Dog Brothers Public Forum

HOME | PUBLIC FORUM | MEMBERS FORUM | INSTRUCTORS FORUM | TRIBE FORUM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 01, 2016, 06:57:20 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
94248 Posts in 2307 Topics by 1081 Members
Latest Member: Martel
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 470 471 [472] 473 474 ... 731
23551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 07, 2010, 11:03:35 AM
The Washington Times suggests a solution:

"[W]hile millionaire athletes become walking billboards for a political cause, the state of Arizona might want to review the terms of its relationship with the Suns. If Mr. Sarver wants to use his team to push a political agenda, perhaps citizens can push back. Imagine Phoenix residents channeling the spirits of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. by turning up en masse to Suns games, sneaking in without tickets, demanding special services like free food and access to box seats, overtaxing arena security and ruining the game for the people with tickets. They can call it a celebration of diversity."
We might add that if you give birth at a game, you get lifetime season tickets for the anchor baby. Or maybe the Suns should stick to basketball. Just a thought.
23552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / P. Henry 1775 on: May 07, 2010, 10:31:46 AM
"The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave." --Patrick Henry, speech at the Virginia Convention, 1775
23553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: May 07, 2010, 08:53:00 AM
If the money escapes, to where does it go?
23554  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 07, 2010, 08:50:56 AM
@SG:  Well I'm glad you had a good day of it yesterday, it scared the beejeezus out of me shocked  Fortunately I was, and am, 60% in cash.  An excrement storm cometh.

I am grateful I was 60% in cash yesterday.
23555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Awake on: May 07, 2010, 08:46:03 AM
By Tzvi Freeman
Just as we learn to walk by falling down, so we learn to be awake by groping in the dark.

When there is no support, no brightness to keep us on our toes, when we are all on our own, that is when we learn to be awake.

Truly awake—not because it is day, but because we are awake.

23556  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Door Work, Bouncing, Bodyguarding on: May 06, 2010, 09:34:58 PM
This clip inspires me to start this thread:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWfetF1jCO4&feature=related
23557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Violent movie declares war on AZ immigration law on: May 06, 2010, 06:08:07 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/05/06/violent-movie-declares-war-arizona-immigration-law/

 

Updated May 06, 2010

Violent Movie Declares War on Arizona for Immigration Law
FOXNews.com



YouTube

An image from the trailer for 'Machete,' a revenge flick that centers on an assassination plot against an anti-immigration U.S. senator.

A violent new film from cult director Robert Rodriguez is declaring war on Arizona with a "special Cinco De Mayo message" in the wake of the state's controversial illegal immigration law.

That message is: "They just f---ed with the wrong Mexican."

"Machete," which features a knife-wielding Mexican assassin out for revenge against double-crossing gringos, won't be in theaters until September, but it is already sparking a political melee over Wednesday's stab at the Grand Canyon State.

In the trailer for the film, the title character is hired to assassinate an anti-immigration U.S. senator played by Robert De Niro. Protesters are seen waving nationalist signs as the senator speaks to a charged-up rally: "We are at war," he booms. "Every time an illegal dances across our border, it is an act of aggression against this sovereign state — an overt act of terrorism."

But before the trailer even begins, the battle-scarred title character stares out from the screen as he tells viewers that what's about to unfold — an immigration-laced slasher grindhouse flick — is about the current border battle in Arizona.

Click here to see the video.

The trailer was released Wednesday, just 24 hours after an envelope filled with a still-undetermined white powder was sent to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, temporarily closing the State Capitol in Phoenix. The powder spilled out when a staffer opened it Tuesday morning, sending Hazmat teams scrambling through the governor's offices. No one was sickened, but state police and the FBI are investigating the incident.

It was just the latest development in a debate that is growing more rancorous by the minute.

Some outspoken critics of illegal immigration took umbrage at the movie trailer and its swipe at Arizona, which is the entry point for one-third of all illegal immigrants in the U.S.

"It's pretty ugly out there," said former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, a staunch advocate of tougher immigration laws. "Half the time that's the way all of us are depicted: corrupt, no good, racist."

Tancredo, who served in the House from 1999-2009, said he received "tons of death threats" while in office and frequently wore a bulletproof vest during public speeches. Though the language of the film is nothing new to him, he said he still finds it offensive.

"The racists who made that trailer, they are as racist as anything I have ever seen" from either side of the immigration debate, Tancredo said.

But, he added, "these guys are 'politically correct' racists, so you cannot heap indignities upon them."

In "Machete," the protagonist, played by Danny Trejo, is a former Mexican Federale now looking for work as a day laborer in Texas. He charges $70 a day for yard work, but an oily businessman makes him an offer he can't refuse: $150,000 to take out a senator bent on deporting illegal immigrants.

"As you know, illegal Americans are being forced out of our country at an alarming rate," says the contractor. "For the good of both our people, the senator must die."

The film, which is set to be released Sept. 3, is produced by 20th Century Fox, a production company owned by Fox News' parent company, News Corp.

20th Century Fox said that Rodriguez speaks for himself on political issues. The studio was comfortable with the release of the movie trailer on Cinco De Mayo, but says it has no political stake in the immigration debate.

Representatives for Rodriguez did not return requests for comment. But the head of the production studio handling the international release of the film said "Machete" is a classic grindhouse picture typical of the man who made "Desperado" and "Sin City."

"'Machete' is a Robert Rodriguez movie through and through, wild and wonderful, exactly the kind of exciting and irreverent genre movie that his fans dream about," Ashok Amritraj, CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment, said in an interview with Variety Magazine.

De Niro, playing the senator, fits many familiar tropes about the Southwest: he's a gun-toting, Stetson hat-wearing, flag pin-blazing cowboy from Texas.

He and Trejo are joined by a number of stars: Cheech Marin plays a shotgun-shooting warrior priest, Lindsay Lohan plays the senator's Patty Hearst-like daughter and Don Johnson, as a sheriff, growls that "there's nothing I'd like more than to see more than that Mexican dance the bolero at the end of a rope."

Jessica Alba, a border patrol agent, rallies a group of laborers while crying, "We didn't cross the border — the border crossed us!"

Tancredo, who argued that the film should not be distributed at all, said he wasn't worried the movie would incite any violence, but that its political message was clear.

"I think it is a true reflection of exactly who these people are and what they think about America," he said.
23558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fannie and Freddie Forever on: May 06, 2010, 10:50:24 AM
Morning Bell: Fannie and Freddie Failure Forever

Posted By Conn Carroll On May 6, 2010 @ 9:29 am In Enterprise and Free Markets | No Comments

Yesterday, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) told reporters [1] about his financial regulation bill, “We’ve ended the ‘too big to fail’ debate. So no longer do I expect any argument to be made that this bill exposes the American taxpayer.” Really. Someone might want to tell Sen. Dodd that in other news yesterday, Freddie Mac announced [2] that it lost another $6.7 billion in the first quarter of 2010 and therefore needed another $10.6 billion in cash from U.S. taxpayers. Since formally nationalizing Freddie in 2008, the federal government has already spent $50.7 billion bringing the Freddie bailout total to $61.3 billion so far. Combined with Fannie Mae’s raid on the Treasury, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the American people will spend $389 billion bailing out the two Government Sponsored Entities by 2019. So much for American taxpayers no longer being exposed to “too big to fail.”

In fact, nothing in the Dodd bill does anything to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This despite the fact that Fannie and Freddie were key components [3] in causing the very financial crises Dodd claims his bill will forever prevent. Fannie and Freddie were both created for the specific purpose of making it easier for Americans to buy more expensive housing. Starting in 1993 [4], political forces pushed Fannie and Freddie to loosen their once strict loan purchasing requirements. By 1996, regulations required that 40% of all Fannie and Freddie-bought loans [4] must come from individuals with below median incomes. In 1995, Fannie and Freddie began buying subprime securities [5] originally bought and bundled by private firms. One of these firms was Countrywide Financial who, thanks to their status as Fannie Mae’s biggest customer [6], delivered investors a 23,000% return between 1985 and 2003. [7] By 2004, Fannie and Freddie were purchasing $175 billion worth of subprime securities per year from Countrywide and their brethren…  a 44% share of the entire market [5]. There are other factors that helped contribute to the 2008 financial crisis [3], but Fannie and Freddie’s use of their “too big to fail” status to create and grow the subprime security market was essential.

But Sen. Dodd, who received V.I.P. treatment from Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo [8], never saw any problem with Fannie and Freddie. On July 13, 2008, Senator Dodd said on national television [5], “To suggest somehow that [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] are in trouble is simply not accurate.” Less than two months later the bailouts of Fannie and Freddie began. Keep these facts in mind when Dodd says his bill solves the “too big to fail” problem.

The problems with the Dodd bill go beyond its failure to let Fannie and Freddie wither into extinction [9]. While Dodd has agreed to get rid of the $50 billion bailout fund, the underlying bailout authority still remains. Now taxpayers are expected to front the government money while firms are liquidated. But the irresponsible creditors who let those firms borrow money irresponsibly would still be eligible for taxpayer bailouts. According to The Washington Post [10], “a failing firm would be forced to pay back the government any money they received above what they would have gotten under a bankruptcy proceeding.” But how does the government know what creditors would have got if the company went into bankruptcy? Why not just strengthen the existing bankruptcy system [11] and actually allow these too big to fail firms to, ya know, fail?

But Dodd and the Obama administration would never allow that. It would defeat the whole purpose this financial regulation bill, which is to transfer as much power to the federal government as possible. Never mind that these are the same government regulators who failed to see the last crisis coming.

Quick Hits:

Protesters objecting to the cuts in government wages and pensions [12] necessary to secure $141 billion in loans for Greece from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund turned violent yesterday.
The European commission forecasts that the United Kingdom’s budget deficit is set to surpass Greece [13]’s as worst in the European Union.
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo at the White House, President Barack Obama promised to press for amnesty for illegal immigrants [14] this year.
The Federal Communications Commission announced yesterday that for the first time in its history, the federal government will try to regulate the Internet [15].
Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) plan to use the BP oil spill [16] to push their energy tax bill next week.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/05/06/morning-bell-fannie-and-freddie-failure-forever/

URLs in this post:

[1] told reporters: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36821.html

[2] announced: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/05/AR2010050505227.html

[3] key components: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2009/10/Understanding-the-Great-Global-Contagion-and-Recession

[4] 1993: http://www.huduser.org/datasets/GSE/gse2001.pdf

[5] 1995, Fannie and Freddie began buying subprime securities: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/09/AR2008060902626_pf.html

[6] Fannie Mae’s biggest customer: http://www.forbes.com/markets/2008/09/08/bofa-bailout-winner-markets-equity-cx_md_0908markets32.html

[7] delivered investors a 23,000% return between 1985 and 2003.: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2003/09/15/349151/index.htm

[8] who received V.I.P. treatment from Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo: http://blog.heritage.org/2008/06/13/the-countrywide-bailout-explained/

[9] let Fannie and Freddie wither into extinction: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2008/09/Fannie-and-Freddie-Time-to-Clean-up-the-Mess-and-Move-Forward

[10] The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/05/AR2010050504164.html

[11] strengthen the existing bankruptcy system: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Commentary/2010/04/A-BETTER-WAY-TO-AVOID-BAILOUTS

[12] cuts in government wages and pensions: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/05/AR2010050505360.html

[13] United Kingdom’s budget deficit is set to surpass Greece: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/may/05/uk-budget-deficit-worse-than-greece

[14] amnesty for illegal immigrants: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/96311-obama-calls-for-immigration-reform-criticizes-ariz-law

[15] the federal government will try to regulate the Internet: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/technology/06broadband.html?ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=print

[16] plan to use the BP oil spill: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36837.html
23559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: May 06, 2010, 08:49:39 AM
Gail Collins is an arch liberal progressive columnist for Pravda on the Hudson, the NYT, but what do we make of the question presented here?

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

Congress, Up in Arms
By GAIL COLLINS
Published: May 5, 2010
There seems to be a strong sentiment in Congress that the only constitutional right suspected terrorists have is the right to bear arms.

“I think you’re going too far here,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday. He was speaking in opposition to a bill that would keep people on the F.B.I. terrorist watch list from buying guns and explosives.
Say what?

Yes, if you are on the terrorist watch list, the authorities can keep you from getting on a plane but not from purchasing an AK-47. This makes sense to Congress because, as Graham accurately pointed out, “when the founders sat down and wrote the Constitution, they didn’t consider flying.”

The subject of guns turns Congress into a twilight zone. People who are perfectly happy to let the government wiretap phones go nuts when the government wants to keep track of weapons permits. A guy who stands up in the House and defends the torture of terror suspects will nearly faint with horror at the prospect of depriving someone on the watch list of the right to purchase a pistol.

“We make it so easy for dangerous people to get guns. If it’s the Second Amendment, it doesn’t matter if they’re Osama bin Laden,” said Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Graham wanted to make it clear that just because he doesn’t want to stop gun purchases by possible terrorists, that doesn’t mean he’s not tough on terror.

“I am all into national security. ... I want to stop reading these guys their Miranda rights,” he said.

The Obama administration has been criticized by many Republicans for having followed the rules about how long you can question a terror suspect before you read him his rights. These objections have been particularly loud since the arrest of Faisal Shahzad in the attempted Times Square bombing. No one seems moved by the fact that Shahzad, after being told that he had the right to remain silent, continued talking incessantly.

“Nobody in their right mind would expect a Marine to read someone caught on the battlefield their rights,” Graham said.

Terror threats make politicians behave somewhat irrationally. But the subject of guns makes them act like a paranoid mother ferret protecting her litter. The National Rifle Association, the fiercest lobby in Washington, grades every member of Congress on how well they toe the N.R.A. line. Lawmakers with heavily rural districts would rather vote to legalize carrying concealed weapons in kindergarten than risk getting less than 100 percent.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on “Terrorists and Guns: The Nature of the Threat and Proposed Reforms,” concerned a modest bill sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. It would allow the government to stop gun sales to people on the F.B.I. terror watch list the same way it does people who have felony convictions. Because Congress has repeatedly rejected this idea, 1,119 people on the watch list have been able to purchase weapons over the last six years. One of them bought 50 pounds of military grade explosives.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and his police commissioner, Ray Kelly, dutifully trekked down to Washington to plead for the bill on behalf of the nation’s cities. The only thing they got for their trouble was praise for getting the city through the Times Square incident in one piece. And almost everyone had a good word for the T-shirt vendor who first noticed the suspicious car and raised an alert. Really, if someone had introduced a bill calling for additional T-shirt vendors, it would have sailed through in a heartbeat.

Gun legislation, not so popular.

Lautenberg’s bill has been moldering in committee, and that is not going to change.

“Let me emphasize that none of us wants a terrorist to be able to purchase a gun,” said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who nevertheless went on to argue against allowing the government to use the terrorist watch list to keep anyone from being able to purchase, um, a gun.

“Some of the people pushing this idea are also pushing the idea of banning handguns,” said Graham, darkly. “I don’t think banning handguns makes me safer.”

The terrorist watch list is huge, and some of the names on it are undoubtedly there in error. The bill would allow anyone denied the right to purchase a firearm an appeal process, but that would deprive the would-be purchaser some precious gun-owning time. Before we subject innocent Americans “to having to go into court and pay the cost of going to court to get their gun rights back, I want to slow down and think about this,” said Graham.

Slow is going to be very slow, and the thinking could go on for decades.
23560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Zombie Bureaucrats end run court decision on: May 06, 2010, 08:34:57 AM
Endrunning the recent court decision?
======
By AMY SCHATZ
WASHINGTON—In a move that will stoke a battle over the future of the Internet, the federal government plans to propose regulating broadband lines under decades-old rules designed for traditional phone networks.

The decision, by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, is likely to trigger a vigorous lobbying battle, arraying big phone and cable companies and their allies on Capitol Hill against Silicon Valley giants and consumer advocates.

Breaking a deadlock within his agency, Mr. Genachowski is expected Thursday to outline his plan for regulating broadband lines. He wants to adopt "net neutrality" rules that require Internet providers like Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. to treat all traffic equally, and not to slow or block access to websites.

The decision has been eagerly awaited since a federal appeals court ruling last month cast doubt on the FCC's authority over broadband lines, throwing into question Mr. Genachowski's proposal to set new rules for how Internet traffic is managed. The court ruled the FCC had overstepped when it cited Comcast in 2008 for slowing some customers' Internet traffic.

In a nod to such concerns, the FCC said in a statement that Mr. Genachowski wouldn't apply the full brunt of existing phone regulations to Internet lines and that he would set "meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach."

Some senior Democratic lawmakers provided Mr. Genachowski with political cover for his decision Wednesday, suggesting they wouldn't be opposed to the FCC taking the re-regulation route towards net neutrality protections.



"The Commission should consider all viable options," wrote Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, W.V.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D, Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a letter.

At stake is how far the FCC can go to dictate the way Internet providers manage traffic on their multibillion-dollar networks. For the past decade or so, the FCC has maintained a mostly hands-off approach to Internet regulation.  Internet giants like Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc., which want to offer more Web video and other high-bandwidth services, have called for stronger action by the FCC to assure free access to websites.  Cable and telecommunications executives have warned that using land-line phone rules to govern their management of Internet traffic would lead them to cut billions of capital expenditure for their networks, slash jobs and go to court to fight the rules.

Consumer groups hailed the decision Wednesday, an abrupt change from recent days, when they'd bombarded the FCC chairman with emails and phone calls imploring him to fight phone and cable companies lobbyists.

"On the surface it looks like a win for Internet companies," said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus. "A lot will depend on the details of how this gets implemented."

Mr. Genachowski's proposal will have to go through a modified inquiry and rule-making process that will likely take months of public comment. But Ms. Arbogast said the rule is likely to be passed since it has the support of the two other Democratic commissioners. 

President Barack Obama vowed during his campaign to support regulation to promote so-called net neutrality, and received significant campaign contributions from Silicon Valley. Mr. Genachowski, a Harvard Law School buddy of the president, proposed new net neutrality rules as his first major action as FCC chairman.

Telecom executives say privately that limits on their ability to change pricing would make it harder to convince shareholders that the returns from spending billions of dollars on improving a network are worth the cost.  Carriers fear further regulation could handcuff their ability to cope with the growing demand put on their networks by the explosion in Internet and wireless data traffic. In particular, they worry that the FCC will require them to share their networks with rivals at government-regulated rates.

Mike McCurry, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton and co-chair of the Arts + Labs Coalition, an industry group representing technology companies, telecom companies and content providers, said the FCC needs to assert some authority to back up the general net neutrality principles it outlined in 2005.

"The question is how heavy a hand will the regulatory touch be," he said. "We don't know yet, so the devil is in the details. The network operators have to be able to treat some traffic on the Internet different than other traffic—most people agree that web video is different than an email to grandma. You have to discriminate in some fashion."

UBS analyst John Hodulik said the cable companies and carriers were likely to fight this in court "for years" and could accelerate their plans to wind down investment in their broadband networks.

"You could have regulators involved in every facet of providing Internet over time. How wholesale and prices are set, how networks are interconnected and requirements that they lease out portions of their network," he said.
23561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Infiltrating Jihad on: May 06, 2010, 08:26:11 AM
Second post of the day:

WSJ: Infiltrating Jihad
By JOEL STONINGTON
After the failed attempt to bomb Times Square, New York police are dispatching more officers to be seen on the streets, around landmarks and on subways. But there's one tactic they hope won't go noticed at all: getting inside the bands of terrorists-in-the-making.

That's why a young Bangladeshi immigrant working undercover found himself among a dozen men at an Islamic bookstore in Brooklyn one day in 2004 to watch videos of U.S. soldiers being slain.

"That made these guys pumped up and happy," the officer said. "It's like a party at a club. They were hitting the walls with excitement. One guy even broke a chair."

Among the revelers: Shahawar Matin Siraj, who would be sentenced in January 2007 to 30 years in prison for an August 2004 plot to blow up Herald Square. "He loved talking about doing jihad," said the officer.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the undercover officer described four years embedded with Brooklyn radicals, a stint which began a few months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and ended with his testimony at Mr. Siraj's trial in mid-2006. Police and the officer declined to make his identity public. In court records in the trial of Mr. Siraj, he was identified by his undercover name, Kamil Pasha.

David Cohen, deputy commissioner for intelligence of the New York Police Department, said such undercover operations have become the city's main defense amid the escalation of threats and plots since the attack on the World Trade Center nearly a decade ago.

The 30-year-old officer spent his childhood in Brooklyn and Queens, where he went to high school. He joined the force after graduating from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2001. He said his undercover work has remained a secret to his friends, siblings and parents. During the posting, he told his parents he was working for a private security firm, and they now know he works for the police department.  He received individualized training so few would know he was a police officer; there would be no buddies from the academy to recognize him on the street. He said undercover investigators must walk a delicate line by playing the role of a potential terrorist and friend while refraining from pushing a plot forward.

The officer said only a few other members of the department knew of the life he developed in Brooklyn, as he rented an apartment, bought furniture, joined a local gym and slowly sought to become part of the community.  He attempted to maintain as much of his everyday personality as possible; he didn't change his habit of attending a mosque with some regularity, and he sought to make friends among the community.

The officer said he fit the profile of the young men he sought to meet: middle-class, first- or second-generation Americans in their late teens or early 20s. He said he watched the radicalization process of dozens. At times, it was so rapid that a year or two could separate clubbing in Miami from prayer five times a day.

The officer described Mr. Siraj's path. It unfolded in Brooklyn mosques, on local basketball courts and at an Islamic book store in Brooklyn that served as a gathering spot for radicals. The video, for example, that the officer said he watched with Mr. Siraj showed the "top 10" killings of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

The groups he penetrated spoke frequently of jihad, or holy war, and enlisted him to train with them. By the time an attack on Herald Square was being plotted, the officer had decided to focus his time on another group in Borough Park that had converted to Islam while in prison.

Once with that group, he trained for jihad by going paintballing, climbing mountains late at night, shooting assault rifles at firing ranges. During one of these trips to a firing range, he says he felt the barrel of a 9mm handgun pressed to the back of his head.  The officer said he was able to talk the youth down, though to this day he said he still doesn't know if he was being tested. Back at police headquarters, Mr. Cohen said officials mulled for days over whether to pull him from the assignment.

Eventually, the officer surfaced to testify in the case against Mr. Siraj, who claimed he had been entrapped by a government informant—not the officer himself—to bomb Herald Square before the 2004 Republican National Convention. Explosives were never obtained for the attack.

The undercover program is both secretive and controversial. Local Muslim groups have criticized the infiltration of the Muslim community by investigators from the Intelligence Division as a form religious profiling. The police deny that, saying they follow threats wherever they may lead.

Mr. Cohen declined to say how many undercover officers work for the department or in counterterrorism. Police spokesman Paul Browne said there are about 1,100 people assigned to counterterrorism throughout the department, with more than 300 of those in the Intelligence Division. Despite the reduction of the overall uniformed force—from 41,000 to 35,000 in the last eight years—Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has not scaled back the Intelligence Division.
23562  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / One punch kill on: May 06, 2010, 08:13:24 AM
Lack Of Cigarette Leads To Deadly Punch

May 5, 2010 at 10:53 AM by AHN

Hansen Sinclair – AHN News Reporter

Miami, FL, United States (AHN) – A man was punched in the head and died when he fell to the ground after he refused to give another man a cigarette, according to Miami police.

Linsey Oliveira, 26, of Boca Raton, FL was walking to a club with another friend in downtown Miami when a man approached the two and asked for a cigarette. Oliveira’s friend told the man they did not have any cigarettes, and the two men continued walking.  The man walked behind Oliveira and his friend and punched Oliveira in the head, causing him to stumble and hit his head on the pavement, according to reports.  He was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, where he died.

No arrests have been made.

Oliveira’s friend’s name was not released by authorities.

Article © AHN – All Rights Reserved
23563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: May 06, 2010, 08:02:02 AM
"With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live as slaves." --John Dickinson and Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of the Cause and Necessity of Taking up Arms, 1775
23564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: Uncomfortable Truths on: May 06, 2010, 08:00:48 AM
Uncomfortable Truths and the Times Square Attack
May 6, 2010
By Ben West and Scott Stewart

Faisal Shahzad, the first suspect arrested for involvement in the failed May 1 Times Square bombing attempt, was detained just before midnight on May 3 as he was attempting to depart on a flight from Kennedy International Airport in New York. Authorities removed Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, from an Emirates Airlines flight destined for Dubai. On May 4, Shahzad appeared at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan for his arraignment.

Authorities say that Shahzad is cooperating and that he insists he acted alone. However, this is contradicted by reports that the attack could have international links. On Feb. 3, Shahzad returned from a trip to Pakistan, where, according to the criminal complaint, he said he received militant training in Waziristan, a key hub of the main Pakistani Taliban rebel coalition, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Authorities are reportedly seeking three other individuals in the United States in connection with the May 1 Times Square bombing attempt.

Investigative efforts at this point are focusing on identifying others possibly connected to the plot and determining whether they directed Shahzad in the bombing attempt or merely enabled him. From all indications, authorities are quickly collecting information on additional suspects from their homes and telephone-call records, and this is leading to more investigations and more suspects. While the May 1 attempt was unsuccessful, it came much closer to killing civilians in New York than other recent attempts, such as the Najibullah Zazi case in September 2009 and the Newburgh plot in May 2009. Understanding how Shahzad and his possible associates almost pulled it off is key to preventing future threats.


Shahzad’s Mistakes





U.S. Department of Justice via Getty Images
(click here to enlarge image)
While the device left in the Nissan Pathfinder parked on 45th Street, just off Times Square, ultimately failed to cause any damage, the materials present could have caused a substantial explosion had they been prepared and assembled properly. The bomb’s components were common, everyday products that would not raise undue suspicion when purchased — especially if they were bought separately. They included the following:

Some 113 kilograms (250 pounds) of urea-based fertilizer. A diagram released by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates that the fertilizer was found in a metal gun locker in the back of the Pathfinder. The mere presence of urea-based fertilizer does not necessarily indicate that the materials in the gun locker composed a viable improvised explosive mixture, but urea-based fertilizer can be mixed with nitric acid to create urea nitrate, the main explosive charge used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. (It is not known if the fertilizer in the Pathfinder had been used to create urea nitrate.) Urea nitrate is a popular improvised mixture that can be detonated by a blasting cap and does not require a high-explosive booster charge like ammonium nitrate does; 250 pounds of urea nitrate would be enough to destroy the Pathfinder completely and create a substantial blast effect. If detonated near a large crowd of people, such an explosion could produce serious carnage.
Two 19-liter (5-gallon) containers of gasoline. If ignited, this fuel would have added an impressive fireball to the explosion but, in practical terms, would not have added much to the explosive effect of the device. Most of the damage would have been done by the urea nitrate. Reports indicate that consumer-grade fireworks (M-88 firecrackers) had been placed between the two containers of gasoline and were detonated, but they do not appear to have ruptured the containers and did not ignite the gasoline inside them. It appears that the firecrackers were intended to be the initiator for the device and were apparently the source of a small fire in the carpet upholstery of the Pathfinder. This created smoke that alerted a street vendor that something was wrong. The firecrackers likely would not have had sufficient detonation velocity to initiate urea nitrate.
Three 75-liter (20-gallon) propane tanks. Police have reported that the tank valves were left unopened, which has led others to conclude that this was yet another mistake on the part of Shahzad. Certainly, opening the tanks’ valves, filling the vehicle with propane gas and then igniting a spark would have been one way to cause a large explosion. Another way would have been to use explosives (such as the adjacent fertilizer mixture or gasoline) to rupture the tanks, which would have created a large amount of force and fire since the propane inside the tanks was under considerable pressure. Shahzad may have actually been attempting to blast open the propane tanks, which would explain why the valves were closed. Propane tanks are commonly used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in many parts of the world. Even without detonating, the propane tanks would have become very large and dangerous projectiles if the fertilizer had detonated.
That none of these three forms of explosive and incendiary materials detonated indicates that the bombmaker was likely a novice and had problems with the design of his firing chain. While a detailed schematic of the firing chain has not been released, the bombmaker did not seem to have a sophisticated understanding of explosive materials and the techniques required to properly detonate them. This person may have had some rudimentary training in explosives but was clearly not a trained bombmaker. It is one thing to attend a class at a militant camp where you are taught how to use military explosives and quite another to create a viable IED from scratch in hostile territory.

However, the fact that Shahzad was apparently able to collect all of the materials, construct an IED (even a poorly designed one) and maneuver it to the intended target without being detected exhibits considerable progress along the attack cycle. Had the bombmaker properly constructed a viable device with these components and if the materials had detonated, the explosion and resulting fire likely would have caused a significant number of casualties given the high density and proximity of people in the area.

It appears that Shahzad made a classic “Kramer jihadist” mistake: trying to make his attack overly spectacular and dramatic. This mistake was criticized by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasir al-Wahayshi last year when he called for grassroots operatives to conduct simple attacks instead of complex ones that are more prone to failure. In the end, Shahzad (who was probably making his first attempt to build an IED by himself) tried to pull off an attack so elaborate that it failed to do any damage at all.

As STRATFOR has discussed for many years now, the devolution of the jihadist threat from one based primarily on al Qaeda the group to one emanating from a wider jihadist movement means that we will see jihadist attacks being carried out more frequently by grassroots or lone wolf actors. These actors will possess a lesser degree of terrorist tradecraft than the professional terrorists associated with the core al Qaeda group, or even regional jihadist franchises like the TTP. This lack of tradecraft means that these operatives are more likely to make mistakes and attempt attacks against relatively soft targets, both characteristics seen in the failed May 1 attack.


Jihadist Attack Models

Under heavy pressure since the 9/11 attacks, jihadist planners wanting to strike the U.S. mainland face many challenges. For one thing, it is difficult for them to find operatives capable of traveling to and from the United States. This means that, in many cases, instead of using the best and brightest operatives that jihadist groups have, they are forced to send whoever can get into the country. In September 2009, U.S. authorities arrested Najibullah Zazi, a U.S. citizen who received training at an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan in 2008 before returning to the United States to begin an operation that would involve detonating explosive devices on New York City subways.

Zazi’s journey likely raised red flags with authorities, who subsequently learned through communication intercepts of his intent to construct explosive devices. Zazi had no explosives training or experience other than what he had picked during his brief stint at the training camp in Pakistan, and he attempted to construct the devices only with the notes he had taken during the training. Zazi had difficulty producing viable acetone peroxide explosives, similar to what appears to have happened with Shahzad in his Times Square attempt. Zazi also showed poor tradecraft by purchasing large amounts of hydrogen peroxide and acetone in an attempt to make triacetone triperoxide, a very difficult explosive material to use because of its volatility. His unusual shopping habits raised suspicion and, along with other incriminating evidence, eventually led to his arrest before he could initiate his planned attack.

Other plots in recent years such as the Newburgh case as well as plots in Dallas and Springfield, Ill., all three in 2009, failed because the suspects behind the attacks reached out to others to acquire explosive material instead of making it themselves. (In the latter two cases, Hosam Smadi in Dallas and Michael Finton in Springfield unwittingly worked with FBI agents to obtain fake explosive material that they thought they could use to attack prominent buildings in their respective cities and were subsequently arrested.) In seeking help, they made themselves vulnerable to interception, and local and federal authorities were able to infiltrate the cell planning the attack and ensure that the operatives never posed a serious threat. Unlike these failed plotters, Shahzad traveled to Pakistan to receive training and used everyday materials to construct his explosive devices, thus mitigating the risk of being discovered.

A much more successful model of waging a jihadist attack on U.S. soil is the case of U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas in November 2009. Instead of traveling to Yemen or Pakistan for training, which would have aroused suspicion, Maj. Hasan used skills he already possessed and simple means to conduct his attack, something that kept his profile low (although he was under investigation for posting comments online seemingly justifying suicide attacks). Ultimately, Hasan killed more people with a handgun than the recently botched or thwarted attacks involving relatively complicated IEDs.

With AQAP leader al-Wahayshi advocating smaller and easier attacks against softer targets in the fall of 2009 (shortly before Maj. Hasan’s attack at Fort Hood), it appears that the tactic is making its way through jihadist circles. This highlights the risk that ideologically radicalized individuals (as Shahzad certainly appears to be) can still pose to the public, despite their seeming inability to successfully construct and deploy relatively complex IEDs.


Slipping Through the Cracks?

It is likely that U.S. authorities were aware of Shahzad due to his recent five-monthlong trip to Pakistan. Authorities may also have intercepted the telephone conversations that Shahzad had with people in Pakistan using a pre-paid cell phone (which are more anonymous but still traceable). Such activities usually are noticed by authorities, and we anticipate that there will be a storm in the media in the coming days and weeks about how the U.S. government missed signs pointing to Shahzad’s radicalization and operational activity. The witch hunt would be far more intense if the attack had actually succeeded — as it could well have. However, as we’ve noted in past attacks such as the July 7, 2005, London bombings, the universe of potential jihadists is so wide that the number of suspects simply overwhelms the government’s ability to process them all. The tactical reality is that the government simply cannot identify all potential attackers in advance and thwart every attack. Some suspects will inevitably fly under the radar.

This reality flies in the face of the expectation that governments somehow must prevent all terrorist attacks. But the uncomfortable truth in the war against jihadist militants is that there is no such thing as complete security. Given the diffuse nature of the threat and of the enemy, and the wide availability of soft targets in open societies, there is simply no intelligence or security service in the world capable of identifying every aspiring militant who lives in or enters a country and of pre-empting their intended acts of violence.
23565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on: May 06, 2010, 07:52:06 AM
Iran and the United States, Grasping for Diplomacy
THE IRAQI BALANCE SWUNG IN TEHRAN’S DIRECTION Tuesday when an announcement was made that Iraq’s two main rival Shiite coalitions have finally agreed to merge into a single parliamentary bloc. While there is still more political wrangling to be had, including the chore of picking the prime minister, this development carries enormous implications for the United States and its allies in the region. Before diving into those implications, we first need to review the results of the March 7 Iraqi elections.

The Iraqi vote was primarily split four ways: Former Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a Shi’i leading the Sunni-concentrated al-Iraqiya bloc, barely came in first with 91 seats, while Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s predominantly Shiite State of Law (SoL) bloc took second place with 89 seats. In third place, the Iranian-backed Shiite Islamist Iraqi National Alliance (INA) won 70 seats, while the unified Kurdish bloc came out with 43 seats. The magic number to form a ruling coalition is 163, raising all sorts of ethno-sectarian coalition possibilities that could make or break the stability the United States created with the 2007 troop surge.

The Kurdish strategy was the most predictable in this fractured political landscape. Knowing that their Arab rivals would lack enough seats on their own to form a coalition, the Kurds positioned themselves early on to ensure their kingmaker status in the new government. An SoL-INA coalition is just four seats shy of the 163 needed to form the government, and the Kurds fully expect to fill that gap.

The Sunni-Shiite and the Shiite-Shiite divisions are where things get much more complicated. With just two seats between them, al-Iraqiya and SoL were both intent on ruling the next government. Since neither bloc could get along with one another, two possibilities emerged over the course of the last eight weeks: Either a super Shiite bloc could be formed between the INA and SoL, effectively sidelining the Sunnis in Allawi’s al-Iraqiya bloc, or the INA could join with al-Iraqiya, leaving al-Maliki in the dust.

“An INA-SoL coalition is thus political poison for Iraq’s Sunnis, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and anyone else in the region that is highly uncomfortable with the idea of Iraq living under an Iranian shadow.”
Such political wrangling may be taken as a sign of a healthy democracy in most countries, but in Iraq, coalition politics can turn very deadly, very fast. It is important to remember that when Iraq held its first democratic experiment in 2005, the bulk of Iraq’s Sunnis chose the bullet over the ballot. This time around, the Sunnis are looking to regain their political voice in Baghdad, and they still have the guns and militant connections to return to if that search ends in failure.

An INA-SoL coalition is thus political poison for Iraq’s Sunnis, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and anyone else in the region who is highly uncomfortable with the idea of Iraq living under an Iranian shadow. The United States did not anticipate having more than 98,000 troops in Iraq more than seven years after it toppled Saddam Hussein, and needs at least half of those troops out of Mesopotamia within the next three months. To do that, Washington needs to leave at least some semblance of a Persian-Arab balance in the Middle East, and that means ensuring a place for the Sunnis at the winners’ table in Baghdad.

But Iran is not about to make things easy for the United States. The Iranians can see that the U.S.-led sanctions effort, while irritating, lacks bite. They can also see that the U.S. administration is not interested at the moment in waging a third military campaign in the Islamic world, no matter how much Israel complains. Iran is thus in a prime position. They have a super Shiite majority getting ready to rule Iraq, while the United States is left helpless for the most part.

That does not mean Iran is home free, however. In spite of the daily barrages of rhetoric emanating from Tehran on Iranian military might, the country is ill at ease with having the world’s most powerful military stacked on its eastern and western borders. Iran would very much like those U.S. troops to go home, but only if it can be assured somehow that a U.S. military with more of an attention span will not show up in the neighborhood again with plans for an air campaign against Iranian nuclear facilities. For Iran to get this security assurance, it needs to set a high price: American recognition of Iranian dominance in the Persian Gulf.

Given the United States’ need for a Sunni-Shiite balance in this region, this is likely too high a price for Washington to pay at this point in time. So Iran has to turn to more coercive means to capture the United States’ attention. This could include the threat of disenfranchising Iraq’s Sunnis, upping the ante on the nuclear issue, bolstering Taliban forces when U.S. troops are surging into Afghanistan and a resurgence of Shiite militia activity. Indeed, the same day the Iraqi Shiite political merger was announced, radical Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who has been living under Tehran’s protection since 2007, proclaimed the official revival of his Mehdi Army and threatened to attack U.S. forces should they outstay their Dec. 31, 2011, deadline. This was not exactly a subtle signal on Iran’s part.

There is no shortage of reasons for the United States and Iran to come back to the negotiating table, but the process will be a painful one. Moreover, the fact that Iran is holding the upper hand in this round is a bitter pill for Washington to swallow. Many in Washington will make the case that it is better for the United States to focus on bolstering its regional allies and rely on a residual force of 50,000 troops in Iraq to keep Iran at bay until more options come into view. But Iran has a plan for that, too. If Tehran cannot get the United States to leave Iraq on its terms, then it might as well have U.S. forces concentrated in places where Iran carries influence through proxies. In other words, maintain the status quo. Either way, Iran has options.

23566  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 05, 2010, 11:33:38 PM
Grateful for good times with my children.
23567  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: May 05, 2010, 11:33:08 PM
Looks awesome Max, but the range of motion for my elbows simply does not allow for the clean and front squat. cry

Right now I am just returning to deadlifting after many years away from it AND I am rucking what is for me at a fairly intense level so I am starting out easy and just taking the progress that comes easily.  Squatting has remained part of my annual cycle for many years and I am fairly familiar with how my numbers on it go.  Today was the first day of my squat cycle.  I certainly could have gone heavier than I did, but I am more interested in how I will do tomorrow on my hilly ruck route.  I am thinking of upping to 70 pounds and/or increasing the distance.
23568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO & BP on: May 05, 2010, 08:09:47 PM
Surprise!

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36783.html
23569  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: May 05, 2010, 03:13:25 PM
Second post of the day:

I like the way this man thinks:

http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article_issue/issue_625#death-march
23570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Global Crisis of Legitimacy on: May 05, 2010, 08:35:50 AM
The Global Crisis of Legitimacy
May 4, 2010
By George Friedman

Financial panics are an integral part of capitalism. So are economic recessions. The system generates them and it becomes stronger because of them. Like forest fires, they are painful when they occur, yet without them, the forest could not survive. They impose discipline, punishing the reckless, rewarding the cautious. They do so imperfectly, of course, as at times the reckless are rewarded and the cautious penalized. Political crises — as opposed to normal financial panics — emerge when the reckless appear to be the beneficiaries of the crisis they have caused, while the rest of society bears the burdens of their recklessness. At that point, the crisis ceases to be financial or economic. It becomes political.

The financial and economic systems are subsystems of the broader political system. More precisely, think of nations as consisting of three basic systems: political, economic and military. Each of these systems has elites that manage it. The three systems are constantly interacting — and in a healthy polity, balancing each other, compensating for failures in one as well as taking advantage of success. Every nation has a different configuration within and between these systems. The relative weight of each system differs, as does the importance of its elites. But each nation contains these systems, and no system exists without the other two.

Limited Liability Investing
Consider the capitalist economic system. The concept of the corporation provides its modern foundation. The corporation is built around the idea of limited liability for investors, the notion that if you buy part or all of a company, you yourself are not liable for its debts or the harm that it might do; your risk is limited to your investment. In other words, you may own all or part of a company, but you are not responsible for what it does beyond your investment. Whereas supply and demand exist in all times and places, the notion of limited liability investing is unique to modern capitalism and reshapes the dynamic of supply and demand.

It is also a political invention and not an economic one. The decision to create corporations that limit liability flows from political decisions implemented through the legal subsystem of politics. The corporation dominates even in China; though the rules of liability and the definition of control vary, the principle that the state and politics define the structure of corporate risk remains constant.

In a more natural organization of the marketplace, the owners are entirely responsible for the debts and liabilities of the entity they own. That, of course, would create excessive risk, suppressing economic activity. So the political system over time has reallocated risk away from the owners of companies to the companies’ creditors and customers by allowing corporations to become bankrupt without pulling in the owners.

The precise distribution of risk within an economic system is a political matter expressed through the law; it differs from nation to nation and over time. But contrary to the idea that there is a tension between the political and economic systems, the modern economic system is unthinkable except for the eccentric but indispensible political-legal contrivance of the limited liability corporation. In the precise and complex allocation of risk and immunity, we find the origins of the modern market. Among other reasons, this is why classical economists never spoke of “economics” but always of “political economy.”

The state both invents the principle of the corporation and defines the conditions in which the corporation is able to arise. The state defines the structure of risk and liabilities and assures that the laws are enforced. Emerging out of this complexity — and justifying it — is a moral regime. Protection from liability comes with a burden: Poor decisions will be penalized by losses, while wise decisions are rewarded by greater wealth. Because of this, society as a whole will benefit. The entire scheme is designed to increase, in Adam Smith’s words, “The Wealth of Nations” by limiting liability, increasing the willingness to take risk and imposing penalties for poor judgment and rewards for wise judgment. But the measure of the system is not whether individuals benefit, but whether in benefiting they enhance the wealth of the nation.

The greatest systemic risk, therefore, is not an economic concept but a political one. Systemic risk emerges when it appears that the political and legal protections given to economic actors, and particularly to members of the economic elite, have been used to subvert the intent of the system. In other words, the crisis occurs when it appears that the economic elite used the law’s allocation of risk to enrich themselves in ways that undermined the wealth of the nation. Put another way, the crisis occurs when it appears that the financial elite used the politico-legal structure to enrich themselves through systematically imprudent behavior while those engaged in prudent behavior were harmed, with the political elite apparently taking no action to protect the victims.

In the modern public corporation, shareholders — the corporation’s owners — rarely control management. A board of directors technically oversees management on behalf of the shareholders. In the crisis of 2008, we saw behavior that devastated shareholder value while appearing to enrich the management — the corporation’s employees. In this case, the protections given to shareholders of corporations were turned against them when they were forced to pay for the imprudence of their employees — the managers, whose interests did not align with those of the shareholders. The managers in many cases profited personally through their compensation system for actions inimical to shareholder interests. We now have a political, not an economic, crisis for two reasons. First, the crisis qualitatively has moved beyond the boundaries of a cyclical event. Second, the crisis is rooted in the political-legal definitions of the distribution of corporate risk and the legally defined relations between management and shareholder. In leaving the shareholder liable for actions by management, but without giving shareholders controls to limit managerial risk taking, the problem lies not with the market but with the political system that invented and presides over the limited liability corporation.

Financial panics that appear natural and harm the financial elite do not necessarily create political crises. Financial panics that appear to be the result of deliberate manipulation of the allocation of risk under the law, and from which the financial elite as a whole appears to have profited even while shareholders and the public were harmed, inevitably create political crises. In the case of 2008 and the events that followed, we have a paradox. The 2008 crisis was not unprecedented, nor was the federal bailout. We saw similar things in the municipal bond crisis of the 1970s, and the Third World Debt Crisis and Savings and Loan Crisis in the 1980s. Nor was the recession that followed anomalous. It came seven years after the previous one, and compared to the 1970s and early 1980s, when unemployment stood at more than 10 percent and inflation and mortgages were at more than 20 percent, the new one was painful but well within the bounds of expected behavior.

The crisis was rooted in the appearance that it was triggered by the behavior not of small town banks or third world countries, but of the global financial elite, who took advantage of the complexities of law to enrich themselves instead of the shareholders and clients to whom it was thought they had prior fiduciary responsibility.

This is a political crisis then, not an economic one. The political elite is responsible for the corporate elite in a unique fashion: The corporation was a political invention, so by definition, its behavior depends on the political system. But in a deeper sense, the crisis is one of both political and corporate elites, and the perception that by omission or commission they acted together — knowingly engineering the outcome. In a sense, it does not matter whether this is what happened. That it is widely believed that this is what happened alone is the origin of the crisis. This generates a political crisis that in turn is translated into an attack on the economic system.

The public, which is cynical about such things, expects elites to work to benefit themselves. But at the same time, there are limits to the behavior the public will tolerate. That limit might be defined, with Adam Smith in mind, as the point when the wealth of the nation itself is endangered, i.e., when the system is generating outcomes that harm the nation. In extreme form, these crises can delegitimize regimes. In the most extreme form — and we are nowhere near this point — the military elite typically steps in to take control of the system.

This is not something that is confined to the United States by any means, although part of this analysis is designed to explain why the Obama administration must go after Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and others. The symbol of Goldman Sachs profiting from actions that devastate national wealth, or of the management of Lehman wiping out shareholder value while they themselves did well, creates a crisis of confidence in the political and financial systems. With the crisis of legitimacy still not settling down after nearly two years, the reaction of the political system is predictable. It will both anoint symbolic miscreants, and redefine the structure of risk and liability in financial corporations. The goal is not so much to achieve something as to create the impression that it is achieving something, in other words, to demonstrate that the political system is prepared to control the entities it created.

The Crisis in Europe
We see a similar crisis in Europe. The financial institutions in Europe were fully complicit in the global financial crisis. They bought and sold derivatives whose value they knew to be other than stated, the same as Americans. Though the European financial institutions have asserted they were the hapless victims of unscrupulous American firms, the Europeans were as sophisticated as their American counterparts. Their elites knew what they were doing.

Complicating the European position was the creation of the economic union and the euro by the economic and political elite. There has always been a great deal of ambiguity concerning the powers and authority of the European Union, but its intentions were always clear: to harmonize Europe and to create European-wide solutions to economic problems. This goal always created unease in Europe. There were those who were concerned that a united Europe would exist to benefit the elites, rather than the broader public. There were also those who believed it was designed to benefit the Franco-German core of Europe rather than Europe as a whole. Overall, this reflected minority sentiment, but it was a substantial minority.

The financial crisis came at Europe in three phases. The first was part of the American subprime crisis. The second wave was a uniquely European crisis. European banks had taken massive positions in the Eastern European banking systems. For example, the Czech system was almost entirely foreign (Austrian and Italian) owned. These banks began lending to Eastern European homebuyers, with mortgages denominated in euros, Swiss francs or yen rather than in the currencies of the countries involved (none yet included in the eurozone). Doing this allowed banks to reduce interest rates, as the risk of currency fluctuation was pushed over to the borrower. But when the zlotys and forints began to plunge, these monthly mortgage payments began to soar, as did defaults. The European core, led by Germany, refused a European bailout of the borrowers or lenders even though the lenders who created this crisis were based in eurozone countries. Instead, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was called in to use funds that included American and Chinese, as well as European, money to solve the problem. This raised the political question in Eastern Europe as to what it meant to be part of the European Union.

The third wave is represented by crisis in sovereign debt in countries that are part of the eurozone but not in the core of Europe — Greece, of course, but also Portugal and possibly Spain. In the Greek case, the Germans in particular hesitated to intervene until it could draw the IMF — and non-European money and guarantees — into the mix. This obviously raised questions in the periphery about what membership in the eurozone meant, just as it created questions in Eastern Europe about what EU membership meant.

But a much deeper crisis of legitimacy arose. In Germany, elite sentiment accepted that some sort of intervention in Greece was inevitable. Public sentiment overwhelmingly opposed intervention, however. The political elite moved into tension with the financial elite under public pressure. In Greece, a similar crisis emerged between an elite that accepted that foreign discipline would have to be introduced and a public that saw this discipline as a betrayal of its interests and national sovereignty.

Europe thus has a double crisis. As in the United States, there is a crisis between the financial and political systems. This crisis is not as intense as in the United States because of a deeper tradition of integration between the two systems in Europe. But the tension between masses and elites is every bit as intense. The second part of the crisis is the crisis of the European Union and growing sense that the European Union is the problem and not the solution. As in the United States, there is a growing movement to distrust not only national arrangements but also multinational arrangements.

The United States and Europe are far from the only areas of the world facing crises of legitimacy. In China, for example, the growing suppression of all dissent derives from serious questions as to whom the financial expansion of the past 30 years benefits, and who will pay for the downturns. It is also interesting to note that Russia is suffering much less from this crisis, having lived through its own crisis before. The global crisis of legitimacy has many aspects worth considering at some point.

But for now, the important thing is to understand that both Europe and the United States are facing fundamental challenges to the legitimacy of, if not the regime, then at least the manner in which the regime has handled itself. The geopolitical significance of this crisis is obvious. If the Americans and Europeans both enter a period in which managing the internal balance becomes more pressing than managing the global balance, then other powers will have enhanced windows of opportunities to redefine their regional balances.

In the United States, we see a predictable process. With the unease over elites intensifying, the political elite is trying to stabilize the situation by attacking the financial elite. It is doing this to both demonstrate that the political elite is distinct from the financial elite and to impose the consequences on the financial elite that the impersonal system was unable to do. There is precedent for this, and it will likely achieve its desired end: greater control over the financial system by the state and an acceptable moral tale for the public.

The European process is much less clear. The lack of clarity comes from the fact that this is a test for the European Union. This is not simply a crisis within national elites, but within the multinational elite that created the European Union. If this leads to the de-legitimization of the EU, then we are really in uncharted territory.

But the most important point is that almost two years since a normal financial panic, the polity has still not managed to absorb the consequences of that event. The politically contrived corporation, and particularly the financial corporations, stands accused of undermining the wealth of nations. As Adam Smith understood, markets are not natural entities but the result of political decisions, as is the political system that creates the allocation of risk that allows markets to function. When that system appears to fail, the consequences go far beyond the particular financials of that event. They have political consequences and, in due course, geopolitical consequences.

23571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: From Peshawar to Times Square on: May 05, 2010, 08:29:10 AM
Monday night's arrest of suspected Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad is both disconcerting and reassuring—proof that the world's jihadists are still targeting the U.S. homeland, yet also evidence that our antiterror fighters are getting better.

From the street vendors who alerted police to the smoking car, to the mounted officer who moved crowds away from it, to the impressive forensic and detective work that led to Shahzad's dramatic arrest as his flight was preparing for takeoff at Kennedy airport, to the international cooperation that led to the capture in Pakistan of one of his radical associates, things rapidly came together after the botched car bombing in a way they too rarely do outside the movies.

Surely all this deserves a cheer—and no small amount of credit goes to the Bush Administration for mobilizing this antiterror capability and mindset, which its successors have been able to exploit.

The bombing attempt is also a timely reminder that all the talk about the war on terror being over is nonsense. Astute police work foiled last year's plot to bomb New York's subway, as it did similar planned attacks against a New York synagogue and a Dallas skyscraper. But it was only luck that saved the passengers aboard Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day, just as it was luck and terrorist incompetence that prevented an atrocity at the corner of 45th Street and 7th Avenue. The victims of November's Fort Hood massacre were not as fortunate.

We will no doubt soon learn a great deal more about Shahzad and his links to radical groups in Pakistan, where he reportedly spent several months last year, including two weeks in or around the Taliban-saturated environs of Peshawar. The reality is that plots against the U.S. continue to be hatched and inspired in places like Pakistan and Yemen.

They demand that we continue to play offense against terrorists in these regions through the use of drone strikes, communications intercepts (even of U.S. citizens such as Shahzad), and various other measures that our friends on the left find so offensive when a Republican President is using them. One benefit of the Obama Presidency is that it has caused the left to acquiesce in such means, if only by their new silence.

These plots also demand that Pakistan continue its military sweep through the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan. The Pakistan army has taken the offensive in the last year, and intelligence cooperation between its services and the CIA has by all accounts never been better. But Pakistan still has an obligation to ensure that none of its territory be a safe haven in which the Shahzads of the world can be trained in the uses of improvised explosive devices. Arresting the Taliban leaders of the so-called Quetta Shura would be a signal of Pakistani seriousness.

One regrettable part of this investigation so far is Shahzad's arraignment in a Manhattan court room yesterday on terrorism charges. This means he has been allowed to lawyer-up and told of his right to remain silent, rather than being subjected to more thorough interrogation as an enemy combatant. Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that Shahzad is cooperating, and we hope he is.

But the immediate goal should be to find out everything we can as soon as we can to deter future attacks and target the locations where he trained before the terrorists disperse. Shahzad can face a military commission or civilian trial later. Broadcasting that Shahzad was undergoing such interrogation would also warn other potential terrorists that they could face a similar grilling, not merely the company of an attorney.

Still, the events of the last 48 hours show that even as Islamist terrorists continue to wage a war against the West—"another sobering reminder of the times in which we live," as President Obama aptly put it yesterday—we also have the ability to respond. The very fact that Shahzad was unable to construct a working detonator shows that the jihadists have been unable to replicate the kind of ruthless, competent cell that killed so many on 9/11. There are surely other Shahzads awake in America today, but they are less likely to succeed than they were a decade ago.
23572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Why Pak produces so many Jihadists on: May 05, 2010, 08:21:16 AM
By SADANAND DHUME
Monday night's arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-American accused of planting a car bomb in Times Square on Saturday, will undoubtedly stoke the usual debate about how best to keep America safe in the age of Islamic terrorism. But this should not deflect us from another, equally pressing, question. Why do Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora churn out such a high proportion of the world's terrorists?

Indonesia has more Muslims than Pakistan. Turkey is geographically closer to the troubles of the Middle East. The governments of Iran and Syria are immeasurably more hostile to America and the West. Yet it is Pakistan, or its diaspora, that produced the CIA shooter Mir Aimal Kasi; the 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef (born in Kuwait to Pakistani parents); 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's kidnapper, Omar Saeed Sheikh; and three of the four men behind the July 2005 train and bus bombings in London.

The list of jihadists not from Pakistan themselves—but whose passage to jihadism passes through that country—is even longer. Among them are Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohamed Atta, shoe bomber Richard Reid, and John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban. Over the past decade, Pakistani fingerprints have shown up on terrorist plots in, among other places, Germany, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands. And this partial catalogue doesn't include India, which tends to bear the brunt of its western neighbor's love affair with violence.

In attempting to explain why so many attacks—abortive and successful—can be traced back to a single country, analysts tend to dwell on the 1980s, when Pakistan acted as a staging ground for the successful American and Saudi-funded jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But while the anti-Soviet campaign undoubtedly accelerated Pakistan's emergence as a jihadist haven, to truly understand the country it's important to go back further, to its creation.

Pakistan was carved out of the Muslim-majority areas of British India in 1947, the world's first modern nation based solely on Islam. The country's name means "Land of the Pure." The capital city is Islamabad. The national flag carries the Islamic crescent and star. The cricket team wears green.

From the start, the new country was touched by the messianic zeal of pan-Islamism. The Quranic scholar Muhammad Asad—an Austrian Jew born Leopold Weiss—became an early Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations. The Egyptian Said Ramadan, son-in-law of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, made Pakistan a second home of sorts and collaborated with Pakistan's leading Islamist ideologue, the Jamaat-e-Islami's Abul Ala Maududi. In 1949, Pakistan established the world's first transnational Islamic organization, the World Muslim Congress. Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the virulently anti-Semitic grand mufti of Jerusalem, was appointed president.

Through alternating periods of civilian and military rule, one thing about Pakistan has remained constant—the central place of Islam in national life. In the 1960s, Pakistan launched a war against India in an attempt to seize control of Kashmir, the country's only Muslim-majority province, one that most Pakistanis believe ought to be theirs by right.

In the 1970s the Pakistani army carried out what Bangladeshis call a genocide in Bangladesh; non-Muslims suffered disproportionately. Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto boasted about creating an "Islamic bomb." (The father of Pakistan's nuclear program, A.Q. Khan, would later export nuclear technology to the revolutionary regime in Iran.) In the 1980s Pakistan welcomed Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the Palestinian theorist of global jihad Abdullah Azzam.

In the 1990s, armed with expertise and confidence gained fighting the Soviets, the army's notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spawned the Taliban to take over Afghanistan, and a plethora of terrorist groups to challenge India in Kashmir. Even after 9/11, and despite about $18 billion of American aid, Pakistan has found it hard to reform its instincts.

Pakistan's history of pan-Islamism does not mean that all Pakistanis, much less everyone of Pakistani origin, hold extremist views. But it does explain why a larger percentage of Pakistanis than, say, Indonesians or Tunisians, are likely to see the world through the narrow prism of their faith. The ISI's reluctance to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism—training camps, a web of ultra-orthodox madrassas that preach violence, and terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba—ensure that Pakistan remains a magnet for any Muslim with a grudge against the world and the urge to do something violent about it.

If Pakistan is to be reformed, then the goal must be to replace its political and cultural DNA. Pan-Islamism has to give way to old-fashioned nationalism. An expansionist foreign policy needs to be canned in favor of development for the impoverished masses. The grip of the army, and by extension the ISI, over national life will have to be weakened. The encouragement of local languages and cultures such as Punjabi and Sindhi can help create a broader identity, one not in conflict with the West. School curricula ought to be overhauled to inculcate a respect for non-Muslims.

Needless to say, this will be a long haul. But it's the only way to ensure that the next time someone is accused of trying to blow up a car in a crowded place far away from home, the odds aren't that he'll somehow have a Pakistan connection.

Mr. Dhume, the author of "My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist" (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009), is a columnist for WSJ.com.
23573  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: May 05, 2010, 07:06:10 AM
Continuing my rucking based routine: I think I am ready to leave the flat course rucking behind and focus on hilly work. Yesterday did 60 pounds on my hilly route (150 feet in .33 of a mile according to mapmyquest.com ) for 3 miles. On non-rucking days I do my strength work-- currently focused on a return to heavier weights. (the weights are heavier for me, but the numbers are not impressive at all, I'm "just an old man having a good time") Monday was deadlifts and back (chins, t-bar bench rows. Today will be squats and chest/shoulders, along with rowing machine for cardio.
23574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Veil on: May 05, 2010, 07:01:58 AM
Tearing Away the Veil

 
By JEAN-FRANÇOIS COPÉ
Published: May 4, 2010


MOMENTUM is building in Europe for laws forbidding the wearing of garments that cover the face, like the Islamic burqa and niqab, in public. Just last week, the lower house of the Belgian Parliament overwhelmingly passed a ban on face coverings. And next week, the French Assembly will most likely approve a resolution that my party, the Union for a Popular Movement, has introduced condemning such garments as against our republican principles, a step toward a similar ban.

Amnesty International condemned the Belgian law as “an attack on religious freedom,” while other critics have asserted that by prohibiting the burqa, France would impinge upon individual liberties and stigmatize Muslims, thereby aiding extremists worldwide.

This criticism is unjust. The debate on the full veil is complicated, and as one of the most prominent advocates in France of a ban on the burqa, I would like to explain why it is both a legitimate measure for public safety and a reaffirmation of our ideals of liberty and fraternity.

First, the freedom to dress the way one wants is not what’s at stake here. Our debate is not about a type of attire or the Islamic head scarf that covers the hair and forehead. The latter is obviously allowed in France. The ban would apply to the full-body veil known as the burqa or niqab. This is not an article of clothing — it is a mask, a mask worn at all times, making identification or participation in economic and social life virtually impossible.

This face covering poses a serious safety problem at a time when security cameras play an important role in the protection of public order. An armed robbery recently committed in the Paris suburbs by criminals dressed in burqas provided an unfortunate confirmation of this fact. As a mayor, I cannot guarantee the protection of the residents for whom I am responsible if masked people are allowed to run about.

The visibility of the face in the public sphere has always been a public safety requirement. It was so obvious that until now it did not need to be enshrined in law. But the increase in women wearing the niqab, like that of the ski mask favored by criminals, changes that. We must therefore adjust our law, without waiting for the phenomenon to spread.

The permanent concealment of the face also raises the question of social interactions in our democracies. In the United States, there are very few limits on individual freedom, as exemplified by the guarantees of the First Amendment. In France, too, we are passionately attached to liberty.

But we also reaffirm our citizens’ equality and fraternity. These values are the three inseparable components of our national motto. We are therefore constantly striving to achieve a delicate balance. Individual liberty is vital, but individuals, like communities, must accept compromises that are indispensable to living together, in the name of certain principles that are essential to the common good.

Let’s take one example: The fact that people are prohibited from strolling down Fifth Avenue in the nude does not constitute an attack on the fundamental rights of nudists. Likewise, wearing headgear that fully covers the face does not constitute a fundamental liberty. To the contrary, it is an insurmountable obstacle to the affirmation of a political community that unites citizens without regard to differences in sex, origin or religious faith. How can you establish a relationship with a person who, by hiding a smile or a glance — those universal signs of our common humanity — refuses to exist in the eyes of others?

Finally, in both France and the United States, we recognize that individual liberties cannot exist without individual responsibilities. This acknowledgment is the basis of all our political rights. We are free as long as we are responsible individuals who can be held accountable for our actions before our peers. But the niqab and burqa represent a refusal to exist as a person in the eyes of others. The person who wears one is no longer identifiable; she is a shadow among others, lacking individuality, avoiding responsibility.

From this standpoint, banning the veil in the street is aimed at no particular religion and stigmatizes no particular community. Indeed, French Muslim leaders have noted that the Koran does not instruct women to cover their faces, while in Tunisia and Turkey, it is forbidden in public buildings; it is even prohibited during the pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims are the first to suffer from the confusions engendered by this practice, which is a blow against the dignity of women.

Through a legal ban, French parliamentarians want to uphold a principle that should apply to all: the visibility of the face in the public sphere, which is essential to our security and is a condition for living together. A few extremists are contesting this obvious fact by using our democratic liberties as an instrument against democracy. We have to tell them no.

Jean-François Copé is the majority leader in the French National Assembly and the mayor of Meaux.
23575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine, Henry, Madison, and , , , on: May 05, 2010, 06:47:26 AM
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." --Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, 1776

"The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. ... t is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable -- and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!" --Patrick Henry

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one." --James Madison

"By exclusive property, the productions of the earth and the means of subsistence are secured and preserved, as well as multiplied. What belongs to no one is wasted by every one. What belongs to one man in particular is the object of his economy and care." --James Wilson

"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." --Thomas Jefferson

"It has been said that all Government is an evil. It would be more proper to say that the necessity of any Government is a misfortune. This necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect." --James Madison

"On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?" --Thomas Jefferson

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

"Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace." --Thomas Jefferson

"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." --James Madison
23576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Power to tax and , , , to revolt on: May 05, 2010, 06:41:07 AM
The Power to Tax ... and Revolt
"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." --John Marshall
On December 16th, 1773, "radicals" from Boston, members of a secret organization of American Patriots called the Sons of Liberty, boarded three East India Company ships and threw into Boston Harbor 342 chests of tea.

This iconic event, in protest of oppressive British taxation and tyrannical rule, became known as the Boston Tea Party.

Resistance to the Crown had been mounting over enforcement of the 1764 Sugar Act, 1765 Stamp Act and 1767 Townshend Act, which led to the Boston Massacre and gave rise to the slogan, "No taxation without representation."

The 1773 Tea Act and resulting Tea Party protest galvanized the Colonial movement opposing British parliamentary acts, which violated the natural, charter and constitutional rights of the colonists.

In response to the rebellion, the British enacted additional punitive measures, labeled the "Intolerable Acts," in hopes of suppressing the burgeoning insurrection. Far from accomplishing their desired outcome, however, the Crown's countermeasures led colonists to convene the First Continental Congress on September 5th, 1774, in Philadelphia.

Near midnight on April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere departed Charlestown (near Boston) for Lexington and Concord in order to warn John Hancock, Samuel Adams and other Sons of Liberty that the British army was marching to arrest them and seize their weapons caches. While Revere was captured after reaching Lexington, his friend, Samuel Prescott, was able to evade the Red Coats and took word to the militiamen at Concord.

In the early dawn of that first Patriots' Day, April 19th, Captain John Parker, commander of the Lexington militia, ordered, "Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they want a war let it begin here." That it did -- American Minutemen fired the "shot heard round the world," as immortalized by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, confronting British Regulars on Lexington Green and at Concord's Old North Bridge.

Thus, by the time the Second Continental Congress convened on May 10th, 1775, the young nation was in open war for liberty and independence, which would not be won until a full decade later. (Read more here.)

Today, the tax burden borne by most Americans, even those who pay no direct federal taxes but at the least pay a great hidden cost in federal regulation, is far greater than that which incited our Founders to revolution.

Thus, some 221 years after the ratification of our Constitution, Americans are once again at a crossroads with oppressive centralized government -- a point at which we must choose to turn up toward liberty or down toward tyranny and anarchy.

Those at the helm of the federal government, by way of generations of overreaching executive orders, legislative malfeasance and judicial diktat, have abandoned their sacred oaths to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," and to "bear true faith and allegiance to the same."

Although our Constitution provides the People with an authentic means for amendment as prescribed in Article V, successive generations of leftists have, by way of legislation, regulation and activist courts, altered that august founding convention well beyond any semblance of its original intent.

Consequently, they have undermined constitutional Rule of Law, supplanting it with the rule of men.

They have done so in order to win the allegiance of special interest constituencies, which then ensure perpetual re-election of their sponsors in return for political and economic agendas structured on Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collectivism.

How have leftist politicians succeeded in this assault?

They accomplished this through direct taxation on an ever-smaller number of Americans for the benefit of an ever-larger number of Americans -- "progressive taxation" and "social justice" as the Left so self-righteously calls it.

So, shouldn't those who have more give to those who have less?

Well, yes, in my humble opinion, but individuals should rightly be left to decide how best to use their resources for the benefit of others. And in this respect, Americans are the most generous people on earth and from any time of human history.

However, Barack Hussein Obama, an ideological Marxist, believes that government should be the ultimate arbiter for the redistribution of wealth. Indeed, he said as much on the campaign trail in 2008.

Obama claims our economy is "out of balance," and our tax policies "badly skewed."

To resolve this, he says we need a "tax policy making sure that everybody benefits, fair distribution, a restoration of balance in our tax code, money allocated fairly..."

"Fair distribution"?

By this, of course, he means "redistribution."

It's not enough that 20 percent of Americans are already forced to fund 80 percent of the cost of bloated government largess; if Obama can saddle them with 100 percent of this cost, then he could anoint himself king.

Never mind that progressive taxation constitutes, in effect, a "Bill of Attainder" as outlawed by Article I, Section 9, of our Constitution. Who in Washington these days pays that venerable old parchment any mind?

As devoted socialist George Bernard Shaw acknowledged, "A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul," which is the template for a bloodless socialist revolution.

Further, Obama asserts that free enterprise is nothing more than "Social Darwinism, every man or woman for him or herself ... [a] tempting idea, because it doesn't require much thought or ingenuity."

Free enterprise "doesn't require much thought or ingenuity"?

Only in the distorted worldview of a "community organizer" and lifelong adherent of Marxist doctrine could such an absurd assertion originate.

The current debacle of progressive taxation is the result of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's class-warfare decree: "Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle."

We beg to differ. Roosevelt's "principle" was no more American than Obama's. Roosevelt was merely paraphrasing Karl Marx, whose maxim declared, "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

At the time Marx was formulating his collectivist manifesto, classical liberal Claude Frederic Bastiat, a prominent 19th-century political economist, wrote, "Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. ... Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus the beneficiaries are spared the shame and danger that their acts would otherwise involve. But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to the other persons to whom it doesn't belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another... Then abolish that law without delay; No legal plunder; this is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony and logic."

Now, according to Heritage Foundation's Index of Dependence on Government, "Despite the famed 1996 Welfare Reform Act and the more recent welfare adjustments in 2006, 60.8 million Americans remain dependent on the government for their daily housing, food, and health care. Starting in 2016, Social Security will not collect enough in taxes to pay all of the promised benefits -- which is a problem for all workers, but especially for the roughly half of the American workforce that has no other retirement program. Add in spiraling academic grants, flat-out farm socialism, and the swelling ranks of Americans who believe themselves entitled to public-sector benefits for which they pay few or no taxes -- and Americans must ask themselves whether they are near a tipping point in the nature of their government." (Also see How the Tax Code is Expanding Government.)

Perversely, almost half of all American workers pay no income tax per the current tax code scheme, though under the Obama plot many now qualify for a tax refund.

Once a majority of Americans can be "protected" from a tax burden, they will ignore the constitutional, moral and civic implications of "progressive taxation."

The fact is that the only way to ensure fiscal accountability at the federal level is to directly spread the cost of government to a much broader number of taxpayers so all Americans "feel the pain." Of course, the Left understands that in order to escape any fiscal accountability, they need only ensure that the cost of government is borne by a targeted minority of income earners.

Obama is now poised to propose the implementation of a supplemental value-added tax, a national sales tax. Though this would seemingly spread the cost of government to all Americans (precisely what liberals want to avoid), Obama's VAT coupled with the myriad proposed exempt products and "rebates" to the "poor," would most assuredly be yet another avenue for the central government to use the tax code to bludgeon a minority of consumers in order to expand its authority and constituencies.

Vladimir Lenin asserted, "The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation."

And that is precisely Obama's political model.

But the problem with the socialist model is, as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher aptly noted, "they always run out of other people's money."

If I could emphasize but one point, it would be this: The Left has bankrupted the nation and the bill for freeloading on others is coming due. It will most certainly be paid back in the currency of liberty.

The time is at hand when we must inquire with a unified voice: "If there is no constitutional authority for most laws and regulations enacted by Congress and enforced by the central government, then by what authority do those entities lay and collect taxes to fund such laws and regulations?" (See the Patriot Declaration.)
23577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Charles Murray: Vouchers, Charter Schools, and , , , on: May 05, 2010, 06:28:36 AM
THE latest evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the oldest and most extensive system of vouchers and charter schools in America, came out last month, and most advocates of school choice were disheartened by the results.

The evaluation by the School Choice Demonstration Project, a national research group that matched more than 3,000 students from the choice program and from regular public schools, found that pupils in the choice program generally had “achievement growth rates that are comparable” to similar Milwaukee public-school students. This is just one of several evaluations of school choice programs that have failed to show major improvements in test scores, but the size and age of the Milwaukee program, combined with the rigor of the study, make these results hard to explain away.

So let’s not try to explain them away. Why not instead finally acknowledge that standardized test scores are a terrible way to decide whether one school is better than another? This is true whether the reform in question is vouchers, charter schools, increased school accountability, smaller class sizes, better pay for all teachers, bonuses for good teachers, firing of bad teachers — measured by changes in test scores, each has failed to live up to its hype.

It should come as no surprise. We’ve known since the landmark Coleman Report of 1966, which was based on a study of more than 570,000 American students, that the measurable differences in schools explain little about differences in test scores. The reason for the perpetual disappointment is simple: Schools control only a small part of what goes into test scores.

Cognitive ability, personality and motivation come mostly from home. What happens in the classroom can have some effect, but smart and motivated children will tend to learn to read and do math even with poor instruction, while not-so-smart or unmotivated children will often have trouble with those subjects despite excellent instruction. If test scores in reading and math are the measure, a good school just doesn’t have that much room to prove it is better than a lesser school.

As an advocate of school choice, all I can say is thank heavens for the Milwaukee results. Here’s why: If my fellow supporters of charter schools and vouchers can finally be pushed off their obsession with test scores, maybe we can focus on the real reason that school choice is a good idea. Schools differ in what they teach and how they teach it, and parents care deeply about both, regardless of whether test scores rise.

Here’s an illustration. The day after the Milwaukee results were released, I learned that parents in the Maryland county where I live are trying to start a charter school that will offer a highly traditional curriculum long on history, science, foreign languages, classic literature, mathematics and English composition, taught with structure and discipline. This would give parents a choice radically different from the progressive curriculum used in the county’s other public schools.

I suppose that test scores might prove that such a charter school is “better” than ordinary public schools, if the test were filled with questions about things like gerunds and subjunctive clauses, the three most important events of 1776, and what Occam’s razor means. But those subjects aren’t covered by standardized reading and math tests. For this reason, I fully expect that students at such a charter school would do little better on Maryland’s standardized tests than comparably smart students in the ordinary public schools.

And yet, knowing that, I would still send my own children to that charter school in a heartbeat. They would be taught the content that I think they need to learn, in a manner that I consider appropriate.

This personal calculation is familiar to just about every parent reading these words. Our children’s education is extremely important to us, and the greater good doesn’t much enter into it — hence all the politicians who oppose vouchers but send their own children to private schools. The supporters of school choice need to make their case on the basis of that shared parental calculation, not on the red herring of test scores.

There are millions of parents out there who don’t have enough money for private school but who have thought just as sensibly and care just as much about their children’s education as affluent people do. Let’s use the money we are already spending on education in a way that gives those parents the same kind of choice that wealthy people, liberal and conservative alike, exercise right now. That should be the beginning and the end of the argument for school choice.

Charles Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of “Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality.”
23578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH on the attempted Times Square bomber on: May 05, 2010, 06:23:33 AM
They took their places in the wood-paneled courtroom, 58 people from 32 countries. They listened as a federal magistrate banged the gavel and said it was “a wonderful day for the United States”— the day they would become Americans.

The magistrate talked about Thomas Jefferson and told the group that they could run for office — only the presidency and the vice presidency were off limits, according to a tape recording of the proceedings in a Bridgeport, Conn., courtroom last year, on April 17. On her instructions, they raised their right hands and repeated the oath of citizenship.
One man in the group was the Pakistani-born Faisal Shahzad, whose father or grandfather was a Pakistani military official and who, at 29, had spent a decade in the United States, collecting a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree and landing a job with a Connecticut financial marketing company.

He had obtained citizenship through marriage to a woman who was born in Colorado — the authorities say she and their two young children are still in Pakistan, where they believe he was trained in making bombs last year in Waziristan, a tribal area that is a haven for militants.

On Saturday, the authorities said, Mr. Shahzad drove a Nissan Pathfinder packed with explosives and detonators, leaving it in Times Square.

About 7 p.m., as a robot from the bomb squad was being summoned to the S.U.V., Mr. Shahzad called his landlord from the train to Connecticut and said he had lost his keys; in a criminal complaint filed on Tuesday, the authorities said the keys had been locked inside the Pathfinder.

The landlord met him at the apartment that night to let him in. “He looked nervous,” said the landlord, Stanislaw Chomiak, who had rented him a two-bedroom apartment in Bridgeport since Feb. 15. “But I thought, of course he’s nervous, he just lost his keys.”

In nearly a dozen years in this country, Mr. Shahzad had gone to school, held steady jobs, bought and sold real estate, and kept his immigration status in good order, giving no sign to those he interacted with that he had connections to terrorists in Pakistan. Nor was there any indication that he would try to wreak havoc in one of the world’s most crowded places, Times Square.

His neighbors in Connecticut said the things neighbors always say about someone who suddenly turns up in the headlines — he was quiet, he was polite, he went jogging late at night. Like so many others, he lost a house to foreclosure — a real estate broker who helped him buy the house, in Shelton, Conn., in 2004 remembered that Mr. Shahzad did not like President George W. Bush or the Iraq war.

“I didn’t take it for much,” said the broker, Igor Djuric, “because around that time not many people did.”

George LaMonica, a 35-year-old computer consultant, said he bought his two-bedroom condominium in Norwalk, Conn., from Mr. Shahzad for $261,000 in May 2004. A few weeks after he moved in, Mr. LaMonica said, investigators from the national Joint Terrorism Task Force interviewed him, asking for details of the transaction and for information about Mr. Shahzad. It struck Mr. LaMonica as unusual, but he said detectives told him they were simply “checking everything out.”

Mr. Shahzad was born in Pakistan in 1979, though there is some confusion over where. Officials in Pakistan said it was in Nowshera, an area in northern Pakistan known for its Afghan refugee camps. But on a university application that Mr. Shahzad had filled out and that was found in the maggot-covered garbage outside the Shelton house on Tuesday, he listed Karachi.

Pakistani officials said Mr. Shahzad was either a son or a grandson of Baharul Haq, who retired as a vice air marshal in 1992 and then joined the Civil Aviation Authority.

A Pakistani official said Mr. Shahzad might have had affiliations with Ilyas Kashmiri, a militant linked to Al Qaeda who was formerly associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba, an anti-India militant group once nurtured by the Pakistani state. But friends said the family was well respected and nonpolitical.

“Neither Faisal nor his family has ever had any links with any jihadist or religious organization,” one friend said. Another, a lawyer, said that “the family is in a state of shock,” adding, “They believe that their son has been implicated in a fake case.”

Mr. Shahzad apparently went back and forth to Pakistan often, returning most recently in February after what he said was five months visiting his family, prosecutors said. A Pakistani intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mr. Shahzad had traveled with three passports, two from Pakistan and one from the United States; he last secured a Pakistani passport in 2000, describing his nationality as “Kashmiri.”

Mr. Shahzad’s generation grew up in a Pakistan where alcohol had been banned and Islam had been forced into schools and communities as a doctrine and a national glue.
23579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Immigration issues in Britain on: May 05, 2010, 06:13:45 AM
LUTON, England — When Mohammed Qurban stood outside the Jamia mosque in the heavily Muslim Bury Park district on Tuesday and spoke anxiously about Britain’s record-high levels of immigration, he was reflecting a powerful undercurrent that could help tip victory in dozens of constituencies in Thursday’s general election to the main opposition groups vying with the governing Labour Party for power, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Nick Griffin, British National Party leader, waited to confront the Conservatives’ David Cameron in Dagenham on Saturday.
“I think this country is coming overpopulated, too many people coming in from everywhere, especially Europe,” Mr. Qurban said, as fellow worshipers nodded in assent. In particular, he said, thousands of Poles in Luton were taking jobs from the children and grandchildren of a previous generation of immigrants like himself, those who arrived from Pakistan in one of Britain’s early waves of migration in the 1960s.

The conversation with Mr. Qurban, and at least a dozen others like it with Muslims in Luton, captured a shift of potentially far-reaching significance. The most strident opponents of large-scale immigration have traditionally been white, native-born Britons, and their favorite target immigrant blacks and Asians, particularly Muslims.

The incongruity was not lost on Mr. Qurban, 56, a rental agent who seemed keen to separate himself from the skinheads and others whose anti-immigrant agitation has sometimes turned violent. “This is my town, this is my bread-and-butter,” he said. “I’m a law-abiding citizen, never crossed the line, that is definitely out of order. The Poles have a problem at home as we do in Pakistan, no jobs, no money. I want to go along with them. But definitely, it’s up to the government to put a cap on it.”

The Poles, of course, are not technically immigrants. As part of the European Union, Britain is subject to its labor laws, which guarantee free movement of workers among member nations. With the financial crisis and the evaporation of millions of jobs, these legal migrants — accounting for 40 percent of the inflow in Britain — have stirred tensions throughout the union. The other 60 percent are foreigners, most of them illegal immigrants.

Voters consistently rank the high level of immigration as one of the most pressing issues, after the recession-hit economy, the state-run health service and crime. But since the 1950s, when Caribbean immigrants gave the country its first experience of large-scale, sustained population inflows, it has been an issue that has carried the potential for electoral disaster. Then and in succeeding decades, when new arrivals began arriving in large numbers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, any politician advocating stricter curbs risked drawing charges of racism, as well as alienating increasingly important voter blocs.

But this election has been different, with all three major parties saying something must be done to reduce migrant flows that have brought a net inflow since Labour came to power in 1997 of about two million foreigners, many of them people who found their way into Britain without prior approval. (a.k.a. illegally  rolleyes)

That has been enough to have government statisticians predict that the population of Britain, already one of Europe’s most overcrowded nations, could grow by nearly 10 million, to 70 million, within 20 years, according to the Office for National Statistics, a government agency.

Luton, a city 50 miles northwest of London where a fifth of the population of about 100,000 are of Asian origin, has been a microcosm, in many ways, of the challenges immigration has posed. The party winning the constituency of Luton South, where most of the city’s Muslims live, has won every general election in Britain since 1951.

For the last decade, Luton has been a byword for many of Britain’s social and economic afflictions, as well as for tensions over immigrant communities. It has long been a down-at-the-heels neighbor to the more prosperous cities and towns that surround it. A major blow came in the last decade, when General Motors closed a local car plant, with the loss of more than 30,000 jobs.

When four Islamic suicide bombers attacked London’s transit system on July 7, 2005, killing 56 people, including themselves, they set off from Luton. Last year, Muslim extremists caused an outcry when they disrupted a parade for British soldiers returning from Iraq. Soon after, a Luton mosque was firebombed.

But there has been little sign of ethnic tensions in the current campaign, in which Luton South has been singled out as one of about 100 Labour-held “marginal” seats the Conservatives need as part of their strategy for winning the election. Conservative hopes have been raised by the disgracing of the departing Labour member of Parliament, Margaret Moran, who said she was stepping down after drawing headlines in last year’s scandal over parliamentary expenses.

But the immigration issue is the one that could cut most into the Labour vote. Labour, traditionally strong with immigrants, has defended its record by saying that new rules since the last election have brought arrivals down sharply from a high of 330,000 in 2007 to 250,000 in 2008 — though much of the difference was accounted for by Europeans who chose voluntarily to go home. The Conservatives have said they will introduce a cap on the total numbers, reducing the inflow by as much as 50 percent.

Liberal Democrats also favor a reduction, but would grant an amnesty to an estimated one million illegal immigrants who can prove they have been in Britain for 10 years.

Even the far-right British National Party has changed its policy, bowing to court rulings that threatened it with a ban unless it shed its whites-only dogmas. Now it favors an end to all immigration, although it says people from “alien cultures” should be offered $75,000 each to accept “voluntary repatriation.”

“It’s not about race,” Nick Griffin, the party’s leader, said in an interview over the weekend as he led a noisy protest against David Cameron, the Conservative leader, in the London suburb of Romford. “What we’re saying is, ‘Britain is full up. The door is closed.’ ”

An influential immigration-monitoring group, Migration Watch, says it, too, sees the issue as having moved beyond race. “It’s about numbers and space, not about race,” said Sir Andrew Green, a former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who leads the group. “We’re a very small island, and the issue is what it will mean to the country if the population grows to 70 million in 20 years’ time.”
23580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 04, 2010, 04:40:05 PM
IMHO storage technology is accelerating exponentially and costs are dropping dramatically.  No firewall to be found on that front.
23581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WTF?!? :x on: May 04, 2010, 11:58:59 AM
This has me looking like a Jewish Don King

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8EjQrrsZIU&feature=player_embedded

especially when combined with this:

Bailout Bill Would Require Banks to Track and Report Personal Checking Accounts to Feds

Published on 04-30-2010

It’s amazing to watch the civil libertarians hide when Democrats propose the most sweeping intrusions of privacy in generations.  In addition to the litany of bad policies contained in the Dodd Financial Reform bill is this nugget on pages 1039-1040.  In short, it extends government reach to every deposit account of every citizen.

Required Acct MonitoringSubtitle G of the Dodd discussion draft bill requires that records be maintained and reported “for each branch, automated teller machine at which deposits are accepted, and other deposit taking service facility with respect to any financial institution, the financial institution shall maintain a record of the number and dollar amounts of deposit accounts of customers.”

What’s worse, banks will be required to submit these records to the new super regulatory agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (page 1041).  The CFPA will be allowed to use this information for any purpose “as permitted by law” under CFPA rules—rules set by CFPA themselves.

So, lets get this straight—the law requires banks to snoop on its customers MOST PERSONAL INFORMATION and submit it to another government agency so it can be used anyway the CFPA see’s fit.

Must submit to CFPASo, if the CFPA Czar see’s fit, information about your deposit account activity could be shared with the IRS, immigration officials, state officials, or any other entity that the Administration and their various Czar’s think beneficial.

But CFPA will impact your life even before they give away your personal data. Remember that part of the excuse for including this authority is to make policy recommendations. So, be careful not to run your credit limit too high above the amount of money you are depositing in the bank or the CFPA will know you can’t pay your bills and make the appropriate “policy recommendations”.

This is exactly why conservatives have fought so hard against things like national ID cards—if the government is authorized to collect and utilize data, there is no way to prevent the government as a whole or certain individuals within the government from using the information against the citizens.

But passage of the CFPA will settle the whole ID card thing once and for all. There will be no need for them because if you have a bank account, you already have a number and the CFPA will have it.

The breadth of sweeping new powers given to the federal government by these three pages is astonishing.  Yet we have heard nary a peep about this provision.

After capitulation and surrender, Republicans will have a chance to amend the legislation when it comes to the floor of the Senate and protect the private details of your banking account.

But if they don’t, smile the next time you go to the ATM because Big Brother will be watching.

article: http://www.blacklistednews.com/news-8469-0-13-13--.html

 
23582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison on: May 04, 2010, 05:46:36 AM
"I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution." --James Madison, letter to Henry Lee, 1824
23583  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Footwear on: May 04, 2010, 05:39:15 AM
BB:

If you do get them, just take the time to ease your way into them.  Tune in to the feedback from your feet.  Listen carefully to the feedback you get as you play with and adjust your gait.  In your case I would pay particular attention to some release of the femur rotators (piriformis and adductors)-- remind me and we will work this a bit at next class.
23584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The fecklessness continues , , , on: May 04, 2010, 05:31:29 AM
WSJ:

UNITED NATIONS — The Obama administration for the first time made public the extent of the U.S.'s atomic weapons arsenal, as the U.S. and Iran dueled for the international backing of their strategic agendas.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad both addressed a special U.N. conference on the global nuclear nonproliferation regime Monday as Washington pushes for a new round of sanctions against Iran for its nuclear work.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Ahmadinejad sought to define the other nation's nuclear capability as the principal threat to international stability. The Iranian president charged Washington with leading a skewed international system that seeks to deny peaceful nuclear power to developing nations while allowing allies such as Israel to stockpile atomic arms.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slams U.S. nuclear policy and denies his nation is seeking atomic weapons. Plus, the market rallies on news of a major airline merger and BP begins drilling a relief well in the hopes of stopping the oil from continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.
."The first atomic weapons were produced and used by the United States," Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a 35-minute morning speech laced with religious imagery and idioms. "This seemed … to provide the United States and its allies with the upper hand. However, it became the main source of the development and spread of nuclear weapons."

Mrs. Clinton followed in the afternoon by declaring, to the surprise of some delegates, that the U.S. was announcing the size of its nuclear arsenal, as well as the number of atomic weapons it has destroyed from its arsenal; the Pentagon announced the figures in a news conference on Monday.

View Full Image

Getty Images
 
Opponents to Ahmadinejad's regime protested outside the U.N.
.U.S. officials have been working for almost a year to undercut Tehran's charges about Washington's nuclear threat by bringing both transparency to the U.S. program as well as by reducing its numbers. In April, the U.S. and Russia signed a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that lowers the numbers of deployed American and Russian nuclear weapons to their lowest levels since the 1950s. The U.S. also hosted a nuclear security conference in Washington last month.

"So for those who doubt that the U.S. will do its part on disarmament: This is our record—these are our commitments—and they send a clear signal." Mrs. Clinton told the conference.

The Pentagon said the U.S. had a total of 5,113 nuclear warheads in its stockpile as of Sept. 30, plus a few thousand more that had been retired but still needed to be dismantled. Between fiscal years 1994 and 2009, the U.S. dismanted 8,748 nuclear warheads. At its peak at the end of fiscal year 1967, the U.S. had 31,255 warheads, the Pentagon said.

It was the first time the U.S. has disclosed those figures, which had been previously regarded as highly classified. A senior defense official said at a Pentagon briefing that the stockpile had been reduced by 75% since 1989 and roughly 84% since 1967.

Also on Monday, Mrs. Clinton said Washington will continue to increase funding and technical support for countries pursuing civilian nuclear power while adhering to safeguards that prevent the development of military applications.

After Mr. Ahmadinejad had charged the U.S. with double standards by tacitly supporting Israel's assumed nuclear program, Mrs. Clinton said the Obama administration supported a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Mideast once progress is made in pushing forward the Arab-Israeli peace process. She added that the administration would support such zones in Africa and the South Pacific.

The Obama administration is in the final stages of a global push to enact new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear work. Mrs. Clinton on Monday met nations seen as still on the fence on the sanctions issue, such as Brazil. And President Barack Obama released a statement claiming the course of Iran's nuclear work could define whether the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the subject of the monthlong U.N. conference, survives into the 21st century. The NPT holds existing weapons states to reduce their arms and other countries not to pursue them.

Related Video
U.S. and U.K. Step Out as Ahmadinejad Speak
The Ticking Clock on Iran Nukes (04/22/10)
Iran Launches War Games (04/22/10)
Ahmadinejad Criticizes Obama's Nuclear Proposal (04/07/10)
Iran, U.S. Battle in Shadows of Afghan Offensive (03/25/10)

.Further Reading
John Bolton: Get Ready for Nuclear Iran
Metropolis: Who Protects Ahmadinejad in NYC?
U.S. Revises Mideast-Arms Tack
Complete Coverage: WSJ.com/Mideast
.Mr. Ahmadinejad, in his speech, called for a vast remaking of the global institutions guarding the development of nuclear technologies, while denying his own nation was seeking atomic weapons.

British, American and French diplomats walked out of his speech in quick succession about 10 minutes into its delivery.

The U.S. release of nuclear data reverses decades of Cold War doctrine that concluded that the U.S.'s national security could be threatened if Washington's adversaries knew the size and status of its nuclear arsenal. China and Russia have made similar arguments in denying U.S. calls for them to provide greater transparency.

The U.S.'s nuclear program has been regularly tracked by specialty websites. Some voiced little surprise with the released numbers.

The release of the nuclear data was vigorously debated inside the White House and Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Mrs. Clinton stressed Monday that the conclusion was that it served the U.S.'s national security interests by placing the issue of transparency back on the shoulders of nations such as Iran and North Korea.

View Slideshow

Chris Hondros/Getty Images
 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the conference on the enforcement of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Monday.
.More photos and interactive graphics
.Conservative critics quickly attacked the release of the nuclear data. "From a strategic standpoint I think the problem is that it becomes yet another ax to grind against the United States: You have X and we only have Y, and … we are not going to disarm until you have Y," said Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. "It puts us at parity with other countries, which we are not."
23585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: May 04, 2010, 05:01:03 AM
Amen!!!
23586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT on Recission on: May 03, 2010, 05:24:03 PM
End to Rescission, and More Good News Recommend
Twitter
comments
 (135)
               
E-Mail
 
Send To Phone
Print
 
Share
Close
LinkedinDiggFacebookMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink Published: May 2, 2010
Americans are already starting to see the benefits of health care reform. The new law requires health insurance companies — starting in September — to end their most indefensible practice: rescinding coverage after a policyholder gets sick. In recent days insurers and their trade association have rushed to announce that they will end rescissions immediately.

Skip to next paragraph
Editorial Series
Health Care Reform
Readers' Comments
Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
Read All Comments (135) »
That is very good news for the thousands of people who each year pay their premiums but lose their coverage just when they are likely to run up big medical bills.

The insurers decided to act quickly after they were whacked by some very bad publicity. An investigative report by Reuters said that one of the nation’s biggest insurers, WellPoint, was targeting women with breast cancer for fraud investigations that could lead to rescissions.

Although WellPoint fiercely denied singling out breast cancer patients for scrutiny, it acknowledged using computer algorithms to search for a range of conditions that applicants would likely have known about at the time they applied. That seemed like a backhanded admission that it was indeed searching for excuses — the company would say legitimate reasons — to cancel coverage. The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats urged insurers to end rescissions at once.

Insurers claim policies are rescinded only when people have misrepresented or lied about their health status or other important factors at the time of application. Insurers do rescissions only on individual policies, not employer-based coverage. They argued that to keep down rates for the rest of their customers they needed the ability to exclude people who failed to report pre-existing conditions.

An investigation and hearings last year by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce challenged those claims. They found many troubling cases where the pre-existing conditions were trivial, unrelated to the claim, or not known to the patient.

Some companies issued policies quickly to start collecting premiums and only later, if a policyholder filed expensive claims, performed a detailed examination of medical records. If they found any discrepancies or omissions, they would retroactively cancel the policy, refund the premiums paid, and refuse to pay for further medical services. At that point, of course, the applicant would be unable to get coverage from any other insurer.

The House investigation found that three big insurers rescinded some 20,000 policies over a five-year period, and a survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found more than 27,000 rescissions in an overlapping five-year period. That’s a small percentage of the millions of policies issued or in force in any given year, but a disaster for the thousands of people who lost their insurance.

The insurers were wise to short-circuit the criticisms and end rescissions now. This follows a recent agreement by many companies to start letting dependents stay on their parents’ policies until age 26, which isn’t required until September. Under pressure from the White House, the industry has also agreed to cover children with pre-existing medical conditions as soon as new rules are issued.

Many of the other major provisions of reform don’t kick in until 2014, but it is already changing the behavior of insurers. That means more security for many Americans who might otherwise find insurance unaffordable or unavailable
23587  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Footwear on: May 03, 2010, 05:03:13 PM
"My understanding about the "not suitable" for fucking is that they tend to wear a bit faster than other boots"

 cheesy cheesy cheesy
23588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 03, 2010, 04:59:48 PM
Let's take this to the Homeland Security thread.
23589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: May 03, 2010, 11:03:59 AM
Oh I dunno , , , maybe as an extra on one of our DVDs , , ,
23590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: May 03, 2010, 11:03:14 AM
I think GM was asking whether we were glad to have video from a surveillance camera , , ,
23591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bolton: Get ready on: May 03, 2010, 11:00:28 AM
By JOHN BOLTON
Negotiations grind on toward a fourth U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran's nuclear weapons program, even as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in New York to address the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. Sanctions advocates acknowledge that the Security Council's ultimate product will do no more than marginally impede Iran's progress.

In Congress, sanctions legislation also creaks along, but that too is simply going through the motions. Russia and China have already rejected key proposals to restrict Iran's access to international financial markets and choke off its importation of refined petroleum products, which domestically are in short supply. Any new U.S. legislation will be ignored and evaded, thus rendering it largely symbolic. Even so, President Obama has opposed the legislation, arguing that unilateral U.S. action could derail his Security Council efforts.

The further pursuit of sanctions is tantamount to doing nothing. Advocating such policies only benefits Iran by providing it cover for continued progress toward its nuclear objective. It creates the comforting illusion of "doing something." Just as "diplomacy" previously afforded Iran the time and legitimacy it needed, sanctions talk now does the same.

Speculating about regime change stopping Iran's nuclear program in time is also a distraction. The Islamic Revolution's iron fist, and willingness to use it against dissenters (who are currently in disarray), means we cannot know whether or when the regime may fall. Long-term efforts at regime change, desirable as they are, will not soon enough prevent Iran from creating nuclear weapons with the ensuing risk of further regional proliferation.

We therefore face a stark, unattractive reality. There are only two options: Iran gets nuclear weapons, or someone uses pre-emptive military force to break Iran's nuclear fuel cycle and paralyze its program, at least temporarily.

There is no possibility the Obama administration will use force, despite its confused and ever-changing formulation about the military option always being "on the table." That leaves Israel, which the administration is implicitly threatening not to resupply with airplanes and weapons lost in attacking Iran—thereby rendering Israel vulnerable to potential retaliation from Hezbollah and Hamas.

It is hard to conclude anything except that the Obama administration is resigned to Iran possessing nuclear weapons. While U.S. policy makers will not welcome that outcome, they certainly hope as a corollary that Iran can be contained and deterred. Since they have ruled out the only immediate alternative, military force, they are doubtless now busy preparing to make lemonade out of this pile of lemons.

President Obama's likely containment/deterrence strategy will feature security assurances to neighboring countries and promises of American retaliation if Iran uses its nuclear weapons. Unfortunately for this seemingly muscular rhetoric, the simple fact of Iran possessing nuclear weapons would alone dramatically and irreparably alter the Middle East balance of power. Iran does not actually have to use its capabilities to enhance either its regional or global leverage.

Facile analogies to Cold War deterrence rest on the dubious, unproven belief that Iran's nuclear calculus will approximate the Soviet Union's. Iran's theocratic regime and the high value placed on life in the hereafter makes this an exceedingly dangerous assumption.

Even if containment and deterrence might be more successful against Iran than just suggested, nuclear proliferation doesn't stop with Tehran. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and perhaps others will surely seek, and very swiftly, their own nuclear weapons in response. Thus, we would imminently face a multipolar nuclear Middle East waiting only for someone to launch first or transfer weapons to terrorists. Ironically, such an attack might well involve Israel only as an innocent bystander, at least initially.

We should recognize that an Israeli use of military force would be neither precipitate nor disproportionate, but only a last resort in anticipatory self-defense. Arab governments already understand that logic and largely share it themselves. Such a strike would advance both Israel's and America's security interests, and also those of the Arab states.

Nonetheless, the intellectual case for that strike must be better understood in advance by the American public and Congress in order to ensure a sympathetic reaction by Washington. Absent Israeli action, no one should base their future plans on anything except coping with a nuclear Iran.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
23592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Borders we deserve on: May 03, 2010, 10:44:31 AM
By ROSS DOUTHAT
Published: May 2, 2010
Critics of Arizona’s new immigration law have not been shy about impugning the motives of its supporters. The measure, which requires police to check the immigration status of people they question or detain, has been denounced as a “Nazi” or “near-fascist” law, a “police state” intervention, an imitation of “apartheid,” a “Juan Crow” regime that only a bigot could possibly support.

Faced with this kind of hyperbole, the supposed bigots have understandably returned the favor, dismissing opponents of the Arizona measure as limousine liberals who don’t understand the grim realities of life along an often-lawless border. And so the debate has become a storm of insults rather than an argument.

On the specifics of the law, Arizona’s critics have legitimate concerns. Their hysteria has been egregious: you would never guess, amid all the heavy breathing about desert fascism, that federal law already requires legal immigrants to carry proof of their status at all times. But the measure is problematic nonetheless. The majority of police officers, already overburdened, will probably enforce it only intermittently. For an overzealous minority, it opens obvious opportunities for harassment and abuse.

Just because this is the wrong way to enforce America’s immigration laws, however, doesn’t mean they don’t need to be enforced. Illegal immigrants are far more sympathetic than your average lawbreaker: they’re risk-takers looking for a better life in the United States, something they have in common with nearly every living American’s ancestors. But by denouncing almost any crackdown on them as inherently bigoted and cruel, the “pro-immigrant” side of the debate is ultimately perpetuating a deeply unjust system.

There’s a good argument, on moral and self-interested grounds alike, that the United States should be as welcoming as possible to immigrants. But there’s no compelling reason that we should decide which immigrants to welcome based on their proximity to our border, and their ability to slip across.

It takes nothing away from Mexico or Mexicans to note that millions upon millions of people worldwide would give anything for the chance to migrate to America. Many come from nations that are poorer than our southern neighbor. Many have endured natural disasters, or suffered political or religious persecution. And many have spent years navigating our byzantine immigration bureaucracy, only to watch politicians in both parties dangle the promise of amnesty in front of people who jumped the border and the line.

As of the mid-2000s, roughly 700,000 migrants were entering the United States illegally every year. Fifty-seven percent came from Mexico, and 24 percent from the rest of Latin America. Only 13 percent came from Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific Rim.

In a better world, the United States would welcome hundreds of thousands more legal immigrants annually, from a much wider array of countries. A more diverse immigrant population would have fewer opportunities to self-segregate and stronger incentives to assimilate. Fears of a Spanish-speaking reconquista would diminish, and so would the likelihood of backlash. And instead of being heavily skewed toward low-skilled migrants, our system could tilt toward higher-skilled applicants, making America more competitive and less stratified.

Such a system would also be fairer to the would-be immigrants themselves. America has always prided itself on attracting people from every culture, continent and creed. In a globalized world, aspiring Americans in Zimbabwe or Burma should compete on a level playing field with Mexicans and Salvadorans. The American dream should seem no more unattainable in China than in Chihuahua.

But this can only happen if America first regains control of its southern border. There is a widespread pretense that this has been tried and found to be impossible, when really it’s been found difficult and left untried.

Curbing the demand for illegal workers requires stiff workplace enforcement, stringent penalties for hiring undocumented workers, and shared sacrifice from Americans accustomed to benefiting from cheap labor. Reducing the supply requires bigger Border Patrol budgets and enforcement measures that will inevitably be criticized as draconian: some kind of tamper-proof Social Security card, most likely, and then more physical walls along our southern border, as opposed to the “virtual” wall that the Obama administration seems to be wisely abandoning.

You can see why our leaders would rather duck the problem. But when Washington doesn’t act, the people on the front lines end up taking matters into their own hands.

If you don’t like what Arizona just did, the answer isn’t to scream “fascist!” It’s to demand that the federal government do its job, so that we can have the immigration system that both Americans and immigrants deserve.
=====
PS:  I just made those two call too.
23593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Founding Amateurs? on: May 03, 2010, 10:12:39 AM
By GORDON S. WOOD
Published: May 2, 2010
Providence, R.I.

Skip to next paragraph
Enlarge This Image
 
Alex Nabaum
THE American public is not pleased with Congress — one recent poll shows that less than a third of all voters are eager to support their representative in November. “I am not really happy right now with anybody,” a woman from Decatur, Ill., recently told a Washington Post reporter. As she considered the prospect of a government composed of fledgling lawmakers, she noted: “When the country was founded, those guys were all pretty new at it. How bad could it be?”

Actually, our founders were not all that new at it: the men who led the revolution against the British crown and created our political institutions were very used to governing themselves. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and John Adams were all members of their respective Colonial legislatures several years before the Declaration of Independence. In fact, these Revolutionaries drew upon a tradition of self-government that went back a century or more. Virginians ran their county courts and elected representatives to their House of Burgesses. The people of Massachusetts gathered in town meetings and selected members of the General Court, their Colonial legislature.

Of course, women, slaves and men without property could not vote; nevertheless, by the mid-18th century roughly two out of three adult white male colonists could vote, the highest proportion of voters in the world. By contrast, only about one in six adult males in England could vote for members of Parliament.

If one wanted to explain why the French Revolution spiraled out of control into violence and dictatorship and the American Revolution did not, there is no better answer than the fact that the Americans were used to governing themselves and the French were not. In 18th-century France no one voted; their Estates-General had not even met since 1614. The American Revolution occurred when it did because the British government in the 1760s and 1770s suddenly tried to interfere with this long tradition of American self-government.

Of course, a deep distrust of political power, especially executive power, had always been a part of this tradition of self-government. Consequently, when the newly independent Americans drew up their Revolutionary state constitutions in 1776, most states generally limited the number of years their annually elected governors could successively hold office.

“A long continuance in the first executive departments of power or trust is dangerous to liberty,” declared the Maryland Constitution. “A rotation, therefore, in those departments is one of the best securities of permanent freedom.” In addition to specifying term limits for its plural executive, the radical Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 required that after four annual terms even the assemblymen would have to give way to a new set of legislators so they would “return to mix with the mass of the people and feel at their leisure the effects of the laws which they have made.”

At the same time, the Articles of Confederation also provided that no state delegate to the Congress could serve more than three years out of six.

In the decade after the Declaration of Independence, however, many American leaders had second thoughts about what they had done amid the popular enthusiasm of 1776. Since many of the state legislatures were turning over roughly 50 percent of their membership annually and passing a flood of ill-drafted and unjust legislation, stability and experience seemed to be what was most needed.

As a consequence, many leaders in the 1780s proposed major changes to their constitutional structures, including the abolition of term limits. In Pennsylvania, reformers eliminated rotation in office on the grounds that “the privilege of the people in elections is so far infringed as they are thereby deprived of the right of choosing those persons whom they would prefer.”

The new federal Constitution, itself a reaction to the excessive populism of 1776, also did away with any semblance of term limits, much to the chagrin of Thomas Jefferson and many others uneasy over the extraordinary power of the presidency. Jefferson thought that without rotation in office the president would always be re-elected and thus would serve for life. When he became president he stepped down after two terms and thus affirmed the precedent that Washington had established — a precedent finally made part of the Constitution by the 22nd Amendment in 1951.

Although federal term limits have been confined to the presidency, the fear of entrenched and far-removed political power, as the present anti-incumbency mood suggests, remains very much part of American popular culture. Yet precisely because we are such a rambunctious and democratic people, as the framers of 1787 appreciated, we have learned that a government made up of rotating amateurs cannot maintain the steadiness and continuity that our expansive Republic requires.

Gordon S. Wood, a professor emeritus of history at Brown, is the author, most recently, of “Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815.”
23594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on: May 03, 2010, 08:32:00 AM
"They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please.... Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." --Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on National Bank, 1791

"The Constitution on which our Union rests, shall be administered by me [as President] according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the people of the United States at the time of its adoption -- a meaning to be found in the explanations of those who advocated, not those who opposed it, and who opposed it merely lest the construction should be applied which they denounced as possible." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mesrs. Eddy, Russel, Thurber, Wheaton and Smith, 1801
23595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: May 02, 2010, 05:36:54 PM
Additional comments from my friend:

I am not beating the drum for the ratings agencies to be “the responsible party”.  I am merely pointing out that the ratings agencies were an important part of the entire regulated system.  The regulatory system encouraged reliance upon the evaluations of the agencies.

 

As the 1990’s progressed, purchasers of credit securities wanted higher yields than government bonds and bank deposit interest were providing.  Mortgage securities appeared to be the right answer to this market demand.  Conventional wisdom held that real estate value would remain relatively stable.  Default rates were low and predictable.  In fact, prepayment was thought to be the biggest risk to an MBS holder.  Yields were better than traditionally safe investments.  Prepayment and default risk could be minimized by spreading these risks across large pools of mortgages.  The largest issuers of MBS were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of which possessed the undeclared backing of the federal government.

 

As interest rates remained low in this decade, more and more investors flocked to the higher relative yields of the MBS.  This led Wall Street to create derivatives so that large holders of MBS could hedge their risk.  In this environment, there were likely sales abuses.  However, Wall Street did not cause large numbers of sophisticated and unsophisticated investors to buy mortgage debt and the derivatives of mortgage debt.  Higher yield combined with apparent relative safety caused the demand for these securities to skyrocket.

 

The systemic failure in this area occurred because the assumptions in the generally accepted risk models failed.  The regulators and Wall Street all accepted these assumptions.  Buyers of the debt securities accepted these assumptions.  When the risk model failed, owners of these securities wanted to know the specific default risk they faced in each mortgage security that they owned.  That specific risk was not easily determinable because the securities themselves were complicated.  If someone owned a derivative, they needed first to learn the identities of the actual mortgage securities that the derivative concerned.  Then, they needed to determine the state of the actual mortgages covered by the security referenced by the derivative.  Supply flooded the secondary credit markets and bids dried up because potential buyers could not easily determine the default risk in any security that had been offered.

 

Most everyone in most mortgage securities transactions believed in the same risk models.  The regulators believed in the same risk models.  The rating agencies believed in the same risk models.  The Wall Street firms that made markets, that bought, and that sold these securities believed in the same risk models.  Only a few short sellers using credit default swaps began to doubt those models.

 

Without the demand for higher yields and without the assumption that mortgage securities were almost as safe as US government debt, capital would not have flowed into mortgage securities.  Without that capital, New Century, WaMu, Countrywide and all of the other sub-prime and Alt-A blackguards would not have had possessed capital sufficient to make all of their bad loans.  This does not excuse the fraud at mortgage origination and any fraud committed by any Wall Street firm that marketed mortgage securities and their derivatives.  IMO, however, these things occurred because of the systemic failure; they did not cause the systemic failure.
23596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Drill, baby, drill? on: May 02, 2010, 05:32:47 PM
Most of us here are of the "Drill, baby, drill!" school of thought.  What do we have to say about events in the Gulf of Mexico?
23597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dirty Bombs on: May 02, 2010, 09:10:32 AM
Dirty Bombs Revisited: Combating the Hype
April 22, 2010
By Scott Stewart

Debunking Myths About Nuclear Weapons and Terrorism

As STRATFOR has noted for several years now, media coverage of the threat posed by dirty bombs runs in a perceptible cycle with distinct spikes and lulls. We are currently in one of the periods of heightened awareness and media coverage. A number of factors appear to have sparked the current interest, including the recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama. Other factors include the resurfacing rumors that al Qaeda militant Adnan El Shukrijumah may have returned to the United States and is planning to conduct an attack, as well as recent statements by members of the Obama administration regarding the threat of jihadist militants using weapons of mass destruction (WMD). A recent incident in India in which a number of people were sickened by radioactive metal at a scrap yard in a New Delhi slum also has received a great deal of media coverage.

In spite of the fact that dirty bombs have been discussed widely in the press for many years now — especially since the highly publicized arrest of Jose Padilla in May 2002 — much misinformation and disinformation continues to circulate regarding dirty bombs. The misinformation stems from long-held misconceptions and ignorance, while the disinformation comes from scaremongers hyping the threat for financial or political reasons. Frankly, many people have made a lot of money by promoting fear since 9/11.

Just last week, we read a newspaper article in which a purported expert interviewed by the reporter discussed how a dirty bomb would “immediately cause hundreds or even thousands of deaths.” This is simply not true. A number of radiological accidents have demonstrated that a dirty bomb will not cause this type of death toll. Indeed, the panic generated by a dirty bomb attack could very well result in more immediate deaths than the detonation of the device itself. Unfortunately, media stories hyping the threat of these devices may foster such panic, thus increasing the death toll. To counter this irrational fear, we feel it is time once again to discuss dirty bombs in detail and provide our readers with a realistic assessment of the threat they pose.

Dirty Bombs Defined
A dirty bomb is a type of radiological dispersal device (RDD), and RDDs are, as the name implies, devices that disperse a radiological isotope. Depending on the motives of those planning the attack, an RDD could be a low-key weapon that surreptitiously releases aerosolized radioactive material, dumps out a finely powdered radioactive material or dissolves a radioactive material in water. Such surreptitious dispersal methods would be intended to slowly expose as many people as possible to the radiation and to prolong their exposure. Unless large amounts of a very strong radioactive material are used, however, the effects of such an exposure will be limited. People are commonly exposed to heightened levels of radiation during activities such as air travel and mountain climbing. To cause adverse effects, radiation exposure must occur either in a very high dose over a short period or in smaller doses sustained over a longer period. This is not to say that radiation is not dangerous, but rather the idea that the slightest amount of exposure to radiation causes measurable harm is not accurate.

By its very nature, the RDD is contradictory. Maximizing the harmful effects of radiation involves maximizing the exposure of the victims to the highest possible concentration of a radioisotope. When dispersing the radioisotope, by definition and design the RDD dilutes the concentration of the radiation source, spreading smaller amounts of radiation over a larger area. Additionally, the use of an explosion to disperse the radioisotope alerts the intended victims, who can then evacuate the affected area and be decontaminated. These factors make it very difficult for an attacker to administer a deadly dose of radiation via a dirty bomb.

It is important to note that a dirty bomb is not a nuclear device, and no nuclear reaction occurs. A dirty bomb will not produce an effect like the nuclear devices dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. A dirty bomb is quite simply an RDD that uses explosives as the means to disperse a radioactive isotope, and the only blast effect will be from the explosives used to disperse the radioisotope. In a dirty bomb attack, radioactive material not only is dispersed, but the dispersal is accomplished in an obvious manner, and the explosion immediately alerts the victims and authorities that an attack has taken place. The attackers hope that notice of their attack will cause mass panic — in other words, the RDD is a weapon of fear and terror.

The radioisotopes that can be used to construct an RDD are fairly common. Even those materials considered by many to be the most likely to be used in an RDD, such as cobalt-60 and cesium-137, have legitimate medical, commercial and industrial uses. Organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency warn that such radioisotopes are readily available to virtually any country in the world, and they are almost certainly not beyond the reach of even moderately capable non-state actors. Indeed, given the ease of obtaining radiological isotopes and the ease with which a dirty bomb can be constructed, we are surprised that we have not seen one successfully used in a terror attack. We continue to believe that it is only a matter of time before a dirty bomb is effectively employed somewhere. Because of this, let’s examine what effectively employing a dirty bomb means.

Dirty Bomb Effectiveness
Like a nonexplosive RDD, unless a dirty bomb contains a large amount of very strong radioactive material, the effects of the device are not likely to be immediate and dramatic. In fact, the explosive effect of the RDD is likely to kill more people than the device’s radiological effect. This need for a large quantity of a radioisotope not only creates the challenge of obtaining that much radioactive material, it also means that such a device would be large and unwieldy — and therefore difficult to smuggle into a target such as a subway or stadium.

In practical terms, a dirty bomb can produce a wide range of effects depending on the size of the improvised explosive device (IED) and the amount and type of radioactive material involved. (Powdered radioisotopes are easier to disperse than materials in solid form.) Environmental factors such as terrain, weather conditions and population density would also play an important role in determining the effects of such a device.

Significantly, while the radiological effects of a dirty bomb may not be instantly lethal, the radiological impact of an RDD will in all likelihood affect an area larger than the killing radius of the IED itself, and will persist for far longer. The explosion from a conventional IED is over in an instant, but radiation released by a RDD can persist for decades unless the area is decontaminated. While the radiation level may not be strong enough to affect people exposed briefly in the initial explosion, the radiation will persist in the contaminated area, and the cumulative effects of such radiation could prove very hazardous. (Here again, the area contaminated and the ease of decontamination will depend on the type and quantity of the radioactive material used. Materials in a fine powdered form are easier to disperse and harder to clean up than solid blocks of material.) In either case, it will be necessary to evacuate people from the contaminated area, and people will need to stay out of the area until it can be decontaminated, a process that could prove lengthy and expensive.

Therefore, while a dirty bomb is not truly a WMD like a nuclear device, we frequently refer to them as “weapons of mass disruption” or “weapons of mass dislocation” because they may temporarily render contaminated areas uninhabitable. The expense of decontaminating a large, densely populated area, such as a section of London or Washington, is potentially quite high. This cost would also make a dirty bomb a type of economic weapon.

Historical Precedents
The world has not yet witnessed a successful dirty bomb attack by a terrorist or militant group. That does not necessarily mean that militant groups have not been interested in radiological weapons, however. Chechen militants have perhaps been the most active in the realm of radioactive materials. In November 1995, Chechen militants under the command of Shamil Basayev placed a small quantity of cesium-137 in Moscow’s Izmailovsky Park. Rather than disperse the material, however, the Chechens used the material as a psychological weapon by directing a TV news crew to the location and thus creating a media storm and fostering public fear. The material in this incident was thought to have been obtained from a nuclear waste or isotope storage facility in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

In December 1998, the pro-Russian Chechen Security Service announced it had found a dirty bomb consisting of a land mine combined with radioactive materials next to a railway line frequently used to transport Russian troops. It is believed that Chechen militants planted the device. In September 1999, two Chechen militants who attempted to steal highly radioactive materials from a chemical plant in Grozny were incapacitated after carrying the container for only a few minutes each; one reportedly died. This highlights another difficulty with producing a really effective dirty bomb: The strongest radioactive material is dangerous to handle, and even a suicide operative might not be able to move and employ it before being overtaken by its effects.

Still, none of these Chechen incidents really provided a very good example of what a dirty bomb detonation would actually look like. To do this, we need to look at incidents where radiological isotopes were dispersed by accident. In 1987, in Goiania, Brazil, a tiny radiotherapy capsule of cesium chloride salt was accidentally broken open after being salvaged from a radiation therapy machine left at an abandoned health care facility. Over the course of 15 days, the capsule containing the radioisotope was handled by a number of people who were fascinated by the faint blue glow it gave off. Some victims reportedly even smeared the substance on their bodies. The radiation was then dispersed by these people to various parts of the surrounding neighborhood, and some of it was even taken to nearby towns. In all, more than 1,000 people were contaminated during the incident and some 244 were found to have significant radioactive material in or on their bodies. Still, only four people died from the incident, and most of those who died had sustained exposure to the contamination. In addition to the human toll, the cleanup operation in Goiania cost more than $100 million, as many houses had to be razed and substantial quantities of contaminated soil had to be removed from the area.

In a more recent case involving a scrap dealer, this time in a slum outside New Delhi, India, eight people were admitted to the hospital because of radiation exposure after a scrap dealer dismantled an object containing cobalt-60. The material apparently arrived at a scrap shop March 12, and the owner of the shop was admitted to the hospital April 4 suffering from radiation-poisoning symptoms (again another case involving prolonged exposure to a radiation source). The radiation source was found at the scrap yard April 5 and identified as cobalt-60. Indian authorities hauled away eight piles of contaminated scrap. The cleanup operation was easier in the Indian incident, since the radioactive material was in metallic form and found in larger pieces rather than in powdered form seen in the cesium in Goiania. Intriguingly, a nearby scrap shop also was found to be contaminated April 16, but it appears from initial reports that the second site was contaminated by a second radioactive source that contained a weaker form of cobalt-60. Though we are watching for additional details on this case, so far, despite the long-term exposure to a potent radioactive source, no deaths have been reported.

At the other end of the spectrum from the Goiania and New Delhi accidents is the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in northern Ukraine, when a 1-gigawatt power reactor exploded. It is estimated that more than one hundred times the radiation of the Hiroshima bomb was released during the accident — the equivalent of 50 million to 250 million grams of radium. More than 40 different radioisotopes were released, and there was a measurable rise in cesium-137 levels across the entire European continent. No RDD could ever aspire to anything close to such an effect.

Chernobyl wrought untold suffering, and estimates suggest that it may ultimately contribute to the deaths of 9,000 people. But many of those affected by the radiation are still alive more than 20 years after the accident. While STRATFOR by no means seeks to downplay the tragic human or environmental consequences of this disaster, the incident is instructive when contemplating the potential effects of a dirty bomb attack. In spite of the incredible amounts of radioactive material released at Chernobyl, only 31 people died in the explosion and immediate aftermath. Today, 5.5 million people live in the contaminated zone — many within or near the specified EU dosage limits for people living near operational nuclear power plants.

It is this type of historical example that causes us to be so skeptical regarding claims that a small dirty bomb will cause hundreds or even thousands of deaths. Instead, the most strategic consequences of this sort of destruction are economic. By some estimates, the Chernobyl disaster will ultimately cost well in excess of $100 billion. Again, in our opinion, a dirty bomb should be considered a weapon of disruption — one that will cause economic loss, but would not cause mass casualties or any real mass destruction.

Fighting Panic
Analytically, based upon the ease of manufacture and the historical interest by militants in dirty bombs — which ironically may in part be due to the way the RDD threat has been hyped — it is only a matter of time before militants successfully employ one. Since the contamination created by such a device can be long-lasting, more rational international actors probably would prefer to detonate such a device against a target outside their own country. In other words, they would lean toward attacking a target within the United States or United Kingdom rather than the U.S. or British embassies in their home country.

And since it is not likely to produce mass casualties, a dirty bomb attack would likely be directed against a highly symbolic target — such as one representing the economy or government — and designed to cause the maximum amount of disruption at the target site. Therefore, it is not out of the question to imagine such an attack aimed at a target such as Wall Street or the Pentagon. The device would not destroy these sites, but would limit access to them for as long as it took to decontaminate them.

As noted above, we believe it is possible that the panic caused by a dirty bomb attack could well kill more people than the device itself. People who understand the capabilities and limitations of dirty bombs are less likely to panic than those who do not, which is the reason for this analysis. Another important way to help avoid panic is to carefully think about such an incident in advance and to put in place a carefully crafted contingency plan for your family and business. Contingency plans are especially important for those who work in proximity to a potential dirty bomb target. But they are useful in any disaster, whether natural or man-made, and something that should be practiced by all families and businesses. Such knowledge and planning provide people with the ability to conduct an orderly and methodical evacuation of the affected area. This allows them to minimize their exposure to radioactivity while also minimizing their risk of injury or death due to mass hysteria. For while a dirty bomb attack could well be messy and disruptive, it does not have to be deadly.
23598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Military tells Congress to keep "Don't ask, don't tell" for now on: May 02, 2010, 09:02:11 AM
Military tells Congress to keep gay ban for now - Yahoo! News

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100430/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_military_gays
23599  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Talk - Reviews and Rants on: May 01, 2010, 02:04:01 PM
*That design is not for me at all.

*What do you mean by " wave action knives are starting to become a issue in California"?
23600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Good analysis of Mortgage fraud and regulatory issues on: May 01, 2010, 11:15:44 AM
A friend writes:

I am not claiming the absence of fraud in the origination of mortgages.  I am talking about the impact of mortgage securities and derivatives of mortgage securities upon the balance sheets of deposit banks and investment banks.  Also, I am talking about the creation and sale of these securities and derivative securities by investment banks to other institutional investors.

 

As the real estate boom progressed, banks and mortgage companies originated more and more bad mortgage loans.  These loans continued to be securitized along with the good loans that were originated at the same time.  Even though these mortgage securities contained the bad loans, federal government approved credit rating agencies continued to rate these securities as AAA and AA debt.  Why?  Mainly because of flawed risk models that ignored the individual components of the mortgage security and focused upon quantitative analyses of probable default rates.  These models underestimated the probability and the size of the eventual default rates.

 

The Basel accords encouraged deposit banks and investment banks to invest their own capital into low risk assets.  They also encouraged the same institutions to rely upon the government approved ratings agencies to determine the risk of their assets.  Why?  Because the banks could then show their regulators that government regulated third parties without any financial interest in the bank had determined the riskiness of their assets.

 

Why was there a sudden demand by institutions and people to own mortgage securities?  Simply, it was the low interest rate environment created by the regulators of the deposit banks.  Everyone from Lehman to my parents wanted higher interest.  Mortgages were safe because real estate never went down in value.  Right?

 

So, then, let’s address David’s original complaint.  It focused upon the creators and sellers of the mortgage securities and the derivatives of those securities.  Let’s assume David’s opinion is entirely true.  Still, the investment banks and securities firms operate in a highly regulated environment.  They are self-regulated by FINRA.  In turn, the SEC oversees and must approve every FINRA regulation that is implemented.  Moreover, the SEC itself directly regulates the investment advisory business at these big investment banks, hedge funds at and independent of these banks, and the securities themselves.

 

The Federal Reserve, the OCC, the States’ banking regulators, and the FDIC all regulate and oversee the deposit banks.  Their examiners obviously saw that these banks owned growing amounts of mortgage securities on their balance sheets.  None of these regulators thought to ask these banks why they owned mortgages originated at other banks and not their own.  Why?  Because all of these securities were comprised of slices of lots of mortgages thereby spreading the risk even better than keeping one’s own mortgages plus the regulated ratings agencies all said that this paper was rated AAA and AA.  Diversification.  Ratings.

 

The reason that internal “whistleblowers” (and I use that term loosely) like Mr. Lee were ignored was simply that their employers owned stuff that was rated investment grade and that the employers had bought into the flawed risk model.  Government approved regulators had also approved the risk models.  So had the ratings agencies. 

 

The only effective risk management came from the short sellers like Paulson.  They were the only people that actually looked into the individual mortgage components of each security and derivative.  Also, they had studied the residential and commercial real estate markets and had concerns about another cycle of oversupply.  But they needed investment vehicles through which they could invest against mortgage securities according to their analyses.  Hence, the synthetic CDO.  But since the synthetic CDO is also a security, it, too, is regulated by the SEC.

 

So, the solution proposed by the political class is to create more of the same type of regulatory institutions that have missed the excesses of every investment and credit cycle since their creation.  Yep, next time, it will be different.  Right.  Like Natalie Wood’s character in Miracle on 34th Street, “I believe.  I believe.  I believe …”
Pages: 1 ... 470 471 [472] 473 474 ... 731
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!