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24151  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Guro Crafty en Espana on: August 25, 2011, 01:42:22 PM
Se comienza a organizar un seminario en Madrid en la primavera.


http://www.fauerzaesp.org/foro/viewtopic.php?p=206001#206001
http://www.cecilioandrade.es/instruccion-y-adiestramiento/407/

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Roberto Delgado
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24152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The geopolitics of the US-1 on: August 25, 2011, 01:36:45 PM

The Geopolitics of the United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire
August 25, 2011 | 1159 GMT
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STRATFOREditor’s Note: This installment on the United States, presented in two parts, is the 16th in a series of STRATFOR monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

Related Special Topic Page
Geopolitical Monographs: In-depth Country Analysis
Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States. They are a diverse collection of peoples primarily from a dozen different Western European states, mixed in with smaller groups from a hundred more. All of the New World entities struggled to carve a modern nation and state out of the American continents. Brazil is an excellent case of how that struggle can be a difficult one. The United States falls on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The American geography is an impressive one. The Greater Mississippi Basin together with the Intracoastal Waterway has more kilometers of navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. The American Midwest is both overlaid by this waterway, and is the world’s largest contiguous piece of farmland. The U.S. Atlantic Coast possesses more major ports than the rest of the Western Hemisphere combined. Two vast oceans insulated the United States from Asian and European powers, deserts separate the United States from Mexico to the south, while lakes and forests separate the population centers in Canada from those in the United States. The United States has capital, food surpluses and physical insulation in excess of every other country in the world by an exceedingly large margin. So like the Turks, the Americans are not important because of who they are, but because of where they live.

The North American Core
North America is a triangle-shaped continent centered in the temperate portions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is of sufficient size that its northern reaches are fully Arctic and its southern reaches are fully tropical. Predominant wind currents carry moisture from west to east across the continent.

Climatically, the continent consists of a series of wide north-south precipitation bands largely shaped by the landmass’ longitudinal topography. The Rocky Mountains dominate the Western third of the northern and central parts of North America, generating a rain-shadow effect just east of the mountain range — an area known colloquially as the Great Plains. Farther east of this semiarid region are the well-watered plains of the prairie provinces of Canada and the American Midwest. This zone comprises both the most productive and the largest contiguous acreage of arable land on the planet.

East of this premier arable zone lies a second mountain chain known as the Appalachians. While this chain is far lower and thinner than the Rockies, it still constitutes a notable barrier to movement and economic development. However, the lower elevation of the mountains combined with the wide coastal plain of the East Coast does not result in the rain-shadow effect of the Great Plains. Consequently, the coastal plain of the East Coast is well-watered throughout.

In the continent’s northern and southern reaches this longitudinal pattern is not quite so clear-cut. North of the Great Lakes region lies the Canadian Shield, an area where repeated glaciation has scraped off most of the topsoil. That, combined with the area’s colder climate, means that these lands are not nearly as productive as regions farther south or west and, as such, remain largely unpopulated to the modern day. In the south — Mexico — the North American landmass narrows drastically from more than 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles) wide to, at most, 2,000 kilometers, and in most locations less than 1,000 kilometers. The Mexican extension also occurs in the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains longitudinal zone, generating a wide, dry, irregular uplift that lacks the agricultural promise of the Canadian prairie provinces or American Midwest.

The continent’s final geographic piece is an isthmus of varying width, known as Central America, that is too wet and rugged to develop into anything more than a series of isolated city-states, much less a single country that would have an impact on continental affairs. Due to a series of swamps and mountains where the two American continents join, there still is no road network linking them, and the two Americas only indirectly affect each other’s development.

The most distinctive and  important feature of North America is the river network in the middle third of the continent. While its components are larger in both volume and length than most of the world’s rivers, this is not what sets the network apart. Very few of its tributaries begin at high elevations, making vast tracts of these rivers easily navigable. In the case of the Mississippi, the head of navigation — just north of Minneapolis — is 3,000 kilometers inland.

The network consists of six distinct river systems: the Missouri, Arkansas, Red, Ohio, Tennessee and, of course, the Mississippi. The unified nature of this system greatly enhances the region’s usefulness and potential economic and political power. First, shipping goods via water is an order of magnitude cheaper than shipping them via land. The specific ratio varies greatly based on technological era and local topography, but in the petroleum age in the United States, the cost of transport via water is roughly 10 to 30 times cheaper than overland. This simple fact makes countries with robust maritime transport options extremely capital-rich when compared to countries limited to land-only options. This factor is the primary reason why the major economic powers of the past half-millennia have been Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Second, the watershed of the Greater Mississippi Basin largely overlays North America’s arable lands. Normally, agricultural areas as large as the American Midwest are underutilized as the cost of shipping their output to more densely populated regions cuts deeply into the economics of agriculture. The Eurasian steppe is an excellent example. Even in modern times it is very common for Russian and Kazakh crops to occasionally rot before they can reach market. Massive artificial transport networks must be constructed and maintained in order for the land to reach its full potential. Not so in the case of the Greater Mississippi Basin. The vast bulk of the prime agricultural lands are within 200 kilometers of a stretch of navigable river. Road and rail are still used for collection, but nearly omnipresent river ports allow for the entirety of the basin’s farmers to easily and cheaply ship their products to markets not just in North America but all over the world.

Third, the river network’s unity greatly eases the issue of political integration. All of the peoples of the basin are part of the same economic system, ensuring constant contact and common interests. Regional proclivities obviously still arise, but this is not Northern Europe, where a variety of separate river systems have given rise to multiple national identities.



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It is worth briefly explaining why STRATFOR fixates on navigable rivers as opposed to coastlines. First, navigable rivers by definition service twice the land area of a coastline (rivers have two banks, coasts only one). Second, rivers are not subject to tidal forces, greatly easing the construction and maintenance of supporting infrastructure. Third, storm surges often accompany oceanic storms, which force the evacuation of oceanic ports. None of this eliminates the usefulness of coastal ports, but in terms of the capacity to generate capital, coastal regions are a poor second compared to lands with navigable rivers.

There are three other features — all maritime in nature — that further leverage the raw power that the Greater Mississippi Basin provides. First are the severe indentations of North America’s coastline, granting the region a wealth of sheltered bays and natural, deep-water ports. The more obvious examples include the Gulf of St. Lawrence, San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Galveston Bay and Long Island Sound/New York Bay.

Second, there are the Great Lakes. Unlike the Greater Mississippi Basin, the Great Lakes are not naturally navigable due to winter freezes and obstacles such as Niagara Falls. However, over the past 200 years extensive hydrological engineering has been completed — mostly by Canada — to allow for full navigation on the lakes. Since 1960, penetrating halfway through the continent, the Great Lakes have provided a secondary water transport system that has opened up even more lands for productive use and provided even greater capacity for North American capital generation. The benefits of this system are reaped mainly by the warmer lands of the United States rather than the colder lands of Canada, but since the Great Lakes constitute Canada’s only maritime transport option for reaching the interior, most of the engineering was paid for by Canadians rather than Americans.

Third and most important are the lines of barrier islands that parallel the continent’s East and Gulf coasts. These islands allow riverine Mississippi traffic to travel in a protected intracoastal waterway all the way south to the Rio Grande and all the way north to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to serving as a sort of oceanic river, the island chain’s proximity to the Mississippi delta creates an extension of sorts for all Mississippi shipping, in essence extending the political and economic unifying tendencies of the Mississippi Basin to the eastern coastal plain.

Thus, the Greater Mississippi Basin is the continent’s core, and whoever controls that core not only is certain to dominate the East Coast and Great Lakes regions but will also have the agricultural, transport, trade and political unification capacity to be a world power — even without having to interact with the rest of the global system.



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There is, of course, more to North America than simply this core region and its immediate satellites. There are many secondary stretches of agricultural land as well — those just north of the Greater Mississippi Basin in south-central Canada, the lands just north of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the Atlantic coastal plain that wraps around the southern terminus of the Appalachians, California’s Central Valley, the coastal plain of the Pacific Northwest, the highlands of central Mexico and the Veracruz region.

But all of these regions combined are considerably smaller than the American Midwest and are not ideal, agriculturally, as the Midwest is. Because the Great Lakes are not naturally navigable, costly canals must be constructed. The prairie provinces of south-central Canada lack a river transport system altogether. California’s Central Valley requires irrigation. The Mexican highlands are semiarid and lack any navigable rivers.

The rivers of the American Atlantic coastal plain — flowing down the eastern side of the Appalachians — are neither particularly long nor interconnected. This makes them much more like the rivers of Northern Europe in that their separation localizes economic existence and fosters distinct political identities, dividing the region rather than uniting it. The formation of such local — as opposed to national — identities in many ways contributed to the American Civil War.

But the benefits of these secondary regions are not distributed evenly. What is now Mexico lacks even a single navigable river of any size. Its agricultural zones are disconnected and it boasts few good natural ports. Mexico’s north is too dry while its south is too wet — and both are too mountainous — to support major population centers or robust agricultural activities. Additionally, the terrain is just rugged enough — making transport just expensive enough — to make it difficult for the central government to enforce its writ. The result is the near lawlessness of the cartel lands in the north and the irregular spasms of secessionist activity in the south.

Canada’s maritime transport zones are far superior to those of Mexico but pale in comparison to those of the United States. Its first, the Great Lakes, not only requires engineering but is shared with the United States. The second, the St. Lawrence Seaway, is a solid option (again with sufficient engineering), but it services a region too cold to develop many dense population centers. None of Canada boasts naturally navigable rivers, often making it more attractive for Canada’s provinces — in particular the prairie provinces and British Columbia — to integrate with the United States, where transport is cheaper, the climate supports a larger population and markets are more readily accessible. Additionally, the Canadian Shield greatly limits development opportunities. This vast region — which covers more than half of Canada’s landmass and starkly separates Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and the prairie provinces — consists of a rocky, broken landscape perfect for canoeing and backpacking but unsuitable for agriculture or habitation.

So long as the United States has uninterrupted control of the continental core — which itself enjoys independent and interconnected ocean access — the specific locations of the country’s northern and southern boundaries are somewhat immaterial to continental politics. To the south, the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts are a significant barrier in both directions, making the exceedingly shallow Rio Grande a logical — but hardly absolute — border line. The eastern end of the border could be anywhere within 300 kilometers north or south of its current location (at present the border region’s southernmost ports — Brownsville and Corpus Christi — lie on the U.S. side of the border). As one moves westward to the barren lands of New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua and Sonora, the possible variance increases considerably. Even controlling the mouth of the Colorado River where it empties into the Gulf of California is not a critical issue, since hydroelectric development in the United States prevents the river from reaching the Gulf in most years, making it useless for transport.

In the north, the Great Lakes are obviously an ideal break point in the middle of the border region, but the specific location of the line along the rest of the border is largely irrelevant. East of the lakes, low mountains and thick forests dominate the landscape — not the sort of terrain to generate a power that could challenge the U.S. East Coast. The border here could theoretically lie anywhere between the St. Lawrence Seaway and Massachusetts without compromising the American population centers on the East Coast (although, of course, the farther north the line is the more secure the East Coast will be). West of the lakes is flat prairie that can be easily crossed, but the land is too cold and often too dry, and, like the east, it cannot support a large population. So long as the border lies north of the bulk of the Missouri River’s expansive watershed, the border’s specific location is somewhat academic, and it becomes even more so when one reaches the Rockies.

On the far western end of the U.S.-Canada border is the only location where there could be some border friction. The entrance to Puget Sound — one of the world’s best natural harbors — is commanded by Vancouver Island. Most of the former is United States territory, but the latter is Canadian — in fact, the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, sits on the southern tip of that strategic island for precisely that reason. However, the fact that British Columbia is more than 3,000 kilometers from the Toronto region and that there is a 12:1 population imbalance between British Columbia and the American West Coast largely eliminates the possibility of Canadian territorial aggression.

A Geographic History of the United States
It is common knowledge that the United States began as 13 rebellious colonies along the east coast of the center third of the North American continent. But the United States as an entity was not a sure thing in the beginning. France controlled the bulk of the useful territory that in time would enable the United States to rise to power, while the Spanish empire boasted a larger and more robust economy and population in the New World than the fledgling United States. Most of the original 13 colonies were lightly populated by European standards — only Philadelphia could be considered a true city in the European sense — and were linked by only the most basic of physical infrastructure. Additionally, rivers flowed west to east across the coastal plain, tending to sequester regional identities rather than unify them.

But the young United States held two advantages. First, without exception, all of the European empires saw their New World holdings as secondary concerns. For them, the real game — and always the real war — was on another continent in a different hemisphere. Europe’s overseas colonies were either supplementary sources of income or chips to be traded away on the poker table of Europe. France did not even bother using its American territories to dispose of undesirable segments of its society, while Spain granted its viceroys wide latitude in how they governed imperial territories simply because it was not very important so long as the silver and gold shipments kept arriving. With European attentions diverted elsewhere, the young United States had an opportunity to carve out a future for itself relatively free of European entanglements.

Second, the early United States did not face any severe geographic challenges. The barrier island system and local rivers provided a number of options that allowed for rapid cultural and economic expansion up and down the East Coast. The coastal plain — particularly in what would become the American South — was sufficiently wide and well-watered to allow for the steady expansion of cities and farmland. Choices were limited, but so were challenges. This was not England, an island that forced the early state into the expense of a navy. This was not France, a country with three coasts and two land borders that forced Paris to constantly deal with threats from multiple directions. This was not Russia, a massive country suffering from short growing seasons that was forced to expend inordinate sums of capital on infrastructure simply to attempt to feed itself. Instead, the United States could exist in relative peace for its first few decades without needing to worry about any large-scale, omnipresent military or economic challenges, so it did not have to garrison a large military. Every scrap of energy the young country possessed could be spent on making itself more sustainable. When viewed together — the robust natural transport network overlaying vast tracts of excellent farmland, sharing a continent with two much smaller and weaker powers — it is inevitable that whoever controls the middle third of North America will be a great power.

Geopolitical Imperatives
With these basic inputs, the American polity was presented a set of imperatives it had to achieve in order to be a successful nation. They are only rarely declared elements of national policy, instead serving as a sort of subconscious set of guidelines established by geography that most governments — regardless of composition or ideology — find themselves following. The United States’ strategic imperatives are presented here in five parts. Normally imperatives are pursued in order, but there is considerable time overlap between the first two and the second two.

1. Dominate the Greater Mississippi Basin
The early nation was particularly vulnerable to its former colonial master. The original 13 colonies were hardwired into the British Empire economically, and trading with other European powers (at the time there were no other independent states in the Western Hemisphere) required braving the seas that the British still ruled. Additionally, the colonies’ almost exclusively coastal nature made them easy prey for that same navy should hostilities ever recommence, as was driven brutally home in the War of 1812 in which Washington was sacked.

There are only two ways to protect a coastal community from sea power. The first is to counter with another navy. But navies are very expensive, and it was all the United States could do in its first 50 years of existence to muster a merchant marine to assist with trade. France’s navy stood in during the Revolutionary War in order to constrain British power, but once independence was secured, Paris had no further interest in projecting power to the eastern shore of North America (and, in fact, nearly fought a war with the new country in the 1790s).

The second method of protecting a coastal community is to develop territories that are not utterly dependent upon the sea. Here is where the United States laid the groundwork for becoming a major power, since the strategic depth offered in North America was the Greater Mississippi Basin.

Achieving such strategic depth was both an economic and a military imperative. With few exceptions, the American population was based along the coast, and even the exceptions — such as Philadelphia — were easily reached via rivers. The United States was entirely dependent upon the English imperial system not just for finished goods and markets but also for the bulk of its non-agricultural raw materials, in particular coal and iron ore. Expanding inland allowed the Americans to substitute additional supplies from mines in the Appalachian Mountains. But those same mountains also limited just how much depth the early Americans could achieve. The Appalachians may not be the Swiss Alps, but they were sufficiently rugged to put a check on any deep and rapid inland expansion. Even reaching the Ohio River Valley — all of which lay within the initial territories of the independent United States — was largely blocked by the Appalachians. The Ohio River faced the additional problem of draining into the Mississippi, the western shore of which was the French territory of Louisiana and all of which emptied through the fully French-held city of New Orleans.

The United States solved this problem in three phases. First, there was the direct purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. (Technically, France’s Louisiana Territory was Spanish-held at this point, its ownership having been swapped as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 that ended the Seven Years’ War. In October 1800, France and Spain agreed in secret to return the lands to French control, but news of the transfer was not made public until the sale of the lands in question to the United States in July 1803. Therefore, between 1762 and 1803 the territory was legally the territory of the Spanish crown but operationally was a mixed territory under a shifting patchwork of French, Spanish and American management.)

At the time, Napoleon was girding for a major series of wars that would bear his name. France not only needed cash but also to be relieved of the security burden of defending a large but lightly populated territory in a different hemisphere. The Louisiana Purchase not only doubled the size of the United States but also gave it direct ownership of almost all of the Mississippi and Missouri river basins. The inclusion of the city of New Orleans in the purchase granted the United States full control over the entire watershed. Once the territory was purchased, the challenge was to develop the lands. Some settlers migrated northward from New Orleans, but most came via a different route.



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The second phase of the strategic-depth strategy was the construction of that different route: the National Road (aka the Cumberland Road). This project linked Baltimore first to Cumberland, Md. — the head of navigation of the Potomac — and then on to the Ohio River Valley at Wheeling, W. Va., by 1818. Later phases extended the road across Ohio (1828), Indiana (1832) and Illinois (1838) until it eventually reached Jefferson City, Mo., in the 1840s. This single road (known in modern times as Interstate 40 or Interstate 70 for most of its length) allowed American pioneers to directly settle Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri and granted them initial access to Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. For the better part of a century, it was the most heavily trafficked route in the country, and it allowed Americans not only to settle the new Louisiana Territory but also to finally take advantage of the lands ceded by the British in 1787. With the road’s completion, the original 13 colonies were finally lashed to the Greater Mississippi Basin via a route that could not be challenged by any outside power.

The third phase of the early American expansion strategy was in essence an extension of the National Road via a series of settlement trails, by far the most important and famous of which was the Oregon Trail. While less of a formal construction than the National Road, the Oregon Trail opened up far larger territories. The trail was directly responsible for the initial settling of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. A wealth of secondary trails branched off from the main artery — the Mormon, Bozeman, California and Denver trails — and extended the settlement efforts to Montana, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. The trails were all active from the early 1840s until the completion of the country’s first transcontinental railway in 1869. That project’s completion reduced East Coast-West Coast travel time from six months to eight days and slashed the cost by 90 percent (to about $1,100 in 2011 dollars). The river of settlers overnight turned into a flood, finally cementing American hegemony over its vast territories.



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Collectively, the Louisiana Purchase, the National Road and the Oregon Trail facilitated the largest and fastest cultural expansion in human history. From beginning to end, the entire process required less than 70 years. However, it should be noted that the last part of this process — the securing of the West Coast — was not essential to American security. The Columbia River Valley and California’s Central Valley are not critical American territories. Any independent entities based in either could not possibly generate a force capable of threatening the Greater Mississippi Basin. This hardly means that these territories are unattractive or a net loss to the United States — among other things, they grant the United States full access to the Pacific trading basin — only that control of them is not imperative to American security.

2. Eliminate All Land-Based Threats to the Greater Mississippi Basin
The first land threat to the young United States was in essence the second phase of the Revolutionary War — a rematch between the British Empire and the young United States in the War of 1812. That the British navy could outmatch anything the Americans could float was obvious, and the naval blockade was crushing to an economy dependent upon coastal traffic. Geopolitically, the most critical part of the war was the participation of semi-independent British Canada. It wasn’t so much Canadian participation in any specific battle of the war (although Canadian troops did play a leading role in the sacking of Washington in August 1814) as it was that Canadian forces, unlike the British, did not have a supply line that stretched across the Atlantic. They were already in North America and, as such, constituted a direct physical threat to the existence of the United States.

Canada lacked many of the United States’ natural advantages even before the Americans were able to acquire the Louisiana Territory. First and most obvious, Canada is far enough north that its climate is far harsher than that of the United States, with all of the negative complications one would expect for population, agriculture and infrastructure. What few rivers Canada has neither interconnect nor remain usable year round. While the Great Lakes do not typically freeze, some of the river connections between them do. Most of these river connections also have rapids and falls, greatly limiting their utility as a transport network. Canada has made them more usable via grand canal projects, but the country’s low population and difficult climate greatly constrain its ability to generate capital locally. Every infrastructure project comes at a great opportunity cost, such a high cost that the St. Lawrence Seaway — a series of locks that link the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes and allow full ocean access — was not completed until 1959.

Canada is also greatly challenged by geography. The maritime provinces — particularly Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island — are disconnected from the Canadian landmass and unable to capitalize on what geographic blessings the rest of the country enjoys. They lack even the option of integrating south with the Americans and so are perennially poor and lightly populated compared to the rest of the country. Even in the modern day, what population centers Canada does have are geographically sequestered from one another by the Canadian Shield and the Rocky Mountains.

As time advanced, none of Canada’s geographic weaknesses worked themselves out. Even the western provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — are linked to Canada’s core by only a single transport corridor that snakes 1,500 kilometers through the emptiness of western and central Ontario north of Lake Superior. All four provinces have been forced by geography and necessity to be more economically integrated with their southern neighbors than with their fellow Canadian provinces.

Such challenges to unity and development went from being inconvenient and expensive to downright dangerous when the British ended their involvement in the War of 1812 in February 1815. The British were exhausted from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe and, with the French Empire having essentially imploded, were more interested in reshaping the European balance of power than re-engaging the Americans in distant North America. For their part, the Americans were mobilized, angry and — remembering vividly the Canadian/British sacking of Washington — mulling revenge. This left a geographically and culturally fractured Canada dreading a long-term, solitary confrontation with a hostile and strengthening local power. During the following decades, the Canadians had little choice but to downgrade their ties to the increasingly disinterested British Empire, adopt political neutrality vis-a-vis Washington, and begin formal economic integration with the United States. Any other choice would have put the Canadians on the path to another war with the Americans (this time likely without the British), and that war could have had only one outcome.

With its northern border secured, the Americans set about excising as much other extra-hemispheric influence from North America as possible. The Napoleonic Wars had not only absorbed British attention but had also shattered Spanish power (Napoleon actually succeeded in capturing the king of Spain early in the conflicts). Using a combination of illegal settlements, military pressure and diplomacy, the United States was able to gain control of east and west Florida from Madrid in 1819 in exchange for recognizing Spanish claims to what is now known as Texas (Tejas to the Spanish of the day).

This “recognition” was not even remotely serious. With Spain reeling from the Napoleonic Wars, Spanish control of its New World colonies was frayed at best. Most of Spain’s holdings in the Western Hemisphere either had already established their independence when Florida was officially ceded, or — as in Mexico — were bitterly fighting for it. Mexico achieved its independence a mere two years after Spain ceded Florida, and the United States’ efforts to secure its southwestern borders shifted to a blatant attempt to undermine and ultimately carve up the one remaining Western Hemispheric entity that could potentially challenge the United States: Mexico.

The Ohio and Upper Mississippi basins were hugely important assets, since they provided not only ample land for settlement but also sufficient grain production and easy transport. Since that transport allowed American merchants to easily access broader international markets, the United States quickly transformed itself from a poor coastal nation to a massively capital-rich commodities exporter. But these inner territories harbored a potentially fatal flaw: New Orleans. Should any nation but the United States control this single point, the entire maritime network that made North America such valuable territory would be held hostage to the whims of a foreign power. This is why the United States purchased New Orleans.

But even with the Louisiana Purchase, owning was not the same as securing, and all the gains of the Ohio and Louisiana settlement efforts required the permanent securing of New Orleans. Clearly, the biggest potential security threat to the United States was newly independent Mexico, the border with which was only 150 kilometers from New Orleans. In fact, New Orleans’ security was even more precarious than such a small distance suggested.

Most of eastern Texas was forested plains and hills with ample water supplies — ideal territory for hosting and supporting a substantial military force. In contrast, southern Louisiana was swamp. Only the city of New Orleans itself could house forces, and they would need to be supplied from another location via ship. It did not require a particularly clever military strategy for one to envision a Mexican assault on the city.

The United States defused and removed this potential threat by encouraging the settlement of not just its own side of the border region but the other side as well, pushing until the legal border reflected the natural border — the barrens of the desert. Just as the American plan for dealing with Canada was shaped by Canada’s geographic weakness, Washington’s efforts to first shield against and ultimately take over parts of Mexico were shaped by Mexico’s geographic shortcomings.

In the early 1800s Mexico, like the United States, was a very young country and much of its territory was similarly unsettled, but it simply could not expand as quickly as the United States for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the United States enjoyed a head start, having secured its independence in 1783 while Mexico became independent in 1821, but the deeper reasons are rooted in the geographic differences of the two states.

In the United States, the cheap transport system allowed early settlers to quickly obtain their own small tracts of land. It was an attractive option that helped fuel the early migration waves into the United States and then into the continent’s interior. Growing ranks of landholders exported their agricultural output either back down the National Road to the East Coast or down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and on to Europe. Small towns formed as wealth collected in the new territories, and in time the wealth accumulated to the point that portions of the United States had the capital necessary to industrialize. The interconnected nature of the Midwest ensured sufficient economies of scale to reinforce this process, and connections between the Midwest and the East Coast were sufficient to allow advances in one region to play off of and strengthen the other.

Mexico, in contrast, suffered from a complete lack of navigable rivers and had only a single good port (Veracruz). Additionally, what pieces of arable land it possessed were neither collected into a singular mass like the American interior nor situated at low elevations. The Mexico City region is arable only because it sits at a high elevation — at least 2,200 meters above sea level — lifting it out of the subtropical climate zone that predominates at that latitude.

This presented Mexico with a multitude of problems. First and most obviously, the lack of navigable waterways and the non-abundance of ports drastically reduced Mexico’s ability to move goods and thereby generate its own capital. Second, the disassociated nature of Mexico’s agricultural regions forced the construction of separate, non-integrated infrastructures for each individual sub-region, drastically raising the costs of even basic development. There were few economies of scale to be had, and advances in one region could not bolster another. Third, the highland nature of the Mexico City core required an even more expensive infrastructure, since everything had to be transported up the mountains from Veracruz. The engineering challenges and costs were so extreme and Mexico’s ability to finance them so strained that the 410-kilometer railway linking Mexico City and Veracruz was not completed until 1873. (By that point, the United States had two intercontinental lines and roughly 60,000 kilometers of railways.)

The higher cost of development in Mexico resulted in a very different economic and social structure compared to the United States. Instead of small landholdings, Mexican agriculture was dominated by a small number of rich Spaniards (or their descendants) who could afford the high capital costs of creating plantations. So whereas American settlers were traditionally yeoman farmers who owned their own land, Mexican settlers were largely indentured laborers or de facto serfs in the employ of local oligarchs. The Mexican landowners had, in essence, created their own company towns and saw little benefit in pooling their efforts to industrialize. Doing so would have undermined their control of their economic and political fiefdoms. This social structure has survived to the modern day, with the bulk of Mexican political and economic power held by the same 300 families that dominated Mexico’s early years, each with its local geographic power center.

For the United States, the attraction of owning one’s own destiny made it the destination of choice for most European migrants. At the time that Mexico achieved independence it had 6.2 million people versus the U.S. population of 9.6 million. In just two generations — by 1870 — the American population had ballooned to 38.6 million while Mexico’s was only 8.8 million. This U.S. population boom, combined with the United States’ ability to industrialize organically, not only allowed it to develop economically but also enabled it to provide the goods for its own development.

The American effort against Mexico took place in two theaters. The first was Texas, and the primary means was settlement as enabled by the Austin family. Most Texas scholars begin the story of Texas with Stephen F. Austin, considered to be the dominant personality in Texas’ formation. STRATFOR starts earlier with Stephen’s father, Moses Austin. In December 1796, Moses relocated from Virginia to then-Spanish Missouri — a region that would, within a decade, become part of the Louisiana Purchase — and began investing in mining operations. He swore fealty to the Spanish crown but obtained permission to assist with settling the region — something he did with American, not Spanish, citizens. Once Missouri became American territory, Moses shifted his attention south to the new border and used his contacts in the Spanish government to replicate his Missouri activities in Spanish Tejas.

After Moses’ death in 1821, his son took over the family business of establishing American demographic and economic interests on the Mexican side of the border. Whether the Austins were American agents or simply profiteers is irrelevant; the end result was an early skewing of Tejas in the direction of the United States. Stephen’s efforts commenced the same year as his father’s death, which was the same year that Mexico’s long war of independence against Spain ended. At that time, Spanish/Mexican Tejas was nearly devoid of settlers — Anglo or Hispanic — so the original 300 families that Stephen F. Austin helped settle in Tejas immediately dominated the territory’s demography and economy. And from that point on the United States not so quietly encouraged immigration into Mexican Tejas.

Once Tejas’ population identified more with the United States than it did with Mexico proper, the hard work was already done. The remaining question was how to formalize American control, no small matter. When hostilities broke out between Mexico City and these so-called “Texians,” U.S. financial interests — most notably the U.S. regional reserve banks — bankrolled the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836.

It was in this war that one of the most important battles of the modern age was fought. After capturing the Alamo, Mexican dictator Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna marched north and then east with the intention of smashing the Texian forces in a series of engagements. With the Texians outnumbered by a factor of more than five to one, there was every indication that the Mexican forces would prevail over the Texian rebels. But with no small amount of luck the Texians managed not only to defeat the Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto but also capture Santa Anna himself and force a treaty of secession upon the Mexican government. An independent Texas was born and the Texians became Texans.

However, had the battle gone the other way the Texian forces would not have simply been routed but crushed. It was obvious to the Mexicans that the Texians had been fighting with weapons made in the United States, purchased from the United States with money lent by the United States. Since there would have been no military force between the Mexican army and New Orleans, it would not have required a particularly ingenious plan for Mexican forces to capture New Orleans. It could well have been Mexico — not the United States — that controlled access to the North American core.

But Mexican supremacy over North America was not to be, and the United States continued consolidating. The next order of business was ensuring that Texas neither fell back under Mexican control nor was able to persist as an independent entity.

Texas was practically a still-born republic. The western half of Texas suffers from rocky soil and aridity, and its rivers are for the most part unnavigable. Like Mexico, its successful development would require a massive application of capital, and it attained its independence only by accruing a great deal of debt. That debt was owed primarily to the United States, which chose not to write off any upon conclusion of the war. Add in that independent Texas had but 40,000 people (compared to the U.S. population at the time of 14.7 million) and the future of the new country was — at best — bleak.

Texas immediately applied for statehood, but domestic (both Texan and American) political squabbles and a refusal of Washington to accept Texas’ debt as an American federal responsibility prevented immediate annexation. Within a few short years, Texas’ deteriorating financial position combined with a revenge-minded Mexico hard by its still-disputed border forced Texas to accede to the United States on Washington’s terms in 1845. From that point the United States poured sufficient resources into its newest territory (ultimately exchanging approximately one-third of Texas’ territory for the entirety of the former country’s debt burden in 1850, giving Texas its contemporary shape) and set about enforcing the new U.S.-Mexico border.

Which brings us to the second part of the American strategy against Mexico. While the United States was busy supporting Texian/Texan autonomy, it was also undermining Spanish/Mexican control of the lands of what would become the American Southwest farther to the west. The key pillar of this strategy was another of the famous American trails: the Santa Fe.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Santa Fe Trail was formed not only before the New Mexico Territory became American, or even before Texas became an U.S. state, but before the territory become formally Mexican — the United States founded the trail when Santa Fe was still held by Spanish authority. The trail’s purpose was twofold: first, to fill the region on the other side of the border with a sufficient number of Americans so that the region would identify with the United States rather than with Spain or Mexico and, second, to establish an economic dependency between the northern Mexican territories and the United States.

The United States’ more favorable transport options and labor demography granted it the capital and skills it needed to industrialize at a time when Mexico was still battling Spain for its independence. The Santa Fe Trail started filling the region not only with American settlers but also with American industrial goods that Mexicans could not get elsewhere in the hemisphere.

Even if the race to dominate the lands of New Mexico and Arizona had been a fair one, the barrens of the Chihuahuan, Sonoran and Mojave deserts greatly hindered Mexico’s ability to settle the region with its own citizens. Mexico quickly fell behind economically and demographically in the contest for its own northern territories. (Incidentally, the United States attempted a similar settlement policy in western Canada, but it was halted by the War of 1812.)

The two efforts — carving out Texas and demographically and economically dominating the Southwest — came to a head in the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War. In that war the Americans launched a series of diversionary attacks across the border region, drawing the bulk of Mexican forces into long, arduous marches across the Mexican deserts. Once Mexican forces were fully engaged far to the north of Mexico’s core territories — and on the wrong side of the deserts — American forces made an amphibious landing and quickly captured Mexico’s only port at Veracruz before marching on and capturing Mexico City, the country’s capital. In the postwar settlement, the United States gained control of all the lands of northern Mexico that could sustain sizable populations and set the border with Mexico through the Chihuahuan Desert, as good of an international border as one can find in North America. This firmly eliminated Mexico as a military threat.

3. Control the Ocean Approaches to North America
With the United States having not simply secured its land borders but having ensured that its North American neighbors were geographically unable to challenge it, Washington’s attention shifted to curtailing the next potential threat: an attack from the sea. Having been settled by the British and being economically integrated into their empire for more than a century, the Americans understood very well that sea power could be used to reach them from Europe or elsewhere, outmaneuver their land forces and attack at the whim of whoever controlled the ships.

But the Americans also understood that useful sea power had requirements. The Atlantic crossing was a long one that exhausted its crews and passengers. Troops could not simply sail straight across and be dropped off ready to fight. They required recuperation on land before being committed to a war. Such ships and their crews also required local resupply. Loading up with everything needed for both the trip across the Atlantic and a military campaign would leave no room on the ships for troops. As naval technology advanced, the ships themselves also required coal, which necessitated a constellation of coaling stations near any theaters of operation. Hence, a naval assault required forward bases that would experience traffic just as heavy as the spear tip of any invasion effort.

Ultimately, it was a Russian decision that spurred the Americans to action. In 1821 the Russians formalized their claim to the northwest shore of North America, complete with a declaration barring any ship from approaching within 100 miles of their coastline. The Russian claim extended as far south as the 51st parallel (the northern extreme of Vancouver Island). A particularly bold Russian effort even saw the founding of Fort Ross, less than 160 kilometers north of San Francisco Bay, in order to secure a (relatively) local supply of foodstuffs for Russia’s American colonial effort.

In response to both the broader geopolitical need as well as the specific Russian challenge, the United States issued the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. It asserted that European powers would not be allowed to form new colonies in the Western Hemisphere and that, should a European power lose its grip on an existing New World colony, American power would be used to prevent their re-entrance. It was a policy of bluff, but it did lay the groundwork in both American and European minds that the Western Hemisphere was not European territory. With every year that the Americans’ bluff was not called, the United States’ position gained a little more credibility.

All the while the United States used diplomacy and its growing economic heft to expand. In 1867 the United States purchased the Alaska Territory from Russia, removing Moscow’s weak influence from the hemisphere and securing the United States from any northwestern coastal approach from Asia. In 1898, after a generation of political manipulations that included indirectly sponsoring a coup, Washington signed a treaty of annexation with the Kingdom of Hawaii. This secured not only the most important supply depot in the entire Pacific but also the last patch of land on any sea invasion route from Asia to the U.S. West Coast.

The Atlantic proved far more problematic. There are not many patches of land in the Pacific, and most of them are in the extreme western reaches of the ocean, so securing a buffer there was relatively easy. On the Atlantic side, many European empires were firmly entrenched very close to American shores. The British held bases in maritime Canada and the Bahamas. Several European powers held Caribbean colonies, all of which engaged in massive trade with the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War. The Spanish, while completely ejected from the mainland by the end of the 1820s, still held Cuba, Puerto Rico and the eastern half of Hispaniola (the modern-day Dominican Republic).

All were problematic to the growing United States, but it was Cuba that was the most vexing issue. Just as the city of New Orleans is critical because it is the lynchpin of the entire Mississippi watershed, Cuba, too, is critical because it oversees New Orleans’ access to the wider world from its perch on the Yucatan Channel and Florida Straits. No native Cuban power is strong enough to threaten the United States directly, but like Canada, Cuba could serve as a launching point for an extra-hemispheric power. At Spain’s height of power in the New World it controlled Florida, the Yucatan and Cuba — precisely the pieces of territory necessary to neutralize New Orleans. By the end of the 19th century, those holdings had been whittled down to Cuba alone, and by that time the once-hegemonic Spain had been crushed in a series of European wars, reducing it to a second-rate regional power largely limited to southwestern Europe. It did not take long for Washington to address the Cuba question.

In 1898, the United States launched its first-ever overseas expeditionary war, complete with amphibious assaults, long supply lines and naval support for which American warfighting would in time become famous. In a war that was as globe-spanning as it was brief, the United States captured all of Spain’s overseas island territories — including Cuba. Many European powers retained bases in the Western Hemisphere that could threaten the U.S. mainland, but with Cuba firmly in American hands, they could not easily assault New Orleans, the only spot that could truly threaten America’s position. Cuba remained a de facto American territory until the Cuban Revolution of 1959. At that point, Cuba again became a launching point for an extra-hemispheric power, this time the Soviet Union. That the United States risked nuclear war over Cuba is a testament to how seriously Washington views Cuba. In the post-Cold War era Cuba lacks a powerful external sponsor and so, like Canada, is not viewed as a security risk.

After the Spanish-American war, the Americans opportunistically acquired territories when circumstances allowed. By far the most relevant of these annexations were the results of the Lend-Lease program in the lead-up to World War II. The United Kingdom and its empire had long been seen as the greatest threat to American security. In addition to two formal American-British wars, the United States had fought dozens of skirmishes with its former colonial master over the years. It was British sea power that had nearly destroyed the United States in its early years, and it remained British sea power that could both constrain American economic growth and ultimately challenge the U.S. position in North America.

The opening years of World War II ended this potential threat. Beset by a European continent fully under the control of Nazi Germany, London had been forced to concentrate all of its naval assets on maintaining a Continental blockade. German submarine warfare threatened both the strength of that blockade and the ability of London to maintain its own maritime supply lines. Simply put, the British needed more ships. The Americans were willing to provide them — 40 mothballed destroyers to be exact — for a price. That price was almost all British naval bases in the Western Hemisphere. The only possessions that boasted good natural ports that the British retained after the deal were in Nova Scotia and the Bahamas.

The remaining naval approaches in the aftermath of Lend-Lease were the Azores (a Portuguese possession) and Iceland. The first American operations upon entering World War II were the occupations of both territories. In the post-war settlement, not only was Iceland formally included in NATO but its defense responsibilities were entirely subordinated to the U.S. Defense Department.

4. Control the World’s Oceans
The two world wars of the early 20th century constituted a watershed in human history for a number of reasons. For the United States the wars’ effects can be summed up with this simple statement: They cleared away the competition.

Global history from 1500 to 1945 is a lengthy treatise of increasing contact and conflict among a series of great regional powers. Some of these powers achieved supra-regional empires, with the Spanish, French and English being the most obvious. Several regional powers — Austria, Germany, Ottoman Turkey and Japan — also succeeded in extending their writ over huge tracts of territory during parts of this period. And several secondary powers — the Netherlands, Poland, China and Portugal — had periods of relative strength. Yet the two world wars massively devastated all of these powers. No battles were fought in the mainland United States. Not a single American factory was ever bombed. Alone among the world’s powers in 1945, the United States was not only functional but thriving.

The United States immediately set to work consolidating its newfound power, creating a global architecture to entrench its position. The first stage of this — naval domination — was achieved quickly and easily. The U.S. Navy at the beginning of World War II was already a respectable institution, but after three years fighting across two oceans it had achieved both global reach and massive competency. But that is only part of the story. Equally important was the fact that, as of August 1945, with the notable exception of the British Royal Navy, every other navy in the world had been destroyed. As impressive as the United States’ absolute gains in naval power had been, its relative gains were grander still. There simply was no competition. Always a maritime merchant power, the United States could now marry its economic advantages to absolute dominance of the seas and all global trade routes. And it really didn’t need to build a single additional ship to do so (although it did anyway).

Over the next few years the United States’ undisputed naval supremacy allowed the Americans to impose a series of changes on the international system.

The formation of NATO in 1949 placed all of the world’s surviving naval assets under American strategic direction.
The inclusion of the United Kingdom, Italy, Iceland and Norway in NATO granted the United States the basing rights it needed to utterly dominate the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean — the two bodies of water that would be required for any theoretical European resurgence. The one meaningful European attempt to challenge the new reality — the Anglo-French Sinai campaign of 1956 — cemented the downfall of the European navies. Both London and Paris discovered that they now lacked the power to hold naval policies independent of Washington.
The seizure of Japan’s Pacific empire granted the Americans basing access in the Pacific, sufficient to allow complete American naval dominance of the north and central portions of that ocean.
A formal alliance with Australia and New Zealand extended American naval hegemony to the southern Pacific in 1951.
A 1952 security treaty placed a rehabilitated Japan — and its navy — firmly under the American security umbrella.
Shorn of both independent economic vitality at home and strong independent naval presences beyond their home waters, all of the European empires quickly collapsed. Within a few decades of World War II’s end, nearly every piece of the once globe-spanning European empires had achieved independence.

There is another secret to American success — both in controlling the oceans and taking advantage of European failures — that lies in an often-misunderstood economic structure called Bretton Woods. Even before World War II ended, the United States had leveraged its position as the largest economy and military to convince all of the Western allies — most of whose governments were in exile at the time — to sign onto the Bretton Woods accords. The states committed to the formation of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to assist with the expected post-War reconstruction. Considering the general destitution of Western Europe at the time, this, in essence, was a U.S. commitment to finance if not outright fund that reconstruction. Because of that, the U.S. dollar was the obvious and only choice to serve as the global currency.

But Bretton Woods was about more than currency regimes and international institutions; its deeper purpose lay in two other features that are often overlooked. The United States would open its markets to participating states’ exports while not requiring reciprocal access for its own. In exchange, participating states would grant the United States deference in the crafting of security policy. NATO quickly emerged as the organization through which this policy was pursued.

From the point of view of the non-American founders of Bretton Woods, this was an excellent deal. Self-funded reconstruction was out of the question. The bombing campaigns required to defeat the Nazis leveled most of Western Europe’s infrastructure and industrial capacity. Even in those few parts of the United Kingdom that emerged unscathed, the state labored under a debt that would require decades of economic growth to recover from.

It was not so much that access to the American market would help regenerate Europe’s fortunes as it was that the American market was the only market at war’s end. And since all exports from Bretton-Woods states (which the exception of some Canadian exports) to the United States had to travel by water, and since the U.S. Navy was the only institution that could guarantee the safety of those exports, adopting security policies unfriendly to Washington was simply seen as a nonstarter. By the mid-1950s, Bretton Woods had been expanded to the defeated Axis powers as well as South Korea and Taiwan. It soon became the basis of the global trading network, first being incorporated into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and in time being transformed into the World Trade Organization. With a single policy, the Americans not only had fused their economic and military policies into a single robust system but also had firmly established that American dominance of the seas and the global economic system would be in the interest of all major economies with the exception of the Soviet Union.

5. Prevent any Potential Challengers from Rising
From a functional point of view the United States controls North America because it holds nearly all of the pieces that are worth holding. With the possible exception of Cuba or some select sections of southern Canada, the rest of the landmass is more trouble than it is worth. Additionally, the security relationship it has developed with Canada and Mexico means that neither poses an existential threat to American dominance. Any threat to the United States would have to come from beyond North America. And the only type of country that could possibly dislodge the United States would be another state whose power is also continental in scope.

As of 2011, there are no such states in the international system. Neither are there any such powers whose rise is imminent. Most of the world is simply too geographically hostile to integration to pose significant threats. The presence of jungles, deserts and mountains and the lack of navigable rivers in Africa does more than make Africa capital poor; it also absolutely prevents unification, thus eliminating Africa as a potential seedbed for a mega-state. As for Australia, most of it is not habitable. It is essentially eight loosely connected cities spread around the edges of a largely arid landmass. Any claims to Australia being a “continental” power would be literal, not functional.

In fact, there are only two portions of the planet (outside of North America) that could possibly generate a rival to the United States. One is South America. South America is mostly hollow, with the people living on the coasts and the center dominated by rainforests and mountains. However, the Southern Cone region has the world’s only other naturally interconnected and navigable waterway system overlaying arable land, the building blocks of a major power. But that territory — the Rio de la Plata region — is considerably smaller than the North American core and it is also split among four sovereign states. And the largest of those four — Brazil — has a fundamentally different culture and language than the others, impeding unification.

State-to-state competition is hardwired into the Rio de la Plata region, making a challenge to the United States impossible until there is political consolidation, and that will require not simply Brazil’s ascendency but also its de facto absorption of Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina into a single Brazilian superstate. Considering how much more powerful Brazil is than the other three combined, that consolidation — and the challenge likely to arise from it — may well be inevitable but it is certainly not imminent. Countries the size of Argentina do not simply disappear easily or quickly. So while a South American challenge may be rising, it is extremely unlikely to occur within a generation.

The other part of the world that could produce a rival to the United States is Eurasia. Eurasia is a region of extremely varied geography, and it is the most likely birthplace of an American competitor that would be continental in scope. Geography, however, makes it extremely difficult for such a power (or a coalition of such powers) to arise. In fact, the southern sub-regions of Eurasia cannot contribute to such formation. The Ganges River Basin is the most agriculturally productive in the world, but the Ganges is not navigable. The combination of fertile lands and non-navigable waterways makes the region crushingly overpopu
24153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Mark Rubio on: August 25, 2011, 01:21:23 PM
second post:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/08/24/rubio_conservatism_is_about_empowering_people_to_catch_up.html
24154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oil production issues on: August 25, 2011, 01:08:54 PM
second post

Director of Analysis Reva Bhalla examines the challenges ahead for the Libyan oil sector.


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

Related Special Topics Page
The Libyan War: Full Coverage
Ever since the Libyan rebels stepped foot into Tripoli, investors and energy traders all over have been trying to come up with estimates on when Libyan energy production can come back online. Those estimates range from a few days to several months up to a year. The eagerness to see Libyan oil come back online is understandable. Before the conflict started, Libya was producing roughly 1.6 million barrels per day of light, sweet crude, which is highly prized in the market. During the conflict, much of Libya’s energy production, if not all, has been taken off-line. The problem is that it’s nearly impossible to come up with a reliable estimate on when Libya can actually make a return to the energy markets. A number of traders are basing their estimates on technical criteria, when in fact the primary factors determining the future of Libyan oil production are related to the security and political climate of the country primarily.

The biggest criteria anyone will want to look at in the immediate term are the damage assessments on the fields, pipelines and ports. Any quick recovery will require well-managed fields and, before the conflict, it looked like those fields were in pretty good shape as they were handled by Libya’s national oil company and their foreign affiliates, but it’s not clear how well those shutdowns were handled when the conflict began.

It’s also going to be important to assess the internal stability and capacity of Libya’s state oil company, as these are the primary workers that are going to be relied on to bring Libyan oil production online first. We’ve seen that remaining Libyan oil workers have encountered a great deal of difficulty in trying to repair damaged facilities thus far. They are going to require a lot of foreign help, but a large number of foreign workers are not going to be able to come back into the country until the security climate improves and that remains a great uncertainty.

The problem is that no company really has solid information to come up with these damage assessments in the first place. The security situation is extremely dynamic, so a damage assessment one day can change within a matter of hours days or weeks. The good news is that there have not been reports of serious damage inflicted on Libyan energy facilities, although when eastern Libya fell into rebel hands, Gadhafi’s forces did mount sabotage operations against fields in the East.

Foreign companies haven’t really been able to venture into the East since that conflict began, but it’s estimated that production in the Far East and Marsa al Hariga region would be among the first to resume production. Since the oil fields in western Libya never really fell into rebel hands, there wouldn’t be much damage the infrastructure there, aside from damage to the pipeline that runs through the Nafusa Mountains and through Zawiya, which was the site of the rebel offensive before the advance into Tripoli.

Given that NATO forces are unwilling to increase their military burden by committing conventional ground forces to this fight, they’re having to rely a great deal on intelligence assets on the ground, special operations forces and an elaborate disinformation campaign to try and create the perception that Gadhafi’s forces are on the verge of capitulating. The events of the past days have revealed, however, that this war is far from over.

There’s a great deal of rivalry within the rebel camp and a lot of people are trying now to stake their claim in this conflict. Particularly, you have rebels in the western region who led the offensive into Tripoli, and therefore feel entitled to the spoils of this war, while you have at political establishment based in the eastern stronghold of Benghazi trying to lay their claim to this conflict and arguing that the offensive would not even have been waged had they not laid the political grounds for this fight. These are the kinds of splits we expect to emerge amongst the different ideologies, factions, tribes and religious groups within this very fractious rebel movement.

The point is that a single faction or coalition does not control the country and, until you have a single coalition or faction that controls the country, you cannot have the government. And until you have a government, you cannot have a foreign policy. Until you have a foreign policy, you cannot have an energy policy. Until you have an energy policy, you cannot have a contractual model for foreign energy firms to work with. I would look at players like Italian energy from ENI, which is the most heavily vested in this country, has been up Libya since ‘59 and has the most energy investment in the country. They have a lot at stake and are very familiar with the security climate there and are most likely to be the first to put their people on the ground to come up with these assessments.

Likewise, I would also look at Russia, which has intelligence links that go way back with the Gadhafi regime and likely have a better read on the situation than most. It is also important to note that Russia has a very close relationship with Italian energy firm ENI. Most importantly, one needs to bear in mind that a massive disinformation campaign is in play and that rebel claims of success need to be met with a high degree of suspicion. So long as the possibility of protracted conflict in Libya remains high, and we believe this is the case, the resumption of oil production in Libya will remain a significant unknown.

24155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Alexander's Essay 8/25/11 on: August 25, 2011, 01:07:05 PM
Alexander's Essay – August 25, 2011

Ballots or Bullets?
Ballot Box Barriers to Restoring Constitutional Integrity

"We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our Liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party through artifice or corruption, the Government may be the choice of a party for its own ends, not of the nation for the national good." --John Adams, Inaugural Address, 1797
All around us, there are imminent and ominous threats to the future of American Liberty. None, however, is more grave than the demolition of free enterprise by those who would replace it with the authoritarian rule of Democratic Socialism envisioned by Barack Hussein Obama and his leftist comrades.

Rancorous political debate is currently focused on competing solutions for our failing domestic economy and the collapse of our esteemed standing among the nations of the world.


Conservatives, particularly those resolute constitutional constructionists who identify with the much-maligned Tea Party Movement, rightly understand, as did Ronald Reagan, that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." That is why we are advocating for the restoration of constitutional limits on the central government.

Conversely, the growing ranks of leftists in Congress, some 80 of whom are openly members of the Socialist Party of America's Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), subscribe to the notion that government is both the engine and the drive train of our nation's economy.

But if Essential Liberty and Rule of Law as enshrined in our Constitution are to survive, then free enterprise must be their economic engine. At present, however, that engine is attempting to pull an ever more bloated government trailer -- a trailer so overloaded as to bring the economy to a dead stop.

How bloated?

Obama's government programs will amass a $1.3 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2011 alone, some $400 billion more than the paltry $917 billion in savings to which Congress agreed over the next decade under the recent budget deal and corresponding debt-ceiling increase.

This oppressive bloat -- and our elected leaders' utterly inadequate response to it -- will serve as fodder for much of the political debate ahead of the 2012 election. Indeed, the future of Liberty depends on the successful defeat of enough congressional leftists to provide strong conservative majorities in both the House and Senate. Moreover, Liberty hangs in the balance of the upcoming presidential election. While conservatives recaptured the House of Representatives in 2010, the first effective step to restrain Obama's agenda, only a conservative president can begin to undo the damage done to our nation by the Obama regime.

However, do we still have the luxury of political solutions, via elections, to salvage what is left of our Republic? Is the ballot box still a viable method to restore constitutional integrity?

Is the ballot box still an option? Post your opinion
As John Adams once warned, we must be vigilantly on guard against all contagions that would "infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections."

These contagions, these obstacles, are as follows, roughly in order of threat magnitude: an ignorant electorate; candidates who are unable to articulate the difference between Rule of Law and rule of men; institutionalized dependency on the state, including the fact that 40 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax; forced redistribution of wealth; comfort, complacency and indifference; Leftmedia dezinformatsia; opposition by the leftist elite; and, finally, the conferring of legal status upon illegal immigrants in order to fortify Democrat voter constituencies illegitimately.

The most significant obstacle to restoring liberty by way of the electoral process is the fact that so many Americans know so little about civics or civic responsibility. When it comes to getting government right, ignorance is not bliss.

It follows, then, that there is a dearth of qualified candidates who are able to articulate the difference between Rule of Law and rule of men, who instead get lost in the high weeds of lesser political issues.

A majority of Americans are beneficiaries of some combination of thousands of government schemes to redistribute wealth. The resulting institutionalized dependency on the state is insidious, as it results in reliable votes for whichever party (read: the Democrat Party) can take the most from one group and redistribute it to another. It's no wonder that the most recent Index of Dependence on Government (2010) reports the greatest single-year percentage rise in dependence since 1976.

As Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) recently noted, Obama's "intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him."

Additionally, 40 percent of Americans pay no federal income taxes. This huge voting bloc thus has no (apparent) stake in our nation's fiscal health, and its voters are thereby motivated to use their ballots to keep the government largess spewing.

As 19th-century political economist Frederic Bastiat noted, "Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."

The forced redistribution of wealth pushed the Cost of Government Day to 12 August this year, which means that the average American tax payer must now work 224 days to fund all taxes, and hidden regulatory taxes, imposed by the central government. That date is 27 days later than in 2008, and it now consumes more than 60 percent of national earned income. There are endless regulatory costs on the horizon, such as Obama's new fuel economy standards which according to a study conducted by the Center for Automotive Research, will increase the average retail price of motor vehicles more than $11,000.

As government takes more, individuals have less to live their lives and to support Liberty advocacy organizations like The Patriot Post.

Of course, comfort, complacency and indifference, particularly among wealthy "Republicans" who contribute little to sustain our legacy of Liberty for our posterity, undermine the potential for sustaining Liberty by way of the ballot box.

In response to such indifference, Samuel Adams advised, "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"

Meanwhile, Leftmedia indoctrination and thriving financial support for wealthy left-elite socialist causes continue to twist public opinion and ensure the success of leftist candidates and policies.

Other obstacles to ballot box solutions? Post your comments
While these are certainly formidable obstacles to the rejection of socialism and successful restoration of constitutional integrity, they are not insurmountable. Still, when generations of Americans have been inculcated with the belief that they are entitled to so much from the state, it may take a generation or more to re-educate them, and to stave off the violence that often erupts when the state fails to meet their expectations as witnessed recently in Greece and England.

The question remains: Are we irrevocably locked into the Cycle of Democracy? Recall that this evolves from bondage to spiritual faith; spiritual faith to great courage; courage to Liberty (Rule of Law); Liberty to abundance; abundance to complacency; complacency to apathy; apathy to dependence; and from dependence back into bondage (rule of men).

At the close of the first American Revolution, George Washington wrote, "No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings [of Liberty] than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass."

We have already veered from that road. Is there time to use the ballot box to attain a new dawn for Liberty, or are we destined to dependence and bondage, which will require another renewal of faith and courage?

24156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: August 25, 2011, 01:06:01 PM

"We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our Liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party through artifice or corruption, the Government may be the choice of a party for its own ends, not of the nation for the national good." --John Adams, Inaugural Address, 1797

24157  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hermosa Clan on: August 25, 2011, 11:49:59 AM
Off the top of my head for the Hermosa Clan:  Beowulf; Fu Dog; War Dog; Nathan; Alex; Katherine; Dog Chi-med, , , ,

TAC!
24158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington, 1788 on: August 25, 2011, 11:46:59 AM


"No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass." --George Washington, letter to Benjamin Lincoln, 1788
24159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Rothstein: Martin Luther King Memorial on: August 25, 2011, 11:44:57 AM
By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
Published: August 25, 2011
WASHINGTON — It is a momentous occasion. Into an honored array of presidents and soldiers — the founders and protectors of the nation — has come a minister, a man without epaulets or civilian authority who was not a creator of laws but someone who, for a time, was a deliberate violator of them; not a wager of war but someone who, throughout his short life, was pretty much a pacifist; not an associate of the nation’s ruling elite but someone who, in many cases, would have been physically prevented from joining it.

Lei Yixin created the 30-foot sculpture of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

That figure is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and this Sunday, when his four-acre, $120 million memorial on the edge of the Tidal Basin is to be officially dedicated, it will be adjacent to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s, across the water from Thomas Jefferson’s, and along an axis leading from that founding father directly to Abraham Lincoln’s. There are few figures in American history with similar credentials who would have even a remotely comparable claim for national remembrance on the Washington Mall.

Perhaps, though, it was the presence of such company that led to the kind of memorial that now exists. There is always an element of kitsch in monumental memorials, a built-in grandiosity that exaggerates the physical and spiritual statures of their human subjects. That is one of the purposes of turning flesh into imposing stone. We can feel it when standing at Lincoln’s toe level in his Grecian memorial on the Mall. It is unavoidable, too, in the Parthenon-like gazebo that houses the towering figure of Jefferson at the edge of the Tidal Basin.

So it should be no surprise that something similar happens to Dr. King. But his statue, by the Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin, goes even further. Those of Jefferson and Lincoln are a mere 19 feet tall; Dr. King looms 30 feet up, staring over the Tidal Basin. And he isn’t decorously posed in a classical structure; he isn’t contained in an ordered space with Greek or Roman allusions. His form emerges halfway out of an enormous mound of granite so heavy that 50-foot piles had to be driven into the ground to provide support.

We don’t even see his feet. He is embedded in the rock like something not yet fully born, suited and stern, rising from its roughly chiseled surface. His face is uncompromising, determined, his eyes fixed in the distance, not far from where Jefferson stands across the water. But kitsch here strains at the limits of resemblance: Is this the Dr. King of the “I Have a Dream” speech? Or the writer of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech?

And while no memorial on the Mall has ever had an easy time of it, this one surely had its share of problems. Dr. King was a member of the country’s first black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, whose officials began the commemorative plans. Between 1996, when the fraternity’s oversight was first approved by Congress and President Bill Clinton, and Sunday’s dedication (on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “Dream” speech), the memorial’s site has shifted back and forth, its privately raised funds have become intermittently scarce, and its decisions have inspired a number of controversies.

The King family is reported to have demanded and received about $800,000 in fees from the foundation that was established to create the memorial, just for permission to use Dr. King’s words and likeness for fund-raising. Following the appointment of Mr. Lei as sculptor, the foundation was attacked for not having chosen a black American, let alone an American.

But its leaders — including Harry E. Johnson Sr., its president, and Dr. Ed Jackson Jr., its executive architect — also ran a blind international design competition that was overseen by an appointed group of architects and designers; the commission was awarded to a San Francisco firm, the ROMA Design Group.

And if you look at the early designs and guidelines, you see the nature of the original ambitions. The descriptions on the memorial’s web site, mlkmemorial.org, speak of Dr. King’s emphasis on “hope and possibility,” and on his belief in “a future anchored in dignity, sensitivity and mutual respect.”

Indeed, a 450-foot curving wall offers brief quotations from Dr. King’s speeches that emphasize his almost heroic faith in the face of unrelenting opposition:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness,” he wrote in 1963, “only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

“Unarmed truth and unconditional love,” he believed, almost impossibly, would have the final word: “Right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” And he could be absolutist about it. “Injustice anywhere,” he said, “is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Quotations from the late ’60s reveal hints of a different sensibility developing, perhaps out of continuing disenchantment: a transnational universalism. “Every nation,” he said, “must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole.”

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional,” he said in 1967. “We must develop a world perspective.”

Originally, ROMA called for water as a major element of the design, glistening sheets flowing over the arc of carved words as fountains murmur, creating a pastoral, meditative atmosphere. The water would also have been a direct allusion to Dr. King’s “Dream” speech and his frequent invocation of the prophet Amos (“let justice run down like waters ...”). For budgetary reasons, though, almost all these plans were abandoned, leaving just two small fountains near the entrance, but there was something profound and touching in the original vision.

That initial idea is now also pushed aside by a far less subtle conceit that takes center stage. You enter the memorial from Independence Avenue by walking through a narrow passage between two granite mounds. They arise out of the landscape without any context, and it becomes clear that the corridor between them was created by pushing out a slice of rock — the same rock that now sits at the center of the memorial, on the far side of which is carved the looming torso of Dr. King.

It turns out that these towering mounds at the entrance are supposed to represent something from the “Dream” speech: a “mountain of despair.” The slab is inscribed: “Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

But do these mounds of granite, which are given an almost artificial appearance with their cartoonish contours — do they evoke anything at all like a “mountain of despair”? And the unattractive slice supposedly pushed into the center of the memorial: is that really a “stone of hope”? Certainly not, judging from the expression on Dr. King’s face.

The metaphor is not one of Dr. King’s best, anyway, but to build an entire memorial out of it, and then to do so in a way that makes no real sense, is baffling. Moreover, the original context of the line from the speech is quite different. Dr. King, after the demonstration in Washington, was going back to the South, his faith intact.

“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope,” he proclaimed. “With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."

It is an active phrase; the stone is hewn from the mountain. Here it is just the opposite; the stone of hope is sliced away and apparently pushed to the center. Dr. King is pushed along with it.

As for the portrait of Dr. King, it seems to have been based on a photograph by Bob Fitch that shows him with crossed arms, engrossed in thought. But here, the crossing of arms is a sign of something else: determination, perhaps. Or command. Monumental, not human.

And the mound’s isolation from any other tall objects, its enormity and Dr. King’s posture all conspire to make him seem an authoritarian figure, emerging full-grown from the rock’s chiseled surface, at one with the ancient forces of nature, seeming to claim their authority as his. You don’t come here to commune with him, let alone to attend to the ideas the memorial’s Web site insists are latent here: “democracy, justice, hope and love.” You come to tilt your head back and follow; he, clearly, has his mind elsewhere.

It is difficult to know precisely why all this went wrong, or why this memorial never alludes to a fundamental theme of Dr. King’s life, involving equal treatment for American blacks. It strives for a kind of ethereal universality, while opposing forces pull it in another direction.

The failure may also have a larger cause. Many recent memorials proliferating along the Mall have trivialized or mischaracterized their subjects. The World War II memorial seems almost phony, with its artificial allusions to antiquity; the Roosevelt Memorial diminishes that president and even implies that he was a pacifist (featuring his words “I hate war”) instead of a wartime leader responsible for building up the “arsenal of democracy.” Why shouldn’t Dr. King, too, be misread — turning the minister into a warrior or a ruler, as if caricaturing or trying too hard to resemble his company on the Mall?
24160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Chutzpah on: August 25, 2011, 11:23:04 AM
Chutzpah Menachem Av 25, 5771 · August 25, 2011
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson Print this Page


The first thing you must know before anything else applies: Truth demands chutzpah. If what you are doing is the right thing to do, don’t give two cents about what others have to say.

Without that knowledge secure in your heart and soul, don’t imagine you can take a single step forward. Once you’ve passed its test, then you can begin to grow.


24161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: August 25, 2011, 11:19:12 AM
Nice one Rachel.
24162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: August 25, 2011, 12:59:53 AM
You find some real gems Rachel.
24163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Intel War in Libya on: August 25, 2011, 12:36:37 AM
Tuesday, August 23, 2011   STRATFOR.COM  Diary Archives 

The Intelligence War in Libya

The International Criminal Court (ICC) had some explaining to do Tuesday after Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the second-eldest son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, blatantly disproved a rebel claim, confirmed by the ICC, that he had been captured by rebel forces. Seif al-Islam appeared early Tuesday morning local time at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli and gave a brief press conference to a group of foreign journalists. Within a matter of minutes, he singlehandedly discredited claims that the rebels had seized the capital while also confirming widespread fears, particularly those felt by NATO and the Libyan rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), that the war is by no means over.

“In the Libya case, NATO needed to transform an illusion — that Libya’s National Transitional Council was fit to govern and that Gadhafi was ready to capitulate — into a reality.”
The most interesting aspect of this whole episode is the earlier ICC claim — forwarded both by spokesman Fadi El Abdallah and Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo — that the surrender and detainment of Seif al-Islam by rebel special forces had been confirmed. Both officials stated publicly that the International Criminal Court was discussing when and how the young Libyan leader would be transferred to The Hague in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolution 1970. After Seif al-Islam appeared before the cameras, El Abdallah retreated from his earlier statement, saying that “the [ICC] prosecutor said he had received information about the arrest of Seif al-Islam, which is true, but we did not receive an official confirmation of this information.” Moreno-Ocampo also issued a brief written statement from his office that reiterated his commitment to helping the Libyan rebels bring justice to the country, but he did not address his earlier, inaccurate statement on Seif al-Islam.

The question of how the ICC, an ostensibly neutral international organization, could commit such a major blunder cannot be easily answered. This incident was not simply the product of the Libyan rebel propaganda machine. Instead, it was likely one piece of a broader disinformation campaign currently being run by Western intelligence agencies operating in Libya.

When the military campaign in Libya began in mid-March, STRATFOR emphasized two main points: that air power alone would not produce regime change in Libya; and that the duration of the conflict would extend far beyond most expectations. An ideological narrative on the need for humanitarian intervention to further the cause of liberal democracy created the foundation for the NATO campaign. However, none of the allies were prepared to commit significant resources, particularly conventional ground forces, to increase the likelihood of regime collapse. Political constraints, the murkiness of the rebel movement and the simple fact that countries were not willing to expend blood and treasure on a conflict that did not directly impact them are all factors that contributed to this military reality. Thus, NATO has been fighting the war on the cheap — a circumstance that requires a great deal of creativity. In short, NATO needed to find a way to reshape the political reality on the ground without significantly increasing its military burden.

As military strategist Sun Tzu once said, “to win a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the highest excellence; the highest excellence is to subdue the enemy’s army without fighting at all.” All warfare, as the Chinese military general said, is based on deception. In the Libya case, NATO needed to transform an illusion — that Libya’s National Transitional Council was fit to govern and that Gadhafi was ready to capitulate — into a reality. An elaborate disinformation campaign is the method for achieving these aims.

Elements of this intelligence operation could be seen in the early days of the war. Profiles of emerging rebel leaders appeared in the Western press, portraying them as liberal and benign and thus, fit to govern. The news coverage posited that these rebels were immune from ICC prosecution, despite their previous careers as leading members of the Gadhafi regime. What was more difficult to hide was the ragtag nature of the rebel forces. For that, leading NATO participants in the war decided to insert special operations forces to arm and train the rebels. These special operation forces propelled the Tripoli-bound offensive forward by eliminating key targets of Gadhafi resistance (while allowing the rebels to take credit). Key to this operation was NATO’s ability to create the perception throughout Libya, and especially within Tripoli, that Gadhafi was backed into a corner and the war was effectively over. The thought of Seif al-Islam being captured and held by rebel forces just hours into the battle for Tripoli theoretically had the power to drive people into the streets and, most importantly, compel Gadhafi’s remaining forces to abandon the fight. What better way to reinforce this thought than by feeding information through the system and having the ICC make a rare, yet potent statement, confirming Seif al-Islam’s capture?

That was the plan, at least, until Seif al-Islam showed up, discrediting not only the rebel camp (which was already taking a major credibility hit) but also the ICC. The oft-repeated demand by the West for Gadhafi and his allies to be sent to The Hague is exactly what compels them to resist capitulation — Gadhafi and his friends have everything to lose if they surrender. The events of the past 24 hours have shown that the war is clearly not over. Gadhafi’s forces are showing no signs of yielding just yet. The Seif al-Islam blunder in the intelligence war is bound to create friction within the NATO alliance, as the momentum of the Tripoli campaign wears thin over time.

At this point, Gadhafi likely understands that his forces are no match for NATO. He can choose to decline combat, rely on his existing strongholds in the central regions of Sirte and Sabha for support and wait for the war to drag on. Gadhafi’s definition for victory is simple — to survive. As long as he can hold out (and as long as NATO continues to face major challenges in obtaining intelligence on his movements), he has a chance of wearing down NATO and driving the conflict toward negotiation. This tactic may be a tall order for Gadhafi, but his staying power cannot be discounted simply by a series of rebel claims of success. The longer he can prolong the war, the more Gadhafi can erode NATO’s patience, creating the space and time needed to allow the fissures of the rebel camp to come to the fore.

24164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Green Beret Foundation on: August 24, 2011, 09:04:05 PM
The person who brought this to my attention is unknown to me, but this seems most worthy:

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/Lotz/nyc911?utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=share&utm_source=at-facebook&utm_content=eua#.Tknbjxbsdg4.facebook
NYC 9/11
www.firstgiving.com
24165  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DBMA Parables on: August 24, 2011, 08:59:31 PM
Woof All:

Recently in other threads I have posted of the Parable of the Cherry and the Parable of the Promising Porn Star.  Now I will share the Parable of the Little Old Lady and the Hilot Healer (retold from the opening of the DBMA DVD "Copmbining Stick & Footwork")

A little old lady in the Philippines went to the hilot healer. 

"How may I help you?"

"You may not realize it because it doesn't smell or make any noise, but I am having a problem with a lot of flatulence."

"I see.  Take this herbs for one week and come back."

So she does.

"How are we doing?"

"Its worse now! Not only do I still have a lot of flatulence, but now it smells too!  At least there is no sound!"

"Well, now that we have cleared up your sinuses, we can go to work on your hearing."
24166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / STratfor: on: August 24, 2011, 08:36:40 PM


Dispatch: Romania's Role in Europe's Geopolitical Trends
August 24, 2011 | 1856 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



On his way to Romania, analyst Eugene Chausovsky explains Romania’s important role in three different Central European geopolitical trends.


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

Related Links
Russia’s Case to NATO for Integrated Missile Defense
The Divided States of Europe
Germany’s Choice: Part 2
STRATFOR is currently following three major geopolitical trends in Central Europe. One country that serves as an insightful case to look into these trends is Romania, where I am traveling to next.

The first trend that we are following is growing pressures on two key European institutions: the EU and NATO. The EU continues to be mired by weak economic growth as a result of the ongoing European financial crisis. Two of the leading EU economies, Germany and France, posted little to no growth in the second quarter of this year. Romania, which relies on these countries, particularly Germany, as a market for its exports, grew only 0.2 percent in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, NATO has been showing early signs of devolution into regional blocs. The biggest divergence between NATO members is a camp that is willing and happy to work with the Russians and a second camp that is more concerned with a growing Russian resurgence. Romania is firmly in the latter camp as it has contentious issues with Russia over Moldova, and it is concerned over a Russian buildup in the Black Sea.

The second trend that we are following is Russia taking advantage of these growing pressures on the EU and NATO. Russia has been building its relationship with major Western European countries like Italy, France and especially Germany. Moscow is using these growing relationships to leverage its position in Central Europe. For example, Russia and Germany are currently in talks for Russia to acquire energy utility companies, many of which have assets in Central Europe. Russia has also begun to purchase stakes in some of Austria’s banks, which are quite active in Central Europe. These developments are of concern to Romania.

The third trend is an intensifying geopolitical competition over Central Europe between the U.S. and Russia. Due to the growing relationship of Russia and some of the key Western European countries, the United States has pledged to increase its cooperation with many of the Central European states. One key aspect of this is the U.S. ballistic missile defense, or BMD, which is said to become operational by 2015, and Romania is one of the sites of such a system. However, given that the U.S. has already changed some of its BMD plans and security plans in the face of a resurgent Russia, Romani and the other central European countries are nervous that these U.S. security commitments to them are not set in stone. (Translation:  Baraq's chickenexcrement deal with the Russkis trading the BMD for , , , a "reset", continues to have costs unmeasured by the Pravdas of wester MSM) Therefore, Romania is directly impacted by all three developing trends in central Europe and will serve as an important bellwether of how these trends play out in the coming months and years.

24167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: August 24, 2011, 05:00:48 PM
Amen!!!
24168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party, Glen Beck and related matters on: August 24, 2011, 01:06:59 PM
Thank you for posting that from POTB/Pravda on the Beach/Left Angeles Times/LA Times-- I meant to post it yesterday but the day got away from me.
24169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: August 24, 2011, 11:50:43 AM
The Foundation
"Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants." --Alexander Hamilton

Editorial Exegesis

Obama implements DREAM Act by executive fiat"Following a pattern of making law by regulation and executive order, the Obama administration [last week] announced it will impose a version of the Dream (development, relief and education for alien minors) Act on America through administrative fiat. This is blatant political pandering in an election cycle at the expense of American citizens. On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress she has authority to halt deportation of illegal aliens not perceived to be a criminal threat as long as they meet certain criteria, such as attending school or having family in the military. The new rules would cover up to 300,000 illegal aliens. In 2010, the government deported 200,000 with no criminal records. Under the new rules, most would now likely be allowed to stay and apply for permits. Opposed by a majority of Americans and twice defeated in Congress, the federal Dream Act essentially grants amnesty to any illegal alien in America if they agree to enlist in the military or attend a U.S. college. It's called a 'path to citizenship,' a path that leads right past the U.S. Border Patrol. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, a sponsor of the federal Dream Act, praised the DHS announcement. 'These students are the future doctors, lawyers, teachers and maybe senators who will make America stronger,' he said in a statement. So are the children of America's jobless. ... 'If you look at immigrants from Mexico, they register 3-to-1 Democrat, so the Democratic Party is for easy citizenship and allowing them to vote,' says Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. This is about making the Democratic Party, not America, strong." --Investor's Business Daily


Essential Liberty
"Our Founders warned us that all republics have eventually fallen into tyranny -- the only difference being the relative timeline of each republic's descent. ... From the summer of 1787 when our Framers deliberated over their magnificent Constitution, we have recognized that the clear statement and equal application of the Law is among the most critical duties of any government. If we allow ourselves to lose this, we may as well be back in ancient Rome, subject to the whim of every petty tyrant in the taxing bureau or the zoning board. For it doesn't matter whether the regulator's foot is shod in a jack boot or a Roman sandal; if he can hold you down with that boot upon your neck, then we are no longer in the America that our Founding Fathers intended for us." --columnist John F. Di Leo

Upright
"President Obama is chilling out at the beach while the country's economic engine is headed for a deep freeze. ... The fact is this guy is simply detached from normal Americans. Even when he wants to give the appearance of being with the common man in the hard-hit Midwest, the bus he took was a $1.1 million ultra-luxury model custom-built at taxpayer expense. Now he's jetting off to take advantage of the kind of glamorous lifestyle otherwise only open to A-list celebrities and billionaires. Mr. Obama is holding off giving a big jobs speech until after his return. If he were serious about his own job, he'd return to the White House and give his TV address instead of sipping Prosecco in the sand with his pampered buddies." --columnist Emily Miller

"Let us take these whiny excuses at face value and accept for the sake of argument that Obama's Recovery Summer would now be going gangbusters had not the Libyan rebels seized Benghazi and sent the economy into a tailspin. Did no one in the smartest administration in history think this might be the time for the president to share in some of the 'bad luck' and forgo an ostentatious vacation in the exclusive playground of the rich? When you're the presiding genius of the Brokest Nation in History, enjoying the lifestyle of the super-rich while allegedly in 'public service' sends a strikingly Latin American message." --columnist Mark Steyn

"I seem to recall a presidential candidate who told his followers back in 2008 'we are five days away from completely transforming the United States of America.' That, we were told, was the essence of 'hope and change.' More than a few Americans have figured out it was nothing more than nihilism with some media PR attached to it. ... But I am sure of one thing: you can't run a country when you're attached to the idea that it is fundamentally flawed. That is the essence of nihilism. That nihilism is virtually indistinguishable from progressivism. --columnist Arnold Ahlert

"A man who misleads must choose his words carefully lest his real agenda be exposed. Obama's public persona has to disguise his true feelings. Thus, his private persona is in constant conflict with the words he utters. That is why he hesitates. He is watching every word lest he slip and expose yet another dictatorial predilection. That is not stupidity; instead it indicates his conflicted emotions running headlong into themselves. He hopes to continue to fool the people. He lies and prevaricates and it is only when he is angry that you see the real Obama emerge. Then when he realizes that he may have gone too far, he removes himself from the fray. He blames others hoping that no one will actually catch on." --columnist Eileen F. Toplansky


Insight
"A society that puts equality ... ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom." --economist Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

"Private capitalism makes a steam engine; State capitalism makes pyramids." --American author Frank Chodorov (1887-1966)

The Demo-gogues
We couldn't have said it better: "What was remarkable was to see outside of Washington the enthusiasm, the energy, the hopefulness, the decency of the American people. And what I said to them is you deserve better. You deserve better than you've been getting out of Washington over the last two-and-a-half months -- for that matter, for the last two-and-a-half years." --Barack Obama at a New York fundraiser

Belly Laugh of the Week: "I make no apologies for being reasonable." --Barack Obama in Iowa

Nice sentiment: "I'm not afraid of anybody. This is a tough game. You can't be intimidated. You can't be frightened. And as far as I'm concerned, the Tea Party can go straight to hell." --Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

"Let us all remember who the real enemy is. The real enemy is the Tea Party. ... The Tea Party holds the Congress hostage." --Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)

"We appreciate and welcome your concluding that the United States is such a safe haven because we appreciate your investment in U.S. treasuries. And very sincerely, I want to make clear that you have nothing to worry about in terms of their -- their viability." --Joe Biden to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao

Utilitarian reasoning: "Your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I'm not second-guessing -- of one child per family. The result [is] that you're in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable." --Joe Biden, whose only argument against forced abortion is that there won't be enough taxpayers


 

Dezinformatsia
The BIG Lie: "Nothing is unconstitutional until courts declare it to be so." --an Associated Press "fact check" on Michele Bachmann's charge that ObamaCare's individual mandate is unconstitutional

Wrong diagnosis: "The grandees of the [Republican] party are once again trying to find some new candidates to get into the race. Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, anybody. And that tells me that the party, in basic terms of philosophy, doesn't believe in science, doesn't believe in government, at any level. Or is just a bunch of patriotic anarchists that in terms of orientation is in disarray." --Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson

Dumb and dumber: "If the president thinks more should be done, if he thinks there should be more stimulus, why doesn't he just go for broke? Why doesn't he go out there and ask for it, make a case for it?" --NBC's Samantha Guthrie (Um, he HAS gone for broke.)

Sometimes they get it right: "Cruising white Midwestern hamlets in his black bus, Obama tried to justify not calling lawmakers back to D.C. by saying they'd just continue to bicker. But what does he think they'll do in September? The truth is, he doesn't want them back in the capital any more than they want to be back. It would have screwed up his vacation and upset Michelle, who already feels trapped in the Washington bubble." --New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd

Reading am hard: "Tonight is the measure of whether the country begins, in the state of Wisconsin, a national drive to push back or whether we have more to go to build a movement of resistance. But resist we much. We must and we will much ... about ... that ... be committed." --MSNBC's newest host Al Sharpton having difficulty reading the teleprompter about Wisconsin's recall elections

Newspulper Headlines:
Breaking News From 2008: "Narcissists Rise to the Top Because People Mistake Their Confidence and Authority for Leadership Qualities" --Daily Mail (London)

Out on a Limb: "Obama Bus Tour Has Campaign Overtones" --USA Today website

Amazing Advances in Nanotechnology: "Keith Olbermann's Current TV Ratings Drop to New Low" --TheWrap.com

Because Sinatra Didn't Have a French Accent: "Why Frogs Don't Sing Like Sinatra" --The Wall Street Journal

Bottom Story of the Day: "President Obama: I Will Introduce Specific Plan in September to Boost Economy -- and If Congress Doesn't Act, We'll Run Against Them" --ABCNews.com

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

Village Idiots
Incomprehensible metaphors: "Black voters gave the first votes and the most votes [to Obama] and now have the most pain. The highest infant mortality rate, the shortest life expectancy, least access to jobs and capital, so obviously it must be targeted for more than just for votes. If I can use the analogy of the great Titanic: There are those in the Tea Party that want to destroy the captain and preserve those on the deck and preserve those in the cabins but the water is gushing up the bottom and more and more people are falling in the sink." --professional race hustler Jesse Jackson, who must be reading off Al Sharpton's teleprompter

Non Compos Mentis: "Why did Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim psychiatrist at Ft. Hood, go on a shooting spree after being assigned to debrief soldiers who came back from the theatre of war and they're telling him of the things that they did that were against their conscience now, and a Muslim psychiatrist is hearing them talking about the rape of Muslim women, the killing and sodomizing of families. He couldn't take it anymore so he just shot up the soldiers. They want you to think that he's a terrorist but he was debriefing terrorists and unfortunately it took his balance." --Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, who must have been reading John Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony accusing his fellow soldiers of war crimes

"[Obama's foreign policy has] been really good as commander in chief and that's not what the election is going to be fought on. It's going to be fought on the economy. But, he's getting our troops out of Iraq. They'll be almost all gone by the end of this year, if not all of them. The Afghan war is being drawn down. Osama bin Laden is dead and Moammar Gadhafi is on his way out. Nobody's had a foreign policy record like that since -- I don't know how far back you'd have to go. Not Ronald Reagan, not George W. Bush. Nobody. I don't know, you'd have to go back to Harry Truman before -- or Franklin Roosevelt before you get a record like that." --former DNC chair Howard Dean

24170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on VAT on: August 24, 2011, 10:40:24 AM
By ERNEST S. CHRISTIAN
AND GARY A. ROBBINS
President Obama is now talking about a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction that includes a "revenue component" achieved by "tax reform."

Among the tax reforms getting attention is a value-added tax, or VAT. Similar to a sales tax (more about this below), the value-added tax has become a significant part of the revenue systems of Europe and also has been adopted by over 100 other nations. The VAT is believed to be a magical device that can stuff government coffers with money without untoward economic political consequences. It is no such thing.

In the first place, increasing taxes will reduce economic growth. This is irrational and self-defeating policy. If the point of the current debt-ceiling exercise is to make the American people better off, the smart thing is to restore long-term fiscal integrity and economic growth with a balanced combination of spending reductions and tax cuts.

On the other hand, a VAT is the ideal choice for those whose goal is to refinance government sufficiently to allow it not only to continue "business as usual" but also to expand on a grand scale.

We estimate that each percentage point of a U.S. VAT would provide Washington over 10 years with approximately $981 billion with which to launch new spending. So even a small VAT might help reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio. But by making reforms to entitlement spending less likely, VAT revenues would also lead to a permanent increase in spending to 24% or more of GDP (compared to the historic average of 20%).

View Full Image

Martin Kozlowski
 .Total federal taxes would almost certainly increase to at least 24% of GDP (a 25% rise compared to the historic average). As a result of the drag of taxes on growth, we estimate that long-run output would permanently be nearly 3% lower than currently forecast. And, as has occurred in Europe, the VAT rate and revenues would over time inexorably increase—and so would the damage to private-sector jobs and incomes.

We estimate that each additional $1 trillion of revenue to the government from a VAT would cost the private economy at least $2 trillion, composed of $1 trillion of taxes and $1 trillion of lost GDP. This loss of GDP is less than what other economists (such as Martin Feldstein and Gregory Mankiw) have estimated would be the case for the income tax. A VAT thus appears less damaging at the outset, and some academics suggest that a small VAT be used to "buy" a reduction in the top income tax rate. But it is naïve to believe that the VAT rate would remain low, or that the income tax rate would not shoot back up.

In Europe, the VAT rate started out in the single digits in France in the 1950s. But because the VAT funds Europe's ever-expanding welfare state, the rates now range from a minimum of 15% to a high of 25%, and they are heading upward.

In Europe, the VAT on top of the income tax is a crushing burden. In France, where the VAT rate is 19.6%, total tax as a percentage of GDP is 46%, versus 30% in the United States. Britain now has a 20% VAT in addition to a 50% top rate on its personal income tax, a 26% corporate tax and a host of other taxes. Even if a U.S. VAT remained in the midrange of rates compared to Europe, it could easily push the total tax burden up to 40% of GDP.

In addition to its voracious appetite, the value-added tax is a master of disguise. Because it is levied on the sale of a product at each stage of production—whenever value is added—and at the final sale, the VAT is portrayed as a tax on consumption. The French once illustrated the VAT with an example: The farmer passes the tax to the miller, the miller passes it to the baker and the baker includes it in the price of bread. Ever since, the VAT has for political purposes been viewed as a burden on the consumer, thereby providing politicians with an excuse for "compensating" large numbers of favored voters with disproportionately large cash subsidies or exemptions.

Offsetting consumer subsidies would occur in spades in America, where the tax system has traditionally been preoccupied with "progressivity" and used to redistribute income.

The VAT isn't really a consumption tax, however. The truth is that the base of the VAT is the output of labor and capital—and, therefore, the economic burden of the VAT is, like that of the income tax, borne mostly by those who work, invest and produce the most output.

It is disturbing to consider a value-added tax sneaking into our current tax code disguised as tax reform. The outcome will be more spending, a higher combined income tax and VAT tax burden concentrated on a minority of voters, and a spate of special redistributional subsidies and exemptions that would mean higher rates. These higher rates would increase the economic output losses and continue the ongoing transfer of income and capital from the private sector to the government.

If Republicans get sucker-punched by a VAT, America will forever lose the opportunity to reduce spending, cut taxes, grow the private economy, and restore the country's long-term fiscal integrity.

Mr. Christian is co-author of "The Value Added Tax: Orthodoxy and New Thinking" (Kluwer, 1989) and director of the Center for Strategic Tax Ref
24171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Waiving the Jones Act on: August 24, 2011, 10:28:39 AM
Given the following, it is worth noting that Baraq refused to waive the Jones Act for foreign oil skimmers during the BP oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
========================


WASHINGTON — In its hurry to transport millions of barrels of oil from federal stockpiles to stabilize world oil prices earlier this summer, the Obama administration has repeatedly bypassed federal law by allowing nearly all the oil to move on foreign-owned vessels, drawing protests from domestic maritime operators.

The domestic ship owners say that 46 times the administration has waived the Jones Act, a 90-year-old law requiring purely domestic cargo to move on United States-flagged ships except under extraordinary circumstances. Only once this summer has oil from the reserve moved on American barges.

Even as unemployment hovered over 9 percent, the administration approved dozens of applications to transport nearly 30 million barrels of domestic crude oil within the borders of the United States on tankers employing foreign crews and flying the flags of the Marshall Islands, Panama and other countries.

The move, which saved time and money for the oil companies that bought the oil, took potential work from more than 30 American cargo vessels and as many as 400 sailors, American ship owners said in recent days.

“This has literally flabbergasted the American maritime industry,” said Christopher Coakley, vice president for legislative affairs at the American Waterways Operators, an association of domestic ship and barge operators. “The idea was to create American jobs and help the economy. But all the profit from the sale of the oil has gone to traders and oil companies and all the profit from movement of the oil has gone to foreign shippers and crewmen, and that’s galling.”

In late June, the Obama administration, acting in concert with the 27 nations of the International Energy Agency, released the oil from the Department of Energy’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to make up some of the shortfall caused by the conflict in Libya. The administration said it wanted to get the oil to market quickly to lower prices and ensure supplies for the summer travel season. To meet that goal, it set very short deadlines for transporting the crude.

To waive the Jones Act, the president must find that there is a national security emergency and that domestic carriers are not available in a timely manner. The cutoff of oil from Libya and a lack of large-capacity American tankers provided the legal rationale for circumventing the law.

Representative Peter T. King, the New York Republican who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that it appeared that the administration had met the formal requirements for waiving the Jones Act, but he questioned the political and economic wisdom of doing so.

“The spirit of the law is when possible, use a U.S. vessel, especially in tough economic times,” Mr. King said. “I think it has to hurt the American economy, hurt the maritime industry and affect American jobs.”

The government originally issued a blanket waiver, allowing the oil buyers to use foreign ships without prior approval, as it had when it released oil from the strategic reserve after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When the industry protested the proposed blanket waiver in June, the administration said it would review each application. To date, there have been 47 shipments of oil from the caverns in Texas and Louisiana where the petroleum reserves are stored, according to maritime industry officials. One 150,000-barrel shipment moved on a domestic barge.

Most of the shipments were to East Coast refineries from loading points in the Gulf of Mexico.

Administration officials said that the oil was sold in large lots, most of them 500,000 barrels or more, and the dozen or so oil companies and traders that bought them found it faster and more economical to move the oil on 500,000-barrel capacity ocean-going tankers rather than on American-owned coastal barges. With only a couple of exceptions, the coastal barges tend to hold 150,000 barrels or less.

Clark Stevens, a White House spokesman, said that the administration tried to accommodate the domestic maritime industry by lowering the minimum lot size and by considering individual waivers. The administration would have preferred to use American ships but they were not available, he said.

In an e-mailed statement, he said: “Due to the volumes requested by the purchasing companies and the focus on getting this oil to U.S. markets as quickly as possible, the Department of Homeland Security — working with the Maritime Administration and the Department of Energy — determined that individual Jones Act waivers were appropriate since the U.S. fleet had only small barges available, and the buyers bid on the basis of larger, more efficient tankers.”

OSG, a shipping company based in New York, transported oil for three of the oil companies that bought crude from the petroleum reserve. It moved one shipment on an American-flagged barge and three on large tankers that are registered in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Morten Arntzen, the company’s chief executive, said that the United States was not an oil-exporting country and therefore did not have the capacity to move large shipments of oil on short notice. He said that a relatively large sale from the petroleum reserve was a rare event and that it did not make sense for domestic oil shippers to maintain fleets of tankers.

“The United States hasn’t been exporting oil for decades, so this isn’t a cargo movement anybody positions their fleets for,” he said.

Government officials said that since 1995, 39 American-flagged large-capacity tankers had been taken out of commission, leaving only nine such ships, which generally are used on runs to the West Coast from Alaska. None were available on the short timeline dictated by the government, officials said.

The maritime operators said there was sufficient domestic shipping capacity available, although it would have required breaking the oil shipments into smaller lots, increasing the cost and prolonging delivery times.

Mr. Coakley of the Waterways Operators said that domestic jobs should have been more important than the speed of delivery.

“The urgency of that timeline is ridiculous when you consider that today, two months after the sale of the oil, almost 10 million barrels of the 30 million barrels released hasn’t yet been transported,” he said.

Mr. King said, “I don’t see this as a partisan issue. But I would think a Democratic administration would be making some effort to help American workers.”

24172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Wilson, 1791 on: August 24, 2011, 10:21:42 AM


"In observations on this subject, we hear the legislature mentioned as the people's representatives. The distinction, intimated by concealed implication, through probably, not avowed upon reflection, is, that the executive and judicial powers are not connected with the people by a relation so strong or near or dear. But is high time that we should chastise our prejudices; and that we should look upon the different parts of government with a just and impartial eye." --James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1791
24173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Time to snatch al-Megrahi on: August 24, 2011, 10:18:05 AM
Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton explains why the current chaos in Libya is a perfect opportunity to apprehend al-Megrahi, one of the bombers of flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.


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

Related Special Topics Page
The Libyan War: Full Coverage
While the world is focusing on the chaos in Libya surrounding the Gadhafi regime, counterterrorism agents could take advantage of this window of opportunity to capture the Pan Am 103 bomber al-Megrahi.

On Dec. 21, 1988, Pan Am flight 103 outbound from Heathrow Airport in London blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland. The bombing was carried out by intelligence agents working for the Gadhafi regime. One of the perpetrators in the attack spent many years in jail and in 2009 he was released due to humanitarian purposes. The suspect was suffering from terminal cancer and flown back to Libya where he was given a hero’s welcome. Due to all the chaos in Tripoli at the moment, this affords U.S. intelligence the opportunity to attempt to locate the suspect for a rendition.

Tactically, you would need very granular data as to a specific location for his whereabouts and usually you’re going to glean that through human assets or perhaps defectors within the Libyan intelligence and security services that would walk in or you could recruit to lead you to his specific location. The logistics challenge would be getting a team in to ferry the individual out once you captured him. You could also utilize Libyan rebels to assist you in identifying and capturing him and bringing him to a location where you could ferry him out of the country.

Operationally, what you would need from a counterterrorism perspective is proof of life, and we have that in a videotape from July 26 where the suspect was seen at an event with Gadhafi. The challenge would be whether or not our granular intelligence is good enough to locate him at this moment in time and that’s always an issue when you’re looking at terrorism renditions. The Above The Tearline aspect with his video is: the Pan Am 103 case was personal. I worked on that case, I know many others have lost friends and colleagues and fellow agents on that flight. There is a vested interest to bring the perpetrators to justice. The symbolism of reaching out inside of Libya and grabbing this individual and bringing him back to stand trial in a U.S. court for the bombing of Pan Am 103 would resonate around the world.

24174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: First Regime Change of Arab Spring on: August 24, 2011, 09:29:47 AM


Libya: The First Regime Change of the Arab Spring

Conflicting reports emerged from Libya Monday regarding the position of the rebel forces that had entered Tripoli on Sunday. A key development occurred when Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, held a press conference with several foreign journalists at the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, essentially disproving widespread reports that rebel forces had captured him. A great deal of fog of war appears to be in play, but the fact that rebel forces are in the capital means that the situation for the Gadhafi regime does not look good.

“The fall of the Gadhafi regime, however, will likely leave the process of regime change incomplete. The regime will collapse, but that does not mean it will be replaced by a new state any time soon.”
At the moment, the issue is not if but when the Gadhafi regime will fall from power. When it does happen, Libya will become the first case of regime change since the start of the popular unrest that broke out in the Arab world this past January and February. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the ousting of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak did not result in regime change.

The regimes in Tunisia and Egypt were led by the military, which survived by distancing itself from the ruling parties and heads of state dominated by presidential friends and family. The civilian political elite in both cases did not govern for decades due to any intrinsic power; instead both Mubarak and Ben Ali governed at the pleasure of the army-led security establishment. Both men ceased to be in power once the military withdrew its support.

In sharp contrast, Libya’s regime has been led by the Gadhafi family. Despite the fact that Gadhafi took power via a military coup, he did not allow a robust and autonomous military institution that could pose a threat to his authority to develop. This practice, however, seems to have resulted in sizeable defections from the Libyan army, sparking a civil war that now appears close to consuming the regime.

The fall of the Gadhafi regime, however, will likely leave the process of regime change incomplete. The regime will collapse, but that does not mean it will be replaced by a new state any time soon. Once Gadhafi’s forces are fully defeated, the rebels — being as fragmented as they are — will likely not be able to establish a new republic. A fractious rebel community obviously complicates any efforts at arriving at a power-sharing agreement.

In all likelihood though, not only will the rebels face serious obstacles in establishing a new state, the Gadhafi state will be reduced to a non-state actor, one that will likely retain a lot of firepower. This arrangement will aggravate the various rebel factions, which will already be struggling with one another for power. Therefore, it is only reasonable to consider the possibility that a new state will not be established in the foreseeable future, and that Libya should brace itself for long-term instability.

The crisis in Libya will likely play itself out over a long period of time The country’s geopolitical reality is one where the crisis within the country can continue to evolve without seriously impacting the region or beyond. Given that Libya’s small population is spread across a large country located in the center of the North African desert, its conflict is more or less a self-contained crisis. This isolation is especially true when compared to other Arab countries in similar situations such as Syria, Yemen and Bahrain where the geopolitical stakes are much higher.

24175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Gold down on: August 23, 2011, 11:27:58 PM
Silver dropped sharply today too

NEW YORK—Gold waded deeper into negative territory as investors continued cashing out after recent record gains.

The most actively traded contract, for December delivery, was recently down $43, or 2.3%, at $1,818.30 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Thinly traded August-delivery gold fell $43.60, or 2.4%, to $1,814.70 a troy ounce.

Investors streamed out of the gold market as gold's $100 decline from Tuesday's intraday record spurred investors to lock in the gains earned on gold's fast-paced rally.

"Gold has run up $400 since the middle of July and for a long time it didn't even trade above that level," said Sterling Smith, an analyst at Country Hedging.

Gold prices rallied to a record peak of $1,917.90 this month, an 18% gain that some investors scored in just four weeks.

 
Bloomberg News
 .The rapid rally has been a cause of concern for market watchers in recent days, with some analysts saying a pullback was overdue as gold's parabolic rise appeared overdone.

Investors are also eagerly awaiting a speech Friday by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is due to address an economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Gold traders will be looking for hints of further monetary stimulus as last year Mr. Bernanke used the event to float the idea of a second round of quantitative easing, or QE2, which was formally launched a few months later.

Gold prices are likely to fare well in the absence of such hints, as many market participants fear the economy will slip into recession without help from the Fed.

However, further monetary stimulus would be "the more positive scenario" for gold prices, as additional liquidity tends to weaken the dollar and raise inflation expectations, said analysts at BNP Paribas. A weaker dollar makes dollar-denominated gold seem cheaper to buyers using foreign currencies, while domestic buyers who worry about inflation would want to stock up on what is widely considered an inflation hedge and a store of value.

BNP Paribas also raised its gold price forecast to average $1,635 a troy ounce this year, from a previous forecast of $1,510. The bank expects gold prices to average $2,080 a troy ounce in 2012, up from a previous forecast of $1,600. The analysts also introduced their 2013 gold price outlook, saying prices will average $2,200 a troy ounce.

24176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Michael Yon comments from Afpakia on: August 23, 2011, 03:25:41 PM


Pentagon Evacuated?

Got an email from a friend that the Pentagon evacuated, and I see reports saying the same. Get back to work you Pentagon shammers! If the military panics, everybody panics. The Pentagon took a direct hit from an airliner and is still there. The Japanese will be laughing at the Pentagon. Get back to work you bunch of Pentagon ninnies. We have wars to run!
24177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: August 23, 2011, 03:20:14 PM
CCP:

IMHO Doug is exactly right-- like 1 and 2, only much more so, QE3 is profoundly WRONG.
24178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on Perry and Islam on: August 23, 2011, 03:16:43 PM

http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2011/08/perrys-pandering.html
24179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: August 23, 2011, 11:56:57 AM
New single-family home sales fell 0.7% in July To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 8/23/2011


New single-family home sales fell 0.7% in July, coming in at a 298,000 annual rate versus a consensus expected pace of 310,000.

Sales were down in the South and West, but up in the Northeast and Midwest.
 
At the current sales pace, the months’ supply of new homes (how long it would take to sell the homes in inventory) was unchanged at 6.6 months. Inventories fell slightly, but so did the pace of sales. Inventories are at their lowest level on record, dating back to 1963.
 
The median price of new homes sold was $222,000 in July, up 4.7% from a year ago. The average price of new homes sold was $272,300, up 8.0% versus last year.
 
Implications:  New home sales declined slightly in July, remaining in the very low range they have been in since May 2010. This number is based on contracts signed in July, at the height of the debt ceiling debate and (unwarranted) fears of a government default. New home sales face a number of strong headwinds. Credit conditions remain tight (even as mortgage rates decline) and many existing homes are selling at steep discounts, including foreclosed properties and short sales. However, the inventory of new homes for sale fell to the lowest level on record yet again in July. This is exactly what must happen to speed up the eventual housing recovery. The median price of a new home is up 4.7% versus a year ago while average prices are up 8.0%. In other news this morning, the Richmond Fed index, a measure of manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic, fell to -10 in August from -5 in July.  Regional surveys of manufacturing activity have performed poorly so far in August, but this probably reflects the nature of survey data, which can sometimes reflect sentiment rather than actual levels of business activity.  Chain-store sales have decelerated modestly so far in August (when they usually slow anyhow) but are still running solidly above year-ago levels, 3.6% according to Redbook, 3% according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.
24180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 23, 2011, 11:46:31 AM


Gunfight at a Soccer Match in Torreon

A gunfight erupted in Torreon, Coahuila state, at around 8 p.m. on Aug. 20, after a three-vehicle convoy of gunmen reportedly crashed through a security checkpoint outside the  Territorio Santos Modelo soccer stadium. No one was killed or seriously injured during the shootout. Security forces closed the doors of the stadium — likely preventing the deaths of fans who might have panicked and run out into the gunfight — and established a security cordon around the facility.

Adelaido Flores Diaz, the director general of public security in Torreon, confirmed that the gunmen were targeting a Public Security Patrol, rather than the stadium or the fans therein. Stray bullets did enter the stadium. The gunmen evaded arrest by using caltrops (small, four-pointed spikes used to deflate vehicle tires) to slow pursuing authorities. Their truck was found abandoned and containing three high-caliber weapons and two grenades.



(click here to enlarge image)
The shootout in Torreon illustrates the role geography plays in Mexico’s drug trafficking operations — a role of which cartel leaders keenly understand the importance. Cartels must not only move contraband into and out of the country, but also across it. Situated in central Mexico at the intersection of a couple of major highways, Torreon is a critical hub for cartels moving product to northern Mexico and, eventually, into the United States. Control of Torreon helps facilitate the movement of product from Mexico’s Pacific coast across the country to smuggling corridors, such as Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez, on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Because cartels understand the importance and vulnerability of their own supply routes, such gateway cities have become hotly disputed territory. Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation have been fighting for control of Torreon for some time, and members of one or both of those groups were very likely among those involved in the shootout. We can expect to see continual violence in the city as the Zetas and Sinaloa continue to vie for unfettered control of transit routes. Unfortunately for Torreon, its geographic location predisposes it to such violence and increases the psychological impact of “terror,” which STRATFOR has previously addressed.

Indeed, aside from the geographic issue, there is also a notable psychological component to the incident in Torreon. Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Mexico, often used as a means to escape the realities of daily life. In a country where the populace does not often have much reason for optimism — corruption is rampant and violence, often grotesque and public, is commonplace — fans can always cheer for their home team and take pride in their city when victorious. While Torreon is unlikely to stop hosting soccer matches altogether, the psychological impact of the Aug. 20 gunfight is an affront to a cherished pastime. It signifies a permeation of violence into every aspect of Mexican life and robs Torreon’s citizens of a respite from news of prolific violence, making a return to normalcy seem all the more remote.

Moreover, the game was a high-profile event, airing not only in Mexico but also the United States, and a number of fans documented the episode on cameras and phones. (None of the fans actually recorded anything but the sounds of the gunfire. During the live telecast, the game’s announcers discussed what was happening, who was responsible and how to escape.) Such publicity serves as a reminder that while Mexico’s war on drugs directly affects comparatively few — those in cities such as Torreon — the violence it causes can be seen by anyone with an Internet connection.


Violence in Acapulco

On Aug. 17, two bus drivers and an assistant driver were killed in separate incidents in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The first incident took place on the Acapulco-Mexico highway at an area known as La Llave de Agua, where a bus driver and his assistant were found dead in their bus, near a number of shell casings. In the second incident, a female driver was found shot and killed in her bus on the Avenida Adolfo Ruiz Cortines.

The violence in Acapulco is a result of its strategic geographic location. The port is a natural coastal harbor and provides excellent shelter. It has become an important port, not only for legitimate economic enterprises, but also for the drug industry. Though far smaller than Lazaro Cardenas, it is still a critical hub for the import of precursor chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine, and of cocaine that arrives at port from Colombia. It also straddles the Pacific coastal highway, which traverses nearly the entire country. Acapulco is currently being fought over by several different criminal groups. One of these is the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA), which consists of a faction of the former Beltran Leyva Organization that was loyal to Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal and that joined with local Acapulco criminals to form CIDA. This group has long been locked in a bloody war with the Sinaloa cartel and the Cartel Pacifico Sur, which is headed by Hector Beltran Leyva.

As cartel infighting continues to escalate, so too does violence against transportation employees. This violence can occur for many reasons. The first is extortion. Like other businesses, many bus companies and taxi companies are forced to pay “taxes” to the criminal organizations that control the city in which they operate. Failure to pay these organizations frequently results in violence. Conversely, in a city where various groups are vying for control, one group can target a business that it believes is providing financial support to a rival organization. This leaves businesses facing a deadly situation: Failure to pay may result in death, while paying one cartel over others invites reprisal from rival cartels.

Finally, some transportation workers serve as “halcones” — a name given to those working to supply street-level information to various cartels. Certainly not all of those working in the transportation industry work for the cartels, but those who do are vital assets of their respective intelligence apparatuses. They have an inherent cover story and the ability to access different areas of a city (bus drivers even have scheduled, predictable routes). Cartels, therefore, have every incentive to target those halcones they believe to be on the take of their rivals.

As violence continues in the struggle to control Acapulco, it will impact bystanders as well as those supporting the various combatants.



(click here to view interactive map)

Aug. 15

A decapitated body was hung off a bridge in Huixquilucan, Mexico state, with a narcomanta from La Mano con Ojos. The message stated that the decapitated individual thought the La Mano con Ojos organization was disjointed and decided to work for himself. The message follows the arrest of Oscar Osvaldo “El Compayito” Garcia Montoya, the former leader of the group.
Police seized 2 tons of marijuana in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, after an armed individual was spotted discarding a package in the presence of police. No arrests were made.

Aug. 16

Federal police arrested the presumed successor to the leader of La Linea, Jose Antonio “El Diego” Acosta Hernandez. He was arrested in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. “El Coman 2,” who operates under the aliases Luis Antonio Flores Diaz and Jose Antonio Rincon, replaced Acosta after his arrest on July 29.
The Mexican army killed eight gunmen traveling in a three-vehicle convoy in Michoacan state’s Tacambaro region. As the army patrol approached, two of the vehicles sped away while the third engaged in a gunfight with the soldiers.
Gunmen shot and killed Francisco Torres Ibanez, the intermunicipal police commander of Veracruz-Boca Del Rio, while he was on patrol in Veracruz, Veracruz state.
A severed pig head was discovered in a cooler at a university in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, with a note stating that the pig head was for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The message was signed “El Coman 2.”

Aug. 17

During a reconnaissance operation, Mexican authorities seized a drug lab in Chilchota, Michoacan state, containing approximately 1 ton of chemical precursors.
Federal police seized approximately 116 kilograms (256 pounds) of marijuana from a vehicle in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.
Five coolers containing severed human remains were found throughout Acapulco, Guerrero state. The identities of the victims and the killers remain unknown.

Aug. 18

Multiple narcomantas were posted throughout Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, criticizing Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Some of the banners were critical of the lack of reporting of clandestine graves in Durango and accused Calderon of a cover-up.
Ten Los Zetas members were killed when the Mexican army approached a safe house in Agualeguas, Nuevo Leon state. At least 20 gunmen escaped during the fight.

Aug. 19

The Mexican army detained 10 members of the group Comando Del Diablo, in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The arrests were a result of an investigation conducted after members of the group left coolers with human remains in Acapulco on Aug. 17.

Aug. 20

The mayor of Zacualpan, Mexico state, was found dead in Teloloapan, Guerrero state. He was kidnapped Aug. 19 after he and his bodyguards were attacked by gunmen.
A gunfight erupted between police and gunmen in Torreon, Coahuila state. The gunfight occurred outside of a soccer stadium where a game was being played.
Nine dead bodies with multiple gunshot wounds were found along a highway near Mora, Nayarit state. The bodies were found with their hands bound.
After stopping traffic and firing gunshots, gunmen hung a narcomanta off a bridge in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, addressed to Calderon and state Gov. Rodrigo Medina. The narcomanta warned of an upcoming prison escape at the Apodaca prison in Nuevo Leon.

Aug. 21

Three human heads were discovered in a plastic bag along a busy street in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The authorities have not dismissed the possibility that the heads belong to headless corpses found in Acapulco on Aug. 19.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Violence Shows Strategic Value of Torreon, Acapulco | STRATFOR
24181  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: August 23, 2011, 11:43:45 AM


Gunfight at a Soccer Match in Torreon

A gunfight erupted in Torreon, Coahuila state, at around 8 p.m. on Aug. 20, after a three-vehicle convoy of gunmen reportedly crashed through a security checkpoint outside the  Territorio Santos Modelo soccer stadium. No one was killed or seriously injured during the shootout. Security forces closed the doors of the stadium — likely preventing the deaths of fans who might have panicked and run out into the gunfight — and established a security cordon around the facility.

Adelaido Flores Diaz, the director general of public security in Torreon, confirmed that the gunmen were targeting a Public Security Patrol, rather than the stadium or the fans therein. Stray bullets did enter the stadium. The gunmen evaded arrest by using caltrops (small, four-pointed spikes used to deflate vehicle tires) to slow pursuing authorities. Their truck was found abandoned and containing three high-caliber weapons and two grenades.



(click here to enlarge image)
The shootout in Torreon illustrates the role geography plays in Mexico’s drug trafficking operations — a role of which cartel leaders keenly understand the importance. Cartels must not only move contraband into and out of the country, but also across it. Situated in central Mexico at the intersection of a couple of major highways, Torreon is a critical hub for cartels moving product to northern Mexico and, eventually, into the United States. Control of Torreon helps facilitate the movement of product from Mexico’s Pacific coast across the country to smuggling corridors, such as Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez, on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Because cartels understand the importance and vulnerability of their own supply routes, such gateway cities have become hotly disputed territory. Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation have been fighting for control of Torreon for some time, and members of one or both of those groups were very likely among those involved in the shootout. We can expect to see continual violence in the city as the Zetas and Sinaloa continue to vie for unfettered control of transit routes. Unfortunately for Torreon, its geographic location predisposes it to such violence and increases the psychological impact of “terror,” which STRATFOR has previously addressed.

Indeed, aside from the geographic issue, there is also a notable psychological component to the incident in Torreon. Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Mexico, often used as a means to escape the realities of daily life. In a country where the populace does not often have much reason for optimism — corruption is rampant and violence, often grotesque and public, is commonplace — fans can always cheer for their home team and take pride in their city when victorious. While Torreon is unlikely to stop hosting soccer matches altogether, the psychological impact of the Aug. 20 gunfight is an affront to a cherished pastime. It signifies a permeation of violence into every aspect of Mexican life and robs Torreon’s citizens of a respite from news of prolific violence, making a return to normalcy seem all the more remote.

Moreover, the game was a high-profile event, airing not only in Mexico but also the United States, and a number of fans documented the episode on cameras and phones. (None of the fans actually recorded anything but the sounds of the gunfire. During the live telecast, the game’s announcers discussed what was happening, who was responsible and how to escape.) Such publicity serves as a reminder that while Mexico’s war on drugs directly affects comparatively few — those in cities such as Torreon — the violence it causes can be seen by anyone with an Internet connection.


Violence in Acapulco

On Aug. 17, two bus drivers and an assistant driver were killed in separate incidents in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The first incident took place on the Acapulco-Mexico highway at an area known as La Llave de Agua, where a bus driver and his assistant were found dead in their bus, near a number of shell casings. In the second incident, a female driver was found shot and killed in her bus on the Avenida Adolfo Ruiz Cortines.

The violence in Acapulco is a result of its strategic geographic location. The port is a natural coastal harbor and provides excellent shelter. It has become an important port, not only for legitimate economic enterprises, but also for the drug industry. Though far smaller than Lazaro Cardenas, it is still a critical hub for the import of precursor chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine, and of cocaine that arrives at port from Colombia. It also straddles the Pacific coastal highway, which traverses nearly the entire country. Acapulco is currently being fought over by several different criminal groups. One of these is the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA), which consists of a faction of the former Beltran Leyva Organization that was loyal to Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal and that joined with local Acapulco criminals to form CIDA. This group has long been locked in a bloody war with the Sinaloa cartel and the Cartel Pacifico Sur, which is headed by Hector Beltran Leyva.

As cartel infighting continues to escalate, so too does violence against transportation employees. This violence can occur for many reasons. The first is extortion. Like other businesses, many bus companies and taxi companies are forced to pay “taxes” to the criminal organizations that control the city in which they operate. Failure to pay these organizations frequently results in violence. Conversely, in a city where various groups are vying for control, one group can target a business that it believes is providing financial support to a rival organization. This leaves businesses facing a deadly situation: Failure to pay may result in death, while paying one cartel over others invites reprisal from rival cartels.

Finally, some transportation workers serve as “halcones” — a name given to those working to supply street-level information to various cartels. Certainly not all of those working in the transportation industry work for the cartels, but those who do are vital assets of their respective intelligence apparatuses. They have an inherent cover story and the ability to access different areas of a city (bus drivers even have scheduled, predictable routes). Cartels, therefore, have every incentive to target those halcones they believe to be on the take of their rivals.

As violence continues in the struggle to control Acapulco, it will impact bystanders as well as those supporting the various combatants.



(click here to view interactive map)

Aug. 15

A decapitated body was hung off a bridge in Huixquilucan, Mexico state, with a narcomanta from La Mano con Ojos. The message stated that the decapitated individual thought the La Mano con Ojos organization was disjointed and decided to work for himself. The message follows the arrest of Oscar Osvaldo “El Compayito” Garcia Montoya, the former leader of the group.
Police seized 2 tons of marijuana in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, after an armed individual was spotted discarding a package in the presence of police. No arrests were made.

Aug. 16

Federal police arrested the presumed successor to the leader of La Linea, Jose Antonio “El Diego” Acosta Hernandez. He was arrested in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. “El Coman 2,” who operates under the aliases Luis Antonio Flores Diaz and Jose Antonio Rincon, replaced Acosta after his arrest on July 29.
The Mexican army killed eight gunmen traveling in a three-vehicle convoy in Michoacan state’s Tacambaro region. As the army patrol approached, two of the vehicles sped away while the third engaged in a gunfight with the soldiers.
Gunmen shot and killed Francisco Torres Ibanez, the intermunicipal police commander of Veracruz-Boca Del Rio, while he was on patrol in Veracruz, Veracruz state.
A severed pig head was discovered in a cooler at a university in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, with a note stating that the pig head was for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The message was signed “El Coman 2.”

Aug. 17

During a reconnaissance operation, Mexican authorities seized a drug lab in Chilchota, Michoacan state, containing approximately 1 ton of chemical precursors.
Federal police seized approximately 116 kilograms (256 pounds) of marijuana from a vehicle in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.
Five coolers containing severed human remains were found throughout Acapulco, Guerrero state. The identities of the victims and the killers remain unknown.

Aug. 18

Multiple narcomantas were posted throughout Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, criticizing Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Some of the banners were critical of the lack of reporting of clandestine graves in Durango and accused Calderon of a cover-up.
Ten Los Zetas members were killed when the Mexican army approached a safe house in Agualeguas, Nuevo Leon state. At least 20 gunmen escaped during the fight.

Aug. 19

The Mexican army detained 10 members of the group Comando Del Diablo, in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The arrests were a result of an investigation conducted after members of the group left coolers with human remains in Acapulco on Aug. 17.

Aug. 20

The mayor of Zacualpan, Mexico state, was found dead in Teloloapan, Guerrero state. He was kidnapped Aug. 19 after he and his bodyguards were attacked by gunmen.
A gunfight erupted between police and gunmen in Torreon, Coahuila state. The gunfight occurred outside of a soccer stadium where a game was being played.
Nine dead bodies with multiple gunshot wounds were found along a highway near Mora, Nayarit state. The bodies were found with their hands bound.
After stopping traffic and firing gunshots, gunmen hung a narcomanta off a bridge in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, addressed to Calderon and state Gov. Rodrigo Medina. The narcomanta warned of an upcoming prison escape at the Apodaca prison in Nuevo Leon.

Aug. 21

Three human heads were discovered in a plastic bag along a busy street in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The authorities have not dismissed the possibility that the heads belong to headless corpses found in Acapulco on Aug. 19.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Violence Shows Strategic Value of Torreon, Acapulco | STRATFOR

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24182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: August 23, 2011, 11:41:59 AM
Following up on the last line in my previous post:

Summary
Libya’s National Transitional Council is eager to restart oil production after addressing security and political issues. When it does, Italy’s ENI will benefit because of its experience in Libya and its existing network of contacts. However, France, the United Kingdom and Qatar also stand to gain from their support of Libya’s rebels during the war.

Analysis

Italian state-owned energy firm ENI immediately sent a technical team to Libya to assist the country in restarting oil production after the rebel advance on Tripoli. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in an Aug. 22 television interview that “the facilities had been made by Italians, by [Italian oil and gas contractor] Saipem, and therefore it is clear that ENI will play the No. 1 role in the future.”

Italy pioneered Libya’s oil industry, and it was ENI’s role in Libya — and Rome’s heavy reliance on Libya for its oil and natural gas supplies — that motivated Rome to abandon its hedging strategy in April. Though Italy had scaled back its funding for military operations in the NATO bombing campaign, it never fully abandoned it. Rome was careful to separate any appearance of concern for the plight of Libyan civilians from any support for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi once the NATO campaign began. Politically, Italy will not command nearly as much gratitude from Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) as France, the United Kingdom, Qatar, the United States and others. However, its prior relationship with Libyan oil industry officials — as well as other members of the Gadhafi regime who will be playing large roles in Libya’s future — will give Rome an advantage in re-establishing a foothold in Libya. This means ENI likely will be able to resume oil production faster than any other foreign actor.

France was the first country to recognize the NTC and has been viewed as the  rebels’ primary political protector since before the bombing campaign even began. It also participated in a weapons air drop program for Nafusa Mountain guerrillas that showed its support was not relegated to politics. The first foreign leader reported to have spoken with NTC foreign affairs chief Mahmoud Jibril following the rebel entry into Tripoli was French President Nicolas Sarkozy. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe announced that Sarkozy had spoken with Jibril and said that Jibril, who has already made multiple visits to Paris, is expected to return to the French capital in the coming days. Juppe also said that Paris would host a meeting of the contact group on Libya as soon as next week to discuss the next steps. France has consistently sought to organize the international effort in Libya and is not changing its behavior now. Though its state owned oil company Total did not have the same sort of presence in Libya as ENI, Total stands to emerge as a winner in the Libyan war as well.

The United Kingdom also stands to gain, as it was one of the NTC’s most ardent defenders from the beginning. When the United States scaled back its participation in the bombing campaign, France and the United Kingdom took the lead. Though London did not officially recognize the NTC as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people until July 27, it did not waver as much as Italy did as the NATO campaign began to appear as if it was not making much headway in June and July. London was also one of the driving forces that led to the passage of the U.N. resolution that allowed the bombing campaign to begin.

There will also be rewards for Qatar, the Muslim country that provided more support for the rebels than any other. Doha’s support included gasoline shipments to eastern Libya, weapons shipments to all regions for the Libyan opposition, financial support and help with propaganda through the broadcasts of the Qatari-based Al Jazeera network and the hosting of a Libyan opposition satellite television station. Qatar is a major natural gas producer but does not have much crude oil and could see an opportunity now in Libya.

The NTC wants to restart production as soon as possible, but there is no way to reliably estimate a time frame. First, the war in Libya is not over; Gadhafi’s forces are still fighting and could hold out longer than most anticipate. Second, there is no clear picture of how much damage has been done to the oil facilities (this is what the ENI team is in the country investigating). Whenever oil production resumes, it will be easiest to do in the  eastern oil fields, where most production occurred before the war, though these fields were taken offline by attacks carried out by pro-Gadhafi forces. Officials with the Libyan oil firm Arabian Gulf Oil Company said Aug. 22 that the firm is “technically ready” to restart oil output immediately, but this is unlikely.

Security is the main issue regarding the resumption of oil production. Abdeljalil Mayouf, Arabian Gulf Oil Company’s information manager, said Aug. 22 that security forces hired from the former Libyan army were already at the fields and that the company was awaiting clearance to restart production. The looming political problems the NTC will face in trying to take over governance in Tripoli will delay this process.

24183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: August 23, 2011, 11:37:37 AM
JDN or anyone:

What does Huntsman have to say about this?
24184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: August 23, 2011, 11:33:39 AM
CCP:

What is the takeaway for you from that article?
24185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 23, 2011, 11:25:15 AM
JDN:

I think you understate what being governor of Texas for 11 years entails in terms of understanding and dealing with Mexico by quite a bit.

Bachman:  thanks for the correction on the committee.  I assume you are right on the time involved and yes it is very little.

Huntsman:  Granted the experience of having been ambassador to China and speaking the language are quite relevant, but exactly what, if anything, has he done/is he responsible for with regard to China other than write ass kissing letters to Baraq?  
24186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: August 23, 2011, 11:19:20 AM
But then they would have that which comes from knowing that they did it for themselves.  Yes, yes I know without NATO support they would have been wiped the F out, nor would they have won, but the simple fact is that normal people took up arms and fought and won.

Much remains undone and undetermined (of interest to us is the location and control of Libyan chem, bio, and shoulder fired missiles-- with lots of Islamo-fascists amongst the rebels this could turn into a VERY serious problem) and there is much to criticize in how Baraq handled things, but we need to remember that, unlike progressives, liberals, and much of the Dem party, our perspective is the good of America.

That Kadaffy falls, that the America (possibly after Italy, France, and GB) is seen in a good light , , , well these are good things.
24187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 23, 2011, 11:11:51 AM

Some of the comments are rather funny

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080711080121AAP7mBQ
24188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: American History on: August 23, 2011, 11:08:38 AM
I saw a report on TV; the American sculptor left/was fired over "creative differences" and the actual sculpting was "made in China".  Oy fg vey!!!
24189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington, to PA, 1789 on: August 23, 2011, 10:28:40 AM
"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn." --George Washington, letter to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, 1789


24190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: on: August 23, 2011, 12:52:52 AM

The fighting continues in Tripoli, and Moammar Gadhafi still hasn't been captured, but the triumph of the U.S.-backed Libyan rebels seems to be only a matter of time. Though you wouldn't know it from the reaction at the Council on Foreign Relations or among some GOP Presidential candidates, this is a victory for freedom and U.S. national interests.

A dictator with American blood on his hands is about to be overthrown by a popular revolt invoking democratic principles. Not a single American has died in the effort, and the victory would not have been possible without U.S. air power, intelligence and targeting as part of NATO. A long-oppressed people now has a chance to chart a freer future, a fact that is clear from the rejoicing in Benghazi.

What would we prefer: That Gadhafi stay in power?

Rather than wring our hands about the dangers ahead, now is the time to applaud the bravery of the Libyan people and help them build a better country. One way to start would be to respect what the rebels have accomplished and respond to their requests for assistance, rather than trying to dictate how they should act.

Yet some of the same people who said we shouldn't help the rebels now want the U.N. to send "boots on the ground," including U.S. troops. It's not clear that the Libyans want or even need such help, especially from Americans, which could complicate their own nascent attempts at self-government.

The danger of tribal reprisals in Tripoli is real, and President Obama was right yesterday to urge the rebels to pursue "reconciliation." But America's foreign policy elites have also so far misjudged the rebels, who have shown impressive persistence and coordination in maintaining a six-month military campaign. They didn't turn on each other and they didn't turn out to be a stalking horse for al Qaeda, despite the claims of many on the American political right.

The statement yesterday from the chairman of the opposition Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, was impressive in calling for "a nation in which all citizens are equal" and "in which minorities have rights and can practice their culture and their way of life."

Related Video
 In an Opinion Journal video, Columnist Bret Stephens gives an update on the Libyan war and columnist Bill McGurn ponders the ethics in collegiate athletics. Also, editorial writer Joe Rago on Jon Huntsman's latest campaign strategy.
..The U.S. and especially NATO can help with military training and equipment for the Libyan security forces, if requested. The allies will also find it easier to collect the dangerous weapons on the ground, especially surface to air missiles, if we promise new, more appropriate arms in return. U.N. sanctions should be lifted immediately, so a new government can begin to tap the country's oil and financial assets.

Medical assistance should be an easy call, including opening hospital beds on NATO ships. This makes sense on humanitarian grounds, but it also builds goodwill for other issues.

One risk is if Gadhafi or his sons have been making plans to run an insurgency, as Saddam Hussein did in Iraq. This seems less likely given that Gadhafi's security apparatus is less extensive than Saddam's, and there probably wouldn't be an influx of foreign fighters. Most of the Arab world hates Gadhafi as much as most Libyans do. But the U.S. should be prepared to help the new government with counterinsurgency if it comes to that.

One disappointment is the reluctance among Republicans to praise the rebel success, perhaps for fear it will somehow help Mr. Obama. It's true the President had to be embarrassed into the fight by the French, British and even Qatar. But however belated and badly managed, the U.S. intervention has succeeded in preventing a bloodbath in Benghazi and soon in deposing a long-time U.S. enemy who could have re-emerged as a terrorist sponsor.

Michele Bachmann, who played the al Qaeda tune, now looks partisan to a fault. The Republicans who look best are Presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty (who has since dropped out) and House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, who urged more forceful U.S. leadership.

The U.S. military is stretched at the current moment and we can't take sides in every civil war. But the Libyan intervention shows that when the cause is just and the means are available, the U.S. can make a moral and strategic difference.

U.S. support for the rebels won't be lost on a Middle East still undergoing its own upheavals, not least on the people and governments of Syria and Iran. NATO showed it will finish a military task it started, and soon Gadhafi will take his place with Saddam in the ranks of Arab despots who will terrorize their people no more.

24191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Men, women, and sleep on: August 23, 2011, 12:46:41 AM
By ANDREA PETERSEN
He sleeps. She sleeps. They sleep differently.

Women tend to have more deep sleep and awaken fewer times during the night than men do. They also weather some of the effects of a lack of sleep better than men, according to recent studies. Still, men overall say they are more satisfied with the amount and quality of their shut-eye than are women.

Getting enough sleep is an important factor in maintaining overall health. Scientists are increasingly focusing on gender differences in sleep, seeking clues about why women are more likely to suffer insomnia, for instance. Some researchers suggest that differences in sleep patterns could help explain why women live longer than men.

 Andrea Petersen explains on Lunch Break why men and women sleep differently and whether it may partly explain why women generally have better health and live longer.
."Women on average have longer sleep than men; women on average are healthier than men. It could be that those are related," says Daniel J. Buysse, a professor of psychiatry and clinical and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh. Sleep difficulties have been linked in many studies with chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Most people regularly sleep with a partner, and some research has shown that people wake up more and have less deep sleep when they sleep with another person. Still, people generally say they are more satisfied with their sleep when they are with a loved one. "There are objective costs to the physical presence of someone else in the bed," says Wendy M. Troxel, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a leading researcher on relationships and sleep. But "the safety and security we derive from our social relationships trumps the cost," she says.

Men and women have different body clocks. Men's average "circadian period" was 24 hours, 11 minutes—six minutes longer than for women, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's annual meeting in June in Minneapolis. Although six minutes doesn't seem like a big deal, the effects can compound day after day. Researchers determined circadian period by measuring core body temperature and levels of the hormone melatonin.

View Interactive
.During the study, which involved 157 healthy people, more men had circadian periods longer than 24 hours and therefore were predisposed to want to go to bed later and get up later each day—classic behavior of so-called night owls. By contrast, twice as many women as men had body clocks shorter than 24 hours and therefore wanted to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. "That may make it more difficult to stay asleep at the end of the night," contributing to insomnia in women, says Jeanne F. Duffy, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the lead author of the study.

For both sexes, a circadian period that is out of sync with the 24-hour clock can result in sleep deprivation as the week goes on. People with short biological clocks may want to increase exposure to light at night and eliminate it in the morning. Night owls should reduce light exposure before bedtime and get bright light in the morning. Trying to catch up on sleep on the weekends can just push one's biological clock further out of whack.

Women, on the whole, get more sleep and fall asleep faster than men. About 30% of women said they sleep eight hours or more on weekdays, compared with 22% of men, according to the National Sleep Foundation's 2005 Sleep in America Poll, which surveyed 1,506 people. A small study looking at the sleep of healthy young adults found that women slept an average of 7 hours, 43 minutes in a night, or 19 minutes more than men. And women took 9.3 minutes on average to fall asleep, whereas men took 23.2 minutes. The study, published in the journal Chronobiology International in 2005, followed 16 men and 15 women—a small but not uncommon number for sleep studies—over three nights in a sleep laboratory.

Given this, researchers say it isn't clear why in numerous studies women tend to complain more about their sleep, saying they don't get enough shut-eye and find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Sleep studies might not be picking up the whole story, some researchers say, adding that more investigation is needed.

While mothers of young children often feel like they get no sleep, Dr. Buysee says the research doesn't bear that out. "This isn't going to be popular, but some studies show that mothers get more sleep than fathers," he says. Women likely feel worse because their sleep is so interrupted. "If the woman's sleep is more fragmented, she's going to suffer more consequences," he says.

Multiple studies have shown that women generally have more slow-wave sleep, which is the deepest sleep. It tends to happen in the first part of the night and is critical to memory formation.

Women may be better able to cope with sleep deprivation than are men, probably because they get more deep sleep, recent research suggests. A small study, presented at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's annual meeting, aimed to mimic the common practice of people not getting enough sleep during the work week and then trying to make up for it on the weekends. Both men's and women's performance on a 10-minute computer task that measured reaction time and speed, among other variables, deteriorated after five nights of only six hours of sleep.

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Getty Images
 
Men and women have different body clocks, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's annual meeting.
.But women's scores slipped less then men's, and recovered to a greater degree after two nights of extended sleep, of eight hours. "I think what our data show is that women can deal with sleep loss better than men," says Alexandros Vgontzas, professor of psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., and a co-author of the study, which involved 16 men and 18 women.

Sleep can help reinforce learning in both men and women, such as college students readying for an exam. But to absorb certain kinds of knowledge, known as perceptual learning, men needed a nap whereas women didn't, according to another study presented at the sleep medicine academy's meeting.

In the study, 126 subjects completed a task that required them to identify differences in the movement of dots on a screen. The subjects then underwent some training in the task and were tested again to see how much they had learned. Men only learned after a nap. Women learned whether they napped or not. "It may be the case that women are better suited for tasks requiring sustained perception, jobs like air-traffic controllers or radiologists who are reading MRIs," says Elizabeth McDevitt, a study coordinator at the University of California, San Diego and the lead author of the study.

Life changes, including pregnancy and menopause, can wreak havoc on women's sleep. Overall, however, men wake up more often during the night, partly because of their greater risk for obstructive sleep apnea, researchers say.

Some researchers say some women may not feel they're getting a good night's sleep because sleep studies may not be seeing the whole picture when it comes to insomnia. New studies using PET scans have shown that in patients with insomnia, glucose metabolism is elevated in some parts of the brain. So even when they're asleep "their brain isn't completely shut off," says Dr. Buysse. Women are about 50% more likely to have insomnia than men. Other researchers say women, more than men, tend to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders, which can lead to insomnia.

24192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cain's 9-9-9 plan on: August 23, 2011, 12:39:24 AM
Baraq's Chinese policy is not one that I would consider for general application.  Bachman is on the Foreign Intel Committee IIRC, and Perry has had considerable dealings with the Mexico and its govt-- also of huge importance to us.

OTOH IIRC Huntsman regards the Tea Party as extremist, apparently has no problem raising taxes and wants to put the Federal Govt in charge of the planet's weather, and to legalize 12-16 million people here illegally.
================

Herman's Weekly Commentary: "Mr. President, You're Fired"



Published: Sunday, August 21, 2011


Having served on the Board of Directors of several major corporations over the last twenty years, I have had the responsibility of voting to hire a new CEO, and voting to fire a current CEO many times. In both instances the decision was based on assessed potential and performance.

Directors hold CEOs responsible for results, and the prudent use of company resources such as cash, equity and human resources. Specific metrics are established for both annual and multi-year performance, which are evaluated in making the hire or fire decision.

If a CEO is underperforming and on the brink of being fired, then we look to see if he or she has identified the right problem, and, has established a plan of action to get things back on track. If the plan is convincing and the performance metrics were missed by a reasonable amount, then he or she would be given a specific amount of time to get back on track.

The Board has to decide what‚s convincing, what‚s reasonable and how much time should be allowed for a course correction. Then take action.

President Obama‚s economic policies have failed unreasonably. He has no plan for a course correction. He has promised a plan for focusing on job creation since he has been in office. He has had over two and a half years to get it right, and now he wants a month to write another speech, following a three day bus tour that produced nothing but a bunch of photo-ops. We are not convinced we will hear anything new. A Board‚s action would be unanimous.

Mr. President, you‚re fired.

I realize that only the voters can fire President Barack Obama in November of 2012. But his performance and his potential plan for serious economic growth are not likely to change anything. The Board of Directors would have no choice.

But America has a choice. Elect Herman Cain president in 2012.

Here‚s Phase 1 of my economic growth plan. It‚s called the 9-9-9 plan.
         

A 9% business flat tax         
Gross income less all investments, all purchases from other businesses,
and all dividends paid to shareholders.

A 9% individual income flat tax                       
Gross income less charitable deductions

A 9% national sales tax                       
This significantly expands the tax base which helps everybody.

This plan has the following advantages:

It is fair, revenue neutral, transparent and efficient
Zero tax on capital gains and repatriated profits
Replaces the payroll tax
Will aid capital availability for small businesses
Saves taxpayers $430 billion in annual compliance costs
It eliminates the uncertainty holding this economy down

Current economic conditions call for bold moves to boost and supercharge this economy. If we are in an economic recovery as the administration claims, this economy is still 6 million jobs below the worst recovery since the Great Depression. The latest evidence shows that we are still in economic decline.

This plan is bold and doable. It has been developed and analyzed by some of the best economic minds in the nation. Remember, I surround myself with good people. That‚s the key to my success and it will continue to be.

I offer this plan to the president, the Congress and the „super committee‰. I could wait until after I am elected president, but America can‚t keep waiting.

Struggling businesses and fifteen million unemployed people can‚t wait.

We need serious economic growth NOW! Please Mr. President, just do it! 


###


If you want to send the clear message to President Obama that Americans want a problem solving leader with Common Sense Solutions, support Herman Cain.
24193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Now what? on: August 22, 2011, 04:44:52 PM
Analyst Bayless Parsley examines the success of the Libyan rebel forces in Tripoli but foresees problems for the rebel National Transitional Council once they begin governing Libya.


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

Related Links
Libyan Rebels’ Immediate Security Concerns
Libyan Rebels Closing in on Tripoli
One day after Libyan rebel forces entered the capital of Tripoli, fighting continues with remnants of the Gadhafi regime that are entrenched in Tripoli. Though several of Gadhafi sons have reportedly been arrested, the whereabouts of the Libyan leader himself remain unknown. Gadhafi also maintains strongholds in the cities of Sirte and Sabha, indications that the Libyan war is far from over. Assuming that the Libyan rebels prevail, however, the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council will face a whole new set of problems in trying to relocate its political authority to Tripoli.

The main problem of the National Transitional Council is that it’s an umbrella group that brings together several different groups of people, who really only have two things in common. They’re collectively referred to as the Libyan rebels, and they all share a desire to oust Moammar Gadhafi from power. The second you take that common mission away from them, you immediately open the door to in-fighting.

The Council has been based in Benghazi since February and has, for the entire time, professed a desire to relocate its political capital to Tripoli. This won’t be as easy as simply packing up their car and making a 12-hour drive west. When its leaders, almost all of whom have heavy ties to eastern Libya, which is historically distinct from other parts of the country, try to assert their power in the west, it will be met with resistance.

There are a lot of different fronts in the Libyan war manned by different groups from different parts the country. Each of these groups is now going to feel as if it is entitled to a certain share of political authority, economic reward and share of power in the new Libya. Those who manned the front lines of Brega are the closest geographically to both Benghazi and the bulk of Libya’s oil fields. They will feel as if they were the vanguard of Libyan revolution. Those who staved off the Libyan army in Misurata for so many months feel as if they are the most hardened fighters and therefore worthy of a reward.

The Berbers in the Nafusa Mountains played a critical role in the final push to enter Tripoli, while the Arab rebels who joined them in Zawiya and Zabrata will argue that they actually entered the capital first and therefore drove the dagger into Gadhafi’s heart. Finally there are the people of Tripoli itself, a city which makes up about a quarter of Libya’s overall population, who may not be very receptive to the idea of the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council taking the place of the previous regime for very long.

There are also known Islamist militias who’ve been participating in the fighting in the east and who have also been providing security in Benghazi itself. The presence of these militias has caused the National Transitional Council to worry that they may attempt to fill any potential power vacuum that is left by Gadhafi’s departure. When you add all these factors together, it’s clear that the Council has a potential problem on its hand, and that, while the Libyan war seems to be nearing an end, it’s possible that the real battle has only just begun.

24194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / JP op-ed article: Beck is right on: August 22, 2011, 04:14:14 PM


http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2011/08/glenn-beck-is-correct-on-middle-east.html

24195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Book review: Ethan Allen of Vermont on: August 22, 2011, 02:53:45 PM


By ROBERT K. LANDERS
By 1771, a conflict over frontier settlements in what is today Vermont had begun to turn violent. Colonial officials in New York, eager to profit from making land grants in the territory between Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River, refused to recognize grants already made there by the New Hampshire colony. The Hampshire settlers themselves, meanwhile, were determined to hold on to their property and not pay twice for it. Ethan Allen, a major property owner in the region known as the New Hampshire Grants, emerged as the leader of the opposition to New York's efforts.

In June 1771, getting word that a New York surveyor was running lines in the woods 20 miles away, Allen and some of his followers went to the scene. Dressed as Indians, with soot-blackened faces, they threatened to kill the "Yorker"—who fled with his crew. Later that year, Allen formally organized the "Green Mountain Boys" to defend the Hampshire settlements and scotch any New York-backed settlements. He and his "boys" torched fences and haystacks as warnings to New York settlers reluctant to leave; in October, the Green Mountain Boys burned down the cabin of a Yorker who refused to depart.

In "Ethan Allen," historian Willard Sterne Randall cites the behavior by the nascent folk hero and his men—who in extreme cases flogged defiant Yorkers—and links it with "the tactics of intimidation used by ten thousand Sons of Liberty in the period before the Revolution" to raise "an unsettling question: was America founded, at least in part, on terrorism?" Mr. Randall does not attempt an answer, however.

The author and his publisher call Ethan Allen a "founding father," presumably to appeal to all those readers with a seemingly insatiable appetite for books about those so designated, but if Allen was a founding father, it was of Vermont, not of the United States. Still, by my reading of Mr. Randall's exhaustively researched and insightful (but overly long) biography, Allen did make two significant contributions to the war for independence, each the result, directly or indirectly, of his recklessness.

View Full Image
.Ethan Allen
By Willard Sterne Randall
(Norton, 617 pages, $35)
.The first was what many considered a premature attack on Britain's Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775. Even after the battles at Lexington and Concord the preceding month, most delegates to the Second Continental Congress were not ready to cut America loose from Britain, continuing to express hope for reconciliation with the mother country. But after years of armed struggle against New York's royal governors and sheriffs over the New Hampshire Grants, 37-year-old Ethan Allen—tall, muscular and "a commanding figure in his forest green greatcoat and sheared beaver tricorn hat"—and his Green Mountain Boys were ready to fight for independence.

Thinking that if Fort Ticonderoga at Lake Champlain were wrested from the British, it could serve as a base for a rapid invasion and capture of Quebec, Allen was glad to accept the request of "patriots" in the Connecticut and Massachusetts colonies that he (and Benedict Arnold) lead a surprise attack on the huge but lightly defended facility. With only 83 frontiersmen, Allen took the fort without a shot being fired. Ticonderoga's real value proved to be its cannon and mortars, which in the coming winter Gen. George Washington's artillery commander, Henry Knox, would famously transport to Boston, overcoming the many formidable obstacles presented by terrain and weather.

Thanks to the bloodless fort seizure, Ethan Allen became the first American hero of the war, appearing in triumph before the Continental Congress in June 1775. Even the conservative delegates from New York, whose royal officials had branded him an outlaw and put a price on his head, joined the unanimous vote urging that the Green Mountain Boys be transformed into the Green Mountain Regiment, with Allen to be made a colonel in the Continental Army.

Allen's other important contribution to the Revolution was his best-selling wartime memoir of the harsh treatment he'd endured as a British prisoner for 32 months. In September 1775, while serving as a scout inside Canada, he joined in a rash plan to attack Montreal; counting on support that never materialized, Allen wound up a captive. If he expected to be treated as an officer and a gentleman, he was soon disappointed, for the British looked on him as a common criminal. "A Narrative of the Captivity of Colonel Ethan Allen," published in 1779, "riveted a populace still at war and instilled a patriotic feeling into a beleaguered people," Mr. Randall writes.

As a deist who had rejected Christianity, Allen felt no obligation to love his enemies. After his release in a prisoner exchange and return home to the new republic of Vermont in 1778, he led an official drive to ferret out loyalists (including his own brother Levi, even though Levi had tried to aid him when he was held captive), drive them away and confiscate their property. Allen went after Yorkers as well as loyalists. Mr. Randall notes: "To Allen, it was all the same."

A loose cannon if ever there was one, Allen during the war also engaged in secret talks with the British in Canada to obtain an agreement on prisoner exchanges with Vermont, arranging a ceasefire that averted British attacks on the shores of Lake Champlain. In those talks he explored the possibility of a separate peace for Vermont, using the threat of that to try to get Congress, despite New York's opposition, to admit Vermont into the Union. Allen strung the British along for nearly two years, and even after Yorktown, frustrated by Congress's latest refusal to admit Vermont to the Union, he wrote to British commander Frederick Haldimand: "I Shall do Every thing in my Power to render this State a British province." But by then, Mr. Randall relates, Haldimand had begun to grasp "that he had been duped." Vermont finally became a state in 1791, two years after Allen's death.

Mr. Landers, a former reporter at Congressional Quarterly's Editorial Research Reports, is the author of
"An Honest Writer: The Life and Times of James T. Farrell."

24196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: First thing we do is deregulate the lawyers on: August 22, 2011, 02:45:21 PM


By CLIFFORD WINSTON
AND ROBERT W. CRANDALL
The job market is not looking bright for Americans of all walks of life, even Ivy League college graduates and those with advanced degrees. For example, a new wave of law school graduates has just taken state bar examinations, which they must pass to obtain a license to practice law. But after accumulating as much as $150,000 in law school debt (likely on top of undergraduate debt), many of those test-takers are concerned that jobs in their field are vanishing.

Is there really an excess supply of lawyers? The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the subject while the New York Law School and the Thomas Cooley Law School in Michigan are being hit with class action suits claiming that they fraudulently inflated employment statistics to lure prospective students. But the solution proffered by many in the legal community—to put new limits on entry into the legal profession—is not the answer and will make the problem worse over the long term.

The reality is that many more people could offer various forms of legal services today at far lower prices if the American Bar Association (ABA) did not artificially restrict the number of lawyers through its accreditation of law schools—most states require individuals to graduate from such a school to take their bar exam—and by inducing states to bar legal services by non-lawyer-owned entities. It would be better to deregulate the provision of legal services. This would lower prices for clients and lead to more jobs.

Occupational licensing limits competition and raises the cost of legal services. But those higher costs are not justified when the services provided by lawyers do not require three years of law school and passing a particular test. One example is LegalZoom.com, an online company which sells simple legal documents—documents that should not require pricey lawyers to prepare—like do-it-yourself wills, uncontested divorce documents, patent applications and the like.

The competition supplied by new legal-service providers, who may or may not have some type of law degree and may even work for a non-lawyer-owned firm, will not only lead to aggressive price competition but also a search for more efficient methods to serve clients.

Every other U.S. industry that has been deregulated, from trucking to telephones, has lowered prices for consumers without sacrificing quality. For example, most regulated large airlines used to operate with large numbers of empty seats, particularly on longer routes. Once deregulation allowed Southwest Airlines, a smaller regional carrier, and other new carriers to offer service on any route, airline fares declined dramatically and the industry operated with far fewer empty seats and more employees. Deregulation of wireless, cellular telephone services and the entry of new carriers has led to the lowest wireless rates in the developed world and stimulated huge expenditures and associated employment in constructing new networks.

Entry by new firms—sometimes from other industries—spurs innovation. The legal industry will be no different. Ford, Honda and Toyota moved into motor vehicle production from bicycle, motorcycle and farm-equipment production, respectively. More recently, Apple moved from computers into mobile telephones (the iPhone), putting enormous competitive pressure on industry giants such as Nokia, Motorola and Research in Motion (Blackberry). The resulting innovations improved quality and lowered prices while also expanding employment.

Allowing accounting firms, management consulting firms, insurance agencies, investment banks and other entities to offer legal services would undoubtedly generate innovations in such services and would force existing law firms to change their way of doing business and to lower prices.

Entry deregulation would also expand individuals' options for preparing for a career in legal services, including attending vocational and online schools and taking apprenticeships without acquiring formal legal education. Established law schools would face pressure to reduce tuition and shorten the time to obtain a degree, which would substantially reduce the debt incurred by those who choose to go to those schools.

Supporters of occupational licensing to restrict the number of lawyers in the U.S. are wrong to assert that deregulation would unleash a wave of unscrupulous or incompetent new entrants into the profession. Large companies seeking advice in complex financial deals would still look to established lawyers, most of whom would probably be trained at traditional law schools but may work for a corporation instead of a law firm.

Others, seeking simpler legal services such as a simple divorce or will, would have an expanded choice of legal-service providers, which they would choose only after consulting the Internet or some other modern channel of information about a provider's track record. Just as the medical field has created physician assistants to deal with less serious cases, the legal profession can delegate simple tasks.

The track record of deregulation naysayers is hardly impressive—after all, some predicted in 1977 that airline deregulation would lead to a United Airlines monopoly. And while we cannot predict all the effects of legal services deregulation, we are confident that those services would be more responsive to consumers and that there would be more jobs in the legal profession.

Mr. Winston is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where Mr. Crandall is a nonresident senior fellow in the Economic Studies Program. They are co-authors, along with Vikram Maheshri, of "First Thing We Do, Let's Deregulate All the Lawyers" (2011, Brookings Press).
24197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Baraq splits the baby on: August 22, 2011, 02:42:32 PM
An issue predicted more than once by me many months ago.
====================

The trade magazine Defense News reports that the Obama Administration has notified Taiwan that it will not sell it new F-16s, but will agree to upgrade the island's older fighters. "They are going to split the baby," a defense industry source told reporter Wendell Minnick. The metaphor is apt, as this outcome would endanger the island democracy.

Both the U.S. and Taiwan have denied the report, but whether it is final or not, we're hearing the Administration is leaning this way. If so, Beijing will have bullied another American President into scaling back the sale of defensive arms required under the Taiwan Relations Act. The island's weak defense is now becoming critical, as a report on Taiwanese air power due out shortly from the Pentagon will show.

Trying to paper over this reality with moves like upgrading Taiwan's F-16 A/B fighter only makes matters worse. These aging airframes reportedly will get sophisticated radars and electronic countermeasures that in some ways will make them more capable than the U.S. Air Force's own F-16s. So in order to make up the shortfall in Taiwan's defenses caused by its unwillingness to sell plain vanilla F-16 C/Ds, the Obama Administration is risking this more advanced technology falling into Beijing's hands by way of its espionage rings on the island.

Taiwan doesn't need the most advanced weaponry on the market to defend itself; it needs reasonably capable weapons in sufficient quantities. China is improving the capabilities of its weapons, but its biggest advantage on Taiwan is in numbers. The mainland can send missiles and fighters in waves across the Strait to overwhelm the island's air force. Taiwan is buying advanced Patriot missile defenses, which will help, but new F-16s are a crucial part of its defense in depth.

By hesitating to provide Taiwan with the arms it needs, President Obama is setting up a future U.S. President for a crisis. Beijing has declared that it will attack if Taiwan's leaders try to put off reunification indefinitely. In practice, this means that when the Chinese military enjoys a decisive advantage in the Taiwan Strait, the threats against Taiwan could begin in earnest. If the Obama Administration fails to honor America's commitments to Taiwan, Beijing's threats could turn to war sooner than anyone anticipates.

24198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Three Things on: August 22, 2011, 11:31:56 AM


http://www.ted.com/talks/ric_elias.html
24199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Huxley vs. Orwell on: August 22, 2011, 11:28:33 AM
http://www.egodialogues.com/words-language/huxley-orwell.php
24200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Taps on: August 22, 2011, 11:17:39 AM
Melissa Venema, age 13, is the trumpet soloist. Here is Taps played in its entirety. The Original version of Taps was called Last Post, and was written by Daniel Butterfield in 1801. It was rather lengthy and formal, as you will hear in this clip, so in 1862 it was shortened to 24 notes and re-named Taps. Melissa Venema is playing it on a trumpet whereby the original was played on a bugle. Watch at this site.

http://www.flixxy.com/trumpet-solo-melissa-venema.htm
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