lemoore); Dean Webster, Medical Hero (Lemoore);
Teresa Lovero, Fire Rescue (Visalia Fire); Tony Colbert, Fire Rescue
(Visalia Fire); Nicholas Branch, Fire Rescue (Visalia Fire); Eric
Sparshott, Fire Rescue (American Ambulance); Robbie Bowers, Fire
Rescue (American Ambulance); Rodnie Roberts, Spirit of the Red Cross
(Reedley); Jerri Corona, Educator Hero (Visalia); Glenn Fabros,
Military Hero (Lemoore); Staci Brock-Wood, Animal Rescue (Visalia);
Clay Stevens, Water Rescue (Tulare); and Aaron Jacobson, Wilderness
Rescue (Lemoore).  The recipients will be honored at the chapter's
Real Heroes Breakfast on March 25 at the Marriott Hotel in Visalia.

23282  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Team Dog Brothers MMA? on: March 23, 2009, 12:32:30 AM
"I see an opening for someone who thinks outside the Box to begin training a dynasty of fighters That can move differently and strike more effectively both from the standing and the ground position."

What a coincidence!  Me too!!!  cheesy

"one Thing i have always wondered about is  trapping hands, why aren't fighters in MMA using more Trapping hands, the gloves are designed to allow such attachments?"

I offer a part of my approach to trapping in the Running Dog DVD. wink

 
23283  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Chris Poznik speaks: on: March 22, 2009, 09:09:08 PM
Hello all:

Chris Poznik here.  I'm over at Marc's house and he just showed me the almost final promo clip and asked me to post here some things that I said to him:

I thought a lot of information was conveyed for a promo clip.  I really liked the footage of Marc with the old Filipino master.  In my opinion, the strikes he shows are very practical.  I like the angles he uses a lot and think they show a good understanding of how the human body works.  I think some of the strikes can do a good job of breaking a collarbone.  I like Marc's blending of these strikes with the grappling.  I really like the naturalness of these strikes instead of being constricted by some form.

The Tree that Walks,
Chris Poznik
23284  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Two stabbed in knife fight on: March 22, 2009, 08:40:01 PM
Police: Two stabbed in knife fight

Last Edited: Saturday, 21 Mar 2009, 10:20 PM EDT
Created On: Saturday, 21 Mar 2009, 5:03 PM EDT

ARLINGTON, Mass. (myfoxboston) - Two men stabbed each other multiple times in a fight on the front lawn of an Arlington home early Friday morning, police said.

Michael O'Donnell, 35, of Somerville, Mass., told police an unknown man knocked on the door of his girlfriend's Homer Road home at about 2 a.m., and punched him multiple times and dragged him onto the front lawn.

The suspect was later identified as David Nagle, 33, of Arlington, Mass. Police said Nagle then proceeded to stab O'Donnell with a knife.   O'Donnell says his girlfriend ran back inside the house and brought out a pocketknife, which O'Donnell then used to stab Nagle several times in the midsection, according to police.

Nagle was taken to Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass., where he was in fair condition Saturday night. O'Donnell had stab wounds on his arms and hands. O'Donnell was arrested and charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. Nagle was arrested and charged with attempted murder and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
23285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: General to General on: March 22, 2009, 11:42:21 AM
By YOCHI J. DREAZEN in Washington and MATTHEW ROSENBERG in Islamabad
The Obama administration's hopes of stabilizing Pakistan increasingly rest on the strong bond between military chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen and Gen. Ashfaq Kayani.

The two men spoke daily during the recent political crisis, in which growing opposition protests threatened to undermine the government until Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari -- also under pressure from Gen. Kayani and senior U.S. officials -- made significant concessions.

During the crisis. Gen. Kayani assured Adm. Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, that he wasn't contemplating a military coup, according to U.S. officials. These officials said Adm. Mullen trusted the assurances -- but they acknowledged that some senior U.S. military officials harbor doubts about Gen. Kayani's capabilities and intentions.

View Full Image

Associated Press
Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, right, greets a troop. He and Adm. Mike Mullen have developed a bond that U.S. officials say aids efforts to ensure Pakistan's stability and its support in fighting militants along the border with Afghanistan.
Gen. Kayani ultimately helped resolve the crisis by mediating between Mr. Zardari and his chief rival, Nawaz Sharif, U.S. and Pakistani officials said.

The relationship offers potential dividends for both countries. American officials want Islamabad to take stronger steps against the militants working to destabilize Pakistan and Afghanistan, and need Gen. Kayani's help as an ally in the fight, which they say he supports. Pakistan wants to continue receiving American financial aid and military assistance, which requires maintaining close ties with Adm. Mullen's Pentagon.

It is a relationship born of necessity. Mr. Zardari is also seen as committed to battling militants, but his government is fragile. Many Pentagon officials believe the government will fall within the next few months, although civilian U.S. officials say the president could hold on.

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Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
U.S. military chief Adm. Mike Mullen with troops.
As an ally, Gen. Kayani is "seen as the safer bet, because he'll probably be the last one standing," a senior U.S. military official said.

But the U.S. reliance on Gen. Kayani carries risks. During the Bush years, U.S. officials had a similarly warm relationship with Gen. Kayani's predecessor as army chief, Pervez Musharraf, and sent him more than $10 billion in American aid. In the end, Mr. Musharraf, who was also president, disappointed the U.S. by failing to order a broad crackdown on the Islamic extremists in his country.

"It's a complete replay of what took place with Musharraf," said C. Christine Fair, a senior political scientist with Rand Corp. and former United Nations political officer in Kabul. "We have a love affair with whichever chief of army staff is in office at any one time until they thoroughly disappoint."

In their public and private comments, U.S. and Pakistani officials say such concerns are unfounded.

"Gen. Kayani wants the system to work," Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in an interview, adding that the officer's outlook was "pro-democracy."

U.S. military and civilian policy makers say Gen. Kayani shares their belief that Islamic extremism poses a threat to Pakistan's survival and has taken steps that show he is serious about tackling the problem. In September, he replaced the head of Pakistan's intelligence service, which reports to him, and which U.S. officials say has long maintained ties to the Taliban. Pakistani officials say they only maintain contacts with some elements of the Taliban and no longer directly support the militants.

"He has done what he said he was going to do," Adm. Mullen told reporters earlier this year. "Gen. Kayani has not misled me at all."

In an interview, a senior Pentagon official praised Gen. Kayani for keeping tens of thousands of Pakistani troops deployed against Islamic militants in restive Bajaur province, instead of shifting them to the country's tense border with India.

Gen. Kayani is a chain smoker, while Adm. Mullen wakes up before 5 a.m. each day to work out before he arrives at the Pentagon. They also have professional differences: Gen. Kayani once ran Pakistan's main spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence  shocked shocked shocked while Adm. Mullen has spent his entire career in the regular military.

But they have forged strong ties since becoming their nations' top uniformed military officers in 2007.

"There's increasing confidence," said Talaat Masood, a Pakistani military analyst and retired general. "They trust each other in a way, even if they know are certain things that the Pakistan army will not do," he said -- specifically that Pakistan won't drastically reduce its troop strength along the border with India.

Since taking office, Gen. Kayani has cheered U.S. officials by putting experienced, nonideological officers in charge of two of Pakistan's most important security arms: the Inter-Services Intelligence and the 60,000-strong Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force that is taking the lead in battling the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

More recently, Gen. Kayani played a crucial role in defusing last week's political crisis, which centered on Mr. Zardari's refusal to reinstate the former chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court.

Pakistani officials said that Gen. Kayani repeatedly met with Mr. Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani.  "Initially, he confined himself to polite advice, but his tenor became firmer at the end. It was the Kayani model -- invisible, but around," said Jhangir Karamat, a retired chief of army staff.

—Zahid Hussain in Islamabad contributed to this article.
Write to Yochi J. Dreazen at yochi.dreazen@wsj.com and
23286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO's regulatory czar on: March 22, 2009, 09:23:07 AM
Yet another czar!

Here's a taste of his thinking:  http://www.stopsunstein.com/media/pdf/Sunstein%20quote%20file.pdf

23287  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: March 22, 2009, 08:56:14 AM
A fine time yesterday.  We started with Triangle from the Third Dimension theory, illustrated it with Variation 5, and took the footwork learned to Zirconia based "Kali Tudo" (tm)
23288  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: March 22, 2009, 08:53:16 AM
http://www.kvbc.com/Global/story.asp...&nav=menu107_2

A local couple came home from work last Saturday night to find not one but five people burglarizing their home. As News 3's Anita Roman reports, the husband and wife took matters into their own hands before they called the police. Emery Childress III and his wife Brenda knew right away that something was wrong.

"Saturday evening I picked my wife up from work. She was going to take the evening off. We pulled up to the garage, we opened the garage door. When the garage was half-way up, the dogs ran out to us. And normally, the dogs are inside the house.  He went in first so I opened the door and let him in," continues Brenda. "And then I shut the door and...it only took about three seconds and I heard him say...Freeze. I use foul language - I say get on the ground, drop it. I walk over...to these guys...and I have them at gun point."

Inside their Henderson home were four perpetrators, all holding valuable weapons: guns, knives, and even a sword that belonged to them.

"I then entered from the garage, came around the corner where he had two suspects laying down on the floor," says Brenda. "They had our .45 down there and I picked it up."

While Emery's wife held the two perpetrators at gun point, he ran outside with the other gun and tried to catch two more that were waiting outside in an SUV.

"We had two adults and two juvenile girls were arrested," confirms Keith Paul, Henderson Police Department. "There is one suspect that is outstanding."

27-year-old Billy Hicks was booked on conspiracy; 18-year-old Avion Wilkins was booked on burglary, home invasion, conspiracy, and grand larceny of a firearm; and a 17-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl were taken to the Clark County Juvenile Hall.

"It goes through my mind if, I did anything differently, maybe I would have got shot with my own gun when I entered my house," ponders Emery.

The Childresses know what they did was brave and Henderson Police agree. But if there is the possibility that someone is in your home, police ask that you call 911.  The fifth burglar, who is on the run, escaped with jewelry and money. If have any information on this case, please call the Henderson Police Department.
23289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Austrian economics called it; Gov. Sanford on: March 22, 2009, 03:20:34 AM

http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=2I0QN-FYkpw&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Enews%2Ecom%2Eau%2Fperthnow%2Fstory%2F0%2C21598%2C24705811%2D5014325%2C00%2Ehtml&feature=player_embedded

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

Gov. Sanford gets it right too on a different facet of the clusterfcuk.

By MARK SANFORD
Columbia, S.C.

America's states are laboratories of democracy. They are both affected by, and relevant to, the larger national debate. What we've found in our own corner of the country is that carrying a substantial debt load limits our options when it comes to running government.

A recent report by the American Legislative Exchange Council ranked us 47th worst in the nation for annual debt service as a percentage of tax revenue. Our state dedicates nearly 11% of its annual tax revenue to paying debt. On top of that, South Carolina has another $20 billion in unfunded, long-term political promises for pensions and other liabilities. The state budget has already been cut four times in recent months as the national economic downturn has impacted South Carolina and driven down tax revenue.

President Barack Obama recently signed a "stimulus" bill that will spend about $2 billion through "programmatic means" in South Carolina. In other words, the federal government will put this money directly into existing funding formulas and programs such as Medicaid. But there is an additional $700 million that I as governor have influence over, and it is the disposition of this money that has drawn the national spotlight to South Carolina.

Here's the background: Before the stimulus bill passed, I asked for states not to be bailed out. After it was signed into law, I said that a state bailout would create more problems than it solved, and that we shouldn't spend money we don't have. That debate was lost, so I looked for a reasonable middle ground. I asked the president for his support in using the $700 million to pay down state debt.

If we're going to spend money we don't have at the federal level, it becomes all the more important that our state balance sheet is in good order -- particularly if this is a protracted downturn. But many people do not realize that the stimulus money runs out in 24 months -- at which point South Carolina will be forced to find a new source of funding to sustain the new level of spending, or to make sharp cuts. Sure, I could kick the can down the road; in two years, I'll be safely out of office. But it would be irresponsible.

If South Carolina could use stimulus money to pay down debt, in two years we will be able to spend, cut taxes or invest even if the federal government can no longer provide more money -- not a remote possibility. In fact, paying debt related to education would free up over $162 million in debt service in the first two years and save roughly $125 million in interest payments over the next 13 years -- just as paying off a family's mortgage early frees up money for other uses.

When you're in a hole, the first order of business is stop digging. South Carolina is in a hole, and it's not a shallow one. Spending stimulus money on ongoing programs would mean 10% of our entire state budget would be paid for with one-time federal funds -- the largest recorded level in state history.

Also, spending stimulus money will delay needed state restructuring. General Motors recently found itself in a similar spot. It needs to be restructured if it is to prosper, but a federal bailout enabled it to put off hard decisions. Likewise, taking federal stimulus money will only postpone changes essential to South Carolina's prosperity. Though well-intended, it forestalls hard choices we must make.

One of Mr. Obama's central campaign themes was his pledge to do away with politics of the past. In his inaugural address, he proclaimed "an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

This idea connected with millions of voters, myself included. I've always believed ideas should rise and fall on their merits. In fact, I saw such historical significance in his candidacy and the change he spoke of that I published an op-ed on it before South Carolina's presidential primary last year. It was not an endorsement, but it did note the historic nature of his candidacy and the potential positive change in tone it represented. That potential may now be disappearing.

Last week I reached out to the president, asking for a federal waiver from restrictions on stimulus money. I got a most unusual response. Before I even received an acknowledgment of the request from the White House, I got word that the Democratic National Committee was launching campaign-style TV attack-ads against me for making it.

Is this the new brand of politics we were promised? Instead of engaging with me and other governors on the merits of our dissent, I am to be attacked in television ads? In the end, I just don't believe a problem created by too much debt will be solved by piling on more debt. This doesn't strike me as an unreasonable or extremist position.

Nevertheless, the White House declined my request for a waiver yesterday afternoon. That's unfortunate. But in coming months we'll continue advancing the debate at the state level about the merits of debt repayment. The fact remains that while we'd all like to spend unlimited dollars on the very real needs that exist in our state, we must spend in the context of what is sustainable.

Mr. Sanford, a Republican, is the governor of South Carolina.
23290  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm): The Running Dog Game on: March 22, 2009, 03:07:43 AM
I just watched the master on this and am pleased to report another outstanding job from Ron "Night Owl" Gabriel.

In this case there was also the tech challenge of integrating footage shot in mini-DV and HD.

I liked the menu footage so much that I asked Ron to add it to the promo clip-- which should be up by Monday or Tuesday.
23291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Catch and release on: March 22, 2009, 03:05:11 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...102255_pf.html


--------

Excerpt from article:

One of those Mahmoud's men arrested was Salah Khdeir.

He spent seven months in Bucca after soldiers discovered four mines tucked in his truck. He returned to the prison in 2008 after he was caught burying bombs destined for a U.S. patrol. He was released this month. Five days later, he was arrested again, after a roadside bomb that police say resembled his handiwork detonated near Garma.

Innocent, Khdeir declared at the police station, shaking his head.
"I'm a peaceful man," the gaunt 22-year-old added.

"He's an expert at planting bombs," Mahmoud answered.

After Khdeir left, Mahmoud handed out a letter he said Khdeir had sent his brother.

"If you think I abandoned the jihad, I say that I have paid homage to God and with his will, I will do everything," he wrote in childish Arabic, the script barely legible.

He had signed the letter, "Salah, the roadside bomb."
23292  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: March 21, 2009, 09:27:29 PM
Forgive me a moment of shamelss marketing here, but one of the Vid-lessons available to DBMAA member is based upon the Bando two man yoga with a stick for shoulder health. 

"the shoulder/scapula/thoracic chest wall system."

EXACTLY so.
23293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nobel Laureate Gary Becker on: March 21, 2009, 01:53:52 AM
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
"What can we do that would be beneficial? [One thing] is lower corporate taxes and businesses taxes and maybe taxes in general. Particularly, you want to lower the tax on capital so you raise the after-tax return to investing and get more investing going on."

Gary Becker, the winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, is in New York to speak to a special meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society on the global meltdown. He has agreed to sit down to chat with me on the subject of his lecture.

 
Ismael RoldanSlumped in a soft chair in a noisy hotel coffee lounge, the 78-year-old University of Chicago professor is relaxed and remarkably humble for a guy who has achieved so much. As I pepper him with the economic and financial riddles of our time, I am impressed by how many times his answers, delivered in a pronounced Brooklyn accent, include an "I think" and sometimes even an "I don't know the answer to that." It is a reminder of why he is so highly valued. In contrast to a number of other big-name practitioners of the dismal science, he is a solid empiricist genuinely in search of answers -- not the job as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. What he sees is what you get.

What Mr. Becker has seen over a career spanning more than five decades is that free markets are good for human progress. And at a time when increasing government intervention in the economy is all the rage, he insists that economic liberals must not withdraw from the debate simply because their cause, for now, appears quixotic.

As a young academic in 1956, Mr. Becker wrote an important paper against conscription. He was discouraged from publishing it because, at the time, the popular view was that the military draft could never be abolished. Of course it was, and looking back, he says, "that taught me a lesson." Today as Washington appears unstoppable in its quest for more power and lovers of liberty are accused of tilting at windmills, he says it is no time to concede.

Mr. Becker sees the finger prints of big government all over today's economic woes. When I ask him about the sources of the mania in housing prices, the first culprit he names is the Fed. Low interest rates, he says, were "partly, maybe mainly, due to the Fed's policy of keeping [its] interest rates very low during 2002-2004." A second reason rates were low was the "high savings rates primarily from Asia and also from the rest of the world."

"People debate the relative importance of the two and I don't think we know exactly," Mr. Becker admits. But what is clear is that "when you have low interest rates, any long-lived assets tend to go up in price because they are based upon returns accruing over many years. When interest rates are low you don't discount these returns very much and you get high asset prices."

On top of that, Mr. Becker says, there were government policies aimed at "extending the scope of homeownership in the United States to low-credit, low-income families." This was done through "the Community Reinvestment Act in the '70s and then Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac later on" and it put many unqualified borrowers into the mix.

The third effect, Mr. Becker says, was the "bubble mentality." By this "I mean that much of the additional lending and borrowing was based on expectations that prices would continue to rise at rates we now recognize, and should have recognized then, were unsustainable."

Could this behavior be considered rational? "There is a lot of debate in economics about whether we can understand bubbles within a rational framework. There are models where you can do it, but it's not easy," he says. What he does seem sure about is that "the lending would not have continued unless there was this expectation that prices would continue to rise and therefore one could refinance these assets through the higher prices." That mentality was at least partly related to Fed action, he says, because the low interest rates "generated an increase in prices and I think that helped generate some of this excess of optimism."

Mr. Becker says that the market-clearing process, so important to recovery, is well underway. "Construction in new residential housing is way down and prices are way down. Maybe 25% down. Lower prices stimulate demand, reduced construction reduces supply."

That's the good news. But he complains about "counterproductive" government policies "designed to lower mortgage rates to stimulate demand." He says he was against the Bush Treasury's idea of capping mortgage rates (which was only floated) and he has "opposed the mortgage plan of President Obama." "It goes against both these adjustments . . . it would hold up prices and increase construction. I think that's a bad idea at this time."

Yet the professor is no laissez-faire ideologue. He says we have to think about what the government can do to "moderate the hit to the real economy," and he says it should start with "the first law of medicine: Do no harm." Instead it has done harmful things, and chief among them has been the "inconsistent policies with the large institutions . . . We let some big banks fail, like Lehman Brothers. We let less-good banks, big [ones] like Bear Stearns, sort of get bailed out and now we bailed out AIG, an insurance company."

Mr. Becker says that he opposed the "implicit protection" that the government gave to Bear Stearns bondholders to the tune of "$30 billion or so." So I wonder if letting Lehman Brothers go belly up was a good idea. "I'm not sure it was a bad idea, aside from the inconsistency." He points out that "the good assets were bought by Nomura and a number of other banks," and he refers to a paper by Stanford economics professor John Taylor showing that the market initially digested the Lehman failure with calm. It was only days later, Mr. Taylor maintains, that the market panicked when it saw more uncertainty from the Treasury. Mr. Becker says Mr. Taylor's work is "not 100% persuasive but it sort of suggest that maybe the Lehman collapse wasn't the cause of the eventual collapse" of the credit markets.

He returns to the perniciousness of Treasury's inconsistency. "I do believe that in a risky environment which is what we are in now, with the market pricing risk very high, to add additional risk is a big problem, and I think this is what we are doing when we don't have consistent policies. We add to the risk."

On the subject of recovery, Mr. Becker repeats his call for lower taxes, applauds the Fed's action to "raise reserves," (meaning money creation, though he said this before the Fed's action a few days ago), and he says "I do believe one has to try to do something more directly to help with the toxic assets of the banks."

How about getting rid of the mark-to-market pricing of bank assets [that is, pricing assets at the current market price] that some say has destroyed bank capital? Mr. Becker says he prefers mark-to-market over "pricing by cost because costs are often completely out of whack with what the real prices are." Then he adds this qualifier: "But when you have a very thin market, you have to be very careful about what it means to mark-to-market. . . . It's a big problem if you literally take mark-to-market in terms of prices continuously based on transactions when there are very few transactions in that market. I am a mark-to-market person but I think you have to do it in a sensible way."

However that issue is resolved in the short run, there will remain the problem of institutions growing so big that a collapse risks taking down the whole system. To deal with the "too big to fail" problem in the long run, Mr. Becker suggests increasing capital requirements for financial institutions, as the size of the institution increases, "so they can't have [so] much leverage." This, he says, "will discourage banks from getting so big" and "that's fine. That's what we want to do."

Mr. Becker is underwhelmed by the stimulus package: "Much of it doesn't have any short-term stimulus. If you raise research and development, I don't see how it's going to short-run stimulate the economy. You don't have excess unemployed labor in the scientific community, in the research community, or in the wind power creation community, or in the health sector. So I don't see that this will stimulate the economy, but it will raise the debt and lead to inefficient spending and a lot of problems."

There is also the more fundamental question of whether one dollar of government spending can produce one and a half dollars of economic output, as the administration claims. Mr. Becker is more than skeptical. "Keynesianism was out of fashion for so long that we stopped investigating variables the Keynesians would look at such as the multiplier, and there is almost no evidence on what the multiplier would be." He thinks that the paper by Christina Romer, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, "saying that the multiplier is about one and a half [is] based on very weak, even nonexistent evidence." His guess? "I think it is a lot less than one. It gets higher in recessions and depressions so it's above zero now but significantly below one. I don't have a number, I haven't estimated it, but I think it would be well below one, let me put it that way."

As the interview winds down, I'm thinking more about how people can make pretty crazy decisions with the right incentives from government. Does this explain what seems to be a decreasing amount of personal responsibility in our culture? "When you get a larger government, when you have the government taking over Social Security, government taking over health care and with further proposals now for the government to take over more activities, more entitlements, the rational response is to have less responsibility. You don't have to worry about things and plan on your own as much."

That suggests that there is a risk to the U.S. system with more people relying on entitlements. "Well, they become an interest group," Mr. Becker says. "The more you have dependence on the government, the stronger the interest group of people who want to maintain it. That's one reason why it is so hard to get any major reform in reducing government spending in Scandinavia and it is increasingly so in the United States. The government is spending -- at the federal, state and local level -- a third of GDP, and that share will go up now. The higher it is the more people who are directly or indirectly dependent on the government. I am worried about that. The basic theory of interest-group politics says that they will have more influence and their influence will be to try to maintain this, and it will be hard to go back."

Still, there remain many good reasons to continue the struggle against the current trend, Mr. Becker says. "When the market economy is compared to alternatives, nothing is better at raising productivity, reducing poverty, improving health and integrating the people of the world."

Ms. O'Grady writes the Journal's Americas column.
23294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bolton on: March 21, 2009, 01:36:22 AM
By JOHN BOLTON

While President Obama's unanticipated Nowruz holiday greeting to Iran generated considerable press attention, his video wasn't really this week's big news related to the Islamic Republic. Far more important was that a senior defector -- Iran's former Deputy Minister of Defense Ali Reza Asghari -- disclosed Tehran's financing of Syria's nuclear weapons program. That program's centerpiece was a North Korean nuclear reactor in Syria. Israel destroyed it in September 2007.

At this point, it is impossible to ignore Iran's active efforts to expand, improve and conceal its nuclear weapons program in Syria while it pretends to "negotiate" with Britain, France and Germany (the "EU-3"). No amount of video messages will change this reality. The question is whether this new information about Iran will sink in, or if Washington will continue to turn a blind eye toward Iran's nuclear deceptions.

That the Pyongyang-Damascus-Tehran nuclear axis went undetected and unacknowledged for so long is an intelligence failure of the highest magnitude. It represents a plain unwillingness to allow hard truths to overcome well-entrenched policy views disguised as intelligence findings.

Key elements of our intelligence community (IC) fought against the idea of a Syrian nuclear program for years. In mid-2003, I had a bitter struggle with several IC agencies -- news of which was leaked to the press -- concerning my testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the Syrian program. Then Sen. Joe Biden made the Syria testimony an issue in my 2005 confirmation battle to become ambassador to the United Nations, alleging that I had tried to hype concern about Syria's nuclear intentions. (In fact, my testimony, in both its classified and unclassified versions, was far more anodyne than the facts warranted.)

Key IC agencies made two arguments in 2003 against the possibility of a clandestine Syrian nuclear weapons program. First, they argued that Syria lacked the scientific and technological capabilities to sustain such a program. Second, they said that Syria did not have the necessary economic resources to fund a program.

These assertions were not based on highly classified intelligence. Instead, they were personal views that some IC members developed based on public information. The intelligence that did exist -- which I thought warranted close observation of Syria, at a minimum -- the IC discounted as inconsistent with its fixed opinions. In short, theirs was not an intelligence conclusion, but a policy view presented under the guise of intelligence.

How wrong they were.

As for Syria's technical expertise, North Korea obviously had the scientific and technological ability to construct the reactor, which was essentially a clone of the North's own at Yongbyon. Moreover, it is entirely possible that Syria's nuclear program -- undertaken with Pyongyang's assistance -- is even more extensive. We will certainly never know from Syria directly, since Damascus continues to deny it has any nuclear program whatever. It's also stonewalling investigation efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

As for Syria's ability to finance a nuclear program, Iran could easily supply whatever Syria might need -- even in a time of fluctuating oil prices. Moreover, given Iran's hegemony over Syria, it is impossible to believe Syria would ever undertake extensive nuclear cooperation with North Korea without Iran's acquiescence. Iran was likely an active partner in a three-way joint venture on the reactor, supplying key financial support and its own share of scientific knowledge. Cooperation on ballistic missile programs between Pyongyang and Tehran is longstanding and well-advanced, and thereby forms a basis of trust for nuclear cooperation. Moreover, both Iran and North Korea share a common incentive: to conceal illicit nuclear weapons programs from international scrutiny. What better way to hide such programs than to conduct them in a third country where no one is looking?

Uncovering the North Korean reactor in Syria was a grave inconvenience for the Bush administration. It enormously complicated both the failing six-party talks on North Korea and the EU-3's diplomatic efforts with Iran, which Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice so actively supported.

Mr. Asghari's revelations about Iranian financing of Syria's nuclear program -- if borne out -- will have precisely the same negative impact on Obama administration policies, since they track Mr. Bush's so closely. In fact, the two administrations' approaches differ only to the extent that Mr. Obama is poised to pursue policies, like face-to-face negotiations with Iran, that the second term Bush State Department wanted to do, but faced too much internal dissonance to implement.

The Nowruz video reflects the dominant view within the Obama administration that its "open hand" will be reciprocated. It's likely Iran will respond affirmatively to the near-plaintive administration request to "engage."

And why not? Such dialogue allows Iran to conceal its true intentions and activities under the camouflage of negotiations, just as it has done for the past six years with the EU-3. What's more, Iran will see it as confirmation of U.S. weakness and evidence that its policies are succeeding.

There is very little time for Mr. Obama to change course before he is committed to negotiations. He could start by following Iran's money trail.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

23295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Quotes of note: on: March 21, 2009, 01:10:09 AM
"Separation of economics and State"  Ayn Rand
23296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Haqqani Network on: March 21, 2009, 01:07:24 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Haqqani Network and Negotiations With Afghan Jihadists
March 20, 2009

A report in the Christian Science Monitor on Thursday said that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government has begun preliminary negotiations with a key jihadist faction, the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network. According to the report, Kabul’s emissaries met with representatives of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, who have agreed in principle to steps toward an ultimate political settlement. The first stage of the roadmap entails a halt to U.S. military raids on the group’s facilities and the release of its prisoners — provided the group stops burning schools and targeting reconstruction teams. If these initial conditions are met, the next stages involve working on a new system of government for Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces.

Though this development is in line with U.S. efforts to explore options for a political settlement in Afghanistan, it is strange in that the last time the Haqqani network made headlines, it was in September 2008 — when U.S. drones launched missiles at Haqqani’s residential compound in Pakistan’s tribal belt. Some two dozen members of his family were killed, although Haqqani and his sons survived the attack. The air strike occurred a little over two months after the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which senior U.S. military and intelligence officials believed was the work of the Haqqani network acting in concert with officials from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.

Therefore, before examining the pros and cons of negotiating with the Haqqani network, it is important to understand the network’s place in the jihadist landscape and its relationship with Pakistan’s security establishment. Although it is part of the Afghan Taliban movement, the Haqqani network has maintained distinct autonomy. It is closely allied with al Qaeda and is responsible for the bulk of suicide bombings in Afghanistan.

With its zone of operations in the eastern Afghan provinces along the border with Pakistan, Haqqani’s group wields disproportionate influence among Taliban forces on both sides of the Durand Line. Haqqani’s eldest son, Sirajuddin — who now runs the group because of his father’s advanced age — has been involved in persuading Pakistani Taliban forces to end their attacks inside Pakistan and focus on fighting Western forces in Afghanistan. At a time when Pakistan faces a growing Pashtun jihadist insurgency, the Haqqani network is one of the Taliban factions with which Islamabad retains considerable influence.

In other words, the Haqqani network is well positioned between al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Pakistan. This has implications for any move to negotiate with jihadist insurgents, especially since the U.S. objective is to drive a wedge between Afghan jihadists (the Taliban) and the transnational jihadists of al Qaeda. Haqqani is a critical player in the insurgency, and engaging him in negotiations could help to achieve that objective and undercut the insurgencies in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Conversely, al Qaeda’s leadership also could use its relationship with the Haqqani network, which dates back approximately 20 years, to counter the campaign against the transnational jihadists.

The case of the Haqqani network underscores the excruciatingly complex and difficult task that the Obama administration faces in its efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of the insurgency in Afghanistan.

23297  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizens defend themselves/others. on: March 21, 2009, 01:05:08 AM
Please keep us informed on development's in your ex-BiL's case Dog Tom.
23298  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: March 21, 2009, 01:04:10 AM
Thank you for the inspiration Scurvy Dog!  cool
23299  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: March 21, 2009, 01:03:04 AM
Nice find.  No I haven't.  I note that there is something quite similar in Peru.
23300  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Arte marcial en Mexico y cosas semajantes on: March 21, 2009, 01:00:40 AM

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8kxox_big-mexican-punchup_sport
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