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23751  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.
23752  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?
23753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 29, 2011, 12:36:41 PM
Good read CCP.
23754  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.
23755  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.

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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.

23756  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.

23757  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / ABB on: August 28, 2011, 05:49:20 PM
23758  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?
23759  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.
23760  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.
23761  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.
23762  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.
23763  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.”


(Page 3 of 6)

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.
23764  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.
23765  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.

23766  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.
23767  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.
23768  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
23769  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?
23770  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.
23771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Five one term presidents on: August 27, 2011, 07:53:55 PM
John Adams
By David McCullough (2001)

John Adams was an unsuccessful president, thanks to his grumpy personality and mediocre political skills. But he was a man of unshakable principle. He had been preceded in office by George Washington, who served two terms and declined to serve a third. When Adams was defeated for re-election by Thomas Jefferson in 1800, it was a moment of truth for the young democracy: Would President Adams surrender the reins of power? He did—gracefully. For that reason alone we are in Adams's debt. And if he was a poor president, he was an immensely important Founding Father whose life illuminates the world he lived in and did so much to shape. In this biography, David McCullough does a splendid job of telling his story. At 650 pages "John Adams" is not a word too long.

John Quincy Adams
By Paul C. Nagel (1997)

It is not easy to be the son of a great man, and John Quincy Adams never quite escaped the long shadow of his remarkable parents, John and Abigail. Depression stalked him all his life. But Adams also had great advantages, being his father's son. He accompanied him to Europe as a child, where he learned the arts of diplomacy firsthand while becoming the master of seven languages. Like his father's presidency, his single term (1825-29) was inconsequential. But under James Monroe he had been a great secretary of state, and he wrote the ambitious doctrine of national expansion named for Monroe. Adams kept a detailed diary from age 11 to the end of his long life. The long manuscript, a remarkable window into the inner world of this complex, driven man and never published in more than incomplete form, is used extensively by biographer Paul C. Nagel to bring Adams to vivid life.

View Full Image

Library of Congress
The 11th president.
.A Country of Vast Designs
By Robert W. Merry (2009)

No one-term presidencywas as successful or as significant as James K. Polk's. During his tenure in office (1845-49), the country almost doubled in size and became established as a Pacific power. Texas was annexed; the Oregon Territory was peacefully divided with Britain; and Mexico, defeated in war, was forced to cede what is now the American Southwest. None of it would have happened without Polk's singular determination and great political talents. With his health failing, Polk declined to run for re-election; he died three months after leaving office, at age 53. In "A Country of Vast Designs," biographer Robert W. Merry gives us Polk in full but also details the tangled politics of the 1840s—an era that is a historical black hole for many people, illuminated here by an expert light.

Chester Alan Arthur
By Zachary Karabell (2004)

Except for Abraham Lincoln, presidents in second half of the 19th century were a forgettable bunch, none more so than Chester Arthur, who never even aspired to the office. As Zachary Karabell notes in his concise but evocative biography, Arthur—a New York lawyer and Republican patronage politician—became the vice-presidential nominee in 1880 only to balance the ticket with James Garfield in a badly fractured convention. Then, just six months into Garfield's term, an assassin's bullet (and bungling doctors) put Arthur in the White House. Though he had risen on the wings of patronage and had been a defender of the spoils system, he forced through the Pendleton Act, which began the transformation of the politically corrupt federal bureaucracy into the modern civil service. His furious former allies denied him nomination to a full term in 1884, but even Mark Twain, no friend of politicians, thought Arthur had been a good president.

The Shadow of Blooming Grove
By Francis Russell (1968)

Few presidents have come to the White House with a thinner résumé (one term in the Senate from Ohio) or performed so ineffectually as Warren Harding. Yet with "The Shadow of Blooming Grove," Francis Russell succeeds in making Harding's story a fascinating one. The "shadow" was the persistent rumor—half believed by Harding himself—that his great-grandmother had been black, no small matter in early 20th-century America. He had a gift for public speaking, was good-looking in a presidential way, and was an amiable fellow, fond of golf, poker, and whiskey. Harding was also a hands-off president, to put it mildly, but he accomplished some good things, thanks mainly to excellent cabinet appointments, including Herbert Hoover (Commerce) and Andrew Mellon (Treasury). But scandals, both political and sexual, destroyed Harding's reputation after his death in 1923 from what appears to have been congestive heart failure. He was two years into his term and in the middle of a cross-country trip, called the "Voyage of Understanding," that he hoped would reconnect him with voters.

—Mr. Gordon is the author of "Hamilton's Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt" (revised edition, 2010).
23772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 27, 2011, 12:15:15 PM
Yes language is important.  That is why you should not misportray this:

"what Perry said was that IF Bernanke further damaged the dollar by printing more money for the political purpose of getting Baraq elected, THEN that would be near-treasonous."

I would rather he not have put things like that, mostly because some people  wink will be determined to misportray it.

23773  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / POTH: Legal standard for eyewitness testimony on: August 27, 2011, 12:10:40 PM
What Did They Really See?Published: August 26, 2011
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LinkedinDiggMySpacePermalink. In a landmark decision this week, the New Jersey Supreme Court set new guidelines for how courts and juries must assess eyewitness identification of criminal suspects. The laudable decision applies only in New Jersey but could have a national impact. It provides a thorough, science-based explanation of how eyewitness evidence can become tainted and offers a judicious template for the United States Supreme Court and other states to follow.

Related in News
In New Jersey, Rules Are Changed on Witness IDs (August 25, 2011) Eyewitness identification has been a subject of hundreds of studies over the last three decades, showing that memory and perception can be highly unreliable. Of the 273 people freed from prison with DNA evidence by The Innocence Project in cases reshaping this area of law, three out of four were convicted with false identifications.

In a unanimous opinion, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner noted that misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions across the country. He wrote: “The changes outlined in this decision are significant because eyewitness identifications bear directly on guilt or innocence. At stake is the very integrity of the criminal justice system and the courts’ ability to conduct fair trials.”

Under the new guidelines, a trial judge must hold a hearing to consider a wide range of factors if the defendant presents evidence that the identification was unfairly suggestive. Some factors relate to the witness, some to the culprit, others to the event — like the amount of time the witness observed what occurred, whether the witness and suspect were of different races, how light or dim the scene was. Other critical factors deal with the identification process, like how the police lineup was set up.

As before, eyewitness evidence would not be admissible at trial if the court found that, given “the totality of the circumstances,” there was “a substantial likelihood of misidentification.” However, if the judge decides to admit disputed eyewitness evidence, he or she must now instruct jurors on the factors that might affect its reliability.

The New Jersey decision puts aside an approach to eyewitness evidence established in 1977 by the United States Supreme Court and still followed by all other states. That approach, Chief Justice Rabner said, overstates “the jury’s innate ability to evaluate eyewitness testimony.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a major case about eyewitness identification in November, the first on this issue since that 1977 decision. The Roberts court should pay close attention to the well-grounded decision reached by the Rabner court in New Jersey.

23774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The upcoming UN vote on: August 27, 2011, 11:55:07 AM
The upcoming vote in the U.N. General Assembly on full recognition of the Palestinian National Authority as a nation state could give Hamas the perfect opportunity to provoke Israel and test Egypt’s support for the present military government, says George Friedman.

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

Colin: The Middle East continues to occupy much of our attention. Gadhafi’s compound may be in rebel hands but fighting continues. In Syria a famous cartoonist is beaten up as President al Assad continues his crackdown, and violence of one kind or another continues in Gaza and Iraq. Soon there will be another political development to throw into the melting pot.

Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman. That development will be the upcoming vote in the United Nations [General] Assembly on whether to admit Palestine as an independent sovereign state. George, given the divisions amongst the Palestinians, how will this impact the region?

George: Well, it is a terrific problem. If the Palestine National Authority is admitted to the United Nations, essentially Fatah dominates that and is being challenged by Hamas. The United Nations vote will basically empower Fatah and will challenge Hamas. Hamas will find this a problem, it will find this strengthening its opposition. It will make its own alliance with Fatah more difficult and Hamas, I suspect, is going to try in some ways to not so much undermine the vote but to change the political realities surrounding the vote, both by placing Fatah on the defensive and from its point of view hopefully placing Israel on the defensive.

Colin: That will create a lot of problems for Israel but also for Egypt.

George: Well there are two things Hamas wants to achieve. First from a strategic point of view, its basic problem is not Israel, it is Egypt. Egypt is the problem because Egypt, so long as it is hostile to Hamas’ interests or only neutral, really prevents Hamas from developing. If Egypt were to become pro-Hamas, it would completely change Hamas’ position vis-a-vis Israel and also change it vis-a-vis Fatah and the Palestine National Authority.

Therefore it would very much like to influence events inside of Egypt to create a government that is favorable, to undermine the military regime that is in place right now and end any sort of interdiction that is going on of Gaza. And so it would be interesting to do something to undermine Egypt. One of the solutions to that is to create a crisis with Israel, a crisis that would compel Israel to act militarily, to re-enter Gaza and carry out as aggressive a policy as could be made. Hamas would actually benefit in this sense. First, it would change the internal Egyptian dialogue away from the dispute between secularists and the Muslim Brotherhood and military, toward the the one thing that they all agree on, which is the dubious nature (I leave the military out of this), the dubious nature of its treaty with Israel. If it could stage round two of the uprising, if you will, then Hamas would be in a position to potentially install a government in Egypt that would be pro-Hamas. That would benefit it tremendously. Secondly, if that were to happen, its relationship with the Palestine National Authority would change dramatically. And thirdly, the vote in the United Nations, if Israel were at that time engaged in combat operations in Gaza, would reshape the meaning of the vote, the vote would still happen but it would be a vote that would be as much about empowering Hamas as about Fatah.

Therefore, Hamas right now seems to have an interest in drawing Israel into conflict. We saw the attacks along the Eilat highway, and in that attack there has been a great deal of dispute as to who carried it out. But very frankly, I think it came out of Gaza, and it is very hard to believe that Hamas’ intelligence organization, which is quite good in Gaza, did not know that it was being planned. It is very hard to do anything like that without it being known and even if it was beyond the borders of Gaza, I suspect they would have known, they could have certainly stopped it. They are also firing a lot of rockets into Israel right now, several hundred have landed there. Again, their claim is that it is not Hamas, it is another group or this group, but it is being fired from Gaza, and Hamas has control over that. But we can understand what it is trying to do. On the one hand, it is trying to entice Israel into combat, on the other hand it wants to be in a position to deny that it was itself responsible for any of those things and thereby paint Israel’s response by attacking Hamas as both overreaction and unjust. Israel is doing everything it can not to be drawn into this, not to blame Hamas for this, to say it is not Hamas, not to create the situation where it has to in the context of the September vote be engaged in combat operations in Gaza. And oddly enough, Israel has an interest in not having this happen, and Hamas has an odd interest in making it happen.

Colin: We will come back to Israel in a moment because it is key of course, but how strong will the current military regime in Egypt be in maintaining the status quo?

George: The military clearly has maintained power and has a great deal of power. The question is: what is the military going to have to do to continue holding that position. So, the opposition is divided, as I said, between two groups, secular and religious, in turn each of these groups are divided among themselves. The opposition to the military is there, but it is very weak and incoherent and is unlikely to change the military’s position. The question from an international point of view is whether or not the military, which clearly wants to maintain the peace treaty with Israel and does not want to get involved in conflicts at this time in any way, will find it necessary in the face of circumstances to either spend or jettison the treaty in order to maintain its position. Right now this is not something that the Egyptian military has to do, but there are those in the opposition and those in Hamas who would like to see that happen and forcing the military to do that is something they want, and that is more important to some people than a shift in the government. In many senses we have very strong military government and we expect that to stay there.

Colin: Another bit player in all this if I can call them that is Hezbollah, now in a tricky position because of what is happening in Syria.

George: Syria’s al Assad is clearly on the ropes, he has a very strong force supporting him otherwise he would have fallen long ago, but there is a possibility that it would fall. Syria is one of Hezbollah’s major supporters. Iran is another supporter, but Syria is much closer and much of the sport flows through Syria. So if Syria were to fold to a Sunni government, and that Sunni government has other people to support in Lebanon aside from Hezbollah. Hezbollah obviously is very concerned about what is happening but not nearly as much as al Assad. And again if we simply speculate here, Hezbollah might find that it is in its interests to engage in any conflict that might occur between Hamas and Israel on the northern frontier, both to re-energize its own position, but also perhaps to draw some of the venom from the opposition that is attacking al Assad. One of the issues is that once there is conflict with Israel, al Assad can make the claim that this is no time for this internal stuff, you have got to really deal with Israel. All of this is speculation, there is no evidence, unlike with Hamas and the firing of rockets, there is no evidence that Hezbollah is preparing for immediate combat in this circumstance, but it is certainly something that just speculatively would be an interesting possibility for them.

Colin: Now coming back to Israel, what are Israel’s options? Because at some point they would be drawn back in if attacked.

There is a certain point at which the level of damage being caused in Israel by rockets, by terrorist acts or something else, simply must be responded to for very rational reasons. And so, the point here is: is Hamas engaged in this preliminary action in order to raise the stakes so high that Israel cannot refuse combat? Is this simply a probe in Israel for reasons that are not altogether clear? And secondly, how much pain can Israel endure before it finds itself eager to respond? It really does not want a repeat of Operation Cast Lead of 2008. That ended very badly politically and with minimal military success although it had some, it really does not want to do that again and it is going to try to do everything it can to avoid it. But at a certain point, the decision for war or not war is not simply Israel’s, it is if the other side gets a vote, and it is very important to watch if Hamas’ rocket fire increases dramatically and becomes more effective. At that point Israel will have to do something.

Colin: Where do rich countries like Saudi Arabia, that have funded the Palestinians, stand on all this?

George: The Saudis really do not want this sort of instability right now. They have just gotten through the Bahrain crisis and other instabilities in their region. On the one hand they do not want to do anything to strengthen Iran and they would not really mind al Assad falling. On the other hand, they really do not want to create a situation where they are forced to come in and support, at least financially and rhetorically, Hamas in a war against Fatah. The Saudis right now are not looking for trouble, that really is pretty much Saudi Arabia’s position prices and other of his disabilities in the region of other one hand they don’t do anything to strengthen Iran and they would not really mind as I saw it falling on the other hand they really do not want to create a situation where they are forced to come in and support me financially rhetorically Hamas in a war against what the Sally’s right now are not looking for trouble that really is pretty much Saudi Arabia’s position, and it frequently gives money in order to avoid trouble.

Colin: Finally, there is not much doubt about the outcome of this vote is there? It is going to happen.

George: That seems to be certainly the case, the only question is by how much, and that is one of the reasons why the Israeli’s really do not want to go to war right now, they do not want to do anything to increase the margin.

Colin: George, thanks. George Friedman there ending Agenda this week. Thanks for being with us. I’m Colin Chapman, have a good weekend.

23775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 27, 2011, 11:35:31 AM

I'd like to suggest that you go back and see what actually was said; your words here misportray things.

Working from memory, what Perry said was that IF Bernanke further damaged the dollar by printing more money for the political purpose of getting Baraq elected, THEN that would be near-treasonous.

THAT is QUITE a bit different from what you just posted.
23776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spencer on Islamophobia on: August 27, 2011, 10:53:36 AM
23777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 27, 2011, 10:29:08 AM
I agree.
23778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 26, 2011, 04:55:59 PM

This is the thread which I meant:

The reason is that this thread tends to deal with more transient matters, whereas you bring up matters of more lasting substance.  (If you do decide to post there as well, trimming the trash out of the post would be appreciated, , , I know, I know, I can be a pushy bastard , , , grin )
23779  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Rest in Peace on: August 26, 2011, 04:47:15 PM
"The wood is consumed, yet the fire burns on."
23780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: August 26, 2011, 02:24:49 PM
The economic history of FDR's liberal fascism is very important.  May I suggest taking it to the Economics thread in the SCH forum?
23781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan on Perry on: August 26, 2011, 02:22:39 PM

Rick Perry this week roared away from the pack. Gallup had him the party favorite, with 29% of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents saying they're most likely to support him. Next came Mitt Romney with 17%, Ron Paul with 13%, and Michele Bachmann at 10%. All the rest were single digits except for "no preference," which got 17%.

On top of that, Mr. Perry got the much-coveted Kinky Friedman vote. The political gadfly and musician, who in 2006 ran as an Independent against Mr. Perry, wrote in the Daily Beast that he didn't always like the Texas governor. It had in fact been his plan to, upon death, be cremated and have the ashes thrown in Rick Perry's hair. But now he sees Mr. Perry as "a good, kind-hearted man" with a solid economic record. Mr. Friedman admitted he'd vote for Charlie Sheen before Barack Obama, but asked: Could Perry fix the American economy? "Hell yes."

Mr. Perry's primary virtue for the Republican base is that he means it. He comes across as a natural conservative, Texas Division, who won't be changing his mind about his basic premises any time soon. His professed views don't seem to be an outfit he can put on and take off at will. In this of course he's the anti-Romney. Unlike Ms. Bachmann, he has executive experience, three terms as governor of a state with 25 million people.

His primary flaw appears to be a chesty, quick-draw machismo that might be right for an angry base but wrong for an antsy country. Americans want a president who feels their anger without himself walking around enraged.

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Associated Press
 .Mr. Perry's announcement speech on Aug. 13 was strong and smart. Biography: He's the son of tenant farmers from Paint Creek, a town too small to have a zip code, in the Texas plains. The meaning of the biography: The American dream lives on. "You see," he said, "as Americans we're not defined by class, and we will never be told our place. What makes our nation exceptional is that anyone, from any background, can climb the highest of heights." He laced into the incumbent: "Now we're told we're in a recovery. Yeah. But this sure doesn't feel like a recovery to more than 9% of Americans out there who are unemployed, or the 16% of African Americans and 11% of Hispanics in the same position." The recovery is really a "disaster."

Then, stingingly, "[The president's] policies are not only a threat to this economy, so are his appointees a threat. You see he stacked the National Labor Relations Board with antibusiness cronies who want to dictate to a private company, Boeing, where they can build a plant. No president, no president should kill jobs in South Carolina, or any other state for that matter, simply because they chose to go to a right-to-work state." Mr. Perry was speaking in Charleston, so the Boeing reference had local resonance: But what appears to be the Obama administration's attempt to curry favor with unions by stopping a Boeing plant may have national resonance, too.

More Peggy Noonan
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.Mr. Perry's now-famous gaffes, for which he's been roundly criticized, are said to suggest an infelicity of language. But they look more like poor judgement. On Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke: "If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion." On the subject of secession: "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that." On President Obama's patriotism—in response to a question from this newspaper's Danny Yadron, who asked Mr. Perry if he was suggesting that Mr. Obama didn't love this country: 'I dunno, you need to ask him.'" On Mr. Obama's lack of military service: "The president had the opportunity to serve his country I'm sure, at some time, and he made the decision that that wasn't what he wanted to do."

The secession reference was off the cuff, not spoken in a speech that had been fully thought through. Still, to refer blithely to secession, even in that context, as anything but tragic—which both it and the potential reasons behind it would be—suggests a lack of reflection, a lack of gravitas, a carelessness. As for Mr. Bernanke, he is an earnest public servant who is either right or wrong in his assumptions and decisions, but certainly not treacherous or treasonous.

Why does this kind of thing matter? Because presidential temperament has never been more important. We can't escape presidents now, they're all over every screen, and they set a tone.

And the nation is roiling and restive. After Mr. Obama was elected, the right became angry, feisty, and created a new and needed party, the tea party. The right was on fire. The next time a Republican wins, and that could be next year, it will be the left that shows real anger, with unemployment high and no jobs available and government spending and services likely to be cut. The left will be on fire. The only thing leashing them now is the fact of Mr. Obama.

So there will be plenty of new angers out there. It probably won't be helpful if the next president is someone likely to add to the drama with a hot temperament or carelessness.

A lesson from the Reagan experience:

In 1980 the American electorate was so disturbed by economic disorder that it took a big leap. The leap was Ronald Reagan, the most conservative president since Calvin Coolidge was elected in 1924. Ronald Reagan was not the moderate in the GOP field, he was not the "establishment candidate." It took a real leap to get to him.

The public was able to make the leap for two big reasons. He represented a conservatism that could be clearly asserted, defended and advanced, and which marked a break from the reigning thinking which had gotten us into trouble. And he was a person of moderate temperament and equability. He was good natured, even-keeled, competent and accomplished. Just because he wanted to do some "radical" things didn't mean he would allow a spirit of radicalism to overtake his personality or essential nature.

And this was important in 1980 because Mr. Carter, at the end of the campaign, tried to paint Mr. Reagan as an angry cowboy with crazy ideas. You don't want that guy with his finger on the button.

It was a serious charge. People would listen, and consider whether there seemed to be truth in it. Then Mr. Reagan would walk out on the TV screen and give a speech or an interview and people would see this benign and serious person and think, "He isn't radical. That's not what radical looks like."

They only lept toward him after they looked.

In 2012, the Republican candidate will be called either mean or dumb, or both. Certainly, his politics will be called mean. And if the candidate is Rick Perry, people will look at him and think: Hmmm, is there something to the charge?

He should keep that in mind as he pops off. If there is a deeper, more reflective person there he'd best show it, sooner rather than later. This is the point where out of the corner of their eye, people are starting to get impressions.

23782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / or , , , maybe not on: August 26, 2011, 01:27:37 PM
23783  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mas sobre Glenn Beck on: August 26, 2011, 01:26:05 PM
23784  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: August 26, 2011, 12:41:46 PM
Attention fighters:

Please minimize wearing black.  Having two fighters clinched or grappling with both all in black makes editing a pain in the ass and viewing difficult.
23785  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: August 26, 2011, 12:15:48 PM
Pido reportes y informes sobre eso:


Glenn Beck vs. Hugo Chavez
Glenn Beck once again broadcasted from South Africa today, but immediately after the show he departed for none other than Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. Despite efforts made by the Chavez regime to thwart Glenn's plane from landing there, Glenn is still making his way to the dictator's country to speak to 5,000 people there. Chavez is a dictator who has been president since 1999 and has nationalized several industries including the media, food and oil industries. Glenn explains why he's going into the lion’s den on radio today.
23786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Beck to Venezuela on: August 26, 2011, 12:14:34 PM
Glenn vs. Hugo Chavez
Glenn once again broadcasted from South Africa today, but immediately after the show he departed for none other than Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. Despite efforts made by the Chavez regime to thwart Glenn's plane from landing there, Glenn is still making his way to the dictator's country to speak to 5,000 people there. Chavez is a dictator who has been president since 1999 and has nationalized several industries including the media, food and oil industries. Glenn explains why he's going into the lion’s den on radio today.
23787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / OMG! Good news from Baraq! on: August 26, 2011, 11:19:28 AM


The United States will stop providing financial aid to the Palestinian Territories if it attempts to upgrade its position at the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein told Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Aug. 26, DPA reported. The United States would also veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for recognition of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and U.N. membership for the state.

23788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Alan Reynolds: The Fed vs. the Recovery on: August 26, 2011, 11:10:07 AM

One year ago, on Aug. 27, 2010, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke explained the rationale for a second round of quantitative easing. "A first option for providing additional monetary accommodation is to expand the Federal Reserve's holdings of longer-term securities," he said, thereby supposedly "bringing down term premiums and lowering the costs of borrowing."

Yet the bond market promptly reacted by raising long-term interest rates. The yield on 10-year Treasurys, which was 2.57% at the time of his Jackson Hole, Wyo., address, climbed to 3.68% by February 2011 and did not dip below 3% until late June when QE2 was coming to an end. The price of West Texas crude oil, which was $72.91 a year ago, remained above $100 from March to mid-June and did not come down until QE2 ended and the dollar stopped falling.

When Mr. Bernanke spoke, the price of a euro was less than $1.27. By the week ending June 10, 2011, 15 days before QE2 ended, the dollar was down about 15% (a euro cost $1.46). In that same week, The Economist commodity-price index was up 50.9% from a year earlier in dollars—but only 22.8% in euros. How could paying much more than Europe did for imported oil, industrial commodities, equipment and parts make U.S. industry more competitive?

The chart nearby subtracts the contribution of government purchases (such as hiring and construction) from real GDP growth to gauge the growth of the private economy. The generally negative contribution of government purchases (column two) does not mean government spending has slowed, as some contend. Instead it reflects the fact that federal and state spending has been increasingly dominated by transfer payments (such as Medicaid, food stamps and unemployment benefits) which do not contribute to GDP, and in some cases reduce GDP by discouraging work.

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Associated Press
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
.The chart also shows that growth of private GDP was also much faster before QE2 than it has been since, and the increase in producer prices (i.e., U.S. business costs) was much more moderate. And that is no coincidence.

Former Obama adviser Christina Romer, writing in the New York Times in late May, said that "a weaker dollar means that our goods are cheaper relative to foreign goods. That stimulates our exports and reduces our imports. Higher net exports raise domestic production and employment. Foreign goods are more expensive, but more Americans are working."

Well, foreign goods certainly did become more expensive during the second round of quantitative easing, but it is doubtful that "more Americans are working" as a result. Industrial supplies and materials accounted for 34.5% of U.S. imported goods so far this year, according to the Census Bureau, and capital equipment and parts accounted for an additional 23%. As Fed policy pushed the dollar down, higher prices for imported inputs such as oil, metals and cotton meant higher costs (producer prices) for U.S. manufacturing and transportation.

In demand-side theorizing, monetary stimulus means the Fed buys more bonds. The Treasury has certainly been selling a lot of bonds, and the Fed has been buying (monetizing) a huge share of those bonds. That helped push the broad M2 money supply up at a 6.8% rate over the past six months. Yet the only thing we have to show for all that stimulus over the past year has been rapid inflation of producer prices and a simultaneous slowdown in the growth of the private economy. Consumer price inflation also accelerated to 5.2% in the first quarter and 4.1% in the second, from just 1.4% in the third quarter of 2010.

Imported goods did indeed become more expensive while the dollar was falling, rising at a 15.1% annual rate over the past three quarters according to the government's report on GDP. But exported U.S. goods also became more expensive, rising at an 11.4% rate over that same period.

The fourth column in the chart shows that net exports were a subtraction from GDP in early 2010 when the private economy was growing most briskly, thus raising the demand for imported materials and components. The rise of dollar commodity costs and producer prices in the wake of QE2 reduced the growth of real imports because it reduced the growth of real GDP.

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.Many journalists credit QE2 with raising asset prices, which was certainly true of precious metals but not of housing. It is also true that stock prices generally rose over the past year, but it is implausible to link that to quantitative easing.

Operating earnings per share for the Standard & Poor's 500 companies rose to an estimated $24.86 by June 30, up from $20.40 a year earlier. Fed policy cannot possibly explain that rise in earnings because domestic output slowed and producer prices rose under QE2, while more than 46% of the sales of S&P 500 companies have come from foreign countries.

Berkeley economist Brad DeLong, writing in the Economist, suggests that, "Aggressive central banks can shift expected inflation upward and thus make households fear holding risky debt and equity less because they fear dollar devaluation more." But individual investors often react to such fears by dumping equities and speculating in gold and silver. What good does that do?

In short, the Fed's experiment with quantitative easing from November 2010 to June 2011 was accompanied by a falling dollar and inflated prices of critical industrial commodities, including oil. The net effect was to reduce the profitability of manufacturing and distributing products in the United States, and therefore to shift such activities (and jobs) to other countries which were less handicapped by the dollar's weakness.

Every postwar recession but one (1960) has been preceded by a spike in oil prices of the sort we experienced when the dollar fell and oil prices doubled from August 2007 to July 2008 (reaching $142.52), and to a lesser extent when the dollar fell and oil prices rose to $112.30 at the end of April 2011 from $72.91 in late August 2010. Conversely, during the 1997-98 Asian currency devaluations (and soaring dollar), the U.S. experienced a booming domestic economy as the dollar price of oil dropped to $11 by the end of 1998.

Those who are now looking backwards at how poorly the U.S. economy performed under QE2 in order to "forecast" the future appear to be neglecting the potentially beneficial effects of a firmer dollar in deflating the bubble in U.S. commodity costs. In the end, quantitative easing turned out to be an anti-stimulus which stimulated nothing but the cost of living and the cost of production. Good riddance.

Mr. Reynolds, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, is the author of Income and Wealth (Greenwood Press 2006).

23789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man formerly in Iraq on: August 26, 2011, 11:02:25 AM
From "Our man formerly in Iraq"

I can't help but wonder if this was the police station/courthouse complex I did an assessment at.  I think there was only one police station in the town. 

---   ---  ---

9 Killed in Bomb Attack Against Iraqi Police
Published August 25, 2011 | Associated Press

Iraqi police and hospital officials say two bombings west of the capital have killed nine people, including eight policemen. 
Gunmen attacked a police station Thursday in the town of Karmah, about 50 miles west of Baghdad . After exchanging gunfire with the policemen, the attackers withdrew and a car bomb exploded near the police station, killing five of the police officers. About 30 minutes later a car bomb exploded near a police checkpoint in a village outside of Fallujah , 40 miles west of Baghdad. Three policemen and one civilian were killed in the second attack.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

Read more:
23790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: August 26, 2011, 10:56:39 AM

The Foundation
"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." --James Madison

Government & Politics
The Obama Plan to -- Hold On -- Fore!

It's August, which means much of Washington is shut down for recess, but even then, there's always something going on. While members of Congress are at home avoiding town hall meetings and the president is out on the golf course at Martha's Vineyard skipping holes to avoid photographers, the capital is recovering from the earthquake Monday (they're calling it "Bush's Fault") and preparing (along with the entire East Coast) for a weekend hurricane. You might say that what goes around comes around.

Out here in flyover country, the economy is still stagnant and jobs are hard to come by. Not that we're looking to Washington to create jobs, but to truly get out of the way so entrepreneurs can do so. No such luck. Out on the eighth fairway, Barack Obama came up with a plan to create jobs. He will make a big announcement about it, too ... in September. As usual, though, some details were leaked. It turns out that his grand plan is -- drum roll please -- to repeat the stimulus. Yes, that stimulus, which cost nearly $1 trillion and delivered, well, nothing.

Speaking in Iowa on Aug. 15, the president plugged his "new" plan (same as the old plan) to "invest in infrastructure." That same day, The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama hopes "to create a new 'infrastructure bank' to finance highway and rail construction, create jobs and jump-start the stalled economy." Sound familiar? It should, because it's the same rhetoric the president used to tout Stimulus 1.0 back in 2009.

Even Obama strategist David Axelrod said, "These are not all new ideas." Not new, but definitely failed. As National Review's Jim Geraghty notes, "Somehow Obama made 'the largest new investment in America's infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System' and yet nearly three years later the roads and bridges of his rhetoric are still falling to pieces." When Thomas Edison repeatedly came up short in his quest to create a working light bulb, he contended he hadn't failed but rather found 10,000 ways that didn't work. In his quest to fix the economy, Obama has found one way that doesn't work but seems determined to try it 10,000 times.

As for federal spending, the Congressional Budget Office released a new report that spending will reach a new high of $3.6 trillion this year, and the deficit will near $1.3 trillion, despite Democrat claims in 2009 that stimulus spending would be temporary. CBO predicts that, as taxes are increased massively when the Bush tax rates expire, federal revenue will skyrocket from 15.3 percent of GDP today to 20.2 percent in 2014. This assumes no behavioral changes for the tens of millions who will be paying those higher taxes. Stunningly, CBO also predicts economic growth between 4.4 percent and 5 percent in 2014 and 2015 -- after those massive tax increases. Oh, and they also have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell.

For all this spending, the CBO sees unemployment remaining above 8 percent until 2014 (Democrats promised that it wouldn't top 8 percent with the first stimulus). If taxes go up, however, it could remain over 9 percent well into the future. If you don't believe us, ask the people of Illinois, who are hemorrhaging jobs after that state's major tax increases. Meanwhile, according to a new Associated Press survey, economists are also painting a none-too-rosy picture. While they "foresee economic growth, job creation, consumer spending, and home prices all rising over the next year ... the gains they expect are so slight that many Americans won't notice." Quarter 2 GDP growth was just revised downward from 1.3 percent to 1.0 percent. In fact, economists have pessimistically put the likelihood of another recession within the next 12 months at 26 percent, up from 15 percent in June. This begs the question: Who exactly thinks the last recession ever ended?

Finally, it's interesting that several federal buildings in DC, as well as the Washington Monument, suffered some damage in Monday's earthquake. In fact, we think it's quite symbolic that the cracks in the monument to our first and greatest president occurred just after our nation's credit rating was downgraded because of the reckless policies of his utterly unworthy successor.

Really, though, what's all this compared to the trouble Obama's having finding his ball in the rough? Indeed, one might say he's showing courageous leadership by refusing to cut his vacation short, even as Hurricane Irene heads his way. Way to stand your ground, sir. Now would you like the 9-iron, or the pitching wedge?

How is the economy?
Quote of the Week
"The problem is that the way [President] Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents -- number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome -- so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back. [That's] $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic." --Barack Obama on July 3, 2008

Apparently, Bush was unpatriotic because adding $4 trillion to the debt took him eight years. Obama needed just two.

Don't Miss Mark Alexander's Essay
Ballots or Bullets? Ballot Box Barriers to Restoring Constitutional Integrity

Hope 'n' Change: Another Court Defeat for ObamaCare
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit recently ruled as unconstitutional ObamaCare's mandate for all Americans to carry health insurance. This is the biggest defeat for the law so far, and it affirms a January ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson of Florida in a case brought by 26 state attorneys general. The Obama administration's appeal of Vinson's ruling maintained that the government can compel everyone to purchase health insurance because of its power to regulate interstate commerce. This view was soundly rejected by 11th Circuit Court Judges Joel Dubina and Frank Hall, appointed by George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, respectively. Dubina and Hall wrote in their 207-page opinion that such reasoning suggests the government has the power to regulate every part of a person's life because all persons influence interstate commerce by virtue of their existence.

The decision conflicts with the Sixth Circuit's complete affirmation of ObamaCare in June, further assuring that the Supreme Court will make the final call. It won't be a matter of just ruling ObamaCare constitutional or striking it down in total. The 11th Circuit decision introduced the concept of "severability." While they agreed with Vinson on the mandate, Dubina and Hall decided that the mandate could be removed from the law while leaving the rest of its provisions intact. Vinson ruled the entire ObamaCare law as unconstitutional, believing that the mandate is too integral to the law to be removed and still leave the remaining provisions functional. Insurance companies would be compelled to accept all potential new customers, but people would have no incentive to buy insurance until they're sick. The market would be turned upside down, and costs would necessarily skyrocket.

Despite this latest legal setback, ObamaCare continues to chug along with the Department of Health and Human Services granting another 106 waivers in July. Many of the 1,472 waivers will now last until 2014, whereas they were originally set to expire a year from their issuance. The latest batch will last three years. There is still no explanation forthcoming of the process of accepting or rejecting applicants, although the disproportionate number of unions and public sector groups already in the pool does suggest one important criterion.

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 We Still Hold These Truths Leader's Guide pack
The leaders' guide is a companion to We Still Hold These Truths. It provides everything you need to take your group on a journey through history to discover what defines us as a nation, asking thought-provoking questions to get our country back on track. We Still Hold These Truths Leader's Guide pack, published by The Heritage Foundation, includes We Still Hold These Truths softcover, a spiral bound 141 page Leader's Guide plus a free inspirational DVD.

On the Campaign Trail: Perry Up, Pawlenty Out
The Republican presidential field experienced some major changes in the aftermath of the Aug. 13 Iowa Straw Poll. Michele Bachmann came out the winner, with Ron Paul trailing her by less than 200 votes. Tim Pawlenty needed a big showing to revive his moribund campaign, and he pushed all his resources into the contest, but he came in a distant third with less than half the votes received by Bachmann and Paul; he accordingly dropped out the next day. Frontrunner Mitt Romney received just 567 votes, though he didn't actively participate in the Straw Poll. Texas Governor Rick Perry received 718 votes as a write-in candidate.

The day of the Iowa Straw Poll, Perry was in South Carolina, where he officially announced his candidacy. Perry has been suffering steady attacks in the press ever since, particularly for his Christian views. Other GOP candidates, including Romney, are aiming for him too -- a sure sign that he has everyone worried. The other sure sign is that he has double-digit leads on even Romney in a couple of recent polls.

From the Left: Muddying the Waters
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) doesn't appear too worried about keeping a low profile while the House Ethics Committee investigation of her lumbers on. At a recent gathering of unemployed people in Los Angeles, Waters accused House Republicans of deliberately stalling jobs bills that she claims would help reduce California's 12 percent unemployment rate. "As far as I'm concerned," Waters raged, "the Tea Party can go straight to hell." So much for civility!

The event was attended by more than 1,000 jobless people who were allowed to vent and share their struggles. It's unknown whether any information was shared that would have actually led to jobs. More troubling is that taxpayers will have to pay $500,000 for the aforementioned House Ethics Committee to hire an outside law firm to rule on Waters' abuse-of-power case. The internal committee inquiry stalled in November 2010 when Waters accused the panel of fixing the investigation against her. Billy Martin, a prominent defense lawyer, will first examine Waters' accusation. If he finds she's right, then the whole thing gets thrown out. If Martin finds that the case can go forward, then his firm will handle the investigation. In the meantime, Waters remains at large.

National Security
Looking to Libya's Future

Obama and GadhafiCol. Moammar Gadhafi's days as dictator of Libya appear to be over, even though he promises to keep fighting in the wake of Tripoli's fall to rebel forces Monday. Earlier this year, Libyan rebels began a sixth-month campaign to topple Gadhafi after 42 years of his brutal rule. For various reasons, the Obama administration deemed this North African civil war worthy of our time, energy and nearly $1 billion that we don't have. Rather than take the issue to Congress, however, Barack Obama cited a non-unanimous 10-vote nod from the United Nations Security Council as all the justification he needed for what White House officials called a "kinetic military action."

In March, we wrote, "To be sure, a long list of reasons support America's desire to oust Gadhafi and his regime, especially his role in state-sponsored terrorism. It was Gadhafi that ordered the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270, most of whom were Americans. That said, a number of countervailing arguments counsel against intervening in Libya's civil war," including no congressional approval, a glaring lack of vital national interest or imminent threat, Gadhafi's more recent cooperation with the West and an unclear picture of who will lead Libya post-Gadhafi. The latter will be of utmost importance going forward.

Given that the U.S. "led from behind" in the effort, and that using ground troops is extremely unlikely, it will be difficult to exert great influence over the rebels who will now control Libya. Rebel efforts turned out to be fairly unified and impressively persistent after NATO saved them from annihilation in their stronghold of Benghazi. However, questions remain about the size and influence of Islamists among the rebel forces. There are rumors of Sharia law as being foundational in a new constitution, news that bodes ill for the nation's future and for U.S. national security. Even without Sharia, Libya will almost certainly not become a beacon of liberty. Instead, it could descend into anarchy and perpetual tribal infighting, thus creating an excellent opportunity for al-Qa'ida to establish a haven. Based on previous Middle East history, anything bad is possible.

Furthermore, NATO and U.S. reputations suffered for their waffling, and for their disorganized and half-hearted effort, particularly in the early going. That likewise isn't good for our national security. NATO's task now is to secure Libya's weapons stores, including chemical weapons and heat-seeking missiles -- pretty handy for shooting down civilian airliners -- and to try to ensure that Islamists don't take control of the country. Extraditing Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Pan Am bomber the British released to Libya in 2009, would be a good thing to add to the list as well. The verdict is undoubtedly mixed, but we suppose as the old adage goes: Time will tell.

Post your thoughts on Libya
Warfront With Jihadistan: Staying in Iraq, Calling for Change in Syria
Nothing to see here; move along. In one of the classic moves for dealing with such news, the Obama administration chose a Friday afternoon during a slow Washington news week to let slip an inconvenient truth: U.S. troops will almost certainly stay in Iraq in significant numbers past the end of 2011. Despite Obama's campaign pledges and numerous other pronouncements promising to remove U.S. troops, the Iraqi government will likely agree to the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq well into 2012 and possibly beyond -- a position that, ironically, was John McCain's in 2008. It won't be just advisers and trainers, either, but combat formations and support troops. Cynical observers would say that Obama has decided it's less damaging for his re-election chances to have troops in Iraq in November 2012 than it is for the voting public to see nine years of blood, sweat and tears thrown away for the sake of an arbitrary withdrawal date. We would agree.

In other news, U.S. and European leaders screwed up their courage and finally called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to surrender his power, but just as surely as the sun rises in the east, the Russians tried to throw a wrench into the works. "We do not support such calls and believe it is necessary now to give President Assad's regime time to realize all the reform processes that have been announced," said the Russian Foreign Ministry. It's impossible to caricature a statement so absurd, so we won't bother. Suffice it to say that old habits die hard, and Moscow seems perfectly willing to support a pariah in the face of pressure from the free world.

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 Red, White and Blue Remembrance brooch
Red and blue enamel goldplate with Swarovski crystals unify in this lovely Remembrance pin. Whether you want to show your support for our troops or just celebrate being American, you'll love wearing this brooch which measures approximately 2.25" in length and 1.25" in width. Each pin comes in a red drawstring pouch.

Immigration Front: How 'Our' System Works
What a difference a month makes. Way back in July -- that's right, a whole month ago -- Barack Obama had this to say about Rule of Law in America: "I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books. ... I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own -- that's not how our system works."

However, in a shameless ploy to secure the Hispanic vote by hook or crook, and unfazed by congressional rebuffs, Obama has resorted to fiat execution of the wildly unpopular Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act -- a.k.a. the "Amnesty Bill." Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security just announced that it will halt all deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants who attend school, who have family in the military or who are primarily responsible for the care of other family members, allowing them to apply for work permits. This means that only illegal aliens who have committed serious criminal offenses in the United States -- setting aside of course the first serious criminal offense of entering the U.S. illegally -- will now be candidates for detention and deportation.

The same president who swore an oath on his inauguration to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" is thus continuing to trample it by refusing to enforce existing immigration laws and by making up his own. Apparently, that's how "our system" works.

The Founders made every effort to protect that most precious commodity of individual liberty. Article II, Section 3 directs the president to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." That is, it directs the Executive Branch to ensure that laws Congress enacts are carried out. It does not direct the president either to write his own laws or to carry out laws Congress itself has refused to pass. To do so is a blatant violation of the "Separation of Powers" doctrine that the Founders integrally wove throughout the fabric of the Constitution.

This doctrine is not merely a "nice-to-have" element; it is fundamental to individual liberty. As Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia noted in the landmark Morrison v. Olson case, "The Framers of the Federal Constitution viewed the principle of separation of powers as the absolutely central guarantee of a just Government. ... Without a secure structure of separated powers, our Bill of Rights would be worthless, as are the bills of rights of many nations of the world that have adopted, or even improved upon, the mere words of ours." When the doctrine of separation of powers is usurped -- as here, by a president who reserves for himself a unilateral power to enact and enforce immigration laws -- America's freedoms are in grave jeopardy.

Profiles of Valor: Marine Corps Cpt. Jeremy Henwood
While America's troops continue to take the fight to jihadis in Afghanistan and elsewhere to protect our country, other Americans, walking that thin line between barbarism and civilization, also try to protect Americans at home from our own criminal element. Occasionally, some individuals will serve nobly in both capacities and, sadly, where the jihadis fail, our own homegrown vermin may not.

This past May, Marine Corps Captain and Iraq War veteran Jeremy Henwood returned home from a one-year deployment in Afghanistan, where he survived without a scratch in a hostile region full of roadside bombs and snipers. Picking up where he left off, he rejoined the San Diego Police Department, patrolling the City Heights area, a blue-collar neighborhood that has seen a sharp decrease in crime recently. But his life of serving soon came to a tragic and violent end. Just minutes after buying lunch for a 13-year old boy, Officer Henwood was shot in cold blood, dying a day later. San Diego police said that after Henwood left the restaurant, he was at a stop sign in his patrol car. The driver of a nearby Audi flashed his lights, drawing the officer's attention. The Audi's driver then pulled alongside Henwood's cruiser, lowered his front window, leveled a shotgun at Henwood and fired, striking his head. The shooter, later identified as Dejon Marquee White, 23, turned out to be the suspect in another shooting minutes earlier. White was later shot dead in a confrontation with police.

Given that both Hanna and Henwood were white and the killer was black, race may have been the motivation, but don't look for any mention of that in the Leftmedia, as they continue to ignore the issue of race in black-on-white crime, and even black-on-black crime. This tragic story is especially noteworthy because after a career of service to his nation and community, the officer's last act on this earth, buying a meal for a needy black boy, was one of compassion and racial harmony. Rest in peace.

Business & Economy
Downgrade at Their Peril
In a development that once would have been surprising but now barely turns heads, it was revealed in recent days that the Obama Justice Department has set its investigative sights on Standard & Poor's rating agency, turning over stones to find misdeeds in their rating of mortgage-backed securities. The timing is certainly suspicious, given the recent S&P downgrade of government debt from the platinum standard of AAA to AA+.

The probe was under way a few weeks before the debt downgrade, but certainly the federal government was warned that a shift was imminent well before the actual change in status unless significant spending cuts to the tune of $4 trillion were made. While economists agree that spending cuts are needed, Obama and Congress failed to deliver, so our rating was lowered. Given that S&P is the only rating service under scrutiny, the "sour grapes" aspect can't be overlooked.

We really should be asking, though, just why securities backed by mortgages, many given to borrowers with poor or no credit or job histories and then bundled into grab bags of toxic assets, were given such a high rating in the first place. With housing values fueled by a bubble that burst back in 2006, analysts should have sounded warning bells much earlier -- in fact, many experts did but were ignored. Downgrading these securities would have made them less lucrative for the sellers. It's an investigation that needed to take place much sooner, but the thought of "better late than never" still doesn't come to mind.

In the meantime, the message is clear: If you do something this administration doesn't like, watch your back.

What do you think?
Income Redistribution: TARP Recap
The Treasury Department reported this week that the actual level of lending by the Federal Reserve to banks under 2008's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was much higher than previously reported. It seems the true number is $1.2 trillion, not $700 billion. Then again, the Fed received $13 billion in interest payments, and most of the money was paid back.

So who got the money? For one thing, almost half of the top 30 borrowers were foreign-based entities, including a real-estate holding company (i.e., not a bank). It seems to us that this is an exception to the Fed's authority, and there should be some accountability. Domestically, the big three recipients were Bank of America ($91 billion), Citigroup ($99.5 billion) and Morgan Stanley ($107 billion). All three either lost billions in market capitalization or required more than their shareholder equity to keep the lights on, or both. Indeed, all three of these firms have seen their market value halved over the past year as revelations of bad mortgages continue to surface. The continued economic weakness, combined with impediments to the liquidation of bad loans, will continue to undermine the efforts of management to correct and collect the sins of the past. It appears that being members of the "too big to fail club" also means being too big to manage.

Addressing the crisis of confidence resulted in the Federal Reserve Bank providing liquidity as the lender of last resort to the banking system. What we find especially troubling, though, is the secrecy that surrounds all Fed operations, as well as the dubious list of recipients. It's extremely difficult to sell the American public on the idea of an economic recovery when information like this continues to drip into the public consciousness.

Regulatory Commissars: Obama Strikes Back at Big Oil (Again)
Four years ago, Exxon Mobil made a thrilling find: an oil field under the watery depths of the Gulf of Mexico that may hold a billion barrels of black gold. Yet when gold is in them thar hills, so are those out to plunder it; in this case the bandits are the Obama administration. Regulators at the Department of the Interior have set up roadblocks that will prevent Exxon Mobil from creating jobs and energy, claiming that because the oil giant asked for a brief suspension of drilling operations in 2008 it had essentially abandoned three of its five permits. Ironically, the interregnum was safety-related and made voluntarily by Exxon Mobil. Never mind that they sank $300 million into these "abandoned" wells.

So instead of Exxon Mobil perhaps just now bringing this new domestic oil to market and sending gas prices down to more reasonable levels, they're forced to head off to court to fight what they call the government's "arbitrary and capricious" action to secure what is rightfully theirs through hard work and risk-taking. Unfortunately, this is the result of electing a socialist president. Turns out he's not much of a friend to job creation of any sort, despite 9.1 percent reported unemployment and the prospect of thousands of potential jobs securing and refining those billion barrels of oil.

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 Tax Evader stamp
Add a little bit of fun to our country's current financial cesspool. While we would not advocate defacing currency, we know you will think of many amusing and satisfying uses for our RED self-inking stamper, Tax Evader, especially with Tim Geithner as our present Secretary of the Treasury.

Say Goodbye to the Fairness Doctrine
In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan voted to revoke the Fairness Doctrine, setting the stage for a massive growth in conservative talk radio and other alternative media. No longer did stations need to be careful to present "equal time" to all sides of an issue, an edict that generally led stations to shy away from presenting editorial opinion at all, effectively stifling free speech. Yet the rules never actually came off the books until last week. In a rare trimming back of government regulation, the Fairness Doctrine was one of 83 obsolete rules erased from the federal register by the FCC.

Of course, leftists are apoplectic over the demise of the Fairness Doctrine because conservatives have benefited, using talk radio as a means of bypassing the once-dominant mainstream media. Yet they could never muster the votes to restore it, even when they controlled Congress, because voters never saw it as a priority. Conservative media has succeeded because the market is there for it, not because of government favor. Of course, axing the Fairness Doctrine and the other FCC rules means there are 83 regulations down but countless thousands to go.

Culture & Policy
Second Amendment: Fast and Furious Promotions
We have noted on numerous occasions the scandal that is Operation Fast and Furious. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began the operation, part of which was Project Gunrunner, ostensibly to track firearms headed from the U.S. to Mexico. At least 2,000 guns have been lost, however, and many have turned up at crime scenes, including numerous instances in the U.S. Such guns were also used to kill two American officials, ICE Agent Jaime Zapata and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Despite this egregious incompetence, none of the ATF's players involved has been held accountable. In fact, three of the agents responsible for this disastrous operation were just promoted. According to Pajamas Media's Bob Owens, "The three supervisors have been given new management positions at the agency's headquarters in Washington. They are William G. McMahon, who was the ATF's deputy director of operations in the West, where the illegal trafficking program was focused, and William D. Newell and David Voth, both field supervisors who oversaw the program out of the agency's Phoenix office." The whistleblower, Vince Cefalu, was fired. Somehow, the Obama administration, the Justice Department and the ATF must be held accountable for this continuing outrage.

What should happen at the ATF?
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
Just when they thought it was safe to take off the muzzle, Joe Biden has done it again. This time he has exposed yet another leftist myth: that being "pro-choice" is about ... well, choice. The Obama administration has always gone out of its way to let female voters know that it supports their "right to choose" abortion. Yet on Biden's recent visit to China, he made it perfectly clear that he was "not second-guessing" that nation's one-child policy, whereby women are subjected to forcible sterilizations and abortions as the government dictates to its citizens how many children they can have.

His comments have once again sent the administration rushing into the spin zone. The White House defended Biden, pointing out that he also called the policy "unsustainable" and that he has since said he "believes such practices are repugnant," but Biden's initial assessment was clearly based on utilitarianism and finances, not individual freedom. The White House's defense is that he meant the opposite of what he said.

Meanwhile, an Associated Press dispatch entitled "One Child Policy a Surprising Boon for China Girls" highlights the many ways in which females have "benefited" from this policy. In particular, it noted that girls are being educated at a rate never before seen in China. This result is indeed surprising, but, essentially, it means that if a family's only permitted child happens to be a girl, that girl will be showered with the support and guidance that would have been reserved for a son. As problematic as that notion is in and of itself, it also ignores the fact that due to this policy, countless female babies have been murdered so that the parents could go on to try for a boy. Perhaps this is the Left's way of kowtowing to our largest foreign creditor. Yet if we ignore China's long list of human rights violations because we owe them money, then we as a nation have truly sold our soul.

Faith and Family: Full Cultural Assault
Three disturbing stories surfaced this week that we believe illustrate a trend in the sexualization of our society (CONTENT WARNING). First up, the Department of Health and Human Services has offered "Questions and Answers About Sex," a link on their "Quick Guide to Healthy Living." If you think the questions are scary, the answers are worse. The premise is, "Children are human beings and therefore sexual beings. ... [E]ven infants have curiosity about their own bodies, which is healthy and normal." HHS therefore tells parents not to worry about teen experimentation with sex, homosexuality or masturbation, as these are healthy steps for children to take. On the contrary, Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the conservative Family Research Council, puts it bluntly: "The idea that 'children are human beings and therefore sexual beings' is one of the most destructive myths of the sexual revolution."

Meanwhile, B4U-Act, a 501(c)(3) organization in Maryland that was established "to publicly promote services and resources for self-identified individuals (adults and adolescents) who are sexually attracted to children," held a "scientific" symposium last week. The topic was a proposed new definition of pedophilia in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Some actually pushed the idea that pedophilia should be decriminalized, a position HHS, for one, might have a hard time arguing against given the aforementioned story.

Finally, a Florida Teacher of the Year was suspended for posting comments on Facebook objecting to New York's legalization of same-sex marriage earlier this year. He cited "biblical principles" -- specifically, "Romans chapter one" -- for his opposition. It is not known whether any students are his "friends" on Facebook, but, apparently, the "sexual beings" in his classroom mustn't be given the information necessary to decide right from wrong for themselves. As a side note, in 2008, 62 percent of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

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 Bonnie Blue
For 200 years, the Bonnie Blue flag, with the single white star in a blue field, has signified states' rights. Our Patriot Post and Patriot Post Shop seal was developed from this theme and design. We are regularly adding to this selection of high-quality items, a great way to show where you stand! All purchases at The Patriot Post Shop support our Mission of Service to America's Armed Forces.

And Last...
A recent paper authored by a NASA-affiliated scientist and two professors from Penn University explores the possibilities of first contact with an alien race. Among the scenarios the trio imagines is that aliens might launch a pre-emptive strike to stop us from committing the galactic sin of global warming, "which therefore changes the spectral signature of Earth" (i.e., affects other planets). Not only that, but the likely reason we haven't yet been contacted by these aliens is that we're not sufficiently "progressive," and they want us to reach a "societal benchmark such as sustainable development or international unity" before contact. Aside from the pre-emptive strike over global warming, they write that "an advanced society capable of interstellar travel may be less likely to turn to humans as a source of food or labor because they should have already solved these problems through some combination of machine labor, artificial synthesis, and conservation." Well that's a relief.

On the other hand, New York Times economist Paul Krugman theorizes that a looming alien attack would stimulate the economy. "If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months," he said. That would be useful, he added, "in order to get some fiscal stimulus." Krugman once won a Nobel Prize for economics. We suspect, however, that he was abducted by aliens soon thereafter, and that the "Paul Krugman" now writing loony columns and making bizarre TV appearances is actually an alien mole.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
The Patriot Post Editorial Team

23791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Adams to Abigail Adams, 1780 on: August 26, 2011, 10:48:06 AM
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." --John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, 1780
23792  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: August 26, 2011, 10:39:46 AM
MONTERREY – Two dozen gunmen burst into a casino in northern Mexico on Thursday, doused it with gasoline and started a fire that trapped gamblers inside, killing 53 people and injuring a dozen more, authorities said.

The fire at the Casino Royale in Monterrey, a city that has seen a surge in drug cartel-related violence, represented one of the deadliest attacks on an entertainment center in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in late 2006.

El Los Angeles Times ahora esta' diciendo que murieron entre 40 and 50 personas  cry

23793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran cranky with Turkey: interesting analysis on: August 26, 2011, 01:21:01 AM

Iran Monitors Turkey's Rising Regional Power

A high ranking Iranian cleric used some tough language against Turkey on Wednesday. Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi — recently appointed to head the newly constituted Arbitration Council— accused Turkey of promoting a Westernized version of Islam to advance its interests in the region. Shahroudi, who is seen as a possible successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Turkey’s claims to be the “guardian of the resistance movement” are tarnished by Ankara’s relations with Israel and alliance with the United States. He said that Iran, despite its support of the Palestinians and efforts against the West, has been pushed to the margins.

“The clerics’ remarks are the first time that Iran has used hostile language against the Turkish government since Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power.”
Shahroudi’s comments come a day after another high-ranking cleric, Naser Makarrem-Shirazi (a grand ayatollah who is very close to the Iranian political establishment) criticized the Turkish government for turning against Syria, accusing Ankara of being at the “complete disposal” of the West. Earlier on Monday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sought Ankara’s help in protecting the Syrian regime from Western pressure during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that lasted more than thirty minutes.

The clerics’ remarks are the first time that Iran has used hostile language against the Turkish government since Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power . Ever since the AKP assumed leadership in 2002, relations between Tehran and Ankara have been fairly close. It wasn’t too long ago that Iran sought Turkish mediation on the nuclear issue and Turkey drew the disapproval of the United States on the matter.

Clearly, much has changed and fast. In many ways, this estrangement was bound to happen. STRATFOR has long said that despite the current warm relations, Iran and Turkey would ultimately clash as they both seek to emerge as regional players in the Middle East. The Syrian regime’s use of force to quell popular agitation has served as a trigger with Turkey leading the heavy international pressure against Damascus.

From the Iranian point of view, Syria is the only state actor in the largely Arab Middle East that is an ally of the Islamic republic. In fact, Tehran’s plans to assume the mantle of a major regional power are tied to the durability of President Bashar al Assad’s government. Thus, Turkey’s turn against the Alawite-Baathist regime in Syria represents a major threat to Iran.

STRATFOR recently highlighted how Turkey and Iran, given their respective interests in Syria, must engage with each other. The recent shift in the Iranian attitude towards Turkey suggests that those dealings may have taken a turn for the worse. Indeed, Syria is not the only factor that has generated Iran’s displeasure towards Turkey.

Tehran does not want to see Ankara emerge as the dominant power in the Middle East and the leader of the wider Islamic world. Iran’s efforts to be seen as the vanguard of Muslim causes are undermined if Turkey emerges as a model for other Arab and Muslim states.

Therefore, Shahroudi and Makarrem-Shirazi’s remarks are Iran’s way of sending a message to Turkey — that Tehran will not sit by and allow Ankara to take the lead and claim ownership of issues that are critical to Iranian national security interests. How Iran decides to confront Turkey remains unclear. What is certain is that Iranian-Turkish tensions will likely aggravate the situation in the region, which is already witnessing unprecedented instability.

23794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This reads rather forbodingly to me. on: August 26, 2011, 01:15:03 AM
Deciphering the Public Relations Game in Israeli-Palestinian Politics

Israeli Minister for Home Front Defense Matan Vilnai said on Israel Radio Aug. 25 that Israel is “not fighting Hamas, but Islamic Jihad, which is even more radical than Hamas, and is acting like a terrorist organization.” Vilnai called Islamic Jihad trigger happy, adding that Hamas is not responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip. His statement concerned the stream of artillery rocket and mortar fire that emanated from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel over the past week. The rocket fire has significantly increased in frequency since the Aug. 18 attacks in Eilat, where armed groups launched a coordinated assault on civilian and military targets in southern Israel, near the Sinai border. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have responded to these attacks with air strikes on Gaza, first targeting senior members of the Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC), and more recently targeting senior members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a group that has claimed responsibility for recent rocket fire into Israel.

“The fundamental question that needs to be answered is what Hamas’ intentions are for the months ahead.”
We find Vilnai’s comments, which seemingly exonerate Hamas of any responsibility in the recent militant activity in Gaza, extremely noteworthy. The jury still appears to be out on who committed last week’s deadly attacks in Eilat. Those attacks coincide with a rise in Salafist-jihadist activity in the Sinai Peninsula over the past several months, raising the possibility that groups like the newly proclaimed al Qaeda in the Northern Sinai carried out the attacks with the possible cooperation of Palestinian militants in Gaza and with the strategic intent of instigating a crisis between Egypt and Israel.

However, a number of IDF assessments of the Eilat attacks, selectively distributed to groups like STRATFOR (with the likely presumption they would then be distributed more widely), did not address the Salafist-jihadist threat in the Sinai Peninsula. The IDF assessments focused the blame on the PRC, with the insinuation that the group was likely acting as a front for Hamas. IDF thus focused its airstrikes on PRC targets, while the Israeli government publicly warned Hamas against breaking a de facto cease-fire. Even as rocket attacks claimed by PIJ have escalated in recent weeks, Israeli officials like Vilnai are going out of their way to distinguish a “trigger happy” PIJ from Hamas, thereby allowing the latter a large degree of plausible deniability.

By no means does Israel believe Hamas is losing its grip in Gaza while groups like PRC and PIJ run rogue and provoke Israel. On the contrary, even as the exact identities of the attackers may not be fully known, Israel likely still considers Hamas the ultimate authority of Gaza, able to influence operations against Israel one way or another. In the past, Hamas has used other groups within Gaza — including PRC and PIJ — to fire on southern Israel when it was politically inconvenient for Hamas to do so directly. Even if Hamas publicly announces its commitment to the cease-fire (and gets other groups to do the same), it could be as part of an attempt to portray Hamas as the victim being provoked by Israeli aggression.

One could be spun in a thousand different directions following the various claims, counterclaims and denials on all sides of this conflict. The fundamental question that needs to be answered is what Hamas’ intentions are for the months ahead.

As we discussed in this week’s Geopolitical Weekly, Hamas likely shares a strategic intent with a number of jihadist and Palestinian militant factions in the region to create a crisis between Egypt and Israel. As the September United Nations General Assembly vote on Palestinian statehood approaches, Hamas is searching for a way to distinguish itself in the short term from its secular rivals in Fatah. Hamas regularly accuses Fatah of colluding with Israel against the interests of the Palestinian people, and claims to represent the legitimate resistance. In the longer term, Hamas could be looking for a way to sever the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, and to further a political evolution in Cairo that would result in an Egyptian government friendly to Hamas interests.

These may sound like ambitious goals, but the regional conditions have arguably never been better for Hamas to pursue such an agenda. Egypt is in a state of high political uncertainty. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is preparing to enter the government, the Syrian regime is atrophying, the “Arab Spring” protest sentiment is spreading and Israel, unprepared to deal with these growing foreign policy challenges, is coming under heavy domestic political pressure. Provoking Israel into a military confrontation in Gaza, with the help of militant affiliates like PRC and PIJ, could bolster Hamas’ credibility at home while, more importantly, stripping away the foundation of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty at a time of great political uncertainty in the region.

It is within this context that Vilnai’s comments distinguishing PIJ aggression from Hamas can be understood. Israel does not want to be lured into Operation Cast Lead II, and so is trying to give Hamas room to back down and rein in its affiliates. At the same time, Israel can see a significant threat building to its west. The threat goes beyond Palestinian militancy in Gaza and the inability of the Egyptian government to contain jihadist activity in the Sinai. Israel sees the potential for Egypt to fail to honor the peace treaty. Under the doctrine of pre-emption, an argument is building among some Israeli political and defense circles, pushing for Israel to absorb the risk of international condemnation and extend an Israeli military presence into the Sinai, with or without a treaty with Egypt. The other side of the debate argues that the cost of re-entering the Sinai is simply too high — all efforts must therefore be made to preserve the treaty and hope that the tradition of Egyptian-Israeli cooperation against regional militant threats will endure.

This debate is naturally of great concern to Egypt, which since the Eilat attacks has tried to negotiate with Hamas, while creating incentives for Bedouins to cooperate with the Egyptian state and deny access to militants in the Sinai buffer between Egypt and Israel. If Egypt wants to avoid giving Israel a reason to extend Israeli security into the Sinai, it needs to contain the militant threat itself. But Egypt is already concerned with managing a shaky political transition at home. In addition, an increase in Egyptian troops in the Sinai may lead to Israeli nervousness over a possible remilitarization of the region.

Israel has a number of growing and dynamic threats to game out, but for now is likely to avoid any drastic moves in the Sinai. Instead, Israel can be expected to try to avoid a major ground incursion into Gaza. This entails taking care not to directly blame or provoke Hamas, while applying pressure on Hamas affiliates in hopes that the group will choose to ultimately avoid the cost of inviting IDF troops into its territory. Israel’s ability to avoid such a conflict will depend greatly on Egypt’s ability to rein in Hamas. What no one can be sure of at this point is whether Hamas is quietly creating the conditions for the very conflict that both Israel and Egypt are desperately hoping to avoid.

23795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 25, 2011, 05:03:50 PM
I see Sen. Rubio as a good choice.  Free enterprise is not only for white people, good for latino vote and great message for where the Rep party wants to be with Latinos, young, telegenic, and great speaker for the American Creed.
23796  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: August 25, 2011, 03:37:25 PM
Bitch will not be coming  cry
23797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SEAL Jon Tumilson and Hawkeye on: August 25, 2011, 02:58:39 PM

Dog mourns at casket of fallen Navy SEAL
Labrador retriever Hawkeye lays down with a sigh at funeral of his owner


Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson lay in a coffin, draped in an American flag, in front of a tearful audience mourning his death in Afghanistan. Soon an old friend appeared, and like a fellow soldier on a battlefield, his loyal dog refused to leave him behind.

Tumilson’s Labrador retriever, Hawkeye, was photographed lying by Tumilson’s casket in a heart-wrenching image taken at the funeral service in Tumilson’s hometown of Rockford, Iowa, earlier this week. Hawkeye walked up to the casket at the beginning of the service and then dropped down with a heaving sigh as about 1,500 mourners witnessed a dog accompanying his master until the end, reported CBS.


Petty Officer 1st Class Jon T. Tumilson was killed along with other SEALs on Aug. 6 in Afghanistan.

The photo was snapped by Tumilson’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton, and posted on her Facebook page in memory of the San Diego resident. Tumilson, 35, was one of 30 American troops, including 22 Navy SEALs, who were killed when a Taliban insurgent shot down a Chinook helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade on Aug. 6.

“I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn't make it or couldn't see what I could from the aisle,” Pembleton wrote on her Facebook page. “To say that he was an amazing man doesn't do him justice. The loss of Jon to his family, military family and friends is immeasurable.’’

Hawkeye was such a huge part of Tumilson’s life that Tumilson’s family followed the dog down the aisle as they entered the service in front of a capacity crowd in the gymnasium at the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School. Hawkeye then followed Tumilson’s good friend, Scott Nichols, as Nichols approached the stage to give a speech. As Nichols prepared to memorialize his friend, Hawkeye dutifully laid down near the casket.

The youngest of three children, Tumilson had wanted to be a Navy SEAL since he was a teenager. Friends and his two older sisters remembered a fearless soldier, and a Power Point presentation was shown that illustrated Tumilson’s active life outside of the military, which included scuba diving, martial arts, and triathlons.

"If J.T. had known he was going to be shot down when going to the aid of others, he would have went anyway," friend Boe Nankivel said at the service.

“Your dreams were big and seemed impossible to nearly everyone on the outside," his sister, Kristie Pohlman, said at the service. "I always knew you'd somehow do what you wanted."

As for Hawkeye, the loyal Labrador will now be owned by Nichols, Tumilson’s friend.


23798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Al Sharption in Crown Heights Rio, 20 years ago on: August 25, 2011, 01:58:52 PM

Monday, August 15, 2011
The Crown Heights Riot, 20 Years Ago This Week, The True Story That's Never Told
Twenty years ago a tragic car accident in Crown Heights Brooklyn escalated into a pogrom against the Jewish people.  The media gives it a politically correct description, violence between the area's Blacks and Jews. However the violence was not two-sided. The Crown Heights riot was an attack on the Jews by the neighborhood's Caribbean community fueled in part by Al Sharpton, now an MSNBC host and adviser to President Obama.

The events beginning August 19, 1991 were whitewashed by the media and political spin-masters.  The below is what really happened, without the myths or the spin.

Black Antisemitism-Summer of 1991
 On July 20, 1991, Leonard Jeffries of City College who had a history of anti-Semitic slurs gave a two hour speech claiming “rich Jews" financed the slave trade, and control the film industry (together with Italian mafia), the Jews use that control to paint a brutal stereotype of blacks. Jeffries also attacked Diane Ravitch, (Assistant Secretary of Education) calling her a "sophisticated Texas Jew," "a debonair racist" and "Miss Daisy.

Jeffries’ speech received enormous negative press during the first weeks of August. With each criticism leaders in the African-American community rushed to Jeffries' defense.  Black newspapers in NYC and the black radio station WLIB, already a forum for anti-Semitic rants; joined black activists such Al Sharpton, Colin Moore, C. Vernon Mason, Sonny Carson, and Lenora Fulani expressing their approval of Jeffries’s “scholarship” and denouncing  people who criticized his Antisemitism as race baiters.

Al Sharpton’s infamous line, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house" wasn’t a response to the Crown Heights violence as typically stated, but about the Jeffries controversy. It was reported Newsday (in an article called "Sharpton Calls for a Boycott of Classes.") on August 18th the day before the riots.

Initially, Jeffries was fired because of his bigoted speech (he was later reinstated and won a court case surrounding his firing), leading to heightened resentment of Jews by a Black community already being barraged with anti-Jewish incitement from the African-American media.

Crown Heights Ignited
On Monday 8/19/91 a station wagon driven by Yosef Lifsh, hit another car and bounced onto the sidewalk at 8:21 p.m. The station wagon was part of a 3-car motorcade carrying the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson. The Rebbe was in a different car.

The station wagon struck two black children, 7-year-old cousins Gavin and Angela Cato who were on the sidewalk. Lifsh immediately got out of his car and tried to help the children gathering crowd started to attack him.

Within minutes, an ambulance from the Hasidic-run ambulance service, and two from the city's Emergency Medical Service arrived. Also the gathering crowd became unruly.  The police who showed up radioed for backup reporting the station wagon’s driver and passengers were being assaulted. Police officer Nona Capace ordered the Hasidic ambulance to remove the battered Yosef Lifsh, and his passenger from the scene.

The injured children went by separate city ambulances to Kings County Hospital. Gavin Cato was pronounced dead; his cousin survived.

A rumor spread that the Hasidic ambulance crew had ignored the dying black child in favor of treating the Jewish men. This falsehood was later used by Al Sharpton to incite the crowd.

Charles Price, an area resident who had come to the scene of the accident, incited the masses with claims that, "The Jews get everything they want. They're killing our children." Price later pled guilty for inciting the crowd to murder Yankel Rosenbaum.

According to the New York Times, more than 250 neighborhood residents, mostly black teenagers, many of whom were shouting "Jews! Jews! Jews!"

A rumor spread that Lifsh was intoxicated. A breath alcohol test administered by the police proved his sobriety. Other falsehoods were circulated; Lifsh did not have a valid driver's license, the police prevented people including Gavin Cato's father, from assisting in the rescue.

Ignited by the falsehoods, resentment exploded into violence. Groups of young black men threw rocks, bottles and debris at police, residents and homes.

Three hours after the tragic crash, 29-year-old Australian Jewish scholar Yankel Rosenbaum was attacked by a gang of Black teens. He was stabbed four times. Cops quickly arrested Lemrick Nelson, who was identified by Rosenbaum as his attacker.

Rosenbaum's wounds were not fatal he was expected to recover, Mayor Dinkins visited Rosenbaum at the hospital. Yankel died at 2:30am Tuesday because the hospital staff missed one of his knife wounds.

The next evening, according to the sworn testimony of Efraim Lipkind, a former Hasidic resident of Crown Heights, Sharpton started agitating the crowd.
“Then we had a famous man, Al Sharpton, who came down, and he said Tuesday night, kill the Jews, two times. I heard him, and he started to lead a charge across the street to Utica.”
With each passing hour the violence worsened, Jewish leaders began to desperately complain about the lack of protection to the authorities. They said, the rioters were being allowed to rampage unchecked, too little force was being brought to bear, and too few arrests were being made. Area Jews felt the police were under orders to hold back, that the police were cowering in the face of rioters who only grew wilder as they sense the appeasement.

The campaign of street violence against the Crown Heights Jews lasted for three days/four nights after the accident.  On Thursday, cops finally restored order.  Although the continual violence was stopped, spurts of against Jews continued for weeks after the riot was deemed contained.

Yankel Rosenbaum wasn't the only person murdered by the rioters. On September 5th, Italian-American, Anthony Graziosi, was dragged out of his car, brutally beaten and stabbed to death because his full beard and dark clothing caused him to be mistaken for a Hasidic Jew.

Time Magazine reported that New York City Mayor David Dinkins responded by deploying 2,000 police officers and making a personal visit to the troubled neighborhood under a hail of rocks and epithets hurled at him by fellow blacks.
During the funeral of Gavin Cato on August 26th, Al Sharpton gave an anti-Semitic eulogy, which fueled the fires of hatred.
 “The world will tell us he was killed by accident. Yes, it was a social accident. ... It's an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of Crown Heights. ... Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights. The issue is not anti-Semitism; the issue is apartheid. ... All we want to say is what Jesus said: If you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise, no meetings, no kaffe klatsch, no skinnin' and grinnin'. Pay for your deeds."
 Regarding the Mayor's call for peace Sharpton pontificated:

        "They don't want peace, they want quiet."

Sharpton and the lawyer representing the Cato family counseled them not to cooperate with authorities in the investigation and demanded a special prosecutor be named.

Sharpton was asked about the violence, he justified it, “We must not reprimand our children for outrage, when it is the outrage that was put in them by an oppressive system," he said.

The first Sabbath after the riot was over Sharpton tried unsuccessfully to kick up tensions again by marching 400 protesters in front of the Lubavitch of Crown Heights shouting “No Justice, No Peace."

Sharpton called for the arrest of Lifsh. Even though more than twenty similarly accidental vehicular deaths had occurred in Brooklyn since 1989 without a single arrest several involving local Hasidim run down by blacks.  The agitator’s pressure led Charles Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, into convening a grand jury.

When the investigation of the accident did not produce a criminal indictment against Yosef Lifsh, Al Sharpton encouraged the Cato family to seek big-bucks damages in a civil suit against Lifsh (who had since fled to Israel for his own safety). Sharpton announced that he would personally serve papers on Yosef Lifsh in Israel. He bought tickets and hopped an El-Al flight on the weekend of Yom Kippur. At Ben Gurion Airport, a woman spotted Sharpton hailing a cab and yelled to him, "Go to hell! “I am in hell already," shot back. "I am in Israel."

The Aftermath
Sharpton abandoned Crown Heights as soon as the anti-Semitic violence had died down. Sadly had he not exploited the death of Gavin Cato for his own “resume”, what was by all accounts, a disorganized group of ruffians the first night of the riot might well have dissipated the morning after the accident.

There were no reports during the three days and four nights of rioting in Crown Heights, and the marches that followed, that any black leader, stood up to denounce the  Antisemitism or the violence of  the rioters, not even the even the ones who professed to be clergymen.

The violence was one-sided a rampage by some of the neighborhood’s 180,000 strong black majority against a Jewish minority of 20,000. 

The preferred media explanation was the Crown Heights riot was two-sided, both blacks and Jews were equal in their violence.

Maybe the media sugarcoats the riot because it was unprecedented in American history.  Perhaps it is impossible for the liberal psyche to perceive blacks as purveyors of bigotry, instead of being the victims of hate.

Complicating the issue at the time was just five months earlier the infamous Rodney King beating occurred. This act of police brutality against the African American King was repeated ad nauseum on TV.

After the King case, who could believe that blacks in America could ever take over the role of racists, but that is what happened, blacks were shouting anti-Semitic slogans, and explicitly proclaiming themselves to be the reincarnations of Hitler, they sought to destroy and/or drive out their Jewish neighbors by force.

The deaths of Gavin Cato and Yankel Rosenbaum are viewed as some sort of a" tit for tat." This is a misrepresentation of the facts. Cato's death was the result of a tragic accident; Rosenbaum was deliberately stabbed four times by an angry mob. Sadly Anthony Graziosi's death has been forgotten.

Many in the Jewish community felt the city's first Black Mayor, David Dinkins was complacent in the violence, holding back the police from protecting the Jewish community, but that has never been proved.

What’s more likely is that lack of police action was caused by Dinkins' incompetence instead of a conscious decision to allow the violence against the Jewish community to continue.

Nevertheless the pogrom dealt a death blow to Dinkins' mayoral career. Jews had voted for him in overwhelming numbers to give him a narrow victory over Rudy Giuliani in 1989, switched sides, giving Giuliani the win against Dinkins in 1993.

To this day, the media refuses to acknowledge that African-Americans can be racists, and Antisemitism is still ignored by the media. News networks invite anti-Semitic representatives of CAIR or former CIA agent Michael Scheuer to participate on their programs as experts, but these same “experts” contend that American Jews run the media and the Government. Huffington Post regularly allows Media Matters’ MJ Rosenberg on their front page where he too uses anti-Semitic stereotypes.

As for Al Sharpton, he went on to lead a second pogrom, against a Jewish-owned business in Harlem. I suppose it was his experience in leading two anti-Semitic pogroms that gave Sharpton the expertise he needed to be an adviser to the first "post-racial "President, Barack Obama and the latest evening anchor for MSNBC. Sharpton's rise to respectability proves how little has been learned from the Crown Heights anti-Jewish violence which took place twenty years ago.
People will do anything for those who: encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies. It doesn't have to be true to rile people up. It just has to do at least one or two of the above." -- Blair Warren
23799  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Guro Crafty en Espana on: August 25, 2011, 01:42:22 PM
Se comienza a organizar un seminario en Madrid en la primavera.

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23800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The geopolitics of the US-1 on: August 25, 2011, 01:36:45 PM

The Geopolitics of the United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire
August 25, 2011 | 1159 GMT
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STRATFOREditor’s Note: This installment on the United States, presented in two parts, is the 16th in a series of STRATFOR monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

Related Special Topic Page
Geopolitical Monographs: In-depth Country Analysis
Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States. They are a diverse collection of peoples primarily from a dozen different Western European states, mixed in with smaller groups from a hundred more. All of the New World entities struggled to carve a modern nation and state out of the American continents. Brazil is an excellent case of how that struggle can be a difficult one. The United States falls on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The American geography is an impressive one. The Greater Mississippi Basin together with the Intracoastal Waterway has more kilometers of navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. The American Midwest is both overlaid by this waterway, and is the world’s largest contiguous piece of farmland. The U.S. Atlantic Coast possesses more major ports than the rest of the Western Hemisphere combined. Two vast oceans insulated the United States from Asian and European powers, deserts separate the United States from Mexico to the south, while lakes and forests separate the population centers in Canada from those in the United States. The United States has capital, food surpluses and physical insulation in excess of every other country in the world by an exceedingly large margin. So like the Turks, the Americans are not important because of who they are, but because of where they live.

The North American Core
North America is a triangle-shaped continent centered in the temperate portions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is of sufficient size that its northern reaches are fully Arctic and its southern reaches are fully tropical. Predominant wind currents carry moisture from west to east across the continent.

Climatically, the continent consists of a series of wide north-south precipitation bands largely shaped by the landmass’ longitudinal topography. The Rocky Mountains dominate the Western third of the northern and central parts of North America, generating a rain-shadow effect just east of the mountain range — an area known colloquially as the Great Plains. Farther east of this semiarid region are the well-watered plains of the prairie provinces of Canada and the American Midwest. This zone comprises both the most productive and the largest contiguous acreage of arable land on the planet.

East of this premier arable zone lies a second mountain chain known as the Appalachians. While this chain is far lower and thinner than the Rockies, it still constitutes a notable barrier to movement and economic development. However, the lower elevation of the mountains combined with the wide coastal plain of the East Coast does not result in the rain-shadow effect of the Great Plains. Consequently, the coastal plain of the East Coast is well-watered throughout.

In the continent’s northern and southern reaches this longitudinal pattern is not quite so clear-cut. North of the Great Lakes region lies the Canadian Shield, an area where repeated glaciation has scraped off most of the topsoil. That, combined with the area’s colder climate, means that these lands are not nearly as productive as regions farther south or west and, as such, remain largely unpopulated to the modern day. In the south — Mexico — the North American landmass narrows drastically from more than 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles) wide to, at most, 2,000 kilometers, and in most locations less than 1,000 kilometers. The Mexican extension also occurs in the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains longitudinal zone, generating a wide, dry, irregular uplift that lacks the agricultural promise of the Canadian prairie provinces or American Midwest.

The continent’s final geographic piece is an isthmus of varying width, known as Central America, that is too wet and rugged to develop into anything more than a series of isolated city-states, much less a single country that would have an impact on continental affairs. Due to a series of swamps and mountains where the two American continents join, there still is no road network linking them, and the two Americas only indirectly affect each other’s development.

The most distinctive and  important feature of North America is the river network in the middle third of the continent. While its components are larger in both volume and length than most of the world’s rivers, this is not what sets the network apart. Very few of its tributaries begin at high elevations, making vast tracts of these rivers easily navigable. In the case of the Mississippi, the head of navigation — just north of Minneapolis — is 3,000 kilometers inland.

The network consists of six distinct river systems: the Missouri, Arkansas, Red, Ohio, Tennessee and, of course, the Mississippi. The unified nature of this system greatly enhances the region’s usefulness and potential economic and political power. First, shipping goods via water is an order of magnitude cheaper than shipping them via land. The specific ratio varies greatly based on technological era and local topography, but in the petroleum age in the United States, the cost of transport via water is roughly 10 to 30 times cheaper than overland. This simple fact makes countries with robust maritime transport options extremely capital-rich when compared to countries limited to land-only options. This factor is the primary reason why the major economic powers of the past half-millennia have been Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Second, the watershed of the Greater Mississippi Basin largely overlays North America’s arable lands. Normally, agricultural areas as large as the American Midwest are underutilized as the cost of shipping their output to more densely populated regions cuts deeply into the economics of agriculture. The Eurasian steppe is an excellent example. Even in modern times it is very common for Russian and Kazakh crops to occasionally rot before they can reach market. Massive artificial transport networks must be constructed and maintained in order for the land to reach its full potential. Not so in the case of the Greater Mississippi Basin. The vast bulk of the prime agricultural lands are within 200 kilometers of a stretch of navigable river. Road and rail are still used for collection, but nearly omnipresent river ports allow for the entirety of the basin’s farmers to easily and cheaply ship their products to markets not just in North America but all over the world.

Third, the river network’s unity greatly eases the issue of political integration. All of the peoples of the basin are part of the same economic system, ensuring constant contact and common interests. Regional proclivities obviously still arise, but this is not Northern Europe, where a variety of separate river systems have given rise to multiple national identities.

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It is worth briefly explaining why STRATFOR fixates on navigable rivers as opposed to coastlines. First, navigable rivers by definition service twice the land area of a coastline (rivers have two banks, coasts only one). Second, rivers are not subject to tidal forces, greatly easing the construction and maintenance of supporting infrastructure. Third, storm surges often accompany oceanic storms, which force the evacuation of oceanic ports. None of this eliminates the usefulness of coastal ports, but in terms of the capacity to generate capital, coastal regions are a poor second compared to lands with navigable rivers.

There are three other features — all maritime in nature — that further leverage the raw power that the Greater Mississippi Basin provides. First are the severe indentations of North America’s coastline, granting the region a wealth of sheltered bays and natural, deep-water ports. The more obvious examples include the Gulf of St. Lawrence, San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Galveston Bay and Long Island Sound/New York Bay.

Second, there are the Great Lakes. Unlike the Greater Mississippi Basin, the Great Lakes are not naturally navigable due to winter freezes and obstacles such as Niagara Falls. However, over the past 200 years extensive hydrological engineering has been completed — mostly by Canada — to allow for full navigation on the lakes. Since 1960, penetrating halfway through the continent, the Great Lakes have provided a secondary water transport system that has opened up even more lands for productive use and provided even greater capacity for North American capital generation. The benefits of this system are reaped mainly by the warmer lands of the United States rather than the colder lands of Canada, but since the Great Lakes constitute Canada’s only maritime transport option for reaching the interior, most of the engineering was paid for by Canadians rather than Americans.

Third and most important are the lines of barrier islands that parallel the continent’s East and Gulf coasts. These islands allow riverine Mississippi traffic to travel in a protected intracoastal waterway all the way south to the Rio Grande and all the way north to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to serving as a sort of oceanic river, the island chain’s proximity to the Mississippi delta creates an extension of sorts for all Mississippi shipping, in essence extending the political and economic unifying tendencies of the Mississippi Basin to the eastern coastal plain.

Thus, the Greater Mississippi Basin is the continent’s core, and whoever controls that core not only is certain to dominate the East Coast and Great Lakes regions but will also have the agricultural, transport, trade and political unification capacity to be a world power — even without having to interact with the rest of the global system.

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There is, of course, more to North America than simply this core region and its immediate satellites. There are many secondary stretches of agricultural land as well — those just north of the Greater Mississippi Basin in south-central Canada, the lands just north of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the Atlantic coastal plain that wraps around the southern terminus of the Appalachians, California’s Central Valley, the coastal plain of the Pacific Northwest, the highlands of central Mexico and the Veracruz region.

But all of these regions combined are considerably smaller than the American Midwest and are not ideal, agriculturally, as the Midwest is. Because the Great Lakes are not naturally navigable, costly canals must be constructed. The prairie provinces of south-central Canada lack a river transport system altogether. California’s Central Valley requires irrigation. The Mexican highlands are semiarid and lack any navigable rivers.

The rivers of the American Atlantic coastal plain — flowing down the eastern side of the Appalachians — are neither particularly long nor interconnected. This makes them much more like the rivers of Northern Europe in that their separation localizes economic existence and fosters distinct political identities, dividing the region rather than uniting it. The formation of such local — as opposed to national — identities in many ways contributed to the American Civil War.

But the benefits of these secondary regions are not distributed evenly. What is now Mexico lacks even a single navigable river of any size. Its agricultural zones are disconnected and it boasts few good natural ports. Mexico’s north is too dry while its south is too wet — and both are too mountainous — to support major population centers or robust agricultural activities. Additionally, the terrain is just rugged enough — making transport just expensive enough — to make it difficult for the central government to enforce its writ. The result is the near lawlessness of the cartel lands in the north and the irregular spasms of secessionist activity in the south.

Canada’s maritime transport zones are far superior to those of Mexico but pale in comparison to those of the United States. Its first, the Great Lakes, not only requires engineering but is shared with the United States. The second, the St. Lawrence Seaway, is a solid option (again with sufficient engineering), but it services a region too cold to develop many dense population centers. None of Canada boasts naturally navigable rivers, often making it more attractive for Canada’s provinces — in particular the prairie provinces and British Columbia — to integrate with the United States, where transport is cheaper, the climate supports a larger population and markets are more readily accessible. Additionally, the Canadian Shield greatly limits development opportunities. This vast region — which covers more than half of Canada’s landmass and starkly separates Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and the prairie provinces — consists of a rocky, broken landscape perfect for canoeing and backpacking but unsuitable for agriculture or habitation.

So long as the United States has uninterrupted control of the continental core — which itself enjoys independent and interconnected ocean access — the specific locations of the country’s northern and southern boundaries are somewhat immaterial to continental politics. To the south, the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts are a significant barrier in both directions, making the exceedingly shallow Rio Grande a logical — but hardly absolute — border line. The eastern end of the border could be anywhere within 300 kilometers north or south of its current location (at present the border region’s southernmost ports — Brownsville and Corpus Christi — lie on the U.S. side of the border). As one moves westward to the barren lands of New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua and Sonora, the possible variance increases considerably. Even controlling the mouth of the Colorado River where it empties into the Gulf of California is not a critical issue, since hydroelectric development in the United States prevents the river from reaching the Gulf in most years, making it useless for transport.

In the north, the Great Lakes are obviously an ideal break point in the middle of the border region, but the specific location of the line along the rest of the border is largely irrelevant. East of the lakes, low mountains and thick forests dominate the landscape — not the sort of terrain to generate a power that could challenge the U.S. East Coast. The border here could theoretically lie anywhere between the St. Lawrence Seaway and Massachusetts without compromising the American population centers on the East Coast (although, of course, the farther north the line is the more secure the East Coast will be). West of the lakes is flat prairie that can be easily crossed, but the land is too cold and often too dry, and, like the east, it cannot support a large population. So long as the border lies north of the bulk of the Missouri River’s expansive watershed, the border’s specific location is somewhat academic, and it becomes even more so when one reaches the Rockies.

On the far western end of the U.S.-Canada border is the only location where there could be some border friction. The entrance to Puget Sound — one of the world’s best natural harbors — is commanded by Vancouver Island. Most of the former is United States territory, but the latter is Canadian — in fact, the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, sits on the southern tip of that strategic island for precisely that reason. However, the fact that British Columbia is more than 3,000 kilometers from the Toronto region and that there is a 12:1 population imbalance between British Columbia and the American West Coast largely eliminates the possibility of Canadian territorial aggression.

A Geographic History of the United States
It is common knowledge that the United States began as 13 rebellious colonies along the east coast of the center third of the North American continent. But the United States as an entity was not a sure thing in the beginning. France controlled the bulk of the useful territory that in time would enable the United States to rise to power, while the Spanish empire boasted a larger and more robust economy and population in the New World than the fledgling United States. Most of the original 13 colonies were lightly populated by European standards — only Philadelphia could be considered a true city in the European sense — and were linked by only the most basic of physical infrastructure. Additionally, rivers flowed west to east across the coastal plain, tending to sequester regional identities rather than unify them.

But the young United States held two advantages. First, without exception, all of the European empires saw their New World holdings as secondary concerns. For them, the real game — and always the real war — was on another continent in a different hemisphere. Europe’s overseas colonies were either supplementary sources of income or chips to be traded away on the poker table of Europe. France did not even bother using its American territories to dispose of undesirable segments of its society, while Spain granted its viceroys wide latitude in how they governed imperial territories simply because it was not very important so long as the silver and gold shipments kept arriving. With European attentions diverted elsewhere, the young United States had an opportunity to carve out a future for itself relatively free of European entanglements.

Second, the early United States did not face any severe geographic challenges. The barrier island system and local rivers provided a number of options that allowed for rapid cultural and economic expansion up and down the East Coast. The coastal plain — particularly in what would become the American South — was sufficiently wide and well-watered to allow for the steady expansion of cities and farmland. Choices were limited, but so were challenges. This was not England, an island that forced the early state into the expense of a navy. This was not France, a country with three coasts and two land borders that forced Paris to constantly deal with threats from multiple directions. This was not Russia, a massive country suffering from short growing seasons that was forced to expend inordinate sums of capital on infrastructure simply to attempt to feed itself. Instead, the United States could exist in relative peace for its first few decades without needing to worry about any large-scale, omnipresent military or economic challenges, so it did not have to garrison a large military. Every scrap of energy the young country possessed could be spent on making itself more sustainable. When viewed together — the robust natural transport network overlaying vast tracts of excellent farmland, sharing a continent with two much smaller and weaker powers — it is inevitable that whoever controls the middle third of North America will be a great power.

Geopolitical Imperatives
With these basic inputs, the American polity was presented a set of imperatives it had to achieve in order to be a successful nation. They are only rarely declared elements of national policy, instead serving as a sort of subconscious set of guidelines established by geography that most governments — regardless of composition or ideology — find themselves following. The United States’ strategic imperatives are presented here in five parts. Normally imperatives are pursued in order, but there is considerable time overlap between the first two and the second two.

1. Dominate the Greater Mississippi Basin
The early nation was particularly vulnerable to its former colonial master. The original 13 colonies were hardwired into the British Empire economically, and trading with other European powers (at the time there were no other independent states in the Western Hemisphere) required braving the seas that the British still ruled. Additionally, the colonies’ almost exclusively coastal nature made them easy prey for that same navy should hostilities ever recommence, as was driven brutally home in the War of 1812 in which Washington was sacked.

There are only two ways to protect a coastal community from sea power. The first is to counter with another navy. But navies are very expensive, and it was all the United States could do in its first 50 years of existence to muster a merchant marine to assist with trade. France’s navy stood in during the Revolutionary War in order to constrain British power, but once independence was secured, Paris had no further interest in projecting power to the eastern shore of North America (and, in fact, nearly fought a war with the new country in the 1790s).

The second method of protecting a coastal community is to develop territories that are not utterly dependent upon the sea. Here is where the United States laid the groundwork for becoming a major power, since the strategic depth offered in North America was the Greater Mississippi Basin.

Achieving such strategic depth was both an economic and a military imperative. With few exceptions, the American population was based along the coast, and even the exceptions — such as Philadelphia — were easily reached via rivers. The United States was entirely dependent upon the English imperial system not just for finished goods and markets but also for the bulk of its non-agricultural raw materials, in particular coal and iron ore. Expanding inland allowed the Americans to substitute additional supplies from mines in the Appalachian Mountains. But those same mountains also limited just how much depth the early Americans could achieve. The Appalachians may not be the Swiss Alps, but they were sufficiently rugged to put a check on any deep and rapid inland expansion. Even reaching the Ohio River Valley — all of which lay within the initial territories of the independent United States — was largely blocked by the Appalachians. The Ohio River faced the additional problem of draining into the Mississippi, the western shore of which was the French territory of Louisiana and all of which emptied through the fully French-held city of New Orleans.

The United States solved this problem in three phases. First, there was the direct purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. (Technically, France’s Louisiana Territory was Spanish-held at this point, its ownership having been swapped as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 that ended the Seven Years’ War. In October 1800, France and Spain agreed in secret to return the lands to French control, but news of the transfer was not made public until the sale of the lands in question to the United States in July 1803. Therefore, between 1762 and 1803 the territory was legally the territory of the Spanish crown but operationally was a mixed territory under a shifting patchwork of French, Spanish and American management.)

At the time, Napoleon was girding for a major series of wars that would bear his name. France not only needed cash but also to be relieved of the security burden of defending a large but lightly populated territory in a different hemisphere. The Louisiana Purchase not only doubled the size of the United States but also gave it direct ownership of almost all of the Mississippi and Missouri river basins. The inclusion of the city of New Orleans in the purchase granted the United States full control over the entire watershed. Once the territory was purchased, the challenge was to develop the lands. Some settlers migrated northward from New Orleans, but most came via a different route.

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The second phase of the strategic-depth strategy was the construction of that different route: the National Road (aka the Cumberland Road). This project linked Baltimore first to Cumberland, Md. — the head of navigation of the Potomac — and then on to the Ohio River Valley at Wheeling, W. Va., by 1818. Later phases extended the road across Ohio (1828), Indiana (1832) and Illinois (1838) until it eventually reached Jefferson City, Mo., in the 1840s. This single road (known in modern times as Interstate 40 or Interstate 70 for most of its length) allowed American pioneers to directly settle Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri and granted them initial access to Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. For the better part of a century, it was the most heavily trafficked route in the country, and it allowed Americans not only to settle the new Louisiana Territory but also to finally take advantage of the lands ceded by the British in 1787. With the road’s completion, the original 13 colonies were finally lashed to the Greater Mississippi Basin via a route that could not be challenged by any outside power.

The third phase of the early American expansion strategy was in essence an extension of the National Road via a series of settlement trails, by far the most important and famous of which was the Oregon Trail. While less of a formal construction than the National Road, the Oregon Trail opened up far larger territories. The trail was directly responsible for the initial settling of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. A wealth of secondary trails branched off from the main artery — the Mormon, Bozeman, California and Denver trails — and extended the settlement efforts to Montana, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. The trails were all active from the early 1840s until the completion of the country’s first transcontinental railway in 1869. That project’s completion reduced East Coast-West Coast travel time from six months to eight days and slashed the cost by 90 percent (to about $1,100 in 2011 dollars). The river of settlers overnight turned into a flood, finally cementing American hegemony over its vast territories.

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Collectively, the Louisiana Purchase, the National Road and the Oregon Trail facilitated the largest and fastest cultural expansion in human history. From beginning to end, the entire process required less than 70 years. However, it should be noted that the last part of this process — the securing of the West Coast — was not essential to American security. The Columbia River Valley and California’s Central Valley are not critical American territories. Any independent entities based in either could not possibly generate a force capable of threatening the Greater Mississippi Basin. This hardly means that these territories are unattractive or a net loss to the United States — among other things, they grant the United States full access to the Pacific trading basin — only that control of them is not imperative to American security.

2. Eliminate All Land-Based Threats to the Greater Mississippi Basin
The first land threat to the young United States was in essence the second phase of the Revolutionary War — a rematch between the British Empire and the young United States in the War of 1812. That the British navy could outmatch anything the Americans could float was obvious, and the naval blockade was crushing to an economy dependent upon coastal traffic. Geopolitically, the most critical part of the war was the participation of semi-independent British Canada. It wasn’t so much Canadian participation in any specific battle of the war (although Canadian troops did play a leading role in the sacking of Washington in August 1814) as it was that Canadian forces, unlike the British, did not have a supply line that stretched across the Atlantic. They were already in North America and, as such, constituted a direct physical threat to the existence of the United States.

Canada lacked many of the United States’ natural advantages even before the Americans were able to acquire the Louisiana Territory. First and most obvious, Canada is far enough north that its climate is far harsher than that of the United States, with all of the negative complications one would expect for population, agriculture and infrastructure. What few rivers Canada has neither interconnect nor remain usable year round. While the Great Lakes do not typically freeze, some of the river connections between them do. Most of these river connections also have rapids and falls, greatly limiting their utility as a transport network. Canada has made them more usable via grand canal projects, but the country’s low population and difficult climate greatly constrain its ability to generate capital locally. Every infrastructure project comes at a great opportunity cost, such a high cost that the St. Lawrence Seaway — a series of locks that link the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes and allow full ocean access — was not completed until 1959.

Canada is also greatly challenged by geography. The maritime provinces — particularly Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island — are disconnected from the Canadian landmass and unable to capitalize on what geographic blessings the rest of the country enjoys. They lack even the option of integrating south with the Americans and so are perennially poor and lightly populated compared to the rest of the country. Even in the modern day, what population centers Canada does have are geographically sequestered from one another by the Canadian Shield and the Rocky Mountains.

As time advanced, none of Canada’s geographic weaknesses worked themselves out. Even the western provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — are linked to Canada’s core by only a single transport corridor that snakes 1,500 kilometers through the emptiness of western and central Ontario north of Lake Superior. All four provinces have been forced by geography and necessity to be more economically integrated with their southern neighbors than with their fellow Canadian provinces.

Such challenges to unity and development went from being inconvenient and expensive to downright dangerous when the British ended their involvement in the War of 1812 in February 1815. The British were exhausted from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe and, with the French Empire having essentially imploded, were more interested in reshaping the European balance of power than re-engaging the Americans in distant North America. For their part, the Americans were mobilized, angry and — remembering vividly the Canadian/British sacking of Washington — mulling revenge. This left a geographically and culturally fractured Canada dreading a long-term, solitary confrontation with a hostile and strengthening local power. During the following decades, the Canadians had little choice but to downgrade their ties to the increasingly disinterested British Empire, adopt political neutrality vis-a-vis Washington, and begin formal economic integration with the United States. Any other choice would have put the Canadians on the path to another war with the Americans (this time likely without the British), and that war could have had only one outcome.

With its northern border secured, the Americans set about excising as much other extra-hemispheric influence from North America as possible. The Napoleonic Wars had not only absorbed British attention but had also shattered Spanish power (Napoleon actually succeeded in capturing the king of Spain early in the conflicts). Using a combination of illegal settlements, military pressure and diplomacy, the United States was able to gain control of east and west Florida from Madrid in 1819 in exchange for recognizing Spanish claims to what is now known as Texas (Tejas to the Spanish of the day).

This “recognition” was not even remotely serious. With Spain reeling from the Napoleonic Wars, Spanish control of its New World colonies was frayed at best. Most of Spain’s holdings in the Western Hemisphere either had already established their independence when Florida was officially ceded, or — as in Mexico — were bitterly fighting for it. Mexico achieved its independence a mere two years after Spain ceded Florida, and the United States’ efforts to secure its southwestern borders shifted to a blatant attempt to undermine and ultimately carve up the one remaining Western Hemispheric entity that could potentially challenge the United States: Mexico.

The Ohio and Upper Mississippi basins were hugely important assets, since they provided not only ample land for settlement but also sufficient grain production and easy transport. Since that transport allowed American merchants to easily access broader international markets, the United States quickly transformed itself from a poor coastal nation to a massively capital-rich commodities exporter. But these inner territories harbored a potentially fatal flaw: New Orleans. Should any nation but the United States control this single point, the entire maritime network that made North America such valuable territory would be held hostage to the whims of a foreign power. This is why the United States purchased New Orleans.

But even with the Louisiana Purchase, owning was not the same as securing, and all the gains of the Ohio and Louisiana settlement efforts required the permanent securing of New Orleans. Clearly, the biggest potential security threat to the United States was newly independent Mexico, the border with which was only 150 kilometers from New Orleans. In fact, New Orleans’ security was even more precarious than such a small distance suggested.

Most of eastern Texas was forested plains and hills with ample water supplies — ideal territory for hosting and supporting a substantial military force. In contrast, southern Louisiana was swamp. Only the city of New Orleans itself could house forces, and they would need to be supplied from another location via ship. It did not require a particularly clever military strategy for one to envision a Mexican assault on the city.

The United States defused and removed this potential threat by encouraging the settlement of not just its own side of the border region but the other side as well, pushing until the legal border reflected the natural border — the barrens of the desert. Just as the American plan for dealing with Canada was shaped by Canada’s geographic weakness, Washington’s efforts to first shield against and ultimately take over parts of Mexico were shaped by Mexico’s geographic shortcomings.

In the early 1800s Mexico, like the United States, was a very young country and much of its territory was similarly unsettled, but it simply could not expand as quickly as the United States for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the United States enjoyed a head start, having secured its independence in 1783 while Mexico became independent in 1821, but the deeper reasons are rooted in the geographic differences of the two states.

In the United States, the cheap transport system allowed early settlers to quickly obtain their own small tracts of land. It was an attractive option that helped fuel the early migration waves into the United States and then into the continent’s interior. Growing ranks of landholders exported their agricultural output either back down the National Road to the East Coast or down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and on to Europe. Small towns formed as wealth collected in the new territories, and in time the wealth accumulated to the point that portions of the United States had the capital necessary to industrialize. The interconnected nature of the Midwest ensured sufficient economies of scale to reinforce this process, and connections between the Midwest and the East Coast were sufficient to allow advances in one region to play off of and strengthen the other.

Mexico, in contrast, suffered from a complete lack of navigable rivers and had only a single good port (Veracruz). Additionally, what pieces of arable land it possessed were neither collected into a singular mass like the American interior nor situated at low elevations. The Mexico City region is arable only because it sits at a high elevation — at least 2,200 meters above sea level — lifting it out of the subtropical climate zone that predominates at that latitude.

This presented Mexico with a multitude of problems. First and most obviously, the lack of navigable waterways and the non-abundance of ports drastically reduced Mexico’s ability to move goods and thereby generate its own capital. Second, the disassociated nature of Mexico’s agricultural regions forced the construction of separate, non-integrated infrastructures for each individual sub-region, drastically raising the costs of even basic development. There were few economies of scale to be had, and advances in one region could not bolster another. Third, the highland nature of the Mexico City core required an even more expensive infrastructure, since everything had to be transported up the mountains from Veracruz. The engineering challenges and costs were so extreme and Mexico’s ability to finance them so strained that the 410-kilometer railway linking Mexico City and Veracruz was not completed until 1873. (By that point, the United States had two intercontinental lines and roughly 60,000 kilometers of railways.)

The higher cost of development in Mexico resulted in a very different economic and social structure compared to the United States. Instead of small landholdings, Mexican agriculture was dominated by a small number of rich Spaniards (or their descendants) who could afford the high capital costs of creating plantations. So whereas American settlers were traditionally yeoman farmers who owned their own land, Mexican settlers were largely indentured laborers or de facto serfs in the employ of local oligarchs. The Mexican landowners had, in essence, created their own company towns and saw little benefit in pooling their efforts to industrialize. Doing so would have undermined their control of their economic and political fiefdoms. This social structure has survived to the modern day, with the bulk of Mexican political and economic power held by the same 300 families that dominated Mexico’s early years, each with its local geographic power center.

For the United States, the attraction of owning one’s own destiny made it the destination of choice for most European migrants. At the time that Mexico achieved independence it had 6.2 million people versus the U.S. population of 9.6 million. In just two generations — by 1870 — the American population had ballooned to 38.6 million while Mexico’s was only 8.8 million. This U.S. population boom, combined with the United States’ ability to industrialize organically, not only allowed it to develop economically but also enabled it to provide the goods for its own development.

The American effort against Mexico took place in two theaters. The first was Texas, and the primary means was settlement as enabled by the Austin family. Most Texas scholars begin the story of Texas with Stephen F. Austin, considered to be the dominant personality in Texas’ formation. STRATFOR starts earlier with Stephen’s father, Moses Austin. In December 1796, Moses relocated from Virginia to then-Spanish Missouri — a region that would, within a decade, become part of the Louisiana Purchase — and began investing in mining operations. He swore fealty to the Spanish crown but obtained permission to assist with settling the region — something he did with American, not Spanish, citizens. Once Missouri became American territory, Moses shifted his attention south to the new border and used his contacts in the Spanish government to replicate his Missouri activities in Spanish Tejas.

After Moses’ death in 1821, his son took over the family business of establishing American demographic and economic interests on the Mexican side of the border. Whether the Austins were American agents or simply profiteers is irrelevant; the end result was an early skewing of Tejas in the direction of the United States. Stephen’s efforts commenced the same year as his father’s death, which was the same year that Mexico’s long war of independence against Spain ended. At that time, Spanish/Mexican Tejas was nearly devoid of settlers — Anglo or Hispanic — so the original 300 families that Stephen F. Austin helped settle in Tejas immediately dominated the territory’s demography and economy. And from that point on the United States not so quietly encouraged immigration into Mexican Tejas.

Once Tejas’ population identified more with the United States than it did with Mexico proper, the hard work was already done. The remaining question was how to formalize American control, no small matter. When hostilities broke out between Mexico City and these so-called “Texians,” U.S. financial interests — most notably the U.S. regional reserve banks — bankrolled the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836.

It was in this war that one of the most important battles of the modern age was fought. After capturing the Alamo, Mexican dictator Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna marched north and then east with the intention of smashing the Texian forces in a series of engagements. With the Texians outnumbered by a factor of more than five to one, there was every indication that the Mexican forces would prevail over the Texian rebels. But with no small amount of luck the Texians managed not only to defeat the Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto but also capture Santa Anna himself and force a treaty of secession upon the Mexican government. An independent Texas was born and the Texians became Texans.

However, had the battle gone the other way the Texian forces would not have simply been routed but crushed. It was obvious to the Mexicans that the Texians had been fighting with weapons made in the United States, purchased from the United States with money lent by the United States. Since there would have been no military force between the Mexican army and New Orleans, it would not have required a particularly ingenious plan for Mexican forces to capture New Orleans. It could well have been Mexico — not the United States — that controlled access to the North American core.

But Mexican supremacy over North America was not to be, and the United States continued consolidating. The next order of business was ensuring that Texas neither fell back under Mexican control nor was able to persist as an independent entity.

Texas was practically a still-born republic. The western half of Texas suffers from rocky soil and aridity, and its rivers are for the most part unnavigable. Like Mexico, its successful development would require a massive application of capital, and it attained its independence only by accruing a great deal of debt. That debt was owed primarily to the United States, which chose not to write off any upon conclusion of the war. Add in that independent Texas had but 40,000 people (compared to the U.S. population at the time of 14.7 million) and the future of the new country was — at best — bleak.

Texas immediately applied for statehood, but domestic (both Texan and American) political squabbles and a refusal of Washington to accept Texas’ debt as an American federal responsibility prevented immediate annexation. Within a few short years, Texas’ deteriorating financial position combined with a revenge-minded Mexico hard by its still-disputed border forced Texas to accede to the United States on Washington’s terms in 1845. From that point the United States poured sufficient resources into its newest territory (ultimately exchanging approximately one-third of Texas’ territory for the entirety of the former country’s debt burden in 1850, giving Texas its contemporary shape) and set about enforcing the new U.S.-Mexico border.

Which brings us to the second part of the American strategy against Mexico. While the United States was busy supporting Texian/Texan autonomy, it was also undermining Spanish/Mexican control of the lands of what would become the American Southwest farther to the west. The key pillar of this strategy was another of the famous American trails: the Santa Fe.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Santa Fe Trail was formed not only before the New Mexico Territory became American, or even before Texas became an U.S. state, but before the territory become formally Mexican — the United States founded the trail when Santa Fe was still held by Spanish authority. The trail’s purpose was twofold: first, to fill the region on the other side of the border with a sufficient number of Americans so that the region would identify with the United States rather than with Spain or Mexico and, second, to establish an economic dependency between the northern Mexican territories and the United States.

The United States’ more favorable transport options and labor demography granted it the capital and skills it needed to industrialize at a time when Mexico was still battling Spain for its independence. The Santa Fe Trail started filling the region not only with American settlers but also with American industrial goods that Mexicans could not get elsewhere in the hemisphere.

Even if the race to dominate the lands of New Mexico and Arizona had been a fair one, the barrens of the Chihuahuan, Sonoran and Mojave deserts greatly hindered Mexico’s ability to settle the region with its own citizens. Mexico quickly fell behind economically and demographically in the contest for its own northern territories. (Incidentally, the United States attempted a similar settlement policy in western Canada, but it was halted by the War of 1812.)

The two efforts — carving out Texas and demographically and economically dominating the Southwest — came to a head in the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War. In that war the Americans launched a series of diversionary attacks across the border region, drawing the bulk of Mexican forces into long, arduous marches across the Mexican deserts. Once Mexican forces were fully engaged far to the north of Mexico’s core territories — and on the wrong side of the deserts — American forces made an amphibious landing and quickly captured Mexico’s only port at Veracruz before marching on and capturing Mexico City, the country’s capital. In the postwar settlement, the United States gained control of all the lands of northern Mexico that could sustain sizable populations and set the border with Mexico through the Chihuahuan Desert, as good of an international border as one can find in North America. This firmly eliminated Mexico as a military threat.

3. Control the Ocean Approaches to North America
With the United States having not simply secured its land borders but having ensured that its North American neighbors were geographically unable to challenge it, Washington’s attention shifted to curtailing the next potential threat: an attack from the sea. Having been settled by the British and being economically integrated into their empire for more than a century, the Americans understood very well that sea power could be used to reach them from Europe or elsewhere, outmaneuver their land forces and attack at the whim of whoever controlled the ships.

But the Americans also understood that useful sea power had requirements. The Atlantic crossing was a long one that exhausted its crews and passengers. Troops could not simply sail straight across and be dropped off ready to fight. They required recuperation on land before being committed to a war. Such ships and their crews also required local resupply. Loading up with everything needed for both the trip across the Atlantic and a military campaign would leave no room on the ships for troops. As naval technology advanced, the ships themselves also required coal, which necessitated a constellation of coaling stations near any theaters of operation. Hence, a naval assault required forward bases that would experience traffic just as heavy as the spear tip of any invasion effort.

Ultimately, it was a Russian decision that spurred the Americans to action. In 1821 the Russians formalized their claim to the northwest shore of North America, complete with a declaration barring any ship from approaching within 100 miles of their coastline. The Russian claim extended as far south as the 51st parallel (the northern extreme of Vancouver Island). A particularly bold Russian effort even saw the founding of Fort Ross, less than 160 kilometers north of San Francisco Bay, in order to secure a (relatively) local supply of foodstuffs for Russia’s American colonial effort.

In response to both the broader geopolitical need as well as the specific Russian challenge, the United States issued the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. It asserted that European powers would not be allowed to form new colonies in the Western Hemisphere and that, should a European power lose its grip on an existing New World colony, American power would be used to prevent their re-entrance. It was a policy of bluff, but it did lay the groundwork in both American and European minds that the Western Hemisphere was not European territory. With every year that the Americans’ bluff was not called, the United States’ position gained a little more credibility.

All the while the United States used diplomacy and its growing economic heft to expand. In 1867 the United States purchased the Alaska Territory from Russia, removing Moscow’s weak influence from the hemisphere and securing the United States from any northwestern coastal approach from Asia. In 1898, after a generation of political manipulations that included indirectly sponsoring a coup, Washington signed a treaty of annexation with the Kingdom of Hawaii. This secured not only the most important supply depot in the entire Pacific but also the last patch of land on any sea invasion route from Asia to the U.S. West Coast.

The Atlantic proved far more problematic. There are not many patches of land in the Pacific, and most of them are in the extreme western reaches of the ocean, so securing a buffer there was relatively easy. On the Atlantic side, many European empires were firmly entrenched very close to American shores. The British held bases in maritime Canada and the Bahamas. Several European powers held Caribbean colonies, all of which engaged in massive trade with the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War. The Spanish, while completely ejected from the mainland by the end of the 1820s, still held Cuba, Puerto Rico and the eastern half of Hispaniola (the modern-day Dominican Republic).

All were problematic to the growing United States, but it was Cuba that was the most vexing issue. Just as the city of New Orleans is critical because it is the lynchpin of the entire Mississippi watershed, Cuba, too, is critical because it oversees New Orleans’ access to the wider world from its perch on the Yucatan Channel and Florida Straits. No native Cuban power is strong enough to threaten the United States directly, but like Canada, Cuba could serve as a launching point for an extra-hemispheric power. At Spain’s height of power in the New World it controlled Florida, the Yucatan and Cuba — precisely the pieces of territory necessary to neutralize New Orleans. By the end of the 19th century, those holdings had been whittled down to Cuba alone, and by that time the once-hegemonic Spain had been crushed in a series of European wars, reducing it to a second-rate regional power largely limited to southwestern Europe. It did not take long for Washington to address the Cuba question.

In 1898, the United States launched its first-ever overseas expeditionary war, complete with amphibious assaults, long supply lines and naval support for which American warfighting would in time become famous. In a war that was as globe-spanning as it was brief, the United States captured all of Spain’s overseas island territories — including Cuba. Many European powers retained bases in the Western Hemisphere that could threaten the U.S. mainland, but with Cuba firmly in American hands, they could not easily assault New Orleans, the only spot that could truly threaten America’s position. Cuba remained a de facto American territory until the Cuban Revolution of 1959. At that point, Cuba again became a launching point for an extra-hemispheric power, this time the Soviet Union. That the United States risked nuclear war over Cuba is a testament to how seriously Washington views Cuba. In the post-Cold War era Cuba lacks a powerful external sponsor and so, like Canada, is not viewed as a security risk.

After the Spanish-American war, the Americans opportunistically acquired territories when circumstances allowed. By far the most relevant of these annexations were the results of the Lend-Lease program in the lead-up to World War II. The United Kingdom and its empire had long been seen as the greatest threat to American security. In addition to two formal American-British wars, the United States had fought dozens of skirmishes with its former colonial master over the years. It was British sea power that had nearly destroyed the United States in its early years, and it remained British sea power that could both constrain American economic growth and ultimately challenge the U.S. position in North America.

The opening years of World War II ended this potential threat. Beset by a European continent fully under the control of Nazi Germany, London had been forced to concentrate all of its naval assets on maintaining a Continental blockade. German submarine warfare threatened both the strength of that blockade and the ability of London to maintain its own maritime supply lines. Simply put, the British needed more ships. The Americans were willing to provide them — 40 mothballed destroyers to be exact — for a price. That price was almost all British naval bases in the Western Hemisphere. The only possessions that boasted good natural ports that the British retained after the deal were in Nova Scotia and the Bahamas.

The remaining naval approaches in the aftermath of Lend-Lease were the Azores (a Portuguese possession) and Iceland. The first American operations upon entering World War II were the occupations of both territories. In the post-war settlement, not only was Iceland formally included in NATO but its defense responsibilities were entirely subordinated to the U.S. Defense Department.

4. Control the World’s Oceans
The two world wars of the early 20th century constituted a watershed in human history for a number of reasons. For the United States the wars’ effects can be summed up with this simple statement: They cleared away the competition.

Global history from 1500 to 1945 is a lengthy treatise of increasing contact and conflict among a series of great regional powers. Some of these powers achieved supra-regional empires, with the Spanish, French and English being the most obvious. Several regional powers — Austria, Germany, Ottoman Turkey and Japan — also succeeded in extending their writ over huge tracts of territory during parts of this period. And several secondary powers — the Netherlands, Poland, China and Portugal — had periods of relative strength. Yet the two world wars massively devastated all of these powers. No battles were fought in the mainland United States. Not a single American factory was ever bombed. Alone among the world’s powers in 1945, the United States was not only functional but thriving.

The United States immediately set to work consolidating its newfound power, creating a global architecture to entrench its position. The first stage of this — naval domination — was achieved quickly and easily. The U.S. Navy at the beginning of World War II was already a respectable institution, but after three years fighting across two oceans it had achieved both global reach and massive competency. But that is only part of the story. Equally important was the fact that, as of August 1945, with the notable exception of the British Royal Navy, every other navy in the world had been destroyed. As impressive as the United States’ absolute gains in naval power had been, its relative gains were grander still. There simply was no competition. Always a maritime merchant power, the United States could now marry its economic advantages to absolute dominance of the seas and all global trade routes. And it really didn’t need to build a single additional ship to do so (although it did anyway).

Over the next few years the United States’ undisputed naval supremacy allowed the Americans to impose a series of changes on the international system.

The formation of NATO in 1949 placed all of the world’s surviving naval assets under American strategic direction.
The inclusion of the United Kingdom, Italy, Iceland and Norway in NATO granted the United States the basing rights it needed to utterly dominate the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean — the two bodies of water that would be required for any theoretical European resurgence. The one meaningful European attempt to challenge the new reality — the Anglo-French Sinai campaign of 1956 — cemented the downfall of the European navies. Both London and Paris discovered that they now lacked the power to hold naval policies independent of Washington.
The seizure of Japan’s Pacific empire granted the Americans basing access in the Pacific, sufficient to allow complete American naval dominance of the north and central portions of that ocean.
A formal alliance with Australia and New Zealand extended American naval hegemony to the southern Pacific in 1951.
A 1952 security treaty placed a rehabilitated Japan — and its navy — firmly under the American security umbrella.
Shorn of both independent economic vitality at home and strong independent naval presences beyond their home waters, all of the European empires quickly collapsed. Within a few decades of World War II’s end, nearly every piece of the once globe-spanning European empires had achieved independence.

There is another secret to American success — both in controlling the oceans and taking advantage of European failures — that lies in an often-misunderstood economic structure called Bretton Woods. Even before World War II ended, the United States had leveraged its position as the largest economy and military to convince all of the Western allies — most of whose governments were in exile at the time — to sign onto the Bretton Woods accords. The states committed to the formation of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to assist with the expected post-War reconstruction. Considering the general destitution of Western Europe at the time, this, in essence, was a U.S. commitment to finance if not outright fund that reconstruction. Because of that, the U.S. dollar was the obvious and only choice to serve as the global currency.

But Bretton Woods was about more than currency regimes and international institutions; its deeper purpose lay in two other features that are often overlooked. The United States would open its markets to participating states’ exports while not requiring reciprocal access for its own. In exchange, participating states would grant the United States deference in the crafting of security policy. NATO quickly emerged as the organization through which this policy was pursued.

From the point of view of the non-American founders of Bretton Woods, this was an excellent deal. Self-funded reconstruction was out of the question. The bombing campaigns required to defeat the Nazis leveled most of Western Europe’s infrastructure and industrial capacity. Even in those few parts of the United Kingdom that emerged unscathed, the state labored under a debt that would require decades of economic growth to recover from.

It was not so much that access to the American market would help regenerate Europe’s fortunes as it was that the American market was the only market at war’s end. And since all exports from Bretton-Woods states (which the exception of some Canadian exports) to the United States had to travel by water, and since the U.S. Navy was the only institution that could guarantee the safety of those exports, adopting security policies unfriendly to Washington was simply seen as a nonstarter. By the mid-1950s, Bretton Woods had been expanded to the defeated Axis powers as well as South Korea and Taiwan. It soon became the basis of the global trading network, first being incorporated into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and in time being transformed into the World Trade Organization. With a single policy, the Americans not only had fused their economic and military policies into a single robust system but also had firmly established that American dominance of the seas and the global economic system would be in the interest of all major economies with the exception of the Soviet Union.

5. Prevent any Potential Challengers from Rising
From a functional point of view the United States controls North America because it holds nearly all of the pieces that are worth holding. With the possible exception of Cuba or some select sections of southern Canada, the rest of the landmass is more trouble than it is worth. Additionally, the security relationship it has developed with Canada and Mexico means that neither poses an existential threat to American dominance. Any threat to the United States would have to come from beyond North America. And the only type of country that could possibly dislodge the United States would be another state whose power is also continental in scope.

As of 2011, there are no such states in the international system. Neither are there any such powers whose rise is imminent. Most of the world is simply too geographically hostile to integration to pose significant threats. The presence of jungles, deserts and mountains and the lack of navigable rivers in Africa does more than make Africa capital poor; it also absolutely prevents unification, thus eliminating Africa as a potential seedbed for a mega-state. As for Australia, most of it is not habitable. It is essentially eight loosely connected cities spread around the edges of a largely arid landmass. Any claims to Australia being a “continental” power would be literal, not functional.

In fact, there are only two portions of the planet (outside of North America) that could possibly generate a rival to the United States. One is South America. South America is mostly hollow, with the people living on the coasts and the center dominated by rainforests and mountains. However, the Southern Cone region has the world’s only other naturally interconnected and navigable waterway system overlaying arable land, the building blocks of a major power. But that territory — the Rio de la Plata region — is considerably smaller than the North American core and it is also split among four sovereign states. And the largest of those four — Brazil — has a fundamentally different culture and language than the others, impeding unification.

State-to-state competition is hardwired into the Rio de la Plata region, making a challenge to the United States impossible until there is political consolidation, and that will require not simply Brazil’s ascendency but also its de facto absorption of Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina into a single Brazilian superstate. Considering how much more powerful Brazil is than the other three combined, that consolidation — and the challenge likely to arise from it — may well be inevitable but it is certainly not imminent. Countries the size of Argentina do not simply disappear easily or quickly. So while a South American challenge may be rising, it is extremely unlikely to occur within a generation.

The other part of the world that could produce a rival to the United States is Eurasia. Eurasia is a region of extremely varied geography, and it is the most likely birthplace of an American competitor that would be continental in scope. Geography, however, makes it extremely difficult for such a power (or a coalition of such powers) to arise. In fact, the southern sub-regions of Eurasia cannot contribute to such formation. The Ganges River Basin is the most agriculturally productive in the world, but the Ganges is not navigable. The combination of fertile lands and non-navigable waterways makes the region crushingly overpopu
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