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23751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Rest in Peace on: March 16, 2011, 05:43:28 PM
The late Terrence McKenna (see e.g. "Nector of the Gods") was also from the same Harvard clique as Leary IIRC.
23752  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 16, 2011, 05:30:50 PM
Doug:

My post was written and posted without awareness of your excellent post.

GM:

Determined to pull our heads out of the sand (or wherever else they may be) aren't you?  cheesy

That is one scary factoid!!!  shocked shocked shocked
23753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy on: March 16, 2011, 05:25:28 PM
NFZ is/was? but one option.  Simply supplying food, water, ammo? is/was? another-- the larger point is whether the US would help or not against a nasty dictator when the people were genuinely rising up. 

Answering that question needs to be seen in the background context of the US's geo-political situation in the mid-east and the war with Islamic Fascism. 

If we do not stand for democracy, freedom, and "the people" against a murderous thug like Kaddaffy (who has murdered hundreds of our people by the way- think Lockerbie and other attacks) what meaning then for an Arab world deciding whether to see the struggle as Islam vs the Infidels or Civilization vs. Barbarism?

Anyway, it looks like Baraq has answered that question.  I suspect we (and the civilized world) are going to profoundly regret the trajectory of his approach to Iraq, Afpakia, Israel, Iran, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya.
23754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 16, 2011, 01:53:23 PM
No argument between us there.

The question presented here and now on this thread is what us regular folks are to do with our savings, investments etc to protect ourselves as best we can.
23755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Arabs love Pax Americana on: March 16, 2011, 12:52:09 PM
The Arab League's call this weekend for a no-fly zone over Libya is startling news and has sent diplomats scattering. We'll now see if the "international community" (to use the Obama Administration's favorite phrase) decides anything before Moammar Gadhafi's forces overrun the rebel stronghold in Benghazi. The odds favor Gadhafi.

But the 22-member league's decision also tells us a lot about Arab views of U.S. power. Throughout the Libyan crisis, we've heard from pundits and politicians that the Iraq war tarnished brand America beyond repair, and made U.S. leadership non grata in the Mideast. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have insisted that the U.N., NATO, the Europeans, Arabs, anyone but Washington take the initiative on Libya.

The Arab League is begging them to reconsider this abdication. With the unsurprising exceptions of Iranian client Syria and Libya's neighbor Algeria, the group took the extraordinary step of calling publicly for American intervention in the affairs of an Arab state. Though the League formally asked the U.N. Security Council to approve a no-fly zone, there's little doubt that the U.S. would carry the military and political burden in imposing one. The Arabs know this well, and their message couldn't be clearer. Maybe they even thought Mr. Obama meant what he said in calling for Gadhafi to leave power.

The weekend decision confirmed what we've heard privately from Arab leaders for years about America's continued engagement in the Middle East. The only people who suffer from an "Iraq syndrome" are American liberals and the Western European chattering classes. The pro-Western Gulf or North African allied states have nothing to gain in seeing American influence or military power devalued in their region—either by others, or as is the current fad in Washington, through American self-abnegation.

Their immediate interest may be to reverse Gadhafi's recent gains against the lightly armed rebels in eastern Libya. Arab hostility to him goes back many years. As neighbors they have much to fear from a post-revolt Libya turned back into a terrorist haven and pariah state.

For the proverbial "Arab street," the defeat of the Libyan uprising would be a dispiriting coda to this springtime of democratic revolutions. If he survives, Gadhafi will have taught other dictators that the next time young people demand accountable leadership, turn your guns on them and exploit American diffidence.

Beyond those pressing worries lie bigger Arab concerns over the changing power dynamic in the Middle East. New and unpredictable regional players are a neo-Ottoman Turkey and especially an Iran determined to get nuclear weapons. However much the Arabs like to complain about America, they know the U.S. is a largely benign force and honest broker.

Propelled by a strong domestic economy, the Turks have built their recent regional standing through trade and a political shift from its longstanding alliance with the West. Tellingly, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan opposes a no-fly zone. "We see NATO military intervention in another country as extremely unbeneficial," he said. Turkey had no such qualms when NATO came to the rescue of Europe's besieged Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo, but in the 1990s Ankara saw America as an ally, not a potential competitor.

The Sunni Arab states fear the nuclear ambitions of Shiite Iran as much as Israel does. It's not lost on them that while democratic uprisings toppled two Arab regimes friendly to the U.S. and threaten several others, Tehran has squelched the opposition Green Movement without inhibitions. The nuclear program, meanwhile, is Iran's secret weapon to become the dominant regional power.

The Administration chose to hear the Arab appeal for American leadership this weekend as if it were no big deal. White House spokesman Jay Carney used the word "international" three times in three sentences and didn't back a no-fly zone or any other military step. The G-8 foreign ministers yesterday failed to support it as well. A draft Libya resolution (sponsored by Lebanon!) is bouncing around at the Security Council, and likely headed nowhere.

Not by coincidence, Saudi Arabia and fellow Gulf states on Monday sent military forces into Bahrain to help put down an uprising by the majority Shiites against the Sunni monarchy, which yesterday declared a state of emergency. The Saudis fear that the Bahrain contagion, perhaps fueled by Iran, will spread to them.

But their intervention also reflects a lack of confidence that America will assert itself in the region. Remarkably, the Saudis ignored U.S. advice not to intervene in Bahrain. They don't believe they can count on the U.S. to stop an imperial Iran. When the U.S. fails to lead, every nation recalibrates its interests and begins to look out for itself first.

While the "international community" fiddles, Gadhafi's troops continue their march eastward, yesterday taking the strategic town of Ajdabiya, the last significant population center before Benghazi. His victory would be a tragedy for Libya's people. But it would diminish America's global standing as well, which is an outcome that makes Arabs as nervous as it ought to make Americans.

23756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Bahrain-History repeats itself on: March 16, 2011, 12:31:55 PM


History Repeats Itself in Eastern Arabia

For the second time in less than two years, Saudi Arabia deployed troops beyond its borders to contain Shiite unrest in its immediate neighborhood. In late 2009, Saudi forces fought to suppress Houthi rebels in the country’s Shiite borderland to the south in Yemen. This time around, a Saudi-led force, operating under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) Peninsula Shield Force, deployed forces to the Sunni-ruled island kingdom of Bahrain to suppress Shiite unrest.

The Saudi royals, highly dependent on the United States for the security of their regime, do not deploy their forces without good reason — especially when they already have their own simmering Shiite unrest to deal with in the country’s oil-rich eastern region and are looking at the potential for instability in Yemen to spill into the kingdom from the south.

From the Saudi perspective, the threat of an Iranian-backed destabilization campaign to reshape the balance of power in favor of the Shia is more than enough reason to justify a deployment of forces to Bahrain. The United States, Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies have been carefully monitoring Iran’s heavy involvement in fueling Shiite protests in their Sunni sheikhdoms and understand the historic opportunity that Iran is pursuing.

“From the Saudi perspective, the threat of an Iranian-backed destabilization campaign to reshape the balance of power in favor of the Shia is more than enough reason to justify a deployment of forces to Bahrain.”
The historical attraction of Bahrain lies in its geography. Bahrain is a tiny island nestled between the Arabian and Qatar peninsulas. It is vulnerable to external interference and valuable to whomever can lay claim to its lands, whether that be the Shia, the Sunni or any outside power capable of projecting authority to the Persian Gulf. Control of the island together with the Strait of Hormuz allowed for domination of the Indian Ocean trade along the Silk Road and the Arabian trade route from Mecca to the Red Sea.

The isles of Bahrain, along with the oases of al Qatif and al Hasa (both located in the modern-day Eastern province of Saudi Arabia), have been the three key economic hubs of the eastern Arabia region since antiquity. Bahrain sat atop a wealth of natural pearls while all three of these areas traded dates and spices and later on, oil, with buyers abroad. Critically, Bahrain, al Qatif and al Hasa have also been heavily populated with Shiite peoples throughout their history.

As a result, Bahrain, al Qatif and al Hasa have vacillated between Sunni and Shiite domination for hundreds of years. The Bahraini island can never exist comfortably in either domain. As a natural extension of the Arabian Peninsula, it would often fall under the influence of roaming Sunni Bedouin tribes, which found it difficult to subjugate the majority Shiite inhabitants. When under Shiite domination, as it was during the century-and-a-half-reign of the Banu Jarwan in the 14th century and during the 17th century with the rise of the Persian Safavid empire in Iran, the Shia in Bahrain struggled to fend off Sunni incursions without significant foreign backing. The Persians, sitting some 125 miles across the Persian Gulf, would often find it difficult to project power to the island, relying instead on the local religious elite, traders, judges and politicians to assert their will, but frequently finding themselves outmatched against outside powers vying for control and/or influence over eastern Arabia. From the Portuguese to the Ottomans to the British (and now) to the United States, each of these outside forces exercised a classic balance of power politics in playing Sunni and Shiite rivalries off each other, all with an eye on controlling, or at least influencing, eastern Arabia.

History repeated itself Monday.

A Saudi-led contingent of Arab forces crossed into Bahraini territory in defense against an Iranian-led attempt to reorient eastern Arabia toward the Shia. And yet again, the Persians are facing a strategic dilemma in projecting power to aid its Shiite proxies living in Sunni shadows. At the same time, the predominant naval power of the Persian Gulf, the United States, is pursuing its own strategic aim of shoring up the Sunni forces to counterbalance a resurgent Iran. It remains to be seen how this latest chapter unfolds, but if history is to serve as a guide, the question of whether Bahrain remains in Sunni hands or flips to the Shiite majority (currently the less likely option) will serve as the pivot to the broader Sunni-Shiite balance of power in the Persian Gulf.

23757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 16, 2011, 12:27:46 PM
Worth noting:

What did the spike of interest rates under Volcker do to gold prices in the late 70s?  It killed them.

23758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 16, 2011, 12:25:21 PM
GM:

Great stuff, but why is it in this thread?

Doug:

Great summary!
23759  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Potassium Iodide on: March 16, 2011, 12:22:12 PM
GM:

Agreed.

All:

My never-ceases-to-amaze-me wife has found the following concerning our expired shelf life PI:

What is the shelf life of KI tablets?

As with all drug products, the manufacturer must specify an expiration date
of the drug on either the package or the individually wrapped tablet. The
NRC distributes two tablet strengths of potassium iodide, 130 and 65 mg
tablets. The shelf life of IOSAT 130 mg tablets is 7 years and the shelf
life of ThyroSafe 65 mg tablets is 6 years.

For States interested in extending the shelf life of KI, the FDA has
published guidance on shelf life extension for the tablet form of potassium
iodide. Extending the shelf life of KI tablets is possible due to the
inherent stability of the chemical form. However, the tablets must be
stored under the conditions specified by the manufacturer to be considered
for shelf life extension. In addition, this guidance only is intended for
Federal agencies and State and local governments that maintain KI
stockpiles under the conditions specified by the manufacturer.

The liquid formulation of KI also has a shelf-life of 5 years. The
extension guidance does not apply to this product form.


Is it safe to take KI tablets with an expired shelf-life?

Yes, potassium iodide tablets are inherently stable and do not lose their
effectiveness over time. Manufacturers must label their products with a
shelf-life to ensure that consumers purchase safe and useful products.

According to FDA guidance on Shelf-life Extension, studies over many years
have confirmed that none of the components of KI tablets, including the
active ingredient, has any significant potential for chemical degradation
or interaction with other components or with components of the container
closure system when stored according to labeled directions. To date, the
only observed changes during stability (shelf-life) testing have been the
failure of some batches of KI tablets to meet dissolution specifications.
Some tablets tested required slightly longer than the specified time to
achieve dissolution. Even in the case of a failure of this sort, the
product remains usable. In such cases, instructions can be provided to
crush the tablets and mix them with a juice or other liquid prior to
administration as suggested for emergency pediatric dosing.
=============
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2014505732_quakepills16.html
=============
http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/emerg-preparedness/protect-public/ki-faq.html
23760  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Saudi troops open fire on: March 16, 2011, 12:07:18 PM

Saudi troops in Bahrain opened fire on Bahraini demonstrators in Manama’s Pearl Square on March 16, Iran’s Al-Alam Television reported. According to Al-Alam Television, Shiite mosques in Bahrain are urging people to commence a jihad. In addition, the Iranian station reported that Saudi and Bahraini forces fired at hospitals to prevent injured people from getting treatment.

The report of firing is significant in itself. The manner in which Iranian television is portraying the matter, whether true or not, is even more significant. In claiming both that Saudi troops are firing on hospitals and that the clergy have called for jihad, the Iranians are staking out a position designed to maximize the injustice of the Saudi intervention, to maximize Bahraini resistance and to turn the crisis from a political issue into a religious one.

If this becomes a general theme in Iranian media, it means Iran is establishing a framework in which the Saudis become an almost irreconcilable enemy and Bahrain a battleground in a religious conflict. Given Iran’s position, it becomes impossible for Tehran to remain neutral and not provide significant aid to the Bahraini Shiites. The degree and type of aid is uncertain, but obviously it commits the Iranians to some action and lays the justification for a more general confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Justification is not action, but actions of this sort require justification.

The Saudis are clearly attempting to crush resistance quickly with the use of direct force. The Iranians are attempting to rally the Bahrainis. However, framed as jihad, it raises the possibility of the conflict not only escalating in Bahrain but of Sunni-Shiite conflict emerging and intensifying elsewhere. There have been reports of some clashes in Iraq, which is clearly the primary battleground.

The theory STRATFOR has worked from has been that the uprising in Bahrain, whatever its origins, is going to be used by Iran in order to generally enhance its position in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain was a starting point in a broader strategy. Obviously, the longer the Bahrainis resist, the more effective the strategy. The Saudis have acted to crush the Bahraini rising. The Iranians have countered by setting the stage for intensification.

The question now is whether the Saudi attacks intimidate the demonstrators or cause them to become more aggressive.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this piece incorrectly stated that several media outlets reported Saudi troops fired on Bahraini demonstrators in Manama’s Pearl Square on March 16. Iran’s Al-Alam Television reported Saudi troops firing while other outlets reported the incident as Bahraini troops firing on protesters in Pearl Square. The piece has since been corrected.



Read more: Saudi Troops Reportedly Fire On Bahraini Protesters | STRATFOR
23761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rising interest rates? What to do? on: March 16, 2011, 12:05:12 PM
OK folks, for those of us who believe interest rates are going to start really climbing, what investments do we avoid and what do we do to protect ourselves?  What does a hunker down strategy look like?

23762  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Davis released, families get US visas (Oy vey!) on: March 16, 2011, 12:01:30 PM
CIA contractor Raymond Davis was released from prison in Lahore, Pakistan, on March 16. The release comes after several weeks of negotiations between Pakistani and U.S. government officials as to whether Davis had diplomatic immunity when he shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore on Jan. 27 as they allegedly attempted to rob him. Davis has now left Pakistan, and reportedly is flying to London.

Instead of being released on the basis of diplomatic immunity, Davis, facing murder charges, was released after being pardoned by the families of the individuals who were killed. Later reports indicate that “blood money” was paid to the families of the victims, prompting them to say that Davis should not stand trial for the murders, in accordance with Pakistani law and Shariah. The families reportedly also received U.S. visas in exchange for absolving Davis of his actions. The resolution was apparently brokered by Saudi authorities, who visited Pakistan to convince the families of those killed to accept the bargain in the interest of ending the diplomatic problems caused by Davis’ arrest.

STRATFOR is now watching to see how the Pakistani public and opposition forces respond to Davis’ release. As STRATFOR noted earlier, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has called for Davis to be executed, while other opposition movements have called for Davis to stand trial, on both murder and espionage charges. While STRATFOR earlier predicted that the release of Davis could cause serious unrest, the deal — which was conducted in a accordance with the Pakistani justice system — may convince mainstream groups to believe that justice has been served. More radical groups may be dissatisfied with Davis’ departure, however, and turn to violence to express their sentiments. Though the Saudi-brokered agreement will help mute the overall reaction to the Davis release, U.S. companies and U.S. citizens in Pakistan should remain prepared for potential threats.

23763  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bug Out Planning on: March 16, 2011, 11:51:49 AM


Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the importance of having an emergency evacuation plan in light of the unrest in Bahrain and the disaster in Japan.


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

The recent political instability in Bahrain, on the heels of the nuclear disaster in Japan, highlights the need to have an emergency plan in place before you need it.

A basic plan consists of three critical factors, the first being a prearranged rendezvous point for family or loved ones. The second factor is a communications plan in the event of cell phone tower failure; one of the tools you can utilize is a satellite telephone, which enables you to communicate outside the affected area whenever your cell phone coverage and Internet is out. The third factor is having a primary and secondary route of escape.

When looking at primary and secondary evacuation routes, geography is going to be critical. You need to think about your means of escape when, for example, your primary route may be taken out, due to things such as a tsunami. Your secondary means of escape can include either roads or trains, as well as many other global providers that you can subscribe to that will actually come and assist you in those kinds of events. These service are usually fee-based, and you usually have to sign up beforehand, but these services can aid you in getting out of the disaster zone either by air, road or by backpack if need be. They can also provide medical assistance if you are injured.

In a politically unstable environment, such as Bahrain on March 15, it is very important for you to have good intelligence as to what is taking place. Good intelligence will provide that tripwire and will enable you to make the decision to depart the affected area before it is too late. You can stay abreast of good intelligence by monitoring the local news and radio, websites such as STRATFOR, as well as any sources you may have in the local community that are linked to the government that may help understand what could be taking place.

For example, many of our readers, as well as many of our multinational clients, were able to reposition many of their personnel and assets out of Bahrain by monitoring our very detailed analyses as to what was taking place.

The “Above the Tearline” aspect of emergency action plans is: Don’t expect your government or your company to help you for 48 to 72 hours. Make a plan for yourself and know when it is time to execute it and get out.

23764  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 50 Japanese heros on: March 16, 2011, 11:47:00 AM
RESPECT!!!
=====================

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/15/eveningnews/main20043554.shtml

The Fukushima 50: Not afraid to die
If the Fukushima nuclear plant's crisis is not calmed soon, Japan will need more brave volunteers to battle it


By Jim Axelrod


Since the disaster struck in Japan, about 800 workers have been evacuated from the damaged nuclear complex in Fukushima. The radiation danger is that great.

However, CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that a handful have stayed on the job, risking their lives, to try to save the lives of countless people they don't even know.

Although communication with the workers inside the nuclear plant is nearly impossible, a CBS News consultant spoke to a Japanese official who made contact with one of the 50 inside the control center.

The official said that his friend, one of the Fukushima 50, told him that he was not afraid to die, that that was his job.
23765  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: March 16, 2011, 11:44:34 AM
Tangent: If I remember correctly Miami had a mayoralty election voided in 199? for vote irregularlities-- which greatly added to my suspicions during the Bush-Gore recount of 2000.
23766  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PPI increase a lot bigger than expected , , except by those who read this forum on: March 16, 2011, 11:35:57 AM
That seems rather clear to me  tongue shocked cry   I fear when the reversal in low rates comes it will be far faster and more brutal than Ben "Helicopter" Bernanke, BO, et al realize.
===============
The Producer Price Index (PPI) increased 1.6% in February To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 3/16/2011


The Producer Price Index (PPI) increased 1.6% in February, smashing the consensus expected gain of 0.7%.  Producer prices are up 5.6% versus a year ago.

The February rise in the PPI was led by food and energy prices. Food prices increased 3.9% while energy increased 3.3%. The “core” PPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.2%, matching consensus expectations.
 
Consumer goods prices rose 2.1% in February and are up 7.3% versus last year.  Capital equipment prices were up 0.1% in February and are up 0.8% in the past year.
 
Core intermediate goods prices increased 1.1% in February and are up 5.4% versus a year ago.  Core crude prices increased 2.3% in February and are up 28.4% in the past twelve months.
 
Implications: The inflation problem at the producer level continues to worsen. In the past year producer prices are up 5.6%, and the data clearly show accelerating inflation. Producer prices are up at a 10% annual rate in the past six months and a 13.8% rate in the past three months. Although the Federal Reserve can still claim “core” inflation is low for consumers, they can’t say the same at the producer level. While much of the gain was due to food and energy, the core PPI, which excludes food and energy, still increased 0.2% in February and is up at a 4% annual rate in the past three months. Meanwhile, further up the production pipeline, core intermediate prices increased 1.1% in February and are up at a 10.9% annual pace in the past three months; core crude prices increased 2.3% in February and are up at a staggering 47% rate in the past three months. Based on these inflation signals and the current state of the economy, the Fed’s monetary policy is completely inappropriate. In other recent inflation news, import prices increased 1.5% in February and are up 5.3% versus a year ago.  This is not all due to oil.  Ex-petroleum, import prices were up 1.1% in February and up 3.2% in the past year.  Export prices increased 1.2% in February and are up 6.8% versus a year ago.  Excluding agriculture, export prices were up 0.9% in February and 5.3% in the past year.
23767  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Housing starts down a lot on: March 16, 2011, 11:31:13 AM
Housing starts fell 22.5% in February to 479,000 units at an annual rate To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 3/16/2011


Housing starts fell 22.5% in February to 479,000 units at an annual rate, well below the consensus expected pace of 566,000. Starts are down 20.8% versus a year ago.

The decline in February was mostly due to a huge 46.1% drop in multi-family starts, which can be extremely volatile from month to month. Single-family starts also dropped 11.8% and are down 28.8% versus a year ago.
 
Starts fell in all major regions of the country.
 
New building permits fell 8.2% in February to a 517,000 annual rate, coming in well below the consensus expected pace of 570,000. Permits are down 20.5% versus a year ago with permits for single-family units down 27.0%.
 
Implications:  The housing news today was not pretty. Starts fell very close to the April 2009 low, which is also the lowest level on record dating back to the 1950s. After spiking up sharply in January, multi-family units, which are extremely volatile from month to month, pulled back in February. Meanwhile, single-family starts also fell and continue to scrape along the bottom. Some of the February decline is probably due to unusually bad winter weather, which shifts builders away from breaking ground and gets them inside. Supporting this idea, home completions jumped 14%, and both single- and multi-family completions increased. In addition, anyone who has taken out a mortgage lately knows the lending process can be like torture. We still believe housing will normalize to much higher rates of both building activity and sales over the next several years, but unreasonably tight credit right now is slowing down that progress. Also, despite the weakness in February, the general upward trend in multi-family units remains intact. That should continue, in part due to tight credit but also foreclosures, as owners shift to renting.    In other recent news, the Empire State index, a measure of manufacturing activity in that state, increased to +17.5 in March from +15.4 in February, a larger increase than the consensus expected.  So while housing suffers, manufacturing continues to improve.
23768  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Survivalist issues on: March 15, 2011, 10:53:43 PM
Turns out my expired  cry potassium iodine is made by these folks:

http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2003/ucm147362.htm


Whole Foods has been out since Saturday; I'm on the waiting list for the next shipment.

23769  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Fed says "What we worry?" on: March 15, 2011, 08:17:36 PM
Research Reports

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fed Pays Lip Service to Better Economy and Higher Inflation To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 3/15/2011


The Federal Reserve made several changes to the language of its statement today, acknowledging an improving economy and higher overall inflation.  However, the Fed also made it clear it does not think any of this warrants a change in the stance of monetary policy. 

The Fed was more bullish on the economy, saying it was on a “firmer footing” and that the labor market was “improving gradually.”  Previously the Fed had said economic growth was not enough to generate “significant improvement” in the labor market.  The Fed recognized faster growth in household spending and, importantly, finally omitted long-used language that household spending was being constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, declining housing wealth and tight credit.   
 
On inflation, the Fed noted the rapid rise in commodity prices, such as oil, and said it would pay attention to these prices.  However, the Fed also said the higher inflation related to commodity prices was likely to be “transitory” and that underlying inflation is trending downward.  This is even more dovish than the prior language that said underlying inflation is “subdued.”  In other words, the Fed will watch commodity prices but is not going to change policy because of them.  In essence, the Fed thinks it’s a spectator of, not a participant in, commodity price changes, even though it controls the supply of the currency in which these commodities are denominated.
 
One subtle change in the statement was that the Fed took out a reference to “slow progress” toward its objectives of maximum employment and price stability. 
Otherwise, as everyone expected, the Fed made no direct changes to the stance of monetary policy today, leaving the target range for the federal funds rate at 0% to 0.25%.  In addition, the Fed maintained its pledge to keep the funds rate at this level for an “extended period.”  The Fed also reiterated its commitment – initially made in early November – to purchase $600 billion in long-term Treasury securities by mid-2011.  These purchases are on top of reinvesting (into long-term Treasury securities) principal payments on its pre-existing portfolio of mortgage securities.
 
The Fed is not going to raise rates in 2011 but continued economic improvement and gradual increases in the “core” inflation measures the Fed watches should put the Fed in the position to start raising rates early next year.
   
Please click the link above to view the entire commentary.
23770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Saudi Arabia & the Arabian Peninsula on: March 15, 2011, 03:06:29 PM
A tangential observation:

What lesson might the House of Saud be drawing from the apparent success of Kaddaffy Duck vs. the results obtained by Mubarak?

23771  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Damage Potential of Stick -vs- Light Protection on: March 15, 2011, 03:00:00 PM
Hence:

"The greater the dichotomy the profounder the transformation: Higher consciousness through harder contact." (c DBI)
23772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A very bright friend writes on: March 15, 2011, 02:58:07 PM

I am somewhat disappointed in this Stratfor analysis because it betrays an important ignorance of the nuclear plant in question.  Obtaining accurate information is the most difficult task these days.

The fuel rods encase the uranium.  They are the primary containment.  The fact that the rods were exposed does not increase the threat of lethal radiation unless there are breaks in the rods.  However, the rods themselves are encased in a containment chamber, the second level of containment.  In three of the four reactors at Fukushima Daiichi there are no feared breaks in those containment chambers.  This morning, it was feared that there may have been a break in a pipe leading to this containment chamber at Reactor 4.  However, subsequent inspection finds this chamber also to be fine.  

The cooling chamber reportedly damaged in one reactor is not the same thing as the containment chamber.  This chamber is a ring that circulates water within the containment chamber.

There have been discrepancies as to whether the amounts of radiation measured are in micorseiverts or milliseiverts.  But take the larger of the two measures and relate these measurements to Fred’s chart that he provided.  There has been a reading of 40 milliseiverts for a short time between Reactors #3 and #4.  That is the highest reported reading so far.

There is also a third level of containment at these plants, the meltdown floors that remain intact in all 4 reactors.  If there were a complete core meltdown, the residue would accumulate on these floors inside the containment chambers.  After it cooled, then there would have to be a thorough removal of the residue.  However, there is little likelihood of any significant amounts of radiation escaping these units.

Also, the danger of the radiation level depends upon the element(s) causing the radiation.  Each different element has a different half life.  Some of these half-lives are as short as 5 days.  Others are longer.  There are no reliable reports as yet identifying the particular elements that comprise the radiation levels measured at different locations.

I am not a nuclear engineer.  I have not stayed recently at a Holiday Inn Express.  However, I have taken the time to read extensively about the construction of these plants that use nuclear energy to boil water that in turn produces the steam that powers the machines that generate the electricity.  So far, no one has been killed from radiation.  The explosions are the product of the cooling efforts.  The flaw in the emergency procedures involved the back up diesel generators that turned out to be incompatible with the older electrical outlets at these plants (think of trying to insert newer three pronged electrical plugs into older two prong electric outlets).

I am looking for the facts – not opinions as to what might happen.  So far, there is a lot of fear and few facts.

=========
and a response:

From what I have been able to gather in the past few days, of primary concern is the embrittlement of the hot reactor vessels due to contact with seawater during the cooling efforts.
 
A couple of links that may help with understanding.
 
This from MIT.
http://mitnse.com/
 
And this from industry folks. Caveat:Fox/Henhouse...
http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/default.aspx
 
23773  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some rather large developments in Bahrain on: March 15, 2011, 01:54:14 PM
Due to our attention deficit created by Libya and Japan, this major story is not getting much attention.  Some huge details here: Saudis into Bahrain against the wishes of Baraq, ambassadors withdrawn between Iran and Bahrain, an apparently determined majority of the population against the rule of those who enable the presence of our 5th Fleet, and more.  Heads up folks!

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

MANAMA—Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency and handed wide powers to the armed forces, as it moved to quell weeks of demonstrations by mainly Shiite protesters a day after the arrival of Saudi troops.

Bahrain also temporarily withdrew its ambassador from Tehran, after Iran described the arrival of the troops as an "occupation."

 WSJ's Jerry Seib reports Saudi Arabia has sent troops to quell violence in Bahrain, in defiance of a U.S. order not to get involved.
.Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia denied a report that one of its soldiers had been shot dead by a protester.

Bahrain television reported a member of the security forces had died after being run over by a protester. The government said the state of emergency gives Bahrain's army and security forces a mandate "to take the measures and procedures necessary to preserve the safety of the nation and its people." Bahrain has seen violent clashes over the past few days between security forces, antigovernment demonstrators and pro-regime loyalists, marking an escalation of tensions in the strategic Arab Gulf state, where a swelling number of protesters have taken control of the key financial district and are calling for the downfall of the monarchy.

Regional Upheaval
Track events day by day.

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.More photos and interactive graphics
.On Tuesday, members of opposition groups reported clashes in Sitra and Shiite and Sunni villages near the capital between progovernment and antigovernment parties.

"There have been attacks in six villages," said Abdul Khalil, a senior member of the moderate Al Wefaq party. "They [pro-government mobs] attacked the Shia and Sunni villages. They had guns and security forces had to use tear gas. This is a terrible and complicated situation."

In the Shiite town of Sitra, pro-government vigilantes armed with knives, swords and batons went on a rampage through the village, one eyewitness said. Police had mobilized outside the local health center by late afternoon, said Mustafa Altooq, 38 years old, who went to visit his wounded brother. He described a chaotic scene of bodies being brought to the health center in the back of cars.

Ali Ibrahim, a consultant at the capital's Salmaniya hospital, said a Sitra man in his 20s died of a serious skull injury, and about an additional 60 people were being treated at the hospital from wounds inflicted by bird shot and rubber bullets. He said casualties were arriving from clashes in villages near Manama.

 Bahrain's king announces a state of emergency a day after Saudi forces arrived to help quell mass protests in the country. Video courtesy of Reuters.
.The White House on Tuesday called for "calm and restraint" on all sides, warning that the use of force and sectarian violence by either the Saudis or Shiite opposition groups "will only worsen the situation."

On Monday, Gulf Cooperation Council states responded to a request from Bahrain's ruling al-Khalifa family to dispatch the first deployment of Arab troops across national borders since a revolt in Tunisia in December sparked unrest across the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia said that 1,000 of its soldiers took part and the United Arab Emirates said that 500 of its police officers had arrived at Bahrain's request.

On Tuesday, police helicopters circled overhead as tens of thousands of antigovernment demonstrators marched through the capital to protest the presence of Gulf troops in Bahrain and to call for the downfall of the monarchy.

They marched peacefully to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the heart of Manama's financial district.

"If we don't win, then we will die," said Muntadar Jaffa, a 20-year-old engineering student who lives on the outskirts of Manama. "People will not leave the streets or go home."

The U.S. is deeply concerned about hard-liners within the Shiite community, who have longstanding ties to Iran and Hezbollah and could try to provoke a military response from the Saudis, risking a wider conflict, officials said.

The U.S. hopes to avoid further escalation. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a visit to Egypt in Cairo, spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud about the situation in Bahrain. She said she was "particularly concerned" about the violence and the potential for escalation. About her call to the foreign minister, Mrs. Clinton said she told him all sides "must take steps now to negotiate toward a political solution," not a military one.

The State Department dispatched Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, to Bahrain, where he "working the issue aggressively on the ground as we speak," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.

The U.S. had tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade its Saudi allies to keep their forces out of the fray.

Tensions between President Barack Obama and the Saudi king flared in February over Mr. Obama's push for the immediate exit of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, rather than the graceful exit supported by the Saudis.

Officials and diplomats said the Saudis now appeared to be charting a largely independent course in response to unrest in Bahrain.

23774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 15, 2011, 01:42:02 PM
Another variable to consider here is that American nuclear power would be run by Americans, not Japanese.  On the whole, I'd rather have the Japanese running things when you absolutely positively don't want to have an inadvertent clusterfcuk. embarassed
23775  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: March 15, 2011, 01:38:31 PM
We believe in you GD  smiley
23776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: March 15, 2011, 01:37:38 PM
When the chips are down, you see what people are made of.  Respect for the Japanese.
23777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Stanley Owsley on: March 15, 2011, 10:03:10 AM
LA Times

Nearly everyone familiar with the history of the 1960s has heard of Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey, the pranksters who spread the gospel of psychedelics to the countercultural generation. But far fewer remember Owsley Stanley.

Stanley, who died Saturday at age 76, was arguably as pivotal as Leary and Kesey for altering minds in the turbulent '60s. Among a legion of youthful seekers, his name was synonymous with the ultimate high as a copious producer of what Rolling Stone once called "the best LSD in the world … the genuine Owsley." He reputedly made more than a million doses of the drug, much of which fueled Kesey's notorious Acid Tests — rollicking parties featuring all manner of psychedelic substances, strobe lights and music. Tom Wolfe immortalized Stanley as the "Acid King" in the counterculture classic "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" (1968).

The music that rocked Kesey's events was made by the Grateful Dead, the iconic rock band of the era that also bears Stanley's imprint. His chief effect on the band stemmed not merely from supplying its musicians with top-grade LSD but from his technical genius: As the Dead's early sound engineer, Stanley, nicknamed "Bear," developed a radical system he called the "wall of sound," essentially a massive public address system that reduced distortion and enabled the musicians to mix from the stage and monitor their playing.

"Owsley was truly important in setting the example of someone who would go to almost any length, beyond what anyone would think reasonable, to pursue the goal of perfection … sonic perfection, the finest planet Earth ever saw," Grateful Dead publicist Dennis McNally said Monday. "They never would have done that without Bear. Furthermore, the greater San Francisco scene never would have been what it was without the opportunity for thousands of people to experience psychedelics, which would not have happened without Bear."

Stanley, who moved to Australia more than 30 years ago, was driving his car in a storm near the town of Mareeba in Queensland when he lost control and crashed, said Sam Cutler, a longtime friend and former Grateful Dead tour manager. He died at the scene. His wife, Sheilah, sustained minor injuries.

Described by Cutler as a man who held "very firm beliefs about potential disasters," Stanley relocated to Australia because he believed it was the safest place to avoid a new ice age. He was a fanatical carnivore who once said that eating broccoli may have contributed to a heart attack several years ago. In his later years he was mainly a sculptor and jeweler, and his works were sought by many in the music industry, including the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, Cutler said.

"He was a very sophisticated man," Cutler said, "an amalgam of scientist and engineer, chemist and artist."

With artist Bob Thomas, Stanley designed the Dead's distinctive logo: a skull emblazoned with a lightning bolt. He also recorded about 100 of the band's performances, many of which later were released as albums. He once said that he considered preserving the live concerts one of his most important accomplishments.

Born Augustus Owsley Stanley III in Kentucky on Jan. 19, 1935, he was the grandson of a Kentucky governor and son of a naval commander. His nickname, Bear, reputedly was inspired by the profuse chest hair he sprouted in adolescence.

He studied engineering briefly at the University of Virginia before dropping out and joining the Air Force, where he trained as a radio operator. After completing his military service in 1958, he moved to California and worked at a variety of jobs, including a stint at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. He also studied ballet, Russian and French.

He enrolled at UC Berkeley in 1963 as the Free Speech Movement was erupting and drugs such as LSD began flowing. He got his first taste of LSD in April 1964. "I remember the first time I took acid and walked outside," he told Rolling Stone in 2007, "and the cars were kissing the parking meters."

That experience convinced him that he needed a steady and trustworthy supply. He found a recipe at the campus library. Then, with a chemistry major named Melissa Cargill, he started a lab and began manufacturing a very pure form of the drug.

His lab was raided twice; Stanley spent two years in prison. According to "A Long Strange Trip," McNally's history of the Grateful Dead, Stanley estimated that he had produced enough LSD to provide about 1.25 million doses between 1965 and 1967.

After his release from prison in 1972, he returned to the Dead and began working on a new sound system, a monolithic collection of speakers and microphones that channeled the music through a single cluster of equipment. The band introduced it in 1974 at San Francisco's Cow Palace, but it was too expensive to sustain and Stanley later gave most of it away. But his ideas were later adopted by concert equipment makers.

Not everyone was a fan of the system. "It was always malfunctioning," Country Joe McDonald, of the '60s psychedelic band Country Joe & the Fish, said in an interview Monday. "The Grateful Dead and their extended family were like a unit, a nine-headed hydra. They did things their own way. People loved it. It was part of their mystique." Stanley, whom McDonald knew slightly and remembered as "kind of an obnoxious" person, "fit in really well."

For a brief time Stanley was the Grateful Dead's main financial backer and put them up in a pink stucco house in Watts, where he had moved his LSD lab. A 1966 Los Angeles Times profile described Stanley roaring up to a Sunset Boulevard bank on a motorcycle with wads of money crammed in his helmet, pockets and boots. The Times' and other accounts described him as an LSD millionaire, a status Stanley denied. But it inspired a Dead song, "Alice D. Millionaire." He also was immortalized in a Steely Dan composition, "Kid Charlemagne," and in a Jimi Hendrix recording of the Beatles' "Day Tripper," in which Hendrix can be heard calling out "Owsley, can you hear me now?"

Stanley downplayed his influence on the psychedelic explosion, explaining that he began producing LSD only to ensure the quality of what he ingested.

"I just wanted to know the dose and purity of what I took into my own body. Almost before I realized what was happening, the whole affair had gotten completely out of hand. I was riding a magic stallion. A Pegasus," he told Rolling Stone. "I was not responsible for his wings, but they did carry me to all kinds of places."

In addition to his wife, he is survived by sons Pete and Starfinder; daughters Nina and Redbird; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

23778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hollywood & Holy War on: March 15, 2011, 08:49:02 AM


“We should never lose sight of the fact that, no matter how entertaining a picture may be or how much money it may make, it can do our country a great deal of harm if it plays into the hands of our enemies.” – Samuel Goldwyn, Hollywood producer

In 2006, five American soldiers raped and murdered a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdered other members of her family. The participants were convicted by U.S. civilian or military courts and sentenced to up to 110 years each; the ringleader, Steven Dale Green, is serving life without possibility of parole.

This horrific crime, rather than any of the countless selfless and heroic incidents performed by the U.S. military in our current wars, served as inspiration for filmmaker Brian De Palma’s 2007 barely-fictionalized movie version called Redacted. De Palma may have been the director of such popular fare as Scarface and Mission:Impossible, but American audiences showed exactly how they felt about this vile denigration of our warriors: Redacted scraped in a career-killing box office pittance of $25,000 on opening weekend.

But don’t underestimate the film’s impact abroad. John Rosenthal at Pajamas Media reports confirmation that the Muslim shooter who killed two American soldiers and wounded a third at the Frankfurt Airport earlier this month in an act of terrorism was inspired by YouTube clips from Redacted. They were presented as actual footage – along with Arabic music, text, and voiceover – in a propaganda video posted under the title “American Soldiers Rape our Sisters! Awake Oh Ummah.” (The ummah is the worldwide Muslim community.)

For better or worse, Hollywood has been called the greatest propaganda machine in human history. But what propaganda is it sending out about America and fundamentalist Islam? About terrorism? About our military and the war effort? Are Hollywood’s messages promoting our values, cultural vigor and national unity? Or are they playing into the hands of our enemy, as Samuel Goldwyn warned against?

While writing the screenplay for the movie Superman Returns several years ago, the screenwriters and director deliberately changed Superman’s classic credo – “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” – to “truth, justice, and all that stuff,” because they felt the phrase “American Way” has become loaded and outdated. The film grossed $391 million worldwide, spreading the message that Hollywood filmmakers, and presumably Americans in general, can’t even bring themselves to say “the American Way” with an unconflicted sense of pride that would have been taken for granted decades ago.

Every time Hollywood sends out such weak, apologetic cultural signals or makes such anti-American propaganda as George Clooney’s Syriana, which has been used as a recruitment tool to radicalize young Muslims; or Leonardo DiCaprio’s spy thriller Body of Lies, which puts our CIA on the same low moral footing as terrorists; or Matt Damon’s political action thriller The Green Zone, which revisits the tired leftist fantasy that America went to war in Iraq on the basis of a Bush lie; every time Hollywood produces such ideologically subversive fare, the message is reinforced here and abroad that we are the bad guys, and that our geopolitical meddling, not global jihad, is the genesis of Islamic terrorism.

Every time Hollywood rewrites history to suit its narrative of moral equivalence – as with the Crusades epic Kingdom of Heaven, which suggests that Christians are ruthless hypocrites, Muslims are religiously tolerant, and no one has a legitimate claim to Jerusalem – then Hollywood betrays historical truth, undercuts our moral standing and empowers our enemy.

Every time Hollywood dismisses the war on terror as “the politics of fear” and portrays Muslims as victims of our Islamophobia – as in an episode of The Simpsons, in which Midwestern oaf Homer falsely suspects a local Muslim couple of plotting to blow up a mall, or in the movie Flightplan, in which star Jodie Foster falsely accuses Arab airline passengers of kidnapping her daughter – the world takes note and Islamism advances.

And every time Hollywood churns out another anti-war movie that depicts our soldiers and their families struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, like Tobey McGuire’s Brothers, it confirms for the world what Usama bin Laden always says: The American soldier is a paper tiger. He is weak and fears death. We, on the other hand, love death more than life. We brought down one superpower – Russia – and we can bring down America.

Meanwhile the Islamists are feeding each other a steady diet of fist-pumping propaganda videos of infidels being beheaded, sniper attacks on soldiers in Iraq, paramilitary training, religious exhortations to kill Jews and Americans – and Hollywood depictions of American soldiers as raping, murdering occupiers.

Our conflict with fundamentalist Islam is the epic, defining challenge of our time. We’re at war with an enemy that, unlike us, has absolutely no crisis of confidence, no capacity for apology, and no anguished need to be liked by the rest of the world. Hollywood, post-9/11, too often undermines America in that fight at home and abroad, in ways both subtle and sweeping. It is broadcasting signals to a receptive world that we lack the cultural confidence, the moral authority, and the will to oppose evil – and that, like a dying animal, we are now easy prey for the jackals.
23779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prager: The Other Tsunami on: March 15, 2011, 08:30:02 AM
It is very difficult to hate babies.

It takes a special person.

As morally wrong as it is to murder innocent adults, mankind seems to have a built-in revulsion against killing babies. If a baby does not evoke any tenderness, if a baby is regarded as worthy of being deliberately hurt or murdered, we know that we have encountered a degree of evil that few humans -- even among murderers -- can relate to.

That is why what Palestinian terrorists did to a Jewish family on the West Bank this past weekend deserves far more attention than it received.

Normally, Palestinian atrocities get little attention -- certainly far less attention than Israeli apartment-building on the West Bank receives. But this particular atrocity got even less attention than usual because the world was focused on the terrible tsunami that hit Japan.

On Friday night, Palestinian terrorists slipped into a Jewish settlement, entered a home and stabbed the father, the mother and three of their children to death: an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a three-month-old baby.

In order to understand what those actions mean, a seemingly separate incident needs to be recalled: the prolonged sexual attack by up to 200 Egyptian men on Lara Logan, chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, in Tahrir Square, Cairo a few weeks ago. It was reported that after stripping her naked and then molesting and beating her, the men kept shouting, "Jew, Jew!"

The two incidents tell the same tale. In much of the Arab Muslim and some of the non-Arab Muslim world today (such as Iran), "Jew" is not a person. "Jew" is not even merely the enemy. In fact, there is no parallel on Earth to what "Jew" means to a hundred million, perhaps hundreds of millions of Muslims.

Think of any conflict in the world -- Pakistan-India, China-Tibet, North Korea-South Korea, Tamil-Sinhalese. There are some deep hatreds there, and atrocities have been committed on one or both sides of those conflicts. But in none of those conflicts nor anywhere else is there something equivalent to what "Jew" means to millions of Muslims.

There really is only one historical parallel, and it, too, involved the word "Jew." The Nazis also succeeded in fully dehumanizing the word "Jew." Thus, for Nazism, it was as important (if not more so) to murder Jewish babies and children -- often through as cruel a means as possible (being burned alive, buried alive or thrown up in the air and impaled on bayonets) -- as it was to murder Jewish adults.

The human being does not have to learn to hate. It seems to come pretty naturally. Nor does the human being have to learn to murder, steal or rape. These, too, seem to be in the natural human repertoire of evils.

But the human being does have to learn to hate children and babies, and to regard the torture and murder of them as morally desirable acts. It takes years of work to undo normal protective human attitudes toward children.

That is precisely what the Nazis did and what significant parts of the Muslim world have done to the word "Jew." To them, the Jew is not just sub-human; the Jew -- and his or her children -- is sub-animal.

Palestinian and other Muslim spokesmen and their supporters on the left argue that this unique hatred is the fruit of Israeli policies, not decades of Nazi-like Jew-hatred saturating Islamic education, television, radio and the mosque. But for this to be true, unique hatred would have to be matched by unique evil on the Israelis' part.

Yet, among the injustices of the world, what the Israelis have done to the Palestinians would not even register on a moral Richter scale. The creation of Israel engendered about 750,000 Palestinian refugees (and an equal number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries) and the death of perhaps 10 thousand Palestinian Arabs. And all of that came about solely because Arab armies invaded Israel in order to destroy it at birth. Yet, when Pakistan was yanked from India and established as a Muslim state at the very same time Israel was established, that act engendered 12.5 million Muslim refugees and about a million dead Muslims (and similar numbers of Hindu refugees and deaths). Why then doesn't "Hindu" equal "Jew" in the Muslim lexicon of hate?

Here are some answers in brief:

First, many groups have been hated, but none have been hated as deeply as the Jews.

Second, Jew-hatred is often exterminationist, which is why Jew-hatred has little in common with ethnic bigotry, religious intolerance or even racism. Rarely, if ever, do any of them seek the extermination of the disliked or hated group.

Third, exterminationist Jew-haters are particularly dangerous people. Non-Jews who do not recognize Jew-hatred as the moral cancer it is are fools. Nazism was born in Jew-hatred and led to the death of more than 40 million non-Jews. Islamic terror started against Israeli Jews but has spread around the world. More fellow Muslims have now been murdered by Islamic terror than Jews have.

That is why the tsunami the world ignored this weekend -- the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim flood of Jew-hatred -- is the one that will prove far more dangerous to it than the Japanese one it understandably focused on.
23780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The bride who as groomed for a career on: March 15, 2011, 08:09:16 AM
second post of the morning

The bride who was groomed for a career
Lea Singh | 12 March 2011




Recently, a possibly tragic event took place: a highly educated young woman
I know got married. Radiant in her delicate lace dress, full of joy and
optimism about the future, this blushing bride was not yet aware of the
reality of her situation: that she has been groomed through her many years
of education to be, well, the groom – and this fact is very likely to cause
friction for her and her family as she tries to achieve the deepest hopes
and dreams of her heart.

On the heels of International Women’s Day, which celebrated all that
feminism has achieved for women’s progress in society and the workplace, it
seems that this young woman’s educational path is the modern girl's dream.
Whip-smart, she holds two degrees from Ivy League universities. She has had
scholarships and fellowships in the best places and with the most renowned
scholars. Just before her wedding she graduated from the most exclusive
educational program in her chosen professional field and passed the state
exams for her profession. Her career glistens ahead of her with sky-high
potential. She could be the next big name in her field, even a Nobel
laureate one day.

Only now, she has a husband, and should children come along…what happens
then?

The story of this young woman is far from unique. Many women experience
aspects of this story upon graduation from university and while beginning
their careers, as I did eight years ago. Having graduated from Harvard Law
School, passed the New York Bar and headed out to a major law firm to begin
my career, I asked myself at 26 where my life was headed. I was not yet
married, but I was beginning to realize that with my six-digit salary and
two-digit workday hours, I was in a great position to be my future family’s
financial provider, but not so much the actual wife and mother.

I wanted to get married and have children, and I deeply believed that
children needed their mommies. On the other hand, I also had a great burden
on my shoulders – the weight of my as-yet unfulfilled career “potential”. I
wanted to put my expensive, extensive and exclusive education to “good use”
and to make something of myself in the world, not just at home. In some ways
I felt like Frodo carrying the Ring of Power – what will I do with this
career potential of mine? Any high school dropout can stay at home with
children – but a successful career is not easily achieved or thrown away.

This is a very difficult dilemma for many young women today. The higher
women climb on the education ladder, the harder it is for many of them to
get off the track. There are several reasons for this, including the years
of invested sweat and money, as well as the deeply-held career goals that
have been created over years of academic success, but which clash in reality
with the role of a wife and mother.

These are not popular words, and many will surely take vehement issue with
what I am writing here. There are so many examples of women who seem to
“have it all” – substantial career success as well as seemingly functional
and happy children and families. And so many women – and men – want to
believe that women can be superheroes: CEOs and moms of five kids at the
same time.

But now as a stay-at-home mom, I have come to a different conclusion. Caring
for children, at least while they are small, is a full-time job, and
creating and maintaining a family’s home, including the cooking, is no easy
task either. Women have only two choices when it comes to these matters – do
it themselves or get someone else to do it for them. There is a price to pay
for getting others to do the work for you, and it’s not just financial. Much
of the emotional price for outsourced childcare is paid by the children. As
my husband remarked the other day, it’s funny how much they need us, since
we don’t really need them (at least in the same way). When I hear my
children crying “Mama”, I am glad that it is me – and not someone else -
who is there for them.

As I think about how I want to raise my little girl, there are things I want
to do differently. When I was growing up, academic success and my future
occupation were the focus of my world. I spent high school and university
pondering what kind of job I wanted to get after university. Somehow, it was
assumed that the role of wife and mother would eventually just coexist
alongside my career ambitions. It was never clarified how this would work in
practice.

I wish that as I was growing up, the role of wife and mother had been more
fully present as a respectable and important option that also needs time and
training, not just an afterthought that automatically tacks on to a career.
Much of the skill set I acquired in university is not very useful in the
home. Although I know how to write legal briefs, I wish I knew how to sew,
play family songs on the piano and cook without a cookbook, and even that I
was more familiar with caring for little ones and for a busy household. All
the chores I was protected from in order to enable me to study as I was
growing up – maybe I should have done them after all, including some
babysitting. I want to give these experiences to my daughter, so that she
will be better equipped not just for a career, but also for motherhood.

I even wish – and this is sure to get some hair frizzed – that it had been
explained to me that a high-flying career does not go well with family life.
Men and women really are different. When the man gets married, it is just a
sweet step in the direction of all his life dreams. He can climb up the
career ladder and still be a good father to his nine kids. He will get a
deep sense of meaning and fulfillment from providing for his family.

But where feminism has confused women, it has made us dream that we are the
same as men. Men are not mothers, and children don’t need them in the same
way as they will inevitably need us. So if we want to have children, we can’t
pretend to be men in our career plans and aspirations. Do we really want to
have someone else caring for our homes and our children? It does not have to
be that way. We need to embrace a model of life success that is less
career-oriented and more family-centered. Giving of oneself to others, while
it comes without diplomas, year-end bonuses and frequent-flyer miles, is
just as worthy and important as building up one’s own career.

Lea Singh writes from Canada.



23781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Oh, to be a princess! on: March 15, 2011, 08:08:02 AM
Oh, to be a princess!
Katie Hinderer | 12 March 2011



There is some concern in feminist circles that the current girly-girl
culture of adolescent and tween girls is harmful to their future as
independent, free thinking, strong women. The idea is that all those pink
tutus, perfect princesses, high heeled shoes and plastic jewelry is negating
the hard-fought struggle for equality of the sexes. This young generation
appears to be taking a step backward, embracing the frilly and feminine.

But is that really so bad? Perhaps there are benefits to the youngsters’
move away from sameness between the sexes; maybe the real problem comes in
when adults get involved in the equation. Maybe the younger generation sees
something that we adults are missing in the princess, girly-girl trend.

For example, a young girl’s perception of what makes a princess is largely
based on the movies they watch and how adults talk to them. When a
five-year-old is complaining that she wants a new toy and her mother gives
in and says, “Oh, you’re such a princess!” the little girl files away in her
brain the information that complaining till you get what you want is the
right thing to do. But the same scene could be played with the mother
instead pointing out that Cinderella proved herself a princess by learning
how to deal with what she had, never complaining and re-using her old
clothes to make something new.

After all, the princesses in most Disney movies, TV shows or fairy tales are
young women with virtues. While everything works out for them in the end, it
is not without struggle and determination on the girl’s part.

Thus, Cinderella is kind and innovative. She never loses her temper with the
new chores she is told to do. She never yells at her step-sisters. She’s
environmentally minded, thrifty and economical – re-using the things left
behind my others.

Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, my personal favorite, sees the true beauty
that exists beyond the exterior. She is honest and forthright, speaking her
mind when the situation calls for it. And she is a true friend, sticking up
for the Beast when everyone else is against him.

Tiana, from the Princess and the Frog, is an entrepreneur, working hard to
achieve the goal she had set when little. And yet, while working to achieve
this dream she is still kind to those in her life and puts others before
herself.

Jasmine, from Aladdin, refuses to be cowed by cultural norms that tell her
she must marry royalty. Instead she acts according to what she knows is
right, even if it goes against what society thinks and expects.

These princesses all have a lot to offer the younger generation if things
are explained in this way. But it would be up to parents to point out these
positive images of what a woman should be. Instead, what often happens is
that girly culture falls victim to adult sexualization. Suddenly Jasmine’s
ability to buck an unjust social trend is degraded to a midriff-baring
Halloween costume. Or Cinderella’s kindness and modesty is swapped for a
strapless poufy prom dress on a high school girl who thinks her knight will
be asking her to dance (and who knows what else) that night.

There is a notable difference between focusing on the virtues and positive
character traits of these princesses, and letting children (and adults)
parade around in the Disney-inspired clothing. True, high heels, make-up,
jewelry, and pretty dresses are normal childhood playthings for a young
girl, and perhaps this is where a gray area comes in. When is playing
dress-up just a good creative childhood pastime for a young girl and when is
it projecting an image of someone far beyond her age and wisdom?

The pageants and youngster beauty competitions play on this princess theme,
desiring to make even the most innocent and unassuming of children into next
top models or beauty icons. At that point princesses are no longer the
dramatis personae of a girl’s imagination and creativity, but rather a way
to flaunt exterior beauty and the perception of perfection. While it is true
that many of these events have a non-beauty related component, giving the
young lady a chance to showcase talents and offer her thoughts on weighty
matters, these too often become contrived routines specifically engineered
to win. The responses and talents are often missing the true princess
qualities of honesty, ingenuity and uniqueness.

Still, rejecting the girly-girl youth culture for these reasons would be
like failing to discern the princess beneath Cinderella’s rags. Wouldn’t it
be much more fruitful to encourage proper princess behavior? Adults could
give young girls a true concept of the strong, determined and courageous
women portrayed through their favorite princess, while encouraging them to
be equally inspirational in the realm of daily life.

Katie Hinderer is a freelance journalist currently based in Boston and
editor of the MercatorNet blog, Tiger Print.
23782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 15, 2011, 01:23:56 AM
Adding to the gist of my comments in the previous post:

Japan: Radiation Rising and Heading South
March 15, 2011 | 0551 GMT
The nuclear reactor emergency in Japan has deteriorated significantly. Two more explosions occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 15. The first occurred at 6:10am local time at reactor No. 2, which had seen nuclear fuel rods exposed for several hours after dropping water levels due to mishaps in the emergency cooling efforts. Within three hours the amount of radiation at the plant rose to 163 times the previously recorded level, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. Elsewhere radiation levels were said to have reached 400 times the “annual legal limit” at reactor No. 3. Authorities differed on whether the reactor pressure vessel at reactor No. 2 was damaged after the explosion, but said the reactor’s pressure-suppression system may have been damaged possibly allowing a radiation leak. Subsequently, a fire erupted at reactor No. 4 of the Fukushima Daini plant (where cooling systems had also failed) and was subsequently extinguished, but a hydrogen explosion occurred at No. 4 reactor as well, according to Kyodo. Kyodo also reported the government has ordered a no-fly zone 20 kilometers around the reactor, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan has expanded to 30 kilometers the range within which citizens should remain indoors and warned that further leaks are possible.

Reports from Japanese media currently tell of rising radiation levels in the areas south and southwest of the troubled plant due to a change in wind direction toward the southwest. Ibaraki prefecture, immediately south of Fukushima, was reported to have higher than normal levels. Chiba prefecture, to the east of Tokyo and connected to the metropolitan area, saw levels reportedly two to four times above the “normal” level. Utsunomiya, Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, reported radiation at 33 times the normal level measured there. Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, reported radiation at up to 9 times the normal level. Finally, a higher than normal amount was reported in Tokyo. The government says radiation levels have reached levels hazardous to human health. Wind direction is not easily predictable, constantly shifting, and reports say it could shift west and then back eastward to sea within the next day. Wind direction, temperature, and topography all play a crucial factor in the spread of radioactive materials as well as their diffusion. It is impossible to know how reliable these preliminary readings are but they suggest a dramatic worsening as well as a wider spread than at any time since the emergency began.

The Japanese government has announced a 30 kilometer no-fly zone and is expanding evacuation zones and urging the public within a wider area to remain indoors. The situation at the nuclear facility is uncertain, but clearly deteriorating. Currently, the radiation levels do not appear immediately life-threatening outside the 20km evacuation zone. But if there is a steady northerly wind, the potential for larger-scale evacuations of more populated areas may become a reality. This would present major challenges to the Japanese government. Further, the potential for panic-induced individual evacuations could trigger even greater problems for the government to manage.

23783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Japan on: March 15, 2011, 01:02:00 AM


Japanese Stocks Plunge More Than 13% on Radiation Fears

Stock markets plunged in Japan and across the rest of the
Asia-Pacific region on Tuesday amid fears of the impact of
the nuclear disaster and resulting concerns about radiation
exposure.

The Nikkei 225 index, already badly mauled on Monday,
plummeted as much as 13.5 percent on Tuesday to its lowest in
two years, exacerbating the 6.2 percent slump the previous
day, as warnings about a potential nuclear disaster in the
country aggravated the pain already felt by the quake and
tsunami. The broader Topix, or Tokyo Stock Price index, sank
12.5 percent.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/business/global/16iht-markets.html?emc=na
23784  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Damage Potential of Stick -vs- Light Protection on: March 15, 2011, 12:48:39 AM
WOOF!!!
23785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 'America Alone' on: March 15, 2011, 12:46:22 AM
Andraz:

Great to have you join the conversation here; I think you bring a perspective the interaction with which will enrich us all with greater intellectual diversity.

"Being poor in Slovenia is great. We are still socialist by heart. You know, the true kind. Free healthcare, free education, miniature crime rate, no gang activities, sub euroland average unemployment rate, no segregation, very good non expensive food !!"

When I visited Slovenia last year to do the seminar for Borut, I liked the country and its people very much.  That said, when I hear the line you offer here, the following comments/questions occur to me:

The name of this thread "America Alone" comes from a book by Canadian intellectual Mark Steyn.  In AA, the bulk of Steyn's analysis is through the analytical methods of demographics.   What you say here may be true, for now, of Slovenia and other parts of Europe, but the larger picture painted by MS is that Europe is not replacing its indigenous populations precisely because of the tax and regulatory burdens being placed upon those who would work and support themselves in order to raise families and that in order to continue the wonders you describe above this leads to allowing substantial immigration by populations (e.g. Arab and Turk) not committed to Euro values but to other ones which are inconsistent with Euro values and that therefor the foundations for a large clash are being built and that it could get very ugly.

The demographic numbers as painted by MS are quite scary.  Working from memory, 2.1 births are needed to maintain population levels, yet countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy and most of Europe have numbers which are dramatically below this-- often around 1.5 (!) or even as low as 1.3!  This means the Euro populations are both aging and contracting dramatically-- thus presenting profound actuarial difficulties for the Euro socialist model. 

The solution being tried for the past decades is what you call "a modern migration of peoples".   The problem is that these peoples come from cultures profoundly in divergence with Euro values and with little to no desire to become part of Europe and its values.  This is being aided and fomented by leftist/progressive/socialist/multicultural attitudes which are castrating Euro's self-respect and will to insist that those who come should come to be Europeans.   This, as best as I can tell, is what sets the stage for the growing ugliness which you discern.  Bottom line, the underlying trends are setting up a profound clash.

You may not be seeing it yet in Slovenia, but as best as we can tell looking from the outside, many parts of Europe are seeing and feeling the beginnings of this clash.

"A word on Islam in Europe,

"I add to the above finding of an European collegue, that the clouds seem darker from the other end. Islamization of Europe ? What? Gentlemen, this is a modern migration of peoples. This doom and gloom article mongering tactic is something alot of the rilers are doing. "Look, look people. The gypsy stole an apple. We told you, the gypsy is a thief. Put up walls and barriers so the thief cannot reach you anymore".

I have no idea at all about the gypsies, except that I know that Hitler had it in for them almost as much as he did for my people. (I am Jewish).  But what does this have to do with the arrival and growing strength of Islam in Europe.  Islam is NOT just another religion, it is a theocratic political doctrine as well, and one that has profoundly fascist elements (think of the various death fatwas and various murders (a.k.a. honor killings) for writing books, drawing cartoons, dating infidels, changing to other religions and so forth.

"It is with exactly the same rhetoric, and because of it, that I get from reading most of articles from GM, that Europe is starting to get alarmingly high nationalist responses, more and more so. Poland, Spain, Greece... Hungary (damn they are my neighbours!!) now has outspoken Fascist leadership. And I dont mean this in a "recycled American anti freedom kind of context" (your intended meaning here is not clear to me). Lynch the mystic, purge the unclean in the truest sense of the form. Paramilitary guard groups walking around Roma districts. To control the immigrant. To have a lid on the foreigner. Openly stating they will once again grant the state of Hungary direct access to the sea, like it used to have. (Not familiar with this-- at whose expense would this be?  Slovenia's) No matter though, most of my American colleagues throw the term Fascism around like its used underpants. Im used to it."

Perhaps this is directed at me?  Although I readily admit to be deliberately provocative with my choice of terms such as liberal (American use of the term) fascism and Islamic fascism, I like to think that I do it with some thought.  In order to not overload this thread with too many themes we can continue discussing this aspect of the conversation on the thread about"Fascism"?

"Thank the gods that the Germans are relatively normal at the moment. When shit goes downhill there, better put on a mask, because shit will be flying everywhere."

Part of the Mark Steyn hypothesis is precisely that, due to demographic trends, the Germans ARE going to places you fear they will go.  Already they begin their dance with Russia again.

"Europe, especially with its patient, the Balkans, is a fascinating tutti frutti melting pot of jenesaisquoi.. Or should I say stove?  With countless long forgotten grudges and vendettas that can be brought up to speed with the flinch of an eye. Depends on the need of course. We can't even decide what we want to be (tut tut, Ireland)."

Well, putting aside the reference to Ireland because I don't know to what you refer smiley my understanding is that Europe was doing diddly to stop the terrible situation that was developing in the former Yugoslavia and that it was America, a bit under Bush 1 and much more under Clinton, that stepped in to stop a gathering genocide.  Of course you know of this history much better than me and I stand ready, willing, and able for you to add to my understanding of these matters.

"And that stupendous rhetoric that I speak of above, VERY dangerously and carelessly incites the population. All you need is to bend the will of the Serbs, through some twisted, half assed "affair" and you get genocide veterans lining up in parliament to ANSWER THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE. And when you get a madman up in there, you get mad men everywhere around here again. And once more you will have people citing Star Wars over the news : "So this is how liberty dies...With thunderous applause.""

Again we circle the same point-- is the underlying problem the rhetoric of those concerned by the trends resulting from demographic contraction, or is the underlying problem the demographic contraction caused by an overburdensome socialistic state and multi-culti wimpiness?

"I am affraid the time of simple polar ideology is past us. We can no longer speak the way we (or should I say you, I am still a kid, basically) were able to speak in the 80s and the roaring 90s. Its not a us vs them question anymore. Its a us vs us, if anything. And people, especially the younger generations, are starting to feel this."

Hell, I go back to the 60s and 70s grin  Anyway, IMHO the foundation principles which guide our respective social orders matter profoundly.  It IS a matter of what you are willing to stand for.  If Europe will not insist that its values of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc be respected, then its immigrants will not be inclined to do so-- and the conflict which you fear becomes inevitable.   

When Spain came to conquer what is now Mexico, the Aztec Empire was based upon a religion of war, capturing the enemy, and cutting their still beating hearts from their chests and offering them to the Sun God.   The concept of Freedom of Religion does not cover this!  Nor does it cover "death fatwas and various murders (a.k.a. honor killings) for writing books, drawing cartoons, dating infidels, apostasy, teaching girls to read, women going out in public with their hair uncovered, and so forth."

"To sum up, I am not afraid of the Islamization of Europe in the slightest."

Maybe some time in the Muslim neighborhoods of Paris or Rotterdam, where the police fear to go, would change your mind?

"What I AM affraid of is this terribly misplaced narrative of an elated state of panic, that seemingly more and more anti-quasi left (true left doesnt exist anymore, not in Europe anyway) are utilizing."

Not sure of your meaning with "anit-quasi left".

"The pointing fingers and affair hunting. People are bored."

Or perhaps the factors which stifle them from breeding in numbers sufficient to maintain population have something to do with it?  Perhaps more than "bored" the better term is "stifled"?

, , ,

"Eurabia will come to pass, just like Rome has continued in the mantle of the Odoacer for a good century. In alot of ways, better off than before."

Illiterate American that I am, the term Odoacer goes right over my head with nary a look back smiley but I find what you say here to encapsulate the essence of something I do not understand at all.  How on earth is Europe better off as Eurabia?!?

"If a push comes to a shove here, I rather have petty social and religious incidents than a war in Europe. Again. GAHHH."

But what you may get is dhimmitude-- maybe not yet in Slovenia, but perhaps not so far away from you and perhaps in ways which will affect you in Slovenia.

Again,  I respect what you bring to this conversation.
23786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 14, 2011, 09:43:40 PM
I loathe the man as much as any of us here, but, as Glenn Beck says "The Truth has no agenda":  Bush left an incoherent mess that was unravelling rather quickly-- see the reports of Michael Yon in the last year of the Bush presidency.  Baraq simply has multiplied it.
23787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH New blast reported, containment vessel may be damaged on: March 14, 2011, 09:36:42 PM
A larger underlying theme here is one of distrust of the "experts" and the business and political interests involved.  The simple truth is that, although Chernobyl and TMI can be distinguised from Japan, in all three cases "the experts", business interests, and politicians swore "not to worry".  

Here in CA with the Diablo Canyon reactor being built on an earth quake vault, the experts, business interests, and politicians swore "not to worry".  Sorry but that strikes me as madness-- and so now I am leery of the reassurances of the experts, business interests, and the politicians.


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

Japan Faces Prospect of Nuclear Catastrophe as Employees Leave Plant

Japan faced the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident
Tuesday morning, as an explosion at the most crippled of
three reactors at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Station
damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency
workers were withdrawn from the plant, and much larger
emissions of radioactive materials appeared imminent,
according to official statements and industry executives
informed about the developments.

Prime Minsiter Naoto Kan of Japan was preparing to make a
televised address to the nation at 11 a.m. Tokyo time.

The sharp deterioration came after government officials said
the containment structure of the No. 2 reactor, the most
seriously damaged of three reactors at the Daichi plant, had
suffered damage during an explosion shorly after 6 a.m. on
Tuesday.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/world/asia/15nuclear.html?emc=na
23788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GCC/Saudis into Bahrain on: March 14, 2011, 04:33:06 PM
Analyst Reva Bhalla examines the Iranian dilemma with the Gulf Cooperation Council’s decision to deploy forces to Bahrain.


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

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries announced Monday that they were deploying military forces to Bahrain under the umbrella of the joint Peninsula Shield Forces. Now this is basically the U.S.-Saudi overt countermove to an Iranian covert destabilization campaign that it has been pursuing in the Persian Gulf region. The question now is how will the Iranians respond?

The reports of the GCC deployment comes just two days after U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates paid a visit to the Bahraini capital. The United States, the Saudis, and the rest of the GCC states have been monitoring very closely the level of Iranian involvement in the Bahraini opposition, understanding very well that the Iranians have a strategic interest in reshaping the political reality of the region in favor of the Shia, thereby destabilizing the balance of power in the region and placing in jeopardy vital U.S. military installations.

Understanding what’s at stake, the GCC countries have made their countermove to Iran’s destabilization campaign and are doing so with apparent U.S. backing. The question now is what do the Iranians do? The Iranians have in place a number of assets in Bahrain to escalate the protests there. But the more stories that come out on Shiites getting killed in the streets by Sunni forces in the security apparatus, the more pressure Iran would be putting on itself to get more overtly involved in the Bahraini crisis. It really isn’t clear that the Iranians are prepared to take such an overt option.

The Iranians much prefer operating in a covert space to shape the political realities on the ground. They did this very effectively in Iraq and Afghanistan, which they saw as a very high-reward and low-risk effort in order to get its strategic objectives met.

In the case of Bahrain, the Iranians face major logistical constraints in trying to project military power to an island that’s nestled between Saudi Arabia and Qatar – two Sunni powers — and an island that is also shielded by the U.S. 5th Fleet. Now the Iranians could choose to stand back but they would do so at the risk of looking ineffectual at a time when Shiites are coming under threat of Sunni forces. On the other hand, the Iranians could stick to their covert plan and use its covert assets in places like Afghanistan, Lebanon or even Saudi Arabia to try to ratchet up crises elsewhere in order to avoid having to get embroiled in a situation it doesn’t want to in Bahrain.

In the case of Iraq, of course the Iranians have a number of covert assets in place up to grab the U.S. attention there but that could also backfire. The United States is in the midst of withdrawal from Iraq and the more the Iranians get involved there, the more justified the United States would theoretically be in delaying its plans for withdrawal, which could completely derail the Iranian plan to consolidate its influence in the heart of the Arab world using its Shiite assets in Iraq.

The Iranian roadmap in the Persian Gulf appears to be off-track as a result of a pretty overt U.S. and Saudi countermove in the region. Now it’s not clear yet what the Iranians’ next steps are going to be, and it’s not clear that the Iranians know that either – but you can bet there is a lot of heavy debate taking place right now in Tehran.

23789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Damage to cables slowing traffic on: March 14, 2011, 01:02:37 PM
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704893604576199952421569210.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read
23790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Watson on: March 14, 2011, 12:58:22 PM


By STEPHEN BAKER
In the weeks since IBM's computer, Watson, thrashed two flesh-and-blood champions in the quiz show "Jeopardy!," human intelligence has been punching back—at least on blogs and opinion pages. Watson doesn't "know" anything, experts say. It doesn't laugh at jokes, cannot carry on a conversation, has no sense of self, and commits bloopers no human would consider. (Toronto, a U.S. city?) What's more, it's horribly inefficient, requiring a roomful of computers to match what we carry between our ears. And it probably would not have won without its inhuman speed on the buzzer.

This is all enough to make you feel reinvigorated to be human. But focusing on Watson's shortcomings misses the point. It risks distracting people from the transformation that Watson all but announced on its "Jeopardy!" debut: These question-answering machines will soon be working alongside us in offices and laboratories, and forcing us to make adjustments in what we learn and how we think. Watson is an early sighting of a highly disruptive force.

The key is to regard these computers not as human wannabes but rather as powerful tools, ones that can handle jobs currently held by people. The "intelligence" of the tools matters little. What counts is the information they deliver.

In our history of making tools, we have long adjusted to the disruptions they cause. Imagine an Italian town in the 17th century. Perhaps there's one man who has a special sense for the weather. Let's call him Luigi. Using his magnificent brain, he picks up on signals—changes in the wind, certain odors, perhaps the flight paths of birds or noises coming from the barn. And he spreads word through the town that rain will be coming in two days, or that a cold front might freeze the crops. Luigi is a valuable member of society.

Along comes a traveling vendor who carries a new instrument invented in 1643 by Evangelista Torricelli. It's a barometer, and it predicts the weather about as well as Luigi. It's certainly not as smart as him, if it can be called smart at all. It has no sense of self, is deaf to the animals in the barn, blind to the flight patterns of birds. Yet it comes up with valuable information.

In a world with barometers, Luigi and similar weather savants must find other work for their fabulous minds. Perhaps using the new tool, they can deepen their analysis of weather patterns, keep careful records and then draw conclusions about optimal farming techniques. They might become consultants. Maybe some of them drop out of the weather business altogether. The new tool creates both displacement and economic opportunity. It forces people to reconsider how they use their heads.

The same is true of Watson and the coming generation of question-answering machines. We can carry on interesting discussions about how "smart" they are or aren't, but that's academic. They make sense of complex questions in English and fetch answers, scoring each one for the machines' level of confidence in it. When asked if Watson can "think," David Ferrucci, IBM's chief scientist on the "Jeopardy!" team, responds: "Can a submarine swim?"

As these computers make their way into law offices, pharmaceutical labs and hospitals, people who currently make a living by answering questions must adjust. They'll have to add value in ways that machines cannot. This raises questions not just for individuals but for entire societies. How do we educate students for a labor market in which machines answer a growing percentage of the questions? How do we create curricula for uniquely human skills, such as generating original ideas, cracking jokes, carrying on meaningful dialogue? How can such lessons be scored and standardized?

These are the challenges before us. They're similar, in a sense, to what we've been facing with globalization. Again we will find ourselves grappling with a new colleague and competitor. This time around, it's a machine. We should scrutinize that tool, focusing on the questions it fails to answer. Its struggles represent a road map for our own cognitive migration. We must go where computers like Watson cannot.

Mr. Baker is the author of "Final Jeopardy—Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011).

23791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Supporting civilian supremacy? on: March 14, 2011, 12:50:32 PM
Our current strategy is incoherent.

==========
This from today's WSJ.  I'm not really sure I get "supporting civilian supremacy", as called for here, as being on point.  Hopefully Ya will continue our education.

By MIRA SETHI
Two months after Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, was assassinated by his own bodyguard for criticizing the country's blasphemy law, the only Christian member of the Pakistani cabinet, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was killed for doing his job—advocating protection of the country's two million Christians.

Taseer's assassination prompted a debate: Was the blasphemy law, introduced by Gen. Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s in his bid to "Islamize" Pakistan, being exploited for mundane interests? Was it leading to witch hunts? Bhatti's death should prompt Pakistanis to ask themselves an equally disquieting question: Does Pakistan have a future as a successful nation state, at peace with itself and the world?

The civilian government's reaction to Bhatti's death has outraged many Muslim and Christian Pakistanis. As after Taseer's murder, it retreated into vague bromides. At Bhatti's funeral in Islamabad, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani vowed to "do the utmost to bring the culprits to justice." There was no mention of who these culprits were (the Tehreek-e-Taliban of Punjab has claimed responsibility), no mention of the ideologies, religious parties and jihadi organizations fueling their actions, and no mention of the blasphemy laws that Bhatti had campaigned against.

But the deaths of Taseer and Bhatti are the outcome not just of the Pakistan People's Party abandonment of the principles that once made it an appealing, popular force. They are the result of a decades-long imbalance in governance and power, which now has the PPP and other liberal and centrist civilians cowering in fear.

The failure of the political classes to initiate democratic, constitutional reform after Pakistan's separation from India in 1947 enabled the military to quickly define "national interest" as an anti-India ideology. This ideology, a type of Islamic nationalism, is one from which the Pakistan military has reaped rich dividends. It has kept civilian politicians on the defensive and the people numbed.

With the onset of the Cold War the U.S. armed Pakistan for its own strategic purposes. When the Pakistani army undertook adventures creating instability in the region—wars with India and attempts, eventually successful, to build nuclear weapons—the U.S. suspended military and economic aid.

But the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 put the Pentagon and the Pakistani army on good terms again. This time, Gen. Zia extracted huge sums from Washington: Pakistan's army was paid billions of dollars in direct correlation to its usefulness in organizing an anti-Soviet Islamic jihad. The '90s saw a nasty separation—aid was suspended again—and a reunion followed after 9/11, when the U.S. needed Pakistan's help in Afghanistan.

Now Zia's "children" have come of age. Extremists of all stripes—the Taliban and the mujahedeen—roam the streets of Lahore and Karachi unchecked by the security agencies who once thought it would be a good idea to arm them. Anger and frustration fueled by inequality are making young Pakistanis turn to religion for answers.

As in Egypt, over 60% of the population of Pakistan is under 25. Unlike Egypt, they want an Islamic revolution, not a democratic one. Salman Taseer's police bodyguard—all of 26 years old—killed him for "insulting" the Prophet Muhammad. (The governor had criticized a manmade blasphemy law, not the Prophet, but his assassin didn't know the difference).

Slowly, the U.S. is beginning to understand that Pakistan's existential confusion is the result of the grand strategic designs of the Pakistani military, an army that has carried out three coups to thwart the development of a democratic political system. In the process, Pakistan's civilian leadership has been eliminated—Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto hanged, Benazir Bhutto, Taseer and Bhatti assassinated—the country dismembered, ethnic subnationalism, regional tension and inequalities aggravated.

The U.S. must support civilian supremacy and recognize the Pakistani army's game for what it is. Alarmed by the idea that if America leaves Afghanistan its U.S. funds will dwindle, the military is loath to crush the Islamist warriors who can be "calibrated" to deliver strategic value to it. Until the U.S. recognizes this, Pakistan's military will continue to hold the world to ransom.

Ms. Sethi, a native of Lahore, Pakistan, is assistant books editor at the Journal.

23792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Saudi forces into Bahrain on: March 14, 2011, 12:19:08 PM

By George Friedman

Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition force into Bahrain to help the government calm the unrest there. This move puts Iran in a difficult position, as Tehran had hoped to use the uprising in Bahrain to promote instability in the Persian Gulf region. Iran could refrain from acting and lose an opportunity to destabilize the region, or it could choose from several other options that do not seem particularly effective.

The Bahrain uprising consists of two parts, as all revolutions do. The first is genuine grievances by the majority Shiite population — the local issues and divisions. The second is the interests of foreign powers in Bahrain. It is not one or the other. It is both.

The Iranians clearly benefit from an uprising in Bahrain. It places the U.S. 5th Fleet’s basing in jeopardy, puts the United States in a difficult position and threatens the stability of other Persian Gulf Arab states. For the Iranians, pursuing a long-standing interest (going back to the Shah and beyond) of dominating the Gulf, the uprisings in North Africa and their spread to the Arabian Peninsula represent a golden opportunity.

The Iranians are accustomed to being able to use their covert capabilities to shape the political realities in countries. They did this effectively in Iraq and are doing it in Afghanistan. They regarded this as low risk and high reward. The Saudis, recognizing that this posed a fundamental risk to their regime and consulting with the Americans, have led a coalition force into Bahrain to halt the uprising and save the regime. Pressed by covert forces, they were forced into an overt action they were clearly reluctant to take.

We are now off the map, so to speak. The question is how the Iranians respond, and there is every reason to think that they do not know. They probably did not expect a direct military move by the Saudis, given that the Saudis prefer to act more quietly themselves. The Iranians wanted to destabilize without triggering a strong response, but they were sufficiently successful in using local issues that the Saudis felt they had no choice in the matter. It is Iran’s move.

If Iran simply does nothing, then the wave that has been moving in its favor might be stopped and reversed. They could lose a historic opportunity. At the same time, the door remains open in Iraq, and that is the main prize here. They might simply accept the reversal and pursue their main line. But even there things are murky. There are rumors in Washington that U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to slow down, halt or even reverse the withdrawal from Iraq. Rumors are merely rumors, but these make sense. Completing the withdrawal now would tilt the balance in Iraq to Iran, a strategic disaster.

Therefore, the Iranians are facing a counter-offensive that threatens the project they have been pursuing for years just when it appeared to be coming to fruition. Of course, it is just before a project succeeds that opposition mobilizes, so they should not be surprised that resistance has grown so strong. But surprised or not, they now have a strategic decision to make and not very long to make it.

They can up the ante by increasing resistance in Bahrain and forcing fighting on the ground. It is not clear that the Bahraini opposition is prepared to take that risk on behalf of Iran, but it is a potential option. They have the option of trying to increase unrest elsewhere in order to spread the Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council forces, weakening their impact. It is not clear how much leverage the Iranians have in other countries. The Iranians could try to create problems in Saudi Arabia, but given the Saudis’ actions in Bahrain, this becomes more difficult.

Finally, they can attempt an overt intervention, either in Bahrain or elsewhere, such as Iraq or Afghanistan. A naval movement against Bahrain is not impossible, but if the U.S. Navy intervenes, which it likely would, it would be a disaster for the Iranians. Operations in Iraq or Afghanistan might be more fruitful. It is possible that Shiite insurgents will operate in Iraq, but that would guarantee a halt of the U.S. withdrawal without clearly increasing the Iranians’ advantage there. They want U.S. forces to leave, not give them a reason to stay.

There is then the indirect option, which is to trigger a war with Israel. The killings on the West Bank and Israeli concerns about Hezbollah might be some of Iran’s doing, with the emphasis on “might.” But it is not clear how a Hezbollah confrontation with Israel would help Iran’s position relative to Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. It diverts attention, but the Saudis know the stakes and they will not be easily diverted.

The logic, therefore, is that Iran retreats and waits. But the Saudi move shifts the flow of events, and time is not on Iran’s side.

There is also the domestic Iranian political situation to consider. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been strong in part because of his successful handling of foreign policy. The massive failure of a destabilization plan would give his political opponents the ammunition needed to weaken him domestically. We do not mean a democratic revolution in Iran, but his  enemies among the clergy who see him as a threat to their position, and hard-liners in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who want an even more aggressive stand.

Ahmadinejad finds himself in a difficult position. The Saudis have moved decisively. If he does nothing, his position can unravel and with it his domestic political position. Yet none of the counters he might use seem effective or workable. In the end, his best option is to create a crisis in Iraq, forcing the United States to consider how deeply it wants to be drawn back into Iraq. He might find weakness there that he can translate into some sort of political deal.

At the moment we suspect the Iranians do not know how they will respond. The first issue will have to be determining whether they can create violent resistance to the Saudis in Bahrain, to both tie them down and increase the cost of occupation. It is simply unclear whether the Bahrainis are prepared to pay the price. They do seem to want fundamental change in Bahrain, but it is not clear that they have reached the point where they are prepared to resist and die en masse.

That is undoubtedly what the Iranians are exploring now. If they find that this is not an option, then none of their other options are particularly good. All of them involve risk and difficulty. It also requires that Iran commit itself to confrontations that it has tried to avoid. It prefers cover action that is deniable to overt action that is not.

As we move into the evening, we expect the Iranians are in intense discussions of their next move. Domestic politics are affecting regional strategy, as would be the case in any country. But the clear roadmap the Iranians were working from has now collapsed. The Saudis have called their hand, and they are trying to find out if they have a real or a busted flush. They will have to act quickly before the Saudi action simply becomes a solid reality. But it is not clear what they can do quickly. For the moment, the Saudis have the upper hand. But the Iranians are clever and tenacious. There are no predictions possible. We doubt even the Iranians know what they will do.


23793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Japan on: March 14, 2011, 08:11:53 AM
WSJ

Japan's quake-ravaged northern communities continued to be pinched by food and water shortages Monday, while even cities far from the damage experienced "aftershocks" as the effects from Friday's disaster rippled through the economy and markets.

Rescue workers struggled to bring supplies to thousands of residents of towns along the northeast coast, hardest hit by the 8.9-magnitude quake and tsunami on Friday. Survivors appeared on television, saying they didn't have power and were running out of food and water. People atop one building had written a huge Chinese character for "water" on the roof, so it could be seen by rescue helicopters.

 Residents are dealing with a lack of rations in Northern Japan, as transportation equipment is hampered in the aftermath of Friday's quake. WSJ's Eric Bellman reports from Sendai.
.The official death toll continued to climb, reaching around 1,800 by Monday afternoon. National broadcaster NHK reported that more than 450,000 people had moved to temporary shelters in the affected areas.

Miyoko Sugiyama, who lived a few blocks from the beach near the hard-hit city of Sendai, said she was happy to escape with her husband and 14-year-old dog. "There were 2,700 homes" in her neighborhood, she said. "Now there are only a few left."

Troubles continued to mount at the nuclear-power site in Fukushima Prefecture, where there was an explosion over the weekend. On Monday, an explosion occurred in the building housing a second reactor at the site, while the cooling system for a third reactor also failed, authorities said.

And in Tokyo, financial markets and commuters alike were pounded on the first working day after the quake.

Tokyo shares plunged, logging losses not seen since the first months of the global financial crisis. The Nikkei Stock Average closed at 9620.49, down 633.94 points or 6.2%—its sharpest single-day percentage loss since December 2008. The Topix index of all the Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section issues slid 68.55 points, or 7.5%, to 846.96, its heaviest loss since October 2008.

To prevent a cash crunch, the Bank of Japan injected a record 18 trillion yen (about $220 billion) into the short-term money markets and doubled the size of its asset-purchase program.

Ruined Homes and Radiation
View Slideshow

Aly Song/Reuters
 
Emiko Ohta, 52, can't bear to look at the debris that was her home in Kuji, Iwate prefecture.
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Confusion reigned at Tokyo Electric Power Company, which said it would conduct rolling outages during the day in order to conserve power, then reversed course at the last minute when it saw energy demand was lower than usual. But Tepco's plans caused Tokyo's train companies to drastically cut back service, leaving thousands of commuters without a way to get to work.

"I was really confused about both the power cuts and the train services," said Nobuyoshi Takashimaya, a 56 year old employee at an insurance firm in Tokyo. He said he had to walk one hour from home to reach his office because his train wasn't running.

23794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 13, 2011, 06:13:05 PM
We seem to be wandering a bit from the subject of this thread  smiley but we are dogs and we do that sometimes  grin

That said, nuclear needs to take into account the external diseconomies both actual and possible attendant to the technology.  Ask Japan, Russia, and Pennsylvania.
23795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Nuclear Power on: March 13, 2011, 11:26:57 AM
LA is a major population center, but public transportation simply is not viable here.
23796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 65 year old found alive ten miles at sea on: March 13, 2011, 11:25:53 AM


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/13/japan-tsunami-survivor-shinkawa-rescued-fukushima
23797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 13, 2011, 10:47:00 AM
Well, I would distinguish its government and its people; the latter I gather have rather positivie feelings about the US, though they may wonder about BO's lack of verbal support for their freedom when they were trying to take the streets. 

Also, lets keep in mind here the alternatives e.g. depending on Russia and Pakistan for our logistical supply chains for our war in Afpakia. 

Also, and I am winging it here (Ya, as always, please jump in) but would not this course of action strengthen the Balochs in their dealings with Islamabad and Teheran?

As for a spear in the heart of Iran, I'm all ears:  What do you have in mind?
23798  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 13, 2011, 10:30:06 AM
Well, duh, and we aided Saddam Hussein against Iraq too.

My intended point is that despite the bad background between our countries, that when interests convene, perhaps deals can be made. 
23799  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: March 13, 2011, 10:27:59 AM
Prayers for the people of Japan.
23800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 13, 2011, 10:09:28 AM
Very interesting Ya.

IIRC, Iran was very helpful against the Taliban/AQ in the early days after 911.
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