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24201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 17, 2009, 02:57:00 PM
Turkey?

post Bush 1-Gulf War Kuwait?

 , , , Post Bush 2--Iraq? 
24202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rearmament strategy on: March 17, 2009, 12:26:20 PM
March 18, 2009

Russia Is Planning a ‘Large-Scale Rearming’

By CLIFFORD J. LEVY
MOSCOW —


President Dmitri A. Medvedev said on Tuesday that Russia would begin a “large-scale rearming” in 2011 in response to what he described as threats to the country’s security.

In a speech before generals in Moscow, Mr. Medvedev cited encroachment by NATO as a primary reason for bolstering the armed and nuclear forces.

Mr. Medvedev did not offer specifics on how much the budget would grow for the military, whose capabilities deteriorated significantly after the fall of Soviet Union.

Russia has increased military spending sharply in recent years, but with the financial crisis and the drop in the price of oil, the country’s finances are under pressure, suggesting that it would be hard to lift these expenditures further.

Even so, Mr. Medvedev’s timing was notable. He is expected to hold his first meeting with President Obama in early April in London on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of 20 industrialized and developing countries.

In recent weeks, he has said he is looking forward to the meeting, and both he and Russia’s paramount leader, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, have been expressing some optimism about improving relations with the United States under the new administration.

Mr. Medvedev’s comments on Tuesday, though, indicated that Kremlin did not want the United States and its NATO allies to presume that Russia was coming to the table from a position of weakness.

“An analysis of the military-political situation in the world shows that there are a range of regions where there remain serious potential for conflicts,” Mr. Medvedev said. “Threats remain that can bring about local crises and international terrorism. NATO is not halting its efforts to widen its military infrastructure near the borders of our country. All of this demands a quality modernization of our armed forces.”

Mr. Medvedev emphasized that Russia would not be deterred in this plan by the financial crisis.

His announcement comes as the Kremlin has already begun an effort to overhaul the operations of the armed forces, which are still run largely according to Soviet-style dictates.

While Russia’s far larger military easily triumphed over Georgia’s in the conflict in August, the fighting exposed what many experts described as flaws in training, weapons and equipment.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/wo...dvedev.html?hp
24203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Remembering jokes on: March 17, 2009, 11:52:17 AM
Basics
In One Ear and Out the Other
NYT
Published: March 16, 2009

By all accounts, my grandfather Nathan had the comic ambitions of a Jack Benny but the comic gifts of a John Kerry. Undeterred, he always kept a few blank index cards in his pocket, so that if he happened to hear a good joke, he’d have someplace to write it down.

How I wish I knew where Nathan stashed that deck.

Like many people, I can never remember a joke. I hear or read something hilarious, I laugh loudly enough to embarrass everybody else in the library, and then I instantly forget everything about it — everything except the fact, always popular around the dinner table, that “I heard a great joke today, but now I can’t remember what it was.”

For researchers who study memory, the ease with which people forget jokes is one of those quirks, those little skids on the neuronal banana peel, that end up revealing a surprising amount about the underlying architecture of memory.

And there are plenty of other similarly illuminating examples of memory’s whimsy and bad taste — like why you may forget your spouse’s birthday but will go to your deathbed remembering every word of the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song. And why you must chop a string of data like a phone number into manageable and predictable chunks to remember it and will fall to pieces if you are in Britain and hear a number read out as “double-four, double-three.” And why your efforts to fill in a sudden memory lapse by asking your companions, “Hey, what was the name of that actor who starred in the movie we saw on Friday?” may well fail, because (what useless friends!) now they’ve all forgotten, too.

Welcome to the human brain, your three-pound throne of wisdom with the whoopee cushion on the seat.

In understanding human memory and its tics, Scott A. Small, a neurologist and memory researcher at Columbia, suggests the familiar analogy with computer memory.

We have our version of a buffer, he said, a short-term working memory of limited scope and fast turnover rate. We have our equivalent of a save button: the hippocampus, deep in the forebrain is essential for translating short-term memories into a more permanent form.

Our frontal lobes perform the find function, retrieving saved files to embellish as needed. And though scientists used to believe that short- and long-term memories were stored in different parts of the brain, they have discovered that what really distinguishes the lasting from the transient is how strongly the memory is engraved in the brain, and the thickness and complexity of the connections linking large populations of brain cells. The deeper the memory, the more readily and robustly an ensemble of like-minded neurons will fire.

This process, of memory formation by neuronal entrainment, helps explain why some of life’s offerings weasel in easily and then refuse to be spiked. Music, for example. “The brain has a strong propensity to organize information and perception in patterns, and music plays into that inclination,” said Michael Thaut, a professor of music and neuroscience at Colorado State University. “From an acoustical perspective, music is an overstructured language, which the brain invented and which the brain loves to hear.”

A simple melody with a simple rhythm and repetition can be a tremendous mnemonic device. “It would be a virtually impossible task for young children to memorize a sequence of 26 separate letters if you just gave it to them as a string of information,” Dr. Thaut said. But when the alphabet is set to the tune of the ABC song with its four melodic phrases, preschoolers can learn it with ease.

And what are the most insidious jingles or sitcom themes but cunning variations on twinkle twinkle ABC?

Really great jokes, on the other hand, punch the lights out of do re mi. They work not by conforming to pattern recognition routines but by subverting them. “Jokes work because they deal with the unexpected, starting in one direction and then veering off into another,” said Robert Provine, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the author of “Laughter: A Scientific Investigation.” “What makes a joke successful are the same properties that can make it difficult to remember.”

This may also explain why the jokes we tend to remember are often the most clichéd ones. A mother-in-law joke? Yes, I have the slot ready and labeled.

Memory researchers suggest additional reasons that great jokes may elude common capture. Daniel L. Schacter, a professor of psychology at Harvard and the author of “The Seven Sins of Memory,” says there is a big difference between verbatim recall of all the details of an event and gist recall of its general meaning.

“We humans are pretty good at gist recall but have difficulty with being exact,” he said. Though anecdotes can be told in broad outline, jokes live or die by nuance, precision and timing. And while emotional arousal normally enhances memory, it ends up further eroding your attention to that one killer frill. “Emotionally arousing material calls your attention to a central object,” Dr. Schacter said, “but it can make it difficult to remember peripheral details.”

As frustrating as it can be to forget something new, it’s worse to forget what you already know. Scientists refer to this as the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, when you know something but can’t spit it out, and the harder you try the more noncompliant the archives.

It’s such a virulent disorder that when you ask friends for help, you can set off so-called infectious amnesia. Behind the tying up of tongues are the too-delicate nerves of our brain’s frontal lobes and their sensitivity to anxiety and the hormones of fight or flight. The frontal lobes that rifle through stored memories and perform other higher cognitive tasks tend to shut down when the lower brain senses danger and demands that energy be shunted its way.

For that reason anxiety can be a test taker’s worst foe, and the anxiety of a pop quiz from a friend can make your frontal lobes freeze and your mind go blank. That is also why you’ll recall the frustratingly forgotten fact later that night, in the tranquillity of bed.

Memories can be strengthened with time and practice, practice, practice, but if there’s one part of the system that resists improvement, it’s our buffers, the size of our working memory on which a few items can be temporarily cached. Much research suggests that we can hold in short-term memory only five to nine data chunks at a time.

The limits of working memory again encourage our pattern-mad brains, and so we strive to bunch phone numbers into digestible portions and could manage even 10-digit strings when they had area codes with predictable phrases like a middle zero or one. But with the rise of atonal phone numbers with random strings of 10 digits, memory researchers say the limits of working memory have been crossed. Got any index cards?

24204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 17, 2009, 11:18:07 AM
An interesting read, but some of it leaves me wondering-- e.g.

"—Islam is fully compatible with the principles of democracy" 

Is this really so?
24205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat: Reinstatement of Pak's judiciary on: March 17, 2009, 11:11:45 AM
Jkrenz:

Well, that was cheery, , , ,  here's some more sunshine:

Geopolitical Diary: The Reinstatement of Pakistan's Judiciary
March 16, 2009
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, in a speech to the nation early Monday local time, announced that his government would reinstate ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry after Gilani met with army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and President Asif Ali Zardari. Chaudhry will resume his duties as the country’s top judge on March 21. The last-minute development came as massive processions, headed by opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and the legal community, were en route to Islamabad. There, a sit-in had been planned for March 16 to demand the restoration of the judiciary and the provincial government in the country’s largest province, Punjab.

Chaudhry’s reinstatement by no means signals the end of the political and legal crisis that began when then-President Pervez Musharraf sacked Chaudhry a little more than two years ago, as many detailed issues have yet to be resolved. But this concession highlights a much more significant development in terms of the civil-military balance in Pakistan, which has been ruled by its army for 31 of its nearly 62 years in existence. That the powerful military establishment has played a key role in pushing the government toward a compromise of sorts — without tampering with the existing setup — underscores the relative rise of civilian forces and decline in the army’s ability to impose order single-handedly.

This major shift is clear to the United States, as senior U.S. officials — including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, special envoy Richard Holbrooke and U.S. Ambassador Anne Peterson — have participated in discussions with the government and the opposition in efforts to defuse the situation. In fact, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on Friday told PBS that Kayani was unlikely to opt for a military coup to resolve the crisis because “he is committed to a civilian government.”

Normally, such a shift would be seen as a move toward stability — but not in Pakistan, which is in the midst of a complex civil war. On one hand is the struggle between secular and Islamist forces, manifesting as a growing jihadist insurgency; on the other is a vibrant civil society movement demanding the establishment of the “rule of law” and an end to authoritarian rule. Pakistan’s security establishment is unable to deal with both at the same time and in fact needs public support to be able to deal with the jihadist challenge.

But Islamabad’s latest move to placate public sentiment will further complicate efforts by the Pakistani army and the United States to deal with the jihadist problem in southwest Asia. This is because those assuming the vanguard of the “rule of law” movement are largely right-wing political forces — either conservative nationalist powers such as Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League or Islamists such as Jamaat-i-Islami. These forces are either openly opposed to using force against jihadists operating in Pakistan or have an ambiguous stance on the jihadist threat, and they definitely lack a coherent policy on how to deal with the security threat from the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies.

Even the largely secular civil society movement, including the legal community, has viewed the conflict with the jihadists through nationalist lenses — as a U.S. war in which Pakistan was forced to participate. The disproportionate emphasis on the restoration of Pakistan’s ousted judges at a time when jihadists are slowly chipping away at the writ of the state underscores the low level of importance a significant cross-section of Pakistan’s political players have assigned to the jihadist threat. As a result, the political stakeholders in Pakistan who are responsible for dealing with the existential threat posed by the jihadists are preoccupied with other battles.

This will further undermine U.S. efforts to secure reliable partners in Islamabad in its efforts to craft a strategy for dealing with the jihadist threat in the region.
24206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: March 17, 2009, 11:02:49 AM
In Your Hands
By Tzvi Freeman

Meditate on a single pool left by the tide and all the life it holds. On a single leaf and all the genius within it. On all the forests of the world, all its seas, and all the life of the skies.  Then meditate that all this He has entrusted in our hands. And each person must say to him or herself: "All this He has placed in my hands alone."
24207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CiC BO plans to charge those wounded for cost of injuries via 3d party ins. on: March 17, 2009, 08:40:53 AM
second post on the subject

The American Legion Strongly Opposed to President's Plan to Charge Wounded Heroes for Treatment

This lame idea has me so angry I can hardly see straight. If nothing else this more than anything reveals the contempt this administration has for the men and women in uniform and their families. Mac

Contact: Craig Roberts of The American Legion, +1-202-263-2982 Office, +1-202-406-0887 Cell


WASHINGTON, March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.



"It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it." The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ' to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"



Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group's early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, " There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran's personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable."


Commander Rehbein reiterated points made last week in testimony to both House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. It was stated then that The American Legion believes that the reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate that VA treat service-connected injuries and disabilities given that the United States government sends members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. The proposed requirement for these companies to reimburse the VA would not only be unfair, says the Legion, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. The Legion argues that, depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health care benefits. The Legion also points out that many health insurance companies require deductibles to be paid before any benefits are covered. Additionally, the Legion is concerned that private insurance premiums would be elevated to cover service-connected disabled veterans and their families, especially if the veterans are self-employed or employed in small businesses unable to negotiate more favorable across-the-board insurance policy pricing. The American Legion also believes that some employers, especially small businesses, would be reluctant to hire veterans with service-connected disabilities due to the negative impact their employment might have on obtaining and financing company health care benefits.



"I got the distinct impression that the only hope of this plan not being enacted," said Commander Rehbein, "is for an alternative plan to be developed that would generate the desired $540-million in revenue. The American Legion has long advocated for Medicare reimbursement to VA for the treatment of veterans. This, we believe, would more easily meet the President's financial goal. We will present that idea in an anticipated conference call with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel in the near future.


"I only hope the administration will really listen to us then. This matter has far more serious ramifications than the President is imagining," concluded the Commander.


SOURCE The American Legion
__________________
24208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Webster: American history on: March 17, 2009, 08:11:21 AM
 
"Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country."

--Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788
 
24209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CiC BO plans to charge those wounded for cost of injuries via 3d party ins. on: March 16, 2009, 09:14:20 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/16/american-legion-commander-angered-after-meeting-obama/comment-page-1/#comments

American Legion commander “angered” after meeting Obama
posted at 7:00 pm on March 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey   


Apparently, the Obama administration hasn’t backed away from its plans to start offloading costs for wounded veterans to third-party insurance, which will make acquiring such insurance nearly impossible.  The commander of the American Legion emerged from a meeting with President Obama “angered” at Obama’s insistence on generating revenue from those who sacrificed for American security:

The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization says he is “deeply disappointed and concerned” after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

“It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan,” said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. “He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it.”

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, “This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ‘ to care for him who shall have borne the battle’ given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm’s way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America’s veterans!”

Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group’s early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, ” There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran’s personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable.”

The Obama administration explains that it wants private insurers who sell coverage to vets to pay their fair share, but there are two things wrong with that argument.  First, the United States has a moral obligation to provide treatment for those wounded in the service of their country. That’s a commitment we make to the people who enlist in military, and should not get outsourced.

Second, vets with service-related injuries and illnesses can only get third-party insurance because insurers know the US will cover all service-related medical treatment through the VA.  If the government reneges on that commitment, it will put insurers on the hook for veterans already enrolled — but it will make it a lot harder for the next set of veterans to get insured.  It will also raise costs to the rest of the insured by those companies, when the burden should fall on all Americans equally.

If the country needs more revenue streams, it should find some other way to find them than the backs of our wounded veterans.  They’ve sacrificed enough.  Shame on the Obama administration for attempting to weasel out of our commitment.

Update: This Ain’t Hell wonders when General Eric Shinseki will resign in protest.
24210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: March 16, 2009, 11:26:53 AM
U.S., Mexico: Forming a Border Response
STRATFOR Today » March 15, 2009 | 1452 GMT

U.S President Barack Obama, along with other prominent U.S. officials, is discussing the possibility of sending U.S. National Guard troops to the border with Mexico. The National Guard already has experience along the border, specifically during an anti-illegal immigration operation from 2006 to 2008. But so far, talk surrounding this latest possible deployment indicates that it would focus on providing security to border areas where spillover violence from Mexico is occurring. While it is not clear exactly what would trigger a National Guard deployment, defining the threat along the border and formulating possible responses is the first step toward creating a national policy on the topic.

Analysis

Several statements have been released during the first six weeks of the Obama administration that demonstrate its concern about the situation in Mexico and its intent to formulate a policy to address the Mexican border issue. President Barack Obama said March 11 that he was “going to examine whether and if National Guard deployments would make sense” and what circumstances would trigger their deployment. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said March 12 that her department intends to “make some significant movements to the southwest border.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates also has commented on the possibility of more cooperation between Mexico and the United States.

Over the past year, the U.S. government has become increasingly interested in the security situation in Mexico. Spillover of violence into the United States is already occurring, as evidenced by Mexican drug-trafficking enforcers invading a home in Phoenix and killing a delinquent drug dealer on June 22, 2008, and by constant cross-border provocations against U.S. Border Patrol agents, from rock-throwing to gunshots targeting Border Patrol agents.

It is clear that Mexican drug cartels have a degree of influence over crime in the United States, since so much criminal activity in the United States is drug-related. With Mexican drug cartels serving as the primary source of drugs for the U.S. market, it is inevitable that the organized criminal groups in Mexico establish some level of control and supervision over their U.S. criminal allies.

These connections, however, remain at the level of a law enforcement challenge. Presently, the problem is one faced by local and state authorities and, according to Napolitano, will continue to be the first line of attack for the Obama administration. At this point it is not yet clear what would trigger the use of the contingency plans being formulated by the Obama administration. Essentially, it is clear that the influence of the Mexican drug cartels is spreading throughout the United States, and particularly in the border states, it is not clear at what point the federal government becomes involved in coordinating a comprehensive response.

There are several possible scenarios that would trigger a response from the United States. One possible scenario would be a dramatic increase in the use of violence by cartel-linked gangs in the United States, like the Mexican Mafia or Barrio Azteca, mirroring their counterparts in Mexico. Other scenarios could include more violent and specific targeting of law enforcement officers on the U.S. side of the border, obvious incidents of Mexican drug traffickers crossing the border to carry out assaults in the United States, massive migration from Mexico in the case of state collapse or a similar, major security-related catastrophe.

If the situation required, the National Guard has the ability to provide support to law enforcement agencies so that they can better perform their jobs. Napolitano has said that federal support would consist of border-enforcement teams, more intelligence analysts and increased vehicle searches. This is similar to how Mexico’s military is currently assisting police, and how the Italian military was deployed to Sicily in 1992 to secure areas in order to allow police to carry out their work against La Cosa Nostra. The National Guard also has heavier firepower than police forces, which could be used suppress the kind of running gunbattles that frequently occur in Mexico but do not take place in the United States.

National Guard assets like helicopters, armored personnel carriers and aerial surveillance platforms would also contribute to law enforcement efforts along the border. But what the National Guard does not do is operate as a law enforcement agency. It cannot make arrests, and it cannot conduct investigations. The National Guard is simply a tool best used for stabilizing situations that have gotten out of control, or for enhancing government manpower and logistical capacity.

The National Guard has been sent to the border before. From June 2006 to July 2008, Operation Jump Start involved the deployment of 6,000 guardsmen to assist the Border Patrol in stemming illegal immigration traffic. Since then, governors of border states have been utilizing their state National Guard assets to assist in counternarcotics efforts. However, these efforts are relatively small, with less than 1,000 national guardsmen deployed across all four southern border states, and focus on assisting counternarcotics operations. A federally orchestrated response could draw on the deep reserves of National Guard members across the country for the purpose of national security.

Most importantly, drafting a federal plan (or at least talking about drafting a plan) to address violence spilling over into the United States will help build a national strategy on how to handle Mexico, including defining the breaking point that would force the United States to act more aggressively. Plans for securing the border are just one part of the administration’s policy toward Mexico, which Obama has said his administration will define within the next few months.
24211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NYT: Shocking development-- Europe hedges on: March 16, 2009, 10:50:17 AM
European countries that have offered to help the Obama administration close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have begun raising questions about the security risks and requirements if they accept prisoners described by the Bush administration as “the worst of the worst,” according to diplomats and other officials.

 Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (Cuba)The concerns, and a deep suspicion of whether the American intelligence community will share full information on the prisoners, are likely to complicate the resettlement effort, which is critical to President Obama’s fulfilling his pledge to close Guantánamo within a year of his taking office.

The offers, from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries, have been widely seen as efforts to win favor with the new administration by helping to close the camp, which was a contentious issue during the Bush years.

Still, with a first round of talks on the Guantánamo issues scheduled for Monday in Washington between Obama administration officials and a high-level delegation from the European Union, several European leaders have recently emphasized that they can make no firm commitments until they are given complete details on the prisoners.

“We’d have to study concrete cases,” María Teresa Fernández de la Vega Sanz, Spain’s deputy prime minister, said in an interview last week.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently told reporters she was “quite encouraged at the positive, receptive responses we’ve been getting” to requests for help in accepting Guantánamo detainees.

But some European officials said the Obama administration had yet to detail what would be involved in resettling detainees and whether the United States would also open its doors to Guantánamo prisoners, which the Bush administration declined to do.

It is not clear exactly what conditions the Obama administration may wish to impose, what the detainees’ immigration status would be or whether any detainees released to Europe would be eligible for complete freedom. “We understand, you have a big problem,” said one European official who said he would speak only if not identified. “And we appreciate what President Obama has said about closing Guantánamo. But that doesn’t automatically mean putting all the remaining inmates on a plane and sending them to Europe.”

Obama administration officials say some 60 of the remaining 241 detainees, those who cannot be sent to their home countries for humanitarian or other reasons, could be resettled in Europe.

A senior State Department official conceded that there were some concerns in Europe about accepting Guantánamo detainees. But the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not designated to speak publicly on the issue, argued: “It is really just a small effort to help us deal with a legacy of the past. This is something we inherited, too.”

A senior French official said that France was “ready to help,” but that “Guantánamo is an American responsibility.”

“It’s not an absolute condition, but it would be easier if the U.S. administration is willing to take some detainees,” said the French official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as did several officials in other countries, to avoid antagonizing the Obama administration.

American officials conceded that talks with Europe were likely to be complex, but said they were working with intelligence agencies to provide as much information about detainees as possible. The senior State Department official said that the White House was considering whether any detainees might be admitted into the United States, in part because of the European focus on that issue.

The detainees most often mentioned for resettlement in the United States are 17 Uighurs, members of a Chinese Muslim minority, who American officials say cannot be returned to China for fear of mistreatment. The men have argued that they were allies of the United States who were wrongly rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2001. After court battles, the Bush administration conceded that the men were not enemies of the United States.

Both American and European Union officials described the talks scheduled for Monday as a critical first step for any possible resettlement of Guantánamo detainees, saying that common European ground rules would ease the way toward decisions by individual countries.

Jacques Barrot, a European Union vice president who is to lead the European delegation, said there was an opportunity “to turn together a dark page” in the history of the fight against terrorism. But officials said the delegation was arriving with far more questions than answers.

Among the host of questions, European officials said, was whether the former prisoners would need to be monitored, whether they would have full travel rights in Europe and whether detainees might entangle their countries’ courts in years of legal battles by suing former American officials for their imprisonment and treatment.

Obama administration officials are working on a two-pronged plan to close the prison. They are analyzing how many detainees might be tried, most likely in the United States, and working toward transferring scores of the others.

The Bush administration often failed when it asked other countries to accept detainees, partly because those requests were usually accompanied by public comments defending the imprisonments by describing the detainees as dangerous terrorists.

The new administration is sending a different message. “We are less vested in trying to prove that these people are rightly held,” the senior State Department official said.

Given that stance by the Obama administration, some European officials say Washington’s focus on sending the detainees to Europe raises many questions.

Germany’s interior minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, has suggested publicly that if Guantánamo detainees pose no security risk, there is no reason the United States should not take them.

Pekka Lintu, Finland’s ambassador in Washington, said, “We should know what is being asked of us.”

William Glaberson reported from New York, and Steven Erlanger from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Victoria Burnett from Madrid, Judy Dempsey from Berlin, Margot Williams from New York and Mark Landler from Washington.
24212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Franklin; Madison; Webster; Reagan on: March 16, 2009, 10:43:45 AM
"History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy... These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened."

--Benjamin Franklin, Emblematical Representations
=============
THE FOUNDATION
"A good government implies two things; first, fidelity to the object of the government; secondly, a knowledge of the means, by which those objects can be best attained." --James Madison

INSIGHT
"I apprehend no danger to our country from a foreign foe ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. -- From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing. Make them intelligent, and they will be vigilant; give them the means of detecting the wrong, and they will apply the remedy." --U.S. Senator Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

THE GIPPER
"When I took the oath of office, I pledged loyalty to only one special interest group -- 'We the People.' Those people -- neighbors and friends, shopkeepers and laborers, farmers and craftsmen -- do not have infinite patience. As a matter of fact, some 80 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt wrote these instructive words in his first message to the Congress: 'The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled, it burns like a consuming flame.' Well, perhaps that kind of wrath will be deserved if our answer to these serious problems is to repeat the mistakes of the past." --Ronald Reagan


24213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: March 16, 2009, 10:42:48 AM
 grin
24214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / I love you too , , , on: March 16, 2009, 10:25:29 AM

A man breaks into a house to look for money and guns. Inside, he finds a young couple in bed.
He orders the guy out of bed and ties him to a chair.

While tying the homeowner's wife to the bed, the convict gets on top of her, kisses her neck, then gets up and goes into the bathroom. While he's in there, the husband whispers over to his wife:

'Listen, this guy is an escaped convict. Look at his clothes! He's probably spent a lot of time in jail and hasn't seen a woman in years. I saw how he kissed your neck. If he wants sex, don't resist, don't complain...do whatever he tells you. Satisfy him no matter how much he nauseates you. This guy is obviously very dangerous. If he gets angry, he'll kill us both. Be strong, honey. I love you!'

His wife responds: 'He wasn't kissing my neck. He was whispering in my ear. He told me that he's gay, thinks you're cute, and asked if we had any Vaseline.

I told him it was in the bathroom. Be strong honey. I love you too.'
24215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Friedman: The Next 100 years on: March 16, 2009, 02:00:42 AM


http://www.booktv.org/watch.aspx?ProgramId=FV-10186
24216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 35 Islamo-fascist camps in US on: March 16, 2009, 01:35:43 AM
For those who have not seen this yet
 
http://shock.military.com/Shock/videos.do?displayContent=185279#&ESRC=retirees.nl
24217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: March 16, 2009, 01:20:53 AM
Rachel:

You clerked for O'Connor?!?  shocked
24218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Can we defeat the Taliban? on: March 16, 2009, 12:32:51 AM
Can We Defeat the Taliban?
http://www.aina.org/news/20090312085918.htm

- David Kilcullen, National Review (Accidental Guerrilla book excerpt)

-David Kilcullen, senior counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq, explains in this exclusive book excerpt from The Accidental Guerilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One.



On the basis of my field experience in 2005--08 in Iraq, Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, I assess the current generation of Taliban fighters, within the broader Taliban confederation (which loosely combines old Taliban cadres with Pashtun nationalists, tribal fighters, and religious extremists), as the most tactically competent enemy we currently face in any theater. This judgment draws on four factors: organizational structure, motivation, combat skills, and equipment.

Taliban organizational structure varies between districts, but most show some variation of the generic pattern of a local clandestine network structure, a main force of full-time guerrillas who travel from valley to valley, and a part-time network of villagers who cooperate with the main force when it is in their area. In districts close to the Pakistan border, young men graduating from Pakistani madrassas also swarm across the frontier to join the main force when it engages in major combat -- as happened during the September 2006 fighting in Kandahar Province, and again in the 2007 and 2008 fighting seasons.

These multifaceted motivations provide Taliban fighters with a strong but elastic discipline. Although opportunities may arise for us to "divide and conquer" elements of the enemy, in practice local ties tend to far outweigh government influence. Thus we need to induce local tribal and community leaders who have the respect and tribal loyalty of part-time elements to wean them away from loyalty to the main-force Taliban. Appealing to the self-interest of local clandestine cell leaders may also help isolate them from the influence of senior Taliban leaders who are currently safe in Pakistan.

Clearly, the weakest motivational links within the Taliban confederation are those that are based on the "accidental guerrilla" syndrome and that draw local part-time fighters to fight alongside the main force when it is in their area. Local security measures such as neighborhood-watch groups and auxiliary police units, creation of alternative organizations and life pathways (including jobs and social networks) for young men, protection from Taliban intimidation, and alternative economic activities are potential approaches to detaching these individuals from main-force influence. The main force itself is highly cohesive in most districts and relatively invulnerable to direct penetration or infiltration. But the habit of recruiting part-time local fighters to join the main force, including forced recruitment, might expose the main force to indirect infiltration.

TALIBAN STRENGTHS

In terms of combat skills, reporting from units in the field, as well as my participant observations, suggest extremely high competence in some areas but some equally significant lapses in others. Key areas of skill include ambushing, use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), sniping, field defenses, and reconnaissance. Weaknesses include a tendency to operate in a set routine, lack of communications security, poor indirect-fire skills, dispersed tactical movement, and sloppiness in the security of cross-border infiltration.

Insurgent groups have mounted ambushes incorporating up to several hundred fighters using coordinated mortar, rocket, and sniper fire to engage coalition troops in the killing area. Tactics include the use of L-shaped or T-shaped layouts to catch troops in crossfire. They have shown good fire discipline, marksmanship, and tactical control during these activities. Though in many cases they have suffered significant casualties, they have shown an aggressive spirit and a marked willingness to accept severe losses in order to press home an attack.

Careful mine placement, good camouflage, employment of unexploded or modified ordnance, use of decoy and secondary devices, baited attacks (to draw first responders or military and police columns into a trap), and use of covering observation, sniper posts, and ambushes are all features of insurgent IED technique, which has shown substantial improvement (especially in the south) over the past several years, including an extremely significant rise in the prevalence of Iraq-style suicide attacks using car bombs, bomb vests, or limpet mines. Although IED attacks are still less intensive than in Iraq before the surge, in most cases this is probably explained by lower population density and scarcity of military-grade ordnance rather than lack of skill. In any case, since the success of the surge in reducing violence in Iraq in 2007--08, Afghanistan has overtaken Iraq as the main source of coalition casualties from IEDs.

Proficient use of snipers, operating in pairs and coordinating their activities by radio (both among pairs and with maneuver forces) are a key feature of improved insurgent tactical proficiency since 2005. Camouflage, stalking, use of high-powered optics, and coordinated engagement are all signs of increasing professionalism by enemy snipers, who have graduated from the category of "marksmen" to become true sniper pairs in the professional military sense. This bespeaks at least some training by professionally qualified military snipers, or by foreign fighters (such as Chechens) with previous operational sniping experience. It also shows an emphasis on training and preparation that was absent from some of the ad hoc Taliban efforts of previous years.

The field defenses of Pashmul and Panjwai during Operation Medusa in 2006, in an area of fertile farmland, small fields, orchards, and hedgerows that the Soviets called the "green belt" and where they took many casualties, showed intensive preparation and skill. Equally professional field defenses have been encountered in several subsequent operations. Good use of terrain, pre-registration of killing areas and firing points (a technique by which mortar and heavy-weapons crews walk the ground before a battle and adjust their aim points for maximum effectiveness), and the use of bunkers, crawl trenches, tunnels, caches, and obstacle plans highlight this tactical proficiency. During the 2006 fighting, because a large number of fighters were inexperienced Pakistani madrassa graduates, dozens were killed every day by Coalition airpower on the approaches to the battle. But once dug into their defensive zones, these fighters proved extremely difficult to extract.

Finally, in terms of strengths, the insurgents have shown great skill in scouting and intelligence collection, using local villagers and clandestine cadres for close-target reconnaissance and conducting stand-off observation from dominating hills, and by means of night and day movement in mountainous and vegetated areas (particularly in the eastern hills and the "green belt" in the Helmand and Arghandab river valleys). Some insurgents have also been very effective in using local informants and illegal vehicle checkpoints to gain and exploit information about the population.

WEAK SPOTS

Insurgent tactical weaknesses include the tendency to follow set routines. Because some senior leaders have been operating in the same areas for many years, and because the terrain limits maneuver options (most valleys have only one route in and out, for example), some insurgent groups have begun to set patterns and operate in a routine and repetitive fashion. This creates exploitable vulnerabilities. For instance, local guerrillas typically wait for a Coalition convoy to enter a valley and then seek to ambush it on its way out at a series of "traditional" attack points. This tendency, also noted by observers of mujahidin operating against the Soviets in the 1980s, appears to be widespread and could be exploited by working with local partners ahead of an operation to identify the traditional ambush sites in a given valley and then sending a force into the valley, waiting until enemy fighters move into ambush sites, and engaging these positions with air and indirect fire. Similarly, despite some proficiency in the use of rockets and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) in a semi-indirect fire mode, insurgent skills in mortar work seem less developed than in other areas. In some districts (particularly those along the Pakistan border) their proficiency is better, but in general this is one area where they still have room to improve. Because mortar work is a fairly technical skill, future improvements in this area might signal a higher level of assistance from sponsors located in Pakistan.

There have been several recent instances of insurgents' massing in large numbers (up to 250 fighters) in the open, often at night, only to be engaged by indirect fire or airpower and suffer significant losses. Again, during the September 2006 fighting around Pashmul, the insurgents lost hundreds of fighters who were moving openly in pickup trucks toward the scene of the fighting, while in autumn 2008 there were several coordinated large-scale attacks on British bases and population centers in Helmand Province. Such engagements typically kill young, inexperienced guerrillas rather than older cadres who tend to hang back in the fighting, directing the fanatical young fighters while not exposing themselves to risk.

A final key weakness is in cross-border movement, where infiltrators have typically taken little trouble to disguise their movement or activity, in some cases infiltrating in broad daylight under the noses of Pakistan army checkpoints, or even with direct assistance from Pakistani Frontier Corps troops. If we could convince the Pakistani government to actually take action against infiltrators, we could exploit this lack of skill in cross-border movement so as to ambush infiltration parties or deny specific routes, channeling the enemy into locations where we could engage them using airpower and indirect fire without significant risk to the local civilian population.

Finally, insurgent equipment has improved substantially. By 2005 and 2006, small arms and RPGs being carried by the Taliban were generally of much better quality than Afghan National Army (ANA) or Afghan National Police (ANP) weapons, though government weapons have improved in quality since that time. Other insurgent weapons capabilities (especially rockets and IEDs) continue to improve in sophistication. Handheld radios, satellite phones, and cell phones have become common. Some infiltrators wear camouflage uniforms, and some even have rudimentary badges of rank. Vehicles are of better standard than most ANP or government vehicles, and the supplying of food, water, and ammunition is very effective. But the Taliban still tends to travel more lightly, with far less reliance on the road network or logistic resupply, than the ANA/ANP or the Coalition, giving the enemy greater tactical mobility in rural parts of the country, especially where a measure of popular support exists for their agenda.

By David Kilcullen
National Review Online

This message has been edited. Last edited by: xmikex, March 13, 2009 04:23 PM
24219  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: March 16, 2009, 12:09:52 AM
Ah ya veo.  Mas o menos come yo ya habia imaginado.  Interesante la pregunta, y la verdad es que no tengo base para opinar.    ?Aun mas teoria de conspiracia en Mexico entre miles de otras mas?  No se'.  ?Otra perfidia gringa?  No se'.

24220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Free Speech vs. Islamic Fascism (formerly Buy DANISH!!!) on: March 15, 2009, 10:07:31 PM
Minister beaten after clashing with Muslims on his TV show


By Jonathan Petre
Last updated at 4:39 PM on 15th March 2009


A Christian minister who has had heated arguments with Muslims on his TV Gospel show has been brutally attacked by three men who ripped off his cross and warned: ‘If you go back to the studio, we’ll break your legs.’

The Reverend Noble Samuel was driving to the studio when a car pulled over in front of him. A man got out and came over to ask him directions in Urdu.

Mr Samuel, based at Heston United Reformed Church, West London, said: ‘He put his hand into my window, which was half open, and grabbed my hair and opened the door.

 Frightened: TV minister Noble Samuel

He started slapping my face and punching my neck. He was trying to smash my head on the steering wheel.

Then he grabbed my cross and pulled it off and it fell on the floor. He was swearing. The other two men came from the car and took my laptop and Bible.’

The Metropolitan Police are treating it as a ‘faith hate’ assault and are hunting three Asian men.

In spite of the attack, Mr Samuel went ahead with his hour-long live Asian Gospel Show on the Venus satellite channel from studios in Wembley, North London. During the show the Muslim station owner Tahir Ali came on air to condemn the attack.

Pakistan-born Mr Samuel, 48, who was educated by Christian missionaries and moved to Britain 15 years ago, said that over the past few weeks he has received phone-in calls from people identifying themselves as Muslims who challenged his views.  ‘They were having an argument with me,’ he said. ‘They were very aggressive in saying they did not agree with me. I said those are your views and these are my views.’ 

He said that he, his wife Louisa, 48, and his son Naveed, 19, now fear for their safety, and police have given them panic alarms. ‘I am frightened and depressed,’ he said. ‘My show is not confrontational.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...s-TV-show.html
24221  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Deadliest Warrior on: March 15, 2009, 08:28:24 PM
No, its not our show.
24222  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: March 15, 2009, 08:27:25 PM
Grateful for the fatherly joys of watching my son play lacrosse today.
24223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: March 14, 2009, 12:16:29 AM
Interesting footage, but the connection to the subject of this thread is ephemeral at best.  Please repost it in the Isalm in Europe thread.
=====================


http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/03/extinguishing_physician_consci.html
Extinguishing Physician Conscience
By Mary L. Davenport, MD
The largest generational cohort in American history, the Baby Boomers, will be the first Americans to be denied available effective life-saving treatments for reasons of cost. The seeds for this mass liquidation have already been planted.


Imagine that it is 2016, and you are a 65 year old boomer. You have been admitted to your local community hospital with malaise, fatigue, vomiting and cloudy mental status. You have had blood pressure problems and diabetes for a few years, and have just been diagnosed with renal failure. As you drift in and out of consciousness, you are vaguely aware your old family practice physician, who had taken care of you for 20 years, is not around. A religious man, he quietly retired from medical practice in 2014, after the full force of the Obama administration‘s removal of conscience protection for physicians in February, 2009, came into effect.


You feel vaguely uncomfortable as you are placed in a darkened room in the Comfort Care wing of the hospital. In moments of lucidity, you wonder if you shouldn't have some oxygen, an IV or SOMETHING! But the appropriate therapy, kidney dialysis, is not on the approved list of treatments for patients over 65, having been deemed too expensive. The new regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services were presented just last month to your hospital's Futile Care Committee. It was decided at the highest levels that for those over 65 years of age, renal dialysis would not be a beneficial treatment, that the alternatives of a kidney transplant were too expensive, and that your quality of life on chronic dialysis would be too diminished.

Your children wonder why you are not in an ICU. They are told that you will be placed on a morphine drip to make you more comfortable as you pass away, and that this is the highest standard of care for your diagnosis and age. It is called terminal sedation. You signed an advanced directive indicating that you did not want extraordinary care for a terminal condition, and under the new protocols renal failure, although treatable, qualifies as a terminal condition.


Your children frantically try to find their old family doctor. But your health plan replaced him with a large group of younger physicians, the hospital's Consortium for Health, a private-public foundation that was created to promote efficiency and reduce wasteful spending in medical care. By 2014 when he left, your family doctor was a dinosaur, having been trained in an earlier era. His medical school was one of the last to retain the original Hippocratic Oath.  It affirmed the covenantal relationship between the physician and patient, overseen by God, and that whatever the physician did would be for the patient's benefit.  You had felt safe entrusting your health to Dr. O'Brien's professional judgment.


Not only did the Hippocratic Oath your doctor took decades ago took specifically forbid physician assisted suicide and abortion, it also established patient confidentiality so that your secrets would never be disclosed. That is, until 2012, when physicians participating in the national healthcare system, which included ALL licensed physicians, were mandated to submit your visits to the unified electronic medical record system.  This data base was created in 2003 to coordinate medical care, detect emerging health threats, and exchange clinical information. Your doctor was very uncomfortable with this policy despite reassurances that HIPAA regulations would maintain your privacy.


But forces beyond any individual's control began to erode your relationship with your doctor long before he left the practice of medicine. The insurance companies stopped paying him in the late 1990's for hospital care, preferring to hire "hospitalists" or "intensivists" for greater efficiency in reducing hospital stays. Since office visits were reimbursed at lower and lower rates, your doctor had to see more and more patients in the office to just stay even. So although O'Brien knew you well and was trained to treat conditions such as renal failure or pneumonia, he stopped treating patients in the hospital.


Around 2007 both the hospital and office physicians began to be paid by a formula that rewarded them for saving money on medical care.  When your family doctor was forced to join the Consortium in 2012 because the health plans stopped contracting with individual physicians, a powerful new computer system tracked each doctor's prescribing habits, referrals to specialists, and utilization of expensive lab tests. But your doctor was an "outlier" in this new system, having been brought up in Hippocratic tradition of doing what was necessary for the individual patient, rather than the Greater Good, the newer communitarian ethic followed by the younger doctors. He was financially penalized for doing too much for his patients, since the formulas based 30% of physician income on "efficiency."


Your old doctor could tolerate the erosion of his income, but had trouble with the new regulations that insisted that he discuss and refer for "all legal procedures." Since by 2013 physician assisted suicide was legal in 21 of 50 states, the Consortium enumerated the conditions that mandated the "euthanasia talk", including multiple sclerosis, metastatic breast cancer, and many others. He could never actually bring himself to violate his original Hippocratic Oath that not only forbade assisting his patients in committing suicide but also prohibited even mentioning it. It was impossible to rid himself of the idea that a physician's role was to assist in healing and that medical killing was antithetical to his professional integrity.


Back in 2007, ACOG, the ob/gyn's professional organization, issued Ethics Committee Opinion 385, contending that ob/gyn doctors had the duty to either do abortions or have offices in close proximity to abortion doctors to whom they would refer patients. There was an outcry from professional organizations of pro-life ob/gyns, Catholic physicians,  and other Christian doctors. Especially troubling to many was the assertion in  Committee Opinion 385 that defined conscience as a sentiment, and measured its "authenticity" by the degree to which a provider would suffer "guilt, shame or loss of self esteem" if it were violated. Your doctor and many of his colleagues regarded medical killing as anathema, and were incensed by describing their integrity as a physicians as a "feeling". But by 2013 the protests had died down, and the ethics committee recommendation for ob/gyn's had evolved into a mandate for family practice doctors under new rules enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services.


The final blow came in early 2014. Back in 2008, in Benitez v North Coast Women's Care Medical Group, the California Supreme Court ruled against ob/gyn doctors who did not want to provide intrauterine insemination to a lesbian couple because of their religious beliefs. Although most European nations did not allow the buying or selling of eggs or sperm, and restricted fertility therapies to heterosexual married couples, the California courts not only permitted but required health care providers to cooperate in any reproductive therapies for any patient regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.


Although the birth of octuplets in 2009 with assisted reproductive technology to a single woman with six other children initially created a brief public uproar, ultimately no legislation was passed protecting physicians who did not want to participate in a patient's procreative endeavor. Your physician had a 68 year old bipolar single male patient who wanted to have an heir. The patient requested that your doctor appeal to the Consortium to provide him with a donated egg and surrogate mother for his desired offspring. Since your doctor did not want to be used as a tool in his patient's peculiar agenda and was legitimately afraid of an expensive lawsuit that would decimate his dwindling retirement funds if he refused, he decided at this point to quit medicine altogether and move to a sunny warm state.


Your family doctor had been inspired as a young man by study of the U.S. Constitution and other foundational documents that he thought would forever ensure his liberty. He had studied the same "Rules of Civility" that the young George Washington had encountered in 1747.  One of the most memorable of these maxims was "Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience." It was clear to him that conscience here referred to man's innate understanding of moral right and wrong. When the American Founders would later declare independence from Great Britain in 1776, it was by virtue of this "spark of celestial fire" that they would establish the principles of human equality, unalienable rights, and government by consent as the foundations of American constitutional government.


Just before he left for his retirement home, your doctor was deeply disturbed to see the concept of conscience mocked in the New England Journal of Medicine by University of Wisconsin law professor R. Alta Charo in her article "The Celestial Fire of Conscience - Refusing to Provide Medical Care."  Charo's presentation did not acknowledge that many Americans do not believe that abortion, assisted suicide, and embryonic stem cell therapies are legitimate medical care in the first place. Her article also did not distinguish between emergency and elective care, and merely regards the health care provider as a tool for whatever ends the patient wants to achieve. Attorneys such as Ms. Charo claimed the right to take whatever cases they want, but seem deny the same basic right to physicians. Patients can always seek the care of other providers.


Your doctor (and many other Americans) believed that failure to protect physician conscience will destroy the trust and accountability that is essential to the physician patient relationship. If the physician and patient cannot freely collaborate, ultimately another agenda -- that of the health plan or state -- will replace it, to everyone's detriment.


Dr. Davenport is an obstetrician/gynecologist in private practice in El Sobrante, California.
24224  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: April DB Tribal Gathering on: March 13, 2009, 11:48:54 PM
Looks like Teddy " C-Tahiti Dog " MOUX is coming once again all the way from Tahiti!   cool
24225  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: April DB Tribal Gathering on: March 13, 2009, 05:08:07 PM
Straw Dog:

Craftydog@dogbrothers.com

TAC,
CD
24226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: March 13, 2009, 09:15:02 AM
My initial reaction is that it is a pleasant surprise to see BO dispatch the destroyers.

Maybe these incidents will cause him to reconsider signing the LOST?
24227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Several good ones on: March 13, 2009, 09:03:02 AM
"If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield."

--George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796
===============
The Patriot Post
Friday Digest
13 March 2009
Vol. 09 No. 10

THE FOUNDATION

"It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth -- and listen to the song of that syren, till she transforms us into beasts." --Patrick Henry

PATRIOT PERSPECTIVE
A word from the wise
By Mark Alexander

As our regular readers know, it is customary for The Patriot Post to augment our advocacy for individual liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and our promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values, with the enduring advice of erudite sages, both contemporary and historic.

However, I have a particular affinity for the wisdom of our Founders, those who put their lives and fortunes at acute risk by codifying and supporting our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate guidance, our Constitution.

In regard to the latter, let me be clear: I am NOT referring to the so-called "Living Constitution" as amended by executive licentiousness, congressional avarice and judicial diktat -- the one that politicians have adulterated almost beyond recognition.

Rather, I am referring to our lawful Constitution, that formidable document for which generations of American Patriots in armed service to our country have raised their right hands in solemn oath to "support and defend ... against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

Though Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid suffer their oaths while toasting Clos Du Mesnil champagne over foie gras hors d'oeuvres and imported tournedos, our uniformed American Patriots pledge their very lives in fulfillment of their oaths.

In fact, since our founding, more than 700,000 of our countrymen have been killed in defense of our Constitution, and millions more have suffered greatly in support of their sacred obligation. Thanks in total measure to their sacrifice, we still have an opportunity to restore our Constitution to its original standing, and reinstate its promise of liberty.

At this moment in our great nation's history, we face trying times and formidable enemies, both "foreign and domestic."

Indeed, in the words of Thomas Paine, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

On that note, I turn to just four of our Founders for their eternal wisdom in respect to the troubles of their day, and ours.

George Washington:

"We should never despair, our situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new exertions and proportion our efforts to the exigency of the times. ... The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. ... 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. ... The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. ... [T]he propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained."

John Adams:

"Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom. ... If we suffer [the minds of young people] to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives. ... The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families... How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers? ... We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. ... The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People ... they may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. ... A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."

Thomas Jefferson:

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys. ... The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife. ... We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. ... The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale. ... If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy. ... I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. ... The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. ... [A] wise and frugal government...shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. ... Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question."

James Madison:

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents... If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions. ... The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. ... There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

Those who do not understand our history -- mostly those identified as "liberal" in contemporary vernacular -- assume the words of our Founders are as antiquated as the Declaration and Constitution they created. However, students of history understand that both the threats our Founders confronted at the dawn of our nation, and their advice, have endured to this day.

Indeed, to paraphrase Santayana's aphorism, "They who do not know their history are destined to repeat it."

Quote of the week
"Of all the dispositions and habits which least to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensible supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness -- these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. ... Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths...? Let us with caution indulge the opposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. [R]eason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." --George Washington
24228  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: April DB Tribal Gathering on: March 13, 2009, 12:04:54 AM
Thanks for the heads up.
24229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Guardian: Intel failures on: March 12, 2009, 11:38:53 PM
The Guardian (UK)
March 6, 2009
Pg. 17

Intelligence Failures Crippling Fight Against Insurgents In Afghanistan, Says Report

Leaked analysis condemns US for lack of co-operation

By Peter Beaumont

A highly critical analysis of the US-led coalition's counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan has raised serious questions about combat operations in both countries - and the intelligence underpinning them.

The confidential document presents a bleak picture of a counterinsurgency effort undermined by intelligence failures that at times border on the absurd.

Based on scores of interviews with British, US, Canadian and Dutch military, intelligence and diplomatic officials - and marked for "official use only" - the book-length report is damning of a US military often unwilling to share intelligence among its military allies. It depicts commanders in the field being overwhelmed by information on hundreds of contradictory databases, and sometimes resistant to intelligence generated by its own agents in the CIA.

Counterinsurgency efforts are also shown as being at the mercy of local contacts peddling identical "junk" tips around various intelligence officials, with the effectiveness of the intelligence effort being quantified by some senior officers solely in terms of the amount of "tip money" disbursed to sources.

The report describes a rigid reliance on economic, military and political progress indicators regarded by the authors and interviewees as too often lacking in real meaning.

Its sources complain of commanders who have slipped into relying on "the fallacy of body counts", discredited after the war in Vietnam as a measure of success.

The report, prepared by the RAND national defence research institute for US Joint Forces Command in November and leaked to the Wikileaks website, reveals the case of Dutch F-16 pilots in Afghanistan who were ordered by the US to bomb targets, only to be refused access to American "battle damage assessments" showing what they had hit, on the grounds that the Dutch were not "security cleared" to view them.

Another interviewee describes how coalition forces at Camp Holland near Tarin Kowt in southern Afghanistan maintained 13 different intelligence sections, including US, Dutch, UAE, and Australian, all operating with minimal co-operation.

"It would have been helpful (for us to have) combined them; then we would have known everything," complained Lt Neils Verhoef, one of those interviewed for the report. "One section knew the location of an IED (improvised explosive device) factory, and we drove by it for three months."

The unflattering document will make grim reading for President Barack Obama as he grapples with the worsening crisis in Afghanistan, confronted by an increasingly emboldened Taliban and its allies. With counterinsurgency tactics now placed at the centre of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the RAND report suggests that many of the national armed forces involved lack skills to operate effectively.

It calls for a substantial overhaul of how military intelligence is gathered, organised and acted on. Quoting senior officers, it questions many everyday operations - from weapons searches to the killing or arrest of wanted individuals - suggesting that they "alienate" the local population for little measurable gain.

Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, former the senior British military representative in Iraq, said: "There were some operations taking place in Iraq where the success of the operation . . . was judged solely against whether tactical success had been achieved; tactical success in terms of attrition of enemy forces, numbers killed or captured, numbers of weapons seized, amounts of explosives captured, extent of area controlled. By these criteria . . . a given operation would be judged a success, regardless of the fact that it had seriously alienated the local population, and the fact that, within a few months, other insurgents had re-infiltrated and regained control."

An anonymous source quoted in the report stated that "operational commanders" continued to "indulge in the fallacy of body counts, and a month in which more Taliban are killed than in the previous month" was seen as progress. He added: "This is actually more likely to reflect the fact that there are more enemy on the battlefield than there were before."

Despite the huge emphasis on counterinsurgency tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last two years, the report's authors, Russell Glenn and Jamie Gayton, find it necessary to remind military readers of the importance of the civilian population in their efforts, not least in protecting civilians "against attack by both the enemy and your own forces".

"Those interviewed in support of this research," they wrote, "noted with no little frustration that coalition forces themselves too frequently neglect to treat local community members properly."

Perhaps most damning of all, however, is the suggestion from several of those interviewed that often they felt that an overall strategy for what they were supposed to be doing was entirely lacking.

One of those interviewed was Brigadier General Theo Vleugels, who described his 2006 command experience in southern Afghanistan in terms worthy of a passage from Joseph Heller's Catch 22. "We didn't have a campaign plan when we started, but we later got one from my higher headquarters that was close to ours, which is not surprising as they told us to do what we told them we would do."
24230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 12, 2009, 05:18:05 PM
For the record, apparently the actions described in my post #253 have been reversed due to adverse publicity.
24231  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: April DB Tribal Gathering on: March 12, 2009, 03:11:48 PM
Done.  Thanks for the Zip code.
24232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: March 12, 2009, 12:29:33 PM
"The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virture to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust."

--Alexander Hamilton or James Madison, Federalist No. 57, 19 February 1788
24233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghan Army on: March 12, 2009, 11:43:16 AM

http://www.michaelyon-online.com:80/afghan-national-army.htm
Afghan Army
  Next > 

12 March 2009

There is dispute whether the testimony to the British House of Commons regarding the Afghan National Army is correct.

Part of that testimony was published on my site yesterday.

Colonel Bill Hix emailed to me from Afghanistan with an on-the-ground view.  It is important to note that Colonel Hix is a veteran of Iraq, with much experience in the tough parts of Afghanistan.  I was out with his soldiers in late 2008.  Colonel Hix is highly respected among combat soldiers who don't hand out respect easily.  His views on Afghanistan are highly-informed, cautious and realistic, but definitely more optimistic than are mine.  I greatly respect his highly informed opinion and so it's important to make sure Colonel Hix's counterpoints get wide distribution.  Please link to this dispatch.  (Note to journalists seeking truth on Afghanistan: Colonel Hix is at KAF and is an important source regarding conditions in southern Afghanistan.)

This from Colonel Bill Hix regarding the testimony:

The assertions on ANA unit independence are incorrect.  As well, the ANA is larger than stated in the article, but was only recently authorized by the Bonn Accord constituted Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board to grow beyond 80,000 to 122,000 in structure and 134,000 in end strength.  Even with that increase, neither the ANA nor the ANP are adequate in size, fully equipped, or have enough advisor teams.  However, while far from perfect, they fight, are capable and can operate effectively. 

Some examples from those ANA and ANP forces in the south of Afghanistan:

-75% of the brigade headquarters and 50% of the infantry battalions in the south of Afghanistan are capable of independent action within their organic capabilities.  The combat support and service support battalions are lagging for a variety of reasons, including an absence of branch schools [much of their training comes from the advisor teams embedded with them, on the job training, and mobile training and regional training teams] and the propensity of commanders to use them as infantry due in part to over tasking and inadequate numbers mentioned above.

-In November 2008, the brigade in Zabul province mounted an independent, multi-battalion operation into an enemy sanctuary with almost no Coalition support.  What little support they did receive was limited to one day of ISR support, occasional attack helicopter support, and an EOD team to reduce IEDs found by Afghan engineers [ANA EOD capabilities are still in development] who successfully cleared a two day route of march of without injury or loss of equipment. 

-In October 2008, the Afghans planned and executed the relief of Lashkar Gah [capital of Helmand province -- under the UK Task Force], deploying over 2300 Army and Police into the city and surrounding area from as far as Kabul in less than 2 days, launching operations within 2 days of those forces closing, and sustaining those operations for nearly two weeks.  The operation was planned by the ANA brigade commander and jointly executed by the ANA and ANP under the direction of the ANA brigade commander and in partnership with the ANP provincial Chief of Police.  Except for advisor teams, coalition support and participation was generally limited to ISR and fire support.  This operation was undertaken in response to a threat Afghans government, Army and Police leaders had been highlighting to the Coalition, to little avail, over the preceding two months.  Afghan concerns at one point were dismissed as ‘chasing ghosts.’ To their credit, 3 Commando Brigade, having only recently assumed the TF Helmand mission, focused on enabling this operation which contributed to its success.

-With the exception of one very tough district, every district where the Police have undergone the Focused District Development reform program has seen dramatic drops in civilian casualties and significant drops in police casualties.  Moreover, despite our constant recriminations and obvious shortcomings, including continued corruption, the police poll very highly with the Afghan people and they do fight to protect their people, suffering 3 times the casualties seen by either the ANA or ISAF.

-ANA and ANP units routinely conduct joint cordon and search operations around Kandahar City independent of support from the Coalition.

-Similarly, ANA companies in remote district outposts with their advisers do conduct operations daily.  For example, a series of night ambush operations killed a number of Taliban leaders who threatened locals with death if they came to the local market, and broke the intimidation of the population and restored security and local commerce in the area.

None of this to suggest they are perfect, but they are far better and capable than most of our Coalition partners will admit or allow.

Not sure what you meant by AOG, but if you mean Afghan Opposition Groups, the AOGs suffer significant casualties when fighting the Coalition and, absent IED attacks, most often when fighting the ANSF, especially the ANA.

24234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Davy Crockett on: March 12, 2009, 01:52:30 AM
"We have rights, as individuals, to give as much of our own money as we please to charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of public money." --American hunter, frontiersman, soldier and politician Davy Crockett (1786-1836)
24235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: March 12, 2009, 01:47:26 AM
Wow, just wow.  cry
24236  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers.....The Stick....and The Fox on: March 12, 2009, 01:21:41 AM
I supplied the footage to OP.  That particular fight appears in  , , , I think it was our DVD "Los Triques".
24237  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: April 2009 US Gathering on: March 12, 2009, 01:15:49 AM
My brother's place is confirmed.

Woof All:

A word of explanation here for those who missed the discussion in a different thread.  The way we do it now, the April Gathering is for DB Tribe only and the Sept Gathering is the Open Gathering.

"Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact" (c)
Crafty Dog
GF
24238  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Grandfathers Speak Vol. 2: Sonny Umpad on: March 12, 2009, 01:14:26 AM
"On a personal note, your visit to film Maestro Sonny gave me the opportunity to connect with you and the community of DBMA which has been awesome, and I hope to continue exchanging ideas and learning new things in the spirit of walking like a warrior through all my days." 

Whoops!  I missed this until just now embarassed

I too look forward to continuing to exchange ideas.  When next shalll we get together?  Shoot me an email and let me know.
24239  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Agradecimiento de cada dia on: March 11, 2009, 09:57:21 PM
Em momentos asi si' se sabe el valor verdadera de las cosas.
24240  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: March 11, 2009, 09:56:22 PM
Acabo de re-leer ese post.

La verdad es que no tengo ni el menor idea.  No he visto hamas otro referencia al caso, el post no tiene URL ni otra referencia que me permite saber si es digna de fe o si vale el tiempo de investigar.

Si' se que a veces hay desacuerdo sobre si algo se define segun le internacional como "isla" o "small rock that sticks out of water at low tide" la cual no rinde derechos del usufructo del territoria maritima etc.    Supongo que como parte del proceso de llegar a un acuerdo, que se hablaba de eso-- si la piedra/isla todavia existiera.
24241  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers.....The Stick....and The Fox on: March 11, 2009, 09:36:23 PM
Allen Bridgeman.  The last time I spoke with him was a few years back and he said he was headed off to China to study.    I tried contacting him recently about the TV show but my contact info was not current.
24242  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Sityondong vs. Forrester on: March 11, 2009, 09:33:58 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlKe1gJf17s&feature=related

Impressive Sityondong including one of the slickest spinning elbows I've seen.
24243  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: March 11, 2009, 09:32:44 PM
I hope the discussion about referees will keep going.

Changing subjects for the moment, how did the Jackson-Jardine fight go?  The other fights?
24244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: March 11, 2009, 09:13:20 PM
Saw this on another forum-- I have no idea as the the validity of the source, but find the question about the likely dramatic decline of Chinese exports and the domestic consequences thereof to be an interesting one.

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



In this Global Guerrillas post John Robb talks about the effect a global depression might have on China.

I've included the comments as well.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009
JOURNAL: Will China Survive a Depression? Don't bet on it...

The surge in China’s exports could prove to be as unsustainable as the rise in US (and some European) home prices. They might end up being mirror images … as Americans and Europeans could only import so much from China so long as they could borrow against rising home prices. Brad Setser, CFR blog.

China's exports cratered in February, a drop of 25.7%, in line with the drops in exports experienced by other mercantilist countries (Japan, Germany, Korea, and Taiwan). However, unlike those countries, China doesn't have an organic source of legitimacy except for its ability to deliver economic growth. As I have said earlier, the real threat from China isn't that is a potential peer competitor (a device used to sell big weapon systems), its that it could collapse:

So, what happens when China's high performance, globally connected capitalist economy which is flying at dangerously high speeds hits the inevitable speed bump? The answer is: it will derail (hollow out and fragment). The chaos it will produce in SE Asia is the real threat we have to deal with. Predicting the black swan that kicks off the death spiral is impossible, but as we have seen in other export-oriented Asian economies the shock will likely be economic. At that point, the dream of upward ascent and rising expectations, reinforced by global media, will be seen as a lie.

In anticipation of this, the Chinese government is following the lead of many other nations by radically improving the capabilities of its paramilitary force for domestic security (to the tune of one million men). However, this many not be enough. Global guerrilla theory indicates that the endemic corruption will combine with the same forces of anti-state guerrilla action we have seen in other places in an attempt to disconnect portions of China from the central government... (it will work).

Posted by John Robb on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 at 01:09 PM | Permalink
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24245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Wakhan Corridor on: March 11, 2009, 12:11:31 PM
Afghanistan: The Difficulties of the Wakhan Corridor
STRATFOR Today » March 10, 2009 | 2104 GMT

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Afghan children in a makeshift classroom in a village in the Wakhan CorridorSummary
The Wakhan Corridor, a narrow strip of land connecting Afghanistan directly to China, appears on a map to be an attractive alternative supply route for U.S. and NATO military efforts in Afghanistan. However, the corridor is problematic from both a geographic and an infrastructural standpoint, and China has qualms about getting involved in the Afghan conflict there.

Analysis
Related Links
The Geopolitics of China: A Great Power Enclosed
U.S., Afghanistan: Challenges to a Troop Surge
Afghanistan, Pakistan: The Battlespace of the Border
Afghanistan: Hurry Up and Wait
The United States and NATO reportedly have been discussing logistical alternatives for the Afghan campaign with China in yet another effort to secure alternative and supplemental supply routes because of the deteriorating situation in Pakistan. Washington and its NATO allies have been working on similar arrangements with the Russians and Central Asian states and are even discussing such a route with the Iranians. Though conceptually attractive, the Chinese proposition for an alternate route is particularly problematic.

The United States has been searching for alternative and supplemental supply routes to support the Afghan campaign since the true depth of Pakistan’s crisis began to become clear. This led Washington straight into Russian territory — an area where the White House already has enough problems. Thus, a supplemental Chinese route is attractive, as it theoretically could take away some of Moscow’s leverage at the negotiating table.





(click image to enlarge)
The Wakhan Corridor looks attractive on a map because it slips cleanly between the Pakistani problem and the Russian problem. Demarcated by the British at the end of the 19th century, the river valley that runs the length of the corridor supposedly was once a trade route for caravans carrying trade goods between East and Central Asia.

Shaped a bit like an arched finger, the Wakhan Corridor is an extension of Afghanistan’s Tajik-dominated Badakhshan province. The corridor’s main borders touch Tajikistan to the north and Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Northern Areas to the south. The corridor has a tiny frontier that runs along China’s Muslim province of Xinjiang to the east.

The Taliban — even in their heyday prior to 9/11 — did not get that far north because of the heavily Tajik-populated area that stood between their forces and the Wakhan Corridor. Furthermore, the Pakistani regions of Chitral and Gilgit serve as buffers between Wakhan and the Pakistani Talibanized areas in the tribal belt and the NWFP, which might help insulate the route from fighting in Pakistan to some degree. Though the terrain is well-suited to guerrilla fighting and the long route would be vulnerable to ambushes from the mountains, the ethnic Tajik makeup of the region significantly undercuts the likelihood of ambushes. In fact, the locals would be happy to have NATO sending supplies through their territory, because it would help contain their Taliban enemies.

But the mountains surrounding Wakhan are some of the highest and most rugged in the world; the territory makes the rest of Afghanistan look easily accessible by comparison. The route is closed nearly half the year due to weather, and the roads in the valley are rough, unimproved and usually single-lane dirt roads. Though a few bridges exist, it is not clear whether they can bear heavy loads, and the area is isolated from Afghanistan’s road network — as notoriously poor as it is — which is not accessible until Eshkashem. It is some 30 miles from the border to more established Chinese roads, and China’s rail and road infrastructure does not even connect directly with the narrow border. However, any other route through the corridor would require U.S. and NATO supplies to travel through Central Asian territory, which is heavily influenced by Moscow — thus negating the benefits of the Chinese alternative.

Basically, a massive and time-consuming infrastructure investment would be necessary on both sides of the border to make the Wakhan Corridor serve as a meaningful logistical link to Afghanistan for the shipment of supplies for the U.S. and NATO efforts there. Even if the Chinese could be convinced to acquiesce, the endeavor would take years to complete and have a high cost — exactly what logistics officers seek to avoid. And then there is the remainder of the long, tortuous route between China’s coastal seaports and its far west to consider.

But the Afghan campaign is popular with neither the Chinese public nor the central government. This sentiment has more to do with Beijing’s discomfort with a U.S. invasion of any other country and with China’s sensitivity about geographic security than with any detail of the Afghan campaign itself. Although Beijing is looking to get more actively involved in international efforts, the Afghan campaign is particularly problematic, as it could unnecessarily aggravate the Muslim minority population in northwestern China. Also, any infrastructural improvements might ease the transit of Islamist fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan into Chinese territory — and China already has its hands full with internal security concerns. Finally, given the recent rise in tensions on the high seas in East Asia, movement on the logistical issue is looking even more problematic.

Though discussions clearly are taking place, it is not surprising that China has politely rebuffed the logistical feelers so far. They hardly need to offer any other justification, but since they have been asked, the Chinese have brought broader and longer-term issues to the table — suggesting, for instance, that far more significant concessions (like on the current Western ban on arms sales to China) will be necessary for any meaningful movement on the issue. But while there are areas where China might be willing to cooperate, the bottom line on the logistical issue is geographic reality — a reality that only a significant investment in infrastructure and time can change.
24246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: March 11, 2009, 10:04:29 AM
He has withdrawn his nomination;

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...RFXf8&refer=us
24247  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / a site on: March 11, 2009, 08:47:14 AM
Perhaps of interest

http://www.sportsinjurybulletin.com/archive/1090-lower-back-spams.htm
24248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some justices willing to hear BO' on: March 11, 2009, 08:30:51 AM
World Net Daily is not a particularly reliable source, and in the opinion of some, this is a crank subject-- but if we stay with logic alone, I do not see why the proof of BO's qualifications should not be seen by everyone.
================

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Lawyer confronts justice about prez's qualifications



By Bob Unruh


WorldNetDaily

A lawyer lobbying the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Supreme Court for a review of Barack Obama's qualifications to be president says a key conservative justice has hinted that another conservative justice has been voting against hearing the dispute.

According to Orly Taitz, a California attorney working through her Defend Our Freedoms Foundation on several cases challenging Obama, said she was presented with an opportunity to ask a question of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday.

The issue of Obama's eligibility has been raised before the Supreme Court at least four times already but has yet to be given a single hearing. Cases have been brought by Taitz, Philip Berg, Cort Wrotnowski and Leo Donofrio.

While the requests have been heard "in conference" by the justices, no hearings have resulted on the evidence. WND previously has reported that cases brought to individual justices on an emergency basis can be discussed in such conferences, but they need the affirmative vote from four justices before a hearing on the merits can be scheduled.

The Supreme Court today is considered to have mainly a 4-4 conservative-liberal split, with one swing vote on most issues. On the conservative side generally are Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Anthony Kennedy often is the swing vote.  The liberal side frequently includes Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens.

No explanations on the court's response to the Obama citizenship issue have been offered until now.

Taitz reported she attended a reception for Scalia and stood "right by the mic, just to make sure I have an opportunity to ask a question. Only four lawyers out of about 300 in the audience got to ask their questions and I was lucky to be one of them."

She said, "I told Scalia that I was an attorney that filed Lightfoot v. Bowen that Chief Justice Roberts distributed for conference on Jan. 23 and now I represent nine state reps and 120 military officers, many of them high ranked, and I want to know if they will hear Quo Warranto and if they would hear it on original jurisdiction, if I bring Hawaii as an additional defendant to unseal the records and ascertain Obama's legitimacy for presidency."

Taitz said she had some worries asking the question.

"I have to say that I prepared myself to a lot of boo-ing, knowing that Los Angeles trial lawyers and entertainment elite are Obama's stronghold, however there was no boo-ing, no negative remarks," she said. "I actually could see a lot of approving nods, smiles, many gasped and listened intensely. I could tell, that even Obama's strongest supporters wanted to know the answer.

"Scalia stated that it would be heard if I can get four people to hear it. He repeated, you need four for the argument. I got a feeling that he was saying that one of these four that call themselves constitutionalists went to the other side," Taitz said.

"He did not say that it is a political question, he did not say that it is for the legislature to decide. For example, right after me another attorney has asked him about his case of taxing some Internet commerce and right away Scalia told him that he should address it with the legislature. He did not say it to me. He did not say that Quo Warranto is antiquated or not appropriate. No, just get four," she said.

She then bought Scalia's book and waited in line to get it autographed.

"I gave him the books to sign and asked, 'Tell me what to do, what can I do, those soldiers [her plaintiffs] can be court-martialed for asking a legitimate question, who is the president, is he legitimate.' He said, 'Bring the case, I'll hear it, I don't know about others.'"

Taitz' latest effort is a case of Quo Warranto submitted to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

The legal phrase essentially means an explanation is being demanded for what authority Obama is using to act as president. An online constitutional resource says Quo Warranto "affords the only judicial remedy for violations of the Constitution by public officials and agents."

The plaintiffs allege Obama failed to submit prima facie evidence of his qualifications before Jan. 20, 2009.

"Election officers failed to challenge, validate or evaluate his qualifications. Relators submit that as president elect, Respondent Obama failed [tO] qualify per U.S. CONST. Amend. XX [paragraph] 3," the document said.

John Eidsmoe, an expert on the U.S. Constitution working with the Foundation on Moral Law, said the demand is a legitimate course of action.

"She basically is asking, 'By what authority' is Obama president," he told WND. "In other words, 'I want you to tell me by what authority. I don't really think you should hold the office.'"

Taitz said Americans should flood Holder's office with calls, e-mails and faxes, urging him to take action on the case.

WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama's status as a "natural born citizen." The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President."

Some of the lawsuits question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama's American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.

Other challenges have focused on Obama's citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.

Where's the proof Barack Obama was born in the U.S. or that he fulfills the "natural-born American" clause in the Constitution? If you still want to see it, join more than 300,000 others and sign up now!

Although Obama officials have told WND all such allegations are "garbage," here is a partial listing and status update for some of the cases over Obama's eligibility:

New Jersey attorney Mario Apuzzo has filed a case on behalf of Charles Kerchner and others alleging Congress didn't properly ascertain that Obama is qualified to hold the office of president.

Pennsylvania Democrat Philip Berg has three cases pending, including Berg vs. Obama in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a separate Berg vs. Obama which is under seal at the U.S. District Court level and Hollister vs. Soetoro a/k/a Obama, (now dismissed) brought on behalf of a retired military member who could be facing recall to active duty by Obama.


Leo Donofrio of New Jersey filed a lawsuit claiming Obama's dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court but denied a full hearing.

Cort Wrotnowski filed suit against Connecticut's secretary of state, making a similar argument to Donofrio. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court, but was denied a full hearing.

Former presidential candidate Alan Keyes headlines a list of people filing a suit in California, in a case handled by the United States Justice Foundation, that asks the secretary of state to refuse to allow the state's 55 Electoral College votes to be cast in the 2008 presidential election until Obama verifies his eligibility to hold the office. The case is pending, and lawyers are seeking the public's support.

Chicago attorney Andy Martin sought legal action requiring Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle to release Obama's vital statistics record. The case was dismissed by Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Bert Ayabe.


Lt. Col. Donald Sullivan sought a temporary restraining order to stop the Electoral College vote in North Carolina until Barack Obama's eligibility could be confirmed, alleging doubt about Obama's citizenship. His case was denied.


In Ohio, David M. Neal sued to force the secretary of state to request documents from the Federal Elections Commission, the Democratic National Committee, the Ohio Democratic Party and Obama to show the presidential candidate was born in Hawaii. The case was denied.


Also in Ohio, there was the Greenberg v. Brunner case which ended when the judge threatened to assess all case costs against the plaintiff.


In Washington state, Steven Marquis sued the secretary of state seeking a determination on Obama's citizenship. The case was denied.


In Georgia, Rev. Tom Terry asked the state Supreme Court to authenticate Obama's birth certificate. His request for an injunction against Georgia's secretary of state was denied by Georgia Superior Court Judge Jerry W. Baxter.

California attorney Orly Taitz has brought a case, Lightfoot vs. Bowen, on behalf of Gail Lightfoot, the vice presidential candidate on the ballot with Ron Paul, four electors and two registered voters.
In addition, other cases cited on the RightSideofLife blog as raising questions about Obama's eligibility include:

In Texas, Darrel Hunter vs. Obama later was dismissed.


In Ohio, Gordon Stamper vs. U.S. later was dismissed.


In Texas, Brockhausen vs. Andrade.


In Washington, L. Charles Cohen vs. Obama.


In Hawaii, Keyes vs. Lingle, dismissed.

24249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on: March 11, 2009, 08:25:37 AM
"If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, & talk by the hour? That 150 lawyers should do business together ought not to be expected."

--Thomas Jefferson, autobiography, 1821
24250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Talented foreigners; H1B visas on: March 11, 2009, 08:01:17 AM
Bank of America, citing a provision of the stimulus package that became law last month, is rescinding job offers to foreign-born students graduating from U.S. business schools this summer. Protectionists will applaud, no doubt. But denying companies access to talented workers born outside the U.S. will neither jump-start the economy nor serve the nation's long-term interests.

The stated purpose of the amendment, which was sponsored by Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, is "to prohibit any recipient of TARP funding from hiring H-1B visa holders." Press reports have suggested that these visa holders are displacing U.S. workers.

Mr. Sanders cited an especially misleading Associated Press story, which said that the major banks requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years. "Even as the economy collapsed last year and many financial workers found themselves unemployed," said AP, "the dozen U.S. banks now receiving the biggest rescue packages requested visas for tens of thousand of foreign workers to fill high-paying jobs."

What the story left out is that companies file multiple applications for each available slot to comply with Department of Labor wage rules for H-1B hires. By focusing on how many applications were filed rather than how many foreign workers were hired, the story exaggerates actual visa use. In fact, H-1B visa holders have been a negligible percentage of financial industry hires in recent years. In 2007, for instance, Citigroup hired 185 H-1B workers, which represented .04% of its 387,000 employees. Bank of America hired 66 H-1B workers, which represented .03% of its 210,000 employees.

The reality is that cumbersome labor regulations and fees make foreign professionals more expensive to hire than Americans, which undercuts the argument that the banks were looking for cheap labor and explains why H-1B applications tend to fall during economic downturns. But far from displacing U.S. workers, H-1B hires have been associated with an increase in total employment.

A 2008 study of the tech industry by the National Foundation for American Policy found that for every H-1B position requested, U.S. technology companies in the S&P 500 increase their employment by five workers. America must compete in a global economy, and if U.S. companies can't hire these skilled workers -- many of whom graduate from U.S. universities, by the way -- you can bet foreign competitors will.
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