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24101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's military budget on: March 02, 2009, 03:32:10 AM
For all of his lavish new spending plans, President Obama is making one major exception: defense. His fiscal 2010 budget telegraphs that Pentagon spending is going to be under pressure in the years going forward.

The White House proposes to spend $533.7 billion on the Pentagon, a 4% increase over 2009. Include spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, which would be another $130 billion (or a total of $664 billion), and overall defense spending would be around 4.2% of GDP, the same as 2007.

APHowever, that 4% funding increase for the Pentagon trails the 6.7% overall rise in the 2010 budget -- and defense received almost nothing extra in the recent stimulus bill. The Joint Chiefs requested $584 billion for 2010 and have suggested a spending floor of 4% of GDP. Both pleas fell on deaf ears. The White House budget puts baseline defense spending at 3.7% of GDP, not including Iraq and Afghanistan. The budget summary pleads "scarce resources" for the defense shortfall, which is preposterous given the domestic spending blowout.

More ominously, Mr. Obama's budget has overall defense spending falling sharply starting in future years -- to $614 billion in 2011, and staying more or less flat for a half decade. This means that relative both to the economy and especially to domestic priorities, defense spending is earmarked to decline. Some of this assumes less spending on Iraq, which is realistic, but it also has to take account of Mr. Obama's surge in Afghanistan. That war won't be cheap either.

The danger is that Mr. Obama may be signaling a return to the defense mistakes of the 1990s. Bill Clinton slashed defense spending to 3% of GDP in 2000, from 4.8% in 1992. We learned on 9/11 that 3% isn't nearly enough to maintain our commitments and fight a war on terror -- and President Bush spent his two terms getting back to more realistic outlays for a global superpower.

American defense needs are, if anything, even more daunting today. Given challenges in the Mideast and new dangers from Iran, an erratic Russia, a rising China, and potential threats in outer space and cyberspace, the U.S. should be in the midst of a concerted military modernization. Mr. Obama's budget isn't adequate to meet those challenges.

That means Secretary of Defense Robert Gates faces some hard choices when he finishes his strategic review this spring. An early glimpse will come soon when the Pentagon must decide whether to continue to purchase more Lockheed F-22 Raptors. The Air Force is set to buy 183 of the next generation fighters, though it wanted 750, which would be enough to give the U.S. air supremacy over battlefields over the next three decades. Now the fighter may be prematurely mothballed.

Weapons programs, such as missile defense or the Army's Future Combat Systems, are also in danger. Others have been ridiculously delayed. The Air Force flies refueling tankers from the Eisenhower era. Mr. Obama's own 30-something Marine One helicopter is prone to break down and technologically out of date.

The Pentagon shouldn't get a blank check, though much of its procurement waste results from the demands made by Congress. Mr. Gates has also rightly focused on the immediate priority of irregular warfare and counterinsurgency. But history also teaches that a nation that downplays potential threats -- such as from China in outer space -- is likely to find itself ill-prepared when they arrive.

The U.S. ability to project power abroad has been crucial to maintaining a relatively peaceful world, but we have been living off the fruits of our Cold War investments for too long. We can't afford another lost defense decade.

24102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Volker on: March 02, 2009, 12:25:12 AM
I really feel a sense of profound disappointment coming up here. We are having a great financial problem around the world. And finance doesn't work without some sense of trust and confidence and people meaning what they say. You take their oral word and their written word as a sign that their intentions will be carried out.

The letter of invitation I had to this affair indicated that there would be about 40 people here, people with whom I could have an intimate conversation. So I feel a bit betrayed this evening. Forty has swelled to I don't know how many, and I don't know how intimate our conversation can be. But I will, at the very least, be informal.

There is a certain interest in what's going on in the financial world. And I will disappoint you by saying I don't know all the answers. But I know something about the problem. Let me just sketch it out a little bit and suggest where we may be going. There is a lot of talk about how we get out of this, but I think it's worth remembering, or analyzing, how this all started.

This is not an ordinary recession. I have never, in my lifetime, seen a financial problem of this sort. It has the makings of something much more serious than an ordinary recession where you go down for a while and then you bounce up and it's partly a monetary - but a self-correcting - phenomenon. The ordinary recession does not bring into question the stability and the solidity of the whole financial system. Why is it that this is so much more profound a crisis? I'm not saying it's going to get anywhere as serious as the Great Depression, but that was not an ordinary business cycle either.

This phenomenon can be traced back at least five or six years. We had, at that time, a major underlying imbalance in the world economy. The American proclivity to consume was in full force. Our consumption rate was about 5% higher, relative to our GNP or what our production normally is. Our spending - consumption, investment, government -- was running about 5% or more above our production, even though we were more or less at full employment.

You had the opposite in China and Asia, generally, where the Chinese were consuming maybe 40% of their GNP - we consumed 70% of our GNP. They had a lot of surplus dollars because they had a lot of exports. Their exports were feeding our consumption and they were financing it very nicely with very cheap money. That was a very convenient but unsustainable situation. The money was so easy, funds were so easily available that there was, in effect, a kind of incentive to finding ways to spend it.

When we finished with the ordinary ways of spending it - with the help of our new profession of financial engineering - we developed ways of making weaker and weaker mortgages. The biggest investment in the economy was residential housing. And we developed a technique of manufacturing class D mortgages but putting them in packages which the financial engineers said were class A.

So there was an enormous incentive to take advantage of this bit of arbitrage - cheap money, poor mortgages but saleable mortgages. A lot of people made money through this process. I won't go over all the details, but you had then a normal business cycle on top of it. It was a period of enthusiasm. Everybody was feeling exuberant. They wanted to invest and spend.

You had a bubble first in the stock market and then in the housing market. You had a big increase in housing prices in the United States, held up by these new mortgages. It was true in other countries as well, but particularly in the United States. It was all fine for a while, but of course, eventually, the house prices levelled off and began going down. At some point people began getting nervous and the whole process stopped because they realized these mortgages were no good.

You might ask how it went on as long as it did. The grading agencies didn't do their job and the banks didn't do their job and the accountants went haywire. I have my own take on this. There were two things that were particularly contributory and very simple. Compensation practices had gotten totally out of hand and spurred financial people to aim for a lot of short-term money without worrying about the eventual consequences. And then there was this obscure financial engineering that none of them understood, but all their mathematical experts were telling them to trust. These two things carried us over the brink.

One of the saddest days of my life was when my grandson - and he's a particularly brilliant grandson - went to college. He was good at mathematics. And after he had been at college for a year or two I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He said, "I want to be a financial engineer." My heart sank. Why was he going to waste his life on this profession?

A year or so ago, my daughter had seen something in the paper, some disparaging remarks I had made about financial engineering. She sent it to my grandson, who normally didn't communicate with me very much. He sent me an email, "Grandpa, don't blame it on us! We were just following the orders we were getting from our bosses." The only thing I could do was send him back an email, "I will not accept the Nuremberg excuse."

There was so much opaqueness, so many complications and misunderstandings involved in very complex financial engineering by people who, in my opinion, did not know financial markets. They knew mathematics. They thought financial markets obeyed mathematical laws. They have found out differently now. You know, they all said these events only happen once every hundred years. But we have "once every hundred years" events happening every year or two, which tells me something is the matter with the analysis.

So I think we have a problem which is not an ordinary business cycle problem. It is much more difficult to get out of and it has shaken the foundations of our financial institutions. The system is broken. I'm not going to linger over what to do about it. It is very difficult. It is going to take a lot of money and a lot of losses in the banking system. It is not unique to the United States. It is probably worse in the UK and it is just about as bad in Europe and it has infected other economies as well. Canada is relatively less infected, for reasons that are consistent with the direction in which I think the financial markets and financial institutions should go.

So I'll jump over the short-term process, which is how we get out of the mess, and consider what we should be aiming for when we get out of the mess. That, in turn, might help instruct the kind of action we should be taking in the interim to get out of it.

In the United States, in the UK, as well - and potentially elsewhere - things are partly being held together by totally extraordinary actions by a central bank. In the United States, it's the Federal Reserve, in London, the Bank of England. They are providing direct credit to markets in massive volume, in a way that contradicts all the traditions and laws that have governed central banking behaviour for a hundred years.

So what are we aiming for? I mention this because I recently chaired a report on this. It was part of the so-called Group of 30, which has got some attention. It's a long and rather turgid report but let me simplify what the conclusion is, which I will state more boldly than the report itself does.

In the future, we are going to need a financial system which is not going to be so prone to crisis and certainly will not be prone to the severity of a crisis of this sort. Financial systems always fluctuate and go up and down and have crises, but let's not have a big crisis that undermines the whole economy. And if that's the kind of financial system we want and should have, it's going to be different from the financial system that has developed in the last 20 years.

What do I mean by different? I think a primary characteristic of the system ought to be a strong, traditional, commercial banking-type system. Probably we ought to have some very large institutions - or at least that's the way the market is going - whose primary purpose is a kind of fiduciary responsibility to service consumers, individuals, businesses and governments by providing outlets for their money and by providing credit. They ought to be the core of the credit and financial system.

This kind of system was in place in the United States thirty years ago and is still in place in Canada, and may have provided support for the Canadian system during this particularly difficult time. I'm not arguing that you need an oligopoly to the extent you have one in Canada, but you do know by experience that these big commercial banking institutions will be protected by the government, de facto. No government has been willing to permit these institutions, or the creditors and depositors to these institutions, to be damaged. They recognize that the damage to the economy would be too great.

What has happened recently just underscores that. And I think we're at the point where we can no longer fool ourselves by saying that is not the case. The government will support these institutions, which in turn implies a closer supervision and regulation of those institutions, a more effective regulation than we've had, at least in the United States, in the recent past. And that may involve a lot of different agencies and so forth. I won't get into that.

But I think it does say that those institutions should not engage in highly risky entrepreneurial activity. That's not their job because it brings into question the stability of the institution. They may make a lot of money and they may have a lot of fun, in the short run. It may encourage pursuit of a profit in the short run. But it is not consistent with the stability that those institutions should be about. It's not consistent at all with avoiding conflict of interest.

These institutions that have arisen in the United States and the UK that combine hedge funds, equity funds, large proprietary trading with commercial banks, have enormous conflicts of interest. And I think the conflicts of interest contribute to their instability. So I would say let's get rid of that. Let's have big and small commercial banks and protect them - it's the service part of the financial system.

And then we have the other part, which I'll call the capital market system, which by and large isn't directly dealing with customers. They're dealing with each other. They're trading. They're about hedge funds and equity funds. And they have a function in providing fluid markets and innovating and providing some flexibility, and I don't think they need to be so highly regulated. They're not at the core of the system, unless they get really big. If they get really big then you have to regulate them, too. But I don't think we need to have close regulation of every peewee hedge fund in the world.

So you have this bifurcated - in a sense - financial system that implies a lot about regulation and national governments. If you're going to have an open system, you have got to get much more cooperation and coordination from different countries. I think that's possible, given what we're going through. You've got to do something about the infrastructure of the system and you have to worry about the credit rating agencies.

These banks were relying on credit rating agencies while putting these big packages of securities together and selling them. They had practically - they would never admit this - given up credit departments in their own institutions that were sophisticated and well-developed. That was a cost centre - why do we need it, they thought. Obviously that hasn't worked out very well.

We have to look at the accounting system. We have to look at the system for dealing with derivatives and how they're settled. So there are a lot of systemic issues. The main point I'm making is that we want to emerge from this with a more stable system. It will be less exciting for many people, but it will not warrant - I don't think the present system does, either -- $50 million dollar paydays in that central part of the system. Or even $25 or $100 million dollar paydays. If somebody can go out and gamble and make that money, okay. But don't gamble with the public's money. And that's an important distinction.

It's interesting that what I'm arguing for looks more like the Canadian system than the American system. When we delivered this report in a press conference, people said, "Oh you mean, banks won't be able to have hedge funds? What are you talking about?" That same day, Citigroup announced, "We want to get rid of all that stuff. We now realize it was a mistake. We want to go back to our roots and be a real commercial bank." I don't know whether they'll do that or not. But the fact that one of the leading proponents of the other system basically said, "We give up. It's not the right system," is interesting.

So let me just leave it at that. We've got more than 40 people here but they're permitted to ask questions, is that the deal?
24103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sleep walking dog on: March 01, 2009, 11:49:54 PM
24104  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio en los riesgos de ser heroe on: March 01, 2009, 11:45:36 PM
Gracias por entrar la platica  smiley


?Como sentirias en tu corazon al hacer nada?

?Como sentirias si tu mujer o tu hijo te viera hacer nada?
24105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 01, 2009, 08:18:05 PM
A scathing piece of political humor. THIS is the way forward for we of the American Creed.
24106  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio en los riesgos de ser heroe on: March 01, 2009, 06:28:00 PM
Se ve mejor en ese clip:

y unos cosas mas en este:
24107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hayek on: March 01, 2009, 03:45:13 PM
Friedrich A. Hayek in "The Constitution of Liberty" (1960), on the myth that progressive tax rates are necessary to fund large increases in government spending, lest an intolerable burden be placed on the poor:

Not only is the revenue derived from the high rates levied on large incomes, particularly in the highest brackets, so small compared with the total revenue as to make hardly any difference to the burden borne by the rest; but for a long time . . . it was not the poorest who benefited from it but entirely the better-off working class and the lower strata of the middle class who provided the largest number of voters.

It would probably be true, on the other hand, to say that the illusion that by means of progressive taxation the burden can be shifted substantially onto the shoulders of the wealthy has been the chief reason why taxation has increased as fast as it has done and that, under the influence of this illusion, the masses have come to accept a much heavier load than they would have done otherwise. The only major result of the policy has been the severe limitation of the incomes that could be earned by the most successful and thereby gratification of the envy of the less-well-off.

24108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Just say "No!" on: March 01, 2009, 03:44:13 PM

Recently, a firestorm ignited in Wisconsin when I, as Milwaukee County executive, refused to submit a wish list to Gov. Jim Doyle for items in the federal "stimulus" package.

Gov. Doyle -- like other politicians -- had lined up at the federal trough begging for billions in "free money" to cover budget deficits and to fuel new spending. He and others simply couldn't understand and were outraged that I didn't join them, and that I didn't relent even after the president signed the stimulus bill into law.

My explanation is simple. First, this money isn't free. Second, under Gov. Doyle our state has borrowed vast sums of money and avoided making tough budget decisions while expanding government programs. In three biannual budgets since he took office in 2003, new state bonding exceeded new tax revenue collections by $2.1 billion. During good times, the governor had been borrowing money to underwrite expansions of health care, education and environmental programs. If he is bailed out now, the federal stimulus funds will only enable the governor and others to go on spending and even taking on new obligations that will lead to larger deficits down the road. Third, if we grow government rather than private-sector jobs, we will not help the economy. Strong leadership, honest budgeting and tax cuts would do a lot more.

This burst housing bubble that led to the recession was created when millions of people were allowed (or encouraged) to spend borrowed money on homes they couldn't afford and were later forced into foreclosure.

Apparently Washington politicians learned nothing from this process. They rushed to spend $787 billion of borrowed money on new government programs in the name of economic stimulus. But even this loan of taxpayer money -- essentially the largest mortgage in history -- will come due. When it does, our children and grandchildren will pay for this imprudence.

As popular as the federal "stimulus" package is with Washington politicians, it is more popular among state and local politicians who view federal money as a cure for their fiscal woes.

Wisconsin is afflicted with fiscal woes. In every budget he has signed, Gov. Doyle postponed difficult decisions using accounting gimmicks and excessive bonding to pay for ongoing operational costs. The most egregious example is the damage done to the transportation fund over the past six years, which uses state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees to fund road projects. The governor has raided the segregated fund for a total of $1.2 billion to cover ongoing operational costs for government programs. He's partially replaced the raided funds with $865.5 million in bonds.

As a result of borrowing against tomorrow to live for today, the governor left Wisconsin's budget vulnerable. So in the fall of 2008 when recession caused a sharp decline in tax revenue, the state was forced into the red.

Wisconsin now faces an unprecedented $5.75 billion budget deficit, fourth-largest in the nation. Many municipalities also face deficits. My county, however, finished fiscal year 2007 with a $7.9 million surplus and will break even for fiscal year 2008 when the books are closed next month. Why? Because we made tough budget decisions demanded by the taxpayers.

State and local officials who failed to do so are looking to the federal government for a bailout. But what happens when the stimulus money is gone? Is the federal government committed to funding the projects it will now underwrite forever? I'm not willing to bet on it.

The stimulus is a classic bait-and-switch. Once the highways are built and social-service case loads have increased, Wisconsin will be left with the bill to maintain the new roads and services. This will force Wisconsin to raise new taxes. Gov. Doyle and legislative Democrats are already discussing higher taxes on hospitals, retailers, employers and even Internet downloads to feed their spending addiction.

The stimulus is also a bait-and-switch on employment. While the stimulus package might create a few construction jobs, the federal money will run out and those workers will lose their jobs. Even worse, most of the money is actually spent on new government programs and on bailing out failed state and local governments.

For the vast majority of residents of my state, the stimulus funds will not help them pay the mortgage or replenish their depleted retirement savings as they worry about being laid off.

True economic stimulus creates sustainable private-sector jobs. The fastest, most effective way to create them is to reduce taxes and implement regulatory and fiscal policies that encourage job growth and economic investment. History has shown repeatedly from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan that as taxes are cut, consumers spend more and investors put more money in the economy. This, in turn, creates jobs, and grows the economy.

Too many politicians confuse more government spending with economic recovery. I believe that's the wrong approach, and I will not submit a wish list for new government spending. Excessive spending will only lead to higher taxes, and that will drive jobs away when we need them the most.

We need to use these challenging times as an opportunity to streamline government and reduce the tax burden on working families. In 2002, during my first campaign for county executive, I promised to spend taxpayer money as if it were my own. If government -- at all levels -- were to do just that, we could reduce taxes and stimulate the economy. That would put people back to work again. And that is something on my wish list.

Mr. Walker, a Republican, is Milwaukee County executive.
24109  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio en los riesgos de ser heroe on: March 01, 2009, 08:26:11 AM
100% de acuerdo Cecilio.

Por flojera  rolleyes uso un programa de traduccion para traducir algo que originalmente escribi' en ingles.  Ojala que sea entendible:


Algunas observaciones iniciales rápidas:

A) En 0:04 vemos a un hombre empuja un botón para abrir la puerta al tren. He visto esto en Suiza (y presumiblemente en otra parte en Europa) pero nunca en EEUU;

B) ?Héroe veia problema comenzar en el coche de tren?

C) En 0:14 nota número varias héroes potenciales siguen al Tipo Malo fuera de la puerta inmediatamente -- que sugiere clamor que general puede haber iniciado -- quizás esto explica la firmeza rápida de Héroe como él abre su puerta y los bustos un movimiento con virtualmente no vacilación;¿

D) 0:18 Ya tiene tiene cuchillo en la mano Tipo Malo?  La calidad visual pobre lo hace duro para mí decir. Si sí, entonces Heroe no lo vio.  ¿Lo conseguir acceso al Tipo si no, entonces cuándo Malo?  Sospecho que el cuchillo fue ya en la mano basada sobre la reacción del hombre que lleva la ropa limpiada en seco.  No prueba cierta, pero sugestiva.

E) 0:19 La patada voladora sugiere la entrenamiento martial a mí.  Sí es desaliñado, pero sirve su propósito a romper BG corre. ¿Yo no pienso que una persona no capacitada habría tratado esto, pero quizás en Europa donde muchas personas poseen excelentes habilidades de fútbol?  Note el movimiento prudente Malo de Tipo que apuñala en la patada voladora de héroe -- indicando él probablemente tuvo el cuchillo en la mano ya.

F) 0:24 vemos una respuesta instintiva típica de tipo que lucha cuerpo a cuerpo; Tipo Malo ya hace la Máquina de coser de la Prisión. Los ataques son reconocidos como que ataques de cuchillo bastante rápidamente y el Héroe ya han soltado su asidero en 0:29. Esto parece a mí ser una reacción rápida bonita. He visto longitud en pies de personas ni dar cuenta de.

G) En los segundos finales nosotros conseguimos una vista buena de un cuchillo bastante grande.

El comentario adicional: Por mi sentido del mundo, excepcional aquí está el número de personas que responden por avanzar vigorosamente.

Mi ingles original:

Some quick initial observations:

a) at 0:04 we see a man push a button to open the door to the train.  I've seen this in Switzerland (and presumably elsewhere in Europe) but never in the US;

b) Did Hero see problem start in the train car?

c)  At 0:14 note various potential heroes follow the Bad Guy out of the door immediately-- which suggests general hue and cry may have initiated-- perhaps this explains the rapid decisiveness of Hero as he opens his door and busts a move with virtually no hesitation;

d)  0:18  Does Bad Guy have knife in hand?  Poor visual quality makes it hard for me to tell.  If yes, then H missed it.  If not, then when did Bad Guy access it?  I suspect the knife was already in the hand based upon the reaction of the man carrying the dry-cleaned clothes.  Not proof certain, but suggestive.

e) 0:19   The flying kick suggests training to me.  Yes it is sloppy, but it serves its purpose in breaking BG's sprint.  I do not think an untrained person would have tried this, but perhaps in Europe where many people possess excellent soccer skills?  Note the Bad Guy’s  forehanded stabbing motion at the hero’s flying kick-- indicating he probably had the knife in hand already.

f) 0:24   We see a typical instinctive grappling type response; Bad Guy is already doing the Prison Sewing Machine.  The attacks are recognized as knife attacks quite quickly and Hero has already released his hold at 0:29.  This seems to me to be a pretty quick reaction.  I've seen footage of people not even realizing.

g) In the final seconds we get a pretty good view of a rather large knife.

Additional comment:  Per my sense of the world, unusual here is the number of people who respond by vigorously coming forward.

24110  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Ischio-Condylar on: March 01, 2009, 08:11:07 AM
"The IC (Ischio-Condylar) or Adductor magnus is the third Piton in the pelvic stabilizer triad."

Please expand upon this!!!

Do you have a URL of a picture of it?
24111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: March 01, 2009, 08:01:56 AM
Top Mexico police charged with favoring drug cartel

02:49 PM CST on Saturday, January 24, 2009
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – President Felipe Calderon's war on drug trafficking has led to his own doorstep, with the arrest of a dozen high-ranking officials with alleged ties to Mexico's most powerful drug gang, the Sinaloa Cartel.

The U.S. praises Calderon for rooting out corruption at the top. But critics say the arrests reveal nothing more than a timeworn government tactic of protecting one cartel and cracking down on others.

Operation Clean House comes just as the U.S. is giving Mexico its first installment of $400 million in equipment and technology to fight drugs. Most will go to a beefed-up federal police agency run by the same people whose top aides have been arrested as alleged Sinaloa spies.

"If there is anything worse than a corrupt and ill-equipped cop, it is a corrupt and well-equipped cop," said criminal justice expert Jorge Chabat, who studies the drug trade.

U.S. drug enforcement agents say they have no qualms about sending support to Mexico.

"We've been working with the Mexican government for decades at the DEA," said Garrison Courtney, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Obviously, we ensure that the individuals we work with are vetted."

Agents who conduct raids have long suspected Mexican government ties to Sinaloa, and rival drug gangs have advertised the alleged connection in banners hung from freeways. While raids against the rival Gulf cartel have netted suspects, those against Sinaloa almost always came up empty – or worse, said Agent Oscar Granados Salero of the Federal Investigative Agency, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI.

"Whenever we were trying to serve arrest warrants, they were already waiting for us, and a lot of colleagues lost their lives that way," Salero said.

The U.S. government estimates that the cartels smuggle $15 billion to $20 billion in drug money across the border each year.

Over the last five months, officials from the Mexican Attorney General's office, the federal police and even Mexico's representatives to Interpol have been detained on suspicion of acting as spies for Sinaloa or its one-time ally, the Beltran Leyva gang. An officer who served in Calderon's presidential guard was detained in December on suspicion of spying for Beltran Leyva.

Gerardo Garay, formerly the acting federal police chief, is accused of protecting the Beltran Leyva brothers and stealing money from a mansion during an October drug raid. Former drug czar Noe Ramirez, who was supposed to serve as point man in Calderon's anti-drug fight, is accused of taking $450,000 from Sinaloa.

Most of such tips are coming from a Mexican federal agent who infiltrated the U.S. embassy for the Beltran Leyva drug cartel. No such infiltrators have been found for the Gulf cartel, which controls most drug shipments in eastern Mexico and Central America. Sinaloa controls Pacific and western routes.

The DEA's Courtney agrees that there has been a greater crackdown on the Gulf Cartel in both the U.S. and Mexico, with more than 600 members of the gang arrested in September. But he declined to answer questions about Mexico favoring Sinaloa.

Calderon has long acknowledged corruption as an obstacle to his offensive, which involved sending more than 20,000 soldiers to battle drug trafficking throughout the country. The U.S. aid plan includes technology aimed at improving the way Mexico vets and supervises police.

The president vows to create a "new generation of police," consolidating agencies under Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, who heads all federal law enforcement.

That's what worries Granados Salero and other agents. So many of Garcia Luna's associates are under suspicion of Sinaloa ties that many wonder how he could not have known.

Calderon has publicly backed Garcia Luna, calling him "a man of great capacity."

"Obviously, if there was any doubt about his honesty, or any evidence that would call into question his honesty, he would certainly no longer be the secretary of public safety," the president said recently.

But some see the alleged Sinaloa ties with Garcia Luna's lieutenants as an old tactic used widely under the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years with a tight fist. Officials in the past preferred to deal with one strong cartel rather than many warring gangs – what Calderon faces now. More than 5,300 people died in drug-related slayings in 2008.

"I fear that Secretary Garcia Luna ... is working on the idea that once one cartel consolidates itself as the winner, that is, Sinaloa, the violence is going to drop," said organized crime expert Edgardo Buscaglia, who tracks federal police arrests and has studied law enforcement agencies' written reports.

Garcia Luna has denied being involved in corruption. He has acknowledged that authorities in the past chose the path of managing cartels. But in an interview with the newspaper El Sol, he said that approach only strengthens the gangs in the long run.

Others say the high number of Sinaloa infiltrators is a reflection of the two cartels' very different styles.

The Gulf cartel is led by military-trained hit men so violent that they reportedly planned to attack even U.S. law enforcement agencies.

"They don't necessarily try to build networks of corruption. They prefer networks of intimidation," said Monte Alejandro Rubido, who leads Mexico's multi-agency National Security System.

Sinaloa, on the other hand, appears to use bribery and infiltration at least as much as its gunmen. Cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman bribed his way out of a Mexican prison in 2001, provoking suspicions the government was on his side.

Many Mexicans worry about giving so much money and power to a still corrupt force. Of more than 56,000 local and state police officers evaluated between January and October last year, fewer than half met the recommended qualifications, Calderon reported to Congress in early December. No similar numbers are available for federal police.

Agents like Granados Salero wonder who is in charge of police integrity.

"We agents find out about a lot of things," he said, "but who can we turn to?"
24112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: March 01, 2009, 07:56:48 AM

Professor Called Police After Student Presentation
Posted by admin on 2/24/09

For CCSU student John Wahlberg, a class presentation on campus violence turned into a confrontation with the campus police due to a complaint by the professor.

On October 3, 2008, Wahlberg and two other classmates prepared to give an oral presentation for a Communication 140 class that was required to discuss a “relevant issue in the media”. Wahlberg and his group chose to discuss school violence due to recent events such as the Virginia Tech shootings that occurred in 2007.

Shortly after his professor, Paula Anderson, filed a complaint with the CCSU Police against her student. During the presentation Wahlberg made the point that if students were permitted to conceal carry guns on campus, the violence could have been stopped earlier in many of these cases. He also touched on the controversial idea of free gun zones on college campuses.

That night at work, Wahlberg received a message stating that the campus police “requested his presence”. Upon entering the police station, the officers began to list off firearms that were registered under his name, and questioned him about where he kept them.

They told Wahlberg that they had received a complaint from his professor that his presentation was making students feel “scared and uncomfortable”.

“I was a bit nervous when I walked into the police station,” Wahlberg said, “but I felt a general sense of disbelief once the officer actually began to list the firearms registered in my name. I was never worried however, because as a law-abiding gun owner, I have a thorough understanding of state gun laws as well as unwavering safety practices.”

Professor Anderson refused to comment directly on the situation and deferred further comment.

“It is also my responsibility as a teacher to protect the well being of our students, and the campus community at all times,” she wrote in a statement submitted to The Recorder. “As such, when deemed necessary because of any perceived risks, I seek guidance and consultation from the Chair of my Department, the Dean and any relevant University officials.”

Wahlberg believes that her complaint was filed without good reason.

“I don’t think that Professor Anderson was justified in calling the CCSU police over a clearly nonthreatening matter. Although the topic of discussion may have made a few individuals uncomfortable, there was no need to label me as a threat,” Wahlberg said in response. “The actions of Professor Anderson made me so uncomfortable, that I didn’t attend several classes. The only appropriate action taken by the Professor was to excuse my absences.”

The university police were unavailable for comment.

“If you can’t talk about the Second Amendment, what happened to the First Amendment?” asked Sara Adler, president of the Riflery and Marksmanship club on campus. “After all, a university campus is a place for the free and open exchange of ideas.” 
24113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Sexual Insanity on: February 28, 2009, 11:39:16 PM
Bill Muehlenberg | Friday, 27 February 2009
Sexual insanity
A 13-year-old father? A woman with 14 IVF children? We can’t say we were not warned.
Week by week the stories become more sensational. Blogs were still buzzing over California’s “octomom”, Nadya Suleman, when the story of Alfie Patten, a baby-faced British 13-year-old and putative father, grabbed the international headlines. In Australia, where I live, an appeal court has awarded a lesbian duo hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for getting two babies from IVF treatment rather than one.

Strangely enough, such dramatic consequences of the erosion of marriage and the explosion of out-of-control sexuality were foreseen -- in some instances long ago. In 1968 Will and Ariel Durant’s important book, The Lessons of History appeared. In it they said, The sex drive in the young is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group.

Although the sexual revolution took off in the mid-60s, other social commentators had made similar warnings earlier on. In 1956 Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin put it this way:

This sex revolution is as important as the most dramatic political or economic upheaval. It is changing the lives of men and women more radically than any other revolution of our time… Any considerable change in marriage behaviour, any increase in sexual promiscuity and sexual relations, is pregnant with momentous consequences. A sex revolution drastically affects the lives of millions, deeply disturbs the community, and decisively influences the future of society.

And back in 1927, J.D. Unwin of Cambridge University made similar remarks:

The whole of human history does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilised unless it has been completely monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs. Marriage as a life-long association has been an attendant circumstance of all human achievement, and its adoption has preceded all manifestations of social energy… Indissoluble monogamy must be regarded as the mainspring of all social activity, a necessary condition of human development.

But these warnings have fallen on deaf ears, and our sexual decline is now gathering speed. Let’s look again at the stories I mentioned at the beginning of this article -- reported in the media within days of each other. Any one of them reveals a culture in crisis, but taken together they show a West on a slide to sexual suicide.

The case of Nadya Suleman, America’s single mom extraordinaire, is so well publicised we need only briefly recap here. Nadya had “a dream…to have a large family, huge family”, so she went right ahead and got herself six children with the aid of a sperm donor and IVF. But that was not enough; she went back again to the clinic and, wonder of wonders, produced octuplets. The 33-year-old California woman is unrepentant. “This is my choice to be a single parent,” she said.

It’s hard to know who has been more reckless and irresponsible, the woman or her IVF doctor. He recently implanted a 49-year-old woman with seven embryos, who is now pregnant with quadruplets. One can understand there are those in the IVF industry simply happy to make money, regardless of the consequences. Now that the consequence in this case is a single mother with 14 children, they will no doubt try to wash their hands of the whole affair and let society pick up the tab for supporting them.

Equally famous is the case of Alfie Patten, the 13-year-old English father who was just twelve when he conceived the child. He and his 15-year-old girlfriend are now parents, but seemingly clueless as to what all this entails. And now it turns out that there is a question as to who the real father is. Evidently, two other young boys (14 and 16) are now claiming to be the father. Speculation is rife about lucrative publicity deals to be made. Meanwhile, a child has been born into social and sexual chaos.

There is something sadly predictable about Alfie’s case, but my first Australian example of sexual insanity is truly startling. It concerns two lesbians who successfully sued a Canberra IVF doctor for creating two babies instead of one. The case actually has three stages, one sane and two outrageous. In 2007 the lesbian pair outrageously sued the doctor, claiming they only wanted one child, and that two would damage their livelihood (even though their combined income is more than $100,000).

In July 2008 the ACT Supreme Court, sanely, rejected their claim, but an appeals court recently, and again outrageously, reversed the decision, ordering the doctor to pay the lesbians $317,000 in compensation. The women said having two children damaged their relationship. (Mind you, in the light of the Nadya Suleman story it is difficult to feel sorry for IVF doctors.)

Our last story involves the growing trend of rental agreements in Australian cities involving sex instead of rent money. It seems that some men are taking advantage of the rental crisis by placing online ads which offer women free rooms in exchange for sex. One ad, for a Melbourne townhouse, offered "free rent for someone special: instead of rent, I am looking for someone to help me with certain needs/requirements on a regular basis''.

The Sunday Telegraph explains: “The zero-rent ads, targeting desperate women looking for somewhere to live, are becoming increasingly common on popular ‘share house’ rental websites. Although there have been numerous complaints about the ads, which some website users have dubbed ‘offensive’, they do not breach policy guidelines for sites such as flatmates”

“Desperate women”? Let’s not be too ready to excuse those who accept what amounts to an invitation to prostitution, thereby putting themselves in danger and contributing to the environment of sexual insanity. Like the previous examples, the blatant sexual pitch in these flatmate ads is a sign of a society which is fast losing all bearings concerning things sexual or things moral.

Our wiser, saner and more moral forebears provided plenty of warning about these things, but we have chosen to ignore such warnings and now each passing day seems to bring out another horror story of sexual insanity.

As G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago: A society that claims to be civilized and yet allows the sex instinct free-play is inoculating itself with a virus of corruption which sooner or later will destroy it. It is only a question of time. He is worth quoting at length:

What had happened to the human imagination, as a whole, was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions; by natural passions becoming unnatural passions. Thus the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex. For sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences like eating and sleeping. The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant. There is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature, for whatever reason; and it does really need a special purification and dedication. The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago.

We are today witnessing the bitter fruit of allowing sex to become a tyrant. Each day new headlines testify to the fact that when we abuse the wonderful gift of sex, we abuse ourselves and our neighbours. The question is, how much more abuse can we take as a culture before society can no longer function? One suspects that we should find this out quite soon.

Bill Muehlenberg is a lecturer in ethics and philosophy at several Melbourne theological colleges and a PhD candidate at Deakin University.
24114  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Alignment on: February 28, 2009, 10:37:06 AM

Until I see you in a few weeks, I would orient you towards peak contraction of the glute hamstring nexus as a foundation for hip flexor (psoas, ilio, quads) release.

24115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gitmo guards speak on: February 28, 2009, 09:23:46 AM
24116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: February 28, 2009, 09:19:11 AM
Thank you!

That was awesome!
24117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: February 28, 2009, 12:39:14 AM
MUST HAVE URL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
24118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian enjoying Biden's "reboot" on: February 27, 2009, 11:34:59 PM
Second post:


Unloaded/Loaded Wt:192,000/326,000 lbs
Dry Thrust:240KN
Armament: 59,000 lbs
Top Speed: Mach 1.25
Range: 7,500 mi
Ceiling: 60,000 feet


Unloaded/Loaded Wt:242,000/590,000 lbs
Dry Thrust:520KN
Armament: 88,000 lbs
Top Speed: Mach 2.2
Range: 10,800 mi
Ceiling:50,000 feet

The Blackjack is a more capable airframe and it has a small RCS. They are producing more advanced versions now.

The Canadians say it was a Bear, Russians say it was a Blackjack.

OTTAWA -- Canada will not tolerate Russian intrusions into Canadian airspace, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday after it was disclosed that two Russian bombers were intercepted just outside the Canadian Arctic shortly before U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Ottawa this month.
"I have expressed at various times the deep concern our government has with increasingly aggressive Russian actions around the globe and Russian intrusions into our airspace," the prime minister said at a news conference in Saskatoon.
"This government has responded every time the Russians have done that. We will continue to respond; we will defend our airspace."
Earlier Friday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay disclosed that two CF-18 fighter jets met at least one Russian bomber within 24 hours of the U.S. president's trip to Ottawa on Feb. 19 just outside of Canada's Arctic airspace.
The incident set off a round of bitter sniping between Moscow and Ottawa that was a throwback to the Cold War era.

Initially there was confusion over the number of Russian planes involved -- it turned out to be two, not one -- while Russian sources mocked Canada's assertion that they were given no notice of the flights.

With Mr. Obama poised to leave U.S. soil for the first time as president on Feb. 19, the joint Canada-U.S. aerospace command, Norad, picked up the approaching aircraft.

Canadian jets were scrambled and sent "very clear signals" to the Russian aircraft to "turn tail and head back to its own airspace," which were followed without incident, Mr. MacKay said.

Later Friday, Canadian defence and Norad officials confirmed a second Russian plane was involved in the incident, and identified the two aircraft as Tupolev Tu-95 propeller driven bombers, a type of aircraft known as the "Bear."

Vladimir Drik, an aide to the Russian chief of staff, speaking to RIA Novosti news agency confirmed the Feb. 18 flight, but indicated a different model of Tupolev carried out the mission.

"The Tupolev-160 fulfilled all its air patrol tasks. It was a planned flight."
He said the crew acted solely within the limits of international air agreements and did not violate Canadian airspace.

Typically Blackjacks are not seen until its too late and many are not seen at all:

A Russian nuclear stealth bomber was able to fly within 90 seconds of the British coast without being picked up by radar, it was revealed today.
The supersonic ‘Blackjack’ jet flew completely undetected to within just 20 miles from Hull in one of the worst breaches of British security since the end of the Cold War.

RAF radar eventually picked up the plane, but the only two pairs of fighter jets used for air alerts were on other duties.
24119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russian fcuk w His Glibness on: February 27, 2009, 11:32:58 PM
Canadian Jets Scramble to Meet Russian Plane Before Obama Visit


February 27, 2009

Canadian Jets Met Russian Plane Before Obama Visit

Filed at 10:42 a.m. ET

TORONTO (AP) -- Canada's defense minister said fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a Russian bomber in the Arctic on the eve of President Barack Obama's visit to Ottawa last week.

Peter MacKay said Friday that the bomber never made it into Canadian airspace. But he said two Canadian CF-18 jets met the bomber in international airspace and sent a ''strong signal that they should back off.''

''They met a Russian aircraft that was approaching Canadian airspace, and as they have done in previous occasions they sent very clear signals that are understood, that the aircraft was to turnaround, turn tail, and head back to their airspace, which it did,'' MacKay said.

''I'm not going to stand here and accuse the Russians of having deliberately done this during the presidential visit, but it was a strong coincidence,'' he said of the Feb. 18 incident.

Obama arrived in Canada the next day.

MacKay said it happened when Canada's security focus would be on Ottawa, but he said resources weren't stretched.

Attempts to reach the Russian Embassy in Ottawa or officials in Moscow were not immediately successful.

Soviet aircraft regularly flew near North American airspace during the Cold War but stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Several years ago, Russian jets resumed these types of flights.

MacKay said the Russians give no warning prior to the flights. Canadian government officials, including MacKay, have asked the Russian ambassador and defense minister to give Ottawa notice of such flights. The requests have fallen on deaf ears.

''They simply show up on a radar screen,'' MacKay said. ''This is not a game at all.
24120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sgt Scott Stream on: February 27, 2009, 05:35:38 PM,0,7802298.story
'If it costs me my life to protect our land and people then that is a small thing...'
February 26, 2009

As President Obama and military officials plan for a marked escalation in the number of American troops in Afghanistan, the powerful words of a fallen soldier show how much the mission continues to mean to the women and men on the ground.

Illinois National Guard Sgt. Scott Stream, 39, of Mattoon, Ill., was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan. Below is a letter he wrote to a friend on New Year's Eve. The Tribune received a copy of the letter from Stream's mother.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 9:30am

A strange thing...

When I think about what surrounds me, the institutional corruption, the random violence, the fear and desperation. I feel the reasons why I am here more and more sharply. As we grow in our soldiers skills, surviving by finding the hidden dangers, seeing the secret motives and the shifting politics... we grow a set of skills that is unique and powerful in this situation.

We also see what you cannot see in the States, you are surrounded by the love of Christ and faith in freedom and humanity, like a fish you think water is 'a puff of air' because it is always there, you do not notice it... we who are out of the water look back and see the world we love surrounded by enemies, poison and envy that wants to fall on you like a storm of ruin.

We who joined with vague notions of protecting our country see how desperate the peril, how hungry the enemy and how frail the security we have is. So the more I love you all the more I feel I must keep fighting for you. The more I love and long for home the more right I feel here on the front line standing between you and the seething madness that wants to suck the life and love out of our land.

Does that mean I cannot go home? I hope not, because I want this just to be the postponement of the joy of life, not the sacrifice of mine. If it costs me my life to protect our land and people then that is a small thing, I just hope that fate lets me return to the promise land and remind people just how great our land is.

War is a young mans game, and I am getting an old mans head... it is a strange thing. I just hope that I am not changed so that I cannot take joy in the land inside the wire when I make it home. I want to be with you all again and let my gun sit in the rack and float on my back in a tube down a lazy river...
24121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 27, 2009, 04:27:10 PM
Good find BBG.

The liberal Jewish mindset is the one in which I was raised in Manhattan NYC.  It is now a mystery to me-- and I to them.

Crafty Dog--Infidel Dog of the Never Again Brigades!
24122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: February 27, 2009, 04:24:17 PM
Knock me down with a feather twice-- once for Broder and once for Kinsley!

Liberal columnist Michael Kinsley, writing in the Washington Post, on the hidden dangers of deficit spending:

[E]ven if the stimulus is a magnificent success, the money still has to be paid back. The plan of record apparently is that we keep borrowing, spending and stimulating, faster and faster, until suddenly, on some signal from heaven or Timothy Geithner, we all stop spending and start saving in recordbreaking amounts. Oh sure, that will work.

There is another way. If it's not the actual, secret plan, it will be an overwhelming temptation: Don't pay the money back. So far, even as one piggy bank after another astounds us with its emptiness, there have been only the faintest whispers about the possibility of an actual default by the U.S. government. Somewhat louder whispers can be heard, though, about the gradual default known as inflation. Just three or four years of currency erosion at, say, 10 percent a year would slice the real value of our debt -- public and private, U.S. bonds and jumbo mortgages -- in half.

Anyone who regards the prospect of double-digit inflation with insouciance is either too young to have lived through it the last time (the late 1970s) or too old to remember. Among other problems, inflation works only as a surprise or betrayal. It can never be part of any public, official plan. Plan for 10 percent inflation, and you'll get 20. Plan for 20 and you'll need a wheelbarrow to pay for your morning Starbucks. But if that's not the plan, what is?
24123  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Postal Inspectors stop knifing on: February 27, 2009, 04:16:10 PM
Daylight stabbing in downtown Buffalo

Dramatic scene captured on video

Updated: Thursday, 26 Feb 2009, 7:46 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 26 Feb 2009, 7:40 PM EST

George Richert

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - An apparent domestic dispute triggered a dramatic scene in downtown Buffalo, where bystanders rushed to help a woman while she was stabbed in broad daylight.

Here was the scene Wednesday in front of the Main Place Mall:
"Drop it now! For the love of God, just drop it!"

49-year-old Jeffrey Pearson is charged with attempted murder after repeatedly stabbing a woman right there in broad daylight.
Arthur Perkins said, "And had it not been for that leather coat she had on, she'd have been hurt more."

Perkins started recording with his cell phone, just as a Federal agent drew his gun to stop the attack.

Perkins said, "About 15 seconds into the stabbing, he just came out of nowhere."
That was United States Postal Inpsector Chris Buszka and his partner Marty Arthur who just happened to be outside talking nearby.
Buszka said, "Ya just rely on your training."

At first, Pearson was shaking so hard he couldn't drop the knife.
Buszka said, "Grabbed his wrist which made him drop the knife."
Arthur said, "And we pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him."
Pearson is now charged with attempted murder.

News 4's George Richert asked, "Can you explain your actions yesterday."
Pearson said, "Yes, I did that, but it was her fault. She violated the order of protection first."
The victim had a restraining order against him since last month.

A friend of the victim, Raelynn Loncarevich, said, "I think it was more of a stalker issue with this guy, as opposed to domestic violence."
"But I know the positive is that she's not gonna have to worry about him anymore."
The victim is said to be recovering well in the hospital.

A grand jury is expected to get the attempted murder case next week.

Click here for newsvideo:
24124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ An inconvenient tax on: February 27, 2009, 11:41:22 AM
That didn't take long. The same week that President Obama promised (again) that "95% of working families" would not see their taxes rise by "a single dime," his own budget reveals that taxes will rise for 100% of everyone for the sake of global warming. Ahem.

You don't even have to burrow into yesterday's budget fine print to discover the "climate revenues" section, where the White House discloses that it expects $78.7 billion in new tax revenue in 2012 from its cap-and-trade program. The pot of cash grows to $237 billion through 2014, and at least $646 billion through 2019. If this isn't tax revenue, what is it? Manna from heaven? The offset from Al Gore's carbon footprint?

If it brings in revenue that the government then spends, it's a tax, and politicians should start referring to it as such. The Administration in fact projects that these "climate revenues" will become the sixth largest source of federal receipts by 2019, outpaced only by individual and corporate income taxes, payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and (barely) excise taxes. We're supposed to be living in a new era of fiscal honesty, so let's start with cap and trade.

Of course it's easy to see why Democrats don't want the public to think of cap and trade as a tax. Tax increases aren't popular, as Mr. Gore learned when he and Bill Clinton tried to impose a BTU tax in 1993. The complex cap-and-trade tax would ripple throughout the energy chain and ultimately the entire economy. All consumers, not just "the rich," would pay more for goods and services that use carbon energy -- though some would pay more than others. A majority of those "95% of working families" probably lives in the middle of the country that relies far more on manufacturing and coal-fired power than do the better-off coastal regions.

Mr. Obama's Energy Secretary Steven Chu was refreshingly candid on this point with the New York Times earlier this month. Given that higher prices are supposed to motivate the changes necessary to reduce carbon energy use, Mr. Chu said he was worried that climate taxes may drive jobs to countries where costs are cheaper. "The concern about cap and trade in today's economic climate," he said, "is that a lot of money might flow to developing countries in a way that might not be completely politically sellable." You are correct, sir.

Meanwhile, the political class loves a cap-and-trade tax because it gives them new economic and political power. Congress would create a new property right to expend CO2, setting a price per ton on carbon output, and then Congress would also get to determine the distribution of allowances. The Administration wants all of them to be auctioned off, which is what creates the giant revenue windfall. The politicians would then decide how to spend all of that new "climate revenue."

Mr. Obama's budget proposes to spend this windfall on two items: $15 billion a year in more subsidies for alternative fuels, and $65 billion or so a year to finance tax subsidies for workers, many of whom don't pay income taxes. In other words, once this cap-and-trade tax is on the books, the revenue stream will create political constituencies that depend on it.

No new pot of gold goes uncontested, however, so you can assume that Mr. Obama's priorities will not go unchallenged. Already on Capitol Hill, Charlie Rangel's tax committee and Henry Waxman's energy clan are feuding about who gets to divvy up the spoils. Not to mention who gets the political control that will become a source of tens of millions in new campaign contributions from thousands of affected businesses.

By the way, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that cap-and-trade taxes would actually throw off as much as $300 billion every year -- not merely $78.7 billion -- and in a footnote the Obama budget implicitly acknowledges that its $645.7 billion estimate is a lowball: "All additional net proceeds will be used to further compensate the public." No doubt.
24125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Turkey and Iran on: February 27, 2009, 11:33:46 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Turkish and Iranian Balance of Power

Turkish President Abdullah Gul announced on Thursday that he will make a one-day trip to Iran on March 10 to attend the Economic Cooperation Organization summit. While the summit aims to improve economic and commercial relations among the member states, the leaders will also discuss bilateral relations and regional issues. Of the two items on Gul’s agenda, his bilateral meetings with the Iranians hold far more interest for STRATFOR than anything that the summit will generate.

Both Turkey and Iran are on the rise. Until relatively recent times, both have been contained by various forces, most notably Iraq and the Soviet Union. Between the end of the Cold War and American defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, however, many restrictions on the power of both states evaporated. Both Turkey and Iran are looking for wider roles in their region. Both have grand imperial pasts. Both have ambitions. And both are somewhat oddballs in the world of geopolitics.

Most nations are oriented around a piece of flat, core territory where the nationality was not just born, but has entrenched itself. For France, Germany and Poland, that core is their respective portions of the Northern European Plain. The core territory of the United States is the coastal Atlantic strip east of the Appalachians. Argentina is centered on the bountiful flatlands around Buenos Aires. The defining territory of China comprises the fertile regions between the Yellow and Yangtze rivers.

Such flatness is critical to the development of a nation because the lack of internal geographic barriers allows the dominant culture to assimilate or eliminate groups that would dilute or challenge its power. Additionally, plains regions tend to boast river systems that allow thriving agricultural, transportation and trade opportunities that mountainous regions lack. Very few states count mountains as their core simply because mountains are difficult to pacify. It is very easy for dissident or minority groups to root themselves in such regions, and the writ of the state is often weak. Consequently, most mountainous states are defined not by success but by failure. Lebanon, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Laos come to mind.

Turkey and Iran are different. Their core lands are mountainous regions — the Anatolian Peninsula for Asia Minor and the Zagros Mountains of Persia. Even though the Turks are not original descendants of their their Anatolian power base, they were able to secure their central lands when they swept in as conquerors a millennium ago and have since destroyed or assimilated most of the natives. The Persians ruled through a dizzyingly complex system of interconnected elites that succeeded in instilling a common Persian culture that extended somewhat beyond mere ethnicity, all while keeping the base of power in the Persians’ hands.

But that is where the similarities end. As these two states both return to prominence, it is almost inevitable that Turkey that will fare better than Iran, simply because the Turks enjoy the advantage of geography. Anatolia is a plateau surrounded by water on three sides and enjoys the blessing of the Golden Horn, which transforms the well-positioned city of Istanbul into one of the world’s best — and certainly most strategically located — ports. Turkey straddles Europe and Asia, the Balkans and the Islamic world, the former Soviet Union and the Mediterranean Basin. The result is a culture not only incredibly aware of international events, but one steeped in trade whether via its land connections or —by virtue of being a peninsula — maritime trade. Unsurprisingly, for a good chunk of the past 2,000 years, Anatolia — whether under the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines or most recently under the Turks themselves — has been at or nea r the center of human development.

By comparison, Iran got shortchanged. Although Iran has water on two sides, it has a minimal maritime tradition. Its plateau is a salt desert. The Caspian Sea is landlocked and boasts no major population centers aside from Baku — the capital of another country with a hostile ethnic group. The Persian Gulf coast of Iran is not only lightly populated, but it is easy for powers on the gulf’s southern coast to block Iranian water access to the wider world. While Anatolia has a number of regions that are well watered — even though it does not have many rivers — Persia is predominately an arid region.

The Turks also enjoy demographic advantages. Only one-fifth of Turkey’s population is non-Turkish, while roughly half of Iran is non-Persian. Iran requires a large army simply to maintain rule at home, while Turkey has the relative freedom to expend resources on power projection tools such as an air force and navy. The difference shines through in their respective economies as well. Despite having nearly identical populations in terms of size, Iran’s economy is only two-fifths the size of Turkey’s. Even in the battle of ideologies, Turkey retains the advantage. The Arab majority in the region prefer Turkey — a fellow Sunni power — to take the lead in managing regional affairs, whereas Shiite Persian Iran is the historical rival of the Arab world.

Iran may be junior to Turkey in a geopolitical contest, but Iran is still a power that Turkey has to take into consideration. In a major historical reversal, the Iranians have regained influence over Iraq with the rise of a Shia-dominated government that they had lost to the Turks in the mid-1550s, bringing the two powers closer into contact. When two expansionary powers interact closely — as Turkey and Iran are now — they can be either driven to conflict or come to an understanding regarding their respective spheres of influence. In the present day, there are probably more causes for cooperation than conflict between Ankara and Tehran. Iran’s westward expansion gives Turkey and Iran good reasons to cooperate in order to contain Iraq’s Kurdish population in the north. Moreover, Turkey’s bid to become a major energy transit state would improve significantly through a better relationship with Iran.

Given this dynamic, Gul’s upcoming trip to Iran is likely to be the first of many. The Turks and the Persians have much to sort out on the bilateral level as each seeks to expand their geopolitical influence.
24126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: BO gives AQ suspect a civilian trial on: February 27, 2009, 11:17:46 AM
Its the NY Slimes, so caveat lector:


U.S. Will Give Qaeda Suspect a Civilian Trial
Published: February 26, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department, in an abrupt change in policy from the Bush administration, is preparing to bring terrorism-related charges against a man identified as an operative of Al Qaeda who has been held in a military brig for more than five years, government officials said Thursday.

The charges would move the case of the only enemy combatant to be held on American soil, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, into a civilian criminal court. The Bush administration had argued that he could be held indefinitely without being charged.

The decision also would allow the Obama administration to avoid taking a position for the time being on whether a president may detain legal residents indefinitely without trial.

The Justice Department faced a March 23 deadline to file a brief with the Supreme Court declaring whether it was continuing to hold to the Bush administration’s position that the government had the authority to detain legal residents like Mr. Marri indefinitely, without charges.

The decision to move Mr. Marri to a civilian court should give the Obama administration time to sidestep that issue for now as it sets about a large-scale review of detention policies that would affect those prisoners being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and those who may later be captured on suspicion of involvement with terrorism.

Mr. Marri was arrested in Peoria, Ill., in December 2001, and moved to the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., in 2003. The Bush administration described him as a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda.

Mr. Marri is expected to be charged in Illinois as early as Friday with providing material support to terrorist groups. The Justice Department would then probably ask the Supreme Court to drop the case from its docket, saying that the issue was moot.

The decision to bring criminal charges against Mr. Marri was reported separately Thursday on the Web sites of The Washington Post and The New Yorker.

At least in part, the decision is a demonstration that Obama administration officials believe the nation’s civilian courts are capable of handling some terrorism cases.

Bush administration officials had argued that the president needed the authority to detain some terrorism suspects indefinitely because it was impracticable to prosecute many of them in civilian courts.

The issue as to whether there are some terrorism cases that cannot be successfully brought in a civilian criminal court is also at the heart of the debate about what to do with many of the 245 detainees still at Guantánamo.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Thursday that legal teams would reassess each of the inmates at Guantánamo to decide whether they should be prosecuted for criminal offenses or released.

“We need to look at these people again,” he said in an interview at his office at the Justice Department. “What kind of threats do they represent, if they pose any threats at all? We are determined to do this on an individualized basis.”

Mr. Holder said that some detainees were likely to be found to represent a low enough security risk to warrant their release, but that others would be likely to be found to have engaged in terrorist acts and would be prosecuted under a legal system that he said “must be seen as fair and must be fair.”

He said that department officials had not determined in what forum such prosecutions might take place, but that officials had not ruled out calling for legislation to create a new legal entity like a civilian national security court.

Several lawyers both inside and outside the academic world have said there was a need for such a new court that would allow the government to deal with the most troublesome group of terrorist suspects: those who are believed to be too dangerous to release but who could not be prosecuted effectively because it would require highly classified evidence.

Justice Department officials declined to discuss the developments on the Marri case. But after taking office, President Obama ordered a review of the situation and the decision to charge Mr. Marri in federal court reflected the results of that review, officials said.

Jonathan Hafetz of the American Civil Liberties Union, the lead lawyer in the case, said bringing charges would “definitely be a positive step in that the government will no longer be detaining Mr. Marri without charge and returning him to the civilian justice system.”

But Mr. Hafetz said the criminal charges should have been filed seven years ago, when Mr. Marri was first arrested in Peoria on suspicion of ties to Al Qaeda.

He said the Supreme Court should reject any government argument that the case is moot because the issue of whether the government may indefinitely detain legal residents or those in Guantánamo remains alive.

The case should go forward, Mr. Hafetz said, “to make clear, once and for all, that the indefinite military detention of legal residents or American citizens is illegal, and to prevent this from ever happening again.”

If the Supreme Court does not consider the case, it would leave in place a decision of the federal appeals court in Richmond, that upheld President George W. Bush’s authority to detain Mr. Marri indefinitely and without charging him.

In preparation for arguments before the Supreme Court, the Bush administration provided a sworn 2004 statement from Jeffrey N. Rapp, a military intelligence official. It said Mr. Marri had met with Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief plotter of the Sept. 11 attacks, in the summer of 2001.

“Al-Marri offered to be an Al Qaeda martyr or to do anything else that Al Qaeda requested,” Mr. Rapp said.

The Qaeda leaders told Mr. Marri, the statement said, to leave for the United States and to make sure he got there before Sept. 11.

John Schwartz contributed reporting from New York.
24127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ralph Peters: Ghost States on: February 27, 2009, 10:44:47 AM

February 27, 2009

PAKISTAN'S bloodied Northwest Frontier Province is getting a new name: Pakhtunkhwa, or "Land of the Pashtun" tribesmen. A key demand of Taliban radicals, the new title isn't an end, but a beginning.

Obsessed with the "integrity" of dysfunctional, artificial borders, US policy-makers struggle to come to grips with the Taliban, an overwhelmingly Pashtun organization. For its part, the Taliban functions as the shadow government of a ghost state sprawling across huge stretches of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakhtunkhwa already exists in fact, if not in the UN General Assembly. The writs of the governments in Islamabad and Kabul run up to the international border on our maps, but not in reality. We play along with the fantasy.

Census numbers are flimsy, but up to 42 million Pashtuns (or Pakhtuns or Pathans) live in the region, with perhaps 13 million in Afghanistan and double that number in Pakistan. That would make Greater Pakhtunkhwa a middle-weight nation, population-wise.

United by old blood and various dialects of Pashto, the Pashtuns are a collection of five-dozen major tribes that long have functioned as a primitive state, governed by tribal councils amid hundreds of sub-tribes. Although briefly united at a few junctures in history, their primary goal has been the defense of local territory against outsiders, not central administration.

Now the Pashtuns, as manifested by the Taliban, seek an authentic state governed by Sharia law. It isn't good news for us, for women, or for the feeble states of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But how much of our blood and treasure is it worth to keep those wretched states on life support, while denying the vigor of a ghost state fighting to become flesh?

A Pakhtunkhwa that includes all of the Pashtuns would be culturally abhorrent. But it may be inevitable. Are we fighting forces our measures can't defeat?

Nor is the ghost-state problem limited to our confused efforts in Afghanistan. The 6 million Kurds in northern Iraq are ethnically, linguistically and culturally different from the oppressive Arab majority to the south. Iraq's Kurds are also the most-advanced Middle Eastern population outside of Israel (and the most pro-American).

Well, the ghost nation of Kurdistan isn't just three Iraqi provinces, but a broader Kurdish state struggling to be born. Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria and the southern Caucasus hold 30 million Kurds between them, nearly all subject to Jim Crow laws and worse.

The Kurds are struggling for freedom. We find them an inconvenience.

But "inconveniences" don't go away just because we ignore them. Consider yet another ghost state where US troops have engaged: Greater Albania.

Again, census numbers are sticky, but Albania itself has a population of 3 million to 4 million, with another 1½ million ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and a half-million more in Macedonia and Montenegro.

How much effort should we expend to prevent the natural emergence of Greater Albania? Doesn't self-determination count in the clinch? (As for a "Muslim menace," a third of Albania's inhabitants are Christians. In the Balkans, organized crime's a far greater threat than Islam.)

Of course, a ghost state of a different sort exists on our Southwest border and in northern Mexico. But, apart from a few rabid activists in La Raza, that's one ghost state that doesn't seek a real state. The difference? Individual rights and fair opportunities, guaranteed by the rule of law (on our side of the border).

Contrary to racist myths, few Latinos want to return our Southwest to the Mexico they fled. Nobody's going to vote for death squads, corruption, poverty and a narco-state. While we need to fully control our border and boot out convicted criminals immediately, self-interest and economics will handle the rest.

Yet, we do need to recognize that the age of European Imperialism, to which we were an adjunct, left a legacy of international borders that range from the awkward to the impossible - and no state wants to give up an inch of territory, even when its efforts to control separatists appear suicidal.

We don't need to play along, though, except when it's clearly in our national interest. The question before us is blunt: Should our soldiers die to preserve the disastrous borders Europeans left behind?

Should Free Kurdistan, or Greater Albania, or even a full-fledged Pakhtunkhwa be opposed simply because their emergence would mean shifting desks in the State Department? Can our policy-makers even tell the difference between the expedient and the inevitable?

The borders Europe left behind are prisons. How long will we be the guards up on the walls?
24128  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: POSTPONED!!! Guro Crafty in Hemet on Sunday March 1 on: February 27, 2009, 09:34:40 AM
All is well, and thanks for the understanding.  I will get talk with Surf (if he's not too mad!  embarassed cheesy ) and we will plan a bit further our in advance.
24129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 27, 2009, 09:32:51 AM
Assuming for the moment that BO wouldn't shoot down Israeli jets, given what we have just seen in giving $900 to Hamas, it seems pretty likely to give him a chance to do what he wants-- rupture the alliance with Israel.

Of course the Israelis just handled Syria, but the point here is about using them as a flight plath, an even longer one that over Iraq, and one with substantial risk of being spotted and Iran notified.

And if sounds like we both agree that such raids are not likely to achieve lasting consequence , , ,
24130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / a citizen; J. Adams on: February 27, 2009, 09:28:19 AM
"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? It is feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. ...[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."

--A Pennsylvanian, The Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 February 1788

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood." --John Adams
24131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 26, 2009, 11:01:56 PM
Agree the Israeli are awesome, but the logistics of hitting Iran are a b*tch.

Distance makes fuel a serious issue, even flying over Iraq.  Do you think His Glibness will let them fly over Iraq?!?



And WHERE to hit?  With WHAT?   The sites are quite numerous, many locations not known, and most of them are hardened, and as Stratfor knows, plenty of them are now protected by Russian AA.

The only technically feasible option which occurs to me is missile launches from Israeli subs-- and that opens the gates to hell itself.
24132  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: POSTPONED!!! Guro Crafty in Hemet on Sunday March 1 on: February 26, 2009, 10:41:34 PM
Woof All:

My deep apologies, but I need to postpone this weekend's seminar.  Something has come up unexpectedly that requires that I be there for my son.  It would be too long a song and dance to explain here, so I will just ask for everyone's understanding and forgiveness.

I've just left messages on Surf's various phone numbers, and post here now to maximize the notice.

Guro Crafty
24133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: February 26, 2009, 10:30:35 PM
Can open.  Worms everywhere , , ,
24134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: February 26, 2009, 10:19:33 PM
Again, what military options does Israel really have here?

24135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pelosi tosses cold water on AWB? on: February 26, 2009, 06:47:07 PM
Pelosi tosses cold water on assault-weapon ban

Pelosi tosses cold water on assault-weapon ban
By Mike Soraghan

Posted: 02/26/09 11:59 AM [ET]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tossed cold water on the prospect of reinstating the assault weapons ban, highlighting Democrats’ reluctance to take on gun issues.

Attorney General Eric Holder raised the prospect Wednesday that the administration would push to bring back the ban. But Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated on Thursday that he never talked to her. The Speaker gave a flat “no” when asked if she had talked to administration officials about the ban.

“On that score, I think we need to enforce the laws we have right now,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. “I think it's clear the Bush administration didn’t do that.”

Outside of the dig at the recent Republican president, that phrase is the stock line of those who don’t want to pass new gun control laws, such as the National Rifle Association.

The White House declined to comment on Holder's remarks, referring reporters to the Department of Justice. The DoJ did not respond to The Hill's request for comment.
24136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PLEASE USE SUBJECT HEADINGS on: February 26, 2009, 06:28:33 PM

The value of the search function is tremendously improved when we bother to use the Subject heading when we post.  Lets do better with this please.

Thank you,
24137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Senator from DC? Screw the C.! on: February 26, 2009, 06:25:28 PM
Associated Press Writer Jim Abrams, Associated Press Writer – 25 mins ago
Featured Topics: Barack Obama Presidential Transition WASHINGTON(AP — The right to a vote in Congress denied the District of Columbia when it became the nation's capital two centuries ago would be granted under legislation the Senate passed Thursday.

Congress is "moving to right a centuries-old wrong," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shortly before the 61-37 vote.

The House is expected to pass the measure with a strong majority next week and President Barack Obama, a co-sponsor when the bill failed to clear the Senate two years ago, has promised to sign it.

The measure is likely to face a court challenge immediately after becoming law; opponents argue that it is unconstitutional because D.C. is not a state and does not qualify for representation.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, who sponsored the bill with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, expressed confidence that they could win the legal argument and noted that the bill contained an expedited appeals process to ensure a quick court decision.

The real issue, he said, is that the disenfranchisement of 600,000 residents of the nation's capital "is patently unjust and un-American in a sense of the best principles of this country."

"This is a historic moment," said Ilir Zherka, head of the advocacy group DC Vote. "In 2007 we were gaining tremendous momentum," he said. "The huge difference this year is that we have an advocate in the White House."

Two years ago, with Democrats holding a smaller majority in the Senate and then-President George W. Bush threatening a veto on constitutional grounds, the Senate fell three votes short of overcoming a GOP-led filibuster.

Under the rules of debate Thursday, supporters needed 60 votes to win passage. Six Republicans voted for the measure while two Democrats opposed it.

Utah's Hatch was a co-sponsor in part because the legislation, to offset the certain Democratic gain from D.C., adds a fourth district to Republican-leaning Utah. That would increase House voting membership by two, to 437.

The two representatives would be seated at the start of the next session in January 2011. Utah's maintaining that fourth seat would depend on the outcome of the 2010 census. Utah barely missed out on picking up an extra seat after the 2000 census.

The final Senate vote came after supporters turned back a constitutional challenge and another amendment that would have effectively returned the nonfederal areas of the district to Maryland.

Senators did approve, 62-36, a controversial amendment pushed by pro-gun advocates that overturns most of the district's tough gun control laws. That provision would still have to be approved when the House and Senate meet to reconcile differences in their bills.

Opponents of the legislation pointed to Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, which says members of the House should be chosen "by the people of the several states."

The Constitution is clear, said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, that "only states elect members of Congress. And according to the same article, the seat of the federal government is not to be considered a state."

Congress in 1978 did approve a constitutional amendment giving the district a full voice in Congress, but it was unable to win ratification of three-fourths of state legislatures.

Those on the other side cited Article I, Section 8, which empowers Congress to "exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever" over the district chosen to be the national capital. Constitutional scholars, they say, agree that gives Congress the right to give the district a vote. They add that D.C. residents pay federal taxes and serve in the military and that the courts have long considered the district equivalent to a state in matters such as interstate commerce, taxation and criminal matters.

D.C. residents have had the right to vote in presidential elections since the 23rd Amendment was ratified in 1961.

24138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 26, 2009, 03:31:09 PM
In a closely related vein, see my post on the Intel Matters thread about the new head of the powerful NIE  shocked cry
24139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Russia, Bushehr reactor, Iran, US on: February 26, 2009, 10:51:21 AM
A flurry of activity at Iran’s Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power facility Feb. 25 marked another slow step in the long-delayed plant’s activation. But the final delivery of Russian fuel late last month and Iran’s current testing at the facility are not taking place in a vacuum. Washington is watching closely.

Related Special Topic Pages
Ballistic Missile Defense
U.S.-Iran Negotiations
The Russian Resurgence
Iran reportedly started running tests at its nuclear power plant at Bushehr on Feb. 25, heralding the facility’s pre-commissioning stage, according to the deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Saeedi. Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s state nuclear agency, stood beside Saeedi and told reporters that while the construction phase is complete, he did not yet have a specific schedule for when the plant would be brought online (though in an earlier statement he did allude to a “trial run” later this year). The head of the AEOI, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, has stated that these tests will take between four and seven months.

Geopolitically, the Bushehr nuclear power plant has been one of the key bargaining chips that the Russians like to use in their negotiations with the United States. By making moves that Washington could see as threatening — such as providing Iran with the tools to jump-start a nuclear power plant or selling Iran — Moscow attempts to command Washington’s attention on issues deemed vital to Russian interests.

This is not to say that the Russians are particularly keen on seeing a nuclear-armed Iran. On the contrary, Russia has a common interest with the West in keeping its southern neighbor contained and has worked to ensure that Russian fuel shipments will not be repurposed for military uses, and that spent fuel will be repatriated to Russia.

Click map to enlarge
At the same time, Russia is not afraid to use the Iranian nuclear issue to up the ante when it feels the need to push the United States into making certain concessions in the much broader range of issues on the table, from ballistic missile defense (BMD) in Europe to assurances about the integrity of a Russian sphere of influence. The continued work on Bushehr (Russia could hardly have put it off for any longer) will not go unnoticed in Washington.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. began to signal that its controversial European BMD system in Europe might be up for negotiation as part of a larger understanding with Russia. Indeed, on Feb. 12, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton linked the two issues of European BMD and Iran. While negotiations of such magnitude and gravity do not happen overnight, the celebrations at Bushehr on Feb. 25 are a reminder of the reach and scope of Russian foreign policy and how pressure can be brought to bear on the Americans in any number of places and issues around the world.

Iran will continue to be an issue. And Moscow still has a very powerful lever with Iran because of the latter’s reliance on the Russians for fuel. Iran lacks the mineral resources to sustain any sort of meaningful nuclear power production facility on its own — to say nothing of a 1 gigawatt reactor. So while estimates suggest that Iran now has sufficient nuclear fuel for the initial fueling of Bushehr, Tehran will continue to depend on Moscow for the fuel to sustain operations. This provides Russia with a long-term lever — a lever than can either be used to make things more problematic or more manageable for Washington. Even Russian non-interference would be a welcome development in Washington.

But that non-interference will come with a price elsewhere.
24140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How do we respond to this? on: February 26, 2009, 09:08:18 AM
U.S. Is Arms Bazaar for Mexican Cartels

Published: February 25, 2009
PHOENIX — The Mexican agents who moved in on a safe house full of drug dealers last May were not prepared for the fire power that greeted them.

Skip to next paragraph
When the shooting was over, eight agents were dead. Among the guns the police recovered was an assault rifle traced back across the border to a dingy gun store here called X-Caliber Guns.
Now, the owner, George Iknadosian, will go on trial on charges he sold hundreds of weapons, mostly AK-47 rifles, to smugglers, knowing they would send them to a drug cartel in the western state of Sinaloa. The guns helped fuel the gang warfare in which more than 6,000 Mexicans died last year.

Mexican authorities have long complained that American gun dealers are arming the cartels. This case is the most prominent prosecution of an American gun dealer since the United States promised Mexico two years ago it would clamp down on the smuggling of weapons across the border. It also offers a rare glimpse of how weapons delivered to American gun dealers are being moved into Mexico and wielded in horrific crimes.

“We had a direct pipeline from Iknadosian to the Sinaloa cartel,” said Thomas G. Mangan, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix.

Drug gangs seek out guns in the United States because the gun-control laws are far tougher in Mexico. Mexican civilians must get approval from the military to buy guns and they cannot own large-caliber rifles or high-powered pistols, which are considered military weapons.

The ease with which Mr. Iknadosian and two other men transported weapons to Mexico over a two-year period illustrates just how difficult it is to stop the illicit trade, law enforcement officials here say.

The gun laws in the United States allow the sale of multiple military-style rifles to American citizens without reporting the sales to the government, and the Mexicans search relatively few cars and trucks going south across their border.

What is more, the sheer volume of licensed dealers — more than 6,600 along the border alone, many of them operating out of their houses — makes policing them a tall order. Currently the A.T.F. has about 200 agents assigned to the task.

Smugglers routinely enlist Americans with clean criminal records to buy two or three rifles at a time, often from different shops, then transport them across the border in cars and trucks, often secreting them in door panels or under the hood, law enforcement officials here say. Some of the smuggled weapons are also bought from private individuals at gun shows, and the law requires no notification of the authorities in those cases.

“We can move against the most outrageous purveyors of arms to Mexico, but the characteristic of the arms trade is it’s a ‘parade of ants’ — it’s not any one big dealer, it’s lots of individuals,” said Arizona’s attorney general, Terry Goddard, who is prosecuting Mr. Iknadosian. “That makes it very hard to detect because it’s often below the radar.”

The Mexican government began to clamp down on drug cartels in late 2006, unleashing a war that daily deposits dozens of bodies — often gruesomely tortured — on Mexico’s streets. President Felipe Calderón has characterized the stream of smuggled weapons as one of the most significant threats to security in his country. The Mexican authorities say they seized 20,000 weapons from drug gangs in 2008, the majority bought in the United States.

The authorities in the United States say they do not know how many firearms are transported across the border each year, in part because the federal government does not track gun sales and traces only weapons used in crimes. But A.T.F. officials estimate 90 percent of the weapons recovered in Mexico come from dealers north of the border.

In 2007, the firearms agency traced 2,400 weapons seized in Mexico back to dealers in the United States, and 1,800 of those came from dealers operating in the four states along the border, with Texas first, followed by California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Mr. Iknadosian is accused of being one of those dealers. So brazen was his operation that the smugglers paid him in advance for the guns and the straw buyers merely filled out the required paperwork and carried the weapons off, according to A.T.F. investigative reports. The agency said Mr. Iknadosian also sold several guns to undercover agents who had explicitly informed him that they intended to resell them in Mexico.

Mr. Iknadosian, 47, will face trial on March 3 on charges including fraud, conspiracy and assisting a criminal syndicate. His lawyer, Thomas M. Baker, declined to comment on the charges, but said Mr. Iknadosian maintained his innocence. No one answered the telephone at Mr. Iknadosian’s home in Glendale, Ariz.

A native of Egypt who spent much of his life in California, Mr. Iknadosian moved his gun-selling operation to Arizona in 2004, because the gun laws were more lenient, prosecutors said.


Page 2 of 2)

Over the two years leading up to his arrest last May, he sold more than 700 weapons of the kind currently sought by drug dealers in Mexico, including 515 AK-47 rifles and one .50 caliber rifle that can penetrate an engine block or bulletproof glass, the A.T.F. said.

The authorities say weapons from X-Caliber Guns in Phoenix fueled gang warfare in Mexico. Officials say weapons from George Iknadosian’s store in Phoenix ended up in the hands of a cartel that included Alfredo Beltrán Leyva.
Based on the store’s records and the statements of some defendants, investigators estimate at least 600 of those weapons were smuggled to Mexico. So far, the Mexican authorities have seized seven of the Kalashnikov-style rifles from gunmen for the Beltrán Leyva cartel who had battled with the police.

The store was also said to be the source for a Colt .38-caliber pistol stuck in the belt of a reputed drug kingpin, Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, when he was arrested a year ago in the Sinaloan town of Culiacán. Also linked to the store was a diamond-studded handgun carried by another reputed mobster, Hugo David Castro, known as El Once, who was arrested in November on charges he took part in killing a state police chief in Sonora.

According to reports by A.T.F. investigators, Mr. Iknadosian sold more than 60 assault rifles in late 2007 and early 2008 to straw buyers working for two brothers — Hugo Miguel Gamez, 26, and Cesar Bojorguez Gamez, 27 — who then smuggled them into Mexico.

The brothers instructed the buyers to show up at X-Caliber Guns and to tell Mr. Iknadosian they were there to pick up guns for “Cesar” or “C,” the A.T.F. said. Mr. Iknadosian then helped the buyers fill out the required federal form, called the F.B.I. to check their records and handed over the rifles. The straw buyers would then meet one of the brothers to deliver the merchandise. They were paid $100 a gun.

The Gamez brothers have pleaded guilty to a count of attempted fraud. Seven of the buyers arrested last May have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and have agreed to testify against Mr. Iknadosian, prosecutors said.

In one transaction, Mr. Iknadosian gave advice about how to buy weapons and smuggle them to a person who turned out to be an informant who was recording him, according to a transcript. He told the informant to break the sales up into batches and never to carry more than two weapons in a car.

“If you got pulled over, two is no biggie,” Mr. Iknadosian is quoted as saying in the transcript. “Four is a question. Fifteen is, ‘What are you doing?’ ”
24141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams: arms in the hands of citizens on: February 26, 2009, 08:38:53 AM
"To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, counties or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws."

--John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787-1788
24142  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in Hemet on Sunday March 1 on: February 26, 2009, 01:11:13 AM
From Surf Dog:

  OR YOU CAN CALL LESTER AT 951 492 8362
24143  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Estudio en los riesgos de ser heroe on: February 26, 2009, 12:57:15 AM

En el metro, un criminal se le agarra la bolsa (purse) de una mujer.  Un heroe patea y agarra al criminal, quien le pincha varias veces.

24144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Grannis! on: February 25, 2009, 07:34:46 PM
The brilliant blog of Scott Grannis:

24145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: February 25, 2009, 07:12:39 PM
"You think health care is expensive now?  Just wait until the govt. makes it free."  PJ O'Rourke.

24146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: animals on: February 25, 2009, 07:04:04 PM
Nice post. 

May I ask you to put it either in the "Nature" thread or the "Nature and Man" thread?

Thank you.  I'll delete this thread once you do.
24147  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: February 25, 2009, 07:02:04 PM
Grateful for the fatherly joy of watching my son's kickboxing lesson today.
24148  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: February 25, 2009, 04:35:27 PM
It WAS hella cool.

And a hearty woof of affirmation to the fine seeds that Maestro Sonny planted in folks like Maija and Eddy and , , , I not really the one to list the names, but I was greatly impressed by what I saw of his students that day in Oakland.  Maija and I get together occasionally to share.  Good times! cool
24149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The C. vs. seats for DC on: February 25, 2009, 03:14:45 PM
The House of Representatives seems set to grow by two Members, to 437, after next year's election. Yesterday the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act passed a key procedural vote in the Senate, making passage of the legislation, which President Obama supports, all but certain. The only thing standing in the way may be the Constitution.

The District of Columbia is reliably and overwhelmingly Democratic, and most of the bill's sponsors are Democrats. But one Republican is conspicuous among its sponsors: Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. That is because the legislation also creates a new House seat for Mr. Hatch's state, which in 2000 lost out to North Carolina for the 435th seat because the Census Bureau declined to count Mormon missionaries temporarily overseas as Utah residents.

Utah is one of the most Republican states in the country, but this is still a bad trade for the GOP. Whereas the new District of Columbia seat is permanent, and Democratic dominance in D.C. is as permanent as such things can be, the other new seat will be Utah's for only two years. Thereafter, like all other Congressional seats, it will be reassigned every 10 years as part of reapportionment. It could just as easily go to a Democratic state as to a Republican one.

More important, the legislation runs afoul of the plain language of the Constitution, which provides that House members shall be chosen "by the People of the several States" and stipulates that the District of Columbia is not a state.

In 1960, Congress proposed a Constitutional amendment giving residents of the capital the right to vote for President. The 23rd Amendment was ratified the following year. The District already sends a nonvoting delegate to the House, but if Congress wishes to grant it full representation, it should do so by amending, not ignoring, the Constitution.
24150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO's pick for NIE on: February 25, 2009, 02:45:54 PM
It keeps getting worse and worse , , ,

During the presidential campaign, a constant refrain of Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates was that the Bush administration had severely politicized intelligence, resulting in such disasters as the war in Iraq.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, greets Chas Freeman Jr., right, at a reception prior to a dinner in his honor in Washington, April 2006.
The irony of course is that, if anything, President Bush badly failed at depoliticizing a CIA that was often hostile to his agenda. Witness the repeated leaks of classified information that undercut his policies. It now appears Mr. Obama has appointed a highly controversial figure to head the National Intelligence Council, which is responsible for producing National Intelligence Estimates. The news Web site yesterday reported that it could confirm rumors that a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles "Chas" Freeman Jr., has been appointed chairman. (My calls to the White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence produced neither confirmation nor denial.)

Without question, Mr. Freeman has a distinguished résumé, having served in a long list of State and Defense Department slots. But also without question, he has distinctive political views and affiliations, some of which are more than eyebrow-raising.

In 1997, Mr. Freeman succeeded George McGovern to become the president of the Middle East Policy Council. The MEPC purports to be a nonpartisan, public-affairs group that "strives to ensure that a full range of U.S. interests and views are considered by policy makers" dealing with the Middle East. In fact, its original name until 1991 was the American-Arab Affairs Council, and it is an influential Washington mouthpiece for Saudi Arabia.

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As Mr. Freeman acknowledged in a 2006 interview with an outfit called the Saudi-US Relations Information Service, MEPC owes its endowment to the "generosity" of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Asked in the same interview about his organization's current mission, Mr. Freeman responded, in a revealing non sequitur, that he was "delighted that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, after a long delay, begun to make serious public relations efforts."

Among MEPC's recent activities in the public relations realm, it has published what it calls an "unabridged" version of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. This controversial 2006 essay argued that American Jews have a "stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, which they employ to tilt the U.S. toward Israel at the expense of broader American interests. Mr. Freeman has both endorsed the paper's thesis and boasted of MEPC's intrepid stance: "No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article, given the political penalties that the Lobby imposes on those who criticize it."

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Freeman has views about Middle East policy that differ rather sharply from those held by supporters of the state of Israel. More surprisingly, they also differ rather sharply from the views -- or at least the views stated during the campaign -- of the president who has invited him to serve.

While President Obama speaks of helping the people of Israel "search for credible partners with whom they can make peace," Mr. Freeman believes, as he said in a 2007 address to the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, that "Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them." The primary reason America confronts a terrorism problem today, he continued, is "the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending."

Although initial reaction to Mr. Freeman's selection has focused on his views of the Middle East, that region is by no means Mr. Freeman's only area of interest. He has pronounced on a wide variety of other subjects, including China, where he has attempted to explain away the scale and scope of the starkly intensive buildup of the People's Liberation Army. The specter of a Chinese threat, he remarked during a China forum at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in October 2006, is nothing more than "a great fund-raiser for the hyper-expensive advanced weaponry our military-industrial complex prefers to make and our armed forces love to employ."

On the massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Mr. Freeman unabashedly sides with the Chinese government, a remarkable position for an appointee of an administration that has pledged to advance the cause of human rights. Mr. Freeman has been a participant in ChinaSec, a confidential Internet discussion group of China specialists. A copy of one of his postings was provided to me by a former member. "The truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities," he wrote there in 2006, "was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud." Moreover, "the Politburo's response to the mob scene at 'Tiananmen' stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action." Indeed, continued Mr. Freeman, "I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be."

We have already seen a string of poorly vetted appointments from the Obama White House, like those of Tom Daschle and Bill Richardson, that after public scrutiny were tossed under the bus. The chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council differs from those cases, for it does not require Senate confirmation. If someone with such extreme views has been appointed to such a sensitive position, is this a reflection of Mr. Obama's true predilections, or is it proof positive that the Obama White House has never gotten around to vetting its own vetters?

Either way, if those complaining loudest about politicized intelligence have indeed placed a China-coddling Israel basher in charge of drafting the most important analyses prepared by the U.S. government, it is quite a spectacle. The problem is not that Mr. Freeman will shade National Intelligence Estimates to suit the administration's political views. The far more serious danger is that he will steer them to reflect his own outlandish perspectives and prejudices.

Mr. Schoenfeld, a resident scholar at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., is writing a book about secrecy and national security.
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