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23751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Assessing the Awlaki hit on: October 06, 2011, 08:21:36 AM

By Scott Stewart
U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an ideologue and spokesman for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda’s franchise in Yemen, was killed in a Sept. 30 airstrike directed against a motorcade near the town of Khashef in Yemen’s al-Jawf province. The strike, which occurred at 9:55 a.m. local time, reportedly was conducted by a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and may have also involved fixed-wing naval aircraft. Three other men were killed in the strike, one of whom was Samir Khan, the creator and editor of AQAP’s English-language magazine  Inspire.
Al-Awlaki has been targeted before; in fact, he had been declared dead on at least two occasions. The first time followed a December 2009 airstrike in Shabwa province, and the second followed a May 5 airstrike, also in Shabwa. In light of confirmation from the U.S. and Yemeni governments and from statements made by al-Awlaki’s family members, it appears that he is indeed dead this time. We anticipate that AQAP soon will issue an official statement confirming the deaths of al-Awlaki and Khan.
As STRATFOR noted Sept. 30, the deaths of both al-Awlaki and Khan can be expected to greatly hamper AQAP’s efforts to radicalize and equip English-speaking Muslims. The group may have other native English speakers, but individuals who possess the charisma and background of al-Awlaki or the graphics and editorial skills of Khan are difficult to come by in Yemen. The al Qaeda franchise’s English-language outreach is certain to face a significant setback.
This deaths of al-Awlaki and Khan and the impact their deaths will have on AQAP’s outreach efforts provide an opportunity to consider the importance of individuals — and their personal skill sets — to militant organizations, especially organizations seeking to conduct transnational media and ideological operations.
Bridging the Gap Between Militant Ideology and Operations
When considering militant groups with transnational objectives and reach such as AQAP, we need to recognize that there are several components necessary for such groups to conduct successful operations, including finances, logistics, planning, training and intelligence. But at a higher level, there is also the distinction between those elements of the group that are dedicated to operations on the physical battlefield and those who are focused on operations on the ideological battlefield. While physical operations are important for obvious reasons, the ideological component is also critically important because it allows a group to recruit new members, maintain the ideological commitment of those already in the group and help shape public perception through propaganda. Because of this, the ideological component is especially important for the long-term viability and continuity of a group or movement.
Groups such as the al Qaeda core and AQAP appreciate the importance of the ideological struggle. Published three days before the airstrike against Khan and al-Awlaki, the seventh edition of Inspire contains an article written by Khan titled “The Media Conflict,” wherein he quotes AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahayshi (aka Abu Basir) as stating, “media work is half of the jihad.”
The role of the media in propagating militant ideology has been revolutionized by the Internet, which allows small groups in remote corners of the globe to produce and broadcast material that is almost instantly available to people all around the world. Indeed, jihadists have succeeded in radicalizing and recruiting people from disparate countries. Products such as Inspire or the video and audio recordings of militant leaders such as al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri are a giant leap forward from the way militants communicated 25 years ago, when groups like November 17 would send communiques to the newspapers and Hezbollah would release videos via major television networks of Western hostages they had kidnapped.
Interestingly, militant groups quickly recognized the significance of this media democratization and were early adopters of the Internet. By the mid-1990s, white supremacists in the United States had established, and in 1996, jihadists inaugurated, a professional-looking website that allowed them to provide inspiration, news and instruction to adherents to their ideology and to potential recruits. eventually became an important mechanism through which funds for jihadist groups could be raised and willing volunteers could find ways to link up with jihadist groups in places like Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia.
Thus, the Internet began to serve as a bridge that connected the ideological battlefield with the physical battlefield. When we look back at AQAP’s media activities, we can see that they, too, were intended to bridge this gap. For example, the group’s Arabic language magazine Sada al-Malahim (meaning “Echo of Battle”) regularly contained not only articles intended to propagate and defend the jihadist ideology but also articles designed to give practical and tactical guidance. And when al-Wahayshi in October 2009 began advocating that jihadists in the West practice a leaderless-resistance style of operations rather than traveling to places like Yemen or Pakistan for training, they promoted that tactical shift via Sada al-Malahim.
Khan’s and Al-Awlaki’s Significance for Inspire
In July 2010, AQAP launched the first edition of Inspire magazine. Khan, a longtime publisher of jihadist material, was chosen to spearhead the Inspire project for AQAP. (Khan was born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents but raised in the United States.) Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Khan began to publish an English-language pro-jihadist blog and eventually established jihadist websites and an Internet magazine called Jihad Recollections. It was the artistic similarities between Jihad Recollections and Inspire that helped identify Khan as the editor of Inspire. Khan left his parents’ home in Charlotte, N.C., in 2009 to move to Yemen after he learned the FBI was investigating him for his connections to jihadist groups.
Inspire was established intentionally to help further al-Wahayshi’s vision of jihadists adopting the leaderless resistance model. Its stated purpose was to radicalize and recruit young, English-speaking Muslims and then inspire and equip them to conduct attacks in the West.
Khan was only 16 years old when he began his jihadist propaganda activities in 2002, and he essentially grew up on the ideological battlefield. By the time he immigrated to Yemen in 2009, he was an experienced cyber-jihadist. In addition to his advanced computer security skills, Khan also energized the Inspire magazine project, and his youth, colloquial American English competency, graphic design flair and knowledge of American pop culture gave Inspire magazine an edgy quality that appealed to young, English-speaking Muslims.
Notably, Khan did not produce most of the written content for Inspire. In fact, he relied heavily on the speeches of al Qaeda figures such as al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, the books of Abu Musab al-Suri and interviews with AQAP figures such as al-Wahayshi and al-Awlaki. However, it was the way in which Khan packaged these materials that made them so appealing. Certainly, there may have been others working with Khan to produce Inspire, and other people undoubtedly can continue to translate portions of al Qaeda speeches or interview AQAP leaders, but Khan was the driving creative force behind the project. His death thus likely will have a substantial impact on the content and feel of Inspire — if the magazine continues at all.
AQAP’s Arabic-language propaganda efforts suffered a blow in December 2010 when Nayf bin Mohammed al-Qahtani, the founder and editor of Sada al-Malahim and the founder of Malahim media, was killed in a battle with Yemeni security forces. Sada al-Malahim had been publishing an edition roughly every two months since its inception in January 2008. However, since the release of its 16th edition in February 2011, possibly an edition al-Qahtani had worked on, the promised 17th edition has yet to be published. It is possible Inspire will meet the same fate.
However, Khan was not the only American-born jihadist living in Yemen who possessed unique talents that were useful to AQAP’s outreach efforts to English-speaking Muslims. Al-Awlaki had been the imam of congregations in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Va., but left the United States in 2002 after being investigated for his ties to two of the 9/11 hijackers and links to a number of other jihadist figures and plots. Al-Awlaki initially moved to the United Kingdom, where he continued to preach, but as authorities began to clamp down on radical preachers in what has been termed “Londonistan,” al-Awlaki moved to Yemen, his ancestral homeland, in 2004.
During his years in the United States and the United Kingdom, al-Awlaki had become a high-profile imam known for his intellect, charisma and ability to appeal to young, English-speaking Muslims. His sermons became very popular, and audio recordings of those sermons were widely distributed on the Internet via his personal website as well as several other Islamic websites. (Thousands of these videos have been posted to YouTube and have received tens of thousands of hits.) Despite his being under investigation by the U.S. government, in 2002 al Awlaki was asked to lead a prayer service at the U.S. Capitol and to speak at the Pentagon on the topic of radical Islam. These engagements reflected al-Awlaki’s popularity and added to the mystique that surrounded him. He was seen as a bit of a celebrity in the English-speaking Muslim world, and his presence in Yemen undoubtedly played a big factor in al-Wahayshi’s decision to expand AQAP’s outreach to al-Awlaki’s audience.
Through his work on the ideological battlefield, Al-Awlaki was able to draw men to the physical battlefield. These men could be sent on on suicide missions, such as would-be Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, or encouraged to conduct simple attacks where they live, as in the case of Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan.
It is important to remember that al-Awlaki was not AQAP’s primary theological authority. The group’s mufti, Suleiman al-Rubaish, a Saudi cleric with a degree in Islamic law, fought with al-Wahayshi and bin Laden at Tora Bora in 2001 before being captured and spending five years in captivity at Guantanamo Bay. After being returned to Saudi Arabia in 2006, al-Rubaish completed the Saudi rehabilitation program and then promptly fled the country to Yemen after his release. Moreover, AQAP’s Shariah Council, of which al-Awlaki was a member, is chaired by a Yemeni cleric named Adel bin Abdullah al-Abab.
Al-Rubaish maintains serious credibility among jihadists because of his friendship with bin Laden, his survival at Tora Bora and his time served in Guantanamo, and al-Abab is a respected Yemeni cleric. However, neither of the men possesses the native-English language ability of al-Awlaki. They also lack the ability to culturally relate to and motivate Muslims in the West in the same way that al-Awlaki did — and continues to do, via his messages that live on in cyberspace. Because of this, al-Awlaki will not be easily replaced.
AQAP’s Operational Ability Intact
This brings us to the ideas of leadership and succession in militant groups. Some have argued that arresting or killing key members of militant networks does not impact such groups, but experience seems to indicate that in many cases the removal of key personnel does indeed make a difference, especially in the near term and if pressure is maintained on the organization. This dynamic has been reflected by the ongoing post-9/11 campaign against the al Qaeda core and their inability to conduct their oft threatened, and purportedly more deadly, follow-on attacks to 9/11. It has also been demonstrated by the operations mounted against regional jihadist franchise groups in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. The removal of key personnel such as Saudi leader Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin and Indonesian jihadists Hambali and Noordin Top have had substantial impacts on those regional franchises.
Of course, while AQAP’s English-speaking outreach will be severely crippled following Khan’s and al-Awlaki’s deaths, the core of its physical battlefield operational leadership remains intact. Al-Wahayshi is a competent and savvy leader. His military commander, Qasim al-Raymi, is an aggressive, ruthless and fierce fighter, and his principal bomb maker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is creative and imaginative in designing his innovative explosive devices. There were rumors circulating that al-Asiri had been killed in the airstrike directed against al-Awlaki, but they proved to be unfounded. If al-Asiri had been killed, the airstrike would have impacted both the ideological and operational abilities of the group.
The recent increase of U.S. airstrikes, including the one that killed al-Awlaki and Khan, will serve to keep AQAP’s leaders focused on survival, as will the conventional warfare in which the group is currently engaging as it fights for control over areas of Yemen. However, the AQAP leadership undoubtedly still desires to attack the United States and the West — perhaps even more so now to avenge their fallen comrades. If they are given the time and space to plot and plan, the AQAP leadership will continue their efforts to attack the United States. They certainly retain the capability to do so, despite the loss of two ideological leaders.
23752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IMF=US paying 1/6th on: October 06, 2011, 08:15:17 AM

The European Counterbalance
The director of the European Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Antonio Borges, startled observers Wednesday when he suggested the IMF could expand its assistance to Europe by taking the unorthodox step of directly intervening in their sovereign debt markets. Borges then backtracked on these statements mere hours later, saying that the IMF is not actually contemplating such a strategy and that pursuing it would require a discussion among IMF member states.

The causes behind this jarring series of events currently are unclear, but a number of possibilities exist. Borges could have simply let details from an internal brainstorming session slip out and then been called back into line, or his suggestion could be a sign of an internal struggle in the IMF over the best course of action to redress the deteriorating situation in Europe. It is even possible that the statement was intended to float the idea of bond market intervention to the IMF’s global audience to gauge reactions and steer the dialogue in that direction.
“There is a massive amount of inertia built up in the European experiment, an enormous amount of attachment to costs already paid — the flip side of which is an abiding fear of dissolution.”
Another possibility is that, viewing the mounting concern over the crisis, the IMF has decided to brandish its $396 billion lending capacity, perhaps in an effort to convince investors to rethink any bets against Europe. Public officials regularly employ rhetoric as a tool to impact financial markets; it costs a lot less than dipping into tax money and is often effective in the short run. On Tuesday, for example, EU economy minister Olli Rehn hinted at a “coordinated” and “concerted” bank recapitalization effort, which triggered a surge of buying in equities and other asset markets. Rehn’s words, like Borges’, are only words, and the markets will soon forget them.
It will take much more than words to fix Europe. STRATFOR has put the cost of shoring up Europe in the medium term in the realm of 2 trillion euros. Despite the fact that the cost to the globe of a European financial collapse would vastly outstrip this amount, interested parties from the IMF to the Chinese and even the Europeans themselves have not been able to materially abate the crisis. The reason is simple. All solutions to date have attempted to shuttle funds from healthier balance sheets onto the balance sheets of bankrupt lenders and countries on the verge of default. Cobbling together enough hard capital to tamp down this crisis will almost certainly prove impossible.
Aside from the sheer magnitude of the fundraising challenge, this poses a special kind of problem in Europe, where the incompatible sentiments of nationalism and European unity have checked the distribution of financial losses, as exemplified by the current legal spat between the lenders of Austria and the government and homeowners of Hungary. There is very little political room and virtually no financial ability for countries to take losses voluntarily.
However, there is one counterbalancing force in Europe that has not been discussed as much as the forces that threaten to break it. There is a massive amount of inertia built up in the European experiment, an enormous amount of attachment to costs already paid — the flip side of which is an abiding fear of dissolution. It is the fear that without economic integration, devastating warfare on the continent could again become conceivable. For some, it is the fear that a resurgent Russia may once again pose a threat. It is also the very real fear that dissolution would lead to economic irrelevance in a world where dynamic economies along the Pacific Rim increasingly call the shots.
It is this fear and inertia that could force Europe’s political and financial adjustment in the not-too-distant future. Europe has not yet faced an event on the scale of 9/11 or the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. It has not been violently confronted by the prospect of collapse. The same states that now bicker over cobbling together capital measuring in the tens of billions of euros would, in the face of such an event, suddenly find themselves in agreement on a much larger, more streamlined “bailout” package linked to central bank credit.
Averting financial collapse would not address the core differences of the various European states; underlying tensions would remain. And since there is every reason to think the bigger price tags involved would be accompanied by a proportionate loss of national sovereignty, the seeds of Europe’s next set of problems would be sown.
23753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: October 06, 2011, 08:09:41 AM
The Foundation
"The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men." --Alexander Hamilton
Government & Politics
Chicago-Style Government

The Era of Obama was supposed to be a time of Hope and Change, transparent and accountable government, and bipartisan song-singing -- indeed, as Obama himself put it, "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." Reality has been wholly different. A recession that, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, ended in June 2009 but has given way to crippling economic stagnation, with no end in sight. Promised transparency quickly gave way to unaccountable czars and closed-door dealings, and bipartisanship was cast aside for the Democrat partisan ramrodding of hard-left legislation through the chambers of Congress. We don't pretend to speak for the planet, but nothing much seems healed.
Amid that bleak picture, there are (at least) three administration scandals that continue to simmer, despite the fact that the Leftmedia and Obama Re-Election Outlets (but we repeat ourselves) have given them scant attention. First is the story of Solyndra's bankruptcy following a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the Obama Department of Energy (part of the 2009 "stimulus"). The hastily issued loan to the California-based solar cell producer was greater than the amount given to 35 states to complete their respective lists of "shovel-ready" infrastructure jobs. When even that wasn't enough, Solyndra sought another $469 million. "Green energy" sure does seem to require an awful lot of green.
Solyndra went bankrupt when its unworkable business model collapsed. Yet, consistent with leftist cronyism, certain creditors who happened to be Democrat donors were placed in front of the taxpayers in the line of recovery -- much as unions were placed in the front of the line for the GM and Chrysler bailouts. Lost in the cover-up are the 1,100 workers abruptly laid off in August who will have a tough time finding jobs, as California is already reeling from high unemployment and is hardly a climate conducive to economic recovery.
Former employees are beginning to tell all, too. "After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right," said former Solyndra engineer Lindsey Eastburn. "Because we were doing well, nobody cared. Because of that infusion of money, it made people sloppy." No wonder Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W.G. Stover Jr. have announced that they will invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when they testify before Congress today.
Second is the administration's widening venture socialism scandal involving wireless network company LightSquared, which is financed by billionaire Democrat donor Philip Falcone. Military, civilian and government experts are objecting to LightSquared's potential to interfere with the military's GPS network. Air Force Commander Gen. William Shelton blew the whistle last week, claiming that the White House pressured him to modify testimony before Congress to make it more favorable toward LightSquared. He didn't.
LightSquared executives insist that their proposed system's wavelength won't interfere with the adjacent wavelengths used by the military's GPS on the available broadcast spectrum. Despite industry-wide protests, however, LightSquared received fast-track approval for an FCC waiver granting them the right to construct a 4G wireless network for far less capital than the billions the government would extract from its competitors. To address the industry's concerns about GPS interference, LightSquared proposed that everyone else pay to retrofit their GPS devices instead of revising its network to avoid broadband spillover.
Prior to its current incarnation, LightSquared was known as Skyterra, and its ownership included major Obama backers going back to 2004. Obama sold his Skyterra stock in 2005. Along with so much in the president's background, the Leftmedia seem content to characterize such connections as coincidental.
Finally, and most serious, is the continuing cover-up of Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious. As our readers well know, this project of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has resulted in more than 2,000 American weapons illegally crossing into Mexico, not only under the nose of the ATF, but with its consent, fueling the raging drug war south of the border. Reports this week indicate that a third gun linked to Fast and Furious was recovered at the scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry's murder in December. Furthermore, according to Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee investigating this scandal, Fast and Furious guns were used in at least 200 murders in Mexico -- and that's a conservative estimate. The administration is in full rear-covering mode, and the Leftmedia have, predictably, remained virtually silent.
Is it too much to ask that the media start doing their jobs? It's high time the Chicago thugs in the White House are held accountable for their actions.
What can be done about the thugs in Washington?
Obama's Novel Debt Plan: Raise Taxes
On Monday, Barack Obama put forward his plan for the congressional debt-reduction super committee to consider. Not surprisingly, it's heavy on tax increases and light on actual debt reduction. To read the full story, don't miss Mark Alexander's essay, Taking Down Socialist 'Tax Fairness' Rhetoric.

News From the Swamp: Spending and Jobs
Late Thursday night, the House barely passed a short-term continuing resolution to authorize spending for FY2012. The vote was 219-203. Earlier in the week, Republican leaders were dealt a defeat by conservative members of their own caucus when a similar CR failed with 48 Tea Party conservatives opposed. Those 48 wanted to stick with the House's April spending deal, while the leadership was putting forward the August bipartisan agreement. Some two dozen Republicans were brought back into the fold with an amendment that included $100 million in cuts to the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, the Department of Energy program responsible for the Solyndra debacle.
In the Senate, Barack Obama's much touted jobs bill is lacking the support it needs to pass -- among Democrats. Reports are that Democrats Mark Begich (AK), Jim Webb (VA), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Barbara Mikulski (MD) outright oppose the bill, with some others not entirely decided yet. Administration officials met with several Democrats on the Hill this week to try to persuade them, but even if all Democrats are on board, the president's bill is in trouble.
Quote of the Week
"We're home alone. There's no adult in charge." --Larry Summers, former director of Obama's White House National Economic Council, as quoted in Confidence Men, Ron Suskind's newly released book about the Obama economic team
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
A number of federal agencies and departments are proudly making an effort to cut costs in these trying economic times by taking stock of their stationery and office equipment and buying in bulk. The plan adopted by the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury is expected to save $600 million over four years. Wow. We hate to criticize cost savings, but this amount won't even register on the chart compared to the government's multi-trillion-dollar debt. Sure, buying in bulk makes sense, but the trouble with government is that it took them so long to figure out basic business economics. Perhaps the whole thing is merely an offset for the new Washington Post report that, "In the past five years, the Office of Personnel Management has made more than $601 million in benefits payments to deceased federal annuitants."
New & Notable Legislation
The Senate Appropriations Committee has added a measure to the 2012 appropriations package that would provide for taxpayer-funded abortions in the District of Columbia. The House version maintains the abortion ban that has been in place since April, so now all eyes are on what deal may be hammered out. The National Right to Life Committee estimates that removing the Dornan Amendment, which prevents congressionally appropriated funds for abortion, would mean an additional 1,000 abortions a year in DC alone paid by taxpayers. The ban was originally in place from 1996-2009, but Barack Obama lifted it when he took office. Republicans reinstated it earlier this year after winning the House, but once again it's up for debate.

Hope 'n' Change: Finding Out What's in It
Add CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Support) to the growing list of Obama administration scandals. CLASS was ostensibly designed to be the long-term care component of ObamaCare. Its real purpose was to allow the administration to claim that the health care reform package was "deficit neutral." CLASS would collect premiums upwards of $75 billion during a 10-year period beginning in 2012, but those premiums would not go back to the citizens who paid them. Instead, they would be funneled into other parts of ObamaCare that are short on cash. When the bill for CLASS comes due in 2021, taxpayers will take a big hit to keep the "deficit neutral" ObamaCare afloat -- unless, of course, 2012 provides opportunity for repeal.
CLASS recently folded up shop, but a public airing of several internal emails regarding the program reveals that the White House knew all along that it was unsustainable, and that they had no way to fix it. A congressional investigation led by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) notes that, within the Department of Health and Human Services, "the program was repeatedly referred to as 'a recipe for disaster' with 'terminal problems.'" The only viable solution to fix CLASS would be for Congress to repeal it immediately. It doesn't work, it never worked, and it never will work.
From the Left: Staying in Touch With the Little Guy
Remember the flap about Nancy Reagan's red dress? Well, in hard-times America, the current First Lady showed up at a DNC fundraiser (the one for millionaires at $35,000 a plate) wearing jewelry including a Lotus cuff priced at $15,000 with 2.9 carats of diamonds, her Gothic cuff at $15,350 with 2.17 carats in diamonds, and the Quatrefoil bracelet at $11,800 with 1.73 carats in diamonds. Total value -- $42,150.
Let them eat cake. No coverage in the Leftmedia for our modern-day Marie Antoinette.
National Security
Palestinian Statehood Takes Center Stage
The muddled mess that is the Middle East continued to churn this week, threatening to splatter the rest of the world, via the United Nations, with its toxic ooze. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is pushing the UN Security Council to grant Palestinian statehood during the current General Assembly meeting. On Wednesday, however, Barack Obama tried to head off Abbas by giving yet another of his platitudinous speeches and declaring the painfully obvious: "Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now." Interestingly, it was this same Obama who, at last year's UN meeting, breezily said that he wanted a sovereign Palestinian state established by this year's UN meeting. So in the span of one year, a completely inept Obama managed to stab both the Israelis and the Palestinians in the back.
The Palestinians won't get their state just yet, as the U.S., even under Obama, cannot allow it. (That doesn't mean he doesn't support the idea.) However, reports are that the Security Council needs only two more votes for statehood from countries such as Bosnia (the Muslim country we created in the Clinton years), Gabon and Nigeria, which would force the U.S. to veto it. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced legislation to defund the UN if it votes to recognize a Palestinian state.
Ultimately, what the Palestinians want out of a UN vote isn't so much a state as much as another weapon in their arsenal to ultimately destroy Israel. "We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years," Abbas said this week. In other words, that "occupation," began with the creation of Israel in 1948, and it won't end until Israel is destroyed. So goes the Middle East "peace process."
What do you make of the Palestinians' efforts?
It Would Be a Comedy of Errors If It Weren't So Serious
This week, the Obama administration proved yet again that Hope 'n' Change is no substitute for wisdom and experience. After dragging out discussions for almost two full years on whether to provide new F-16 fighter-bombers to Taiwan, the White House decided instead to upgrade Taiwan's existing F-16s without providing new aircraft. In typical fashion, Obama managed to anger both Taiwan and China. Our largest foreign creditor is angry over any U.S. upgrades to Taiwan's military, while Taiwan is rightly angry that the United States caved in to communist pressure and stiffed a democratic ally. China was going to complain no matter what -- why not get our money's worth and provide new F-16s to a friendly democracy?
Meanwhile, in another transparently cynical move to placate the president's leftist base, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the administration remains committed to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The January 2010 deadline for doing so flew by without fanfare, so now they promise to close it by Election Day 2012. Holder at least had the courtesy to provide the obvious motivation -- the election. Obama's base has been increasingly disenchanted with his performance lately, and he obviously wants some highly visible leftist dream to come true just in time for the election. Congress will have a great deal to say about Guantanamo's final disposition, but for the White House even to float this idea -- and so explicitly tie it to the next election -- is dangerously amateurish.
Department of Military Correctness: Orientation Genie Out of the Closet
At the stroke of midnight Tuesday, the Pentagon laid out the welcome mat for homosexual members of the military and for those in civilian life to join. After an 18-year "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" interregnum during which homosexuals were allowed in the military as long as they stayed "in the closet," the long-standing ban on their serving openly in the United States military formally came to a close. Obviously this came as a relief to service members such as "J.D. Smith," who in real life is Air Force First Lieutenant Josh Seefried. He adopted the pseudonym last year when he founded OutServe, a heretofore underground network of homosexual service members that has grown to 4,300 members. It's estimated that there are around 65,000 such members of the military, a presumption likely drilled into the 2.3 million active-duty and reserve members around the world who sat through an hour-long sensitivity course on accepting homosexuals within their ranks earlier this year.
Critics saw the change as an attempt to "reshape social attitudes" and warned that the number of military personnel may drop further than the 14,346 members discharged over the years by running afoul of the old DADT rules. Those who had been so discharged will be eligible to rejoin but won't have any specific preference over others who want to re-enter the service, the Pentagon announced.
It isn't clear whether benefits given to the spouses and families of married service members will eventually be extended to same-sex partners. A proposal to allow Navy chaplains to conduct "marriage" ceremonies in states where civil unions are allowed was scrapped after lawmakers objected.

Business & Economy
Income Redistribution: Bonuses for GM Workers, the Shaft for Taxpayers
Last week General Motors and its UAW workforce reached a tentative four-year labor agreement, which is likely to be ratified overwhelmingly by the rank and file. As usual, the devil is in the details. Despite the fact that the automaker is still on the hook for billions of dollars to the federal government, which remains the owner of about one-quarter of GM's stock, the agreement includes a provision that UAW workers will receive a $5,000 "signing bonus" in lieu of a cost-of-living increase this year and maintain their health care and pensions. Newly hired workers will get a significant raise from their current $14 per hour to perhaps $17 per hour over the life of the contract. All workers will have "improved" profit sharing. In addition, the automaker will reopen the former Saturn assembly line in Spring Hill, Tennessee, which was idled in 2009.
Undoubtedly union leaders are thrilled about these concessions from the company, but they also knew whom to thank. As UAW Bob King noted, "None of this would have been possible without the efforts of President Obama, who invested federal funds to help turn the company around, protect the auto supplier base, and keep good-paying jobs in America." Unfortunately, those efforts have cost taxpayers roughly $15 billion that is yet to be repaid.

Regulatory Commissars: Don't Create Jobs
With all the talk of saving and creating jobs, we find it disturbing that someone has been punished for doing just that. Peter Schiff, president and CEO of EuroPacific Capital, committed the unpardonable offense of hiring more brokers than regulations allow. "In my own business, securities regulations have prohibited me from hiring brokers for more than three years," Schiff testified before Congress. "I was even fined $15,000 expressly for hiring too many brokers in 2008. In the process I incurred more than $500,000 in legal bills to mitigate a more severe regulatory outcome as a result of hiring too many workers. I have also been prohibited from opening up additional offices. I had a major expansion plan that would have resulted in my creating hundreds of additional jobs. Regulations have forced me to put those jobs on hold."
Furthermore, says Schiff, "[T]he added cost of security regulations [has] forced me to create an offshore brokerage firm to handle foreign accounts that are now too expensive to handle from the United States. Revenue and jobs that would have been created in the U.S. are now being created abroad instead." As National Review's Andrew McCarthy quipped, "He's in finance. I guess he should have tried solar panels."
In related news, the EPA's overzealous regulators will soon cost another 500 workers their jobs. Texas energy company Luminant will be forced to stop generating energy at two of its power plants and shutter three lignite mines, thanks to requirements within the EPA's recently mandated Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in 2012. In a statement, the company said that while it is "launching a significant investment program to reduce emissions across our facilities" it couldn't otherwise comply with the "unrealistic deadline" without eliminating the 500 jobs. Also, it has taken the step of suing the EPA to overturn the edicts.
Culture & Policy
Around the Nation: Ground Zero Mosque 'Opens'
In August 2010, we noted the controversy over the building of an Islamic cultural center (a.k.a. mosque) two blocks from Ground Zero. It was sometimes called The Cordoba Initiative, which was a thinly veiled religious reference to the long-ago Muslim conquest of the Christian city of Cordoba, Spain. Most commonly, however, the project is known by the more palatable -- and secular -- Park51.
On Wednesday, the project launched its first public exhibit featuring the work of New York City photographer Danny Goldfield. For the past seven years, Goldfield has been working on a collection of photographs of children from every country in the world who are living in New York City. The exhibit is a sorry attempt to soften the blow of the timing of the mosque's opening. Who could be opposed to children? Not only is it less than two weeks since the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but it also comes during a week of tense meetings between Barack Obama and Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Last year, in the midst of the heated debate, Obama felt it was his duty to impart his wisdom on the subject. What he said, of course, completely missed the point. Everyone knows that Park51 is legally viable, but that knowledge does little to assuage the hurt and rage of the thousands of people directly affected by 9/11, let alone the millions of Americans who were forever changed by that day. Against their protests, construction continued, but apparently the message didn't go completely ignored, considering the whitewash that is taking place now. "Looking forward to welcoming you to the NY Children's opening," Park51 tweeted, "We have a surprise guest to cut the ribbon. Make sure you're there!"
On Sept. 27, PBS will air the documentary "The Man Behind the Mosque" profiling developer Sharif El-Gamel. Last January, Park51 booted Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam best known for his statements that America brought the terrorists attacks upon itself. Despite the feel-good PR, this mosque is nothing more than a thumb in the eye from the very extremists who want to punish the "Great Satan."
Village Academic Curriculum: No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Reading, writing, 'rithmetic and recipes? Since the launch of the federal school lunch program in 1946, the government has required schools to provide low-cost or free lunches to qualifying students. Now, under the new child nutrition law signed by Barack Obama late last year, the feds are mandating that schools make these meals more nutritious. In other words, not only are Washington bureaucrats subsidizing school lunches, they're also packing them. And that's not all. For the first time, the government is now inserting itself into the pricing process, and, as happens when Washington steps in, costs are going up. As The New York Times notes, under the law "school districts are required to start bringing their prices in line with what it costs to prepare the meals, eventually charging an average of $2.46 for the lunches they serve." Although the law says that price increases should be capped at 10 cents per year, some school districts have raised prices by as much as a quarter.
Districts across the country are preparing for backlash against the price hikes, but it's Washington bureaucrats who really should be taken to task for assuming "food service" is found anywhere in the Constitution. They say it's bad having two cooks in the kitchen. It's downright scary, though, when one of them is Barack Obama.
In related news, the administration will soon detail plans to revamp No Child Left Behind through waivers, not through Congress. Specifically, the White House wants to waive the requirement that students be proficient in math and reading by 2014 or risk sanctions.
Faith and Family: City Orders Halt to Home Bible Study
The city of San Juan Capistrano, California, was founded as a mission in the late 1700s. Now, more than 200 years later, a couple in that city is facing fines for holding weekly Bible studies in their home. CBS Los Angeles reports, "Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm ... were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called 'a regular gathering of more than three people.'" They could face another $500 fine for every additional gathering. According to Section 9-3.301 of the city code, "religious, fraternal, or service organizations (non-profit)" cannot meet in residential areas without obtaining a conditional use permit. We question, however, whether the city would have enforced this ordinance against a similarly sized "fraternal" gathering.
The Fromms appealed the fine to the city but were denied, and now the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is taking the ruling to the California Superior Court. PJI President Brad Dacus noted, "An informal gathering in a home cannot be treated with suspicion by the government, or worse than any other gathering of friends, just because it is religious. We cannot allow this to happen in America, and we will fight as long and as hard as it takes to restore this group's religious freedom." If the court has any understanding of our nation's foundation of religious liberty, it will agree.
Share your thoughts on this banned Bible study
Catholic Archbishop Writes in Support of Marriage
Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York sent a letter to Barack Obama this week to seek an end to the administration's campaign against traditional marriage and religious liberty. Dolan specifically sited the Obama Justice Department, which claims that supporters of the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by Bill Clinton, are motivated by "prejudice and bias." Such language presents a threat to religious liberty. "The institution of marriage is built on this truth," Dolan wrote, "no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality." Dolan further warned, "The Administration's failure to change course on this matter will ... precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions." When has "conflict ... to the detriment" of anything stopped Obama before?
And Last...

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) was censured by the House (333-79) just nine months ago for several ethics violations, including tax evasion. Yet Thursday, Rangel hosted a ceremony to unveil his official portrait in the Longworth House Office Building. The list of speakers at the ceremony included Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), as well as New York Democrat senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer. After getting an "OK" from the FEC, Rangel paid for the $65,000 portrait using campaign cash.
Truly, this is beyond words. These people really do live in a parallel universe -- one in which, as Pelosi once put it, they "drain the swamp" apparently by hanging portraits of swamp creatures. What next? Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize? Oh, wait...
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
23754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Two from Jefferson on General Welfare clause, others on: October 06, 2011, 07:58:05 AM
"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1792

"It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please. Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. [The Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." --Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on a National Bank, 1791

"Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations." --George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

"[E]ven our Commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of Commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with Powers so disposed; in order to give trade a stable course." --George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

"War is not the best engine for us to resort to; nature has given us one in our commerce, which if properly managed, will be a better instrument for obliging the interested nations of Europe to treat us with justice." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Pickney, 1797

"It is very imprudent to deprive America of any of her privileges. If her commerce and friendship are of any importance to you, they are to be had on no other terms than leaving her in the full enjoyment of her rights." --Benjamin Franklin, Political Observations

"If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, & talk by the hour? That 150 lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected." --Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821

"On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?" --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, Query 12, 1782
23755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cain interview with Glenn Beck on: October 05, 2011, 11:25:58 PM
23756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rumbo on Al Jazeera on: October 05, 2011, 06:36:20 PM

Very weak by Rumbo IMHO.

There WERE in house objections to the sufficiency of Rumbo's troop numbers-- General Shikaleli (sp?) who was Ch. of Joint Chief of Staff and it is more than a little disingenuous of Rumbo to say otherwise.
23757  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: October 05, 2011, 10:38:42 AM
This sort of exchange is NOT what we aspire to on this forum  angry
23758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IBD: Prosecute Holder! on: October 05, 2011, 10:31:29 AM

"Somewhere, Scooter Libby must be scratching his head. He was indicted and convicted simply because his recall of when a meeting occurred differed from others. He didn't lie about a gun-running operation that led to the deaths of two American agents and at least 200 Mexicans. But Attorney General Eric Holder did, according to memos obtained by CBS News and Fox News. They show Holder lied to Congress on May 2, 2011, when he was asked about when he knew about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Fast and Furious gun-running operation. He told House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa he was 'not sure of the exact date, but I probably learned about Fast and Furious over the last few weeks.' Holder learned of the operation as early as July 2010 in a memo from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center informing him of an operation run by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force out of the Phoenix ATF office, under which 'straw purchasers are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug cartels.' ... Holder, quite simply, has lied to Congress, although the defense now being offered is he didn't understand Issa's question, doesn't read all the memos sent to him or was otherwise out of the loop. It is perhaps the first time incompetence has been offered as a defense to possible charges of criminality. ... As Issa told radio talk show host Laura Ingraham last month: 'We have a paper trail of so many people knowing that the only way the attorney general didn't know is he made sure he didn't want to know. ... But if you don't want to know something of this sort, then you shouldn't have the job he has.' We'd go a step further. Baseball star Roger Clemens was equally vehement when he told a House committee in 2008: 'Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids or HGH.' Clemens was indicted for lying to Congress. The same should go for Eric Holder." --Investor's Business Daily
23759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt: Baraq gets one right on: October 05, 2011, 10:19:33 AM
Obama gets one right
by Newt Gingrich
The ACLU is aghast. Liberal bloggers are proclaiming the end of the Bill of Rights. Even some on the right have joined in the hand-wringing.
The source of their angst? News last Friday that one of Al Qaeda's most senior leaders, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a U.S. drone attack on his convoy in the Yemeni desert.
Awlaki was, as the President described him, "the leader of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula." Nigel Inkster, Former Deputy Head of MI-6, called him the “ideologue of Al Qaeda.” Planning new ways to kill masses of American civilians was part of his job description, and by all indications he embraced the task eagerly. Awlaki was a senior recruiter of suicide bombers, and was linked to terror plots dating back to 9/11, when he apparently served as a "spiritual advisor" to several of the hijackers. He advised Nadal Malik Hasan, who is charged as the Fort Hood Shooter. He helped train Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the stymied Christmas Day underwear bomber. And he inspired the Times Square car bomber, too. The guy was our enemy.
But since the administration successfully tracked and eliminated one of the world's most dangerous terrorists, the ACLU and others are criticizing the President because Awlaki remained an American citizen. They claim the administration denied Awlaki "due process of law" by not trying him in an American court.

Never mind the fact that such a trial was not an option, with Awlaki roaming free in Yemen, helping to sow chaos there and spreading terror in the U.S. and Europe. (As Andrew McCarthy recently pointed out, "the authorization to assassinate Awlaki did not mean the administration would have him killed if it encountered him coming off a plane in Chicago.") Apparently having heard little about Yemen these days, the ACLU asserts that he was "far from any battlefield" there, and says he was "executed…without judicial process."
On this issue, the president's critics are dangerously mistaken. Congress gave the president the authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force” force against Al Qaeda in 2001. Anyone engaged in war against the United States, whether an American citizen or not, is subject to the use of force by the U.S.  As John Yoo put it this week, "American citizens who join the enemy do not enjoy a roving legal force-field that immunizes them from military reprisal."
President Obama was entirely within his rights to take action against a top-ranking member of a group that has declared war on the U.S., and who was actively seeking to launch new attacks against this country.
President Obama's legal advisors unanimously agreed.
In addition to eliminating an important figure in the Al Qaeda leadership, Awlaki's killing might be good news in one other regard. I hope it represents a concession by the Obama administration that the view the Left has championed for years—that terrorism is just a "law enforcement" issue—is fundamentally wrong.
This is a war. Now at least one of the administration's legal opinions admits that fact.
In our documentary America at Risk: The War With No Name, Callista and I discussed the refusal of the Left to speak honestly about the enemy we are at war with. Our number one example in that movie was Major Hasan, the Fort Hood Shooter inspired by Alwaki. The section on Alwaki below shows exactly why we must consider this a war:
The ACLU and others accusing the President are in complete denial about the nature of the threat we face. American citizenship cannot be used as protection with which to wage war against America.
President Obama can wear this charge, at least, as a real "badge of honor."
Your Friend,
23760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 05, 2011, 08:57:24 AM
My guess is that there will be tremendous capital flight to here-- which may have some short term positive effects  , , , or not.  I know nothing!  cheesy
23761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wanna make some money? on: October 05, 2011, 08:55:20 AM
In this Above the Tearline we’re going to discuss the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program and the Libyan bomber of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The Rewards for Justice program is a very effective counterterrorism tool used to pay for information that leads to the capture of international terrorists, but more importantly helps prevent terrorist attacks from occurring. In 1988 after the bombing of Pan Am 103, the Rewards for Justice program announced a reward offer for those responsible for the bombing of the aircraft. There was a Libyan intelligence officer by the name of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi that was identified as being responsible for the bombing of Pan Am 103. Al-Megrahi was subsequently arrested and served many years in a Scottish prison.
However, a deal was cut between the U.K. authorities and the Scottish authorities to allow al-Megrahi to return to Libya because he was allegedly suffering from cancer. Al-Megrahi is living in Libya and appears to not be protected by the Libyan government anymore since the collapse of the Gadhafi regime. He has recently given very high-profile international interviews where he’s professed that he is innocent of some of the charges surrounding the Pan Am 103 bombing. There is no doubt based on my first-hand knowledge of his involvement in the bombing of Pan Am 103 that he was clearly engaged in the act of terrorism.
The Above the Tearline aspect with this video is the politics of counterterrorism investigations — how backroom deals with governments can allow a terrorist to just go free. In this case, al-Megrahi is very vulnerable, he’s unprotected, and it’s my understanding that he is covered under the broad brush of the Rewards for Justice program, and yet his picture is not specifically displayed on their website. There’s no doubt some politics involved with him not being there. Having said that, I think that money is a powerful motivator and that if al-Megrahi is wanted by the U.S. government, that enterprising individuals might take the opportunity to pick him up and claim their reward.
23762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 05, 2011, 08:44:32 AM
The situation in Europe is having great effect on the markets here.  I suggest taking a look at my two most recent posts in the Europe thread.
23763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / You ain't seen nothing yet! Europe entering danger zone on: October 05, 2011, 08:43:19 AM
Europe Entering the Danger Zone
The  European financial crisis is consuming all available attention in Europe and quite a bit beyond Europe as well. Its causes are many, but can be summed up as a massive overcrediting of states, banks and corporations that now must be dealt with. STRATFOR has outlined the path we see the Europeans following in order to find a way out of the crisis. Key to this effort is the eurozone bailout mechanism — the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) — which upon full ratification will have the legal powers to address many of Europe’s financial woes. The only real obstacle remaining to the expansion of the EFSF’s powers is the approval of Slovakia, and after another drama-filled week we expect Bratislava to give its assent.
It was widely believed that after Slovakia approved the EFSF reforms, things in Europe would quiet down somewhat. Though the EFSF would still not be large enough to handle the full scope of problems, the facility’s upgrading would have bought the Europeans some time to figure out how to expand the EFSF to a larger, more capable force.
However, two developments on Tuesday raise the possibility — even likelihood — that Europe’s financial woes are about to worsen severely.
The first development is a decision by Moody’s Investor Service credit ratings agency to downgrade Italian government debt by three notches to A2 with a negative outlook. The cost to Italy of borrowing from international markets is about to go up dramatically. It’s hard to recall another time a state that wasn’t on the final verge of default or receivership faced a triple downgrade.
” Two developments on Tuesday raise the possibility — even likelihood — that Europe’s financial woes are about to worsen severely.”
Not that Italy isn’t deserving. The foibles of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi long ago degenerated from entertaining to debilitating. He’s gutted his government and coalition of competent individuals for fear they may seek to displace him. The only remaining technocrat in the government’s upper echelons, Economy and Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, is now regularly used as Berlusconi’s scapegoat for the government’s meek efforts at budgetary control. The southern two-thirds of Italy has always been a massive drain on state coffers, and at 120 percent of gross domestic product, the state debt is the highest in the eurozone outside of Greece.
The second development is the sudden deterioration of Dexia, a major Franco-Belgian bank, which has cast the other side of the European debt crisis into stark relief. The overcrediting of Europe was not limited to governments. Between the sudden cheapening and glut of credit in the 2000s and a massive consumption boom, most of Europe’s banks are massively overextended and undercapitalized. Imagine the U.S. subprime disaster, but not limited to any particular region or subsector. That’s the scale of the problem Europe’s banking sector faces. After weeks of formal denials out of governments and the EU Commission, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier finally broke with the party line today describing the  rapidly worsening status of Europe’s banks as “a fact of life.”
But even among European banks, Dexia stands out as one of the worst. Dexia holds roughly 520 billion euros in assets but has only 8.8 billion euros in equity, making for a leverage ratio of approximately 60:1. A healthy ratio would be 10:1. For comparison, when the American firm Lehman Brothers went bust in 2008 its ratio was 31:1. This isn’t only a bank that has failed, it has now failed twice. It crashed the first time back in 2008, when a 6.4 billion-euro bailout allowed it to linger on to the present day (what’s left of that 6.4 billion euro is included in the 8.8 billion figure of available equity). As a consequence of that bailout, Dexia became majority state-owned (23.3 percent by various French government interests, and 30.5 percent Belgian government interests).
Belgian and French authorities now appear set to break Dexia apart, loading its bad assets into a separate facility which will likely leech off of taxpayer money until they can be formally disposed off. The problem is that there isn’t much Belgian taxpayer money to be brought to bear. After all, Dexia has long served as a primary supplier of capital to Belgium’s national and regional governments. Very conservatively, Dexia is going to be absorbing 10 billion euros in government resources, and that’s assuming there are no problems with the 20 billion euros in Greek, Portuguese and Italian government bonds that the bank holds.
Belgium, like Italy, is getting deeper in debt and finding it increasingly difficult to tap international capital markets — particularly in the sort of big chunks that would be required to wind down Dexia. And while Italy’s governing leadership can be charitably described as eccentric, Belgium’s is quitting: the country has been without a government for 480 days and in September, acting Prime Minister Yves Leterme announced he’d soon be leaving his job.
The Europeans now face three challenges. First, while the EFSF is nearly ready to enter into reinvigorated force, it is not nearly large enough to handle an Italian bailout. That would require — at minimum — 700 billion euros.
Second, while the new and improved EFSF is designed to handle bank bailouts as well, and it probably can handle Dexia, the bank is the proverbial canary in a coal mine. There are many more banks like Dexia, some several times as large, and bailing them out will cost vastly more than the EFSF’s functional ceiling of 440 billion euros would cover.
Third, as the Dexia-Belgium crossover vividly underscores, Europe’s sovereign debt and banking crises are formally interlinked: a broke government cannot recapitalize damaged banks while damaged banks cannot help finance a broke government. Should one side stumble, the result is a near-immediate cascade of failures on the other. And all of this assumes that Greece, which has heretofore served as the crisis’ epicenter, doesn’t throw any more unexpected problems Europe’s way.
23764  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Dollar, Yuan, trade war? on: October 04, 2011, 11:42:20 PM
A different POV from the WSJ:

The world has done surprisingly well since the Great Recession began at not making things worse with trade protectionism. But that may soon change thanks to the U.S. Senate, which is expected to vote as early as this week on the most dangerous trade legislation in many years, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act. This is when an American President would normally step in and defend the U.S. and world economies, but Barack Obama is bobbing and weaving for his own narrow political ends. This is risky business.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham have pushed since 2005 to impose punitive tariffs on China if the value of the yuan doesn't rise faster. The legislation is now coming to the floor because Senate Democrats want protectionist political cover against unions in return for voting on the free-trade pacts with Colombia, Panama and Korea that President Obama finally sent to Congress yesterday. But what is cynical posturing in Washington may look more threatening to the rest of the world, and once trade wars start they can be hard to stop.

Enlarge Image

CloseAssociated Press
The senators speak during a news conference on Sept. 22, to discuss unfair currency manipulation.
.Unlike America's last great trade blunder, the Tariff Act of 1930 (aka Smoot-Hawley), the China bill wouldn't raise tariffs across the board, but would instead allow companies to seek countervailing duties by treating a "misaligned" currency as a subsidy. This would nonetheless open the floodgates to applications from American companies, and the resulting tariffs would violate World Trade Organization rules. China would undoubtedly retaliate, meaning companies and consumers in both countries would lose.

If other countries follow suit, there would be knock-on effects throughout the global economy. As the erstwhile leader of the world's trading system as well as one of its main beneficiaries, the U.S. bears a special responsibility to avoid this outcome.

One reason we are so close to this ledge is that Washington has not led on global and regional liberalization. Free trade is like a bicycle, which needs to be pedaled forward or it tips over. When a President is AWOL on trade as Mr. Obama has been, U.S. politicians succumb to populist temptations. Instead of concentrating on domestic reforms to restore growth, Congressmen tell Americans that their lost prosperity was taken by China rather than by poor policy decisions. So now the U.S. will punish the biggest developing nation, and one of America's main goods suppliers, for its economic success.

The last six years are proof that revaluing the yuan is not the key to reducing China's large and persistent trade surplus with the world. The yuan has appreciated by almost 30% since the middle of 2005, when Mr. Schumer was pushing for a 25% revaluation. But the Chinese surplus has mostly grown and occasionally shrunk during this period in response to other forces.

This is a repeat of the 1980s, when Congress was bashing Japan for keeping the yen low and running large surpluses. As the yen rose from 360 to the dollar to 80 over 25 years, the surplus persisted and continues today, though it has shrunk in relative terms since the bursting of Japan's bubble.

The U.S. can do more to help Beijing avoid Japan's bubble and bust by urging it to reform the financial system that has favored exports. There are already signs that China's state-directed credit explosion of 2009 is leading to an increase in nonperforming bank loans, as well as state firms and local governments in need of bailouts. Wages are also rising, making some Chinese exports less competitive.

Related Video
 Mary O'Grady on the status of the South Korea, Panama, and Colombia free trade agreements.
..As China comes under economic and political strain, it's worth remembering that a major benefit of free trade is its stabilizing effect on rising powers like China. In 1930, Smoot-Hawley and the retaliation it spurred contributed to a collapse of world trade and deepened the global depression. So too did a series of competitive currency devaluations, another tool of trade war. The global economic collapse gave Japan and Germany a push toward fascism. Once trade with the developed world was closed off, ambitious Japanese officers took the initiative to expand the empire to secure markets and raw materials.

Trade brinksmanship is always dangerous, but especially when the world economic recovery is beset by so many other problems. Yet the U.S. political system is now slouching toward protectionism less by design than by a general abdication of leadership.

Democrats want to appease labor to hold the Senate next year. The White House wants to appease Senate Democrats and labor, so it has failed to speak against the tariff bill. White House spokesman Jay Carney says only that it is "reviewing" the legislation and that "we share the goal."

Senate Republicans aren't about to stand in the way, especially when their Presidential front-runner, the supposedly business savvy Mitt Romney, is also calling for unilateral trade duties against China to give his candidacy a populist edge. John Boehner's House Republicans may be the last obstacle to such a destructive bill passing.

In "The World in Depression, 1929-1939," the economic historian Charles Kindleberger wrote that one great contributor to depression was the failure of leadership, especially by the U.S. and Britain. Neither of the two leading economies were willing to maintain an open market for the world's goods in a period of distress.

"When every country turned to protect its national private interest, the world public interest went down the drain, and with it the private interests of all," Kindleberger wrote. Where's a U.S. President when you really need him?

23765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: October 04, 2011, 11:37:30 PM
That is the pink elephant in the room most are afraid to say out loud.  If true, tis truly heinious what they have done.   Lets continue this on the Gun thread.
23766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: October 04, 2011, 08:21:54 PM
The Obama health-care plan passed 18 months ago, and its cynicism still manages to astonish. Witness the spectacle surrounding one of its flagship new entitlements, which is eliciting some remarkable concessions from its drafters.

The Health and Human Services Department recently shut down a government insurance program for long-term care, known by the acronym Class. HHS also released a statement claiming that reports that HHS is shutting down Class are "not accurate." All HHS did was suspend Class policy planning, told Senate Democrats to zero out Class funding for 2012, reassigned Class's career staffers to other projects and pink-slipped the program's chief actuary. Other than that, it's full-speed ahead.

HHS is denying what everyone knows to be true because everyone also knows that the Class entitlement was not merely created to crowd out private insurance for home health aides and the like. Class was added to the bill because it was among the budget gimmicks that Democrats needed to create the illusion that trillions of dollars of new spending would somehow reduce the deficit.

Benefits in the Class program, which was supposed to start up next year, are rigged by an unusual five-year vesting period. So the people who sign up begin paying premiums immediately—money that Democrats planned to spend immediately on other things, as if the back-loaded payments to Class beneficiaries would never come due. The $86 billion or so that would have built up between 2012 and 2021 with the five-year lead is supposed to help finance the rest of ObamaCare. The Class program would go broke sometime in the next decade, but that would be somebody else's problem.

 .Opponents warned about this during the reform debate, and people on HHS's lower rungs were telling their political superiors the same thing as early as mid-2009, according to emails that a joint House-Senate Republican investigation uncovered.

In one 2009 note, chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster—a martyr to fiscal honesty in the health-care debate—wrote that "Thirty-six years of actuarial experience lead me to believe that this program would collapse in short order and require significant Federal subsidies to continue." He suggested that Class would end in an "insurance death spiral" because the coverage would only be attractive to sicker people who will need costly services. It could only be solvent if 230 million Americans enrolled, which is more than the current U.S. workforce.

An HHS Office of Health Reform official, Meena Seshamani, rejected Mr. Foster's critique because "per CBO it is actuarially sound." But of course CBO only scores what is presented to it, no matter how unrealistic. Despite this false reassurance, later even one HHS political appointee took up Mr. Foster's alarms, writing that Class "seems like a recipe for disaster to me."

In February of this year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finally admitted the obvious, testifying at a Congressional hearing that, gee whiz, Class is "totally unsustainable" as written. By then Class had become a political target of vulnerable Senate Democrats looking to shore up their fiscal bona fides, despite voting for it when they voted for ObamaCare.

Bowing to this political need, Mrs. Sebelius has repeatedly promised to use her administrative discretion to massage Class's finances until it is solvent. But given that the office doing that work has now been disbanded, this evidently proved impossible, as the critics claimed all along.

All of this would seem to make repealing Class an easy vote for Congress, but, this being Washington, it isn't. Since the CBO says Class's front-loaded collections cut the deficit to the tune of that $86 billion, HHS has to pretend that the program is still alive to preserve these phantom savings.

Some Republicans are also nervous about repealing Class because, under CBO's perverse scoring, they'll be adding $86 billion to the deficit. Others would prefer not to repeal any of ObamaCare until they repeal all of it, on grounds that some of it might survive if the worst parts go first.

So an unaffordable entitlement that will be a perpetual drain on taxpayers may continue to exist because of a make-believe budget gimmick that everyone now admits is bogus. Congress can't reduce real future liabilities because it would mean reducing fake current savings.

This is literally insane. It's rare to get a political opening to dismantle any entitlement, much less one as large as Class. House Republicans ought to vote to repeal it as soon as possible as an act of fiscal hygiene, forcing Senate Democrats to vote on it and President Obama to confront (even if he won't acknowledge) the fraud he signed into law.

23767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Contempt on: October 04, 2011, 08:18:10 PM

Nixon was tricky. Ford was clumsy. Carter was dour. Reagan was sunny. Bush 41 was prudent. Clinton felt your pain. Bush 43 was stubborn. And Barack Obama is . . .

Early in America's acquaintance with the man who would become the 44th president, the word that typically sprang from media lips to describe him was "cool."

Cool as a matter of fashion sense—"Who does he think he is, George Clooney?" burbled the blogger Wonkette in April 2008. Cool as a matter of political temperament—"Maybe after eight years of George W. Bush stubbornness, on the heels of eight years of Clinton emotiveness, we need to send out for ice," approved USA Today's Ruben Navarrette that October. Cool as a matter of upbringing—Indonesia, apparently, is "where Barack learned to be cool," according to a family friend quoted in a biography of his mother.

The Obama cool made for a reassuring contrast with his campaign's warm-and-fuzzy appeals to hope, change and being the ones we've been waiting for. But as the American writer Minna Antrim observed long ago, "between flattery and admiration there often flows a river of contempt." When it comes to Mr. Obama, boy does it ever.

We caught flashes of the contempt during the campaign. There were those small-town Midwesterners who, as he put it at a San Francisco fund-raiser, "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who are not like them." There were those racist Republicans who, as he put it at a Jacksonville fund-raiser, would campaign against him by asking, "Did I mention he's black?" There was the "you're likable enough, Hillary," line during a New Hampshire debate. But these were unscripted digressions and could be written off as such.

Enlarge Image

 .Only after Mr. Obama came to office did it start to become clear that contempt would be both a style and method of his governance. Take the "mess we have inherited" line, which became the administration's ring tone for its first two years.

"I have never seen anything like the mess we have inherited," said the late Richard Holbrooke—a man with memories of what Nixon inherited in Vietnam from Johnson—about Afghanistan in February 2009. "We are cleaning up something that is—quite simply—a mess," said the president the following month about Guantanamo. "Let's face it, we inherited a mess," said Valerie Jarrett about the economy in March 2010.

For presidential candidates to rail against incumbents from an opposing party is normal; for a president to rail for years against a predecessor of any party is crass—and something to which neither Reagan nor Lincoln, each of them inheritors of much bigger messes, stooped.

Then again, the contempt Mr. Obama felt for the Bush administration was merely of a piece with the broader ambit of his disdain. Examples? Here's a quick list:

The gratuitous return of the Churchill bust to Britain. The slam of the Boston police officer who arrested Henry Louis Gates. The high-profile rebuke of the members of the Supreme Court at his 2010 State of the Union speech. The diplomatic snubs, petty as well as serious, of Gordon Brown, Benjamin Netanyahu and Nicolas Sarkozy. The verbal assaults on Wall Street "fat cats" who "caused the problem" of "10% unemployment." The never-ending baiting of millionaires and billionaires and jet owners and everyone else who, as Black Entertainment Television's Robert Johnson memorably put it on Sunday, "tried rich and tried poor and like rich better."

Now we come to the last few days, in which Mr. Obama first admonished the Congressional Black Caucus to "stop complainin', stop grumblin', stop cryin'," and later told a Florida TV station that America was losing its competitive edge because it "had gotten a little soft." The first comment earned a rebuke from none other than Rep. Maxine Waters, while the second elicited instant comparisons to Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech. They tell us something about the president's political IQ. They tell us more about his world view.

What is it that Mr. Obama doesn't like about the United States—a country that sent him hurtling like an American Idol contestant from the obscurity of an Illinois Senate seat to the presidency in a mere four years?

I suspect it's the same thing that so many run-of-the-mill liberals dislike: Americans typically believe that happiness is an individual pursuit; we bridle at other people setting limits on what's "enough"; we enjoy wealth and want to keep as much of it as we can; we don't like trading in our own freedom for someone else's idea of virtue, much less a fabricated concept of the collective good.

When a good history of anti-Americanism is someday written, it will note that it's mainly a story of disenchantment—of the obdurate and sometimes vulgar reality of the country falling short of the lover's ideal. Listening to Mr. Obama, especially now as the country turns against him, one senses in him a similar disenchantment: America is lovable exactly in proportion to the love it gives him in return.

Hence his increasingly ill-concealed expressions of contempt. Hence the increasingly widespread counter-contempt.

23768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Al Shabaad claims bombing credit on: October 04, 2011, 08:15:24 PM

In the Somali capital of Mogadishu today a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device, or VBIED, detonated in Mogadishu killing upwards of 100 bystanders. The Somali jihadist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for that VBIED.
The VBIED in Mogadishu detonated inside a government compound and the bystanders that became casualties of that attack were waiting in line to apply for university scholarships abroad. Now, that al Shabaab claimed responsibility for this attack is interesting. In August al Shabaab had to withdraw its forces from Mogadishu and the loose alliance that comprised al Shabaab withdrew to their respective home areas or strongholds.
Now in the case of the transnationalist faction of al Shabaab led by a couple of individuals — on the one hand there’s al-Afghani; on the other hand there’s Godane Abu Zubayr — they pulled their insurgent forces back to the southern city of Kismayo, but a withdraw of insurgent forces from Mogadishu does not mean the defeat of al Shabaab or does not mean that al Shabaab cannot carry out attacks in Mogadishu.
Mogadishu is a very large and spread out city — its resident population is estimated at 2 million — and it’s a very chaotic city under little control of the security forces present there. There are about 9,000 African Union peacekeepers and a few thousand Somali government soldiers in Mogadishu, but these approximately 12,000 forces cannot effectively patrol, let alone secure, Mogadishu.
Now al Shabaab. Within this loose alliance, there are elements that are fighting for nationalist agenda aims, fighting for turf in Somalia, fighting for political recognition or political patronage. There are other internationalist elements of al Shabaab — the Godane faction, the al-Afghani faction — that want to create in Somalia an extension of the broader al Qaeda area of operation. And these jihadist elements of al Shabaab interact and cooperate with al Qaeda elements found elsewhere.
The al Shabaab transnationalist faction still has the full capability of using small unit tactics to carry out terrorist operations in Mogadishu, and they have stated this full intent to do so, espousing jihadist rhetoric despite the pullback from Mogadishu, that they will continue their fight against the Somali government. And so we should expect full well that this faction of al Shabaab will continue terrorist tactics in Mogadishu and elsewhere in southern Somalia to demonstrate their livelihood and their intent to remain a vanguard Somali jihadist group.
23769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The heat is on heh heh heh on: October 04, 2011, 02:56:52 PM
Third post of day

EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans are calling for a special counsel to determine whether Attorney General Eric Holder perjured himself during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Operation Fast and Furious, Fox News has learned.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, was sending a letter to President Obama on Tuesday arguing that Holder cannot investigate himself, and requesting the president instruct the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel.
The question is whether Holder committed perjury during a Judiciary Committee hearing on May 3. At the time, Holder indicated he was not familiar with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program known as Fast and Furious until about April 2011.

"I'm not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks," Holder testified.
However, a newly discovered memo dated July 2010 shows Michael Walther, director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, told Holder that straw buyers in the Fast and Furious operation "are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to the Mexican drug trafficking cartels."
Other documents also indicate that Holder began receiving weekly briefings on the program from the National Drug Intelligence Center "beginning, at the latest, on July 5, 2010," Smith wrote.

"These updates mentioned, not only the name of the operation, but also specific details about guns being trafficked to Mexico," Smith wrote in the letter to Obama.

"Allegations that senior Justice Department officials may have intentionally misled members of Congress are extremely troubling and must be addressed by an independent and objective special counsel. I urge you to appoint a special counsel who will investigate these allegations as soon as possible," Smith wrote.
In response to the release of the memos, a Justice Department official said that the attorney general "has consistently said he became aware of the questionable tactics in early 2011 when ATF agents first raised them publicly, and then promptly asked the (inspector general) to investigate the matter."
The official added that in March 2011, Holder testified to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee of that development, and regularly receives hundreds of pages, none of which contained information on potential problems with Fast and Furious.

"The weekly reports (100 + pages) are provided to the office of the AG and (deputy attorney general) each week from approximately 24 offices and components. These are routine reports that provide general overviews and status updates on issues, policies, cases and investigations from offices and components across the country. None of these reports referenced the controversial tactics of that allowed guns to cross the border," the official said.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., "of all people, should be familiar with the difference between knowing about an investigation and being aware of questionable tactics employed in that investigation since documents provided to his committee show he was given a briefing that included the fast and furious operation in 2010 – a year before the controversy emerged," the official continued.

Issa told Fox News on Tuesday morning that Holder saying he didn't understand the question rather than he didn't know of the program is not a successful defense to perjury.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that months before Holder testified -- on Jan. 31 -- he came to Grassley's office, where Grassley gave him a letter detailing the investigation of Fast and Furious.

"If he read my letter, he knew on January 31," Grassley told Fox News. "He probably actually knew about it way back in the middle of last year or earlier.
Grassley said since he's not a lawyer he's not going to make a judgment on whether Holder committed perjury.

"But I can tell you this. They're doing everything they can, in a fast and furious way, to cover up all the evidence or stonewalling us. But here's the issue, if he didn't perjure himself and didn't know about it, the best way that they can help us, Congressman Issa and me, is to just issue all the documents that we ask for and those documents will prove one way or the other right or wrong."

FILE: Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill May 3 before a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.
23770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yuan on: October 04, 2011, 02:52:41 PM
Also see entries in today's China-US thread:


Section: General News - A renewed dispute is looming between Beijing and Washington about the competitive advantages in global trade that China enjoys thanks to its government's rigid control and valuation of its currency, the yuan, also known as the Renminbi [RMB].

In Washington, the U.S. Senate is threatening to legislate trade sanctions against China because of the issue.

By fixing its exchange rate for the yuan below the market value, Beijing keeps its exports cheaper for foreign consumers, providing Chinese manufacturers with a considerable competitive advantage in global trade.

The Economic Policy Institute in the United States reported last week that, since 2001, China's use of exchange rate controls has contributed to the loss of nearly 3 million American jobs.

Sense of entitlement

Arthur Kroeber is managing director of GK Dragonomics. He argues that China sees its undervalued currency and trade surplus as a right - and a key part of its national economic development.

There is no other demonstrated way to become a rich and powerful country other than, at your early stage, to promote exports. One of the tools to promote exports is to run an undervalued exchange rate," said Kroeber. "The Chinese take the view that, 'Everyone else who has gotten rich has used the same technique... we want to get rich; we have the same rights as everyone else.'

Because Beijing's economy depends heavily on exports, Janet de Silva, the dean of the Ivey Business School in Hong Kong, said it is difficult to predict how Beijing might liberalize currency.

If China were to move to full convertibility, the RMB would appreciate greatly, perhaps as much as 20 percent against the U.S. dollar, making Chinese exports less viable, said de Silva.

To level the playing field between U.S. and Chinese manufacturers, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this week that work will soon begin on a bipartisan bill that would make it easier for China to be labeled a currency manipulator and for trade sanctions to be imposed on Chinese goods.

Pros, cons of trade sanctions

Although many U.S. business groups oppose such legislation for fear of sparking a full-blown trade war with China, Diana Choyleva, of Lombard Street Research, understands the rationale for the bill.

Unfortunately, in the short-term, the U.S. faces a sharp downturn. So, in an election year... protectionist voices are on the rise again. You can imagine; the easiest entity to blame would be the foreigner. And, in this case the U.S. would be right, said Choyleva.

China disagrees that its exchange rate is contributing to American economic woes.

During the recent International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, Chinese officials have been keen to point out that the yuan has in fact been gradually appreciating for some time, and this week reached its highest rate since 2005.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei rejected that the exchange rate was affecting the trade balance between China and the United States. He said China hopes the United States will refrain from politicizing the exchange rate and trade issues.

China's aversion to liberalized yuan

Chinese officials have been reluctant to liberalize the yuan because it likely would reduce the competitiveness of Chinese exports and fuel job losses, which could lead to social unrest.

But keeping the yuan under tight government control also carries costs. It means China's currency is not internationally traded, so many global businesses continue to price goods and contracts in dollars.

Analyst Kroeber said Chinese concerns about the stability of the dollar are becoming a catalyst for Beijing to try to internationalize the use of the yuan.

He said that the goal of the Chinese leadership, 10 or 20 years from now, is to create an internationally accessible bond market large enough to make the Chinese yuan a reserve currency like the dollar.

What they've been trying to do is increase the use of renminbi for settling and invoicing trade. If you have concerns about the currency in which your trade is denominated, traditionally U.S. dollars, using your own currency is a good solution to that, said Kroeber.

Strategic use of 'dim sum' bonds

China still restricts foreign investors from broad participation in its economy, but is using Hong Kong as a gateway for investment through programs such as dim sum bonds. These are yuan-denominated debts sold in Hong Kong since 2009 and named after a tasty appetizer much loved in China.

Dim sum bonds are attractive to global brands, such as Tesco and BP, as well as Chinese companies interested in raising and investing money through bonds that have lower repayment rates than those denominated in U.S. currency.

Professor de Silva said foreign and domestic investors in the debt tolerate yields as low as 1.7 percent in the belief they will make more gains as the yuan continues to appreciate.

If we look over the past year, RMB appreciation to the U.S. dollar is around six percent. And, the forecast over the next five years is about four percent per year. So if you take the 1.7 percent yield, plus that four percent yield, it starts to look quite attractive, said de Silva.

Although investors may be banking that the yuan will rise in value, there are still serious doubts about whether a truly liberalized yuan will become a reality anytime soon. As the yuan develops into a more globalized and mature medium of exchange and store of value, Chinese leaders indicate that currency policy will continue on their terms, and not those of China's trading partners. - VOA

23771  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Holder and the Marc Rich pardon on: October 04, 2011, 02:45:58 PM
A little trip down memory lane  evil
23772  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: October 04, 2011, 02:27:38 PM
"As an example, were these complaintants isolated female drivers stopped by the accused officer at night, or were they girlfriends of known gang members who were searched as part of an arrest of those gang members? (Often female gang associates are used to carry weapons, knowing they are less likely to be frisked by male officers) Knowing that would be important. Criminal groups will often complaint-bomb effective officers to take them out of service. Was that what happened here? There is not enough information in the article to make an informed judgement."

"You are a powerful and effective advocate who can relentlessly back up what he says with specifics-- a VERY rare quality"  grin 

I would offer that you remember that you have invested A LOT of living and a lot of time developing your thinking about these issues-- a lot more than most people.  Be gentle with them as you enlighten them/me  cheesy
23773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yuan on: October 04, 2011, 01:25:55 PM
Economics continues as not so strong link in Stratfor diagnostic chain

Rhetoric and Reality in U.S.-China Currency Tensions
The U.S. Senate voted Monday to advance a bill pressuring China to stop undervaluing its currency. This paves the way for the bill, titled the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011, to receive a final vote as soon as this week. A STRATFOR source said the bill may pass the Senate but likely will fail in the House of Representatives, despite the currency issue having some bipartisan support. This includes the support of a few Republican presidential candidates who, though normally against trade regulations, are tying China’s rising economic power to domestic unemployment and U.S. President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy.
“The U.S. domestic situation may be conducive to using the China issue for political gain.”
China always makes a good target for American officials seeking to demonstrate their worth in the political and foreign policy arenas or as a distraction from domestic economic issues that are not easy to resolve. As the U.S. electoral cycle gets into gear, the currency bill may serve as a gauge of potential interest in raising China’s economy as a campaign issue. The bill itself is not entirely new. Lawmakers have been accusing China of undervaluing the yuan and engaging in unfair trade practices for years, but these accusations often serve more as sounding boards for the campaigners or as ways to negotiate within Congress for other issues of interest. The current bill brings a few new elements to the table, but it still amounts to little more than a domestic political message linked to Obama’s jobs plan, rather than a serious attempt to change Chinese trade practices.
Beijing has embarked on a relatively steady appreciation of the yuan since shifting to a managed peg in 2010. This is still insufficient for many observers, but Chinese authorities have domestic reasons for wanting to avoid any rapid shift in the yuan’s value. The Obama administration is mostly satisfied with this slower pace of appreciation and has refrained from using levers available to pressure China for any more rapid adjustments.
However, the U.S. domestic situation may be conducive to using the China issue for political gain. When there is a tough economic problem at home that cannot be resolved easily or quickly, it is often politically expedient to blame a foreign power of unfair practices. The rhetoric alone can often serve as a rallying point for political support.
Whether the bill is a serious attempt to curtail trade or just a source of renewed rhetoric, China must still respond based on the potential implications rather than the likelihood of passage or action. This creates another minor bump in the already bumpy road of U.S.-Chinese relations. As China’s power increases, and its economy pushes Chinese interests farther from home, it is increasingly in competition with Washington. This is not aggressiveness per se, but the natural result of a large and emerging power moving into the sphere of an existing power. But the more China reaches, the more insecure it feels. This makes Beijing particularly sensitive to any perceived encirclement campaign or economic pressure by Washington.
Meanwhile, perhaps not coincidentally, as China’s economic influence expands, the United States is pursuing a policy of economic and political re-engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Two elements of this re-engagement are the U.S. participation in the East Asia Summit, in which the United States will be participating for the first time as a full member, and the U.S.-initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade zone designed to increase U.S. competitiveness in the Asia-Pacific region and tap into Asia’s continuing economic growth. These fit U.S. interests even in the absence of an expanding China, but from Beijing’s perspective, they are clearly aimed at containing and rolling back Chinese political and economic gains.
What concerns China most, however, is Washington’s growing commitment in disputes regarding the South China Sea, which is increasingly becoming the core security issue for the entire region. Obama will be touring Asia in November and will deliver a speech at the East Asia Summit. The speech could have an impact similar to that of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010 at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, which changed the regional dynamic regarding maritime disputes when Clinton said it was in the United States’ “national interest” to ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Ultimately, Washington will want the summit to go beyond its normal energy- and economy-centered focus and address regional security issues, giving the United States a forum to counterbalance Beijing’s influence in that arena.
China is an easy target for U.S. politicians in rhetoric but far less so in the reality of regional competition. What bears watching is whether China reads moves such as the currency bill as rhetorical, and thus issues a measured response, or whether Beijing attaches more significance to the move and counters disproportionately. Beijing clearly wants a good domestic environment to pave the way for its own leadership transition in 2012. Depending upon domestic issues in China, particularly an economic slowdown and social stability concerns, Beijing could determine it beneficial to ratchet up tensions with the United States.

SHANGHAI—China's angry response to a U.S. Senate vote to move ahead with a bill to punish Beijing for keeping the value of its currency low reflects domestic pressures on the leadership to act tough, but is unlikely to result in any precipitous action, analysts and economists say.

China's reaction Tuesday to the 79-19 vote was swift and coordinated.

Money's Worth
U.S. Senate Moves to Punish China on Yuan
China Real Time: How to Value a Currency
.Journal Community
..The People's Bank of China cautioned in a statement that passage of the bill won't resolve U.S. domestic economic difficulties but could instead "seriously affect" China's continuing exchange-rate reform and even lead to a trade war. It said that with inflation factored in, the yuan has appreciated "greatly" and is close to a balanced level.

China's Foreign Ministry said the bill violates rules of the World Trade Organization, while the Ministry of Commerce described it as "unfair" and in violation of international practice.

Economists say they don't expect the angry words will translate into policy shifts or retaliation, at least not while the fate of the bill is up in the air. Even though the vote advanced in the Democrat-controlled Senate, it faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled House.

"I don't think China will make any big move in response," said UBS economist Wang Tao, adding she believes there is only a small chance the bill will become law.

"China won't yield to the pressure from the U.S. or change its gradual approach to yuan exchange-rate reform," Ms. Wang said.

The Senate bill seeks to impose tariffs on exports from countries with undervalued currencies. Supporters of the bill complain that China's yuan is undervalued, making its products cheaper on world markets. They say a higher yuan would boost U.S. exports and create thousands of American jobs. Opponents say the measure would accomplish little besides infuriating China, and that the U.S.-Chinese relationship faces far bigger issues.

Senior Chinese officials have become increasingly forceful in their approach to the U.S. since the global recession, with many convinced that China is now in the ascendant and the U.S. is in permanent decline. Some feel China has the upper hand as the largest holder of U.S. debt—and the only major economy still growing rapidly.

Chinese leaders say the U.S. is to blame for plunging the world into crisis as a result of economic mismanagement, and resent moves that America has taken to boost its recovery, including buying bonds to hold down interest rates —so-called quantitative easing—which they argue is debasing the U.S. dollar and pumping up inflation in China and other emerging economies.

Pressure on the Chinese leadership also is coming from a nationalistic public outraged by continued U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and a more forceful U.S. diplomatic engagement with Southeast Asia, where several countries are in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Still, balanced against Chinese assertiveness is a strong desire by China's leaders to avoid upsetting the relationship with the U.S. ahead of 2012, when there will be presidential elections in America and a leadership transition in China. They need external stability to focus on delicate transition politics.

Chinese leaders also recognize that in a globalized economy, their own fate is closely linked to that of the U.S., and a trade war would likely be as damaging to China as the U.S.—perhaps even more so given China's greater reliance on exports.

But under the surface of harsh response to the Senate vote, Beijing left the door open for reconciliation, reiterating its long-standing pledge to continue exchange-rate reforms. That is likely a sign of lingering hopes that the Republican-controlled U.S. House will vote down the currency bill.

Indeed, both the Foreign Ministry and central bank also repeated Tuesday Beijing's standard rhetoric that China will continue to increase the yuan's flexibility over time.

There are indications Beijing has been trying to keep the yuan's appreciation intact despite mounting global economic uncertainties caused by the debt woes in Europe and slowing growth in the U.S. In the face of heavy yuan selling last week, triggered by risk aversion and concerns that the Chinese economy will have a hard landing, the central bank kept supporting the yuan's value by setting the currency higher through a daily reference exchange rate.

At 6.3859 yuan to the dollar ahead of China's week-long National Day holiday, the yuan was down 0.1% against the U.S. currency in September, but up 6.9% since June 2010, when China ended its currency's two-year peg to the dollar.

The Senate's vote appeared to have little notable impact on the yuan in the less restricted offshore Hong Kong market, where the currency mostly tracked its regional peers and remained more or less steady versus the dollar on Tuesday.

The Senate vote puts the White House in a delicate position. Like previous administrations, the Obama White House is wary of antagonizing Chinese leaders, whose cooperation it needs not just on economic issues but also on an array of national security matters. But criticizing China remains popular with the public, and many Democrats, including those from big industrial states, say China's currency policy is unfair to U.S. workers.

"They use the rules of free trade when it benefits them, and spurn the rules of free trade when it benefits them," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), a major sponsor of the bill. "For years and years and years, Americans have grimaced, shrugged their shoulders, but never done anything effective" to stop these policies.

Opponents of the bill say that instead of potentially sparking a trade war, the U.S. should face its own problems, such as the burgeoning federal budget deficit. "It's like we know what we've got to do but we won't do it," said Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.). "It's like we've got to find a bogeyman."

Because House leaders are reluctant to bring up the bill, its future is uncertain. The House overwhelmingly passed a similar bill in September 2010, when Democrats controlled the chamber, but GOP leaders argue today that the new bill could have unintended consequences.

—Stefanie Qi and Andrew Browne contributed to this article.

23774  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: October 04, 2011, 12:31:56 PM

You are a powerful and effective advocate who can relentlessly back up what he says with specifics-- a VERY rare quality.

My larger point here is how the average good, well-intentioned citizen reading the morning paper that someone with SEVEN complaints of this nature was sent out with a badge and a gun might feel.  Not surprising that they might have a WTF? reaction.

Sometimes THIS is the person you are communicating with here on the forum.
23775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Patriot Post on: October 04, 2011, 12:27:44 PM
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23776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Precise solutions in an imprecise world on: October 04, 2011, 11:38:50 AM
By George Friedman
An important disconnect over the discussion of the  future of the European Union exists, one that divides into three parts. First, there is the question of whether the various plans put forward in Europe plausibly could result in success given the premises they are based on. Second, there is the question of whether the premises are realistic. And third, assuming they are realistic and the plans are in fact implemented, there is the question of whether they can save the European Union as it currently exists.
The plans all are financial solutions to a particular set of financial problems. But regardless of whether they are realistic in addressing the financial problem, the question of whether the financial issue really addresses the fundamental dilemma of Europe — which is political and geopolitical — remains.
STRATFOR has examined the plans for dealing with the financial crisis in Europe, and we find them technically plausible, even if they involve navigating something of a minefield. The eurozone’s bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, would be expanded in scope and reach until it can handle the bailout of a major state, the default of a minor state and a banking crisis of unprecedented proportions. Given assumptions of the magnitude of the problem and assuming general compliance with the plans, there is a chance that the solution we see the Germans moving toward could work.
The extraordinary complexity of the plans being floated in Europe is important to note. It is extremely difficult for us to understand the specifics, and we suspect the politicians proposing it are also less than clear on them. We have found that the more uncertain the solution, the more complex it is. And the complexity of the European situation is less driven by the complexity of the economics than by the complexity of the politics. The problem is relatively easy: Banks and countries under massive financial pressure almost certainly will default without extensive aid. By giving them money, default can be avoided. But the political complexity of giving them money and the opposition by many Europeans on all sides to this solution contributes to the complexity. The greater the complexity, the more interests can be satisfied and — ultimately — the less understanding there is about what has been promised. Some subjects require complexity, and this is one of them. The degree of complexity in this case tells another tale.
The Foundation of the Crisis
Part of that tale is about two dubious assumptions at the foundation of the crisis. The first is the assumption that interested parties are genuinely aware of the size of the financial problems, and to the extent they are aware of it, that they are being honest about it. Ever since 2008, the singular truth of the financial community globally has been that they were either unaware of the extent of the financial problems on the whole or unaware of the realities of their own institutions. An alternative explanation is, of course, willful ignorance. This translates as the leaders being fully aware of the magnitude of the problem but understating it to buy time or to position themselves personally for better outcomes. It could also simply be a case of their being engaged in helpless hopefulness — that is, they knew there was nothing they could do but remained hopeful that someone else would find a solution. In sum, it combined incompetence, willful deception and willful delusion.
Consider the charge that the Greeks falsified financial data. While undoubtedly true, it misses the point. The job of bankers is to analyze data from loan applicants and to uncover falsehoods. The charge against the Greeks can thus be extended to bankers. How could they not have discovered the Greek deception?
There are two answers. The first is that they didn’t want to. The global system of compensation among financial institutions — from home mortgages to the purchase of government bonds — separates the transaction from the outcome. In other words, in many cases bankers are not held responsible for the outcome of the loan and are paid for the acquisition and resale of the loan alone. They are therefore not particularly aggressive in assessing the quality of a given loan. Frequently, they work with borrowers to make their debt look more attractive.
During the U.S. subprime crisis, in the mortgage crisis in Central Europe and in the sovereign debt and banking crisis in Europe, the system placed a premium on transactions, immunizing bankers from the repayment of loans. The validity of the numbers systematically were skewed toward the most favorable case.
More important, such numbers — not only of the status of loans but also about the economic and social status of the debtors — inherently are uncertain. This is crucial because part of the proposed European solution is the imposition of austerity on debtor nation states. The specifics of that austerity and its effect on the ability to repay after austerity heavily depend on the validity of available economic and social statistics.
There is an interesting belief, at least in the advanced industrial countries, that government-issued statistics reflect reality. The idea is that the people who issued these statistics are civil servants, impervious to political pressure and therefore likely providing accurate data. A host of reasons exists for looking at national statistics with a jaundiced eye beyond the risk of politicians pressuring civil servants.
For one, collecting statistics on a society is a daunting task. Even small countries have millions of people. The national statistical database is based on the assumption that all of the transactions and productions of these millions can be measured accurately, or at least measured within some knowable range of error. This is an overwhelming undertaking.
The solution is not the actual counting of transactions — an impossible task — but the creation of statistical models that make assumptions based on various methodologies. There are competing models that provide different outcomes based on sampling procedures or mathematical models. Even without pressure from politicians, civil servants and their academic mentors have personal commitments to certain models.
The center of gravity of our global statistical system, particularly those of advanced industrial countries, is that the selection of statistical models is frequently subject to complex disputes of experts who vehemently disagree with one another. This is also a point where political pressure can be applied. Given the disagreements, the decision on which methodology to use — from sampling to reporting — is subject to political decisions because the experts are divided and as contentious as all human beings are on any subject they care about.
And this is the point at which outside decisions are made, based on outcome, not on the subtleties of mathematical modeling. There is a connection between the numbers and reality, but the mathematics of a bailout rests on a statistical base of sand. It is always assumed that this is the case in the developing world. This creates a certain advantage, in that it is understood that the statistics are unreliable. By contrast, the advanced industrial countries have the hubris to believe that complex mathematics has solved the problem of knowing what hundreds of millions of people in billions of transactions actually have done.
A Culture of Opaque States
Compounding this challenge, the European Union has incorporated societies on its periphery that never have accepted the principle that states must be transparent, a problem exacerbated by EU regulations. Southern and Central Europeans always have been less impressed by the state than Germans, for example. This is not simply about paying taxes but about a broader distrust of government, something deeply embedded in history. Meanwhile, regulations from Brussels, whose tax and employment laws make entrepreneurship and small business ownership extraordinarily difficult, have forced a good deal of the economy “off the books,” aka, underground.
While not an EU state, Moldova — said to be the poorest country in Europe — is an instructive example. When I visited it a year ago, the city (and villages outside the city) were filled with banks (from Societe Generale on down) and BMWs. There was clear poverty, but there also was a wealth and vibrancy not captured in intergovernmental statistics. The numbers spoke of grinding poverty; the streets spoke of a more complex reality.
What exactly is the state of the Greek, Spanish or Italian economy? That is hard to say. Official statistics that count the legal economy suffer from methodological uncertainty. Moreover, a good deal of the economy is not included in the numbers. One assessment says that 10 percent of all employees are off the books. Another says 40 percent of Greeks define themselves as self-employed. A third estimates that 40 percent of the total Greek economy is in the grey sector. When evaluating what tries to remain hidden, you’re reduced to guesswork. No one really knows, any more than anyone really knows how many illegal immigrants are participating in the U.S. economy. The difference, however, is that this knowledge is of profound importance to the entire EU bailout.
The level of indebtedness and the ownership of the debt of European banks and countries are as murky as who held asset-backed securities in the United States. Yet there is a precise plan designed to solve a problem that can’t be quantified or allocated. The complexity and precision of the plan fails to recognize the uncertainty because the governments and banks are loath to admit that they just aren’t certain. The banks have grown so big and their relationships so complex that the uncertainty principle parallels the state’s. The United States — where the same governing authority handles all fiscal, monetary and social policies — powered through such uncertainties in the 2008 financial crisis by sheer mass and speed. Europe, with dozens of (often competing) authorities, so far has found it impossible to exercise that option.
The countries that face default and austerity have no better understanding of their own internal reality than the financial institutions understand their own internal reality. Greek numbers on the consequences of austerity for government workers do not take into account that many of those workers show up to work only occasionally while working another job that is not taxed or known to the state statistical services. Thus, one has a complete split between the state and banking systems’ ability to honor debt obligations, the insistence on austerity and the social reality of the country.
Germany has always been different. Ever since the early 19th century German philosopher Georg Hegel declared the German civil service had ended history, the idea of the state as the embodiment of reason has meant something to Germans that it did not mean to others — in both a noble and a horrible sense. We are now at the noble end of the spectrum, but the idea that the state is the embodiment of reason still doesn’t capture the European reality. The Brussels bureaucracy is based on the German view that a disinterested civil servant can produce rational solutions that partisan politicians and self-interested citizens could not.
The founding concept of the European Union involves joining nations that do not share this view, and even find it bizarre, with a nation for which it is the cultural core. This has created the fundamental existential issue in the European Union.
The realization that the rational civil servants of Brussels and Berlin have failed to create systems that understand reality strikes at German self-perceptions. There is a willful urge to retain the perception that they understand what is going on. From the standpoint of Southern and Central Europe, the realization that the Germans genuinely thought that the states on the EU periphery had reached the level of precision of the German civil services (assuming Germany had in fact reached that stage), or that they even wanted to, is a shock. Their publics, which saw the European Union as a means of getting in on German prosperity without undergoing a massive social upheaval putting the state and the civil service — disciplined and rational — at the center of their society, experienced an even greater shock.
The political and geopolitical problem is simply this: Germany is unique in Europe in terms of both size and values. It tried to create a free trade zone based on German values allied with France that looked at the world in a much more complex way. The crisis we are seeing, which Germany is trying to solve with extraordinary complexity and precision, rests on a highly unstable base. First, the European banking system, like the American banking system, does not understand its status. Second, the entire mathematics of national statistics is inherently imprecise. Third, the peripheral countries of the European Union have economies that cannot be measured at all because their informal economies are massive. The fundamental principles and self-conception of Germany and Central Europe diverge massively. The elites of these countries might like to think of themselves as Europeans first — by the German definition — but the publics know they are not, and they don’t want to be.
The precision of the bailout schemes reveals the  underlying misunderstanding of reality by Europe’s elites, and specifically by the Germans. To be more precise, this is willful misunderstanding. They all know that their precision rests on a foundation of uncertainty. They are buying time hoping that prosperity will return, mooting all of these problems. But the problem is that a precise solution to a vastly uncertain problem is unlikely to return Europe to its happy past. Reality — or rather the fundamental unreality of Europe — has returned.
In some sense, this is no different from the United States and China. But the United States has its Constitution and the Civil War’s consequences to hold itself together in the face of this problem, and China has the Communist Party’s security apparatus to give it a shot. Europe, by contrast, has nothing to hold it together but the promise of prosperity and the myth of the rational civil servant — the cultural and political side of the underlying geopolitical problem.
23777  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues and LE in action on: October 04, 2011, 10:22:08 AM
There's a report in today's Left Angeles Times that the same PD has sent back out on patrol an officer with seven groping complaints against him.  To the ordinary citizen reading his morning paper, this, in conjunction with the dead homeless guy charges against the officers, reads like maybe this is a department that doesn't really police its own.
23778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 04, 2011, 03:32:07 AM
That's very interesting and by all means pursue it, but IMO the question presented about Perry and "Niggerhead" remain.  I am quite surprised at how he is letting this story linger without a direct personal response from him.
23779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / That fellow who engineered the Marc Rich pardon may need one of his own on: October 04, 2011, 12:03:04 AM
Gunwalker: Holder Appears To Be Fast, Furious, and Finished

News documents indicate that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder more than likely perjured himself in congressional testimony about Operation Fast and Furious earlier this year.

October 3, 2011 - 7:57 pm - by Bob Owens

News documents indicate that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder more than likely perjured himself in congressional testimony about Operation Fast and Furious earlier this year.

Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News and William LaJeunesse of Fox News have been the only mainstream media reporters diligently working on the most important scandal in White House history, and it is no surprise that they concurrently released information indicating that the attorney general, who claimed in direct testimony on May 3 of this year in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that he first heard about Operation Fast and Furious “over the last few weeks,” had actually been briefed on the program in a memo by the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center almost a year earlier on July 5, 2010.

A copy of the heavily redacted weekly report posted by CBS News offers direct evidence that not only was the attorney general briefed on Operation Fast and Furious, but that he was briefed on it regularly and was well aware that the program was sending thousands of weapons into the hands of the Sinaloa cartel:

From July 12 through July 16, the National Drug Intelligence Center Document and Media Exploitation Team at the Phoenix Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCTDETF) Strike Force will support the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ Phoenix Field Division with its investigation of Manuel Celis-Acosta as part of OCDETF Operation Fast and Furious. This investigation, initiated in September 2009 in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Phoenix Police Department, involves a Phoenix-based firearms trafficking ring headed by Manual Celis-Acosta. Celis-Acosta and [redacted] straw purchasers are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels. They also have direct ties to the Sinaloa Cartel which is suspected of providing $1 million for the purchase of firearms in the greater Phoenix area.
That excerpt stated what the task force would do in the near future, while the same language was used later in the report to show what the task force had done that week:

From July 6 through July 9, the National Drug Intelligence Center Document and Media Exploitation Team at the Phoenix Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCTDETF) Strike Force will support the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ Phoenix Field Division with its investigation of Manuel Celis-Acosta as part of OCDETF Operation Fast and Furious. This investigation, initiated in September 2009 in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Phoenix Police Department, involves a Phoenix-based firearms trafficking ring headed by Manual Celis-Acosta. Celis-Acosta and [redacted] straw purchasers are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug trafficking cartels. They also have direct ties to the Sinaloa Cartel which is suspected of providing $1 million for the purchase of firearms in the greater Phoenix area.
Attorney General Holder’s eventual criminal defense attorney is certain to state that the attorney general is provided with dozens of reports each week, and that is within the realm of reasonable doubt that he simply overlooked or did not remember the specifics of this memo.

Prosecutors would likely cast doubt on such a claim, citing the fact that the report was named Operation Fast and Furious, that it referred to the number of guns walked by the program at that time (1,500), and that it even noted how much they thought the Sinaloa cartel had budgeted for weapons ($1 million). They will then note that this information was cited twice in each weekly report for both current and future operations.

The prosecutors will more than likely be able to state with a great degree of certainly that Holder was provided this information in x number of weekly reports spanning y number of months in a report that only cites the most important National Drug Intelligence Center cases.

It will be very interesting to see if the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has the ability or interest to imprison a sitting attorney general for contempt of Congress, which would in and of itself bring up a question of separation of powers, as it would require Congress having the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia attempting to arrest and imprison a member of the executive branch. This is more than likely a moot point, however, as Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa expressed in a conference call with new media representatives that he would call for the appointment of an independent special prosecutor, who would be given the power to pursue criminal charges that carry a much longer prison sentence than the maximum one year that Congress may impose for contempt.

Another communication acquired by Attkisson and LaJeunesse shows a series of emails between two Department of Justice officials, Jason Weinstein, deputy assistant attorney general of the Criminal Division, and Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit James Trusty.

The two men discuss Operation Fast and Furious in conjunction with another gun-walking operation based in Tucson (OFF was in Phoenix) and a third, unnamed gun-walking operation.

Trusty wrote to Weinstein:

Looks like we’ll be able to unseal the tucson case sooner than Fast and Furious (although this may be the difference between Nov and Dec). It’s not clear how much we’re invlvoed in the main F and F case, but we have Tucson and now a new, related case with [redacted] targets. It’s not going to be any big surprise that a bunch of US guns are being used in MX, so I’m not sure how much grief we get for “gun walking.” It may be more like, “Finally, they’re going after people who sent guns down there.”
The Trusty email confirms that senior Department of Justice officials were aware of not just Operation Fast and Furious, but that Operation Fast and Furious was a gun-walking operation; Trusty used that exact phrase. The news of the Tucson operation is the second confirmation of that gun-walking operation (Operation Wide Receiver), which was first revealed in a Friday afternoon document dump by the White House.

There is scant reference to the third operation, and it is unclear if this is another Arizona-based case or one of the Texas-based gun-walking operations that was also mentioned in passing in the O’Reilly email released Friday as “last year’s TX effort.”

In the flurry of documents released in the past several days, top officials of the Department of Justice are confirmed talking about at least three and as many as four gun-walking operations, dramatically raising the probability that gun-walking was known throughout the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and State, as well as the White House.

These documents seem to convincingly argue that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder knowingly perjured himself in congressional testimony. As Holder knew, it is likely that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose agents were also part of the task force, received similar weekly reports from either her direct reports or U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, a close personal confidant who was her chief of staff while she was Arizona’s governor and who was appointed U.S. attorney through Napolitano’s influence. State should have been informed as they would have to waive what are clear violations of the Arms Export Control Act, but there is not any evidence yet that Secretary of State Clinton was involved in the operations.

It is starting to appear that Eric Holder might soon find himself thrown under the proverbial bus. It now seems only a matter of time before we discover who was driving a bus that seems destined for the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.
23780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Beck: Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities on: October 03, 2011, 07:02:22 PM
Declaration of Rights & Responsibilities
As the American Declaration of Independence clearly states, when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to band together and collectively declare their rights and responsibilities to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle and bind them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should disclose the causes which impel them to such.

Therefore let us declare that we still hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But with those rights come responsibilities.
In order to continually experience life, liberty and happiness as promised, nature’s God demands obedience to His law to protect those rights. This is where we have fallen short and therefore, in order not to lose the blessings of freedom, the people of the world must turn from the sole focus on rights, and recognize the inherent and required responsibilities that we have.

Among the responsibilities to which we must adhere to maintain our God given rights are honor, courage and vigilance.
Over time, we believe that these basic human responsibilities have been trampled, and replaced with degradation, fear and apathy.

But when a long train of abuses of the people and conscience by the media and by other segments of society, pursuing the same path of reducing them to ridicule, scorn and even sub-human status, it is their right, it is their DUTY, to peacefully, but vehemently take a stand.

AdvertisementMen want to be king, and the more we concentrate on our rights and the more we are told not to worry about our responsibilities, the more we lose our rights.

Just as physics show, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. The time has come to declare that at least for the western world human rights are generally accepted and moving in the right direction however a new movement is required a movement of human responsibility.

The media, politicians and large institutions both academic and political have been lying to us, and we must demand the truth be told.

With that demand, comes the responsibility that we tell the truth first, in ourselves. Too many of us delegate our responsibility to the media…and too many believe there is no personal responsibility at all.

Political correctness has polluted our language and clouds our every discussion.

What was once accepted as good and right, is now considered bad and evil, and that which was bad and evil is now presented to the world as good and decent.

Opposing thoughts or opinions are referred to as crazy, insane, non-factual and utterly without merit. Furthermore, we are told, they should not even be heard.

Now, the time has come to take a stand by exhibiting the traits – honor, courage and vigilance.

What is honor? It is being honest in all of our dealings. It is showing loyalty and fairness, and being a beacon of integrity in all our beliefs and actions. It is showing respect for others.

Ruth honored Naomi when she told her that she would not leave her. That she would go wherever Naomi went, that she would live where Naomi lived and die where Naomi died. Her God would be Naomi’s God.

Courage is the ability to face danger, criticism or scorn – not without fear, but while overcoming fear to deal with that which comes our way.

When no one else in the Kingdom wanted to face the mighty giant, Goliath, young David was willing. David must have felt fear at the sight of his foe, but overcame it, and courageously vanquished his enemy.

Vigilance is being watchful for all forms of treachery and tyranny, lies and deceit. The person in the watchtower, waiting all night, suddenly sounding the alarm that the enemy is coming. The careful observer of the markets and economies who proclaims to the world, all is not well, there is trouble ahead and the outspoken critic of the powerful, going against societies’ grain, warning that all is not as we’re being told. These are the vigilant.

We implore all people to stand with these characteristics – honor, courage and vigilance.

To that end, we must restore honor in our own lives. Seek after the truth. Declare right now, that no longer will we simply accept what is told us by the media or anyone else.

The media has the responsibility to tell the truth, we have the responsibility to learn it.

Stand with courage, even if it means the end of our jobs, the end of our positions in life…or even the end of our very lives.
We must have the courage to be peaceful, while recognizing the courage to defend and respond to threats and/or attacks when necessary.

Turn the other cheek when possible.

We must be vigilant. We must think the unthinkable. The holocaust occurred because no one could imagine it, but evil never sleeps, and neither must we.

As Edmund Burke said, “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” We must DO something. Stand watch. Speak up. Become involved.

Thus, we the people do hereby declare not only our rights, but do now establish this bill of responsibilities.

1. Because I have the right to choose, I recognize that I am accountable to God and have the responsibility to keep the 10 commandments in my own life.

2. Because I have the right to worship as I choose, I have the responsibility to honor the right of others to worship as they see fit.

3. Because I have freedom of speech, I have the responsibility to defend the speech of others, even if I strongly disagree with what they’re saying.

4. Because I have the right to pursue happiness, I have the responsibility to show humility and express gratitude for all the blessings I enjoy and the rights I’ve been given.

5. Because I have the right to honest and good government I will seek out honest and just representatives when possible. If I cannot find one then I accept the responsibility to take that place.

6. Because I have the God given right to liberty, I have the personal responsibility to have the courage to defend others to be secure in their persons, lives and property.

7. Because I have the right to equal justice, I will stand for those who are wrongly accused or unjustly blamed.

8. Because I have the right to knowledge, I will be accountable for myself and my children’s education…to live our lives in such a way that insures the continuation of truth.

9. Because I have the right to pursue my dreams and keep the fruits of my labor, I have the responsibility to feed, protect and shelter my family, the less fortunate, the fatherless, the old and infirm.

10. Because I have a right to the truth, I will not bear false witness nor will I stand idly by as others do.

Unconditionally, while maintaining my responsibility to compassionately yet fiercely stand against those things that decay the natural rights of all men. And for the support of this declaration, and with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, fortunes and sacred honor.

23781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 11 minutes with Cain fielding thoughtful questions. on: October 03, 2011, 03:47:16 PM!
23782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Market disagrees today with Wesbury on: October 03, 2011, 03:27:16 PM

The ISM manufacturing index rose to 51.6 in September To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 10/3/2011
The ISM manufacturing index rose to 51.6 in September from 50.6 in August, easily beating the consensus expected decline to 50.5. (Levels higher than 50 signal expansion; levels below 50 signal contraction.)
The major measures of activity were mostly higher in September. The production index rose to 51.2 from 48.6 and the employment index increased to 53.8 from 51.8.  The new orders index was unchanged at 49.6 and the supplier deliveries index rose to 51.4 from 50.6.
The prices paid index rose to 56.0 in September from 55.5 in August.
Implications: Today’s reports on manufacturing and construction show absolutely no sign of recession. Not only did the ISM manufacturing index beat consensus expectations, but it climbed to its highest level in three months.  The September index reading of 51.6 shows that growth in the manufacturing sector is accelerating, not declining.  An index level of 51.6 correlates with 3.2% real GDP growth according to the Institute for Supply Management, which publishes the report.  Given recent market volatility and fears of potential defaults in Europe, many regional manufacturing surveys have been beaten down.  But like today’s ISM report (and Friday’s Chicago PMI), we expect these manufacturing surveys to bounce back, as they often reflect sentiment rather than real business activity during times of uncertainty.  In other news this morning, construction spending increased 1.4% in August, easily beating consensus expectations of a 0.2% decline.  Including revisions to prior months, construction spending was up 1.2%.  The largest gain in August came from state and local construction, particularly high schools and bridges.  Home building rose due to both single-family construction and home improvements.  A gain in commercial construction was led by power plants.
23783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Panetta blames Israel on: October 03, 2011, 03:23:02 PM
23784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Koreans upping their game on: October 03, 2011, 03:21:25 PM

We have seen a lot of activity in the South China Sea with questions of Chinese expansionism, responses by other countries and tensions building that region. We have seen the Japanese, the Indians, the Vietnamese getting strongly involved. But it is not just in the South China Sea that we are seeing maritime activity in the Asia-Pacific. The South Koreans right now are looking at two new projects— a new naval base on Ulleung island, just west of the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima island, and a new base on the large southern island of Jeju, which would give the South Korean navy much more rapid and greater access to the South China Sea and beyond.
The two bases in some ways are very different. The base on Ulleung-do is focused on rapid reaction to get South Korean naval vessels to the disputed Dokdo islets. This is a dispute between Japan and South Korea that has been going on for quite a while but ultimately is not a very strategic dispute, it is more of a public relations issue. The Jeju base, however, would be a very large facility. This is a facility that would be able to host Aegis destroyers, it would be able to host aircraft carriers. This really is where we see the major expansion potentially taking place for the South Korean navy.
We have been watching an evolution in South Korean military development for the past decade or so. One of the things in particular is the decision by the South Koreans to create, if not an independent military force that is non-reliant upon the U.S., at least a force that is strong, that is capable and that focuses on issues of importance to the Korean strategic interest rather than necessarily just retaining themselves as a force designed to back up or support U.S. interests in the region and the U.S. protection of South Korea from North Korea.
The naval expansions we have seen in South Korea have been a big part of this. South Korea is a major trading nation. South Korea is about twelfth largest economy in the world. A lot of that is based on trade, a lot of that is based on access to resources, access to markets, and therefore ultimately South Korea feels somewhat vulnerable in its supply lines and in finding a way to ensure that it has the ability to secure its resource acquisitions and its overseas operations.
The South Koreans are certainly not carrying out this expansion in isolation. They do have an eye on what is going on around them. They have noticed the big changes in the Chinese navy and the more assertive nature of Chinese maritime security interests. They have watched the Japanese who very quietly have been developing a pace within the region and remain, aside from the United States, probably the single strongest navy in the Asia-Pacific region. And they are looking in general at an area that is growing more tense, is growing somewhat more contested and that has become a lot more active both for exploration of potential undersea resources but also in the sense of nationalistic defense of claims territories.
In the short term, certainly on the issue of the base on Ulleung Island, this has the potential to continue to rankle relations with Japan. But those are largely manageable relations, it is really the naval base in Jeju that seems to be the most significant. This puts the South Korean navy probably more active within the South China Sea, maybe even onto the Indian Ocean as they look particularly at the energy supply lines. But it also puts them in a place where in the South China Sea, which is ultimately a very small place, a very cramped place, it is an area that we are seeing a lot of maritime activity, we are seeing a lot of ships in the area, we are seeing a lot of aircraft in the area, we are seeing a lot of countries that are really trying to push their interest or their claims of ownership. And having this much activity in that area really leaves it open to not only the possibility but perhaps the likelihood of some unintentional conflicts in the not-too-distant future.
23785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / politics of 999 on: October 03, 2011, 11:34:30 AM
second post of day


WASHINGTON—Herman Cain's tax-overhaul plan is helping fuel a boomlet in the polls, but conservatives are divided over its proposed national sales tax while liberals worry that his proposal would penalize lower earners.

The Republican presidential candidate wants to scrap the current system—with its income-tax rates as high as 35% for individuals and corporations—and replace it with a system that combines a 9% personal flat tax, a 9% corporate flat tax and a 9% national sales tax.

The plan would eliminate the estate tax as well as current taxes on investment income, in an effort to boost investment and the economy. The Cain plan also would eliminate the payroll tax that hits many working-class Americans hard, and instead fund entitlement programs such as Social Security from the new revenue structure.

The longtime corporate executive also would largely curb the special income-tax deductions and credits that help many people of all income levels, as well as many businesses, substantially reduce their tax bills.

Some tea-party activists say the plan was a factor in Mr. Cain's recent lopsided victory in a Florida presidential straw poll, and reflects his penchant for bold ideas.

 WSJ's John McKinnon looks at Herman Cain, despite winning Florida's presidential straw poll, is having difficulty lining up conservative support for his economic plan. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
."This would be turning our tax system on its head, starting all over again," said Pam Wohlschlegel, director of the Palm Beach County Tea Party. "And a lot of people are ready to do that." She thinks the plan would make it harder to duck taxes, thus boosting collections.

Some conservatives also cheered the plan's effort to make the U.S. system more consumption-based by taxing sales. That could make the system more business-friendly, they believe, boosting economic growth and adding to government revenue.

"From what I've seen, it's the best plan in the Republican field right now," said Kevin Hassett, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a former adviser to Sen. John McCain. "We could easily expect an extra percent or so in [economic] growth from a plan like this."

There have been few expert appraisals of Mr. Cain's proposal. One conservative tax expert, Gary Robbins, said it would produce the same amount of revenue as the current system, and possibly 15% more.

But some conservatives worry that it is risky to institute a consumption tax while the federal income tax remains in place, because the government could slap taxpayers with both.

"If it was being introduced tomorrow, I'd have concerns about having both on the books at the same time, and would be screaming bloody murder," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group. But for now, he views Mr. Cain's plan as the beginning of a broader conversation about tax policy.

Retailers likely would fight a big federal sales tax, known as a consumption tax, out of concern that it could slow consumer spending. "We think this is going to hurt demand and is not going to be good for our industry," said Rachelle Bernstein, vice president of the National Retail Federation.

Liberals, meanwhile, worry that the sales tax would wind up shifting more of the tax burden to middle-class and working-class Americans. "It would be the biggest tax shift from the wealthy to the middle-class in the history of taxation, ever, anywhere, and it would bankrupt the country," said Michael Ettlinger, vice president for economic policy at the Center for American Progress, a think tank.

Mr. Cain's camp says the concerns are generally overblown. Rich Lowrie, a senior economic adviser to Mr. Cain, acknowledged the risk of adding a new tax while the old one remains in place. But he noted that the Cain camp views the plan as a transition to a pure national sales tax system. At least the 9-9-9 system would put all taxpayers on the same side when it comes to raising rates, he said.

By contrast, the current system tends to pit higher-income earners—who pay the majority of income taxes—against lower-income earners, who often escape the income tax but sometimes pay a large share of their income in payroll taxes.

"What we do structurally is get all taxpayers on the same side of the rope pulling together" against higher rates, Mr. Lowrie said. "Now [politicians] can't pit half of the country against the other half."

As for progressives' concerns, the plan likely would include a provision to shield people below the poverty level from its tax on purchases.

The plan combines features of various tax plans that appeal to conservatives, including the flat-rate income tax and the FairTax, a kind of national sales tax. The plan's ultimate aim would be to move to the FairTax and scrap income tax altogether. Mr. Cain is a longtime supporter of the FairTax.

23786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rick "N-head" Perry on: October 03, 2011, 11:12:29 AM
Reports of Perry-- while governor yet!- leasing a hunting camp called "Niggerhead" are, and should be in my opinion, the final nail in the coffin of the Perry candidacy.

a) Decent human beings simply refuse to associate with the word.  Period.
b) The lack of political judgment displayed by Perry in this matter is simply astounding.
c) It is hard to think of a better way to confirm in the popular mind the hoary slanders of the Left, their running dog Pravdas, and the chattering class about the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement as being racist.
d) Imagine what Baraq and his minions will be doing with this.

23787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 03, 2011, 09:27:01 AM
Exactly so.

And here we have the disappearance of the discipline imposed on both spending and monetization!

This is not good.  How are ordinary people to protect themselves from this war on savings and money itself?
23788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Everybody knows who I am on: October 03, 2011, 09:22:20 AM
Obama goes in to Bank of America

President Obama walks into the Bank of America to cash a check. As he
approaches the cashier he says "Good morning Ma'am, could you please
cash this check for me"?

Cashier: "It would be my pleasure sir. Could you please show me your ID?"

Obama: "Truthfully, I did not bring my ID with me as I didn't think
there was any need to. I am President Barack Obama, the President of
the United States of America!"

Cashier: "Yes sir, I know who you are, but with all the regulations,
monitoring, of the banks because of imposters and forgers, etc I must
insist on seeing ID."

Obama: "Just ask anyone here at the bank who I am and they will tell
you. Everybody knows who I am."

Cashier: "I am sorry Mr. President but these are the bank rules and I
must follow them."

Obama: "I am urging you please to cash this check."

Cashier: "Look Mr. President this is what we can do: One day Tiger
Woods came into the bank without ID. To prove he was Tiger Woods he
pulled out his putting iron and made a beautiful shot across the bank
into a cup. With that shot we knew him to be Tiger Woods and cashed
his check. Another time, Andre Agassi came in without ID. He pulled
out his tennis racquet and made a fabulous shot whereby the tennis
ball landed in my cup. With that spectacular shot we cashed his check.

So, Mr. President, what can you do to prove that it is you, and only
you, as the President of the United States?"

Obama stood there thinking, and thinking and finally says: "Honestly,
there is nothing that comes to my mind. I can't think of a single
thing I can do."

Cashier: "Will that be large or small bills, Mr. President?"
23789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Is Cain a contender? on: October 03, 2011, 09:20:26 AM
23790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 02, 2011, 11:08:06 PM
That sounds fair to me.

BTW he was also on FOX's Chris  wuzzhisname Williams? today too.  I thought he handled himself very well.
23791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CAIN on TARP on: October 02, 2011, 03:17:56 PM
23792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Truman--We may not see his like again on: October 02, 2011, 02:16:13 PM
Sorry, no citation for this one:

 Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.
When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale.."

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don 't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise." As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food. Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale. (sic. Illinois )

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!
23793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: October 02, 2011, 12:20:12 PM
third post of day:

White House sends Hill Fast & Furious docs, but withholds some

The White House sent another installment of documents to Congress on Friday detailing White House staffers' knowledge about the controversial "Operation Fast & Furious" gunrunning probe run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.

However, the chief counsel to President Barack Obama, Kathryn Ruemmler, indicated that the White House was withholding an unspecified number of internal e-mails exchanged among three National Security Staff aides.

"These internal NSS emails are not included in the enclosed documents because the [Executive Office of the President] has significant confidentiality interests in its internal communications," Ruemmler wrote in a letter to House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The letter, posted here, was obtained Friday by POLITICO.

The latest batch of 102 pages of records partially duplicated information previously sent to Congress and didn't appear to include any smoking guns showing that White House officials were aware that the operation involved allowing hundreds or thousands of guns to flow essentially unimpeded from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels.

"As today's production makes clear, none of the communications between ATF and the White House revealed the investigative law enforcement tactics at issue in your inquiry, let alone any decision to let guns 'walk,'" Ruemmler wrote in response to a letter to Issa and Grassley sent to National Security Adviser Tom Donilon earlier this month.
(Sure... And we're supposed to believe that's also the case with that "unspecified number of internal e-mails" the White House chose to withhold from Congress - you know, due to "significant confidentiality interests", or something. Right.)
New Fast and Furious docs released by White House

WASHINGTON - Late Friday, the White House turned over new documents in the Congressional investigation into the ATF "Fast and Furious" gunwalking scandal.

The documents show extensive communications between then-ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office Bill Newell - who led Fast and Furious - and then-White House National Security Staffer Kevin O'Reilly. Emails indicate the two also spoke on the phone. Such detailed, direct communications between a local ATF manager in Phoenix and a White House national security staffer has raised interest among Congressional investigators looking into Fast and Furious. Newell has said he and O'Reilly are long time friends.

ATF agents say that in Fast and Furious, their agency allowed thousands of assault rifles and other weapons to be sold to suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels. At least two of the guns turned up at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December.

ATF Manager says he shared Fast and Furious with the White House

The email exchanges span a little over a month last summer. They discuss ATF's gun trafficking efforts along the border including the controversial Fast and Furious case, though not by name. The emails to and from O'Reilly indicate more than just a passing interest in the Phoenix office's gun trafficking cases. They do not mention specific tactics such as "letting guns walk."

A lawyer for the White House wrote Congressional investigators: "none of the communications between ATF and the White House revealed the investigative law enforcement tactics at issue in your inquiry, let alone any decision to allow guns to 'walk.'"

Among the documents produced: an email in which ATF's Newell sent the White House's O'Reilly an "arrow chart reflecting the ultimate destination of firearms we intercepted and/or where the guns ended up." The chart shows arrows leading from Arizona to destinations all over Mexico.

In response, O'Reilly wrote on Sept. 3, 2010 "The arrow chart is really interesting - and - no surprise - implies at least that different (Drug Trafficking Organizations) in Mexico have very different and geographically distinct networks in the US for acquiring guns. Did last year's TX effort develop a similar graphic?"

The White House counsel who produced the documents stated that some records were not included because of "significant confidentiality interests."

Also included are email photographs including images of a .50 caliber rifle that Newell tells O'Reilly "was purchased in Tucson, Arizona (part of another OCDTF case)." OCDTF is a joint task force that operates under the Department of Justice and includes the US Attorneys, ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE and IRS. Fast and Furious was an OCDTF case. An administration source would not describe the Tucson OCDTF case. However, CBS News has learned that ATF's Phoenix office led an operation out of Tucson called "Wide Receiver." Sources claim ATF allowed guns to "walk" in that operation, much like Fast and Furious.

Congressional investigators for Republicans Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) have asked to interview O'Reilly by September 30. But the Administration informed them that O'Reilly is on assignment for the State Department in Iraq and unavailable. (How convenient.)

One administration source says White House national security staffers were "briefed on the toplines of ongoing federal efforts, but nobody in White House knew about the investigative tactics being used in the operation, let alone any decision to let guns walk."
23794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / DOJ considering abolishing ATF on: October 02, 2011, 12:18:16 PM
second post of the day:

Looks like the Obama administration is willing to go far in order to get rid of the evidence - which would make sense, considering the seriousness of the crime.

Bombshell: DOJ Considering Elimination of ATF
By Katie Pavlich

Multiple sources, including sources from ATF, DOJ and Congressional offices have said there is a white paper circulating within the Department of Justice, outlining the essential elimination of ATF. According to sources, the paper outlines the firing of at least 450 ATF agents in an effort to conduct damage control as Operation Fast and Furious gets uglier and as election day 2012 gets closer. ATF agents wouldn’t be reassigned to other positions, just simply let go. Current duties of ATF, including the enforcement of explosives and gun laws, would be transferred to other agencies, possibly the FBI and the DEA. According to a congressional source, there have been rumblings about the elimination of ATF for quite sometime, but the move would require major political capital to actually happen.

“It’s a serious white paper being circulated, how far they’d get with it I don’t know,” a confidential source said.

After a town hall meeting about Operation Fast and Furious in Tucson, Ariz. on Monday, ATF Whistleblower Vince Cefalu, who has been key in exposing details about Operation Fast and Furious, confirmed the elimination of ATF has been circulating as a serious idea for sometime now and that a white paper outlining the plan does exist.

Sounds great right? Eliminating ATF? But there is more to this story. Remember, low level ATF field agents, like ATF whistleblower John Dodson, were uncomfortable conducting Operation Fast and Furious from the beginning, but were told by high level officials within ATF that if they had a problem with the operation, they could find a job elsewhere.

“Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated,” ATF Whistleblower John Dodson said in testimony on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2011.

In fact, not only were the ATF agents forced to carry out the operation, they were told to go against what they had been taught in training.

“This operation, which in my opinion endangered the American public, was orchestrated in conjunction with Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley. [Emory Hurley is the same Assistant U.S. Attorney who previously prevented agents from using some of the common and accepted law enforcement techniques that are employed elsewhere in the United States to investigate and prosecute gun crimes.] I have read documents that indicate that his boss, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, also agreed with the direction of the case,” Special Agent Peter Forcelli said in testimony on Capitol hill on June 15, 2011.

“I recall my first days at the ATF academy, where it was drilled into us as new agents that under no circumstances would any firearms, in any investigation, leave the control of ATF. Instructors stressed that even if a weapon was lost “by accident,” the agent was still subject to termination,” former ATF Attaché to Mexico Darren D. Gil said in testimony on June 15, 2011.

ATF field agents weren’t the problem with Operation Fast and Furious, high ranking officials within ATF and the Department of Justice were and still are. DOJ would eliminate ATF only to take the heat off of the Obama Administration. By eliminating the bureau, it makes it seem like DOJ is taking Operation Fast and Furious so seriously, they decided to “clear out the corruption, clean house,” however, it would only be a distraction away from the people at the top of the investigation. In fact, evidence shows the DOJ has been stonewalling the Oversight Committee investigation into the operation to protect Obama political appointees.

“It was very frustrating to all of us, and it appears thoroughly to us that the Department is really trying to figure out a way to push the information away from their political appointees at the Department,” former ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson, who has since been moved to a position within DOJ, said of his frustration with the Justice Department’s response to the investigation in transcribed closed door testimony with the Oversight Committee in July 2011.

When I called the Department of Justice last week (five times) to request the white paper and receive a comment surrounding the idea of eliminating ATF, I received the following response: “Everyone is away from their desk right now.”

Up to this point, the Department of Justice has denied all allegations or involvement in Operation Fast and Furious, yet journalists and the House Oversight Committee have proved allegation after allegation to be true. For example, during a Congressional hearing in July, former ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell, who has since been promoted to a position within the Justice Department, denied that his agency was trafficking guns to Mexico, despite overwhelming evidence and testimony from other ATF agents proving otherwise.

“At no time in our strategy was it to allow guns to be taken to Mexico,” Newell said on July 26, 2011, adding that at no time did his agency allow guns to walk.

We’ve heard this was a low level, “rogue” operation, turns out high level officials in the Justice Department, DEA, FBI, DHS, and even members of the White House national security team knew about Operation Fast and Furious.

Last week, ATF offered 400 agents buy outs to avoid budget cuts and is expecting 250-275 agents to take the offer through Voluntary Early Retirement. These buyouts come at a convenient time for the Justice Department, which can eliminate ATF, then say it’s because of budget cuts, when really, it’s to cover their tracks. 
23795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lott on: October 02, 2011, 12:04:11 PM
Media Silence Is Deafening About Important Gun News

By John Lott

Murder and violent crime rates were supposed to soar after the Supreme Court struck down gun control laws in Chicago and Washington, D.C.   Politicians predicted disaster. "More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence," Washington’s Mayor Adrian Fenty warned the day the court made its decision. Chicago’s Mayor Daley predicted that we would "go back to the Old West, you have a gun and I have a gun and we'll settle it in the streets . . . ."  The New York Times even editorialized this month about the Supreme Court's "unwise" decision that there is a right for people "to keep guns in the home."

But Armageddon never happened. Newly released data for Chicago shows that, as in Washington, murder and gun crime rates didn't rise after the bans were eliminated -- they plummeted. They have fallen much more than the national crime rate.

Not surprisingly, the national media have been completely silent about this news.

One can only imagine the coverage if crime rates had risen. In the first six months of this year, there were 14% fewer murders in Chicago compared to the first six months of last year – back when owning handguns was illegal. It was the largest drop in Chicago’s murder rate since the handgun ban went into effect in 1982.

Meanwhile, the other four most populous cities saw a total drop at the same time of only 6 percent.  Similarly, in the year after the 2008 "Heller" decision, the murder rate fell two-and-a-half times faster in Washington than in the rest of the country.  It also fell more than three as fast as in other cities that are close to Washington's size. And murders in Washington have continued to fall.  If you compare the first six months of this year to the first six months of 2008, the same time immediately preceding the Supreme Court's late June "Heller" decision, murders have now fallen by thirty-four percent.

Gun crimes also fell more than non-gun crimes.

Robberies with guns fell by 25%, while robberies without guns have fallen by eight percent. Assaults with guns fell by 37%, while assaults without guns fell by 12%.

Just as with right-to-carry laws, when law-abiding citizens have guns some criminals stop carrying theirs.

The benefit could have been even greater. Getting a handgun permit in Chicago and Washington is an expensive and difficult process, meaning only the relatively wealthy go through it.

Through the end of May only 2,144 people had handguns registered in Chicago. That limits the benefits from the Supreme Court decisions since it is the poor who are the most likely victims of crime and who benefit the most from being able to protect themselves.

The biggest change for Washington was the Supreme Court striking down the law making it illegal to have a loaded gun. Over 70,000 people have permits for long guns that they can now legally used to protect themselves.

Lower crime rates in Chicago and Washington, by themselves, don’t prove that gun control increases murders, even when combined with the quite familiar story of how their murder rates soared and stayed high after the gun bans were imposed.

But these aren’t isolated examples. Around the world, whenever guns are banned, murder rates rise.

Gun control advocates explained the huge increases in murder and violent crime rates Chicago and Washington by saying that those bans weren’t fair tests unless the entire country adopted a ban.

Yet, even island nations, such as Ireland and the U.K. -- with no neighbors to blame -- have seen increases in murder rates. The same horror stories about blood in the streets have surrounded the debate over concealed handguns.  Some said it was necessary to ban guns in public places. The horror stories never came true and the data is now so obvious that as of November, only one state, Illinois, will still completely ban law-abiding from carrying concealed handguns.

Forty-one states will have either permissive right-to-carry laws or no longer even require a permit.

The regulations that still exist in Chicago and Washington primarily disarm the most likely victims of crime.

Hopefully, even the poor in these areas will soon also have more of an opportunity to defend themselves, too.

John R. Lott, Jr. is a Fox contributor and the author of the revised third edition of "More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010)."
23796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: October 02, 2011, 11:36:17 AM
Pete DuPont has been thinking and writing about these issues for years and it shows in his ability to make his point buttressed by simple, powerful, bottom-line data.
23797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: October 02, 2011, 11:33:05 AM
All true, but also worth noting is how bad the Republican offering was.  For example, just what do you think McCain would have done for/to the economy?
23798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: October 02, 2011, 10:50:48 AM
The insight in that piece is a good one to keep in mind.

What did you make of the bond vigilante piece I posted?
23799  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We are on a roll! on: October 01, 2011, 10:11:43 AM
Marc:  I'm guessing we got a goodly amount of intel out of the raid that killed OBL.

KABUL, Afghanistan – NATO says it has captured a senior leader of the Al Qaeda - and Taliban-allied Haqqani terror network operating inside Afghanistan .
NATO announced on Saturday that the coalition forces seized Haji Mali Khan during an operation in eastern Paktia province, which borders Pakistan. The alliance called it a significant milestone in the fight against the terror group.
NATO identified Khan as an uncle of Siraj and Badruddin Haqqani, two of the son's of the network's aging leader Jalaludin Haqqani.  The Pakistan-based network is affiliated to both the Taliban and Al Qaeda and has been described as the most serious security threat in Afghanistan.
23800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Awlaki Kill on: October 01, 2011, 10:07:18 AM
Based in great part upon Charles Krauthammer's analysis:

The Constitution provides for defending the country from insurrection, which by definition includes warring by citizens.   George Washington himself put down Shay's Revolt.  Lincoln put down the South-- with truly massive kills of uniformed soldiers, none of whom were arrested, read their rights, and given a trial.   (I might add that spies were promptly shot and/or hung)  Here we have American citizens waging war on the United States as part of a transnational religious fascist movement.  The US Congress has recognized the existence of this war/conflict and Awlaki was an egregious and highly active actor in the waging of this war.  This included participation in the recruitment and planning of the Crispy Weiner bomber attack on American soil.  Frankly, this seems like a slam dunk to me.  Two ears, one bullet , , , or a missile up the ass.

Works for me.
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