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24001  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kyrgyzstan on: April 10, 2010, 12:00:10 PM
Russia's Growing Resurgence
EVIDENCE OF RUSSIA’S ROLE IN THE OVERTHROW of the Kyrgyz government Wednesday became even clearer Thursday.

Not coincidentally, members of the interim government that the opposition began forming on Wednesday have lengthy and deep ties to Russia. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was not only quick to endorse the new government, but he also offered the opposition Russia’s support — financial or otherwise. Interestingly, Russia on Thursday also sent 150 of its elite paratroopers to its military installation in Kant -– twenty miles from the capital of Bishkek –- leaving a looming suspicion that Russia could step in further to ensure the success of the new government.

Protests take place regularly in Kyrgyzstan. The fact that Wednesday’s protests spun into riots, followed by the seizure then ousting of the government, followed by the installation of a replacement government set to take control — all in less than a 24-hour period — are all clear indicators that this was a highly organized series of events, likely orchestrated from outside the country. Furthering this assumption were reports from STRATFOR sources on the ground that noted a conspicuous Russian FSB presence in the country during the riots. These reports cannot be confirmed, but it is not unrealistic to assume that a pervasive presence of Russian security forces exists in the country.

There are many reasons why Russia decided to target Kyrgyzstan. The country lies in a key geographic location nestled against China and Kazakhstan, and surrounds the most critical piece of territory in all of Central Asia: the Fergana Valley. Whoever controls Kyrgyzstan has the ability to pressure a number of states, including Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Kyrgyzstan was also the scene of the 2005 Tulip Revolution, which ushered in President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who is now sheltering himself in the southern regions of the country. It was not that Bakiyev was pro-Western like other color revolution leaders in Georgia and Ukraine, but he was available to the highest bidder and the United States was willing to pay.

The United States has maintained a transit center at the Manas International Airport — which serves as a key logistical hub for its operations in Afghanistan — since 2001. Though Russia has four — soon to be five — military installations in Kyrgyzstan, Manas is the only serious U.S. military presence in Central Asia. With a Russian-controlled government coming into power in Bishkek, Moscow now holds the strings over Manas. This gives Russia another lever to use against the United States within the larger struggle between the two powers.

“As of Wednesday, Russia has now added to its repertoire the ability to pull off its own style of color revolution with the toppling of the Kyrgyz government.”
Russia’s main goal within that struggle is to have Western influence pulled back from its former turf — especially in the former Soviet states — and for the United States to accept Russian pre-eminence in the former Soviet sphere. But Russia is not just waiting for the United States to hand over its former turf. Instead, it has been actively resurging back into these countries using a myriad of tools.

Russia has long exerted its influence in the former Soviet states by attempting to ensure their economic reliance on Russia — as an integrated part of each country’s economy, and as an energy provider or energy transporter. This was seen in 2006 when Russia started cutting off energy supplies to Ukraine and also in Lithuania, to force the countries and their supporters in Europe to be more compliant.

Russia proved in 2008 that it was willing to use military force against its former Soviet states by going to war with Georgia. This move was particularly poignant since Georgia also had been a country turned pro-Western via a color revolution, and was pushing for membership into NATO. In early 2010, Russia showed that it could slowly organize forces in Ukraine to be democratically elected, replacing the pro-Western government elected in the Orange Revolution.

As of Wednesday, Russia has now added to its repertoire of tools used in the former Soviet states the ability to pull off its own style of color revolution with the toppling of the Kyrgyz government.

Russia has been systematically tailoring its resurgence into each country of its former sphere according to the country’s circumstances. This has not been quick or easy for Moscow. The overthrow of Kyrgyzstan has been painstakingly planned for nearly a decade to either flip the country back under Moscow’s control, or at least roll back U.S. influence and make the country more pragmatic to the Russian mission.

Russia knows there is no one-size-fits-all plan for its former Soviet states. The Kremlin cannot simply wage war with each country like it did with Georgia, cut off energy supplies like in Lithuania, set up a democratically elected government like in Ukraine or overthrow the government as in Kyrgyzstan. Now and going forward, Russia will tailor the type of influences it uses to each country it wants to control.

24002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: April 10, 2010, 10:53:13 AM
Thanks for the leg work.
24003  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: April 10, 2010, 10:48:54 AM
I've experienced full battle rattle a few times and I am greatly impressed with how efficiently it helps to carry the weight.  That said, the more I go into training this, the more in awe I am of what our fighting men are doing.  Here I am noticing the difference between 40 and 50 pounds and they are carrying 70-80 and sometimes much more than that-- and operating in temperatures overe 100 or more at altitudes that would tax me to walk unweighted.

Anyway, I have been told that we will be carrying about 45 pounds for 4-12 miles a day and returning to our base of operations every night.  The wide range of daily mileage I suspect is due to the fact that sometimes the trail is lost and lots of time must be invested in moving extra slowly while recovering it.
24004  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Tolmin, Slovenia 6/26-27 on: April 10, 2010, 10:42:32 AM
We've been at it for years grin  Check out the size of our organization in Europe.
24005  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: April 09, 2010, 09:24:23 PM
SD:

I like non 4/4 rhythms.  I use rhythm A LOT in my teaching method-- and in my fighting.

I liked both those clips there.  What were the signatures in each?  I am shy to guess publicly embarassed
24006  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: April 09, 2010, 08:53:46 PM
I'm rooting for Renzo.
24007  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: April 09, 2010, 08:52:06 PM
A weight vest-- to more closely imitate how I will be wearing much of my weight on the course.

As for 3 mph being a good pace , , , you're being very kind.
24008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 09, 2010, 08:49:40 PM
Agreed, but the author raises a valid point.  It does look there is a psuedo recovery under way and this most certainly can help BO and the Demogogues in a big way come November-- "He/they saved us!" the sheeple will bleat.

Tis for sure that in great part the Patricians a.k.a. the Republicans have offered minimal coherent alternatives.
24009  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 09, 2010, 08:44:45 PM
Well, good news-- it looks like for some reason we were billed for two months, which included a slight increase due to a , , , particular birthday of my wife.
24010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO's dinner in Prague on: April 09, 2010, 01:26:17 PM
Obama's Working Dinner in Prague
AS THE WORLD WATCHES KYRGYZSTAN PRESIDENT Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s rule go up in flames, an important meeting scheduled for Thursday is receiving surprisingly little media attention. U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with 11 Central and Eastern European leaders in Prague on that day. Obama will have what the U.S. administration is calling a “working dinner” with the leaders at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, just a few hours after the ceremony to sign the replacement for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at Prague Castle.

The working dinner is not receiving much media attention in the United States or Central Europe, mainly due to the coverage that the START ceremonies are garnering. Other domestic issues in Central Europe, especially upcoming elections in four of the 11 countries, are also getting a fair amount of recognition. Nonetheless, the dinner is a notable event, and the first time a U.S. president is exclusively meeting with 11 leaders from Central Europe in a forum not related to either NATO or the European Union.

The main goal of the “working dinner” is to give Central European leaders an opportunity for some face time with the U.S. president. It is not going to result in any specific joint communique or policy conclusion, but rather provide a stage for Central European leaders to voice some of their concerns. According to STRATFOR sources in the region, topics for debate will range from joint efforts in Afghanistan and upcoming revisions to the NATO Strategic Concept, to relations with Russia and regional security issues in Central Asia and the Balkans.

From the U.S. perspective, the purpose of the meeting is to reassure Central Europe’s leadership of the U.S. commitment without having to actually make a substantive effort to involve the United States in the region when Washington is still embroiled in Afghanistan and is in the process of extracting itself from Iraq. Poland and Romania are asking for the Ballistic Missile Defense systems that come with American boots on the ground, the Baltic States want a more substantive NATO military presence to counter increasing Russian pressures in the Baltic Sea and all want to see some sort of a response from Washington to the reversal of pro-Western forces in neighboring Ukraine. If Obama can reassure Central Europe by hosting a dinner at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, then he has accomplished his task at a low cost.

The symbolism of the dinner will not be lost on Central Europe’s neighbors, particularly Western Europe and Russia. Obama irritated Western Europe earlier this year when he decided not to attend the upcoming U.S.-EU summit because, as was semi-officially explained by the White House, he had better things to do. That he now has time for Central Europeans exclusively is definitely going to send a message to Berlin and Paris. The fact that the meeting comes on the heels of the Greek financial crisis and during a period of marked European disunity over how to handle it will also not be lost on Germany and France. Central Europeans are increasingly becoming frustrated at the closeness between Berlin, Paris and Moscow, and are beginning to have their economic interests (EU membership) diverge from their security interests (alliance with the United States via NATO). Obama’s meeting with the Central European leadership can be interpreted as the United States further driving a wedge — whether willingly or not — between those two interests.

“The symbolism of the dinner will not be lost on Central Europe’s neighbors, particularly Western Europe and Russia. “
Russia will not be pleased either. It has enjoyed a relatively free hand in Central and Eastern Europe while Washington has been embroiled in its Middle East adventures, and does not want to see the United States commit more attention to the region. But it will also not appreciate Obama so clearly giving Central Europe’s leaders — many of whom the Kremlin would openly describe as Russophobes — his attention on the same day that was supposed to have all the world’s media tuned to the pomp and circumstance of the START signing.

That is why we find the timing of the crisis in Kyrgyzstan…curious.

Kyrgyzstan was not really entrenched in the pro-United States or pro-Russian influence, but has essentially been available to the highest bidder. This has left Moscow irritated with Bishkek — especially with the now outgoing President Bakiyev — but it has never forced Russia to target Kyrgyzstan outright. Moscow has always felt that it would have to do little to influence the impoverished, landlocked country whose only significant export — hydroelectric power generated from rivers flowing down its mountains — is literally drying up.

That said, we are noticing traces of Russian influence in the Kyrgyz opposition movements now assuming power. Also, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has already come out to essentially praise the removal of “nepotistic” Bakiyev who had “fallen in the same trap” as his predecessor.

When it comes to protesters and government-topplers, the Russian media has traditionally been less than charitable, typically calling them “hooligans” or “criminals.” However, during the current Kyrgyz crisis, the Russian media has altered its language by referring to the protesters as “human rights activists” who are part of “NGO” groups. This is reminiscent of the language that the Western media has used to describe protesters of color revolutions it has supported in the past. It is also similar to the language that Russia typically reserves for pro-Kremlin groups operating on the other side of the NATO borders, particularly the Baltic States. This is not the first time Russia has used Western norms and language to describe events that are to its benefit. For example, Russia referred to its August 2008 Georgian intervention as “humanitarian,” mirroring the “responsibility to protect” doctrine espoused by NATO during its bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

It is also notable that the outgoing Kyrgyz government started blaming the Russian media for its coverage of Kyrgyzstan’s unrest and problems with corruption weeks before the crisis developed. This tells us that, at a minimum, Russia most likely knew what was about to occur. There is the possibility that they took an active roll in the events in Kyrgyzstan, but it is not yet clear whether the current unrest has been at all instigated by Moscow, or whether the Kremlin is simply moving to capitalize on an otherwise indigenously sparked unrest.

The fact that we have witnessed the reversals of two ostensibly pro-Western color revolutions — the Orange (in Ukraine) and Tulip (in Kyrgyzstan) — within three months of each other this year will not be lost on the dinner coterie in Prague.
24011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ajami on: April 09, 2010, 10:20:34 AM
By FOUAD AJAMI
President Obama's "war of necessity" in Afghanistan increasingly has to it the mark of a military campaign disconnected from a bigger political strategy.

Yes, it is true, he "inherited" this war. But in his fashion he embraced it and held it up as a rebuke to the Iraq war. The spectacle of Afghan President Hamid Karzai going rogue on the American and NATO allies who prop up his regime is of a piece with other runaway clients in far-off lands learning that great, distant powers can be defied and manipulated with impunity. After all, Mr. Karzai has been told again and again that his country, the safe harbor from which al Qaeda planned and carried out 9/11, is essential to winning the war on terror.

Some months ago, our envoy to Kabul, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, saw into the heart of the matter in a memo to his superiors. Mr. Eikenberry was without illusions about President Karzai. He dismissed him as a leader who continues to shun "responsibility for any sovereign burden, whether defense, governance or development. He and his circle don't want the U.S. to leave and are only too happy to see us invest further. They assume we covet their territory for a never-ending war on terror and for military bases to use against surrounding powers."

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David Klein
 .The Eikenberry memorandum lays to rest once and for all the legend of Afghanistan as a "graveyard of empires." Rather than seeking an end to the foreign military presence, the Afghans and their leader seek to perpetuate it. It spares them the hard choice of building a nation-state, knitting together feuding ethnicities and provinces, and it brings them enormous foreign treasure.

Mr. Karzai may be unusually brazen and vainglorious in his self-regard. He may have been acting out of a need to conciliate the Pashtun community from which he hails and which continues to see him as the front man for a regime that gives the Tajiks disproportionate power and influence. But his conduct is at one with the ways of Afghan warlords and chieftains.

Still, this recent dust-up with Mr. Karzai—his outburst against the West, his melodramatic statement that he, too, could yet join the Taliban in a campaign of "national resistance," his indecent warning that those American and NATO forces soldiering to give his country a chance are on the verge of becoming foreign occupiers—is a statement about the authority of the Obama administration and its standing in Afghanistan and the region.

Forgive Mr. Karzai as he tilts with the wind and courts the Iranian theocrats next door. We can't chastise him for seeking an accommodation with Iranian power when Washington itself gives every indication that it would like nothing more than a grand bargain with Iran's rulers.

In Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East, populations long in the path, and in the shadow, of great foreign powers have a good feel for the will and staying power of those who venture into their world. If Iran's bid for nuclear weapons and a larger role in the region goes unchecked, and if Iran is now a power of the Mediterranean (through Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Beirut), the leaders in Kabul, whoever they are, are sure to do their best to secure for themselves an Iranian insurance policy.

From the very beginning of Mr. Obama's stewardship of the Afghan war, there was an odd, unsettling disjunction between the centrality given this war and the reluctance to own it in full, to stay and fight until victory (a word this administration shuns) is ours.

Consider the very announcement of the Obama war strategy last November in Mr. Obama's West Point address. The speech was at once the declaration of a "surge" and the announcement of an exit strategy. Additional troops would be sent, but their withdrawal would begin in the summer of 2011.

The Afghans, and their interested neighbors, were invited to do their own calculations. Some could arrive at a judgment that the war and its frustrations would mock such plans, that military campaigns such as the one in Afghanistan are far easier to launch than to bring to a decent conclusion, that American pride and credibility are destined to leave America entangled in Afghan troubles for many years to come. (By all indications, Mr. Karzai seems to subscribe to this view.)

Others could bet on our war weariness, for Americans have never shown an appetite for the tribal and ethnic wars of South Asia and the Middle East. The shadow of our power lies across that big region, it is true. But we blow in and out of these engagements, generally not staying long enough to assure our friends and frighten our enemies.

Zia ul-Haq, the military dictator who recast Pakistani politics away from that country's secular beginnings and plunged into the jihad and its exertions, once memorably observed that being an ally of the United States was like sitting on the bank of a great river where the ground is lush and fertile, but that every four to eight years the river changes course and the unsuspecting friend of American power finds himself in a barren desert. Mr. Obama has not given the protagonists in the Afghan war the certainty that he is in it for the long haul.

In word and deed, Mr. Obama has given a sense of his priorities. The passion with which he pursued health-care reform could be seen at home and abroad as the drive of a man determined to remake the American social contract. He aims to tilt the balance away from liberty toward equality. The very ambition of his domestic agenda in health care and state intervention in the economy conveys the causes that stir him.

Granted, Mullah Omar and his men in the Quetta Shura may not be seasoned observers of Washington's ways. But they (and Mr. Karzai) can discern if America is marking time, giving it one last try before casting Afghanistan adrift. It is an inescapable fact that Mr. Obama hasn't succeeded in selling this Afghan venture—or even the bigger war on terror itself—to his supporters on the left. He fights the war with Republican support, but his constituency remains isolationist at heart.

The president has in his command a great fighting force and gifted commanders. He clearly hopes they will succeed. But there is always the hint that this Afghan campaign became the good, worthwhile war by default, a cause with which to bludgeon his predecessor's foray into Iraq.

All this plays out under the gaze of an Islamic world that is coming to a consensus that a discernible American retreat in the region is in the works. America's enemies are increasingly brazen, its friends unnerved. Witness the hapless Lebanese, once wards of U.S. power, now making pilgrimages, one leader at a time, to Damascus. They, too, can read the wind: If Washington is out to "engage" that terrible lot in Syria, they better scurry there to secure reasonable terms of surrender.

The shadow of American power is receding; the rogues are emboldened. The world has a way of calling the bluff of leaders and nations summoned to difficult endeavors. Would that our biggest source of worry in that arc of trouble was the intemperate outburst of our ally in Kabul.

Mr. Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is the author of "The Foreigner's Gift" (Free Press, 2007).
24012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan on: April 09, 2010, 08:46:42 AM
Noonan has disappointed not infrequently in the last few years.  Here she begins to recapture form:

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

By PEGGY NOOONAN
Like all Americans, I continue to seek to understand exactly what moods, facts, assumptions, dynamics, agendas and structures underlay and made possible the crash and the great recession.

We do this so that we will be able to bring our gained wisdom into the future and keep another crash from happening, should we ever have another bubble to precede it. We also do it so that we know who to hate.

That's why this week's Financial Industry Inquiry Commission hearings were so exciting, such a public service. The testimony of Charles Prince, former CEO of Citigroup, a too-big-to-fail bank that received $45 billion in bailouts and $300 billion in taxpayer guarantees, was riveting. You've seen it on the news, but if you were watching it live on C-Span, the stark power of his brutal candor was breathtaking. This, as you know, is what he said:

"Let's be real. This is what happened the past 10 years. You, for political reasons, both Republicans and Democrats, finagled the mortgage system so that people who make, like, zero dollars a year were given mortgages for $600,000 houses. You got to run around and crow about how under your watch everyone became a homeowner. You shook down the taxpayer and hoped for the best.

."Democrats did it because they thought it would make everyone Democrats: 'Look what I give you!' Republicans did it because they thought it would make everyone Republicans: 'I'm a homeowner, I've got a stake, don't raise my property taxes, get off my lawn!' And Wall Street? We went to town, baby. We bundled the mortgages and sold them to fools, or we held them, called them assets, and made believe everyone would pay their mortgage. As if we cared. We invented financial instruments so complicated no one, even the people who sold them, understood what they were.

"You're finaglers and we're finaglers. I play for dollars, you play for votes. In our own ways we're all thieves. We would be called desperadoes if we weren't so boring, so utterly banal in our soft-jawed, full-jowled selfishness. If there were any justice, we'd be forced to duel, with the peasants of America holding our cloaks. Only we'd both make sure we missed, wouldn't we?"

OK, Charles Prince didn't say that. Just wanted to get your blood going. Mr. Prince would never say something so dramatic and intemperate. I made it up. It wasn't on the news because it didn't happen.

It would be kind of a breath of fresh air though, wouldn't it?

In fact, the hearings weren't dramatic but a tepid affair, gentle and genteel. The commission members—economists, lawyers, former officeholders—actually made me miss congressmen, who can at least be relied on to emote and act out the indignation of the citizenry as they understand the citizenry. As an investigative style this isn't pretty and usually isn't even sincere, but it can jar witnesses into revealing, either deliberately or by accident, who they really are and what they really think.

At this week's hearings, the questioners often spoke the impenetrable financial language of the witnesses. The leveraged capital arbitrage of the lowest CDOs were subject to the supersenior subprime exposure, as opposed to the triple-A seniors, right? The witnesses—former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan on Wednesday, Mr. Prince and former Treasury secretary and Citigroup chairman Robert Rubin on Thursday—were, in their testimony, obviously anxious not to be the evening's soundbite. Nobody wants to be the face of a bailout. This is where famous and important people being grilled hide now: in boringness, in an opacity of language so thick that following them is actually impossible. The testimony reminded me of an observation in Michael Lewis's "The Big Short," his study of what happened on Wall Street and why:

"Language served a different purpose inside the bond market than it did in the outside world. Bond market terminology was designed less to convey meaning than to bewilder outsiders. . . . The floors of subprime mortgage bonds were not called floors—or anything else that might lead the bond buyer to form any sort of concrete image in his mind—but tranches. The bottom tranche—the risky ground floor—was not called the ground floor but the mezzanine . . . which made it sound less like a dangerous investment and more like a highly prized seat in a domed stadium." In short, "The subprime mortgage market had a special talent for obscuring what needed to be clarified."

Which is what the hearings were like.

By Thursday afternoon I couldn't figure out why they'd been held. They couldn't have been aimed at informing the citizenry. Even the tone was strange, marked by a kind of weird delicacy, a daintiness of approach, a courtesy so elaborate I thought at some points commission members were spoofing each other. "Thank you so much for appearing," "I'm so grateful for that insight." Guys, there's a war on.

I want to pick out some memorable moments, but I can't really quote them because they resist quotation.

So I'll translate.

On Wednesday, Mr. Greenspan said it's easy to look back and see your mistakes, but what is to be gained by endless self-examination? It's tempting to be self-critical, but self-criticism can become self-indulgence. Systems are complex; human decision-making is shaped by the endless fact of human fallibility. I didn't do anything wrong, and neither did Ayn Rand by the way, but next time you might try more regulation.

On Thursday Chairman Phil Angelides to Messrs. Prince and Rubin: I like you, do you like me? But we don't like undersecuritized trilevel tranches, do we?

More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns

click here to order her new book, Patriotic Grace
.At one point commissioner Bill Thomas, a Republican former congressman from California, almost got an intelligent question out. It started as: How did you guys get to the top and run the show and not know what was going on below you? But Mr. Thomas got stuck in the muck of synthetic product securitized assets and then lost his thread, to the extent he had a thread. He began to ask Mr. Prince about his famous dancing quote: "As long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance," Mr. Prince had said in 2007. But Mr. Thomas asked his question so meekly—it was an "alleged quote" and maybe it was misunderstood by the press, which is always misunderstanding things. Then Mr. Thomas suddenly wasn't asking that, but asking if it would be nice if in the future bankers "have a structure," a stronger federal regulatory structure, though we probably shouldn't have one if we don't need it, but maybe we do, to sort of stop people like you, not that people like you should be stopped in any way.

Mr. Prince seized on this to say the dancing quote was taken out of context: He'd been talking about liquidity. Ah. Well, that takes the sting out of that one.

From a commission member: The American people have experienced a 30% fall in housing values. Do you know why?

Mr. Prince: Yes, we haven't had such a decline "since the Great Depression." The reason is before the crash there was "a bubble." There was too much "easy money." Then the bubble popped.

Thank you, Sherlock.

The takeaway, as they say, of the whole event, was more or less this:

Citigroup testifiers: We didn't do anything particularly wrong, and what happened is all so sad, isn't it? Sad, subprimed and tranched.

Commission: Yes, all so sad and tragic. Somebody's head should roll. I like your tie.

Can't we do better than this?
24013  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: April 09, 2010, 08:42:52 AM
Thank you, good tips.
24014  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: April 09, 2010, 08:42:00 AM
I suppose, but I am a busy man with many claims on my time.  Teaching, training, family life, business matters, this forum  cheesy etc.

Though I am enjoying the training greatly, it is not easy finding the extra hours for the training involved for this tracking course already.  It took me three hours to walk the 9 miles on Tuesday-- and I am adding a mile a week until I hit 12 miles- which will be 4 hours.  The simple fact is I am not going to add lots of driving time on to what I am doing already.
24015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: April 09, 2010, 08:28:08 AM
I just took a look there.  It was a quick one, but my initial impression is that several of the citiations are from sites that do not seem reliable.
24016  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: What's not happening on: April 09, 2010, 08:22:11 AM
By DOROTHY RABINOWITZ
It can't have come as a surprise that one of the now entrenched myths about America—namely, its ongoing victimization of Muslims—should have been voiced again by a leading citizen of our myth-producing capital, Hollywood. The citizen was Tom Hanks, and the occasion his March interview in Time Magazine in which he declared that our battle with Japan in World War II was one of "racism and terror." And that, he noted, should remind us of our current wars.

The comments caused a furor. But Mr. Hanks, who had made them during a publicity tour—he's the producer of the HBO series, "The Pacific"—saw the issue in perfectly clear terms, which he went on to explain several times more in subsequent media appearances. We can only ponder the joy this must have brought to the hearts of HBO executives.

The Hanks mini-seminar was only one of the many distortions of our still unbearably raw recent history—never mind World War II—encouraging Americans to view themselves as oppressors and racists. The latest reflection of this trend, grown steadily since the attacks of Sept. 11, came with a three-page spread in the Washington Post on March 24 about the tribulations of a Muslim soldier who reported being subjected to slurs, various other insults, and also a threatening note. His commander suggested he might do well to move to housing off base. The base in question was Fort Hood, where, last November, army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan murdered 13 fellow American soldiers.

The pain of these confrontations was undoubtedly great, as such treatment always is. Ask the members of religious and racial minorities who served, say, in World War II, when it wasn't unusual to hear slurs like "kike" and such hurled at them. Ask black Americans who had the incomparably worse experience of serving in a racially segregated military, where they were relegated to the worst duties. Not to mention being made witness—in parts of the country—to the sight of German POWs held in the U.S. eating in restaurants barred to black Americans in uniform, and otherwise being accorded respect that those Americans could not hope to receive.

Still, there were no instances of those enduring this treatment undertaking mass murder of other American servicemen. There was rage, and there were some riots, but no cases of U.S. soldiers enlisting in the service of the enemy as Maj. Hasan had. (Hasan, it was explained after he had cut down those unarmed servicemen and women packed into that room in Ft. Hood, had suffered prejudice-related pressures as a Muslim in the armed services.)

There were, in World War II, no watchdog groups like the ones cited in the Washington Post story, no agencies keeping lists of harassment complaints, or name-calling suffered by members of the U.S. military, or of the number of soldiers, like those mentioned in the story, who called crying on the phone. There were back then plenty of officers given to convenient cover-ups. But, it's a good bet, few like Maj. Hasan's superiors—so addled by raised consciousness and worries about appearing insensitive to Muslims in the service that they ignored even the most extreme expressions of his enmity to the United States and its military, his praise of suicide bombers, his jihadi contacts.

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Getty Images
 
Maj. Nidal Hasan was the recipient of too much sympathy.
.Since the events of Sept. 11, we've seen the growth of a view that American Muslims became prime victims of those terror attacks—isolated, fearful, targets of hostility. President George W. Bush, who went to Washington D.C's Islamic Center a few days after the terror assaults, told his audience that Islam was about peace and warned that the nation's Muslims must be free to go about without fear or intimidation by other Americans—remarks he doubtless thought were called for under the circumstances.

It had not, of course, been necessary to remind Americans of who they were and were not. No menacing hordes, then or later, ever threatened American Muslims—and it has been an insult to the nation to have been lectured to the same way after every attempted terror attack, as though wild mobs of citizens might actually run through the streets attacking Muslims. Even as the ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon still smoldered, countless Americans had reached out to their Muslim neighbors to reassure them.

No matter. Every report of any activity bearing resemblance to anti-Muslim sentiment became, in short order, essential news. Every actual incident, every report of a nasty sign, fitted the all-consuming theme taken up by large sectors of mainstream media: that the country's Muslims were now hapless targets, not only of the national rage at the atrocities committed by Islamic fundamentalists, but also of racism. It was a view especially well in accord with those of a generation schooled in colleges and universities where pathological extremes of sensitivity to claims of racial, religious or sexual insult or charges of gender bias are considered perfectly normal and right.

Reporters ran with the theme in part because the media's appetite for victim stories of any kind is inexhaustible. But this was, in addition, the kind journalists pride themselves on as socially responsible. It was also one that didn't lack for willing subjects. For American Muslims in considerable numbers apparently subscribed to the view that theirs was the abiding suffering that had been inflicted by the 9/11 attacks. There was no missing the steady supply of Muslims available to tell inquiring reporters of their feelings of alienation and persecution.

Each FBI terrorist sting that went awry or seemed to, each wild goose chase of a home-grown jihadi threat, spurred a new portrait of besieged American Muslims. When such plots turned out to be true, and their threat enormous—most recently in the case of Najubullah Zazi, a jihadist who planned to set explosives off in the New York subway—the portrait and the theme remained the same. Since alienated American Muslims were forced to live in fear as second-class citizens, it was explained, more and more of them chose extremism and violence. In short, whether the charges of terrorist activity were false or whether they were true, American society was to blame.


There are other faces of Muslim America. Five years or so after the terrorists drove their planes and passengers into the twin towers and the Pentagon, a cab driver from Pakistan remarked, as we drove past the rubble where the towers had stood, that he could never pass this place without trying to see them again in his mind. A painful effort, for all that it brought back. What was not painful, he added, was the memory of certain people in his neighborhood—a mixed but mostly white area of Queens, with many Italian-Americans, some Jews, and he thought some Irish. After the attacks, some of the men had come to him.

"My wife doesn't go out without a head cover," he explained. The men had come to tell him that if anyone bothered her, or his family, he must come to them.

"I must tell them and must not be afraid. Do you know," he said, in a voice suddenly sharp, "what would have happened if Americans had done this kind of attack in my country? Every American—every Christian, every non-Muslim—would have been slaughtered, blood would have run in the streets. I know the kind of country this is. Thanks be to God I can give this to my children."

Countless American Muslims would, like generations of immigrants of all kinds, say the same. Theirs, of course, is not the face of Muslim America suitable for the continuing chronicle of the victimized American Muslim.

Ms. Rabinowitz, a member of the Journal's editorial board, is the author of "No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusations, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times" (Free Press, 2003).
24017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Banks manipulate debt levels on: April 09, 2010, 08:16:11 AM
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304830104575172280848939898.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

A friend comments:

The Wall Street Journal reports major banks have masked their risk levels in the past five quarters by temporarily lowering their debt just before reporting it to the public, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

A group of 18 banks,  which includes Goldman Sachs (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC) and Citigroup (C), understated the debt levels used to fund securities trades by lowering them an average of 42% at the end of each of the past five quarterly periods, the data show. The banks, which publicly release debt data each quarter, then boosted the debt levels in the middle of successive quarters. Though some banks privately confirm that they temporarily reduce their borrowings at quarter's end, representatives at Goldman, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Citigroup declined to comment specifically on the New York Fed data. Some noted that their firm's financial filings include language saying borrowing levels can fluctuate during the quarter. According to the data, the banks' outstanding net repo borrowings at the end of each of the past five quarters were on average 42% below their peak in net borrowings in the same quarters. Though the repo market represents just a slice of banks' overall activities, it provides a window into the risks that financial institutions take to trade.

It does me; specifically, that Michael Lewis article (published in Vanity Fair). Remember how the brokerages would mark down the value of Burry's holdings at quarter's end to mask the mounting crisis in their own portfolios? Hey, if it worked then...
David
24018  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: April 09, 2010, 08:13:12 AM
SHAME! angry
=======================

POTH Editorial
Too Broken to Fix Recommend
 
April 8, 2010
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general has affirmed what sheriffs, police chiefs, civil-rights lawyers and immigrant advocates have said for years: Outsourcing immigration enforcement to an ill-trained and poorly supervised assortment of state and local law enforcement agencies creates a lot of problems.

The program, commonly known as 287(g), deputizes local authorities as federal immigration agents so they can help Immigration and Customs Enforcement capture illegal immigrants who threaten the community or national security. A new report by the inspector general instead paints a portrait of 287(g) agencies as a motley posse of deputies who don’t know Spanish, who don’t know or care about the dangers of racial profiling and who operate well beyond the control of the federal agency that they are supposed to be working for.

It found the program lacks basic safeguards like data collection and reporting requirements to ensure that deputies don’t violate civil rights. The report also found that fewer than 10 percent of its sample of captured offenders had committed serious “Level 1” crimes, and almost half had no connection at all to violence, drugs or property crimes.

The report reinforces what a leading police association and police chiefs, including William Bratton of Los Angeles, have argued strenuously — that 287(g) undermines public safety. Police officers can’t fight crimes when communities they serve fear and avoid them.

The program was barely used until anti-immigrant fervor became white-hot over the last decade. And while many police departments shun 287(g) as bad news, other jurisdictions signed on to satisfy the urge to get tough on illegal immigration. The inspector general listed 33 ways to improve the program, mainly by patching up oversight deficiencies and bolstering training. Immigration and Customs Enforcement mostly concurred, but rejected one critical recommendation: It doesn’t want to collect data on encounters between 287(g) agencies and the public, to gauge the effect on civil liberties.

We are skeptical that the 287(g) program can ever be fixed. And we are sure that the returns are too low and the costs — in abuses and undermining law enforcement — are too high to make it worth trying. The Homeland Security Department should pull the plug on 287(g).
24019  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: April 09, 2010, 08:08:28 AM
Grateful my son is coming home today from a 5 day school trip.
24020  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: April 09, 2010, 08:07:53 AM
Not much of that available where I live in Los Angeles cheesy
24021  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Digital Due Process on: April 09, 2010, 07:54:35 AM
I can't believe myself.  I am actually posting a POTH editorial approvingly  shocked

Published: April 8, 2010
The Internet has given the government powerful 21st-century tools for invading people’s privacy and monitoring their activities, but the main federal law governing online privacy is a 20th-century relic. Adopted in 1986, it has had trouble keeping up with technological advances and is now badly out of date.

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Congress has not moved to fix this problem, but a surprising coalition of major technology companies and civil liberties advocates have produced a blueprint for updating the law and both houses of Congress are poised to hold hearings. Having lawmakers proclaim their concern and ask learned questions will not be enough. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act is long past due for an upgrade.

Privacy is central to American law. And in 1986, Congress applied that principle to electronic communications by setting limits on law enforcement access to Internet and wireless technologies. It was a laudable law at the time, but cellphones were still oddities, the Internet was mostly a way for academics and researchers to exchange data and the World Wide Web that is an everyday part of most Americans’ lives did not exist.

The law is no longer comprehensive enough to cover the many kinds of intrusions made possible by the advances of the past 24 years. In the absence of strong federal law, the courts have been adrift on many important Internet privacy issues. The law is not clear on when search warrants are required for the government to read stored e-mail, what legal standards apply to GPS technology that tracks people’s whereabouts in real time and other critical questions.

Digital Due Process — a coalition that includes Google, Microsoft, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union — recently proposed a good set of principles for addressing those issues. The coalition recommends that all private data not voluntarily made public, such as stored e-mail or private financial data, should be as protected as data in a person’s home. To get it, the government should need a search warrant.

For locational data — information about where a person has physically been, or currently is — the coalition also recommends that a search warrant be required. That would clear up a murky area of the law in which courts have reached different conclusions about information obtained through GPS devices, cellphone towers and other technologies.

The coalition argues that when federal law authorizes a subpoena for customer data, it should be limited to information about a particular individual or individuals. This would prevent fishing expeditions, such as a request for data on everyone who visited a particular Web site on a given day.

The coalition’s recommendations do not address other important Internet privacy issues that involve the ability of private companies to monitor and record their users’ behavior. They also sidestep questions about how accessible data should be to private litigants, such as one company suing another. The recommendations do not include requirements that companies report on the personal data they are collecting and storing — a kind of transparency that customers should be entitled to.

Despite that, the Digital Due Process has gotten this much-needed discussion off to a strong start and set the bar high for hearings by the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
24022  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 08, 2010, 07:56:06 PM
It looks like we just got notified by our provider, Anthem Blue Cross, (yes those folks) that our rates are going up 100%. angry shocked angry

Our agent had told us we were guaranteed the rate we had for many more months.  He is out of town until Monday, at which point we will seek clarification.

If this turns out to be what it appears to be, it is a real hard hit for our family.
24023  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: April 08, 2010, 07:51:37 PM
Interesting.

I heard today that the Reps are drafting a new "Contract with America". 
24024  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: April 08, 2010, 04:12:50 PM
Uh , , , care to flesh that out a bit?  cheesy
24025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: April 08, 2010, 04:05:30 PM
Some valid points made therein.
24026  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: April 08, 2010, 04:03:05 PM
Mexico and the Failed State Revisited
April 6, 2010




By George Friedman

STRATFOR argued March 13, 2008, that Mexico was nearing the status of a failed state. A failed state is one in which the central government has lost control over significant areas of the country and the state is unable to function. In revisiting this issue, it seems to us that the Mexican government has lost control of the northern tier of Mexico to drug-smuggling organizations, which have significantly greater power in that region than government forces. Moreover, the ability of the central government to assert its will against these organizations has weakened to the point that decisions made by the state against the cartels are not being implemented or are being implemented in a way that would guarantee failure.

Despite these facts, it is not clear to STRATFOR that Mexico is becoming a failed state. Instead, it appears the Mexican state has accommodated itself to the situation. Rather than failing, it has developed strategies designed both to ride out the storm and to maximize the benefits of that storm for Mexico.

First, while the Mexican government has lost control over matters having to do with drugs and with the borderlands of the United States, Mexico City’s control over other regions — and over areas other than drug enforcement — has not collapsed (though its lack of control over drugs could well extend to other areas eventually). Second, while drugs reshape Mexican institutions dramatically, they also, paradoxically, stabilize Mexico. We need to examine these crosscurrents to understand the status of Mexico.

Mexico’s Core Problem
Let’s begin by understanding the core problem. The United States consumes vast amounts of narcotics, which, while illegal there, make their way in abundance. Narcotics derive from low-cost agricultural products that become consumable with minimal processing. With its long, shared border with the United States, Mexico has become a major grower, processor and exporter of narcotics. Because the drugs are illegal and thus outside normal market processes, their price is determined by their illegality rather than by the cost of production. This means extraordinary profits can be made by moving narcotics from the Mexican side of the border to markets on the other side.

Whoever controls the supply chain from the fields to the processing facilities and, above all, across the border, will make enormous amounts of money. Various Mexican organizations — labeled cartels, although they do not truly function as such, since real cartels involve at least a degree of cooperation among producers, not open warfare — vie for this business. These are competing businesses, each with its own competing supply chain.

Typically, competition among businesses involves lowering prices and increasing quality. This would produce small, incremental shifts in profits on the whole while dramatically reducing prices. An increased market share would compensate for lower prices. Similarly, lawsuits are the normal solution to unfair competition. But neither is the case with regard to illegal goods.

The surest way to increase smuggling profits is not through market mechanisms but by taking over competitors’ supply chains. Given the profit margins involved, persons wanting to control drug supply chains would be irrational to buy, since the lower-cost solution would be to take control of these supply chains by force. Thus, each smuggling organization has an attached paramilitary organization designed to protect its own supply chain and to seize its competitors’ supply chains.

The result is ongoing warfare between competing organizations. Given the amount of money being made in delivering their product to American cities, these paramilitary organizations are well-armed, well-led and well-motivated. Membership in such paramilitary groups offers impoverished young men extraordinary opportunities for making money, far greater than would be available to them in legitimate activities.

The raging war in Mexico derives logically from the existence of markets for narcotics in the United States; the low cost of the materials and processes required to produce these products; and the extraordinarily favorable economics of moving narcotics across the border. This warfare is concentrated on the Mexican side of the border. But from the Mexican point of view, this warfare does not fundamentally threaten Mexico’s interests.

A Struggle Far From the Mexican Heartland
The heartland of Mexico is to the south, far from the country’s northern tier. The north is largely a sparsely populated highland desert region seen from Mexico City as an alien borderland intertwined with the United States as much as it is part of Mexico. Accordingly, the war raging there doesn’t represent a direct threat to the survival of the Mexican regime.





(click here to enlarge image)
Indeed, what the wars are being fought over in some ways benefits Mexico. The amount of money pouring into Mexico annually is stunning. It is estimated to be about $35 billion to $40 billion each year. The massive profit margins involved make these sums even more significant. Assume that the manufacturing sector produces revenues of $40 billion a year through exports. Assuming a generous 10 percent profit margin, actual profits would be $4 billion a year. In the case of narcotics, however, profit margins are conservatively estimated to stand at around 80 percent. The net from $40 billion would be $32 billion; to produce equivalent income in manufacturing, exports would have to total $320 billion.

In estimating the impact of drug money on Mexico, it must therefore be borne in mind that drugs cannot be compared to any conventional export. The drug trade’s tremendously high profit margins mean its total impact on Mexico vastly outstrips even the estimated total sales, even if the margins shifted substantially.

On the whole, Mexico is a tremendous beneficiary of the drug trade. Even if some of the profits are invested overseas, the pool of remaining money flowing into Mexico creates tremendous liquidity in the Mexican economy at a time of global recession. It is difficult to trace where the drug money is going, which follows from its illegality. Certainly, drug dealers would want their money in a jurisdiction where it could not be easily seized even if tracked. U.S. asset seizure laws for drug trafficking make the United States an unlikely haven. Though money clearly flows out of Mexico, the ability of the smugglers to influence the behavior of the Mexican government by investing some of it makes Mexico a likely destination for a substantial portion of such funds.

The money does not, however, flow back into the hands of the gunmen shooting it out on the border; even their bosses couldn’t manage funds of that magnitude. And while money can be — and often is — baled up and hidden, the value of money is in its use. As with illegal money everywhere, the goal is to wash it and invest it in legitimate enterprises where it can produce more money. That means it has to enter the economy through legitimate institutions — banks and other financial entities — and then be redeployed into the economy. This is no different from the American Mafia’s practice during and after Prohibition.

The Drug War and Mexican National Interests
From Mexico’s point of view, interrupting the flow of drugs to the United States is not clearly in the national interest or in that of the economic elite. Observers often dwell on the warfare between smuggling organizations in the northern borderland but rarely on the flow of American money into Mexico. Certainly, that money could corrupt the Mexican state, but it also behaves as money does. It is accumulated and invested, where it generates wealth and jobs.

For the Mexican government to become willing to shut off this flow of money, the violence would have to become far more geographically widespread. And given the difficulty of ending the traffic anyway — and that many in the state security and military apparatus benefit from it — an obvious conclusion can be drawn: Namely, it is difficult to foresee scenarios in which the Mexican government could or would stop the drug trade. Instead, Mexico will accept both the pain and the benefits of the drug trade.

Mexico’s policy is consistent: It makes every effort to appear to be stopping the drug trade so that it will not be accused of supporting it. The government does not object to disrupting one or more of the smuggling groups, so long as the aggregate inflow of cash does not materially decline. It demonstrates to the United States efforts (albeit inadequate) to tackle the trade, while pointing out very real problems with its military and security apparatus and with its officials in Mexico City. It simultaneously points to the United States as the cause of the problem, given Washington’s failure to control demand or to reduce prices by legalization. And if massive amounts of money pour into Mexico as a result of this U.S. failure, Mexico is not going to refuse it.

The problem with the Mexican military or police is not lack of training or equipment. It is not a lack of leadership. These may be problems, but they are only problems if they interfere with implementing Mexican national policy. The problem is that these forces are personally unmotivated to take the risks needed to be effective because they benefit more from being ineffective. This isn’t incompetence but a rational national policy.

Moreover, Mexico has deep historic grievances toward the United States dating back to the Mexican-American War. These have been exacerbated by U.S. immigration policy that the Mexicans see both as insulting and as a threat to their policy of exporting surplus labor north. There is thus no desire to solve the Americans’ problem. Certainly, there are individuals in the Mexican government who wish to stop the smuggling and the inflow of billions of dollars. They will try. But they will not succeed, as too much is at stake. One must ignore public statements and earnest private assurances and instead observe the facts on the ground to understand what’s really going on.

The U.S. Strategic Problem
And this leaves the United States with a strategic problem. There is some talk in Mexico City and Washington of the Americans becoming involved in suppression of the smuggling within Mexico (even though the cartels, to use that strange name, make certain not to engage in significant violence north of the border and mask it when they do to reduce U.S. pressure on Mexico). This is certainly something the Mexicans would be attracted to. But it is unclear that the Americans would be any more successful than the Mexicans. What is clear is that any U.S. intervention would turn Mexican drug traffickers into patriots fighting yet another Yankee incursion. Recall that Pershing never caught Pancho Villa, but he did help turn Villa into a national hero in Mexico.

The United States has a number of choices. It could accept the status quo. It could figure out how to reduce drug demand in the United States while keeping drugs illegal. It could legalize drugs, thereby driving their price down and ending the motivation for smuggling. And it could move into Mexico in a bid to impose its will against a government, banking system and police and military force that benefit from the drug trade.

The United States does not know how to reduce demand for drugs. The United States is not prepared to legalize drugs. This means the choice lies between the status quo and a complex and uncertain (to say the least) intervention. We suspect the United States will attempt some limited variety of the latter, while in effect following the current strategy and living with the problem.

Ultimately, Mexico is a failed state only if you accept the idea that its goal is to crush the smugglers. If, on the other hand, one accepts the idea that all of Mexican society benefits from the inflow of billions of American dollars (even though it also pays a price), then the Mexican state has not failed — it is following a rational strategy to turn a national problem into a national benefit.

24027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: April 08, 2010, 03:51:38 PM
I think this gets it right:

Mexico and the Failed State Revisited
April 6, 2010




By George Friedman

STRATFOR argued March 13, 2008, that Mexico was nearing the status of a failed state. A failed state is one in which the central government has lost control over significant areas of the country and the state is unable to function. In revisiting this issue, it seems to us that the Mexican government has lost control of the northern tier of Mexico to drug-smuggling organizations, which have significantly greater power in that region than government forces. Moreover, the ability of the central government to assert its will against these organizations has weakened to the point that decisions made by the state against the cartels are not being implemented or are being implemented in a way that would guarantee failure.

Despite these facts, it is not clear to STRATFOR that Mexico is becoming a failed state. Instead, it appears the Mexican state has accommodated itself to the situation. Rather than failing, it has developed strategies designed both to ride out the storm and to maximize the benefits of that storm for Mexico.

First, while the Mexican government has lost control over matters having to do with drugs and with the borderlands of the United States, Mexico City’s control over other regions — and over areas other than drug enforcement — has not collapsed (though its lack of control over drugs could well extend to other areas eventually). Second, while drugs reshape Mexican institutions dramatically, they also, paradoxically, stabilize Mexico. We need to examine these crosscurrents to understand the status of Mexico.

Mexico’s Core Problem
Let’s begin by understanding the core problem. The United States consumes vast amounts of narcotics, which, while illegal there, make their way in abundance. Narcotics derive from low-cost agricultural products that become consumable with minimal processing. With its long, shared border with the United States, Mexico has become a major grower, processor and exporter of narcotics. Because the drugs are illegal and thus outside normal market processes, their price is determined by their illegality rather than by the cost of production. This means extraordinary profits can be made by moving narcotics from the Mexican side of the border to markets on the other side.

Whoever controls the supply chain from the fields to the processing facilities and, above all, across the border, will make enormous amounts of money. Various Mexican organizations — labeled cartels, although they do not truly function as such, since real cartels involve at least a degree of cooperation among producers, not open warfare — vie for this business. These are competing businesses, each with its own competing supply chain.

Typically, competition among businesses involves lowering prices and increasing quality. This would produce small, incremental shifts in profits on the whole while dramatically reducing prices. An increased market share would compensate for lower prices. Similarly, lawsuits are the normal solution to unfair competition. But neither is the case with regard to illegal goods.

The surest way to increase smuggling profits is not through market mechanisms but by taking over competitors’ supply chains. Given the profit margins involved, persons wanting to control drug supply chains would be irrational to buy, since the lower-cost solution would be to take control of these supply chains by force. Thus, each smuggling organization has an attached paramilitary organization designed to protect its own supply chain and to seize its competitors’ supply chains.

The result is ongoing warfare between competing organizations. Given the amount of money being made in delivering their product to American cities, these paramilitary organizations are well-armed, well-led and well-motivated. Membership in such paramilitary groups offers impoverished young men extraordinary opportunities for making money, far greater than would be available to them in legitimate activities.

The raging war in Mexico derives logically from the existence of markets for narcotics in the United States; the low cost of the materials and processes required to produce these products; and the extraordinarily favorable economics of moving narcotics across the border. This warfare is concentrated on the Mexican side of the border. But from the Mexican point of view, this warfare does not fundamentally threaten Mexico’s interests.

A Struggle Far From the Mexican Heartland
The heartland of Mexico is to the south, far from the country’s northern tier. The north is largely a sparsely populated highland desert region seen from Mexico City as an alien borderland intertwined with the United States as much as it is part of Mexico. Accordingly, the war raging there doesn’t represent a direct threat to the survival of the Mexican regime.





(click here to enlarge image)
Indeed, what the wars are being fought over in some ways benefits Mexico. The amount of money pouring into Mexico annually is stunning. It is estimated to be about $35 billion to $40 billion each year. The massive profit margins involved make these sums even more significant. Assume that the manufacturing sector produces revenues of $40 billion a year through exports. Assuming a generous 10 percent profit margin, actual profits would be $4 billion a year. In the case of narcotics, however, profit margins are conservatively estimated to stand at around 80 percent. The net from $40 billion would be $32 billion; to produce equivalent income in manufacturing, exports would have to total $320 billion.

In estimating the impact of drug money on Mexico, it must therefore be borne in mind that drugs cannot be compared to any conventional export. The drug trade’s tremendously high profit margins mean its total impact on Mexico vastly outstrips even the estimated total sales, even if the margins shifted substantially.

On the whole, Mexico is a tremendous beneficiary of the drug trade. Even if some of the profits are invested overseas, the pool of remaining money flowing into Mexico creates tremendous liquidity in the Mexican economy at a time of global recession. It is difficult to trace where the drug money is going, which follows from its illegality. Certainly, drug dealers would want their money in a jurisdiction where it could not be easily seized even if tracked. U.S. asset seizure laws for drug trafficking make the United States an unlikely haven. Though money clearly flows out of Mexico, the ability of the smugglers to influence the behavior of the Mexican government by investing some of it makes Mexico a likely destination for a substantial portion of such funds.

The money does not, however, flow back into the hands of the gunmen shooting it out on the border; even their bosses couldn’t manage funds of that magnitude. And while money can be — and often is — baled up and hidden, the value of money is in its use. As with illegal money everywhere, the goal is to wash it and invest it in legitimate enterprises where it can produce more money. That means it has to enter the economy through legitimate institutions — banks and other financial entities — and then be redeployed into the economy. This is no different from the American Mafia’s practice during and after Prohibition.

The Drug War and Mexican National Interests
From Mexico’s point of view, interrupting the flow of drugs to the United States is not clearly in the national interest or in that of the economic elite. Observers often dwell on the warfare between smuggling organizations in the northern borderland but rarely on the flow of American money into Mexico. Certainly, that money could corrupt the Mexican state, but it also behaves as money does. It is accumulated and invested, where it generates wealth and jobs.

For the Mexican government to become willing to shut off this flow of money, the violence would have to become far more geographically widespread. And given the difficulty of ending the traffic anyway — and that many in the state security and military apparatus benefit from it — an obvious conclusion can be drawn: Namely, it is difficult to foresee scenarios in which the Mexican government could or would stop the drug trade. Instead, Mexico will accept both the pain and the benefits of the drug trade.

Mexico’s policy is consistent: It makes every effort to appear to be stopping the drug trade so that it will not be accused of supporting it. The government does not object to disrupting one or more of the smuggling groups, so long as the aggregate inflow of cash does not materially decline. It demonstrates to the United States efforts (albeit inadequate) to tackle the trade, while pointing out very real problems with its military and security apparatus and with its officials in Mexico City. It simultaneously points to the United States as the cause of the problem, given Washington’s failure to control demand or to reduce prices by legalization. And if massive amounts of money pour into Mexico as a result of this U.S. failure, Mexico is not going to refuse it.

The problem with the Mexican military or police is not lack of training or equipment. It is not a lack of leadership. These may be problems, but they are only problems if they interfere with implementing Mexican national policy. The problem is that these forces are personally unmotivated to take the risks needed to be effective because they benefit more from being ineffective. This isn’t incompetence but a rational national policy.

Moreover, Mexico has deep historic grievances toward the United States dating back to the Mexican-American War. These have been exacerbated by U.S. immigration policy that the Mexicans see both as insulting and as a threat to their policy of exporting surplus labor north. There is thus no desire to solve the Americans’ problem. Certainly, there are individuals in the Mexican government who wish to stop the smuggling and the inflow of billions of dollars. They will try. But they will not succeed, as too much is at stake. One must ignore public statements and earnest private assurances and instead observe the facts on the ground to understand what’s really going on.

The U.S. Strategic Problem
And this leaves the United States with a strategic problem. There is some talk in Mexico City and Washington of the Americans becoming involved in suppression of the smuggling within Mexico (even though the cartels, to use that strange name, make certain not to engage in significant violence north of the border and mask it when they do to reduce U.S. pressure on Mexico). This is certainly something the Mexicans would be attracted to. But it is unclear that the Americans would be any more successful than the Mexicans. What is clear is that any U.S. intervention would turn Mexican drug traffickers into patriots fighting yet another Yankee incursion. Recall that Pershing never caught Pancho Villa, but he did help turn Villa into a national hero in Mexico.

The United States has a number of choices. It could accept the status quo. It could figure out how to reduce drug demand in the United States while keeping drugs illegal. It could legalize drugs, thereby driving their price down and ending the motivation for smuggling. And it could move into Mexico in a bid to impose its will against a government, banking system and police and military force that benefit from the drug trade.

The United States does not know how to reduce demand for drugs. The United States is not prepared to legalize drugs. This means the choice lies between the status quo and a complex and uncertain (to say the least) intervention. We suspect the United States will attempt some limited variety of the latter, while in effect following the current strategy and living with the problem.

Ultimately, Mexico is a failed state only if you accept the idea that its goal is to crush the smugglers. If, on the other hand, one accepts the idea that all of Mexican society benefits from the inflow of billions of American dollars (even though it also pays a price), then the Mexican state has not failed — it is following a rational strategy to turn a national problem into a national benefit.

24028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Smoking in the boys room ain't allowed in school on: April 07, 2010, 10:55:32 PM


http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/04/07/air-marshals-reportedly-stop-attempted-shoe-bomb-attack/
24029  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Guro Crafty in Tolmin, Slovenia 6/26-27 on: April 07, 2010, 08:37:15 PM

WARRIOR TRIBES CAMP 2010

After a huge success over the past few years, Ryukyu kempo Slovenia (RKSI) and Slovenian Kempo Arnis Federation (KAF), are organizing the 3rd Warrior tribes camp, held in the beautiful Tolmin, Slovenia, Europe. The camp will be from June 25-27th 2010.

Warrior Tribes Camp is devoted to all martial artists, seeking truth in combat and realistic applications of their training.

All ‘’modern combatives’’, modern street effective tactics, originate deeply from traditional sources, holding the key to correct and advanced combat applications. Warrior tribes camp will capitalize on traditional martial arts, their original goal and purpose, seeking answers to 21st century conflict scenarios, enabling practitioners from any eclectic or traditional martial art to upgrade their traditional training, self defense and combat skills to an even higher level.


Seminar will be conducted under Borut Kincl, head shihan of the Kempo Arnis Federation .

- http://www.rksi.net/video/demonstracija_anglija_07.wmv
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNBqj3hllVg


Guest instructors will include:

Marc  "Crafty Dog" Denny is "the Guiding Force" of the Dog Brothers and Head Instructor of Dog Brothers Martial Arts (DBMA). Guro Crafty is a long time student of some of the finest teachers in the world including Guro Dan Inosanto, Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje (Pekiti Tersia Kali), Punong Guro Edgar Sulite (Lameco Eskrima), Rigan Machado and others. Famous for his unparalleled stick fighting skills, he is also the founder of "Kali Tudo" (c) a blend of Filipino Kali and Brazilian "Vale Tudo" (the pre-UFC Brazilian version of MMA)

DBMA is a Filipino based "system of many styles".  It also draws from Krabi Krabong (the military weaponry forerunner to Muay Thai), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Silat, Bando and others. With some 140 real stick fights to his credit, Marc Denny and the Dog Brothers hold an undisputed resume in the martial arts world, considered to be ‘’too extreme’’ even for the UFC. During the 3 days seminar, Guro Crafty will bring a rare combination of his high quality training, teaching and fight experience. Something not to be missed!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5KkPcMUN_Q&feature=related


Avi Nardia, is head instructor of Avi Nardia KAPAP combatives. He is a former intelligence team member of unit YAMAM, Israel's premier counterterror takeover unit. As a member of the intelligence team and as the instructor CQB-Defensive Tactics (known in Hebrew as KAPAP-Krav Panim El Panim), which means face-to-face combat, Avi was exposed to many different tactics, training and dangerous situations. Head instructor of Avi Nardia Kapap combatives he possesses enormous knowledge in traditional martial arts as well as modern combatives.

- http://www.rksi.net/video/Kapap%20seminar%20Avi.wmv

Yuval Nachamkin,is one of the co-founders of Israel Combat systems and one of the leading Israel authorities on Philippino martial arts. He will be teaching advanced methods of knife fighting.

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxN8voSzwqU


Amit Porat is the founder of Israel Military Krav maga, which is the leading professional Krav Maga training organization serving military, police, counter-terrorism, and other security organizations including civilian commercial security organizations and private security organizations. Teaching IDF, VIP security, border patrol as well as security units outside Israel, he possesses great skills and charisma on how to teach authentic Israel martial arts. Amit will be teaching along side with Ravid Schimko.

- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY9kukiwWFo


Held at the beautiful Adrenalin park in Tolmin, Slovenia, many outdoor activities will be available, including rafting, canyoning, bungee jumping,…
BBC announced the park as one of top 6 places in the world to visit.

Pictures and TV report form last years camp:

- http://24ur.com/novice/slovenija/specialci-na-urjenju-v-tolminu.html?ar=
- http://www.rksi.net/default.cfm?Jezik=Sl&Kat=02&Page=1&Rows=10&ID=27



Schedule:
- Friday afternoon: starts at 3 pm, (dinner)
- Saturday: whole day seminar, lunch break, Tribal challenge (stick fighting competition)
(breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- Sunday: morning training, afternoon time for rafting, canyoning, trips … (breakfast, lunch)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Equipment needed:
sports pants - t –shirt or kimono, pants, sports shoes, boxing or grappling gloves, rattan sticks, training knife, groin and teeth protection



Sleeping:
Renovated hotel with two or three people per room. Food (3 meals per day) is included.

http://www.hotel-krn.com/

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

Prices:
- seminar, room and board, food: 220€
(applications until 25.5.2010)
- room and board only, not attending seminar (spouses): 100€

- other arrangements, contact: ervin@rksi.net

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

Please send your applications to:
ERVIN: ervin@rksi.net (general secretar of KAF)

General questions:
BORUT: borut@rksi.net

Places are limited.
After May 31st, no further applications will be accepted.



FOREIGN VISITORS: PLEASE CONTACT US, WE WILL HELP YOU ORGANISE TRANSPORT TO HOTEL AND VENUE FROM LJUBLJANA (LJU) AIRPORT.
If you are interested to prolong your stay in Slovenia, please ask ervin@rksi.net. We will give you all the info on hotels, car rentals,….



REPRESENT YOUR TRIBE AND JOIN US IN SLOVENIA FOR ONE OF THE PREMIUM MARTIAL ARTS EVENTS IN EUROPE THIS SUMMER.


BORUT KINCL, president KAF
24030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Now, here's a surprise on: April 07, 2010, 04:44:29 PM
I don’t understand.  If Obamacare is going to save us all this money, why do we need another tax?  I’m confused.  Someone please explain it to me without using Obamaspeak.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/07/obama-economic-adviser-says-consider-value-added-tax/

Updated April 07, 2010

Obama Economic Adviser Says U.S. Should Consider 'Value Added Tax'
NYPost.com

Acknowledging it would be a highly unpopular move, White House economic adviser Paul Volcker said yesterday the United States should consider imposing a "value added tax" similar to those charged in Europe to help get the deficit under control.  A VAT is a national sales tax that, like state and city sales taxes, would be collected by retailers.

Volcker, at the New-York Historical Society, told a panel on the global financial crisis that Congress might also have to consider new taxes on carbon and energy.

The VAT suggestion was immediately met with outrage by Republicans.

"It shouldn't surprise anyone that the Obama White House would advocate a European-style tax to help finance their European-style government health-care plan," said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Click here for more on this story from the New York Post.
24031  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Heroic action on: April 07, 2010, 04:36:13 PM


This is an unbelievable story. The video  is incredible. This  story is about  PVT Channing  Moss, who  was impaled by a live RPG during a Taliban  ambush  while on patrol.  Army protocol says that  medevac  choppers are never to carry anyone with a  live round in   him.  Even though they feared it could explode,  the  flight crew ignored the protocol and flew him to the  nearest aid  station. Again, protocol said that in  such a  case the patient is to be put in  sandbagged area  away from the  surgical unit, given a shot of  morphine and left  to wait  (and die) until others are treated. Again,  the medical  team ignored the protocol. Here's a   seven-minute video put together by the Military Times,  which  includes actual footage of the surgery,  where Dr. John  Oh, a  Korean immigrant who became a naturalized citizen  and went  to West Point,  removed the live round with the help  of  volunteers and a member of the EOD (explosive  ordinance disposal)  team.
 
 
Click  link  below:
 
 
http://www.militarytimes.com/multimedia/video/rpg_surgery/
24032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues on: April 07, 2010, 12:55:45 AM
Agreed.
24033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Foreclosures are rising on: April 06, 2010, 09:55:11 PM
Foreclosures Are Rising
By: Diana Olick
The new foreclosure wave is here.

Yes, banks are ramping up loan modifications and ramping up short sales and ramping up deeds in lieu of foreclosure, but the plain fact is that as the systems are oiled, the loans are moving through faster, and the pig in the python is showing its face.

We won't get the numbers until next week, but sources tell me they will likely be a new monthly record. Tens of thousands of loans have been hitting the "notice of trustee sale" bin, and that means they are coming to foreclosure.  The actual foreclosure numbers have been down recently because of all the modification efforts, but as we see more loans not qualifying for modifications and more loans defaulting on modifications, the foreclosure numbers rise.

And this is just the beginning.

All the uniform policies and practices that the government has put in place, whether on modifications or short sales, will quicken the process. Foreclosures, which can now take 2 years plus to complete, will happen in less than a year, start to finish.

Clearly the Administration knew of the impending rise in foreclosures, as it revamped its modification, refinance and short sale programs last month, increasing incentives all around and pushing for principal write down. The big question of course is how will the new wave affect home prices, especially in the hardest hit markets.


I pushed Fannie Mae's chief economist Doug Duncan on this in an interview today on the mortgage giant's new National Housing Survey. He cited the over 5 million mortgages out there that are seriously delinquent, and said that while the 30-day delinquencies seem to have peaked, "certainly some of the foreclosure backlogs are working their way through the system at this point." He also said home prices will dip again before hitting bottom later this year.

Yesterday we saw a big bump in the Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index, but my sources tell me that was largely driven by contracts on short sales, which have a far lower rate of closing than regular sale contracts. Estimates are that only about 35 percent of short sale contracts go to closing versus 80 percent of conventional sale contracts.


The home buyer tax credit deadline is 24 days away, and that is pushing some of the numbers up, but not as much as some had hoped.

Credit Suisse's Dan Oppenheim noted an uptick in buyer traffic in March thanks to the credit, but his survey of real estate agents found, "buyers remain hesitant due to employment concerns. Most of the demand occurred at the low-end of the market."
http://www.cnbc.com/id/36195838
24034  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Head Count for the Tribal Gathering on: April 06, 2010, 09:47:08 PM
19:  Whoops! I see Cyborg's name inadvertently got dropped.  Due to a neck injury, he will not be fighting.
24035  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Head Count for the Tribal Gathering on: April 06, 2010, 08:20:23 PM
Another Hip Pocket?   cool cool cool

1: Crafty Dog: Ringmaster

2: Lonely Dog

3: Guide Dog

4: Doc Kaju as EMT


5: C-Growling Dog

6: Tyler Morin

7: Tinu "c - 3D Dog"

 8. Tricky Dog

 9. Chris Goard

10. Patrick Gagnon

11. C. Ole Fredrickson

12: Pappy Dog

13: Tennessee Dog

14: Boo Dog

15: Junkyard Dog

16: Poi Dog

17: Sled Dog

18: Sheep Dog
24036  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: April 06, 2010, 05:24:00 PM
Brooks is usually a typical liberal/progressive twit, yet there are elements in this piece worth considering:

By DAVID BROOKS
Published: April 5, 2010
According to recent polls, 60 percent of Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction. The same percentage believe that the U.S. is in long-term decline. The political system is dysfunctional. A fiscal crisis looks unavoidable. There are plenty of reasons to be gloomy.  But if you want to read about them, stop right here. This column is a great luscious orgy of optimism. Because the fact is, despite all the problems, America’s future is exceedingly bright.

Over the next 40 years, demographers estimate that the U.S. population will surge by an additional 100 million people, to 400 million over all. The population will be enterprising and relatively young. In 2050, only a quarter will be over 60, compared with 31 percent in China and 41 percent in Japan.

In his book, “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050,” über-geographer Joel Kotkin sketches out how this growth will change the national landscape. Extrapolating from current trends, he describes an archipelago of vibrant suburban town centers, villages and urban cores.

The initial wave of suburbanization was sprawling and featureless. Tom Wolfe once observed that you only knew you were in a new town when you began to see a new set of 7-Elevens. But humans need meaningful places, so developers have been filling in with neo-downtowns — suburban gathering spots where people can dine, work, go to the movies and enjoy public space.

Over the next 40 years, Kotkin argues, urban downtowns will continue their modest (and perpetually overhyped) revival, but the real action will be out in the compact, self-sufficient suburban villages. Many of these places will be in the sunbelt — the drive to move there remains strong — but Kotkin also points to surging low-cost hubs on the Plains, like Fargo, Dubuque, Iowa City, Sioux Falls, and Boise.

The demographic growth is driven partly by fertility. The American fertility rate is 50 percent higher than Russia, Germany or Japan, and much higher than China. Americans born between 1968 and 1979 are more family-oriented than the boomers before them, and are having larger families.

In addition, the U.S. remains a magnet for immigrants. Global attitudes about immigration are diverging, and the U.S. is among the best at assimilating them (while China is exceptionally poor). As a result, half the world’s skilled immigrants come to the U.S. As Kotkin notes, between 1990 and 2005, immigrants started a quarter of the new venture-backed public companies.

The United States already measures at the top or close to the top of nearly every global measure of economic competitiveness. A comprehensive 2008 Rand Corporation study found that the U.S. leads the world in scientific and technological development. The U.S. now accounts for a third of the world’s research-and-development spending. Partly as a result, the average American worker is nearly 10 times more productive than the average Chinese worker, a gap that will close but not go away in our lifetimes.

This produces a lot of dynamism. As Stephen J. Rose points out in his book “Rebound: Why America Will Emerge Stronger From the Financial Crisis,” the number of Americans earning between $35,000 and $70,000 declined by 12 percent between 1980 and 2008. But that’s largely because the number earning over $105,000 increased by 14 percent. Over the past 10 years, 60 percent of American adults made more than $100,000 in at least one or two of those years, and 40 percent had incomes that high for at least three.

As the world gets richer, demand will rise for the sorts of products Americans are great at providing — emotional experiences. Educated Americans grow up in a culture of moral materialism; they have their sensibilities honed by complicated shows like “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Mad Men,” and they go on to create companies like Apple, with identities coated in moral and psychological meaning, which affluent consumers crave.

As the rising generation leads an economic revival, it will also participate in a communal one. We are living in a global age of social entrepreneurship.

In 1964, there were 15,000 foundations in the U.S. By 2001, there were 61,000. In 2007, total private giving passed $300 billion. Participation in organizations like City Year, Teach for America, and College Summit surges every year. Suburbanization helps. For every 10 percent reduction in population density, the odds that people will join a local club rise by 15 percent. The culture of service is now entrenched and widespread.

In sum, the U.S. is on the verge of a demographic, economic and social revival, built on its historic strengths. The U.S. has always been good at disruptive change. It’s always excelled at decentralized community-building. It’s always had that moral materialism that creates meaning-rich products. Surely a country with this much going for it is not going to wait around passively and let a rotten political culture drag it down.
24037  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / FCC loses on Net Neutrality on: April 06, 2010, 11:21:13 AM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tue, April 06, 2010 -- 11:23 AM ET
-----

Court Rules Against F.C.C. in 'Net Neutrality' Case

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Federal
Communications Commission lacks the authority to require
broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet
traffic flowing over their networks.

Tuesday's ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia is a big victory for the Comcast
Corporation, the nation's largest cable company. It had
challenged the F.C.C.'s authority to impose so called "net
neutrality" obligations.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com?emc=na
24038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 06, 2010, 10:17:02 AM
I agree that advocating abolishing Medicare would be political suicide.  So do we simply say that, or is there a principled reason which reaches the same conclusion?

Am I also correct in thinking it already or about to be bankrupt?  If so, what, if any, principles apply?
24039  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: April 06, 2010, 08:45:54 AM
By JONATHAN WEISMAN And PETER SPIEGEL
WASHINGTON—The Obama administration will release a new national nuclear-weapons strategy Tuesday that makes only modest changes to U.S. nuclear forces, leaving intact the longstanding U.S. threat to use nuclear weapons first, even against non-nuclear nations.

View Full Image

Getty Images
 
The Obama administration will release a new national nuclear-weapons strategy Tuesday that makes only modest changes to U.S. nuclear forces.
.But the new policy will narrow potential U.S. nuclear targets, and for the first time makes explicit the goal of making deterrence of a nuclear strike the "sole objective" of U.S. nuclear weapons, a senior Obama administration official said Monday.

Also for the first time, nations complying with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations that attack the U.S. or its allies with chemical or biological weapons will no longer be threatened with nuclear retaliation, the official said. But the president will make clear they would "face the prospect of a devastating conventional attack," the official said.

The document, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, is the first rethinking of the U.S. nuclear strategy since President George W. Bush released his revised policies three months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It does offer clearer assurances that non-nuclear nations complying with nuclear proliferation accords will not be targeted, and it moves toward additional safeguards against accidental nuclear launches. But more dramatic changes, contemplated just weeks ago, were shelved after President Barack Obama secured a nuclear arms-control treaty with Russia that will shape the U.S. arsenal for the next decade.

Journal Community
Vote: Should the U.S. declare it will not use nuclear weapons first?
.The release of the review will kick off a lengthy series of defense-policy events that Mr. Obama hopes will further his aims of countering the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials, and of isolating Iran.

On Thursday, he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will sign a treaty cutting deployed U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals by 30%.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia reserves the right to withdraw from its new arms-control treaty with the U.S. if it decides the planned U.S. missile-defense shield threatens its security, the Associated Press reported. Mr. Lavrov said Russia will issue a statement outlining the terms for such a withdrawal after Messrs. Obama and Medvedev sign the treaty, AP reported.

"Russia will have the right to opt out of the treaty if qualitative and quantitative parameters of the U.S. strategic missile defense begin to significantly effect the efficiency of Russian strategic nuclear forces," Mr. Lavrov told the AP.

Next week, more than 40 heads of state convene in Washington for a summit on counter-proliferation, which will lead to efforts at the United Nations to tighten economic sanctions against Iran to choke off its nuclear ambitions. Next month, Mr. Obama will try to use the first U.N. review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in five years to toughen the treaty and isolate two of its scofflaws, Iran and North Korea.

"Release of nuclear posture review will set the stage," said a U.S. official involved in proliferation issues.

To many arms-control advocates, the review is likely to be a disappointment. "It's a status quo document, I think, in virtually every respect," said Bruce Blair, president of World Security Institute and co-coordinator of Global Zero, a disarmament group.

With Senate approval needed for the pact with Russia to cut nuclear arsenals, administration officials did not want to commit to dramatic changes in nuclear policy that opponents could use to build opposition to the treaty, Mr. Blair said. Republican Senate aides said they expected a document they could embrace.

But the administration official said the "adjustments" in the U.S. position narrow any contingencies for a nuclear strike. The document will say "there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which the option of using nuclear weapons can play a role in deterring large-scale conventional, chemical or biological attack," he said. But it will add that Washington "will continue to move" toward "making nuclear deterrence the sole objective" of the arsenal. The adjective "sole" has become a key measurement in diplomatic circles where U.S. nuclear forces have long been seen as an impediment to stopping nuclear proliferation.

The document will more clearly say the U.S. will not attack non-nuclear nations that have signed and are complying with the U.N. nonproliferation treaty, according to officials familiar with it. That effectively narrows the potential U.S. nuclear targets to the eight declared nuclear powers, as well as Iran and possibly Syria, said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, an arms-control group. U.S. officials consider those two nations to be not fully compliant with the nonproliferation treaty.

The nuclear strategy will not take U.S. nuclear weapons off submarines, bombers and missiles that could fire them at a moment's notice. But the administration will recommend changes to the nuclear command structure that would make accidental launches more unlikely, officials said. They will also call for fortifying U.S. nuclear launch systems, so military officials would not believe they have to launch a nuclear strike out of fear that an incoming attack would destroy the U.S. response capacity.

For the first time, the strategy makes counter-proliferation the highest priority of nuclear policy makers.

The new strategy will emphasize reducing reliance on the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence, and will commit to accelerating the deployment of non-nuclear deterrent capabilities, such as missile defenses and the forward deployment of U.S. forces to trouble spots.

But the administration backed away from language that its allies in the arms-control community believed they would secure. Officials considered detailing their goals for the next round of arms talks with Russia, including controls on battlefield tactical nuclear weapons, dismantling mothballed warheads and reducing total deployments to 1,000 warheads a side, down from the 1,550 limit in the new treaty. But the new doctrine will not contain such specifics, nor will it adopt language threatening nuclear attack only against nuclear threats.

"The United States should be able to clearly state that the only purpose we hold nuclear weapons for is to deter the use of nuclear weapons," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "There is no conventional threat out there that we cannot counter with our overwhelming conventional forces."

—Jay Solomon contributed to this article.
Write to Jonathan Weisman at jonathan.weisman@wsj.com and Peter Spiegel at peter.spiegel@wsj.com

24040  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison on our Founding Fathers: on: April 06, 2010, 08:28:39 AM
"Whatever may be the judgement pronounced on the competency of the architects of the Constitution, or whatever may be the destiny of the  edifice prepared by them, I feel it a duty to express my profound and solemn conviction ... that there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them." --James Madison
24041  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 05, 2010, 09:19:14 PM
Fair enough.

I guess what I am looking for here is the ability to concisely state what we believe and why.  If we can't do that, then we are not poised to do anything.
24042  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO narrows our policy regarding nuke use on: April 05, 2010, 09:08:37 PM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Mon, April 05, 2010 -- 8:15 PM ET
-----

Obama Limits When U.S. Can Use Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON -- President Obama said Monday that he was
revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow
the conditions under which the United States would use
nuclear weapons, even in self defense.

The strategy eliminates much of the ambiguity that has
deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the
opening days of the Cold War. For the first time, the United
States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons
against non-nuclear states that are in compliance with the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the
United States with biological or chemical weapons, or
launched a crippling cyberattack.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com?emc=na
24043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hit on US Consulate in Peshawar on: April 05, 2010, 11:15:25 AM
RED ALERT UPDATE: U.S. Consulate Attack
Stratfor Today » April 5, 2010 | 1120 GMT



A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
Smoke billows following a large bomb blast in Peshawar on April 5 Summary
The U.S. Consulate in Peshawar was the target of a well-coordinated attack carried out by Pakistani militants shortly after 1 p.m. local time April 5. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is reporting that at least three employees at the compound were killed in the attack. Reports are still sketchy and many details are unconfirmed, but this is a rare direct attack against a U.S. diplomatic mission in Pakistan. The attack comes as the Pakistani military opened up offensives against militants in North Waziristan and Orakzai agencies in the tribal belt of northwest Pakistan beginning April 1.

Analysis
The U.S. Consulate in Peshawar appears to have been the target of a well-coordinated attack carried out by Pakistani militants during early afternoon local time April 5. Militants dressed in military uniforms (a common tactic used to confuse response teams) reportedly attacked a security checkpoint on a road leading to the consulate, with eyewitnesses reporting that they saw at least two vehicles carrying gunmen enter into the heavily guarded area. Shortly after, three large explosions — likely vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) — were detonated near the consulate at 1:19, 1:30, and 1:33 p.m. local time. Militants on foot fired at least two rocket-propelled grenades at the consulate and engaged security personnel in gunfire. According to Aaj TV, one suicide bomber was able to get into the consulate compound and detonate his vest inside the wall. Video footage from Pakistan’s Geo TV network show large mushroom clouds rising over one of the blasts. Gunfire was also heard in the area as local security forces engaged armed militants attempting a siege against the consulate building. The area is now reportedly clear, but Pakistani helicopter gunships can still be seen patrolling the area.

The attack employed suicide bombers (both using suicide vests and vehicles) and gunmen (armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades) on foot to overwhelm security forces in order to get closer to the consulate building. This attempt is similar to the attack on the Army General Headquarters by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Oct. 10, 2009, but it is the largest in recent memory given that it involved at least three VBIEDs. The TTP has claimed responsibility for the attack.





(click here to enlarge image)
According to local press, two of the large explosions (likely VBIEDs) hit the outer perimeter wall, while the third was able to hit the exterior perimeter of the consulate. Three U.S. Consulate employees are reported dead and a helicopter could be seen airlifting casualties out of the consular compound. Given the number of explosions, the death toll is likely to increase. Most casualties, however, will likely be outside the compound, as many U.S. diplomatic missions (including the consulate in Peshawar) have high-level security features (including concentric rings of security) built in to prevent attacks such as these from reaching the building itself. It is likely that the perimeter wall sustained heavy damage and that any perimeter security checkpoints were also destroyed. Attacking the primary consular building would be extremely difficult, however. Many attempts have been made to penetrate the security at well-defended U.S. diplomatic facilities in recent years such as in Sanaa, Yemen; Istanbul, Turkey; and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but none have been able to penetrate the perimeter security and successfully attack the main diplomatic building.

Regardless of how much damage this attack was able to inflict upon the U.S. Consulate, the fact that militants attacked the compound in the first place marks an unusual, direct attack against U.S. targets in Pakistan. Western hotels known to have housed U.S. citizens such as the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad or the Pearl Continental in Peshawar have been attacked in recent years and personnel at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi were targeted in 2006, but none of the attacks were as complex as today’s appears to have been. Also, three U.S. military officials were killed in a VBIED attack in Lower Dir district of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province on Feb. 3; it is not clear that the militants involved in that attack specifically targeted the U.S. officials, however.

The April 5 attack comes as the Pakistani military opened up another offensive against militants in Orakzai agency (which is just southwest of Peshawar agency) in an ongoing effort to eliminate militant sanctuary in the Pakistani tribal belt. The United States has been working closely with Pakistan to isolate the foreign militant presence (groups such as al Qaeda) from the local militant groups to gain a better negotiating position against Pakistani militants. While today’s attack bore the signature of the TTP and occurred in an area where the group is active, that the target set was so different could be an indicator that local al Qaeda forces were also involved. Al Qaeda frequently has been responsible for attacks like these against U.S. diplomatic missions — including the three most recent attacks named above.

STRATFOR is monitoring the situation for more details.
24044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 05, 2010, 11:07:19 AM
Thank you.

Please allow me to add a third question for everyone:

3)
   a) Should Medicare and Medicaid exist?  If yes, what is the conceptual basis?  If not, what should be done? 
   b) If they should exist/can't be terminated, are they solvent?  If not, what should be done?
24045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: April 05, 2010, 10:39:30 AM
The Foundation
"It has been said that all Government is an evil. It would be more proper to say that the necessity of any Government is a misfortune. This necessity however exists; and the problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms is least imperfect." --James Madison

Liberty
"Over the past 14 months, our political debate has been transformed into an argument between the heirs of two fundamental schools of political thought, the Founders and the Progressives. The Founders stood for the expansion of liberty and the Progressives for the expansion of government. It's an argument that has been going on for a century but was largely dormant over the quarter-century of low-inflation economic growth that followed the Ronald Reagan tax cuts. It's been raised again by the expand-government policies of the Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders. Those policies, thoroughly in line with the Progressive tradition, have been advanced by liberal elites in government, media, think tanks and academia. The opposition, roughly in line with the Founders tradition, has been led by the non-elites who spontaneously flocked to tea parties and town halls. ... The conservative rebellions of the late 1970s and middle 1990s were focused on taxes. The tea partiers are focusing on the expansion of government -- and its threat to the independence of citizens. ... By passing the stimulus package and the health care bills, the Democrats produced expansion of government. But voters seem to prefer expansion of liberty." --political analyst Michael Barone

Re: The Left
"The political issue rumbling toward both the Supreme Court and the electorate is whether Washington's size and power has finally grown beyond the comfort zone of the American people. That is what lies beneath the chatter about federalism and the 10th Amendment. Liberals will argue that government today is doing good. But government now is also unprecedentedly large and unprecedentedly expensive. Even if every challenge to ObamaCare loses in court, these anxieties will last and keep coming back to the same question: Does the Democratic left think the national government's powers are infinite? No one in the Obama White House, asked that in public on Sunday morning, would simply say yes, no matter that the evidence of this government's actions the past year indicate they do. In his 'Today Show' interview [last] week, Mr. Obama with his characteristic empathy acknowledged there are 'folks who have legitimate concerns ... that the federal government may be taking on too much.' My reading of the American public is that they have moved past 'concerns.'" --Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger

Government
"So, what is the impact on the deficit when the Senate health care bill, the reconciliation bill to fix the Senate health care bill and the bill to fix the phantom reductions in doctors' fees are all considered together? ... 'CBO estimates that enacting all three pieces of legislation would add $59 billion to budget deficits over the 2010-2019 period.' Rather than cut the deficit by $1 trillion over two decades as Obama claims, the full health care package increases the deficit by $59 billion over one decade. ... [T]he bill authorizes new discretionary spending that Congress will need to approve in future years to make sure the bureaucracies are in place to carry out the new plan. CBO estimates this will lead to 'at least $50 billion' in new spending over 10 years that was not included in the health care bill itself. ... Nor should Obama's socialized medicine plan be viewed in isolation from the rest of his budget. CBO says his fiscal 2011 budget proposal will increase the national debt by $9.8 trillion over the next 10 years. He is running a record $1.5 trillion deficit this year, and the smallest deficit he will ever run is $724 billion in 2014 -- the year his unconstitutional individual insurance mandate kicks in. After that, the deficit starts an unbroken climb, surpassing $1 trillion again in 2018 and heading ever higher. Just as Obama's claim that his socialized medicine plan will reduce the deficit by $1 trillion will be his defining lie, his legacy will be this: He bankrupted America." --CNSNews.com editor in chief Terence Jeffrey

The Gipper
"The fact is, we'll never build a lasting economic recovery by going deeper into debt at a faster rate than we ever have before. It took this nation 166 years until the middle of World War II to finally accumulate a debt of $95 billion. It took this [Carter] administration just the last 12 months to add $95 billion to the debt. And this administration has run up almost one-fourth of the total national debt in just these short 19 months. Inflation is the cause of recession and unemployment. And we're not going to have real prosperity or recovery until we stop fighting the symptoms and start fighting the disease." --Ronald Reagan

Faith & Family
"What's so disheartening about America's present political environment is that those in Washington are truly convinced that more and bigger government is America's primary solution for recovery, future growth and security. President Barack Obama even declared early in his presidency that 'only government' is our savior. Our Founders had a far better solution than only government. ... As proud as they were of their newfound republic, our Founders' trust and hope was not in government, but in God. For what? For most of the things that people today often look to government to provide: life, liberty, happiness, provision, salvation, decency, civility, morality, honesty, restraint, equity of power and future hope, to name a few. Tragically, in modern times, government has usurped God's role in our republic and Americans' lives. ... To our Founders, God was the source of our human rights, which put limits on government power. Even more, God was (and should be) the ultimate agent for national sustenance and renewal. That is why we are dreaming if we think we can correct the ills in ourselves, our government or our society without his aid." --columnist Chuck Norris
24046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 05, 2010, 08:46:02 AM
Interesting.

Two questions for everyone here:

1)  What should be the rules concerning someone with a pre-existing condition?  What is the conceptual basis for your opinion?

2) What should be the rules for insurance companies when someone develops a serious condition?  Should the insurance company be allowed to drop them?  Raise their rates until they drop out?  Or?  What is the conceptual basis for you opinion?

I think answering these two questions important.  IMHO it is fear of these two issues that drives much of the support for the HC Law.

I look forward to everyone's answers.
24047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: 1834 on: April 05, 2010, 08:39:12 AM
"You give me a credit to which I have no claim in calling me 'the writer of the Constitution of the United States.' This was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands." --James Madison, letter to William Cogswell, 1834
24048  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty seminar in Bern Switzerland, 8/15, 2010 on: April 04, 2010, 03:54:44 PM
Forwarded from Lonely Dog:

dear group leader and / or good friends

i send you this e-mail to inform you about the training schedule just before the august gathering in bern.

best accomodation as a said will be the campsite "eichholz" www.campingeichholz.ch , not just  that it's very close to the gathering / seminar location but also gives the best possibility to meet the other guys and to do some training the days before.

there will be no training camp as last year, but will teach on wednesday and thursday (11./12.august) in the morning hours (10.00 - 12.00).

beside of this official training i'm sure that you will find plenty of guys who are willing to train a bit.

if you have interest to take some private lessons with guro "crafty dog" or myself the following days would be the best to do so:
wednesday 11.august / thursday 12.august / monday 16.august.
if you have interest to do some privates please let me know so i can organize it.

if you have any questions, please let me know

i'm very exhited to see many of you again

wuff
benjamin
24049  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Euro Gathering 8/13-14, 2010 on: April 04, 2010, 03:54:03 PM
Forwarded from Lonely Dog:

dear group leader and / or good friends

i send you this e-mail to inform you about the training schedule just before the august gathering in bern.

Best accomodation as a said will be the campsite "eichholz" www.campingeichholz.ch , not just  that it's very close to the gathering / seminar location but also gives the best possibility to meet the other guys and to do some training the days before.

There will be no training camp as last year, but will teach on wednesday and thursday (11./12.august) in the morning hours (10.00 - 12.00).

Beside this official training I'm sure that you will find plenty of guys who are willing to train a bit.

If you have interest to take some private lessons with Guro "Crafty Dog" or myself the following days would be the best to do so:
wednesday 11.august / thursday 12.august / monday 16.august.
if you have interest to do some privates please let me know so i can organize it.

if you have any questions, please let me know.  I'm very excited to see everyone.



wuff
benjamin
24050  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Seattle, Sept 11-12, 2010 on: April 04, 2010, 03:51:54 PM
Host and friend Rob Crowley was in town this weekend to train with me.  This seminar is shaping up to be something quite special.
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