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23501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Turkey on: May 14, 2010, 07:46:06 AM
Turkey's Struggle to Become a Major Player
TURKISH PRESIDENT ABDULLAH GUL MET WITH his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, in Ankara on Wednesday. The Russian president described his country’s relations with Turkey as having entered a new “strategic” phase. Medvedev and Gul also signed several energy deals worth some $25 billion, which are likely to increase Russia’s energy influence over the Turks.

While Medvedev’s trip to Turkey may give the impression that relations between the two historic rivals are improving, it should not be forgotten that this visit takes place against the backdrop of a successful move by the Russians to frustrate Turkish plans to expand the latter’s influence in the Caucuses. STRATFOR has written extensively on how the Kremlin was able to undermine Turkey’s moves to normalize relations with its historic foe Armenia by creating problems between Turkey and its ally Azerbaijan. This incident, along with its attempts to play nice with Russia, shows that Turkey, while on the path of regional resurgence, is not in a position to compete with its traditional rival to its north.

More importantly, this weakness vis-a-vis Russia highlights a key obstacle to the Turkish objective of trying to serve as a bridge between the East and the West. During the nearly eight years of the rule of the Justice & Development Party, Turkey has been in the process of reviving itself as a major player on the international scene. One of the ways in which it has been trying to realize this aim is by trying to be a transit state supplying the West with oil and gas.

From Russia’s point of view, this Turkish policy is unacceptable because it undermines European dependence on Russian energy resources. But it is also not in Russia’s interest to adopt a hostile attitude toward Turkey. Hence the Kremlin’s move to engage Turkey in a complex set of bilateral and multilateral relationships in the Caucuses, and thereby successfully checkmating Ankara.

“It is not in Russia’s interest to adopt a hostile attitude toward Turkey.”
One can explain this outcome as a function of Russia being in a far stronger position than Turkey. However, there is more to it than the simple notion of Moscow having a better deck of cards than Ankara. There is also a deeper geopolitical problem that has to do with Turkey awakening from a nearly 90-year geopolitical coma, which could explain Turkey’s miscalculation –- leading it to not only fail in its attempts to normalize ties with Armenia, but also upset relations with its longtime ally, Azerbaijan.

Acting as a state, and following the lead of the West in terms of foreign policy, has led the Turkish leadership to struggle to assume a more independent and leading role. After the implosion of the Ottoman dominion, its successor, the modern Turkish republic based on the Ataturkian model, was an entity that was content to be part of the West. The current leadership has broken with that doctrine and is steering the country toward an increasingly independent foreign policy. But its track record so far indicates that it has a long way to go before the country actually is able to shape geopolitical events and increase its influence on the international scene. This is because the state is dealing with internal problems. Its political and business elite is expanding influence and levers while having to learn how to maneuver on the ground.

Russia is a principal obstacle in its path to great power status, but Turkey is not having much luck elsewhere either. Ankara has been pursuing the role of mediator in a number of disputes to increase its geopolitical influence in the regions it straddles. Key among these disputes has been the Israeli-Syrian peace talks, which floundered and eventually led to deterioration in Turkish-Israeli relations. More recently, Ankara has been increasingly involved in Iraq as well as the Iranian nuclear controversy.

In Iraq, Turkey has run up against Iran, which is far better placed, given that Tehran has had a long head start. On the Iranian nuclear front, it appears to be doing better, but again finds itself caught between Washington and Tehran. Elsewhere, the Turks are trying to make inroads into southeastern Europe –- another former stomping ground. The prospects here look more promising due to the European Union crisis, but again, Turkey has a long way to go.

These initial setbacks do not mean that Turkey is not moving toward great power status, but they do show that the Turks are having to learn from scratch what it means to be a major player. Turkey will eventually get there, but for the time being it appears as though its current leadership may be getting ahead of itself.
23502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Casual sex rankings on: May 14, 2010, 07:35:00 AM
Britain on top in casual sex league
From The Sunday Times
November 30, 2008

BRITISH men and women are now the most promiscuous of any big western industrial nation, researchers have found.

In an international index measuring one-night stands, total numbers of partners and attitudes to casual sex, Britain comes out ahead of Australia, the US, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

The researchers behind the study say high scores such as Britain’s may be linked to the way society is increasingly willing to accept sexual promiscuity among women as well as men. They also believe that, among certain age groups and at certain times, men and women are equally liberal.

The researchers say that cultural developments have meant women are now as able to engage in no-strings sex as men. “Historically we have repressed women’s short-term mating and there are all sorts of double standards out there where men’s short-term mating was sort of acceptable but women’s wasn’t,” said David Schmitt, a professor of psychology at Bradley University, Illinois, who oversaw the research.

The study was conducted by asking more than 14,000 people in 48 countries to fill in anonymous questionnaires. Respondents were asked about numbers of partners and one-night stands, and their attitudes were assessed by asking them how many people they expected to sleep with over the next five years and how comfortable they were with the idea of casual sex.

The results were combined into an index of so-called “sociosexuality”, the term used by evolutionary psychologists as a measure of how sexually liberal people are in thought and behavior. Most individuals scored between 4 and 65.

The country with the highest rating was Finland, with an average of 51. Taiwan came lowest, with 19.

Britain scored 40, placing it 11th overall, behind countries such as Latvia, Croatia and Slovenia - but it was highest among the major western industrial nations. The first tranche of research was published in 2005 but analyses have continued and Schmitt described the latest in this week’s edition of New Scientist.

Britain’s ranking was ascribed to factors such as the decline of religious scruples about extramarital sex, the growth of equal pay and equal rights for women and a highly sexualised popular culture.

Schmitt says the ratio of men to women is one of the factors that determine a country’s ranking.  The high scores in many Baltic and eastern European states might be linked, Schmitt said, to the fact that women outnumber men and so are under more pressure to conform to what men want in order to find a mate. In Asian countries, by contrast, men tend to outnumber women slightly, so it is men who have to conform.

Schmitt’s findings are reinforced by earlier research showing that the British are more likely than other nationalities to have “stolen” other people’s lovers. A third of British men are in relationships with women they have poached from other long-term relationships, he found.  Among British women, 28% have apparently poached their other halves rather than formed relationships with single men. Only 17% of men in America had poached their girlfriends. In France only 10% of both men and women were poachers. In Germany the figures were 17% of men and 14% of women.

Schmitt said that in more liberal countries such as Britain women may even be becoming more promiscuous than men. Such trends are typified by the television series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, in which Billie Piper played a middle-class prostitute who relished her numerous sexual encounters.

One of the most intriguing ideas emerging from Schmitt’s and others’ work is that when women are at their most fertile they become even more willing than men to consider one-night stands.

There are, however, still key differences in the behaviour of men and women, especially regarding the ages at which they are most sexually liberated. Schmitt found that men tended to have the most partners, and to think most about acquiring new ones, when in their twenties. Women’s promiscuity and lustful thoughts tended to peak in their thirties.

*OECD countries with populations over 10m Source: David Schmitt, Bradley University

1 United Kingdom
2 Germany
3 Netherlands
4 Czech Republic
5 Australia
7 France
8 Turkey
9 Mexico
10 Canada
11 Italy
12 Poland
13 Spain
14 Greece
15 Portugal
23503  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 14, 2010, 06:50:18 AM
For those of us who missed this.  What an anus!


Holder Admits to Not Reading Arizona's Immigration Law Despite Criticizing It

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the House Judiciary Committee May 13 on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo)

Despite repeatedly voicing concerns about Arizona's new immigration enforcement law in recent weeks and threatening to challenge it, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday he has not yet read the law -- which is only 10 pages long.

"I have not had a chance to -- I've glanced at it," Holder said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing when asked had he read the state law cracking down on illegal immigrants.

Holder told reporters last month that he fears the new law is subject to abuse and that the Justice Department and the Homeland Security Department are in the midst of conducting a review.

The Arizona law requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

The law has sparked protests across the country, including a City Council-approved boycott of Arizona businesses by Los Angeles.But proponents deny that the law encourages racial profilng, with some saying the local controversy is a symptom of a broken federal immigration system.

Holder said last month that a number of options are under consideration, including the possibility of a court challenge.  On Thursday, Holder said he plans to read the law before reaching a decision on whether he thinks it's constitutional.  When asked by Rep.Ted Poe, R-Texas, how he could have constitutional concerns about a law he has not read, Holder said: "Well, what I've said is that I've not made up my mind. I've only made the comments that I've made on the basis of things that I've been able to glean by reading newspaper accounts, obviously, television, talking to people who are on the review panel...looking at the law."

On Sunday, Holder said he does not think Arizona's law is racially motivated but voiced concern that its enforcement could lead to racial profiling.
Holder said he understands the frustration behind the Arizona law, but he warned during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" that "we could potentially get on a slippery slope where people will be picked on because of how they look as opposed to what they have done."

23504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 13, 2010, 11:10:11 PM
That would be VERY funny.

I saw today that our Guv said he would be afraid to travel to AZ without a passport because of his accent. A cheap political joke tongue
23505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: May 13, 2010, 11:08:41 PM
Well, I do confess that for me that taken in their totality they are holy verses; I think our FF were divinely inspired.
23506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 13, 2010, 11:07:44 PM
Weed was legal until 1936, yes?
23507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 13, 2010, 10:40:59 PM
The tracking course I'm taking will be in AZ and we are planning to take our next family vacation in AZ.
23508  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We are losing on: May 13, 2010, 10:39:44 PM

A new dispatch on Afghanistan is up: PENGUINS OF AFGHANISTAN

My intentions were to write several more dispatches about missions, yet there seems to be so little interest in Afghanistan that it hardly seems worth the time to write about real missions.

There is little embedded work coming from Afghanistan.  McChrystal's censorship seems to be working.  (For now.)  He's losing the war and covering it up.  The deception is easy when so few people are paying attention.  We are losing the war.  At this rate it will be lost.

Very Respectfully,

Michael Yon
23509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sweden on: May 13, 2010, 09:12:48 PM
Raging Muslim Students Screaming “Allahu Akbar” Assault Swedish Artist During Free Speech Lecture


Posted by Jim Hoft on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 12:37 PM

Woah!… Raging Muslim students attacked artist Lars Vilks during a free speech lecture in Sweden. 15 Muslims screaming “Allahu Akbar” rushed the podium, headbutted Vilks, broke his glasses and tackled him to the floor. The whole assault was caught on tape:

Vilks has been receiving death threats since he drew an image of the prophet Mohammad with a dog’s body.

The AP and Atlas Shrugs have more on the attack:

A Swedish artist who angered Muslims by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog was assaulted Tuesday while giving a university lecture about the limits of artistic freedom.

Lars Vilks told The Associated Press a man in the front row ran up to him and head-butted him during a lecture, breaking his glasses but leaving him uninjured. It wasn’t immediately clear what happened to the attacker.

Vilks has faced numerous threats over his controversial drawing of Muhammad with a dog’s body, but Tuesday’s incident was the first time he has been physically assaulted.

Earlier this year U.S. investigators said Vilks was the target of an alleged murder plot involving Colleen LaRose, an American woman who dubbed herself “Jihad Jane,” and who now faces life in prison. She had pleaded not guilty.

Vilks said a group of about 15 people had been shouting and trying to interrupt the lecture before the incident at Uppsala University.  Many of them stormed the front of the room after the attack and clashed with security guards as Vilks was pulled away into a separate room, he said, describing the scene as “complete chaos.”

“A man ran up and threw himself over me. I was head-butted and my glasses were broken,” Vilks said before hanging up for questioning by police.

The Muslims want Lars Vilks dead because he drew this:

He drew the Prophet Mohammad with a dog’s body. Now, he must die.

UPDATE: Zombie has background on the “roundabout dog.”
23510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: May 13, 2010, 07:36:28 PM
Well, that was unexpected shocked

Feet of clay or not, we are a Republic and the Supreme Law is our Consitution.
23511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 13, 2010, 07:31:04 PM

"I don't mind the seizure of assets, but it should only happen after a conviction. It should never happen with charges not being filed."

AMEN!!!  And, to be perfectly clear, nor should it happen with only charges filed.

As for my recommended search warrant policy, it would start by dramatically limiting or ending the WOD.  I suppose that one can make a case that certain drugs physiologically bypass free will, hence personal responsibility, but that really cannot be said of pot.

IMHO the pot prohibitions violate our 9th Amendment rights to pursue happiness as we see fit and as such should be voided by the Supreme Court.  This would make for a lot less door kicking.
23512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: May 13, 2010, 07:27:07 PM
By Tzvi Freeman
Not only is there is no conflict between your work and your time for study, meditation and prayer—on the contrary, they compliment one another:

When you start your day by connecting it to Torah, the day shines and all its parts work in synchronicity. And when you work honestly, carrying the morning’s inspiration in your heart, your work itself rolls out the Torah before your open eyes.

23513  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo 3 on: May 13, 2010, 07:14:50 PM
Marc Denny Spoke with Night Owl this morning at 05:30-- just before he went to bed!

Anyway, KT-3 is moving along nicely. NO tells me he has edited it down to a razor sharp two hour disc. I should be receiving a fine edit by this weekend.
23514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 13, 2010, 06:49:33 PM
These are two very bright, very insightful men and they have some genuine insights and what just happened and where it may be heading.  

Highly recommended.

PS:  I'm working on persuading Scott to join us as his busy schedule allows.
23515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Panic: Redleaf & Vigilante on: May 13, 2010, 06:18:02 PM
23516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 13, 2010, 02:06:40 PM
and, clicking our way along the cyber brick road, we find:
23517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 13, 2010, 02:05:23 PM

A progressive site has some concrete info

along with , , , some progressive stuff.
23518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 13, 2010, 01:45:34 PM
Second post of the day:

The Iraq Question
ON MAY 11, AN AP REPORT CITED multiple anonymous U.S. military sources stating that the planned American drawdown of combat troops from Iraq had been delayed. Later that same day, a Pentagon spokesman denied the veracity of those claims. In his rebuttal, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said that of the 94,000 U.S. soldiers currently in Iraq, only 50,000 would remain by the end of August, with the accelerated drawdown set to begin in earnest in June, keeping in line with previous pledges made by U.S. President Barack Obama. Speaking hypothetically, Morrell said that even if the withdrawal timetable had truly been drawn out, it would not have represented a “dramatic development.”

Despite the Pentagon’s official position on the matter, it is undeniable that Iraq has seen a ramp up in violence and political tension of late. This makes it hard to believe that the Obama administration is not wondering just how strong the hand it holds on the Iraq question is these days in relation to the other player at the table: Iran. Make no mistake, however. The United States is leaving Iraq, even if later than the currently scheduled date for total departure, the end of 2011. And while over the long run the United States holds clear advantages over Iran, the question that affects the more immediate future is how much (if at all) the United States will be able to utilize the time it has left in Iraq to ensure that the country will not be politically dominated by Tehran once the United States is gone.

Judging from the results of the March 7 parliamentary elections in Iraq, the United States may have a harder time than it had previously hoped in seeing this goal through. It is now clear that the Shia will hold the upper hand over the Sunnis when it comes to dictating the terms of who gets what in the new Iraqi government, which is good news indeed in Tehran. It is not good news in Washington, which now faces the prospect of a Shia-run Baghdad — albeit with a significant Sunni population acting as a natural check — being heavily influenced by its eastern Shiite neighbor. As American foreign policy in the region is heavily centered upon maintaining balances of power (one of which, the Iran-Iraq balance, was shattered as a result of the 2003 U.S. invasion), an emboldened Iran flanking its Iraqi satellite state would represent a setback for the United States.

There are options for what the Obama administration may decide to do about the Iraq question, but none of them are very appealing from the United States’ point of view. Washington could attempt to renegotiate its Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government and prolong its military occupation of the country past 2011. In this case, it could opt for either a prolonged presence involving a large number of troops (the least preferable option in the United States’ eyes), or an extended presence with a smaller number of troops. Both scenarios would generate fierce opposition from Iran and many sectors of Iraqi society, not to mention Obama’s constituents at home. Choosing an extended occupation — assuming it got the go ahead for the renegotiation of the SOFA with Baghdad — would see the United States keeping its forces in Iraq and re-evaluating its options as time progresses.

“There are options for what the Obama administration may decide to do about the Iraq question, but none of them are very appealing from the United States’ point of view.”
If Washington eschews both options, it could, of course, simply accept Iran as the dominant regional power. The United States’ geopolitical interests make all of these unattractive choices, however, meaning the United States could seek to alter the equation, in this case through negotiations with Iran. To do this, Washington must be prepared to give Iran credible security guarantees in exchange for a promise from Tehran to allow an independent Iraq at least a modicum of political independence.

Iran may hold the better hand at the moment, but the United States is still the global hegemon, meaning that despite being in a pretty good situation these days, the Iranian regime is anything but overly confident. The threat of war or sanctions may have subsided, but Tehran knows that its fortunes could change rapidly.

The Iranians know the United States wants to leave Iraq — sooner rather than later — and despite their bellicose rhetoric, are willing to work to accommodate the American aspiration to leave behind a relatively stable country. What Tehran desires more than anything is to guarantee its national security. It hopes it can take advantage of America’s momentary weakness to extract concessions, using its potential leverage over Iraq as its prized bargaining chip. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s routine reminders that the only way for Obama to solve his country’s problems in the Middle East is to enlist Iranian support serves to highlight this point.

Already, there have been vague signs of a possible opening in dialogue between the two countries. While in New York last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki hosted a dinner that brought together representatives from United Nations Security Council member states. The United States sent Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff, a low-ranking official, but a representative of the United States government nonetheless. Wolff and Mottaki reportedly discussed the status of four American citizens currently believed to be held in Iran, including former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who has not been seen since 2007. On May 11, Mottaki announced that the mothers of the other three Americans discussed at the dinner — a trio of hikers detained on the Iranian side of the border near Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2009 — would be granted visas to come visit their children.

It is exactly these types of gestures, however insignificant they may appear in isolation, that must precede any meaningful dialogue on a topic as momentous as the future of an independent Iraq.
23519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Drawdown from Iraq on: May 13, 2010, 11:46:43 AM
The rapid withdrawal of some 40,000 U.S. troops from Iraq over the course of three months looms even as the delicate ethno-sectarian balance of power in Baghdad looks shakier than it has in years and violence appears to be on the rise. STRATFOR examines this withdrawal and its implications.

There are 94,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Although reports emerged May 11 that the long-anticipated drawdown to 50,000 troops might not begin in earnest until June, the Pentagon maintains that everything is on track to meet the deadline for all combat troops to be out of the country at the end of August.

The planned drawdown comes as violence in Iraq appears to be on the rise and the ethno-sectarian balance of power holding the country together looks to be growing ever more delicate. The drawdown certainly will have implications for the situation in Iraq, but even a reduced U.S. force remains a significant presence in the country and an important factor in the effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces.

The Basics
The drawdown of just more than 40,000 troops in three months (only 91,000 troops are expected to remain in Iraq by the end of May) can only be described as rapid. Even U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. officer in Iraq, described it as a “waterfall.” But a drawdown of this scale at this pace does not happen without immense preparation, and that is a key aspect of the plan; many of the shifts the drawdown entails have already taken place. Since the 2007 surge, during which the number of U.S. troops in the country peaked at around 170,000, the U.S. military in Iraq slowly shifted from being at the forefront of security efforts to playing a tactical overwatch role. That role has continued to evolve, with U.S. forces continuing to move toward a more operational or, in some cases, even a higher, strategic-level overwatch.

Joint patrols are still conducted, especially in more contentious areas such as the northern city of Kirkuk. U.S. training, advising and support — particularly in terms of intelligence and logistics — are still essential to the effective functioning of the Iraqi security forces, which are not expected to be fully effective until at least the end of 2011. But by and large, the United States has already handed over its role in directly maintaining routine security.

The U.S. role is still practical in terms of facilitating and overseeing the day-to-day maintenance of security. But the drawdown schedule has been informed by projections and calculations about what the Iraqi security forces will need from U.S. forces in terms of said facilitation and oversight. In short, if the overarching but delicate sectarian balance of power holds, the United States will have sufficient forces in place to continue supporting the Iraqis in providing for basic internal security.

The Catch
However, that remains a rather large “if.” Even at the height of the surge, the United States has never had anywhere near enough troops in Iraq to militarily impose a political reality on the entire country. The surge’s success was founded upon the 2006-7 decision by the Sunni tribal chiefs in Anbar and other Sunni provinces to reject al Qaeda in Iraq and form Awakening Councils that worked directly with the U.S. military. It also succeeded because of the 2006 agreement in Baghdad on an acceptable division of control over the various security and intelligence organs of state among Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leadership.

It was this division of control that provided the foundation for the delicate sectarian balance of power that has made the security environment in Iraq fairly stable and permissive for the last few years. The relatively calm and peaceful March 7 elections appeared promising in terms of sustaining this balance, but the formation of a governing coalition has been fraught with difficulty and sectarian strife. Moreover, in Iraq the winners must not only form a parliamentary coalition but must also decide whether to divvy up the various security and intelligence posts in line with the 2006 deal or to strike a new one. That process remains very much in flux.

Meanwhile, sectarian tensions have begun to flare back up, and Sunnis have serious concerns about being marginalized after they threw their weight behind the non-sectarian al-Iraqiya party, which won the most votes. At the moment, STRATFOR remains fairly confident in its assessment that a massive and devastating blow has been struck against al Qaeda in Iraq, but should the Sunnis return to arms, they could again become more welcoming to foreign jihadists.

So while it is clear that the post-drawdown provisions for security in the country are likely sufficient to maintain the status quo in a benign security environment, the real heart of the matter is the Iraqi security forces’ ability to hold together and impose security, as well as Baghdad’s writ in a more contentious and charged sectarian environment.

Since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s botched dispatch of Iraqi security forces to Basra in 2008 to take action against Shiite militias — especially the armed wing of Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement — without prior consultation with the United States (an operation that was woefully underplanned and undersupplied and was only saved by quick U.S. intervention), very real and important improvements have been made to the Iraqi security forces. But while some units have performed well under fire, the overall environment has been relatively benign and free of excessive sectarian tension, so the forces have gone effectively untested with respect to the situations they may face in the next year.

The military is institutionally stronger and more coherent than even the National Police service, but Iraqis largely still identify along ethno-sectarian lines. This can create multiple senses of identity and thus competing loyalties — not just among the soldiers but also among the commanders and civilian leaders. Amid the current ethno-sectarian tensions, the security forces remain coherent and intact. But if tensions seriously escalate, the list of potential scenarios is almost limitless. A major breakdown in Iraq could lead to not just desertions but the use of security forces for sectarian purposes and even different elements of the forces fighting amongst themselves.

U.S. Combat Capability
The United States has limited ability to ramp its forces in Iraq back up to intervene in a civil war. With nearly 100,000 U.S. troops slated to be committed to Afghanistan by the end of the summer, the United States simply lacks the troops to return to surge levels in Iraq even if it wanted to — and it certainly has no appetite to do so. Meanwhile, the disposition of U.S. forces has fundamentally shifted and contracted considerably. Not only joint security stations but whole forward operating bases have been decommissioned and handed over to the Iraqis. U.S. troops are becoming less dispersed and less exposed, concentrating at bases that are better protected and less vulnerable. But they are also losing some of their nuanced situational awareness and certainly their ability to respond rapidly across the country. Simultaneously, massive amounts of materiel have either been liquidated or shipped back out of the country. So even with the troops still in place, there are logistical and infrastructural complications to returning to Iraq in a big way.

In any event, the United States requires either a coherent Iraqi security force to support in dealing with widespread sectarian tension or for the violence to take place only in isolated areas where force can be concentrated and Iraqi security personnel can be more carefully selected to minimize ethno-sectarian conflicts of interest.

And while all combat troops are supposed to be out of the country by the end of August, this is less of a distinction than it might seem. In terms of day-to-day operations, Americans remain important force multipliers and enablers for Iraqi security forces, with whom they work regularly. This means that, in areas where U.S. troops remain involved after August, the shift will not necessarily be as sharp and sudden as it might first seem.

An Advisory and Assistance Brigade (AAB) is still, at heart, a brigade combat team — simply under a different name with some reorganization and reorientation. Five of the 10 brigade combat teams in Iraq (not counting three brigades dedicated to convoy and base security) are already designated as AABs. They continue to have not only infantry, but cavalry and in some cases even armored battalions under their command, and even the smallest contingent of American advisers should have the ability to call for artillery support or close air support.

In short, there is no denying that slashing more than 40,000 troops from Iraq in three months will entail significant shifts on the ground. But 50,000 troops is still an enormous commitment of forces (as a point of comparison, U.S. forces in Korea number less than 30,000). The contingent is still larger and more capable than many countries’ entire militaries, and that is without mentioning the potent special operations forces that will remain on the ground. Though these forces will be unable to impose a reality on Iraq as was done in post-World War II Germany and Japan, they will be able to help maximize the effectiveness of Iraqi security forces. They can also defend themselves and, if necessary, conduct limited operations themselves.

This utilization of U.S. forces is not something that would be done lightly or without consequence, but it is a reminder of the enduring, if declining, military capability and subsequent influence that the United States will continue to enjoy in Iraq and with the government in Baghdad. The American position should not be overstated, but it must also not be understated. The essential fact is that it is on a steady, downward trajectory. It is neither precipitous nor cautious, but in the end remains extremely difficult to reverse.

Ultimately, everything rests on the formation of a government in Baghdad and the establishment of an equitable power-sharing agreement for the security and intelligence organs. It need not be perfect, and it need not be without contention. But the more contained and more limited the sectarian flare-ups, the more manageable they will be for the fledgling Iraqi security forces and the remaining U.S. troops. Conversely, if the descent into sectarian chaos becomes deep and sustained, the question will become not if but when the security forces will begin to fracture — and even 170,000 U.S. troops would not be able to manage that without some underlying political understanding between ethno-sectarian factions.
23520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: May 13, 2010, 10:25:05 AM
Agreed that that is the current law. 

What is not clear to me however is what a legal category of no Miranda rights for US citizens declared by the State to be X would look like; ditto where they could lose their citizenship, as proposed by Senator Lieberman.
23521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kagan on: May 13, 2010, 10:22:41 AM
Alexander's Essay – May 13, 2010

Komrade Kagan
"[T]he opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not ... would make the judiciary a despotic branch. ... [T]he germ of dissolution of our federal government is ... the federal Judiciary ... working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped. ... They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone." --Thomas Jefferson

Justice Elena Kagan?Barack Obama has nominated his Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Since this is a lifetime appointment, we should consider the implications for our Constitution and for liberty.

Will this Ivy League academic be an advocate for Essential Liberty and Rule of Law, or does she subscribe to the errant notion of a "living constitution"?

According to Obama, Kagan "is widely regarded as one of the nation's foremost legal minds," and he's right -- if by "widely" he means among elitist Leftists.

In fact, Obama's assessment of Kagan mirrored that of her über-Leftist Princeton prof Sean Wilentz, under whose tutelage Kagan wrote her glowing thesis on socialism in the early 20th century. "Kagan," said Wilentz, "is one of the foremost legal minds in the country."

In her thesis, Kagan lamented the fact that free enterprise overcame socialism and concluded, "A coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism's glories than of socialism's greatness."

"Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force?" wondered Kagan. "Why, in particular, did the socialist movement never become an alternative to the nation's established parties? Through its own internal feuding, then, the SP [Socialist Party] exhausted itself..."

In her thesis, Kagan lamented the fact that free enterprise overcame socialism and concluded, "In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism's glories than of socialism's greatness. ... In unity lies their only hope."

Ah, yes, the "hope and change" necessary for Obama to make good on his promise to "fundamentally transform the United States of America."

Just as Obama was mentored by Marxists, Kagan has been steeped in socialist doctrine, and is no doubt rejoicing in the resurgence of socialism in the U.S. under the leadership of Obama and his water boys in the legislative and judicial branches.

As for her qualifications for a seat on the Supreme Court, Obama insists that Kagan "is an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law."

In fact, she has exactly no judicial experience and very limited litigation experience. Legal authority Ken Klukowski writes that Kagan is an ideal nominee for Obama: "She's a liberal without a paper trail."

Sounds like the Obama model.

Most of Kagan's experience is academic (read: "deficient"), at the University of Chicago Law School and as dean of Harvard Law School, where she attempted to boot military recruiters off campus at the height of the war in Iraq. Her reason for this frontal assault on our nation's ability to defend itself was the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which Kagan called "a profound wrong -- a moral injustice of the first order."

Even The Washington Post concludes that her qualifications "can only be called thin," noting further, "even her professional background is thin."

While media profiles of Kagan paint her, predictably, as a moderate "consensus-builder," Kagan is, in fact, a genuine, hardcore Leftist, a former legal counsel to the Clintonista regime who began her political career in earnest as a staffer for liberal Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis's presidential run back in 1988.

Her liberal roots were firmly entrenched by the time she graduated from Princeton in 1981, the year Ronald Reagan took office. A New York Times profile of Kagan notes, "On Election Night, she drowned her sorrow in vodka and tonic as Ronald Reagan took the White House."

More recently, the thin legal trail she has established as Obama's Solicitor to the Supreme Court raises serious questions about Kagan's commitment to the plain language of the First Amendment.

In a 1996 law review article, Kagan wrote that the "redistribution of speech" is not "itself an illegitimate end," which is another way of saying that the court has a responsibility to level the playing field for various ideas, including the Internet, talk radio, etc.

She recently offered a similar argument before the High Court in regard to the government's authority to regulate print materials under campaign finance laws, a notion that Chief Justice John Roberts concluded, "As a free-floating test for First Amendment coverage, that [proposition] is startling and dangerous."

Says Kagan, "Constitutional rights are a product of constitutional text as interpreted by the courts and understood by the nation's citizenry and its elected representatives."

She undoubtedly came to that errant conclusion while clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall, of whom she later wrote admiringly, "In Justice Marshall's view, constitutional interpretation demanded, above all else, one thing from the courts: it demanded that the courts show a special solicitude for the despised or disadvantaged. It was the role of the courts, in interpreting the Constitution, to protect the people who went unprotected by every other organ of government -- to safeguard the interests of people who had no other champion. The Court existed primarily to fulfill this mission. ... The Constitution, as originally drafted and conceived, was 'defective.' The Constitution today ... contains a great deal to be proud of. But the credit does not belong to the Framers. It belongs to those who refused to acquiesce in outdated notions of 'liberty,' 'justice,' and 'equality.' Our modern Constitution is [Marshall's]."

Setting aside her utter disdain for our Constitution and its authors, Kagan is flat-out wrong about the role of the High Court. It exists to safeguard the unbiased application of our Constitution's original intent.

In 1987, the year before Kagan clerked for Marshall, he delivered a lecture entitled, "The Constitution: A Living Document," in which he argued that the Constitution must be interpreted in a way that succumbs to the contemporary political, moral and cultural climate.

That is the very definition of the "living constitution" upon which judicial activists have relied in order to amend our Constitution by judicial fiat rather than its prescribed method in Article V.

No doubt, Kagan will advance that heretical and treasonous interpretation.

Obama claims that Kagan understands the law "not as an intellectual exercise or words on a page -- but as it affects the lives of ordinary people."

Not as "words on a page"?

It is precisely that rejection of the plain language of our Constitution that led President Thomas Jefferson in 1804 to call the court "the despotic branch."

Indeed, since the very founding of our constitutional government, the judiciary has worked "like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped."

Back in 1987, during confirmation hearings for Judge Robert Bork (one of the most qualified jurists ever nominated to the High Court), one Leftist senator commented, "The Framers intended the Senate to take the broadest view of its constitutional responsibility," especially in regard to the nominee's "political, legal and constitutional views." That senator was Joe Biden, who rejected Judge Bork because he was a "constitutional constructionist," precisely the attribute our Founders wanted in jurists.

Perhaps those in the Senate today will rightly consider Kagan's "political, legal and constitutional views," and reject her nomination in order to preserve Essential Liberty and Rule of Law.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, PatriotPost.US
23522  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Lock-up Raw: Predatory Behavior on: May 13, 2010, 08:49:33 AM
23523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 13, 2010, 07:51:53 AM
Although, as I just mentioned, I admire Scott's work greatly-- I do not share his optimistic conclusions, as tempered as they may be.  I think (fear?) that this time is different; that we have kept kicking the day of reckoning upstream until we have reached a point where the world as a whole is rather bankrupt and a world wide bubble is in the process of bursting.

Glenn Beck makes the interesting point that in the aftermath of WW2 that world-wide economic integration was seen as a good and necessary way to prevent another world-wide conflagration, but that now that we are all integrated into one world-wide economy, when the excrement hits the fan that everyone is going to get splattered.
23524  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: May 13, 2010, 07:45:39 AM

You raise a fascinating point here, one of import beyond the confines of this thread.  If you have more in this vein, maybe I should expand the definition of the Fascism thread , , ,
23525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: May 13, 2010, 07:42:15 AM
Understood, of course.  But what if Progressives are in charge and start defining us as terrorist threats, e.g. as was seen in that Homeland Security report a few months back and this logic is already established for Islamo-fascism?
23526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / John Paul Jones on: May 13, 2010, 07:39:08 AM
An honorable Peace is and always was my first wish! I can take no delight in the effusion of human Blood; but, if this War should continue, I wish to have the most active part in it." --John Paul Jones, letter to Gouverneur Morris, 1782
23527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: May 12, 2010, 02:50:42 PM
Although I tend to be more apocalyptic, as always Scott Grannis is a beacon of quality economic analysis:

This is quality stuff folks!
23528  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in NYC 6/19-20 on: May 12, 2010, 02:18:51 PM
So, some of the Toronto Clan of the DBs will be coming?
23529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Founding Father Fridays on: May 12, 2010, 01:48:34 PM
GB is running Founding Father Fridays for at least a month.  #1 was Sam Adams.  My son and I watched this together.  Saved and awaiting our viewing is #2 on George Washington.  #3 will be on the black patriots in MA.

Based upon what my son and I saw in #1, I recommend this heartily.  Good family viewing too!  Help educate your children right!

23530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Shazad and the pre-911 paradigm on: May 12, 2010, 01:40:36 PM
Question presented:  What of Glenn Beck's hypothetical last night in the context of the Kagan nomination and her statement in support of treating someone accused of raising money for AQ as an enemy combatant:  What if another Timothy McVeigh strikes?  Can the State use what Mukasey describes below to go after those of us who actively support the 912 movement/the Tea Party?


Shazad and the pre-911 paradigm
Some good news from the attempted car bombing in Times Square on May 1 is that—at the relatively small cost of disappointment to Broadway theater-goers—it teaches valuable lessons to help deal with Islamist terrorism. The bad news is that those lessons should already have been learned.

One such lesson has to do with intelligence gathering. Because our enemies in this struggle do not occupy a particular country or location, intelligence is our only tool for frustrating their plans and locating and targeting their leaders. But as was the case with Umar Faruk Abdulmutallab, who tried to detonate a bomb aboard an airplane over Detroit last Christmas Day, principal emphasis was placed on assuring that any statements Faisal Shahzad made could be used against him rather than simply designating him an unlawful enemy combatant and assuring that we obtained and exploited any information he had.

On Sunday, Attorney General Eric Holder said that in regard to terrorism investigations he supports "modifying" the Miranda law that requires law enforcement officials to inform suspects of their rights to silence and counsel. But his approach—extension of the "public safety exemption" to terror investigations—is both parsimonious and problematic. The public safety exemption allows a delay in Miranda warnings until an imminent threat to public safety—e.g., a loaded gun somewhere in a public place that might be found by a child—has been neutralized. In terror cases it is impossible to determine when all necessary intelligence, which in any event might not relate to an imminent threat, has been learned.

The lesson from our experience with Abdulmutallab, who stopped talking soon after he was advised of his rights and did not resume for weeks until his family could be flown here to persuade him to resume, should have been that intelligence gathering comes first. Yes, Shahzad, as we are told, continued to provide information even after he was advised of his rights, but that cooperation came in spite of and not because of his treatment as a conventional criminal defendant.

Moreover, once Shahzad cooperated, it made no more sense with him than it did with Abdulmutallab to publicize his cooperation and thereby warn those still at large to hide and destroy whatever evidence they could. The profligate disclosures in Shahzad's case, even to the point of describing his confession, could only hinder successful exploitation of whatever information he provided.

The Shahzad case provides a reminder of the permanent harm leaks of any kind can cause. An Associated Press story citing unnamed law enforcement sources reported that investigators were on the trail of a "courier" who had helped provide financing to Shahzad.

A courier would seem oddly out of place in the contemporary world where money can be transferred with the click of a mouse—that is, until one recalls that in 2006 the New York Times disclosed on its front page a highly classified government program for monitoring electronic international money transfers through what is known as the Swift system.

That monitoring violated no law but was leaked and reported as what an intelligence lawyer of my acquaintance referred to as "intelliporn"—intelligence information that is disclosed for no better reason than that it is fun to read about, and without regard for the harm it causes. Of course, terrorists around the world took note, and resorted to "couriers," making it much harder to trace terrorist financing.

In the hours immediately following the discovery and disarming of the car bomb, media outlets and public figures fell all over themselves to lay blame as far as possible from where it would ultimately be found. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano suggested the incident was entirely isolated and directed her agency's personnel to stand down. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg sportingly offered to wager a quarter on the proposition that the bomb was the work of a solitary lunatic, perhaps someone upset over passage of the health-care bill, and much merriment was had over how primitive the bomb had been and how doomed it was to fail.

This sort of reaction goes back much further than this administration. Consider the chain of events leading to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and eventually 9/11.

In November 1990, Meir Kahane, a right-wing Israeli politician, was assassinated after delivering a speech at a Manhattan hotel by El-Sayid Nosair, quickly pigeonholed as a lone misfit whose failures at work had driven him over the edge. The material seized from his home lay largely unexamined in boxes until a truck bomb was detonated under the World Trade Center in 1993, when the perpetrators of that act announced that freeing Nosair from prison was one of their demands.

Authorities then examined the neglected boxes and found jihadi literature urging the attacks on Western civilization through a terror campaign that would include toppling tall buildings that were centers of finance and tourism. An amateur video of Kahane's speech the night he was assassinated revealed that one of the 1993 bombers, Mohammed Salameh, was present in the hall when Nosair committed his act, and the ensuing investigation disclosed that Nosair was supposed to have made his escape with the help of another, Mahmoud Abouhalima, who was waiting outside at the wheel of a cab.

Nosair jumped into the wrong cab and the terrified driver pulled over and ducked under the dashboard, at which point Nosair tried to flee on foot and was captured. Salameh was captured when the vehicle identification number on the truck that carried the bomb led investigators to a rental agency, where he showed up days later to try to retrieve the deposit on the truck so that he could finance his escape.

Despite the toll from the first World Trade Center blast—six killed, hundreds injured, tens of millions of dollars in damage—and the murder of Kahane, much sport was made of how inept the perpetrators were.

Nosair and the 1993 Trade Center bombers were disciples of cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, known as the "blind sheikh," who was tried and convicted in 1995 along with nine others for conspiring to wage a war of urban terror that included not only that bombing and the Kahane assassination but also a plot to bomb simultaneously the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and the United Nations.

One of the unindicted co-conspirators in that case was a then-obscure Osama bin Laden, who would declare in 1996 and again in 1998 that militant Islamists were at war with the United States. In 1998, his organization, al Qaeda, arranged the near-simultaneous bombing of American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Despite the declaration of war and the act of war, the criminal law paradigm continued to define our response. Along with immediate perpetrators, and some remote perpetrators including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, bin Laden was indicted, and the oft-repeated vow to "bring them to justice" was repeated. Unmoved, and certainly undeterred, bin Laden in 2000 unleashed the attack in Yemen on the destroyer USS Cole, killing 17.

That was followed by Sept. 11, 2001, and it appeared for a time that Islamist fanaticism would no longer be greeted with condescending mockery. To the phrase "bring them to justice" was added "bring justice to them." The country appeared ready to adopt a stance of war, and to be ready to treat terrorists as it had the German saboteurs who landed off Long Island and Florida in 1942—as unlawful combatants under the laws of war who were not entitled to the guarantees that the Constitution grants to ordinary criminals.

There have been more than 20 Islamist terrorist plots aimed at this country since 9/11, including the deadly shooting by U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, those of Abdulmutallab and Shahzad, and those of Najibullah Zazi and his cohorts, Bryant Neal Vinas and his, against commuter railroads and subways in New York; of plotters who targeted military personnel at Fort Dix, N.J., Quantico, Va., and Goose Creek, S.C., and who murdered an Army recruiter in Little Rock, Ark.; of those who planned to blow up synagogues in New York, an office building in Dallas, and a courthouse in Illinois, among others.

Yet the pre-9/11 criminal law paradigm is again setting the limit of Attorney General Holder's response, even to the point of considering the inapposite public safety exception to Miranda as a way to help intelligence gathering. He continues to press for a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others who had long since been scheduled to be tried before military commissions.

A significant lesson lurking in Shahzad's inadequacy, and the history that preceded it, is that one of the things terrorists do is persist. Ramzi Yousef's shortcomings in the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center were made up for by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. We should see to the good order of our institutions and our attitudes before someone tries to make up for Faisal Shahzad's shortcomings.

Mr. Mukasey was attorney general of the United States from 2007 to 2009.
23531  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Tolmin, Slovenia 6/26-27 on: May 12, 2010, 01:20:44 PM
23532  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in NYC 6/19-20 on: May 12, 2010, 01:09:21 PM
Host Eddie Hunt tells me momentum is building for this one.  Pardon the cliche, but space is limited; if you want to be sure of your space it is time to get busy!
23533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Great shot! on: May 12, 2010, 10:58:28 AM
23534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: May 12, 2010, 10:30:32 AM

Jon Stewart on South Park
23535  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: May 11, 2010, 11:11:53 PM
My required working weight is 45 pounds, so today I did 45 pounds for 6 miles (9 trips down and up) at Bluff Cove.  Nasal strips definitely helping breathing.
23536  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sept 19, 2010 on: May 11, 2010, 11:09:59 PM
Dog Mauricio of Mexico City looks to be in. 

Many others too; it's still early for people getting formally registered.
23537  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: UFC 113 in Montreal on: May 11, 2010, 10:35:47 AM
As Machida waited for the fight to begin I did not sense his mind to be 100% right and the initial exchanges increased my sense of this.  In my analysis the determining factor in the first fight, which I think (and Lyoto's ribs think too I suspect) Rua won, was that Rua shut off LM's ability to move right (i.e. to the outside angle for the mirror lead structure presented by lefty vs. righty).  Perhaps this was due to the threat of Rua's hook (see e.g. the Zirconia like hook with which he knocked out Chuck Lidell)?

I saw L try circling right one time (I've only watched the fight once and will watch it again before deleting it) but then he got manuevered into circling left again.  I'll have to check, but I suspect SR's left foot was outside LM's right foot at the moment of his right hand coming over L's left hand.

I continue to root for Kimbo and was glad he had some nice takedowns, but you would think that by now he would have the basics of defending his legs from kicks in place , , ,

I forget whether it was Stout or Stevens (IIRC?) but someone in that fight used linear Zirconias 2x very nicely.

23538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / JP Jones 1778 on: May 11, 2010, 10:22:56 AM
"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way." --John Paul Jones, letter to M. Le Ray de Chaumont, 1778

23539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington: General Orders 1776 on: May 10, 2010, 09:57:03 PM

"We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our won Country's Honor, all call upon us for vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now  shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions." --George Washington, General Orders, 1776
23540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PM Margaret Thatcher on: May 09, 2010, 05:16:13 PM
23541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / White Woman's Workout on: May 09, 2010, 04:47:31 PM!
23542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 09, 2010, 01:00:38 AM
Only if the Rep candidate wins in November.
23543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: May 09, 2010, 12:57:51 AM
I was hoping for a more specific answer than that , , ,
23544  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: May 09, 2010, 12:52:56 AM
40 minutes today with 80 pounds and another 40 with 70 pounds on the Bluff Cove path.  Huffin' and puffin'!
23545  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: I don't know if I can post this here but, I am selling a few knives on: May 08, 2010, 03:48:40 PM
Well, if you don't know, the correct thing to do is ask first  cheesy and yes you may  smiley
23546  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Authorities: WTF? on: May 08, 2010, 09:39:18 AM
Origin of Wall Street’s Plunge Continues to Elude Officials
Published: May 7, 2010
A day after a harrowing plunge in the stock market, federal regulators were still unable on Friday to answer the one question on every investor’s mind: What caused that near panic on Wall Street?

Through the day and into the evening, officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies hunted for clues amid a tangle of electronic trading records from the nation’s increasingly high-tech exchanges.

But, maddeningly, the cause or causes of the market’s wild swing remained elusive, leaving what amounts to a $1 trillion question mark hanging over the world’s largest, and most celebrated, stock market.

The initial focus of the investigations appeared to center on the way a growing number of high-speed trading networks interact with one another and with venerable exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange. Most investors are unaware that these competing systems have fractured the traditional marketplace and have displaced exchanges like the Big Board as the dominant force in stock trading.

The silence from Washington cast a pall over Wall Street, where shaken traders returned to their desks Friday morning hoping for quick answers. The markets remained on edge, as the uncertainty over what caused Thursday’s wild swings added to the worries over the running debt crisis in Greece.

In a joint statement issued after the close of trading, the S.E.C. and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said they were continuing their review. And the two agencies indicated they were looking particularly closely at how different trading rules on different exchanges, which temporarily halted trading on some markets while activity in the same stocks continued on other markets, might have contributed to the problem.

“We are scrutinizing the extent to which disparate trading conventions and rules across various markets may have contributed to the spike in volatility,” the statement said.

A government official who was involved in the investigation said regulators had moved away from a theory that it was a trading mistake — a so-called fat finger episode — and were examining the links between the futures and cash markets for stocks.

In particular, this official said, it appeared that as stock trading was slowed on the New York Exchange when big price moves started, orders moved automatically to other, electronic exchanges that did not have pricing restrictions.

The pressure in the less-liquid markets was amplified by the computer-driven trades, which led still other traders to pull back. Only when traders began to manually respond to the sharp drop did the market seem to turn around, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was not complete.

On Friday evening, another government official directly involved in the investigation said that regulators had not yet been able to completely rule out any of the widely discussed possible causes of the market’s gyrations.

This official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that regulators had collected statistical and trading data from stock and futures exchanges, and had begun cross-analyzing that with trading reports from brokerage firms and large market participants. Regulators have also gathered anecdotal accounts of what happened from hedge funds and other trading firms.

The two major regulatory agencies — the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — have generated multiple memos detailing what they have found and offering possible causes for the market events. Among the issues discussed in the memos, the official said, were the disparate rules that different stock exchanges have for dealing with large price movements on the same securities and how prices on futures markets and stock exchanges appeared to lead or follow each other’s movements down and back up.

The lack of a firm answer, more than 24 hours after the market’s plunge Thursday, left some on Wall Street frustrated.

“The problem is you don’t come in and find out what the clear answer is,” said Art Hogan, the New York-based chief market analyst at Jefferies & Company. “We don’t have the clear explanation for how it happened.”

Others, however, said it would take time to pinpoint what happened given the increasingly complex nature of modern stock trading.

Over the last five years, the stock market has split into a plethora of new competing hubs and trading outlets, a legacy of deregulation earlier this decade and fast-paced technological change. On Friday, the rivalry between the two main exchanges erupted into view as each publicly pointed the finger at the other for being a main cause of the collapse on Thursday, which sent shockwaves around the globe.

“This is the sort of situation that has been a worry for a long time, but the markets have changed in a way that has made things more difficult,” said Robert L. D. Colby, former deputy director of trading and markets at the S.E.C. “They’ve become more fragmented, so it’s harder for any one exchange to see the full picture and take action.”

On Friday, President Obama sought to provide reassurance that regulators were working to find the root of the problem.

“The regulatory authorities are evaluating this closely with a concern for protecting investors and preventing this from happening again,” the president said.

The absence of a unified system to halt trading in individual stocks led to bitter accusations between exchanges on Friday. Robert Greifeld, chief executive of Nasdaq OMX, appeared on CNBC to criticize the New York Stock Exchange for halting trading for up to 90 seconds in half a dozen stocks on Thursday.

“Stopping for 90 seconds in time of crisis is exactly equivalent to not picking up the phone,” Mr. Greifeld said.

A few minutes later, Duncan L. Niederauer, chief executive of NYSE Euronext, responded in an interview on CNBC, blaming Nasdaq’s computers for continuing trading while the market was in free fall.

“These computers go out and just find the next bid they can find,” he said.

Mr. Niederauer acknowledged the need to introduce circuit-breakers along the lines of those already in place on the Big Board, and his views were echoed by some chief executives of the new exchanges.
23547  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Nutrition, Diet Thread on: May 07, 2010, 04:53:15 PM
We now interrupt this thread for some irrelevant and irreverant humor:

WC Fields: "Water? NEVER!  Fish fcuk in it!"

Carry on!
23548  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Survivalism; Armageddon; Zombies on: May 07, 2010, 04:50:42 PM
Sometimes it's a good mental exercise to play "What if?".  Here in Los Angeles, what with earthquakes, brush fires, a vulnerable water supply, a plethora of juicy jihadi targets (e.g. our harbor is the largest on the west coast of the western hemisphere) and a proven proclivity to social disorder (remember the Rodney King riots with 300 fires burning out of control at once and major areas of the city abandoned by the police?), the mental exercise seems a tad more relevant , , ,

23549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Blood drive suspended on: May 07, 2010, 11:12:05 AM
Village Academic Curriculum: SJSU Suspends Blood Drives
In February 2008, then-president of San Jose State University Don Kassing suspended all blood drives on campus. In response to a complaint from an employee, Kassing concluded that the blood drives violated the university's non-discrimination policy because the FDA does not accept blood from men who have had sex with other men. The University's new president, Jon Whitmore, recently decided to continue Kassing's ban on blood drives. Apparently believing that "inclusiveness" is more important than the collection of life-saving blood, Whitmore's decision is a disturbing example of political correctness run amok.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the risk of accepting blood from men who have engaged in homosexual sex is substantial. Even if HIV positive men don't donate blood, the risk of HIV transmission from potential donors with a history of homosexual sex is 200 times higher than for first-time blood donors, and is 2,000 times higher than for repeat blood donors. Moreover, HIV can be hard to detect in the early stages of infection, even with modern testing techniques. Because there are more than 20 million transfusions of blood or blood products every year, an error rate as minuscule as one in one million can devastate many innocent lives.

Whitmore's policy has real, and devastating, consequences. According to the Red Cross, every blood donation can help to save up to three lives. Blocking blood drives at SJSU leaves the local blood bank to struggle with critical shortages. None of this seems to matter to the caring, compassionate Whitmore and other radical inclusivists. Rather than put the well being of millions of innocent patients first, they would rather kowtow to radical homosexual activists who eschew any responsibility for their own behavior.
23550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post: Big Brother to monitor your bank account? on: May 07, 2010, 11:06:32 AM
Hope 'n' Change: Big Brother to Monitor Your Bank Account?
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who didn't see fit to pay his own income taxes, may soon have the authority to watch over your financial transactions, thanks to a new federal agency that would be created in the Democrats' financial overhaul bill. The Office of Financial Research, straight out of a George Orwell novel, would serve as a central repository of transaction records generated at private financial companies. Geithner, along with an unspecified number of bureaucrats that he hires, will have unlimited access for "statistical analysis and research" of the nation's financial institutions -- supposedly for the purpose of spotting systemic problems that will allow them to act before another meltdown.

This agency is the latest in the series of unconstitutional power grabs that Democrats have grown accustomed to since Barack Obama became president. It violates American citizens' Fourth Amendment guarantee of security in their "persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" and its imprecise language leaves plenty of room for expanding the agency's activities without congressional approval. The type of information access that Democrats seek would not have enabled them to prevent the financial meltdown of 2008, but it would allow bureaucrats who work for this agency the opportunity to share their privileged information with the private sector one year after leaving the agency. So, ironically, the Office of Financial Research simply presents our bloated government even more opportunity for further corruption and mismanagement of the economy.
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