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24251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 6 killed near Egytian border on: August 18, 2011, 08:50:22 AM


Jerusalem (CNN) -- At least six people were killed and more than two dozen others were injured in southern Israel when attackers fired shots at a bus, assaulted Israeli soldiers, and fired mortars and an anti-tank missile.


The assault occurred about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Israeli city of Eilat -- close to the Israeli-Egyptian border. Israeli soldiers exchanged gunfire with the assailants.


"This is a serious terrorist attack in a number of locations," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.


"The event reflects the weakening of Egyptian control over Sinai and the expansion of the activity of terrorist forces. The origin of these acts of terror is in Gaza and we will act against them in our full force and determination."
24252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: European matters on: August 18, 2011, 12:20:40 AM
EU Leaders Face A Crossroads In European Integration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met in Paris today to prepare for the next meeting of European Union heads of government. At the conclusion of their summit, the pair announced a series of measures meant to push European integration forward.

Instead of addressing Europe’s short-term financial crisis, the two leaders focused on longer-term fiscal and political issues. Specifically, they announced that France and Germany would unify their corporate tax systems within five years and that the countries would together push for debt limits to be written into eurozone-member constitutions. They also agreed to advocate for governance measures to reinforce Europe’s economy.

Markets were left puzzled. The European financial crisis is now in its twentieth month. As recently as a few days ago, many observers were expecting bailouts for Spain, defaults in Italy and downgrades in France. Why would Europe’s top leaders choose to introduce measures that will require a new treaty, while the European project is already struggling so badly on its current terms?

“Considering that the Germans are in the process of rewiring the EU to suit their own national preferences, the entire premise behind EU membership for many states rests on precarious ground. “
What the markets often lose sight of is that this situation is not only — or even primarily — a financial and economic crisis. France originally intended European integration as a means to bolster its international position. Germany was shattered after the conclusion of World War II. The French picked up the pieces and, by initiating the process that eventually led to the creation of the European Union, Paris refashioned Germany into a platform from which France could project power. This system used German strength to entice other states to join the growing union. France promised three things: that European states would be more important collectively; that members would become rich by relying on German wealth; and that Germany would never again be in a position to hurt other European states.

By the middle part of the last decade, though, Germans had outgrown sixty years of policymaking shaped by what can be best described as an extended national apology. Germany began acting like a real country again. Real countries have many characteristics in common. They obviously like to speak for themselves, and they don’t like to be taken advantage of by their neighbors.

Germany started using its superior economic position to rework EU institutions to its liking. Until now, France has cooperated, driven by a mix of inertia, opportunity and fear. Inertia because it takes more than a few years to admit that after two generations, the ability to feed off the strengths of another economy without paying any price is gone. Nevertheless, opportunity still motivates because Paris may yet prove able to manage Germany and ride on its coattails. Fear of what might happen should Germany outgrow France also fuels Parisian cooperation.

The European economy is hardly a zero sum game. However, in the modern European system, economics is the glue that has held together the unstable political alignments of the post-World War II order. And that glue is not sticking like it once did.

Of the three main benefits that drew states into the European Union, two — that European states are more important collectively, and that other states can become rich thanks to German wealth — are no longer in play. The European Union’s efforts at political and military unification can best be described as stillborn. Economically, the current crisis has robbed the European Union of much of its shine. Data released today put collective EU growth at an unenviable 0.2 percent compared to the previous quarter. French growth came in at a flat zero. If the European Union cannot guarantee importance or wealth, then its remaining raison d’etre comes down to keeping the Germans in line. Considering that the Germans are in the process of rewiring the union to suit their own national preferences, the entire premise behind EU membership for many states rests on precarious ground.

Against this backdrop sits a massive disconnect between what the European elites — especially in the financial sector – desire and what the general population prefers. The elites have invested seventy years and tens of trillions of euros (once financial assistance, bond purchases and cross-collateralization of debt are all added up) to make European institutions work. The European Union is the key to their political and economic positions. They have already made it clear that they will pay any price to keep the European Union alive.

However, the average German, Frenchman or Latvian feels somewhat differently. With the benefits of the European system losing their luster, questions are starting to be asked about not just the EU institutions, but about whether European leaders are still fit to lead. Polls regularly indicate that half of Germans want the deutschemark back, and more than half think the Greeks should be unceremoniously ejected from the eurozone. So far these attitudes have not translated into a rejection of any major state’s political mainstream — but the Germans’ general disgust with the bailout programs is hardly an enthusiastic endorsement.

24253  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 17, 2011, 08:48:06 PM
GM:  Remind me to tell you of the carjacking I foiled using exactly this technique.  In the meantime, please don't be obtuse  cheesy  

PS: PC is quite correct  wink grin
24254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Schultz apologizes on: August 17, 2011, 12:44:47 PM
24255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Canadian Muslim: Islamic Fascism reaching into White House and much more on: August 17, 2011, 12:34:44 PM
24256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Increasing inflation on the way on: August 17, 2011, 11:57:20 AM
Data Watch

The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 0.2% in July To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 8/17/2011

The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 0.2% in July, a larger increase than the consensus expected (0.1%).  Producer prices are up 7.2% versus a year ago.

The increase in PPI in July was largely due to food prices which rose 0.6%.  Energy prices fell 0.6%. The “core” PPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.4%, a worrisome, and large, jump.
Consumer goods prices gained 0.1% in July and are up 9.1% versus last year.  Capital equipment prices were up 0.4% in July and are up 1.8% in the past year.
Core intermediate goods prices increased 0.2% in July and are up 7.8% versus a year ago.  Core crude prices rose 0.7% in July and are up 27.0% in the past twelve months.
Implications:  The Federal Reserve is in a bind. The overall producer price index rose a moderate 0.2% in July (7.2% year-over-year), but the "core" PPI, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.4% (2.5% YOY).  At 2.5%, the 12-month increase in “core” producer prices may seem small to many, but these prices are up at a 3.9% annual rate in the past three months – a worrisome increase.  Given that the Fed has used low core price inflation to justify QE2 and 0% interest rates, the acceleration in these prices during recent months creates a serious dilemma.  At the least, it would seem to make a third round of quantitative easing very, very difficult, if not impossible, to justify.  This is especially true because further up the production pipeline, inflation is even worse.  “Core” intermediate prices – components and parts in the production pipeline – rose 0.2% in July and are up 7.8% versus a year ago.  “Core” crude prices – the raw materials of production – are up 27% in the past year.  As a result, it is hard to see producer or consumer prices moderating anytime soon.  Inflation is a clear and present danger and the Fed is behind the curve.
24257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / When in doubt, STFU. on: August 17, 2011, 09:54:10 AM
24258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson on property 1788 on: August 17, 2011, 09:42:07 AM
"He who is permitted by law to have no property of his own, can with difficulty conceive that property is founded in anything but force." --Thomas Jefferson, to Bancroft, 1788
24259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spencer: The Sharia Question on: August 17, 2011, 09:38:09 AM

In Human Events this morning I discuss the plethora of pro-Sharia candidates and hopefuls. Can't we have a few more pro-freedom, anti-Sharia candidates?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has set many a heart a-flutter by joining the hunt for the Republican presidential nomination, but not so fast: Hard-Left advocacy journalist Justin Elliott of Salon hailed Perry as the “pro-Sharia candidate,” and exulted that Perry “is a friend of the the Aga Khan, the religious leader of the Ismailis, a sect of Shia Islam that claims a reported 15 to 20 million adherents worldwide. Sprouting from that friendship are at least two cooperation agreements between the state of Texas and Ismaili institutions, including a far-reaching program to educate Texas schoolchildren about Islam.”
The Ismailis are a peaceful sect, but such educational efforts are unlikely to be honest about the Islamic texts and teachings that jihad terrorists use to justify violence and make recruits among peaceful Muslims. Nor are they likely to be forthright about Islam’s bloody history of war against and conquest and subjugation of Jews, Christians, Hindus and others. All that is likely to be whitewashed, especially given Perry’s apparent friendship with Republican power broker Grover Norquist​.

David Horowitz wrote years ago that Norquist was working with “prominent Islamic radicals who have ties to the Saudis and to Libya and to Palestine Islamic Jihad​, and who are now under indictment by U.S. authorities.” Norquist is unrepentant and continues to partner with Islamic supremacists.

Also among the presidential hopefuls, albeit as yet undeclared, is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who this year appointed a Muslim attorney, Sohail Mohammed, to a Superior Court judgeship in Passaic County. Mohammed was the lawyer for Mohammad Qatanani​, a Muslim Brotherhood​ operative who pleaded guilty to membership in the jihad terror group Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Christie knew this, yet called Qatanani “a man of great good will” and “a constructive force,” and fought Department of Homeland Security efforts to deport him. When challenged, Christie defended his actions and went out of his way to slam opposition to Sharia in the U.S. as “crap.”

Is Qatanani entitled to legal representation? Of course. Should Mohammed's taking of the case stigmatize him as sympathetic with Qatanani's pro-jihad views and ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood? Certainly not. But when Christie praises Qatanani as a “constructive force” and fights his deportation despite knowing of his membership in a jihad terror group (Hamas) and the Islamic supremacist group par excellence (the Muslim Brotherhood), and then appoints his lawyer to a judgeship, it becomes clear what is going on here.

Then there is Herman Cain​, who started out strongly, albeit with some clumsily worded statements, as the only candidate who manifested a deep awareness of the magnitude of the threat from Islamic law, a comprehensive political system that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience and the equality of rights of all people before the law. Islamic law has now been a determining factor in court cases in 23 states, so this is no trivial matter, and Cain seemed determined to resist its advance in the United States.

Determined, that is, until he met with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked All Dulles Area Muslim Society—the ADAMS Center. Cain then issued a statement saying he was “humble and contrite for any statements I have made that might have caused offense to Muslim Americans and their friends,” and “truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it.”

Betrayed his commitment to the U.S. Constitution by appearing determined to fight against a serious threat to it? Betrayed his commitment to the freedom of religion by resisting a radically intolerant ideology that mandates second-class status for all people who believe differently?

Herman Cain will never be President of the United States, and that’s a good thing. His only distinctive position in this campaign was his opposition to Sharia, and now that he has surrendered to pro-Sharia Islamic supremacists, there is nothing noteworthy about his campaign at all. He joins Perry, Mitt “Jihadism Is Not Islam” Romney, Ron “They’re Terrorists Because We’re Occupiers” Paul and the rest in their general myopia about the nature of the threat we face, and cluelessness about what to do about it.

If any of these woefully inadequate candidates gets the Republican nomination and defeats Barack Obama​, the only certainty for the subsequent four years will be more jihad, aided and abetted by shortsighted U.S. policies.

24260  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kidnapping in Pakistan on: August 17, 2011, 09:33:48 AM
Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the recent abduction of an American citizen in Pakistan and discusses ways expats can protect themselves while abroad.

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

This week’s Above the Tearline, we thought we would examine the abduction of an American ex-pat in Lahore, Pakistan, with an eye towards ex-pat security.

Last weekend Warren Weinstein, an employee of JE Austin Company, a USAID contractor in Lahore, Pakistan, was abducted from his home at 3 o’clock in the morning. Motivation-wise we don’t know whether or not this was a criminal abduction or a hostage taking for the purposes of some sort of political statement. One of the fears you have in any kind of abduction would be the potential for the hostage to be sold to a terrorist organization.

The police are looking at the potential for some degree of complicity either with household staff or security guards hired to protect the residents. Having investigated many hostage takings overseas, there are two components that I want to bring to your attention. The first being: it’s important that you have trusted and vetted security as well as household staff that you’re bringing into your home to rule out the potential for an inside job or complicity.

The second thing that is critical is making sure that you have a good safe haven inside your apartment or house to retreat to. A safe haven would be a location that is hardened up. It has either hardened doors or a hardened frame that will enable you to lock the door and retreat to in the times of emergency. Ideally you would have a ability to communicate from that safe haven with an outside line or a cell phone that’s stored there so you can call for help.

In examining the video from the crime scene, I saw something that caught my eye that needs to be looked into. Whether or not this has anything to do with the case, it’s the kind of lead that you need to run down. I think it looks like the individual had personalized license plates or license plates that were issued to the car, which would make it very easy to identify the individual operating that vehicle. Case and point: in one of the investigations I worked involving Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Yousef and the informant that we subsequently worked that led to Yousef’s arrest walked around Islamabad, Pakistan, and was able to identify U.S. and British residents based on license plates that were parked in their driveway. And I’m wondering, in this case, whether or not the very unique license plates led to the individual’s location being identified to the criminal abductors or to the potential terrorist organization.

The Above the Tearline aspect of this video is: complacency had probably done Mr. Weinstein in. He’d been in and out of Pakistan for seven years — probably the last thing he’s thinking about is something happening to him. It’s important that long-term expats maintain a high degree of situational awareness and revisit their security posture.

24261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Medved: The Iowa debate on: August 17, 2011, 08:52:01 AM
Some merit in the criticisms here I think, though I disagree with the praise of the questioning; I thought Newt was right.
GOP Should Learn from Debate Mistakes It’s probably a good thing that coverage of the Iowa Straw Poll and Rick Perry’s announcement of candidacy upstaged the discussion about the televised GOP debate two days before. That two hour encounter highlighted profound problems with the Republican field and increased the widespread yearning for some additional Republican choices. In fact, Rick Perry emerged as the clear winner of the debate because he displayed the good sense not to show up.

The losers? All of the eight candidates who stood on the stage, sniping at each other and looking unserious and unpresidential. The Republican Party lost as well: with Americans increasingly sour on Barack Obama, the Ames debate offered an obvious chance to show that the GOP offered constructive, refreshing, hopeful alternatives. Instead the candidates looked petty and petulant and full of bile—angry at the world in general, at their opponents, and, in the case of Newt Gingrich, full of righteous indignation at the moderators from Fox News.

In fact, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier also emerged as conspicuous winners, since their tough, needling interrogation, probing each candidate’s embarrassments, blunders, and contradictions (what Newt described as “gotcha” questions) should serve to rebut ongoing charges from the left that Fox functions as a partisan, cheerleading wing of the Republican Party. If the panel put comparably nasty and insistent questions to President Obama or Vice President Biden, David Axelrod and Jay Carney would no doubt holler foul.

Of course, no one forced the contenders to respond to these challenges in the self-destructive style that most of them chose.When baited to confront each other and to abandon the restraints of “Minnesota Nice,” both Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty promptly and disastrously obliged. Pawlenty in particular felt forced to display a more aggressive style after his widely panned performance in the New Hampshire debate in June, when he pointedly declined to confront Mitt Romney on his health-care reform in Massachusetts. This time he not only stood by his gibe about “Obamneycare” but managed a gratuitous dig at his rival’s wealth: When saying he’d come over and mow the lawn of anyone who could find an Obama plan for economic recovery, he added that if Mitt won the prize he’d only cover the first acre of Romney’s presumably vast swaths of greenery.

Pawlenty also made the fair point that Bachmann had achieved nothing in Congress and that for all her talk about a “titanium spine,” the major fights she emphasizes in her campaign boasts—against TARP, Obamacare, the debt ceiling deal—all proved to be losing battles. It didn’t help T-Paw, however, that Bachmann looked hurt, dazed, and almost deflated at his criticism; she never answered him with a persuasive citation of any legislative accomplishment. Instead, she offered outrageous lies about Pawlenty’s gubernatorial record—claiming he’d said the era of small government was over, or that he imposed cap and trade—that quickly provoked appropriate scolds from some of the truth-squadding crews that try to clean up the factual detritus that follows such events.

Under the “what might have been” category, Bachmann could have enhanced her stature and her status as Iowa front-runner, had she smiled back at the taunts from Pawlenty and the moderators, placing herself above the fray. “Actually, I always supported Tim when he was governor of my state—because he was a good governor,” she could have said. “And I’m surprised to hear him speaking about me as he has tonight, because he’s always provided generous support in all my congressional races. If he really thought I wasn’t accomplishing anything, why did he help campaign for my reelection? And the fact is, Tim and I agree on most issues, as do all of us on this stage. It’s just a question of who can offer the sharpest contrast with Barack Obama—who can paint in bright, primary colors, not pale pastels, as Ronald Reagan used to say. I know I have the passion and the toughness and the clarity on the issues to take the fight to the president.”

Had she responded in that style, she could have empowered her candidacy, as she did in the New Hampshire debate, when she seemed vastly more energetic and zesty and positive. The key difference? This time Bachmann didn’t look as if she were enjoying herself; none of the candidates did.

Perhaps most uncomfortable (and disastrous) of them all was the new kid on the block, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who badly fumbled a precious opportunity to differentiate himself from his competitors. Questioners pressed him on two issues on which Huntsman’s position corresponds to the American mainstream and even to a plurality of self-described Republicans, according to polls: his support for civil unions for same-sex couples (not gay marriage) and for a path to earned legalization for undocumented immigrants (not blanket amnesty). On both issues, Huntsman could have made firm, conservative arguments on behalf of his positions and come across as a straight shooter—a plain-talking Westerner who might disagree with some primary voters but could still win their respect by courageously and clearly making his case. Instead, he punted and dodged, repeatedly (and irrelevantly) asking people to examine his Utah record to prove his right-wing bona fides. Considering Utah’s status as, arguably, the most rock-ribbed red state in the union, it hardly makes Huntsman a pillar of conservative righteousness that he compiled a more rightist record there than did Pawlenty and Romney in liberal Minnesota and Massachusetts. And speaking of Romney, his polished, suave demeanor served him well, as usual. As the widely perceived front-runner, he gains by avoiding stumbles (as he did) and by his superior mastery of television mechanics (finding the camera, listening earnestly and respectfully to his opponents).

The sad news for Republicans is that the two candidates who gave the most impressive performance in terms of substance and forceful argument, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, have no war chests, no campaign organization, and no chance of winning anything of note in caucuses or primaries.

Meanwhile, the two candidates considered the front-runners for the crucial straw poll in Ames on Saturday, Bachmann and Ron Paul, looked utterly inconceivable as president of the United States. When Paul faced the obvious question of whether he actually expected his radical program (ditching our current monetary system, restoring the gold standard) to miraculously clear a divided Congress, he seemed flustered and disarmed, revealing his underlying aim of advancing ideas rather than winning the White House. The wild cheering from his claque in the big crowd gathered at Iowa State University only added to the sense that Paulestinians represent a quasi-religious cult unconcerned with real-world results, à la the relentless, glassy-eyed followers of Lyndon LaRouche. Paul’s repeated, energetic denunciations of U.S. “militarism” also sounded a jarring note in a party that has always revered our men and women in uniform.

The presence of eight candidates dividing time and attention made each of them seem smaller and reduced the credibility of the more serious contenders by putting them on equal footing with hopeless, long-shot distractions like Paul, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum, who really should be running to reclaim his Senate seat in Pennsylvania. One can only hope that by the time of the next televised encounter, the field will look more formidable with the addition of Perry (and, very possibly, other fresh faces) and the departure of some of the participants who are bidding for attention more than presidential power.

A version of this column appeared originally in THE DAILY BEAST on August 12, 2011.
24262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kudlow on Perry on Bernanke on: August 17, 2011, 08:45:45 AM
I did not know that Romney was soft on Bernanke.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry scorched the political pot Tuesday with a red-hot rhetorical attack on Fed-head Ben Bernanke. When asked about the Fed's reopening the monetary spigots, Perry said, "If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas."

And that wasn't all. In a more controversial slam, Perry said, "Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous -- in my opinion." (Italics mine.)

Pretty rough stuff. Very aggressive language. And undoubtedly way too strong. It was poorly received in the financial world.

No, Ben Bernanke is not a traitor. This is a policy dispute; it's not a matter of patriotism. However, and this is an important however, the rest of Perry's statement suggests that his analysis of Fed policy is right on target. In other words, wrong words, right analysis.

The Texas governor, who by some polls is the new Republican presidential front-runner, went on to say: "We've already tried this. All it's going to be doing is devaluing the dollar in your pocket. And we cannot afford that."

Well, to me that is exactly right.

Let's take a quick look at Bernanke's QE2 record of pump priming: The dollar fell 12 percent on foreign exchange markets. The consumer price index jumped more than 5 percent at an annual rate. And the $600 billion cheapening of the greenback led to skyrocketing commodity prices, including oil, gasoline and food. That oil price shock is one of the principal factors behind the 0.8 percent first-half economic stutter. As a result of the jump in inflation linked to QE2, real consumer incomes slumped badly and consumer spending fell substantially.

Before QE2, the economy was growing about 2.5 percent, even though it already was blunted by numerous tax and regulatory obstacles. But the cheap-dollar oil shock came perilously close to pushing us into recession.

So it turns out that Perry -- even with his overly strong language -- is a pretty sharp economic and monetary analyst.

In fact, Perry's analysis actually channels recent Fed dissents by reserve bank presidents Dick Fisher of Dallas, Charles Plosser of Philadelphia and Narayana Kocherlakota of Minneapolis. They object to a two-year extension of the Fed's zero-interest-rate policy and, in so doing, have set down an opposition marker to a potential new shock-and-awe quantitative easing that many fear will be announced Aug. 26 when Bernanke speaks to the Jackson Hole, Wyo., Fed conference.

What makes Perry's position even more interesting is his disagreement with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. When I interviewed Romney this past April, he essentially defended Bernanke and dollar depreciation. "Well, you know, I think Ben Bernanke is a student of monetary policy," Romney said. "He's doing as good a job as he thinks he can do in the Federal Reserve."

Meanwhile, in tea party circles on the campaign trail, Bernanke is a much-disliked figure. Rightly or wrongly, he is blamed for bailing out Wall Street. Also, many view Bernanke's massive money creation, along with President Barack Obama's massive federal stimulus spending, as another failed big-government attempt to revive the economy.

Tea partyers and many others fervently believe in lower spending, reduced tax burdens and a regulatory rollback to strengthen small businesses and the private economy. They're against Uncle Sam's just throwing money at problems.

So in this sense, Perry's red-hot riposte at Bernanke may be shrewd politics, as well as a much-needed defense of stable money.

The former Air Force captain piloted C-130 missions in Central America, South America and North Africa and all over Europe. He's a fierce devotee of American exceptionalism and greatness. My hunch is that just like Ronald Reagan, Perry views a collapsing-dollar threat as more evidence of American decline. And he is very much opposed to any of that.

24263  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 17, 2011, 08:30:48 AM

"The intended meaning of "wherein my truck was enveloped" is that I am blocked from departing."

"Blocked by what?"

Other cars on all sides e.g. at a red light.

@PD:  " I was VERY impressed with the Police tactics, the use of horses and dogs.  Their snatch and grab methods of specific people from the crowd were smooth!"

Please describe smiley
24264  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 17, 2011, 12:19:22 AM
The intended meaning of "wherein my truck was enveloped" is that I am blocked from departing.
24265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Space Taxis ahead of schedule (surprise! they are private sector) on: August 17, 2011, 12:02:08 AM
Private spacecraft will begin docking with the International Space Station before the end of the year, months sooner than planned, after NASA gave the green light for the first cargo delivery by such a capsule.

Space Exploration Technology Corp. said the U.S. space agency has given tentative approval for it to conduct the late November flight. The launch will accelerate the shift to private ventures for future manned missions.

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.The flight will feature the initial effort to dock the company's Dragon capsule—the pioneer commercial spacecraft— with the space station, orbiting more than 200 miles above the earth.

In accelerating by at least several months the timetable for linking up with the station, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will provide the company and other private space outfits a symbolic and potentially important financial boost. Closely held SpaceX, as it is known, is based in Hawthorne, Calif., and was founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk.

The technical sign-off by NASA is expected to be followed shortly by final agency approval. And it marks a transition for the U.S. manned-exploration program, which previously relied entirely on government-funded and federally operated boosters and space vehicles to take both astronauts and cargo into space.

The latest schedule shift, according to some industry officials, also appears intended to deflect criticism that commercial space-transportation providers may find it difficult to quickly replace NASA's recently retired space shuttles.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, slated to blast the capsule into orbit, is nearly three years behind the company's ambitious early projections. SpaceX originally envisioned as many as four test flights in 2010 to show that the booster and the capsule would be ready for service.

Until a few months ago, NASA officials were still expecting a pair of demonstration flights of the Dragon capsule in 2011 to ensure the safety and reliability of its systems. According to that scenario, SpaceX would have had to demonstrate rendezvous and berthing capabilities in separate flights.

Monday, SpaceX said the agency "has agreed in principle" to combine separate software and hardware tests into a single mission, slated to blast off at the end of November on a Falcon 9 rocket and dock with the station about a week later.

As a result, SpaceX expects to use the upcoming flight to deliver the first few hundred pounds of crew supplies to orbit. If all goes well, that will be at least several months faster than was projected under previous NASA schedules.

In its Monday release, SpaceX said that by combining government and private funding, it hopes to increase the reliability, safety and frequency of space travel. Depending on demand, the company said it has manufacturing plans that could turn out up to six Dragon capsules annually. A spokeswoman for the company, which signed more than a dozen launch contracts in the past year, said the late 2011 mission "kicks off what will be a rapid increase in the frequency" of operations.

Last December, SpaceX became the first company to successfully launch and recover a capsule from Earth orbit.

The pear-shaped Dragon capsules are slated to begin regular cargo-delivery missions for NASA in 2012, under a $1.6 billion commercial contract structured to pay the company based on the total amount of material shipped to the space station.Such performance-based payouts weren't part of traditional NASA contracts, which often relied on features that assured contractor profits regardless of delays or budget overruns.

Seeking to cut costs and revitalize NASA for deep-space exploration, President Barack Obama wants to use private space taxis to support the space station. NASA has provided seed money to SpaceX and a number of other companies to work on projects capable of transporting astronauts to and from the station by the second half of this decade.

Simultaneously, SpaceX and other commercial-space groups are vying to provide larger rockets and more-capable capsules, required for longer-term manned missions to venture deeper into the solar system.

NASA officials have said they are pleased with the progress made by SpaceX but also intend to continue to pursue other options, including a rival commercial rocket-capsule combination that has its own contracts to deliver cargo to orbit.

Between the fall of 2006 and spring of 2011, congressional auditors determined that NASA paid SpaceX more than $290 million for certain work to develop and test the company's cargo-transportation system. According to the same report, the company achieved more than three-quarters of 40 pre-determined milestones on schedule.

The accelerated cargo-delivery schedule comes as NASA and congressional leaders continue to spar over the cost and schedule of a proposed NASA heavy-lift rocket eventually intended to take astronauts to an asteroid and beyond.

NASA officials have said they are refining final cost estimates for a heavy-lift rocket able to blast 130 tons into space. It would emphasize space-shuttle designs and, at least initially, rely on solid rocket-motor technology. In later versions, NASA experts envision shifting more to liquid propellants and in-orbit refueling options.

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Getty Images
Space Exploration Technology CEO Elon Musk
.NASA's proposed next-generation rocket would fly just twice in the next 10 years and, along with a manned capsule dubbed Orion, could carry a price tag as high as $38 billion, according to industry officials and lawmakers. Inside and outside NASA, critics of the heavy-lift alternative have said those cost and schedule projections compare unfavorably with projects being pursued by SpaceX and its peers.

NASA has also been hit by bipartisan criticism it hasn't adequately complied with congressional mandates to use shuttle-derived technologies for its proposed heavy-lift rocket. These critics fault its long-range exploration plans for improperly favoring commercially developed manned systems.

To try to resolve that dispute, some lawmakers have taken the extraordinary step of voting to issue congressional subpoenas to obtain internal NASA documents detailing agency decision-making. Such critics have accused agency officials of trying to sabotage the heavy-lift rocket concept, by giving Congress allegedly inflated cost figures and unrealistically long development timetables for that launcher system.

Write to Andy Pasztor at

24266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Venezuelan 3 Card Monte: Where's the money? on: August 16, 2011, 11:57:37 PM
CARACAS—Venezuela plans to transfer billions of dollars in cash reserves from abroad to banks in Russia, China and Brazil and tons of gold from European banks to its central bank vaults, according to documents reviewed Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.

The planned moves would include transferring $6.3 billion in cash reserves, most of which Venezuela now keeps in banks such as the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, and Barclays Bank in London to unnamed Russian, Chinese and Brazilian banks, one document said.

Venezuela also plans to move 211 tons of gold it keeps abroad and values at $11 billion to the vaults of the Venezuelan Central Bank in Caracas where the government keeps its remaining 154 tons of bullion, the document says.

Venezuelan officials were tight-lipped. Representatives of the ministry of finance and the central bank said there was no official comment, and no one was authorized to address the issue.

Lately, senior Venezuelan officials have criticized Venezuela's dependence on the dollar. Last Saturday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said the world's financial system, based on the dollar, "had entered into a crisis of uncertainty and we are planning to construct a new international monetary system, and especially in South America, protect ourselves from this situation," he said.

The Bank of England recently received a request from the Venezuelan government about transferring the 99 tons of gold Venezuela holds in the bank back to Venezuela, said a person familiar with the matter. A spokesman from the Bank of England declined to comment whether Venezuela had any gold on deposit at the bank.

A spokesman for the Bank for International Settlements where Venezuela keeps $3.7 billion of its cash reserves, and 11.2 tons of gold, Venezuela values at $544 million, according to the document, also declined to comment.

Analysts said the planned move made little economic or financial sense, since Venezuela would be taking its money out of secure banks in safe countries and putting it in countries that are not as safe and perhaps in currencies such as the Chinese yuan or the Russian ruble, which are not reserve currencies. "It's a big risk," said José Guerra, a former official at Venezuela's central bank. Mr. Guerra said he also had heard about the documents whose authenticity was confirmed to him by Central Bank officials.

Mr. Guerra said one possible reason for the planned moves could be that Venezuela is afraid it could be compelled to pay billions of dollars in compensations to foreign companies that have gone to court to recover damages for companies Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has nationalized. Another reason could be that China may have asked for collateral for billions of dollars it has loaned Venezuela, Mr. Guerra said.

Venezuela faces a sizable bill from arbitration but it's difficult to pin down a reliable estimate.

"It's a wide range from $10 billion to $40 billion and beyond," says Tamara Herrera, chief economist of Síntesis Financiera, an economic consulting firm based in Caracas. "There are many ongoing negotiations; the major ones of course are with oil companies."

One of the documents outlining the moves appears to have been drafted by Jorge Giordani, Venezuela's planning and finance minister, in conjunction with Nelson Merentes, the central bank president, for Mr. Chávez's approval. It calls for the transfer of the cash and gold reserves as of Aug. 8 in a maximum of two months.

Another document prepared by Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro for Mr. Chávez's approval calls for Messrs. Giordani and Merentes to prepare a plan to safeguard Venezuela's international reserves given "the recent U.S. debt crisis and its impact on the dollar as a world reserve currency."

The crisis, the document says, "has lit all the alarm signals as to whether it's convenient to maintain our reserves in that currency."

The document also notes that "the powers of the North" have "pillaged" Libya's international reserves as a result of the sanctions applied to Libya. "That makes us reflect on the need to elaborate a plan to monitor and secure the funds that the Republic maintains in international banks to meet its commitments abroad.

For some analysts, the reference to Libya signaled a possible political motive. The charismatic Mr. Chávez, who has said he will run again for president next year's elections, is being treated with chemotherapy for cancer in Cuba. Neither Mr. Chávez's type of cancer nor Mr. Chávez's prognosis has been made public. Moving the reserves may signal that Mr. Chávez and his associates could be preparing some drastic political moves—such as canceling elections—that could incur international condemnation and perhaps trigger sanctions.

"It doesn't augur well for Venezuela," says Roger Noriega, a former high-ranking state department official during the Bush administration.

Opposition congressman Julio Montoya said he received leaked copies of the proposal to move the funds from concerned officials of the finance ministry.

"We don't know if (Chávez) has signed it," Mr. Montoya said during a press conference Tuesday. The congressman from Zulia state criticized what he called the "secretive" nature of the president's deliberation over the measure.

Mr. Montoya said that the proposal raised the question if Venezuela was being pressured into transferring its reserves because of its growing ties with China and Russia.

To fund the country's large-scale social programs, Mr. Chávez has turned to resource-hungry China for assistance on everything from financing to housing and machinery. Last year, Venezuela received a $20 billion credit line from the China Development Bank for housing, which it is paying back with oil shipments.

While China has been Venezuela's largest creditor in recent years, Russia has been a major arms supplier to the South American nation.

Most recently, Venezuela announced it was finalizing agreements for two additional credit lines of $4 billion each with Russia and China, with a portion of the Russian funds earmarked for the Venezuelan military. Venezuelan officials have also said they have recently reached an agreement with Brazil for a $4 billion line of credit.

24267  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 16, 2011, 09:24:42 PM
I always wondered about carrying a fire extinguisher in the car and should a chaotic situation develop wherein my truck was enveloped simply spraying everybody within range.   Does anybody know about whether this would run the risk of damaging the eyes of the nefarious n'er do wells?
24268  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fall Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack 9/18/11 on: August 16, 2011, 09:21:31 PM
A number of registrations have come in.  Know that Pretty Kitty is wading her way through 2000+ emails  shocked that came in while we were on family vacation. 
24269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / That'll teach 'em on: August 16, 2011, 09:19:20 PM
Pravda on the Beach reported this morning that the three officials at BATF responsible for Op F&F have been promoted, , , cry angry angry
24270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GB on Gov. Perry on Bernanke on: August 16, 2011, 05:03:51 PM
24271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Lessons from Europe-2 on: August 16, 2011, 04:49:34 PM
'The real lesson from Europe," wrote Paul Krugman in January 2010, "is actually the opposite of what conservatives claim: Europe is an economic success, and that success shows that social democracy works." Here are some postcards from the social democracy that works.

• In Britain, 239 patients died of malnutrition in the country's public hospitals in 2007, according to a charity called Age U.K. And at any given time, a quarter-million Britons have been made to wait 18 weeks or longer for medical treatment. This follows a decade in which funding for the National Health Service doubled.

• In France, the incidence of violent crimes rose by nearly 15% between 2002 and 2008, according to statistics provided by Eurostat. In Italy violent crime was up 38%. In the EU as a whole, the rate rose by 6% despite declines in robbery and murder.

• As of June 2011, Eurostat reports that the unemployment rate in the euro zone was 9.9%. For the under-25s, it was 20.3%. In Spain, youth unemployment stands at 45.7%, which tops even the Greek rate of 38.5%. Then there's this remarkable detail: Among Europeans aged 18-34, no fewer than 46%—51 million people in all—live with their parents.

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Zuma Press
Rioters in London: Poster children for social democracy.
.• In 2009, 37.4% of European children were born outside of marriage. That's more than twice the 1990 rate of 17.4%. The number of children per woman for the EU is 1.56, catastrophically below the replacement rate of 2.1. Roughly half of all Europeans belong in the "dependency" category on account of their youth or old age. Just 64% of the working-age population actually works.

I could go on in this vein for pages, but you get the point. Europe is not a happy place and hasn't been for nearly a generation. It's about to get much worse.

This isn't simply because Europe's economic crisis is still in its infancy, although it is. The tab for bailing out Greece, Portugal and Ireland alone—which together account for about 5% of euro-zone GDP—already runs to hundreds of billions of euros, with no resolution in sight. By contrast, Italy's GDP is more than seven times as large as Greece's. Italy is too big to fail—and too big to save. If the so-called PIIGS wind up leaving the euro zone (or if Germany beats them to it by returning to a Deutsche mark), the dislocations will take years to sort through.

Even then, Europe will still have to address the more profound challenges of economic growth, demography and entitlement reform. But in order for it to do so it must have a clear idea of the nature of the challenges it faces. It doesn't. It also requires political resources to overcome the beneficiaries—labor unions, pensioners, university students, farmers, Brussels technocrats and so on—of the current system. That's not going to happen.

Politics, for starters, prevents it. Whenever a supposed "neo-liberal" comes to power—whether it's Nicolas Sarkozy or Silvio Berlusconi or Angela Merkel—they typically wind up doing no more than tinkering around the edges of regulatory or tax reform. That's because they are stymied by coalition compromises at home, or by European compromises in Brussels, or by some deeper failure of will and character.

Margaret Thatcher was the exception to this rule. But in both Britain and Europe she has had neither equals nor heirs.

Demography also prevents reform. The median age in the EU is 40.6 years. (In the U.S. it's 36.9). Older populations typically resist change, demand the benefits they've been taxed all their working lives for—and vote. The demographic balance is only going to tip further in their favor, and it will change only when younger Europeans decide that children, plural, are worth having. What that will take, only a faith in future prosperity—and in God—can provide. Outside of its growing Muslim population, Europe has neither.

Finally, there is ideology. For the past four decades, "Europeanism" has been an amalgam of Keynesian economics, bureaucratic centralization, and welfarism, corporate and social. Even now, the ideology remains unshaken by events. Though there is plenty of talk about getting spending under control and balancing budgets (typically by way of tax increases), nobody in Europe is proposing a serious growth agenda. At the beginning of the Greek crisis I asked a visiting official from Athens what his ideas were for growth: He suggested olive tree plantations and wind farms. He might as well have thrown a Sicilian Expedition into the mix.

For the U.S., none of this is yet in our cards: That's guaranteed by the tea party that so many Europeans (and Paul Krugman) find so vulgar. But it's worth noting what the fruits of social democracy—a world in which, as Kipling once wrote, "all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins"—really are. And in the wake of the U.K. riots, the rest of his prophecy also bears repeating:

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

24272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Grow, baby, grow on: August 16, 2011, 02:16:21 PM

second post:

Even with a lousy jobs report, weak GDP numbers and stock market turbulence, House Republicans have been slow to propose policies that would help expand the economy. The GOP has chosen to emphasize austerity—reduced spending, less debt—instead of growth. Where are today's Jack Kemps?

The good news is that key House Republicans are planning on rolling out a tax-reform plan with growth incentives as early as next month. My sources say this would be a pre-emptive move to get out ahead of the bipartisan "super committee" charged with raising revenues and possibly modernizing the tax code.

The idea taking shape is to pass something like the broad outline of the tax changes in the "roadmap" budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan and passed by the House earlier this year. That plan called for a 25% top tax rate on individuals and corporations. There is also interest in moving to a "territorial" tax system so that U.S.-based multinational firms don't face one of the highest tax rates in the industrialized world. The GOP plan is expected to be revenue neutral so that it does not increase the deficit.

House Republicans are hoping to blunt criticism voiced often by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that the GOP has done nothing for job creation. Republicans also hope a House-passed tax reform bill will put intense pressure on Senate Democrats to come up with their own plan.

"We've got to be seen as promoting our own growth and jobs agenda," said Rep. Jim Jordan, who heads the conservative Republican Study Committee and is a fan of the House passing an ambitious tax plan. "We haven't done that of late."

Any Republican plan would have to move through the House Ways and Means Committee, and that means GOP Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the committee chairman, would play a big role. Mr. Camp's office didn't respond to a call for comment, but in the past he has told me that he's a big supporter of lower rates in exchange for a broader base. And in recent weeks Mr. Camp has held committee hearings on tax reform. As one House member put it to me, "we've got to convince Dave that this is his chance to make history."

24273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 16, 2011, 02:14:36 PM

Would you please post that in the Islam in American thread as well?  Thank you.
24274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: August 16, 2011, 02:02:29 PM
24275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 16, 2011, 12:27:16 PM

See 8/16/11 entry of John Stewart on Ron Paul's lack of media coverage:
24276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Friedman: Rethinking Arab Spring on: August 16, 2011, 12:21:54 PM
By George Friedman

On Dec. 17, 2010, Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire in a show of public protest. The self-immolation triggered unrest in Tunisia and ultimately the resignation of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This was followed by unrest in a number of Arab countries that the global press dubbed the “Arab Spring.” The standard analysis of the situation was that oppressive regimes had been sitting on a volcano of liberal democratic discontent. The belief was that the Arab Spring was a political uprising by masses demanding liberal democratic reform and that this uprising, supported by Western democracies, would generate sweeping political change across the Arab world.

It is now more than six months since the beginning of the Arab Spring, and it is important to take stock of what has happened and what has not happened. The reasons for the widespread unrest go beyond the Arab world, although, obviously, the dynamics within that world are important in and of themselves. However, the belief in an Arab Spring helped shape European and American policies in the region and the world. If the assumptions of this past January and February prove insufficient or even wrong, then there will be regional and global consequences.

It is important to begin with the fact that, to this point, no regime has fallen in the Arab world. Individuals such as Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have been replaced, but the regimes themselves, which represent the manner of governing, have not changed. Some regimes have come under massive attack but have not fallen, as in Libya, Syria and Yemen. And in many countries, such as Jordan, the unrest never amounted to a real threat to the regime. The kind of rapid and complete collapse that we saw in Eastern Europe in 1989 with the fall of communism has not happened in the Arab world. More important, what regime changes that might come of the civil wars in Libya and Syria are not going to be clearly victorious, those that are victorious are not going to be clearly democratic and those that are democratic are obviously not going to be liberal. The myth that beneath every Libyan is a French republican yearning to breathe free is dubious in the extreme.

Consider the case of Mubarak, who was forced from office and put on trial, although the regime — a mode of governing in which the military remains the main arbiter of the state — remains intact. Egypt is now governed by a committee of military commanders, all of whom had been part of Mubarak’s regime. Elections are coming, but the opposition is deeply divided between Islamists and secularists, and personalities and ideological divisions in turn divide these factions. The probability of a powerful democratic president emerging who controls the sprawling ministries in Cairo and the country’s security and military apparatus is slim, and the Egyptian military junta is already acting to suppress elements that are too radical and too unpredictable.

The important question is why these regimes have been able to survive. In a genuine revolution, the regime loses power. The anti-communist forces overwhelmed the Polish Communist government in 1989 regardless of the divisions within the opposition. The sitting regimes were not in a position to determine their own futures, let alone the futures of their countries. There was a transition, but they were not in control of it. Similarly, in 1979, when the Shah of Iran was overthrown, his military and security people were not the ones managing the transition after the shah left the country. They were the ones on trial. There was unrest in Egypt in January and February 2011, but the idea that it amounted to a revolution flew in the face of the reality of Egypt and of what revolutions actually look like.

Shaping the Western Narrative

There were three principles shaping the Western narrative on the Arab Spring. The first was that these regimes were overwhelmingly unpopular. The second was that the opposition represented the overwhelming will of the people. The third was that once the unrest began it was unstoppable. Add to all that the notion that social media facilitated the organization of the revolution and the belief that the region was in the midst of a radical transformation can be easily understood.

It was in Libya that these propositions created the most serious problems. Tunisia and Egypt were not subject to very much outside influence. Libya became the focus of a significant Western intervention. Moammar Gadhafi had ruled Libya for nearly 42 years. He could not have ruled for that long without substantial support. That didn’t mean he had majority support (or that he didn’t). It simply meant that the survival of his regime did not interest only a handful of people, but that a large network of Libyans benefitted from Gadhafi’s rule and stood to lose a great deal if he fell. They were prepared to fight for his regime.

The opposition to him was real, but its claim to represent the overwhelming majority of Libyan people was dubious. Many of the leaders had been part of the Gadhafi regime, and it is doubtful they were selected for their government posts because of their personal popularity. Others were members of tribes that were opposed to the regime but not particularly friendly to each other. Under the mythology of the Arab Spring, the eastern coalition represented the united rage of the Libyan people against Gadhafi’s oppression. Gadhafi was weak and isolated, wielding an army that was still loyal and could inflict terrible vengeance on the Libyan people. But if the West would demonstrate its ability to prevent slaughter in Benghazi, the military would realize its own isolation and defect to the rebels.

It didn’t happen that way. First, Gadhafi’s regime was more than simply a handful of people terrorizing the population. It was certainly a brutal regime, but it hadn’t survived for 42 years on that alone. It had substantial support in the military and among key tribes. Whether this was a majority is as unclear as whether the eastern coalition was a majority. But it was certainly a substantial group with much to fight for and a great deal to lose if the regime fell. So, contrary to expectations in the West, the regime has continued to fight and to retain the loyalty of a substantial number of people. Meanwhile, the eastern alliance has continued to survive under the protection of NATO but has been unable to form a united government or topple Gadhafi. Most important, it has always been a dubious assertion that what would emerge if the rebels did defeat Gadhafi would be a democratic regime, let alone a liberal democracy, and this has become increasingly obvious as the war has worn on. Whoever would replace Gadhafi would not clearly be superior to him, which is saying quite a lot.

A very similar process is taking place in Syria. There, the minority Alawite government of the Assad family, which has ruled Syria for 41 years, is facing an uprising led by the majority Sunnis, or at least some segment of them. Again, the assumption was that the regime was illegitimate and therefore weak and would crumble in the face of concerted resistance. That assumption proved wrong. The Assad regime may be running a minority government, but it has substantial support from a military of mostly Alawite officers leading a largely Sunni conscript force. The military has benefited tremendously from the Assad regime — indeed, it brought it to power. The one thing the Assads were careful to do was to make it beneficial to the military and security services to remain loyal to the regime. So far, they largely have. The danger for the regime looking forward is if the growing strain on the Alawite-dominated army divisions leads to fissures within the Alawite community and in the army itself, raising the potential for a military coup.

In part, these Arab leaders have nowhere to go. The senior leadership of the military could be tried in The Hague, and the lower ranks are subject to rebel retribution. There is a rule in war, which is that you should always give your enemy room to retreat. The Assad supporters, like the Gadhafi supporters and the supporters of Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, have no room to retreat. So they have fought on for months, and it is not clear they will capitulate anytime soon.

Foreign governments, from the United States to Turkey, have expressed their exasperation with the Syrians, but none has seriously contemplated an intervention. There are two reasons for this: First, following the Libyan intervention, everyone became more wary of assuming the weakness of Arab regimes, and no one wants a showdown on the ground with a desperate Syrian military. Second, observers have become cautious in asserting that widespread unrest constitutes a popular revolution or that the revolutionaries necessarily want to create a liberal democracy. The Sunnis in Syria might well want a democracy, but they might well be interested in creating a Sunni “Islamic” state. Knowing that it is important to be careful what you wish for, everyone seems to be issuing stern warnings to Damascus without doing very much.

Syria is an interesting case because it is, perhaps, the only current issue that Iran and Israel agree on. Iran is deeply invested in the Assad regime and wary of increased Sunni power in Syria. Israel is just as deeply concerned that the Assad regime — a known and manageable devil from the Israeli point of view — could collapse and be replaced by a Sunni Islamist regime with close ties to Hamas and what is left of al Qaeda in the Levant. These are fears, not certainties, but the fears make for interesting bedfellows.

Geopolitical Significance

Since late 2010, we have seen three kinds of uprisings in the Arab world. The first are those that merely brushed by the regime. The second are those that created a change in leaders but not in the way the country was run. The third are those that turned into civil wars, such as Libya and Yemen. There is also the interesting case of Bahrain, where the regime was saved by the intervention of Saudi Arabia, but while the rising there conformed to the basic model of the Arab Spring — failed hopes — it lies in a different class, caught between Saudi and Iranian power.

The three examples do not mean that there is not discontent in the Arab world or a desire for change. They do not mean that change will not happen, or that discontent will not assume sufficient force to overthrow regimes. They also do not mean that whatever emerges will be liberal democratic states pleasing to Americans and Europeans.

This becomes the geopolitically significant part of the story. Among Europeans and within the U.S. State Department and the Obama administration is an ideology of human rights — the idea that one of the major commitments of Western countries should be supporting the creation of regimes resembling their own. This assumes all the things that we have discussed: that there is powerful discontent in oppressive states, that the discontent is powerful enough to overthrow regimes, and that what follows would be the sort of regime that the West would be able to work with.

The issue isn’t whether human rights are important but whether supporting unrest in repressive states automatically strengthens human rights. An important example was Iran in 1979, when opposition to the oppression of the shah’s government was perceived as a movement toward liberal democracy. What followed might have been democratic but it was hardly liberal. Indeed, many of the myths of the Arab Spring had their roots both in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and later in Iran’s 2009 Green Movement, when a narrow uprising readily crushed by the regime was widely viewed as massive opposition and widespread support for liberalization.

The world is more complicated and more varied than that. As we saw in the Arab Spring, oppressive regimes are not always faced with massed risings, and unrest does not necessarily mean mass support. Nor are the alternatives necessarily more palatable than what went before or the displeasure of the West nearly as fearsome as Westerners like to think. Libya is a case study on the consequences of starting a war with insufficient force. Syria makes a strong case on the limits of soft power. Egypt and Tunisia represent a textbook lesson on the importance of not deluding yourself.

The pursuit of human rights requires ruthless clarity as to whom you are supporting and what their chances are. It is important to remember that it is not Western supporters of human rights who suffer the consequences of failed risings, civil wars or revolutionary regimes that are committed to causes other than liberal democracy.

The misreading of the situation can also create unnecessary geopolitical problems. The fall of the Egyptian regime, unlikely as it is at this point, would be just as likely to generate an Islamist regime as a liberal democracy. The survival of the Assad regime could lead to more slaughter than we have seen and a much firmer base for Iran. No regimes have fallen since the Arab Spring, but when they do it will be important to remember 1979 and the conviction that nothing could be worse than the shah’s Iran, morally or geopolitically. Neither was quite the case.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people in the Arab world who want liberal democracy. It simply means that they are not powerful enough to topple regimes or maintain control of new regimes even if they did succeed. The Arab Spring is, above all, a primer on wishful thinking in the face of the real world.

24277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / T. Paine on: August 16, 2011, 12:13:52 PM
"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." --Thomas Paine, The American Crises, No. 1, 1776

24278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: determined bull on: August 16, 2011, 12:10:34 PM
The man has not flinched in his call.


Data Watch

Industrial production surged 0.9% in July, blowing away the consensus expected gain of 0.4% To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 8/16/2011

Industrial production surged 0.9% in July, blowing away the consensus expected gain of 0.4%. Including revisions to prior months, production rose 1.2%. Output is up 3.7% in the past year.

Manufacturing, which excludes mining/utilities, was up 0.7% in July, but down 0.2% including revisions to previous months. Auto production rose 5.2% in July. Non-auto manufacturing increased 0.2%. Auto production is down 0.2% versus a year ago while non-auto manufacturing has risen 4.0%.
The production of high-tech equipment fell 0.1% in July but is up 8.3% versus a year ago.
Overall capacity utilization rose to 77.5% in July from 76.9% in June. Manufacturing capacity use increased to 75.0% in July from 74.6% in June.
Implications: As of July, the soft patch in manufacturing had ended. Industrial production surged 0.9% in July, the largest monthly gain this year. The July jump was fueled by a 5.2% expansion in auto production.  This monthly increase – at an 83% annualized rate - suggests that the supply-chain disruptions coming from Japan have ended.  We expect more increases like this in the next few months.  Excluding autos, manufacturing production increased 0.2% in June, and is up 4% versus a year ago.  Corporate profits and cash on the balance sheets of non-financial companies are at record highs.  Meanwhile, companies can fully expense these purchases for tax purposes through year-end.  This suggests business equipment purchases and production should rise as the second half of 2011 unfolds.  Today’s report also showed that capacity utilization hit its highest level since August 2008, coming in at 77.5. As it did in 2010, the industrial sector has reasserted its leadership of the recovery.  The rise in overall, nation-wide production during July suggests that the weakness reported by the Empire State manufacturing index (which fell to -7.7 in August from -3.8 in July) is unlikely to continue.  We believe that purchasing managers surveys have become less reliable.  They seem to be influenced more by emotion and uncertainty than they have in the past.
24279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: August 16, 2011, 11:56:12 AM
I went to Scott Grannis's blog and read the whole piece as well as some other entries-- as always, Grannis is WELL worth the time.   What I took away is that a major source of the increase is inflows of money fleeing Europe.

1 in 3 in NJ? shocked  Citation?   

I lack citation, I think it was a FOX news piece, but the number I heard was 1 in 7 Americans is on food stamps shocked shocked shocked
24280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: July housing starts on: August 16, 2011, 11:43:19 AM
Housing starts fell 1.5% in July to 604,000 units at an annual rate To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 8/16/2011

Housing starts fell 1.5% in July to 604,000 units at an annual rate, slightly beating the consensus expected pace of 600,000.  Starts are up 9.8% versus a year ago.

The decline in July was due to single-family starts, which fell 4.9%.  Multi-family starts (which are extremely volatile from month to month) rose 7.8% in July. Multi-family starts are up 47.9% from a year ago while single-family starts are down 0.9%.
Starts fell in the Midwest and West, but rose in the Northeast and South.
New building permits fell 3.2% in July to a 597,000 annual rate, below the consensus expected pace of 605,000. Compared to a year ago, permits for multi-unit homes are up 16.3% while permits for single-family units are down 1.2%.
Implications: Housing starts came in at a 604,000 annual pace in July, slightly beating consensus expectations.  While this was lower than last month, the level of starts remains far above levels we saw earlier this year, supporting our view from a few months ago that the dip in home building in the Spring was due to the unusually harsh tornado season. The decline in July was due to single-family starts, which fell 4.9%.  In the volatile multi-family sector (which has been trending higher since late 2009), starts rose 7.8%.  After rising last month, the total number of homes under construction fell again – to the lowest level on record (since at least 1970).  This decline was largely due to the fact that building completions rose 11.8%, to the highest level in over a year.  We should see a shift again next month to fewer completions and rising starts as the housing market slowly recovers.  Based on population growth and “scrappage” rates, home building must increase substantially to avoid shortages in some regions of the country and with the ongoing shift toward renting rather than owning, growth in multi-family construction should continue to outpace the growth in single-family units.  In other news this morning, import prices rose 0.3% in July.  Overall import prices are up 14% in the past year and up 5.5% excluding oil.  Export prices declined 0.4% in July but are up 9.8% in the past year.  Ex-agriculture, export prices rose 0.2% in July and are up 8.3% in the past year, the largest increase on record (dating back to the mid-1980s).
24281  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 15, 2011, 03:56:33 PM
Glad to see Point Dog and Dog Kostas in the conversation.

I would raise the question that even when we note that the Greek riots and the British riots are arguably different in nature, is there not a certain commonality with the French riots/car burnings, even though the group involved there is defined by religion?

In other words, does the multi-culti progressive socialism of the Euro models tend to produce this result?   

Also to wonder-- where do things go from here?

Separate point:  As much as I enjoy lively political conversation, remember we are also allowed to examine unorganized militia issues and practical matters e.g. a tennis racket should be able to pass muster in an intensely NPE (non-permissive environment) like Great Britain, but should serve as a rather effective stick.
24282  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: August 15, 2011, 03:44:42 PM
I'm thinking your wife appreciates them more than me , , ,  cheesy
24283  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 63-year-old holds off robber with rear naked choke on: August 15, 2011, 03:43:23 PM
24284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: August 15, 2011, 03:42:02 PM
The question presented is a logical and fair one, but so far it appears the empirical evidence is as GM states.
24285  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: August 15, 2011, 07:28:42 AM
I am blessed to get to do what I do and to do it with whom I do.
24286  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: August 15, 2011, 06:40:15 AM
Woof C-Mighty:

So very glad to have you with us, and thanks for the use of your car for the anti-carjacking segment.

I feel blessed that I get to do what I do and to do it with the people with whom I do it.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog

PS:  I love that credo of "Small dog, big balls"  grin
24287  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife for Self Defense on: August 15, 2011, 06:36:42 AM
A lot of wisdom to be gleaned there.

Disclaimer: the following is of financial benefit to me  cheesy

Some additional thoughts:

1) KNOW THE LAW OF WHERE YOU LIVE!  Your legal environment matters!

2) All three volumes of our Die Less Often series.

Guro Crafty
24288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Cryptogram on: August 15, 2011, 05:49:01 AM

                August 15, 2011

               by Bruce Schneier
       Chief Security Technology Officer, BT

A free monthly newsletter providing summaries, analyses, insights, and commentaries on security: computer and otherwise.

For back issues, or to subscribe, visit <>.

You can read this issue on the web at
<>.  These same essays and news items appear in the "Schneier on Security" blog at <>, along with a lively comment section.  An RSS feed is available.

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

In this issue:
      Developments in Facial Recognition
      Schneier News
      Is There a Hacking Epidemic?

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Developments in Facial Recognition

Eventually, it will work.  You'll be able to wear a camera that will automatically recognize someone walking towards you, and a earpiece that will relay who that person is and maybe something about him.  None of the technologies required to make this work are hard; it's just a matter of getting the error rate down low enough for it to be a useful system.
  And there have been a number of recent research results and news stories that illustrate what this new world might look like.

The police want this sort of system.  MORIS is an iris-scanning technology that several police forces in the U.S. are using.  The next step is the face-scanning glasses that the Brazilian police claim they will be wearing at the 2014 World Cup.

     A small camera fitted to the glasses can capture 400 facial images
     per second and send them to a central computer database storing up
     to 13 million faces.

     The system can compare biometric data at 46,000 points on a face
     and will immediately signal any matches to known criminals or
     people wanted by police.

In the future, this sort of thing won't be limited to the police.
Facebook has recently embarked on a major photo tagging project, and already has the largest collection of identified photographs in the world outside of a government.  Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have combined the public part of that database with a camera and face-recognition software to identify students on campus.  (The paper fully describing their work is under review and not online yet, but slides describing the results can be found here.)

Of course, there are false positives -- as there are with any system like this.  That's not a big deal if the application is a billboard with face-recognition serving different ads depending on the gender and age
-- and eventually the identity -- of the person looking at it, but is more problematic if the application is a legal one.

In Boston, someone erroneously had his driver's license revoked:

     It turned out Gass was flagged because he looks like another
     driver, not because his image was being used to create a fake
     identity. His driving privileges were returned but, he alleges in a
     lawsuit, only after 10 days of bureaucratic wrangling to prove he
     is who he says he is.

     And apparently, he has company. Last year, the facial recognition
     system picked out more than 1,000 cases that resulted in State
     Police investigations, officials say. And some of those people are
     guilty of nothing more than looking like someone else. Not all go
     through the long process that Gass says he endured, but each must
     visit the Registry with proof of their identity.


     At least 34 states are using such systems. They help authorities
     verify a person's claimed identity and track down people who have
     multiple licenses under different aliases, such as underage people
     wanting to buy alcohol, people with previous license suspensions,
     and people with criminal records trying to evade the law.

The problem is less with the system, and more with the guilty-until-proven-innocent way in which the system is used.

     Kaprielian said the Registry gives drivers enough time to respond
     to the suspension letters and that it is the individual's
     "burden'" to clear up any confusion. She added that protecting
     the public far outweighs any inconvenience Gass or anyone else
     might experience.

     "A driver's license is not a matter of civil rights. It's not a
     right. It's a privilege," she said. "Yes, it is an inconvenience
     [to have to clear your name], but lots of people have their
     identities stolen, and that's an inconvenience, too."

Related, there's a system embedded in a pair of glasses that automatically analyzes and relays micro-facial expressions.  The goal is to help autistic people who have trouble reading emotions, but you could easily imagine this sort of thing becoming common.  And what happens when we start relying on these computerized systems and ignoring our own intuition?

And finally, CV Dazzle is camouflage from face detection.


Brazilian face-scanning glasses:

Facebook photo tagging:

Carnegie Mellon research:

Billboard with face-recognition:

Boston false positive:

IEEE Spectrum and The Economist have published similar articles.

Micro facial expression analysis glasses.

CV Dazzle:

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************


Ross Anderson discusses the technical and policy details of the British
phone hacking scandal.

This is really clever: the Telex anti-censorship system uses deep-packet
inspection to avoid Internet censorship.

The police arrested sixteen suspected members of the Anonymous hacker group.

Google detects malware in its search data, and alerts users.  There's a
lot that Google sees as a result of its unique and prominent position in
the Internet.  Some of it is going to be stuff they never considered.
And while they use a lot of it to make money, it's good of them to give
this one back to the Internet users.

Smuggling drugs in unwitting people's car trunks.
This attack works because 1) there's a database of keys available to
lots of people, and 2) both the SENTRI system and the victims are

Revenge effects of too-safe playground equipment.

iPhone iris scanning technology:

Good article on liabilities and computer security.
I've been talking about liabilities for about a decade now.  Here are
essays I wrote in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006.

Matt Blaze analyzes the 2010 U.S. Wiretap Report.

I second Matt's recommendation of Susan Landau's book "Surveillance or
Security: The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies" (MIT Press,
2011).  It's an excellent discussion of the security and politics of

Data privacy as a prisoner's dilemma: a good analysis.
The solution -- and one endorsed by the essay -- is a comprehensive
privacy law.  That reduces the incentive to defect.

ShareMeNot is a Firefox add-on for preventing tracking from third-party
buttons (like the Facebook "Like" button or the Google "+1" button)
until the user actually chooses to interact with them.  That is,
ShareMeNot doesn't disable/remove these buttons completely.  Rather, it
allows them to render on the page, but prevents the cookies from being
sent until the user actually clicks on them, at which point ShareMeNot
releases the cookies and the user gets the desired behavior (i.e., they
can Like or +1 the page).

Hacking Apple laptop batteries.

Bypassing the lock on luggage.

Interesting paper: "Science Fiction Prototyping and Security Education:
Cultivating Contextual and Societal Thinking in Computer Security
Education and Beyond," by Tadayoshi Kohno and Brian David Johnson. or

Breaking the Xilinx Virtex-II FPGA bitstream encryption.  It's a
power-analysis attack, which makes it much harder to defend against.
And since the attack model is an engineer trying to reverse-engineer the
chip, it's a valid attack.

Attacking embedded systems in prison doors.
This seems like a minor risk today; Stuxnet was a military-grade effort,
and beyond the reach of your typical criminal organization.  But that
can only change, as people study and learn from the reverse-engineered
Stuxnet code and as hacking PLCs becomes more common.  As we move from
mechanical, or even electro-mechanical, systems to digital systems, and
as we network those digital systems, this sort of vulnerability is going
to only become more common.

The article is in the context of the big Facebook lawsuit, but the part
about identifying people by their writing style is interesting.
It seems reasonable that we have a linguistic fingerprint, although 1)
there are far fewer of them than finger fingerprints, 2) they're easier
to fake.  It's probably not much of a stretch to take that software that
"identifies bundles of linguistic features, hundreds in all" and use the
data to automatically modify my writing to look like someone else's.

A good criticism of the science behind author recognition, and a paper
on how to evade these systems.

Seems that the one-time pad was not first invented by Vernam.
The paper:

Two items on hacking lotteries.  The first is about someone who figured
out how to spot winners in a scratch-off tic-tac-toe style game, and a
daily draw style game where expected payout can exceed the ticket price.
  The second is about someone who has won the lottery four times, with
speculation that she had advance knowledge of where and when certain
jackpot-winning scratch-off tickets would be sold.

Home-made Wi-Fi hacking, phone snooping, UAV.

German police call airport full-body scanners useless.

Here's a story about full-body scanners that are overly sensitive to
sweaty armpits.

The Zodiac cipher was announced as cracked, but the break was a hoax.

XKCD on the CIA hack.

I've been using the phrase "arms race" to describe the world's
militaries' rush into cyberspace for a couple of years now.  Here's a
good article on the topic that uses the same phrase.

New bank-fraud Trojan.

An article on MRI lie detectors -- lots of interesting research.
My previous blog post on the topic.

There's a security story from biology I've used a few times: plants that
use chemicals to call in airstrikes by wasps on the herbivores attacking
them.  This is a new variation:  a species of orchid that emits the same
signals as a trick, to get pollinated.

I'm a big fan of taxonomies, and this "Taxonomy of Operational Cyber
Security Risks" -- from Carnegie Mellon -- seems like a useful one.

GPRS hacked.

Security flaws in encrypted police radios:  "Why (Special Agent) Johnny
(Still) Can't Encrypt: A Security Analysis of the APCO Project 25
Two-Way Radio System," by Sandy Clark, Travis Goodspeed, Perry Metzger,
Zachary Wasserman, Kevin Xu, and Matt Blaze.  I've heard Matt talk about
this project several times.  It's great work, and a fascinating insight
into the usability problems of encryption in the real world.

Counterfeit pilot IDs and uniforms will now be sufficient to bypass
airport security.  TSA is testing a program to not screen pilots.

The African crested rat applies tree poison to its fur to make itself
more deadly.

A couple of weeks ago Wired reported the discovery of a new,
undeletable, web cookie.
The Wired article was very short on specifics, so I waited until one of
the researchers -- Ashkan Soltani -- wrote up more details.  He finally
did, in a quite technical essay.

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Schneier News

My new book, "Liars and Outliers," has a cover.  Publication is still
scheduled for the end of February -- in time for the RSA Conference --
assuming I finish the manuscript in time.
Older posts on the book:

Interview with me from the Homeland Security News Wire.

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

      Is There a Hacking Epidemic?

Freakonomics asks: "Why has there been such a spike in hacking recently?
Or is it merely a function of us paying closer attention and of
institutions being more open about reporting security breaches?"

They posted five answers, including mine:

     The apparent recent hacking epidemic is more a function of news
     reporting than an actual epidemic. Like shark attacks or school
     violence, natural fluctuations in data become press epidemics, as
     more reporters write about more events, and more people read about
     them. Just because the average person reads more articles about
     more events doesn't mean that there are more events -- just more

     Hacking for fun -- like LulzSec -- has been around for decades.
     It's where hacking started, before criminals discovered the
     Internet in the 1990s. Criminal hacking for profit -- like the
     Citibank hack -- has been around for over a decade.  International
     espionage existed for millennia before the Internet, and has never
     taken a holiday.

     The past several months have brought us a string of newsworthy
     hacking incidents. First there was the hacking group Anonymous, and
     its hacktivism attacks as a response to the pressure to interdict
     contributions to Julian Assange's legal defense fund and the
     torture of Bradley Manning.  Then there was the probably
     espionage-related attack against RSA, Inc. and its authentication
     token -- made more newsworthy because of the bungling of the
     disclosure by the company -- and the subsequent attack against
     Lockheed Martin. And finally, there were the very public attacks
     against Sony, which became the company to attack simply because
     everyone else was attacking it, and the public hacktivism by

     None of this is new.  None of this is unprecedented.  To a security
     professional, most of it isn't even interesting. And while
     national intelligence organizations and some criminal groups are
     organized, hacker groups like Anonymous and LulzSec are much more
     informal. Despite the impression we get from movies, there is no
     organization. There's no membership, there are no dues, there is
     no initiation. It's just a bunch of guys. You too can join
     Anonymous -- just hack something, and claim you're a member.
     That's probably what the members of Anonymous arrested in Turkey
     were: 32 people who just decided to use that name.

     It's not that things are getting worse; it's that things were
     always this bad. To a lot of security professionals, the value of
     some of these groups is to graphically illustrate what we've been
     saying for years: organizations need to beef up their security
     against a wide variety of threats. But the recent news epidemic
     also illustrates how safe the Internet is. Because news articles
     are the only contact most of us have had with any of these attacks.

** *** ***** ******* *********** *************

Since 1998, CRYPTO-GRAM has been a free monthly newsletter providing
summaries, analyses, insights, and commentaries on security: computer
and otherwise.  You can subscribe, unsubscribe, or change your address
on the Web at <>.  Back issues
are also available at that URL.

Please feel free to forward CRYPTO-GRAM, in whole or in part, to
colleagues and friends who will find it valuable.  Permission is also
granted to reprint CRYPTO-GRAM, as long as it is reprinted in its entirety.

CRYPTO-GRAM is written by Bruce Schneier.  Schneier is the author of the
best sellers "Schneier on Security," "Beyond Fear," "Secrets and Lies,"
and "Applied Cryptography," and an inventor of the Blowfish, Twofish,
Threefish, Helix, Phelix, and Skein algorithms.  He is the Chief
Security Technology Officer of BT BCSG, and is on the Board of Directors
of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).  He is a frequent
writer and lecturer on security topics.  See <>.

Crypto-Gram is a personal newsletter.  Opinions expressed are not
necessarily those of BT.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Bruce Schneier.
24289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington to Hebrew Congregation 1790. on: August 15, 2011, 05:29:13 AM
"The citizens of the United States of America have the right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were by the indulgence of one class of citizens that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support." --George Washington, letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, 1790
24290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: August 15, 2011, 05:28:30 AM

I think I get the point, but what of the meaning of someone acting as described out of a sense of duty, not feeling?
24291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Marriage and Family on: August 15, 2011, 05:24:47 AM
I'll be sharing that with my wife  cheesy
24292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Winning for the team; Krugman on Perry on: August 15, 2011, 05:19:00 AM
IMHO Newt best gets and has best spoken of the importance of winning in the Senate and House as well.   I have not heard from Romney on this at all.  Bachman gets it, and so does Perry, but Newt is the one with a track record of putting together a huge win for the team.  Whether he gets a lot of traction or not, I hope the others are taking notes.

Krugman airs out the attack strategy against Perry; in our responses I'd like to encourage us to keep snide reminders of what a terrible economist and raging progressive (a redundancy I know) to a minimum and keep our eye on the ball-- which is to discern if there is any truth to the comments and if not to rebut them in politically effective terms.

As expected, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, has announced that he is running for president. And we already know what his campaign will be about: faith in miracles.

Some of these miracles will involve things that you’re liable to read in the Bible. But if he wins the Republican nomination, his campaign will probably center on a more secular theme: the alleged economic miracle in Texas, which, it’s often asserted, sailed through the Great Recession almost unscathed thanks to conservative economic policies. And Mr. Perry will claim that he can restore prosperity to America by applying the same policies at a national level.

So what you need to know is that the Texas miracle is a myth, and more broadly that Texan experience offers no useful lessons on how to restore national full employment.

It’s true that Texas entered recession a bit later than the rest of America, mainly because the state’s still energy-heavy economy was buoyed by high oil prices through the first half of 2008. Also, Texas was spared the worst of the housing crisis, partly because it turns out to have surprisingly strict regulation of mortgage lending.

Despite all that, however, from mid-2008 onward unemployment soared in Texas, just as it did almost everywhere else.

In June 2011, the Texas unemployment rate was 8.2 percent. That was less than unemployment in collapsed-bubble states like California and Florida, but it was slightly higher than the unemployment rate in New York, and significantly higher than the rate in Massachusetts. By the way, one in four Texans lacks health insurance, the highest proportion in the nation, thanks largely to the state’s small-government approach. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has near-universal coverage thanks to health reform very similar to the “job-killing” Affordable Care Act.

So where does the notion of a Texas miracle come from? Mainly from widespread misunderstanding of the economic effects of population growth.

For this much is true about Texas: It has, for many decades, had much faster population growth than the rest of America — about twice as fast since 1990. Several factors underlie this rapid population growth: a high birth rate, immigration from Mexico, and inward migration of Americans from other states, who are attracted to Texas by its warm weather and low cost of living, low housing costs in particular.

And just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a low cost of living. In particular, there’s a good case to be made that zoning policies in many states unnecessarily restrict the supply of housing, and that this is one area where Texas does in fact do something right.

But what does population growth have to do with job growth? Well, the high rate of population growth translates into above-average job growth through a couple of channels. Many of the people moving to Texas — retirees in search of warm winters, middle-class Mexicans in search of a safer life — bring purchasing power that leads to greater local employment. At the same time, the rapid growth in the Texas work force keeps wages low — almost 10 percent of Texan workers earn the minimum wage or less, well above the national average — and these low wages give corporations an incentive to move production to the Lone Star State.

So Texas tends, in good years and bad, to have higher job growth than the rest of America. But it needs lots of new jobs just to keep up with its rising population — and as those unemployment comparisons show, recent employment growth has fallen well short of what’s needed.

If this picture doesn’t look very much like the glowing portrait Texas boosters like to paint, there’s a reason: the glowing portrait is false.

Still, does Texas job growth point the way to faster job growth in the nation as a whole? No.

What Texas shows is that a state offering cheap labor and, less important, weak regulation can attract jobs from other states. I believe that the appropriate response to this insight is “Well, duh.” The point is that arguing from this experience that depressing wages and dismantling regulation in America as a whole would create more jobs — which is, whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice — involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.

In fact, at a national level lower wages would almost certainly lead to fewer jobs — because they would leave working Americans even less able to cope with the overhang of debt left behind by the housing bubble, an overhang that is at the heart of our economic problem.

So when Mr. Perry presents himself as the candidate who knows how to create jobs, don’t believe him. His prescriptions for job creation would work about as well in practice as his prayer-based attempt to end Texas’s crippling drought.

24293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: August 15, 2011, 05:15:25 AM
Yeah, but we are cutting $21B this year and $45B next year  rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes   Sowell understates just how bad this deal was and just how incompetent the Reps have been in communicating with the American people.
24294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: August 15, 2011, 05:09:19 AM
Lets see if I have this right.  Pakistan has more people than Russia (I read this somewhere recently and was quite surprised); more nukes than everyone except the US, Russia, and China; a rogue nuclear program that is in alliance with the Norks rogue program and has connections with Iran's nuclear program, harbored Bin Laden, helps the Chinese get our military technology, etc etc , , , and they are an ally of ours , , ,
24295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: August 15, 2011, 05:04:37 AM
Thanks for following up on this and keeping us informed Denny. 

With Chavez's apparently serious health issues, the growing military and nuclear connections with Iran, and Baraq at the helm here, it looks like Venezuela is going to be appearing on a lot more people's radar screens here in the next year or two; readers of the DB forum will be a step ahead of the curve once again:  smiley
24296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH goes after Cong. Darrell Issa on: August 15, 2011, 04:58:03 AM
Congressman Darrell Issa is doing an outstanding job of investigating Operation Fast & Furious (see the Gun Rights thread) to the discomfort of Baraq, AG Holder, et al.  Of course it is a coincidence that Pravada on the Hudson is now going after him. rolleyes  That said, things such as placing and voting on earmarks that happen to benefit a property you have bought is not my idea of the right way to do things.
VISTA, Calif. — Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course in the rugged foothills north of San Diego, Darrell Issa, the entrepreneur, oversees the hub of a growing financial empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Just a few steps down the hall, Representative Darrell Issa, the powerful Republican congressman, runs the local district office where his constituents come for help.
The proximity of the two offices reflects Mr. Issa’s dual careers, a meshing of public and private interests rarely seen in government.
Most wealthy members of Congress push their financial activities to the side, with many even placing them in blind trusts to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest. But Mr. Issa (pronounced EYE-suh), one of Washington’s richest lawmakers, may be alone in the hands-on role he has played in overseeing a remarkable array of outside business interests since his election in 2000.
Even as he has built a reputation as a forceful Congressional advocate for business, Mr. Issa has bought up office buildings, split a holding company into separate multibillion-dollar businesses, started an insurance company, traded hundreds of millions of dollars in securities, invested in overseas funds, retained an interest in his auto-alarm company and built up a family foundation.
As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.
He has secured millions of dollars in Congressional earmarks for road work and public works projects that promise improved traffic and other benefits to the many commercial properties he owns here north of San Diego. In one case, more than $800,000 in earmarks he arranged will help widen a busy thoroughfare in front of a medical plaza he bought for $10.3 million.
His constituents cheer the prospect of easing traffic. At the same time, the value of the medical complex and other properties has soared, at least in part because of the government-sponsored road work.
But beyond specific actions that appear to have clearly benefited his businesses, Mr. Issa’s interests are so varied that some of the biggest issues making their way through Congress affect him in some way.
After the forced sale of Merrill Lynch in 2008, for instance, he publicly attacked the Treasury Department’s handling of the deal without mentioning that Merrill had handled hundreds of millions of dollars in investments for him and lent him many millions more.
And in an era when the auto industry’s future has been a big theme of public policy, Mr. Issa has been outspoken on regulatory issues affecting car companies, while maintaining deep ties to the industry through the auto electronics company he founded, DEI Holdings.
He has a seat on its board, and his nonprofit family foundation, which seeks to encourage values like “hard work and selfless philanthropy,” has earned millions from stock in DEI, which bears his initials. Mr. Issa’s fortune, in fact, was built on his car alarm company, and to this day it is his deep voice on Viper alarms that warns potential burglars to “please step away from the car.”
In recent months, The New York Times has examined how some lawmakers have championed particular industries, pushing measures to protect and enrich supporters. In Mr. Issa’s case, it is sometimes difficult to separate the business of Congress from the business of Darrell Issa.
Mr. Issa, 57, did not respond to repeated written requests in the last three weeks to discuss his outside interests. In the past, he has said his business background has made him a better lawmaker. In at least one Congressional matter, however, he recused himself after being advised of a potential conflict.
But perhaps his clearest statement on the issue came last year amid Toyota’s recalls of millions of automobiles with dangerous acceleration problems. Then, Mr. Issa brushed aside suggestions that his electronics company’s role as a major supplier of alarms to Toyota made him go easy on the automaker as he led an investigation into the recalls.
“If anything,” the congressman said, “Toyota probably got a harder time by having an automobile supplier sitting up there on the dais saying ‘Hold it, I’m not letting you off the hook now.’ ”
A Powerful Gadfly
As the influential chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Mr. Issa has proven both a reliable friend to business and a constant annoyance to an Obama administration that he sees as anti-business. Even before formally taking over the committee in December, he made headlines by asking 150 businesses and trade groups to identify regulations that they considered overly burdensome, and he has issued numerous subpoenas on his own authority in investigating programs he believes are harmful.
(Page 2 of 4)
His pro-business policies usually align closely with those of the firms he has worked with in his wide-ranging business career both before and after he joined Congress. Congress has historically had more than its share of millionaires from storied American fortunes, from the Rockefellers to the Kennedys. But typically, those members lower their business profiles considerably and limit their active dealings to avoid potential conflicts of interest and the political repercussions that might follow from private business decisions.
Senator John D. Rockfeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, for one, has much of his money in blind trusts, run by outside trustees. And Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, has a number of family and marital trusts for money generated largely through the fortune of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Mr. Issa, who grew up in a hardscrabble neighborhood near Cleveland and now owns homes north of San Diego and in Washington, has assets totaling as much as $725 million, outstripping by some measures even Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Kerry. (Because lawmakers must disclose their assets only within broad dollar ranges, public reports do not allow for precise figures.)
According to his filings, Mr. Issa’s minimum wealth doubled in the last year, and he appears flush with cash: he bought dozens of mutual funds in 2010 worth as much as $80 million, managed by Wall Street powerhouses, without selling off any securities.
Mr. Issa’s transactions cover many pages in his annual disclosure reports, as he has traded huge volumes of stock funds and municipal bonds on a weekly or even daily basis. In 2008 alone, he traded some 360 securities totaling between $650 million and $2 billion.
Those investments have often produced sharp profits.
In one 2008 sale, months before the stock market crashed, his family foundation earned $357,000 on an initial investment of less than $19,000 — a return of nearly 1,900 percent in just seven months, the foundation reported to the Internal Revenue Service. It reported acquiring the security, then known as AIM International Small Company Fund, at a cost basis representing a tiny fraction of the market value.
In addition, Mr. Issa sold at least $1 million in personal holdings in the same fund that year but was not required to report what he paid.
Invesco, as the AIM fund’s manager is now known, told The Times it did not provide Mr. Issa’s foundation the steep discount. That suggests the foundation may have acquired the shares from a third-party broker.
A former government official said House ethics committee officials quietly inquired into Mr. Issa’s business interests last year because of possible conflicts in his electronics connections.
While the exact focus of those inquiries is not known, Mr. Issa’s ties to the industry are well established: in each of his first five years in Congress, he reported accepting free trips to Las Vegas from the Consumer Electronics Association for its annual convention. Such corporate-sponsored trips were allowed at the time, but Congressional rules have tightened since.
The inquiries did not produce sufficient evidence of ethics problems to move forward, the former official said.
Standards for determining a financial conflict are murky. House members are generally restricted from using their positions “for personal gain” or on matters in which they have a direct financial interest. But a 2009 ethics committee ruling added to the ambiguity, finding there is no prohibition on the mere “appearance” of a conflict.
There are also restrictions on taking salaries from certain businesses. While Mr. Issa’s wife draws a salary at their property management company, Mr. Issa — the firm’s president — does not.
A Balancing Act
Lawmakers must also avoid outside work that can pose a “time conflict,” and “detract from a member’s full time and attention to his official duties,” the guidelines say. By all accounts, these rules were designed to promote the notion of a full-time legislature.
Mr. Issa’s outside interests certainly appear to have kept him busy. Associates describe him as actively involved in business decisions, particularly in his auto electronics firm. His office did not discuss how he balances the time demands of Congress and his outside businesses. His management company, Greene Properties, which he runs with his wife from the office down the hall from his Congressional office in Vista, has acquired more than two dozen properties in the last five years, valued at up to a total of $80 million.
Page 3 of 4)
In nearby Carlsbad, a new office complex he owns advertises for prospective tenants. A few miles away, a Hooters restaurant rents space in another building he owns. Nearby, his medical complex bustles with doctors and patients and has few vacancies.
 “Issa’s a smart businessman,” said Dean Tilton, a local real estate broker. “We haven’t seen real estate prices this low in 20 years, and he’s taking advantage of that.”
The hard-hit San Diego area has also benefited from federal money Mr. Issa brought through earmarks, which allow lawmakers to award money for their own pet projects. Indeed, more than two dozen of Mr. Issa’s properties are within five miles of projects he has personally earmarked for road work, sanitation and other improvements, an analysis by The Times shows.
His medical complex, for instance, sits directly along West Vista Way, a busy corridor scheduled for widening with $815,000 in funds Mr. Issa earmarked. The congressman bought the complex in 2008, soon after securing the first of two earmarks for the two-mile project and unsuccessfully seeking millions more. The assessor’s office now values the complex at $16 million, a 60 percent appreciation.
Mr. Issa owns a number of commercial properties near the planned $171 million expansion of State Route 76. The project, intended to ease traffic for tens of thousands of commuters, was helped by $245,000 in his earmarks.
A regional transportation official said the earmarks supplemented state financing to move the projects along.
Local leaders say they are just grateful for the money, regardless of any suggestions locally in San Diego that Mr. Issa stands to benefit.
“I don’t really blame the guy,” said John Aguilera, a Vista city councilman. “As a politician, that’s his job to bring a slice of the pie back home, and as a businessman, he’s going to invest in the areas that he champions.”
Some ethics experts wonder, however, whether Mr. Issa’s business interests invite problems.
“The idea is you’re supposed to be a full-time congressman,” said Robert M. Stern, who runs the nonprofit Center for Governmental Studies in California. “There may not be a direct conflict of interest, but it creates an appearance that he is trying to influence a policy on issues where he has an investment.”
In 2009, as earmarks became a damaging symbol of Congressional abuse, Mr. Issa joined other lawmakers in pledging to discontinue them. And in recent weeks, he has attacked “the culture of government overspending” in pushing for deep cuts in the national debt.
Mr. Issa’s dual roles reach beyond earmarks.
At a House hearing in 2008 on a much-debated proposal to merge the satellite radio companies Sirius and XM, despite objections on competitive grounds, Mr. Issa praised the “viable combined market” the deal would create as he questioned Sirius’s chief executive and talked of opportunities for expansion.
What Mr. Issa did not mention was that his electronics firm was then in a lucrative partnership with Sirius to distribute its audio products.
While Mr. Issa sold off his controlling interest in DEI soon after he was elected, he remains a board member with a half-million shares in the firm held by his family trust. His management firm also receives $2 million a year for leasing DEI its Vista plant.
DEI’s partnership with Sirius, which continued after the merger, caused friction with competitors. In a lawsuit settled out of court, U.S. Electronics accused Sirius and DEI of freezing it out of the market through anticompetitive practices that relied on “a web of deception, threats and lies” aimed at “the enrichment of certain of its officers and directors.”
When a watchdog group, the Center for Public Integrity, asked Mr. Issa about his role in the merger, his office said the congressman’s participation in the House hearing posed no conflict because his founding of DEI was “public knowledge.” But after advice from House ethics lawyers, Mr. Issa avoided any votes on the issue afterward.
Page 4 of 4)
With its brand-name audio and electronics products, DEI caught the eye of an equity company, Charlesbank Capital, which bought the company in June for $305 million, or $4.45 a share — nearly three times the presale price. The premium promises a payday of at least $2 million for Mr. Issa’s foundation, which has already earned more than $10 million from sales of DEI stock. (Mr. Issa is now a defendant in a lawsuit brought by DEI shareholders; the suit claims the deal was structured to give him and other directors a “windfall not shared by other stockholders.”)
Ties to Merrill Lynch
The lines between Mr. Issa’s many interests have also become entangled in his frequent criticism of regulators and his frequent defense of Wall Street. At a series of hearings in 2009, Mr. Issa accused Treasury officials of a “cover-up” of their role in Bank of America’s $50 billion purchase of Merrill Lynch months earlier. Most pointedly, he accused Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, of bullying Bank of America “behind closed doors” into buying Merrill Lynch at bargain rates and then lying about it.
“I for one,” Mr. Issa told the Fed chairman, “am looking at Main Street America, the stockholders who in some cases got less than they would have gotten through other means. This includes Chrysler, General Motors and, of course, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.”
Mr. Issa did not mention his own extensive links to Merrill Lynch.
In a television interview days later, however, he said: “I bank at Merrill Lynch. I’m very well aware that every broker there, all the people who were stockholders, were furious that they were in fact being fire-saled to them.”
And Mr. Issa is no ordinary Merrill customer.
His transactions there have totaled more than a billion dollars in the last decade, records show. In the aftermath of the firm’s acquisition in September 2008, in fact, he bought and sold at least $206 million in Merrill Lynch mutual funds in the next 15 days, records show.
His ties to the bank deepened last year, records show, as Merrill Lynch gave him two “personal notes” for lines of credit worth at least $75 million.
Likewise, Mr. Issa has aggressively defended Goldman Sachs, another Wall Street giant.
When the Securities and Exchange Commission brought a major lawsuit charging Goldman with fraud last year, Mr. Issa fired back by opening an investigation. The timing of the lawsuit, he said, smacked of a “partisan political agenda” meant to help President Obama and bolster a bill overhauling financial regulations.
His charge drew nationwide attention, putting regulators on the defensive, but the S.E.C. inspector general later found “no evidence” of political meddling.
Mr. Issa came to Goldman’s defense again last month in a letter to regulators complaining about restrictions on financial firms. Broker dealers “such as Goldman Sachs” faced “a substantial reduction in leverage” because of excessive capital requirements, he wrote.
As with Merrill Lynch, Mr. Issa is keenly interested in Goldman’s performance.
A few weeks before opening his inquiry into the Goldman lawsuit, in fact, he bought another large batch of shares in one of the firm’s high-yield mutual funds, records show. By the end of the year, his stake in Goldman’s fund was worth as much as $25 million.
24297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some initial thoughts on Perry; Newt on: August 14, 2011, 09:14:30 AM
a) He should have announced before the Iowa debate, when the other candidates were pretty much off the radar screen-- now they are bigger and realer in the public perception

b) cronyism?  Uh oh , , ,

Concerning Newt:  I thought he did very well in the debate and showed flashes of why I hoped so strongly that he would run in 2008.  I want him and those who watch his donation numbers to get the message that I want to hear more of that.  The reasoning is not dissimilar to my support for Bachman; ultimately I am not yet persuaded that she is ready to be President (e.g. the utter lack of executive experience, my unfamiliarity with her thoughts and depth on foreign affairs) but I am glad to see her represent well a hardcore Tea Party message, including traditional values, and to get support for it.  

I have had hopes that Perry would be the one, because he too speaks a good Tea Party game AND has plenty of executive credibility, but now the spotlight is on him and we will learn much more about him.
24298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Revenge and Revolt on: August 14, 2011, 09:09:15 AM
Saddled with infighting and undermined by the occasionally ruthless and undisciplined behavior of its fighters, the six-month-old rebel uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is showing signs of sliding from a struggle to overthrow an autocrat into a murkier contest between factions and tribes.

In a tribal dispute, rebels set fire to a home in Yafran, Libya, last month after they seized the town from pro-Qaddafi loyalists.

The increase in discord and factionalism is undermining the effort to overthrow Colonel Qaddafi, and it comes immediately after recognition of the rebel government by the Western powers, including the United States, potentially giving the rebels access to billions of dollars in frozen Libyan assets, and the chance to purchase more modern weaponry.

The infighting could also erode support for the rebels among members of the NATO alliance, which faces a September deadline for renewing its air campaign amid growing unease about the war’s costs and direction. That air support has been a factor in every significant rebel military goal, including fighting on Saturday in which rebel forces were challenging pro-Qaddafi forces in or near three critical towns: Brega, an oil port in the east, Zawiya, on the outskirts of Tripoli, and Gharyan, an important gateway to southern Libya. There were also clashes a few miles from the main border crossing into neighboring Tunisia, residents told Reuters.

While the rebels have sought to maintain a clean image and to portray themselves as fighting to establish a secular democracy, several recent acts of revenge have cast their ranks in a less favorable light. They have also raised the possibility that any rebel victory over Colonel Qaddafi could disintegrate into the sort of tribal tensions that have plagued Libya for centuries.

In recent weeks, rebel fighters in Libya’s western mountains and around the coastal city of Misurata have lashed out at civilians because their tribes supported Colonel Qaddafi, looting mountain villages and emptying a civilian neighborhood. In the rebels’ provisional capital, Benghazi, renegade fighters assassinated their top military commander, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, apparently in revenge for his previous role as Colonel Qaddafi’s security chief.

In response, the chief of General Younes’s powerful tribe threatened to retaliate against those responsible, setting off a crisis in the rebels’ governing council, whose members were dismissed en masse last week.

The rebels’ Western backers have become alarmed at the growing rift between supporters of a group of rebels who have coalesced into a relatively unified army and the others who effectively remain a civilian band of militia fighters.

In the short term, the retaliation can serve to fortify Colonel Qaddafi’s power by reinforcing the fear that a rebel victory would bring reprisals against the many who participated in the colonel’s political machine and enjoyed his patronage. More broadly, the moral clarity of six months ago, when Colonel Qaddafi’s forces were bearing down on Benghazi and he was threatening to wipe out anyone who dared oppose him there, has been muddied.

In an interview, Jeffrey D. Feltman, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said that concerns about the rebels might be overblown. He acknowledged that there were some “disturbing reports” from Benghazi and the rebel front lines but credited the rebels’ governing Transitional National Council with swift steps to address the concerns. He noted that the rebel leadership — itself a heterodox mix of recent defectors and their former longtime foes — had ordered an end to abuses against loyalist tribes in the mountains, and he characterized the shake-up of the council as a move to establish a level of transparency and accountability without precedent in Libya.

After some initial gunfire by fighters from the family of General Younes, the council appeared to have persuaded his tribe, the Obeidi, to put their faith in an investigation by the rebel authorities, Mr. Feltman said. “They were able to avert a real cycle of violence,” he said. “I would give them a passing grade, given where they are starting from.” He added, “They have made commitments to us that you would never get out of Qaddafi.”

Still, questions remain about the rebel leadership’s control over its fighters. “I think that is a question they are asking themselves,” Mr. Feltman said, noting recent moves by the council to rein in various freewheeling rebel militias, which often are formed along town, neighborhood or tribal lines.

But an Obama administration official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the subject, acknowledged some doubts. “I think the jury is out on how unified the command will be,” the official said.

Just two weeks before the mysterious assassination of General Younes raised those questions, the United States formally recognized the rebels’ Transitional National Council as Libya’s legitimate government, potentially allowing it to tap about $3.5 billion in liquid assets and, over the long term, the rest of the $30 billion of the Qaddafi government’s frozen investments.

United States officials say that rebel leaders have pledged to allocate the money in a way that is “transparent” and “inclusive,” and that the United States is encouraging its use for health care, electricity and other services in rebel-held territory. But some funds could also be used to buy weapons for the poorly trained and equipped rebel forces.

Libya before the revolt was in many ways a social tinderbox. The country, a former Italian colony long dominated by rural Bedouin tribes, had little experience of national unity before Colonel Qaddafi came to power 42 years ago. Many Libyans relied on tribal connections more than civil law for justice and security.

Colonel Qaddafi’s centralized state and oil economy deepened many divisions, rewarding or punishing both individuals and tribes primarily on the basis of their loyalty to the government.

The uprising initially broke out across the country, even driving the police from the streets of the capital, Tripoli. But Colonel Qaddafi and one of his sons, Seif al-Islam, immediately vowed to stamp out the “rats” they held responsible, predicting from the first nights that the rebellion would become “a civil war.” Then militias commanded by two other Qaddafi sons, Muatassim and Khamis, re-established control of the capital by firing live ammunition into unarmed crowds, as the International Criminal Court attested, the first steps toward fulfilling the Qaddafis’ prophecy of a civil war pitting east against west.

Many supporters of the rebels now speak of exacting their own revenge against Colonel Qaddafi’s clan.

Outside Tripoli, the Qaddafi stronghold, about 500 civilian refugees from the rebel advance have gathered in a makeshift camp that formerly housed Chinese construction workers. “If you love Qaddafi in Yafran, they will kill you,” said Abdel Kareem Omar, 25, a dental student from a village of the Mashaashia tribe near that rebel city in the western mountains.

“The rebels stole our furniture, our food, our animals and burned our homes,” he said, vowing that he, too, would take up arms. “To protect my people,” he said.

In a recent conversation with two journalists, one man in the western mountains said his neighbors often spoke of capturing Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi alive, so they could chop off his fingers. And low-level rebel leaders talk openly of forbidding Colonel Qaddafi’s supporters from returning to their homes in rebel-held ground.

Bands of rebel fighters hunted people suspected of being Qaddafi loyalists around Benghazi for months before the killing of General Younes. And on the front lines, rebels in the coastal city of Misurata have vowed to take revenge on the black-skinned Libyans from Tawergha, accusing them of committing atrocities and driving them out of their neighborhood.

In the mountains in western Libya, local men have ransacked and burned homes in at least five villages or cities where residents had supported Colonel Qaddafi or his troops. Many of the victims were members of the pro-Qaddafi Mashaashia tribe, which the rebels openly loathe.

The fear holding together the pro-Qaddafi side is palpable. Asked in an unguarded moment about his plans, Musa Ibrahim, a member of Colonel Qaddafi’s tribe and a spokesman for his government, blurted out, “If I am alive, you mean?”

The rebel leadership in Benghazi continues to insist that it can reconcile the differences among Libyan factions and tribes. The governing council calls itself “transitional,” and it has pledged to form a new broadly representative unity government based in Tripoli if Colonel Qaddafi leaves power.

Part of the challenge facing the rebels is the pervasive reach of the Qaddafi political machine.

“In a dictatorship that lasts 42 years, it is almost inevitable that almost everyone to some extent needed to participate in the ‘revolution’ — how else could you raise a family, have a job, etc.?” Diederik Vandewalle, a Libya expert at Dartmouth College wrote in an e-mail. “That in a sense is the real tragedy of the way the Qaddafi system implicated everyone. And so it leaves virtually everyone open to retribution.”

Members of the tribes close to Colonel Qaddafi — like his own tribe, the Qaddafa, or the larger Maghraha, and small tribes associated with them — may face the greatest danger from “tribal revenge,” George Joffe, a Libya expert at the University of Cambridge, wrote in another e-mail. “And, of course, the longer this struggle continues, the more likely and bitter that will become.”

24299  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Training Camp August 12-14 on: August 14, 2011, 12:45:01 AM
More fun and games today.  Amongst the material taught:  The Kalimba Game, the Brondo Buzzsaw, and the integration of the two into a larger whole, intro to the Salty Game, and then it was time for Damian to continue with his anti-carjacking material.  Pepper spray and a Shocknife livened up the scenarios.  Toki's car escaped with no apparent damage. (In his scenario Toki made and awesome move from front seat to back and out the far passenger door.)
24300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: August 14, 2011, 12:26:25 AM

I found the reason article very interesting.

a) I thought it very pertinent to note the very low crime/murder rates in the late 1800s when gun ownership was quite high and the increase the more the gun laws became more restrictive.  I would add the decrease in crime/murder rates in the US as gun ownership (and right to concealed carry) increases.

b) Concerning the Martin case mentioned in the article, when I first read about the case I was very indignant.  As I learned more I learned it was not a 100% black and white case.  While my sympathies remain overwhemlmingly with Martin and I remain appalled at some of the actions of the authorities, if I remember correctly there was something about a booby trap and something about shooting one of the bad guys after he had already exited the house.
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