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23901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 07, 2008, 08:05:00 AM
I think BBG is right to raise the question of where this may well be headed.
23902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington's farewell address on: October 07, 2008, 08:03:35 AM

"Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from
another; that it must pay with a portion of its Independence
for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such
acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given
equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with
ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than
to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation.
'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride
ought to discard."

-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 19 September 1796)

Reference: Washington's Maxims, 71.
23903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Stratfor: The German Question (Deep Read) on: October 07, 2008, 07:21:45 AM
A discouraging and seemingly well-reasoned conclusion it is-- WHY do you disagree?
23904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Open Letter to Muslims, Liberals, Democrats, et al on: October 06, 2008, 07:51:59 PM
Is that the URL you intended to post?
23905  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: April 2009 US Gathering on: October 06, 2008, 06:05:57 PM
The 3 day Gg was a one-of thing.  From here forward we anticipate 2 days-- at the Temecula Corral if we can.
23906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The German Question (Deep Read) on: October 06, 2008, 05:57:11 PM
The German Question
October 6, 2008




By George Friedman

Related Special Topic Page
The Russian Resurgence
German Chancellor Angela Merkel went to St. Petersburg last week for meetings with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. The central question on the table was Germany’s position on NATO expansion, particularly with regard to Ukraine and Georgia. Merkel made it clear at a joint press conference that Germany would oppose NATO membership for both of these countries, and that it would even oppose placing the countries on the path to membership. Since NATO operates on the basis of consensus, any member nation can effectively block any candidate from NATO membership.

The fact that Merkel and Germany have chosen this path is of great significance. Merkel acted in full knowledge of the U.S. view on the matter and is prepared to resist any American pressure that might follow. It should be remembered that Merkel might be the most pro-American politician in Germany, and perhaps its most pro-American chancellor in years. Moreover, as an East German, she has a deep unease about the Russians. Reality, however, overrode her personal inclinations. More than other countries, Germany does not want to alienate the United States. But it is in a position to face American pressure should any come.

Energy Dependence and Defense Spending
In one sense, Merkel’s reasons for her stance are simple. Germany is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. If the supply were cut off, Germany’s situation would be desperate — or at least close enough that the distinction would be academic. Russia might decide it could not afford to cut off natural gas exports, but Merkel is dealing with a fundamental German interest, and risking that for Ukrainian or Georgian membership in NATO is not something she is prepared to do.

She can’t bank on Russian caution in a matter such as this, particularly when the Russians seem to be in an incautious mood. Germany is, of course, looking to alternative sources of energy for the future, and in five years its dependence on Russia might not be nearly as significant. But five years is a long time to hold your breath, and Germany can’t do it.

The German move is not just about natural gas, however. Germany views the U.S. obsession with NATO expansion as simply not in Germany’s interests.

First, expanding NATO guarantees to Ukraine and Georgia is meaningless. NATO and the United States don’t have the military means to protect Ukraine or Georgia, and incorporating them into the alliance would not increase European security. From a military standpoint, NATO membership for the two former Soviet republics is an empty gesture, while from a political standpoint, Berlin sees it as designed to irritate the Russians for no clear purpose.

Next, were NATO prepared to protect Ukraine and Georgia, all NATO countries including Germany would be forced to increase defense expenditures substantially. This is not something that Germany and the rest of NATO want to do.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Germany spent 1945-1992 being the potential prime battleground of the Cold War. It spent 1992-2008 not being the potential prime battleground. Germany prefers the latter, and it does not intend to be drawn into a new Cold War under any circumstances. This has profound implications for the future of both NATO and U.S.-German relations.

Germany is thus in the midst of a strategic crisis in which it must make some fundamental decisions. To understand the decisions Germany has to make, we need to understand the country’s geopolitical problem and the decisions it has made in the past.

The German Geopolitical Problem
Until 1871, Germany was fragmented into dozens of small states — kingdoms, duchies, principalities, etc. — comprising the remnants of the Holy Roman Empire. The German-speaking world was torn apart by internal tensions and the constant manipulation of foreign powers.

The southeastern part of the German-speaking world, Austria, was the center of the multinational Hapsburg Empire. It was Roman Catholic and was continually intruding into the predominantly Catholic regions of the rest of Germany, particularly Bavaria. The French were constantly poaching in the Rhineland and manipulating the balance of power among the German states. Russia was always looming to the east, where it bordered the major Protestant German power, Prussia. (Poland at the time was divided among Prussia, Russia and Austria-Hungary.) Germany was perpetually the victim of great powers, a condition which Prussia spent the roughly half-century between Waterloo and German unification trying to correct.

To unify Germany, Prussia had to do more than dominate the Germans. It had to fight two wars. The first was in 1866 with the Hapsburg Empire, which Prussia defeated in seven weeks, ending Hapsburg influence in Germany and ultimately reducing Austria-Hungary to Germany’s junior partner. The second war was in 1870-1871, when Prussia led a German coalition that defeated France. That defeat ended French influence in the Rhineland and gave Prussia the space in which to create a modern, unified Germany. Russia, which was pleased to see both Austria-Hungary and France defeated and viewed a united Germany as a buffer against another French invasion, did not try to block unification.

German unification changed the dynamic of Europe. First, it created a large nation in the heart of Europe between France and Russia. United, Germany was economically dynamic, and its growth outstripped that of France and the United Kingdom. Moreover, it became a naval power, developing a substantial force that at some point could challenge British naval hegemony. It became a major exporting power, taking markets from Britain and France. And in looking around for room to maneuver, Germany began looking east toward Russia. In short, Germany was more than a nation — it was a geopolitical problem.

Germany’s strategic problem was that if the French and Russians attacked Germany simultaneously, with Britain blockading its ports, Germany would lose and revert to its pre-1871 chaos. Given French, Russian and British interest in shattering Germany, Germany had to assume that such an attack would come. Therefore, since the Germans could not fight on two fronts simultaneously, they needed to fight a war pre-emptively, attacking France or Russia first, defeating it and then turning their full strength on the other — all before Britain’s naval blockade could begin to hurt. Germany’s only defense was a two-stage offense that was as complex as a ballet, and would be catastrophic if it failed.

In World War I, executing the Schlieffen Plan, the Germans attacked France first while trying to simply block the Russians. The plan was to first occupy the channel coast and Paris before the United Kingdom could get into the game and before Russia could fully mobilize, and then to knock out Russia. The plan failed in 1914 at the First Battle of the Marnes, and rather than lightning victory, Germany got bogged down in a multifront war costing millions of lives and lasting years. Even so, Germany almost won the war of attrition, causing the United States to intervene and deprive Berlin of victory.

In World War II, the Germans had learned their lesson, so instead of trying to pin down Russia, they entered into a treaty with the Soviets. This secured Germany’s rear by dividing Poland with the Soviet Union. The Soviets agreed to the treaty, expecting Adolf Hitler’s forces to attack France and bog down as Germany had in World War I. The Soviets would then roll West after the bloodletting had drained the rest of Europe. The Germans stunned the Russians by defeating France in six weeks and then turning on the Russians. The Russian front turned into an endless bloodletting, and once again the Americans helped deliver the final blow.

The consequence of the war was the division of Germany into three parts — an independent Austria, a Western-occupied West Germany and a Soviet-occupied East Germany. West Germany again faced the Russian problem. Its eastern part was occupied, and West Germany could not possibly defend itself on its own. It found itself integrated into an American-dominated alliance system, NATO, which was designed to block the Soviets. West and East Germany would serve as the primary battleground of any Soviet attack, with Soviet armor facing U.S. armor, airpower and tactical nuclear weapons. For the Germans, the Cold War was probably more dangerous than either of the previous wars. Whatever the war’s outcome, Germany stood a pretty good chance of being annihilated if it took place.

On the upside, the Cold War did settle Franco-German tensions, which were half of Germany’s strategic problem. Indeed, one of the by-products of the Cold War was the emergence of the European Community, which ultimately became the European Union. This saw German economic union and integration with France, which along with NATO’s military integration guaranteed economic growth and the end of any military threat to Germany from the west. For the first time in centuries, the Rhine was not at risk. Germany’s south was secure, and once the Soviet Union collapsed, there was no threat from the east, either.

United and Secure at Last?
For the first time in centuries, Germany was both united and militarily secure. But underneath it all, the Germans retained their primordial fear of being caught between France and Russia. Berlin understood that this was far from a mature reality; it was no more than a theoretical problem at the moment. But the Germans also understand how quickly things can change. On one level, the problem was nothing more than the economic emphasis of the European Union compared to the geopolitical focus of Russia. But on a deeper level, Germany was, as always, caught between the potentially competing demands of Russia and the West. Even if the problem were small now, there were no guarantees that it wouldn’t grow.

This was the context in which Germany viewed the Russo-Georgian war in August. Berlin saw not only the United States moving toward a hostile relationship with Russia, but also the United Kingdom and France going down the same path.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who happened to hold the rotating EU presidency at the time, went to Moscow to negotiate a cease-fire on behalf of the European Union. When the Russians seemed unwilling to comply with the terms negotiated, France became highly critical of Russia and inclined to back some sort of sanctions at the EU summit on Georgia. With the United Kingdom being even more adamant, Germany saw a worst-case scenario looming on the distant horizon: It understood that the pleasant security of the post-Cold War world was at an end, and that it had to craft a new national strategy.

From Germany’s point of view, the re-emergence of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union might be something that could have been blocked in the 1990s, but by 2008, it had become inevitable. The Germans saw that economic relations in the former Soviet Union — and not only energy issues — created a complementary relationship between Russia and its former empire. Between natural affinities and Russian power, a Russian sphere of influence, if not a formal structure, was inevitable. It was an emerging reality that could not be reversed.

France has Poland and Germany between itself and Russia. Britain has that plus the English Channel, and the United States has all that plus the Atlantic Ocean. The farther away from Russia one is, the more comfortable one can be challenging Moscow. But Germany has only Poland as a buffer. For any nation serious about resisting Russian power, the first question is how to assure the security of the Baltic countries, a long-vulnerable salient running north from Poland. The answer would be to station NATO forces in the Baltics and in Poland, and Berlin understood that Germany would be both the logistical base for these forces as well as the likely source of troops. But Germany’s appetite for sending troops to Poland and the Baltics has been satiated. This was not a course Germany wanted to take.

Pondering German History
We suspect that Merkel knew something else; namely, that all the comfortable assumptions about what was possible and impossible — that the Russians wouldn’t dare attack the Baltics — are dubious in the extreme. Nothing in German history would convince any reasonable German that military action to achieve national ends is unthinkable. Nor are the Germans prepared to dismiss the re-emergence of Russian military power. The Germans had been economically and militarily shattered in 1932. By 1938, they were the major power in Europe. As long as their officer corps and technological knowledge base were intact, regeneration could move swiftly.

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and its military power crumbled. But as was the case in Weimar Germany, the Russian officer corps remained relatively intact and the KGB, the heart of the Soviet state, remained intact if renamed. So did the technological base that made the Soviets a global power. As with Germany after both world wars, Russia was in chaos, but its fragments remained, awaiting reconstruction. The Germans were not about to dismiss Russia’s ability to regenerate — they know their own history too well to do that.

If Germany were to join those who call for NATO expansion, the first step toward a confrontation with Russia would have been taken. The second step would be guaranteeing the security of the Baltics and Poland. America would make the speeches, and Germans would man the line. After spending most of the last century fighting or preparing to fight the Russians, the Germans looked around at the condition of their allies and opted out.

The Germans see their economic commitment as being to the European Union. That binds them to the French, and this is not a bond they can or want to break. But the European Union carries no political or military force in relation to the Russians. Beyond economics, it is a debating society. NATO, as an institution built to resist the Russians, is in an advanced state of decay. To resurrect it, the Germans would have to pay a steep economic price. And if they paid that price, they would be carrying much of the strategic risk.

So while Germany remains committed to its economic relationship with the West, it does not intend to enter into a military commitment against the Russians at this time. If the Americans want to send troops to protect the Baltics and Poland, they are welcome to do so. Germany has no objection — nor do they object to a French or British presence there. Indeed, once such forces were committed, Germany might reconsider its position. But since military deployments in significant numbers are unlikely anytime soon, the Germans view grand U.S. statements about expanded NATO membership as mere bravado by a Washington that is prepared to risk little.

NATO After the German Shift
Therefore, Merkel went to St. Petersburg and told the Russians that Germany does not favor NATO expansion. More than that, the Germans at least implicitly told the Russians that they have a free hand in the former Soviet Union as far as Germany is concerned — an assertion that cost Berlin nothing, since the Russians do enjoy a free hand there. But even more critically, Merkel signaled to the Russians and the West that Germany does not intend to be trapped between Western ambitions and Russian power this time. It does not want to recreate the situation of the two world wars or the Cold War, so Berlin will stay close to France economically and also will accommodate the Russians.

The Germans will thus block NATO’s ambitions, something that represents a dramatic shift in the Western alliance. This shift in fact has been unfolding for quite a while, but it took the Russo-Georgian war to reveal the change.

NATO has no real military power to project to the east, and none can be created without a major German effort, which is not forthcoming. The German shift leaves the Baltic countries exposed and extremely worried, as they should be. It also leaves the Poles in their traditional position of counting on countries far away to guarantee their national security. In 1939, Warsaw counted on the British and French; today, Warsaw depends on the United States. As in 1939, these guarantees are tenuous, but they are all the Poles have.

The United States has the option of placing a nuclear umbrella over the Baltics and Eastern Europe, which would guarantee a nuclear strike on Russia in the event of an attack in either place. While this was the guarantee made to Western Europe in the Cold War, it is unlikely that the United States is prepared for global thermonuclear war over Estonia’s fate. Such a U.S. guarantee to the Baltics and Eastern Europe simply would not represent a credible threat.

The other U.S. option is a major insertion of American forces either by sea through Danish waters or via French and German ports and railways, assuming France or Germany would permit their facilities to be used for such a deployment. But this option is academic at the moment. The United States could not deploy more than symbolic forces even if it wanted to. For the moment, NATO is therefore an entity that issues proclamations, not a functioning military alliance, in spite of (or perhaps because of) deployments in Afghanistan.

Everything in German history has led to this moment. The country is united and wants to be secure. It will not play the role it was forced into during the Cold War, nor will it play geopolitical poker as it did in the first and second world wars. And that means NATO is permanently and profoundly broken. The German question now turns into the Russian question: If Germany is out of the game, what is to be done about Russia?
 
23907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: October 06, 2008, 02:29:12 PM
There may be a privacy thread where this could have fit, but this thread seems fine to me so lets carry on here.

What do we think of this gentlemen?
23908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Chess on: October 06, 2008, 02:26:59 PM
I am quite proud to report that my son has beaten me for the first time cool cool cool
23909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Biden off his meds on: October 06, 2008, 01:14:12 PM
In the popular media wisdom, Sarah Palin is the neophyte who knows nothing about foreign policy while Joe Biden is the savvy diplomatic pro. Then what are we to make of Mr. Biden's fantastic debate voyage last week when he made factual claims that would have got Mrs. Palin mocked from New York to Los Angeles?

 
APStart with Lebanon, where Mr. Biden asserted that "When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, 'Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it.' Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel."

The U.S. never kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, and no one else has either. Perhaps Mr. Biden meant to say Syria, except that the U.S. also didn't do that. The Lebanese ousted Syria's military in 2005. As for NATO, Messrs. Biden and Obama may have proposed sending alliance troops in, but if they did that was also a fantasy. The U.S. has had all it can handle trying to convince NATO countries to deploy to Afghanistan.

Speaking of which, Mr. Biden also averred that "Our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan." In trying to correct him, Mrs. Palin mispronounced the general's name -- saying "General McClellan" instead of General David McKiernan. But Mr. Biden's claim was the bigger error, because General McKiernan said that while "Afghanistan is not Iraq," he also said a "sustained commitment" to counterinsurgency would be required. That is consistent with Mr. McCain's point that the "surge principles" of Iraq could work in Afghanistan.

Then there's the Senator's astonishing claim that Mr. Obama "did not say he'd sit down with Ahmadinejad" without preconditions. Yet Mr. Biden himself criticized Mr. Obama on this point in 2007 at the National Press Club: "Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries within the first year I was elected President? Absolutely, positively no."

Or how about his rewriting of Bosnia history to assert that John McCain didn't support President Clinton in the 1990s. "My recommendations on Bosnia, I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives. And initially John McCain opposed it along with a lot of other people. But the end result was it worked." Mr. Biden's immodesty aside, Mr. McCain supported Mr. Clinton on Bosnia, as did Bob Dole even as he was running against him for President in 1996 -- in contrast to the way Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders have tried to undermine President Bush on Iraq.

Closer to home, the Delaware blarney stone also invited Americans to join him at "Katie's restaurant" in Wilmington to witness middle-class struggles. Just one problem: Katie's closed in the 1980s. The mistake is more than a memory lapse because it exposes how phony is Mr. Biden's attempt to pose for this campaign as Lunchbucket Joe.

We think the word "lie" is overused in politics today, having become a favorite of the blogosphere and at the New York Times. So we won't say Mr. Biden was deliberately making events up when he made these and other false statements. Perhaps he merely misspoke. In any case, Mrs. Palin may not know as much about the world as Mr. Biden does, but at least most of what she knows is true.
23910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Quotes of note: on: October 06, 2008, 10:55:47 AM


“A bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats so strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?” —Marcus Tullius Cicero
 
23911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / B. Franklin on: October 06, 2008, 07:56:42 AM
Benjamin Franklin: "If a man empties his purse into his head, no
one can take it from him."
23912  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Ropa contra balas on: October 05, 2008, 10:13:41 PM
Bullet Proof Clothes In Mexico

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Marc Lacey
Published: October 6, 2008

MEXICO CITY: Exclusive clothing boutiques line Avenida Presidente Masarik here. A Burberry coat? A Corneliani suit? A Gucci scarf? Have enough pesos, and they are yours.

But tucked on a leafy side street in the Polanco neighborhood is a shop unlike the others, one whose bustling business says much about the dire state of security in this country. At Miguel Caballero, named after its Colombian owner, all the garments are bulletproof.

There are bulletproof leather jackets and bulletproof polo shirts. Armored guayabera shirts hang next to protective windbreakers, parkas and even white ruffled tuxedo shirts. Every member of the sales staff has had to take a turn being shot while wearing one of the products, which range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $7,000, so they can attest to the efficacy of the secret fabric.

"If feels like a punch," a salesman said of the shot to the stomach he received.

Just who is willing to fork over thousands of dollars for these chic shields? Customers include Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, not to mention assorted royalty, movie stars and other VIP's.

As Mexico grapples with an increase in drug-related violence, sales are steadily on the rise, the company said, though it declined to provide precise figures.

Those who duck into the private boutique, passing first through a metal detector, run the gamut.

There is the surgeon who finishes work at the hospital late and feels vulnerable while walking through the parking lot to his car. Now, that potential burglar can take a shot at him with a .38-caliber revolver, a 9-millimeter pistol or a submachine gun and still not pierce his lightweight, heat-resistant and quite fashionable coat.

There is the newspaper distributor who has scores of employees who collect papers from him in the wee hours of the morning to drop at doorsteps across the capital. He stopped at the boutique the other day for a jacket that can keep him in business even if someone tried to knock him off and take the rolls of cash he carries around.

There is the bullfighter who is scared not of bulls but of bullets and consequently ordered a matador's suit that can withstand gunfire.

Then there are Mexican politicians and business executives, some who have received threats and others who want to supplement their existing security measures, which in many cases already include bulletproof cars, home alarm systems, round-the-clock bodyguards and panic buttons.

"What we offer is one more chance at life," said Javier Di Carlo, the marketing manager, as he showed off the top-of-the-line Black collection in a private fitting room. "We don't want people to say to the criminal, 'Shoot me.' Nobody should feel like Superman. But if the criminal does shoot, we give our customers a chance to run away."

There is a whole lot of shooting going on in Mexico today. Every day, the papers are full of victims, bodies lying out in grotesque poses with bullet wounds all about. Some are garden-variety crime victims, but the drug cartels that control much of the Mexican countryside are behind the overwhelming majority. They pay off politicians and police officers and act as shadow governments in town after town along their transit routes. Cross them, and they do not hesitate to pull the trigger.

The rash of drug violence, together with a surge in kidnappings for ransom, has shaken everyday Mexicans. Ask a stranger for directions on the street these days, and fear is the first emotion that crosses the person's face. He or she might recover enough to describe how to go this way or that.

Studies have shown that more and more anxious Mexicans are pouring their money into defensive measures. Families and businesses across Mexico invest $18 billion in private security measures, a recent study by the Center for Economic Studies of the Private Sector found. Some people are trying to get their hands on weapons, which are tightly regulated here but widely available on the black market. To some, bulletproof fashion is the logical next step.

Still, not everybody is lining up. Jon French, a former State Department official who now runs a security company in Mexico City, said he considered the bulletproof luxury items more about ego than anything else. Most of the killings that fill the front pages — there have been 3,000 this year alone — are drug traffickers killing rivals, he pointed out.

"Certain members of the well-to-do class here have a tendency to be ostentatious," French said. "You see it in their bodyguards and chase cars. Some of this is so while at the country club they can talk about how protected they are. Now they can say, 'Look, I'm wearing body armor!' "
But Caballero, who opened the Mexico store two years ago and has since expanded with branches in Guatemala City, Johannesburg and London, counters by telling of his loyalty club program for clients. Called the Survivor's Club, it is open to anyone whose life was saved by wearing one of his protective garments. Its rolls, he said in a telephone interview from Bogotá, are on the rise.

To lower the chance that he is outfitting the bad guys, Caballero runs background checks on customers, checking their names against lists of fugitives compiled by the United States and Mexican governments. He points out that the clothing is not designed for the kind of warfare that is breaking out in some parts of Mexico, where drug assassins have used rocket launchers and grenades to wipe out rivals.

A bulletproof polo shirt is meant more to repel random street violence, of the kind that seemed as if it just might break out just around the corner from Caballero's shop the other day.

Fernando Arias Carmona, a salesman, wore one of the protective leather coats while he sat at a café on Masarik being photographed. People looking on inquired into what was the fuss was about. When told that Carmona's fashionable jacket was bulletproof, a man at the next table reached into his own jacket and said, "Let me test it out."

Fortunately, though, the man pulled out only with his fingers in the shape of a pistol.

Then, looking at the coat again, he said, "I want one of those."
23913  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Seminar: 10/11-12 Guro Crafty in Bloomington IL on: October 05, 2008, 10:12:31 PM
Looking forward to this!

Rumor has it someone wants revenge on me in chess on Saturday night cheesy
23914  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 05, 2008, 10:07:10 PM
The Jackson KO of Liddell came on a hook that created brain stem torsion.  Here, to my eye, it didn't look like much AND should have been seen coming in-- thus lessening the effect.
23915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bullet proof clothes on: October 05, 2008, 09:52:09 PM
Bullet Proof Clothes In Mexico

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Marc Lacey
Published: October 6, 2008

MEXICO CITY: Exclusive clothing boutiques line Avenida Presidente Masarik here. A Burberry coat? A Corneliani suit? A Gucci scarf? Have enough pesos, and they are yours.

But tucked on a leafy side street in the Polanco neighborhood is a shop unlike the others, one whose bustling business says much about the dire state of security in this country. At Miguel Caballero, named after its Colombian owner, all the garments are bulletproof.

There are bulletproof leather jackets and bulletproof polo shirts. Armored guayabera shirts hang next to protective windbreakers, parkas and even white ruffled tuxedo shirts. Every member of the sales staff has had to take a turn being shot while wearing one of the products, which range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $7,000, so they can attest to the efficacy of the secret fabric.

"If feels like a punch," a salesman said of the shot to the stomach he received.

Just who is willing to fork over thousands of dollars for these chic shields? Customers include Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, not to mention assorted royalty, movie stars and other VIP's.

As Mexico grapples with an increase in drug-related violence, sales are steadily on the rise, the company said, though it declined to provide precise figures.

Those who duck into the private boutique, passing first through a metal detector, run the gamut.

There is the surgeon who finishes work at the hospital late and feels vulnerable while walking through the parking lot to his car. Now, that potential burglar can take a shot at him with a .38-caliber revolver, a 9-millimeter pistol or a submachine gun and still not pierce his lightweight, heat-resistant and quite fashionable coat.

There is the newspaper distributor who has scores of employees who collect papers from him in the wee hours of the morning to drop at doorsteps across the capital. He stopped at the boutique the other day for a jacket that can keep him in business even if someone tried to knock him off and take the rolls of cash he carries around.

There is the bullfighter who is scared not of bulls but of bullets and consequently ordered a matador's suit that can withstand gunfire.

Then there are Mexican politicians and business executives, some who have received threats and others who want to supplement their existing security measures, which in many cases already include bulletproof cars, home alarm systems, round-the-clock bodyguards and panic buttons.

"What we offer is one more chance at life," said Javier Di Carlo, the marketing manager, as he showed off the top-of-the-line Black collection in a private fitting room. "We don't want people to say to the criminal, 'Shoot me.' Nobody should feel like Superman. But if the criminal does shoot, we give our customers a chance to run away."

There is a whole lot of shooting going on in Mexico today. Every day, the papers are full of victims, bodies lying out in grotesque poses with bullet wounds all about. Some are garden-variety crime victims, but the drug cartels that control much of the Mexican countryside are behind the overwhelming majority. They pay off politicians and police officers and act as shadow governments in town after town along their transit routes. Cross them, and they do not hesitate to pull the trigger.

The rash of drug violence, together with a surge in kidnappings for ransom, has shaken everyday Mexicans. Ask a stranger for directions on the street these days, and fear is the first emotion that crosses the person's face. He or she might recover enough to describe how to go this way or that.

Studies have shown that more and more anxious Mexicans are pouring their money into defensive measures. Families and businesses across Mexico invest $18 billion in private security measures, a recent study by the Center for Economic Studies of the Private Sector found. Some people are trying to get their hands on weapons, which are tightly regulated here but widely available on the black market. To some, bulletproof fashion is the logical next step.

Still, not everybody is lining up. Jon French, a former State Department official who now runs a security company in Mexico City, said he considered the bulletproof luxury items more about ego than anything else. Most of the killings that fill the front pages — there have been 3,000 this year alone — are drug traffickers killing rivals, he pointed out.

"Certain members of the well-to-do class here have a tendency to be ostentatious," French said. "You see it in their bodyguards and chase cars. Some of this is so while at the country club they can talk about how protected they are. Now they can say, 'Look, I'm wearing body armor!' "
But Caballero, who opened the Mexico store two years ago and has since expanded with branches in Guatemala City, Johannesburg and London, counters by telling of his loyalty club program for clients. Called the Survivor's Club, it is open to anyone whose life was saved by wearing one of his protective garments. Its rolls, he said in a telephone interview from Bogotá, are on the rise.

To lower the chance that he is outfitting the bad guys, Caballero runs background checks on customers, checking their names against lists of fugitives compiled by the United States and Mexican governments. He points out that the clothing is not designed for the kind of warfare that is breaking out in some parts of Mexico, where drug assassins have used rocket launchers and grenades to wipe out rivals.

A bulletproof polo shirt is meant more to repel random street violence, of the kind that seemed as if it just might break out just around the corner from Caballero's shop the other day.

Fernando Arias Carmona, a salesman, wore one of the protective leather coats while he sat at a café on Masarik being photographed. People looking on inquired into what was the fuss was about. When told that Carmona's fashionable jacket was bulletproof, a man at the next table reached into his own jacket and said, "Let me test it out."

Fortunately, though, the man pulled out only with his fingers in the shape of a pistol.

Then, looking at the coat again, he said, "I want one of those."
23916  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 05, 2008, 05:59:56 PM
The clip I saw DID look like there was a hammer fist to the back of the head/neck.  The first right hand had about as much on it as Ali's KO punch of Sonny Liston in their second fight  wink rolleyes  Did any of the follow up punches land solidly?

No doubt this fight was not pleasing to the monied interests , , , evil
23917  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: soempat on: October 05, 2008, 04:59:43 PM
Well, few people are as entitled to an opinion as EP!

That said, I have also read that he has a similar opinion about trapping, yet I have personally seen him in a vigorous sparring session at RAW pak sao someone who went the distance for the UFC heavyweight title.

FWIW, I do think the Silat sweeps work IF you go about crashing to clinch on angles.
23918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: October 05, 2008, 02:39:24 PM
A small story:

We live in a two-on-a-lot in the front unit.  Our neighbor in back is a very active and very committed feminazi liberal.  She is running for reelection on the local Health District Council or something like that and so we let her post her yard sign in front of our house (four years ago there had been words over her effort to place a Kerry sign cheesy ),  Anyway, today she is hosting a BO party and people came looking for her house.  My wife happened to be out front chatting with a friend.  One by one they came and stopped in front of our house, and one by one my wife pointed them to the house in the back.  One fella stopped and looked at the McCain sign and said, "She... lives... in... this... house...?"  My wife said, "NO, she lives in the house in the back".  Then my wife leaned in and half whispered, "The people who live in the front are conservatives."  They man crumpled his nose and said, "Ewwwwe".   As he walked off my wife said, "They're conservatives, but they're reeeeeeeeeeeeal nice!"   

  cheesy
23919  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 05, 2008, 02:33:45 PM
I was very impressed by AA when he was winning in the UFC, then it looked like he lost his confidence to the point where I heard he was a bodyguard taking off his shirt on the Jerry Springer show-- WTF?

Anyway, it sure looks like he is back.  shocked Who was that he was fighting there?

Story:  Back when AA was on top of the UFC, he was my son's favorite (my son was about 7 at the time).  As AA entered the octagon and began warming up my son warmed up with him, punching and kicking this way and that.  Then he turned to me and said, "You know Dad, I think he could beat even you."

Love you son  cheesy
23920  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 05, 2008, 02:25:29 PM
 cheesy

Actually, to be precise he, like any good Akita was quite the opposite of juramentado/going amok, which are states in which judgement is disconnected in a killing frenzy.

Although quite fearless any good Akita is supposed to remain aware of the situation and do what is necessary AND NO MORE.  In this case, Morro instantly correctly read Tom's jump back and my exhalation as indicating that it was not necessary to continue.  The intensity of his intent quite startled me.  He was a far less aggressive dog than Zapata, my first Akita and the one you see in the DBMA logo (drawn by Shaggy Dog). 

I saw this "and no more" repeatedly, especially with Zapata, who was a master of provoking other dogs to come over within reach to fight and in an incident where a young male put a fight collar on his Rott to try Zapata.
23921  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: home made equipment on: October 05, 2008, 02:18:48 PM
"looking for the open space between the moving objects instead of the focusing on the weapons themselves."

That is a nice little gem there Maija.
23922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: October 05, 2008, 04:15:57 AM
"Global warming, and its denial are nothing but a way to dodge the issue. Believers and deniers are just opposite sides of the same coin. Both are not talking about the real problems. Go ahead and explain to me why smog is a good thing, or why high levels of mercury in the fish is positive? Try and explain the island of garbage floating around the ocean? You can't spin those into anything beneficial and trying is insanity."

The problem with the theology of "man as cause of global warming" is that a lot of really coercive and expensive solutions are being proposed to solve a problem which may well not exist, or exist in small degree.  Honest science needs to be coin of the realm in this conversation.

I agree that the focus needs to be the fouling of the planet.  With good science perhaps we will realize that the ethanol the government proposes to deal with the false problem of global warming creates the fertilizer run-off by which the Mississippi River dumps so much fertilizer into the Gulf of Mexico that it has a huge dead zone that grows every year.

Instead of blathering about needing to sign the Kyoto Accord and blaming it on Bush (which was rejected by the Senate IIRC under Clinton 97-0) maybe we need to look at the implications of buying from the Chinese who foul not only their next but ours as well by the particulates they create that reach the western US.

Instead of looking to the government to guide the process, maybe we should shift our approach to one of taxing external diseconomies (i.e. pollution)-- costs not born by the buyer or seller of a transaction-- instead of good things like jobs, income, savings (including inheritance) investment, etc.   I vociferously agree that the ocean becoming a garbage dump is a real problem-- so lets tax all the disposable plastic products instead of our work, savings, and investment.  By shifting our tax code to such a concept we will both enable a tremendous increase in economic growth, we will also bring the pricing mechanism of the market to bear as to the trade offs between pollution and other things.  If car manufacters operate in an environment wherein cars that pollute more are taxed more their self-interest motivates them to act for the clean air so they can acquire a cost advantage over their competitors.  This contrasts quite strongly and favorably to what we have now wherein the most profitable thing is to buy Congressman and litigate with the bureaucracies.

What you tax more you get less of-- so lets tax pollution instead of people, profits, savings, income, etc.
23923  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Waitress nails bank robber on: October 04, 2008, 09:31:37 PM
Unarmed Coffee Shop Waitress Nabs Fleeing Bank Robbery Suspect

Saturday , October 04, 2008

An unarmed coffee shop waitress in Hillborough County, Fla., tackled and subdued an alleged armed robber after he hit the Valrico State Bank on Friday, Bay News 9 reported.

The Da Silva’s Coffee Shop employee had been trained in Germany as a police officer, but she was only half the size of the suspect she took down.

Local police said suspect Jeffrey Merritt, 44, ran past Da Silva’s on the way to his getaway car after robbing the bank.

The waitress — the Tampa Tribune reports she wished to remain unidentified — reportedly saw Merritt running with something and looking behind him. She chased him down, yelling, “Freeze or I’m going to shoot” and then tackled him.

She did not have a gun, but the bluff worked, and the suspect surrendered.

"I knew she was a trained officer, but I didn't know what that really meant," Karen Raga, a co-worker, told The Tampa Tribune.

Bystanders then helped the waitress sit on Merritt until police arrived.

Click here to read more on this story from Bay News 9.
Click here to read more on this story from The Tampa Tribune.
23924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 04, 2008, 09:06:48 PM
For a plethora of examples, see the closely related thread "Islam vs. Free Speech".
23925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge? on: October 04, 2008, 08:54:48 PM
A top national-security adviser to Barack Obama said he expects military spending during a Democratic administration wouldn't drop, a key concern for a defense industry that is accustomed to growing Pentagon budgets and anxious about potential cutbacks.

 
Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama arrives at a rally at Michigan State University in East Lansing on Thursday.
Richard Danzig, a U.S. Navy secretary during the Clinton administration and a leading contender to be the secretary of Defense in an Obama administration, said he doesn't "see defense spending declining in the first years of an Obama administration. There are a set of demands there that are very severe, very important to our national well-being." U.S. defense spending has risen at a steady clip throughout the Bush administration.

Regardless of whether Sen. Obama or his Republican rival, John McCain, is elected, the winner will have little time to tweak details in the fiscal 2010 budget between assuming office in late January and submitting the budget in February. A new administration normally takes months to get new appointees in key jobs, and the Pentagon budget is among the most complex and politically contentious in the federal government.

Mr. Danzig, speaking at a Defense Writers Group breakfast Thursday in Washington, said that Sen. Obama would make sure that the Pentagon doesn't become overly focused on fighting guerrillas and terrorists at the expense of traditional air and sea power. "I think the temptation is to invest in the issue du jour or the cause du jour and to overlook a lot of basics," Mr. Danzig said. At the same time, there will be a focus on "cyber warfare" and unmanned aerial vehicles, he said.

With the election just over a month away, defense-industry executives are hungry for information from either camp. "There is less detail and specifics than there has been in some past elections," said one defense-industry official. While Sen. McCain has a long track record of being tough on defense contractors' waste as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- which he highlighted in the debate Sept. 26 -- Sen. Obama hasn't dealt with those issues.

Randy Scheunemann, a top foreign-policy adviser to Sen. McCain, said in an email that "Sen. Obama has no credibility on defense, while Sen. McCain has firsthand familiarity with national-security issues for decades."

Generally, Mr. Danzig was critical of the weapons-buying process during the past eight years. "The record of this administration in the acquisition area in terms of overruns and the like has been quite poor," said Mr. Danzig. "You need to come to grips with affordability issues and the requirements process."

He also singled out the Army's $160 billion-plus Future Combat Systems modernization plan led by Boeing Co. and SAIC Inc., as well as a program to develop a missile-defense system that includes Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., as efforts that are worthy but in need of a "serious scrub."

Mr. Danzig said that controlling costs is crucial. One way to do that may be to shift the Pentagon's focus to buying greater numbers of less-sophisticated weapons systems. "I think industry can live with this, even embrace it," he said.

One of the thorniest weapons-buying issues awaiting either presidential nominee is the award of a more than $40 billion contract to replace the nation's fleet of aging aerial-refueling tankers. Last month, the Defense Department abandoned plans to award the work to either Northrop or Boeing after a political and legal fight. Mr. Danzig said the companies need a level playing field when dealing with the Air Force, as well as on issues such as a dispute between the U.S. and Europe over commercial-aircraft-development subsidies. As a candidate, Sen. Obama doesn't have a view about which company should win, Mr. Danzig said.
23926  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 04, 2008, 08:52:24 PM
Those things are perfect for a mean dog.  I bet even the swishing sound one makes in the air would suffice to back up all but the most determined dog.

Tangent:  Tom Meadows once was showing me what he can do with a sling (EXTREMELY impressive by the way) and he started to whip the thing around in a circle for a super release.  The sound set off Morro, my second Akita, who went from at rest to full attack mode in an instant but fortunately both Tom and I read his movement in timely manner for him to break off before contact.
23927  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: home made equipment on: October 04, 2008, 08:47:41 PM
Maija:

Find that footage!!!  Please!!!

TAC,
CD
23928  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 04, 2008, 08:44:48 PM
The steroids wear off and time marches on , , ,
23929  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: home made equipment on: October 04, 2008, 01:41:14 PM
Woof Tiburon Ken:

I am very happy to see you here.  Thank you very much for sending me the pictures you took in Hawaii of me working with Daniel, with the sea turtles, and of Dogzilla-- and thank you for your able assistance at the seminar in Chinatown.

As for the training device, I had seen this concept with shorter stick, but duh! -- it had not occurred to me to use longer and heavier sticks.  I like it  smiley

TAC,
Crafty Dog
23930  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo Working Examples on: October 04, 2008, 01:23:31 PM
Woof Jonobos:

Well, I trust Dog Ryan will rectify that  grin 

Of course, hearing of these things puts a wag in my tail.  grin cool

Guro Crafty
23931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 04, 2008, 09:53:31 AM
A physics professor once told me that in physics progress was reducing the amount of principles needed to explain how the world/universe works.  In a similar vein, I think that clarity of thought can often be manifested by reducing the number of words necessary to express a thought e.g. Sarah Palin.  The risk of course is superficiality, but at the moment I'm seeing her as someone with tremendous potential.

It has been pointed out that the world is more complicated than when Lincoln was president.  Accepting that to be true, it seems to me that it correspondingly becomes more important for a president to have a clear sense of the principles that define how the political-economic world works.  Someone without this will be overwhelmed by the rivers of data that are part and parcel of wonkery.  Someone with a clear sense of these things will be , , , a President Reagan. grin

I am delighted to see a shared understanding here of the utter outrageiousness of Biden's position (presumably BO's as well? does anyone have confirmatin of this?), which was also shared by Hillary BTW, that courts should be able to interfere with the terms of mortgage contracts.

I am finding that I like Palin more and more.  I agree that there are areas, some of them important, where she is not ready yet-- on the other hand I like that she doesn't know that the US drove Hezbollah out of Lebanon and that sending NATO in was an option.  cheesy  Clarity on the right to self defense (a.k.a. the right to bear arms) is a matter of great importance to me, and I have no interest or trust in His Glibness's slippery slope of sh*t on this.   That a leader understands that TANSTAAFL (There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) is a vital matter of importance-- and one that eludes much of the Democratic Party as well as BO-JB.  The idea of a Dem Senate, Dem House, Dem White House-- all of which appoint Dems to the Supreme Court seems to me a tremendous disaster of long lasting consequences for this country.

What I do like so far (and there is more to learn no doubt) is what I see as her core principles, her apparent integrity (e.g. going after the Republican corruption in Alaska) and her apparent ability to define herself on her own terms instead of dancing to the tune of others.  No matter our political persuasion, I hope we can all agree that the process that the MSM seeks to impose on candidates is often one of great stupidity, vapidity, and irrelevance to the matters of import.  Its more than fine by me if a candidate talks to me directly about what is important to him/her instead of "answering the question" of some Barbie and Ken teleprompter reader. (Again, I thought Ifill did a good job on this occasion-- probably due in part to her being put in the spotlight-- OTOH Katie Couric, give me a fcuking break rolleyes).  If instead a candidate uses this as a technique for evading substance, I think the collective wisdom of the democratic process will make note and exact its toll.
23932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101 on: October 04, 2008, 09:20:28 AM
Why not incest? Because of very clear health risks.

MD: Agreed.

Why not polygamy? I don't know, but you are probably on to something when you say that monogamy worked so we kept it.

MD: Can it not be argued that polygamy has worked in certain times and places and that those who believe that God say polygamy is good show be allowed to follow their religion?  How do we answer that?

I think what you are invoking is called "the slippery slope," and it is a well known logical fallacy. There is no evidence what-so-ever to indicate that allowing gay marriage will lead to incest or polygamy being legalized.

MD:  I must have missed the exposition of this point.  Would you please be so kind as to break down for me why the slippery slope is a logical fallacy?  Furthermore, I challenge your assertion that there is no evidence that there is building legal pressure for polygamy.  I cannot quote the citations, but it is my understanding that there are cases beginning to wend their way through the legal system pushing for exactly that.

All of that being said, you are correct when you state that Sharia Law should not be protected behind the curtain of multiculturalism. We do agree on something after all GM!

MD:  I'm delighted we agree that some of the tenets of Sharia are, to use your term, "religious insanity".  However, what is necessary and what remains to you/us to do is to articulate/define where the boundary between relgious freedom/tolerance and what we will not tolerate lays. 

Care to take a stab at it?  smiley
 
23933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A nation without women on: October 04, 2008, 09:10:19 AM
The following could have gone just as easily in the Gender thread, but because of the role of abortion I place it here:

A nation without women
India faces a bleak future because of a preference for sons over daughters
Indian filmgoers have a weakness for feel-good song-and-dance spectaculars. So it's not surprising that Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women won a handful of international prizes, but flopped at home. It is a tale of unrelieved horror. An innocent young girl is sold to a rural family of five sons and married to all five, plus the father. In the end, the whole woman-less village gets into the act and murderous fights break out for her favours. The film ends with the lass giving birth to a daughter.

Is this a nightmarish fantasy dreamed up by man-hating feminists?

To Western audiences, perhaps, but in India, the notion of “a nation without women” is no fantasy. It could be the future. So many unborn and newly-born girls are being killed as a result of a deep-seated preference for male heirs that millions of young men will find it hard to marry.

At the moment, according to figures from the 2001 census, the national ratio of girls aged 0-to-6 to boys is 927 to 1,000. The normal figure should be 950 to 1,000. However, this conceals enormous regional and social differences. According to the British NGO ActionAid, the situation is worst in the northern state of Punjab. "The most extreme case that we found in our research was among wealthy Punjabi families where in some communities there's only 300 girls to every 1,000 boys,” says Laura Turquet, ActionAid's women's rights policy official.

"The real horror of the situation is that, for women, avoiding having daughters is a rational choice. But for wider society it's creating an appalling and desperate state of affairs," said Ms Turquet. Despite India's growing prosperity – or perhaps because of it -- there is growing pressure on women to produce sons, because girls are seen as an expense, rather than an asset. To marry them off, parents have to pay a huge dowry. “Spend 500 rupees now and save 50,000 rupees later,” is a slogan which every parent has heard.

"The most extreme case that we found in our research was among wealthy Punjabi families where in some communities there's only 300 girls to every 1,000 boys.” 
The practice also reflects a trend towards ever-smaller families. Some couples now choose to have only one child -- and they make sure that child will be a boy. Some doctors excuse their connivance in this by describing abortion as a “social duty” which prevents the ill-treatment of unwanted daughters or helps with population control.

Many couples use ultrasound scans to detect female foetuses and then abort them. Although the practice is banned, a study in the leading medical journal The Lancet has estimated that half a million are terminated every year. In some rural areas deliberate neglect of girls, including allowing the umbilical cord to become infected, is used to dispose of unwanted daughters.

This dismal story has recently been documented in yet another report, Disappearing Daughters, from ActionAid and Canada's International Development Research Centre.

Their researchers looked at a representative sample of about 6,500 households in five districts in states already known to have especially skewed sex ratios: Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The sex ratio had dropped in four of the five districts, compared to 2001 census data. And worst of all, there were only 300 girls for every 1,000 boys among upper-caste Hindus in urban areas of Punjab's Fatehgarh Sahib district.

"There's only a third of the girls there should be in those communities. We're talking about whole villages where there are hardly any girls and we're talking about classrooms with no girls in them, and streets where only boys are playing." Ms Turquet said.

This tragedy is no secret in India – the real tragedy is that Indian society, and even stringent legislation -- seem powerless to stop it. In April Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – who has three daughters -- launched the “Save the Girl Child” campaign. He declared that no nation could claim to be part of a civilised world if it condoned female foeticide. An estimated 50 million girls have been sacrificed because of son preference.

"Census figures illustrate that in some of the richer states the problem is most acute. These states include Punjab which had only 798 girls (per 1,000 boys), Haryana 819, Delhi 868 and Gujarat 883 girls in the 2001 Census. Growing economic prosperity and education levels have not led to a corresponding mitigation in this acute problem," he said.

"Female illiteracy, obscurantist social practices like child marriage or early marriage, dowry, poor nutritional entitlements, taboos on women in public places make Indian women vulnerable. The patriarchal mindset and preference for male children is compounded by unethical conduct on the part of some medical practitioners," the PM said.

But despite the fine words, the gender ratio continues to fall.

A women's rights activist, Dr Ruth Manorama, told MercatorNet, "It is a misconception to think that this is a problem related to extreme poverty and as is revealed, female foeticide is very high in Punjab and Haryana -- some of the best-off states in the country.

“Female foeticide is a consequence of traditional gender bias and gender discrimination. Girls are seen as an economic liability and burden, partly because of the very expensive dowry that must accompany her future marriage. However, dowry is not the only cause for the selective abortion of girls; sons carry on the family name and often the business, usually inherit the property and perform the last rites. The poor eliminate their girls because of the poverty situation and for the rich, daughters are seen as less desirable. This is the deep rooted patriarchal society that we live in.”

“In spite of the progress of India on the global stage, the mindset is still primitive”, lamented Dr Manorama, laureate of the 2006 Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel). “This social evil is deep rooted in Indian ethos and the most shocking fact is that the innovative and high-end technologies are eliminating our girl-child. Attitudinal change is essential to put an end to this social malaise.

“It is most ironic, that advances in medical sciences which are intended to increas the life expectations and quality of life for millions on the contrary are being abused by unscrupulous people to bring about death our of baby girls. Instead there is a culture of death at times being promoted with these innovative techniques, like biopsy, ultrasound, scan tests and amniocentesis, devised to detect genetic abnormalities.”

And Western technology is being used to promote this genocide. Only last month Google and Microsoft were forced to withdraw controversial advertisements from their websites which had been offering sex selection products, home kits and various genetic technique services in India.

The government has tried to ban ultrasound examinations for sex determination since 1994. Pregnant women who seek help for sex selection can be sentenced to a three-year prison sentence and fined 50,000 rupees (US$1,200), while doctors can be suspended. But there have been few prosecutions. In fact, tougher regulations against sex-selection abortions have had the perverse effect of increasing the level of infanticide.

The words of a woman doctor cited in the Disappearing Daughters report spell out the problem: “Even though many families are happy to have a girl if they already have a son, the social stigma of just having girls is enormous. Just today I was treating a woman who has two daughters already and she is suffering acute anxiety that her third child will be another girl. The abuse she will receive from her in-laws and her husband will make her life very difficult if she has another daughter.

“There needs to be a serious step-change in attitudes. India might be developing economically, but in terms of our attitude to women, we’re not moving forward at all.”

Anjalee Lewis is a freelance journalist writing from Mumbai.
23934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 03:51:19 PM
GM:

I agree.

JDN:

As a general rule, I agree about "answering the question", but where I diverge is when it surrenders that candidate's communication with the people.  The media are not a gatekeeper to the American people whose permission is needed to communicate.  Sometimes, one needs simply to blow them off and define the agenda as one will-- and let the people make of it what they will.

I'll agree ducking some questions for which she wasn't ready may have been a part of it, I heartily approve of her defining herself and what she thinks important directly with the people. 
23935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iran's Nuke Waltz on: October 03, 2008, 03:23:20 PM
At its annual Vienna powwow this week, the world's nuclear watchdog is taking Iran for a few spins over its atomic ambitions. But the mullahs in Tehran know this diplomatic waltz well, and they can rest assured the dance merely frees up more time and space for them to get their bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Agency report does at least tell us the Iranians are closer than ever to becoming a nuclear power. In unusually scathing terms for an outfit disinclined to criticize Iran, the IAEA lays bare Tehran's lack of cooperation and implies it was hiding illegal military work related to its nuclear program. After six years of monitoring, says IAEA boss Mohamed ElBaradei, "the agency has not been able to make substantive progress" to resolve concerns about Iran's military ambitions.

According to the IAEA report, Iran had built up a stockpile of 1,058 pounds of "low-enriched" uranium hexafloride by the end of August. At this rate, as Gary Milhollin of Iran Watch pointed out in the New York Times, Iran will have the low-enriched uranium necessary to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb by mid-January. Iran has recently tested long-range missiles and tried to retrofit them to carry a nuclear warhead.

The five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, are on record saying a nuclear Iran would be unacceptable. Surely the U.N., meeting in General Assembly last week days after the IAEA report came out, would respond with urgency. Sure enough, the Europeans and the U.S. suggested another round of sanctions, a position backed by China. And sure enough, Russia scotched those plans.

In its place, the Security Council adopted a resolution calling on Iran to abide by the previous three resolutions to suspend its enrichment program. Translation: "Stop -- or we'll do nothing." Condoleezza Rice called it "a very positive step." Her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, a foreign minister in the Andrei Gromyko mold, was more honest: "This is a reiteration of the status quo."

The Russian ambassador at the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, claimed the irresolute resolution would channel "the minds of everybody in the direction of political rather than military enterprises." The potentially tragic irony is that the failure of resolve makes a military conflict more likely. If Iranian nuclear progress isn't halted by political or economic means, someone -- probably Israel -- will try to stop it by force.

The Security Council nonaction did give Iran a pretext to make fresh threats. A senior Iranian lawmaker told the state news agency that Iran would limit the IAEA's access to the known nuclear sites. The covert sites are off limits. Presumably he was speaking on orders. But the Europeans, joined in recent months by the Bush Administration, still claim to believe that Iran can be talked out of the bomb.

The Iranians have been offered everything from membership in the World Trade Organization to Western billions and backing for its energy sector, including civilian nuclear reactors. The mullahs mock those entreaties. And in the latest humiliation, Iran's terrorist client state with its own nuclear ambitions, Syria, was poised this week to win a seat on the IAEA's 35-member board. The U.S. and EU are trying to get Afghanistan in its place.

Both of America's Presidential candidates say they worry about a new nuclear arms race. The best way to stop proliferation, particularly in the combustible Middle East, is to start getting serious about stopping Iran from joining the club.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
23936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Willing to Lose on: October 03, 2008, 02:54:46 PM
Obama Was Willing to Lose in Iraq
A president cannot treat a war as if it's a game.By ROBERT MCFARLANEArticle
 
A profoundly important point is being missed in the campaign debate over which candidate was right on Iraq. In 2006, when conditions on the ground were trending downward and a decision was required either to continue the struggle or to cut our losses, Barack Obama stated that the proposed deployment of more forces, the "surge," was doomed to failure and instead called for a phased withdrawal of all forces within a defined period.

In short, Sen. Obama was willing to lose. It was an astonishing display of ignorance to be so cavalier about defeat, almost as if losing a war was tantamount to losing a set of tennis -- something without lasting consequence.

I recall very vividly April 30, 1975, the day we acknowledged defeat in the Vietnam War -- the day Ambassador Graham Martin and others were evacuated ignominiously from the roof of our embassy in Saigon. Only later did it become clear how damaging that defeat was.

There were consequences for all nations, especially small states who are vulnerable to great-power pressures. In the late 1970s it contributed to a greater Russian willingness to take risks and a more aggressive Soviet foreign policy. Indeed, in the years immediately following our defeat in Vietnam, an emboldened Soviet Union established a dominant influence in Angola, Ethiopia, South Yemen, Mozambique, Nicaragua and ultimately invaded Afghanistan with 100,000 troops.

Our loss also lessened our willingness to criticize the Soviet Union and thereby undermined the struggles of oppressed minorities inside that totalitarian state.

Losing a war also affects the behavior of allies who begin to wonder whether the United States can still muster the means and will to uphold its obligations, and to ask themselves whether they need at least to hedge their bets by being more conciliatory to adversaries. I recall very well the sudden rush of European foreign ministers to Moscow in the late '70s without so much as a preliminary discussion with their counterpart in Washington.

Further, losing a war also has a profound effect on the thinking within our military concerning how it was led, restricted, or abused in wartime. Painful reflection on a loss penetrates every level of the military and conditions its future relationship with civilian leaders -- as it surely did in the wake of the Vietnam War. Specifically, it led to the adoption, at military urging, of the Weinberger Doctrine, which asserted stringent criteria to be met in the future before any resort to the use of military force. These criteria included not committing forces to combat unless it was vital to our national interest, we had clearly defined political and military objectives, and unless the engagement had the support of the American people and Congress -- and then only as a last resort.

Allies and adversaries could see that these criteria were virtually impossible to fulfill, thus worrying the former and encouraging the latter. Yet such was the effect on senior military leaders of losing a war they knew they could have won. We are seeing some of the same disdain within the military toward our political leadership today as a consequence of how civilian leaders mismanaged the war in its first three-plus years.

Losing a war also affects our body politic. Americans have a low tolerance for foreign wars; losing one only reinforces their inclination to avoid foreign involvement and focus on matters here at home. Now is such a time. Yet can you imagine how much worse our political stability would be today -- faced with the financial and housing crises -- if we were also coming home from losing a war?

Consideration of these costs raises the question of whether we are forever bound to continue suffering losses if it becomes clear that we aren't winning. Considering the family of threats we face today, the question is specious. Notwithstanding the hubris and intelligence failure regarding Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program, which motivated our launching the Iraq war in the first place, and our failure to plan for the likely contingency of an insurgency arising, it is difficult to imagine circumstances anywhere in the world today where the U.S. military cannot prevail if properly employed.

This is not at all to say that we should be frivolous toward using military force -- quite the contrary. We are entering a time requiring consummate judgment and careful deliberation toward how to resolve the panoply of challenges before us. Indeed these challenges put a very high premium on coordinating the use of our political and economic resources with allies and avoiding war wherever possible.

The next president will enter office with the war in Iraq winding down but with the conflict in Afghanistan requiring urgent, focused attention. The stakes engaged there go well beyond restoring order in that country alone. How we emerge from Afghanistan will go far toward determining our ability to prevail in the global war against radical Islam, our ability to limit nuclear proliferation, and to bring order and the hope for a brighter future to the almost two billion people in South and Central Asia. These are issues of profound importance to the future security of our nation and our citizens. Losing is not an option, and no sensible leader should entertain the thought that it is.

Mr. McFarlane served as President Reagan's National Security Adviser from 1983-85.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
23937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: October 03, 2008, 02:38:55 PM
Profiles of valor: USMC LCpl McLeese
On 16 September 2004, United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Justin McLeese was riding in a convoy traveling to a compound in central Iraq when his Humvee flipped off the road in the rough, gravel terrain. He was thrown 20 feet from the vehicle but immediately went back to help those trapped inside. McLeese pulled two fellow Marines from the wreckage, including his platoon sergeant. The platoon then lifted the Humvee off the ground to save a third Marine stuck underneath.

It was in Fallujah later that year, though, where McLeese really proved his mettle. As his team was clearing numerous buildings in the city on 11 November, they engaged and killed four enemy fighters. One insurgent had faked his death, however, and tried to engage the Marines from a nearby room. McLeese acted quickly, eliminating the threat with a shotgun blast. Two days later, upon entering another building in Fallujah, McLeese was hit numerous times by enemy fire. Despite his wounds, he continued to fight alongside his comrades until he was fatally wounded by an IED explosion. For his courage and tenacity under fire, McLeese posthumously received the Bronze Star.
23938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison; S. Adams on: October 03, 2008, 02:29:13 PM
"For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures
will be unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national
objects, the members of the federal legislature will be likely
to attach themselves too much to local objects."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 46, 1 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 46
==================

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can
any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is
preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant,
and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own
weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."

-- Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 November 1775)

Reference: Our Sacred Honor, Bennett (261)
23939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 02:22:59 PM
Over to you JDN  smiley
23940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 03, 2008, 10:15:12 AM
In alignment with its agenda, the NY Times seeks to share the blame.  Is the point fair?

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

y STEPHEN LABATON
Published: October 2, 2008
“We have a good deal of comfort about the capital cushions at these firms at the moment.” — Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, March 11, 2008.

As rumors swirled that Bear Stearns faced imminent collapse in early March, Christopher Cox was told by his staff that Bear Stearns had $17 billion in cash and other assets — more than enough to weather the storm.

Drained of most of its cash three days later, Bear Stearns was forced into a hastily arranged marriage with JPMorgan Chase — backed by a $29 billion taxpayer dowry.

Within six months, other lions of Wall Street would also either disappear or transform themselves to survive the financial maelstrom — Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley converted to commercial banks.

How could Mr. Cox have been so wrong?

Many events in Washington, on Wall Street and elsewhere around the country have led to what has been called the most serious financial crisis since the 1930s. But decisions made at a brief meeting on April 28, 2004, explain why the problems could spin out of control. The agency’s failure to follow through on those decisions also explains why Washington regulators did not see what was coming.

On that bright spring afternoon, the five members of the Securities and Exchange Commission met in a basement hearing room to consider an urgent plea by the big investment banks.

They wanted an exemption for their brokerage units from an old regulation that limited the amount of debt they could take on. The exemption would unshackle billions of dollars held in reserve as a cushion against losses on their investments. Those funds could then flow up to the parent company, enabling it to invest in the fast-growing but opaque world of mortgage-backed securities; credit derivatives, a form of insurance for bond holders; and other exotic instruments.

The five investment banks led the charge, including Goldman Sachs, which was headed by Henry M. Paulson Jr. Two years later, he left to become Treasury secretary.

A lone dissenter — a software consultant and expert on risk management — weighed in from Indiana with a two-page letter to warn the commission that the move was a grave mistake. He never heard back from Washington.

One commissioner, Harvey J. Goldschmid, questioned the staff about the consequences of the proposed exemption. It would only be available for the largest firms, he was reassuringly told — those with assets greater than $5 billion.

“We’ve said these are the big guys,” Mr. Goldschmid said, provoking nervous laughter, “but that means if anything goes wrong, it’s going to be an awfully big mess.”

Mr. Goldschmid, an authority on securities law from Columbia, was a behind-the-scenes adviser in 2002 to Senator Paul S. Sarbanes when he rewrote the nation’s corporate laws after a wave of accounting scandals. “Do we feel secure if there are these drops in capital we really will have investor protection?” Mr. Goldschmid asked. A senior staff member said the commission would hire the best minds, including people with strong quantitative skills to parse the banks’ balance sheets.

Annette L. Nazareth, the head of market regulation, reassured the commission that under the new rules, the companies for the first time could be restricted by the commission from excessively risky activity. She was later appointed a commissioner and served until January 2008.

“I’m very happy to support it,” said Commissioner Roel C. Campos, a former federal prosecutor and owner of a small radio broadcasting company from Houston, who then deadpanned: “And I keep my fingers crossed for the future.”

The proceeding was sparsely attended. None of the major media outlets, including The New York Times, covered it.

After 55 minutes of discussion, which can now be heard on the Web sites of the agency and The Times, the chairman, William H. Donaldson, a veteran Wall Street executive, called for a vote. It was unanimous. The decision, changing what was known as the net capital rule, was completed and published in The Federal Register a few months later.

With that, the five big independent investment firms were unleashed.

In loosening the capital rules, which are supposed to provide a buffer in turbulent times, the agency also decided to rely on the firms’ own computer models for determining the riskiness of investments, essentially outsourcing the job of monitoring risk to the banks themselves.

Over the following months and years, each of the firms would take advantage of the looser rules. At Bear Stearns, the leverage ratio — a measurement of how much the firm was borrowing compared to its total assets — rose sharply, to 33 to 1. In other words, for every dollar in equity, it had $33 of debt. The ratios at the other firms also rose significantly.

The 2004 decision for the first time gave the S.E.C. a window on the banks’ increasingly risky investments in mortgage-related securities.

But the agency never took true advantage of that part of the bargain. The supervisory program under Mr. Cox, who arrived at the agency a year later, was a low priority.
==============
Page 2 of 3)



The commission assigned seven people to examine the parent companies — which last year controlled financial empires with combined assets of more than $4 trillion. Since March 2007, the office has not had a director. And as of last month, the office had not completed a single inspection since it was reshuffled by Mr. Cox more than a year and a half ago.

The few problems the examiners preliminarily uncovered about the riskiness of the firms’ investments and their increased reliance on debt — clear signs of trouble — were all but ignored.

The commission’s division of trading and markets “became aware of numerous potential red flags prior to Bear Stearns’s collapse, regarding its concentration of mortgage securities, high leverage, shortcomings of risk management in mortgage-backed securities and lack of compliance with the spirit of certain” capital standards, said an inspector general’s report issued last Friday. But the division “did not take actions to limit these risk factors.”

Drive to Deregulate

The commission’s decision effectively to outsource its oversight to the firms themselves fit squarely in the broader Washington culture of the last eight years under President Bush.

A similar closeness to industry and laissez-faire philosophy has driven a push for deregulation throughout the government, from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to worker safety and transportation agencies.

“It’s a fair criticism of the Bush administration that regulators have relied on many voluntary regulatory programs,” said Roderick M. Hills, a Republican who was chairman of the S.E.C. under President Gerald R. Ford. “The problem with such voluntary programs is that, as we’ve seen throughout history, they often don’t work.”

As was the case with other agencies, the commission’s decision was motivated by industry complaints of excessive regulation at a time of growing competition from overseas. The 2004 decision was aimed at easing regulatory burdens that the European Union was about to impose on the foreign operations of United States investment banks.

The Europeans said they would agree not to regulate the foreign subsidiaries of the investment banks on one condition — that the commission regulate the parent companies, along with the brokerage units that the S.E.C. already oversaw.

A 1999 law, however, had left a gap that did not give the commission explicit oversight of the parent companies. To get around that problem, and in exchange for the relaxed capital rules, the banks volunteered to let the commission examine the books of their parent companies and subsidiaries.

The 2004 decision also reflected a faith that Wall Street’s financial interests coincided with Washington’s regulatory interests.

“We foolishly believed that the firms had a strong culture of self-preservation and responsibility and would have the discipline not to be excessively borrowing,” said Professor James D. Cox, an expert on securities law and accounting at Duke School of Law (and no relationship to Christopher Cox).

“Letting the firms police themselves made sense to me because I didn’t think the S.E.C. had the staff and wherewithal to impose its own standards and I foolishly thought the market would impose its own self-discipline. We’ve all learned a terrible lesson,” he added.

In letters to the commissioners, senior executives at the five investment banks complained about what they called unnecessary regulation and oversight by both American and European authorities. A lone voice of dissent in the 2004 proceeding came from a software consultant from Valparaiso, Ind., who said the computer models run by the firms — which the regulators would be relying on — could not anticipate moments of severe market turbulence.

“With the stroke of a pen, capital requirements are removed!” the consultant, Leonard D. Bole, wrote to the commission on Jan. 22, 2004. “Has the trading environment changed sufficiently since 1997, when the current requirements were enacted, that the commission is confident that current requirements in examples such as these can be disregarded?”

He said that similar computer standards had failed to protect Long-Term Capital Management, the hedge fund that collapsed in 1998, and could not protect companies from the market plunge of October 1987.

Mr. Bole, who earned a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Chicago, helps write computer programs that financial institutions use to meet capital requirements.

He said in a recent interview that he was never called by anyone from the commission.

“I’m a little guy in the land of giants,” he said. “I thought that the reduction in capital was rather dramatic.”

Policing Wall Street

A once-proud agency with a rich history at the intersection of Washington and Wall Street, the Securities and Exchange Commission was created during the Great Depression as part of the broader effort to restore confidence to battered investors. It was led in its formative years by heavyweight New Dealers, including James Landis and William O. Douglas. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt was asked in 1934 why he appointed Joseph P. Kennedy, a spectacularly successful stock speculator, as the agency’s first chairman, Roosevelt replied: “Set a thief to catch a thief.”

The commission’s most public role in policing Wall Street is its enforcement efforts. But critics say that in recent years it has failed to deter market problems. “It seems to me the enforcement effort in recent years has fallen short of what one Supreme Court justice once called the fear of the shotgun behind the door,” said Arthur Levitt Jr., who was S.E.C. chairman in the Clinton administration. “With this commission, the shotgun too rarely came out from behind the door.”
==================
Page 3 of 3)



Christopher Cox had been a close ally of business groups in his 17 years as a House member from one of the most conservative districts in Southern California. Mr. Cox had led the effort to rewrite securities laws to make investor lawsuits harder to file. He also fought against accounting rules that would give less favorable treatment to executive stock options.

Under Mr. Cox, the commission responded to complaints by some businesses by making it more difficult for the enforcement staff to investigate and bring cases against companies. The commission has repeatedly reversed or reduced proposed settlements that companies had tentatively agreed upon. While the number of enforcement cases has risen, the number of cases involving significant players or large amounts of money has declined.

Mr. Cox dismantled a risk management office created by Mr. Donaldson that was assigned to watch for future problems. While other financial regulatory agencies criticized a blueprint by Mr. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, that proposed to reduce their stature — and that of the S.E.C. — Mr. Cox did not challenge the plan, leaving it to three former Democratic and Republican commission chairmen to complain that the blueprint would neuter the agency.

In the process, Mr. Cox has surrounded himself with conservative lawyers, economists and accountants who, before the market turmoil of recent months, had embraced a far more limited vision for the commission than many of his predecessors.

‘Stakes in the Ground’

Last Friday, the commission formally ended the 2004 program, acknowledging that it had failed to anticipate the problems at Bear Stearns and the four other major investment banks.

“The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work,” Mr. Cox said.

The decision to shutter the program came after Mr. Cox was blamed by Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, for the crisis. Mr. McCain has demanded Mr. Cox’s resignation.

Mr. Cox has said that the 2004 program was flawed from its inception. But former officials as well as the inspector general’s report have suggested that a major reason for its failure was Mr. Cox’s use of it.

“In retrospect, the tragedy is that the 2004 rule making gave us the ability to get information that would have been critical to sensible monitoring, and yet the S.E.C. didn’t oversee well enough,” Mr. Goldschmid said in an interview. He and Mr. Donaldson left the commission in 2005.

Mr. Cox declined requests for an interview. In response to written questions, including whether he or the commission had made any mistakes over the last three years that contributed to the current crisis, he said, “There will be no shortage of retrospective analyses about what happened and what should have happened.” He said that by last March he had concluded that the monitoring program’s “metrics were inadequate.”

He said that because the commission did not have the authority to curtail the heavy borrowing at Bear Stearns and the other firms, he and the commission were powerless to stop it.

“Implementing a purely voluntary program was very difficult because the commission’s regulations shouldn’t be suggestions,” he said. “The fact these companies could withdraw from voluntary supervision at their discretion diminished the mandate of the program and weakened its effectiveness. Experience has shown that the S.E.C. could not bootstrap itself into authority it didn’t have.”

But critics say that the commission could have done more, and that the agency’s effectiveness comes from the tone set at the top by the chairman, or what Mr. Levitt, the longest-serving S.E.C. chairman in history, calls “stakes in the ground.”

“If you go back to the chairmen in recent years, you will see that each spoke about a variety of issues that were important to them,” Mr. Levitt said. “This commission placed very few stakes in the ground.”



23941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 03, 2008, 09:23:09 AM
I agree Ifill behaved, indeed I thought she did a rather good job-- though I suspect her personal policitics being put in the spotlight had something to do with that.

I thought SP did quite well.  Although not able to wonk with Biden on some of the points and there were some passages where he scored well, she showed a strong ability to define things on her terms and an impressive abiilty to absorb and articulate a lot of material-- to operate at this level after 5 weeks on the national stage I find genuinely impressive.  She did very well keeping track of Biden's points and answering them-- and ducking the ones that she wanted to.  I thought she did well by steering the conversation to energy matters where she was able to show substance, and did VERY well with "the vision thing", leaving Biden looking the wonk.
23942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: October 02, 2008, 05:12:43 PM
 
Unlike Clinton, Biden Gets Pass for Saying He Was 'Shot At' in Iraq
When Hillary Clinton told a tall tale about "landing under sniper fire" in Bosnia, she was accused of "inflating her war experience" by Barack Obama's campaign -- but the campaign has been silent about Joe Biden telling his own questionable story about being "shot at" in Iraq. 
By Bill Sammon

FOXNews.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

 
Barack Obama and Joe Biden wave to the crowd as they arrive for a rally in Fredericksburg, Va., Saturday. (AP Photo)

When Hillary Clinton told a tall tale about "landing under sniper fire" in Bosnia, she was accused of "inflating her war experience" by rival Democrat Barack Obama's campaign.

But the campaign has been silent about Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, telling his own questionable story about being "shot at" in Iraq.

"Let's start telling the truth," Biden said during a presidential primary debate sponsored by YouTube last year. "Number one, you take all the troops out - you better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone, where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die."

But when questioned about the episode afterward by the Hill newspaper, Biden backpedaled from his claim of being "shot at" and instead allowed: "I was near where a shot landed."

The senior senator from Delaware went on to say that some sort of projectile "landed" outside a building in the Green Zone where he and another senator had spent the night during a visit in December 2005. The lawmakers were shaving in the morning when they felt the building shake, Biden said.

"No one got up and ran from the room-it wasn't that kind of thing," he told the Hill. "It's not like I had someone holding a gun to my head."

The rest of the press ignored the flap at the time because Biden was viewed as having little chance of ending up on the Democratic presidential ticket. But even after Biden was selected to be Obama's running mate last month, his claim to have been "shot at" drew no scrutiny from the same reporters who had savaged Clinton for making a similar claim that turned out to be false.

FOX News has been asking the Obama campaign for details of the alleged shooting in Iraq ever since Biden was tapped to be vice president. Biden campaign spokesman David Wade promised an answer last week, but failed to provide one.

Meanwhile, the gaffe-prone Biden has again raised eyebrows with another story about his exploits in war zones - this time in Afghanistan. Biden said he will grill Republican rival Sarah Palin in Thursday's vice presidential debate about "the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan where my helicopter was forced down."

"If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where Bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me," Biden bragged to the National Guard Association. "Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are."

But it turns out that inclement weather, not terrorists, prompted the chopper to land in an open field during Biden's visit to Afghanistan in February. Fighter jets kept watch overhead while a convoy of security vehicles was dispatched to retrieve Biden and fellow Senators Chuck Hagel and John Kerry.

"We were going to send Biden out to fight the Taliban with snowballs, but we didn't have to," joked Kerry, a Democrat, to the AP. "Other than getting a little cold, it was fine."

Biden never explicitly claimed his chopper had been forced down by terrorists. Nonetheless,

John McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said Obama-Biden officials have been less than forthcoming about Biden's dramatic war stories.

"They never explained Biden's helicopter story from last week - which is very similar to the story about getting 'shot at' in Baghdad," Rogers said.

Bill Sammon is deputy Washington managing editor for FOX News Channel.
23943  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: October 02, 2008, 05:09:56 PM
Let the Howl Go Forth!

May it be recorded on the Fire Hydrant of the Tribe!

Mat “Boo Dog” Booe
Stefan “Cro Dog” Kostanjevec

Oskar “C- Spider Dog” Bernal
Riccardo “C- Full Metal Dog” Bassani
Roberto “C- Staffy Dog” Cereda
Tomek “C- Tank Dog” Jurkiewicz
Colin “C- Point Dog” Stewart
Christian “C- Lefty Dog” Eckert

“Dog” Abu Dayyeh
“Dog” Andreas Hommel
“Dog” Chris Smith
“Dog” Detlef Thiem
“Dog” Frederico Corriente
“Dog” Gabriele Cortonesi
“Dog” James Macdonald
“Dog” Jerome Challon
“Dog” Kai Schilling
“Dog” Martin Blatter
“Dog” Matt Tucker
“Dog” Miguel Lopez
“Dog” Odin
“Dog” Pawel Imiela
“Dog” Peter Fray
“Dog” Ray Wilson
“Dog” Sebastian Ehlen
“Dog” Thomas Rickert
“Dog” Torben Lorenian
“Dog” Vitaliano Sestito

"Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact!" (c)
Crafty Dog
GF
23944  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: October 02, 2008, 04:48:12 PM
Heck, I can't think of an impressive KS in ANY of his fights cheesy 

I thought he was a real jerk to his fighters on TUF and will smile if Kimbo takes him.
23945  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Street Weapons on: October 02, 2008, 04:44:53 PM
In DLO 1 I reference a story by Dogzilla who has a story about being on a cell extraction team that had to remove a muscular 250 pound con with such a razor blade from his cell  shocked
23946  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Count Dante? on: October 02, 2008, 04:40:34 PM
Actually I am kind of partial to "the Dogfather" cheesy

BTW, there is a colorful story from the 70s about GT Leo Gaje and the Count , , , wink
23947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / That was then, this is now on: October 02, 2008, 12:37:01 PM
WSJ

House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 10, 2003:

Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.): I worry, frankly, that there's a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios. . . .

 
AP
Clockwise from top left: Sen. Thomas Carper, Rep. Barney Frank, Sen. Robert Bennett, Rep. Maxine Waters, Sen. Chris Dodd and Sen. Charles Schumer.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), speaking to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez:

Secretary Martinez, if it ain't broke, why do you want to fix it? Have the GSEs [government-sponsored enterprises] ever missed their housing goals?

* * *
House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:

Rep. Frank: I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing. . . .

* * *
House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:

Rep. Gregory Meeks, (D., N.Y.): . . . I am just pissed off at Ofheo [Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight] because if it wasn't for you I don't think that we would be here in the first place.

 Fannie Mayhem: A History
A compendium of The Wall Street Journal's recent editorial coverage of Fannie and Freddie.
And Freddie Mac, who on its own, you know, came out front and indicated it is wrong, and now the problem that we have and that we are faced with is maybe some individuals who wanted to do away with GSEs in the first place, you have given them an excuse to try to have this forum so that we can talk about it and maybe change the direction and the mission of what the GSEs had, which they have done a tremendous job. . .

Ofheo Director Armando Falcon Jr.: Congressman, Ofheo did not improperly apply accounting rules; Freddie Mac did. Ofheo did not try to manage earnings improperly; Freddie Mac did. So this isn't about the agency's engagement in improper conduct, it is about Freddie Mac. Let me just correct the record on that. . . . I have been asking for these additional authorities for four years now. I have been asking for additional resources, the independent appropriations assessment powers.

This is not a matter of the agency engaging in any misconduct. . . .

Rep. Waters: However, I have sat through nearly a dozen hearings where, frankly, we were trying to fix something that wasn't broke. Housing is the economic engine of our economy, and in no community does this engine need to work more than in mine. With last week's hurricane and the drain on the economy from the war in Iraq, we should do no harm to these GSEs. We should be enhancing regulation, not making fundamental change.

Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and in particular at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Mr. Frank Raines. Everything in the 1992 act has worked just fine. In fact, the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals. . . .

Rep. Frank: Let me ask [George] Gould and [Franklin] Raines on behalf of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, do you feel that over the past years you have been substantially under-regulated?

Mr. Raines?

Mr. Raines: No, sir.

Mr. Frank: Mr. Gould?

Mr. Gould: No, sir. . . .

Mr. Frank: OK. Then I am not entirely sure why we are here. . . .

Rep. Frank: I believe there has been more alarm raised about potential unsafety and unsoundness than, in fact, exists.

* * *
Senate Banking Committee, Oct. 16, 2003:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.): And my worry is that we're using the recent safety and soundness concerns, particularly with Freddie, and with a poor regulator, as a straw man to curtail Fannie and Freddie's mission. And I don't think there is any doubt that there are some in the administration who don't believe in Fannie and Freddie altogether, say let the private sector do it. That would be sort of an ideological position.

Mr. Raines: But more importantly, banks are in a far more risky business than we are.

* * *
Senate Banking Committee, Feb. 24-25, 2004:

Sen. Thomas Carper (D., Del.): What is the wrong that we're trying to right here? What is the potential harm that we're trying to avert?

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan: Well, I think that that is a very good question, senator.

What we're trying to avert is we have in our financial system right now two very large and growing financial institutions which are very effective and are essentially capable of gaining market shares in a very major market to a large extent as a consequence of what is perceived to be a subsidy that prevents the markets from adjusting appropriately, prevents competition and the normal adjustment processes that we see on a day-by-day basis from functioning in a way that creates stability. . . . And so what we have is a structure here in which a very rapidly growing organization, holding assets and financing them by subsidized debt, is growing in a manner which really does not in and of itself contribute to either home ownership or necessarily liquidity or other aspects of the financial markets. . . .

Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.): [T]he federal government has [an] ambiguous relationship with the GSEs. And how do we actually get rid of that ambiguity is a complicated, tricky thing. I don't know how we do it.

I mean, you've alluded to it a little bit, but how do we define the relationship? It's important, is it not?

Mr. Greenspan: Yes. Of all the issues that have been discussed today, I think that is the most difficult one. Because you cannot have, in a rational government or a rational society, two fundamentally different views as to what will happen under a certain event. Because it invites crisis, and it invites instability. . .

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.): I, just briefly will say, Mr. Chairman, obviously, like most of us here, this is one of the great success stories of all time. And we don't want to lose sight of that and [what] has been pointed out by all of our witnesses here, obviously, the 70% of Americans who own their own homes today, in no small measure, due because of the work that's been done here. And that shouldn't be lost in this debate and discussion. . . .

* * *
Senate Banking Committee, April 6, 2005:

Sen. Schumer: I'll lay my marker down right now, Mr. Chairman. I think Fannie and Freddie need some changes, but I don't think they need dramatic restructuring in terms of their mission, in terms of their role in the secondary mortgage market, et cetera. Change some of the accounting and regulatory issues, yes, but don't undo Fannie and Freddie.

* * *
Senate Banking Committee, June 15, 2006:

Sen. Robert Bennett (R., Utah): I think we do need a strong regulator. I think we do need a piece of legislation. But I think we do need also to be careful that we don't overreact.

I know the press, particularly, keeps saying this is another Enron, which it clearly is not. Fannie Mae has taken its lumps. Fannie Mae is paying a very large fine. Fannie Mae is under a very, very strong microscope, which it needs to be. . . . So let's not do nothing, and at the same time, let's not overreact. . .

Sen. Jack Reed (D., R.I.): I think a lot of people are being opportunistic, . . . throwing out the baby with the bathwater, saying, "Let's dramatically restructure Fannie and Freddie," when that is not what's called for as a result of what's happened here. . . .

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.): Mr. Chairman, what we're dealing with is an astounding failure of management and board responsibility, driven clearly by self interest and greed. And when we reference this issue in the context of -- the best we can say is, "It's no Enron." Now, that's a hell of a high standard.

Please add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
23948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Fatwa for Zardini on: October 02, 2008, 12:33:20 PM
I suppose I could have posted this in the Gender thread as well  cheesy

Flirting with Palin earns Pakistani president a fatwa

A leading religious leader condemned Asif Ali Zardari's comments to Sarah Palin at the UN.

By Issam Ahmed | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor from the October 2, 2008 edition
Lahore, Pakistan - After the flirtation came the fatwa.
With some overly friendly comments to Gov. Sarah Palin at the United Nations, Asif Ali Zardari has succeeded in uniting one of Pakistan's hard-line mosques and its feminists after a few weeks in office.
A radical Muslim prayer leader said the president shamed the nation for "indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt."

Feminists charged that once again a male Pakistani leader has embarrassed the country with sexist remarks. And across the board, the Pakistani press has shown disapproval.

What did President Zardari do to draw such scorn? It might have been the "gorgeous" compliment he gave Ms. Palin when the two met at the UN last week during her meet-and-greet with foreign leaders ahead of Thursday's vice presidential debate with opponent Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

But the comments from Zardari didn't end there. He went on to tell Palin: "Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you."
"You are so nice," replied the Republican vice presidential hopeful, smiling. "Thank you."

But what may have really caused Pakistan's radical religious leaders to stew was his comment that he might "hug" Palin if his handler insisted.
Though the fatwa, issued days after the Sept. 24 exchange, carries little weight among most Pakistanis, it's indicative of the anger felt by Pakistan's increasingly assertive conservatives who consider physical contact and flattery between a man and woman who aren't married to each other distasteful. Though fatwas, or religious edicts, can range from advice on daily life to death sentences, this one does not call for any action or violence.

Last year, the mosque that issued the fatwa, Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, condemned the former tourism minister, Nilofar Bahktiar, after she was photographed being hugged by a male parachuting coach in France.
Clerics declared the act a "great sin" and, though less vocal about it, similar sentiments were shared by many among Pakistani's middle classes. The Red Mosque gained international infamy in July 2007 after becoming the focal point of a Pakistan Army operation.

For the feminists it's less about cozying up to a non-Muslim woman and more about the sexist remarks by Zardari.

"As a Pakistani and as a woman, it was shameful and unacceptable. He was looking upon her merely as a woman and not as a politician in her own right," says Tahira Abdullah, a member of the Women's Action Forum.
Dismissing the mosque's concerns as "ranting," she, however, adds: "He should show some decorum – if he loved his wife so much as to press for a United Nations investigation into her death, he should behave like a mourning widower," in reference to former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, a feminist icon for millions of Pakistani women.
The theme of decorum was picked up by English daily Dawn, whose editorial asked: "Why do our presidents always end up embarrassing us internationally by making sexist remarks?"
The incident bears some resemblance to yet another charm offensive by a senior Pakistani politician. Marcus Mabry's biography of Condoleezza Rice includes a passage in which he relates a meeting between former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Ms. Rice, in which Mr. Aziz was said to have stared deeply into the secretary of State's eyes and to have told her he could "conquer any woman in two minutes."
There are some, however, who see things as having been blown out of proportion.
"It was a sweet and innocuous exchange played as an international incident on Pakistani and rascally Indian front-pages with one English daily [writing] it in a scarlet box, half-implying Mrs. Palin would ditch Alaska's First Dude and become Pakistan's First Babe. As if," wrote columnist Fasih Ahmed in the Daily Times.
For most, it will soon be forgotten in a country dealing with terrorism, rising food prices, and a struggling economy. "We don't care that much how they [politicians] behave – what really matters is keeping prices down," says Nazeera Bibi, a maid in Lahore.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1002/p04s01-wosc.html
23949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: October 02, 2008, 12:15:11 PM
Very funny-- and given the poor deceived state of the people's awareness of these issues, a parody that runs the risk of being taken seriously.
23950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: October 02, 2008, 12:12:07 PM
Well, some folks think partial birth abortion (supported by BO btw)  is infanticide, likewise leaving aborted fetuses to die outside of the womb (supported by BO btw)  -- this apart from the general circular discussion about when life begins.

Furthermore, it does seem like polygamy is on the radar screen, see e.g. the beginnings of Sharia in the UK, Canada, as discussed in other threads.
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