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23451  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Parables on: September 15, 2011, 01:56:13 PM
My bad.  It must be on the DBMA Association forum  wink
23452  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: September 15, 2011, 01:51:58 PM
IMHO he would make a great VP candidate right now.
23453  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Baraq's back door bail out and sabotage of Tenth Amendment on: September 15, 2011, 01:33:36 PM
By PAUL E. PETERSON
AND DANIEL NADLER
Last Thursday, the president urged Congress to pony up roughly $200 billion in taxpayer money to "provide more jobs for teachers [and] more jobs for construction workers" and more money to carry out other state and local activities. He urges Congress to spend this money even after handing out hundreds of billions of dollars for similar purposes as part of the 2009 stimulus package, as well as a score and more billion dollars again in 2010.

These vast contributions to the coffers of state and local governments, though pitched as a jobs bill, are in reality the latest in a series of bailouts for debt-ridden state and local governments. They are of special benefit to states in the blue regions of the country where the president's most fervent supporters reside.

In many blue states, legislators have copied the politicians in Washington by running up state debts to extraordinary levels. Nationwide, state debt is running around $3 trillion. If unfunded pension liabilities are factored in, estimated liabilities leap forward by another $1 trillion to $3 trillion, depending on the optimism of the assumptions made.

The bond market has taken notice. Before the 2008 financial crisis, state sovereign debt was just about the safest place to invest. Because investors did not pay taxes on the interest, states were able to borrow money at rates below those paid for federal securities. With the onset of the financial crisis, not only did borrowing costs rise across the board, but differences in interest rates among states widened dramatically. Bond holders concluded that some states, like Greece, had been extraordinarily profligate and, even worse, lacked the will to rein in their expenditures.

Enlarge Image

CloseChad Crowe
 .In a new study at Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance, we discovered why the Obama administration is so interested in helping out the states. States with a bluish hue—that is, states with legislatures that are heavily Democratic and have a highly unionized public-sector work force—must pay interest rates that are often an extra half a percentage point higher than states with a reddish coloring.

Specifically, a 20 percentage-point increment in either the Democratic share of the state legislature or a comparable increase in the share of the public work force that is unionized drives up interest rates by nearly a half a percentage point on a five-year security note. That amount is nontrivial. In Obama's home state of Illinois, it is costing governments over $700 million annually.

The impact of these political factors on interest rates is in addition to the impact of standard economic factors, such as a state's unemployment rate, its gross domestic product growth, and its debt-to-GDP ratio, all of which are themselves shaped in part by the state's political climate.

In short, the bond market has concluded that the more unionized the state and the bluer its political coloring, the riskier it is to hold bonds marketed by that state.

States will face even higher interest rates if the president's proposed limit on the deductibility of state and municipal bond interest income (to help pay for the jobs plan) is enacted. If the interest is no longer deductible, investors will demand a higher rate of return for buying bonds, and state calls for more federal aid will intensify.

Federal rescue of states is a dramatic departure from past practice. State bankruptcies date back to the 1840s when, amid a financial crisis, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and five other states discovered they had invested too heavily in infrastructure. The last state bankruptcy was in Arkansas during the 1930s. But overall the instances were few; in each case the federal government refused to come up with a fix.

Bankrupt states paid the price, but for the country as a whole, a system of fiscally sovereign states has proven incredibly beneficial to the nation's economic well-being. Every state is responsible for its own police, fire, schools, transport and much more, and most of the time they do reasonably well. If they manage their affairs so as to attract business, commerce and talented workers, states prosper. If states make a mess of things, citizens and businesses vote with their feet, marching off to a part of the country that works better.

It is this exceptional federalist system that helped drive the rapid growth of the American economy throughout the first two centuries of the country's history. Because state and local governments competed with one another for venture capital, entrepreneurial talent and skilled workers, governments generally had to be attentive to the needs of both citizens and commerce.

Related Video
 Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on whether Obama's jobs plan can pass the Senate.
..When it comes to fiscal sovereignty, U.S. federalism is exceptional. Hardly any other country in the world has anything like it. Only Switzerland and Canada—two nations that aren't doing that badly these days—come close.

But federal fiscal bailouts put our federal system at risk. In essence, the national government is acting as if states are too big to fail. In the next financial crisis, the federal government may decide that states need to be treated like General Motors or, at least, be given ever bigger handouts of the kind the Obama administration seems committed to making.

But if the federal government is going to tacitly assume responsibility for state debts, then those $3 trillion in sovereign state debt must be added to the $14 trillion national debt that has already caused grave concern, pushing the current U.S. debt into the danger zone. Even if pension liabilities are ignored, the combined federal-state-local debt runs in excess of 120% of GDP.

The costs go beyond dollars and cents. The more often the federal government bails out the states, the more Washington bureaucrats will insist on regulating state and local affairs. At some point the United States will see the end of state fiscal sovereignty and the demise our federal system of government.

Mr. Peterson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the director of Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance, where Mr. Nadler is a research fellow. The study mentioned in this op-ed is available at www.ksg.harvard.edu/pepg.
23454  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 15, 2011, 01:23:14 PM
Just a little red X in a little box showing in the last two entries.
23455  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: September 15, 2011, 01:20:06 PM
"As any good High School student will tell you, any powers not enumerated specifically in the constitution are reserved to the states themselves. This is where the states get their authority to issue carry permits as they see fit. However, by not providing universal reciprocity the states have set up a condition where a citizen in one state may choose not to travel in interstate commerce due to that lack of reciprocity. Because of that effect on interstate commerce, Congress has the ability to act."

I have a bit of a problem here.  I think current Interstate Commerce clause jurisprudence exceeds by quite a bit what the Constitution really says.   It makes sense to me that each state find its way on these things.
23456  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: September 14, 2011, 06:26:32 PM
Once again we are blessed to have the drummer "Fish" (formerly of "Fishbone") and perhaps a friend of his with us.
23457  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: September 14, 2011, 10:44:55 AM
Subscribe to The Patriot Post — It's Right and It's FREE: click here.

Chronicle · September 14, 2011

The Foundation
"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." --John Marshall

Editorial Exegesis
"President Obama unveiled part two of his American Jobs Act on Monday, and it turns out to be another permanent increase in taxes to pay for more spending and another temporary tax cut. No surprise there. What might surprise Americans, however, is how the President is setting up the U.S. economy for one of the biggest tax increases in history in 2013. Mr. Obama said last week that he wants $240 billion in new tax incentives for workers and small business, but the catch is that all of these tax breaks would expire at the end of next year. To pay for all this, White House budget director Jack Lew also proposed $467 billion in new taxes that would begin a mere 16 months from now. The tax list includes limiting deductions for those earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for couples), limiting tax breaks for oil and gas companies, and a tax increase on carried interest earned by private equity firms. These tax increases would not be temporary. What this means is that millions of small-business owners had better enjoy the next 16 months, because come January 2013 they are going to get hit with a giant tax bill. ... For the White House, the policy calendar is dictated above all by the political necessities of the 2012 election. Mr. Obama will take his chances on 2013 if he can cajole the private economy to create enough new jobs over the next year to win re-election, even if those jobs and growth are temporary. Business owners and workers who would prefer to prosper beyond Election Day aren't likely to share Mr. Obama's enthusiasm once they see the great tax cliff approaching. Look out below." --The Wall Street Journal

What do you think of Obama's proposed tax hikes?
Upright
"When President Obama outlined his $450 billion jobs plan in a speech before Congress last week, he promised it would all be 'paid for,' and assured us he would present another plan outlining how he planned to do so. ... So much for the 'balanced approach' Obama was so fond of during the debt ceiling debate. The administration will cover the cost of the spending in its new jobs proposal solely by increasing taxes. ... Sound familiar? Recall this line from Obama's speech last week: 'This isn't political grandstanding. This isn't class warfare. This is simple math.' Republicans chuckled when he said that. And now the administration has shown why their laughter was warranted." --National Review's Andrew Stiles

"President Obama's jobs program calls for cuts in both sides of the payroll tax. That tax finances Social Security and Medicare. Social Security and Medicare are already taking in less money than they need to pay retirees. So they will have to cash in more of the Treasury IOUs left behind when previous surpluses were used to finance general expenditures. But the Treasury is also already running a deficit, a trillion dollars-plus. So it will have to borrow more in the capital markets in order to pay back the Social Security and Medicare funds. Unless Obama makes up the lost revenue by changing the tax code. But then money will be withdrawn from the economy in the form of higher taxes so it can be put back into the economy through the payroll-tax cut. Somehow that's supposed to stimulate the economy." --Freeman editor Sheldon Richman

"The White House's proposed means of paying for the 'jobs bill' the president called on Congress to adopt last week really sheds light on the cynicism and confusion at the heart of the president's new campaign theme. In order to be able to insist that he is proposing ideas but Republicans are unwilling to act, the president will apparently propose exactly the same set of massive tax increases that even Democrats in a Democratically-controlled Congress were unwilling to consider in the midst of the Obamacare debate in 2009. ... If telling voters you're unable to do your job were a wise re-election strategy, this might be a clever way to do it. But it isn't." --Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center

"The fact that a mere seven years after being attacked by Muslims, we elected a guy who spent his early years in Islamic schools in Indonesia; his most formative years being raised in Hawaii by white socialists and tutored by a black communist; and his adulthood, attending a black racist church in Chicago, while hanging around with unrepentant radical terrorists, strongly suggests that America should have had its head examined." --columnist Burt Prelutsky


Essential Liberty
Point: "Many people think that when the government takes payroll tax from their paychecks, it goes to something like a savings account. Seniors who collect Social Security think they're just getting back money that they put into their 'account.' Or they think it's like an insurance policy -- you win if you live long enough to get more than you paid in. Neither is true. Nothing is invested. The money taken from you was spent by government that year. Right away. There's no trust fund. The plan is unsustainable." --columnist John Stossel

Counterpoint: "Americans might listen to someone who calls Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme,' if he goes on to explain that what he means is that it cannot deliver the benefits it promises without significant reforms. But someone who seems eager to get the federal government out of the business of ensuring retirement security altogether will find a less receptive audience." --National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru

"Regardless of whether you believe the Social Security system, as now structured, satisfies the precise elements of a Ponzi scheme, you have to admit that if it had been correctly designed and administered, it would not be approaching insolvency and threatening our liberty and prosperity." --columnist David Limbaugh

Insight
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." --British Prime Minister William Pitt (1759-1806)

"Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone." --French economist, statesman and author, Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850)

The Demo-gogues
Broken record: "This is the bill that Congress needs to pass. ... No games. No politics. No delays." --Barack Obama, gamer and hardball politico

From the campaigner in chief: "[M]y job as president of the United States is not to worry about my job." --Barack Obama, who plans to spend $1 billion campaigning to keep his job

Hope: "Now, my hope is that when we are on the other side of it, folks will look back and say, 'You know, he wasn't a bad captain of the ship.'" --Barack Obama, U.S.S. Titanic

False choices: "I urge reasonable Republicans to resist the voices of the Tea Party and others who would oppose this legislation and [instead] root for our economy. We must not continue to bow to the Tea Party Republicans willing to do anything to hurt the president. [We] cannot allow their radical agenda to crowd out America's jobs agenda." --Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) urging Congress to resist the Tea Party and pass Obama's jobs plan

Civility: "What I saw [Monday night] in that debate, Andrea, was Republican candidates for president worshiping at the altar of the Tea Party." --DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz


Dezinformatsia
Blind partisanship: "What happened after 9/11 -- and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not -- was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. ... The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it." --New York Times columnist Paul Krugman

Misunderstanding sacrifice: "But this is a war -- if you use the Bush terminology, the war against terrorism -- that has been very costly to this country and continues to be costly. ... And when the president goes before the Congress and has to beg for money to modernize schools and build science labs, that's just one small example of the cost we've paid with the obsessive focus on terrorism this last decade." --Newsweek's Eleanor Clift

Sycophants: "Occurs to me we are sitting 30 feet from Harry Truman's official White House portrait. Members of your base are asking: 'When are you going to get your Harry Truman on?'" --NBC's Brian Williams to Obama

Conservatives are dangerous: "This is what [the Tea Party] wanted to hear from these candidates [in Monday night's GOP debate]. There are a lot of people around the country who are just like the folks in this room. And yet there are a huge number of people, an equal number of people, who I think were horrified by what they heard in this room. I was getting notes about they ought to keep these people locked up and not let them out. Don't let them do anything to the country." --CNN political analyst David Gergen

Newspulper Headlines:
Out on a Limb: "FACT CHECK: Obama's Jobs Plan Paid For? Seems Not" --Associated Press

We Blame Global Warming: "Obama Gets Cool Response From Republicans, Even Some Dems" --TheHill.com

Questions Nobody Is Asking: "Can Obama's Rhetoric Lift the Economy?" --Christian Science Monitor

Math Is Hard: "Hillary Clinton Says Chances She Will Run Against Barack Obama 'Below Zero'" --Mediaite.com

News You Can Use: "Waving Robotic Crab Arm Attracts Females" --BBC website

Bottom Story of the Day: "Al Gore in 24-Hour Broadcast to Convert Climate Skeptics" --Reuters

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

Village Idiots
Twisted "logic": "I have to say that I think the president's team has been rather brilliant putting this [jobs bill] together. If the American Jobs Act -- that's a terrific name for it -- and he's paying for it by doing something that 70 percent of Americans believe would be the right thing to do, which is to raise taxes on the people who got us into this mess in the first place. So now the Republicans are going to have to vote to, if they want to kill this bill, they're gonna have to vote to give all the people that Americas can't stand more money. And in doing so they'll keep ordinary Americans from getting jobs." --former DNC head Howard Dean

All or nothing: "We want [Congress] to act now on this [Obama jobs] package. We're not in a negotiation to break up the package. And it's not an a la carte menu. It is a strategy to get this country moving." --former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod

Gun grabbers: "[T]he underlying activity of possessing or transporting an accessible and loaded weapon is itself dangerous and undesirable, regardless of the intent of the bearer since it may lead to the endangerment of public safety. Access to a loaded weapon on a public street creates a volatile situation vulnerable to spontaneous lethal aggression in the event of road rage or any other disagreement or dispute.... hold that the state has an important government interest in promoting public safety and preventing crime. ... As crafted, the statute seeks to limit the use of handguns to self-defensive purposes -- a use which, although in this context existing outside the home, is nonetheless a hallmark of Heller -- rather than for some other use that has not been recognized as falling within the protections of the Second Amendment." --Southern District Judge Cathy Seibel of New York claiming that gun carry permits are not a constitutional right


Short Cuts
"Has Obama ever grown even a potted plant, much less a business, a bank, a hospital or any of the numerous other institutions whose decisions he wants to control and override?" --economist Thomas Sowell

"Obama is like the guy in the bar who says, 'I'll stand drinks for everyone in the house,' and then adds, 'Those guys over there are going to pay for them.'" --political analyst Michael Barone

"L.A. is considering a ban on both plastic AND paper grocery bags. Fine. If I ever go shopping in L.A., my bags will be made from the fur of animals I killed myself." --former Senator Fred Thompson

"President Obama's speechwriter Jon Lovett resigned to pursue what he called a more fulfilling life in Los Angeles writing comedy. He helped write the stimulus bill, the health care law and the president's jobs plan. His work as a comedy writer in Washington is done." --comedian Argus Hamilton

"Government statistics show the U.S. economy created zero jobs in August. President Obama now says he's confident this month he can double that." --comedian Jay Leno

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
23458  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / LA Times: Retaliation for good deed on: September 14, 2011, 10:05:16 AM
Girl slain, 2 wounded in apparent retaliation for good deed
A Good Samaritan stops the beating of a woman down the street in San Bernardino only to have the attacker open fire on his house an hour later. The police chief vows to catch the killer.

 
Nylah Franco-Torres, 3, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the hospital
By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
 
September 14, 2011
Fourteen-year-old Destiny Hull spent Tuesday morning mopping up dried blood from her grandmother's front porch, stains from an evening that began with an act of kindness and ended with an apparent act of vengeance that left a small girl dead and a pregnant woman and her young daughter seriously wounded.

The series of events in San Bernardino began Monday evening when a Good Samaritan who lived in the house — police won't say who for fear of tainting possible eyewitness accounts — saw a man beating a woman down the street, charged in and broke up the fight, allowing the woman to escape.

An hour later, the woman's attacker came to the male Good Samaritan's home and opened fire. Destiny's sister, who was five months pregnant, was shot in the jaw and neck, and bullets hit Destiny's two 3-year-old nieces in the head.

Destiny, overwhelmed by tears and fits of anger at the invading news cameras, stayed home from school to help clean up.

"I just can't believe this happened," she said, scrubbing the blood away from the porch, where the walls were pocked with bullet holes.

The shooting outraged residents of the working-class neighborhood. A large extended family lived in the home of Sophia Cardona, the matriarch who was inside cleaning and cooking tacos when she heard the shots.

Her grandson ran to the porch, scooped up the wounded children and drove them to the hospital.

"Whatever happened … was cowardice. He knew what he was doing and was trying to hurt someone. But he didn't have to hurt the children," Cardona said, breaking down in tears. "We lost one of our babies."

San Bernardino Police Chief Keith Kilmer called the shooting "tragic, senseless and despicable" and vowed to catch the killer.

"We will find you, we will seek you out and we will bring you to justice," Kilmer said at police headquarters, six blocks from where the shooting occurred.

The attack was the deadliest of four shootings overnight and through the morning in San Bernardino, a blue-collar town that for the last five years has worked feverishly to erase its image as a city with one of the state's highest levels of violence, attributed, in part, to an influx of L.A. gang members.

In the 1990s, the police officers association hawked "Murder City" T-shirts to raise money for a police memorial. But violent crime has dropped 40% since city voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase in 2006 for anti-crime programs.

"Just this week, I was talking to the police chief about the fact that we've had a remarkably peaceful summer in our fair city — 66 days of no homicides," Mayor Patrick Morris said. "And then the explosion came last night, and it was beyond tragic."

"Today, we'll come together as a city and find justice for this family," he added.

Cardona's neighborhood is one of many scarred by the crushing years of recession in the Inland Empire. The windows of the house next door are boarded up with plywood, and a "for sale" sign is posted on one. Empty shops dot the nearby retail strips.

"It's a bad area, it's a very bad area, and it's getting worse," said Janie Lopez, 58, who lives in an apartment across the street from the shooting site.

Lopez said Cardona's front patio is often crowded with family, and on occasion, she's seen police at the home.

Police spokeswoman Lt. Gwendolyn Waters confirmed that there have been "criminal issues at that house over the years," but emphasized that detectives believe this shooting was unrelated. "This was someone who was just trying to do a good deed," Waters said.

Police declined to release specifics about who they believe was the intended target of the attack other than to say that the gunman knew the Good Samaritan lived at the house.

The shooting happened about 7:45 p.m. Monday as the family was about to sit down for dinner and the kids were playing out front. The next morning, dolls were still lying on the concrete porch, along with three empty 40-ounce beer bottles.

Nylah Franco-Torres, 3, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the hospital. Cardona said her great-granddaughter was a joyful child who didn't deserve such a violent fate.

"She was a sweet little girl. She loved going to the store. She was happy," Cardona said. "The first thing she did in the morning was turn on the TV and watch cartoons."

Cardona said her granddaughter La-Donna Howie, 21, and Howie's daughter Justine were the others wounded. Howie, who is five months pregnant, was listed in stable condition at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. Her unborn child was unharmed and in good condition, police said. Justine was in extremely critical condition at Loma Linda University Medical Center with a head wound.

Police described the suspect as a black man in his early 20s, about 6 feet tall, weighing 160 to 170 pounds, with short dark hair.

"I'm concerned that maybe this man will not be found," Cardona said. "But we will keep going."

23459  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: Never despair 1777 on: September 14, 2011, 09:43:22 AM
I would not have guessed that the three of us have the same , , , avatar.  cheesy

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

"We should never despair, our situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new exertions and proportion our efforts to the exigency of the times." --George Washington, letter to Philip Schuyler, 1777
23460  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nixon's resignation on: September 14, 2011, 08:30:32 AM
Including some footage before he goes on the air:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLHc8NR_v-8
23461  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: September 14, 2011, 08:14:19 AM
James Madison
23462  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Who gives? on: September 14, 2011, 08:07:16 AM
Hat tip to GM

http://philanthropy.com/article/Who-Gives-More-Democrats-or/49377/?otd=Y2xpY2t0aHJ1Ojo6c293aWRnZXQ6OjpjaGFubmVsOm5ld3MsYXJ0aWNsZTpjaGFyaXR5cy1wb2xpdGljYWwtZGl2aWRlOjo6Y2hhbm5lbDpsaXZlLWRpc2N1c3Npb25zLGFydGljbGU6d2hvLWdpdmVzLW1vcmUtZGVtb2NyYXRzLW9yLXJlcHVibGljYW5zLQ==

November 28, 2006

Who Gives More: Democrats or Republicans?


Tuesday, November 28, 2006, at 12 noon, U.S. Eastern time
 
In his new book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, Arthur C. Brooks presents research showing that religious conservatives are more charitable than secular liberals. He says people who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others. Included in his book is an analysis of 15 sets of data that he says all came to the same conclusion.
 
What are the implications of his findings? Does it matter to charities whether they get more money from Democrats or Republicans? What can be done to counter these trends? What research data was used to reach these conclusions?
 
Related Article
 •Charity's Political Divide (11/23/2006)
 
The Guest
 
Arthur C. Brooks is professor of public administration at Syracuse University and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal. His new book, Who Really Cares, was just published by Basic Books.
 
A transcript of the chat follows.
 
Stacy Palmer (Moderator):
    Good afternoon. I'm Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy and am pleased to welcome you to our discussion about a new book on charitable giving that is provoking much debate around the country. We'll be taking your questions throughout the hour, so please send them in -- just click on the link on this page that says "ask a question." Mr. Brooks, thank you for joining us and could you tell us what prompted you to write this book?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Ten years ago in graduate school, I began studying the economics of nonprofits and charitable giving. Like most everybody else in the field, I looked at tax rates, deductions, exemptions, incentives. I also looked at the amount of money people gave away, and how much it could pay for in important services.
 
But it always seemed to me that something was missing from the scholarly discussions of charity in America. Charitable behavior is certainly affected by economic incentives, and it is an important source of money for nonprofits. But giving is, more importantly, a question of our values.
 
Giving is a uniquely common phenomenon in America: We give more time and money than the citizens of any other developed country. And I think this expresses some of our core values. To reduce the phenomenon of giving to money flows and tax incentives, it seemed to me, was to miss the main point of giving for so many people. When people talk about their giving, they talk about causes that really move them -- helping the poor, participating fully in their churches, or supporting a social cause their care deeply about. They talk about being their best selves, and they talk about the benefits they enjoy themselves.
 
Giving is a fundamental form of expression for most people, and one that transcends both consumer transactions and the ballot box. Yet I saw that as scholars and experts, we often treat it in a rather materialistic way, as just another instrument of funding or tool of public policy.
 
So a couple of years ago I set out to take a serious look at giving from a values perspective. Who Really Cares is the result. It lays out the best evidence -- as I see it -- about how currents in American culture today are pushing some people to give, other people not to give, and why it all matters.
 
That said, the book is not intended as the last word on giving values in America -- far from it. My hope is to start a conversation on the topic (like we're having here today), and with a little luck, to stimulate more research. I'd love it if, in 5 years we have a bigger knowledge about why people give and why they don't, and I can see which of the results in this book stand up to further scrutiny by scholars and practitioners.
 
My thanks to all of you who are making time to read the book, and to participate in this discussion.
 
Question from Jim Girvan, College Health Sciences Dean:
    I am intrigued by your findings and will definitely buy the book. My question is two-fold: first, as a member of family who gives a high percentage of our income to church and a rather large percentage to charity as well, my wife and I acknowledge much of our church offerings go to running the "business of the church." Do your statistics adjust for the "average 150-700 member congregation" where 70-75% of the offering monies are needed for church functions/personnel/maintenance?
 
Second -- My wife and I also view our taxes as one way we assist the community. By pooling monies, each of us enjoys services that few of us could afford by ourselves, and many of those services are available to those who can't pay. Is there a way your calculations could be adjusted to reflect the social welfare impact of tax monies on the populace as a whole? (remembering that I view them as donations even though I admit they are not voluntary)
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Thanks for your questions, Jim. I agree it's important to look at giving aside from sacramental contributions to get a fair picture of things. So one of the things I do in the book is to compare secular and religious folks only in terms of explicitly nonreligious giving and volunteering. There's still a huge difference:
 
Religiously-observant people are generally about 10 percentage points more likely than people with "no religion" (or who never practice) to give to nonreligious causes, and about 25 points less likely to volunteer.
 
Regarding taxes, I think it's true that some see them as a voluntary part of the social contract to help others. The problem with trying to make a measure that combines donations with taxes is that so many people don't pay their taxes with this intent, and voluntary charity is so different in terms of deciding where and how money is spent. Still, I discuss the fact that this point has conceptual validity in some places, especially Europe where social spending really is high.
 
Question from Arnold Hirshon, NELINET (non-profit library consortium):
    1. Is there any evidence that conservatives generally have more disposable income, and therefore are better able to give more -- both on a dollar basis and as a percentage of income?
 
2. Did the study show the extent to which conservatives vs. liberals actually lend their time to help others versus open their wallets?
 
3. Did the study show the value of a tax benefit for conservatives versus liberals?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Great questions, Arnold. In general, there is little evidence that conservatives are richer than liberals. In the data I used in this book, conservatives earned slightly less than liberals, but donated more in each income class. Regarding volunteerism, the gap is statistically insignificant between liberals and conservatives, although adding in religion makes a gap open up (religious conservatives volunteer a lot more than secular liberals). It's not clear whether conservatives or liberals enjoy a disproportionate tax benefit from giving, although you might plausibly argue that liberals generally get a bigger benefit because they reside in greatest numbers in high-tax ("blue") states, and thus can deduct more. Still, the emerging research on tax shows that deducibility actually affects giving behavior relatively little for most folks.
 
Question from Kim S., consultant:
    I consider myself to be a "compassionate conservative" working in the nonprofit sector (having worked in the corporate sector for many years.) It is my impression that the nonprofit sector skews liberal/Democrat, at least at the general policy and advocacy levels. Do you agree, and if so, how can Republicans and conservatives become more of a presence, or have a stronger voice, in the nonprofit sector?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Kim, I think it's probably true that nonprofit managers fall disproportionately on the liberal side -- like academics, journalists, and others. (One big exception is certainly Evangelical and traditional Catholic clergy.) If conservatives want to change the political makeup of nonprofit management, it probably means taking areas like social entrepreneurship more seriously. An example of such an effort is the Manhattan Institute's Center for Civic Innovation.
 
 
 
Question from Marilyn, small Midwestern college:
    Are these two possibilities: Republicans have more money and need the tax write-offs and are more often sought out by charities; some people who describe themselves liberals (like me) share money in ways that are not recognized as charity (such as helping friends put their children through college or helping a physically handicapped co-worker pay for appropriate housing)? My husband and I also served for two years in a Christian volunteer service project, which has, as we knew it would, affected our long-term earnings and hence our retirement income.
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Thanks, Marilyn. There's no evidence that conservatives look for (or receive) tax write-offs more than liberals do. But to your other point, it is always possible that folks like you tend to give in different ways from conservatives n ways that are not picked up in the data. The evidence is pretty incomplete on this point, although it suggests that conservatives actually give informally in some ways more than liberals (e.g. giving blood). But it is always possible that, in other ways, they give less. I am open to this possibility and believe it needs more study.
 
Stacy Palmer (Moderator):
    Mr. Brooks will continue to take your questions throughout the hour and we encourage you to join the conversation. To submit your question, click on the link that says "ask a question."
 
Question from Ben Brumfield, nonprofit software provider:
    While corroborating your main points from his own research, James Lindgren has criticised your analysis for glossing over moderates, who apparently donate less than conservatives or liberals. Your own paper "Faith, Secularism, and Charity" suggested that intensity of political feeling mattered more than political orientation. Would you discuss the role of political moderates in Who Really Cares?
 
For Lindgren's commentary, see his post here: http://volokh.com/posts/1164012942.shtml
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Thanks, Ben. My comparison between liberals and conservatives in the book was motivated by the common stereotype that conservatives are less compassionate than liberals, so I really wanted to compare these two groups specifically. If I had been trying to argue that politics per se affected giving, I would have spent lots of space in the book looking at "moderates," who often have low civic engagement levels just as often they have weak political views. But the point in the book was to show that charity differences are actually due to attitudes and behaviors (such as religiosity and attitudes about the government) that go deeper than political affiliations. In the book, I actually point out the fact that when we correct for the "deep attitudes," politics don't predict giving very well. In other words, politics are correlated with giving at the group level and contradict the stereotypes about charity -- and that's important to know. But if we want to know exactly why this is, we have to go into much deeper than politics. Perhaps not surprisingly, that second story isn't the "top-line" one that's showing up in the press a lot.
 
Question from Stephen L. Rozman, Tougaloo College:
    Do you make a distinction between giving to religious organizations (including churches) and giving to other types of groups?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Stephen, Yes. But I should note that most of the data ask people to distinguish between religious and secular giving themselves, which injects some real precision into the distinction. My friend Alan Abramson has noted this in a couple of places. One of the reasons I used so many different data sources in the book is because I was worried about imprecision and bias from self-reported giving, and wanted to make sure lots of datasets told me more or less the same thing.
 
Question from Stacy Palmer:
    Professor Brooks, what difference will the Democratic takeover of Congress make in terms of charitable-giving policies?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    That's an important question for all of us in this discussion, I'm sure. One take on this question is provided in the last issue of Chronicle by Les Lenkowsky, and I recommend that editorial highly. I think it's fairly likely that we'll begin to see more support for increased regulation on private foundations. Also, the repeal of the estate tax is no longer remotely likely. Of course, the effect this latter policy has on giving is totally unknown, because people disagree whether the estate tax raises or lowers philanthropy.
 
Question from Harvey Blumberg, Montclair State University:
    Is income equality a factor? Also age?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Harvey, Absolutely. Beliefs about income equality and income redistribution lie behind very definite giving differences. Chapter 3 talks a lot about the fact that proponents of income equality by means of government redistribution mechanisms are less likely to give voluntarily to charity than those who oppose redistribution. Lots has been written about age as a factor in giving. In general, folks give more as they get older.
 
Question from Michael Kearns:
    In the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy Charitable Giving Indices: Social Indicators of Philanthropy by State study, the top 10 states for CWP Measure 4 of Giving Relative to Income Ranked by State are: New York, District of Columbia, Utah, California, Connecticut, Maryland , New Jersey, Georgia,Massachusetts and Hawaii. 8 of those states would be classified as "blue states" whereas the bottom 10 states are: Maine, Mississippi, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Iowa, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and North Dakota are almost exclusively red.
 
So my questions are:
 
1) Does this study contradict your book?
 
2) If the premise that conservatives give more than liberals, does it matter which state the conservatives live (i.e. do conservatives living in blue states give more than those in red states). And if so, why?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Thanks, Michael. There are various high-quality indices of giving by state and region, and they do indeed come to different conclusions. The simple one I use (comparing giving as a percentage of income with the electoral map) is supported to a large extent by the work at the Newtithing Group, and also by the giving data contained in the Indiana Center on Philanthropy's PSID data. That said, there are lots of ways to look at geography and giving, and the question is far from settled. But more importantly for this book, the main forces across individuals and states are not primarily political, but cultural. In answer to your second question, I think state matters less than things like religion. If the state counts per se, it will have to do with things like tax policies, which (in my view) are really not all that important.
 
Question from Walter Minot, U of South Alabama:
    Are there figures for conservative charitable giving apart from direct contributions to a person's parish church or local branch, which may be a form of self-serving convenience to keep the institution going?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Walter, my answer above to Jim sums that up pretty well. I'd like to point out, however, that even if giving to churches is something like a "club membership" for some folks, we still need to look at it as voluntarily supporting a civic organization, so it is not entirely dissimilar to other kinds of charitable giving.
 
Question from Tom S., educator:
    I am a fairly conservative Evangelical who gives significantly to charities, both religious and otherwise. I was recently at a liberal-focused educators' gathering where a speaker presented the Evangelical viewpoint very fairly and accurately, though it was clearly not her viewpoint. She mentioned the fact that Evangelicals are extremely generous. I knew this to be true, but was amazed to see the crowd's amazement at this statement. I was also refreshed to hear the comment made. Do you think there is a trend toward recognizing this reality? What evidence have you seen for (or against) such a trend?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Tom, There still exists the stereotype that conservatives n including conservative Christians n are inherently stingy people. This is strikingly common in much of academia, where it's possible not to even know an Evangelical person personally. I hope the truth becomes better known, because it will help religious and secular people work together with the facts in hand, and ultimately to increase American giving. If this happens, a big part of the reason will be because Evangelicals seek more to work with secularists and others in secular giving environments.
 
Question from Stacy Palmer:
    Based on your research, do you have any advice for how fund raisers can best appeal to potential donors?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Well, my first response is that fundraisers should actually APPEAL to donors more. It's really shocking how many nonprofits don't take fundraising seriously, or do so in a way that doesn't honor the intent or wishes of givers. My research shows me very clearly (and I hope shows my readers as well) that giving is hugely beneficial to givers themselves, and so nonprofits do an immense service to individuals, communities, and our nation as a whole by fundraising per se. I know it's counterintuitive, but fundraisers need to understand that one of a nonprofit's highest functions can be to connect people who have a need for services with people who have a need to give (that is, all of us).
 
Question from Tom S., Educator:
    In the Chronicle of Philanthropy article, you are quoted as saying, "I'm tithing my royalties assiduously." Tithing (giving 10%) is a strong Judeo-Christian concept. Did you find any parallel concept or pattern in the non-religious community?
 
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Tom, First of all, I kind of regretted seeing that quote in the story, because I didn't intend that comment to be a boastful one, but rather a statement of fact. I think there are effective standards of giving in secular communities, particularly in elite philanthropy. Where we can use more attention is in "regular" secular charity. It would be very useful to try and establish more of a social code of an appropriate giving level. The devil is in the details of course, and I'm not sure yet how this could be accomplished without being morally heavy-handed.
 
Stacy Palmer (Moderator):
    I'm afraid that is all we have time for today. Thank you all for posing so many terrific questions and thanks to Professor Brooks for offering us a new perspective on charitable-giving patterns. If you have any additional questions about the Chronicle or suggestions for how we can serve you better, you can always write to us at editor@philanthropy.com
23463  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor reads our forum on: September 14, 2011, 07:54:39 AM
and picks up on my point about the Egyptian military being pressured to change relations with Israel due to domestic considerations.
===================Turkey Seeks to Reassert Its Influence As Tensions Flare Between Egypt and Israel

Following a near crisis situation late Friday night when protesters laid siege to the Israeli embassy, the head of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Planning Unit, Amir Eshel, traveled to Cairo on Monday to discuss the recent security developments in Egypt. Although Eshel’s visit was reportedly focused primarily on the threats posed by lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula, he also likely discussed an issue of major concern for Israel at the moment — the rising tone of anti-Israel sentiment in public demonstrations that has become commonplace in post-Mubarak Egypt.

“The only thing holding back a growing tidal wave of anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt is the military.”
The Egyptian protests that began last January in an effort to force the removal of then-President Hosni Mubarak never really stopped, even after he was deposed in a military coup. There have been occasional lulls, but the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has been dealing with demonstrations on a consistent basis now for over seven months. It was only recently that one of the major themes has become opposition to the SCAF’s relationship with Israel. The change in tone was triggered by the deaths of six members of the Egyptian security forces following the Aug. 18 Eilat attacks – and the way the SCAF handled the aftermath, most notably in refusing to recall Egypt’s ambassador to Israel.

There is a disconnect between the way most Egyptian people feel regarding Israel and the strategic considerations that guide the military’s relations with its northeastern neighbor. To put it simply, most Egyptians dislike Israel and the peace treaty the two nations negotiated in 1978, while the military views their long-held alliance as a pillar of Cairo’s national security. Israel’s fear since last winter has been that new domestic considerations would leave the Egyptian military vulnerable to public pressure to amend this relationship.

The SCAF could have prevented the demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy from escalating to the point where protesters were able to physically enter the building. There was an order from the top to allow the situation to become a near crisis before intervening to stop it. The SCAF waited for what must have felt like to Israel (and the United States) an interminably long time to order its commandos to bring the crisis to an end, whisking the remaining staff away and out of harm’s way. Israel expressed appreciation for this rescue, but it also likely understood the message conveyed by this incident: The only thing holding back a growing tidal wave of anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt is the military.

It is unclear who organized the demonstrations that began as a standard protest in Tahrir Square before moving over to the embassy. The Israeli embassy had witnessed several such (largely peaceful) gatherings in the weeks following the Eilat attacks. Israel is not as concerned with who organized the demonstrations as much as how the SCAF may feel it has to appease the demonstrators to avoid being seen as being too quick to rush to Israel’s defense. Although the SCAF is still in firm control of the country and has no intention of breaking the peace treaty, in Israel’s mind, exploiting events such as last Friday’s for political gain is playing with fire. At some point, the military may not be able to save the day.

Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan — the leader of another country whose relationship with Israel has seen significant strains — was already scheduled to visit Cairo on Monday when the embassy crisis erupted. In the middle of what Ankara has dubbed the Turkish leader’s “Arab Spring tour,” Erdogan has planned visits to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. (An idea to also visit the Gaza Strip was abandoned last week, possibly at the behest of the SCAF.)

Turkey, like Egypt, has a long-running alliance with Israel. Unlike Egypt, Turkey had already begun to re-orient its foreign policy in recent years away from having such close ties with Israel. (The Mavi Marmara incident, which has recently come back into the headlines, was a by-product of this shift that began in 2008.) Reasserting its influence in the Arab world, especially in the countries that experienced political turmoil in the wake of the Arab Spring, is currently one of Ankara’s main foreign policy goals. The Turks are using their public spat with Israel to gain credibility in the region that shares anti-Israel sentiments. The sight of Erdogan speaking to a crowd of Egyptians in Arabic on Monday to chants of “Protector of Islam” points to the utility of such an approach.

In the end, however, Turkey is not yet ready to play the role of regional powerhouse, or to even effectively mediate the tensions between Egypt and Israel. Ankara is playing a perceptions game with Erdogan’s regional tour — a process that will take time to bear fruit. Israel, on the other hand, is facing reality. Given its strained relations with Turkey, doubt about its alliance with Egypt, a looming Palestinian U.N. vote, a weakened Syrian regime, a perpetually unpredictable Lebanon and an Iran that is about to gain from the looming vacuum in Iraq, Israel is reminded of the pitfalls of being located in the Middle East.

23464  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Tougher screening for antibiotics in food supply on: September 13, 2011, 05:49:44 PM


This seems to me a very good thing.
======================================

By BILL TOMSON
U.S. inspectors on Monday started using more sensitive tests to detect antibiotics in pork, part of a stepped-up effort to ensure meat safety after a government report last year suggested consumers might be at risk from harmful drug residues.

While a small, but growing amount of meat products are touted as being free of antibiotics, most meat isn't.

Livestock owners feed millions of pounds of antibiotics such as penicillin each year to cattle, hogs, chickens and turkeys to prevent disease and promote rapid growth. Conventional beef and pork are supposed to meet strict limits on levels of these drugs, and U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors test tens of thousands of animals a year for compliance.

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Ground beef often comes from older dairy cows that receive antibiotics.
.USDA officials say the new tests will expand the number of antibiotics they can detect in pork, and that the agency can withhold meat with too much antibiotic residue from the market. More contaminated meat "will consequently be removed from the food supply," said USDA spokesman Dirk Fillpot. The new measures come as the agency is broadening its scrutiny of disease-causing E. coli bacteria in beef to a total of seven strains, instead of just one.

The new tests follow a report in March of 2010 by the USDA's inspector general citing "serious shortcomings" in the agency's inspection program. The report said the USDA allowed meat from certain slaughterhouses into the market even when it consistently found samples with excessive drug levels.

Inspection results from 2009, the latest available, showed the vast majority of cattle and pigs fell within the accepted limit for antibiotic residues.

"Using a more sensitive test should not be interpreted as a sign of a growing problem," said Janet Riley, a spokeswoman for the American Meat Institute, an industry group. "It means that new technology is being put to use to garner more information."

The new tests of pork follow the agency's updating of its beef testing last year.

The USDA inspector general's report said, "the effects of these residues on human beings who consume such meat are a growing concern." It said residue of penicillin in meat could trigger reactions in people with an allergy to the drug, though it didn't cite any cases.

The effect on people of consuming over a lifetime tiny quantities of penicillin, neomycin and other drugs left over in meat is little studied. Scott Hurd, an associate professor at Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said there is no evidence of ill effects from such consumption.

The Food and Drug Administration also has been concerned about the rise of drug-resistant pathogens, and last year asked livestock producers to limit the amount of antibiotics they use.

Ingesting the drugs over an extended period could, in theory, promote the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the body, making medical treatments more difficult if they spread in the population, said Kim Lewis, a microbiology professor and director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Center at Northeastern University.

Concern about how the heavy use of antibiotics might spur the growth of drug-resistant bugs has grown following the discovery in ground turkey of salmonella Heidelberg bacteria, which is resistant to several common antibiotics.

Two weeks after recalling 36 million pounds of contaminated ground turkey that sickened more than 100 people, Cargill Inc. announced a second recall on Sunday.

Mr. Fillpot said the USDA hasn't decided yet whether to introduce new, more stringent antibiotic-residue testing of turkey or chicken.

To check for antibiotic residues, USDA inspectors swab the kidneys of animals. Each year, the USDA takes a random sampling and a more targeted one in which inspectors test carcasses deemed more likely to be a source of contamination, such as those with lesions or other signs of illness.

Results from a 2009 targeted inspection showed the highest levels of antibiotic residues in older dairy cows sent for slaughter—the main source of hamburger in the U.S.—and young calves known as bob veal born from those cows.

About 1% each of the 80,000 dairy cows and 37,000 bob veal calves tested carried residues above FDA tolerance levels. In a quarter of the cases, penicillin was the culprit. The updated tests are better at finding 14 kinds of antibiotics that prior tests screened for, and can detect three other antibiotics that the older ones couldn't, the agency said.

Earlier tests suggested that pork was nearly 100% free of problematic antibiotic levels. The USDA's food-inspection service expects to find more contaminated meat with the new tests, Mr. Fillpot said.

A poor showing on tests typically doesn't trigger a recall because the government can't show eating a single serving of meat with antibiotic residue causes immediate sickness or death, according to the inspector general's report.

The USDA publishes weekly online a "Residue Repeat Violator" report documenting persistent antibiotic-residue problems at meat-packing plants.

Write to Bill Tomson at bill.tomson@dowjones.com

23465  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: September 13, 2011, 05:12:21 PM
While I am quite sympathetic to the conclusion, I object to the methodology.

The Salvation Army is not a charity as likely to appeal to someone from SF as from South Falls.
23466  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Egypt on: September 13, 2011, 05:06:49 PM
That is a piece worthy of considerable reflection , , ,
23467  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US-Turkey-Russia-Iran on: September 13, 2011, 12:55:06 PM
Not really fitting in any other thread, I put it here:


Summary
Russia and Iran appear to be working together to counterbalance an apparently strengthening strategic relationship between the United States and Turkey — something neither Moscow nor Tehran wants. Though the relationship between Russia and Iran largely is one of convenience and not of mutual trust, the two powers appear to be boosting their nuclear cooperation and energy ties as leverage against a U.S.-Turkish alliance.

Analysis
After numerous delays, the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant was officially launched in Iran on Sept. 12 at an inauguration ceremony attended by Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy firm. On the same day, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereidoun Abbasi, told Press TV that Iran and Russia will cooperate on future nuclear projects beyond Bushehr – a claim that was later confirmed by Russia. Also on Sept. 12, Russia announced that its natural gas firm Gazprom, despite having previously withdrawn from a project, ostensibly out of respect for international sanctions on Iran, might take part in developing Iran’s Azar oil field and would let Iran know its decision within the month.

Russia and Iran intend with this set of developments to signal to the United States that, despite some recent rough patches, ties between the two are stronger than ever. The events of Sept. 12 stand in stark contrast to what took place less than two weeks ago, when Iran threatened to sue Russia over Moscow’s failure to deliver the S-300 strategic air defense system, complained about  delays in the Bushehr project and banned Gazprom from participating in the Azar project.

Of course, much of the cooperation displayed on Sept. 12 is still limited to political atmospherics: Iran remains wholly dependent on Russian staff and expertise to actually run Bushehr (not to mention any other projects that are proposed down the line), while Gazprom is unlikely to have the technical expertise to develop the Azar field on its own. Moreover, Russia is still holding back from more controversial maneuvers involving Iran, such as the potential sale of the S-300 air defense system.


A Convenient Relationship

The relationship between Russia and Iran is primarily one of convenience. Though Russia is not particularly interested in seeing a robust Iran that could end up posing a threat to Moscow, it regularly uses its relations with Iran as leverage against the West. Iran, meanwhile, sees Russia as its only major external patron, albeit one that it can never entirely trust to provide substantive support against outside threats.

Russia, during preparations for negotiations with the United States on the boundaries of a U.S.-led security framework in Europe, has looked to use Iran as leverage. The major concern during the U.S.-Russian dialogue is ballistic missile defense (BMD), which the United States declares is intended to defend against threats like Iran but is using to extend security commitments in Central Europe, with the strategic aim of containing Russia. Selectively amplifying the Iran threat is one of several ways Moscow intends to enhance its clout when it comes to the negotiating table with Washington and its allies in Central Europe.

But Iran was not necessarily ready to play along right away. Though Iran typically avoids actions that give the impression its external support is waning, Tehran made an exception when airing its grievances against Moscow in recent weeks. This is likely a reflection of Iran’s more confident position in the region, owed in large part to its strong status in Iraq and the low current potential for American or Israeli strikes against it. The less Iran feels vulnerable to external threats, the more open it can be about its distrust toward Russia.


The U.S.-Turkish Alignment

However, Iran is by no means free of worries, especially when it comes to its increasingly competitive relationship with Turkey. Iran is trying to counter a growing U.S.-Turkish alignment, which in turn is aimed against a perceived increase in the threat posed by Iran. Events in Syria and Iraq are already pushing Turkey (albeit subtly) into a more confrontational stance against Iran. Tehran appears to be using the common threat of Kurdish militancy as a foundation to maintain some level of cooperation with Ankara, but the strain in Turkish-Iranian ties will become increasingly difficult to conceal with time.

Turkey may also be a growing concern for Russia because of its potential role in the United States’ BMD strategy. Of great concern to both Iran and Russia is the potential for a stronger alignment of interests, between the United States and Turkey, and against Iran and Russia. BMD encapsulates this dynamic, which was on view when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Sept. 4 that Turkey was officially committed to hosting the X-band radar portion of the United States’ planned BMD system. Though Turkey tried to downplay the decision by claiming BMD was not directed at any of its neighbors in particular, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Turkey on Sept. 9 against allowing “enemies” to set up missile shields against Iran.

Russia also likely took note of this announcement as it seeks to keep its relations with Turkey on an even keel and prevent the further expansion of Washington’s BMD plans. In the current negotiations with Washington over BMD, Russia even explicitly said that if talks do not go well, Russian envoy to NATO Dmitri Rogozin would go to Iran to discuss the security situation regarding the United States’ BMD plans. This warning could allude to Russia’s threat to deliver S-300 strategic defense systems to Iran. Russia, though, will likely show a great deal of restraint when it comes to the actual delivery of those systems. Right now, Moscow is more focused on simply airing the Iranian threat.

Russia and Iran therefore both have incentive to put their cooperation on display. Iran, as it asserts itself in the region and deals with strains in its relationship with Turkey, wants to show it retains strong international backers. Moscow knows that Iran is the lever it can pull if BMD negotiations with the United States go awry. Meanwhile, Tehran shares with Moscow a concern about the strengthening relationship between the United States and Turkey. While Iran and Russia may typically share a simple relationship of convenience, they appear to be warming up to each other now.



Read more: Russia and Iran Improve Relations as U.S.-Turkish Alignment Grows | STRATFOR
23468  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 13, 2011, 12:30:29 PM
Thread Nazi here.  This thread is not for any and all nonsense pertaining to Baraq.  This would have been better in Cognitive Dissonance.
23469  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Stratfor: Zeta comms disrupted, more on: September 13, 2011, 12:28:27 PM

Zetas Communications Network Disrupted in Veracruz

The Mexican navy on Sept. 8 dismantled a communications network used by Los Zetas throughout Veracruz state. Among the equipment seized were mobile radio transmitters, computers, radio scanners, encryption devices, solar power cells and as many as seven trailers that served as base stations, according to media reports. A spokesman for the Mexican navy said some 80 individuals have been arrested over the past month in connection with the operation, itself the result of months of work by naval intelligence officers.

Los Zetas have been known to utilize more sophisticated communications networks than other cartels, due in large part to the organization’s origins in military special operations. The Zetas needed to augment sparse communications in some areas they control, and the Veracruz network likely was for the purpose of “off the grid” communications. Since cellphones are relatively easy for authorities to monitor, Los Zetas have sought to diversify their telecommunications capabilities, a fact of which Mexican authorities are aware.

It is possible that the seizure of this communications equipment means the navy is preparing to launch operations to push the Zetas out of the Veracruz port region. Indeed, a navy spokesman said the immediate result of the operation was the disruption of the Zetas’ “chain of command and tactical coordination.” If the navy is about to engage the Zetas in Veracruz, dismantling the Zetas’ communications network would be one of the first moves it would make.

There is not yet enough evidence to conclude with certainty that an operation is in the works, but STRATFOR will continue to watch for signs of increased military operations against the Zetas in Veracruz.


Hand Grenade Attacks in Rio Bravo

On Sept. 10, armed men in an SUV and an accompanying car reportedly threw five hand grenades at two businesses in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas state, killing two people. Beginning at 2:30 p.m., the assailants lobbed three grenades at a bar on the city’s east side, an unnamed police official said; one of the grenades failed to detonate. A few minutes later, unidentified men threw two grenades at a strip club in downtown Rio Bravo, causing the building to catch fire and injuring three people.

It is unclear who conducted the attacks, but they are believed to be the work of Los Zetas, who are engaged in a turf war with the Gulf cartel in the wider region. At present the Gulf cartel controls the Rio Bravo plaza, but Los Zetas have been known to “heat up” a plaza — increase attacks to soften their target — prior to an offensive, as was the case in Matamoros in mid-June.

The targets are significant in that they are “legitimate” businesses. Businesses can serve as money-laundering hubs for cartels and thus are not immune to attack. Also significant is that the attacks occurred during daylight hours. While violence in Mexico is unpredictable and by no means limited to nighttime hours, there is a general sense that the goings-on of a normal day are spared from targeted violence. Incidents such as the Sept. 10 grenade attacks show that this is not always the case.

If the Zetas did not conduct the attacks, they could be a symptom of infighting within the Gulf cartel. The recent death of Samuel “El Metro 3” Flores Borrego, the Gulf cartel’s Reynosa plaza boss and overall No. 2, suggests rifts are forming within the cartel. Rio Bravo can expect to see reprisal attacks regardless of who is responsible.


U.S. Citizens as Couriers for Money, Guns

Mexican authorities arrested seven individuals Sept. 7 in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, and confiscated firearms, ammunition, radio communication equipment, two vehicles and the equivalent of $600,000. The Ministry of National Defense has not disclosed the identities or nationalities of those arrested, but local and state media have reported that they are all U.S. citizens.

It is not uncommon for a cartel to use individuals with U.S. citizenship as couriers. These individuals have unfettered access to the United States and, while highly visible due to their frequent border crossings, they may receive less scrutiny from border security. Therefore, U.S. citizens are useful in moving guns and money south into Mexico (but they are less useful coming north, as security checks are more robust when coming from Mexico to the United States). This is particularly true in an area such as Coahuila state, where authorities have recently uncovered several large weapons caches.

The corridor of Piedras Negras and its sister city in the United States, Eagle Pass, thus is valuable not as a route to smuggle drugs north but as a route to move guns and money south. (A lack of drug-smuggling routes makes the area desirable territory, so the Zetas are the only ones operating there.) As recently as Sept. 7, in a separate incident from the seven arrests, Texas law enforcement stopped a van with Texas license plates that was carrying 14 assault rifles, a sniper rifle and more than 500 assault rifle magazines.

But the incident in which seven U.S. citizens were arrested, if true, is interesting because those arrested reportedly only had enough weaponry to protect the money they were transporting. This means they were not moving guns but cash, most likely proceeds from drug sales in the United States, the beneficiaries of which are Los Zetas.



(click here to view interactive graphic)

Sept. 5

The Mexican military dismantled a drug lab in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, containing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of methamphetamines and chemical precursors.
Mexican authorities attempted to stop a stolen vehicle traveling on a road in Cadereyta municipality, Nuevo Leon state. The vehicle, along with two accompanying vehicles, refused to stop, leading authorities on a chase that turned into a gunfight in which four gunmen were killed.

Sept. 6

Gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, shot and killed two women traveling in a vehicle with Texas license plates. The four-year-old daughter of one of the women survived the attack.
Federal police arrested four members of Los Aztecas in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, including a leader of the group.
A criminal group sent a message to the Department of Education in Acapulco, Guerrero state, demanding a percentage of the salaries of teachers who matched certain criteria. The message also demanded identification information on teachers in the city.
Gunmen attacked a deputy traveling in his vehicle in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco state. During the attack, the deputy left his vehicle and was subsequently hit by a semitrailer.
Mexican authorities arrested a U.S. citizen in Mazatlan, Sinaloa state. The individual was charged with trafficking weapons from the United States for the Sinaloa cartel.

Sept. 7

Three members of Los Zetas were arrested in a neighborhood of Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state, while attempting to kidnap an individual. One of the members arrested was in charge of the “halcones” (Zetas lookouts) in Nuevo Leon.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office identified 18 Los Zetas operators who were involved in the attack on the Casino Royale in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, that killed 52 people. The Mexican government is offering a reward of 15 million pesos ($1.2 million) for information leading to the arrest of each individual.
Mexican soldiers seized approximately 2.5 tons of marijuana after receiving a tip on the existence of a drug camp in Cerro del Borbollon, Durango state. Soldiers also found a vehicle with Baja California license plates.

Sept. 8

Federal police killed seven gunmen during a firefight in Villanueva, Zacatecas state. A conflict with the gunmen had erupted earlier when two federal police officers were kidnapped in the area.
Authorities announced that an operation conducted throughout Veracruz state resulted in the dismantling of a Los Zetas telecommunications network. More than 80 members of the cartel were arrested, and a variety of communications equipment was seized, including solar power cells, high-powered transmitters, encryption devices and secure radio communication systems.

Sept. 9

A drug courier transporting 1 kilogram of cocaine was arrested at Mexico City International Airport after authorities discovered the drugs. The individual’s itinerary indicated he was flying to Rome via Madrid.
The Knights Templar posted a narcomanta over a bridge in Zamora, Michoacan state, offering a 500,000-peso reward for information leading to the location of the Los Zetas members listed on the banner.
The Mexican military seized approximately 9 tons of marijuana, 51 firearms and 8,000 rounds of ammunition hidden in a cave near Reynosa, Tamaulipas state.

Sept. 10

Unidentified men threw five hand grenades in two separate locations in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas state. The first incident involved gunmen traveling in a vehicle who threw three grenades at bar, and the second attack involved an individual who tossed two grenades at a strip club. The attacks killed two people.

Sept. 11

The Mexican military captured Veronica Mireya “La Vero” Moreno Carreon, Los Zetas’ plaza boss for San Nicolas de los Garza, Nuevo Leon state. Also know as “La Flaca,” she was discovered to be the plaza boss after she was arrested while traveling in a stolen vehicle.


89806
23470  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 13, 2011, 12:27:17 PM

Zetas Communications Network Disrupted in Veracruz

The Mexican navy on Sept. 8 dismantled a communications network used by Los Zetas throughout Veracruz state. Among the equipment seized were mobile radio transmitters, computers, radio scanners, encryption devices, solar power cells and as many as seven trailers that served as base stations, according to media reports. A spokesman for the Mexican navy said some 80 individuals have been arrested over the past month in connection with the operation, itself the result of months of work by naval intelligence officers.

Los Zetas have been known to utilize more sophisticated communications networks than other cartels, due in large part to the organization’s origins in military special operations. The Zetas needed to augment sparse communications in some areas they control, and the Veracruz network likely was for the purpose of “off the grid” communications. Since cellphones are relatively easy for authorities to monitor, Los Zetas have sought to diversify their telecommunications capabilities, a fact of which Mexican authorities are aware.

It is possible that the seizure of this communications equipment means the navy is preparing to launch operations to push the Zetas out of the Veracruz port region. Indeed, a navy spokesman said the immediate result of the operation was the disruption of the Zetas’ “chain of command and tactical coordination.” If the navy is about to engage the Zetas in Veracruz, dismantling the Zetas’ communications network would be one of the first moves it would make.

There is not yet enough evidence to conclude with certainty that an operation is in the works, but STRATFOR will continue to watch for signs of increased military operations against the Zetas in Veracruz.


Hand Grenade Attacks in Rio Bravo

On Sept. 10, armed men in an SUV and an accompanying car reportedly threw five hand grenades at two businesses in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas state, killing two people. Beginning at 2:30 p.m., the assailants lobbed three grenades at a bar on the city’s east side, an unnamed police official said; one of the grenades failed to detonate. A few minutes later, unidentified men threw two grenades at a strip club in downtown Rio Bravo, causing the building to catch fire and injuring three people.

It is unclear who conducted the attacks, but they are believed to be the work of Los Zetas, who are engaged in a turf war with the Gulf cartel in the wider region. At present the Gulf cartel controls the Rio Bravo plaza, but Los Zetas have been known to “heat up” a plaza — increase attacks to soften their target — prior to an offensive, as was the case in Matamoros in mid-June.

The targets are significant in that they are “legitimate” businesses. Businesses can serve as money-laundering hubs for cartels and thus are not immune to attack. Also significant is that the attacks occurred during daylight hours. While violence in Mexico is unpredictable and by no means limited to nighttime hours, there is a general sense that the goings-on of a normal day are spared from targeted violence. Incidents such as the Sept. 10 grenade attacks show that this is not always the case.

If the Zetas did not conduct the attacks, they could be a symptom of infighting within the Gulf cartel. The recent death of Samuel “El Metro 3” Flores Borrego, the Gulf cartel’s Reynosa plaza boss and overall No. 2, suggests rifts are forming within the cartel. Rio Bravo can expect to see reprisal attacks regardless of who is responsible.


U.S. Citizens as Couriers for Money, Guns

Mexican authorities arrested seven individuals Sept. 7 in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, and confiscated firearms, ammunition, radio communication equipment, two vehicles and the equivalent of $600,000. The Ministry of National Defense has not disclosed the identities or nationalities of those arrested, but local and state media have reported that they are all U.S. citizens.

It is not uncommon for a cartel to use individuals with U.S. citizenship as couriers. These individuals have unfettered access to the United States and, while highly visible due to their frequent border crossings, they may receive less scrutiny from border security. Therefore, U.S. citizens are useful in moving guns and money south into Mexico (but they are less useful coming north, as security checks are more robust when coming from Mexico to the United States). This is particularly true in an area such as Coahuila state, where authorities have recently uncovered several large weapons caches.

The corridor of Piedras Negras and its sister city in the United States, Eagle Pass, thus is valuable not as a route to smuggle drugs north but as a route to move guns and money south. (A lack of drug-smuggling routes makes the area desirable territory, so the Zetas are the only ones operating there.) As recently as Sept. 7, in a separate incident from the seven arrests, Texas law enforcement stopped a van with Texas license plates that was carrying 14 assault rifles, a sniper rifle and more than 500 assault rifle magazines.

But the incident in which seven U.S. citizens were arrested, if true, is interesting because those arrested reportedly only had enough weaponry to protect the money they were transporting. This means they were not moving guns but cash, most likely proceeds from drug sales in the United States, the beneficiaries of which are Los Zetas.



(click here to view interactive graphic)

Sept. 5

The Mexican military dismantled a drug lab in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, containing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of methamphetamines and chemical precursors.
Mexican authorities attempted to stop a stolen vehicle traveling on a road in Cadereyta municipality, Nuevo Leon state. The vehicle, along with two accompanying vehicles, refused to stop, leading authorities on a chase that turned into a gunfight in which four gunmen were killed.

Sept. 6

Gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, shot and killed two women traveling in a vehicle with Texas license plates. The four-year-old daughter of one of the women survived the attack.
Federal police arrested four members of Los Aztecas in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, including a leader of the group.
A criminal group sent a message to the Department of Education in Acapulco, Guerrero state, demanding a percentage of the salaries of teachers who matched certain criteria. The message also demanded identification information on teachers in the city.
Gunmen attacked a deputy traveling in his vehicle in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco state. During the attack, the deputy left his vehicle and was subsequently hit by a semitrailer.
Mexican authorities arrested a U.S. citizen in Mazatlan, Sinaloa state. The individual was charged with trafficking weapons from the United States for the Sinaloa cartel.

Sept. 7

Three members of Los Zetas were arrested in a neighborhood of Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state, while attempting to kidnap an individual. One of the members arrested was in charge of the “halcones” (Zetas lookouts) in Nuevo Leon.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office identified 18 Los Zetas operators who were involved in the attack on the Casino Royale in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, that killed 52 people. The Mexican government is offering a reward of 15 million pesos ($1.2 million) for information leading to the arrest of each individual.
Mexican soldiers seized approximately 2.5 tons of marijuana after receiving a tip on the existence of a drug camp in Cerro del Borbollon, Durango state. Soldiers also found a vehicle with Baja California license plates.

Sept. 8

Federal police killed seven gunmen during a firefight in Villanueva, Zacatecas state. A conflict with the gunmen had erupted earlier when two federal police officers were kidnapped in the area.
Authorities announced that an operation conducted throughout Veracruz state resulted in the dismantling of a Los Zetas telecommunications network. More than 80 members of the cartel were arrested, and a variety of communications equipment was seized, including solar power cells, high-powered transmitters, encryption devices and secure radio communication systems.

Sept. 9

A drug courier transporting 1 kilogram of cocaine was arrested at Mexico City International Airport after authorities discovered the drugs. The individual’s itinerary indicated he was flying to Rome via Madrid.
The Knights Templar posted a narcomanta over a bridge in Zamora, Michoacan state, offering a 500,000-peso reward for information leading to the location of the Los Zetas members listed on the banner.
The Mexican military seized approximately 9 tons of marijuana, 51 firearms and 8,000 rounds of ammunition hidden in a cave near Reynosa, Tamaulipas state.

Sept. 10

Unidentified men threw five hand grenades in two separate locations in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas state. The first incident involved gunmen traveling in a vehicle who threw three grenades at bar, and the second attack involved an individual who tossed two grenades at a strip club. The attacks killed two people.

Sept. 11

The Mexican military captured Veronica Mireya “La Vero” Moreno Carreon, Los Zetas’ plaza boss for San Nicolas de los Garza, Nuevo Leon state. Also know as “La Flaca,” she was discovered to be the plaza boss after she was arrested while traveling in a stolen vehicle.
23471  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 911 Freedom Rally on: September 13, 2011, 12:02:49 PM


http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2011/09/freedom-rally-of-remembrance-on-911.html
23472  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dershowitz brings some legal clarity on: September 13, 2011, 11:55:53 AM
By ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ
As Egypt and Turkey increase tensions with Israel, the Palestinian Authority seeks to isolate the Jewish state even further by demanding that the United Nations accord Palestine recognition as a "state" without a negotiated peace with Israel. President Mahmoud Abbas described his playbook for seeking U.N. recognition while bypassing the step of negotiating a two-state solution: "We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years."

What exactly happened 63 years ago? The U.N. recommended partitioning the former British mandate into two states: one Jewish, the other Arab. Israel and most of the rest of the world accepted that partition plan, and Israel declared itself the nation-state of the Jewish people. The United States, the Soviet Union and all the great powers recognized this declaration and the two-state solution that it represented.

The Arab world unanimously rejected the U.N. partition plan and the declaration of statehood by Israel. The Arab population within Israel and in the area set aside for an Arab state joined the surrounding Arab nations in taking up arms.

In defending its right to exist, Israel lost 1% of its population, many of whom were civilians and survivors of the recent Holocaust. Yet the current Palestinian leadership still insists on calling the self-inflicted wounds caused by its rejection of a two-state solution the "nakba," meaning the catastrophe.

By claiming that the Palestinians "have been under occupation for 63 years" (as distinguished from the 44 years since the Arab states attacked Israel in 1967 and Israel occupied some lands of the invading nations), the Palestinian president is trying to turn the clock back to a time prior to Israel's establishment as a state based on the U.N.'s two-state proposal. In other words, the push for recognition by the U.N. of Palestine as a state, based on Mr. Abbas's complaint that the Palestinians have been under occupation for 63 years, is an attempt to undo the old work of the U.N. that resulted in Israel's statehood 63 years ago.

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CloseAssociated Press
 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
.Mr. Abbas's occupation complaint also explains why he is so adamant in refusing to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Every Arab state is officially a Muslim state and yet, as in 1948, none of them is prepared to accept the permanent existence of a state for the Jewish people in the Middle East. Certainly some, including the Palestinian Authority, are prepared to mouth recognition of Israel as a state, so long as the so-called right of return remains for four million so-called refugees who, if they were to return in mass, would soon turn Israel into yet another Arab state.

Mahmoud Abbas is generally a reasonable man, and many of the things he has recently said about the need for the two-state solution are also reasonable. But he talks out of two sides of his mouth: one for consumption by the international community and the other for consumption by the Palestinian street. His complaint about a 63-year occupation is clearly designed to signal to his constituents that he won't give up on the ultimate goal of turning Israel into a Palestinian state.

If the General Assembly recognizes Palestine as a state without the need to negotiate with Israel, it will, in effect, be undercutting many of its own past resolutions, as well as many bilateral agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Such recognition would set back the prospects for a negotiated peaceful resolution and would encourage the use of violence by frustrated Palestinians who will gain nothing concrete from the U.N.'s hollow action but will expect much from it.

We saw what happened when the Palestinian people came close to achieving statehood in 2000-'01—a prospect that was shattered by Yasser Arafat's rejection of the Clinton-Barak peace plan. Arafat's rejection, which even the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. at the time, Bandar bin Sultan, later called a "crime" against the Palestinian people, resulted in a bloody intifada uprising among Palestinians in which thousands of Palestinians and Israelis were killed. The U.N. will be responsible for any ensuing bloodshed if it stokes the flames of violence by raising Palestinian expectations while lowering the prospects for a negotiated peace.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the Palestinians to return immediately to the negotiating table without any preconditions. There is no downside in doing so, since everything would then be on the table for negotiation, including the borders, the right of return, recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, the settlements and anything else the Palestinians would seek as part of a negotiated two-state peace.

The job of the U.N. is to promote peace, not to retard it. So instead of discouraging negotiations by promising recognition, the U.N. should be demanding that the Palestinian leadership and the Israeli government begin negotiations immediately without any preconditions. That would be a positive step.

Mr. Dershowitz is a law professor at Harvard. His latest book is "Trials of Zion" (Grand Central Publishing, 2010).

23473  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Dodd-Frank on: September 13, 2011, 11:17:47 AM
What is the cost of overregulation? Bank of America appears to have provided part of the answer by announcing yesterday that the nation's largest bank will cut 30,000 jobs between now and 2014. CEO Brian Moynihan said the bank's plan is to slash $5 billion in annual expenses from its consumer businesses.

Mr. Moynihan didn't say this, but we will: These layoffs are part of the bill for the last two years of Washington's financial rule-writing. After loose monetary policy had combined with insane housing policy to create a financial crisis, the Democrats who ran Washington in 2009 and 2010 enacted myriad new rules that had nothing to do with easy money or housing.

Take the amendment that Illinois Democrat and Senator Dick Durbin (with the help of 17 Senate Republicans) attached to last year's Dodd-Frank financial law. Mr. Durbin's amendment instructed the Federal Reserve to limit the amount of "swipe fees" that banks can charge merchants when customers use debit cards.

How exactly does forcing banks to charge Wal-Mart less money for operating an electronic payment system prevent the next financial crisis? Readers may wait a long time for a satisfactory answer, but the cost of this Dodd-Frank directive is straightforward.

The Fed dutifully ordered banks to cut their fees almost in half. Bank of America disclosed in its most recent quarterly report that this change will reduce the bank's debit-card revenues by $475 million in just the fourth quarter of this year. The new rules take effect on October 1, so BofA seems to have sensible timing as it begins to shed workers from a consumer business that has become suddenly less profitable by federal edict.

Make that the latest federal edict. In 2009, when a comprehensive overhaul of financial regulation was still a gleam in Barney Frank's eye, President Obama signed the CARD Act into law. It limited the ability of banks to increase rates on delinquent borrowers and to charge fees on unprofitable customers. As Washington encouraged card issuers to be more selective in advancing credit and to demand higher rates when they do, interest rates on card customers predictably increased relative to other types of lending in the months after the law took effect.

Restricting bank profits on a particular product may have obvious populist appeal, but politicians shouldn't be surprised if banks decide that such consumer credit operations aren't good businesses and can function with fewer employees. Add in the various federal programs aimed at extracting penalties for this or that mortgage-foreclosure error and it's understandable that a bank would have trouble forecasting growth to justify its current work force.

To be sure, Bank of America is also suffering from its own mistake in deciding to buy Countrywide Financial in 2008. As for the financial industry generally, it had become distended and needed to shrink after the bubble years of easy money.

But given the real-world results for bank employees, politicians should not be allowed to pretend that there are no consequences when they deliberately reduce the profitability of employers. Mr. Obama proposed last week to spend some $450 billion more in outlays or tax credits to create more jobs, but it would have cost a lot less to save these 30,000.

23474  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: September 13, 2011, 10:55:49 AM
For our non-native English speakers, the reference is to a story that Ronald Reagan used to tell about his positive outlook.

Something to the effect of a boy who when he saw a pile of horse excrement was happy because it meant there was a pony somewhere nearby.
23475  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: September 13, 2011, 10:51:53 AM
Indeed!  Look at the volatility of the oil futures market!

Though in fairness it should be noted that the low margin requirements may well magnify the volatiility.
23476  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: The long run is now on: September 13, 2011, 10:49:26 AM
An uncommon event, we agree grin

The Long Run is Now To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 9/12/2011


President Obama delivered his long-awaited economic address Thursday night and Friday’s reaction in equities was a major Bronx cheer. Obviously the news from Greece, with that country teetering on the edge of a default, was also a big negative.

But we believe the lion’s share of the problem is that, once again, a president is proposing policies that are both primarily oriented toward the short-run and unlikely to succeed at lifting the pace of economic growth.
 
Back in 2008, under President Bush, we got a relatively small short-term “stimulus” bill. Then, in early 2009, President Obama got exactly the “stimulus” bill he wanted, in both grand size and scope. He had the votes and no compromise was necessary. Then, late last year, the president and the outgoing Congress agreed to yet another stimulus bill.
 
Each of these policies has mostly failed, yet the president is pushing for another set of proposals cut from the same cloth, with temporary payroll tax breaks, a temporary extension of full tax-expensing for plant and equipment, and more (politically-driven) infrastructure spending.
 
The Administration is also asking for an extension of the 99-week program of unemployment benefits, so it can cover workers who lost their jobs back in late 2009 thru 2010. Without any sense of irony, he wants the program to cover workers who lost their jobs during periods that his past stimulus efforts failed to stimulate.
 
Lord Keynes famously said that “in the long run we are all dead.” But with year after year of round after round of policies focused on the short-term, it’s about time to realize we are all living in the long-term now. What we need is for our lawmakers to get off the treadmill of short-termism and start focusing on where we want our country’s policies to be for the next generation.
 
The biggest opportunity is on the tax treatment of business purchases of plant and equipment, where the president is asking for just one more year of 100% full expensing. We think, given the priority he’s putting on this bill, that lawmakers who know better should demand to make this policy permanent.
 
We do not believe the US is doomed to become another (larger) version of Greece. But with each proposal that has put a priority on the short run, we have taken a step in that direction. Now it’s time for policymakers to show they have learned something over the past few years. A thorough rejection of the president’s recent proposals would be a great start.
23477  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bovard: Fed job training worse than useless on: September 13, 2011, 10:17:20 AM


By JAMES BOVARD
Last Thursday, President Obama proposed new federal jobs and job-training programs for youth and the long-term unemployed. The federal government has experimented with these programs for almost a half century. The record is one of failure and scandal.

In 1962, Congress passed the Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) to provide training for workers who lost their jobs due to automation or other technological developments. Two years later, the General Accounting Office (GAO) discovered that any trainee in this program who held a job for a single day was counted as "permanently employed"—a statistical charade by the Department of Labor to camouflage its lack of results. A decade after MDTA's inception, GAO reported that it was failing to teach valuable job skills or place trainees in private jobs and was marred by an "overriding concern with filling available slots for a particular program," regardless of what trainees actually needed.

Congress responded in 1973 by enacting the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). The preface to the new law noted that "it has been impossible to develop rational priorities" in job training. So instead of setting priorities, CETA spent vastly more money, especially on job creation. Notorious examples reported in the press in those years included paying to build an artificial rock for rock climbers, providing nude sculpture classes (where, as the Pharos-Tribune of Logansport, Ind., explained, "aspiring artists pawed each others bodies to recognize that they had 'both male and female characteristics'"), and conducting door-to-door food-stamp recruiting campaigns.

Between 1961 and 1980, the feds spent tens of billions on federal job-training and employment programs. To what effect? A 1979 Washington Post investigation concluded, "Incredibly, the government has kept no meaningful statistics on the effectiveness of these programs—making the past 15 years' effort almost worthless in terms of learning what works." CETA hirees were often assigned to do whatever benefited the government agency or nonprofit that put them on the payroll, with no concern for the trainees' development. An Urban Institute study of the mid-1980s concluded that participation in CETA programs resulted in "significant earnings losses for young men of all races and no significant effects for young women."

After CETA became a laughingstock, Congress replaced it in 1982 with the Job Training Partnership Act. JTPA spent lavishly—to expand an Indiana circus museum, teach Washington taxi drivers to smile, provide foreign junkets for state and local politicians, and bankroll business relocations. According to the Labor Department's inspector general, young trainees were twice as likely to rely on food stamps after JTPA involvement than before since the "training" often included instructions on applying for an array of government benefits.

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CloseAssociated Press
 
President Obama touts his jobs training proposals in Virginia, June 8.
.For years the Labor Department scorned the mandate in the 1982 legislation to speedily and thoroughly evaluate whether the programs actually benefitted trainees. Finally, in 1993, it released a study that showed participation in JTPA "actually reduced the earnings of male out-of-school youths." Young males enrolled in JTPA programs had 10% lower earnings than a control group that never participated.

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) replaced JTPA in 1998. Congress required a thorough evaluation of the law's impact on trainees by 2005. At last report, the Labor Department is promising it will be completed by 2015.

In his speech to Congress, Mr. Obama called for funding hundreds of thousands of summer jobs for teens, which he labeled "investing in low-income youth and adults." Yet such programs have been blighting work ethics for decades.

The GAO warned in 1969 that many teens in federal summer jobs programs "regressed in their conception of what should reasonably be required in return for wages paid." A decade later, it reported that most urban teens "were exposed to a worksite where good work habits were not learned or reinforced." And in 1985, a National Academy of Science study found that government jobs and training programs isolated disadvantaged youth, thus making it harder for them to fit into the real job market.

More recently, Mr. Obama's 2009 stimulus package expanded federally funded summer jobs. And so young men and women used puppets to greet aquarium visitors in Boston. Teens in Washington, D.C.'s Green Summer Jobs Corps maintained "school-yard butterfly habitats." And summer workers in Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reported, "practiced firm handshakes to ensure that employers quickly understand their serious intent to work."

Did any of this "investing" work? There's no evidence it did.

Mr. Obama also wants a new federal initiative to be based on Georgia Work$, which the president describes as a program in which "people who collect unemployment insurance participate in temporary work as a way to build their skills while they look for a permanent job." But Georgia Work$ has produced far more headlines than jobs—fewer than 200 this year, according to a recent article in Politico.

Begun in 2003, Georgia Work$ gives people a chance to "train" at an employer for eight weeks. They receive no salary but continue collecting unemployment compensation and as well as a $240 weekly stipend from the state of Georgia. Last year, the stipend was increased to $600 a week and anyone who said they needed a job was allowed to participate. After costs exploded, Georgia Work$ was scaled back early this year.

Mark Butler, Georgia's current labor commissioner, stated that the program suffered from a "lack of oversight" before he took over in January. At last report, only 14% of trainees were hired by employers—a success rate akin to other unemployed Georgians who do not participate in the program.


Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office reported that there were 47 different federal employment and training programs, costing taxpayers $18 billion a year. There is massive overlap and duplication, and few programs seriously evaluate their impact on trainees.

If federal job training efforts worked, Congress would not have thrown out the programs it has created every decade or so and enacted new ones. In reality, government training has always been driven by bureaucratic convenience, or politicians' re-election considerations. There is no reason to believe the latest round of proposals will be any different.

Mr. Bovard, the author of "Attention Deficit Democracy" (Palgrave, 2006), is working on a memoir.

23478  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: September 13, 2011, 09:56:01 AM
You guys crack me up cheesy
23479  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: September 13, 2011, 09:55:06 AM
I've read that Al Gore is now worth $100,000,000.  Just how does a former Veep accumulate that kind of money?
23480  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: September 13, 2011, 09:53:39 AM
Just as oil is fungible, to a certain partial extent, various forms of energy are fungible.  I may be misusing some of the terms, but Baraq has waged war on oil (offshore and otherwise) coal, tar sands, shale oil, natural gas (the fracking issue, which is one I for one do not shrug off) and so forth.  I think if we were to pursue growth oriented polices with all of these, US energy prices would be lower than would otherwise be the case.
23481  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 13, 2011, 09:47:59 AM
 grin

I read that Perry defended subsidizing college tuition for illegals. angry

Several people have really ticked me off on Perry's SS comments.  Despite similar words to similar effect of his own, Romney (aided and abetted by supporter Tim Pawlenty) is now doing his best to establish a scurrilous meme to the effect that Perry's words means he wants to welch on SS.  I understand politics is hardball, but not only is this a lie, but it also serves the Dems.  Not that I liked Romney before, but this lowers my opinion of him as a man.  I heard, but have not seen for myself, that Bachman has played this game a bit too.
23482  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 13, 2011, 08:47:18 AM
"Question to whoever:"

If I am not mistaken, that should be "whomever"  evil cheesy

"Do you feel like the Republican party is too divided to beat Obama?"

I see the risk as a matter of incompetence more than division.

"According to Brian Williams the other night, Obama would lose to a generic Republican candidate, but is still leading either Romney or Perry."

The polls I am seeing showing R or P winning by a point or two, but the larger point is valid: Baraq is shockingly strong when he goes head to head with a Rep candidate.

"Is the idea of a generic Republican dead right now? I feel like the Tea Party has divided the GOP enough that "generic Republican" means very different things to the different people."

IMHO the Tea Party is has energized the Rep Party.  You think a party of Poener and wuzzhisface in the Senate, Mitch O'Connel inspires anyone?

"Is there any hope of a new candidate that will appeal to moderate Republicans and the Tea Party?"

 A good question.. Perry;s "Fred Flintstone theory of evolution is going to cost him plenty of votes.

"I still think the GOP plans on losing this election and are just sacrificing all their crappy people to Obama."

Well, the Reps certainly have an amazing cpacity for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory , , ,
23483  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Laffer: Enterprise Zones on: September 13, 2011, 08:39:52 AM


By ARTHUR LAFFER
Some people actually believe government can create jobs by taxing and borrowing from people with jobs and then giving that money to people without jobs. They call this demand stimulus. To make matters worse, other people think these demand-stimulus ideas warrant a serious response.

Government taxes cigarettes to stop people from smoking, not to get them to smoke. Government fines speeders so they won't speed, not to encourage them to drive faster. And yet contrary to common sense, it seems perfectly natural to some people that government would tax people who work or companies that are successful only to give that money to people who don't work and to bail out losing companies. The thought never crosses their minds that these policies are the very reason why our economy is in such bad shape.

I'm beginning to think that Irving Kristol was correct when he wrote, "It takes a Ph.D. in economics not to be able to understand the obvious." It shouldn't surprise anyone why the economy isn't getting better.

If the U.S. wants prosperity, government doesn't need to do something, it needs to undo much of what it already has done. Here is one area where, in the spirit of the late Congressman Jack Kemp, President Obama and I could agree.

African-Americans are suffering inordinately in the Obama aftermath of the Bush Great Recession. While overall U.S. unemployment stands at 9.1%, black unemployment has jumped to 16.7%. Black teenage unemployment is bordering on 50%, and that figure doesn't even take into account "discouraged" workers, "involuntary" part-time workers and "underemployed" workers. But even these numbers don't tell the real story. They represent real people who are suffering deeply and have been suffering for a long, long time.

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Close...Behind these numbers are millions of lives discouraged and despondent. People who've lost their self-esteem and pride. The young who have given up on America and some of whom have even turned to crime. Scars are being made across a whole ethnic subset of America. Unemployment, underemployment and involuntary part-time employment represent the loss of a precious natural resource that can never be recouped. No one can feel good about himself if he's living on handouts from Uncle Sam. We as a nation can't wait until 2013 to address this issue.

Whether President Obama's base finds supply-side economics appealing or not, he should immediately join with all members of Congress from both parties to develop a full program for enterprise zones. And while enterprise zones are desperately needed in our inner cities, there are lots of areas in the hollows of Kentucky and West Virginia that need enterprise zones as well, not to mention barrios in California and New Mexico.

Enterprise zones should be areas that are geographically defined with exceptionally high concentrations of poverty, underachievement and unemployment. The policies applicable to enterprise zones should include:

A) For all employment within the enterprise zone of people whose principal residence is also the enterprise zone, there should be no payroll tax whatsoever, neither employer nor employee portions. The employer need not be headquartered in the enterprise zone to take advantage of the elimination of the employer's portion of the payroll tax. The locus of employment does have to be in the enterprise zone.

Don't for a moment think that this will be a budget buster. Right now there aren't many jobs in our inner cities anyway and the few dollars of tax revenues lost will be more than offset by reductions in welfare spending because people will have jobs and won't need welfare. The best form of welfare is still a good job.

B) Federal and state minimum wages must be suspended in the enterprise zone. If not for all employees, then at least for employees under 30. These young people need on-the-job training, and at the present minimum wage many of them aren't worth hiring. That is why they are unemployed.

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CloseAssociated Press
 
A job seeker fills out an application with Coca-Cola at a jobs fair hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus in Miami.
.Even for teenagers who are in school, a summer job is an enormous benefit for a future productive career. This summer and last summer only 30% of all teens worked—all-time lows. We need to break this vicious cycle right now by getting rid of the youth minimum wage in our enterprise zones.

C) In the enterprise zones the government should do an expedited review of all building codes, regulations, restrictions and requirements to make sure that they don't unjustifiably impede economic growth. For example, mandated union membership rules should be voided in enterprise zones as should all prevailing wage provisions and the like.

When I lived in Chicago I reviewed a number of rules and regulations and restrictions whose primary impact was to impede our inner cities from ever achieving prosperity. I'll bet they're even worse now.

D) Profits generated by companies operating and employing people within the enterprise zone should only be taxed at one-third the regular tax rate. No matter how many fewer regulations a company faces, those companies still quite rightly respond to profits for their shareholders.

Businesses don't move their plant facilities as a matter of social conscience. They do it to make profits for their shareholders. If you want more jobs in our most depressed areas, make those areas more profitable for companies to relocate there. It's as simple as that.

I guarantee Mr. Obama that he will receive the support necessary to carry the day in Congress. And once he sees how this plan works for our most depressed areas of America, he can then extend enterprise zones to cover the whole country.

Mr. Laffer, chairman of Laffer Associates, is co-author, with Stephen Moore, of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).
23484  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: September 12, 2011, 07:55:11 PM
Subject to confirmation, yes.
23485  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man formerly in Iraq reports on: September 12, 2011, 07:52:23 PM
BAGHDAD – Gunmen forced their way onto a bus of traveling Shiite pilgrims Monday and shot all 22 men onboard as they traveled through western Iraq's remote desert on a trip to a holy shrine, security officials said.

The bodies were discovered late Monday night, hours after the gang of gunmen stopped the bus at a fake security checkpoint and told all the women and children to get off, according to one security official who interviewed a survivor.

The gunmen then drove the bus a few miles (kilometers) off the main highway between Baghdad and the Jordanian border in Iraq's Sunni-dominated Anbar province. The pilgrims were ordered off the bus and shot one by one, the security officials said.

"The terrorists stopped the bus at gunpoint and killed 22 men," said Maj. Gen. Abdul-Hadi Rizayig, the provincial police chief.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/09/12/22-shiite-pilgrims-shot-dead-in-iraq/#ixzz1Xmi1APG4
23486  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / CNN on: September 12, 2011, 04:46:16 PM
Looks like CNN is coming to do a piece on us.
23487  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Perry, Romney, and SS on: September 12, 2011, 04:23:58 PM


Republicans have been more frustrated than usual with their Presidential candidates, and last Tuesday's debate exchange on Social Security between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney shows why. One candidate seemed to taunt his critics by showing disdain for anyone who supports the entitlement for seniors, while the other candidate sounded like a Democrat defending it.

Mr. Perry was asked about a passage from his recent book in which he called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. The question was inevitable, yet the Texas Governor gave the impression he hadn't given it more than a few moments of thought.

"Anybody that's for the status quo with Social Security today," he said, "is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it's not right." Young people who "expect that program to be sound, and for them to receive benefits when they research retirement age" should be disabused of that notion, Mr. Perry added, repeating the "lie" bit as if he had little more to say.

Give Mr. Perry credit for addressing one of the third rails of American politics, but that doesn't mean he has to invite electrocution. The problem with his hot rhetoric is that it can turn off many voters before they even get a chance to listen to his reform proposals, assuming he eventually offers some.

He's even technically right that Social Security is a species of Ponzi scheme (if not a criminal enterprise) in the sense that young people today are putting more into the system than they can possibly get out in retirement.

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CloseAssociated Press
 
Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.
.Part of the problem is that current seniors get more than they put in thanks to the formula for increasing benefits over time. Eugene Steuerle and Stephanie Rennane of the Urban Institute estimate that a two-earner couple both earning an average wage who retire in 2010 will get $906,000 in benefits having paid $588,000 in payroll taxes. The same couple who retires in 2030 will get $1.23 million (in constant dollars) while having paid $796,000.

Even a pyramid system such as this could be solvent if it took advantage of compound interest. But the overriding problem is that not a dime of the payroll contributions the government collects over a lifetime is saved and invested for a worker's retirement. Social Security's pay-as-you-go financing model means that 12.4% of all wages are transferred to current beneficiaries, the surplus dollars are spent by Congress on other things, and Social Security gets an IOU from the Treasury.

In other words, the program is building up debt even as benefits become less sustainable as the baby boomers begin to retire and the ratio of workers to seniors shrinks. The feds will then have to pay out of other tax revenue to meet Social Security's obligations. This is the long-range problem Mr. Perry should attempt to explain, and the danger is that his rhetoric will scare the elderly rather than reassure them that reform is necessary for the sake of their grandchildren. He's now running to represent Republicans as their Presidential nominee, not hawking a book on conservative talk radio.

As for Mr. Romney, he seems to be taking Social Security assaults a notch or two beyond even the Democratic playbook. At the debate he implied Mr. Perry was "committed to abolishing Social Security," and he has since made this a major campaign theme.

His press shop followed up with a memo claiming Mr. Perry "Believes Social Security Should Not Exist," and Mr. Romney told a talk radio show that "If we nominate someone who the Democrats can correctly characterize as being opposed to Social Security, we would be obliterated as a party."

We'd give Mr. Romney more credit for his professed political prudence if he were at least proposing some Social Security reforms of his own. But his recent 160-page economic platform avoids anything controversial on the subject. If Mr. Romney rides to the nomination by sounding like President Obama on Social Security, he will make any reform he would eventually need to attempt that much harder to accomplish.

The key point is that, unlike a Ponzi scheme, Social Security can be reformed and it will have to be if current workers are to receive any return on their current taxes. Everyone serious knows what the reform options are—from changing the benefits schedule, to "progressive indexing," to raising the retirement age. We'd prefer private accounts so that young people could build wealth as a property right and not depend on the promises of politicians, while the money would be put to productive economic use in the meantime. Herman Cain mentioned it in last week's debate. But if that's too politically adventurous for the two Governors, maybe they can meet somewhere in between their rhetorical positions.

23488  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ to JDN: You are wrong on: September 12, 2011, 04:13:27 PM


For all its soaring rhetoric, President Obama's "jobs speech" last week didn't demonstrate a lick of insight into why economies grow or how wealth is created. It was merely trademark Obamanomics: using government diktat to move money that's over here, over there.

Having spent an hour the day before with Ron Liepert, the energy minister from the Canadian province of Alberta, I found it especially disturbing to hear nothing in the speech about reversing the administration's anti-fossil-fuels agenda. Canada has recovered all the jobs it lost in the 2009 recession, and Alberta's oil sands are no small part of that. The province is on track to become the world's second-largest oil producer, after Saudi Arabia, within 10 years. Meanwhile Mr. Obama clings to his subsidies for solar panels and his religious faith in green jobs.

U.S. unemployment is high because capital is on strike. Short-term offers to coax investors into taking new risks aren't going to cut it when they have been forewarned that the president intends to pay for it all by raising taxes in the out years. The market dropped over 300 points the day after Mr. Obama's speech.

On the regulatory front the picture is even gloomier. Much of America's vast untapped energy potential lies dormant because Mr. Obama's regulatory watchdogs have spent the past three years throwing sand in the gears of the permitting process for exploration and exploitation on federal lands. Separately, TransCanada has been trying since September 2008 to get a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. The Environmental Protection Agency has so far blocked it.

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CloseAssociated Press
 
TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline could mean 118,000 American jobs, if the U.S. government ever issues the permit.
.A glimpse of what all this has cost the U.S. economy can be seen by looking north to Canada, where animal spirits have been unleashed in the energy sector. Canada's close economic ties to the U.S. have traditionally meant that when the U.S. gets the sniffles, Canada gets swine flu. This time it's been different. Part of the reason is that Canada's housing market was not poisoned by a federal government push to put unqualified borrowers into homes they could not afford. After the 2008 collapse of the housing bubble in the U.S., the Canadian financial sector remained strong.

That alone was not enough to protect Canada from the effects of the U.S. recession. The manufacturing sector was hit hard, and in the first quarter of 2009 the economy contracted by an annualized 7.9%.

Yet Canada has outperformed the U.S. since then. In 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund, Canada grew at 3.2% versus 2.9% in the U.S. In 2011, the IMF estimates Canada will grow at 2.9%; unemployment is now 7.3%. The IMF's U.S. growth forecast is 2.5% this year, and U.S. unemployment is 9.1%.

One explanation for Canada's more robust growth is its strong commitment to energy, which has become more valuable in U.S. dollar terms under Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's inflationary policies. Alberta is now producing two million barrels per day but expects that number will grow to four to five million within a decade.

Alberta's oil and gas industry supports more than 271,000 direct jobs and hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs in sectors such as construction, manufacturing and financial services. The province has an unemployment rate of 5.6%. There are also some 960 American companies involved in Alberta energy, supplying equipment and technology, among other things. As an example, Mr. Liepert says, "dozens of Caterpillar tractors, made in Illinois and Michigan and costing $5 million a piece" work the oil sands. He says the region is on track to create more than 400,000 direct American jobs by 2035. The Bakken region of North Dakota, where private land ownership gives drillers relief from federal obstructionism, shares a similar, if smaller, story. Oil production there is booming, and North Dakota unemployment is 3.3%.

The Americas in the News
Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.
.TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, if the U.S. ever issues the permit, will mean $20 billion in investment. The company says the construction phase will require 13,000 direct hires and indirect new jobs could total 118,000 in the U.S.

But Keystone XL is only a fraction of the potential that could be released if Mr. Obama changed his energy policy. In a study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute and released last week, the energy consultancy Wood MacKenzie estimates that pro-development policies could, by 2030, "support an additional 1.4 million jobs, and raise over $800 billion of cumulative additional government revenue."

On the other hand, according to the study, current policies "which slow down the issuance of leases and drilling permits, increase the cost of hydraulic fracturing through duplicative water or air quality regulations, or delay the construction of oil sands export pipelines such as Keystone XL, will likely have a detrimental effect on production, jobs, and government revenues."

A serious jobs proposal would address these issues. Mr. Obama doesn't have one.

 
23489  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: September 12, 2011, 04:10:29 PM
Analyst Kamran Bokhari examines Israel’s regional challenge and Egypt’s domestic challenge following an attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.


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

Egyptian protesters storming the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Sept. 9 has created friction between Egypt and Israel, as both sides try to manage the uneasy relationship. This incident has domestic policy implications for Egypt as well as foreign policy implications for Israel.

Egyptian and Israeli authorities are trying to put behind the incident that took place on Friday when several protesters stormed the Israeli embassy, forcing the Israeli ambassador and his family to return to Israel. Authorities in both countries are trying to manage the diplomatic relationship that has become tense, given the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the uncertain political conditions in Egypt.

The tensions involving Israel are not exactly completely negative from the point of view of Egypt’s military leadership. The Egyptian military authority is interested in delaying, as much as possible, the transition toward civilian rule. What that means is essentially postponing elections as long as possible. Given the current mood within Egypt, the military government doesn’t exactly have the leverage to be able to postpone those elections. That said, an issue like tensions with Israel can be used by the government in Cairo to be able to pull off that kind of postponement of elections. But, nonetheless, the situation right now is very premature and it’s not really clear whether the Egyptian authorities will be able to make use of the incident with Israel to manage domestic politics.

The tensions between Egypt and Israel come at a time when Israel is facing growing problems across its regional neighborhood. Israel has to worry about what is happening in Syria, what would be the fate of the embattled al Assad regime that is facing protests of its own. The Turkish government has announced that it is going to deploy its own naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean, which essentially is upping the anti with Israel, because Israel, thus far, has had freedom of movement in those waters.

In addition, there is the issue of the Palestinians who are trying to use the United Nations General Assembly session this year to be able to pull off a vote in favor of Palestinian statehood. Taken together, all of these issues complicate matters for Israel, and the key pillar of Israeli security is Egypt and the relationship with Egypt. And if Egyptian relations with Israel cannot be managed, then that becomes a far bigger problem for Israel and makes it less likely for Israel to be able to manage the other issues.

23490  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Japan puts a finger into the wind to see which way the wind blows on: September 12, 2011, 10:38:53 AM
  By CHESTER DAWSON
TOKYO—Japan's new defense minister said that while the American alliance remains the core of security policy, he wants to improve ties between Chinese and Japanese armed forces as a means of dealing with China's military rise.

"The U.S.-Japan security relationship is the cornerstone of our national security policy, but based on that foundation we need to improve relations with China," Yasuo Ichikawa said Monday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, his first with a foreign media organization since taking office Sept. 2.

Mr. Ichikawa also said the contract for a next-generation fighter aircraft, a long-delayed and highly anticipated project sought by three global defense titans, will be awarded by year's end.

Sino-Japanese relations have been strained by a series of recent incursions by Chinese ships into Japan's territorial waters in the East China Sea. A war of words between Beijing and Tokyo followed the arrest of a Chinese fishing crew last year, raising alarms about China's intentions toward its Asian neighbors. The dispute came shortly after the resignation of Yukio Hatoyama, who as prime minister had made improved ties with China a central focus of policy.

Japan's new defense minister, appointed by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, downplayed the territorial spat's impact and stressed the importance of opening communications channels with his counterparts in China.

"I'd like to work toward increasing interaction between Japanese and Chinese defense personnel," Mr. Ichikawa said, adding that he would try to visit China personally. He wouldn't be the first Japanese defense minister to do so, but a trip would signal a thaw.

That overture to Beijing evokes Mr. Hatoyama's embrace of China as a counterweight to the U.S., but Mr. Ichikawa said he has no intention of putting distance between Tokyo and Washington.

However, resolution of a long-simmering controversy involving plans to relocate a U.S. military base in Okinawa may take more time, he said. While Washington's desire to make progress is clear, the defense minister indicated Okinawan anti-base sentiment and budgetary limits might slow progress. The countries will share the cost of the move.

"We have to be mindful about the feelings of the Okinawan people and Japan's own schedule issues such as the deadline for budget requests" on defense-related allocations, he said.

In June, the U.S. and Japan agreed to postpone plans dating from 2006 to close a U.S. Marine Corps base at Futenma in Okinawa by 2014, citing cost concerns and local opposition to the proposed relocated Okinawa base.

At the same time, Japan's new defense minister signaled greater willingness to cooperate with the U.S. and other allies sharing the burden of developing advanced military technologies.

Noting the country's "three principles" banning arms exports has inhibited co-development of cutting-edge weapons, Mr. Ichikawa said he favors moving swiftly with the Japanese government's effort to "study" a relaxation of the ban.

"There's no set schedule, but it's not the kind of problem that we can take too long to consider," the defense minister said. "It's important to start taking gradual steps to sound out a direction as soon as possible." He added that relaxing the ban would bolster Japanese manufacturers who are struggling from weak domestic demand.

The review of the restrictions on weapons exports is politically sensitive in Japan because of the country's pacifist constitution. First established as policy in 1967, the principles were originally designed to prevent military technology from falling into the hands of Communist Bloc countries.

Earlier this month, the policy chief of the governing Democratic Party of Japan, former foreign minister Seiji Maehara, ruffled feathers by openly calling for a review of the ban at a speech in Washington, apparently without first consulting with Cabinet officials, including Mr. Ichikawa.

The issue of Japan's ban on arms exports has loomed large as it invests in developing expensive advanced weapons such as ballistic-missile systems. It has also colored the debate on Japanese plans to procure a new generation of fighter planes, since Japan has not been able to co-develop one with allies and missed an opportunity to do so with the F-35 joint strike fighter program spearheaded by the U.S.

Mr. Ichikawa said that Japan will accept formal bids for its next-generation fighter on Sept. 26 and that he expects a decision to be reached by December as part of budgetary discussions for fiscal 2012, at least three years later than initially planned.

The fighter program, dubbed the FX in Japan, will likely call for the purchase of about 40 to 60 planes in a deal expected to total around $4 billion, according to industry officials.

In an era of declining defense budgets, the project has attracted three of the world's biggest defense contractors: Boeing Co. with its F-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin Corp. with the F-35 JSF and Eurofighter GmbH with the Typhoon.

Mr. Ichikawa said it is too early to say who will prevail.

That latest delay in the FX program came earlier this year when the ministry, which had been expected to start vetting bids in March, postponed the process an additional six months due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The new fighter will replace Japan's aging squads of F-4 Phantom fighters, made by McDonnell Douglas, now part of Boeing.

23491  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 12, 2011, 10:22:50 AM
GM:

That's important stuff.  Lets post in on the Energy thread.
23492  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: September 12, 2011, 10:21:32 AM
I will leave GM and JDN to work that particular point out, but in response to JDN's point about the fungibiity of oil and his assumption that therefor US oil will flow to the highest bidder, I could be wrong but I would interject that to the best of my recollection US law requires US oil to be sold in the US, though there may be an exception for Alaskan oil to Japan (and attendant purchases from Venezuela).  
23493  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson to his wife 1787 on: September 12, 2011, 08:10:31 AM
"Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Martha Jefferson, 1787


23494  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why the dollar may last longer than expected on: September 11, 2011, 10:34:40 PM
I have some problems with this piece, but it makes some very interesting points:
================

Why the Dollar May Last For Much Longer Than We Expect
BY CHARLES HUGH SMITH09/08/2011Print

The only way to value the dollar is in the context of a mercantilist, export-dependent global economy anchored by a sole "importer of last resort," the U.S., which funds these vast imports with its fiat currency, the dollar.

Yesterday I explained why a gold-backed currency cannot replace the fiat dollar without fatally disrupting global Capitalism and the political Status Quo everywhere from China to Europe: Why the U.S. Dollar "Works" and Why a Gold-Backed Currency Doesn't (September 7, 2011).

Today we look at why the fiat dollar is the one essential currency, and as a result, why it will rise in value in the Eurozone crisis ahead. I know this is heresy and sacrilege to those who believe the dollar is doomed, and soon, but if you're not yet locked into one quasi-religious faith or another just yet, then please follow along as I trace out the dynamics of trade and currency valuation.

To understand the essential role of the dollar and how its value is derived via trade flows, let's start with a simplified model of global trade.

Country A manufactures surplus goods and generates surplus services. Since its domestic demand is structurally constrained (for example, a mere 35% of China's GDP is domestic demand), the only way Country A can keep its citizens employed and politically pliable is to sell its surplus in other countries.

This is the basic mercantilist export model of growth pursued by Germany, Japan, South Korea, China et al.: growth and value are created by generating surplus goods and services, and exporting those to other nations.

In sum: Country A has stuff it has to sell to other countries to keep its economy from spiraling into depression. It can demand whatever it wants: gold, moon dust, etc., but it is not in the driver's seat: it has no alternative to dumping its surplus in whatever markets will take it. Managing its exports boils down to getting the best deal possible, but saying "no" is not an option.

There is little demand for Country A's currency, as what it is trading isn't currency, it's stuff: it trades its surplus production (stuff) for somebody else's currency.

Country B has a something called "the world's reserve currency" which is a fancy name for paper money that is universally recognized as a placeholder of value that can be traded everywhere from Burma (pristine $100 bills preferred) to Bolivia (cocaine-laced $100 bills OK) and accepted without question (even counterfeit bills are OK as long as they're the high-quality North Korean counterfeits). Let's call Country B's currency the doru.

Country B has exports, but its demand for imports far exceeds the value of its exports. For all imports over and above the value of its exports, it exchanges its paper money for the imported real goods and services.

Country C has no reserve currency and no gold-backed currency. It has paper money which it can print in unlimited quantities. Country C has exports, but its demand for imports far exceeds the value of its exports. For all imports over and above the value of its exports, it exchanges its paper money for the imported real goods and services.

Country C has a tricky problem. Since its paper money has no intrinsic value, the only value it can possibly have is scarcity value: the supply must be strictly limited so that exporting nations will accept County C's currency (let's call them quatloos) in exchange for tangible goods like oil and iPads.

In effect, Country C is asking exporters to accept a premium on the intrinsically worthless paper, a premium "earned" by scarcity: if there are relatively few quatloos floating around the world, then quatloos may well retain some scarcity value, even though their value based on other factors is basically zero.

The best way for Country C to finance its import trade is to exchange its intrinsically worthless quatloos for "the world's reserve currency," the doru, which is accepted everywhere.

Some would argue that Country C should buy gold with its quatloos, and that would certainly be an excellent trade: worthless paper for gold. But in terms of trade, shipping gold about is hazardous and costly: every nation engaged in trade needs an electronically traded currency that can be transferred, loaned, borrowed and so on, all in the blink of an eye.

Gold is a reliable store of value but it is a cumbersome means of exchange, especially globally.

Furthermore, gold's value in currency or other goods has a history of fluctuating wildly. Those managing quatloos could easily get burned, as the trade they're really managing is quatloos to gold to the reserve currency which can actually be traded globally for goods and services.

Any such commodity-based transactional chain is rife with risk from geopolitics and speculation. From the managers of the quatloo's perspective, the easiest way to lower risk is to cut out the middle step of buying and selling gold, and just buy the reserve currency (the doru) directly.

All this works until Country C succumbs to the temptation to print money to the point it is in surplus rather than scarcity. And what a temptation it is, to "increase our wealth" magically by printing quatloos.

But exporters, forced by circumstance to constantly assess the tradable value of all currencies they trade goods for, will quickly detect that the scarcity value of the quatloo--it's only real value--has rapidly declined.

The cost of imports priced in quatloos in Country C shoots up as quatloos lose scarcity value, and the residents of Country C find they can no longer afford to buy imports. The sales of imports collapses down to match Country C's exports.

These are the key dynamics of trade and currency valuation. Now let's consider Country B, owner of "the world's reserve currency," the doru.

Superficially, it might seem that the only value in dorus is also their scarcity value, and since Country B prints/creates large quantities of dorus every year, many observers make the understandable mistake of claiming the value of the doru should be zero, since it is has little to no scarcity value.

But the value of "the world's reserve currency" is not simply a matter of scarcity, as it is for other lesser fiat (paper) currencies. One factor is the nature of scarcity is different for the doru and the quatloo: the quatloo has only one use in terms of global trade: the imports and exports of Country C.

Since Country C's GDP is a thin sliver of global GDP, then demand for quatloos is limited to importers and tourists.

Compare that to "the world's reserve currency," which is in constant demand as a means of exchange in the entire $60 trillion global economy.

"The world's reserve currency" (in our example, the doru) has another unique feature: everybody eventually needs to exchange quatloos and all other currencies for doru, because that is the only universally accepted means of global exchange. Sure, Country C and its cronies can set up an exchange which only accepts gold and quatloos, but as soon as they need wheat, electronics, and everything else the cronies don't manufacture or harvest, then they will need to exchange the gold or quatloos for "the world's reserve currency."

As a result, the demand for doru ("the world's reserve currency") is stupendous and constant. Since currency is a commodity, albeit one with unique features, its ultimate value as a means of exchange is set by supply and demand. In other words, scarcity is not the only source of value: demand is the key driver of value of any commodity, good or service.

Let's say that Country B's economy is about 25% of global GDP. (In other words, like the U.S.) Let's further assume that Country B prints/creates about 10% of its GDP every year in paper doru.

Now if Country C printed 10% of its GDP every year in newly issued quatloos, the supply of quatloos would quickly overwhelm demand for quatloos, and the value of quatloos globally would crash.

Country B doesn't have that problem, because printing 10% of its GDP is a mere 2.5% of global GDP. Globally, the value of currencies exchanged daily exceeds 10% of Country B's GDP and more or less matches the total value of doru in global trade.

In other words, the demand for exchangable, tradable currency--"the world's reserve currency"-- far exceeds the supply of doru. Printing doru, even in quantity, is like adding a glass of water to a bathtub: the supply increase is not even close to the daily demand.

How did Country B get the "the world's reserve currency" instead of Country C? Most importantly, there has to be enough of the currency to grease the tremendous flows of goods, services, loans and hedges globally: the tiny quantity of quatloos is completely inadequate to the task.

Second, the "the world's reserve currency" must be relatively immune to increases in supply, i.e. money printing. For example, if global GDP is $60 trillion, and daily foreign-exchange trading is $2 trillion, then exactly how much impact can printing $1 trillion of "the world's reserve currency" generate? The answer globally is very little.

The third factor is one which few commentators recognize, sometimes called"the hidden export:" global security. All financial transactions involve trust, some more than others. In terms of currency, the primary trust being offered and accepted is that the mechanics of the currency are transparent and thus so are the risks.

The secondary trust is that the value of the currency will remain stable over the short term, which is long enough for the vast majority of trading.

A third trust is in the stability of the issuing nation. Once again, transparency is key: if that nation's problems are well-known and transparent, then the risks of that currency can be easily and accurately assessed. If its institutions are robust and its trade flows gigantic, then people recognize it's a safer bet to hold dorus than quatloos.

The key mechanism for creating surplus value in advanced Capitalism is trade, and the key mechanism for enabling that trade is a "reserve currency" of sufficient quantity and stability. The Chinese renminbi is a proxy for the U.S. dollar, the euro is unraveling, and the yen is not expansive enough to fund global trade and currency flows.

Envy is a key human trait, and the envy of all those who don't hold/print "the world's reserve currency" is understandable. But you can't create "the world's reserve currency" like some other paper money, as paper money only has two sources of value: demand and trust.

As Jesse of the always-valuable Jesse's Cafe Americain recently wrote (and I paraphrase), people often offer reasons why certain things that have happened could not happen. Conversely, they also often offer reasons why things that can't happen should happen.

At some point the trade imbalance of $600 billion a year between the mercantilist nations and the U.S. will go away, as will the notion that printing paper money is creating wealth, and debts that are unpayable will magically be paid instead of being liquidated or repudiated. The point here is that the Status Quo of all the major trading nations is committed to conserving the present system of fraying imbalances, as their own wealth and power flow from this shaky, unsustainable structure.

23495  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 11, 2011, 10:27:28 PM
JDN:

1) The Keynesian calamity of Obamanomics in conjunction with the attendant monetization of the US deficit has caused, as has been commented and discussed in the US dollar thread, the US dollar to dive-- thus triggering an inverse climb of commodity prices-- most certainly including oil.  Obamanomics IS responsible for high oil prices.

2) "But at what price?  Oil spills?  Costing billions of dollars?  Pollution?  Destruction of the environment?  Ask the fisherman in the Golf (sic) how their job is going? How sick they are...  How it affected the fish and the eco system...."

Of course this is why Obama is subsidizing the Brazilians to drill in the same area while puppeteer Soros profits  rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes
There is also the matter of Exxon now working the Arctic with the Russians because US policies block them here.  Meantime the deep water rigs that worked the Gulf have now permanently left US waters for Africa  shocked and elsewhere-- no doubt the environmental standards there are as rigorous as the US's. rolleyes  Similarly lets make sure that the Canadians do not connect their shale oil to the US and instead build a pipeline to the Pacific Ocean so the Chinese can buy it.  No doubt the planet will thank you , , ,  rolleyes

3) "Domestic drilling won't affect prices, so I still say, let's cut demand not increase supply.  In the end, we will all be better off." 

Yes I get that on the whole oil is fungible and so in a macro world economy sense prices may not be affected that much on the margin, but there is the matter of the vulnerability and political volatility of many of the supply sources (Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela, the whole fg mid-east) which puts a rather stiff risk premium on the prices from those sources which would NOT be the case of US sources.  Connected to this is the cost of foreign policies motivated by securing oil supplies.

"Cutting demand"?  That's just what our teetering on collapse economy needs!  Shrewd, real shrewd.

"In the end" we will be fuct if we follow your prescriptions.



23496  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Krugman is scum on: September 11, 2011, 10:09:14 PM

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/the-years-of-shame/?smid=tw-NytimesKrugman&seid=auto

 

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September 11, 2011, 8:41 am

The Years of Shame
Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.
==================================
In a similar vein, a friend relates:

I drove down to Clemson University  for a soccer match today. I had about 8 hours in the car and a lot of time for listening to the fare on satellite radio.


Astoundingly, on this of all days, the focus of the left on Serius Left, was the Truther movement. Not the victims, not the heroes- but the friggin conspiracy that we brought the attack on ourselves on purpose to benefit the war machine.


The horrible little people are abundant.

23497  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: SCOTUS to rule on GPS surveillance on: September 11, 2011, 04:23:53 PM
WASHINGTON — The precedent is novel. More precisely, the precedent is a novel.

In a series of rulings on the use of satellites and cellphones to track criminal suspects, judges around the country have been citing George Orwell’s “1984” to sound an alarm. They say the Fourth Amendment’s promise of protection from government invasion of privacy is in danger of being replaced by the futuristic surveillance state Orwell described.

In April, Judge Diane P. Wood of the federal appeals court in Chicago wrote that surveillance using global positioning system devices would “make the system that George Orwell depicted in his famous novel, ‘1984,’ seem clumsy.” In a similar case last year, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the federal appeals court in San Francisco wrote that “1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last.”

Last month, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn turned down a government request for 113 days of location data from cellphone towers, citing “Orwellian intrusion” and saying the courts must “begin to address whether revolutionary changes in technology require changes to existing Fourth Amendment doctrine.”

The Supreme Court is about to do just that. In November, it will hear arguments in United States v. Jones, No. 10-1259, the most important Fourth Amendment case in a decade. The justices will address a question that has divided the lower courts: Do the police need a warrant to attach a GPS device to a suspect’s car and track its movements for weeks at a time?

Their answer will bring Fourth Amendment law into the digital age, addressing how its 18th-century prohibition of “unreasonable searches and seizures” applies to a world in which people’s movements are continuously recorded by devices in their cars, pockets and purses, by toll plazas and by transit systems.

The Jones case will address not only whether the placement of a space-age tracking device on the outside of a vehicle without a warrant qualifies as a search, but also whether the intensive monitoring it allows is different in kind from conventional surveillance by police officers who stake out suspects and tail their cars.

“The Jones case requires the Supreme Court to decide whether modern technology has turned law enforcement into Big Brother, able to monitor and record every move we make outside our homes,” said Susan Freiwald, a law professor at the University of San Francisco.

The case is an appeal from a unanimous decision of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which said last year that the government was simply seeking too much information.

“Repeated visits to a church, a gym, a bar or a bookie tell a story not told by any single visit, as does one’s not visiting any of those places in the course of a month,” wrote Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg.

He added: “A person who knows all of another’s travel can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.”

Federal appeals courts in Chicago and San Francisco, on the other hand, have allowed the police to use GPS tracking devices without a warrant. The police are already allowed to tail cars and observe their movements without warrants, those courts said, and the devices merely allow them to do so more efficiently.

Judge Richard A. Posner, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel in the Chicago case, did caution that institutionalized mass surveillance might present a different issue.

Some judges say that world is fast approaching.

“Technology has progressed to the point where a person who wishes to partake in the social, cultural and political affairs of our society has no realistic choice but to expose to others, if not to the public as a whole, a broad range of conduct and communications that would previously have been deemed unquestionably private,” Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn wrote last year.

The case to be heard by the Supreme Court arose from the investigation of the owner of a Washington nightclub, Antoine Jones, who was suspected of being part of a cocaine-selling operation. Apparently out of caution, given the unsettled state of the law, prosecutors obtained a warrant allowing the police to place a tracking device on Mr. Jones’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. The warrant required them to do so within 10 days and within the District of Columbia. The police did not install the device until 11 days later, and they did it in Maryland. Now contending that no warrant was required, the authorities tracked Mr. Jones’s travels for a month and used the evidence they gathered to convict him of conspiring to sell cocaine. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The main Supreme Court precedent in the area, United States v. Knotts, is almost 30 years old. It allowed the use of a much more primitive technology, a beeper that sent a signal that grew stronger as the police drew closer and so helped them follow a car over a single 100-mile trip from Minnesota to Wisconsin.

The Supreme Court ruled that no warrant was required but warned that “twenty-four hour surveillance of any citizen of the country” using “dragnet-type law enforcement practices” may violate the Fourth Amendment.

Much of the argument in the Jones case concerns what that passage meant. Did it indicate discomfort with intense and extended scrutiny of a single suspect’s every move? Or did it apply only to mass surveillance?

In the Jones case, the government argued in a brief to the Supreme Court that the Knotts case disapproved of only “widespread searches or seizures that are conducted without individualized suspicion.”

The brief added: “Law enforcement has not abused GPS technology. No evidence exists of widespread, suspicionless GPS monitoring.” On the other hand, the brief said, requiring a warrant to attach a GPS device to a suspect’s car “would seriously impede the government’s ability to investigate leads and tips on drug trafficking, terrorism and other crimes.”

A decade ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the police needed a warrant to use thermal imaging technology to measure heat emanating from a home. The sanctity of the home is at the core of what the Fourth Amendment protects, Justice Antonin Scalia explained, and the technology was not in widespread use.

In general, though, Justice Scalia observed, “it would be foolish to contend that the degree of privacy secured to citizens by the Fourth Amendment has been entirely unaffected by the advance of technology.”

23498  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Beer can wi-fi on: September 11, 2011, 04:16:05 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUYGb2JtQYA
23499  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Gary Goodrich on: September 11, 2011, 08:26:29 AM

One of my memories from when I judged at UFC Ten was the gleam in Gary Goodrich's eye as he came forward after a pretty hellacious exchange.

http://www.bigdaddyfightteam.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=85:acquired-brain-injury-from-fighting
23500  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: NYPD since 911 on: September 10, 2011, 08:08:41 PM
By JUDITH MILLER A specter has haunted the New York Police Department during this week's torrent of 10th anniversary commemorations of 9/11—the 13 terrorist plots against the city in the past decade that have failed or been thwarted thanks partly to NYPD counterterrorism efforts.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and his 50,000-strong department know that the 9/11 gatherings are an occasion not only to reflect on that terrible day. They're also a prime target for al Qaeda and other Islamist extremists who long to convince the world, and perhaps themselves, that they're still capable of killing in the name of their perverse interpretation of Islam.

Commissioner Kelly allocates some $330 million of his $4.6 billion annual budget and 1,200 of his staff to counterterrorism. He and his staff, not surprisingly, spent the week bolstering security at the remembrance gatherings throughout the city. On Wednesday, he came to the Manhattan Institute to tout the NYPD's counterterrorism record and defend his department against press allegations that his intelligence division has been spying illegally on Muslims and infringing on their privacy and civil rights.

Enlarge Image

CloseAssociated Press
 
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly
.The police have to factor terrorism into "everything we do," Mr. Kelly said. If that means following leads that take NYPD undercover detectives into mosques, Islamic bookstores, Muslim student associations, cafes and nightclubs, so be it. Mr. Kelly vowed to continue stationing liaisons in 11 cities abroad to "ask the New York question"—much to the occasional chagrin of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CIA.

It was an undercover officer in an Islamic bookstore who helped stop Shahawar Matin Siraj, a homegrown Muslim extremist and self-professed al Qaeda admirer, from bombing the Herald Square subway station during the 2004 Republican convention, Mr. Kelly said. Another undercover officer prevented homegrown terrorists Ahmed Ferhani, 26, and Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, from bombing a Manhattan synagogue and trying to "take out the entire building."

Would he continue sending NYPD officers across the Hudson into deepest, darkest New Jersey? Yes, he declared, if that was what was needed to keep tabs on the likes of Carlos Almonte and Mohammed Alessa—al Qaeda sympathizers arrested en route to Somalia at JFK Airport in 2010 "who were determined to receive terrorist training abroad only to return home to kill us here."

Michael Sheehan, a former NYPD deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, says that the NYPD has succeeded thanks to its collection and sharing of domestic and foreign intelligence through "humint" (human sources) and "sigint" (signals intelligence) such as electronic intercepts and the monitoring of Internet, cellphone and other communications. Tip-offs from concerned family or community members have also been vital.

Related Video
 Former editorial page deputy editor Melanie Kirkpatrick recollects her experiences on September 11th.
..Sigint was key in disrupting at least two of the most serious al Qaeda plots targeting New York since 9/11: the 2006 "Liquid Bomb Plot," or "Operation Overt," in which 25 British citizens of Pakistani descent targeted some seven transatlantic commercial flights from London to North America; and Operation Highrise, an attempt to use suicide bombers to blow up New York City subways in 2009.

The homegrown Islamist in that plot was Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan immigrant with al Qaeda ties who grew up in New York City and staged his operation from there and Colorado. In Zazi's case, investigators say, officials were initially tipped off by the intercept of an email he sent from Colorado to an address in Pakistan that was associated with another group of terrorists who had been arrested earlier that year in Manchester, England.

The "link man," or coordinator in Pakistan, writes Mitchell D. Silber, director of Intelligence Analysis for the New York Police Department, in his forthcoming book, "The Al Qaeda Factor," was corresponding with operatives in three different al Qaeda plots. Zazi's New York subway plot took off only after he contacted the coordinator, identified only as "Ahmad," and informed him that the "wedding," or suicide operation, "was ready to proceed," writes Mr. Silber.

Another serious plot that was disrupted thanks to Internet intercepts was a 2006 scheme by Assem Hammoud, a 31-year-old Lebanese al Qaeda member, and several other still unnamed Islamists—all overseas—to flood Lower Manhattan by setting off explosives in the PATH railway tunnels under the Hudson River. While no arrests in America were made, several suspects have been detained in Lebanon and other Arab states.

Mr. Silber argues that humint has proven even more valuable than sigint in detecting and thwarting homegrown threats—the fastest-growing category of militant Islamist terror. This explains Mr. Kelly's determination to preserve the NYPD's vast intelligence capabilities, even if he's forced to scale back elsewhere in the department due to budget cuts.

With Osama bin Laden dead and al Qaeda under pressure, some terrorism experts argue, as does Peter Bergen, author of the book "The Longest War," that al Qaeda, or at least its "core," "no longer poses a national security threat" to America "that could result in a mass-casualty attack anywhere close to the scale of 9/11."

Mr. Kelly isn't buying it. He's fixated on the recent jump in homegrown extremist plots throughout the country—to 10 in 2009 and 12 in 2010 from four in 2007 and just one in 2005. The increase, says John Miller, a former deputy director for analysis for the Director of National Intelligence, is most likely due to the influence of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric now hiding in Yemen whose stirring Internet sermons have inspired many of the would-be jihadis detained in recent plots.

Mr. Kelly also knows that in too many cases, New York has been lucky. Faisal Shazad, a middle-class Pakistani–American resident of Connecticut, failed last year to detonate a bomb in Times Square only because he received too little training in Pakistan.

Mr. Kelly calls the killing of bin Laden "success with complications." Those include the numerous references to New York found in his documents in Abbottabad, all of which suggest that bin Laden never abandoned his dream of striking the city again. The discovery on Thursday night of a specific and "credible" al Qaeda linked plot tied to the 9/11 commemorations suggests that Mr. Kelly's concern is justified.

Ms. Miller is an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a commentator for Fox News.
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