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23351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: August 15, 2011, 05:15:25 AM
Yeah, but we are cutting $21B this year and $45B next year  rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes   Sowell understates just how bad this deal was and just how incompetent the Reps have been in communicating with the American people.
23352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 15, 2011, 05:09:19 AM
Lets see if I have this right.  Pakistan has more people than Russia (I read this somewhere recently and was quite surprised); more nukes than everyone except the US, Russia, and China; a rogue nuclear program that is in alliance with the Norks rogue program and has connections with Iran's nuclear program, harbored Bin Laden, helps the Chinese get our military technology, etc etc , , , and they are an ally of ours , , ,
23353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: August 15, 2011, 05:04:37 AM
Thanks for following up on this and keeping us informed Denny. 

With Chavez's apparently serious health issues, the growing military and nuclear connections with Iran, and Baraq at the helm here, it looks like Venezuela is going to be appearing on a lot more people's radar screens here in the next year or two; readers of the DB forum will be a step ahead of the curve once again:  smiley
23354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH goes after Cong. Darrell Issa on: August 15, 2011, 04:58:03 AM
Congressman Darrell Issa is doing an outstanding job of investigating Operation Fast & Furious (see the Gun Rights thread) to the discomfort of Baraq, AG Holder, et al.  Of course it is a coincidence that Pravada on the Hudson is now going after him. rolleyes  That said, things such as placing and voting on earmarks that happen to benefit a property you have bought is not my idea of the right way to do things.
VISTA, Calif. — Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course in the rugged foothills north of San Diego, Darrell Issa, the entrepreneur, oversees the hub of a growing financial empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Just a few steps down the hall, Representative Darrell Issa, the powerful Republican congressman, runs the local district office where his constituents come for help.
The proximity of the two offices reflects Mr. Issa’s dual careers, a meshing of public and private interests rarely seen in government.
Most wealthy members of Congress push their financial activities to the side, with many even placing them in blind trusts to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest. But Mr. Issa (pronounced EYE-suh), one of Washington’s richest lawmakers, may be alone in the hands-on role he has played in overseeing a remarkable array of outside business interests since his election in 2000.
Even as he has built a reputation as a forceful Congressional advocate for business, Mr. Issa has bought up office buildings, split a holding company into separate multibillion-dollar businesses, started an insurance company, traded hundreds of millions of dollars in securities, invested in overseas funds, retained an interest in his auto-alarm company and built up a family foundation.
As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.
He has secured millions of dollars in Congressional earmarks for road work and public works projects that promise improved traffic and other benefits to the many commercial properties he owns here north of San Diego. In one case, more than $800,000 in earmarks he arranged will help widen a busy thoroughfare in front of a medical plaza he bought for $10.3 million.
His constituents cheer the prospect of easing traffic. At the same time, the value of the medical complex and other properties has soared, at least in part because of the government-sponsored road work.
But beyond specific actions that appear to have clearly benefited his businesses, Mr. Issa’s interests are so varied that some of the biggest issues making their way through Congress affect him in some way.
After the forced sale of Merrill Lynch in 2008, for instance, he publicly attacked the Treasury Department’s handling of the deal without mentioning that Merrill had handled hundreds of millions of dollars in investments for him and lent him many millions more.
And in an era when the auto industry’s future has been a big theme of public policy, Mr. Issa has been outspoken on regulatory issues affecting car companies, while maintaining deep ties to the industry through the auto electronics company he founded, DEI Holdings.
He has a seat on its board, and his nonprofit family foundation, which seeks to encourage values like “hard work and selfless philanthropy,” has earned millions from stock in DEI, which bears his initials. Mr. Issa’s fortune, in fact, was built on his car alarm company, and to this day it is his deep voice on Viper alarms that warns potential burglars to “please step away from the car.”
In recent months, The New York Times has examined how some lawmakers have championed particular industries, pushing measures to protect and enrich supporters. In Mr. Issa’s case, it is sometimes difficult to separate the business of Congress from the business of Darrell Issa.
Mr. Issa, 57, did not respond to repeated written requests in the last three weeks to discuss his outside interests. In the past, he has said his business background has made him a better lawmaker. In at least one Congressional matter, however, he recused himself after being advised of a potential conflict.
But perhaps his clearest statement on the issue came last year amid Toyota’s recalls of millions of automobiles with dangerous acceleration problems. Then, Mr. Issa brushed aside suggestions that his electronics company’s role as a major supplier of alarms to Toyota made him go easy on the automaker as he led an investigation into the recalls.
“If anything,” the congressman said, “Toyota probably got a harder time by having an automobile supplier sitting up there on the dais saying ‘Hold it, I’m not letting you off the hook now.’ ”
A Powerful Gadfly
As the influential chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Mr. Issa has proven both a reliable friend to business and a constant annoyance to an Obama administration that he sees as anti-business. Even before formally taking over the committee in December, he made headlines by asking 150 businesses and trade groups to identify regulations that they considered overly burdensome, and he has issued numerous subpoenas on his own authority in investigating programs he believes are harmful.
(Page 2 of 4)
His pro-business policies usually align closely with those of the firms he has worked with in his wide-ranging business career both before and after he joined Congress. Congress has historically had more than its share of millionaires from storied American fortunes, from the Rockefellers to the Kennedys. But typically, those members lower their business profiles considerably and limit their active dealings to avoid potential conflicts of interest and the political repercussions that might follow from private business decisions.
Senator John D. Rockfeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, for one, has much of his money in blind trusts, run by outside trustees. And Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, has a number of family and marital trusts for money generated largely through the fortune of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Mr. Issa, who grew up in a hardscrabble neighborhood near Cleveland and now owns homes north of San Diego and in Washington, has assets totaling as much as $725 million, outstripping by some measures even Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Kerry. (Because lawmakers must disclose their assets only within broad dollar ranges, public reports do not allow for precise figures.)
According to his filings, Mr. Issa’s minimum wealth doubled in the last year, and he appears flush with cash: he bought dozens of mutual funds in 2010 worth as much as $80 million, managed by Wall Street powerhouses, without selling off any securities.
Mr. Issa’s transactions cover many pages in his annual disclosure reports, as he has traded huge volumes of stock funds and municipal bonds on a weekly or even daily basis. In 2008 alone, he traded some 360 securities totaling between $650 million and $2 billion.
Those investments have often produced sharp profits.
In one 2008 sale, months before the stock market crashed, his family foundation earned $357,000 on an initial investment of less than $19,000 — a return of nearly 1,900 percent in just seven months, the foundation reported to the Internal Revenue Service. It reported acquiring the security, then known as AIM International Small Company Fund, at a cost basis representing a tiny fraction of the market value.
In addition, Mr. Issa sold at least $1 million in personal holdings in the same fund that year but was not required to report what he paid.
Invesco, as the AIM fund’s manager is now known, told The Times it did not provide Mr. Issa’s foundation the steep discount. That suggests the foundation may have acquired the shares from a third-party broker.
A former government official said House ethics committee officials quietly inquired into Mr. Issa’s business interests last year because of possible conflicts in his electronics connections.
While the exact focus of those inquiries is not known, Mr. Issa’s ties to the industry are well established: in each of his first five years in Congress, he reported accepting free trips to Las Vegas from the Consumer Electronics Association for its annual convention. Such corporate-sponsored trips were allowed at the time, but Congressional rules have tightened since.
The inquiries did not produce sufficient evidence of ethics problems to move forward, the former official said.
Standards for determining a financial conflict are murky. House members are generally restricted from using their positions “for personal gain” or on matters in which they have a direct financial interest. But a 2009 ethics committee ruling added to the ambiguity, finding there is no prohibition on the mere “appearance” of a conflict.
There are also restrictions on taking salaries from certain businesses. While Mr. Issa’s wife draws a salary at their property management company, Mr. Issa — the firm’s president — does not.
A Balancing Act
Lawmakers must also avoid outside work that can pose a “time conflict,” and “detract from a member’s full time and attention to his official duties,” the guidelines say. By all accounts, these rules were designed to promote the notion of a full-time legislature.
Mr. Issa’s outside interests certainly appear to have kept him busy. Associates describe him as actively involved in business decisions, particularly in his auto electronics firm. His office did not discuss how he balances the time demands of Congress and his outside businesses. His management company, Greene Properties, which he runs with his wife from the office down the hall from his Congressional office in Vista, has acquired more than two dozen properties in the last five years, valued at up to a total of $80 million.
Page 3 of 4)
In nearby Carlsbad, a new office complex he owns advertises for prospective tenants. A few miles away, a Hooters restaurant rents space in another building he owns. Nearby, his medical complex bustles with doctors and patients and has few vacancies.
 “Issa’s a smart businessman,” said Dean Tilton, a local real estate broker. “We haven’t seen real estate prices this low in 20 years, and he’s taking advantage of that.”
The hard-hit San Diego area has also benefited from federal money Mr. Issa brought through earmarks, which allow lawmakers to award money for their own pet projects. Indeed, more than two dozen of Mr. Issa’s properties are within five miles of projects he has personally earmarked for road work, sanitation and other improvements, an analysis by The Times shows.
His medical complex, for instance, sits directly along West Vista Way, a busy corridor scheduled for widening with $815,000 in funds Mr. Issa earmarked. The congressman bought the complex in 2008, soon after securing the first of two earmarks for the two-mile project and unsuccessfully seeking millions more. The assessor’s office now values the complex at $16 million, a 60 percent appreciation.
Mr. Issa owns a number of commercial properties near the planned $171 million expansion of State Route 76. The project, intended to ease traffic for tens of thousands of commuters, was helped by $245,000 in his earmarks.
A regional transportation official said the earmarks supplemented state financing to move the projects along.
Local leaders say they are just grateful for the money, regardless of any suggestions locally in San Diego that Mr. Issa stands to benefit.
“I don’t really blame the guy,” said John Aguilera, a Vista city councilman. “As a politician, that’s his job to bring a slice of the pie back home, and as a businessman, he’s going to invest in the areas that he champions.”
Some ethics experts wonder, however, whether Mr. Issa’s business interests invite problems.
“The idea is you’re supposed to be a full-time congressman,” said Robert M. Stern, who runs the nonprofit Center for Governmental Studies in California. “There may not be a direct conflict of interest, but it creates an appearance that he is trying to influence a policy on issues where he has an investment.”
In 2009, as earmarks became a damaging symbol of Congressional abuse, Mr. Issa joined other lawmakers in pledging to discontinue them. And in recent weeks, he has attacked “the culture of government overspending” in pushing for deep cuts in the national debt.
Mr. Issa’s dual roles reach beyond earmarks.
At a House hearing in 2008 on a much-debated proposal to merge the satellite radio companies Sirius and XM, despite objections on competitive grounds, Mr. Issa praised the “viable combined market” the deal would create as he questioned Sirius’s chief executive and talked of opportunities for expansion.
What Mr. Issa did not mention was that his electronics firm was then in a lucrative partnership with Sirius to distribute its audio products.
While Mr. Issa sold off his controlling interest in DEI soon after he was elected, he remains a board member with a half-million shares in the firm held by his family trust. His management firm also receives $2 million a year for leasing DEI its Vista plant.
DEI’s partnership with Sirius, which continued after the merger, caused friction with competitors. In a lawsuit settled out of court, U.S. Electronics accused Sirius and DEI of freezing it out of the market through anticompetitive practices that relied on “a web of deception, threats and lies” aimed at “the enrichment of certain of its officers and directors.”
When a watchdog group, the Center for Public Integrity, asked Mr. Issa about his role in the merger, his office said the congressman’s participation in the House hearing posed no conflict because his founding of DEI was “public knowledge.” But after advice from House ethics lawyers, Mr. Issa avoided any votes on the issue afterward.
Page 4 of 4)
With its brand-name audio and electronics products, DEI caught the eye of an equity company, Charlesbank Capital, which bought the company in June for $305 million, or $4.45 a share — nearly three times the presale price. The premium promises a payday of at least $2 million for Mr. Issa’s foundation, which has already earned more than $10 million from sales of DEI stock. (Mr. Issa is now a defendant in a lawsuit brought by DEI shareholders; the suit claims the deal was structured to give him and other directors a “windfall not shared by other stockholders.”)
Ties to Merrill Lynch
The lines between Mr. Issa’s many interests have also become entangled in his frequent criticism of regulators and his frequent defense of Wall Street. At a series of hearings in 2009, Mr. Issa accused Treasury officials of a “cover-up” of their role in Bank of America’s $50 billion purchase of Merrill Lynch months earlier. Most pointedly, he accused Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, of bullying Bank of America “behind closed doors” into buying Merrill Lynch at bargain rates and then lying about it.
“I for one,” Mr. Issa told the Fed chairman, “am looking at Main Street America, the stockholders who in some cases got less than they would have gotten through other means. This includes Chrysler, General Motors and, of course, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.”
Mr. Issa did not mention his own extensive links to Merrill Lynch.
In a television interview days later, however, he said: “I bank at Merrill Lynch. I’m very well aware that every broker there, all the people who were stockholders, were furious that they were in fact being fire-saled to them.”
And Mr. Issa is no ordinary Merrill customer.
His transactions there have totaled more than a billion dollars in the last decade, records show. In the aftermath of the firm’s acquisition in September 2008, in fact, he bought and sold at least $206 million in Merrill Lynch mutual funds in the next 15 days, records show.
His ties to the bank deepened last year, records show, as Merrill Lynch gave him two “personal notes” for lines of credit worth at least $75 million.
Likewise, Mr. Issa has aggressively defended Goldman Sachs, another Wall Street giant.
When the Securities and Exchange Commission brought a major lawsuit charging Goldman with fraud last year, Mr. Issa fired back by opening an investigation. The timing of the lawsuit, he said, smacked of a “partisan political agenda” meant to help President Obama and bolster a bill overhauling financial regulations.
His charge drew nationwide attention, putting regulators on the defensive, but the S.E.C. inspector general later found “no evidence” of political meddling.
Mr. Issa came to Goldman’s defense again last month in a letter to regulators complaining about restrictions on financial firms. Broker dealers “such as Goldman Sachs” faced “a substantial reduction in leverage” because of excessive capital requirements, he wrote.
As with Merrill Lynch, Mr. Issa is keenly interested in Goldman’s performance.
A few weeks before opening his inquiry into the Goldman lawsuit, in fact, he bought another large batch of shares in one of the firm’s high-yield mutual funds, records show. By the end of the year, his stake in Goldman’s fund was worth as much as $25 million.
23355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some initial thoughts on Perry; Newt on: August 14, 2011, 09:14:30 AM
a) He should have announced before the Iowa debate, when the other candidates were pretty much off the radar screen-- now they are bigger and realer in the public perception

b) cronyism?  Uh oh , , ,

Concerning Newt:  I thought he did very well in the debate and showed flashes of why I hoped so strongly that he would run in 2008.  I want him and those who watch his donation numbers to get the message that I want to hear more of that.  The reasoning is not dissimilar to my support for Bachman; ultimately I am not yet persuaded that she is ready to be President (e.g. the utter lack of executive experience, my unfamiliarity with her thoughts and depth on foreign affairs) but I am glad to see her represent well a hardcore Tea Party message, including traditional values, and to get support for it.  

I have had hopes that Perry would be the one, because he too speaks a good Tea Party game AND has plenty of executive credibility, but now the spotlight is on him and we will learn much more about him.
23356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Revenge and Revolt on: August 14, 2011, 09:09:15 AM
Saddled with infighting and undermined by the occasionally ruthless and undisciplined behavior of its fighters, the six-month-old rebel uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is showing signs of sliding from a struggle to overthrow an autocrat into a murkier contest between factions and tribes.

In a tribal dispute, rebels set fire to a home in Yafran, Libya, last month after they seized the town from pro-Qaddafi loyalists.

The increase in discord and factionalism is undermining the effort to overthrow Colonel Qaddafi, and it comes immediately after recognition of the rebel government by the Western powers, including the United States, potentially giving the rebels access to billions of dollars in frozen Libyan assets, and the chance to purchase more modern weaponry.

The infighting could also erode support for the rebels among members of the NATO alliance, which faces a September deadline for renewing its air campaign amid growing unease about the war’s costs and direction. That air support has been a factor in every significant rebel military goal, including fighting on Saturday in which rebel forces were challenging pro-Qaddafi forces in or near three critical towns: Brega, an oil port in the east, Zawiya, on the outskirts of Tripoli, and Gharyan, an important gateway to southern Libya. There were also clashes a few miles from the main border crossing into neighboring Tunisia, residents told Reuters.

While the rebels have sought to maintain a clean image and to portray themselves as fighting to establish a secular democracy, several recent acts of revenge have cast their ranks in a less favorable light. They have also raised the possibility that any rebel victory over Colonel Qaddafi could disintegrate into the sort of tribal tensions that have plagued Libya for centuries.

In recent weeks, rebel fighters in Libya’s western mountains and around the coastal city of Misurata have lashed out at civilians because their tribes supported Colonel Qaddafi, looting mountain villages and emptying a civilian neighborhood. In the rebels’ provisional capital, Benghazi, renegade fighters assassinated their top military commander, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, apparently in revenge for his previous role as Colonel Qaddafi’s security chief.

In response, the chief of General Younes’s powerful tribe threatened to retaliate against those responsible, setting off a crisis in the rebels’ governing council, whose members were dismissed en masse last week.

The rebels’ Western backers have become alarmed at the growing rift between supporters of a group of rebels who have coalesced into a relatively unified army and the others who effectively remain a civilian band of militia fighters.

In the short term, the retaliation can serve to fortify Colonel Qaddafi’s power by reinforcing the fear that a rebel victory would bring reprisals against the many who participated in the colonel’s political machine and enjoyed his patronage. More broadly, the moral clarity of six months ago, when Colonel Qaddafi’s forces were bearing down on Benghazi and he was threatening to wipe out anyone who dared oppose him there, has been muddied.

In an interview, Jeffrey D. Feltman, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said that concerns about the rebels might be overblown. He acknowledged that there were some “disturbing reports” from Benghazi and the rebel front lines but credited the rebels’ governing Transitional National Council with swift steps to address the concerns. He noted that the rebel leadership — itself a heterodox mix of recent defectors and their former longtime foes — had ordered an end to abuses against loyalist tribes in the mountains, and he characterized the shake-up of the council as a move to establish a level of transparency and accountability without precedent in Libya.

After some initial gunfire by fighters from the family of General Younes, the council appeared to have persuaded his tribe, the Obeidi, to put their faith in an investigation by the rebel authorities, Mr. Feltman said. “They were able to avert a real cycle of violence,” he said. “I would give them a passing grade, given where they are starting from.” He added, “They have made commitments to us that you would never get out of Qaddafi.”

Still, questions remain about the rebel leadership’s control over its fighters. “I think that is a question they are asking themselves,” Mr. Feltman said, noting recent moves by the council to rein in various freewheeling rebel militias, which often are formed along town, neighborhood or tribal lines.

But an Obama administration official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the subject, acknowledged some doubts. “I think the jury is out on how unified the command will be,” the official said.

Just two weeks before the mysterious assassination of General Younes raised those questions, the United States formally recognized the rebels’ Transitional National Council as Libya’s legitimate government, potentially allowing it to tap about $3.5 billion in liquid assets and, over the long term, the rest of the $30 billion of the Qaddafi government’s frozen investments.

United States officials say that rebel leaders have pledged to allocate the money in a way that is “transparent” and “inclusive,” and that the United States is encouraging its use for health care, electricity and other services in rebel-held territory. But some funds could also be used to buy weapons for the poorly trained and equipped rebel forces.

Libya before the revolt was in many ways a social tinderbox. The country, a former Italian colony long dominated by rural Bedouin tribes, had little experience of national unity before Colonel Qaddafi came to power 42 years ago. Many Libyans relied on tribal connections more than civil law for justice and security.

Colonel Qaddafi’s centralized state and oil economy deepened many divisions, rewarding or punishing both individuals and tribes primarily on the basis of their loyalty to the government.

The uprising initially broke out across the country, even driving the police from the streets of the capital, Tripoli. But Colonel Qaddafi and one of his sons, Seif al-Islam, immediately vowed to stamp out the “rats” they held responsible, predicting from the first nights that the rebellion would become “a civil war.” Then militias commanded by two other Qaddafi sons, Muatassim and Khamis, re-established control of the capital by firing live ammunition into unarmed crowds, as the International Criminal Court attested, the first steps toward fulfilling the Qaddafis’ prophecy of a civil war pitting east against west.

Many supporters of the rebels now speak of exacting their own revenge against Colonel Qaddafi’s clan.

Outside Tripoli, the Qaddafi stronghold, about 500 civilian refugees from the rebel advance have gathered in a makeshift camp that formerly housed Chinese construction workers. “If you love Qaddafi in Yafran, they will kill you,” said Abdel Kareem Omar, 25, a dental student from a village of the Mashaashia tribe near that rebel city in the western mountains.

“The rebels stole our furniture, our food, our animals and burned our homes,” he said, vowing that he, too, would take up arms. “To protect my people,” he said.

In a recent conversation with two journalists, one man in the western mountains said his neighbors often spoke of capturing Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi alive, so they could chop off his fingers. And low-level rebel leaders talk openly of forbidding Colonel Qaddafi’s supporters from returning to their homes in rebel-held ground.

Bands of rebel fighters hunted people suspected of being Qaddafi loyalists around Benghazi for months before the killing of General Younes. And on the front lines, rebels in the coastal city of Misurata have vowed to take revenge on the black-skinned Libyans from Tawergha, accusing them of committing atrocities and driving them out of their neighborhood.

In the mountains in western Libya, local men have ransacked and burned homes in at least five villages or cities where residents had supported Colonel Qaddafi or his troops. Many of the victims were members of the pro-Qaddafi Mashaashia tribe, which the rebels openly loathe.

The fear holding together the pro-Qaddafi side is palpable. Asked in an unguarded moment about his plans, Musa Ibrahim, a member of Colonel Qaddafi’s tribe and a spokesman for his government, blurted out, “If I am alive, you mean?”

The rebel leadership in Benghazi continues to insist that it can reconcile the differences among Libyan factions and tribes. The governing council calls itself “transitional,” and it has pledged to form a new broadly representative unity government based in Tripoli if Colonel Qaddafi leaves power.

Part of the challenge facing the rebels is the pervasive reach of the Qaddafi political machine.

“In a dictatorship that lasts 42 years, it is almost inevitable that almost everyone to some extent needed to participate in the ‘revolution’ — how else could you raise a family, have a job, etc.?” Diederik Vandewalle, a Libya expert at Dartmouth College wrote in an e-mail. “That in a sense is the real tragedy of the way the Qaddafi system implicated everyone. And so it leaves virtually everyone open to retribution.”

Members of the tribes close to Colonel Qaddafi — like his own tribe, the Qaddafa, or the larger Maghraha, and small tribes associated with them — may face the greatest danger from “tribal revenge,” George Joffe, a Libya expert at the University of Cambridge, wrote in another e-mail. “And, of course, the longer this struggle continues, the more likely and bitter that will become.”

23357  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: August 14, 2011, 12:45:01 AM
More fun and games today.  Amongst the material taught:  The Kalimba Game, the Brondo Buzzsaw, and the integration of the two into a larger whole, intro to the Salty Game, and then it was time for Damian to continue with his anti-carjacking material.  Pepper spray and a Shocknife livened up the scenarios.  Toki's car escaped with no apparent damage. (In his scenario Toki made and awesome move from front seat to back and out the far passenger door.)
23358  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: August 14, 2011, 12:26:25 AM

I found the reason article very interesting.

a) I thought it very pertinent to note the very low crime/murder rates in the late 1800s when gun ownership was quite high and the increase the more the gun laws became more restrictive.  I would add the decrease in crime/murder rates in the US as gun ownership (and right to concealed carry) increases.

b) Concerning the Martin case mentioned in the article, when I first read about the case I was very indignant.  As I learned more I learned it was not a 100% black and white case.  While my sympathies remain overwhemlmingly with Martin and I remain appalled at some of the actions of the authorities, if I remember correctly there was something about a booby trap and something about shooting one of the bad guys after he had already exited the house.
23359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt on: August 13, 2011, 09:10:56 PM
Question presented:  Who would be the most effective in debate with Baraq?

My answer:  Newt.   I just gave him $25.
23360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel vs. Iran on: August 13, 2011, 08:56:39 PM
August 12, 2011: Israel is apparently involved in a Cyber War with Iran, one that receives little official publicity. Not even all the damage is publicized, as a lot of the damage is undetected (often for a long time) by the victim. While Iran has made the most noise about this Cyber War, Israel is doing the most destruction. Israel wants to keep it that way, and keep it quiet. Partly, this is to keep the Iranians confused, but also to keep Israeli government lawyers happy. A lot of the tactics and weapons used in Cyber War are of uncertain legality. The traditional Laws of War have not caught up with Cyber War.

This process has been going on for some time, and some aspects of it do surface in the media. For example, three months ago, Israel established the National Cybernetic Taskforce, with orders to devise and implement defensive measures to protect the economy and government from Internet based attacks. The taskforce consists of about 80 people and is run by a retired general. Apparently, existing Internet security efforts, and military Cyber War organizations have discovered a growing number of vulnerabilities in the national Internet infrastructure. The only solution to this growing vulnerability is a large scale effort to monitor the national network infrastructure for vulnerabilities, and fix them as quickly as possible. You will never catch all the vulnerabilities, but in Cyber War, as in the more conventional kind, victory is not always a matter of who is better, but who is worse (more vulnerable to attack.)

Meanwhile, Israel makes no secret of what it thinks about its Cyber War capabilities. Over the last year, Israel has revealed that its cryptography operation (Unit 8200) has added computer hacking to its skill set. Last year, the head of Israeli Military Intelligence said that he believed Israel had become the leading practitioner of Cyber War. This came in the wake of suspicions that Israel had created the Stuxnet worm, which got into Iran's nuclear fuel enrichment equipment, and destroyed a lot of it. Earlier this year, Iran complained that another worm, called Star, was causing them trouble. Usually, intelligence organizations keep quiet about their capabilities, but in this case, the Israelis apparently felt it was more useful to scare the Iranians, with the threat of more stuff like Stuxnet. But the Iranians have turned around and tried to attack Israel, and are apparently determined to keep at it for as long as it takes.

This struggle between Israel and Iran is nothing new. Seven years ago, Israel announced that Unit 8200 had cracked an Iranian communications code, an operation that allowed Israel to read messages concerning Iranian efforts to keep its nuclear weapons program going (with Pakistani help), despite Iranian promises to UN weapons inspectors that the program was being shut down.

It's long been known that Unit 8200 of the Israeli army specialized in cracking codes for the government. This was known because so many men who had served in Unit 8200 went on to start companies specializing in cryptography (coding information so that no unauthorized personnel can know what the data is.) But it is unusual for a code-cracking organization to admit to deciphering someone's code. Perhaps the Iranians stopped using the code in question, or perhaps the Israelis just wanted to scare the Iranians. Israel is very concerned about Iran getting nuclear weapons, mainly because the Islamic conservatives that control Iran have as one of their primary goals the destruction of Israel. In response to these Iranian threats, Israel has said that it will do whatever it takes to stop Iran from getting nukes. This apparently includes doing the unthinkable (for a code cracking outfit); admitting that you had successfully taken apart an opponent's secret code.

Israel is trying to convince Iran that a long-time superiority in code-breaking was now accompanied by similarly exceptional hacking skills. Whether it's true or not, it's got to have rattled the Iranians. The failure of their counterattacks can only have added to their unease.
23361  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 13, 2011, 03:19:46 PM
Glad to see Point Dog contributing to the conversation.
23362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / British Muslim father of son murdered in riots speaks on: August 13, 2011, 12:12:51 AM
23363  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: August 13, 2011, 12:08:38 AM
Yes.  09:45 will be fine.

Great presentation today by Damian on anti-carjacking.  Tomorrow we go to FOF (pepper spray, shocknives, airsoft and other implements of fun & games) for the anti-carjacking segment.  C-Mighty's car may never be the same smiley
23364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: August 12, 2011, 11:20:01 AM
And here is how to know for sure, state by state:
23365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Short sales being banned in Europe, US to follow? on: August 12, 2011, 08:06:15 AM
I am not a big fan of short sales, which seem to greatly exaggerate volatility, especially in conjunction with the program trading which has become such a dominating % of market transactions.  Also, I do not understand the basis for the claim to increased liquidity.

Four European Nations to Curtail Short-Selling
Published: August 11, 2011
A European market regulator announced Thursday night that short-selling of stocks in several countries would be temporarily banned in an effort to stop the tailspin in the markets.

The move may put pressure on United States market regulators to ban short sales as well. American bank stocks have been volatile all week as global investors expressed concerns that problems in Europe might cross the ocean.

The European Securities and Markets Authority, a body that coordinates the European Union’s market policies, said in a statement that short sales — negative bets on stocks — would be curtailed in France, Belgium, Italy and Spain effective Friday. There is already a temporary short-sale ban in Greece and Turkey.

“Today some authorities have decided to impose or extend existing short-selling bans in their respective countries,” the authority said. “They have done so either to restrict the benefits that can be achieved from spreading false rumors or to achieve a regulatory level playing field, given the close interlinkage between some E.U. markets.”

In France, that country’s market watchdog banned short-selling or increasing short-selling positions, effective immediately, for 15 days on 11 financial institutions. They are: the April Group, Axa, BNP Paribas, CIC, CNP Assurances, Crédit Agricole, Euler Hermès, Natixis, Paris Ré, Scor and Société Générale.

Italy and Spain imposed similiar 15-day bans covering financial shares, while Belgium's was for an indefinite period, according to statements by their market regulators.

The emergency measures are raising comparisons to the financial crisis of 2008, when the United States and many other governments banned short sales on many financial stocks.

European financial regulators have been discussing a Continent-wide ban over the last few days amid fears from governments like France that the short sales were driving a panic. Financial regulators held two conference calls on Thursday to complete the declaration, according to a government official with knowledge of the talks. Britain and Germany are among the countries that did not join the ban.

In short sales, a trader sells borrowed shares in hopes that they will decline in value before he has to buy them back to close out his loan. The difference in price is his profit, or loss.

Critics say short-selling encourages speculation and pushes stock prices down, sometimes feeding on itself in a panicked market. Advocates say it provides important information about investor views on companies, and also maintains liquidity.

Financial historians warned that the bans in 2008 did not work and that such measures were often driven more by political concerns — the need to display some form of decisive action — than by proved market theories.

“The short-sale ban really smacks of desperation,” said Kenneth S. Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard. “That’s their plan for solving the euro debt crisis? I mean, this isn’t going to buy them much time.”

The crisis in Europe, Mr. Rogoff said, goes far beyond falling stock prices and has more to do with the state of banks there, including banks in Italy and France. He said the sovereign debt problems were an extension of the stress on the system created by the banking crisis.

The increasing number of European governments that are banning short-selling puts United States regulators in a tricky position. Investors with negative views on bank stocks who are forced to close their negative bets in Europe might shift them to American banks.

On Thursday, stocks in the United States continued their seesaw ride, surging 4 percent, buoyed by hopeful data on initial jobless claims. The cost of insurance on several United States banks like Bank of America and Citigroup has gone up this week, according to Markit, a financial data company, indicating that investors are growing more negative on these companies.

The short-selling announcement in Europe stirred some immediate criticism.

“It is a crisis of confidence, and when you do something like this, it shows a lack of confidence, which is exactly the opposite of what you want to say to the markets,” said Robert Sloan, managing partner of S3 Partners, a firm that helps hedge funds manage relationships with their brokers.

Back in 2008, European and United States officials coordinated temporary bans on shorting financial stocks.

Hedge funds, in particular, were hurt by the ban back then because it interfered with trading strategies that paired negative bets with positive ones.

It is impossible to know whether the panic of 2008 would have been worse without the ban, which protected companies like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, but general studies of short-selling have found that bans on that activity can lead to more volatility in the market and lower trading volume, according to Andrew W. Lo, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mr. Lo said that banning short-selling also removed important information about what investors thought about the financial health of companies, and suggested that the bans served mainly political purposes.

“It’s a bit like suggesting we take heart patients in the emergency room off of the heart monitor because you don’t want to make doctors and nurses anxious about the patient,” he said.

Some investors have been anticipating for months that a short-selling ban might occur and were pre-emptively getting out of their short positions, said Mr. Sloan of S3 Partners. He also said that if there were more short-sellers in the market now, the markets might be falling less than they are. That is because as markets fall, short-sellers often close their positions to cash in profits, and to do so they have to purchase shares to cash out. The markets could use these sorts of buyers now, Mr. Sloan said.

Even with the European countries’ bans on short sales of some stocks, investors who have negative opinions on companies may still find ways to bet against them in the derivatives market, if those sorts of trades remain allowed.

23366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Syria on: August 12, 2011, 07:55:07 AM

Analyst Reva Bhalla examines the shift in the U.S. stance toward Syria, Turkish concerns and implications of Syrian instability for Israel.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Related Links
In Syria, Confusion Surrounds Former Defense Minister’s Alleged Death
Syria Becomes the New Arena for Turkey and Iran
Syria as a Battleground for Saudi Arabia and Iran
U.S. President Barack Obama is widely expected to make a statement calling for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step down. The apparent shift in the U.S. position suggests that the United States has identified alternatives to the al Assads worth backing, thereby raising the potential for a military coup. However the number of unknowns in this crisis is deeply unsettling for Syria’s neighbors.

Obama calling for al Assad to go does not necessarily mean that the United States is about to engage in another military operation in the region and pull another Libya. That’s simply not likely at this moment. Instead, the United States is looking to regional heavyweights like Turkey to manage the situation in Syria. However managing the situation in Syria is not as easy as simply throwing support behind the opposition and bracing for the fall of the regime. It’s much more complicated than that.

There is still a key element sustaining the al Assad regime as the Alawite minority in Syria realizes what is at stake should they begin to fracture and create a vacuum in Damascus for the Sunni majority to fill. There are some indications that Alawite unity is under great stress and that the armed forces that are primarily commanded by Alawite officers are under extreme stress as this military campaign wears on. There have also been some serious signs of dissent among the senior military command and these are certainly all factors that need to be monitored closely in assessing the durability of this regime. At the same time, this is not going to be a quick and easy fall. This is going to be a bloody and arduous fight for the al Assad regime and it’s not one that Turkey is quite prepared for, even if in the long term it’s in Turkey’s interest to place Syria in the hands of the Sunni majority and eventually under Ankara’s influence.

Another country not quite prepared for this transition is Israel. The Israeli political leadership is under a great deal of pressure right now. Internally, large demonstrations have taken place in Israel over everything from high taxes, lack of access to public services and high levels of government corruption. Externally, Israel is bracing itself for a U.N. vote on Palestinian recognition that has the potential to unleash intifada-like violence on its borders. At the same time, Israel is watching very nervously as the military regime in Egypt tries to manage its political transition, and now most importantly and most urgently, Israel is watching the Syrian regime struggle and try to sustain itself. The Syrian regime may be hostile to Israel, but at least it was predictable. All of these pressures combined are leading the Israeli populace at large to question the legitimacy of the Israeli political leadership.

In Syria you can see very easily why a mostly Sunni conscript force does not really feel the need to risk their lives for the regime. There is a lack of unity and nationalism there that stems from the fractured demographics of the country, the nature of the regime itself among other things. In a state as tiny and as vulnerable as Israel, however, where military conscription is universal and where you have a traditionally strong military culture, the stakes are much, much higher if a serious chasm develops between the state and its people.

23367  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bernard Hopkins advises Rashad Evans on: August 12, 2011, 07:34:53 AM
23368  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iraq's divided Shia complicate Iran's plans on: August 12, 2011, 06:55:03 AM
Thursday, August 11, 2011   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

Iraq's Divided Shia Complicate Iran's Regional Plans

An AFP report on Wednesday quoted radical Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr criticizing Iran, his principal benefactor. Al-Sadr claimed that he had asked Tehran to hand over a renegade leader of his movement, Abu Deraa (who was thrown out of the al-Sadrite movement some three years ago and has been living in the Islamic Republic ever since), but Iranian authorities refused to do so. “The one who must be eliminated is not being eliminated, and the one who needs shelter is not sheltered,” remarked al-Sadr.

“Intra-Shia rifts in Iraq represent the biggest challenge to Tehran’s efforts to consolidate influence in Baghdad. The divisions among Shia place serious arrestors in the path of the Persian Islamist state and its ambitions of becoming a regional player”
These remarks are rather extraordinary, considering the close ties that al-Sadr has enjoyed with Iran, a nation where he has spent most of the past three years. Al-Sadr, with his Iraqi nationalist credentials and his independent streak, has never been fully under Iranian control. These latest remarks, however, suggest a shift is under way in this patron-client relationship.

From Iran’s point of view, a wide range of Iraqi Shiite political and militant entities are needed to maintain influence in its western neighbor. Al-Sadr has always known that his group is one of many Shiite assets that the Iranians have in his country. However, it appears that Iran’s support for entities that have splintered from his movement is now beginning to threaten al-Sadr’s political plans, and he is speaking out.

This apparent souring of relations comes at a time when Iran is focused on the prospect of filling the geopolitical vacuum that will exist once the U.S. military withdraws from Iraq by the end of the year. Intra-Shia rifts in Iraq represent the biggest challenge to Tehran’s efforts to consolidate influence in Baghdad. The divisions among Shia place serious arresters in the path of the Persian Islamist state and its ambitions of becoming a regional player. This dissent is comforting for both the region’s Sunni Arab countries and the United States as they look for ways in which to stem the rising Iranian tide.

Only a few months ago, Saudi Arabia prevented Iran from exploiting popular unrest in Bahrain, despite the protests being led largely by Bahrain’s majority Shia and being targeted to undermine the stability of the Sunni monarchy. As in Iraq, Bahraini intra-Shia differences worked counter to Iran’s strategic impetus. But divisions among Shiite communities are endemic across the region, a part of the historical evolution of the minority Islamic sect.

The fragmented nature of Shia communities has its roots in the structure of Shia religious leadership. The clergy hold a very strong role in Shia Islam. Shia are obligated to follow a cleric known as marjaa taqleed. Clearly, every community has multiple clerics who in turn become rival centers of power.

Despite the preeminent position enjoyed by the clerics, Shiite politics have no shortage of non-clerical rival political forces. Between the clerics who concern themselves with religious matters and the non-clerics who focus on political matters, there exists the clerics who double as politicians. Add competing ideological trends to this mix, and the result is the highly fragmented Iraqi Shia landscape.

In spite of this factionalized state of affairs, the Iranians have been successful in pulling together a single Shiite coalition that currently dominates the Iraqi state. This alliance, however, remains extremely tenuous. The Iranians will have to continuously spend a great deal of resources to hold this coalition together, which in turn means that they will likely struggle to dominate Iraq for the foreseeable future.

23369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine, 1776 on: August 12, 2011, 06:52:41 AM
"Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to 'bind me in all cases whatsoever' to his absolute will, am I to suffer it?" --Thomas Paine, The American Crises, No. 1, 1776
23370  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 12, 2011, 12:15:11 AM

Rioting for Fun and Profit
Paul A. Rahe · 9 hours ago

The riots in Britain are instructive. There is, according to The Wall Street Journal, one neighborhood where the rioters backed off. In the North London neighborhood of Dalton, we are told,

Hundreds of Turkish and Kurdish men, many armed with broken billiard cues, poured onto the streets to protect their businesses and homes from the kind of mayhem that was laying waste to other parts of London.

"They created a barrier and chased the kids back," said Burcu Bay, who works as a waitress at Tugra, a Turkish sweet shop and cafe on Dalston's main thoroughfare. "It was like being in a war."

What happened in Dalston, an area defined by its large Turkish and Kurdish immigrant community, was a rare instance of locals uniting to defy the wave of violence that has swept London in recent nights, leaving a trail of burned-out buildings, looted shops and broken glass. In other areas, rioters encountered little resistance, as terrified locals took cover and stretched police were.

The clashes in Dalston, a ramshackle neighborhood of pawn shops, Turkish social clubs and kebab joints, began when a gang of about 50 youths approached the area from the east, setting fire to a bus and smashing in the windows of a chain restaurant, a bank and an electrical goods shop.

Dozens of local men came out on the street to block their progress. Over the course of the evening, they pushed back the heavily outnumbered troublemakers in three separate surges, driving them away from a cluster of Turkish-owned shops and businesses. Women and elderly men sought refuge in local cafés to watch the clashes from a safe distance.

In some instances, skirmishes turned violent. "The police wanted to arrest one of my friends because he punched some of the guys," said a waiter at the Somine restaurant. "We didn't let them."

A key driver behind the locals' response was the strong sense of communal identity among Turkish and Kurdish residents of Dalston, who saw the rioters as a kind of alien invasion. "These people weren't local," said the waiter. "We've been here for ten years and would have known them if they were from the area."

The article – written by Guy Chazan and Jeanne Whalen with help from Peter Evans – is a nice piece of reporting. It tells you everything that you need to know – right down to the crucial fact that the police wanted to arrest one man for punching a thug intent on stealing his property. What is happening right now in London and in cities to the north could best be described as a self-inflicted wound.

Do you remember the riots a year or two ago in Paris and in other French cities and the burning of cars along the Champs Ėlysées? What you may not remember is something else that was reported in passing at the time – that, for some years prior to these riots, one hundred cars a night were being torched in the cities of France. I passed through Paris not long after these events, and a French professor I know told me that this latter piece of news came as a real shock to her. The truth is that the police had, in effect, abandoned the Muslim neighborhoods and that impecunious, hard-working Muslims living in these neighborhoods, men and women who had scrimped and saved to buy jalopies, had been losing them to the thugs for some time. None of this was reported until the disorders spread from the slums in the suburbs to the wealthy districts of Paris.

Something of the same sort can be said about Britain as well. There are two dimensions to the British story. First – although what we call the right to bear arms had its origins as an English right, guaranteed in the 1688/89 Declaration of Rights and Bill of Rights – that right was  gradually abrogated in the course of the twentieth century. Second – although the right to self-defense, the right to defend one’s person and property when the authorities cannot in a timely and effective fashion provide protection – is a natural right and had always, until recently, been recognized as such in Britain – that right, too, was abrogated in the course of the last century. There is a very fine book on the subject by my friend Joyce Lee Malcolm, author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right. Entitled Guns and Violence: The English Experience, it was published by Harvard University Press seven years ago. Her two books ought to be force-fed to every member of Parliament.

For some time now – and this was already true, alas, in the Thatcher years – the political class (Labour, Tory, and Liberal) has been united behind the principle that these matters must be left to the police – that, if one’s life or limbs are in danger, one can of course use force to defend one’s person but that one cannot rightfully lift a finger to defend one’s property and that, if the attack extends to one’s person, the force that one deploys in its defense must be strictly proportionate to the threat. If, for example, your home was burglarized over and over again and you secured a gun, a knife, or a baseball bat and killed or harmed an intruder, you would go to prison for a long stay.

I am not making this up. I was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford between 1971 and 1974. I was a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge in the spring of 1999, and I was a visiting fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 2005/6. In the quarter-century that passed between my first stint in the UK and my second, Britain changed. I remember a man living in a rural area being sent to prison for what amounted to life for killing someone who had repeatedly broken into his home.

I remember other things as well. When I was at Cambridge University, my wife and I went into London one evening to go to the opera. Our return on the train was decidedly uncomfortable. Our car – and the other cars nearby – came to be filled with young women and men (mostly the latter) who were drunk and disorderly. There was no one on the train to prevent them from making our trip a real misery. Had we said a word, I have no doubt that the crowd would have turned on us. It reminds me a bit of what it was like in New York City in the summer of 1969. The hooligans were in command.

In fact, it was worse than that. One evening, a group of thugs took the train into Cambridge from a nearby town, walked to Clare Hall, hurled bricks through the windows, broke into the apartments, stole computers, then marched to the train station and journeyed home. No one was ever caught.

I am told that fewer than ten percent of burglaries are solved and that, of those who are convicted, fewer than ten percent do time. In effect, there is no law and there is no order in Britain. You cannot bear arms. You are denied the means of self-defense. It is illegal to use force to defend your property. If you use “disproportionate force” in defending your person, you can and will be jailed. It is demanded that you leave all such matters to the police, and law enforcement is ineffectual. Not surprisingly, even before the riots that Britain is suffering right now, theft and violent crime were considerably greater there than in the United States.

In Britain, they have a lot to learn – or relearn – and it is an open question whether these recent events will give rise to a bout of a rethinking or not. I rather doubt that David Cameron has the backbone, and one cannot look to the Liberals or to Labour. Those associated with the last-mentioned party, which is out of power right now, will whine and whine about “social justice.” In the United Kingdom, as in the United States, a left-liberal is someone who pities the criminal, not the victim.

In the US, we are generally better off. For one thing, we incarcerate criminals. There has been much hand-wringing about this in recent years, as our own left-liberals fulminate against the incarceration rate. But there is one truth that cannot be gainsaid: a criminal who is locked up is not on the streets committing crimes. Lock them up and the crime rate will go down (as it has in the US).

We are better off in other ways as well. The right to bear arms is not only given lip service here. In recent years, it has been reasserted by the Supreme Court. Moreover, in many states, one has a right to defend one’s property. In those states, if someone breaks into my home, I can kill him with impunity. And, finally, thanks in part to the example of Rudy Giuliani in New York, we have policing methods aimed at concentrating attention on high-crime areas and on harassing criminals that really work.

The appearance of flash mobs in Philadelphia and Chicago is, however, a warning. I would like to know more than I do about the incarceration rate in Pennsylvania and Illinois, about the policing methods used, and about the laws pertinent to the right of a shopkeeper to gun down thieves.

In times like these, it is useful to remember the immortal words of John Adams: “We talk of liberty and property, but, if we cut up the law of self-defence, we cut up the foundation of both. . . . If a robber meets me in the street, and commands me to surrender my purse, I have a right to kill him without asking questions.” 

23371  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / A member of the Unorganized Militia steps in on: August 11, 2011, 10:54:25 PM
23372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: August 11, 2011, 10:44:17 PM
A VERY valid point, but one distinct from the investment POV.
23373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 11, 2011, 10:43:11 PM
Initial snap impressions:

IMHO Fox made a mistake in letting the audience make noise.

*Santorum:  Had some good moments, but his numbers will not noticeably improve.   Time to go.
*Cain:  Much improved, but ditto
*Ron Paul:  Had several good moments, but some awkward ones.  His numbers will do well, but ultimately he will not be the candidate.  His distinct and confident approach to foreign affairs, loudly cheered by an audience full of his supporters, presents a contrast with the indistinct positions of the other candidates.  This is a point I have mentioned previously-- traditional Rep coherence on foreign affairs, traditionally a strong issue for them, is not to be found at present.
*Newt Gringrich:  A good night for Newt and his numbers should move up.  I like Chris Wallace, but he definitely is a Washington insider type (very funny watching him interview Glenn Beck at the height of GB's ratings-- clearly he just id not get it) and it chuckled me (and I suspect many people) to see him bitch slap CW-- who responded with self-importance.
*Bachman:  Held her own, numbers should remain solid, but over IMHO some chinks remain in her armor.
*Pawlenty:  His mission to go after Bachman I do not think served him well and a lot of his statements seemed canned.  I think his numbers will compel him to withdraw.  A decent man, but IMHO he just is not going to get traction.
*Romney: Remains the leader.
*Huntsman: remains a Bushie pipe dream.  He remains a non-entity.

23374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 11, 2011, 10:28:01 PM
JDN:  Search on the SCH forum for an interesting and controversial article by Charles Murray on that very question.
23375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: August 11, 2011, 10:25:51 PM
Good luck and prosperity to both of us  smiley
23376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: August 11, 2011, 05:39:08 PM
CounterPOV:  Popped bubbles don't bounce.
23377  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: August 11, 2011, 12:43:27 PM

I am sure that will not be a problem.


At the moment I am having some serious problems with my email program, so please use this thread as a backstop.
23378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Cats and other felines on: August 11, 2011, 12:01:20 AM
23379  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / British humor alive and well on: August 10, 2011, 11:53:41 PM
23380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pistol packin' Playmate on: August 10, 2011, 11:43:01 PM

A Playboy playmate was charged with firearm offenses after attempting to board a plane in Florida with a loaded handgun in her bag, the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday.

Shanna Marie McLaughlin, Playboy's Miss July 2010, was arrested around 6:35pm Monday at Orlando International Airport as she attempted to board a plane to Los Angeles.

The 26-year-old, who has a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon, told police that the bag she was carrying was hers, but that she did not know that her boyfriend had put his loaded .45 caliber Colt revolver in it.

The model was jailed Monday on charges of carrying a firearm in a place prohibited by law, but has since been released, the Sentinel reported.

McLaughlin's former school, the University of Central Florida, had to apologize publicly last year after she was photographed scantily clad in a sports locker room for a magazine spread.

McLaughlin was back in the headlines last month when she publicly lent her support to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, who had been criticized by his former fiance Crystal Harris over his sexual prowess.

Read more:

23381  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 10, 2011, 10:18:36 PM
Heck, everyone should be reading this forum grin
23382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Art Laffer on: August 10, 2011, 10:15:37 PM
23383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another GB prediction coming true on: August 10, 2011, 08:02:57 PM
23384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq Administration: Jerusalem not in Israel on: August 10, 2011, 07:58:33 PM
23385  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: August 10, 2011, 07:53:36 PM
Grateful for a painful insight last night.
23386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: August 10, 2011, 07:52:49 PM
OK, I think we have mined this particular vein enough for right now  cheesy
23387  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The American solution on: August 10, 2011, 07:49:20 PM

If British shopkeepers had the right to bear arms, vicious thugs would think twice before looting

By Nile Gardiner
Last updated: August 10th, 2011

Turks on the streets of Dalston on Monday night
During the Los Angeles riots in 1992, many store owners in the south central part of the city defended their property against marauding gangs with their own weapons, and succeeded in protecting their livelihoods and thousands of jobs that depended on them. And across the country, Americans admired their bravery, thankful for the Second Amendment to the US Constitution which protects their right to keep and bear arms, and thereby defend themselves, their families and their property. In contrast in London in 2011, shopkeepers were left at the mercy of feral, brutal thugs acting with impunity across whole swathes of the capital as the police were overwhelmed. If they had the right to bear arms and defend their stores with force, it would have been a very different story, and brutal looters would have met firm resistance.
Britain’s gun laws are among the most draconian in the world, yet the nation has some of the highest levels of violent crime and burglary in the West, and there is no shortage of gun crime in major cities such as London and Manchester. While criminal gangs are often able to acquire firearms on the black market, ordinary law-abiding British citizens are barred from owning guns for self-defence.
The riots in London, the West Midlands and the North West should prompt a renewed debate in Britain over the right to bear arms by private citizens. The shocking scenes of looting across the country are a reminder that the police cannot always be relied upon to protect homes and businesses during a period of widespread social disorder. The defence of life and property can never be entrusted solely to the state, not least when there is a complete breakdown in law and order. As we have seen this week in Britain, when individuals are barred from defending their own property from mobs of vicious thugs, sheer anarchy and terror reins
23388  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The UK riots on: August 10, 2011, 07:40:20 PM
A lot of obvious stuff in here, but perhaps one or two points worthy of consideration:

Vice President of Tactical Intelligence Scott Stewart discusses personal safety during mob violence situations while using the recent London riots as an example.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

In today’s Dispatch we’re going to change gears a little bit and take a tactical and a practical look at riots and using the topic of the London riots, discuss how people should behave and what you should do when riots happen.

It needs to be understood that riots and mob activity can and quite frequently do turn violent. It is still very important for regular citizens just to maintain a heightened alert of situational awareness during times of civil disobedience. So what you’re going to want to do is really keep alert as to what’s going on through the news media. You are going to obviously want to keep your eyes and ears open to see what is happening on the street outside your hotel or outside your residence or business. In a lot of recent riots including the London riot, there have been a lot of rumors that the protesters are actually using twitter and instant messaging and blackberries to coordinate their movements. If you can find out which twitter feeds that the protesters are using, that can allow you to really monitor where they’re going, what their intentions are and that can also help you stay one step ahead of them and help you stay out of trouble.

If you are a foreigner you are going to want to make sure that you’re connected with your government and with your embassy. A lot of governments allow you to register and they will send out either text warnings or email warnings to you that will let you know when things are going on. One of the positive things about being registered with your embassy is that if it does become necessary to evacuate from a country — especially a Third World country that’s kind of remote — it’s nice to be on the Embassy system so they know you’re there, they will be looking for you and they will account for you when they are looking for space to get you out whether it is on a ship or an aircraft.

If you are a resident in a city like London or you’re just a visitor, the second thing that you want to do is to start looking at your contingency plans and your fly-away kit. You want to make sure that you have everything you need packed and ready to go in case you need to run. It’s also important to remember that most security measures and physical security measures were made to protect against one threat but not really the mob violence threat. Many times in a mob violence type situation, they can turn into a confining cage that can actually endanger you. If a mob has time and they have sledgehammers, pipes, they can break through bulletproof windows or bullet resistant windows, they can break through heavy doors and they can get into a facility given that time. It may take a half-hour, it may take 40 minutes but they can get through those the security measures so just because you have good security at your site, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be prepared to get out of there and to fly to safety.

One of the things after we’ve gotten intelligence on our eyes, once we examine our contingency plans and our fly-away kits we also then want to figure out exactly where our line is when we’re going to want to withdraw, and this is going to be something that each individual is going to have to come up with themselves; when the rioters get to such and such an intersection such and such block, this is the place where I’m going to want to make my escape and get out of the area.

There are also different kinds of mob violence and it’s important to remember that. In cases like London it’s basically general, you have a lot of looting and some of this is really kind of a financially motivated. You have kids that are hitting sporting goods stores to steal sneakers, they are hitting electronics stores; it’s not really directed against any one group or any sort of ethnicity. However, there are other cases we’ve seen some past London riots, for example the May Day riots in 2000, we had a very anti-globalization campaign going on and in those kinds of riots multinational corporations and hotels and banks and restaurants were attacked just because they were a part of these globalized chains. So really understanding what the riots are about, what’s motivating the mob and who they are going to target is very important in creating your plan and creating your understanding of when you need to pull out of the area. Once the mob is attacking there’s really very little that a person can do to defend themselves or their property and it’s really at that point where you need to forget about the property and be much more concerned about saving life.

23389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 10, 2011, 02:32:11 PM
A pitch based upon experience is quite relevant, but the essential point is as posited by CCP.
23390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: August 10, 2011, 02:29:31 PM
Good find, thanks for that.
23391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: August 10, 2011, 02:25:30 PM
Baaad Dog GM cheesy  Rubbing a dog's nose in his mess is considered poor methodolgy cheesy
23392  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: August 10, 2011, 02:23:55 PM
I can do that smiley
23393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: August 10, 2011, 12:01:23 PM
That's not the point being made.
23394  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The UK riots on: August 10, 2011, 12:00:28 PM
Good idea grin

I'm hearing that the authorities are telling neighborhoods NOT to organize  huh
23395  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Dealing with Social Breakdown on: August 10, 2011, 10:32:08 AM
I'd like to open a discussion about what a citizen is to do when living in the UK context.  Guns are not a legal option, nor are knives.  What to do?  (I gather the sales of baseball bats have gone through the roof.) What else?   Worth thinking about:  How to organize the neighborhood?
23396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: August 10, 2011, 10:28:17 AM
We agree!
23397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: August 10, 2011, 09:53:56 AM
Even though I don't really trust CNN and thus wonder if the numbers are exaggerated, I can't say that I doubt them being in the right direction.  There is a reason one of the Ten Commandments is about not coveting they neighbor's stuff-- envy and the politics of envy come as easily to human nature as they are destructive.

The Republicans and the Tea Party are going to need to man up on this and frontally attack on the basis of exposing just how dishonest the numbers the Progressives are and just how bad the Truth is and how little even 100% taxes would actually accomplish.  Congressman Ryan is the best I have seen at this.
23398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: August 10, 2011, 09:48:35 AM
To be precise here, Baraq did run and get elected on Afpakia being "the right war"-- which was a major strand in the line of thoughts against Bush.  Yes his concept of how to wage it is incoherent (Vital we win, but we are going to start leaving in 18 months) but the logic of his mini-Surge inherently is to bring it to the enemy much more than the also not very coherent strategy from Bush.
23399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: August 10, 2011, 09:42:20 AM
"We have heard of the impious doctrine in the old world, that the people were made for kings, not kings for the people. Is the same doctrine to be revived in the new, in another shape - that the solid happiness of the people is to be sacrificed to the views of political institutions of a different form? It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object." --James Madison, Federalist No. 45
23400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Weatherman Willian Ayers is VP for AERA! on: August 09, 2011, 06:13:01 PM
Read below how William Ayers, unrepentant Weather Underground domestic terrorist, is actually Vice President for Curriculum Studies at the American Educational Research Association (AARA), the nation's largest organization of Education school professors and researchers.  And you think it's an accident that our public school teachers are being taught to teach our school children anti-capitalist, anti-American, pro-Socialist ideas, including that America is a racist, sexist, oppressive nation?:
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