Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 28, 2015, 02:17:19 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
87745 Posts in 2281 Topics by 1070 Members
Latest Member: Nexquietus
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 466 467 [468] 469 470 ... 681
23351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: More Predator strikes on: July 13, 2009, 07:34:13 AM
Several Taliban training camps in the Pakistan hinterland were hit last week by missiles fired from American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, reportedly killing some 20 terrorists. Remarkably, some people think these strikes are a bad idea.

To get a sense of what U.S. drone strikes have accomplished in the past two years, recall the political furor that followed a July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which found that al Qaeda had "protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland [i.e., U.S.] attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. . . . As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment." The media declared we were losing the war.

Less than a year later, then-CIA director Michael Hayden offered a far more upbeat assessment to the Washington Post.

 
Associated Press
 
Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamat-i-Islami rally in Lahore on July 3rd against reported U. S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas along the Afghanistan border.
What changed? At least part of the answer is that the U.S. went from carrying out only a handful of drone attacks in 2007 to more than 30 in 2008. According to U.S. intelligence, among the "high-value targets" killed in these new strikes were al Qaeda spokesman Abu Layth al-Libi, weapons expert Abu Sulayman al Jazairi, chemical and biological expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, commander and logistician Abu Wafa al-Saudi, al Qaeda "Emir" Abu al-Hasan al Rimi, and, in November, Rashid Rauf. Rauf, who had escaped from a Pakistan jail the previous year, was a coordinator of the summer 2007 plot to blow up passenger planes over the Atlantic.

Is the world better off with these people dead? We think so. Then again, Lord Bingham, until recently Britain's senior law lord, has recently said UAV strikes may be "beyond the pale" and potentially on a par with cluster bombs and landmines. Australian counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen says "the Predator [drone] strikes have an entirely negative effect on Pakistani stability." He adds, "We should be cutting strikes back pretty substantially."

In both cases, the argument against drones rests on the belief that the attacks cause wide-scale casualties among noncombatants, thereby embittering local populations and losing hearts and minds. If you glean your information from wire reports -- which depend on stringers who are rarely eyewitnesses -- the argument seems almost plausible.

Yet anyone familiar with Predator technology knows how misleading those reports can be. Unlike fighter jets or cruise missiles, Predators can loiter over their targets for more than 20 hours, take photos in which men, women and children can be clearly distinguished (burqas can be visible from 20,000 feet) and deliver laser-guided munitions with low explosive yields. This minimizes the risks of the "collateral damage" that often comes from 500-pound bombs. Far from being "beyond the pale," drones have made war-fighting more humane.

A U.S. intelligence summary we've seen corrects the record of various media reports claiming high casualties from the Predator strikes. For example, on April 1 the BBC reported that "a missile fired by a suspected U.S. drone has killed at least 10 people in Pakistan." But the intelligence report says that half that number were killed, among them Abdullah Hamas al-Filistini, a top al Qaeda trainer, and that no women and children were present.

In each of the strikes in 2009 that are described by the intelligence summary, the report says no women or children were killed. Moreover, we know of planned drone attacks that were aborted when Predator cameras spied their presence. And an April 19 strike on a compound in South Waziristan did destroy a truck loaded with what the report estimates were more explosives than the truck that took out Islamabad's Marriott Hotel last September. That Islamabad attack killed 54 people and injured more than 260 others, mostly Pakistan civilians but also Americans.

Critics of the drone strikes ought to ask whether, based on this information, the April 19 strike was worth the bad publicity. We'd say yes. We'd also say that the Obama Administration -- which, to its credit, has stepped up the use of Predators -- should make public the kind of information we've seen. We understand there will always be issues concerning sources and methods. But critics of the drone attacks, especially Pakistani critics, have become increasingly vocal in their opposition. They deserve to know about the terrorist calamities they've been spared thanks to these unmanned flights over their territory.

We're delighted to see that Pakistan's military is finally taking the fight to the Taliban and al Qaeda after ill-conceived truces that were a source of the country's recent instability. When Pakistan's government can exercise sovereignty over all its territory, there will be no need for Predator strikes. In the meantime, unmanned bombs away.
23352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Seinfeld Hearings on: July 13, 2009, 07:30:29 AM
By RANDY E. BARNETT
If you suspect this week's Senate confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor will be, like "Seinfeld," a show about nothing, you are probably right. To understand why, we need to revisit an era that remade how lawyers and the public think about law, and especially the Constitution.

In the 1930s, academics developed a philosophy they called "legal realism" to undercut judicial resistance to "progressive" statutes such as laws restricting the hours a baker or a woman could work. Legal realism elevated just results over the rule of law. It saw analysis of "the law" as an after-the-fact rationalization that allowed reactionary judges to conceal their empathy for the oppressed. Because legal realists believed judges inevitably made law when they ruled, they thought judges should decide cases with progressive ends in mind.

 
Getty Images
 At the same time, and somewhat inconsistently, realist progressives also condemned judges who declared progressive federal and state laws to be unconstitutional as judicial activists who were thwarting the will of the people. Never mind that the Supreme Court was only tepidly enforcing the original meaning of the Constitution and was upholding the vast majority of enlightened regulations. Any interference of the will of the people was deemed to be undemocratic.

Today we live in a legal world in which many progressives and conservatives share the legal realists' preoccupation with results. So justices must be chosen who will reach the politically correct results or opposed because they will reach the wrong results. Judicial confirmation hearings are thereby turned into a game of gotcha, with questioners trying to trip up the other side's nominees, and nominees quite properly refusing to reveal the only thing their inquisitors truly care about: how they would rule in particular cases that are likely to come before the Court.

But postures must be assumed and questions must be asked. So senators and nominees opine about two empty concepts. The first is "stare decisis" or precedent: Will the nominee follow the hallowed case of U.S. v. Whatchamacallit or not?

Of course, the legal realists detested precedent, which in their time stood in the way of their progressive agenda. Nothing has really changed. Both sides only want to respect the precedents that lead to the results they like. No one thinks justices should follow every precedent, so the crucial issue is picking and choosing which to follow and which to ignore. But how? Well, by the results, of course.

Now, when it comes to the meaning of the Constitution, I agree that precedent should not bind the Supreme Court. The written Constitution remains fixed, regardless of whether past decisions have gotten its meaning wrong. I am grateful that the Supreme Court reversed Plessy v. Ferguson -- the 1896 case that gave us "separate but equal" and an unconstitutional system of racial apartheid. Unfortunately, neither Democratic nor Republican senators will decry the post-New Deal rulings that transformed our constitutional order from what Princeton professor Stephen Macedo has called "islands of [government] powers in a sea of rights" to "islands of rights in a sea of [government] powers." Unless they can explain how we know which precedents to follow and which to reverse -- apart from liking the results -- all pontificating about "stare decisis" is really about nothing.

The second empty issue to be discussed is the bugaboo of "judicial activism" and its conjoined twin, "judicial restraint," which today's judicial conservatives have inherited from New Deal progressives. But what exactly is "activism"? Is it activism when any popularly enacted law is held unconstitutional? Neither Democrats or Republicans truly believe this, however, since they want judges to strike down laws as unconstitutional when doing so leads to the ["]right result["] (but not when it doesn't). So judicial activism means thwarting the "will of the people" when critics agree with the people, while they complain about the "tyranny of the majority" when they disagree.

We can do better.

Supreme Court confirmation hearings do not have to be about either results or nothing. They could be about clauses, not cases. Instead of asking nominees how they would decide particular cases, ask them to explain what they think the various clauses of the Constitution mean. Does the Second Amendment protect an individual right to arms? What was the original meaning of the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment? (Hint: It included an individual right to arms.) Does the 14th Amendment "incorporate" the Bill of Rights and, if so, how and why? Does the Ninth Amendment protect judicially enforceable unenumerated rights? Does the Necessary and Proper Clause delegate unlimited discretion to Congress? Where in the text of the Constitution is the so-called Spending Power (by which Congress claims the power to spend tax revenue on anything it wants) and does it have any enforceable limits?

Don't ask how the meaning of these clauses should be applied in particular circumstances. Just ask about the meaning itself and how it should be ascertained. Do nominees think they are bound by the original public meaning of the text? Even those who deny this still typically claim that original meaning is a "factor" or starting point. If so, what other factors do they think a justice should rely on to "interpret" the meaning of the text? Even asking whether "We the People" in the U.S. Constitution originally included blacks and slaves -- as abolitionists like Lysander Spooner and Frederick Douglass contended, or not as Chief Justice Roger Taney claimed in Dred Scott v. Sandford -- will tell us much about a nominee's approach to constitutional interpretation. Given that this is hardly a case that will come before them, on what grounds could nominees refuse to answer such questions?

Of course, inquiring into clauses not cases would require senators to know something about the original meaning of the Constitution. Do they? It would be interesting to hear what Sen. Al Franken thinks about such matters, but no more so than any other member of the Judiciary Committee. Such a hearing would not only be entertaining, it would be informative and educational. After all, it would be about the meaning of the Constitution, which is to say it would be about something.

Mr. Barnett teaches at Georgetown Law and is the author of "Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty" (Princeton, 2005).
23353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams on: July 13, 2009, 07:27:59 AM
"If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave."

--John Adams, Rights of the Colonists, 1772
23354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Zelaya tried intimidation, would have used force on: July 13, 2009, 07:14:11 AM
"Let's also not forget that many Latin American Caudillos had the full backing of American administrations: Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, a.k.a. Chapita, was FDR's SOB. Fulgencio Batista of Cuba had the full backing of America. The CIA helped depose Allende and put Pinochet on the throne (rumors have it that Fidel Castro had Allende murdered when he showed a willingness to talk to the enemy).  Now Chavez and Zelaya seems to be Obama's SOBs even though they are not even pro-American."

Never in question.  As for Allende, he won with 36% of the vote and IIRC within 18 months created 1,000% inflation shocked shocked shocked in pursuit of his marxist goals.  A man like that tends to have LOTS of enemies.
  As for Chavez, to me it makes more sense to say that BO is his bitch than Chavez his SOB-- and that Zelaya's , , , gratitude runs towards Chavez, not BO.


===============================
In a perfect world former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya would be in jail in his own country right now, awaiting trial. The Honduran attorney general has charged him with deliberately violating Honduran law and the Supreme Court ordered his arrest in Tegucigalpa on June 28.

But the Honduran military whisked him out of the country, to Costa Rica, when it executed the court's order.

His expulsion has given his supporters ammunition to allege that he was treated unlawfully. Now he is an international hero of the left. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Cuban dictator Raúl Castro, and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez are all insisting that he be restored to power. This demand is baseless. Mr. Zelaya's detention was legal, as was his official removal from office by Congress.

If there is anything debatable about the crisis it is the question of whether the government can defend the expulsion of the president. In fact it had good reasons for that move and they are worth Mrs. Clinton's attention if she is interested in defending democracy.

Besides eagerly trampling the constitution, Mr. Zelaya had demonstrated that he was ready to employ the violent tactics of chavismo to hang onto power. The decision to pack him off immediately was taken in the interest of protecting both constitutional order and human life.

 
Associated Press
 Two incidents earlier this year make the case. The first occurred in January when the country was preparing to name a new 15-seat Supreme Court, as it does every seven years. An independent board made up of members of civil society had nominated 45 candidates. From that list, Congress was to choose the new judges.

Mr. Zelaya had his own nominees in mind, including the wife of a minister, and their names were not on the list. So he set about to pressure the legislature. On the day of the vote he militarized the area around the Congress and press reports say a group of the president's men, including the minister of defense, went to the Congress uninvited to turn up the heat. The head of the legislature had to call security to have the defense minister removed.

In the end Congress held its ground and Mr. Zelaya retreated. But the message had been sent: The president was willing to use force against other institutions.

In May there was an equally scary threat to peace issued by the Zelaya camp as the president illegally pushed for a plebiscite on rewriting the constitution. Since the executive branch is not permitted to call for such a vote, the attorney general had announced that he intended to enforce the law against Mr. Zelaya.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
A week later some 100 agitators, wielding machetes, descended on the attorney general's office. "We have come to defend this country's second founding," the group's leader reportedly said. "If we are denied it, we will resort to national insurrection."

These experiences frightened Hondurans because they strongly suggested that Mr. Zelaya, who had already aligned himself with Mr. Chávez, was now emulating the Venezuelan's power-grab. Other Chávez protégés -- in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua -- have done the same, refusing to accept checks on their power, making use of mobs and seeking to undermine institutions.

It was this fondness for intimidation that prompted Mr. Zelaya's exile. Honduras was worried that if he stayed in the country after his arrest his supporters would foment violence to try to bring down the interim government and restore him to power.

It wouldn't be a first. Bolivia's President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada was removed in 2003 using just such tactics. Antigovernment militants, trained by Peruvian terrorists and financed by Venezuela and by drug money from the Colombian rebel group FARC, had laid siege to La Paz. As the city ran short on supplies, Mr. Sánchez de Lozada issued a decree to have armed guards accompany food and fuel trucks. The rebels, who had dynamite and weapons, clashed with the guards. Sixty people died. The president was pressured to step down.

Mr. Sánchez de Lozada told me by telephone last week that he only presented a letter of resignation to the Bolivian Congress when the U.S. threatened to cut off aid if he left the country without doing so. He signed under duress but the letter was then used by the international community to endorse what was in effect a brutal Venezuelan-directed overthrow of the democracy.

The fact that the Organization of American States and the U.S. never defended the Bolivian democracy cannot be lost on the Hondurans or the chavistas. You can bet that Venezuela will try to orchestrate similar troubles in an attempt to bring condemnation to the new Honduran government. Honduran patriots have better odds against that strategy with Mr. Zelaya out of the country, even if Washington and the OAS don't approve.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com
23355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: July 12, 2009, 08:45:52 PM
Respects to our Brit Brothers.
=================================

UK hospital in Afghanistan copes with bloodiest day

Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:23pm IS
* Camp hospital deals with 30 casualties
* Wounded taken to Kabul and Britain

By Peter Graff
CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan, July 12 (Reuters) - More than 30 wounded British soldiers were flown into Camp Bastion off the battlefield in Afghanistan and the operating theatre went through more than 100 pints of blood products over the weekend.
In the bloodiest day in the history of the British war effort in Afghanistan, eight soldiers were killed on Friday.
Doctors, nurses and staff at the field hospital at Britain's Camp Bastion worked round the clock, sometimes 15-16 staff tending to a single badly injured patient.
The 33-bed hospital was already almost full when the carnage began, but never overflowed. Almost as quickly as helicopters arrived from the battlefield, planes and other aircraft took stabilised casualties to Kabul or Birmingham in Britain.
"We've had some very badly injured young people go back to Birmingham, and go back to Birmingham in very good shape. And I think there's no question that the hospital system has saved lives," said Colonel Peter Mahoney, the hospital's director, a professor of anaesthesiology and airborne soldier.
The battlefield casualties -- the most a British military hospital has coped with in a single day since the 1982 Falklands War -- has led to questions back home about a war that has had lukewarm public support.
But commanders say they expected a surge of casualties this summer, part of what they aim to be a decisive push to take advantage of U.S. reinforcements and seize Taliban-held territory ahead of an Afghan presidential election next month.
Taliban casualty figures were not immediately available.
Britain and the United States have launched simultaneous operations this month in Afghanistan's most violent province, Helmand, nearly half of which was under Taliban control until this month.
The British "Operation Panther's Claw" has met tough resistance from Taliban home-made bombs and sniper positions. Fighters have also struck back elsewhere in the province.

KILLED INSTANTLY
A Taliban homemade bomb struck a British foot patrol before dawn on Friday, killing one soldier instantly and wounding several others. When troops attempted to evacuate, they were hit by another bomb, killing a stretcher bearer and one of the wounded casualties.
Another bomb planted in a field prevented a medivac helicopter from landing, so troops had to bring the wounded back to base to fly them out. Two more soldiers later died of wounds. Five others and an interpreter were injured.
Two other roadside bombs killed another three soldiers in other parts of the province.
Captain Jac Solghan, a nurse from the U.S. Air Force working at the British hospital, said he worked 32 hours straight from 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, looking after patient arrivals from the battlefield and their evacuations to hospitals further on.
"We'd just stay and keep working and working," he said. "That morning the hospital had not quite full capacity. By the time we ended the day, the hospital was still full and we were still pushing patients out."
Mahoney said the hospital had been warned in advance that a big operation was being planned, and had mobilised additional staff in expectation of a surge in casualties.
"There's no doubt it has been wearing. But none of the staff have ever complained and said they hadn't wanted to do it. Everybody's risen up to the occasion," Mahoney said.
23356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: July 12, 2009, 06:52:08 PM
Intriguing , , ,
23357  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Guro Crafty Saturday class on: July 12, 2009, 02:27:20 PM
Let the Howl go Forth:

I would like to announce the beginning of a Saturday class at 11:00 on Saturday July 25th in Dog Brothers Martial Arts.  The class will be held either in Hermosa Beach or Redondo Beach.

In DBMA we look for our training to be three things:  fun, fit, and functional.

1) FUN:   For us to continue our training over time and to grow in the Art and to grow into whom we are meant to be, the training should be Fun-- or perhaps that which once upon a time was called "the pursuit of happiness".   (For those interested see the discussion at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicomachean_Ethics for the Aristotlean origin of the phrase "the pursuit of happiness" in our Declaration of Independence , , , but I digress , , , how rare)

2) FITNESS:  Our life-long path as a warrior should produce good health, not batter us into crippling later years.  The better one's health and animal vitality, the better the results-- in everday Life itself and in defense of Life.  Although we are known for our "Dog Brothers Real Contact Stickfighting", in DBMA we are proud of both the efficacy and the safety of our training methods.

3) FUNCTIONAL:  The training should produce results in the real world.  If thanks to our training we see clearer into other people and if we see problems developing sooner, then we may be able to prevent things from coming to a head.  Similarly, if we know who we are and what we can do, we should be less susceptible to allowing others to draw us into foolish incidents.  And should it be necessary to act, we should have a good sense of how to operate effectively and to act with Consciousness in the adrenal state.

In closing I want to make it clear that ALL LEVELS ARE WELCOME.  Certainly those inclined to "Dog Brothers Real Contact Stickfighting" will feel quite at home wink but I wish to make it perfectly clear that NO ONE WILL BE PRESSURED INTO DOING MORE THAN HE WANTS TO DO.  This is a class for students and practitioners of all ages as well as competitive fighters-- in short, anyone looking to walk as a warrior for all his days. 

If you are interested, please contact me at craftydog@dogbrothers.com and tell me a bit about yourself, including your goals, age, height, weight, fitness level, experience, training (what systems, which teachers, for how long, etc).

The Adventure continues,
Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
Dog Brothers Inc. (this is here as part of protecting me personally from law suits)
Head Instructor
Dog Brothers Martial Arts
craftydog@dogbrothers.com
310-543-7521 (a 24 hour number)
www.dogbrothers.com
23358  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: July 12, 2009, 10:44:33 AM
Indeed it is within the KT framework, see e.g. the snaggletooth metronome training in KT 1.
23359  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB in the media on: July 12, 2009, 09:02:03 AM
No, it is night.  Our UK people think it will probably be the Nat Geo documentary.
23360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The American Creed/Limited Government on: July 11, 2009, 03:12:18 PM
June 2009

The state despotic

by Mark Steyn

A review of Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect by Paul Anthony Rahe

On our gradual slide into servitude.


Driving north out of New York the other day, I heard a caller to Mark Levin’s show discuss his excellent book Liberty and Tyranny. The word she kept using was “inevitable”: The republic felt exhausted, and there was an “inevitability” to what was happening. A quarter-millennium of liberty seemed to be about the best you could expect, and its waning was—again—“inevitable.” As she spoke, the rich farmland of Columbia County rolled past my window. To many of its residents, the caller would have sounded slightly kooky. Were any of the county’s first families suddenly to rematerialize from their centuries of slumber, they would recognize the general landscape, the settlements, the principal roads, and indeed many of the weathered farmhouses. And they would be struck by the comfort and prosperity of their successors in this land. So what’s all this talk about decay and decline?

Ah, but I wonder if those early settlers would recognize the people, and their assumptions about the role of government. Mr. Levin’s listener was trying to articulate something profound but elusive. It’s not something you can sell the film rights for —there are no aliens vaporizing the White House, as in Independence Day; no God- zilla rampaging down Fifth Avenue and hurling the Empire State Building into the East River. No bangs, just the whimper of the same old same old civilizational ennui, as it gradually dawns that Admiral Yamamoto’s sleeping giant may be merely a supersized version of Monty Python’s dead parrot.

Paul A. Rahe’s new book on the subject is called Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, which nicely captures how soothing and beguiling the process is.[1] Today, the animating principles of the American idea are entirely absent from public discourse. To the new Administration, American exceptionalism means an exceptional effort to harness an exceptionally big government in the cause of exceptionally massive spending. The can-do spirit means Ty’Sheoma Bethea can do with some government money: A high-school student in Dillon, South Carolina, Miss Bethea wrote to the President to ask him to do something about the peeling paint in her classroom. He read the letter out approvingly in a televised address to Congress. Imagine if Miss Bethea gets her way, and the national bureaucracy in Washington becomes responsible for grade- school paint jobs from Maine to Hawaii. What size of government would be required for such a project? And is it compatible with a constitutional republic?

Professor Rahe knows the answer to that. The first three-quarters of his book are about Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Tocqueville, which is to say they’re really about us. Montesquieu’s prediction that “in Europe the last sigh of liberty will be heaved by an Englishman” seemed self-evident after the totalitarian enthusiasms of the Continent in the twentieth century. Today? The last sigh will be heaved by England’s progeny, in the United States, or perhaps, given the galloping ambition of twenty-first-century American statism, in Australia. Is “the last sigh of liberty” inevitable? A progressivist would scoff at the utter codswallop of such a fancy. Why, modern man would not tolerate for a moment the encroachments his forebears took for granted! And so in the face of the careless assumption that social progress is like the internal combustion engine—once invented, it can never be uninvented—it is left to a trio of dead French blokes to anticipate the long-term temptations of a republic none had ever lived in, and which at that point was technologically all but impossible.

The professor opens his study with a famous passage from M. de Tocqueville. Or, rather, it would be famous were he still widely read. For he knows us far better than we know him: “I would like to imagine with what new traits despotism could be produced in the world,” he wrote the best part of two centuries ago. He and his family had been on the sharp end of France’s violent convulsions, but he considered that, to a democratic republic, there were slyer seductions:

I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls.
He didn’t foresee “Dancing with the Stars” or “American Idol” but, details aside, that’s pretty much on the money. He continues:

Over these is elevated an immense, tutelary power, which takes sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate. It is absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident, and gentle. It would resemble the paternal power if, like that power, it had as its object to prepare men for manhood, but it seeks, to the contrary, to keep them irrevocably fixed in childhood … it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their needs, guides them in their principal affairs…
The sovereign extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations—complicated, minute, and uniform—through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way… it does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them; rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting on one’s own … it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

Welcome to the twenty-first century.

“It does not tyrannize, it gets in the way.” The all-pervasive micro-regulatory state “enervates,” but nicely, gradually, so after a while you don’t even notice. And in exchange for liberty it offers security: the “right” to health care; the “right” to housing; the “right” to a job—although who needs that once you’ve got all the others? The proposed European Constitution extends the laundry list: the constitutional right to clean water and environmental protection. Every right you could ever want, except the right to be free from undue intrusions by the state. M. Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president and chairman of the European constitutional convention, told me at the time that he had bought a copy of the U.S. Constitution at a bookstore in Washington and carried it around with him in his pocket. Try doing that with his Euro-constitution, and you’ll be walking with a limp after ten minutes and calling for a sedan chair after twenty: As Professor Rahe notes, it’s 450 pages long. And, when your “constitution” is that big, imagine how swollen the attendant bureaucracy and regulation is. The author points out that, in France, “80 per cent of the legislation passed by the National Assembly in Paris originates in Brussels”—that is, at the European Union’s civil service. Who drafts it? Who approves it? Who do you call to complain? Who do you run against and in what election? And where do you go to escape it? Not to the next town, not to the next county, not to the next country.

In The Spirit of the Laws (1748), “the celebrated Montesquieu” (as both Madison and Hamilton called him) concluded that England had developed, in Professor Rahe’s summation, “a new form of government more conducive to liberty and graced with greater staying power than any polity theretofore even imagined.” The key words here, and the theme of Professor Rahe’s book, are “staying power.” Anyone can start a republic. The challenge that remains was posed by Ben Franklin: Can you “keep it”?

Examining England’s “crowned republic” in the wake of Montesquieu and Rousseau, Tocqueville wrote that, from the seventeenth century on, you could find “the classes mixed up with one another … wealth become power, equality before the law, equality in taxation, freedom of the press, public debate—all new principles that the society of the Middle Ages did not know. But these are precisely the new things which, introduced little by little and with art into the old body, reanimated it without risking its dissolution.” Monarchies do not always evolve, and republics seek to put their theoretical perfection into practice too instantly. If you abolish, wrote Montesquieu, “the prerogatives of the lords, the clergy, the nobility & the towns,” you’re on a fast track to “a state popular—or, indeed, a state despotic.”

Thus, Tocqueville’s great insight—that what prevents the “state popular” from declining into a “state despotic” is the strength of the intermediary institutions between the sovereign and the individual. The French revolution abolished everything and subordinated all institutions to the rule of central authority. The New World was more fortunate: “The principle and lifeblood of American liberty” was, according to Tocqueville, municipal independence. “With the state government, they had limited contact; with the national government, they had almost none,” writes Professor Rahe:

In New England, their world was the township; in the South, it was the county; and elsewhere it was one or the other or both… . Self-government was the liberty that they had fought the War of Independence to retain, and this was a liberty that in considerable measure Americans in the age of Andrew Jackson still enjoyed.
For Tocqueville, this is a critical distinction between America and the faux republics of his own continent. “It is in the township that the strengths of free peoples resides,” he wrote. “Municipal institutions are for liberty what primary schools are for science; they place it within reach of the people.” In America, democracy is supposed to be a participatory sport not a spectator one: In Europe, every five years you put an X on a piece of paper and subsequently discover which of the party candidates on the list at central office has been delegated to represent you in fast-tracking all those E.U. micro-regulations through the rubber-stamp legislature. By contrast, American democracy is a game to be played, not watched: You go to Town Meeting, you denounce the School Board budget, you vote to close a road, you run for cemetery commissioner.

Does that distinction still hold? As Professor Rahe argues, in the twentieth century the intermediary institutions were belatedly hacked away—not just self-government at town, county, and state level, but other independent outposts: church, family, civic associations. Today, very little stands between the individual and the sovereign, which is why schoolgirls in Dillon, South Carolina think it entirely normal to beseech Good King Barack the Hopeychanger to do something about classroom maintenance.

I say “Good King Barack,” but truly that does an injustice to ye medieval tyrants of yore. As Tocqueville wrote: “There was a time in Europe in which the law, as well as the consent of the people, clothed kings with a power almost without limits. But almost never did it happen that they made use of it.” His Majesty was an absolute tyrant—in theory. But in practice he was in his palace hundreds of miles away. A pantalooned emissary might come prancing into your dooryard once every half-decade and give you a hard time, but for the most part you got on with your life relatively undisturbed. “The details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control,” wrote Tocqueville. But what would happen if administrative capability were to evolve to make it possible “to subject all of his subjects to the details of a uniform set of regulations”?

That moment has now arrived. And administrative despotism turns out to be very popular: Why, we need more standardized rules, from coast to coast—and on to the next coast. After all, if Europe can harmonize every trivial imposition on the citizen, why can’t the world?

Would it even be possible to hold the American revolution today? The Boston Tea Party? Imagine if George III had been able to sit in his palace across the ocean, look at the security-camera footage, press a button, and freeze the bank accounts of everyone there. Oh, well, we won’t be needing another revolt, will we? But the consequence of funding the metastasization of government through the confiscation of the fruits of the citizen’s labor is the remorseless shriveling of liberty.

Is it, as Mark Levin’s caller said, “inevitable”? No, not quite. But it seems like the way to bet. When President Bush used to promote the notion of democracy in the Muslim world, there was a line he liked to fall back on: “Freedom is the desire of every human heart.” Are you quite sure? It’s doubtful whether that’s actually the case in Gaza and Waziristan, but we know for absolute certain that it’s not in Paris and Stockholm, London and Toronto, Buffalo and New Orleans. The story of the Western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government “security,” large numbers of people vote to dump freedom every time—the freedom to make their own decisions about health care, education, property rights, and eventually (as we already see in Europe, Canada, American campuses, and the disgusting U.N. Human Rights Council) what you’re permitted to say and think.

I’m often struck by how much of our language has become metaphorical: A few years ago, a Fleet Street colleague accidentally booked himself into a conference on “building bridges” assuming it would be some multiculti community outreach yakfest. It turned out to be a panel of engineers discussing bridge construction. Yet in an important sense the ability to build real bridges is indeed an attribute of community. A friend of mine is a New Hampshire “selectman,” one of those municipal offices Tocqueville found so admirable. In 2003, a state highway inspector rode through and condemned one of the town’s bridges, on a dirt road that serves maybe a dozen houses.

That’s the bad news. The good news was the 80/20 state/town funding plan, under which, if you applied to Concord for a new bridge, the state would pay 80 percent of the cost, the town 20. So they did. The state estimated the cost at $320,000, so the town’s share would be $64,000. Great. So the town threw up a temporary bridge just down river from the condemned one, and waited for the state to get going. Six years later, the temporary bridge has worn out, and the latest revised estimate is $655,000, such that the town’s share would be $131,000.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that, under the “stimulus” bill, they can put in for the 60/40 federal/state bridge funding plan, under which the feds pay 60 percent, and the state pays 40, and thus the town would be on the hook for 20 percent of the 40 percent, if you follow. If they applied for the program now, the bridge might be built by, oh, 2015, 2020, and it’ll only be $1.2 million, or $4 million, or $12 million, or whatever the estimate’ll be by then.

But who knows? By 2015, there might be some 70/30 UN/federal bridge plan, under which the UN pays 70 percent, and the feds pay 30, and thus the town would only be liable for 20 percent of the state’s 40 percent of the feds’ 30 percent. And the estimate for the bridge will be a mere $2.7 billion.

While the Select Board was pondering this, another bridge was condemned. The state’s estimate was $415,000, and, given that the previous bridge had been on the to-do list for six years, they weren’t ready to pencil this second one in on the schedule just yet. So instead the town put in a new bridge from a local contractor. Cost: $30,000. Don’t worry; it’s all up to code—and a lot safer than the worn-out temporary bridge still waiting for the 80/20/60/40/70/30 deal to kick in. As my friend said at the meet- ing: “Screw the state. Let’s do it ourselves.”

“Screw the state” is not a Tocquevillian formulation, but he would have certainly agreed with the latter sentiment. When something goes wrong, a European demands to know what the government’s going to do about it. An American does it himself. Or he used to—in the Jacksonian America a farsighted Frenchman understood so well. “Human dignity,” writes Professor Rahe, “is bound up with taking responsibility for conducting one’s own affairs.” When the state annexes that responsibility, the citizenry are indeed mere sheep to the government shepherd. Paul Rahe concludes his brisk and trenchant examination of republican “staying power” with specific proposals to reclaim state and local power from Washington, and with a choice: “We can be what once we were, or we can settle for a gradual, gentle descent into servitude.” I wish I were more sanguine about how that vote would go.
23361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism on: July 11, 2009, 11:56:21 AM
OK, I am persuaded smiley
23362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Caudillo on: July 11, 2009, 09:08:54 AM
By DAVID LUHNOW, JOSé DE CóRDOBA AND NICHOLAS CASEY
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

In the tile-roofed presidential palace near downtown Tegucigalpa, a man sits behind a long wooden desk claiming to be the country’s president. But in the eyes of the international community, Roberto Micheletti took charge through an old-fashioned coup.

Nearly two weeks ago, on June 28, his predecessor, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, was rousted from bed by soldiers and sent out of the country in his pajamas. Mr. Micheletti, next in line for the presidency as head of congress, was sworn in later that day.
Tied to wealthy business interests and brought to power by the military, the provisional government brings back memories of the coup in which Chilean Augusto Pinochet tore down the Socialist project of Salvador Allende in 1973. On the streets of Tegucigalpa nowadays, some protesters have scrawled graffiti that merges the names of Mr. Pinochet and their new, unelected leader: “Pinocheletti.”

In Mr. Micheletti’s take on events, it was his government who avoided another, slow-motion coup—by Mr. Zelaya himself. Mr. Micheletti’s supporters say Mr. Zelaya was a dictator in the making, a modern-day caudillo, or strongman, who wanted to rewrite Honduran law to stay in power, perhaps indefinitely.

To understand what is happening in Honduras today, it helps to know a bit more about Latin America’s long love affair with caudillos, how these larger-than-life but power-hungry men damaged their countries, and why so many people are terrified that they are making a comeback.

Some argue that Latin America’s single most important—and colorful—contribution to political science is the caudillo. A Spanish word, caudillo is derived from the Latin capitellum or small head, and refers to a military or political leader. Spain’s Gen. Francisco Franco, adopted the title Caudillo de España por la Gracia de Dios (by the Grace of God) and ruled the nation from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975.
Caudillismo is so deeply rooted it has spawned its own literary genre. Discerning readers see Fidel Castro as the model for the aging, cow-obsessed strongman in Gabriel García Márquez’s “The Autumn of the Patriarch,” who wanders alone dragging his outsize testicles over the floors of his presidential palace. Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, in his novel “The Feast of the Goat,” portrayed the precariousness of life in the Dominican Republic under the rule of the predatory and brutal right-wing caudillo, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.

The cast of caudillos in Latin American history includes such characters as Antonio López de Santa Anna, who was Mexico’s president on seven separate occasions in the mid-1800s. He signed away Texas’ independence from Mexico after being captured the day after the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, and once buried a leg he lost in battle with full military honors.


Caudillos come in all ideological stripes. Mr. Pinochet, whose famous photograph in sinister dark glasses was taken soon after his coup, became the iconic image of the right-wing Latin American military dictator. These days, most caudillos are leftist. Mr. Castro, el Comandante or el Caballo (the Horse), has the dubious distinction of being the longest-lived caudillo in Latin American history, owing his record-breaking stretch in power more to caudillismo than Marxismo. He’s passed on the torch to Hugo Chávez, the populist caudillo from Caracas, Venezuela.

Caudillos first arose in the difficult birth of Latin American republics from Spanish colonies. Most were landowners or military men who had their own private armies. Because the wars of independence in the early 19th century destroyed most institutions of Spanish colonial rule, the governments in these new states were too weak to resist takeover. In some cases, young states couldn’t raise enough money for a standing army.

Many of Latin America’s most famous caudillos became dictators. But as Latin American societies evolved and political arenas became more important than military battlegrounds in the mid- to late-1800s, caudillos became politicians. While a dictator usually relies on brute force to keep power, modern caudillos use a combination of personal magnetism, patronage—and sometimes, selective brute force.

In Latin America, the strength of the caudillo weakened the region’s institutions. Political parties centered on caudillos often collapsed after the caudillo’s death and never professionalized. As a result, Latin Americans seem perennially ready to trust their fate to a providential “man on horseback” who comes to their nation’s rescue, rather than on the ability of the nation’s institutions to provide security and prosperity.

Outsize personality—and outright megalomania—is a common characteristic of caudillos. In the 18th century, José Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, who ruled Paraguay for a quarter-century, shut the country off from the outside world, appointing himself head of the country’s Catholic Church and taking the title of El Supremo, providing material for yet another great Latin American novel, Augusto Roa Bastos’s “Yo, el Supremo.”


In the 20th century, few had bigger egos than Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961. Known as El Jefe, Mr. Trujillo took power at age 38, wearing a sash with the motto Dios y Trujillo, or “God and Trujillo.” Even churches were forced to emblazon the motto. A few years later, the capital, Santo Domingo, was renamed Ciudad Trujillo. Fond of wearing comic-opera military uniforms with 18th-century-style plumed hats, Mr. Trujillo was as brutal as he was outlandish, murdering thousands of Haitian immigrants as well as torturing and killing political opponents; he fed some of them to the sharks.

While arms made the man in the 19th century, in the 20th, most caudillos have been careful to present themselves as champions of the people, wrapped either in the mantle of revolution—like Fidel Castro—or in that of democracy. Argentina’s Juan Domingo Perón used populism to endear himself to the nation’s poor, known as descamisados, or “shirtless ones.”

Even today, Perónismo, the movement created by Mr. Perón and his wife Eva—who combined glamour and handouts to the poor to become a secular saint venerated by Argentines—is still the dominant political current in Argentina. The legacy of Mr. Perón’s free-spending populist philosophy has led Argentina into periodic economic crises. When prices for Argentine exports like beef are high, for instance, Perónist governments have spent the windfall like a drunken sailor, leading to a cash crunch when prices eventually head south.
Mr. Perón, like many other caudillos, sought additional legitimacy by preserving the forms of democracy, if only on paper. He won presidential elections, but his regime was hardly democratic: Perónists controlled the legislature, the courts, the bureaucracy, labor unions and the media. Anyone who got too far out of line faced arbitrary arrest.

Even the Dominican Republic’s brutal Mr. Trujillo made a big show of not running for re-election in 1938 to observe democratic principles, although he continued to be the country’s de facto leader and later returned to win two more elections, in 1942 and 1947. In 1952, he stepped aside in favor of his brother and again continued to call the shots until his assassination in 1961.

 
On June 28, the Honduran president was forced out of the country in his pajamas, after he pushed for a referendum that would amend the constitution to allow him to run for re-election.

 
The Honduran head of congress was sworn in as Mr. Zelaya’s replacement immediately after Mr. Zelaya’s ouster. He has vowed to hold already scheduled elections in November and to hand over power in January.

 
The Bolivian president, a former leader of a militant coca leaf growers’ union, won a referendum that allowed him to rewrite the constitution, overturning a ban on re-election.

As far as the U.S. was concerned, the cause of democracy in Latin America often took a back seat to fighting Communism during the Cold War. For years, the U.S. either looked the other way or supported coups with the aim of preventing the spread of Communism in the hemisphere. Military coups became almost ritual. In the 1970s, Honduras endured so many coups that the capital was jokingly called Tegucigolpe, for the Spanish word golpe, or coup.

The end of the Cold War radically changed politics in Latin America. As civil wars and guerrilla insurrections in Central America ran out of steam, pampered military establishments suffered deep budget cuts. The U.S. and the rest of the world made it clear that coups would not be tolerated anymore. The Organization of American States, which represents 34 countries throughout the hemisphere, adopted a democracy clause in its charter in 2001. By that point, Cuba remained as the only non-democracy.

While democracy has spread throughout Latin America, caudillos never vanish, they just adapt to changing times. Gone is the old-fashioned military coup, replaced with a new strategy for power that could be called “coup by stealth,” or “coup by democratic means.”

The primary architect of this new blueprint is Mr. Chávez, a strongman with one foot grounded in the past and the other firmly placed in the future of caudillismo. In 1992, Mr. Chávez, then a lieutenant colonel with a mish-mash of leftist, nationalist and fascist ideas, led an old-fashioned coup in an attempt to overthrow the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez. It failed, and Mr. Chávez was jailed.



Upon release, he was persuaded to forgo the bullet for the ballot box. In 1998, he was elected president, riding a wave of popular disgust against the deep corruption of the country’s existing political parties and institutions. In a nation where institutions never developed because of caudillos, another “man on horseback” had come to save the country. Once in power, he moved to insure he would never leave.
Using the tools of democracy—referendums and elections—Mr. Chávez has subverted democracy and become a new, modern caudillo. He has won referendums over the years that have allowed him to rewrite the constitution, twice, to his specifications, including ending constitutional restrictions on term limits, thus allowing him to run for re-election indefinitely. He has gutted the courts, shut down and gagged the media and purged the army; he exercises total control over the congress. Venezuela still holds elections, but it is far from a full democracy.


Mr. Chávez shares with old caudillos a military background, a populist bent and a cult of personality. He is a mixture of messianic preacher, traditional authoritarian Latin American military man and utopian dreamer with notions of “21st-Century Socialism.” Even after a decade in power marked by rampant spending, corruption and crime, Mr. Chávez maintains a strong, almost mystical bond with many of Venezuela’s poor, who see in him a reflection of themselves.

Mr. Chavez has publicly said he plans to stay in power until 2019, 2021 or 2030.

The Chávez blueprint for power is now being imitated by other caudillos in the making. Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former leader of a militant coca leaf growers’ union who led street riots that helped topple two Bolivian leaders, also won a referendum that allowed him to rewrite the constitution. One change: overturning a ban on re-election. Ecuador’s Rafael Correa has used a constitutional rewrite to get term limits lifted, too. Both men used populism and disappointment with existing political parties to cast themselves as their nation’s saviors.


When democracy took root in Latin America in the 1980s and ’90s, nearly every country opted to bar re-election as a way to ensure caudillos would never return. These restrictions have been chipped away, by right-wing leaders, too. In Colombia, conservative president Álvaro Uribe has already changed the constitution once to get re-elected and is mulling a third term now.

Honduras, weary of a parade of generals who overstayed their welcome, was among the Latin nations that barred re-election when it ended military dictatorships and became a democracy in 1981. Since then, nearly every sitting president has toyed with the idea of re-election. None has pushed the idea more openly than Mr. Zelaya.

The son of a conservative rancher, Mr. Zelaya took power four years ago as a centrist. In the past two years, the Stetson-hat-wearing, ballad-singing president has hewn increasingly to the left, finding a soulmate in Mr. Chávez. The Venezuelan president began shipping Honduras cut-rate oil, and Honduras responded by joining Mr. Chávez’s regional trade and political pact, which also includes Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua.


He then took another page from the Chávez blueprint, pushing for a referendum and constitutional rewrite on re-election. The country’s courts, congress and other institutions lined up against Mr. Zelaya, but he vowed to challenge them all, with the people at his back. Shortly before his ouster, when the army refused to take part in the election, the president led a mob to a nearby base to seize the ballots.

Did all this make Mr. Zelaya a caudillo in the making? The world may never know because the Honduran power brokers decided not to take any chances. In booting out Mr. Zelaya at gunpoint, they showed what little faith they had in the country’s institutions to check Mr. Zelaya’s ambitions.

Some argue they acted rashly. “The Pinochets of the world supported the type of people who sent Zelaya out in his pajamas,” says Peter Kornbluh, an analyst at the National Security Archive, a Washington nonprofit, and author of books on dictators including Messrs. Pinochet and Castro. In ousting a democratically elected leader, the Honduran establishment strayed further from democracy than Mr. Zelaya did in attempting to stay, he says.

 
While the provisional president, Mr. Micheletti, has taken power in an undemocratic fashion, few Hondurans worry that he will want to stay on. Mr. Micheletti has vowed to hold already-scheduled elections in November, hand over power in January and limit his own presidential aspirations to six months in power.

Angel Nuñez, a 30-year-old Tegucigalpa taxi driver, thinks Mr. Micheletti did the right thing. “Zelaya wanted this place to be Cuba, he wanted absolute power in this country,” he says. Pushing the ex-president aside was the only way to stop “a man who got to thinking he was above the law.”

Domingo Díaz, a 63-year-old social worker, says he’s lived through so many Central American takeovers he’s lost both his count and his interest in them. “No one respected the law,” he said on a recent rainy day. “History will repeat itself,” he says, “but this time I don’t fear it.”
23363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO curbs arrests of illegals on: July 11, 2009, 09:02:42 AM
By MIRIAM JORDAN
The Department of Homeland Security said Friday it was revising a program that authorized local police to enforce federal immigration law -- a controversial aspect of U.S. border policy.

In San Diego, illegal immigrants wait to be deported to Mexico at a gate next to the pedestrian border crossing into Tijuana last month. About 800 people are deported there every day.

Opponents said the program, known as 287g, was intended to identify criminal aliens but instead has led to racial profiling; it allowed local police to identify and arrest illegal immigrants for such minor infractions as a broken tail light. Program supporters said it has been an effective tool for combating illegal immigration.

The new guidelines sharply reduce the ability of local law enforcement to arrest and screen suspected illegal immigrants. They are intended to prevent sheriff and police departments from arresting people "for minor offenses as a guise to initiate removal proceedings," according to Homeland Security. The program will instead focus on more serious criminals.

"In a world of limited resources, our view is that we need to focus first and foremost on people committing crimes in our community who should not be here," said John Morton, Assistant Secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Mr. Morton said his agency would sign new contracts with local law enforcement that would bolster federal oversight.

In the past two years, more than 120,000 suspected illegal immigrants were identified through the program, and most ended up in deportation proceedings. By comparison, ICE removed 356,739 illegal immigrants from the U.S. during the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2008 -- a 23.5% increase over the 2007 total.

Lookback: Immigration
Journal articles on the debates over immigration in the early 1900s

Alien Immigration: Effect on Women and Consumers (March 18, 1905)Immigration in 1906: Special Attention Given Last Year to Examinations for Admission (Jan. 18, 1907)Views of Secretary Straus: 'We should not fail to recognize the enormous advantages we have drawn from immigration" (May 23, 1907)Immigration: Total for the Year 1,200,000, an Increase of 100,000 Over Last Year (June 29, 1907)To Improve Immigrant Distribution: Attempt Will Be Made to Distribute Immigrants to Meet Labor Demands (July 12, 1907)The most active local enforcer has been Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Arizona's Maricopa County. He said Friday he would continue pursuing illegal immigrants, arguing that state laws allow neighborhood crime sweeps and worksite raids.

"If I'm told not to enforce immigration law except if the alien is a violent criminal, my answer to that is we are still going to do the same thing, 287g or not," said Mr. Arpaio. His deputies have identified in jail or picked up on the streets more than 30,000 illegal immigrants in the Phoenix area. "We have been very successful," said the five-term sheriff.

The Department of Justice is investigating whether Mr. Arpaio's deputies have used skin color as a pretense to stop Latinos suspected of being illegal immigrants.

Mr. Obama's policy change is expected to bolster his standing with Latinos and some Democratic legislators. The administration is seeking to set the stage for a sweeping overhaul of immigration legislation that could put millions of illegal workers on the path to U.S. citizenship.

President George W. Bush pursued a similar goal. After the efforts failed in Congress, his administration stepped up enforcement with raids and the expansion of such programs as 287g.

The provision was created by Congress in 1996 and designed to train local police to help federal immigration authorities locate criminal aliens. It took six years for the first state, Florida, to sign on to the program.

The Bush administration promoted the program among sheriffs and police chiefs, turning it into a symbol of his crackdown on illegal immigration.

Since January 2006, more than 1,000 state and local law-enforcement officials have been certified. Many jurisdictions used those officers in jails, where they could sort through many inmates in a single shift.

Southern states account for more than 40 of the 66 existing participants. There are 42 applications pending, most of them in the South. Both Virginia and North Carolina, where the Latino immigrant population has grown, each have nine 287g agreements, more than other states.

"I think the program is working great," said Wake County, N.C., Sheriff Donnie Harrison. "If the highway patrol brings someone to our jail, and they say they are foreign born, then they are flagged for 287g. They have committed a violation of some sort to be brought to our jail...from broken tail lights to murder and rape."

Raleigh, N.C., resident Maria Hernandez was booked into a Wake County jail after failing to show up for her 6-year-old son's truancy hearing, according to her account and that of her attorney, Marty Rosenbluth.

Ms. Hernandez, a cleaning lady who came to the U.S. illegally nine years ago, is now in deportation court. "I don't understand why they come after people like me," she said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ordered a comprehensive review of 287g shortly after taking her post earlier this year. Members of Congress and the Government Accountability Office had raised concerns the program was being used "to process individuals for minor crimes, such as speeding, contrary to the objective of the program."

The shift on 287g follows other recent modifications to immigration policy by the Obama administration, reflecting an effort to shift the burden of immigration enforcement to employers, while making it difficult for illegal immigrants to get hired.

In the past two weeks, Ms. Napolitano said federal contractors would be required to check the identity of new hires against a federal database. DHS also will audit hundreds of companies to verify whether their employees are eligible to work.

Write to Miriam Jordan at miriam.jordan@wsj.com
23364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Articulating our cause/strategy against Islamic Fascism on: July 11, 2009, 09:00:35 AM
Rachel's post is an important one, but I too am confused by its presence here.  Where would it better belong?
23365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Weaknesses in Wiretapping Program on: July 11, 2009, 08:56:30 AM
By SIOBHAN GORMAN
WASHINGTON -- Extensive secrecy limited the effectiveness of the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program, according to an internal review of the program completed Friday.

The review, the first comprehensive independent look at an unprecedented program that roused extensive debate during the Bush administration, also questioned the legal basis for the original program and cast doubt on some of the administration's justifications.

For the first month of its existence in October 2001, the program was running without a Justice Department legal opinion. The first legal memo for the program wasn't drafted until the following month, the report found.

See the Report
Unclassified Report on the President's Surveillance Program, July 10 (pdf)The report by the inspectors general of five government bodies involved in the program also recommended that the current version of the program, which Congress authorized last year, "should be carefully monitored."

In recent months, lawmakers in both parties have raised alarms that the program was collecting far more domestic data than intended. The Obama administration says it has added safeguards.

The report, mandated last year by Congress, assesses what it calls the "President's Surveillance Program" and says that the government's domestic spy activities extended beyond the activities acknowledged publicly by the Bush administration.

The more limited program the Bush administration publicly acknowledged, known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program, monitored without a warrant communications between the U.S. and abroad when one of the people communicating was believed to be linked to al Qaeda. The report says President George W. Bush also authorized "other intelligence activities," which it says remain highly classified.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the NSA's domestic-surveillance activities were far broader than previously acknowledged, monitoring huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches, as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records.

Bush officials repeatedly described the warrantless-surveillance program as critical to U.S. national security. As recently as May, former Vice President Dick Cheney said that it "prevented attacks and saved lives." He made similar arguments when advocating internally for the program, saying that a failure to approve would risk "thousands" of lives, according to the report.

The report was more equivocal. There are several cases identified by intelligence officials and documentation where information from the program "may have contributed to a counterterrorism success," the report found.

CIA officials, for example, complained that much of the data from the program was "vague and out of context," so they turned to other information sources. Data from the program would have been better used if analysts understood its full capabilities, the report said. Some officers also said they lacked legal guidance for how they could use information from the program.

Most of the leads passed on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation didn't have any connection to terrorism. Still, many officials there said the "mere possibility" of the leads that could be useful made investigating them worthwhile. The report concluded that the program "generally played a limited role in the FBI's overall counterterrorism efforts."

Analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center said the program was a "useful tool" but it was "one tool in the toolbox."

Several agencies reported that while the program produced information "of value," they had difficulty defining its precise contribution because information from it was usually combined with many other sources.

Some lawmakers who received highly classified briefings about the program before it was publicly revealed were surprised by the report's findings. Rep. Jane Harman, who was the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee at the time, said that in briefings "this was described as an extremely secret, highly useful program with sound legal underpinnings." The report, she said, "blows through" that contention.

Former NSA Director Michael Hayden, who helped start the program, said in an interview Friday that he could "point to things being disrupted as a direct result of this program." But he added that as more intelligence programs produced terrorism tips, data from the NSA program was increasingly blended with information from other sources.

The NSA program established a system of "sensors" that served as a trip wire for potential al Qaeda activity. He said the system was useful, if only to confirm there may have been less of an al Qaeda presence in the country than was initially feared.

Mr. Hayden also noted that the inspector general report didn't find any evidence of wrongdoing by intelligence officers.

The report also chronicles the internal Bush administration battles over the legality of the program.

The Justice official who drafted the initial memos was Assistant Attorney General John Yoo. His factual discussion of the "other intelligence activities" was identified by his successors at Justice in late 2003 as "insufficient" and presented a "serious impediment" to the president's re-approval of the program. Mr. Yoo had concluded that the requirement for a warrant didn't apply to the whole surveillance program because of the president's constitutional wartime powers.

The report concluded that Mr. Yoo's role -- as the single Justice Department attorney developing legal opinions -- was "inappropriate."

The Justice Department lawyers who succeeded Mr. Yoo in late 2003 believed Mr. Yoo's assertion that wartime powers trumped surveillance laws ignored the provision of a key surveillance law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allowed for surveillance without a warrant for 15 days in an emergency.

In his 2005 book "War by Other Means," Mr. Yoo wrote about the NSA program, saying that the Clinton administration also concluded that the president could use his commander in chief powers to bypass that surveillance law under certain circumstances.

For months, Justice lawyers battled the White House over the legality of the program, which had to be re-approved by the president every 45 days. Mr. Bush signed off for the first time in March 2004 over the Justice Department's protest. The president later modified or discontinued certain "other intelligence activities" that Justice lawyers had protested.

Last year, Congress approved a new surveillance law that authorized an even broader set of "unprecedented collection activities" at NSA the report concluded.

Congress is required this year to reauthorize several key sections of the USA Patriot Act, which includes surveillance measures. American Civil Liberties Union legal counsel said Congress should use that legislation to narrow the scope of NSA's surveillance operations in light of the effectiveness issues the report raises.

In preparing the report, the inspectors general interviewed many of the senior administration officials involved with the program. However, former CIA Director George Tenet, Attorney General John Ashcroft, former counsel to the vice president David Addington, and Mr. Yoo were among those who refused to be interviewed.

The report was prepared by the inspectors general of the Defense and Justice departments, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Director of National Intelligence, and the NSA. The 38-page unclassified version was made public Friday, and a more extensive classified version, in the form of five separate agency reports and a 70-page summary remains under wraps.

NSA officials referred questions to the DNI office, which called the report "important and comprehensive." It said Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair is committed to seeing that all surveillance activities comply with U.S. law and the Constitution.

Write to Siobhan Gorman at siobhan.gorman@wsj.com
23366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GS's doomsday program on: July 10, 2009, 01:14:11 PM
Goldman Sachs Loses Grip on Its Doomsday Machine
Commentary by Jonathan Weil

July 9 (Bloomberg) -- Never let it be said that the Justice Department can’t move quickly when it gets a hot tip about an alleged crime at a Wall Street bank. It does help, though, if the party doing the complaining is the bank itself, and not merely an aggrieved customer.

Another plus is if the bank tells the feds the security of the U.S. financial markets is at stake. This brings us to the strange tale of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Sergey Aleynikov.

Aleynikov, 39, is the former Goldman computer programmer who was arrested on theft charges July 3 as he stepped off a flight at Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. That was two days after Goldman told the government he had stolen its secret, rapid-fire, stock- and commodities-trading software in early June during his last week as a Goldman employee. Prosecutors say Aleynikov uploaded the program code to an unidentified Web site server in Germany.

It wasn’t just Goldman that faced imminent harm if Aleynikov were to be released, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti told a federal magistrate judge at his July 4 bail hearing in New York. The 34-year-old prosecutor also dropped this bombshell: “The bank has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways.”

How could somebody do this? The precise answer isn’t obvious -- we’re talking about a black-box trading system here. And Facciponti didn’t elaborate. You don’t need a Goldman Sachs doomsday machine to manipulate markets, of course. A false rumor expertly planted using an ordinary telephone often will do just fine. In any event, the judge rejected Facciponti’s argument that Aleynikov posed a danger to the community, and ruled he could go free on $750,000 bail. He was released July 6.

Market Manipulation

All this leaves us to wonder: Did Goldman really tell the government its high-speed, high-volume, algorithmic-trading program can be used to manipulate markets in unfair ways, as Facciponti said? And shouldn’t Goldman’s bosses be worried this revelation may cause lots of people to start hypothesizing aloud about whether Goldman itself might misuse this program?

Here’s some of what we do know. Aleynikov, a citizen of the U.S. and Russia, left his $400,000-a-year salary at Goldman for a chance to triple his pay at a start-up firm in Chicago co- founded by Misha Malyshev, a former Citadel Investment Group LLC trader. Malyshev, who oversaw high-frequency trading at Citadel, said his firm, Teza Technologies LLC, first learned about the alleged theft July 5 and suspended Aleynikov without pay.

‘Preposterous’ Charges

Aleynikov’s attorney, Sabrina Shroff, told the judge at the bail hearing that Aleynikov never intended to use the downloaded material “in any proprietary way” and that the government’s charges were “preposterous.”

Goldman isn’t commenting publicly about any of this, though it seems the bank’s bosses want us to believe there’s no need to worry. On July 6, Dow Jones Newswires quoted a “person familiar with the matter” saying this: “The theft has had no impact on our clients and no impact on our business.” Note that this person was so familiar with Goldman that he or she spoke of Goldman’s clients as “our clients” and Goldman’s business as “our business.”

By comparison, last Saturday, while most Americans were enjoying the Fourth of July holiday, Facciponti was in court warning of looming threats to Goldman and the financial markets.

“The copy in Germany is still out there,” the prosecutor said, according to an audio recording of the hearing. “And we at this time do not know who else has access to it and what’s going to happen to that software.”

Secret Software

“We believe that if the defendant is at liberty, there is a substantial danger that he will obtain access to that software and send it on to whoever may need it,” Facciponti said. “And keep in mind, this is worth millions of dollars.”

By “millions,” it’s unclear if that would be enough to match Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein’s $70.3 million compensation package for 2007. Or perhaps millions means thousands of millions, otherwise known as billions.

Facciponti said the bank told the government that “they do not believe that any steps they can take would mitigate the danger of this program being released.” He added: “Once it is out there, anybody will be able to use this, and their market share will be adversely affected.” All Aleynikov would need to get the code from the German server is maybe 10 minutes with a cell phone and an Internet connection, Facciponti said.

Judge’s Ruling

The hole in Facciponti’s argument was that the government offered no evidence that Aleynikov had tried to disseminate the software during the month prior to his arrest, after he downloaded it and had left his job at Goldman. That’s the main reason the judge, Kevin N. Fox, cited in ruling Aleynikov could be released on bail.

“We don’t deal with speculation when we come to court,” Fox said. “We deal with facts.”

Meantime, it would be nice to see someone at Goldman go on the record to explain what’s stopping the world’s most powerful investment bank from using its trading program in unfair ways, too. Oh yes, and could the bank be a bit more careful about safeguarding its trading programs from now on? Hopefully the government is asking the same questions already.

(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
23367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Army PFC Moss on: July 10, 2009, 01:08:57 PM
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Pfc. Moss
 
Moss with family

Pfc. Channing Moss of the United States Army was serving in Afghanistan in March 2006 when disaster struck. His convoy was attacked by Taliban fighters with small arms and rocket propelled grenades. Moss, manning an MK 19 machine gun in the turret of his Humvee, was struck by an RPG -- and survived. Though Moss was impaled through the abdomen with live ordnance, his comrades didn't leave him to die. Army regulations dictate that MEDEVAC choppers should never carry a wounded soldier with a live round in him, yet the flight crew did just that. "[A]t the time, I really didn't think about it," said flight medic Sgt. John Collier, then a specialist. "I knew [the RPG] was there but I thought, if we didn't do it, if we didn't get him out of there, he was going to die." Protocol also dictates that soldiers in Moss's condition be placed in a sandbagged bunker and considered "expectant" -- expected to die. But Maj. John Oh, 759th Forward Surgical Team general surgeon and a naturalized Korean immigrant, performed the life-saving surgery while wearing body armor and a helmet and assisted by a member of the explosive ordnance disposal team and other brave volunteers.

The Military Times has more on this incredible story here and a moving video here (warning: graphic content).

Three months after surviving the attack, Moss witnessed the birth of his second daughter, Ariana. That would not have been possible without the heroic efforts of Maj. Oh, Sgt. Collier and the crew of the 159th Medical Company. "They saved my life," said Moss. "I hope God watches over them if they get deployed." Indeed.
----
PatriotPost
23368  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Parsons on: July 10, 2009, 08:43:33 AM
"We have duties, for the discharge of which we are accountable to our Creator and benefactor, which no human power can cancel. What those duties are, is determinable by right reason, which may be, and is called, a well informed conscience."

--Theophilus Parsons, the Essex Result, 1778
23369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Knife Rights on: July 09, 2009, 03:31:16 PM
From: dritter@KnifeRights.org
To: customs1@kniferights.org
Sent: 7/8/2009 10:08:47 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: URGENT ACTION ALERT: NEW Amendment Revising Federal Switchblade Act
Introduced
 
Amendment Revising Federal Switchblade Act Introduced, Supported by the
Administration.
 
We're going to ask you to write yet again, because your letters and emails
and faxes are WORKING.  You are the ones who have made this happen.

While our primary focus had been on stopping funding for Customs relating
to their proposed rule, another track was being worked in the background
that would permanently solve the problem. It was initially conceived as a
follow-up to the urgently required need to stop Customs dead in its tracks,
giving us time to work on a more permanent solution. Late Tuesday evening,
even as we were marshaling support for the Cornyn-Wyden stop funding
amendment, we received an amendment introduced by Senators Pryor (D-AR) and
Hatch (R-UT) that would revise the Federal Switchblade Act (FSA); an
amendment that was being supported by Customs.

It was a good start, but was not quite acceptable for a variety of reasons.
Knife Rights led an effort to "perfect" the language of the amendment.
Working with our attorneys and AKTI representatives late into the night and
early morning hours, Knife Rights drafted language that we felt would
permanently solve the issue. With the cooperation of AKTI and NRA lobbyists
this revised language was handed off to Sen. Pryor who worked to get
Customs to accept the revised language. After a concerted effort by Sen.
Pryor, a consensus revision emerged that had the support of Customs and was
acceptable to Knife Rights and the industry. Late today a new Amendment
Number 1447 was introduced by Senators Cornyn, Pryor, Hatch, Vitter, Risch,
Chambliss, Corker, Enzi, Barrasso, Graham, Roberts, Wyden and Crapo that
adds another Exception in Section 1244 that clearly covers conventional
assisted openers and one-hand openers. It's not perfect, but it's good
enough and a major step forward. Even better, it is a permanent solution
rather than a stop-gap measure.

       View the amendment here:  http://www.KnifeRights.org/SAmdt%201447.pdf

This cooperative effort has resulted in a bi-partisan amendment that has
the critical support from the Senate committees which have responsibility
for the FSA and which is endorsed by the Administration (Customs and Border
Production have signed off on it). That gives it a very good chance of
making it through the process, but first we have to get it voted into the
Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.

NONE of this would have occurred without the groundswell of negative
reaction to the Customs proposal. Your thousands of written letters mailed
to Customs and the thousands more emails and faxes sent to Members of
Congress asking them to stop Customs, are what raised the issue to a level
where it could no longer be ignored. As the efforts by Knife Rights and
AKTI garnered more support from others with more political pull, that led
to the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus' letter to Sec. Napolitano. It all
added up to a great deal of pressure on Customs to fix the problem. Customs
has responded, to their credit.

The coalition of advocacy groups including Knife Rights, American Knife and
Tool Institute, National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen
Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation, Citizens Committee for the Right
to Keep and Bear Arms and others were able to leverage YOUR outrage into an
effective political force in a very short time. None of us individually
could have done it alone and it would not have happened without the
grassroots support you have provided. You deserve to pat yourself on the
back for this effort to get it this far. In an age when we often feel like
Congress and the Administration simply ignore the citizens' wishes, this is
an example of them actually listening to the citizens. YOU made this happen!

Now, we need to get the job finished. The next step is a vote on this
Amendment in the Senate. Yes, that means it is time to write again. And,
hopefully you'll need to write again to support an effort to get it through
Conference Committee.  That we are in a position to ask you to do this is
proof positive that it works. We have a short and simple letter this time.
Please WRITE NOW!

Locate YOUR OWN Senators and their email forms here:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Sample Letter to YOUR Senators (copy and paste into the email form). If
your Senator is one of those listed at the end as co-sponsors, change the
closing to THANK them for their efforts co-sponsoring this amendment.:

RE: Amendment Number 1447 to DHS Appropriations H.R. 2892

Dear Senator [Insert Senator's Name],

As a pocket knife owner, I support Amendment Number 1447 as a fair and
reasonable solution to Customs' rulemaking which would expand the
interpretation of what a Switchblade is. I am pleased that Customs has
endorsed this amendment as a solution.

I strongly urge you to accept Senators Cornyn, Pryor, Hatch, Vitter, Risch,
Chambliss, Corker, Enzi, Barrasso, Graham, Roberts, Wyden and Crapo's
amendment, Number 1447, to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Individual Signature]

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

Knife Rights on Twitter

Follow Knife Rights on Twitter and receive the latest updates and notices
as soon as they occur: http://twitter.com/KnifeRights

Join or Donate to Knife Rights

Your membership dues help support our efforts to protect your rights.
Invest a modest sum in A Sharper FutureT. Join at the Benefactor level to
help us even more. JOIN NOW! 

http://tinyurl.com/qnu988

PLEASE DONATE TO SUPPORT THIS FIGHT FOR YOUR KNIFE RIGHTS!

http://bit.ly/Scvp9

Copyright 2009, Knife Rights, Inc.
This may be reproduced. It may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

Doug Ritter
Chairman / CEO
Knife Rights, Inc.
Knife Rights Foundation, Inc.
www.KnifeRights.org
Email: dritter@KnifeRights.org

From: Toma
23370  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gender Equity at close quarters on: July 09, 2009, 02:42:39 PM
Gender equity at close quarters

By mixing women and men on board, isn’t the navy asking for trouble?
It was a shock-horror story for a slow Sunday night, but the news of a sexual scandal on board an Australian Navy ship has drawn comment from the country’s Prime Minister and his deputy, serving to highlight problems surrounding women’s role in the military.

HMAS Success has a mixed crew, in line with a gender equity policy that has counterparts in the defence establishment of many countries. This mixing of men and women is supposed to be a great thing for them and for the military. Women who hanker after risk and adventure can fulfil their desires while putting their special talents at the service of their country.

But some of the men on board Success have grown ho-hum about the privilege of having women around and the opportunities for sex that it presents, so four of them devised a betting game in which they competed to see who could have sex with the most women crewmates. They kept a written record and there were extra points for taking advantage of female officers and lesbians.

Since an Australian television channel broke the story on Sunday, the Defence Department has confirmed that four men were sent home in May from Singapore, where the ship was stationed, and that a formal inquiry is under way. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called the allegations “disturbing” and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has indicated she wants a full investigation.

Ms Gillard said that both the government and the nation had been saying for a long time that women should be able to join the army, the navy or air force. "We don't want to see anything that precludes women from having a good career in our armed forces if that is what they choose to do with their lives.”

According to Defence, the allegations came to light during “an equity and diversity health check” when women “raised a number of concerns”. If the details of the “game” are true, it showed utter contempt for the women being targeted, if not the whole female complement of the ship. Dismissal would be too good for these men; a spell in the stocks would be an appropriately shaming punishment.

But, what then? Is it a question of replacing a few bad eggs, drilling the others on the sexual harassment policy, upping the penalties -- that sort of thing? Or is there something fundamentally wrong with the military’s experiment with sexual integration?

Sexual harassment and assault have become a huge issue in the United States forces. According to an AP report last year, 15 per cent of women veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have sought help from a Department of Veteran Affairs facility have screened positive for military sexual trauma, and the VA has at least 16 inpatient wards specialising in treating of such women.

Military sexual trauma means that while they were on active duty they were sexually assaulted, raped, or were sexually harassed, receiving repeated unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature. One woman, who now advocates with government on this issue, described how she was harassed while sharing a house with about 20 men while on service at an outpost in Iraq, and was traumatised by it.

One woman with 20 men? Doesn’t that illustrate how crazy this policy can get? Of course, she should have been safe with 120 men, especially men serving in what has traditionally been an honourable occupation, based on the ideal of defending what is right.

But there are strong forces working against the honour code. Military men come from the same cultural environment as other men (and women) -- one in which sex is debased to the level of personal recreation and public entertainment. Casual and short-term relationships are taken for granted, pornography is defended (by women as well as men) and consent is the only recognised rule.

It appears to be the only rule in the forces as well. There is nothing to suggest that the Australian sailors are being investigated simply for having sex with women crew members -- although US Defence surveys show that women marines are more likely than other servicewomen to experience unwanted sexual touching. Rather, the issue seems to be that the women felt demeaned when they discovered that they were the objects of a cynical game in which dollar amounts were placed on their heads and they would be material for bragging among the men.

Did the men know that their nasty little game would not only be offensive to the women -- they simply must have known that -- but would constitute a formal offence, sexual harassment, presumably? Maybe not.

If that is the case, the sexual equality policy means the authorities have put themselves in the ridiculous position of having to define a whole range of offensive sexual behaviour and/or arbitrate all the disputes that arise from the casual sex it allows to go on in its ranks. He will call it a game; she will call it harassment and an attack on her dignity. Or he will call it “having sex” and she will call it rape. And there will have to be an inquiry to sort it out. And then more time and resources may have to be spent on punitive measures, re-education and compensation.

Worse than that, in view of the fact that some personnel are married and some become pregnant, the institutions responsible for defending the homeland help to undermine the nation’s homes and families by condoning extra-marital affairs and unwed motherhood.

It is this high level stupidity, more than the low-level brutishness of the sailors in question in this particular dispute that makes one worry about the calibre of the forces and their defence readiness.

There is a place for women in a nation’s defence system, but it is not in close quarters with men on a ship. Nor is it in mixed quarters at the front line of battle. If that is what Ms Gillard and others of her persuasion mean by “a good career in the armed forces” they really are talking through their hats.

Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet.
23371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Patriot on: July 09, 2009, 01:37:29 PM
2009 Mid-Year Fund Report
"Posterity -- you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it." --John Quincy Adams
Thank you for supporting The Patriot in so many ways. Many of our fellow Patriots answered our call for financial support during the 2009 Independence Day campaign and have helped us bridge the midsummer drought between July and September.

Your generous support ensures that The Patriot's timeless advocacy for individual liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values, is distributed to an ever-wider group of conservative grassroots activists.

The Patriot Fund is now within $15,673 of our summer goal.


 

So that we might pursue our mission without compromise, The Patriot is not sustained by any political, special-interest or parent organization, nor do we accept any online or e-mail advertising. Our mission and operations budgets are funded by -- and depend entirely upon -- the voluntary financial support of our readers!

Your support also provides for distribution of The Patriot to thousands of American military personnel, students and those in ministry or other professions with limited financial means. Additionally, your donation maintains some of the best research and advocacy resources on the Internet.

(View our revenue and expense information here.)

On behalf of your Patriot Staff and National Advisory Committee, thank you for your support!

Sincerely,


Director of Donor Services

P.S. Please, if you are able and have not already done so, take a moment to support The Patriot online today by making a contribution -- however large or small. (If you prefer to support us by mail, please fill out and send in our printable donor form along with your check payable to "The Patriot Annual Fund," to PO Box 507, Chattanooga, TN 37401.)

"It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." -- Samuel Adams
23372  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: July 09, 2009, 11:50:10 AM
Selfcritical-- thank you.

Any URLs anyone?

TIA,
CD
23373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mex-US arms trade on: July 09, 2009, 10:19:05 AM
Also posted in the Mexico-US thread:

Mexico: Economics and the Arms Trade
July 9, 2009




By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

On June 26, the small Mexican town of Apaseo el Alto, in Guanajuato state, was the scene of a deadly firefight between members of Los Zetas and federal and local security forces. The engagement began when a joint patrol of Mexican soldiers and police officers responded to a report of heavily armed men at a suspected drug safe house. When the patrol arrived, a 20-minute firefight erupted between the security forces and gunmen in the house as well as several suspects in two vehicles who threw fragmentation grenades as they tried to escape.

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
When the shooting ended, 12 gunmen lay dead, 12 had been taken into custody and several soldiers and police officers had been wounded. At least half of the detained suspects admitted to being members of Los Zetas, a highly trained Mexican cartel group known for its use of military weapons and tactics.

When authorities examined the safe house they discovered a mass grave that contained the remains of an undetermined number of people (perhaps 14 or 15) who are believed to have been executed and then burned beyond recognition by Los Zetas. The house also contained a large cache of weapons, including assault rifles and fragmentation grenades. Such military ordnance is frequently used by Los Zetas and the enforcers who work for their rival cartels.

STRATFOR has been closely following the cartel violence in Mexico for several years now, and the events that transpired in Apaseo el Alto are by no means unique. It is not uncommon for the Mexican authorities to engage in large firefights with cartel groups, encounter mass graves or recover large caches of arms. However, the recovery of the weapons in Apaseo el Alto does provide an opportunity to once again focus on the dynamics of Mexico’s arms trade.

White, Black and Shades of Gray
Before we get down into the weeds of Mexico’s arms trade, let’s do something a little different and first take a brief look at how arms trafficking works on a regional and global scale. Doing so will help illustrate how arms trafficking in Mexico fits into these broader patterns.

When analysts examine arms sales they look at three general categories: the white arms market, the gray arms market and the black arms market. The white arms market is the legal, aboveboard transfer of weapons in accordance with the national laws of the parties involved and international treaties or restrictions. The parties in a white arms deal will file the proper paperwork, including end-user certificates, noting what is being sold, who is selling it and to whom it is being sold. There is an understanding that the receiving party does not intend to transfer the weapons to a third party. So, for example, if the Mexican army wants to buy assault rifles from German arms maker Heckler & Koch, it places the order with the company and fills out all the required paperwork, including forms for obtaining permission for the sale from the German government.

Now, the white arms market can be deceived and manipulated, and when this happens, we get the gray market — literally, white arms that are shifted into the hands of someone other than the purported recipient. One of the classic ways to do this is to either falsify an end-user certificate, or bribe an official in a third country to sign an end-user certificate but then allow a shipment of arms to pass through a country en route to a third location. This type of transaction is frequently used in cases where there are international arms embargoes against a particular country (like Liberia) or where it is illegal to sell arms to a militant group (such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym, FARC). One example of this would be Ukrainian small arms that, on paper, were supposed to go to Cote d’Ivoire but were really transferred in violation of U.N. arms embargoes to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Another example of this would be the government of Peru purchasing thousands of surplus East German assault rifles from Jordan on the white arms market, ostensibly for the Peruvian military, only to have those rifles slip into the gray arms world and be dropped at airstrips in the jungles of Colombia for use by the FARC.

At the far end of the spectrum is the black arms market where the guns are contraband from the get-go and all the business is conducted under the table. There are no end-user certificates and the weapons are smuggled covertly. Examples of this would be the smuggling of arms from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and Afghanistan into Europe through places like Kosovo and Slovenia, or the smuggling of arms into South America from Asia, the FSU and Middle East by Hezbollah and criminal gangs in the Tri-Border Region.

Nation-states will often use the gray and black arms markets in order to deniably support allies, undermine opponents or otherwise pursue their national interests. This was clearly revealed in the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s, but Iran-Contra only scratched the surface of the arms smuggling that occurred during the Cold War. Untold tons of military ordnance were delivered by the United States, the Soviet Union and Cuba to their respective allies in Latin America during the Cold War.

This quantity of materiel shipped into Latin America during the Cold War brings up another very important point pertaining to weapons. Unlike drugs, which are consumable goods, firearms are durable goods. This means that they can be useful for decades and are frequently shipped from conflict zone to conflict zone. East German MPiKMS and MPiKM assault rifles are still floating around the world’s arms markets years after the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist. In fact, visiting an arms bazaar in a place like Yemen is like visiting an arms museum. One can encounter century-old, still-functional Lee-Enfield and Springfield rifles in a rack next to a modern U.S. M4 rifle or German HK93, and those next to brand-new Chinese Type 56 and 81 assault rifles.

There is often a correlation between arms and drug smuggling. In many instances, the same routes used to smuggle drugs are also used to smuggle arms. In some instances, like the smuggling routes from Central Asia to Europe, the flow of guns and drugs goes in the same direction, and they are both sold in Western Europe for cash. In the case of Latin American cocaine, the drugs tend to flow in one direction (toward the United States and Europe) while guns from U.S. and Russian organized-crime groups flow in the other direction, and often these guns are used as whole or partial payment for the drugs.

Illegal drugs are not the only thing traded for guns. During the Cold War, a robust arms-for-sugar trade transpired between the Cubans and Vietnamese. As a result, Marxist groups all over Latin America were furnished with U.S. materiel either captured or left behind when the Americans withdrew from Vietnam. LAW rockets traced to U.S. military stocks sent to Vietnam were used in several attacks by Latin American Marxist groups. These Vietnam War-vintage weapons still crop up with some frequency in Mexico, Colombia and other parts of the region. Cold War-era weapons furnished to the likes of the Contras, Sandinistas, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity movement in the 1980s are also frequently encountered in the region.

After the civil wars ended in places like El Salvador and Guatemala, the governments and the international community attempted to institute arms buy-back programs, but those programs were not very successful and most of the guns turned in were very old — the better arms were cached by groups or kept by individuals. Some of these guns have dribbled back into the black arms market, and Central and South America are still awash in Cold War weapons.

But Cold War shipments are not the only reason that Latin America is flooded with guns. In addition to the indigenous arms industries in countries like Brazil and Argentina, Venezuela has purchased hundreds of thousands of AK assault rifles in recent years to replace its aging FN-FAL rifles and has even purchased the equipment to open a factory to produce AK-103 rifles under license inside Venezuela. The Colombian government has accused the Venezuelans of arming the FARC, and evidence obtained by the Colombians during raids on FARC camps and provided to the public appears to support those assertions.

More than 90 Percent?
For several years now, Mexican officials have been making public statements that more than 90 percent of the arms used by criminals in Mexico come from the United States. That number was echoed last month in a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on U.S. efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico (see external link).

External Link
GAO report on arms trafficking to Mexico
(STRATFOR is not responsible for the content of other Web sites.)
According to the report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican officials in 2008. Out of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them, (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.

This means that the 87 percent figure comes from the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by the Mexicans or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. The 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing.

In a response to the GAO report, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wrote a letter to the GAO (published as an appendix to the report) calling the GAO’s use of the 87 percent statistic “misleading.” The DHS further noted, “Numerous problems with the data collection and sample population render this assertion as unreliable.”

Trying to get a reliable idea about where the drug cartels are getting their weapons can be difficult because the statistics on firearms seized in Mexico are very confusing. For example, while the GAO report says that 30,000 guns were seized in 2008 alone, the Mexican Prosecutor General’s office has reported that between Dec. 1, 2005, and Jan. 22, 2009, Mexican authorities seized 31,512 weapons from the cartels.

Furthermore, it is not prudent to rely exclusively on weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing as a representative sample of the overall Mexican arms market. This is because there are some classes of weapons, such as RPG-7s and South Korean hand grenades, which make very little sense for the Mexicans to pass to the ATF for tracing since they obviously are not from the United States. The ATF is limited in its ability to trace weapons that did not pass through the United States, though there are offices at the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency that maintain extensive international arms-trafficking databases.

Mexican authorities are also unlikely to ask the ATF to trace weapons that can be tracked through the Mexican government’s own databases such as the one maintained by the Mexican Defense Department’s Arms and Ammunition Marketing Division (UCAM), which is the only outlet through which Mexican citizens can legally buy guns. If they can trace a gun through UCAM there is simply no need to submit it to ATF.

The United States has criticized Mexico for decades over its inability to stop the flow of narcotics into U.S. territory, and for the past several years Mexico has responded by blaming the guns coming from the United States for its inability to stop the drug trafficking. In this context, there is a lot of incentive for the Mexicans to politicize and play up the issue of guns coming from the United States, and north of the border there are U.S. gun-control advocates who have a vested interest in adding fuel to the fire and gun-rights advocates who have an interest in playing down the number.

Clearly, the issue of U.S. guns being sent south of the border is a serious one, but STRATFOR does not believe that there is sufficient evidence to support the claim that 90 percent (or more) of the cartels’ weaponry comes from the United States. The data at present is inclusive — the 90 percent figure appears to be a subsample of a sample, so that number cannot be applied with confidence to the entire country. Indeed, the percentage of U.S. arms appears to be far lower than 90 percent in specific classes of arms such as fully automatic assault rifles, machine guns, rifle grenades, fragmentation grenades and RPG-7s. Even items such as the handful of U.S.-manufactured LAW rockets encountered in Mexico have come from third countries and not directly from the United States.

However, while the 90 percent figure appears to be unsubstantiated by documentable evidence, this fact does not necessarily prove that the converse is true, even if it may be a logical conclusion. The bottom line is that, until there is a comprehensive, scientific study conducted on the arms seized by the Mexican authorities, much will be left to conjecture, and it will be very difficult to determine exactly how many of the cartels’ weapons have come from the United States, and to map out precisely how the black, white and gray arms markets have interacted to bring weapons to Mexico and Mexican cartels.

More research needs to be done on both sides of the border in order to understand this important issue.

Four Trends
In spite of the historical ambiguity, there are four trends that are likely to shape the future flow of arms into Mexico. The first of these is militarization. Since 2006 there has been a steady trend toward the use of heavy military ordnance by the cartels. This process was begun in earnest when the Gulf Cartel first recruited Los Zetas, but in order to counter Los Zetas, all the other cartels have had to recruit and train hard-core enforcer units and outfit them with similar weaponry. Prior to 2007, attacks involving fragmentation hand grenades, 40 mm grenades and RPGs were somewhat rare and immediately attracted a lot of attention. Such incidents are now quite common, and it is not unusual to see firefights like the June 26 incident in Apaseo el Alto in which dozens of grenades are employed.

Another trend in recent years has been the steady movement of Mexican cartels south into Central and South America. As noted above, the region is awash in guns, and the growing presence of Mexican cartel members puts them in contact with people who have access to Cold War weapons, international arms merchants doing business with groups like the FARC and corrupt officials who can obtain weapons from military sources in the region. We have already seen seizures of weapons coming into Mexico from the south. One notable seizure occurred in March 2009, when Guatemalan authorities raided a training camp in northern Guatemala near the Mexican border that they claim belonged to Los Zetas. In the raid they recovered 563 40 mm grenades and 11 M60 machine guns that had been stolen from the Guatemalan military and sold to Los Zetas.

The third trend is the current firearm and ammunition market in the United States. Since the election of Barack Obama, arms sales have gone through the roof due to fears (so far unfounded) that the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress will attempt to restrict or ban certain weapons. Additionally, ammunition companies are busy filling military orders for the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan. As anyone who has attempted to buy an assault rifle (or even a brick of .22 cartridges) will tell you, it is no longer cheap or easy to buy guns and ammunition. In fact, due to this surge in demand, it is downright difficult to locate many types of assault rifles and certain calibers of ammunition, though a lucky buyer might be able to find a basic stripped-down AR-15 for $850 to $1,100, or a semiautomatic AK-47 for $650 to $850. Of course, such a gun purchased in the United States and smuggled into Mexico will be sold to the cartels at a hefty premium above the purchase price.

By way of comparison, in places where weapons are abundant, such as Yemen, a surplus fully automatic assault rifle can be purchased for under $100 on the white arms market and for about the same price on the black arms market. This difference in price provides a powerful economic incentive to buy low elsewhere and sell high in Mexico, as does the inability to get certain classes of weapons such as RPGs and fragmentation grenades in the United States. Indeed, we have seen reports of international arms merchants from places like Israel and Belgium selling weapons to the cartels and bringing that ordnance into Mexico through routes other than over the U.S. border. Additionally, in South America, a number of arms smugglers, including Hezbollah and Russian organized-crime groups, have made a considerable amount of money supplying arms to groups in the region like the FARC.

The fourth trend is the increasing effort by the U.S. government to stanch the flow of weapons from the United States into Mexico. A recent increase in the number of ATF special agents and inspectors pursuing gun dealers who knowingly sell to the cartels or straw-purchase buyers who obtain guns from honest dealers is going to increase the chances of such individuals being caught. This stepped-up enforcement will have an impact as the risk of being caught illegally buying or smuggling guns begins to outweigh the profit that can be made by selling guns to the cartels. We believe that these two factors — supply problems and enforcement — will work together to help reduce the flow of U.S. guns to Mexico.

While there has been a long and well-documented history of arms smuggling across the U.S.-Mexican border, it is important to recognize that, while the United States is a significant source of certain classes of weapons, it is by no means the only source of illegal weapons in Mexico. As STRATFOR has previously noted, even if it were possible to hermetically seal the U.S.-Mexican border, the Mexican cartels would still be able to obtain weapons from non-U.S. sources (just as drugs would continue to flow into the United States). The law of supply and demand will ensure that the Mexican cartels will get their ordnance, but it is highly likely that an increasing percentage of that supply will begin to come from outside the United States via the gray and black arms markets.
23374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Mex-US arms trade on: July 09, 2009, 10:17:10 AM
Mexico: Economics and the Arms Trade
July 9, 2009
By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

On June 26, the small Mexican town of Apaseo el Alto, in Guanajuato state, was the scene of a deadly firefight between members of Los Zetas and federal and local security forces. The engagement began when a joint patrol of Mexican soldiers and police officers responded to a report of heavily armed men at a suspected drug safe house. When the patrol arrived, a 20-minute firefight erupted between the security forces and gunmen in the house as well as several suspects in two vehicles who threw fragmentation grenades as they tried to escape.

When the shooting ended, 12 gunmen lay dead, 12 had been taken into custody and several soldiers and police officers had been wounded. At least half of the detained suspects admitted to being members of Los Zetas, a highly trained Mexican cartel group known for its use of military weapons and tactics.

When authorities examined the safe house they discovered a mass grave that contained the remains of an undetermined number of people (perhaps 14 or 15) who are believed to have been executed and then burned beyond recognition by Los Zetas. The house also contained a large cache of weapons, including assault rifles and fragmentation grenades. Such military ordnance is frequently used by Los Zetas and the enforcers who work for their rival cartels.

STRATFOR has been closely following the cartel violence in Mexico for several years now, and the events that transpired in Apaseo el Alto are by no means unique. It is not uncommon for the Mexican authorities to engage in large firefights with cartel groups, encounter mass graves or recover large caches of arms. However, the recovery of the weapons in Apaseo el Alto does provide an opportunity to once again focus on the dynamics of Mexico’s arms trade.

White, Black and Shades of Gray
Before we get down into the weeds of Mexico’s arms trade, let’s do something a little different and first take a brief look at how arms trafficking works on a regional and global scale. Doing so will help illustrate how arms trafficking in Mexico fits into these broader patterns.

When analysts examine arms sales they look at three general categories: the white arms market, the gray arms market and the black arms market. The white arms market is the legal, aboveboard transfer of weapons in accordance with the national laws of the parties involved and international treaties or restrictions. The parties in a white arms deal will file the proper paperwork, including end-user certificates, noting what is being sold, who is selling it and to whom it is being sold. There is an understanding that the receiving party does not intend to transfer the weapons to a third party. So, for example, if the Mexican army wants to buy assault rifles from German arms maker Heckler & Koch, it places the order with the company and fills out all the required paperwork, including forms for obtaining permission for the sale from the German government.

Now, the white arms market can be deceived and manipulated, and when this happens, we get the gray market — literally, white arms that are shifted into the hands of someone other than the purported recipient. One of the classic ways to do this is to either falsify an end-user certificate, or bribe an official in a third country to sign an end-user certificate but then allow a shipment of arms to pass through a country en route to a third location. This type of transaction is frequently used in cases where there are international arms embargoes against a particular country (like Liberia) or where it is illegal to sell arms to a militant group (such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym, FARC). One example of this would be Ukrainian small arms that, on paper, were supposed to go to Cote d’Ivoire but were really transferred in violation of U.N. arms embargoes to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Another example of this would be the government of Peru purchasing thousands of surplus East German assault rifles from Jordan on the white arms market, ostensibly for the Peruvian military, only to have those rifles slip into the gray arms world and be dropped at airstrips in the jungles of Colombia for use by the FARC.

At the far end of the spectrum is the black arms market where the guns are contraband from the get-go and all the business is conducted under the table. There are no end-user certificates and the weapons are smuggled covertly. Examples of this would be the smuggling of arms from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and Afghanistan into Europe through places like Kosovo and Slovenia, or the smuggling of arms into South America from Asia, the FSU and Middle East by Hezbollah and criminal gangs in the Tri-Border Region.

Nation-states will often use the gray and black arms markets in order to deniably support allies, undermine opponents or otherwise pursue their national interests. This was clearly revealed in the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s, but Iran-Contra only scratched the surface of the arms smuggling that occurred during the Cold War. Untold tons of military ordnance were delivered by the United States, the Soviet Union and Cuba to their respective allies in Latin America during the Cold War.

This quantity of materiel shipped into Latin America during the Cold War brings up another very important point pertaining to weapons. Unlike drugs, which are consumable goods, firearms are durable goods. This means that they can be useful for decades and are frequently shipped from conflict zone to conflict zone. East German MPiKMS and MPiKM assault rifles are still floating around the world’s arms markets years after the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist. In fact, visiting an arms bazaar in a place like Yemen is like visiting an arms museum. One can encounter century-old, still-functional Lee-Enfield and Springfield rifles in a rack next to a modern U.S. M4 rifle or German HK93, and those next to brand-new Chinese Type 56 and 81 assault rifles.

There is often a correlation between arms and drug smuggling. In many instances, the same routes used to smuggle drugs are also used to smuggle arms. In some instances, like the smuggling routes from Central Asia to Europe, the flow of guns and drugs goes in the same direction, and they are both sold in Western Europe for cash. In the case of Latin American cocaine, the drugs tend to flow in one direction (toward the United States and Europe) while guns from U.S. and Russian organized-crime groups flow in the other direction, and often these guns are used as whole or partial payment for the drugs.

Illegal drugs are not the only thing traded for guns. During the Cold War, a robust arms-for-sugar trade transpired between the Cubans and Vietnamese. As a result, Marxist groups all over Latin America were furnished with U.S. materiel either captured or left behind when the Americans withdrew from Vietnam. LAW rockets traced to U.S. military stocks sent to Vietnam were used in several attacks by Latin American Marxist groups. These Vietnam War-vintage weapons still crop up with some frequency in Mexico, Colombia and other parts of the region. Cold War-era weapons furnished to the likes of the Contras, Sandinistas, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity movement in the 1980s are also frequently encountered in the region.

After the civil wars ended in places like El Salvador and Guatemala, the governments and the international community attempted to institute arms buy-back programs, but those programs were not very successful and most of the guns turned in were very old — the better arms were cached by groups or kept by individuals. Some of these guns have dribbled back into the black arms market, and Central and South America are still awash in Cold War weapons.

But Cold War shipments are not the only reason that Latin America is flooded with guns. In addition to the indigenous arms industries in countries like Brazil and Argentina, Venezuela has purchased hundreds of thousands of AK assault rifles in recent years to replace its aging FN-FAL rifles and has even purchased the equipment to open a factory to produce AK-103 rifles under license inside Venezuela. The Colombian government has accused the Venezuelans of arming the FARC, and evidence obtained by the Colombians during raids on FARC camps and provided to the public appears to support those assertions.

More than 90 Percent?
For several years now, Mexican officials have been making public statements that more than 90 percent of the arms used by criminals in Mexico come from the United States. That number was echoed last month in a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on U.S. efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico (see external link).

External Link
GAO report on arms trafficking to Mexico
(STRATFOR is not responsible for the content of other Web sites.)
According to the report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican officials in 2008. Out of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them, (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.

This means that the 87 percent figure comes from the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by the Mexicans or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. The 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing.

In a response to the GAO report, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wrote a letter to the GAO (published as an appendix to the report) calling the GAO’s use of the 87 percent statistic “misleading.” The DHS further noted, “Numerous problems with the data collection and sample population render this assertion as unreliable.”

Trying to get a reliable idea about where the drug cartels are getting their weapons can be difficult because the statistics on firearms seized in Mexico are very confusing. For example, while the GAO report says that 30,000 guns were seized in 2008 alone, the Mexican Prosecutor General’s office has reported that between Dec. 1, 2005, and Jan. 22, 2009, Mexican authorities seized 31,512 weapons from the cartels.

Furthermore, it is not prudent to rely exclusively on weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing as a representative sample of the overall Mexican arms market. This is because there are some classes of weapons, such as RPG-7s and South Korean hand grenades, which make very little sense for the Mexicans to pass to the ATF for tracing since they obviously are not from the United States. The ATF is limited in its ability to trace weapons that did not pass through the United States, though there are offices at the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency that maintain extensive international arms-trafficking databases.

Mexican authorities are also unlikely to ask the ATF to trace weapons that can be tracked through the Mexican government’s own databases such as the one maintained by the Mexican Defense Department’s Arms and Ammunition Marketing Division (UCAM), which is the only outlet through which Mexican citizens can legally buy guns. If they can trace a gun through UCAM there is simply no need to submit it to ATF.

The United States has criticized Mexico for decades over its inability to stop the flow of narcotics into U.S. territory, and for the past several years Mexico has responded by blaming the guns coming from the United States for its inability to stop the drug trafficking. In this context, there is a lot of incentive for the Mexicans to politicize and play up the issue of guns coming from the United States, and north of the border there are U.S. gun-control advocates who have a vested interest in adding fuel to the fire and gun-rights advocates who have an interest in playing down the number.

Clearly, the issue of U.S. guns being sent south of the border is a serious one, but STRATFOR does not believe that there is sufficient evidence to support the claim that 90 percent (or more) of the cartels’ weaponry comes from the United States. The data at present is inclusive — the 90 percent figure appears to be a subsample of a sample, so that number cannot be applied with confidence to the entire country. Indeed, the percentage of U.S. arms appears to be far lower than 90 percent in specific classes of arms such as fully automatic assault rifles, machine guns, rifle grenades, fragmentation grenades and RPG-7s. Even items such as the handful of U.S.-manufactured LAW rockets encountered in Mexico have come from third countries and not directly from the United States.

However, while the 90 percent figure appears to be unsubstantiated by documentable evidence, this fact does not necessarily prove that the converse is true, even if it may be a logical conclusion. The bottom line is that, until there is a comprehensive, scientific study conducted on the arms seized by the Mexican authorities, much will be left to conjecture, and it will be very difficult to determine exactly how many of the cartels’ weapons have come from the United States, and to map out precisely how the black, white and gray arms markets have interacted to bring weapons to Mexico and Mexican cartels.

More research needs to be done on both sides of the border in order to understand this important issue.

Four Trends
In spite of the historical ambiguity, there are four trends that are likely to shape the future flow of arms into Mexico. The first of these is militarization. Since 2006 there has been a steady trend toward the use of heavy military ordnance by the cartels. This process was begun in earnest when the Gulf Cartel first recruited Los Zetas, but in order to counter Los Zetas, all the other cartels have had to recruit and train hard-core enforcer units and outfit them with similar weaponry. Prior to 2007, attacks involving fragmentation hand grenades, 40 mm grenades and RPGs were somewhat rare and immediately attracted a lot of attention. Such incidents are now quite common, and it is not unusual to see firefights like the June 26 incident in Apaseo el Alto in which dozens of grenades are employed.

Another trend in recent years has been the steady movement of Mexican cartels south into Central and South America. As noted above, the region is awash in guns, and the growing presence of Mexican cartel members puts them in contact with people who have access to Cold War weapons, international arms merchants doing business with groups like the FARC and corrupt officials who can obtain weapons from military sources in the region. We have already seen seizures of weapons coming into Mexico from the south. One notable seizure occurred in March 2009, when Guatemalan authorities raided a training camp in northern Guatemala near the Mexican border that they claim belonged to Los Zetas. In the raid they recovered 563 40 mm grenades and 11 M60 machine guns that had been stolen from the Guatemalan military and sold to Los Zetas.

The third trend is the current firearm and ammunition market in the United States. Since the election of Barack Obama, arms sales have gone through the roof due to fears (so far unfounded) that the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress will attempt to restrict or ban certain weapons. Additionally, ammunition companies are busy filling military orders for the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan. As anyone who has attempted to buy an assault rifle (or even a brick of .22 cartridges) will tell you, it is no longer cheap or easy to buy guns and ammunition. In fact, due to this surge in demand, it is downright difficult to locate many types of assault rifles and certain calibers of ammunition, though a lucky buyer might be able to find a basic stripped-down AR-15 for $850 to $1,100, or a semiautomatic AK-47 for $650 to $850. Of course, such a gun purchased in the United States and smuggled into Mexico will be sold to the cartels at a hefty premium above the purchase price.

By way of comparison, in places where weapons are abundant, such as Yemen, a surplus fully automatic assault rifle can be purchased for under $100 on the white arms market and for about the same price on the black arms market. This difference in price provides a powerful economic incentive to buy low elsewhere and sell high in Mexico, as does the inability to get certain classes of weapons such as RPGs and fragmentation grenades in the United States. Indeed, we have seen reports of international arms merchants from places like Israel and Belgium selling weapons to the cartels and bringing that ordnance into Mexico through routes other than over the U.S. border. Additionally, in South America, a number of arms smugglers, including Hezbollah and Russian organized-crime groups, have made a considerable amount of money supplying arms to groups in the region like the FARC.

The fourth trend is the increasing effort by the U.S. government to stanch the flow of weapons from the United States into Mexico. A recent increase in the number of ATF special agents and inspectors pursuing gun dealers who knowingly sell to the cartels or straw-purchase buyers who obtain guns from honest dealers is going to increase the chances of such individuals being caught. This stepped-up enforcement will have an impact as the risk of being caught illegally buying or smuggling guns begins to outweigh the profit that can be made by selling guns to the cartels. We believe that these two factors — supply problems and enforcement — will work together to help reduce the flow of U.S. guns to Mexico.

While there has been a long and well-documented history of arms smuggling across the U.S.-Mexican border, it is important to recognize that, while the United States is a significant source of certain classes of weapons, it is by no means the only source of illegal weapons in Mexico. As STRATFOR has previously noted, even if it were possible to hermetically seal the U.S.-Mexican border, the Mexican cartels would still be able to obtain weapons from non-U.S. sources (just as drugs would continue to flow into the United States). The law of supply and demand will ensure that the Mexican cartels will get their ordnance, but it is highly likely that an increasing percentage of that supply will begin to come from outside the United States via the gray and black arms markets.
23375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Desalinization plants in CA. on: July 09, 2009, 09:59:28 AM
By SABRINA SHANKMAN
Early next year, the Southern California town of Carlsbad will break ground on a plant that each day will turn 50 million gallons of seawater into fresh drinking water.

The $320 million project, which would be the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere, was held up in the planning stages for years. But a protracted drought helped propel the project to its approval in May -- a sign of how worried local authorities are about water supplies.

Carlsbad Mayor Claude Lewis and other elected officials have dodged environmentalists' objections to city plans to build a desalination plant.

"Water is going to be very short until you have a new source," said Carlsbad Mayor Claude Lewis. "And the only new source is desalination, I don't care what anybody says."

The desalination plant would use water that flows by gravity from the ocean across a manmade lagoon and into the facility through 10 large pumps. The plant would then blast it through a filter, extracting fresh water and leaving behind highly pressurized salty water. The process would provide enough water for 300,000 people each day.

Government agencies have opposed desalination because of the process's energy consumption. The desalination plant would use nearly twice as much energy as a wastewater-treatment plant available in Orange County. Environmental groups also object because fish and other organisms are likely to be sucked into the facility.

Parched State Seeks to Expand Water Supply "Eventually, people will have to realize, it's either fish or children," Mr. Lewis said.

Desalination is most commonly used in such places as Saudi Arabia and northern Africa, where fresh water is scarce.  But in Southern California, authorities are increasingly desperate. Huntington Beach, in Orange County, is planning to break ground on its own desalination plant in 2010. Another plant is in the works at Camp Pendleton, just north of Carlsbad, in San Diego County.

Since January 2008, Orange County has been using a $487 million groundwater-replenishment plant to recycle 70 million gallons of water each day. The city of Los Angeles is flirting with a plan to do the same.  Even at a time when budgets are strained, authorities are willing to push ahead on costly projects. The Camp Pendleton plant is expected to cost between $1.7 billion and $1.9 billion; the Carlsbad plant will cost less because it is using a pre-existing power plant.

Half of the water in Southern California is imported from two sources: the State Water Project, which draws from the Sacramento River Delta in Northern California, and the Colorado River, which runs along the state's southeast border. Local authorities need to cobble together the rest from groundwater, recycled or surface water, and imports from elsewhere in the state.  But exports from the Colorado River were cut by half -- to nearly 180 billion gallons -- in 2003 because of drought. The levels have risen since then, but now come with a 20% higher price tag. Pumping from the State Water Project has been cut by 40% from 2006 levels.  Scientists and water authorities are pushing for more water recycling, conservation and water-use restrictions, as well as cleaning up the groundwater supply.  But increasingly they are also considering desalination.

"We don't encourage people to put in a desalination plant unless they need one -- unless they don't have any other options," said Lisa Henthorne, president of the International Desalination Association.

Officials in Carlsbad began discussing desalination in 1998 and planned to open the plant this year. But opposition was fierce.  The Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper -- two local environmental groups -- argue the plant would be disastrous for marine life, "killing everything that floats" near the plant's intake, said Surfrider's Joe Geever.

The permitting process continued for six years, and included 14 public hearings that ran a total of 170 hours and included five revisions to the plan.  Throughout the process, Scott Maloni, vice president for Poseidon Resources, which is developing the Carlsbad and Huntington Beach desalination plants, said he kept an eye on the situation. "No doubt that the drought played a role in the approval," he said.

"Hopefully Poseidon will be extremely successful," said Mr. Lewis, the Carlsbad mayor. "If they are, we'll see lots of these kinds of plants popping up all along the coast. If they're not, it's going to be a long road."

Write to Sabrina Shankman at Sabrina.Shankman@wsj.com

23376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Evolutionary biology/psychology on: July 09, 2009, 09:15:23 AM
Wouldn't birth control have a lot to do with it?

Also, are current behaviors shown to be evolutionarily successful?  Intuitively it seems to me that there is a correlation between them and birth rates of less than population maitainance.
23377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Public Option Two-step on: July 09, 2009, 09:10:09 AM


Americans unschooled in liberal health-care politics may have trouble deciphering the White House's conflicting proclamations this week about a new government insurance program for the middle class. Allow us to translate: President Obama loves this so-called public option, but he needs to sell it in a shroud of euphemism and the appearance of "compromise."

On Monday, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told the Journal's Laura Meckler that the Administration would accept a health bill without a public option, as long as there is "a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest . . . The goal is non-negotiable; the path is." Progressives went bonkers, so on Tuesday Mr. Obama took a break from his Moscow trip to come out strongly in favor (again) of the new trillion-dollar entitlement. Meanwhile, New York's Chuck Schumer has been loudly suggesting that compromise is unnecessary given 60 Senate Democrats -- even as the likes of Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman and Mary Landrieu back away.

The reason left-flank Democrats are so adamant about a public option is because they know it is an opening wedge for the government to dominate U.S. health care. That's also why the health-care industry, business groups, some moderates and most Republicans are opposed. Team Obama likes the policies of the first group but wants the political support of the second. And they're trying to solve this Newtonian problem -- irresistible forces, immovable objects -- by becoming less and less candid about the changes they really favor.

Mr. Emanuel echoes his boss and says a government health plan is needed to keep the private sector "honest," but then why don't we also need a state-run oil company, or nationalized grocery store chain? (Or auto maker? Never mind.) The real goal is to create a program backstopped by taxpayers that can exert political leverage over the market.

In its strongest version, the federal plan would receive direct cash subsidies, allowing it to undercut private insurers on consumer prices. This would quickly lead to "crowd out," the tendency of supposedly "free" public programs to displace private insurance. As a general rule, Congress has to spend $2 of taxpayer money to provide $1 in new benefits. More precise academic studies of expansions in Medicaid and the children's insurance program put the crowd-out effect somewhere between 25% and 60%.

Because this is so expensive, the public version Mr. Schumer favors would supposedly receive no special advantages. But this is meaningless when Democrats are planning to mandate the benefits that private insurers must provide, the patients they must accept, and how much they can charge. Oh, and a government plan would still have an implicit taxpayer guarantee a la Fannie Mae, giving it an inherent cost-of-capital advantage.

A few swing votes such as Maine's Olympia Snowe might accept a "trigger," in which a government-run plan would only come on line if certain targets aren't met, such as reducing costs. But that only delays the day of reckoning. Another pseudocompromise is North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad's idea to give the states seed money to set up health insurance co-ops. These plans would still be run under a federal charter and managed by a federal board, so they merely split the public option into 50 pieces.

The other goal of a new public plan is to force doctors and hospitals to accept below-cost fees. This is how Medicare tries to control costs today, but it's like squeezing a balloon: Lower reimbursements mean that providers -- especially hospitals -- must recoup their costs elsewhere, either by shifting costs onto private payers or with more billable tests and procedures. The only way costs can conceivably be managed via price controls is if government is running the whole show, which naturally leads to severe restrictions on care while medical innovation withers.

A rhetorical gong Mr. Obama has been banging a lot lately is the idea that the people pointing all this out are liars. "When you hear the naysayers claim that I'm trying to bring about government-run health care," he said in one speech, "know this: They're not telling the truth." He adds that opposition to a public option isn't "based on any evidence" and that it is "illegitimate" to argue that his program is "is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system."

So much for changing the political tone. Perhaps the President should check in with his more honest liberal allies. Jacob Hacker, now a professor of political science at Berkeley, came up with the intellectual architecture for the public option when he was a graduate student in the 1990s. "Someone once said to me, 'This is a Trojan horse for single payer,' and I said, 'Well, it's not a Trojan horse, right? It's just right there,'" Mr. Hacker explained in a speech last year. "I'm telling you, we're going to get there, over time, slowly."

The real question the political class is debating now is how slowly, or quickly, it takes to get there. And how they're best able to disguise this goal -- ideally as a "compromise."
23378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove: BO cannot be trusted with numbers on: July 09, 2009, 09:00:32 AM
KARL ROVE
In February, President Barack Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus bill while making lavish promises about the results. He pledged that "a new wave of innovation, activity and construction will be unleashed all across America." He also said the stimulus would "save or create up to four million jobs." Vice President Joe Biden said the massive federal spending plan would "drop-kick" the economy out of the recession.

But the unemployment rate today is 9.5% -- nearly 20% higher than the Obama White House said it would be with the stimulus in place. Keith Hennessey, who worked at the Bush White House on economic policy, has noted that unemployment is now higher than the administration said it would be if nothing was done to revive the economy. There are 2.6 million fewer Americans working than Mr. Obama promised.

The economy takes unexpected turns on every president. But what is striking about this president is how quickly he turns away from his promises. He rushed the stimulus through Congress saying we couldn't afford to wait. Now his administration is waiting to spend the money. Of the $279 billion allocated to federal agencies, only $56 billion has been paid out.

Mr. Biden has admitted that the administration "misread" the economy. But he explained that away on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday by saying the administration had used "the consensus figures and most of the blue chip indexes out there" to draw up its stimulus plan. That's not true.

The Blue Chip consensus is an average of some four dozen economic forecasts. In January, the consensus estimated that GDP for 2009 would shrink by 1.6% and that unemployment would top out at 8.3%. Team Obama assumed both higher GDP growth (it counted on a contraction of 1.2%) and lower peak unemployment (8.1%) than the consensus.

Instead of relying on the Blue Chip consensus, Mr. Obama outsourced writing the stimulus to House appropriators who stuffed it with every bad spending idea they weren't previously able to push through Congress. Little of it aimed to quickly revive the economy. More stimulus money will be spent in fiscal years 2011 through 2019 than will be spent this fiscal year, which ends in September.

On Sunday, Mr. Biden, backpedaling from his drop-kick comments, said that "no one anticipated, no one expected that the recovery package would in fact be in a position at this point of having to distribute the bulk of the money."

This fits a pattern. The administration consistently pledges unrealistic results that it later distances itself from. It has gotten away with it because the media haven't asked many pointed questions. That may not last as the debate shifts to health care.

The Obama administration wants a government takeover of health care. To get it, it is promising to wring massive savings out of the health-care industry. And it has already started to make cost-savings promises.

For example, the administration strong-armed health-care providers into promising $2 trillion in health savings. It got pharmaceutical companies to promise to lower drug prices for seniors by $80 billion over 10 years. The administration also trotted out hospital executives to say that they would voluntarily save the government $150 billion over 10 years.

None of this comes near to being true. On the promised $2 trillion, everyone admits that the number isn't built on anything specific -- it's an aspirational goal. On drug prices, a White House spokesman admitted that "These savings have not been identified at the moment." It is speculative that these cuts will actually be made, when they would begin, or whether they would reduce government health-care spending.

None of this will stop the administration from arguing that its "savings" will pay for Mr. Obama's $1.5 trillion health-care plans. By the time the real price tag emerges, it will be too late to do much more than raise taxes and curtail spending on urgent priorities, such as the military.

The stimulus package is a clear example of how Mr. Obama operates. He is attempting to employ the same tactics of bait-and-switch when it comes to health care, only on a much larger scale.

Mr. Obama has already created a river of red ink. His health-care plans will only force that river over its banks. We are at the cusp of a crucial political debate, and Mr. Obama's words on fiscal matters are untrustworthy. His promised savings are a mirage. His proposals to reshape the economy are alarming. And his unwillingness to be forthright with his numbers reveals that he knows his plans would terrify many Americans.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
23379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / George Mason; Federalist 62 on: July 09, 2009, 08:33:14 AM
Freki-- ain't that the truth!
===============

"Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens."

--George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1788
----------------
"Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens." --Federalist No. 62
23380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grim assessment on: July 09, 2009, 03:01:06 AM


http://www.michaelyon-online.com/girl-with-no-future.htm
23381  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: July 08, 2009, 11:47:48 PM
Ron and I hope to have our final edit on Friday.
23382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The IDF, Intl law, Gaza on: July 08, 2009, 09:08:21 PM
Wednesday, July 8, 2009 International Law and Military Operations in Practice
Col. Richard Kemp -
[Watch the Video]
http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/s...&FID=765&PID=0
[Read the Full Transcript]
http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/S...ns_in_Practice

Former commander of British forces in Afghanistan Col. Richard Kemp told a
conference in Jerusalem on June 18, 2009:

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

The battlefield - in any kind of war - is a place of confusion and chaos, of
fast-moving action. In the type of conflict that the Israeli Defense Forces
recently fought in Gaza and in Lebanon, and Britain and America are still
fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, these age-old confusions and complexities
are made one hundred times worse by the fighting policies and techniques of
the enemy.

Islamist fighting groups study the international laws of armed conflict
carefully and they understand it well. They know that a British or Israeli
commander and his men are bound by international law and the rules of
engagement that flow from it. They then do their utmost to exploit what they
view as one of their enemy's main weaknesses. Their very modus operandi is
built on the correct assumption that Western armies will normally abide by
the rules, while these insurgents employ a deliberate policy of operating
consistently outside international law.

Civilians and their property are routinely exploited by these groups, in
deliberate and flagrant violation of international laws or reasonable norms
of civilized behavior. Protected buildings, mosques, schools, and hospitals
are used as strongholds. Legal and proportional responses by a Western army
will be deliberately exploited and manipulated in order to produce
international outcry and condemnation.

Hamas' military capability was deliberately positioned behind the human
shield of the civilian population. They also ordered, forced when necessary,
men, women and children from their own population to stay put in places they
knew were about to be attacked by the IDF. Israel was fighting an enemy that
is deliberately trying to sacrifice their own people, deliberately trying to
lure you into killing their own innocent civilians.

And Hamas, like Hizbullah, is also highly expert at driving the media
agenda. They will always have people ready to give interviews condemning
Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting
incidents.

When possible the IDF gave at least four hours' notice to civilians to leave
areas targeted for attack. The IDF dropped over 900,000 leaflets warning the
population of impending attacks to allow them to leave designated areas. The
IDF phoned over 30,000 Palestinian households in Gaza, urging them in Arabic
to leave homes where Hamas might have stashed weapons or be preparing to
fight.

Many attack helicopter missions that could have taken out Hamas military
capability were cancelled if there was too great a risk of civilian
casualties in the area. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of
humanitarian aid into Gaza, even though delivering aid virtually into your
enemy's hands is to the military tactician normally quite unthinkable.
By taking these actions the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of
civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.
23383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat:Air Bridge to Afg over Russia on: July 08, 2009, 03:41:53 PM
U.S.-Russian Summit: Building an Air Bridge to Afghanistan
Stratfor Today » July 7, 2009 | 1955 GMT
Summary
A formal agreement was signed July 6 in Moscow that will allow U.S. military transport flights to take a more direct route over Russian airspace to supply the U.S.-NATO war effort in Afghanistan. While it will shorten the supply line, however, the Russian concession will not widen it. Next will come negotiations over a potential Russian land route, which will entail even more political leverage from Moscow.

Analysis
Related Special Topic Page
Special Summit Coverage
Related Links
Afghanistan, Pakistan: The Battlespace of the Border
Afghanistan: The Search for Safer Supply Routes
Pakistan: Trouble Along Another U.S.-NATO Supply Route
Pakistan: A Strike Against Supply Line Infrastructure
Special Report: U.S.-NATO, Facing the Reality of Risk in Pakistan (With STRATFOR Interactive map)
Afghanistan: The Russian Monkey Wrench
One tangible product of the U.S.-Russian summit is a deal signed July 6 that will permit some 4,500 flights per year by U.S. military aircraft through Russian airspace to supply the campaign in Afghanistan. Significantly, the deal includes flights transporting troops as well as military equipment and supplies (an existing agreement to use Turkmen airspace allows the transport of only non-lethal supplies such as food and spare parts, a common restriction).

The Russian agreement, signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns, takes effect 60 days from the signing, will last for one year and can be renewed. Overflight fees will not be charged for the flights, which must not stop on Russian territory.

This is no small step for U.S. logistical efforts. Flights from the continental United States, roughly 12 per day, will now be able to fly over the North Pole and reach Afghanistan more quickly than flights going through Turkmen airspace. The Russian route shaves several thousand miles off the air bridge, and annual savings will amount to approximately $133 million. A more direct route is especially valuable as the United States moves more troops into Afghanistan. The total U.S. force in country is expected to double by the end of the year compared to 2008 levels, to some 68,000 troops.

But the U.S. air bridge to Afghanistan, whether it traverses Russian airspace or more circuitous routes, will not be able to accommodate much more traffic. The surge is straining already packed supply lines, not to mention the very vulnerable land routes through Pakistan. Most “lethal” military equipment and supplies (weapons, ammunition, etc.) and virtually all sensitive equipment must be flown in. And limited land routes will be even more strained when a new version of the “mine-resistant, ambush-protected” (MRAP) vehicle used in Iraq and now being modified with an all-terrain chassis is shipped to Afghanistan by sea and land (as it must be, though the first units may be delivered by air).

In other words, the Russian air-bridge concession will lessen the complications of supplying the Afghanistan campaign but it will not actually allow any additional volume, particularly as the surge progresses. Bulk fuel and food, for example, are simply consumed too fast on a daily basis to be supplied by air. Bringing in all of the various forms of fuel needed in Afghanistan on transport aircraft would require literally dozens of daily flights — so many that the major airfields in Afghanistan would likely lack the tarmac space necessary to receive and unload the shipments. As far as other consumables are concerned, some 90 container trucks carrying supplies for the campaign in Afghanistan currently cross the Afghan-Pakistani border each day.

The Kremlin has already agreed to allow the United States land access as well, but the details have yet to be worked out, and negotiations will take weeks, if not months, since routes would have to wind their way through long stretches of Central Asian as well as Russian territory.

Indeed, the land deal with Russia is the key, something the Kremlin knows all too well. As with the long-contentious (and resolved-for-now) issue of Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, Moscow can continue to manipulate negotiations by tugging on American vulnerabilities. Land route negotiations, in particular, could turn into a messy process that Moscow could politicize, making Russia even more of a key player in the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.
23384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will: Tincture of Lawlessness on: July 08, 2009, 02:46:52 PM
Tincture of Lawlessness
Obama's Overreaching Economic Policies

By George F. Will
Thursday, May 14, 2009



Anyone, said T.S. Eliot, could carve a goose, were it not for the bones. And anyone could govern as boldly as his whims decreed, were it not for the skeletal structure that keeps civil society civil -- the rule of law. The Obama administration is bold. It also is careless regarding constitutional values and is acquiring a tincture of lawlessness.

In February, California's Democratic-controlled Legislature, faced with a $42 billion budget deficit, trimmed $74 million (1.4 percent) from one of the state's fastest-growing programs, which provides care for low-income and incapacitated elderly people and which cost the state $5.42 billion last year. The Los Angeles Times reports that "loose oversight and bureaucratic inertia have allowed fraud to fester."

But the Service Employees International Union collects nearly $5 million a month from 223,000 caregivers who are members. And the Obama administration has told California that unless the $74 million in cuts are rescinded, it will deny the state $6.8 billion in stimulus money.

Such a federal ukase (the word derives from czarist Russia; how appropriate) to a state legislature is a sign of the administration's dependency agenda -- maximizing the number of people and institutions dependent on the federal government. For the first time, neither sales nor property nor income taxes are the largest source of money for state and local governments. The federal government is.

The SEIU says the cuts violate contracts negotiated with counties. California officials say the state required the contracts to contain clauses allowing pay to be reduced if state funding is.

Anyway, the Obama administration, judging by its cavalier disregard of contracts between Chrysler and some of the lenders it sought money from, thinks contracts are written on water. The administration proposes that Chrysler's secured creditors get 28 cents per dollar on the $7 billion owed to them but that the United Auto Workers union get 43 cents per dollar on its $11 billion in claims -- and 55 percent of the company. This, even though the secured creditors' contracts supposedly guaranteed them better standing than the union.

Among Chrysler's lenders, some servile banks that are now dependent on the administration for capital infusions tugged their forelocks and agreed. Some hedge funds among Chrysler's lenders that are not dependent were vilified by the president because they dared to resist his demand that they violate their fiduciary duties to their investors, who include individuals and institutional pension funds.

The Economist says the administration has "ridden roughshod over [creditors'] legitimate claims over the [automobile companies'] assets. . . . Bankruptcies involve dividing a shrunken pie. But not all claims are equal: some lenders provide cheaper funds to firms in return for a more secure claim over the assets should things go wrong. They rank above other stakeholders, including shareholders and employees. This principle is now being trashed." Tom Lauria, a lawyer representing hedge fund people trashed by the president as the cause of Chrysler's bankruptcy, asked that his clients' names not be published for fear of violence threatened in e-mails to them.

The Troubled Assets Relief Program, which has not yet been used for its supposed purpose (to purchase such assets from banks), has been the instrument of the administration's adventure in the automobile industry. TARP's $700 billion, like much of the supposed "stimulus" money, is a slush fund the executive branch can use as it pleases. This is as lawless as it would be for Congress to say to the IRS: We need $3.5 trillion to run the government next year, so raise it however you wish -- from whomever, at whatever rates you think suitable. Don't bother us with details.

This is not gross, unambiguous lawlessness of the Nixonian sort -- burglaries, abuse of the IRS and FBI, etc. -- but it is uncomfortably close to an abuse of power that perhaps gave Nixon ideas: When in 1962 the steel industry raised prices, President John F. Kennedy had a tantrum and his administration leaked rumors that the IRS would conduct audits of steel executives, and sent FBI agents on predawn visits to the homes of journalists who covered the steel industry, ostensibly to further a legitimate investigation.

The Obama administration's agenda of maximizing dependency involves political favoritism cloaked in the raiment of "economic planning" and "social justice" that somehow produce results superior to what markets produce when freedom allows merit to manifest itself, and incompetence to fail. The administration's central activity -- the political allocation of wealth and opportunity -- is not merely susceptible to corruption, it is corruption.

georgewill@washpost.com
23385  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: July 08, 2009, 02:40:07 PM
Grateful for apparently successful dental surgery (laying foundation for two missing teeth).
23386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Weekend cyber attacks bigger than intially admittted on: July 08, 2009, 02:37:24 PM
White House among targets of sweeping cyber attack - Yahoo! News

AP – An employee of Korea Internet Security Center works at a monitoring room in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, …
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 1 min ago

WASHINGTON – The powerful attack that overwhelmed computers at U.S. and South Korean government agencies for days was even broader than initially realized, also targeting the White House, the Pentagon and the New York Stock Exchange.  Other targets of the attack included the National Security Agency, Homeland Security Department, State Department, the Nasdaq stock market and The Washington Post, according to an early analysis of the malicious software used in the attacks. Many of the organizations appeared to successfully blunt the sustained computer assaults.

The Associated Press obtained the target list from security experts analyzing the attacks. It was not immediately clear who might be responsible or what their motives were. South Korean intelligence officials believe the attacks were carried out by North Korea or pro-Pyongyang forces.

The attack was remarkably successful in limiting public access to victim Web sites, but internal e-mail systems are typically unaffected in such attacks. Some government Web sites — such as the Treasury Department, Federal Trade Commission and Secret Service — were still reporting problems days after the attack started during the July 4 holiday. South Korean Internet sites began experiencing problems Tuesday.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service, the nation's principal spy agency, told a group of South Korean lawmakers Wednesday it believes that North Korea or North Korean sympathizers in the South were behind the attacks, according to an aide to one of the lawmakers briefed on the information.

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the information. The National Intelligence Service — South Korea's main spy agency — said it couldn't immediately confirm the report, but it said it was cooperating with American authorities.
The attacks will be difficult to trace, said Professor Peter Sommer, an expert on cyberterrorism at the London School of Economics. "Even if you are right about the fact of being attacked, initial diagnoses are often wrong," he said Wednesday.
Amy Kudwa, spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department, said the agency's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team issued a notice to federal departments and other partner organizations about the problems and "advised them of steps to take to help mitigate against such attacks."

New York Stock Exchange spokesman Ray Pellecchia could not confirm the attack, saying the company does not comment on security issues.

Attacks on federal computer networks are common, ranging from nuisance hacking to more serious assaults, sometimes blamed on China. U.S. security officials also worry about cyber attacks from al-Qaida or other terrorists.

This time, two government officials acknowledged that the Treasury and Secret Service sites were brought down, and said the agencies were working with their Internet service provider to resolve the problem. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

Ben Rushlo, director of Internet technologies at Keynote Systems, said problems with the Transportation Department site began Saturday and continued until Monday, while the FTC site was down Sunday and Monday.

Keynote Systems is a mobile and Web site monitoring company based in San Mateo, Calif. The company publishes data detailing outages on Web sites, including 40 government sites it watches. 

According to Rushlo, the Transportation Web site was "100 percent down" for two days, so that no Internet users could get through to it. The FTC site, meanwhile, started to come back online late Sunday, but even on Tuesday Internet users still were unable to get to the site 70 percent of the time.

Web sites of major South Korean government agencies, including the presidential Blue House and the Defense Ministry, and some banking sites were paralyzed Tuesday. An initial investigation found that many personal computers were infected with a virus ordering them to visit major official Web sites in South Korea and the U.S. at the same time, Korea Information Security Agency official Shin Hwa-su said.
___
Associated Press writers Hyung-Jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea; Andrew Vanacore in New York; and Pan Pylas in London contributed to this report.
23387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Latin America on: July 08, 2009, 10:28:25 AM
"North Korea launches a missile and it takes Barack Obama and the UN five days to respond. Iran holds fraudulent elections, kills protesters and it takes weeks before Barack Obama can stand up and say that he is 'concerned' about the situation. Then the people of Honduras try to uphold their constitution and laws of the land from being trampled by a Chavez-wanna be and it takes Barack Obama one day to proclaim that this was not a legal coup." --radio talk-show host Neal Boortz

"There was an attempted coup in Honduras, but it was Zelaya who initiated it, not his opponents." --columnist Mona Charen

"If Honduras is hung out to dry, if America suspends trade and economic aid, the forces arrayed against liberty in Latin America will have won a major victory. On the other hand, if Honduras is not abandoned now, those Iran-supporting, America-hating, liberty-loathing forces will have suffered a major defeat." --columnist Dennis Prager
23388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: White House open to deal on public option? on: July 08, 2009, 10:10:51 AM
By LAURA MECKLER and JANET ADAMY
WASHINGTON -- It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said.

"The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest," he said in an interview. "The goal is non-negotiable; the path is" negotiable.

President Barack Obama has campaigned vigorously for a full public option. But he's also said that he won't draw a "line in the sand" over this point. On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement reiterating his support for a public plan.

"I am pleased by the progress we're making on health care reform and still believe, as I've said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest," the president said in the statement. "I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals."

The jockeying over the public plan came as the Senate Finance Committee pushed for a bipartisan deal. To help pay for the package, the committee planned to announce an agreement Wednesday with hospitals and the White House for $155 billion over a decade in reductions to Medicare and charity-care payments for hospitals, according to a person familiar with the agreement. That will help pay for the legislation, expected to cost at least $1 trillion over 10 years.

One of the most contentious issues is whether to create a public health-insurance plan to compete with private companies.

Mr. Emanuel said one of several ways to meet Mr. Obama's goals is a mechanism under which a public plan is introduced only if the marketplace fails to provide sufficient competition on its own. He noted that congressional Republicans crafted a similar trigger mechanism when they created a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare in 2003. In that case, private competition has been judged sufficient and the public option has never gone into effect.

The deal with the hospitals follows a similar agreement with brand-name drug companies. And insurance companies were talking to Senate negotiators about cuts worth at least $100 billion over 10 years, according to two officials with knowledge of the negotiations.

Congressional negotiators and the White House hope to lock in support from the industry groups, which are backing a health bill in general terms but have opposed past efforts.

Hospitals and insurers hope to gain some degree of control over cuts to their federal payments. In principle, a health-care overhaul could benefit both groups by raising the number of Americans who buy and have health insurance.

"They've made an assessment reform is going to happen, so it's better to be part of that than not," Mr. Emanuel said.

However, insurers, and most Republicans, strongly oppose creation of a government-run insurance option, saying it would ultimately drive them out of business. Most Democrats support a public option.

The president and his aides already have signaled a willingness to consider an alternative to a public plan under which a network of nonprofit cooperatives would compete with for-profit insurance companies. That is the leading idea in the Senate Finance Committee.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, meanwhile, has put forward its own version of a government-run plan, closer to what most liberals and the White House favor.

On Monday, Mr. Emanuel said the trigger mechanism would also accomplish the White House's goals. Under this scenario, a public plan would kick in under certain circumstances when competition was judged to be lacking. Exactly what circumstances would trigger the option would have to be worked out.

Some Democrats pushing for a vigorous public plan say the trigger idea isn't good enough. Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) said in an interview, "If it's not there on day one, those of us who support a public option have a real problem with it."
23389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Bring an apple instead on: July 08, 2009, 10:04:54 AM
By ALEX ROTH and ANSLEY HAMAN
Gun-rights advocates have won victories in several states in recent months allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons in public parks, taverns and their work places.

So it came as a surprise to Tennessee state Rep. Stacey Campfield that he couldn't persuade his colleagues to pass a law allowing students at public colleges to carry concealed firearms on campus. The bill died this spring in the Republican-controlled legislature -- one of 34 straight defeats nationwide for people who believe a gun wouldn't be out of place in a college student's knapsack.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
The shooting at Virginia Tech, where students observed its April 15 anniversary, mobilized supporters and opponents of campus-carry laws.
Raucous debates over the parameters of the Second Amendment have become a staple of the culture wars. But even on an issue as divisive as gun control, states may be nearing something resembling a national consensus: Guns don't belong in a college classroom.

In the two years since a Virginia Tech student shot and killed 32 students and professors, gun-rights advocates have failed to pass laws even in states strongly supportive of gun owners' rights, including Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Mississippi and Kentucky. In June, a bill died in the Texas legislature in the face of criticism from college administrators and student groups, who invoked the specter of students toting loaded weapons to booze-soaked campus parties.

Gun-control advocates tout what they label an unprecedented winning streak, noting that it comes at a time when even many Democrats are wary of alienating U.S. gun owners.

Proponents of the bills are pressing on, arguing that passing such laws could help prevent the next Virginia Tech-style massacre. Mr. Campfield said he intends to reintroduce his bill in the next Tennessee legislative session. His state, which had 6.21 million residents in 2008, has approved the sale of more than 2.6 million firearms and issued more than 231,000 handgun carry permits, according to state records. The bill is "coming back stronger next year," Mr. Campfield said.

Some gun-rights advocates predict Texas will eventually provide their first victory, saying the legislature had the votes to pass the bill but simply ran out of time. "If Texas were to pass it, we predict that it would catch on in other states," said Katie Kasprzak, director of public relations for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

Only Utah expressly allows students at public universities to carry guns to class. The state passed such a law in 2004, before the Virginia Tech killings. Several states leave the decision up to schools. But only two schools in those states -- Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia and Colorado State University -- allow students to carry guns to class.

The push for legislation began in the immediate aftermath of the Virginia Tech killings. Ken Stanton, an engineering student there, helped found the first local chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, arguing it would allow students to defend themselves and prevent massacres from taking place. Within a year of the shooting, bills to expand the firearms-carrying rights of college students had been introduced in more than a dozen states.

But if the Virginia Tech shootings helped mobilize supporters of guns on campus, it also helped mobilize opponents. And some of the most vocal have been either victims of the shootings or people who lost loved ones.

Colin Goddard, a 21-year-old junior at the time, was shot four times in a classroom where his teacher and 11 fellow students were killed. Not long afterward, Mr. Goddard began speaking out against guns on campus, and he is now an intern at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington.

Like other critics of these proposed bills, including many police departments, Mr. Goddard argues that a proliferation of firearms would simply add to the chaos during a shooting spree, making it impossible for police to distinguish between good guys and bad. He also says events unfolded at such a lighting pace during the shootings that even an armed student would have been powerless to prevent them.

"There were students dead in their chairs -- it happened that quick," he said. "I was shot before I really even knew what was going on."

Another former Virginia Tech student, John Woods, whose girlfriend was killed in the shootings, helped lead the fight this spring against the bill in Texas, where he is now a graduate student at the University of Texas.

In some states, legislators with strong gun-rights voting records have found themselves opposing these bills. This spring, Louisiana state Rep. Hollis Downs was one of 86 members of the Louisiana House to vote against allowing students with concealed-weapons permits to bring their guns onto the state's public campuses. The bill was defeated 86-18.

"I thought that the last thing that law enforcement needed was the fraternity militia to charge the building [in a shooting] with all guns blazing," said Mr. Downs, a Republican whose district includes Louisiana Tech University.
23390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / S. Adams on: July 08, 2009, 09:37:47 AM
"If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honour of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation."

--Samuel Adams, letter to Elbridge Gerry, November 27, 1780
23391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Foreign troops to be in US DHS terrorism prevention exercise on: July 08, 2009, 02:48:28 AM
http://www.fema.gov/media/fact_sheets/nle09.shtm

Print Preview
National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09)

National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09) is scheduled for July 27 through July 31, 2009. NLE 09 will be the first major exercise conducted by the United States government that will focus exclusively on terrorism prevention and protection, as opposed to incident response and recovery.

NLE 09 is designated as a Tier I National Level Exercise. Tier I exercises (formerly known as the Top Officials exercise series or TOPOFF) are conducted annually in accordance with the National Exercise Program (NEP), which serves as the nation's overarching exercise program for planning, organizing, conducting and evaluating national level exercises. The NEP was established to provide the U.S. government, at all levels, exercise opportunities to prepare for catastrophic crises ranging from terrorism to natural disasters.

NLE 09 is a White House directed, Congressionally- mandated exercise that includes the participation of all appropriate federal department and agency senior officials, their deputies, staff and key operational elements. In addition, broad regional participation of state, tribal, local, and private sector is anticipated. This year the United States welcomes the participation of Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom in NLE 09.

EXERCISE FOCUS

NLE 09 will focus on intelligence and information sharing among intelligence and law enforcement communities, and between international, federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector participants.

The NLE 09 scenario will begin in the aftermath of a notional terrorist event outside of the United States, and exercise play will center on preventing subsequent efforts by the terrorists to enter the United States and carry out additional attacks. This scenario enables participating senior officials to focus on issues related to preventing terrorist events domestically and protecting U.S. critical infrastructure.

NLE 09 will allow terrorism prevention efforts to proceed to a logical end (successful or not), with no requirement for response or recovery activities.

NLE 09 will be an operations-based exercise to include: activities taking place at command posts, emergency operation centers, intelligence centers and potential field locations to include federal headquarters facilities in the Washington D.C. area, and in federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector facilities in FEMA Region VI, which includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

EXERCISE OBJECTIVES

Through a comprehensive evaluation process, the exercise will assess prevention and protection capabilities both nationally and regionally. Although NLE 09 is still in the planning stages, the exercise is currently designed to validate the following capabilities:

*
Intelligence/Information Sharing and Dissemination
*
Counter-Terrorism Investigation and Law Enforcement
*
Air, Border and Maritime Security
*
Critical Infrastructure Protection
*
Public and Private Sector Alert/Notification and Security Advisories
*
International Coordination

VALIDATING THE HOMELAND SECURITY SYSTEM

Exercises such as NLE 09 are an important component of national preparedness, helping to build an integrated federal, state, tribal, local and private sector capability to prevent terrorist attacks, and rapidly and effectively respond to, and recover from, any terrorist attack or major disaster that occurs.

The full-scale exercise offers agencies and jurisdictions a way to test their plans and skills in a real-time, realistic environment and to gain the in-depth knowledge that only experience can provide. Participants will exercise prevention and information sharing functions that are critical to preventing terrorist attacks. Lessons learned from the exercise will provide valuable insights to guide future planning for securing the nation against terrorist attacks, disasters, and other emergencies.

For more information about NLE 09, contact the FEMA News Desk: 202-646-4600.

FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other man-made disasters.
23392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jobs? What jobs? on: July 07, 2009, 07:44:33 PM
second post
=============
Democrats Admit That Their Cap and Trade Bill Is a Job Killer
 
By Peter Roff

In her remarks bringing the debate over the climate bill to a close, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California urged her colleagues to vote in favor of the cap and trade bill, saying the measure was about four things: "jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs."

She was right—the House-passed version of cap and trade is all about jobs: jobs lost, jobs never created, jobs sent overseas, and, unbelievably, jobs people will be paid for doing long after they cease to exist.

According to Friday's Washington Times, the legislation includes language that provides, should it become law, that people who lose their jobs because of it "could get a weekly paycheck for up to three years, subsidies to find new work and other generous benefits—courtesy of Uncle Sam."

How generous are these benefits? Well, according to the Times, "Adversely affected employees in oil, coal and other fossil-fuel sector jobs would qualify for a weekly check worth 70 percent of their current salary for up to three years. In addition, they would get $1,500 for job-search assistance and $1,500 for moving expenses from the bill's 'climate change worker adjustment assistance' program, which is expected to cost $4.2 billion from 2011 to 2019."

Instead of being a the source of millions of new jobs of "green jobs"—as House Democrats are fond of saying over and over again—the provision is a hidden admission that their effort is a job killer, not just a massive new tax on energy.

Building a safety net into the legislation is probably the responsible thing to do. The government is going to be directly responsible for the destruction of millions of jobs if the bill passed by the House becomes law—anywhere from a net loss of .5 percent of total jobs over the first 10 years, according to the liberal Brookings Institution, to 3 million by the year 2030, according to the industry-backed Coalition for Affordable American Energy. But wouldn't it be better to leave the jobs alone in the first place? It would certainly be cheaper.


23393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cyberwar vs. Iranian nukes on: July 07, 2009, 07:28:48 PM
Last update - 18:06 07/07/2009     
Israel turns to cyberware to foil Iran nukes 
By Reuters 
Tags: Cyberwar, Israel News, Iran   
 

In the late 1990s, a computer specialist from the Shin Bet security service hacked into the mainframe of the Pi Glilot fuel depot north of Tel Aviv. It was meant to be a routine test of safeguards at the strategic site. But it also tipped off Israel to the potential such hi-tech infiltrations offered for real sabotage.

"Once inside the Pi Glilot system, we suddenly realized that, aside from accessing secret data, we could also set off deliberate explosions, just by programming a re-route of the pipelines," said a veteran of the Shin Bet drill.
 Advertisement
 
So began a cyberwarfare project which, a decade on, is seen by independent experts as the likely new vanguard of Israel's efforts to foil Iran's nuclear ambitions. The appeal of cyber attacks was boosted, Israeli sources say, by the limited feasibility of conventional air strikes on the distant and fortified Iranian atomic facilities, and by U.S. reluctance to countenance another open war in the Middle East.

"We came to the conclusion that, for our purposes, a key Iranian vulnerability is in its on-line information," said one recently retired security cabinet member, using a generic term for digital networks. "We have acted accordingly."

Cyberwarfare teams nestle deep within Israel's spy agencies, which have rich experience in traditional sabotage techniques and are cloaked in official secrecy and censorship. They can draw on the know-how of Israeli commercial firms that are among the world's hi-tech leaders and whose staff are often veterans of elite military intelligence computer units.

"To judge by my interaction with Israeli experts in various international forums, Israel can definitely be assumed to have advanced cyber-attack capabilities," said Scott Borg, director of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, which advises various Washington agencies on cyber security.

Technolytics Institute, an American consultancy, last year rated Israel the sixth-biggest "cyber warfare threat", after China, Russia, Iran, France and extremist/terrorist groups".

The United States is in the process of setting up a "Cyber Command" to oversee Pentagon operations, though officials have described its mandate as protective, rather than offensive.  Asked to speculate about how Israel might target Iran, Borg said malware - a commonly used abbreviation for "malicious software" - could be inserted to corrupt, commandeer or crash the controls of sensitive sites like uranium enrichment plants. Such attacks could be immediate, he said. Or they might be latent, with the malware loitering unseen and awaiting an external trigger, or pre-set to strike automatically when the infected facility reaches a more critical level of activity.

As Iran's nuclear assets would probably be isolated from outside computers, hackers would be unable to access them directly, Borg said. Israeli agents would have to conceal the malware in software used by the Iranians or discreetly plant it on portable hardware brought in, unknowingly, by technicians.

"A contaminated USB stick would be enough," Borg said.

Ali Ashtari, an Iranian businessman executed as an Israeli spy last year, was convicted of supplying tainted communications equipment for one of Iran's secret military projects.  Iranian media quoted a security official as saying that Ashtari's actions "led to the defeat of the project with irreversible damage." Israel declined all comment on the case.

"Cyberwar has the advantage of being clandestine and deniable," Borg said, noting Israel's considerations in the face of an Iranian nuclear program that Tehran insists is peaceful.

"But its effectiveness is hard to gauge, because the targeted network can often conceal the extent of damage or even fake the symptoms of damage. Military strikes, by contrast, have an instantly quantifiable physical effect."

Israel may be open to a more overt strain of cyberwarfare. Tony Skinner of Jane's Defence Weekly cited Israeli sources as saying that Israel's 2007 bombing of an alleged atomic reactor in Syria was preceded by a cyber attack which neutralized ground radars and anti-aircraft batteries.

"State of War," a 2006 book by New York Times reporter James Risen, recounted a short-lived plan by the CIA and the Mossad to fry the power lines of an Iranian nuclear facility using a smuggled electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) device. A massive, nation-wide EMP attack on Iran could be affected by detonating a nuclear device at atmospheric height. But while Israel is assumed to have the region's only atomic arms, most experts believe they would be used only in a war of last resort.

Related articles:

Shin Bet: Terrorists on Facebook trying to recruit Israeli spies

Israel recruits 'army of bloggers' to combat anti-Zionist Web sites

Is Israel's booming high-tech industry a branch of the Mossad?

Israel, Iran liable to clash in 2009 over nukes, says U.S. intel chief
 
 
 

PROMOTION: Mamilla Hotel
Get Haaretz news headlines delivered daily to your inbox!
23394  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Wood Pellets on: July 07, 2009, 09:44:20 AM
Some of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy in the world are the wind, the sun -- and the lowly wood pellet.

European utilities are snapping up the small combustible pellets to burn alongside coal in existing power plants. As a global marketplace emerges to feed their growing appetite for pellets, the Southeastern U.S. is becoming a major exporter, with pellet factories sprouting in Florida, Alabama and Arkansas.

 
(Discuss: What energy source is most important for meeting future U.S. needs? Wood pellets -- cylinders of dried shredded wood that resemble large vitamins -- are the least expensive way to meet European renewable-energy mandates, utility executives and industry consultants say.)

Made from fast-growing trees or sawdust, pellets are a pricier fuel than coal, but burning them is a less-expensive way to generate electricity than using windmills or solar panels. Burning pellets releases the carbon that the trees would emit anyway when they die and decompose, so the process is widely regarded as largely carbon neutral. In contrast, carbon is locked away in coal and is only released once the coal is dug out of the earth and burned.

The wood-pellet market is booming because the European Union has rules requiring member countries to generate 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Europe imported €66.2 million (about $92.6 million) of pellets and other wood-based fuels in the first three months of 2009, up 62% from the same period a year earlier, according to the EU's statistical arm.

 Government mandates are essential to the increasing use of pellets in power generation, and the growing global pellet trade, experts say.

"You are looking at a totally artificial market," said Christian Rakos, chief executive of Propellets, an Austria-based trade group of pellet producers. "No power plant would consider using pellets for one minute if they didn't have to do it."

Still, Europe's eagerness for more pellets has turned the U.S. into an energy exporter. Until recently, there were only about 40 pellet factories in the U.S., which produced about 900,000 tons a year, mostly for heating homes.

But in May 2008, Green Circle Bio Energy Inc. opened a pellet plant in Cottondale, Fla., that produces 500,000 tons of pellets a year; it ships them by rail to the coast and then on to Rotterdam, Netherlands. The company, owned by Swedish concern JCE Group AB, wants to build another big plant in the U.S., said Olaf Roed, chief executive of Green Circle.

Another 500,000-ton facility in Selma, Ala., owned by Dixie Pellet LLC, also opened last year. And Phoenix Renewable Energy LLC plans to break ground next month on a 250,000-ton-a-year pellet plant in Camden, Ark., along with a 20-megawatt power plant run off tree scraps that will feed heat to the pellet plant. The $100 million facility's output for five years has been contracted to go to Europe, and Phoenix is working on another five facilities.

Pellets can either be made out of sawdust left over from lumber production or from soft-wood trees such as pine. These aren't growing in wild forests, but in industrial plantations where they can be harvested easily and often.

Photo Journal

 
Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal
 
Green Circle employees race to repair one of the pellet mill's dies that give the pellets their compacted cylindrical shape at the plant in Cottondale, Fla., July 1.
At Green Circle's Florida facility, bark is stripped off the tree and burned to generate steam used in making the pellets. The tree itself is cut up in a wood chipper, dried and hammered into a powder, which is formed into pellets under very high pressure.

It is easy for these pellet plants to find raw material. The pulp and paper industry is declining, and the housing slump has sapped the need for hardwood. Forest owners are ecstatic that pellet plants are stepping in.

"We are irrationally exuberant," said Lee Laechelt, executive vice president of the Alabama Forest Owners Association.

Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Vietnam are also shipping pellets to Europe, as are Canada and South Africa, said Helmer Schukken, CEO of GF Energy BV, a Rotterdam-based trader.

Wood pellets are becoming the newest global commodity, with prices posted on an Amsterdam energy exchange, Mr. Schukken said. "It is becoming like trading coal."

That will make it easier for England's Drax Group PLC, which is installing equipment at its giant 4,000-megawatt coal-fired power plant in North Yorkshire to use pellets in place of coal for up to 10% of the fuel. Pellet makers say Drax is lining up contracts in the U.S. Other big buyers include Dutch power company Essent NV, which is being acquired by Germany's RWE AG, and French GDF Suez SA's Electrabel unit.

Of course, U.S. utilities may soon be as interested as their European counterparts in burning pellets instead of coal. California, which has a goal of producing 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, is looking at using wood products in coal plants.

If a federal renewable energy standard is approved, "we won't be shipping pellets overseas," said Phoenix Renewable Energy's development director, Steve Walker. "We'll be shipping them domestically."
23395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Cheering the deficit on: July 07, 2009, 09:21:36 AM
BY BRENT BOZELL
A calm Sunday breakfast might have been ruined after a glance at The Washington Post's front page on June 14. A chart below the fold explained that under Obama's federal spending proposals, the United States would be required to borrow $9 trillion during the next decade. That's $9,000,000,000,000. The Post compared that, in today's dollars, to the financial burden of World War II: $3.6 trillion. That's not all of Obama's spending plan. That's only the part that's in the red.

Is it any wonder that a recent Gallup poll found more people disapprove rather than approve of Obama's handling of the deficit? But we've only just begun. Now President Obama wants to add another enormous chunk of government health-care spending. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the latest Democratic bill in the Senate would add another one trillion dollars to the budget over the next decade, and they suggest that's only a partial estimate.

Remember when the Democrats and their media allies wailed about how the Iraq war wastefully drove up the national debt? The Post's chart estimated that the Iraq war costs from 2003-2008 totaled $551 billion, a pittance compared to the massive load of debt the Democrats want to pass right now. And they want to pass it at breakneck speed, so just like the "stimulus" bill, it will become law before the public learns its manifold outrages.

Sadly, this Washington Post article notwithstanding, the news media aren't questioning the new health "reform" drive. They are enabling it.

ABC News has announced plans to put Barack Obama in prime time again from the White House to push his health-nationalizing agenda for an hour – and then another half-hour on "Nightline." ABC will broadcast live from the White House for "World News" and "Good Morning America," interviewing both Barack and Michelle Obama.

It's bad enough that NBC News just gave Obama two hours of fluffy promotion in prime time (followed quickly by two hours of prime-time fluff reruns). Now, ABC isn't going to promote how Obama buys hamburgers for the staff and has a cute puppy. They're going to help him sell his hard-left "Prescription for America."

Forget participation. ABC isn't allowing time even for any official Republican rebuttal. Republicans will have to hope they find a spot or two in the audience ABC News selects with the promise of "divergent opinions in this historic debate." ABC also promises the participation of their medical correspondent Dr. Tim Johnson, who's been a blatant cheerleader for a European-style "right" to health care.

This isn't unprecedented. ABC handed over two hours of morning air time after Columbine for Bill and Hillary Clinton to lament our country's gun culture in 1999. In 1994, NBC News offered the Clintons a two-hour special to promote Hillary-care, paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a major supporter of socialized medicine. The Democrats always seem "overprivileged" when they want to sell their programs on network news.

Skepticism is warranted when ABC promises "divergent opinions," which probably means a debate between leftists, that people who want a single-payer socialist system will be granted the floor. If the past is prologue, if Charlie Gibson has any tough questions for Obama, he'll be asking him to explain why our ultraliberal president's too much of a conservative on health care. Gibson angered President Clinton during the 1999 Columbine special by insisting he wasn't enough of a gun-banner. He said a friend of Clinton's complained the Colorado high school shooting "seared the national conscience," and yet "the President had a chance to roar on gun control and he meowed."

More conservative White Houses have not been awarded a supportive network platform. Does anyone remember that ABC prime-time special that allowed President Bush to sell Social Security privatization in 2005? Or the two-hour 2006 prime-time Bush White House special promoting the War on Terror? Try not to laugh too hard at the impossibility of such a concept.

You can just hear the protests, can't you? "Why, we can't do that! We're journalists!"

In prime time, Barack Obama is overexposed and under-challenged. If ABC wants to add any sliver of credibility to all this freely offered air time, it will ask the president to defend adding ten trillion dollars to the national debt in the decade to come, and ask if the current government's priorities should really require a deficit three times the "investment" of World War II.
23396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 07, 2009, 08:53:06 AM
Speaking to the American Medical Association last month, President Obama waxed enthusiastic about countries that "spend less" than the U.S. on health care. He's right that many countries do, but what he doesn't want to explain is how they ration care to do it.

Take the United Kingdom, which is often praised for spending as little as half as much per capita on health care as the U.S. Credit for this cost containment goes in large part to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE. Americans should understand how NICE works because under ObamaCare it will eventually be coming to a hospital near you.

* * *
 
Associated Press
 
President Barack Obama speaks about health care during a town hall meeting at Northern Virginia Community College last Wednesday.
The British officials who established NICE in the late 1990s pitched it as a body that would ensure that the government-run National Health System used "best practices" in medicine. As the Guardian reported in 1998: "Health ministers are setting up [NICE], designed to ensure that every treatment, operation, or medicine used is the proven best. It will root out under-performing doctors and useless treatments, spreading best practices everywhere."

What NICE has become in practice is a rationing board. As health costs have exploded in Britain as in most developed countries, NICE has become the heavy that reduces spending by limiting the treatments that 61 million citizens are allowed to receive through the NHS. For example:

In March, NICE ruled against the use of two drugs, Lapatinib and Sutent, that prolong the life of those with certain forms of breast and stomach cancer. This followed on a 2008 ruling against drugs -- including Sutent, which costs about $50,000 -- that would help terminally ill kidney-cancer patients. After last year's ruling, Peter Littlejohns, NICE's clinical and public health director, noted that "there is a limited pot of money," that the drugs were of "marginal benefit at quite often an extreme cost," and the money might be better spent elsewhere.

In 2007, the board restricted access to two drugs for macular degeneration, a cause of blindness. The drug Macugen was blocked outright. The other, Lucentis, was limited to a particular category of individuals with the disease, restricting it to about one in five sufferers. Even then, the drug was only approved for use in one eye, meaning those lucky enough to get it would still go blind in the other. As Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of NICE, explained at the time: "When treatments are very expensive, we have to use them where they give the most benefit to patients."

NICE has limited the use of Alzheimer's drugs, including Aricept, for patients in the early stages of the disease. Doctors in the U.K. argued vociferously that the most effective way to slow the progress of the disease is to give drugs at the first sign of dementia. NICE ruled the drugs were not "cost effective" in early stages.

Other NICE rulings include the rejection of Kineret, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis; Avonex, which reduces the relapse rate in patients with multiple sclerosis; and lenalidomide, which fights multiple myeloma. Private U.S. insurers often cover all, or at least portions, of the cost of many of these NICE-denied drugs.

NICE has also produced guidance that restrains certain surgical operations and treatments. NICE has restrictions on fertility treatments, as well as on procedures for back pain, including surgeries and steroid injections. The U.K. has recently been absorbed by the cases of several young women who developed cervical cancer after being denied pap smears by a related health authority, the Cervical Screening Programme, which in order to reduce government health-care spending has refused the screens to women under age 25.

We could go on. NICE is the target of frequent protests and lawsuits, and at times under political pressure has reversed or watered-down its rulings. But it has by now established the principle that the only way to control health-care costs is for this panel of medical high priests to dictate limits on certain kinds of care to certain classes of patients.

The NICE board even has a mathematical formula for doing so, based on a "quality adjusted life year." While the guidelines are complex, NICE currently holds that, except in unusual cases, Britain cannot afford to spend more than about $22,000 to extend a life by six months. Why $22,000? It seems to be arbitrary, calculated mainly based on how much the government wants to spend on health care. That figure has remained fairly constant since NICE was established and doesn't adjust for either overall or medical inflation.

Proponents argue that such cost-benefit analysis has to figure into health-care decisions, and that any medical system rations care in some way. And it is true that U.S. private insurers also deny reimbursement for some kinds of care. The core issue is whether those decisions are going to be dictated by the brute force of politics (NICE) or by prices (a private insurance system).

The last six months of life are a particularly difficult moral issue because that is when most health-care spending occurs. But who would you rather have making decisions about whether a treatment is worth the price -- the combination of you, your doctor and a private insurer, or a government board that cuts everyone off at $22,000?

One virtue of a private system is that competition allows choice and experimentation. To take an example from one of our recent editorials, Medicare today refuses to reimburse for the new, less invasive preventive treatment known as a virtual colonoscopy, but such private insurers as Cigna and United Healthcare do. As clinical evidence accumulates on the virtual colonoscopy, doctors and insurers will be able to adjust their practices accordingly. NICE merely issues orders, and patients have little recourse.

This has medical consequences. The Concord study published in 2008 showed that cancer survival rates in Britain are among the worst in Europe. Five-year survival rates among U.S. cancer patients are also significantly higher than in Europe: 84% vs. 73% for breast cancer, 92% vs. 57% for prostate cancer. While there is more than one reason for this difference, surely one is medical innovation and the greater U.S. willingness to reimburse for it.

* * *
The NICE precedent also undercuts the Obama Administration's argument that vast health savings can be gleaned simply by automating health records or squeezing out "waste." Britain has tried all of that but ultimately has concluded that it can only rein in costs by limiting care. The logic of a health-care system dominated by government is that it always ends up with some version of a NICE board that makes these life-or-death treatment decisions. The Administration's new Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research currently lacks the authority of NICE. But over time, if the Obama plan passes and taxpayer costs inevitably soar, it could quickly gain it.

Mr. Obama and Democrats claim they can expand subsidies for tens of millions of Americans, while saving money and improving the quality of care. It can't possibly be done. The inevitable result of their plan will be some version of a NICE board that will tell millions of Americans that they are too young, or too old, or too sick to be worth paying to care for.
23397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, 1775 on: July 07, 2009, 08:24:41 AM
"It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail."

--Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775
23398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO goes to Moscow on: July 07, 2009, 01:02:55 AM
Geopolitical Diary: Obama Goes to Moscow
July 6, 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama left for Moscow on Sunday for his summit with Russian leaders. The meetings have both a personal and geopolitical dimension, and in this case the two intersect, at least for the short run. The Russians have let it be known through multiple channels that they view Obama as a weak leader. The Russians don’t have any idea what kind of leader Obama is, but they are trying to goad him.

The context for this, of course, is the famous summit between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in 1961. Tradition has it that Kennedy came to the meeting unprepared and retreated in the face of pressure from Khrushchev. Khrushchev decided that Kennedy would be a weak adversary, and this caused Khrushchev to become more aggressive, culminating in the Cuban missile crisis. Whether it happened this way is subject to dispute, but it sets the stage for this summit. Obama has been compared to Kennedy. That is not a great comparison when dealing with the Russians, so Obama has to go to Moscow to prove he is no Kennedy.

As far as the Russians are concerned, the audience for this summit is not limited to the Americans. Russia is far more interested in the European — particularly the German — perception of the summit. If Obama comes across as too weak, the Russians can tell the Germans that he is a weak champion. If he comes across as too aggressive, they can tell the Germans that he is dragging them into another Cold War. At this point, the core of Russian strategy is to deepen tensions between the Americans and the Germans. The Russians are not betting on personalities to carry the day, but this is one step in the long resurrection process the Russians have put into play.

Obama has tried to open the summit with his own head games. After saying that former Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is too deeply enmeshed in Cold War thinking, the Americans started implying that President Dmitri Medvedev — Putin’s putative boss — was a much more reasonable person and that they were much more interested in dealing with him than with Putin. If Obama’s Achilles’ heel is Europe and the Europeans’ wariness of him, the Russian vulnerability might lie in the fact that Medvedev could be developing ambitions of his own. More likely, the vulnerability is in Putin’s nascent paranoia about Medvedev’s intentions. In either case, the Americans have tried to set up the meeting in such a way that Putin might feel excluded.

Such games have limited value, but they become more important as chances that the summit will achieve anything substantial decline. The Americans charged that Putin was enmeshed in Cold War thinking. The Russians shot back that it isn’t the Russians that are building the NATO bloc — the ultimate Cold War tool — and expanding it wherever it can go. Washington then said that on the key question of ballistic missile defense in Poland, the Russians must understand that the missiles would be there against Iran and not against Russia. The Russians, of course, understand this fully, though they might not agree with it. Their problem is not who the missiles are directed against, but that they would be present in Poland. And Obama’s problem is that if he gives them up without major concessions in return, he will appear exactly as he can’t afford to: weak.

Just before take-off, the Russians gave Obama a present: an offer to allow the United States to transport weapons across Russian territory to troops in Afghanistan. That is not a trivial concession, but it is not one the United States really needs at the moment, nor is the United States likely to want to become dependent on routes that could be closed easily.

Three major issues remain: U.S. relations with states of the former Soviet Union, the status of Poland as a forward U.S. base or a neutral zone, and Russian support for the U.S. stance on Iran.
23399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 06, 2009, 10:20:59 PM

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/06/27/

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/06/28/
23400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Honduras on: July 06, 2009, 10:18:54 PM


http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/07/03/
Pages: 1 ... 466 467 [468] 469 470 ... 681
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!