Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 01, 2015, 01:35:30 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
90557 Posts in 2292 Topics by 1080 Members
Latest Member: Tedbo
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 471 472 [473] 474 475 ... 701
23601  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq, currently in Jordan 2.0 on: October 24, 2009, 01:46:37 PM
So I am back in Amman overnighting for trip bck to Baghdad tomorrow.  The hotel has quite a few Australian soldiers staying here.  I think they arrived today and would not be surprised if they are on my flight out tomorrow.

Anyway, I have a couple of them on my floor.  They have their room door propped wide open and are walking around in shorts and t-shirts.  This is a 5 star hotel in the capital of a Muslim country.  There are even several fully covered Arab women on my floor and these clowns are walking around like they are back home in their trailers.  The only thing I haven't seen is them drinking beer but the night is still young.

Ths kind of behavior will be remembered far more and far longer than any other "good" things these soldiers may do over here.  They will be rememberedby those who saw them as uncouth and disrespectful.
23602  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran, NK, & Syria on: October 24, 2009, 07:59:42 AM
Iran, N. Korea supplying weapons to Syria


WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Iran has acted as mediator with North Korea to deliver weapons of mass destruction and missile technology to Syria, a congressional report said.

The U.S. Congressional Research Service said in a report released earlier this month that Iran is one of the biggest customers for North Korean arms, acting as a possible go-between for Syria's arsenal.

"Iran purportedly has acted as an intermediary with North Korea to supply Syria with various forms of WMD and missile technology," the report said.

The Israeli air force in 2007 struck a facility near al-Kibar, Syria, which intelligence officials claim was a nuclear reactor of North Korean design under construction since 2001.

A report from Jane's Intelligence Review in February says commercial satellite imagery of another Syrian site, al-Safir, depicts what are thought to be the defining characteristics of not only chemical weapons manufacturing, but also of heavy construction activity near a missile base.

Iranian officials, for their part, were thought to be on hand when North Korea tested a nuclear device in May and a long-range missile in April, reports South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

The congressional report goes on to say Iran has "several" submarines with sonar-evading technology that were "possibly" connected to North Korea.

Iran this year unveiled several new lines of military
technology, including three stealth submarines and a rapid-fire 40mm anti-Cruise missile canon, dubbed Fath.
23603  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO offers millions in Muslim technology subsidies on: October 24, 2009, 07:44:58 AM
Wasn't quite sure where to put this:

Obama offers millions in Muslim technology fund


The White House Friday highlighted a new multi-million-dollar technology fund for Muslim nations, following a pledge made by President Barack Obama in his landmark speech to the Islamic world.

The White House said the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) had issued a call for proposals for the fund, which will provide financing of between 25 and 150 million dollars for selected projects and funds.

The Global Technology and Innovation Fund will "catalyze and facilitate private sector investments" throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the White House said in a statement.

Eligible projects would advance economic opportunity and create jobs in areas like technology, education, telecoms, media, business services and clean technology, the White House said.

OPIC said sample projects could help foster the development of new computer technology or telecommunications businesses, or widen access to broadband Internet services.

Proposals must be submitted by the end of November, and managers of funds that make a final short list will make presentations in Washington in January.

Final selections will be announced next June.

In his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last June, Obama argued that "education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century" and that under-investment was rife in many Muslim nations.

As well as the fund, Obama also said he will host a summit on entrepreneurship this year to deepen ties between business leaders in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

In his speech on June 4, Obama vowed to forge a "new beginning" for Islam and America, promising to purge years of "suspicion and discord."

In what may be one of the defining moments of his presidency, Obama laid out a new blueprint for US Middle East policy, pledged to end mistrust, forge a state for Palestinians and defuse a nuclear showdown with Iran.
23604  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 10/30 at Congresswoman Harman's office on: October 24, 2009, 07:25:36 AM
This is my Congresswoman.

CAN YOU HEAR US YET? – Pink Slips are coming November 2010
Stop Socialized Government Healthcare.  There is still time to stop this criminal expansion of government.  We want less Government not more.  Cap and Trade is still not passed let's keep it that way.
Education in California is Worst we want First. 
We want California to stop chasing businesses out of the state.
Join us for the one year countdown to firing Congress, and replacing California’s legislature.

Date: Friday, October 30, 2009
Time: 4:30 – 5:30 PM
Location: In front of Jane Harman’s office.
2321 E. Rosecrans Avenue, El Segundo, CA 90245

23605  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 24, 2009, 06:40:28 AM
I love it when questions are presented of/by archetypes.
23606  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: October 24, 2009, 06:33:38 AM
One sign that an adversary isn't serious about negotiating is when it rejects even your concessions. That seemed to be the case yesterday when Iran gave signs it may turn down an offer from Russia, Europe and the U.S. to let Tehran enrich its uranium under foreign supervision outside the country. The mullahs so far won't take yes for an answer.

Tehran had previously looked set to accept the deal, which is hardly an obstacle to its nuclear program. A Democratic foreign policy shop called the National Security Network heralded the expected pact in a blast email this week as "Engagement Paying Dividends on Iran." But now Tehran may be holding out for even more concessions, as Iranian news reports suggest Iran wants to be able to buy more enriched uranium from a third country to use in a research reactor for medical use—as opposed to shipping its uranium to Russia for a roundtrip.

This may merely be the equivalent of last-minute haggling over the price of a Persian carpet, because the West's enrichment offer is already a good one for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran would give up one bomb's worth—about 2,600 pounds—of uranium enriched at its facility in Natanz to the low level of 3.5%. Russia would then enrich the uranium further to 19.75% and someone, most likely France, would put the uranium into fuel rods for transfer back to Iran for ostensible use in a civilian nuclear reactor. Western officials say this would delay Iran's efforts to get a bomb.

.There are a couple problems with this theory. With the exception of the regime, no one knows for sure how much uranium Iran possesses. Given Iran's long history of lying to the world and the discovery of covert enrichment facilities (most recently in Qom) that need uranium from somewhere, a fair guess would be that Iran has more than the 3,500 pounds it has declared to U.N. inspectors.

Meanwhile, Iran insists it won't stop enriching uranium on its own, in violation of Security Council resolutions. Aside from rewarding Iran for past misbehavior by letting it use illegally enriched uranium, this deal fails to solve the problem it is intended to solve. That's because as long as the Natanz facility continues to enrich uranium at its current rate of about 132 pounds a month, Iran will produce enough low-enriched uranium within the year for a bomb. Make Natanz more efficient and the time could be cut in half.

Claims by Western officials that Iran can't convert the uranium enriched abroad for military use are less than reassuring. Though encased in a fuel rod in France, the more highly-enriched uranium returned to Iran would be simple to extract, using something as basic as a tin snipper to force open the fuel cladding, and enrich further.

"With 19.75 enriched feed"—as opposed to the 3.5% that Iran now manages—"the level of effort or time Iran would need to make weapons grade uranium would drop very significantly," from roughly five months today "down to something slightly less than four weeks," says Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.

Iran may also welcome the Russian-enriched uranium because its own technology is less advanced. The October 8 edition of the trade journal Nucleonics Week reports that Iran's low-enriched uranium appears to have "impurities" that "could cause centrifuges to fail" if Iran itself tried to enrich uranium to weapons-grade—which would mean above 20% and ideally up to 90%. In this scenario, the West would be decontaminating the uranium for Iran. Along the way, Iranian scientists may also pick up clues on how to do better themselves.

The mullahs know that President Obama is eager to show diplomatic gains from his engagement strategy, and they are going to exploit that eagerness to get every possible concession. The one thing Iran has shown no desire to bargain over is its intention to become a nuclear power.
23607  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Forfeiture on: October 24, 2009, 06:29:20 AM
With states and cities struggling with deficits, one fertile source of revenue has been money or property seized by police in possible connection with crimes. Not to be left behind, Illinois has pursued this tactic aggressively, using a law which encourages both police departments and prosecutors to take property for forfeiture, long before the accused ever get their day in court.

This practice was challenged at the Supreme Court recently in Alvarez v. Smith, where six people allege that police use of the Illinois Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act violated their right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Though forfeiture laws are designed to strip criminals of ill-gotten gains, three of the six were never charged with a crime. All six had their property or money taken without a warrant and had to wait for months or years without a hearing on the legitimacy of the forfeiture.

By now, the individual cases in Illinois have been resolved with either a forfeiture or a return of the property, leading the Justices to question during oral argument whether the case should be dismissed as moot. Whether the court considers the details in Alvarez, the court will soon need to resolve when detention of property violates due process.

Under Illinois law, the state has 187 days after property is seized to file forfeiture proceedings. Meanwhile, of forfeited funds seized, 25% lands in the lap of the prosecutor's office. Another 65% goes to the department that seized the property, giving police added incentive to take the property to pad their budgets. Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted this police incentive with concern.

The numbers can be hefty. In 2008, the Chicago Police Department bragged it took in some $13.5 million in asset forfeitures, nearly double what it had seized the previous year. Golly. Inquiring minds will wonder if there were actually double the situations that called for asset forfeiture last year, or if the Chicago PD is simply more assertive about detaining property when the city is short of money.

The case comes from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which vindicated the citizens when it ruled that the time between forfeiture and judicial hearing presented an unconstitutional delay. The court required the state to provide property owners with an informal hearing to establish whether there is probable cause to continue to keep the property in custody.

The question for the Supreme Court is whether to uphold what's known as the "Mathews standard," a well-worn method by which courts determine how individuals may challenge government "takings." The standard requires courts to take into account the individual harm caused by a property seizure as well as the risk of mistakes and the cost of additional hearings or other procedures. Illinois prefers a looser standard, allowing the state to continue to delay due process.

The Illinois law compares awkwardly with the federal Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000. As the Cato Institute details in an amicus brief, while the two laws may establish comparable time frames, federal civil forfeiture actions can often run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, a level of cost and complexity well beyond the property at issue under the Illinois drug law. The better match-up is with other state forfeiture laws, and here Illinois performs miserably, taking many times as long to provide a hearing as the likes of Florida, Iowa, Arizona, Missouri and Texas.

We're all for relieving criminals of illegal profits, but civil forfeiture laws must be used with caution and oversight lest they infringe on fundamental rights. Alvarez v. Smith provides an opportunity to restore the balance of justice to citizens.
23608  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Brain damage/concussion in boxing, kickboxing, football, etc: on: October 24, 2009, 06:21:57 AM
Published: October 23, 2009
When a survey commissioned by the National Football League recently indicated that dementia or similar memory-related diseases had been diagnosed in its retired players vastly more often than in the national population, the league claimed the study was unreliable.

But confidential data from the N.F.L.’s dementia assistance plan strongly corroborates claims of a link between football and later-life cognitive impairment. Records indicate that pro football’s retirees are experiencing moderate to advanced early-onset dementia at rates several times higher than the general population, the most glaring evidence to date of the dangers of professional football in past eras.
As the House Judiciary Committee prepares to hold a hearing on Wednesday on the issue of brain injuries in football, this latest data further underscores the possible safety risks of the modern game at all levels, from the N.F.L. to youth leagues.

The new information was collected by a lawyer for the 88 Plan, which the league and its players union began in 2007 to reimburse medical expenses of retirees being treated for dementia, and was presented to the union in a memorandum, which was obtained by The New York Times. The lawyer, Douglas W. Ell of the Groom Law Group, compared the age distribution of 88 Plan members with several published studies regarding dementia rates around the world, and wrote that “the numbers seem to refute any claim that playing N.F.L. football substantially increases” later risk for dementia.

But the outside data on which he primarily based this conclusion was not only mishandled — the wrong numbers were taken from one published study, grossly overstating worldwide dementia rates — but the analysis also included several faulty assumptions, experts said in later interviews. Correcting for these errors indicated rates of dementia among N.F.L. retirees about four to five times the expected rate.

“This was a preliminary effort at the request of the union to understand the facts,” said Ell, adding that he was acting as a lawyer for the union. “I understand now that it was flawed. I believe the union wants the true facts to come out and welcomes inquiries into this area.”

Joe Browne, an N.F.L. spokesman, said in an e-mail message that because no one at the league office had yet seen Ell’s analysis, it was phantom.

“I say phantom because we have not seen this analysis in our office and, if it was done, it obviously was written for the N.F.L. player union’s own self-promotional and lobbying purposes in anticipation of next week’s Congressional hearing,” Browne wrote.

“The executive director has made it clear that player safety is too important to be about business as usual, the N.F.L.’s special interests or our special interests,” George Atallah, a union spokesman, said, referring to the new union chief, DeMaurice Smith. “This issue is and will always be only about the players, and we have to obtain the right information to get the right answers. The executive director has directed that all information on player health and safety be exchanged with the N.F.L., with the hope that they will do the same.”

As brain injuries in football have come under scrutiny in recent years, and as several independent academic studies have found high rates of cognitive decline among N.F.L. retirees, the league and its committee on concussions have consistently denied the existence of credible evidence supporting any link. When a telephone survey conducted by the University of Michigan on behalf of the N.F.L. recently reported that its retirees aged 50 and above reported diagnoses of cognitive disease at five times the rate of the national population, the league said such surveys were unreliable.

Members of the 88 Plan, however, are dementia cases that the league itself has confirmed as diagnosed by a physician and incurring expenses worthy of reimbursement. As such they represent a minimum of existing cases — even Commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged that there are more candidates either unreachable or unwilling to apply — as well as a severity of disease that is undoubtedly higher than cases in common literature, experts said.

“You know N.F.L. players,” Goodell said when asked about the 88 Plan at his annual news conference before last season’s Super Bowl. “They’ve got a lot of pride. When they have a lot of pride, they don’t always want to become public with their needs.”

According to Ell’s memorandum, 68 men ages 60 to 89 were receiving plan aid as of Oct. 1. (About 35 others had been admitted and died.) Ell then assessed how many plan members would be expected if N.F.L. retirees in various age groups experienced dementia at rates published in six academic studies. The analysis from there was faulty, however.

Only four of the six studies included any data on men in their 60s, whose dementia would be defined as early-onset. One yielded an expectation of 58 dementia cases among the N.F.L. population, another about 40. One included crude estimates from Scotland, which, after Ell further applied them improperly to the N.F.L. population — he didn’t stratify them by age — yielded an estimate of over 200. The fourth included two obvious errors: the wrong column of published data was used, and those numbers were not rates per 100 but rates per 1,000. Ell’s resulting estimate, 135, which he interpreted along with the Scotland figure as balancing the lower figures, should have been 73.


(Page 2 of 2)

The 88 Plan’s living membership (68) looks similar to the three expectations of 58, 40 and 73. But experts in dementia epidemiology and health policy said in interviews that the 68 was far more alarming than at first glance.

"These are apples and oranges,” said Amy Borenstein, professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida, who specializes in dementia research. “You can’t directly compare that plan’s numbers to any population-based study.”
First, as Goodell asserted, the program cannot include veterans who are unreachable or unwilling to apply. One unwilling player appears to be Rayfield Wright, 64, a Hall of Fame tackle for the Cowboys from 1967 to 1979 who lives in the Dallas area.

His friend and caregiver, Jeannette DeVader, said that Wright had all the signs of early-onset dementia — including short-term memory loss and frequently getting lost — but that he would not see a neurologist, let alone apply to the 88 Plan. Wright confirmed that he did not want what he called the stigma: “Players don’t want to look at themselves that way. The truth is, you really don’t want to know.”

The wife of one player experiencing early-onset dementia, who asked not to be identified, said she would not apply for the 88 Plan while her husband was coherent enough to understand it.

“He would be devastated,” she said. “They were so proud as players. They’re not going to admit any weakness now, and I’m not going to break his heart by doing it for him.”

Borenstein said that it was reasonable to conclude that if 68 men ages 60 to 89 are receiving aid from the 88 Plan, at least 40 or 50 more cases of similar severity are unaware of the program, unwilling to apply or do not need financial aid. This estimate was echoed by other experts in dementia and epidemiology, including Dr. Daniel P. Perl of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Dr. Robert C. Cantu, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University.

In addition, according to those doctors and published studies, about half of people with dementia are considered mild cases, many of whom were unaware they had the condition before and after a study was performed. “It’s hard to believe that more than a few 88 Plan members are in what we call the mild category,” Perl said, given the anecdotal evidence and financial data the N.F.L. released this month.

The league said $6 million has been distributed to 106 members in the two-plus years the 88 Plan has been in place; given that they have received aid for various periods, that leads to more than half of members receiving $40,000 to $88,000 maximum per year in aid — suggesting full-time at-home or institutional care, Borenstein and Perl said.

And some of the cases receiving low levels of aid are advanced: Sharon Hawkins will place her 71-year-old husband, the former Oakland Raiders lineman Wayne Hawkins, in a full-time facility next week after receiving less than $10,000 per year from the 88 Plan since 2007.

“He gets lost walking the dog,” Sharon Hawkins said. “Thank God the dog has known the way home.”

Borenstein, Perl and Cantu said that if academic studies predicted about 60 N.F.L. veterans to have dementia across the full severity spectrum, which is the case here, only about 20 to 30 would be experiencing the severity that appears in the 88 Plan.

Combining the two major differences between the N.F.L. data and estimates for the general population — only about 25 men should have dementia to that degree, the researchers reasoned, and there are probably about 110 who do — leaves former N.F.L. players experiencing dementia at rates four to five times more often than normal.

“We’re talking about a four-, four-and-a-half-fold increase — that’s substantial,” Perl said. “Playing football for as long as these men have, there’s no other environmental risk factor of that magnitude. There are some assumptions here, yes. The comparability of general population rates are not exact. But those assumptions are reasonable. Maybe it’s three times. Maybe it’s five. But these data suggest that something very serious is going on here.”

In his e-mail message, Browne of the N.F.L. wrote: “According to the literature, dementia has many different causes, e.g., a stroke, as the result of substance abuse or family history. It also can be caused by a series of blows to the head or a severe head trauma years after a player has ended his career.”

Browne’s list notably did not include N.F.L. play. His skepticism was shared earlier this year by Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I believe that our statistics are very similar to what they are in the general population,” Rooney said after Goodell’s news conference. “I don’t think that it’s something that pro football players, every one of them has this. Surely there’s something about getting hit. But they don’t get hit as much as maybe some people are trying to say.”
23609  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hefner: The Loin in Winter on: October 24, 2009, 06:12:56 AM
The Loin in Winter: Hefner Reflects, and Grins
Published: October 23, 2009
LOS ANGELES — Hugh Hefner leaned back on a red loveseat, the saggy one in the study of his infamous mansion here, and interlocked his fingers behind his head. A visitor had asked — more like shouted, since he has trouble hearing — a question about mortality.

Despite Playboy Enterprises' struggles, a reflective Hugh Hefner says life at 83 is “even better, richer than people know.”

Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends, from left, Kristina and Karissa Shannon, and Crystal Harris. He says that “pop culture is a thinner soup today,” adding, “It used to be a thick porridge.”
At 83, does he think about it?

In a word, no. Mr. Hefner, the legendarily libidinous founder of Playboy, the prophet of hedonism, does not believe that his denouement is at hand.

He doesn’t act like it, either. He still works full days on his magazine, flies to Europe and Las Vegas, pops Viagra, visits nightclubs with his three live-in girlfriends — each young enough to be his great-granddaughter — and is working with the producer Brian Grazer on a film.

“This is one of the very best times of my life,” he said, grinning, dressed in pajamas and slippers. “It’s even better, richer than people know.”

You want to believe him, but it is hard to ignore the realities of his business. Playboy Enterprises, hobbled by a shifting media landscape, is in need of heart paddles. On Tuesday, the magazine said it would cut the circulation numbers it guarantees to advertisers to 1.5 million, from 2.6 million. The company has lost money for seven quarters in a row.

And perhaps most shockingly, the company said earlier this year that it would consider acquisition offers, something that was believed to be unthinkable while Mr. Hefner was still alive.

Mr. Hefner knows every good party must end, having long ago bought a crypt next to Marilyn Monroe at a Los Angeles cemetery. In interviews over the years, he has talked about how life wouldn’t be worth living without Playboy. “If I sold it, my life would be over,” he has said. But he may be coming around: “I’m taking more seriously the fact that I’m not 30 years old anymore. I need to think about the continuity of the magazine.”

Love him or loathe him, no one doubts Mr. Hefner’s influence in American cultural history. As a magazine publisher, he essentially did for sex what Ray Kroc did for roadside food: clean it up for a rising middle class.

As a cultural force, however, Mr. Hefner still divides the country — 56 years after Playboy’s first issue. To his supporters, he is the great sexual liberator who helped free Americans from Puritanism and neurosis. To his detractors, including many feminists and social conservatives, he helped set in motion a revolution in sexual attitudes that have objectified and victimized countless women and promoted an immoral, whatever-feels-good approach to life.

Mr. Hefner will concede that there are dark consequences of what he helped set into motion, but said “it’s a small price to pay for personal freedom.”

“People don’t always make good decisions. The real obscenities on this planet have very little to do with sex,” he said, adding that “it’s not as romantic a time.”

Less romantic and — with instantly available pornography online and graphic sex talk, including on Mr. Hefner’s own show, “The Girls Next Door,” on TV — it’s a time that makes Playboy’s ideals seem quaint. Mr. Hefner — who uses the word “cat” to describe himself, as in, “I’m the luckiest cat on the planet” — doesn’t think much of today’s cultural landscape.

“I feel strongly that the pop culture is a thinner soup today,” he said. “It used to be a thick porridge.”

At the same time, he tries to be an active participant. While the magazine is still edited largely in Chicago, Mr. Hefner approves “every Playmate, every cover, the cartoons and the letters.” Working from a home office or his bed, where the 1970s-era Tasmanian opossum fur bedspread has been traded for a silk and velvet one, Mr. Hefner helped drive the recent decision to buy a 5,000-word excerpt of Vladimir Nabokov’s unfinished novella, “The Original of Laura,” for a forthcoming issue.

His girlfriends recently educated him about Twitter. (“I’ll be playing gin rummy tonight” was a recent tweet.) He’s hooked on the HBO drama “True Blood.” He recently filmed a Guitar Hero commercial, holding the pipe he gave up after a suffering a small stroke in 1985. He has also suffered personal humiliations. Former live-in girlfriends, including those who have appeared on “The Girls Next Door,” have portrayed him in interviews and a book as a control freak who enforces a curfew of 9 p.m. The mansion itself has seen better days. During a July visit, the game house (the one with a room that has a mattress as flooring) smelled musty, while the bird aviary needed scrubbing. That famous grotto, with its Jacuzzis of varied depth, seemed more like a fetid zoo exhibit than a pleasure palace (although nearby shelves were stocked with enormous bottles of Johnson’s Baby Oil).

In March, with the housing market in a nosedive, he put his wife’s home, located next door to the Playboy Mansion, up for sale for $28 million. It sold in August for $18 million. Mr. Hefner, who separated from Kimberly Conrad Hefner in 1998, filed for divorce in early September; she is suing him, claiming he owes her $4 million under a prenuptial agreement and proceeds from the home’s sale.


Mr. Hefner’s retinue insists that money is not tight, but a series of actions has made it look that way. The Los Angeles Business Journal reported last year that the mansion’s staff had been cut. People can now buy tickets (up to $10,000 each) to what were once invitation-only parties, which remain a vital part of stoking the Playboy brand.

“It’s not always as exciting as people think,” said Holly Madison in an interview last summer. Ms. Madison lived with Mr. Hefner for seven years as his “No. 1 girlfriend” until she broke up with him last fall.

Richard Rosenzweig, who has worked at Playboy since 1958 and holds multiple titles, begged to differ. “This is a very aspirational place,” he said in an interview in Mr. Hefner’s dining room. “Everybody wants to come here.”

When Mr. Hefner’s relationship with Ms. Madison ended, he said he got letters from women around the world begging to move in. “They were climbing over the gates,” he said, beaming. Mr. Hefner chose three new live-in girlfriends, 23-year-old Crystal Harris and twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon, 20.

Despite his chipper attitude, Mr. Hefner clearly has legacy on his mind. Lately, he has been poring over his scrapbooks, which he has been keeping since childhood and now number over 2,000. Never-before-seen material from them — his first library card, self-drawn comic strips and pictures — will form the heart of a 3,506-page, six-volume “illustrated biography” from Taschen. Only 1,500 of the $1,300 behemoths will be sold, starting next month.

For the first time, Mr. Hefner has also given unfettered access to a documentary filmmaker, Brigitte Berman, whose recently completed “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel” made its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

And a major Hollywood biopic is speeding ahead at long last. Mr. Grazer recently met with the screenwriter Diablo Cody about the project, Mr. Hefner said. Brett Ratner (best known for the “Rush Hour” blockbusters) is lined up to direct. Robert Downey Jr. has expressed interest in playing Mr. Hefner.

“He’s an intellect of the highest order who influenced the worldwide zeitgeist in a grand way — and that influence is drastically underrated,” Mr. Grazer said.

Indeed, some of his long-time friends fret that some of the accomplishments they admire — creating a cultural icon (the Playboy Bunny), eroding racial boundaries (through the inclusion of black performers in his clubs), and supporting many feminist causes, including abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment — are getting lost.

Mr. Hefner worries about it, too. “We just literally live in a very different world and I played a part in making it that way,” he said. “Young people have no idea about that.”
23610  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Bristish National Party on: October 24, 2009, 05:58:20 AM
Pravda on the Hudson

LONDON — In a usual week, “Question Time” is a worthy but largely unexciting television production, a late-night panel discussion on the BBC that for 30 years has attracted a modest, pre-bedtime audience.

The police tried to keep back protesters on Thursday outside BBC offices in London before a TV appearance by the leader of the right-wing British National Party.

But on Thursday, it was transformed into the forum for Britain’s most widely anticipated political showdown in decades, drawing 8.2 million viewers, more than three times the program’s usual audience, on a par with the World Cup games played by England’s soccer team and more than the number of viewers for such weekly prime time hit shows as “Strictly Come Dancing.”

The occasion was the appearance on the program, the BBC’s flagship politics show, of Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, whose goal to “take back Britain” includes incentives that encourage the mass repatriation of Britain’s nonwhite immigrants, coupled with a deep hostility to Islam, which Mr. Griffin has described as “a wicked and vicious faith.” He has also spoken of his “repugnance” for lesbians and gay men, and advocated the end of civil contracts for same-sex relationships.

His record includes having denied the Holocaust, suggesting that some of the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau were built after World War II for the purposes of Jewish propaganda, and conceding, under questioning by a biographer, that Hitler, whom Mr. Griffin invoked in the past as a model, may have made mistakes. “Yes,” he said, according to the biographer, Dominic Carman, “Adolf went a bit too far.”

In June, the B.N.P. won two seats — one for Mr. Griffin — in Britain’s 72-seat contingent to the European Parliament, the first time it won election to anything higher than a local council. The party took more than a million votes, 6.2 percent of the total, and gained enough legitimacy, in the view of the BBC’s executives, to have its voice heard alongside the country’s mainstream parties on “Question Time.”

Mr. Griffin, 50, is a pinstripe-suit-and-tie-wearing Cambridge University law graduate whose mission is to put a mainstream gloss on a party that is the ideological descendant of the British Union of Fascists, the pro-Hitler “blackshirts” of the 1930s.

Since seizing the leadership of the British National Party a decade ago, Mr. Griffin, flak jacket concealed beneath his dark suit, has set out from his home in a heavily guarded farmhouse in Wales to change its members’ image, as a profile in Friday’s Daily Telegraph put it, “from skinheads in bomber jackets to ‘politically incorrect rebels.’ ”

For the B.N.P. and other parties, the timing of the TV debate was especially significant. It came barely seven months before the expected date for Britain’s general election in May. Soaring unemployment and immigration levels, as well as the threat of terrorism, are likely to be major issues then, and ones that could offer new openings to fringe parties like the B.N.P.

The BBC’s decision split Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s cabinet, as it did much of Britain. “If they are asked about their racist and bigoted views,” Mr. Brown said, “it will be a good opportunity to expose what they are about.” But his Welsh secretary, Peter Hain, vehemently disagreed. “The BBC should be ashamed of single-handedly doing a racist, fascist party the biggest favor in its grubby history,” he said.

As the TV taping approached on Thursday night, three hours before the debate was broadcast, a thousand protesters gathered outside the BBC’s Television Center in West London, setting off clashes with truncheon-wielding police officers. At one point, 30 protesters broke into the BBC’s lobby, before being pushed back. A handful of policemen and protesters were injured, and there were six arrests.

To reach the BBC studio, Mr. Griffin was ushered by a phalanx of bodyguards through a rear door of the TV center. For a while, it had looked as if the burly politician, once a boxer for the Cambridge team, might duck the occasion, citing the threat from the protesters — an outcome that would have fitted well with Mr. Griffin’s assertions that Britain’s “political class” will do everything it can to prevent the party’s message from gaining traction.

On Friday, Britain’s airwaves resonated with debate about who had won, and lost, in the 60-minute debate. The program’s format consists of five panelists taking questions from a studio audience of about 100 people and from the program’s presenter, David Dimbleby, a 71-year-old veteran of royal weddings and other state occasions who has achieved the status of a British Walter Cronkite with his middle-of-the-road manner and his custom on “Question Time” of ensuring that all points of view get a fair hearing.

The early reading by many of Britain’s major newspapers was that Mr. Griffin lost heavily on points. While he gained a mass audience for the first time, for a party that usually meets in cramped backstreet halls, he appeared shocked by the pounding he took from other panelists, by repeated booing in the studio and by infuriated interruptions from Mr. Dimbleby.

On Friday, Mr. Griffin said he would make a formal complaint to the BBC about “the venom” and “sheer unfairness” of the discussion. “That was a lynch mob,” he said.


Mr. Dimbleby led the charge. Quoting liberally from Mr. Griffin’s past remarks about the Holocaust, Islam, lesbians and gay men, as well as about restoring Britain to its “indigenous” white population, he demanded that Mr. Griffin say whether he stood by the remarks. After Mr. Griffin said he was “the most loathed man in Britain in the eyes of Britain’s Nazis,” the presenter interrupted brusquely: “Do you deny the Holocaust?”

The program drew 8.2 million viewers and angry questions in the studio about his party’s stances on race and the Holocaust.

When Mr. Griffin hesitated, he repeated the question. Mr. Griffin said that he had shifted from his earlier position of denial after listening to World War II radio intercepts of German plans for eliminating the Jews, but that he could not elaborate because of European laws that make Holocaust denial a criminal offense.
Jack Straw, Britain’s justice minister and a fellow panelist, called Mr. Griffin “the Dr. Strangelove of British politics,” a “fantasizing conspiracy theorist.” He said, “You don’t need radio intercepts to know that people were gassed at Auschwitz.”

The B.N.P. leader also sought to mollify anger in the studio audience — many of whose members were Asian or black — at the party’s stance on saving Britain for whites, saying it was not a matter of color but of preserving the rights of Britain’s “indigenous peoples,” who he said could trace their origins back 17,000 years. “We are the aborigines here,” he said.

That brought one man in the audience to his feet. “Where do you want me to go?” asked Khush Klare, whose parents immigrated from India in the 1960s. “I love this country, I’m part of this country.”

The B.N.P. leader also said that to earn the right to remain in Britain, Muslims should “acknowledge that Britain always has been and must remain fundamentally a British and Christian country.” On lesbians and gay men, he said that “a lot of people in this country find the sight of two grown men kissing in public really creepy.” That brought to her feet a woman in the audience who said she was a lesbian. “I have to say the feeling of revulsion is mutual,” she said.
23611  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Biden on: October 24, 2009, 05:50:57 AM

Pravda on the Hudson

Biden Dismisses Cheney’s Criticisms Over Afghanistan Sign in to Recommend
Published: October 23, 2009
PRAGUE — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had a blunt response on Friday to the latest broadsides from former Vice President Dick Cheney: “Who cares?”

In the latest exchange between old and new administrations, Mr. Biden rebuffed his predecessor’s criticism about President Obama’s handling of Afghanistan as “absolutely wrong.” And Mr. Biden rejected the last review of the war conducted by the White House under former President George W. Bush and Mr. Cheney as “irrelevant.”

The dismissive reply, which came at the end of Mr. Biden’s three-day swing through Eastern Europe during an interview with reporters traveling with him, underscored the weariness in the current White House with Mr. Cheney’s periodic assaults. At the same time, advisers to Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden consider the former vice president a useful public foil and have not shied away from escalating the debate by taking him on directly.

At the heart of the dispute is a fundamental disagreement on national security, from how to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan to how to protect Americans at home from possible terrorist attacks. In a speech in Washington this week, Mr. Cheney complained that Mr. Obama was “dithering” in deciding whether to send more troops to Afghanistan and had committed a “strategic blunder” in scrapping the last administration’s missile defense plan in Eastern Europe.

Mr. Biden spent much of this week in Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic assuring leaders in the region that the cancellation of Mr. Bush’s antimissile shield in favor of a more mobile replacement was not a concession to Russia, as Mr. Cheney and others contended. Mr. Biden secured an agreement with the Czech Republic on Friday to participate in the new missile defense system, as he earlier did with Poland.

Asked about Mr. Cheney’s criticism during a half-hour interview at the American ambassador’s residence here, Mr. Biden responded indirectly at first, saying leaders in the region now agree that the Obama plan will be more effective. “They believe that the new architecture is better,” the vice president said.

But as he warmed to the discussion, he became sharper in his rebuttals of Mr. Cheney. “I think that is absolutely wrong,” he said of the “dithering” charge. “I think what the administration is doing is exactly what we said it would do. And what I think it warrants doing. And that is making an informed judgment based upon circumstances that have changed.”

Mr. Biden shrugged off Mr. Cheney’s point that the old administration had left behind a review of Afghanistan.

“Who cares what — ” he said, and then stopped himself to find another way to put it. (“I can see the headline now,” said the famously free-wheeling vice president. “I’m getting better, guys.”)

But he went on to dismiss the Bush-Cheney review as inadequate. “That’s why the president asked me to get in the plane in January and go to Afghanistan,” Mr. Biden said. “I came back with a different review.”

Moreover, he said, the Bush-Cheney review is now dated. “A whole lot has changed in the last year,” Mr. Biden said. “Let’s assume they left us a review that was absolutely correct. Is that review relevant and totally applicable to today in light of the changes that have taken place in the region, in Afghanistan itself? So I think that is sort of irrelevant. Not sort of — I think it’s irrelevant.”

The interview was the first time Mr. Biden had publicly talked about Afghanistan in the weeks since the president began intensively rethinking his strategy and considering Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s request for about 40,000 more troops. Mr. Biden has been a forceful skeptic of General McChrystal’s request and an advocate for keeping troop levels roughly the same while focusing attention on hunting down Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

Mr. Biden said that Mr. Obama had lived up to a pre-election pledge to take his vice president’s views seriously and added that he would not be upset if the president rejected them at the end of the Afghanistan policy review. “He has sought my opinion not generically but in detail,” Mr. Biden said. “And if he reaches a different conclusion than I do, that’s O.K. He’s the president.”

The vice president acknowledged that at every stop on his trip through Eastern Europe he ran into uncertainty from allies about whether America was going to stay the course in Afghanistan. “What they wanted to know was, ‘Are you leaving?’ ” he said, adding that they were satisfied with his reassurances that America was not withdrawing.

Mr. Biden wrapped up his trip on Friday with meetings with Czech leaders. Jan Fischer, the prime minister, said his country would participate in the new antimissile shield. “I used the opportunity to express our readiness as a NATO member to participate because the new architecture is going to be NATO based and the Czech Republic is ready to participate,” Mr. Fischer said.

Mr. Biden said a high-level defense team would visit Prague next month to discuss how to structure that participation. While Poland agreed to host SM-3 interceptors, the Czech Republic might help with research and development or by hosting a command and control center. Yet the Czech commitment remains uncertain since Mr. Fischer is a caretaker prime minister until elections next spring.

Still, securing Polish and Czech involvement in the new system may go a long way toward reassuring the region of America’s commitment to its security. Both Poland and the Czech Republic were supposed to host parts of the Bush system and the Obama administration did not inform them of his decision until just before the announcement. As news of his decision was leaking last month, Mr. Obama scrambled to reach Mr. Fischer by telephone after midnight to tell him first.

Mr. Biden acknowledged that the announcement was not handled well. “Could it have been done better?” he asked. “Yeah. Obviously it could have been done better.” He added, “That’s the reason for the trip.”

He said Eastern European leaders were reassured. “There is an understandable reason for the anxiety here. You’ve got a new administration.” But he added, “Missile architecture was more sort of a metaphor for ‘Are we committed?’ ”
23612  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NATO pressures President Hamlet on: October 24, 2009, 05:45:51 AM

Pravda on the Hudson

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Defense ministers from NATO on Friday endorsed the ambitious counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan proposed by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, giving new impetus to his recommendation to pour more troops into the eight-year-old war.

Notes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other areas of conflict in the post-9/11 era. Go to the Blog »
General McChrystal, the senior American and allied commander in Afghanistan, made an unannounced appearance here on Friday to brief the defense ministers on his strategic review of a war in which the American-led campaign has lost momentum to a tenacious Taliban insurgency.

“What we did today was to discuss General McChrystal’s overall assessment, his overall approach, and I have noted a broad support from all ministers of this overall counterinsurgency approach,” said NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The acceptance by NATO defense ministers of General McChrystal’s approach did not include a decision on new troops, and it was not clear that their judgment would translate into increased willingness by their governments, many of which have been seeking to reduce their military presence in Afghanistan, to contribute further forces to the war.

But it was another in a series of judgments that success there could not be achieved by a narrower effort that did not increase troop levels in Afghanistan substantially and focused more on capturing and killing terrorists linked to Al Qaeda — a counterterrorism strategy identified with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The NATO briefing, though held privately, thrusts General McChrystal back into the debate over what President Obama should do about Afghanistan — a role that has raised tensions between the general and the White House in the past, and even drawn a rebuke from his boss, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

NATO’s support got no official reaction from the White House. But an administration official noted that an endorsement by defense ministers was not the same as an endorsement by the alliance’s political leadership. Other officials were emphatic that Mr. Obama would not be stampeded in his deliberations and suggested that the NATO statement should not be taken as evidence that the White House had made a decision about how to proceed.

“In no way, shape or form are the president’s options constrained,” said Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, speaking to reporters at the State Department.

General McChrystal’s review calls for adopting a full-scale counterinsurgency strategy that would protect population centers and accelerate training of Afghan Army and police units — both of which would require significant numbers of fresh troops. NATO diplomats noted that it was difficult to see how an acceptance of this broad strategy could be viewed as anything but an endorsement of the need to increase both military and civilian contributions.

Mr. Gates, who has kept his views about additional troops close to his vest and has discouraged his commanders from lobbying too publicly for their positions, declined to be drawn out on this assessment.

“For this meeting, I am here mainly in listening mode,” Mr. Gates said in Bratislava after the NATO briefing, although he noted that “many allies spoke positively about General McChrystal’s assessment.”

Mr. Gates said the administration’s decision on Afghanistan was still two or three weeks away, and he cautioned that it was “vastly premature” to draw conclusions now about whether the president would deploy more troops. He said that allied defense ministers had not voiced concerns about the administration’s decision-making process.

Although NATO will not meet until next month to decide whether to commit more resources to Afghanistan, Mr. Gates did reveal that he had received indications that some allies were prepared to increase their contributions of civilian experts or troops, or both.

Britain and other NATO members have had their own fractious political debates over troop levels. A retired top general in Britain recently said that the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown had rebuffed his requests for more troops, a charge Mr. Brown denied.

Separate from his strategic review, General McChrystal has submitted a request for forces, which is now working its way through both the American and NATO chains of command.

The options submitted by General McChrystal range to a maximum of 85,000 more troops, although his leading option calls for increasing forces by about 40,000, according to officials familiar with the proposal.

The pressure for more troops was a theme throughout the day at the NATO meeting, as other senior international representatives told defense ministers of the need to increase their commitments in order to succeed in Afghanistan.

The United Nations special representative for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, who also flew to the Slovakian capital to meet the ministers, stressed that “additional international troops are required.” He also told the allies, “This cannot be a U.S.-only enterprise.”

Mr. Eide acknowledged that it might be difficult to rally public support for force contributions while allegations of election fraud continued to taint the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Senior American military officers have already endorsed General McChrystal’s overall strategy, including Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in the Middle East.

Senior NATO officials made clear that additional commitments should go beyond combat forces to include trainers for the Afghan Army and police force, as well as civilians to help rebuild the economy and restore confidence in the government.

“What we need is a much broader strategy, which stabilizes the whole of Afghan society, and this is the essence in the recommendations presented by General McChrystal,” said Mr. Rasmussen, the NATO secretary general. “This won’t happen just because of a good plan. It will also need resources — people and money.”

General McChrystal was not scheduled to make any public comments here. The general’s reticence was not unexpected, as some administration officials have criticized his recent statements as an attempt to press the White House to act.

The general and his aides have denied they were playing politics. General McChrystal said in a recent interview that success required a unified, government-wide strategy.

NATO officials assessing the potential for allied troop contributions said that delicate negotiations were under way, and that NATO capitals were watching the Obama administration for signals even while they sent signals of their own.

Thom Shanker reported from Bratislava, and Mark Landler from Washington.
23613  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Biden in Central Europe on: October 24, 2009, 05:41:52 AM
Yes I know Biden is a buffoon, but still this is interesting.  Stratfor has often spoken of how geopolitical interests constrain leaders far more than we realized.  Given how the Russians have been fcuking with us on Iran, what this piece describes makes sense.

Biden Rallies Central Europe
U.S. VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN was in Bucharest on Thursday to meet with Romanian government officials, during his whirlwind three-country tour of Central Europe. Biden's trip thus far has been mostly about "reassuring" countries in Central Europe that Washington would not abandon the region to Russia’s influence.

However, during his address at the Bucharest University Central Library, Biden significantly upped the rhetorical ante from merely being reassuring about continued U.S. commitments. He encouraged Central European states to actively subvert Russia's influence in states on its periphery.

Related Link
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on America, Central Europe, and Partnership in 21st Century
(STRATFOR is not responsible for content from other Web sites.)
After a cursory introduction – during which he discussed plans for the new ballistic missile defense system to be based in Poland -- Biden launched into the meat of his message. "The United States stands against the 19th-century notion of 'spheres of influence.' We will not tolerate it, nor will we be co-opted by it," he said. The point was simple and direct: The United States does not accept Russia's demand that it be given free rein in its periphery. Biden has said this before -- at the Munich Security Conference in February and many other times since -- but what followed on Thursday was an elaboration of a strategy for how Washington intends to pressure Russia and the rest of Central Europe.

"Biden not only encouraged Central European countries to seek political change in their eastern neighbors; he essentially offered them U.S. support in their efforts."
"We know from history that destroying old oppressive regimes is a great deal easier than building new flourishing democracies," Biden said. "But you've delivered on the promise of your revolution. You are now in the position to help others do the same."

And then:

"You can help guide Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine along the path of lasting stability and prosperity. It's your time to lead. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus can benefit from your personal experiences. … And we will partner with you in working to fulfill the promise of 1989. But your leadership needs to be bold and your voices loud."

With this address, Biden not only encouraged Central European countries to actively seek political change in their eastern neighbors; he essentially offered them U.S. support in their efforts. As he concluded in the speech, "We no longer think in terms of what we can do for Central Europe, but rather in terms of what we can do with Central Europe." This is an important detail. Biden was not idly telling the Central Europeans to start fires in neighborhoods to their east. It apparently was a promise from the U.S. vice president that Washington would supply the matches and lighter fluid, and even give them a lift to the bonfire.

In effect, the United States has given Moscow notice that it intends to actively push against its entire periphery and to conscript the Central European states of NATO as its foot soldiers.

It is not surprising that Biden used his trip to Romania to lay out this vision. More than most countries in the region, Romania enthusiastically has sought political change in the former Soviet countries along its borders -- specifically in Moldova. The Romanians were very active during the April election protests in Moldova: They supported pro-Western parties during the upheaval and even offered to give Romanian passports to 1 million Moldovans -- one-quarter of the population.

Bucharest does not currently have the capacity to devote to spurring political change along the Russian periphery; it is embroiled in a serious economic and political crisis. The government collapsed last week and has been replaced by a cabinet of technocrats. Meanwhile, massive strikes are taking place and the presidential elections on Nov. 22 are likely to paralyze the country for more than a month.

Nevertheless, the significance of making this kind of an address in Bucharest will not be lost on Russia and the regimes that Biden referred to as needing "an example." There were multiple revolutions in Central Europe in 1989, and Romania's was particularly violent. Its longtime communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown in a revolution that did not resemble the non-violent "color" revolutions that the United States has supported during the past decade. The Romanian revolution was an all out-coup by elements of the army, combined with a mass citizen uprising. It ended with the execution of both Ceausescu and his wife.

Therefore, when Biden states that Central Europeans today should "fulfill the promise of 1989," the countries that Biden claimed need "leadership" will remember the bloody Romanian revolution of 1989. Biden's message to Russia is crystal clear: The Americans are in Eastern Europe, and they’re ready to play hardball.
23614  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: October 24, 2009, 05:32:52 AM
two friends respond:

The program that supports this give away predates Obama by a over a decade.  Take a look at the link.  I just guess it took 15years before the cellphone component could finally be worked out.  Somebody want to see whether Tracfone has investment potential.  If somebody is making hay while the sun shines, it makes sense to jump on and ride the wagon back to the barn.  Couldn't resist the Hayride metaphor with the fall season upon us.

Tracfone is a subsidiary of American Movil  AMX (NYSE) or AMOV (Nasdaq)..
23615  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Is this for real? on: October 24, 2009, 05:28:00 AM
A friend forwarded this to me.  Can anyone verify it?


 I had a former employee call me earlier today inquiring about a job, and at the end of the conversation he gave me his phone number. I asked the former employee if this was a new cell phone number and he told me yes this was his “Obama phone.” I asked him what an “Obama phone” was and he went on to say that welfare recipients are now eligible to receive (1) a FREE new phone and (2) approx 70 minutes of FREE minutes every month. I was a little skeptical so I Googled it and low and behold he was telling the truth. TAX PAYER MONEY IS BEING REDISTRIBUTED TO WELFARE RECIPIENTS FOR FREE CELL PHONES. This program was started earlier this year. Enough is enough, the ship is sinking and it’s sinking fast. The very foundations that this country was built on are being shaken. The age old concepts of God, family, and hard work have flown out the window and are being replaced with “Hope and Change” and “Change we can believe in.” You can click on the link below to read more about the “Obama phone”…
23616  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Environmental issues on: October 23, 2009, 10:07:29 PM
I predict a great future as a pundit  cheesy

Lets take this up to the Fire Hydrant thread.
23617  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty's momentary ruminations on: October 23, 2009, 07:41:11 PM
I started my BJJ life with the Machado Brothers in the summer of 1990, when all 5 of the brothers were under one roof.  Out of that time I developed the greatest of admiration for Jean Jacques Machado for many reasons, but today I will speak only of him as an extraordinary BJJ/submission athlete.

At the time of this story, it was about a year after JJ had won the Abu Dhabi submission tournament (widely held at that time to be THE definitive submission event in the world) by submitting every single one of his opponents AND winning "the most technical fighter in any weight division award".  Now we all know the phenomenal levels of athleticism and fitness of these fighter-competitors and to achieve was in essence was "the best pound-for-pound submission athlete in the world" speaks for itself

It is in this context that one day when I was having some achiness in my lower back that I asked JJ for some suggestions and was intent on hearing what he had to say.  I was expecting them to consist of specific physical things to do and so when he simply asked how I was sleeping I was surprised.  That his answer was outside the expectations of my physically oriented mental box simply made it all the more valuable-- instead of trying physically to impose an answer of the "do this" or the "do that" sort, his answer was to give himself permission to chill and recharge.  

Upon reflection this made more and more sense.  When we are tired, what energetic system of the body is overworked?  The adrenal comlex (adrenal glands, kidneys) which are found , , , in the lower back.  So maybe the pain in my lower back was not muscular, but energetic?

In the past few days, I have had benefit of this wisdom and wanted to sally forth with a howl of thanks to Jean Jacques for the benefit today of this lesson of so many days ago.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
23618  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Bloom on: October 23, 2009, 06:47:52 PM
"We get the joke. We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system, to beat the market or at least find someone who will pay you a lot of money because they're convinced that there is a free lunch. We know this is largely about power, that it's an adults-only, no-limit game. We kind of agree with Mao [Tse-tung] that political 'power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.'" --Comrade Ron Bloom, the White House manufacturing czar, in February 2008 when he was president of the United Steelworkers Union
23619  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Rifqa case on: October 23, 2009, 11:43:59 AM
Sent to me by a friend:
The office of the Governor in FL : 850-488-4441  Please call and tell them you're asking the Governor to stop Rifqa from being taken out of the state.

Here is latest on the story from Pamela Geller - it is sickening:
23620  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: October 23, 2009, 11:14:53 AM
From the Left: ACORN Lies Exposed Again

Just when you thought it was safe to visit an ACORN office again, yet another video was released this week at James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, the young conservative activists who posed as a pimp and prostitute in order to get ACORN's advice on tax evasion and other illegal activities, released a sixth video putting the lie to the organization's claim to have "thrown out" the pair from its Philadelphia office. The same employee who claimed she showed them the door is on camera in the newest video giving them the same advice on illegal activities that they received at five other ACORN offices -- and the conversation lasted for 32 minutes.

The audio is frequently muted because of ACORN's legal action against O'Keefe and Giles, but Andrew Breitbart, whose Web site first aired the videos, has challenged ACORN to allow him to play the full audio. O'Keefe said, "We call upon ACORN to state publicly now that it has no objection to the public release of any of its employees' oral statements to us. If they are interested in the truth, why wouldn't they do so?" Furthermore, O'Keefe asks, "Why did the Philadelphia press report that we were kicked out? Will those reporters now print corrections? [Will the] Washington Post print a second correction?" Don't hold your breath.
23621  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Where in the C. is the power to , , ,? on: October 23, 2009, 11:10:12 AM
second post of the AM

Patriot Post
Digest · Friday, October 23, 2009

The Foundation
"[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes -- rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments." --Alexander Hamilton

Pelosi: "Are you serious?"Government & Politics
A Serious Question
We have known for many years that Democrats view the Constitution as an obstacle to their goals, not as something to be revered or upheld -- despite their repeated oaths to do just that. And as Mark Alexander warned last week, our Constitution is on life support.

More evidence of the trauma inflicted by our elected "representatives" surfaced this week when asked the only truly relevant question in the health care debate: Where in the Constitution is the authority to mandate that Americans buy health insurance?

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was befuddled and deflected: Where, in your opinion, does the Constitution give specific authority for Congress to give an individual mandate for health insurance?

Leahy: We have plenty of authority. Are you saying there is no authority? I'm asking-

Leahy: Why would you say there is no authority? I mean, there's no question there's authority, nobody questions that.

While Leahy's answer is both defensive and outrageously arrogant, in a sense, he's right: Not enough voters question the constitutional authority for anything Congress does. Even Republicans too often simply declare, "Me too, only a little less," instead of abiding by the Constitution.

The interviewer persisted, however, and again asked the question. Leahy dodged, saying, "Where do we have the authority to set speed limits on an interstate highway? The federal government does that on federal highways." He then walked away.

So to get this straight, Leahy defended Congress' unconstitutional attempt to take over one sixth of the U.S. economy by citing another unconstitutional law that was justly repealed 14 years ago.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) answered the question by saying, "Well, in promoting the general welfare the Constitution obviously gives broad authority to Congress to effect [a mandate that individuals must buy health insurance]. The end that we're trying to effect is to make health care affordable, so I think clearly this is within our constitutional responsibility."

On the contrary, in 1994, the Congressional Budget Office reported that a mandate forcing Americans to buy insurance would be an "unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States."

According to Hoyer and his accomplices, however, the General Welfare Clause in the Constitution empowers Congress not only to "promote the general Welfare," but to provide it, demand it and enforce it.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the worst offender. "Madam Speaker," asked, "where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?" Her brief reply spoke volumes about the Left's contempt for the Constitution and the Rule of Law: "Are you serious? Are you serious?" She then ignored the question and moved on to the next one. Her spokesman later added, "You can put this on the record: That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question."

Even in light of the current recession, we live in a day of unprecedented prosperity and, as a result, we have become complacent. Unfortunately, the likes of Leahy, Hoyer and Pelosi, who mock the Constitution instead of keeping their oaths, have almost completely robbed us of the "Blessings of Liberty" which our Founding Fathers pledged "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor" to defend.

Though questions concerning constitutional authority are finally being asked inside the Beltway, they have been asked with ever-louder voices across the nation since Ronald Reagan reinvigorated that debate. Of course, since the last election, the national debate chorus has become much more unified.

For example, in The Patriot's home state of Tennessee (which Al Gore claims as "home" but which gave its electoral votes to Bush, twice, and then to McCain), there is a 10th Amendment battle underway, and not a minute too soon.

State Republicans are organizing a state sovereignty campaign in opposition to the federal government's abuse of states' rights. This week, a legislative committee approved a motion to invite representatives from the legislatures of the other 49 states to join a "working group ... to enumerate the abuses of authority by the federal government and to seek repeal of its assumption of powers."

Can you say, "Constitutional Convention"?

Predictably, Obama's state cadre of Democrat sycophants are huffing and puffing. State Democrat Chairman Chip Forrester says, "It's unfortunate that Republican members of the state Legislature have jumped on this crazy train. This is nothing short of lunacy. The Tea Party organizers and their ultra-right wing cronies began this ridiculous issue to disrupt civil debate about how to move this state and nation forward. I hope they are not suggesting we fight another Civil War."

No, we should give the Convention a chance before taking up arms. And if it comes to the latter, I suggest Mr. Forrester say goodbye to the sun and slither down a very deep hole.
23622  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kremlin Wars, part 2 on: October 23, 2009, 11:05:26 AM
The Kremlin Wars (Special Series), Part 2: The Combatants
October 23, 2009 | 1507 GMT
Former Russian president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is the indisputable executive power in Russia. His strength comes largely from his ability to control Russia's opposing political clans. Those two clans, which have been fighting for influence for most of the past eight years, are about to see fresh conflict as a new force, the civiliki, attempt to use Russia's economic crisis as an opportunity to reshape the country.

Editor's Note: This is part two in a five-part series examining the Russian political clans and the coming conflict between them.


Executive power in Russia indisputably rests with former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Putin emerged as the supreme political force in Russia following the chaos that defined the 1990s precisely because he stepped outside of the fray and acted effectively as an arbiter for the disparate power structures. Although Putin's background is in the KGB (now called the Federal Security Service, or FSB) and he used these links in intelligence and security services to initially consolidate his reign, his power does not rest on those foundations alone. Putin's power comes from his ability to control Russia's opposing clans through favors and fear that he will give one clan the tools and authority to destroy the other.

The two main clans within the Kremlin are the Sechin clan led by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and the Surkov clan led by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's First Deputy Chief of Staff Vladislav Surkov. These clans have been involved in almost continual competition for power for the past eight years. The group that may tip the balance in the coming clan wars is a newly defined class that is part of the Surkov clan: the civiliki. Putin's balance of power is intertwined with economic reform, and the civiliki -- a group of lawyers and economic technocrats -- want to use the economic crisis to reform Russia.

Sechin and the FSB and Siloviki
Sechin has deep roots within the FSB and the siloviki (a term which translates as "the strongmen") who are either directly linked to the FSB or are former security officers who have tried their hand at business or politics or both during their "retirement." Sechin and his group generally have a comparatively Soviet frame of mind, but without any ideological nostalgia for communism. They do, however, long for the powerful Soviet Union, which acted forcefully on the world stage, was respected by its foes and allies, was suspicious of the West and was led by a firm (bordering on brutal) hand at home. The economic system Sechin favors is one that harnesses Russia's plentiful natural resources to fund champions of industry and military technology, and essentially depends on high commodity prices to sustain itself.

Sechin's main source of power is undoubtedly the FSB. Although the FSB is fully loyal to Putin, this does not mean that it would not side with Sechin in a showdown against its opponents. Sechin uses the FSB as a talent pool from which to fill various positions under his command, including the chairmanships of various state-owned companies. This naturally irks the civiliki, who abhor the thought of intelligence operatives running Russian companies.

Aside from the FSB, Sechin's other pillars of power are the state-owned oil giant Rosneft and the interior, energy and defense ministries. The distribution of assets between the Sechin and Surkov clans is not random; Putin coordinated it precisely so that neither clan becomes too powerful. Sechin's control of Rosneft is therefore balanced by Surkov's control of Gazprom, the state-owned natural gas company. While Sechin gets control of the energy ministry, Surkov is in charge of the natural resources ministry and so on.

Surkov and the GRU
Surkov rose through the ranks by proving himself invaluable in two key episodes of Russian state consolidation: the Chechen insurgency and the collapse of the largest Russian private energy firm, Yukos. Originally from Chechnya, Surkov played a role in eliminating a major thorn in the Kremlin's side: Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev. He also helped mastermind Moscow's win in the Second Chechen War by creating a strategy that divided the insurgency between the nationalist Chechens and the Islamists. His role in bringing down Yukos oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky began the all-important consolidation of those economic resources pillaged during the 1990s by disparate business interests.

Surkov's power base is the Russian Foreign Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU). The GRU represents both military intelligence and the military. Throughout Soviet and post-Soviet history, it has been the counterbalance to the KGB/FSB. The GRU is larger than the FSB and has a longer reach abroad, although it its accomplishments are not as well known as those of the FSB.

Also under Surkov's control are Gazprom; the ministries of finance, economics and natural resources; and the Russian prosecutor general. However, Surkov's rival Sechin controls the interior and defense ministries -- which have most of Russia's armed forces under their command. This limits the GRU's ability to control the military.

Surkov has sought to weaken Sechin and the FSB's position by constantly looking for potential allies to add to his group. In 2003, he formed an alliance with the heads of the reformist camp -- previously known as the St. Petersburgers -- that has proven to be invaluable in the context of the financial crisis. It is this group, the civiliki, that will help Surkov in his attempt to defeat Sechin, possibly for the last time.

The Civiliki
The civiliki are rooted in two camps. The first is the St. Petersburgers group of legal experts and economists that coalesced around Anatoly Sobchak, mayor of St. Petersburg from 1991-1996. Many of Russia's power players -- from Putin to Medvedev to key civiliki figures like Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and German Gref, the former trade and economics minister and current head of Sberbank -- either worked directly under Sobchak or were somehow related to his administration. The second is the somewhat younger group of Western-leaning businessmen and economists that eventually joined the reformists from St. Petersburg.

The civiliki primarily want economic stability and believe Russia has to reform its economic system and move past state intervention in the economy that depends largely on natural resources for output. They try to be non-ideological and are for the most part uninterested in political intrigue. In their mind, economic stability is to be founded on a strong business relationship with the West that would provide Russia with access to capital with which to fund economic reforms. From their perspective, funding from the West has to go to rational and efficient companies that seek to maximize profit, not political power.

The first grouping of economic experts and Western leaning businessmen was led by Anatoly Chubais, who led the St. Petersburg group and was essentially in charge of various privatization efforts in the 1990s under former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. However, most of the St. Petersburg group was sidelined by the general failure of economic reforms enacted during this period. They were then almost snuffed out by the siloviki during the commodities boom from 2005 onward, leaving only Kudrin in a position of some power.

However, Surkov rescued the civiliki and incorporated them, giving them the powerful protector they lacked. Part of Surkov's plan was to turn one of the more prominent civiliki -- Medvedev -- into a superstar at the Kremlin. In Surkov's mind Medvedev was the correct choice since he was neither FSB nor GRU, though Surkov still felt he could influence him. This move helped Medvedev become president. Since Medvedev's ascendance to the presidency, and with Surkov's support, the other civiliki leaders -- Kudrin and Gref -- have been given even greater liberty to run the economy without fear of being replaced. Kudrin is handling the economy while Gref essentially is masterminding the banking system reform. The two of them work very well together, and with their allies Economic Minister Elvira Nabiullina and Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev.

There is a rapidly brewing Surkov-backed conflict between the civiliki and Sechin. The strife is rooted in the simple issue of efficiency: The civiliki argument is that the Sechin clan wasted the good years of high commodity prices, crashed the Russian economy and weakened the state. This forces Putin to look at the conflict differently from previous clan battles. The Surkov-Sechin arguments typically are "just" about power, and thus about maintaining a balance. But the civiliki see Sechin's group not so much as a threat to them but as a threat to Russia. This is an argument that Putin has been able to ignore, but the latest economic crisis could have changed this.

The civiliki have a ready-made solution for the inherent problems in the Russian economy. Surkov's support for the civiliki, along with the financial crisis, has given Putin pause and he is giving their proposals consideration. However, the implementation of such reforms could reignite the feud between the clans and thus completely destabilize the delicate balance Putin has attempted to keep in the Kremlin.

23623  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Coast Guard and the 4th Amendment on: October 23, 2009, 10:53:52 AM
Interesting explanation of the basis for the Coast guard's search and seizure authority vs our 4th Amendment rights.....

A warning. If you have no interest in civil liberties, constitutional law, or the unmitigated growth of federal power... don't read the next several paragraphs.

 About six weeks ago, I purchased a 35-foot fishing boat – an Everglades 35CC. I store the boat on a dock behind my house in Miami, where it is properly registered with the state of Florida. It takes me about 30 minutes to reach the ocean through canals maintained by the city of Miami. I've been out ocean fishing three times since I got the boat. On two of those three occasions, I've been threatened, detained, searched, and/or boarded by agents of the federal government without any probable cause of wrongdoing... or even any reasonable suspicion.

These actions were taken against me and my guests with considerable force: The stops involved high-speed boats, helicopters, large caliber automatic weapons, and black-booted officers decked out in SWAT-team like apparel. In the second instance, my boat was boarded and searched. IDs were taken from all eight passengers. We were ordered to stay on the far side of the boat – in the sun – for nearly two hours and treated like suspected drug smugglers while two Coast Guard officers searched every compartment of my boat – including the small tackle box drawers and our personal belongings.

They called the boarding a "safety inspection." And let me tell you... it is scary when heavily armed men are telling you not to make any sudden movements, to get on the far side of the boat. Their hands are sitting on top of their holsters... and you are 30 miles out at sea.


 A safety inspection is supposed to consist of checking life jackets, fire extinguishers, the structural integrity of the boat, the registration, and a few other minor documents, like an oil discharge placard. How could doing this require two hours? Why would doing this require a stop 30 miles out to sea, involving a helicopter, a Coast Guard cutter, and a four-man boarding party? What's reasonable about a "safety" inspection that features black-soled boots marking up nearly every topside surface of a white, brand-new fiberglass boat? Why should our driver licenses have been taken from us?

 You might recall the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution forbids unreasonable searches and seizures:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Obviously, boats are not specifically named as a protected class of property... but papers and effects seem to be protected. And there's plenty of case law that has extended Fourth Amendment protections – to some degree – to places other than your home. For example, you can't be pulled over on the highway without some probable cause or some traffic violation. But... we had done nothing wrong. We received no citations whatsoever. We were in a brand new boat, running at 40 knots... clearly, there was no problem with the safety of our vessel.

Our new "friends" on USCGC 87318 Bluefin

 So the question I had when I was eventually able to return home, after dark, following our two-hour "safety inspection" was: How in the hell do these guys get away with these actions?

Well, it turns out the Coast Guard and other customs agents have more power to search and seize than any other kind of law enforcement. The reason why dates back to 1790, when the Coast Guard was part of the Treasury Department. Back then, the inspections had nothing to do with safety – they were revenue cutters. The Coast Guard was looking for smugglers because, at the time, the main sources of revenue for the federal government were tariffs. Congress passed a law that would seem to violate the Fourth Amendment directly because it had to ensure its ability to collect tariffs:
That it shall be lawful for all collectors, naval officers, surveyors, inspectors, and the officers of the revenue cutters herein after mentioned, to go on board of ships or vessels in any part of the United States, or within four leagues of the coast thereof, if bound to the United States, whether in or out of their respective districts, for the purposes of demanding the manifests aforesaid, and of examining and searching the said ships or vessels...
 Here's the fascinating part... The Coast Guard's role as revenue cutters was abandoned in 1915 with the advent of income taxes. The Coast Guard finally left the Department of the Treasury in 1967. It is now a part of the Department of Homeland Security. And yet, despite the obvious and well-documented changes in the role of the Coast Guard and the nature of its mission, the Supreme Court continues to deny U.S. citizens their Fourth Amendment rights, out of deference to the Coast Guard's former unique duties (see United States v. Villamonte-Marquez, 1983).

The government, which wouldn't ordinarily be able to stop, search, and seize any American-flagged vessel anywhere in the world at any time, is now empowered to do so simply because, 100 years ago, this power was necessary for tax revenues. So guess who is now routinely assigned to duty aboard Coast Guard cutters? DEA agents.

And yet... the Supreme Court continues to pretend these random searches are merely for "safety inspections." It is yet another case of the Constitution simply being ignored.

 Now... you might say, so what? We like the Coast Guard catching drug smugglers. OK, fine. Just change the Constitution. There is a legal process for doing so. But you're fooling yourself if you think the Coast Guard is actually doing any good. The price of drugs has been falling ever since the "War on Drugs" was announced. We keep spending more money trying to stop drug smuggling... but what actually happens out there?

 The Coast Guard has been turned into a weapon against the citizens of the United States. What's the Coast Guard actually doing? Why would they inspect a brand new boat? A boat that's obviously not involved in any large-scale drug smuggling and is loaded up with expensive fishing equipment and top-of-line Yamaha engines? Here's a possibility: If they find a single joint, they can seize the boat.

 What's happened to the job of actually defending and protecting the people of the United States? In January 1984, just as the Coast Guard's new role as the top drug hound was being expanded, it began refusing ALL requests to help stranded boaters. Taxpayers fund the Coast Guard... which now refuses to help boaters in trouble and instead preys on boat owners at every possible opportunity. Maybe we shouldn't just ignore the Constitution.
23624  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: October 23, 2009, 10:18:50 AM
"Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards." --Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1738
23625  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islamo Fascism gets bold in CA on: October 23, 2009, 09:16:32 AM
Yolo DA: Beating Victim Made Comments Supporting US Actions In Afghanistan

Anti-Taliban Remarks Cited In Attack - POSTED: 7:15 pm PDT October 22, 2009


Four Northern California men were indicted this month on charges of beating up four people after one of the victims talked about supporting the United States and the military's role in ousting Afghanistan's Taliban government.

Mohammed Qumar Ashraf, 29, of Sacramento; Khialluddin Niazi, 69, of West Sacramento; Sarajuddin Niazi, 31, of Union City; and Zafaruddin Niazi, 27, of Los Gatos, face multiple counts, including attempted murder.

The four suspects were released on their own recognizance after Judge Arvid Johnson ordered them to surrender their passports, the district attorney's office said.

The men are accused of going to one victim's residence in March 2004, armed with baseball bats. They beat up four people, prosecutors said; three victims needed medical attention.

Arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 20.
23626  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Russia-- Europe on: October 23, 2009, 09:13:22 AM
Serbia: Russia's Eyes on the Balkans
SERBIAN INTERIOR MINISTER IVICA DACIC and Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu signed a deal on Wednesday to set up by 2012 a humanitarian center for emergencies in Nis, a city in southeastern Serbia. At a press conference, the ministers said the center would be a regional hub for emergency relief in southeastern Europe, and that it will include a mine-clearance center.

To those familiar with the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations and its longtime minister, this announcement should give pause. It has the potential to redefine how the world looks at the Balkans and Russia’s involvement in the region.

Given the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the independence of Kosovo, the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the EU and NATO, and the general enlargement of NATO to the Balkans, the West has had the luxury of being able to forget about the Balkans, for the most part. This is historically anomalous, considering the region’s generally unstable past and its penchant for causing wide-ranging conflagrations. Certainly, trouble spots remain: Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo are still overt Western protectorates with potential for flaring up, and Serbia is generally dissatisfied with Kosovo’s independence. However, with Serbia practically surrounded by NATO members or candidates, the West has believed that it has the time to digest the remaining Balkan problems at a leisurely pace.

Enter the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations.

This is anything but a minor ministry in the Russian government. Shoigu has essentially run the ministry since 1994. He is a member of the powerful and selective Russian Security Council -- a key advisory body to the Russian executive on national security -- and has roots in the foreign military intelligence directorate, better known as the GRU, which is one of the most powerful and shadowy institutions in Russia. The ministry is an unofficial wing of the GRU and an outgrowth of its activities. It handles more than natural emergencies: It is involved in the suppression of militant activity in the Caucasus and is in charge of the Russian civil defense troops -- which basically gives the ministry its own paramilitary force, as well as access to the rest of the Russian military. In addition, it has considerable airlift capability due to Russia’s vast geography and often inhospitable climate, which means that in many situations the only means to deliver supplies to an area in need is by aircraft.

It is not clear what this arrangement with Serbia might entail in terms of logistical capability. The region is prone to a variety of natural disasters, especially forest fires, and the center could have a role in aiding their resolution. However, all neighboring countries are either member states of NATO or the EU, or on their way to joining one of the two organizations. And though Serbia's West-friendly neighbors can always use the extra help, they hardly need a regional logistical center manned by Moscow and Belgrade.

Therefore, if one considers the links to the GRU and the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations' experience with airlift and related logistics, it has to be considered that Moscow might lay logistical groundwork that -- intentionally or not -- has military value. This could range from nothing more than surveys of the airport’s capability to the prepositioning of logistical equipment, allowing the facility to be ramped up into a proper base in times of crisis. The United States has littered the Balkans with exactly such installations, referred to as lily pads -- most notably in neighboring Romania, where it has four. These are a threat to Russian interests in Moldova and Ukraine, and something Moscow has wanted to counter.

Nis is an interesting location for the new emergency center because it long has been a military hub – first for Yugoslavia and later for southern Serbia. It is located on a key north-south transportation link in southeastern Europe, has a major airport and is home of the Serbian special forces' 63rd Paratroopers’ Battalion, quite possibly Belgrade’s (if not the region’s) most effective fighting force.

There are some serious impediments to an effective Russian lily pad. First, Serbia is practically surrounded by NATO states, which means its airspace easily could be closed off during a crisis. Second, there is only so much equipment Russia can set up in Serbia before the “equipped logistical base” starts to look suspicious. Third, Russia is, ultimately, a land-based force, and despite the recent rhetoric about the need to establish expeditionary forces, there has not been much concrete movement in that direction.

Despite these limitations, which make the move largely symbolic for the near future, Moscow is on its way to setting up its first logistical center with potential military uses outside of the former Soviet Union. In addition, the center will be run by a ministry that serves as the wing of the Russian military intelligence unit. If one puts this in the context of the recent visit to Belgrade by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, with his pledge for a $1.5 billion loan for credit-starved Serbia, it must be concluded that Russia is moving into the Balkans with enthusiasm.

Belgrade likely hopes that Russia’s moves in the region will spur the West into action over Serbia’s long-delayed, but much-promised, integration into the EU. This strategy seemed to bear immediate fruit: The EU countered Russia’s lending with loans of its own, including a proposal for a $1.5 billion investment over five years.

However, there is danger in this strategy. It is one thing to play one loan off of another and quite another to be seen as a potential ally of Moscow. Serbia easily could find itself in the middle of a whirlwind, with the potential reopening of the Balkans as a major point of contestation between the West and Russia.
23627  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BBG on: October 22, 2009, 08:31:01 PM
Woof All:

I am very proud to announce that our own BBG is under consideration for a pundit job at a newspaper of international reknown.  Of course there are many, many other folks under consideration and the process is long.  Therefore we will not be seeing much of him around here for a number of weeks.

Remember us after you hit the big time!
23628  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Legal issues in MA instruction on: October 22, 2009, 08:14:56 PM
Martial arts school sued
Nelson Bennett
Richmond News
October 21, 2009

A Richmond Hapkido instructor is appealing a recent court decision 
that cleared the way for a lawsuit that, if successful, could have 
implications for a wide range of youth sports and extracurricular 

Victor Wong, 20, is suing Lok's Martial Arts Centre for negligence 
stemming from a broken arm he received while a student at the dojang 
in 2006.

Wong was sparring with a fellow student, Ramin Asgare Nik, who is also 
named in the lawsuit.

A lawsuit against Lok's Hapkido school could have implications for 
other martial arts schools, like this judo club, where sparring 
carries a risk of injury.

Wong's statement of claim alleges 26 incidents of negligence, ranging 
from failing to screen students for emotional or psychological 
problems, to failing to ban Nik from sparring when he had demonstrated 
"previous signs of inappropriate aggression and behaviour."

Wong's lawyer, Bonnie Lepin, said her client does not want to talk to 
the media, but said his injury was severe enough that it continues to 
affect his ability to work.

"He has a permanent partial disability," she said.

Michael Lok, the martial art's school's owner, filed to have Wong's 
suit -- filed in 2006 -- dismissed, based on the fact Wong's mother 
signed a waiver indemnifying his dojang from any responsibility for 
any injury students might receive while practicing martial arts.

But Justice Peter Willcock recently dismissed that application based 
on the B.C. Infant's Act. Willcock's ruling doesn't mean Wong will 
necessarily win his civil suit -- only that it can go ahead.

The civil trial is set for Nov. 23, although that date could be 
adjourned, as Lok is appealing the recent court decision to the B.C. 
Court of Appeal.

The ruling underscores just how vulnerable to lawsuits anyone in B.C. 
who deals with children may be, thanks to the B.C. Infant's Act, which 
essentially means waivers signed by parents on behalf of their 
children have no force in law.

Hapkido is a Korean martial art that employs kicks, punches, throws 
and a range of arm and wrist locks, as well as weapons training. In 
addition to doing drills, students put their skills to the test 
through sparring matches.

By their very nature, martial arts involve a risk of injury, which is 
why Lok requires all students or their parents to sign waivers.

The school's conditions for membership states: "all exercises, 
treatments and use of facilities are taken at the student's sole 
risk," and concludes in capital letters: 'YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL 

Wong's mother, Yen To, signed Wong and his two brothers up for Hapkido 
in 2001, when Victor Wong was 12 years old.

"Ms. To says she signed the Conditions of Membership and Release form 
but did not read it carefully or fully understand it," court documents 
state. "She knew if she did not sign it her sons would not be allowed 
to enrol in Hapkido classes. She says she had no intention of waiving 
her sons' rights to sue..."

Wong's lawsuit alleges the injury he received was not a result of 
ordinary martial arts training. The suit alleges Lok was negligent in 
allowing Nik, who was bigger and 25 years older, to spar with a 
student who was just 16.

Lok's lawyer, Michael Frost, argues that Wong was, in fact, the more 
advanced student.

"In fact, Mr. Wong had a higher belt than Mr. Nik," he said.

Wong'claims Nik became frustrated when Wong got the upper hand in a 
sparring match, grabbed him in a bear hug and threw him to the ground 
-- "a maneuver which was not in any way part of the recognized 
sparring match technique."

Lok's lawyer, Michael Frost, disputes that allegation, saying Wong fell.

"This was an accident," Frost said.
23629  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 22, 2009, 08:07:57 PM
Go Lyotto!!!
23630  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Current Events: Philippines on: October 22, 2009, 03:54:34 PM
Third post:

I have NO idea as to the implications of this and I suspect we have several knowledgeable lurkers here.  Anyone?
23631  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / second post on: October 22, 2009, 03:53:35 PM

Who’s sleeping with the enemy?
October 21st, 2009 at 2:40 am by Manuel Buencamino

Last weekend Leslie Bassett, the US Embassy’s charge d’affaires, met with the top officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The meeting raises several questions.

Did the American Embassy ask the Arroyo administration for permission to meet with the MILF leadership?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Malacañang have not said anything. Military commanders in the area did not know that a meeting would take place.

Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the Americans simply requested him to provide security for their “routine familiarization visit.”

Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, spokesman for the Sixth Infantry Division that provided escorts for the Americans, was also clueless.

“We learned afterward from intelligence reports about the meeting. We learned that they discussed development projects and probably also the peace process.”

Now I don’t know about you but I think the US Embassy and, for that matter, all embassies, have an obligation to ask the host government for permission before sitting down with secessionists.

If the meeting was secret and held without the Arroyo administration’s permission, then the US Embassy not only breached diplomatic protocol—it also committed a subversive act.

Who initiated the meeting?

It’s not clear. The MILF was not forthcoming and the US Embassy downplayed it.

“Ms. Bassett met with various leaders and officials in Cotabato as part of a routine familiarization visit.”

What did the Americans and the secessionists discuss during their “warm and forthright” two-hour meeting?

Neither party provided details, but general statements coming from the US Embassy and the MILF make one wonder if indeed the US is taking the side of the secessionists.

The MILF web site posted Bassett’s statement and the profuse response of the MILF chieftain.

“The United States government greatly respects and supports the people’s struggle and aspiration to achieve peace in the region. Helping attain and sustain peace, security and development in Mindanao is a priority concern of our government,” said Bassett.

MILF chief Haji Murad responded, “We convey the utmost gratitude and felicitations of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people to the United States of America and His Excellency President Barack Obama for the unfaltering commitment to support the peace process and the peaceful conflict resolution between the government and MILF.”

Now, would Murad feel that way if he didn’t believe that Bassett’s statement is a message of support for the MILF’s goal of eventually seceding from the Republic?

The MILF is so confident of US support the vice chairman for MILF political affairs appealed for US intervention.

“The US government knows very well the background of the conflict both historically and legally, and we believe that the US can greatly help toward the peaceful resolution of the conflict,” said Ghazali Jaafar.

Jaafar’s statement seems innocuous enough until one sees where it’s coming from.

The MILF web site says, “Murad [the MILF chieftain] recalled that our Bangsamoro forefathers officially asked the United Sates as early as 1921 and followed up in 1924 and in 1935 to separate Bangsamoro homeland from the Filipinos of Luzon and Visayas once independence will be granted to the latter. The Moros wanted to remain under US rule rather than being annexed to the Philippine Republic.”

Is the US sleeping with the enemy?

Yes, but the US is not the only one in bed with the MILF.

Last year the Supreme Court had to step in to prevent the Arroyo administration from giving away Philippine territory to the MILF.

MILF: US is a superpower; more effective outside of the ICG or formal framework of peace talks
Tuesday, 20 October 2009 08:24 administrator

October 20, 2009 - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has confirmed reports that it sought the help of the United States in the current GRP-MILF Peace Process in Mindanao, saying as a superpower the US can do many things very effective outside the framework of the International Contact Group (ICG) and the formal framework of the peace talks.

No less than Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the MILF, made the request to Ms. Leslie Basset, US Embassy deputy chief of mission, during a meeting in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on October 16.

Madame Basset was accompanied by US Embassy Political Officer Michael Pignagtello, Elzaida Washington, Country Director of the United Sates Aid for International Development, and Anthony Senci, Embassy Defense Minister.

Joining Murad were Ghazali Jaafar, Vice Chairman for Political Affairs, Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Chief Negotiator, Muhammad Ameen, Secretary of the MILF Central Committee, Gordon Sayfullah, Senior Commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Force (BIAF), Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, Peace Negotiating Panel Member, Jun Mantawil, Head of Peace Panel Secretariat, and Toks Ebrahim, Chairman of the MILF Ceasefire Committee.

Jun Mantawil, head of the MILF Peace Panel Secretariat, told that current global conflict resolutions point to the fact that without the participation of the former colonizing power, in the case of the Philippines, the US, hastening the process of finding the solution to a given conflict is really difficult.

He said the US knows very well the root of the conflict in Mindanao, which he said was the annexation of Mindanao into the national territory of the Philippines during the grant of independence in 1946.

He recalled that the Moros were administered separately from the Filipinos by the creation of the Moro Province in 1903 and they vehemently opposed union with Filipinos once independence is granted to the Philippines.

“The Moros wanted to remain under US direct rule where they feel safer,” Mantawil added.

Asked what definitive role the US can play, Mantawil did not provide details except by saying it is too early to tell.

Meantime, in a separate interview, Seguis said that the MILF should clarify how it wants Washington to take part in the peace process, given that Malaysia has been brokering the peace talks between the government and the rebels.

“It is a welcome development that the MILF is seeking the help of the US government, but I still have to know in detail on how would they like the US to be of assistance since it would have an impact on the framework that we are working on,” Seguis told The Manila Times. “Will they want the US to be a facilitator together with Malaysia, or as a part of the ICG?”

The Manila Times quoted Seguis in an interview as saying, “When they (the US Embassy officials) told me that they are going on a meeting, I said go ahead,” the government negotiator told The Times. “It is OK for the senior diplomats, including the US, to meet with the MILF. That is part of their engagement in dialogue for peace, for the formal resumption of the peace process.”

“They are participating in a peaceful dialogue to convince the MILF to go back to the negotiating table with us, so that they won’t resort to violence,” Seguis said, adding that he and Bassett will meet this week about what transpired in the Mindanao meeting.
23632  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / US meeting with MILF?!? on: October 22, 2009, 03:51:24 PM

US officials meet with MILF on peace talks

COTABATO CITY – Washington officials again held a secret meeting with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the jungles of Maguindanao, reaffirming their support to the peace talks between them and the Philippine government.

US Embassy Charge’ de Affairs Leslie Basset; political officer Michael Pignagtello; Elzaida Washington, Country Director of the United States Aid for International Development; and Anthony Senci, Embassy defense minister, met on Friday with MILF commanders led by their chief, Ebrahim Murad, at Camp Darapanan, the rebel’s main camp in Sultan Kudarat town.

In her message posted on the rebels’ website, Basset reiterated the US commitment to support the peace process in Mindanao by providing more assistance.

“The United States government greatly respect and support people’s struggle and aspiration to achieve peace in the region. Helping attain and sustain peace, security and development in Mindanao is a priority concern of our government,” she said.

Murad said they have remained committed and determined since the start of the peace negotiation in 1997.

“We convey the utmost gratitude and felicitation of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people to the United States of America and His Excellency President Barack Obama for the unfaltering commitment to support the peace process and the peaceful conflict resolution between the government and MILF,” Murad said in statement.

MILF vice chair for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar urged the US government to help specifically in addressing the conflict’s root cause.

“The US government knows very well the background of the conflict both historically and legally, and we believe that US can greatly help toward the peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Jaafar said.

The MILF briefed US diplomats about the current peace negotiation situation that has been moving forward.

Recently, the government and the MILF forged the Framework Agreement on the formation of the International Contact Group (ICG), an international body composed of two member countries from European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference that would ensure the full implementation of all agreements to be signed by two panels.

At the same time, the MILF strongly believed US presence in the region has not been for purely counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism missions.

“Peace-making and peace-building must go hand in hand in resolving the Bangsamoro problem and the conflict in Mindanao. The US government is providing indispensible contribution to these efforts,” he said.

In 2008, US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney also secretly met with Murad in Darapanan where she assured the rebel group of her country’s support to the peace talks.
23633  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Intro to the Kremlin Wars on: October 22, 2009, 03:47:00 PM
The Kremlin Wars (Special Series Introduction): The War Begins
October 22, 2009 | 1954 GMT
PDF Version
Click here to download a PDF of this report
Strange things are happening inside Russia these days. Pro-Kremlin political parties have boycotted the parliament, our sources say lawsuits are about to be filed against some of the state's favorite companies, and rumors are circulating high within the Kremlin that the Russian economy is destined to be liberalized.

When looked at separately, each of these currents can be rationalized, for Russia has just recently completed elections and the global financial crisis is still hammering its economy. But a deeper look reveals instability inside what is normally a consolidated, stable and politically-locked Russia. Something much bigger and more fundamental is afoot: a war among the most powerful men of the Kremlin is coming.

Though Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin undoubtedly rules the country, he does not rule it alone. Over the past decade he has carefully crafted a balanced structure of power. Beneath him on the Kremlin's organizational chart are two very ambitious men: Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and Deputy Chief of Staff Vladislav Surkov. Both of these men control vast swaths of the government bureaucracy, state companies and levers of power throughout the Russian system -- including the powerful Federal Security Service (FSB) and Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU).

It is the classic balance-of-power arrangement. So long as these two clans scheme against each other, Putin's position as the ultimate power is not threatened and the state itself remains strong -- and not in the hands of one power-hungry clan or another.

But having all major parts of Russia's government and economy fall under the two clans creates a certain structural weakness, a problem exacerbated over the past few years by the effects on the Russian economy of chronic mismanagement, falling oil prices and, most recently, the global financial crisis. All have weakened the state. Economic problems have become so acute that Putin, for the first time since his rise to power in Russia, has had to step back and reassess whether his system of balanced power is the best way to run the country.

The first to plant this seed of doubt were the liberal-leaning economists (known as the civiliki) within Surkov's clan, who went to Putin over the summer and told him the Russian economy had to be fixed and that they knew how to achieve that. As it happened, their plan called for excluding Sechin's clan -- especially those in the FSB -- from any involvement in economic matters. The plan presents, of course, a good opportunity for Surkov to grab hold of a critical issue in Russia and twist it to weaken his rival clan.

And it presents Putin with a pivotal dilemma. He likes the idea of fixing the Russian economy and making it work like a real economy, but it would mean throwing off the balance of power in the country -- the equilibrium he has worked all these years to achieve. And should this balance be thrown off, the effects could ripple throughout every part of Russia -- all levels of government, influential security institutions and even the country's powerful state-owned companies.

When these issues came to our attention some months ago, our first thought was that they were merely the machinations of just another high-level Russian source hoping we would promote his agenda. So we sought confirmation with a number of unrelated sources -- and we received it. The final convincing event in our minds was Putin's Sept. 29 declaration that some heavy economic reforms are indeed necessary. We cannot rule out that this could all be a disinformation campaign -- those are as Russian as vodka and purges -- but we cannot ignore our intelligence from such a broad array of sources, especially when it's combined with signs of political and economic instability now cropping up inside Russia.

So, herewith, STRATFOR presents The Kremlin Wars, a five-part series on the civiliki's ambitious plan to repair the Russian economy, the impact of that plan on the equilibrium of Russian power and the dilemma Putin now faces in trying to keep Russia politically stable as well as economically sound.
23634  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: October 22, 2009, 10:53:01 AM
IIRC on the DBMA Assn site there is a clip of me getting tased by Southnark  cheesy
23635  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The continuing creep of fascism on: October 22, 2009, 10:08:34 AM

Leonard Downie, who stepped down a year ago as executive editor of the Washington Post, was famous for declining to vote as a matter of journalistic principle.

"I decided to stop voting when I became the ultimate gatekeeper for what is published in the newspaper," he once explained. "I wanted to keep a completely open mind about everything we covered and not make a decision, even in my own mind or the privacy of the voting booth, about who should be president or mayor, for example."

This week Mr. Downie is in the news for declaring in favor of government subsidies for the press. He has written a report, commissioned by the Columbia Journalism School, called "The Reconstruction of American Journalism," which recommends legislation and regulatory changes to enable news organizations to operate as nonprofits or hybrids between limited liability companies and charities. The report also recommends that the government use money from various fees to subsidize the news business.

The report focuses on what it calls "accountability journalism." According to the dean of the Columbia Journalism School, Nicholas Lemann, in a note published on the CJR Web site, Messrs. Downie and co-author Michael Schudson make clear that the Internet "has brought the days when privately owned newspapers could be the main bearers of this reporting function to an end."

The authors insist they are not recommending "a government bailout of newspapers, nor any of the various direct subsidies that governments give newspapers in many European countries," even though, they reckon, "those subsidies have not had a noticeably chilling effect on newspapers' willingness to print criticism of those governments." They acknowledge that most Americans distrust government involvement in reporting and say they share it. But they write that this "should not preclude government support for news reporting any more than it has for the arts, the humanities, and sciences, all of which receive some government support."

They say there's been "a minimum of government pressure in those fields," though they note the exceptions, such as when the National Endowment for the Arts came under fire in the 1990s. The authors assert that "any use of government money to help support news reporting would require mechanisms, besides the protections of the First Amendment, to insulate the resulting journalism as much as possible from pressure, interference, or censorship." They propose that the government siphon money into the news business from the Federal Communications Commission's surcharge on phone bills. They suggest the revenues be tapped for a Fund for Local News, which could direct the money to "worthy initiatives in local news reporting."

View Full Image

Martin Kozlowski
 .The report suggests they would fund "categories and methods" of reporting, rather than individual stories or reporting projects. It likened the way Local News Fund Councils would operate to the ways State Humanities Councils have been in business since the 1970s—nonprofits whose volunteer boards have, in some places, gubernatorial appointees, all serving limited terms. When I asked Mr. Downie for more detail on what he had in mind, he said he envisioned government money more for innovation than continuing operations, though he also suggested that grants could be renewable.

Mr. Downie has stepped onto an exceptionally slippery slope. It's a view I've reached after 20 years working almost constantly to raise private capital for independent, privately-owned newspapers. One was the Forward, the weekly newspaper covering the Jewish beat that was launched in the 1990s on the foundation of the famed Yiddish-language broadsheet known as the Jewish Daily Forward. The other was The New York Sun, which was launched in 2002 to try, among other things, to seize the local beat from which the New York Times was retreating as it sought to become a national newspaper.

Though those were joyous decades in a happy newspaper life, I don't mind saying there were often desperate days. There were weeks at the Forward when its chairman, Harold Ostroff, and I basically covered the payroll with an American Express card. At the Sun, I was once warned by a lawyer that if the investors didn't come through, officers of the company could be held personally liable for any unpaid payroll taxes. (There were no unpaid taxes, and the investors did come through.)

One thing that kept me going was the prospect that at least some of our competitors, who were also losing money, might crack before we did. The notion that any of them might be sustained by government subsidies strikes me as profoundly contrary to a free press. In the event, the Sun folded without government help.

I take no comfort from the analogy the authors of this report draw with government funding for the arts. In New York City, there came a time when the leaders the voters entrusted with their tax money concluded that what was being done with it in the arts was so abhorrent they tried to stop it. This happened in 1999, when Mayor Rudy Giuliani confronted the Brooklyn Museum over its display of a depiction of the Madonna that had been splattered with elephant dung. A federal court wouldn't let the city stop funding the museum.

What would happen today if some modern-day version of Jay Near's "Saturday Press," an anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, racist newspaper issued during the 1920s, were to look for innovative funding by one of these state councils today? Minnesota tried back then to suppress Near's paper as a nuisance. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Near v. Minnesota (1931), protected his freedom from prior restraint. It's one thing for the Supreme Court to say a Jay Near can't be stopped in advance from publishing on his own dime. It would be another to use state power to force the rest of us to pay for it whether we want to or not.

Even if one could get around this sort of thing, I've come to the view that the real protection of press freedom is in the idea of private property. Press freedom in Soviet Russia was lost precisely on this issue when, as American journalist John Reed told the story in his famous book, "Ten Days that Shook the World," a proposal was put on the table to restore the press freedom that had been suspended on the first day of the Bolshevik revolution. Lenin shouted it down with a diatribe about how that would mean restoring to capitalists privately owned printing equipment, paper supplies and ink.

I don't mean to suggest, in any way, that Mr. Downie is a Bolshevik. I do mean to suggest that the best strategy to strengthen the press would be to maximize protection of the right to private property—and the right to competition. Subsidies are the enemy of competition, and as the newspaper industry flails around for a solution, I can't help but think of the hapless Roscoe Filburn.

He was a farmer in Ohio who had the misfortune to be growing wheat during the 1930s, when subsidies were brought in for farmers. With subsidies came restrictions on how much wheat one could grow—even, Filburn learned in a landmark Supreme Court case, Wickard v. Filburn (1942), wheat grown on his modest farm. Years later we have fewer family farms and more industrial farms vying for vast federal subsidies.

Could such a thing happen in news? Speaking as one entrepreneur who has tasted failure in the news business, let me say that if government subsidies for news gathering ever come up for a voter referendum, I hope Mr. Downie, a great editor to be sure, stands on his original principles and stays home.

Mr. Lipsky, a member of the adjunct faculty at the Columbia Journalism School, is the author of "The Citizen's Constitution: An Annotated Guide," which will be published later this month by Basic Books.
23636  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / DBMA para Policia on: October 22, 2009, 09:03:06 AM

23637  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Taser on: October 22, 2009, 08:21:40 AM
Taser International is advising police agencies across the nation not to shoot its stun guns at a suspect's chest.

The Arizona-based company says such action poses a risk - albeit extremely low - of an "adverse cardiac event."

The advisory was issued in an Oct. 12 training bulletin. It marks the first time that Taser has suggested there is any risk of a cardiac arrest related to the use of its 50,000-volt stun guns.

Taser officials said Tuesday the bulletin does not state that Tasers can cause cardiac arrest. They said the advisory means only that law-enforcement agencies can avoid controversy if their officers aim at areas other than the chest.

Critics called it a stunning reversal for the company.
23638  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: October 22, 2009, 08:08:19 AM
"Twenty years ago this fall, the Iron Curtain was coming down in Europe. Across the Warsaw Pact, the jailers of the Communist prison states lost their nerve, and the cell walls crumbled. Matt Welch, the editor of Reason magazine, wonders why the anniversary is going all but unobserved: Why aren't we making more of the biggest mass liberation in history? Well, because to celebrate it would involve recognizing it as a victory over Communism. And, after the left's long march through the institutions of the west, most are not willing to do that. There's the bad totalitarianism (Nazism) and the good totalitarianism (Communism), whose apologists and, indeed, fetishists can still be found everywhere, even unto the White House." --columnist Mark Steyn
23639  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty on: October 22, 2009, 07:46:16 AM
U.S. Cedes Control of Internet
Global access to the Internet is poised to become global control of the Internet. With little fanfare, Washington has quietly ceded control over the technology the United States developed and shared with the rest of the world in the first place. According to the UK Guardian, the change came in the form of a contract negotiated between the U.S. Department of Commerce and ICANN, the California-based company that "ultimately controls the development of the internet thanks to its oversight of web addresses such as .com, .net and .org." In essence, the new agreement ended the old one between ICANN and the U.S. government, "opening the door for a virtual United Nations, where many officials gather to discuss potential changes to the internet."

This means that, while the United States previously held some sway over ICANN's actions, decision-making authority will now be expanded internationally, including to countries with histories of censorship and human rights abuse as well as to those with a penchant for global regulation and taxation.

Of course, the EU welcomed the cession, no doubt satisfied that its recent whining over too much American control was rewarded (surprise!) with appeasement from the Obama administration.
23640  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington; on: October 22, 2009, 07:45:48 AM
"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." --George Washington, First Inaugural Address, 1789

"It is a very great mistake to imagine that the object of loyalty is the authority and interest of one individual man, however dignified by the applause or enriched by the success of popular actions." --Samuel Adams

"You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, 'The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.' The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing." --Ronald Reagan

"The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election... They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 9, 1787

"More permanent and genuine happiness is to be found in the sequestered walks of connubial life than in the giddy rounds of promiscuous pleasure." --George Washington, letter to the Marquis de la Rourie, 1786

"I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event of one's life, the foundation of happiness or misery." --George Washington, letter to Burwell Bassett, 1785

"The happy State of Matrimony is, undoubtedly, the surest and most lasting Foundation of Comfort and Love; the Source of all that endearing Tenderness and Affection which arises from Relation and Affinity; the grand Point of Property; the Cause of all good Order in the World, and what alone preserves it from the utmost Confusion; and, to sum up all, the Appointment of infinite Wisdom for these great and good Purposes." --Benjamin Franklin, Rules and Maxims for Promoting Matrimonial Happiness, 1730

"[L]et them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." --Thomas Jefferson

"After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." --French historian Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

"[A]lthough a republican government is slow to move, yet when once in motion, its momentum becomes irresistible." --Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Francis C. Gray, 1815
23641  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 22, 2009, 07:27:39 AM
Political Futures
"This year's awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama can only hasten the decline in prestige of an award that has already gone to people like Yasser Arafat, UN General Secretary Kofi Annan (who presided over the Iraqi oil-for-food scam) and the fabulist Guatemalan activist Rigoberta Menchu. For this year's Nobel, the deadline was February 1, barely ten days after Mr. Obama had assumed the presidency. Though the Nobel committee of five Norwegian politicians presumably considered the evidence over the summer, it's fair to say their award represents little more than wishful thinking that Mr. Obama's diplomatic efforts will ultimately bear fruit. Other U.S. Presidents have won Nobels, but for actual accomplishments. Teddy Roosevelt helped broker a peace treaty between Russia and Japan. Woodrow Wilson worked to build a lasting peace after the end of World War I, however unsuccessful that effort later proved. Even Jimmy Carter won the Peace Prize in 2002 after more than two decades of humanitarian efforts as a former president. The Nobel Committee is said often to make its final decision at its last meeting just before the announcement. If so, President Obama has gotten a consolation prize for the failure of the U.S. to secure the 2016 Olympics. But that won't take away the sense that his award has more to do with political correctness than the realities of peace. Reading the Nobel Committee's explanation of its decision, President Obama appears to have won this year's prize because he's not his predecessor, George W. Bush." --Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund

"It is absurd and it is embarrassing. It would even be infuriating if it were not such a declaration of emptiness. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has embarrassed itself and cheapened a great award that had real meaning. It was a good thing, the Nobel Peace Prize. Every year the giving of it was a matter of note throughout the world, almost a matter of state. It was serious. It mattered that it was given to a woman like Mother Teresa in 1979. ... Her life was heroic, epic, and when she was given the Nobel Peace Prize, it was as if the world were saying, 'You are the best we have. You are living a life that should be emulated.' ... Some Peace Prizes have been more roughly political, or had a political edge, and were of course debatable. ... It was always absurd that Ronald Reagan, whose political project led to the end of the gulag and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and who gambled his personal standing in the world for a system that would protect the common man from annihilation in a nuclear missile attack, could not win it. But nobody wept over it, and for one reason: because everyone, every sentient adult who cared to know about such things, knew that the Nobel Peace Prize is, when awarded to a political figure, a great and prestigious award given by liberals to liberals. NCNA -- no conservatives need apply. This is the way of the world, and so what? Life isn't for prizes. Yet even within that context, the giving of the peace prize to President Obama is absurd. He doesn't have a body of work; he's a young man; he's been president less than nine months. He hopes to accomplish much, and so far -- nine months! -- has accomplished little. Is this a life of heroic self-denial, of the sacrifice of self for something greater, of huge and historic consequence, of sustained vision? No it's not. Is this a life marked by a vivid and calculable contribution to the peace of the world? No, it's not. This is an award for not being George W. Bush. This is an award for not making the world nervous. This is an award for sharing the basic political sentiments and assumptions of the members of the committee. It is for what Barack Obama may do, not what he has done. He hasn't done anything. In one mindless stroke, the committee has rendered the Nobel Peace Prize a laughingstock." --columnist Peggy Noonan

Opinion in Brief
"The whole business of a bunch of Scandinavian worthies doling out the profits of a long-gone dynamite maker's fortune has always smacked of the worst sort of self-satisfied plutocratic worthiness. But this takes the biscuit. President Obama remains the barely man of world politics, barely a senator now barely a president, yet in the land of the Euro-weenies (copyright PJ O'Rourke) the great and the good remain in his thrall. To reward him for a blank results sheet, to inflate him when he has no achievements to his name, makes a mockery of what, let's face it, is an already fairly discredited process (remember Rigoberta Menchu in 1992? Ha!). That's not the point. What this does is accelerate the elevation of President Obama to a comedy confection, which he does not deserve, and gives his critics yet another bat to whack him with. Shame on the Norwegians." --London's Daily Telegraph chief political commentator Benedict Brogan

"After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." --French historian Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

"A pattern has emerged. Liberal citizens and politicians during the Bush years were permitted to speak out against the Iraq war, root for an American defeat, and cheer with the news of each dead American, and they were labeled patriots. An American speaks out against Obama's socialist policies and he is labeled anti-American. A liberal is able to chant anti-Bush slogans and compare him to Hitler and he is exercising his right to free speech. An American questions Obama's judgment both domestically and on the international stage and he is called a racist. I have attempted to point out to liberal friends and family that if they simply took the vast majority of offensive statements, policies, or actions of Obama over the past nine months and imagined them emanating from Bush, they would see the hypocrisy in their stance -- to no avail. They are content to sit back and watch this administration gut the Constitution, usurp power wherever it can find it, ignore the intent of the founders of this country and the successes of the free market economy which helped lead us to the position of the only world's superpower. But they will wake up in a few years to find that their children are not safe from harm's way, their grandchildren will be working off the enormous debt incurred by this government and will never achieve the economic success of their grandparents, and when they need medical care, they will be waiting in line like the Europeans and Canadians who used to turn to the US in times of emergency. Yet they will have their civil rights, for as long as Bush is not the one authorizing the wiretapping of their cell phones, all is good. Another bottle of champagne anyone?" --columnist Lauri Regan

Re: The Left
"[Liberals lie that] America's lower life expectancy compared to countries with socialist health care proves that their medical systems are superior. President Obama has too much intellectual pride to make such a specious argument, so instead we have to keep hearing it from his half-wit supporters. These Democrats are all over the map on where precisely Americans place in the life-expectancy rankings. We're 24th, according to Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Barbara Boxer; 42nd, according to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; 35th, according to Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson; and 47th, according to Rep. Dennis Kucinich. So the U.S. may have less of a 'life expectancy' problem than a 'Democratic math competency' problem." --columnist Ann Coulter

The Gipper
"This democracy of ours which sometimes we've treated so lightly, is more than ever a comfortable cloak, so let us not tear it asunder, for no man knows once it is destroyed where or when he will find its protective warmth again." --Ronald Reagan

"The White House insists that the president is hard at work on what to do about Afghanistan, and whether to send more troops to fuel a 'surge' like the surge that prevented a collapse of the West's attempt to rescue Iraq from barbarism and restore a fragile semblance of civilization. The brave young Americans put in harm's way in that godforsaken corner of the world often feel abandoned in a hopeless cause, so the president should feel the pressure to act, and quickly. But the problem is 'multilayered,' his spokesman says. Translated into real English, that means 'he hasn't yet figured out which layer of public opinion to appease, and which layer to disappoint.' He'll do something as soon as he figures out which disappointed layer would squeak loudest and scream longest." --Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden

Click Here 

 New Navy cap is here!
Our newest Navy cap will be sure to please any sailor! Made from 100% brushed cotton twill, this quality blue cap features a raised navy emblem logo.

For the Record
"On March 27, flanked by his secretaries of defense and state, the president said this: 'Today I'm announcing a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.' He then outlined a civilian-military counterinsurgency campaign to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. ... The general in charge was then relieved and replaced with Obama's own choice, Stanley McChrystal. And it's McChrystal who submitted the request for the 40,000 troops, a request upon which the commander in chief promptly gagged. The White House began leaking an alternate strategy, apparently proposed (invented?) by Vice President Biden, for achieving immaculate victory with arm's-length use of cruise missiles, Predator drones and special ops. The irony is that no one knows more about this kind of warfare than Gen. McChrystal. He was in charge of exactly this kind of 'counterterrorism' in Iraq for nearly five years, killing thousands of bad guys in hugely successful under-the-radar operations. When the world's expert on this type of counterterrorism warfare recommends precisely the opposite strategy -- 'counterinsurgency,' meaning a heavy-footprint, population-protecting troop surge -- you have the most convincing of cases against counterterrorism by the man who most knows its potential and its limits. And McChrystal was emphatic in his recommendation: To go any other way than counterinsurgency would lose the war. Yet his commander in chief, young Hamlet, frets, demurs, agonizes. His domestic advisers, led by Rahm Emanuel, tell him if he goes for victory, he'll become LBJ, the domestic visionary destroyed by a foreign war. His vice president holds out the chimera of painless counterterrorism success. Against Emanuel and Biden stand Gen. David Petraeus, the world's foremost expert on counterinsurgency (he saved Iraq with it), and Stanley McChrystal, the world's foremost expert on counterterrorism. Whose recommendation on how to fight would you rely on?" --columnist Charles Krauthammer

23642  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pravda on the Hudson: on: October 22, 2009, 07:12:24 AM

Iran Deal Would Slow Making of Nuclear Bombs Sign in to Recommend
Published: October 21, 2009
VIENNA — Iranian negotiators have agreed to a draft deal that would delay the country’s ability to build a nuclear weapon for about a year, buying more time for President Obama to search for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.

Under the tentative accord hammered out in international talks here, Iran agreed to ship about three-quarters of its known stockpile of nuclear fuel to Russia for conversion into a form it could use only in a peaceful nuclear reactor, participants in the negotiations said Wednesday. But the arrangement would still have to be approved by Friday in Tehran and Washington.

If Tehran’s divided leadership agrees to the accord, which Iran’s negotiators indicated was not assured, it will remove enough nuclear fuel from Iran to delay any work on a nuclear weapon until the country can replenish its stockpile of fuel, estimated to require about one year. As such, it would buy more time for Mr. Obama to try to negotiate a more comprehensive and more difficult agreement to end Iran’s production of new nuclear material.

Obama administration officials expressed cautious optimism that the agreement could increase the chances of striking a broader diplomatic accord and put off any decision about whether to address the Iranian nuclear threat by other means, including military action. In particular, the United States is seeking to convince Israel that negotiations have reduced the risk that Iran could throw out nuclear inspectors and quickly turn its reactor fuel into bomb fuel.

“There’s a part of this that’s about getting our diplomacy with Iran started, and a part that’s about convincing the Israelis that there’s no reason to drop hints that they are going to reach for a military solution,” one senior administration official said from Washington.

The Friday deadline for Iran to respond also poses a major test for its embattled leadership, one that is “intended to explore the proposition of whether Iran really wants to negotiate its way out of this problem,” in the words of one White House official.

“We want it to make it clear we’ve made bona fide offers to the Iranians,” the official said.

The agreement was conceived as a test of Iran’s intentions. Iran claims that it needs the uranium fuel it has produced — in violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions — for peaceful purposes, citing, among other uses, the Tehran Research Reactor, which makes medical isotopes. Iran said it needed to further enrich 2,600 pounds of uranium, which amounts to three-quarters of its claimed stockpile of the fuel, for that purpose.

Under the draft agreement, Iran would ship that fuel to Russia for further enrichment, and Russia would return it to Iran in the form of metal fuel rods. Those could be used in a reactor but not a nuclear weapon. The deal would take away enough of Iran’s existing stockpile of uranium to make it difficult to produce a nuclear weapon until it has time to produce more raw fuel.

Some White House officials argue that the Bush administration, by refusing to talk to Iran, never forced its leadership to make such a choice. If Iran rejects the accord, administration officials believe, that could make it easier to get Security Council approval for harsher financial sanctions, a step that Russia and China have steadfastly resisted so far.

The same theory applies to Iran’s behavior on Sunday, when a team of atomic energy agency inspectors is to arrive for a first look at a newly revealed nuclear enrichment plant buried deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qum. Inspectors have already asked Iran for far more than just a visit. They say they want engineering drawings, permission to interview scientists and others involved in planning the long-hidden nuclear site, and explanations about whether there are other hidden plants to feed the one at Qum with nuclear material. So far the Iranians have not responded.

Even if approved, the deal will represent only one small step toward resolving what has become one of the most complex foreign policy challenges facing Mr. Obama and the Middle East. Because Iran continues to produce nuclear fuel at a rapid clip, this accord would be only a temporary fix, though a symbolically important one.

American officials, including the head of the negotiating delegation here, Daniel B. Poneman, dodged reporters on Wednesday and declined to discuss the contents of the agreement drafted by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. He set the deadline of Friday for all sides “to give, I hope, affirmative action” to the accord, which he said was “a balanced agreement.”

Dr. ElBaradei, who is leaving his job at the end of next month, said he hoped that leaders in the West and in Tehran would “see the big picture” and approve the agreement. But his voice was tinged with doubt.

While the amount of uranium that would be exported is significant, a critical part of the agreement is the timing of the shipments. Mr. Poneman, the deputy secretary of energy, and other American officials have so far refused to discuss such issues.

“We are not going to get into the details,” said Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

The energy agency’s experts said Iran would have too little fuel on hand to build a nuclear weapon for roughly a year after a shipment to Russia. But if the 2,600 pounds of fuel was shipped out of Iran in small batches instead of all at once, the experts warn, Iran would be able to replace it with new fuel almost as quickly as it leaves the country.

Also of concern is the possibility that Iran might have more nuclear fuel in its stockpile than it is letting on. The agency’s estimate that it has 3,500 pounds of low-enriched uranium “assumes that Iran has accurately declared how much fuel it possesses, and does not have a secret supply,” as one senior European diplomat put it on the sidelines of negotiations in Vienna.

Ultimately, Mr. Obama would have to get Iran to agree to give up the enrichment process as well. Otherwise, the fuel taken out of circulation in the draft accord would soon be replaced.

It was not immediately clear why a draft agreement could not be declared final. But it appeared that the Iranian delegation lacked that authority as it navigated an Iranian leadership that is clearly divided on the question of whether, and how quickly, to pursue the nuclear program.
23643  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: October 21, 2009, 10:43:07 PM
Indications of anti-Jewish tendencies by Buchanan go well beyond his thoughts on US-Israeli policy. 
23644  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm): The Running Dog Game on: October 21, 2009, 09:22:47 PM
Well, by all means consider hosting a seminar smiley but one of the points of the Camp is that I don't have to travel  grin

"The recent Ultimate Fighter fight Episode has Justin Wren using the 'running dog' to get out of Wes Sims' guard and get an arm-in choke for a win."

Is there a clip of this somewhere?
23645  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WTF? on: October 21, 2009, 04:49:23 PM
U.N. Report Demands Repeal of Counterterrorism Laws to Promote 'Gender Equality'


In case you weren't sure, human gender is "changeable over time and contexts," sex slaves must not be "stigmatized" for their work, and it's important to recognize the role of "transgender and intersex individuals as stakeholders" in counterterrorism policy.

Those are some of the conclusions of a United Nations report on counterterrorism that is intended to promote human rights — but that critics say is designed to redefine gender and hamstring actual counterterror efforts.

Martin Scheinin, a special rapporteur for the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, filed his report in August after six months of studying the "complex relationship between gender equality and countering terrorism."

Scheinin recommends a radical reworking of counterterrorism policies, insisting that the U.N.'s member nations "abandon the 'war paradigm'" and "enshrine the principles of gender-equality and non-discrimination in the design and implementation of all counter-terrorism measures."

Among his proposals:

• "Repeal all counter-terrorism measures" that sanction the ill-treatment of women and children as a way to put pressure on terror suspects within their families.

• Loosen terror financing laws to ensure "safe and effective channels for funding ... of organizations devoted to gender equality"

• "Repeal restrictive immigration controls" that violate human rights by "unduly penalizing transgender persons whose personal appearance and data are subject to change" as their "self-defined gender identity" changes.

Critics say the suggestions are part of an "absolutely insane" agenda at the U.N. that too often seems intent on undermining efforts to blot out terrorism across the globe.

"I would be surprised and disturbed if the U.S. took any of these recommendations seriously," said Steven Groves, a fellow and international law expert at the Heritage Foundation.

"It seems an inescapable conclusion that their desire is to greatly weaken any effective counterterrorism measure that is made by the U.S. or its allies."

The report criticized enhanced security checks "that focus attention on male bombers who may be dressing as females to avoid scrutiny [and] make transgender persons" — who might also be crossdressing — "susceptible to increased harassment and suspicion."

"Once you put them into a form of an overall policy what you do is undermine the nature of counterterrorism," said Herb London, president of the Hudson Institute. "You're trying to thwart the ability of those to counter terrorist activity."

Scheinin is set to present his findings Monday morning to the U.N.'s 3rd Committee, which helps set policy on social and cultural issues and oversees the Human Rights Council for the world body.

The Finnish law professor has been a special rapporteur since 2005. This year he visited Egypt as part of his mandate for the 47-member Council, and criticized countries like Somalia and Pakistan for selling out women's rights to arrange a tenuous peace with Islamic militants.

Legal experts said it was important to consider the effects of security measures on human rights, including the question of gender.

"It does not strike me as ridiculous ... to look at policies through the lens of gender," said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Wittes noted that gender issues — including the Taliban's vicious treatment of women — have made it virtually impossible for Western nations and Pakistan to have normal relations with the Taliban.

"That's not an inconsiderable criticism — it's a valid criticism," he said. But Wittes added that to place "gender rights at the center of (counterterrorism policy) is kind of an absurd proposition" that he said made the report ridiculous.

Schienen did not return requests for comment.

Past reports from the special rapporteur have focused on many issues relating to women — including the challenges faced by pregnant Palestinians trying to cross border checkpoints and the effects of counterterror measures on Chechnyan women.

But U.N. watchers say the new report is a confused amalgamation of important issues like women's rights and tangential ones that have very little real application, including Scheinin's demand that invasions like the U.S.'s "war on terror" in Afghanistan be "actually responsive to the concerns of women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals in local contexts."

London, of the Hudson Institute, said that it was hopeless to look for moral guidance from a body composed of some of the world's most brutal and repressive regimes, including Saudi Arabia and China.

"The Human Rights Council and the nations that are represented on it, they're clearly involved in human rights violations," London told "They're going to be the arbiters of human rights?"

The Third Committee will hear reports from a number of its 36 special rapporteurs and pass on some of their recommendations to the General Assembly.

The committee hearings do not provide the force of law for Schienen's proposals, but some critics of the report say it represents a "stealth effort" to change international law and the meaning of gender by fiat.

"There might have been value in a report that addressed how counterterrorism efforts interact with the rights of women," said Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.

"But by burdening this report with these extreme forms of social engineering, it makes the report kind of laughable."

23646  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm): The Running Dog Game on: October 21, 2009, 04:44:37 PM
Alright folks, lets start taking a look at this.  We already have some interest from within the DBMAA but lets start counting heads here and sizing up dates.  IIRC we are thinking of February.
23647  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: CINC AWOL on: October 21, 2009, 10:16:42 AM
"The United States cannot wait for problems surrounding the legitimacy of the Afghan government to be resolved before making a decision on troops, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said," Reuters reports from aboard a U.S. military aircraft:

Gates did not say when he expected U.S. President Barack Obama to decide on whether to increase troops, a decision complicated by rising casualties and fading public support for the stalled, eight-year-old war.
But he pointed out that further high-level deliberations would need to wait for the return of cabinet members from foreign travels through part of next week.
"It's just a matter now of getting the time with the president when we can sort through these options and then tee them up for him to make a decision," Gates said.
But Agence France-Presse reports the president hasn't yet chosen whether to choose not to decide:

President Barack Obama has not yet determined whether he will make a decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan before the November 7 election runoff, a US official said Tuesday.
"The UN, NATO, the US stand ready to assist the Afghans in conducting the second round," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.
"Whether or not the president makes a decision before that I don't think has been determined.
"I have continued to say a decision will be made in the coming weeks as the president goes through an examination of our policy," he added.
It really bolsters your confidence in the president's ability to achieve victory in what he used to call a war of necessity, doesn't it?

James Taranto on Obama's Afghan dither.
.But we suppose it's easy to sit on the sidelines and snark. Barack Obama is president of the United States, and he is juggling all kinds of urgent responsibilities. Such as this one, reported by the New York Times:

Mr. Obama will fly to New York on Tuesday for a lavish Democratic Party fund-raising dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for about 200 big donors. Each donor is paying the legal maximum of $30,400 and is allowed to take a date.
And hey, if you don't like it, grab a damn mop! As Obama said just last week at . . . uh, another lavish Democratic Party fund-raiser.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports from Washington that "frustrations and anxiety are on the rise within the military" as the president dithers over Afghanistan:

A retired general who served in Iraq said that the military had listened, "perhaps naïvely," to Mr. Obama's campaign promises that the Afghan war was critical. "What's changed, and are we having the rug pulled out from under us?" he asked. Like many of those interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from the military's civilian leadership and the White House.
Shouldn't it be the enemy that fears reprisals?

During the presidential campaign, Obama's opponents mocked him for frequently voting "present" on difficult questions that came before the Illinois Senate. This is even worse. The commander in chief is absent without leave.
23648  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mortage Mod Program "HAMP" on: October 21, 2009, 10:12:00 AM
Mortgage Mod Program Causing Havoc on Citi Delinquencies
Posted by JJ Hornblass on October 20, 2009 at 9:30am
View JJ Hornblass's blog
The home mortgage modification program espoused by President Obama and affectionately called HAMP is wreaking havoc on loss mitigation at banks. The most glaring example: Citigroup.

Citigroup officials have effectively acknowledged that an outsider cannot get a sense for the bank's mortgage performance because it has so many loan modifications in the works. Citi's 90-to-179-day delinquency bucket is growing in size because of all the loan mods underway, yet the bank said it does not know what the results of these modifications will be. Citi's CFO:

Under HAMP, borrowers make reduced mortgage payments for a trial period, during which they continue to age through our delinquency buckets even if they are current under the new payment terms. This serves to increase our delinquencies. Virtually all of the increase in the 90 to 179 bucket and half of the increase in the 180 plus day bucket are loans in HAMP trial modifications. The rest of the increase in the 180 plus day bucket is attributable to a backlog of foreclosure inventory driven by a slowdown in the foreclosure process in many states. ... The HAMP program right now has got a rather significant impact on our delinquency statistics and really makes it difficult for anyone from the outside to actually have a good view as to the inherent credit profile in our delinquency buckets.

Here's a look at the current state of Citi's mortgage portfolio:

The HAMP dynamic is repeating itself at banks nationwide. BB&T Corp., a Top 20 bank in the US, also said yesterday that loan modifications were skewing its credit-performance metrics.

The upshot of all this is that modifications -- as opposed to collections or foreclosure -- injects a big question mark into mortgage performance and returns. Even beyond the immediate loss allocations for holders of mortgages, subsequent buyers of mortgage paper that has been modified must confront the fact that even the post-charged-off performance of the loans may not perform as expected. HAMP has thrown a big question mark into the mortgage market, and I expect that the collection industry is going to have to figure it out -- eventually.
23649  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / part two on: October 21, 2009, 08:34:57 AM
Obviously, if McChrystal drives the Taliban out of secured areas and into uninhabited areas, the United States will have a tremendous opportunity to engage in strategic bombardment both against Taliban militants themselves and against supply lines no longer plugged into populated areas. But this assumes that the Taliban would not reduce its operations from company-level and higher assaults down to guerrilla-level operations in response to being driven out of population centers. If the Taliban did make such a reduction, it would become indistinguishable from the population. This would allow it to engage in attritional warfare against coalition forces and against the protected population to demonstrate that coalition forces can’t protect them. The Taliban already has demonstrated the ability to thrive in both populated and rural areas of Afghanistan, where the terrain favors the insurgent far more than the counterinsurgent.

The strategy of training Afghan soldiers and police to take up the battle and persuading insurgents to change sides faces several realities. The Taliban has an excellent intelligence service built up during the period of its rule and afterward, allowing it to populate the new security forces with its agents and loyalists. And while persuading insurgents to change sides certainly can happen, whether it can happen to the extent of leaving the Taliban materially weakened remains in doubt. In Iraq, this happened not because of individual changes, but because regional ethnic leadership — with their own excellent intelligence capabilities — changed sides and drove out opposing factions. Individual defections were frequently liquidated.

But Taliban leaders have not shown any inclination for changing sides. They do not believe the United States is in Afghanistan to stay. Getting individual Taliban militants to change sides creates an intelligence-security battle. But McChrystal is betting that his forces will form bonds with the local population so deep that the locals will provide intelligence against Taliban forces operating in the region. The coalition must thus demonstrate that the risks of defection are dwarfed by the advantages. To do this, the coalition security and counterintelligence must consistently and effectively block the Taliban’s ability to identify, locate and liquidate defectors. If McChrystal cannot do that, large-scale defection will be impossible, because well before such defection becomes large scale, the first defectors will be dead, as will anyone seen by the Taliban as a collaborator.

Ultimately, the entire strategy depends on how you read Iraq. In Iraq, a political decision was made by an intact Sunni leadership able to enforce its will among its followers. Squeezed between the foreign jihadists who wanted to usurp their position and the Shia, provided with political and financial incentives, and possessing their own forces able to provide a degree of security themselves, the Sunni leadership came to the see the Americans as the lesser evil. They controlled a critical mass, and they shifted. McChrystal has made it clear that the defections he expects are not a Taliban faction whose leadership decides to shift, but Taliban soldiers as individuals or small groups. That isn’t ultimately what turned the Iraq war but something very different — and quite elusive in counterinsurgency. He is looking for retail defections to turn into a strategic event.

Moreover, it seems much too early to speak of the successful strategy in Iraq. First, there is increasing intracommunal violence in anticipation of coming elections early next year. Second, some 120,000 U.S. forces remain in Iraq to guarantee the political and security agreements of 2007-2008, and it is far from clear what would happen if those troops left. Finally, where in Afghanistan there is the Pakistan question, in Iraq there remains the Iran question. Instability thus becomes a cross-border issue beyond the scope of existing forces.

The Pakistan situation is particularly problematic. If the strategic objective of the war in Afghanistan is to cut the legs out from under al Qaeda and deny these foreign jihadists sanctuary, then what of the sanctuaries in Pakistan’s tribal belt where high-value al Qaeda targets are believed to be located? Pakistan is fighting its share of jihadists according to its own rules; the United States cannot realistically expect Islamabad to fulfill its end of the bargain in containing al Qaeda. The primary U.S. targets in this war are on the wrong side of the border, and in areas where U.S. forces are not free to operate. The American interest in Afghanistan is to defeat al Qaeda and prevent the emergence of follow-on jihadist forces. The problem is that regardless of how secure Afghanistan is, jihadist forces can (to varying degrees) train and plan in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia — or even Cleveland for that matter. Securing Afghanistan is thus not necessarily a precondition for defeating al Qaeda.

Iraq is used as the argument in favor of the new strategy in Afghanistan. What happened in Iraq was that a situation that was completely out of hand became substantially less unstable because of a set of political accommodations initially rejected by the Americans and the Sunnis from 2003-2006. Once accepted, a disastrous situation became an unstable situation with many unknowns still in place.

If the goal of Afghanistan is to forge the kind of tenuous political accords that govern Iraq, the factional conflicts that tore Iraq apart are needed. Afghanistan certainly has factional conflicts, but the Taliban, the main adversary, does not seem to be torn by them. It is possible that under sufficient pressure such splits might occur, but the Taliban has been a cohesive force for a generation. When it has experienced divisions, it hasn’t split decisively.

On the other hand, it is not clear that Western forces in Afghanistan can sustain long-term infantry conflict in which the offensive is deliberately ceded to a capable enemy and where airpower’s use is severely circumscribed to avoid civilian casualties, overturning half a century of military doctrine of combined arms operations.

The Bigger Picture

The best argument for fighting in Afghanistan is powerful and similar to the one for fighting in Iraq: credibility. The abandonment of either country will create a powerful tool in the Islamic world for jihadists to argue that the United States is a weak power. Withdrawal from either place without a degree of political success could destabilize other regimes that cooperate with the United States. Given that, staying in either country has little to do with strategy and everything to do with the perception of simply being there.

The best argument against fighting in either country is equally persuasive. The jihadists are right: The United States has neither the interest nor forces for long-term engagements in these countries. American interests go far beyond the Islamic world, and there are many present (to say nothing of future) threats from outside the region that require forces. Overcommitment in any one area of interest at the expense of others could be even more disastrous than the consequences of withdrawal.

In our view, Obama’s decision depends not on choosing between McChrystal’s strategy and others, but on a careful consideration of how to manage the consequences of withdrawal. An excellent case can be made that now is not the time to leave Afghanistan, and we expect Obama to be influenced by that thinking far more than by the details of McChrystal’s strategy. As McChrystal himself points out, there are many unknowns and many risks in his own strategy; he is guaranteeing nothing.

Reducing American national strategy to the Islamic world, or worse, Afghanistan, is the greater threat. Nations find their balance, and the heavy pressures on Obama in this decision basically represent those impersonal forces battering him. The question he must ask himself is simple: In what way is the future of Afghanistan of importance to the United States? The answer that securing it will hobble al Qaeda is simply wrong. U.S. Afghan policy will not stop a global terrorist organization; terrorists will just go elsewhere. The answer that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is important in shaping the Islamic world’s sense of American power is better, but even that must be taken in context of other global interests.

Obama does not want this to be his war. He does not want to be remembered for Afghanistan the way George W. Bush is remembered for Iraq or Lyndon Johnson is for Vietnam. Right now, we suspect Obama plans to demonstrate commitment, and to disengage at a more politically opportune time. Johnson and Bush showed that disengagement after commitment is nice in theory. For our part, we do not think there is an effective strategy for winning in Afghanistan, but that McChrystal has proposed a good one for “hold until relieved.” We suspect that Obama will hold to show that he gave the strategy a chance, but that the decision to leave won’t be too far off.
23650  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Serious thought piece on: October 21, 2009, 08:33:33 AM
The Afghanistan challenge
Expecting infantry to bring victory is a radical departure from US fighting doctrine since World War II.
The decision over whether to send more U.S. troops into Afghanistan may wait until the contested Afghan election is resolved, U.S. officials said Oct. 18. The announcement comes as U.S. President Barack Obama is approaching a decision on the war in Afghanistan. During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, Obama argued that Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time, but Afghanistan was a necessary war. His reasoning went that the threat to the United States came from al Qaeda, Afghanistan had been al Qaeda’s sanctuary, and if the United States were to abandon Afghanistan, al Qaeda would re-establish itself and once again threaten the U.S. homeland. Withdrawal from Afghanistan would hence be dangerous, and prosecution of the war was therefore necessary.

After Obama took office, it became necessary to define a war-fighting strategy in Afghanistan. The most likely model was based on the one used in Iraq by Gen. David Petraeus, now head of U.S. Central Command, whose area of responsibility covers both Afghanistan and Iraq. Paradoxically, the tactical and strategic framework for fighting the so-called “right war” derived from U.S. military successes in executing the so-called “wrong war.” But grand strategy, or selecting the right wars to fight, and war strategy, or how to fight the right wars, are not necessarily linked.

Afghanistan, Iraq and the McChrystal Plan

Making sense of the arguments over Afghanistan requires an understanding of how the Iraq war is read by the strategists fighting it, since a great deal of proposed Afghan strategy involves transferring lessons learned from Iraq. Those strategists see the Iraq war as having had three phases. The first was the short conventional war that saw the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s military. The second was the period from 2003-2006 during which the United States faced a Sunni insurgency and resistance from the Shiite population, as well as a civil war between those two communities. During this phase, the United States sought to destroy the insurgency primarily by military means while simultaneously working to scrape a national unity government together and hold elections. The third phase, which began in late 2006, was primarily a political phase. It consisted of enticing Iraqi Sunni leaders to desert the foreign jihadists in Iraq, splitting the Shiite community among its various factions, and reaching political — and financial — accommodations among the various factions. Military operations focused on supporting political processes, such as pressuring recalcitrant factions and protecting those who aligned with the United States. The troop increase — aka the surge — was designed to facilitate this strategy. Even more, it was meant to convince Iraqi factions (not to mention Iran) that the United States was not going to pull out of Iraq, and that therefore a continuing American presence would back up guarantees made to Iraqis.

It is important to understand this last bit and its effect on Afghanistan. As in Iraq, the idea that the United States will not abandon local allies by withdrawing until Afghan security forces could guarantee the allies’ security lies at the heart of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. The premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, e.g., before local allies’ security could be guaranteed, would undermine U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. To a great extent, the process of U.S. security guarantees in Afghanistan depends on the credibility of those guarantees: Withdrawal from Iraq followed by retribution against U.S. allies in Iraq would undermine the core of the Afghan strategy.

U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy in Afghanistan ultimately is built around the principle that the United States and its NATO allies are capable of protecting Afghans prepared to cooperate with Western forces. This explains why the heart of McChrystal’s strategy involves putting U.S. troops as close to the Afghan people as possible. Doing so will entail closing many smaller bases in remote valleys — like the isolated outpost recently attacked in Nuristan province — and opening bases in more densely populated areas.

McChrystal’s strategy therefore has three basic phases. In phase one, his forces would fight their way into regions where a large portion of the population lives and where the Taliban currently operates, namely Kabul, Khost, Helmand and Kandahar provinces. The United States would assume a strategic defensive posture in these populated areas. Because these areas are essential to the Taliban, phase two would see a Taliban counterattack in a bid to drive McChrystal’s forces out, or at least to demonstrate that the U.S. forces cannot provide security for the local population. Paralleling the first two phases, phase three would see McChrystal using his military successes to forge alliances with indigenous leaders and their followers.

It should be noted that while McChrystal’s traditional counterinsurgency strategy would be employed in populated areas, U.S. forces would also rely on traditional counterterrorism tactics in more remote areas where the Taliban have a heavy presence and can be pursued through drone strikes. The hope is that down the road, the strategy would allow the United States to use its military successes to fracture the Taliban, thereby encouraging defections and facilitating political reconciliation with Taliban elements driven more by political power than ideology.

There is a fundamental difference between Iraq and Afghanistan, however. In Iraq, resistance forces rarely operated in sufficient concentrations to block access to the population. By contrast, the Taliban on several occasions have struck with concentrations of forces numbering in the hundreds, essentially at company-size strength. If Iraq was a level one conflict, with irregular forces generally refusing conventional engagement with coalition forces, Afghanistan is beginning to bridge the gap from a level one to a level two conflict, with the Taliban holding territory with forces both able to provide conventional resistance and to mount some offensives at the company level (and perhaps at the battalion level in the future). This means that occupying, securing and defending areas such that the inhabitants see the coalition forces as defenders rather than as magnets for conflict is the key challenge.

Adding to the challenge, elements of McChrystal’s strategy are in tension. First, local inhabitants will experience multilevel conflict as coalition forces move into a given region. Second, McChrystal is hoping that the Taliban goes on the offensive in response. And this means that the first and second steps will collide with the third, which is demonstrating to locals that the presence of coalition forces makes them more secure as conflict increases (which McChrystal acknowledges will happen). To convince locals that Western forces enhance their security, the coalition will thus have to be stunningly successful both at defeating Taliban defenders when they first move in and in repulsing subsequent Taliban attacks.

In its conflict with the Taliban, the coalition’s main advantage is firepower, both in terms of artillery and airpower. The Taliban must concentrate its forces to attack the coalition; to counter such attacks, the weapons of choice are airstrikes and artillery. The problem with both of these weapons is first, a certain degree of inaccuracy is built into their use, and second, the attackers will be moving through population centers (the area held by both sides is important precisely because it has population). This means that air- and ground-fire missions, both important in a defensive strategy, run counter to the doctrine of protecting population.

McChrystal is fully aware of this dilemma, and he has therefore changed the rules of engagement to sharply curtail airstrikes in areas of concentrated population, even in areas where U.S. troops are in danger of being overrun. As McChrystal said in a recent interview, these rules of engagement will hold “Even if it means we are going to step away from a firefight and fight them another day.”

This strategy poses two main challenges. First, it shifts the burden of the fighting onto U.S. infantry forces. Second, by declining combat in populated areas, the strategy runs the risk of making the populated areas where political arrangements might already be in place more vulnerable. In avoiding air and missile strikes, McChrystal avoids alienating the population through civilian casualties. But by declining combat, McChrystal risks alienating populations subject to Taliban offensives. Simply put, while airstrikes can devastate a civilian population, avoiding airstrikes could also devastate Western efforts, as local populations could see declining combat as a betrayal. McChrystal is thus stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place on this one.

One of his efforts at a solution has been to ask for more troops. The point of these troops is not to occupy Afghanistan and impose a new reality through military force, which is impossible (especially given the limited number of troops the United States is willing to dedicate to the problem). Instead, it is to provide infantry forces not only to hold larger areas, but to serve as reinforcements during Taliban attacks so the use of airpower can be avoided. Putting the onus of this counterinsurgency on the infantry, and having the infantry operate without airpower, is a radical departure from U.S. fighting doctrine since World War II.

Seismic Shift in War Doctrine

Geopolitically, the United States fights at the end of a long supply line. Moreover, U.S. forces operate at a demographic disadvantage. Once in Eurasia, U.S. forces are always outnumbered. Infantry-on-infantry warfare is attritional, and the United States runs out of troops before the other side does. Infantry warfare does not provide the United States any advantage, and in fact, it places the United States at a disadvantage. Opponents of the United States thus have larger numbers of fighters; greater familiarity and acclimation to the terrain; and typically, better intelligence from countrymen behind U.S. lines. The U.S. counter always has been force multipliers — normally artillery and airpower — capable of destroying enemy concentrations before they close with U.S. troops. McChrystal’s strategy, if applied rigorously, shifts doctrine toward infantry-on-infantry combat. His plan assumes that superior U.S. training will be the force multiplier in Afghanistan (as it may). But that assumes that the Taliban, a light infantry force with numerous battle-hardened formations optimized for fighting in Afghanistan, is an inferior infantry force. And it assumes that U.S. infantry fighting larger concentrations of Taliban forces will consistently defeat them.
Pages: 1 ... 471 472 [473] 474 475 ... 701
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!