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23551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Awlaki Kill on: October 01, 2011, 10:07:18 AM
Based in great part upon Charles Krauthammer's analysis:

The Constitution provides for defending the country from insurrection, which by definition includes warring by citizens.   George Washington himself put down Shay's Revolt.  Lincoln put down the South-- with truly massive kills of uniformed soldiers, none of whom were arrested, read their rights, and given a trial.   (I might add that spies were promptly shot and/or hung)  Here we have American citizens waging war on the United States as part of a transnational religious fascist movement.  The US Congress has recognized the existence of this war/conflict and Awlaki was an egregious and highly active actor in the waging of this war.  This included participation in the recruitment and planning of the Crispy Weiner bomber attack on American soil.  Frankly, this seems like a slam dunk to me.  Two ears, one bullet , , , or a missile up the ass.

Works for me.
23552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 01, 2011, 09:55:10 AM
Lets take this to the Legal Issues of the War on Islamic Fascism thread
23553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Perry, Paul on: October 01, 2011, 02:45:05 AM
Perry had a decent interview tonight on the Bret Baier Report.  He pointed out he had stopped illegals getting drivers licenses, required voter ID, and put Texas Ranger boots on the ground to defend the border-- and that the State had overhwhelmingly voted to let illegals pay in-state tuition-- a decision he defended on the basis of the Tenth Amendment, and added that other states were free to do as they saw fit.

OTOH Paul has returned to his usual orbit with his condemnation of the Alwaki kill as illegal.  I suspect this will cool the flirt that has been going on between him and a goodly number of people.
23554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: A trip down memory lane on: October 01, 2011, 02:41:34 AM


By MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS
Outside Jalalabad, Afghanistan, 25 years ago this week, an angry young man named Abdul Wahab Quanat recited his prayers, walked onto a farm field near a Soviet airfield, raised a Stinger missile launcher to his shoulder and shot his way into history.

It was the first time since the Soviet invasion seven years earlier that a mujahedeen fighter had destroyed the most feared weapon in the Soviet arsenal, a Hind attack helicopter. The event panicked the Soviet ranks, changed the course of the war and helped to break up the USSR itself.

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A mujahedeen fighter fighter aims a Stinger missile at a passing airplane in 1988.
.Today, Mr. Wahab is general manager of the Afghan central-bank branch near the Khyber Pass, a middle-age man who carries tinted bifocals in his vest pocket and chooses Diet Pepsi over regular. Mr. Wahab and the two other Stinger gunners at the airfield that day—Zalmai and Abdul Ghaffar—have now joined the post-jihad establishment. Mr. Zalmai is sub-governor of Shinwar District, and Mr. Ghaffar is a member of parliament.

They nurse a gauzy nostalgia for the joys of being young jihadists. "Those were good, exciting times," Mr. Wahab says. "Now I'm a banker. It's boring."

The Soviet invasion touched off three decades of violent swings in Afghanistan, from socialism to warlordism to Islamic fundamentalism to today's flawed democracy. Amid this tortured history, the U.S. makes occasional appearances—including its mid-1980s decision to supply the mujahedeen with Stingers—the consequences of which often weren't apparent until much later.

At the time, the Soviets and their Afghan allies were on the offensive, thanks to the Hinds. Heavily armored, the helicopters were indifferent to ground fire as they strafed and rocketed mujahedeen and civilians alike. In 1986, the Reagan administration and its congressional allies put aside qualms about dispatching missile launchers. The move likely contributed to the Soviet withdrawal. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, faced with an imploding domestic economy, was already seeking an exit from a costly war.

There's no straight line from the U.S. move to arm the mujahedeen to 9/11 and the 2001 American invasion, but the decision has echoed through the subsequent decades of turmoil. After Kabul's fall, and with American attention elsewhere, the mujahedeen fell on each other. Messrs. Ghaffar and Zalmai squabbled over money and weapons.

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AAbdul Wahab Quanat shows how he fired the first Stinger missile at a Soviet Hind helicopter 25 years ago.
."I disarmed his men, and he disarmed my men," says Mr. Zalmai. (They have since reconciled, and Mr. Ghaffar's daughter married Mr. Zalmai's nephew.)

The Taliban emerged on top, and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency spent years trying to recover 600 unused Stingers, including 53 that found their way to Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader who hosted Osama bin Laden during the 9/11 attacks, according to the book "Ghost Wars" by Steve Coll.

Key figures from that era, including those who received U.S. support, have ended up on the other side. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the ruthless head of the fundamentalist Hezb-e-Islami mujahedeen, provided the Stinger gunmen. Among Mr. Hekmatyar's other backers was bin Laden, who paid Arab militants to fight in the Afghan jihad and in doing so earned the trust of the Taliban.

As Mr. Wahab remembers, the Pakistani officials who were acting as a conduit between the U.S. and the Afghan fighters packed him and nine other Hekmatyar fighters into the back of a truck, covered it in a tarp so they wouldn't see where they were going, and took them to a training camp in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

For a month, they practiced with dummy Stingers aimed at a hanging light. Pakistani officers then handed over real missiles to the eight successful graduates. One team headed to Kabul to shoot down troop-transport planes. The other, headed by Mr. Ghaffar, an engineer by training, was dispatched to go after the Hind helicopters.

As they parted, one Pakistani instructor tearfully called Mr. Wahab a "holy warrior" and reminded him to hit the switch that arms the missile's heat-seeking device. After a two-day walk, the fighters spent the night of Sept. 25 in an abandoned village on the outskirts of Jalalabad. The next afternoon, Mr. Ghaffar and his men knelt down for prayers and then made their way into a farm field, where they spotted about 10 helicopters returning to the airfield.

The best student at Stinger camp, Mr. Wahab took the first shot. The missile made a whirring noise that changed tone as it locked onto a Hind. Mr. Wahab recited a prayer. "In the name of Allah, the supreme and almighty, God is great." He recalls the Hind's tail rotor breaking off, while the front section burst into flames and plummeted to earth, cockpit first.

"I'll never forget that moment," he says now. "Those helicopters had killed so many people, left so many orphans."

Messrs. Ghaffar and Zalmai fired next. Mr. Wahab says neither missile hit a Hind; Mr. Ghaffar's, he says, hit the ground, while Mr. Zalmai forgot the heat-seeker-arming switch.

Mr. Ghaffar remembers one missile hitting a helicopter, but says it could have been either one. Mr. Zalmai says he can't recall for certain but admits he's not a great marksman. (The CIA reported that three helicopters had gone down.)

What is certain is that Mr. Ghaffar then shouldered a spare Stinger and this time sent a Hind crashing to earth. Mr. Wahab recalls mujahedeen cheering when the helicopters went down. Terrified that the Soviets would send tanks after them, the three scampered back to Pakistan.

Mr. Ghaffar dined out on his success for months, meeting with the CIA and having tea in Peshawar with Rep. Charlie Wilson, the late Texas Democrat and relentless champion of the mujahedeen.

The Ghaffar team had proved the Stingers so effective that the CIA sent some 2,300 more. Soon the mujahedeen were shooting down helicopters, transport planes and jets in large numbers. "If we hadn't used them correctly, they probably wouldn't have provided any more Stingers for the Afghan jihad," says Mr. Ghaffar. One Soviet squadron lost 13 of 40 planes in the year that followed, 10 to Stingers. The final Soviet troops retreated from Afghanistan in 1989, and the mujahedeen took Kabul in 1992.

"We wrote history—I miss those days," says Mr. Ghaffar, now 54. A member of parliament, he denies accusations by some locals that he has become a land-grabbing power broker.

Mr. Zalmai, who estimates his age at 50, barely had a beard when he took to the mountains in 1980. He smiles when he remembers blowing the tracks off of Soviet tanks. "I was good at it," he says. He admits that his memories are filtered through the haze of age and two brain-jarring attempts on his life during the current insurgency.

As a local administrator, Mr. Zalmai spends a good deal of time these days complaining that the Americans failed to consult him about plans to raze one government office to build another.

"When you're young, you're emotional about everything," Mr. Zalmai says of his days as a jihadist. "When you're old, everything can be solved by talking."

After the Taliban takeover, Mr. Wahab fled to Pakistan, where he ran a fabric shop. After the Taliban fell, he returned to Afghanistan and landed the central-bank job. Now 49, he supervises commercial banks adjacent to the Khyber Pass, through which mujahedeen weapons and fighters once flowed.

"When I was a mujahedeen on a mountaintop, I'd see the lights of Jalalabad and wish I were there," Mr. Wahab says. "Now when I'm in Jalalabad, I miss being in a stone hideout in the mountains with the mujahedeen."

Mr. Wahab has little patience for today's insurgents. "We had an enemy—the Russians," he says. "These suicide bombers today attack Americans and Muslims. What's the point?"

23555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: The latest crime wave on: October 01, 2011, 02:30:48 AM
By MICHEAL FLAHERTY In case you needed further proof of the American education system's failings, especially in poor and minority communities, consider the latest crime to spread across the country: educational theft. That's the charge that has landed several parents, such as Ohio's Kelley Williams-Bolar, in jail this year.

An African-American mother of two, Ms. Williams-Bolar last year used her father's address to enroll her two daughters in a better public school outside of their neighborhood. After spending nine days behind bars charged with grand theft, the single mother was convicted of two felony counts. Not only did this stain her spotless record, but it threatened her ability to earn the teacher's license she had been working on.

 
In January, Ohioan Kelley Williams-Bolar was sentenced to 10 days in jail, three years of probation, and 80 hours of community service for having her children attend schools outside her district. Gov. John Kasich reduced her sentence last month.

Ms. Williams-Bolar caught a break last month when Ohio Gov. John Kasich granted her clemency, reducing her charges to misdemeanors from felonies. His decision allows her to pursue her teacher's license, and it may provide hope to parents beyond the Buckeye State. In the last year, parents in Connecticut, Kentucky and Missouri have all been arrested—and await sentencing—for enrolling their children in better public schools outside of their districts.

These arrests represent two major forms of exasperation. First is that of parents whose children are zoned into failing public schools—they can't afford private schooling, they can't access school vouchers, and they haven't won or haven't even been able to enter a lottery for a better charter school. Then there's the exasperation of school officials finding it more and more difficult to deal with these boundary-hopping parents.

From California to Massachusetts, districts are hiring special investigators to follow children from school to their homes to determine their true residences and decide if they "belong" at high-achieving public schools. School districts in Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey all boasted recently about new address-verification programs designed to pull up their drawbridges and keep "illegal students" from entering their gates.

Other school districts use services like VerifyResidence.com, which provides "the latest in covert video technology and digital photographic equipment to photograph, videotape, and document" children going from their house to school. School districts can enroll in the company's rewards program, which awards anonymous tipsters $250 checks for reporting out-of-district students.

Only in a world where irony is dead could people not marvel at concerned parents being prosecuted for stealing a free public education for their children.

In August, an internal PowerPoint presentation from the American Federation of Teachers surfaced online. The document described how the AFT undermined minority parent groups' efforts in Connecticut to pass the "parent trigger" legislation that offers parents real governing authority to transform failing schools. A key to the AFT's success in killing the effort, said the document, was keeping parent groups from "the table." AFT President Randi Weingarten quickly distanced her organization from the document, but it was small consolation to the parents once again left in the cold.

Kevin Chavous, the board chairman for both the Black Alliance for Educational Options and Democrats for Education Reform, senses that these recent events herald a new age for fed-up parents. Like Martin Luther King Jr. before them, they understand "the fierce urgency of now" involving their children's education. Hence some parents' decisions to break the law—or practice civil disobedience.

This life-changing decision is portrayed in Betty Smith's 1943 novel, "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn," also adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. In the novel, Francie Nolan is the bright young daughter of Irish immigrants living in Brooklyn's Williamsburg immigrant ghetto in the early 20th century. An avid reader, Francie is crushed when she attends her local public school and discovers that opportunity is nonexistent for girls of her ilk.

So Francie and her father Johnny claim the address of a house next to a good public school. Francie enrolls at the school and her life is transformed. A teacher nurtures her love for writing, and she goes on to thrive at the school. Francie eventually becomes an accomplished writer who tells the story of her transformation through education.

The defining difference between the two schools, writes the novel's narrator, is parents: At the good school, "The parents were too American, too aware of the rights granted them by their Constitution to accept injustices meekly. They could not be bulldozed and exploited as could the immigrants and the second-generation Americans."

Were Francie around today, she'd be sad but not surprised to see how little things have changed. Students are still poisoned by low expectations, their parents are still getting bulldozed. But Francie wouldn't yield to despair. She would remind this new generation of courageous parents of the Tree of Heaven, from which her story gets its title—"the one tree in Francie's yard that was neither a pine nor a hemlock. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement." The tree, the narrator adds, "liked poor people."

The defenders of the status quo in our nation's public schools could learn a lot from that tree.

Mr. Flaherty is president and cofounder of Walden Media, which coproduced the 2010 documentary "Waiting for 'Superman.'"

23556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / It was only ten years ago today, that Al Alwaki was the voice of moderate Islam on: October 01, 2011, 02:10:00 AM
Bret Baier Report tonight reported that after 911 Pravda on the Hudson, Pravda on the Potomac, NPR and other usual suspects interviewed and lauded Al Alwaki as a voice of moderate Islam.  Only POTP had the class to mention this in today's reports on his most excellent kill.
23557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SCAF stalling on elections? on: October 01, 2011, 02:07:31 AM
Middle East analyst Bayless Parsley examines the decision to hold Egypt’s first elections since the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Egypt’s ruling military council finally announced a list of dates on Tuesday for the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. The announcement came as a slight relief to the large number of Egyptians who have been expressing growing concerns that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was on the verge of delaying the elections yet again. But popular sentiment against military rule in Egypt is still on the rise. Though we are now one step closer to the first elections of the post-Mubarak era, it does not change one fundamental fact: the Egyptian regime is doing what it can to hold onto power, despite publicly championing a looming transition to democratic rule.
Tuesday’s constitutional declaration put to bed growing fears amongst a wide swathe of the Egyptian opposition that the ruling military council was on the verge of delaying yet again setting exact dates for when the elections will be held. The same group of generals that came into power in Feb. with promises to relinquish control to a civilian government within six months are still running the show, and even the Muslim Brotherhood – which for a long time had avoided publicly criticizing the military – has begun to display that it, too, is tiring of SCAF rule. STRATFOR has long said that the military council does in fact want to hold elections, but that it would take its time to ensure that it doesn’t lose control of the process.
The parliamentary polls will be divided into elections for the lower house and the upper house, which is known as the Shura Council. There will be six stages in total, three for each, and the whole process will run from Nov. 28 until March 11, 2012. And though the format of the elections has not yet been finalized, it is looking like the military is going to mandate that roughly 70 percent of the seats be reserved for a list-based system, which is akin to voting for a party ticket, and the rest be reserved for an individual candidate system. Everyone in the Egyptian opposition – from the Muslim Brotherhood to other Islamists to the secular parties – is opposed to anything but a purely list-based system because they feel that allowing individual candidates to run will simply give an advantage to the wealthy former members of the Mubarak National Democratic Party (NDP) regime. But this may be exactly what the military council wants to ensure.
By now, most Egyptians who took joy in the ouster of Hosni Mubarak have woken up to the fact that there really was not such a fundamental change in the country as may have appeared during the height of the Arab Spring. Accusations from Islamists and secularists alike that the military is trying to “hijack the revolution” have become commonplace, while state security has arguably become more intrusive in the Egyptian society, rather than less so. The ongoing criminal trials for Mubarak, his sons, and other high-ranking former NDP officials, meanwhile, are largely going nowhere, and it is the military council that ensures this, as well.
The issue of setting dates for the elections– and the antipathy that it generated towards military rule- was something that brought a bit of unity to a highly fractured opposition. Providing a degree of certitude that the vote will soon take place was a way for the military to ensure that such unity does not grow too strong. This is the game the SCAF feels it must play to maintain the balance in a country over which it wants to maintain control.
23558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / JDN to WSJ: This guy must be wrong-- he does not have a degree on: October 01, 2011, 01:59:52 AM
By STEPHEN MOORE
Harold Hamm, the Oklahoma-based founder and CEO of Continental Resources, the 14th-largest oil company in America, is a man who thinks big. He came to Washington last month to spread a needed message of economic optimism: With the right set of national energy policies, the United States could be "completely energy independent by the end of the decade. We can be the Saudi Arabia of oil and natural gas in the 21st century."

"President Obama is riding the wrong horse on energy," he adds. We can't come anywhere near the scale of energy production to achieve energy independence by pouring tax dollars into "green energy" sources like wind and solar, he argues. It has to come from oil and gas.

You'd expect an oilman to make the "drill, baby, drill" pitch. But since 2005 America truly has been in the midst of a revolution in oil and natural gas, which is the nation's fastest-growing manufacturing sector. No one is more responsible for that resurgence than Mr. Hamm. He was the original discoverer of the gigantic and prolific Bakken oil fields of Montana and North Dakota that have already helped move the U.S. into third place among world oil producers.

How much oil does Bakken have? The official estimate of the U.S. Geological Survey a few years ago was between four and five billion barrels. Mr. Hamm disagrees: "No way. We estimate that the entire field, fully developed, in Bakken is 24 billion barrels."

If he's right, that'll double America's proven oil reserves. "Bakken is almost twice as big as the oil reserve in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska," he continues. According to Department of Energy data, North Dakota is on pace to surpass California in oil production in the next few years. Mr. Hamm explains over lunch in Washington, D.C., that the more his company drills, the more oil it finds. Continental Resources has seen its "proved reserves" of oil and natural gas (mostly in North Dakota) skyrocket to 421 million barrels this summer from 118 million barrels in 2006.

"We expect our reserves and production to triple over the next five years." And for those who think this oil find is only making Mr. Hamm rich, he notes that today in America "there are 10 million royalty owners across the country" who receive payments for the oil drilled on their land. "The wealth is being widely shared."

One reason for the renaissance has been OPEC's erosion of market power. "For nearly 50 years in this country nobody looked for oil here and drilling was in steady decline. Every time the domestic industry picked itself up, the Saudis would open the taps and drown us with cheap oil," he recalls. "They had unlimited production capacity, and company after company would go bust."

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 .Today OPEC's market share is falling and no longer dictates the world price. This is huge, Mr. Hamm says. "Finally we have an opportunity to go out and explore for oil and drill without fear of price collapse." When OPEC was at its peak in the 1990s, the U.S. imported about two-thirds of its oil. Now we import less than half of it, and about 40% of what we do import comes from Mexico and Canada. That's why Mr. Hamm thinks North America can achieve oil independence.

The other reason for America's abundant supply of oil and natural gas has been the development of new drilling techniques. "Horizontal drilling" allows rigs to reach two miles into the ground and then spread horizontally by thousands of feet. Mr. Hamm was one of the pioneers of this method in the 1990s, and it has done for the oil industry what hydraulic fracturing has done for natural gas drilling in places like the Marcellus Shale in the Northeast. Both innovations have unlocked decades worth of new sources of domestic fossil fuels that previously couldn't be extracted at affordable cost.


Mr. Hamm's rags to riches success is the quintessential "only in America" story. He was the last of 13 kids, growing up in rural Oklahoma "the son of sharecroppers who never owned land." He didn't have money to go to college, so as a teenager he went to work in the oil fields and developed a passion. "I always wanted to find oil. It was always an irresistible calling."

He became a wildcat driller and his success rate became legendary in the industry. "People started to say I have ESP," he remarks. "I was fortunate, I guess. Next year it will be 45 years in the business."

Mr. Hamm ranks 33rd on the Forbes wealth list for America, but given the massive amount of oil that he owns, much still in the ground, and the dizzying growth of Continental's output and profits (up 34% last year alone), his wealth could rise above $20 billion and he could soon be rubbing elbows with the likes of Warren Buffett.

His only beef these days is with Washington. Mr. Hamm was invited to the White House for a "giving summit" with wealthy Americans who have pledged to donate at least half their wealth to charity. (He's given tens of millions of dollars already to schools like Oklahoma State and for diabetes research.) "Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, they were all there," he recalls.

When it was Mr. Hamm's turn to talk briefly with President Obama, "I told him of the revolution in the oil and gas industry and how we have the capacity to produce enough oil to enable America to replace OPEC. I wanted to make sure he knew about this."

The president's reaction? "He turned to me and said, 'Oil and gas will be important for the next few years. But we need to go on to green and alternative energy. [Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu has assured me that within five years, we can have a battery developed that will make a car with the equivalent of 130 miles per gallon.'" Mr. Hamm holds his head in his hands and says, "Even if you believed that, why would you want to stop oil and gas development? It was pretty disappointing."

Washington keeps "sticking a regulatory boot at our necks and then turns around and asks: 'Why aren't you creating more jobs,'" he says. He roils at the Interior Department delays of months and sometimes years to get permits for drilling. "These delays kill projects," he says. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission is now tightening the screws on the oil industry, requiring companies like Continental to report their production and federal royalties on thousands of individual leases under the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules. "I could go to jail because a local operator misreported the production in the field," he says.


The White House proposal to raise $40 billion of taxes on oil and gas—by excluding those industries from credits that go to all domestic manufacturers—is also a major hindrance to exploration and drilling. "That just stops the drilling," Mr. Hamm believes. "I've seen these things come about before, like [Jimmy] Carter's windfall profits tax." He says America's rig count on active wells went from 4,500 to less than 55 in a matter of months. "That was a dumb idea. Thank God, Reagan got rid of that."

A few months ago the Obama Justice Department brought charges against Continental and six other oil companies in North Dakota for causing the death of 28 migratory birds, in violation of the Migratory Bird Act. Continental's crime was killing one bird "the size of a sparrow" in its oil pits. The charges carry criminal penalties of up to six months in jail. "It's not even a rare bird. There're jillions of them," he explains. He says that "people in North Dakota are really outraged by these legal actions," which he views as "completely discriminatory" because the feds have rarely if ever prosecuted the Obama administration's beloved wind industry, which kills hundreds of thousands of birds each year.

Continental pleaded not guilty to the charges last week in federal court. For Mr. Hamm the whole incident is tantamount to harassment. "This shouldn't happen in America," he says. To him the case is further proof that Washington "is out to get us."

Mr. Hamm believes that if Mr. Obama truly wants more job creation, he should study North Dakota, the state with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 3.5%. He swears that number is overstated: "We can't find any unemployed people up there. The state has 18,000 unfilled jobs," Mr. Hamm insists. "And these are jobs that pay $60,000 to $80,000 a year." The economy is expanding so fast that North Dakota has a housing shortage. Thanks to the oil boom—Continental pays more than $50 million in state taxes a year—the state has a budget surplus and is considering ending income and property taxes.

It's hard to disagree with Mr. Hamm's assessment that Barack Obama has the energy story in America wrong. The government floods green energy—a niche market that supplies 2.5% of our energy needs—with billions of dollars of subsidies a year. "Wind isn't commercially feasible with natural gas prices below $6" per thousand cubic feet, notes Mr. Hamm. Right now its price is below $4. This may explain the administration's hostility to the fossil-fuel renaissance.

Mr. Hamm calculates that if Washington would allow more drilling permits for oil and natural gas on federal lands and federal waters, "I truly believe the federal government could over time raise $18 trillion in royalties." That's more than the U.S. national debt, I say. He smiles.

This estimate sounds implausibly high, but Mr. Hamm has a lifelong habit of proving skeptics wrong. And even if he's wrong by half, it's a stunning number to think about. So this America-first energy story isn't just about jobs and economic revival. It's also about repairing America's battered balance sheet. Someone should get this man in front of the congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee.

Mr. Moore is a member of the Journal's editorial board.

23559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pithy quote. on: October 01, 2011, 01:56:02 AM


"Fathom the hypocrisy of a government that requires every citizen prove they are insured ......... but not prove they are a citizen."
23560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Where are the Bond Vigilantes? IMPORTANT READ on: October 01, 2011, 01:41:15 AM
IMHO this article has genuine insight and explains something important which has been a mystery to me:

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

By RONALD MCKINNON
In past decades, tense political disputes over actual or projected fiscal deficits induced sharp increases in interest rates—particularly on long-term bonds. The threat of economic disruption by the so-called bond market vigilantes demanding higher interest rates served to focus both Democratic and Republican protagonists so they could more easily agree on some deficit-closing measures.

For example, in 1993 when the Clinton administration introduced new legislation to greatly expand health care without properly funding it ("HillaryCare"), long-term interest rates began to rise. The 10-year rate on U.S. Treasury bonds touched 8% in 1994. The consequent threat of a credit crunch in the business sector, and higher mortgage rates for prospective home buyers, generated enough political opposition so that the Clinton administration stopped trying to get HillaryCare through the Congress.

In the mid-1990s, Democrats and Republican cooperated to cap another open-ended federal welfare program—Aid to Families with Dependent Children—by giving block grants to the states and letting the states administer the program. Interest rates came down, and the Clinton boom was underway.

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 .In contrast, after the passage of ObamaCare in March 2010, long-term bond rates remained virtually unchanged at around 3%. This was despite great doubt about the law's revenue-raising provisions, and the financial press bemoaning open-ended Medicare deficits and the mandated huge expansion in the number of unfunded Medicaid recipients. Even with great financial disorder in the stock and commodity markets since late July 2011, today's 10-year Treasury bond rate has plunged below 2%. The bond market vigilantes have disappeared.

Without the vigilantes in 2011, the federal government faces no immediate market discipline for balancing its runaway fiscal deficits. Indeed, after President Obama finally received congressional approval to raise the debt ceiling on Aug. 2, followed by Standard & Poor's downgrade of Treasury bonds from AAA to AA+ on Aug. 5, the interest rate on 10-year Treasurys declined even further.

Since Alexander Hamilton established the market for U.S. Treasury bonds in 1790, they have been the fulcrum for the bond market as a whole. Risk premia on other classes of bonds are all measured as so many basis points above Treasurys at all terms to maturity. If their yields are artificially depressed, so too are those on private bonds. The more interest rates are compressed toward zero, the less useful the market becomes in reflecting risk and allocating private capital, as well as in disciplining the government.

To know how to restore market discipline, first consider what caused the vigilantes to disappear. Two conditions are necessary for the vigilantes to thrive:

(1) Treasury bonds should be mainly held within the private sector by individuals or financial institutions that are yield-sensitive—i.e., they worry about possible future inflation and a possible credit crunch should the government's fiscal deficits get too large. Because private investors can choose other assets, both physical and financial, they will switch out of Treasurys if U.S. public finances deteriorate and the probability of future inflation increases.

(2) Private holders of Treasurys must also be persuaded that any fall in short-term interest rates is temporary—i.e., that the Fed has not committed itself to keeping short-term interest rates near zero indefinitely. Long rates today are the mean of expected short rates into the future plus a liquidity premium.

The outstanding stock of U.S. Treasury bonds held outside American intergovernment agencies (such as the Social Security Administration but excluding the Federal Reserve) is about $10 trillion. The proportion of outstanding Treasury debt held by foreigners—mainly central banks—has been increasing and now seems well over 50% of that amount. Since 2001, emerging markets alone have accumulated more than $5 trillion in official exchange reserves. And in the last two years the Fed itself, under QE1 and QE2, has been a major buyer of longer-term Treasury bonds to the tune of about $1.6 trillion—and that's before the recently announced "Operation Twist," whereby the Fed will finance the purchase of still more longer-term bonds by selling shorter-term bonds. So the vigilantes have been crowded out by central banks the world over.

Central banks generally are not yield-sensitive. Instead, under the world dollar standard, central banks in emerging markets are very sensitive to movements in their dollar exchange rates. The Fed's near-zero short-term interest rates since late 2008 have induced massive inflows of hot money into emerging markets through July 2011. This induced central banks in emerging markets to intervene heavily to buy dollars to prevent their currencies from appreciating versus the dollar. They unwillingly accept the very low yield on Treasurys as a necessary consequence of these interventions.


True, in the last two months, this "bubble" of hot money into emerging markets and into primary commodities has suddenly burst with falls in their exchange rates and metal prices. But this bubble-like behavior can be traced to the Fed's zero interest rates.

Beyond just undermining political discipline and creating bubbles, what further economic damage does the Fed's policy of ultra-low interest rates portend for the American economy?

First, the counter-cyclical effect of reducing interest rates in recessions is dampened. When interest rates dipped in the past, at least part of their immediate expansionary impact came from the belief that interest rates would bounce back to normal levels in the future. Firms would rush to avail themselves of cheap credit before it disappeared. However, if interest rates are expected to stay low indefinitely, this short-term expansionary effect is weakened.

Second, financial intermediation within the banking system is disrupted. Since early 2008, bank credit to firms and households has declined despite the Fed's huge expansion of the monetary base—almost all going into excess bank reserves. The causes are complex, but an important part of this credit constraint is that banks with surplus reserves are unwilling to put them out in the interbank market for a derisory low yield. This bank credit constraint, particularly on small- and medium-size firms, is a prime cause of the continued stagnation in U.S. output and employment.

Third, a prolonged period of very low interest rates will decapitalize defined-benefit pension funds—both private and public—throughout the country. In California, for example, pension actuaries presume a yield on their asset portfolios of about 7.5% just to break even in meeting their annuity obligations, even if they were fully funded.

Perhaps Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke should think more about how the Fed's near-zero interest rate policy has undermined fiscal discipline while corrupting the operation of the nation's financial markets.

Mr. McKinnon is a professor at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institution for Economic Policy Research.

23561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Student Loan takeover by Feds running into trouble on: October 01, 2011, 01:38:37 AM
When critics warned about rising defaults on government-backed student loans two years ago, the question was how quickly taxpayers would feel the pain. The U.S. Department of Education provided part of the answer this month when it reported that the default rate for fiscal 2009 surged to 8.8%, up from 7% in 2008.

This rising default rate doesn't even tell the whole story. The government allows various "income contingent" and "income-based" repayment options, so the statistics don't count kids who were given permission to pay less than they owed. Taxpayers shouldn't expect relief any time soon. Thanks to policy changes in recent years and fraudulent government accounting, the pain could be excruciating.

Readers who followed the Congressional birth of ObamaCare in 2010 may recall that student lending was the other industry takeover that came along for the legislative ride. Private lenders used to originate federally guaranteed loans, but the new law required all such loans to come directly from the feds. Combined with earlier changes that discouraged private loans sold without a federal guarantee, the result is a market dominated by Washington.

The 2010 changes did not happen simply because President Obama and legislators like Rep. George Miller and Sen. Tom Harkin distrust profit-making enterprises. The student-loan takeover also advanced the mirage that ObamaCare would save money.

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CloseAssociated Press
 .Thanks to only-in-Washington accounting, making the Department of Education the principal banker to America's college students created a "savings" of $68 billion over 11 years, certified by the Congressional Budget Office. Even CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf admitted that this estimate was bogus because CBO was forced to use federal rules that ignored the true cost of defaults. But Mr. Miller had earlier laid the groundwork for this fraud by killing amendments in the House that would have required honest accounting and an audit.

Armed in 2010 with their CBO-certified "savings," Democrats decided they could finance a portion of ObamaCare, as well as an expansion of Pell grants. But as Bernie Madoff could have told them, frauds break down when enough people show up asking for their money. That's happening already, judging by recent action in the Senate Appropriations Committee, where lawmakers apparently realize that the federal takeover isn't going to deliver the promised riches.

To preserve Team Obama's priority of maintaining a maximum Pell grant of $5,550 per year and doubling the total annual funding to $36 billion since President Obama took office, Democrats recently decided to make student-loan borrowers pay interest on their loans for their first six months out of college. Washington used to give the youngsters an interest-free grace period. Taxpayers might cheer this change if the money wasn't simply being transferred to another form of education subsidy. But it seems almost certain to raise default rates as it puts recent grads under increased financial pressure.

None of these programs has anything to do with making it easier to afford college. Universities have been efficient in pocketing the subsidies by increasing tuition after every expansion of federal support. That's why education is a rare industry where prices have risen even faster than health-care costs.

This is also the rare market where the recent trend of de-leveraging doesn't apply. An August report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that Americans cut their household debt from a peak of $12.5 trillion in the third quarter of 2008 to a recent $11.4 trillion. Consumers have reduced their debt on houses, cars, credit cards and nearly everything except student loans, where debt has increased 25% in the three years.

Perhaps this is because most federal student loans are made without regard to income, assets or credit history. Much like the federal obsession to finance a home for every American regardless of ability to pay, the obsession to finance higher education for every high school student ignores inconvenient facts. These include the certainty that some of these kids will take jobs that don't require college degrees and may not support timely repayment.

For this school year, even the loans that pay on time aren't necessarily winners for the taxpayer. That's because of a 2007 law that Mr. Miller and Nancy Pelosi pushed through Congress—and George W. Bush signed—that cut interest rates on many federally backed student loans. Stafford loans, the most common type, have been available since July at a fixed rate of 3.4%, barely above the historically low rates at which the Treasury is currently borrowing for the long term. The student loan rates are scheduled to rise back to 6.8% next year. But if our spendthrift government ends up borrowing money above 7% and lending it to kids at 6.8%, taxpayers will suffer even before the youngsters go delinquent.

Efforts to clean up this debacle are stirring on Capitol Hill, with House Republicans moving to limit Pell grants to students who have a high school diploma or GED. Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn would go further and have government leave the business of subsidizing the education industry via student loans and let private lenders finance college. That may be too radical at the moment, but it won't be if taxpayers ever figure out how much subsidized loans will cost them.

23562  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / #2! on: October 01, 2011, 01:35:23 AM
Woof All:

We are pleased to announce the second school in the DBMA School Program with Dog Rick in Texas.  Details of the first seminar will be announced soon.

Guro Crafty
23563  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Cauliflower Ears in BJJ on: October 01, 2011, 01:33:41 AM
www.grapplearts.com/Cauliflower-Ears-In-Brazilian-jiu-jitsu.html
 
23564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan: Storyteller in Chief on: September 30, 2011, 09:16:37 PM


At a symposium in Colorado at which thoughtful people from many professions spoke, and later in conversation with people who care about books in California, two things we all know to be true became more vivid to me.

The first is that nobody is optimistic about the world economy. No one sees the Western nations righting themselves any time soon, no one sees lower unemployment coming down the pike, or fewer foreclosures. No one was burly: "Everything will be fine, snap out of it!" Everyone admitted tough times lie ahead.

The second is that everyone hungers for leadership. Really, everyone. And really, it is a hunger. They want so much to be able to respect and feel trust in their political leaders. Everyone hungers for someone strong, honest and capable—as big as the moment. But the presidential contest, the default topic when Americans gather, tended to become somewhat secondary. Underlying everything was a widespread sense among Democrats and Republicans, lefties and righties, that President Obama isn't big enough, and that we don't have to argue about this anymore. There was also a broad sense that there is no particular reason to believe any one of the Republicans is big enough, either.

Actually, I saw a third thing. There is, I think, a kind of new patriotism among our professional classes. They talk about America now and their eyes fill up. With business people and doctors and scientists, there used to be a kind of detachment, an ironic distance they held between themselves and Washington, themselves and national problems. "The future of our country" was the kind of earnest topic they wouldn't or couldn't survey without a wry smile. But now I believe I see a deep yearning to help, to do the right thing, to be part of a rebuilding, and it is a yearning based in true and absolute anxiety that we may lose this wonderful thing we were born into, this America, this brilliant golden gift.

At the end of Tennessee Williams's "The Glass Menagerie," Tom, the narrator, tells us he never stopped thinking of his sister and his mother and their sadness, for "I was more faithful than I intended to be." That, I think, is the mood taking hold among members of what used to be called the American leadership class—slightly taken aback by their love for America, by their protectiveness toward her.

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The president reads 'Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters' by Barack Obama.
.The untapped patriotism out there—if it were electricity, it would remake the grid and light up the world. And it's among all professions, classes and groups, from the boardroom to the Tea Party meeting to the pediatric ICU.

We think patriotism reached its height after 9/11, but I think it is reaching some new height now, and we're only beginning to notice.

***
And here we turn to politics. Are those running for president aware of the fix we're in? I'm not sure they are. For one thing, if they knew, they wouldn't look so dementedly chipper. And they wouldn't all be talking about The Narrative. Which is all I heard once I came back East.

The Narrative has nothing to do with what is actually happening in the country. That would make too much sense. The Narrative is the story of a candidate or a candidacy, or the story of a presidency. Everyone in politics is supposed to have one. They're supposedly powerful. Voters believe them.

Everyone in politics should stop this. For one thing, a narrative is not something that can be imposed, it is something that bubbles up. It's something people perceive on their own and then talk about, and if it's true, the talk spreads.

Here I return to Ron Suskind's book, "Confidence Men." As noted last week, Mr. Suskind has been criticized for getting quotes and facts wrong. But the White House hasn't disputed his interview with Mr. Obama, who had some remarkable things to say.

It turns out he too is obsessed with The Narrative. Mr. Suskind asked him why his team had difficulty creating a policy to deal with unemployment. Mr. Obama said some of it was due to circumstances, some to the complexity of the problem. Then he added: "We didn't have a clean story that we wanted to tell against which we would measure various actions." Huh? It wasn't "clean," he explained, because "what was required to save the economy might not always match up with what would make for a good story."

Throughout the interview the president seems preoccupied with "shaping a story for the American people." He says: "The irony is, the reason I was in this office is because I told a story to the American people." But, he confesses, "that narrative thread we just lost" in his first years.

Then he asks, "What's the particular requirement of the president that no one else can do?" He answers: "What the president can do, that nobody else can do, is tell a story to the American people" about where we are as a nation and should be.

Tell a story to the American people? That's your job? Not adopting good policies? Not defending the nation? Storytelling?

The interview reflects the weird inability of so many in political leadership now to acknowledge the role in life of . . . reality.

Overthinking the obvious and focusing on the artifice and myth of politics is a problem for all political professionals, including Republicans. Sarah Palin was out there this week trying to impose her own narrative: that she's all roguey and mavericky and she'd win if she ran, but she's not sure the presidency—"the title"—wouldn't dull her special magic. It was like Norma Desmond in "Sunset Boulevard." She's still big, it's the presidency that got small.

More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns

Click here to order her book, Patriotic Grace
.But this is mostly a problem for the Democratic Party at the national level, and has been since the 1980s. It reflects a disdain for the American people—they need their little stories—and it springs from an inability to understand the Reagan era. Democrats looked at him and the speeches and the crowds and balloons and thought: "I get it, politics is now all show biz." Because they couldn't take Reagan's views and philosophy seriously, they couldn't believe anyone else could, either. So they explained him through a story. The story was that Reagan's success was due not to decisions and their outcomes but to a narrative. The narrative was "Morning in America": Everything's good, everyone's happy.

Democrats vowed to create their own narratives, their own stories.

Here's the problem: There is no story. At the end of the day, there is only reality. Things work or they don't. When they work, people notice, and say it.

Would the next president like a story? Here's one. America was anxious, and feared it was losing the air of opportunity that had allowed it to be what it was—expansive, generous, future-trusting. It was losing faith in its establishments and institutions. And someone came out of that need who led—who was wise and courageous and began to turn the ship around. And we saved our country, and that way saved the world.

There's a narrative for you, the only one that matters. Go be a hero of that story. It will get around. It will bubble up.

23565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sounds good to me on: September 30, 2011, 12:04:17 PM


http://www.theblaze.com/stories/muslim-high-school-student-remains-true-to-islamic-modesty-code-even-on-the-soccer-field/
23566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Japan-Philippines & the South China Sea on: September 30, 2011, 11:47:10 AM

Summary
A military cooperation agreement between Japan and the Philippines indicates the countries are going beyond their traditional economic ties and elevating security-related matters. The move comes as Japan’s role in regional security appears to be expanding and as Tokyo, looking to rebuild its influence in Southeast Asia, may consider greater involvement in territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Analysis
During Philippine President Benigno Aquino III’s visit to Japan from Sept. 25 to Sept. 27, the Philippines and Japan signed a military cooperation agreement to expand joint naval exercises and regular talks between maritime defense officials. The agreement moves the countries’ relationship beyond their traditional economic ties and into the realm of security. Aquino had said prior to his visit that he would also seek backing from the Japanese government on territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Though it has avoided direct involvement in South China Sea disputes, Japan’s interest in the South China Sea is long-standing and pragmatic, linked to its immediate geographic concerns: securing access to trade routes and to resources the archipelago lacks. Earlier this year, tensions in the South China Sea heightened between China, the Philippines and Vietnam as Beijing increasingly asserted its territorial claims. Just as Japan sees China’s rapidly expanding influence as a challenge to Tokyo’s historically strong position in Southeast Asia, it also sees China’s dominance in the South China Sea as a threat to its critical sea-lane and to its own strategic sphere. As other countries with claims in the South China Sea seek partnerships to boost their positions, and as the United States renews its engagement in the region, Tokyo could use maritime disputes in the South China Sea to reassert itself in Southeast Asia.

Japan’s Interest in Southeast Asia
Japan has been active in the South China Sea since industrialization prompted the country to secure trade routes and seek resources. This ran parallel to Japan’s militarization and expansion in its periphery. Japan began mining in the Spratley Islands as early as 1918 and occupied the Spratleys and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea during World War II as part of its deployment in the Asia-Pacific.



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After the war, Japan’s policy was to become an economic leader in Southeast Asia, largely through aid and investment, and to build trust among the region’s nations with a limited military doctrine. From 1977 to 1992, Japan’s development aid to Southeast Asian countries increased from $1.42 billion to $50 billion. During this period, Japan retained considerable influence over Southeast Asia and remained greatly involved in regional affairs.

However, since the 1990s, Japan’s influence in the region has declined considerably because of domestic economic and political constraints and increasing challenges from regional rivals, particularly China. This does not mean the South China Sea is no longer important to Japan. The import of crude oil and raw materials is critical to the energy- and resource-poor country (Japan’s current dependence on foreign oil sources is nearly 100 percent, and approximately 88 percent of its supplies pass through the South China Sea). Furthermore, the Strait of Malacca is a crucial shipment point for Japanese goods going to foreign markets. Yet Japan’s limitations, along with waning U.S. interest in the region, allowed China to use its expanding political and economic influence to project itself as a rising power in Southeast Asia.

Regional Concerns About China
Over the past five years, China’s blue-water strategy and military expansion have led to concerns among Southeast Asian nations about a Chinese military buildup and renewed tensions over the South China Sea. These developments have also attracted attention from Japan, which sees China’s increasing assertiveness over the waters as a possible threat to Japan’s supply lines. Japan has its own territorial disputes with China, over the Senkaku Islands (known in China as the Diaoyu Islands) in the East China Sea, and has engaged in frequent rows with Beijing over joint exploration projects. For Japan, China’s military buildup and sovereignty claims in the South China Sea not only suggest similar approaches could be used in Beijing’s territorial disputes with Japan but also indicate that China wants to play a more dominant role in Southeast Asian affairs.

Previously, Japan was reluctant to directly challenge China on the South China Sea, but recently Tokyo has become more vocal on regional issues, particularly regarding the South China Sea. Since tensions in the sea reached new heights earlier this year, Japan has several times voiced concern about China’s dominance of the waters at Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gatherings and assisted claimant countries calling for greater attention to regional security issues.

Japan also seems to have accelerated its efforts to increase Washington’s security interests in the South China Sea, as demonstrated by Tokyo’s attempt to formulate a framework for U.S.-Japanese cooperation along with ASEAN countries to pressure China to abide by international rules. Japan also put forth an initiative for cooperation with the United States and South Korea to defuse tensions in the South China Sea, and a proposal for U.S.-Indian-Japanese talks on regional security issues. Furthermore, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) deployed to the South China Sea earlier this year for a small joint military exercise with the U.S. and Australian navies off the coast of Brunei.

Japan’s Possible Changing Role
Several changes have made it possible for Japan to use tensions in the South China Sea to take a stronger stance against China. First, thanks to renewed U.S. interest in Asia-Pacific affairs, Japan — the strongest U.S. ally in the region — has been under pressure from Washington to play a greater role in regional affairs in order to counterbalance China. Japan in the past decade has gradually shifted away from the U.S. security umbrella and begun taking more responsibility for its defense. This, along with China’s growing economic clout and military modernization and expansion in the region, has caused both Washington and Tokyo to rethink their relations with Beijing. Japan’s interest in protecting its sea-lane from an encroaching China has given Tokyo one more motive to take a greater role in regional security.

Second, Japan can be expected to continue gradually expanding the role of the JMSDF to address energy supply line vulnerability and the general threat posed by China — both of which are growing in importance. The JMSDF is considered among the most sophisticated and capable naval forces in the world, but lingering memories of World War II and public perceptions of the Japanese military have strongly impeded its expansion. These perceptions show signs of gradually shifting, making it easier for Tokyo to argue for humanitarian and overseas deployments (as seen with the JMSDF’s disaster response following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami). China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea, therefore, could help justify JMSDF operations. So far, the JMSDF’s expanding role largely has been focused on disaster relief or peacekeeping missions, but anti-piracy missions off the Somali coast and an air force base in Djibouti demonstrate Tokyo’s intention to increase the JMSDF’s peaceful presence overseas. Bilateral JMSDF training with Southeast Asian countries could be the start of greater military involvement in the South China Sea in particular.

Finally, Japan has also been pursuing both bilateral and multilateral security relationships with other countries in the region, with U.S participation. Tokyo has forged defense cooperation with countries including the Philippines and Vietnam — both of which have territorial claims in the South China Sea — and  India, which has a strategic interest in containing China’s expanding sphere of influence. Some defense-related bilateral summits and trilateral talks involving the United States have also been proposed. Southeast Asian countries with territorial claims in the South China Sea believe working with Japan could increase their leverage in negotiations with China, drawing international attention to the territorial disputes. Moreover, working with Japan is an immense opportunity for the Philippines.

Despite Japan’s apparent interest in the South China Sea as part of its strategy to regain influence in Southeast Asia amid China’s increasing aggressiveness, Tokyo appears to be taking a cautious approach to avoid risking greater tensions with Beijing. It is not yet clear whether the new Japanese government wants to take an assertive stance against China on maritime issues. So far, the new Cabinet does not seem to be planning any bold moves in this area. Before taking a major step toward reinterpreting its role in Southeast Asia, Tokyo might have to garner the political will and intent to fit into the broader U.S. strategy for the region.



Read more: Japan Taking a New Role in the South China Sea? | STRATFOR
23567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on Al Alwaki's whacking on: September 30, 2011, 11:39:02 AM
Summary
The Yemeni Defense Ministry has announced that U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in an airstrike. If the reports are true, al-Awlaki’s death would be a blow to al Qaeda’s Yemeni franchise, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But it is important not to overstate the cleric’s death; AQAP’s ideological and physical battle against the West will continue whether he is dead or not.

Analysis
Related Links
Al Qaeda’s Leadership in Yemen
The Yemeni Defense Ministry on Sept. 30 announced that an airstrike directed against a motorcade near the town of Khashef in Yemen’s al-Jawf province killed U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. AFP and Al Arabiya have reported that tribal sources in Yemen have confirmed al-Awlaki’s death. U.S. counterterrorism sources have also confirmed the death to STRATFOR.

Al-Awlaki served as an ideologue and spokesman for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda’s franchise in Yemen. However, when considering the implications of al-Awlaki’s death, it is important not to overstate his role in AQAP. He was not the group’s leader, as some in the media have claimed, and although he was a member of its Shariah Council, he was not even the group’s primary religious leader. If the reports are true — rumors of his death have surfaced in the past — his death would severely damage the al Qaeda node’s ability to inspire militants in the English-speaking world to action. AQAP’s outreach to those militants will not stop completely, nor will its attempts to attack the West on the physical battlefield.

AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahayshi has placed a great deal of emphasis on strategic communications as a form of jihad, which has been reflected by the amount of resources the group has devoted to its Arabic-language magazine Sada al-Malahim and the English-language  Inspire magazine. Al-Wahayshi also has taken the lead in advocating that Muslims embrace a leaderless resistance model for their militant operations. Having been born, raised and educated in the United States, al-Awlaki has served as AQAP’s primary spokesman to Muslims in the English-speaking world, and his efforts have inspired a number of attacks and attempted attacks. Al-Awlaki has been linked to Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, would-be Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and two of the 9/11 hijackers. More recently, al-Awlaki and AQAP appear to have inspired U.S. Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, the man arrested July 27 and charged with planning an attack on Ft. Hood.



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When considering these reports of al-Awlaki’s death, it is also important to remember that he has been declared dead before. The first time followed a December 2009 airstrike in Shabwa province, and the second came after a May 5 unmanned aerial vehicle strike in Nissab, Shabwa province. Shabwa is near al-Jawf, where al-Awlaki was reportedly killed. If he is indeed dead, we can anticipate a statement or eulogy from AQAP in the near future.

Al-Awlaki’s death would deprive AQAP of an important asset in the group’s outreach to the English-speaking world and its efforts to inspire grassroots operatives there, which is the primary threat he posed to the United States and the West. It also would impact AQAP operations on the ideological battlefield. The group’s outreach to the English-speaking world will continue through Inspire magazine and its editor, Samir Khan, but Khan simply does not have the prominence of al-Awlaki.

There is already an indication that Khan is operating under some constraint. On Sept. 27, AQAP published the seventh edition of Inspire magazine. That issue, dedicated to the 9/11 attacks, mostly was composed of photos with very little written content. It did not contain the normal “Open Source Jihad” section, which is intended to equip grassroots jihadists to conduct attacks in the West. The fact that the edition was so lacking in written content and that it was published 16 days after the 9/11 anniversary is an indication that Khan may be under some pressure and does not have the same freedom to operate as he has in the past.

But AQAP does not just operate on the ideological battlefield. On the physical battlefield, the increased pace of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen likely will serve to keep AQAP’s leadership focused on survival, and the group’s fighting on the ground in Yemen also will consume most of its physical resources. AQAP fighters are likely too busy to contemplate and launch attacks against the West like the December 2009 underwear bomb or the November 2010 cargo bomb attempt. However, al-Wahayshi, his tactical commanders and AQAP’s innovative bombmaker Hassan Tali al-Asiri would certainly like to target the West, and if given the latitude, they will continue to plot attacks against targets in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and beyond, regardless of whether al-Awlaki is dead or not.

23568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Shale Gas Revolution on: September 30, 2011, 10:59:36 AM


By LUCIAN PUGLIARESI
In response to a 2009 request from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the National Petroleum Council (NPC) reported earlier this month that oil production in North America could double by 2035—to 20 million barrels per day.

Where can all this oil come from? For one, the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technique used in shale gas production is now being applied to extract oil. The vast oil reserves in Canada's Alberta Province are increasingly being tapped. There is more oil to be had with greater access to federal lands in Alaska and the western U.S., and accelerated drilling in the deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

But to realize the enormous potential outlined in the NPC report, we need to understand how the policies of the federal government act as a serious brake on access to the reserves and the exploitation of new technologies to tap them.

The shale gas revolution started in Texas, migrated quickly to Arkansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania and then leaped to North Dakota—where the technology for producing shale gas was applied to oil development. Even New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, no longer wishing to miss out on the economic opportunity for his state, has pulled back from his state's comprehensive ban on hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for shale gas.

What do these states all have in common besides interesting geology? Their federal land holdings are extremely small and mineral rights are in private hands.

Thus landowners were not prohibited from coming to terms with oil and gas companies, providing immediate opportunities to test new drilling technologies. Knowledge gained in one region could move quickly to another. Regulatory and environmental reviews were largely the responsibilities of state and local governments, and disagreements could often be resolved at the local level.

Contrast the shale gas revolution to oil and gas development on the vast lands owned by the federal government. There access to reserves is burdened by endless federal environmental reviews, congressional oversight, permitting delays and bureaucrats who insist that oil and gas resources do not exist in areas of interest to oil and gas companies.

Shell Oil, the winning bidder on a federal lease sale in Alaska, has spent over four years and billions of dollars and is only now getting the final permits to proceed with exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean's Beaufort Sea. Further court challenges remain likely.

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Workers in the middle of natural gas drilling operations for Chesapeake Energy Corp. in Bradford County, Penn.
.Shell USA President Marvin Odum has stated that his board members in The Hague (Shell USA is a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell) are now raising serious concerns over political and regulatory risk attached to investment in the United States. Court challenges over the adequacy of environmental reviews, as well as other interventions not permitted on private lands, make the process of bringing new oil and gas production from federal lands to market both slow and costly.

President Obama's criticism of the federal oil and gas leasing program, and his call for "use it or lose it" when referring to undeveloped leases on federal lands, are the exact opposite of what is needed. We need to open more lands and minimize the regulatory burden to ensure that the oil and gas potential outlined by the NPC can be realized.

Those proponents of "peak oil" who claim the NPC report is unrealistic need only revisit our recent history with shale gas. Natural gas production has surged by more than 25% in the last four years. Yet just a few years ago, government reports and long hours of expert testimony on Capitol Hill outlined the need for the U.S. to take action to address a growing shortage of natural gas.

A crash program was called for to build receiving facilities to import foreign supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Many receiving facilities were built at a cost of billions of dollars as investors bought into the government assessments. Today these facilities are operating at less than 10% capacity.

Ample supplies of oil and gas, combined with taxpayer fatigue over green subsidies, means that a range of costly and uncompetitive technologies such as biofuels and electric cars now face the prospect of financial failure. To be sure, investments in the oil and gas industry are not immune from surprises and technology advances. LNG receiving facilities in the U.S. are suffering large financial losses. The good news is that unlike the bankrupt Solyndra solar plant that received over $500 million in federal loans, losses at the LNG receiving facilities will not be picked up by the taxpayers.

Mr. Pugliaresi is president of the Energy Policy Research Foundation and a former staff member of the National Security Council under President Reagan.

23569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: The time of reckoning has come on: September 30, 2011, 10:49:49 AM
This is exactly the type of subject matter where Pravda on the Hudson must be read with particular care.  Caveat lector!
----------------------------------------

CAIRO — By force of this year’s Arab revolts and revolutions, activists marching under the banner of Islam are on the verge of a reckoning decades in the making: the prospect of achieving decisive power across the region has unleashed an unprecedented debate over the character of the emerging political orders they are helping to build.
Few question the coming electoral success of religious activists, but as they emerge from the shadows of a long, sometimes bloody struggle with authoritarian and ostensibly secular governments, they are confronting newly urgent questions about how to apply Islamic precepts to more open societies with very concrete needs.
In Turkey and Tunisia, culturally conservative parties founded on Islamic principles are rejecting the name “Islamist” to stake out what they see as a more democratic and tolerant vision.
In Egypt, a similar impulse has begun to fracture the Muslim Brotherhood as a growing number of politicians and parties argue for a model inspired by Turkey, where a party with roots in political Islam has thrived in a once-adamantly secular system. Some contend that the absolute monarchy of puritanical Saudi Arabia in fact violates Islamic law.
A backlash has ensued, as well, as traditionalists have flirted with timeworn Islamist ideas like imposing interest-free banking and obligatory religious taxes and censoring irreligious discourse.
The debates are deep enough that many in the region believe that the most important struggles may no longer occur between Islamists and secularists, but rather among the Islamists themselves, pitting the more puritanical against the more liberal.
“That’s the struggle of the future,” said Azzam Tamimi, a scholar and the author of a biography of a Tunisian Islamist, Rachid Ghannouchi, whose party, Ennahda, is expected to dominate elections next month to choose an assembly to draft a constitution. “The real struggle of the future will be about who is capable of fulfilling the desires of a devout public. It’s going to be about who is Islamist and who is more Islamist, rather than about the secularists and the Islamists.”
The moment is as dramatic as any in recent decades in the Arab world, as autocracies crumble and suddenly vibrant parties begin building a new order, starting with elections in Tunisia in October, then Egypt in November. Though the region has witnessed examples of ventures by Islamists into politics, elections in Egypt and Tunisia, attempts in Libya to build a state almost from scratch and the shaping of an alternative to Syria’s dictatorship are their most forceful entry yet into the region’s still embryonic body politic.
“It is a turning point,” said Emad Shahin, a scholar on Islamic law and politics at the University of Notre Dame who was in Cairo.
At the center of the debates is a new breed of politician who has risen from an Islamist milieu but accepts an essentially secular state, a current that some scholars have already taken to identifying as “post Islamist.” Its foremost exemplars are Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party in Turkey, whose intellectuals speak of a shared experience and a common heritage with some of the younger members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and with the Ennahda Party in Tunisia. Like Turkey, Tunisia faced decades of a state-enforced secularism that never completely reconciled itself with a conservative population.
“They feel at home with each other,” said Cengiz Candar, an Arabic-speaking Turkish columnist. “It’s similar terms of reference, and they can easily communicate with them.”
Mr. Ghannouchi, the Tunisian Islamist, has suggested a common ambition, proposing what some say Mr. Erdogan’s party has managed to achieve: a prosperous, democratic Muslim state, led by a party that is deeply religious but operates within a system that is supposed to protect liberties. (That is the notion, at least — Mr. Erdogan’s critics accuse him of a pronounced streak of authoritarianism.)
“If the Islamic spectrum goes from Bin Laden to Erdogan, which of them is Islam?” Mr. Ghannouchi asked in a recent debate with a secular critic. “Why are we put in the same place as a model that is far from our thought, like the Taliban or the Saudi model, while there are other successful Islamic models that are close to us, like the Turkish, the Malaysian and the Indonesian models, models that combine Islam and modernity?”
The notion of an Arab post-Islamism is not confined to Tunisia. In Libya, Ali Sallabi, the most important Islamist political leader, cites Mr. Ghannouchi as a major influence. Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fotouh, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader who is running for president in Egypt, has joined several new breakaway political parties in arguing that the state should avoid interpreting or enforcing Islamic law, regulating religious taxes or barring a person from running for president based on gender or religion.
A party formed by three leaders of the Brotherhood’s youth wing says that while Egypt shares a common Arab and Islamic culture with the region, its emerging political system should ensure protections of individual freedoms as robust as the West’s. In an interview, one of them, Islam Lotfy, argued that the strictly religious kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the Koran is ostensibly the constitution, was less Islamist than Turkey. “It is not Islamist; it is dictatorship,” said Mr. Lotfy, who was recently expelled from the Brotherhood for starting the new party.
and Elections
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Egypt’s Center Party, a group that struggled for 16 years to win a license from the ousted government, may go furthest here in elaborating the notion of post-Islamism. Its founder, Abul-Ela Madi, has long sought to mediate between religious and liberal forces, even coming up with a set of shared principles last month. Like the Ennahda Party in Tunisia, he disavows the term “Islamist,” and like other progressive Islamic activists, he describes his group as Egypt’s closest equivalent of Mr. Erdogan’s party.
“We’re neither secular nor Islamist,” he said. “We’re in between.”
It is often heard in Turkey that the country’s political system, until recently dominated by the military, moderated Islamic currents there. Mr. Lotfy said he hoped that Egyptian Islamists would undergo a similar, election-driven evolution, though activists themselves cautioned against drawing too close a comparison. “They went to the streets and they learned that the public was not just worried about the hijab” — the veil — “but about corruption,” he said. “If every woman in Turkey wore the hijab, it would not be a great country. It takes economic development.”
Compared with the situation in Turkey, the stakes of the debates may be even higher in the Arab world, where divided and weak liberal currents pale before the organization and popularity of Islamic activists.
In Syria, debates still rage among activists over whether a civil or Islamic state should follow the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, if he falls. The emergence in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria of Salafists, the most inflexible currents in political Islam, is one of the most striking political developments in those societies. (“The Koran is our constitution,” goes one of their sayings.)
And the most powerful current in Egypt, still represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, has stubbornly resisted some of the changes in discourse.
When Mr. Erdogan expressed hope for “a secular state in Egypt,” meaning, he explained, a state equidistant from all faiths, Brotherhood leaders immediately lashed out, saying that Mr. Erdogan’s Turkey offered no model for either Egypt or its Islamists.
A Brotherhood spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan, accused Turkey of violating Islamic law by failing to criminalize adultery. “In the secularist system, this is accepted, and the laws protect the adulterer,” he said, “But in the Shariah law this is a crime.”
As recently as 2007, a prototype Brotherhood platform sought to bar women or Christians from serving as Egypt’s president and called for a panel of religious scholars to advise on the compliance of any legislation with Islamic law. The group has never disavowed the document. Its rhetoric of Islam’s long tolerance of minorities often sounds condescending to Egypt’s Christian minority, which wants to be afforded equal citizenship, not special protections. The Brotherhood’s new party has called for a special surtax on Muslims to enforce charitable giving.
Indeed, Mr. Tamimi, the scholar, argued that some mainstream groups like the Brotherhood, were feeling the tug of their increasingly assertive conservative constituencies, which still relentlessly call for censorship and interest-free banking.
“Is democracy the voice of the majority?” asked Mohammed Nadi, a 26-year-old student at a recent Salafist protest in Cairo. “We as Islamists are the majority. Why do they want to impose on us the views of the minorities — the liberals and the secularists? That’s all I want to know.”

23570  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Texas Border Security Report on: September 30, 2011, 10:43:48 AM
http://www.texasagriculture.gov/vgn/tda/files/1848/46982_Final%20Report-Texas%20Border%20Security.pdf
 
 
This is a recent report by, among others, Gen. Barry McCaffrey.  It's over 180 pages but does have a 5-page executive summary.
23571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: September 30, 2011, 10:33:08 AM
The term "crony socialism" works for me  grin
23572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 30, 2011, 10:30:37 AM
YA:

Your comments in response to my question make sense-- I was simply seeking to make sure that we were being fair and not letting our loathing of Baraq cloud our judgment.  I would add the implication that naturally arises from McMullen awaiting his retirement before making his candid comments-- that he was free of consequences from the White House.
23573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nature on: September 30, 2011, 10:23:46 AM
We regularly see dolphins at the beach here in the South Bay of Los Angeles.
23574  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Gun Gazer Tango on: September 30, 2011, 10:22:07 AM
While awaiting DF's reply, here is this:

Acknowledging Furtive Movement: Gun Gazer Tango
Posted: 30 Sep 2011 04:53 AM PDT
Editor’s Note:This is a guest post from The Chaplain. The Chaplain’s bio is at the end of this article.

During my first few years as a Law Enforcement Officer I had the experience of working with many back country Rural Police Officers. When you’re working in Southeastern Oklahoma or Western Arkansas as a Law Enforcement Officer you have to be pretty self-sufficient. Many times back-up for incidents and traffic stops is just a dream if nothing more. One lesson I took from a mentoring officer in dealing with gun gazing subjects has served me well over the 20 plus years of surviving the badge.

Big Jerry I called him, and said it with a respectful tone, when addressing him as a rookie looking to make his way. He was a mountain of a man at 6’2 and well over 300 Lbs of corn fed muscle. To ask if he ever played football was to ask if Superman ever wore a cape. He seemed a one man tactical unit at times and had a forceful presence without even saying a word. He certainly was the kind of man you would want to walk in a dark alley with as versus encountering him in one. Big Jerry worked the little towns on the state line and could handle pretty much anything that came his way. He imparted a morsel of wisdom to me one day in dealing with those you catch eyeing your firearm. Jerry’s tactic was to stop whatever he was doing and immediately let the suspect know that he was aware of his gazing in a very abrupt manner. This served most often to defuse a potential situation.

Over the years I have heard many a young officer speak of how the subject was eyeing his weapon and becoming mentally prepared for the potential coming altercation. However, concerning this subject matter an ounce of prevention is certainly worth using to prevent the pound of trouble that comes your way should you end up struggling for your weapon. For those that have never lived through such a situation I can tell you first hand it is as certainly a life threatening dangerous as any vehicle accident or shooting you could ever get into.
We know that the majority of Line of Duty Deaths every year, roughly 70 out of 150, are by murder, many times by firearm and all too often with the officer’s own weapon. This is the very reason we strive to secure body armor that will at least stop the round from of our own weapon.

When considering that the majority of human communication is non- verbal we certainly enter the realm of dealing with furtive movement. Normally this type of movement by the suspect we see as coming from their posture or hand positioning. Are they taking a stance and preparing to fight us? However, where the eyes wonder the hands may attempt to claim in the end game.

Therefore when observing that your suspect is frequently taking sneak peeks at your weapon, particularly a holster ed side arm, it is not out of the level of most use of force models, officer presence being the beginning, to stop what you are doing and advise the suspect, “Look, I see that you are looking at my weapon and I assure you that you don’t want to see it. Because if I have to draw it then there is going to be trouble and that you don’t want.”

This type of address to the suspect, while implying a threat, is well within our most common Use of Force parameters. Letting the suspect know that you know and that they will have a huge fight on their hands should they make that move could de escalate a situation. Of course in the world of dealing with loud obnoxious drunks this tactic could serve to escalate the situation. So, it is important to pick the right suspect on which to utilize this technique. However, it has been my experience that the majority of the time this will ward off the gun gazer from further issues.

About the Author: The Chaplain
The Chaplain is a nom de plume or pen name for the Senior Border Patrol Agent who wrote this article.
Post from: Spartan Cops

Acknowledging Furtive Movement: Gun Gazer Tango
23575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: September 30, 2011, 09:53:11 AM
That is very, very good news. 

Worth noting is that the distinctly higher pollution levels of Canada's shale oil (apart from CO2 emissions IIRC) will present questions. Also presenting questions will be concerns about polluting the water table with fracking:

see c.f.

Industrial solvent TCE even more dangerous to people
EPA finds trichloroethylene causes kidney and liver cancer, lymphoma and other health problems. The decision could raise the cost of cleanups nationwide, including in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
 
September 30, 2011
One of the most widespread groundwater contaminants in the nation is more dangerous to humans than earlier thought, a federal agency has determined, in a decision that could raise the cost of cleanups nationwide, including large areas of the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

The final risk assessment for trichloroethylene by the Environmental Protection Agency found that the widely used industrial solvent causes kidney and liver cancer, lymphoma and other health problems. That lays the groundwork to reevaluate the federal drinking-water standard for the contaminant: 5 parts per billion in water, and 1 microgram per cubic meter in air, officials said.

Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for the EPA's office of research and development, said toxicity values for TCE reported in the risk assessment released this week may be used to establish new cleanup strategies at 761 Superfund sites, as well as in aquifers supplying drinking water to millions of residents in the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys.

The risk assessment had been subject to more than a decade of delays. A 2001 draft assessment that suggested a strong link between TCE and cancer was opposed by the Defense Department, the Energy Department and NASA.

The Pentagon had demanded greater proof that industrial substances cause cancer before raising cleanup costs at more than 1,000 polluted sites.

"This risk assessment is a big deal because it will strengthen protections for people who live and work above TCE plumes — and there are a lot of them — and could force serious rethinking about the extent of cleanup efforts," said Lenny Siegal, executive director of the Mountain View, Calif.-based Center for Public Environmental Oversight, which posted a letter Monday signed by activists across the country, demanding that the final risk assessment be released. It was released Wednesday.

Jennifer Sass, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the decision "launches new arguments about what the safety standards should be. In the meantime, people impacted by this pollution can now link their disease to it in litigation with more confidence because the science is no longer in dispute. TCE causes cancer."

TCE has been discovered in nearly every state but in none more widely than California. Military bases including Camp Pendleton and Edwards Air Force Base have Superfund sites with TCE contamination.

The Los Angeles metropolitan area overlies a checkerboard of underground plumes of TCE, and has high ambient levels of the chemical in the air. More than 30 square miles of the San Gabriel Valley lie in one of four Superfund sites that contain TCE. The San Fernando Valley overlies a large plume grouped into three separate Superfund sites. The former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Orange County sits over a plume several miles long.

Developed by chemists in the late 19th century, TCE was widely used after World War II to degrease metal and electronic parts, and then dumped into nearby disposal pits and storage tanks at industrial plants and military bases, where it seeped into aquifers.

The public can be exposed to TCE in several ways, including by showering in contaminated water and by breathing air in homes where TCE vapors have intruded from the soil. TCE's movement from contaminated groundwater and soil into the indoor air of overlying buildings is a major concern.

"Vapor intrusion represents toxic exposure which is continuous and difficult to avoid," Siegal said. "It's not like you can live on bottled air in your own home or school."

23576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We whack Awlacki!!! on: September 30, 2011, 09:14:27 AM


U.S.-Born al Qaeda Leader Anwar al-Awlaki Is Killed in Yemen

SANA, Yemen — Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born preacher depicted as a leading figure in Al Qaeda’s outpost in Yemen, was killed on Friday morning in the north of the country, according to the Defense Ministry.

Earlier this year, the American military renewed its campaign of airstrikes in Yemen, using drone aircraft and fighter jets to attack Qaeda militants. One of the attacks was aimed at Mr. Awlaki, one of the most prominent members of the Qaeda affiliate group. There was no immediate comment from American officials.

But Mr. Awlaki’s death, if confirmed, seemed likely to be welcomed in the United States, where Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in July that two of his top goals were to remove Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s new leader after the death of Osama Bin Laden, and Mr. Awlaki.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/world/middleeast/anwar-al-awlaki-is-killed-in-yemen.html?emc=na
23577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Son of Solyndra; mid-wifed by Pelosi on: September 29, 2011, 10:46:24 PM
My brain fart-- for some reason I was thinking of Iraq  embarassed -- though execution for apostasy would seem pretty noteworthy in its own right, particulary in a country that is violating its accords with the international community not to develop nuclear bombs and which has sworn to wipe Israel off the map , , ,

Anyway, once again, moving along-- here's this:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/uncovered-737-million-green-jobs-loan-given-to-company-affiliated-with-pelosis-bro-in-law/
23578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt's new Contract with America on: September 29, 2011, 08:52:30 PM


http://www.newt.org/contract/legislative-proposals
23579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Son of Solyndra; mid-wifed by Pelosi on: September 29, 2011, 08:49:51 PM
Given the American blood, sweat, tears, and money put into Iraq one would think the story would be of interest , , , except to the Pravdas  rolleyes

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

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/uncovered-737-million-green-jobs-loan-given-to-company-affiliated-with-pelosis-bro-in-law/
23580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Students punished for saying "God bless you" on: September 29, 2011, 08:45:05 PM

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/calif-teacher-punishes-students-for-saying-god-bless-you/
23581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bar heckler buckles on: September 29, 2011, 08:36:28 PM


http://www.theblaze.com/stories/i-apologize-bristol-palins-bar-heckler-buckles-under-negative-media-coverage-plus-bristol-responds/#comments
23582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Beck: Star of David carved in Iraqi's back on: September 29, 2011, 08:29:56 PM

http://www.glennbeck.com/2011/09/29/hate-crime-arab-attacked-for-supporting-israel/
23583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Beck: Christian on trial in Iraq on: September 29, 2011, 08:27:04 PM
An Iranian pastor is set to be executed for apostasy if he doesn’t renounce his Christian faith – and while the latest updates provide hope for an acquittal the case is a strong warning against the spread of Islamic law in the Middle East.

The latest report from The Blaze says:

As we have already reported, the young pastor, now 32, made a conversion to Christianity years ago when he was a teenager. While this has become the basis for the Iranian case against him, his initial arrest surrounded his public opposition to Christian schoolchildren being forced to participate in Islamic religious education. He was subsequently convicted of apostasy in 2010 and remains in prison in Rasht.

So far, the courts have said that Nadarkhani must repent of his conversion or he will face the death penalty.

Under Islamic law, repenting would involve the pastor apologizing and denouncing his conversion to Christianity. To date, this has not happened, as Nadarkhani has stuck to his religious ideals during the past four days of his appeals trial.

The report does add that the lawyer is now 95% sure his client will be acquitted, although Blaze writer Billy Hallowell adds “Of course, considering the lack of transparency in Iranian governance and the unpredictability of officials there, this potential for a favorable outcome may be optimistic.”

Heather Sells with CBN added, “Many believe Pastor Nadarkhani was targeted because he spoke out. He recently questioned the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran.”

“So we got a guy who’s speaking out and going to be executed. He’s Christian. He is going to be executed. Where is the world? Where ‑‑ where is the media? Where’s the president?” Glenn asked on radio this morning.

Glenn reminded listeners that there was endless media coverage of two American hikers who were held in Iran – but little coverage of this Christian Pastor.

23584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 29, 2011, 08:25:02 PM
In the ongoing search of this forum for Truth, I note that some of us (e.g. me) have made snarky comments about Baraq welching on basing ABM missiles in eastern Europe so as to suck up to the Russians-- which included using them as an alternative supply route for our efforts in Afghanistan.  At the moment it looks like I need to acknowledge that it appears that this is enabling us to change our dealings with the Paks.

Your thoughts YA?
23585  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: September 29, 2011, 08:11:39 PM
Ah well then-- the "more egregious" is what threw me off  smiley
23586  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / WSJ: Mata Zetas on: September 29, 2011, 06:13:16 PM
Second post of the day

MEXICO CITY—A self-styled drug-trafficking group calling itself the "Zeta Killers" claimed responsibility this week for the recent murders of at least 35 people believed to belong to the Zetas, Mexico's most violent criminal organization.

The claim by the "Mata Zetas" has stoked fears that Mexico, like Colombia a generation before, may be witnessing the rise of paramilitary drug gangs that seek society's approval and tacit consent from the government to help society confront its ills, in this case, the Zetas.

On Wednesday, Mexico's national security spokeswoman Alejandra Sota vowed in a statement that the government would "hunt down" and bring to justice any criminal group that takes justice into its own hands.

 In the last four years, roughly 43,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug-related killings. Three Wall Street Journal reporters went to three of the country's most violent cities to tell the stories from a single day: Friday, July 29, 2011.
.Mexico's War
Just an Ordinary Day of Death in Mexico's War on Drug Traffickers (Aug. 27, 2011)
.The issue surfaced last week after 35 bodies were dumped just blocks away from a hotel in the port city of Veracruz where Mexico's state attorney generals were due to hold a meeting the following day. Two days later, after the convention kicked off, an additional 11 bodies were found in different parts of the city.

The shocking scenes, suggesting mass murder in front of the country's top law-enforcement officials, were followed up days later by a video in which five hooded men took responsibility for the murders, saying the victims were all Zetas who had carried out crimes like extortion.

"Our only objective is the Zetas cartel," said a burly, hooded man who said he was a Mata Zetas spokesman, in the video. The man said that unlike the Zetas, his group didn't "extort or kidnap" citizens and were "anonymous warriors, without faces, but proudly Mexican" who would work "clandestinely" but "always to benefit Mexico's people."

The mysterious group appears to be part of the New Generation drug cartel, which operates in the northwestern state of Jalisco, according to an earlier video that showed some three dozen hooded men brandishing automatic rifles as a spokesman vowed to wipe out the Zetas in Veracruz. In that video, the spokesman lauded the work of the Mexican armed forces against the Zetas, and urged citizens to give information on their location to the military.

The rise of any paramilitary gangs could propel Mexico into an even more violent stage of a drug war that has killed more than 43,000 people since President Felipe Calderón took power in December 2006.

Enlarge Image

CloseAssociated Press
 
Soldiers secured 35 bodies in Veracruz last week, deaths for which the Zetas claimed responsibility.
.In Colombia, government-backed peasant militias formed to defend against Communist guerrillas in decades past were eventually taken over by drug traffickers, who were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people. "This is a version of para-militarism which is emerging," said Bruce Bagley, an expert on Latin America and drug trafficking at the University of Miami. "We are not sure who these guys are. They are outlaws, but if they kill Zetas, they could find a following among some of the Mexican political and military elite. It bodes very badly for the rule of law in Mexico."

Other analysts say the Mata Zetas appear to be just another drug gang battling it out with the Zetas over turf.

The new group "pretends to use vigilante tactics to finish off another criminal organization," wrote Eric Olson, an analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, on El Palenque, a Mexican website.

In the recent past, other cartels, most notably La Familia, based in the state of Michoacán, have tried to use the Zetas' reputation for brutality as a way of rallying popular support and gaining new adherents to fight them. La Familia recently suffered a major split after the group made peace with the Zetas.

Nevertheless, the rise of a group like the Mata Zetas raises troubling questions for ordinary Mexicans and the government: Is it a good thing when members of a bloodthirsty cartel known for murders, extortions, and kidnapping are themselves summarily killed by other criminals?

While Mexico's federal government has condemned the killing, the response by Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte was widely seen as more equivocal.

"It's lamentable the assassination of 35 people, but it's more so that these people had chosen to dedicate themselves to extortion, kidnapping and murder," the governor wrote on his Twitter account a day after the event.

Drug Crime in Mexico
Track the increasing violence in an interactive map.

View Interactive
.More photos and interactive graphics
.Among other atrocities, the Zetas are blamed for last month's casino fire that killed 52 people in the business capital of Monterrey in Nuevo León state, and the murder of 72 U.S.-bound migrants last year in Tamaulipas state.

The Zetas evolved from a small group of elite soldiers who defected in the late 1990s to work as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel into a vicious multinational crime organization.

Since they broke with the Gulf Cartel in 2010, the Zetas have been fighting a bloody turf war across Mexico against other groups, in which thousands have perished.

Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the CIDE think tank in Mexico says that the emergence of illegal groups such as the Mata Zetas—perhaps with some help from local or national government authorities—wouldn't be a surprise, given the level of violence inflicted by the Zetas on the Mexican population and the Mexican state's inability to provide its citizens with protection.

Officials "would never tell you openly, but I wouldn't be surprised if some sectors of government look the other way, and I fear that parts of the civilian population would also see this with approval," he said.

23587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 29, 2011, 03:17:55 PM
"In contrast, most of our allies also say it's not black and white and most of our allies in some way support the Palestinians cause.  I suppose you think they are all "rigid" too?  And full of "bullexcrement"?  Or will you acknowledge that they have some good points too?  It sounds like I'm the one who is open minded to different viewpoints.  I'm only suggesting impartiality and negotiations."

Most of our Euro allies are getting out-fuct by the Muslims in their countries and are engaged in pre-emptive dhimmitude.  Much of the world is dependent on Arab oil.  (Britain released the Lockerbie bomber for an oil deal with Kaddaffy!)  1/5 (1/4?) of the world is Muslim.  The UN has countries like Syria and Kaddaffy's Libya heading the Human Rights Council. 

GET THIS JDN.  NEVER AGAIN.  No more slicing the salami with the jew hatred.  Stop trying to shoot us and bomb us.  Stop trying to push us into the sea.  Stop deliberately targeting our women and children.  Accept our right to live and let us prosper together.  WHATEVER YOUR ANSWER, WE WILL LIVE.  CHALLENGE THAT AND YOU WILL REGRET IT.

23588  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: September 29, 2011, 03:03:39 PM
C'mon JDN, you know better than this.   angry With sufficient bail to ensure appearance (one million dollars here would seem to more than meet that requirement!) this is what the American Constitution calls for.  You know, that "innocent until proven guilty stuff" , , ,
23589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 29, 2011, 10:47:14 AM
Negotiations WERE happening until Baraq made it politically impossible for Abbas to continue by denouncing the settlements as a barrier to negotiations!  tongue

"According to law, is it ok because I'm stronger and I have a tough big brother that I invade his property, put up a new fence on his property and call it mine?  And on this new land I've "acquired", can I add additional housing for my family?  But if his family is still on that portion of land I took, I evict them, I provide them no shelter?  Little food.  Even basics in life.  If my neighbor's children throw rocks at me, is it ok if I shoot them?  Yes, you would argue that your neighbor threatened to kill you etc. so you had to do what you had to do."

Spectacularly off.  It wasn't threats.  It was DECADES of ACTUAL ATTEMPTS.  Your determination to get this issue wrong and throw up specious bullexcrement is rather remarkable.
23590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Taking Cain seriously on: September 29, 2011, 09:57:46 AM
You hear the same thing said about Herman Cain all the time: Herman Cain has some really interesting ideas, but . . .

I love Herman Cain, but . . .

But what?

But he can't win.

Why not?

At best, the answer has to do with that cloudy word "electability." Or that Mr. Cain has never held elected political office.

In 2004, Mr. Cain ran for the GOP's U.S. Senate nomination in Georgia. He lost to Johnny Isakson. Last weekend, Mr. Cain ran away with the Florida straw poll vote, winning with 37%. He torched both the "Southern" candidate, Rick Perry of Texas, who worked hard to win the vote, and Mitt Romney, who in 2008 campaigned everywhere in Florida.

The time is overdue to plumb the mystery of Herman Cain's "interesting, but" candidacy. Let's start at the top—in the top-tier candidacy of Mitt Romney.

Though he's got the governorship credential, Mr. Romney's emphasis in this campaign is on his private-sector experience. It's good, despite the knock on Bain Capital's business model. But measured by résumés, Herman Cain's looks deeper in terms of working on the private sector's front lines.

The details of his career path are worth knowing.

Related Video
 Steve Moore on Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan and his odds of winning.
..In the late 1970s, Mr. Cain was recruited from Coca-Cola in Atlanta, his first job in business, to work for Pillsbury in Minneapolis. His rise was rapid and well-regarded. He joined the company's restaurant and foods group in 1978 as director of business analysis. In the early 1980s, Pillsbury sent him to learn the hamburger business at a Burger King in Hopkins, Minn. Then they assigned him, at age 36, to revive Pillsbury's stumbling, franchise Burger King business in the Philadelphia region. He succeeded. According to a 1987 account in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pillsbury's then-president Win Wallin said: "He was an excellent bet. Herman always seemed to have his act together."

In 1986, Pillsbury sent the 41-year-old Mr. Cain to turn around their Godfather's Pizza business, headquartered in Omaha. The Herman Cain who arrived there April 1 sounded like the same man who roused voters last Sunday in Florida: "I'm Herman Cain and this ain't no April Fool's joke. We are not dead. Our objective is to prove to Pillsbury and everyone else that we will survive."

Pillsbury sold Godfather's to Mr. Cain and some of his managers in 1988. He ran it until 1996 and served as CEO of the National Restaurant Association from 1996-1999. This June, Mr. Cain visited with the Journal's editors and put the issue of health-insurance availability inside the context of the restaurant industry. He said the restaurant association tried hard to devise a health-insurance program able to serve the needs of an industry whose work force is complex—executives and managers, full-time workers, part-timers, students and so forth. Any conceivable insurance system would require great flexibility in plan-choice and design.

It's from this period that one finds the famous 1994 video, now on YouTube, of Herman Cain on a TV screen from Omaha debating Bill Clinton about his national health legislation during a town-hall meeting. After the president estimates the profitability of Mr. Cain's company, suggesting he can afford the legislation, Mr. Cain essentially dismantles the Clinton math, in detail. "The cost of your plan . . . will cause us to eliminate jobs."

None of this can be put across in the televised debates' explain-everything-in-30 seconds format. Nor is there any chance to elaborate his Sept. 7 debate remark that he admires Chile's private-public social security system. Or his flat-tax "9-9-9" proposal. (Or any of the candidates' policy ideas for that matter.) So voters get nothing, and Mr. Cain flounders.

 Why isn't a successful business résumé presidential material?
.Podcast: Listen to the audio of Wonder Land here. .When Mr. Cain talked to the Journal's editors, the most startling thing he said, and which he's been repeating lately, was that he could win one-third of the black vote. Seeing Herman Cain make his case to black audiences would be interesting, period. Years ago, describing his chauffeur father's influence on him in Atlanta, Mr. Cain said: "My father gave me a sense of pride. He was the best damn chauffeur. He knew it, and everybody else knew it." Here's guessing he'd get more of this vote than past GOP candidates.

Does a résumé like Herman Cain's add up to an American presidency? I used to think not. But after watching the American Idol system we've fallen into for discovering a president—with opinion polls, tongue slips and media caprice deciding front-runners and even presidents—I'm rewriting my presidential-selection software.

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 .Conventional wisdom holds that this week's Chris Christie boomlet means the GOP is desperate for a savior. The reality is that, at some point, Republicans will have to start drilling deeper on their own into the candidates they've got.

Put it this way: The GOP nominee is running against the incumbent president. Unlike the incumbent, Herman Cain has at least twice identified the causes of a large failing enterprise, designed goals, achieved them, and by all accounts inspired the people he was supposed to lead. Not least, Mr. Cain's life experience suggests that, unlike the incumbent, he will adjust his ideas to reality.

Herman Cain is a credible candidate. Whether he deserves to be president is something voters will decide. But he deserves a serious look.

23591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / $23,000,000 per job on: September 29, 2011, 09:51:51 AM
http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/bobbeauprez/2011/09/29/doe_trying_to_use_$65_billion_in_loans_to_create_283_jobs/page/full/

Repeatedly throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama made the claim that he would "create 5 million 'green jobs; will invest $150 billion over ten years to deploy clean technologies, protect our existing manufacturing base and create millions of new jobs." 

The growing Solyndra scandal focused renewed attention on Obama's go-green obsession, and has sparked at least five high-profile investigations, including the FBI. 

If there is any good news, it would be that thus far Obama hasn't blown through $150 billion – yet.  But, he's also well short of creating 5 million green jobs. 

According to Investor's Business Daily, about $10 billion has been committed.  The Department of Energy says just over 2300 permanent jobs are or will be created as a result.  That amounts to about $4.3 million per job.  In fairness, a number of construction jobs also benefitted from the funding, but are temporary, rather than permanent funding.

The program that has funded green loans like Solyndra and others expires on September 30, so the DOE is scrambling to get billions more out the door.  As the following graphic represents, the DOE is busy processing nine more applications totaling $6.5 billion.  Estimated numbers of permanent jobs to be created are required from applicants as part of the application program.  As the chart shows, just 283 permanent jobs would result – at an average of nearly $23 million per job.





Source: http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/586155/201109271759/DOE-Mulls-Loans-For-Green-Projects-At-23-Mil-Per-Job.htm


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23592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PA's capitol city is bankrupt on: September 29, 2011, 09:49:12 AM

http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/mikeshedlock/2011/09/29/state_capital_of_pa_going_bankrupt_over_alternative_energy_project

23593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Glick on: September 29, 2011, 09:46:52 AM


 

Upon his return to Ramallah from New York, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was greeted by a crowd of several thousand well-wishers. They applauded him for his speech at the UN. There, Abbas erased Jewish history from the Land of Israel, denied Israel's right to exist and pledged his commitment to establish a racist Palestinian state ethnically cleansed of all Jews.

Many of Abbas's supporters in Ramallah held posters of US President Barack Obama. On them Obama was portrayed as a monkey. The caption read, "The First Jewish President of the United States."

The fact that the Palestinians from Fatah and Hamas alike are Jew-hating racists should surprise no one who has been paying a modicum of attention to the Palestinian media and general culture. Since the PA was established in 1994 in the framework of the peace process between Israel and the PLO, it has used the media organs, schools and mosques it controls to spew out a constant flow of anti-Semitic propaganda. Much of the Jew-hating bile is indistinguishable from anti-Jewish propaganda published by the Nazis.

As for their anti-black bigotry, it is enough to recall the frequency with which Condoleezza Rice was depicted as a monkey and a devil in the Palestinian and pan-Arab media during George W. Bush's presidency to realize that the racist depiction of Obama was not a fluke. Moreover, and more disturbingly, it is worth recalling that like its fellow Arab League members, the PA has strongly supported Sudan's genocide of black Africans in Darfur.

To a degree, the willingness of African-Americans to turn a blind eye to Arab anti-black prejudice is understandable. Since the mid-1960s, oil rich Arab kingdoms led by Saudi Arabia have spent hundreds of millions of petrodollars in outreach to African-Americans. This outreach includes but is not limited to massive proselytization efforts among inner city blacks. The combination of a strong and growing African-American Muslim population and a general sense of amity towards Muslims as a result of outreach efforts contribute to a willingness on the part of African- Americans to overlook Arab anti-black racism.

Unlike African-Americans, Jewish Americans have been targeted by no serious outreach campaigns by the likes of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab world. To the contrary, as Mitchell Bard documented in his bookThe Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America's Interests in the Middle East, these Arab nations have spared no effort in anti-Israel lobbying in the US. Among the Arab lobby's goals is to undermine the legitimacy of American Jewish lobbying on behalf of Israel.

Furthermore, the anti-Jewish atmosphere in the Arab world is far more comprehensive and poisonous than its anti-black prejudice. A Pew global opinion poll from 2008 showed that hatred of Jews is effectively universal in the Arab world and overwhelming in non-Arab Muslim states. In Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, between 95 and 97 percent of respondents expressed hatred of Jews. In Indonesia, Turkey and Pakistan between two-thirds and three-quarters of respondents expressed hatred of Jews.

Jew-hatred among Muslim minorities in the West is less overwhelming. But Muslim antagonism towards Jews vastly outstrips that of the general populations of their countries. According to a Pew survey from 2006, while 7% of British citizens express unfavorable views of Jews, 47% of British Muslims admit to such views. In France, 13% of the general population admits to harboring negative feelings towards Jews and 28% of French Muslims do. Likewise in Germany, 22% of the general population acknowledges anti-Semitic views and 44% of German Muslims do.

More dangerously, the quantity of anti-Semitic attacks carried out by Muslims in the West far outstrips their percentage in the general population. According to Pew data, in 2010 Muslims comprised just 4.6% of the population of the UK but carried out 39% of the anti-Semitic attacks. Moreover, according to the Times Online, in 2006, 37% of British Muslims claimed that British Jews are legitimate targets for attacks. Only 30% of British Muslims disagreed.

With the overwhelming data showing that throughout the Arab world there is strong support for organizations and regimes which advocate the genocide of world Jewry, the American Jewish community could have been expected to devote the majority of its attention and resources to exposing and combating this existential threat. Just as the American Jewish community dedicated itself in the past to causes such as the liberation of Soviet Jewry and fighting neo-Nazi groups in the US and throughout the world, it could have been expected that from the Anti-Defamation League to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, that major American Jewish groups would be using the financial and human resources at their disposal to defend against this violent, genocidal hatred.

But this has not occurred. Many leading American Jewish organizations continue to be far more involved in combating the currently relatively benign anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church and Evangelical Christians than confronting the escalating dangers of Muslim anti-Semitism.

According to a Gallup poll released last month, 80% of American Jews have favorable views of American Muslims. Seventy percent believe that they are not supportive of al-Qaida. These data indicate that American Jews are second only to American Muslims in their support for Muslim Americans. Indeed 6% more American Jews than American Muslims believe that American Muslims face prejudice due to their religion.

American Jewish championing of American Muslims is disconcerting when compared with American Jewish treatment of the philo-Semitic Evangelical Christians. Matthew Knee discussed this issue in depth in a recent article published at the Legal Insurrection website.

In a 2003 Pew survey, 42% of American Jews expressed antagonism towards Evangelical Christians. In a 2004 American National Election Study, Jews on average rated Evangelical Christians at 30 out of 100 on a "feeling thermometer," where 1 was cold and 100 was hot.

A 2005 American Jewish Committee survey found that Jews assessed that following Muslims, Evangelical Christians have the highest propensity for being anti-Semites. And yet, in the same 2004 American National Election Survey, Evangelical Christians rated Jews an average of 82 on the 1- 100 feelings scale. Evangelical Christians rated Catholics at 80.

Consistent survey data show that levels of anti- Semitism among Evangelical Christians is either the same as or slightly lower than the national average. According to a 2007 ADL survey, the US average is 15%.

There is a clear disparity between survey data on anti-Semitism among various American ethnic groups and American Jews' assessment of the prevalence of anti-Semitism among the same groups. The AJC survey found that American Jews believed that 29% of Evangelicals are largely anti- Semitic. They assessed that only 7% of Hispanics and 19% of African-Americans are anti-Semites.

As it works out, their perceptions are completely incorrect. According to the 2007 ADL survey, foreign born Hispanics, and African-Americans, harbor significantly stronger anti-Semitic views than the national average. Twenty-nine percent of foreign born Hispanics harbor very anti-Semitic views. Thirty-two percent of African-Americans harbor deeply anti-Semitic views.

Like Jews, Hispanics, African-Americans and Muslims vote disproportionately for the Democratic Party. Evangelical Christians on the other hand, are reliably Republican. A 2009 survey on US anti- Semitism conducted by the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco found that Democrats are more likely to be anti-Semitic than Republicans.

The Gallup survey from last month showing American Jews' deep support for American Muslims is of particular interest because that support stands in stark contrast with survey data concerning American Jewish perception of Muslim American anti-Semitism.

The 2005 AJC survey showed that American Jews believe that 58% of American Muslims are anti- Semitic. That is, American Jews are Muslim Americans' strongest non-Muslim defenders at the same time they are convinced that most Muslim Americans are anti-Semites.

What can explain this counterintuitive behavior? And how can we account for the apparent pattern of incorrect Jewish perceptions of anti-Semitism among Evangelical Christians on the one hand and fellow Democrats on the other hand?

As Knee argues, the disparity may very well be due to partisan loyalties. The Democratic Party has openly engaged in fear mongering and demonization of Evangelical Christians in order to maintain Jewish loyalty to the party. Knee quotes then-Democratic national chairman Howard Dean's statement that "Jews should feel comfortable in being American Jews without being constrained from practicing their faith or be compelled to convert to another religion."

As for Muslims, Knee cites a press release from the National Jewish Democratic Council from March attacking Congressman Peter King's hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims. In the press release, the council claimed that such hearings "can and will" harm religious tolerance in America. That is, the council implied that by investigating the radicalization of American Muslims - and its concomitant transformation of American Muslims into supporters of the genocidal Jew-hatred endemic among radical Muslims worldwide - Rep. King is endangering Jews.

If American Jews are most concerned with being able to maintain their loyalty to the Democratic Party, then it makes sense for them to wildly exaggerate Evangelical anti-Semitism. It is reasonable for them to underestimate African-American and Hispanic anti-Semitism, and ignore the higher rates of anti-Semitism among Democrats than among Republicans. Moreover, it makes sense for them to follow their party's lead in failing to address the dangers of global Islamic anti- Semitism.

None of this makes sense, however, if American Jews are most concerned with defending Jews - in America and worldwide - from anti-Semitic sentiments and violence.

On Wednesday evening we begin our celebration of the New Year. Rosh Hashana marks a period of soul-searching among Jews. We are called upon at this time to account for our actions and our failures to act and to improve our faithfulness to our people, to our laws and to God.

It is possible that American Jews are simply unaware of the disparities between reality and their perceptions of reality. But it is the duty of all Jews to educate ourselves about the threats that reality poses to ourselves and our people.

At the UN last week, Abbas received accolades and applause from all quarters for his anti-Semitic assault on Jewish history and the Jewish state. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's remarks were applauded by Israel-supporters in the audience in the General Assembly.

As Israel is increasingly isolated and Jews worldwide are under attack, it is my prayer for the coming year that the American Jewish community will come to terms with a difficult reality and the choices it entails, and act with the majority of their fellow Americans to defend Israel and combat anti-Semitism in the US and throughout the world.
23594  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: September 29, 2011, 09:36:43 AM
By Scott Stewart
The 2011 Pan American Games will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from Oct. 14 through Oct. 30. The games will feature 36 different sports and will bring more than 6,000 athletes and tens of thousands of spectators to Mexico’s second-largest city. The Parapan American Games, for athletes with physical disabilities, will follow from Nov. 12 to Nov. 20.
Like the Olympics, the World Cup or any other large sporting event, planning for the Pan American Games in Guadalajara began when the city was selected to host them in 2006. Preparations have included the construction of new sports venues, an athletes’ village complex, hotels, highway and road infrastructure, and improvements to the city’s mass transit system. According to the coordinating committee, the construction and infrastructure improvements for the games have cost some $750 million.
The preparations included more than just addressing infrastructure concerns, however. Due to the crime environment in Mexico, security is also a very real concern for the athletes, sponsors and spectators who will visit Guadalajara during the games. The organizers of the games, the Mexican government and the governments of the 42 other participating countries also will be focused intensely on security in Guadalajara over the next two months.
In light of these security concerns, STRATFOR will publish a special report on the games Sept. 30. The report, of which this week’s Security Weekly is an abridged version, will provide our analysis of threats to the games.
Cartel Environment
Due to the violent and protracted conflicts between Mexico’s transnational criminal cartels and the incredible  levels of brutality that they have spawned, most visitors’ foremost security concern will be Mexico’s criminal cartels. The Aug. 20 incident in Torreon, Coahuila state, in which a firefight occurred outside of a stadium during a nationally televised soccer match, will reinforce perceptions of this danger. The concern is understandable, especially considering Guadalajara’s history as a cartel haven and recent developments in the region. Even so, we believe the cartels are unlikely to attack the games intentionally.
Historically, smuggling has been a way of life for criminal groups along the U.S.-Mexico border, and moving illicit goods across the border, whether alcohol, guns, narcotics or illegal immigrants, has long proved quite profitable for these groups. This profitability increased dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s as the flow of South American cocaine through the Caribbean was sharply cut due to improvements in maritime and aerial surveillance and interdiction. This change in enforcement directed a far larger percentage of the flow of cocaine through Mexico, greatly enriching the Mexican smugglers involved in the cocaine trade. The group of smugglers who benefited most from cocaine trade included Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo and Rafael Caro Quintero, who would go on to form a Guadalajara-based organization known as the Guadalajara cartel. That cartel became the most powerful narcotics smuggling organization in the country, and perhaps the world, controlling virtually all the narcotics smuggled into the United States from Mexico.
The Guadalajara cartel was dismantled during the U.S. and Mexican reaction to the 1985 kidnapping, torture and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique Camarena by the group. Smaller organizations emerged from its remains that eventually would become the Arellano Felix Organization (aka the Tijuana cartel), the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization (aka the Juarez cartel), the Gulf cartel and the Sinaloa Federation. The sheer number of major cartel organizations that came out of the Guadalajara cartel demonstrates the immense power and geographic reach the group once wielded.
Even after the demise of the Guadalajara cartel, Guadalajara continued to be an important city for drug smuggling operations due to its location in relation to Mexico’s highway and railroad system and its proximity to Mexico’s largest port, Manzanillo. The port is not just important to cocaine smuggling; it also has become an important point of entry for precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. For many years, the Sinaloa Federation faction headed by Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal was in charge of the Guadalajara plaza. Although Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco continued to be an important component of the cocaine trade, Coronel Villarreal became known as “the king of crystal” due to his organization’s heavy involvement in the meth trade.
Guadalajara remained firmly under Sinaloa control until the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) split off from Sinaloa following the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva in January 2008. This caused the Beltran Leyva Organization to ally itself with Los Zetas and to begin to attack Sinaloa’s infrastructure on Mexico’s Pacific coast. In April 2010, Coronel Villarreal’s 16-year-old son Alejandro was abducted and murdered. Like the murder of Edgar Guzman Beltran, the son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, the BLO and Los Zetas were thought to have been behind the murder of Coronel Villarreal’s son. In July 2010, Coronel Villarreal himself was killed during a shootout with the Mexican military in Zapopan, Jalisco state.
Coronel Villarreal’s death created a power vacuum in Guadalajara that several organizations attempted to fill due to the importance of Guadalajara and Jalisco to the smuggling of narcotics. One of these was La Familia Michoacana (LFM). LFM’s attempt to assume control of Guadalajara led to the rupture of the alliance between LFM and Sinaloa. (LFM has since fractured; the most powerful faction of that group is now called the Knights Templar.) The group now headed by Hector Beltran Leyva, which is called the Cartel Pacifico Sur, and its ally Los Zetas also continue to attempt to increase their influence over Guadalajara.
But the current fight for control of Guadalajara includes not only outsiders such as the Knights Templar and the CPS/Los Zetas but also the remnants of Coronel Villarreal’s network and what is left of the Milenio cartel (also known as the Valencia cartel) which has historically been very active in Guadalajara and Manzanillo. One portion of the former Milenio cartel is known as “La Resistencia” and has become locked in a vicious war with the most prominent group of Coronel’s former operatives, which is known as the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG). CJNG appears to have gotten the better of La Resistencia in this fight, and La Resistencia has recently allied itself with Los Zetas/CPS out of desperation.
In July, CJNG announced it was moving some of its forces to Veracruz to attack Los Zetas’ infrastructure there. This CJNG group in Veracruz began to call itself “Matazetas,” Spanish for “Zeta killers.” It is believed that the CJNG is responsible for the recent killings of low-level Zeta operators in Veracruz. Taken with the Los Zetas/La Resistencia alliance, the CJNG offensive in Veracruz means that if Los Zetas have the ability to strike against the CJNG infrastructure in Guadalajara, they will do so. Such strikes could occur in the next few weeks, and could occur during the games.
As illustrated by the recent body dumps in Veracruz, or the bodies dumped in Acapulco during Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s visit to that city in March, the Mexican cartels do like to perform a type of macabre theater in order to grab media attention. With the attention of the press turned toward Guadalajara, it would not be surprising if one or more cartel groups attempted some sort of body dump or other spectacle in Guadalajara during the games.
And given the ongoing fight for control of Guadalajara, it is quite likely that there will be some confrontations between the various cartel groups in the city during the games. However, such violence is not likely to be intentionally directed against the games. The biggest risk to athletes and spectators posed by the cartels comes from being in the wrong place at the wrong time; the cartels frequently employ fragmentation grenades and indiscriminate fire during shootouts with the authorities and rival cartels.
Crime
One of the side effects of the Mexican government’s war against the cartels is that as some cartels have been weakened by pressure from the government and their rivals, they have become less capable of moving large shipments of narcotics. This has made them increasingly reliant on other types of crime to supplement their income. Crime always has been a problem in Mexico, but activities such as robbery, kidnapping and extortion have gotten progressively worse in recent years. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Crime and Safety report for Guadalajara, crimes of all types have increased in the city. Indeed, due to the high levels of crime present in Mexico, athletes and spectators at the Pan American Games are far more likely to fall victim to common crime than they are to an act of cartel violence.
The Mexican government will employ some 10,000 police officers (to include 5,000 Federal Police officers) as well as hundreds of military personnel to provide protection to the athletes and venues associated with the Pan American Games. But when one considers that the Guadalajara metropolitan area contains some 4.4 million residents, and that there will be thousands of athletes and perhaps in excess of 100,000 spectators, the number of security personnel assigned to work the games is not as large as it might appear at first glance. Nevertheless, the authorities will be able to provide good security for the athletes’ village and the venues, and on the main travel routes, though they will not be able to totally secure the entire Guadalajara metropolitan area. Places outside the security perimeters where there is little security, and therefore a greater danger of criminal activity, will remain.
When visiting Guadalajara during the games, visitors are advised to be mindful of their surroundings and maintain situational awareness at all times in public areas. Visitors should never expose valuables, including wallets, jewelry, cell phones and cash, any longer than necessary. And they should avoid traveling at night, especially into areas of Guadalajara and the surrounding area that are away from the well-established hotels and sporting venues. Visitors will be most vulnerable to criminals while in transit to and from the venues, and while out on the town before and after events. Excessive drinking is also often an invitation to disaster in a high-crime environment.
As always, visitors to Mexico should maintain good situational awareness and take common-sense precautions to reduce the chances of becoming a crime victim. Pickpockets, muggers, counterfeit ticket scalpers, and express kidnappers all will be looking for easy targets during the games, and steps need to be taken to avoid them. Mexico has a problem with corruption, especially at lower levels of their municipal police forces, and so this must be taken into account when dealing with police officers.
While traditional kidnappings for ransom in Mexico are usually directed against well-established targets, express kidnappings can target anyone who appears to have money, and foreigners are often singled out for express kidnapping. Express kidnappers are normally content to drain the contents of the bank accounts linked to the victim’s ATM card, but in cases where there is a large amount of cash linked to the account and a small daily limit, an express kidnapping can turn into a protracted ordeal. Express kidnappings can also transform into a traditional kidnapping if the criminals discover the victim of their express kidnapping happens to be a high net worth individual.
It is also not uncommon for unregulated or “libre” taxi drivers in Mexico to be involved with criminal gangs who engage in armed robbery or express kidnapping, so visitors need to be careful only to engage taxi services from a regulated taxi stand or a taxi arranged via a hotel or restaurant, but even that is no guarantee.
Miscellaneous Threats
In addition to the threats posed by the cartels and other criminals, there are some other threats that must be taken into consideration. First, Guadalajara is located in a very active seismic area and earthquakes there are quite common, although most of them cannot be felt. Occasionally, big quakes will strike the city and visitors need to be mindful of how to react in an earthquake.
Fire is also a serious concern, especially in the developing world, and visitors to Guadalajara staying in hotels need to ensure that they know where the fire exits are and that those fire exits are not blocked or locked.
The traffic in Mexico’s cities is terrible and Guadalajara is no exception. Traffic congestion and traffic accidents are quite common.
Visitors to Mexico also need to be mindful of the poor water quality in the country and the possibility of contracting a water-borne illness from drinking the water or from eating improperly prepared food. Privately operated medical facilities in Mexico are well-equipped for all levels of medical care, and foreign visitors should choose private over public (government-operated) health care facilities. Private medical services can also stabilize a patient and facilitate a medical evacuation to another country (such as the United States) should the need arise.
In conclusion, the most dangerous organizations in Mexico have very little motivation or intent to hit the Pan American Games. The games are also at very low risk of being a target for international terrorism. The organizing committee, the Mexican government and the other governments that will be sending athletes to the games will be coordinating closely to ensure that the games pass without major incident. Because of this, the most likely scenario for an incident impacting an athlete or spectator will be common crime occurring away from the secure venues.

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23595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We may not want to hear this , , , on: September 29, 2011, 09:30:40 AM
WSJ:
Amid those dark political clouds overhead right now, President Barack Obama can console himself with this silver lining: The electoral map remains stacked in favor of him and his Democrats.

In a close presidential election—and there is every reason to believe that 2012's will be—that is an important and often overlooked fundamental. It will affect the strategic decisions both parties make as the campaign unfolds. Indeed, the shape of the electoral map already appears to be driving some moves this year, and offers signposts indicating which states will be pivotal next year.

 President Obama can console himself with the fact that the electoral map remains stacked in favor of him and his Democrats. Jerry Seib explains why on The News Hub.
.The important thing to remember about a presidential election is that it isn't a contest to win the popular vote nationwide. It is a contest to win in a combination of states that will produce the 270 votes in the electoral college that give a candidate the majority there.

Therein lies the Democrats' built-in advantage. They happen to start with a bloc of reliably blue states that is larger, and much richer in electoral votes, than the reliably red bloc Republicans have on their side. If a Democratic presidential candidate merely hangs on to this trove of deep-blue states, he or she is a long way down the road to victory.

Specifically, there are 18 states plus the District of Columbia that have voted Democratic in all five presidential elections since 1992. Combined, they carry 242 electoral votes—90% of the votes needed for victory.

Republicans have a much smaller bloc of highly reliable electoral college votes. There are just 13 states that have gone red in each of the last five elections, and they deliver 102 electoral votes, less than half of the number needed.

Electoral Advantage
View Interactive
.See how states' electoral college votes have been cast since 1992.

More photos and interactive graphics
.That means the key to victory for President Obama is holding this blue line. Doing so will be significantly harder this year, because he is running amid economic distress of a magnitude unseen in any of those five previous elections. But if he manages to hold his party's blue base, he would need to pick off only a few more less-friendly states.

The most likely additional states for the Democrats are the five—Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada and Ohio—that have gone Democratic in either three or four of the last five elections. If President Obama carries all of these light-blue states, while hanging on to all the deepest-blue states, he will have 281 electoral votes, 11 more than he needs.

And that, it should be noted, would be without having to win the giant swing state of Florida, or needing to hold on to the normally red states of Virginia and North Carolina that Mr. Obama won in 2008.

So the question for Republicans is pretty simple: Which of the deep-blue or blue-leaning states can they pick off? Know the answer to that question and you'll know where the 2012 action will be.

Indeed, the president faces problems in some of those deep-blue states, which suggests that the wall can be breached. "Recent history aside, Obama will have to work hard to keep the Democratic base intact in 2012," political analyst Rhodes Cook wrote in a recent newsletter examining the electoral map. "Not only does it include states on the two coasts, but also industrial battlegrounds such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin."

The president's job-approval rating was below 50% in both California and Pennsylvania in recent polls, for example.

Another state that jumps out as a particular trouble spot is Wisconsin. Republican Gov. Scott Walker won the governor's seat there in 2010, and his blunt confrontation with public-employee unions has energized conservatives—and aroused liberals. How that translates into presidential politics is crucial.

Among the light-blue states, Iowa and New Hampshire both offer GOP opportunities. But big Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, is the juiciest target for Republicans among the light-blue states. Notably, the president's job-approval rating in Ohio stood just below 50% in a summertime Quinnipiac University poll.

Even if the president keeps all of the dark-blue states and all of the other light-blue states, take Ohio out of his column and he comes up seven electoral votes short.


Where could he make up those votes? Here's a good guess: Colorado, a swing state Mr. Obama won in 2008 after it went Republican in three of the previous four elections. It just happens to have nine electoral votes. Take out Ohio and plug in Colorado, and the president just squeaks by.

It's easy to see how these electoral calculations already are playing out, by watching where Democrats are focusing their energies and where President Obama is spending his time. It's no coincidence that both Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were in light-blue Ohio in the past week. On Tuesday, the president arrives in Colorado, trying to shore up his standing in that potentially crucial swing state.

23596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Growing Latino Vote on: September 29, 2011, 09:26:51 AM


By JONATHAN WEISMAN
WOODBRIDGE, Va.—The surging Hispanic population in several states that figure to be crucial to the outcome of next year's election is prompting an early scramble by both parties to influence Hispanic voters.

The trend is particularly important to President Barack Obama, who has seen his support among white voters sag, putting his hold on several swing states in danger. He is ramping up an urgent effort to win support from Latinos, while Republicans are trying to build on doubts among them about his stewardship of the economy.

In Florida, the nation's largest presidential swing state, the voting-age Hispanic population grew by nearly 250,000 people between 2008 and 2010, census data show. By contrast, the voting-age white population grew by 30,400.

Nevada added more than 44,000 voting-age Hispanics over the same period, more than double the increase of 18,000 voting-age whites. And in New Mexico, the voting-age Hispanic total rose by more than 36,000, outpacing the growth among whites of just over 19,000.

Mr. Obama won all three states in 2008—and two-thirds of Hispanic voters nationwide—but he's now facing headwinds. Hispanic unemployment stands at 11.3%, higher than the 9.1% rate for the nation as a whole. And the president has failed to deliver a promised overhaul of immigration laws that would include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

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Close.Some swing states added more white adults than Hispanic adults. But a meaningful rise in voting-age Hispanics also gives Mr. Obama an opportunity. He won North Carolina, for example, by more than 14,000 votes. About 54,400 additional voting-age Hispanics have come to the state between 2008 and 2010, census data show.

Mr. Obama's re-election campaign is starting a broad canvassing effort, reaching from traditional Hispanic communities to suburban areas where a Hispanic surge is relatively new. Hispanic-to-Hispanic phone banks are being set up in New Mexico and Nevada. Latino student outreach is also beginning.

From the White House, the president on Wednesday conducted an online roundtable on Hispanic issues. A day earlier, he spoke at a predominantly Hispanic high school in Denver.

Republicans aren't leaving the field open to the president. The first television ad of the presidential campaign from American Crossroads, a GOP-allied independent group, ran in Spanish and English in July, about the same time as Spanish-language radio ads from the Republican National Committee.

"I supported President Obama because he spoke so beautifully, but since then things have gone from bad to much worse," said a female character in the English version of the American Crossroads ad.

Mr. Obama implored Latinos at the Wednesday event to register and vote in order to claim their full voice in the political process. "We still have not seen the kinds of participation levels that are necessary to match up the numbers with actual political power," he said, in comments translated into Spanish.

America in 2010
See details on the concentration of Hispanics and other racial groups by county, nationwide.


 .More photos and interactive graphics
.Polling explains why the push is coming so early in the president's re-election effort: Mr. Obama's support among whites has sunk. Only 35% of white adults approved of his job performance in August. Six months into his presidency, 49% had approved of his job performance, Wall Street Journal/NBC News surveys show. Hispanics view him more favorably: 57% approved of Mr. Obama in August, down from 71% in June 2009.

Here in Virginia, which Mr. Obama carried in 2008, two-thirds of white voters disapproved of his job performance in a recent poll. That is one reason that, in suburbs like this one, his re-election campaign is recruiting Latino neighborhood captains, canvassing coordinators, phone-bank hosts and data-management coordinators.

In Jill Borak's Woodbridge living room, Keisy Chavez, a Obama campaign Latino outreach coordinator, was training new recruit Chepita Jovel last week as the two worked their way down call sheets of Spanish-sounding surnames. Flipping between English and Spanish, they worked the phones and cajoled former volunteers to work once again for the president.

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.But generating enthusiasm could be a challenge, due to higher unemployment today and no overhaul of immigration laws for the president to campaign on. A less-ambitious effort to provide illegal immigrant children a route to citizenship through service and study also has foundered. "People are discouraged," said Ms. Chavez, a life-insurance saleswoman by day. "But you know, it's just like in sales. You say, 'I understand why you feel like that,' and you bring them along."

One potentially encouraging sign for Mr. Obama: The Census Bureau reported Wednesday that Latinos made up 7% of voters in 2010, the highest percentage for a nonpresidential election since the bureau began collecting such data.

At the same time, the Obama administration's Department of Homeland Security has deported more than one million illegal immigrants in three years, putting him on pace to deport more in one term than George W. Bush did in two. That has done nothing to win over conservatives, but it has done much to sour many Latino voters.

"I think there is a Latino problem right now for the president," said Walter Tejada, a Democrat and member of the Arlington County board of supervisors and one of the most prominent Hispanic politicians in the area. "There's a disenchantment, and there's definitely an enthusiasm gap. It's very real."

Republicans are focusing on that in ads in key states. "The No. 1 issue facing Hispanics today is the number one issue facing everyone else—jobs and the economy," said Whit Ayres, who has been polling Hispanic voters for a Latino outreach effort by Resurgent Republic, another GOP group.

Mr. Obama may have one thing going for him: By huge majorities, Hispanic voters favor immigration bills that have languished since the Bush administration, and they largely blame the GOP for their failure, according to a new poll of Hispanic voters by Resurgent Republic.

Some Republicans see that as a serious problem. They argue that the GOP has a wide opening to win Hispanic votes in a year when economic issues are trumping all others, and they believe Latinos, who tend to be Catholic and include many small-business owners, should be as open to the party's low-tax, culturally conservative message as are other voters.

But many Latinos read the GOP's call for tough illegal immigration laws as an affront.

Some Republican campaign consultants have quietly hoped immigration issues would drop from the current presidential debate, allowing the economic argument to dominate.

But in recent days, the opposite has happened as Republican front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have sparred at debates over a law the Texas governor signed granting in-state university tuition to illegal immigrants.

Mr. Romney has called the law a magnet for illegal immigration. When Mr. Perry suggested at a recent debate that the law's critics had no heart, the backlash among conservative voters was harsh.

"The message from the Resurgent Republic poll for Republicans is to be extremely careful of their tone when talking about immigration," Mr. Ayres said. "It is critically important for Republicans discussing immigration reform not to come across as anti-Hispanic."

The Republican economic message doesn't appear to be resonating among Hispanics, either. Resurgent Republic asked Hispanics in Florida, Colorado and New Mexico whether they agreed that the best way to improve the economy was to increase government investment in job training, education and infrastructure, or by reining in government spending, lowering taxes and reducing excessive regulations.

In Colorado, a swing state, 56% sided with more government spending, as Mr. Obama has proposed, while 37% sided with less government, as Republicans propose. In Florida, the spread was 52% to 40%. In New Mexico, it was 59%-30%.

23597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Changes on: September 29, 2011, 12:46:22 AM


A Change in the Afghan War
Related Link
•   Foundations: Pakistan’s Muslim Identity Crisis
In an interview published in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen reiterated his view that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate provided support for the  Haqqani network. And he continued to juxtapose Haqqani attacks on American troops and American targets with the ISI’s “strategic support” for the group.
The interview was released as Mullen’s final testimony before Congress last week continued to elicit reactions. It was during this testimony — not a setting in which casual comments usually slip out — that he explicitly connected the ISI to Haqqani. During Mullen’s tenure as America’s top military officer, he traveled to Pakistan more than two dozen times and maintained close relations with Islamabad’s senior military leadership. Despite attempts in Washington to moderate his testimony, and anger and denials from Pakistan, we can be sure that Mullen chose his words carefully — a point that Wednesday’s interview further underscores.
“The U.S.-Pakistani relationship has begun to change in a fundamental way.”
The U.S.-Pakistani relationship has begun to change in a fundamental way. The United States and its allies are leaving Afghanistan. The peak of military operations there — itself intended as an attempt to shape the circumstances for a withdrawal — has already passed. A new officer, U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, has been put in charge of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan not to perpetuate the counterinsurgency-focused strategy of David Petraeus.
The move to an exit from Afghanistan is not immediate, but it is inexorable. Washington’s only long-term strategic interest in Central Asia is to deny it as sanctuary to transnational terrorist groups like al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has been defeated in Afghanistan and Washington is moving from a position of needing Pakistani territory to logistically facilitate a surge and ongoing military operations, to one where it requires Pakistan to ensure that Afghanistan will never again serve as a staging ground for attacks against American interests.
Mullen did not recently discover Pakistani connections with Haqqani, or the Taliban in general. They have always existed — Pakistan was instrumental in creating the Taliban and ensuring their ascendancy — and it was never in Islamabad’s interest to sever them. Those ties served as a fundamental means of ensuring Pakistani leverage in Afghanistan. What changed is what the United States needs from Pakistan. The United States’ willingness to overlook Pakistani actions against its interests, in exchange for the cooperation necessary for operational expediency, has ended.
Already, the United States has quietly moved its logistical burden onto the Northern Distribution Route — an astonishingly long and tedious alternative traversing Russia and Central Asia to Pakistan — so much so that only about a third of supplies and fuel continue to reach Afghanistan via the port of Karachi and Pakistani refineries. But as the total number of foreign troops continues to decline, excess stockpiles are burned through, austerity measures take effect and the tempo of combat operations declines, the point at which the war in Afghanistan can be sustained independent of Pakistan is fast approaching.
This is a remarkable inflection point. Washington’s logistical vulnerability and reliance on Islamabad has left combat operations in Afghanistan hostage to Pakistan, which has been a defining dynamic of the war. To sustain the large-scale combat operations, the United States had been forced to tolerate Pakistani support for hostile forces in Afghanistan. Mullen’s testimony last Thursday and the interview this Wednesday reflect a change in the rules.
Whether Pakistan is capable of adjusting course and satisfying new American demands — even if it wants to — is unclear. But with the American exit on the horizon and the twilight of logistical reliance on Pakistan at hand, the rules of the game have undergone perhaps their most fundamental change since the beginning of the war.
23598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Son of Solyndra: Crony Socialism on: September 28, 2011, 10:41:27 PM
Pasting here CCP's post from the Cognitive Dissonance thread.

Crony Socialism: Obama Gives $737 Million to Solar Firm Linked to the Pelosi Clan
Posted by Jim Hoft on Wednesday, September 28, 2011, 12:14 PM
 
It’s as if Solyndra never happened. The Obama Administration is giving $737 million to a Tonopah Solar, a subsidiary of California-based SolarReserve. PCG is an investment partner with SolarReserve. Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law happens to be the number two man at PCG.

Team Obama is spending $737 million to create 45 permanent jobs.
The Hill reported, via Free Republic:

The Energy Department announced Wednesday that is has finalized a $737 million loan guarantee for a Nevada solar project.

The decision comes several weeks after a California-based solar manufacturer that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration in 2009 filed for bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 workers, setting off a firestorm in Washington.

The $737 million loan guarantee will help finance construction of the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110-megawatt solar-power-generating facility in Nye County, Nev. The project is sponsored by Tonopah Solar, a subsidiary of California-based SolarReserve.

Crescent Dunes is the latest solar project to receive a loan guarantee from the Energy Department in recent weeks. The department announced a $1.2 billion loan guarantee to Abengoa Solar for a solar generation project in California and a $150 million loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies for a Massachusetts solar manufacturing project earlier this month.

The Energy Department says the project will result in 600 construction jobs and 45 permanent jobs.

23599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 28, 2011, 10:37:40 PM
Miller is hip, wickedly funny, and a rather serious and astute political observer who is roughly a right wing Jon Stewart.  This is an excellent endorsement for Cain.

FOX tonight is reporting that Romney (working from memory here) is 23%, Perry 17%, Cain 14% and Gingrich 11% Huntsman at 6% now doubles Bachman's 3%.  These shifts seem significant to me.  Cain is now getting serious attention, and breaking into double digits is really good news for Newt too.
23600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 28, 2011, 10:33:37 PM
What specious sophistry!  tongue angry tongue  Sorry but I cannot be bothered to dignify it with a response. tongue
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