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23401  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Boxing Thread on: June 06, 2009, 06:39:01 PM
Anyone have any good clips to share of Jersey Joe Walcott and/or George Forman after his comeback?
23402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Aristotle on: June 06, 2009, 05:47:16 PM
Third post of the day:

I began read a book today (author's name is East Euro so I fear to assay spelling it from memory) and he referenced Aristotle's concept of man pursuing happiness.

Now where have we heard that phrase before?

Does anyone have any input on the Aristotlean concept and its influence on our Founding Fathers?
23403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: June 06, 2009, 12:11:31 PM
Dunno, but does not the term "tax credit" mean a one-to-one relationship with taxes paid?  In contrast, a deduction is worth only the % paid on the income/gain-- yes? 

Thus, if I am correct, most any taxes paid by these people (no doubt there will be some exceptions) will be applicable here.

Of course, the devil is in the details.
23404  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 06, 2009, 11:58:47 AM
"GM's immediate post is exactly on mark, identify and giving an excellent example of a "mistreatment" of non muslims in a discriminatory way. Indefensible." 

Agreed!

"In contrast, Boyo's post was not an example of discriminatory mistreatment of non muslims and therefore I disagreed."

Fair enough.

"But I will do further research on past posts."

Thank you.
23405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 06, 2009, 10:25:19 AM
JDN:

Since you are relatively new around here, you may not been here or found the time to go back through the various threads on Islam.  If/when you do, you will find a plethora of material such as GM just posted. 

Marc
23406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Second not incorporated on: June 06, 2009, 10:19:21 AM
Sotomayor Guns For The 2nd Amendment

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, June 04, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Gun Control: In a case headed for the Supreme Court, a three-judge panel rules Chicago's gun ban constitutional since the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply to states and cities. High court nominee Sonia Sotomayor concurs.

Those Pennsylvania townsfolk bitterly clinging to their guns may have been premature in celebrating the decision in D.C. v. Heller that the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does indeed guarantee an individual right to keep and bear arms.

In Heller, the Supreme Court overturned the District of Columbia's draconian, 32-year-old gun ban. It barred most of the district's residents from owning handguns and required that all legal firearms be kept unloaded or disassembled under trigger lock. If predators broke into your house, some assembly would be required.

When the district rejected his application to keep a firearm in his home to protect his family, Dick Anthony Heller, an armed security guard, did not think it was a reasonable restriction on his 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. So he sued.

In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court ruled that the 2nd Amendment indeed protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
An individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the 2nd Amendment was adopted, Justice Scalia wrote.

Not so fast. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected subsequent suits brought by the National Rifle Association against the city of Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, both of which believe the Constitution prevents citizens from defending themselves.

The Circuit Court decision was written by Judge Frank Easterbrook and joined by Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer. Easterbrook's reasoning is fascinating. According to him, the Revolution was fought and independence won so that the Founding Fathers could write a Constitution with a Bill of Rights that applied only to the District of Columbia.

"Heller dealt with a law enacted under the authority of the national government," Easterbrook wrote, "while Chicago and Oak Park are subordinate bodies of a state." We're all for federalism, but the U.S. Constitution is the U.S. Constitution.

Surely he can't be serious. But he is, and agreeing with him is Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals examined in Maloney v. Cuomo a claim by a New York attorney that a New York law prohibiting possession of "nunchucks," a martial arts weapon, violated his 2nd Amendment rights.

Sotomayor and the 2nd Circuit affirmed a lower court's decision that the 2nd Amendment applies only to federal laws and not to states or municipalities.

"We clearly disagree with the court's conclusions," NRA attorney William Howard told Bloomberg. The next step will be an appeal to the Supreme Court. Sonia Sotomayor will likely be sitting on that court.

President Obama's opinion on the 2nd Amendment has been ambivalent. He says he supports an individual's right to bear arms. Yet the Nov. 23, 2008, Chicago Tribune said Obama believed in the right of local communities to enact common-sense laws to combat violence and save lives and that he believed the D.C. handgun law was constitutional.

In a 1996 campaign questionnaire, Obama wrote that he supported "banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns." He says now that it was filled out by an aide who misrepresented his views. We don't believe total gun bans, whether in Washington, D.C., or Oak Park, Ill., are a common-sense restriction that saves lives. We believe that guns save the lives of innocent people daily and that more guns mean less crime.

Surely a wise Latina with varied life experiences such as Sotomayor can feel empathy for the unarmed and defenseless potential victims vulnerable to armed predators in this country.
23407  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: June 06, 2009, 08:59:01 AM
Due to some business problems on other fronts, this project has been languishing.  We WILL get to it.
23408  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Obama now wants your pocket knife on: June 06, 2009, 08:57:54 AM
http://www.pgnh.org/obama_now_wants_your_pocket_knife
Pro-Gun New Hampshire


Obama Now Wants Your Pocket Knife
by Evan F. Nappen, Esq.
June 4, 2009


Beware! That folding knife in your pocket may turn you into a criminal if the Obama administration gets its way. Although there has been a lot of fear and speculation that the new administration wants to take your guns, the most pressing threat now is actually to your pocket knives. With the changing of the guard at U.S. Customs, that agency has now embarked on redefining "switchblades" under federal law to include a wide variety of one hand opening knives that never were intended to be prohibited. In fact, many of the knives U.S. Customs now seek to prohibit under the Federal Switchblade Law had not even been invented at the time of its enactment! Furthermore, four previous U.S. Customs ruling letters (prior administrations) specifically determined "assisted opening" knives not to be defined as switchblades.

This new proposed U.S. Customs regulation is so broad that thousands of pocket knives will fall under its sweep and millions of knife owners will be affected. The problem is not simply that imports will be banned (which is bad enough), but that the "agency determination" will be used by domestic courts and law enforcement to determine what a "switchblade" is under both federal and state laws. Many states, including New Hampshire, fail to define switchblades and simply rely on the federal definition.

Luckily, the two premiere knife organizations in the US, American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI) and Kniferights.org, are fighting hard on this issue, but they both need your immediate help. Customs is attempting to jam this new regulation though at record speed.

As stated on the www.kniferights.org website:

U.S. Customs has proposed revoking earlier rulings that assisted opening knives are not switchblades. The proposed new rule would not only outlaw assisted opening knives its broad definition could also easily be interpreted to include one-handed opening knives and even most other pocket knives.
Note that customs interpretation of the Federal Switchblade Act forms the basis for national, state and even local law and judicial rulings in many cases. The effect is NOT limited to just imports.
As stated on the www.akti.org website:

URGENT NEWS - U.S. Customs Proposal would characterize assisted-openers as switchblade knives and jeopardize all pocket knives.  On behalf of the entire sporting knife industry and knife owners across the country, AKTI will be filing an official response to U.S. Customs.   
This is the biggest threat to American knife owners in U.S. history. AKTI informs us that this "Customs' proposal will make criminal out of 35.6 million Americans."

AKTI further states:

U.S. Customs proposes to bypass Congress and expand the switchblade definition to include all knives that open with one hand. These include multi-tools, traditional pocket knives, one-hand openers, and assisted-openers.

More than 35.6 million law-abiding Americans now own one-hand-openingknives in one of the above four categories.
The U.S. Customs proposed new rule and the four prior letters they want to overturn can be read in their entirety here: http://www.akti.org/PDFS/U.S.CustomsProposedRuling.pdf

AKTI suggests that to register your opposition to the U.S. Customs'plan (19  CFR  Part 177) to re-classify assisted openers and all folding knives; address your comments by June 21, 2009, to:

19  CFR  Part 177
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Office of International Trade, Regulations and Rulings
Attention: Intellectual Property and Restricted Merchandise Branch
Mint Annex,   799 Ninth St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20229

 
 
23409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GOP plan on: June 06, 2009, 08:38:01 AM
GOP Health Plan Contrasts With Obamacare

While Democrats fret about how to find another $1.5 trillion to pay for their scheme to expand government health care to include all Americans, congressional Republicans have introduced their alternative Patients' Choice Act. The Act, which has no chance of passage by a Democrat-controlled Congress committed to expanding federal bureaucracy and power, is an attempt to redirect $300 billion in federal tax deductions from the employer-based health system that was created after World War II.

Under the proposal, families would qualify for tax credits of $5,700 a year and individuals $2,300 to buy insurance and invest in health savings accounts. Up to one-fourth of any unspent money in the accounts could be rolled over to the next year. The bill would allow lower-income Americans a way out of the Medicaid trap rapidly careening toward its inevitable bankruptcy less than eight years hence because it is $34 trillion in debt. In fact, Medicare is so deep in debt that devoting 100 percent of GDP to it still won't make this single government program solvent.

Despite admitting the insolvency of our national finances when he said last week, "[W]e are out of money," Barack Obama is trying to sell the notion that the proposed federal takeover of 18 percent of the nation's economy via his new health care plans somehow helps the nation economically. Obama also suggested myopically that $200 billion could be shaved from Medicare over the next 10 years (the program is bankrupt about three years earlier) even though a majority of physicians now refuse to see Medicare patients because of artificially low reimbursement rates. Instead of squandering the nation's future health care with legions of expensive bureaucrats, the GOP alternative deserves serious consideration because it doesn't cost the taxpayers anything and doesn't require the creation of a massive government bureaucracy to operate.
23410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / SC SCT forces Gov to take Fed money :-( on: June 06, 2009, 08:36:02 AM
second post of the morning:

PatriotPost

S.C. Supreme Court Says Gov. Sanford Must Take Stimulus Cash
The long-running debate between the Republican governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, and the Republican-controlled state legislature came to an unfortunate conclusion Thursday as the state's Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Sanford must request the $700 billion in federal funding he had thus far refused. Sanford had argued that taking the money now would mean more debt later as the services continued but federal funds were gone. He wanted instead to pay down the state's debt with the money, if he had to take it at all. The Republicans in the legislature, however, stole a page from the Democrats' playbook and accused the governor of cheating schools out of money. After all, it's always a losing proposition to try to hold education spending steady, much less cut it, because not enough people see that as education spending has gone through the roof over the last 40 years, the quality of education has gone down. Regardless, Sanford will not appeal the decision but lamented the missed chance to show other states "a different way than simply taking this money and spending it."
23411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / from PatriotPost. on: June 06, 2009, 08:30:30 AM
Last week, we reported on a bill introduced by Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) to eliminate "birthright citizenship" for children of illegal aliens. We erred in stating, "Birthright citizenship has been in place since the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868..." The 14th Amendment does not confer citizenship on the children of illegal aliens born on U.S. soil as we implied.

Patriot reader and Harding University political science professor Cheri Pierson Yecke wrote in to clear up the matter. She noted that birthright citizenship "began with the Supreme Court decision of United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898). SCOTUS shamefully ignored congressional intent and gave the following opinion: 'A child born in the United States, of parents of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicile and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth a citizen of the United States, by virtue of the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."'"

Dr. Yecke added, "As can be seen in the Senate debate on the 14th Amendment (39th Congress, First Session), a provision for 'anchor babies' was never the intent of Congress." Sen. Jacob Howard (R-MI) argued for adding the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" to the Amendment, saying, "This [Amendment] will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors, or foreign ministers..."

In other news designed to create more Democrat voters, the Obama administration vacated a rule implemented by the Bush administration limiting access to an attorney for illegal aliens facing deportation. According to the Associated Press, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey "had issued a 33-page decision in January saying the Constitution does not entitle someone facing deportation to have a case reopened based upon shoddy work by a lawyer. Mukasey also said, however, that Justice Department officials have the discretion to reopen such cases if they choose."

From the Department of Injustice
Charges of voter intimidation against three members of the "New" Black Panther Party were dropped this week by the Obama Justice Department. It should have been an open-and-shut case of voter intimidation and harassment. Men in paramilitary uniforms, at least some of whom belonged to Louis Farrakhan's infamous Nation of Islam, were caught on videotape standing in front of a Philadelphia precinct blocking the doorway while voters tried to enter on Election Day last November. The thugs, one of whom brandished a club, cast menacing stares and racial epithets at white voters in line.

The men responsible were charged and the Obama administration actually won the case, but they moved to dismiss the charges on May 15. No justifiable explanation has been given, but we can reasonably suspect that it's primarily because Obama doesn't want to anger his constituents. A spokesman for the Justice Department had the nerve to state, "The department is committed to the vigorous prosecution of those who intimidate, threaten or coerce anyone exercising his or her sacred right to vote." The department clearly did not do that in this situation. Liberal civil rights attorney Bartle Bull was a witness and is leading the charge against the administration's actions.

Meanwhile, the "Justice" Department rejected a program put in place by Georgia's Secretary of State Karen Handel to screen state databases to flag ineligible voters. Their excuse was that the program was inaccurate and discriminatory, though they refused to share the information that led to that conclusion. Handel, who is a Republican candidate for governor, noted that the decision would lead to a flood of non-qualified voters. She also noted the irony that Justice was on board for the program when it was created. What changed? The ruling party in Washington, and the new bosses want wide open voter rolls with no restrictions on eligibility because it makes it easier for them to rig elections.
23412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / #$%^#%$^!!! on: June 06, 2009, 08:26:43 AM
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Uniting American Families Act, which, according to The New York Times, "would allow American citizens and legal immigrants to seek residency in the United States for their same-sex partners, just as spouses now petition for foreign-born husbands and wives." Also this week, President Obama signed a proclamation officially declaring June "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month." One part of the proclamation stood out to us: "LGBT Americans ... have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic." It's also true that they have played a major role in spreading the HIV pandemic.
23413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / AZ fights subsidies of private sector on: June 06, 2009, 08:23:57 AM


By DARCY OLSEN
By any reading of the man, George W.P. Hunt -- Arizona's first governor -- was a progressive Democrat. He favored creating an income tax, extending the right to vote to women, and passing compulsory education laws. But when it came to drafting a constitution that would bring Arizona into the union as the 48th state, "Old Walrus," as he was called for his weight of about 300 lbs and his handlebar mustache, presided over a convention in 1910 that banned nearly all government subsidies to private business.

Hunt would probably be amazed at what's happening in Arizona today, as the old battles are once again being fought -- this time in the state Supreme Court, which is taking up a lawsuit to determine whether cities can give subsidies to private companies.

Arizona's founders banned gifts to private companies as the result of bitter experience. In the closing decades of the 19th century, local governments borrowed money to force-feed private railroad development. Pima County outside of Tucson, for example, took out $300,000 in bonds in 1882 for a railroad that promised to build some 100 miles of track. The money was spent but the railroad dissolved after a mere 10 miles of track was constructed. The bonds were worthless, but taxpayers were still on the hook for the money.

This time around it's shopping malls and the like, and the preferred subsidy is tax rebates rather than bonds. But the result is the same. Local governments are foisting the cost of private development onto taxpayers as private companies promise that with just a few tax dollars they will create a wealth of new jobs.

People aren't buying it, and there's a revolt underway against government subsidized megaprojects. In November, voters elected mayors in Mesa, Scottsdale and Tempe who promised to fight taxpayer subsidies. In Phoenix, voters have elected three candidates to the city council who oppose wooing developers with taxpayer money. And it is in Phoenix where the biggest fight is taking place.

Two years ago, the city signed a contract with developer Thomas J. Klutznick, who is building an outdoor mall. The city has to rebate to him $97.4 million in sales taxes over the next 11 years, in return for which it gets 200 parking spaces for commuters catching a municipal bus. The mall, called CityNorth, will be home to an Ann Taylor Loft and other retailers, as well as residential apartments that are already being rented. Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts summed up the deal earlier this year by noting the city will spend about $487,000 for each commuter parking spot. "Wouldn't it be cheaper to just chopper them in to work?" she wrote.

Nonetheless, CityNorth is the kind of project that city planners dream about as they seek to remake urban landscapes -- grand in scale as it stretches 144 acres, and grand in impact as it serves tens of thousands of residents and shoppers. City officials promise it will create a "second downtown" for Phoenix.

That second downtown will be at the expense of employers who are lured away from other cities, and give companies in the new mall a tax advantage over business outside of it. That's hardly fair, so the Goldwater Institute, a free-market think tank in Phoenix that I run, sued Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon in state court on behalf of Meyer Turken, who owns a real estate company, and five business owners. The suit seeks to enforce the provision in Old Walrus's constitution that bans government handouts. The provision is known as the "Gift Clause."

We lost the first round in the case, but two days before Christmas last year the Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the lower court ruling and said, "We think these payments are exactly what the Gift Clause was intended to prohibit." Phoenix then took Turken v. Gordon to the state Supreme Court, which this week agreed to hear the case.

Cities across Arizona are waiting to see what the court does. This has become a fight over just how involved in the economy government should be allowed to get -- whether local and state governments should be in the business of bolstering some, but not others, with tax breaks.

Government-sponsored development isn't popular. Public Opinion Strategies polling found earlier this year that 80% of Phoenix taxpayers oppose their city's subsidies for CityNorth and agree that the developer and the retailers who move into the new mall "should pay their own way." The subsidy is also attracting opposition outside of Phoenix. Last week, Mayor W.J. Lane of neighboring Scottsdale won support from his city council to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of our lawsuit.

New York, Maryland and 34 other states have gift clauses similar to Arizona's. Thus, Arizona's legal precedent could influence how local and state governments approach redevelopment across the country. On the federal level, any member of Congress upset with the bailouts of the auto or financial industries might want to consider proposing a Gift Clause amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would explicitly ban bailouts that benefit one company or industry.

When asked about the lawsuit, Phoenix Deputy City Manager David Krietor told a reporter that "This is a landmark case that will dramatically impact our ability to do economic development." He's right. But Mr. Krietor should be considering whether it's right for the government to "do" this at all. As his Democratic progressives came to understand in Old Walrus's day, government payouts to private businesses don't always pay off -- and often it's taxpayers who end up having to pay up.

Ms. Olsen is president & CEO of the Goldwater Institute of Phoenix, Ariz., which is litigating Turken v. Gordon.
23414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Govt. Motors on: June 06, 2009, 08:19:12 AM
THE FOUNDATION
"Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread." --Thomas Jefferson

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Hope 'n' Change: Government Motors
 
Chavez gives Obama the book on nationalization

"I want to disabuse people of this notion that somehow we enjoy, you know, meddling in the private sector." So said Barack Obama in March. But as the president announced General Motors' bankruptcy Monday, it became ever clearer that he is the new CEO of the world's largest automaker. The federal government now owns 60 percent of GM; the United Auto Workers own 17.5 percent. Even Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez recognized the significance: "Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his right!"

In his speech, as columnist Terence Jeffrey points out, "President Obama used the first-person singular pronoun 'I' 34 times when he announced he was nationalizing General Motors. He used 'Congress' once and 'law' not at all."

How could Obama use the word "law"? There is nothing in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) legislation of last fall, much less the U.S. Constitution, that authorizes the bailout or nationalization of an automaker. Of course, when pressed, the administration points to TARP as its authority for giving GM $50 billion in various loans so far, not counting $15 billion for its financial arm, GMAC. In fact, TARP specifically limited funds to financial institutions. The Bush administration used it to make loans to GM and Chrysler anyway after Congress debated but abandoned the "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act," which would have granted bailout money to automakers. Indiana is now challenging the constitutionality of using TARP for GM and Chrysler in federal court.

But never mind such petty details. Obama feels our pain: "I recognize that this may give some Americans pause," he said. Still, he assured us, "What we are not doing -- what I have no interest in doing, is running GM." And while he is running GM, it's only as a "reluctant shareholder because this is the only way to help GM succeed."

That depends on the definition of "succeed." In tandem with the new CAFE standards, the administration wants GM to produce more green cars. As The Wall Street Journal notes, "No one knows if Americans will buy such cars, even if GM can make them competitively in the U.S." Obama has already made clear, however, that it's not about whether Americans want such cars, it's about whether he does.

23415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 06, 2009, 08:15:15 AM
@Doug: You have a PM

========

I would add to Huss's post the enforcement mechanisms behind "not allowed" can be pretty severe. 
23416  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: toronto dbma training camp featuring Crafty Dog, Top Dog and Sled Dog Aug 21-23 on: June 06, 2009, 08:09:55 AM
Things that make you go hmmmm.  smiley
23417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: June 06, 2009, 08:08:44 AM
Well said.
23418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The stictch in time that saved the nine on: June 06, 2009, 08:03:42 AM
I wish he had mentioned the role of FDR's court-packing scheme in all of this:

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

By JEFF ROWES
The growing dispute between conservatives and liberals over the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor obscures a more troubling point of agreement: The government should almost always win.

Many conservatives who think of themselves as proponents of limited government would be surprised to discover that conservative judges begin their constitutional analyses in almost every context by placing a thumb firmly on the government side of the scale. It's called "judicial deference." Many liberals, who take pride in being "empathetic," would be surprised to learn that liberal judges also subscribe to judicial deference.

The practical result is that judges of both persuasions almost never enforce any constitutional limit on the power of government to regulate property and the economy. Given that the vast majority of law concerns these two areas, the real crisis in constitutional law is not judicial "activism" but judicial passivism.

It all began in the late 1930s, when the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for New Deal economic regulation. In essence, conservatives have adopted the big-government agenda of that era. The liberal-conservative consensus explains why nomination fights focus on a few "culture war" issues such as gay marriage or guns. Liberals and conservatives squabble over these esoteric questions because there is such harmonious accord on everything else.

The time-honored justification for judicial deference is that when courts refuse to enforce property rights and allow economic liberties to be trampled by legislatures they are showing respect for the democratic process. But this notion is not faithful to the duty of the judiciary. The Constitution's framers understood that legislatures are as much nests of vice as of virtue. That is why they went to such lengths to define the limits of government, set forth our rights broadly, and create an independent, co-equal branch of government to protect those rights.

The absence of meaningful constitutional limits on the power of government over property and the economy has had consequences that should cause both liberals and conservatives to rethink the wisdom of sweeping judicial deference. For example, last fall Congress enacted the Troubled Asset Relief Program, putting hundreds of billions of dollars at the personal discretion of the secretary of the Treasury. This grant of authority -- which violates the basic constitutional duty of Congress to control the purse laid out in Article I, Section 8 -- transformed the secretary into the most powerful unelected official in American history. Such power, once acquired, is rarely relinquished.

None of this would have been thinkable, much less possible, without the longstanding refusal of the Supreme Court to enforce clear constitutional boundaries on the elected branches.

In another example, America has become a patchwork quilt of laws serving special interests because courts refuse to protect economic liberty. In 1950, only one in 20 trades required a license. Now it is more than one in four (according to recent research of Morris Kleiner published by the National Bureau of Economic Research), and the clamor by industry groups for more licensing grows unabated.

Special interests love licensing because it restricts competition and thus drives up the prices they can charge. None of this would be possible if judges simply struck down licensing laws as an insult to the constitutional right to earn an honest living secured by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and the "privileges or immunities" clause of the 14th Amendment.

Bad government is usually the result of runaway government. And runaway government is usually the result of government exceeding its constitutional prerogatives. Because they have a far stronger stake in the integrity of checks and balances on government power than in the culture war, conservatives and liberals should declare a truce over "activism" and reflect on the need to take the whole Constitution seriously.

Judges should be neither active nor passive, neither aggressive nor deferential. In a word, they should be engaged -- engaged in protecting constitutional rights to property and economic liberty, because these areas of the law have the most impact on our daily lives.

Mr. Rowes is an attorney at the Institute for Justice in Arlington, Va.

23419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 05, 2009, 10:52:34 PM
Me neither  cry  I went for the big bucks in stickfighting , , ,  cheesy
23420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 05, 2009, 10:28:48 PM
What does Schiff suggest to profit from the coming crash?
23421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Reagan at Normandy 6/6/84 on: June 05, 2009, 09:27:21 PM
Through Sunday night only, President Reagan at Normandy for the 40th Anniversary of D-Day.

http://www.dogbrothers.com/
23422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Horsetrading? Schocked, absolutely schocked! on: June 05, 2009, 06:54:18 PM

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/05/sotomayor-speech-undercuts-obama-claims/
 
 
Sotomayor speech undercuts Obama claims
Credits Democratic Senator for her initial nomination
By Tom LoBianco (Contact) | Friday, June 5, 2009

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor said in a 1998 speech that she owed her first federal judicial nomination almost entirely to New York Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, undercutting the spirit of President Obama's claim that it was Republican President George H.W. Bush who was responsible for her first appointment to the federal bench.

Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats have repeatedly pointed to her initial nomination to a federal district court in 1991 by then-President Bush, and her later elevation to an appeals court by then-President Clinton seven years later, as evidence she is a nonpartisan selection for the high court.

But in her own account of her nomination, delivered in a speech to a Hispanic legal association, Judge Sotomayor recalled that she was only nominated, and only received a Senate floor vote, because of political horse-trading by Mr. Moynihan, the senior senator from New York, where Judge Sotomayor lived. President Bush, Judge Sotomayor added, was far from an enthusiastic advocate for her nomination.

"Over the next twenty months, Senator Moynihan cajoled and pushed the Republican White House to nominate me. He traded other nominees in other states some circuit and other district court with the [White House] to get me ultimately nominated by President Bush," Judge Sotomayor said, according to the text of the speech to the Cervantes Society.

The address was included in a voluminous record of the judge's speeches, opinions and personal data delivered to the Senate Thursday ahead of her confirmation hearings this summer.

Judge Sotomayor's blunt account of the backroom politicking involved in her nomination appears to undercut a refrain used by her supporters -- including President Obama -- that she is the product of bipartisan presidential approvals.

"It is her experience in life and her achievements in the legal profession that have earned Judge Sotomayor respect across party lines and ideological divides," Mr. Obama said in a weekly radio address last month. "She was originally named to the U.S. District Court by the first President Bush, a Republican. She was appointed to the federal Court of Appeals by President Clinton, a Democrat."

Republicans and conservative activists have made the same argument about Mr. Moynihan's role, but Judge Sotomayor's words will likely give them much more ammunition.

Mr. Moynihan used an arrangement that New York's two senators had with the Bush White House in which the senator whose party controlled the White House nominated three judges for every one judge the other senator recommended, she wrote in the 1998 speech. New York's other senator at the time was Republican Alfonse D'Amato.

Mr. Moynihan used his one nomination for Judge Sotomayor and spent the next two years battling the Bush administration to secure her formal nomination.

A White House spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

In the Cervantes Society speech, Judge Sotomayor detailed a 1991 phone call she received from an attorney in the George H.W. Bush White House informing her that the president was unlikely to nominate her to the bench "because my senator was not cooperating."

"As they guessed, I called Sen. Moynihan's office and I learned that the White House wanted his cooperation in getting the Judicial Committee, chaired then by Democratic Sen. Joe Biden, to push out of the committee two Republican circuit court nominees," Judge Sotomayor wrote.

"You would not be drawing a wrong conclusion in presuming that two circuit court judges owe their positions to my nomination and [to] Sen. Moynihan's dedication to making it happen," she said.

Her grueling 28-month confirmation battle did not end there. A "disgruntled senator" blocked the nomination of four women nominees, including Judge Sotomayor, until the Senate Judiciary Committee removed a hold on another nominee, according to her speech.

Athough Judge Sotomayor did not identify the "disgruntled" lawmaker in the speech, news reports from the time say Alabama Sen. Richard C. Shelby, then a Democrat, had blocked the nominations because of a separate hold placed on an Alabama prosecutor who supported the death penalty. Mr. Shelby later switched parties and is now a Republican.
23423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 05, 2009, 06:35:03 PM
I shared your post with economist Scott Grannis HUSS and here are his comments:

The establishment survey data is always subject to the whims of 
seasonal adjustment and fudge factors (birth-death model). That's why 
I always look at the household survey, which has no fudge factors. 
Sometimes the two diverge. This time they are both telling the same 
story: job losses are slowing down. Coupled with the unemployment 
claims and all the green shoots out there, I think it is clear that 
the recession has ended.

On Jun 5, 2009, at 9:46 AM, Marc Denny wrote:

http://www.chrismartenson.com:80/blog/may-employment-report-not-believable/20102
23424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: June 05, 2009, 06:32:26 PM
I just tried emailing him but it bounced back.   I will have to give him a call.
23425  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty 8/1-2 Fort Hood, TX on: June 05, 2009, 01:05:45 PM
Well, that about covers it smiley

I'm really looking forward to this.  Gus did a fine job leading a DBMA Training Group in Iraq and it will be a pleasure seeing him again.  I gather he will be posting later today or tomorrow about what he would like me to cover.
23426  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty 8/1-2 Fort Hood, TX on: June 05, 2009, 11:50:30 AM
Thank you.  And if I may push my luck a bit, how far are

a) Ft Worth/Dallas?
b) San Antonio?
c) Houston?


=======

I just spoke with Gus a few minutes ago.  He is working on the flyer and the specifics of the seminar today/over the weekend and we anticipate haveing more precise news here in the next few days.
23427  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: September 20, 2009 Gathering on: June 05, 2009, 11:48:05 AM
A Pulitzer prize winning writer has approached me about covering the Gathering.
23428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What a fcuking #$%^!!! on: June 05, 2009, 08:51:28 AM
WSJ:

By DANIEL SCHWAMMENTHAL
On his way to the 65th D-Day commemorations in France, President Obama plans a curious stop-over in Germany, my home country. He will travel to Buchenwald, the concentration camp his great uncle helped liberate, a visit that makes personal and historical sense. It is his other German destination, Dresden, that seems out of place. Will the president, who likes to apologize for America's alleged sins, now also apologize for World War II?

For many Germans, the destruction of Dresden in February 1945 has become a symbol of Allied "bombing terror." Many still believe the true number of deaths is closer to the Nazi propaganda of 200,000 than the 20,000 to 35,000 historians believe is correct.

Google "Dresden" and "Kriegsverbrechen," the German word for "war crimes," and you'll get almost 26,000 results. Neo-Nazis marched through the streets of Dresden this February commemorating the "Bombing Holocaust." A flood of recent books, articles and documentaries has shifted Germany's historical debate from its war crimes to its own war victims. As part of this trend, in 2006 public TV station ZDF broadcast "Dresden: The Inferno," the most expensive German television production at the time. Its graphic display of carnage and burning people is at odds with German movie tradition. Films about the Holocaust tend to be more subtle and less emotional.

Mr. Obama's visit to Dresden is an unfortunate gesture. Even if the president were not to make an outright apology for the allied bombings, he could hardly not mention them in this city so preoccupied with its wartime history. And even if he were not to give any speech at all and just toured the city, he'd inevitably be led to the many landmarks that were once reduced to rubble.

His mere presence in Dresden -- on the heels of a visit to Buchenwald and just before attending the Normandy commemorations -- would boost the revisionist cause. It would suggest a sort of moral equivalence between industrialized genocide and the bombings of German cities -- bombings, remember, that were designed to bring an end to the genocidal regime.

Mr. Obama's encounter with the reality of governing does not seem to have tempered his appetite for second-guessing past U.S. presidents. Having already come close to a mea culpa for America's use of atomic bombs against Japan, he may now add Dresden to the revisionist charges against the U.S. Even if the president doesn't say that America lost its moral bearings by bombing Dresden, people will read between the lines of his visit.

Mr. Schwammenthal is an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.






23429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 05, 2009, 08:26:59 AM
An additional point to consider on the benefits and merits of Israel as an ally:

History Question:

How did it happen that Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, all of which were once Soviet client states, ceased being such?
23430  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Water Technology on: June 05, 2009, 08:04:23 AM


Water Tech Firm Rankings:
http://www.theartemisproject.com/competitionpage.html

More info:
http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2009/04/20/daily38-NE-boasts-four-top-water-tech-firms-in-Artemis-Project-list.html
23431  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: on: June 05, 2009, 07:31:06 AM
Third post of the morning

Summary
Pakistani forces are continuing to take out Taliban strongholds June 1 in the Swat region of northwestern Pakistan. With the Swat district headquarters, the city of Mingora, under control, the military is beginning to expand operations to other Taliban strongholds. The main question is whether the military will be able to consolidate the gains it has made against the militant Islamist fighters while carrying out increasingly difficult operations.

Analysis

Pakistani forces continued rooting out Taliban strongholds in the Swat region June 1, a day after the military announced it had successfully wrested control of Mingora, the district headquarters of Swat in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), from Taliban hands.

A relatively small number of Taliban forces had settled in inside Mingora to fight Pakistani forces. STRATFOR received reports early in the offensive that these militants were planting mines and explosives, digging trenches and stockpiling weapons and ammunition in preparation for the onslaught. But the militants who remained in Mingora were outnumbered and unable to withstand the military’s concerted conventional assault. The Taliban fighters who had fled Mingora were unable to rejoin, supply or otherwise support the militants still in Mingora, who ultimately were defeated by Pakistani forces.

When it became clear that Taliban reinforcements were cut off from Mingora, Taliban commanders began calling on their compatriots to focus their attention on attacks in other parts of Pakistan, particularly in urban areas of Punjab province. The May 27 bombing directed at the Inter-Services Intelligence agency headquarters in Lahore was partly indicative of this call to action, though local Taliban forces have long been attempting to escalate attacks in this critical province.





(click image to enlarge)
The Pakistani military’s focus on conventional warfare and severe inexperience in counterinsurgency have long contributed to its weakness against the jihadist insurgency. However, the military exhibited operational success when it cut off Taliban supply lines to Mingora by encircling the city from Lower Dir to the west, from Malakand district to the southwest, from Buner to the southeast and from Shangla to the east. This both narrowed the potential escape routes for the remaining fighters and prevented their compatriots from aiding the remaining resistance in the city. By isolating the remaining hard-line fighters, the military was able to bring overwhelming conventional firepower to bear. While the operation certainly was not without consequence, it was an important demonstration of strategy and might against entrenched Taliban forces in an urban area.

The Pakistani military has Mingora under control for now and is making efforts to clear surrounding towns, but the overall Swat offensive is clearly far from over. The operations under way aim to flush out remaining Taliban strongholds in Swat, while a number of Taliban are taking cover in the neighboring districts of Dir, Buner, Malakand and Shangla and have blended in with the refugees.

Pakistani forces have retained the initiative and are pushing outward into the more mountainous northern regions of Swat, where a number of Taliban are believed to be holed up. As of June 1, the military was conducting operations in the valley of Kalam, about 56 miles north of Mingora. The military also is moving into a Taliban stronghold called Charbagh, a town located about 12 miles north of Mingora. The military reportedly has set up checkpoints to surround Charbagh from the north and south in the towns of Khwazakhela and Manglawar, respectively. Military forces reportedly are also shelling Taliban positions in Kabal, west of Mingora, and lower Malam Jabba, located to Mingora’s east. However, it will become increasingly difficult for regular troops and special forces to move deeper into mountainous Taliban strongholds like Kalam, especially as they are also trying to hold their ground in villages that have already been cleared without increasing the number of deployments in the Swat region.

This is the largest military operation ever conducted in Swat, and public morale is high for now, but the Taliban are a patient, resilient force and are capable of regrouping and reclaiming lost territory. The Taliban have demonstrated this ability a number of times in Afghanistan, where they have drifted back into towns previously cleared by NATO troops. Moreover, while the Pakistani military has touted the killings of several midlevel commanders, the senior leadership of the Taliban in Swat remains at large.

There are no indications yet that Pakistan will divert more forces from its eastern border with India to reinforce operations in the northwest. This poses a considerable dilemma, as the military has a strategic interest in capitalizing on its current levels of public support to expand the offensive into far more challenging Taliban strongholds farther south in the tribal badlands of North and South Waziristan. Public support in the Swat area is indeed swinging toward the military for the time being. Locals say they are now able to speak openly against the Taliban, which they did not dare to do in previous months. The local populace also has renewed confidence in the military’s will and ability to stand up to the Taliban.

The big question that remains, then, is whether the military will be able to consolidate the security gains made thus far, develop efficient local security and governance to hold the territory against encroaching Taliban, and do the necessary developmental work to restore the livelihoods of some 3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) forced from their homes by the fighting. Many IDPs are living temporarily in schools and other government buildings or are staying with friends and relatives. Still, the lower-income families who have no choice but to live in very poorly equipped refugee camps that the military has set up are ideal targets for the Taliban’s recruitment efforts, which likely will intensify in the wake of the Swat offensive as the group attempts to replenish its ranks.

The military also knows it will become harder for its forces to remain in the Swat region in the long term. Public discontent over the military presence is likely to increase, and challenges elsewhere will demand the military’s attentions. Operations are under way to bring in local administrators and accelerate the training of local police forces to secure the villages that have been cleared of Taliban thus far, but these police units are already extremely demoralized, underequipped and underpaid, and they will continue to be the primary targets of Taliban forces seeking to retake the territory. Islamabad’s long-term commitment to fighting the deeper sources of public discontent will therefore be critical to Pakistan’s ability to halt the Talibanization process.

With much work to be done in Swat and surrounding areas in the near term, any talk of a similar large-scale offensive in South Waziristan should be met with skepticism. Military and government officials alike are issuing contradictory statements on how quickly the Swat offensive can be wrapped up so the military can shift its focus farther south to Waziristan. The Waziristan operation is still in the planning stages and, while some preliminary skirmishes are taking place in South Waziristan, no clear or unified decision appears to have been made on expanding the military offensive in a meaningful way beyond the Swat region.

Editor’s Note:This analysis originally said that Kabal is east of Mingora and Malam Jabba is west of Mingora. Kabal is west of Mingora, and Malam Jabba is to the east. The error has been corrected.

23432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Michael Yon in the Philippines on: June 05, 2009, 07:20:16 AM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com:80/
23433  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hip problems on: June 05, 2009, 07:06:39 AM
Woof All:

Some of you may have heard me quote Sara Petitt, Guro Inosanto's yoga teacher (proud to say I introduced the two of them) to the effect that "Knees are escape valves for hips"; the idea being that when the hips are tight and/or misaligned that the stress is transfered to the knees.  This article seems to suggest there is a relationship in the other direction as well.

TAC,
Crafty Dog
=================================================

Hips Are Bringing More Athletes to Their Knees

 SCHMIDT
Published: May 31, 2009
The quest to build ever more proficient athletes keeps hitting unexpected
snags, and perhaps nowhere is this more vivid than in Major League Baseball.
Several top players have been hampered by a hip ailment that was unheard of
in the sport a decade ago.

Knee injuries to countless recreational and professional athletes in recent
years made anterior cruciate ligament a household phrase and compelled
trainers to emphasize building leg strength. Sports medicine experts now say
that approach, while mitigating knee injuries, may be making hips
vulnerable.

"No matter what we do, as complex as we try and make workouts and training
methods, we lose sight of other things," said Mackie Shilstone, a trainer
based in New Orleans, who works with baseball, football and hockey players
who are rehabilitating injuries. "We tend to concentrate on what is directly
in front of us.

"In all my years as a trainer, I have not seen anything like the increase in
hip injuries that I have seen over the past two years."

No studies have been published to confirm this phenomenon. But many trainers
and orthopedists say the anecdotal evidence is jarring, and medical staffs
for Major League Baseball teams and franchises in other sports are
scrambling to understand why athletes' hips suddenly seem so fragile.

Experts said other factors could be at work in addition to the overemphasis
on leg strength. Advances in magnetic imaging have enabled doctors to see
inside the hip and identify certain ailments, and the increasing number of
children playing sports at younger ages has led to more instances of
improper bone development.

Several of baseball's biggest stars - including Alex Rodriguez of the
Yankees, Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies and Carlos Delgado of the
Mets - have been forced to the sideline after having surgery to repair a
torn labrum, the cartilage that runs along the rim of the hip socket.
Rodriguez recently returned after missing two months, and Delgado has said
he may not return this season. On Thursday, one of Utley's teammates,
pitcher Brett Myers, was found to have a damaged labrum in his hip. He is
expected to have surgery this week.

Not all doctors are convinced that training is the culprit.

"It's not like workouts have changed all of a sudden; it doesn't explain
 it," said Christopher Powers, an associate professor of biokinesiology at
the University of Southern California. "People and doctors are just more
aware of it diagnostically. We've always had hip problems; now we are just
finding it better."

The number of players on the disabled list because of hip and groin-muscle
injuries rose to 34 in 2008 from 20 in 2007. Through the first quarter of
this season, at least 13 players have gone on the disabled list with hip
injuries.

"Delgado and A-Rod asked me about it," said Utley, who had hip surgery last
November after the Phillies won the World Series. "They both wanted to know
what I did to keep playing.

"Before, guys never had hip surgeries and never let them work on their hips.
But this was different."

No sports medicine experts pointed to performance-enhancing drugs in
explaining the rise in hip injuries. But dozens of major league baseball
players, including Rodriguez, have been linked to performance-enhancing
drugs in recent years, raising suspicions every time a new injury trend
appears.

"It's interesting to see what injuries increase as we come out of the
steroid era," said Stan Conte, the head trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The sudden prominence of hip injuries comes a year after an unusual number
of baseball players sustained strained oblique muscles, which run from the
ribs to the abdomen.

The apparent rash of hip injuries extends beyond baseball, doctors and
trainers said. Athletes of all ages and skill levels and in varying sports
are having hip problems at higher rates and being found to have labral
tears, they said. Soccer and hockey players in particular have followed the
conventional training wisdom in recent years and bolstered their knees. Now
some of them, including Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro and midfielder
Freddie Ljungberg of Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders, who have both
had labrum surgery, are having hip trouble.

"In soccer, they train harder than they used to train 10 to 15 to 20 years
ago, when soccer had had a lot of A.C.L. tears," said Dr. Andreas H. Gomoll,
an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School and a
surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"They started worrying much more about knees; they now do special training
to protect the knee. And one belief is that this is why we have more of
these injuries because the strength is putting more pressure on the hips."

Dr. Bryan T. Kelly, a surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in
Manhattan, performed Utley's operation and is scheduled to operate on Myers.
He said he did not believe it was a coincidence that "I get 40 hockey
players in a six-week period at the end of the season all coming into my
office with the same-looking bone structure in their hips, all saying that
they have been skating since they were 3 years old."

Kelly added, "I believe we are seeing some consequences from having our kids
over the past few decades playing sports more at younger ages."

As magnetic imaging has become more sophisticated, doctors have gained the
ability to see inside the hip and identify labral tears.

"We are doing a much better job at imaging the injuries, and we are also
seeing athletes with bigger bodies that are working harder on strength and
conditioning, and the bigger, stronger muscles are allowing athletes to
torque faster and more pressure is being put on the hip," said Dr. Jordan
Metzl, a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Problems with labral tears occur when the head of the femur does not fit
correctly in the hip socket. If it is not a good fit, the labrum is squeezed
between the ball and the socket when the hip is flexed. Over time, the
labrum can become irritated and tear.

The problem with an adolescent, doctors said, is that the head of the femur
is still growing. Stress on the hip can cause the bone to become misshapen.
As the athlete continues to play sports into adulthood, the improperly
shaped bone rubs against the labrum.

"I believe the situation with the hips is similar to Little League baseball,
where there is a high awareness to elbow injuries from pitching too much
because the joints are still developing," Kelly said. "But with the hips,
nothing is said. There is nothing done to try and prevent damage from being
done."
23434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: WHTI on: June 05, 2009, 06:54:26 AM
The Practical Implications of the WHTI
May 28, 2009




By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

External Link
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Web site
(STRATFOR is not responsible for the content of other Web sites.)
On June 1, 2009, the land and sea portion of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) will go into effect. The WHTI is a program launched as a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and intended to standardize the documents required to enter the United States. The stated goal of WHTI is to facilitate entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors while reducing the possibility of people entering the country using fraudulent documents.

Prior to the WHTI, American travelers to Mexico, Canada and several countries in the Caribbean needed only a driver’s license and birth certificate to re-enter the United States, while American travelers to other regions of the world required U.S. passports to return. This meant that immigration officials had to examine driver’s licenses and birth certificates from every state, and since the driver’s licenses and birth certificates of all the states change over time, there were literally hundreds of different types of documents that could be used by travelers at points of entry. In practical terms, this meant there was no way immigration officers could be familiar with the security features of each identification document, thereby making it easier for foreigners to use counterfeit or fraudulently altered documents to enter the country by claiming to be returning U.S. citizens.

The air portion of the WHTI went into effect in January 2007 and required that all international air travelers use passports to enter the United States. However, the land and sea implementation of WHTI will be a little different from the air portion. In addition to passports, travelers can also use U.S. passport cards (a driver’s license-sized identification document), an enhanced driver’s license (which are currently being issued by Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington) or “special trusted” traveler identification cards such as Nexus and Sentri to enter the country by land or sea.

The WHTI will greatly simplify the number of travel documents that immigration officials have to scrutinize. It will also mean that the documents needed to enter the United States will be far harder to counterfeit, alter or obtain by fraud than the documents previously required for entry. This will make it more difficult for criminals, illegal aliens and militants to enter the United States, but it will by no means make it impossible.

An Evolutionary Process
Identity document fraud has existed for as long as identity documents have. Like much sophisticated crime, document fraud has been an evolutionary process. Advancements in document security have been followed by advancements in fraud techniques, which in turn have forced governments to continue to advance their security efforts. In recent years, the advent of color copiers, powerful desktop computers with sophisticated graphics programs and laser printers has propelled this document-fraud arms race into overdrive.

In addition to sophisticated physical security features such as ultraviolet markings and holograms, perhaps the most significant security features of newer identification documents such as passports and visas are that they are machine-readable and linked to a database that can be cross-checked when the document is swiped through a reader at a point of entry. Since 2007, U.S. passports have also incorporated small contactless integrated circuits embedded in the back cover to securely store the information contained on the passport’s photo page. These added security measures have limited the utility of completely counterfeit U.S. passports, which (for the most part) cannot be used to pass through a point of entry equipped with a reader connected to the central database. Such documents are used mostly for traveling abroad rather than for entering the United States.

Likewise, advancements in security features have also made it far more difficult to alter genuine documents by doing things like changing the photo affixed to it (referred to as a photo substitution or “photo sub”). Certainly, there are some very high-end document forgers who can still accomplish this — such as those employed by intelligence agencies — but such operations are very difficult and the documents produced are very expensive.

One of the benefits of the WHTI is that it will now force those wishing to obtain genuine documents by fraud to travel to a higher level — it has, in effect, upped the ante. As STRATFOR has long noted, driver’s licenses pose serious national security vulnerability. Driver’s licenses are, in fact, the closet thing to a U.S. national identity card. However, driver’s licenses are issued by each state, and the process of getting one differs greatly from state to state. Criminals clearly have figured out how to work the system to get fraudulent driver’s licenses. Some states make it easier to get licenses than others and people looking for fraudulent identification flock to those states. Within the states, there are also some department of motor vehicles (DMV) offices — and specific workers — known to be more lenient, and those seeking fraudulent licenses will intentionally visit those offices. In addition to corrupt DMV employees and states that issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, an illegal industry has arisen devoted entirely to producing counterfeit identification documents, compounding the problem.

Birth certificates are also relatively easy to obtain illegally. The relative ease of fraudulently obtaining birth certificates as well as driver’s licenses is seen in federal document-fraud cases (both documents are required to apply for a U.S. passport). In a large majority of the passport-fraud cases worked by Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agents, the suspects have successfully obtained fraudulent driver’s licenses and birth certificates, which are submitted in support of a passport application. It is not uncommon for DSS special agents to arrest suspects who possess multiple driver’s licenses in different identities from the same state or even from different states. Such documents could have been used to travel across the U.S. border via land prior to the implementation of the WHTI.

Countermoves
For those able to afford the fees of high-end alien smugglers, who can charge up to $30,000 for a package of identification documents that contains a genuine U.S. passport with genuine supporting documents (birth certificate, social security card and driver’s license), or $10,000 to $15,000 for a genuine U.S. visa (tied to a database, the newer machine-readable visas are very difficult to counterfeit), the WHTI will not make much difference. These high-end document vendors obtain legitimate identification documents by paying corrupt officials who have been carefully cultivated.

That said, the WHTI should succeed in causing the vast majority of criminal aliens, illegal economic immigrants and even militants — people who have not traditionally patronized high-end document vendors — to change the way they enter the United States. Of course, perhaps the simplest way is to take the low road. That is, get to Canada or Mexico and then simply sneak across the border as an undocumented alien — something that hundreds of thousands of people do every year. Once inside the country, such aliens can link up with lower-level document vendors to obtain the driver’s licenses, social security cards and other identity documents they need in order to live, work and travel around the country.

But there are other ways that the WHTI measures can be circumvented. For example, the crush of passport applications the WHTI is now causing will create a distinct vulnerability in the short term. Although the U.S. Department of State has hired a large number of new examiners to process the flood of passport applications it is receiving (and also a number of new DSS special agents to investigate fraud cases), the system is currently overwhelmed by the volume of passport applications.

Historically, passport examiners have had their performance evaluations based on the number of passport applications they process rather than on the number of fraudulent applications they catch (which has long been a source of friction between the DSS and the Bureau of Consular Affairs). This emphasis on numerical quotas has been documented in U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that have noted that the quotas essentially force examiners to take shortcuts in their fraud-detection efforts. As a result, many genuine passports have been issued to people who did not have a legitimate right to them. The current overwhelming flood of passport applications as a result of WHTI, when combined with a batch of new examiners who are rated on numerical quotas, will further enhance this vulnerability. Unless a passport application has an obvious fraud indicator, it will likely slip through the cracks and a fraudulent applicant will receive a genuine U.S. passport.

Stolen passports are another area to consider. In addition to being photo-subbed, which has become more difficult, stolen passports can also be used as travel documents by people who resemble the owner of the document. All the holograms, microprinting and other security features that have been placed on the laminates of passport photo pages tend to make it difficult to clearly see the photo of the passport holder. Also, people change over time, so a person who was issued a passport eight years ago can look substantially different from their passport photo today. The passport process and the laminate can also make it especially difficult to see the facial features of dark-skinned people. This means it is not at all uncommon for a person to be able to impersonate someone and use his or her passport without altering it. This problem persists, even with digital photos being included with the information embedded electronically in the memory chips of newer electronic passports.

Because of these possibilities, stolen passports are worth a tidy sum on the black market. Indeed, shortly after U.S. passports with green covers were issued, they were found to be extremely easy to photo-sub and were soon fetching $7,000 apiece on the black market in places like Jamaica and Haiti. In fact, criminal gangs quickly began offering tourists cash or drugs in exchange for the documents, and the criminal gangs would then turn around and sell them for a profit to document vendors. The problem of U.S. citizens selling their passports also persists today.

On the flip side, many Americans are unaware of the monetary value of their passport — which is several times the $100 they paid to have it issued. They do not realize that when they carry their passport it is like toting around a wad of $100 bills. Tour guides who collect the passports of all the people in their tour group and then keep them in a bag or backpack can end up carrying around tens of thousands of dollars in identification documents — which would make a really nice haul for a petty criminal in the Third World.

But U.S. passports are not the only ones at risk of being stolen. The changes in travel documents required to enter the United States will also place a premium on passports from countries that are included in the U.S. “visa waiver” program — that is, those countries whose citizens can travel to and remain in the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. There are currently 35 countries in the visa waiver program, including EU member states, Australia, Japan and a few others. The risk of theft is especially acute for those countries on the visa waiver list that issue passports that are easier to photo-sub than a U.S. passport. In some visa waiver countries, it is also cheaper and easier to obtain a genuine passport from a corrupt government official than it is in the United States.

While there are efforts currently under way to create an international database to rapidly share data about lost and stolen blank and issued passports, there is generally a time lag before lost and stolen foreign passports are entered into U.S. lookout systems. This lag provides ample time for someone to enter the United States on a photo-subbed passport, and it is not clear if retroactive searches are made once the United States is notified of a stolen passport in order to determine if that passport was used to enter the United States during the lag period. Of course, once a person is inside the United States, it is fairly easy to obtain identification documents in another identity and simply disappear.

There have also been cases of jihadist groups using the passports of militants from visa waiver countries who have died in order to move other operatives into the United States. On Sept. 1, 1992, Ahmed Ajaj and Abdul Basit (also known as Ramzi Yousef) arrived at New York’s Kennedy Airport. The two men had boarded a flight in Karachi, Pakistan, using photo-subbed passports that had been acquired from deceased jihadists. Ajaj used a Swedish passport in the name Khurram Khan and Basit used a British passport in the name Mohamed Azan.

Ultimately, the WHTI will help close some significant loopholes — especially regarding the use of fraud-prone driver’s licenses and birth certificates for international travel — but the program will not end all document fraud. Document vendors will continue to shift and adjust their efforts to adapt to the WHTI and exploit other vulnerabilities in the system.

23435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Several on: June 05, 2009, 06:15:21 AM
 
"[T]here is not a syllable in the plan under consideration which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution."

--Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 81, 1788
 
================
"The Constitution ... is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please." --Thomas Jefferson
==============
"As on the one hand, the necessity for borrowing in particular emergencies cannot be doubted, so on the other, it is equally evident that to be able to borrow upon good terms, it is essential that the credit of a nation should be well established." --Alexander Hamilton
==========
"If a nation expects to be ignorant -- and free -- in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson
============
"The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virture to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust."

--Federalist No. 57 (Alexander Hamilton or James Madison), 1788
==========
"His Example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read."

--John Adams, message to the U.S. Senate on George Washington's death, December 19, 1799

===============
"The Supreme Court of the United States is the custodian of our Constitution. Justices of the Supreme Court must not only be jurists of the highest competence; they must be attentive to the specific rights guaranteed in our Constitution and proper role of the courts in our democratic system. ...[J]udges' personal preferences and values should not be part of their constitutional interpretations. The guiding principle of judicial restraint recognizes that under the Constitution it is the exclusive province of the legislatures to enact laws and the role of the courts to interpret them." --Ronald Reagan
23436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Aquaoponics on: June 05, 2009, 05:48:39 AM
Shaggy Dog does something quite like this too in his backyard in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.  For the fish, he uses Tilapia, which are an excellent clean protein source as well.
23437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: June 05, 2009, 05:34:05 AM
second post of morning:

June 4, 2009
Al Jazeera on Wednesday broadcast an audio message from Osama bin Laden, in which he focused on the state of affairs in Pakistan. Although messages from bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders frequently have mentioned Pakistan, none has devoted so much attention as this one to events there. This is somewhat surprising, considering that jihadists have reached their highest levels of success over the past two years in Pakistan.

Bin Laden’s message arrives amid a serious campaign by Pakistani military forces to root out jihadist fighters in the northern Swat district. The fact that such military force is being applied shows how successfully Taliban fighters have entrenched themselves in Pakistan’s northwest — and also how serious the threat has become for Islamabad. Bin Laden’s message attempted to highlight that success in order to bolster support among Pakistanis for al Qaeda Prime’s message.

In the recording, bin Laden continued to criticize the intrusion of foreign forces, the blocking of the spread of Sharia and the plight of 3 million residents who have been affected by anti-jihadist military operations in the Swat region. He accused the United States, Israel and India of conspiring against Pakistan, and he claimed that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani are fighting against Islam instead of against Pakistan’s true enemies — namely, India. This statement plays on the fears of many Pakistanis, who view India as a much greater strategic threat than militant Islamists fighting from within the state — the same argument the Pakistani military makes to Washington about its reluctance to redeploying troops from the eastern border to deal more effectively with the jihadist threat in the west. By playing on this fear, bin Laden is trying to undermine the Pakistani government’s judgment and prevent greater military pressure from being applied against jihadists.

Bin Laden also compared the refugees affected by the Swat conflict to the Palestinian refugees and 9/11 operatives, who he said had been pushed into action by their oppression at the hands of Western forces and under Western-friendly regimes. This discussion underscored worries that some of the 3 million Swat refugees might go on to join jihadist groups and wage more attacks against the state. Finally, bin Laden portrayed the military operation in Swat as an effort to stamp out of Sharia law — a contentious issue for many conservative Pakistanis — and appeal to a broader audience of Muslim listeners who are not necessarily sympathetic to jihadist tactics.

The utility of bin Laden’s media campaign goes only so far. Bin Laden and the rest of al Qaeda’s apex leadership have been constrained chiefly to the role of an ideological force, relying on others to operate on the actual battlefield. This shift, from the physical to the ideological battlefield, came about mainly because al Qaeda was forced onto the defensive by ground and aerial strikes in Pakistan that have killed dozens of its operatives. Al Qaeda’s financial and communication networks have been severely affected during the U.S.-led war against jihadists, which in turn has greatly undermined the organization’s ability to operate effectively. Al Qaeda Prime has not demonstrated an ability to carry out attacks successfully beyond the South Asia region — and even there, it must depend on affiliates, such as the Pakistani Taliban faction led by Baitullah Mehsud and groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, to conduct operations.

The ability of the Pakistani Taliban and their jihadist allies to undermine the authority of the Pakistani state and foster anarchy in many parts of the country certainly works in al Qaeda’s favor, which benefits from Pakistan’s inability to control large swathes of territory. But while Pakistan has become the poster child for jihadist success, al Qaeda Prime’s role in that success has declined in recent years, as other groups have assumed the mantle of leadership in the jihadist movement.

Domestic groups that enjoy more local support than the largely foreign-born al Qaeda members have adopted the tactics and ideology of al Qaeda,. This has been a significant factor in their success. But bin Laden and al Qaeda Prime also have extremely limited capabilities: Many Pakistanis doubt the organization’s very existence, viewing it as a Western fabrication designed to undermine Islam in the region.

So, while bin Laden has released a message that attempts to cash in on the jihadist advances made in Pakistan in recent years, his group’s significance has declined significantly as other organizations have gained prominence. These other jihadist groups pose a significant threat to Pakistan — a country that is attractive in their eyes at least partly because of its nuclear arsenal. But al Qaeda must work through its local allies to undermine the Pakistani state, as it attempts to create anarchy on a regional level. The success of al Qaeda’s allies will be linked to the effectiveness of Pakistani security forces in maintaining security, while waging an offensive against Taliban forces in the Swat district and other areas that are largely under jihadist control.
23438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Taliban stir rising anger in Pak on: June 05, 2009, 05:21:34 AM
When the NYT reports good news, it is a man bites dog story cheesy


ABAD, Pakistan — A year ago, the Pakistani public was deeply divided over what to do about its spreading insurgency. Some saw the Taliban militants as fellow Muslims and native sons who simply wanted Islamic law, and many opposed direct military action against them.

Mardan, a town south of Swat, has absorbed many of the people churned up in the fighting. More Photos »
But history moves quickly in Pakistan, and after months of televised Taliban cruelties, broken promises and suicide attacks, there is a spreading sense — apparent in the news media, among politicians and the public — that many Pakistanis are finally turning against the Taliban.

The shift is still tentative and difficult to quantify. But it seems especially profound among the millions of Pakistanis directly threatened by the Taliban advance from the tribal areas into more settled parts of Pakistan, like the Swat Valley. Their anger at the Taliban now outweighs even their frustration with the military campaign that has crushed their houses and killed their relatives.

“It’s the Taliban that’s responsible for our misery,” said Fakir Muhammed, a refugee from Swat, who, like many who had experienced Taliban rule firsthand, welcomed the military campaign to push the insurgents out.

The growing support for the fight against the Taliban could be an important turning point for Pakistan, whose divisions about its Islamic militancy seemed at times to imperil the state itself.

But it is an opportunity that could just as quickly vanish, analysts and politicians warn, if Pakistan’s political leaders fail to kill or capture senior Taliban leaders, to help an estimated three million who have been displaced, or to create a functioning government in areas long ignored by the state. “This is a profound moment in our history,” said Javed Iqbal, the top bureaucrat in the North-West Frontier Province, the area of fighting. “My greatest fear is whether there is sufficient realization of this among people who make decisions.”

On Wednesday, in an audiotape, Osama bin Laden specifically cited the fighting in Swat and Pakistan’s tribal areas, blaming the Obama administration for the campaign and for sowing “new seeds to increase hatred and revenge on America.”

American officials are keenly aware of the potential of the refugee crisis to spawn militancy. Less than a quarter of the $543 million the United Nations has requested for refugees has arrived, according to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.

On Thursday, Richard C. Holbrooke, the American special envoy, visited refugee tents as part of a three-day trip to spread the message that the United States was trying to help. The Obama administration had requested an additional $200 million, he said, noting that it was providing more aid than all other countries combined.

Even so, anti-American feelings still run high in Pakistan. Many Pakistanis blame the United States and the war in Afghanistan for their current troubles.

Pakistanis have long supported the Taliban as allies to exert influence in neighboring Afghanistan. Unlike Afghans, they have never lived under Taliban rule, and have been slow to absorb its dangers.

But that is changing, as the experience of those Pakistanis who have now lived under the Taliban has left many disillusioned.

Over more than a year of fighting, the militants moved into Swat, by killing or driving out the wealthy and promising to improve the lives of the poor. Finally, the military agreed to a truce in February that all but ceded Swat to the Taliban and allowed the insurgents to impose Islamic law, or Shariah.

The prospect of Shariah was alluring, said Iftikhar Ehmad, who owns a cellphone shop in Mingora, the most populous city in Swat, because the court system in Swat was so corrupt and ineffective. But the Taliban’s Shariah was not the benign change people had hoped for. Once the Taliban took power, the insurgents seemed interested only in amassing more, and in April they pushed into Buner, a neighboring district 60 miles from Islamabad.

“It was not Shariah, it was something else,” Mr. Ehmad said, jabbing angrily at the air with his finger in the scorching tent camp in the town of Swabi. “It was scoundrel behavior.”

Daily life became degrading. A woman was lashed in public, and a video of her writhing in pain and begging for mercy stirred wide outrage. Taliban bosses ordered people to donate money. Cosmetics shops and girls’ schools were burned.

By the time the military entered Swat last month, local people began leading soldiers to tunnels with weapons and Taliban hiding places in hotels, the military said. “These people, six months back, weren’t willing to share anything,” said a military official who was involved in planning the campaign. “Gradually they’ve been coming out more and more into the open.”

There has also been a change in other parts of Pakistan, like Punjab, the most populous province, where people used to see the problem of militancy as remote, said Rasul Baksh Rais, a professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences. Now the province has become a target of suicide attacks, most recently last week in Lahore. Mr. Rais cited changes in news coverage of the military campaign and a strong stand by the political parties, even some of the religious ones, as evidence of the shift. “The tables are turned against the Taliban now,” he said. “They are marginalized.”

But the underlying causes that have allowed the Taliban to spread — poverty, barely functioning government, lack of upward mobility in society — remain. Mr. Iqbal is now working frantically to fill those gaps. New judges have recently been identified for Swat, he said, and about 3,000 new police officers will be selected this week.

The Pakistani military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss future operations, said troops would have to remain in Swat for at least six months. Support for the Taliban has not evaporated entirely.

Early this week, on a searing hot street in Mardan, a town south of Swat that has absorbed many of the people churned up in the fighting, a tall man with a long beard, Muhammed Tahir Ansari, grew angry when asked whether the refugees approved of the military operation. “It is illogical to think that people would be happy about this tense situation,” he said curtly.

He was from a charity run by Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the principal religious parties that tacitly support the Taliban, and was directing a frenzied effort to distribute water and hand-held fans.

The government, meanwhile, was nowhere in sight.

Irfan Ashraf contributed reporting from Swabi, Pakistan, and Mardan, Pakistan.
23439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The WSJ on BO's speech in Egypt on: June 05, 2009, 05:19:00 AM
One benefit of the Obama Presidency is that it is validating much of George W. Bush's security agenda and foreign policy merely by dint of autobiographical rebranding. That was clear enough yesterday in Cairo, where President Obama advertised "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." But what he mostly offered were artfully repackaged versions of themes President Bush sounded with his freedom agenda. We mean that as a compliment, albeit with a couple of large caveats.

So there was Mr. Obama, noting that rights such as "freedom to live as you choose" and "the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed" were "not just American ideas, they are human rights." There he was insisting that "freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together," and citing Malaysia and Dubai as economic models for other Muslim countries while promising to host a summit on entrepreneurship.

There he was too, in Laura Bush-mode, talking about the need to expand opportunities for Muslim women, particularly in education. "I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles," he said. "But it should be their choice."

Mr. Obama also offered a robust defense of the war in Afghanistan, calling it "a war of necessity" and promising that "America's commitment will not weaken." That's an important note to sound when Mr. Obama's left flank and some Congressional Democrats are urging an exit strategy from that supposed quagmire. On Iraq, he acknowledged that "the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein" and pledged the U.S. to the "dual responsibility" of leaving Iraq while helping the country "forge a better future." The timeline he reiterated for U.S. withdrawal is the one Mr. Bush negotiated last year.

The President even went one better than his predecessor, with a series of implicit rebukes to much of the Muslim world. There would have been no need for him to specify that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis if Holocaust denial weren't rampant in the Middle East, including Egypt, just as there would have been no need to name al Qaeda as the perpetrator of 9/11 if that fact were not also commonly denied throughout the Muslim world. There also would have been no need to insist that "the Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems," if that were not the modus operandi of most Arab governments.

Mr. Obama also noted that "among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of another's," a recognition of the supremacist strain in Islamist thinking. He also included a pointed defense of democracy, including "the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed" and "confidence in the rule of law." We doubt the point was lost on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, now in his 29th year in office. All of this will do some good if it leads to broader acceptance among Muslims of the principles of Mr. Bush's freedom agenda without the taint of its author's name.

As for the caveats, Mr. Obama missed a chance to remind his audience that no country has done more than the U.S. to liberate Muslims from oppression -- in Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo and above all in Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than 50 million people were freed by American arms from two of the most extreme tyrannies in modern history. His insistence on calling Iraq a "war of choice" is a needless insult to Mr. Bush that diminishes the cause for which more than 4,000 Americans have died.

He also couldn't resist his by now familiar moral self-indulgence by asserting that he has "unequivocally prohibited the use of torture" and ordered Guantanamo closed. Aside from the fact that the U.S. wasn't torturing anyone before Mr. Obama came into office, his Arab hosts can see through his claims. They know the Obama Administration is "rendering" al Qaeda detainees to other countries, some of them Arab, where their rights and well-being are far less secure than at Gitmo.

The President also stooped to easy, but false, moral equivalence, most egregiously in comparing the U.S. role in an Iranian coup during the Cold War with revolutionary Iran's 30-year hostility toward the U.S. He also compared Israel's right to exist with Palestinian statehood. But while denouncing Israeli settlements was an easy applause line, removal of those settlements will do nothing to ease Israeli-Palestinian tensions if the result is similar to what happened when Israel withdrew its settlements from Gaza. We too favor a two-state solution -- as did President Bush -- but that solution depends on Palestinians showing the capacity to build domestic institutions that reject and punish terror against other Palestinians and their neighbors.

Hanging over all of this is the question of Iran. In his formal remarks, Mr. Obama promised only diplomacy without preconditions and warned about a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Yet surely Iran was at the top of his agenda in private with Mr. Mubarak and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, both of whom would quietly exult if the U.S. removed that regional threat. They were no doubt trying to assess if Mr. Obama is serious about stopping Tehran, or if he is the second coming of Jimmy Carter.

It is in those conversations, and in the hard calls the President will soon have to make, that his Middle East policy will stand or fall
23440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An Absolut outrage on: June 05, 2009, 05:18:02 AM
Pasted here from the Israel thread-- I also note that Tecate beer has an ad, the exact words of which slip my mind with a similar riff:

 angry angry angry

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

An Absolut Outrage
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, April 08, 2008 4:20 PM PT

The Border: A vodka maker's ad campaign in Mexico is more than a marketing faux pas that offends many Americans. There's a real movement out there that feels our Southwest is really occupied Mexico.

The first rule of marketing is know your customer base. So when the makers of Absolut vodka began an ad campaign in Mexico featuring what a map of North America might look like "In An Absolut World," it was well aware it might appeal to many Mexicans there and here.

The ad by the Swedish Absolut Spirits Co. features an 1830s era map where Mexico includes California, Texas, Arizona and other southwest states. The U.S. border lies where it was before the Mexican-American war of 1848 and before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo saw the Mexican territories of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico ceded to the U.S.

The campaign taps into the national pride of Mexicans, according to Favio Ucedo, creative director of the leading Latino advertising agency in the U.S., Grupo Gallegos.

"Mexicans talk about how the Americans stole their land," the Argentine native said of the Absolut campaign, "so this is their way of reclaiming it. It's very relevant and the Mexicans will love the idea."

This isn't the first ad campaign targeted at what some Mexican activists call the "Reconquista" movement of those who dream and work toward the day when the American Southwest will be reconquered. To them, illegal aliens crossing the U.S. border are merely returning home.

In 2005, a Los Angeles billboard advertising a Spanish-language newscast showed the Angel of Independence, a well-known monument in Mexico City, in the center of the L.A. skyline, with "CA" crossed out after "Los Angeles" and the word "Mexico" in bold red letters put in its place.

The activists working for this cause actually see themselves as "America's Palestinians" and view the Southwest as their Palestine and Los Angeles as their lost Jerusalem.

An editorial in the newspaper La Voz de Aztlan in Los Angeles stated: "There are great similarities between the political and economic condition of the Palestinians in occupied Palestine and that of La Raza in the southwest United States."

The editorial went on to say: "The similarities are many. The primary one, of course, is the fact that both La Raza and the Palestinians have been displaced by invaders that have used military means to conquer and occupy our territories."
A key player in the "Reconquista" movement is the National Council of La Raza. Its motto: "For the Race, everything. For those outside the Race, nothing."

Few caught the significance of the warmly received words of then-Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo before the Council in Chicago on July 27, 1997:
"I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders." During a 2001 visit to the U.S., President Vincente Fox repeated this line, calling for open borders and endorsing Mexico's new dual-citizenship law.

A secondary group in the "Reconquista" movement is an Hispanic student activist group known as MEChA, for Movimento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan).

It has spent the last three decades indoctrinating Latino students on American campuses, claiming that the American Southwest was stolen and should be returned to its rightful owners, the people of Mexico, under the name "Nation of Aztlan."

Aztlan is the mythical place where the Aztecs are said to have originated.

Former MEChA members include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was officially endorsed by La Raza for mayor and awarded La Raza's Graciela Olivarez award. Another MEChA member is former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who delivered the keynote address at La Raza's 2002 annual convention.

We have an idea: Let's build the border fence and pay for it by selling ad space, even to an ideologically driven company such as the makers of Absolut vodka. We'll drink to that.
23441  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: June 05, 2009, 05:08:31 AM
Grateful for my son's season in lacrosse.  He has grown mightily from the experience.  There is no greater joy for a father.
23442  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty 8/1-2 Fort Hood, TX on: June 05, 2009, 05:07:04 AM
I sent Gus a shell for a seminar flyer yesterday and he is now filling in the details.

How far is Austin from Fort Hood?
23443  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The KT conspiracy continues to take root on: June 05, 2009, 05:05:22 AM
http://maxiitheblindwatchmaker.blogspot.com/2009/06/month-of-dog-brothers-kali-tudo-tm.html
23444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 04, 2009, 04:31:45 PM
Ugh.

I am on my way out the door to pick up my son.

Anyone who wants to discuss things, please call me at 310-543-7521.  This is a 24 hour number.
23445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / June 6, 1944 on: June 04, 2009, 04:02:33 PM
President Reagan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEIqdcHbc8I

God bless America.
23446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq-6 on: June 04, 2009, 01:34:14 PM
(There is an attached foto which for security reasons is not posted here)

Hard to  believe that just a  couple of years ago al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI) beheaded 60 people in the soccer stadium and announced to the people of Hadithah that Hadithah was now the caliphate of AQI.  And here I am the other day on the rooftop of the Hadithah courthouse, where very few criminal cases were allowed by AQI for that period of time, without a single care in the world. 
 
The only reason I am wearing PPE (personal protection equipment) is because regulations require it.  Else, as USMC LT Wong said, you could walk down the streets of Hadithah in your PT uniform.
 
The people there are quite happy to have the Marines there.  The USMC saved them from the utter cruelty of life under AQI.  Of cousre, there was no AQI before we invaded.  Saddam would not have tolerated that crap.  He would have had them in the soccer stadium.
 
Today it bothers me immensely that we broke this place and plan on leaving before we fixed it.  Not because I believe we can make Iraq a democracy in our image.  I simply do not believe we can.  But because these people are trying very hard in the here and now to figure out what their new post-Saddam/post-AQI/post-militia world will be/should be like, but they haven't quite glued it all together.
23447  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / David Carradine: Suicide on: June 04, 2009, 12:33:08 PM
http://movies.yahoo.com:80/news/movies.ap.org/actor-david-carradine-found-dead-bangkok-ap
23448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Comparison with Argentinian fascism on: June 04, 2009, 07:59:34 AM
Sent to me by Scott Grannis

http://www.washingtontimes.com:80/news/2009/feb/15/the-peron-pattern/
23449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: June 04, 2009, 07:50:08 AM
This data from an email from economist Scott Grannis, whom I hold in highest regard, in reply to my questions to him (use search function for "Grannis" to find out more about who he is).  I find these numbers very interesting.

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

Latest data is 2006 for federal capgains collections: $118 billion. 
Figure it would not be more now, probably less due to stock market 
decline

Total federal corporate income tax receipts: $320 billion. So cutting 
the tax rate to 20% would give a static result of about $190 billion

On Feb 25, 2009, at 12:33 PM, Marc Denny wrote:

1) Total revenues from the Cap Gains tax?

2) Static revenue assumptions, revenue loss from cutting corp tax rate 
from 34% to 20%?

If a hassle, then nevermind.
23450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Lone Wolf operations on: June 04, 2009, 07:09:19 AM


June 3, 2009




By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

At approximately 10:30 a.m. on June 1, as two young U.S. soldiers stood in front of the Army Navy Career Center in west Little Rock, Ark., a black pickup pulled in front of the office and the driver opened fire on the two, killing one and critically wounding the other.

Eyewitnesses to the shooting immediately reported it to police, and authorities quickly located and arrested the suspect as he fled the scene. According to police, the suspect told the arresting officers that he had a bomb in his vehicle, but after an inspection by the police bomb squad, the only weapons police recovered from the vehicle were an SKS rifle and two pistols.

At a press conference, Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas identified the suspect as Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, a 21-year-old African-American man who had changed his name from Carlos Leon Bledsoe after converting to Islam. In Arabic, the word mujahid is the singular form of mujahideen, and it literally means one who engages in jihad. Although Mujahid is not an uncommon Muslim name, it is quite telling that a convert to Islam would choose such a name — one who engages in jihad — to define his new identity. Muhammad was originally from Memphis, Tenn., but according to news reports was living and working in Little Rock.

Chief Thomas said Muhammad admitted to the shootings and told police that he specifically targeted soldiers. During an interrogation with a Little Rock homicide detective, Muhammad reportedly said that he was angry at the U.S. Army because of their attacks against Muslims overseas, that he opened fire intending to kill the two soldiers and that he would have killed more if they had been in the parking lot. These statements are likely what Chief Thomas was referring to when he noted in his press conference that Muhammad appears to have had political and religious motives for the attack and that it was conducted in response to U.S. military operations.

Chief Thomas also stated that the initial police investigation has determined that Muhammad acted alone and was not part of a wider conspiracy, but given that the shooting was an act of domestic terrorism directed against U.S military personnel, a thorough investigation has been launched by the FBI to ensure that Muhammad was not part of a larger group planning other attacks.

ABC News has reported that Muhammad had traveled to Yemen after his conversion, though the date of that travel and its duration were not provided in those reports. ABC also reported that while in Yemen, Muhammad was apparently arrested for carrying a fraudulent Somali passport and that upon his return from Yemen, the FBI opened a preliminary investigation targeting him.

The fact that the FBI was investigating Muhammad but was unable to stop this attack illustrates the difficulties that lone wolf militants present to law enforcement and security personnel, and also highlights some of the vulnerabilities associated with using law enforcement as the primary counterterrorism tool.

Challenges of the Lone Wolf

STRATFOR has long discussed the threat posed by lone wolf militants and the unique challenges they pose to law enforcement and security personnel. Of course, the primary challenge is that, by definition, lone wolves are solitary actors and it can be very difficult to determine their intentions before they act because they do not work with others. When militants are operating in a cell consisting of more than one person, there is a larger chance that one of them will get cold feet and reveal the plot to authorities, that law enforcement and intelligence personnel will intercept a communication between conspirators, or that law enforcement authorities will be able to introduce an informant into the group, as was the case in the recently foiled plot to bomb two Jewish targets in the Bronx and shoot down a military aircraft at a Newburgh, N.Y., Air National Guard base.

Obviously, lone wolves do not need to communicate with others or include them in the planning or execution of their plots. This ability to fly solo and under the radar of law enforcement has meant that some lone wolf militants such as Joseph Paul Franklin, Theodore Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph were able to operate for years before being identified and captured.

Lone wolves also pose problems because they can come from a variety of backgrounds with a wide range of motivations. While some lone wolves are politically motivated, others are religiously motivated and some are mentally unstable. Even among the religiously motivated there is variety. In addition to Muslim lone wolves like Muhammad, Mir Amal Kansi, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet and John Allen Muhammad, we have also seen anti-Semitic/Christian-identity adherents like Buford Furrow and Eric Rudolph, radical Roman Catholics like James Kopp and radical Protestants like Paul Hill. Indeed, the day before the Little Rock attack, Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion lone wolf gunman, killed prominent abortion doctor George Tiller in Wichita, Kan.

In addition to the wide spectrum of ideologies and motivations among lone wolves, there is also the issue of geographic dispersal. As we’ve seen from the lone wolf cases listed above, they have occurred in many different locations and are not just confined to attacks in Manhattan or Washington, D.C. They can occur anywhere.

Moreover, it is extremely difficult to differentiate between those extremists who intend to commit attacks from those who simply preach hate or hold radical beliefs (things that are not in themselves illegal due to First Amendment protections in the United States). Therefore, to single out likely lone wolves before they strike, authorities must spend a great deal of time and resources looking at individuals who might be moving from radical beliefs to radical actions. With such a large universe of potential suspects, this is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Limitations on Both Sides

Due to the challenges lone wolf militants present, the concept of leaderless resistance has been publicly and widely embraced in both the domestic terrorism and jihadist realms. However, despite this advocacy and the ease with which terrorist attacks can be conducted against soft targets, surprisingly few terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by lone wolf operatives. In fact, historically, we have seen more mentally disturbed lone gunmen than politically motivated lone wolf terrorists. A main reason for this is that it can be somewhat difficult to translate theory into action, and as STRATFOR has frequently noted, there is often a disconnect between intent and capability.

Because of the difficulty in obtaining the skills required to conduct a terrorist attack, many lone wolves do not totally operate in a vacuum, and many of them (like Muhammad) will usually come to somebody’s attention before they conduct an attack. Many times this occurs as they seek the skills or materials required to conduct a terrorist attack, which Muhammad appears to have been doing in Yemen.

However, in this case, it is important to remember that even though Muhammad had been brought to the FBI’s attention (probably through information obtained from the Yemeni authorities by the CIA in Yemen), he was only one of the thousands of such people the FBI opens a preliminary inquiry on each year. A preliminary inquiry is the basic level of investigation the FBI conducts, and it is usually opened for a limited period of time (though it can be extended with a supervisor’s approval). Unless the agents assigned to the inquiry turn up sufficient indication that a law has been violated, the inquiry will be closed.

If the inquiry indicates that there is the likelihood that a U.S. law has been violated, the FBI will open a full-field investigation into the matter. This will allow the bureau to exert significantly more investigative effort on the case and devote more investigative resources toward solving it. Out of the many preliminary inquiries opened on suspected militants, the FBI opens full-field investigations only on a handful of them. So, if the information reported by ABC News is correct, the FBI was not conducting surveillance on Muhammad because to do so it would have had to have opened a full-field investigation.

Of course, now that Muhammad has attacked, it is easy to say that the FBI should have paid more attention to him. Prior to an attack, however, intelligence is seldom, if ever, so black and white. Sorting out the individuals who intend to conduct attacks from the larger universe of people who hold radical thoughts and beliefs and assigning law enforcement and intelligence resources to monitor the activities of the really dangerous people has long been one of the very difficult tasks faced by counterterrorism authorities.

This difficulty is magnified when the FBI is looking at a lone wolf target because there is no organization, chain of command or specific communications channel on which to focus intelligence resources and gather information. Lacking information that would have tied Muhammad to other militant individuals or cells, or that would have indicated he was inclined to commit a crime, the FBI had little basis for opening a full-field investigation into his activities. These limitations, and the FBI’s notorious bureaucracy (as seen in its investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui and the 9/11 hijackers), are the longstanding shortfalls of the law-enforcement element of counterterrorism policy (the other elements are diplomacy, financial sanctions, intelligence and military).

However, politics have proved obstructive to all facets of counterterrorism policy. And politics may have been at play in the Muhammad case as well as in other cases involving Black Muslim converts. Several weeks ago, STRATFOR heard from sources that the FBI and other law enforcement organizations had been ordered to “back off” of counterterrorism investigations into the activities of Black Muslim converts. At this point, it is unclear to us if that guidance was given by the White House or the Department of Justice, or if it was promulgated by the agencies themselves, anticipating the wishes of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

As STRATFOR has previously noted, the FBI has a culture that is very conservative and risk-averse. Many FBI supervisors are reluctant to authorize investigations that they believe may have negative blow-back on their career advancement. In light of this institutional culture, and the order to be careful in investigations relating to Black Muslim converts, it would not be at all surprising to us if a supervisor refused to authorize a full-field investigation of Muhammad that would have included surveillance of his activities. Though in practical terms, even if a full-field investigation had been authorized, due to the caution being exercised in cases related to Black Muslim converts, the case would most likely have been micromanaged to the point of inaction by the special agent in charge of the office involved or by FBI headquarters.

Even though lone wolves operate alone, they are still constrained by the terrorist attack cycle, and because they are working alone, they have to conduct each step of the cycle by themselves. This means that they are vulnerable to detection at several different junctures as they plan their attacks, the most critical of which is the surveillance stage of the operation. Muhammad did not just select that recruiting center at random and attack on the spot. He had cased it prior to the attack just as he had been taught in the militant training camps he attended in Yemen. Law enforcement officials have reported that Muhammad may also have researched potential government and Jewish targets in Little Rock, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Louisville and Memphis.

Had the FBI opened a full-field investigation on Muhammad, and had it conducted surveillance on him, it would have been able to watch him participate in preoperational activities such as conducting surveillance of potential targets and obtaining weapons.

There is certainly going to be an internal inquiry at the FBI and Department of Justice — and perhaps even in Congress — to determine where the points of failure were in this case. We will be watching with interest to see what really transpired. The details will be extremely interesting, especially coming at a time when the Obama administration appears to be following the Clinton-era policy of stressing the primacy of the FBI and the law enforcement aspect of counterterrorism policy at the expense of intelligence and other elements.

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