Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Reagan: The Speech part 2
on: November 06, 2008, 11:35:30 AM
At the same time, can't we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provision for the non-earning years? Should we not allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn't you and I be allowed to declare who our beneficiaries will be under this program, which we cannot do? I think we're for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we're against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as was announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program is now bankrupt. They've come to the end of the road.
In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate, planned inflation, so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar's worth, and not 45 cents worth?
I think we're for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we're against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world's population. I think we're against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in the Soviet colonies in the satellite nations.
I think we're for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we're against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We're helping 107. We've spent 146 billion dollars. With that money, we bought a 2 million dollar yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenya[n] government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought 7 billion dollars worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country.
No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments' programs, once launched, never disappear.
Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth.
Federal employees -- federal employees number two and a half million; and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation's work force employed by government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man's property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury? And they can seize and sell his property at auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier over-planted his rice allotment. The government obtained a 17,000 dollar judgment. And a U.S. marshal sold his 960-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work.
Last February 19th at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-times candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, "If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States." I think that's exactly what he will do.
But as a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn't the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration, because back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his Party was taking the Party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his Party, and he never returned til the day he died -- because to this day, the leadership of that Party has been taking that Party, that honorable Party, down the road in the image of the labor Socialist Party of England.
Now it doesn't require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the -- or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.
Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men -- that we're to choose just between two personalities.
Well what of this man that they would destroy -- and in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear? Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well I've been privileged to know him "when." I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I've never known a man in my life I believed so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing.
This is a man who, in his own business before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent monthly checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn't work. He provides nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by the floods in the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there.
An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas. And he said that [there were] a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. And then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, "Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such," and they went down there, and there was a fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in those weeks before Christmas, all day long, he'd load up the plane, fly it to Arizona, fly them to their homes, fly back over to get another load.
During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, "There aren't many left who care what happens to her. I'd like her to know I care." This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, "There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start." This is not a man who could carelessly send other people's sons to war. And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all the other problems I've discussed academic, unless we realize we're in a war that must be won.
Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy "accommodation." And they say if we'll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he'll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer -- not an easy answer -- but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right.
We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, "Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we're willing to make a deal with your slave masters." Alexander Hamilton said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." Now let's set the record straight. There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace -- and you can have it in the next second -- surrender.
Admittedly, there's a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face -- that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand -- the ultimatum. And what then -- when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we're retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he's heard voices pleading for "peace at any price" or "better Red than dead," or as one commentator put it, he'd rather "live on his knees than die on his feet." And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don't speak for the rest of us.
You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin -- just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it's a simple answer after all.
You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." "There is a point beyond which they must not advance." And this -- this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said, "The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we're spirits -- not animals." And he said, "There's something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty."
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
We'll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.
Thank you very much.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers:
on: November 06, 2008, 11:34:32 AM
Program Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, we take pride in presenting a thoughtful address by Ronald Reagan. Mr. Reagan:
Reagan: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn't been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own words and discuss my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks.
I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used, "We've never had it so good."
But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn't something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents out of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector's share, and yet our government continues to spend 17 million dollars a day more than the government takes in. We haven't balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We've raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations of the world. We have 15 billion dollars in gold in our treasury; we don't own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are 27.3 billion dollars. And we've just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value.
As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We're at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it's been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well I think it's time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.
Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.
And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man.
This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down: [up] man's old -- old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the "Great Society," or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they've been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, "The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism." Another voice says, "The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state." Or, "Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century." Senator Fulbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as "our moral teacher and our leader," and he says he is "hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document." He must "be freed," so that he "can do for us" what he knows "is best." And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government."
Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as "the masses." This is a term we haven't applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, "the full power of centralized government" -- this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.
Now, we have no better example of this than government's involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85% of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21% increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming -- that's regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we've spent 43 dollars in the feed grain program for every dollar bushel of corn we don't grow.
Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater, as President, would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he'll find out that we've had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He'll also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress [an] extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He'll find that they've also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn't keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil.
At the same time, there's been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There's now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can't tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore.
Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but how -- who are farmers to know what's best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down.
Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights [are] so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes from the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a "more compatible use of the land." The President tells us he's now going to start building public housing units in the thousands, where heretofore we've only built them in the hundreds. But FHA [Federal Housing Authority] and the Veterans Administration tell us they have 120,000 housing units they've taken back through mortgage foreclosure. For three decades, we've sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency.
They've just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over 30 million dollars on deposit in personal savings in their banks. And when the government tells you you're depressed, lie down and be depressed.
We have so many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer -- and they've had almost 30 years of it -- shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing?
But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we're told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year. Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We're spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you'll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among those 9 million poor families, we'd be able to give each family 4,600 dollars a year. And this added to their present income should eliminate poverty. Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running only about 600 dollars per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.
Now -- so now we declare "war on poverty," or "You, too, can be a Bobby Baker." Now do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add 1 billion dollars to the 45 billion we're spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have -- and remember, this new program doesn't replace any, it just duplicates existing programs -- do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain there is one part of the new program that isn't duplicated. This is the youth feature. We're now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps [Civilian Conservation Corps], and we're going to put our young people in these camps. But again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we're going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person we help 4,700 dollars a year. We can send them to Harvard for 2,700! Course, don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency.
But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who'd come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning 250 dollars a month. She wanted a divorce to get an 80 dollar raise. She's eligible for 330 dollars a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who'd already done that very thing.
Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we're always "against" things -- we're never "for" anything.
Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.
Now -- we're for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we've accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem.
But we're against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They've called it "insurance" to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term "insurance" to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they're doing just that.
A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary -- his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he's 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can't put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they're due -- that the cupboard isn't bare?
Barry Goldwater thinks we can.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: November 06, 2008, 11:02:28 AM
Well, isn't the idea and fact of a search warrant rather important in our Constitutional scheme of things?!?
Again I ask the question: Are you OK with what my two posts describe or is there something there that goes too far, even for you?
If so, what is it?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: November 06, 2008, 10:48:04 AM
"but if he was like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton you still think he would have won? Hell no!"
Umm, , , as I see it, that is not the point. The comparison is not with obvious race baiting scum bag professional negroes like those two, the point is whether a glib white candidate with his de minimis qualifications and history of scuzzy associations (Frank Davis Marshal, Ayres & Dorn, the whacko preacher, ACORN, the CAIR connection to his getting into Harvard, not keeping track of the nationality of hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, etc, etc etc) would have gotten the same blind eye treatment and overwhelming support that BO did.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More Central Asian Energy under the Kremlin's Thumb
on: November 06, 2008, 10:11:35 AM
Russia: More Central Asian Energy Under the Kremlin's Thumb
Stratfor Today » November 5, 2008 | 1950 GMT
ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) and Kazakh President Nursultan NazarbayevSummary
Russia increased its share in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) to 31 percent after buying a 7 percent stake from Oman, Russian daily Kommersant reported Nov. 5. The Kremlin has now reached its objective in controlling a key east-west oil pipeline in Central Asia, giving Russia even greater leverage in tampering with Caspian crude exports to the West in accordance with the Russian geopolitical agenda. With CPC under its belt, Moscow’s eyes will now turn to the only remaining Central Asian pipeline outside its control: the Kazakhstan-China pipeline.
The Russian government bought a 7 percent stake in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) from Oman, raising its share in the project to 31 percent, Russian daily Kommersant reported Nov. 5, citing sources from Russia’s Transneft, which operates the CPC. The deal is believed to have been struck during an Oct. 30 meeting between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kommersant sources claim that Russia bought the stake from Oman for around $350 million — about half the starting price that Hungarian energy group MOL had offered. The hefty discount that Russia apparently got on this deal was in all likelihood thanks to a number of political and energy levers Moscow used to gain the approval of Nazarbayev and the other consortium members.
Related Special Topic Pages
Russian Energy and Foreign Policy
Central Asian Energy: Circumventing Russia
Russia’s acquisition of the Omani stake in CPC is no ordinary business deal. The negotiations with Oman over this stake were rooted in Russia’s core geopolitical interest in monopolizing Kazakhstan’s export routes and bullying Astana’s energy clients, in yet another move to consolidate Russia’s control in its Central Asian periphery. The 935-mile CPC pipeline runs from the Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, carrying around 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil from the Caspian Sea region across the Caucasus to the global crude market. There are plans for the pipeline’s capacity to be expanded to 1.3 million bpd by 2010.
The CPC pipeline has been a challenge for the Russians since it was first commissioned in 2001. Prior to the deal with Oman, the consortium was run by three governments (Russia, Kazakhstan and Oman) and 10 companies representing seven countries, including U.S. energy giant Chevron.
The Russians previously tried a number of heavy-handed tactics to cripple the consortium so they could then swoop in and take full possession of the largely U.S.-funded and privately owned pipeline. Those tactics included having Transneft try to drive the consortium into bankruptcy by charging millions of dollars in transit fees and back taxes, halting Russian crude shipments to the pipeline and delaying the CPC’s expansion plans for years.
All these moves backfired, however, and pushed Astana closer to entertaining energy deals with the West and especially the Chinese, who have long been yearning to get a strong energy foothold in Central Asia. The more Russia bullied, the less Kazakhstan felt compelled to maintain a commitment to Soviet-era pipelines and railroads to ship its crude, and the more interested it became in trying to strike a balance among Russia, China and the West.
Though Kazakhstan has notably increased its energy independence in recent years, it still has not been able to break free from Moscow, particularly when it has much to fear from the Russian Federal Security Service’s strong presence in the country. Now that Oman and Russia have struck this deal over CPC, Russia has a lot more leverage in influencing how Astana manages its future energy relations.
Russia previously held a 24 percent stake in the consortium, which was not enough for the Kremlin to use the pipeline as a tool in its foreign policy arsenal. According to Russian law, a stake of at least 25 percent is required to veto management decisions of any company or consortium. Now that it holds a 31 percent stake, the Kremlin can control the CPC’s actions and block any decisions made by the consortium that go against Russian interests. This means Russia can raise transit fees and block crude shipments at will in accordance with its political preference while consolidating control over Western-extracted oil from Kazakh oilfields.
In addition, Russia now has more leverage over Russian oil producers who have opted to load more of their crude into the CPC pipeline as opposed to the Atyrau-Samara pipeline, which is linked to Russia’s state-owned oil transport monopoly Transneft to save on transit fees. Transneft will be much relieved to see Russia gain a bigger chunk of the CPC, and thus more control over the pipeline’s pricing to direct which way Kazakh crude will flow.
With the CPC locked down, Russia will now be freed up to target the last remaining Central Asian pipeline that has escaped the Kremlin’s grip: the Kazakhstan-China pipeline. China has watched carefully as Kazakh-Russian ties have eroded since the fall of the Soviet Union. Planning its moves into Central Asia carefully, China has built up a strong relationship with Astana and has signed a series of deals to fund new roads, railroads, and oil extraction and production. Most importantly, energy-hungry China is in the process of building a 200,000 bpd pipeline that runs across the entire width of Kazakhstan, and it also plans to construct a natural gas pipeline from Kazakhstan to Turkmenistan.
The last thing Russia wants to see is some 2 million bpd of crude and 70 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year diverted away from Russian-controlled energy networks. Not only would such an outcome deal a heavy blow to the Russian economy, it would also constrain Russia in supplying European energy contracts — an area key to Russia’s ability to bully Europe on political matters — and seriously undermine Russia’s influence in Central Asia.
The Chinese, therefore, have much to be concerned about. They can expect to be hit with all the usual Russian pressure tactics, including delays on construction, monopolizing consortiums and pressure on Astana to hike expenses. Many of these tactics are already in play, but the geopolitical balance is now tilting more strongly in Moscow’s favor. With the CPC deal, Russia has taken care of a huge obstacle in monopolizing Kazakhstan’s energy export options to the West. Russia’s attention can now be expected to turn eastward to China’s energy networks in Central Asia.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Your phone is watching you
on: November 06, 2008, 08:27:21 AM
Or how about this?http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n16/soar01_.html
For a moment in the late 1990s, it looked as though mobile phones might make us free. You could work in the park, be available when you wanted to be, choose who you answered to. You could be anywhere while you did anything. If location was mentioned it was gratuitous chatter (‘I’m on the train!’) or a handy lie (‘I’m in the office’). Back then, a phone in your pocket was an expensive novelty. Ten years later, there are 3.3 billion active mobile phones, meaning that – if you ignore the show-offs who have several – half the planet has one; 85 per cent of the million new subscriptions taken up each day come from the developing world. Three billion people are just a few button presses away, and where they are doesn’t matter. But if you’re the retiring type, the trouble is that the phone companies and interested others do know exactly where you are, at any given second, so long as you have your handbag with you and your phone switched on: even the most basic technology, phone mast triangulation, locates you to within a couple of hundred metres; newer phones, with GPS built in, will tell any system that asks whether you’re in the kitchen or the loo.
You might assume that this information is either of interest to no one or, at the very least, protected by privacy laws and accessible only by the agencies that hunt suicide bombers and paedophiles. But you’d be wrong. Anyone can, for instance, sign up – at £29.99 a year – to mapAmobile.com (‘you’ll always know where your loved ones are’), which allows you to follow the movements of your ‘family and friends’ on a computer screen. The safeguard, from your friend’s point of view, is that he has to consent to being tracked, a process which involves his replying to a text message alerting him to the request; this shouldn’t be much of a hindrance to you as would-be stalker if he happens to leave his phone lying around. That this sort of enterprising solution is possible is the result of the major networks – in the UK, Vodafone, Orange, O2 and T-Mobile – having decided, in around 2002, to sell their location data to any company willing to pay for it.
Such services are obscure, and barely legal, but it’s about to be brought home to the majority of mobile users that what they’re up to isn’t private information. Owners of the latest version of Apple’s iPhone – avidly queued for at stores around the world last month – can now download an application that displays a friend’s location as a bright green dot on a map. In 2009, phones running Google’s Android operating system will be able to show you in pictures how to reach that green dot while avoiding traffic snarl-ups and stray hurricanes; they’ll also tell you how much a drink will cost when you get there. Along the way you might have to dodge a virtual attack from a passing stranger who, like you, has signed up to an urban espionage ‘immersive game’ and has pegged you in the street as a target. If all this sounds like unnecessary gimmickry, and you’re perfectly happy with your phone the way it is, or would be if only you knew how to make it ring like a phone rather than a wheezing horse or a three-dimensional aural representation of the rings of Saturn, then you’re out of luck: the information your phone provides is out there anyway. It doesn’t belong to you, and anyone with the required resources can do with it what they will.
At a very rough estimate half a trillion calls are made each day on the world’s mobile networks: their origin and destination, their time and duration and all identifying codes are logged on telecom provider hard-drives and generally retained, under emerging legislation, for up to two years. It’s impossible to exaggerate the value of these data. In most countries no one can listen in to your conversation – though it’s technically trivial to do – without a warrant, but given what most of us talk about most of the time what we actually say when we’re on the phone may be the least interesting thing about the call. Certainly this is the view of the growing Intelligence Support Systems industry (ISS), which sells analysis tools to government agencies, police forces and – increasingly – the phone companies themselves. Take the case of ThorpeGlen, a company headquartered in a business park outside Ipswich that also hosts research divisions of BT and Nokia Siemens Networks. At the frequent ISS conferences – Dubai, Qatar, Washington, Prague – one of the key topics of discussion tends to be how to identify targets for LI (that’s ‘lawful intercept’) in the first place: it’s a cinch to bug someone, but how do you help a law enforcement agency decide who to bug?
To help answer that question, companies like ThorpeGlen (and VASTech and Kommlabs and Aqsacom) sell systems that carry out ‘passive probing’, analysing vast quantities of communications data to detect subjects of potential interest to security services, thereby doing their expensive legwork for them. ThorpeGlen’s VP of sales and marketing showed off one of these tools in a ‘Webinar’ broadcast to the ISS community on 13 May. He used as an example the data from ‘a mobile network we have access to’ – since he chose not to obscure the numbers we know it’s Indonesia-based – and explained that calls from the entire network of 50 million subscribers had been processed, over a period of two weeks, to produce a database of eight billion or so ‘events’. Everyone on a network, he said, is part of a group; most groups talk to other groups, creating a spider’s web of interactions. Of the 50 million subscribers ThorpeGlen processed, 48 million effectively belonged to ‘one large group’: they called one another, or their friends called friends of their friends; this set of people was dismissed. A further 400,000 subscriptions could be attributed to a few large ‘nodes’, with numbers belonging to call centres, shops and information services. The remaining groups ranged in size from two to 142 subscribers. Members of these groups only ever called each other – clear evidence of antisocial behaviour – and, in one extreme case, a group was identified in which all the subscribers only ever called a single number at the centre of the web. This section of the ThorpeGlen presentation ended with one word: ‘WHY??’
Once you’ve found your terrorist, how do you know that he won’t, say, pass on his phone, or get a new number or use a throwaway pay-as-you-go handset (as British Olympic officals were advised to do by MI6 in an attempt to evade Chinese spies)? ThorpeGlen has a solution for that too. It also sells ‘profiling’ systems, which measure the behaviour pattern of an individual subscriber and, using statistical analysis, determine whether that same pattern is now appearing from another source. In other words, if your terrorist gets a new phone you’ll still know it’s him. If he keeps the same phone and starts changing his pattern, then he’s about to blow up Jakarta International Airport. This is important stuff. If you want to see how ThorpeGlen’s systems work for yourself, just log on to https://220.127.116.11:58443;
all you need to do is figure out a username and password. Who isn’t a spy now?
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / AELE
on: November 06, 2008, 08:13:06 AM
You are welcome to forward this e-mail; please encourage your colleagues to sign up for periodic mailings at http://www.aele.org/e-signup.html
1. The November 2008 issue of the AELE Monthly Law Journal is online, with three new articles:
* Police Civil Liability
Civil Liability for the Use of Handcuffs
Part II - Use of Force Against Handcuffed Persons
Part two discusses cases where force was used on a handcuffed prisoner. http://www.aele.org/law/2008-11MLJ101.html
* Discipline and Employment Law
Officers and firefighters who are on-call must wear a pager or mobile phone, and may be required to report for duty, fully sober, in less than an hour. Is that compensable duty time? http://www.aele.org/law/2008-11MLJ201.html
* Corrections Law
Staff Use of Force Against Prisoners
Part III: Use of Chemical Weapons
Courts have generally upheld the use of chemical weapons in prison riot or disturbance circumstances, but have also clearly indicated that some uses can lead to liability. http://www.aele.org/law/2008-11MLJ301.html
2. The November 2008 issues of AELE's three periodicals have been uploaded. The current issues, back issues since 2000 and three 30+ year case summaries are FREE. Everyone is welcome to read, print or download AELE publications without charge.
The main menu is at: http://www.aele.org/law
Take advantage of our free search engine. The database is more than 25,000 case summaries in police liability, jail & prison legal issues, and discipline & employment law.
Among 100+ different cases noted in this month's periodicals, several that warrant mention:
*** Law Enforcement Liability Reporter ***
Federal appeals court upholds multiple uses of Taser against a handcuffed motorist who refused to comply with instructions to stand up and walk to an officer's car. Buckley v. Haddock, #07-10988, 2008 WL 4140297, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 19482 (Unpub. 11th Cir.). http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/unpub/ops/200710988.pdf
A police officer's decision to fatally shoot a man threatening grocery store clerks with a knife was reasonable.
The officers attempted to use non-lethal force to subdue him, but he continued to resist. Gregory v. Zumult, #07-1282, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 20551 (Unpub. 4th Cir.). http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinion.pdf/071282.U.pdf
*** Fire and Police Personnel Reporter ***
* Hairstyle Regulations
The New Jersey Dept. of Corrections' training academy's no-facial hair policy was neutral and only incidentally burdened religion. It was rationally related to compliance with federal and state health regulations concerning the use of respirator masks and a concern about the esprit de corps, which comes from uniformity of appearance.
Management did not violate the rights of a Muslim trainee who was removed from the training program when he failed, on three separate occasions, to keep his beard within parameters that were allowed to him as an accommodation of his religion. Valdes v. New Jersey, #07-2971, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 17380 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.). http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/072971np.pdf
* Retaliatory Personnel Action
Seventh Circuit rejects an action brought by a jailer who claimed that she was fired in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment complaint. She unlawfully tape-recorded her meeting with her superiors. "Title VII does not grant employees license to engage in dubious self-help activities to obtain evidence." Argyropoulos v. City of Alton, #07-1903, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 18330 (7th Cir.). http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/7th/071903p.pdf
*** Jail and Prisoner Law Bulletin ***
The record failed to show how a prison's limit of ten books in a prisoner's cell furthered safety and security interests. The appeals court ordered further proceedings on the prisoner's lawsuit, challenging the removal of 57 books, including the Koran. Warren v. Pennsylvania, #07-3011, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 17395 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.). http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/073011np.pdf
* Strip Searches: Inmates
Pre-trial detainees, who were subjected to strip searches as part of the process before being placed into the general jail population, did not suffer a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, despite the lack of an individualized finding of reasonable suspicion that each of them was concealing weapons, drugs, or other contraband.
The appeals court observed that the U.S. Supreme Court has never imposed such a requirement for strip-searching arrestees bound for the general jail population. Powell v. Barrett, #0516734, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 18907 (11th Cir.). http://caselaw.findlaw.com/data2/circs/11th/0516734pv1.pdf
3. *** Interrogation ***
In a 21-page document, the Defense Dept. revised its policy on intelligence interrogations, detainee debriefings and tactical questioning. DoD Directive 3115.09 (9 Oct. 2008). Among other things, it limits the role of psychologists advising interrogators. "Behavioral science consultants may not be used to determine detainee phobias for the purpose of exploitation during the interrogation process."http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/d3115_09.pdf
4. *** Articles in other publications ***
* Dept. of Justice - C.O.P.S.
"Combat Deployment and the Returning Police Officer" http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/ResourceDetail.aspx?RID=471
* FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Aug. 2008.
"Speech and the Public Employee" http://www.fbi.gov/filelink.html?file=/publications/leb/2008/august08leb.pdf
* Police Chief, Aug. 2008
"When Does an Employer's Search of Employee Work Areas Violate Privacy Rights?" http://policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=1568&issue_id=82008
Conducting research? Learn how to navigate AELE's online library of 26,000+ case digests and 300+ periodicals. http://www.aele.org/navigate.pdf
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Globalizacion
on: November 06, 2008, 07:03:39 AM
Qué es la Globalización....??
El mejor ejemplo lo tenemos en el caso de la Princesa Diana
Una princesa británica con un novio egipcio, que usa un
celular sueco, que choca en un túnel francés a bordo de un auto alemán
con motor holandés, manejado por un conductor belga que se empedó con whisky escocés.
A ellos les seguía de cerca un paparazzi italiano en una
motocicleta japonesa, que tomaba fotos con una cámara taiwanesa para una revista española.
Ella fue intervenida por un médico ruso y un asistente filipino que utilizaron medicinas brasileñas...
Este artículo fue traducido del inglés por un colombiano, y ahora lo está leyendo un huevón estadounidense que no tiene nada que hacer, para lo cual, usa una computadora americana ensamblada en México. ¿Qué tal?
¿Queda claro que es GLOBALIZACIÓN?
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Force Science News
on: November 06, 2008, 06:51:07 AM
New study ranks risks of injury from 5 major force options
How would you rank the relative risk for officers and suspects suffering injury from these 5 force options:
• Empty-hand control techniques
• OC spray
• Conducted energy weapons (Tasers)
• Lateral vascular neck restraint.
If you judged OC to be the ³safest² and baton to be ³most injurious² to both officers and offenders, you¹re in agreement with the findings of a new study of force encounters involving officers on a major municipal department.
The study, the first of its kind in Canada, was conducted by S/Sgt. Chris Butler of the Calgary (Alberta) Police Service and Dr. Christine Hall of the Canadian Police Research Center.
They analyzed 562 use-of-force events that occurred across a recent 2-year period as officers effected the arrests of resistant subjects in Calgary, a city of more than 1 million population. The threatened or actual use of firearms were omitted from the review, as were handcuffing, low-level pain compliance techniques like joint locks and pressure points, K-9s, and tactical responses such as chemical agents, flashbangs and less-lethal projectiles.
Here¹s what they discovered:
• OC, used in roughly 5% of force-involved arrests, produced the lowest rate of injury. More than 80% of sprayed subjects sustained no injury whatever. About 15% had only minor injuries (³visible injuries of a trifling nature which did not require medical treatment²) and some 4% had what the researchers termed ³minor outpatient² injuries (some medical treatment required but not hospitalization). No cases resulted in hospitalization or were fatal.
Officers involved in OC use fared even better. They suffered no injury in nearly 89% of cases and only minor damage the rest of the time.
The pepper spray involved was Sabre Red, with 10% oleoresin capsicum.
• Batons, deployed in 5.5% of force-involved arrests, caused the greatest rate of higher-level injury. Fewer than 39% of subjects receiving baton contact remained uninjured. More than 3% were hospitalized and nearly 26% required outpatient treatment, combining to be ³most injurious,² according to the researchers. About 32% of batoned subjects sustained minor injuries requiring no treatment.
Of officers involved in baton incidents, nearly 13% required outpatient treatment. Some 16% sustained minor injury and the rest were uninjured.
In Calgary, the baton used is the Monadnock Autolock expandable with power safety tip.
• Empty-hand controls, applied in 38.5% of the force events, also ranked high for more serious injuries. For purposes of the study, physical controls included ³nerve motor point striking and stunning techniques, grounding techniques such as arm-bar takedowns, and other balance displacement methods.²
Nearly 14% of these subjects required outpatient medical care and about 4% had to be hospitalized. Almost 50% had minor injuries and about 33% remained uninjured.
Among officers, 1% required hospitalization and 4.5% needed outpatient aid. The vast majority (77.8%) were uninjured and nearly 17% had minor injuries.
Judging from these findings, the researchers conclude, agencies need ³to seek out alternatives to hands-on physical control tactics and the baton if they wish to reduce the frequency and seriousness of citizen and police officer injuries.²
• The second safest force mode for suspects proved to be the lateral vascular neck restraint. Used in 3% of force-related arrests, the LVNR left more than half (52.9%) of offenders uninjured. About 41% sustained minor injuries and less than 6% required minor outpatient treatment. There were no hospitalizations and no fatalities.
Officers applying a LVNR remained uninjured more than 76% of the time and those who were hurt suffered only minor injuries.
• Conducted energy weapons also scored high in safety for both suspects and officers. The Taser X26, the CEW issued to Calgary officers, was the most frequently deployed of the 5 force options studied, being used against nearly half (48.2%) of resistant arrestees. About 1% ended up hospitalized, about 12% needed minor outpatient treatment and more than 42% had only minor injuries. Nearly 45% sustained no injuries and there were 0 fatalities.
Of officers using Tasers, about 83% were uninjured and about 13% sustained minor injuries. Only about 2% and 1% required outpatient medical attention or hospitalization respectively.
³The commonly held belief² that CEWs carry ³a significant risk of injury or deathŠis not supported by the data.² Indeed, they are ³less injurious than either the baton or empty-hand physical control,² which often would be alternative options where electronic weapons were not available.
In a 14-page report of their study, Butler and Hall point out that ³[N]o use of force technique available to police officers can be considered Œsafe¹ ² in the dictionary sense that it is free from harm or secure from threat of danger. ³[E]very use of force encounter between the police and a citizen carries with it the possibility for injury for one or all of the participants, however unexpected that injury might be.²
The best that can be hoped for is an appropriate, proportional balance between ³the degree of risk of harm² and the ³resistance faced by police² that requires the use of force.
The public has been fed ³a large amount ofŠincomplete or incorrect information and even intentional artifice² about some force options, the researchers charge. Their study, they say, may help eliminate the resulting confusion. Plus, knowing the level of injury likely to result from a given force method can aid trainers and administrators in developing ³sound policies and practices.²
³This study is a great snapshot about force and its associated injuries and is a valuable addition to the discussion of force issues in Canada and elsewhere,² says Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato.
³Hopefully, the researchers will now be encouraged to probe further into some of the issues they touched on, exploring in greater depth the decision-making that led officers to apply various types of force, the level of emotional and physical intensity generated by subjects receiving the force, the causes of injuries to both officers and subjects, and so on. There is still much to be learned in these areas.²
As part of their study, Hall and Butler compiled statistics on the broad overview of force encounters among Calgary officers, which closely mirror findings regarding U.S. law enforcement.
• Out of more than 827,000 police-public interactions, the 562 instances which ended up involving use of force represented less than 1% (.07%) of the total. (Other studies have pegged that figure in the U.S. at 1.5%.)
• Arrests occurred in only 4.6% of police-public interactions, and 98.5% of the time the arrests were finessed without force.
• Roughly 88% of all subjects requiring force were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol or ³some degree of emotional illness.² Almost 94% of resistant offenders requiring force were male.
• The researchers found ³a notable pattern of relationshipŠbetween the number of officers present and the frequency and nature of injuries sustained by both citizens and officers.² Namely: ³[M]ore injuries occurred in circumstances where only one officer was present.²
The researchers state bluntly that ³biased reporting of events has led the lay-public to have the impression that the police use of force is frequent when compared to the overall number of police and public interactions.²
They mentioned also a bias that results in ³extensive media coverage of events where subjects have died² after use of a CEW and a ³lack of publication of CEW uses without an adverse outcome.²
Such skewed reporting ³prevents the publicŠfrom forming an informed opinion about the actual risk presented² by various force modalities, they stated.
The study¹s official jaw-breaking title is: ³Public-Police Interaction and Its Relation to Arrest and Use of Force by Police and Resulting Injuries to Subjects and Officers; a Description of Risk in One Major Canadian Urban City.² It is expected to be posted online in mid- to late-August by the Canadian Police Research Center at www.cprc.org
S/Sgt. Butler can be reached at email@example.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues
on: November 06, 2008, 06:26:35 AM
Would you be OK with this for the US?
Internet black boxes to record every email and website visit
Internet "black boxes" could be used to record every email and website visit made by computer users in Britain, it has been reported.
By Graham Tibbetts
Last Updated: 12:24AM GMT 06 Nov 2008
Under Government plans to monitor internet traffic, raw data would be collected and stored by the black boxes before being transferred to a giant central database.
The vision was outlined at a meeting between officials from the Home Office and Internet Service Providers earlier this week.
It is further evidence of the Government's desire to have the capability to vet every telephone call, email and internet visit made in the UK, which has already provoked an outcry.
Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, has described it as a "step too far".
The proposal is expected to be put out to consultation as part of the new Communications Data Bill early next year.
At Monday's meeting in London representatives from BT, AOL Europe, O2 and BSkyB were given a presentation of the issues and the technology surrounding the Government's Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP), the name given by the Home Office to the database proposal.
They were told that the security and intelligence agencies wanted to use the stored data to help fight serious crime and terrorism.
Officials tried to reassure the industry by suggesting that many smaller ISPs would be unaffected by the "black boxes" as these would be installed upstream on the network and hinted that all costs would be met by the Government.
One delegate at the meeting told the Independent: "They said they only wanted to return to a position they were in before the emergence of internet communication, when they were able to monitor all correspondence with a police suspect. The difference here is they will be in a much better position to spy on many more people on the basis of their internet behaviour. Also there's a grey area between what is content and what is traffic. Is what is said in a chat room content or just traffic?"
Ministers have said plans for the database have not been confirmed, and that it is not their intention to introduce monitoring or storage equipment that will check or hold the content of emails or phonecalls on the traffic.
A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We are public about the IMP, but we are still working out the detail. There will a consultation on the Communications Data Bill early next year."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread
on: November 06, 2008, 06:11:49 AM
Barack Obama may have helped California Proposition 8 gay marriage ban pass
Gay marriage will be banned in California after voters turning out to back Barack Obama gave their assent to a motion known as Proposition 8.
By Matthew Moore
Last Updated: 6:47AM GMT 06 Nov 2008
Around 70 per cent of the African-American voters who overwhelmingly backed Mr Obama also approved Proposition 8, helping pass the controversial ballot measure despite a small majority of whites voting against the ban on same-sex unions. Hispanic and Asian voters were split on the issue.
The state's black turnout jumped to 10 per cent of the electorate, up from 6 per cent in 2004, as voters inspired by Mr Obama flocked to the polls for the first time. The Democratic candidate took the state with 61 per cent of the popular vote.
Although the president-elect opposed the gay marriage ban, it appears his supporters may have helped pass the measure that was vociferously opposed by many white Democrats.
The news is a blow to gay rights campaigners, who had hoped California would be the vanguard for the legalisation of same-sex marriage across the US. More than 18,000 homosexual couples have wed in the state since its supreme court allowed gay marriages earlier this year. The status of those unions is now in doubt.
On the day that Mr Obama swept to power, voters handed a number of defeats to gay campaigners.
Amendments to ban gay marriage were also approved in Arizona and Florida, and Arkansas voters approved a measure banning unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents
But gay rights campaigners, who spend tens of millions of dollars fighting to oppose Proposition 8, have vowed not to admit to defeat. A petition to dismiss the measure on the grounds that decision of such importance should be taken by state legislatures rather than voters has already been filed to the Supreme Court.
"We pick ourselves up and trudge on," said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "There has been enormous movement in favour of full equality in eight short years. That is the direction this is heading, and if it's not today or it's not tomorrow, it will be soon."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Drug Traces in Tap Water
on: November 06, 2008, 05:26:40 AM
Drug Traces Common in Tap Water
Drug Traces Common in Tap Water
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: March 10, 2008 Filed at 9:18 a.m. ET
A vast array of pharmaceuticals -- including antibiotics, anti-convulsants,
mood stabilizers and sex hormones -- have been found in the drinking water
supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation
To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured
in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a
medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.
But the presence of so many prescription drugs -- and over-the-counter
medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen -- in so much of our drinking
water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to
In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have
been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan
areas -- from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to
Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless
pressed, the AP found. For example, the head of a group representing major
California suppliers said the public ''doesn't know how to interpret the
information'' and might be unduly alarmed.
How do the drugs get into the water?
People take pills. Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but the rest
of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is
treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. Then, some
of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped
to consumers. But most treatments do not remove all drug residue.
And while researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of
persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals,
recent studies -- which have gone virtually unnoticed by the general
public -- have found alarming effects on human cells and wildlife.
''We recognize it is a growing concern and we're taking it very seriously,''
said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.
Members of the AP National Investigative Team reviewed hundreds of
scientific reports, analyzed federal drinking water databases, visited
environmental study sites and treatment plants and interviewed more than 230
officials, academics and scientists. They also surveyed the nation's 50
largest cities and a dozen other major water providers, as well as smaller
community water providers in all 50 states.
Here are some of the key test results obtained by the AP:
--Officials in Philadelphia said testing there discovered 56 pharmaceuticals
or byproducts in treated drinking water, including medicines for pain,
infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart
problems. Sixty-three pharmaceuticals or byproducts were found in the city's
--Anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications were detected in a portion of
the treated drinking water for 18.5 million people in Southern California.
--Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed a Passaic Valley Water
Commission drinking water treatment plant, which serves 850,000 people in
Northern New Jersey, and found a metabolized angina medicine and the
mood-stabilizing carbamazepine in drinking water.
--A sex hormone was detected in San Francisco's drinking water.
--The drinking water for Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas tested
positive for six pharmaceuticals.
--Three medications, including an antibiotic, were found in drinking water
supplied to Tucson, Ariz.
The situation is undoubtedly worse than suggested by the positive test
results in the major population centers documented by the AP.
The federal government doesn't require any testing and hasn't set safety
limits for drugs in water. Of the 62 major water providers contacted, the
drinking water for only 28 was tested. Among the 34 that haven't: Houston,
Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Phoenix, Boston and New York City's Department of
Environmental Protection, which delivers water to 9 million people.
Some providers screen only for one or two pharmaceuticals, leaving open the
possibility that others are present.
The AP's investigation also indicates that watersheds, the natural sources
of most of the nation's water supply, also are contaminated. Tests were
conducted in the watersheds of 35 of the 62 major providers surveyed by the
AP, and pharmaceuticals were detected in 28.http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/A...pagewanted=all
Yet officials in six of those 28 metropolitan areas said they did not go on
to test their drinking water -- Fairfax, Va.; Montgomery County in Maryland;
Omaha, Neb.; Oklahoma City; Santa Clara, Calif., and New York City.
The New York state health department and the USGS tested the source of the
city's water, upstate. They found trace concentrations of heart medicine,
infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a
City water officials declined repeated requests for an interview. In a
statement, they insisted that ''New York City's drinking water continues to
meet all federal and state regulations regarding drinking water quality in
the watershed and the distribution system'' -- regulations that do not
address trace pharmaceuticals.
In several cases, officials at municipal or regional water providers told
the AP that pharmaceuticals had not been detected, but the AP obtained the
results of tests conducted by independent researchers that showed otherwise.
For example, water department officials in New Orleans said their water had
not been tested for pharmaceuticals, but a Tulane University researcher and
his students have published a study that found the pain reliever naproxen,
the sex hormone estrone and the anti-cholesterol drug byproduct clofibric
acid in treated drinking water.
Of the 28 major metropolitan areas where tests were performed on drinking
water supplies, only Albuquerque; Austin, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Va.;
said tests were negative. The drinking water in Dallas has been tested, but
officials are awaiting results. Arlington, Texas, acknowledged that traces
of a pharmaceutical were detected in its drinking water but cited post-9/11
security concerns in refusing to identify the drug.
The AP also contacted 52 small water providers -- one in each state, and two
each in Missouri and Texas -- that serve communities with populations around
25,000. All but one said their drinking water had not been screened for
pharmaceuticals; officials in Emporia, Kan., refused to answer AP's
questions, also citing post-9/11 issues.
Rural consumers who draw water from their own wells aren't in the clear
either, experts say.
The Stroud Water Research Center, in Avondale, Pa., has measured water
samples from New York City's upstate watershed for caffeine, a common
contaminant that scientists often look for as a possible signal for the
presence of other pharmaceuticals. Though more caffeine was detected at
suburban sites, researcher Anthony Aufdenkampe was struck by the relatively
high levels even in less populated areas.
He suspects it escapes from failed septic tanks, maybe with other drugs.
''Septic systems are essentially small treatment plants that are essentially
unmanaged and therefore tend to fail,'' Aufdenkampe said.
Even users of bottled water and home filtration systems don't necessarily
avoid exposure. Bottlers, some of which simply repackage tap water, do not
typically treat or test for pharmaceuticals, according to the industry's
main trade group. The same goes for the makers of home filtration systems.
Contamination is not confined to the United States. More than 100 different
pharmaceuticals have been detected in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams
throughout the world. Studies have detected pharmaceuticals in waters
throughout Asia, Australia, Canada and Europe -- even in Swiss lakes and the
For example, in Canada, a study of 20 Ontario drinking water treatment
plants by a national research institute found nine different drugs in water
samples. Japanese health officials in December called for human health
impact studies after detecting prescription drugs in drinking water at seven
In the United States, the problem isn't confined to surface waters.
Pharmaceuticals also permeate aquifers deep underground, source of 40
percent of the nation's water supply. Federal scientists who drew water in
24 states from aquifers near contaminant sources such as landfills and
animal feed lots found minuscule levels of hormones, antibiotics and other
Perhaps it's because Americans have been taking drugs -- and flushing them
unmetabolized or unused -- in growing amounts. Over the past five years, the
number of U.S. prescriptions rose 12 percent to a record 3.7 billion, while
nonprescription drug purchases held steady around 3.3 billion, according to
IMS Health and The Nielsen Co.
''People think that if they take a medication, their body absorbs it and it
disappears, but of course that's not the case,'' said EPA scientist
Christian Daughton, one of the first to draw attention to the issue of
pharmaceuticals in water in the United States.
Some drugs, including widely used cholesterol fighters, tranquilizers and
anti-epileptic medications, resist modern drinking water and wastewater
treatment processes. Plus, the EPA says there are no sewage treatment
systems specifically engineered to remove pharmaceuticals.
One technology, reverse osmosis, removes virtually all pharmaceutical
contaminants but is very expensive for large-scale use and leaves several
gallons of polluted water for every one that is made drinkable.
Another issue: There's evidence that adding chlorine, a common process in
conventional drinking water treatment plants, makes some pharmaceuticals
Human waste isn't the only source of contamination. Cattle, for example, are
given ear implants that provide a slow release of trenbolone, an anabolic
steroid used by some bodybuilders, which causes cattle to bulk up. But not
all the trenbolone circulating in a steer is metabolized. A German study
showed 10 percent of the steroid passed right through the animals.
Water sampled downstream of a Nebraska feedlot had steroid levels four times
as high as the water taken upstream. Male fathead minnows living in that
downstream area had low testosterone levels and small heads.
Other veterinary drugs also play a role. Pets are now treated for arthritis,
cancer, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, dementia, and even obesity --
sometimes with the same drugs as humans. The inflation-adjusted value of
veterinary drugs rose by 8 percent, to $5.2 billion, over the past five
years, according to an analysis of data from the Animal Health Institute.
Ask the pharmaceutical industry whether the contamination of water supplies
is a problem, and officials will tell you no. ''Based on what we now know, I
would say we find there's little or no risk from pharmaceuticals in the
environment to human health,'' said microbiologist Thomas White, a
consultant for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
But at a conference last summer, Mary Buzby -- director of environmental
technology for drug maker Merck & Co. Inc. -- said: ''There's no doubt about
it, pharmaceuticals are being detected in the environment and there is
genuine concern that these compounds, in the small concentrations that
they're at, could be causing impacts to human health or to aquatic
Recent laboratory research has found that small amounts of medication have
affected human embryonic kidney cells, human blood cells and human breast
cancer cells. The cancer cells proliferated too quickly; the kidney cells
grew too slowly; and the blood cells showed biological activity associated
Also, pharmaceuticals in waterways are damaging wildlife across the nation
and around the globe, research shows. Notably, male fish are being
feminized, creating egg yolk proteins, a process usually restricted to
females. Pharmaceuticals also are affecting sentinel species at the
foundation of the pyramid of life -- such as earth worms in the wild and
zooplankton in the laboratory, studies show.
Some scientists stress that the research is extremely limited, and there are
too many unknowns. They say, though, that the documented health problems in
wildlife are disconcerting.
''It brings a question to people's minds that if the fish were affected ...
might there be a potential problem for humans?'' EPA research biologist
Vickie Wilson told the AP. ''It could be that the fish are just exquisitely
sensitive because of their physiology or something. We haven't gotten far
With limited research funds, said Shane Snyder, research and development
project manager at the Southern Nevada Water Authority, a greater emphasis
should be put on studying the effects of drugs in water.
''I think it's a shame that so much money is going into monitoring to figure
out if these things are out there, and so little is being spent on human
health,'' said Snyder. ''They need to just accept that these things are
everywhere -- every chemical and pharmaceutical could be there. It's time
for the EPA to step up to the plate and make a statement about the need to
study effects, both human and environmental.''
To the degree that the EPA is focused on the issue, it appears to be looking
at detection. Grumbles acknowledged that just late last year the agency
developed three new methods to ''detect and quantify pharmaceuticals'' in
wastewater. ''We realize that we have a limited amount of data on the
concentrations,'' he said. ''We're going to be able to learn a lot more.''
While Grumbles said the EPA had analyzed 287 pharmaceuticals for possible
inclusion on a draft list of candidates for regulation under the Safe
Drinking Water Act, he said only one, nitroglycerin, was on the list.
Nitroglycerin can be used as a drug for heart problems, but the key reason
it's being considered is its widespread use in making explosives.
So much is unknown. Many independent scientists are skeptical that trace
concentrations will ultimately prove to be harmful to humans. Confidence
about human safety is based largely on studies that poison lab animals with
much higher amounts.
There's growing concern in the scientific community, meanwhile, that certain
drugs -- or combinations of drugs -- may harm humans over decades because
water, unlike most specific foods, is consumed in sizable amounts every day.
Our bodies may shrug off a relatively big one-time dose, yet suffer from a
smaller amount delivered continuously over a half century, perhaps subtly
stirring allergies or nerve damage. Pregnant women, the elderly and the very
ill might be more sensitive.
Many concerns about chronic low-level exposure focus on certain drug
classes: chemotherapy that can act as a powerful poison; hormones that can
hamper reproduction or development; medicines for depression and epilepsy
that can damage the brain or change behavior; antibiotics that can allow
human germs to mutate into more dangerous forms; pain relievers and
For several decades, federal environmental officials and nonprofit watchdog
environmental groups have focused on regulated contaminants -- pesticides,
lead, PCBs -- which are present in higher concentrations and clearly pose a
However, some experts say medications may pose a unique danger because,
unlike most pollutants, they were crafted to act on the human body.
''These are chemicals that are designed to have very specific effects at
very low concentrations. That's what pharmaceuticals do. So when they get
out to the environment, it should not be a shock to people that they have
effects,'' says zoologist John Sumpter at Brunel University in London, who
has studied trace hormones, heart medicine and other drugs.
And while drugs are tested to be safe for humans, the timeframe is usually
over a matter of months, not a lifetime. Pharmaceuticals also can produce
side effects and interact with other drugs at normal medical doses. That's
why -- aside from therapeutic doses of fluoride injected into potable water
supplies -- pharmaceuticals are prescribed to people who need them, not
delivered to everyone in their drinking water.
''We know we are being exposed to other people's drugs through our drinking
water, and that can't be good,'' says Dr. David Carpenter, who directs the
Institute for Health and the Environment of the State University of New York
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers:
on: November 06, 2008, 05:17:41 AM
"Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence."
—Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)
Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 718.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ
on: November 06, 2008, 05:12:48 AM
WASHINGTON -- Overhauling the extraordinary legal framework established under President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks may prove among the most difficult -- and urgent -- tasks on President-elect Barack Obama's agenda.
While the nation's economic crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be higher priorities for most Americans, Mr. Obama will have to decide quickly whether to permit the military-commission trials under way at Guantanamo Bay to proceed. He also must weigh the fates of hundreds of detainees held there in legal limbo.
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President-elect Barack Obama will need to decide quickly whether to allow military-commission trials under way in Guantanamo Bay to proceed.
As a senator and candidate, Mr. Obama voted and campaigned against some of the Bush administration's most aggressive surveillance, detention and interrogation policies, including the secret prison network run by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Obama administration will "take an immediate interest in what's actually going on there," said Prof. Laurence Tribe, who once taught Mr. Obama at Harvard Law School and now is among his legal advisers. "I'm certain that a rather bright light would be turned to Guantanamo right away."
Still, closing the offshore prison -- as Mr. Obama pledged to do -- will require a series of decisions on vexing issues such as the prisoners who have been approved for release, but whom no other country is willing to accept.
More than a dozen Uighurs, Chinese Muslims captured near the Afghan border, have been cleared of terrorism charges but remain locked up at Guantanamo because they face persecution in China and no country will accept them. A federal judge's order to free them in the U.S. is on hold while the Bush administration appeals.
Even Democrats critical of the Bush policy see no easy resolution. "Can you imagine the political fallout if one of the first things Obama does is bring the Uighurs to the U.S.?" says a Democratic congressional aide familiar with detainee affairs.
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Wash Wire: Reports on the election winners and losersSo-called high-value detainees, such as accused Sept. 11, 2001, attack organizer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, present another set of problems. Mr. Mohammed and other such prisoners were subjected to waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and they were secretly held under grueling conditions. Statements taken through coercion are difficult if not impossible to introduce in court. Already, several terrorism prosecutions have been scuttled because of abusive treatment by interrogators.
"There are people there like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who can't be let out, no matter how badly the previous administration [bungled] the process," the Democratic aide says. "You have to get those folks tried."
The Bush administration has begun military-commission proceedings against Mr. Mohammed and four co-defendants. Prosecutors have said higher-ups pushed to get the long-delayed trials under way before Mr. Bush leaves office, hoping to lock the Obama administration into seeing them through.
Mr. Obama has also supported increased oversight of the secret CIA detention program and efforts to restrict the CIA to interrogation techniques used by the military, which would prohibit waterboarding.
When it comes to domestic security, Mr. Obama has said he would end the Bush administration's preference for conducting surveillance outside of court oversight. He said he would ask his attorney general to conduct a comprehensive review of domestic surveillance and would appoint a senior adviser for domestic intelligence.
The national-security transition team, which is still taking shape, will learn gradually about the full extent of the Bush administration's surveillance apparatus. Mr. Obama's team will receive more detailed intelligence briefings in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the transition.
"There will be a review of the state of the intelligence community, so that they are comfortable when they assume power that these are things that they feel are appropriate to continue and that will be able to address what our pressing national security issues will be," said John Brennan, a former chief of the National Counterterrorism Center and adviser to the Obama campaign on intelligence issues, in an interview shortly before Election Day.
The transition team will evaluate intelligence activities based on whether there are adequate protections for civil liberties, as well as adherence to laws and executive orders, Mr. Brennan said.
Aides are likely to draw up a list of some actions the new president can take quickly after he assumes office, but full solutions to many of the large legal issues will take much longer. Human-rights advocates and civil-liberties groups -- which, after being shut out of Bush administration policy debates, won major victories on detainee issues in the courts -- expect Mr. Obama to take their views seriously.
The American Civil Liberties Union has already assembled a proposal urging Mr. Obama to issue three executive orders on his first day on the job. The orders would close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, "cease and prohibit the use of torture and abuse" in CIA interrogations, and end the practice of sending detainees to countries that conduct harsher interrogations than are allowable under U.S. law.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Clusterfcuk
on: November 06, 2008, 05:01:01 AM
I agree with you that JDN should retract his apparently baseless accusations about MM. That said, I trust that the point has been noted by those reading and that they will adjust how much weight to give to future accusations by JDN. Lets move forward on this please.
Thank you not only for your thoughts, but the grace with which you share them. Please forgive me for asking you to repost them in the "Politics of Health Care" thread and I will be glad to answer them there.
Here's this from today's WSJ:
Now that Barack Obama has vanquished John McCain, he faces a much greater foe: Democrats on Capitol Hill. They've humbled the last two Democratic Presidents -- and with their enhanced majorities next year, they'll be out to do it again.
APMr. Obama may appreciate the threat, because yesterday he offered Clinton White House veteran Rahm Emanuel a job as his chief of staff. But even that savvy, relatively sane liberal will have difficulties grappling with the fearsome committee chairmen and liberal interest groups that did so much to sabotage Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Meet the President-elect's real opposition:
David Obey. The Appropriations Chairman wants to slash defense spending as a money grab for more social programs and entitlements. Fellow spender Barney Frank recently added that a military budget cut of 25% was about right. A military crash diet wouldn't leave the funds for the surge in Afghanistan that Mr. Obama advocates, and it's a sure way to hand the national security issue back to the GOP.
Chuck Schumer. The Senate Democrat and his friends are already threatening banks if they don't lend more money instantly under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Other political masters want to use Tarp to nationalize large swaths of U.S. industry such as the Detroit auto makers or to bail out states like New York that are in debt. If Mr. Obama doesn't want to have to pass a Tarp II, he'll have to say no.
George Miller. Some Democrats are starting to target the tax subsidies for 401(k)s and other private retirement options. Mr. Miller, who heads the House Education and Labor Committee, calls them "a big failure" and recently held a hearing to ponder alternatives, including nationalizing pensions and replacing them with special bonds administered by Social Security. The proposal has also caught the eye of Jim McDermott, who chairs the relevant Ways and Means subcommittee. Mr. Obama won big with his promise of tax cuts for the middle class, which doesn't square with attacks on middle-class nest eggs.
John Conyers. The man running House Judiciary is cheerleading the Europeans who want to indict Bush officials for war crimes. Other Democrats are thinking about hearings and other show trials. This is far from the postpartisan reconciliation that Mr. Obama preaches.
Henry Waxman. With President Bush soon to be out of office, the Californian's team of Inspector Clouseaus at House Oversight won't have any "scandals" left to pursue. The word in Washington is that Mr. Waxman is looking to unseat John Dingell as Chairman of Energy and Commerce, in order to shove aside a global warming moderate. That could pave the way for huge new energy taxes. Voters will punish Mr. Obama if they get hammered every time they fill up the gas tank or buy groceries.
Pete Stark. The Chairman of a crucial House subcommittee dealing with health care doesn't think Mr. Obama's proposal to significantly federalize the insurance market goes far enough. He wants a single-payer system like Canada's. Mr. Obama may want to strike a deal with Senate Republicans on health care, but Mr. Stark will be pulling him left at every turn.
All of these feudal lords -- and many others -- also come with their own private armies: the interest groups that compose the money and manpower of today's Democratic Party. The American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and others on the anti-antiterror left want Mr. Obama to limit the surveillance and other tools that have prevented another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense will insist on onerous caps -- that is, taxes -- on coal and other carbon energy. Those won't help Mr. Obama carry Ohio and Indiana again in four years.
The trial bar wants an end to arbitration in disputes in return on its Senate investment, while the National Education Association will try to gut No Child Left Behind accountability standards. And organized labor will insist on a major push to pass "card check," which would end secret-ballot elections for unions. If Mr. Obama wants to mobilize the business community against him while squeezing moderate Democrats, he'll go along with that right from the start.
While many voters may think they've voted for "change" in Mr. Obama, they also handed power to the oldest forces in the Old Democratic Party. Jimmy Carter campaigned as a moderate and outsider, but Congressional liberals quickly ran his budget director, the economic centrist Bert Lance, out of town. Then they overrode Mr. Carter's veto of a pork-barrel water bill. Mr. Carter referred to the tax committees as "ravenous wolves" after they transformed his tax reform into a special-interest bouquet. Next came Reagan.
Bill Clinton also campaigned as a moderate, but in his first two years he was unable to govern as Congress pursued liberal priorities, including a big boost in taxes and spending. Recall Roberta Achtenberg as the scourge of the Boy Scouts and Joycelyn Elders calling for the legalization of drugs? Mr. Clinton chose -- or was forced -- to take up gun control and HillaryCare before welfare reform. Next came Newt Gingrich.
Maybe Mr. Obama has absorbed these lessons, but even if he has he'll have to be tough. The Great Society liberals who dominate Congress are old men in a hurry, and they'll run over the 47-year-old neophyte if he lets them.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: November 06, 2008, 04:36:07 AM
I agree fully that JDN has failed to back up his accusations of MM. IMHO the honorable thing to do would be to back them up or withdraw the accusations. That said, there is a personal tone to the attacks that is dissonant with the code here of speaking to each other as we would if were having a conversation over dinner.
This is out of line: "You are a perfect example of the dishonorable scum I despise. Maybe we'll meet in a dojo someday. We'll see how loud you bray then."
Withdrawing these words would be appropriate.
Please adjust accordingly.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sharia 101
on: November 06, 2008, 04:14:00 AM
Here's an article about it:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1081214/Somali-girl-pleaded-mercy-Islamists-stoned-death-raped.html?ITO=1490
Somali girl 'pleaded for mercy' before Islamists stoned her to death for being raped
By David Williams
Last updated at 8:00 AM on 05th November 2008
Comments (184) Add to My Stories
A girl of 13 begged for mercy moments before a mob buried her up to her shoulders and stoned her to death, it was claimed yesterday. The Somalian youngster is said to have pleaded 'Don't kill me, don't kill me' before her horrific execution in front of a 1,000-strong crowd. A boy is thought to have been shot dead amid the appalling scenes inside a football stadium in Kismayu, a rebel-held port.
An armed soldier guards a crowd in Kismayo, Somalia, which is currently ruled by an Islamist militia (file picture). Amnesty International has said that a 13-year-old girl, who had been raped, was stoned to death there. According to Amnesty International, the girl was 13 and had been raped by three men.
Officials say she was 23 and had confessed adultery before an Islamic court. The stoning, which took place on October 28, is the first public killing in war-torn Somalia for two years. Convicting a girl of 13 for adultery would be illegal under sharia law but the authorities said she had lied about her age. Print and radio journalists who were allowed to attend the execution put her age at 23.
Amnesty and Unicef, the UN children's agency, said that the girl, identified as Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, was raped while travelling to see a relative in Mogadishu, the Somalian capital. Her family is said to have tried to report the crime to the militia who control Kismayu, only for Aisha to be arrested and accused of adultery. None of the men she accused of rape was detained.
David Copeman, Amnesty's Somalia campaigner, said: 'This was not justice, nor was it an execution. This child suffered an horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayu. This killing is yet another human rights abuse committed by the combatants in Somalia and again demonstrates the importance of international action to investigate and document such abuses, through an international commission of inquiry.'
Amnesty said partway through the stoning nurses checked whether Aisha was still alive. They pulled her body out of the ground to ascertain she was still breathing before the stoning continued.
A Unicef statement said: 'She sought protection from the authorities, who then accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death. A child was victimised twice - first by the perpetrators of the rape and then by those responsible for administering justice.'
The agency said the incident highlighted the vulnerability of girls and women in Somalia, which has suffered civil conflict for the past 17 years. In the latest cycle, Islamist rebels are fighting the government and their backers in the Ethiopian military.
A witness told the BBC the woman had begged for her life and had been crying as she was forced into the hole in the ground. He said the girl had asked the Islamic administration in Kismayo: 'What do you want from me?'
They replied : 'We will do what Allah has instructed us.'
She said: 'I'm not going, I'm not going. Don't kill me, don't kill me.'
The witness added: 'A few minutes later more than 50 men tried to stone her.'
He said no one tried to stop the Islamist officials, who were armed.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Friedman
on: November 05, 2008, 03:02:20 PM
November 5, 2008
By George Friedman
Related Special Topic Page
The 2008 U.S. Presidential Race
Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States by a large majority in the Electoral College. The Democrats have dramatically increased their control of Congress, increasing the number of seats they hold in the House of Representatives and moving close to the point where — with a few Republican defections — they can have veto-proof control of the Senate. Given the age of some Supreme Court justices, Obama might well have the opportunity to appoint at least one and possibly two new justices. He will begin as one of the most powerful presidents in a long while.
Truly extraordinary were the celebrations held around the world upon Obama’s victory. They affirm the global expectations Obama has raised — and reveal that the United States must be more important to Europeans than the latter like to admit. (We can’t imagine late-night vigils in the United States over a French election.)
Obama is an extraordinary rhetorician, and as Aristotle pointed out, rhetoric is one of the foundations of political power. Rhetoric has raised him to the presidency, along with the tremendous unpopularity of his predecessor and a financial crisis that took a tied campaign and gave Obama a lead he carefully nurtured to victory. So, as with all politicians, his victory was a matter of rhetoric and, according to Machiavelli, luck. Obama had both, but now the question is whether he has Machiavelli’s virtue in full by possessing the ability to exercise power. This last element is what governing is about, and it is what will determine if his presidency succeeds.
Embedded in his tremendous victory is a single weakness: Obama won the popular vote by a fairly narrow margin, about 52 percent of the vote. That means that almost as many people voted against him as voted for him.
Obama’s Agenda vs. Expanding His Base
U.S. President George W. Bush demonstrated that the inability to understand the uses and limits of power can crush a presidency very quickly. The enormous enthusiasm of Obama’s followers could conceal how he — like Bush — is governing a deeply, and nearly evenly, divided country. Obama’s first test will be simple: Can he maintain the devotion of his followers while increasing his political base? Or will he believe, as Bush and Cheney did, that he can govern without concern for the other half of the country because he controls the presidency and Congress, as Bush and Cheney did in 2001? Presidents are elected by electoral votes, but they govern through public support.
Obama and his supporters will say there is no danger of a repeat of Bush — who believed he could carry out his agenda and build his political base at the same time, but couldn’t. Building a political base requires modifying one’s agenda. But when you start modifying your agenda, when you become pragmatic, you start to lose your supporters. If Obama had won with 60 percent of the popular vote, this would not be as pressing a question. But he barely won by more than Bush in 2004. Now, we will find out if Obama is as skillful a president as he was a candidate.
Obama will soon face the problem of beginning to disappoint people all over the world, a problem built into his job. The first disappointments will be minor. There are thousands of people hoping for appointments, some to Cabinet positions, others to the White House, others to federal agencies. Many will get something, but few will get as much as they hoped for. Some will feel betrayed and become bitter. During the transition process, the disappointed office seeker — an institution in American politics — will start leaking on background to whatever reporters are available. This will strike a small, discordant note; creating no serious problems, but serving as a harbinger of things to come.
Later, Obama will be sworn in. He will give a memorable, perhaps historic speech at his inauguration. There will be great expectations about him in the country and around the world. He will enjoy the traditional presidential honeymoon, during which all but his bitterest enemies will give him the benefit of the doubt. The press initially will adore him, but will begin writing stories about all the positions he hasn’t filled, the mistakes he made in the vetting process and so on. And then, sometime in March or April, things will get interesting.
Iran and a U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq
Obama has promised to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, where he does not intend to leave any residual force. If he follows that course, he will open the door for the Iranians. Iran’s primary national security interest is containing or dominating Iraq, with which Iran fought a long war. If the United States remains in Iraq, the Iranians will be forced to accept a neutral government in Iraq. A U.S. withdrawal will pave the way for the Iranians to use Iraqi proxies to create, at a minimum, an Iraqi government more heavily influenced by Iran.
Apart from upsetting Sunni and Kurdish allies of the United States in Iraq, the Iranian ascendancy in Iraq will disturb some major American allies — particularly the Saudis, who fear Iranian power. The United States can’t afford a scenario under which Iranian power is projected into the Saudi oil fields. While that might be an unlikely scenario, it carries catastrophic consequences. The Jordanians and possibly the Turks, also American allies, will pressure Obama not simply to withdraw. And, of course, the Israelis will want the United States to remain in place to block Iranian expansion. Resisting a coalition of Saudis and Israelis will not be easy.
This will be the point where Obama’s pledge to talk to the Iranians will become crucial. If he simply withdraws from Iraq without a solid understanding with Iran, the entire American coalition in the region will come apart. Obama has pledged to build coalitions, something that will be difficult in the Middle East if he withdraws from Iraq without ironclad Iranian guarantees. He therefore will talk to the Iranians. But what can Obama offer the Iranians that would induce them to forego their primary national security interest? It is difficult to imagine a U.S.-Iranian deal that is both mutually beneficial and enforceable.
Obama will then be forced to make a decision. He can withdraw from Iraq and suffer the geopolitical consequences while coming under fire from the substantial political right in the United States that he needs at least in part to bring into his coalition. Or, he can retain some force in Iraq, thereby disappointing his supporters. If he is clumsy, he could wind up under attack from the right for negotiating with the Iranians and from his own supporters for not withdrawing all U.S. forces from Iraq. His skills in foreign policy and domestic politics will be tested on this core question, and he undoubtedly will disappoint many.
The Afghan Dilemma
Obama will need to address Afghanistan next. He has said that this is the real war, and that he will ask U.S. allies to join him in the effort. This means he will go to the Europeans and NATO, as he has said he will do. The Europeans are delighted with Obama’s victory because they feel Obama will consult them and stop making demands of them. But demands are precisely what he will bring the Europeans. In particular, he will want the Europeans to provide more forces for Afghanistan.
Many European countries will be inclined to provide some support, if for no other reason than to show that they are prepared to work with Obama. But European public opinion is not about to support a major deployment in Afghanistan, and the Europeans don’t have the force to deploy there anyway. In fact, as the global financial crisis begins to have a more dire impact in Europe than in the United States, many European countries are actively reducing their deployments in Afghanistan to save money. Expanding operations is the last thing on European minds.
Obama’s Afghan solution of building a coalition centered on the Europeans will thus meet a divided Europe with little inclination to send troops and with few troops to send in any event. That will force him into a confrontation with the Europeans in spring 2009, and then into a decision. The United States and its allies collectively lack the force to stabilize Afghanistan and defeat the Taliban. They certainly lack the force to make a significant move into Pakistan — something Obama has floated on several occasions that might be a good idea if force were in fact available.
He will have to make a hard decision on Afghanistan. Obama can continue the war as it is currently being fought, without hope of anything but a long holding action, but this risks defining his presidency around a hopeless war. He can choose to withdraw, in effect reinstating the Taliban, going back on his commitment and drawing heavy fire from the right. Or he can do what we have suggested is the inevitable outcome, namely, negotiate — and reach a political accord — with the Taliban. Unlike Bush, however, withdrawal or negotiation with the Taliban will increase the pressure on Obama from the right. And if this is coupled with a decision to delay withdrawal from Iraq, Obama’s own supporters will become restive. His 52 percent Election Day support could deteriorate with remarkable speed.
The Russian Question
At the same time, Obama will face the Russian question. The morning after Obama’s election, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev announced that Russia was deploying missiles in its European exclave of Kaliningrad in response to the U.S. deployment of ballistic missile defense systems in Poland. Obama opposed the Russians on their August intervention in Georgia, but he has never enunciated a clear Russia policy. We expect Ukraine will have shifted its political alignment toward Russia, and Moscow will be rapidly moving to create a sphere of influence before Obama can bring his attention — and U.S. power — to bear.
Obama will again turn to the Europeans to create a coalition to resist the Russians. But the Europeans will again be divided. The Germans can’t afford to alienate the Russians because of German energy dependence on Russia and because Germany does not want to fight another Cold War. The British and French may be more inclined to address the question, but certainly not to the point of resurrecting NATO as a major military force. The Russians will be prepared to talk, and will want to talk a great deal, all the while pursuing their own national interest of increasing their power in what they call their “near abroad.”
Obama will have many options on domestic policy given his majorities in Congress. But his Achilles’ heel, as it was for Bush and for many presidents, will be foreign policy. He has made what appear to be three guarantees. First, he will withdraw from Iraq. Second, he will focus on Afghanistan. Third, he will oppose Russian expansionism. To deliver on the first promise, he must deal with the Iranians. To deliver on the second, he must deal with the Taliban. To deliver on the third, he must deal with the Europeans.
Global Finance and the European Problem
The Europeans will pose another critical problem, as they want a second Bretton Woods agreement. Some European states appear to desire a set of international regulations for the financial system. There are three problems with this.
First, unless Obama wants to change course dramatically, the U.S. and European positions differ over the degree to which governments will regulate interbank transactions. The Europeans want much more intrusion than the Americans. They are far less averse to direct government controls than the Americans have been. Obama has the power to shift American policy, but doing that will make it harder to expand his base.
Second, the creation of an international regulatory body that has authority over American banks would create a system where U.S. financial management was subordinated to European financial management.
And third, the Europeans themselves have no common understanding of things. Obama could thus quickly be drawn into complex EU policy issues that could tie his hands in the United States. These could quickly turn into painful negotiations, in which Obama’s allure to the Europeans will evaporate.
One of the foundations of Obama’s foreign policy — and one of the reasons the Europeans have celebrated his election — was the perception that Obama is prepared to work closely with the Europeans. He is in fact prepared to do so, but his problem will be the same one Bush had: The Europeans are in no position to give the things that Obama will need from them — namely, troops, a revived NATO to confront the Russians and a global financial system that doesn’t subordinate American financial authority to an international bureaucracy.
The Hard Road Ahead
Like any politician, Obama will face the challenge of having made a set of promises that are not mutually supportive. Much of his challenge boils down to problems that he needs to solve and that he wants European help on, but the Europeans are not prepared to provide the type and amount of help he needs. This, plus the fact that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq requires an agreement with Iran — something hard to imagine without a continued U.S. presence in Iraq — gives Obama a difficult road to move on.
As with all American presidents (who face midterm elections with astonishing speed), Obama’s foreign policy moves will be framed by his political support. Institutionally, he will be powerful. In terms of popular support, he begins knowing that almost half the country voted against him, and that he must increase his base. He must exploit the honeymoon period, when his support will expand, to bring another 5 percent or 10 percent of the public into his coalition. These people voted against him; now he needs to convince them to support him. But these are precisely the people who would regard talks with the Taliban or Iran with deep distrust. And if negotiations with the Iranians cause him to keep forces in Iraq, he will alienate his base without necessarily winning over his opponents.
And there is always the unknown. There could be a terrorist attack, the Russians could start pressuring the Baltic states, the Mexican situation could deteriorate. The unknown by definition cannot be anticipated. And many foreign leaders know it takes an administration months to settle in, something some will try to take advantage of. On top of that, there is now nearly a three-month window in which the old president is not yet out and the new president not yet in.
Obama must deal with extraordinarily difficult foreign policy issues in the context of an alliance failing not because of rough behavior among friends but because the allies’ interests have diverged. He must deal with this in the context of foreign policy positions difficult to sustain and reconcile, all against the backdrop of almost half an electorate that voted against him versus supporters who have enormous hopes vested in him. Obama knows all of this, of course, as he indicated in his victory speech.
We will now find out if Obama understands the exercise of political power as well as he understands the pursuit of that power. You really can’t know that until after the fact. There is no reason to think he can’t finesse these problems. Doing so will take cunning, trickery and the ability to make his supporters forget the promises he made while keeping their support. It will also require the ability to make some of his opponents embrace him despite the path he will have to take. In other words, he will have to be cunning and ruthless without appearing to be cunning and ruthless. That’s what successful presidents do.
In the meantime, he should enjoy the transition. It’s frequently the best part of a presidency.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread
on: November 05, 2008, 01:20:50 PM
Alrighty then, moving right along, , , ,
It appears that here in California we have rolled back the State Supreme Court's effort to impose gay marriage. If I have it correctly, the initiative that passed is an amendment to the CA Consitution and as such we are safe from further judicial activism.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD WSJ
on: November 05, 2008, 11:48:59 AM
Obama's Miracle: He Makes Pollsters Look Good for a Change
Pollsters ended up not having a bad Election Night in most races. Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports notes that his final daily tracking survey had Barack Obama leading John McCain by 52% to 46%, which is exactly where the actual results stand this morning.
Mr. Rasmussen says the race was "basically decided in those two weeks in September when the financial markets melted down." The crisis enabled Mr. Obama to break out of his tie with Mr. McCain and open up a five-point lead. "He then hit between 50% of the vote and 52% of the vote for the entire 40-day period before the Election," Mr. Rasmussen tells me. "As for McCain, his number stayed between 44% and 47% on each and every one of the campaign's last 40 days."
The financial meltdown apparently eroded voter confidence in Republicans in general and prompted many to support Mr. Obama on "faith" that he represented the needed change. "Obama's successful finish came out of the fact he was able to hold his lead by appearing smooth, calm and disciplined," says Mr. Rasmussen. In other words, Mr. Obama was able to establish a comfort level with enough Americans to guarantee him an historic win.
-- John Fund
The Tournament of Blame
What were the biggest mistakes of the McCain campaign? Most everyone will cite the candidate's sudden decision during September's financial crisis to suspend his campaign and rush to Washington, D.C., where he proved an ineffective stage manager for Congressional Republicans leery of the first bailout package.
A survey of Republican strategists and officials yielded the following runner-up contenders for worst campaign failure:
1) Sarah Palin's handling by the McCain staff was abysmal, even if all the stories about her alleged flightiness were true. She was carefully held back from media interviews, then made her debut in a shaky interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson. Then it was decided to have her sit down next with CBS's Katie Couric, whose network was given freedom to edit and promote the interview in such a way as to cause her maximum embarrassment.
2) The McCain campaign never had an effective get-out-the-vote effort. When Republican National Committee officials met with McCain staffmembers in May, they were shocked that McCain aides had little interest in the RNC's vaunted voter contact list. McCain representatives assured RNC officials that the election wouldn't be won with Republicans, but with independents and moderates.
In the end, the McCain campaign stripped away funding for its get-out-the-vote efforts in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania and replaced them with high-cost TV ads. The results were not good. Mr. Obama romped to a solid 55% victory in the Keystone State.
3) John McCain himself took off the table the option of airing TV ads critical of Mr. Obama's association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Former Democratic consultants Dick Morris and Bob Beckel both agree that Mr. McCain unwisely and artificially circumscribed his campaign. "The Wright issue could have been framed as a judgment issue rather than as a racial issue," Mr. Beckel told me. "But they boxed themselves in only to discover that by comparison with 2004, there were few if any outside groups running independent ad campaigns critical of Mr. Obama's history and record."
It's not uncommon for losing campaigns quickly to descend into finger-pointing and recriminations once the election results are in. But some on the McCain campaign staff seem more eager than most to settle scores. I received at least three phone calls last night from McCain staffers who seemed to want to use me as a conduit for their complaints about the campaign.
Campaigns come and go, but political reputations in Washington have to be protected at all costs.
-- John Fund
Is it possible only two Senate Republican incumbents lost seats yesterday, keeping Democrats well short of a filibuster-proof 60? Three others are still in danger as votes are counted or recounted. It may have been a crummy year to be a Republican but not as crummy as many had feared.
Not much else besides an "R" bound together the GOP senators among yesterday's losers and near losers. Definitely out of office are North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole (former Reagan cabinet secretary) and New Hampshire's John Sununu (young reformer). Clinging to narrow leads are Alaska's Ted Stevens (pork king), Minnesota's Norm Coleman (middle-of-the-roader) and Oregon's Gordon Smith (ditto).
The losers had the misfortune of hailing from states where the anti-GOP mood was at its highest. New Hampshire sported some of the lowest Bush approval ratings in the country. North Carolina headed the list of red states that appeared ready to go blue. Yet the biggest news of the night may be the two GOPers who are hanging on in Oregon and Minnesota, states John McCain lost by double digits. The ticket-splitting that nonetheless apparently kept GOP Senators Smith and Coleman in the game is a glimmer of hope in a year when so many voters were willing to repudiate Republicans indiscriminately. In New Hampshire, Mr. Sununu was among the few warning against Fannie and Freddie years ago, trying to head off the financial crisis that ultimately came. He's now history.
Most of the Democratic challengers in these races spent far more time blaming their opponents for today's problems than promoting their own policies -- making it hard to extract a theme from their successes and near successes. Former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen largely won her race by tying Mr. Sununu to President Bush. North Carolina's Kay Hagen spent most of her race complaining that Mrs. Dole hadn't spent more time in the state. Anchorage mayor Mark Begich was running against a senator who just last week was convicted of seven felony charges. In Minnesota, Al Franken's entire shtick is attack dog, not policy wonk.
Lots of Democrats yesterday enjoyed a slick ride on Mr. Obama's coattails. His get-out-the-vote operations were nothing short of extraordinary. A flood of new registrations and high turnout resulted in a boost all the way down the ticket. Democrats, for instance, signed up 137,000 new voters (compared with 50,000 for the GOP) in North Carolina this cycle. Turnout was expected to hit 75% in the state.
All the more impressive, then, is that GOP Senators in Oregon and Minnesota may live to fight another day because even Obama voters apparently decided Mr. Obama should have a loyal opposition looking over his shoulder.
-- Kim Strassel
Return of the Newt
Sixteen years ago, Republicans were in a position as dire as today's when Congressman Newt Gingrich assumed the mantle of leader of the opposition. Two years later Republicans won one of their biggest landslide victories in half a century. No wonder we're hearing that Republican leaders are trying to recruit Newt back as a new head of the Republican National Committee.
Other names under consideration include former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Dick Armey of Texas, the former House Majority Leader.
But Mr. Gingrich, the Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1998, is the one who can energize the party, some RNC committee members are saying. One is Rep. Jack Kingston, who says: "If Newt assumed that role of RNC chair, he would be at home with the position. He has served before during dark and dreary times" for the party.
"Newt has baggage to be sure," adds another longtime committee member, "but he is a strategic political thinker par excellence." Mr. Gingrich was the mastermind behind the Contract with America that helped win the first Republican House majority in 40 years. Shawn Steel, an RNC member from California, says: "Newt is one of the few people who knows how to be an effective party builder, and to unify the party around conservative ideas. He wakes every morning thinking about how he can put the hurt to the other team."
We're told Mr. Gingrich would be interested in the job, though he's pulling down a big income with his various enterprises and his association with various think tanks. Newt is also said still to be a master fundraiser with conservatives, a big asset given the party's depleted coffers. Most importantly, "one of the problems McCain and George Bush both have is that they are not good speakers," says Mr. Kingston. "Obviously, Mr. Obama is. And I think Newt could go head to head with him."
-- Stephen Moore
Words, More Words and History
Barack Obama's victory speech last night undoubtedly went through many drafts and was labored over long and hard -- and it sounded like it. For the first time, his eloquence seemed to become a barrier erected between himself and the world. With his first State of the Union address just weeks away, let's hope he learns to say simply and clearly that he wants a prosperous economy, disciplined government and a sustainable system for financing the country's health care consumption and retirement lifestyles.
John McCain's concession speech certainly was heavily worked-over too -- and yet didn't sound written at all. It sounded like the Mr. McCain we've all come to know directly revealing what we've all come to know about him. Mr. Obama's speechwriters should take note.
As for the third and invisible player in last night's drama, President Bush now heads for the history books, whose opinion he claims not to worry about. Whatever it might be, the "verdict of history" is hardly infallible and doesn't require or deserve universal assent. That said, if Harry Truman and Woodrow Wilson can recruit legions of admirers among subsequent historians, Mr. Bush will too -- and then some. After all, he doesn't bequeath his successor a futile stalemate in Iraq. He didn't win the war only to lose the peace. His military performance looks like genius compared to the Korean near-disasters of Pusan and Yalu. What's more, if the next president or two squander his success in Iraq, he's virtually guaranteed a place in the pantheon -- because historians are usually friendly to the visionary risktaker whose legacy is undermined by mere politicians.
-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters
on: November 05, 2008, 10:54:39 AM
October 18, 2008 | 1555 GMT
The security situation in Mexico has been dire for some time. Now the global financial crisis threatens to push the country into uncharted territory as the government struggles to prop up the economy while fighting a war against some of the wealthiest and most organized criminals in the world.
The Mexican government issued $3.9 billion in guarantees for Mexican commercial paper Oct. 17, Reuters reported. The move follows failed attempts by the Mexican cement company Cemex and Mexican units of American automakers to issue some $76 million in bonds. These developments are a sign of troubled times as Mexico feels the effects of the global financial crisis. The Mexican government had already injected $8.3 billion into the markets to prop up the peso. Putting all this money forward will strain an already-tortured government budget that is dependent on a failing oil industry and must support a critical war against drug cartels.
The most vulnerable aspect of the Mexican economy is its exposure to the declining U.S. market — particularly in Mexico’s export sector. Over 80 percent of Mexico’s exports go to the United States, and the emerging U.S. recession is sure to throw this trade relationship into chaos.
Mexico is also heavily linked to the U.S. economy through remittances. Mexicans working in the United States send approximately $24.3 billion per year back home — or about 3 percent of the gross domestic product. Declines in reported remittance rates have already been reported throughout Central American states, which rely heavily on these wealth transfers. As the U.S. economy shrinks, and competition for low-wage positions increases, illegal immigrants will be pushed out of the job market, and remittances to Mexico will decline even further.
Finally, Mexico is highly exposed to the financial crisis because of the shrinking pool of global credit and the growing number of nervous investors. On the one hand, this has caused a rapid devaluation of the Mexican peso as investors rapidly pull capital from third-world markets and dump it into safer markets (i.e., the U.S. dollar). On the other hand, we have seen the results of a rapidly shrinking pool of international credit as wealth has disappeared, banks have stopped lending and investors have panicked.
This has manifested itself in Cemex’s inability to issue corporate paper, which has been a serious cause for concern in Mexican business circles. Mexico’s banks are particularly vulnerable to shrinking global capital. About 80 percent of its banking sector is controlled by foreign entities, which means that 80 percent of domestic credit is subject to the whims of the international credit pool. Any serious threat to such a large portion of the banking sector could cause a collapse of the banking system.
But the economic situation is not the only threat to Mexico’s stability. Mexico is deeply embroiled in a war against violent drug cartels that control substantial portions of the country. The death toll in 2008 alone has risen to over 3,100 and appears likely to hit 4,000 by the end of the year. And the war is not free. The government’s ability to respond effectively to an economic crisis while funding a massive military and law enforcement effort is low — and the scarcity of funds could loosen public support for the cartel war as people look to solve their basic economic needs.
Moreover, a downturn in the economy will only exacerbate the security situation in Mexico. As jobs in the United States become scarce, many of the illegal Mexican migrant laborers there will be left jobless. Many will return to Mexico, where employment opportunities are no better. There is already some anecdotal evidence that reverse illegal migration into Mexico has become much more noticeable. The return to Mexico of thousands of unemployed young workers will flood the Mexican labor market.
There is no question that increased poverty and unemployment will contribute to a worsening security situation in Mexico. Ordinary criminal activities such as theft will likely increase, which could boost organized crime. Options in the legitimate economy will be few, but the underground economy — in drugs or other inelastic commodities — could flourish during a downturn. Indeed, a declining economy will make the cartels the only game in town, and rising unemployment will provide them with an excellent recruiting opportunity.
November 5, 2008 | 0332 GMT
Mexican Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino died Nov. 4 when the plane he was traveling in crashed three minutes before it was scheduled to land at the Mexico City International Airport, according to an official statement.
The LearJet 45 crashed near a major intersection in the capital, and reportedly occurred when the plane was on a normal approach path to the airport, when it should have been flying at an altitude of almost 1,000 feet. Also reported dead in the crash is the former director of federal organized crime investigations, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos. The plane was traveling from San Luis Potosi state, where Mourino had attended the signing of a security agreement between several states. CNN and TV Azteca reported that eyewitnesses said the plane exploded in midair, but this has not been confirmed.
It is unclear at this point what caused the crash. El Universal has reported that this same plane had a mechanical problem in 2005; however, this says little, since the plane appears to have been functioning over the past three years. Weather seems to have played no role in the accident. While mechanical failure or pilot error are likely causes, it is important to consider the possibility that foul play was involved, especially considering the escalating violence in Mexico’s war against the country’s drug cartels. Indeed, the Mexican army appears to be examining the potential for sabotage, as it reportedly has secured the San Luis Potosi airport where the flight originated and has begun an investigation.
If this crash does turn out to have been an act of sabotage carried out by one of the cartels, the implications of such an attack would be tremendous. If (and we do emphasize if here) the cartels are behind this, such an attack would be a direct hit against Mexico’s central government. The government would be forced to respond, most likely by drawing in troops from the border regions where the army is currently fighting the cartels to the interior to secure Mexico and prevent it from becoming a failed state. Also, considering Mexico’s economic situation, Mexico City would be stuck trying to prevent insolvency while trying to provide security. With only so many resources, Mexico would have to make some hard decisions indeed.
This situation will need to be monitored to determine the cause of the crash. Signs that would indicate the Mexican government believes the plane was sabotaged are the shutting down of air traffic and the ordering of drastic troop redeployments.
Tell Stratfor What You Think
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Coming Clusterfcuk
on: November 05, 2008, 10:53:25 AM
Geopolitical Diary: President-Elect Barack Obama
November 5, 2008 | 0509 GMT
Barack Obama was elected president of the United States on Tuesday. The popular vote gave him a solid majority, but nowhere near a landslide. His electoral majority was decisive. Most significant of the night, the Democrats now control both houses of Congress and in the Senate are close to — but not quite at — a veto-proof majority. They decisively control two branches of government. Indeed, it is likely that they will be able to appoint one or even two justices to the Supreme Court in the next four years, controlling that as well. Obama will have more control of the federal government on his first day in office than most presidents ever achieve in their entire tenure.
The crucial question will be whether it makes a difference. The shift from a Bush presidency to an Obama presidency will be a laboratory for testing one of Stratfor’s key contentions, which is that ideology and personalities are of secondary importance to the external forces that limit, shape and constrain a leader’s options. The change between the government of the United States elected in 2004 and the government that will take power in January is as dramatic a shift in personalities and ideologies as is likely in the American system. The issue will be how much room for maneuver Obama will actually have, particularly in foreign policy.
Consider: Obama has pledged to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, although his time frame is unclear. If he does withdraw them, he will have to deal with Iranians sooner rather than later, as they will want to move into any power vacuum left in Iraq. If the Iraqi government is unable to govern, or parts of it are under Iranian influence, obviously Iranian influence in Iraq will surge. This of course will deeply concern Saudi Arabia, which has been frightened of Iranian power since the Iranian revolution. Obama will face the choice of either leaving the Saudis to their own devices or containing the Iranians.
The strategy he has said he would follow would be to negotiate with the Iranians. He would have to reach an understanding with them that would create a neutral Iraqi government and allow the United States to withdraw, yet have a credible guarantee from Iran to respect Iraqi neutrality and keep it as a buffer zone. What can the United States offer Iran that matches the importance of Iraq to them?
That will be the point at which Obama will first show whether he can carve a new path or whether he will be trapped in the same reality the Bush administration faces. Unless he can reach an understanding with the Iranians, he cannot simply withdraw. We cannot imagine an offer to Iran that would cause Tehran to give up the goal of the domination of Iraq. But that is the laboratory experiment: Can Obama craft a solution that others can’t see? If he can, then his withdrawal plan can be executed. If he can’t, then it can only be executed at a huge potential cost prior to the next presidential election — and popularity among presidents is fleeting. Obama has won the presidency and therefore has shown himself to be a master politician. He does not want to create a disaster and lose the next election. Therefore, the question is: What will he do to fulfill the centerpiece pledge of his foreign policy?
This is not a trick question, and the least important matter is whether Stratfor’s methodology is validated or not. What is important is that Obama, having won the election, will now have to face a range of foreign policy issues that will challenge his ideology and policies, and where his personality will matter little. He will be dealing with people like Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao and Angela Merkel, none of whom are swayed by charisma and all of whom govern countries with interests very different than those of the United States.
When policies encounter realities, harsh things happen to presidents. Most presidents are worn down by them. Some accommodate themselves. A few — a Lincoln or a Franklin Delano Roosevelt — find opportunities that no one else can quite see. The first test for Obama will be Iraq, to find an exit that isn’t disastrous but fulfills his commitments. We don’t see the path. It will be interesting to see if Obama can invent one — not only on Iraq but on a range of foreign policy issues that he’s addressed.
Tell Stratfor What You Think
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: November 05, 2008, 10:29:05 AM
Bringing this over from the Rant thread:
I think these comments pretty sharp:
" My question, did McCain fight Republicans when they were right or did he fight them when they were wrong?
His biggest fights were: Campaign finance reform - a HORRIBLE law that led to his own demise. Opposing Bush tax cuts - wrong by his own admission. Opposing drilling in ANWR - political fodder, had nothing to do with the environment or the caribou and just conceded a huge symbolic point to the opposition. Immigration - caved on principle and lawfulness just to pander to a totally unappreciative audience. Supported cap and trade - don't get me started, the best explanation was Obama's saying he looked forward to bankrupting the clean coal industry and McCain did not and could not draw a distinction! My outlets are connected to coal and no one is building nuclear or anything else to replace it. McCain conceded the issue before the general election began. Torture - McCain has credibility here, but drew blurry lines impugning the Americans and hurting the war effort. Spending - I know he opposes earmarks, a minor item, but why didn't he scream bloody murder as Republicans poured more and more money into ALL spending. If he did I didn't hear it. And for all his fighting with his own party, he failed to pin blame for the subprime industry or any other else on his opponents. He's just too nice of a guy, so he let's Bush and the republicans take full blame with his silence. (Skipping over some things he did right - this is a rant)
"McCain fought Republicans hard but if he had won he helped in leaving fewer Republicans around to support him. Zero coattails even in losing. Of course a McCain presidency would also have been a failure with the Pelosi-Reid congress setting most of the agenda.
"One example I posted previously of McCain hurting Republicans was our other senator from MN, Amy Klobuchar, a political clone of Hillary without all the charisma. Every time her opponent tried to paint her as too liberal for MN she managed to point out that she had John McCain on her side of a vote or issue, opposing tax cuts, drilling, etc."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Our Founding Fathers:
on: November 05, 2008, 08:47:55 AM
"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."
--James Madison, Federalist No. 10
"I acknowledge, in the ordinary course of government, that the
exposition of the laws and Constitution devolves upon the judicial.
But I beg to know upon what principle it can be contended that
any one department draws from the Constitution greater powers
than another in marking out the limits of the powers of the
-- James Madison (speech in the Congress of the United States,
17 June 1789)
Reference: Original Intent, Barton (264); original The Debates
and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, vol. 1 (520)
"Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual -- or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country." --Samuel Adams
"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed."
Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776
Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Memorial Edition), Lipscomb and
Bergh, eds., 1:29.
"We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times." --George Washington
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ
on: November 05, 2008, 08:44:05 AM
At a time when global financial risks seem larger by the day, there's one risk that's receding: tension across the Taiwan Strait.
Yesterday China and Taiwan agreed to open new air, sea and postal links. This establishes the hitherto elusive "three links" -- direct trade, transport and mail -- that the two governments have been talking about for years. They also agreed to cooperate on food safety regulation as well as to hold further talks every six months, alternating between Beijing and Taipei.
This is a détente worth celebrating. The direct sea links alone will cut shipping costs by around $36 million a year, according to estimates from Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council. This is no small change: More than 40% of Taiwanese exports went to China in 2007, and two-way trade was $130.2 billion -- yet the trade and the traders had to travel through a third country, usually Hong Kong. The number of direct charter flights will increase to 108 per week from 36, and new air routes will cut hours off flying times.
But the greatest benefit is the political truce yesterday's deal signals. Although the People's Republic has never ruled the island, China has claimed Taiwan as an integral part of its territory since 1949 and fears doing anything that might tacitly acknowledge Taiwan's independence. As recently as 1996, China fired live missiles into Taiwan's waters, and today China has more than 1,000 missiles aimed at the island.
Credit goes to Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou for smoothing the waters. Elected in March on a platform of better relations with the mainland, Mr. Ma made it clear he wanted to negotiate on cross-Strait economic, transportation and cultural links on the basis of the "1992 Consensus," under which the two sides agreed to disagree about what constitutes "China." The Chinese delegation's very presence in Taipei this week suggests negotiations on an equal footing. That's a big change.
In Opinion Journal Today
REVIEW & OUTLOOK
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I Vote No Confidence in Congress
-- Harvey GolubWe Need Sustainable Capitalism
-- Al Gore and David BloodThe Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace
-- Jeffrey Scott ShapiroMr. Ma also had to overcome significant domestic hurdles to get to this point. The new agreements are not themselves controversial. But about one-third of Taiwan citizens advocate eventual independence for the island, and many of these believe that agreements with China, a country that still considers Taiwan a "renegade province," violate the spirit of Taiwan's independence. Last month, half a million protesters gathered in Taipei to voice their discontent.
It is easier for Beijing to come to the negotiating table, particularly since Mr. Ma has kept a much lower international profile than his predecessor. Beijing's policy makers are eager to promote these talks to the Chinese public as proof for their claim that Taiwan is part of China.
The next step forward may be on banking deregulation. The presidents of Chinese state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Bank of China are part of the official delegation in Taiwan this week. Next year China and Taiwan are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding that would allow Taiwanese banks to open branches in China. Taiwan's minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, Lai Shin-yuan, told us by telephone that more decisions will be made through channels outside the high-level talks -- for example, adding new travel destinations or more flights.
For decades, the Taiwan Strait has been a flashpoint with the potential to destabilize East Asia. Taiwan needs to maintain its defense capability in case politics changes on the mainland, but today's cooperative trend is welcome.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Vote Fraud Cop shut down
on: November 04, 2008, 09:40:16 PM
Milwaukee Puts a Vote-Fraud Cop Out of Business
Local Democrats don't take the issue seriously.By JOHN FUNDArticle
Last week Mike Sandvick, head of the Milwaukee Police Department's five-man Special Investigative Unit, was told by superiors not to send anyone to polling places on Election Day. He was also told his unit -- which wrote the book on how fraud could subvert the vote in his hometown -- would be disbanded.
"We know what to look for," he told me, "and that scares some people." In disgust, Mr. Sandvick plans to retire. (A police spokeswoman claims the unit isn't being disbanded and that any changes to the unit "aren't significant.")
In February, Mr. Sandvick's unit released a 67-page report on what it called an "illegal organized attempt to influence the outcome of (the 2004) election in the state of Wisconsin" -- a swing state whose last two presidential races were decided by less than 12,000 votes.
The report found that between 4,600 and 5,300 more votes were counted in Milwaukee than the number of voters recorded as having cast ballots. Absentee ballots were cast by people living elsewhere; ineligible felons not only voted but worked at the polls; transient college students cast improper votes; and homeless voters possibly voted more than once.
Much of the problem resulted from Wisconsin's same-day voter law, which allows anyone to show up at the polls, register and then cast a ballot. ID requirements are minimal. If someone lacks any ID, he can vote so long as someone who lives in the same city vouches for him. The report found that in 2004 a total of 1,305 "same day" voters gave information that was declared "un-enterable" or invalid by election officials.
According to the report, this loophole was abused by many out-of-state workers for the John Kerry campaign. They had "other staff members who were registered voters vouch for them by corroborating their residency."
The investigative unit believed at least 16 workers from the Kerry campaign, and two allied get-out-the-vote groups, "committed felony crimes." But local prosecutors didn't pursue them in part because of a "lack of confidence" in the abysmal record-keeping of the city's Election Commission.
Pat Curley, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's chief of staff, told me he was very upset by the surprise release of the report. "I don't believe all of the facts are necessarily accurate," he said. Which ones? He only cited the report's interpretation of state policy on homeless voters. He denies the mayor's office had any role in disbanding the unit.
Mr. Sandvick says the problems his unit found in 2004 are "only the tip of the iceberg" of what could happen today. His unit has found out-of-state groups registering their temporary workers, a college dorm with 60 voters who aren't students, and what his unit believes are seven illegal absentee ballots.
In Opinion Journal today
REVIEW & OUTLOOK
Legal Side EffectsHugo Chávez's Bag ManGuantanamo Revelation
Global View – From 9/11 to 11/4Main Street – A Social Democrat Confronts Globalization
We Could Be in for a Lurch to the Left – Fred BarnesFive Myths About the Great Depression – Andrew B. WilsonSome Lessons of the Financial Crisis – Stephen SchwarzmanMilwaukee Puts a Vote-Fraud Cop Out of Business – John Fund"The time to stop voter fraud is prior to when the questionable ballot is mixed in with all the valid votes," he says. Former police captain Glenn Frankovis agrees: "This issue could be solved if [the police chief] would assign police officers to the polling locations as was customary about 20 years ago." But election monitors are now viewed as "intimidating" in minority precincts and have been withdrawn.
Mr. Sandvick's report concluded "the one thing that could eliminate a large percentage of the fraud" it found would be elimination of same-day voter registration (which is also in use in seven other states). It also suggested that voters present a photo ID at the polls, a requirement the U.S. Supreme Court declared constitutional this spring.
But weeks after the vote fraud report was released, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold introduced federal legislation to mandate same-day registration in every state. He claimed the system had worked well in Wisconsin and if "we can bring more people into the process, [it] only strengthens our democracy." Democrats tell me his bill is a top priority of the new Congress.
"They say voter fraud isn't a problem," notes Mr. Sandvick, "but after this election it may be all too clear it is." Now that Mr. Sandvick is resigning from the force after a long, honorable career, let's hope someone else is allowed to follow up on the spadework he's done.
Mr. Fund is a columnist for WSJ.com.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Significant beyond ideologies
on: November 04, 2008, 04:31:35 PM
NYTimes-- of course it neglects to mention the very real possbility that hundreds of millions of BO's money came from foreigners overseas , , ,
The ’08 Campaign: Sea Change for Politics as We Know It
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
Published: November 3, 2008
The 2008 race for the White House that comes to an end on Tuesday fundamentally upended the way presidential campaigns are fought in this country, a legacy that has almost been lost with all the attention being paid to the battle between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.
The Obama campaign’s use of the Internet to organize supporters and to reach voters has been cited as playing a large role in upending how presidential races are fought. It has rewritten the rules on how to reach voters, raise money, organize supporters, manage the news media, track and mold public opinion, and wage — and withstand — political attacks, including many carried by blogs that did not exist four years ago. It has challenged the consensus view of the American electoral battleground, suggesting that Democrats can at a minimum be competitive in states and regions that had long been Republican strongholds.
The size and makeup of the electorate could be changed because of efforts by Democrats to register and turn out new black, Hispanic and young voters. This shift may have long-lasting ramifications for what the parties do to build enduring coalitions, especially if intensive and technologically-driven voter turnout programs succeed in getting more people to the polls. Mr. McCain’s advisers expect a record-shattering turnout of 130 million people, many being brought into the political process for the first time.
“I think we’ll be analyzing this election for years as a seminal, transformative race,” said Mark McKinnon, a senior adviser to President Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004. “The year campaigns leveraged the Internet in ways never imagined. The year we went to warp speed. The year the paradigm got turned upside down and truly became bottom up instead of top down.”
To a considerable extent, Republicans and Democrats say, this is a result of the way that the Obama campaign sought to understand and harness the Internet (and other forms of so-called new media) to organize supporters and to reach voters who no longer rely primarily on information from newspapers and television. The platforms included YouTube, which did not exist in 2004, and the cellphone text messages that the campaign was sending out to supporters on Monday to remind them to vote.
“We did some very innovative things on the data side, and we did some Internet,” said Sara Taylor, who was the White House political director during Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign. “But only 40 percent of the country had broadband back then. You now have people who don’t have home telephones anymore. And Obama has done a tremendous job of waging a campaign through the new media challenge.
“I don’t know about you, but I see an Obama Internet ad every day. And I have for six months.”
Even more crucial to the way this campaign has transformed politics has been Mr. Obama’s success at using the Internet to build a huge network of contributors that permitted him to raise enough money — after declining to participate in the public financing system — to expand the map and compete in traditionally Republican states.
No matter who wins the election, Republicans and Democrats say, Mr. Obama’s efforts in places like Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia — organizing and advertising to voters who previously had little exposure to Democratic ideas and candidates — will force future candidates to think differently.
“The great impact that this election will have for the future is that it killed public financing for all time,” said Mr. McCain’s chief campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt. “That means the next Republican presidential campaign, hopefully a re-election for John McCain, will need to be a billion-dollar affair to challenge what the Democrats have accomplished with the use of the Internet and viral marketing to communicate and raise money.”
“It was a profound leap forward technologically,” Mr. Schmidt added. “Republicans will have to figure out how to compete with this in order to become competitive again at a national level and in House and Senate races.”
This transformation did not happen this year alone. In 2000, Mr. Bush’s campaign, lead by Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, pioneered the use of microtargeting to find and appeal to potential new supporters. In 2004, the presidential campaign of Howard Dean was widely credited with being the first to see the potential power of the Internet to raise money and sign up volunteers, a platform that Mr. Obama tremendously expanded.
“They were Apollo 11, and we were the Wright Brothers,” said Joe Trippi, the manager of Mr. Dean’s campaign.
Terry Nelson, who was the political director of the Bush campaign in 2004, said that the evolution was challenging campaign operatives who worked for every presidential campaign, and would continue in 2012 and beyond.
“We are in the midst of a fundamental transformation of how campaigns are run,” Mr. Nelson said. “And it’s not over yet.”
The changes go beyond what Mr. Obama did and reflect a cultural shift in voters, producing an audience that is at once better informed, more skeptical and, from reading blogs, sometimes trafficking in rumors or suspect information. As a result, this new electorate tends to be more questioning of what it is told by campaigns and often uses the Web to do its own fact-checking.
“You do focus groups and people say, ‘I saw that ad and I went to this Web site to check it,’ ” said David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager. “They are policing the campaigns.”
Mr. Schmidt said the speed and diversity of the news cycle had broken down the traditional way that voters received information and had given campaigns opportunities, and challenges, in trying to manage the news.
“The news cycle is hyperaccelerated and driven by new players on the landscape, like Politico and Huffington Post, which cause competition for organizations like The A.P. where there is a high premium on being first,” he said. “This hyperaccelerates a cable-news cycle driven to conflict and drama and trivia.”
Among the biggest changes this year is the intense new interest in politics, reflected in jumps in voters registration, early voting and attendance at Mr. Obama’s rallies. To no small extent, that is a reflection on the unusual interest stirred by his campaign. Thus, it is hardly clear that a future candidate who appropriated all the innovations that Mr. Obama and his campaign tried would necessarily have the same success as Mr. Obama.
“Without the candidate who excites people,” Mr. Plouffe said, “you can have the greatest strategy and machinery and it won’t matter.”
Mr. Trippi, who worked for one of Mr. Obama’s rivals in the Democratic primary, former Senator John Edwards, said: “It has all come together for one guy, Barack Obama. But now that it’s happened, it’s a permanent change.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Buchanan
on: November 04, 2008, 04:18:26 PM
But Where Did Bush Go Wrong?
by Patrick J. Buchanan
After losing control of the Senate and 30 House seats in 2006, the GOP is bracing for losses of six to nine in the Senate, and two dozen to three dozen additional seats in the House. If the party "were a dog food," says Rep. Tom Davis, "they would take us off the shelf." Bush's approval is 25 percent. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton left office with ratings more than twice as high. But while John McCain and others have deplored the Bush failures, what, exactly, did he do wrong?
What were the policy blunders to which Republicans vehemently objected at the time?
That Bush is a Big Government Republican is undeniable. His two great social spending initiatives, prescription drug benefits for seniors under Medicare and No Child Left Behind, so testify. But how many Republicans opposed Bush on these initiatives? How many have called for the abolition of either program, or for raising payroll taxes to pay for prescription drugs?
McCain now supports the Bush judges and justices and the Bush tax cuts, as do almost all Republicans.
True, Bush sought amnesty for illegal aliens and backs the free-trade globalism that exported our manufacturing base and 3 million to 4 million jobs. But McCain is even more enthusiastic about both.
Does the party dissent on free trade and mass immigration?
Two-thirds of Americans now believe the Iraq war a mistake. Yet, all but a few Republicans backed the war. At the time of "Mission Accomplished!" in May 2003, the nation gave Bush a 90 percent approval rating, as his father had after Desert Storm.
What turned America against the war was not the decision to invade, oust Saddam, destroy the weapons of mass destruction and depart, but the long, bloody slog, the five-year war, with nearly 5,000 dead, that Iraq became. It was not the lightning war of Tommy Franks, with journalists riding tanks into Baghdad, that soured America, but the unanticipated duration and cost of the war.
Yet, Republicans still believe that the war was not a mistake, only mishandled. And now that Gen. Petraeus got it right in Iraq, they say, we should pursue the Petraeus policy in Afghanistan.
How many Republicans have repudiated the Bush Doctrine that got us into Iraq -- the belief that only by making the world democratic can we keep America secure and free?
Americans no longer believe that, if ever they did. And history proves them right. For Iraq has never been democratic, and America has always been free. Yet, the Republican Party has never renounced the Bush Doctrine
Indeed, it is being applied today in Afghanistan.
That war, too, after we failed at Tora Bora to capture or kill bin Laden, has become a long slog to create a democratic Afghanistan, which, like a democratic Iraq, has never before existed.
In Afghanistan, we are entering the eighth year of war with victory further away than ever. The Taliban grows stronger. U.S. casualties are surging. Opium exports are breaking records. Our NATO allies grow weary. Even the Brits are talking of reconciliation with the Taliban, perhaps accepting a dictator.
These two wars helped to cripple the Bush presidency and end the GOP ascendancy. Yet, at the highest levels of the party, one hears no serious questioning of the ideology that produced these wars. McCain has pledged to stay in Iraq until "victory" and send 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
Nor have Republicans objected to the U.S. air strikes that have killed hundreds of Afghans, or the Predator strikes that have inflamed Pakistan or the helicopter raid into Syria that humiliated Damascus and enraged the population. If Republicans disagree with these policies and actions, their voices are muted.
Bush is for facing down Russia and bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Does any Republican disagree? For McCain is more hawkish than Bush when it come to Moscow.
The party says it is losing because the economy went south. But who caused that? Was it not because Republicans colluded with Democrats in pushing "affordable housing," subprime mortgages, for folks who could not afford houses? Is the GOP prepared to demand tough terms for home loans? Was it not GOP presidents who appointed the Fed chairmen who pumped up the money supply and created the bubble? How many Republicans objected to the easy money when the going was good?
The country wishes to be rid of the Bush policies and the Bush presidency. But where does the Republican Party think Bush went wrong, other than to be asleep at the wheel during Katrina?
The GOP needs to confront the truth: The failure of the Bush presidency lies not in a failed execution of policy but in the policies themselves and the neoconservative ideology that informed them. Yet, still, the party remains in denial, refusing to come to terms with the causes of its misfortune. One expects they will be given the time and opportunity for reflection soon.
"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Vote Fraud (ACORN et al)
on: November 04, 2008, 02:28:39 PM
GOP Election Board members have been tossed out of polling stations in at least half a dozen polling stations in Philadelphia because of their party status.
A Pennsylvania judge previously ruled that court-appointed poll watchers could be NOT removed from their boards by an on-site election judge, but that is exactly what is happening, according to sources on the ground.
It is the duty of election board workers to monitor and guard the integrity of the voting process.
Denying access to the minority (in this case Republican) poll watchers and inspectors is a violation of Pennsylvania state law. Those who violate the law can be punished with a misdemeanor and subjected to a fine of $1,000 and sent to prison between one month and two years.
Those on site are describing the situation as "pandemonium" and there may be video coming of the chaos.
Some of the precincts where Republicans have been removed are: the 44th Ward, 12th and 13th divisions; 6th Ward, 12th division; 32nd Ward, Division 28.
“Election board officials guard the legitimacy of the election process and the idea that Republicans are being intimidated and banned for partisan purposes does not allow for an honest and open election process,” said McCain-Palin spokesman Ben Porritt in a statement to Townhall.
The City of Brotherly Love was roiled in controversy during the 2004 election because of rigged voting machines that showed nearly 2,000 votes for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry before the polls had opened. A man also used a gun to intimidate poll workers at Ward 30, division 11 in 2004.
Update: Fox News just did a report about the controversy. The Democrats are saying that the polling station is crowded and election board members need to cycle through the areas intermittently.
Update 10:53am: Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes says this matter is already being heard in court and should be resolved soon. He says there was a dispute of the names of the poll watchers on record. This is a different story than the Democratic officials told Fox News earlier this morning.
Possible voter intimidation in Philadelphia:http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=213103
The police arrive:http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=213313&widget=1
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread
on: November 01, 2008, 05:24:01 AM
"I made the key points above. And she is not worth fighting or wasting time over. And I acknowledged that I like and respect Lou Dobbs; isn't that enough of a bone for you wolves? "
Umm , , , no
T0 make a POINT, you would have to back up your ASSERTIONS, assertions of things which are quite ugly btw, which you simply have not done. While I agree she can enjoy playing the provocateur (so what?) I enjoy reading MM most of the time find her to be someone who goes after liberal lunacies and specious liberal thinking. So before I throw her under the bus
as a racist bigot it is going to take more than what you´ve produced so far.