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23701  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Negotiations with the Taliban on: August 31, 2011, 06:15:58 AM
The Afghan Taliban's Strategic Conciliatory Turn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23702  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: August 31, 2011, 06:12:43 AM
Venezuela - Chávez meets with Russian Minister; produces action plan for bilateral cooperation

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

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

On 21 August 2011, The Managing Director of the National Iranian Petrochemical Organization Abdolhossein Bayat stated that Iran and Venezuela began construction of a petrochemical complex in Bushehr, Iran, pursuant to an agreement signed in October 2010. The agreement stipulates that Venezuelan oil company PDVSA will be able to participate in the Iranian South Pars natural gas field. The two countries are discussing a similar construction project in Venezuela
23703  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: August 31, 2011, 06:12:01 AM

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

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

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

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

On 21 August 2011, The Managing Director of the National Iranian Petrochemical Organization Abdolhossein Bayat stated that Iran and Venezuela began construction of a petrochemical complex in Bushehr, Iran, pursuant to an agreement signed in October 2010. The agreement stipulates that Venezuelan oil company PDVSA will be able to participate in the Iranian South Pars natural gas field. The two countries are discussing a similar construction project in Venezuela
23704  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Operaciones del ejercito Mexicano en los EU?!? on: August 31, 2011, 06:07:40 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

23705  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Southern Mexican Army operations on US soil?!?!?!?!? on: August 31, 2011, 06:03:16 AM
Mexico - President Calderon calls for U.S. action following attack in Monterrey

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

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

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

The United States is expanding their role in the war on drugs in Mexico, allowing Mexican authorities to stage cross border helicopter raids in the U.S., in addition to staging drones to eavesdrop on cartel’s cell phone communications and to capture video of drug processing labs and smuggling units. While U.S. authorities maintain these are not joint operations, rather Mexican operations staged in U.S. territory, cooperation is increasing despite historical tensions between the two nations.
23706  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: August 31, 2011, 05:57:34 AM
Prayers for a particular piece of news , , ,
23707  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / As the gun cycles; more Fast & Furious on: August 30, 2011, 05:11:37 PM

Acting Director Melson and the AZ US Attorney are out:

Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson has been reassigned to a lesser post in the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney for Arizona was also pushed out Tuesday as fallout from Operation Fast and Furious reached new heights.

Melson's step down from his role as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to the position of senior adviser on forensic science in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Programs is effective by close of business Tuesday, administration officials announced. U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones will replace Melson.

U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke, one of the officials closely tied to Fast and Furious, is also a casualty in a shakeup tied to the botched gun-running program. Burke was on the hot seat last week with congressional investigators and, according to several sources, got physically sick during questioning and could not finish his session.

The purge of those responsible for the firearms trafficking scandal continued as new documents reveal a deeper involvement of federal agencies beyond ATF.

In Phoenix, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, who oversaw Fast and Furious on a day-to-day basis, was reassigned from the criminal to civil division. Also in Phoenix, three out of the four whistleblowers involved in the case have been reassigned to new positions outside Arizona. Two are headed to Florida, one to South Carolina.

Hurley's reassignment came after three ATF supervisors responsible for the operation were promoted. William G. McMahon, a former deputy director of operations, took over the Office of Professional Responsibility. Field supervisors William D. Newell and David Voth also moved up despite heavy criticism.

The moves follow a series of reports by Fox News detailing the face-off between Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, whose investigators have recently broadened their probe. It now reportedly shows a deeper involvement of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

"While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn't off-loaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department," Issa, chairman of the House panel.

"There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted. ... I also remain very concerned by Acting Director Melson's statement that the Department of Justice is managing its response in a manner intended to protect its political appointees," Issa continued.

Operation Fast and Furious, a program designed to track illegal gun sales, turned into an embarrassing scandal after weapons linked to it were found at the scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent's murder last year. Thousands of guns ended up in the hands of Mexican cartel members.

Melson has led the agency since April 2009, supplanting a Bush administration acting director who was also unable to get Senate confirmation over the objections of gun rights groups. It was during his tenure that the ATF Phoenix office began Operation Fast and Furious in the fall of 2009.

According to the Justice Department, Jones will take over ATF in place of Melson beginning Wednesday, and will continue to serve as a U.S. attorney. A permanent replacement at ATF would need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

"As a seasoned prosecutor and former military judge advocate, U.S. Attorney Jones is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position," Holder said. "I have great confidence that he will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in fulfilling its mission of combating violent crime by enforcing federal criminal laws and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries."

Without mentioning either Melson or Burke's role in the Fast and Furious fiasco, Holder also praised the two for their "dedication" and "commitment" to the Department of Justice.

Fox News' Laura Prabucki contributed to this report.

Read more: 
23708  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Justice Clarence Thomas on: August 30, 2011, 03:31:42 PM
23709  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Brave Rabbi loses life in rescue effort on: August 30, 2011, 03:09:16 PM
23710  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: August 30, 2011, 03:04:52 PM
23711  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia yanks Iran's chain on: August 30, 2011, 02:55:25 PM

Yet another deadline has passed this week for the completion of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is staffed with Russian nuclear scientists. The Iranians continue to claim that everything is according to schedule and testing is proceeding. However, it’s much more likely that Russia will continue to string Iran along in this project, along with many others.

Over the past several days, Iran has been extremely vocal in expressing its displeasure against Russia. First, Iran announced that it was filing a lawsuit against Russia after the latter backed out of a deal to deliver the S-300 strategic air defense system to Iran. Then, Iran announced that it was kicking Russian energy firm Gazprom out of a major energy deal to develop the Azar oil field project near the Iraqi border.

So why all the bad air between Iran and Russia?

The first thing to understand about the Russian-Iranian relationship is that there’s very little love lost between these two allies. Iran doesn’t have many allies on its friends list to begin with, and it has to rely primarily on Russia for foreign backing. When it comes to political backing and the U.N. Security Council, help with sanctions must be military assistance, among other things. Russia, on the other hand, views Iran primarily as a bargaining chip with which to prod the United States. Russia is pursuing a broader agenda that’s focused on the main idea of consolidating Russian influence in the former Soviet periphery, amping up the Iran threat every now and then is a great way for Russia to add to Washington’s problems while capturing Washington’s attention on the issues that the Kremlin cares about, whether that entails lessening the U.S. military footprint in central Europe or bargaining for much-needed Western investment in Russia.

The problem that Russia is facing is that a lot of the usual cards it uses in trying to deal with Iran are actually losing their punch. Russia is preparing for a growing confrontation with the United States in the coming months as it seeks to further a new security arrangement in Europe that would be friendly to Russian interests. Russia would like to rebuild its Iran leverage in preparation for these negotiations.

Russia isn’t necessarily ready to overly provoke the West through something like the sale of the S-300s to Iran, but it has been ramping up or at least trying to ramp up nuclear negotiations with Iran, while dropping hints to Western intelligence that the Iranian nuclear program may be further along than they thought, all in a way to try to position Russia as a mediator in this wider dispute.

But the Iranians are understandably very distrustful of the Russians. The delays in the Bushehr nuclear power plant and the S-300 sales have become major embarrassments for the Iranians. Typically, Iran wouldn’t make such a public show of its displeasure with Russia, but right now it can afford to. The reason is because Iran is in a relatively strong position. The United States has its hands quite full in trying to manage domestic pressure over the economy and trying to bring closure to the war in Afghanistan and in trying to develop a coherent policy for the Arab world that is in great unease.

Meanwhile, Iran is in a very favorable position in Iraq, where the United States is struggling to maintain an effective blocking force against the Iranians. If Russia wants to regain its leverage with Iran to use in its dealings with the West, it may have to devise some new angles to entice Tehran while maintaining some plausible deniability with the West. This is why we are keeping an especially close eye on potential third party suppliers — countries such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and Venezuela — who could potentially facilitate deals between Russia and Iran while keeping the more controversial deals under the radar.

23712  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: August 30, 2011, 02:44:19 PM
From the not-always reliable NEWSMAX

Outrage as Obama Names New Voter Initiative After ACORN
Monday, 29 Aug 2011 06:49 PM

By David A. Patten and Jim Meyers

Government watchdogs are blasting the Obama campaign’s decision to name its 2012 voter-registration initiative “Project Vote” — the same name as a group closely linked to the discredited ACORN organization.

Members of ACORN were caught on undercover video giving two supposed clients detailed instructions on how to commit fraud, and ACORN faced a number of voter-registration fraud cases following the 2008 election.

Use of the Project Vote name by the Obama campaign is “truly astonishing,” Tom Fitton, president of the conservative Judicial Watch good-government group, tells Newsmax. “We knew President Obama was the president from ACORN. And if this isn’t an indication of it, we don’t know what is.”

ACORN-linked Project Vote is a Washington, D.C.-based 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports voter-registration drives in “historically underrepresented communities.”

But there is “no wall of separation” between Project Vote and the well-known ACORN organization, according to Matthew Vadum, the Capital Research Center editor who wrote “Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.”

He calls Project Vote “the branch of ACORN that’s most notorious for voter fraud.”

Vadum wrote in an American Spectator piece on Monday: “On registration and mobilization campaigns, ACORN and Project Vote work together to the point where it is a difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference. They share staff, office space, and money.”

As an example he cites Project Vote’s field director, listed on its website as Amy Busefink. In November, she pled no contest to two counts of conspiracy to commit the crime in Nevada of compensation for registration of voters. In January, she received a year of probation and a $4,000 fine. Vadum calls that incident “a major ACORN-approved voter fraud conspiracy.”

Vadum tells Newsmax that the use of the Project Vote name for Obama’s new voter-registration drive “says the Obama campaign is up to the same old tricks, that they’re not afraid of being called out by the media.

They know that they can continue to operate with impunity, encouraging voter fraud, and they’re not going to be held accountable.”

The decision to employ the Project Vote name was clear in a recent email from the Obama campaign: "Project Vote will embark on a voter registration effort to maximize voter participation. Project Vote will drive our campaign strategy — from paid media, to digital outreach, to grassroots organizing and voter registration efforts — to communicate with and engage key demographic groups."

Adopting a name so closely linked to ACORN, and President Obama’s political career, could hardly be an accident, says Fitton.

“It collapses the façade that there was any distinction between the Obama campaign and Project Vote in 2008.”

Fitton speculates adopting the “Project Vote” name is intended as a “dog-whistle” to the Democratic base.

He adds: “If the Obama campaign was intent on trying to disassociate itself from the criminal activity which took place with its vendor last time, which was ACORN, using the name of their partner seemingly would be the wrong way to do it.”

Obama has had well-documented ties with ACORN. In the 2008 race, his campaign paid $832,000 for voter-registration services in key primary states to Citizen Consulting Inc., an ACORN umbrella group that Fitton describes as “an ACORN front.” The money was initially reported to the Federal Election Commission as payments for “staging, sound, lighting.” The reports were corrected after their true nature was revealed by a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review expose.

In 1995, Obama helped represent the group in a lawsuit that forced Illinois to adopt a bill relaxing the standards for establishing voter eligibility, and he helped train ACORN’s staff in Chicago.

Obama’s 2008 campaign relied heavily on expanding the electorate and registering new voters. His political strategists have indicated it will be a key component of his re-election effort as well.

Fitton says the Project Vote name shows that the Obama campaign plans to continue running its 2008 campaign playbook, despite the fraud associated with voter-registration activities that cycle.

“It should alert people to the fact that Project Vote hasn’t gone away,” he says. “One of the big misconceptions has been that ACORN and Project Vote, which had been associated with voter registration issues in 2008, disappeared as a result of the scandals, as a result of the videos. And they haven’t disappeared — the state ACORN groups are still operational, and obviously Project Vote is still using the ACORN method to register voters.”

Vadum, whose book documents 54 voter-fraud convictions stemming from the 2008 elections, tells Newsmax that he expects ACORN to be just as active in the 2012 campaign as it was in 2008, although under a different brand. ACORN’s state chapters have reconstituted themselves under new names, he says, and its affordable housing arm is now receiving money from HUD under a new name.

© Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Read more on Outrage as Obama Names New Voter Initiative After ACORN
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23713  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: August 30, 2011, 12:01:13 PM
Thank you Bob.
23714  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington to Lafayette 1785 on: August 30, 2011, 08:38:08 AM
"Democratical States must always feel before they can see: it is this that makes their Governments slow, but the people will be right at last." --George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, 1785

23715  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Premature celebration on: August 30, 2011, 08:36:13 AM
I would have liked to have seen Friedman address the idea of the benefits of having the Libyans fight for themselves and having NATO to do something with the US in the rear guard-- maybe now the countries of NATO will realize how weak they have allowed themselves to become.

Libya: A Premature Victory Celebration
August 30, 2011

By George Friedman

The war in Libya is over. More precisely, governments and media have decided that the war is over, despite the fact that fighting continues. The unfulfilled expectation of this war has consistently been that Moammar Gadhafi would capitulate when faced with the forces arrayed against him, and that his own forces would abandon him as soon as they saw that the war was lost. What was being celebrated last week, with presidents, prime ministers and the media proclaiming the defeat of Gadhafi, will likely be true in due course. The fact that it is not yet true does not detract from the self-congratulations.

For example, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reported that only 5 percent of Libya is still under Gadhafi’s control. That seems like a trivial amount, save for this news from Italian newspaper La Stampa, which reported that “Tripoli is being cleaned up” neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street and home by home. Meanwhile, bombs from above are pounding Sirte, where, according to the French, Gadhafi has managed to arrive, although it is not known how. The strategically important town of Bali Walid — another possible hiding place and one of only two remaining exit routes to another Gadhafi stronghold in Sabha — is being encircled.

To put it differently, Gadhafi’s forces still retain military control of substantial areas. There is house-to-house fighting going on in Tripoli. There are multiple strongholds with sufficient defensive strength that forces cannot enter them without significant military preparation. Although Gadhafi’s actual location is unknown, his capture is the object of substantial military preparations, including NATO airstrikes, around Bali Walid, Sirte and Sabha. When Saddam Hussein was captured, he was hiding in a hole in the ground, alone and without an army. Gadhafi is still fighting and posing challenges. The war is not over.

It could be argued that while Gadhafi retains a coherent military force and significant territory, he no longer governs Libya. That is certainly true and significant, but it will become more significant when his enemies do take control of the levers of power. It is unreasonable to expect that they should be in a position to do so a few days after entering Tripoli and while fighting continues. But it does raise a critical question: whether the rebels have sufficient coherence to form an effective government or whether new rounds of fighting among Libyans can be expected even after Gadhafi’s forces cease functioning. To put it simply, Gadhafi appears to be on his way to defeat but he is not there yet, and the ability of his enemies to govern Libya is doubtful.

Immaculate Intervention

Given that the dying is far from over, it is interesting to consider why Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, the major players in this war, all declared last week that Gadhafi had fallen, implying an end to war, and why the media proclaimed the war’s end. To understand this, it is important to understand how surprising the course of the war was to these leaders. From the beginning, there was an expectation that NATO intervention, first with a no-fly zone, then with direct airstrikes on Gadhafi’s position, would lead to a rapid collapse of his government and its replacement with a democratic coalition in the east.

Two forces combined to lead to this conclusion. The first consisted of human-rights groups outside governments and factions in foreign ministries and the State Department who felt an intervention was necessary to stop the pending slaughter in Benghazi. This faction had a serious problem. The most effective way to quickly end a brutal regime was military intervention. However, having condemned the American invasion of Iraq, which was designed, at least in part, to get rid of a brutal regime, this faction found it difficult to justify rapid military intervention on the ground in Libya. Moral arguments require a degree of consistency.

In Europe, the doctrine of “soft power” has become a central doctrine. In the case of Libya, finding a path to soft power was difficult. Sanctions and lectures would probably not stop Gadhafi, but military action ran counter to soft power. What emerged was a doctrine of soft military power. Instituting a no-fly zone was a way to engage in military action without actually hurting anyone, except those Libyan pilots who took off. It satisfied the need to distinguish Libya from Iraq by not invading and occupying Libya but still putting crushing pressure on Gadhafi.

Of course, a no-fly zone proved ineffective and irrelevant, and the French began bombing Gadhafi’s forces the same day. Libyans on the ground were dying, but not British, French or American soldiers. While the no-fly zone was officially announced, this segue to an air campaign sort of emerged over time without a clear decision point. For human-rights activists, this kept them from addressing the concern that airstrikes always cause unintended deaths because they are never as accurate as one might like. For the governments, it allowed them to be seen as embarking upon what I have called an “immaculate intervention.”

The second force that liked this strategy was the various air forces involved. There is no question of the importance of air power in modern war, but there is a constant argument over whether the application of air power by itself can achieve desired political ends without the commitment of ground forces. For the air community, Libya was going to be the place where it could demonstrate its effectiveness in achieving such ends.

So the human-rights advocates could focus on the ends — protecting Libyan civilians in Benghazi — and pretend that they had not just advocated the commencement of a war that would itself leave many people dead. Political leaders could feel that they were not getting into a quagmire but simply undertaking a clean intervention. The air forces could demonstrate their utility in delivering desired political outcomes.

Why and How

The question of the underlying reason for the war should be addressed because stories are circulating that oil companies are competing for vast sums of money in Libya. These stories are all reasonable, in the sense that the real story remains difficult to fathom, and I sympathize with those who are trying to find a deep conspiracy to explain all of this. I would like to find one, too. The problem is that going to war for oil in Libya was unnecessary. Gadhafi loved selling oil, and if the governments involved told him quietly that they were going to blow him up if he didn’t make different arrangements on who got the oil revenues and what royalties he got to keep, Gadhafi would have made those arrangements. He was as cynical as they come, and he understood the subtle idea that shifting oil partners and giving up a lot of revenue was better than being blown up.

Indeed, there is no theory out there that explains this war by way of oil, simply because it was not necessary to actually to go war to get whatever concessions were wanted. So the story — protecting people in Benghazi from slaughter — is the only rational explanation for what followed, however hard it is to believe.

It must also be understood that given the nature of modern air warfare, NATO forces in small numbers had to be inserted on the ground from the beginning — actually, at least a few days before the beginning of the air campaign. Accurately identifying targets and taking them out with sufficient precision involves highly skilled special-operations teams guiding munitions to those targets. The fact that there have been relatively few friendly-fire accidents indicates that standard operational procedures have been in place.

These teams were probably joined by other special operators who trained — and in most cases informally led — indigenous forces in battle. There were ample reports in the early days of the war that special operations teams were on the ground conducting weapons training and organizing the fighters who opposed Gadhafi.

But there proved to be two problems with this approach. First, Gadhafi did not fold his tent and capitulate. He seemed singularly unimpressed by the force he was facing. Second, his troops turned out to be highly motivated and capable, at least compared to their opponents. Proof of this can be found in the fact that they did not surrender en masse, they did maintain a sufficient degree of unit coherence and — the final proof — they held out for six months and are still holding out. The view of human-rights groups that an isolated tyrant would break in the face of the international community, the view of political leaders that an isolated tyrant facing the might of NATO’s air forces would collapse in days, and the view of the air forces that air strikes would shatter resistance, all turned out to be false.

A War Prolonged

Part of this was due to a misunderstanding of the nature of Libyan politics. Gadhafi was a tyrant, but he was not completely isolated. He had enemies but he also had many supporters who benefitted from him or at least believed in his doctrines. There was also a general belief among ordinary government soldiers (some of whom are mercenaries from the south) that capitulation would lead to their slaughter, and the belief among government leaders that surrender meant trials in The Hague and terms in prison. The belief of the human-rights community in an International Criminal Court (ICC) trying Gadhafi and the men around him gives them no room for retreat, and men without room for retreat fight hard and to the end. There was no way to negotiate capitulation unless the U.N. Security Council itself publicly approved the deal. The winks and nods that got dictators to leave in the old days aren’t enough anymore. All countries that are party to the Rome Statute are required to turn a leader like Gadhafi over to the ICC for trial.

Therefore, unless the U.N. Security Council publicly strikes a deal with Gadhafi, which would be opposed by the human-rights community and would become ugly, Gadhafi will not give up — and neither will his troops. There were reports last week that some government soldiers had been executed. True or not, fair or not, that would not be a great motivator for surrender.

The war began with the public mission of protecting the people of Benghazi. This quickly morphed into a war to unseat Gadhafi. The problem was that between the ideological and the military aims, the forces dedicated to the war were insufficient to execute the mission. We do not know how many people were killed in the fighting in the past six months, but pursuing the war using soft military power in this way certainly prolonged the war and likely caused many deaths, both military and civilian.

After six months, NATO got tired, and we wound up with the assault on Tripoli. The assault appears to have consisted of three parts. The first was the insertion of NATO special operations troops (in the low hundreds, not thousands) who, guided by intelligence operatives in Tripoli, attacked and destabilized the government forces in the city. The second part was an information operation in which NATO made it appear that the battle was over. The bizarre incident in which Gadhafi’s son, Saif al Islam, announced as being captured only to show up in an SUV looking very un-captured, was part of this game. NATO wanted it to appear that the leadership had been reduced and Gadhafi’s forces broken to convince those same forces to capitulate. Saif al Islam’s appearance was designed to signal his troops that the war was still on.

Following the special operations strikes and the information operations, western rebels entered the city to great fanfare, including celebratory gunfire into the air. The world’s media chronicled the end of the war as the special operations teams melted away and the victorious rebels took the bows. It had taken six months, but it was over.

And then it became obvious that it wasn’t over. Five percent of Libya — an interesting calculation — was not liberated. Street fighting in Tripoli continued. Areas of the country were still under Gadhafi’s control. And Gadhafi himself was not where his enemies wanted him to be. The war went on.

A number of lessons emerge from all this. First, it is important to remember that Libya in itself may not be important to the world, but it matters to Libyans a great deal. Second, do not assume that tyrants lack support. Gadhafi didn’t govern Libya for 42 years without support. Third, do not assume that the amount of force you are prepared to provide is the amount of force needed. Fourth, eliminating the option of a negotiated end to the war by the means of international courts may be morally satisfying, but it causes wars to go on and casualties to mount. It is important to decide what is more important — to alleviate the suffering of people or to punish the guilty. Sometimes it is one or the other. Fifth, and most important, do not kid the world about wars being over. After George W. Bush flew onto an aircraft carrier that was emblazoned with a “mission accomplished” banner, the Iraq war became even more violent, and the damage to him was massive. Information operations may be useful in persuading opposing troops to surrender, but political credibility bleeds away when the war is declared over and the fighting goes on.

Gadhafi will likely fall in the end. NATO is more powerful then he is, and enough force will be bought to bear to bring him down. The question, of course, is whether there was another way to accomplish that with less cost and more yield. Leaving aside the war-for-oil theory, if the goal was to protect Benghazi and bring down Gadhafi, greater force or a negotiated exit with guarantees against trials in The Hague would likely have worked faster with less loss of life than the application of soft military power.

23716  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Black Americans as Victims of the Left on: August 30, 2011, 08:24:01 AM
Very long and I have not read it all, but it comes recommended and seems promising:
23717  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israeli Beckaphobia on: August 30, 2011, 08:13:17 AM

Posted By Steven Plaut On August 29, 2011 @ 12:09 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage |

Israeli radical leftists have long had an intense hatred toward American conservatives. This is in spite of the fact that American conservatives are almost all pro-Israel. In actuality, the hatred of Israeli leftists toward conservatives is precisely because conservatives are pro-Israel. Like in most other countries, the radical leftists in the Jewish State are anti-Israel in addition to being anti-American.

Israeli leftists insist that overseas supporters of Israel who are conservative should be shunned. They demand that Israel proclaim that those conservatives are just not ethical enough to be accepted as friends. Israeli leftists insist that Israel should only allow itself to be befriended by foreign leftists. Never mind that the search for pro-Israel foreign leftists is about as productive as the search for human life on other planets. The Left outside of Israel is almost entirely anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, and foreign liberals are by and large (although not entirely) anti-Israel. Israeli leftists want foreign pro-Israel conservatives to be regarded as personae non gratae by Israel. A few years back, Amiram Goldblum, a professor at the Hebrew University and a founder of the leftist Peace Now, called upon Israel to prevent American evangelist Christians from entering Israel. He objected to them because they are too pro-Israel. The Israeli Left is outraged that Israeli cable TV carries Fox News, because it is pro-Israel. The anti-Israel BBC and CNN channels, however, are fine.

The most dramatic manifestation of the Israeli Left’s hatred of pro-Israel foreign conservatives was evident in the severity of “Beckaphobia” in recent days. The Israeli Left is suffering from an intense phobia regarding conservative media powerhouse Glenn Beck.

Beck was in Israel last week (and has been here a lot in recent months) for one purpose only – to support Israel. He is an outspoken and well-spoken American conservative. His political opinions are solidly conservative and you cannot listen to his recent speech in Jerusalem without being convinced of the sincerity of his love of Israel and solidarity with Jews. You might even be moved to tears (from his citing the Scroll of Ruth, for instance).

The Israeli Left has been jihading all week against Beck. Yossi Sarid, the ex-head of the semi-Marxist Meretz party, crayoned an op-ed demonizing Beck, and just recently had an op-ed in Haaretz claiming that Israel fought the Six Day War out of a Nazi-like quest for Lebensraum (his word) and expansionism. Sarid was joined by lots of left-wing Haaretz writers in Beck-bashing. And even the normally sensible Maariv editor, Ben-Dror Yemini, decided to gripe about Beck. Naturally, Peace Now denounced the decision to allow Beck into the country. The daily Haaretz, Israel’s analogue to The Nation, ran a nasty editorial denouncing Beck. The leftists demanding that Beck be regarded as persona non grata are almost without exception the same people who protested when Israel denied the neo-Nazi Norman Finkelstein, the anti-Semitic Stalinist Noam Chomsky and the pro-jihad pseudo-academic Richard Falk, entry into the country. Israel had prevented those people from entering because of their ties to Islamic terrorists and anti-Semites. The lesson is clear – the Left’s mantra is really this: Israel, hate it or leave it.

Meanwhile, Israeli patriots loved Beck and many attended his rallies. The conservative columnist Caroline Glick wrote:

Beck is rare, because he refuses to bow to the intellectual intimidation and groupthink that plagues the discourse on Israel in Israel itself and throughout the world…. Unlike the leftist public intellectuals such as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman who are celebrated and obsessively covered by the Israeli media, Beck exerts real influence on public opinion in the US. His calls for action are answered by hundreds of thousands of people. His statements are a guidepost for millions of Americans. Aside from radio host Rush Limbaugh, no media personality in the US has such influence.  It is highly significant that thousands of Beck’s supporters followed his call and came with him to Israel for a week to express their support for Israel and the Jewish people. It is similarly significant that millions more of his supporters followed his actions on Internet.

Beck, of course, is also the right-winger that the American left-wingers most love to hate.  He is perhaps the only TV and radio personality who can upset the Left even more than Rush Limbaugh does. But those who hate Beck, in almost all cases, also hate Israel.  True, some American liberal “reform rabbis” denounced Beck for criticizing George Soros and even demanded that Fox News sanction Beck, but if anything, Beck should carry their condemnation as a badge of valor.  And lots of those “reform rabbis” are supporters of radical anti-Israel groups like J Street, the New Israel Fund, Tikkun Magazine, or worse.  Of course, few of those clergypersons have issued any complaints about National Public Radio’s Israel bashers, and none has ever had any complaints about liberals and leftists who appear alongside Holocaust deniers on Counterpunch, the pro-jihad Web magazine.

Some American Jewish liberals squirm when Beck’s name is mentioned because they have a hang-up about Mormons. Give me a nice team of Mormons any day over liberal Jewish pseudo-clergypersons preaching that all of Judaism is really “social justice” and pursuing the liberal political agenda. Mormons may invite you to join their faith and pray for you to do so. Liberal pseudo-rabbis fraudulently misrepresent Judaism as liberal political fads and are guilty of Chilul Hashem (sacrilege). I feel fine with the former. And I salute Glenn Beck.

23718  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: August 29, 2011, 11:04:49 PM
I better get me one of those things! My son is now beating me up The Dune! shocked cheesy
23719  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Computer problems on: August 29, 2011, 10:59:45 PM
Cindy is having some serious problems with her computer.
23720  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Digital Divide on: August 29, 2011, 10:57:01 PM
It is clear that the world changed on 9/11. It is less clear exactly how it did. Ten years later the debate is still open on the wisdom of waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq, on laws that effectively rolled back civil liberties, on the West's relation to Islam, on America's place in the world. But in one respect, the way the world changed is utterly clear—the manner in which we witness news events.

In 2001, few could have foreseen the way the attacks would coincide with a phase change in how we observe and respond to key moments in public life, and therefore how society and culture go on to interpret history. Three technologies that found their footing in the 1990s—digital photography, 24/7 television news, and Internet-supported citizen journalism—came of age that day as some two billion people (a third of the species) watched the attacks unfold on TV and the World Wide Web.

But what we couldn't foresee then is how the act of newsgathering would be turned on its head. Since 9/11, the documentation of conflict—in the form of still photographs and moving pictures, often by civilians carrying camera-equipped mobile phones, whose footage can be viewed almost instantaneously across the globe—actually takes precedent in the public mind over context and analysis. Often, "traditional" media coverage, no matter how well-funded, thorough and authoritative, is not considered credible or definitive unless accompanied by compelling visual evidence.

On Sept. 11, 2001, there was no such thing as a YouTube video. Or a Facebook page. Or a Twitter feed. Cellphone cameras did not exist. Yet legions of people rushed to the site of the twin towers to document the attack and its aftermath. Their images, as much as those from stationary TV cameras or professional photographers, became our window onto the calamity. Meanwhile, countless others used their pagers, phones and PCs to enter firsthand reports of what things were like in Lower Manhattan. Thousands more, forwarding those accounts around the world, helped produce a people's chronicle of 9/11 that corresponds with—rivals, really—the record seen on television and in print.

What was extraordinary that day has become thoroughly familiar. In 2011, when history happens, it is more often than not a nonjournalist with a pocket camera, a blog or a Twitter account who files the initial dispatch. It was a tourist with a camcorder who captured the first devastating waves of the Asian tsunami of 2004. A commuter with a mobile phone, riding the London Underground, took the first haunting frames of the transit bombings of 2005. Nowadays, history belongs to the first photographer to post the pictures of it.

This phenomenon was everywhere apparent during this year's popular "Arab Spring" uprisings, from Tunis to Tripoli, and from Aleppo to the Gulf of Aden. In country after country, abuses were revealed via Facebook postings and YouTube videos. Protests, coordinated via social networks like Facebook, were spearheaded by young people, all of whom had grown up during the digital era. (More recently, both rioters and citizen-response groups in London and elsewhere have used mobile messaging services to mobilize.)

In retrospect, one can only imagine how the assaults of 9/11 might have been absorbed and magnified in the age of the smartphone, WiFi and streaming video. How might the attacks have further traumatized us had the technology existed to allow real-time visualizations of the deaths of thousands of innocents? How differently might the international community have reacted—or might historians have judged the actions of al Qaeda—had workers, trapped inside the World Trade Center, used the cameras on their hand-held devices and computers to record scenes of atrocity and carnage, then beamed those photos and videos to their families?

Instead of a panoramic view of mass murder, witnessed from a distance, would we have seen individual lives extinguished one by one, and irrefutably, in the here and now? And to what end? How, one wonders, would we have handled such images, given the breadth of the horror and the unspeakable depth of the loss?

It is hard to imagine that we would have wanted a more detailed account of the awfulness of that day. Even so, it is hard to suppose that we would rather have learned about the facts of September 11 through the next morning's newspapers. Ten years after, we don't just expect a crowd-sourced profusion of digital images to accompany a significant event as it unfolds; for better for worse, we demand it.

Mr. Friend, an editor at Vanity Fair, is the author of "Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11," reissued this month by Picador. This op-ed is adapted from the book's preface.

23721  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: A short primer on the national debt on: August 29, 2011, 10:52:30 PM
With the national debt certain to be a front-and-center issue in the 2012 campaign, it is important to understand the true measure of its size. That size seems to vary considerably in news reports. Some news organizations use the debt held by the public, others use total debt. Still others report total future liabilities of the federal government, without making clear what, exactly, that means.

So, a few definitions. The total national debt of the United States is the sum of all federal bills, notes and bonds that have been issued by the Treasury and not yet redeemed. The publicly held debt is the sum of the Treasury securities held by individuals, financial institutions and foreign governments. (That's not just the Chinese, by the way. Both Great Britain and Japan are also major holders of U.S. debt, as are many other countries in lesser amounts.)

The intra-governmental debt is the sum of Treasury bonds held by agencies of the federal government, principally the so-called Social Security Trust Fund. The liabilities equal the future pensions, health care, Social Security payments, etc., that are promised under current legislation.

But while the Treasury securities bear the full faith and credit of the United States and any failure to pay the interest or redeem the principal in a timely fashion would be a default, the liabilities are liabilities only so long as current law remains unchanged. If, for instance, Congress were to adjust the formula by which Social Security cost-of-living increases were calculated or change the age of eligibility, future federal liabilities would shrink by trillions of dollars instantly.

Should the intra-governmental debt be counted when discussing the national debt? I think the answer is yes. As the Social Security surplus disappears (it did, at least temporarily, in 2010) as the baby boomers increasingly retire, the Treasury will be asked to redeem more and more of these federal bonds.

Congress will then have three options: cut spending elsewhere, raise taxes, or borrow the money in the bond market, thus converting the intra-governmental debt into publicly held debt. The last of the three options is the only plausible one and so the intra-governmental debt should be counted as though it were publicly held debt, as that's exactly what it will be in the fullness of time.

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 .In absolute numbers, the total public debt as of Aug. 11 was $9.924 trillion, and the intra-government debt was $4.666 trillion, for a total of $14.587 trillion. That's well over 300 million times the country's median household income. Stacked as dollar bills, it would reach 920,953 miles high, almost four times as far from Earth as the moon.

But while these numbers are fun to play with, they don't mean much. It's the debt's size relative to gross domestic product that matters, just as personal debts must be measured against a person's income before they can be properly evaluated. The GDP of the United States was $15.003 trillion at the end of the first quarter in 2011. That makes the public debt equal to 66.1% of GDP and the intra-governmental debt 31.1%. Total debt is now 97.2% of GDP and climbing rapidly.

And it's the climbing rapidly part that is worrisome, not the debt's current size relative to GDP. Indeed, the debt has been substantially higher by that measure in earlier times. In 1946, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, it was 129.98% of GDP. But while the debt had increased enormously during the war (it had been 50% of a much smaller GDP in 1940), it did not increase substantially over the next 15 years. It was $269 billion in 1946 and $286 billion in 1960. The American economy grew so much in those years that the debt, while slightly up in absolute terms, was down to only 58% of GDP by 1960.

The debt grew to $370 billion in the next decade, but again economic growth (and, towards the end of the 1960s, inflation) continued to reduce it relative to GDP. In 1970 it was a mere 39%, the lowest it had been since the depths of the Great Depression. And while the debt nearly tripled in the 1970s (to $909 billion), the raging inflation of that decade caused the debt to continue to decline to 34.5% of GDP.

When the Federal Reserve under Paul Volcker broke the back of the 1970s inflation, the debt relative to GDP began to soar. Why? Because Washington continued to increase spending faster than government revenues increased (and revenues increased a whopping 99.4% in the 1980s thanks to the great boom that began in 1983). The debt was 58.15% of GDP in 1990, a full 24 percentage points above its 1980 low. It continued to increase dramatically in the early 1990s, reaching 68.91% of GDP in 1994.

But then a Republican Congress was swept into power that year, the first time the GOP controlled both houses of Congress since 1954, and President Clinton tacked sharply to the center. In the next six years, while revenues increased 61%, federal outlays increased only 22%. The years 1998-2000 actually showed the first surpluses in the federal budget in 30 years. And the debt, relative to GDP, declined between 1994 and 2000 to 57.3% from 68.91%.

That decline ended in 2001 following the collapse of the dot-com bubble and rising unemployment in the resulting recession. By 2003 the debt-to-GDP ratio had risen to 61.7%. Many blame the Bush tax cuts for adversely impacting federal revenues, causing the debt to spiral upwards. But that is just not true. Federal revenues declined by almost 12% in the early years of the decade, but when the tax cuts fully kicked in in 2003, the economy began to grow strongly again and federal revenues increased 44% in the next four years, while unemployment fell to 4.2% from 6.2%. Federal outlays in those four years increased by only 26.4%, and while the debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 64.8% by 2007, that was still well below what it had been in 1994.

Only with the severe recession that officially began in mid-2007 did the debt-to-GDP ratio begin to soar once more. It reached 67.7% by Oct. 1, 2008, near the end of the Bush administration. A year later, under President Obama, it was at 84.4%, a year later still 93.8%. It is headed quickly towards 100% and beyond without fundamental change in how Washington handles the public fisc.

But a president and a Congress committed to reforming Washington's ways face no insuperable problem getting the debt under control. No one expects the United States to pay off its debt (as we did in the administration of Andrew Jackson, the only time a major country has ever paid off its national debt). Even in a best-case scenario, the absolute size of the debt will not get smaller. But if we can summon the necessary political will, we can dramatically affect the measure of the debt burden that matters: the debt-to-GDP ratio.

Just do what we did after World War II, a period that saw its share of recessions and wars, both hot and cold: stop adding to the debt and let the growth of the GDP bring down the ratio.

If the country can experience GDP growth equal to what we had in the 1990s, the debt-to-GDP ratio would drop, in just a decade, to 56.7%, about where it was in 2000.

But that can only happen if the American electorate sends an unequivocal message in November 2012. Voters did exactly that in November 2010. Will they do it again?

Mr. Gordon is the author of numerous books, including "Hamilton's Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt" (Walker, revised edition, 2010).

23722  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pay no attention to the man behind the screen on: August 29, 2011, 10:47:24 PM

For a guy who spends a lot of time advocating for higher taxes, Warren Buffett does a remarkably good job of minimizing his own corporate tax bill. This is all to the good for Mr. Buffett and his fellow Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, who no doubt can invest the money more wisely than the federal government is likely to do.

Mr. Buffett's recent decision to invest in Bank of America represents another tax-avoidance triumph for the Berkshire chief executive. U.S. corporations are subject to a top federal income tax rate of 35%, the second highest in the world. But the Journal's Erik Holm notes that Mr. Buffett and the Berkshire bunch won't pay anything close to that on their investment in BofA preferred shares.

That's because corporations can exclude from taxation 70% of the dividends they receive from an investment in another corporation. This exclusion is intended to prevent double- or even triple-taxation as money is earned by one company, paid to another company and then ultimately paid out to shareholders. The policy makes sense; we only wonder why the exclusion isn't 100%.

With the 70% exclusion for Mr. Buffett and his fellow shareholders, Berkshire will enjoy an effective tax rate of 10.5% on the $300 million in dividends it will receive each year from Bank of America.

We're tempted to suggest that Mr. Buffett should do what he might call the patriotic thing and volunteer Berkshire to pay the full 35% rate as a good corporate citizen. But even if Mr. Buffett won't say it, most Americans know that more jobs will be created if the money is deployed by the Berkshire bunch than by the Beltway boys.

23723  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Western firms aided Kadaffy's spying on citizens on: August 29, 2011, 10:37:39 PM

The Wall Street Journal
One of countless files from Libya's internet surveillance center.
.TRIPOLI—On the ground floor of a six-story building here, agents working for Moammar Gadhafi sat in an open room, spying on emails and chat messages with the help of technology Libya acquired from the West.

The recently abandoned room is lined with posters and English-language training manuals stamped with the name Amesys, a unit of French technology firm Bull SA, which installed the monitoring center. A warning by the door bears the Amesys logo. The sign reads: "Help keep our classified business secret. Don't discuss classified information out of the HQ."

The room, explored Monday by The Wall Street Journal, provides clear new evidence of foreign companies' cooperation in the repression of Libyans under Col. Gadhafi's almost 42-year rule. The surveillance files found here include emails written as recently as February, after the Libyan uprising had begun.

More on Libya
As Gadhafi Kin Flee, Rebels Try to Secure Oil
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.One file, logged on Feb. 26, includes a 16-minute Yahoo chat between a man and a young woman. He sometimes flirts, declaring that her soul is meant for him, but also worries that his opposition to Col. Gadhafi has made him a target.

"I'm wanted," he says. "The Gadhafi forces ... are writing lists of names." He says he's going into hiding and will call her from a new phone number—and urges her to keep his plans secret.

"Don't forget me," she says.

This kind of spying became a top priority for Libya as the region's Arab Spring revolutions blossomed in recent months. Earlier this year, Libyan officials held talks with Amesys and several other companies including Boeing Co.'s Narus, a maker of high-tech Internet traffic-monitoring products, as they looked to add sophisticated Internet-filtering capabilities to Libya's existing monitoring operation, people familiar with the matter said.

 .Cisco Poised to Help China Keep an Eye on Its Citizens 7/5/2011
Mideast Uses Western Tools to Battle the Skype Rebellion 6/1/2011
Iran Vows to Unplug Internet 5/28/2011
U.S. Products Help Block Mideast Web 3/28/2011
.Libya sought advanced tools to control the encrypted online-phone service Skype, censor YouTube videos and block Libyans from disguising their online activities by using "proxy" servers, according to documents reviewed by the Journal and people familiar with the matter. Libya's civil war stalled the talks.

"Narus does not comment on potential business ventures," a Narus spokeswoman said in a statement. "There have been no sales or deployments of Narus technology in Libya." A Bull official declined to comment.

The sale of technology used to intercept communications is generally permissible by law, although manufacturers in some countries, including the U.S., must first obtain special approval to export high-tech interception devices.

Libya is one of several Middle Eastern and North African states to use sophisticated technologies acquired abroad to crack down on dissidents. Tech firms from the U.S., Canada, Europe, China and elsewhere have, in the pursuit of profits, helped regimes block websites, intercept emails and eavesdrop on conversations.

The Tripoli Internet monitoring center was a major part of a broad surveillance apparatus built by Col. Gadhafi to keep tabs on his enemies. Amesys in 2009 equipped the center with "deep packet inspection" technology, one of the most intrusive techniques for snooping on people's online activities, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chinese telecom company ZTE Corp. also provided technology for Libya's monitoring operation, people familiar with the matter said. Amesys and ZTE had deals with different arms of Col. Gadhafi's security service, the people said. A ZTE spokeswoman declined to comment.

.Journal Community
..VASTech SA Pty Ltd, a small South African firm, provided the regime with tools to tap and log all the international phone calls going in and out of the country, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter. VASTech declined to discuss its business in Libya due to confidentiality agreements.

Libya went on a surveillance-gear shopping spree after the international community lifted trade sanctions in exchange for Col. Gadhafi handing over the suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and ending his weapons of mass destruction program. For global makers of everything from snooping technology to passenger jets and oil equipment , ending the trade sanctions transformed Col. Gadhafi's regime from pariah state to coveted client.

The Tripoli spying center reveals some of the secrets of how Col. Gadhafi's regime censored the populace. The surveillance room, which people familiar with the matter said Amesys equipped with its Eagle system in late 2009, shows how Col. Gadhafi's regime had become more attuned to the dangers posed by Internet activism, even though the nation had only about 100,000 Internet subscriptions in a population of 6.6 million.

The Eagle system allows agents to observe network traffic and peer into people's emails, among other things. In the room, one English-language poster says: "Whereas many Internet interception systems carry out basic filtering on IP address and extract only those communications from the global flow (Lawful Interception), EAGLE Interception system analyses and stores all the communications from the monitored link (Massive interception)."

On its website, Amesys says its "strategic nationwide interception" system can detect email from Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail and see chat conversations on MSN instant messaging and AIM. It says investigators can "request the entire database" of Internet traffic "in real time" by entering keywords, email addresses or the names of file attachments as search queries.

It is unclear how many people worked for the monitoring unit or how long it was operational.

In a basement storage room, dossiers of Libyans' online activities are lined up in floor-to-ceiling filing shelves. From the shelves, the Journal reviewed dozens of surveillance files, including those for two anti-Gadhafi activists—one in Libya, the other in the U.K.—well known for their opposition websites. Libyan intelligence operators were monitoring email discussions between the two men concerning what topics they planned to discuss on their websites.

In an email, dated Sept. 16, 2010, the men argue over whether to trust the reform credentials of Col. Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, who at the time was widely expected to succeed his father as Libya's leader. One man warns the other that the younger Gadhafi is trouble. "I know that you hope that Seif will be a good solution," he writes. "But … he is not the proper solution. I'm warning you."

Computer surveillance occupied only the ground floor of the intelligence center. Deeper in the maze-like layout is a windowless detention center, its walls covered in dingy granite tile and smelling of mildew.

Human Rights Watch
Activist Heba Morayef's emails turned up at Libya's internet surveillance center.
.Caught in the snare of Libya's surveillance web was Human Rights Watch researcher Heba Morayef, who handles Libya reporting for the activist group. Files monitoring at least two Libyan opposition activists included emails written by her, as well as messages to her from them.

In one email, dated Aug. 12, 2010, a Libyan activist implores Ms. Morayef to help him and his colleagues fight a court case brought against them. "The law is on our side in this case, but we are scared," he wrote. "We need someone to help." The email goes into specific detail about the plaintiff, who was a high-ranking member of a shadowy group of political commissars defending the Gadhafi regime.

Ms. Morayef, reached Monday in Cairo, where she is based, said she was last in contact with the Benghazi-based activist on Feb. 16. She said she believes he went into hiding when civil war broke out a week later.

Another file, dated Jan. 6, 2011, monitors two people, one named Ramadan, as they struggle to share an anti-Gadhafi video and upload it to the Web. One message reads: "Dear Ramadan : Salam : this is a trial to see if it is possible to email videos. If it succeeds tell me what you think."

Across town from the Internet monitoring center at Libya's international phone switch, where telephone calls exit and enter the country, a separate group of Col. Gadhafi's security agents staffed a room equipped with VASTech devices, people familiar with the matter said. There they captured roughly 30 to 40 million minutes of mobile and landline conversations a month and archived them for years, one of the people said.

Andre Scholtz, sales and marketing director for VASTech, declined to comment on the Libya installation, citing confidentiality agreements. The firm sells only "to governments that are internationally recognized by the U.N. and are not subject to international sanctions," Mr. Scholtz said in a statement. "The relevant U.N., U.S. and EU rules are complied with."

The precise details of VASTech's setup in Libya are unclear. VASTech says its interception technology is used to fight crimes like terrorism and weapons smuggling.

The Fight for Tripoli
View Interactive
.On Edge in Libya
Track fighting and city control around the country.

View Interactive
.Map: Regional Upheaval
Track events day by day in the region.

View Interactive
.More photos and interactive graphics
.A description of the company's Zebra brand surveillance product, prepared for a trade show, says it "captures and stores massive volumes of traffic" and offers filters that agents can use to "access specific communications of interest from mountains of data." Zebra also features "link analysis," the description says, a tool to help agents identify relationships between individuals based on analysis of their calling patterns.

Capabilities such as these helped Libya sow fear as the country erupted in civil war earlier this year. Anti-Gadhafi street demonstrators were paranoid of being spied on or picked up by the security forces, as it was common knowledge that the regime tapped phones. Much of the early civil unrest was organized via Skype, which activists considered safer than Internet chatting. But even then they were scared.

"We're likely to disappear if you aren't careful," a 22-year-old student who helped organize some of the biggest protests near Tripoli said in a Skype chat with a foreign journalist before fleeing to Egypt. Then, on March 1, two of his friends were arrested four hours after calling a foreign correspondent from a Tripoli-based cellphone, according to a relative. It is unclear what division of the security service picked them up or whether they are still in jail.

The uprising heightened the regime's efforts to obtain more intursive surveillance technology. On Feb. 15 of this year, as anti-government demonstrations kicked off in Benghazi, Libyan telecom official Bashir Ejlabu convened a meeting in Barcelona with officials from Narus, the Boeing unit that makes Internet monitoring products, according to a person familiar with the meeting. "The urgency was high to get a comprehensive system put in place," the person said.

In the meeting, Mr. Eljabu told the Narus officials he would fast-track visas for them to go to Libya the next day, this person said. Narus officials declined to travel to Tripoli, fearing damage to the company's reputation.

But it was too late for the regime. One week later, Libyan rebels seized control of Benghazi, the country's second largest city, and the capital of Tripoli was convulsing in antiregime protests. In early March, Col. Gadhafi shut down Libya's Internet entirely. The country remained offline until last week, when rebels won control of Tripoli.

Write to Paul Sonne at and Margaret Coker at

23724  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ron Paul on Gay Marriage on: August 29, 2011, 08:38:16 PM
23725  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul on WoD on: August 29, 2011, 08:36:09 PM
23726  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul interviewed by Chris Wallace on: August 29, 2011, 08:18:23 PM
Too bad he is so tone deaf to reality on foreign affairs (not to say he is 100% wrong on everything, indeed occasionally some of his criticisms are well-founded but on the whole on foreign affairs he is a one note melody.)  That said, this is the best interview I've seen him give.  Chris Wallace- no easy touch!- seems to be increasing his respect for RP.
23727  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Buffet deconstructed on: August 29, 2011, 06:21:36 PM
A very savy market friend (Rick N. for those in the know) comments:

Buffett negotiated a new issue of perpetual cumulative preferred stock paying a 6% dividend.  A cumulative preferred issue means that all unpaid dividends must be paid to Buffett before BAC can pay any dividend to its common shareholders.   Right now, Treasury has prohibited BAC from paying any dividend to its common shareholders.  Once Treasury permits such a dividend to the common stock, BAC must first pay Buffett all past dividends that it was prevented from paying due to TARP, Treasury and FinReg.


The perpetual nature of the preferred stock makes BAC’s liability to Buffett infinite.  Treasury could prohibit BAC from paying dividends for decades, but BAC’s liability to Buffett/Berkshire Hathaway would still grow.  That liability accrues at $75 million per quarter starting from the end of the quarter after the issue date of the preferred shares.


I don’t think Buffett is betting on another bank bailout.  I believe that he is betting that BAC will extricate itself from TARP and will be permitted eventually to pay a dividend on its common shares.  Buffett has just stepped ahead of all of the little people by negotiating a dividend preference for his shareholders.  Treasury had to have approved this deal because it involves an accrued, perpetual dividend liability.  The cronyism exists in the regulatory approval of this deal, not in a likely bailout of BAC from its Countrywide acquisition.

23728  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stewart on Megan wuzzername on: August 29, 2011, 04:34:37 PM
Gotta give props to Jon Stewart for anally plugging Megan Wuzzername of FOX this past week for being a hypocrite-- contrasting her on entitlements then getting in a snit over someone who criticized paid maternal leave as a scam or something like that.  You had to see it to appreciate-- quite the skewering!
23729  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: August 29, 2011, 03:49:53 PM
Very interesting!
23730  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Market undervalued 65%! on: August 29, 2011, 03:41:06 PM
Monday Morning Outlook

Stocks Undervalued by 65% To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 8/29/2011

Market turmoil and a cycle of shrill headlines and worrisome “breaking news” convinced many to evacuate the equity markets. That was a mistake. The odds of recession are low, but the stock market seems to have priced one in, anyway.

We use a capitalized profits model to value stocks, dividing corporate profits by the 10-year Treasury yield. We compare the current level of this index to that from each quarter for the past 60 years to estimate an average fair-value. Not only are 10-year yields low (2.2%), but corporate profits are growing strongly. As a result, and hold onto your hats, this top down model says that the fair-value for the Dow is currently 40,000.

However, we think the Treasury market is in a bubble. So, instead of a 2.2% yield, we use a more conservative discount rate of 5% for the 10-year Treasury. This generates a “fair value” of 18,500 on the Dow and 1,940 for the S&P 500. In other words, the US equity markets are currently undervalued by about 65%.

Obviously, there are many moving parts to this model. Interest rates could go higher than 5%, profits could fall or both could happen. Profits, for example, are now 12.9% of GDP, the highest in measured history (back to 1947) except for one quarter in 1950.

So what does our model say if profits revert to the historical mean of about 9.5% of GDP? Even in that scenario, and assuming a 5% yield on the 10-year Treasury, equities are about 21% undervalued, with fair value at 1430 for the S&P 500 and 13,700 for the Dow.

 The problem with this scenario is that it takes the worst of both worlds: a major decline in profits and a surge in interest rates. In the real world, a large decline in profits would normally be accompanied by a drop in bond yields. In other words, our model says the risk of investing in equities today is very low.

This is the opposite of what was happening back in 1999/2000. Back then, the market was over-valued and an ounce of gold traded for roughly 4 shares of Intel (INTC). Today it is trading for about 75 shares. Stocks look cheap and we think fears about the economy are overblown.

Yes, it would be good to trade the ups and downs of this market, but we don’t know anyone who can do that consistently. Rather, we focus on valuation, risk and reward. And right now, we believe the reward outweighs the risk by more than many people seem to believe. Fear will not disappear overnight, but the model says it is overblown and stocks are extremely attractive.
23731  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Personal income increased .3% in July on: August 29, 2011, 03:36:49 PM
Personal income increased 0.3% in July To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 8/29/2011

Personal income increased 0.3% in July, matching consensus expectations. Personal consumption rose 0.8%, easily beating the consensus expected gain of 0.5%. In the past year, personal income is up 5.3% while spending is up 5.1%.

Disposable personal income (income after taxes) was up 0.3% in July and is up 4.0% versus a year ago. The gain in July was led by private-sector wages and salaries as well as dividends.
The overall PCE deflator (consumer inflation) increased 0.4% in July and is up 2.8% versus a year ago. The “core” PCE deflator, which excludes food and energy, was up 0.2% in July and is up 1.6% since last year.
After adjusting for inflation, “real” consumption was up 0.5% in July and is up 2.3% versus a year ago.
Implications:  Income and spending were doing well in July, before recent financial volatility, and revisions to prior months show more momentum for the economy. Personal income grew 0.3% in July, as the consensus expected, but a stronger 0.7% including upward revisions to prior months. Spending was up 0.8% in July, beating consensus expectations, and grew 1% including upward revisions to prior months. Spending on durable goods, such as autos, increased 1.9%, showing that supply-chain disruptions from Japan are abating.  Overall consumption prices rose 0.4% in July and are up 2.8% in the past year. Meanwhile, “core” consumption prices, which exclude food and energy, continue to accelerate, up a tame 1.6% in the past year, but up at a 2.2% annual rate in the past six months and a 2.5% rate in the past three months. Higher core inflation makes it difficult for the Federal Reserve to justify doing any additional quantitative easing. In our view, it makes it tough to justify committing to short-term interest rates near zero for the next two years. The Fed must be confused about how core inflation could be rising when the unemployment rate is above 9% and capacity utilization in the industrial sector is below 80%. In their worldview, core inflation should only be rising when resources are constrained, and we’re not even close to that environment in their thinking. In other news this morning, pending home sales, which are contracts on existing homes, declined 1.3% in July. However, given the 2.4% increase in June we still expect an increase in existing home sales (which are counted at closing) in August.
23732  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 29, 2011, 12:39:05 PM
Pakistan, Afpakia really, IS a fiendish problem-- as together we document in the Afpakia thread.

In that it seems we are not likely to succeed in dealing with it there, where then are we to deal with hand-off and related risks if not here?
23733  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 29, 2011, 12:36:41 PM
Good read CCP.
23734  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 29, 2011, 11:31:12 AM
Working from memory:  Pakistan is now the 4th largest nuke power in the world.  The irresponsibility of those running it is well established and the risk of hand off to AQ et al or loss of materials or bombs to AQ et al is substantial.  Their will to act is irrefutable.

Sounds to me like this is well worth dealing with NOW.
23735  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: NATO doctrine and the Libya endgame on: August 29, 2011, 11:20:59 AM
Following months of stalemate between the Libyan rebels and forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, the speed of the rebel advance that breached Tripoli in a matter of days surprised nearly all observers. With airstrikes by Western powers and the fighting capabilities of rebel forces having proved insufficient to dislodge Gadhafi from power, it is unlikely that their effect was enough to cause Gadhafi’s forces to seemingly crumble so dramatically. Special operations forces have been on the ground since before the air campaign began — some have even been officially acknowledged by NATO member states by this point — while information operations to shape perceptions both inside and outside the regime have been undertaken. These efforts, however, rapidly lose their effectiveness when their targets are able to endure the initial assault, and with Gadhafi loyalists continuing to put up resistance in parts of Tripoli and hold entire cities elsewhere in Libya, victory may not be as close as it would appear for NATO and the rebels.

Related Special Topic Page
The Libyan War: Full Coverage
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Immaculate Intervention: The Wars of Humanitarianism
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Rebels based in Libya’s western Nafusa Mountains region entered Tripoli on Aug. 21, pushing through what was widely anticipated to be stiff resistance by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in the Libyan capital. The speed with which the rebels were able to enter the city was unexpected, given the months of relatively stalemated fighting between loyalist forces and the rebels, even with the aid of NATO airstrikes following the U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force in March.

Neither the cumulative effect of the Western bombing campaign nor a spontaneous improvement in the various rebel factions’ tactical capabilities — much less their ability to plan and coordinate — can sufficiently account for the rapid advance. A more compelling rationale for the apparent breakthrough by rebel forces is an aggressive clandestine campaign by NATO member states’ special operations forces, accompanied by deliberate information operations — efforts to shape perceptions of the conflict. Both of these strategies, however, have significant drawbacks, which could be exploited if Gadhafi and his loyalist forces are able to survive for an extended period.

The use of clandestine special operations teams in these circumstances is consistent with basic doctrine and operational concepts of both the United States and many of its key NATO allies. However, these special operations efforts have one significant potential shortcoming: Unless significant conventional ground combat forces are committed — forces NATO is unlikely to provide and the rebels are likely too divided and uncoordinated to provide themselves — the ability to secure their gains can be jeopardized by an opposition force able to survive the initial push. Small, elite special operations teams have little capacity for sustained, manpower-intensive security and stability operations — particularly on the scale necessary to adequately secure a city. It is not a role for which they are trained, equipped or intended.

The effectiveness of information operations also can be eroded when the carefully crafted narrative they built up — for example, that of a competent rebel army winning the universal support of the Libyan public, defeating Gadhafi and taking Tripoli with little resistance — begins to disintegrate in the face of reality. Gadhafi had likely prepared for these efforts by the West. With pockets of loyalist resistance persisting in Tripoli and pro-Gadhafi forces holding entire cities elsewhere in the country, the end of the Libyan conflict may not be as close as NATO and the rebels hope or expect.

Rebel Abilities and Airstrike Limitations

From the outset of the uprising, the rebels in the east, based out of Benghazi, never demonstrated the kind of tactical or logistical sophistication that would allow them to project and sustain combat forces across the long, open expanse of central coastal Libya (Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, situated in the middle of this expanse, remains in loyalist hands). Seizing a well-defended urban area from an opposition force presents enormous materiel and personnel challenges to even the best-trained and best-equipped military force. Rebels in the western city of Misurata proved to be more capable than their eastern counterparts, holding the city since April while withstanding a severe battering by Gadhafi’s forces. However, it was not until the Nafusa Mountain guerrillas farther southwest took the key city of Zawiya and joined with ethnic Arab fighters from along the coast that the march into Tripoli made any progress. (Rebels from Misurata were unable to reach Tripoli by land, but a small contingent reportedly arrived by sea during the assault from Zawiya.)

(click here to enlarge image)
The rebels were assisted by NATO air power (which served as the de facto rebel air force) during this push into Tripoli, but air power alone has a poor record of forcing capitulation by an entrenched enemy. Moreover, none of the members of the NATO alliance that participated in the air campaign against Libya were willing to match the political rhetoric of removing Gadhafi from power with the allocation of sufficient military force and resources to the country (likely meaning contingents of ground troops). Supplemented by sufficient ground combat strength, air power can be an impressive force multiplier. NATO airstrikes did destroy most of Gadhafi’s armor, artillery and command-and-control infrastructure. But by itself, air power cannot be decisive in this sort of scenario — as was shown by months of its application against Gadhafi. Meanwhile, even with an enormous influx of training and supplies, the rebel force was incapable of imposing a military reality, and with the inherent inability of air power to do so, the war was destined to — and did — quickly stall.

Gadhafi was well prepared to sustain attacks from Western air power, having survived the air campaign of Operation El Dorado Canyon in 1986. Airstrikes have long been a mainstay of U.S. strategy, and if Gadhafi did not know this before El Dorado Canyon, he certainly understood it after.

Special Operations Forces and Information Operations

Though the accuracy of precision-guided munitions has advanced significantly in recent years, target designation has long been the purview of forward air controllers. Particularly in circumstances where hostile targets are to be found in built-up urban areas close to civilian and friendly forces and remain indistinct from them, teams on the ground remain essential to striking the intended targets and minimizing civilian and friendly casualties and collateral damage.

The clandestine insertion of special operations teams trained for this task is thus in keeping with U.S. strategy (and by extension, the strategy of NATO’s most powerful military members, which share a common doctrinal legacy from the Cold War). But these covert operatives have capabilities far beyond identifying ideal targets for airstrikes that have a decapitating role, such as the command, control and communications nodes that any dictator knows may be taken out the moment hostilities break out (and likely assume to be compromised anyway). These teams also establish situational awareness and serve in an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance role. They can identify and make contact with elements of the population hostile to the adversary, establish relationships with these groups and prepare them to play an appropriate role as the tactical situation dictates. They can also attack critical targets at decisive moments to throw the adversary further off balance. At the same time, when they determine the decisive moment has arrived, these operatives can also bring the opposition forces they have cultivated to bear against the enemy.

But special operations forces by their very nature are elite, small and extraordinarily limited in how much they can take on at once. They cannot seize, much less hold, a major target of any size — certainly not an urban center. Just as break-contact procedures dictate that a special operations team make so much noise and commotion that the adversary that happened upon it assumes it stumbled into a company of 200 men and not a 12-man team, information operations are initiated to maximize the perception and psychological impact of special operations. They do not defeat the enemy directly, but they are intended to convince the adversary that he has lost. (Feedback from this effort can often reverberate into the global media as actual effects.)

Only then are rebel fighters from outside the city introduced. These outsiders are guided to the resistance movements within the city with the intent of creating a force of sufficient size to consolidate the gains achieved by the special operations forces and information operation efforts and to reinforce the adversary’s perceptions already cultivated by previous efforts. The goal is to prepare the ground in a given location, use highly trained Western forces and the air power directed by them to smash into the city, and then occupy it with rebel forces covertly directed by teams already in the city.

With the exception of special cases like the early phases of operations in Afghanistan in late 2001 (where the United States desperately needed to demonstrate it was executing a strong and decisive response to the 9/11 attacks) and the killing of Osama bin Laden (a highly symbolic act), Western military doctrine is not to discuss or claim victory for special operations forces. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it is often politically important that domestic forces appear to have achieved victory; allowing other perceptions could politically delegitimize the group Western powers intended to assist. The second is that the special operations forces have to be withdrawn quietly and safely — as the political explanation of results on the battlefield often begins while those forces are still in harm’s way. Meanwhile, the manner of their deployment and extraction, the sources on the ground on which they relied and their tactics, techniques and practices in the field are valuable information to be protected both in the event they have to re-enter the city and for operations elsewhere in the world.

These forces, by their nature and by their training, are unknown and unseen. They choose areas of operation carefully, away from observers that might report what they see to entities capable of interpreting them for what they are. This is the art of special operations and is essential for operational security in an inherently perilous environment. This is not only an American phenomenon (though U.S. special operations forces are said to be operating in nearly a third of the countries in the world) but also a defining characteristic of French operatives (particularly in Africa) and British teams. Multiple countries, including the United Kingdom and Italy, have openly admitted at this point that they have special operations teams on the ground in Libya, though they have gone out of their way to emphasize their small size and downplay their accomplishments — seeking to emphasize that they played at most a small role in victory.

All military organizations have training and doctrines. It is very difficult to do things that you are not trained to do and to abandon doctrines that are successful. As rebel efforts in eastern Libya proved, wars are not won by untrained enthusiasts. NATO’s goal, and the goal of the resistance it supports in Libya, is to crush loyalist opposition before it becomes apparent that Gadhafi’s capitulation is not inevitable —sufficient military force has not been allocated to impose defeat. Also, as there are limits on the patience of the domestic populations of the NATO allies participating in the campaign, these loyalists must be defeated before a crisis emerges within the NATO command that makes negotiations with Gadhafi necessary.

Gadhafi’s Response

As demonstrated by the perseverance of loyalist forces in the months following the NATO air campaign, Gadhafi’s forces retained considerable freedom of action, unit cohesion and will to fight. This is merely further evidence of the fact that Gadhafi understood and planned for the Western way of war laid out above. After all, one can anticipate how to respond to a known potential adversary with a known doctrine. Whether he anticipated the beginning of the air campaign in March, it was exactly the sort of attack Gadhafi had already experienced in 1986 and had no doubt prepared for in the years since (though this round has been far longer and more intense and eventually came to include the explicit goal of regime change). Intelligence and counterintelligence efforts of his own — no doubt already focused on opposition groups — would entail continuing to monitor centers of resistance while trying to track down foreign covert operatives.

Gadhafi could have pushed for a crisis within NATO by attempting a bloody, drawn-out fight for Tripoli, but in doing so he would also run the risk of being pinned down, trapped and ultimately forced to capitulate or fight to the death. Though the status of Gadhafi, his remaining relatives and the strength and unity of his remaining forces is unknown, his alternative would be to leave Tripoli before that force is able to mass, declining combat (much as the Taliban declined combat on American terms in Kabul in 2001) and conserving his remaining strength, even as fighting continues in Tripoli and some cities remain in loyalist hands. Meanwhile, Gadhafi will likely initiate counterinformation operations to combat and reverse the perceptions NATO and the rebels have tried to create to undermine the regime. At the same time, the tactics of Gadhafi’s forces will likely shift to falling back to prepared positions in order to continue the resistance.

Searching for an Endgame

The question moving forward will be the nature and strength of loyalist resistance. A negotiated settlement will be difficult while fighting continues. Meanwhile, the persistence of active fighting and Gadhafi continuing to hold out and remain at large prevent NATO from ending the conflict. And with the rebel seizure of many parts of Tripoli, the potential exists for Gadhafi and his forces to fall back and initiate a more sustained, decentralized guerrilla resistance from prepared positions.

Perhaps more important, Gadhafi has freed himself of the costs and challenges of securing and controlling Tripoli, which are now the responsibility of NATO and the rebels. The logistical and security challenges of feeding and controlling a metropolitan area are enormous and without a sizable contingent of conventional foreign troops, the city will remain poorly secured and vulnerable to loyalist cells conducting raids and other attacks inside the city. Gadhafi may indeed be on the run, but that hardly necessarily means that victory is at hand for NATO and the rebels.

23736  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 28, 2011, 11:18:16 PM
OK then, how about a 911 every month?  every quarter? semi-annually? annually?  Bi-annually?  At what point does it get your attention?

Remember 911 was the second time they went after the WTC.  Also to be remembered is that plane #3 was targeting the White House (and went after the Pentagon after it missed) and Flight 93 was after either the Capitol Building or Three Mile Island.  Methinks the one in 3.5 million datum misses quite a bit and misleads quite a bit.

23737  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / ABB on: August 28, 2011, 05:49:20 PM
23738  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 28, 2011, 05:38:13 PM

I get the point, but for arguments sake lets say that the measures taken have been effective and have stopped additional 911 attacks.   As best as I can tell the numbers this guy is using cannot measure and therefore do not take account of, this possibility, yes?   And as such, the value of the numbers is , , , less than as presented, yes?
23739  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: August 28, 2011, 05:33:54 PM
Winniski says the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act and its analogues abroad (including beggar thy neighbor devaluations) caused the Depression by fragmenting the world economy and that the world economy got going again after its re-integration e.g. the Bretton Woods accords and related agreements.
23740  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Older Warrior on: August 28, 2011, 03:15:26 PM
With travel (both business and family) my conditioning level dropped quite a bit this summer and now I have begun rebuilding.  I'm back to the Sand Dune in Manhattan Beach (with my son in tow, his BJJ is already getting more physical grin) and doing open mat rolls on Friday afternoons.

As we get older, it can be very difficurlt in such moments to discern the difference between the inevitable declines of age and using the inevitable declines of age as an excuse!

FWIW my solution is to avoid this apparent dichotomy altogether:  To walk as a warrior for all our days is to increase our impeccablility.
23741  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conan the Barbarian on: August 28, 2011, 03:02:13 PM
Well, this seems to have sunk like rock; the LA Times value as a contra-indicator remains undiminished  cheesy  I guess I will see it when it comes out on video.
23742  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: August 28, 2011, 03:00:31 PM
Grateful for wonderful time with my family.
23743  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Industrial Policy on: August 28, 2011, 11:11:40 AM
You can drive almost anywhere in the state of Michigan — pick a point at random and start moving — and you will soon come upon the wreckage of American industry. If you happen to be driving on the outer edge of Midland, you’ll also come upon a cavern of steel beams and ductwork, 400,000 square feet in all. When this plant, which is being constructed by Dow Kokam, a new venture partly owned by Dow Chemical, is up and running early next year, it will produce hundreds of thousands of advanced lithium-ion battery cells for hybrid and electric cars. Just as important, it will provide about 350 jobs in a state with one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates.

Over the last two years, the federal government has doled out nearly $2.5 billion in stimulus dollars to roughly 30 companies involved in advanced battery technology. Many of these might seem less like viable businesses than scenery for political photo ops — places President Obama can repeatedly visit (as he did early this month) to demonstrate his efforts at job creation. But in fact, the battery start-ups are more legitimate, and also more controversial, than that. They represent “the far edge,” as one White House official put it, of where the president or Congress might go to create jobs.
For decades, the federal government has generally resisted throwing its weight —and its money — behind particular industries. If the market was killing manufacturing jobs, it was pointless to fight it. The government wasn’t in the business of picking winners. Many economic theorists have long held that countries inevitably pursue their natural or unique advantages. Some advantages might arise from fertile farmland or gifts of vast mineral resources; others might be rooted in the high education rates of their citizenry. As the former White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers put it, America’s role is to feed a global economy that’s increasingly based on knowledge and services rather than on making stuff. So even as governments in China and Japan offered aid to industries they deemed important, factories in the United States closed or moved abroad. The conviction in Washington was that manufacturing deserved no special dispensation. Even now, as unemployment ravages the country, so-called industrial policy remains politically toxic. Legislators will not debate it; most will not even speak its name.

By almost any account, the White House has fallen woefully short on job creation during the past two and a half years. But galvanized by the potential double payoff of skilled, blue-collar jobs and a dynamic clean-energy industry — the administration has tried to buck the tide with lithium-ion batteries. It had to start almost from scratch. In 2009, the U.S. made less than 2 percent of the world’s lithium-ion batteries. By 2015, the Department of Energy projects that, thanks mostly to the government’s recent largess, the United States will have the capacity to produce 40 percent of them. Whichever country figures out how to lead in the production of lithium-ion batteries will be well positioned to capture “a large piece of the world’s future economic prosperity,” says Arun Majumdar, the head of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The batteries, he stressed, are essential to the future of the global-transportation business and to a variety of clean-energy industries.

We may marvel at the hardware and software of mobile phones and laptops, but batteries don’t get the credit they deserve. Without a lithium-ion battery, your iPad would be a kludge. The new Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf rely on big racks of lithium-ion battery cells to hold their electric charges, and a number of new models — including those from Ford and Toyota, which use similar battery technology — are on their way to showrooms within the next 18 months.

This flurry of activity comes against a dismal backdrop. In the last decade, the United States lost some five million manufacturing jobs, a contraction of about one-third. Added to the equally brutal decades that preceded it, this decline left large swaths of the country, the Great Lakes region in particular, without a clear economic future. As I drove through the hollowed-out cities and towns of Michigan earlier this year, it was hard to tell how some of these places could survive. Inside the handful of battery companies that I visited, though, the mood was starkly different. Many companies are working on battery-pack designs for dozens of car models. At the Johnson Controls factory in Holland, Mich., Ray Shemanski, who is in charge of the company’s lithium-ion operation, said, “We have orders that would fill this plant right now.” Every company I visited not only had plans to get their primary factories running full speed by 2012 or 2013 but also to build or expand others. Jennifer Granholm, Michigan’s former governor, has predicted that advanced batteries will create 62,000 jobs over the next decade.


(Page 2 of 6)

It is tempting to see in this the stirrings of an industrial revolution. These days, confidence is itself a rare and precious fuel, and in Michigan’s nascent battery belt, there is no shortage of it. As the country’s jobless rate hovers above 9 percent, could this manufacturing revival be part of the answer to the jobs crisis? Or is it merely an expensive government bet on a lost cause?

About 30 minutes northwest of Detroit, just off the Interstate, in Livonia, sits the modern, red brick automotive headquarters of A123 Systems, a beneficiary of about $375 million in federal stimulus funds and matching state grants. (Later in the article it is stated that a plant should generate 300-400 jobs.  If my math is correct this is about $1,000,000 per job) A123 provides the cells for a new electric car called the Fisker Karma, as well as various electric bus and truck projects around the world. A123 is also the first large-scale lithium-ion manufacturer whose domestic operations are up and running, though its pedigree is international. Its battery technology was developed at M.I.T., and for the last several years, the company had been making its lithium-ion cells in factories in Korea and China. When I asked Jason Forcier, the head of A123’s automotive division, why the company went to Asia to make its products, Forcier said he had no choice. “That’s where the supply base was,” he said. “That’s where the know-how was — it was nonexistent in the U.S.”
Repatriating a high-tech manufacturing plant to the United States is not simply a matter of hiring the local talent. It requires good-old foreign know-how. “We call it ‘copy exact,’ ” Forcier said. “We bought a company in Korea that had the technology around this type of battery and had developed the manufacturing process there. We basically brought that here, copied it exactly and scaled it up.” A123 also brought a team of six Korean engineers to help transfer the technology to the U.S. and sent a team of Americans to Korea to learn.

I heard a similar story at LG Chem Power — a battery start-up and an American subsidiary of LG Chem, a Korean firm. LG Chem is building a factory in Holland, Mich., to make batteries for the Chevy Volt. Production depends on replicating the company’s lithium-ion plants abroad, down to the smallest detail. “In fact, we’re making it like a copy — cut and pasted from Korea to here,” Prabhakar Patil, the C.E.O. of LG Chem Power, said.

Neither Forcier nor Patil made any apologies. Each told me that the moves to Michigan provided them with a skilled work force and operating expenses that are largely competitive with factories abroad. (Only 5 to 10 percent of the cost of a battery cell, Patil told me, comes from labor; material accounts for the bulk of expenses.) Each also saw his company’s strategy of importing manufacturing technology to the United States as imperative. A state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery plant is as different from an automobile plant as a science lab is from a gymnasium. Cell-making — the automated administration of thin chemical coatings on the batteries’ inner components; the mechanized cutting and folding of metal parts; the workers in sanitary “bunny suits” overseeing conveyor belts that move pristine cells through sealed assembly chambers — is painstakingly precise. A stray hair or a drop of sweat can ruin a lithium-ion cell. “Don’t touch anything,” Forcier advised me as we began to walk through the factory at A123.

Lithium-ion cells like the ones made at A123 probably don’t look like any battery you’ve ever used. They are stiff, rectangular, metallic-colored envelopes, roughly the dimensions of a thin trade paperback, with two small tabs. Individually, the cells aren’t much use for a car; they must be stacked with others in modules or packs. The Chevy Volt, for instance, has a pack of 288 cells, wired together and running down the center of the car. The pack is the most expensive and sophisticated element of the car, much in the way the processor is the most important element of a computer. Everything about the cell pack — its interior chemistry, its unifying electronics, its cooling systems — is variable and made to order. “With G.M., we’ve been working for two years on their exact requirements for the next-generation Volt,” Michael Sinkula, a founder of a battery-component company called Envia Systems, explained. “They say: ‘We want it to perform this way. Is that possible?’ And then we tell them if it’s possible.”


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The Volt is just one car, of course — one whose sales are unremarkable. Still, the global automobile market is so large that even modest gains in market share could spark tremendous growth for battery-makers. “If you look at the year 2016, and you say, ‘Only 5 percent of the market is electrified?’ Well, that’s a $14 billion market for lithium-ion batteries,” Forcier says. “To hit 5 percent is a huge number of vehicles. And the business around making lithium-ion batteries for 5 percent of the world’s cars is a huge, huge business.”

In the late ’80s, Patil, of LG Chem Power, was working at Ford, trying to build a pure electric-battery vehicle called the ETX and getting nowhere. He was using a more primitivelead-acid battery technology. Automotive engineers tend to use two distinct measures — power and energy — to evaluate battery chemistries. Power relates to acceleration; energy relates to how far a car can travel before it needs to be recharged. The ETX wasn’t good by either yardstick. “The car went 0 to 60 in 12 seconds,” Patil recalls. “Its range was 60 miles on a good day.” The lead-acid batteries were so heavy that the cars were nicknamed lead sleds. With a performance and range so inferior to a typical gasoline vehicle, how could you expect a consumer to pay a premium — what was then about $10,000 — for it?
Eventually, lead-acid batteries yielded to nickel-metal hydride, which was incorporated into the Toyota Prius and, later, a range of hybrid vehicles. At the same time, a more promising battery chemistry based on lithium — with far greater potential for both power and energy — was being developed by various scientists, notably John Goodenough at the University of Texas. Sony was the first company to broadly adapt the lithium technology at its factories in the early 1990s; the company consistently improved the product and began incorporating it into consumer-electronic devices. But automakers couldn’t figure out how to cost-effectively adapt the technology. Patil recalls a “chicken-and-egg problem” as he tried to build a Ford Escape hybrid in the late 1990s. “I used to get thrown out of C.E.O.’s’ battery offices regularly,” he said. “They said: ‘Show me the market. Otherwise, leave.’ ” Patil knew there could be no market in the United States without significant drops in the batteries’ price and significant increases in their performance. But it was a Catch-22. Improvements in price and performance were impossible unless companies became serious about manufacturing.

Federal agencies like the Department of Energy have long financed scientific research — through university grants, for instance — on technologies like lithium-ion batteries. But a basic feature of government policy is to allow corporations and entrepreneurs to pick through the results of that research, commercialize the promising ideas and let the market sort things out. In other countries, it often works differently. Governments are more willing to help companies pool information about a new industry or technology and (especially in Korea and China) assist with the early-stagecommercialization of products, including the construction of plants. While Patil was getting booted from executive offices at Ford, companies in Asia, in some cases with a boost from their governments, focused on streamlining the manufacturing process. Battery performance steadily improved, and costs dropped. By the mid-2000s, it was clear that if the lithium-ion battery continued to get better at the same rate, the product might soon be suited for automobiles.

In January 2009, two weeks before Barack Obama’s inauguration, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan sent a letter to Obama and his advisers — Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and Lawrence Summers — about the promise of lithium-ion technology. “The country or region that controls and dominates the production of batteries will also ultimately control green-vehicle production,” Levin said in a speech he later gave to the Senate. Levin’s efforts effectively laid the groundwork for battery grants to be part of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


(Page 4 of 6)

“It was a calculated risk — a lot of money, to be sure, but given the stakes, I think it was a pretty thoughtful bet,” says Ron Bloom, who recently served as an assistant to President Obama for manufacturing policy. “If vehicle electrification really does take off, as many, many people think it will, and we’re not part of it, then we could lose our leadership of the global automobile industry.” Which would be catastrophic. By some estimates, as much as 20 percent of all manufacturing jobs are directly or indirectly related to the automobile industry. Bloom points out that the United States is not the only country betting on batteries; a number of Asian countries have done so as well.

On both sides of the world, the fundamental appeal of expanding manufacturing is jobs. It is a curiosity of modern life that information companies can create extraordinary social disruptions and vast shareholder wealth but relatively few jobs. Facebook has about 2,000 employees worldwide. Google has about 29,000. Even in its new, slimmed-down state, General Motors, a decidedly less valuable company, has about 200,000 employees. What’s more, that number represents only a fraction of the people behind the production of a G.M. car. “When you’re manufacturing anything, even if the work is done by robots and machines, there’s an incredible value chain involved,” Susan Hockfield, the president of M.I.T., says. “Manufacturing is simply this huge engine of job creation.” For batteries, that value chain would include scientists researching improved materials to companies mining ores for metals; contractors building machines for factory work; and designers, engineers and machine operators doing the actual plant work. By some estimates, manufacturing employs about 65 percent of America’s scientists and engineers.
Hockfield recently assembled a commission at M.I.T. to investigate the state of American manufacturing and to offer a plan for its future. “It has been estimated that we need to create 17 to 20 million jobs in the coming decade to recover from the current downturn and meet upcoming job needs,” she said at a conference this past March. “It’s very hard to imagine where those jobs are going to come from unless we seriously get busy reinventing manufacturing.” This logic has been endorsed by Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s C.E.O.; Andy Grove, the former chairman of Intel; and Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical’s C.E.O. A widely circulated 2009 Harvard Business Review article — “Restoring American Competitiveness,” by two Harvard professors, Gary Pisano and Willy Shih — has become one of the touchstones of the manufacturing debate. In the article, Pisano and Shih maintain that U.S. corporations, by offshoring so much manufacturing work over the past few decades, have eroded our ability to raise living standards and curtailed the development of new high-technology industries.

When I spoke with Pisano, he noted that industries like semiconductor chips — the heart of computers and consumer electronics — require the establishment of “an industrial commons,” the skills shared by a large, interlocking group of workers at universities and corporations and in government. The commons loses its vitality if crucial parts of it, like factories or materials suppliers, move abroad, as they mostly have in the case of semiconductors. At first the factories leave; the researchers and development engineers soon follow.

The most punishing effect, however, may be the one that can’t be measured — the technologies and jobs that aren’t created because the industrial ecosystem is degraded. The semiconductor industry, for example, led to the LED-lighting and solar-panel industries, both of which are mostly based in Asia now. “The battery is another fascinating example,” Pisano told me. “The center of gravity is Asia. But why?” If you go back to the 1960s, he says, the American consumer-electronics companies decided they were better off in Japan, and then Korea, where costs were lower. “And then you have to ask: Who had the incentives to make batteries smaller or more powerful or last longer? Not the car industry. The consumer-electronics industry did.” This explains why the U.S. is now playing catch-up with lithium-ion batteries. It also underscores the vulnerability of an economy with a shrinking manufacturing sector. “When one industry moves,” Pisano says, “there can be other industries in the future that follow it that you couldn’t even anticipate.”


(Page 5 of 6)

Even in the battery industry, there are skeptics. Menahem Anderman, a California-based consultant, says that transforming 10 percent of the world’s automobiles into either plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles by 2020 is a pipe dream. His projection is for less than 2 percent. U.S.-based factories, he says, are at a disadvantage. The U.S. industry, he told me, “was not ready to take in $2 billion from the government and spend it wisely. And so now we will build a lot of plants, and we will create overcapacity, and a lot of the companies will fail.” He has no ideological objection to federal support, he adds, “but the status of the technology and the market were incompatible with the desire of the government to create manufacturing jobs.” For pure electric vehicles in particular, which will likely need an expensive battery replacement within 10 years, Anderman still sees the dilemma Patil faced at Ford in the ’90s, when he questioned whether consumers would pay $10,000 more for an inferior car. As Anderman puts it: “Has there ever been, in the modern history of capitalist countries, a new product for which the mainstream customer paid more for less?”

By his math, gas prices have to reach about $7 a gallon to make plug-in electric-hybrid vehicles attractive to consumers. To create demand for fully electric vehicles, gas prices would have to rise even higher. Which means generous government subsidies for purchases of these vehicles. Currently, Chevy Volt owners receive a tax break that brings the cost of the car down to about $33,500, from $41,000. In Washington, several people told me that unless there is consistent and increasing demand, taxpayers will have helped build an industry to nowhere. This fear is what turned so many politicians and policy makers against industrial policy in the first place. When government-backed ventures fail, taxpayers are left on the hook.
For now, battery makers think they can bring down costs quickly enough to be competitive. Improvements in the manufacturing process — spreading a better chemical coating on the sensitive elements inside the batteries, for instance, or raising the plant’s conveyor belt speed ever so slightly — will increase quality and efficiency. I also heard talk of start-ups in California working on new cost-effective chemistries. “We see prices over the next five years coming down 50 percent,” A123’s Forcier told me. “And it’s easy to say that, because we’re quoting 2014 business, and we know what the prices are.”

Whether this adds up to American jobs is less clear. The hope is that lithium-ion plants will seed a network of new chemical and equipment providers. To some extent, this has already happened. Some Japanese and Korean companies have set up shop in the United States, and local colleges are offering training courses for aspiring lithium-ion-battery factory workers. But it’s a fragile ecology. Job numbers are small relative to the huge plants of Detroit’s past. As the former labor secretary Robert Reich pointed out, high-tech manufacturing is increasingly automated. At capacity, the lithium-ion factories in Michigan will each employ between 300 and 400 people. Even the most optimistic forecasts — enough hybrid- and electric-car demand to necessitate several dozen factories — suggest the battery industry can’t significantly offset declines in American manufacturing.

Which doesn’t mean that it’s a bad investment. If nothing else, the Obama administration’s efforts in Michigan reawaken the conversation about industrial policy. To a large extent, this is an old war among Washington politicians. In the 1970s, it was fought over the federal bailouts of Lockheed and Chrysler — and a few years later during debates over whether the country needed to assist domestic companies in their efforts to gain ground on the Japanese in the semiconductor industry. By the time George H. W. Bush ascended to the presidency, the move away from industrial policy was clear.


Published: August 24, 2011
(Page 6 of 6)

“All you had to do in the 1980s was say, ‘That’s industrial policy,’ and it killed anything it was hurled at,” says Senator Levin, who along with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio is now among the most vocal advocates of such a policy. “It was the kiss of death. And it set us back 10 to 20 years in terms of manufacturing in America.” What is different now, Levin argues, is that “our companies are not competing with those companies in Korea and Japan. They’re competing with those governments that are supporting them. It’s naïve to believe that we just have to let the markets work and we’ll have a strong manufacturing base in America.” In his view, the lithium-ion investments are tantamount to repairing a kind of market failure.

The battery executives I spoke to viewed the stimulus money as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. None seemed to think a federal windfall would come their way again. None saw their business endeavors as inherently political or ideological. And none seemed to believe they could survive if they didn’t drive battery costs down and demonstrate that they could compete with the best lithium-ion factories abroad. “My own feeling is this will happen just as the government incentives wear off,” Patil told me. “By then it has to become a self-sustaining business, and we actually see a line of sight to get there.”
If the battery stimulus ultimately succeeds, does it demonstrate that expanding the United States’ economy only through knowledge and services is no longer a viable strategy? “All of the great new American companies of the past few decades,” says Suzanne Berger, a chairwoman of M.I.T.’s panel on the future of American manufacturing, “have focused on research and development and product definition — Apple, Qualcomm, Cisco.” These were technology companies that could take full advantage of what she calls the “modularity” of the global economy. Their genius resided in the design of their gadgets and information systems; offshoring the industrial work did not leave them at a disadvantage. It did the opposite, greatly reducing costs and raising profits. “Now I think we’re at a really different moment,” Berger says. “We’re seeing a wave of new technologies, in energy, biotechnology, batteries, where there has to be a closer integration between research, development, design, product definition and production.”

One challenge to moving in this direction may be that our banks, hedge funds and venture capitalists are geared toward investing in financial instruments and software companies. In such endeavors, even modest investments can yield extraordinarily quick and large returns. Financing brick-and-mortar factories, by contrast, is expensive and painstaking and offers far less potential for speedy returns. Berger maintains that for the economy to get “full value” from our laboratories’ ideas in energy or biotech — not just new company headquarters but industrial jobs too — we must aspire to a different business model than the one we have come to admire.

Which is to say, companies that have a passing resemblance to A123 Systems in Livonia, Mich. Or to use a more familiar example, a business that looks less like Google and more like Ford.
23744  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 28, 2011, 10:08:46 AM
It was not my intention to say that CF called for foreign troops for he did not.  My bad. embarassed

As for the calling for other than US police, I suspect this is due to intense traditional Mexican concerns about being manipulated, controlled, invaded, and such by the US.
23745  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH editorial: Team Baraq proposes rules enabling comparisons on: August 28, 2011, 09:19:23 AM
I gotta say my initial impression here is that conceptually that this is not much different from requiring companes to say what is in the box and how much there is of it.

Anyone who has ever tried to read a health insurance policy knows how hard it is to find out what the plan actually covers and how much it will cost. The Obama administration proposed welcome new rules this month that would make it a lot easier for consumers to compare one policy with another — on cost and coverage — before signing up.

Health policies are notorious for their confusing legalese. When confronted with a big medical bill, enrollees are often shocked to find that there are limits or exclusions they never heard of, leaving them owing a lot more than they can afford to pay.

The new rules, which carry out provisions of the health care reform law, would require insurers and employers, starting next year, to provide a brief summary in plain English listing such items as premiums, deductibles, services not covered, and the costs of using a provider in the network as compared with one outside the network.

There will also be “coverage examples” showing how much the insurer would pay and what a typical enrollee would pay for three common types of health expenses: having a baby, treating breast cancer and managing diabetes. The summaries would be provided in a document or, if consumer safeguards are met, on the insurer’s Web site, on a government site or by e-mail.

Each insurer would have to display the information in the same format and the same order, making it easy to compare policies side by side before buying. Although some private and government sites already offer some of the same information, the new formats are expected to provide the most comprehensive, unbiased information available.

Insurers are complaining that compiling and disseminating the benefits information will drive up their costs. That is a ridiculous objection. The administration estimates that the proposal would cost some $50 million a year to carry out. That seems a small burden on a multibillion-dollar industry. The investment would provide a huge benefit to confused consumers and help spur competition to bring down health insurance costs.

23746  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Carlos Fuentes on: August 28, 2011, 08:53:33 AM
No citation, but from a reliable source.  For those not familiar with Mexico, know that the presence of foreign troops and/or police is an unusually hot button in Mexico, , , and that understates matters.  For a writer with the impeccable Mexican credentials of Carlos Fuentes to call for such, is quite remarkable.

Hours before accepting a literary prize Saturday night in Spain, Carlos Fuentes, one of Mexico's most accomplished writers, spoke decisively about the country's crisis of violence and drug trafficking.

"They should decriminalize drugs and get help from the Israeli, French or German police forces who have proven effective in combating crime," he said.

The 82 year old Mexican writer, and social and political activist, acknowledged that he was stunned by the horrific "narco" attack at the Casino Royale in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, that killed 53 people.

"Unless steps are taken to legalize drugs in coordination with the United States, which is the biggest drug market, and unless more effective internal police actions are forthcoming, the drug cartels will defeat the Mexican Army and the country's unarmed society," argued Fuentes.
23747  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iron Dome works on: August 28, 2011, 08:45:27 AM
Sorry, no citation here but it comes from a reliable source.

A radical Salafi Islamist group affiliated with the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization has taken responsibility for launching Sunday morning's Grad rocket attack at southern Israel.


The Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'l-Jihad (JTJ) jihadist organization (Group of Monotheism and Jihad) allegedly issued a statement claiming “credit” for the attack on Be'er Sheva, the largest city in Israel's southern region.


The missile was intercepted and neutralized by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system at about 7:15 a.m. local time. Residents were warned by the Color Red air raid alert siren before the missile arrived in Be'er Sheva's air space.


Salafi groups have slowly grown to be a major power in Gaza in the past several years, with thousands of Hamas members switching sides to join the more radical Islamic factions, all of which are linked to Al Qaeda and many of which operate in Judea and Samaria as well.
23748  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pravda on the Hudson's hit piece on Congressman Issa on: August 28, 2011, 08:42:54 AM
23749  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: August 27, 2011, 07:57:43 PM
The political subscript is to contrast Baraq with Bush's handling of Katrina.

Also, in fairness, wasn't this thing supposed to be a Level 3?
23750  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: August 27, 2011, 07:55:59 PM
An additional insight to the economics of the FDR and the Great Depression is to be found in a chapter dedicated to it in Jude Wanniski's "The Way the World Works".  Highly recommended.
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