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23301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: October 09, 2010, 09:33:13 AM
The article goes on to discuss that it looks like Iran is getting Venezuelan uranium and more.
23302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kudlow on: October 09, 2010, 09:22:07 AM
Friday's unemployment report for September, the last before the election, brought more bad news for the Barack Obama Democrats.

Noteworthy is the fact that stocks rallied a bit on the lackluster and tepid jobs numbers, pushing through the 11,000 mark. But more and more, it seems bad economic news illustrating the failure of Obamanomics becomes good news for stocks on the expectation of a GOP tsunami in November.

The unemployment rate itself held at 9.6 percent. It's been over 9.5 percent for 14 straight months. Meanwhile, the marginally unemployed -- or the so-called impairment rate (U-6) -- jumped to 17.1 percent from 16.7 percent.

These headlines are political poison for Democrats. Voters are going to keep asking, What exactly did we get for a $1 trillion stimulus-spending package that puts us deeper in hock?

Overall, nonfarm payrolls fell 95,000 for September, largely from a drop in census workers and state and local government employees. Private payrolls increased 64,000, only a third of what's necessary to sustainably reduce unemployment.

Average hourly wages were flat, as was the workweek.

Looking back, the jobs story was much stronger in the first four months of the year through April. But job creation has slowed markedly since then, along with the overall economy.

The household survey, which picks up small businesses, is the better story. This report has grown by 1.6 million jobs year-to-date (adjusted for census workers), or 178,000 per month. And in the payroll survey, corporate jobs have increased 863,000 in the private sector, coming to 96,000 per month. Yet both surveys must grow over 200,000 per month in order to truly dent stubbornly high unemployment.

There is no double-dip recession here. The recovery is probably advancing at about a 2 percent to 3 percent rate. But that's a sluggish pace at best. We should be growing at least twice as fast.

Precisely because of the obvious failure of the Obama stimulus-spending program to adequately create jobs, the Federal Reserve is moving toward re-priming the pump. It's the addition of yet another bad policy of dollar destruction to the first mistake of massive spending.

Think of it this way: The Fed is probably going to add another $1 trillion of new cash to the financial system. But as all those new dollars are created, the dollar excess sinks the greenback exchange rate. And that means investors will take the new money the Fed creates and drain it out of the U.S. financial system into more reliable currencies. Go figure Ben Bernanke's logic.

The same thing happened between 2002 and 2006. The Fed was too loose for too long, the dollar fell too far, and all that cash fled the country, thereby undermining the George W. Bush tax cuts.

Meanwhile, with today's rapid rise in gold and commodity prices, a new inflation tax will be imposed on consumers and businesses. Bad for growth. Oil has jumped to $83 a barrel, and gas at the retail pump is heading toward $3 a gallon.

And on top of all this, a world currency and trade war beckons. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is rapidly escalating the China-bashing rhetoric, as he blames the Chinese yuan for American economic woes. Shades of the 1930s. Neither the Treasury nor the Fed seems interested in defending the dollar's world-reserve-currency status, or U.S. global economic leadership. And no one in official Washington seems interested in global-currency stability backed by a golden anchor.

But here's the real problem. New numbers from the Congressional Budget Office show a 9 percent increase in federal budget spending for fiscal 2010. That's about six-times the inflation rate. Astronomical.

Federal spending is now 25 percent of gross domestic product, way past the historical norm of 20 percent. And the budget gap is $1.3 trillion. So how can you blame investors or businesses for asking this simple question: How high are my taxes going to go to finance all this?

Until this question is answered to their satisfaction, the job-creating engines will remain dormant. Obamacare is a massive tax and regulatory threat. And so is the spending and deficit problem. The Fed can pour all the new money it wants into the economy, but it cannot change any of this.

Then again, the elections can.
23303  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: pistola defiende contra ataque por cuchillo on: October 08, 2010, 08:05:08 PM
No hay de que hombre smiley  Como decimos aca' "Another episode of 'As the Stick Twirls!'"  cheesy
23304  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: We the unorganized militia on: October 08, 2010, 08:00:52 PM
Well, the Israeli people aren't sheeple. cool
23305  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Are you ready for Mumbai style attack here? on: October 08, 2010, 06:52:50 PM
http://www.policeone.com/active-shooter/articles/1792352-FBI-Director-Mueller-A-Mumbai-style-attack-can-happen-in-the-U-S/
23306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sufism on: October 08, 2010, 05:59:55 PM
I saw today that the Islamo-fascists in Pakistan have bombed a Sufi mosque yet again.

This got me to thinking about the various times I have run across indications that Sufism (Sufiiism?) is a tolerant strand of Islam-- which is why the Islamo-fascists do not tolerate it and regard it as apostasy.

Anyway, the purpose of this post here is to call upon the considerable intellectual capabilities of this board to be on the lookout for worthy discussions of Sufi-ism and whether Sufis can be allies in Civilization's war with the Barbarians of Islamo-fascism.
23307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 08, 2010, 05:55:31 PM
"apothegmatic"?   Anyone have the URL of a good dictionary?

Matt Ridley is an interesting guy with a very strong background in evolutionary biology/psychology see e.g. "The Red Queen" (an excellent discussion of the Darwinian logic and consequences of the existence of sex to reproduce) and "Nature via Nurture" which sits still unread on my shelf.
23308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 08, 2010, 05:33:10 PM
Eating less calories and more real food is always an option too  cheesy
23309  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stretching on: October 08, 2010, 05:31:00 PM
1) There are MANY different kinds of yoga, and they can operate according to very distinctive underlying concepts, so IMHO the term yoga is so vague that for our purposes here it is insufficiently precise in its meaning.

2) Squats and bridges make perfect sense to me for lower back pain.  As I have written in varying levels of detail previously  IMHO most lower back pain is due to shortened hip flexors and weakened peak contraction of hip extensors.  )This is why forward bending to "stretch" the back is usually uttterly useless except as a short term palliative.) By strengthening the latter, squats and bridges trigger release of the fomer; or as is said in the "Crafty Dog Self Help Principals":  "Where a muscle is tight, in that range of motion the complementary muscles are weak"

In my experience yoga that taps into this principal is effective, whereas yoga that does not is not effective.
23310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GB's health on: October 08, 2010, 05:07:16 PM
October 8, 2010 - 11:46 ET


Glenn Beck is seen here on GlennBeck.TV, a feature available exclusively to Glenn Beck Insider Extreme members. Learn more...

GLENN: Today I want to talk to you about something. I want to talk to you about a portion of my life that I want to share with you because I think it's going to lead me in different places. I don't necessarily mean physical, but mentally I think this is going to be a spiritual journey. It is going to be a physical journey. It is going to be a mental journey. And I would like to, I'd like to be able to share it with you and the things that I have learned, and you'll be able also to see why I'm going the places that I am and what I am doing.

Next week on Monday and Tuesday, I am going to take time off. I'm going out West to have some testing done. I have told you before that I have been losing feeling in my hands and my feet and I have been feeling tingling in my hands and my feet, and it's traveling up my arms and it's just a very bizarre sensation. It almost feels like I'm wearing gloves at times because I was talking to my kids the other day about fingerprints and I couldn't, I couldn't feel my fingerprints and it was bizarre. And I thought if that was only true, man, I could be like a master thief. So it's been very it's been strange. I've told you also that I have been diagnosed with macular dystrophy, which means that I love this diagnosis I could be totally fine with eyesight for the rest of my life, or I could be blind within a year. The macular dystrophy has not progressed at all in the two months since it's been diagnosed, but there's something else that has also been going on. And if you're a long time listener, you might be even be able to tell it I can just by listening to my voice now. There is something wrong with my voice, and we're not sure what it is. I went in and had some testing done and there's nothing like sticking scopes through your nose and then having doctors look through the scopes in your nose. And they're passing the scope back and forth going, look at this, doctor, what do you think this is? And I'm like, what do you guys see? What are you looking at? What do you see? Show it to me. And I'll tell you more about this next week. But there's just some things that are happening, and we don't know what they are yet. And they're doing all kinds of testing. They're going to be doing CAT scans and MREs or MRIs and PET scans and they're going to be doing blood work like crazy. And the thing that they said to me, I've seen five different doctors and I've got an incredible group of doctors who are, I think only one of them really hates me, and I have the other four watching that one. But they're looking one of them said to me the other night, we have to do all of these blood tests because we have to look for toxins and poisons, and that word stuck out to me. And it's not poison like you know, it's like lead paint. And I'm like, no, I haven't been eating lead chips. And that word stuck out to me.

Night before last I was laying in bed next to my wife and she put her hand on my back and she said to me, what are you doing? Honey, go to sleep. She said that to me at 3:00 in the morning. I had been reading a couple of books, as I'm so far behind in my reading. But I had closed one of these books, as I'm doing research and I'm trying to understand more. And I had closed one of these books about an hour before and I said, I just to myself I just can't look at this anymore. Then I said a prayer, and as I was praying, I noticed that I wasn't praying as hard for healing as I should, which led me to the first conversation I had with a neurologist who said to me, well, we don't know what this is. He said, but we're investigating here, here, and here. And I said, could this be brought on by stress? Could this be brought on because I'm just, you know and he said, no, not this. He said, you know, that's not making it better. And I said, so should I maybe should I stop? And he said, no, you're okay. I was disappointed. And the other day I thought about it and I thought, I can't even pray and cry out to the Lord. I have cried out to the Lord a lot in the last four years. I couldn't cry out to him for that. That got me to thinking. A house divided against itself cannot stand. People will say about me, they have written about me. In fact, the New York Times just did their big piece and they said, I don't think Glenn Beck even knows who he is. In some ways that is true. I know who I am. I am just like you. A son of a father in heaven that loves me, and I try to serve him. But that is, that is something that I have never even come close to mastering and worked my whole life. I am a guy who's trying to be better every day. I know who I am. But when they wrote that, it is so true because I don't know where I'm supposed to end up. I don't know how to do this.

The last 24 hours as I've been thinking about the doctors saying we're looking for toxins, we're looking for poisons in your body, I know what they are. For four years I have tried to understand the mind of what I believe are monsters. It started with Walter Lippmann. The first book that I closed and said I can't read this anymore was Walter Lippmann. And it was about how they can breed better people and how there are undesirables. I never finished the book. That was the first one. And for four years I have been trying to understand the minds of people that I think are so misled, and they are the exact opposite of what I have tried to be, what I want to be, what I strive for. But I have done it because I have to, I have to understand it, I have to see what's try to understand to explain what's coming, what's happening. And not for you but for my children.

I believe we can be better people. I believe in the American experiment. But I also believe there are very misguided people, and I have been drinking that poison, which others may not find poison, but I do because it is exact opposite of me. And I have been "That which you gaze upon, you become."
23311  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: pistola defiende contra ataque por cuchillo on: October 08, 2010, 01:50:56 PM
No worries, but given that he has just deleted my forum there I see no need to mention his here  cheesy
23312  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: October 08, 2010, 12:03:20 PM
GM, BBG:

Although your conversation may be without resolution, for me it most certainly has merit and I hope the two of you will continue.  There is much for the rest of us to learn from it.

The Adventure continues!
Marc
23313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton Federalist 65, 1788 on: October 08, 2010, 12:00:29 PM
GM:  Indeed!

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

"If mankind were to resolve to agree in no institution of government, until every part of it had been adjusted to the most exact standard of perfection, society would soon become a general scene of anarchy, and the world a desert." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 65, 1788
23314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Venezuela-Columbia-FARC on: October 08, 2010, 11:12:30 AM
Summary
There are a number of indications that the Venezuelan government has expanded its cooperation with Colombia to include possible intelligence sharing and restricting the movement of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels in Venezuelan territory. This cooperation will help strengthen a shaky rapprochement between Bogota and Caracas and sheds light on the growing vulnerabilities of the Venezuelan regime.

Analysis
STRATFOR sources within the Colombian security apparatus recently indicated that during the past two months, the Venezuelan government has taken steps to undermine a safe haven for members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) along Venezuela’s border with Colombia. The sources claim Venezuelan military officials did not encounter substantial resistance when they quietly told the FARC leaders to pack up their camps. Colombia was already making steady progress in its offensive against the FARC, but once FARC members were flushed across the border back into Colombia, the Colombian military had fresh targets and leads to pursue. The most notable recent success for Colombia was the Sept. 22 killing of FARC deputy and senior military commander Victor Julio Suarez Rojas (aka Jorge Briceno and El Mono Jojoy) in a long-planned military operation in the La Macarena region of Meta department in central Colombia. Though it is unclear whether Venezuelan cooperation had anything to do with the operation, Suarez Rojas was apparently concerned about a drop in Venezuelan support in the days leading up to his death.

Prior to the Sept. 22 operation, Suarez Rojas allegedly wrote an e-mail acquired by the Colombian government attempting to elicit support from members of the Union of South American Nations, in which he claimed responsibility on behalf of FARC for an Aug. 12 vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack on the Radio Caracol headquarters in Bogota. In the e-mail, which was read to the press by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Oct. 2, Suarez Rojas said the FARC’s autonomy in its operations had “angered the Cubans, Chavez and company. For this reason, they are disrespectful and at times joined the ideological struggle of the enemy (i.e. the Colombian government) to fight us.”

If the intercepted e-mail was, in fact, written by the slain FARC commander, the message is highly revealing of the tensions that have been building between the rebel group and the Venezuelan regime. Though Venezuela continues to deny the claims, Colombia has presented evidence that FARC members have for some time operated freely in the porous borderland between Venezuela and Colombia. The Venezuelan armed forces are believed to provide tacit support to these rebels, along with the Cuban advisers present throughout the Venezuelan security apparatus, and the FARC and military together benefit from the rampant drug trade along the border. The Venezuelan government shares a leftist ideology with the FARC that is often cited as the main factor linking the two. But in reality, just as Pakistan has backed Kashmiri militants against India and Iran backs Hezbollah against Israel, Venezuela’s support for the FARC is primarily designed to constrain its main regional adversary — and thus distract Bogota from entertaining any military endeavors that could threaten Venezuela’s territorial integrity, particularly the resource-rich Lake Maracaibo region. Venezuela’s fears of Colombia are also amplified to a large degree by the close defense relationship Bogota shares with Caracas’ other key adversary: the United States.

But a strategy to back the FARC also comes with risks, as Venezuela was reminded in mid-July when Colombia unveiled to the Organization of American States what it called irrefutable photographic evidence of Venezuela harboring FARC rebels. Though Venezuela vehemently denied the claims and painted the Colombian move as a power struggle between then-outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez and incoming Santos, there appears to have been real concern among the upper echelons of the Venezuelan regime that Colombia had a smoking gun to justify hot-pursuit operations and preemptive raids against the FARC in Venezuelan territory.

Generally, Venezuela will exploit the threat of a Colombian attack to rally the population around the regime and distract Venezuelans from the domestic economic turmoil and rampant violent crime. This time, however, the Venezuelan government publicly downplayed the threat and apparently made concrete moves to cooperate with the Colombians against the FARC. That decision is revealing of the regime’s insecurity, as it is already afflicted by a deepening economic crisis fueled by rampant corruption schemes in state-owned sectors. Following the Sept. 26 legislative elections in which the ruling party lost its two-thirds supermajority, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is now scrambling to get legislation passed that would augment his executive power before January 2011, when more seats in the National Assembly will be filled by the opposition. Rather than gamble that Colombia would refrain from military action, the Venezuelan government has instead offered its cooperation to keep Bogota at bay.

The extent and sustainability of that cooperation remains unclear, however. Venezuela is exercising caution in how it deals with Colombia for now, but the country’s internal conflicts are expected to grow. The weaker Venezuela becomes, the more anxious it will be about its rivals’ intentions. Moreover, Venezuela will want to avoid inviting a backlash by FARC rebels who are now feeling abandoned by their external patron. The Venezuelan regime will thus try to strike a balance, offering as much cooperation as necessary to keep relations steady with Colombia, while holding on to the FARC card as leverage for rougher days to come.
23315  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: talent is what the unskilled call skill on: October 08, 2010, 10:23:26 AM
I read "Talent is Over-rated" and thought it very good-- though a bit overly relentless in its efforts to refute the existence and role of talent.
23316  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on: October 08, 2010, 09:59:50 AM
"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to The Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland, 1809
23317  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Euthanasia on: October 08, 2010, 09:08:06 AM
A slippery slope to forced euthanasia?
Pressure for legalising euthanasia has been stepped up in Australia by the pro-euthanasia Greens.


It appears that the party of death never sleeps. Already the Greens have introduced their pro-death bill into Australia’s Federal Parliament. The party's leader, Bob Brown, argued that most Australians support voluntary euthanasia. But I suspect most Australians in fact may not have a clear understanding of just what the euthanasia agenda is all about.
They are certainly not getting the full story from the pro-death lobby. There are many misconceptions and myths out there that need to be dispelled. One is that this will in fact be entirely voluntary, with no pressure or coercion. But this is just wishful thinking.

The truth is the right to die implies a duty to kill. Let me explain. We live in a rights-mad culture. Everyone is demanding a right for this or that. But there are no rights without corresponding duties. An officially sanctioned right must be backed up by the legally enforced means to ensure those rights can be carried out. Thus if society goes down the path of legalised euthanasia, this right to die will lead to its necessary corollary, the duty to kill.

Indeed, once a society has said that its citizens have the right to die, it will be forced to provide the means to do so. If a state says there is a legal right to die, logically, anyone can bring suit to ensure that governments comply. Just as today society tells us a woman has a right to abort her own child, so it provides, via medical aid and tax-payer funding, the means to carry out this activity.

In fact, once legalised, it is possible that doctors may one day face lawsuits if they violate someone’s rights by not killing them. As commentator John Leo puts it: “Imagine doctors purchasing malpractice insurance that covers ‘denial of death’ suits. That day may not be far away.”

And as ethicist Leon Kass reminds us, the “vast majority of candidates who merit mercy killing cannot request it for themselves.” But we can count on the fact that the “lawyers and the doctors (and the cost-containers) will soon rectify this injustice. . . Why, it will be argued, should the comatose or the demented be denied the right to such a ‘dignified death’ or such a ‘treatment’ just because they cannot claim it for themselves?”

For all the talk about choice, about freedom to choose, about giving people options, the legal and social legitimisation for assisted suicide will effectively eliminate one option, namely, staying alive without having to justify one’s existence. With legalised euthanasia, the burden will be upon people to justify being alive - we will have to prove that we ought to be allowed to live.

Lest that sound too far out, consider the words spoken in 1984 by the then Colorado Governor Richard Lamm who said, “Elderly people who are terminally ill have a duty to die and get out of the way.” Or recall the comments made in Australia by the country’s then Australian Governor-General Bill Hayden who, thinking of his own advancement in years, spoke of “unproductive burdens” which we need to be “disencumbered” of via euthanasia.

But as Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans) has noted, why is Bill Hayden as a senile, incoherent old man in a wheel chair (one day) any less of value and worth than Bill Hayden was as Governor-General? A society that allows such distinctions is one that has “simply forsaken the very principle of civilisation and crossed the threshold of barbarity”.

Moreover, would Hayden set up a test whereby we determine who is an unproductive burden? Will people be forced to give written evidence as to why they should be allowed to remain alive? After all, in a world of scarcity, such proposals are not all that far off. Indeed, some people are calling for such measures already.

Some people, concerned by what they see as a crisis in over-population, have called for a drastic reduction in population levels.

The tone of debate seems to be becoming increasingly shrill. Many formerly uncommitted public figures and organisations are now speaking out in favour of cutting population levels. In recent times, the Anglican Church of Australia has warned of “catastrophic” consequences of global overpopulation. Sir David Attenborough has pushed for lower population in his documentary: “How many people can live on planet Earth?”. And the previously non-aligned Australian businessman, Dick Smith, produced his own documentary, “Population Puzzle”. Smith commented “This is the most important issue I have ever undertaken in my life. I won’t rest until we have a proper plan in place that informs Australians just how many people we can sustainably support in this country.”

It is clear where such passionate “concern” can lead. In the past a number of Australian commentators have argued for draconian measures to cull population, with some claiming that Australia’s population it should be reduced to less than half its present level. Going back as far as the 1990s, the then Leader of the Australian Democrats John Coulter argued that no Australian family should have more than two children. One city councillor even argued that people who choose to have three children should be compulsorily sterilised and forced to pay the government $200 per fortnight.

It does not take much imagination to see that euthanasia will be enlisted to support such population-reduction goals.

Again, this is not far-fetched. In the past Australia’s Economic Planning Advisory Commission (EPAC) has discussed the rising costs of health care for the elderly and in one publication EPAC actually looked at the issue of euthanasia as one option in the whole discussion. There was no talk about alleviating suffering or being compassionate -- the whole proposal centered on cost-cutting measures.

Indeed, it is estimated that around half of all health care dollars are spent on people in their last six months of life. Thus cost considerations are increasingly becoming a major part of the decision-making process. In a recent case of a brain-dead man on life support, a Monash University medical ethicist said that there would be a high cost involved in maintaining the man, so the economic factor would have to be considered in deciding his fate.

American human rights lawyer Wesley J. Smith drives this point home: “If assisted suicide were ever permitted to become a legitimate and legal part of medical practice, in the end it would be less about ‘choice’ than about profits in the health care system and cutting the costs of health care to government and families. The drugs for assisted suicide only cost about $35 to $40, while it might cost $35,000 to $40,000 (or more) to treat the patient properly. The math is compelling, and contains a warning we dare not ignore.”

In a culture where worth and value tends to be measured by the bottom line, the call for legalised euthanasia will likely also be assessed in those terms. Financial considerations will tend to trump other concerns, including the right to life. All the more reason to never allow euthanasia to be legalized.
23318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Secularity vs. Secularlism on: October 08, 2010, 08:49:51 AM
Secularity vs secularism: an enlightening distinction
Who invented the secular state? A professor of religious philosophy from the Sorbonne gives a surprising answer.



In the wake of Pope Benedict's warning about atheism while visiting the UK, a debate has broken out about secularism.  Journalist Jerome di Costanzo interviews the arabist and medievalist, Rémi Brague, who sheds much light on the question.

1) Secularists tend to deny the mediaeval origin of the notion of secularity. From your point of view is it possible to ignore it?

First, a quick glance at the reasons that lead those people to dodge or camouflage this medieval origin could be apposite. Generally speaking, there has been since the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment a widespread negative prejudice against whatever is or is supposed to be, medieval. The received wisdom tells us: Good things arose in Modern Times, full stop. The Middle Ages were a period of darkness, fuller stop.

As for the case of secularity, its advocates specifically want, or pretend to, ignore that it appeared in the Middle Ages, a period that was emphatically not secularist. The dividing line drawn between the Church and the State is a Christian invention that began among the Church Fathers, as a reaction against Constantine’s claim to control the Church and further culminated in medieval times. Moreover, this line was drawn by the Church, not by the State. The Holy See’s constant policy from the Investiture Controversy in the late 11th century consisted in sending the State (i.e. the Emperor or the Kings) back to its own merely this worldly—“secular” if you want—task: enforcing peace, justice, good social order. The State, on the other hand, was not merely “secular”, but claimed its share in sacrality. Just think of the adjective: “Holy Roman Empire”. Secularity was a conquest of the Church.   

2) The recent papal visit in Britain has re-awakened the debate about secularity in our society. What exactly is your definition of secularity?

“Secularity” may have many meanings, but it designates in any case a fact, not an ideology or a program of action, unlike “secularism”, which I will deal with presently.

Secularity qualifies a certain realm of things on which unaided human reason can, in principle at least, reach an agreement that enables cooperation towards the common good. Religion can leave alone scientific, technical, political matters, etc. because it could not be of any specific help. Scientists, technicians, politicians, or, for that matter, anglers, plumbers or jellied-eels sellers can become saints if they do their job properly. But Christianity won’t give them many hints on how to ply their trade in their technicalities.

Let me sketch a general rule: for a Christian, subsidiarity as a principle brooks no exception and obtains in the relationship between God and His creatures, too—or even in the first place. The Creator gives each and every creature the means that it needs for it to get its own good by its own exertions. For instance, God does not have to tell men what they should do. Since they were endowed with reason, they possess, at least in principle, the necessary tools for them to choose what is right and avoid what is not. God does not have to tell men what they should eat, how they should dress, where they should spend their holidays, etc. According to Aquinas, the Ten Commandments are nothing more than a reminder of what we should be able to know by ourselves. By this token, “secularity” is a good thing, and it is correct to avoid any interference of “religion” where it is not necessary. On the other hand, it is foolish not to accept its aid where we enter a realm in which religion alone is competent, for instance giving us the power of forgiving, assuaging our fear of death, leading us towards salvation. 

As for secularism as an ideology, I have two definitions. One attaches to the way in which people who define themselves as “secular” look at themselves. The word, together with “agnosticism”, “humanism”, etc., was coined in the Victorian era, when declaring oneself an “atheist” was hardly the thing. Secularism has over the latter word the advantage of a positive ring, whereas a-theism expresses a mere negation: not believing in God. Secularism, then, consists in limiting one’s ken to this-worldly matters, to what the Bible calls ha-‘olam haz-zeh.

But I have another definition up my sleeve. It is at the same time etymological and ironical. “Secular” comes from saeculum, the Latin for “century”, which originally meant the longest duration of human life. Secularity is the attitude of people who think that human hopes can’t exceed one century and therefore—perhaps unwittingly and unwillingly—act so that mankind will last exactly as long... Secularists are unable to explain why it is good that there should be human beings on earth. Since they contend that human life is the product of chance, they can’t tell us why it should be good for us, who can decide consciously to carry on with the experience, to do so. 

3) Benedict XVI said during his visit: "As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny." If so, are atheists potentially totalitarian?

Thank goodness, what is potential does not always become actuality. And all atheists are not prone to totalitarianism. Many even loathed it, nay fought against it. Think of people like George Orwell.

Yet, the assumption gains in plausibility when we shift from individuals to the collective level. A massive fact bears witness to that, namely the massacres of the 20th century. They simply dwarf whatever havoc religion may have wrought in the past. The worst bloodsheds of the last century, and probably of history at large, were not caused by religious faith, on the contrary. Even the so-called “wars of religion” in the 16th century can be chalked up for a large part to the rise of the Modern State under its earliest historical form, i.e. the absolute monarchy. The killing fields of World War I were due to nationalism, to self-idolatry of the national and/or imperial states. World War II was a consequence of nazi ideology, that was, to quote Hitler, “a sober theory of reality grounded on the sharpest scientific knowledge and its expression in thought” (eine kühle Wirklichkeitslehre schärfster wissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse und ihrer gedanklichen Ausprägung) (Talk in Nuremberg on the Day of the NS-Party, June, 9th 1938). Lenin and his followers understood their version of marxism as “scientific” in nature.

4) In Westminster Hall the Holy Father talked about the necessity to respect the “right of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square”. This comes after the closure of a Catholic adoption agency following Labour’s Sexual Orientation Regulations and is a very practical illustration of the practice of secularity. How should the moral or ethical teaching of the Churches function in the political debate?

I don’t know the details of this story, so that I would rather not comment upon it.
Let me content myself with a general observation: Catholics do not defend something like “Catholic morality”. By the way, I am reluctant to call morality by any adjective whatsoever: Christian, Buddhist, progressive, even secular, etc. Moral rules have obtained since the outset; they vary very little. There are, on the other hand, Christian, Buddhist, etc. interpretations of moral life.

We should endeavour to get a clearer picture of the reasons why Christians—and not only the Pope, even if his voice, for obvious reasons, is more widely heard—have to speak up from time to time. They don’t preach up their own stuff, pro domo. They warn of dangers that menace mankind at large, and they have to do so when they think that some behaviour, be it individual or collective, is lethal for mankind. The supreme rule in those matters is some sort of a duty to rescue.

5) On the other hand, the government has refused to ban the Burqa in the name of this freedom. What do you think about this apparent difference of treatment?

In the name of the individual freedom of women, French government came to the opposite conclusion. Let me emphasize only one point: our idea of what a religion is, hence, of what freedom in religious matters should be, arose many centuries ago, and it was tailored to a definite religion, i.e. Christianity. Our governments have the know-how as far as dealing with Christians is concerned, even when they act against Christians... On the other hand, they are at a loss in front of a religion like Islam that does not clearly distinguish between the public and the private. Hence, they understand wearing the Burqa or, for that matter, any kind of obedience to she Sharia, as a private decision.

As for the precise question, Christianity is the first religion that did not bring new or special commands but contented itself with common, “pagan”, run-of-the-mill morality. The so-called “Christian morals” is none other than the Ten Commandments that are already in the Old Testament (Exodus, 20), and in other cultures. Little wonder, since they are the basic survival kit of mankind. The Burqa is a definite interpretation of Islamic Law, grounded on two verses of the Qur’an asking women to be veiled (XXIV, 31; XXXIII, 59). The problem is that a pious Muslim believes his Holy Book to have been dictated word for word by an omniscient God, who outsoars time and space. If this is the case, you have to obey without further ado. The only loophole left for interpretation will be the precise meaning of the words: how long must be the veil, how opaque, etc.?     

6) In the conclusion of your book Eccentric Culture you preached in favour of a new "Romanity", which you define as a strict separation between the spiritual and the politic and the need for roots from “Natural Law”, could you tell us more? Does Nature remind us of the reasonable way?

I hope I did not preach. I simply pointed out some elements that might help us recover what I called “Romanity”, a stance that might be the key to Europe’s success story. I was given the opportunity to delve more extensively on those legal and political topics in my “The Law of God” (2005). There, I argued that the real question is less the separation between the spiritual and the politic than the one between the spiritual and the whole realm of human action: not only politics, but individual morality, ethics, together with what ancient philosophers called “economy”: relations between husband and wife, parents and children, leaders and subordinates.

The trouble, when we mention “nature” in phrases like “natural law”, is that we more often than not mistake two concepts for one another. For us, “nature” means first what natural sciences like astronomy, physics or biology tell us about what there is. Now, mentioning “natural law” certainly does not mean that we should behave in the same way as natural beings do, still less that we should not try and modify natural processes to our advantage—what technology does every day. The concept of nature that underlies the idea of “natural law” is worlds apart from the first. It is rooted in ancient, particularly Stoic philosophy, so that it has become hardly understandable for our contemporaries, unless they have undergone a philosophical training. Perhaps we should speak in its stead of “rational law”, i.e. a law that can be discovered by human reason. Since reason defines man’s nature, we would save a great deal of the idea by means of a less misleading phrase.

There is at least a way in which nature “reminds us of the reasonable way”, to quote your very apt formula. Natural beings have their own laws—the word being taken here as designating a law of nature. This means that you can’t do anything with them if you want to keep them living. You have to sort of “respect” them, although this word is used here only as a metaphor, or as a prefiguration of what will deserve the name of “respect” between men as free and rational beings.

7) In the same book you want to rediscover the “kindness of the body”– la bonté du corps in French – what do you mean exactly by this kindness?

The French bonté means in common parlance something like “kindness”, “generosity”, etc. I took it as an awkward equivalent of “goodness”, the quality of what is good, an idea for which the French has no proper substantive.

As for the body, we live in a paradoxical situation: At first blush, we are enamoured of it. Just think of what we spend on cosmetics, fitness, now the so-called “wellness”, not to mention plastic surgery, etc. In fact, we select an extremely narrow aspect of the body: it must be young, healthy, attractive and, when it is female, for Pete’s sake not pregnant! Now, Christianity contends that the body is called to an unheard-of destiny, since it is due to experience a resurrection. The body in its whole, our history from A to Z, is reclaimed by God. Interestingly, Pagans like Celsus in the 2nd century or Porphyry in the 3rd criticized Christians by poking fun at their exaggerated “passion for the body”. They conceived of salvation in a Platonic key-tone: it consisted in being salvaged from the body, not saved with it. I must smile when I read Nietzsche’s attack on the Christians as “despising the body”...     

Cool Jacques Maritain thought that “integral humanism’, un-rooted from the natural law, is “anti-human” and a denial of the person. Does this analysis fit with our situation today?

If I were to look for a far-reaching and convincing critique of atheistic humanism, I would not name Maritain. You alluded to the title of a book that he published in 1937. I read it last year and I found it rather disappointing. Father Henri de Lubac did a much better job in his The drama of atheistic humanism, written during the war and published in 1944. He does not try to refute what he calls “exclusive humanism” from the outside. Instead, he shows that its inner logic renders it self-defeating.

Today, what is wrong with exclusive humanism is not only that it can’t do justice to the person. Things have grown far worse: What is menaced is not the status of man as a personal being; it is the very existence of mankind.

In conclusion 2 questions:

9) The National Secular Society says that “supernaturalism is based upon ignorance” and assails it as the historic enemy of progress. For you, is this “historically” true?

Such statements are hopelessly muddled. At the bottom of all that, you find Auguste Comte’s idea that religion can’t explain the world as well as science does. This is very true. But who ever said that explaining the world is what religion is about? The fact that we know more and more things about nature does not prove that there is nothing else than nature.

The use of the word “progress” betrays a naive faith that no believer would share, an identification of what is new with what is good. Atomic weapons, global warming, AIDS are new phenomena. They are not exactly good things.

The common ploy of secular journalists, since the Enlightenment, has consisted of ascribing to themselves the betterment of human condition, thereby neglecting the long-term part played by Christianity in de-legitimizing slave-trade, slavery in general or torture. Think of the Pope’s ban on trial by ordeal in 1215, or of the jesuit von Spee putting a stop on the witch trials. 

10) I know you are a friend of Roger Scruton. In your search for the solution for our Society, does Beauty matter?

Calling me a “friend” of Roger Scruton is an honour that I hardly deserve: If my memory serves me right, I met him only twice, once in Warsaw, and once in Rome. “Admirer” would capture the situation more adequately. Furthermore, I’m afraid I haven’t yet watched the TV program that you are alluding to. Be that as it may, Scruton is probably right in pointing out the importance of Beauty.

Let me shed some light on the historical background. A massive fact is that beauty is not the central concept in our relationship with art any longer. It was replaced by other concepts, for instance “interesting”, “moving”, “exciting”, etc. This is a very long process whose inception can be situated in early German romanticism, in the last years of the 18th century, say, with the young Friedrich Schlegel. Contemporary works of art are seldom beautiful, not because artists are incompetent, but because they don’t want to produce beautiful things. The mere fact that one is talking of beauty nowadays has a reactionary ring about it that renders it provocative.

To be sure, we won’t heal the wounds of our societies by building bigger museums or that sort of thing. The deeper issue is the relationship between Beauty, Truth and Being, which verges on metaphysics. Technically speaking, the question is whether “transcendental” properties of things, like the three that I have just mentioned, are convertible into each other. In other words: is Beauty the expression of the deepest nature of what is? Or is it only, on the one hand, a trick, a colourful mask that conceals a cruel Truth—say, struggle for life, will to power, etc — or, on the other hand, something than can give us pleasure by tickling our sentiments?

The point is whether we are still able to recover a sense of the beauty of the world, and that this beauty is not cheating, that it points to an intrinsic goodness of Being. Unless we can do that, we will be at a loss how to answer the question: why should there be anything and not nothing? In the teeth of all appearance, this is not an Academic issue. In the long run, we need a positive answer if the human adventure is to go on.

Rémi Brague is professor of Arabic and Religious philosophy at the Sorbonne. He is the author of The Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea. Jerome di Costanzo is a French writer, analyst and journalist now living in Yorkshire. He specialises in politics, religion and philosophy. This interview has been reproduced from openDemocracy.net under a Creative Commons licence.

23319  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: pistola defiende contra ataque por cuchillo on: October 07, 2010, 10:25:50 PM
"este video también lo posteó Gabe Suarez en warrior talk."

?Y que'?  Tambien aparece en varios foros.  ?Hay alguien buscando "credito"? rolleyes
23320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Just a little pregnant with inflation on: October 07, 2010, 07:52:39 PM
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is a student of monetary history, so perhaps he remembers Sumner Slichter. In the 1950s, the Harvard economist made his reputation as the leader of an intellectual band that Time magazine dubbed the "limited inflationists"—the idea that some inflation was good for an economy, and that the Fed should encourage a gradual rise in prices.

In a hearing on Capitol Hill, his views drew a famous rebuke from Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin, but Slichter's ideas gained currency in the 1950s and 1960s and eventually laid the groundwork for the not-so-gradual inflation of the 1970s.

Slichter died in 1959, but he is staging a rebirth at none other than Martin's former home, the Federal Reserve. A galaxy of Fed officials has fanned out to argue for another round of "quantitative easing," or a further expansion of the Fed balance sheet to boost the economy. The "limited inflationists" are once again at America's monetary helm, promising happier days from rising prices while downplaying the costs and risks.

***
 .In the first QE go-around in spring 2009, financial panic was still in the air and the Fed's justification was to save us from Depression. Today, the panic is over and an economic recovery is underway. So the Fed's new justification is that growth is still too slow, unemployment is still too high and prices aren't rising fast enough.

The Fed's Open Market Committee hinted at the inflation-is-too-low argument in its statement after its September meeting, noting that "Measures of underlying inflation are currently at levels somewhat below those the Committee judges most consistent, over the longer run, with its mandate to promote maximum employment and price stability."

Last week, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans went further and put a specific number on it—inflation below 2% a year is undesirable. He was joined in his case for easier money by the New York and Boston Fed Presidents, among others. The clear message is that a Fed majority has come down on the side of QE2, and markets have concluded that the central bank will return as early as November to buying hundreds of billions of dollars of assets to ensure what Mr. Evans called a need for "negative interest rates." Sumner Slichter rides again.

***
We hope this experiment in re-inflating the economy works better this time, but mark us down as skeptical. There is no such thing as free money, and a second round of QE carries enormous risks for what looks to us like far too little benefit.

The theory of QE2 is that by buying Treasurys and other assets, the Fed help drive long-term interest rates down even lower than they are already. This in turn will spur more private lending and borrowing and kick-start faster growth. But we're told the Fed's own internal models suggest that a purchase of $500 billion in Treasurys would only reduce the 10-year bond by something like 15 basis points. (The 10-year yield is now 2.38%.) This in turn would increase GDP by 0.2% a year and cut the jobless rate by 0.2%. That's not much bang for a lot of bucks.

The case for QE2 assumes that the problem with the economy is merely a lack of money. But trillions of dollars are already sitting unused on bank and corporate balance sheets. The real problem isn't lack of capital but a capital strike, as businesses refuse to take risks or hire new workers thanks to uncertainty over government policy, including higher taxes and regulatory burdens. More Fed easing in this environment risks "pushing on a string," adding money to little economic effect.

Meanwhile, the costs of QE2 would be real and significant. With Congress spending as much as ever, the Fed would appear to be financing a spendthrift government almost on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This would make it even harder, and take even longer, for the Fed to extricate itself from the market for Treasurys and mortgage securities once it decided to do so. And by firing all of its ammo now amid a recovery, what would the Fed have left if we get another financial panic?

By keeping interest rates artificially low, the Fed is also contributing to a misallocation of capital and perhaps new asset bubbles. Messrs. Bernanke and Evans say they see no signs of inflation, as measured by the lagging indicator of the consumer price index.

But investors are having no trouble bidding up the price of commodities, including oil and gold. A rising price of oil will have its own negative impact on growth, as we know from the experience of $147 oil in mid-2008. A commodity price spike might well erase any benefit from the expected decline of 15 basis points in long-term bond yields.

As the protector of the world's reserve currency, the Fed also risks more global monetary disruption. The mere anticipation of QE2 has already caused Japan to pursue its own purchases of exotic assets, while Britain may do the same, as they and other countries try to avoid sharp rises in their currencies against the dollar. The European Central Bank may well have to follow, as the entire world adopts the "limited inflation" philosophy. In such a world, it's hardly surprising that gold has climbed in price against all major fiat currencies as a remaining store of value.

***
With such a cost-benefit calculus, why is the Bernanke Fed still plowing ahead with QE2? Our worry is that the motivation is mainly political.

The Board of Governors and Open Market Committee are now dominated by President Obama's appointees and intellectual allies. They know that their great experiment in spending stimulus has failed to spur a durable expansion, and so they are turning in unquiet desperation to the only tool they have left—monetary easing—to rescue their policy. For them, the risks of slow growth and a 9% jobless rate going into 2012 are worse than the danger of asset bubbles or a new burst of inflation.

Which brings us back to Sumner Slichter and the limited inflationists. Amid the political and media interest in their ideas, Fed Chairman Martin appeared before the Senate Finance Committee. "There is no validity whatever in the idea that any inflation, once accepted, can be confined to moderate proportions," the father of the modern Fed thundered, in a warning that would be vindicated after his retirement in 1970. That's a warning as well for the QE Street Band.
23321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mukasey: Bagram detainee foiled Euro terror plot on: October 07, 2010, 07:49:00 PM
How a Bagram Detainee Foiled the Euro Terror Plot
The plan was disrupted because we were lucky enough to have the key witness in detention. It's a shame we didn't try to extract similar intelligence from Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.


By MICHAEL B. MUKASEY
The terrorism alert issued this week to Americans traveling abroad, and the events that generated it, have put in bold relief yet again dilemmas we face—some self-created—in our ongoing struggle with militant Islamists.

On the surface, the news certainly is not all bad. A German citizen of Afghan descent captured in Afghanistan disclosed a plot to American interrogators at the Bagram Air Field prison. The plan, Ahmed Sidiqi said, was to conduct coordinated attacks on tourists in European cities, and it involved other naturalized German citizens from Afghanistan. U.S. authorities issued a terrorism alert to travelers, and on Monday five of the conspirators, along with three Pakistanis and three others of undisclosed nationality, were killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan.

So far so good. One captured terrorist in military custody since July—at a location that prevents him, at least for the moment, from hauling his captors into a U.S. court—discloses valuable intelligence that appears to have headed off, at least for the moment, an atrocity.

Below the surface, the news is more troubling. Sidiqi and his associates are German citizens; that, and the arrest of a French citizen of Algerian origin as a suspected member of al Qaeda (plus 11 other arrests in southern France), make it plain that Islamist terrorists are succeeding in recruiting people whose passports give them free entry into all the countries of the European Union, and facilitate their travel in general. In 2009 and 2010 alone some 43 American citizens or residents of various backgrounds have been arrested here and abroad for terrorist-related activity, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Security Preparedness Group.

Further, Sidiqi and those of his colleagues killed in the drone strike were recruited at the Taiba mosque in Hamburg, the same mosque attended by Mohammed Atta, the lead plotter among the 9/11 hijackers. And this group was said to have been planning simultaneous attacks of the sort carried out in November 2008 in Mumbai by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group based in Pakistan.

Two items are worthy of note. First, the simultaneous attacks: This was a characteristic not only of 9/11 and the attacks on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, but also of the 1995 plot led by Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called blind sheikh. That conspiracy meant to detonate near-simultaneous bombs at landmarks around New York, including the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and the United Nations. In tape-recorded conversations the plotters discussed what they thought would be the especially demoralizing effect on their enemies, and the correspondingly aggrandizing effect on them, of simultaneity.

Second, the Mumbai attack was notable for its ability to rivet the world's attention for an extended period of time. Terrorists cherish that sort of attention.

All of which is to say that the tourist plot is of a piece with what we have faced, whether we were aware of it, for more than two decades. Are we taking the steps necessary to deal with it?

Here again, the news certainly isn't all bad. Our intelligence capabilities have been stepped up considerably in recent years, particularly with regard to electronic surveillance. The laws and regulations necessary to allow the government to use the techniques it needs are in place. And the Obama administration, commendably, has said it will seek legislation compelling service providers to have available the means necessary to permit the government to conduct Internet surveillance when authorized by warrant. In addition, guidelines put in force at the end of 2008 have empowered the FBI to gather intelligence domestically using conventional surveillance techniques and human sources.

Yet in other respects we seem stymied. Look no further than this week's headlines. How do we deal with the people planning simultaneous attacks on tourists—likely to be principally Americans—in Europe?

The government seems to present us only with the choice that we kill them with drones or give them Miranda warnings and access to a 24-karat justice system designed for conventional criminals. There are better ways, including but not limited to military commissions already provided by law but shunned by the administration, or other special- purpose tribunals that can be established by Congress.

Detaining terrorist conspirators for intelligence-gathering purposes—wholly apart from whatever they may be charged with planning or doing—does not appear to be an option for this administration, certainly not if they are apprehended in this country while seeking to detonate a bomb in an airplane over Detroit or in an SUV near Times Square. Those who joined the orgy of self-congratulation after this week's sentencing of Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad might, when they sober up, consider what we did not find out about who sent him and who else may be on the way— because Shahzad was valued more as a defendant than as an intelligence source.

We will not always be so fortunate to have our would-be attackers detained by the military at Bagram. And even such detention may be the subject of further litigation if the Supreme Court agrees to review last spring's appellate decision denying habeas corpus to detainees at Bagram. Yet as recently as World War II this country held tens of thousands of war prisoners here and abroad without a single one of them being allowed to require his custodians to answer to a U.S. court.

For us, today, the lesson is clear. The importance of being able to gather human intelligence has never been more starkly demonstrated than in the capture and questioning of Ahmed Sidiqi, and the resulting drone attack. The former director of the CIA, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, has likened trying to survive on electronic intelligence alone to trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle without looking at the picture on the box. It is human intelligence that provides that picture.

Like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians, we seem tied down; unlike Gulliver, we have woven and tied the strings ourselves.

Mr. Mukasey was attorney general of the United States from 2007 to 2009.
23322  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: pistola defiende contra ataque por cuchillo on: October 07, 2010, 04:34:03 PM
?Nadie?

Pues, comienzo yo  smiley

1) Poco comun que alguien intervenga en una situacion tan peligrosa.

2) Ese heroe no tenia tecnica para controlar el cuchillo desde atras.  Por lo cual, cuando el malo se le prestaba la atencion, el heroe estaba en una situacion pesima.  Si no fue por el buen tiro de hombre de la tienda, posiblemente hubiera muerto.
23323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 07, 2010, 04:31:02 PM
That license plate is very funny.

Mine is "TAOJONZ" cheesy
23324  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Case Study: knifer shot by store clerk on: October 07, 2010, 04:28:00 PM
IMHO it is quite remarkable that the other fellow jumped in to help the clerk.  Usually people hang back or run away.

Unfortunately he did not seem to have a clue as to how to intervene effectively and wound up being in a terrible position when the knifer turned on him; but for the lucky/instinctive shot by the clerk, the man might have been killed or gravely wounded.

Forgive me the , , , advertisement, but in Kali Tudo 3 we teach how to get behind someone AND WHAT TO DO ONCE THERE IF THEY HAVE A KNIFE.
23325  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stretching on: October 07, 2010, 04:24:08 PM
5 Rings post reminds me of something I read in a "Heal your Back" book; the gist of it was that it is really important to cool down in good posture and alignment.  Slouching, as can often be seen on a JJ mat when someone is exhausted and done for the day, leads to the ligaments/muscles, which are in a rather moldable condition, to mold in a misaligned way-- or something like that.  It is something which I have taken to heart.
23326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 07, 2010, 04:19:54 PM
Remember that wonderful moment during the primaries (perhaps it was Conneticutt?) wherein a reporter actually asked BO an intelligent prepared question?  After pointing out the increase in revenues from the Gingrich-Clinton Cap Gains cut (and some other example as well) he aked BO how he could be for increasing the Cap Gains rate when it would lead to less revenues-- and BO's answer was that it was a matter of "equity/fairness".
23327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 07, 2010, 11:17:56 AM
I was working for a private investigation agency that had a large case it was developing against a conspiracy of lawyers and chiropractors that had a network of folks who would create car accidents with a technique known as "Swoop and Squat".  They would load a car with willing low lilfes.  The driver would swoop in front of a nice car driven by a likely victim (e.g. an older woman driving a Mercedes) and stomp on the brakes, thus creating a rear end collision by the nice car.  The many passengers of the car would claim various soft tissue injuries requiring lots of chiro treatment.  Of course they simply pocketed the money they were promised and disappeared, and the chiros and their enforcer thugs the lawyers would bill the insurance company.

Where I fit in was to find the disappeared passengers and serve them so they could be deposed.  It was an interesting job-- too bad it didn't pay enough  wink
23328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Inflation on purpose? on: October 07, 2010, 11:11:26 AM
It is hard to overstate how clueless and deranged some of the ideas being considered are.  Note the ominous implications of the last paragraph-- is a stampede for the exits already in the pipeline?
============
By SUDEEP REDDY
The Federal Reserve spent the past three decades getting inflation low and keeping it there. But as the U.S. economy struggles and flirts with the prospect of deflation, some central bank officials are publicly broaching a controversial idea: lifting inflation above the Fed's informal target.

The rationale is that getting inflation up even temporarily would push "real" interest rates—nominal rates minus inflation—down, encouraging consumers and businesses to save less and to spend or invest more.

Both inside and outside the Fed, though, such an approach is controversial. It could undermine the anti-inflation credibility the Fed won three decades ago by raising interest rates to double-digits to beat back late-1970s price surges. "It's a big mistake," said Allan Meltzer of Carnegie Mellon University, a central bank historian. "Higher inflation is not going to solve our problem. Any gain from that experience would be temporary," adding that the economy would suffer later.

Others warn that pushing inflation higher than the target could create public confusion and risk fueling financial bubbles and market instability. They say Fed policy already is weakening the dollar and as a result prompting a gold and commodity boom. "The Fed is treading upon a mine-laden path that has never been tip-toed through in this country," said Andrew Busch, a currency strategist at BMO Capital Markets.

With the Fed's target for short-term rates already near zero, inflation too low—floating between 1% and 1.5%, below Fed officials' informal target of between 1.5% to 2%—and unemployment, at 9.6%, too high, Fed officials are expected to embark on a new round of asset purchases to lower long-term interest rates.

In the past week, two Fed officials raised the option of explicitly pursuing above-target inflation for a time to offset periods in which inflation is below target. New York Fed President William Dudley suggested that if inflation were to undershoot the central bank's target by half a percentage point next year, the Fed could offset the miss with an additional half-point increase later on.

And, in an interview, Chicago Fed Charles Evans said, "It seems to me if we could somehow get lower real interest rates so that the amount of excess savings that is taking place relative to investment needs is lowered, that would be one channel for stimulating the economy."

Officials outside the Fed have proposed using higher inflation to get real interest rates down. Earlier this year, International Monetary Fund chief economist Olivier Blanchard suggested that nations doubling their inflation target to 4% from 2% wouldn't be risky.

Such a move could provide more room to support the economy at a time when central banks have cut short-term interest rates nearly to zero but still face weak economies, a scenario Japan has faced since the 1990s and the U.S. is confronting now. Axel Weber, head of the Deutsche Bundesbank, and Philipp Hildebrand of the Swiss National Bank called the proposal "severely flawed."

In a speech in 2003 when he was a Fed governor, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that Japan attack prolonged deflation by announcing its goal of restoring the price level to the level it would've reached under moderate inflation. That approach, he explained, would lead initially to a "reflationary phase of policy" to bring prices back up to what would've been expected before the deflation.

But in a speech this summer, Mr. Bernanke said that raising medium-term inflation goals would amount to a "drastic" measure that's inappropriate for the U.S. economy. "Raising the inflation objective would likely entail much greater costs than benefits," he said. Inflation would be more volatile, bring more uncertainty and possibly create destabilizing moves in commodity and currency markets that "would likely overwhelm any benefits arising from this strategy," Mr. Bernanke said.

Mr. Dudley and Mr. Evans, however, are making a slightly different argument: They would leave the informal inflation target unchanged, but overshoot it for a time to compensate for the current undershoot.

Some economists question whether the Fed has the power to push inflation higher in today's weak economy. "Inflation expectations are not just pulled out of thin air," said William Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "The time when the Fed would have a good chance of hitting a higher inflation target is exactly the time when it would not make sense to do so."

Ethan Harris, head of North American economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, suspects Fed officials raising this possibility are, in part, trying to push their colleagues toward more stimulative policy and reassure the public and markets that they still have the capacity to keep the economy away from the shoals of deflation and renewed recession. "I think they're worried about the perception that the Fed is out of ammunition, which is a very dangerous perception for the markets and the economy," he said.
23329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Alexander: Poverty Pimps on: October 07, 2010, 10:44:04 AM
Alexander's Essay – October 7, 2010

Poverty Pimps
"The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would ... assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it." --Adam Smith

The lead poverty pimpAs a measure of community service, I round up my Boy Scout Troop periodically to meet with my friend, and Patriot Chaplain, Lurone Jennings, an inner-city community pastor.

We gather early on Saturday mornings to serve families who are struggling to make ends meet, most of them elderly and living in squalor. After cleaning around their shacks, providing meals and praying over those families, we always reconvene with Pastor Jennings for a time of fellowship.

Recently, I asked Lurone to explain what factors he thinks have contributed most to poverty in our city and nation. Without missing a beat, he said, "Poverty Pimps," referring to those who are elected to public office on the promise of a handout rather than a hand up -- this from a man who has devoted his life to serving those most irreconcilably ensnared by those pimps.

Handouts, of course, are a much easier sell than hand-ups, but the consequences in terms of human dignity and society are devastating.

Promising to give a man a fish rather than encouraging him to take up fishing to provide for himself is one of the clearest philosophical delineations between the worldviews of contemporary liberals and conservatives.

Lurone explained that, while New Deal and Great Society liberals may have had good intentions, the net result of their socialist endeavors has been the institutionalization of poverty, and the victimization and enslavement of what has become the Left's most reliable constituency of any stripe or association: black folks.

These days, a candidate for office can count on receiving 90-plus percent of the black vote in any election, so long as he has that all-important "D" next to his or her name.

Generations of Americans have become accustomed to being given, or at least promised, fish caught by someone else. Today, Barack Hussein Obama and his socialist bourgeoisie have banked their entire political fortunes on classist rhetoric, promoting disparity in order to foster dependence.

Once was the time that the Democrat Party was the embodiment of individual responsibility and states' rights. But the party was led astray by "useful idiots" on the Left, and by the end of Franklin Roosevelt's reign, the Party had been turned on end.

Indeed, the most famous of former Democrats, when asked why he left that once-proud party, replied, "I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me." That, of course, was Ronald Reagan.

Now, the Democrat Party, with Obama and his Leftists cadres leading the charge, is determined to break the back of free enterprise and thereby ensure an impoverished voting majority. And they're well on the way to doing so.

The objective of Obama's "fundamental transformation of the United States of America" is to replace free enterprise with a "social democracy," which Merriam-Webster aptly defines as "1: a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means; 2: a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices."

Unfortunately, whether it's Marxist, Nationalist or Democratic Socialism, the terminus of statism is tyranny, for as Historian Lord John Acton noted, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Eighteenth-century philosopher and political economist Adam Smith once wrote, "It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people." In his 1776 masterpiece on man and economy, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," Smith set forth that Liberty and free enterprise go hand in hand, and that should any potentate of state attempt to centralize the economy, that would most certainly be the end of Liberty.

Today, we Americans, in this last "Shining City on a Hill," stand at the precipice separating Liberty from tyranny.

In a few short weeks, we'll learn whether our nation is going to plant its feet firmly, shout "Enough!" and fight for the restoration of Essential Liberty, or be pushed yet another step closer to the abyss of totalitarianism.

With less than a month until the midterm referendum on the most menacing socialist agenda in U.S. history, I'm reminded of a pamphlet published in 1916 by an outspoken advocate for Liberty, William J. H. Boetcker. He entitled his tract "The Ten Cannots," and it fittingly contrasts the competing political and economic agendas of the right and left in this era: "You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves."

Indeed.

In the meantime, let us stand firm against the Poverty Pimps, and, noli nothis permittere te terere (Don't let the bastards get you down)!

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post
23330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 07, 2010, 10:21:46 AM
My first job when I moved to LA was serving subpoenas-- including in Compton, Watts, and East Los Angeles.
23331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cato Institute on: October 07, 2010, 10:20:37 AM
www.DownsizingGovernment.org
23332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 06, 2010, 10:20:10 PM
Recently I worked with Customs & Border Protection.  Some interesting tales were told over lunch and dinner.

The situation at the border is serious folks.
23333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pax Americana in Iraq on: October 06, 2010, 07:05:37 PM
By FOUAD AJAMI
The chronicles now assign Iraq a distinction all its own. It holds the world record for the longest period of time spent without a government in the aftermath of a contested election. Seven months on, the Baghdad political bazaar is still open. (Consolation to the Iraqis: Holland had held the distinction of longest without a government.)

This is a far cry from the ways of the Arab autocracies and despotisms in Iraq's neighborhood. The pharaonic state in Egypt would have dispensed overnight with the formation of a cabinet. In the monarchies next door to Iraq, the palace makes ministers and sends them packing. There is mayhem in Iraq to be sure, but there are the growing pains of a new democracy as well. Those who see this frustrating interlude in Iraq as evidence of the waste and the futility of the American project in Iraq give voice to a traditional hostility to the idea of democracy taking root in a distant, non-Western setting.

Incumbency appears to have paid dividends in Iraq as it does in many political contests. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now all but sure to form and lead the new government. Dogged and taciturn, he hunkered down, cut political bargains, and promised greater patronage in the days ahead—all to cobble together a broad coalition.

The elections last March yielded no clear winner. Four big slates divided and claimed the electorate. There was the Sunni vote, and it went to a Shiite standard-bearer, former prime minister and CIA favorite Ayad Allawi—91 seats in a parliament of 325 members. There was the slate of Prime Minister Maliki, overwhelmingly Shiite, which claimed 89 seats. Another broad Shiite coalition, the National Alliance, came third, with 70 parliamentary seats. The Kurds got roughly their share of the population, a total of 57 seats. All four blocks were far from united movements. They were ramshackle structures, riven by personal ambitions, made up of splinter groups, in quest of what could be had and gotten in a free-for-all scramble.

"Politics has no heart," said the radical firebrand, Muqtada al-Sadr, from his Iranian exile, in response to a follower puzzled by his decision to cease his veto of Mr. Maliki and back his coalition. "Be informed," Mr. Sadr continued, "politics is giving and taking."

For Mr. Sadr this is a remarkable transformation. His hatred of Mr. Maliki ran deep. It was Mr. Maliki who in early 2008 launched a decisive military campaign against Mr. Sadr's Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army. Mr. Maliki had made this decision alone, as the American military command had been dubious about his chances of success. Having won the war for Baghdad against the Sunnis, the Mahdi Army had grown brazen, it had become an instrument of outright pillage and mayhem. The Shiites themselves had grown weary of it, and Mr. Maliki would show its brigades and petty warlords no mercy.

By then Mr. Sadr had quit Iraq for his Iranian exile. He was afraid for his safety, afraid of the Americans, afraid of potential assassins. Above all, there was the sword of Damocles hanging over his head: an arrest warrant for the brutal murder in the spring of 2003 of a scion of one of the most illustrious Shiite clerical families, Abdul Majid al-Khoei.

For Mr. Sadr, his Iranian exile is a gilded cage—no one takes seriously his claim that he is there for religious studies. He chose Iran because no other place was safe for him, and he was largely able to hold his movement together by remote control. On his coattails 40 members made it to the new parliament.

Has Mr. Sadr bent to the will of Iran by backing Mr. Maliki? Conceivably so. Much of the recent commentary takes that as evidence of Iran's power in the making of a new government. But there is a simpler explanation. A political man with 12% of the parliamentary seats wanted access to state treasure and resources, opportunities for patronage and government employment for his brigades. Baghdad is not Chicago, but it has shades of it as the struggle for the oil bounty plays out.

So we can now see the broad outlines of a post-American order in Iraq. The withdrawal of the Americans is already "baked into the cake," a senior Iraqi politician recently told me. This is "the East," and in the East people have an unerring instinct for the intentions and the staying power of strangers. Iraqis needn't rush to the pages of Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars" to know of the disinterest of the president in the affairs of Iraq. There's little doubt that he'll carry out his promise to withdraw U.S. troops by Dec. 31, 2011. But it would make a great difference to Iraqis were he to signal that Washington has a strategic doctrine for the region, and for Iraq's place in it, that goes beyond that date.

The Iraqis have a fetish about their sovereignty, but they also understand their dependence. They will need American help, cover for their air space, protection for their oil commerce in the sea lanes of the Persian Gulf. This Iraqi government will remain, for the foreseeable future, a Shiite-led government anxious about the intentions of the Sunni Arab states; about the Turks now pushing deeper into Iraq's affairs, armed with Neo-Ottomanist ideas about Turkey as a patron of the Sunnis of Iraq. And there will always play upon Iraqis—Shiites in particular—a healthy fear of Iran and a desire to keep the Persian power at bay. There will be plenty of room for America in Iraq even after our soldiers have packed up their gear and left.

The question posed in the phase to come will be about the willingness of Pax Americana to craft a workable order in the Persian Gulf, and to make room for this new Iraq. It is a peculiarity of the American presence in the Arab- Islamic world, as contrasted to our work in East Asia, that we have always harbored deep reservations about democracy's viability there and have cast our lot with the autocracies. For a fleeting moment, George W. Bush broke with that history. But that older history, the resigned acceptance of autocracies, is the order of the day in Washington again.

It isn't perfect, this Iraqi polity midwifed by American power. But were we to acknowledge and accept that Iraqis and Americans have prevailed in that difficult land, in the face of such forbidding odds, we and the Iraqis shall be better for it. We have not labored in vain.

Mr. Ajami is a professor at The Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
23334  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 06, 2010, 06:26:17 PM
I find myself feeling concerned that we may come up short when compared to some of the cocky euphoria wafting around at present.

For example, if we lose Nevada and/or Delaware the RINOs will use it as an anti-Tea Party wedge. 

Even if we do as well as projected, we are essentially 50-50 with liberal fascism.
23335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 06, 2010, 06:00:25 PM
JDN:

Thank you for the data. 

1) Per chance do you have the population growth rates, the number entering the labor force each year, the number of jobs created at the current rate of growth, etc?

2) I get the point about the comparative murder rates, but
     a)  is the data accurate?  Often Mexican data is even less acurrate than ours.  How many people do we have in the US
         and how many murders?  Same question for Mexico?  Is the Mexican number being used consistent with the
         numbers being quoted for the narco wars?
     b) Apart from that I submit the proposition that a murder of a government official, police chief, DA, policeman, their
         family members, etc. is a far more socially destructive phenomenon than the sort of murders we have here in the
         US.   

23336  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Estudio: pistola defiende contra ataque por cuchillo on: October 06, 2010, 05:51:37 PM
?Analisis? ?Comentario?

http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhdysSmiamXw3onFgL
23337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 06, 2010, 05:50:32 PM
Heh heh  cheesy

Something I do from time to time is take a look at the read/post ratio i.e. how many reads on there for every post?  30-50 is very common, but some threads seem to generate more than that; there are a few that have over 100 reads per post.

Although I sometimes wonder who our lurkers are wink cheesy I ALWAYS appreciate each and every one of us who comes to play and by so doing make this the forum that it is.
23338  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stretching on: October 06, 2010, 05:45:50 PM
Baltic:

Good idea to summarize!

To complicate things, I would like to add the following variables into the mix:

1) soft static stretching i.e. simply loosening into a position e.g. laying on back with legs against wall and weight of legs works on release of abductors.

2) active static stretching:  increase of range of motion is developed by strengthening peak contraction of complementary muscles.  This can be done either by
               a) the complementary muscle working at the same time as the muscle being stretched/released or
               b) PNF ([proprio neuro facillitation or something like that) wherein the complementary muscle is actively worked
                   isometrically (often with the assistance of a training partner) in the range of motion in question, thus
                   triggering a stretch/release of the muscle in question

3) ballistic stretching: e.g. swinging the legs

Where do these fit in Baltic Dog's summary? 
23339  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Case Study: knifer shot by store clerk on: October 06, 2010, 05:36:28 PM
Giving this its own thread:

http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhdysSmiamXw3onFgL
23340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Laffer: Gates and Washington State tax rates on: October 06, 2010, 10:53:28 AM
By ARTHUR LAFFER
Framed on a wall in my office is a personal letter to me from Bill Gates the elder. "I am a fan of progressive taxation," he wrote. "I would say our country has prospered from using such a system—even at 70% rates to say nothing of 90%."

It's one thing to believe in bad policy. It's quite another to push it on others. But Mr. Gates Sr.—an accomplished lawyer, now retired—and his illustrious son are now trying to have their way with the people of the state of Washington.

Mr. Gates Sr. has personally contributed $500,000 to promote a statewide proposition on Washington's November ballot that would impose a brand new 5% tax on individuals earning over $200,000 per year and couples earning over $400,000 per year. An additional 4% surcharge would be levied on individuals and couples earning more than $500,000 and $1 million, respectively.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Bill Gates Sr.
.Along with creating a new income tax on high-income earners, Initiative 1098 would also reduce property, business and occupation taxes. But raising the income tax is the real issue. Doing so would put the state's economy at risk.

To imagine what such a large soak-the-rich income tax would do to Washington, we need only examine how states with the highest income-tax rates perform relative to their zero-income tax counterparts. Comparing the nine states with the highest tax rates on earned income to the nine states with no income tax shows how high tax rates weaken economic performance.

In the past decade, the nine states with the highest personal income tax rates have seen gross state product increase by 59.8%, personal income grow by 51%, and population increase by 6.1%. The nine states with no personal income tax have seen gross state product increase by 86.3%, personal income grow by 64.1%, and population increase by 15.5%.

It's striking how the high-tax states have underperformed relative to those with no income tax. Especially noteworthy is how well Washington has performed compared to states with no income tax.

If Washington passes Initiative 1098, it will go from being one of the fastest-growing states in the country to one of the slowest-growing. And passage of I-1098 will only be the beginning. Just look at Ohio, Michigan and California to see that once a state adopts an income tax, there is no end to the number of reasons that such a tax could be extended, expanded and increased.

Over the past 50 years, 11 states have introduced state income taxes exactly as Messrs. Gates and their allies are proposing—and the consequences have been devastating.

. ..The 11 states where income taxes were adopted over the past 50 years are: Connecticut (1991), New Jersey (1976), Ohio (1971), Rhode Island (1971), Pennsylvania (1971), Maine (1969), Illinois (1969), Nebraska (1967), Michigan (1967), Indiana (1963) and West Virginia (1961).

Each and every state that introduced an income tax saw its share of total U.S. output decline. Some of the states, like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, have become fiscal basket cases. As the nearby chart shows, even West Virginia, which was poor to begin with, got relatively poorer after adopting a state income tax.

Washington's I-1098 proposes a state income tax with a maximum rate higher than any of those initially adopted by the other 11 states. In one fell swoop, Washington would move from being one of the lowest-tax states in the nation to being one of the top nine highest. It's economic suicide.

The states that have high income tax rates or have adopted a state income tax over the past 50 years haven't even gotten the money they hoped for. They haven't avoided budget crises, nor have they provided better lives for the poor. The ongoing financial travails of California, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan and New York are cases in point.

Over the past decade, the nine states with the highest tax rates have experienced tax revenue growth of 74%—a full 22% less than the states with no income tax. Washington state has done better than the average of the nine no-tax states. Why on earth would it want to introduce a state income tax when it means less money for state coffers?

What's true for those states with the highest tax rates is doubly true for the 11 states that have instituted state income taxes over the past half-century. They too have lost huge sums of tax revenue.

A final thought for those who want to punish the rich for their success: As the nearby chart shows, those states with the highest tax rates, and those states that have introduced state income taxes, have seen standards of living (personal income per capita) substantially underperform compared to their no-tax counterparts.


If Mr. Gates Sr. and his son feel so strongly about taxing the rich, they should simply give the state a chunk of their own money and be done with it. Leave the rest of Washington's taxpayers alone.

Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).
23341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Logistical need for Pakistan on: October 06, 2010, 10:33:56 AM
Washington's Logistical Need for Pakistan

Tankers carrying fuel and trucks hauling vehicles and supplies bound for Afghanistan were regularly attacked over the weekend and Monday in Pakistan as militants took advantage of logjams of trucks caused by the closing of the Torkham border crossing at the Khyber Pass. The pass was closed in protest Sept. 30 after the deaths of three paramilitary Frontier Corps troops by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) attack helicopters in what the Pakistanis considered to be the fourth cross-border incursion in less than a week’s time. The southern crossing at Chaman remains open.

The Frontier Corps deaths simply served as the culminating offense in a long series of increasing American brazenness and disregard of Pakistani sovereignty (the offending forces were almost certainly American, and in any event, the aggressive cross-border operational agenda is being pushed by Washington, largely in pursuit of Haqqani militants). There is no shortage of outraged Pakistani militant groups seeking to hit back, and their targets — dozens of tankers laden with gasoline and parked in close proximity — require little operational expertise or technical complexity to strike. Indeed, few of the attacks have evinced much sophistication.

Even on a good day, the line of supply from the port of Karachi to Torkham has never been particularly secure, and as such, the ISAF holds stockpiles in Afghanistan to make temporary disruptions manageable. Thus, the key issue is not about short-term losses; it is whether the closure of Torkham is indeed temporary. So far, this appears to be the case: The Pakistani ambassador to the United States on Sunday insisted that the border would reopen soon, and a STRATFOR source in Pakistan has reiterated this claim. However, this is not the usual spat between Washington and Islamabad.

“It is unlikely that the United States and ISAF could support nearly 150,000 troops in Afghanistan and sustain combat operations at the current tempo — or, it is worth noting, easily withdraw its forces in the years ahead — without Pakistani acquiescence allowing the transit of supplies.”
CIA unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in Pakistan in September totaled as many as the previous four months combined and were roughly double the previous one-month high at the beginning of the year. Other forms of fire support, close air support and cross-border incursions also appear to be on the rise as the U.S. struggles to put meaningful pressure on the Taliban to force a negotiated settlement that will facilitate the beginnings of an American exit from the country. Pakistan, angered at these blatant operational escalations, has exercised one of its key levers against its ally: reminding Washington of its reliance on Pakistani territory (and Pakistani refineries) to wage the war in Afghanistan.

War requires logistics — even the Taliban has logistical vulnerabilities. But sustained, multidivisional expeditionary warfare conducted with modern, combined arms is unspeakably resource intensive. The withdrawal of American vehicles, equipment and materiel from Iraq in 2010 has been characterized as more massive and complex than the “Red Ball Express” that sustained the Allied offensive in Europe in World War II — and this for a country with flat, unimpeded access to Kuwaiti ports. It is unlikely that the United States and ISAF could support nearly 150,000 troops in Afghanistan and sustain combat operations at the current tempo — or, it is worth noting, easily withdraw its forces in the years ahead — without Pakistani acquiescence allowing the transit of supplies. In recent years, alternate northern routes have been opened and expanded. But these have served to complement, not replace, the Pakistani routes, which are by far the shortest, most direct and most established.

Ultimately, as we have noted, the United States is demanding and needs contradictory things from Pakistan. But of all the things the Americans want from the Pakistanis — intelligence sharing, permission for (or at least tolerance of) cross-border operations, Pakistani operations to complement those efforts or replace them where possible — Islamabad’s acquiescence on the unimpeded flow of supplies is a need dictated by the logistical realities of war.

23342  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar and American Freedom on: October 06, 2010, 10:15:10 AM
I gather that the Chinese military has identified our reliance on cybertechnology to be a major weak link for our military and that therefore they are applying considerable effort and intelligence to how they can disable our capabilities via this sort of thing.
23343  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 06, 2010, 10:12:28 AM
Well, I certainly don't investigate fraud for a living, but my general impression is that the Mexican equivalent of the SEC is not a real powerhouse bureaucracy.  Anyway, I certainly don't insist on the point-- it was simply something that popped into my head.

Do you happen to have handy any general data on the Mexican economy as a whole?
23344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McClintock on the Propositions on: October 06, 2010, 10:09:43 AM
McClintock, now a congressman, was a very good state legislator.  I look to him to help me assess the sometimes bewildering array of initiatives-- many of which are quite deceptive.

Though I most certainly will be voting for the Marijuana initiatve (#19) on the rest I will be following his recommendations:

McClintock on the Propositions

Prop 19: When Worlds Collide.  NO.   If this simply allowed people to cultivate and smoke marijuana themselves and left the rest of us alone, it would be worth considering.   But it goes much further and provides that "no person shall be discriminated against or denied any right or privilege" for pot use, inviting a lawsuit every time an employer tries to require a drug test, for example.  If you want to smoke pot in your own world, I don't care.  But don't bring it into mine.     

Prop 20: Congressional Redistricting. YES.   This finishes the work we began in 2008 to get redistricting decisions away from self-interested state legislators and into the hands of a bi-partisan commission.  The original reform omitted Congressional districts – this simply adds them.

Prop 21: Highway Robbery.  NO.  Right now, state park users pay a nominal fee that helps pay for upkeep, assuring that those who use our state parks help pay for them.  This measure ends the day-user fee and shifts the cost to the rest of us by imposing an $18 per car tax increase whether we use the parks or not.   Stealing money from highway travelers used to be called "highway robbery."  Now it's called "Proposition 21."

Prop 22: Hands Off Our Money. YES.   This takes a giant leap toward restoring local government independence and protecting our transportation taxes by prohibiting state raids on local and transportation funds.  Local governments are hardly paragons of virtue, but local tax revenues should remain local. 

Prop 23:  Liberation from the Environmental Left.  YES.   In 2006, Sacramento's rocket-scientists enacted AB 32, imposing draconian restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions (yes, that's the stuff you exhale).  They promised to save the planet from "global warming" and open a cornucopia of new jobs.  Since then, California's unemployment rate has shot far beyond the national unemployment rate and the earth has continued to warm and cool as it has for billions of years.  Prop 23 merely holds the Environmental Left to its promise: it suspends AB 32 until unemployment stabilizes at or below its pre-AB 32 level. 

Prop 24: Because Taxes Just Aren't High Enough.  NO.   This is a predictable entry by the public employee unions to impose an additional $1.7 billion tax on businesses.  The problem, of course, is that businesses don't pay business taxes – we do.  Business taxes can only be paid in three ways: by us as consumers (through higher prices), by us as employees (through lower wages) and by us as investors (through lower earnings on our 401(k)'s).

Prop 25: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire.  NO.   This changes the 2/3 vote requirement for the state budget to a simple majority – a reform I have long supported.  Experience has shown that the current 2/3 vote requirement for the budget does not restrain spending and it utterly blurs accountability.  But such a reform MUST repair the 2/3 vote requirement for all tax increases and restore constitutional spending and borrowing limits.  Without these provisions, Prop. 25 would be a disaster for taxpayers and a recipe for bankruptcy.

Prop 26: Calling a Tax a Tax.  YES.  Under the infamous Sinclair Paint decision, virtually any tax may be increased by majority vote as long as it is called a "fee," gutting the 2/3 vote requirement in the state constitution to raise taxes.  Prop. 26 rescinds Sinclair Paint, restores the Constitution, and calls a tax a tax.

Prop 27: OMG.  NO.  Want to go back to the days when politicians drew their own district lines, literally choosing their own voters?  This will get us there. 

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

McClintock for Congress PO Box 1198  Rocklin, CA 95677
www.helptom.com (530) 613-1188
 
Paid for by McClintock for Congress


23345  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / part 2 on: October 06, 2010, 08:56:14 AM

We have in the past often mentioned that an increase in the money supply – also known as inflation – percolates through the economy over time and unevenly, and that a rise in the general level of prices is merely one of its eventual effects, and not necessarily the most important or most damaging one. We actually know of no-one off the cuff who ever asserted that an 'increase in the monetary base would lead to an equal proportionate rise in the price level in a fairly short time' as Krugman asserts.

Krugman then criticizes the view of economic historian Niall Fergusson, a vocal and well-known critic of deficit spending, as well as the remarks of Allan Meltzer and Arthur Laffer, all of whom predicted that higher interest rates and a considerable rise in prices would eventually result from too loose monetary policy and large deficit spending:

 

“You can see the classical theory of interest and the soaring-rate prediction clearly in Niall Ferguson’s remarks:

'After all, $1.75 trillion is an awful lot of freshly minted treasuries to land on the bond market at a time of recession, and I still don’t quite know who is going to buy them … I predict, in the weeks and months ahead, a very painful tug-of-war between our monetary policy and our fiscal policy as the markets realize just what a vast quantity of bonds are going to have to be absorbed by the financial system this year. That will tend to drive the price of the bonds down, and drive up interest rates', and, of course, in many WSJ op-eds, in analyses from Morgan Stanley, and so on. Meanwhile, you can see the high-inflation prediction in pieces by Meltzer and Laffer — with the latter helpfully titled, “Get Ready for Inflation and Higher Interest Rates”.
 

 

Note here that Meltzer explicitly closes his remarks by noting that there is a big difference between the near term effects and the long range effects of monetary policy – in other words, the fact that the easily discernible effects of soaring interest rates and rising prices have not yet arrived is not necessarily proof that they never will. Of course in Keynes' world, 'we're all dead in the long run' anyway. Unfortunately the current bust shows that the long run has a nasty habit of catching up with us now and then.

Krugman takes a position akin to that of a stock market trader who buys the Nasdaq at 5,000 points in the year 2000, while declaring 'it hasn't crashed yet – and that means it never will.'

 

“While the other side was making these predictions, people like me were saying that classical economics was all wrong in a liquidity trap. Government borrowing did not confront a fixed supply of funds: we were in a paradox of thrift world, where desired savings (at full employment) exceeded desired investment, and hence savings would expand to meet the demand, and interest rates need not rise. As for inflation, increases in the monetary base would have no effect in a liquidity trap; deflation, not inflation, was the risk.”
 

 

To this it must be noted that Krugman regards 'inflation' as a synonym for 'rising prices' – this is to say he semantically confuses cause and effect. This misuse of terms is nowadays so widespread that even dictionaries provide 'rising prices' as the definition of inflation.

There is of course no 'paradox of thrift' (thrift, i.e. saving, can not ever be 'paradoxical' given that it is the sine qua nonprecondition for genuine economic growth and wealth creation) and the concept of the 'liquidity trap' is equally misguided. It is true that the demand for cash balances has been rising and that the household savings rate has increased, but this is not a negative event, it is a necessary precondition for healing the boom-distorted economy. In fact, a rise in the demand for money has no bearing on real consumption and investment, it merely has an effect on money prices.

Deflation meanwhile is not a risk, it would actually be a desirable outcome. At the very least it would stop further malinvestment in its tracks as no new bubble activities could be started if a genuine deflation of the money supply were to occur, i.e. if deposit liabilities previously created from thin air were to vanish due to a net repayment of credit to the fractionally reserved banking system.

Krugman neglects to consider that the problem is not the bust but the preceding boom – it was during the boom when malinvestment and consumption of capital occurred on a grand scale, whereas the bust is the economy's attempt to heal itself from these distortions.

Krugman continues:

 

“So, how has it turned out? The 10-year bond rate is about 2.5 percent, lower than it was when Ferguson made that prediction. Inflation keeps falling. The attacks on Keynesianism now come down to “but unemployment has stayed high!” which proves nothing — especially because if you took a Keynesian view seriously, it suggested even given what we knew in early 2009 that the stimulus was much too small to restore full employment.”
 

 

When pointing to the fact that interest rates on US government debt have not risen in spite of soaring deficit spending and inflation , Krugman neglects the often asymmetric nature of such events. Greek bond yields were barely different from German bond yields until they weren't anymore and it happened very quickly and 'unexpectedly', as the market reassessed the prospects of the Greek state's ability to ever pay back its debts. Now don't get us wrong – we were bullish on US government bonds as well , mainly because we expected that the market would not doubt the US government's solvency for some time and because we thought that in view of private sector defaults and deleveraging, more and more funds would be directed toward this perceived 'safest debtor'.

This will eventually change if the government's profligacy is not stopped. As to deflation, none has occurred as of yet: money TMS has increased by about 27% since the onset of the crisis  in August 2008, which is a huge amount of inflation in a very short time. That this has happened in spite of private sector deleveraging is testament to the effectiveness of the government's inflationary efforts so far.

The claim that 'the stimulus was too small' is a typical Keynesian excuse, always invoked when the Keynesian deficit spending recipe fails. Consider here for a moment that under the Obama administration, the US budget deficit has so far been the highest ever in peace time, whether measured in monetary terms or relative to economic output. How much more would have been enough?

Robert Murphy has recently noted that Krugman's case for deficit spending not only fails theoretically, but clearly also failsempirically.

Says Murphy:

 

“And of course, today's Keynesians point to our current economy as "proof" of how good massive deficits are. Why, thisshould have been the Second Great Depression, but thanks to Obama's willingness to spend — in contrast to Herbert Hoover — we are only suffering through the Great Recession. Phew! Do you notice the pattern? The anti-Keynesians point to actual success stories as evidence of the potency of their policies. The Keynesians, in contrast, point to awful economies and claim that they'd be even worse were it not for the Keynesian "medicine."”
 

 

Krugman closes by saying:

 

“The point is that recent events have actually amounted to a fairly clear test of Keynesian versus classical economics — and Keynesian economics won, hands down.”
 

 

Krugman mentions quite a few Chicago School proponents in his article at first. These he later conflates with 'classical' economists. His main bone of contention with the Chicago School seems to be that it is not enamored with monetary inflation and casts doubt on the efficacy of deficit spending. The Austrians are in the same boat with regards to these things, but curiously remain unmentioned – presumably due to their refusal to employ 'models'.

While Krugman concentrates  on the alleged predictive powers of Keynesianism – which were so sorely absent when it would have really mattered – Keynesian economics is certainly at the root of our predicament and continues to be practiced regardless of a still growing and quite large body of damning empirical evidence against it (leaving aside its theoretical flaws for the moment).

In that sense it has surely 'won', as its acceptance as a viable body of ideas to 'guide economic policy' curiously continues in spite of its evident failure. Its precepts to combat recession haveinter alia been tried in spades and in vain in Japan for over two decades, with the well-known outcome of seemingly never-ending economic stagnation (Krugman would argue that they 'didn't spend enough').

 


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

 



This is the kind of victory that reminds one fatally of Pyrrhus of Epirus, who commented on his battlefield successes against the Romans: “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined."
23346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Krugman analyzed on: October 06, 2010, 08:54:58 AM
Krugman and the ‘Other Half’
October 5th, 2010 | Author: Pater Tenebrarum

 

Paul Krugman – one of the few 'didn't see the bust coming' economists who actually admitted to the complete failure of mainstream economists to make any correct predictions when it would actually have been important to make them – recently ruminated from his perch at the NYT about what he calls the 'other half' – meaning all economists who are not immediately identifiable as members of the Keynesian creed.

 

You probably won't be surprised to learn that he once again fails to even mention the Austrians, as though they didn't exist. Krugman has along history of simply ignoring Austrian critiques of his writings, which has raised considerable suspicion that he avoids them for lack of cogent arguments.

Not least thanks to the internet, subjectivist economics has luckily been rescued from obscurity, after having been almost successfully buried by decades of propaganda.  Propaganda spouted in the main by intellectuals in the service of statism, of which Krugman is one of the more prominent nowadays.

Keynes, whose theories Krugman finds so convincing, wrote what governments wanted to hear: namely that the free market could not be trusted and required constant intervention by the state to function 'properly'.  Keynes' major work on economics – the 'General Theory' – is in the main a collection of self-contradictory mumbo-jumbo that has been expertly picked apart by Austrians, most effectively by Henry Hazlitt in 'The Failure of the New Economics', where Keynes' work is refuted almost line by line.

Keynes is in essence an apologist for inflationism, and nothing of what he wrote was really new – it was a warmed-over brew of  'underconsumption' and pro-inflationism theories previously propounded by a plethora of other writers. These theories didn't magically become more correct when restated by Keynes.

Our current predicament – an economic bust so severe that one must look back to the pre- World War 2 period to find something comparable – is in the main the end result of governments hewing to Keynesian economics and variants thereof for many decades.

The compatibility of the Keynesian system with statism has been confirmed by the man himself, who wrote in the preface to the German edition of the 'General Theory':

 

“The theory of aggregated production, which is the point of the following book, nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state [eines totalen Staates] than the theory of production and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire.”
 

 

At the time Keynes probably deemed totalitarianism sufficientlyde rigeur in Germany that he could afford to tell the truth.

Krugman's blog entry begins with:

 

“Ezra Klein has written in, asking for a post laying out the difference between the more or less Keynesian model Brad DeLong and I work with and the models others have been using – and how their predictions differ.”
 

 

Given that the Austrians who actually do have a consistent record of  correct predictions aren't even mentioned – who cares?

 

“It’s a good request, although the truth is that the other side in this debate doesn’t necessarily agree on a single model, or evenuse models at all.”
 

 

Anyone who doesn't 'use models' in the social science of economics is denounced by Krugman in his back-link as  'thinking in slogans' – as opposed to those who by 'thinking in models' allegedly hew to the scientific method. The main problem with this is that all these models are a waste of time and effort. They can make no correct predictions and are not even accuratedescriptions of economic phenomena. As Murray Rothbard notes in the preface to 'Theory and History' by Ludwig von Mises:

 

“Is the fact of human purposive action "verifiable?" Is it "empirical?" Yes, but certainly not in the precise, or quantitative way that the imitators of physics are used to. The empiricism is broad and qualitative, stemming from the essence of human experience; it has nothing to do with statistics or historical events. Furthermore, it is dependent on the fact that we are all human beings and can therefore use this knowledge to apply it to others of the same species. Still less is the axiom of purposive action "falsifiable." It is so evident, once mentioned and considered, that it clearly forms the very marrow of our experience in the world.

It is just as well that economic theory does not need "testing," for it is impossible to test it in any way by checking its propositions against homogeneous bits of uniform events. For there are no such events. The use of statistics and quantitative data may try to mask this fact, but their seeming precision is only grounded on historical events that are not homogeneous in any sense. Each historical event is a complex, unique resultant of many causal factors. Since it is unique, it cannot be used for a positivistic test, and since it is unique it cannot be combined with other events in the form of statistical correlations and achieve any meaningful result. In analyzing the business cycle, for example, it is not legitimate to treat each cycle as strictly homogeneous to every other, and therefore to add, multiply, manipulate, and correlate data.”
 

 

In short, there is really no use for mathematical models in economics. Meanwhile, Krugman's charge that anyone eschewing the use of models is 'thinking in slogans' is pure polemic. The Austrian method is deductive, logical and coherent. Keynes' followers have constructed 'models' based on his writings, but his writings are neither logical nor coherent (if you don't believe us, read his tome and contrast it with , say, 'Human Action' and its clarity of prose and inescapable logic).

Krugman continues:

 

“Still, I think it is possible to describe the general views of the other guys — and to see how off their predictions have been.”
 

 

They haven't been better or worse than his own, depending on what time frame and specific topic one considers.

 

“So: first of all, the other side in this debate generally adheres, more or less, to something like what Keynes called the “classical theory” of employment, in which employment and output are basically determined by the supply side. Casey Mulligan has been most explicit here, coming up with increasingly, um, creative stories about how what we're seeing is a choice by workers to work less; but the whole Kocherlakota structural unemployment thing is similar in its implications.”
 

 

Now, from what little we know, Mulligan (a Chicago University economics professor)  got some things right and some not. In fact, he immediately shot back by listing his correct predictionson his blog. Of course he also once denied that there was actually a housing bubble , which is patently absurd. As to Kocherlakota, for once we agreed with a Fed bureaucrat when he mentioned that the unemployment problem can not be solved by easing monetary policy further because after the bust there isinter alia a mismatch between the skills many of the unemployed workers possess and the skills the market demands. One of the reasons for high unemployment after a boom inevitably gives way to a bust is that the economy's production structure must adjust to the economic reality the bust reveals – and so must workers.

A case in point is that after so much capital has been malinvested in the housing sector due to businessmen erring about the future demand for homes on account of artificially low interest rates, there is now far less demand for construction workers than there used to be. Those who lost their employment in this sector need to do something else and  that requires different skills. It takes time to learn what they are and to acquire them. Mind, this is not the only reason for high unemployment during the bust phase, but it is a noteworthy factor.

Krugman continues:

 

“Oh, and the Cochrane-Fama thing about how a dollar of government spending necessarily displaces a dollar of private spending is basically a classical view, although there doesn’t seem to be a model behind it, just a misunderstanding of what accounting identities mean.”
 

 

No model behind it! The horror! Fama is of course most famous for the 'efficient market hypothesis' – which essentially denies that Warren Buffett or any other successful trader or investor can possibly even exist. However, the fact that the government possesses no resources of its own suggests ipso facto that the money it spends must be taken from the private sector (whether by taxation, borrowing or inflation).  This means that every dollar employed in government spending/consumption is definitely missing from the private sector.

Furthermore, Ricardian equivalence (yes, a 'classical view') suggests that there is no difference between spending financed by higher taxation or spending by borrowing, since economic actors know enough to expect higher taxes later if government spending is financed by borrowing and will adjust their behavior accordingly. Funny enough, Casey Mulligan has published a paperthat shows that the 'Keynesian multiplier' of government spending is an illusion( we haven't read it, but in essence he seems to be beating them with their own model). This is by the way not the first mainstream study coming to this conclusion – Robert Barro of Harvard has been saying the same – he rightly dubs the government's stimulus policies 'voodoo economics'.

Krugman reveals one of the  problems of his approach when he refers to the 'accounting identities' so beloved by the 'modelers'. If purposeful human action could be reduced to accounting identities it would really be easy. However, these tautologies are meaningless in real life. To quote Patrick Barron: C+I+G = Baloney.

Krugman again:

 

“Once you have a more or less classical view of unemployment, you naturally have the classical theory of the interest rate, in which it’s all about supply and demand for funds, and something like a quantity theory of money, in which increases in the monetary base lead, in a fairly short time, to equal proportional rises in the price level. This led to the prediction that large fiscal deficits would lead to soaring interest rates, and that the large rise in the monetary base due to Fed expansion would lead to high inflation.”
 

 

According to Ludwig von Mises the natural, or originary interest rate is really nothing but an expression of time preference. It is a price ratio between the value of a present versus the value of a future good. The market interest rate meanwhile – to quote Hans-Hermann Hoppe (in 'The Misesian Case Against Keynes') is

 

“[…] the aggregate sum of all individual time-preference rates, reflecting, so to speak, the social rate of time preference and equilibrating social savings (i.e., the supply of present goods offered for exchange against future goods) and social investment (i.e., the demand for present goods capable of yielding future returns).”
 

 

As Hoppe further notes in explicating Mises' theory of interest (which is contrary to the Keynesian view of the interest rate as a purely monetary phenomenon):

 

“While interest (time preference) thus has a direct praxeological relationship to employment and social income, it has nothing whatsoever to do with money. To be sure, a money economy also includes a monetary expression for the social rate of time preference. Yet this does not change the fact that interest and money are systematically independent and unrelated and that interest is essentially a "real," not a monetary phenomenon.”
 

 

With regards to the 'quantity theory of money' we hold with Hayek's bon-mot that 'one of the greatest misfortunes would be if people ceased to believe in the quantity theory of money – except if they were to take it literally'. In the video below Hayek criticizes Milton Friedman as an 'apostle of macro-economics' who is in 'one respect still a Keynesian' and notes his disagreement  with Friedman's contention that there is a demonstrable and measurable direct relationship between the general price level and the total quantity of money.

 
23347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: October 05, 2010, 08:19:40 PM
Maybe it is a way for the narco money to launder itself?

Monterrey is the heartland of Mexican industry/business/entrepeneurialism.  The descent into narco-anarchy there bodes very poorly for Mexico.
23348  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: RIP IN PEACE CHRISTOPHER RICKETTS on: October 05, 2010, 08:16:41 PM
I was fortunate enough to have GM Ricketts work with me for a few minutes at a seminar.  The training was at media and corto range and something I did was different that the response that he taught but when he saw the reason for what I had been taught he was very JKD about it all-- what I am trying to say is that he was mentally fluid.

PG Edgar spoke very well of him.
23349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor 10/4/10 on: October 05, 2010, 01:33:55 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Oct. 4, 2010
October 4, 2010 | 2056 GMT
     :





20 Tourists Kidnapped in Acapulco

A group of armed men traveling in four cars reportedly kidnapped 20 Mexican
tourists in the Costa Azul neighborhood of Acapulco, Guerrero state, only
600 meters (about 650 yards) from the popular tourist spot of Costera Miguel
Aleman, at around 4:30 p.m. local time Oct. 1. The victims were from a group
of 22 tourists traveling in four vehicles from Morelia, Michoacan state.
They had stopped near Cristobal Colon and Fernando de Magallanes streets
while two individuals from the group sought lodging. The group consisted of
mechanics, masons, painters and their families, but all were reportedly
linked to the sale of scrap iron. While the two individuals sought a hotel,
some 30 armed men in six SUVs took the remaining 20 tourists captive.

The two remaining tourists did not contact Acapulco law enforcement
authorities until the following morning. They said they saw the kidnappers,
who were armed with assault rifles, line the victims against a wall before
forcing them into the SUVs and departing the scene. Authorities have
reportedly searched the tourists’ four vehicles for clues regarding who
carried out the kidnapping. The federal attorney general’s office has since
opened two separate cases in Michoacan and Guerrero states and solicited the
help of the federal police, naval and army intelligence branches in the
region to help find the 20 kidnapped tourists.

Acapulco has been the most violent of Mexico’s major tourist destinations
for several years now. Multiple drug trafficking organizations have laid
claim to the territory or have significant operations in the city and the
surrounding region. The port of Acapulco is not traditionally a major
commercial shipping hub, but a tremendous amount of boat traffic travels in
and out of Acapulco Bay and the surrounding waters and lagoons, making it an
ideal location for shipments of cocaine and other narcotics. La Familia
Michoacana (LFM), the Sinaloa Federation, and the Beltran Leyva Organization
(BLO) and its factions have all fought for control of the city, but violence
previously had been limited to people connected to organized criminal
activities.

Though Mexican authorities have yet to name suspects in the case, the show
of force and the manner in which these 20 tourists were taken bears the
hallmarks of an organized crime group. Large organized crime groups tend to
carry out kidnapping for ransom when they need quick cash to sustain
operations. Recently, elements of the BLO operating in the city have
experienced major setbacks in terms of leadership and operational
capability, suggesting it might have played a role. That the group of
tourists hailed from Morelia, Michoacan — the home base of LFM, BLO’s main
rival in Acapulco — may also have played a role in this incident.


Monterrey Grenade Attacks

A string of grenade attacks in the Monterrey metropolitan area late the week
of Sept. 27 capped a week of similar attacks in other hot spots along the
South Texas-Mexico border. Early in the week, a group of armed men threw a
fragmentation grenade at the facade of the Public Security Secretariat
building in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, late Sept 27. Later, two people
were injured when a group of armed men threw a grenade outside city hall in
Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, the afternoon of Sept. 29. Then, the Monterrey
area saw three incidents in which fragmentation hand grenades detonated near
security infrastructure or diplomatic facilities the evening of Oct. 1. The
first occurred near a prison facility, the second near a federal
courthouse — injuring a guard outside the facility — and the third near the
U.S. Consulate. The following night, a group of armed men in two trucks
reportedly threw a hand grenade into a group of people walking outside the
Guadalupe (part of the Monterrey metro area) city hall at around 11:15 p.m.
Oct. 2. The blast, which hit a popular town square, injured between 15 and
20 people, several of whom were children.

The grenade attacks all occurred in territory disputed by Los Zetas and the
Gulf cartel and its allies in the New Federation. Mexican authorities have
not specified who they think carried out the attacks. Los Zetas were
implicated in a similar grenade attack during the annual El Grito
celebration in Morelia, Michoacan state, in 2008. Eight people were killed
and more than 100 were injured in that incident. While nothing suggests Los
Zetas carried out this attack, a recent Mexican naval operation in Matamoros
and Reynosa netted nearly 30 members of the Gulf cartel, a large arms cache
and several hundred thousand dollars and pesos. This would be motivation
enough for the Gulf cartel to lash out against government targets, but the
Gulf cartel has not been known to target civilians indiscriminately.

Regardless of who is responsible, these incidents continue to underscore the
increasing level of insecurity in the Monterrey metro area and in
northeastern Mexico in general. As this insecurity persists, we can expect
to see criminal groups further exploit the civilian population for
territorial and financial gains, especially if both groups continue to
experience operational losses.





Click to view map


Sept. 27

  a.. Unidentified gunmen attacked the Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state,
Public Security Secretariat office with a grenade. No injuries were reported
and the building was only slightly damaged.
  b.. One soldier and four suspected cartel gunmen were killed during a
firefight in the municipality of Coahuayana, Michoacan state.
  c.. Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a university student from the parking
lot of the Valle de Atemajac University in Guadalajara, Jalisco state.

Sept. 28

  a.. Federal police announced the arrest of suspected La Linea cell leader
Jose Ivan Contreras Lumbreras in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. Contreras
is believed to have participated in a July 15 car bomb attack.
  b.. Three people were injured in a firefight between members of two labor
unions in Boxite, Mexico state. The two unions were competing for contracts
in road construction.
  c.. Unidentified gunmen in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco state, killed a father and
son during an ambush on their vehicle.

Sept. 29

  a.. Two people were injured in a grenade attack on the city hall in
Matamoros, Tamaulipas state.
  b.. Three unidentified people in a vehicle were killed in a firefight with
soldiers in Gomez Palacio, Durango state. One of the vehicle’s occupants was
arrested after attempting to flee.
  c.. Four suspected cartel gunmen were killed in a firefight with soldiers
in Cerralvo, Nuevo Leon state. Soldiers freed four people in a separate
operation against suspected kidnappers in Cerralvo.

Sept. 30

  a.. One person was killed during a firefight between unidentified people
in a bar in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state.
  b.. Authorities announced the arrests of six suspected LFM members
believed involved in carjackings in Salamanca, Guanajuato state. The
suspects allegedly belonged to an LFM cell that operated in the
municipalities of Yuriria, Moroleon and Uriangato.
  c.. Four policemen were kidnapped from a bar in Netzahualcoyotl, Mexico
state, and later shot and dumped into a nearby river. One of the victims
survived.

Oct. 1

  a.. Soldiers in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, killed two suspected cartel
gunmen and seized 4,000 rounds of ammunition and 20 kilograms (about 44
pounds) of cocaine.
  b.. Police at the Mexico City International Airport arrested a man who had
swallowed 81 capsules of cocaine. The suspect was initially screened for
nervous behavior during a document inspection.
  c.. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents discovered a suspected
smuggling tunnel in Nogales, Arizona. The tunnel extended approximately 15
meters into the U.S. side of the border.

Oct. 2

  a.. The Mexico City attorney general’s office announced the arrests of two
people allegedly responsible for the murder of the Mexico Roma patriarch on
Sept. 27. Both suspects are members of the national Roma community.
  b.. Fourteen suspected members of criminal groups were killed in a
firefight in the municipality of Otaez, Durango state.
  c.. The body of an unidentified man was found in the Quinta Velarde
neighborhood of Guadalajara, Jalisco state. The body had a message attached
to its stomach with a knife. The message attributed the crime to a group
called “La Limpieza,” which means “The Cleaning.”
  d.. Twelve people were injured in a grenade attack near city hall in
Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state.

Oct. 3

  a.. Two people were killed and four others were injured in a firefight in
Nextipac, Jalisco state. Several intoxicated state investigative agents were
reportedly involved in the shooting.
  b.. Soldiers arrested eight suspected members of Los Zetas in Guadalupe,
Nuevo Leon state. The suspects were arrested after a military patrol chased
three vehicles attempting to flee in the Tamaulipas neighborhood.
23350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: October 05, 2010, 01:25:29 PM
Similar problems are presented by the high speed line between LA and SF here in CA for which the voters voted to borrow billions of dollars which we don't have.
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