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24101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: October 01, 2010, 07:06:00 PM

The tweets started arriving in August, and they did not mince words. One of the first accused the South Korean government of being "a prostitute of the United States." The Twitter account, under the name "uriminzok," or "our nation," seemed to be part of a sprawling North Korean digital operation that included a Facebook account (registered as a man interested in "meeting other men," but solely for "networking purposes") and a series of YouTube videos meant to celebrate the might of the North Korean military.

View Full Image

Edel Rodriguez
 
.A spokesman for the North Korean government quickly denied any involvement with the Facebook and Twitter accounts, but he acknowledged that they were the work of government supporters living in China and Japan. The owner of the Facebook page (which the Palo Alto, Calif., company eventually deleted, citing violation of its terms of service) told a South Korean news agency that it was run by a Pyongyang-based publishing outlet affiliated with the government. Apparently, even the notoriously isolated rulers of North Korea know how to practice what the U.S. State Department calls "21st-century statecraft."

While authoritarian governments continue to censor the Web and crack down on bloggers—a few days ago, Iran sentenced the controversial blogger Hossein Derakhshan to 19½ years in prison for "insulting sanctities," among other charges—they are also increasingly using the Internet for their own propaganda. Officials are pouring resources into social media and hitting the blogs to disseminate pro-government views and undermine their critics. And they're succeeding: The decentralized nature of online conversations often makes it easier to manipulate public opinion, both domestically and globally. Regimes that once relied on centralized systems of media control can now deliver ideological messages more subtly, with the help of little-known intermediaries like anonymous commenters on websites.

Chinese authorities have established a formidable online propaganda operation, much of it geared to internal needs. Not only do they train and pay bloggers to try to steer dissenting online discussions in a more favorable direction, they also send text messages with inspirational Maoist quotes, promote computer games in which players fight corrupt officials, and design patriotic ring tones. (On National Day in 2009, millions of customers of state-controlled China Mobile woke up to discover that their ring tones had been replaced with a nationalistic tune sung by the actor Jackie Chan.)

The Kremlin is not far behind. It relies on the services of several high-profile bloggers who promote the government's talking points, helping the Kremlin to reach the hip digital audiences who avoid its masterful propaganda on TV. But the authorities haven't given up on television altogether. Some of the Kremlin's Internet cardinals even get to co-host their own shows during prime time. Russian authorities are also embracing new platforms. In early 2010 the Duma announced a proposal to give tax breaks to firms that feature patriotic themes in their computer games.

The North Korean case is unusual, of course. Ordinary citizens have no access to the Web, so the tweeting is presumably meant to tease South Koreans, who aren't allowed to visit North Korean websites without permission from their own government. In August, Seoul quickly blocked access to the North Korean tweets, probably to the great delight of the North Korean authorities, who seem to relish any opportunity to highlight the South's undemocratic regulations.

Tweets From the Top
@uriminzok: South Korea is 'a prostitute of the United States' (North Korea, regime supporters)
@chavezcandanga: 'The squalid ones said they won. Well, let them keep winning like this!' (Hugo Chávez)
@KremlinRussia_E: 'My congratulations to @BarackObama on his birthday' (Dmitry Medvedev)
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Edel Rodriguez
 
.North Korea's Internet presence has traditionally been limited to a handful of official sites, but the situation is slowly beginning to change. Earlier this year, South Korean authorities accused the North of penetrating South Korean blogs and forums to spread rumors that the sinking of the Cheonan warship in March 2010—one of the thorniest issues in recent relations between the two countries—was orchestrated by Seoul in order to blame the disaster on Pyongyang.

This doesn't mean that there are hordes of North Korean government officials who spend their days surfing indie rock blogs. Such latitude might undermine the morale of government bureaucrats: Once they got on Facebook, they might start learning about capitalism by playing FarmVille. Such operations are probably executed much as they would be by any other government, by outsourcing them to the private sector or, at minimum, encouraging those who sympathize with the government

North Korea aside, most authoritarian governments have already accepted the growth of the Internet culture as inevitable; they have little choice but to find ways to shape it in accord with their own narratives—or risk having their narratives shaped by others. Once they realize that censorship doesn't work in an environment where new blogs can be set up in a matter of seconds, they turn to propaganda. Instead of blocking the views that they don't like, they seek to marginalize them, often by undermining the credibility of critics. Accusing them of being Western stooges often does the trick.

For all the supposed omnipotence of China's censorship apparatus, even Chinese leaders acknowledge that online spin can be more effective at diffusing online tensions. Wu Hao, a local official who's become the godfather of China's Internet propaganda, said last year that "public opinion on the Internet must be solved with the means of the Internet." It's for this reason that the government has nurtured a digital army of online commentators—known as the 50-Cent Party for the scant pay they receive for each comment—who eagerly perform damage control on the Chinese Internet.

Fifty-centers are only rarely used to promote some genuinely new party position, but rather as a means of containing the online reaction to sensitive political issues, predominantly by seeding doubt. The governments of Azerbaijan and Nigeria have experimented with similar schemes. For all their supposed fear of the Twitter Revolution, the Iranian clerics in Qom have been running blogging workshops—mostly targeting religious women—since 2006. Their goal is to influence online discourse about highly sensitive issues like the role of women in Iranian society.

There is also a more pragmatic reason for authoritarian governments to go online: Many of their opponents are already active in this space. Countless Facebook groups in support of Gamal Mubarak—who may soon succeed his father at the helm of Egypt—sprouted up after many young Egyptians took to the site to vent their criticisms and publicize antigovernment protests. (The junior Mr. Mubarak claims no relationship to his online boosters.)

Something similar is happening in Venezuela, where Hugo Chávez, after seeing the opposition use Twitter to mobilize campaigns against him, jumped on the bandwagon, gaining nearly 900,000 followers in five months. Using the name Chavezcandanga (in Spanish, candanga means "the devil," but Venezuelans also use the term to describe someone naughty and wild), Mr. Chávez has been avidly tweeting his way through the recent parliamentary election campaign. His Twitter response to the results of last weekend's election: "The squalid ones said they won. Well, let them keep winning like this!" Given his designs for a transcontinental revolution, Mr. Chávez may also see Twitter as a way to mobilize supporters in other Spanish-speaking countries, who don't always have the privilege of watching "Aló Presidente," his Sunday TV show.

In many of these propaganda fights, the quality of one's arguments often matters far less than their quantity. Victory often comes down to who can construct the most impressive online persona by adding new friends and writing witty tweets. Incumbents, who have state resources at their disposal, usually enjoy a significant advantage. A few months into his Twitter adventure, Mr. Chávez announced a plan to allocate 200 staffers and state funds to boost his Twitter presence.

As the public sphere has grown decentralized and media based in the West have lost their dominance in setting the global agenda, it has become easier for governments—as well as for corporations, fringe movements and anyone else with an ax to grind—to promote their agendas. Bribing 100 bloggers is often much easier than bribing the editorial board of one newspaper.

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Edel Rodriguez
 
.In doing this, of course, anxious authoritarians are simply following wider market trends. Helping clients to establish effective control online has already become a lucrative industry. Australia's uSocial offers to place a story of your choice on the front page of popular social news sites like Digg.com, as well as to sell you new Facebook friends (1,000 for just $197) or new Twitter followers (1,000 for just $87). Although most Internet companies frown on such abuse of their services, they cannot root them out completely—and, as existing brands try to master the digital space, the demand is poised to grow.

Or consider Megaphone, a desktop tool designed by a group of Israeli activists and released during the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. Megaphone identifies any new online polls about Israel and immediately prompts its users to visit the poll's website and cast their votes. It also tracks favorable articles about Israel in the international press, urging users to push such stories to the "most emailed" lists on websites by sending them to all their friends. Moscow and Beijing would presumably love to have a Megaphone-like tool the next time that the international press accuses them of starting yet another war in the Caucasus or suppressing the rights of Tibetans.

Can supporters of democracy in the West stop or at least thwart the growth of authoritarian influence on the Internet? Maybe. Should they try? That is a much harder question to answer. Western governments could fight this insidious new form of state propaganda by creating, for example, some kind of website for rating the authenticity of Russian or Chinese online commentators. Alternatively, all comments from one IP address might be aggregated under a unique online profile, thus exposing the operatives working from the offices of the government's propaganda department.

But in most cases, such Western interventions would also erode online anonymity and put dissidents' lives on the line. The best that Western governments can do is to educate—in person or remotely—those running important political websites about how to build communities, keep their content visible despite all the spin and avoid being overwhelmed by pro-government intruders.

In the meantime, as long as it helps to embarrass its enemies in the South, a tweeting North Korea is also a stronger North Korea. American officials, still giddy with enthusiasm for digital statecraft, have been a little too quick to welcome North Korea's entry into the world of social media. "The Hermit Kingdom will not change overnight, but technology once introduced can't be shut down. Just ask Iran," tweeted the U.S. State Department's Philip Crowley in August. Maybe—but technology, once introduced, can also be co-opted to serve ends very different from free expression. Just ask the Kremlin or China's 50-centers.

—Evgeny Morozov is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, a fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom," due out in January.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704116004575522072016129094.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLETopMiniLeadStory#ixzz119gbhyFQ
24102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: October 01, 2010, 06:46:09 PM
See my post #415 of 9/4/10.
24103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No pressure on: October 01, 2010, 06:39:31 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDXQsnkuBCM&feature=player_embedded#!
24104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia-Asia (Japan, China, etc) on: October 01, 2010, 11:28:01 AM
In the wake of Japanese weakness to Chinese pressure comes this , , ,

Russia's Focus Shifts to the East

While on a visit to the far eastern Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said on Wednesday that the Pacific Kuril Islands chain is a “very important” part of Russia. Medvedev pledged to visit the Kuril Islands, which are controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan, in the “nearest future.” Medvedev was scheduled to visit the islands during his trip, but the stop was canceled, allegedly due to bad weather.

STRATFOR has closely followed how Moscow has paid and continues to pay substantial attention to the geopolitical events to its west — i.e., Europe and the United States. But over the past few years, Russia has finally achieved a degree of security that allows it to turn its attention to its neighbors to the east. It is true that these eastern neighbors are thousands of desolate Siberian miles from the Russian core of Moscow and St. Petersburg. But they are important to Russia nonetheless, as Medvedev’s comments about the Kurils indicate. This eastern front, which not only includes the heavyweights of China and Japan but also dynamic players like Vietnam and Indonesia, has of late seen a notable increase in attention from Russia. These interactions raise interesting questions, not only about what is going on now, but also what this could bring — in terms of opportunities, risks and challenges — in the future.

Russia is a country that spans nearly the entire Eastern Hemisphere. As such, while its core and core interests are in the West, it has natural interests in the East as well. And these interests in the Asia Pacific region have paralleled what has in recent decades been a remarkable shift in global economic power from West to East. China and Japan continue to jockey over the position of the world’s second largest economy, and South Korea is nearly in the top 10. While European countries struggle to determine what exactly the eurozone should and should not be, Asian economies, generally in better financial shape after having suffered their own crisis in 1997-98, concentrated on public investment to maintain growth and expanding regional trade relationships to make up for lower demand from Europe and the United States. While they are still heavily dependent on exports, they are not shackled by debt like the Western developed countries and continue to grow at relatively fast rates.

“Russia has finally achieved a degree of security that allows it to turn its attention to its neighbors to the east.”
For Russia, Asia’s increased economic power has made it a growing market to tap. As a country that is capital poor with an economy that is driven by the export of natural resources, Russia inevitably looks to East Asia in its efforts to build new relationships. Russia is increasingly looking at the energy-hungry countries of Northeast Asia especially as an opportunity to increase its oil and natural gas exporting portfolio, signing major deals over the past few years with the likes of China and Japan. Russia sends liquefied natural gas exports to Korea and Japan, and 200,000 barrels of oil flow daily to China. But there are opportunities with other countries as well. Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Indonesia are hungry for military, energy, nuclear and space technology — something that Russia also happens to have copious amounts of and is increasingly sending their way.

Even better for Russia, the East Asia region is one where Moscow does not need to attempt to exert hegemony the way it does in Europe. Since the Mongol invasions, there have been no strategic challengers that pose an existential threat to Russia as Hitler or Napoleon did — although Japan has repeatedly threatened Russia’s Pacific presence and China could one day threaten Russia’s dominance in Central Asia. But even if a more substantial challenger were to emerge, Russia has the strategic depth of the sheer space of Siberia, as opposed to the short and smooth invasion route presented by the North European Plain.

Of course there are challenges and potential perils for Russia when looking east as well. Russia has had a historically ambivalent relationship with China, and a disastrous defeat in the Russo-Japanese war was one of the primary reasons for the fall of Tsardom that led to the Russian Revolution. In geopolitics there is no such thing as permanent allies — only alliances of necessity or convenience — and while a dynamic East Asia could present some convenient relationships now, this convenience can quickly change, whether through economic stagnation, political realignment or other means. In particular, Medvedev’s promise of a trip to the Kuril Islands is especially (and deliberately) aggravating for Japan, which is in the midst of a lengthy dispute with China over another group of disputed islands and is therefore attempting to strengthen its defense posture and shore up its security alliance with the United States.

In terms of energy cooperation, Moscow is pursuing opportunities in the Asia Pacific region that show promise, though they also bring enormous geographical and financial difficulties. The success of these projects depends on future Asian economic growth, which faces risks related to global circumstances and, in particular, China’s structural flaws and deepening imbalances. Moreover, Russia’s thorny territorial disputes and deep-seated antagonism with Japan, and the persistent differences with China that prevent a long-term strategic alignment, ensure that a growing Russian focus on the region brings political and security challenges. Asian countries also have much to gain from Russia, but are simultaneously wary of Russia’s tendency to use energy as a political tool, its military might, its arms trade with their regional opponents, and its plans to revitalize its naval presence in the Pacific. At the same time, the United States is strengthening its Pacific alliance structure and attempting to re-engage with Southeast Asia. In other words, Russia is becoming more involved in the region at a time when the region’s economic and security conditions are changing rapidly, and changing in ways that suggest heightening competition.

So after decades of being engrossed in the Western theater throughout the Cold War, and the subsequent 20 years of rebuilding the influence it had lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has emerged in the East an area worth looking at for Russia. And now, even if only remarking on the importance of a small and far-flung island chain, it certainly appears that Moscow finally has a mounting interest to do so.
24105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: October 01, 2010, 11:23:15 AM
Are you saying that the 1099 reporting requirement includes a self-employed person buying gold?  Wouldn't th requirement be limited to business expenses?  Elsewise perforce food purchases would be included too, yes?
24106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 01, 2010, 11:19:24 AM
If I read the article correctly, that is because His Glibness failed to push amnesty hard enough.
24107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-6 on: October 01, 2010, 11:14:34 AM
I have been asked what it's like in the Green Zone, especially how is it different than when I was here 11/2008-11/2009.
 
Well I'll try.  But first a little background.
 
There are many Amercians who reside and operate in the IZ.  Soldiers on FOBs (forward operating bases).  Embassy employees on the NEC (New Embassy Complex).  And sundry other contractors who do not reside or work on either of those. (Generally speaking I fall into that last category).  Many soldiers and civilians never leave the FOBs they work on.  Many embassy employees never leave the NEC. 
 
For the embassy employees, even if they leave the NEC to go somewhere they have to get permission.  They have to be transported in an armored vehicle with a driver who waits for them.  They are not allowed to walk around in the IZ.
 
Many contractors never leave the bases they work on.
 
So all in all there are not too many people driving around the IZ by themselves, in a thin skinned vehicle, sometimes parking out of the street, and working in a complex that is not part of a FOB or the embassy.  And there are even fewer who are living in a building by themselves, that has only some Iraqis living in containerized housing units on the same grounds (that will change soon when my partner gets here).
 
As far as "being safe", the siutation here like this.  The chances of a VBIED detonation are much less likely than out in the Red Zone because ostensibly all vehicles allowed into the IZ are thoroughly searched.  Regular IEDs would still be more difficult to emplace, but not impossible.  Heck, a sticky bomb was found on a car inside the IZ on Christmas Eve 2008.  However, the IZ is a mortars and rockets magnet.  The NEC is right on the Tigris, and the Red Zone is right across from it (the Sdar City side I might add).  So rockets and mortars fly into here with some regularity.  In the past 2-years several Triple Canopy Peruvian guards have died on their posts.  Also some U.N. employees around December 2008/January 2009.  Since the IZ is rather small to begin with, the footprint insurgents need to get rockets or mortars into in order to mess with the Americans, Brits, and Iraqi govt. is not that large.
 
On a good day the counter rocket and mortar system (CRAM) which is able to detect flying objects of specified speeds and angles will sound an alarm and you have maybe 15-seconds to get under cover.  They have a video here of a guy who suddenly took off running for a duck and cover bunker (sample photo attached), and maybe 10-seconds later a mortar landed on the exact spot he was standing on when the alarm first sounded.  The duck and cover photo attached is actually a better one because it has sandbags around the concrete overhead and side cover.http://
24108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: October 01, 2010, 10:26:02 AM
Helluva show last night from GB.  I thought it did a fine job in search of the underlying coherence of BO's world view.
24109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, & the US Dollar on: October 01, 2010, 10:19:05 AM
Specifically what does the Obamacare law say about gold?  huh
24110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: TARP not so expensive on: October 01, 2010, 10:17:02 AM
Well it is POTH writing on a subject likely to exhibit itself at its worst.  Is there any truth to any of this?

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

WASHINGTON — Even as voters rage and candidates put up ads against government bailouts, the reviled mother of them all — the $700 billion lifeline to banks, insurance and auto companies — will expire after Sunday at a fraction of that cost, and could conceivably earn taxpayers a profit.

 
A final accounting of the government’s full range of interventions in the economy, including the bailouts of the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is years off and will most likely remain controversial and potentially costly.

But the once-unthinkable possibility that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program could end up costing far less, or even nothing, became more likely on Thursday with the news that the government had negotiated a plan with the American International Group to begin repaying taxpayers.

The rescue of the troubled insurer included $70 billion from the bailout program that was enacted two years ago, at the height of the global financial crisis late in the Bush administration, initially to prop up big banks.

At the White House on Thursday, the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, briefed President Obama about A.I.G. and about the broader outlook for the expiring rescue program, putting the projected losses at less than $50 billion, at most. Yet neither the White House nor Congressional Democrats are likely to boast much in the month remaining before midterm elections. For most voters, TARP remains a four-letter word.

Brian A. Bethune, the chief financial economist in the United States for IHS/Global Insight, while critical of parts, called the program over all “a tremendous success. Now obviously, they can’t go out on the campaign trail and say that, because certainly, for a lot of voters, it’s just not going to resonate.”

The “bank bailout” was the first big issue, before the Obama administration’s roughly $800 billion stimulus plan and its health insurance overhaul, to stoke the rise of the Tea Party movement. After supporting TARP, several Republicans have lost elections largely because of their votes. For many Americans, TARP is more than a vote; it is a symbol of big government at its worst, intervening in private markets with taxpayers’ billions to save Wall Street plutocrats while average Americans struggle through the recession those financiers spawned.

Fewer than three in 10 Americans say they believe the program was necessary “to prevent the financial industry from failing and drastically hurting the U.S. economy,” according to a poll in July for Bloomberg News.

“This is the best federal program of any real size to be despised by the public like this,” said Douglas J. Elliott, a former investment banker now associated with the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

“It was probably the only effective method available to us to keep from having a financial meltdown much worse than we actually had. Had that happened, unemployment would be substantially higher than it is now, the deficit would have gone up even more than it has,” Mr. Elliott added. “But it really cuts against the grain for a public that is so angry at banks to think that something that so plainly helped the banks could also be good for the public.”

After Sunday the Treasury can no longer commit money to new initiatives or recycle repayments to other purposes.

The Treasury never tapped the full $700 billion. It committed $470 billion and has disbursed $387 billion, mostly to hundreds of banks and later to A.I.G., the car industry — Chrysler, General Motors, the G.M. financing company and suppliers — and to what is, so far, a failed effort to help homeowners avoid foreclosures.

When Mr. Obama took office, the financial system remained so weak that his first budget indicated the Treasury might need another $750 billion for TARP. The administration soon dropped that idea as Mr. Geithner overhauled the rescue program and the banking system stabilized. Still, by mid-2009, the administration projected that TARP could lose $341 billion, a figure that reflected new commitments to A.I.G. and the auto industry.

The Congressional Budget Office, which had a slightly higher loss estimate initially, in August reduced that to $66 billion.

Now Treasury reckons that taxpayers will lose less than $50 billion at worst, but at best could break even or even make money. Its best-case assumptions, however, assume that A.I.G. and the auto companies will remain profitable and that Treasury will get a good price as it sells its corporate shares in coming years.

“We’d have to be very lucky to have both A.I.G. and the auto companies pay us back in full,” Mr. Elliott said.

Also, the best result for taxpayers could mean bad results for squeezed homeowners. Treasury has been ready to use up to $50 billion to help modify mortgages for people facing foreclosure, but its initiatives have been such a failure that little has been spent.

Whatever the final losses from housing, auto companies, A.I.G. or smaller banks, those will be offset by taxpayers’ profits from the big banks that have been the focus of their ire since 2008.

They have repaid their loans and Treasury has collected about $25 billion more from dividends and proceeds from the sale of warrants held as collateral, officials say. Many smaller banks hold on to their loans, however, reflecting their weakness and the desire of some others to keep the money given its advantageous terms. Scores are behind on dividend payments to the Treasury.

By any measure, TARP’s final tally will be less than expected amid the crisis. But the program remains a big loser politically.

On Wednesday, four days before its expiration, House Republicans nonetheless unsuccessfully forced a vote on legislation to end TARP. “We would be much better served if private institutions would either fail or be successful on their own,” said Representative Erik Paulsen of Minnesota, in an interview.

Among those who voted for the program in 2008, several Republicans have lost nominating contests for re-election or for another office, and others are on the defensive in fall races.

Senator Robert F. Bennett of Utah was “Bailout Bob” to Republicans who refused to re-nominate him for a fourth term.

“For those who were screaming at me — and screaming was the operative word — ‘You’ve just saddled our children and grandchildren with $700 billion,’ I said, ‘No, I haven’t,” Mr. Bennett said in an interview.

“My career is over,” he added. “But I do hope that we can get the word out that TARP, number one, did save the world from a financial meltdown and, number two, did so in a manner that, I believe, won’t cost the taxpayer anything. And even if it did not all get paid back, it was still the thing to do.”
24111  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: October 01, 2010, 09:23:52 AM
Speaking of the wrong side of a highlight reel, I still remember being the wrong side of Top Dog's power backhand that dropped me and left me eye's spinning which appears in various of our promo clips.
24112  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: September 30, 2010, 04:15:28 PM
Sting/Baltic Dog:

I don't really understand how the PPV thing works, except for what we can watch via out satellite TV service.  The name of the show is "Dog Brothers Cruel Combat"   rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes

As for the language on the fighter registration form, "video etc , , , and otherwise" seems rather obvious and quite clear to me; my intention has always be to be quite clear-- just like "no suing for no reason for nothing no how no way".  Both are  all-encompassing language.  Forgive my crankiness (lot of elbow pain from an injury sustained last week) but I am not getting how this can be missed.   

I've been at making Dog Brothers Gatherings happen for 22 years now.  My truck is 20 years old.  I think people should be glad that I have a shot at some success here!
24113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 30, 2010, 11:24:59 AM
Here's Stratfor's report on the same matter:

   
Pakistan Blocks ISAF Supply Lines After Border Incident
September 30, 2010 | 1332 GMT

TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images
NATO supply trucks traveling through the Khyber PassRelated Special Topic Page
The War in Afghanistan
Attack helicopters supporting International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops on the Afghan-Pakistani border reportedly fired upon a Pakistani Frontier Corps position Sept. 30, killing three paramilitary Frontier Corps troops and wounding three others. According to Pakistani media reports, there have been two incidents of ISAF attack helicopters engaging targets in Pakistan. One took place before dawn and one at 9:30 a.m. local time, both northwest of Parachinar, the main town in the Kurram agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to preliminary reports. The ISAF forces were operating in the Dand Patan district of Afghanistan’s Paktia province. ISAF has claimed that its troops were responding to mortar fire and remained on the Afghan side of the border, and it believes that at least one of the two places engaged by close air support could have been on the Afghan side of the border. The Pakistani government quickly issued strong condemnation of the incident.





(click here to enlarge image)
There is no shortage of potential scenarios for what actually happened on the ground. ISAF troops are regularly engaged from the Pakistani side of the border, and cross-border exchanges of fire and fighting on the border are common. ISAF may have even been fired upon from the Frontier Corps position. Or it may have been an error on the ISAF’s part and the Frontier Corps position was accidentally or inappropriately engaged. Pakistan has suggested that the Frontier Corps position was deliberately engaged.

But the facts in this case are really beside the point. According to a well-placed STRATFOR source in Pakistan, the Pakistani army’s General Headquarters considers this the fourth incident in less than a week — and the most offensive because the Pakistanis believe their troops were directly targeted. Just two days earlier, Pakistan warned that it would stop protecting ISAF supply lines to Afghanistan if foreign aircraft continued engaging targets across the border. Following through on that threat, the Pakistanis closed the border crossing over the Khyber Pass at Torkham in response to the Sept. 30 incident.

It is not yet clear how long the border will remain closed in protest. Short disruptions are completely manageable logistically in Afghanistan and have been accommodated in the past. But the government in Islamabad has been feeling increased pressure as U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle strikes on militant positions in Pakistan’s tribal areas have increased, and widespread domestic dissatisfaction with the response to the humanitarian disaster caused by flooding earlier this year has only further strained the government.

Domestically, Islamabad has little room to compromise or back down on this. Moving forward, the key issue is not the facts of this particular incident, but the Pakistani government’s response — essentially whether this is largely for show, and what Islamabad demands of the United States operationally. At this stage it is unclear how long this situation will persist but it is very likely that the move to block the supply route was designed to force the United States to back off from the latest wave of cross-border operations.

 
24114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Israel? on: September 30, 2010, 11:18:07 AM
In a Computer Worm, a Possible Biblical Clue
By JOHN MARKOFF and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: September 29, 2010

 
Deep inside the computer worm that some specialists suspect is aimed at slowing Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon lies what could be a fleeting reference to the Book of Esther, the Old Testament tale in which the Jews pre-empt a Persian plot to destroy them.


That use of the word “Myrtus” — which can be read as an allusion to Esther — to name a file inside the code is one of several murky clues that have emerged as computer experts try to trace the origin and purpose of the rogue Stuxnet program, which seeks out a specific kind of command module for industrial equipment.

Not surprisingly, the Israelis are not saying whether Stuxnet has any connection to the secretive cyberwar unit it has built inside Israel’s intelligence service. Nor is the Obama administration, which while talking about cyberdefenses has also rapidly ramped up a broad covert program, inherited from the Bush administration, to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. In interviews in several countries, experts in both cyberwar and nuclear enrichment technology say the Stuxnet mystery may never be solved.

There are many competing explanations for myrtus, which could simply signify myrtle, a plant important to many cultures in the region. But some security experts see the reference as a signature allusion to Esther, a clear warning in a mounting technological and psychological battle as Israel and its allies try to breach Tehran’s most heavily guarded project. Others doubt the Israelis were involved and say the word could have been inserted as deliberate misinformation, to implicate Israel.

“The Iranians are already paranoid about the fact that some of their scientists have defected and several of their secret nuclear sites have been revealed,” one former intelligence official who still works on Iran issues said recently. “Whatever the origin and purpose of Stuxnet, it ramps up the psychological pressure.”

So a calling card in the code could be part of a mind game, or sloppiness or whimsy from the coders.

The malicious code has appeared in many countries, notably China, India, Indonesia and Iran. But there are tantalizing hints that Iran’s nuclear program was the primary target. Officials in both the United States and Israel have made no secret of the fact that undermining the computer systems that control Iran’s huge enrichment plant at Natanz is a high priority. (The Iranians know it, too: They have never let international inspectors into the control room of the plant, the inspectors report, presumably to keep secret what kind of equipment they are using.)

The fact that Stuxnet appears designed to attack a certain type of Siemens industrial control computer, used widely to manage oil pipelines, electrical power grids and many kinds of nuclear plants, may be telling. Just last year officials in Dubai seized a large shipment of those controllers — known as the Simatic S-7 — after Western intelligence agencies warned that the shipment was bound for Iran and would likely be used in its nuclear program.

“What we were told by many sources,” said Olli Heinonen, who retired last month as the head of inspections at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, “was that the Iranian nuclear program was acquiring this kind of equipment.”

Also, starting in the summer of 2009, the Iranians began having tremendous difficulty running their centrifuges, the tall, silvery machines that spin at supersonic speed to enrich uranium — and which can explode spectacularly if they become unstable. In New York last week, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, shrugged off suggestions that the country was having trouble keeping its enrichment plants going.

Yet something — perhaps the worm or some other form of sabotage, bad parts or a dearth of skilled technicians — is indeed slowing Iran’s advance.

The reports on Iran show a fairly steady drop in the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium at the main Natanz plant. After reaching a peak of 4,920 machines in May 2009, the numbers declined to 3,772 centrifuges this past August, the most recent reporting period. That is a decline of 23 percent. (At the same time, production of low-enriched uranium has remained fairly constant, indicating the Iranians have learned how to make better use of fewer working machines.)

Computer experts say the first versions of the worm appeared as early as 2009 and that the sophisticated version contained an internal time stamp from January of this year.

These events add up to a mass of suspicions, not proof. Moreover, the difficulty experts have had in figuring out the origin of Stuxnet points to both the appeal and the danger of computer attacks in a new age of cyberwar.

For intelligence agencies they are an almost irresistible weapon, free of fingerprints. Israel has poured huge resources into Unit 8200, its secretive cyberwar operation, and the United States has built its capacity inside the National Security Agency and inside the military, which just opened a Cyber Command.

But the near impossibility of figuring out where they came from makes deterrence a huge problem — and explains why many have warned against the use of cyberweapons. No country, President Obama was warned even before he took office, is more vulnerable to cyberattack than the United States.

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Page 2 of 2)



For now, it is hard to determine if the worm has infected centrifuge controllers at Natanz. While the S-7 industrial controller is used widely in Iran, and many other countries, even Siemens says it does not know where it is being used. Alexander Machowetz, a spokesman in Germany for Siemens, said the company did no business with Iran’s nuclear program. “It could be that there is equipment,” he said in a telephone interview. “But we never delivered it to Natanz.”


But Siemens industrial controllers are unregulated commodities that are sold and resold all over the world — the controllers intercepted in Dubai traveled through China, according to officials familiar with the seizure.

Ralph Langner, a German computer security consultant who was the first independent expert to assert that the malware had been “weaponized” and designed to attack the Iranian centrifuge array, argues that the Stuxnet worm could have been brought into the Iranian nuclear complex by Russian contractors.

“It would be an absolute no-brainer to leave an infected USB stick near one of these guys,” he said, “and there would be more than a 50 percent chance of having him pick it up and infect his computer.”

There are many reasons to suspect Israel’s involvement in Stuxnet. Intelligence is the single largest section of its military and the unit devoted to signal, electronic and computer network intelligence, known as Unit 8200, is the largest group within intelligence.

Yossi Melman, who covers intelligence for the newspaper Haaretz and is at work on a book about Israeli intelligence over the past decade, said in a telephone interview that he suspected that Israel was involved.

He noted that Meir Dagan, head of Mossad, had his term extended last year partly because he was said to be involved in important projects. He added that in the past year Israeli estimates of when Iran will have a nuclear weapon had been extended to 2014.

“They seem to know something, that they have more time than originally thought,” he said.

Then there is the allusion to myrtus — which may be telling, or may be a red herring.

Several of the teams of computer security researchers who have been dissecting the software found a text string that suggests that the attackers named their project Myrtus. The guava fruit is part of the Myrtus family, and one of the code modules is identified as Guava.

It was Mr. Langner who first noted that Myrtus is an allusion to the Hebrew word for Esther. The Book of Esther tells the story of a Persian plot against the Jews, who attacked their enemies pre-emptively.

“If you read the Bible you can make a guess,” said Mr. Langner, in a telephone interview from Germany on Wednesday.

Carol Newsom, an Old Testament scholar at Emory University, confirmed the linguistic connection between the plant family and the Old Testament figure, noting that Queen Esther’s original name in Hebrew was Hadassah, which is similar to the Hebrew word for myrtle. Perhaps, she said, “someone was making a learned cross-linguistic wordplay.”

But other Israeli experts said they doubted Israel’s involvement. Shai Blitzblau, the technical director and head of the computer warfare laboratory at Maglan, an Israeli company specializing in information security, said he was “convinced that Israel had nothing to do with Stuxnet.”

“We did a complete simulation of it and we sliced the code to its deepest level,” he said. “We have studied its protocols and functionality. Our two main suspects for this are high-level industrial espionage against Siemens and a kind of academic experiment.”

Mr. Blitzblau noted that the worm hit India, Indonesia and Russia before it hit Iran, though the worm has been found disproportionately in Iranian computers. He also noted that the Stuxnet worm has no code that reports back the results of the infection it creates. Presumably, a good intelligence agency would like to trace its work.
24115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: September 30, 2010, 10:56:23 AM
Good points about the CBO and the JCT.  To this list of two I would add a third, "Baseline Budgeting" which is the unique set of rules which apply to governmental bookkeeping.  Example?  A 10% rate of increase is projected over 5 years.  Then in year 2, the rate of increased is reduced to 6%.  Under BB, this is called a 4% cut.  shocked angry angry

Anyway, here's this:
================
Alexander's Essay – September 30, 2010

The New and Improved GOP?
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." --The Signers
Republican congressional leaders have issued their 21-page "Pledge to America" with the objective of convincing "the American people we have learned our lesson and we are ready to govern," as one of them claimed.

However, this Pledge amounts to "Trust Us, Version 2.0," and reads like a punch list for all the things Republicans did not do when they held the House, Senate and the White House, just a few short years ago. (As you may recall, Republicans controlled the House for the first six years of George W. Bush's presidency, and the House sets the budget.) It notes that its objective is to "stem the relentless growth in government that has occurred over the past decade," a large measure of which occurred under Republican rule.

The new Pledge is modeled after Newt Gingrich's successful "Contract with America," which was issued six weeks before the 1994 midterm election in the first term of another charismatic charlatan, Bill Clinton. That pledge propelled the GOP into a House majority for the first time in four decades.

The current slate of Republican leaders are hoping that enough of Barack Hussein Obama's supporters have awakened to the error of their ways, and will propel Republicans into the majority again. (It remains to be seen if enough Republicans have awakened to the error of their ways, and if so, can they follow up with a presidential nominee in 2012 with a bit more gravitas than Bob Dole, who, as Bush 41 did in 1992, gave Clinton the presidency.)

The Pledge spells out a few elements of the Reagan model for economic restoration, which Republicans promise to enact if they achieve a congressional majority after the November elections. To that end, it serves as a benchmark for accountability.

It vows to stop any tax increase scheduled after 1 January 2011.

It promises to end the much-maligned Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), revokes any unspent "stimulus" dollars, and commits to "roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels," which would reduce the budget by $120 billion in 2011 -- only about 10 percent of the deficit, but that's a start. It also pledges to end government intervention in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the massive mortgage entities that seeded the current economic decline.

It obligates Republicans to pass legislation requiring congressional approval for any government regulation that would have more than a $100 million impact on the economy (cap-and-trade legislation), effectively holding legislators accountable for the labyrinth of regulations which have greatly stifled job growth and productivity, and which cost consumers hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

While failing to address non-discretionary spending such as entitlements and debt service, which constitute most of the $3.8 trillion budget, the Pledge does promise a vote to "repeal and replace the government takeover of health care." This, of course, leads us to ask: Replace it with what?

The Pledge commits to put a cap on non-military government hiring and spending, but it lacks earmark reform (especially attached to military spending bills) and fails to mention the line-item veto, much less a Balanced Budget Amendment. It requires a "sunset clause" for any new federal program, which would require legislators to renew funding periodically -- and face the consequences of those votes.

The Pledge affirms, "Foreign terrorists do not have the same rights as American citizens," which is to say that acts of terrorism will not be watered down into mere criminal acts. It also "reaffirms the authority of state and local law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of all federal immigration laws," and the immediate need to secure our southern border.

However, the most important element of the Pledge is this: It assures that Republicans will pass legislation requiring "the specific constitutional authority upon which the bill is justified" for any and all legislation ... which will most assuredly put the contest between Rule of Law and the so-called "living constitution" front and center, where it belongs.

The Republicans' current Pledge is clearly a stepchild of the "Contract from America," a grassroots effort by the Tea Party movement to restore constitutional integrity. The Tea Party has thus rung the bell of wayward Republicans, most of whom are now promising to reform their ways.

Will the Pledge succeed?

The short answer is, yes, because among the diminished ranks of Republicans left in the House and Senate there are about 120 members who have been steadfast in their commitment to the conservative principles outlined in the Republican Platform, as their voting records attest. In other words, there is still a powerful core contingent of conservative Republicans in Congress.

But, the real chance of success lies in the influx of an outstanding slate of new candidates running on conservative principles, those who did not need a Pledge to America to run. And keep your eye on those outspoken Republican women among them -- they are leading the charge in defense of our Constitution.

Unfortunately, plenty of pantywaist RINOs, Republicans who have most certainly not voted consistently in support of conservative principles, will still hold congressional seats after November, and they will certainly derail some of the Pledge's commitments.

The bottom line, however, is not whether Republicans stick to their Pledge to America, but whether they will honor their sacred oath to "support and defend" our Constitution, as specified in Article VI, clause 3. It is that pledge which should, first and foremost, guide every elected official.

Finally, allow me a few words about the language in the preamble to the Republican Pledge: "America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny. Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course."

The language above is a Beltway-processed knockoff of the real thing from our Declaration of Independence which set forth as follows: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness [and] whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."

The latter is not about replacing "government agendas" when they become destructive to liberty, it is about replacing government.

Politicians of every stripe should take note: The defense of Essential Liberty was the foundation of the first Tea Party back in 1773, and it remains so in today's Tea Party movement. Millions of Patriots once again avow, "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

That is how Republicans should close their Pledge.
24116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTB/LATimes: Children left behind on: September 30, 2010, 10:38:42 AM
Not looking to disrupt the flow here, but a moment for another in my random reminders that China has some very weak links in its chain.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-china-left-behind-20100930,0,4655427.story

24117  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: September 30, 2010, 09:24:04 AM
Ummm , , , not sure why you would think that.  From the very beginning part of the deal has been that Dog Brothers Inc. gets all rights to the footage etc.  Footage has been appearing in publicly offered for sale videos/DVDs for some 17 years now!  And there was the Nat Geo show too, which has been aired many, many times.

Anyway, here is the In Demand schedule for the show: 
 
1) In Demand.
iN1 10/18 at 10:00pm

iN1 10/18 at 1:00am

iN3 10/19 at 6:00pm

iN2 10/20 at 1:30pm

iN3 10/21 at 11:00am

iN1 10/21 at 9:00pm

iN2 10/22 at 10:30am

iN3 10/23 at 12:00pm

iN1 10/25 at 11:00pm

iN2 10/27 at 7:30am

iN1 10/28 at 8:00pm

iN2 10/29 at 6:30pm

iN1 10/30 at 8:00am

iN3 10/30 at 11:00am

24118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-5 on: September 30, 2010, 12:27:06 AM
I heard yesterday that the plethora of silenced pistols finding their way into Iraq, and which are becoming the preeminent means of hits, are coming in from Iran.
 
I also heard that one member of the Commission on Integrity was whacked several weeks back by a gunman with silenced pistol, as he sat in his car right at an entrance into the Green Zone.  The gunman then just melted away.
 
This is always a difficult senario when pontificating on personal security in a place like Iraq.  We always tell them "alter your routes."  Well there aren't very many entrances into the Green Zone, and it's not like it's convenient to go to another one.  That could add another hour to your commute.  Sometimes there simply aren't any alternate routes.  In Karmah, or Hadithah, or other places I have been, there is basically one road in and out of those places.
 
So what does that leave?  Altering your times?  Well you can't get into the Green before a certain time.  And you pretty much want to be out before sunset.  So once again the window of option is not that large.
 
I am sure it doesn't help that half the Iraqis I see driving are on a cell phone, so they don't have the alert level they need to maybe pickup on an attack in progress.

============
24119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: What the US Navy is doing in the Desert on: September 30, 2010, 12:22:34 AM
Pappy Dog:

That Riverine concept is interesting. 
24120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Negotiations with the Taliban on: September 30, 2010, 12:10:25 AM
The Necessity -- and Difficulties -- of Negotiations With the Taliban

Afghan President Hamid Karzai made an impassioned speech on Tuesday calling for the Taliban to enter into negotiations to reach a political settlement. His office then announced the names of 68 former officials and tribal leaders who will form the High Peace Council. This council, which was decided upon in June during the National Council for Peace, Reconciliation and Reintegration, is to be responsible for negotiations with the Taliban — and the government in Kabul is, at least in theory, expected to abide by the agreement the council reaches. Of course, Karzai has handpicked the council members, so his interests are protected. The day before Karzai’s speech, The New York Times published comments from the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, that “very high-level” Taliban leaders have reached out to the “highest levels” of the Afghan government. The correlation of these events indicates that considerable movement has occurred this week on efforts to set the stage for negotiations with the Taliban.

Not only did elements of the Taliban issue denials on Tuesday regarding Petraeus’ assertion, but also another Taliban spokesman insisted that the Afghan people were anxiously anticipating a Taliban victory in Afghanistan. While some factions of the Taliban might be interested in a negotiated settlement, as a whole the movement has maintained considerable internal discipline and is not being forced to the negotiating table out of fear of defeat.

“The Taliban lose little by being at the negotiating table; they can always walk away.”
But negotiation and political accommodation can stem from both fear and opportunity. It is the role of force of arms to provide the former, and the current counterinsurgency strategy has not instilled — and does not appear close to instilling — that fear. But U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force efforts have not been without their tactical effect. The squeeze has been put on Taliban funds, and special operations forces raids have reduced the Taliban’s ranks. There is certainly the opportunity for a settlement that brings political accommodation about sooner rather than later and at a reduced cost to the Taliban in terms of lives and effort. The Taliban lose little by being at the negotiating table; they can always walk away. And they do not harbor illusions about being able to return to power and control the country to the degree they did at the turn of the century.

So the question is not one of whether talks might take place. They already have taken place behind closed doors, and they will no doubt continue. The question is what the cost will be, in terms of concessions, of convincing the Taliban to negotiate meaningfully and genuinely on a political settlement on a timeframe compatible with U.S. constraints. Because the United States, and by proxy Karzai’s regime, are now at the height of their military strength, and because the Taliban — not Washington and Karzai — enjoy the luxury of time, the Taliban have little incentive to allow negotiations to proceed rapidly or make significant concessions themselves.

Thus, the question becomes what price the Taliban will demand from their position of strength and whether that price is one that not only Kabul and Washington, but also Islamabad (which could well be key to a negotiated settlement), will accept. That remains very much in doubt. None of the underlying realities of the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan have suddenly shifted.

The developments of recent days essentially provide additional infrastructure to facilitate negotiations, but it is unclear whether an agreement on political accommodation is reachable or on what timetable any agreement might be implemented. Nevertheless, political accommodation will both underlie and facilitate a U.S. drawdown, so the prospects for progress will warrant careful scrutiny.
24121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Pelosi-Reid deficits on: September 29, 2010, 02:57:28 PM
By STEVE MOORE
During a recent press conference, President Obama blamed George W. Bush for the nation's fiscal condition. "When I walked in," he declared, "wrapped in a nice bow was a $1.3 trillion deficit sitting right there on my doorstep." Earlier this year he asserted that "we came in with $8 trillion worth of debt over the next decade."

Neither statement is correct, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). True enough, the outgoing Bush administration bequeathed big deficits to Mr. Obama. The expected 2009 deficit was $1.19 trillion, not $1.3 trillion, however—and the actual deficit for 2009 came in at $1.41 trillion, meaning that the new president added some $220 billion to the total.

 Steve Moore in Washington with the latest on the looming tax increases.
.Far more significant, however, was the president's misstatement that Mr. Bush and the Republicans left the country with $8 trillion of debt over the next 10 years. The CBO's projected 10-year deficit when Mr. Obama took office was actually $4.09 trillion. Now, after 20 months of his presidency, the expected deficit has almost doubled, to $7.68 trillion.

A strong case can be made that the people most responsible for the gigantic deficits we face today are neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama. The real culprits are Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Congress controls the purse strings. When Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid rose to their present jobs in January 2007, the deficit was $161 billion. It had been on a downward trajectory from $413 billion in 2004. Three years later, the Pelosi-Reid Congress had added $1.2 trillion to the deficit.

Of course, Mr. Bush sponsored or signed into law many of these deficit-raising bills, such as the bank bailouts and effective tax rebates of 2008. But the Democratic Congress passed them.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
.Long forgotten is the promise Mrs. Pelosi made on the day she became speaker: "Our new America will provide unlimited opportunity for future generations, not burden them with mountains of debt." I think future generations would like a do-over.

Today, Mr. Obama and Democrats in Congress love to talk about how Mr. Bush turned a $200 billion Clinton surplus into a $1 trillion deficit. Indeed he did, though they ignore the 9/11 terrorist attacks that happened less than a year after Mr. Bush became president. Those attacks were fiscal game-changers, jolting the economy to a temporary standstill and requiring unplanned spending for homeland security and antiterrorism efforts.

For the sake of comparison, let's look at the Pelosi-Reid fiscal record over 10 years. In January 2007, the CBO projected a $379 billion surplus over the next decade. Now, after four years under Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid, and two years of Mr. Obama in the White House, the 2007-2016 projection is a deficit of $7.16 trillion.

This deterioration of the nation's fiscal situation is arguably the worst in United States history, and it was brought to us courtesy of a congressional leadership that pledged "pay as you go" budgeting to bring the budget into balance.

It is no wonder that Americans are not eager to retain the services of these two spendthrifts as leaders of Congress.

Mr. Moore is senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
24122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Chronicle 9/29/10 on: September 29, 2010, 02:44:13 PM
Chronicle · September 29, 2010

The Foundation
"In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as Pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will now and then peek out and show itself." --Benjamin Franklin

The Demo-gogues
With friends like these... "People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up. ... If people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place. ... It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. ... The idea that we've got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible." --Barack Obama hammering his own base in an interview with Rolling Stone

"[I want to] remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives. This president has done an incredible job. He's kept his promises." --Joe Biden on the same talking points

"And so those who don't get -- didn't get everything they wanted, it's time to just buck up here, understand that we can make things better, continue to move forward and -- but not yield the playing field to those folks who are against everything that we stand for in terms of the initiatives we put forward." --Joe Biden

"We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening." --Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), another snotty elitist lecturing voters

The GOP's best friend: "f we allow this to be a referendum on whether people are happy where they are now, we'll lose." --Joe Biden

But on the other hand: "I guarantee you we're going to have a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate. I absolutely believe that." --Biden

Patronizing: "There are strains in the Tea Party that are troubled by what they saw as a series of instances in which the middle-class and working-class people have been abused or hurt by special interests and Washington, but their anger is misdirected." --Barack Obama

"[Fox News has] a point of view that I disagree with. It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world." --Obama in the Rolling Stone interview

On fiscal responsibility: "What I'm seeing out of the Republican leadership over the last several years has been a set of policies that are just irresponsible, and we saw in their Pledge to America a similar set of irresponsible policies. ... [Although GOP leaders] say they want to balance the budget, they propose $4 trillion worth of tax cuts and $16 billion in spending cuts, and then they say we're going to somehow magically balance the budget. That's not a serious approach." --Barack Obama, who must consider Republicans amateurs when it comes to blowing money

Editorial Exegesis
"Democrats seeking to boost voter turnout this fall are beginning to sound like the late comedian Chris Farley's portrayal of a 'motivational speaker' on Saturday Night Live. Farley's character sought to inspire young people by announcing that they wouldn't amount to 'jack squat' and would someday be 'living in a van down by the river.' ... This week President Obama chimed in with another uplifting message about the American electorate. Mr. Obama told Rolling Stone that the tea party movement is financed and directed by 'powerful, special-interest lobbies.' But this doesn't mean that tea party groups are composed entirely of corporate puppets. Mr. Obama graciously implied that a small subset of the movement is simply motivated by bigotry. The President said 'there are probably some aspects of the Tea Party that are a little darker, that have to do with anti-immigrant sentiment or are troubled by what I represent as the President.' The tea party is now supported by a third of the country in some polls. Perhaps advocates for smaller government shouldn't take Mr. Obama's comments personally. In the new Democratic attacks on the voting public, not even Democrats are spared. Vice President Joe Biden recently urged the party's base to 'stop whining' and 'buck up,' a message echoed by Mr. Obama in his Rolling Stone interview. The President ... added that 'if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place.' Making the case for left-wing voters to show up in November, Mr. Obama told Rolling Stone that he is presiding over 'the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.' We'd agree, but his problem is that most Americans don't like that agenda and millions of voters in both parties wanted him to oversee an economic expansion instead. Blaming the voters is not unheard of among politicians, but usually they wait until after an election." --The Wall Street Journal


Insight
"We demand entire freedom of action and then expect the government in some miraculous way to save us from the consequences of our own acts.... Self-government means self-reliance." --President Calvin Coolidge (1873-1933)

"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him." --American writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)

Upright
"Progressives want to raise taxes on individuals who make more than $200,000 a year because they say it's wrong for the rich to be 'given' more money. Sunday's New York Times carries a cartoon showing Uncle Sam handing money to a fat cat. They just don't get it. As I've said before, a tax cut is not a handout. It simply means government steals less. What progressives want to do is take money from some -- by force -- and spend it on others. It sounds less noble when plainly stated." --columnist John Stossel

"Americans are learning once again that campaign rhetoric is no substitute for sound economics. And any American President who promises to make your life better by vilifying your fellow countryman, is a very dangerous character indeed." --columnist Austin Hill

"What optimistic Americans used to call a rising tide that lifts all boats is now once again derided as trickle-down economics. In other words, a newly peasant-minded America is willing to become collectively poorer so that some will not become wealthier." --historian Victor Davis Hanson

Point: "Obama and his cronies keep referring to 'the last decade' in their sorry attempt to blame the Republicans for the present state of the nation. The truth, however, is that the GOP only ran things for the first six of those 10 years. Once the liberals took control of Congress in 2006, it was Dodd, Frank and Obama, along with their good friends at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who brought about the housing meltdown and the ensuing financial collapse. Since 2008, it's been the Obama administration that has sent the national deficit soaring through the stratosphere." --columnist Burt Prelutsky

Counterpoint: "In the 'Pledge to America' they unveiled last week, House Republicans promise they will 'launch a sustained effort to stem the relentless growth in government that has occurred over the past decade.' Who better for the job than the folks who ran the government for most of that time?" --columnist Jacob Sullum

"[The tea party movement] is about electing people who are going to get the Federal government to stop pressing the handle that has been flushing America's wealth, ingenuity, and capacity for hard work down the toilet bowl of history by promising more and more to people who have produced less and less until no one has anything." --political analyst Rich Galen


Dezinformatsia
The sycophant's lament: "People don't appreciate some of the amazing legislative agenda that [Barack Obama has] accomplished. Is this a failure of leadership? Has he allowed the opposition to define him?" --ABC's Christiane Amanpour

Asking the tough questions: "Former President Clinton said he doesn't think the Democrats, and you included, have been rigorous enough in pushing back against some of the Republican attacks. Over these next five weeks [before the November election], Mr. President, do you intend to change your tone or your emotion in terms of your pushing back?" --NBC's Matt Lauer to BO

Demented: "You think business can sit on those billions and trillions of dollars for two more years after they screw Obama this time? Are they going to keep sitting on their money so they don't invest and help the economy for two long years to get Mr. Excitement Mitt Romney elected president? Will they do that to the country?" --MSNBC's Chris Matthews

The "living constitution": "Joe Miller, the Palin-blessed Republican nominee for Senate in Alaska, suggests that Social Security is unconstitutional because it wasn't in the Constitution. The Constitution is a dazzling document, but do these originalists really think things haven't changed since then? If James Madison beamed down now, he would no doubt be stunned at the idea that America had evolved so far but was hemming itself in by the strictest interpretation of his handiwork. He might even tweet about it." --New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd

Newspulper Headlines:
Breaking News From March: "Democrats Decide on Political Suicide" --The New Republic website

Questions Nobody Is Asking: "Will God Save the Democrats?" --TheAtlantic.com

Answers to Questions Nobody Is Asking: "Why Democrats Are Pushing a Series of Bills Doomed to Fail" --Christian Science Monitor

The One Thing They Know About: "Congress Changes Intellectual Disability Wording" --Associated Press

Out on a Limb: "Bill Clinton: There's a 50-50 Chance for Peace Deal" --YNetNews.com (Israel)

News You Can Use: "Manhattan Is No Place to Juice Up Your Mitsubishi Clown Mobile" --Bloomberg

Breaking News From 1 Samuel 17:50-51: "Humiliating Doesn't Begin to Describe Giants' Performance" --CBS Sports website

Bottom Stories of the Day: "Obama Calls Republican Leaders 'Irresponsible'" --ABC news website (U.S.)

(Thanks to The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto)

Village Idiots
Pot and kettle: "If you love deficits, you will love the Republican plan." --White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, who must have missed the deficit quadrupling under Democrat control

More lectures: "People have a right to be angry. They have a right to be disappointed. But they still have to be make a choice. An election is not a referendum on their anger. It's a choice between two candidates." --Bill Clinton

That's a good question: "Do you know how many political and economic decisions are made in this world by people who don't know what in the living daylights they are talking about?" --Bill Clinton

We know what's best for you: "[T]here's a little Homer Simpson in all of us. Sometimes we have self-control problems, sometimes we're impulsive and that in these circumstances, both private and public institutions, without coercing, can make our lives a lot better. Once we know that people are human and have some Homer Simpson in them, then there's a lot that can be done to manipulate them." --Obama regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, on helping us make "right choices"

We're not buying what you're selling: "I'm extremely sensitive to the feelings of the families of 9/11." --Ground Zero Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Short Cuts
"President Obama's old sloganeering has worn thin. It's time for a new motto for the most powerful man in the world. And he's up to the challenge. Obama's new slogan: 'It's not me, it's you.'" --columnist Ben Shapiro

"On the political gimmickry scale, the GOP's new 'Pledge to America' is worse than some, better than others. Let's say it falls somewhere between the Federalist Papers and a Harry Reid press release -- which, admittedly, pins it down as much as saying you lost a cufflink somewhere between Burkina Faso and Cleveland." --columnist Jonah Goldberg

"This week, all we've heard about is how [Christine] O'Donnell once said she went on a date with a guy in high school who claimed to be a witch. (So what? Bill Clinton married one!)" --columnist Ann Coulter

"President Obama signaled a change in U.S. policy toward the Third World Thursday in a U.N. speech. He said he intends to promote commerce and free trade with poor nations rather than just give them money. If it works there, he's going to try it here." --comedian Argus Hamilton

"I've got some problems with evolution myself. ... I look around at, say, Democrats, and I say, 'That's evolved?'" --columnist P.J. O'Rourke
24123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Closer ties with US? (China) on: September 29, 2010, 01:21:37 PM

Summary
The recent trip by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to the United States offered several hints on Manila’s foreign policy plans, namely, its desire to balance China and the United States off each other, and expand economic and political cooperation with Washington while avoiding a direct confrontation with Beijing.

Analysis
Newly elected Philippine President Benigno Aquino III arrived back in Manila on Sept. 20 following his weeklong visit to the United States, his first official foreign trip as president. During his visit, Aquino attended various business conferences, the U.N. General Assembly summit, the second U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ meeting, and held a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Since his inauguration in late June, Aquino has not provided many clues on his foreign policy intentions. However, evidence from the trip suggests that his preferred course may be to expand ties with the United States while being careful to avoid directly confronting China, and play both powers off one another. With Washington looking to re-engage in the Asia-Pacific region, Manila may find an eager partner on its economic development plans, a priority after years of underperformance.

Aquino was accompanied on his trip by dozens of top Philippine business leaders seeking investment from multinational corporations under the auspices of the Public-Private Partnership initiative heavily promoted by the new government. The United States is atop the list of countries where Manila has sought this investment, and according to Aquino, the trip has yielded $2.4 billion from various global giants, including Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard and JPMorgan Chase, and secured more than 43,000 new jobs that will be established over the next three years. Aquino also witnessed the signing of a $434 million grant through the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) antipoverty initiative.

Aside from the business deals, the trip has indicated Manila’s foreign policy inclinations in multiple ways. One highly contentious issue at the U.S.-ASEAN summit was the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, in which countries including the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and China all stake claims over various islands. The United States has increased its involvement in these disputes as part of its Asia-Pacific re-engagement plan, pushing for free navigation in the waters and taking the side of ASEAN nations against China, which has become more assertive on its claims. While ASEAN claimants do not oppose (and to some extent encourage) U.S. involvement when it could improve their position in dealing with China, most do not want such involvement to become so obtrusive as to spark a confrontation with Beijing.

Until this point, Aquino’s administration has declined to request U.S. assistance in territorial disputes, with Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo emphasizing that the issue is “a matter between ASEAN and China,” and Philippine defense officials reiterating during U.S. Pacific Command chief Robert Willard’s visit to the country that the Philippines has no desire for a territorial confrontation. This appears to have changed recently, as the Philippines has shown more aggressiveness on the disputed Spratly islands, which several other countries also claim. The Philippine government announced a plan Sept. 14 to repair and upgrade its military outposts, including the airport and other facilities in the Spratlys and said four government ministers would soon visit, a move criticized by China.

In another example of increased aggressiveness, the draft of a joint declaration prepared by the United States and the Philippines for the Sept. 24 U.S.-ASEAN summit in New York originally intended to address the South China Sea and reassert the principles of a nonviolent dispute resolution enshrined in the 2002 China-ASEAN code of conduct agreement. The explicit mention of the South China Sea was stricken from the final statement after consultation with other ASEAN member states concerned about offending China, but Aquino appeared to be undeterred, telling the Council on Foreign Relations that ASEAN members should respond as a bloc if China attempts to dictate the future of the South China Sea.

Though it may be unrelated, it is worth noting that the Aquino administration’s newfound assertiveness coincided with a strain in Sino-Philippine relations over the fallout from a hostage crisis that left eight Chinese tourists dead in Manila. Beijing initially exerted substantial pressure on the Aquino government to investigate the incidents but then backed off, perhaps to avoid pushing Manila closer to Washington ahead of the just-concluded trip by Aquino. The language in the original ASEAN draft resolution would appear to prove these fears well founded, but the eventual acquiescence to tone down the resolution by omitting reference to the South China Sea may indicate Manila is not willing to risk a direct confrontation with Beijing at this point.

Using the United States to balance against Beijing in the near term as well as deeper and more long-lasting security concerns about territorial disputes appear to have affected Aquino’s decision on reviewing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) — a legal framework for U.S. soldiers stationed in the Philippines. Aquino was expected to raise the issue in his meeting with Obama, but reports have indicated he declined to discuss it, likely fearing it could jeopardize his country’s entreaties to the United States. Instead, he discussed possible joint removal of war materials on Corregidor Island left from World War II.

While this suggests the new government appeared to be on the track of improving the relations with Washington, it is being careful to avoid directly challenging Beijing. Despite the recent strain in relations, Aquino while in New York expressed a wish to see Chinese leaders, Beijing has offered an invitation to Aquino for a visit, and the Philippines has several investment deals planned with China as well. Ultimately, Manila’s goal for years has been to avoid relying on one single power. Maintaining good relations with both powers enabled the Philippines to balance the United States and China off each other. Particularly since the new government places economic rebuilding as the country’s primary goal, cash-rich China could play an important role in the process.



Read more: The Philippine Push for Closer Ties with Washington | STRATFOR
24124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: September 29, 2010, 11:20:16 AM
Democrats seeking to boost voter turnout this fall are beginning to sound like the late comedian Chris Farley's portrayal of a "motivational speaker" on Saturday Night Live. Farley's character sought to inspire young people by announcing that they wouldn't amount to "jack squat" and would someday be "living in a van down by the river."

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who prefers sailing vessels to vans by the river, recently tried out the Farley method. Said Mr. Kerry, "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening." Bay State voters are surely thrilled to be represented by a man so respectful of their concerns.

This week President Obama chimed in with another uplifting message about the American electorate. Mr. Obama told Rolling Stone that the tea party movement is financed and directed by "powerful, special-interest lobbies." But this doesn't mean that tea party groups are composed entirely of corporate puppets. Mr. Obama graciously implied that a small subset of the movement is simply motivated by bigotry.

The President said "there are probably some aspects of the Tea Party that are a little darker, that have to do with anti-immigrant sentiment or are troubled by what I represent as the President." The tea party is now supported by a third of the country in some polls.

Perhaps advocates for smaller government shouldn't take Mr. Obama's comments personally. In the new Democratic attacks on the voting public, not even Democrats are spared. Vice President Joe Biden recently urged the party's base to "stop whining" and "buck up," a message echoed by Mr. Obama in his Rolling Stone interview. The President demanded that his supporters "shake off this lethargy," warning that it would be "inexcusable" for liberals to stay home on Election Day.

Mr. Obama added that "if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place." Making the case for left-wing voters to show up in November, Mr. Obama told Rolling Stone that he is presiding over "the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward."

We'd agree, but his problem is that most Americans don't like that agenda and millions of voters in both parties wanted him to oversee an economic expansion instead. Blaming the voters is not unheard of among politicians, but usually they wait until after an election.
24125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Coming soon to a homeland near you? on: September 29, 2010, 10:22:37 AM
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/09/28/mumbai-style-terror-attack-thwarted-europe/
24126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 28, 2010, 08:05:50 PM
That is very interesting JDN, from what you say, China seems to have a plausible claim at least.  Should I want to cite a source, what source would that be?

24127  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Pre-orders now being taken on: September 28, 2010, 04:49:22 PM
http://dogbrothers.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=42&products_id=156

It should begin shipping in 7-10 days.
24128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: Mex Security Memo 9/27/10 on: September 28, 2010, 04:43:15 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Sept. 27, 2010
September 27, 2010 | 1936 GMT
      PRINT Text Resize:

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Arrest of El Tigre
Mexican Federal Police agents arrested Margarito “El Tigre” Soto Reyes and
eight other integral members of the Sinaloa Federation in an operation in
Zapopan, Jalisco state, the afternoon of Sept. 25. Soto Reyes assumed
control of the Sinaloa Federation’s methamphetamine trafficking, production
and supply chain after the death of Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal in
a Mexican military operation July 29. The U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement agency reported that Soto Reyes was responsible for sending
nearly half a ton of methamphetamine to the United States each month after
procuring precursor chemicals (pseudoephedrine and ephedrine) via the “South
Pacific” route — from Argentina through Peru, Panama and Central America to
Mexico — and manufacturing the drug in rural drug labs in west-central
Mexico. Several key operational players in the organization’s
methamphetamine logistical and manufacturing line were among the eight
arrested with Soto Reyes:

  a.. Juan Pedro Mora, who allegedly was responsible for procuring precursor
chemicals from suppliers in South America, often posing as a veterinarian
representative;
  b.. Martin Terrazas Leyva, who was in charge of Soto Reyes’ personal
affairs and security as well as monitoring shipments of narcotics;
  c.. Hilarion Diaz Rosas, who reportedly was responsible for the physical
security for the various large-scale drug laboratories where the
organization would manufacture large quantities of methamphetamine; and
  d.. Maximino Martinez Sanchez, who allegedly was responsible for the
organization’s massive drug manufacturing operations in the large and often
rural drug labs.
The others arrested with Reyes reportedly were employees at the drug labs.

El Nacho’s death in July appeared to decapitate the leadership of the
Sinaloa Federation’s methamphetamine production operations, possibly
damaging relationships with suppliers and trafficking contacts, but it did
not really affect the organization’s capacity to produce and traffic
methamphetamine. The operation that netted Soto Reyes and his top
operational leaders likely has done more damage to the Sinaloa Federation,
as it will be incredibly difficult to replace the operational knowledge and
expertise taken out of commission by the arrests, and it will certainly
impede the organization’s ability to produce and traffic methamphetamine in
the short term. Furthermore, the detailed knowledge and information that
could be gleaned from those arrested Sept. 25 likely will lead to follow-on
raids and arrests of other Sinaloa Federation operational assets.

The Sinaloa Federation arguably has been the biggest producer and trafficker
of methamphetamine in Mexico for the past several years, but its reduced
operational capacity could result in other organizations like La Familia
Michoacana (LFM), which also has a history of methamphetamine production in
the region, moving in and taking a larger portion of the Mexican
methamphetamine production market. Even though LFM and the Sinaloa
Federation are part of the New Federation alliance with the Gulf Cartel
against Los Zetas, business operations typically are seen as more important
than these types of cartel agreements and could be a point of contention
between the two organizations.

Attacks on Mayors in Nuevo Leon and Chihuahua
Unknown gunmen shot and killed Prisciliano Rodriguez Salinas, the mayor of
Doctor Gonzalez, Nuevo Leon state, and another city employee in an ambush
near the entrance of Rodriguez’s ranch outside the city around 9:30 p.m.
local time Sept. 23. Doctor Gonzalez is a small rural agricultural community
about 56 km (35 miles) east of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, and is located
in a region that has been rife with conflict between Los Zetas and the New
Federation and has seen numerous Mexican military operations. Several people
were brought in for questioning in the shooting, including three brothers
who were involved in a land dispute with Rodriguez, but all have since been
released. The ambush style of the attack on Rodriguez bears the hallmark of
a cartel-sanctioned operation; however, no group has officially been accused
of being behind the attack.

Also, Ricardo Solis Manriquez, the mayor-elect of Gran Morelos, Chihuahua
state, was shot multiple times in the head in an attack inside a business
along the Cuauhtemoc-Chihuahua highway around 1:30 p.m. local time Sept. 24
by a group of armed men in two cars. Solis underwent seven hours of
emergency surgery and is reportedly in critical condition in the intensive
care unit.

Rodriguez is the second mayor to have been killed in two months in Nuevo
Leon state after the death of Santiago Mayor Edelmiro Cavazos Leal, whose
body was found Aug. 18 after he was reported kidnapped. The recent attacks
on elected officials in both Nuevo Leon and Chihuahua state continue to show
the brazenness of criminal groups operating in the region and that no
position of authority in the region is safe from the reach of these groups.
While no motive for the attacks on Rodriguez and Solis has been declared
officially, and there has been no indication that either mayor was working
with a criminal organization, it is common for organized crime groups to
target their rivals’ support structure, which has included local law
enforcement and local elected officials in past cases. With endemic
corruption still a large issue, particularly in these two regions of Mexico,
it cannot immediately be ruled out that these two mayors were simply working
for the wrong side of the cartel conflict taking place in their respective
regions.





Click to view map

Sept. 20
  a.. Unidentified gunmen killed a former coordinator for the state attorney
general’s office in Durango, Durango state. The victim had resigned from his
post three days earlier.
  b.. Police discovered five dismembered bodies in Tanhuato, Michoacan
state. The letter “J” had been carved into the victims’ backs.
  c.. A woman was killed in the Benito Juarez neighborhood of
Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico state, by an unidentified gunman. The attacker shot
the victim once in the chest.
Sept. 21
  a.. Police in the municipality of Tlajomulco de Zuniga discovered a
severed head and a dismembered body next to a sign warning that the remains
were booby trapped with explosives. No explosives were found at the scene.
  b.. Residents of Ascension, Chihuahua state, beat two suspected kidnappers
to death.
  c.. Four men died in an ambush in the municipality of Atotonilco de Tula,
Hidalgo state.
  d.. Unidentified gunmen killed two children of Ecologist Green Party of
Mexico President Sonia Hernandez in Otatitlan, Veracruz state.
Sept. 22
  a.. Unidentified gunmen attacked a ministerial police station in the
Urdiales neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. No injuries were
reported.
  b.. Two severed heads were discovered near the entrance to the settlement
of “El 30” in the municipality of Acapulco, Guerrero state.
  c.. Unidentified gunmen killed three people at a seafood restaurant in San
Ignacio, Sinaloa state.
Sept. 23
  a.. Police arrested Carlos Barragan Figueroa, a suspected leading figure
of Los Zetas, in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. Barragan Figueroa is suspected
of ordering an attack on a bar, which resulted in the deaths of eight
people.
  b.. Seven people were killed during a firefight between suspected
organized crime groups in Acapulco, Guerrero state. Soldiers arrested five
policemen at the scene who were allegedly accompanying a group of gunmen.
Sept. 24
  a.. Authorities announced the arrest of a suspected La Linea gunman
identified as “El 7,” who is believed to have participated in the killing of
an El Diario journalist in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, in 2008.
  b.. Police discovered the mutilated body of an unidentified man in a
drainage canal in the Anahuac neighborhood of San Nicolas de los Garza,
Nuevo Leon state.
  c.. Two suspected cartel gunmen were killed during a firefight with
soldiers in the municipality of General Teran, Nuevo Leon state.
Sept. 25
  a.. Unidentified gunmen killed the Mexican Roma community patriarch in a
Mexico City hospital.
  b.. Four men suspected of dismembering two people were arrested in
Zapotlanejo, Jalisco state, after a firefight with police.
  c.. Police arrested suspected Sinaloa cartel member Margarito “El Tigre”
Soto Reyes in Zapopan, Jalisco state. Soto Reyes is believed to be the
successor to Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal.
Sept. 26
  a.. Soldiers arrested the leader of Los Zetas in Quintana Roo state,
identified as Jose de Fernandez Lara Diaz, and seized several weapons, 1.35
million pesos (more than $107,000) and $36,000.
  b.. Police found the bodies of four men abandoned near a highway in
Cuernavaca, Morelos state. A message near the victims attributed the crime
to the Cartel Pacifico Sur.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Sept. 27, 2010 | STRATFOR
24129  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Single men, you may be out of luck on this one , , , on: September 28, 2010, 03:57:23 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/09/23/emergency-remove-bra/?test=latestnews
24130  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Movies/TV of interest on: September 28, 2010, 03:10:38 PM
I am very sorry to hear that Andy Whitfield's health problems continue and pray for his health to return.

I know they have been advertising a prequel season (The Rise of Krixus seems to be the theme), but still AW's withdrawal leaves a huge and perhaps fatal gap in the show for the show's future.  How can he be replaced at this point?
24131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 28, 2010, 02:34:06 PM
So, what is the legal background to our giving the islands to Japan?  How did we acquire dominion over them?
24132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 28, 2010, 02:30:04 PM
Glenn Beck had an incredible clip of Sen Kerry yesterday wherein he rather directly accuses American voters of being clueless.

24133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Lieberman: China can shut down the internet, why can't we? on: September 28, 2010, 02:27:54 PM
http://www.infowars.com/lieberman-china-can-shut-down-the-internet-why-cant-we/

This site is often quite irresponsible so read with care.  Caveat lector!
24134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: More drones in Waziristan on: September 28, 2010, 07:35:27 AM
Certainly it is hard to square with reports like this:


 WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. has drastically increased its bombing campaign in the mountains of Pakistan in recent weeks, American officials said. The strikes are part of an effort by military and intelligence operatives to try to cripple the Taliban in a stronghold being used to plan attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

As part of its covert war in the region, the C.I.A. has launched 20 attacks with armed drone aircraft thus far in September, the most ever during a single month, and more than twice the number in a typical month. This expanded air campaign comes as top officials are racing to stem the rise of American casualties before the Obama administration’s comprehensive review of its Afghanistan strategy set for December. American and European officials are also evaluating reports of possible terrorist plots in the West from militants based in Pakistan.

The strikes also reflect mounting frustration both in Afghanistan and the United States that Pakistan’s government has not been aggressive enough in dislodging militants from their bases in the country’s western mountains. In particular, the officials said, the Americans believe the Pakistanis are unlikely to launch military operations inside North Waziristan, a haven for Taliban and Qaeda operatives that has long been used as a base for attacks against troops in Afghanistan.

Beyond the C.I.A. drone strikes, the war in the region is escalating in other ways. In recent days, American military helicopters have launched three airstrikes into Pakistan that military officials estimate killed more than 50 people suspected of being members of the militant group known as the Haqqani network, which is responsible for a spate of deadly attacks against American troops.

Such air raids by the military remain rare, and officials in Kabul said Monday that the helicopters entered Pakistani airspace on only one of the three raids, and acted in self-defense after militants fired rockets at an allied base just across the border in Afghanistan. At the same time, the strikes point to a new willingness by military officials to expand the boundaries of the campaign against the Taliban and Haqqani network — and to an acute concern in military and intelligence circles about the limited time to attack Taliban strongholds while American “surge” forces are in Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials have angrily criticized the helicopter attacks, saying that NATO’s mandate in Afghanistan does not extend across the border in Pakistan.

As evidence of the growing frustration of American officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, has recently issued veiled warnings to top Pakistani commanders that the United States could launch unilateral ground operations in the tribal areas should Pakistan refuse to dismantle the militant networks in North Waziristan, according to American officials.

“Petraeus wants to turn up the heat on the safe havens,” said one senior administration official, explaining the sharp increase in drone strikes. “He has pointed out to the Pakistanis that they could do more.”

Special Operations commanders have also been updating plans for cross-border raids, which would require approval from President Obama. For now, officials said, it remains unlikely that the United States would make good on such threats to send American troops over the border, given the potential blowback inside Pakistan, an ally.

But that could change, they said, if Pakistan-based militants were successful in carrying out a terrorist attack on American soil. American and European intelligence officials in recent days have spoken publicly about growing evidence that militants may be planning a large-scale attack in Europe, and have bolstered security at a number of European airports and railway stations.

“We are all seeing increased activity by a more diverse set of groups and a more diverse set of threats,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano before a Senate panel last week.

The senior administration official said the strikes were intended not only to attack Taliban and Haqqani fighters, but also to disrupt any plots directed from or supported by extremists in Pakistan’s tribal areas that were aimed at targets in Europe. “The goal is to suppress or disrupt that activity,” the official said.

The 20 C.I.A. drone attacks in September represent the most intense bombardment by the spy agency since January, when the C.I.A. carried out 11 strikes after a suicide bomber killed seven agency operatives at a remote base in eastern Afghanistan.

According to one Pakistani intelligence official, the recent drone attacks have not killed any senior Taliban or Qaeda leaders. Many senior operatives have already fled North Waziristan, he said, to escape the C.I.A. drone campaign.

Over all the spy agency has carried out 74 drone attacks this year, according to the Web site The Long War Journal, which tracks the strikes. A vast majority of the attacks — which usually involve several drones firing multiple missiles or bombs — have taken place in North Waziristan.

The Obama administration has enthusiastically embraced the C.I.A.’s drone program, an ambitious and historically unusual war campaign by American spies. According to The Long War Journal, the spy agency in 2009 and 2010 has launched nearly four times as many attacks as it did during the final year of the Bush administration.

One American official said that the recent strikes had been aimed at several groups, including the Haqqani network, Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban. The United States, he said, hopes to “keep the pressure on as long as we can.”

But the C.I.A.’s campaign has also raised concerns that the drone strikes are fueling anger in the Muslim world. The man who attempted to detonate a truck filled with explosives in Times Square told a judge that the C.I.A. drone campaign was one of the factors that led him to attack the United States.

In a meeting with reporters on Monday, General Petraeus indicated that it was new intelligence gathering technology that helped NATO forces locate the militants killed by the helicopter raids against militants in Pakistan.

In particular, he said, the military has expanded its fleet of reconnaissance blimps that can hover over hide-outs thought to belong to the Taliban in eastern and southern Afghanistan.

The intelligence technology, General Petraeus said, has also enabled the expanded campaign of raids by Special Operations commandos against Taliban operatives in those areas.


Rod Nordland and Alissa J. Rubin contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Ismail Khan from Peshawar, Pakistan.
24135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The World's Oceans on: September 28, 2010, 07:06:57 AM
This thread may include subjects such as depletion of fish, ocean currents and their temperatures, dead zones (i.e. no oxygen, such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico) trash (e.g. the vast whirlpool of trash in the Pacific) and more.  We begin with  , , , waves.
================

Terrors of the sea

Are "rogue waves" responsible for the disappearance of dozens of ships every year?

 

THE CLOCK READ midnight when the 100-foot wave hit the ship, rising from the North Atlantic out of the darkness. Among the ocean’s terrors, a wave this size was the most feared and the least understood, more myth than reality—or so people had thought. This giant was certainly real. As the RRS Discovery plunged down into the wave’s deep trough, it heeled 28 degrees to port, rolled 30 degrees back to starboard, then recovered to face the incoming seas. What chance did they have, the 47 scientists and crew aboard this research cruise gone horribly wrong? A series of storms had trapped them 250 miles off the coast of Northern Ireland in the black void east of Rockall, a volcanic island that is nicknamed Waveland for the nastiness of its surrounding waters. More than a thousand wrecked ships lay on the seafloor below.

 

Captain Keith Avery steered his vessel directly into the onslaught, just as he’d been doing for five days. While weather like this was common in the cranky North Atlantic, these waves were unlike anything he’d encountered in 30 years of seafaring. And worse, they kept rearing up from different directions. Avery knew their only hope was to remain where they were, with their bow pointed into the waves. Turning around was too risky; if one of these giants caught Discovery broadside, there would be long odds on survival. A breaking 100-foot wave packs 100 tons of force per square meter and can tear a ship in half.

Below deck, the scientists huddled in their cabins nursing black eyes and broken ribs. Ten days earlier, in late January 2000, they had left port in Southampton, England, on what they had hoped would be a typical three-week trip to Iceland and back. Along the way they’d stop and sample the water for salinity, temperature, oxygen and other nutrients. From these tests the team would draw a picture of what was happening out there, how the ocean’s basic characteristics were shifting, and why. These are not small questions on a planet that is 71 percent covered in salt water. As the Earth’s climate changes—as the winds increase, as the oceans heat up—what does all this mean for us? Trouble, most likely, and this team was in the business of finding out how much. It was deeply frustrating for them to be lashed to their bunks rather than out on the deck working.

The trip was far from a loss, however. During the endless trains of massive waves, Discovery itself was collecting data that would lead to a chilling revelation. The ship was ringed with instruments; everything that happened out there was being precisely measured. Months later, long after Avery had returned everyone safely to the Southampton docks, Penny Holliday, one of the expedition’s two chief scientists, began to analyze these figures and would discover that the waves they had experienced were the largest ever scientifically recorded in the open ocean. The significant wave height, an average of the largest 33 percent of the waves, was 61 feet, with frequent spikes far beyond that. At the same time, none of the state-of-the-art weather forecasts and wave models—the information upon which all ships, oil rigs, fisheries, and passenger boats rely—had predicted these behemoths. In other words, under this particular set of weather conditions, waves this size should not have existed. And yet they did.

HISTORY IS FULL of eyewitness accounts of giant waves, monsters in the 100-foot range and beyond, but until very recently scientists dismissed them. The problem was this: According to the basic physics of ocean waves, the conditions that would produce a 100-footer were so far beyond rare as to virtually never happen. Anyone who claimed to have seen one, therefore, was engaging in nautical tall tales or outright lies.

Even so, it was difficult to discount a report from the polar hero Ernest Shackleton, hardly the type for hysterical exaggeration. During his crossing from Antarctica to South Georgia Island in April 1916, Shackleton recorded an encounter with a wave far larger than any he had seen in 26 years of experience on the ocean. “It was a mighty upheaval of the ocean,” he wrote. When the wave hit his ship, Shackleton and his crew were “flung forward like a cork.” Fast bailing and major luck were all that saved them from capsizing. “Earnestly we hoped that never again would we encounter such a wave.”

The men on the 850-foot cargo ship München would have seconded that, if any of them had survived their rendezvous with a similar wave on Dec. 12, 1978. Considered unsinkable, the München was a cutting-edge craft, the flagship of the German Merchant Navy. At 3:25 a.m., fragments of a Morse code Mayday, emanating from 450 miles north of the Azores, signaled that the vessel had suffered grave damage from a wave. But even after 110 ships and 13 aircraft were deployed—the most comprehensive search in the history of shipping—the ship and its 27 crew were never seen again. A haunting clue was left behind: Searchers found one of the München’s lifeboats, usually stowed 65 feet above the water, floating empty. Its twisted metal fittings indicated that it had been torn away. “Something extraordinary” had destroyed the ship, concluded the official report.

The München’s disappearance points to the main problem with proving the existence of a giant wave: If you run into that kind of nightmare, it’s likely to be your last. The force of waves is hard to overstate. An 18-inch wave can topple a wall built to withstand 125-mph winds, for instance, and 5-foot-tall surf regularly kills people caught in the wrong places. The number of people who’ve witnessed a 100-foot wave and made it back home to describe the experience is very small.

Then, in 1995, something happened that no one could ignore. On Jan. 1 that year, the North Sea was feisty due to a pair of storms, a brutish one crawling northward and a smaller one moving southward to meet it. Statoil’s Draupner oil-drilling platform sat somewhere between them, about 100 miles off the tip of Norway. For the crew who lived on the rig it was a New Year’s Day of 38-foot seas rolling by, as measured by the laser wave recorder on the platform’s underside.

Unpleasant, perhaps, but not especially dramatic—until 3 p.m., when an 85-foot wave careened over the horizon and walloped the rig at 45 mph. While the Draupner sustained only moderate damage, the proof was there. This wasn’t a case of laser malfunction or too many aquavit toasts the night before. It was the first confirmed measurement of a freak wave, more than twice as tall and steep as its neighbors, a teetering maniac ripping across the North Sea.

They were out there all right. You could call them whatever you wanted—rogues, freaks, giants—but the bottom line was that no one had accounted for them. The engineers who’d built the Draupner rig had calculated that once every 10,000 years the North Sea might throw them a 64-foot curveball in 38-foot seas. Eighty-five-foot waves were not part of the equation. But the rules had changed. Now scientists had a set of numbers that pointed to an unsettling truth: Some of these waves make their own rules. Suddenly the emphasis shifted from explaining why giant waves couldn’t simply leap out of the ocean to figuring out how it was that they did.

This was a matter of much brow sweat for the oil industry, which would prefer that its multimillion-dollar rigs not be swept away. It had happened before. In 1982 the Ocean Ranger, a 337-foot-high oil platform located 170 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, was struck by an outsize wave in heavy weather. We’ll never know how big the wave was exactly, for there were no survivors. Built to withstand 110-foot seas, the Ocean Ranger had capsized and sank close to instantly, killing all 84 people on board.

In the nautical world things were even more troubling. Across the global seas ships were meeting these waves, from megaton vessels like theMünchen down to recreational sailboats. At best, the encounters resulted in damage; at worst, the boats vanished. “Two large ships sink every week on average [worldwide], but the cause is never studied to the same detail as an air crash. It simply gets put down to ‘bad weather,’” said Dr. Wolfgang Rosenthal, senior scientist for the MaxWave Project, a consortium of European scientists that convened in 2000 to investigate the disappearing ships.

While Rosenthal’s numbers may be high, his point is well taken. Exact statistics of ships scuttled by giant waves are impossible to come by, but it is clear that every year, on average, more than two dozen large ships sink or otherwise go missing, taking their crews with them. When I first read about the missing ships, I was astonished. In the high-tech marine world of radar, GPS, and satellite surveillance, how could hundreds of enormous vessels just get swallowed up by the sea? Imagine the headlines if even a single 747 slipped off the map with all its passengers and was never heard from again. After the Draupner incident, it became undeniable: No one had a clue how waves behaved in the most extreme forms.

A WAVE MIGHT seem to be a simple thing, but in fact a wave of any kind is the most complicated form in nature. Paradoxically, a wave is both an object and a motion. When wave energy moves through water, the water itself doesn’t actually go anywhere. The wave energy does. It’s like cracking a whip.

In order to exist, waves require a disturbing force and a restoring force. In the ocean that disturbing force is usually, but not always, the wind. (Earthquakes, underwater landslides, and the gravitational pull of the sun and moon can also play this role.) The restoring force is usually, but not always, gravity. And all of this goes to explain why, if you’re serious about trying to pin down a wave, you turn to equations rather than words.

But math fails even the experts, because waves in nature do all sorts of bizarre stuff. When Penny Holliday finally got around to studying her data from Discovery’s stormy February 2000 trip, she and a colleague at the National Oceanographic Center in Southampton concluded that most of the higher-than-expected waves the ship encountered were created by an effect known as “resonance.” Resonance is an aspect of nonlinearity that is endlessly complex when scrawled across a whiteboard, but kindergarten-simple when explained by the analogy of a kid pumping his legs on a swing, dramatically boosting his height on each pass. Energy is continually being added to the system, more and more and more, in erratic bursts. Likewise in the North Atlantic, wind energy surged into the waves until they grew to enormous proportions.

But the freak waves—the mutants that are three or four times taller than anything else in the surrounding seas? One of Holliday’s colleagues, Peter Challenor, admits that an explanation for those giants is a long way off. “We don’t have that random messy theory for nonlinear waves. At all,” he says. “People have been working actively on this for the past 50 years at least. We don’t even have the start of a theory.”

 

The ocean, it seems, doesn’t subscribe to the orderly explanations that we would like it to. Its depths still hold more secrets than anyone can count.
24136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Paine: on: September 28, 2010, 06:58:23 AM
"Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776
24137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat thought piece: Pak and the US exit on: September 28, 2010, 06:57:29 AM
Not all of this makes sense to me (e.g. the comment on India) but George Friedman is no fool.  What do we make of this?

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

Pakistan and the U.S. Exit From Afghanistan
September 28, 2010
By George Friedman

Bob Woodward has released another book, this one on the debate over Afghanistan strategy in the Obama administration. As all his books do, the book has riveted Washington. It reveals that intense debate occurred over what course to take, that the president sought alternative strategies and that compromises were reached. But while knowing the details of these things is interesting, what would have been shocking is if they hadn’t taken place.

It is interesting to reflect on the institutional inevitability of these disagreements. The military is involved in a war. It is institutionally and emotionally committed to victory in the theater of combat. It will demand all available resources for executing the war under way. For a soldier who has bled in that war, questioning the importance of the war is obscene. A war must be fought relentlessly and with all available means.

But while the military’s top generals and senior civilian leadership are responsible for providing the president with sound, clearheaded advice on all military matters including the highest levels of grand strategy, they are ultimately responsible for the pursuit of military objectives to which the commander-in-chief directs them. Generals must think about how to win the war they are fighting. Presidents must think about whether the war is worth fighting. The president is responsible for America’s global posture. He must consider what an unlimited commitment to a particular conflict might mean in other regions of the world where forces would be unavailable.

A president must take a more dispassionate view than his generals. He must calculate not only whether victory is possible but also the value of the victory relative to the cost. Given the nature of the war in Afghanistan, U.S. President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus — first the U.S. Central Command chief and now the top commander in Afghanistan — had to view it differently. This is unavoidable. This is natural. And only one of the two is ultimately in charge.


The Nature of Guerrilla Warfare

In thinking about Afghanistan, it is essential that we begin by thinking about the nature of guerrilla warfare against an occupying force. The guerrilla lives in the country. He isn’t going anywhere else, as he has nowhere to go. By contrast, the foreigner has a place to which he can return. This is the core weakness of the occupier and the strength of the guerrilla. The former can leave and in all likelihood, his nation will survive. The guerrilla can’t. And having alternatives undermines the foreigner’s will to fight regardless of the importance of the war to him.

The strategy of the guerrilla is to make the option to withdraw more attractive. In order to do this, his strategic goal is simply to survive and fight on whatever level he can. His patience is built into who he is and what he is fighting for. The occupier’s patience is calculated against the cost of the occupation and its opportunity costs, thus, while troops are committed in this country, what is happening elsewhere?

Tactically, the guerrilla survives by being elusive. He disperses in small groups. He operates in hostile terrain. He denies the enemy intelligence on his location and capabilities. He forms political alliances with civilians who provide him supplies and intelligence on the occupation forces and misleads the occupiers about his own location. The guerrilla uses this intelligence network to decline combat on the enemy’s terms and to strike the enemy when he is least prepared. The guerrilla’s goal is not to seize and hold ground but to survive, evade and strike, imposing casualties on the occupier. Above all, the guerrilla must never form a center of gravity that, if struck, would lead to his defeat. He thus actively avoids anything that could be construed as a decisive contact.

The occupation force is normally a more conventional army. Its strength is superior firepower, resources and organization. If it knows where the guerrilla is and can strike before the guerrilla can disperse, the occupying force will defeat the guerrilla. The occupier’s problems are that his intelligence is normally inferior to that of the guerrillas; the guerrillas rarely mass in ways that permit decisive combat and normally can disperse faster than the occupier can pinpoint and deploy forces against them; and the guerrillas’ superior tactical capabilities allow them to impose a constant low rate of casualties on the occupier. Indeed, the massive amount of resources the occupier requires and the inflexibility of a military institution not solely committed to the particular theater of operations can actually work against the occupier by creating logistical vulnerabilities susceptible to guerrilla attacks and difficulty adapting at a rate sufficient to keep pace with the guerrilla. The occupation force will always win engagements, but that is never the measure of victory. If the guerrillas operate by doctrine, defeats in unplanned engagements will not undermine their basic goal of survival. While the occupier is not winning decisively, even while suffering only some casualties, he is losing. While the guerrilla is not losing decisively, even if suffering significant casualties, he is winning. Since the guerrilla is not going anywhere, he can afford far higher casualties than the occupier, who ultimately has the alternative of withdrawal.

The asymmetry of this warfare favors the guerrilla. This is particularly true when the strategic value of the war to the occupier is ambiguous, where the occupier does not possess sufficient force and patience to systematically overwhelm the guerrillas, and where either political or military constraints prevent operations against sanctuaries. This is a truth as relevant to David’s insurgency against the Philistines as it is to the U.S. experience in Vietnam or the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.

There has long been a myth about the unwillingness of Americans to absorb casualties for very long in guerrilla wars. In reality, the United States fought in Vietnam for at least seven years (depending on when you count the start and stop) and has now fought in Afghanistan for nine years. The idea that Americans can’t endure the long war has no empirical basis. What the United States has difficulty with — along with imperial and colonial powers before it — is a war in which the ability to impose one’s will on the enemy through force of arms is lacking and when it is not clear that the failure of previous years to win the war will be solved in the years ahead.

Far more relevant than casualties to whether Americans continue a war is the question of the conflict’s strategic importance, for which the president is ultimately responsible. This divides into several parts. This first is whether the United States has the ability with available force to achieve its political goals through prosecuting the war (since all war is fought for some political goal, from regime change to policy shift) and whether the force the United States is willing to dedicate suffices to achieve these goals. To address this question in Afghanistan, we have to focus on the political goal.


The Evolution of the U.S. Political Goal in Afghanistan

Washington’s primary goal at the initiation of the conflict was to destroy or disrupt al Qaeda in Afghanistan to protect the U.S. homeland from follow-on attacks to 9/11. But if Afghanistan were completely pacified, the threat of Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism would remain at issue because it is no longer just an issue of a single organization — al Qaeda — but a series of fragmented groups conducting operations in Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, North Africa, Somalia and elsewhere.

Today, al Qaeda is simply one manifestation of the threat of this transnational jihadist phenomenon. It is important to stop and consider al Qaeda — and the transnational jihadist phenomenon in general — in terms of guerrillas, and to think of the phenomenon as a guerrilla force in its own right operating by the very same rules on a global basis. Thus, where the Taliban apply guerrilla principles to Afghanistan, today’s transnational jihadist applies them to the Islamic world and beyond. The transnational jihadists are not leaving and are not giving up. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, they will decline combat against larger American forces and strike vulnerable targets when they can.

There are certainly more players and more complexity to the global phenomenon than in a localized insurgency. Many governments across North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have no interest in seeing these movements set up shop and stir up unrest in their territory. And al Qaeda’s devolution has seen frustrations as well as successes as it spreads. But the underlying principles of guerrilla warfare remain at issue. Whenever the Americans concentrate force in one area, al Qaeda disengages, disperses and regroups elsewhere and, perhaps more important, the ideology that underpins the phenomenon continues to exist. The threat will undoubtedly continue to evolve and face challenges, but in the end, it will continue to exist along the lines of the guerrilla acting against the United States.

There is another important way in which the global guerrilla analogy is apt. STRATFOR has long held that Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism does not represent a strategic, existential threat to the United States. While acts of transnational terrorism target civilians, they are not attacks — have not been and are not evolving into attacks — that endanger the territorial integrity of the United States or the way of life of the American people. They are dangerous and must be defended against, but transnational terrorism is and remains a tactical problem that for nearly a decade has been treated as if it were the pre-eminent strategic threat to the United States.

Nietzsche wrote that, “The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place.” The stated U.S. goal in Afghanistan was the destruction of al Qaeda. While al Qaeda as it existed in 2001 has certainly been disrupted and degraded, al Qaeda’s evolution and migration means that disrupting and degrading it — to say nothing of destroying it — can no longer be achieved by waging a war in Afghanistan. The guerrilla does not rely on a single piece of real estate (in this case Afghanistan) but rather on his ability to move seamlessly across terrain to evade decisive combat in any specific location. Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism is not centered on Afghanistan and does not need Afghanistan, so no matter how successful that war might be, it would make little difference in the larger fight against transnational jihadism.

Thus far, the United States has chosen to carry on fighting the war in Afghanistan. As al Qaeda has fled Afghanistan, the overall political goal for the United States in the country has evolved to include the creation of a democratic and uncorrupt Afghanistan. It is not clear that anyone knows how to do this, particularly given that most Afghans consider the ruling government of President Hamid Karzai — with which the United States is allied — as the heart of the corruption problem, and beyond Kabul most Afghans do not regard their way of making political and social arrangements to be corrupt.

Simply withdrawing from Afghanistan carries its own strategic and political costs, however. The strategic problem is that simply terminating the war after nine years would destabilize the Islamic world. The United States has managed to block al Qaeda’s goal of triggering a series of uprisings against existing regimes and replacing them with jihadist regimes. It did this by displaying a willingness to intervene where necessary. Of course, the idea that U.S. intervention destabilized the region raises the question of what regional stability would look like had it not intervened. The danger of withdrawal is that the network of relationships the United States created and imposed at the regime level could unravel if it withdrew. America would be seen as having lost the war, the prestige of radical Islamists and thereby the foundation of the ideology that underpins their movement would surge, and this could destabilize regimes and undermine American interests.

The political problem is domestic. Obama’s approval rating now stands at 42 percent. This is not unprecedented, but it means he is politically weak. One of the charges against him, fair or not, is that he is inherently anti-war by background and so not fully committed to the war effort. Where a Republican would face charges of being a warmonger, which would make withdrawal easier, Obama faces charges of being too soft. Since a president must maintain political support to be effective, withdrawal becomes even harder. Therefore, strategic analysis aside, the president is not going to order a complete withdrawal of all combat forces any time soon — the national (and international) political alignment won’t support such a step. At the same time, remaining in Afghanistan is unlikely to achieve any goal and leaves potential rivals like China and Russia freer rein.


The American Solution

The American solution, one that we suspect is already under way, is the Pakistanization of the war. By this, we do not mean extending the war into Pakistan but rather extending Pakistan into Afghanistan. The Taliban phenomenon has extended into Pakistan in ways that seriously complicate Pakistani efforts to regain their bearing in Afghanistan. It has created a major security problem for Islamabad, which, coupled with the severe deterioration of the country’s economy and now the floods, has weakened the Pakistanis’ ability to manage Afghanistan. In other words, the moment that the Pakistanis have been waiting for — American agreement and support for the Pakistanization of the war — has come at a time when the Pakistanis are not in an ideal position to capitalize on it.

In the past, the United States has endeavored to keep the Taliban in Afghanistan and the regime in Pakistan separate. (The Taliban movements in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not one and the same.) Washington has not succeeded in this regard, with the Pakistanis continuing to hedge their bets and maintain a relationship across the border. Still, U.S. opposition has been the single greatest impediment to Pakistan’s consolidation of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and abandoning this opposition leaves important avenues open for Islamabad.

The Pakistani relationship to the Taliban, which was a liability for the United States in the past, now becomes an advantage for Washington because it creates a trusted channel for meaningful communication with the Taliban. Logic suggests this channel is quite active now.

The Vietnam War ended with the Paris peace talks. Those formal talks were not where the real bargaining took place but rather where the results were ultimately confirmed. If talks are under way, a similar venue for the formal manifestation of the talks is needed — and Islamabad is as good a place as any.

Pakistan is an American ally which the United States needs, both to balance growing Chinese influence in and partnership with Pakistan, and to contain India. Pakistan needs the United States for the same reason. Meanwhile, the Taliban wants to run Afghanistan. The United States has no strong national interest in how Afghanistan is run so long as it does not support and espouse transnational jihadism. But it needs its withdrawal to take place in a manner that strengthens its influence rather than weakens it, and Pakistan can provide the cover for turning a retreat into a negotiated settlement.

Pakistan has every reason to play this role. It needs the United States over the long term to balance against India. It must have a stable or relatively stable Afghanistan to secure its western frontier. It needs an end to U.S. forays into Pakistan that are destabilizing the regime. And playing this role would enhance Pakistan’s status in the Islamic world, something the United States could benefit from, too. We suspect that all sides are moving toward this end.

The United States isn’t going to defeat the Taliban. The original goal of the war is irrelevant, and the current goal is rather difficult to take seriously. Even a victory, whatever that would look like, would make little difference in the fight against transnational jihad, but a defeat could harm U.S. interests. Therefore, the United States needs a withdrawal that is not a defeat. Such a strategic shift is not without profound political complexity and difficulties. But the disparity between — and increasingly, the incompatibility of — the struggle with transnational terrorism and the war effort geographically rooted in Afghanistan is only becoming more apparent — even to the American public.
24138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 27, 2010, 11:36:15 PM
As someone pointed out, the current trajectory seems to lead to us being run off of our alliance with Taiwan; perhaps in the aftermath of our , , , departure from Iraq and Afghanistan.   
24139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 27, 2010, 09:12:17 PM
Prudent?  Yeah that's what was said with Alsace-Lorraine, Sudentland (sp?) and Austria too.

Hell, maybe we could crank up the printing press and pay off all the bonds they hold.  Of course then no one would lend us money any more , , , which could be a good thing.  cheesy
24140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Never fear, UNOOSA is ready! on: September 27, 2010, 08:37:43 PM
UN to appoint Earth contact for aliens

THE United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth’s first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.

Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN's little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.

She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before - and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.

During a talk Othman gave recently to fellow scientists, she said: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials.

"When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”

Professor Richard Crowther, an expert in space law and governance at the UK Space Agency and who leads British delegations to the UN on such matters, said: “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’ person.”

However, he thinks humanity’s first encounter with any intelligent aliens is more likely to be via radio or light signals from a distant planet than by beings arriving on Earth. And, he suggests, even if we do encounter aliens in the flesh, they are more likely to be microbes than anything intelligent.



Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/un-to-appoint-earth-contact-for-aliens/story-e6frfku0-1225929498742#ixzz10mRziEW7
24141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 9/22 Energy subsidies withdrawn on: September 27, 2010, 11:02:40 AM
Iran's Subsidy Issue Adds to Domestic, International Tensions

The Iranian government withdrew energy subsidies without prior notice of the exact date the subsidies would end, leaving many Iranian consumers taken aback by hefty electricity bills, Reuters reported on Tuesday. According to the report, some households claimed their bills were as much as 1,000 percent higher than the previous month’s. This development follows a government move to hold off on cutting gasoline subsidies for at least one month.

The latest round of sanctions (from the United Nations, United States and European Union) has not led Tehran to capitulate to Western pressure. That said, Iran is ending subsidies on essential goods and services, and Tehran would not be carrying out such an initiative if it was not essential for the country’s economic health, especially given the significant risk of public backlash.

“It appears as though the Islamic republic has reached an impasse with itself.”
The manner in which the subsidies on power supplies were pulled after the delay in ending the subsidies on fuel shows that the regime is concerned about domestic unrest. It was only this past February that the regime was able to contain the eight-month upheaval created by the Green Movement following the controversial re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Though Iranian authorities put an end to street agitation, the regime continues to face a much more serious problem: infighting between Ahmadinejad and his opponents spread across the entire Iranian political establishment.

Officials representing both sides can be seen daily using Iran’s various official and semi-official media organs to attack each other. It appears as though the Islamic republic has reached an impasse with itself. What makes this even more significant is that Iran is also at a major crossroads internationally, given the controversy over its nuclear program, the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other regional matters.

Iran sees an historic opportunity to consolidate its influence in its immediate abroad, from where the United States is trying to withdraw militarily. In Iraq, Washington needs to be able to reach a settlement with Tehran on a balance of power in Baghdad that is acceptable to both sides. In Afghanistan, where the United States is trying to create the conditions for as early an exit as possible, Iran also holds significant influence.

Washington, for its part, wants to be able to reach an understanding with Iran so that it can withdraw from the countries to both the west and east of the Islamic republic. But it wants to be able to do so in such a way that Iranian ambitions for regional dominance are kept in check. As long as Tehran can negotiate from a position of relative strength this is not possible.

This is where both the intra-elite struggle in Tehran and the subsidies issue are of immense potential significance. Both issues are so complex that it is difficult to predict their outcome, but if either issue evolves unfavorably for Tehran, it could undermine the Islamic republic’s bargaining power and give the United States an opening to exploit.
24142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Tajikstan Attacks and Islamist Militancy in Central Asia on: September 27, 2010, 11:00:47 AM
The Tajikistan Attacks and Islamist Militancy in Central Asia
September 23, 2010




By Ben West

Militants in Tajikistan’s Rasht Valley ambushed a military convoy of 75 Tajik troops Sept. 19, killing 25 military personnel according to official reports and 40 according to the militants, who attacked from higher ground with small arms, automatic weapons and grenades. The Tajik troops were part of a nationwide deployment of security forces seeking to recapture 25 individuals linked to the United Tajik Opposition militant groups that had escaped from prison in Dushanbe on Aug. 24. The daring prison break was conducted by members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and saw five security guards killed and the country put on red alert. According to the Tajik government, after the escape, most of the militants fled to the Rasht Valley, an area under the influence of Islamist militants that is hard to reach for Tajikistan’s security forces and thus rarely patrolled by troops.

Sunday’s attack was one of the deadliest clashes between militants and the Tajik government since the Central Asian country’s civil war ended in 1997. The last comparable attack was in 1998, when militants ambushed a battalion of Interior Ministry troops just outside Dushanbe, killing 20 and kidnapping 110. Sunday’s incident was preceded by a Sept. 3 attack on a police station that involved a suicide operative and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in the northwest Tajik city of Khujand that killed four police officers. Suicide attacks are rare in Tajikistan, and VBIEDs even more so. The Khujand attack also stands out as it occurred outside militant territory. Khujand, Tajikistan’s second-largest city after the capital, is located at the mouth of the Fergana Valley, the largest population center in Central Asia.

This represents a noticeable increase in the number and professionalism of militant operations in Tajikistan. Regardless of whether the September attacks can be directly linked to the Aug. 24 jailbreak in Dushanbe, the sudden re-emergence of attacks in Tajikistan after a decade of quiet in Central Asia deserves our attention. In short, something is percolating in the valleys of Central Asia that has reawakened militant groups more or less dormant for a decade. This unrest will likely continue and possibly grow if Tajik security forces can’t get control of the situation.


The Central Asian Core’s Divided Geography

Greater Central Asia, which encompasses southern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and western China, comprises the northeastern frontier of the Muslim world. A knot of mountain ranges defines the geography of the region’s core, which forms a buffer between the Chinese and Russian spheres of influence. The region’s rugged terrain acts as a force multiplier for local populations seeking their own sovereignty, complicating foreign powers’ efforts to control the region.





(click here to enlarge image)
The Fergana Valley is the best-suited land in Central Asia for hosting a large population. Soviet leader Josef Stalin split the valley up between the Soviet republics that would become the countries of Central Asia to ensure the region remained divided, however. Uzbekistan controls most of the basin itself; Tajikistan controls the most accessible entrance to the valley from the west; and Kyrgyzstan controls the high ground around the valley. Uzbekistan also controls several exclaves within Kyrgyzstan’s portion of the valley, affording the Uzbek government and Uzbek citizens (including militants) access fairly deep into Kyrgyz territory. Meanwhile, the Rasht Valley follows the Vakhsh River across the Tajik-Kyrgyz border, giving locals (again including militants) a passage through the mountainous border region south of the Fergana Valley. These complex geographic and political divisions ensure that no one country can dominate Central Asia’s core, and hence Central Asia itself.


The Militants of Central Asia

An often-confusing assortment of militant groups has called Central Asia home since the end of the Soviet Union, many of which have split or joined up with one another. The most significant players in the region’s militant landscape include:

Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP). Founded in 1990, it was the first Islamist political party to gain Soviet recognition. After it was banned throughout Central Asia in 1992, many of its members resorted to violence.
Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT). The Tajik branch of the IRP, the IRPT was active during the Tajik civil war of 1992-97 but has since turned to the political sphere.
United Tajik Opposition (UTO). UTO was an umbrella organization for the groups that fought against the Moscow-backed Tajik government during the Tajik civil war, but most of its members turned to politics at the end of the war. UTO derived much of its strength from constituent Islamist groups like the IRP, but it also encompassed the Democratic Party of Tajikistan and the ethnic Gharmi group.
Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). Founded in East Jerusalem in 1953, HT seeks to establish a worldwide caliphate. The group is present in more than 40 countries; its Central Asian base is Uzbekistan. The group promotes ideological extremism, though it does not directly engage in violence. Even so, the region’s security forces have targeted it.
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). A militant Islamic group aligned with al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, IMU was formed in 1998 after the UTO turned to politics. Its ultimate aim was to transform Uzbekistan into an Islamic state. IMU leaders since have spread to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Islamic Jihad Union/Group (IJU). The IJU split off from IMU; it has a small presence in Europe.
Movement for the Islamic Revival of Uzbekistan (MIRU). MIRU was formed in 1994 and was incorporated into the IMU in 1998.
East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). A group primarily focused on independence for the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, ETIM is thought to have ties with the IMU.
Islamic Movement of Turkistan (IMT). Like ETIM, IMT is thought to have ties with the IMU.

Islam and Militants in Central Asia

Historically, the moderate form of Islam known as Sufism predominated in Central Asia, with Salafism (a far more conservative form of Islam also called Wahhabism) being very much in the minority. Islam was strongly suppressed during Russian, and later Soviet, rule, however. Soviet security forces frequently raided mosques and madrassas, and Muslim religious leaders were routinely arrested. Generations of religious repression saw Sufism’s role in the region decline as Central Asians became more secular. Salafism was able to capitalize on this vacuum as the Central Asian Soviet republics gained independence in 1991, aided materially and in manpower by their co-religionists beyond the Soviet sphere. Sufism, by contrast, was much more localized and could not draw on such resources.

By 1991, when Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan all got independence, many Salafists in Central Asia (and elsewhere) had incorporated violence into their ideology, classifying them as jihadists. With growing influence, groups like the IRPT (although banned in 1993) allied with secular opposition groups to fight the government during Tajikistan’s five-year civil war. During this time, radical Islamists who turned to violence attacked Dushanbe from their bases in the Rasht and Tavildara valleys in northern Tajikistan as well as from Kunduz and Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, where they relied on the large population of Tajik-Afghans (some of whom had ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda) for support. After the civil war, many IRPT leaders joined the political process, leaving only a hardened remnant in the valleys to the north or in Afghanistan.

Later, the IMU began its campaign to bring down the Uzbek government in 1998. Uzbek President Islam Karimov used a heavy hand against the IMU and other Islamists. The IMU accordingly found it easier to operate in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, including the Uzbek exclaves of So’x and Shohimardon.

By 2000, militants faced government crackdowns throughout Central Asia, though they could still operate in Tajikistan and across the border in Afghanistan. The IMU, for example, was largely wiped out after 9/11 and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in the battle of Kunduz. The Taliban and IMU had decided to make a stand against the Northern Alliance and U.S. forces in Kunduz, but the Taliban withdrew, leaving the IMU to fend for itself. The IMU lost one of its two founding members and leaders, Juma Namangani, in the subsequent crushing defeat. While the IMU managed a few more large-scale attacks in Tashkent, including suicide attacks on the Israeli and U.S. embassies and the Uzbek prosecutor general’s office in 2004, this did not signal a resurgence. Its remaining members relocated along with other fractured militant groups to northwestern Pakistan, where they took advantage of smuggling opportunities to raise funds. In August 2009, the IMU’s other founder and leader, Tahir Yuldashev, died in a suspected U.S. missile strike in Pakistan. The involvement of Yuldashev and his fighters in the Islamist insurgency in Pakistan shows just how far the IMU had deviated from its original goal of toppling the Uzbek government. While the Uzbek and Tajik governments routinely blame attacks such as the Sept. 19 raid on the IMU, the group is no longer the coherent movement it was in the late 1990s.


Islamist Militant Fragmentation

Now, governments frequently use the IMU as a catchall phrase for Islamists in Central Asia who would like to overthrow the regions’ governments. In reality, various factors divide the region’s militants, and continuing to use convenient labels like IMU frequently masks real shifts and complexities in Central Asia’s militant landscape. These groups are divided by the particular conditions of their areas of operation, by ethnicity and tribe, and by their particular cause.

Groups like the IMU depend on commanders of militants in places like the Rasht, Tavildara or Fergana valleys to carry out the attacks. The situations in each valley are quite different. For example, the increasing Tajik military presence in the Rasht Valley means militant commanders there will have different missions from commanders in the Fergana Valley, to say nothing of the IMU members fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan or smuggling drugs in Pakistan. The name IMU to a large degree has become a generic label for Islamic militant activity in a similar fashion to how the devolution of al Qaeda has shifted the original understanding of the group and its name.

Ethnicity and tribal structures also complicate the picture. Central Asia is a hodge-podge of ethnicities, including Tajiks, Uzbeks, Kyrgyzs, Turkmen, Kazakhs and Uighurs. They speak different languages and have different customs, leading to highly localized, clan-based loyalties. Various groups and subgroups frequently cross national borders, making the activities of some factions more transnational in their ambitions or more interested in creating their own state rather than taking power from the government of the day.

And militants’ shifting causes vary considerably. In hostile terrain like that of Central Asia, it is difficult enough to survive, much less adhere to consistent ideological goals. Groups like the IRPT frequently started as peaceful political groups, fractured, and then became more militant during the Tajik civil war, only to rejoin the political process.


The Regional Outlook

The past has shown that violence in one country can quickly spread to its neighbors. Thus, while Uzbekistan has largely mitigated the militant threat through strict security measures, it remains vulnerable due to its proximity to the chaotic countries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and the geographically distorted borders around the Fergana Valley.

The Afghan question also looms large. With the United States and NATO set to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in less than a year, Central Asian countries will face a much less restrained Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s relative weakness in northern Afghanistan will mitigate this threat, but the region will nonetheless be in limbo after NATO withdraws. For their part, Central Asia’s militants hope the Western withdrawal and the hoped-for Taliban rise to power will restore Afghanistan as a militant safe haven from which to pursue their home-country ambitions. And this prospect, of course, makes Central Asian governments quite uneasy.

Complicating matters, Russia is moving to protect its interests in Central Asia by moving up to 25,000 troops to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to increase security at its military installations there. Central Asian states are looking to balance their security needs in light of a destabilizing Afghanistan by accepting more Russian troops.

Between increasing militant activity in Tajikistan after years of relative quiet, the impending Western withdrawal from Afghanistan and a resurgent Russia, Central Asia faces challenging times ahead.
24143  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Detroit on: September 27, 2010, 10:52:49 AM
Pasting here Gorden's email seeking kindred spirits in the Detroit area.
Hey guys,

I'm Gorden.  I'm from Hannover,Germany.  I excercised with jörg Beier,Christian Eckert,Stephan from munich,grumpy dog from mainz,etc and one time in a year with lonely dog at the loreley summer camp since Three Years.

Now i'm in the US during the Next two Weeks to visit a friend of Mine in Detroit.

I would like to tso some exercise here with dogs from the US,but i didn't find anything in the Web in the Area of Detroit or Michigan. Can you Support me with some contact Data of Brothers?

Hope, you can help me.  I would really appreciate to hear from you guys!

ake Care.  Have a good Time.

Gorden Linnemann
Hannover, Germany
gorden.linnemann@gmx.de
24144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Breathe deeply three times on: September 27, 2010, 10:41:59 AM
second post of the morning:

http://www.infoworld.com/t/malware/stuxnet-worm-iran-mainstream-media-global-nuclear-meltdown-796?page=0,0
24145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Silenced hits on: September 27, 2010, 10:26:05 AM
Our man in Iraq reports today as follows:

"A few weeks back I told some of you I noticed a trend towards silenced pistols in hits.  Well I spoke today to somebody who works closely with the Ministry of Interior, and he said attacks by silenced pistols are off the charts and are now a more likely occurrence than a non-silenced pistol.
 
"Since the jihadist movement learns from each other, and adopts each other's effective tactics, and since we know stuff happening stateside is only a matter of time, keep this in mind even in the homeland."
24146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man in Iraq returns-4 on: September 27, 2010, 10:24:50 AM
Second post of the day:

A few weeks back I told some of you I noticed a trend towards silenced pistols in hits.  Well I spoke today to somebody who works closely with the Ministry of Interior, and he said attacks by silenced pistols are off the charts and are now a more likely occurrence than a non-silenced pistol.
 
Since the jihadist movement learns from each other, and adopts each other's effective tactics, and since we know stuff happening stateside is only a matter of time, keep this in mind even in the homeland.
24147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pebble Bed Reactors on: September 27, 2010, 08:26:14 AM


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor
24148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: September 27, 2010, 08:07:16 AM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2010/09/05/ , , , though I think the example of ending the Iran-Iraq War well wide of the mark , , ,

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2010/09/09/ et seq
24149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Day by Day on: September 27, 2010, 08:06:08 AM
http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2010/08/26/
24150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Soldiers' Angels on: September 27, 2010, 07:50:22 AM
From Michael Yon, who has this site's full support:
========================================

Dear Friend,
 
I have just returned to Afghanistan and I’m writing to tell you about a new book project I’m working on and an important organization that I’m backing with this book. I hope you will too.
 
ABOUT SOLDIERS’ ANGELS
Soldiers’ Angels is a volunteer-led nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the American soldier in the field.  Morally, materially, and spiritually. Its volunteers number over 200,000.  In my opinion, SA is the most effective of all civilian support groups. You’ve read about them in some of my dispatches as I have been a champion of their heroic efforts for years.
 
Soldier’s Angels has a number of great projects, including Adopt a Soldier, which matches one soldier in the field to one supporter or family at home who sends a letter every week and a care package at least once a month. But their most important contribution is also one of the most expensive is theFirst Response Backpack.
 
U.S. military personnel who are injured or wounded are moved out to treatment so fast that sometimes their gear and personal items never catch up with them.  Evacuated in the clothing damaged or removed during treatment, these soldiers often find themselves without basic supplies. A Soldiers’ Angels First Response Backpack provides comfortable clothing, a full set of travel-sized toiletries and accessories, an international calling card the soldier can use to phone home, and a handmade Blanket of Hope. To date, Soldiers’ Angels has distributed more than 15,000 backpacks to the wounded.
 
I’ve seen the great impact Soldiers’ Angels has in the field, so you won’t be surprised that I want to help them. Or that I’m asking you to join me in that effort.
 
A NEW BOOK DEDICATED TO THE MISSION & SOLDIERS’ ANGELS
 
I am currently at work on a new book called IRAQ: INSIDE THE INFERNO. It will cover my years reporting in the field from 2005-2008. It will tell, with words and pictures, the dramatic story of how we won the war in Iraq – not primarily with our overwhelming technology, not with shock and awe destruction, but with the far more important force of American values.
 
The book will assemble some two hundred of the most powerful, telling, and dramatic photographs I have taken in Iraq (many never before published). With my publisher, Richard Vigilante Books, we have enlisted an award-winning documentary producer from Discovery Channel, Karen Kraft, and her handpicked team to create the book.  Pictures of American warriors at work, engaged in killing terrorists or rebuilding a school or a shattered neighborhood. My intent is to combine the best of my pictures with the best of my writing to create an entirely new type of experience. And for the final product to have the enduring memorial value of the most treasured, well-crafted volume in a great library.
 
IRAQ: INSIDE THE INFERNO will come off the press for shipment late this year before the holidays, but my publisher is not going to ship the regular version to bookstores until Spring. Why?  Because we want to raise $50,000 to help Soldiers’ Angels.
 
To meet this goal, my publisher is creating a limited number of boxed, signed, and numbered deluxe editions of the book to be offered exclusively to my supporters and both of us are contributing a portion of our proceeds to Soldier’s Angels.
 
THIS BOOK IS SPECIAL
This 220 page, full color book will be printed on the finest paper used for art books and bound using timeless techniques of the book-makers’ craft. Here are some of the details:

- The pages will be Smythe sewn, not just glued the way most books are today.
- The paper is acid free and guaranteed to last 800 years without yellowing or deterioration.
-  The beautiful cloth cover – not plastic or some other synthetic fabric – will be gold stamped on both front and spine.
- And each book will be encased in a cloth-covered, gold stamped slipcase.
 
I will personally sign and hand-number each copy of this special edition and enclose a certificate, suitable for framing, to memorialize your support of my mission and of Soldiers’ Angels.
 
PRE-ORDERS
The cost for each signed, numbered deluxe copy is $49.95, plus shipping.  A lot of money, but here is the bottom line:  The money we raise from sales of this book is crucial not only to support my own mission but for our goal of raising at least $50,000 for Soldiers’ Angels. That’s why we have tried so hard to create a work that expresses our gratitude for your support. As you know, I have returned to Afghanistan just days ago and my arrangement with my publisher provides book royalties to me earlier than a traditional publishing arrangement in order to assist me with my mission.
 
My publisher is now accepting pre-orders for IRAQ: INSIDE THE INFERNO. Pre-ordering will guarantee you a copy – we can print this special edition only once – and within days of the book coming off the press. If our experience with the special signed edition of my last book, A Moment of Truth in Iraq, is any guide, it will sell out, so the only way to absolutely guarantee you will be able to get a copy is to pre-order.
 
More importantly, pre-orders will help us raise funds for Soldiers’ Angels more quickly. I’d be thrilled if we could raise all of the $50,000 we have targeted for Soldiers’ Angels on pre-orders of the special edition alone. If we can do that, then we can raise even more.
 
I think you’ll love the book and hope you’ll pre-order today. It makes a great gift, especially because it is also a gift to the American soldier, who, as I said in A Moment of Truth In Iraq, ‘is not only the most dangerous man in the world, but the best man, too.’


--
Very Respectfully,
Michael Yon
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