Dog Brothers Public Forum
Return To Homepage
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 22, 2015, 05:07:36 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
86222 Posts in 2275 Topics by 1068 Members
Latest Member: cdenny
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 ... 477 478 [479] 480 481 ... 664
23901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for Reps/Conservatives on: February 17, 2009, 09:07:10 AM
Here is the key question:  Change the message to , , , what?

Something like this? 
====================

NYT

WASHINGTON — President Obama must wish governors could vote in Congress: While just three of the 219 Republican lawmakers backed the $787 billion economic recovery plan that he is signing into law on Tuesday, that trifling total would have been several times greater if support among the 22 Republican state executives counted.

The contrast reflects the two faces of the Republican Party these days.

Leaderless after losing the White House, the party is mostly defined by its Congressional wing, which flaunted its anti-spending ideology in opposing the stimulus package. That militancy drew the mockery of late-night television comics, but the praise of conservative talk-show stars and the party faithful.

In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington.

Across the country, from California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger to Florida’s Charlie Crist and New England’s Jim Douglas in Vermont and M. Jodi Rell in Connecticut, Republican governors showed in the stimulus debate that they could be allies with Mr. Obama even as Congressional Republicans spurned him.

“It really is a matter of perspective,” Mr. Crist said in an interview. “As a governor, the pragmatism that you have to exercise because of the constitutional obligation to balance your budget is a very compelling pull” generally.

With Florida facing a projected $5 billion shortfall in a $66 billion budget, and social costs rising, the stimulus package “helps plug that hole,” Mr. Crist said, “but it also helps us meet the needs of the people in a very difficult economic time.”

Mr. Obama’s two-year stimulus package includes more than $135 billion for states, to help them pay for education, Medicaid and infrastructure projects. Yet even that sum would cover less than half of the total budget deficits the states will face through 2010, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research and advocacy organization.

The states’ reliance on the federal government in times of distress will be showcased this weekend, when the governors come to Washington for their annual winter meeting. Their focus will be on infrastructure needs and home foreclosures.

The disconnect between Republican members of Congress and governors recalls the mid-1990s, when Republicans took control of both the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years. After an initial public show of being partners in a “Republican revolution,” the partnership all but dissolved when governors strongly objected as the more dogmatic conservatives in Congress tried to cut domestic programs and then shut down the federal government in an unsuccessful showdown with President Bill Clinton.

Recently, Governors Schwarzenegger, Crist, Douglas and Rell joined 14 Democratic governors in signing a letter to Mr. Obama lauding his economic plan. Other Republicans would have signed on, said a person familiar with the letter’s drafting, but for party pressure in their states.

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”

Yet all 16 of Florida’s Republicans in Congress voted against the package. Representative Cliff Stearns condemned it during the final debate as an “unprecedented big-government grab for citizen reliance on the federal government.” Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, called the bill “a steaming pile of garbage” on his cable television talk show.

The House Republican leader, John A. Boehner of Ohio, angrily dumped the 1,073-page bill to the floor during debate. In the Senate, John McCain of Arizona called it “nothing less than generational theft.” And Republicans in both chambers derided what they described, often misleadingly, as pork spending for the likes of marsh mouse preservation.

Many projects, however, reflected the job-creation wish lists that governors had sent in.

Utah’s Republican governor, Jon Huntsman Jr. sought up to $14.4 billion for roads, rail and sewer projects and for construction of a prison, courthouses and veterans’ nursing homes. Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama, another Republican, came to Washington to discuss transportation projects with his state’s Congressional delegation. “He’s going to make sure Alabama doesn’t miss out on the money we’re entitled to,” a spokesman said.

Mr. Obama began courting the governors before taking office. He invited them to Independence Hall in Philadelphia in December to discuss the economic challenges. Nearly all accepted.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Obama had “a special word” for the Republicans: “I offer you the same hand of friendship and cooperation that I offer our Democratic governors.” He deferred to Mr. Douglas, the Vermont Republican, to steer the discussion.

Privately, Republicans favorably contrasted Mr. Obama with the outgoing Republican president, George W. Bush, according to two participants.

Though Mr. Bush had been a governor — in good economic times — his relations with state executives were distant at best. Amid a downturn early in the decade, he unsuccessfully opposed $20 billion for the states. Last fall, he resisted some Republicans’ pleas for aid.

Mr. Douglas in January sought a meeting with the new administration at the White House office that is a liaison to governors. Instead, he got an Oval Office meeting with Mr. Obama.

When reporters briefly came in — the two men flanked the fireplace just as presidents and foreign heads of state typically do — Mr. Douglas praised Mr. Obama for his leadership. The stimulus bill “might be a little different” if he had written it, the Republican said. “But the essence of a recovery package is essential to get our nation’s economy moving.”


23902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / two from the NYT on: February 17, 2009, 09:03:35 AM
second post of the morning:

Last June, Bakht Bilind Khan, who was living in the Bronx and working at a fast-food restaurant, returned to his village in the volatile Swat Valley of northern Pakistan to visit his wife and seven children for the first time in three years.

Until recently, the Swat Valley was popular as a vacation site.
But at a dinner celebration with his family, his homecoming suddenly turned dark: several heavily armed Taliban fighters wearing masks appeared at the door of their house, accused Mr. Khan of being an American spy and kidnapped him.

During two weeks of captivity in a nearby mountain range, Mr. Khan says, he was interrogated repeatedly about his wealth, property and “mission” in the United States. He was released in exchange for an $8,000 ransom. His family, threatened with death if they did not leave the region, is now hiding elsewhere in Pakistan.

“Our Swat, our paradise, is burning now,” said Mr. Khan, 55, who returned to the United States and is working at a fast-food restaurant in Albany, trying to reimburse the friends and relatives who paid his ransom.

Pakistani immigrants from the Swat Valley, where the Taliban have been battling Pakistani security forces since 2007, say some of their families are being singled out for threats, kidnapping and even murder by Taliban forces, who view them as potential American collaborators and lucrative sources of ransom. Some immigrants also say they, too, have been threatened in the United States by the Taliban or its sympathizers, and some immigrants say they have been attacked or kidnapped when they have returned home.

The threats have brought an added dimension of suffering for the immigrants, who say fresh reports of hardship arrive here every day, sometimes several times a day, and spread quickly among the several thousand Swati immigrants in the New York region: families driven from their villages, houses being destroyed, relatives disappearing. The fate of the valley dominates conversation among the exiles.

“It’s 24/7,” said Zakrya Khan, 30, the owner of two gyro restaurants in New York whose staff of 15 is almost entirely Swati. “This is their only concern now.”

Though every community of exiles from a conflict-ridden country suffers when relatives who remain behind are caught in the fight, the immigrants from Swat also bear the burden of believing that their presence in America is endangering their relatives back home, where the Taliban have imposed their authority over vast swaths of the region, about 100 miles northwest of Islamabad.

More than that, Swati immigrants say they have been left with the sense that the more they try to help their families back home, the more harm they may do, an excruciating dilemma that has filled many with a combination of helplessness, fear, sadness and guilt.

If they speak out, they fear, it could lead to retribution for them or their relatives in Pakistan. Some exiles who have participated in anti-Taliban political demonstrations here or agitated in support of Swat residents say that they and their families have come under pressure as a result of these activities.

And few dare leave the United States for fear of losing the single largest income stream their families have.

“To go to their rescue would actually make the situation worse,” said Mr. Khan, the restaurant owner. “We are the only source of income for these people. If we leave the United States, they’ll have no one supporting them.”

The Pakistan government announced Monday that it had struck a tentative deal with the Taliban amid a 10-day ceasefire to establish Islamic law in the region and suspend military operations there. But some Swati immigrants said they were skeptical the deal would hold — two other accords in the last six months failed — and they were bracing for a resumption of violence.

Iqbal Ali Khan, 50, the general secretary of the American chapter of the Awami National Party, a dominant secular political party in Swat, said he had received three threatening phone calls in the past two months. The callers, who did not identify themselves, told Mr. Khan he was “too active” and ordered him to bring $1 million with him on his next trip to Pakistan.

“Or you know what will happen,” one caller said, according to Mr. Khan, who is also the owner of a limousine company based in Queens. “We know your family.”

The most recent call came last Tuesday. “You’re still active,” Mr. Khan quoted the caller as saying. “This is the last warning.”

On Wednesday, he received a dire call from his brother, who at that very moment was hiding in a forest on the outskirts of the valley’s largest city, Mingora, with their 97-year-old father.

==================
Page 2 of 2)


The elder Mr. Khan had received a letter from the Taliban earlier in the day warning him that he would be kidnapped unless he handed over $200,000. The note specifically instructed the father to get the money from his son in the United States.


Iqbal Ali Khan, the general secretary of the American chapter of the Awami National Party, a dominant secular political party in Swat, says he has been receiving threatening telephone calls.

“My 97-year-old father is on the run,” exclaimed the younger Mr. Khan, his voice choking up in sadness. “Tragedy! Tragedy!”

Before the start of the Taliban’s incursion into the region in 2007, Swat was treasured as a vacation spot, particularly among Pashtuns, the ethnic group that dominates the region. Known as “the Switzerland of Pakistan,” it has snowy peaks, fruit orchards, lakes and flower-covered meadows.

But the tourism industry has evaporated amid the Taliban’s uprising, and by some estimates, hundreds of thousands of residents have abandoned their homes, fleeing for Mingora or other regions of Pakistan. Immigrants have been coming from the Swat Valley for years, well before it became a front in the war between the Taliban and Pakistani government troops. There are an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people from the Swat Valley in the United States, about half of whom live in the New York metropolitan region, said Taj Akbar Khan, president of the Khyber Society USA, a Pakistani charitable and cultural organization. In New York, Swatis generally live within the larger Pakistani population, which is concentrated in Coney Island, Brooklyn, and Astoria, Queens, among other neighborhoods.

Many Swatis here suspect that the Taliban have spies among them; that insecurity mirrors the rampant mistrust in the valley, where many residents fear the Pakistani security forces almost as much as the Taliban and do not know whom to trust.

Perhaps with the help of stateside sympathizers, the Taliban have been adept at tracking the flow of money from the United states, and have turned increasingly to kidnapping recipients of the money with the goal of securing hefty ransoms, the exiles say.

Ajab, the owner of a fried chicken shop in Paterson, N.J., said the Taliban kidnapped a brother-in-law last year near the family’s village in the Swat Valley.

During 75 days of captivity, the Taliban fighters told the brother-in-law that one of the reasons they had kidnapped him was that he had relatives in the United States, including Ajab. The fighters released him after the family paid a $20,000 ransom.

“We are sad that because of us, our relatives are getting into trouble,” said Ajab, 51, who spoke only on the condition that his last name not be published, to protect his family’s identity.

Not all of the violence visited upon the families of exiles has been due to the exiles’ presence here. But the difficulty of watching it at such a remove has been no less agonizing.

Leaving behind his family in Swat, Jihanzada came to the United States in 2001 to earn money to build his dream house back home and to pay for the future weddings of his five children. He worked numerous menial jobs in Boston and New York.

“Everything I earned I sent back home,” he said in an interview last week at a fast-food restaurant in Brooklyn where he works.

He, too, spoke on the condition that he not be fully identified for fear of alerting the Taliban to his presence in the United States. “If they knew I was here, they would definitely harm my family,” he said. “If they got information that I talked to you, they can come and target me.”

The house was completed early last year; Jihanzada still has not seen it: he has not returned to Pakistan since he left eight years ago.

But during fighting last summer between the Taliban and the Pakistani security forces, a bomb dropped by Pakistani military aircraft demolished the house. Jihanzada’s family had evacuated before the fighting began and are now living in Mingora. His eldest daughter’s wedding, scheduled for next month, was postponed.

Jihanzada, who said he could not return to Pakistan because he had an asylum petition pending, received photographs of the destruction soon after the attack. Asked how he felt when he first saw the photographs, he dropped his head, concealing his face behind the brim of his brown restaurant cap and trying to stem a surge of sadness. He stayed like that for a full minute, saying nothing.

Finally, he continued: “This is every Pashtun’s dream: You earn, you build a home, your children grow up in it and when you get old you go and sit at home and enjoy life. I’m sad because my struggles start again.”

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

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



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The government announced Monday that it would accept a system of Islamic law in the Swat valley and agreed to a truce, effectively conceding the area as a Taliban sanctuary and suspending a faltering effort by the army to crush the insurgents.


Pakistanis in Miran Shah, near the Afghan border, on Sunday at funerals of people described as victims of a United States missile attack on a Taliban compound.

The concessions to the militants, who now control about 70 percent of the region just 100 miles from the capital, were criticized by Pakistani analysts as a capitulation by a government desperate to stop Taliban abuses and a military embarrassed at losing ground after more than a year of intermittent fighting. About 3,000 Taliban militants have kept 12,000 government troops at bay and terrorized the local population with floggings and the burning of schools.

The accord came less than a week before the first official visit to Washington of the Pakistani army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to meet Obama administration officials and discuss how Pakistan could improve its tactics against what the American military is now calling an industrial-strength insurgency there of Al Qaeda and the Taliban militants.

The militants have also made deep gains in neighboring Afghanistan, where the United States is sending more troops.

Pakistani government officials insisted the truce with the Taliban and the switch to the Shariah, the Islamic legal code, were consistent with the Constitution and presented no threat to the integrity of the nation.

But the truce offered by the Taliban, and accepted by the authorities, rebuffed American demands for the Pakistani civilian and military authorities to stick with the fight against the militants, not make deals with them.

Under the terms of the accord, the chief minister of the province, Amir Haider Khan Hoti, said that Pakistani troops would now go on “reactive mode” and fight only in retaliation for an attack.

Announced by the government of the North-West Frontier Province after consultation with President Asif Ali Zardari, the pact echoed previous government accords with the militants across Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas in North and South Waziristan.

Those regions have since become a mini-state for Qaeda and Taliban militants, who are now the focus of missile strikes by remotely piloted American aircraft. On Monday, what was thought to be a drone strike in Kurram, a separate area close to the Afghan border, killed 31 people, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

Analysts are now suggesting that the drone strikes may be pushing the Taliban, and even some Qaeda elements, out of the tribal belt and into Swat, making the valley more important to the Taliban.

Speaking in India on the last leg of his trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the Obama administration’s special envoy to the region, Richard C. Holbrooke, did not address the truce directly but said the turmoil in Swat served as a reminder that the United States, Pakistan and India faced an “enemy which poses direct threats to our leadership, our capitals, and our people.”

Pakistani legal experts and other analysts warned that the decision by the authorities would embolden militants in other parts of the country.

“This means you have surrendered to a handful of extremists,” said Athar Minallah, a leader of a lawyers’ movement that has campaigned for an independent judiciary. “The state is under attack; instead of dealing with them as aggressors, the government has abdicated.”

Shuja Nawaz, the author of “Crossed Swords,” a book on the Pakistani military, said that with the accord, “the government is ceding a great deal of space” to the militants.

But some Pakistani officials have recently argued that a truce was necessary in Swat because the army was unable to fight a guerrilla insurgency and civilians were suffering in the conflict.

A former interior minister, Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, told the parliamentary committee on national security this month that Shariah ordinances should be introduced to “calm the situation.”

Sherry Rehman, the government information minister, said the deal should not be seen as a concession. “It is in no way a sign of the state’s weakness,” she said. “The public will of the population of the Swat region is at the center of all efforts, and it should be taken into account while debating the merits of this agreement.”

In legislative elections a year ago, the people of Swat, a region that is about the size of Delaware and has 1.3 million residents, voted overwhelmingly for the secular Awami National Party. Since then, the Taliban have singled out elected politicians with suicide bomb attacks and chased virtually all of them from the valley. Several hundred thousand residents have also fled the fighting.

Many of the poor who have stayed in Swat, which until the late 1960s was ruled by a prince, were calling for the Shariah courts as a way of achieving quick justice and dispensing with the long delays and corruption of the civil courts. The authorities in the North-West Frontier Province, which includes Swat, argued that the Shariah courts were not the same as strict Islamic law. The new laws, for instance, would not ban education of females or impose other strict tenets espoused by the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The new accord, they said, would simply activate laws already agreed to by Benazir Bhutto in the early 1990s when she was prime minister. Similarly, the principle of Shariah courts in Swat was also agreed to by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999. In both cases, the courts, though approved, were never put in place.

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

Pakistan Makes a Taliban Truce, Creating a Haven


Page 2 of 2)


A Pakistani official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official did not have permission to speak publicly, said that the government’s acceptance of the courts was an attempt to blunt efforts of the Taliban to woo Swat residents frustrated by the ineffective judiciary.

“The Taliban was trying to take advantage of the local movement and desire for a judicial system,” the official said. The official insisted that the Obama administration, informed of the accord, “showed understanding of our strategy.”

On Monday, a White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said only, “We have seen the press reports and are in touch with the government of Pakistan about the ongoing situation in Swat.”

Provincial officials said the accord in Swat was struck with Maulana Sufi Muhammad. He is the father-in-law of Maulana Fazlullah, a deputy to Baitullah Mehsud, who is the head of the umbrella group for the Taliban in Pakistan.

Mr. Muhammad is often described as more benign than his son-in-law, but the ranks of their followers and their lines of authority are fluid and overlapping.

In 2001, he took thousands of young men across the border into Afghanistan to fight jihad against the Americans. After his return he was imprisoned by Pakistani authorities.

He was released last April after agreeing to denounce violence and work to bring peace to the area.

Despite the insistence that the new legal system in Swat was consistent with existing civil law, some feared that the accord was an ominous sign of the power of the militants to spread into the heartland of Pakistan, including the most populous and wealthiest province, the Punjab.

“The hardest task for the government will be to protect the Punjab against inroads by militants,” wrote I. A. Rehman, a member of the Human Rights Commission, in the daily newspaper, Dawn.

“Already, religious extremists have strong bases across the province and sympathizers in all arenas: political parties, services, the judiciary, the middle class, and even the media,” he wrote. “For its part, the government is handicapped because of its failure to offer good governance, guarantee livelihoods, and restore people’s faith in the frayed judicial system
23903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on: February 17, 2009, 08:45:48 AM
 
"The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Spencer Roane, 9 March 1821
 
23904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq reports on: February 17, 2009, 08:44:46 AM
Spent the day at the main courthouse in Basrah.
 
The main theme that came out time and again today was how much safer the city is since the Iraqi Army operation of several years ago where they basically, and apparently, came in and kicked ass on the militias.  They refer to the pre-Iraqi Army operation down here as "the violence."
 
I also heard one person say how the Brits did not do enoough when it came to dealing with the militias.   They were never forceful enough.
 
The Iraqi Army apparently acquitted itself quite well down here.  And they are apparently maintaining these gains on their own.
23905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Barrack of Afpakia on: February 17, 2009, 08:39:23 AM
The regents are on the ground and commanders are crafting new battle plans: President Obama is girding for a war surge in Afghanistan. Let's hope he's willing to see it through when his most stalwart supporters start to doubt the effort and rue the cost.

 
APAs a statement of principle, the new Administration's preoccupation with Afghanistan signals a welcome commitment to what has been known by that out-of-favor phrase "global war on terror." The Taliban claimed responsibility last week for coordinated suicide attacks in Kabul, which killed 28 people and reinforced perceptions that security is eroding. America's recent success in Iraq showed that the key to victory lies in shifting those perceptions. That means improving security.

More U.S. troops will likely be needed, and Central Command General David Petraeus is undertaking a review of goals and the resources to meet them. Mr. Obama has talked about doubling forces by another 30,000, and we hope he's willing to give his Afghan commander, General David McKiernan, the number he needs to clear and hold areas and protect the population. However, size of force matters less than having the proper counterinsurgency strategy for a conflict that is different than Iraq.

Among other useful things, Mr. Obama's surge may help to educate his friends on the political left about Islamist terror. The National Security Network, an outfit that never missed an opportunity to bash President Bush, has quickly come into line behind the new President. The group says Mr. Obama's strategy must be focused "first and foremost on preventing the Afghanistan-Pakistan region from becoming a staging ground for terrorist attacks against the U.S. and other nations or a source for instability that could throw Pakistan into chaos."

Sounds good to us -- and sounds a lot like the Bush strategy. America's goal isn't to turn a backward Central Asian country into the next Switzerland, but to keep al Qaeda and its Taliban allies from using it as a safe haven. Toward that end, the U.S. and its allies can help build Afghanistan's institutions and army and help a weak Pakistan government flush out the terrorists in its wild west.

No doubt the strategy can be tweaked. That started well before Mr. Obama's election, as America took back ownership of the Afghan mission from an unwieldy NATO command. Though Britain and Canada pull their weight, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has learned that Americans can't count on Europe to fill the troop and equipment gaps, so the U.S. did.

Also like the Bush Administration, Team Obama recognizes the Pakistan dimension to the Afghan problem -- even calling the place "Afpak." The Taliban came back in the past three years only after finding sanctuary around Quetta, in southern Pakistan, and in the country's northwest tribal regions. The U.S. has also won Islamabad's sotto voce cooperation to strike terror leaders, though more should be done around Quetta.

Mr. Obama's special envoy, Richard Holbrooke, has been in Afpak for a week's fact-finding. Before arriving, he said, "In my view it's going to be much tougher than Iraq." Even by Holbrookeian standards, that's hyperbole. The government in Kabul isn't in danger of collapsing, the Taliban isn't popular where it has ruled, and the insurgents are no match for the U.S.-led force on the battlefield.

Ultimately, as in Iraq, the Afghans will need to stand up more for themselves. That may take a while. But start with expanding the increasingly able Afghan army, a bright spot. The force of 80,000 is too small for a country the size of Texas and bordered by enemies. The police are a shambles, alas. Corruption, narco-trafficking, a weak central government: Afghanistan shares vices with other Western protectorates like Bosnia, and could improve on all counts.

However, notwithstanding President Obama's swipe last Monday that "the national government seems very detached from what's going on in the surrounding community," the rulers in Kabul are legitimate. Hamid Karzai has tolerated too much corruption, but any change of leadership should come from an Afghan challenge, not a U.S. desire to play kingmaker. Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden -- who stormed out of a meeting with Mr. Karzai last year -- need to avoid JFK's mistake of toppling South Vietnam ally Ngo Dinh Diem.

The Obama team wants to play up Afghanistan's troubles so it can look good by comparison a year from now. But soon enough Mr. Obama will own those troubles, and talking down Afghanistan carries risks. Our allies and the American people may come to doubt that the conflict is winnable, or worth the cost.

Already, canaries on the left are asking a la columnist Richard Reeves, "Why are we in Afghanistan?" The President's friends at Newsweek are helpfully referring to "Obama's Vietnam." Mr. Obama may find himself relying on some surprising people for wartime support -- to wit, Bush Republicans and neocons.
23906  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Darkness, Secrecy, , , and Knowledge wants to be free on: February 17, 2009, 01:24:05 AM
GM:

Next time we talk, remind me to tell you two stories; first, "the email in 2000" and second "the 25 competitors".

TAC,
CD
23907  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: February 16, 2009, 10:16:44 PM
An excellent translation of what?

I'm getting a page that says I'm leaving FB and to never give my password unless I'm sure , , , huh?
23908  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Forever Young on: February 16, 2009, 08:00:18 PM
TTT
23909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pak's nukes on: February 16, 2009, 07:43:19 PM
also posted in the Afg-Pak thread

This is the most detailed article (2005) I have read about the status of pak nukes...very interesting. The original report by Durrani is googleable.
 
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/GD06Df04.html
Guarding Pakistan's nuclear estate
By Kaushik Kapisthalam

Even as media and public attention in the United States and South Asia has focused on the issue of nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets going to Pakistan, there has been a series of interesting developments within the US regarding policy toward Pakistan's nuclear program.

Public nonchalance
Publicly, Bush administration officials have been remarkably guarded, and even nonchalant, about Pakistan's leaky nuclear program, even as one revelation after another came out regarding nuclear proliferation from Pakistan to Iran, Libya, North Korea and other unnamed countries. After exerting pressure behind the scenes on Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, the US has quietly accepted his explanation that all proliferation acts were the responsibility of one man, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, and lent its blessings to Khan being pardoned and kept under house arrest in Pakistan.

The official Washington spin is that the administration of President George W Bush has persuaded Pakistan to end its nuclear trade once and for all and that it is better to move forward than dwell on the past.

Despite this public posture, many experts and former government officials in Washington and elsewhere are not so sanguine. Virtually every report on nuclear security from major US and Western think-tanks, such as the Carnegie Endowment, the Monterrey Institute and the Cato Institute, consistently raise the issue of the leaky nature of Pakistan's nuclear assets. The Congressional Research Service, the advisory arm of the US Congress, has issued numerous reports on Pakistan's nuclear program highlighting the need to do something. However, until recently, Bush administration officials had in effect stonewalled on this issue and avoided talking about it on or off the record, other than a few cryptic remarks on occasion.

That has slowly begun to change.

The curtain lifts?
In testimony to the Senate on March 17, Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, who is the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, spoke at length about the fragility of Pakistan. After the usual platitudes about Musharraf's virtues, Jacoby noted in his submitted statement, "Our assessment remains unchanged from last year. If Musharraf were assassinated or otherwise replaced, Pakistan's new leader would be less pro-US. We are concerned that extremist Islamic politicians would gain greater influence."

Interestingly, it was former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts who was one of the first to talk about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal openly. In a January 2004 debate with other contenders from his Democratic Party, Kerry said that if he were elected president, he would get tough with Pakistan on nuclear safety, noting that past Pakistani leaders had lied to him and the US quite blatantly on the nuclear issue. Kerry added that failing to protect Pakistan's nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands was "one of the most glaring weaknesses in this [Bush] administration's entire foreign policy". More curious, Kerry said the US should work with India to make a plan for taking out Pakistan's nukes in case of an emergency. Another Democratic senator, Barack Obama of Illinois, went a step further and said the US should launch surgical strikes on Pakistan in a nuclear leak eventuality.

After the re-election of Bush, it was Kerry who once again raised the issue. During the Senate hearing to confirm Bush's appointment of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Kerry had a fiery exchange with Rice, which needs to be quoted in full for readers to appreciate its significance.
Kerry: And what about any initiatives or discussions with President Musharraf and the Indians with respect to fail-safe procedures in the event - I mean, there have been two attempts on President Musharraf's life. If you were to have a successful coup in Pakistan, you could have, conceivably, nuclear weapons in the hand of a radical Islamic state automatically, overnight. And to the best of my knowledge, in all of the inquiries that I've made in the course of the last years, there is now no failsafe procedure in place to guarantee against that weaponry falling into the wrong hands.

Rice: Senator, we have noted this problem, and we are prepared to try to deal with it. I would prefer not in open session to talk about this particular issue.

Kerry:Okay. Well, I raise it again. I must say that in my private briefings as the nominee I found the answers highly unsatisfactory. And so, I press on you the notion that, without saying more, that we need to pay attention to that.

Rice: We're very aware of the problem, Senator, and we have had some discussions. But I really would prefer not to discuss that.
In essence, Kerry noted that as a presidential candidate, the US "secret plan" for Pakistan's nukes as conveyed to him was unsatisfactory. But Rice hinted that while the plan might not be perfect, the administration was working on it. There are some signs that this may already be happening.

Follow the money
In Washington it is said that all plans stay on paper until Congress appropriates funds for them. There are a variety of agencies and bureaus in the US government that deal with various aspects of the nuclear cycle. One such agency is the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The official budget presented by the NRC for the upcoming 2006 fiscal year includes US$800,000 for "initiatives supporting nuclear safety cooperation with India and Pakistan". One Washington insider noted that while the NRC's cooperation with India was in the realm of providing advice on emergency procedures, fire safety issues and the safety of ageing plants, as well as collaborative nuclear research, the initiatives with Pakistan were likely focused on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and its safety.

"American non-proliferation laws and international treaty commitments may severely restrict direct assistance to the safety of Pakistan's warheads and fissile material, you can wager good money that the Bush administration is not going to let global treaties to compromise American security interests," noted the insider.

The source insisted that it is highly likely that such cooperation is already under way behind the covers, but the NRC budgeting makes it possible on a larger scale with congressional oversight. One possible option is the provision of Permissive Action Links (PALs). A PAL is basically a box with sophisticated cryptography electronics inside that prevents unauthorized access to a nuclear weapon by disarming or disabling the triggering mechanism if the wrong code is entered or if the box is tampered with in any manner. PAL locks could make a nuclear warhead unusable in the wrong hands.

Interestingly, after the two successive assassination attempts on Musharraf in December 2003, NBC News reported that the US had installed PAL locks on Pakistani nuclear warheads. The report quoted former US ambassador to Pakistan Robert Oakley confirming the cooperation behind the scenes. About this time Bush was asked in a press conference whether Pakistan's nukes were secure. Bush replied, "Yes, they are secure," and changed the subject immediately.

However, not everyone agrees that providing PAL locks to Pakistan is a wise choice. Leonard Weiss, a prominent non-proliferation expert and former Senate staffer who helped author many US non-proliferation laws, feels that it is a "hoary idea" and compared it to "providing clean needles to drug addicts, thereby making proliferators seem like helpless victims of uncontrollable physiological appetites". He cautions that PALs may make it easier for a Pakistani leader to consider using a nuclear weapon. Despite this, the Washington insider tells Asia Times Online that PALs and other safety devices are likely to be in the cards for guarding Pakistan's nuclear weapons, if they are not in place already.

Damage control
It is a known fact that foreign governments use seminars and sponsored studies by private and quasi-government think-tanks to explain or elaborate on their country's policies. In recent months, many serving and retired Pakistani military officials and diplomats have launched a seemingly coordinated campaign in the US and Western strategic-policy circles. The goal of this campaign seems to be to reassure the power brokers and academics who often go on to become key players in the US and Western governments that Pakistan's nuclear estate is safe and that Pakistan will take its nuclear non-proliferation commitments seriously, after the Khan scandal.

One such effort was by retired Pakistani army Major-General Mahmud Ali Durrani at the Sandia Labs in New Mexico. It is to be noted that Sandia Labs is owned by defense contractor Lockheed Martin and is affiliated with the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. Durrani states in his report titled "Pakistan's Strategic Thinking and the Role of Nuclear Weapons" that he was able to tour many sensitive Pakistani nuclear facilities and found the safety procedures to be credible, though there was room for improvement in certain security aspects.

But not everyone who read the Durrani study was convinced. One former US security official, who did not want to be identified, told Asia Times Online that he had more questions about Pakistan's nuclear safety procedures after reading the Durrani report than before. He noted that Durrani highlighted the claim that Pakistan has a "three-man rule" for nuclear-weapon safety that it claims is superior to the "two-man rule" in practice in the US. What that means in essence is that three people are supposed to enter codes before a nuclear weapon can be deployed, but he pointed out that the three people can sometimes be at a lower level in the military hierarchy, such as the base commander and unit commander. He wondered whether that was really a safe procedure, given that Pakistan has already acknowledged that al-Qaeda has penetrated lower levels of the military forces.

The expert also highlighted that the Durrani report's stated exception to the "three-man rule" is in the case of a Pakistani air force pilot who can solely be given the full weapon-arming code in certain situations. "This is not comforting to anyone [who] does not know what those 'special situations' are and what if any fail-safes are there to prevent a rogue pilot from taking off with a nuclear weapon," the expert cautioned. It is to be noted that the Durrani report includes a sobering note about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear installations, while dismissing the possibility of Islamist radicals being on the inside. "There is an urgent need to improve the technical skills of personnel charged with the security of [Pakistan's] nuclear installations and develop an institutional security culture," the report warns. Coming from a Pakistani insider, this must be alarming to some within the US government, the expert surmised.

Making the plan
Soon after September 11, 2001, American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker magazine of a supposed secret US-Israeli plan to take control of Pakistan's nuclear facilities in the case of an Islamist coup there. In a book by Washington Post's Bob Woodward, President Bush is quoted as telling Musharraf that "Seymour Hersh is a liar" after the Hersh story came out. Whether the US had a secret plan for Pakistan's nukes in 2001 or not, there is evidence that the US government and Congress are beginning to accept the reality that a US military action plan is needed to prepare for taking over and managing a state-failure situation in a country that possesses mass-destruction weapons.

In a public hearing in March conducted by the US Senate's Armed Services Committee on plans for the US Army's transformation, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut raised the question of whether the US military was ready for a "contingency" situation in Pakistan or Iran. In response, General Richard A Cody, the US Army's vice chief of staff, said that such questions were the ones US Army leaders "grapple with every day", without going into details. The timeframe for these plans mentioned a requirement to be ready by as early as 2007.

The US Military Force Structure Review Act of 1996 directed the secretary of defense to conduct a Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) of the strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure and other elements of the defense program and policies with an intent of establishing a revised defense program. It is therefore interesting to note that the next QDR, planned to be released this autumn, reportedly includes plans for scenarios such as a rogue commander getting hold of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. "The more the scenarios hit a nerve ... the more I know I am onto something," a Pentagon official working on the QDR 2005 was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal recently.

The significance of these hearings and the QDR plans is that the normally secretive US Defense Department does not make its ideas public for the purposes of public relations. These plans are made public to pressure Congress into releasing massive funds to the US military to be able to realize the plans. They also signify that the US considers the eventualities being planned for in the QDR to be realistic enough to happen in the next four years. Previous QDRs had plans for a conventional combat operation against the likes of Iraq. It may very well turn out that the US State Department, always sensitive to Pakistan's concerns, steps in to force the Pentagon to omit any references to Pakistan in the public QDR version, but if the Pentagon wants debate on the matter, a well-timed leak could do the trick.

Islamabad must be watching these developments with a wary eye, but any protestations it might choose to express are unlikely to deter the US from making plans to slowly yet deliberately cast a net around Pakistan's nuclear estate.

Kaushik Kapisthalam is a freelance defense and strategic affairs analyst based in the United States. He can be reached at contact@kapisthalam.com.

(Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing.)
 
23910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pak's nukes on: February 16, 2009, 07:42:21 PM
Please note the previous entry!

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

This is the most detailed article (2005) I have read about the status of pak nukes...very interesting. The original report by Durrani is googleable.
 
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/GD06Df04.html
Guarding Pakistan's nuclear estate
By Kaushik Kapisthalam

Even as media and public attention in the United States and South Asia has focused on the issue of nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets going to Pakistan, there has been a series of interesting developments within the US regarding policy toward Pakistan's nuclear program.

Public nonchalance
Publicly, Bush administration officials have been remarkably guarded, and even nonchalant, about Pakistan's leaky nuclear program, even as one revelation after another came out regarding nuclear proliferation from Pakistan to Iran, Libya, North Korea and other unnamed countries. After exerting pressure behind the scenes on Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, the US has quietly accepted his explanation that all proliferation acts were the responsibility of one man, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, and lent its blessings to Khan being pardoned and kept under house arrest in Pakistan.

The official Washington spin is that the administration of President George W Bush has persuaded Pakistan to end its nuclear trade once and for all and that it is better to move forward than dwell on the past.

Despite this public posture, many experts and former government officials in Washington and elsewhere are not so sanguine. Virtually every report on nuclear security from major US and Western think-tanks, such as the Carnegie Endowment, the Monterrey Institute and the Cato Institute, consistently raise the issue of the leaky nature of Pakistan's nuclear assets. The Congressional Research Service, the advisory arm of the US Congress, has issued numerous reports on Pakistan's nuclear program highlighting the need to do something. However, until recently, Bush administration officials had in effect stonewalled on this issue and avoided talking about it on or off the record, other than a few cryptic remarks on occasion.

That has slowly begun to change.

The curtain lifts?
In testimony to the Senate on March 17, Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, who is the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, spoke at length about the fragility of Pakistan. After the usual platitudes about Musharraf's virtues, Jacoby noted in his submitted statement, "Our assessment remains unchanged from last year. If Musharraf were assassinated or otherwise replaced, Pakistan's new leader would be less pro-US. We are concerned that extremist Islamic politicians would gain greater influence."

Interestingly, it was former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts who was one of the first to talk about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal openly. In a January 2004 debate with other contenders from his Democratic Party, Kerry said that if he were elected president, he would get tough with Pakistan on nuclear safety, noting that past Pakistani leaders had lied to him and the US quite blatantly on the nuclear issue. Kerry added that failing to protect Pakistan's nuclear weapons from falling into the wrong hands was "one of the most glaring weaknesses in this [Bush] administration's entire foreign policy". More curious, Kerry said the US should work with India to make a plan for taking out Pakistan's nukes in case of an emergency. Another Democratic senator, Barack Obama of Illinois, went a step further and said the US should launch surgical strikes on Pakistan in a nuclear leak eventuality.

After the re-election of Bush, it was Kerry who once again raised the issue. During the Senate hearing to confirm Bush's appointment of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Kerry had a fiery exchange with Rice, which needs to be quoted in full for readers to appreciate its significance.
Kerry: And what about any initiatives or discussions with President Musharraf and the Indians with respect to fail-safe procedures in the event - I mean, there have been two attempts on President Musharraf's life. If you were to have a successful coup in Pakistan, you could have, conceivably, nuclear weapons in the hand of a radical Islamic state automatically, overnight. And to the best of my knowledge, in all of the inquiries that I've made in the course of the last years, there is now no failsafe procedure in place to guarantee against that weaponry falling into the wrong hands.

Rice: Senator, we have noted this problem, and we are prepared to try to deal with it. I would prefer not in open session to talk about this particular issue.

Kerry:Okay. Well, I raise it again. I must say that in my private briefings as the nominee I found the answers highly unsatisfactory. And so, I press on you the notion that, without saying more, that we need to pay attention to that.

Rice: We're very aware of the problem, Senator, and we have had some discussions. But I really would prefer not to discuss that.
In essence, Kerry noted that as a presidential candidate, the US "secret plan" for Pakistan's nukes as conveyed to him was unsatisfactory. But Rice hinted that while the plan might not be perfect, the administration was working on it. There are some signs that this may already be happening.

Follow the money
In Washington it is said that all plans stay on paper until Congress appropriates funds for them. There are a variety of agencies and bureaus in the US government that deal with various aspects of the nuclear cycle. One such agency is the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The official budget presented by the NRC for the upcoming 2006 fiscal year includes US$800,000 for "initiatives supporting nuclear safety cooperation with India and Pakistan". One Washington insider noted that while the NRC's cooperation with India was in the realm of providing advice on emergency procedures, fire safety issues and the safety of ageing plants, as well as collaborative nuclear research, the initiatives with Pakistan were likely focused on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and its safety.

"American non-proliferation laws and international treaty commitments may severely restrict direct assistance to the safety of Pakistan's warheads and fissile material, you can wager good money that the Bush administration is not going to let global treaties to compromise American security interests," noted the insider.

The source insisted that it is highly likely that such cooperation is already under way behind the covers, but the NRC budgeting makes it possible on a larger scale with congressional oversight. One possible option is the provision of Permissive Action Links (PALs). A PAL is basically a box with sophisticated cryptography electronics inside that prevents unauthorized access to a nuclear weapon by disarming or disabling the triggering mechanism if the wrong code is entered or if the box is tampered with in any manner. PAL locks could make a nuclear warhead unusable in the wrong hands.

Interestingly, after the two successive assassination attempts on Musharraf in December 2003, NBC News reported that the US had installed PAL locks on Pakistani nuclear warheads. The report quoted former US ambassador to Pakistan Robert Oakley confirming the cooperation behind the scenes. About this time Bush was asked in a press conference whether Pakistan's nukes were secure. Bush replied, "Yes, they are secure," and changed the subject immediately.

However, not everyone agrees that providing PAL locks to Pakistan is a wise choice. Leonard Weiss, a prominent non-proliferation expert and former Senate staffer who helped author many US non-proliferation laws, feels that it is a "hoary idea" and compared it to "providing clean needles to drug addicts, thereby making proliferators seem like helpless victims of uncontrollable physiological appetites". He cautions that PALs may make it easier for a Pakistani leader to consider using a nuclear weapon. Despite this, the Washington insider tells Asia Times Online that PALs and other safety devices are likely to be in the cards for guarding Pakistan's nuclear weapons, if they are not in place already.

Damage control
It is a known fact that foreign governments use seminars and sponsored studies by private and quasi-government think-tanks to explain or elaborate on their country's policies. In recent months, many serving and retired Pakistani military officials and diplomats have launched a seemingly coordinated campaign in the US and Western strategic-policy circles. The goal of this campaign seems to be to reassure the power brokers and academics who often go on to become key players in the US and Western governments that Pakistan's nuclear estate is safe and that Pakistan will take its nuclear non-proliferation commitments seriously, after the Khan scandal.

One such effort was by retired Pakistani army Major-General Mahmud Ali Durrani at the Sandia Labs in New Mexico. It is to be noted that Sandia Labs is owned by defense contractor Lockheed Martin and is affiliated with the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. Durrani states in his report titled "Pakistan's Strategic Thinking and the Role of Nuclear Weapons" that he was able to tour many sensitive Pakistani nuclear facilities and found the safety procedures to be credible, though there was room for improvement in certain security aspects.

But not everyone who read the Durrani study was convinced. One former US security official, who did not want to be identified, told Asia Times Online that he had more questions about Pakistan's nuclear safety procedures after reading the Durrani report than before. He noted that Durrani highlighted the claim that Pakistan has a "three-man rule" for nuclear-weapon safety that it claims is superior to the "two-man rule" in practice in the US. What that means in essence is that three people are supposed to enter codes before a nuclear weapon can be deployed, but he pointed out that the three people can sometimes be at a lower level in the military hierarchy, such as the base commander and unit commander. He wondered whether that was really a safe procedure, given that Pakistan has already acknowledged that al-Qaeda has penetrated lower levels of the military forces.

The expert also highlighted that the Durrani report's stated exception to the "three-man rule" is in the case of a Pakistani air force pilot who can solely be given the full weapon-arming code in certain situations. "This is not comforting to anyone [who] does not know what those 'special situations' are and what if any fail-safes are there to prevent a rogue pilot from taking off with a nuclear weapon," the expert cautioned. It is to be noted that the Durrani report includes a sobering note about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear installations, while dismissing the possibility of Islamist radicals being on the inside. "There is an urgent need to improve the technical skills of personnel charged with the security of [Pakistan's] nuclear installations and develop an institutional security culture," the report warns. Coming from a Pakistani insider, this must be alarming to some within the US government, the expert surmised.

Making the plan
Soon after September 11, 2001, American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker magazine of a supposed secret US-Israeli plan to take control of Pakistan's nuclear facilities in the case of an Islamist coup there. In a book by Washington Post's Bob Woodward, President Bush is quoted as telling Musharraf that "Seymour Hersh is a liar" after the Hersh story came out. Whether the US had a secret plan for Pakistan's nukes in 2001 or not, there is evidence that the US government and Congress are beginning to accept the reality that a US military action plan is needed to prepare for taking over and managing a state-failure situation in a country that possesses mass-destruction weapons.

In a public hearing in March conducted by the US Senate's Armed Services Committee on plans for the US Army's transformation, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut raised the question of whether the US military was ready for a "contingency" situation in Pakistan or Iran. In response, General Richard A Cody, the US Army's vice chief of staff, said that such questions were the ones US Army leaders "grapple with every day", without going into details. The timeframe for these plans mentioned a requirement to be ready by as early as 2007.

The US Military Force Structure Review Act of 1996 directed the secretary of defense to conduct a Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) of the strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure and other elements of the defense program and policies with an intent of establishing a revised defense program. It is therefore interesting to note that the next QDR, planned to be released this autumn, reportedly includes plans for scenarios such as a rogue commander getting hold of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. "The more the scenarios hit a nerve ... the more I know I am onto something," a Pentagon official working on the QDR 2005 was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal recently.

The significance of these hearings and the QDR plans is that the normally secretive US Defense Department does not make its ideas public for the purposes of public relations. These plans are made public to pressure Congress into releasing massive funds to the US military to be able to realize the plans. They also signify that the US considers the eventualities being planned for in the QDR to be realistic enough to happen in the next four years. Previous QDRs had plans for a conventional combat operation against the likes of Iraq. It may very well turn out that the US State Department, always sensitive to Pakistan's concerns, steps in to force the Pentagon to omit any references to Pakistan in the public QDR version, but if the Pentagon wants debate on the matter, a well-timed leak could do the trick.

Islamabad must be watching these developments with a wary eye, but any protestations it might choose to express are unlikely to deter the US from making plans to slowly yet deliberately cast a net around Pakistan's nuclear estate.

Kaushik Kapisthalam is a freelance defense and strategic affairs analyst based in the United States. He can be reached at contact@kapisthalam.com.

(Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing.)
 
23911  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Darkness, Secrecy, , , and Knowledge wants to be free on: February 16, 2009, 06:52:45 PM
That is a very good point.  Its obviousness not withstanding, I confess to having missed it.
23912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: February 16, 2009, 04:48:41 PM
Independence Forever: The 225th Anniversary of the Fourth of July
by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.
Backgrounder #1451


June 19, 2001 |  | 



This Fourth of July marks the 225th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. This occasion is a great opportunity to renew our dedication to the principles of liberty and equality enshrined in what Thomas Jefferson called "the declaratory charter of our rights."

As a practical matter, the Declaration of Independence publicly announced to the world the unanimous decision of the American colonies to declare themselves free and independent states, absolved from any allegiance to Great Britain. But its greater meaning--then as well as now--is as a statement of the conditions of legitimate political authority and the proper ends of government, and its proclamation of a new ground of political rule in the sovereignty of the people. "If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence," wrote the great historian Samuel Eliot Morrison, "it would have been worthwhile."

Although Congress had appointed a distinguished committee--including John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston--the Declaration of Independence is chiefly the work of Thomas Jefferson. By his own account, Jefferson was neither aiming at originality nor taking from any particular writings but was expressing the "harmonizing sentiments of the day," as expressed in conversation, letters, essays, or "the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc." Jefferson intended the Declaration to be "an expression of the American mind," and wrote so as to "place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent."

The structure of the Declaration of Independence is that of a common law legal document. The ringing phrases of the document's famous second paragraph are a powerful synthesis of American constitutional and republican government theories. All men have a right to liberty only in so far as they are by nature equal, which is to say none are naturally superior, and deserve to rule, or inferior, and deserve to be ruled. Because men are endowed with these rights, the rights are unalienable, which means that they cannot be given up or taken away. And because individuals equally possess these rights, governments derive their just powers from the consent of those governed. The purpose of government is to secure these fundamental rights and, although prudence tells us that governments should not be changed for trivial reasons, the people retain the right to alter or abolish government when it becomes destructive of these ends.

The remainder of the document is a bill of indictment accusing King George III of some 30 offenses, some constitutional, some legal, and some matters of policy. The combined charges against the king were intended to demonstrate a history of repeated injuries, all having the object of establishing "an absolute tyranny" over America. Although the colonists were "disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable," the time had come to end the relationship: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government."

One charge that Jefferson had included, but Congress removed, was that the king had "waged cruel war against human nature" by introducing slavery and allowing the slave trade into the American colonies. A few delegates were unwilling to acknowledge that slavery violated the "most sacred rights of life and liberty," and the passage was dropped for the sake of unanimity. Thus was foreshadowed the central debate of the American Civil War, which Abraham Lincoln saw as a test to determine whether a nation "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" could long endure.

The Declaration of Independence and the liberties recognized in it are grounded in a higher law to which all human laws are answerable. This higher law can be understood to derive from reason--the truths of the Declaration are held to be "self-evident"--but also revelation. There are four references to God in the document: to "the laws of nature and nature's God"; to all men being "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"; to "the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions"; and to "the protection of Divine Providence." The first term suggests a deity that is knowable by human reason, but the others--God as creator, as judge, and as providence--are more biblical, and add a theological context to the document. "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God?" Jefferson asked in his Notes on the State of Virginia.

The true significance of the Declaration lies in its trans-historical meaning. Its appeal was not to any conventional law or political contract but to the equal rights possessed by all men and "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and nature's God" entitled them. What is revolutionary about the Declaration of Independence is not that a particular group of Americans declared their independence under particular circumstances but that they did so by appealing to--and promising to base their particular government on--a universal standard of justice. It is in this sense that Abraham Lincoln praised "the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times."

The ringing phrases of the Declaration of Independence speak to all those who strive for liberty and seek to vindicate the principles of self-government. But it was an aged John Adams who, when he was asked to prepare a statement on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, delivered two words that still convey our great hope every Fourth of July: "Independence Forever."

Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.,is Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation.


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

QUOTATIONS ON THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph.

John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

There! His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!

John Hancock (attributed), upon signing the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Benjamin Franklin (attributed), at the signing of the
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, September 12, 1821

With respect to our rights, and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American whigs thought alike on these subjects. When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825

Independence Forever.

John Adams, toast for the 50th Anniversary of the
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826

I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.

Frederick Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" July 5, 1852

The assertion that "all men are created equal" was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.

Abraham Lincoln, speech on the Dred Scott Decision, June 26, 1857

We have besides these men--descended by blood from our ancestors--among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe--German, Irish, French and Scandinavian--men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.

Abraham Lincoln, speech at Chicago, Illinois, July 10, 1858

We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

Calvin Coolidge, speech on the 150th Anniversary of the
Declaration of Independence, July 5, 1926

Today, 186 years later, that Declaration whose yellowing parchment and fading, almost illegible lines I saw in the past week in the National Archives in Washington is still a revolutionary document. To read it today is to hear a trumpet call. For that Declaration unleashed not merely a revolution against the British, but a revolution in human affairs. . . . The theory of independence is as old as man himself, and it was not invented in this hall. But it was in this hall that the theory became a practice; that the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson's phrase, that "the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." And today this Nation--conceived in revolution, nurtured in liberty, maturing in independence--has no intention of abdicating its leadership in that worldwide movement for independence to any nation or society committed to systematic human oppression.

John F. Kennedy, address at Independence Hall, July 4, 1962

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . . I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

Martin Luther King, "I Have A Dream," August 28, 1963

Our Declaration of Independence has been copied by emerging nations around the globe, its themes adopted in places many of us have never heard of. Here is this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights. We the people declared that government is created by the people for their own convenience. Government has no power except those voluntarily granted it by the people. There have been revolutions before and since ours, revolutions that simply exchanged one set of rulers for another. Ours was a philosophical revolution that changed the very concept of government.

Ronald Reagan, address at Yorktown, October 19, 1981
23913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: February 16, 2009, 03:56:23 PM
A point that is rather tangential to the subject of this piece I'm thinking , , , how about here

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1661.msg19700#msg19700
23914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: February 16, 2009, 01:50:48 PM
These men deserve better from us here at home.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2009/feb/13/us-military-afghanistan-outpost
23915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting clip on: February 16, 2009, 01:35:56 PM
An 11 minute clip worth your time:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2009/feb/13/us-military-afghanistan-outpost
23916  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Darkness, Secrecy, , , and Knowledge wants to be free on: February 16, 2009, 01:07:20 PM
Absolutely-- but that would require actual travel and the attendant risks of death or capture.  A lot easier to hook up to youtube.
23917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: February 16, 2009, 12:57:22 PM
Why I Have A Gun

My old grandpa said to me, "Son, there comes a time in every man's life when he stops bustin' knuckles and starts bustin' caps and usually it's when he becomes too old to take an ass whoopin'."

I don't have a gun to kill people.  I have a gun to keep from being killed.
*
I don't have a gun to scare people.  I have a gun because sometimes this world can be a scary place.
*
I don't have a gun because I'm paranoid.  I have a gun because there are real threats in the world.
*
I don't have a gun because I'm evil.  I have a gun because I have lived long enough to see the evil in the world.
*
I don't have a gun because I hate the government.  I have a gun because I understand the limitations of government.
*
I don't have a gun because I'm angry.  I have a gun so that I don't have to spend the rest of my life hating myself for failing to be prepared.
*
I don't have a gun because I want to shoot someone.  I have a gun because I want to die at a ripe old age in my bed, and not on a sidewalk somewhere tomorrow afternoon.
*
I don't have a gun because I'm a cowboy.  I have a gun because, when I die and go to Heaven, I want to be a cowboy.
*
I don't have a gun to make me feel like a man.  I have a gun because men know how to take care of themselves and the ones they love.
*
I don't have a gun because I feel inadequate.  I have a gun because unarmed and facing three armed thugs, I am inadequate.
*
I don't have a gun because I love it.  I have a gun because I love life and the people who make it meaningful to me.
*
Personally, I carry a gun because I'm too young to die and too old to take an ass whoopin'.

-- Author Unknown
23918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: February 16, 2009, 12:20:55 PM
May I ask you to take this to

http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1748.0
23919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A Buchanan rant on: February 16, 2009, 12:18:04 PM
A bit glib here and there, but the questions raised deserve to be part of the conversation.
==========================

BUCHANAN  TO OBAMA
         By Patrick J. Buchanan
 
Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America. Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation.  White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to. This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known. Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.
 
Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the ' 60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.  Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks -- with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas -- to advance black applicants over white applicants. Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated their time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks.
 
We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude??
 
Barack talks about new 'ladders of opportunity' for blacks. Let him go to Altoona?  And Johnstown, and ask the white kids in Catholic schools how many were visited lately by Ivy League recruiters handing out scholarships for 'deserving' white kids..? Is white America really responsible for the fact that the crime and incarceration rates for African-Americans are seven times those of white America?  Is it really white America's fault that illegitimacy in the African-American community has hit 70 percent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached 50 percent?
 
Is that the fault of white America or, first and foremost, a failure of the black community itself?
 
As for racism, its ugliest manifestation is in interracial crime, and especially interracial crimes of violence. Is Barack Obama aware that while white criminals choose black victims 3 percent of the time, black criminals choose white victims 45 percent of the time?
 
Is Barack aware that black-on-white rapes are 100 times more common than the reverse, that black-on-white robberies were 139 times as common in the first three years of this decade as the reverse?
 
We have all heard ad nauseam from the Rev. Al about Tawana Brawley, the Duke rape case and Jena . And all turned out to be hoaxes. But  about the epidemic of black assaults on whites that are real, we hear nothing.
   
Sorry, Barack, some of us have heard it all before, about 40 years and 40 trillion tax dollars ago.
23920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: Hardly the Best and the Brightest on: February 16, 2009, 11:12:43 AM
http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson021609.html
 
 
February 16, 2009
Hardly the Best and Brightest
by Victor Davis Hanson
Tribune Media Services

Most historians agree that earthquakes, droughts or barbarians did not unravel classical Athens or imperial Rome.

More likely the social contract between the elite and the more ordinary citizens finally began breaking apart — and with it the trust necessary for a society's collective investment and the payment of taxes. Then civilization itself begins to unwind.

Something like that has been occurring lately because of the actions on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C. The former "masters of the universe" who ran Wall Street took enormous risks to get multimillion-dollar bonuses, even as they piled up billions in debt for their soon-to-be-bankrupt companies.

Financial wizards like Robert Rubin at Citicorp, Richard Fuld at Lehman Brothers and Franklin Raines at Fannie Mae — all of whom made millions as they left behind imploding corporations — had degrees from America's top universities. They had sophisticated understanding of hedge funds, derivatives and sub-prime mortgages — everything, it seems, but moral responsibility for the investments of millions of their ordinary clients.

The result of such speculation by thousands of Wall Street gamblers was that millions of Americans who played by the rules, and put money each month away in their 401(k) plans and elsewhere, lost much of their retirement savings. Many likely will have to keep working well into their 60s or 70s, and delay passing on their jobs to a new generation awaiting employment.

Yet most disgraced Wall Street elites will retain their mega-bonuses and will not go to jail. Their legacy is having destroyed the financial confidence of a society that depends on putting capital safely away to be directed for investment by responsible overseers.

A sort of unraveling of the entire system of credit and debt may follow from the loss of confidence in Wall Street. Ads on radio now blare out to the rest of us how to renegotiate our mortgages, how to avoid paying the IRS and how to walk away from freely incurred credit-card debt. We hear not to trust in mutual funds or even banks — but instead, like medieval hoarders, to revert to the age-old safety of gold.

Apparently, the institutions run by our elites aren't trustworthy, so why should we put any faith in them?

Meanwhile, we are learning that the brightest and best-educated Americans at the highest levels of government simply refuse to pay their required taxes. Yet because the IRS audits a tiny percentage of taxpayers, voluntarily compliance with our tax code is the glue that holds together a sophisticated society and separates it from a failed state.

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee that oversees our tax laws. But his lawyer recently admitted that Rangel didn't report some $75,000 in income.

Timothy Geithner is the new Treasury secretary and oversees the IRS. Yet Geithner improperly wrote off his son's summer camp fees as a dependent-care expense, and failed to pay thousands of dollars in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Then there is former Sen. Tom Daschle, who was nominated to be secretary of Health and Human Services. It was revealed that he owed the IRS over $140,000 in taxes on unreported free limo services; as a result, he had to ask President Obama to withdraw his nomination.

Nancy Killefer, who just withdrew her name from consideration as "performance czar," did not pay required taxes for domestic help.

The husband of Labor secretary nominee, Hilda Solis, had over a dozen liens for back taxes on his property and just now paid up amid public outcry. (The issue is relevant, since the couple filed a joint income tax return.)

Daschle, Geithner, Killefer and Solis did not disclose their tax liabilities until they were nominated to high office and scrutinized by the press.

And they apparently did not pay their back taxes until their appointments were in jeopardy from public disclosures. That raises disturbing questions: Would we have known about such tax dodging had our best and brightest not wished career advancement in government? And would they have ever paid up if they had not been caught?

Take your pick — on the one side, we have free-market capitalists who took huge amounts of money as their companies eroded the savings of tens of millions; on the other, we have supposedly egalitarian liberals who skipped paying taxes.

The result is the same. Our best educated, wealthiest and most connected in matters of finance proved our dumbest — and our political leaders were less than ethical in meeting their moral responsibilities as citizens.

If ordinary Americans were to follow the examples of Wall Street and Washington elites, the nation would neither collect needed revenue nor invest its capital. All that is a recipe for national decline and fall.
23921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: February 16, 2009, 11:08:09 AM
Ummm , , , why is this good post  , , , in this thread?  huh cheesy
23922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: February 16, 2009, 11:07:01 AM
Delighted to have you with us JKrenz and look forward to more posts from you.

The following was sent to me as an example that the enemy does knife training, but the interview with John Boltono focuses more on the possible collapse of Pak.

http://www.foxnews.com/video2/video08.html?maven_referralObject=3610893&maven_referralPlaylistId=&sRevUrl=http://www.foxnews.com/

======================================
and this just in
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/02/16/pakistan.taliban.sharia.law/index.html

How on earth can we succeed in Afg if this is happening in Pakistan?!?  JKrenz, would love to get your input on this?

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

Pak govt agrees to Taliban Sharia in major region

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani government officials announced Monday an agreement with the Taliban to allow strict Islamic law, or sharia, to be implemented in parts of North West Frontier Province.


Delegation members of pro-Taliban leader Soofi Mohammad at a meeting in Peshawar Monday.

 It marks a major concession by the Pakistani government in its attempt to hold off Taliban militants who have terrorized the region with beheadings, kidnappings, and the destruction of girls' schools.

The government will recognize sharia for the entire Malakand Division, which includes the Swat district -- a two-hour drive from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad -- the chief minister of North West Frontier Province Amir Haider Hoti announced Monday in a news conference. Islamic law is already being practiced in the area, where the Taliban have control.

Hoti said the people of the region want sharia which will fill the "vacuum" left by a lack of access to Pakistan's judicial system. He said he hoped it would bring peace to the region, where Pakistani forces have battled militants aligned with the Taliban.

"Those who chose to take the path of violence because of this decision, I appeal to all of them to work for the sake of peace now," Hoti said.

"There is no accounting for the sacrifice of all the people of Swat and the Malakand division. How many children have been orphaned? How many parents have lost their children? How many young people have been martyred? In my mind, I don't think that anyone can take this any more."

He also stressed that the recognition of Islamic law in the region "isn't something that hasn't happened before." He said previous agreements have been made regarding sharia, but were never implemented. He also said that the Islamic law will not go against basic civil liberties, although he did not explain how the government would make sure that provision would be upheld.

Sharia is defined as Islamic law but is interpreted with wide differences depending on the various sects of both Sunni and Shia Islam.

Don't Miss
Taliban announce 'cease-fire' in Pakistani valley
Pakistan unsure over identity of man beheaded in Taliban video
Finger pointed at U.S. over deadly missile strike
Bombing kills provincial minister in Pakistan
So far, the Pakistani Taliban's interpretation of sharia has included banning girls from school, forcing women inside and outlawing forms of entertainment.

The agreement comes amid negotiations between Pakistani provincial officials and Taliban representatives, led by Sufi Mohammed. The Taliban on Sunday declared a 10-day cease-fire in Swat Valley, which Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said was a gesture of good will towards the government.

The Taliban's control of Swat is believed to be the deepest advance by militants into Pakistan's settled areas -- meaning areas outside its federally administered tribal region along the border with Afghanistan.

The negotiations in North West Frontier Province are the latest attempt by Pakistan's civilian government -- which took power last year -- to achieve peace through diplomacy in areas where Taliban and al Qaeda leaders are believed to have free rein.

But analysts as well as critics within the establishment have warned that Pakistan's previous dealings with the Taliban have only given the fundamentalist Islamic militia time to regroup and gain more ground.

Khadim Hussain, a professor Bahria University in Islamabad who studies Pakistani politics, said the government has effectively surrendered the areas to the Taliban, thereby setting the stage for two contradictory, parallel states in North West Frontier Province.

"If you leave them like that and you give ... a semblance of peace in a particular area, what does that mean?" Hussain said. "It means you're capitulating. It means you're surrendering the state to them. It means your submitting the state authority to them because they are running a parallel state."

He said the government's decision amounts to a marriage of convenience made under duress.

Swat has been overrun by forces loyal to Maulana Fazlullah's banned hardline Islamic group, Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM) which has allied itself with Taliban fighters. TNSM was once led by Sufi Mohammed, Fazlullah's father-in-law who is leading the latest negotiations. Sufi Mohammed was released from jail last year by Pakistani authorities after he agreed to cooperate with the government. He was jailed in 2002 after recruiting thousands of fighters to battle U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Fazlullah took over TNSM during Sufi Mohammed's jail stint and vowed to continue his fight to impose fundamentalist Islamic law in the region.

Last May, Pakistan's government announced it reached a peace deal with militants in Swat Valley. In the months that have followed, the Taliban have seized control of the region and carried out a violent campaign against government officials, including local politicians. The head of the Awami National Party -- which represents the region -- was forced to flee to Islamabad amid death threats from the Taliban.

Pakistan is under enormous pressure to control the militants within its borders, blamed for launching attacks in neighboring Afghanistan where U.S. and NATO forces are fighting militants.

The deal with the Taliban comes on the heels of a visit by U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who is now meeting with leaders in neighboring India. He said he is awaiting more details of Monday's agreement, but said it underlines the challenge of dealing with the rise of the Taliban.

The United States -- using unmanned drones -- has carried out several airstrikes inside Pakistan on suspected militant targets, including one on Monday that killed at least 15 people, Pakistani sources said. Such airstrikes, which sometimes result in civilian casualties, have aggravated tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan.


Pakistan's military operation in the region is unpopular among Pakistanis, but efforts to deal diplomatically with militants have not worked in the past.

Pakistan's previous leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, reached a cease-fire deal with militants in South Waziristan in 2006 which was widely blamed for giving al Qaeda and Taliban a stronger foothold in the
23923  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Darkness, Secrecy, , , and Knowledge wants to be free on: February 16, 2009, 11:02:53 AM
During the interview with John Bolton there is some footage of the enemy knife training.  Not that it looks very good, but I'm guessing they do get youtube , , ,
23924  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Class at Inosanto Academy on: February 15, 2009, 09:39:30 PM
Had a couple of really good EH regulars (including a TKD Olympian) and we worked the Kalimba Dodger single stick as a segue into the Arfful Dodger. 

It felt like a very good teaching progression.
23925  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Flex Stick 31" - Wrapped vs Foam on: February 15, 2009, 08:41:27 PM
About the difference between Jennifer Alba and Jennifer Aniston , , ,   cheesy

I'm thinking the reason the foam handles are the bigger sellers is because people want the stiffer stick , , ,  cheesy
23926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East War on: February 15, 2009, 08:29:30 PM
Yemen strikes multifaceted deals with al Qaeda
By JANE NOVAK February 11, 2009 8:03 PM

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh recently struck a deal with Ayman Zawahiri, and Yemen is in the process of emptying its jails of known jihadists. The Yemeni government is recruiting these established jihadists to attack its domestic enemies as it refrains from serious counter-terror measures against the newly formed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The tripartite relationship between the Yemeni regime and al Qaeda enables all participants to further their goals at the expense of national, regional, and global security.

Yemen releases 95 jihadists

News reports from Yemen detail a meeting in Sana'a between President Saleh and a number of so-called reformed jihadists late January. The militants demanded freedom for imprisoned associates. A presidential committee identified 170 jihadists eligible for release, and 95 were released Saturday. Other reports indicate that authorities have cleared for release a total of 300 of the 400 total suspected al Qaeda in prison.

In the latest round of negotiations, Saleh reportedly asked the militants to engage in violence against the southern mobility movement. The southern uprising is bent on achieving the independence of South Yemen and is a substantial threat to Saleh's grip on power. Tariq al Fahdli was present at the meeting, and at a later meeting in Abyan, militants brandished an official order directing the military to supply the mercenary group with arms and ammunition. Fahdli fought alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan and has been accused of complicity in the 1992 Aden hotel bombing, the first al Qaeda attack that targeted American troops. Fahdli's sister is married to Brigadier General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar, President Saleh's half brother and a recruiter for bin Laden in the 1980s.

President Saleh deployed Fahdli and other Afghan Arabs against southern Socialists in 1994's civil war. Some bin Laden loyalists were rewarded with high positions in the administration and military after the 1994 civil war. More recently, General al Ahmar incorporated Sunni extremists into military ranks during the 2004-2008 Saada War against Shiite "Houthi" rebels. Militants legitimize both the 1994 and Saada deployments by referencing the "apostate" nature of the enemy. This task is made easier by the official media's description of both Socialists and Shiites as satanic.

The deployment of al Qaeda extremists as a government paramilitary affords the jihadists training, experience, contacts, financial benefit, and the ability to dictate to the regime and indoctrinate followers. Many are awarded military salaries and official positions. After years of integrating militants into Yemen's security forces and bureaucracy, aspects of the state have been co-opted by extremists.

Direct negotiations between the Yemeni president and al Qaeda operatives grew out of Yemen's "Dialog Program" established in 2002. Through discussion of the Koran, the program sought to gain assurances that jihadists would not launch assaults within Yemen but said nothing about the Islamic legitimacy of attacks on US troops in Iraq. The program ran until 2005 and was described by some participants as an expedited release program.

In 2005, President Saleh began openly negotiating with the jihadists. One such negotiation in 2006 was conducted by Saleh and the head of Yemen's Political Security Organization. The jihadists' representative was Rashad Mohammed Saeed (Abu al Feida), formerly a major figure in al Qaeda and the Taliban who has been seen in videos near Osama Bin Laden.

Saeed later described the outcome of the meeting with Saleh. "It was also agreed to cancel measures imposed on those who are released, like house arrest, the monthly signing of official register and taking permission if you wish to go another province in Yemen," he said. In 2006, Saeed praised Yemen as "the best country" to deal with militants and noted "The Yemeni government will not enter open confrontations with Mujahideen."

President Saleh has also arranged state jobs, cars, cash payments and even weddings for militants who pledged to follow the regime's dictates. Officials spin these negotiations as fostering rehabilitation and integration into society.

In January 2008, a spokesman for an al Qaeda cell in Yemen said the government had recruited some of its members to fight in the Saada War. In exchange, the security forces agreed to "ease the persecution of (al Qaeda) members." Ahmed Mansour said the group is and has been in contact with the government through intermediaries, adding bin Laden ordered a ban on attacks directed against the regime and that the US remains enemy number one. Other al Qaeda insiders who reference bin Laden's prohibition on assaults against Saleh's government include Nasser al Bahri (Abu Jandal), bin Laden's longtime bodyguard, and Rashad Saeed.

Al Qaeda Central

Another prong of President Saleh's tripartite relation with al Qaeda is with the group's central leadership, thought to currently be in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Yemen supplied thousands of recruits to the Afghan jihad in the 1980s, and Yemenis were among the top ranks in the organization, as well as forming the core of personnel who were guarding, feeding, and transporting bin Laden. Saleh welcomed thousands of Yemeni and non-Yemeni jihadists from Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the Soviets. Ayman Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden frequently visited and preached in Yemen in the 1990s and have many loyalists among Yemeni government ranks.

A long-standing pattern of negotiation exists. After al Qaeda operative Khallad bin Attash was arrested in Yemen in 1999, bin Laden contacted a Yemeni official and bargained for Attash's release. The Yemeni regime released Attash and promised not to confront al Qaeda. In exchange, bin Laden pledged not to attack the government. Attash later went on the play a role in the USS Cole bombing. Another round of negotiation appears to have taken place 2003 in which regime concessions resulted in immunity from attack.

A current agreement between Yemen's President Saleh and the al Qaeda terror group was referenced in a report here at The Long War Journal detailing communication between Ayman Zawahiri and President Saleh after September's embassy attack. A US military official reported that "Saleh feared his government would be the next target, but Zawahiri wanted al Qaeda prisoners released from Yemeni jails and committed al Qaeda foot soldiers to fight the Houthi rebels."

Active Jihadists

Although Yemen formally joined the US-led War on Terror after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Yemeni regime has facilitated jihadists' efforts externally, sheltered fighters internally, and repeatedly misled the US about their whereabouts and status. In early 2007, a Yemeni newspaper tallied 1800 Yemenis who traveled to Iraq for jihad; their families said the young men were trained by top level Yemeni military commanders.

Yemeni courts fail to criminalize attacks on US troops or civilians abroad. In a 2006 trial of 13 jihadists who fought in Iraq, the court found that it is not against Yemeni law to murder foreign nationals in "occupied" Muslim nations. Although the defendants admitted to fighting US and Iraqi forces, they faced no judicial penalty and were convicted only of document fraud.

Yemen refuses to extradite or imprison the al Qaeda operatives convicted of the terror attack on the USS Cole. President Saleh has been equally lenient with those convicted of attacks on tourists and oil facilities. Several were granted "house arrest" after escaping from prison. Yemen's banking system lacks the legal framework to criminalize terrorist financing.

Some analysts assert that some of the terror attacks since 2006 were orchestrated by Yemen's security forces in a bid to manipulate international perceptions or overshadow domestic political crises. One of Yemen's most wanted terrorists, Hamza Ali Saleh al Dhayiuani, said "I am ready to prove the reality that some attacks were planned in co-ordination and agreement of the Political Security and its agents to gain foreign support."

In November 2008, Al Quds Al Arabi carried an interview with a former terrorist in Yemen who was described as "very close to al Qaeda". The senior jihadi reported that the terrorist organization has entered a "positive phase" in planning an attack against the US that will "outdo by far" Sept. 11. Al Quds Al Arabi previously published bin Laden's 1998 fatwa against the US. The Yemeni former operative reported that he is contact with the current leaders of the organization in Yemen who in turn receive messages from bin Laden.

Al Qaida groups in Yemen and Saudi Arabia formally merged operations in January, under the name al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The group announced the merger at a press conference attended by a single journalist, Abdulea Shaya, employed as a researcher by the state news agency, SABA. The group was acknowledged by Ayman Zawahiri in a statement. AQAP is based in Yemen. Its leader is a Yemeni, Nasser al Wahishi, who was a close associate of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. AQAP vowed to strike at Western interests and supply routes across the region. The new group and its broad goals appear to be a strategic development on the part of al Qaeda Central in furtherance of its global strategy.

The stated goals of AQAP mirror an April 2008 statement by Al Qaeda's central leadership which said establishing naval terror cells and control of the seas around Yemen is a "vital step" in achieving a global caliphate. The Bab al Mandeb waterway and Gulf of Aden were termed "of supreme strategic importance" in al Qaeda's long-term plan. The April statement highlighted the attacks on the USS Cole in 2001 and the French tanker Limburg in 2002 in Port Aden.

In response to the formation of AQAP, Saleh's regime made several announcements of its intent to find the group's hideout. Saleh called on tribal leaders and citizens to turn in the militants. Officials accused the opposition parties of supporting al Qaeda in an attempt to overthrow the state. Security forces set up checkpoints, engaged in hunting activities, and beat a man named al Zaheri because his name was similar to the al Qaeda chieftain's.

AQAP issued a communiqué explaining the unique configuration to its local members and legitimized fighting for the state by referencing the 1994 war. A copy of the letter was obtained by News Yemen. Echoing the earlier agreement by Saleh and Zawahiri late in 2008, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula explained to its followers that President Saleh wants jihadists to fight on behalf of the state, especially those who did already in 1994, against the enemies of unity-- southern oppositionists. AQAP in return will gain prison releases and unimpeded travel to external theaters of jihad, the letter explained.
23927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: February 15, 2009, 08:03:28 PM
http://news.bostonherald.com/news/na...osition=recent


Former astronaut speaks out on global warming

By Associated Press | Sunday, February 15, 2009 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Around the Nation

SANTA FE, N.M. - Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who walked on the moon and once served New Mexico in the U.S. Senate, doesn’t believe that humans are causing global warming.

"I don’t think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect," said Schmitt, who is among 70 skeptics scheduled to speak next month at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York.  Schmitt contends that scientists "are being intimidated" if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and sea levels.

"They’ve seen too many of their colleagues lose grant funding when they haven’t gone along with the so-called political consensus that we’re in a human-caused global warming," Schmitt said.

Dan Williams, publisher with the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, which is hosting the climate change conference, said he invited Schmitt after reading about his resignation from The Planetary Society, a nonprofit dedicated to space exploration.  Schmitt resigned after the group blamed global warming on human activity. In his resignation letter, the 74-year-old geologist argued that the "global
warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making."

Williams said Heartland is skeptical about the crisis that people are proclaiming in global warming.

"Not that the planet hasn’t warmed. We know it has or we’d all still be in the Ice Age," he said. "But it has not reached a crisis proportion and, even among us skeptics, there’s disagreement about how much man has been responsible for that warming."

Schmitt said historical documents indicate average temperatures have risen by 1 degree per century since around 1400 A.D., and the rise in carbon dioxide is because of the temperature rise.  Schmitt also said geological evidence indicates changes in sea level have been going on for thousands of years. He said smaller changes are related to changes in the elevation of land masses — for example, the Great Lakes are rising because the earth’s crust is rebounding from being depressed by glaciers.

Schmitt, who grew up in Silver City and now lives in Albuquerque, has a science degree from the California Institute of Technology. He also studied geology at the University of Oslo in Norway and took a doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964.
In 1972, he was one of the last men to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 17 mission.

Schmitt said he’s heartened that the upcoming conference is made up of scientists who haven’t been manipulated by politics.
Of the global warming debate, he said: "It’s one of the few times you’ve seen a sizable portion of scientists who ought to be objective take a political position and it’s coloring their objectivity."
23928  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Flex Stick 31" - Wrapped vs Foam on: February 15, 2009, 04:53:56 PM
I prefer the wrapped (cloth) but Cindy has informed me that the foam handles are bigger sellers, so what do I know?
23929  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Flex Stick 31" - Wrapped vs Foam on: February 15, 2009, 03:58:01 PM
Shipping is a reality question.  Ask Cindy at info@dogbrothers.com

Let me look into the handles and get back to you.
23930  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Darkness, Secrecy, , , and Knowledge wants to be free on: February 14, 2009, 07:43:42 PM
To make room in the discussion for the interseting Maija is taking things, I have modified the name of the thread.
23931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: February 14, 2009, 07:26:34 PM
I saw FZ lead the Mothers of Invention at the Fillmore East  cool  Probably around 1969.  To be candid, Zappa often irritated me a bit-- he had great chops, but usually was disrespectful of the music, he had a hard time just playing.   Exception:  the Hot Rats album.  Yes the humor was still there, but with great vocals by Capt. Beefheart, Zappa jammed and played his ass off.
23932  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMAA site on: February 14, 2009, 07:11:48 PM
Our webmaster was doing some stuff-- brave husband on St. Valentine's Day!-- but as far as I can tell all is well now.  If anyone is having any problems, please post here.

23933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A soldier's thoughts on: February 14, 2009, 07:06:35 PM
The following is posted here with permission.  It is from one of our brave soldiers currently in Afg who has just joined the DBMAA.  I asked him what he thought of the Afg-Pak and related threads here on this forum.  With identifying info deleted, here is his response:
================

Sir, I was actually reading the Afg-Pak thread before my meeting, I came back when I  finished and got your e-mail.

 Great stuff on there!  My personal opinion is that most Americans are weak willed (he is saying this in agreement with something I said, without my opening the subject I doubt he would have said anything-- Marc) because they have never really had to pay attention to what was going on in the world.  If some one doesn't want to hear about the war or anything else that they may view as a negative, they simply have to change the channel (plenty of other "reality" on these days), go to a different webpage or find any other thing to divert their attention.  A lot of people may just not care and figure that someone else will take care of the problem while those of us that do care and are trying to take care of the problem, either can't take care of the problem or our impact is minimal because so many just don't care.  Just one man's opinion.
 
I'm a ___________________ so we REALLY have to pay attention to what's going on around here and take into account all of the factors influencing what's going on (the "why" of it all), or we have a better chance of getting blown up when we roll out.
What me and my team do: " , , ,   No war can truly be "won" without the support of the populace and we can't gain the
support of the people by blowing their property up.  Even commie Chairman Mao understood this concept ("The richest source of power to wage war lies in the masses of the people.").  Today's military strategy seems to be the polar opposite of the "bomb the living piss out of 'em" carpet bombing strategy of WW2.
 
Ms. Ann Marlowe's piece on the last post of the Afg-Pak thread was pretty good.  I think she pretty much hit the nail on the head on most points.  I  do disagree with her opinion that we don't need more U.S. troops here.  We can't strengthen governance without security and whatever system of government ends up in place will not be self sustaining without the support
of a competent, well trained and legitimate ASF (Afghan Security Force).   ASF will be unable to attain that level of competency and training without security, i.e. more U.S. troops.  But she is correct when she said "Without improvements in these areas, no president and no amount of troops can stabilize Afghanistan.".  There are so many things contributing to the instability in this region and so little is being done about it.  ANA, ANP, and ASF receive low pay and sometimes go for months without pay at all.
 
 The ANP roll out in unarmored pick-up trucks and minimal if any body armor.  I think that's a big part of the reason for the high rate of casualties among them.  The TB are a bunch of bitches and avoid direct action and instead opt to employ the IED.  Most IEDs can probably vaporize a pick-up truck and whoever is in it.  U.S. forces roll in heavy armored vehicles and we wear so much body armor that we can probably survive ground zero of a nuclear blast.
 
 Incompetent and corrupt political leaders (hmmm... sounds familiar).  A  serious lack of checks and balances in the existing government structure (I do consider political parties one form of it).
 
Ok. Enough rambling for now.  I will definitely be posting on the forum as time permits.  A helluva lot of good stuff on there.
 
23934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / English & French in Toronto on: February 14, 2009, 12:21:47 PM
WARNING:  In VERY bad taste:

http://shortyellowb.blogspot.com/2009/02/sidewalk-interview-goes-bad-real-bad.html
23935  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Secrecy vs. Knowledge wants to be free on: February 14, 2009, 09:58:56 AM
Please forgive the re-posting here of this from elsewhere, but there is some overlap with the subject of this thread:
=============

In Search of the Totality of Ritual & Reality
by Guro Crafty

Some of you may have noticed in our catalog that we have begun organizing our DVDs into two basic categories:  Ritual and Reality and this thread serves to introduce a new chapter in the DBMA mission of "Walk as a warrior for all your days".

We call it "The totality of Ritual & Reality" (c).

What I have come to appreciate is that because we are a diverse system, people come to us for diverse reasons.  Stated thus, the point is blindingly obvious, but that did not stop me from not appreciating it as much as I could and should have.   And it is because of these diverse reasons that we are now entering a period of reorganization.

What are these diverse reasons?

Some people come to us due to their interest in the ritual space, e.g. a Dog Brothers Gathering of the Pack and/or the health, fun, artistic and philosophical aspects of our system.   At the other end of the spectrum are people who are intensely interested in developing real world skills for real world problems.  In between the two are people who may not have pressing immediate real world concerns, but like the idea of using the ritual space of a DB Gathering as a moral venue to explore and prepare their adrenal state skills should the flying fickle finger of fate ever reach out and touch them to say "You are on, right here, right now."

What I have come to appreciate is that many members of the first group explicitly prefer to have their experience with us free of what Carl Jung might call "the shadow issues" of real world applications.  Similarly, many members of the third group seek precisely to deal effectively with the shadow of those serve or are in the thrall of the Dark.  Typically these people prefer to have their experience devoid of what might playfully be called "martial arts & crafts", "dead patterns and tippy tap drills" and the like.  And there is a third group  --those who prefer a blend and a balance of the preceding two archetypes.  Personally, this is where I find myself--  in search of the totality of ritual and reality.

Concerning the matters of the Reality dimension, as I get older I have come to appreciate with greater depth than before the moral complexities of teaching the reality dimension of a weapons oriented martial art that originated in jungle warfare.  I sometimes joke about how I used to be a lawyer, but decided to go for the big bucks in Real Contact Stickfighting--the meaning of course being that there really is not very much money in this path.  Although it is my profession, I am not a mercenary.  I do it because I believe in it as part of my path in walking with our Creator.  And because I believe in it I respect the power of its shadow.  There ARE people for whom this Art is not intended.  The reality dimension of this Art is for those who serve the various paths of the Heart-- those who seek to Protect. In a complementary fashion, in some cases the Ritual side of the Art can be a place of healing, forgiveness and transcendence for those who have spiritual wounds to heal, perhaps due to previous engagements with the Dark.
23936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Crayon Physics on: February 14, 2009, 09:46:00 AM
Tricky Dog (A PhD in Physics btw!) turned me on to this.  Check out the demo on the front page!  I just ordered it.  I think the children will love it and if they don't I will!

http://www.crayonphysics.com/
23937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: February 14, 2009, 09:20:03 AM
Of course the Obots have passed on drilling.

Good thing we freed Iraq!
==========

Iraq’s oil reserve enough for 100 years- minister
February 14, 2009 - 02:25:20
 

KARBALA / Aswat al-Iraq: Iraqi Minister of Oil Hussein al-Shahrestani on Saturday said that Iraq has an oil reserve that will suffice for the next 100 years.
“Iraq has an estimated 400 geological compositions that have not yet been discovered,” the minister told several reporters, including a correspondent for Aswat al-Iraq news agency, during his visit to Karbala city today.

“Explored oil in Iraq reaches 115 billion barrels,” the minister said, adding that oil excavation companies will even increase Iraq’s reserve of crude oil.

“This will make Iraq home to the world’s largest oil reserve,” he noted.
23938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: February 14, 2009, 07:47:05 AM
By TERRY TEACHOUT
What do you fear more than anything else? In "Nineteen Eighty-Four," his 1948 novel about life under totalitarianism, George Orwell describes a mysterious torture chamber called Room 101 where prisoners are exposed to "the worst thing in the world" in order to make them talk. "It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or 50 other deaths," the chief interrogator explains. I thought of Room 101 when I read that the U.S. military uses loud music to soften up detainees who refuse to talk about their terrorist activities. Not surprisingly, some (though by no means all) of the musicians whose recordings have been used for this purpose want to have it stopped. Reprieve, a British legal charity that defends prisoners whose human rights are allegedly being violated, has gone so far as to launch Zero dB, an initiative specifically aimed at practitioners of what it calls "music torture."


President Obama's decision to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay and conduct a review of CIA interrogation techniques will doubtless have some as-yet-unknown impact on the use of music for coercive purposes. But speaking strictly as a critic, what I find most intriguing about this practice is the list of songs and performers reportedly used to "torture" detainees that Reprieve has posted on its Web site, www.reprieve.org.uk. It is an eclectic assemblage of tunes ranging from AC/DC's "Hell's Bells," a heavy-metal ditty that sounds as though it had been recorded by an orchestra of buzzsaws, to such seemingly innocuous fare as Don McLean's "American Pie" and the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive." To be sure, most of the records cited by Reprieve have one thing in common: They're ear-burstingly loud. But the presence on the list of "I Love You," the chirpy theme song of "Barney & Friends," a longtime staple of children's programming on PBS, suggests that the successful use of music as a tool of coercion entails more than mere volume.

I'm also struck by the fact that music is, so far as I know, the only art form used for such purposes. No doubt it would be unpleasant to be locked in a windowless room that had bad paintings hung on all four walls, but I can't envision even the most sensitive of spies blurting out the name of his controller to escape the looming presence of Andy Warhol or Thomas Kinkade. Yet I have no trouble imagining myself reduced to hysterical babbling after being forced to listen to shred, grunge and "I Love You" for 16-hour stretches, a technique said to have been employed by Guantanamo interrogators.

Music Used For Torture

British charity Reprieve, with the Musicians Union, has started an initiative called Zero dB which protests the practice of "music torture." Here is their list of music that has been used:

AC/DC ("Hells Bells," "Shoot to Thrill")AerosmithBarney the Dinosaur (theme song)Bee Gees ("Stayin' Alive")Britney SpearsBruce Springsteen ("Born in the USA")Christina Aguilera ("Dirrty")David Gray ("Babylon")DeicideDon McLean ("American Pie")Dope ("Die MF Die," "Take Your Best Shot")Dr. DreDrowning Pools ("Bodies")Eminem ("Kim," "Slim Shady," "White America")Lil' KimLimp BizkitMatchbox Twenty ("Gold")Meat LoafMetallica ("Enter Sandman")Neil Diamond ("America")Nine Inch Nails ("March of the Pigs," "Mr. Self Destruct")Prince ("Raspberry Beret")Queen ("We Are the Champions")Rage Against the Machine ("Killing in the Name")Red Hot Chili PeppersSaliva ("Click Click Boom")The "Sesame Street" theme songTupac ("All Eyes on Me")Donald Vance, who was imprisoned for 97 days at a U.S. military detention center in Iraq and is now suing the U.S. government, claims that interrogators there subjected him to a nonstop barrage of recorded music that made him suicidal. "It sort of removes you from you," he told an Associated Press reporter. "You can no longer formulate your own thoughts when you're in an environment like that."

I think I know what Mr. Vance means, sort of. I've gone to a lot of terrible plays in my capacity as the Journal's drama critic, but I'd much rather squirm through a bad play than a bad musical, much less a bad opera or symphony. No doubt this is partly because I have musical training, but I'm sure that it has more to do with the fundamental nature of the musical experience. Music, after all, is the most enveloping of the arts, the only one that creates the illusion of occupying both time and space. Live theater comes close, but it lacks music's all-encompassing quality. To enter into the presence of a piece of music, be it a Schubert sonata or a single by Metallica, is to be surrounded and permeated by its essence. The air is full of it -- and the clock is ruled by it. You can't get away from music, which explains its unparalleled power to disorient and disturb.

This power, it seems, is not limited to any one kind of music. Anyone who's paid a visit to New York's Penn Station in recent years knows that chamber music is regularly played over the station's public-address system. What most commuters don't know, however, is that this innovation was introduced in 1995 as part of the station's homelessness program, and that the purpose of the music, as an Amtrak official explained at the time, was both to "calm the frenzied traveler" and to "displace the negative element." Translation: Mozart drives away vagrants. Similarly, a number of high-school teachers have experimented in recent years, by all accounts successfully, with playing Frank Sinatra albums to miscreant teenagers during after-school detention periods.

I nevertheless find it significant -- and not a little comforting -- that the titles on Reprieve's list of Music to Confess By include "Hell's Bells" and Nine Inch Nails' "March of the Pigs" rather than, say, "Voi, che sapete" or "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning." Nor is this coincidental. As an interrogator for the U.S. Army's 361st Psychological Operations Company explained to Newsweek: "These people haven't heard heavy metal. They can't take it. If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken." The day anyone feels moved to say such things about "The Marriage of Figaro" is the day I'll apply for early retirement.

Mr. Teachout, the Journal's drama critic, writes "Sightings" every other Saturday and blogs about the arts at www.terryteachout.com. Write to him at tteachout@wsj.com.
23939  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: February 14, 2009, 07:04:09 AM
Woof All:

We have selected the fighters for the pilot shoot, which shall take place soon.   Those of you who dawdled getting your demo reels in , , , well, you snooze, you lose.  cheesy

Our producers feel confident we will get approval, in which case the next step will be to choose fighters for the show.  So if you want to be amongst those considered, well, "Tomorrow is promised to no one"-- time to get your demo reel/resume in!

The Adventure continues!
Marc/Crafty Dog
23940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Doubt and Uncertainty on: February 14, 2009, 06:53:54 AM
Anyone trying to understand why the credit mess keeps getting messier needs only to have sat through Wednesday's hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. The eight bank CEOs were mere props. The stars were the politicians, who managed to demand more loans for consumers while simultaneously giving lenders new cause to wonder if they'll ever be repaid. This gathering of the esteemed Committee on Doubt and Uncertainty occurred as markets desperately need less of both.

 
AP
Barney Frank.
Chairman Barney Frank's hearing was intended to flay the CEOs for not lending enough. It fell flat as political theater because banks have actually increased their lending in recent months. The people who aren't lending more are investors in nonbank financing such as asset-backed securities.

In fact, the nonbank credit market is normally much bigger than bank lending. But new issues backed by auto loans, credit cards and the like have been rare this year, as markets wonder how the government's next move will change the value of such investments. Buyers and sellers of existing securities are "sitting on the sidelines," according to Asset-Backed Alert, waiting for still another Washington recalibration of risk and reward.

Most investors who lend in these markets are not recipients of financial bailout money, so Congress can't simply browbeat them into making another big bet on the American consumer. They've been burned badly. They need reassurance that our capital markets operate with a consistent set of rules. The Committee on Doubt and Uncertainty offered only the assurance that the rules will keep changing.

The Opinion Journal Widget
Download Opinion Journal's widget and link to the most important editorials and op-eds of the day from your blog or Web page.
Early in the hearing, Mr. Frank urged all lenders not to foreclose on any mortgage borrowers until Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveils a new foreclosure mitigation plan. In fact, foreclosures had already started to decline due to Treasury-created uncertainty. Mr. Frank's admonition will cause a more rapid fall, since Citigroup, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan "volunteered" to a temporary freeze after the hearing.

Don't confuse this with a sign that the housing market is improving. The pols are simply delaying the pain until they decide how much to inflict on taxpayers versus investors. It's true that investors in consumer debt can expect subsidized financing from Mr. Geithner, but it's a flip of the coin whether the new subsidies will outweigh the costs of new foreclosure limits.

The safest bet is a huge new rescue of those who borrowed too much, and Mr. Geithner has already promised another $50 billion of your tax dollars. Meanwhile, Mr. Frank made clear that Congress's obsession with promoting homeownership is alive and well. He explained that his foreclosure moratorium pending the Geithner plan is to avoid a circumstance akin to a soldier who is killed after a ceasefire agreement but before the news has reached the front. Readers who don't equate moving into a rental with death in combat should direct their comments to Mr. Frank's office.

Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), for her part, demanded to know why some banks don't modify loan terms until borrowers are 60-days delinquent. Heck, why stop at mortgages? Shouldn't lenders convert all of their money-making contracts into losers?

If potential investors weren't frightened enough, Nydia Velazquez (D., N.Y.) then seized the microphone. She demanded to know if the assembled CEOs would back "cramdown" legislation, which rewrites the bankruptcy code to allow judges to reduce the amount people owe on their mortgages. So investors who might have jumped back into housing now must calculate the odds that this provision will pass the Senate, and if it does, how much bankruptcy judges will reduce their overall returns.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein pointed out that a potential consequence of bankruptcy cramdowns is that "less capital flows into this market." The only CEO who sided with Rep. Velazquez was Citigroup's Vikram Pandit, who also agreed with nearly everything the politicians had to say. This is what a CEO does when his bank becomes a de facto ward of the state, as Citi now is. Unfortunately, Mr. Pandit's support for cramdowns will only discourage nongovernment investors in housing markets.

All in all, just another day's work for the Committee on Doubt and Uncertainty, which continues to believe that proposing more ways to punish lenders will somehow produce more lending.

23941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Jeb Bush on: February 14, 2009, 06:49:31 AM
excerpt:

What comes through when Mr. Bush is asked about education is how radical his views are. He would toss out the traditional K-to-12 scheme in favor of a credit system, like colleges have.

"It's not based on seat time," he says. "It's whether you accomplished the task. Now we're like GM in its heyday of mass production. We don't have a flourishing education system that's customized. There's a whole world out there that didn't exist 10 years ago, which is online learning. We have the ability today to customize learning so we don't cast young people aside."

This is where Sweden comes in. "The idea that somehow Sweden would be the land of innovation, where private involvement in what was considered a government activity, is quite shocking to us Americans," Mr. Bush says. "But they're way ahead of us. They have a totally voucherized system. The kids come from Baghdad, Somalia -- this is in the tougher part of Stockholm -- and they're learning three languages by the time they finish. . . . there's no reason we can't have that except we're stuck in the old way."

23942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: A writer's suggestions on: February 14, 2009, 06:28:16 AM
I have no idea whether whether this writer's suggestions are any good.  I post them because they assay making specific suggestions.
Catching my eye was the datum about a 5% casualty rate for the police.
=================
By ANN MARLOWE
The Taliban's synchronized suicide bombings on government buildings in Kabul this week will no doubt intensify President Barack Obama's desire to bring security to Afghanistan. On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama pledged to make the country the centerpiece of his foreign policy, calling for an Iraq-like surge of thousands of troops. Recently, he and Vice-President Joe Biden have also made it clear that they've lost patience with President Hamid Karzai's weak leadership and his toleration of corruption.

But the surge that Afghanistan needs isn't in U.S. troops, it's in strengthening governance and Afghan security forces. Without improvements in these areas, no president and no amount of troops can stabilize Afghanistan.

Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke, currently in the region, should make it clear to the Afghan people, if necessary through a blunt announcement, that the U.S. prefers Mr. Karzai not seek another term. Mr. Holbrooke should also meet immediately with the Afghan Parliament to discuss what can be done to improve governance, and to discuss possible changes to the disastrous 2004 Afghan constitution.

The Opinion Journal Widget
Download Opinion Journal's widget and link to the most important editorials and op-eds of the day from your blog or Web page.
There are three big structural problems enshrined in that document. First, the 34 provincial governors are not elected, but appointed and removed at will by the president. Second, members of parliament are elected on a provincial rather than on a district basis. And third, provincial councils are elected on a provincial rather than on a district basis and have no official policy role. Another issue is the absence of political parties.

Mr. Karzai's shuffling of notables from one governorship to another has been reactive, removing governors who either threaten him, criticize him, or are so incompetent that the American military has complained about them. He has swapped some provinces' governors twice in a year; Ghazni had four in 2008. The current system treats Afghan citizens like subjects, forced to suffer whatever their appointed local despot decides. Is it surprising that most Afghans don't stand up to the Taliban?

The system of parliamentary elections also disservices Afghans, since some provinces are the size of European countries and vary considerably in terrain, economy and ethnic composition. Under the current electoral system, the top vote-getters represent a province, but may come from only one district of a province, usually the richest and most populous, and from one tribe or ethnic group. (Imagine the members of the House of Representatives from California all hailing from Los Angeles or San Francisco and all being white men.)

Since provincial councils are also elected province-wide, Afghan citizens can't hold their representative accountable for local conditions, and representatives don't have ties to specific constituencies. (Imagine the entire New York State Assembly coming from Brooklyn.) Worse, these representatives, despite being closest to the people, serve nothing but an advisory role, and it's mainly the American military that listens to them at all.

Mr. Karzai lobbied the United Nations hard to discourage the formation of political parties, and he got his wish. This is the major reason why the country is in the laughable situation of having no declared opposition candidates for a (late) presidential election slated for August. Without parties, power aligns along traditional tribal and ethnic lines, and provides ample opportunity for drug gangs and foreign governments to buy politicians. Any Afghan MP will tell you that the Pakistanis, Iranians and Russians buy MPs.

In terms of security, the U.S. must throw additional support behind Afghan security forces, particularly those who fight the insurgency on the most grass-roots level, the Afghan National Police (ANP). We've poured a lot of money into the ANP since we took over training from our NATO allies -- the current annual budget is around $800 million -- but we should be spending more. It's more effective, and cheaper, than anything we can do with our troops in many areas.

At present, Afghanistan only has a fraction of the number of police it needs. Some 77,000 cops serve a nation of 32 million people, most of them in villages scattered across one of the most mountainous countries in the world. In the east and south, they are under attack from insurgents wielding automatic weapons and planting improvised explosive devices.

This already small force is being eroded by a shocking combat death rate and resulting high attrition. Last year 1,215 out of 77,000 police were slain by insurgents, and an additional 2,600 police were wounded or missing in action. This amounts to one out of 20 cops killed or wounded in 2008.

The numbers are worse when viewed on a local level, because most of the deaths are occurring in a handful of frontline provinces where Afghan police are consequently quitting in droves. Last year, police pay was raised to $180 a month for the lowest-tier job in the most dangerous provinces, but this is still less than private security firms offer for safer work.

With increased American support, the ANP can become a success story like the Afghan National Army. A widely respected institution, the army is modernizing rapidly, with 41 of its 69 battalions "capable of independent planning, execution, and sustainment of counterinsurgency operations," according to American military trainers. Increasing the size of the army is a good idea. So is paying current soldiers enough so they remain in the army.

The Taliban's increasing boldness and the incompetent presidency of Hamid Karzai are symptoms of deeper problems: illiteracy, a nonexistent civil society, undeveloped national institutions, and pervasive corruption. Reversing these trends will take years. But within the term of Mr. Obama's presidency, there's much that can be done to restore Afghanistan to order.

Ms. Marlowe is a New York-based writer who travels frequently to Afghanistan.

23943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The illusion that symbols create reality; Transparency? on: February 14, 2009, 06:06:42 AM
I tangentially mention that this is the sort of article that belongs in this thead , , ,

Obama and the American dream

The most serious threat to American liberty is the illusion that symbols create reality.
As I watched the inauguration of America’s 44th president, I wondered what the commotion was about. It was billed as a larger than life historical event that would usher in a new era of change, but where was the tangible evidence for such a grandiose notion? Scenes of ecstatic joy, bringing multitudes of people to cry, break into song and exhibit a whole range of emotions, must find their rationale in a person's track record -- in real historical achievements. What exactly had Barack Obama done to inspire such hope?

We Filipinos are media junkies; decades-long exposure to American news and soap operas had convinced us that racism was defeated long ago. If this was Obama’s achievement it was old news, an old story. Moreover in his case the racism narrative of slavery and segregation was a borrowed one, not something from his own heritage. Stories are the stuff of symbols and, surely, America’s 44th president must have his own story—something in the tradition of Augustus Caesar, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Mother Teresa or Pope John Paul II who were all heroic achievers.

By contrast, there is nothing very remarkable about what Barack Obama has done with his life so far. That he is an African-American with a diverse background within the context of America’s racial past may be enough these days to make him a symbol of hope, but it is hope premised on his potential to deliver great deeds, not on historical acts as in the case of the heroic figures mentioned above. In the case of Obama, the symbol precedes the story and the story precedes the acts.

Not until Obama acts will we know his true story and be able to judge whether it is a good story, capable of inspiring great deeds all round. If, for example, the new president were to honestly address the evils besetting the modern world -- not only wars in the guise of liberation to protect American interests, but also, at home, the destruction of marriage and the war on the unborn child (both of which disproportionately afflict black Americans) -- then he might begin to shine as a real symbol.

Obama's symbolism is very like that of America itself. Like the Obama story, the American story is also premised on potential. Disregarding what the New World’s settlers did to the Native American, the pilgrims’ background story of the oppressed seeking -- and finding -- liberty served as the perfect recipe for the American symbol as it has been officially known.

But the premise of liberty in the American story is but a potential and has remained in potency since the unfurling of the Stars and Stripes.

Proof that the story of the American symbol has not been actualized can be culled from America’s behavior, its policies, and most especially the popular ideas and lifestyles it has introduced to the world and established as norms: consumerism as the lifeblood of a capitalism oblivious to global warming and the logic of good values; liberalism as the essence of freedom; and imperialism as the motive of charity in the form of aid and intervention. All these ambiguities have left their mark on developing countries like my own.

The question now is whether Obama will actualize the American story. Will he write the story of the symbol and do the acts that should have preceded the story in the first place? Will Obama be that larger than life symbol that has been so grandiosely represented by America?

There is a serious threat to America, and it is not terrorism, global warming, or the economy; these are but consequences of the real threat. It is the illusion that symbols create reality.

An empty symbol cannot sustain itself. Like art and literature that are unable to capture the nature of things, they are forgotten. This is what sets apart the classics from the rest. Moreover, classics are filled with symbols which can be directly associated with reality, and so they stand the test of time and last. Symbol making seems to have become a frivolously empty process with empty stories, devoid of reason. This is what I thought as I watched the faces and various displays of emotion during the inauguration.

Ironically, the television screen that enabled me to watch Obama-mania in full flight is largely responsible for this state of affairs. Marshall McLuhan best captured it’s ambiguity in 1964 when he coined the phrase, “the medium is the message.” The visual media’s confusion of the reel and the real has become the very life of our times. Life imitates the media and reason has been replaced by the emotional force of personalities and symbols.

Hopefully, Obama will actualize the story of that American dream which has remained in potency for centuries. If he decides to do the acts needed to complete the story of the symbol that has been stamped on him, headlines will change and much of America’s (and the world’s) problems will eventually disappear. This is the real story of America—that it has yet to be great and that it has the potential to be so. I believe it can be realised.

Caterina F. Lorenzo-Molo is an Assistant Professor of the University of Asia and the Pacific's (UA&P) School of Communication (SCM) in the Philippines. She teaches and does research in communication ethics. Her articles have been published in Public Relations Review, Media Asia and Asia Business & Management (ABM). She is a mother of three young girls.
=========
WSJ:  Transparency?  Hah!

In his closing remarks on the stimulus bill yesterday, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey called it "the largest change in domestic policy since the 1930s." We'd say more like the 1960s, which is bad enough, but his point about the bill's magnitude is right. The 1,073-page monstrosity includes the biggest spending increase since World War II, but more important is the fine print expanding the role of the federal government across the breadth of American business, health care, energy and welfare policy.

Given those stakes, you might think Congress would get more than a few hours to debate it. But, no, yesterday's roll call votes came less than 24 hours after House-Senate conferees had agreed to their deal. Democrats rushed the bill to the floor before Members could even read it, much less have time to broadcast the details so the public could offer its verdict.

The Opinion Journal Widget
Download Opinion Journal's widget and link to the most important editorials and op-eds of the day from your blog or Web page.
So much for Democratic promises of a new era of transparency. Only this Tuesday the House unanimously approved a resolution promising 48-hour public notice before holding a roll call. Even better, the bill could have been posted on the Internet, as candidate Barack Obama suggested during the campaign. Let voters see what they're getting for all this money. Not a chance.

This high-handed endgame follows the pattern of this bill from the start, with Republicans all but ignored until Democrats let three GOP Senators nibble around the edges to prevent a filibuster. With their huge majorities, Mr. Obey and Democrats got their epic victory. But far from a new, transparent way of governing, this bill represents the kind of old-fashioned partisan politics that Tom DeLay would have admired.


23944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spouse First on: February 14, 2009, 06:03:22 AM
Career choice: spouse first
Mr Right is unlikely to just turn up while a girl is getting on with her own life.
An interesting interesting article caught my eye this week with its catchy subtitle: "I should have ditched feminism for love, children and baking". In that article, Zoe Lewis writes about her regret at pursuing a career at the expense of relationships and children. Now nearly 37 and a successful playwright, she has woken up to the reality of an empty pot at the end of the feminist rainbow: "from what I see and feel, loving relationships and children bring more happiness than work ever can".

The article provides an interesting contrast to Guiomar Barbi Ochoa's wonderful story on MercatorNet of meeting the right man in a chance encounter at 33 years old. This was slightly ironic in that Ochoa had not been leaving things to chance but had pursued the matter of a spouse quite deliberately for some time -- unlike those of her peers who want to believe that you can do your own thing, pursue your career dreams and interests, and, at the right time the perfect man will simply pop into your life and sweep you off your feet. In my experience, however, this kind of dream encounter eludes many good women today who seem to be doing everything else according to plan -- that is, following their own careers, dreams and interests and "working on themselves" while trying to be happy and optimistic about their lives despite the continued lack of a partner.

Indeed, while a majority of young women still hope to get married, the statistics show that more and more women are remaining single into their thirties and beyond. This is perhaps especially true of women focused on pursuing their careers. In a Harvard Business Review article in 2002, economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett reported that in the 41-55 year age group, "Only 60 per cent of high-achieving women...are married, and this figure falls to 57 per cent in corporate America. By contrast, 76 per cent of...men are married, and this figure rises to 83 per cent among ultra-achievers." Moreover, Hewlett found that "between a third and a half of all successful career women in the United States do not have children", yet, "These women have not chosen to remain childless. The vast majority, in fact, yearn for children." 

One explanation for this phenomenon was advanced by Danielle Crittenden in What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us (2000). There she writes that feminism, which launched young women on a quest for careers at the expense of children and family, overlooked a crucial difference between the sexes: the "disparity in sexual staying power". At a certain point an aging single woman will realize that "Men will outlast her. Men, particularly successful men, will be attractive and virile into their 50s. They can start families whenever they feel like it" while women's biological clocks are ringing in alarm by age 35. Crittenden concludes that for this reason, "it is men who have benefited most from women's determination to remain independent…moderately attractive bachelors in their 30s now possess the sexual power that once belonged only to models and millionaires. They have their pick of companions, and may callously disregard the increasingly desperate 30-ish single women around them".

Hewlett agrees with this conclusion: "Clearly, successful women professionals have slim pickings in the marriage department—particularly as they age. Professional men seeking to marry typically reach into a large pool of younger women, while professional women are limited to a shrinking pool of eligible peers. According to U. S. Census Bureau data, at age 28 there are four college-educated, single men for every three college-educated, single women. A decade later, the situation is radically changed. At age 38, there is one man for every three women."

While I was still in law school, I stumbled across Hewlett's book Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children. Two years later, while working long evenings as a junior lawyer in a large corporate law firm in Manhattan, I realized that her analysis was right. Around me I saw aging single women lawyers working side-by-side with mostly married male colleagues (often with stay-at-home wives). It's harder for women to meet and marry men and have families when they are trying to get ahead in what is still, in essence, a man's world. It is a man's world because the career trajectory is much better suited to men than to women, in that our prime career-building years also coincide with women's peak years of fertility. In that sense, women have a much harder time "having it all".

One solution to this problem was proposed last year by Lori Gottlieb, a 40-year-old single mother of a child conceived via sperm donation. She wrote in the Atlantic that although she still describes herself as a feminist, she now admits her desire for a traditional family: "ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for in life, and she probably won't tell you it's a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, she'll say that what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child)." Gottlieb didn't seem to regret pursuing career and education, but she regretted holding out for a romanticized notion of true love. Her advice to younger women: settle while you're young, for "Mr. Good Enough".

Gottlieb's advice is certainly extreme and justifiably sparked much outrage, but there may be something to it, at least to the extent that she is asking women to be more realistic about men. Today, many women are so self-sufficient that they've in effect become their own men, providing for themselves and arranging for their own protection. They need men less than ever, which may also lead them to be more picky than they perhaps should be, holding out for a dreamy Hollywood version of "Mr. Romantic" while missing the good real men along the way.

But certainly, "settling" in one's search for a marriage partner can only be taken so far. Some criteria can perhaps be made more realistic, but I would not advocate for abandoning your core values and principles. Ochoa is right in that regard - marriage, as the most important partnership in life, has to be built on a solid foundation.

Yet perhaps there is another way that women may want to consider "settling", at least during their childbearing years. Today, there is a lot of pressure on women to be high achievers in every area – often, pressure they put on themselves. I can speak for myself: as a Harvard Law graduate, how could I not pursue a high-powered career? If I were to "settle" for a less demanding career path, if I were not to rise to the top in whatever field of work I chose, wouldn't I be wasting my brain and my education? On the other hand, as I laboured away my nights and weekends at the law firm, I also started to realize that my heavy-duty work schedule did not leave much space for a personal life. If I were to ever get married, I couldn't see how I would successfully juggle all my work demands while giving adequate time to a family.

In the end, something had to give. I knew within myself that work could never fulfil me as much as family and children. So I consciously chose my priorities: marriage and family first. At 27 years old, I quit the law firm and decided to pursue non-profit work, which was not only much more satisfying, but which also decreased my stress level and allowed me more free time.

I made conscious efforts to meet a future husband – not by compromising on his qualities, but by increasing the opportunities for meeting the right man. Incredibly, only three months after I quit the law firm, he ended up clicking on my photo on CatholicMatch.com. A year and a half later, we were married.

Now, nearly three years later, I am about to take a further step – becoming a stay-at-home mom to the baby we are soon expecting. While it's not always easy letting go of my own career for what may be either a short or long time, the truth is that I can't wait to be home with our baby, and I am the happiest I have ever been. I still agree with Crittenden and Hewlett, and I am so glad that I did not succumb to the pressure to focus on a career at this time in my life. Zoe Lewis is right, and the feminists got it wrong.

Lea Singh graduated from Harvard Law School in 2003. She works for a nonprofit organization in Ottawa, Canada.
23945  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Old man kills in self-protection on: February 13, 2009, 06:51:48 PM
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b50_1197180749
23946  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: February 13, 2009, 06:49:54 PM
Must be a helluva backstory here , , ,

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=e55_1234305715
23947  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: February 13, 2009, 05:49:35 PM
Tom S.

Please email me at Craftydog@dogbrothers.com ASAP
23948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: India and India-Pak on: February 13, 2009, 05:38:27 PM
More interesting stuff from the Indian POV:

With friend's comments:
=============
Considering that the war is now moving to AF-PAK arena...it behooves us to familiarize oneself with the region. Here's a link to a citizen's power point presentation, which has some interesting maps being debated on the sub continent. Its easier to see them with the full screen mode
http://www.slideshare.net/rajaram.muthukrishnan/national-security-national-interests-implications-presentation?type=presentation
 
The feeling in Indian circles (wishful thinking ?) is that we must achieve a PIP (Peaceful Implosion of Pak), as opposed to a Violent Implosion of Pak...which seems to be ongoing. There is no clarity yet on US tactics or strategy...but there are elections planned in AFG,  and India. I expect 2009 to be interesting...
=============


http://soodvikram.blogspot.com/
23949  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: February 13, 2009, 04:21:29 PM
The following is one of the responses to the newsletter.  With permission it is used here: 
========

Thank you my friend, I would be Honored if you would use this material. I just want to give credit where credit is due. the material from which I studied to get this knowledge comes from the Postural Restoration Institute in Lincoln NE. I am in the process of getting certified in their method. 

Richard Artichoker



==========
 Let me begin by saying that I am a Physical therapist and my primary area of interest is in postural rehabilitation.  I work with people from all walks of life  and the most common problems I see are Back and Neck and shoulder pain, followed closely by knee and foot pain, all of which can be traced Back to faulty postural habits and/or poor conditioning

      Your breakdown of desirable postural landmarks and positioning was very accurate and insightful, what i find The most interesting however was the fact that you were even aware that the nagging pains and injuries you were suffering from Status Post surgical repair of your knee was directly related to postural imbalances and dysfunction.  In my experience, even a lot of MD's  can't seem to make that connection and Orthopedists are the worst.

    here are some principles I espouse in the clinical setting that seem to help a majority of my patients.

          1) The Lumbo-pelvic-Femoral complex is THE keystone to correct alignment of the whole spine. without neutrality and stability of this complex  you CANNOT  correct dysfunctional anomalies further up the chain.   Now again, i repeat, you CANNOT correct up the chain without establishing a neutral and stable pelvis. This is a key concept in postural reeducation. There are many therapists and Chiropractors alike out there who will probably disagree with my last statement referring back to their succeses with resolving neck and or thoracic symptoms utilizing the standard therapeutic method of their given vocation and without addressing pelvic stability.  i contend however that utilization of  muscle, tendon and ligamentous stretching and joint mobilization with creating a neutral and stable framework and without balancing the Net forces across the joint is doing nothing but creating an Asymptomatic/pathological patient.  I use Newton's third law as my guiding principle. "for every force, there is an equal and Opposite reactive Force"  In order for a system to work in balance this statement must be true, lets look at a joint, a knee for example: a simple problem i encounter in the clinic is Patela/femoral instability. this syndrome is a result of unequal forces across the joint made up of the patella and femoral condyle  resulting in the patella tracking laterally in the condylar groove leading to rubbing of the lateral patela on the lateral femoral condyl. the standard  approach to treating this is to strengthen the VMO(Vastus Mediallis Oblique), reduce tension in the Illio-tibial band with heat and stretching and some progressive thinking therapists will also try and address misalignment issues between the femur and tibia usually with orthotics.  Ron Hruska of the Postural Restoration institute would probably say that this problem is more likely the result of Femoral pelvic misalignment especially during functional activities do to Glute max and hamstring weakness especially when encountered on the right side of the Body.

     The key to lumbo pelvic stabilization lies with these three muscle groups: Glute max, Hamstrings and Adductors. the patient must be assessed  for the following:can they Adduct? and can they extend their right hip without pelvic rotation. if not the three muscle groups mentioned previously must be strengthened while at the same time working to inhibit the Oppositional muscles such as The lateral quads and the hip flexors.



    2) Correct breathing is essential to correct thoracic and cervical spine alignment and function! I won't go too much into the details of this as I have taken up quite a bit of your Time as it is, but just keep in mind that your diaphragm is not one symmetrical muscle as i think many people would believe and we have a nice big liver positioned perfectly underneath our right diaphragmatic hemisphere.  so what?  well the amount of excursion that that right diaphragm has is essentially less that that of the left leading to asymmetry of the diaphragm as well as hyper-inflation of the left chest wall. Try this experiment. take a few of your students or any of the staff there and ask them to lie supine on a flat surface and observe how the lower ribs look in this position. Does the left rib cage look a little more expanded? do you notice flaring of the lower left rib cage?  can the person flex their left shoulder overhead in supine to 180 degrees? can the person Internal rotate their Right arm to full range with the right shoulder  at 90 degrees of abduction?  If the answer to the  first two questions is yes and the second two is NO then that person is experiencing thoracic rotation due to respiratory dysfunction.

I will simply leave you with that for Now Guru Denny, if you have any further questions I would  be happy to answer them Smiley  Take care and Hoka Hey Kola!
======
23950  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Alignment on: February 13, 2009, 04:16:19 PM
The following is from a recent DBMA Newsletter.  Have YOU signed up?

============
Alignment

DBMA has as its mission statement "Walk as a Warrior for all your days". To this
 end, we have "The Three Fs": Fun, Fit, and Functional.  By this we mean that a)
 the Art should be fun to train b) it should promote Fitness, and Health c) It should
be Functional-- it should work.

This point about Fitness and Health is also made by one of my teachers, GM Myung
 Gyi, who speaks of The Three Hs":  Hurting, Healing, and Harmonizing". By this
he means that we come to the Art seeking to learn how to Hurt.  By so doing, we
accumulate injuries, and must learn to Heal them lest we and our comrades be reduced
in our capabilities, and by learning to Heal we learn Empathy and thus learn to
live a more harmonious life.

In DBMA we integrate the concept of The Three Hs into our curriculum.  In other
words, there are portions of our curriculum which are not directly about Fighting,
but are about Fitness, Health and Healing-- as well as Harmonizing.

As some of you may know, in 1992 I had a terrible knee injury wherein my ACL, PCL
and Lateral Collateral Ligaments were all snapped in half due to a horribly misapplied
throw by a training partner.  It took three surgeries over the course of many months
to replace these ligaments and during this time many muscles atrophied dramatically
which resulted in tremendous misalignment of my posture.  Thus, as I returned to
 training and fighting, many other injuries both small and large occurred.

Of necessity, I became extremely interested in matters having to due with postural
alignment and over time through research, investigation and experimentation, I developed
a body of principles which I call "The Self Help Principles".  Although in their
development I ran them by experts in many fields to favorable reviews, please understand
that I have absolutely no credentials in these matters and offer them only as what
works for me. As always in anything having to do with my teaching, for reasons of
legal liability I am Dog Brothers Inc and only you are responsible for you-- no
suing no one for no reason for nothing no how no way.

The first principle is the importance of postural alignment. When our posture is
 bad, certain parts of our body become overloaded.  As such they wear out more quickly
and are more susceptible to injury.

So the first question becomes "How can we tell if we are in alignment?"

It will be helpful if you have a training partner to observe you from the side.

Stand in front of a full length mirror with your eyes closed.  Open them and move
nothing.

The first thing to notice is your feet.  They should be directly under your hip
socket and evenly weighted.  They should be parallel.  Many/most people will have
one or both feet pointed outwards to some degree.  This is a sign of imbalance between
the external rotators (e.g. the piriformis) and the internal rotators (e.g. the
adductor complex) of the femur.   Typically this correlates with pressure at the
 sacrum (where the spine and the pelvis meet)

The second thing is to notice whether your hips are level or tilt forward. If your
training partner lacks the eye to discern this, a simple indicator is whether your
belly has a tendency to protrude (no matter how much ab work you may do)  This is
a sign of tight hip flexors (psoas, ilio, and quads) and typically it correlates
with a tight/achy lower back

The third thing to notice is whether your thumbs point straight forward (parallel)
or inwards.  They should be parallel.  If they are inwards, there is an issue with
the shoulder being internally rotated/collapsed.  This correlates with shortened
 pec minor and overextended external rotators of shoulder (e.g. teres minor).  This
often correlates with an irritated bicep tendon under the front deltoid muscle of
the shoulder.

The fourth thing to notice is the position of the ears in relation to the shoulders.
 Your partner should see that your ears are directly above your shoulders-- the
seam of your t-shirt is a good indicator of exactly where. With many people the
ears are forward of the shoulders.  This correlates with a tight neck and trapezius
muscles-- and the solution is not to be found in the neck.

To put things right requires a synergistic series of exercises.  The muscular skeletal
system is a magnificent creation in tensegrity and to put things right requires
an understanding of how to restore function to a state of complementary opposites.

But that is another subject for another time and place.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty
Pages: 1 ... 477 478 [479] 480 481 ... 664
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!