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23951  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: December 11, 2009, 10:49:53 AM
 cool cool cool
23952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 11, 2009, 10:28:39 AM
Fascinating article.  It is from Pravda on the Beach (LA Times) so caveat lector.

Note the timidity of US officials, and the appearance of CAIR and Ibrahim Cooper-- in a good light according to POTB.  Also, note that the families appear to have done the right thing.
=================

Reporting from Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan - A close-knit group of five American Muslims from suburban Virginia had been trying to join a militant group in the Al Qaeda stronghold of northwestern Pakistan when they were arrested this week, Pakistani authorities said Thursday.

Laptop computers, maps and extremist literature recovered in a raid on a house owned by the family of one of the five in Sargodha, in eastern Pakistan, suggest that the Americans wanted to train for jihad, or holy war, authorities said.

The young men had communicated with a militant group and may have intended to travel to Miran Shah, in the North Waziristan region dominated by Al Qaeda and the Taliban, authorities said.

"They were definitely planning jihad activity," said Usman Anwar, the top police official in Sargodha. "The planning was almost complete, but we arrested them and their plot has failed."

U.S. authorities were cautious about characterizing the latest in a series of cases in which American Muslims are suspected of seeking to join militant networks.

A U.S. anti-terrorism official said it did not appear that the men had been on the verge of violence.

The men, whose arrests were confirmed by authorities Wednesday, have not been charged with a crime, officials pointed out.

FBI agents based in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, have talked to the men, who were in Pakistani custody, a U.S. official said Thursday.

"I would describe it right now as a fact-finding mission because American citizens have been arrested in a foreign country," said the U.S. official, who requested anonymity because of the continuing investigation. "They are still trying to determine exactly what happened."

Conversations were underway about having the men turned over to the FBI, officials said.

A Pakistani Embassy spokesman in Washington said that on their visa applications, the Americans cited the wedding of a friend and sightseeing as their reasons for visiting Pakistan.

"One cannot say who their connections were, what was their purpose, what they were intending to do," spokesman Nadeem Kiani said.

The men flew into the southern port city of Karachi on Nov. 30, traveled to Lahore on Saturday and then to Sargodha before they were arrested after raising suspicions, Kiani said earlier.

Three of the men seemed emotionally overwhelmed by their arrest, said the anti-terrorism official, citing communications from investigators in Pakistan.

"I think they realized they were in deeper than they thought. They really want to get out of there and come home," said the official, who requested anonymity because the case remains open.

The five men are U.S. citizens of Pakistani, African and Egyptian descent and range in age from 18 to 24.

They worshiped together and lived in a working-class, ethnically mixed area of suburban Alexandria near a retail strip where a Mexican restaurant abuts a Chinese restaurant and an African American hair salon.

Their families became alarmed when the five left Washington for Karachi via London on Nov. 28, officials said.

Relatives found a videotape that depicted scenes of American casualties and a speech by one of the men talking about the need to defend Muslims, officials said.

The worried family members then contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Muslim group, which set up a meeting with the FBI on Dec. 1, according to Ibrahim Hooper, the group's national communications director.


===========
The U.S. is more cautious, with an official saying the five Muslims from suburban Virginia apparently weren't on the verge of violence. They may be handed over to the FBI.
"To varying degrees [the parents] were upset, devastated and frightened about what they were imagining might be happening," Hooper said. "At that point we had no idea what was going on. We had warning flags that they had possibly gone overseas without their parents."

A U.S. law enforcement official described the families as models of cooperation. In addition to sounding the alarm, they shared their sons' computers and other electronic devices with FBI agents from the Washington field office, the official said.

One urgent avenue of inquiry for U.S. investigators is how the men might have been radicalized and encouraged to go to Pakistan. A U.S. intelligence official said there was no immediate evidence of any U.S.-based accomplices or recruiters.

CAIR leaders said they hoped this case could be a turning point in a sometimes "strained" relationship between American Muslims and the FBI.

"The FBI was unaware of this case and unsure this had taken place," said Nihad Awad, CAIR's executive director. "It shows the importance of partnerships between parents and organizations like CAIR and law enforcement authorities. . . . We see it as a success story."

U.S. anti-terrorism officials said they believe the leader of the detainees is Ramy Zamzam, 22, an Egyptian-born dental student at Howard University. He is a former president of the Muslim Student Assn. in the Washington, D.C., area. Zamzam arrived in the United States at an early age and became a citizen in 1999, officials said.

Another member of the group, Umar Farooq Chaudhry, 24, born in Pakistan and naturalized three years ago, apparently provided a place for them to stay.

Pakistani police said the house where the group was captured in Sargodha belongs to Fahim Farooq, who is Farooq Chaudhry's uncle. But U.S. officials said they believe the house belongs to Farooq Chaudhry's father. The father is in Pakistan and has been trying to help the jailed men, the U.S. anti-terrorism official said.

The other men were all born in the United States, U.S. officials said. Pakistani American Waqar Khan, 22, is the only one with a criminal record, the anti-terrorism official said. In 2006, he was convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement and received a 12-month suspended sentence, the official said.

Amin Yemer, 18, is of Ethiopian descent and lived for a time in Seattle, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials. Ahmad Minni, 20, is apparently the son of Ethiopian immigrants, a Pakistani official said.

The group lived in modest houses, townhomes and apartments within a few blocks of one another. They were apparently roommates at different points, officials said.

Hooper, of CAIR, said the council was exploring the Internet as a prime source of extremist viewpoints that may have helped radicalize the men.

"That's why," he said, "we're putting together, over the next few weeks, a nationwide campaign challenging religious extremism and offering a mainstream viewpoint."

rotella@latimes.com
23953  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: December 11, 2009, 10:14:21 AM
I was surprised at how little answer he had to kicks on his front leg.   

Also, my eyesight is not what it used to be, but does the man have completely fallen arches?
23954  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pre-order form! on: December 10, 2009, 05:34:12 PM


http://dogbrothers.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=39&products_id=151
23955  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: DBMA para Policia on: December 10, 2009, 12:10:50 PM

"Die Less Often 3"
featuring Guro Crafty Dog
assisted by Poi Dog
$40

In the triple disc "Die Less Often"
http://www.dogbrothers.com/pages/multimedia.html
we began sharing our take on "the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty Hand".    We introduced threat management, "the Kali Fence", weapon access issues, pre-emption/interception tactics and techniques, reactive techniques ("the Dog Catcher"),  and tested them all full force in Force-on-Force drills using people who had trained in the material for only a day and a half in order to show that the material had a practical primal state foundation that could be installed to good effect in remarkably short order.

In DLO 2,
http://www.dogbrothers.com/pages/multimedia.html
the focus shifted to accessing a gun during a knife attack.  Here the focus discerning whether one needed to deal with the knife attack before accessing the gun, or whether to use range control, angle, and certain footwork to go for the gun before the knife attack arrived.  Again, this was tested in Force-on-Force drills.

Having shown dynamic testing of the fundamentals structures, in DLO 3 we turn to a deeper study of the particulars of managing unknown contacts/threat management, the Kali Fence, the angular brachial stun, how to start the fight by getting to your intended attacker's back while denying/controlling his potential for weapon access, weapon neutralization, (capture, disarm, and/or receiver grip) and much more.

DLO 1 showed the big picture of some material we think to be pretty sharp and really practical -- now DLO 3 gives the little details and fill in your matrix of options that deepen your understanding and raise your ability to apply the material in ever more challenging situations. 

If you are in the military and dealing with potential hostiles up close, in law enforcement, corrections work, security work, door work, or if you simply want to have these understanding for yourself as you "walk as a warrior for all your days".

23956  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Description on: December 10, 2009, 11:48:33 AM
Well , , , maybe later today embarassed cheesy

Anyway, here's this:

"Die Less Often 3"
featuring Guro Crafty Dog
assisted by Poi Dog
$40

In the triple disc "Die Less Often" we began sharing our take on "the Interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty Hand".    We introduced threat management, "the Kali Fence", weapon access issues, pre-emption/interception tactics and techniques, reactive techniques ("the Dog Catcher"),  and tested them all full force in Force-on-Force drills using people who had trained in the material for only a day and a half in order to show that the material had a practical primal state foundation that could be installed to good effect in remarkably short order.

In DLO 2, the focus shifted to accessing a gun during a knife attack.  Here the focus discerning whether one needed to deal with the knife attack before accessing the gun, or whether to use range control, angle, and certain footwork to go for the gun before the knife attack arrived.  Again, this was tested in Force-on-Force drills.

Having shown dynamic testing of the fundamentals structures, in DLO 3 we turn to a deeper study of the particulars of managing unknown contacts/threat management, the Kali Fence, the angular brachial stun, how to start the fight by getting to your intended attacker's back while denying/controlling his potential for weapon access, weapon neutralization, (capture, disarm, and/or receiver grip) and much more.

DLO 1 showed the big picture of some material we think to be pretty sharp and really practical -- now DLO 3 gives the little details and fill in your matrix of options that deepen your understanding and raise your ability to apply the material in ever more challenging situations. 

If you are in the military and dealing with potential hostiles up close, in law enforcement, corrections work, security work, door work, or if you simply want to have these understanding for yourself as you "walk as a warrior for all your days".
23957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iran's Democratic Moment on: December 10, 2009, 11:12:02 AM

By AMIR TAHERI
A month ago, Gen. Muhammad-Ali Aziz Jaafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, vowed to stop further antiregime demonstrations in Iran and break what he termed "this chain of conspiracies." But this week the "chain" appeared to be as strong as ever: Students across the nation defied the general and his political masters by organizing numerous demonstrations on and off campus.

The various opposition groups that constitute the pro-democracy movement have already called for another series of demonstrations on Dec. 27, a holy day on the Muslim Shiite calendar. Meanwhile, the official calendar of the Islamic Republic includes 22 days during which the regime organizes massive public demonstrations to flex its muscles. Since the controversial presidential election last June, the pro-democracy movement, in a jujitsu-style move, has used the official days to undermine the regime.

View Full Image

Getty Images
 
Antigovernment demonstrators at Tehran University, Dec. 7.
.On Jerusalem Day, Sept. 18, officially intended to express anti-Semitism, the opposition showed that Iranians have no hostility toward Jews or Israel. One popular slogan was "Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah! I give my life for Iran!" Another was "Forget about Palestine! Think about our Iran!"

On Nov. 4, the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, the opposition distanced itself from the regime's anti-American rhetoric. The democrats instead expressed anger against Russia and China, which are perceived as allies of the Islamic Republic. One slogan was "The Russian Embassy is a nest of spies!"

Most significantly, the movement that started as a protest against the alleged rigging of the election that gave a second term to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been evolving. The crowds' initial slogan was "Where Is My Vote?" and the movement's accidental leaders, including former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, tried hard to keep the protest confined to demands such as a recount of the votes and, ultimately, a runoff in accordance with the law.

The slogans of the protestors are no longer about election fraud. Today they include "Death to the Dictator," "Freedom Now," and "Iranian Republic, Not Islamic Republic!" One slogan is a direct message to President Barack Obama: "Obama, Are You With Us or With Them?"

OpinionJournal Related Stories:
Mark Bowden: How Iran's Revolution Was Hijacked
Akbar Atri and Mariam Memarsadeghi: The President Snubs Iran's Democrats
James Shinn: 'NATO Has the Watches, We Have the Time'
.In short, the protestors no longer regard the present regime as the legitimate government of the country.

Both Mr. Mousavi and Ayatollah Mahdi Karroubi, another defeated presidential candidate, tried to prevent attacks on the "Supreme Guide" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the hope of eventually making a deal with him. As part of such a deal, they promised to defend the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, according to sources close to the opposition. The crowds have rejected that by shouting: "Abandon uranium enrichment! Do something about the poor!"

It is clear the democracy movement is in no mood for deals with Mr. Khamenei, who they castigate for having betrayed his constitutional role of arbiter by siding with Mr. Ahmadinejad even before the official results of the election were declared. The demonstrators now burn his effigies, tear up posters showing his image, and chant violent slogans against him. One popular slogan goes: "Khamenei is a murderer! His guardianship is invalid!"

By cracking down ruthlessly on the protestors, the regime has only radicalized the movement. Even such notorious dealmakers as Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president now opposed to Mr. Ahmadinejad, have made it clear they would not accept any formula that would leave the "landslide winner" in place.

Last week, Mr. Rafsanjani refused to attend a much-publicized "reconciliation event" concocted by Ali Ardeshir Larijani, the speaker of Iran's ersatz parliament. The reason? Mr. Rafsanjani did not wish to be seen under the same roof as Mr. Ahmadinejad. Later, in a speech in Mash'had, Mr. Rafsanjani spoke of the regime's "long, deep and, potentially lethal crisis."

To judge by their most popular slogans, demonstrators across Iran are bent on regime change. Even rumors that the regime is working on scenarios for ditching Mr. Ahmadinejad—ostensibly on "health grounds"—after the Iranian New Year in March, have failed to halt the spread of regime-change sentiments.

Given the nation's mood, Messrs. Mousavi and Karroubi have abandoned their earlier talk of "realizing the full potentials of the existing constitution." An adviser to Mr. Mousavi tells me that "They wanted to make an omelet without breaking eggs. They now realize that [the people] have moved faster than imagined." More significantly, perhaps, Mr. Mousavi appears to have put his plans for an ill-defined "green organization" on the backburner. He is beginning to understand that the antiregime movement is too wide to fit into a centrally controlled framework.

Over the past six months, thousands of people have been arrested and hundreds killed in the streets. And yet, despite promises to squash the movement by Gen. Jaafari, it persists. To make matters worse for the regime, the Shiite clergy, often regarded as the backbone of the Islamic Republic, is beginning to distance itself from the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad tandem. Some ayatollahs, such as Messrs. Montazeri, Bayat, San'ei, Borujerdi and Zanjani, are especially annoyed at Mr. Ahmadinejad's claim of being in contact with the "Hidden Imam"—a messiah-like figure of Shiism whose second coming is supposed to occur at the end of times.

Mr. Ahmadinejad claims that the "return" is imminent and that he, as one of the "pegs" designated by the Hidden Imam to prepare the ground for the advent, has a mission of chasing the "Infidel" out of Muslim lands and liberating Palestine from "Zionist occupiers." In a speech in Isfahan last week, Mr. Ahmadinejad claimed that the pro-democracy movement was created by the Americans to sabotage his mission and thus prevent the return of the "Hidden Imam."

In response, a mid-ranking cleric in Qom tells me: "The way Ahmadinejad talks, he must be a sick man . . . by backing such a man, Khamenei has doomed the regime."

The Ahmadinejad-Khamenei tandem is also coming under attack for its alleged incompetence. The regime is now plagued by double-digit inflation, a massive flight of capital, and unprecedented levels of unemployment. Divisions within the ruling clique mean that the president has been unable to fill scores of key posts at middle levels of government. Rapidly losing its popular base, the regime is becoming increasingly dependent on its coercive forces, especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Revolutionary Guard commanders appear on TV almost every night, presenting themselves as "guardians of the system." Gen. Jaafari himself says he is attracted by the "Turkish model" in which the army acts as a bulwark of the republic.

However, the general may not have all the time in the world to ponder his next move. The pro-democracy movement is deepening and growing. Much work is under way to connect it to independent trade unions and hundreds of formal and informal associations that lead the civil society's fight against the evil of the Islamic Republic.

Iran has entered one of those hinge moments in history. What is certain is that the status quo has become untenable.

Mr. Taheri's new book, "The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution," is published by Encounter Books.
23958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Recruit levels responsive to pay raise on: December 10, 2009, 10:50:40 AM
December 10, 2009

Recruits Pour In After Afghan Army Offers a Raise

By ELISABETH BUMILLER
KABUL, Afghanistan


The American commander in charge of training the Afghan security forces said Wednesday that there had been a recent wave of recruits for the Afghan Army, most likely because of a pay increase that he said put salaries close to those of Taliban fighters.

The commander, Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, said that an Afghan soldier in a high-combat area like Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan would now make a starting salary of $240 a month, up from $180. General Caldwell said that the Taliban often paid insurgents $250 to $300 a month.

The Afghan Army pay increase was announced 10 days ago, General Caldwell said. In the first seven days of December, more than 2,600 Afghans signed up — a striking change, he said, from September, when there were 831 Afghans recruits for the entire month, or November, when there were 4,303 recruits.

General Caldwell was at Camp Eggers in Kabul, the headquarters of the American effort to train the Afghans. He was speaking to reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who was on his second day of a trip to Afghanistan focusing in part on Afghan training.

General Caldwell acknowledged the serious difficulties ahead in training the Afghan security forces, which the United States hopes to increase in size — from nearly 192,000 to as high as 282,000 — as well as in efficiency before President Obama’s goal of beginning to withdraw American troops in July 2011. The obstacles were outlined in a recent series of internal administration reviews that describe the Afghan Army and police as largely illiterate, often corrupt and poorly led.

However, other responsibilities will linger: on Tuesday, President Hamid Karzai said Afghanistan would not be able to pay for its own security until at least 2024.

General Caldwell expressed cautious optimism over the new recruiting.

“Seven days doesn’t prove anything yet, but it’s a positive step,” he said, adding, “I would never make the leap to say, ‘Therefore we’re going to fix this.’ ” Later, he said that success in Afghanistan would require far more than military might, and that “we’ll never kill our way to victory.” ....... "

The article continues with current rehash etc

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/10/wo...ef=global-home

23959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Unified Kurdish Army? on: December 10, 2009, 10:26:44 AM
Summary
Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani has announced his intention to establish a unified Kurdish army in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Combining Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan forces will not be an easy task, but Iraq’s Kurdish leaders have a strategic imperative to band together in dealing with their Arab rivals in the Iraqi central government. The Kurdish proposal signals a potential revival of militia building in Iraq, which carries significant implications for the U.S. exit strategy.

Analysis
As sectarian tensions flare ahead of Iraq’s parliamentary elections in early 2010, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the north has announced plans to build its own army. KRG President Massoud Barzani said Nov. 22 that he intends to establish a unified Kurdish army in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region by outlawing the areas’ private militias (peshmerga) and bringing them under the direct jurisdiction of the Ministry of Peshmerga. The KRG leaders hope this initiative will mend a political rift within Iraqi Kurdistan and give the KRG more strength in battling its Arab rivals in Iraq’s central government.





(Click here to read a STRATFOR translation of the proposed law taken from the Kurdistan National Assembly’s Web site)
Iraq’s Kurds inhabit a mountainous region in the country’s north. While this terrain has protected them from foreign invasion, it has also nurtured deep-seated tribal rivalries. These rivalries are so strong that Kurds have often sided with a common enemy (like Iran, Turkey or Baathist Iraq) to undermine each other. However, in 2003, rivals Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) put aside their differences and formed a unified regional government to represent Kurdish interests in Iraq’s post-Saddam Hussein government. The alliance has remained intact through a series of formal agreements that have roughly divided power between the parties.

Barzani is hoping the creation of a unified army will consolidate the KDP and PUK and insure the integrity of their alliance. Barzani saw the alliance threatened most recently in July, in the Kurdish provincial election, with the rise of the Goran (“Change”) party. Goran — which campaigned on an anti-corruption, reformist platform — did particularly well in the PUK’s stronghold in Iraqi Kurdistan’s east, claiming 25 parliamentary seats and winning nearly a quarter of the popular vote.

The erosion of PUK’s power has become obvious. Already Jalal Talabani, head of the PUK, has acquiesced to several KDP demands. For example, the KDP has held the KRG’s premiership since 2005 when, according to the KDP-PUK agreement, it should have relinquished control of the post in 2007. However, the KDP does not want to see the PUK deteriorate any further. The KDP is aware of the PUK’s fragile unity, especially following the political turmoil the PUK experienced in the past year, and is concerned that any further weakening will exacerbate existing fissures and splinter the group. Barzani is loath to see a political vacuum develop in the north — especially one that might be filled by Goran, whose demands for a more transparent government and the establishment of the rule of law directly challenge the delicate power balance between the KDP and PUK.

Barzani’s bid to consolidate peshmerga forces is also a direct response to the Kurds’ uncertain relationship with its neighbors. The KRG’s relationship with Baghdad has deteriorated significantly in recent months. As the presence of U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq diminishes, and as the country readies itself for its second post-Hussein parliamentary elections early next year, the nation’s ethno-sectarian tensions have started bubbling to the surface again. In November, Barzani announced that the Kurds will boycott the upcoming election unless the election laws are amended to increase Kurdish representation in the national parliament. Furthermore, Iraq’s upcoming round of oil auctions has reignited the debate over the distribution of oil revenues from Iraq’s northern fields (the Iraqi central government’s November statement that it would not honor oil contracts signed by the KRG is an example of the strife over oil revenues).

Not only is Baghdad working to contain Iraqi Kurdistan’s economic gains, it also does not want to see the region gain influence in security issues. Starting in 2005, Iraq’s central government, with a strong push from the United States, half-heartedly announced several steps to heal the country’s ethno-sectarian wounds by integrating Kurdish and Sunni militias into the Shiite-dominated army and police force. The plan, however, has not been fully realized. Kurds currently compose 7.2 percent of the Iraqi army, well below the 18-20 percent mandated by the country’s constitution. Nearly 200,000 peshmerga have yet to be integrated into the Iraqi army. Furthermore, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s announcement in November that he would prioritize reconstruction over security could provide him the cover to impede the integration of Kurdish and Sunni forces into the country’s military and maintain the Shiite’s dominance of the army. Baghdad has also dragged its feet on its promise to create two Kurdish brigades in the KRG and recently shut down two military colleges located in the Zakho and Qalachwalan districts in the Kurdistan region.

The slow progress is in no small part due to the Shiite-dominated government’s reluctance to share its security responsibilities with its ethno-sectarian rivals, but the Kurdish leadership is just as wary of relinquishing control of its entire security apparatus to the central government. The KDP and PUK each control about 100,000 peshmerga. Iraq’s army currently numbers just under 260,000 soldiers. If the PUK and KDP can work out their internal differences to create an umbrella group, the Kurds will be able to better resist their Arab rivals in Baghdad, not to mention the Kurds’ array of external rivals in Turkey, Iran and Syria.

While the idea for a unified Kurdish army came from the KDP, the PUK will control the Ministry of Peshmerga — an indication that the plan enjoys at least some high-level support from both parties. However, implementing the plan will be difficult. The KDP and the PUK each control their own police, security and intelligence peshmerga, and it is uncertain how effectively the Ministry of Peshmerga can streamline its operations and overcome substantial issues of distrust. Also, the KRG, which is running a budget deficit of more than $500,000,000 according to some reports, will be hard-pressed to find funding for this plan: The estimated cost of funding a Kurdish army is more than $100 million a month. The KRG’s prime minister and Iraq’s finance minister met Dec. 8 to discuss a host of financial issues, but given the tensions between the KRG and the Iraqi central government, Baghdad is not likely to be willing to bail out the KRG.

The KRG’s proposal that would legalize the plan for a unified army notably specifies that this force will “defend Kurdistan and protect the security of Kurdistan-Iraq, its soil, and the Kurdish people and law.” In previous bills, the KRG has referred to its jurisdiction as “Iraqi Kurdistan.” The shift to “Kurdistan-Iraq” signifies that the Kurds’ ambitions have become more nationalistic. This type of rhetoric is bound to worry Baghdad as well as Turkey, Iran and Syria, all of whom have significant Kurdish populations.

With ethno-sectarian tensions reaching a fever pitch, Iraq’s rival factions can be expected to rely more heavily on their traditional insurance policy: private militias. As the Shiite-dominated government continues to block the integration of its rivals into the security apparatus, the Kurds are unifying their peshmerga while many of Iraq’s Sunnis continue to use the threat of an insurgency as leverage in getting their demands met. Should Iraq witness a resurgence of private militias amidst rising ethno-sectarian tensions, the U.S. exit strategy for Iraq could face serious complications.
23960  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: December 10, 2009, 10:22:37 AM
Any comments on Kimbo in TUF this past season?
23961  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: December 10, 2009, 10:00:18 AM
Grateful to have seen yesterday a very good friend for the first time in a long time.
23962  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "The Bolo Game" on: December 10, 2009, 09:59:15 AM
Looking forward to my next trip there Pau. smiley
23963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Other solutions , , , on: December 10, 2009, 09:57:42 AM
Some correspondence amongst friends:
========================

One very easy solution to this type of problem is to change the tax laws. Take away the huge incentive for everyone to get their insurance from their employer, and people would end up getting their own policies from day one. They could keep these policies forever, as long as they paid for them. Nobody would lose his coverage because he or she lost his job. You could even buy insurance against losing your job, so that your insurance premium would still be paid. There is absolutely no reason I can see for the US government to reorganize the entire healthcare system in order to address the problems that a relatively small number of people like this have.

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

Yes, yes, yes.


And given this kind of freedom, people would tend to actually buy "insurance" -- protection against catastrophic medical bills -- instead of prepaid medical plans. With people actually paying for their own routine health care, they would take an interest in the cost of diagnostic medicine and many of today's abuses would disappear.
===========================

Your similar suggestions -- to focus on the insurance portion of an extended equation -- is a good first step... but only that, a first step.


Look there is so much (what's the word I want here: collusion? No, too emotional. Games-playing? How about...) linkage between vendors: insurance companies, doctors, government, and employers. Whether the issue is capitation counts (gee, tell me again why the doctor fails to respect MY time), balance billing, negotiated prices, the bottom line (pun intended) falls to that constituency left out of the loop: patients (consumers).


Some additional steps to your first step:
1) Abolish the AMA. Its primary purpose (though it will claim otherwise) is to limit the number of doctors and thus drive up, or provide a floor, on doctors' pricing. Let the winds of competition flow through that guild.
2) Reform the tort laws. However, make transparent (public) claims against the doctor for malpractice, whether arbitrated, mediated, or heard in a court.
3) Doctors MUST provide transparent pricing. Place prominently a placard that betrays prices for many common procedures. (No different from pricing at auto repair shops -- even though that is a sham.)
4) End the cozy relationship between the ethical and proprietary drug manufacturers and doctors. Really, how many scandals can one profession endure before consumers cry, "Enough!" (Well, apart from the Catholic church. smiley


Some flesh on my bullet points:
Patient A requires a procedure. Dr charges $1,000. Patient A has insurance so he or she pays a co-pay, insurance company pays its portion of a negotiated amount between, simplistically, Dr A and the insurance company. Balance is either billed to patient or 'eaten' by Dr A.  We all are savvy to the fact that in any 'negotiation' you inflate your price to settle on a lower, perhaps more realistic charge, and everyone leaves the table happy: doctor, insurance company, and consumer... Right? Now consider Patient B, who requires the same procedure, but because he lacks insurance he must pay 100% of the Dr's inflated $1,000 fee. Hmmm. I understand that volume offers discounted pricing, but the assessed cost is not a true cost; instead it is a sham between doctor and insurance company as opening offer in a negotiation. Even so, this result on its face sure argues for single payer as one option among many.


A patient requires a procedure. His Dr says the cost will be $1,800, but his insurance company will cover only 100% of the first $1,000. Patient is thus on the hook for a balance of $800. With competition comes greater transparency; in such a universe, patients could open his procedure to bids, best price wins. Of course, the doctors (AMA) will warn that quality trumps price... but those same doctors will not, and do not, provide quality ratings in their performance. Why not? Patients (consumers) should trust doctors are well-trained and professional. But, then, why so many malpractice claims...?


I am no fan of the medical-industrial complex (to paraphrase Eisenhower); I make no secret of my feelings in this regard. Whether the issue be the drug manufacturers that hide study results (Vytorin or Zetia, anyone?), doctors who offer zero transparency re their practice and pricing, employers who tweak their company plan to make it affordable (seemingly affordable; most employees -- consumers! -- look only at price and not the lessened coverages, etc, that result from the tweaks and/or the or insurance companies that deny coverage for this or that reason (examples on request), seemingly arbitrarily that smacks of capriciousness.


The oddity for me is that I invest heavily in this sector, especially medical technology, despite my disgust. One of my most profitable positions was/is Intuitive Surgical/ISRG. I ask myself, though, whether in the world I hope for -- complete transparency for and by all constituencies-- such a company would even exist. Oh well, that is not a problem I will ever have to worry about.

23964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hockey sticks everywhere on: December 10, 2009, 09:51:36 AM
Hockey stick?  No, hockey sticks!

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/09/hockey-stick-observed-in-noaa-ice-core-data/#more-13939
23965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: December 10, 2009, 09:10:40 AM
"Finding Out The Hard Way (tm) is usually too expensive."

What's up with the (tm) on a common phrase?
23966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison; Federalist 14 on: December 10, 2009, 09:09:10 AM
"Is it not the glory of the people of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness." --James Madison, Federalist No. 14
23967  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "The Bolo Game" on: December 09, 2009, 10:39:12 PM
Hat tip to Night Owl for his astute good eye with the boxing footage.

"Roger Tinkoff suggests "Female-American Slap" as the modern American euphemism."

Please tell him that is the most wickedly funny thing I have heard in a long, long time. cheesy cool
23968  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: December 09, 2009, 02:39:34 PM
"Hi Marc. I was curious as to what demographic you are looking for to attend this camp. Will this be a more beginner-intermediate class for those with some to moderate martial arts experience or is it geared more for those with substantial experience? Thanks for any information."

"If past experience is any guide, we will be a varied group.  There will be some young studs, there will be some middle-aged farts looking for some crafty outside of the box stuff to use on the young studs back at home, and there will be some martial arts types looking for "portals into the magical dimension where martial arts and crafts actually work" (c DBI)"
23969  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB in the media on: December 09, 2009, 11:30:15 AM
I am told this is an article of us in a Japanese magazine, but I can't see diddly:

http://www.fnlweb.com/blog/2009/10/fightlife1023.php

Help?
23970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More Taliban attacks on ISI on: December 09, 2009, 10:31:57 AM
Stratfor

Summary

Pakistan’s premier intelligence service was once again a Taliban target, this time in an attack Dec. 8 in the city of Multan in southern Punjab province. This latest attack comes on the heels of several others in Pakistan’s heartland, highlighting an intensification of the jihadist insurgency in the Punjab core. Unless the state is able to achieve a major breakthrough in its counterinsurgency, such attacks could spread even further south to the urban areas of Sindh province.

Analysis
Yet another multi-man assault team of the Taliban rebel group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) struck a facility of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate Dec. 8, killing 12 people and wounding 47 others in the city of Multan, in the southern part of Punjab province. In keeping with TTP’s hybrid tactic of combining suicide bombings with small arms fire, as many as four militants reached a security post and fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the ISI facility, then got close enough to detonate a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, which badly damaged the building.

This is the third attack against an ISI facility in the last six months — all intended to show the vulnerability of the country’s most powerful security agency, which is expected to be the front line of defense against internal and external enemies of the state. On Nov. 12, a suicide bomber in a vehicle blew himself up near ISI’s provincial headquarters in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Peshawar, destroying a large part of the building. The most brazen attack against the ISI occurred on May 27, when the Taliban struck the directorate’s much larger Punjab provincial headquarters in Lahore, killing a number of ISI officials.

The Dec. 8 attack is the first Taliban assault in Multan, which is the farthest south that the insurgents have been able to strike to date. Thus far, Taliban attacks have been limited to the northern half of Punjab. By attacking Multan, the Taliban are demonstrating their expanding geographical reach and their ability to intensify their strikes in Punjab — the core of Pakistan. The Multan attack also follows several attacks in the last week in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore — the three most strategic cities in Punjab province — and in the NWFP capital of Peshawar. On Oct. 17, when the army launched its ground offensive in the TTP heartland and Mehsud tribal areas of South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the expectation was that the ability of the TTP to strike in urban areas in Punjab would be reduced. This has not been the case.

Instead the number of attacks has actually increased. Since the beginning of the ground offensive, which has allowed Pakistani troops to take control of significant chunks of TTP territory and cut off remaining militant areas from the outside world, there have been two waves of Taliban attacks separated by a lull in early November.
A key reason for the TTP’s ability to continue to project power into Punjab and increase the number of attacks is the group’s command and control structure, which relocated northward in the tribal belt long before the army began its offensive. While the Mehsud tribal area in South Waziristan was the group’s home base, the TTP and its Pakistani and transnational allies maintain infrastructure throughout FATA and the Pashtun areas of NWFP (and to a lesser degree in Punjab). Being able to push southward has been facilitated by a pre-existing social support network in southern Punjab that until now had remained dormant. The FATA-based TTP’s Punjabi allies had been facilitating the reach of the Pashtun jihadists into the northern part of the province.

Hitting Multan also has symbolic value. Both the country’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, and its foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, are from the area. Multan is also the headquarters of the army’s II Corps, one of six in the province, and the southern-most major town before the province of Sindh, which thus far has not seen attacks by Taliban rebels, though there is ample evidence of their presence there.

By being able to hit a sensitive facility in Multan, the Taliban want to not only show that all of Punjab is within their reach but that they could expand into Sindh as well. A key concern has been the threat of attacks in Karachi, which is Pakistan’s largest urban center and hub of economic and financial activity, its major port city, and the country’s primary access point for the outside world. An attack there could have huge repercussions for the country’s economy.

Further complicating this scenario are ethnic tensions between the city’s Muhajir and Pashtun communities that the jihadists would like to exploit in their efforts to expand unrest to Karachi, which could facilitate their efforts to overwhelm an already weak state. The city’s ruling Mutahiddah Qaumi Movement is already extremely nervous about Taliban accessibility to the city via the several million Pashtuns that reside in Karachi. At a time when the state is dealing with a growing list of security, economic and political problems, violence in Karachi — whether jihadist or ethnic — is the last thing the state wants to see.

Still, the war maintains a kind of painful balance. While the jihadists are indeed trying to overwhelm the state, they know they are nowhere close to being in a position to overthrow the government. And it is also true that the state has not been able to make a decisive dent in jihadists’ war-making capabilities. The bar is much higher for the state, which has to impose its writ all across the country, thereby denying the militants space to operate. In sharp contrast, all the jihadists have to do is pull off attacks periodically in a variety of areas to show that the state’s writ is weakening. By widening the scope of their operations, the Taliban are trying to get the state to expand its counter-insurgency so as to stretch its resources and widen the battlefield. But by expanding its target set, the TTP has increased its attacks on soft targets, which will alienate the population.

The TTP and its allies are thus in a race against time. They want to be able to exploit political and ethnic differences, an incoherent counterinsurgency strategy and deep financial problems to create sufficient anarchy before the state can gain an advantage in the war against jihadism. Meanwhile, as they strategically allocate their limited resources, the jihadists will continue their periodic attacks across the country, hitting targets hard and soft.
23971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Partners on: December 09, 2009, 09:06:19 AM
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=514693
23972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Millions drink contaminated water on: December 09, 2009, 06:56:24 AM
second post

Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show

CHARLES DUHIGG
Published: December 7, 2009
More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.


The water system in Ramsey, N.J., has illegal concentrations of arsenic and the solvent tetrachloroethylene, both linked to cancer.

Related
Times Topics: Water Pollution
Series: Toxic Waters »
 Takeaway With Charles Duhigg
That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards.

Studies indicate that drinking water contaminants are linked to millions of instances of illness within the United States each year.

In some instances, drinking water violations were one-time events, and probably posed little risk. But for hundreds of other systems, illegal contamination persisted for years, records show.

On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee will question a high-ranking E.P.A. official about the agency’s enforcement of drinking-water safety laws. The E.P.A. is expected to announce a new policy for how it polices the nation’s 54,700 water systems.

“This administration has made it clear that clean water is a top priority,” said an E.P.A. spokeswoman, Adora Andy, in response to questions regarding the agency’s drinking water enforcement. The E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, this year announced a wide-ranging overhaul of enforcement of the Clean Water Act, which regulates pollution into waterways.

“The previous eight years provide a perfect example of what happens when political leadership fails to act to protect our health and the environment,” Ms. Andy added.

Water pollution has become a growing concern for some lawmakers as government oversight of polluters has waned. Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, in 2007 asked the E.P.A. for data on Americans’ exposure to some contaminants in drinking water.

The New York Times has compiled and analyzed millions of records from water systems and regulators around the nation, as part of a series of articles about worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

An analysis of E.P.A. data shows that Safe Drinking Water Act violations have occurred in parts of every state. In the prosperous town of Ramsey, N.J., for instance, drinking water tests since 2004 have detected illegal concentrations of arsenic, a carcinogen, and the dry cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, which has also been linked to cancer.

In New York state, 205 water systems have broken the law by delivering tap water that contained illegal amounts of bacteria since 2004.

However, almost none of those systems were ever punished. Ramsey was not fined for its water violations, for example, though a Ramsey official said that filtration systems have been installed since then. In New York, only three water systems were penalized for bacteria violations, according to federal data.

The problem, say current and former government officials, is that enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act has not been a federal priority.

“There is significant reluctance within the E.P.A. and Justice Department to bring actions against municipalities, because there’s a view that they are often cash-strapped, and fines would ultimately be paid by local taxpayers,” said David Uhlmann, who headed the environmental crimes division at the Justice Department until 2007.

“But some systems won’t come into compliance unless they are forced to,” added Mr. Uhlmann, who now teaches at the University of Michigan law school. “And sometimes a court order is the only way to get local governments to spend what is needed.”

A half-dozen current and former E.P.A. officials said in interviews that they tried to prod the agency to enforce the drinking-water law, but found little support.

“I proposed drinking water cases, but they got shut down so fast that I’ve pretty much stopped even looking at the violations,” said one longtime E.P.A. enforcement official who, like others, requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. “The top people want big headlines and million-dollar settlements. That’s not drinking-water cases.”

The majority of drinking water violations since 2004 have occurred at water systems serving fewer than 20,000 residents, where resources and managerial expertise are often in short supply.

It is unclear precisely how many American illnesses are linked to contaminated drinking water. Many of the most dangerous contaminants regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act have been tied to diseases like cancer that can take years to develop.



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



Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show



Published: December 7, 2009
(Page 2 of 2)



But scientific research indicates that as many as 19 million Americans may become ill each year due to just the parasites, viruses and bacteria in drinking water. Certain types of cancer — such as breast and prostate cancer — have risen over the past 30 years, and research indicates they are likely tied to pollutants like those found in drinking water.

Skip to next paragraph
Related
Times Topics: Water Pollution
Series: Toxic Waters »
 Takeaway With Charles Duhigg
A blog about energy, the environment and the bottom line.

The violations counted by the Times analysis include only situations where residents were exposed to dangerous contaminants, and exclude violations that involved paperwork or other minor problems.
In response to inquiries submitted by Senator Boxer, the E.P.A. has reported that more than three million Americans have been exposed since 2005 to drinking water with illegal concentrations of arsenic and radioactive elements, both of which have been linked to cancer at small doses.

In some areas, the amount of radium detected in drinking water was 2,000 percent higher than the legal limit, according to E.P.A. data.

But federal regulators fined or punished fewer than 8 percent of water systems that violated the arsenic and radioactive standards. The E.P.A., in a statement, said that in a majority of situations, state regulators used informal methods — like providing technical assistance — to help systems that had violated the rules.

But many systems remained out of compliance, even after aid was offered, according to E.P.A. data. And for over a quarter of systems that violated the arsenic or radioactivity standards, there is no record that they were ever contacted by a regulator, even after they sent in paperwork revealing their violations.

Those figures are particularly worrisome, say researchers, because the Safe Drinking Water Act’s limits on arsenic are so weak to begin with. A system could deliver tap water that puts residents at a 1-in-600 risk of developing bladder cancer from arsenic, and still comply with the law.

Despite the expected announcement of reforms, some mid-level E.P.A. regulators say they are skeptical that any change will occur.

“The same people who told us to ignore Safe Drinking Water Act violations are still running the divisions,” said one mid-level E.P.A. official. “There’s no accountability, and so nothing’s going to change.”
23973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NYT: Millions drink contaminated water on: December 09, 2009, 06:54:45 AM
Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show

CHARLES DUHIGG
Published: December 7, 2009
More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.


The water system in Ramsey, N.J., has illegal concentrations of arsenic and the solvent tetrachloroethylene, both linked to cancer.

That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards.

Studies indicate that drinking water contaminants are linked to millions of instances of illness within the United States each year.

In some instances, drinking water violations were one-time events, and probably posed little risk. But for hundreds of other systems, illegal contamination persisted for years, records show.

On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee will question a high-ranking E.P.A. official about the agency’s enforcement of drinking-water safety laws. The E.P.A. is expected to announce a new policy for how it polices the nation’s 54,700 water systems.

“This administration has made it clear that clean water is a top priority,” said an E.P.A. spokeswoman, Adora Andy, in response to questions regarding the agency’s drinking water enforcement. The E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, this year announced a wide-ranging overhaul of enforcement of the Clean Water Act, which regulates pollution into waterways.

“The previous eight years provide a perfect example of what happens when political leadership fails to act to protect our health and the environment,” Ms. Andy added.

Water pollution has become a growing concern for some lawmakers as government oversight of polluters has waned. Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, in 2007 asked the E.P.A. for data on Americans’ exposure to some contaminants in drinking water.

The New York Times has compiled and analyzed millions of records from water systems and regulators around the nation, as part of a series of articles about worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

An analysis of E.P.A. data shows that Safe Drinking Water Act violations have occurred in parts of every state. In the prosperous town of Ramsey, N.J., for instance, drinking water tests since 2004 have detected illegal concentrations of arsenic, a carcinogen, and the dry cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, which has also been linked to cancer.

In New York state, 205 water systems have broken the law by delivering tap water that contained illegal amounts of bacteria since 2004.

However, almost none of those systems were ever punished. Ramsey was not fined for its water violations, for example, though a Ramsey official said that filtration systems have been installed since then. In New York, only three water systems were penalized for bacteria violations, according to federal data.

The problem, say current and former government officials, is that enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act has not been a federal priority.

“There is significant reluctance within the E.P.A. and Justice Department to bring actions against municipalities, because there’s a view that they are often cash-strapped, and fines would ultimately be paid by local taxpayers,” said David Uhlmann, who headed the environmental crimes division at the Justice Department until 2007.

“But some systems won’t come into compliance unless they are forced to,” added Mr. Uhlmann, who now teaches at the University of Michigan law school. “And sometimes a court order is the only way to get local governments to spend what is needed.”

A half-dozen current and former E.P.A. officials said in interviews that they tried to prod the agency to enforce the drinking-water law, but found little support.

“I proposed drinking water cases, but they got shut down so fast that I’ve pretty much stopped even looking at the violations,” said one longtime E.P.A. enforcement official who, like others, requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. “The top people want big headlines and million-dollar settlements. That’s not drinking-water cases.”

The majority of drinking water violations since 2004 have occurred at water systems serving fewer than 20,000 residents, where resources and managerial expertise are often in short supply.

It is unclear precisely how many American illnesses are linked to contaminated drinking water. Many of the most dangerous contaminants regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act have been tied to diseases like cancer that can take years to develop.



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



Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water, Records Show



Published: December 7, 2009
(Page 2 of 2)



But scientific research indicates that as many as 19 million Americans may become ill each year due to just the parasites, viruses and bacteria in drinking water. Certain types of cancer — such as breast and prostate cancer — have risen over the past 30 years, and research indicates they are likely tied to pollutants like those found in drinking water.

Skip to next paragraph
Related
Times Topics: Water Pollution
Series: Toxic Waters »
 Takeaway With Charles Duhigg
A blog about energy, the environment and the bottom line.

The violations counted by the Times analysis include only situations where residents were exposed to dangerous contaminants, and exclude violations that involved paperwork or other minor problems.
In response to inquiries submitted by Senator Boxer, the E.P.A. has reported that more than three million Americans have been exposed since 2005 to drinking water with illegal concentrations of arsenic and radioactive elements, both of which have been linked to cancer at small doses.

In some areas, the amount of radium detected in drinking water was 2,000 percent higher than the legal limit, according to E.P.A. data.

But federal regulators fined or punished fewer than 8 percent of water systems that violated the arsenic and radioactive standards. The E.P.A., in a statement, said that in a majority of situations, state regulators used informal methods — like providing technical assistance — to help systems that had violated the rules.

But many systems remained out of compliance, even after aid was offered, according to E.P.A. data. And for over a quarter of systems that violated the arsenic or radioactivity standards, there is no record that they were ever contacted by a regulator, even after they sent in paperwork revealing their violations.

Those figures are particularly worrisome, say researchers, because the Safe Drinking Water Act’s limits on arsenic are so weak to begin with. A system could deliver tap water that puts residents at a 1-in-600 risk of developing bladder cancer from arsenic, and still comply with the law.

Despite the expected announcement of reforms, some mid-level E.P.A. regulators say they are skeptical that any change will occur.

“The same people who told us to ignore Safe Drinking Water Act violations are still running the divisions,” said one mid-level E.P.A. official. “There’s no accountability, and so nothing’s going to change.”
23974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel ups the threat on: December 09, 2009, 06:36:29 AM
Israel Upping the Iranian Nuclear Threat
ISRAELI BRIG. GEN. YOSSI BAIDATZ, the head of Israel’s Military Intelligence research division, told a closed session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Iran had the technical capability to build a nuclear bomb and that it would only take a political decision in Tehran to follow through with these plans. He specified that Iran had successfully enriched 1800 kg of uranium, which he claimed was enough to build more than one nuclear bomb, and that Iran had spent the past year upgrading its military arsenal with missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons that could reach Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke at the same Knesset meeting, where he said that Iran had lost its legitimacy in the international community and that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities was Israel’s central problem.

Though Iran relies heavily on denial and deception tactics to conceal the true status of its nuclear weapons program, Baidatz is likely stretching the truth a bit in describing Iran’s nuclear capabilities. There is an enormous difference between being able to enrich uranium to levels between 5 and 20 percent (what Iran is believed to be currently capable of) and enriching uranium to 80 or 90 percent, which would be considered weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU). Should Iran develop the capability to produce weapons-grade HEU, it would only need a fraction of Baidatz’s claimed 1800 kg of properly enriched uranium to have sufficient raw material for a bomb. In that case, Baidatz’s claim of a political decision being the only thing keeping Iran from the bomb would carry more weight.

These statements are much more an indication of Israeli intentions in dealing with Iran than an accurate reflection of Iranian nuclear capabilities. That the statements of this closed Knesset session were leaked in the first place is particularly revealing of the message that Israel wishes to send Iran and the international community at this point in time. That message, to put it bluntly, is “time’s up.”

“Baidatz is likely stretching the truth a bit in describing Iran’s nuclear capabilities.”
Israel has kept quiet as the United States has made attempt after attempt to extend the proverbial diplomatic hand to the Iranians without success. From Israel’s point of view, the diplomatic chapter is closing this month, and the New Year, if Israel has anything to do with it, will bring a variety of unpleasantries to Iran’s doorstep, including the threat of military action.

But Israel is also operating on a different timeline than that of the United States. Whereas U.S. President Barack Obama would much rather avoid a military conflagration in the Persian Gulf while he attempts to sew up Iraq, make over the Afghanistan war and nurse the U.S. economy back to health, Israel is dealing with a matter of state survival. And that, from the Israeli point of view, takes precedence over its relationship with the United States. This statement from Baidatz is thus likely one of many signals Israel will be sending in the coming weeks to accentuate the Iranian nuclear threat.

Iran, however, still may have a few more tools up its sleeve to take some of the steam out of Israel’s pressure campaign. Obama hosted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House Monday. Just before traveling to Washington, Erdogan hosted Saeed Jalili, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary. That meeting followed a recent visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu to Tehran, where he delivered a proposal to store Iranian enriched uranium on Turkish soil under international safeguards. This was yet another compromise on the enrichment issue intended to ease the tension in Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the West.

It is unlikely that Iran will take Turkey’s proposal seriously, but it can certainly entertain such proposals to buy more time in negotiations and complicate any move toward sanctions or military action. Turkey, meanwhile, has a strategic interest in inserting itself as a key mediator in the Iranian nuclear dispute to not only boost its foreign policy credentials, but also stave off a crisis in its backyard. The Israelis can see through such proposals for what they are — delay tactics — and, most likely, so too can the Americans. But the Americans may not mind giving Turkish mediation a shot if it gives Washington another option to restrain Israeli action and another chance to firm up America’s currently uneasy relations with the region’s rising power: Turkey.

But how many times will Israel allow its tolerance to be tested? As long as Iran appears compromising, even on a surface level, the Russians, the Chinese and even the Europeans can skirt around sanctions talk. And as long as the sanctions haven’t been seriously attempted, Israel cannot easily claim that the sanctions have failed in order to justify military action. This is an uncomfortable space for Israel to be in, but the Iranians, Turks and even the Americans don’t exactly mind seeing Israel in a tight spot right now.
23975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: December 09, 2009, 06:32:05 AM
I'm against the govt distorting, managing, directing, "partnering with" the economy.  Period.  smiley
23976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Giving peace a chance on: December 09, 2009, 06:30:09 AM
Richard T. Antoun, a respected Binghamton University anthropology professor
who grew up in Shrewsbury, spent his entire career seeking peace. His work
focused on bridging the divide between religions and cultures, particularly
in the Middle East.
 
But the 77-year-old professor's life ended violently Friday when he was
stabbed multiple times in his campus office, allegedly by a graduate student
 whom he was advising on his doctoral thesis.
 
 The student, Abdulsalam S. al-Zahrani, 46, was from Saudi Arabia. Mr. Antoun
 was serving on the dissertation committee for Mr. Zahrani's graduate thesis
 and apparently had known him for quite some time, according to news reports.
 The university's Web site says Mr. Zahrani's doctoral thesis is called
 "Sacred Voice, Profane Sight: The Senses, Cosmology, and Epistemology in
 Early Arabic Culture."
 
 Mr. Zahrani was immediately arrested and charged with second-degree murder
 and is being held without bail. The motive for the attack is unclear.
 
 Linda Miller of Holden, Mr. Antoun's youngest sister, said she has many
 positive memories of her brother, a man who strove for peace in all things.
 
 "He was interested in bringing forth understanding between different
 cultures and religions," she said. "He tried to explain and help people
 understand current events, particularly in the Middle East."
 
 Mr. Antoun was "a sociocultural anthropologist who has conducted research
 among peasants in Jordan, urbanites in Lebanon, peasant-farmers in Iran, and
 migrants in Texas and Greece," according to the Web site for Binghamton
 University, which is part of the State University of New York system. He
 taught at the University of Chicago, Manchester University in England and
 Cairo University, according to his résumé, which is also posted on the site.
 
 Mr. Antoun had written six books focusing on the Middle East, and spent much
 of his long career educating people about the region and its people. His
 2001 book, "Understanding Fundamentalism: Christian, Muslim and Jewish
 Movements," was particularly timely, coming out just before the terrorist
 attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He retired from teaching at Binghamton University
 in 1999, but remained active on campus and within the anthropology
 department.
 
 Mrs. Miller said she last saw her brother in November, when he and his son
 Nicholas stayed at the Holden home she shares with her husband, David. Mr.
 Antoun and his son had dinner, and the next day attended a New England
 Patriots game. It was a ritual they performed every year.
 
 She last spoke to her brother on Thanksgiving.
 
 "There is going to be a big hole," she said of his death. "I am bent on
 keeping his memory alive."
 
 Mr. Antoun returned to his hometown regularly to visit family and speak
 about events in the Middle East.
 
 Speaking in 2001 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester, where
 David Miller is minister emeritus, Mr. Antoun said that religious
 fundamentalism thrives when a government fails to provide for its people.
 
 "One reason fundamentalists are winning out is they are providing services
 the government is not," he said. The only way Afghans obtained an education,
 he said, was to go to a Taliban school, where they would not only receive an
 Islamic education but were fed as well.
 
 Mrs. Miller said her brother was scheduled to give a lecture at Assumption
 College in the spring, part of a course being offered by Worcester Institute
 for Senior Education. The course is called "Islam: Religion, History and
 Culture, an Overview." Mr. Antoun was scheduled to speak about the role of
 women in Islam, and then would be chairman of a panel discussion following
 the course.
 
 Born in Worcester, Mr. Antoun grew up in Shrewsbury, graduating from
 Shrewsbury High School in 1949. He attended Williams College, and earned a
 doctorate from Harvard University in 1963.
 
 Mrs. Miller said her older brother had an unquenchable passion for baseball,
 following the Boston Braves until they left for Milwaukee, and then the
 Boston Red Sox. She remembers quizzing him for hours on the statistics
 printed on the backs of his numerous baseball cards - information that never
 left her and has helped her to solve countless crossword puzzles.
 
 "He was an incredibly loving older brother, he nurtured me in that sense,"
 she said. When she was in high school, he would pull her essays apart to
 improve them. When she spent a semester abroad at 19, she went to Manchester
 University in England in part because her older brother was teaching there.
 
 "It's been a lifelong, supportive, happy relationship," she said.
 
 He leaves behind his wife of 17 years, Rosalyn, as well as two of her sons,
 his 40-year-old son, Nicholas, and their shared grandchildren.
 
 A memorial service for Mr. Antoun will be held on Friday at the Unitarian
 Universalist Church sanctuary in Binghamton, N.Y.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Just google "Zahrani Emails" to get a picture of the motive.  Another sudden jihadi.
23977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sundry on: December 09, 2009, 06:07:31 AM
"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred
as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice
to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence." --John Adams


"Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it." --James Madison, Federalist No. 41

"We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as with individuals our interests soundly calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties, and history bears witness to the fact that a just nation is trusted on its word when recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle others." --Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 1805

"Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence." --Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
23978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Lets do what Europe does (right!) on: December 09, 2009, 06:04:05 AM
Kill Jobs, Get Rich--What's Not to Like?
The EU Referendum blog has a fascinating story on how Cap'n Trade--or, as it's called in Europe, the "emission trading scheme"--works. It seems that the Corus Group, a London-based steel maker that is a subsidiary of India's Tata Group, is shutting down one of its plants--a plant the company bought just two years ago "as part of its strategy to give it better access to European (including UK markets) [sic]."

Closing the plant, the site explains, will give the company an ETS jackpot:

With redundancy and decommissions costs, very little of that can actually come from the process of closing down the Redcar plant. But, with a capacity of 3,000,000 tons of steel, closure of the plant will deliver further "savings" over 6 million tons of carbon dioxide, worth an additional £80 million per annum at current rates but around £200 million at expected market levels.
This, even for a company the size of Tara steel, is a considerable windfall, over and above the money it will already make from the EU scheme. But, with a little manipulation, the company can still double its money. By "offshoring" production to India and bringing emissions down – from over twice the EU level--to the level currently produced by the Redcar plant, it stands to make another £200 million per annum from the UN's Clean Development Mechanism.
Thus we see Indian plants being paid up to £30 a ton for each ton of carbon dixoide "saved" by building new plant, while the company which owns them also gets gets paid £30 for each ton of carbon dioxide not produced in its Redcar plant. That gives it an estimated £400 million a year from the closure of the Redcar plant up to 2012--potentially up to £1.2 billion. And that is over and above benefitting from cheaper production costs on the sub-continent.
So the company gets a windfall for moving jobs from Britain to India, and the new plant will produce no less carbon than before. Brilliant, isn't it? We can't wait till America has such a policy.
23979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tina Brown on: December 09, 2009, 05:50:41 AM
Tina Brown at The Daily Beast, Dec. 3:


It's a strange paradox for a great wordsmith, but whenever Obama makes an important policy speech these days he leaves everyone totally confused. His first health-care press conference back in July triggered a season of raucous political Rorschach and left his hopeful followers utterly baffled about what they were being asked to support.

Now White House envoys are being dispatched all over the globe to explain what the president really meant about the date when troops will or won't be pulled out of Afghanistan. . . .

Does Obama create confusion on purpose? Is this his "process" based on his confession that he's a screen onto which people project things? Is it a strategy so that whatever bill trickles out of Congress or however many soldiers linger in Afghanistan, he can claim that the outcome is what he meant it all along? . . .

Or is it that there is so much subtext to every part of this message that the simple heads of the electorate are just not pointy enough to comprehend it?

I have come to the conclusion that the real reason this gifted communicator has become so bad at communicating is that he doesn't really believe a word that he is saying. He couldn't convey that health-care reform would be somehow cost-free because he knows it won't be. And he can't adequately convey either the imperatives or the military strategy of the war in Afghanistan because he doesn't really believe in it either.
23980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Major Hasan and the Koran on: December 09, 2009, 05:47:16 AM
By SALAM AL-MARAYATI
Maj. Nidal Hasan's lawyer is considering an insanity plea as a strategy for his client. That might be the only legal option available to the man accused of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood. But Nidal Hasan should also consider a religious option: repentance.

He should take responsibility for his horrific act of violence. He should beg for forgiveness from God for murdering 13 people and injuring 31 more. He should apologize to the families of the victims. He should ask for forgiveness from his fellow members of the military, and from the American people, as he betrayed our entire nation—including Muslim-Americans who are paying the price for his shameful and un-Islamic actions.

Maj. Hasan is granted the presumption of innocence in our courts of law, be they civilian or military. His military-appointed lawyer will likely advise him not to confess to anything. Legally, that may be sound advice. But religiously that advice cuts against the grain of the divine value of justice. Maj. Hasan must take responsibility for committing two major sins in Islam—the murder of his fellow citizens and the violation of two oaths he took.

Maj. Hasan took an oath as a member of the U.S. military to defend our country. He also took a Hippocratic oath to protect his patients. The violation of these oaths is a violation of the Quranic principle which states that making a pledge to anyone is tantamount to making a pledge to God. The Quran states: "(Be not like those) who use their oaths as a means of deceiving one another" (16:92).

His now infamous PowerPoint presentation is rife with distortions of the Quran. Entitled "The Koranic Worldview As It Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military," it provides anything but a Quranic perspective. Maj. Hasan's critical fault in understanding the Quran was his failure to distinguish between two very important categories of verses: those tied to the specific context of seventh-century Arabia, and those that are absolute and permanent.

He ignores the Quranic mandates, for example, to stand for justice even if it is against your own interest, and to avoid transgression in the pursuit of justice. Yet the most troubling part of his presentation are his conclusions. One of them is: "Muslims are moderate (compromising) but God is not." There are two critical flaws in this one sentence.

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.First, to make any kind of declaration about God being unforgiving violates Islam's central teachings of mercy and compassion. The Quran makes it clear that human beings are meant to embody God's generous spirit. To argue otherwise is to violate God's will and Islam's goal of peacemaking.

Second, being moderate is about upholding religious values while working with other members of society for the greater good. Extremists believe they are compromising their Islamic values when living in the West. This is not true. And Muslim-haters oblige them with the converse, when they argue that the West should not tolerate Muslims. This is not just.

Maj. Hasan's hodgepodge of verses from the Quran and quotes from extremists left out the most important Quranic verse in his section on enjoining peace and forgiveness: "God invites you into the abode of peace" (10:25). Nor did he include the admonition by the Prophet Muhammad never to harm the innocent and never to target noncombatants.

Nidal Hasan doesn't just need legal support; he needs religious consultation that could help him see the enormity of his situation when he faces his Creator. Unfortunately, he may become an icon for violent extremism, leading other young people and civilians to their deaths.

So what should the U.S. government do? Consider allowing Muslim-American religious leaders to meet with Nidal Hasan. Muslim leaders could encourage him to repent. And they could engage Maj. Hasan on his deeply flawed understanding of Islam, explaining that the Quran is an instrument to take people from darkness to light, not the opposite.

Nidal Hasan is reportedly reading letters. I hope he reads this article, for his sake and for the sake of our country.

Mr. Al-Marayati is executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
23981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: the Rabbit Ears Wars on: December 09, 2009, 05:43:02 AM
You stupidly built a drive-in theater in the desert just as your customers were all deciding to stay home and watch HBO. Fortunately, the theater turns out to be sitting on a mountain of oil.

With a few asterisks, such is the situation of old-style TV broadcasters, whose viewers have fled to cable or satellite but whose spectrum is lusted after by the wireless industry. According to a much-noted study sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association, in the hands of the broadcasters, that spectrum is worth a mere $12 billion. In the hands of mobile phone carriers struggling to meet explosive growth for mobile broadband, it would be worth $62 billion.

To the Silicon Valley types who people the Obama administration, this suggests a rational policy: Pay broadcasters to give up some or all of the airwaves used to send signals to their dwindling rabbit-ear audience. Turn it over to mobile phone folks at a hefty markup.

Blair Levin, a veteran telecom analyst who heads the FCC's broadband efforts, has floated a Hindenburg of a trial balloon by broaching just such a deal with broadcasters. Virtually all agree that any such "grand bargain," to be politically deliverable, must enlist the willing, nay eager, participation of broadcast station owners. No problem—broadcasters would be the biggest winners, right?

Sadly, remember what happened to the original Hindenburg. Broadcasters, who have a keen sense of political realities, note that their broadcast licenses don't actually confer a property right, so whatever deal the FCC struck with them, Congress would certainly rewrite it to make sure Congress got all the money. Broadcasters would receive squat, and probably be vilified as bandits in the process.

"Pipe dream" was the verdict of Colleen Brown, chief of Fisher Communications, owner of 20 stations in the Pacific Northwest.

"Politically they would fall flat on their face," opined Sinclair Broadcasting's Mark Aitken, estimating the agency's chances selling a cash-for-spectrum deal to Congress.

But, hold on. We mentioned asterisks. The FCC and Mr. Levin are correct (and brave) in pointing out the need for a market mechanism to guide spectrum to its highest and best uses. But the FCC is in no position to know whether mobile broadband is that higher and better use. A reason is the regulatory straitjacket, including ownership limits, that for decades has prevented license holders themselves from exploring new broadcast business models.

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.For the truth is, broadcast offers impressive economies for distributing rich media content compared to the Internet. An infinity of users can be served by a single bitstream. It doesn't matter how many receivers tune into a TV broadcast. It never gets overloaded.

Consider a small company called Sezmi, now testing in Los Angeles a competitor to cable and satellite TV. Users get a box with a powerful HDTV antenna, allowing them to receive not just traditional over-the-air TV channels but also popular cable networks, broadcast locally using spare capacity leased from TV stations.

A separate broadband connection supplies on-demand movies and even material plucked from YouTube. And to help make the most of limited bandwidth, each also comes with a giant terabyte-sized disk drive capable of storing many hours of programming, automatically downloaded in advance based on a viewer's demonstrated habits and tastes.

All this, of course, would also yield a cornucopia of information with which to deliver the truly individualized advertising that TV ad buyers crave.

Who knows whether Sezmi will pan out technologically, and at the very-much-cheaper-than-cable price the company touts. The FCC quite properly worries about a coming mobile capacity crunch, with all those proliferating iPhones. But throwing spectrum at it won't be the only solution. Greater integration of fixed and wireless will help. Software innovation, cramming more bits into the same frequency, will help. So will usage-based pricing. And as Sezmi shows, local storage can substitute for bandwidth too.

The FCC is looking in the right direction, but we need more than just a "market solution" to liberate spectrum from the current government-approved incumbents. We need a market that can fully explore the potential of all the business models that might contest to find the highest and best use of that resource.

In the meantime, the agency's trial balloon is having a perverse effect, spurring broadcasters to new Potemkin feats to prove they are making full use of their existing spectrum, such as rolling out new digital "subchannels" that nobody watches. Some broadcasters even invoke the 1962 All-Channel Receiver Act and insist a new "golden age of broadcasting" is around the corner—just as soon as the FCC mandates that every smart phone be capable of receiving over-the-air TV signals.

In short, one picture is starting to come in clearly: The spectrum puzzle won't be solved by the clean and simple deal the agency envisioned just a month ago.
23982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stimulus 3 on: December 09, 2009, 05:38:15 AM
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere,
diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies" -- Groucho Marx

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

Stimulus III
Democrats want TARP to become a revolving line of political credit..

If at first fiscal stimulus doesn't succeed, spend, spend again. That's the motto President Obama embraced yesterday, even if he didn't use the word "stimulus," which has managed to set a political record in the speed with which it has become unpopular with voters. This time, the spending is being called "Proposals to Accelerate Job Growth and Lay the Foundation for Robust Economic Growth."

But wasn't that also supposed to be the point of last February's $787 billion stimulus, or for that matter of the Nancy Pelosi-George W. Bush $165 billion stimulus of February 2008?

Nearly two years after that first Keynesian stimulus that was supposed to prevent a recession, and nearly a year after the second that the White House said would keep the jobless rate below 8%, the President now feels obliged to propose a third. Like the joke about Paul Krugman having predicted seven of the last two recessions, sooner or later the White House is bound to get the political timing right.

This time around, the President is at least suggesting a couple of good ideas. One proposal would revive his 2008 campaign promise for a zero capital gains tax on new investments in small business stock. Mr. Obama dropped the idea from his first stimulus because liberals on Capitol Hill hate the words "capital gains," but yesterday he proposed a zero rate for one year.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Eight of the 18 California Conservation Corps workers were hired by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the federal stimulus plan.
.Another decent idea would extend enhanced expensing for small business that was otherwise set to expire at the end of this year. This will allow businesses to immediately expense up to $250,000 of certain investments, which should help with business cash flow.

Both ideas would reduce the cost of capital, and thus would partially counteract the many tax increases coming from the House and Senate that would raise the cost of capital and hiring. These tax reductions also recognize that the only source of real long-term job creation is private business.

Most of the rest of Mr. Obama's proposals are unfortunately a grab-bag of greatest Congressional mis-hits. They include a "new" tax credit for small business hiring that looks suspiciously like Jimmy Carter's jobs tax credit that led to few net new jobs and was abandoned after a year.

There's also a flood of new spending, with the amount presumably to come later from Congress (oh oh!), on highways and other public works. Perhaps you thought these "shovel-ready" projects had been included as part of Stimulus II. Alas, that was merely the sales pitch. In the event, the bulk of that money was shovel-readied to such transfer payments as Medicaid, welfare, community block grants, and cash for the clunkers who run failing public schools. This time, we're told, roads and bridges really will get the money—and you can bet they'll all be built with higher Davis-Bacon wage rates that will balloon their cost, too.

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.How will this all be paid for? Well, there are the huge tax increases to come in 2011, if not earlier, as well as more federal borrowing. This time, however, Mr. Obama is also proposing to use funds repaid by banks to the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. When Congress passed TARP a year ago, the Democrats who ran the joint vowed that the cash was intended to save the financial system and that any returns would promptly go to pay down the debt. As Candidate Obama put it, "every penny" would go "directly back to the American people." That was then.

Now, we're heading into a new election year and Treasury says it expects the bailout to cost $200 billion less than expected, and that it should be able to recover all but $42 billion of the $370 billion it has lent to financial firms. That ought to be cause for rejoicing—and for using the cash to reduce a federal deficit that reached $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009 and after two months is on pace to be even higher in 2010.

Instead, TARP is now morphing into a revolving line of Democratic political credit. Barney Frank wants to divert at least $4 billion to bail out more home owners. Virginia Senator Mark Warner wants $50 billion for loans to small business. Mr. Obama proposed yesterday to use TARP to finance his own ideas as part of Stimulus III, and if he and fellow Democrats succeed the taxpayers will never see this cash again.

The President tried to recast his "every penny" promise yesterday by arguing that recycled TARP cash would create jobs and thus revenue to bring down the deficit. This is also Speaker Nancy Pelosi's new talking point. They're right that a strong economy is the best way to reduce deficits, but their spend and spend again policies only make closing those deficits more difficult.

One note of hope here is that the White House admits that the TARP statute restricts its use to the "stabilization" of the financial system. The law also specifies that repaid money must go to deficit reduction, a fact that allowed Mrs. Pelosi to gather enough votes to pass TARP last year. This means Democrats are going to have to rewrite the law to spend TARP on pork and green jobs, giving Senate Republicans some leverage and Blue Dog Democrats another chance to write the ad scripts for their 2010 opponents.

As the President gladly admitted yesterday, the economy is recovering and even the job market is healing. If Congress won't reduce taxes, the best stimulus now would be for Congress to stop scaring private job creators by promising to help them. Just do nothing at all.
23983  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / part 2 on: December 09, 2009, 05:23:10 AM


Boxing during Public Holidays

During the early 1910s, boxing was sometimes part of the festivities
associated with public holidays such as Fleet Week, New Year's, and the
Fourth of July. For instance, on July 9, 1910, Jim Hoao fought a military
boxer at Aloha Park in Honolulu.


Honolulu in 1910. Photographer: Robert K. Bonine. Courtesy the Library of
Congress, Panoramic Photographs Collection, LC-USZ62-125408.

However, because of opposition from the US District Attorney, Jefferson
McCarn, there was no off-post boxing in Hawaii between July 4, 1913 (Young
Johnson versus Kaina Opo at Wailuku) and December 31, 1918.

The bout that got things started again was part of the New Year's
celebration at the Iolani Palace, and it featured a Chinese
("Happy-Go-Lucky", originally from Macao) against a Filipino (Raphael
Carpenterio, "the Manila Demon"). Although no admission was charged, the
Advertiser still called it "the first real stage affair of its kind held in
Honolulu since 'Old Rose' Jeff McCarn assassinated the sport in Hawaii." On
August 21, 1919, there were also boxing matches between soldiers and sailors
at Moili'ili Park. Non-military participants included Carpenterio, Young
Johnson, Akana, and En You Kau.

YMCA patronage was probably involved in this post-World War renaissance, as
on March 4, 1919, the Central YMCA of Honolulu organized a "stunt night"
that featured boxing, wrestling, sumo, and judo. The boxers included Jimmie
Flynn versus Jimmie White, Price versus Wilkinson; and the Wright brothers
against each other. All the boxers on this card were welterweights except
Wilkinson, who was a middleweight. Similarly, in September 1928, the Oahu
County YMCA organized a camp at which boys boxed. The athletic director at
the Y, Charles Pease, was a former soldier who based his program on World
War-era military training.

Additionally, veterans and fraternal groups sometimes organized smokers as
fund-raisers. For example, on May 13, 1922, the Veterans of Foreign Wars
hosted a bout featuring Dynamite Tommy Short and Kid Oba (Jack Osoi). Short
tried for the knockout, but ended up with a draw. Similarly, on August 29,
1925, the American Legion staged a smoker at the Hilo Armory.




Fight Clubs

During the 1920s, boxing left the vaudeville houses and public parks for
fight clubs.

On Big Island, the Women's Christian Temperance Union was strongly opposed
to boxing. Consequently, efforts to promote boxing in Hilo led to legal
action. To the disgust of the temperance leaguers, the court actions
eventually led to the legalization of boxing in the Territory, but
meanwhile, there was little organized boxing on the Big Island.

However, on Oahu, the Honolulu business community generally supported
organized boxing. For example, fans attending the fight between Battling
Bolo (Elias Cantere) and Alky Dawson at the Honolulu Armory on March 18,
1927 included the territorial governor (Star-Bulletin publisher Wallace
Farrington) and the Honolulu mayor (Charles Arnold). According to the
Advertiser (April 15, 1928), their official stance was that these bouts were
legal as long as admission was not charged at the gate and the fighters
received payment in private.

The Hawaiian fight clubs of the 1920s were usually warehouses with a ring in
one corner. To avoid legal problems, police got in free and boxing fans
bought daily memberships rather than tickets. Prices for daily memberships
ranged from 50¢ in the gallery to $2.00 in stage seating, and these
memberships had to be purchased in advance.

Ethnicity played an important role in these fight clubs. For example, many
Filipinos were inspired to become boxers by the victories of Pancho Villa,
the first Filipino to become a world boxing champion. Meanwhile, K. Oki, a
Honolulu businessman of Japanese descent, was inspired to provide financial
support to Honolulu boxing clubs after seeing Japanese college students
boxing at Tokyo's Hibiya Park during 1926.


A bout between boxers from Chuo University (left) and Hosei University in
Tokyo. Many Japanese collegiate boxers of the mid-1930s were ethnically
Korean. From Arthur Grix, Japans Sport in Bild und Wort (Berlin: Wilhelm
Limpert-Verlag, 1937).

For Filipinos living on Oahu, Honolulu's Rizal Athletic Club was an
important fight club. Rizal held its first smoker on July 8, 1922, and in
the main event, Kid Parco defeated Alky Dawson in six. The preliminaries
were supposed to feature Jackie Wright versus Cabayon, Hayward Wright versus
Pedro Suerta, Tommy Dawson versus Moniz, and Tommy Short versus Kid Oba.
Unfortunately, Kid Oba was a no-show, as he died of lockjaw on June 28,
1922. He was aged 17. Other boxers associated with Rizal Athletic Club
smokers include Patsy Fernandez, Battling Bolo, Young Malicio, Clever Feder,
Pedro Suerta, Moniz Santiago, and Cabayon.

For Portuguese, an important club was the Kewalo Athletic Club, managed by
A.K. Vierra. Portuguese boxing idols included Don "Lefty" Freitas and Jack
Silva.

For Chinese, it was the Chinese American Athletic Association, managed by
Chang Kau. Chang's brother Dick boxed professionally in California, and
later became a well-known Honolulu coach. Other Chinese boxers of the 1920s
included Jackie Young, Young Loo, Ah Bing, Smiling Ching, Lanky Lau, K.H.
Young, and Lefty Long.


Dick Chang posing with California boxer Paul de Hate around 1927. Note
16-ounce training gloves. Courtesy the Paul Lou collection.

In addition, there were fight clubs for Koreans such as Walter Cho, and for
Japanese such as Patsy Fukuda, Henry Kudo, and the brothers Spud and "K.O."
Kuratsu. Cho went on to become a well-known referee, while Fukuda became
coach of Hawaii's 1949 AAU boxing team.


Spud Kuratsu. The inscription reads, "To Paul Aloha, Spud Kuratsu." Courtesy
the Paul Lou collection.



Training Methods and Contests

Regardless of ethnicity, bootleg boxers used similar methods during
training. As a rule, they began hard training about three weeks before a
scheduled match. A typical training day included sparring 6-10 rounds before
work in the morning. In the afternoon, after work, the boxers ran about ten
miles uphill, and then walked back.

The gloves most boxers wore during both sparring and fighting weighed just 6
ounces. In addition, they did not wear headgear, as it had only just been
introduced. Thus, during sparring, boxers generally tried to avoid hurting
one another.

During contests, things could get heated. For example, Nelson Tavares
recalled Jack McFadden forcing him into clinches and then spitting in his
face (Advertiser, April 9, 1949).

As a rule, however, the goal was simply to give the crowd a lot of action.
For example, here is how William Peet (Advertiser, January 6, 1941) recalled
a Kewalo Athletic Club fight of the late 1920s:

The main event was to have been a six rounder between Kohala Lion [Modesto
Cabuag] and Big Bolo or Battling Bolo (Elias Cantere), a Filipino with a
murderous right. The Kohala Lion failed to show up, so J. Donovan Flint,
present chairman of the Territorial Boxing Commission, agreed to box three
fast rounds with Bolo as an exhibition, in order that the cash customers
would feel that they had not been cheated . they were not cheated as things
turned out.
Flint, a good boxer, one-time Pacific Coast collegiate champion [at
Stanford], was to have refereed the main scrap. He put on the gloves with
Bolo. The first round was fast and interesting. In the second round, Mr.
Flint forgot to pull his punches and tapped Bolo a stiff jab on the nose.
Bolo uncorked a right from the ring floor, the blow landed flush on the jaw,
and the lights went out for J. Donovan. He says he was only dazed, but I saw
the fight and helped Brother Flint come back to earth.

23984  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The Arrival of the Bolo Punch in HI 1893-1920 on: December 09, 2009, 05:22:17 AM
Big hat tip to Chaz Siangco, who brought this wonderful piece to my
attention.  Note the reference to "the Battling Bolo" Elias Cantere in the
closing paragraphs.  Cantere was Chaz's "lolo".
=============
http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_svinthetal_0303.htm

Journal of Combative Sport, Mar 2003
Western Boxing in Hawaii: The Bootleg Era, 1893-1929

By Joseph R. Svinth, with Curtis Narimatsu, Paul Lou, and Charles Johnston

Copyright © EJMAS 2003. All rights reserved.



On January 17, 1893, American settlers led by Sanford B. Dole overthrew the
Hawaiian monarchy. Dole and his friends then offered the Hawaiian Islands to
the United States. The US Congress wanted to accept Dole's offer, but
President, Grover Cleveland was an isolationist who disliked filibustering,
as causing insurrection for purposes of advancing American economic
interests was then known. Consequently, the US government rejected Dole's
offer. Nonplused, on July 4, 1894, Dole and his friends established the
Republic of Hawaii, with Dole as its president.

Three years later, William McKinley became President of the United States.
McKinley. McKinley was an expansionist, as imperialism was then known, and
so, in June 1898, the US government voted to annex Hawaii. The US Navy
landed troops at Honolulu in August 1898, and Hawaiian sovereignty
transferred to the United States.


Message from William McKinley nominating Sanford B. Dole as governor of
Hawaii. Note the letterhead, "Executive Mansion," rather than "White House."
Courtesy the Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Record
Administration, Anson McCook Collection of Presidential Signatures,
NWL-46-MCCOOK-3(11).

From August 1898 until December 1941, the Territory of Hawaii was under
joint military and civilian administration. However, following the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the US Army put the Territory of
Hawaii under martial law. Because the Army's leadership did not trust people
of Japanese ancestry, martial law did not end until October 24, 1944. To
reduce the risk of undergoing extended martial law in future, Hawaii's
civilian leaders, many of whom were of Japanese ancestry, began pushing hard
for statehood, which was achieved on August 20, 1959.

Because of the confluence of social and political factors, the history of
Western boxing in Hawaii has three separate eras.

  a.. The first is the Bootleg Era. From 1893-1929, boxing was legal in
Hawaii only if sponsored by the military. In town, the police rarely tried
to enforce anti-boxing legislation, but the threat was always there. This
severely restricted civilian boxing.
  b.. The second is the Territorial Era. From 1929 to 1959, boxing was legal
throughout the Territory of Hawaii. A territorial commission supervised
bouts in town, but the US military continued to exert considerable control
over life in and around Honolulu. The YMCA, the Catholic Youth Organization,
and the Honolulu newspapers all supported boxing, and through their
patronage, the Territorial Era became the Golden Age of Hawaiian boxing.
  c.. The third is the Statehood Era. From 1959 to the present, boxing has
been legal in the State of Hawaii. The state boxing commission continued to
supervise bouts in town, but the military, church groups, and newspapers
gradually withdrew their patronage. Meanwhile, jet planes made it
unnecessary for boxers heading for Australia or Asia to spend a few days in
Honolulu en route, and network television broadcasts hurt local fight clubs
by introducing televised boxing from the Mainland. The professional market
withered, and so, since statehood, most Hawaiian boxers either have been
amateurs or made their reputations outside the state.
The following discusses the bootleg era, 1893-1929.



Military Boxing

In 1893, the US Navy began stationing warships at Honolulu, where their
sailors and Marines were used to prop up the Dole administration. There were
boxers aboard these warships. For example, during the winter of 1893-1894,
the future heavyweight champion Tom Sharkey, then serving aboard USS
Philadelphia, fought at least 14 bouts in Honolulu.


Boxing aboard USS New York, July 3, 1899. Photographer: Edward H. Hart.
Courtesy the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit
Publishing Company Collection, LC-D4-32317.

The First New York Volunteer Infantry established the first Army camps in
Honolulu during the summer of 1898, and the Regular Army established its
first permanent post, Fort Shafter, in 1907. In January 1913, the War
Department transferred a black regiment, the 25th Infantry, to Fort Shafter.
Some of these soldiers were boxers. Thus, the Honolulu Advertiser wrote,
"The Twenty-fifth is proud of its colored ringmasters and particularly of
Hollie Giles, a welterweight of 155 pounds, who is described by the men as a
'whirlwind' fighter; Morgan, a heavyweight at 190 pounds; Carson, a light
heavyweight, and Ananias Harris, a light heavyweight."

In those days, military boxing was subject to Sections 320 and 321 of the US
Code. These statutes stated that exchanging blows for money or a thing of
any value, or for a championship, or for which admission was charged, or for
which money was wagered, was illegal. In 1915, the Army circumvented these
laws by ruling that soldiers could box in garrison if there were no
admission charges, no challenges from the ring, no decisions announced at
the end of fights, and no obvious gambling. The first smoker following this
decision took place at Schofield Barracks on October 9, 1915, and
subsequently, boxing exhibitions were common on holidays such as
Thanksgiving, New Year's, and the Fourth of July.

Early boxing promoters at Schofield Barracks included Major Edmund Butts,
whose publications included books and magazine articles touting the benefits
of boxing as a pastime for soldiers, and the regimental chaplain. During the
early 1920s, local promoters included Tommy Marlowe and Lieutenant Barnard
of the 5th US Cavalry, and Sergeant John Stone of the Ordnance Department.
At Fort_Derussy, promoters included Sergeant Anthony Biddle of the 17th US
Cavalry. Boxers assigned to Army units in Hawaii during the late 1910s
included the 25th Infantry's Henry Polk ("Rufus Williams") and Private
Settles ("the Kentucky Chap"), and the Signal Corps' Joseph Podimik ("Joe
Potts").

According to the Advertiser (November 27, 1915), the Schofield ring was "set
up on the cavalry parade and an abundance of chairs at the ringside, an
amphitheatre of bleachers, and seats on the adjoining troop quarters [gave]
better accommodations than [did] the seating arrangement of any hall on
post." Unfortunately, the Schofield bleachers provided no protection from
the afternoon rains, and without electric lights to illuminate the twilight,
the audience had a hard time seeing the last rounds of the main event.

During the 1910s, Pearl Harbor became a major US naval base, and in 1921,
Sub Base Pearl Harbor's Sharkey Theater became the first covered boxing
arena in Hawaii. [EN1] From 1918-1924, civilians often attended Pearl Harbor
bouts. However, this ended in 1924, when Rear Admiral John McDonald decided
to close Pearl Harbor boxing matches to civilians and soldiers. The reason
was that McDonald felt that it was ungentlemanly for the audience to boo and
make disparaging remarks about the contestants and referees.

Once Pearl Harbor closed to civilians, the Hawaii National Guard began
patronizing boxing. Guard boxing coaches included Jim Hoao and Bill Huihui,
both of whom had boxed professionally in Hawaii during the early 1900s.
Boxers trained by these men included Patsy Fukuda, Hiram Naipo, and Gus
Sproat. The Honolulu Armory was the usual venue for these fights.


Patsy Fukuda, circa 1930. Courtesy Patrick Fukuda.

Hawaii's most acclaimed military boxer of the bootleg era was probably
Sergeant Peniel R. "Sammy" Baker. Baker began his amateur career at
Schofield Barracks in 1922. At the time, he was 20 years old, and serving in
the 21st Infantry. Baker was the Hawaiian military welterweight champion in
1923 and 1924, and a runner-up in the selection for the US Olympic team in
May 1924. Following the Olympic tryouts, Baker transferred to Mitchel Field,
on Long Island. Baker obtained his discharge in September 1924, and by 1928,
he was ranked the fifth best welterweight in the world.




Civilian Boxing

Bill Huihui was among the earliest Hawaiian-born boxers. Born at Pauoa,
Oahu, in 1875, Huihui went to sea as a young man, and learned to box in San
Francisco. In 1902, he started boxing for Honolulu's Kapiolani Athletic
Club, and his first Hawaiian professional bout took place soon afterwards,
at the Orpheum Theater. This was a 4-round semi-main event, and the opponent
was Jack Latham. Subsequent opponents included Nelson Tavares, Jack Weedy,
Dick Sullivan, Kid De Lyle, and Tim Murphy. Huihui retired from the ring
around 1909, but continued coaching boxers until at least 1924. Because he
worked as a policeman, Huihui's local trainers may have included the
Honolulu Police Department boxing instructor, R.A. Wood, a Scot who settled
in Honolulu in the early 1900s.


Bill Huihui. From the Advertiser, September 10, 1904

Another early Hawaii-born boxer was Nelson Tavares, "the Punchbowl Demon."
Tavares claimed the Territorial lightweight championship from 1905 until
1908, and his opponents included the middleweights Cyclone Kelly, Dick
Sullivan, Tim Murphy, and Mike Patton, and the lightweights Charlie Riley,
Frankie Smith, Frank Rafferty, and Joe Leahy. After retiring from the ring,
Tavares became a garage owner on Bishop Street.


Nelson Tavares. From the Advertiser, June 17, 1908

During the 1910s, a few Hawaii-born boxers began establishing reputations on
the Mainland. For example, in October 1912, the Advertiser mentioned that
Manuel "Battling" Viera of Hilo was boxing in San Francisco. Viera was still
fighting in San Francisco in 1919, when he fought a four-round draw with Joe
"Young" Azevedo. Originally from Honolulu. Azevedo began boxing in Oakland
around January 1913, at which time he was aged 17. Azevedo's wins included
at least two victories over Tommy McFarland and another over former
lightweight champion Ad Wolgast. After a ring injury caused him to go blind
in one eye, Azevedo settled in Sacramento, where he died of a heart attack
on February 19, 1934.




Vaudeville Exhibitions

Until the 1910s, many Honolulu boxing matches took place inside vaudeville
theaters. To circumvent laws prohibiting prizefighting, these matches were
called exhibitions. For example, on May 28, 1904, Paddy Ryan organized a
boxing card at the New Chinese Theater on Hotel Street. The main event
featured Frank Nichols of Honolulu versus USS New York's Sailor Robinson.
Likewise, on June 22, 1911, the Honolulu Eagles hosted a show at the Bijou
Theater that featured "fun in boxing land." The main event featured Mike
Patton, who claimed to be the champion of the Far East. Finally, on June 11,
1913, Jim Hoao lost a 15-round decision to Private Morris Kilsner during a
bout held at Honolulu's Ye Liberty Theater. [EN2]

Famous champions sometimes took part in these exhibitions. For example,
during July 1894, John L. Sullivan was on a trip to Australia, and while in
Honolulu, he gave an exhibition at the Opera House. His opponent was a
sparring partner named Fitzsimmons (not Bob). Similarly, during November
1907, the visiting lightweight champion Jimmy Britt gave a demonstration to
the "sport-loving people of Honolulu." The Advertiser noted that the latter
exhibition was "of such character that women can safely attend." (In those
days, society discouraged women from attending fights, but some went anyway,
usually watching from backstage.)


John L. Sullivan. Lithograph by Scott C. Carbee, sometime between 1880 and
1910. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,
LC-USZ62-119896.

Another way that vaudeville managers circumvented the law was by advertising
the boxing as part of a novelty act. For example, in December 1915, the
Welsh welterweight Fred Dyer, who advertised himself as "the singing boxer,"
appeared at the Popular Theater in Honolulu. Dyer was en route to California
from Australia, where his opponents included Fritz Holland and Les Darcy.

The vaudeville promoters generally arranged these fights without asking the
consent of either boxer. Instead, they simply told the men that they had a
fight lined up. Then the boxers either showed up or they didn't.

23985  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: December 09, 2009, 04:41:20 AM
 cheesy cheesy cheesy
23986  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: December 09, 2009, 04:38:27 AM
Was that the punch to the thigh with a spinning backfist/elbow?  I saw that in his DQ loss on Saturday , , ,

23987  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: December 08, 2009, 10:55:09 PM
Expound on that please-- what's the story?
23988  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: December 08, 2009, 10:43:41 PM
The form for pre-orders should go up tomorrow!
23989  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Bolo Game promo clip on: December 08, 2009, 06:33:24 PM
The promo clip is up!!!

DBMA "The Bolo Game"
23990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: December 08, 2009, 05:11:53 PM
A very successful oilman dies.  He faces Saint Peter, who says, “You’ve been a good man and normally I’d send you to heaven, but heaven is full.  We only have a place in hell.”
The oilman says, “Any chance I could talk to other oilmen who are in heaven?  Maybe I can convince someone to switch places with me?”

Saint Peter says, “It’s never happened before, but sure, I don’t see any harm in it.”

The oilman goes to heaven, finds an oilmen convention and yells, “They found a huge oil discovery in hell!”  Oilmen are stampeding out of heaven to hell, and our oilman is running with them.

Saint Peter asks him “Why are you going to hell with them?  I have a spot in heaven, you can stay.”

The oilman answers – “Are you kidding, what if it’s true?” 
23991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cicero on: December 08, 2009, 03:53:47 PM
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
-- Cicero (55 BC)
23992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: December 08, 2009, 03:48:54 PM
BBG:

The works you aggregate here are growing into a valuable reference for literate people looking to become informed.

23993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The vast left wing conspiracy: BO's friends, appts, and running dogs on: December 08, 2009, 03:46:52 PM
Thank you gents.
23994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: December 08, 2009, 03:39:21 PM
Oy fg vey. cry
23995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: December 08, 2009, 10:33:38 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Dec. 7, 2009
Stratfor Today » December 8, 2009 | 0006 GMT


Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Zeta Prison Break

Presumed members of Los Zetas staged a brazen prison raid Dec. 4 in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon state, killing two state police officers guarding the prison and freeing 23 inmates. At the same time in nearby Juarez, Zetas engaged a Mexican military unit in a firefight in an apparent attempt to distract the superior security force away from the prison. While details are still coming in, the incident highlights the uphill battle the Mexican government is fighting as it tries to professionalize its law enforcement ranks.

The firefight in Juarez resulted in the deaths of 12 members of Los Zetas, including Ricardo “El Gori” Almanza Morales, the group’s regional leader in Monterrey. Nevertheless, the engagement served its purpose. As the firefight was under way, a Chevrolet pickup truck rammed the gates of the prison in Escobedo, whereupon armed men entered the facility and killed the two guards. The men then were able to free the prisoners, who included 16 former Garcia municipal police officers charged with colluding with organized crime after an investigation into the death of the Garcia police. Members of the federal police unit charged with guarding the prison were inexplicably off-site eating, leaving the prison very vulnerable.

Los Zetas have shown before that they will go to great lengths to protect and rescue fellow members and associates. A similar well-planned and coordinated operation took place in May in Zacatecas that freed more than 50 prisoners, although not a single shot was fired. This indicated that several — if not all — of the prison guards were complicit in the operation. The use of diversionary tactics in Juarez suggests a similarly high level of operational planning and coordination in the Escobedo prison break. It is also testament to the extent to which Los Zetas have penetrated local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and further indicates the level of corruption that still exists as Mexican President Felipe Calderon continues his security reforms.

A March Against Violence in Ciudad Juarez

On Dec. 6, in Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua state, some 5,000 citizens took to the streets during noon hour to protest the presence of the Mexican military and federal police and the high levels of violence in the city. The citizens were complaining that the presence of the federal forces has served only to fuel the violence rather than suppress it and that the federal personnel were running protection rackets against businesses and private citizens. The presence and use of the Mexican military on the streets of Mexican cities has come under increased scrutiny as allegations of human rights violations have mounted and its effectiveness has come into question.

Violence has continued to rise in the Juarez metropolitan area despite its having the highest concentration of security forces in the country — some 8,500 personnel. Nevertheless, more than 2,200 organized-crime related deaths have occurred so far this year. Still, the military seems to be the only viable option for the Mexican government, at least at the moment. While the military is not immune to corruption, Mexican law enforcement agencies are notoriously more corrupt, and none more so than the Juarez police (the enforcement arm for the Juarez cartel, La Linea, consists of former and current Juarez police officers).

The cartels have not ignored the public’s frustration over the Mexican military operating in its midst. Cartels have gone as far as to pay private citizens to protest the military’s presence. While there is no indication that there was any cartel involvement in the Dec. 6 protests in Juarez, the cartels undoubtedly are taking note and will likely leverage the growing public frustration.





(click here to enlarge image)
Nov. 30

Two men were reportedly kidnapped by a group of armed men in Ecuandureo, Michoacan state. Their bodies were later found with several gunshot wounds.
Three Mexican nationals were arrested in the Panama City International Airport for trying to smuggle cocaine inside their stomachs. The group was allegedly coming from Bolivia and bound for Guadalajara, in Jalisco state.
A kidnapping victim of Los Zetas who was rescued Nov. 25 from a safe house in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, and had agreed to cooperate with authorities, was found decapitated.

Dec. 1

Six men were kidnapped by a group of armed men in Ecuandureo, Michoacan.
Four individuals set fire to 28 vehicles that were supposed to be delivered to the Tijuana Municipal Public Security Secretariat in Tijuana, Baja California state.
An Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) activist was gunned down by a group of several armed men at a restaurant inside the Nuevo Santa Fe Hotel in Oaxaca, Oaxaca state.
Edgar Enrique Bayardo de Villar, former director of operations for the Federal Preventive Police and an informant for Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, was assassinated by two men in a Starbucks cafe in Mexico City.

Dec. 2
Three men were found dead with their hands and feet bound in separate locations around the city of Acapulco, Guerrero state. On two of the bodies were messages from Arturo “El Jefe de Jefes” Beltran-Leyva.
A fragmentation grenade detonated outside the Union de Isidoro Montes de Oca Municipal Investigative Police station in Guerrero state. There were no reported injuries or damage reported.
The body of a man showing signs of torture and 30 stab wounds was discovered in the Tiamba neighborhood of Uruapan, Michoacan state.
Roberto Torres Salinas, director of operations for the Public Security Secretariat in Gomez Palacio, Durango state, was assassinated by a group of armed men. Torres Salinas reportedly was shot more than 50 times as he arrived at his home.

Dec. 3
Federal police arrested 13 men who allegedly worked for the Arellano Felix Organization to construct a smuggling tunnel in Tijuana, Baja California, that ran under the border into the United States.
Members of the federal police arrested three individuals reportedly associated with a kidnapping cell of the La Familia Michoacana organization in Morelia, Michoacan.
A municipal police patrol in San Francisco de los Romo, Aguascalientes state, was ambushed by a group of armed men. Two of the officers were killed and three were wounded.
The U.S. Department of Treasury designated 22 individuals and 10 companies associated with the Beltran-Leyva Organization as “specially designated narcotics traffickers.” This effectively freezes any of the designees’ financial assets in the United States and forbids any U.S. citizens from conducting financial or commercial transactions with individuals or companies listed.
The brother of Joel Torres Felix, a PRI leader in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, was gunned down by a group of armed men in the southern outskirts of Culiacan.
Five people were killed, including a federal police agent and commander, in a firefight between state and federal law enforcement agencies and suspected drug traffickers at a safe house in Coyuca de Catalan, Guerrero.

Dec. 4
Members of the anti-kidnapping force of the Morelos attorney general’s office arrested six members of the kidnapping gang Los Yeseros in Cuernavaca.
A federal police agent was gunned down in Escuinapa, Sinaloa state, by a group of men travelling in a car armed with AK-47s.
Los Zetas staged an operation to free 23 of their associates from a prison in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon, killing two guards in the process. A diversionary fire fight with a military unit in Juarez resulted in 12 Zetas being killed, including Monterrey Zeta leader Ricardo “El Gori” Almanza Morales.

Dec. 5
Members of the Mexican army and navy detained nine suspected kidnappers who had hours earlier kidnapped a truck driver and stole his load of 30,000 liters of diesel.
Mexico extradited Francisco Javier Mora to the United States to stand trial for the trafficking of cocaine and methamphetamine and Fermin Bucheta Temich to be tried for the sexual abuse of a minor.
Dec. 6
A group of armed men assassinated a man outside his home in Uruapan, Michoacan.
The Mexican Navy announced the seizure of 262 kilograms of cocaine and four speed boats and the arrest of nine individuals after a joint U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican navy operation in the Pacific Ocean near the Mexico-Guatemala border.
Some 5,000 citizens of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, took to the streets to protest the presence of the Mexican military and federal police and the high levels of violence in the city.
23996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: December 08, 2009, 10:06:29 AM
I posted about Ahmad Diaa in the Rest in Peace thread with some comments about his courage against Islamic Fascism and the comments of so many other ordinary Iraqi Muslims.

My friend then said:

"Most of the Muslims I met over there could have cared less about a caliphate.  Extremist Islam was not their thing.  Many did not even go to mosque on Friday.  They are Muslim like I am Catholic.  That is their religious identification, as Catholic is mine. They have their cultural values that comport with Islamic principles but a desire to impose their view of the world on others?  Absolutely not.

"But those wielding weapons and planting bombs command attention and "respect.". They dominate moderates who are by definition moderate.

"I blame al Maliki for his insistence on tearing down T-walls and opening up the Iraqi people once again to be bled out by Jihadists and other anti-government insurgents. T-walls and tight checkpoints gave the Iraqi people some breathing room over the past few years, and he is throwing all caution to the wind."
23997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The vast left wing conspiracy: BO's friends, appts, and running dogs on: December 08, 2009, 09:08:45 AM
The outrages just keep rolling along. 

Can someone help me get the URL for Ron Bloom saying the free market is a joke or something like that?  Thank you.  Glenn Beck has played it quite a bit.
23998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / R.I.P. Ahmad Diaa on: December 08, 2009, 08:56:53 AM
"Our man in Iraq" is back home in America, but as also posted on the Iraq thread today he writes:



"One of the bombs today targeted the new location that the Iraqi HJC (Higher Judiciary Council) guys I used to work and coordinate with moved to (the old "Karkh Appellate courthouse").  That is where they moved much of the judicial operations to after the October bomb destroyed the Ministry of Justice building. Several of those guys did not survive the blast.  One of them was a guy named Ahmad Diaa who I probably liked more than any other Iraqi I met over there.
 
"It is a very sad day for me."

So, for my friend, I pause to remember his friend Ahmad Diaa-- and all the other people who happen to be Muslim but who take a stand against the Islamic Fascism.  The numbers of people who do so and the vastness of their courage often goes unnoticed.

23999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq reports on: December 08, 2009, 08:55:19 AM
"Our man in Iraq" is back home in America, but today he writes:

"One of the bombs today targeted the new location that the Iraqi HJC (Higher Judiciary Council) guys I used to work and coordinate with moved to (the old "Karkh Appellate courthouse").  That is where they moved much of the judicial operations to after the October bomb destroyed the Ministry of Justice building. Several of those guys did not survive the blast.  One of them was a guy named Ahmad Diaa who I probably liked more than any other Iraqi I met over there.
 
"It is a very sad day for me."
24000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Jihadist Strategic Dilema on: December 07, 2009, 05:34:09 PM
   
The Jihadist Strategic Dilemma
December 7, 2009
By George Friedman

With U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement of his strategy in Afghanistan, the U.S.-jihadist war has entered a new phase. With its allies, the United States has decided to increase its focus on the Afghan war while continuing to withdraw from Iraq. Along with focusing on Afghanistan, it follows that there will be increased Western attention on Pakistan. Meanwhile, the question of what to do with Iran remains open, and is in turn linked to U.S.-Israeli relations. The region from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush remains in a war or near-war status. In a fundamental sense, U.S. strategy has not shifted under Obama: The United States remains in a spoiling-attack state.

Related Special Topic Page
The Devolution of Al Qaeda
As we have discussed, the primary U.S. interest in this region is twofold. The first aspect is to prevent the organization of further major terrorist attacks on the United States. The second is to prevent al Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups from taking control of any significant countries.

U.S. operations in this region mainly consist of spoiling attacks aimed at frustrating the jihadists’ plans rather than at imposing Washington’s will in the region. The United States lacks the resources to impose its will, and ultimately doesn’t need to. Rather, it needs to wreck its adversaries’ plans. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, the primary American approach consists of this tack. That is the nature of spoiling attacks. Obama has thus continued the Bush administration’s approach to the war, though he has shifted some details.

The Jihadist Viewpoint
It is therefore time to consider the war from the jihadist point of view. This is a difficult task given that the jihadists do not constitute a single, organized force with a command structure and staff that could express that view. It is compounded by the fact that al Qaeda prime, our term for the original al Qaeda that ordered and organized the attacks on 9/11 and in Madrid and London, is now largely shattered.

While bearing this in mind, it must be remembered that this fragmentation is both a strategic necessity and a weapon of war for jihadists. The United States can strike the center of gravity of any jihadist force. It naturally cannot strike what doesn’t exist, so the jihadist movement has been organized to deny the United States that center of gravity, or command structure which, if destroyed, would leave the movement wrecked. Thus, even were Osama bin Laden killed or captured, the jihadist movement is set up to continue.

So although we cannot speak of a jihadist viewpoint in the sense that we can speak of an American viewpoint, we can ask this question: If we were a jihadist fighter at the end of 2009, what would the world look like to us, what would we want to achieve and what might we do to try to achieve that?

We must bear in mind that al Qaeda began the war with a core strategic intent, namely, to spark revolutions in the Sunni Muslim world by overthrowing existing regimes and replacing them with jihadist regimes. This was part of the jihadist group’s long-term strategy to recreate a multinational Islamist empire united under al Qaeda’s interpretation of Shariah.

The means toward this end involved demonstrating to the Muslim masses that their regimes were complicit with the leading Christian power, i.e., the United States, and that only American backing kept these Sunni regimes in power. By striking the United States on Sept. 11, al Qaeda wanted to demonstrate that the United States was far more vulnerable than believed, by extension demonstrating that U.S. client regimes were not as powerful as they appeared. This was meant to give the Islamic masses a sense that uprisings against Muslim regimes not dedicated to Shariah could succeed. In their view, any American military response — an inevitability after 9/11 — would further incite the Muslim masses rather than intimidate them.

The last eight years of war have ultimately been disappointing to the jihadists, however. Rather than a massive uprising in the Muslim world, not a single regime has been replaced with a jihadist regime. The primary reason has been that Muslim regimes allied with the United States decided they had more to fear from the jihadists than from the Americans, and chose to use their intelligence and political power to attack and suppress the jihadists. In other words, rather than trigger an uprising, the jihadists generated a strengthened anti-jihadist response from existing Muslim states. The spoiling attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in other countries in the Horn of Africa and North Africa, generated some support for the jihadists, but that support has since diminished and the spoiling attacks have disrupted these countries sufficiently to make them unsuitable as bases of operation for anything more than local attacks. In other words, the attacks tied the jihadists up in local conflicts, diverting them from operations against the United States and Europe.

Under this intense pressure, the jihadist movement has fragmented, though it continues to exist. Incapable of decisive action at the moment, it has goals beyond surviving as a fragmented entity, albeit with some fairly substantial fragments. And it is caught on the horns of a strategic dilemma.

Operationally, jihadists continue to be engaged against the United States. In Afghanistan, the jihadist movement is relying on the Taliban to tie down and weaken American forces. In Iraq, the remnants of the jihadist movement are doing what they can to shatter the U.S.-sponsored coalition government in Baghdad and further tie down American forces by attacking Shiites and key members of the Sunni community. Outside these two theaters, the jihadists are working to attack existing Muslim governments collaborating with the United States — particularly Pakistan — but with periodic attacks striking other Muslim states.

These attacks represent the fragmentation of the jihadists. Their ability to project power is limited. By default, they have accordingly adopted a strategy of localism, in which their primary intent is to strike existing governments while simultaneously tying down American forces in a hopeless attempt to stabilize the situation.

The strategic dilemma is this: The United States is engaged in a spoiling action with the primary aim of creating conditions in which jihadists are bottled up fighting indigenous forces rather than being free to plan attacks on the United States or systematically try to pull down existing regimes. And the current jihadist strategy plays directly into American hands. First, the attacks recruit Muslim regimes into deploying their intelligence and security forces against the jihadists, which is precisely what the United States wants. Secondly, it shifts jihadist strength away from transnational actions to local actions, which is also what the United States wants. These local attacks, which kill mostly Muslims, also serve to alienate many Muslims from the jihadists.

The jihadists are currently playing directly into U.S. hands because, rhetoric aside, the United States cannot regard instability in the Islamic world as a problem. Let’s be more precise on this: An ideal outcome for the United States would be the creation of stable, pro-American regimes in the region eager and able to attack and destroy jihadist networks. There are some regimes in the region like this, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The probability of creating such stable, eager and capable regimes in places like Iraq or Afghanistan is unlikely in the extreme. The second-best outcome for the United States involves a conflict in which the primary forces battling — and neutralizing — each other are Muslim, with the American forces in a secondary role. This has been achieved to some extent in Iraq. Obama’s goal is to create a situation in Afghanistan in which Afghan government forces engage Taliban forces with little or no U.S. involvement. Meanwhile, in Pakistan the Americans would like to see an effective effort by Islamabad to suppress jihadists throughout Pakistan. If they cannot get suppression, the United States will settle for a long internal conflict that would tie down the jihadists.

A Self-Defeating Strategy
The jihadists are engaged in a self-defeating strategy when they spread out and act locally. The one goal they must have, and the one outcome the United States fears, is the creation of stable jihadist regimes. The strategy of locally focused terrorism has proved ineffective. It not only fails to mobilize the Islamic masses, it creates substantial coalitions seeking to suppress the jihadists.

The jihadist attack on the United States has failed. The presence of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has reshaped the behavior of regional governments. Fear of instability generated by the war has generated counteractions by regional governments. Contrary to what the jihadists expected or hoped for, there was no mass uprising and therefore no counter to anti-jihadist actions by regimes seeking to placate the United States. The original fear, that the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan would generate massive hostility, was not wrong. But the hostility did not strengthen the jihadists, and instead generated anti-jihadist actions by governments.

From the jihadist point of view, it would seem essential to get the U.S. military out of the region and to relax anti-jihadist actions by regional security forces. Continued sporadic and ineffective action by jihadists achieves nothing and generates forces with which they can’t cope. If the United States withdrew, and existing tensions within countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan were allowed to mature undisturbed, new opportunities might present themselves.

Most significantly, the withdrawal of U.S. troops would strengthen Iran. The jihadists are no friends of Shiite Iran, and neither are Iran’s neighbors. In looking for a tool for political mobilization in the Gulf region or in Afghanistan absent a U.S. presence, the Iranian threat would best serve the jihadists. The Iranian threat combined with the weakness of regional Muslim powers would allow the jihadists to join a religious and nationalist opposition to Tehran. The ability to join religion and nationalism would turn the local focus from something that takes the jihadists away from regime change to something that might take them toward it.

The single most powerful motivator for an American withdrawal would be a period of open quiescence. An openly stated consensus for standing down, in particular because of a diminished terrorist threat, would facilitate something the Obama administration wants most of all: a U.S. withdrawal from the region. Providing the Americans with a justification for leaving would open the door for new possibilities. The jihadists played a hand on 9/11 that they hoped would prove a full house. It turned into a bust. When that happens, you fold your hand and play a new one. And there is always a hand being dealt so long as you have some chips left.

The challenge here is that the jihadists have created a situation in which they have defined their own credibility in terms of their ability to carry out terrorist attacks, however poorly executed or counterproductive they have become. Al Qaeda prime’s endless calls for action have become the strategic foundation for the jihadists: Action has become an end in itself. The manner in which the jihadists have survived as a series of barely connected pods of individuals scattered across continents has denied the United States a center of gravity to strike. It has also turned the jihadists from a semi-organized force into one incapable of defining strategic shifts.

The jihadists’ strategic dilemma is that they have lost the 2001-2008 phase of the war but are not defeated. To begin to recoup, they must shift their strategy. But they lack the means for doing so because of what they have had to do to survive. At the same time, there are other processes in play. The Taliban, which has even more reason to want the United States out of Afghanistan, might shift to an anti-jihadist strategy: It could liquidate al Qaeda, return to power in Afghanistan and then reconsider its strategy later. So, too, in other areas.

From the U.S. point of view, an open retreat by the jihadists would provide short-term relief but long-term problems. The moment when the enemy sues for peace is the moment when the pressure should be increased rather than decreased. But direct U.S. interests in the region are so minimal that a more distant terrorist threat will be handled in a more distant future. As the jihadists are too fragmented to take strategic positions, U.S. pressure will continue in any event.

Oddly enough, as much as the United States is uncomfortable in the position it is in, the jihadists are in a much worse position.

 
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