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23651  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: This could be awkward , , , on: September 02, 2011, 10:56:40 AM

Note that the piece is written by Pravda on the Hudson, so caveat lector.  That said, ironies abound , , ,
----------
TRIPOLI, Libya — Abdel Hakim Belhaj had a wry smile about the oddity of his situation.

 
Yes, he said, he was detained by Malaysian officials in 2004 on arrival at the Kuala Lumpur airport, where he was subjected to extraordinary rendition on behalf of the United States, and sent to Thailand. His pregnant wife, traveling with him, was taken away, and his child would be 6 before he saw him.
In Bangkok, Mr. Belhaj said, he was tortured for a few days by two people he said were C.I.A. agents, and then, worse, they repatriated him to Libya, where he was thrown into solitary confinement for six years, three of them without a shower, one without a glimpse of the sun.

Now this man is in charge of the military committee responsible for keeping order in Tripoli, and, he says, is a grateful ally of the United States and NATO.

And while Mr. Belhaj concedes that he was the emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was deemed by the United States to be a terrorist group allied with Al Qaeda, he says he has no Islamic agenda. He says he will disband the fighters under his command, merging them into the formal military or police, once the Libyan revolution is over.

He says there are no hard feelings over his past treatment by the United States.

“Definitely it was very hard, very difficult,” he said. “Now we are in Libya, and we want to look forward to a peaceful future. I do not want revenge.”

As the United States and other Western powers embrace and help finance the new government taking shape in Libya, they could face a particularly awkward relationship with Islamists like Mr. Belhaj. Once considered enemies in the war on terror, they suddenly have been thrust into positions of authority — with American and NATO blessing.

In Washington, the Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment on Mr. Belhaj or his new role. A State Department official said the Obama administration was aware of Islamist backgrounds among the rebel fighters in Libya and had expressed concern to the Transitional National Council, the new rebel government, and that it had received assurances.

“The last few months, we’ve had the T.N.C. saying all the right things, and making the right moves,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s delicacy.

Mr. Belhaj, 45, a short and serious man with a close-cropped beard, burst onto the scene in the mountains west of Tripoli only in the last few weeks before the fall of the capital, as the leader of a brigade of rebel fighters.

“He wasn’t even in the military council in the western mountains,” said Othman Ben Sassi, a member of the Transitional National Council from Zuwarah in the west. “He was nothing, nothing. He arrived at the last moment, organized some people but was not responsible for the military council in the mountains.”

Then came the push on Tripoli, which fell with unexpected speed, and Mr. Belhaj and his fighters focused on the fortified Bab al-Aziziya compound of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, where they distinguished themselves as relatively disciplined fighters.

A veteran of the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets, Mr. Belhaj has what most rebel fighters have lacked — actual military experience. Yet he has still not adopted a military rank (unlike many rebels who quickly became self-appointed colonels and generals), which he said should go only to members of the army.

Dressed in new military fatigues, with a pistol strapped backward to his belt, Mr. Belhaj was interviewed at his offices in the Mitiga Military Airbase in Tripoli, the site of what had been the United States Air Force’s Wheelus Air Base until 1970.

Last weekend, Mr. Belhaj was voted commander of the Tripoli Military Council, a grouping of several brigades of rebels involved in taking the capital, by the other brigades, a move that aroused some criticism among liberal members of the council.

However, his appointment was strongly supported by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the chairman of the council, who said that as Colonel Qaddafi’s former minister of justice he got to know Mr. Belhaj well during negotiations leading to his release from prison in 2010. Mr. Belhaj and other Islamist radicals made a historic compromise with the Qaddafi government, one that was brokered by Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, the Qaddafi son seen then as a moderating influence.

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

Page 2 of 2)



The Islamists agreed to disband the Islamic Fighting Group, replacing it with the Libyan Islamic Movement for Change, and renounced violent struggle. “We kept that promise,” Mr. Belhaj said. “The revolution started peacefully, but the regime’s crackdown forced it to become violent.”

M

Mr. Belhaj conceded that Islamists had no role in creating the revolution against Colonel Qaddafi’s rule; it was instead a popular uprising. “The February 17th revolution is the Libyan people’s revolution and no one can claim it, neither secularists nor Islamists,” he said. “The Libyan people have different views, and all those views have to be involved and respected.”
Forty-two years of Qaddafi rule in Libya had, he said, taught him an important lesson: “No one can make Libya suffer any more under any one ideology or any one regime.” His pledge to disband fighters under his command once Libya has a new government was repeated to NATO officials at a meeting in Qatar this week.

Some council members said privately that allowing Mr. Belhaj to become chairman of the military council in Tripoli was done partly to take advantage of his military expertise, but also to make sure the rebels’ political leaders had him under their direct control.

Many also say that Mr. Belhaj’s history as an Islamist is understandable because until this year, Islamist groups were the only ones able to struggle against Colonel Qaddafi’s particularly repressive rule.

After Mr. Belhaj and a small group of Libyan comrades returned from the jihad against the Soviets, they formed the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and had a secret base in the Green Mountain area of eastern Libya, until it was discovered and bombed, and many of its followers rounded up.

Mr. Belhaj escaped Libya in the late 1990s and, like many antigovernment exiles, was forced to move frequently as Libya used its oil resources as a way to pressure host countries.

“We focused on Libya and Libya only,” he said. “Our goal was to help our people. We didn’t participate in or support any action outside of Libya. We never had any link with Al Qaeda, and that could never be. We had a different agenda; global fighting was not our goal.”

He said that America’s reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks led to his group’s classification as terrorist.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the rapprochement between Libya and Western countries led to the apprehension of several anti-Qaddafi activists, who were returned to Libya by the United States.

While Mr. Belhaj insisted that he was not interested in revenge, it is not a period of his life that he has altogether forgotten. “If one day there is a legal way, I would like to see my torturers brought to court,” he said.
23652  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender, Gay, Lesbian on: September 02, 2011, 10:38:42 AM
I am.
23653  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Essential Question on: September 01, 2011, 10:54:53 PM

Alexander's Essay – September 1, 2011

The Essential Question in Any Political Debate

The most important inquiry conservatives must posit in every policy debate: "What does our Constitution authorize and mandate?"

"The Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all." --George Washington

The most vital debate of the 2012 political cycle, indeed the essential question in any political debate, is one that you will not hear much about unless you are represented by one of the authentic conservatives who have carried the banner of the Reagan Revolution into the 21st century, or you are represented by one of those much-maligned Tea Party "radicals."

One unifying characteristic of the old guard and the new breed of senators and representatives is that they insist upon establishing the Essential Liberty and Rule of Law precedents as prerequisites for any political policy debate.

Our Constitution, as written and ratified, stipulates in its preface that it is "ordained and established" by the People in order to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." To that end, it established a representative republic, not a popular democracy, which is to say it affirmed the primacy of Rule of Law over rule of men.

Our Founders understood that the Rule of Law enshrined in our Constitution was the fundamental guarantee to protecting and sustaining Liberty for their, and our, posterity. Consequently, they prescribed that all elected officials be bound by Sacred Oath to "support and defend" our Constitution.

For presidents, Article II, Section 1, specifies: "Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: 'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'"

Likewise Article VI, Clause 3 specifies: "The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution."

However, in the current political era, the vast majority of those elected to national office have abandoned their oaths in deference to political expediency and constituency. For this they should be duly prosecuted, one and all, for breach of oath and trust.

Are oaths binding? Post your opinion
Democrats deign to trace their party lineage to the father of classical libertarianism, Thomas Jefferson, yet they utterly reject questions about constitutional authority. So archaic do they believe such queries to be that when asked, they insist, in the words of Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, "Nobody questions that."

But if Liberty is to be sustained by ballots rather than bullets, every conservative candidate must base his or her campaign platform upon restoration of our authentic Constitution and wholly reject the so-called "living constitution upon which Democrats have constructed their socialist empire.

For much of our nation's history, election cycles have been filled with rancorous political debates. Like today, many of those debates were focused on personalities and motivated by power seekers. The consequence has been an incremental erosion of constitutional authority, particularly by the Judicial Branch, which has amended our Constitution by judicial diktat rather than by the legitimate method prescribed in Article V.

James Madison wrote, "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." However, the "gradual and silent" erosion has been punctuated with periodic landslides. Today, tyranny is hovering on the immediate horizon.

In the decades following our nation's founding, many of the great debates were centered on Liberty. The notions of containing the power of the central government and promoting individual freedom were fervently tested. But four major events in the years after 1850 altered the political debate and, tragically, increased the power of the central government far beyond its constitutional limits.

The first of those events was the War Between the States which cost 600,000 American lives and annulled the authority of our Constitution's mandate for Federalism. Unfortunately, today's "Republicans" tie their lineage to Abraham Lincoln, the man who engineered that frontal assault on states' rights.  (Sorry, not buying this one at all.  Slavery is not a right.  Period.)

The second major insult to Liberty came during the Great Depression, when Franklin Roosevelt and his "useful idiots" used the fear generated by economic crisis to implement his "New Deal," an explosive expansion of central government power that came at enormous offense to the authority of our Constitution.

The third colossal affront to our Constitution occurred under another Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, who implemented his "Great Society" programs in response to fears about social and economic inequality.

The fourth and final nail in the coffin of American Liberty is being hammered in by Barack Hussein Obama and his Leftist cadres. They are determined to replace our republican government with European-style Democratic Socialism, and they have made significant strides toward that terrible goal.

The only way to re-establish the primacy of Rule of Law over rule of men and reinstate limits upon our government and its controllers is to restore the authority of our Constitution. Only then will we ensure that Liberty prevails over tyranny.

Does constitutional authority matter? Post your comments
That authority was, and remains, clearly defined by our Founders who, though they might have differed modestly on the question of constitutional interpretation, universally agreed with George Washington: "The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all."

Washington also wrote, "Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the supineness or venality of their constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to show, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other."

What did other Founders write about Rule of Law and the authority of our Constitution?


James Madison: "I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. ... If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions."

Thomas Jefferson: "Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. ... To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. ... The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. ... The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch. ... On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed. ... [C]onfidence is every where the parent of despotism; free government is founded in jealousy and not in confidence; it is jealousy & not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power ... in questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution."

Alexander Hamilton: "[T]here is not a syllable in the [Constitution] which directly empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the Constitution, or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed by the courts of every State. ... The Judiciary ... has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society, and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither force nor will. ... If it be asked, 'What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic?' The answer would be, an inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws -- the first growing out of the last. ... A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital principle, the sustaining energy of a free government. ... [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."

John Adams: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. ... The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People. ... [T]hey may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. ... A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

Article VI of our Constitution proclaims: "This Constitution ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land."

The definitive reflection on constitutional authority comes from Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, a Madison appointee, in his "Commentaries on the Constitution" (1833): "The constitution of the United States is to receive a reasonable interpretation of its language, and its powers, keeping in view the objects and purposes for which those powers were conferred. By a reasonable interpretation, we mean, that in case the words are susceptible of two different senses, the one strict, the other more enlarged, that should be adopted which is most consonant with the apparent objects and intent of the Constitution. ... Temporary delusions, prejudices, excitements, and objects have irresistible influence in mere questions of policy. And the policy of one age may ill suit the wishes or the policy of another. The constitution is not subject to such fluctuations. It is to have a fixed, uniform, permanent construction. It should be, so far at least as human infirmity will allow, not dependent upon the passions or parties of particular times, but the same yesterday, to-day, and forever."

The last best hope for the restoration of our Constitution's original intent is upon us. Accordingly, a revival of its prescribed limits on the central government rests on the shoulders of those wise enough to educate themselves to the principles of Essential Liberty and bold enough to make constitutional authority the centerpiece of any political debate.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a citizen asked Benjamin Franklin what form of government the Founders had created. He responded, "A republic, if you can keep it." The question for American Patriots today: "Can we keep it?"

Well, can we? Tell me what you think
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post
23654  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Early Obama letter confirms inability to write. on: September 01, 2011, 08:08:40 PM
http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/08/early_obama_letter_confirms_inability_to_write.html
August 29, 2011
Early Obama Letter Confirms Inability to Write
By Jack Cashill
On November 16, 1990, Barack Obama, then president of the Harvard Law Review, published a letter in the Harvard Law Record, an independent Harvard Law School newspaper, championing affirmative action.

Although a paragraph from this letter was excerpted in David Remnick's biography of Obama, The Bridge, I had not seen the letter in its entirety before this week.  Not surprisingly, it confirms everything I know about Barack Obama, the writer and thinker.

Obama was prompted to write by an earlier letter from a Mr. Jim Chen that criticized Harvard Law Review's affirmative action policies.  Specifically, Chen had argued that affirmative action stigmatized its presumed beneficiaries.

The response is classic Obama: patronizing, dishonest, syntactically muddled, and grammatically challenged.  In the very first sentence Obama leads with his signature failing, one on full display in his earlier published work: his inability to make subject and predicate agree.

"Since the merits of the Law Review's selection policy has been the subject of commentary for the last three issues," wrote Obama, "I'd like to take the time to clarify exactly how our selection process works."

If Obama were as smart as a fifth-grader, he would know, of course, that "merits ... have."  Were there such a thing as a literary Darwin Award, Obama could have won it on this on one sentence alone.  He had vindicated Chen in his first ten words.

Although the letter is fewer than a thousand words long, Obama repeats the subject-predicate error at least two more times.  In one sentence, he seemingly cannot make up his mind as to which verb option is correct so he tries both: "Approximately half of this first batch is chosen ... the other half are selected ... "

Another distinctive Obama flaw is to allow a string of words to float in space.  Please note the unanchored phrase in italics at the end of this sentence:

"No editors on the Review will ever know whether any given editor was selected on the basis of grades, writing competition, or affirmative action, and no editors who were selected with affirmative action in mind."  Huh?

The next lengthy sentence highlights a few superficial style flaws and a much deeper flaw in Obama's political philosophy.

I would therefore agree with the suggestion that in the future, our concern in this area is most appropriately directed at any employer who would even insinuate that someone with Mr. Chen's extraordinary record of academic success might be somehow unqualified for work in a corporate law firm, or that such success might be somehow undeserved.

Obama would finish his acclaimed memoir, Dreams from My Father, about four years later.  Prior to Dreams, and for the nine years following, everything Obama wrote was, like the above sentence, an uninspired assemblage of words with a nearly random application of commas and tenses.

Unaided, Obama tends to the awkward, passive, and verbose.  The phrase "our concern in this area is most appropriately directed at any employer" would more profitably read, "we should focus on the employer." "Concern" is simply the wrong word.

Scarier than Obama's style, however, is his thinking.  A neophyte race-hustler after his three years in Chicago, Obama is keen to browbeat those who would "even insinuate" that affirmative action rewards the undeserving, results in inappropriate job placements, or stigmatizes its presumed beneficiaries.

In the case of Michelle Obama, affirmative action did all three.  The partners at Sidley Austin learned this the hard way.  In 1988, they hired her out of Harvard Law under the impression that the degree meant something.  It did not.  By 1991, Michelle was working in the public sector as an assistant to the mayor.  By 1993, she had given up her law license.

Had the partners investigated Michelle's background, they would have foreseen the disaster to come.  Sympathetic biographer Liza Mundy writes, "Michelle frequently deplores the modern reliance on test scores, describing herself as a person who did not test well."

She did not write well, either.  Mundy charitably describes her senior thesis at Princeton as "dense and turgid."  The less charitable Christopher Hitchens observes, "To describe [the thesis] as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be 'read' at all, in the strict sense of the verb.  This is because it wasn't written in any known language."

Michelle had to have been as anxious at Harvard Law as Bart Simpson was at Genius School.  Almost assuredly, the gap between her writing and that of her highly talented colleagues marked her as an affirmative action admission, and the profs finessed her through.

In a similar vein, Barack Obama was named an editor of the Harvard Law Review.  Although his description of the Law Review's selection process defies easy comprehension, apparently, after the best candidates are chosen, there remains "a pool of qualified candidates whose grades or writing competition scores do not significantly differ."  These sound like the kids at Lake Woebegone, all above average.  Out of this pool, Obama continues, "the Selection Committee may take race or physical handicap into account."

To his credit, Obama concedes that he "may have benefited from the Law Review's affirmative action policy."  This did not strike him as unusual as he "undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action programs during my academic career."

On the basis of his being elected president of Law Review -- a popularity contest -- Obama was awarded a six-figure contract to write a book.  To this point, he had not shown a hint of promise as a writer, but Simon & Schuster, like Sidley Austin, took the Harvard credential seriously.  It should not have.  For three years Obama floundered as badly as Michelle had at Sidley Austin.  Simon & Schuster finally pulled the contract.

Then Obama found his muse -- right in the neighborhood, as it turns out!  And promptly, without further ado, the awkward, passive, ungrammatical Obama, a man who had not written one inspired sentence in his whole life, published what Time Magazine called "the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician."

To question the nature of that production, I have learned, is to risk the abuse promised to Mr. Chen's theoretical employer.  After all, who would challenge Obama's obvious talent -- or that of any affirmative action beneficiary -- but those blinded by what Obama calls "deep-rooted ignorance and bias"?


What else could it be?

23655  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stealth Boat on: September 01, 2011, 04:53:57 PM

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/this-is-the-new-stealth-boat-that-floats-using-gas/
23656  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GB's must reads of the day on: September 01, 2011, 04:48:20 PM

http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2011/09/01/thursday-morning-must-reads-22/
23657  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gibson guitar case: If only he had used Madagascar labor??? on: September 01, 2011, 04:45:47 PM
second post of afternoon:

Feds raid Gibson Guitar:

Caveat: I've only read what is at this page and not yet listened to the clips.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/update-gibson-guitar-ceo-says-feds-told-him-to-outsource-labor-to-madagascar/
23658  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Maxine Waters: Tax them out of existence! on: September 01, 2011, 04:40:16 PM

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/maxine-waters-gangster-banks-must-modify-loans-or-were-gonna-tax-them-out-of-existence/
23659  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 01, 2011, 12:55:45 PM
 cheesy

In Brandon Lee's movie ("In the Line of Fire"?) one bad guy says to another bad guy "Don't ask for what you can't take." 

Word!
23660  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: September 01, 2011, 11:24:51 AM
Thanks for that JDN, I heard on one of the FOX shows that Huntsman had the misfortune to announce his plan on a day when something else sucked the oxygen from the room , , , and given his polling number of 1% he doesn't get much oxygen to begin with.  cheesy

As I read the plan my reaction is "Not bad!" thought I didn't really care for the Simpson-Bowles Commission stuff.   

That said Huntsman simply is not the man to lead the charge against Bankruptcy Baraq.
23661  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Productivity in Q2; August ISM on: September 01, 2011, 11:16:39 AM
Second post of the day

Nonfarm productivity (output per hour) declined at a 0.7% annual rate in Q2 To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 9/1/2011


Nonfarm productivity (output per hour) declined at a 0.7% annual rate in the second quarter, revised down from last month’s estimate of -0.3%. Nonfarm productivity is up 0.7% versus last year.

Real (inflation-adjusted) compensation per hour in the nonfarm sector declined at a 1.4% annual rate in Q2 and is down 0.7% versus last year. Unit labor costs rose at a 3.3% rate in Q2 and are up 1.9% versus a year ago.
 
In the manufacturing sector, the Q2 growth rate for productivity (-1.5%) was lower than among nonfarm businesses as a whole. The faster pace of decline in productivity was mostly due to faster growth in the number of hours worked. Real compensation per hour was down in the manufacturing sector (-0.9%), but, due to a decline in productivity and higher nominal earnings per hour, unit labor costs rose at a 4.6% annual rate.
 
Implications:  Productivity was revised down slightly for the second quarter, consistent with last week’s downward revisions for real GDP growth. Less output and the same number of hours worked means less output per hour.   Productivity is up only 0.7% in the past year, but was up 4.4% in the year ending in mid-2010. This is typical of economic recoveries, where productivity surges at the very beginning of the recovery and then temporarily slows down as hours worked increase more sharply. The growth rate of productivity over the past two years has been 2.6% annualized, slightly faster than the average 2.3% pace in the past 10 years and the past 20 years. In other news this morning, new claims for initial unemployment benefits declined 12,000 last week to 409,000.  Continuing claims for regular state benefits declined 18,000 to 3.74 million.  However, continuing claims in the prior week were revised up by 112,000.  This is the same week when the Labor Department did its monthly payroll survey.  As a result, we are revising down our forecast for private sector payroll growth in August to 105,000.  This is still quite respectable given a Verizon strike that temporarily took 46,000 workers off payrolls.  In other recent news, the ADP national employment report, a measure of private sector payrolls, increased 91,000 in August.

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



The ISM manufacturing index declined slightly to 50.6 in August from 50.9 in July, coming in well above the consensus expected 48.5. (Levels higher than 50 signal expansion; levels below 50 signal contraction.)

The major measures of activity were mixed in August. The supplier deliveries index rose to 50.6 from 50.4 and the new orders index increased to 49.6 from 49.2.  The production index fell to 48.6 from 52.3 and the employment index fell to 51.8 from 53.5.
 
The prices paid index declined to 55.5 in August from 59.0 in July.
 
Implications: Despite a small decline, the ISM manufacturing index easily beat consensus expectations for August and came in above 50, signaling continued growth. The report severely undermines the view held by some that we are in a double-dip recession. Regional surveys of manufacturing, such as the Philadelphia Fed index and Empire State index, have been beaten down lately by (misleading) headlines about a potential default on US Treasury securities, financial turmoil in Europe, and large swings in the stock market. As a result, expectations were for a soft ISM report. That would have been understandable given how these surveys sometimes reflect sentiment rather than actual levels of business activity. And yet the ISM held relatively firm. The manufacturing index has now shown growth for 25 consecutive months, and correlates with 2.8% real growth according to officials at the ISM. In other news this morning, construction declined 1.3% in July.  However, including huge upward revisions to prior months, construction was up 2.2%.  The upward revisions were due to both home building and commercial construction.  The decline in July was led by fewer home improvements and less construction of public schools. In other recent news, the Case-Shiller index, a measure of home prices in the 20 largest metro areas around the country, declined 0.1% in June (seasonally-adjusted) and is down 4.5% versus a year ago.
23662  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: September 01, 2011, 10:24:07 AM
The other possibility is of a breakdown in order that is triggered precisely by the breakdown of these things (worst case scenario due to EMP as a result of nuke detonation, or perhaps mere terrorism taking out a system or Chinese hacking or , , ,)

What happens if the internet itself goes off-line?
23663  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: September 01, 2011, 09:59:19 AM
Being of a prior generation, this point about cell phones and social media is one that for me is easy to forget , , , During the Rodney King riots here in LA in the early 90s this was not a factor, but the next time the excrement hits the fan this will be a new variable the significance of which I cannot predict.
23664  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / En busca de seguridad economica on: September 01, 2011, 09:52:48 AM
The Venezuelan government has announced four key policy moves designed to enhance the country’s economic security. The first is the transfer of $6.3 billion in currency reserves to banks in Russia, China and Brazil. In the second move, Venezuela announced that it would transfer $11 billion worth of gold, mostly held abroad in Swiss banks, back home to the Venezuelan Central Bank. Third, was the nationalization of Venezuela’s gold sector, and fourth, was the creation of joint ventures between Venezuelan state firm PDVSA [Petroleos de Venezuela] and state mining firms.

The Venezuelan Central Bank lists its currency reserves at $6.5 billion and its gold reserves at $18 billion. A whopping 60 percent of Venezuela’s reserves are thus distributed in gold, while the rest are distributed in bonds and cash. Many in the investor world have written off these moves as irrational moves by Chavez’s economic team that will only enhance investors’ skittishness in Venezuela. In our view, the moves make good political sense for the Chavez regime but are also extremely revealing of the government’s growing vulnerabilities.

We pointed out at the beginning of the year that the rising level of economic decay, runaway corruption and growing political uncertainty in Venezuela would make the Venezuelan regime more reliant on its allies, particularly China and Russia. But both Russia and China have become increasingly skittish over the rising level of political uncertainty in Venezuela. Both of these countries have deep insight into the state of PDVSA’s financial disarray, and they both can see very clearly that there is no clear successor to Chavez who would be able to manage the regime as tightly as he has. For that reason, every time Venezuelan delegations go to Beijing and Moscow asking for larger installments on these loans, the Chinese and the Russians are coming back asking for greater collateral. And this likely explains Venezuela’s decision to transfer its currency reserves to Russian and Chinese banks. This allows Venezuela to draw larger amounts from these loans, but it also gives Russia and China the option, theoretically, to block Venezuelan reserves down the line should they feel the need to insulate themselves against a potential Venezuelan default.

Now, Chavez has had a lot of reasons for trying to insulate his country’s reserves. More recently, Chavez has likely been unnerved by the West’s freezing of assets of his close friend and ally, Moammar Gadhafi. There is also a very active sanctions lobby in Washington D.C. that has been spending a lot of time highlighting the links between PDVSA and IRGC-linked companies in Iran that is putting Venezuela on the sanctions radar. Another likely reason behind this move has to do with pending arbitration disputes on Venezuela’s nationalization decrees. Venezuela has a number of lawsuits now exceeding up to $30 billion with Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, among other major firms.

Now, the Venezuelan move to transfer the majority of its gold assets back home and nationalize the gold sector likely have a lot to do with PDVSA’s increasing cash flow problems. In trying to address this problem of improving PDVSA’s efficiency as well as the efficiency of key mining companies, the Venezuelan government has announced a policy to create joint ventures between PDVSA and mining firms in the country. Theoretically, this type of consolidation could lead to greater efficiency, but if you look at the history of PDVSA’s nationalizations, the company’s expanded portfolio has led to greater inefficiency and not less.

Given the rising political uncertainties of the day especially given that Chavez is his sick with cancer, the Chavez government cannot afford to see its social development projects held back by PDVSA’s cash flow problems. Those projects are crucial to the regime’s political support and with elections slated for 2012 and the potential for those elections to be moved up sooner depending on Chavez’s health, you can see why the government is so eager to have reserves at home, and that is the gold assets back home, so it can draw on its reserves more easily and thus have the cash flow to support these politically crucial development projects. And the Chavez government made the nationalization move at a time when gold prices are at an all-time high. Nationalizing the gold industry allows Venezuela to add more gold to its existing reserves while reducing its exposure to the dollar while relying on local resources. In other words, Venezuela can sell oil abroad in dollars and then transfer its currency reserves to gold, which will now be much more accessible at home. Venezuela can then issue bonds at much lower rates, offering its gold as collateral, thus getting the cash it needs to support these politically crucial social development programs.



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23665  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Venezuela's search for economic security on: September 01, 2011, 09:51:53 AM
The Venezuelan government has announced four key policy moves designed to enhance the country’s economic security. The first is the transfer of $6.3 billion in currency reserves to banks in Russia, China and Brazil. In the second move, Venezuela announced that it would transfer $11 billion worth of gold, mostly held abroad in Swiss banks, back home to the Venezuelan Central Bank. Third, was the nationalization of Venezuela’s gold sector, and fourth, was the creation of joint ventures between Venezuelan state firm PDVSA [Petroleos de Venezuela] and state mining firms.

The Venezuelan Central Bank lists its currency reserves at $6.5 billion and its gold reserves at $18 billion. A whopping 60 percent of Venezuela’s reserves are thus distributed in gold, while the rest are distributed in bonds and cash. Many in the investor world have written off these moves as irrational moves by Chavez’s economic team that will only enhance investors’ skittishness in Venezuela. In our view, the moves make good political sense for the Chavez regime but are also extremely revealing of the government’s growing vulnerabilities.

We pointed out at the beginning of the year that the rising level of economic decay, runaway corruption and growing political uncertainty in Venezuela would make the Venezuelan regime more reliant on its allies, particularly China and Russia. But both Russia and China have become increasingly skittish over the rising level of political uncertainty in Venezuela. Both of these countries have deep insight into the state of PDVSA’s financial disarray, and they both can see very clearly that there is no clear successor to Chavez who would be able to manage the regime as tightly as he has. For that reason, every time Venezuelan delegations go to Beijing and Moscow asking for larger installments on these loans, the Chinese and the Russians are coming back asking for greater collateral. And this likely explains Venezuela’s decision to transfer its currency reserves to Russian and Chinese banks. This allows Venezuela to draw larger amounts from these loans, but it also gives Russia and China the option, theoretically, to block Venezuelan reserves down the line should they feel the need to insulate themselves against a potential Venezuelan default.

Now, Chavez has had a lot of reasons for trying to insulate his country’s reserves. More recently, Chavez has likely been unnerved by the West’s freezing of assets of his close friend and ally, Moammar Gadhafi. There is also a very active sanctions lobby in Washington D.C. that has been spending a lot of time highlighting the links between PDVSA and IRGC-linked companies in Iran that is putting Venezuela on the sanctions radar. Another likely reason behind this move has to do with pending arbitration disputes on Venezuela’s nationalization decrees. Venezuela has a number of lawsuits now exceeding up to $30 billion with Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, among other major firms.

Now, the Venezuelan move to transfer the majority of its gold assets back home and nationalize the gold sector likely have a lot to do with PDVSA’s increasing cash flow problems. In trying to address this problem of improving PDVSA’s efficiency as well as the efficiency of key mining companies, the Venezuelan government has announced a policy to create joint ventures between PDVSA and mining firms in the country. Theoretically, this type of consolidation could lead to greater efficiency, but if you look at the history of PDVSA’s nationalizations, the company’s expanded portfolio has led to greater inefficiency and not less.

Given the rising political uncertainties of the day especially given that Chavez is his sick with cancer, the Chavez government cannot afford to see its social development projects held back by PDVSA’s cash flow problems. Those projects are crucial to the regime’s political support and with elections slated for 2012 and the potential for those elections to be moved up sooner depending on Chavez’s health, you can see why the government is so eager to have reserves at home, and that is the gold assets back home, so it can draw on its reserves more easily and thus have the cash flow to support these politically crucial development projects. And the Chavez government made the nationalization move at a time when gold prices are at an all-time high. Nationalizing the gold industry allows Venezuela to add more gold to its existing reserves while reducing its exposure to the dollar while relying on local resources. In other words, Venezuela can sell oil abroad in dollars and then transfer its currency reserves to gold, which will now be much more accessible at home. Venezuela can then issue bonds at much lower rates, offering its gold as collateral, thus getting the cash it needs to support these politically crucial social development programs.

23666  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Baraq and American exceptionalism on: September 01, 2011, 08:43:30 AM
By SHELBY STEELE
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times: President Obama is destroying the country. Some say this destructiveness is intended; most say it is inadvertent, an outgrowth of inexperience, ideological wrong-headedness and an oddly undefined character. Indeed, on the matter of Mr. Obama's character, today's left now sounds like the right of three years ago. They have begun to see through the man and are surprised at how little is there.

Yet there is something more than inexperience or lack of character that defines this presidency: Mr. Obama came of age in a bubble of post-'60s liberalism that conditioned him to be an adversary of American exceptionalism. In this liberalism America's exceptional status in the world follows from a bargain with the devil—an indulgence in militarism, racism, sexism, corporate greed, and environmental disregard as the means to a broad economic, military, and even cultural supremacy in the world. And therefore America's greatness is as much the fruit of evil as of a devotion to freedom.

Mr. Obama did not explicitly run on an anti-exceptionalism platform. Yet once he was elected it became clear that his idea of how and where to apply presidential power was shaped precisely by this brand of liberalism. There was his devotion to big government, his passion for redistribution, and his scolding and scapegoating of Wall Street—as if his mandate was somehow to overcome, or at least subdue, American capitalism itself.

Anti-exceptionalism has clearly shaped his "leading from behind" profile abroad—an offer of self-effacement to offset the presumed American evil of swaggering cowboyism. Once in office his "hope and change" campaign slogan came to look like the "hope" of overcoming American exceptionalism and "change" away from it.

So, in Mr. Obama, America gained a president with ambivalence, if not some antipathy, toward the singular greatness of the nation he had been elected to lead.

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Chad Crowe
 .But then again, the American people did elect him. Clearly Americans were looking for a new kind of exceptionalism in him (a black president would show America to have achieved near perfect social mobility). But were they also looking for—in Mr. Obama—an assault on America's bedrock exceptionalism of military, economic and cultural pre-eminence?

American exceptionalism is, among other things, the result of a difficult rigor: the use of individual initiative as the engine of development within a society that strives to ensure individual freedom through the rule of law. Over time a society like this will become great. This is how—despite all our flagrant shortcomings and self-betrayals—America evolved into an exceptional nation.

Yet today America is fighting in a number of Muslim countries, and that number is as likely to rise as to fall. Our exceptionalism saddles us with overwhelming burdens. The entire world comes to our door when there is real trouble, and every day we spill blood and treasure in foreign lands—even as anti-Americanism plays around the world like a hit record.

At home the values that made us exceptional have been smeared with derision. Individual initiative and individual responsibility—the very engines of our exceptionalism—now carry a stigma of hypocrisy. For centuries America made sure that no amount of initiative would lift minorities and women. So in liberal quarters today—where historical shames are made to define the present—these values are seen as little more than the cynical remnants of a bygone era. Talk of "merit" or "a competition of excellence" in the admissions office of any Ivy League university today, and then stand by for the howls of incredulous laughter.

Our national exceptionalism both burdens and defames us, yet it remains our fate. We make others anxious, envious, resentful, admiring and sometimes hate-driven. There's a reason al Qaeda operatives targeted the U.S. on 9/11 and not, say, Buenos Aires. They wanted to enrich their act of evil with the gravitas of American exceptionalism. They wanted to steal our thunder.

So we Americans cannot help but feel some ambivalence toward our singularity in the world—with its draining entanglements abroad, the selfless demands it makes on both our military and our taxpayers, and all the false charges of imperial hubris it incurs. Therefore it is not surprising that America developed a liberalism—a political left—that took issue with our exceptionalism. It is a left that has no more fervent mission than to recast our greatness as the product of racism, imperialism and unbridled capitalism.

But this leaves the left mired in an absurdity: It seeks to trade the burdens of greatness for the relief of mediocrity. When greatness fades, when a nation contracts to a middling place in the world, then the world in fact no longer knocks on its door. (Think of England or France after empire.) To civilize America, to redeem the nation from its supposed avarice and hubris, the American left effectively makes a virtue of decline—as if we can redeem America only by making her indistinguishable from lesser nations.

Since the '60s we have enfeebled our public education system even as our wealth has expanded. Moral and cultural relativism now obscure individual responsibility. We are uninspired in the wars we fight, calculating our withdrawal even before we begin—and then we fight with a self-conscious, almost bureaucratic minimalism that makes the wars interminable.

America seems to be facing a pivotal moment: Do we move ahead by advancing or by receding—by reaffirming the values that made us exceptional or by letting go of those values, so that a creeping mediocrity begins to spare us the burdens of greatness?

As a president, Barack Obama has been a force for mediocrity. He has banked more on the hopeless interventions of government than on the exceptionalism of the people. His greatest weakness as a president is a limp confidence in his countrymen. He is afraid to ask difficult things of them.

Like me, he is black, and it was the government that in part saved us from the ignorances of the people. So the concept of the exceptionalism—the genius for freedom—of the American people may still be a stretch for him. But in fact he was elected to make that stretch. It should be held against him that he has failed to do so.

Mr. Steele is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Among his books is "White Guilt" (Harper/Collins, 2007).

23667  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: September 01, 2011, 08:38:39 AM
If you think BP was bad in the Gulf of Mexico, just wait until it is regulated by the Russians in the Arctic , , ,



By RUSSELL GOLD
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s blockbuster $2.2 billion deal to drill for oil in the frigid waters north of Russia with OAO Rosneft is the latest sign of the energy industry's white-hot interest in exploring above the Arctic Circle.

The region encompasses about 12 million square miles—just 6% of the earth's land mass. But it is estimated to contain the oil and natural-gas equivalent of 412 billion barrels of oil, about 22% of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.

View Full Image
.More recently, thinning ice has made it easier to work in some parts of the Arctic. And the persistently high price of oil, along with political constraints elsewhere, has encouraged Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Cairn Energy PLC to invest billions of dollars on previously unexplored areas.

The challenges, however, are daunting. The extreme weather and ice flows during colder months could wreak havoc on oil-industry platforms. Cleaning up an oil spill would be a huge effort. The seas there don't support the microbes that can break down oil droplets. Existing air strips, ports and villages in the Arctic couldn't accommodate the type of massive response that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

The Arctic is largely untouched by industrial development and, due to its year-round cold, would be least resilient to an oil spill, notes the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of nations bordering the region.

 Exxon Mobil and OAO Rosneft, the state-controlled Russian oil giant, reached a sweeping strategic alliance Tuesday that will give the U.S. titan access to potentially huge oil fields in the Arctic Ocean. Russell Gold has details on The News Hub.
.Despite such environmental objections, arctic exploration is poised to move ahead quickly. Exxon and Rosneft, for instance, hope to begin preliminary exploration work next year.

A Rosneft official said on Wednesday that the two companies hope to drill their first exploratory well by 2015 and, if everything goes well, could begin production in the region by early next decade.

Rosneft estimated the areas it hopes to explore over the next few years have estimated recoverable reserves of 4.9 billion tons of oil, or about 36 billion barrels.

More
Exxon, Rosneft Drilling to Begin in 2015
Exxon in Arctic Deal; U.S. Access for Russia
Exxon's Arctic Deal Is Black Eye for BP
Heard on the Street: Russia's Need Is Exxon's Opportunity
Heard on the Street: BP Counts Cost Of Russian Missteps
.Shell has received conditional U.S. approval for up to 10 wells over the next couple of years in shallow waters off Alaska, although the Anglo-Dutch company still needs additional permits.

Off the western coast of Greenland, operating on both sides of the Arctic Circle, Scotland's Cairn Energy has drilled three wells and plans another four this year.

The two parts of the Arctic that are thought to contain giant deposits of oil and gas are north of Alaska and Canada's Northwest Territories as well as the waters north of Russia, stretching from its boundary with Finland and continuing east for more than 1,000 miles.

"All around the coast of Russia, geologists salivate over what they see from the little exploration that we have and salivate over the opportunity to drill," says Peter Robertson, a retired Chevron vice chairman and independent oil advisor to consulting firm Deloitte LLP. "There is the potential for very large finds. It's a great opportunity."

Marilyn Heiman, director of the U.S. Arctic Program at the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, cautions that the energy industry is moving faster to start drilling than most countries are moving to craft appropriate regulations for the region.

"The Arctic is one of the most dangerous places to drill in the world and we need to have standards in place to prevent oil spills," said Ms. Heiman.

 WSJ's Liam Denning breaks down the $3.2 billion deal struck between Exxon Mobil and Russia's OAO Rosneft to explore for oil in the Arctic's Kara Sea.
.Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said the risks are manageable and the company plans to have oil-recovery vessels staged and ready to respond to any accidents.

"We could respond to any incident within an hour," she said. In addition, the wells that Shell plans to drill are not considered complex by oil industry standards, she said. "Pressures encountered in the Gulf of Mexico are five times greater than what we would encounter in offshore Alaska wells," she said.

There are other challenges for arctic hopefuls. For instance, designing permanent platforms to manage producing wells will require steel that can withstand years of extreme cold without turning brittle.

Border nations are laying the groundwork for more activity. Recently, countries have been clarifying often ill-defined maritime borders above the Arctic Circle, in preparation for expected oil and gas development. Norway and Russia ended decades of negotiation last year and agreed on their border.

Lawson Brigham, a professor of geography and Arctic policy at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, said several countries that border the Arctic, including Norway and Russia, have economies whose future growth is dependent on developing its oil and gas resources. "The key to the Arctic," Mr. Brigham said, "is that there is a lot in the Arctic that can be sold."

23668  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PIMCO's Gross: "I was wrong" on: September 01, 2011, 08:30:05 AM
http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/larrykudlow/2011/09/01/interview_with_pimcos_bill_gross
I had the pleasure of speaking with Pimco's Bill Gross, one of America’s most famed investors, on CNBC’s Kudlow Report. Mr. Gross has generated big buzz over his admission that betting against U.S. debt was a mistake.

LARRY KUDLOW, host:

And most important, at the top, PIMCO's Bill Gross, one of America's most
famous and successful investors. He's generating big buzz today with his
superimportant and much talked about interview in The Wall Street Journal and
elsewhere. Mr. Gross says he has, quote, "lost sleep," end quote, over a bad
bet on Treasury rates. He acknowledged that selling all his funds, Treasury
holdings last February was a, quote, "mistake." And he went on to say, and I
quote, "We try to be very intellectually honest and honest with the public,"
end quote.

All right, for my part, I just want to say to my old friend Bill Gross that I
have nothing but admiration for his taking ownership and admitting a mistake.
We all make them. And by the way, he's setting a very good example for the
rest of us. That's just my take.

Anyway, it is always a real pleasure, especially tonight, to welcome back to
the show a special Kudlow exclusive, Bill Gross. He's founder and co-chief
investment officer of PIMCO.

All right, Bill. You admit to a big Treasury bond miss. Rates this year went
way down, not up. Can you tell us, please, why the interviews right now and
what message are you sending?

Mr. BILL GROSS: Well, I, you know, I think at PIMCO we always try and be
open with the press and the public. I mean, isn't that what voters want from
their politicians? Mohamed El-Erian, our CEO, write several op-eds a week. I
tweet daily and publish a monthly investment outlook, which came out this
morning, by the way. So we try to give an honest answer to an honest
question.

And by the way, in terms of the interview with the Journal and with the FT,
what I said was that--something that I think all bond and--bond managers would
say if they were honest. They would say, `Wish I'd own more Treasuries.' To
say otherwise would be to say something like you'd wished you bet on the Miami
Heat instead of the Dallas Mavericks. I mean, it's obvious who won, right?

KUDLOW: Obviously wrong. All right, well, anyway, you're very outspoken and
I respect you for it.

Listen, you were here--I looked back--June 8th we spoke. So what's that?
Three months ago. At that point, Bill, you repeated the call to get out of
bonds. Now the bonds rally more or less from 3 percent to 2 percent, today
they're at 2.20. What went wrong? How do you assess what went wrong with
your bond call?

Mr. GROSS: Well, first of all, I didn't say get out of bonds. I said get
out of Treasuries and move...

KUDLOW: Treasuries.

Mr. GROSS: ...and move into Canadian bonds and to Australian bonds and other
alternatives. What went wrong in terms of the Treasury call from 3 percent
down to close to 2 percent? Well, the economy slowed down dramatically. We
had a freeze-up, so to speak, in terms of Washington with the politicians and
policy options. It was recognized that fiscal stimulation, you know,
certainly wasn't going to be something undertaken for the next six to 12
months, if at all. It was recognized that the Fed was running out of policy
options and so the economy was slowing down and was--seemed to be slowing
almost permanently in terms of a 0 to 2 percent growth category.

KUDLOW: Have you basically lost confidence in the economy? You mention, I
think, in the FT article, Bill, you call it, quote, "a new normal minus." Have
you lost all confidence in our capacity to grow the economy?

Mr. GROSS: Well, no. You know, but the problem I have with the free market
capitalism, Larry, which is your philosophy, is not with the concept. In
fact, you know, PIMCO is an epitome of its historical thrust. We're very
successful and because of free market capitalism. But the problem I have is
with its apparent exhaustion in the face of three equally dynamic economic
influences. Let me mention them briefly.

First of all globalization has weakened American and developed economies by
syphoning off investment and, more importantly, jobs to emerging nations at
1/10th the wage cost. Take China, for example, Free market capitalism, in
other words, is working for China, it's working for Brazil, but it's not
working for America or Euroland.

Secondly and just briefly, free market capitalism depends on a balanced market
between labor and capital. And clearly we're reaching a point where
impoverished Main Street cannot afford to buy the goods that capitalism so
magnificently produces. So I think there's an exhaustion here in terms of
free market capitalism that has worked so well for 20 to 30 to 40, 50 years,
but now is reaching structural impediments that prevent, you know, strong
growth that we're used to.

KUDLOW: I want to come back to that towards the back end, Bill, but I just
want to narrow down for a moment. I want to drill down. According to the
reports, you are buying Treasuries. You're accumulating Treasuries. You have
a net positive exposure for the first time. Let me ask you, what if the
bond--the Treasury market has discounted a recession that doesn't happen? Are
you chasing the market? Is there a risk that the rate hikes that you foresaw
this year might still come to pass if the economy surprises on the upside?

Mr. GROSS: Well, that's possible. We read in the Fed minutes today of the
last meeting that the--that the two-year 0 percent or 25 basis point Fed funds
level is conditional, and we know that there are hawks, that there are doves,
and that should the economy recover to a 2 to 3 to 4 percent rate, that, you
know, perhaps inflation looms larger in terms of a threat. So anything is
possible. What I would say at the moment, though, is since the economy is
really moving closer to the zero level, since inflation probably will come
down gradually, you know, the Fed is at 0 percent for the next two years and
perhaps even longer than that, and that determines significantly the level of
Treasury rates in five-year space, 10-year space and even 30-year space.

KUDLOW: But, you know, it's interesting. We had Byron Wein on, a
distinguished investment guru on his own part. He predicted the S&P would
rally to 1400. OK? It's just over 1200 today, as you know, If that sort of
thing happened with better corporate profits, even consumer sentiment, which
tanked today but people are still buying washing machines and cars, retail
sales are holding up. If you had a big rally in stocks, the risk trade is
back on. That'll come out of Treasury bonds, and those could--that could
drive those bond rates back to 3 percent. You're buying bonds now. Are you
worried that there's a potential for whiplash?

Mr. GROSS: Well, I'm suggesting that the probability--that the high
probability is for interest rates to stay low for a long time. I mean, Byron
Wein basically is a a mean reversion cyclical type of--type of analyst. What
we're suggesting is that there are structural impediments to the US economy to
develop market economies that will prevent growth in the 3 to 4 percent
category.

Let me ask you, in terms of consumerism, in terms of the US consumer, if
unemployment stays at 9 percent plus and if wage gains--if real wage gains are
nonexistent, then were is the spending power coming from? It has to come from
the consumer as opposed to businesses. Businesses are waiting on the
consumer. The consumer is waiting on business. We have what we call a
liquidity trap. So what we're suggesting is not a reversion to the mean, not
a cyclical upthrust, but basically a structural impediment that produces
growth in the 0 to 2 percent category for a long time. Not just in the US,
but in Euroland, as well.

KUDLOW: All right. So let me--have you had any trouble with your fund--I
guess the Total Return Fund, because of the bond miss this year, rates went
down instead of up? Have people withdrawn from the fund? What are your
customers saying right now?

Mr. GROSS: We have a $245 billion customer base. You know, that customer
base is growing. We just got a billion dollar contribution from a large
corporation this week. There's been no lack of confidence. You know, to
suggest that a six to seven month timeframe for the PIMCO Total Return Fund,
which has produced results for the last 20, 30 or 35 years, is, you know, a
stretch of the imagination. We continue to produce fine results for our
clients.

KUDLOW: Oh, that's what everybody says. That's--everybody I talked to today
on this story said exactly what you said. Your record down through the years
has been superb.

Let me ask you this, are you still buying some corporate bonds and are you
still buying foreign bonds? You talked to me about that when you last
visited.

Mr. GROSS: Well, corporate bonds of the highest quality, yes. And that
would be A and AA-types of corporates, not high-yield bonds because they don't
do well, you know, if we near the recessionary level of 0 percent. In terms
of foreign bonds, let me just cite the comparison: a five-year Treasury in
the United States at 1 percent, actually little bit less; in Canada 1.7
percent; in Euroland 2.1 percent; in Mexico 5.4 percent; in Brazil 11 percent.
And these are countries, by the way, Larry, which have what we call clean or
dirty shirts. Mexico has half the debt of the United States. Brazil has half
the debt of the United States and has treasury reserves as opposed to
deficits. And so these are countries with higher yields and better balance
sheets.

KUDLOW: All right, last one. I'm going to come back to where you were on the
breakdown of free market capitalism, which is fair enough. I would
acknowledge that America's economy has been on the decline now for about 10
years. But I ask you, Bill, everybody is so profitable. Businesses are so
profitable, so much cash. Banks have more liquidity than they know what to do
with. Is it possible there's a buyer's strike, that there's a capital strike,
that the spending and taxing and regulatory threats out of Washington are
really the problem, not the free market capitalist system?

Mr. GROSS: Well, I'd have to say that that doesn't help. I mean, let's come
together on that point that regulation and too much of it--that taxation in
terms of the necessary reforms that probably lie ahead, you know, don't help
either in terms of the current economic environment. What I would say in
terms of corporate tax reform is, yes, let's reform taxes, let's reform
corporate taxes and let's reform individual taxes. But at the same token,
let's not lower them, because corporate taxes are 10 percent of total federal
revenues. They're at an all-time low, Larry. And to suggest that
corporations are the poor baby in this particular story, I think, is an
absurdity.

KUDLOW: All right. I'm going to leave that for the next discussion we have.
We have much more to discuss on corporate tax reform. But, Bill Gross, thank
you for your honesty. Thank you for your forthrightness.

Mr. GROSS: Thank you, Larry.

KUDLOW: And thanks for coming on tonight. I appreciate it.

23669  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH on: September 01, 2011, 08:22:24 AM


What should we not expect during next summer's presidential campaign, given what was put off-limits in 2008 and later?

There is much talk about what some are perceiving as the fringe religiosity of possible Republican primary candidates such as Michele Bachman and Rick Perry. But the media established the precedent four years ago that no candidate can be held responsible for his church. Barack Obama's pastor of more than 20 years, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was an unapologetic racist and anti-Semite, and a raving conspiracy theorist whose parishioners gave him standing ovations for his hate-filled "G-d damn America" rants.

Prior education and college preparation should not be 2012 issues either. Recent articles have referred to a leaked Texas A&M undergraduate transcript of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, showing some dismal grades and thus apparent proof that Perry was not much of a past student -- or current thinker. But in this regard, Obama has never released either his Occidental or Columbia transcripts. In response, the media in 2008 shrugged and chose not to pursue the matter the way it had with the C-grade records of George W. Bush, Al Gore and John Kerry. Apparently Obama has established another wise precedent that long-ago college transcripts, like churchgoing, are irrelevant.

Civility is off the table, too. Candidate Obama once called sitting president Bush "unpatriotic" for borrowing $4 trillion in eight years -- a sum he matched in less than three. He advised Latinos to "punish our enemies" and mocked opponents for wanting to put "alligators and moats" on the border. Obama's advisors reportedly promised to "Kill Romney." So civility is out the window, and 2012 will once again be a typically American no-holds-barred slugfest of anything goes from both sides.

Public campaign financing won't come up either. Both sides will raise obscene amounts of money. You see, in 2008, Obama set another election precedent: He was the first president in the history of public campaign financing laws to shun federal money and oversight in the general election, largely because he wanted -- and got -- a record level of private cash, much of it from Wall Street.

The old bogeyman George W. Bush won't matter much either by 2012. Since 2008, Obama has blamed Bush for chronic high unemployment, record annual deficits, massive national debt, the erratic stock market, credit downgrading, a continuing housing slump and near nonexistent growth. But even the president's supporters confess that Obama finally now "owns" the economy, especially given the newly elected president's boast in early 2009 that if he didn't fix things in three years, he would not deserve re-election.

In the 2008 campaign, Obama derided the war on terror as either ineffective or unconstitutional. That issue in 2012 will be ancient history, too, since President Obama has simply embraced all the major Bush-Cheney antiterrorism protocols and wars, and expanded many of them, from renditions to Predator drone targeted assassinations to a third war in Libya. Obama's campaign commercials will highlight the commander in chief who ordered the successful hit on bin Laden, not the civil libertarian who closed Guantanamo Bay as promised.

A supposedly do-nothing Congress that thwarted Obama -- like an earlier Republican one that had blocked "Give 'em Hell" Harry Truman -- won't come up much either. Remember, Obama had large majorities in both the House and Senate until January 2011. That's how he rammed through everything from Obamacare to trillion-dollar subsidies along strictly partisan majority votes. The "do-nothing" Congress of Obama's first two years that failed to pass alien amnesty and cap-and-trade legislation and failed to grow the economy was controlled by his fellow Democrats. Even now, the loud but largely still impotent Republicans only control one-half of one-third of the U.S. government.

So if we know what won't be campaign issues, what exactly will be?

The economy. If the current bleak picture stays the same or gets worse, Obama will be forced to argue, as did incumbent Herbert Hoover in 1932, that after four years his borrow/print/spend remedies still have not kicked in. And so he will claim that he needs eight years, not four, for Keynesian economics to finally work. Good luck with that silly argument.

But should things improve somewhat over the next year, then Obama will insist that his spending tonic is at last working, and he deserves another term to further nurse the recovering economy.

It is that simple: Almost every campaign issue other than the economy either will be off the table or irrelevant -- thanks largely to the past protocols of Barack Obama himself.
23670  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / $486,364 per job now vaporized on: September 01, 2011, 07:49:41 AM
If I have my numbers right, the 1100 now vaporized jobs were created at a cost of $486,364 each (i.e. $535,000,000) this "public-private partnership" (a.k.a. economic fascism)  rolleyes angry cry

POTH

By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: August 31, 2011
 
WASHINGTON —  A Silicon Valley maker of solar power arrays that was started with high hopes and $527 million in loans from the federal government said on Wednesday that it would cease operations. The failure of the company — and the loss to taxpayers — is likely to renew the debate in Washington about the wisdom of clean energy subsidies and loan guarantees.

Employees work on equipment used to produce innovative cylindrical solar cell modules at the Solyndra plant in Fremont, Calif.

 President Obama praised the company, Solyndra, for its advanced technology during a visit last year. But in a statement on Wednesday, Solyndra said its business had run into trouble because of difficult global business conditions, including slowing  demand for solar panels, and stiff competition.

The Energy Department, which approved the funding, said China’s subsidies to its solar industry were threatening the ability of Solyndra and other American manufacturers to compete. The price of a solar array, measured by cost per watt of capacity, has fallen 42 percent since December 2010, the agency said.

Two other American solar companies, Evergreen Solar and SpectraWatt, also sought bankruptcy protection in August, and both said competition from Chinese companies had contributed to their financial problems.

In the case of Solyndra, some experts said that regardless of the competition, the company’s unique designs, which were expensive to manufacture, were to blame for its failure.

Solyndra was promised loans of up to $535 million under a guarantee program authorized by Congress as part of the 2009 stimulus package. The Energy Department has made more than 40 promises of guarantees, of which Solyndra was the first. It has committed $18 billion in guarantees and expects to allocate several billion dollars more by the time the program finishes at the end of September.

The government calculates premiums for the guarantees, essentially a loan fee based on the risk of default, but it picks up the cost of the premiums for the companies in the subsidy program. By that yardstick, it has spent $2.4 billion in credit subsidies for the program.

Solyndra’s troubles have been growing for some time. Republican budget-cutters in Congress have viewed it as a model of poor government investment.

“In an apparent rush to push stimulus dollars out the door, the Obama administration wasted $535 million in taxpayer funds in guaranteeing a loan to a firm that has proven to be unviable in the global market,” said Representative Cliff Stearns, the Florida Republican who is chairman of an investigative subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

He said the Energy Department might have authorized the guarantee because an Oklahoma oil man who was a donor to the Obama campaign, George Kaiser, was an investor in the project. In a joint statement, Mr. Stearns and Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, the chairman of the committee, said, “We smelled a rat from the onset.”

But the Energy Department dismissed that assertion, saying that Solyndra applied for federal help during the Bush administration and that Obama-era officials merely finished the process the Republicans had begun.

The department says government subsidies are essential to keep the United States competitive in renewable energy, and not all companies will succeed.

“The project that we supported succeeded,” insisted Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Department of Energy.

“The facility was producing the product it said it would produce, and consumers were buying the product,” he said. “The company struggled because the market has changed dramatically.”

Although the government typically guarantees loans made to a company by a commercial bank, that was not the case for Solyndra. Solyndra borrowed the money from the Federal Financing Bank, part of the Treasury Department, so in effect, the government was lending the money to the company directly. The Energy Department gave Solyndra a conditional guarantee for $535 million, in multiple stages, contingent on reaching a variety of milestones, and to date, it had received $527 million.

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

Mr. LaVera held out the hope that in a bankruptcy reorganization, Solyndra or some other company would run the factory profitably and that not all the taxpayer investment would be lost. In addition to the government, private investors put about $1 billion into the company. More than 1,000 employees were laid off.

Although the Obama administration is under pressure from energy companies to extend the guarantee program, it is a likely target for Congressional budget-cutters.
“Solyndra is a black eye for the program,” said Matthew A. Feinstein, an analyst at Lux Research. “And that means bad things for the solar industry in the United States.”

Solyndra, which once had plans to sell stock to the public, was a darling of policy makers. When it broke ground in Fremont, Calif., Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was then governor, and Steven Chu, the federal secretary of energy, wielded ceremonial gold-colored shovels.

Solyndra’s problem, according to outsiders, was that the product looked better when it was conceived than when it hit the market. Solyndra’s design avoids the use of silicon, a commodity that was selling at very high prices in 2009 when the loan guarantee was approved but that has crashed since then.

The design also sought to cut costs with an innovative cylindrical design that reduced the labor required for installation. As the sun moves across the sky, the light hits a different facet of the cylinder. But the capital costs for manufacturing were high.

Barry Cinnamon, the chief executive of Westinghouse Solar, a competitor, said Solyndra and Evergreen Solar had tried new designs that turned out not to be as good as standard flat panels.

“In both cases, they made a bad bet,” he said.

Evergreen, based in Massachusetts, received tens of millions of dollars in state loans and grants in exchange for opening a factory there. In January, it announced that it was closing that factory and moving manufacturing to China. But a few weeks ago, it concluded that even the move offshore was not enough to save the company.

SpectraWatt, a small solar company near Poughkeepsie, N.Y., ceased operations earlier this year and declared bankruptcy on Aug. 19. The company, which was created as a spinoff from Intel, the computer chip maker, cited poor market conditions created by China’s subsidies to its manufacturers.

Ken Zweibel, director of the Solar Institute at the George Washington University, said solar companies in China and Germany were receiving big subsidies from their governments and were pressuring American companies.

“There’s definitely a crisis in traditional technology,” he said. But Solyndra, he said, was “a wild-card technology,” and both Solyndra and Evergreen products had “questionable attributes.”
==========
Note that POTH failed to mention the connection with a donor , , ,  rolleyes

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

Another day, another stimulus burnout. On Wednesday, solar panel maker and White House favorite Solyndra announced plans to suspend business and file for bankruptcy. Its demise is a reminder of the perils of politically directed investment.

This wasn't supposed to be the storyline. In March 2009, Solyndra was the first company to get an Energy Department loan guarantee, worth $535 million. Vice President Joe Biden spoke via closed circuit TV at the groundbreaking of the company's Fremont, California plant, and President Obama touted the thousands of jobs the stimulus money would create. Such investments were all the better, Mr. Obama said at a visit to the plant last spring, because "The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra." You know, "green jobs."

View Full Image

Bloomberg
 .Lots of venture capital companies bought into the hype, investing in green technology to piggyback their own capital on federal favoritism. Solyndra's relationship with the White House came under special scrutiny because of Solyndra backer and Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser's history as an Obama fundraiser. In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu in February, the House Energy and Commerce Committee raised concerns about the loan, noting that the company had suffered "financial setbacks," and asking for information about "whether Solyndra was the right candidate" for the loan guarantee.

The Department of Energy marched on anyway, and yesterday it said it has "always recognized that not every one of the innovative companies supported by our loans and loan guarantees would succeed." Well, sure, businesses fail, but most failures don't saddle taxpayers with as much as $535 million in potential losses.

Solyndra's story is more evidence that trendy, politically directed investments don't make for efficient allocation of capital. Beyond the immediate losses, they mean the money wasn't available for market-directed investment with a better chance to succeed. This is how you get a 1% recovery.

23671  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Generation Limbo on: September 01, 2011, 07:38:39 AM
WHEN Stephanie Kelly, a 2009 graduate of the University of Florida, looked for a job in her chosen field, advertising, she found few prospects and even fewer takers. So now she has two jobs: as a part-time “senior secretary” at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville and a freelance gig writing for Elfster.com, a “secret Santa” Web site.

But is Ms. Kelly stressed out about the lack of a career path she spent four years preparing for? Not at all. Instead, she has come to appreciate her life. “I can cook and write at my own pace,” she said. “I kind of like that about my life.”
Likewise, Amy Klein, who graduated from Harvard in 2007 with a degree in English literature, couldn’t find a job in publishing. At one point, she had applied for an editorial-assistant job at Gourmet magazine. Less than two weeks later, Condé Nast shut down that 68- year-old magazine. “So much for that job application,” said Ms. Klein, now 26.

One night she bumped into a friend, who asked her to join a punk rock band, Titus Andronicus, as a guitarist. Once, that might have been considered professional suicide. But weighed against a dreary day job, music suddenly held considerable appeal. So last spring, she sublet her room in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn and toured the country in an old Chevy minivan.

“I’m fulfilling my artistic goals,” Ms. Klein said.

Meet the members of what might be called Generation Limbo: highly educated 20-somethings, whose careers are stuck in neutral, coping with dead-end jobs and listless prospects.

And so they wait: for the economy to turn, for good jobs to materialize, for their lucky break. Some do so bitterly, frustrated that their well-mapped careers have gone astray. Others do so anxiously, wondering how they are going to pay their rent, their school loans, their living expenses — sometimes resorting to once-unthinkable government handouts.

“We did everything we were supposed to,” said Stephanie Morales, 23, who graduated from Dartmouth College in 2009 with hopes of working in the arts. Instead she ended up waiting tables at a Chart House restaurant in Weehawken, N.J., earning $2.17 an hour plus tips, to pay off her student loans. “What was the point of working so hard for 22 years if there was nothing out there?” said Ms. Morales, who is now a paralegal and plans on attending law school.

Some of Ms. Morales’s classmates have found themselves on welfare. “You don’t expect someone who just spent four years in Ivy League schools to be on food stamps,” said Ms. Morales, who estimates that a half-dozen of her friends are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A few are even helping younger graduates figure out how to apply. “We are passing on these traditions on how to work in the adult world as working poor,” Ms. Morales said.

But then there are people like Ms. Kelly and Ms. Klein, who are more laissez-faire. With the job market still bleak, their motto might as well be: “No career? No prospects? No worries!” (Well, at least for the time being.)

After all, much of the situation is out of their control, as victims of bad timing. Ms. Klein contrasted her Harvard classmates with the ones of her older sister, Lauren, who graduated from Harvard seven years earlier. Those graduates, she said, were career-obsessed and, helped along by a strong economy, aggressively pursued high-powered jobs right after graduation. (Lauren is a professor at Georgia Tech University.)

By comparison, Ms. Kelly said her classmates seemed resigned to waiting for the economic tides to turn. “Plenty of people work in bookstores and work in low-end administrative jobs, even though they have a Harvard degree,” she said. “They are thinking more in terms of creating their own kinds of life that interests them, rather than following a conventional idea of success and job security.”

The numbers are not encouraging. About 14 percent of those who graduated from college between 2006 and 2010 are looking for full-time jobs, either because they are unemployed or have only part-time jobs, according to a survey of 571 recent college graduates released in May by the Heldrich Center at Rutgers.

And then there is the slice of graduates effectively underemployed, using a college degree for positions that don’t require one or barely scraping by, working in call centers, bars or art-supply stores.

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

Page 2 of 2)



“They are a postponed generation,” said Cliff Zukin, an author of the Heldrich Center study. He noted that recent graduates seemed to be living with parents longer and taking longer to become financially secure. The journey on the life path, for many, is essentially stalled.

The Heldrich survey also found that the portion of graduates who described their first job as a “career” fell from 30 percent, if they graduated before the 2008 economic downturn (in 2006 and 2007), to 22 percent, if they graduated after the downturn (in 2009 and 2010).
In an ominous sign, those figures didn’t change much for second jobs, Dr. Zukin added, suggesting that recent graduates were stumbling from field to field. Indeed, Till Marco von Wachter, an economics professor at Columbia University who has studied the impact of recessions on young workers, said the effect on earnings took about a decade to fade.

MEANWHILE, modest jobs mean modest lives. Benjamin Shore, 23, graduated from the University of Maryland last year with a business degree and planned to go into consulting. Instead, he moved back into his parents’ house in Cherry Hill, N.J., and spent his days browsing for jobs online.

But when his parents started charging him $500 a month for rent, he moved into a windowless room in a Baltimore row house and took a $12-an-hour job at a Baltimore call center, making calls for a university, encouraging prospects to go back to school. “There’s no point in being diplomatic: it is horrible,” Mr. Shore said.

“I have a college education that I feel like I am wasting by being there,” he added. “I am supposed to do something interesting, something with my brain.” For a while, Mr. Shore ran LongevityDrugstore.com, an online drug retailer that he started, but it went nowhere. To stretch his pay check, he made beans and rice at home and drove slowly to save gas. Eventually he quit, got work as a dock hand and is now thinking of becoming a doctor.

Perhaps not surprisingly, volunteering has become a popular outlet for a generation that seeks meaning in its work. Sarah Weinstein, 25, a 2008 graduate of Boston University, manages a bar in Austin because she couldn’t find an advertising job. In her spare time, she volunteers, doing media relations for Austin Pets Alive, an animal rescue shelter.

“It’d be nice to make more money,” Ms. Weinstein said, but “I prefer it this way so that I have the extra time to spend volunteering and pursuing other things.” Volunteering, however, goes only so far. After three years without an advertising job, she is now applying to graduate school to freshen up her résumé.

Meanwhile, people forced out of the rat race are re-evaluating their values and looking elsewhere for satisfaction. “They have to revise their ideas of what they are looking for,” said Kenneth Jedding, author of “Higher Education: On Life, Landing a Job, and Everything Else They Didn’t Teach You in College.”

For Geo Wyeth, 27, who graduated from Yale in 2007, that means adopting a do-it-yourself approach to his career. After college, he worked at an Apple Store in New York as a salesclerk and trainer, while furthering his music career in an experimental rock band. He has observed, he said, a shift among his peers away from the corporate track and toward a more artistic mentality.

“You have to make opportunities happen for yourself, and I think a lot of my classmates weren’t thinking in that way,” he said. “It’s the equivalent of setting up your own lemonade stand.”
23672  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: AQ unlikely to pull off another 911 on: September 01, 2011, 07:30:35 AM
Why Al Qaeda is Unlikely to Execute Another 9/11
September 1, 2011


Related Special Topic Page
The Devolution of Al Qaeda
STRATFOR Book
The Devolution of Jihadism: From Al Qaeda to Wider Movement
By Scott Stewart

It is Sept. 1, and that means we are once again approaching the anniversary of al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States. In the 10 years that have passed since the attacks, a lot has happened and much has changed in the world, but many people can still vividly recall the sense of fear, uncertainty and helplessness they felt on that September morning. Millions of people watched United Airlines flight 175 smash into the south tower of the World Trade Center on live television. A short while later they heard that another plane had struck the Pentagon. Then they watched in horror as the World Trade Center’s twin towers buckled and collapsed to the ground.

It was, by any measure, a stunning, cataclysmic scene, a kind of terrorist theater that transformed millions of television viewers into vicarious victims. Excerpts of the just-released memoir of then-Vice President Dick Cheney demonstrate that it was not just ordinary people who were affected by the attacks; America’s leaders where shocked and shaken, too. And judging from the statements of foreign citizens and leaders in the wake of 9/11, those who proclaimed, “We are all Americans,” it was also apparent that the toll on vicarious victims did not stop at the U.S. border.

One result of this vicarious victimization and the fear and helplessness it produced was that many people became fixated on the next attack and began anxiously “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” This spawned an entire industry of fear as dire warnings were propagated by the Internet of the impending “American Hiroshima” that was certain to result when al Qaeda detonated all the nuclear devices it had hidden in major U.S. cities. Chain emails were widely circulated and recirculated quoting a dubious Israeli “security expert” who promised simultaneous catastrophic terrorist attacks against a number of American cities — attacks that never materialized outside of Hollywood productions.

Fast forward a decade and we are now commemorating 9/11’s 10th anniversary, which seems more significant somehow because it is a round number. Perhaps of more meaningful significance is that this anniversary closely follows the  death of al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011. Indeed, the buzz regarding this coincidence has caused many of our clients and readers to ask for our assessment of the terrorist threat inside the United States on this 10th anniversary of 9/11.

While we believe that today holds some degree of symbolism for many, the threat of an attack on Sept. 11, 2011, is no higher than it was on Aug. 11 or than it will be on Sept. 12, and below we explain why.


The State of Al Qaeda and the Jihad

All threats have two basic components: intent and capability. Al Qaeda’s leaders have threatened to conduct an attack more terrible than 9/11 for nearly a decade now, and the threats continue. Here’s what Ayman al Zawahiri, now al Qaeda’s No. 1, said to his followers on Aug. 15, 2011, in a message released on the internet via as-Sahab media:

“Seek to attack America that has killed the Imam of the Mujahideen and threw his corpse in the sea and then imprisoned his women and children. Seek to attack her so history can say that a criminal state had spread corruption on earth and Allah sent her his servants who made her a lesson for others and left her as a memory.”

The stated intent of al Qaeda and  the rest of the jihadist movement is, and has been, to strike the United States as hard and as often as possible. It logically follows, then, that al Qaeda would strike the United States on Sept. 11 — or any other day — if possible. With intent thus established, now we need to focus on capability.

One of the primary considerations regarding al Qaeda’s capability to strike the United States is the state of the jihadist movement itself. The efforts of the U.S. government and its allies against the core al Qaeda group, which is based in Pakistan, have left it badly damaged and have greatly curtailed its operational ability, especially its ability to conduct transnational attacks. In January we forecast that we believed the al Qaeda core was going to be marginalized on the physical battlefield in 2011 and that it would also struggle to remain relevant on the ideological battlefield. Indeed, it has been our assessment for several years now that al Qaeda does not pose a strategic threat to the United States.

Since we published our 2011 forecast, bin Laden has been killed as well as senior al Qaeda leader Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, who reportedly died in a strike by a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle Aug. 22 in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. We continue to believe that the al Qaeda core group is off balance and concerned for its security — especially in light of the intelligence gathered in the raid on bin Laden’s hideout. The core group simply does not enjoy the operational freedom it did prior to September 2001. We also believe the group no longer has the same operational capability in terms of international travel and the ability to transfer money that it had prior to 9/11.

Some people believe there is a greater chance of an attack on this year’s 9/11 anniversary because of the killing of bin Laden, while others note that al Zawahiri may feel pressure to conduct an attack in order to prove his credibility as al Qaeda’s new leader.

Our belief, as noted above, is that al Qaeda has been doing its utmost to attack the United States and has not pulled any punches. Because of this, we do not believe it possesses the ability to increase this effort beyond where it was prior to bin Laden’s death. As to the pressure on al Zawahiri, we noted in December 2007 that the al Qaeda core had been under considerable pressure to prove itself relevant for several years and that, despite this pressure, had yet to deliver. Because of this, we do not believe that the pressure to conduct a successful attack is any heavier on al Zawahiri today than it was prior to bin Laden’s death.

Finally, we believe that if al Qaeda possessed the capability to conduct a spectacular attack it would launch the attack as soon as it was operationally ready, rather than wait for some specific date. The risk of discovery is simply too great.

There are also some who still believe that al Qaeda maintains a network of “sleeper operatives” inside the United States that can be called upon to conduct a spectacular terrorist attack. We do not believe this for two reasons. First, because the pressure on the core al Qaeda leadership to conduct an attack in the United States has been so high for several years there is no reason that it would not have activated any sleepers by now. It would certainly not be in the group’s best interest to keep any such operatives idle for a decade, especially since U.S. intelligence has made such headway in rolling up the organization. Al Qaeda has been faced with a use-it-or-lose-it scenario.

Second, while there is a long history of al Qaeda and other jihadist groups employing covert operatives and inspiring jihadist grassroots operatives or lone wolves like Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, there is no history of al Qaeda employing true sleeper operatives, that is, operatives who burrow undetected into a society and then remain dormant until called upon to act. Because of this, we remain extremely skeptical that al Qaeda has ever had a sleeper network in the United States. If it had, it would have used it by now.

Would the al Qaeda core leadership like to conduct a spectacular terror attack on the 9/11 anniversary? Absolutely. Does it have the capability? It is unlikely.


A Grassroots Focus

As we noted in our annual jihadist forecast, we believe the greatest threat to the United States and the rest of the West in 2011 emanates from grassroots jihadists and regional franchises. However, the civil war in Yemen and developments in Somalia have preoccupied the attention of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Shabaab — the two regional jihadist franchises that have shown the intent and capability to conduct transnational attacks — leaving them very little opportunity to do so. Therefore, we believe the greatest threat of an attack on the 9/11 anniversary will come from the grass roots.

The bad news is that grassroots operatives can be hard to identify, especially if they operate alone; the good news is that they tend to be far less capable than well-trained, more “professional” terrorist operatives. And this means they are more likely to make critical mistakes that will allow their attacks to be detected and thwarted.

As the past few years has demonstrated, there are almost certainly grassroots jihadists operating in small cells or as lone wolves who are presently planning attacks. In fact, we know that since at least 1990 there has not been a time when some group of grassroots jihadists somewhere in the United States has not been planning some kind of attack.

Is it possible, then, that such individuals could be inspired to try to conduct an attack on the 9/11 anniversary if they can coordinate their attack cycle in order to be ready on that date. However, given the increased law enforcement vigilance that will be in place at hard targets on that day and the capabilities of most grassroots operatives, we can anticipate that such an attempt would be conducted against a soft target rather than some more difficult target such as the 9/11 Memorial or the White House. We also believe that any such attack would likely continue the trend we have seen away from bombing attacks toward more simple (and effective) armed assaults.

It must be remembered that simple terrorist attacks are relatively easy to conduct, especially if the assailant is not concerned about escaping after the attack. As jihadist groups such as AQAP have noted in their online propaganda, a determined person can conduct attacks using a variety of simple weapons, from a pickup truck to a knife, axe or gun. Jihadist ideologues have repeatedly praised Nidal Hassan and have pointed out that jihadists operating with modest expectations and acting within the scope of their training and capability can do far more damage than operatives who try to conduct big, ambitious attacks that they lack the basic skills to complete.

And while the authorities in the United States and elsewhere have been quite successful in foiling attacks over the past couple of years, there are a large number of vulnerable targets in the open societies of the West, and Western governments simply do not have the resources to protect everything. Indeed, as long as the ideology of jihadism survives, its adherents will pose a threat.

All this means that some terrorist attacks will invariably succeed, but in the current context, it is our assessment that a simple attack in the United States or some other Western country is far more likely than a complex and spectacular 9/11-style operation. In their primary areas of operation, jihadists have the capability to do more than they do transnationally.

Indeed, despite the concept of a “war on terrorism,” the phenomenon of terrorism can never be completely eliminated, and terrorist attacks can and will be conducted by a wide variety of actors (recently illustrated by the July 22 attacks in Norway). However, as we’ve previously noted, if the public will recognize that terrorist attacks are part of the human condition like cancer or hurricanes, it can take steps to deny the practitioners of terrorism the ability to terrorize.

23673  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Webster 1789 on: September 01, 2011, 07:24:30 AM
"In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate -- look to his character..." --Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education, 1789


23674  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Third Iron Dome deployed on: September 01, 2011, 07:20:55 AM
Israel: Third Iron Dome Deployed Outside Ashdod
August 31, 2011 2123 GMT
The Israeli air force deployed a third Iron Dome battery outside Ashdod on Aug. 31, The Jerusalem Post reported. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli air force for deploying the rocket defense system sooner than he expected. Earlier in 2011, the United States provided $205 million for Israel to purchase four Iron Dome batteries, each consisting of three launchers with 20 Tamir interceptors. Each battery is capable of protecting about 150 square kilometers.
23675  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: September 01, 2011, 07:20:08 AM
Looks like His Glibness is backing off from trying to speak during the Rep. candidates debate  cheesy
23676  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Filming the Police on: August 31, 2011, 10:51:25 PM
Glik v. Cunniffe (1st Cir.)

http://volokh.com/2011/08/29/first-a...ers-in-public/


Quote:
Originally Posted by from the decision:
To be sure, the right to film is not without limitations. It may be subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. We have no occasion to explore those limitations here, however. On the facts alleged in the complaint, Glik’s exercise of his First Amendment rights fell well within the bounds of the Constitution’s protections. Glik filmed the defendant police officers in the Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States and the apotheosis of a public forum. In such traditional public spaces, the rights of the state to limit the exercise of First Amendment activity are “sharply circumscribed.” Moreover, ... the complaint indicates that Glik “filmed [the officers] from a comfortable remove” and “neither spoke to nor molested them in any way” (except in directly responding to the officers when they addressed him). Such peaceful recording of an arrest in a public space that does not interfere with the police officers’ performance of their duties is not reasonably subject to limitation.

23677  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Race baiting smear of the day on: August 31, 2011, 07:28:28 PM


http://www.glennbeck.com/2011/08/31/huffpo-stoops-to-new-lows-in-beck-attack/
23678  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The imcomparable classiness of His Glibness on: August 31, 2011, 12:42:27 PM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 -- 12:41 PM EDT
-----

President Obama to Address Congress on Jobs and Economy on Sept. 7

President Obama is requesting a joint session of Congress for next Wednesday — at 8 p.m., exactly the same time as the scheduled Republican presidential debate, as it happens — to give a much anticipated speech outlining his proposals to boost employment and the economy.

In a letter to the leaders of both houses of Congress on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said it is his “intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the middle class and working Americans.”

That Mr. Obama was going to make his speech next week was expected. But it is remarkable that he would choose to do so in such an elevated setting, and at the same time that Republican candidates for president will be laying out their own vision for how to get the country out of the economic doldrums.

Read More:
http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/obama-seeks-joint-session-for-jobs-speech/?emc=na
23679  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Analysis guidance: Islamist opportunities? on: August 31, 2011, 11:38:33 AM

New Guidance


Islamist Opportunities in Libya’s Chaos

We need to be watching for an emerging Islamist threat in Libya. Specifically, drill down into the factions of the Libyan opposition and anticipate where fissures are likely to reveal themselves. Remember that the Islamist landscape in Libya has changed significantly in the past years, as Moammar Gadhafi spent considerable resources cracking down on Libyan militants and in trying to prevent blowback from Libyan fighters returning home from the Iraq war. Identify the Islamist factions emerging out of the Libyan power vacuum. Which are involved with the National Transitional Council (NTC) and which are operating with a greater degree of autonomy? Put yourself in the shoes of a former Libyan Islamic Fighting Group member aligned with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). What are you calculating at this stage of the war? Does civil war serve your interests more than continuing your support for the NTC?

Algeria’s primary concern is the rise of Islamists in Libya. We have already seen a steady rise in AQIM activity since the start of the Libyan conflict. How is the Libya situation affecting Algeria’s ongoing political struggle with Islamist militants? What will, or rather, what can Algeria and Egypt do to contain this growing threat?

Follow the standing guidance on Libya in evaluating Gadhafi’s survival strategy. In addition, determine whether Gadhafi is able to limit the water supply into Tripoli from his strongholds in Sirte or Sabha, and if so, to what degree. As this conflict drags out and the rebel movement becomes more visible, watch for emerging disagreements among participating NATO member states — disagreements that could reveal themselves in a post-Gadhafi scenario.



Read more: Intelligence Guidance: The Islamist Opening in Libya | STRATFOR
23680  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces on: August 31, 2011, 11:21:09 AM
39,000+ reads too, though some may be of folks like you and me , , ,
23681  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mexican Army operations on US territory?!? on: August 31, 2011, 11:18:50 AM
This struck me as so incredible that I ran it by a friend in a federal agency who is in a position to know about these things.  His "I'm not in a position to comment on that" left me with the clear understanding that he was giving me to understand that the report is true.-- Marc
=========================================

www.southernpulse.com


Mexico - U.S. increases role in war against drugs in Mexico

The United States is expanding their role in the war on drugs in Mexico, allowing Mexican authorities to stage cross border helicopter raids in the U.S., in addition to staging drones to eavesdrop on cartel’s cell phone communications and to capture video of drug processing labs and smuggling units. While U.S. authorities maintain these are not joint operations, rather Mexican operations staged in U.S. territory, cooperation is increasing despite historical tensions between the two nations.

23682  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Guro Crafty en Madrid, Espana, primavera 2012 on: August 31, 2011, 10:37:06 AM
Se habla de Mayo o Junio , , ,
23683  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Monterrey casino firebombing on: August 31, 2011, 10:36:25 AM


Above the Tearline: Reconstructing the Monterrey Arson Attack from Surveillance Footage
August 31, 2011 | 1347 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton demonstrates how video surveillance footage is used to reconstruct the recent arson attack in Monterrey, Mexico.


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

In this week’s Above the Tearline, we’re going to show you how agents utilize video surveillance tape to reconstruct the crime using the recent casino fire in Monterrey, Mexico, as an example.

Let’s take a look at the first video, which takes place before the crime occurs. This is surveillance footage at a gas station, and you see the suspects have purchased gas that they have placed in the back of this pickup truck in these white barrels. Note that you could digitally enhance this and get a very good tag number. You also can get a make and model the vehicle, and notice the distinct clothing and attire on this one suspect on the right. And you’re going to have a good date time stamp as when this truck pulls out of the gas station.

This is our second video surveillance tape, and notice the truck that was at the gas station pulling out onto a public highway in Monterrey. So you’re going to be able to sync up the time of the gas purchase when the vehicle pulls out on the highway. I want you to note this vehicle up in the corner. It’s a mini — a white mini with black markings. It rolls in behind the pickup truck along the same route. This vehicle will subsequently show up at the crime scene as well.

Before I roll the tape here, you will see a third vehicle rolling in behind the mini that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well. So you have the truck leading the convoy; you have the mini; and now you have a third vehicle in the mix right here. You’ll see a fourth vehicle that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well.

Our next video is taken from a security camera at the casino. Notice you’ll have the first, second and third suspect vehicles already pulled up into the parking lot, and it will be quickly followed by a fourth vehicle — right here — that I’m going to show you. Now you have all four of the vehicles seen on the highway, and you have the truck that had purchased the gasoline earlier in the videotape on the scene. You’ll see the suspects start to deploy out. As we roll the videotape, you’ll see individuals carry the cans of gasoline from the bed of the truck into the actual casino. Notice here also the countersurveillance elements here. You’ll have the security arm of the cartel members — in this case believed to be Zetas — on the scene of the attack site. They’re watching. They’re looking for cops, no doubt. You’ll see the first mini — these guys are getting kind of antsy; they’re wanting to move on. You’ll see the black smoke start to billow, and, pretty soon, the actual video footage is going to be obscured completely by the smoke billowing out.

Let’s take a look at a photograph from the crime scene from a different perspective. The video surveillance camera that we had seen where the video was shot was up in this area shooting downward. You can see the upward turn of the driveway. So the suspects came in from this direction and pulled this way. You’ll see the windows that had been broken, probably by the fire department for ventilation to let the smoke clear.

The Above the Tearline aspect with this video footage is the significant value that security videotape has to help you piece together the elements of the crime. There is also the tactical ramifications. You know they’re going to have additional attacks tomorrow or the next day in Mexico, and the police and the military can study this to learn the Zeta methodology when they go to carry out a similar attack down the road.

23684  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Monterrey casino firebombing on: August 31, 2011, 10:35:29 AM
Stratfor

Above the Tearline: Reconstructing the Monterrey Arson Attack from Surveillance Footage
August 31, 2011 | 1347 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton demonstrates how video surveillance footage is used to reconstruct the recent arson attack in Monterrey, Mexico.


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

In this week’s Above the Tearline, we’re going to show you how agents utilize video surveillance tape to reconstruct the crime using the recent casino fire in Monterrey, Mexico, as an example.

Let’s take a look at the first video, which takes place before the crime occurs. This is surveillance footage at a gas station, and you see the suspects have purchased gas that they have placed in the back of this pickup truck in these white barrels. Note that you could digitally enhance this and get a very good tag number. You also can get a make and model the vehicle, and notice the distinct clothing and attire on this one suspect on the right. And you’re going to have a good date time stamp as when this truck pulls out of the gas station.

This is our second video surveillance tape, and notice the truck that was at the gas station pulling out onto a public highway in Monterrey. So you’re going to be able to sync up the time of the gas purchase when the vehicle pulls out on the highway. I want you to note this vehicle up in the corner. It’s a mini — a white mini with black markings. It rolls in behind the pickup truck along the same route. This vehicle will subsequently show up at the crime scene as well.

Before I roll the tape here, you will see a third vehicle rolling in behind the mini that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well. So you have the truck leading the convoy; you have the mini; and now you have a third vehicle in the mix right here. You’ll see a fourth vehicle that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well.

Our next video is taken from a security camera at the casino. Notice you’ll have the first, second and third suspect vehicles already pulled up into the parking lot, and it will be quickly followed by a fourth vehicle — right here — that I’m going to show you. Now you have all four of the vehicles seen on the highway, and you have the truck that had purchased the gasoline earlier in the videotape on the scene. You’ll see the suspects start to deploy out. As we roll the videotape, you’ll see individuals carry the cans of gasoline from the bed of the truck into the actual casino. Notice here also the countersurveillance elements here. You’ll have the security arm of the cartel members — in this case believed to be Zetas — on the scene of the attack site. They’re watching. They’re looking for cops, no doubt. You’ll see the first mini — these guys are getting kind of antsy; they’re wanting to move on. You’ll see the black smoke start to billow, and, pretty soon, the actual video footage is going to be obscured completely by the smoke billowing out.

Let’s take a look at a photograph from the crime scene from a different perspective. The video surveillance camera that we had seen where the video was shot was up in this area shooting downward. You can see the upward turn of the driveway. So the suspects came in from this direction and pulled this way. You’ll see the windows that had been broken, probably by the fire department for ventilation to let the smoke clear.

The Above the Tearline aspect with this video footage is the significant value that security videotape has to help you piece together the elements of the crime. There is also the tactical ramifications. You know they’re going to have additional attacks tomorrow or the next day in Mexico, and the police and the military can study this to learn the Zeta methodology when they go to carry out a similar attack down the road.

23685  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Words fail , , , on: August 31, 2011, 10:22:33 AM
Tis a rare event, but I am speechless , , ,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUj-m6Gq_2Y&feature=player_embedded
23686  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Overcrowding in CA prisons on: August 31, 2011, 08:24:52 AM


http://www.aele.org/law/2011all09/2011-09MLJ301.pdf
23687  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Regulatory costs on: August 31, 2011, 08:17:23 AM


Among the core assumptions of modern liberalism is that future regulations have no more effect on the economy than future taxes, as if expectations don't matter and businesses don't prepare now for their costs tomorrow. President Obama's letter to John Boehner yesterday is a classic of the genre.

Last week the Speaker asked the White House to disclose any federal rules in the works with economic costs of $1 billion or more. Proposed or final rule-makings are defined as "major" when their estimated annual costs exceed $100 million. The Obama regulatory agenda for 2011 contains 219 such items. Last year, that figure was 191, versus the combined total for the first two years of the Bush Administration of 103. Amid this surge, Mr. Boehner's underlying point was that the regulatory ambitions of the Obamanauts are redefining "major," much in the way trillion is the new billion for government spending.

Mr. Obama responded by identifying seven pending major rules topping $1 billion, like the Department of Transportation's federal motor vehicle safety standard No. 111 for rearview mirrors ($3 billion) and the Environmental Protection Agency's ozone regulations (as much as $90 billion). But even that understates the costs, as Mr. Obama explains at length. The regulatory agenda is "merely a list of rules that are under general contemplation" and "merely proposed" and "includes a large number of rules that are in a highly preliminary state, with no reliable cost estimate."

In other words, regulations that the Administration plans to issue don't count. The President's health-care plan doesn't affect hiring because it doesn't really kick in until 2014, and the Dodd-Frank financial reregulation isn't a drag on lending because no one knows what dozens of agencies may do, except that it will be very expensive.

Mr. Obama adds that "it is extremely important to minimize regulatory burdens and to avoid unjustified regulatory costs." That "unjustified" is doing a lot of work in that sentence, but we'll merely note that you can't minimize or avoid them if you pretend they don't exist until they formally enter the Federal Register.

23688  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: DOJ gets into the race-baiting act on: August 31, 2011, 08:10:34 AM


By MARY KISSEL
Talk about not learning from past mistakes: A government department is again intimidating banks into lending to minority borrowers at below-market rates, all in the name of combating "discrimination." Welcome to the next housing mess.

The 1990s may have brought us supercharged politicized lending, but Eric Holder's Department of Justice is taking the game to an entirely new level, and then some. The weapon is a "fair lending" unit created in early 2010, led by special counsel Eric Halperin and overseen by Civil Rights Division head Thomas Perez.

A sampling of Mr. Perez's thinking, from April 2010 congressional testimony: "The foreclosure crisis has touched virtually every community in this country, but it disproportionately touches communities of color, in particular African-Americans and Latinos." And: "[C]ross burnings are the most overt form of discrimination and bigotry. Lending discrimination is some of the most subtle. It's what I call discrimination with a smile."

Even for the Obama administration's antidiscrimination cops, this is a shocker: A political appointee who's supposed to neutrally enforce the law loosely equates bankers with Klu Klux Klan thugs. But let's move from what may be Mr. Perez's personal bias, and focus on the broader brush strokes of the Justice Department—which seem designed to paint bankers into a corner.

Lenders who discriminate on the basis of race and those who make decisions on the basis of credit scores are two entirely different animals. The former our society doesn't permit, for moral reasons; the latter we encourage because it's fundamental to capitalism. A lender will go bust if he can't distinguish between a risky loan and a good loan. Poor people aren't well-served by getting loans they can't afford.

Historically, fair-lending cases have fallen into roughly two categories: "price discrimination" cases, in which lenders are accused of charging minorities higher prices than other clients, and "red-lining" suits, in which they are accused of intentionally failing to serve minority communities. Sounds straightforward for those who seek to obey the law.

View Full Image

AFP/Getty Images
 
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez testifies before a Senate committee on civil rights, March 29.
.But not when Justice revives "disparate impact" theory: the idea that even if lenders don't actively discriminate, they can still be sued if the cumulative effect of their actions implies discrimination. The latter is usually "proved" through statistical analysis (and the old standard—discriminatory intent—is thrown out the window). The Bush administration largely declined to pursue these cases.

And for good reason. Consider two AIG subsidiaries that Justice alleged "failed to supervise or monitor brokers in setting broker fees" between 2003 and 2006, but that Justice didn't pursue aggressively until the Obama administration. The government claimed that, in aggregate, African-Americans were charged more than other ethnic groups. AIG settled in March 2010 while it was under federal ownership, and Mr. Perez gained a big legal stick in price-discrimination cases. Suddenly lenders may be held liable for other people's business practices, even if those business practices aren't individually discriminatory.

Justice is pushing the legal envelope on red-lining, too. In a July 1 letter to Cardinal Financial Corp., Justice contends that after the bank bought George Mason Mortgage in 2004, it "failed to serve predominantly black areas on an equal basis with predominantly white areas" by not opening branches in majority-black areas or engaging in "effective outreach activities." Justice wants the bank to add nine counties to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-approved geographic area where Cardinal does business.

Related Video
 Editorial writer Mary Kissel on Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
..Never mind that the FDIC in the past gave kudos to Cardinal for its lending practices. Justice is now accusing Cardinal of failing to open branches and achieve racial loan quotas in counties that its federal regulator never before contended should be the focus of its lending. We won't know the full facts of this complaint unless it goes to court. But what Justice is up to sounds like the same government-directed, quota-based lending push that brought us the last housing boom and bust.

Many companies are simply rolling over and paying once they realize the extent of the possible PR horror show. "Banker" is a bad word in today's political environment. Small and midsize banks depend heavily on their reputation and community ties, and they can't afford to be labelled racist. Many can't afford prolonged legal cases either, and the mere prospect of fighting the feds is intimidating. Mr. Perez knows all this.

Justice is employing some unusual tactics, too, including asking banks to sign confidentiality agreements in certain circumstances. Independent Community Bankers of America chief lobbyist Camden Fine complained in a letter to Mr. Holder Monday about this practice and its "troubling lack of transparency," adding that it's hard for banks to "assess and refine" their practices if they don't know Justice's legal arguments.

But Justice is on a roll. In less than two years, the government has settled with AIG ($6.1 million), PrimeLending ($2 million), Midwest BankCentre ($1.5 million) and Citizens Republic Bancorp ($3.5 million), to name a few. More cases are in the hopper, and bigger banks are now in Justice's sights.

All of this may boost the standing of Messrs. Perez and Halperin in the Obama administration. It's less good for the rest of us. These settlements include requirements that banks lend to minorities at below-market rates and, in effect, dish out cash to politically favored "community groups." It's a good bet that many of these loans will eventually go bad.

The Justice Department—or the bank, with the long arm of Justice hanging over it—chooses where that money goes. A Michigan judge even went so far as to call one proposed settlement "extortion." He might be onto something.

Ms. Kissel is a member of the Journal's editorial board.

23689  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: An infrastructure Fannie Mae on: August 31, 2011, 08:06:57 AM

Here's a novel idea: Have Congress create a "bank" that could borrow huge sums with only a small federal outlay and would be independent of any political interference. If you believe in this miracle, you probably thought Fannie Mae was a private company that wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime.

We're referring to Washington's latest marketing tool to sell spending to a skeptical public, a new federal "infrastructure bank." For the low, low price of $30 billion or so, President Obama says Congress can conjure hundreds of billions in new "grants and loans" to rebuild "roads, bridges, and ports and broadband lines and smart grids."

He says the bank would put "all those construction workers" back to work and "be good for the economy not just for next year or the year after that, but for the next 20 or 30 years." In a cats and dogs living together moment, the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO are both in favor. Since both unions and construction companies would be beneficiaries, this alone ought to give taxpayers pause.

This is the Fannie Mae model applied to public works. The new bank would be a government-sponsored enterprise, or GSE, whether or not anyone admits it. The bank would have an implicit subsidy for its debt because it is backed by the government. And the debt it issued would be "off-budget," which means it wouldn't show up in annual outlays. When she first proposed the concept in 2008, Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro explicitly described the bank as a "public private partnership like Fannie Mae."

Such an outfit will inevitably be politicized, as similar examples have been all over the world. Japan's postal bank has been used for decades to finance public works. Japan's roads and bridges are grand but its economy has grown little in 20 years. Agribanks, regional development banks, Brazil's BNDES national bank have all become vehicles for the political allocation of credit.

Ms. DeLauro's bill admits as much, stating that the bank must take into account the "economic, environmental, social benefits and costs" of the projects seeking financial assistance. Among the considerations: responsible employment practices, use of renewable energy, reduction in carbon emissions, poverty and inequality reduction, training for low-income workers and public health benefits.

No one disputes that American public works need improving, and government has been spending huge sums to do so. As the nearby table shows, between 2001 and 2011 federal "public physical capital investment outlays" more than doubled to $330 billion from $142 billion. Every major area of infrastructure—transportation, Army Corps of Engineers, energy—is up by at least 75% in a decade.

The scandal is that we buy so little brick and mortar with all this money. Earmarking has wasted billions and is an inevitable byproduct of a system that collects federal taxes and allows Congressmen to send it back to their districts. The bank is supposed to eliminate earmarking, but the Members will surely find a way to influence the bank's lending too.

Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro described the infrastructure bank as a 'public private partnership like Fannie Mae.'

Taxpayers also get less for their money because federal projects must follow Davis-Bacon Act rules that require "prevailing wages." This law has come to mean de facto union wages on all public projects, inflating costs by 10% to 30%, depending on the project and location. Democrats and Republicans both refuse to relax Davis-Bacon rules, and the infrastructure bank would require them. The bank would also divert dollars to the mass transit lobby, which favors rail projects that serve a tiny fraction of commuters.

Instead of a Washington-centric bank that picks winners and losers, Congress would be wise to move in the opposite direction: devolving most public-works decisions to the state and local levels so users decide whether they want to finance a new school, bridge or water system. The feds can focus on maintaining the interstate highway system and then let states and localities choose what to fund. Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and others have bills that would let states opt out of the federal highway program in return for getting back the federal gas tax money that its residents send to Washington.

GOP Congressman John Mica of Florida, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is no fan of a federal infrastructure bank. He says he wants more state and local control of funds because "that way they won't have to come to Washington to get approval."

Mr. Mica is dealing with a reality that eludes many in both parties: With a $1.28 trillion deficit, Uncle Sam can't afford to keep serving as paymaster to states and localities. The infrastructure bank is merely a new gimmick to maintain the old system.

23690  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Solar energy-- As surely as the sun rises in the west, on: August 31, 2011, 08:00:33 AM
This could just as easily have gone in the Liberal Fascism thread:

By RYAN TRACY
With solar panel prices falling and a prominent manufacturer in bankruptcy, the U.S. solar industry has been hard-pressed for good news. But Washington continues to hand out loan guarantees.

The Department of Energy says the guarantees will create U.S. jobs in the green-energy industry. But critics say the government is trying to pick winners instead of leaving that function to the marketplace, citing the struggles of several companies that received government funds.
 
SoloPower plans to use a $197 million federal loan guarantee for expansion. Above, one of the company's modules is installed on a roof.

The White House this month made final a $197 million guarantee for SoloPower Inc., a maker of lightweight solar panels in San Jose, Calif. Two more guarantees for solar manufacturers valued at a combined $425 million are due to be approved before a Sept. 30 deadline.

The funding comes from the 2009 economic-stimulus package, which set aside enough cash to back about $60 billion in loans for renewable energy and transmission projects. Congress twice has raided those funds, leaving enough to back $25 billion in loans. The DOE has until the Sept. 30 end of the federal government's fiscal year to dole out the funds or lose them.

While demand for solar panels is rising, competition from Chinese manufacturers has driven down prices and made it hard for U.S. makers to compete.

Evergreen Solar Inc. this month filed for bankruptcy protection after closing a Massachusetts plant built with the help of state and local subsidies. Evergreen's panel technology, which uses less polysilicon than competitors do, looked like a good bet in 2008, when prices of the material were high. Polysilicon's price has plummeted since.

Solyndra Inc., which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the DOE to build a factory in northern California in 2009, last year had to close an older factory and lay off workers.

Some European countries subsidize solar power and other renewable energy sources by guaranteeing producers electricity rates that will help offset the producers' costs, which are then passed on to consumers. But proposals for such "feed-in tariffs" in the U.S. have stalled at the federal level.

Jesse Pichel, a clean-energy analyst at investment bank Jefferies & Co., said feed-in tariffs would give market forces a greater role in picking winning technologies. "The government really should not be picking technology bets," Mr. Pichel said. "It's fraught with potential failures."

The DOE acknowledges that loan guarantees don't always pan out but are worthwhile nonetheless. "While not every company will succeed in this competitive industry, we believe that solar generation and manufacturing play a vital role in helping America win the clean energy race," said DOE spokesman Damien LaVera.

To compete with larger manufacturers in China, SoloPower is targeting a niche of commercial and industrial buildings. The company's panels are lighter and potentially less expensive to install on rooftops because they are built without glass, said Chief Executive Tim Harris. "You want to get as much power per roof as you can. We can simply get more panels on the roof," he said.

SoloPower will use the government-backed loan to build a plant in Portland, Ore., and to expand a factory in San Jose, Calif. The company expects the plants to employ 450 people at full production.

Without the guarantee, "the jobs would have ended up offshore, almost certainly," Mr. Harris said. "I don't think there would have been any way to get this financing here in the states."

As the loan-guarantee program runs out of stimulus funds, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are looking for changes.

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.) has said the loan-guarantee program "has not worked as well as we had hoped." The program, set up by Congress in 2005, didn't receive major funding until 2009.

Mr. Bingaman has introduced a bill to create an independently run clean-energy bank that could make direct loans or take a stake in projects. In theory, it would sustain itself after receiving about $10 billion in start-up funds from Congress. The full Energy Committee approved the proposal in July, but it still lacks a funding mechanism and has yet to be taken up on the Senate floor.

23691  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Desperately seeking transparency in oil and other commodities on: August 31, 2011, 07:55:21 AM
No mention here of the unusually low margin rates , , ,
===================

By IANTHE JEANNE DUGAN And LIAM PLEVIN
A battle is heating up over whether investors in oil and other commodities markets should be required to lift the veil of secrecy that shrouds their trading bets.

The debate has simmered in the three years since oil prices spiked to record highs in 2008, sparking concerns that speculators were driving the move. But it intensified in recent weeks after The Wall Street Journal published confidential regulatory data that identified some of the biggest players in commodities markets, and big chunks of their positions, during that historic rally.

Unlike the stock market, there are no rules mandating public disclosure of commodities positions held by investors.

Industry groups representing traders in the market have opposed releasing any data that would expose the identities and positions of any firm or individual in the commodities markets because they say it would unfairly give away their trading strategies. They have called for a probe into how the information became public.

Others have seized on the data to push for more transparency, including the release of such information on a regular basis.

Tyson Slocum, a member of an advisory committee to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and director of the energy group at advocacy organization Public Citizen, is leading a push to force commodities investors to publicly disclose the size and nature of their trading positions.

View Full Image

TKence France-Presse/Getty Images
 
The debate over the role of investors exploded again this year when oil once again topped $100 a barrel and the Obama administration in April launched an inquiry into oil-market speculation. Above, oil pumps in operation near central Los Angeles, Calif, in June.
.On Wednesday, Mr. Slocum plans to release a letter to members of Congress, as well as CFTC commissioners, seeking regular disclosure of data.

"We feel that regular disclosure of this level of data serves a crucial role in keeping markets transparent and providing critical information to decision makers and the public," Mr. Slocum said.

His group is pressing the CFTC and lawmakers to make this kind of disclosure mandatory, similar to how the Federal Reserve releases minutes of meetings within a certain time period.

Chilling Effect
Many people who buy and sell securities tied to oil, however, say that releasing the data could be harmful to their trading strategies and could prompt some to reduce their activity, having a potentially chilling effect on the market.

The Futures Industry Association has said that the release of the 2008 data "poses a serious threat" to the confidence of those in the market, who believed they were reporting their positions to regulators privately. The association said it will ask the CFTC to investigate whether any of its rules governing the handling of confidential data have been violated.

A CFTC spokesman declined to comment.

The CFTC collected the data during a "special call" in 2008, when it was attempting to figure out what was causing swings in the price of securities tied to oil. It used the data as the basis for a controversial report that concluded that supply and demand was behind the gyrations, not investors who neither produce nor consume oil on a large scale—a group critics call "speculators."

Rare View
The list contained more than 200 firms and traders, ranging from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Yale University to a Danish pension fund, giving a rare view into the murky world of commodities trading.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has distributed the CFTC information, is among lawmakers pushing regulators to limit investments in oil securities by speculators.

Keeping the names private, some argue, leaves the public at a disadvantage.

Amy Myers-Jaffe, a Rice University professor who co-wrote a report questioning the CFTC's methodology for weighing the impact of speculators, said the names of commodity investors should be made public information. "The only people who don't know who's in the commodities market is the public," Ms. Myers-Jaffe said. "I wouldn't hold my deposit in a bank with a giant position in the oil market. It could change on a dime with a shift in geopolitical position," she added

The debate over the role of investors exploded again this year when oil once again topped $100 a barrel and the Obama administration in April launched an inquiry into oil-market speculation.

Oil prices have since fallen again, and settled Tuesday up 1.9%, at $88.90 a barrel. But prices remain a concern for policy makers focused on how to stimulate economic growth, because of they can act as a drag on economic activity.

Write to Ianthe Jeanne Dugan at ianthe.dugan@wsj.com and Liam Plevin at liam.plevin@wsj.com

23692  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, 1791 on the General Welfare clause on: August 31, 2011, 07:27:10 AM
"They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please." --Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on National Bank, 1791
23693  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison to Monroe, 1786 on the limits of the principle of majority rule on: August 31, 2011, 07:18:30 AM


"There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.... In fact it is only reestablishing under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right...." --James Madison, letter to James Monroe, 1786


23694  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The coverup continues , , , on: August 31, 2011, 07:03:55 AM


http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/gunwalker-cover-up-accelerates-ken-melson-reassigned/?singlepage=true
23695  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Negotiations with the Taliban on: August 31, 2011, 06:15:58 AM
The Afghan Taliban's Strategic Conciliatory Turn

Afghanistan’s Taliban movement was negotiating directly with the United States until the nervous regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai used media leaks to disrupt the talks in June, an AP report claimed Monday, quoting unnamed American and Afghan officials.

The AP report said negotiations were taking place not just with Tayyeb Agha, a representative of Taliban founder and chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, but also with Ibrahim Haqqani, the brother of Jalaluddin Haqqani, head of the so-called Haqqani Network — the branch of the Afghan jihadist movement active in the country’s east. Normally STRATFOR takes such reports with a strong dose of skepticism, but in a highly unusual communique, Mullah Omar himself confirmed that his group had been in negotiations with Washington.

“In today’s message, the Taliban chief referred to the Islamic Emirate as a non-state actor with no interest in ‘monopolizing power.’”
In a lengthy message on the occasion of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the Taliban leader claimed that the talks were not aimed at reaching a political settlement but intended to secure the release of prisoners. More importantly, Mullah Omar went on to justify negotiations as a legitimate means of trying to establish his group’s vision of an Islamic polity in the country. Thus far the Taliban position has been to seek the re-establishment of their regime, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, toppled by the United States in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

In today’s message, the Taliban chief referred to the Islamic Emirate as a non-state actor with no interest in “monopolizing power.” In fact, Mullah Omar said that all ethnic groups (including the non-Pashtun minorities of the north who are the historic enemies of the Taliban) would be part of a post-NATO Afghan government. The Taliban chief added that a future coalition government would not allow the developments that followed the collapse of communism — a time he categorized as when the country was roundly plundered and the state apparatus damaged entirely. “Strict measures will be taken to safeguard all national installations, government departments and the advancements that have occurred in the private sector,” he said.

A man known as a key international symbol for violent extremism, Mullah Omar also talked about economics, saying that his country had abundant arable land, rich mines and large energy resources with high potential. He said these resources could be invested under peaceful and stable circumstances and could help Afghanistan overcome poverty, unemployment and the social and economic problems arising from the economic ills. Clearly, this statement stands in sharp contrast to past communiques by Mullah Omar that have been heavy on ideological rhetoric while warning opponents of his jihadist militia’s capability for violence. So, why this major shift in attitude?

The answer involves the Taliban’s emerging realization that as the United States and its NATO allies begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, they are leaving behind a country far different from the one the Soviets left when they withdrew. If the communist state that the Soviets left behind was able to hold its own for three years before the much larger and more well-endowed Islamist insurgent alliance was able to topple it, then the Taliban realize that they face an even greater challenge with the Karzai regime. Even after they push Western forces out of the country, the Taliban are expecting a prolonged civil war with their opponents before they can regain power.

Assuming that scenario occurs, the Taliban would still be considered a global pariah with intense international isolation. Indeed, the group remembers how the country was sanctioned during their first stint in power. By opting for negotiations, the Taliban, who remain the single largest political force in the country, hope to dominate a post-NATO political dispensation and avoid international isolation. This tactic does not mean that the Taliban are moderating; rather they are adjusting to constraints that limit their ability to achieve their goals of resurging to power.

23696  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: August 31, 2011, 06:12:43 AM
Venezuela - Chávez meets with Russian Minister; produces action plan for bilateral cooperation

On 24 August 2011 Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergery Lavrov to produce a Plan of Action outlining the two nations’ bilateral cooperation efforts through 2014. Discussions centered on a US$4 billion loan to equip the National Armed Forces and improve Venezuelan defense capabilities, including a modern air-defense system based on Russian technology. Also discussed was the expansion of the joint Venezuelan-Russian bank to finance bilateral socioeconomic development projects with allies as a counterpart to the World Bank.

Venezuela – Iran; Venezuela begin construction of petrochemical complex in Iran

On 21 August 2011, The Managing Director of the National Iranian Petrochemical Organization Abdolhossein Bayat stated that Iran and Venezuela began construction of a petrochemical complex in Bushehr, Iran, pursuant to an agreement signed in October 2010. The agreement stipulates that Venezuelan oil company PDVSA will be able to participate in the Iranian South Pars natural gas field. The two countries are discussing a similar construction project in Venezuela
23697  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: August 31, 2011, 06:12:01 AM


Venezuela - Chávez meets with Russian Minister; produces action plan for bilateral cooperation

On 24 August 2011 Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergery Lavrov to produce a Plan of Action outlining the two nations’ bilateral cooperation efforts through 2014. Discussions centered on a US$4 billion loan to equip the National Armed Forces and improve Venezuelan defense capabilities, including a modern air-defense system based on Russian technology. Also discussed was the expansion of the joint Venezuelan-Russian bank to finance bilateral socioeconomic development projects with allies as a counterpart to the World Bank.

MARC:  Perhaps this sheds some light on recent moves by Chavez to move Venezuelan reserves , , ,  Note a word from our State Dept or the White House about Russian military sales in the western hemisphere , , , perhaps the fact that we no rely upon Russia to get the majority of our supplies to our troops in Afghanistan has something to do with this?

Venezuela – Iran; Venezuela begin construction of petrochemical complex in Iran

On 21 August 2011, The Managing Director of the National Iranian Petrochemical Organization Abdolhossein Bayat stated that Iran and Venezuela began construction of a petrochemical complex in Bushehr, Iran, pursuant to an agreement signed in October 2010. The agreement stipulates that Venezuelan oil company PDVSA will be able to participate in the Iranian South Pars natural gas field. The two countries are discussing a similar construction project in Venezuela
23698  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Operaciones del ejercito Mexicano en los EU?!? on: August 31, 2011, 06:07:40 AM
www.southernpulse.com


Mexico - President Calderon calls for U.S. action following attack in Monterrey

Following the attack on Casino Royal, which killed more than 50 in Monterrey on 25 August 2011, Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed the nation on 26 August 2011, condemning the attacks and calling them acts of terrorism. Calderon placed some blame on the United States, citing the fact that the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of drugs and leading weapons retailer, stating that these activities finance the criminal activity plaguing Mexico. Calderon implored both the U.S. President and Congress to take action to prevent the transfer of profits from drug sales back to Mexico and also to curb the criminal sale of high-powered assault rifles.

MARC:  Pues hay que hablar con nuestro Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, and Firearms con respeto al ultimo frase.  angry

Mexico - U.S. increases role in war against drugs in Mexico

The United States is expanding their role in the war on drugs in Mexico, allowing Mexican authorities to stage cross border helicopter raids in the U.S., in addition to staging drones to eavesdrop on cartel’s cell phone communications and to capture video of drug processing labs and smuggling units. While U.S. authorities maintain these are not joint operations, rather Mexican operations staged in U.S. territory, cooperation is increasing despite historical tensions between the two nations.

MARC:  !Eso me parece increible,; no tengamos ninguna noticicia al respeto aqui!

89102
23699  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Southern Pulse.com: Mexican Army operations on US soil?!?!?!?!? on: August 31, 2011, 06:03:16 AM
Mexico - President Calderon calls for U.S. action following attack in Monterrey

Following the attack on Casino Royal, which killed more than 50 in Monterrey on 25 August 2011, Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed the nation on 26 August 2011, condemning the attacks and calling them acts of terrorism. Calderon placed some blame on the United States, citing the fact that the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of drugs and leading weapons retailer, stating that these activities finance the criminal activity plaguing Mexico. Calderon implored both the U.S. President and Congress to take action to prevent the transfer of profits from drug sales back to Mexico and also to curb the criminal sale of high-powered assault rifles.

MARC: Better talk to the BATF about the last point , , ,

Mexico - U.S. increases role in war against drugs in Mexico

The United States is expanding their role in the war on drugs in Mexico, allowing Mexican authorities to stage cross border helicopter raids in the U.S., in addition to staging drones to eavesdrop on cartel’s cell phone communications and to capture video of drug processing labs and smuggling units. While U.S. authorities maintain these are not joint operations, rather Mexican operations staged in U.S. territory, cooperation is increasing despite historical tensions between the two nations.
23700  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: August 31, 2011, 05:57:34 AM
Prayers for a particular piece of news , , ,
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