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24001  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: June 16, 2011, 11:08:00 PM
Arrgh!  Just had a post vaporize.

a) Until Baraq, US presidents have refused to acknowledge the C'l validity of the WP Act (or is it a Resolution?).  Now Baraq concedes the point but says a NATO operation, of which the US is the alpha partner, which is trying to kill Kaddaffy and wipe out most of his military assets, is not a war and therefore the WPA does not apply?  WTF?  In other words, isn't Baraq conceding the validity of the WPA so as to appear consistent with his previous bleatings on the subject as a Senator and/or community organizer?  And Boener, in search of the obvious posturing ploy of the moment, now concedes the WPA to the detriment of future Presidents?  The correct analysis is offered in Boener's final comment in the last sentence of CCP's post (also see BD's recent posts in the C'l Law thread on the SCH forum for more scholarly detail)/

b) We need to keep in mind that Kaddaffy is under a lot of pressure.  Someone could betray him, a drone could get him, something could happen-- and Peacock Baraq will strut to the rapture of the chattering class and the Pravdas.   We need to handle ourselves in a way that protects us from looking foolish and churlish in such an eventuality.
24002  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 16, 2011, 06:38:56 PM
Concerning the defunding in order to lend Executive Kinetic Action rolleyes please see post 136 (today) at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2158.100
24003  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: June 16, 2011, 06:34:35 PM
Baltic: 

Once the shows on the various networks have run, there is a specified time (I'll have to check the contract to see what it is) that we are prevented from selling, then it will become available through the website here.

Thank you for all your help in getting the word out!!!
24004  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: June 16, 2011, 06:32:43 PM
Hello Kitty (DF):

Cindy says she has NOT received your registration.  Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

Crafty Dog
24005  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The legend returns! on: June 16, 2011, 02:09:31 PM
Emerging from the legendary mists of Dog Brothers lore comes the Salty Dog.  Rumor has it he will be bringing a fighter or two to the Open Gathering  cool
24006  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sarah's writing skills on: June 16, 2011, 01:28:21 PM
Sarah's writing skills

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/writing-analysts-claim-palin-writes-at-8th-grade-level/
24007  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 16, 2011, 01:19:39 PM
I hear there is also this Jewish fellow with Wolverine sideburns who waves around sticks , , ,
24008  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO's friend Bill Ayers on: June 16, 2011, 01:16:58 PM


http://www.theblaze.com/stories/canada-turns-away-obamas-old-pal-1960s-domestic-terrorist-bill-ayers/
24009  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: June 16, 2011, 10:59:26 AM
Family matters (child with the cooties, and parents too) are distracting us at the moment.  Pretty Kitty will get to this soon.

24010  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Operation Gunrunner on: June 16, 2011, 07:36:26 AM
Congress irate over ATF guns-to-Mexico program

By Sharyl Attkisson



Congress grilled representatives from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Department of Justice Wednesday over a program that intentionally let guns flow over the border into Mexico -- and into the hands of criminals -- in order to track drug cartels.


CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson broke the story on the CBS Evening News in March. Earlier this year, two of the guns may have been used in the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, prompting outrage and investigations, Attkisson reports.


Six months ago today, border patrol agent Brian Terry was gunned down. Today, three senior ATF agents sat beside Terry's mom, cousin and sister -- and said their agency may be to blame.


Two of the guns found at the scene of Terry's murder were part of thousands the ATF allegedly allowed gun traffickers to purchase. The ATF called it letting "guns walk" -- a tactic they hoped would lead to them to drug kingpins. Agents who disagreed with the strategy blew the whistle.


"To walk a single gun is in my opinion an idiotic move," said ATF senior special agent Pete Forcelli. "We weren't giving guns to people who were hunting bear. We were giving guns to people who were killing other humans."


After Terry's murder, ATF quickly rounded up gun trafficking suspects they'd watched for a year. That's when the first reports of gunwalking began to surface. Asked if they were true at the time, ATF Phoenix chief Bill Newell told reporters "hell no" -- surprising those who worked for him.


"I was appalled, because it was a blatant lie," Forcelli said. Newell didn't respond to interview requests.


Also under attack: the Justice Department which oversees the ATF. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich says the agency is cooperating with Congress, but Rep. Darryl Issa says information is being withheld.


"You should be ashamed of yourself," Issa said at the hearing Wednesday holding up a blacked-out sheet of paper. "The pages go on like this forever. You've given us black paper instead of white paper. How dare you make an opening statement of 'cooperation.'"


Issa pressed Weich on who in Washington authorized the program -- and received no answer.


"There was serious profound disagreement about strategy -- but the common goal was to stop gun trafficking to Mexico," Weich said. "Some of the testimony provided today is of great concern. That is why the attorney general asked the inspector general to look into it."


When Brian Terry was gunned down last December, he'd already mailed Christmas gifts.


"The gifts that Brian had picked out with such thought and care began to arrive in the mail that same week," recalled Terry's cousin Robert Heyer, a Secret Service agent. "With each delivery, we felt the indescribable pain of Brian's death."


Terry's family wants someone to accept responsibility. The Department of Justice inspector general is investigating -- and any gunwalking that was taking place has been halted.
24011  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Russia's Chess Match in Libya on: June 16, 2011, 07:28:05 AM


Russia's Chess Match In Libya

Russian businessman and politician Kirsan Ilyumzhinov told Russian media Tuesday that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is ready to begin immediate talks with NATO and Benghazi-based rebels over the settlement to the Libyan civil war. Ilyumzhinov claims Gadhafi told him this during their recent meeting in Tripoli, when the pair were filmed playing chess by Libyan state television. Ilyumzhinov, the president of the governing body of the international chess world and who has ties to the Kremlin, claims that he offered Gadhafi a draw in the match, not wanting to offend his host. In the same vein, the Russian government is trying to facilitate a draw for Gadhafi in the Libyan conflict, as it asserts itself as a mediator, and more importantly, positions itself to exploit the Libyan crisis for its own geopolitical aims.

“Moscow appears to be setting itself up as the mediator in the Libyan conflict, not only between Tripoli and the rebel opposition, but more importantly, between Tripoli and the West.”
Gadhafi has never displayed any intention of leaving Libya, a point he reportedly reiterated to Ilyumzhinov during his visit. The Libyan leader may still think he can one day reconquer the territory he has lost since February. But in reality, the best option he can hope for at this point is maintaining power of a rump Libya following a partition of the country (a course of action neither side has advocated publicly). Gadhafi is hoping he can outlast the political will in Washington and in Europe to maintain the bombing campaign, at which point he could force talks aimed at ending the conflict through a negotiated settlement — one that leaves him with a sizable chunk of the country under his control.

What no one can say for sure is how long he can hold out, and how long NATO can maintain the political will to continue the operation against him. What is known is that no serious effort is being taken to arm and train rebel forces to do the job for the West. This means hopes for regime change ride on NATO planes or the possibility that members of Gadhafi’s own regime might overthrow him. Otherwise, negotiations will eventually have to take place, because no one is prepared to invade Libya or keep bombing it forever.

Moscow knows this, and appears to be attempting to set itself up as the mediator in the Libyan conflict, not only between Tripoli and the rebel opposition, but more importantly between Tripoli and the West. Russia voiced its opposition to the intervention in Libya from the outset. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin once said that the Western push for military action against Gadhafi’s regime was “reminiscent of a medieval call for a crusade.” NATO’s air campaign against Libya has presented Moscow with an opportunity to return to a familiar confrontational stance with the West. But Russia knows how to turn on the charm offensive when it wants to, and can also utilize its position as mediator.

No other country is as well placed as Russia to fulfill this role, and Moscow is eager to take advantage of the opportunity. The Germans’ refusal to take part in the air campaign has exposed a major rift in the alliance that works in the Russian interest. Russia also has a strategic interest in positioning itself to be able to exploit Libya’s energy assets: By acting as a mediator to all sides, it can work toward its ultimate aim of scuttling European hopes that North Africa may present an opportunity to lessen the dependence on Russian energy supplies. But Libya isn’t the only dispute Russia has attempted to mediate as of late: Moscow has also tried in the past year to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians. Overall, Russia doesn’t really care about these issues, but wants to show an ability, real or imagined, to remain a player in global politics.

The NATO air campaign has gone on for three months, with only eight countries participating. The French and British militaries have made pointed comments in recent days about the toll the effort is taking, a theme hammered home last week by outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Attempts to induce other NATO members to join in the airstrikes have been unsuccessful, meaning those doing the fighting now will have to push on without outside help.

Credibility is on the line, and that will be a powerful driver for these countries to succeed in their mission of regime change. It came as no surprise last Thursday to hear an anonymous NATO official concede that efforts are being made to assassinate Gadhafi in the course of selecting targets for bombing. And, the Italian defense minister said as much in May. But if air power is the only tool NATO has at its disposal — along with the hope that the regime simply crumbles under the pressure of economic sanctions, military pressure and political isolation — the Russians may eventually find themselves perfectly situated to serve as a go-between in talks aimed at ending the conflict without its main goals having been accomplished.

This is where Ilyumzhinov’s visit becomes important. A former president of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, he has ties to the Kremlin as well as Russian intelligence. He claims his visit was not mandated by Moscow, yet admits that he informed President Dmitri Medvedev’s personal envoy for Africa, Mikhail Margelov, of his trip in advance. Margelov recently visited Benghazi, and plans to travel to Tripoli soon. Ilyumzhinov’s role as the president of the World Chess Federation, meanwhile, provides him with a somewhat believable alibi for traveling to Tripoli in the first place. He claims he was invited by Gadhafi’s son Mohammed (who is president of the Libyan Chess Federation and Olympic Committee), with whom he has a prior relationship dating back just under a decade.

Ilyumzhinov may rival Gadhafi for personal eccentricity — Ilyumzhinov is famous for declaring that he was once taken aboard a UFO, and for claiming he can communicate through telepathy — but he is acting as a tool of Russian foreign policy in his dealings with Gadhafi. Moscow is testing the waters with an “unofficial” delegate from the Kremlin for many reasons. Moscow probably used Ilyumzhinov to check on Gadhafi’s status. But they will also gauge international reaction to Ilyumzhinov’s visit.

Should his words be taken seriously, this opens the door for Moscow to officially start working in the country. If no one cares, then Russia can chalk Ilyumzhinov up as an eccentric who was never working for the Kremlin. On the flip side, Moscow wants to show the Libyan leader that it can be a useful friend to his government at a time in which his allies are few and far between.

When asked about their chess match, Ilyumzhinov told one Russian media outlet: “Of course, I could have won, for he sacrificed his knight to me. But I did not take it, and I myself proposed a draw. He tried to struggle, to fight. He has a warrior’s spirit.” High praise from a Russian official, certainly, but also symbolic of the position his government is trying to stake out for the coming months in Libya.

24012  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Stock exchange for pirates on: June 16, 2011, 07:16:09 AM
By AVI JORISCH
Pirates are on a hot streak this season. World-wide, the first quarter of 2011 saw 142 recorded attacks, up from 67 in that time last year. Off the coast of Somalia there were 97, as against 35 last year. Why? Despite some efforts by Western powers to patrol the Horn of Africa, pirates are still able to access capital, as any successful business must.

The world's first pirate stock exchange was established in 2009 in Harardheere, some 250 miles northeast of Mogadishu, Somalia. Open 24 hours a day, the exchange allows investors to profit from ransoms collected on the high seas, which can approach $10 million for successful attacks against Western commercial vessels.

While there are no credible statistics available, reports from various news sources suggest that over 70 entities are listed on the Harardheere exchange. When a pirate operation is successful, it pays investors a share of the profits. According to a former pirate who spoke to Reuters, "The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials. . . . We've made piracy a community activity."

The big player on the Harardheere exchange is a pirate named Mohammed Hassan Abdi, who goes by the name of "Afweyne," or "Big Mouth." Known as the "father of piracy," Abdi and his son Abdiqaadir are in charge of the exchange and are, according to a recent United Nations report, among the best-known pirates in the area. Abdi's boats have hijacked a variety of ships, including the German freighter Hansa Stavanger, which German special forces tried unsuccessfully to liberate in 2009. After a four-month hostage ordeal, the pirates released the ship off the coast of Kenya.

View Full Image

REUTERS
 
A crowd collects ransom money from pirates in Harardheere, Somalia.
.Piracy has changed Harardheere from a small fishing village to a town crowded with luxury cars. As local security officer Mohamed Adam put it to Reuters, "Piracy-related business has become the main profitable economic activity in our area and as locals we depend on their output." Mr. Adam claims that the district government gets a cut of every dollar collected by pirates and uses it—naturally—for schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure.

Cutting off these financial relationships is essential to curbing piracy. The U.S. could begin by instituting, via executive order, a sanctions regime against these rogue actors. Just as the government maintains lists of terrorists, narco-traffickers, weapons proliferators and money launderers, so too should it keep a list of pirates. This would heighten international awareness of piracy and give banks an additional tool to employ against illicit actors. Pirates, like all other criminals, eventually use the banking sector to try to hide their criminal gains.

The U.N. and other international organizations—such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body that sets standards regarding terrorism finance and money laundering—also have roles to play. For one, the U.N. should expand its current Somalia and Eritrea monitoring committee, which was established in 1992 to implement the U.N. travel ban, asset freeze, and arms embargo on Somalia, as well as the arms embargo on Eritrea. An expanded committee could improve the anti-piracy intelligence-gathering capabilities of its members and track the finances of significant international pirates.

For its part, the FATF could get serious about including piracy within its mission of highlighting how money launderers and terrorists raise and move funds. To date, the organization has never issued a report on piracy. Doing so would prod a variety of international organizations, policy makers, law-enforcement agencies, and banking authorities to grapple seriously with this threat.

There are four banks in Somalia today—the Central Bank, the Commercial and Savings Bank of Somalia, and the Somali Development Bank (all of which are wholly or partly owned by the government), as well as the independent Universal Bank of Somalia. International financial institutions providing correspondent banking services to the four, or wiring money into or out of the country, should carry out enhanced due diligence on all transactions to make sure they are not related to piracy or the Harardheere stock exchange. In Washington, the Treasury Department could mandate this standard of care by issuing guidance to all American financial institutions.

Piracy increases the cost of international commerce by $12 billion annually, and in Somalia alone more than 20 vessels and 400 hostages are currently being held, according to the International Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. and others have a duty to deploy their financial firepower against this threat.

Mr. Jorisch, a former U.S. Treasury official, is president of the Red Cell Intelligence Group and the author of "Tainted Money: Are We Losing the War on Money Laundering and Terrorism Finance?" (Red Cell IG, 2009).

24013  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Franklin 1774 on: June 16, 2011, 07:06:42 AM


"The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy." --Benjamin Franklin, Emblematical Representations, 1774

24014  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The War continues on: June 16, 2011, 07:05:32 AM


By Scott Stewart

We talk to a lot of people in our effort to track Mexico’s criminal cartels and to help our readers understand the  dynamics that shape the violence in Mexico. Our contacts include a wide range of people, from Mexican and U.S. government officials, journalists and business owners to taxi drivers and street vendors. Lately, as we’ve been talking with people, we’ve been hearing chatter about the 2012 presidential election in Mexico and how the cartel war will impact that election.

In any democratic election, opposition parties always criticize the policies of the incumbent. This tactic is especially true when the country is involved in a long and costly war. Recall, for example, the 2008 U.S. elections and then-candidate Barack Obama’s criticism of the Bush administration’s policies regarding Iraq and Afghanistan. This strategy is what we are seeing now in Mexico with the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) criticizing the way the administration of Felipe Calderon, who belongs to the National Action Party (PAN), has prosecuted its war against the Mexican cartels.

One of the trial balloons that the opposition parties — especially the PRI — seem to be floating at present is the idea that if they are elected they will reverse Calderon’s policy of going after the cartels with a heavy hand and will instead try to reach some sort of accommodation with them. This policy would involve lifting government pressure against the cartels and thereby (ostensibly) reducing the level of violence that is wracking the country. In effect, this stratagem would be a return of the status quo ante during the PRI administrations that ruled Mexico for decades prior to 2000. One other important thing to remember, however, is that while Mexico’s tough stance against the cartels is most often associated with President Calderon, the policy of using the military against the cartels was established during the administration of President Vicente Fox (also of PAN), who declared the “mother of all battles” against cartel kingpins in January 2005.

While this political rhetoric may be effective in tapping public discontent with the current situation in Mexico — and perhaps obtaining votes for opposition parties — the current environment in Mexico is far different from what it was in the 1990s. This environment will dictate that no matter who wins the 2012 election, the new president will have little choice but to maintain the campaign against the Mexican cartels.


Changes in the Drug Flow

First, it is important to understand that over the past decade there have been changes in the flow of narcotics into the United States. The first of these changes was in the way that cocaine is trafficked from South America to the United Sates and in the specific organizations that are doing that trafficking. While there has always been some cocaine smuggled into the United States through Mexico, like during the “Miami Vice” era from the 1970s to the early 1990s, much of the U.S. supply came into Florida via Caribbean routes. The cocaine was trafficked mainly by the powerful Colombian cartels, and while they worked with Mexican partners such as the Guadalajara cartel to move product through Mexico and into the United States, the Colombians were the dominant partners in the relationship and pocketed the lion’s share of the profits.

As U.S. interdiction efforts curtailed much of the Caribbean drug flow due to improvements in aerial and maritime surveillance, and as the Colombian cartels were dismantled by the Colombian and U.S. governments, Mexico became more important to the flow of cocaine and the Mexican cartels gained more prominence and power. Over the past decade, the tables turned. Now, the Mexican cartels control most of the cocaine flow and the Colombian gangs are the junior partners in the relationship.

The Mexican cartels have expanded their control over cocaine smuggling to the point where they are also involved in the smuggling of South American cocaine to Europe and Australia. This expanded cocaine supply chain means that the Mexican cartels have assumed a greater risk of loss along the extended supply routes, but it also means that they earn a far greater percentage of the profit derived from South American cocaine than they did when the Colombian cartels called the shots.

While Mexican cartels have always been involved in the smuggling of marijuana to the U.S. market, and marijuana sales serve as an important profit pool for them, the increasing popularity of other drugs in the United States in recent years, such as black-tar heroin and methamphetamine, has also helped bring big money (and power) to the Mexican cartels. These drugs have proved to be quite lucrative for the Mexican cartels because the cartels own the entire production process. This is not the case with cocaine, which the cartels have to purchase from South American suppliers.

These changes in the flow of narcotics into the United States mean that the Mexican narcotics-smuggling corridors into the United States are now more lucrative than ever for the Mexican cartels, and the increasing value of these corridors has heightened the competition — and the violence — to control them. The fighting has become quite bloody and, in many cases, quite personal, involving blood vendettas that will not be easily buried.

The violence occurring in Mexico today also has quite a different dynamic from the violence that occurred in Colombia in the late 1980s. In Colombia at that time, Pablo Escobar declared war on the government, and his team of sicarios conducted terrorist attacks like  destroying the Department of Administrative Security headquarters with a huge truck bomb and bombing a civilian airliner in an attempt to kill a presidential candidate, among other operations. Escobar thought his attacks could intimidate the Colombian government into the kind of accommodation being in discussed in Mexico today, but his calculation was wrong and the attacks served only to steel public opinion and government resolve against him.

Most of the violence in Mexico today is cartel-on-cartel, and the cartels have not chosen to explicitly target civilians or the government. Even the violence we do see directed against Mexican police officers or government figures is usually not due to their positions but to the perception that they are on the payroll of a competing cartel. There are certainly exceptions to this, but cartel attacks against government figures are usually attempts to undercut the support network of a competing cartel and not acts of retribution against the government. Cartel groups like Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) have even produced and distributed video statements in which they say they don’t want to fight the federal government and the military, just corrupt officers aligned with their enemies.

This dynamic means that, even if the Mexican military and federal police were to ease up on their operations against drug-smuggling activities, the war among the cartels (and factions of cartels) would still continue.


The Hydra

In addition to the raging cartel-on-cartel violence, any future effort to reach an accommodation with the cartels will also be hampered by the way the cartel landscape has changed over the past few years. Consider this: Three and a half years ago, the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) was a part of the Sinaloa Federation. Following the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva in January 2008, Alfredo’s brothers blamed Sinaloa chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, declared war on El Chapo and split from the Sinaloa Federation to form their own organization. Following the December 2009 death of Alfredo’s brother, Arturo Beltran Leyva, the organization further split into two factions: One was called the Cartel Pacifico del Sur, which was led by the remaining Beltran Leyva brother, Hector, and the other, which retained the BLO name, remained loyal to Alfredo’s chief of security, Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal. Following the August 2010 arrest of La Barbie, his faction of the BLO split into two pieces, one joining with some local criminals in Acapulco to form the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA). So not only did the BLO leave the Sinaloa Federation, it also split twice to form three new cartels.

There are two main cartel groups, one centered on the Sinaloa Federation and the other on Los Zetas, but these groups are loose alliances rather than hierarchical organizations, and there are still many smaller independent players, such as CIDA, La Resistencia and the CJNG. This means that a government attempt to broker some sort of universal understanding with the cartels in order to decrease the violence would be far more challenging than it would have been a decade ago.

Even if the government could gather all these parties together and convince them to agree to cease hostilities, the question for all parties would be: How reliable are all the promises being made? The various cartels frequently make alliances and agreements, only to break them, and close allies can quickly become the bitterest enemies — like the Gulf cartel and its former enforcer wing, Los Zetas.

We have heard assertions over the last several years that the Calderon administration favors the Sinaloa Federation and that the president’s real plan to quell the violence in Mexico is to allow or even assist the Sinaloa Federation to become the dominant cartel in Mexico. According to this narrative, the Sinaloa Federation could impose peace through superior firepower and provide the Mexican government a single point of contact instead of the various heads of the cartel hydra. One problem with implementing such a concept is that some of the most vicious violence Mexico has seen in recent years has followed an internal split involving the Sinaloa Federation, such as the BLO/Sinaloa war.


From DTO to TCO

Another problem is the change that has occurred in the nature of the crimes the cartels commit. The Mexican cartels are no longer just drug cartels, and they no longer just sell narcotics to the U.S. market. This reality is even reflected in the bureaucratic acronyms that the U.S. government uses to refer to the cartels. Up until a few months ago, it was common to hear U.S. government officials refer to the Mexican cartels using the acronym “DTOs,” or drug trafficking organizations. Today, that acronym is rarely, if ever, heard. It has been replaced by “TCO,” which stands for transnational criminal organization. This acronym recognizes that the Mexican cartels engage in many criminal enterprises, not just narcotics smuggling.

As the cartels have experienced difficulty moving large loads of narcotics into the United States due to law enforcement pressure, and the loss of smuggling corridors to rival gangs, they have sought to generate revenue by diversifying their lines of business. Mexican cartels have become involved in kidnapping, extortion, cargo theft, oil theft and diversion, arms smuggling, human smuggling, carjacking, prostitution and music and video piracy. These additional lines of business are lucrative, and there is little likelihood that the cartels would abandon them even if smuggling narcotics became easier.

As an aside, this diversification is also a factor that must be considered in discussing the legalization of narcotics and the impact that would have on the Mexican cartels. Narcotics smuggling is the most substantial revenue stream for the cartels, but is not their only line of business. If the cartels were to lose the stream of revenue from narcotics sales, they would still be heavily armed groups of killers who would be forced to rely more on their other lines of business. Many of these other crimes, like extortion and kidnapping, by their very nature focus more direct violence against innocent victims than drug trafficking does.

Another way the cartels have sought to generate revenue through alternative means is to increase drug sales inside Mexico. While drugs sell for less on the street in Mexico than they do in the United States, they require less overhead, since they don’t have to cross the U.S. border. At the same time, the street gangs that are distributing these drugs into the local Mexican market have also become closely allied with the cartels and have served to swell the ranks of the cartel enforcer groups. For example, Mara Salvatrucha has come to work closely with Los Zetas, and Los Aztecas have essentially become a wing of the Juarez cartel.

There has been a view among some in Mexico that the flow of narcotics through Mexico is something that might be harmful for the United States but doesn’t really harm Mexico. Indeed, as the argument goes, the money the drug trade generates for the Mexican economy is quite beneficial. The increase in narcotics sales in Mexico belies this, and in many places, such as the greater Mexico City region, much of the violence we’ve seen involves fighting over turf for local drug sales and not necessarily fighting among the larger cartel groups (although, in some areas, there are instances of the larger cartel groups asserting their dominance over these smaller local-level groups).

As the Mexican election approaches, the idea of accommodating the cartels may continue to be presented as a logical alternative to the present policies, and it might be used to gain political capital, but anyone who carefully examines the situation on the ground will see that the concept is totally untenable. In fact, the conditions on the ground leave the Mexican president with very little choice. This means that in the same way President Obama was forced by ground realities to follow many of the Bush administration policies he criticized as a candidate, the next Mexican president will have little choice but to follow the policies of the Calderon administration in continuing the fight against the cartels.

24015  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Rove: Bad news getting much worse on: June 16, 2011, 07:01:45 AM


By KARL ROVE
A kerfuffle was stirred up last week by a devastating McKinsey & Company study that concluded up to 78 million Americans would lose their current health coverage as employers stopped offering insurance because of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The report contradicted Mr. Obama's frequent pledge that under his reform, "if you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan." And McKinsey's was at least the fourth such analysis calling the president's promise into question.

 Pulitzer Prize-winner Joseph Rago tracks the White House effort to prevent the impact of its policies.
.In May 2010, former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin concluded that employers would drop coverage for about 35 million Americans because of ObamaCare. A month later, in June 2010, the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) pegged the number between 87 million to 117 million. And last November, Allisa Meade, a McKinsey analyst, told health-insurance company executives that 80 million to 100 million people might lose their employer-provided health insurance.

Simple economics is the reason. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's Employer Health Benefits 2010 Annual Survey, the annual premium for an average policy last year was $5,049 for a single worker, with the company picking up roughly $4,150 and the employee the rest. For a family of four, the total cost was $13,770, with the company picking up $9,773.

Yet under ObamaCare, businesses can stop providing health-care coverage, paying a $2,000 per-worker fine instead. For small businesses, the trade-off is even more attractive: They are given a pass on the first 50 workers.

Workers losing coverage will be moved into the "exchange," a government-run marketplace to buy health plans. Those whose insurance costs were more than a specified share of their income (9.5% in 2014) could get subsidies. The exchange starts in 2014 and is fully operational by 2016.

Perversely, ObamaCare both drives up the cost of insurance with mandates and rules while making it attractive for companies to dump the increasingly more expensive coverage and pay a lesser fine. There will be huge ramifications for the country's finances if more workers lose coverage than was estimated.

When Mr. Obama's health-care bill passed in March 2010, the CBO and the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation predicted that 24 million workers would be covered by the exchange. Of these, nine million to 11 million would lose their employer-provided coverage, offset by six million to seven million who would be getting employer-provided insurance, for a net of three million workers losing company-sponsored coverage. The CBO said the exchanges would cost $511 billion over ObamaCare's first decade.

But what if more people are dumped into the exchange than originally estimated? Costs from the increased subsidies will explode.

If Mr. Holtz-Eakin is correct that there will be 11 million more people in the exchange, then costs could be nearly 40% higher than the $511 billion price tag. If between 78 million and 87 million people are moved into the exchange, the tab could more than triple. And if NCPA's upper-range estimate is right and 117 million people were dumped into the exchange, ObamaCare would cost nearly $2 trillion more than expected in the first decade alone. Much of this extra expense would come from workers losing their employer-sponsored insurance.

Mr. Obama's health-care law has already put the country in bad financial shape. He claimed it reduced the deficit by $143 billion—but that was before the CBO added $115 billion to administer the legislation, including the hiring of bureaucrats and thousands of IRS agents to enforce the new mandates. This reduced Mr. Obama's claimed savings to $28 billion.

The deficit-reduction claim also came before House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan drew attention to the law's Ponzi scheme. It's funded by borrowing $521 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund, Medicare, and new long-term care insurance premiums, and by ignoring the $300 billion cost over 10 years of the annual inflation increases in reimbursements to hospitals and doctors. These gimmicks hide the fact that ObamaCare is really $701 billion in the red in its first decade.

ObamaCare's deficits in its second decade (2020 to 2029) will be even more horrendous as it continues borrowing from Social Security, Medicare and the long-term care insurance program to meet its much larger than anticipated expenses, including a much higher number of people who end up in the exchange.

On March 9, 2010, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously told a meeting of county officials that "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy."

We are now, to our horror, finding out how harmful this measure is. More Americans are realizing that unless repealed, ObamaCare will sink America in a sea of red ink. This helps explain why the nation has turned so hard against it—and against its author whose slippery pledges so misled us.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

24016  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: June 16, 2011, 06:56:32 AM
New Mexican President, Same Cartel War?
June 16, 2011


Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Criminal Cartels
STRATFOR Book
Mexico In Crisis: Lost Borders and the Struggle for Regional Status
By Scott Stewart

We talk to a lot of people in our effort to track Mexico’s criminal cartels and to help our readers understand the  dynamics that shape the violence in Mexico. Our contacts include a wide range of people, from Mexican and U.S. government officials, journalists and business owners to taxi drivers and street vendors. Lately, as we’ve been talking with people, we’ve been hearing chatter about the 2012 presidential election in Mexico and how the cartel war will impact that election.

In any democratic election, opposition parties always criticize the policies of the incumbent. This tactic is especially true when the country is involved in a long and costly war. Recall, for example, the 2008 U.S. elections and then-candidate Barack Obama’s criticism of the Bush administration’s policies regarding Iraq and Afghanistan. This strategy is what we are seeing now in Mexico with the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) criticizing the way the administration of Felipe Calderon, who belongs to the National Action Party (PAN), has prosecuted its war against the Mexican cartels.

One of the trial balloons that the opposition parties — especially the PRI — seem to be floating at present is the idea that if they are elected they will reverse Calderon’s policy of going after the cartels with a heavy hand and will instead try to reach some sort of accommodation with them. This policy would involve lifting government pressure against the cartels and thereby (ostensibly) reducing the level of violence that is wracking the country. In effect, this stratagem would be a return of the status quo ante during the PRI administrations that ruled Mexico for decades prior to 2000. One other important thing to remember, however, is that while Mexico’s tough stance against the cartels is most often associated with President Calderon, the policy of using the military against the cartels was established during the administration of President Vicente Fox (also of PAN), who declared the “mother of all battles” against cartel kingpins in January 2005.

While this political rhetoric may be effective in tapping public discontent with the current situation in Mexico — and perhaps obtaining votes for opposition parties — the current environment in Mexico is far different from what it was in the 1990s. This environment will dictate that no matter who wins the 2012 election, the new president will have little choice but to maintain the campaign against the Mexican cartels.


Changes in the Drug Flow

First, it is important to understand that over the past decade there have been changes in the flow of narcotics into the United States. The first of these changes was in the way that cocaine is trafficked from South America to the United Sates and in the specific organizations that are doing that trafficking. While there has always been some cocaine smuggled into the United States through Mexico, like during the “Miami Vice” era from the 1970s to the early 1990s, much of the U.S. supply came into Florida via Caribbean routes. The cocaine was trafficked mainly by the powerful Colombian cartels, and while they worked with Mexican partners such as the Guadalajara cartel to move product through Mexico and into the United States, the Colombians were the dominant partners in the relationship and pocketed the lion’s share of the profits.

As U.S. interdiction efforts curtailed much of the Caribbean drug flow due to improvements in aerial and maritime surveillance, and as the Colombian cartels were dismantled by the Colombian and U.S. governments, Mexico became more important to the flow of cocaine and the Mexican cartels gained more prominence and power. Over the past decade, the tables turned. Now, the Mexican cartels control most of the cocaine flow and the Colombian gangs are the junior partners in the relationship.

The Mexican cartels have expanded their control over cocaine smuggling to the point where they are also involved in the smuggling of South American cocaine to Europe and Australia. This expanded cocaine supply chain means that the Mexican cartels have assumed a greater risk of loss along the extended supply routes, but it also means that they earn a far greater percentage of the profit derived from South American cocaine than they did when the Colombian cartels called the shots.

While Mexican cartels have always been involved in the smuggling of marijuana to the U.S. market, and marijuana sales serve as an important profit pool for them, the increasing popularity of other drugs in the United States in recent years, such as black-tar heroin and methamphetamine, has also helped bring big money (and power) to the Mexican cartels. These drugs have proved to be quite lucrative for the Mexican cartels because the cartels own the entire production process. This is not the case with cocaine, which the cartels have to purchase from South American suppliers.

These changes in the flow of narcotics into the United States mean that the Mexican narcotics-smuggling corridors into the United States are now more lucrative than ever for the Mexican cartels, and the increasing value of these corridors has heightened the competition — and the violence — to control them. The fighting has become quite bloody and, in many cases, quite personal, involving blood vendettas that will not be easily buried.

The violence occurring in Mexico today also has quite a different dynamic from the violence that occurred in Colombia in the late 1980s. In Colombia at that time, Pablo Escobar declared war on the government, and his team of sicarios conducted terrorist attacks like  destroying the Department of Administrative Security headquarters with a huge truck bomb and bombing a civilian airliner in an attempt to kill a presidential candidate, among other operations. Escobar thought his attacks could intimidate the Colombian government into the kind of accommodation being in discussed in Mexico today, but his calculation was wrong and the attacks served only to steel public opinion and government resolve against him.

Most of the violence in Mexico today is cartel-on-cartel, and the cartels have not chosen to explicitly target civilians or the government. Even the violence we do see directed against Mexican police officers or government figures is usually not due to their positions but to the perception that they are on the payroll of a competing cartel. There are certainly exceptions to this, but cartel attacks against government figures are usually attempts to undercut the support network of a competing cartel and not acts of retribution against the government. Cartel groups like Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) have even produced and distributed video statements in which they say they don’t want to fight the federal government and the military, just corrupt officers aligned with their enemies.

This dynamic means that, even if the Mexican military and federal police were to ease up on their operations against drug-smuggling activities, the war among the cartels (and factions of cartels) would still continue.


The Hydra

In addition to the raging cartel-on-cartel violence, any future effort to reach an accommodation with the cartels will also be hampered by the way the cartel landscape has changed over the past few years. Consider this: Three and a half years ago, the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) was a part of the Sinaloa Federation. Following the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva in January 2008, Alfredo’s brothers blamed Sinaloa chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, declared war on El Chapo and split from the Sinaloa Federation to form their own organization. Following the December 2009 death of Alfredo’s brother, Arturo Beltran Leyva, the organization further split into two factions: One was called the Cartel Pacifico del Sur, which was led by the remaining Beltran Leyva brother, Hector, and the other, which retained the BLO name, remained loyal to Alfredo’s chief of security, Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal. Following the August 2010 arrest of La Barbie, his faction of the BLO split into two pieces, one joining with some local criminals in Acapulco to form the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA). So not only did the BLO leave the Sinaloa Federation, it also split twice to form three new cartels.

There are two main cartel groups, one centered on the Sinaloa Federation and the other on Los Zetas, but these groups are loose alliances rather than hierarchical organizations, and there are still many smaller independent players, such as CIDA, La Resistencia and the CJNG. This means that a government attempt to broker some sort of universal understanding with the cartels in order to decrease the violence would be far more challenging than it would have been a decade ago.

Even if the government could gather all these parties together and convince them to agree to cease hostilities, the question for all parties would be: How reliable are all the promises being made? The various cartels frequently make alliances and agreements, only to break them, and close allies can quickly become the bitterest enemies — like the Gulf cartel and its former enforcer wing, Los Zetas.

We have heard assertions over the last several years that the Calderon administration favors the Sinaloa Federation and that the president’s real plan to quell the violence in Mexico is to allow or even assist the Sinaloa Federation to become the dominant cartel in Mexico. According to this narrative, the Sinaloa Federation could impose peace through superior firepower and provide the Mexican government a single point of contact instead of the various heads of the cartel hydra. One problem with implementing such a concept is that some of the most vicious violence Mexico has seen in recent years has followed an internal split involving the Sinaloa Federation, such as the BLO/Sinaloa war.


From DTO to TCO

Another problem is the change that has occurred in the nature of the crimes the cartels commit. The Mexican cartels are no longer just drug cartels, and they no longer just sell narcotics to the U.S. market. This reality is even reflected in the bureaucratic acronyms that the U.S. government uses to refer to the cartels. Up until a few months ago, it was common to hear U.S. government officials refer to the Mexican cartels using the acronym “DTOs,” or drug trafficking organizations. Today, that acronym is rarely, if ever, heard. It has been replaced by “TCO,” which stands for transnational criminal organization. This acronym recognizes that the Mexican cartels engage in many criminal enterprises, not just narcotics smuggling.

As the cartels have experienced difficulty moving large loads of narcotics into the United States due to law enforcement pressure, and the loss of smuggling corridors to rival gangs, they have sought to generate revenue by diversifying their lines of business. Mexican cartels have become involved in kidnapping, extortion, cargo theft, oil theft and diversion, arms smuggling, human smuggling, carjacking, prostitution and music and video piracy. These additional lines of business are lucrative, and there is little likelihood that the cartels would abandon them even if smuggling narcotics became easier.

As an aside, this diversification is also a factor that must be considered in discussing the legalization of narcotics and the impact that would have on the Mexican cartels. Narcotics smuggling is the most substantial revenue stream for the cartels, but is not their only line of business. If the cartels were to lose the stream of revenue from narcotics sales, they would still be heavily armed groups of killers who would be forced to rely more on their other lines of business. Many of these other crimes, like extortion and kidnapping, by their very nature focus more direct violence against innocent victims than drug trafficking does.

Another way the cartels have sought to generate revenue through alternative means is to increase drug sales inside Mexico. While drugs sell for less on the street in Mexico than they do in the United States, they require less overhead, since they don’t have to cross the U.S. border. At the same time, the street gangs that are distributing these drugs into the local Mexican market have also become closely allied with the cartels and have served to swell the ranks of the cartel enforcer groups. For example, Mara Salvatrucha has come to work closely with Los Zetas, and Los Aztecas have essentially become a wing of the Juarez cartel.

There has been a view among some in Mexico that the flow of narcotics through Mexico is something that might be harmful for the United States but doesn’t really harm Mexico. Indeed, as the argument goes, the money the drug trade generates for the Mexican economy is quite beneficial. The increase in narcotics sales in Mexico belies this, and in many places, such as the greater Mexico City region, much of the violence we’ve seen involves fighting over turf for local drug sales and not necessarily fighting among the larger cartel groups (although, in some areas, there are instances of the larger cartel groups asserting their dominance over these smaller local-level groups).

As the Mexican election approaches, the idea of accommodating the cartels may continue to be presented as a logical alternative to the present policies, and it might be used to gain political capital, but anyone who carefully examines the situation on the ground will see that the concept is totally untenable. In fact, the conditions on the ground leave the Mexican president with very little choice. This means that in the same way President Obama was forced by ground realities to follow many of the Bush administration policies he criticized as a candidate, the next Mexican president will have little choice but to follow the policies of the Calderon administration in continuing the fight against the cartels.

24017  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Rick Perry? on: June 15, 2011, 09:56:35 PM
Up to now, Rick Perry has had a point in professing no interest in running for the presidency, Why bother? The voluble Texas governor sits atop a state that looks more like one of the boom nations of Southeast Asia than the faltering 49 across America.

The Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas recently estimated that since June 2009, Texas has produced about 37% of the net new jobs in the U.S. At The Journal's offices this week, Gov. Perry said a closer look puts the Texas new-jobs number closer to 48%. Whatever. It's an astounding feat.

What's more, Rick Perry deeply believes the nation's greatness is found within its 50 separate states, not Washington. Why go to the failed city?

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Martin Kozlowski
 .A few months ago, it was probably true that Rick Perry wasn't running. His two top political aides left him to join the Gingrich campaign. There is no way these two would have deserted Perryland for Newt's world if the governor were making a presidential run. Since Newt's staff collapsed, both are back with Mr. Perry, who's currently got a presidential announcement wound tighter than the Dallas Mavs' defense.

My guess is he's in. Why? He got clearance from what obviously has become the second-most powerful force in American politics—a candidate's wife. In the governor's telling, his wife, Anita, sat him down and said this was no ordinary presidential election for the country. Rick, you've gotta run.

She's right about the race. There may be lots of reasons not to put oneself through the modern presidential gauntlet, but not this time. Four more years of below-average economic growth and above-trend unemployment and it'll take a generation for the U.S. to climb out. The betting here is that Anita Perry wins this argument. They usually do.

What does Rick Perry bring to what is now a slow dance? Three things: Texas, Texas and the Tenth Amendment.

With Rick Perry, you get a double helping of Texas—the person and the state itself. That leads naturally to the early-stage question: Is Rick Perry more Texas than the nation can handle?

Some say that if you close your eyes, you could swear you're hearing George W. Bush and (to some ears) that awful West Texas accent. I don't. Unlike the former president, Mr. Perry has fine-tuned the sound of Texas (Paint Creek, north of Abilene) into a semi-syrupy drawl. And unlike most pols, he delivers a speech in more than one note.

On Tuesday night in Manhattan (N.Y.), he gave the keynote at the New York Republicans' Lincoln dinner, and when Rick Perry got soft and quiet—I know this will sound nuts—it had the whiff of that comfy Jimmy Stewart drawl in his cowboy movies.

 Perry would give the race three things: himself, Texas and the 10th Amendment.
.Podcast: Listen to the audio of Wonder Land here. .Onstage, the governor gives you passion. He gives you emotion. Compared to the seven GOP contenders at CNN's 30-seconds-only Twitter debate this week, Rick Perry would be the most animated by far—rocking back, his arms tossed out in broad sweeps. Which brings us to the "swagger problem." Can America handle Rick Perry's Texas swagger?

He's given to wearing cowboy boots. He wears starched, high-collar white shirts with big Texas cufflinks. He sports a fat Texas A&M Aggies ring. He's plenty Texas alright. Any other time, it might be fatal. Not now. The 2012 electorate—fraught over the economic future—is going to blow right past personal quirks to laser in on what the candidate says about the Problem. This is going to be a substance election. What of substance does Rick Perry offer?

Texas. Without the details of the Texas economic boom, this is a normal candidacy. But the details are impressive. Texas is a zero income-tax state, and Mr. Perry gives the impression he'd die at the Alamo before allowing one. The state is historically business-friendly. I recall attending the 1992 GOP convention in Houston, visiting from New York, and feeling as if I were in a capitalist utopia. You could argue that many of the state's new companies are mainly fleeing intolerable hells, such as California. But Texas and Mr. Perry keep producing new welcome mats, notably the recent passage of a loser-pays tort-reform bill. Mr. Perry says Haley Barbour told him they'd need turnstiles on the border if that tort bill passed, and indeed the in-migration of doctors to Texas is significant.

What makes a Perry candidacy intriguing is that he has built out the Texas story into a political philosophy, or movement, erected around the Tenth Amendment. In economic terms, Mr. Perry argues that the nation will grow more if we have 50 states competing with each other rather than competing to survive Washington. But it's broader than that. The tea party is mostly about spending. The Perry argument is about the fundamental relationship between the states and Washington. It's about decades of federal encroachment on state prerogatives.

Whether this Lone Star package would fly is anyone's guess. A person who's been governor of Texas awhile has baggage. I-hate-Rick Perry quotes would be a dime a dozen in Texas. Mr. Perry championed a quixotic Trans-Texas Corridor of highways and rail lines. His Enterprise Fund ladles out millions in subsidies to lure corporations. He just pushed through a pre-abortion sonogram requirement. Texas, a large death-penalty state, does a lot of them. A Perry candidacy might not be a slam dunk with independents—unless 9% unemployment trumps everything this election.

Say this—if the Texas governor gets in, you won't see another debate like last Tuesday's GOP flatliner in New Hampshire.

24018  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: June 15, 2011, 09:47:45 PM
 cool cool cool
24019  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reynolds on tax rates on: June 15, 2011, 09:45:24 PM


WSJ

By ALAN REYNOLDS
The intelligentsia of the Democratic Party is growing increasingly enthusiastic about raising the highest federal income tax rates to 70% or more. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich took the lead in February, proposing on his blog "a 70 percent marginal tax rate on the rich." After all, he noted, "between the late 1940s and 1980 America's highest marginal rate averaged above 70 percent. Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower it was 91 percent. Not until the 1980s did Ronald Reagan slash it to 28 percent."

That helped set the stage for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) and nine other House members to introduce the Fairness in Taxation Act in March. That bill would add five tax brackets between 45% and 49% on incomes above $1 million and tax capital gains and dividends at those same high rates. The academic left of the Democratic Party finds this much too timid, and would rather see income tax rates on the "rich" at Mr. Reich's suggested levels—or higher.

This new fascination with tax rates of 70% or more is ostensibly intended to raise gobs of new revenue, so federal spending could supposedly remain well above 24% of gross domestic product (GDP) rather than be scaled back toward the 19% average of 1997-2007.

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...All this nostalgia about the good old days of 70% tax rates makes it sound as though only the highest incomes would face higher tax rates. In reality, there were a dozen tax rates between 48% and 70% during the 1970s. Moreover—and this is what Mr. Reich and his friends always fail to mention—the individual income tax actually brought in less revenue when the highest tax rate was 70% to 91% than it did when the highest tax rate was 28%.

When the highest tax rate ranged from 91% to 92% (1951-63), even the lowest rate was quite high—20% or 22%. As the nearby chart shows, however, those super-high tax rates at all income levels brought in revenue of only 7.7% of GDP, according to U.S. budget historical data.

President John F. Kennedy's across-the-board tax cuts reduced the lowest and highest tax rates to 14% and 70% respectively after 1964, yet revenues (after excluding the 5%-10% surtaxes of 1969-70) rose to 8% of GDP. President Reagan's across-the-board tax cuts further reduced the lowest and highest tax rates to 11% and 50%, yet revenues rose again to 8.3% of GDP. The 1986 tax reform slashed the top tax rate to 28%, yet revenues dipped trivially to 8.1% of GDP.

What about those increases in top tax rates in 1990 and 1993? The top statutory rate was raised to 31% in 1991, but it was really closer to 35% because exemptions and deductions were phased-out as incomes increased. The economy quickly slipped into recession—as it did during the surtaxes of 1969-70 and the "bracket creep" of 1980-81, which pushed many middle-income families into higher tax brackets. Revenues fell to 7.8% of GDP.

The 1993 law added two higher tax brackets and, importantly, raised the taxable portion of Social Security benefits to 85% from 50%. At just 8% of GDP, however, individual income tax receipts were surprisingly low during President Bill Clinton's first term.

The Internet/telecom boom of 1998-2000 was the only time individual income tax revenues remained higher than 9% of GDP for more than one year without the economy slipping into recession (as it did when the tax topped 9% in 1969, 1981 and 2001).

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Getty Images
 
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich
.But that was an unrepeatable windfall resulting from the quintupling of Nasdaq stocks—combined with (1) the proliferation of nonqualified stock options that have since been thwarted by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, and (2) the 1997 cut in the capital gains tax to 20%. Realized capital gains rose to 4.6% of GDP from 1997 to 2002—up from 2.5% of GDP from 1987 to 1996 when the capital gains tax was 28%.

Suppose the Congress let all of the Bush tax cuts expire in 2013, which is the current trajectory. That would bring us back to the tax regime of 1993-96 when the individual income tax brought in no more revenue (8% of GDP) than it did in 2006-08 (8.1% of GDP).

It is true that President Obama proposes raising the capital gains tax to 23.8%, which could raise more revenue than the 28% rate of 1993-96. But a 23.8% tax on capital gains and dividends would nevertheless be high enough to depress stock prices and related tax revenues.

Still, pundits cling to the myth that lower tax rates mean lower revenues. "You do probably get a modest boost to GDP from tax cuts," concedes the Atlantic's Megan McCardle. "But you also get falling tax revenue. It can't be said too often—and there you are, I've said it again."

Yet the chart nearby clearly shows that reductions in U.S. marginal tax rates did not cause "falling tax revenue." It is not necessary to argue that tax rate reduction paid for itself by increasing economic growth. Lowering top marginal tax rates in stages from 91% to 28% paid for itself regardless of what happened to GDP.

It is particularly remarkable that individual tax revenues did not fall as a percentage of GDP because changes in tax law, most notably those of 1986 and 2003, greatly expanded refundable tax credits, personal exemptions and standard deductions. As a result, the Joint Committee on Taxation recently reported that 51% of Americans no longer pay federal income tax.

Since the era of 70% tax rates, the U.S. income tax system has become far more "progressive." Congressional Budget Office estimates show that from 1979 to 2007 average income tax rates fell by 110% to minus 0.4% from 4.1% for the second-poorest quintile of taxpayers. Average tax rates fell by 56% for the middle quintile and 39% for the fourth, but only 8% at the top. Despite these massive tax cuts for the bottom 80%, overall federal revenues were the same 18.5% share of GDP in 2007 as they were in 1979 and individual tax revenues were nearly the same—8.7% of GDP in 1979 versus 8.4% in 2007.

In short, reductions in top tax rates under Presidents Kennedy and Reagan, and reductions in capital gains tax rates under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, not only "paid for themselves" but also provided enough extra revenue to finance negative income taxes for the bottom 40% and record-low income taxes at middle incomes.

Mr. Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of "Income and Wealth" (Greenwood Press 2006).

24020  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 15, 2011, 09:38:03 PM
As I mentioned, I have yet to watch the whole Rep debate.  What is this I hear that Romney called for leaving Afpakia?
24021  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / With allies like this , , , on: June 15, 2011, 09:37:08 PM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 -- 10:15 PM EDT
-----

Pakistan’s Chief Of Army Is Fighting to Keep His Job in Wake of Bin Laden Raid

Pakistan’s army chief, the most powerful man in the country, is fighting to save his position in the face of seething anger from top generals and junior officers since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to Pakistani officials and people who have met the chief in recent weeks.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who has led the army since 2007, faces such intense discontent over what is seen as his cozy relationship with the United States that a colonels’ coup, while unlikely, was not out of the question, said a well-informed Pakistani who has seen the general in recent weeks, as well as an American military official involved with Pakistan for many years.

The Pakistani Army is essentially run by consensus among 11 top commanders, known as the Corps Commanders, and almost all of them, if not all, were demanding that General Kayani get much tougher with the Americans, even edging toward a break, Pakistanis who follow the army closely said.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/world/asia/16pakistan.html?emc=na
24022  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Romney-Bachman? on: June 15, 2011, 04:42:31 PM


By JAMES TARANTO
Yesterday's column on Tim Pawlenty's feebleness in criticizing Mitt Romney's version of ObamaCare prompted several readers to write with the suggestion that Pawlenty is pursuing the vice presidential nomination. We doubt it. We've met with Pawlenty twice in recent months, and he has a well-considered (if, thus far, not so well-implemented) plan to win the presidential nomination. Further, if he was sucking up to the former Massachusetts governor Monday night with a Romney-Pawlenty ticket in mind, that would represent a one-day change in strategy, since it was only Sunday morning when Pawlenty referred to "ObamneyCare."

Furthermore, if Pawlenty were angling for the subordinate spot on a Romney ticket, blurring the two men's differences would be precisely the wrong way of going about it. Pawlenty on Monday did not display any strengths to compensate for Romney's weaknesses. Other than regional appeal--the Upper Midwest, though lately a Democratic stronghold in presidential elections, is an area where Republicans can reasonably hope to do better--it's hard to see what Pawlenty would bring to the ticket.

Steve Moore says that Rep. Michele Bachmann could win Iowa.

But if we assume Romney is to be the nominee--a big "if," let us emphasize--then another candidate's performance Monday amounted to a very effective audition for the vice presidency: Michele Bachmann.

Whereas the argument for Pawlenty is that he is most things to all people--that few voters have any reason to be against him--Bachmann stirs genuine enthusiasm among two of the Republican factions most wary of Romney: the Tea Party and the religious right. A Romney-Bachmann ticket would be balanced in terms of ideology (he's moderate, she's conservative), governing style (he's technocratic, she's idealistic), religion (he's Mormon, she's evangelical) and, of course, sex.

This column has no brief for Romney, but strictly as political analysis, we'd say a Romney-Bachmann ticket looks more formidable than the McCain-Palin ticket that lost in 2008. Romney, unlike McCain, has executive and private-sector experience. He's in his mid-60s, old enough that his maturity makes for an attractive contrast with Barack Obama, but not so old that anyone will wonder if he's up to the job.

Romney's biggest weakness is the one The Wall Street Journal identified in a hard-hitting editorial last month titled "Obama's Running Mate":

Presidents lead by offering a vision for the country rooted in certain principles, not by promising a technocracy that runs on "data." Mr. Romney's highest principle seems to be faith in his own expertise.
Like another Massachusetts governor who ran for president, Romney would promise "competence, not ideology"--although Michael Dukakis actually was an ideologue of the liberal left. But again, Romney looks better than McCain, who offered a lack of vision but no reason to think he was a competent administrator.

 
Associated Press
 
Mitt campaigns for Michele in 2008.
.As for Bachmann, her biggest advantage over Sarah Palin may be that she is now running for president. That means that if Romney were to name her a year hence, she would be far a more familiar and media-savvy politician than Palin was in 2008. She would be much less vulnerable to both smears from the partisan media and unforced errors like Palin's disastrous interview with Katie Couric, whoever that is. For those who care about such things, the presence of a woman on the ticket might serve as an excuse to vote against re-electing the first black president.

To be sure, Bachmann is running for the presidential nomination, and while no one considers her the favorite, she's surely a shorter shot than she was a few days ago. But a rival who is able to attract significant support in the primaries is likely to bring more to the ticket than one who isn't. What did Joe Biden get Barack Obama other than comic relief?

An interesting aside: A Romney-Bachmann ticket, or a Romney-Pawlenty one for that matter, would combine candidates from the only state Richard Nixon lost in 1972 and the only state Reagan lost in 1984. What's more, of the seven GOP candidates on stage Monday, all but Rick Santorum come from the home state of at least one Democratic presidential nominee since 1960. The four states in question--Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas--have produced a majority of Democratic nominees (8 of 13) during that time.

24023  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Switch hitter vs. switch pitcher on: June 15, 2011, 04:36:42 PM


http://www.shoonsports.com/switch-hitter-vs-switch-pitcher-pat-venditte/

24024  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bull Wesbury breaks into a canter, running of bulls to come? ;-) on: June 15, 2011, 04:00:52 PM
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The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.2% in May To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 6/15/2011


The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.2% in May versus a consensus expected gain of 0.1%. The CPI is up 3.6% versus a year ago.

“Cash” inflation (which excludes the government’s estimate of what homeowners would charge themselves for rent) was up 0.2% in May and is up 4.2% in the past year.

The rise in the CPI came despite a 1.0% drop in energy prices. Food prices were up 0.4%. Excluding food and energy, the “core” CPI increased 0.3% versus a consensus expected gain of 0.2%. Core prices are up 1.5% versus last year.

Real average hourly earnings – the cash earnings of all employees, adjusted for inflation – rose 0.1% in May but are down 1.6% in the past year. Real weekly earnings are down 1.0% in the past year.

Implications:  The Federal Reserve is running out of room to hide. Policymakers have used low “core” consumer inflation (which excludes food and energy) to justify keeping short-term interest rates near zero. But core inflation is accelerating. Although core prices are still up only 1.5% in the past year, they increased 0.3% in May – the most for any month since 2006 – and are up at a 2.5% annual rate in the past three months. The increase in core prices in May was broad-based, led by vehicle costs, shelter (homes and hotels), and clothing. The unusually sharp increase in auto prices in May is related to supply-chain disruptions from Japan. But accelerating core inflation is evident even without autos. The surprising news in today’s report was that, despite a 1% drop in energy prices, overall consumer prices still climbed 0.2%, which was more than the consensus expected. The CPI is up 3.6% in the past year.  The measure we closely follow, “cash inflation,” is everything in the CPI (including food and energy) but without owners’ equivalent rent (the government’s estimate of what homeowners would pay if they rented their own homes). Cash inflation also increased 0.2% in May and is up 4.2% versus a year ago. Inflation has been evident at the producer level for some time. Now, producers are passing some of those costs on to consumers. Rising inflation is a concern now, but we fully expect the Fed to maintain short-term interest rates near zero until mid-2012.

24025  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Unemployment Ins. clusterfcuk on: June 15, 2011, 03:39:13 PM
Unemployment insurance is primarily the charge of state governments, but lately it has developed into an unhealthy relationship with Washington that has become unaffordable. To restore some balance, Republicans in Congress are proposing to give states more flexibility in how they spend federal unemployment dollars. Democrats call the plan an end to federal unemployment subsidies as most people know them. If only.

In the 1930s the federal government established a loose framework for jobless insurance that gives states leeway to determine their own tax rates, eligibility and benefits. Most states provide 26 weeks of benefits, which are funded by state payroll taxes on employers. During periods of high unemployment, states are required by federal law to extend benefits by another 13 weeks. The federal government typically funds half of these extended benefits.

As part of the 2009 stimulus bill—the source of so much fiscal mayhem—Congress agreed to subsidize all 13 weeks of extended benefits and gave states $7 billion to expand their eligibility. That was a Faustian bargain because states will have to pay more benefits over the long run for all of the new individuals that they've added to their rolls.

Congress has since funded an additional 60 weeks of "emergency" benefits, for a total of 99 weeks. The most Congress had previously extended benefits was up to 33 weeks during the early 1990s. The catch is that states now can't reduce their weekly benefit amounts or eligibility. So the only real options for states whose unemployment trust funds are running dry is to take out loans or raise taxes on employers. Roughly 30 states have done the former, but the way that the unemployment system works has made higher taxes nearly inevitable.

If states don't pay down the principal on their loans within about two years of their loan's origination—which is this year for most states—the system requires the feds to raise employer payroll taxes by 0.3% each year that a state's loan is left outstanding. Employers in 22 states will likely see their taxes rise this year, which means less incentive to hire even as the jobless rate is still 9.1%.

That's where the GOP's Jobs Act would help. The bill would let states use the remaining $31 billion of the $56 billion in unemployment benefits that Congress appropriated last year for other purposes like paying off their federal loans or reducing employer taxes. Imagine that—a jobs bill that actually promotes jobs. States with high unemployment could continue to spend the funds on benefits, but they would no longer be required to do so.

Meanwhile, more evidence has arrived that jobless subsidies are a disincentive work. A recent report by Chicago Federal Reserve economists Luojia Hu and Shani Schechter indicates that benefit extensions account for a roughly 1% increase in the unemployment rate. They calculate that between 10% and 25% of the recent decline in unemployment is due to people exhausting their benefits. Allowing the extended emergency benefits to expire, they conclude, could help reverse their adverse effects on employment.

The jobless subsidies for this year have already been appropriated, so the best Republicans can do is let extended benefits sunset at the end of this year and let states put the appropriated money to more productive uses. Then get on with the task of stopping job-killing government policies.

24026  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: China's Cyber Assault on: June 15, 2011, 12:46:41 PM
This eems rather ominous , , ,

By RICHARD CLARKE
In justifying U.S. involvement in Libya, the Obama administration cited the "responsibility to protect" citizens of other countries when their governments engage in widespread violence against them. But in the realm of cyberspace, the administration is ignoring its primary responsibility to protect its own citizens when they are targeted for harm by a foreign government.

Senior U.S. officials know well that the government of China is systematically attacking the computer networks of the U.S. government and American corporations. Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know-how and government plans. In a global competition among knowledge-based economies, Chinese cyberoperations are eroding America's advantage.

The Chinese government indignantly denies these charges, claiming that the attackers are nongovernmental Chinese hackers, or other governments pretending to be China, or that the attacks are fictions generated by anti-Chinese elements in the United States. Experts in the U.S. and allied governments find these denials hard to believe.

Three years ago, the head of the British Security Service wrote to hundreds of corporate chief executive officers in the U.K. to advise them that their companies had in all probability been hacked by the government of China. Neither the FBI nor the Department of Homeland Security has issued such a notice to U.S. executives, but most corporate leaders already know it.

Some, like Google, have the courage to admit that they have been the victims of Chinese hacking. We now know that the "Aurora" attack (so named by the U.S. government because the English word appears in the attack software) against Google in 2009 also hit dozens of other information technology companies—allegedly including Adobe, Juniper and Cisco—seeking their source code. Aurora wasn't an isolated event. This month Google renewed its charge against China, noting that the Gmail accounts of senior U.S. officials had been compromised from a server in China. The targeting of specific U.S. officials is not something that a mere hacker gang could do.

The Aurora attacks were followed by systematic penetrations of one industry after another. In the so-called Night Dragon series, attackers apparently in China went after major oil and gas companies, not only in the U.S. but throughout the world. The German government claims that the personal computer of Chancellor Angela Merkel was hacked by the Chinese government. Australia has also claimed that its prime minister was targeted by Chinese hackers.

Recently the computer-security company RSA (a division of EMC) was penetrated by an intrusion which appears to have stolen the secret sauce behind the company's SecureID. That system is widely used to protect critical computer networks. And this month, the largest U.S. defense contractor, Lockheed, was subject to cyberespionage, apparently by someone using the stolen RSA data. Cyber criminals don't hack defense contractors—they go after banks and credit cards. Despite Beijing's public denials, this attack and many others have all the hallmarks of Chinese government operations.

In 2009, this newspaper reported that the control systems for the U.S. electric power grid had been hacked and secret openings created so that the attacker could get back in with ease. Far from denying the story, President Obama publicly stated that "cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid."

There is no money to steal on the electrical grid, nor is there any intelligence value that would justify cyber espionage: The only point to penetrating the grid's controls is to counter American military superiority by threatening to damage the underpinning of the U.S. economy. Chinese military strategists have written about how in this way a nation like China could gain an equal footing with the militarily superior United States.

What would we do if we discovered that Chinese explosives had been laid throughout our national electrical system? The public would demand a government response. If, however, the explosive is a digital bomb that could do even more damage, our response is apparently muted—especially from our government.

Congress hasn't passed a single piece of significant cybersecurity legislation. When the Chinese deny senior U.S. officials' claims (made in private) that Beijing is stealing terabytes of data in the U.S., Congress should not leave the American people in doubt. It should demand answers to basic questions:

What does the administration know about the role of the Chinese government in cyberattacks on public and private computer networks in the United States?

If there is widespread Chinese hacking of sensitive U.S. networks and critical infrastructure, what has the administration said about it to the Chinese government? Specifically, did President Obama raise concerns about these attacks with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House this spring?

Since defensive measures such as antivirus software and firewalls appear unable to stop the Chinese penetrations, does the administration have any plan to address these cyberattacks?

In private, U.S. officials admit that the government has no strategy to stop the Chinese cyberassault. Rather than defending American companies, the Pentagon seems focused on "active defense," by which it means offense. That cyberoffense might be employed if China were ever to launch a massive cyberwar on the U.S. But in the daily guerrilla cyberwar with China, our government is engaged in defending only its own networks. It is failing in its responsibility to protect the rest of America from Chinese cyberattack.

Mr. Clarke was a national security official in the White House for three presidents. He is chairman of Good Harbor Consulting, a security risk management consultancy for governments and corporations.

24027  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 15, 2011, 12:28:55 PM
Andraz:

Looks like he's read a bit more than one or two books evil
24028  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US's non-policy on: June 15, 2011, 12:22:19 PM


http://www.mexidata.info/id2933.html
24029  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Hiatus on: June 15, 2011, 11:53:34 AM
President Obama's re-election machine is already running full bore, but has his entire Administration also decamped for the campaign trail? We ask because the towering ambitions of Mr. Obama's first two years have suddenly gone into abeyance in his third, apparently to be deferred until years five through eight. The White House is more or less conceding that it doesn't have a chance of winning a second term unless his major policies go on hiatus.

This holiday from committing liberal history began in December with the White House-GOP deal that extended the Bush tax rates through the 2012 election and added a payroll tax cut on employees to 4.2% from 6.2%. These proposals came from the same Democrats who only months earlier had increased payroll taxes to finance their health-care bill and routinely claim that tax rates don't matter to the private economy. But then, 9.1% joblessness and 1.8% growth have a way of concentrating the political mind.

Next came the much-ballyhooed White House scrub for "excessive" regulation, even as hundreds of new rules mandated by the legislation of the first two years continue to be written and to slow business investment. But at least the rule review persuaded the Environmental Protection Agency to stop treating dairy farm milk spills as if they were Gulf oil leaks. That should help next year in Wisconsin.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
The White House is more or less conceding that Mr. Obama's major policies must go on hiatus.
.Picking up the vacation pace, this week the EPA delayed by two months the carbon regulations that it wants to impose, even as it resists bipartisan attempts on Capitol Hill to kill them altogether. Next up may be a delay in pending regulations meant to harm coal-fired power, before opponents gather enough votes to kill them. The EPA has already yanked an entire rule that would have forced thousands of businesses to install new industrial boilers.

Maybe the White House should short-circuit all this by dispatching EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to an undisclosed location through November 2012.

Also this week, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission voted—five to zero—to delay by six months the derivatives swap rules that were due this month under the Dodd-Frank financial re-regulation. The alphabet soup of financial regulators will eventually add tens of thousands of pages to the Federal Register, but for now they are conceding that the derivatives market isn't the calamity they claimed it was in the rush to pass the bill.

Then there's health care. Over the last year, the Health and Human Services Department has granted at least 1,372 temporary waivers to ObamaCare mandates, most notably for price controls on private insurance companies. Many have gone to Democratic allies like unions, but many more went to ordinary businesses and even states. HHS has already given a pass to Nevada, New Hampshire and Maine, and another dozen or so have applied or are expected to ask for exemptions.

 Opinion Journal Columnist John Fund on the GOP presidential debate.
.This is less political favoritism than a panicked, ad hoc bid to minimize pre-election insurance disruptions that can be attributed to a law that is still widely reviled. If the law isn't enforced, maybe voters will forget it passed. In its New Hampshire reprieve, HHS admitted that ObamaCare would "destabilize the individual market," though it neglected to mention that this is what ObamaCare is meant to do. Just not yet.

By the way, this waiver process isn't in the law's statutory language. HHS has simply created it via regulation. In other words, the health bureaucracy knew the rules they were writing would be destructive and have created a political safety valve. They have even found a way to override ObamaCare's cuts to the Medicare Advantage program that were counted as "savings" to make the health bill look less spendthrift. Medicare Advantage offers insurance choices to one in four seniors and is popular in, well, Florida, so seniors also get a two-year reprieve.

Why aren't liberals deploring this betrayal of their programs? Perhaps because even they can't ignore reality forever. Mr. Obama's epic fiscal binge, waves of new industrial policy and the political allocation of credit haven't created the boom they promised. If business can now be persuaded that the government assault is over and start to invest again so the economy improves enough for Mr. Obama to win a second term, then a two-year delay in fulfilling their dreams is well worth it.

Liberals figure that as long as Mr. Obama can be re-elected next year on another hope-and-change platform, it will be too late to hope to change anything and he can then return to his legacy project of building a tax and entitlement state on the European model. The economy may benefit from Mr. Obama's temporary amnesty, but the real lesson of this hiatus from liberalism is that it should be shut down permanently.

24030  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Fred Burton on tracking OBL's courier on: June 15, 2011, 10:44:31 AM

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the sophisticated surveillance operation that led to the raid on Osama bin Laden’s safe house in Pakistan.


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

In this week’s Above the Tearline, we thought we’d take a look at the highly sophisticated surveillance operation that took place many weeks before the SEAL Team Six takedown of the Osama bin Laden safe house.

In the aftermath of the bin Laden takedown, most of the mainstream media has been focused on the brilliant SEAL Team Six assault on the compound. What we would like to take a look at is the highly sophisticated CIA surveillance operation that took place on the courier, who was bin Laden’s lifeline to the free world. Trade craft wise, the surveillance of the courier is the brilliance in this operation in my assessment, meaning you had to set up a standalone safe house in country for a CIA team to operate it in without the knowledge of the Pakistani government. In essence you’re operating behind enemy lines.

One of the other concepts of operating a unilateral surveillance team in a foreign country is the notion of third-party intelligence services trying to figure out what you’re doing. Such as the Indian Intelligence Bureau, the Russian SVR, as well as the very aggressive intelligence capabilities of and organizations such as al Qaeda getting wind of what your team could be doing. The personnel operating in this surveillance team are on a very dangerous mission. In essence, if caught they are committing crimes against Pakistan and they are on their own. They’re operating - the term is black - in country so the U.S. would not acknowledge any activities on the part of our government if the surveillance team had been picked up before the bin Laden operation went down.

The courier was operationally very secure. For example he would remove his cell phone battery so the cell phone could not have been used to track his movements to the compound. And think about the surveillance team and the ability to follow that man without getting caught. At any point along this operation if the courier saw the surveillance team, the operation would’ve been blown. I know from first-hand experience in the Ramzi Yousef case, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing, that elements within the Pakistani ISI cannot be trusted so this is why the CIA decided to put together a unilateral operation once they had the lead on the courier. And the logistics, and the care and feeding and the backstop of what took place to get this team into country to surveil all the courier from many, many weeks before the bin Laden operation is probably the most brilliant CIA surveillance operation in quite some time.

24031  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / You say you do not believe on: June 15, 2011, 08:47:32 AM


From a letter by the Rebbe:

I do not accept your assertion that you do not believe.

For if you truly had no concept of a Supernal Being Who created the world with purpose, then what is all this outrage of yours against the injustice of life?

The substance of the universe is not moral, nor are plants and animals. Why should it surprise you that whoever is bigger and more powerful swallows his fellow alive?

It is only due to an inner conviction in our hearts, shared by every human being, that there is a Judge, that there is right and there is wrong. And so, when we see a wrong, we demand an explanation: Why is this not the way it is supposed to be?

That itself is belief in G-d.


24032  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Medved on: June 15, 2011, 08:18:07 AM
Well, the writer seems to be thinking of two specific items:  

a) the $200m comment, which does seem to be a moment of poor/reckless fact checking, and

b) the wrong state comment, which personally I file under the same heading as Obama once saying there were 57 states.

Here's Medved's analysis:

The headline for the big GOP debate should read “ROMNEY SOLIDIFIES HIS STATUS AS FRONTRUNNER” but the appropriate sub-head may prove even more significant in the long run: “Bachmann Makes Energetic and Well-Received Debut.” At this point, no one should doubt that the feisty congresswoman from Minnesota will emerge as a major contender—certainly in Iowa (where she was born and raised, and where her evangelical fervor will rally Mike Huckabee’s currently unfocused cadres) and, if she wins there, then most likely in the rest of the country.
Michelle Bachmann greets the audience after the presidential debate at St. Anselms College in Manchester, New Hampshire on June 13, 2011. (Photo: Shannon Stapleton, Reuters / Landov)

For weeks, political analysts have argued that the biggest question about the shape of the Republican race involved identifying the anti-Mitt—the formidable Romney rival who could provide a rallying point for all those who for, whatever reason, found the former Massachusetts governor unacceptable. In recent weeks it looked increasingly likely that Tim Pawlenty would play that role, especially after he unveiled an audacious economic plan that was generally well-received among conservatives. But the New Hampshire debate (carried on CNN) will give rise to feverish speculation that Bachmann may gain momentum as the Mittster’s most fearsome rock-the-establishment challenger.

It’s not that Bachmann delivered a brilliant or masterful or inspiring performance on the stage at St. Anselm College, where she announced her formal candidacy in the midst of the broadcast; it’s just that she so wildly exceeded expectations, especially from all those skeptics who wrote her off long-ago as a whining, unhinged Sarah Palin wannabe, without the moose-hunting exoticism, flirtatious mien or flighty, ditzy voice.

Actually, the main reason that Bachmann helped herself so substantially is that her credibility should destroy the final, forlorn and dwindling chance that the former Alaska governor might still join the race. Tea Party enthusiasts who adore Palin for her fearless, unabashedly conservative positions, girl-next-door sex appeal, impassioned patriotism, and vibrant family life will find a more convincing, less tarnished version of the same virtues in Bachmann. She’s the mother of five (like Palin) and she and her husband raised 23 teenaged foster children (as she told the TV audience three different times), taking kids from troubled inner city backgrounds and guiding them all successfully through high school, with most of them ultimately enrolling in college. Moreover, in the New Hampshire debate Bachmann looked simply smashing—radiant, self-assured, elegantly understated in her tailored, severe black suit with the luminous white blouse, simultaneously formidable and friendly, with her piercing, pale blue eyes igniting for the camera like Bunsen Burners every time she spoke.

One of the common rules for such encounters spells out that the candidate who seems to enjoy himself (or herself) the most, almost always wins the public; that’s why Huckabee, hugely accomplished raconteur and communicator that he is, won every one of last year’s GOP debates and became a major candidate despite lack of money and no prior name recognition. Michele Bachmann, who sparkled and smiled and clearly enjoyed herself more than any of her stiff, often somber male colleagues, has already demonstrated considerable fund-raising prowess (her 2010 congressional campaign broke records) and enjoys semi-celebrity status because of her notorious rants on cable TV.

In this appearance, however, she had obviously abandoned the flame-thrower persona in favor of approach that could actually qualify as… presidential. She looked seasoned and sure-footed most of the night, even though she stumbled through two confusing and contradictory answers to late-in-the-game questions on social issues (about whether she’d accept gay marriage in states like New Hampshire where it’s already operational, and how she felt about Pawlenty’s willingness to permit abortions in instances of rape, incest, and a risk to the mother’s life).

More interesting than these abstruse ruminations were her political instincts at the conclusion of the formal broadcast. CNN kept cameras on the candidates as the network talking-heads delivered voice-over commentary on what had just occurred. Most of the contenders embraced their wives and socialized with one another, milling about on stage. I noticed that Bachmann, on the other hand, plunged into the crowd of spectators, shaking hands, signing autographs, making new friends, flashing that perfect smile with its charmingly imperfect teeth. She is, quite simply, one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met in politics and she gained ground in the debate because some of that natural warmth and ebullience managed to come across.

As for Romney, he also helped himself, showing vast improvement from his robotic debate performances from four years before. Two strengths stood out most conspicuously here: first, his admirable ability to turn any question on any subject into an opportunity to bash Obama, as if they were already fighting it out for the White House, just the two of them. He never let the audience forget that the president represented his true opponent and that any minor disagreements with Pawlenty or Santorum or Gingrich hardly mattered.

Second, it’s obvious that Mitt has now conquered one of the toughest challenges facing any participant in televised debates—listening to your rivals respectfully, without looking smug or supercilious or discomfited or, worst of all, bored. Al Gore famously lost his second debate with George W. Bush in large part because he greeted many of his opponent’s answers with audible, impatient sighs. Romney on the other hand, looked directly at the other debaters when they spoke, smiling sympathetically, suggesting fellowship, courtesy, even open-mindedness. In general, Mitt looked considerably more comfortable and more at ease than he ever did in 2008; assuming he’s received some serious media coaching, it’s safe to say it paid off handsomely.

His only weak moment came on a question suggesting that pro-lifers might distrust him because he formally endorsed abortion rights. His feeble, oddly plaintive answer—that he counted as proudly, unequivocally pro-life because he had campaigned that way four years ago—amounted to a missed opportunity to reassure those who still see in Romney an excess of calculation and a shortage of passion.

The biggest missed opportunity, however, marred Pawlenty’s otherwise capable outing: when asked why he had used the term “Obamaney-care” on Fox News to emphasize the similarity between the health plans of Barack and Mitt, he provided only a lame narrative (which he recited twice) about Obama himself suggesting he had borrowed key ideas from the Massachusetts plan Romney at one time proudly promoted. Pawlenty pointedly refused to engage Romney on his point of greatest vulnerability, even after moderator John King goaded him by saying he had been willing to make snide remarks about Mitt in the safety of a cable news studio, but wouldn’t try it when his rival stood beside him for a live televised event.

In one sense, T-Paw may have displayed admirable instincts to avoid going after his opponent with hammer-and-tong ferocity in their very first joint appearance; it’s probably too early in the process for any sort of nasty confrontation. But he should have at least cited the main similarity between Romney’s health reform and Obama’s bureaucratic nightmare: both schemes rely on an individual mandate, in which government uses its bullying power to require that every citizen purchase health insurance. Pawlenty could have delivered a far more effective but still gracious response by saying, “No, I don’t want to debate the details of Governor Romney’s plan—that’s irrelevant outside of Massachusetts, and I understand that in that very liberal state there are some people who still like it. But I just think it’s the wrong approach when government gives us more orders rather than allowing us more liberty; when government grows and freedom shrinks. Governor Romney and Barack Obama both supported plans that forced people to buy insurance, whether they wanted it or needed it or not. I just think that’s exactly the wrong approach.”

In other answers, particularly on foreign policy and right-to-work laws, Pawlenty delivered crisp, focused, persuasive sound bites that came across with special effectiveness when delivered in his aw-shucks, Mr. Rogers, friendly neighbor demeanor.

Rick Santorum also provided coherent, thoughtful responses to every question he faced and came across like a seasoned, trustworthy, telegenic and impressive conservative. His problem? There’s no segment of the party base ready to rally to his banner. The Tea Party platoons (effusively praised by Santorum) are already somewhat divided between Ron Paul, Herman Cain and now (in much greater numbers, presumably) Michele Bachmann. If Rick Perry of Texas belatedly joins the fray, he’ll also draw substantial Tea Party support. Santorum, with no money and no natural power-base (he lost his last statewide election in Pennsylvania by 18 points) will find it impossible to escape the dreaded “Good Guy/Can’t Win” label—like the Ralph Bellamy role in Golden Age Hollywood movies, with a character who’s upright, admirable, handsome, hard-working and with no chance at all of winning a glamorous leading lady who’s more likely to go for the raffish Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart.

Finally, the three guys who don’t really belong on that stage: Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Ron Paul.

Newt looked less scary than expected, and never conveyed the battered air of a candidate on an epic losing streak whose presidential aspirations had recently exploded in a welter of accusations and embarrassments. On stage in New Hampshire, he provided informed and well-crafted responses, but hardly delivered the brilliant nuggets one might expect from what pundits invariably describe as “the most brilliant, creative mind in the Republican Party.” Newt did well, but no better than Romney, Pawlenty, Santorum or Bachmann. Given the crushing baggage he must lug through all future laps in this long race, the former Speaker did little to jump-start his sputtering campaign.

Among the seven candidates who showed up at St. Anselm, Herman Cain may have hurt himself the most. His line about “bringing the best minds together in a room, getting the right answers, and then forming a new policy” has begun to sound like a dodge and a platitude, not the endearing modesty of a self-advertised non-politician. His other answers (particularly the muddled and ignorant defense of a prior statement about feeling uncomfortable with a Muslim in his cabinet) showed not just every-man naivete but appalling ignorance. It’s now clear that his problem isn’t that he doesn’t read briefing papers; it’s that he doesn’t read newspapers. As a consistently successful businessman, Mr. Cain ought to realize that no big corporation would hire a new CEO who hadn’t thoroughly familiarized himself with the top issues on the agenda, and proposed decisive approaches; it’s not enough to say you’ll count on experts to set you straight.

And speaking of setting the record straight, I now acknowledge that my past insults aimed at Ron Paul (calling him “Dr. Demento,” among other endearments), may have counted as overly generous. Last time he ran, the Mad Doctor inspired a cult following and raised a great deal of money, but won fewer than 30 delegates and consistently modest primary vote totals. This time, he’ll do even worse: his body language (waving his arms and twitching his eyebrows like a pan-handling street corner prophet predicting the end of the world) and not just his words suggest a crank and a crackpot. Even Dennis Kucinich might have been embarrassed by Dr. Paul’s suggestion that halting the bombing of Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan and Yemen would actually make the United States more secure, or that eliminating “welfare to foreign nations” would allow us to continue current levels of Medicare (that cost more than a hundred times what we spend on all foreign aid programs combined).

At least Dr. Paul rightly ridiculed Herman Cain’s repeated promise to consult experts before reaching decisions. The crotchety 75-year-old promised to bring all the troops home regardless of the advice or insistence of his generals and admirals because, after all “I’m Commander in Chief.”

Those words provided the debate’s single most chilling moment and will encourage any voters who paid attention to this exercise to rush to support the more plausible candidates. Yes, Dr. Paul provides some comic relief and a bit of unpredictability that sometimes enlivens boring televised debates but his presence also undermines the valuable idea that there is such a thing as a consistent GOP message, and that running for the presidency amounts to serious business.

This column appeared originally in The Daily Beast on June 14, 2011.
24033  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison 1822 Freedom of Religion from Government on: June 15, 2011, 08:14:57 AM


"We are teaching the world the great truth that governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of government." --James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, 1822

24034  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taken in by Gay Girl on: June 15, 2011, 08:11:13 AM
Nice summary Rachel!

Another example of dishonesty:

http://townhall.com/columnists/jonahgoldberg/2011/06/15/taken_in_by_gay_girl


Which brings me to this by Andraz:

" if there is a lecture to be had from post-modern crisis of human thought, its that today there is no one true light that illuminates the blind anymore. There are only different stories. Only shades.  But I presume to understand, you were coming up in a time where stories were taken literally and the light was still one and true (for both sides).  I hate to be an old trumpet, and hate it even more to disprove this dubious attempt yet again, but necessity prevails. GM makes things sound so simple. Now its my sacred duty to complicate them and carve the way forth for truth, so it may never rest buried under piles of rubble."

As I think you already know about me Andraz, I fully get the point about shades and different stories, that we are all blind men grasping a different part of the elephant and so forth.  That said, IMHO you seem to go substantively further to a dimension where there is no true and false, no right and wrong.  Posting clips which you admit "very well may have been staged" does not serve to free Truth from under piles of rubble; rather it ADDS rubble and hides it amongst the smoke of obfuscation-- which serves to cause of those who seek to push the Jews into the sea. 

This is the sort of thing that leads to very bright, very well educated academics (i.e. you  cheesy ) speaking such foolishness as Israel "surrounding the Palestinians" and unwilling to notice the clear simple implications of Muslim treatment of the Coptics in Egypt for the nature of Islam in this part of the world.   As Rachel's clip nicely shows, it is the Jews of Israel who have Jerusalem open to all.  It was (and is) the Muslims who seek to deny the history of the Jews there.  Even today they burrow under their mosque seeking to remove the physical evidence that our temple was there before their mosque.

This is the sort of thing that leads to an inability to see that the underlying fundamental problem is not the Jews, it is that the other side contains percentages of those who seek to remove us altogether.

NEVER AGAIN. 

24035  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Bachman on: June 15, 2011, 12:42:53 AM


http://www.theblaze.com/stories/do-you-know-michele-bachmann-a-quick-history-of-her-political-life/
24036  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Salafists accepting democracy? on: June 15, 2011, 12:18:26 AM
On first read, some of this piece strikes me as , , , needing a bit more thought.  That said, the question presented is of profound importance.
==============================

Democratizing Salafists and the War Against Jihadism

Egypt’s provisional military authority on Sunday approved the application of the country’s first Salafist party, Hizb al-Nour. Days earlier, the world’s oldest — and Egypt’s primary — Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, was licensed by the Political Parties Affairs Committee (which is appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces).

According to Egyptian media reports, as many as four other parties of Salafist persuasion are in the making, following unprecedented popular unrest in the country, which led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s government.

“The democratization of Salafism even in a limited form could have far-reaching geopolitical implications. Salafists considering democratic politics as a legitimate means of pursuing political objectives can have a moderating effect on ultra-conservative, extremist and radical forces.”
The establishment of Hizb al-Nour marks the first time a Salafist group has sought to enter relatively free electoral politics in the Arab world. Unlike the bulk of Islamists (of the Muslim Brotherhood persuasion), Salafists (also known as Wahhabists) have generally been ideologically opposed to democracy. From the point of view of Salafists/Wahhabists and other radical Islamists, as well as the jihadists, democracy is un-Islamic because they see it as a system that allows man to enact laws, which, in their opinion, is the right of God.

With Hizb al-Nour as a legal political entity, it appears that at least some Egyptian Salafists seem to have moved past a major redline. As far as Egypt is concerned, they are looking at an intense intra-Islamist competition, which could allow the country’s military to consolidate its position while it oversees the shift toward multiparty politics. From the ruling Egyptian council’s perspective, the presence of Salafists in the electoral mix helps it check the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and vice versa.

The case of Egypt notwithstanding, there will be a great many Salafist actors in the region who will continue to insist that Islam and democracy are incompatible. But the democratization of Salafism even in a limited form could have far-reaching geopolitical implications. Salafists considering democratic politics as a legitimate means of pursuing political objectives can have a moderating effect on ultra-conservative, extremist and radical forces.

At the least, it provokes critical debate that could undermine them from within. There are already a significant number of Salafists who do not support the violent ideology of jihadism and consider it to be a deviation from Salafism. That said, jihadism gained ground due to the fact that mainstream Salafists traditionally have never articulated a political program.

If Salafists in significant numbers embrace democratic politics, it could undermine jihadists in the long run. Mainstream politics could serve as an alternative means of pursuing religious goals — one that is less costly than the path of violence and offers a stake in the political system. Furthermore, it provides for a socialization process that could foster norms whereby Salafists can become comfortable with political pluralism.

In the near term, however, Salafists participating in democratic politics can have a destabilizing effect in the region’s most influential Arab state, Saudi Arabia, at a time when popular demands for political reforms have swept the Arab world. Thus far, the kingdom has remained immune to the mass agitation that has overwhelmed almost every other Arab country. In addition to their petroleum wealth, the Saudis have relied on the Salafist religious establishment to prevent the eruption of public unrest.

The political debut of Egyptian Salafists could, however, encourage some among the Saudi Salafists to follow suit. Salafists in the Saudi kingdom could demand political reforms; in the 1990s, a significant current within Saudi Salafism did engage in such a campaign, albeit unsuccessfully. In the current climate, however, the outcome could differ.

While there is concern in the United States and Israel regarding the entry of Islamists into the political mainstream in the Middle East, Salafists embracing democratic politics could actually help counter violent extremism. In the short term, though, it could destabilize the Arab world’s powerhouse and the world’s leading exporter of crude.

24037  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 14, 2011, 11:40:01 PM
I'm off to spend some time with my wife, but first a few comments:

1) "You speak of Academia like its a coherent whole, „us against the world“ type of an institution, that holds its own in a sea of predators. Well here is some first hand insight : even at hardline scientific cathedras, you would be hard pressed to find phds that agree on something. Viscious competition and backstabbing is common just as it is common in management or sports."

I am reminded of Harvard Prof, Nixon cabinet member, and later US Senator from NY, Daniel Moynihan who commented that Washington politics was child's play to that at Harvard -- working from memory here-- "precisely because so little of import was at stake". 

That said, IMHO it is a simple fact that US academia is overwhelmingly leftist and much of it is dedicated to propagation of leftist ideology and not a search for the Truth.

2) Concerning the description of the video that Kostas posted at my request, I regret my lack of citations, but I do remember receiving it from various places and with considerable certainty I regard my description of it to be quite true.

3) "where IDF soldiers shoot tied civilians point blank range, with high ranking officers present."  Working from memory here again because I am too lazy to go surf through all those videos to double check, but IIRC the shooting was in the leg with a rubber bullet-- in which case your description here leaves a very misleading impression.

There's more, but my wife is cuter than all of you guys put together smiley


24038  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: June 14, 2011, 11:20:25 PM
Glenn is in his final few weeks and is summarizing the themes with which he has been working these past few years before moving on to the next step in his mission.   Some really good stuff every day.

Today some powerful stuff on sexual slavery for infidel women and in a very separate matter an interesting aside about the underlying strategy to putting former Congressional budget maven Panetta in charge of DoD-- it is to prepare the way for major cuts.
24039  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Paks arrest US informants on OBL on: June 14, 2011, 11:17:29 PM
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 -- 10:32 PM EDT
-----

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants Who Aided Bin Laden Raid

Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.

Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

The fate of the C.I.A. informants arrested in Pakistan is unclear, but American officials said that the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, raised the issue when he travelled to Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officers. 


Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/world/asia/15policy.html?emc=na
24040  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: June 14, 2011, 03:45:14 PM
Imagine my surprise to discover we are on Direct TV PPV right now! 

24041  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Should Martial Artists Train Moves They Mastered on: June 14, 2011, 03:40:01 PM
No time at the moment for a substantial post on this interesting question, but for this moment a few random thoughts seriatim:

1) In the first series, you may notice that when Top Dog finishes teaching a segment he says (working from memory here) "Work it, AND MOVE ON" (emphasis added).

2) There is a difference between practice to deepen mastery and repetition of mediocrity.

3) My sense of things is that the search for deeper mastery calls for a certain understanding of real time application and a certain relaxed focus awareness while practicing that allows one to notice increasingly subtle details.

4) There is such a thing as the point of diminishing returns.  A lifetime does not suffice, so why go past the point of diminishing returns? The fastest progress comes from working the weakest link.  If you have improved a link to where it is no longer your weakest, not only is your entire chain stronger now, but by definition you should be moving on to what is now your new weakest link.  There is such a thing as overtraining and creating some sort of high repetition irritations, and these can sometimes become chronic.  Know when to move on , , , and when to come back to it to keep the level that one has achieved.


24042  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Aun peor on: June 14, 2011, 03:31:40 PM


Narco gangster reveals the underworld-Houston Chronicle

 

Narco gangster reveals the underworld
Cartels have taken cruelty up a notch, says one drug trafficker: kidnapping bus passengers for gladiatorlike fights to the death
By DANE SCHILLER
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
June 13, 2011, 12:26AM
 

The elderly are killed. Young women are raped. And able-bodied men are given hammers, machetes and sticks and forced to fight to the death.

In one of the most chilling revelations yet about the violence in Mexico, a drug cartel-connected trafficker claims fellow gangsters have kidnapped highway bus passengers and forced them into gladiatorlike fights to groom fresh assassins.

In an in-person interview arranged by intermediaries on the condition that neither his name nor the location of his Texas visit be published, the trafficker also admitted to helping push cocaine worth $5 million to $10 million a month into the United States.

Law enforcement sources confirm he is a cartel operative but not a fugitive from pending charges.

His words are not those of a federal agent or drawn from a news conference or court papers.

Instead, he offers a voice from inside Mexico's mayhem — a mafioso who mingles among crime bosses and foot soldiers in a protracted war between drug cartels as well as against the government.

If what he says is true, gangsters who make commonplace beheadings, hangings and quartering bodies have managed an even crueler twist to their barbarity.

Members of the Zetas cartel, he says, have pushed passengers into an ancient Rome-like blood sport with a modern Mexico twist that they call, "Who is going to be the next hit man?"

"They cut guys to pieces," he said.

The victims are likely among the hundreds of people found in mass graves in recent months, he said.

In the vicinity of the Mexican city of San Fernando, nearly 200 bodies were unearthed from pits, and authorities said most appeared to have died of blunt force head trauma.

Many are believed to have been dragged off buses traveling through Mexico, but little has been said about the circumstances of their deaths.

The trafficker said those who survive are taken captive and eventually given suicide missions, such as riding into a town controlled by rivals and shooting up the place.

The trafficker said he did not see the clashes, but his fellow criminals have boasted to him of their exploits.

Killing 'for amusement'
Former and current federal law-enforcement officers in the U.S. said that while they knew Mexican bus passengers had been targeted for violence, they'd never before heard of forcing passengers into death matches.

But given the level of violence in Mexico — nearly 40,000 killed in gangland warfare over the past several years — they didn't find it tough to believe.

Borderland Beat, a blog specializing in drug cartels, reported an account in April of bus passengers brutalized by Zeta thugs and taunted into fighting.

"The stuff you would not think possible a few years ago is now commonplace," said Peter Hanna, a retired FBI agent who built his career focusing on Mexico's cartels. "It used to be you'd find dead bodies in drums with acid; now there are beheadings."

Even so, Hanna noted, killing people this way would be time-consuming and inefficient. "It would be more for amusement," he suggested. "I don't see it as intimidation or a successful way to recruit people."

Hidden behind designer sunglasses and a whisper of a beard, the trafficker interviewed by the Houston Chronicle talked at a restaurant's back table. He had silver shopping bags filled at Nordstrom, but seemed anything but a typical wealthy Mexican on a Texas shopping trip.

As a condition of the interview, he asked that he be referred to only as Juan.

He has worked as a drug-trafficker in Northern Mexico for more than a decade, he said, but has grown tired of gangsters running roughshod over each other and innocent civilians.

Juan, who has worked with the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, the two major drug organizations that control territory along the South Texas-Mexico border, said that back home, he sleeps with a semiautomatic rifle by his bed and a handgun under his pillow.

"It is like the Wild West. You can carry a gun and you are Superman," he said of gangsters and killing at will. "Like everybody says, it is out of control now. We have to put a stop to it."

A recent U.S. Senate report contends the Zetas are the most violent of Mexico's cartels. Its members are believed to be responsible for the recent killing of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was shot on a Mexican highway.

'They brag about it'
Just on Thursday, authorities in Mexico said they arrested members of the Zetas and seized 201 automatic weapons, 600 camouflage uniforms and 30,000 rounds of ammunition.

"I am not defending the Sinaloa or the Gulf Cartel," Juan said of the Zetas' main rivals. "I earn more money with the Zetas, but I know the (crap) they do," he said. "They brag about it."

With the recent killing of the ICE agent and perhaps other attacks, the Zetas also are breaking the golden rule for Mexican traffickers: Don't kill Americans, he said. It brings too much heat.

If the Zetas are crushed, violence will lessen, he said, and Mexico's older cartels will go back to the older way of doing business - dividing up territory and agreeing not to clash with each other.

Death toll has exploded
Mike Vigil, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was the chief of international operations, said Mexican gangsters used to understand that violence should be used sparingly.

"They love brutality," Vigil said of the Zetas. "They do not care whether you are a police officer, a trafficker or an innocent bystander.

"The drug-trafficking organizations are eventually going to have to deal with the Zetas."

The death toll has exploded since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and dispersed military troops throughout the country to fight the cartels. The resulting battles have wrought carnage among local politicians, soldiers, gangsters and civilians alike.

As for the military, Juan said, "They are not helping," noting that the soldiers, like the gangsters, seem to kill whoever they want.

He also discussed some of the finer points of drug trafficking.

Checkpoints no problem
"We don't hide it," he said, telling stories of openly off-loading tractor-trailer rigs of cocaine in parking lots. "These are not lies. Everybody in Mexico knows it."

Even the checkpoints Mexican officials operate along the highways between Central Mexico and the border do not pose much of a problem, Juan said.

The trick, he confided, is to send someone in advance to bribe a commander so a drug load won't be bothered.

"It is better to tell them," he said. "It will cost you more if they catch it."

Tries not to be flashy
As for how he's been able to survive a decade, Juan said the secret is not being greedy or flashy enough to draw attention from other gangsters, who these days show no hesitation to cut down rivals.

He said he can quickly size up in a bar or cafe who is likely to be a trafficker, from the money they spend to the way they talk, sit or eat.

"You can tell in a restaurant or anywhere - that guy is moving dope," Juan said.

Other keys to longevity in the business: knowing your place in the Mexican under­world's hierarchy and not giving the impression you are making more money or interested in taking a chunk out of another gangster's livelihood.

"You keep doing the work you do," Juan said. "Stay at your level."



Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/topstory/7607122.html#ixzz1PGAG4aVk

 

 

24043  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse , , , on: June 14, 2011, 03:30:33 PM


Narco gangster reveals the underworld-Houston Chronicle

 

Narco gangster reveals the underworld
Cartels have taken cruelty up a notch, says one drug trafficker: kidnapping bus passengers for gladiatorlike fights to the death
By DANE SCHILLER
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
June 13, 2011, 12:26AM
 

The elderly are killed. Young women are raped. And able-bodied men are given hammers, machetes and sticks and forced to fight to the death.

In one of the most chilling revelations yet about the violence in Mexico, a drug cartel-connected trafficker claims fellow gangsters have kidnapped highway bus passengers and forced them into gladiatorlike fights to groom fresh assassins.

In an in-person interview arranged by intermediaries on the condition that neither his name nor the location of his Texas visit be published, the trafficker also admitted to helping push cocaine worth $5 million to $10 million a month into the United States.

Law enforcement sources confirm he is a cartel operative but not a fugitive from pending charges.

His words are not those of a federal agent or drawn from a news conference or court papers.

Instead, he offers a voice from inside Mexico's mayhem — a mafioso who mingles among crime bosses and foot soldiers in a protracted war between drug cartels as well as against the government.

If what he says is true, gangsters who make commonplace beheadings, hangings and quartering bodies have managed an even crueler twist to their barbarity.

Members of the Zetas cartel, he says, have pushed passengers into an ancient Rome-like blood sport with a modern Mexico twist that they call, "Who is going to be the next hit man?"

"They cut guys to pieces," he said.

The victims are likely among the hundreds of people found in mass graves in recent months, he said.

In the vicinity of the Mexican city of San Fernando, nearly 200 bodies were unearthed from pits, and authorities said most appeared to have died of blunt force head trauma.

Many are believed to have been dragged off buses traveling through Mexico, but little has been said about the circumstances of their deaths.

The trafficker said those who survive are taken captive and eventually given suicide missions, such as riding into a town controlled by rivals and shooting up the place.

The trafficker said he did not see the clashes, but his fellow criminals have boasted to him of their exploits.

Killing 'for amusement'
Former and current federal law-enforcement officers in the U.S. said that while they knew Mexican bus passengers had been targeted for violence, they'd never before heard of forcing passengers into death matches.

But given the level of violence in Mexico — nearly 40,000 killed in gangland warfare over the past several years — they didn't find it tough to believe.

Borderland Beat, a blog specializing in drug cartels, reported an account in April of bus passengers brutalized by Zeta thugs and taunted into fighting.

"The stuff you would not think possible a few years ago is now commonplace," said Peter Hanna, a retired FBI agent who built his career focusing on Mexico's cartels. "It used to be you'd find dead bodies in drums with acid; now there are beheadings."

Even so, Hanna noted, killing people this way would be time-consuming and inefficient. "It would be more for amusement," he suggested. "I don't see it as intimidation or a successful way to recruit people."

Hidden behind designer sunglasses and a whisper of a beard, the trafficker interviewed by the Houston Chronicle talked at a restaurant's back table. He had silver shopping bags filled at Nordstrom, but seemed anything but a typical wealthy Mexican on a Texas shopping trip.

As a condition of the interview, he asked that he be referred to only as Juan.

He has worked as a drug-trafficker in Northern Mexico for more than a decade, he said, but has grown tired of gangsters running roughshod over each other and innocent civilians.

Juan, who has worked with the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, the two major drug organizations that control territory along the South Texas-Mexico border, said that back home, he sleeps with a semiautomatic rifle by his bed and a handgun under his pillow.

"It is like the Wild West. You can carry a gun and you are Superman," he said of gangsters and killing at will. "Like everybody says, it is out of control now. We have to put a stop to it."

A recent U.S. Senate report contends the Zetas are the most violent of Mexico's cartels. Its members are believed to be responsible for the recent killing of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was shot on a Mexican highway.

'They brag about it'
Just on Thursday, authorities in Mexico said they arrested members of the Zetas and seized 201 automatic weapons, 600 camouflage uniforms and 30,000 rounds of ammunition.

"I am not defending the Sinaloa or the Gulf Cartel," Juan said of the Zetas' main rivals. "I earn more money with the Zetas, but I know the (crap) they do," he said. "They brag about it."

With the recent killing of the ICE agent and perhaps other attacks, the Zetas also are breaking the golden rule for Mexican traffickers: Don't kill Americans, he said. It brings too much heat.

If the Zetas are crushed, violence will lessen, he said, and Mexico's older cartels will go back to the older way of doing business - dividing up territory and agreeing not to clash with each other.

Death toll has exploded
Mike Vigil, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was the chief of international operations, said Mexican gangsters used to understand that violence should be used sparingly.

"They love brutality," Vigil said of the Zetas. "They do not care whether you are a police officer, a trafficker or an innocent bystander.

"The drug-trafficking organizations are eventually going to have to deal with the Zetas."

The death toll has exploded since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and dispersed military troops throughout the country to fight the cartels. The resulting battles have wrought carnage among local politicians, soldiers, gangsters and civilians alike.

As for the military, Juan said, "They are not helping," noting that the soldiers, like the gangsters, seem to kill whoever they want.

He also discussed some of the finer points of drug trafficking.

Checkpoints no problem
"We don't hide it," he said, telling stories of openly off-loading tractor-trailer rigs of cocaine in parking lots. "These are not lies. Everybody in Mexico knows it."

Even the checkpoints Mexican officials operate along the highways between Central Mexico and the border do not pose much of a problem, Juan said.

The trick, he confided, is to send someone in advance to bribe a commander so a drug load won't be bothered.

"It is better to tell them," he said. "It will cost you more if they catch it."

Tries not to be flashy
As for how he's been able to survive a decade, Juan said the secret is not being greedy or flashy enough to draw attention from other gangsters, who these days show no hesitation to cut down rivals.

He said he can quickly size up in a bar or cafe who is likely to be a trafficker, from the money they spend to the way they talk, sit or eat.

"You can tell in a restaurant or anywhere - that guy is moving dope," Juan said.

Other keys to longevity in the business: knowing your place in the Mexican under­world's hierarchy and not giving the impression you are making more money or interested in taking a chunk out of another gangster's livelihood.

"You keep doing the work you do," Juan said. "Stay at your level."



Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/topstory/7607122.html#ixzz1PGAG4aVk

 

 

24044  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Happy Birthday US Army and American Flag! on: June 14, 2011, 03:25:54 PM


Patriot Post

Today, June 14th, is both the 236th anniversary of the establishment of the United States Army, and fittingly, the 234th anniversary of the adoption of our nation's flag.

In 1776, Thomas Paine opened his famous pamphlet, "The American Crisis," with these words: "THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."

On this June day in 2011, America is once again in crisis, and the Liberty won at great price and bequeathed to us by generations of Patriots is in eminent peril. Paine's words from 1776 ring true today.

24045  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 14, 2011, 03:23:14 PM
I have only seen the first half so far.

I thought Newt answered well last night the perception that he had attacked Ryan's plan by pointing out his words were precise in answer to a precise question about how Pelosi-Reid had rammed through Obamacare.    I thought Newt did well last night, but obviously the loss of his staff on top of the widespread perception that he backstabbed Ryan leave him very vulnerable.

I thought Michelle Bachman did well, and was frustrated by how few questions were sent her way.

I wish Cain had pushed the FAIR tax.  I think he has the potential to do well and look good with it.  He continues to look very weak on foreign affairs.  Given the tectonic shifts going on in the world, to say "Well, I will get together a bunch of experts who will show me the secret intel and then I will decide what to to do" does not cut it in the slightest.

Wuzzhisface, the ex-Senator from PA is a waste of time.  The fact that he is running is proof of profound cluelessness.

Pawlenty did not take the dare to follow up on his Obamney Care quote and I thought Romney came in well-prepared and articulate on it.

More after I watch the whole thing.
24046  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: India-Iran on: June 14, 2011, 03:06:30 PM
Analyst Kamran Bokhari examines the pressure put on relations between New Delhi and Tehran due to U.S. sanctions on Iranian energy exports at a time when the looming U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has both countries concerned.


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

Iran’s national security chief, Saeed Jalili, will soon be paying a visit to India, and this visit comes at a time when there is a lot happening between the two countries in terms of both bilateral relations and regional geopolitics.

Jalili’s visit to New Delhi comes at a time when relations between Iran and India are not as comfortable as they have been in recent years. The primary reason for that is that India is unable to pay Iran for the crude imports it gets from the clerical regime because of the international sanctions that have basically done away with the old mechanism that the two countries used to use in the form of a regional clearinghouse. That is an issue that has been lingering on for months and needs to be resolved.

The fact that there is this payment issue between India and Iran has allowed Saudi Arabia to enter into the dynamic where there are reports that Saudi Arabia is willing to increase its crude exports to India such that New Delhi would no longer need to import from Tehran. That issue has an unsettling effect on the Iranians even though they are just reports. Therefore this issue of the Saudi offer is likely to figure high on the agenda in the negotiations that will take place between the Iranians and the Indians. And especially now that the United States and its NATO allies are moving toward a drawdown strategy for Afghanistan, countries like India and Iran are especially concerned about their security given that the Taliban are likely to benefit from a Western military withdrawal from their country. And of course by extension, it also brings Pakistan into the equation which is a concern more so for New Delhi than it is for Tehran, but nonetheless there are shared concerns on the part of both the Iranians and the Indians and they would like to be able to prep for the coming drawdown.

Jalili’s trip will thus be about a host of issues, some long-standing, that actually bring India and Iran together, and others that are more contemporary and can become of a contentious nature because of the U.S.-led sanctions on Iran.

24047  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 14, 2011, 12:22:43 PM
I wish I could speak with more certainty on the point, but my understanding is what you are seeing now is the Pentagon using general purpose $ for whatever it is we are doing in Libya but that it IS possible for the Congress to say "No $ for Activity X".

Any help here BD?
24048  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Analysis of new video on: June 14, 2011, 12:18:28 PM



 

By Scott Stewart

A new video from al Qaeda’s media arm, As-Sahab, became available on the Internet on June 2. The video was 100 minutes long, distributed in two parts and titled “Responsible Only for Yourself.” As the name suggests, this video was the al Qaeda core’s latest attempt to encourage grassroots jihadists to undertake lone-wolf operations in the West, a recurrent theme in jihadist messages since late 2009.

The video, which was well-produced and contained a number of graphics and special effects, features historical footage of a number of militant Islamist personalities, including Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abdullah Azzam and Abu Yahya al-Libi.

In addition to al-Libi, who is considered a prominent al Qaeda ideological authority, the video also features an extensive discourse from another Libyan theologian, Sheikh Jamal Ibrahim Shtaiwi al-Misrati. Al-Misrati (who is from Misurata, as one can surmise from his name) was also featured in a March 25 As-Sahab message encouraging jihadists in Libya to assume control of the country and place it under Shariah once the Gadhafi regime is overthrown. The still photo used over the March message featuring al-Misrati was taken from the video used in the June 2 message, indicating that the recently released video of al-Misrati was shot prior to March 25. The video also contains a short excerpt of a previously released Arabic language Al-Malahim media video by Anwar al-Awlaki and an English-language statement by Adam Gadahn that is broken up into small segments and appears periodically throughout the video.

Despite the fact that many of the video segments used to produce this product are quite dated, there is a reference to bin Laden as a shaheed, or martyr, so this video was obviously produced after his death.

Unlike the As-Sahab message on the same topic featuring Adam Gadahn released in March 2010 and the English-language efforts of  al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s “Inspire” magazine, this video is primarily in Arabic, indicating that it is intended to influence an Arabic-speaking audience.

To date, much of the media coverage pertaining to the release of this video has focused on one short English-language segment in which Adam Gadahn encourages Muslims in the United States to go to gun shows and obtain automatic weapons to use in shooting attacks. This focus is understandable given the contentiousness of the gun-control issue in the United States, but a careful examination of the video reveals far more than just fodder for the U.S. gun-control debate.


Contents of the Video

The first 36 minutes of the video essentially comprise a history lesson of militants who heard the call to jihad and then acted on it. Among the examples are individuals such as ElSayyid Nosair, the assassin of Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane; Abdel Basit (also known as Ramzi Yousef), the operational planner of the 1993 World Trade Center attack and the thwarted Bojinka plot; Mohammed Bouyeri, the assassin of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh; and Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan. Others include the leader of the team of assassins who killed Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the militants behind the Mumbai attacks.

Then, after listing those examples, the video emphasizes the point that if one is to live in the “real Islamic way,” one must also follow the examples of the men profiled. Furthermore, since the “enemies of Islam” have expanded their “attacks against Islam” in many different places, the video asserts that it is not only in the land of the Muslims that the enemies of Islam must be attacked, but also in their homelands (i.e., the West). In fact, the video asserts that it is easy to strike the enemies of Islam in their home countries and doing so creates the biggest impact. And this is the context in which Gadahn made his widely publicized comment about Muslims buying guns and conducting armed assaults.

Now, it is important to briefly address this comment by Gadahn: While it is indeed quite easy for U.S. citizens to legally purchase a wide variety of firearms, it is illegal for them to purchase fully automatic weapons without first obtaining the proper firearms license. This fixation with obtaining fully automatic rifles instead of purchasing readily available and legal semi-automatic weapons has led to the downfall of a number of jihadist plots inside the United States, including one just last month in New York. Therefore, aspiring jihadists who would seek to follow Gadahn’s recommendations to the letter would almost certainly find themselves quickly brought to the attention of the authorities.

When we look at the rest of Gadahn’s comments in this video, it is clear the group is trying to convey a number of other interesting points. First, Gadahn notes that jihadists wanting to undertake lone-wolf activities must take all possible measures to keep their plotting secret, and the first thing they should do is avail themselves of all the electronic manuals available on the Internet pertaining to security.

A few minutes later in the video, Gadahn remarks on a point made in a segment from a U.S. news program that the Hollywood perception of the capabilities of the National Security Agency (NSA) is nowhere near what those capabilities are in real life and that, while the NSA and other Western intelligence agencies collect massive amounts of data, it is hard for them to link the pieces together to gain intelligence on a pending attack plan. This is true, and the difficulty of putting together disparate intelligence to complete the big picture is something STRATFOR has long discussed. Gadahn notes that the downfall of most grassroots operations is loose lips and not the excellence of Western intelligence and urges aspiring grassroots jihadists to trust no one and to reveal their plans to no one, not even friends and family members. This claim is also true. Most thwarted grassroots plots have been uncovered due to poor operational security and sloppy tradecraft.

The video also contains lengthy theological discussions justifying the jihadist position that jihad is a compulsory, individual obligation for every able-bodied Muslim. As the video turns to the necessity of attacking the enemies of Islam in their homelands, Gadahn notes that Americans are people who crave comfort and security and that terrorist attacks scare them and take away their will to fight Muslims. According to Gadahn, terrorist attacks also cause the people to object to leaders who want to attack Islam, and the people will not vote for those leaders.

Throughout the video, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is depicted several times, and it is asserted that the United States and the West are controlled by Jewish interests. Gadahn says that influential figures in the Zionist-controlled Western governments, industries and media should be attacked, and that such attacks will weaken the will of the masses to fight against Islam. He also says that attacks against such targets are not hard and that, from recent examples of people who have assaulted the pope and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, it is evident that if jihadists trust their efforts to Allah and choose the right place, time and method, they can succeed in their attacks.

But armed assaults are not the only type of attacks being advocated in the video. The message also contains several minutes of material dedicated to encouraging cyber-jihadists to conduct electronic attacks against the United States. This concept was supported by several excerpts from a segment of the U.S. television program 60 Minutes pertaining to the cyber threat and featuring U.S. experts discussing their fears that terrorists would attack such targets as the electrical grid. Again, this is an old threat, and acquiring the skills to become a world-class hacker takes time, talent and practice. This means that, in practical terms, the threat posed by such attacks is no greater than it was prior to the release of this video.


Tactical Implications

First, it needs to be recognized that this video does not present any sort of new threat. As far as Gadahn’s pleas for American Muslims to buy firearms and conduct armed assaults, we wrote an analysis in May 2010 discussing many failed jihadist bomb plots and forecasting that the jihadists would shift to armed assaults instead. Furthermore, jihadist websites have long been urging their followers to become cyber-jihadists and to create viruses that would cripple the economies of the United States and the West, which are so dependent on computerized systems.

Even the calls to target industrial and media leaders are not new. Jihadist publications such as the now-defunct online magazine of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, Maaskar al-Battaar, encouraged attacks against such targets as far back as 2004.

This means that this latest As-Sahab message merely echoes threats that have already existed for some time now, such as threats emanating from grassroots jihadists. The grassroots threat is real and must be guarded against, but it is not nearly as acute as the threat posed by other, more skillful terrorist actors. Grassroots operatives do not often possess good terrorist tradecraft, and their attacks tend to be poorly planned and executed and susceptible to discovery and disruption.

However, killing people is not difficult, and even amateurs can be deadly. As we examine these repeated pleas by al Qaeda for grassroots jihadists to conduct attacks in the West, and then consider the ease with which such attacks can be conducted — evidenced by Hasan’s actions at Fort Hood — it raises an interesting question: Why haven’t we seen more of these attacks?

Certainly we’ve seen some thwarted attempts like the previously mentioned plot in New York in May 2011 and a successful attack in March on U.S. Air Force personnel in Frankfurt, Germany, but overall, the jihadist message urging Muslims to take up arms and conduct attacks simply does not appear to be gaining much traction among Muslims in the West — and the United States in particular. We have simply not seen the groundswell of grassroots attacks that was initially anticipated. The pleas of Gadahn and his companions appear to be falling upon deaf ears and do not seem to resonate with Muslims in the West in the same way that the cries of the pro-democracy movements in the Middle East have in recent months.

In theory, these grassroots efforts are supposed to supplement the efforts of al Qaeda to attack the West. But in practice, al Qaeda and its franchise groups have been rendered transnationally impotent in large part by the counterterrorism efforts of the United States and its allies since 9/11. Jihadist groups been able to conduct attacks in the regions where they are based, but grassroots operatives have been forced to shoulder the bulk of the effort to attack the West. In fact, the only successful attacks conducted inside the United States since 9/11 have been conducted by grassroots operatives, and in any case, grassroots plots and attacks have been quite infrequent. Despite the ease of conducting such attacks, they have been nowhere near as common as jihadist leaders hoped — and American security officials feared.

One reason for this paucity of attacks may be the jihadist message being sent. In earlier days, the message of Islamist militants like Abdullah Azzam was “Come, join the caravan.” This message suggested that militants who answered the call would be trained, equipped and put into the field of battle under competent commanders. It was a message of strength and confidence — and a message that stands in stark contrast to As-Sahab’s current message of “Don’t come and join us, it is too dangerous — conduct attacks on your own instead.” The very call to leaderless resistance is an admission of defeat and an indication that the jihadists might not be receiving the divine blessing they claim.



Read more: Al Qaeda's New Video: A Message of Defeat | STRATFOR
24049  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 14, 2011, 12:10:19 PM
It should matter that Said lied about his personal history, but ultimately for me the larger point is the hatred to be found within the Muslim Arab mindset.  When there are no Jews to hate, then the next handy non-Muslim target will do just fine, see e.g. what is happening to the Coptic Christians right now in Egypt.   

There is also a , , , words fail me here , , , sociopathic inability to understand that one's own actions may have something to do with how people act towards you.  For example, in one of Andraz's videos there is footage of the wall that Israel built as an example of terrible Israeli oppression, but no sense that all the suicide murder terror attacks that were being launched from the West Bank caused it nor apparently is there any awareness that the wall has pretty much succeeded in stopping them.
24050  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Ataques a Casinos en Monterrey on: June 14, 2011, 11:55:47 AM
Money-Laundering Targets

Another significant facet of Monterrey’s strategic value to the cartels made the news May 25 when four casinos were robbed. Heavily armed gunmen reportedly emptied out the cashier cages at Casino Hollywood, Casino Royale, Casino Red and Casino Miravalle Palace, all in the same general area between Monterrey proper and the westside city of San Pedro Garza Garcia.

Los Zetas are currently fighting with the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels for Monterrey. The Zetas hold the city, but the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels want to take it because it sits astride intersecting smuggling corridors for drug and human trafficking. But that is only part of the story. The greater Monterrey area has about three dozen casinos, most of the more than 40 casinos in northeast Mexico. To an extent that no other business sector can be, large casino operations are essential to laundering the billions of dollars generated by Mexico’s cartels. Clearly, the tit-for-tat operations in which Gulf and Zetas elements target each other’s vital support networks appear to have been elevated to a higher level with bigger stakes.

Mexican media have indicated that “millions” were taken in the heists, but no source has quantified how much money was taken or whether the currency was in pesos or U.S. dollars. Furthermore, the reports have offered confusing or conflicting information about the order in which the heists occurred, so much so that a sequence may not be easily determined. In this situation, however, such tactical details are less important than the larger implications of the apparently well-coordinated heists.

Last January, the Casino Royale was the scene of an apparent effort to eliminate two high-profile members of the Juarez cartel who were gambling in the casino. Gunmen entered the establishment and started firing hundreds of rounds, but the reported targets got away — and later were apprehended by authorities. Almost as an afterthought, one online report mentioned in its last sentence that “in the confusion” the casino’s cashier cage was robbed and all of the casino’s security-camera tapes disappeared. STRATFOR has found no direct link in the media between the January shooting-robbery and the May robbery at Casino Royale. But we find the events more than coincidental. In all likelihood, the first heist in January was a test run for the coordinated multi-casino robberies conducted May 25.

Certainly, U.S. interdiction efforts have put a financial strain on all of the Mexican cartels, making casino robberies a tempting proposition, but the successful theft of millions of dollars or pesos may only have been a bonus on top of the larger reward of hitting a rival cartel at a vulnerable spot: its money-laundering operations.

Two years ago, Monterrey was something of a neutral zone where all top cartel families made use of the affluent stability and superior schools and medical care. In late January 2010, however, Los Zetas started consolidating their hold on the city after declaring open war on their former parent organization, the Gulf cartel. Last summer, after taking losses on the border at Reynosa and Matamoros, Los Zetas retreated to Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey. In Monterrey, the Zetas forces were entrenched for about two weeks when Hurricane Alex roared into the Rio Grande Valley and catastrophic flooding demolished huge sections of the city’s transportation arteries — effectively pulling up the drawbridge behind the Zetas.

Despite the heavy Zetas presence, Monterrey’s longer history as relatively neutral ground means that the casinos robbed May 25 were likely laundering funds for any number of drug trafficking organizations. The Zetas’ control of the Monterrey metropolitan area does not equate to exclusive use of its black market infrastructure, and dozens of large casinos have far more strategic worth as money-laundering operations than they do as extortion targets.


On the Quiet Coahuila Front

With the exception of Torreon and Saltillo, Coahuila state has been fairly quiet in Mexico’s cartel wars. The state is sparsely populated, lacks high-volume interstate highway arteries and remains largely undisputed Los Zetas territory. But several recent events along with an increasing Mexican military presence could point to a coming change in Coahuila’s security conditions.

According to official government news releases and confirmed by STRATFOR sources in the region, there has been a gradual increase in the deployment of military assets to Coahuila and in military activities in 2011. Mexican marines seized just over a ton of cocaine at a ranch northwest of Monclova on May 24. Then on June 1, Mexican army personnel found 38 narcofosas, or hidden graves, in the village of Guerrero, 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Piedras Negras. It is not yet clear how many victims were disposed of at the Guerrero site — the meter-deep pits contained thousands of bits of charred human bones, metal buckles, buttons, and other personal items, and three 55-gallon drums also were found in which human bodies had been cremated. Also on June 1, the Mexican military uncovered a large cache of firearms and munitions on a farm in Nadadores, including 161 weapons and 92,039 rounds of ammunition of various calibers.

By no means are these recent events in Coahuila unique for Mexico, but the increase in military personnel and operations in the sparsely populated state is notable. As that military presence grows, STRATFOR expects significant clashes between Los Zetas and Mexican troops over the next few months. In Mexico, cartels have demonstrated that they will absorb a low level of losses as “the cost of doing business.” However, losses can reach a point where they are no longer acceptable to an organization, and violent countermeasures tend to result. In the quieter areas of Coahuila, particularly in the western and northern parts of the state where the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels have not bothered to contest Zetas control, Los Zetas may soon respond to the Mexican government’s inroads with direct and violent action against the military.



(click here to view interactive map)

May 31

Unidentified people asphyxiated a man and abandoned his body in a vacant lot near the Francisco Madero avenue in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. The victim was tortured and beaten before being killed.
Soldiers arrested four men in Acapulco, Guerrero state, for transporting a dismembered body in the trunk of a car. A fifth suspect managed to escape. The men had been stopped at a military roadblock but attempted to flee and crashed into another car.

June 1

Unidentified gunmen in the Dale neighborhood of Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, shot and killed Fernando Oropeza, the former deputy director of a low-risk prison. Oropeza had resigned from his post after a clandestine bar was discovered at the prison.
Two people were killed and one was injured in a firefight between suspected members of drug trafficking gangs in the Region 233 neighborhood of Cancun, Quintana Roo state. The incident reportedly began when six members of a criminal gang arrived at a food vendor’s stall and opened fire on several members of a rival group identified only as “LGD.”
Relatives of journalist Noel Lopez identified his body among those found in a mass grave in Chinameca, Veracruz state. Lopez had last been seen headed to Soteapan on March 8.

June 2

Unidentified gunmen in the Jardines de Oriente neighborhood of Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, opened fire on a municipal police vehicle, killing a police officer.
Federal police officers arrested Candido Ramos Perez, the suspected head for Cartel Pacifico Sur of the Cuernavaca “plaza” in Morelos state, during vehicle inspections on the Cuernavaca-Mexico City highway near the southern boundary of the Federal District. A suspected cartel lookout riding in Ramos Perez’s vehicle also was arrested.

June 3

Military authorities announced the seizure of 161 firearms and 92,039 rounds of ammunition reportedly belonging to Los Zetas in the municipality of Nadadores, Coahuila state.
Security guards at the Sinaloa state government palace in Culiacan discovered a severed head and hands on the building’s exterior stairs. A preliminary report stated that the victim could be a state police officer.
The Mexican prosecutor general’s office announced the seizure of two large containers holding 80 barrels of monomethylamine, a precursor used to manufacture chemical drugs, at container-ship facilities in Manzanillo, Colima state. Another 80 barrels were seized from a separate ship, bringing the total amount of precursors seized to 34,848 kilograms.

June 4

Soldiers arrested Jorge Hank Rhon, a former mayor of Tijuana, Baja California state, during a raid in response to a citizen complaint. Approximately 50 firearms were seized from Rhon’s house.
Federal police announced the arrest of Victor Manuel Perez Izquierdo, the head of Los Zetas in Quintana Roo state, during an operation in Cancun. Ten other members of Los Zetas were arrested along with Perez Izquierdo. Authorities said the operation resulted from the arrests of 10 Zetas in Cancun on May 28.

June 5

Military authorities announced the seizure of four armored vehicles and 23 tractor-trailers during raids on vehicle workshops in Reynosa and Camargo, Tamaulipas state.
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed the municipal police commander of Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, in the San Angel neighborhood as he headed to his house.
Police in the Mitras Norte neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, discovered the bodies of two men hanging from a pedestrian bridge. Signs bearing undisclosed messages to members of a criminal group were found near the bodies.
Unidentified people abandoned a taxi with a dismembered body outside a police station in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state. A message found in the vehicle included a threat to the mayor of Guadalupe, warning that she would be next.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Casino Attacks in Monterrey | STRATFOR
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