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24251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: January 27, 2010, 10:08:32 PM
I remember how the Reagan rate cuts were phased in over three year.  Laffer predicted huge growth kicking in as the final lowest rate kicked in.  Monetarist Milt Friedman, reading his monetary tea leaves predicted quite the contrary.  Laffer was proven right. 

I think his analysis is dead on here unless BO dramatically reverses course.
24252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 27, 2010, 08:51:25 AM
Yes.

As I am sure you already know, the real reason a big deal is made of this though is part of the deep plan to subvert US C'l gun rights via international treaty.
24253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US teams and intel deeply involved on: January 27, 2010, 08:49:41 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012604239_pf.html
24254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Artillery fire exchanged on: January 27, 2010, 08:38:26 AM

http://alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/TOE60Q019.htm
24255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 27, 2010, 08:32:48 AM
I believe the great majority of the Mexican issue to be a red herring.  The armaments used by the gangs are not available to civilians in America.  Just as the Zetas were originally trained by the US govt, so too automatics, grenade launchers and the like are available only from govts-- including the Mexican govt.  The Mexican army is IMHO a major source of the arms purchased by the narcos.
24256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: January 27, 2010, 08:26:49 AM
Abolish the Dept of Education and leave education to the States.

Abolish the Dept of Agriculture

Abolish the NEA (Nat. Endowment of the Arts)

Gradually raise the age for Soc. Security.  When the age of 65 was set the average lifespan was 68.  Now its somewhere around 80.

Super important:  Abolish the Orwellian fiction/fraud called "baseline budgeting" and require govt to use the same accounting principles as everyone else.   Under BB reductions in the rate of increase are called "cuts" even though more money than the year before is being spent.  Until we do this, I fear we will always lose the current game of Three Card Monte.
24257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: January 27, 2010, 08:20:30 AM
http://www.kvue.com/news/local/San-Marcos-stops-to-honor-fallen-soldier-82729927.html
24258  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Movies/TV of interest on: January 27, 2010, 07:48:58 AM
Bless you for the thought but I caught and paused it at 1:59 and what I see there is an X-block against an icepick attack.
24259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Du Pont-- the coming tax increases on: January 26, 2010, 11:35:32 AM
By PETE DU PONT
Weather-wise it has been a very cold January, and politically the Scott Brown Senate victory has chilled Washington even further for Democrats. But if the Democratic economic policies continue nevertheless, this year will be nothing like the bitter economic January we will be living in a year from now.

Government spending has already hugely increased, and so has the size and scope of government, but next year there will also be substantial tax increases for a great many Americans. The first reason will be the expiration of the Bush tax cuts . The top personal income tax rate will rise next Jan. 1 to 39.6% from 35%, a hike of nearly one-eighth. The dividend tax rate will rise to 39.6%, more than 2½ times the current 15%. And the capital gains tax rate will rise by a third, to 20% from 15%. If the House health care bill had passed, all three of these rates would have risen to 45%.

The estate tax, which fell to zero this year under the Bush tax cuts, will return in 2011--or sooner, if Congress acts to restore it. Another likely tax increase will be on the income of private equity and hedge-fund managers, from the capital gains rate of 15% to the new higher income tax rates. It has already been passed by the House and is supported by the Obama administration, as is an additional 10-year, $90 billion tax on banks aimed at "rolling back bonuses for top earners." It would affect some 50 banks, insurance companies, and large broker-dealers.

Meanwhile a number of last year's tax deductions have disappeared due to the failure of Congress to extend them into this year. The tax deduction for state and local sales taxes is one; the deduction for college tuition and fees is another; and the 50% write-off for small businesses for capital purchases--equipment, machinery or building a new plant--has disappeared as well, which will have a negative effect upon the construction of new business operation facilities.

Add on to all of these increases the biggest government deficits and spending increases (to 26.5% of gross domestic product from 21%) in half a century, the protectionism of free trade downsizing through the "buy American" requirements, China import restrictions, and the administration limitations of Columbia, South Korea, and Panama free trade agreements, and we have a very different, and not very prosperous, America ahead of us.

Or as economist Arthur Laffer wrote in his January Economic Outlook, we "cannot have a prosperous economy when government is overspending, raising tax rates, printing too much money, over-regulating and restricting the free flow of goods and services across national boundaries." We are, in his words, simply "moving in the wrong direction."

***
But what Mr. Laffer sees as most important is a substantial American economic collapse coming to us in 2011. His reasoning is simple and sensible: the impending 2011 tax increases will lead Americans to get their incomes into this year and pay the current lower tax rates. That will mean a 2010 GDP growth 3% to 4% higher than it otherwise would have been, and that will look very good.

But when the huge tax-increase agenda arrives a year from now, the economy will begin to decline, and will be some 3% to 4% smaller than it otherwise would have been. The artificially high growth in 2010 followed by artificially low growth in 2011 would "represent a larger collapse than occurred in 2008 and early 2009," Mr. Laffer writes.

He also points out that there is a four- to eight-month gap between market performance and economic performance. Indeed, the market has often reflected good or bad tax news four to eight months ahead of their impact on the economy. We historically saw that after the Harding tax cuts (1922), the Smoot-Hawley tariff bill (1929), the Kennedy tax cuts (1963) and the Reagan tax cuts of 1983. If this pattern repeats, we could see the market begin to deteriorate sometime in the summer or fall of this year.

In modern times the Kennedy, Reagan and George W. Bush tax rate reductions helped spur economic growth. the Obama tax rate increases will have the opposite effect. Americans headed to the polls this fall, worried about the increasing size and spending of the federal government, possibly a falling market, and next year's looming tax increases, may reproduce next November the voter revolt we saw in the 1994 congressional elections. That led to a Democratic presidency and a Republican Congress, which together were better for the American people than the full-scale liberalism we see in the current administration.
24260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: VA Ratification Convention 1788 on: January 26, 2010, 11:13:40 AM
"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." --James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788
24261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Complaining to God on: January 26, 2010, 10:49:16 AM
By Tzvi Freeman
 
Question:

When Moses saw things backfired in Egypt, he complained to G‑d, "Why have you done bad to these people? From the time You sent me, things have gotten worse instead of better!"

Didn't G‑d know that things had gotten worse? Isn't G‑d aware of what's going on in His world? Why does He need Moses to tell him?

Response:

G‑d sees all and knows all. But sometimes you need a report from down on the ground.

Here's an example: As a music composition major at the University of British Columbia (had a great faculty at the time), I set myself the task of writing a string quintet. With lots of help from my mentor, I toiled for months to come up with an original piece of complex counterpoint and clean form. Eventually, it won first place in its category in a provincial festival of the arts.

I recall vividly the morning that we first placed the sheet music in front of the quintet. This was in the days before instrument synthesizers, so I had heard nothing until now except whatever could be duplicated on the piano, plus the constructions of my own mind. As you can imagine, it was hard to keep my seat from shaking across the floor as my music came alive before me.

Then the double-bass player stopped the rehearsal. He took out his pencil and started changing some of the notes. I almost leaped at his neck, but my mentor grabbed my arm. I could see he was reading my very loud thoughts: "A chutzpah! The counterpoint is perfect! It's all been checked by my professors. The form is exquisite--I spent months on this! He thinks he knows the intent of the composer better than the composer himself!"

"They do that," he said. "And they're usually right. It's different when you're playing from the inside."

G‑d has two views of reality. One is the grand view from above. From there, the ugliness blends with its context to create even greater beauty. All is exquisite and ideal, a perfect whole.

Then He has the view from within. Within time, within space, within the confines of a flesh body that cringes at pain and is outraged at suffering; a view for which the now is more real than a thousand years of the future. The view not of the Composer, but of those who must play the music. And sometimes, what looks magnificent from above, is the pits from within.

Both views are true. Both views are G‑d.

In the Torah, the view from above is presented in G‑d's voice. G‑d's view from within is presented in the voice of Moses. The two come together to compose the ultimate truth of Torah.

Moses was simply practicing a common Jewish habit: Kvetching to G‑d. We call it prayer. It's the pencil granted us by the Composer. We preface our prayer with the verse, "G‑d, open my lips, that my mouth may speak Your praise." We ask, in other words, that our prayers should be the words of G‑d from within, speaking to G‑d as He stands above.
24262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ on: January 26, 2010, 09:01:38 AM
The attempted Christmas Day destruction over Detroit of Northwest Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is fading from public memory as a fortunate near-miss. This incident should not fade from view. As more information emerges, the picture it paints about the antiterror mindset of the current U.S. government is—there is no other word—scary.

Last week in these columns, we discussed Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair's Congressional testimony on the Abdulmutallab case. This was Mr. Blair's famous "duh" remark about the government's failure to invoke the new High-Value Detainee Interrogration Group (HIG) to question Abdulmutallab. A remarkable Associated Press story this past weekend makes clear that "duh" was mainly another word for disgust inside the intelligence bureaucracy over what happened that day in Detroit.

Here, compressed, is AP's account of how Abdulmutallab was handled after the plane landed. Read it and weep.

He was taken to the hospital by U.S. Customs agents and local cops, to whom he babbled that he was trying to blow up the plane.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
.Agents from the FBI's Detroit bureau were called in about 2:15. He "spoke openly" and admitted he was from al Qaeda in Yemen. Under a Miranda exception meant to let officials find out fast if another bomb is imminent, the agents didn't issue the standard self-incrimination warning. He talked for 50 minutes. Then, to let the suspect's medications wear off, the interrogators stopped.

Five hours later, the FBI in Washington said it wanted a new interrogation team to do a second interview. This new group of FBI interrogators is called a "clean team."

The AP explains: "By bringing in a so-called 'clean team' of investigators to talk to the suspect, federal officials aimed to ensure that Abdulmutallab's statements would still be admissible if the failure to give him his Miranda warning led a judge to rule out the use of his first admissions . . . . In the end, though, the 'clean team' of interrogators did not prod more revelations from the suspect."

After he was rested and revived, Abdulmutallab was given his Miranda warning. He never said another thing.

On "Fox News Sunday," Chris Wallace asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs whether the President was told that Abdulmutallab was Mirandized after only 50 minutes of interrogation. Mr. Gibbs said the decision was made "by the Justice Department and the FBI" and insisted they got "valuable intelligence."

This is awful. This talky terrorist should have been questioned for 50 hours, not 50 minutes. More pointedly, Abdulmutallab should not have been questioned by local G-men concerned principally with getting a conviction in court. He should have been interrogated by agents who know enough about the current state of al Qaeda to know what to ask, what names or locations to listen for, and what answers to follow up. The urgent matter is deterring future plots, not getting Abdulmutallab behind bars.

It gets worse. Appearing before Congress last week, FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted that the HIG group essentially doesn't even exist yet. They haven't pulled it together.

Recall that in August Mr. Obama announced the intention to create a multi-agency HIG, transferring lead responsibility for interrogations away from the CIA and into the FBI, with techniques limited to the Army Field Manual.

And worse. As a Wall Street Journal account of last week's Senate Judiciary hearings noted, the HIG team is intended only for interrogations overseas; the Administration hasn't decided whether to use it domestically. In any event, that's moot until there is an HIG team.

We hope the appropriate committees of Congress do not let this drop, for many obvious reasons. We'll make one point:

Ultimately, the national security bureaucracies take their signals from the top. In August Mr. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder made it clear that their war on terror would be fought inside the framework of Miranda and the civilian justice system. Before Justice ordered him Mirandized, would-be suicide bomber Abdulmutallab thus gave us 50 minutes in the mortal war against al Qaeda.

It has to get better than this. But it won't unless the President throws his weight publicly behind the officials who want to make it better than this.
24263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Also posted in the Ukraine thread on: January 26, 2010, 08:52:46 AM
   
Ukraine's Election and the Russian Resurgence
January 26, 2010




By Peter Zeihan

Ukrainians go to the polls Feb. 7 to choose their next president. The last time they did this, in November 2004, the result was the prolonged international incident that became known as the Orange Revolution. That event saw Ukraine cleaved off from the Russian sphere of influence, triggering a chain of events that rekindled the Russian-Western Cold War. Next week’s runoff election seals the Orange Revolution’s reversal. Russia owns the first candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, outright and has a workable agreement with the other, Yulia Timoshenko. The next few months will therefore see the de facto folding of Ukraine back into the Russian sphere of influence; discussion in Ukraine now consists of debate over the speed and depth of that reintegration.

The Centrality of Ukraine
Russia has been working to arrest its slide for several years. Next week’s election in Ukraine marks not so much the end of the post-Cold War period of Russian retreat as the beginning of a new era of Russian aggressiveness. To understand why, one must first absorb the Russian view of Ukraine.

Related Special Topic Page
The Russian Resurgence
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, most of the former Soviet republics and satellites found themselves cast adrift, not part of the Russian orbit and not really part of any other grouping. Moscow still held links to all of them, but it exercised few of its levers of control over them during Russia’s internal meltdown during the 1990s. During that period, a number of these states — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the former Czechoslovakia to be exact — managed to spin themselves out of the Russian orbit and attach themselves to the European Union and NATO. Others — Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine — attempted to follow the path Westward, but have not succeeded at this point. Of these six, Ukraine is by far the most critical. It is not simply the most populous of Russia’s former possessions or the birthplace of the Russian ethnicity, it is the most important province of the former Russian Empire and holds the key to the future of Eurasia.

First, the incidental reasons. Ukraine is the Russian Empire’s breadbasket. It is also the location of nearly all of Russia’s infrastructure links not only to Europe, but also to the Caucasus, making it critical for both trade and internal coherence; it is central to the existence of a state as multiethnic and chronically poor as Russia. The Ukrainian port of Sevastopol is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet, and Ukrainian ports are the only well-developed warm-water ports Russia has ever had. Belarus’ only waterborne exports traverse the Dnieper River, which empties into the Black Sea via Ukraine. Therefore, as goes Ukraine, so goes Belarus. Not only is Ukraine home to some 15 million ethnic Russians — the largest concentration of Russians outside Russia proper — they reside in a zone geographically identical and contiguous to Russia itself. That zone is also the Ukrainian agricultural and industrial heartland, which again is integrated tightly into the Russian core.

These are all important factors for Moscow, but ultimately they pale before the only rationale that really matters: Ukraine is the only former Russian imperial territory that is both useful and has a natural barrier protecting it. Belarus is on the Northern European Plain, aka the invasion highway of Europe. The Baltics are all easily accessible by sea. The Caucasian states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are on the wrong side of the Caucasus Mountains (and Russia’s northern Caucasus republics — remember Chechnya? — aren’t exactly the cream of the crop of Russian possessions). It is true that Central Asia is anchored in mountains to the south, but the region is so large and boasts so few Slavs that it cannot be controlled reliably or cheaply. And Siberia is too huge to be useful.

Without Ukraine, Russia is a desperately defensive power, lacking any natural defenses aside from sheer distance. Moscow and Volgograd, two of Russia’s critically strategic cities, are within 300 miles of Ukraine’s eastern border. Russia lacks any natural internal transport options — its rivers neither interconnect nor flow anywhere useful, and are frozen much of the year — so it must preposition defensive forces everywhere, a burden that has been beyond Russia’s capacity to sustain even in the best of times. The (quite realistic) Russian fear is that without Ukraine, the Europeans will pressure Russia along its entire western periphery, the Islamic world will pressure Russia along its entire southern periphery, the Chinese will pressure Russia along its southeastern periphery, and the Americans will pressure Russia wherever opportunity presents itself.

Ukraine by contrast has the Carpathians to its west, a handy little barrier that has deflected invaders of all stripes for millennia. These mountains defend Ukraine against tanks coming from the west as effectively as they protected the Balkans against Mongols attacking from the east. Having the Carpathians as a western border reduces Russia’s massive defensive burden. Most important, if Russia can redirect the resources it would have used for defensive purposes on the Ukrainian frontier — whether those resources be economic, intelligence, industrial, diplomatic or military — then Russia retains at least a modicum of offensive capability. And that modicum of offensive ability is more than enough to overmatch any of Russia’s neighbors (with the exception of China).

When Retreat Ends, the Neighbors Get Nervous
This view of Ukraine is not alien to countries in Russia’s neighborhood. They fully understand the difference between a Russia with Ukraine and a Russia without Ukraine, and understand that so long as Ukraine remains independent they have a great deal of maneuvering room. Now that all that remains is the result of an election with no strategic choice at stake, the former Soviet states and satellites realize that their world has just changed.

Georgia traditionally has been the most resistant to Russian influence regardless of its leadership, so defiant that Moscow felt it necessary to trounce Georgia in a brief war in August 2008. Georgia’s poor strategic position is nothing new, but a Russia that can redirect efforts from Ukraine is one that can crush Georgia as an afterthought. That is turning the normally rambunctious Georgians pensive, and nudging them toward pragmatism. An opposition group, the Conservative Party, is launching a movement to moderate policy toward Russia, which among other things would mean abandoning Georgia’s bid for NATO membership and re-establishing formal political ties with Moscow.

A recent Lithuanian power struggle has resulted in the forced resignation of Foreign Minister Minister Vygaudas. The main public point of contention was the foreign minister’s previous participation in facilitating U.S. renditions. Vygaudas, like most in the Lithuanian leadership, saw such participation as critical to maintaining the tiny country’s alliance with the United States. President Dalia Grybauskaite, however, saw the writing on the wall in Ukraine, and feels the need to foster a more conciliatory view of Russia. Part of that meant offering up a sacrificial lamb in the form of the foreign minister.

Poland is in a unique position. It knows that should the Russians turn seriously aggressive, its position on the Northern European Plain makes it the focal point of Russian attention. Its location and vulnerability makes Warsaw very sensitive to Russian moves, so it has been watching Ukraine with alarm for several months.

As a result, the Poles have come up with some (admittedly small) olive branches, including an offer for Putin to visit Gdansk last September in an attempt to foster warmer (read: slightly less overtly hostile) relations. Putin not only seized upon the offer, but issued a public letter denouncing the World War II-era Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty, long considered by Poles as the most outrageous Russian offense to Poland. Warsaw has since replied with invitations for future visits. As with Georgia, Poland will never be pro-Russian — Poland is not only a NATO member but also hopes to host an American Patriot battery and participate in Washington’s developing ballistic missile defense program. But if Warsaw cannot hold Washington’s attention — and it has pulled out all the stops in trying to — it fears the writing might already be on the wall, and it must plan accordingly.

Azerbaijan has always attempted to walk a fine line between Russia and the West, knowing that any serious bid for membership in something like the European Union or NATO was contingent upon Georgia’s first succeeding in joining up. Baku would prefer a more independent arrangement, but it knows that it is too far from Russia’s western frontier to achieve such unless the stars are somewhat aligned. As Georgia’s plans have met with what can best be described as abject failure, and with Ukraine now appearing headed toward Russian suzerainty, Azerbaijan has in essence resigned itself to the inevitable. Baku is well into negotiations that would redirect much of its natural gas output north to Russia rather than west to Turkey and Europe. And Azerbaijan simply has little else to bargain with.

Other states that have long been closer to Russia, but have attempted to balance Russia against other powers in hopes of preserving some measure of sovereignty, are giving up. Of the remaining former Soviet republics Belarus has the most educated workforce and even a functioning information technology industry, while Kazakhstan has a booming energy industry; both are reasonable candidates for integration into Western systems. But both have this month agreed instead to throw their lots in with Russia. The specific method is an economic agreement that is more akin to shackles than a customs union. The deal effectively will gut both countries’ industries in favor of Russian producers. Moscow hopes the union in time will form the foundation of a true successor to the Soviet Union.

Other places continue to show resistance. The new Moldovan prime minister, Vlad Filat, is speaking with the Americans about energy security and is even flirting with the Romanians about reunification. The Latvians are as defiant as ever. The Estonians, too, are holding fast, although they are quietly polling regional powers to at least assess where the next Russian hammer might fall. But for every state that decides it had best accede to Russia’s wishes, Russia has that much more bandwidth to dedicate to the poorly positioned holdouts.

Russia also has the opportunity. The United States is bogged down in its economic and health care debates, two wars and the Iran question — all of which mean Washington’s attention is occupied well away from the former Soviet sphere. With the United States distracted, Russia has a freer hand in re-establishing control over states that would like to be under the American security umbrella.

There is one final factor that is pushing Russia to resurge: It feels the pressure of time. The post-Cold War collapse may well have mortally wounded the Russian nation. The collapse in Russian births has halved the size of the 0-20 age group in comparison to their predecessors born in the 1970s and 1980s. Consequently, Russian demographics are among the worst in the world.

Even if Russia manages an economic renaissance, in a decade its population will have aged and shrunk to the point that the Russians will find holding together Russia proper a huge challenge. Moscow’s plan, therefore, is simple: entrench its influence while it is in a position of relative strength in preparation for when it must trade that influence for additional time. Ultimately, Russia is indeed going into that good night. But not gently. And not today.

 
24264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Election and Russian Resurgence on: January 26, 2010, 08:48:42 AM
   
Ukraine's Election and the Russian Resurgence
January 26, 2010




By Peter Zeihan

Ukrainians go to the polls Feb. 7 to choose their next president. The last time they did this, in November 2004, the result was the prolonged international incident that became known as the Orange Revolution. That event saw Ukraine cleaved off from the Russian sphere of influence, triggering a chain of events that rekindled the Russian-Western Cold War. Next week’s runoff election seals the Orange Revolution’s reversal. Russia owns the first candidate, Viktor Yanukovich, outright and has a workable agreement with the other, Yulia Timoshenko. The next few months will therefore see the de facto folding of Ukraine back into the Russian sphere of influence; discussion in Ukraine now consists of debate over the speed and depth of that reintegration.

The Centrality of Ukraine
Russia has been working to arrest its slide for several years. Next week’s election in Ukraine marks not so much the end of the post-Cold War period of Russian retreat as the beginning of a new era of Russian aggressiveness. To understand why, one must first absorb the Russian view of Ukraine.

Related Special Topic Page
The Russian Resurgence
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, most of the former Soviet republics and satellites found themselves cast adrift, not part of the Russian orbit and not really part of any other grouping. Moscow still held links to all of them, but it exercised few of its levers of control over them during Russia’s internal meltdown during the 1990s. During that period, a number of these states — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the former Czechoslovakia to be exact — managed to spin themselves out of the Russian orbit and attach themselves to the European Union and NATO. Others — Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine — attempted to follow the path Westward, but have not succeeded at this point. Of these six, Ukraine is by far the most critical. It is not simply the most populous of Russia’s former possessions or the birthplace of the Russian ethnicity, it is the most important province of the former Russian Empire and holds the key to the future of Eurasia.

First, the incidental reasons. Ukraine is the Russian Empire’s breadbasket. It is also the location of nearly all of Russia’s infrastructure links not only to Europe, but also to the Caucasus, making it critical for both trade and internal coherence; it is central to the existence of a state as multiethnic and chronically poor as Russia. The Ukrainian port of Sevastopol is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet, and Ukrainian ports are the only well-developed warm-water ports Russia has ever had. Belarus’ only waterborne exports traverse the Dnieper River, which empties into the Black Sea via Ukraine. Therefore, as goes Ukraine, so goes Belarus. Not only is Ukraine home to some 15 million ethnic Russians — the largest concentration of Russians outside Russia proper — they reside in a zone geographically identical and contiguous to Russia itself. That zone is also the Ukrainian agricultural and industrial heartland, which again is integrated tightly into the Russian core.

These are all important factors for Moscow, but ultimately they pale before the only rationale that really matters: Ukraine is the only former Russian imperial territory that is both useful and has a natural barrier protecting it. Belarus is on the Northern European Plain, aka the invasion highway of Europe. The Baltics are all easily accessible by sea. The Caucasian states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are on the wrong side of the Caucasus Mountains (and Russia’s northern Caucasus republics — remember Chechnya? — aren’t exactly the cream of the crop of Russian possessions). It is true that Central Asia is anchored in mountains to the south, but the region is so large and boasts so few Slavs that it cannot be controlled reliably or cheaply. And Siberia is too huge to be useful.

Without Ukraine, Russia is a desperately defensive power, lacking any natural defenses aside from sheer distance. Moscow and Volgograd, two of Russia’s critically strategic cities, are within 300 miles of Ukraine’s eastern border. Russia lacks any natural internal transport options — its rivers neither interconnect nor flow anywhere useful, and are frozen much of the year — so it must preposition defensive forces everywhere, a burden that has been beyond Russia’s capacity to sustain even in the best of times. The (quite realistic) Russian fear is that without Ukraine, the Europeans will pressure Russia along its entire western periphery, the Islamic world will pressure Russia along its entire southern periphery, the Chinese will pressure Russia along its southeastern periphery, and the Americans will pressure Russia wherever opportunity presents itself.

Ukraine by contrast has the Carpathians to its west, a handy little barrier that has deflected invaders of all stripes for millennia. These mountains defend Ukraine against tanks coming from the west as effectively as they protected the Balkans against Mongols attacking from the east. Having the Carpathians as a western border reduces Russia’s massive defensive burden. Most important, if Russia can redirect the resources it would have used for defensive purposes on the Ukrainian frontier — whether those resources be economic, intelligence, industrial, diplomatic or military — then Russia retains at least a modicum of offensive capability. And that modicum of offensive ability is more than enough to overmatch any of Russia’s neighbors (with the exception of China).

When Retreat Ends, the Neighbors Get Nervous
This view of Ukraine is not alien to countries in Russia’s neighborhood. They fully understand the difference between a Russia with Ukraine and a Russia without Ukraine, and understand that so long as Ukraine remains independent they have a great deal of maneuvering room. Now that all that remains is the result of an election with no strategic choice at stake, the former Soviet states and satellites realize that their world has just changed.

Georgia traditionally has been the most resistant to Russian influence regardless of its leadership, so defiant that Moscow felt it necessary to trounce Georgia in a brief war in August 2008. Georgia’s poor strategic position is nothing new, but a Russia that can redirect efforts from Ukraine is one that can crush Georgia as an afterthought. That is turning the normally rambunctious Georgians pensive, and nudging them toward pragmatism. An opposition group, the Conservative Party, is launching a movement to moderate policy toward Russia, which among other things would mean abandoning Georgia’s bid for NATO membership and re-establishing formal political ties with Moscow.

A recent Lithuanian power struggle has resulted in the forced resignation of Foreign Minister Minister Vygaudas. The main public point of contention was the foreign minister’s previous participation in facilitating U.S. renditions. Vygaudas, like most in the Lithuanian leadership, saw such participation as critical to maintaining the tiny country’s alliance with the United States. President Dalia Grybauskaite, however, saw the writing on the wall in Ukraine, and feels the need to foster a more conciliatory view of Russia. Part of that meant offering up a sacrificial lamb in the form of the foreign minister.

Poland is in a unique position. It knows that should the Russians turn seriously aggressive, its position on the Northern European Plain makes it the focal point of Russian attention. Its location and vulnerability makes Warsaw very sensitive to Russian moves, so it has been watching Ukraine with alarm for several months.

As a result, the Poles have come up with some (admittedly small) olive branches, including an offer for Putin to visit Gdansk last September in an attempt to foster warmer (read: slightly less overtly hostile) relations. Putin not only seized upon the offer, but issued a public letter denouncing the World War II-era Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty, long considered by Poles as the most outrageous Russian offense to Poland. Warsaw has since replied with invitations for future visits. As with Georgia, Poland will never be pro-Russian — Poland is not only a NATO member but also hopes to host an American Patriot battery and participate in Washington’s developing ballistic missile defense program. But if Warsaw cannot hold Washington’s attention — and it has pulled out all the stops in trying to — it fears the writing might already be on the wall, and it must plan accordingly.

Azerbaijan has always attempted to walk a fine line between Russia and the West, knowing that any serious bid for membership in something like the European Union or NATO was contingent upon Georgia’s first succeeding in joining up. Baku would prefer a more independent arrangement, but it knows that it is too far from Russia’s western frontier to achieve such unless the stars are somewhat aligned. As Georgia’s plans have met with what can best be described as abject failure, and with Ukraine now appearing headed toward Russian suzerainty, Azerbaijan has in essence resigned itself to the inevitable. Baku is well into negotiations that would redirect much of its natural gas output north to Russia rather than west to Turkey and Europe. And Azerbaijan simply has little else to bargain with.

Other states that have long been closer to Russia, but have attempted to balance Russia against other powers in hopes of preserving some measure of sovereignty, are giving up. Of the remaining former Soviet republics Belarus has the most educated workforce and even a functioning information technology industry, while Kazakhstan has a booming energy industry; both are reasonable candidates for integration into Western systems. But both have this month agreed instead to throw their lots in with Russia. The specific method is an economic agreement that is more akin to shackles than a customs union. The deal effectively will gut both countries’ industries in favor of Russian producers. Moscow hopes the union in time will form the foundation of a true successor to the Soviet Union.

Other places continue to show resistance. The new Moldovan prime minister, Vlad Filat, is speaking with the Americans about energy security and is even flirting with the Romanians about reunification. The Latvians are as defiant as ever. The Estonians, too, are holding fast, although they are quietly polling regional powers to at least assess where the next Russian hammer might fall. But for every state that decides it had best accede to Russia’s wishes, Russia has that much more bandwidth to dedicate to the poorly positioned holdouts.

Russia also has the opportunity. The United States is bogged down in its economic and health care debates, two wars and the Iran question — all of which mean Washington’s attention is occupied well away from the former Soviet sphere. With the United States distracted, Russia has a freer hand in re-establishing control over states that would like to be under the American security umbrella.

There is one final factor that is pushing Russia to resurge: It feels the pressure of time. The post-Cold War collapse may well have mortally wounded the Russian nation. The collapse in Russian births has halved the size of the 0-20 age group in comparison to their predecessors born in the 1970s and 1980s. Consequently, Russian demographics are among the worst in the world.

Even if Russia manages an economic renaissance, in a decade its population will have aged and shrunk to the point that the Russians will find holding together Russia proper a huge challenge. Moscow’s plan, therefore, is simple: entrench its influence while it is in a position of relative strength in preparation for when it must trade that influence for additional time. Ultimately, Russia is indeed going into that good night. But not gently. And not today.

 
24265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ambassador Eikenberry's cables leaked on: January 26, 2010, 08:40:20 AM
Second post of the morning:

http://documents.nytimes.com/eikenberry-s-memos-on-the-strategy-in-afghanistan?hp#p=1
24266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man formerly in Iraq-2 reports this on: January 26, 2010, 08:31:43 AM
Without notice, our ongoing exit from Iraq coincides with a deteriorating situation.  It would appear that without notice our CinC is throwing away pretty much everything that was accomplished there.

Marc
============================================

Yesterday it was three hotels. Today it was the Iraqi forensics operation. Yet I still read pundits who state that AQI/the insurgency is demolished.

Get a grip:

Blast at Baghdad crime lab kills 18
Dozens injured as bomber drives pickup truck through police checkpoint
The Associated Press
updated 6:29 a.m. ET, Tues., Jan. 26, 2010

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide car bomber killed at least 18 and injured dozens more Tuesday in a strike against a police crime lab in central Baghdad, a day after several hotels were hit by suicide attacks, officials said.

Rescue crews are still combing through the rubble looking for casualties. Officials say the majority of those killed were likely police officers who worked in the forensic investigation office at Tahariyat Square in the central neighborhood of Karradah. At least 82 people were reported injured.

This week's bombings — all against prominent and heavily fortified targets — dealt yet another blow to the image of an Iraqi government struggling to answer for security lapses that have allowed bombers to carry out a number of massive attacks in the heart of the capital since August.

Police and hospital officials said the bomber in Tuesday's attack tried to drive a pickup truck through a checkpoint and blast walls protecting the forensic evidence office.
Among those confirmed killed were 12 police officers and six civilians who were visiting the office. Officials said more than half the wounded were police.
Shortly after the bombing, rescue teams in blue jumpsuits combed through the debris of the partially damaged three-story building as a crane removed some of the 10-foot, 7-ton blast walls toppled by the blast.

The office targeted in the attack mainly deals with data collected during criminal investigations, including fingerprints and other pieces of evidence. The office is located next to the Interior Ministry's major crimes office, which deals with terrorism cases.

Government offices have been frequent targets of major attacks in the capital since blasts struck the foreign and finance ministries in August, raising questions about the ability of Iraqi security forces to keep the country safe. While the criminal evidence offices have not been targeted by a major suicide bombing before, attackers have struck nearby.

Shops, restaurants damaged
The attack destroyed rooms on the ground floor of the building and damaged parts of the second floor, raising fears the number of casualties could grow, a police officer on the scene said.

The site is surrounded by low-rise buildings that contain shops, restaurants and offices that were also damaged.

Tuesday's attack comes one day after a series of bombings targeting hotels favored by Westerners.

The toll from those blasts continued to rise, with 41 people confirmed killed and up to 106 reported injured, police and health officials said Tuesday.
The bombings Monday targeted the Sheraton Ishtar Hotel, Babylon Hotel and Hamra Hotel, which are popular with Western journalists and foreign security contractors.
All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details.

'Senseless crimes'
U.S. Ambassador Christopher R. Hill issued a statement Tuesday strongly condemning the attacks against the hotels.
"The terrorists who committed these senseless crimes aim to sow fear among the Iraqi people," he said. "We call upon all Iraqis to unite in combating all forms of violence and attempts at intimidation."

Also on Tuesday, Ahmed Fadhil Hassan al-Majid, the nephew of the man known as Chemical Ali arrived in Baghdad to collect the body of Saddam Hussein's cousin and close deputy who was hanged Monday.

A grave was dug for Ali Hassan al-Majid near his hometown of Tikrit next to Saddam's two sons and grandson.

© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35072893/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/
24267  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: January 26, 2010, 12:44:19 AM
We will leave starting time on Sunday up to those who will be attending on Sunday.  If an earlier start is desired due to the Superbowl, plane departures, etc. we can do that.
24268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Greg Mortenson on Bill Moyers on: January 26, 2010, 12:12:49 AM
Bill Moyers?  I know, I know shocked rolleyes

OTOH Greg Mortenson has been places and done things in Afpakia that merit deep respect and give his words weight.

I haven't viewed this yet, having read GM's first book "Three Cups of Tea" I do not hesitate to post it here:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01152010/profile2.html
24269  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Team Kali Tudo on: January 25, 2010, 11:59:57 PM
Awesome day today.  Kenny Johnson came by today and we prepared the outline for the Camp.  Those there were treated to some first rate stuff  cool
24270  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: January 25, 2010, 05:31:57 PM
Woof All:

Kenny came by today and we worked on things in preparation for the Camp.  Each of us is fired up!
24271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Federalist 62 on: January 25, 2010, 11:45:32 AM
"It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be to-morrow." --Federalist No. 62
24272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Secret agents of DOJ on: January 25, 2010, 11:27:52 AM
Paid secret agents of DOJ at work with your tax dollars

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/01/doj_hires_bloggers_as_propagan.html



http://patterico.com/2010/01/24/stil...-obama-letter/

Example:

Jan Chen of Seattle writes to the Northwest Asian Weekly (a small Asian paper serving the Seattle area):
As one listens to the Republican anger over health care reform, one can imagine an anti-government protester cheerfully paying premiums on insurance policies that drop you after you make a claim, or happily sauntering out of an emergency room that denied them treatment because of a coverage problem. One can imagine a town hall sign-waver enthusiastically forking over most of their pay to bill collectors after suffering a catastrophic injury, thinking, “Wow, the free market system is great.”

Meanwhile, Gloria Elle writes to the Baltimore Chronicle — on the same page as Mark Spivey and Ellie Light:
As one listens to the Republican anger over health care reform, one can imagine an anti-government protester cheerfully paying premiums on insurance policies that cancel you for making a claim, or happily sauntering out of an emergency room that denied them treatment because of a coverage problem. One can imagine a town-hall sign-waver enthusiastically forking over most of their pay to bill collectors after suffering a catastrophic injury, thinking, “Wow, the free market system is great.”
24273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo: Hezbollah's rocket relocations on: January 25, 2010, 11:13:12 AM
Hezbollah's relocation of rocket sites to Lebanon's interior poses wider threat
 
 
By Howard Schneider
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, January 23, 2010
BEIRUT -- Hezbollah has dispersed its long-range-rocket sites deep into northern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, a move that analysts say threatens to broaden any future conflict between the Islamist movement and Israel into a war between the two countries.

More than 10,000 U.N. troops now patrol traditional Hezbollah territory in southern Lebanon along the Israeli border, and several thousand Lebanese armed forces personnel also have moved into the area. A cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas in summer 2006 triggered a month-long war that prompted the United Nations to deploy its force as part of a cease-fire.
The United Nations is confident that the dense presence of its troops in the comparatively small area is helping lower the risk of conflict and minimizing Hezbollah's ability to move weapons across southern Lebanon, but analysts in Lebanon and Israel say the U.N. mission is almost beside the point.

Hezbollah's redeployment and rearmament indicate that its next clash with Israel is unlikely to focus on the border, instead moving farther into Lebanon and challenging both the military and the government. The situation is important for U.S. efforts in the region, whether aimed at curbing the influence of Hezbollah's patrons in Iran or at persuading Syria to moderate its stance toward Israel and its neighbors.

Hezbollah "learned their lesson" in 2006, when vital intelligence enabled the Israel Defense Forces to destroy the group's long-range launch sites in the first days of the conflict, said reserve Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash, a former head of IDF intelligence. In effect, he said, "the 'border' is now the Litani River," with Hezbollah's rocket sites possibly extending north of Beirut.

In a December briefing, Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the IDF head of operations, said some Hezbollah rockets now have a range of more than 150 miles -- making Tel Aviv reachable from as far away as Beirut. The Islamist group has talked openly of its efforts to rebuild, and Israel estimates that Hezbollah has about 40,000 projectiles, most of them shorter-range rockets and mortar shells.

The group "has been fortifying lots of different areas," said Judith Palmer Harik, a Hezbollah scholar in Beirut. With U.N. and Lebanese forces "packed along the border," she said, "we are looking at a much more expanded battle in all senses of the word."

Just a matter of time?


The border has been relatively quiet since the 2006 war, a fact that officials with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon attribute at least partly to the 400 or so patrols they send out each day to search for weapons stores and prevent border violations.

Armored U.N. vehicles sit at the entrance to southern Lebanon, alongside Lebanese army and intelligence checkpoints; blue-flagged U.N. troops occupy mountaintop posts that Hezbollah used as firing sites in 2006.

"We are covering every square inch," said Maj. S.K. Misra, a spokesman for the battalion of India's 3/11 Gurkha Rifles corps that patrols southeastern Lebanon. "It's impossible for anything to move."

At the same time, debate is raging in political and military circles between those who argue that the damage to each side in 2006 has created a sort of respectful deterrence between Israel and Hezbollah and those who say it is only a matter of time before violence erupts again.

Hezbollah lost hundreds of fighters in the conflict and was put on the defensive in Lebanon, where some questioned whether the group's vow to continue "resistance" against Israel was worth letting an unregulated paramilitary organization effectively make decisions about war and peace.

==========

With Iran backing and supplying Hezbollah and the United States backing and supplying Israel, "the battlefield is Lebanon," said Marwan Hamadeh, a Lebanese member of parliament and supporter of a government coalition that is trying to curb Hezbollah's arms and limit Syrian and Iranian influence in the country. "This is where the Iranian missiles sit, and this is where the Israeli air force can reach."


Israel, meanwhile, lost more than 100 troops and uncharacteristically large numbers of tanks, helicopters and other equipment -- prompting it to rewrite its war doctrine and adjust its perception of Hezbollah's militia. Military analysts now see Hezbollah not as primarily a guerrilla force but as an organization that practices "hybrid war," mixing classic guerrilla tactics with the strategy, equipment and capability of a standing army.

In a 2008 report for the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, analysts Stephen D. Biddle and Jeffrey A. Friedman concluded that Hezbollah had performed more effectively in 2006 than any of the Arab armies from Egypt, Syria or Jordan that had fought conventional wars with Israel over the years, and better in some ways than the Iraqi army in its two wars with the United States.

In Beirut, politicians and analysts agree that the group has only grown stronger since 2006. As they hear Hezbollah's secretary general, Hasan Nasrallah, speak of a conflict that will "change the face of the region," many assume that the IDF will not allow the organization to rearm, recruit and train much longer before striking.

In Israel, Hezbollah is seen as part of a wider struggle for regional influence between Iran and U.S.-allied moderate Arab states, given the group's ties to Iran and Syria and arms supplies assumed to run through both countries.

There is no reason the current calm cannot continue, said retired Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser who is now a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies. But if a conflict does break out, "Israel will not contain that war against Hezbollah," Eiland said. "We cannot."  Given Hezbollah's capabilities, he said, "the only way to deter the other side and prevent the next round -- or if it happens, to win -- is to have a military confrontation with the state of Lebanon."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/22/AR2010012204494.html
24274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: January 24, 2010, 08:58:29 PM
Having read Goldberg's book (Liberal Fascism) I think the piece would have been well served by bringing in the shared intellectual analysis of Mussolini and FDR.  Indeed not doing so was a real missed opportunity.  Also I found some of the editing graphics weird and distracting.
24275  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: International Issues on: January 24, 2010, 08:54:38 PM
Howie:

Please post this at http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1980.0 and then I will delete here.

Thank you.
24276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hitler, Stalin, Che, Mao documentary on: January 24, 2010, 07:19:45 PM
Part 1:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDK1ND9f0KM&feature=related

Part 2:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw7DtjO4V6c&feature=related

Part 3:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8XLKNUJzMQ&feature=related

Part 4:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMPWIqHli00&feature=related

Part 5:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzWLkzcnwp4&feature=related
24277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Gates in Pakistan on: January 24, 2010, 11:43:40 AM
With the US announced to begin leaving this "essential war of self-defense" to the Afghan Army in 16 months or so, is it really surprising that Pakistan plans for what happens after we leave?

Here's POTH's spin:
==================

Gates Sees Fallout From Troubled Ties With Pakistan

 
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: January 23, 2010
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Nobody else in the Obama administration has been mired in Pakistan for as long as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. So on a trip here this past week to try to soothe the country’s growing rancor toward the United States, he served as a punching bag tested over a quarter-century.


“Are you with us or against us?” a senior military officer demanded of Mr. Gates at Pakistan’s National Defense University, according to a Pentagon official who recounted the remark made during a closed-door session after Mr. Gates gave a speech at the school on Friday. Mr. Gates, who could hardly miss that the officer was mimicking former President George W. Bush’s warning to nations harboring militants, simply replied, “Of course we’re with you.”

That was the essence of Mr. Gates’s message over two days to the Pakistanis, who are angry about the Central Intelligence Agency’s surge in missile strikes from drone aircraft on militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, among other grievances, and showed no signs of feeling any love.

The trip, Mr. Gates’s first to Pakistan in three years, proved that dysfunctional relationships span multiple administrations and that the history of American foreign policy is full of unintended consequences.

As the No. 2 official at the C.I.A. in the 1980s, Mr. Gates helped channel Reagan-era covert aid and weapons through Pakistan’s spy agency to the American allies at the time: Islamic fundamentalists fighting the Russians in Afghanistan. Many of those fundamentalists regrouped as the Taliban, who gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and now threaten Pakistan.

In meetings on Thursday, Pakistani leaders repeatedly asked Mr. Gates to give them their own armed drones to go after the militants, not just a dozen smaller, unarmed ones that Mr. Gates announced as gifts meant to placate Pakistan and induce its cooperation.

Pakistani journalists asked Mr. Gates if the United States had plans to take over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons (Mr. Gates said no) and whether the United States would expand the drone strikes farther south into Baluchistan, as is under discussion. Mr. Gates did not answer.

At the same time, the Pakistani Army’s chief spokesman told American reporters at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Thursday that the military had no immediate plans to launch an offensive against extremists in the tribal region of North Waziristan, as American officials have repeatedly urged.

And the spokesman, Maj. Gen Athar Abbas, rejected Mr. Gates’s assertion that Al Qaeda had links to militant groups on Pakistan’s border. Asked why the United States would have such a view, the spokesman, General Abbas, curtly replied, “Ask the United States.”

General Abbas’s comments, made only hours after Mr. Gates arrived in Islamabad, were an affront to an American ally that gave Pakistan $3 billion in military aid last year. But American officials, trying to put a positive face on the general’s remarks and laying out what they described as military reality, said that the Pakistani Army was stretched thin from offensives against militants in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan and probably did not have the troops.

“They don’t have the ability to go into North Waziristan at the moment,” an American military official in Pakistan told reporters. “Now, they may be able to generate the ability. They could certainly accept risk in certain places and relocate some of their forces, but obviously that then creates a potential hole elsewhere that could suffer from Taliban re-encroachment.”

Mr. Gates’s advisers cast him as a good cop on a mission to encourage the Pakistanis rather than berate them. And he was characteristically low-key during most his visit here, including during a session with Pakistani journalists on Friday morning at the home of the American ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson.

But Mr. Gates perked up when he was brought some coffee, and he soon began to push back against General Abbas. American officials say that the real reason Pakistanis distinguish between the groups is that they are reluctant to go after those that they see as a future proxy against Indian interests in Afghanistan when the Americans leave. India is Pakistan’s archrival in the region.

“Dividing these individual extremist groups into individual pockets if you will is in my view a mistaken way to look at the challenge we all face,” Mr. Gates said, then ticked off the collection on the border.

“Al Qaeda, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Tariki Taliban in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Haqqani network — this is a syndicate of terrorists that work together,” he said. “And when one succeeds they all benefit, and they share ideas, they share planning. They don’t operationally coordinate their activities, as best I can tell. But they are in very close contact. They take inspiration from one another, they take ideas from one another.”

Mr. Gates, who repeatedly told the Pakistanis that he regretted their country’s “trust deficit” with the United States and that Americans had made a grave mistake in abandoning Pakistan after the Russians left Afghanistan, promised the military officers that the United States would do better.

His final message delivered, he relaxed on the 14-hour trip home by watching “Seven Days in May,” the cold war-era film about an attempted military coup in the United States.
24278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Price of Tyranny on: January 24, 2010, 11:32:26 AM
These URLs are not working for me , , ,
24279  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: January 24, 2010, 11:30:55 AM
Thank you KD.
24280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: January 24, 2010, 11:26:42 AM
That certainly is a plausible analysis, but IMHO also plausible is that he wanted to run last time but thought that the others were starting too soon.  While he waited for his moment, Fred Thompson stole the thunder.  That Fred then wasted it is another subject. 

You may be right, but I am not ready to write Newt off yet.  If he decides to really make a go of it he could be really formidable.
24281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Foot on Bomb, Marine defies a trap on: January 24, 2010, 11:02:48 AM
January 24, 2010

Foot on Bomb, Marine Defies a Taliban Trap

By C. J. CHIVERS
SHOSHARAK, Afghanistan


If luck is the battlefield’s final arbiter — the wild card that can trump fitness, training, teamwork, equipment, character and skill — then Lance Cpl. Ryan T. Mathison experienced its purest and most welcome form.

On a Marine foot patrol here through the predawn chill of Friday morning, he stepped on a pressure-plate rigged to roughly 25 pounds of explosives. The device, enough to destroy a pickup truck or tear apart several men, was buried beneath him in the dusty soil.

It did not explode.

Lance Corporal Mathison’s weight triggered the detonation of one of the booby trap’s two blasting caps. But upon giving an audible pop and tossing small stones into the air, the device failed to ignite its fuller charge — a powerful mix of Eastern Bloc mortar rounds and homemade explosives spiked with motorcycle parts, rusty spark plugs and jagged chunks of steel.

Lance Corporal Mathison and several Marines near him were spared. So began a brief journey through the Taliban’s shifting tactics and the vagaries of war, where an experience at the edge of death became instead an affirmation of friendship, and in which a veteran Marine reluctantly assumed for a morning one of the infantry’s most coveted roles: that of the charmed man.

“Goddamn Matty, man,” said Cpl. Joshua D. Villegas, the patrol’s radio operator, allowing his eyes to roam over the intact Marine after the patrol had backed away from the dud. “Lucky son of a bitch.”

Homemade bombs, which the military calls improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, have become the insurgents’ killing tool of choice in the Afghan war, a complement to the Taliban’s assault rifles, machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. They serve as a battlefield leveler for elusive fighters who are wary of meeting Western forces head-on.

As their use has multiplied several-fold in the past two years, bomb-disposal specialists and American officers say, the Taliban’s bomb-making cells have sharpened their skills, moving away from smaller bombs in cooking pots to larger bombs encased in multigallon plastic water jugs, cooking-oil containers or ice coolers.

The bombs typically contain a slurry of fertilizer mixed with aluminum-based paint, and are triggered either via switches tripped by their victims or by a militant who detonates the weapon remotely when a victim moves near. Sometimes the insurgents use military-grade explosives from unexploded ordnance or conventional land mines.

No matter their determination or rising level of experience, those who manufacture or place the bombs still make mistakes, as evidenced by events on Friday morning on ground that the Marines call Cemetery Hill.

A foot patrol from Charlie Company, First Battalion, Third Marines left Patrol Base Brannon, a remote outpost in Helmand Province, at about 4:30 a.m., two hours ahead of the sun. The Marines said they were headed to a knoll to settle into an observation post beside a cemetery and watch over a road dubbed Blue Moon.

The cemetery, contained by mud walls and shaded by three tall trees, overlooks part of the small village of Shosharak, including a house from which the Taliban have often fired on Marine patrols. A Marine was killed here last year. It is bitterly contested ground.

The Marines reached the wall. About a half-hour before sunrise, Lance Cpl. Dario P. Quirumbay, 20, the assistant patrol leader, called softly to Lance Corporal Mathison, 21. He wanted to give him a thermal sight to scan the surrounding terrain.

Lance Corporal Mathison moved toward his friend. When he was a few feet away, the weight of his footfall depressed something hidden in the dirt. There was a muffled pop, a sound resembling a man stomping on a bottle. A small explosion — like that of firecracker — lifted his boot. Rocks peppered the two Marines.

“Don’t move!” Lance Corporal Quirumbay said.

Wary of stepping on another bomb, the patrol sat still until light glowed in the eastern horizon, when other Marines unfolded a metal detector and swept around their friend. The detector emitted a loud whine, signaling that a large bomb remained in the soil.

The Marines radioed for a team that specializes in dismantling explosives and backed off the knoll.

By the time the disposal team arrived, sweeping down Blue Moon with metal detectors, most of the Marines understood how lucky they had been. “We were what? Ten meters from it?” said Hospitalman Joseph R. Korte, 20, the patrol’s trauma medic.

“Five,” said Lance Corporal Hickson, 21.

Hospitalman Korte looked over at Lance Corporal Mathison, who was crouched against a wall. “That would have killed you and Q,” he said, using Lance Corporal Quirumbay’s nickname.

Lance Corporal Mathison is a big Marine, thick at the neck and light on his feet, and a veteran of a tour in Iraq’s Anbar Province. He seemed to be suspending belief. He listened to his friends in silence.

“I’m still calling it nothing,” he said at last. “I’m going with that it was nothing.”

He finished his thought. “Makes me feel better,” he said.

The rest of the patrol would not have it. “Well, Matty,” said Lance Corporal Hickson, his voice rising. “You might want to stop drinking, stop cussing.” Someone else mused about all the free beers Lance Corporal Mathison could expect.

Lance Cpl. Jacob M. Ohl, 19, interrupted. “Hickson was reading the Bible last night,” he said. “Been to church three times in his life, and last night he was reading the Bible.”

“I saved you,” Lance Corporal Hickson said.

He grinned. No one seemed sure what to think. They passed cigarettes, except for Lance Corporal Mathison: He pulled a lollipop from a plastic bag and popped it into his mouth.

He watched the two Marines in the disposal team working on the hill. They were busy, and moving cautiously. Lance Corporal Mathison had not wanted to accept that it was a bomb. He was beginning to shift his point of view.

“If this really was an I.E.D, then you ain’t drinking with me,” he said. “Because I’m done drinking. I’m going back to the way I was before I joined the Corps.”

An improvised bomb is a simple thing — a few batteries, a few wires, a blasting cap or two inserted into a stable explosive charge. A pressure plate serves as a switch. When depressed, the circuit is closed, the current from the batteries flows to the blasting cap, igniting the cap and setting off the full blast.

Ordnance specialists have a label for devices designed this way: victim-operated.

As simple as the system seems to be, there are many opportunities for malfunctions. But the Marines were puzzled. Up at the cemetery, a blasting cap had exploded, suggesting that the bomb maker had rigged a working circuit. Were it not for some unexplained fluke, these men knew, the bomb should have detonated, too.

Corporal Villegas, the radio operator, jogged over. “Matty, I love you,” he said as he ducked along the wall.

The arrival of the radio operator meant the Marines now had an infantryman’s oxygen: information. They could overhear radio traffic between the patrol leader and the disposal team.

Word began to reach them. The pressure plate had been connected to two 82-millimeter mortar rounds and a directional fragmentation charge weighing roughly 20 pounds. The meaning of that sunk in. If it had exploded, it would have killed more than the two nearest Marines.

“Oh God, dude,” one of the Marines said. Another strung together a profane phrase. The first word was dodged. The last was death.

“Oh Matty, get over here,” said Lance Corporal Hickson. The two men hugged. They slapped each other’s backs. They let go.

Lance Corporal Mathison was convinced. It really had been a bomb. “We’re all lucky, man,” he said. “That would have hurt us all.”

A few minutes later, Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Dreher, from the disposal team, called for the man who had stepped on the pressure plate. The staff sergeant had collected evidence from the bomb and rigged a small charge of plastic explosive to destroy what remained. He asked Lance Corporal Mathison to ignite the blast.

“If that I.E.D. had worked like it was supposed to?” the staff sergeant said. “Bye-bye, sweetheart.”

“Fire in the hole!” he shouted three times. Then the blast shook the earth. Dirt, stone and bits of metal showered the ground for several seconds — the end of a weapon that had nearly decimated a small patrol.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/wo...ia/24trap.html
24282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: January 23, 2010, 03:20:18 PM
FAR too much cognitive dissonance on foreign affairs, the War with Islamo-fascism etc.
24283  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA Kali Tudo (tm) Training Camp Feb 6-7 on: January 23, 2010, 03:17:52 PM
PM Kaju Dog please.
24284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The American Creed: Our Founding Fathers: on: January 23, 2010, 09:40:22 AM
"A penny saved is twopence clear." --Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1737

"He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing." --Benjamin Franklin, writings, 1758

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Shelton Gilliam, 1808

"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Ludlow, 1824

"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them." --Thomas Jefferson, Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1774
24285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why CA is broke on: January 23, 2010, 09:14:52 AM
Second post:

Why Is California Broke?

Posted: 22 Jan 2010 09:52 PM PST

Inquiring minds are asking "Why Is California Broke?" It's a good question. Please consider ...


California has the 3rd highest state income tax in the nation: 9.55% tax bracket at $47,055 and 10.55% at $1,000,000 - Tax Foundation 2010 State Business Tax Climate Table 2
California has the highest state sales tax rate in the nation by far at 8.25%. Indiana is next highest at 7%. Table 15
California corporate income tax rate is 3rd worst in the nation with a rate of 8.84%. - Table 2 and Table 8
California ranks 13th in property taxes. Table 2

California has the fourth highest capital gains tax 9.55%. - Capital Gains Tax Rates By State
California has the highest gasoline tax as of January 2010, averaging 65 cents/gallon. The national average is 47.4% - API Motor Fuel Taxes
California has one of the highest state vehicle license car taxes, 1.15% per year on value of vehicle, up from 0.65% in 2008. [expired link]

So where's the money going?


1 in 5 in LA County receiving public aid, nearly 2.2 million people as of February 2009. 20% in Los Angeles County receive public aid
California has 12% of the nation’s population, but 36% of the country’s TANF (“Temporary” Assistance for Needy Families) welfare recipients – more than the next 8 states combined. Unlike other states, this “temporary” assistance becomes much more permanent in CA. July, 2009 California has more recipients in key welfare category than next eight states combined.
California prison guards highest paid in the nation. The maximum pay of California's prison guards is nearly 40 percent higher than that of the highest-paid guards in 10 other states and the federal government, according to a study by the California Department of Personnel Administration. Cal-Taxletter
California teachers easily the highest paid in the nation. National Education Association
California now has the lowest bond ratings of any state, two steps above junk. The new rating affects about $72 billion of general obligation and lease-supported bonds. July 15 California bond rating cut again
California ranks 44th worst in “2008 lawsuit climate.” Institute For Legal Reform
California, a destitute state, still gives away college education at fire sale prices. California community college tuition is by far the lowest in the nation. Nationwide, the average community college tuition is 4.5 times higher than California CC’s. This ridiculously low tuition devalues education to students – resulting in a 30+% drop rate for class completion. Moreover, 2/3 of California CC students pay no tuition at all – filling out a simple unverified “hardship” form that exempts them from any tuition payment, or receiving grants and tax credits for their full tuition. [Expired Link]
California offers thousands of absolutely free adult continuing education classes. In San Diego, over 1,400 classes for everything from baking pastries to ballroom dancing are offered totally at taxpayer expense. San Diego Continuing Education
California residential electricity costs 13.81 cents per kilowatthour. The national average is 6.99-8.49. US Department of Energy
It costs 38% more to build solar panels in California than in Tennessee – which is why European corporations have invested $2.3 billion in two Tennessee manufacturing plants to build solar panels for our state. March 5, 2009 More Solar Companies Producing Elsewhere to Sell to California

The above lists reformatted and reordered from a list compiled by Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters.
24286  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Package deal on KT stuff on: January 23, 2010, 08:48:53 AM
Package deal on KT stuff:

http://dogbrothers.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=35&products_id=153
24287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Public Unions on: January 23, 2010, 08:34:16 AM
By STEVEN GREENHUT
Sacramento

An old friend of mine has a saying, "Even the worm learns." Prod one several hundred times, he says, and it will learn to avoid the prodder. As California enters its annual budget drama, I can't help but wonder if the wisdom of the elected politicians here in the state capital equals that of the earthworm.

The state is in a precarious position, with a 12.3% unemployment rate (more than two points higher than the national average) and a budget $20 billion in the red (only months after the last budget fix closed a large deficit). Productive Californians are leaving for states with less-punishing regulatory and tax regimes. Yet so far there isn't a broad consensus to do much about those who have prodded the state into its current position: public employee unions that drive costs up and fight to block spending cuts.

Earlier this month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a budget that calls for a $6.9 billion handout from Washington (unlikely to be forthcoming) and vows to protect current education funding, 40% of the state's budget. He does want to eliminate the Calworks welfare-to-work program and enact a 5% pay cut for state employees. These are reasonable ideas, but also politically unlikely.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Los Angeles County employees rally for a new contract.
.As the Sacramento Bee's veteran columnist Dan Walters recently put it, the governor's budget is "disconnected from economic and political reality." Mr. Walters suspects what will happen next: "Most likely, [the governor] and lawmakers will, to use his own phrase, 'kick the can down the road' with some more accounting tricks and other gimmicks, and dump the mess on whoever is ill-fated to become governor a year hence."

Mr. Walters' Jan. 10 column was fittingly titled, "Schwarzenegger Reverts to Fantasy with Budget Proposal." Shortly before releasing his budget, the governor and Democratic state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg held a self-congratulatory news conference. Mr. Steinberg used the spotlight to bemoan what he deemed to be unfair attacks on California. Mr. Schwarzenegger told a hokey story about his pet pig and pony working together to break into the dog's food. It was an example, he said, of how "last year, we here in this room did some great things working together."

Meanwhile, activists are fast at work. For example, the Bay Area Council, a moderate business organization, is pushing for a constitutional convention to reshape California's textbook-sized constitution. The council's aim is to ditch a constitutional provision that requires a two-thirds vote in the legislature to pass budgets. Other reforms being proposed include a plan to institute a part-time legislature and another plan to require legislators to pass drug tests. None of these ideas will ratchet down state spending.

To do that California needs to take on its public employee unions.

Approximately 85% of the state's 235,000 employees (not including higher education employees) are unionized. As the governor noted during his $83 billion budget roll-out, over the past decade pension costs for public employees increased 2,000%. State revenues increased only 24% over the same period. A Schwarzenegger adviser wrote in the San Jose Mercury News in the past few days that, "This year alone, $3 billion was diverted to pension costs from other programs." There are now more than 15,000 government retirees statewide who receive pensions that exceed $100,000 a year, according to the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

Many of these retirees are former police officers, firefighters, and prison guards who can retire at age 50 with a pension that equals 90% of their final year's pay. The pensions for these (and all other retirees) increase each year with inflation and are guaranteed by taxpayers forever—regardless of what happens in the economy or whether the state's pensions funds have been fully funded (which they haven't been).

A 2008 state commission pegged California's unfunded pension liability at $63.5 billion, which will be amortized over several decades. That liability, released before the precipitous drop in stock-market and real-estate values, certainly will soar.

One idea gaining traction is to create a two-tier pension system to offer lesser benefits to new employees. That's a good start, but it would still leave tens of thousands of state employees in line to receive lucrative benefits that the state must find future revenues to pay for. Another is to enact paycheck protections that require union officials to get permission from their members before spending union dues on politics (something that would undercut union power).

My hope is that these and other reforms find support in unlikely places. Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a well-known liberal voice, recently wrote this in the San Francisco Chronicle: "The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life. But we politicians—pushed by our friends in labor—gradually expanded pay and benefits . . . while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages. . . . [A]t some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact."

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, another prominent liberal Democrat, told a legislative hearing in October that public employee pensions would "bankrupt" the state. And the chief actuary for the California Public Employees Retirement System has called the current pension situation "unsustainable."

As the state careens toward insolvency, these remarks are the first sign that some people are learning the lesson of the earthworm.

Mr. Greenhut is director of the Pacific Research Institute's journalism center and author of the new book "Plunder! How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation" (The Forum Press).

24288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / National Enquirer and John Edwards on: January 23, 2010, 08:30:11 AM
By DAVID PEREL
It took John Edwards two years to tell the truth. I was surprised; I thought it would take longer.

The man who risked the fate of the Democratic Party to satisfy his political narcissism released a statement Thursday finally admitting paternity of Rielle Hunter's daughter. In part, he said: "To all those I have disappointed and hurt, these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry."

His sincerity was as egocentrically superficial as his infamous $1,250 haircut during the 2004 presidential race.

If this seems harsh, it's an analysis borne of two and a half years uncovering the former North Carolina senator's affair while I was editor in chief of the National Enquirer. Throughout the 2008 Democratic primary, I watched him lie, use associates to help him lie, and perniciously abuse public trust while campaigning on restoring a moral core to fill the void of America's diminishing greatness.

In October 2007, after invoking Martin Luther King Jr. in a campaign speech, Mr. Edwards said: "There are much more important things in life than winning elections at the cost of selling your soul. Especially right now, when our country . . . needs to hear the truth from its leaders."

Cut to Aug. 8, 2008, when Mr. Edwards, after being caught visiting his mistress and their baby in the middle of the night by the National Enquirer, admits his affair on ABC's "Nightline" only because he can no longer credibly deny or evade the issue.

In his mea culpa about the affair, when confronted with the issue of paternity and an Enquirer photo of him holding the baby, Mr. Edwards told a national TV audience: "I don't know who that baby is" and insisted that "timing" made it impossible for him to be the father.

Mr. Edwards's admission of paternity is the final vindication for the National Enquirer, which broke the news of his affair with Ms. Hunter in 2007 and continues to pursue the story. A December 2007 Enquirer report featured a photograph of a clearly pregnant Ms. Hunter and detailed information that she was being hidden in a North Carolina gated community by Mr. Edwards's friend and aide Andrew Young.

At the time, as editor in chief of the Enquirer, I directed a several-month operation with reporters and photographers on stakeout in North Carolina to nail down this scoop. We believed the photograph of Ms. Hunter, the checkable facts about her relationship with Mr. Edwards, and the in-process coverup would cause an instant public uproar as the mainstream press verified the article and demanded answers from Mr. Edwards.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Former Sen. John Edwards
.But the photograph of Ms. Hunter pregnant and a slew of well-documented facts in the Enquirer article did nothing to enervate Mr. Edwards's brazen quest for power or budge the mainstream press from its comfortable seat on the campaign bus. A cursory question about the affair was eventually asked, to which a smug Mr. Edwards responded: "tabloid trash."

And then there was silence. While Mr. Edwards went on to lose the Democratic primary, he still tried to position himself for an important role in the new administration, attempting to barter his way into being named attorney general. He might have made it that far if the Enquirer had given up after its initial exclusive was dismissed by the candidate, the press and the public.

Faced with public and press indifference to a major political exclusive on a leading presidential candidate, many at the Enquirer assumed we were finished with a story that had consumed tremendous resources for little payoff. The investigative team was buoyed when we decided to continue.

Was the decision to stay after Mr. Edwards made out of anger over his lies and their acceptance by the press and public? Was it a high-minded attempt to force the public to acknowledge the dangerous character flaws of a man who was headed for some type of high office? Or was it simply a tabloid instinct to illuminate the crepuscular hiding places where the rich and famous store their secrets? Draw your own conclusions, but ultimately the public good was served in a way that was undeniable.

Months passed. The Enquirer had several after-the-fact confirmations of meetings between Mr. Edwards and Ms. Hunter. We abandoned our normal methodology and did not run articles on these. The breakthrough came early summer of 2008, with information that Ms. Hunter and Mr. Edwards would secretly meet at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Two separate teams of Enquirer reporters and photographers checked into the hotel and were deployed at various points on the property.

Ms. Hunter and Mr. Edwards met on July 21, 2008. Enquirer cameras captured it all on videotape, including early the next morning when Mr. Edwards, confronted by an Enquirer reporter as he left Ms. Hunter's room, ran into the men's room.

Hours later, I posted our new exclusive on the Enquirer's Web site and shortly thereafter published in the Enquirer the photo of Mr. Edwards holding his baby. Still, the mainstream media was reluctant to run the story. Numerous reporters and editors from other outlets called and asked me to release the video footage of that night. I refused. Some were angry. I owed and offered them no explanation about our strategy—until now.

Mr. Edwards had already shown us his willingness to lie in the face of overwhelming evidence. In July 2008, Mr. Edwards knew the Enquirer had him on video and he waited. Behind the scenes we sent him a message—deny the affair and we will release the video and prove you a liar. At the same time an ABC News investigative team pounded him.

When Mr. Edwards realized there was no way out, he tried to control the damage and decided to confess to the affair. He appeared on "Nightline" on Aug. 8, 2008, and admitted only to the affair, knowing the Enquirer had his meeting with Ms. Hunter on video. At points in the interview he offered ridiculous denials about paternity and the photo of him with his child.

It had taken 10 months for the Enquirer to prove Mr. Edwards affair, and once he confessed we knew it still wasn't over. Paternity was the next issue. But again, Mr. Edwards would admit the truth only when it was absolutely necessary.

In late 2008, the Enquirer, confident in our sources, reported definitively that Mr. Edwards was the father of the baby. Again he evaded the question even while our sources told us he was privately arguing over child support with Ms. Hunter, the terms of which he now says have been agreed upon.

Some journalists asked me if the Enquirer had a DNA match of Mr. Edwards and the child. I never answered that question. But the possibility that we had obtained a DNA match may explain why Mr. Edwards never followed through with his plan—according to recent statements by his aide Mr. Young—to fake a DNA test. He knew the possibility of a real one proving his paternity would be produced.

Two years and three months after the Enquirer first reported on his affair with Rielle Hunter, John Edwards released a statement acknowledging paternity of her baby.

Mr. Perel, the editor in chief of the National Enquirer from 2006 to January 2009, directed its coverage of the John Edwards affair.
24289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Killer in AK claims AQ ties on: January 23, 2010, 07:56:27 AM
Suspect in Recruit Shooting Claims Al Qaeda Ties

Friday , January 22, 2010

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. —
The man accused of killing one soldier and wounding another outside an Arkansas military recruiting center has asked a judge to change his plea to guilty, claiming ties to Al Qaeda.


Abdulhakim Muhammad's attorney, Claiborne Ferguson, said Thursday night that his client sent a letter earlier this month to the judge in his case asking to change his plea to capital murder and attempted capital murder charges.

Click here for photos.
Ferguson said he hadn't discussed the request with his client before the letter was sent. Under Arkansas law prosecutors would have to agree and waive the death penalty before the judge could consider it, Ferguson said.
Pvt. William Long of Conway was killed in the June 1 attack, and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula was wounded.

Muhammad has called the shootings justified retaliation for U.S. military action in the Middle East. He told The Associated Press in a telephone interview last year that he doesn't believe he's guilty.
The New York Times, which first reported the letter on its Web site Thursday, said Muhammad described himself in the letter as a soldier in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and called the shooting "a Jihadi Attack." The group has claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound American airliner.

"I wasn't insane or post traumatic, nor was I forced to do this act," Muhammad claimed in the handwritten letter, the newspaper reported.
Ferguson said he didn't know how seriously to take Muhammad's claims of terror ties and expressed frustration with his client sending the letter without consulting him beforehand.

"He's said lots of things. None of them seem to be real consistent with each other," Ferguson said. "I'm a little irritated with it."

Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley did not immediately return a message left on his cell phone Thursday night, but prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty in the case.

Muhammad was arrested about eight miles from the recruiting center, on Interstate 630, shortly after the shootings. Police said they recovered Molotov cocktails, three guns and ammunition from his pickup truck. An internal law enforcement memo said Muhammad may have considered other targets, including military sites and Jewish organizations in the Southeast.

A law enforcement official told the AP in June that Muhammad had been under investigation by an FBI-led terrorism task force since he returned to the United States from Yemen in 2008. Muhammad, who was born Carlos Bledsoe, had moved to Little Rock to work in his father's Memphis-based tour bus company as it branched out.

Muhammad, who has called the AP twice since his arrest, has claimed responsibility for the shooting and said it was justified because of what he called American-directed hostilities toward the Muslim world.

Last week, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herbert Wright Jr. ordered the state public defenders commission to pay some of the legal bills for Muhammad's trial, which is scheduled to begin in June. Ferguson was hired by Muhammad's family to represent him.
24290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: January 23, 2010, 07:54:37 AM
Well, there is that little matter of the entire House of Representatives and one third of the US Senate being up for election in ten months , , ,
24291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: January 23, 2010, 07:52:58 AM
As the saying goes "I carry a gun because a policeman is too heavy" though as a subject of the PR of CA, that is not true in my case.
24292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt Gingrich on: January 23, 2010, 07:51:23 AM


http://newt.org/MediaArchives/tabid/217/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/4746/Default.aspx

PS:  Saw on FOX that Newt did not deny considering run for Presidency , , ,
24293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Gathering Clusterfcuk , , , on: January 22, 2010, 11:51:30 PM
What Europe and Pakistan's Self-Preservation Means for Afghanistan
DIRE ECONOMIC NEWS continues streaming from Europe, with the latest figures released on Thursday showing a slowdown in the expansion of Europe’s service and manufacturing industries. The composite index based on a purchasing managers’ survey conducted by Merkit Economics, fell to 53.6 points in January from 54.2 points in December 2009.

Europe’s problems are far more serious than those of the United States. The recession actually began about six months earlier in parts of Europe than in the United States. Furthermore, Europe has yet to seriously address the problems triggered by the U.S. recession — namely, several European banks are still worried about write-downs due to toxic assets on their balance sheets. Banks are wary of lending while governments are using any means necessary, including threats of regulation, to persuade them to lend.

“The Europeans’ concern about the growing economic crisis at home will have geopolitical implications for the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.”
The problem would be less serious if it were limited to the economies on Europe’s periphery, but it is the main economic powerhouses that are hurting. The euro’s strength against the U.S. dollar is hurting Europe’s competitiveness. Under particular strain is Europe’s economic engine, Germany, whose exports account for 47 percent of its gross domestic product. Unemployment is also inching above 10 percent, with only government stimulus programs — which are expiring or largely expired — holding it back.

Finally, the peripheral economies — starting with Greece, Portugal and Ireland, but also including Spain — are not looking good. Greece in particular has been rocked by investor uncertainty over Athens’ ability to cut its budget deficit. As investors become more spooked by the Greek macroeconomic outlook, the demand for the country’s debt decreases, raising the costs Athens needs to pay to service its already enormous debt.

The question for Europe is what happens if Greece can no longer pay for its budget deficit or debt servicing. At that point, the story would no longer be about Greece, but about Germany and the eurozone as a whole. If Greece and some other Mediterranean countries were the extent of the problem, Germany probably could intervene and save the day. But how can Germany have the economic and — much more importantly — the political capability to bail out peripheral economies when it is facing a potential double dip recession? In such economic uncertainty — with the potential for rising unemployment and more dire banking news in store for 2010 — it would be political suicide for Berlin to try to rescue Athens or Lisbon.

Therefore, it seems that peripheral Europe and core Europe are growing further apart as Europe devolves into an “every man for himself” situation. The Europeans’ concern about the growing economic crisis at home will have geopolitical implications for the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Namely, it places significant limitations on the commitment Washington’s NATO allies can offer to Afghanistan.

This means the U.S. military surge — already fraught with limitations — is unlikely to produce the kind of results Washington wants in terms of undermining the momentum of the Afghan Taliban insurgency. This is where the battle in Afghanistan becomes even more of an intelligence war. Pakistan is the one reservoir of intelligence that could help the United States, but Washington and Islamabad are having numerous serious problems, as evidenced by U.S. Secretary Robert Gates’ trip to the country on Thursday.

For starters, Gates — leading a 125-member delegation — flew into Islamabad from Pakistan’s arch rival India, where he made statements that fueled Pakistan’s fears. Gates said India is unlikely to use restraint if Pakistan-based militants should stage another attack like those seen in Mumbai in November 2008. Then, in a rare move, the top U.S. defense official authored an opinion piece in a leading Pakistani daily (published before his arrival in Islamabad) saying there is no difference between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. Gates also said he would ask Islamabad to expand its counterjihadist military offensive to North Waziristan, an area in the tribal belt that contains the largest concentration of Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda elements and is not being targeted by the Pakistanis.

The Pakistanis quickly responded by saying they had no plans for any operations beyond their current engagements in the next six to 12 months. The country’s military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, said it would take that much time to stabilize South Waziristan before Pakistani forces moved on to new fronts. There is no doubt that Pakistan cannot fight all types of Islamist militants in different areas at the same time. The Pentagon’s press secretary, Geoff Morrell, acknowledged that much when he told reporters that Pakistan’s military is “operating at a higher operational tempo than it has in recent memory and they are being stretched very thin, as our military is for that matter.”

But the issue is not just one of capability. It is also about intent and Islamabad’s strategic imperatives. The Pakistanis realize that the United States and its Western allies aren’t looking at a long-term military commitment to Afghanistan. Therefore, from Islamabad’s point of view, it makes no sense to go after those militants fighting in Afghanistan. Doing so would not only exacerbate the insurgency within its own borders in the short term, it would also create a much larger cross-border mess for Islamabad to deal with long after Western forces leave the region. Furthermore, Taliban fighting in Afghanistan are tools Pakistan can use to roll back Indian influence in Afghanistan, which has increased significantly in the last eight years. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will undertake the kind of action that the United States wants, because it would be tantamount to national suicide.

Essentially, strategic interests are preventing full support from the two key allies — Europe and Pakistan — that the Obama administration has been counting on to fight the war in Afghanistan.
24294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Social Networks and Privacy on: January 22, 2010, 11:32:25 PM
Creditworthy? Lenders delve into your social networks

January 21, 2010 - 6:00am


Lenders are using social graphs to determine how creditworthy you are. (Getty Images)

UNDATED - Your social networking chit-chat could have an impact on your credit - specifically on whether banks think you are worthy of a loan.
Creditors are checking out what you post to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. They're checking out who your friends are and who the people are in your networks.

The presumption is that if your friends are responsible credit cardholders and pay their bills on time, you could be a good credit customer, according to CreditCards.com.

A company called San Francisco-based company Rapleaf monitors what people tweet or post on Facebook and compiles what it calls social graphs of your likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses.

Lenders say having a wide network of friends can expedite getting a loan, while discrepancies between your loan application and your Facebook wall information can raise red flags. Negative comments about your business also can impact your creditworthiness.

Joel Jewitt, vice president of business development of Rapleaf, says creditors aren't accessing the credit reports of your online friends and aren't using the data to find reasons to reject customers.

While lenders say they are using the information for marketing purposes -- to find out what you may like based on what your friends like, the idea of data mining beyond your credit score raises privacy concerns. Some consumer advocates say people may not realize how important their privacy settings are.

You may want to check out the profiles of the folks you friend and delete people you think could potentially damage your credit or employment reputation.

And, of course, you want to remember that what you post is public.
(Copyright 2010 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
24295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Glen Beck on: January 22, 2010, 11:13:41 PM
My son and I watched today.  Very interesting piece (though I thought it could have been done a bit better) and I hope there will be discussion here.
24296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: January 22, 2010, 11:10:33 PM
Rum Int today that there were 22 FBI arrests on Day One of people who accepted an undercover FBI agent's offer to greae the palms of the decision maker in a certain African govt  shocked

Naturally the coolest toys were in the military area and rather than mistakenly speak of something best left unsaid in a public forum I will wait until we next speak directly.
24297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Price of Tyranny on: January 22, 2010, 11:05:33 PM
I'd love to see discussion of this in the Glenn Beck thread.
24298  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: January 22, 2010, 11:01:36 PM
I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you , , , wink
24299  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: January 22, 2010, 11:00:44 PM
Let the Howl go forth!
24300  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: January 20, 2010, 09:34:37 AM
 grin

Some extraordinary toys here  cool
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