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23701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What about the El Al approach? on: November 17, 2010, 10:49:24 AM
So, (working from memory here) what happened to in the matter of those 30,000 scan-fotos wrongly saved by the US Marshals Service at some courthouse?   Any heads roll?

===========
"The Transportation Security Administration's demeaning new 'enhanced pat-down' procedures are a direct result of the Obama administration's willful blindness to the threat from Islamic radicals. While better tools are available to keep air travelers safe, they would involve recognizing the threat for what it is, which is something the White House will never do. El Al, Israel's national airline, employs a smarter approach. Any airline representing the state of Israel is a natural -- some might say preeminent -- target for terrorist attacks. Yet El Al has one of the best security records in the world and doesn't resort to wide-scale use of methods that would under other circumstances constitute sexual assault. The Israelis have achieved this track record of safety by employing sophisticated intelligence analysis which allows them to predict which travelers constitute a possible threat and which do not. Resources are then focused on the more probable threats with minimal intrusion on those who are likely not to be terrorists. Here in the United States, these sophisticated techniques have roundly been denounced as discriminatory 'profiling.' ... TSA believes an 80-year-old grandmother deserves the same level of scrutiny at an airport terminal checkpoint as a 19-year-old male exchange student from Yemen. This policy not only is a waste of time and resources, it denies reality. ... Despite all the government bureaucracy and TSA's intrusive inspection practices, [al Qaeda underwear bomber Umar Farouk] Abdulmutallab's attack was only foiled because of a faulty bomb and the actions of alert passengers. Now all passengers have to pay the price by having their privacy (and their privates) invaded, which is the Obama administration's alternative to instituting a policy that will target the source of the problem." --The Washington Times

23702  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Body Language on: November 17, 2010, 10:40:17 AM
Reading body language and facial cues is a very important skill that can often have personal safety implications.

Recently my wife and I have become quite enchanted by the TV show The Mentalist, whose lead character is a high IQ fellow assisting a police homicide squad peopled by model beautiful cops (well, it is in California cheesy)  Amongst his skills is the ability to read body language and facial cues very well.

Similarly there is the TV show "Lie to me" which is based upon the work of this Dr. Paul Ekman http://www.paulekman.com/
23703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 17, 2010, 01:03:59 AM
"I'd expect that if any footage of anyone's body parts end up on the net from a TSA employee, that employee will trade in their TSA uniform for a BOP inmate uniform."

Coming from the hard-bitten practical LEO that you are, that is remarkabliy naive  cheesy 

23704  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 17, 2010, 12:59:41 AM
The French women article's reference to yogurt prompts me to proffer a pet theory of mine:

We are continuously dosed by antibiotics via our consumption of industrial poultry and beef.  The results is our natural intestinal flora is disrupted and diminished.  This I think has consequences-- one of which may be to increase digestive disorders and susceptibility to weight gain.


23705  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Wuss Test on: November 17, 2010, 12:44:31 AM
From a friend currently training police in Iraq:
======================================================
Well on this the final morning here I decided to give my partner the "wuss test."

Since his arrival here 6-weeks ago he has been like a clingy bitch (no offense meant to women) when it comes to being alone in the IZ.  Most of the contractors in the IZ have to get around by themselves at some point.  I personally know a 19-yeard old kid, a 57-year old woman, and a limping 65-year old man (who walks around the 'hood) who have no problem getting around alone as needed.  But not my partner.  Now mind you I love the man, but today was the "wuss test."

I know he is starving when he gets up in the morning.  It's all he can think of doing...to go eat.  This morning I advised him I had decided I was going to pass on breakfast.  It took him a lot of thinking before he made his decision (which I predicted with accuracy) that he was "going to pass on breakfast also."

It must be killing him right now.  Hungry as hell and has the power to kill those hunger pangs (by simply getting in the car and driving over to the DFAC by himself).  But he just won't do it.

And so, by social engineering, the bottom line is what it is.  And it is always good to know the level of cojones that the person who "has your back" really has, and to know it before cruch time comes.
23706  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 16, 2010, 06:54:54 PM
Next Speaker of the House Boener (pronounced "boner" if I am not mistaken-- many obvious jokes here  cheesy) will be riding commercial.  If he gets scanned so as to prove there is no profiling, what are the odds of his penis showing up on youtube?
23707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The War on Drugs on: November 16, 2010, 06:52:33 PM
I think it makes sense to realize that there are drugs that by-pass free will.  Certainly not pot, but meth would appear to be a contender.  As such, legalization may not make sense.
23708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: November 16, 2010, 06:48:56 PM
JDN:

Agreed.  This is madness.
23709  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: November 16, 2010, 11:42:15 AM
Hat tip to BBG, this from the WOD thread

A Gangster With Oil
 
Posted 11/15/2010 06:57 PM ET

Colombian police escort suspected Venezuelan drug lord Walid Makled Garcia in Bogota last August. He says Hugo Chavez protected his drug empire. AP View Enlarged Image

Geopolitics: Years ago, Americans worried about Venezuela's leftist Hugo Chavez becoming a new Castro — with oil. It happened. Now he's filling his cabinet with drug lords, and the threat morphs into something creepier.

Last week, Chavez promoted Major General Henry Rangel Silva to general-in-chief, the top position in the Venezuelan military command.

It was a rogue act because, in 2008, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control named Rangel and two other Chavez loyalists as "Tier II Kingpins" for material support of drug trafficking.

The U.S. designation came of an administrative process so strict and thorough the U.S. government could indict someone if it's right — and be sued if it's wrong. There have been no lawsuits.

Rangel is said to provide material support for Colombia's FARC communist terrorists, who control 60% of Colombia's cocaine production, pushing it into Mexico and other destinations.

With Mexico endangered by local cartels' trade with Venezuela's government-linked suppliers, the link to Mexico's drug war is very real. And it's a national security problem for the U.S. — a big one.

The promotion shows Chavez is surrounding himself with drug lords. Most leaders would expel someone with those credentials. Not Chavez. He almost seems to be flaunting Rangel and others like him. One can only conclude that Venezuela is now a narcostate.

With seven other Chavez loyalists also on the Treasury's list (but not yet announced) the rot is far deeper than the U.S. wants to admit. The only real question left is what will we do about it?

It's important because drug lords have turned Mexico a battlefield. Violence on the U.S.-Mexico frontier began in 2005, the same year Chavez stopped cooperating with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon began his six-year term by declaring war against the drug cartels. So far, it has cost 30,000 lives, and the war's now spilling over our borders.

Two Fridays ago, Mexican marines killed Antonio Cardenas, the chief of the Gulf Cartel, in a shootout that shut the U.S. border with Mexico down. Cardenas' war was fueled by people like Rangel.

Now, there are even people who can prove it. Last August, Colombian forces captured a major Venezuelan drug lord named Walid Makled-Garcia, who'd had a falling out with Chavez.

Makled was so high-ranking the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration last week declared him the "King of Kingpins" after his indictment in New York. Until this summer, Makled commanded Venezuela's air and seaports. His gigantic jetliners loaded with tons of cocaine flew from "the presidential ramp" headed for Mexico.

Makled says he kept records and tapes of his encounters with Rangel, and other top Venezuelan military and intelligence leaders, bribing them to let his drug jets take off. He made $1.4 billion from his work — about the same amount as Chapo Guzman, Mexico's richest cartel chief, whom Forbes magazine estimates is worth $1 billion.

In 2006, Makled's records show, a DC-9 loaded with five and half tons of cocaine crashed in Mexico. It was discovered by Mexican police before it could reach its "buyer" — who happened to be the Sinaloa drug lord Guzman, known for his shootouts in Juarez.

There's also a political aspect emerging in that Mexican war: In recent news item about a child assassins turning up in Mexico, Mexican police report that these gangs are being protected by Chavez's leftist political ally in Mexico, the PRD Party. If PRD continues in this way, it may soon become a leftist drug insurgency, like FARC.

It all pushes the question of what to do about Chavez to a new level of urgency. Right now, Colombia must decide whether to extradite Makled to the U.S. to tell everything he knows about Chavez, or to send him to Venezuela, where he is likely to be killed.

Chavez asked for Makled first, and the murders he's charging him with are graver than the U.S.' cocaine-smuggling charges. Chavez badly needs to silence him to promote his generals.

The Obama administration has its own dilemma — does it want Makled to talk, or does it just want to sweep him and his shocking revelations under the rug as war continues to rage in Mexico?

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/553849/201011151857/A-Gangster-With-Oil.aspx
23710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Indefinite detention that we all can live with on: November 16, 2010, 11:03:47 AM
Hat tip to BBG on the Cognitive Dissonance thread; pasting here as well:

Obama Caves on Civilian Trial for KSM
It turns out indefinite detention isn’t so bad after all.

Let’s review the state of play, shall we?

Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama blasted the Bush administration’s decision to treat al-Qaeda terrorists as enemy combatants and detain them without trial at Guantanamo Bay. Now, two years into his presidency, Obama has decided to treat al-Qaeda terrorists as enemy combatants and detain them without trial at Guantanamo Bay.

The media is reporting that the administration will hold Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 plotter indefinitely, granting them neither a civilian nor a military trial. This determination, leaked over the weekend, appears to be a rebuff of Attorney General Eric Holder, who had intimated a few days earlier that a civilian prosecution was imminent.

Here’s the difference between Presidents Bush and Obama: The former’s strategy was driven by weighty national-security concerns and maintained despite ceaseless condemnation from the Obama Left. Obama’s strategy — or, more accurately, his drift — is driven by naked political concerns, and his base’s media megaphone has gone nearly silent.

After the most devastating attack ever carried out on American soil by a foreign enemy, President Bush determined that the Clinton administration’s preferred strategy of treating al-Qaeda as a mere law-enforcement problem had been unserious. The criminal-justice system is tailored to address ordinary crimes committed in peacetime America. It is designed to favor the defendants: Americans are presumed innocent and armed by the Constitution with protections that, quite intentionally, make it difficult for the government to investigate, prosecute, convict, and incarcerate. By itself, civilian justice is incapable of neutralizing wartime enemies. Unlike everyday crooks, foreign terrorists operate from overseas redoubts where American law does not apply, where foreign regimes like Iran and the Taliban are only too happy to abet them.

This is not hypothesis; it is our experience. The Clinton Justice Department indicted Osama bin Laden himself in June 1998. He responded by orchestrating, with impunity, the August 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa, the October 2000 Cole bombing, and the 9/11 attacks. Al-Qaeda’s onslaught was a war, not a crime wave. President Bush was hardly alone in thinking so: Congress overwhelming authorized combat operations against al-Qaeda, and it has continued to authorize and fund them for nearly a decade. Combat operations necessarily imply not only the killing of enemy combatants but their capture and detention, with the corollary of military-commission trials for those who have committed provable war crimes.

The Bush strategy has worked. Its detractors among self-styled “human-rights activists” — who seem far more concerned about the humans doing the killing than the humans doing the dying — point to the spotty record of commission trials in contending otherwise. But commissions constitute only a small element of the Bush approach, and doubtless the least important one.

The Bush strategy’s key components are twofold. First: Kill, capture, and defund terrorists overseas, thereby denying them safe haven and taking them out before they can act. Second: Detain those who have been captured both to maximize the potential for acquiring fresh intelligence and to thin out the ranks of highly trained jihadists. The enemy may be able to replace terrorists who have been captured or killed, but the new recruits cannot replicate their level of competence.

It is a sad fact that the tireless, heroic work of our military continues without our paying it much mind. It is thus common for Americans to look at all our patent vulnerabilities — subway systems, power grids, sports stadiums, etc. — and wonder: “Why haven’t there been more 9/11s?” But this is no mystery. Dead and detained jihadists cannot execute attacks. A terror network worried about drone strikes on its training camps does not have the luxury of taking the months it takes to plan and execute significant plots. Fresh intelligence from high-level captives disrupts plots in addition to making it extraordinarily difficult for al-Qaeda to embed capable cells in our homeland.

While President Obama has gradually and grudgingly made the Bush strategy his own, he lacks the grace to say so, much less to give his predecessor credit. But it is remarkable to consider how far Obama has come. In June 2008, with the campaign in high gear, he ripped Bush, complaining that

in previous terrorist attacks [such as] the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated. And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world.
This critique was astonishing in its ignorance. In most previous terrorist attacks, we had not been able to arrest those responsible — they had been able to keep attacking. Even in the one example Obama cited, the 1993 WTC bombing, several of those responsible were able to flee because civilian due-process protections made it impossible to hold them. Some were never apprehended — and KSM, who was complicit in the WTC bombing and several subsequent plots, was finally captured thanks to wartime operations, not law-enforcement protocols.

Moreover, detaining enemy combatants without trial is entirely consistent with the “rule of law” that applies in wartime. Indeed, the Obama Justice Department has found itself making just this argument, albeit without fanfare. In short, indefinite detention at Gitmo “destroyed our credibility” only with Bush-deranged leftists — and isn’t it amazing how credulous they’ve suddenly become now that their guy is accountable?

In his conclusion, candidate Obama leveled the charge — oft-repeated but mindless — that Bush counterterrorism had “given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in [Islamic] countries that say, ‘Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.’” Let’s put aside the now-familiar Obama crotchet that gives Muslim sensibilities pride of place over American security concerns. The brute fact is: Obama is treating Muslim terrorists the same way Bush did. Given that, is it too much to ask the president finally to acknowledge that terrorist recruitment is driven by Islamist ideology? The legal theory by which a president justifies the indefinite detention of terrorists is beside the point.

For those who maintain that our president is a pragmatist and not an ideologue, worth pondering is Obama’s ideological intransigence, and how it has bred incompetence. If, back in January 2009, Obama had just let the then-pending military commission go forward, KSM and his cohorts would likely have been executed by now. They had announced their intention to plead guilty and proceed to sentencing. Allowing that, however, would effectively have meant endorsing military commissions and, by extension, Bush counterterrorism. So the new president interrupted the proceedings and dangled before KSM the stage the terrorist had always craved: a civilian trial just a few blocks from Broadway.

The public revolted, prompting bipartisan congressional opposition. Meantime, the president came to realize that, regardless of his purple campaign rhetoric, many committed jihadists could not be tried in civilian court and would kill Americans if released. His law-enforcement framework was impractical: He would have to detain al-Qaeda captives indefinitely or find another way to try them. Consequently, he kept Gitmo open despite having promised to close it; and, with an assist from congressional Democrats, he made a few cosmetic tweaks in the military-commission system in order to camouflage the inconvenient truth that it was substantially the same commission system proposed by Bush and endorsed by Congress in 2006.

But while Obama preserved military commissions, he didn’t actually want to use them. Had he used them, and had terrorists promptly started being convicted and severely sentenced, public opposition to the civilian prosecutions beloved by his base would have stiffened. So now there is one obvious right thing to do: Give KSM and the 9/11 plotters the military commission and execution they should have had almost two years ago. Yet, Obama can’t bring himself to do it.

Instead, the man who claimed that indefinite detention without trial “destroyed our credibility” will indefinitely detain the terrorists without trial — at least until after the 2012 election, when either they will be some other president’s headache or electoral politics will no longer weigh on Obama. That’s change you can believe in.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/253356/obama-caves-civilian-trial-ksm-andrew-c-mccarthy#
23711  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: November 16, 2010, 10:18:19 AM
Federal Deployment to Tamaulipas

The Mexican government is reported to have significantly augmented federal security forces in the northern Tamaulipas border region with a deployment of both Mexican army troops and Federal Police agents, bringing the number of federal security forces in the region to nearly 3,000. These forces, which have been arriving since Nov. 13, will be primarily deployed to the areas around Ciudad Mier, Camargo, Nuevo Guerrero, Miguel Aleman and Diaz Ordaz, or more generally in the rural stretch between the major metropolitan areas of Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo along the Tamaulipas-South Texas border. This deployment will be in addition to the Mexican Marine forces already deployed to the region, as well as the Mexican army operating in the military’s 7th and 8th zones, which are headquartered in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon and Reynosa, respectively. Additionally, there are reports that a Mexican special operations unit will be deployed from Mexico City to the Tamaulipas border region as well to conduct high-risk operations, possibly targeting high-value cartel targets. Military officials also have indicated that they will be establishing checkpoints in the region and will be inspecting 100 percent of both passenger and cargo vehicles.

Though the new deployment of federal forces to the area is sizable, the total number of federal forces in the region pales in comparison to other federal security operations, such as Coordinated Operation Chihuahua, which boasts close to 10,000 forces deployed primarily in northern Chihuahua. The Tamaulipas deployment also will allow particular branches of the military and Federal Police to have more specified roles in the operations. According to Mexican military officials, Mexican Marines will primarily be tasked with intelligence operations and to a lesser extent will conduct joint patrols with the army and Federal Police. The Federal Police will base the majority of their operations in more urban areas, including Reynosa, Matamoros and to a lesser extent Nuevo Laredo. Mexican army personnel will primarily be tasked with operations in the more rural areas, including checkpoints outside urban centers.

This deployment comes at a time when tensions between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas are high in large part due to the Nov. 5 death of Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas Guillen. Tony Tormenta’s death set in motion a likely offensive on the part of Los Zetas to retake control of the Tamaulipas-South Texas border region lost earlier in the year to the Gulf cartel and their allies in the New Federation.

Los Zetas have made bold moves in battleground like Ciudad Mier, Camargo and Miguel Aleman. The group has all but taken over portions of these towns, forcing residents to flee in the wake of Tony Tormenta’s death. One such brazen takeover reportedly occurred Nov. 5 in Ciudad Mier, where alleged members of Los Zetas were reported to be running through the streets screaming that all the residents in the area must vacate the city or be killed. More than 300 people are estimated to have left the city reportedly seeking shelter in nearby Miguel Aleman, where at least two temporary housing settlements have been set up. It appears that Los Zetas are using both of these small towns as a staging area for a possible assault on the much larger Reynosa metropolitan area some 65-80 kilometers (40-50 miles) to the southeast.

The death of Tony Tormenta could not have come at a worse time for the Gulf cartel. The Gulf cartel was part of the New Federation alliance which included La Familia Michoacana (LFM) and the Sinaloa Federation, but developments in the past three months have strained the relationship between the three, with the once-powerful alliance reduced to a non-aggression agreement between the Gulf cartel and its two former allies. LFM fell out of the Sinaloa Federation’s favor after attempting to move in on the methamphetamine production and trafficking market in Jalisco and Colima states after the death of Sinaloa No. 3 Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal in July. LFM’s defense of its territory in its home state of Michoacan also has drawn Sinaloa’s ire. The Sinaloa Federation has been of little help to the Gulf cartel in recent months as Sinaloa has been dedicating large amounts of its resources and focus to the conflict in Juarez. The group traditionally has held very little influence in the Tamaulipas region.

Further leaving the Gulf cartel exposed, in the months leading up to the death of Tony Tormenta, Mexican federal security forces dealt a serious blow to cells associated with the Gulf cartel leader, arresting more than 50 operatives and making numerous weapons and cash seizures. This leaves the remaining Gulf cartel leader, Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez, and the cells associated with him extremely vulnerable to any Los Zetas offensive.

With the increase in tensions and posturing between Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel along with the influx of Mexican federal security forces in the region, violence in the Tamaulipas border area is likely to escalate in the weeks to come. The deployment of more federal security forces increases the likelihood that they will come in contact with one of the two criminal groups operating in the region, resulting in firefights between criminals and security forces. Additionally, aside from the obvious risk of bodily harm from being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, this likely increase in fighting and along with the expanded presence of security forces will present significant disruptions to businesses and visitors in the region. Narco-blockades, a tactic both Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel use, create an elevated degree of risk of carjacking (especially for high-profile vehicles such as SUVs, trucks and tractor trailers) as well as logistical complications from the resulting traffic jams. Logistical issues also will arise from the 100 percent inspection rate at the military checkpoints that have been and will be established in the region and from the military personnel manning the checkpoints’ lack of training in interacting with civilians.



(click here to view interactive map)

Nov. 8

Soldiers in Zapopan, Jalisco state, killed two men and arrested another during a firefight at a suspected methamphetamine lab. A passerby was injured during the incident.
Unidentified gunmen killed the police commander of the municipality of Pabellon de Arteaga, Aguascalientes state, as he drove near his home.

Nov. 9

Police seized 531 kilograms (about 1,170 pounds) of marijuana from a steel shipment in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Authorities said the drugs arrived from Leon, Guanajuato state. No arrests were made during the incident.
Security forces in Acapulco, Guerrero state, discovered the decapitated bodies of two police officers near the settlement of La Venta. The victims’ tongues had been removed and both bodies bore signs of torture.
Police discovered several body parts in a plastic bag floating in a sewage ditch in Ecatepec, Mexico state. Local residents called the police after spotting a dog carrying a human hand in its mouth.
Soldiers in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, freed 10 kidnapped migrants and arrested six suspected kidnappers during a raid on a house.
Police in Puente de Ixtla, Morelos state, arrested a suspected associate of Edgar Valdez Villarreal. The suspect allegedly controlled drug trafficking routes through central Mexico.

Nov. 10

Suspected LFM members hung banners in Zitacuaro, Maravatio and Ciudad Hidalgo, Michoacan state, stating the cartel’s alleged intent to disband and seek a truce with the government.
Officers from the state attorney general’s office discovered the bodies of two men in a house allegedly owned by the Beltran Leyva Organization in Bosques de Las Lomas neighborhood of Mexico City.
Soldiers arrested two municipal policemen in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state, for allegedly surveilling a security forces raid on a motel.
Unidentified gunmen fired at the offices of the El Sur newspaper in Acapulco, Guerrero state. No injuries were reported.

Nov. 11

Unidentified attackers threw two grenades at the state security and roads offices in Gomez Palacio, Durango state. No injuries were reported in the attack.
Police found the body of a man in the trunk of an abandoned car in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The victim had been shot in the head.
Police in Santa Rosa, Morelos state, arrested three suspected high-ranking associates of Edgar Valdez Villarreal after a car chase that began in Oaxtepec, Morelos state, after the three suspects failed to stop at a police roadblock.

Nov. 12

One suspected cartel gunman was killed in a firefight with soldiers in the Terminal neighborhood in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The shooting began when a convoy of suspected gunmen did not heed the soldiers’ order to stop.
Three severed heads were discovered outside a municipal government office in Chalchihuites, Zacatecas state. A message claiming the crime was revenge for a previous homicide in Chalchihuites was left near the heads.
Police arrested seven people suspected of working as lookouts for Los Zetas in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.

Nov. 13

Police discovered the bodies of two men and a woman hanging from a bridge in Tepic, Nayarit state. A message was discovered near the bodies.
The bodies of two unidentified men were found in the trunk of an abandoned car in the municipality of Cuautla, Morelos state.
Unidentified gunmen killed a Chihuahua state prison official as he drove with his son in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. The child was injured during the attack.

Nov. 14

Police discovered five bodies in an orchard in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood of Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Five people were killed and eight were injured when a group of unidentified gunmen opened fire on patrons at a bar in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
23712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: November 16, 2010, 10:17:41 AM
Federal Deployment to Tamaulipas

The Mexican government is reported to have significantly augmented federal security forces in the northern Tamaulipas border region with a deployment of both Mexican army troops and Federal Police agents, bringing the number of federal security forces in the region to nearly 3,000. These forces, which have been arriving since Nov. 13, will be primarily deployed to the areas around Ciudad Mier, Camargo, Nuevo Guerrero, Miguel Aleman and Diaz Ordaz, or more generally in the rural stretch between the major metropolitan areas of Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo along the Tamaulipas-South Texas border. This deployment will be in addition to the Mexican Marine forces already deployed to the region, as well as the Mexican army operating in the military’s 7th and 8th zones, which are headquartered in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon and Reynosa, respectively. Additionally, there are reports that a Mexican special operations unit will be deployed from Mexico City to the Tamaulipas border region as well to conduct high-risk operations, possibly targeting high-value cartel targets. Military officials also have indicated that they will be establishing checkpoints in the region and will be inspecting 100 percent of both passenger and cargo vehicles.

Though the new deployment of federal forces to the area is sizable, the total number of federal forces in the region pales in comparison to other federal security operations, such as Coordinated Operation Chihuahua, which boasts close to 10,000 forces deployed primarily in northern Chihuahua. The Tamaulipas deployment also will allow particular branches of the military and Federal Police to have more specified roles in the operations. According to Mexican military officials, Mexican Marines will primarily be tasked with intelligence operations and to a lesser extent will conduct joint patrols with the army and Federal Police. The Federal Police will base the majority of their operations in more urban areas, including Reynosa, Matamoros and to a lesser extent Nuevo Laredo. Mexican army personnel will primarily be tasked with operations in the more rural areas, including checkpoints outside urban centers.

This deployment comes at a time when tensions between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas are high in large part due to the Nov. 5 death of Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas Guillen. Tony Tormenta’s death set in motion a likely offensive on the part of Los Zetas to retake control of the Tamaulipas-South Texas border region lost earlier in the year to the Gulf cartel and their allies in the New Federation.

Los Zetas have made bold moves in battleground like Ciudad Mier, Camargo and Miguel Aleman. The group has all but taken over portions of these towns, forcing residents to flee in the wake of Tony Tormenta’s death. One such brazen takeover reportedly occurred Nov. 5 in Ciudad Mier, where alleged members of Los Zetas were reported to be running through the streets screaming that all the residents in the area must vacate the city or be killed. More than 300 people are estimated to have left the city reportedly seeking shelter in nearby Miguel Aleman, where at least two temporary housing settlements have been set up. It appears that Los Zetas are using both of these small towns as a staging area for a possible assault on the much larger Reynosa metropolitan area some 65-80 kilometers (40-50 miles) to the southeast.

The death of Tony Tormenta could not have come at a worse time for the Gulf cartel. The Gulf cartel was part of the New Federation alliance which included La Familia Michoacana (LFM) and the Sinaloa Federation, but developments in the past three months have strained the relationship between the three, with the once-powerful alliance reduced to a non-aggression agreement between the Gulf cartel and its two former allies. LFM fell out of the Sinaloa Federation’s favor after attempting to move in on the methamphetamine production and trafficking market in Jalisco and Colima states after the death of Sinaloa No. 3 Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal in July. LFM’s defense of its territory in its home state of Michoacan also has drawn Sinaloa’s ire. The Sinaloa Federation has been of little help to the Gulf cartel in recent months as Sinaloa has been dedicating large amounts of its resources and focus to the conflict in Juarez. The group traditionally has held very little influence in the Tamaulipas region.

Further leaving the Gulf cartel exposed, in the months leading up to the death of Tony Tormenta, Mexican federal security forces dealt a serious blow to cells associated with the Gulf cartel leader, arresting more than 50 operatives and making numerous weapons and cash seizures. This leaves the remaining Gulf cartel leader, Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez, and the cells associated with him extremely vulnerable to any Los Zetas offensive.

With the increase in tensions and posturing between Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel along with the influx of Mexican federal security forces in the region, violence in the Tamaulipas border area is likely to escalate in the weeks to come. The deployment of more federal security forces increases the likelihood that they will come in contact with one of the two criminal groups operating in the region, resulting in firefights between criminals and security forces. Additionally, aside from the obvious risk of bodily harm from being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, this likely increase in fighting and along with the expanded presence of security forces will present significant disruptions to businesses and visitors in the region. Narco-blockades, a tactic both Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel use, create an elevated degree of risk of carjacking (especially for high-profile vehicles such as SUVs, trucks and tractor trailers) as well as logistical complications from the resulting traffic jams. Logistical issues also will arise from the 100 percent inspection rate at the military checkpoints that have been and will be established in the region and from the military personnel manning the checkpoints’ lack of training in interacting with civilians.



(click here to view interactive map)

Nov. 8

Soldiers in Zapopan, Jalisco state, killed two men and arrested another during a firefight at a suspected methamphetamine lab. A passerby was injured during the incident.
Unidentified gunmen killed the police commander of the municipality of Pabellon de Arteaga, Aguascalientes state, as he drove near his home.

Nov. 9

Police seized 531 kilograms (about 1,170 pounds) of marijuana from a steel shipment in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Authorities said the drugs arrived from Leon, Guanajuato state. No arrests were made during the incident.
Security forces in Acapulco, Guerrero state, discovered the decapitated bodies of two police officers near the settlement of La Venta. The victims’ tongues had been removed and both bodies bore signs of torture.
Police discovered several body parts in a plastic bag floating in a sewage ditch in Ecatepec, Mexico state. Local residents called the police after spotting a dog carrying a human hand in its mouth.
Soldiers in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, freed 10 kidnapped migrants and arrested six suspected kidnappers during a raid on a house.
Police in Puente de Ixtla, Morelos state, arrested a suspected associate of Edgar Valdez Villarreal. The suspect allegedly controlled drug trafficking routes through central Mexico.

Nov. 10

Suspected LFM members hung banners in Zitacuaro, Maravatio and Ciudad Hidalgo, Michoacan state, stating the cartel’s alleged intent to disband and seek a truce with the government.
Officers from the state attorney general’s office discovered the bodies of two men in a house allegedly owned by the Beltran Leyva Organization in Bosques de Las Lomas neighborhood of Mexico City.
Soldiers arrested two municipal policemen in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state, for allegedly surveilling a security forces raid on a motel.
Unidentified gunmen fired at the offices of the El Sur newspaper in Acapulco, Guerrero state. No injuries were reported.

Nov. 11

Unidentified attackers threw two grenades at the state security and roads offices in Gomez Palacio, Durango state. No injuries were reported in the attack.
Police found the body of a man in the trunk of an abandoned car in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The victim had been shot in the head.
Police in Santa Rosa, Morelos state, arrested three suspected high-ranking associates of Edgar Valdez Villarreal after a car chase that began in Oaxtepec, Morelos state, after the three suspects failed to stop at a police roadblock.

Nov. 12

One suspected cartel gunman was killed in a firefight with soldiers in the Terminal neighborhood in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The shooting began when a convoy of suspected gunmen did not heed the soldiers’ order to stop.
Three severed heads were discovered outside a municipal government office in Chalchihuites, Zacatecas state. A message claiming the crime was revenge for a previous homicide in Chalchihuites was left near the heads.
Police arrested seven people suspected of working as lookouts for Los Zetas in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.

Nov. 13

Police discovered the bodies of two men and a woman hanging from a bridge in Tepic, Nayarit state. A message was discovered near the bodies.
The bodies of two unidentified men were found in the trunk of an abandoned car in the municipality of Cuautla, Morelos state.
Unidentified gunmen killed a Chihuahua state prison official as he drove with his son in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. The child was injured during the attack.

Nov. 14

Police discovered five bodies in an orchard in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood of Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Five people were killed and eight were injured when a group of unidentified gunmen opened fire on patrons at a bar in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
23713  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Infrastructure on: November 16, 2010, 08:49:42 AM
American Superconducter (AMSC on the NASDAQ) has some very interesting technology for fixing the electrical grid.
23714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: November 16, 2010, 08:30:40 AM
1) "eliminating tax breaks" such as the deductibility of health insurance provided by employers is a huge tax increase.  Eliminating any tax break is a tax increase.

2) There are some huge military cuts in here, something which I oppose.


23715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Infrastructure on: November 15, 2010, 06:14:11 PM
Like it says  smiley

GM, would you please kick this thread off with what you posted in the China thread today?
23716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Haste makes waste? on: November 15, 2010, 05:43:17 PM
a) This is a VERY important theme; into which thread should we continue this discussion?

b) BTW, our electrical system is very badly overloaded and out of date.

c) See pictures on post of June 29 (page two of this thread):
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1138.50
23717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 15, 2010, 11:33:49 AM
Also, IIRC somewhere in this thread there are a bunch of fotos of Chinese high rises that have simply fallen over , , ,
23718  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This too is China on: November 15, 2010, 08:08:26 AM


http://www.nzwide.com/swanlake.htm
23719  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 14, 2010, 09:18:52 PM
"So we stop security screening at airports?"

Don't be silly.  No one here has suggested such a thing.

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

A little vignette of what all this may turn into:

http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html
23720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: November 14, 2010, 01:39:11 PM
I don't think having any of the Thousands Standing Around, a.k.a. the TSA grabbing my balls or poking at my anus will really further security in the slightest.
23721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 14, 2010, 01:36:22 PM
GM:

It appears you are following Bork's concept of privacy-- which is the very reason I opposed him for the Supreme Court.

23722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 14, 2010, 12:02:48 PM
"I think other commonly recognized rights within society and the legal system that weren't specifically enumerated in the bill of rights would be covered by the 9th"

Privacy meets this standard, yes?

"It's not something to do lightly,"

AMEN!

"as once the pandora's box were opened, then every activist judge would reach into the 9th for gay marriage, gov't healthcare, guranteed income and every other leftist cause du jour."

Well, the activist judges are already doing that for gay marriage with the Equal Protection Clause.   As for healthcare, guaranteed income, etc we already have FDR and BO  (see his Chicago Public Radio interview in 200o or so) admitting that the Constitudtuion's rights are negative not, positive.

23723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Is that a bomb in your crotch or are you just aroused to have me feel you up? on: November 14, 2010, 11:54:28 AM
When it comes to protecting against terrorism, this is how things usually go: A danger presents itself. The federal government responds with new rules that erode privacy, treat innocent people as suspicious and blur the distinction between life in a free society and life in a correctional facility. And we all tamely accept the new intrusions, like sheep being shorn.

Maybe not this time.

The war on terrorism is going to get personal. Very personal. Americans have long resented the hassles that go with air travel ever since 9/11 -- long security lines, limits on liquids, forced removal of footwear and so on. But if the Transportation Security Administration has its way, we will look back to 2009 as the good old days.

The agency is rolling out new full-body scanners, which eventually will replace metal detectors at all checkpoints. These machines replicate the experience of taking off your clothes, but without the fun. They enable agents to get a view of your body that leaves nothing to the imagination.

A lot of people, of course, couldn't care less if a stranger wants to gaze upon everything God gave them. But some retain a modesty that makes them reluctant to parade naked in front of people they don't know, even virtually. Henceforth, Jennifer Aniston is going to think twice before flying commercial.

Besides the indignity of having one's body exposed to an airport screener, there is a danger the images will find a wider audience. The U.S. Marshals Service recently admitted saving some 35,000 images from a machine at a federal courthouse in Florida. TSA says that will never happen. Human experience says, oh, yes, it will.

For the camera-shy, TSA will offer an alternative: "enhanced" pat-downs. And you'll get a chance to have an interesting conversation with your children about being touched by strangers. This is not the gentle frisking you may have experienced at the airport in the past. It requires agents to probe aggressively in intimate zones -- breasts, buttocks, crotches. If you enjoyed your last mammography or prostate exam, you'll love the enhanced pat-down.

Reviews of the procedure are coming in, and they are not raves. The Allied Pilots Association calls it a "demeaning experience," and one pilot complained it amounted to "sexual molestation." The head of a flight attendants' union local said that for anyone who has been sexually assaulted, it will "drudge up some bad memories."

But the option of the full-body scanner is not so appealing, either, even leaving out privacy concerns. Two pilots' unions have advised members not to go through the scanners because of the possible risks of being bombarded with low doses of radiation.

"There is good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations," a group of scientists from the University of California at San Francisco informed the White House.

Aviation trade groups fear the public has finally been pushed over the edge. "We have received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from travelers vowing to stop flying," Geoff Freeman, executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association, told Reuters.

The new policy is being challenged in court by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which says it violates the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches. But don't expect judges to save us.

Says Stanford University law professor Robert Weisberg, with resignation in his voice, "Airports are pretty much a Fourth Amendment-free zone."

Though the harm to privacy is certain, the benefit to public safety is not. The federal Government Accountability Office has said it "remains unclear" if the scanners would have detected the explosives carried by the would-be Christmas Day bomber.

They would also be useless against a terrorist who inserts a bomb in his rectum -- like the al-Qaida operative who blew himself up last year in an attempt to kill a Saudi prince. Full-body scanning will sorely chafe many innocent travelers, while creating only a minor inconvenience to bloodthirsty fanatics.

_The good news is that last year, the House of Representatives voted to bar the use of whole-body scanners for routine screening. But only a sustained public outcry will force a change.

We will soon find out if there is a limit to the sacrifices of personal freedom that Americans will endure in the name of fighting terrorism. If we don't say no when they want to inspect and handle our private parts, when will we?
23724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 14, 2010, 11:37:55 AM
"So, after decades of 4th amendment caselaw related to search and seizure, we're going to reach into the 9th amendment bag of tricks and create new privacy rights when the fourth has already clearly defined them?"

Is the Ninth Amendment meaningless?  If not, then what does it mean?


23725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grant: Gold Standard on: November 14, 2010, 11:28:53 AM
By JAMES GRANT
Published: November 13, 2010
BY disclosing a plan to conjure $600 billion to support the sagging economy, the Federal Reserve affirmed the interesting fact that dollars can be conjured. In the digital age, you don’t even need a printing press.

This was on Nov. 3. A general uproar ensued, with the dollar exchange rate weakening and the price of gold surging. And when, last Monday, the president of the World Bank suggested, almost diffidently, that there might be a place for gold in today’s international monetary arrangements, you could hear a pin drop.
Let the economists gasp: The classical gold standard, the one that was in place from 1880 to 1914, is what the world needs now. In its utility, economy and elegance, there has never been a monetary system like it.

It was simplicity itself. National currencies were backed by gold. If you didn’t like the currency you could exchange it for shiny coins (money was “sound” if it rang when dropped on a counter). Borders were open and money was footloose. It went where it was treated well. In gold-standard countries, government budgets were mainly balanced. Central banks had the single public function of exchanging gold for paper or paper for gold. The public decided which it wanted.

“You can’t go back,” today’s central bankers are wont to protest, before adding, “And you shouldn’t, anyway.” They seem to forget that we are forever going back (and forth, too), because nothing about money is really new. “Quantitative easing,” a k a money-printing, is as old as the hills. Draftsmen of the United States Constitution, well recalling the overproduction of the Continental paper dollar, defined money as “coin.” “To coin money” and “regulate the value thereof” was a Congressional power they joined in the same constitutional phrase with that of fixing “the standard of weights and measures.” For most of the next 200 years, the dollar was, in fact, defined as a weight of metal. The pure paper era did not begin until 1971.

The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 — by coincidence, the final full year of the original gold standard. (Less functional variants followed in the 1920s and ’40s; no longer could just anybody demand gold for paper, or paper for gold.) At the outset, the Fed was a gold standard central bank. It could not have conjured money even if it had wanted to, as the value of the dollar was fixed under law as one 20.67th of an ounce of gold.

Neither was the Fed concerned with managing the national economy. Fast forward 65 years or so, to the late 1970s, and the Fed would have been unrecognizable to the men who voted it into existence. It was now held responsible for ensuring full employment and stable prices alike.

Today, the Fed’s hundreds of Ph.D.’s conduct research at the frontiers of economic science. “The Two-Period Rational Inattention Model: Accelerations and Analyses” is the title of one of the treatises the monetary scholars have recently produced. “Continuous Time Extraction of a Nonstationary Signal with Illustrations in Continuous Low-pass and Band-pass Filtering” is another. You can’t blame the learned authors for preferring the life they lead to the careers they would have under a true-blue gold standard. Rather than writing monographs for each other, they would be standing behind a counter exchanging paper for gold and vice versa.

If only they gave it some thought, though, the economists — nothing if not smart — would fairly jump at the chance for counter duty. For a convertible currency is a sophisticated, self-contained information system. By choosing to hold it, or instead the gold that stands behind it, the people tell the central bank if it has issued too much money or too little. It’s democracy in money, rather than mandarin rule.

Today, it’s the mandarins at the Federal Reserve who decide what interest rate to impose, and what volume of currency to conjure.

The Bank of England once had an unhappy experience with this method of operation. To fight the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, Britain traded in its gold pound for a scrip, and the bank had to decide unilaterally how many pounds to print. Lacking the information encased in the gold standard, it printed too many. A great inflation bubbled.

Later, a parliamentary inquest determined that no institution should again be entrusted with such powers as the suspension of gold convertibility had dumped in the lap of those bank directors. They had meant well enough, the parliamentarians concluded, but even the most minute knowledge of the British economy, “combined with the profound science in all the principles of money and circulation,” would not enable anyone to circulate the exact amount of money needed for “the wants of trade.”

The same is true now at the Fed. The chairman, Ben Bernanke, and his minions have taken it upon themselves to decide that a lot more money should circulate. According to the Consumer Price Index, which is showing year-over-year gains of less than 1.5 percent, prices are essentially stable.

=====

In the inflationary 1970s, people had prayed for exactly this. But the Fed today finds it unacceptable. We need more inflation, it insists (seeming not to remember that prices showed year-over-year declines for 12 consecutive months in 1954 and ’55 or that, in the first half of the 1960s, the Consumer Price Index never registered year-over-year gains of as much as 2 percent). This is why Mr. Bernanke has set out to materialize an additional $600 billion in the next eight months.

The intended consequences of this intervention include lower interest rates, higher stock prices, a perkier Consumer Price Index and more hiring. The unintended consequences remain to be seen. A partial list of unwanted possibilities includes an overvalued stock market (followed by a crash), a collapsing dollar, an unscripted surge in consumer prices (followed by higher interest rates), a populist revolt against zero-percent savings rates and wall-to-wall European tourists on the sidewalks of Manhattan.
As for interest rates, they are already low enough to coax another cycle of imprudent lending and borrowing. It gives one pause that the Fed, with all its massed brain power, failed to anticipate even a little of the troubles of 2007-09.

At last week’s world economic summit meeting in South Korea, finance ministers and central bankers chewed over the perennial problem of “imbalances.” America consumes much more than it produces (and has done so over 25 consecutive years). Asia produces more than it consumes. Merchandise moves east across the Pacific; dollars fly west in payment. For Americans, the system could hardly be improved on, because the dollars do not remain in Asia. They rather obligingly fly eastward again in the shape of investments in United States government securities. It’s as if the money never left the 50 states.

So it is under the paper-dollar system that we Americans enjoy “deficits without tears,” in the words of the French economist Jacques Rueff. We could not have done so under the classical gold standard. Deficits then were ultimately settled in gold. We could not have printed it, but would have had to dig for it, or adjusted our economy to make ourselves more internationally competitive. Adjustments under the gold standard took place continuously and smoothly — not, like today, wrenchingly and at great intervals.

Gold is a metal made for monetary service. It is scarce (just 0.004 parts per million in the earth’s crust), pliable and easy on the eye. It has tended to hold its purchasing power over the years and centuries. You don’t consume it, as you do tin or copper. Somewhere, probably, in some coin or ingot, is the gold that adorned Cleopatra.

And because it is indestructible, no one year’s new production is of any great consequence in comparison with the store of above-ground metal. From 1900 to 2009, at much lower nominal gold prices than those prevailing today, the worldwide stock of gold grew at 1.5 percent a year, according to the United States Geological Survey and the World Gold Council.

The first time the United States abandoned the gold standard — to fight the Civil War — it took until 1879, 14 years after Appomattox, to again link the dollar to gold.

To reinstitute a modern gold standard today would take time, too. The United States would first have to call an international monetary conference. A chastened Ben Bernanke would have to announce that, in fact, he cannot see into the future and needs the information that the convertibility feature of a gold dollar would impart.

That humbling chore completed, the delegates could get down to the technical work of proposing a rate of exchange between gold and the dollar (probably it would be even higher than the current price of gold, the better to encourage new exploration and production).

Other countries, thunderstruck, would then have to follow suit. The main thing, Mr. Bernanke would emphasize, would be to create a monetary system that synchronizes national economies rather than driving them apart.

If the classical gold standard in its every Edwardian feature could not, after all, be teleported into the 21st century, there would be plenty of scope for adaptation and, perhaps, improvement. Let the author of “The Two-Period Rational Inattention Model: Accelerations and Analyses” have a crack at it.
23726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Revolt of the Body Scanned on: November 13, 2010, 07:44:07 PM


http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/11/12/travel.screening/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn
23727  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Pequeno estudio on: November 13, 2010, 07:43:10 PM
?Como se dice "bully"?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xwQ-seHCt8&feature=player_embedded&has_verified=1
23728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 13, 2010, 02:21:25 PM
Last point first:  My proposition is that amongst the unenumerated rates of the 9th are the right to privacy and the right of self-defense.

Private Open Fields:  Hypothetical:  I have private property which extends further than the human eye can see.  I am standing on the property where no one not on the property can see me.  Question presented:  Do I have privacy, or can the Feds, who presumably have a right to be in outer space, spy on me from outer space?  Or, can they spy on me from a drone?
23729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 13, 2010, 08:24:27 AM
Caroline Glick
Addressing Our Homegrown Enemies

This week we learned that Nazareth is an al-Qaida hub. Sheikh Nazem Abu Salim Sahfe, the Israeli imam of the Shihab al-Din mosque in the city, was indicted on Sunday for promoting and recruiting for global jihad and calling on his followers to harm non-Muslims.

Among the other plots born of Sahfe's sermons was the murder of cab driver Yefim Weinstein last November. Sahfe's followers also plotted to assassinate Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Israel last year. They torched Christian tour buses. They abducted and stabbed a pizza delivery man. Two of his disciples were arrested in Kenya en route to joining al-Qaida forces in Somalia.

With his indictment, Sahfe joins a growing list of jihadists born and bred in Israel and in free societies around the world who have rejected their societies and embraced the cause of Islamic global domination. The most prominent member of this group today is the American-born al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki.

US authorities describe Awlaki as the world's most dangerous man. His jihadist track record is staggering. It seems that there has been no major attack in the US or Britain - including the September 11 attacks and the July 7 attacks in London - in which Awlaki has not played a role.

Sahfe and Awlaki, like nearly all the prominent jihadists in the West, are men of privilege. Their personal histories are a refutation of the popular Western tale that jihad is born of frustration, poverty and ignorance. Both men, like almost every prominent Western jihadist, are university graduates.

So, too, their stories belie the Western fantasy that adherence to the cause of jihad is spawned by poverty. These men and their colleagues are the sons of wealthy or comfortable middle class families. They have never known privation.

Armed with their material comforts, university degrees and native knowledge of the ways of democracy and the habits of freedom, these men chose to become jihadists. They chose submission to Islam over liberal democratic rights because that is what they prefer. They are idealists.

This means that all the standard Western pabulums about the need to expand welfare benefits for Muslims or abstain from enforcing the laws against their communities, or give mosques immunity from surveillance and closure, or seek to co-opt jihadist leaders by treating them like credible Muslim voices, are wrong and counterproductive. These programs do not neutralize their supremacist intentions or actions. They embolden the Western Islamic supremacists by signaling to them that they are winning. Their Western societies are no match for them.

In recent weeks we have seen a number of statements by establishment political leaders in Europe indicating that they are willing to consider abandoning these politically correct bromides. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's statement last month that "multiculturalism has utterly failed," for instance, is widely perceived as a watershed event.

And in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, former British prime minister Tony Blair acknowledged that there is a problem with unassimilated Muslims in Britain. As he put it, anti-immigration sentiment is not general but particular. It relates, Blair admitted, to "the failure of one part of the Muslim community to resolve and create an identity that is both British and Muslim."

Blair acknowledged that it is due to the European establishment's refusal to recongnize the problem of growing Islamic supremacism in Europe that so many millions of Europeans are today ditching the establishment and its politically correct orthodoxies and voting for anti-establishment politicians who are willing to address the problem. He called for a continent-wide approach to immigration whose goal would be to prevent jihadists from exploiting the system to overthrow it.

Statements like Merkel's and Blair's are insufficient. But the very fact that enough Europeans are willing to break the PC barrier to force these leaders to acknowledge and perhaps address the challenges of unassimilated, supremacist Muslim minorities means that Europe is taking the first steps towards addressing the challenges that jihadist Islam poses to its security, culture and civilization.

Perhaps most emblematic of this change was the Merkel government's recent move to finally close the mosque in Hamburg where the September 11 plotters met and planned their acts of war against the US.

Disturbingly, the establishments in the two countries most actively targeted by global jihad - the US and Israel - remain in deep denial about the challenges of homegrown jihadist fifth columnists. The US remains in denial even though the majority of recent jihadist attacks and attempted attacks against the US were carried out by American citizens.

The US's denial of the nature of the jihadist threat was demonstrated in all of its politically correct glory this week with President Barack Obama's address to Indian students at St. Xavier University in Mumbai. In response to a student's query about his view of jihad and jihadists, Obama praised Islam as "one of the world's great religions." He went on to claim that the overwhelming majority of Muslims view Islam as a religion of "peace, justice, fairness and tolerance."

Obama's message was not only deceptive and off point, it was deeply insensitive to his audience. Two years ago this month, Mumbai was the site of a massive jihadist commando attack against targets throughout the city, and Mumbai's residents are still grappling with the wounds of that attack.

Obama's statement also ignored the US's contribution to that attack. The suspected mastermind of the Mumbai massacres was a US citizen named David Coleman Headley from Obama's hometown of Chicago. Moreover, Headley (formerly Daood Sayed Gilani) served for many years as a double agent. A convicted drug dealer, he was sent to Pakistan as a Drug Enforcement Agency agent. While there, he trained at Lashkar-e-Taibe jihadist training camps.

Obama failed to note that perhaps due to his work at the DEA, US law enforcement officials ignored testimonies from two of Headley's former wives in 2005 and 2007 that he was a member of Lashkar-e-Taibe, the India-focused Pakistani al-Qaida affiliate run by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Rather than address these issues, or the fact that the US has refused Indian extradition requests for Headley, Obama vacuously told students that it is the job of young people from all religions to reject extremism and violence.

Headley, of course, is just one of many American jihadists who has enjoined the fruits of America's politically correct denial of the homegrown Islamic threat. In the months following the September 11 attacks, the US Department of the Army actively courted Awlaki as part of its Muslim outreach program. Awlaki, then George Washington University's Muslim chaplain, was wooed despite his documented links to three of the September 11 hijackers.

As Israelis wake up to the reality of al-Qaida in Nazareth, our leftist establishment remains in denial about its role in enabling this reality. Sahfe's Shihab al-Din mosque was established as a triumphalist mosque adjacent to the Church of the Annunciation in the lead up to the millennium. At the time, the Vatican launched a vocal protest against its construction.

In the hopes of winning over the likes of Sahfe, then-prime minister Ehud Barak and then-foreign minister and public security minister Shlomo Ben-Ami rejected the Vatican's objections. They even donated the land for the mosque from the Israel Lands Authority.

Safhe returned the favor by interrupting Pope John Paul II's homily at the Church of the Annunciation during his March 2000 visit with a call to prayer. Months later, the Shihab al-Din mosque was one of the focal points for inciting the anti-Jewish riots in the Arab sector in October 2000.

Today, leftist judges together with leftist politicians and opinion makers block all efforts by politicians and the public to acknowledge and address the growing lawlessness and jihadist bent of Israel's Muslim minority. Fear of the politically correct Supreme Court has deterred authorities from outlawing the Islamic Movement. Efforts to contend with illegal land seizures and building have been blocked by the leftist media, pressure groups largely sponsored by the New Israel Fund and the courts. Even symbolic measures like the government's recent bid to require non-Jewish immigrants to pledge loyalty to the state have been viciously attacked by Israel's leftist establishment as fascist and racist.

But as Europe is belatedly acknowledging, these politically correct commissars must be sidelined if the free world is to withstand the growing threat of homegrown jihad.

What this means for Israel is that the political and legal space has to be found to speedily embark on the law enforcement equivalent of a counterinsurgency operation. Israel must enforce its laws with as much zeal and commitment in the Muslim sector as it does in the Jewish sector. This means that Shihab al-Din and other jihadist mosques have to be closed.

It means that jihadist groups like the Islamic Movement have to be outlawed and its leaders have to be tried for treason and other relevant offenses. The same is true for all Arab leaders, political groupings and social organizations that promote the destruction of Israel.

Building and zoning laws must be enforced. State lands that have been seized must be taken back, if necessary by force, including with the involvement of the IDF.

So, too, Jewish rights have to be protected. Like Muslims, Jews have the right to buy land and homes throughout the country. Jews who wish to live in Muslim-majority communities must enjoy the protection of the law just as Muslims who live in Tel Aviv and Upper Nazareth do.

By the same token, the government must embark on a campaign to win back the loyalty of its Muslim citizens. It must empower leaders who embrace their identity as Israelis and seek the integration of Israeli Muslims into the wider society. Authorities must ensure that Israeli Muslims who wish to integrate are not discriminated against by Jews or intimidated by other Muslims.

Over the past couple of weeks, IDF commanders have spoken at length about the nature of the war to come. Their remarks have concentrated on what is already largely recognized - that Israel's home front will be targeted by long-range missiles.

Disappointingly, they ignored the most significant new threat facing the home front today: The likelihood that Israel's external foes will receive active assistance from its Muslim citizens.

Nearly a decade after the September 11 attacks, global jihad remains the central threat to the West, and not because of its popularity in western Pakistan. It remains the central threat to the free world because of its popularity among the Muslims in the free world.

To remain free, free societies must shed our politically correct shackles and address this growing menace to everything we hold dear.
 
Caroline Glick
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
23730  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Case of the Vanishing Blonde on: November 13, 2010, 08:20:18 AM
Indeed.

This line at the end caught my attention:

"His Miami victim won a $300,000 settlement from the hotel and the hotel’s security company."

From what I read in the article, I see no basis for this.

23731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 13, 2010, 08:14:45 AM
GM et al:

a) I would submit that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public sphere if there is no one in sight, yet this technology would invade that privacy.

b) This technology can also spy on us when we are on private property.

Is there no articulable principal of privacy here?  Is there no 9th Amendment right?
23732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Privacy on: November 12, 2010, 09:01:56 PM
That is less than reassuring , , ,
23733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / LA Times: Combat by Camera on: November 12, 2010, 05:12:10 PM
Good catch BBG!

On another front, what, if anything stops the Feds from using this on us?
=========
COMBAT BY CAMERA

The changing face of aerial reconnaissance
Aerial spying is 'now the centerpiece of our global war on terrorism.' And that has meant a growing and potentially huge business even as the Pentagon looks at cutting back on big-ticket items.

A Global Hawk robotic plane, hovering more than 11 miles above Afghanistan, can snap images of Taliban hide-outs so crystal clear that U.S. intelligence officials can make out the pickup trucks parked nearby — and how long they've been there.

Halfway around the globe in a underground laboratory in El Segundo, Raytheon Co. engineers who helped develop the cameras and sensors for the pilotless spy plane are now working on even more powerful devices that are revolutionizing the way the military gathers intelligence.

The new sensors enable flying drones to "listen in" on cellphone conversations and pinpoint the location of the caller on the ground. Some can even "smell" the air and sniff out chemical plumes emanating from a potential underground nuclear laboratory.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Get a daily snapshot of market numbers and trends, delivered right to your mobile phone. Text BUSINESS to 52669.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reconnaissance is "now the centerpiece of our global war on terrorism," said David L. Rockwell, an electronics analyst with aerospace research firm the Teal Group Corp. "The military wants to have an unblinking eye over the war zone."

And that has meant a growing and potentially huge business for the defense industry at a time when the Pentagon is looking at cutting back on big-ticket purchases such as fighter jets and Navy ships.

The drone electronics industry now generates about $3 billion in revenue, but that's expected to double to $6 billion in the next eight years, Teal Group estimates.

The industry's projected growth has fueled a surge in mergers and acquisitions of companies that develop and make the parts for the sensor systems, many of them in Southern California.

"There has been an explosion in the reconnaissance market," said Jon B. Kutler, founder of Admiralty Partners, a Century City private investment firm that buys and sells small defense firms."It's one of the few remaining growth areas."

Kutler's company recently acquired Torrance-based Trident Space & Defense, which manufactures hard drives that enable drones to store high-resolution images.

Trident, which has about 70 employees, has seen its sales more than double to about $40 million over the last five years.

The demand for sensors is growing as the Pentagon steps up use of drones for intelligence gathering.

More than 7,000 drones — ranging from the small, hand-launched Raven to the massive Global Hawk — are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though some have been outfitted with laser-guided bombs or missiles — grabbing most of the news headlines — all are equipped with sensors for reconnaissance and surveillance work.

The most advanced cameras and sensors are on the Global Hawk, a long-endurance, high-altitude drone that can fly for 30 hours at a time at more than 60,000 feet, out of range of most antiaircraft missiles and undetectable to the human eye.

Peter W. Singer, author of "Wired for War," a book about robotic warfare, compares the technology to the popular "Where's Waldo" children's books, in which readers are challenged to find one person hidden in a mass of people.

The latest detectors not only can pick out Waldo from a crowd, but know when Waldo may have fired a rifle. Such sensors can detect the heat from the barrel of a gun and estimate when it was fired.

Many of the sensors have been developed by Raytheon engineers in El Segundo, where the company has had a long history of developing spy equipment, including those found on the famed U-2 spy plane.

Some of the more advanced cameras can cost more than $15 million and take 18 months to make. Raytheon develops the cameras in a humidity-controlled, dust-free laboratory to ensure that they are free of blemishes.

Each basketball-sized camera "must be perfect," said Oscar Fragoso, a Raytheon optical engineer. "If it isn't, we know we're putting lives at risk."

Raytheon has begun to face stiff competition as other aerospace contractors vie for its business.

Sparks, Nev.-based Sierra Nevada Corp., which is known for its work on developing parts for spy satellites, has developed a sensor system, named the Gorgon Stare, that widens the area that drones can monitor from 1 mile to nearly 3 miles.

Named for the creature in Greek mythology whose gaze turns victims to stone, the sensor system features 12 small cameras — instead of one large one. It is to be affixed to Reaper drones before the end of the year.

With the multiple cameras, the operator can follow numerous vehicles instead of just one, said Brig. Gen. Robert P. Otto, the U.S. Air Force's director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. "By the end of the year, we're going to be fielding capabilities that are unlike anything we've used before."

But with an increase in the number of drone patrols and new sensor technology, the Air Force will be "drowning in data," Otto said. "That means we're going to need a lot more people looking at computer screens."

The Pentagon has said that drones last year took so much video footage that it would take someone 24 years to watch it all.

By this time next year, the Air Force expects to have almost 5,000 people trawling through the images for intelligence information. That's up from little more than 1,200 nine years ago.

"The reconnaissance work that's being done now takes seconds, where it used to take days," Otto said. "We're pushing the edge of technology."

william.hennigan@latimes.com
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

23734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / LA Times: Combat by Camera on: November 12, 2010, 05:10:15 PM


COMBAT BY CAMERA

The changing face of aerial reconnaissance
Aerial spying is 'now the centerpiece of our global war on terrorism.' And that has meant a growing and potentially huge business even as the Pentagon looks at cutting back on big-ticket items.

A Global Hawk robotic plane, hovering more than 11 miles above Afghanistan, can snap images of Taliban hide-outs so crystal clear that U.S. intelligence officials can make out the pickup trucks parked nearby — and how long they've been there.

Halfway around the globe in a underground laboratory in El Segundo, Raytheon Co. engineers who helped develop the cameras and sensors for the pilotless spy plane are now working on even more powerful devices that are revolutionizing the way the military gathers intelligence.

The new sensors enable flying drones to "listen in" on cellphone conversations and pinpoint the location of the caller on the ground. Some can even "smell" the air and sniff out chemical plumes emanating from a potential underground nuclear laboratory.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Get a daily snapshot of market numbers and trends, delivered right to your mobile phone. Text BUSINESS to 52669.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reconnaissance is "now the centerpiece of our global war on terrorism," said David L. Rockwell, an electronics analyst with aerospace research firm the Teal Group Corp. "The military wants to have an unblinking eye over the war zone."

And that has meant a growing and potentially huge business for the defense industry at a time when the Pentagon is looking at cutting back on big-ticket purchases such as fighter jets and Navy ships.

The drone electronics industry now generates about $3 billion in revenue, but that's expected to double to $6 billion in the next eight years, Teal Group estimates.

The industry's projected growth has fueled a surge in mergers and acquisitions of companies that develop and make the parts for the sensor systems, many of them in Southern California.

"There has been an explosion in the reconnaissance market," said Jon B. Kutler, founder of Admiralty Partners, a Century City private investment firm that buys and sells small defense firms."It's one of the few remaining growth areas."

Kutler's company recently acquired Torrance-based Trident Space & Defense, which manufactures hard drives that enable drones to store high-resolution images.

Trident, which has about 70 employees, has seen its sales more than double to about $40 million over the last five years.

The demand for sensors is growing as the Pentagon steps up use of drones for intelligence gathering.

More than 7,000 drones — ranging from the small, hand-launched Raven to the massive Global Hawk — are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though some have been outfitted with laser-guided bombs or missiles — grabbing most of the news headlines — all are equipped with sensors for reconnaissance and surveillance work.

The most advanced cameras and sensors are on the Global Hawk, a long-endurance, high-altitude drone that can fly for 30 hours at a time at more than 60,000 feet, out of range of most antiaircraft missiles and undetectable to the human eye.

Peter W. Singer, author of "Wired for War," a book about robotic warfare, compares the technology to the popular "Where's Waldo" children's books, in which readers are challenged to find one person hidden in a mass of people.

The latest detectors not only can pick out Waldo from a crowd, but know when Waldo may have fired a rifle. Such sensors can detect the heat from the barrel of a gun and estimate when it was fired.

Many of the sensors have been developed by Raytheon engineers in El Segundo, where the company has had a long history of developing spy equipment, including those found on the famed U-2 spy plane.

Some of the more advanced cameras can cost more than $15 million and take 18 months to make. Raytheon develops the cameras in a humidity-controlled, dust-free laboratory to ensure that they are free of blemishes.

Each basketball-sized camera "must be perfect," said Oscar Fragoso, a Raytheon optical engineer. "If it isn't, we know we're putting lives at risk."

Raytheon has begun to face stiff competition as other aerospace contractors vie for its business.

Sparks, Nev.-based Sierra Nevada Corp., which is known for its work on developing parts for spy satellites, has developed a sensor system, named the Gorgon Stare, that widens the area that drones can monitor from 1 mile to nearly 3 miles.

Named for the creature in Greek mythology whose gaze turns victims to stone, the sensor system features 12 small cameras — instead of one large one. It is to be affixed to Reaper drones before the end of the year.

With the multiple cameras, the operator can follow numerous vehicles instead of just one, said Brig. Gen. Robert P. Otto, the U.S. Air Force's director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. "By the end of the year, we're going to be fielding capabilities that are unlike anything we've used before."

But with an increase in the number of drone patrols and new sensor technology, the Air Force will be "drowning in data," Otto said. "That means we're going to need a lot more people looking at computer screens."

The Pentagon has said that drones last year took so much video footage that it would take someone 24 years to watch it all.

By this time next year, the Air Force expects to have almost 5,000 people trawling through the images for intelligence information. That's up from little more than 1,200 nine years ago.

"The reconnaissance work that's being done now takes seconds, where it used to take days," Otto said. "We're pushing the edge of technology."

william.hennigan@latimes.com
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

23735  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Chiropractic for children? on: November 12, 2010, 01:10:00 PM
She says not to worry because she's doing it gently and we are doing it only infrequently.
23736  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Chiropractic for children? on: November 12, 2010, 12:18:34 PM
No trauma.

He had similar issues a few months ago and I took him to my chiro of over 20 years whom I trust and responded very well to the treatment she gave him.  However the alignment issues are back and after a few weeks of hesitation I took him yesterday.  Again he has responded well, but I don't like the idea of an 11 year old boy regularly needing chiropractic.
23737  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Case of the Vanishing Blonde-3 on: November 12, 2010, 12:15:19 PM
Sperling checked and called back two weeks later. He said the only place the shirts had been given away was at the boat show’s food court. The company in charge of food for the show was called Centerplate, which handles concessions for large sporting events and conventions. It was a big company with employees spread across the nation. Brennan called the head of human resources for Centerplate, who told him that the company had put up some of its people at the Regency, but that it had hired more than 200 for the boat show, from all over.

“Somebody has to remember a big black guy, 300 pounds at least—in glasses,” said the detective.

A week later, the man from Centerplate called back. Some of their workers did remember a big black man with glasses, but no one knew his name. Someone did seem to recall, he said, that the company had initially hired the man to work at Zephyr Field, home of the New Orleans Zephyrs, the minor-league baseball team in Metairie, a sprawling suburb. This was a solid lead, but there was a bad thing about it: Hurricane Katrina had devastated the city just months earlier, and the residents of Metairie had been evacuated. It was a community scattered to the winds.

Good News, Bad News
Brennan was stubborn. He was now months into this effort to identify and find the man responsible for raping and beating a woman he had never met. There was no way that what he was being paid for the job was worth the hours he was putting in. Nobody else cared as much as he did. What the hotel’s insurers really wanted, Brennan knew, was for him to tell them that the victim was a hooker, and that she had been beaten by one of her johns, which would go a long way toward freeing them from any liability. But this wasn’t true, and he had told them at the outset that the truth was all they would get from him. Detective Foote was openly skeptical. He had given Brennan all the information he had. He had more pressing cases with real leads and real prospects.

But Brennan had a picture in his head. He could see this big man with glasses coolly going about his business day to day—smug, chatting up the girls, no doubt looking for his next victim, comfortable, certain that his crimes left no trail.

Katrina was the bad thing about the New Orleans lead, but there was also a good thing. Brennan had a buddy on the police force there, a Captain Ernest Demma. Some years earlier, on a vacation to the French Quarter with his kids, Brennan had risked his hide helping Demma subdue a prisoner who had violently turned on him.

“The guy had broken away from me,” Demma recalled, “and out of nowhere comes this guy in a black jacket flying down the sidewalk, who runs him down, tackles him, and held the guy until my men could subdue him. He was fantastic.” It was the kind of gesture a cop never forgets. Demma dubbed Brennan “Batman.” New Orleans may have been down for the count, but when Batman called, Demma was up for anything.

The captain sent one of his sergeants out to Zephyr Field, where the club was working overtime to get its storm-ravaged facility ready to open the 2006 season. Demma called Brennan back: “The good news is: I know who this guy is.”

“What’s the bad news?”

“His name is Mike Jones, there’s probably only a million of them, and he doesn’t work there anymore, and nobody knows where he went.”

Still, a name! Brennan thanked Demma and went back to the Regency database, and, sure enough, he found that there had indeed been a guest named Mike Jones staying at the hotel when the attack occurred. He had checked in on February 14, seven days before the rape and assault, and he had checked out on the 22nd, one day after he was seen rolling his suitcase to the car. The full name on his Visa card was Michael Lee Jones. The card had been canceled, and the address was for a Virginia residence Jones had vacated years earlier. He had left no forwarding address. Brennan lacked authority to subpoena further information from the credit-card company, and the evidence he had was still too slight to get Miami-Dade police involved. The phone number Jones had left with registration was a number for Centerplate.

But the trail was warm again. Brennan knew that Jones no longer worked for Centerplate, and the people there didn’t know where he was, but the detective thought he knew certain things about his prey. Judging by the nonchalance he showed hauling a young woman’s body out of the hotel stuffed in a suitcase, Brennan suspected that this was a practiced routine. The Centerplate job had kept him moving from city to city, all expenses paid, a perfect setup for a serial rapist with a method that was tried and true. If Jones was his man, then he wouldn’t give up an arrangement like that. If he wasn’t employed by Centerplate anymore, where would somebody with his work experience go next? Who was facilitating his predation now? Brennan got some names from Centerplate and went online and compiled a list of the food-service company’s 20 to 25 top competitors.

He started working his way down the list, calling the human-resources department for each of the competing firms, and one by one he struck out. As it happened, one company on the list, Ovations, had its headquarters in the Tampa area, and Brennan was planning a trip up in that direction anyway, so he decided to drop in. As any investigator will tell you, an interview in person is always better than an interview on the phone. Brennan stopped by and, as he can do, talked his way into the office of the company’s C.O.O. He explained his manhunt and asked if Ovations employed a 300-plus-pound black man with glasses named Michael Lee Jones.

The executive didn’t even check a database. He told Brennan, who was not a law-enforcement official, that if he wanted that information he would have to return with a subpoena. All the other companies had checked a database and just told him no. He knew he had finally asked in the right place.

“Why would you want someone working for you who is a rapist?” he asked. He was told there were privacy issues involved.

“Get a subpoena,” the executive suggested.

So Brennan got a fax number for Ovations and called Detective Foote at Miami-Dade; before long a subpoena spat from the machine. It turned out that Ovations had an employee named Michael Lee Jones who fit the description. He was working in Frederick, Maryland.

The Interrogation
Michael Lee Jones was standing behind a barbecue counter at Harry Grove Stadium, home of the minor-league Frederick Keys, when Detective Foote and one of his partners showed up. It was an early-spring evening in the Appalachian foothills, and Foote the Floridian was so cold his teeth were chattering beneath his mustache.

When Brennan had called him with the information about Jones, Foote was impressed by the private detective’s tenacity, but still skeptical. This whole effort more or less defined the term “long shot,” but the name and location of a potential suspect was without question the first real lead since the case had landed on his desk. It had to be checked out. The department had a requirement that detectives traveling out of town to confront suspected criminals go as a team, so Foote waited until another detective had to make such a trip to the suburbs of Washington. He got the detective to agree to take him along as partner. Together they made the hour-and-a-half drive to Frederick to visit Jones in person.

Foote had called Jones earlier that day to see if he would be available. The detective kept it vague. He just said he was investigating an incident in Miami that had happened during the boat show, and confirmed that Jones had been working there. On the phone, Jones was polite and forthcoming. He said he’d been in Miami at that time and that he would be available to meet with Foote, and gave him directions to the ballpark.

Jones was a massive man. Tall, wide, and powerful, with long arms and big hands and a great round belly. His size was intimidating, but his manner was exceedingly soft-spoken and gentle, even passive. He wore clear-rimmed glasses and spoke in a friendly way. Jones was in charge of the operation at the food counter and appeared to be respected and well liked by his busy employees. He was wearing an apron. He steered Foote and the other detective away from the booth to a picnic area just outside the stadium.

As Foote recalled it later, he asked Jones about meeting women in Miami, and Jones said he had “hooked up” once. The detective asked him to describe her. “I only have sex with white women,” Jones said.

Foote asked if he had had sex with anyone at the Airport Regency, and Jones said no. He said that the woman he had had sex with in Miami had been working at the boat show, and that they had hooked up elsewhere.

“Any blonde women?,” Foote asked.

“No.”

“Foreign accent?”

Jones said the woman he had sex with in Miami had been German.

Foote was not making Jones as a suspect. The big man acted convincingly, like someone with nothing to hide. The detective was freezing in the evening air. Foote preferred coming right to the point; he was not given to artful interrogation. Besides, he felt more and more as if the trip had been a waste of time. So he just asked what he wanted to know.

“Look, I’ve got a girl who was raped that week. Did you have anything to do with it?”

“No, of course not!” said Jones, appropriately shocked by the question. “No way.”

“You didn’t beat the shit out of this girl and leave her for dead in a field down there?”

“Oh, no. No.”

“Are you willing to give me a DNA specimen?,” Foote asked.

Jones promptly said he would, further convincing the detective that this was not the guy. Do the guilty volunteer conclusive evidence? Foote produced the DNA kit, had Jones sign the consent form, and ran a cotton swab inside Jones’s mouth.

He called Brennan when he got back.

“I’m telling you, Ken, this ain’t the guy,” he said.

“No, man, he’s definitely the fucking guy,” said Brennan, who flew up to Frederick himself, traveling with his son, and spent time over a three-day period talking to Jones, who continued to deny everything.

Months after he returned, the DNA results came back. Brennan got a call from Foote.

“You ain’t gonna believe this,” said Foote.

“What?”

“You were right.”

Jones’s DNA was a match.

Brennan flew up to Frederick in October to meet Foote, who arrested the big man. It had been 11 months since he took the case. Foote formally charged Jones with a variety of felonies that encompassed the acts of raping, kidnapping, and beating a young woman severely. The accused sat forlornly in a chair that looked tiny under his bulk, in an austere Frederick Police Department interrogation room, great rolls of fat falling on his lap under an enormous Baltimore Ravens T-shirt. He repeatedly denied everything in a surprisingly soft voice peculiar for such a big man, gesturing broadly with both hands, protesting but never growing angry, and insisting that he would never, ever, under any circumstances do such a thing to a woman. He said that he “never had any problems” paying women for sex, and that he “did not get a kick” out of hurting women. He did admit, once the DNA test irrevocably linked him to the victim, that he had had sex with her, but insisted that she was a “hooker,” that he had paid her a hundred dollars, and that when he left her she was in fine shape, although very drunk. They showed him pictures of her battered face, taken the day she was found.

“I did not hurt that girl,” Jones said, pushing the photos away, his voice rising to a whine. “I’m not violent.… I never hit a fucking woman in my whole fucking life! I’m not going to hurt her.”

Brennan asked him why a man would roll his suitcase out to the parking lot and stash it in his car at five in the morning, two days before he checked out of the hotel.

“I couldn’t remember if we were leaving that day or the next day. I wasn’t sure.… For some reason, I thought, Fuck it, it’s time to go.”

Brennan was able to trip Jones up with only one small thing. Jones said that his suitcase had only his clothes, shoes, and a video game in it, but when the detective noted the extra tug Jones had needed to get it off the elevator, Jones suddenly remembered that he had had a number of large books in it as well. He said he was an avid reader.

When Brennan asked him to name some of the books he had read, Jones could not. He could not name a single title.

But Jones was unfailingly compliant, and his manner worked for him. Even with the DNA, the case against him was weak. He had ample reason for not having volunteered initially that he had paid a woman for sex—he had a prior arrest for soliciting a prostitute—so that wouldn’t count against him, and if he had had sex with the victim, as he said, it would account for the DNA. The fact that Jones had willingly provided the sample spoke in his favor. In court, it would come down to his word against the young woman’s, and she was a terrible witness. She had picked Jones out of a photo lineup, but given how foggy her memory of the night was, and the fact that she had seen Jones before, unlike the other faces she was shown, it was hardly convincing evidence of his guilt. Her initial accounts of the crime were so much at odds with Brennan’s findings that even Foote found himself wondering who was telling the truth.

Miami prosecutors ended up settling with Jones, who, after being returned to Miami, pleaded guilty to sexual assault in return for having all of the more severe charges against him dropped. He was sentenced to two years in prison, an outcome that Brennan would have found very disappointing if that had been the end of the story. It was not.

Three More Hits
Brennan never doubted that Jones was a rapist, and given what he had observed, first on the surveillance video and then after meeting him in person, he was convinced that sexual assault was Jones’s pastime.

“This ain’t a one-fucking-time deal,” Brennan told Foote. “I’m telling you, this is this guy’s thing. He’s got a job that sends him all over the country. Watch him on that video. He’s slick. Nonchalant. He’s too cool, too calm. You’ll see it when you put his DNA into the system.”

The “system” is the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The F.B.I.-administered database now has well over eight million DNA offender profiles. Local, state, and federal law-enforcement officials routinely enter DNA samples recovered from convicts and from the scenes and victims of unsolved crimes, and over the years the system has electronically matched more than 100,000 of them, often reaching across surprising distances in place and time. It means that when a DNA sample exists a case can never be classified as entirely “cold.”

Michael Lee Jones had left a trail. The Miami-Dade police entered Jones’s DNA into CODIS in late 2006, and several months later, which is how long it takes the F.B.I. to double-check matches the system finds electronically, three new hits came up.

Detective Terry Thrumston, of the Colorado Springs Police Department sex-crimes unit, had a rape-and-assault case that had been bugging her for more than a year. The victim was a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman who had been picked up early in the morning on December 1, 2005, by a stranger—a very large black man with glasses, who had offered her a ride and then talked his way into her apartment and raped her, holding his hand tightly over her mouth. Thrumston had no leads, and the case had sat for two years until DNA collected from the victim matched that of Michael Lee Jones.

There were two victims in New Orleans. One of them, also a blonde, had been partying in the French Quarter a little too hard, by her own admission, and very early on the morning of May 5, 2003, she had gone looking for a cab back to her hotel when a very large black man with glasses pulled his car over to the curb and offered her a ride. As she later testified, he drove her to a weedy lot and raped her. He pressed his large hand powerfully over her face as he attacked her, and she testified that she bit his palm so hard that she had bits of his skin in her teeth afterward. When he was finished, he drove off, leaving her on the lot. She reported the rape to the New Orleans police, who filed her account and took DNA samples from the rapist’s semen. The case had sat until CODIS matched the specimen with Michael Lee Jones. The other New Orleans victim told a similar tale, but failed to pick Jones’s face out of a photo lineup.

Jones, it turns out, had been in both Colorado Springs and New Orleans on the dates in question. So in 2008, as his Florida sentence drew to a close, he was flown to Colorado Springs to stand trial. It was a novel prosecution, because the Colorado woman had died in the interim, of causes unrelated to the crime. As a result, Deputy District Attorney Brien Cecil had no victim to put on the stand. Instead he fashioned a case out of two of the other rapes, calling as witnesses the Miami victim and one of the New Orleans victims, both of whom supplemented the DNA evidence by pointing out Jones as their attacker in the courtroom. Cecil argued that their cases showed a “common plan, scheme, or design” that was as much Jones’s signature as his trail of semen.

The New Orleans victim proved to be a very effective witness. Her memory was clear and her statements emphatic, the outrage still evident six years later, along with her chagrin at the poor judgment she had displayed that night. The Miami victim, on the other hand, was every bit as bad on the stand as the Miami prosecutors had feared. One of Jones’s lawyers made much of the different stories she had told police. Her struggles with English further confused matters.

Jones pleaded not guilty to all charges in the Colorado case. He argued through his lawyers (he did not testify) that the sex had been consensual, and that the woman claiming rape had been a prostitute. But where jurors in Colorado might have been able to accept two prostitutes in different states at different times unaccountably filing rape charges after turning a trick, and in both cases immediately describing their attacker as a huge black man with glasses, they clearly choked on a third. There was no evidence that any of the victims were prostitutes. And then, of course, there was the DNA.

Michael Lee Jones is serving what amounts to a life sentence at the Fremont Correctional Facility, in Colorado. He received a term of 24 years to life for one count of sexual assault with force, and 12 years to life for the second count, of felonious sexual contact. He is 38 years old and will not be eligible for his first parole hearing until 2032. The state estimates his term will last until he dies.

His Miami victim won a $300,000 settlement from the hotel and the hotel’s security company.

Ken Brennan is back doing his private-detective work in Miami. He is enormously proud of the efforts that have locked Jones away. “The cases they got him on, they’re just the tip of the iceberg,” he predicted. “Once other jurisdictions start checking their DNA files on cases when this guy was at large, I guarantee you they will find more.”

So far his hunches have been pretty good.
23738  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Case of the Vanishing Blonde-2 on: November 12, 2010, 12:14:45 PM
He began studying the video record with great care, until he could account for every coming and going. Whenever a person or a group arrived, the camera over the front door recorded it. Seconds later, the entries were captured by the lobby cameras, and then, soon after, by the elevator cameras. Room-key records showed the arrivals entering their rooms. Likewise, those departing were recorded in the opposite sequence: elevator, lobby, front door. The parking-lot cameras recorded cars coming and going. One by one, Brennan eliminated scores of potential suspects. If someone had left the hotel before the victim re-entered her room, and did not return, he could not have attacked her. Such people were eliminated. Those who entered and were not seen to leave were also eliminated, and likewise anyone exiting the hotel without a bag, or carrying only a small bag. Brennan eliminated no one without a clear reason, not even women or families. He watched carefully for any sign of someone behaving nervously, or erratically.

This painstaking process ultimately left him with only one suspect: the man seen entering the elevator behind the victim at 3:41 A.M. He was a very large black man with glasses, who looked to be at least six four and upwards of 300 pounds. He and the woman are seen casually talking as they enter the elevator. The same man emerges from the elevator into the lobby less than two hours later, at 5:28 A.M., pulling a suitcase with wheels. The camera over the front door records him rolling the suitcase out toward the parking lot at a casual stroll. He returns less than an hour later, shortly before dawn, without the bag. He gets back on the elevator and heads upstairs.

Why would a man haul his luggage out of an airport hotel early in the morning, when he was not checking out, and then return to his room within the hour without it? That question, coupled with Brennan’s careful process of elimination, led him to the conclusion that the victim had been taken out of the hotel inside the big man’s suitcase.

But it seemed too small. It looked to be about the size that air travelers can fit into overhead compartments. But the man himself was so big, perhaps the size of the bag was an illusion. Brennan studied the video as the man exited the elevator and also as he left the hotel, then measured the doorways of both. When he matched visible reference points in the video—the number of tiles to each side of the bag as it was wheeled out the front door, and the height of a bar that ran around the inside of the elevator—he was able to get a close approximation of the suitcase’s actual size. He obtained one that fit those measurements, which was larger than the bag on the video had appeared to be, and invited a flexible young woman whose proportions matched the victim’s to curl up inside it. She fit.

He scrutinized the video still more closely, watching it again and again. The man steps off the elevator rolling the bag behind him. As he does, the wheels catch momentarily in the space between the elevator floor and the ground floor, just for a split second. It was hardly noticeable if you weren’t looking for it. The man has to give the bag a tug to get it unstuck.

And that clinched it. That tiny tug. The bag had to have been heavy to get stuck. Brennan was now convinced. This is the guy. No matter what the victim had said—that she had been attacked by two or maybe three men, that they were “white,” that they spoke with accents that sounded Hispanic or perhaps Romanian—Brennan was convinced her attacker had to be this man.

The detective was struck by something else. His suspect was entirely collected. Cool and calm, entering the elevator with the woman, exiting with the suitcase, pulling it behind him out to the parking lot, then strolling back less than an hour later. Brennan had been a cop. He had seen ordinary men caught up in the aftermath of a violent crime. They were beside themselves. Shaking. Panicky. If a man rapes and beats a woman to the point where he thinks she’s dead, and then hauls the body out to dump it in the weeds, does he come strolling back into the same hotel as if nothing happened? An ordinary attacker would have been two states away by noon.

What this man’s demeanor suggested to Brennan was chilling.

He’s good at this.
He’s done this before.

The “Mercury” Man

Brennan called a meeting at the hotel on November 17, 2005. The owners were there, the insurance adjusters, and the lawyers—in other words, the people who had hired him. They met in a boardroom. On a laptop screen, Brennan pulled up the image of the large man pulling his suitcase off the elevator.

He said, “This is the guy that did it. That girl is inside that suitcase.”

There was some snickering.

“How do you come up with that?” he was asked. Brennan described his process of elimination, how he had narrowed and narrowed the search, until it led him to this man.

They weren’t buying it.

“Didn’t the victim say that she was attacked by two white guys?” one of them asked.

“I’m telling you,” said Brennan. “This is the guy. Let me run with it a little bit. If you’re willing to give me the resources, I’ll track this guy down.”

He told them that it was a complete win-win. The hotel’s liability in the civil suit would go way down if he could show that the woman had not been attacked by a hotel employee. “What could be better?” he said. “Think how good you’ll look if we actually catch the guy responsible. You’d be solving a horrible crime!”

They seemed distinctly unmoved.

“Look at how cool this guy is,” he told them, replaying the video. “He just raped and beat a woman to death, or thinks he has, and it’s not like he’s all nervous and jittery. He’s cool as a clam! Tell me the kind of person who could do such a thing and be this nonchalant. This ain’t the only time he’s done this.”

A discussion ensued. There were some in the room who wanted to find the rapist, but the decision was primarily a business calculation. It was about weighing the detective’s fee against a chance to limit their exposure. Brennan didn’t care what their reasons were; he just wanted to keep going. Old instincts had been aroused. He had never even met the victim, but with her attacker in his sights, he wanted him badly. Here was a guy who was walking around almost a year later, certain he had gotten away with his crime. Brennan wanted what all detectives want: the gotcha! He wanted to see the look on the guy’s face.

It was close, but in the end the hotel suits decided to let him keep working. Having overcome their skepticism so narrowly, Brennan was even more determined to prove he was right.

The hotel’s records were useless. There were too many rooms and there was too much turnover to scrutinize every guest. Even if the hotel staff remembered a 300-pound black man with glasses, which they did not, there was no way to tell whether he was a registered hotel guest or a visitor, or if he was sharing someone else’s room. Even in cases where they photocopied a guest’s driver’s license, which they did not do faithfully, the image came up so muddy that there was no way to make out the face.

So he went back to the video. Now that he knew whom he was looking for, Brennan scrutinized every appearance of his suspect, at the elevator, in the lobby, at the hotel restaurant, at the front door. In one of the video snippets at the elevator, the suspect is seen walking with a fit black man wearing a white T-shirt with the word “Mercury” on the front, which meant nothing to Brennan. His first thoughts were the car company, or the planet, or the element. There was nothing there he could work with. The manner of both men on the snippet suggested that they knew each other. They walked past the elevator and turned to their right, in the direction of the restaurant. So Brennan hunted up video from the restaurant surveillance camera, and, sure enough, it captured the two entering. As Brennan reviewed more video, he saw the big black man with the other man quite frequently, so he suspected that the two had been in town together. The man in the T-shirt had an ID tag on a string around his neck, but it was too small to read on the screen. Brennan called NASA to see if they had a way to enhance the picture. He described the camera and was told that it couldn’t be done.

Again, back to the video. In the restaurant footage, the man in the T-shirt is momentarily seen from behind, revealing another word, on the back of the T-shirt. The best view comes in a split second as he sidesteps someone leaving, giving the camera a better angle. Brennan could see the letter V at the beginning of the word, and O at the end. He could make out a vague pattern of script in the middle, but could not be sure of the exact letters. It was like looking at an eye chart when you need stronger glasses; you take a guess. It looked to him as if the word was “Verado.” It meant nothing to him, but that was his hunch. So he Googled it and found that “Verado” was the name of a new outboard engine manufactured by Mercury Marine, the boat-engine manufacturer.

There had been a big boat show in Miami in February, when the incident happened. Perhaps the man in the white T-shirt had been working at the show for Mercury Marine, and if he had, maybe his big friend had, too.

Mercury Marine is a subsidiary of the Brunswick Corporation, which also manufactures billiards and bowling equipment and other recreational products. Brennan called its head of security, Alan Sperling, and explained what he was trying to do. His first thought was that the company might have put its boat-show employees up at the Airport Regency. If it had, he might be able to identify and locate the man in the picture through the company. Sperling checked, and, no, Mercury’s employees had stayed at a different hotel. Brennan racked his brain. Had any of the crews who set up the company’s booth stayed at the Regency? Again, the answer was no.

“Well, who got those shirts?,” Brennan asked.

23739  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Case of the Vanishing Blonde on: November 12, 2010, 12:13:07 PM
Vanity Fair

After a woman living in a hotel in Florida was raped, viciously beaten, and left for dead near the Everglades in 2005, the police investigation quickly went cold. But when the victim sued the Airport Regency, the hotel’s private detective, Ken Brennan, became obsessed with the case: how had the 21-year-old blonde disappeared from her room, unseen by security cameras? The author follows Brennan’s trail as the P.I. worked a chilling hunch that would lead him to other states, other crimes, and a man nobody else suspected.
BY MARK BOWDEN

 



Private investigator Ken Brennan (foreground) and retired Miami-Dade police detective Allen Foote



From the start, it was a bad case.

A battered 21-year-old woman with long blond curls was discovered facedown in the weeds, naked, at the western edge of Miami, where the neat grid of outer suburbia butts up against the high grass and black mud of the Everglades. It was early on a winter morning in 2005. A local power-company worker was driving by the empty lots of an unbuilt cul-de-sac when he saw her.

And much to his surprise, she was alive. She was still unconscious when the police airlifted her to Jackson Memorial Hospital. When she woke up in its trauma center, she could remember little about what had happened to her, but her body told an ugly tale. She had been raped, badly beaten, and left for dead. There was severe head trauma; she had suffered brain-rattling blows. Semen was recovered from inside her. The bones around her right eye were shattered. She was terrified and confused. She bent English to her native Ukrainian grammar and syntax, dropping pronouns and inverting standard sentence structure, which made her hard to understand. And one of the first things she asked for on waking was her lawyer. That was unusual.

Miami-Dade detectives learned that she had been living for months at the Airport Regency Hotel, eight miles from where she was found. It is one of those crisply efficient overnight spots in the orbit of major airports that cater to travelers needing a bed between legs of long flights. She was employed by a cruise-ship line and had severely cut her finger on the job, so she was being put up at the hotel by her employers while she healed. The assault had begun, she said, in her room, on the fourth floor. She described her attackers as two or three white men who spoke with accents that she heard as “Hispanic,” but she wasn’t certain. She remembered one of the men pushing a pillow into her face, and being forced to drink something strong, alcoholic. She had fragments of memories like bits of a bad dream—of being held up or carried, of being thrown over a man’s shoulder as he moved down a flight of stairs, of being roughly violated in the backseat of a car, of pleading for her life. Powerful, cruel moments, but there was nothing solid, nothing that made a decent lead. When her lawyer soon after filed a lawsuit against the hotel, alleging negligence, going after potentially deep corporate pockets, the detectives thought something was fishy. This was not your typical rape victim. What if she was part of some sophisticated con?

The police detectives did what they could at the hotel, combing the woman’s room for evidence, interviewing hotel employees, obtaining images from all of the surveillance cameras for the morning of the crime, going over the guest lists. The hotel had 174 rooms, and so many people came and went that it would have taken months working full-time to run checks on every one of them, something beyond the resources of a police department in a high-crime area like Miami-Dade. The sex-crimes unit set aside the file with no clear leads, only more questions. After several weeks, “we were dried up,” recalled Allen Foote, the detective handling the case.

So the action was all headed toward civil court. The hotel engaged a law firm to defend itself from the woman’s lawsuit, and the firm eventually hired a private detective named Ken Brennan to figure out what had happened.

Foote was not pleased. It was usually a pain in the ass to have a private detective snooping around one of his cases. Brennan was right out of central casting—middle-aged, deeply tanned, with gray hair. He was a weight lifter and favored open-necked shirts that showed off both the definition of his upper pecs and the bright, solid-gold chain around his neck. The look said: mature, virile, laid-back, and making it. He had been divorced, and his former wife was now deceased; his children were grown. He had little in the way of daily family responsibilities. Brennan had been a cop on Long Island, where he was from, and had worked eight years as a D.E.A. agent. He had left the agency in the mid-90s to work as a commodities broker and to set up as a private detective. The brokering was not to his taste, but the investigating was. He was a warm, talkative guy, with a thick Long Island accent, who sized people up quickly and with a healthy strain of New York brass. If he liked you, he let you know it right away, and you were his friend for life, and if he didn’t … well, you would find that out right away, too. Nothing shocked him; in fact, most of the salacious run-of-the-mill work that pays private detectives’ bills—domestic jobs and petty insurance scams—bored him. Brennan turned those offers away. The ones he took were mostly from businesses and law firms, who hired him to nail down the facts in civil-court cases like this one.

He had a fixed policy. He told potential employers up front, “I’ll find out what happened. I’m not going to shade things to assist your client, but I will find out what the truth is.” Brennan liked it when the information he uncovered helped his clients, but that wasn’t a priority. Winning lawsuits wasn’t the goal. What excited him was the mystery.

The job in this case was straightforward. Find out who raped and beat this young woman and dumped her in the weeds. Had the attack even happened at the hotel, or had she slipped out and met her assailant or assailants someplace else? Was she just a simple victim, or was she being used by some kind of Eastern European syndicate? Was she a prostitute? Was she somehow implicated? There were many questions and few answers.

Vanishing Act
‘I used to be a cop and a federal agent,” Brennan told Detective Foote, introducing himself at the Miami-Dade police sex-crimes-unit offices. Foote had long strawberry-blond hair, which he combed straight back, and a bushy blond mustache. He was about the same age as Brennan, who read him right away as a fellow member of the fraternity, somebody he could reason with on familiar terms.

“Look, you and I both know there’s no fucking way you can investigate this case,” Brennan said. “I can see this through to the end. I won’t step on your dick. I won’t do a thing without telling you about it. If I figure out who did it, you get the arrest. I won’t do anything to fuck it up for you.”

Foote saw logic in this and did something he ordinarily wouldn’t do. He shared what he had in his file: crime-scene photos, surveillance footage from the hotel security cameras, the victim’s confused statement. Foote had interviewed a couple of hotel staff members, but they hadn’t seen a thing. He’d gone about as far as he could with it. He thought, Good luck.

The insurance adjuster had fared no better than Foote. As Brennan reviewed the adjuster’s detailed summary of the case in early November of 2005, eight months after the victim had been found, it was easy to see why. The woman’s memory was all over the map. First she said she had been attacked by one man, then three, then two. At one point she said their accent might have been not Hispanic but “Romanian.” There was no evidence to implicate anyone.

The hotel had a significant security system. The property was fenced, and the back gates were locked and monitored. There were only a few points of entry and exit. During the night, the back door was locked and could be opened only remotely. There were two security guards on duty at all times. Each exit was equipped with a surveillance camera. There was one over the front entrance and one over the back, one in the lobby, one at the lobby elevator, and others out by the pool and parking lot. All of the hotel guests had digital key cards that left a computer record every time they unlocked the door to their rooms. It was possible to track the comings and goings of every person who checked in.

Brennan started where all good detectives start. What did he know for sure? He knew the victim had gone up to her fourth-floor room at the Airport Regency at 3:41 A.M., that she had used her key card to enter her room at about the same time, and that she had been found at dawn in the weeds eight miles west. Somewhere in that roughly three-hour window, she had left the hotel. But there was no evidence of this on any of the cameras. So, how?

The victim was colorfully present on the video record, with her bright-red puffy jacket and shoulder-length blond curls. She had been in and out all night. After months of living in the hotel, she was clearly restless. She made frequent trips down to the lobby just to chat with hotel workers and guests, or to step outside for a smoke, and the cameras caught her every trip. She had gone out to dinner with a friend and returned around midnight, but she wasn’t done yet. She is seen exiting the elevator at about three in the morning, and the camera over the front entrance catches her walking away. She told investigators that she had walked to a nearby gas station to buy a phone card because she wanted to call her mother back in Ukraine, where people were just waking up. Minutes after her departure, the camera catches her return. The lobby camera records her re-entering the hotel and crossing the lobby. Moments later she is seen entering the elevator for her final trip upstairs. A large black man gets onto the elevator right behind her, and the recording shows them exchanging a few words. The police report showed her entering her room 20 minutes later, which had led to much speculation about where she was during that time. The victim had no memory of going anywhere but directly to her room. Brennan checked the clock on the camera at the elevator and found that it ran more than 20 minutes behind the computer clock, which recorded the key swipes, solving that small mystery. After she entered the lobby elevator, she was not seen again by any of the cameras.

The surveillance cameras were in perfect working order. They were not on continually; they were activated by motion detectors. Miami-Dade detectives had tried to beat the motion detectors by moving very slowly, or finding angles of approach that would not be seen, but they had failed. No matter how slowly they moved, no matter what approach they tried, the cameras clicked on faithfully and caught them.

One possibility was that she had left through her fourth-floor window. Someone would have had to drop her out the window or somehow lower her, presumably unconscious, into the bushes below, and then exit the hotel and walk around to retrieve her. But the woman showed no signs of injury from such a drop, or from ropes, and the bushes behind the hotel had not been trampled. The police had examined them carefully, looking for any sign of disturbance. It was also possible, with more than one assailant, that she had been lowered into the grasp of someone who had avoided disturbing the bushes, but Brennan saw that such explanations began to severely stretch credulity. Sex crimes are not committed by determined teams of attackers who come with padded ropes to lower victims from fourth-floor windows.

No, Brennan concluded. Unless this crime had been pulled off by a team of magicians, the victim had to have come down in the elevator to the lobby and left through the front door. The answer was not obvious, but it had to be somewhere in the video record from those cameras. “Needless to say, the big mystery here is how this woman got out of the hotel,” read the summary of the case prepared by the insurance adjuster. It was a mystery he had not been able to crack.

Brennan penciled one word on the memo: “Disguise?”

23740  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Chiropractic for children? on: November 12, 2010, 10:52:56 AM
My eleven year old son has been having some alignment issues with his hips, which naturally has manifested in some aches and pains in his feet and a shoulder.  I am comfortable with the idea of chiropractic, but my wife/his mom is leery.

Any thoughts/input/citations?
23741  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Laffer: Growth Agenda for the New Congress on: November 12, 2010, 08:35:58 AM
By ARTHUR LAFFER
Since its cyclical zenith in December 2007, U.S. economic production has been on its worst trajectory since the Great Depression. Massive stimulus spending and unprecedented monetary easing haven't helped, and yet the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve still cling to the book of Keynes. It's an approach ill-suited to solving the growth problem that the United States has today.

The solution can be found in the price theory section of any economics textbook. It's basic supply and demand. Employment is low because the incentives for workers to work are too small, and the incentives not to work too high. Workers' net wages are down, so the supply of labor is limited. Meanwhile, demand for labor is also down since employers consider the costs of employing new workers—wages, health care and more—to be greater today than the benefits.

Firms choose whether to hire based on the total cost of employing workers, including all federal, state and local income taxes; all payroll, sales and property taxes; regulatory costs; record-keeping costs; the costs of maintaining health and safety standards; and the costs of insurance for health care, class action lawsuits, and workers compensation. In addition, gross wages are often inflated by the power of unions and legislative restrictions such as "buy American" provisions and the minimum wage. Gross wages also include all future benefits to workers in the form of retirement plans.

For a worker to be attractive, that worker must be productive enough to cover all those costs plus leave room for some profit and the costs of running an enterprise. Being in business isn't easy, and today not enough workers qualify to be hired.

But workers don't focus on how much it costs a firm to employ them. Workers care about how much they receive and can spend after taxes. For them, the question is how the wages they'd receive for working compare to what they'd receive (from the government) if they didn't work, plus the value of their leisure from not working.

The problem is that the government has driven a massive wedge between the wages paid by firms and the wages received by workers. To make work and employment attractive again, this government wedge has to shrink. This can happen over the next two years, even with a Democratic majority in the Senate and President Obama in the White House, through the following measures:

1) The full extension of the Bush tax cuts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives can write legislation extending all the tax cuts in perpetuity. Of particular importance for employment is keeping the highest personal income tax rate at 35%, the capital gains tax rate at 15% and the dividend tax rate at 15%, while eliminating the estate tax permanently. If the Senate blocks this legislation or Mr. Obama refuses to sign it, House Republicans should hold firm and let voters decide in 2012. (My guess is that he'll sign it or have his veto overridden.)

2) The full repeal of ObamaCare, which allows individuals to pay only five cents for each dollar of health care. Who do you think pays the other 95 cents? As former Sen. Phil Gramm notes, if he had to pay only five cents for each dollar of groceries he bought, he would eat really well—and so would his dog. No single bill is more antithetical to growth than ObamaCare.

Repeal could take the form of Michele Bachmann's Legislative Repeal Act, and if it is blocked in the Senate or by a veto Republicans should continue bringing it up every six months. Come 2012 the public will have a clear view of what congressional candidates stand for. The end game for U.S. prosperity is the election in 2012.

3) The cancellation of all spending that punishes those who produce and rewards those who don't. This is really the distinction between demand-side economics and supply-side economics. Stimulus spending and quantitative easing don't make it more rewarding to work an extra hour. If the government pays people not to work and taxes people who do work, is it really so difficult to see why employment is so low?

So the government should sell its stakes in public companies acquired via TARP, sell government-run enterprises that lose money (e.g., Amtrak and the Postal Service), end farm subsidies that pay people not to farm, cancel the rest of the stimulus and return all spending programs to their pre-stimulus levels. Congress should also continually examine spending in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it should return the duration of unemployment benefits to the standard 26 weeks, from the current 99 weeks.

4) The enactment of stalled free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

These changes would spur recovery, but they are just the start. Elected officials should offer longer-term measures that voters can judge in 2012, when 33 senators—including 21 Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats, and 10 Republicans—as well as the entire House and President Obama are up for re-election.

Beyond 2012, the ideal growth agenda would include:

1) A true flat tax, a la Jerry Brown's proposal in 1992. Congress should replace all federal taxes (except sin taxes) with two flat-rate taxes, one on personal income and one on net business sales. The personal income tax would be on all forms of income: wage income, dividends, inheritance (as proposed by Democratic Rep. Jared Polis), and all capital gains. This tax code would remove loopholes and almost all deductions, and the static revenue rate would be around 11.5%.

2) Price stability. Congress should revise the Federal Reserve's mandate, making it serve only the goal of price stability (and not also full employment). In addition, the Fed should follow a monetary rule, targeting either the quantity of money or the price level. There can be no prosperity without price stability.

3) Passage of a balanced budget amendment, without raising taxes. This would prevent government from being able to balance its budget by unbalancing the budgets of its citizens. And it would force politicians to make difficult decisions about what spending is worthwhile, just like the rest of us. (Marc:  How would the language for this read?)

4) Finally, saving the best for last, the mother of all supply-side reforms is incentive pay for politicians (which the comedian Jackie Mason called "putting the politicians on commission"). Politicians must be held personally responsible for their actions. In business, firms align the incentives of decision makers with the incentives of shareholders to ensure that they take the best course of action. Washington must begin doing the same by creating an incentive structure that pays elected officials according to factors such as stock market performance and economic growth. (Marc: For some reason I am reminded of Fannie Mae accelerating its profits in order to pump up bonuses for its executives)

Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).
23742  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: November 12, 2010, 08:23:33 AM
HONG KONG—A plunge in Chinese stocks erased nearly a quarter of a three-month surge, as investors feared that the central bank could soon tighten policy further.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index skidded 5.2%, its steepest decline in 14 months, a day after the country reported a sharper-than-expected rise in inflation. Other Asian markets also fell.

"Investors are in a rush to lock in profits as they are concerned that the central bank may launch more tightening measures over the weekend," said Wu Dazhong at Shenyin Wanguo Securities in China.

There was no official signal from Chinese government about any imminent moves.

Official data released Thursday showed China's consumer price index jumped by a more than expected 4.4% in October from a year earlier, boosting expectations for aggressive monetary tightening in coming days to battle rising inflation. China already has required banks to park more cash with the central bank. It also raised interest rates once and tightened controls on capital inflows into the country.

Other Asian markets opened weaker, but took their biggest lumps at the end of the day as European markets opened and global investors withdrew risky bets on stocks and currencies. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gave up 1.9% to 24222.58, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average lost 1.4% to 9724.81 and Taiwan's Taiex shed 1.4% to 8316.05.

Friday's drops were reminiscent of market gyrations in April, when the euro plunged and Greece's debt problems came to a boil. As then, investors fled riskier assets, including gold, for safe havens such as the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen. The Australian dollar, Korean won and several other Asian currencies weakened.

"A lot of the places that were safe places to hide on bad days like are getting hit," said Mark Matthews, strategist at Macquarie Capital in Singapore.

The biggest drops outside China were in markets that have performed particularly strongly this year.

India's Sensex slid 2.1% to 20156.8, its sharpest one-day drop in nearly a month, on a slower-than-expected rise in industrial production during September. Indonesia's JSX index fell 2.1% to 3665.85, but it remains up 45% this year.

South Korea's Kospi eased 0.1% to 1913.12, supported by technology and financial shares after the benchmark skidded Thursday on selling pressure tied to the expiry of options.

Some saw Friday's drop as a natural pullback. Stocks, commodities and Asian currencies have rocketed in the past three months almost uninterrupted, spurred on by hopes the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program would flood markets with cash. Even with today's fall, the Shanghai Composite Index is up 14.5% in the past three months. The Australian dollar is up 11% versus the greenback.

"The market has been very strong the last few months without any consolidation," said David Lai, a fund manager at Citic Securities in Hong Kong.

While some analysts said the People's Bank of China might raise interest rates by another quarter-point this year, Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong, cited speculation of a possible increase of 0.50 percentage points this year to cool inflationary expectations.

He added that the interest rate increases were unlikely to be "so damaging" to the economy or to the markets, as evidenced by the Indian markets, which recently hit a record high despite six rate increases by the Reserve Bank of India so far this year.

In China, stocks in commodity, airline and automobile sectors suffered heavy losses on mainland bourses. China Southern Airlines and Hong Yuan Securities tumbled the maximum 10% limit allowed by the market authorities. Jiangxi Copper lost 8.9%, SAIC Motor Corp. sunk 8.6% and Yunnan Aluminium Co. slid 9.4%.

Chinese property developers also declined. China Vanke Co. tumbled 7.1% in Shenzhen, Poly Real Estate Group lost 7.3% in Shanghai and Shimao Property Holdings gave up 3.6% in Hong Kong.

In South Korea, the Seoul market erased most early gains, after Thursday's late-session losses. The country's Financial Supervisory Service said Friday it has started a joint investigation with the Korea Exchange to examine heavy selling of Korean stocks by Deutsche Bank on Thursday. Deutsche Bank wasn't immediately available for comment.

The investigation dented shares in the securities sector. Woori Investment & Securities lost 4.7% and Samsung Securities tumbled 5.5%. On the upside, Samsung Electronics added 1.4% as it continues to extend its dynamic random access memory market share.

In Sydney, shares of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group fell 2.1% on speculation of a potential capital raising by the bank if it purchases a 57% stake in Korea Exchange Bank. ANZ is currently conducting due diligence for the stake purchase. Private-equity firm Lone Star, which owns 51% of KEB, is selling the stake in tandem with Export Import Bank of Korea, which owns 6%. KEB shares rose 0.8% in Seoul.

National Australia Bank, which was trading ex-dividend, fell 3.5%.

Banks dropped in Tokyo. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group fell 1.8% and Mizuho Financial Group dropped 2.3%.

Disco Corp. plunged 14% after semiconductor grinding-equipment maker slashed its profit outlook for the current fiscal year. Among other chip stocks, Tokyo Electron fell 3.5% and Advantest lost 2.9%.

In Mumbai, shares of tractor and utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra dropped 4.8%, property developer DLF skidded 5.5% and Hindalco Industries slid 4.7% after official data showed the country's industrial output growth for September slowed to 4.4%, compared with expectations of about 7%.

"With the exception of Indonesia and Korea, India had the weakest year-on-year industrial growth rate of any Asian country in September… The Reserve Bank of India has effectively signaled a pause its rate tightening cycle and today's release suggests this was a wise move," Credit Suisse economist Robert Prior-Wanderforde wrote in emailed comments.

Write to Shri Navaratnam at shri.navaratnam@dowjones.com

23743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: BO administration preparing Internet privacy initiative on: November 12, 2010, 08:20:49 AM
By JULIA ANGWIN
The Obama administration is preparing a stepped-up approach to policing Internet privacy that calls for new laws and the creation of a new position to oversee the effort, according to people familiar with the situation.

The strategy is expected to be unveiled in a report being issued by the U.S. Commerce Department in coming weeks, these people said. The report isn't yet final and could change, these people said.

In a related move, the White House has created a special task force that is expected to help transform the Commerce Department recommendations into policy, these people said. The White House task force, set up three weeks ago, is led by Cameron Kerry, the brother of Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) and Commerce Department general counsel, and Christopher Schroeder, assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice.

The initiatives would mark a turning point in Internet policy. Recent administrations typically steered away from Internet regulations out of concern for stifling innovation. But the increasingly central role of personal information in the Internet economy helped spark government action, according to people familiar with the situation.

The Wall Street Journal has been examining this online information-gathering industry in its "What They Know" investigative series.

Privacy issues are bubbling up on Capitol Hill. Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas), co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus and ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he welcomed the administration's privacy initiative.

23744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: November 12, 2010, 08:12:19 AM
For those of us lacking a spare hour and for those of us needing a bit more of a tease to invest an hour, would you be so kind as to provide a bit more of a summary?  smiley
23745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Blind Pig at POTH finds acorn on: November 12, 2010, 08:07:49 AM
This piece of the blindingly obvious is notable only for who wrote it.

Dangerous Nuclear Illusions
By ROGER COHEN
Published: November 11, 2010

LONDON — A world without nuclear weapons sounds nice, but of course that was the world that brought us World War I and World War II. If you like the sound of that, the touchy-feely “Global Zero” bandwagon is probably for you.

I’m an optimist in general but a pessimist when it comes to nations’ shifting pursuit of their interests. Humans, not states, have consciences. President Barack Obama’s commitment in his 2009 Prague speech “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” was a fine sentiment but a political mistake.

The idea went down well with the Norwegians, who awarded Obama a Nobel Peace Prize he should not have accepted, but overall this prospective peace blossom has wilted faster than a flower in the Scandinavian night.

(A neophyte president should question whether a peace Nobel is in any way compromising — apart from examining the merits, which were dubious.)

There were two sides to Obama’s embrace of a nuclear-free world. The first was the “vision,” as Michèle Flournoy, his under secretary for defense policy, described it recently to the Halifax International Security Forum. It was a form of utopian idealism, as Obama half-acknowledged by saying he would “perhaps” not see the end of nukes in his lifetime.

Visions are nice — Marx had one of classless societies. They can also be dangerous. Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor, famously remarked that people who have them should see a doctor.

The danger was that Obama, very early in his presidency, would be perceived as weak or unrealistic by rivals such as China or enemies like Iran, despite his commitment, for “as long as these weapons exist,” to “maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary.”

That perception of weakness has taken hold, reinforced by his academic-seminar approach to an Afghan surge now just seven months away from being reversed.

The second aspect of the nuclear “vision” was strategic. The idea was that it would give the United States moral leverage in persuading nations to reduce their nuclear arsenals or abandon nuclear ambitions. It would also advance U.S. nonproliferation efforts designed, among other things, to ensure no terrorists ever acquire nukes. The most dangerous aspect of the 21st-century world is the potential ability of smaller and smaller groups to do greater and greater harm.

Here the results have been mixed at best. Flournoy acknowledged that “the example that the U.S. sets probably won’t impact Iran or North Korea directly.” China continues to pursue the expansion and refinement of its nuclear arsenal. France, with its beloved “force de frappe,” was always publicly skeptical and privately contemptuous. Its recent defense accord with Britain was interesting for its inclusion of nuclear cooperation and for Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that “we will always retain an independent nuclear deterrent.” Note the “always.”

Only with Russia was clear headway made. A new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed earlier this year awaits Senate ratification. It would slash U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals to their lowest level in a half-century. It’s compatible with America’s defense needs and should be ratified.

But the “Global Zero” idea is an unhelpful distraction because it inclines Republicans to believe Obama is not serious about maintaining and modernizing America’s nuclear arsenal. Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, said of the goal of a nuclear-free world: “I think it’s a dangerous concept to get into our minds — I talked with some Russians recently, and they scoffed at the idea.”

That’s a fair guide to Republican thinking; and there will be 47, not 41, Republicans in the new Senate, as well as a Tea-Party-revved Republican majority in the House. New Start’s best hope is in the lame-duck Senate. But Obama is going to have to turn the page, dump aloofness for horse-trading, airy-fairy ideals for the politics of the possible, and realize “interconnectedness” is not just the state of the world but also the way things get done in Washington.

As for nonproliferation efforts, they remain stymied by contradictions that a review conference this year did little to resolve. Three states with weapons have refused to sign the nonproliferation treaty: Israel, India and Pakistan. With all three, the United States winks at noncompliance, in the Israeli case through a secret “understanding” struck in 1969. Of course this is not lost on the likes of Iran. The case of North Korea, which renounced the nonproliferation treaty in 2003, has reinforced impressions of American inconsistency.

Perhaps Japan makes clearest why “Global Zero” is a stillborn idea. As the nation of Hiroshima, it has always pushed hard for disarmament. But as the nation facing North Korean nuclear testing and missiles, as well as an ever-stronger Chinese nuclear arsenal, it clings to the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Idealism will not keep it safe.

Obama can’t renounce “Global Zero;” that would be silly. But he should pretend he never said it. His remake for 2012 demands more of Chicago and less of Oslo. Perhaps even Benjamin Netanyahu, who has treated the president with sublime contempt since his September White House visit, would take note.

23746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH continues to struggle with what to do about Sarah on: November 12, 2010, 08:03:10 AM
How’s That Outdoorsy Stuff Working for Ya?
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: November 11, 2010

Sarah Palin says her new series on TLC is not a reality show, and she has a point. The show is not an outdoorsy version of celebrity-dysfunction shows like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” or “The Hasselhoffs.”
“Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” which begins on Sunday, is odder than that. The snowcapped mountains, pine forests and shimmering lakes are majestic, the Palin children are adorable, and the series looks like a travelogue — wholesome, visually breathtaking and a little dull. In a way it’s like “The Sound of Music” but without the romance, the Nazis or the music.

There are a few shots of the great indoors, coyly edited scenes of family friction that are de rigueur in reality shows. In one, Ms. Palin asks her teenage daughter, Willow, to do a chore, and Willow, just rising around noon, answers sarcastically, “Sorry, no can do,” as she inspects the fridge.

But mostly, the eight-part series lives up to its title — the camera follows the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee as she fishes, hunts, dog-sleds and rock-climbs. It’s a nature series for political voyeurs: viewers get to observe Ms. Palin observing nature.

And to her credit, the governor who quit the job with more than a year left to her term doesn’t use the camera crew to recast her image or pad gaps in her résumé. She doesn’t pore over position papers in a book-lined study, phone foreign leaders or even watch “Jeopardy.”

Mostly she has fun outdoors. That includes white-water rafting, kayaking, salmon fishing and climbing glaciers. “You know what they say,” she says to the camera after a disappointing fishing trip. “A poor day of fishing beats even a great day of work.”

When she works, it doesn’t take up a great deal of time. Ms. Palin slips out of her hoodie and running shorts and into a red power blazer, dons an earpiece and talks to Fox News in a makeshift television studio next to her house as her husband, Todd, works the camera.

Her preparation is homespun. “So, Todd,” Ms. Palin asks from her desk seconds before airtime, “if they want a personal example — with all the uncertainty regarding what new taxes may be hit — that would influence how many guys you would hire?”

A reality show is a risky step for any politician, but then Ms. Palin is no ordinary politician. It’s still not clear whether she plans to run for president in 2012, or is just riding high on her popularity and fame. The TLC program highlights her physical bravery, but the series’s existence points to a different kind of courage: Ms. Palin is not afraid to be herself.

The first episode doesn’t show much of the nitty-gritty of handling six children, including Trig, the Palins’ toddler, who has Down syndrome, and Tripp, the young son of their eldest daughter, Bristol. Ms. Palin says they don’t have a lot of household help, but viewers aren’t privy to feedings, diaper changes and vacuuming.

Yet Ms. Palin allows the camera to record moments that may well make her critics snicker, particularly now that Bristol is back in the limelight as an underdog contender on “Dancing With the Stars.” (Bristol first became famous during the 2008 campaign as the governor’s unwed and pregnant teenage daughter; she later led a high school abstinence campaign and is now identified on the dance show as a “teen activist.”)

=======

How’s That Outdoorsy Stuff Working for Ya?
Published: November 11, 2010
In the premiere Andy, Willow’s teenage friend, prepares to follow Willow upstairs to her bedroom. Ms. Palin squawks like a mother hen and rushes over to the baby safety gate on the steps. “See, this gate is not just for Trig,” she tells Andy. “It’s for no boys go upstairs.” When Andy tiptoes upstairs anyway — a move underscored with antic reality show music — Ms. Palin calls her daughter on her cellphone and orders them back down.
One day a hired seaplane lands on the lake at the back of their Wasilla house to take the family salmon fishing and bear watching. The Palins watch, awestruck, as brown bears lope, swim, growl, fight. At one point a bear seems on the verge of charging the boat, a danger that Ms. Palin says “keeps you on your heels.”
Watching the bears delights Ms. Palin, who refers to herself and other female candidates as “mama grizzlies.” She says, “It was amazing to watch this mama grizzly, brown bear, really, protecting her cubs and saying, ‘No one’s going to mess with my cubs.’ ”

Cubs are not always grateful. Piper, 9, confides, “My mom is superbusy, she is addicted to the BlackBerry.” Mimicking her mother’s thumb typing, she adds, “She’s like, ‘Hold on, I’ll be there in a second.’ ”

Perhaps Ms. Palin’s most impressive feat is climbing a glacier with a guide and her husband, a rock-climbing adventure that is obviously arduous and scary. She says out loud many times that she is afraid she can’t make it to the top. Viewers may fear another risk; her high-pitched voice is so piercing it could trigger an avalanche.

There are other dangers lurking back at the house, and those include the next door neighbor, the writer Joe McGinniss (“Fatal Vision”), who rented a house for a while to observe the Palins close up, so close up that Mr. Palin built a 14-foot fence to block his view.

But Ms. Palin is sometimes her own worst enemy, and she is not afraid even of that. Alluding to one of her most mocked mis-statements during the campaign, Ms. Palin poses in front of a mountain range and says, “You can see Russia from here,” then adds with an arch smile, “almost.” (No, Ms. Stanley, Tina Fey said that.  SP said that Russia can be seen from Alaska, which is true.)

Sarah Palin’s Alaska

TLC, Sunday nights at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.

Produced for TLC by Mark Burnett Productions. Mark Burnett, Sarah Palin and Maria Baltazzi, executive producers.
23747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: November 11, 2010, 11:56:02 PM
The G-20 Summit and the Importance of East Asia

The G-20 summit convenes Nov. 11 in Seoul, South Korea, where the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies will gather to discuss the most pressing global economic issues of the day. While there is no shortage of topics to discuss, there are two dominant themes that directly involve two major players, the United States and China. The first is the U.S.-led call for countries that have trade surpluses, most notably China and Japan, to export less and build up their domestic consumption. The second is currency devaluation, highlighted by the U.S. decision to engage in quantitative easing (essentially the digital equivalent of printing money) to the tune of $600 billion.

These themes affect each country represented at the G-20 — and to a certain extent nearly every country in the world. Moreover, due to the fundamental structural and performance differences of the G-20 countries — more specifically, trade surplus countries are opposed to U.S. demands — these topics are certain to be intensely debated.

But currency devaluation and trade are not the only reasons that Seoul, and the Asia Pacific region as a whole, is an important place to watch to gauge the temperature of some of the world’s major players. This region, not coincidentally, has drawn the attention of two countries for reasons that are only partially related to the rapid economic growth and dynamism that has come to mark East Asia over the past few decades, reasons that are more geopolitical in nature.

“There are many dynamics that will shape, and limit, the form of engagement that Russia and the United States will have with East Asia.”
One of these countries is the United States. Over the past decade, much of the United States’ attention and resources have been focused on the Middle East and South Asia. But as the United States extricates itself from Iraq (however tentatively) and is in the process of beginning a similar withdrawal from Afghanistan starting in 2011, there are other potential threats and challengers emerging in Eurasia that await Washington. One of these is China, which has become increasingly assertive in its Southeast Asian periphery and further abroad as Beijing seeks to secure the resources it needs to keep its economy churning. China’s economic policies, such as maintaining a weak yuan, and its strengthening position on the global stage have led to growing friction with the United States.

In the meantime, the United States has begun to slowly re-engage with, and strengthen new partnerships and alliances in, East Asia — a region that China would rather the United States stay out of. Indeed, it is not an accident that U.S. President Barack Obama’s Asia tour, which includes trips to India and Indonesia, comes at the same time as the G-20 summit. Obama will follow the summit by attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Japan, in effect forming an arch around China that notably excludes China itself.

The other country whose attention has returned to the region is Russia. East Asia was a region of tremendous importance for Russia throughout the Cold War, but the Soviet Union’s collapse saw much of Russia’s political, economic and military ties to this region shrivel. The aftermath of the Cold War left Russia focusing first on rebuilding itself and then on rebuilding its influence in Europe, its western theater. And now there have been many signs of an eastward gaze from Moscow — Russia has been increasing its oil and natural gas exports to the region, and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that East Asia could soon match the European market for Russian energy, which for all its extensive, financial and technical limitations shows how enthusiastically Russia views prospects in the region.

But Moscow’s return to the region has not entirely been benevolent. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was recently the first Russian president to visit the southern Kuril Islands, which are controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan, a source of strained relations with Tokyo. Russia also is in the process of building up its military in the region, from nuclear submarines to missile systems, increasing Japanese fears further. This antagonism with Japan is one of many issues that has actually driven Russia closer to the Chinese, though the two still have fundamental differences.

There are many dynamics that will shape, and limit, the form of engagement that Russia and the United States will have with East Asia. But it is clear that East Asia has become the center of a strategic and geopolitical focus for many reasons, and it is no coincidence that U.S. attention, Russian re-engagement, and the G-20 — both the site and the issues that it will see discussed — all coalesce around the same location.

23748  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: November 11, 2010, 08:50:25 PM
Do you have the one of him bowing to the mayor of some town in Florida?
23749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on the new government on: November 11, 2010, 05:29:27 PM
Analyst Kamran Bokhari examines Iran’s influence over the Nov. 11 formation of the new Iraqi government.

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

After eight months of excruciatingly complex and drawn out negotiations at both the intra and intercommunal level, the Iraqi factions have finally agreed upon some semblance of a preliminary government. The ongoing lengthy process underscores the extent of influence Iran enjoys in its western neighbor and the fact that this is not your normal jockeying for power that one sees in most countries after an election.

What we have here is a very preliminary form of government emerging as a result of negotiations between the various factions. Today’s session of parliament elected a speaker and his two deputies. The speaker is a Sunni which was the case in the outgoing parliament, and he has two deputies one each from amongst the Shia and Kurdish communities.

In addition to the election of the speaker and the two deputy speakers the house also reelected President Jalal Talabani for another term. What is interesting here is that Jalal Talabiani was elected in two phases of voting and the Sunnis largely walked out of the session when that was taking place. So we enter into a new controversy in which the Sunnis feel betrayed by the Shiites and Kurds.

One of the most interesting and important points in this eight month saga since the election is how Iran was able to essentially checkmate the United States in the sense that the Sunni backed al-Iraqiyah block bagged the most seats in the March 7 election. Yet Iran was able to pull together both the two Shia block that came in second and third place to form a super Shia bloc and thereby claiming the right to form a government in which we now see in process.

in most countries there are democratic elections and then there’s this normal - if there is a hung parliament - is normal jockeying for power between those that bagged the most seats to cobble together a new government. In Iraq it’s much more than just a normal negotiations because essentially Iraqi is a new state. Post-Ba’athist Iraq does not have a lengthy tradition of elections or governments being formed. This is the second government since the overthrow of Saddam.

What’s significant about this new power sharing arrangement is for in the first time the Sunnis en masse were able to participate in elections and therefore pose a challenge to the domination of the system enjoyed by the Shia and Kurds thus far. What this shows is that every time there’s going to be an election for the foreseeable future, we’re going to be going through this same motion again because there is no underlying if you will understanding or formal power-sharing mechanism. It has to be built from scratch based on the results of the elections.

23750  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 11, 2010, 02:15:04 PM
Egypt got its land back when it recognized Israel's right to exist.


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