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24051  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary gets fcukt LOL on: February 13, 2009, 10:50:01 AM
Hillary's Incredible Shrinking Cabinet Role


Tuesday, February 10, 2009 11:56 AM

By: Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding that her job description is dissolving under her feet, leaving her with only a vestige of the power she must have thought she acquired when she signed on to be President Obama’s chief Cabinet officer.

Since her designation:


Vice President Joe Biden has moved vigorously to stake out foreign policy as his turf. His visit to Afghanistan, right before the inauguration, could not but send a signal to Clinton that he would conduct foreign policy in the new administration, leaving her in a backup role.



Richard Holbrooke, the former Balkan negotiator and U.N. ambassador, has been named special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He insisted on direct access to the president, a privilege he was denied during much of the Clinton years.



Former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, negotiator of the Irish Peace Accords, was appointed to be the administration’s point man on Arab-Israeli negotiations.



Samantha Powers, Obama’s former campaign aide, who once called Hillary Clinton a “monster,” has been appointed to the National Security Council as director of “multilateral affairs.”



Gen. James L. Jones, Obama’s new national security adviser, has announced an expansion of the membership and role of the security council. He pledges to eliminate “back channels” to the president and wants to grow the council’s role to accommodate the “dramatically different” challenges of the current world situation.



Susan Rice, Obama’s new United Nations ambassador, insisted upon and got Cabinet rank for her portfolio, and she presumably also will have the same kind of access to Obama that she had as his chief foreign policy adviser during the campaign.


So where does all this leave Secretary of State Clinton?


While sympathy for Mrs. Clinton is outside the normal fare of these columns, one cannot help but feel that she is surrounded by people who are, at best, strangers and, at worst, enemies. The competition that historically has occupied secretaries of State and national security advisers seems poised to ratchet up to a new level in this administration.


Hillary’s essential problem is that she is an outsider in the current mix. She was the adversary in the campaign, and Rice and Powers — at the very least — know it well, having helped to run the campaign that dethroned her. Can they — and she — be devoid of bitterness or at least of normal human trepidation? Not very likely.


The fact is that the power of the secretary of State is not statutory, nor does it flow from the prestige of the post’s occupant. Former Gen. Al Haig, once supreme commander of NATO and chief of staff to President Nixon, found that out when he was undercut as secretary by the White House troika of Mike Deaver, James Baker, and Ed Meese.
Bill Rogers, Eisenhower’s attorney general and Nixon’s California confidant, found himself on the outs from the moment he became secretary of State, with Henry Kissinger soaking up all the power through his direct access to Nixon as national security adviser.


The power of the secretary of State flows directly from the president. But Hillary does not have the inside track with Obama. Rice and Powers, close advisers in the campaign, and Gen. Jones, whose office is in the White House all may have superior access. Holbrooke and Mitchell will have more immediate information about the world’s trouble spots.


So what is Hillary’s mandate? Of what is she secretary of State? If you take the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan out of the equation, what is left? One would have to assume that the old North Korea hands in the government would monopolize that theater of action. What, precisely, is it that Hillary is to do? The question lingers.


And for this she gave up a Senate seat?

© 2009 Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
24052  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: February 13, 2009, 01:42:37 AM
Subject: Entertaining Iraqi prisoner release story....

A military officer (O-6) who heads up ________________ told us there was a  time when they used to release prisoners from the detention facility in their jumpsuits.  With a brand new $20. bill.
 
The prisoners would get about 1 block before they would have their money roughed from them (imagine the battering your ego must take when you think you are a big, bad al-Qa'ida terrorist and you cannot even walk one block without being mugged).
 
So they started releasing  them in civilian clothes.  And the prisoners would get about 1 block before they had that $20 bill roughed from them.
 
So now they drive them in a non-descript local minivan to either a bus station or train station.  Nobody knows what is//is not happening there.
24053  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: February 13, 2009, 01:41:13 AM
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,491964,00.html

Thursday , February 12, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller



As drug cartels continue to terrorize Mexico, Texas officials are planning for the worst-case scenario: how to respond if the violence spills over the border, and what to do if thousands of Mexicans seek refuge in the United States.  Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said a multi-agency contingency plan is being developed, and it will focus primarily on law enforcement issues, including how to handle an influx of Mexicans fleeing violence.

"At this point, what we're focusing on is spillover violence," Cesinger told FOXNews.com Thursday. "The immediate concern, if any, would be that."

More than 5,300 people were killed in Mexico last year in connection to criminal activity, and some experts predict things will get worse. Along with Pakistan, Mexico was identified in a Department of Defense report last year as a country that could destabilize rapidly.  If that were to happen, officials are concerned that the drug violence could cross the Rio Grande into southern Texas.
Cesinger said the plan currently does not address a potential flood of refugees, though "It may be something that comes into consideration.  "Worst-case scenario, Mexico becomes the Western hemisphere's equivalent of Somalia, with mass violence, mass chaos," said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank. "That would clearly require a military response from the United States."

Carpenter, who recently authored a study entitled "Troubled Neighbor: Mexico's Drug Violence Poses a Threat to the United States," said Mexican government could collapse, although it's unlikely.

"That's still a relative longshot, but it's not out of the question," Carpenter said. "It's obviously prudent for all of the states along the U.S.-Mexican border and the military to consider that possibility and not get blindsided should it happen."

Some lawmakers in Texas have begun questioning how to deal with a potentially massive influx of Mexican citizens.

"Do you strengthen the borders so people cannot get in by the thousands every day, or do you create detention centers where people are held until their status is determined?" asked state Sen. Dan Patrick. "This is a potential refugee problem..."

"Let's pray that this does not develop in Mexico," Patrick told FOXNews.com. "However, when you hear the president of the United States cast dire warnings on our country, that even our financial system could collapse, it makes you think. If the United States can face catastrophe, obviously Mexico could as well.

"We have to seriously consider that as a remote possibility, so therefore, we need to have a plan."

Patrick called upon Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McGraw to present a comprehensive plan to the state's Legislature.
McGraw, who reportedly told lawmakers at a recent border security meeting that fears of Mexico's collapse were "well-grounded," was unavailable to comment Thursday, Cesinger said.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff indicated last month that the continuing violence has prompted plans for civilian and military law enforcement should it spread into the United States.

Chertoff said the plan calls for armored vehicles, aircraft and teams of personnel along border hotspots. Military forces, however, would be summoned only if civilian agencies like the Border Patrol were unable to control the violence, the New York Times reported.
DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said the department began developing the plan last summer to address a "broad spectrum of contingencies that could occur" if the violence escalates.

"This violence is happening because the [Felipe] Calderon administration is doing the right thing by cracking down on powerful drug cartels," Kudwa said in a statement. "The cartels are, predictably, fighting back to protect their lucrative criminal livelihood. This plan doesn’t change or otherwise supersede existing authorities; it plans for how a number of government organizations would respond and coordinate if local resources were to be overwhelmed."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is "continuing to develop that plan," Kudwa said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Tim Irwin, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said he was unaware of any plans in Texas to prepare for an influx of Mexicans seeking refuge. Theoretically, Irwin said, a Mexican citizen could go to a border crossing and seek asylum based on fears of returning home amid the ongoing drug wars.

"It's a valid claim to make, but you'd need to back that up," Irwin said. "That would start the process."

Irwin said the individual would be initially detained and given a "credible fear interview" to determine if his or her concerns are valid. If
so, they could be eventually be released into the United States.   But Carpenter said the worst-case scenario — a "sudden surge" of up to 1 million refugees in addition to the hundreds of thousands who enter illegally each year — would be daunting.

"That would be very difficult to handle," Carpenter told FOXNews.com. "I suspect what'd you see fairly soon is an attempt to seal the border as much as possible. That would probably be the initial response, along with the building of additional facilities [to detain the Mexican refugees]. But nobody wants to see that happen."
24054  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: February 13, 2009, 01:06:55 AM
We finalize KT2: The Running Dog Game tomorrow, then it will be time to turn to this one.
24055  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: KALI TUDO (tm) Article on: February 13, 2009, 01:03:59 AM
Woof All:

It occurs to me to bring something out that I may not have yet communicated effectively.

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

The conceptual starting point for our Kali Tudo subsystem is this the article that begins this thread.  Its a rather long article, but everything that follows from the "KT Intro" double disc is within the context of the framework this piece lays out.

Here's where things go from here:

a) The Running Dog Game will be out in the next few weeks (pre-orders being taken now);

b) We finish the third disc in the "DBMA Die Less Often Reality Series" titled "DLO 3: The Kali Fence for Civilians and LEOs", this will include footage shot at the Dayton OH PD training facility-- a hearty woof of thanks for permission to use!  Know that there will be additional info for LEOs, either on a separate disc or secure web-clips.  This should not take long, the edit is about 80% done already--estimated time: one month;

c) Then we return to "KT-3: The Arf-ful Dodger and the Dracula: Angular striking crashes against Joe Generic MMA Guy"
The Arrful Dodger disc is about 80% shot already (including great footage with the Hawaii Clan of the DBs) and should be finished in fairly steady progression from there.

d) Unshot so far, but conceptually mostly worked out and in the pipeline is "KT for the Clinch".

In short, DBMA's "Kali Tudo(tm)" is a substantial sub-system of DBMA that accepts the challenge of the Cage, as measured by the Street.  It is your unarmed expression of our training together.  The idea is precisely that the movements of the empty hands ARE like the movements of the weapons.  IT WORKS, but only if you are trained with the understanding of people who have hit people in weapons fight. 

Without the wisdom of the adrenal experience of weapons, where is the understanding to impart to the EH expression?

To be perfectly clear, I am NOT saying that KT will help ONLY weapons fighters.  NO!  Just as was seen in DLO-1, there is plenty here for MMA players looking for something sharp and off-center.  That said, maximal value will be obtained by those with weapons skills.

Why is this significant?  Because it yields a practitioner in the street who should not be surprised by a weapon because his idiom of movement IS the same whether he has weapons or not.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty

24056  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: February 13, 2009, 12:23:33 AM
While in great sympathy with the larger point, I found this passage rather unpersuasive:

"And according to the [7] British Telegraph, early in 2009, a Pakistani Muslim cleric blinded a young boy with acid because he spurned the cleric’s sexual advances."

Let us remember too the vast history of the vast pediophile conspiracy within the Catholic Church.  The pattern is, quite obviously, systemic.  To speak frankly, this vile disgrace has been enabled at the highest levels of the Church.
24057  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Well, that did not take long , , , on: February 13, 2009, 12:18:32 AM
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archive.../02/022814.php

The latest case in point is Kirsten Gillibrand. Remember how, when she was appointed to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, she was widely described as a "conservative Democrat?" In particular, her 100% rating by the National Rifle Association was widely touted. But that was then, and this is now: Gillibrand is a convert to the cause of gun control. She has met with the parents of a 17-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet fired by a gang member and undergone a conversion:
It clearly touched her. "I care deeply. I am very upset about the horror and the tragedies that so many families experience," Gillibrand said. ...
On Monday she said Nyasia's story convinced her to introduce gun trafficking legislation. "I will be a fighter to make sure we keep these illegal guns off the streets," Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand is so intent on changing her image on gun violence that she's even asking for a meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the leading anti-gun advocates in the nation.
Gillibrand on Monday established two internships in her New York and Washington offices in honor of Nyasia.

Apparently Ms. Gillibrand had never realized, until now, that it is possible to use a firearm to commit a crime. Be that as it may, now that she will be running for re-election statewide she has no more need for an endorsement from the NRA; on the contrary, such an endorsement would be a liability--a liability that Ms. Gillibrand lost no time in jettisoning.
24058  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chinagate led to 9/11 on: February 12, 2009, 09:57:12 PM
GM's post moved to here:

**Ah, thank god the dems are in control again. Nothing to worry about.**

How Chinagate Led to 9/11   
By Jean Pearce
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, May 25, 2004

As the 9/11 Commission tries to uncover what kept intelligence agencies from preventing September 11, it has overlooked two vital factors: Jamie Gorelick and Bill Clinton. Gorelick, who has browbeaten the current administration, helped erect the walls between the FBI, CIA and local investigators that made 9/11 inevitable. However, she was merely expanding the policy Bill Clinton established with Presidential Decision Directive 24. What has been underreported is why the policy came about: to thwart investigations into the Chinese funding of Clinton’s re-election campaign, and the favors he bestowed on them in return.
In April, CNSNews.com staff writer Scott Wheeler reported that a senior U.S. government official and three other sources claimed that the 1995 memo written by Jamie Gorelick, who served as the Clinton Justice Department’s deputy attorney general from 1994 to 1997, created "a roadblock" to the investigation of illegal Chinese donations to the Democratic National Committee. But the picture is much bigger than that. The Gorelick memo, which blocked intelligence agents from sharing information that could have halted the September 11 hijacking plot, was only the mortar in a much larger maze of bureaucratic walls whose creation Gorelick personally oversaw.
 
It’s a story the 9/11 Commission may not want to hear, and one that Gorelick – now incredibly a member of that commission – has so far refused to tell. But it is perhaps the most crucial one to understanding the intentional breakdown of intelligence that led to the September 11 disaster.
 
Nearly from the moment Gorelick took office in the Clinton Justice Department, she began acting as the point woman for a large-scale bureaucratic reorganization of intelligence agencies that ultimately placed the gathering of intelligence, and decisions about what – if anything – would be done with it under near-direct control of the White House. In the process, more than a dozen CIA and FBI investigations underway at the time got caught beneath the heel of the presidential boot, investigations that would ultimately reveal massive Chinese espionage as millions in illegal Chinese donations filled Democratic Party campaign coffers.
 
When Gorelick took office in 1994, the CIA was reeling from the news that a Russian spy had been found in CIA ranks, and Congress was hungry for a quick fix. A month after Gorelick was sworn in, Bill Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 24. PDD 24 put intelligence gathering under the direct control of the president’s National Security Council, and ultimately the White House, through a four-level, top-down chain of command set up to govern (that is, stifle) intelligence sharing and cooperation between intelligence agencies. From the moment the directive was implemented, intelligence sharing became a bureaucratic nightmare that required negotiating a befuddling bureaucracy that stopped directly at the President’s office.
 
First, the directive effectively neutered the CIA by creating a National Counterintelligence Center (NCI) to oversee the Agency. NCI was staffed by an FBI agent appointed by the Clinton administration. It also brought multiple international investigations underway at the time under direct administrative control. The job of the NCI was to “implement counterintelligence activities,” which meant that virtually everything the CIA did, from a foreign intelligence agent’s report to polygraph test results, now passed through the intelligence center that PDD 24 created.
 
NCI reported to an administration-appointed National Counterintelligence Operations Board (NCOB) charged with “discussing counterintelligence matters.” The NCOB in turn reported to a National Intelligence Policy Board, which coordinated activities between intelligence agencies attempting to work together. The policy board reported “directly” to the president through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
 
The result was a massive bureaucratic roadblock for the CIA – which at the time had a vast lead on the FBI in foreign intelligence – and for the FBI itself, which was also forced to report to the NCOB. This hampered cooperation between the two entities. All this occurred at a time when both agencies were working separate ends of investigations that would eventually implicate China in technology transfers and the Democratic Party in a Chinese campaign cash grab.
 
And the woman charged with selling this plan to Congress, convincing the media and ultimately implementing much of it? Jamie Gorelick.
 
Many in Congress, including some Democrats, found the changes PDD 24 put in place baffling: they seemed to do nothing to insulate the CIA from infiltration while devastating the agency’s ability to collect information. At the time, Democrat House Intelligence Chairman Dan Glickman referred to the plan as “regulatory gobbledygook." Others questioned how FBI control of CIA intelligence would foster greater communication between the lower levels of the CIA and FBI, now that all information would have to be run through a multi-tier bureaucratic maze that only went upward.
 
Despite their doubts, Gorelick helped the administration sell the plan on Capitol Hill. The Directive stood.
 
But that wasn’t good enough for the Clinton administration, which wanted control over every criminal and intelligence investigation, domestic and foreign, for reasons that would become apparent in a few years. For the first time in Justice Department history, a political appointee, Richard Scruggs – an old crony or Attorney General Janet Reno’s from Florida – was put in charge of the Office of Intelligence and Policy Review (OIPR). OIPR is the Justice Department agency in charge of requesting wiretap and surveillance authority for criminal and intelligence investigations on behalf of investigative agencies from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. The court’s activities are kept secret from the public.
 
A year after PDD 24, with the new bureaucratic structure loaded with administration appointees, Gorelick drafted the 1995 memo Attorney General John Ashcroft mentioned while testifying before the 9/11 Commission. The Gorelick memo, and other supporting memos released in recent weeks, not only created walls within the intelligence agencies that prevented information sharing among their own agents, but effectively walled these agencies off from each other and from outside contact with the U.S. prosecutors instrumental in helping them gather the evidence needed to make the case for criminal charges.
 
The only place left to go with intelligence information – particularly for efforts to share intelligence information or obtain search warrants – was straight up Clinton and Gorelick’s multi-tiered chain of command. Instead, information lethal to the Democratic Party languished inside the Justice Department, trapped behind Gorelick’s walls.
 
The implications were enormous. In her letter of protest to Attorney General Reno over Gorelick’s memo, United States Attorney Mary Jo White spelled them out: “These instructions leave entirely to OIPR and the (Justice Department) Criminal Division when, if ever, to contact affected U.S. attorneys on investigations including terrorism and espionage,” White wrote. (Like OIPR, the Criminal Division is also part of the Justice Department.)
 
Without an enforcer, the walls Gorelick’s memo put in place might not have held. But Scruggs acted as that enforcer, and he excelled at it. Scruggs maintained Gorelick’s walls between the FBI and Justice's Criminal Division by threatening to automatically reject any FBI request for a wiretap or search warrant if the Bureau contacted the Justice Department's Criminal Division without permission. This deprived the FBI, and ultimately the CIA, of gathering advice and assistance from the Criminal Division that was critical in espionage and terrorist cases.
 
It is no coincidence that this occurred at the same time both the FBI and the CIA were churning up evidence damaging to the Democratic Party, its fundraisers, the Chinese and ultimately the Clinton administration itself. Between 1994 and the 1996 election, as Chinese dollars poured into Democratic coffers, Clinton struggled to reopen high-tech trade to China. Had agents confirmed Chinese theft of weapons technology or its transfer of weapons technology to nations like Pakistan, Iran and Syria, Clinton would have been forced by law and international treaty to react.
 
Gorelick’s appointment to the job at Justice in 1994 occurred during a period in which the FBI had begun to systematically investigate technology theft by foreign powers. For the first time, these investigations singled out the U.S. chemical, telecommunications, aircraft and aerospace industries for intelligence collection.
 
By the time Gorelick wrote the March 1995 memo that sealed off American intelligence agencies from each other and the outside world, all of the most critical Chinagate investigations by American intelligence agencies were already underway. Some of their findings were damning:
 
In an investigation originally instigated by the CIA, the FBI was beginning its search for the source of the leak of W-88 nuclear warhead technology to China among the more than 1,000 people who had access to the secrets. Despite Justice Department stonewalling and the Department’s refusal to seek wiretap authority in 1997, the investigation eventually led to Wen Ho Lee and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The FBI first collected extensive evidence in 1995 linking illegal Democratic Party donations to China, according to the Congressional Record. But Congress and the Director of the CIA didn’t find out about the Justice Department’s failure to act upon that evidence until 1997, safely after the 1996 election.
According to classified CIA documents leaked to the Washington Times, between 1994 and 1997, the CIA learned that China sold Iran missile technology, a nuclear fission reactor, advanced air-defense radar and chemical agents. The Chinese also provided 5,000 ring magnets to Pakistan, used in producing weapons-grade uranium. The Chinese also provided uranium fuel for India's reactors.
In many cases the CIA resorted to leaking classified information to the media, in an effort to bypass the administration’s blackout.
 
Gorelick knew these facts well. While Clinton may have refused to meet with top CIA officials, Gorelick didn’t. According to a 1996 report by the legal news service American Lawyer Media, Gorelick and then-Deputy Director of the CIA George Tenet met every other week to discuss intelligence and intelligence sharing.
 
But those in the Clinton administration weren’t the only ones to gain from the secrecy. In 1994, the McDonnell Douglas Corporation transferred military-use machine tools to the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation that ended up in the hands of the Chinese army. The sale occurred despite Defense Department objections. McDonnell Douglas was a client of the Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin, L.L.P. (now called Baker Botts), the Washington, D.C., law firm where Gorelick worked for 17 years and was a partner. Ray Larroca, another partner in the firm, represented McDonnell in the Justice Department’s investigation of the technology transfer.

In 1995, General Electric, a former client of Gorelick’s, also had much to lose if the damaging information the CIA and the FBI had reached Congress. At the time, GE was publicly lobbying for a lucrative permit to assist the Chinese in replacing coal-fired power stations with nuclear plants. A 1990 law required that the president certify to Congress that China was not aiding in nuclear proliferation before U.S. companies could execute the business agreement.
 
Moreover, in 1995, Michael Armstrong, then the CEO of Hughes Electronics – a division of General Electric and another client of Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin – was publicly lobbying Clinton to switch satellite export controls from the State Department to the Commerce Department. After the controls were lifted, Hughes and another company gave sensitive data to the Chinese, equipment a Pentagon study later concluded would allow China to develop intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles aimed at American targets. Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin partner Randall Turk represented Hughes in the Congressional, State Department, and Justice Department investigations that resulted.
 
The Cox Report, which detailed Chinese espionage for Congress during the period, revealed that FBI surveillance caught Chinese officials frantically trying to keep Democratic donor Johnny Chung from divulging any information that would be damaging to Hughes Electronics. Chung funneled $300,000 in illegal contributions from the Chinese military to the DNC between 1994 and 1996.
 
It was this web of investigations that led Gorelick and Bill Clinton to erect the wall between intelligence agencies that resulted in the toppling of the Twin Towers. The connections go on and on, but they all lead back to Gorelick, the one person who could best explain how the Clinton administration neutered the American intelligence agencies that could have stopped the September 11 plot. Yet another high crime will have been committed if the September 11 Commission doesn’t demand testimony from her.
24059  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO does not believe NIE either on: February 12, 2009, 09:52:30 PM
Moving GM's post to this thread:

**Tick-tock-tick-tock**

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/02/12/just-a-reminder-obama-doesnt-believe-the-sham-nie-on-iran-either/

Just a reminder: Obama doesn’t believe the sham NIE on Iran either
posted at 5:59 pm on February 12, 2009 by Allahpundit   

Remember that? The one that assured us, preposterously, that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and was instantly celebrated by idiot liberals as proof that there’s no threat and therefore no cause for Chimpy to keep rattling his saber? Never mind that classified portions of the same document acknowledged the possibility of more than a dozen covert nuke sites closed to inspectors, and never mind that actually building a bomb isn’t the critical step in weaponization. Figuring out enrichment — what Iran’s doing right now — is.

And now that Bush is gone and the left has to govern, they’re finally free/forced to admit it.

In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran’s “development of a nuclear weapon” before correcting himself to refer to its “pursuit” of weapons capability.

Obama’s nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, left little doubt about his view last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. “From all the information I’ve seen,” Panetta said, “I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability.”

The language reflects the extent to which senior U.S. officials now discount a National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 that was instrumental in derailing U.S. and European efforts to pressure Iran to shut down its nuclear program…

U.S. officials said that although no new evidence had surfaced to undercut the findings of the 2007 estimate, there was growing consensus that it provided a misleading picture and that the country was poised to reach crucial bomb-making milestones this year.

Omri Ceren’s entertaining himself by digging through the archives of nutroots blogs for gloating statements at the time about neocon fearmongering having been debunked anew. He gives them more credit than I do by assuming they really were as cretinously gullible as they seemed. I think they knew, or most of them knew, that fanatics fond of by-proxy expansionism aren’t going to risk round after round of economic sanctions just to have their very own little nuclear reactor. And so they used the NIE, in bad faith, for the purpose with which it was intended — as a political tool, to make sure Bush couldn’t take any drastic action to stop the program (which was unlikely anyway). And now, lo and behold, it’s their problem to deal with, except Iran’s that much closer to their goal. Be careful what you wish for, etc.
24060  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / White House grabs census power! on: February 12, 2009, 09:42:01 PM
OBAMA WATCH CENTRAL
White House grabs 2010 census power
GOP warns Democrats attempting unconstitutional vote manipulation
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted: February 07, 2009
11:15 pm Eastern

By Drew Zahn
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
In a move with major political implications for voting, districting and representation in future elections, the Obama administration has demanded oversight of the 2010 U.S. census.

The move has Republicans crying foul, alleging that transferring the power of census-taking from the Commerce Department, which normally oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, to the White House is an attempt to manipulate redistricting of congressional seats.

"This action appears to be motivated by politics, rather than the interests of our country," House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement. "The United States Census should remain independent of politics; it should not be directed by political operatives working out of the White House."

The Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers reports a senior Republican aide telling her that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has no business overseeing the headcount that will shape the future of U.S. elections.

"With all of its political implications," the aide reportedly said, "hijacking the census from the Commerce Department and letting it be run out of Rahm's office is like putting PETA in charge of issuing hunting permits."

Discover how we can break the hammerlock of statism and reestablish our freedom in Joseph Farah's "Taking America Back" from WND Books!

Congressional Quarterly reports that Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the top Republican on the House Government Reform Committee, said the proposed move may even be in violation of federal law.

"Any attempt by the Obama administration to circumvent the census process for their political benefit will be met with fierce opposition," said Issa. "This ill-conceived proposal undermines a constitutionally obligated process that speaks to the very heart of our democracy."

Bruce Chapman, director of the U.S. Census Bureau under President Reagan, explains the Republican objection and why the census is so important in his Discovery blog:

"Everyone knows that it is possible to organize a decennial census in a way that benefits one party or another politically," Chapman writes. "One way to effectuate this otherwise unpalatable departure from the Census Bureau's 200-year history of non-partisanship is to put the Bureau administratively under direction of the politicos in the White House. In reality, that would be a sure invitation to cook the books on the highly consequential count of Americans."

Chapman also claims, "The only reason the White House would want to be involved is in figuring out how to add more voting power to certain states and groups within states."

The decennial census, taken every 10 years, generates maps and numbers then used to draw congressional districts. Ideally the census director conducts the count in a non-partisan manner under the authority granted by U.S. code to the secretary of Commerce.

Congressional Quarterly, however, announced earlier this week that a senior White House official reported the director of the Census Bureau will now report directly to the White House and not the secretary of Commerce.

CQ later updated its report, stating that the White House "took a small step back from what the senior official told CQ" by announcing that the director of the Census Bureau would "work with the high-level officials rather than report directly to them."

Secretary of Commerce nominee, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H.

Several news outlets speculated that the White House power play was prompted by objections from minority group leaders over Obama's nomination of Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., to be secretary of Commerce, the office responsible for the census. Many of the groups are concerned about how particularly Hispanics will be counted in the next census, since the numbers affect both redistricting and federal funding based on demographic changes over the past decade.

Several minority leaders have expressed dismay over Obama's nomination of a Republican with a questionable track record on the census.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said in a statement, "Sen. Gregg's record of previously voting to abolish the Commerce Department and his attempts to block President Bill Clinton's efforts to secure adequate funding for the 2000 census raise troubling concerns."

A National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials spokesman told Politico, "Secretary of Commerce-designate Judd Gregg's record raises serious questions about his willingness to ensure that the 2010 census produces the most accurate possible count of the nation's population."

An editorial in the Hispanic newspaper La Opinion went further, emphasizing a fear that Gregg may not place a high enough priority on getting an accurate count.

"We cannot afford this risk," the paper opined.

At a White House briefing, however, spokesman Robert Gibbs denied that the change was linked to worries over Gregg's nomination.

MSNBC reports a White House spokesman further arguing that Obama's action actually has historical precedent.

"From the first days of the transition the census has been a priority for the president, and a process he wanted to reevaluate," the spokesman reportedly said. "There is historic precedent for the director of the census, who works for the Commerce Secretary and the president, to work closely with White House senior management – given the number of decisions that will have to be put before the president. We plan to return to that model in this administration."

Former Census Bureau Chief Chapman, however, disagrees.

"Simply put, there is no excuse for this idea," Chapman writes. "It is not true that the Census Bureau has ever been under the direct management of the White House, and for good reason. Even if angels were in charge of the executive mansion, if the nation's premier statistical agency were placed under White House direction, the danger to public trust would be enormous. The Decennial count is one of the few federal functions specifically described in the Constitution itself and must be operated above suspicion of politics."

Chapman added, "Power flows from an accurate census count. Everyone involved for years has seen the count therefore as a sacred trust. It must not be polluted with even a semblance of presidential meddling."

24061  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 12, 2009, 06:00:48 PM
Chad:

Although GB occassionally says things with which I agree, mostly I find him not to be worth the time it takes to listen to him.

As for the credibility and respect that should be given someone simply because they are a Dem Congressman?  Surely you jest , , ,

TAC,
Marc
24062  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 12, 2009, 03:04:42 PM
Chad:

How did you find out about this site?  What is its track record?
24063  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: LA Panel challenges WOD on: February 12, 2009, 02:42:16 PM
 JOSE DE CORDOBA
MEXICO CITY -- As drug violence spirals out of control in Mexico, a commission led by three former Latin American heads of state blasted the U.S.-led drug war as a failure that is pushing Latin American societies to the breaking point.

"The available evidence indicates that the war on drugs is a failed war," said former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in a conference call with reporters from Rio de Janeiro. "We have to move from this approach to another one."

The commission, headed by Mr. Cardoso and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and César Gaviria of Colombia, says Latin American governments as well as the U.S. must break what they say is a policy "taboo" and re-examine U.S.-inspired antidrugs efforts. The panel recommends that governments consider measures including decriminalizing the use of marijuana.

View Slideshow

Associated Press
Mexico has been besieged by drug violence amid a two-year government crackdown.
The report, by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy, is the latest to question the U.S.'s emphasis on punitive measures to deal with illegal drug use and the criminal violence that accompanies it. A recent Brookings Institution study concluded that despite interdiction and eradication efforts, the world's governments haven't been able to significantly decrease the supply of drugs, while punitive methods haven't succeeded in lowering drug use.

John Walters, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said, "It's not true that we've lost or can't do anything about the drug problem," and cited security improvements in Colombia.

President Barack Obama has yet to appoint a successor to Mr. Walters. A spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy said he couldn't comment on speculation over the appointment of a new director.

According to a Democratic official familiar with the process, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske is under consideration for an administration job, most likely to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The three former presidents who head the commission are political conservatives who have confronted in their home countries the violence and corruption that accompany drug trafficking.

The report warned that the U.S.-style antidrug strategy was putting the region's fragile democratic institutions at risk and corrupting "judicial systems, governments, the political system and especially the police forces."

The report comes as drug violence is engulfing Mexico, which has become the key transit point for cocaine traffic to the U.S. Decapitation of rival drug traffickers has become common as cartels try to intimidate one another.

Mr. Walters said increased violence in border areas of Mexico was partly a result of criminal organizations compensating for reduced income from the supply of drugs by turning to other activities, such as people-smuggling, and continuing to fight over turf.

U.S. law-enforcement officials -- as well as some of their counterparts in Mexico -- say the explosion in violence indicates progress in the war on drugs as organizations under pressure are clashing.

"If the drug effort were failing there would be no violence," a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. There is violence "because these guys are flailing. We're taking these guys out. The worst thing you could do is stop now."

Latin American governments have largely followed U.S. advice in trying to stop the flow of drugs from the point of origin. The policy has had little effect.

In Colombia, billions of dollars in U.S. aid have helped the military regain control from the hands of drug-financed communist guerrillas and lower crime, but the help hasn't dented the amount of drugs flowing from Colombia.

In the conference call, Mr. Gaviria said the U.S. approach to narcotics -- based on treating drug consumption as a crime -- had failed. Latin America, he said, should adapt a more European approach, based on treating drug addiction as a health problem.

—David Luhnow, Louise Radnofsky and Evan Perez contributed to this article.
Write to José de Córdoba at jose.decordoba@wsj.com
24064  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 12, 2009, 12:25:22 PM
As always, sound, pithy, and penetrating analysis from Scott Grannis:

http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/2009/01/economic-stimulus-plan-is-gigantic.html
24065  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Round 2 with Crafty in Toronto on: February 12, 2009, 12:20:17 PM
Oh yes, I had forgotten about that.  We looked at "breaking the mirror": 

a) the J pattern matching Heaven 6
b) then we worked Lameco combos 1-5 with an eye to working "mett, merge, follow" with Lameco 5 against Standard 6 but I could see that I was losing just about everyone and so simply abandoned the mission and moved on the Kali Tudo.

Glad to hear of the synergy for you of the Dos Triques DVD with the seminar.  That was/is part of the idea  smiley
24066  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: February 12, 2009, 11:51:58 AM
Also, I gather that all the increased farming to produce the ethanol uses fertilizers which run down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico where a very large and growing oxygen void "dead zone" is killing pretty much everything in to , , ,  cry
24067  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: February 12, 2009, 11:46:21 AM
Whoa!  shocked

and here's this:

FBI may shift counterterror agents to anti-fraud


By DEVLIN BARRETT
The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 11, 2009; 6:05 PM

WASHINGTON -- With thousands of fraud investigations under way, the FBI is considering shifting agents away from counterterrorism work to help sort through the wreckage of the financial meltdown.

FBI Deputy Director John Pistole told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the bureau may reassign some of the positions that were reallocated to anti-terrorism work after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Such a move would be a further sign of the government breaking with the Bush administration's priorities, which pledged to assign every available resource to averting another terrorist attack.  Pistole told Congress his investigators have 530 active corporate fraud investigations, and 38 of them involve some of the biggest names in corporate finance _ cases directly related to the current crisis.
In addition, FBI investigators are tackling an even bigger mountain of mortgage fraud cases in which hundreds of millions of dollars may have been swindled from the system, he told lawmakers.  The FBI now has more than 1,800 open mortgage fraud investigations, more than double the number of such cases just two years ago.  There are so many mortgage fraud cases to investigate, he said, that the bureau is not focusing on individual purchasers, but industry professionals generating fraud schemes that could total as much as hundreds of millions of dollars.

"It is a matter of lawyers, brokers or real estate professionals that are systematically trying to defraud the system," Pistole said.
Agents have even seen some instances of organized crime getting involved in mortgage fraud, he said.

Also appearing before the committee was Neil Barofsky, the watchdog of the government's $700 billion Wall Street rescue package passed last year.

Senate Democrats are urging more spending to expand the ranks of the FBI's financial fraud investigators.  After the 2001 terror attacks, about 2,000 FBI agents were moved to counterterrorism work, and Pistole said they are considering moving some of them back to beef up anti-fraud efforts.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., urged the FBI and the Justice Department to put people who have committed mortgage fraud behind bars.

"Most people are honest," Leahy said. "The ones who are not honest in this field are creating economic havoc and I want to make sure that we're able to go after them. I want to see people prosecuted.... Frankly, I want to see them go to jail".

Barofsky, who was appointed the inspector general of the ongoing financial bailout plan, suggested the best way to clean up mortgage fraud is to pursue licensed professionals in the industry, and make examples of them.

"They have the most to lose, they're the most likely to flip, and they make the best examples," said Barofsky, a former federal prosecutor in New York.
24068  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Epidemics: Bird Flu, TB, etc on: February 12, 2009, 11:42:32 AM
That is fascinating!

I wonder if this sort of thing will meet the approval of the O-bot bureaucrats?  tongue
24069  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: The tree of Liberty on: February 12, 2009, 11:40:41 AM
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Stephens Smith, 13 November 1787
24070  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Torture by fellatio on: February 12, 2009, 11:35:51 AM
Female FBI officer " Tortured Mumbai terror attacks suspect with sex "

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

Female FBI officer 'tortured Mumbai terror attacks suspect with sex'

A female FBI officer tortured a suspect in the Mumbai terrorist attacks by performing a sex act on him during interrogation, it has been claimed.

By Ben Leach
Last Updated: 10:29PM GMT 11 Feb 2009


Fahim Ansari is accused of helping to plan the attacks in which 173 people were killed in November.

His lawyer, Ejaz Naqvi, has filed legal papers with Mumbai magistrate's court, claiming the "white woman" removed all his clothes and showed him pornographic films.  In the papers, he claims that three foreigners, including the woman, sexually abused him, causing him "severe itching and wounds" on his body, including his genitals.  Mr Ansari, a devout Muslim, claims this amounts to torture because it is against his religion, The Sun newspaper has reported.

A court in the Indian city ordered medical checks on "wounds on his private parts and all over his body."

Mr Ansari was arrested with five other suspects last year.  Police have said that he is a trained member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist organisation responsible for the Mumbai attacks.  He was detained in February last year in connection with an attack on a police camp in Rampur that left seven paramilitaries and one civilian dead.

Police have said Mr Ansari had hand-drawn maps of key Mumbai landmarks, some of which were hit in the attacks that started on 26 November.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-with-sex.html
24071  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm): The Running Dog Game on: February 11, 2009, 08:59:50 PM
Sorry for the delay in following up.  I am informed the error was inadvertent and that all has been taken care of.

Moving forward now:

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

We have gotten feedback (very positive btw) and are finalizing the edit on Friday.
24072  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DLO 3 on: February 11, 2009, 08:57:18 PM
Bringing is to the top because this is going to be front and center real soon.
24073  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 11, 2009, 07:04:59 PM
Most of the points are good, but this simply is silly:

"Second, Obama states: “It’s not acceptable for Pakistan or for us to have folks who, with impunity, will kill innocent men, women and children.” For us? Perhaps by this bizarre statement Obama meant not only Pakistan but any country assisting terrorists must be opposed by U.S. policy, but it came out sounding as if the U.S. was somehow itself fostering terrorism."

No, you moron, his obvious intended meaning is that it is unacceptable both to Pakistan and the US to have terrorists.  While I doubt the veracity of the statement with regard to Pak, the meaning taken by this piece concerning his language with regard to the US is childish.
24074  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Stockton, CA memories on: February 11, 2009, 03:31:36 PM
Stockton hits jackpot: named America's most miserable city


Forbes.com has ranked America's most miserable cities.. and the winner is ... Stockton!

No small feat, the magazine says.

It compiled its findings by looking at the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S., and ranking them on nine factors: commute times, corruption -- the criminal conviction of government officials in the area -- as well as ''pro sports teams, Superfund sites, taxes (both income and sales), unemployment, violent crime and weather.''

And voila!

''Stockton was ground zero for the housing boom and now the subsequent bust. Home prices more than tripled between 1998 and 2005 and then came crashing down last year. Stockton had the country's highest foreclosure rate last year at 9.5%, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed property.''

''Things are not looking much brighter in 2009 as housing prices are expected to fall another 36% on the heels of a 39% drop in 2008. Also, unemployment is expected to jump to 13.3% from 10.4%, according to economic research firm Moody's Economy.com.''

But have no fear, California wasn't shorted. Modesto came out No. 5 on the list, with other such notable friends as Chicago, Miami, Flint, Mich., and Detroit.

Why? "Unemployment has skyrocketed in Modesto with further pain to come. It is expected to average 16.7% in 2009, up from 11.4% last year. Another drawback: It has the highest car theft rate in the U.S."

So did Stockton and Modesto take an unfair hit? Or were there some other California nominees -- we can think of a few -- that were overlooked?

24075  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: February 11, 2009, 03:03:18 PM
About half-way through President Obama's press conference Monday night, he had an unscripted question of his own. "All, Chuck Todd," the President said, referring to NBC's White House correspondent. "Where's Chuck?" He had the same strange question about Fox News's Major Garrett: "Where's Major?"

The problem wasn't the lighting in the East Room. The President was running down a list of reporters preselected to ask questions. The White House had decided in advance who would be allowed to question the President and who was left out.


Presidents are free to conduct press conferences however they like, but the decision to preselect questioners is an odd one, especially for a White House famously pledged to openness. We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors. Mr. Obama can more than handle his own, so our guess is that this is an attempt to discipline reporters who aren't White House favorites.

Few accounts of Monday night's event even mentioned the curious fact that the White House had picked its speakers in advance. We hope that omission wasn't out of fear of being left off the list the next time.
24076  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Yet another Trojan horse on: February 11, 2009, 02:36:47 PM
The "stimulus" is the bill that keeps on giving, not least for journalists. Health-care providers and patients may have a different reaction, however, when they learn that Democrats are using the bill to create a health information monopoly that will help centralize government control of the health-care market.

In theory, electronic medical records are among the few stimulus ideas that might do some actual good. Democrats and Republicans agree that exchanging the paper files we mostly use now for digital versions will lower costs, cut down on medical errors, and maybe cure the common cold.

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Both the House and Senate stimulus bills include about $20 billion in incentive payments (mainly through Medicare and Medicaid) to encourage the digitization of medical records. Fair enough. But one of the reasons only an estimated 17% to 29% of doctors use health IT is because there are still many technical issues to work out. Different systems must be compatible so doctors can communicate with each other, coordinate care and share information -- and they don't want to invest in a platform that could become as obsolete as HD-DVD.

Democrats have decided that the way to jump this gap is for government simply to pick the next Blu-Ray. Instead of building on a voluntary public-private standard-setting body created by the Bush Administration, the stimulus bill codifies it as a federal office and gives it broad new powers if private companies are not "substantially and adequately" meeting the needs of doctors and hospitals. The health IT outfit will soon be deciding which platforms are up to code and shutting down competitors.

This will certainly muffle innovation, given that high-school dropouts have been known to scam U.S. health bureaucrats out of millions of dollars that should be preventable with off-the-shelf auditing software. Anyway, what's the rush? Democrats give the game away by mandating that most medical providers who aren't linked into the government-approved health information network after 2016 will start to be penalized. Their real political goal is to make a down payment on national health care.

The stimulus actually makes it harder for doctors, hospitals and pharmacies to use health IT, under the guise of "privacy." This is especially dishonest. Insurers already know the health condition of millions of Americans from claims information, which list diagnoses, prescriptions, procedures, etc. The government does too, because it pays so many medical bills through the entitlement programs.

In its pure form, the primary purpose of health IT is to organize all this data in a useful way, so we can get a better sense of health trends and outcomes. Large insurers like Kaiser Permanente and others are starting to do just that on their own, as well as creating the data-based tools that could give consumers a better value for their health dollars. The plug could get pulled from such efforts because the faux privacy provisions are so onerous.

The true political goal is cost control. For the Pete Stark Democrats whose ambition is Medicare for all -- no exceptions -- giving government exclusive control over electronic health information and reporting is a step toward "comparative effectiveness" research. That in turn will be used to impose price controls and deny some types of medical treatment and drugs. And because government is able to skew the whole health system through Medicare and Medicaid, comparative effectiveness could end up micromanaging the practice of medicine.

If three Republican Senators are going to help pass this stimulus, the least they can do is demand that this stalking horse for government-run health care is out. We need to debate this in the open, not slip it into legislation under false cover.

 
24077  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Czech POV on missile defense on: February 11, 2009, 01:07:39 PM
Russia Shouldn't Have a Veto on Missile Defense
European leaders relied on U.S. commitments.Article
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By MILAN VODICKA
Prague

If the United States builds a radar system in the Czech Republic as part of the missile defense program developed by the Bush administration, it's likely that the Russians will target the Czech Republic with their tactical nuclear missiles. But many Czechs are fearful of an even greater danger than Russia: The possibility that the U.S. may decide not to deploy the defense system. Unfortunately, Vice President Joseph Biden suggested this prospect last week in Munich when he said, "We will wait for what the experts say and then we will see."

Czech politicians and their Polish counterparts have invested a lot of political capital in the missile defense project. If the Obama administration doesn't follow through, supporters of the missile shield would feel abandoned by the U.S.

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What's worse, Czech and Polish leaders would lose credibility among their opponents and, most importantly, Russia. Moscow would see the failure to build the radar system as proof of its influence over Central Europe, and as recognition of its veto power over European security policy.

Mr. Biden doesn't seem to appreciate that the missile defense project isn't just about American interests. It's about the Czechs and the Poles, too.

The Americans wanted the radar and the interceptors, and they wanted them within the borders of our countries. Our leaders went to great lengths to meet Washington's requests. They stood firm in the face of passionate protests at home and intimidation from Russia. Recently, Moscow backed down from its threat to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, but it stands ready to follow through if missile defense becomes a reality.

It's beginning to look as though the Americans were taking us for a ride. Now that there's a new driver in the White House, they think they can just drop us off at the curb.

Even if the Obama administration wants to backtrack on missile defense, doing so won't return relations with Russia to the status quo ante. This is because Russia has transformed the issue of the missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland into evidence of its growing influence. Russia has turned this into a question of its power beyond its borders.

If it weren't for Russia, there would be little difficulty in Washington's change of heart. Yet Russia's involvement makes the game a different one entirely. While several interceptors in Poland can stop individual missiles, they can't prevent a massive strike by a nuclear power like Russia. This is because the system is aimed at Iran, not Russia.

Moscow's rigid position has hardened the resolve of Prague and Warsaw, which fear that the Kremlin is attempting to dictate the limits of Czech and Polish sovereignty and foreign policy. We have experienced this before.

This, at least, is how the situation appears from the Czech point of view. I can already anticipate the Obama administration's conclusion: that missile defense is an expensive diversion with uncertain benefits and unpleasant side effects. Such an outcome is all the more likely given the global economic crisis and the difficult fiscal situation in the U.S.

There's no doubt that Russia would profit from a scenario in which the U.S. put the missile defense project on hold. Just consider the situation in Georgia last summer.

During the conflict in South Ossetia, it was alarming how many observers in the U.S. press implied that NATO enlargement was a mistake. The tone of these articles strongly suggested that expansion of the Atlantic alliance only caused the U.S. more trouble with Russia. They also implied that the U.S. and other Western powers were less than fully committed to their new eastern partners.

In this light, it's clear that American retreat on the missile defense program would hand Moscow a huge victory. Washington can't afford to leave the Czechs out in the cold.

Mr. Vodicka is senior writer for the Czech newspaper Mladá Fronta Dnes.

24078  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MY: Enemy tactics on: February 11, 2009, 01:03:05 PM
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/the-eagle-went-over-the-mountain.htm
24079  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: February 11, 2009, 01:02:31 PM
Another slice of real life report from our man on the ground in Baghdad:
===================
I was interviewing an Iraqi Judicial Police officer this morning.  I asked him "so have there been any attacks by prisoners inside the courtroom against judges, police, whoever?"
 
He responds "well there was the one time the 1-legged Afghani prisoner jumped a U.S. Army soldier trying to get his firearm."  (That would mean his M-9 Beretta pistol).  These are all terrorists, insurgents, kidnappers, murderers, show throwers, etc. 
 
The attack didn't go to well for the Afghani.  For the most part these attacks work better when you are operating from a 2-leg platform.  And I gather the Afghani got pounced on and subdued pretty...hmmm...overwhelmingly.
 
But overall that took some cojones.

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

As you may know, one of the things our team really took notice of at CCCI and made major efforts to address, was the cavalier manner in which the Iraqis moved and watched prisoners in the courthouse.
 
I went back to CCCI today for the first time in about two weeks.  Man the folks couldn't wait to give me the scoop on the goings on.
 
Yesterday an Iraqi prisoner at CCCI, who had just been sentenced to hang (remember if you are at CCCI you are in the major big leagues), walked away from his guards and walked up to a GI at C3 (the courthouse front entrance) begging for help in English and Arabic.  "Meester, meester.  Help me,  help me."  He was blindfolded yet could clearly still see where he was going.  Freaked out the soldier, who felt a bump against his shoulder, and turned to see this guy blindfolded.  The soldier pushed him away.  A couple of seconds later the Iraqis tackled the prisoner and dragged him down the stairs.
 
Seems the Iraqis were each moving different prisoners when they bumped into each other at the top of the stairs...less than 10 meters from the courthouse front door exit.  They were like "hey bro, ain't seen you in a while."  "Yeah dude, I been busy."  Kiss, kiss (the kiss each other on the cheek thing).  And I guess the bandit was like "man I need help real bad because today has been a real bad day so far."
=================

It took me a while to get this photo. 
 
If you look in the sky between the two trees you can see one of Baghdad's other quirks.  What I call the mortar blimps.  They probably have a more official name.
 
Essentially they are part of an indirect fire detection system.   And they are tied into an audible alert system on the ground that warns of "incoming."  In theory, and it has had its value in practice, indirect fire (e.g. mortars, artillery, and I believe to a lesser detectable degree rockets) have a signature to them.  The rounds move at a certain speed.  They have a certain angulation to their trajectory.  They have a certain mass.  This combination of factors is what the equipment in this blimp is abble to detect and immediately forward as part of an early warning system.  Additionally, the network of them, if I am not mistaken, can also help in determining with pretty good precision, where the round was fired from.
 
Anyway on any given day if you look up in the sky you can usually see a couple of these lazily floating in the air.
=========


====================
Iraqi government ceases arrests among Sadrists in Diwaniya
February 10, 2009 - 04:12:29

DIWANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: The federal government has ordered to cease arresting Sadrists in Diwaniya, the commander of the emergency brigade said on Tuesday.

 

“There are verbal orders issued to the emergency police by the federal government to cease arrests among Sadrists in Diwaniya,” Colonel Ghassan Mohamed Hassan told Aswat al-Iraq news agency, noting that this comes within the national reconciliation project.

 

He criticized statements made by some lawmakers, who said that “the emergency police’s arrest campaign against Sadrists in Diwaniya comes within political clearance, asserting that the police implement the judicial orders.

 

Diwaniya is 180 km south of Baghdad.


24080  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An oldie but goodie on: February 11, 2009, 12:46:06 PM
Israeli Sense of Humor at UN

An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly which made the world community smile.

A representative from Israel began: 'Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath!'

He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.

When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Palestinian had stolen them.'

The Palestinian representative jumped up furiously and shouted, 'What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren't there then.'

The Israeli representative smiled and said, 'And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech

stolen from:
http://forum.pafoa.org/lounge-108/48...-humor-un.html
24081  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington; Madison; Adams; Jefferson; S. Adams on: February 11, 2009, 12:45:06 PM
"Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience."

--George Washington, The Rules of Civility, Circa 1748

===========

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one...." --James Madison

==========
Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it." --John Adams
=========
"It is of great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible; and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good disposition."

--Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, 19 August 1785
===============================================

 "I hope our country will never see the time, when either riches or the want of them will be the leading consideration in the choice of public officers."
                      Samuel Adams, Jan 2, 1776

 "No People will tamely surrender their liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved. On the contrary, when people are universally ignorant and debauched in their manners, they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign invaders."
                      Samuel Adams, 1775

 "I have long been convinced that our enemies have made it an object, to eradicate from the minds of the People in general a sense of true religion and virtue, in hopes thereby the more easily to carry their point of enslaving them. Indeed my friend, this is a subject so important in my mind, that I know not how to leave it. Revelation assures us that righteousness exalts a Nation; communities are dealt with in this world by the wise and just ruler of the universe. He rewards or punishes them according to their general character. The diminution of public liberty will not long survive the total extinction of morals."
                       Samuel Adams, April 30, 1776

24082  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Round 2 with Crafty in Toronto on: February 11, 2009, 12:02:05 PM
Woof All:

Another fine time in Toronto.  Once again a particularly enjoyable group to work with, and a great pleasure to see my good friend Sled Dog.

Due to my struggling with a lingering case of the cooties, we passed on working our Kali Tudo Running Dog Game (I did demo it for about 20 minutes on Sunday though) and focused mostly on various aspects of stickwork.

Due to a smaller room at the first seminar, I had not gone into Dos Triques (our double stick blend of Kali and Krabi Krabong of Thailand) which is one of the primary building blocks of the system.    This time around though we had a bigger room (thank you once again Cross Fit) and so we were able to get some good work done.   I speak of DT consisting of "mathemaniacal formulaes" -- and I suppose I could say that the stages that people go through in learning the material is a mathematical progression of its own.

Step One:  Oh, that looks really easy.
Step Two:  Ummm, , , uhhhh, , , show me that again please?
Step Three: OK, got it.
Step Four:  Ummm , , , no I don't.  I (or DT  cheesy ) must really suck.
Step Five:  OHHHH!!! I get it , , , No I don't , , , Yes I do , , ,  Light bulbs begin to light up everywhere.
Step Six:  As the rules of the formulae are understood, the practitionere begins to self-correct.
Step Seven:  Additional details are brought out
Step Eight:  Additional combinations are introduced, deepening the understanding of the formulae.

Then we see how the footwork matrix and its formulae apply in different weapon categories.

In this case we went to single stick:

1) Salt & Pepper:  "a triangle from the third dimension" (TF3D) combination series against the forehanded counter attacker
2) the Kalimba Dodger: again TF3D, this time against the forehanded "Mongo Smash" fighter
3) Outside sweep, Inside Diamond:  TF3D against the backhander

We finished on Sunday with Kali Tudo Trig 101 into outside diamond triangle angular crash-strike combination:  "Stepping throught the portal to the magical dimension where martial arts and crafts actually work" (c)

Monday morning worked with Rene and two good friends of his (Gordon, Andre) on some closed door material.

I am delighted to announce that Rene is now a DBMA Group Leader.

Walk as a Warrior for all our days,
Guro Crafty

24083  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA now on Facebook on: February 11, 2009, 01:34:12 AM
Trying to get the hang of this thing, but so far it is eluding me.  It seems to take up an incredible amount of time looking up who people are and then accepting or rejecting them.  huh huh huh
24084  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Quotes, quips, and sayings on: February 11, 2009, 01:02:32 AM
Mom and dad say I should make my life an example of the principles I believe in. But every time I do, they tell me to stop it. Calvin
24085  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 10, 2009, 10:13:28 PM
"Looking to reframe"  , , , I like that. cool
24086  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: February 10, 2009, 08:05:18 PM
WND is not my idea of a relible site, so caveat lector, but FWIW:

 8 States Introduced Resolutions Declaring State Sovereignty

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

8 States Introduced Resolutions Declaring State Sovereignty, 20 more States may do the same

Posted: February 06, 2009
11:50 pm Eastern

By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

NEW YORK – As the Obama administration attempts to push through Congress a nearly $1 trillion deficit spending plan that is weighted heavily toward advancing typically Democratic-supported social welfare programs, a rebellion against the growing dominance of federal control is beginning to spread at the state level.

So far, eight states have introduced resolutions declaring state sovereignty under the Ninth and Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, including Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

Analysts expect that in addition, another 20 states may see similar measures introduced this year, including Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania.

"What we are trying to do is to get the U.S. Congress out of the state's business," Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Randy Brogdon told WND.  "Congress is completely out of line spending trillions of dollars over the last 10 years putting the nation into a debt crisis like we've never seen before," Brogdon said, arguing that the Obama stimulus plan is the last straw taxing state patience in the brewing sov ereignty dispute "This particular 111th Congress is the biggest bunch of over-reachers and underachievers we've ever had in Congress. A sixth-grader should realize you can't borrow money to pay off your debt, and that is the Obama administration's answer for a stimulus package," he added.

The Ninth Amendment reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

The Tenth Amendment specifically provides, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Brogdon, the lead sponsor of the Oklahoma state senate version of the sovereignty bill, has been a strong opponent of extending the plan to build a four-football-fields-wide Trans-Texas Corridor parallel to Interstate-35 to Oklahoma, as WND reported.

Rollback federal authority

The various sovereignty measures moving through state legislatures are designed to reassert state authority through a rollback of federal authority under the powers enumerated in the Constitution, with the states assuming the governance of the non-enumerated powers, as required by the Tenth Amendment.

The state sovereignty measures, aimed largely at the perceived fiscal irresponsibility of Congress in the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, have gained momentum with the $1 trillion deficit-spending economic stimulus package the Obama administration is currently pushing through Congress.

Particularly disturbing to many state legislators are the increasing number of "unfunded mandates" that have proliferated in social welfare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, in which bills passed by Congress dictate policy to the states without providing funding.

In addition, the various state resolutions include discussion of a wide range of policy areas, including the regulation of firearms sales (Montana) and the demand to issue drivers licenses with technology to embed personal information under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and the Real ID Act (Michigan).

Hawaii's measure calls for a new state constitutional convention to return self-governance, a complaint that traces back to the days it was a U.S. territory, prior to achieving statehood in 1959.

"We are trying to send a message to the federal government that the states are trying to reclaim their sovereignty," Republican Rep. Matt Shea, the lead sponsor of Washington's sovereignty resolution told WND.

"State sovereignty has been eroded in so many areas, it's hard to know where to start," he said. "There are a ton of federal mandates imposed on states, for instance, on education spending and welfare spending."

Shea said the Obama administration's economic stimulus package moving through Congress is a "perfect example."

"In the state of Washington, we have increased state spending 33 percent in the last three years and hired 6,000 new state employees, often using federal mandates as an excuse to grow state government," he said. "We need to return government back down to the people, to keep government as close to the local people as possible."

Shea is a private attorney who serves with the Alliance Defense Fund, a nationwide network of about 1,000 attorneys who work pro-bono. As a counter to the ACLU, the alliance seeks to protect and defend religious liberty, the sanctity of life and traditional family values.

Republican state Rep. Judy Burges, the primary sponsor of the sovereignty resolution in the Arizona House, told WND the federal government "has been trouncing on our constitutional rights. The real turning point for me was the Real ID act, which involved both a violation of the Fourth Amendments rights against the illegal searches and seizures and the Tenth Amendment," she said.

Burges told WND she is concerned that the overreaching of federal powers could lead to new legislation aimed at confiscating weapons from citizens or encoding ammunition.

"The Real ID Act was so broadly written that we are afraid that it involves the potential for "mission-creep," that could easily involve confiscation of firearms and violations of the Second Amendment," she said.

Burges said she has been surprised at the number of e-mails she has received in support of the sovereignty measure.

"We are a sovereign state in Arizona, not a branch of the federal government, and we need to be treated as such, she insisted.


Tags: http://www.worldnetdaily.co...
24087  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: February 10, 2009, 06:22:47 PM
Honesty compels me to mention that I think it originally was Woody Allen.  Not one of my favorite people (indeed as the epitome of the whiny neurotic cowardly little d*cked jew I loathe him) but with this one he nailed it. 

BTW, you have PM.
24088  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Justice Dept appointments on: February 10, 2009, 06:18:35 PM
President Obama has learned that choosing a Cabinet without proper vetting can produce painful headaches. The same may be said of some sub-cabinet officials at the Justice Department, now being rushed through the confirmation process. Today the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings on Elena Kagan to be Solicitor General and Thomas Perrelli to be Associate Attorney General. Their consideration should not come at the expense of a thorough airing of their records.

Much government policy gets made at the sub-cabinet level. Attorney General Eric Holder may be on the front pages, but it is the subalterns whose work will leave a mark on the country's laws and legal policy. Last week's hearing for Deputy Attorney General David Ogden raised issues involving his work on abortion, the death penalty and obscenity cases while in private practice. Mr. Ogden told the committee he did not always share the controversial views of those he represented.


At the confirmation, Senator Jon Kyl said Mr. Ogden had "talked about the need to employ human compassion and described a tension between the rule of law and human compassion in judging cases." This resembles former Senator Obama's comment on the campaign trail that "empathy" was an important qualification for a judge. Pressed by Senator Kyl, Mr. Ogden said, "I think it's important, as I think the President does, that judges understand the circumstances of the people who are in front of them and understand the consequences of their rulings. I think that's quite important. But in the end, the law has to guide legal judgment."

In an op-ed in the Legal Times earlier in his career, Mr. Ogden wrote that "Constitutional interpretation cannot be limited to ascertain the way a particular law would have been viewed by the Framers." We'll see.

As a dean of Harvard Law School, Ms. Kagan has a thinner paper trail, though there are areas of her record the Senators should explore today, including her opposition to the Solomon Amendment. This law makes it possible to deny federal money to colleges and universities that ban military recruiters on campus -- an action Harvard Law School took under her guidance in 2004. In 2006 the Supreme Court ruled the Solomon Amendment constitutional with an 8-0 decision. Mr. Perrelli was known for his work with the Florida ACLU in defense of Terry Schiavo's husband in the hard-fought case over whether to take the Florida woman off life support.

None of these positions may trump the appropriate deference President Obama deserves in choosing those who serve him, but they qualify as legitimate information to be shared with the voters. While Mr. Obama has staked moderate positions on many issues, appointing sub-cabinet officials with more radical views amounts to a kind of back-door activism, out of view of the voters. Shortened timelines for confirmation leaves the Senate with little time to consider the thousands of pages of documents that were submitted for consideration prior to these hearings.

Complicit in this haste has been Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, who arranged the Justice hearings at lightning speed, a sharp turn from the endless stalling that marked his treatment of Bush nominees. Ms. Kagan's hearing comes only 36 days after her nomination -- a sprint compared to the average 56 days for Solicitor General nominees since 1980 or the 74 days since September 11, 2001. Similar fast reviews apply to Messrs. Perrelli and Ogden.

Elections have consequences and no one should be surprised that Mr. Obama is picking people who represent the left of the political spectrum. But Senate confirmation exists for a reason. The point is less to give Senators a veto than it is to inform the public. These people will govern in their name.
24089  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Return of Welfare as we knew it. on: February 10, 2009, 06:13:36 PM
By BENJAMIN E. SASSE and KERRY N. WEEMS
Twelve years ago, President Bill Clinton signed a law that he correctly proclaimed would end "welfare as we know it." That sweeping legislation, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, eliminated the open-ended entitlement that had existed since 1965, replacing it with a finite, block grant approach called the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

TANF has been a remarkable success. Welfare caseloads nationally fell from 12.6 million in 1997 to fewer than five million in 2007. And yet despite this achievement, House Democrats are seeking to undo Mr. Clinton's reforms under the cover of the stimulus bill.


Currently, welfare recipients are limited to a total of five years of federal benefits over a lifetime. They're also required to begin working after two years of government support. States are accountable for helping their needy citizens transition from handouts to self-sufficiency. Critically, the funds provided to states are fixed appropriations by the federal government.

Through a little noticed provision of the stimulus package that has passed the House of Representatives, the bill creates a fund for TANF that is open-ended -- the same way Medicare and Social Security are.

In the section of the House bill dealing with cash assistance to low-income families, the authors inserted the bombshell phrase: "such sums as are necessary." This is a profound departure from the current statutory scheme, despite the fact that, in this particular bill, state TANF spending would be capped. The "such sums" appropriation language is deliberately obscure. It is a camel's nose provision intended to reverse Clinton-era legislation and create a new template for future TANF reauthorizations.

Most liberals have always disliked welfare reform; critics of TANF believed Mr. Clinton supported it only to get re-elected. Some asserted it was racist or intended to punish the poor. Others claimed that the funds to assist single mothers with child care, transportation and job training were never as generous as were allegedly promised. Today, the fact that disqualification from the program is based on failing to secure a job within two years seems especially harsh given this economic crisis.

There are legitimate objections to the program that are worth debating. But this is not an open debate: It is a near secret provision buried deep in a more than 600-page piece of legislation.

The TANF provisions of the stimulus bill, like the nearly $100 billion Medicaid provisions, are less about stimulating the economy, and more about the federal government absorbing the states' budget problems. State budgets may be swamped with those needing temporary relief, and a contingency fund could help. But it should be a definite amount, not a precedent-setting, open-ended amount. (If the initial TANF allocation is not sufficient, Congress could appropriate another definite amount.)

The offending language is not in yesterday's Senate version of the bill, but that provides little comfort. The attempt to undo welfare reform has not been transparent, and the conference committee provides the perfect closed-door environment for slipping in "such sums" language into the final bill without public scrutiny.

Welfare reform was arguably the most important legislative development of the mid-1990s. It is bad policy to jettison it with five words during an economic crisis.

All who are concerned about our nation's unfunded obligations should be on guard against attempts to slip "such sums" language into any conference committee bill. Welfare policy is too important to change with a stealth maneuver.

Mr. Sasse, former U.S. assistant secretary of Health and Human services, teaches policy at the University of Texas. Mr. Weems, former vice chairman of the American Health Information Community, held the position of administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services until last month.
24090  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Evolutionary biology/psychology on: February 10, 2009, 06:04:03 PM
James Q. Wilson
The DNA of Politics
Genes shape our beliefs, our values, and even our votes.

Radek Pietruszka/epa/Corbis

Studies of identical twins, like Polish president Lech Kaczyński, right, and former prime minister Jaroslaw, show that 40 percent of our political views have a genetic component.Children differ, as any parent of two or more knows. Some babies sleep through the night, others are always awake; some are calm, others are fussy; some walk at an early age, others after a long wait. Scientists have proved that genes are responsible for these early differences. But people assume that as children get older and spend more time under their parents’ influence, the effect of genes declines. They are wrong.

For a century or more, we have understood that intelligence is largely inherited, though even today some mistakenly rail against the idea and say that nurture, not nature, is all. Now we know that much of our personality, too, is inherited and that many social attitudes have some degree of genetic basis, including our involvement in crime and some psychiatric illnesses. Some things do result entirely from environmental influences, such as whether you follow the Red Sox or the Yankees (though I suspect that Yankee fans have a genetic defect). But beyond routine tastes, almost everything has some genetic basis. And that includes politics.

When scholars say that a trait is “inherited,” they don’t mean that they can tell what role nature and nurture have played in any given individual. Rather, they mean that in a population—say, a group of adults or children—genes explain a lot of the differences among individuals.

There are two common ways of reaching this conclusion. One is to compare adopted children’s traits with those of their biological parents, on the one hand, and with those of their adoptive parents, on the other. If a closer correlation exists with the biological parents’ traits, then we say that the trait is to that degree inherited.

The other method is to compare identical twins’ similarity, with respect to some trait, with the similarity of fraternal twins, or even of two ordinary siblings. Identical twins are genetic duplicates, while fraternal twins share only about half their genes and are no more genetically alike than ordinary siblings are. If identical twins are more alike than fraternal twins, therefore, we conclude that the trait under consideration is to some degree inherited.

Three political science professors—John Alford, Carolyn Funk, and John Hibbing—have studied political attitudes among a large number of twins in America and Australia. They measured the attitudes with something called the Wilson-Patterson Scale (I am not the Wilson after whom it was named), which asks whether a respondent agrees or disagrees with 28 words or phrases, such as “death penalty,” “school prayer,” “pacifism,” or “gay rights.” They then compared the similarity of the responses among identical twins with the similarity among fraternal twins. They found that, for all 28 taken together, the identical twins did indeed agree with each other more often than the fraternal ones did—and that genes accounted for about 40 percent of the difference between the two groups. On the other hand, the answers these people gave to the words “Democrat” or “Republican” had a very weak genetic basis. In politics, genes help us understand fundamental attitudes—that is, whether we are liberal or conservative—but do not explain what party we choose to join.

Genes also influence how frequently we vote. Voting has always puzzled scholars: How is it rational to wait in line on a cold November afternoon when there is almost no chance that your ballot will make any difference? Apparently, people who vote often feel a strong sense of civic duty or like to express themselves. But who are these people? James Fowler, Laura Baker, and Christopher Dawes studied political participation in Los Angeles by comparing voting among identical and fraternal twins. Their conclusion: among registered voters, genetic factors explain about 60 percent of the difference between those who vote and those who do not.

A few scholars, determined to hang on to the belief that environment explains everything, argue that such similarities occur because the parents of identical twins—as opposed to the parents of fraternal twins—encourage them to be as alike as possible as they grow up. This is doubtful. First, we know that many parents make bad guesses about their children’s genetic connection—thinking that fraternal twins are actually identical ones, or vice versa. When we take twins’ accurate genetic relationships into account, we find that identical twins whom parents wrongly thought to be fraternal are very similar, while fraternal twins wrongly thought to be identical are no more alike than ordinary siblings.

Moreover, studying identical twins reared apart by different families, even in different countries, effectively shows that their similar traits cannot be the result of similar upbringing. The University of Minnesota’s Thomas Bouchard has done research on many identical twins reared apart (some in different countries) and has found that though they never knew each other or their parents, they proved remarkably alike, especially in personality—whether they were extroverted, agreeable, neurotic, or conscientious, for example.

Some critics complain that the fact that identical twins live together with their birth parents, at least for a time, ruins Bouchard’s findings: during this early period, they say, parenting must influence the children’s attitudes. But the average age at which the identical twins in Bouchard’s study became separated from their parents was five months. It is hard to imagine parents teaching five-month-old babies much about politics or religion.

The gene-driven ideological split that Alford and his colleagues found may, in fact, be an underestimate, because men and women tend to marry people with whom they agree on big issues—assortative mating, as social scientists call it. Assortative mating means that the children of parents who agree on issues will be more likely to share whatever genes influence those beliefs. Thus, even children who are not identical twins will have a larger genetic basis for their views than if their parents married someone with whom they disagreed. Since we measure heritability by subtracting the similarity among fraternal twins from the similarity among identical ones, this difference may neglect genetic influences that already exist on fraternal twins. And if it does, it means that we are underestimating genetic influences on attitudes.

When we step back and look at American politics generally, genes may help us understand why, for countless decades, about 40 percent of all voters have supported conservative causes, about 40 percent have backed liberal ones, and the 20 percent in the middle have decided the elections. On a few occasions, the winning presidential candidate has won about 60 percent of the vote. But these days we call a 55 percent victory a “landslide.” It is hard to imagine a purely environmental force that would rule out a presidential election in which one candidate got 80 percent of the vote and his rival only 20 percent. Something deeper must be going on.

All of this leaves open the question: Which genes help create which political attitudes? Right now, we don’t know. To discover the links will require lengthy studies of the DNA of people with different political views. Scientists are having a hard time locating the specific genes that cause diseases; it will probably be much harder to find the complex array of genes that affects politics.

There are problems with the observed link between genes and politics. One is that it is fairly crude so far. Liberals and conservatives come in many varieties: one can be an economic liberal and a social conservative, say, favoring a large state but opposing abortion; or an economic conservative and a social liberal, favoring the free market but supporting abortion and gay rights. If we add attitudes about foreign policy to the mix, the combinations double. Most tests used in genetic studies of political views do not allow us to make these important distinctions. As a result, though we know that genes affect ideology, that knowledge is clumsy. In time, I suspect, we will learn more about these subtleties.

Further, it’s important to emphasize that biology is not destiny. Genetic influences rarely operate independently of environmental factors. Take the case of serotonin. People who have little of this neurotransmitter are at risk for some psychological problems, but for many of them, no such problems occur unless they experience some personal crisis. Then the combined effect of genetic influences and disruptive experiences will trigger a deep state of depression, something that does not happen to people who either do not lack serotonin or who do lack it but encounter no crisis. Recently, in the first study to find the exact genes that affect political participation, Fowler and Dawes found two genes that help explain voting behavior. One of the genes, influencing serotonin levels, boosts turnout by 10 percent—if the person also attends church frequently. Nature and nurture interact.

The same is probably true of political ideology. When campus protests and attacks on university administrators began in the late 1960s, it was not because a biological upheaval had increased the number of radicals; it was because such people encountered events (the war in Vietnam, the struggle over civil rights) and group pressures that induced them to take strong actions. By the same token, lynchings in the South did not become common because there were suddenly more ultra-racists around. Rather, mob scenes, media frenzies, and the shock of criminal events motivated people already skeptical of civil rights to do terrible things.

Another challenge is politicized assessment of the genetic evidence. Ever since 1950, when Theodor Adorno and his colleagues published The Authoritarian Personality, scholars have studied right-wing authoritarianism but neglected its counterpart on the left. In his study of identical twins reared apart, Bouchard concludes that right-wing authoritarianism is, to a large degree, inherited—but he says nothing about the Left. This omission is puzzling, since as Bouchard was studying twins at the University of Minnesota, he was regularly attacked by left-wing students outraged by the idea that any traits might be inherited. A few students even threatened to kill him. When I pointed this out to him, he suggested, in good humor, that I was a troublemaker.

Yet if you ask who in this country has prevented people from speaking on college campuses, it is overwhelmingly leftists. If you ask who storms the streets and shatters the windows of Starbucks coffee shops to protest the World Trade Organization, it is overwhelmingly leftists. If you ask who produces campus codes that infringe on free speech, it is overwhelmingly leftists. If you ask who invaded the classroom of my late colleague Richard Herrnstein and tried to prevent him from teaching, it was overwhelmingly leftists.

A better way to determine if authoritarianism is genetic would be to ask people what the country’s biggest problems are. Liberals might say the inequality of income or the danger of global warming; conservatives might indicate the tolerance of abortion or the abundance of pornography. You would then ask each group what they thought should be done to solve these problems. An authoritarian liberal might say that we should tax high incomes out of existence and close down factories that emit greenhouse gases. A conservative authoritarian might suggest that we put abortion doctors in jail and censor books and television programs. This approach would give us a true measure of authoritarianism, left and right, and we would know how many of each kind existed and something about their backgrounds. Then, if they had twins, we would be able to estimate the heritability of authoritarianism. Doing all this is a hard job, which may explain why no scholars have done it.

Genes shape, to varying degrees, almost every aspect of human behavior. The struggle by some activists to deny or downplay that fact is worrisome. The anti-gene claim is ultimately an ill-starred effort to preserve the myth that, since the environment can explain everything, political causes that attempt to alter the environment can bring about whatever their leaders desire.

The truth is that though biology is not destiny, neither is it an easily changed path to utopia.

James Q. Wilson, formerly a professor at Harvard and at UCLA, now lectures at Pepperdine University. In 2003, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
24091  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Job offer from State Dept on: February 10, 2009, 05:24:41 PM
State Department Seeks Shooters for Iraq, A'stan

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

http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/0...departmen.html

The State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security is looking to bolster its ranks with more bodyguards to serve in high-threat areas like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Bureau yesterday posted a job ad for a new position, Security Protective Specialist. According to the help-wanted listing, these specialists will work at high-threat posts overseas, augmenting the force of Diplomatic Security special agents in protective details and motorcades.

Vacancies are available at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; Iraq Regional Embassy Offices in Erbil, Al Hillah, Tallil and Basra; at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul; and at Consulate General in Jerusalem.

Diplomatic Security Special Agents are what's known as "Foreign Service specialists," and a job with the bureau is a career appointment. Security Protective Specialists will work on renewable one-year contracts; their positions will be "limited non-career appointments" that they can hold for a maximum of five years.

In effect, it looks like the State Department is supplementing its force of career security agents with a new crop of internal hires. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is a relatively small force that is stretched thin; in Iraq alone, they must oversee security for nearly 1,000 personnel involved in reconstruction efforts. Diplomatic security in high-threat areas has become heavily outsourced: In July 2005, State selected three companies - Blackwater, DynCorp and Triple Canopy -- to compete for task orders under the Worldwide Personal Protective Service (WPPS) II contract, worth a potential USD1.2 billion to each contractor over a period of five years; the main WPPS II task orders are in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel.
Outsourcing security has had serious consequences. Blackwater shooters escorting a diplomatic convoy in Baghdad were involved in the 2007 Nisour Square shootings; the company is now supposed to be barred from further work in Iraq. In many respects, the backlash against contractors was a mess of State Department's making. The military often grumbled that the zealous efforts of contracted security firms to "protect the principal" were at odds with sound counterinsurgency practice (i.e., not pissing off the local population); further complicating matters, State's convoys often did not coordinate their movements with the military's operations center in Baghdad.

After the Nisour Square incident, State moved to tighten oversight of its contractors, and ordered diplomatic security agents to ride along with Blackwater convoys. These new security specialists will fill a similar role. According to the job annnouncement, the new specialists "will work in tandem with DS Special Agents (SA) to ensure that a DS supervisor is always present and involved with every protective motorcade element. The SPS or SA may act as the Detail Leader and may supervise other DS or contractor personnel."

The job offer also opens the door to ex-contractors. The announcement states: "Persons with current or recent experience in PSD [personal security detail] operations, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, are encouraged to apply."

Base pay for a Security Protective Specialist would be $52,221 per year -- much less than the six-figure pay a U.S. operator for a company like Triple Canopy, DynCorp or Blackwater would expect, but that salary figure would not include overseas allowances and pay differentials. More importantly, a federal officer would presumably the full legal protection -- something that contractors in Iraq can no longer count on.

Apply here:

http://jobsearch.usajobs.gov/getjob....ity+specialist
24092  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Looking for fighters for stickfighting TV series on: February 10, 2009, 04:53:14 PM
Folks:

Please stop asking when the deadline is.  There isn't one.   90% of life is showing up.  The sooner you get it in, the better for you.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm in a snarky mood today!
CD
24093  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 10, 2009, 04:40:02 PM
Grateful to be home from a good time doing a seminar in Toronto.
24094  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Determined to snatch defeat from jaws of victory on: February 10, 2009, 12:19:34 PM
S-IRAQ: Generals Seek to Reverse Obama Withdrawal Decision
By Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (IPS) - CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, supported by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months at an Oval Office meeting Jan. 21.

But Obama informed Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that he wasn't convinced and that he wanted Gates and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan, according to two sources who have talked with participants in the meeting.

Obama's decision to override Petraeus's recommendation has not ended the conflict between the president and senior military officers over troop withdrawal, however. There are indications that Petraeus and his allies in the military and the Pentagon, including Gen. Ray Odierno, now the top commander in Iraq, have already begun to try to pressure Obama to change his withdrawal policy.


Gareth Porter talks to Real News about his investigative piece for IPS.
A network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilising public opinion against Obama's decision.

Petraeus was visibly unhappy when he left the Oval Office, according to one of the sources. A White House staffer present at the meeting was quoted by the source as saying, "Petraeus made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama."

Petraeus, Gates and Odierno had hoped to sell Obama on a plan that they formulated in the final months of the Bush administration that aimed at getting around a key provision of the U.S.-Iraqi withdrawal agreement signed envisioned re-categorising large numbers of combat troops as support troops. That subterfuge was by the United States last November while ostensibly allowing Obama to deliver on his campaign promise.

Gates and Mullen had discussed the relabeling scheme with Obama as part of the Petraeus-Odierno plan for withdrawal they had presented to him in mid-December, according to a Dec. 18 New York Times story.

Obama decided against making any public reference to his order to the military to draft a detailed 16-month combat troop withdrawal policy, apparently so that he can announce his decision only after consulting with his field commanders and the Pentagon.

The first clear indication of the intention of Petraeus, Odierno and their allies to try to get Obama to amend his decision came on Jan. 29 when the New York Times published an interview with Odierno, ostensibly based on the premise that Obama had indicated that he was "open to alternatives".

The Times reported that Odierno had "developed a plan that would move slower than Mr. Obama's campaign timetable" and had suggested in an interview "it might take the rest of the year to determine exactly when United States forces could be drawn down significantly".

The opening argument by the Petraeus-Odierno faction against Obama's withdrawal policy was revealed the evening of the Jan. 21 meeting when retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, one of the authors of the Bush troop surge policy and a close political ally and mentor of Gen. Petraeus, appeared on the Lehrer News Hour to comment on Obama's pledge on Iraq combat troop withdrawal.

Keane, who had certainly been briefed by Petraeus on the outcome of the Oval Office meeting, argued that implementing such a withdrawal of combat troops would "increase the risk rather dramatically over the 16 months". He asserted that it would jeopardise the "stable political situation in Iraq" and called that risk "not acceptable".

The assertion that Obama's withdrawal policy threatens the gains allegedly won by the Bush surge and Petraeus's strategy in Iraq will apparently be the theme of the campaign that military opponents are now planning.

Keane, the Army Vice-Chief of Staff from 1999 to 2003, has ties to a network of active and retired four-star Army generals, and since Obama's Jan. 21 order on the 16-month withdrawal plan, some of the retired four-star generals in that network have begun discussing a campaign to blame Obama's troop withdrawal from Iraq for the ultimate collapse of the political "stability" that they expect to follow U.S. withdrawal, according to a military source familiar with the network's plans.

The source says the network, which includes senior active duty officers in the Pentagon, will begin making the argument to journalists covering the Pentagon that Obama's withdrawal policy risks an eventual collapse in Iraq. That would raise the political cost to Obama of sticking to his withdrawal policy.

If Obama does not change the policy, according to the source, they hope to have planted the seeds of a future political narrative blaming his withdrawal policy for the "collapse" they expect in an Iraq without U.S. troops.

That line seems likely to appeal to reporters covering the Iraq troop withdrawal issue. Ever since Obama's inauguration, media coverage of the issue has treated Obama' s 16-month withdrawal proposal as a concession to anti-war sentiment which will have to be adjusted to the "realities" as defined by the advice to Obama from Gates, Petreaus and Odierno.

Ever since he began working on the troop surge, Keane has been the central figure manipulating policy in order to keep as many U.S. troops in Iraq as possible. It was Keane who got Vice President Dick Cheney to push for Petraeus as top commander in Iraq in late 2006 when the existing commander, Gen. George W. Casey, did not support the troop surge.

It was Keane who protected Petraeus's interests in ensuring the maximum number of troops in Iraq against the efforts by other military leaders to accelerate troop withdrawal in 2007 and 2008. As Bob Woodward reported in "The War Within", Keane persuaded President George W. Bush to override the concerns of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the stress of prolonged U.S. occupation of Iraq on the U.S. Army and Marine Corps as well its impact on the worsening situation in Afghanistan.

Bush agreed in September 2007 to guarantee that Petraeus would have as many troops as he needed for as long as wanted, according to Woodward's account.

Keane had also prevailed on Gates in April 2008 to make Petraeus the new commander of CENTCOM. Keane argued that keeping Petraeus in the field was the best insurance against a Democratic administration reversing the Bush policy toward Iraq.

Keane had operated on the assumption that a Democratic president would probably not take the political risk of rejecting Petraeus's recommendation on the pace of troop withdrawal from Iraq. Woodward quotes Keane as telling Gates, "Let's assume we have a Democratic administration and they want to pull this thing out quickly, and now they have to deal with General Petraeus and General Odierno. There will be a price to be paid to override them."

Obama told Petraeus in Baghdad last July that, if elected, he would regard the overall health of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and the situation in Afghanistan as more important than Petraeus's obvious interest in maximising U.S. troop strength in Iraq, according to Time magazine's Joe Klein.

But judging from Petraeus's shock at Obama's Jan. 21 decision, he had not taken Obama's previous rejection of his arguments seriously. That miscalculation suggests that Petraeus had begun to accept Keane's assertion that a newly-elected Democratic president would not dare to override his policy recommendation on troops in Iraq.

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.
24095  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: February 10, 2009, 12:13:25 PM
A couple of major posts from David Gordon!

http://eutrapelia.blogspot.com/
24096  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: February 10, 2009, 11:46:09 AM
Well, tragically it certainly looks to be going that way.  The present system slandered as being free market, is actually bureaucratic madness.  We of free minds and free markets need to make the case.
====================
Scott Grannis

Stealth Healthcare in the stimulus bill
Tom Daschle didn't make it to the HHS post, thanks to being a tax cheat, but he has left us his legacy in the form of significant legislation buried in the new stimulus bill. Read all about it here if you haven't already. It boils down to creating a new national medical database that will keep track of everyone's medical records, so that eventually a National Coordinator of Health Information Technology can ration healthcare.

Any effort by the government to implement something like single-payer or universal healthcare will inevitably result in rationing and shortages. That's just simple economics: if people don't have to pay for their own health care, costs will rise, health care services will be in short supply, and the whole system will become inefficient. To wish it would happen otherwise is fanciful.

The urge to move us to universal healthcare is based on the belief that a modern, advanced society has an obligation to ensure that everyone receives healthcare treatment; it would be unconscionable to deny anyone treatment. Well, consider what would happen if we felt the same way about food: surely no one should be allowed to starve in this age of abundance ...

If the government paid for everyone's food, imagine the consequences. Filet mignon would fly off the shelves; home refrigerators would be stocked to capacity, spoiled food routinely chucked in the trash can; competition to produce better and cheaper products would become a quaint vestige of the past; hamburger meat would pile up; food quality would decline; complaints would skyrocket. It wouldn't take long before the government created an entire bureacracy to monitor and "regulate" prices. Any mistakes in setting prices would resort in shortages or abundancies. Sound familiar?

Call your Senator now and tell him to vote against this bill!
24097  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Michael Yon in Afghanistan on: February 10, 2009, 11:43:12 AM
The latest from Michael Yon.  Y'all may be interested to know that a couple of weeks ago his assistant here in the US has forwarded to MY some things from me.
=======================

How Much is Afghanistan Really Worth to Us?
  Next > 

10 February 2009

While we prepare to shunt perhaps 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan (which still will not be enough), Russia continues to play the Asian chessboard.  The Russians are picking off pawn after pawn, and steadily eroding our foreign policy influence with them and other Central Asian countries.  The Russians know that we need a land route through their country to Afghanistan, especially as we begin the slow process of increasing our combat presence.  The Pakistan land route is one Achilles' heel to our Afghanistan effort, and Russia is working hard to make sure that Russia is the other Achilles' heel, which will strengthen the Russian position on matters such as missile defense.  Russia, at the present rate, will eventually exercise considerable control over the spigot to Afghanistan.  The Russians are successfully wrestling us into a policy arm-lock.  While Russia takes American money and gains influence over our Afghan efforts, we will continue to spend lives and tens of billions of dollars per year on Afghanistan in an attempt to civilize what amounts to Jurassic Park.

We must start asking Russia, and others, who the true losers will be if we abandon Afghanistan and leave a resurgent Taliban to lap at their doorsteps.  I am not advocating that we abandon Afghanistan, but our own population and allies might grow weary during the long journey unfolding before us.  The direct threat to us derives far more from al Qaeda than the Taliban, and we can keep punching down al Qaeda for a lot less than it's costing to prosecute the Afghan war while abdicating significant influence to Russia.  Russia has much to worry about if NATO countries begin to abandon Afghanistan.

Some recent and unfolding examples: Russia allows transit of US military supplies

Russia is not a country given to a humanitarian spirit, and they do not cooperate on matters such as the International Space Station only for the sake of space exploration and science.  Russia can only be trusted to behave in ways that enhance Russian power and wealth.

Beyond the fact that we will need to dedicate decades or even a century to Afghanistan, no country in the neighborhood will cooperate except when it directly affects their own interests.  They will attempt to squeeze every dollar and concession from us as we help secure their neighborhoods, all while the present drug-dealing Afghan government is bucking like a mule while our government is preparing to pin a significant amount of our combat power in a landlocked country.

The sum of many factors leaves me with a bad feeling about all this.  The Iraq war, even during the worst times, never seemed like such a bog.  Yet there is something about our commitment in Afghanistan that feels wrong, as if a bear trap is hidden under the sand.

If I had not witnessed firsthand what our military accomplished in Iraq, I might think our efforts in Afghanistan are destined to fail.  But we are plainly succeeding in Iraq with the long, dark days well behind us.  Our military is proving far more capable of fighting in Afghanistan than any military in history.  The Soviets got crushed by the Mujahidin, with U.S. help.  The Taliban and associates, however, get stacked up every fighting season, though our casualties also continue to increase.  If I did not believe we could achieve success in Afghanistan, I would likely not go back.

As we enter a new fighting season in Afghanistan this year, we need to know that the President has our backs.  Not just that he is behind us, but that he is covering our six and ready to politically and economically pounce on those who hamper our efforts.  We need to know that the President is fully engaged in this fight, that he is there to win and for the long haul, that he listens and takes close counsel from our senior military, and that he has faith that we can make this process work.  But eight years from now, this thing will not be over.

We must also understand that Afghanistan is what it is. The military is acutely aware that Afghanistan is not Iraq.  The success we are seeing in Iraq is unlikely to suddenly occur in Afghanistan.  If we are to deal with moderate elements of the AOGs (armed opposition groups) we must do so from a position of strength, and this means killing a lot of them this year, to encourage the surviving “reconcilables” to be more reconcilable.

Predicting the trajectory of a war is fraught with peril, like predicting next season’s hurricanes.  Anything can happen, and often what changes the course of a war has little or nothing to do with the war.  For instance, a failing global economy, or supervention of some chain of events perhaps still unimagined could cause the Af-Pak war to become less relevant.  Caveats behind us, it seems that 2009 will see the sharpest fighting so far.  That much has been clear for some time, and 2009 is now within our headlights.  We can already resolve from the fog much of what is likely coming this year.  Imagining what is beyond the headlights, my guess is that 2010 might bring the sharpest fighting of the entire war.  My guess is that 2010-11 will likely be crucial years in this process, and that many allies will be making decisions during those years whether to stick it out or to punch out.  By the fall of 2010, we should be able to resolve whether our renewed efforts under President Obama are working or failing.

The Great Game continues, but it’s no game for the people who are fighting it.

24098  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AA Laser; Army suspends Bio weapons lab on: February 10, 2009, 11:31:36 AM
US military develops anti-aircraft laser

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

US military develops anti-aircraft laser

The latest weapon developed by US engineers is a Humvee jeep mounted with a giant laser capable of shooting down aircraft.

By Murray Wardrop
Last Updated: 1:41AM GMT 09 Feb 2009


The Laser Avenger successfully shot down a series of unmanned aerial vehicles during recent tests and is being hailed as a revolutionary weapon for future warfare. 

The experiment was the first time that a ground vehicle has used a laser to destroy moving aircraft and marks a watershed moment in the development of lasers for battlefield use.

Invented by Boeing, the laser is fitted to a Humvee off-road vehicle, allowing it to be moved into the most remote locations to shoot down enemy planes.

It is hoped that the Laser Avenger will be used to help US forces tackle small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which often carry explosives or surveillance equipment. Such devices are difficult for conventional air defence systems to shoot down.

The complex testing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, required the laser to track three UAVs against a backdrop of mountains and desert.  When the targets were sighted, the Laser Avenger successfully shot down three UAVs with its high-powered directed energy beam.

Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems, said: "Small UAVs armed with explosives or equipped with surveillance sensors are a growing threat on the battlefield.  Laser Avenger, unlike a conventional weapon, can fire its laser beam without creating missile exhaust or gun flashes that would reveal its position. As a result, Laser Avenger can neutralize these UAV threats while keeping our troops safe."

The test firing was observed by representatives of the US Army's Cruise Missile Defense Systems project office.

The experiment follows a previous test in 2007 of a prototype Laser Avenger which obliterated improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance on the ground. 

Lee Gutheinz, Boeing's program director for High-Energy Laser/Electro-Optical Systems, said: "We doubled the laser power; added sophisticated acquisition, tracking and pointing capability; and simplified the design.  Boeing developed and integrated these upgrades in less than a year, underscoring our ability to rapidly respond to war-fighters' needs."

The Laser Avenger is an infrared laser with power levels in the range of tens of kilowatts.  It is a modified version of an existing US Army air defence weapon that uses two Stinger missile launchers and a heavy machine gun, with one missile pod swapped for the laser and its target tracker.

Existing weapons struggle to shoot down small, light UAVs, which are often made of plastic rather than metal, because surface to air missiles designed to target normal-sized aircraft cannot lock onto them.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...aft-laser.html

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

NYT so caveat lector:

WASHINGTON — Army officials have suspended most research involving dangerous germs at the biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., which the F.B.I. has linked to the anthrax attacks of 2001, after discovering that some pathogens stored there were not listed in a laboratory database.

The suspension, which began Friday and could last three months, is intended to allow a complete inventory of hazardous bacteria, viruses and toxins stored in refrigerators, freezers and cabinets in the facility, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The inventory was ordered by the institute’s commander, Col. John P. Skvorak, after officials found that the database of specimens was incomplete. In a memorandum to employees last week, Colonel Skvorak said there was a high probability that some germs and toxins in storage were not in the database.

Rules for keeping track of pathogens were tightened after the 2001 anthrax letters, which killed five people. But pressure to improve recordkeeping and security at the Army institute intensified six months ago after the suicide of Bruce E. Ivins, a veteran anthrax researcher, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s announcement that prosecutors had been preparing to charge Dr. Ivins with making the deadly anthrax powder in his laboratory there.

A spokesman for the institute, Caree Vander Linden, said an earlier review had located all the germ samples listed in the database. But she said some “historical samples” in institute freezers were not in the database, and the new inventory was intended to identify them so they could be recorded and preserved, or destroyed if they no longer had scientific value.

One scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said samples from completed projects were not always destroyed, and departing scientists sometimes left behind vials whose contents were unknown to colleagues. He said the Army’s recordkeeping and security were imperfect but better than procedures at most universities, where research on biological pathogens has expanded rapidly since 2001.

The suspension will interrupt dozens of research projects at the institute, whose task is to develop vaccines, drugs and other measures to protect American troops from germ attacks and disease outbreaks. Ms. Vander Linden said some critical experiments involving animals — often used to test vaccines and drugs — would not be halted.

News of the suspension, first reported Monday by the Science magazine blog ScienceInsider, comes as the Justice Department has been interviewing scientists at the Army institute to prepare the government’s legal defense against a lawsuit filed by the family of Robert Stevens, the Florida tabloid photography editor who was the first to die in the 2001 letter attacks.

That lawsuit, filed in 2003 and delayed by the government’s unsuccessful efforts to have it dismissed, accuses officials of failing to assure that anthrax bacteria at Fort Detrick and other government laboratories were securely stored. Dr. Ivins was not suspected in the attacks at that time, but the F.B.I.’s conclusion last year added new weight to the lawsuit’s claims.

The F.B.I. has released evidence of Dr. Ivins’s mental problems and of a genetic link between the mailed anthrax and a supply of the bacteria in his laboratory. But many of Dr. Ivins’s former colleagues at the Army institute have said they are not convinced that he mailed the letters.

The F.B.I. has asked the National Academy of Sciences to convene a panel of experts to review its scientific work on the case, and the bureau and academy are completing a contract for the review, said an academy spokesman, William Kearney.

The anthrax case has underscored the threat of biological attack by biodefense insiders like Dr. Ivins, who have access to pathogens and the expertise to work with them.

The number of such researchers has grown rapidly since 2001, when the anthrax letters set off a spending boom on biodefense that led to a rapid addition of laboratories working on potential bioweapons, notably anthrax.

Before 2001, only a few dozen such facilities worked with anthrax. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has registered 219 laboratories to do so, said an agency spokesman, Von Roebuck. He said 10,474 people had been cleared to work with dangerous pathogens and toxins nationwide after background checks by the Justice Department.

24099  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / John Jay on: February 10, 2009, 09:30:09 AM
"This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a ban of brethren, united to each other by the strongest of ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties."

--John Jay, Federalist No. 2
24100  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taliban in Pakistan on: February 10, 2009, 09:26:54 AM
Its the NYT, so caveat lector:
=======================

WASHINGTON — Even as C.I.A. drone aircraft pound Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal region, there is growing concern among American military and intelligence officials about different militants’ havens in Pakistan that they fear could thwart American military efforts in Afghanistan this year.
 
American officials are increasingly focusing on the Pakistani city of Quetta, where Taliban leaders are believed to play a significant role in stirring violence in southern Afghanistan.

The Taliban operations in Quetta are different from operations in the mountainous tribal areas of Pakistan that have until now been the main setting for American unease. But as the United States prepares to pour as many as 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan, military and intelligence officials say the effort could be futile unless there is a concerted effort to kill or capture Taliban leaders in Quetta and cut the group’s supply lines into Afghanistan.

From Quetta, Taliban leaders including Mullah Muhammad Omar, a reclusive, one-eyed cleric, guide commanders in southern Afghanistan, raise money from wealthy Persian Gulf donors and deliver guns and fresh fighters to the battlefield, according to Obama administration and military officials.

“When their leadership is where you cannot get to them, it becomes difficult,” said Gen. Dan K. McNeill, who until June was the senior American commander in Afghanistan and recently retired. “You are restrained from doing what you want to do.”

The Taliban leaders have operated from Quetta for several years, but the increasing violence in southern Afghanistan suggests that the flow of arms, fighters and money there from the Pakistani sanctuary may be increasing.

Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province, abuts the provinces in southern Afghanistan where the war’s fiercest fighting has occurred. American intelligence officials said that the dozen or so militants who were thought to make up the Taliban leadership in the area were believed to be hiding either in sprawling Afghan refugee camps near Quetta or in some of the city’s Afghan neighborhoods.

American and other Western officials have long said they suspect that Pakistani security services do little to address the presence of senior Taliban commanders in Quetta. Many of the officials would speak only on condition of anonymity because of the delicate intelligence and diplomatic issues involved.

One former intelligence official with years of experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan likened the situation to America’s difficulties during the Vietnam War, when Vietnamese guerrillas used a haven in Cambodia to bring in fresh troops and weapons.

For the past year, the top American goal in Pakistan has been to press the national government in Islamabad for help elsewhere, in killing and capturing Qaeda fighters in the tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan, who intelligence analysts say pose a direct threat to the United States.

But NATO generals and diplomats have long complained that the command and control of Taliban fighters, distinct from Qaeda insurgents, trace back to southern Pakistan, and that Pakistani security services ignore the threat. Pakistani officials have said they lack good intelligence about the specific locations of Taliban leaders, assertions that some American intelligence operatives greet with some skepticism.

“We’ve made progress going into the tribal areas and North-West Frontier Province against Al Qaeda, but we have not had a counterpart war against the Quetta shura,” said a senior Obama administration official, using the term for the Taliban’s ruling council. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said the Obama administration will adopt a tough love approach to Pakistan: threatening to cut off military aid to Islamabad unless it carries out a crackdown on militants operating throughout the country.

“Pakistan will act against any individuals involved with Al Qaeda or the Taliban about whom we have actionable intelligence,” Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, said in an interview. “The problem is we do not always get actionable intelligence in Quetta in particular. It’s a very messy area.”

Some current and former American intelligence officials are sympathetic to difficulties that the government in Islamabad faces in rounding up Taliban leaders. Baluchistan has long been an area hostile to government control, and even Pakistani spies have difficulty building a network of sources there, they said.

Last week, gunmen in Quetta kidnapped an American working for the United Nations in the city and killed his driver, leading Pakistani security officials to lock down transit routes in and out of the city.

Aides to Richard C. Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American military commander in the region, said the issue of crippling the Taliban leadership was getting more attention from their bosses. Mr. Holbrooke is paying his first visit to the region this week in his new job.

The influence of the Taliban leadership over operations on the ground in Afghanistan is a matter of some debate among American commanders and intelligence analysts.

===========

e 2 of 2)



“The Quetta shura is extremely important,” said Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, a retired former commander of American forces in Afghanistan who is advising General Petraeus on a strategic review of his region, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. “They are the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of the Taliban insurgency.”

But Gen. David D. McKiernan, currently the top military commander in Afghanistan, said in a speech in Washington in November that any assessment that said the Quetta shura’s dictates were closely followed by field commanders “gives the Taliban far too much credit for coherency at the operational and strategic level.”

“They don’t have that,” the general added.

That may be true, intelligence analysts say, but few disagree that weakening the Taliban leadership in Pakistan, coupled with achieving battlefield gains with the larger American-led force on the ground in southern Afghanistan, could begin to reverse the adverse momentum in the war.

“It would remove the ideological standard-bearer, which also provides links to external financing in the gulf,” a senior administration official said. “It wouldn’t erase the rural-based insurgency and narcotics trade in Afghanistan, but the notion is, if you can disrupt them at the top levels, it will have an impact at the bottom, down in the provinces.”

Even more intriguing, American officials say, is this prospect: diminishing the Taliban leadership in Quetta and weakening its influence over Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan might open the way to engage more moderate Taliban politically.

“The challenge has always been to exploit some cleavages between the top leadership, which we’ve ruled out of bounds in terms of reconciliation, and the layers one or two layers beneath them,” said Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former South Asia specialist for the State Department.

In recent years, there have been some significant successes in the hunt for Taliban leaders. Pakistani operatives tracked Mullah Dadullah, a senior aide to Mullah Omar, as he crossed the Afghan border in May 2007, and he was later killed by American and Afghan troops.

Yet most of the arrests in Pakistan have coincided with visits by senior American officials.

The arrest of Mullah Obeidullah, the former Taliban defense minister, in Quetta in February 2007 coincided with the visit of Vice President Dick Cheney to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is unclear whether Mullah Obeidullah is still in Pakistani custody or was secretly released as part of a prisoner exchange to free Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, who was kidnapped last February and released three months later.

Mullah Rahim, the Taliban’s top commander in Helmand Province, was arrested in Quetta last summer two weeks after Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a top C.I.A. officer visited Islamabad to confront Pakistani leaders with evidence of ties between the country’s powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas. But an American intelligence official said last week that Mullah Rahim was no longer in custody.

“The dilemma at the moment,” said Seth Jones, a terrorism analyst at the RAND Corporation, “is that some elements of the Pakistani government continue to support the Taliban as a proxy organization in Afghanistan.”
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