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24351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 22, 2010, 02:01:20 PM
Sorry, having LOTS of internet connection problems.  Right now I am on the neighbor's connection.  In that Cindy is out of town and she is the geek in our family, it is hard to predict when all of this will get straightened out.
24352  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 22, 2010, 01:55:37 PM
We are having internet connection problems again-- AND Cindy is out of town visiting my mom  shocked
24353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 20, 2010, 01:47:59 PM
Perhaps I read too much into what you say, but I am not seeing a point at which you would draw a line.
24354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The on: October 20, 2010, 01:45:20 PM
Paris, Berlin, Moscow and the Emerging Concert of Europe

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is hosting Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday and Tuesday at the French Atlantic resort of Deauville. The summit is being described by Western media as an opportunity for Russia to improve its relations with NATO, with Paris and Berlin lending a hand toward the reconciliation between Moscow and the West.

In a way, the press on the summit is correct: The summit is ultimately about the West’s relationship with Russia. Unfortunately for the United States, Central Europeans, the United Kingdom and a large part of Europe’s firmly pro-U.S. countries such as the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark, it’s about the West as defined by Paris and Berlin — which is to say … Paris and Berlin.

“For both France and Germany, but particularly Germany, Russia is not a current security threat but rather a potential energy and economic partner.”
The topics of the meeting will be wide ranging, concentrating on security and Moscow’s relationship with NATO and the European Union. Specifically, the Russian president will bring up the Russian proposal for a new European Security Treaty. While Moscow claims that the proposal is not intended to replace NATO, the United States and its European allies — particularly Central Europeans worried about Russia’s intentions — see it as attempting to do exactly that.

Both Sarkozy and Merkel have indicated that they will listen to what Medvedev has to say on the proposed treaty. Just the fact that Berlin and Paris are willing to listen to Moscow’s proposal is worrisome to the rest of Europe. In fact, the timing of the summit is particularly jarring. The NATO heads of state summit — at which the alliance will approve a new Strategic Concept — is to be held in exactly one month, and yet Paris and Berlin have no problems so openly coordinating European security with Moscow. It is akin to spending a weekend on the sea with a mistress ahead of one’s 25-year marriage anniversary.

Paris and Berlin are both feeling like their marriage with NATO is getting stale. For both France and Germany, but particularly Germany, Russia is not a current security threat but rather a potential energy and economic partner. And neither Berlin nor Paris wants to be part of any future “American adventurism” outside of the European theater of operations, since both see efforts in Afghanistan as largely an enormous expenditure of resources for dubious benefits. The divergent interests of the various NATO member states have France and Germany looking to bring matters of European security back to the European theater, and that means talking to Russia.

France has an additional motive in wanting to make sure that as Germany and Russia get close, France is the one organizing the meeting and therefore keeping an eye on the developing Berlin-Moscow relationship (as evidenced by the fact that Sarkozy is the one hosting the other two leaders). In this context, we can consider Sarkozy’s idea to set up a European Security Council, which according to German newspaper Der Spiegel he would propose at the Deauville summit. Paris is trying to compensate for the strong Berlin-Moscow relationship by going out of its way to create structures that would involve Paris in the future European security architecture. France wants to be able to control the discussion and the makeup at these forums and introduce outside players if it feels that it needs to balance Moscow and Berlin.

While no public or official proposals or agreements may be seen out of the Deauville meeting, Russia is more interested in striking a very real understanding with France and Germany. The lack of public announcements should not detract from the fact that Medvedev is meeting with Sarkozy and Merkel to get a sense of their willingness to offer Russia clear security concessions. Russia wants a commitment and an understanding from France and Germany that they are willing to allow Russia its sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union and that they intend to coordinate with Russia on any future security matters that affect Moscow. Moscow does not want to be blindsided in the future as it was with the West’s decision to back Kosovo’s independence or to be completely left outside of European security matters as it was during the 1990s and doesn’t want to cross a red line with Paris or Berlin as it resurges. Tuesday’s meeting is most likely about creating guidelines on what Russia is allowed to do and what is going too far. Russia is currently at a delicate place in its resurgence during which it may cross into territory that could be construed as being beyond its direct sphere — specifically Moldova — so it needs to know where France and Germany stand now.

The entire episode is beginning to look very much like the Concert of Europe congress system of diplomacy. Between 1815 and 1914, Europeans resolved most geopolitical disagreements by holding a “Congress” at which concessions were made and general geopolitical horse-trading was conducted among the European powers. And if a particularly problematic country refused to make concessions — or was the very subject of the meeting — it could be denied access to the Congress in question.

Whether the Deauville summit results in concrete proposals or not, the significance is not in statements that follow but in the fact that Berlin and Paris no longer see anything wrong in spending a few days by the sea with Russia, especially as the rest of their supposed European allies wait for their input at the NATO summit. This tells us that Europe may have already entered a new Concert era, whether or not post-WWII institutions such as NATO still exist.

24355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 20, 2010, 12:06:46 PM
Trade wars are very bad things and tend to have consequences far beyond those originally envisioned.

That said, we must consider the possibility that China is starting one with us whether we like it or not.  In case such is the case, then we need a clear-headed assessment of who "wins" (i.e. loses less).

GM, you've been a serious observer of China for some time now.  Why do you say they win a trade war with us?
24356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 20, 2010, 12:02:48 PM
I continue to worry.

I saw yesterday that Murkowski has pulled to a statistical dead heat with Miller in Alaska.  Engle can lose NE (and Reid IMHO is just the man to cheat to help make that happen).  I read that O'Donnel in the debate bobbled the whole issue of teaching creationism in science class and came off looking like an ingnoramus on the first amendment and separation of church and state.   Paladino is looking quite the ass in NY.

If the promised tsunami doesn't happen this will all get played as an intramural squabble between the whacko tea partiers and the Rinos.

24357  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: October 20, 2010, 11:16:33 AM
Grateful to be home with my family!!!
24358  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 20, 2010, 11:15:37 AM
I'm back from a fine time in Bloomington.

I have a feeling of being able to settle in for a while after several months of seminars, government work, the DB Gathering, another matter that took great amounts of time at a fairly heavy emotional cost, etc etc.

I am really looking forward to getting my groove on!

PS:  Folks, now that starting today my wife will be visiting my mother for a week and so during that time all will be glorious chaos here cheesy
24359  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Marc Denny Seminar Bloomington Illinois October 16th and 17th 2010 on: October 20, 2010, 11:12:48 AM
Woof Terry et al:

As always a fine time.  Thank you for your gracious hospitality and the pleasure of working with the fine group of people you attract.  Thanks to all who travelled so far to come (Long distance price to Dog Howie who came from Philadelphia).

Your group is moving forward nicely and I look forward to the next time.

To walk as a warrior for all our days,
Guro Crafty
24360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our man returns to Iraq 8(?) on: October 19, 2010, 07:44:07 AM
As I opened the exterior door of the Villa this morning at about 0655, I heard a huge boom.  Second loudest boom I have heard in all thiem time I have been over here combined.
At about 0720 while in the NEC DFAC, I heard another big boom.
Both sounded like truck bombs would.
So, it has been on like Donkeykong in Baghdad this morning.
Which is ironic because just last night as I was surfing the web to see what bad things have been going on in Iraq today, I thought to myself "man it's been very quiet.  We are due for something." 
Then I thought to myself "I wonder if the Iraqis think like that and warn their security folks the equivalent of we're due for something!"
24361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Excrement happens on: October 19, 2010, 07:43:06 AM
In the beginning was the plan.

And then came the Assumptions.

And the Assumptions were without form.
And the Plan was without substance.

And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.

And they spoke among themselves, saying,
"It is a crock of shit, and it stinketh."
And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said,
"It is a pail of dung, and none may abide the odor thereof."
And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying,
"It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong,
such that none may abide by it."
And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying,
"It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength."
And the Directors spoke amongst themselves, saying one to another,
"It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."
And the Directors then went unto the Vice-Presidents, saying unto them,
"It promotes growth, and it is very powerful."
And the Vice-Presidents went unto the President, saying unto him,
"This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigor
of the company, with powerful effects."
And the President Looked upon the Plan, and saw that it was good.
And the Plan became Policy.

This is how Shit Happens
24362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: October 19, 2010, 07:39:43 AM
I return late tonight from Bloomington IL.
24363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 19, 2010, 07:39:08 AM
Woof All:

I find myself worrying about how cocky some of the reporting by our usual sources is getting; if Angle loses in NE, if O'Donnell loses in DE, the Reps do not take the Senate and the Tea Party will be blamed by the RINOs and the chattering classes.
24364  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: October 18, 2010, 06:29:18 PM
As far as I know the show is in HD.

I am in Bloomington IL at the moment and will return Tuesday night and will look to answer your other questions later this week.
24365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Surprisingly candid comment from Merkel on: October 18, 2010, 08:26:46 AM
by Audrey Kauffmann Audrey Kauffmann – Sun Oct 17, 11:50 am ET
BERLIN (AFP) – Germany's attempt to create a multi-cultural society has failed completely, Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the weekend, calling on the country's immigrants to learn German and adopt Christian values.

Merkel weighed in for the first time in a blistering debate sparked by a central bank board member saying the country was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants.

"Multikulti", the concept that "we are now living side by side and are happy about it," does not work, Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam near Berlin.

"This approach has failed, totally," she said, adding that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany's culture and values.

"We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don't accept them don't have a place here," said the chancellor.

"Subsidising immigrants" isn't sufficient, Germany has the right to "make demands" on them, she added, such as mastering the language of Goethe and abandoning practices such as forced marriages.

Merkel spoke a week after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which they pledged to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Germany's 2.5-million-strong Turkish community.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul, in a weekend interview, also urged the Turkish community living in Germany to master the language of their adopted country.

"When one doesn't speak the language of the country in which one lives that doesn't serve anyone, neither the person concerned, the country, nor the society," the Turkish president told the Suedeutsche Zeitung.

"That is why I tell them at every opportunity that they should learn German, and speak it fluently and without an accent. That should start at nurseries."

German President Christian Wulff was due for a five-day visit to Turkey and talks with the country's leaders on Monday.

The immigration debate has at times threatened to split Merkel's conservative party, and she made noises to both wings of the debate.

While saying that the government needed to encourage the training of Muslim clerics in Germany, Merkel said "Islam is part of Germany", echoeing the recent comments of Wulff, a liberal voice in the party.

Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU's Bavarian sister party, CSU, who represents the right-wing, recently said Germany did not "need more immigrants from different cultures like the Turks and Arabs" who are "more difficult" to integrate.

While warning against "immigration that weighs down on our social system", Merkel said Germany needed specialists from overseas to keep the pace of its economic development.

According to the head of the German chamber of commerce and industry, Hans Heinrich Driftmann, Germany is in urgent need of about 400,000 engineers and qualified workers, whose lack is knocking about one percent off the country's growth rate.

The integration of Muslims has been a hot button issue since August when a member of Germany's central bank sparked outrage by saying the country was being made "more stupid" by poorly educated and unproductive Muslim migrants with headscarves.

The banker, Thilo Sarrazin, has since resigned but his book on the subject -- "Germany Does Itself In" -- has flown off the shelves, and polls showed considerable sympathy for some of his views.

A recent study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think tank showed around one-third of Germans feel the country is being "over-run by foreigners" and the same percentage feel foreigners should be sent home when jobs are scarce.

Nearly 60 percent of the 2,411 people polled thought the around four million Muslims in Germany should have their religious practices "significantly curbed."

Far-right attitudes are found not only at the extremes of German society, but "to a worrying degree at the centre of society," the think tank said in its report.

"Hardly eight weeks have passed since publication of Sarrazin's theory of decline, and the longer the debate continues to a lower level it falls," the weekly Der Spiegel commented Sunday.

24366  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA getting some love on the UnderGround (UG) on: October 18, 2010, 07:57:38 AM
The signal to noise ratio there remains as I remember it.
24367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 18, 2010, 07:33:13 AM
What has Condi Rice said about Clinton and Bamster?

BTW, she did not impress me as SoS.
24368  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / OMG-- Krugman? on: October 18, 2010, 07:31:58 AM
Rare and Foolish
Published: October 17, 2010
comments (17)
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CloseLinkedinDiggMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink Last month a Chinese trawler operating in Japanese-controlled waters collided with two vessels of Japan’s Coast Guard. Japan detained the trawler’s captain; China responded by cutting off Japan’s access to crucial raw materials.

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Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Paul Krugman

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And there was nowhere else to turn: China accounts for 97 percent of the world’s supply of rare earths, minerals that play an essential role in many high-technology products, including military equipment. Sure enough, Japan soon let the captain go.

I don’t know about you, but I find this story deeply disturbing, both for what it says about China and what it says about us. On one side, the affair highlights the fecklessness of U.S. policy makers, who did nothing while an unreliable regime acquired a stranglehold on key materials. On the other side, the incident shows a Chinese government that is dangerously trigger-happy, willing to wage economic warfare on the slightest provocation.

Some background: The rare earths are elements whose unique properties play a crucial role in applications ranging from hybrid motors to fiber optics. Until the mid-1980s the United States dominated production, but then China moved in.

“There is oil in the Middle East; there is rare earth in China,” declared Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s economic transformation, in 1992. Indeed, China has about a third of the world’s rare earth deposits. This relative abundance, combined with low extraction and processing costs — reflecting both low wages and weak environmental standards — allowed China’s producers to undercut the U.S. industry.

You really have to wonder why nobody raised an alarm while this was happening, if only on national security grounds. But policy makers simply stood by as the U.S. rare earth industry shut down. In at least one case, in 2003 — a time when, if you believed the Bush administration, considerations of national security governed every aspect of U.S. policy — the Chinese literally packed up all the equipment in a U.S. production facility and shipped it to China.

The result was a monopoly position exceeding the wildest dreams of Middle Eastern oil-fueled tyrants. And even before the trawler incident, China showed itself willing to exploit that monopoly to the fullest. The United Steelworkers recently filed a complaint against Chinese trade practices, stepping in where U.S. businesses fear to tread because they fear Chinese retaliation. The union put China’s imposition of export restrictions and taxes on rare earths — restrictions that give Chinese production in a number of industries an important competitive advantage — at the top of the list.

Then came the trawler event. Chinese restrictions on rare earth exports were already in violation of agreements China made before joining the World Trade Organization. But the embargo on rare earth exports to Japan was an even more blatant violation of international trade law.

Oh, and Chinese officials have not improved matters by insulting our intelligence, claiming that there was no official embargo. All of China’s rare earth exporters, they say — some of them foreign-owned — simultaneously decided to halt shipments because of their personal feelings toward Japan. Right.

So what are the lessons of the rare earth fracas?

First, and most obviously, the world needs to develop non-Chinese sources of these materials. There are extensive rare earth deposits in the United States and elsewhere. However, developing these deposits and the facilities to process the raw materials will take both time and financial support. So will a prominent alternative: “urban mining,” a k a recycling of rare earths and other materials from used electronic devices.

Second, China’s response to the trawler incident is, I’m sorry to say, further evidence that the world’s newest economic superpower isn’t prepared to assume the responsibilities that go with that status.

Major economic powers, realizing that they have an important stake in the international system, are normally very hesitant about resorting to economic warfare, even in the face of severe provocation — witness the way U.S. policy makers have agonized and temporized over what to do about China’s grossly protectionist exchange-rate policy. China, however, showed no hesitation at all about using its trade muscle to get its way in a political dispute, in clear — if denied — violation of international trade law.

Couple the rare earth story with China’s behavior on other fronts — the state subsidies that help firms gain key contracts, the pressure on foreign companies to move production to China and, above all, that exchange-rate policy — and what you have is a portrait of a rogue economic superpower, unwilling to play by the rules. And the question is what the rest of us are going to do about it.
24369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Guns don't kill, doctors kill on: October 17, 2010, 07:41:39 AM
Source unknown:


(A)  The number of physicians in the U.S. is about 700,000.

(B)  Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.

(C)  Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.

Statistics courtesy of   U.S. Department of Health  and  Human Services.


Now think about this:


(A)  The number of gun owners in the   U.S. is about 80,000,000.
(Yes, that's 80 million)

(B)  The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is about  1,500.

(C)  The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is  .00001875.

Statistics courtesy of FBI

So,  statistically, doctors are over 9,100 times more dangerous than gun owners.

Remember, 'Guns don't kill people, doctors do.'


FACT:  NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT almost everyone has at least one doctor.
This means you are over 900 times more likely to be killed by a doctor as a gun


Please alert your friends to this alarming threat. We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!


Out of concern for the public at large, I withheld the statistics on Lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention!
24370  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Gold on: October 17, 2010, 07:34:32 AM

Losing confidence

Looking at the dollar in the old-fashioned way

Jul 22nd 2010

WHEN the Bretton Woods system was cracking in the early 1970s the price of a troy
ounce of gold, in dollar terms, was raised in two steps from $35 to $42.22. This
was, in effect, a devaluation of the dollar.

The authorities then still thought it worth expressing the shift in terms of
bullion, rather than against another currency like the Japanese yen or French franc.
In the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt had a specific policy of devaluing the dollar
against gold, pushing the price from $20.67 to $35 in the belief this would push
commodity prices (and thus farm incomes) higher and reduce the burden of debt

Nowadays the price of gold is set by the market rather than by official diktat. When
explaining shifts in the bullion market people tend to think in terms of supply and
demand. Perhaps, however, they should view gold-price movements in terms of
investors’ confidence in the dollar, and in paper money in general.

After gold was set loose in 1973 its price rose at a rapid rate for the rest of the
decade, peaking at $850 an ounce in 1980. In other words the dollar had lost around
90% of its value since the demise of Bretton Woods. The 1970s was a period when
economic policy in the developed world seemed to be in disarray, with inflation and
unemployment high, and confidence in central bankers low.

The appointment of Paul Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve in 1979 appeared
to be a turning-point. He broke the inflationary spiral in the early 1980s, albeit
at the cost of a double-dip recession. From 1982 onwards developed economies seemed
to enter the “great moderation”: inflation was low or falling, and recessions were
rare and mild. The authorities developed the knack of delivering stability with
paper money, thanks to independent central banks committed to a low inflation
target. Gold fell from $850 to $253 by 1999. With confidence in economic policy
restored, the dollar was revalued by 236% over almost two decades.

By the late 1990s, however, belief in the eternal wisdom of central bankers was
nearing its peak: “Maestro”, Bob Woodward’s portrait of Alan Greenspan, came out in
2000. The dotcom and housing bubbles led to a reappraisal of Mr Greenspan’s career.
Many commentators now feel he paid too little attention to credit growth and asset
prices. As Charles Dumas of Lombard Street Research tartly remarks, Mr Greenspan
displayed “asymmetric ignorance”. He claimed not to know when asset prices were in a
bubble but he did always claim to know when falling asset prices were likely to
cause havoc. Investors were given a one-way bet.

The credit crunch also laid bare a conflict in central banking that goes back to the
days of the gold standard. As well as safeguarding the value of the currency,
central banks act as lenders of last resort. When push comes to shove the latter
duty seems to outweigh the former, and the bankers turn on the monetary taps. The
result has been a loss of confidence in the dollar. Gold’s rise since 1999 in effect
means a near-80% devaluation of the dollar over the past decade (see chart).

What is striking about the history of the past 40 years is that these three swings
in the value of the dollar (ranging from a rise of 236% to a fall of 90%) are huge
by previous standards. But they have not been noticed because the dollar is now
compared with other paper currencies—like the euro and yuan—where shifts have been
nothing like as extreme.

This raises a further puzzle. One reason why countries tried so hard to maintain the
gold standard and the Bretton Woods system was to reassure creditors that they would
be repaid in sound money. Since 1971 most countries have had the right to repay
creditors in money they could print at will. The likes of America and Britain are
now perceived as “lucky” because they, unlike Greece, can devalue their currencies
and default in real terms.

That prospect did alarm creditors in the 1980s when the real yields on government
debt shot up. But it does not seem to now. America and Britain are paying only
3-3.5% to borrow for ten years. That may be because deflation seems the more
immediate threat. It may be because bond markets are now dominated by other central
banks, which are more interested in managing exchange rates than in raising returns.
But it is not stable to combine low yields, high deficits and governments that are
happy to see their currencies depreciate. Something has to give.

24371  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB 9/10 Gg of Pack clip on: October 15, 2010, 11:55:49 PM
Night Owl directed the shooting of the Gg and edited this clip.   As always, we are quite proud to have him as part of the Tribe.
24372  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: October 15, 2010, 11:53:08 PM
That is the piece that Original Productions put together with footage from the same day; this clip is what led to the Nat Geo documentary.  The PPV in question here is a different project.
24373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Spencer on Geller's critics on: October 15, 2010, 11:48:53 PM
24374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 15, 2010, 08:07:09 AM
R Rings, truly I get what you are saying, but if your theories were true then they would be true across the board.  So, to put a specific name to one of the many examples that contradict the conclusions of your theories:  What do you make of the case of Switzerland?  There is a very high standard of living, all the food that one could want-- including the best fg chocolate in the world!- and fatness is quite rare.

24375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson to J. Adams 1813: Natural Aristocracy on: October 15, 2010, 08:00:16 AM
"The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society. May we not even say that that form of government is the best which provides the most – for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government?" --Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, 1813
24376  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB 9/10 Gg of Pack clip on: October 14, 2010, 03:24:46 PM
24377  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB 9/10 Gg of Pack clip on: October 14, 2010, 10:57:46 AM
24378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Job opening in Mexico on: October 14, 2010, 08:36:54 AM
24379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Franklin, 1730; respect for religion on: October 14, 2010, 07:51:37 AM
"That wise Men have in all Ages thought Government necessary for the Good of Mankind; and, that wise Governments have always thought Religion necessary for the well ordering and well-being of Society, and accordingly have been ever careful to encourage and protect the Ministers of it, paying them the highest publick Honours, that their Doctrines might thereby meet with the greater Respect among the common People." --Benjamin Franklin, On that Odd Letter of the Drum, 1730

24380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Syria, Lebanon, and Iran- an alliance in flux on: October 14, 2010, 07:49:39 AM
Syria, Hezbollah and Iran: An Alliance in Flux
October 14, 2010

By Reva Bhalla

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Beirut on Oct. 13 for his first official visit to Lebanon since becoming president in 2005. He is reportedly returning to the country after a stint there in the 1980s as a young Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer tasked with training Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. A great deal of controversy is surrounding his return. Rumors are spreading of Sunni militants attempting to mar the visit by provoking Iran’s allies in Hezbollah into a fight (already the car of a pro-Hezbollah imam who has been defending Ahmadinejad has been blown up), while elaborate security preparations are being made for Ahmadinejad to visit Lebanon’s heavily militarized border with Israel.

Rather than getting caught up in the drama surrounding the Iranian president’s visit, we want to take the opportunity provided by all the media coverage to probe into a deeper topic, one that has been occupying the minds of Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah officials for some time. This topic is the durability of the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria alliance, which STRATFOR believes has been under great stress in recent months. More precisely, the question is: What are Syria’s current intentions toward Hezbollah?

The Origins of the Alliance

To address this topic, we need to review the origins of the trilateral pact, starting with the formation of an alliance in 1979 between secular Alawite-Baathist Syria and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ideologically speaking, the Syrian Alawite elite represent an offshoot of Shiite Islam that the Sunnis consider apostate. They found some commonality with the Shiite clerical elite in Tehran, but there were also broader strategic motivations in play. At the time, Syria was on a quest to establish the country’s regional prowess, and it knew that the first steps toward this end had to be taken in Lebanon. From the Syrian point of view, Lebanon is not just a natural extension of Syria; it is the heartland of the Greater Syria province that existed during Ottoman times. Since the days of Phoenicia, what is modern-day Lebanon has been a vibrant trading hub, connecting routes from the east and south to the Mediterranean basin. For Syria to feel like it has any real worth in the region, it must dominate Lebanon.

A civil war that had broken out in Lebanon in 1975 (and lasted through 1990) afforded Syria such an opportunity. The main obstruction to Syria’s agenda at the time, besides Israel, was the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arafat, whose vision for a unified Palestine and whose operations in Lebanon ran counter to Syria’s bid for regional hegemony. The PLO, in fact, was one of the main reasons Syria intervened militarily in Lebanon in 1975 on behalf of its Maronite Christian allies. At the same time, Syria was looking for an ally to undermine the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, with whom the Syrian Baathists had a deep-seated rivalry. An alliance with Iran would grant Syria some much-needed individuality in a region dominated by the Arab powers Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Coming off the success of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and going into what would become a long and bloody war with Iraq, Iran was also looking for a venue to counter the Baathist regime in Baghdad. In addition, Iran was looking to undermine the Pan-Arab vision, establish a presence in the Levant and promote its own Islamic vision of government. In opposition to Israel, Hussein and Arafat, Iran and Syria thus uncovered the roots of an alliance, albeit one that was shifting uneasily between Syrian secularity and Iranian religiosity.

The adoption of Hezbollah by the two unlikely allies in 1982 was what helped bridge that gap. Hezbollah, an offshoot of Amal, the main Shiite political movement at the time, served multiple purposes for Damascus and Tehran. Syria found in Hezbollah a useful militant proxy to contain obstructions to Syrian influence in Lebanon and to compensate for its own military weakness in comparison to Israel. In the broader Syrian strategic vision, Hezbollah would develop into a bargaining chip for a future settlement with Israel once Syria could ensure that Lebanon was firmly within Syria’s grasp and was therefore unable to entertain a peace deal with Israel on its own.

The Iranians saw in Hezbollah the potential to export its Islamic Revolution into the Arab world, a strong binder for its still new and shaky alliance with Syria and a useful deterrent in dealing with adversaries like Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia. So, Iran and Syria set out to divide their responsibilities in managing this militant proxy. Iran was primarily in charge of bankrolling, training and enforcing the group’s ideological loyalty to Tehran with IRGC assistance. Syria was in charge of creating the conditions for Iran to nurture Hezbollah, mainly by permitting IRGC officers to set up training camps in the Bekaa Valley and by securing a line of supply for weapons to reach the group via Syria.

But the triumvirate did not get off to a very smooth start. In fact, Hezbollah and Syria clashed a number of times in the early 1980s, when Syria felt the group, under Iranian direction, went too far in provoking external intervention (and thus risked drawing Syria into conflict). If Hezbollah was to operate on Syrian territory (as Syria viewed it) in Lebanon, Syria wanted Hezbollah operating on its terms. It was not until 1987, when Syrian troops in Lebanon shot 23 Hezbollah members, that Hezbollah fully realized the importance of maintaining an entente with Syria. In the meantime, Hezbollah, caught between occasionally conflicting Syrian and Iranian agendas, saw that the path to the group’s survival lay in becoming a more autonomous political — as opposed to purely militant — actor in the Lebanese political arena.

A Syrian Setback

The Iran-Hezbollah-Syria alliance operated relatively smoothly through the 1990s as Hezbollah gradually built up its political arm and as Syria kept close watch on the group through its roughly 14,000 troops and thousands of intelligence agents who had remained in Lebanon since the end of the civil war. In 2000, with Iranian and Syrian help, Hezbollah succeeded in forcing Israel to withdraw from Lebanon’s southern Security Zone, an event that greatly boosted Hezbollah’s credentials as a Lebanese nationalist actor.

But fresh challenges to the pact came with the turn of the century. The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, in particular, was a defining moment for both Iran and Syria. The two allies felt enormously uncomfortable with having the world’s most powerful military on their borders, but they were also presented with an immediate opportunity to unseat their mutual archrival, Saddam Hussein. Iran and Syria also had different endgames in mind for a post-Hussein Iraq. Iran used its political, militant and intelligence links to consolidate influence in Iraq through the country’s Shiite majority. In contrast, Syria provided refuge to Iraq’s Sunni Baathists with the aim of extending its sphere of influence in the region through a secularist former-Baathist presence in Baghdad. The Syrians also planned to use those Sunni links later to bargain with the United States for a seat at the negotiating table, thereby affirming Syrian influence in the region.

But before Syria could gain much traction in its plans for Iraq, its agenda in Lebanon suffered a serious setback. On Feb. 14, 2005, a massive car bomb in Beirut killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, a powerful and vocal opponent of Syrian authority in Lebanon. The bombing is strongly believed to have been orchestrated by elements within the Syrian regime and executed by members of Hezbollah. While a major opponent of the Syrian regime was thereby eliminated, Syria did not anticipate that the death of al-Hariri would spark a revolution in Lebanon (which attracted the support of countries like France and the United States) and end up driving Syrian troops out of Lebanon. The vacuum that Syria left in Lebanon was rapidly filled by Iran (via Hezbollah), which had a pressing need to fortify Hezbollah as a proxy force as war tensions steadily built up in the region over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Though Syria knew it would only be a matter of time before it would return to Lebanon, it also had a strategic interest in demonstrating to the Israelis and the Americans the costs of Syria’s absence from Lebanon. The regime wanted to show that without a firm Syrian check on Hezbollah, disastrous events like the 2006 summer confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel could occur.

The Syrian Comeback

It has now been more than five and a half years since the al-Hariri assassination, and there is little question that Syria, once again, has reclaimed its hegemonic position in Lebanon. The Syrian intelligence apparatus pervades the country, and Lebanese politicians who dared to speak out against the Syrian regime are now asking for forgiveness. In perhaps the most glaring demonstration of the political tide shifting back toward Damascus, Saad al-Hariri, the son of the slain al-Hariri and Lebanon’s reluctant prime minister, announced in early June that Lebanon had “made a mistake” in making a “political accusation” against Syria for his father’s murder. The message was clear: Syria was back.

That message did not necessarily sit well with Hezbollah and Iran. Syria wants to keep Hezbollah in check, returning to the 1990s model when Syrian military and intelligence could still tightly control the group’s movements and supplies. Iran and Hezbollah have also watched as Syria has used its comeback in Lebanon to diversify its foreign policy portfolio over the past year. Saudi Arabia and Turkey, for example, have been cozying up to Damascus and have quietly bargained with the al Assad regime to place checks on Hezbollah as a way to undermine Iran’s key proxy in the Levant. As long as these regional powers recognize Syria’s authority in Lebanon, Syria is willing to use those relationships to exonerate itself from the al-Hariri assassination tribunal, rake much-needed investment into the Syrian economy and, most important, re-establish itself as a regional power. Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s decision to visit Beirut alongside Saudi King Abdullah was a deliberate signal to Hezbollah and Iran that Syria had options and was not afraid to display them.

This does not mean Syria is ready and willing to sell out its Hezbollah and Iranian allies. On the contrary, Syria derives leverage from maintaining these relationships and acting as the bridge between the Shiite revivalists and the Sunni powers. Syria has illustrated as much in its current mediation efforts among the various Iraqi factions that are torn between Iran on one side and the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey on the other. But if we go back to reviewing the core reasons Syria agreed to an alliance with Iran and Hezbollah in the first place, it is easy to see why Hezbollah and Iran still have a lot of reason to be worried.

Syria’s priority in the early 1980s was to achieve suzerainty in Lebanon (done), eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq (done) and remove any key obstacles in Lebanon that could challenge Syria’s authority. In the 1970s, that obstacle was the PLO. Today, that obstacle is Hezbollah and its Iranian backers, who are competing for influence in Lebanon and no longer have a good read on Syrian intentions. Hezbollah relies heavily on Syria for its logistical support and knows that its communication systems, for example, are vulnerable to Syrian intelligence. Hezbollah has also grown nervous at the signs of Syria steadily ramping up support for competing militant groups — including the Amal Movement, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, al-Ahbash, the Nasserites, the Baath Party and the Mirada of Suleiman Franjiyye — to counter Hezbollah’s prowess.

Meanwhile, Iran is seeing one of the key prongs in its deterrent strategy — Hezbollah — grow increasingly vulnerable at a time when Iran is pressed to demonstrate to the United States and Israel that the costs of an attack on its nuclear installation are not worth incurring. The Iranian competition with Syria does not end in Lebanon, either. In Iraq, Syria is far more interested in establishing a secularist government with a former Baathist presence than it is in seeing Baghdad develop into a Shiite satellite for the Iranians.

For now, Syria is adroitly playing both sides of the geopolitical divide in the region, taking care to blend its reassurances toward the alliance and its primary negotiating partners in Saudi Arabia with threats of the destabilization that could erupt should Syria’s demands go ignored. Syria, for example, has made clear that in return for recognition of its authority in Lebanon it will prevent Hezbollah from laying siege on Beirut, whether they are ordered to do so by Tehran as part of an Iranian negotiating ploy with the Americans or whether they act on their own in retaliation against the al-Hariri tribunal proceedings. At the same time, Syrian officials will shuttle regularly between Lebanon and Iran to reaffirm their standing in the triumvirate. Behind this thick veneer of unity, however, a great deal of apprehension and distrust is building among the allies.

The core fear residing in Hezbollah and Iran has to do with Syrian intentions moving forward. In particular, Hezbollah would like to know if, in Syria’s eyes, the group is rapidly devolving from strategic patron to bargaining chip with every ounce of confidence that Syria gains in Lebanon. The answer to that question, however, lies not in Syria but in Israel and the United States. Israeli, U.S. and Saudi policymakers have grown weary of Syria’s mercantilist negotiating style in which Syrian officials will extract as much as possible from their negotiating partners while delivering very little in return.

At the same time, Syria cannot afford to take any big steps toward militant proxies like Hezbollah unless it receives firm assurances from Israel in backchannel peace talks that continue to stagnate. But Syria is also sensing an opportunity at its door: The United States is desperate to complete its exit strategy from Iraq and, like Israel, is looking for useful levers to undermine Iranian clout in the region. One such lever is Syria, which is why the mere idea of Israel and Syria talking peace right now should give Iran and Hezbollah ample food for thought.

24381  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: October 14, 2010, 12:42:06 AM
You mean the war against man made disasters?
24382  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 11/6: Phil Rapagna beginner gun course in Los Angeles on: October 14, 2010, 12:36:16 AM
Yes, a good example of the level he is qualified to teach at; and an indicator why a beginner will bet a foundation oriented to higher levels as time goes by.
24383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 14, 2010, 12:34:22 AM
I will keep an eye out for him.  I'm not seeing enough preparation there yet for the Presidency, but there are intriguing hints of potential.  An ability to communicate effectively, seasoned by years of talk radio and the ability to converse with regular folks, are valuable attributes.
24384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Buffet on: October 14, 2010, 12:28:25 AM

I thought that pretty awesome.  It is a point which I have sought to make from time to time, but lacking the education I have not been that effective.  This seems strong to me and I will be playing it forward.


The businessman and philanthropist shares his views on the economy at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry conference. The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry held its first annual socioeconomic conference at the Avenue Convention Center near Ben-Gurion Airport yesterday.

In a special interview for the purpose of the conference, international businessman and leading philanthropist Warren Buffett shared with the participants his views on the global economy and the role governments play in maintaining prosperous economies.

Speaking about his decision to invest in Israel, Buffett said that what drew him to Israel was its brainpower.

“If you’re going to the Middle East to look for oil, you can skip Israel. If you’re looking for brains, look no further.

Israel has shown that it has a disproportionate amount of brains and energy,” Buffett said.
24385  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 13, 2010, 09:25:57 PM
AH?  No wonder her husband went gay-- or maybe she went liberal to spite him for having spurned her for  , , , ? , , ,
24386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Humor/WTF on: October 13, 2010, 09:08:01 PM
That is wickedly funny.
24387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / George Washington 1776 on: October 13, 2010, 08:31:58 AM
"To form a new Government, requires infinite care, and unbounded attention; for if the foundation is badly laid the superstructure must be bad." --George Washington, letter to John Augustine Washington, 1776
24388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / To serve and protect on: October 13, 2010, 07:35:23 AM
Note the dates in question
24389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Four Governors on: October 13, 2010, 07:24:30 AM
Editor's Note: After years of cost increases that exceeded population growth and inflation, the budgets of many American states plunged into crisis during the economic downturn. We asked four governors to tell us how they are coping and how they plan to save money in the future.

• Ed Rendell: Try Smart Shopping

• Arnold Schwarzenegger: Pension Reform Is Key

• Deval Patrick: Invest During Bad Times

• Bob McDonnell: Ever-Higher Budgets Can't Be the Norm

Try Smart Shopping
By Ed Rendell

Pennsylvania now spends $2 billion less to run state government than it did eight years ago. This didn't happen by accident; it's a direct result of the smart management measures we put into place.

Pennsylvania had more than 2,000 contracts for buying office supplies when I took office in January 2003. Some agencies paid full retail price. We immediately began applying good business practices to every aspect of state purchasing. We saved $14 million a year by putting office supplies out to bid and selecting the lowest-priced single supplier. Applying that same model to computer purchases saved taxpayers another $19 million a year. We allow local governments and school districts to piggyback on these contracts. These are just two examples of the procurement redesign that is saving taxpayers nearly $30 million a year.

Today, the skyrocketing cost of providing health care is squeezing taxpayers. Here, we've applied more cutting-edge strategies. To give our state workers greater responsibility for their own care, I imposed the first-ever employee contribution toward premiums. We also require employees to fully engage in a wellness program or face 50% higher monthly premiums.

Our wellness plan specifically focuses on reducing the costs of treating chronic illness, and it actively pushes employees to stay healthy. This approach enables us to keep the state's cost increases to less than 7% a year, well below that of most other states in the recent past. This is a true "win-win" for our employees and our taxpayers.

To save even more money without cutting services to taxpayers, we've asked the state legislature to place all 500 of our school districts into one combined health-insurance plan. Districts would enjoy new leverage in the insurance marketplace, leading to improved benefits and cost reductions of up to 30%.

Each of our cost-saving measures has faced some opposition from legislative leaders of both parties. Fortunately, taxpayers stood with us—they understand that common sense, innovation and political will are what it takes to make government work for them.

Mr. Rendell, a Democrat, is the governor of Pennsylvania.

Pension Reform Is Key
By Arnold Schwarzenegger

For years now, I have been trying to get lawmakers to reform public employee pensions in order to benefit private-sector job growth. The problem is stark: Over the last decade in California, spending on state employees' compensation rose nearly three times faster than state revenues. This has squeezed resources for programs, such as higher education and job training, that benefit private-sector workers.

This year, for the first time ever, our state was forced to spend more on retirement costs ($6.5 billion) than on higher education. This prevented us from, among other things, investing in more transportation and other infrastructure projects that are needed to accommodate the world's fastest-growing and most innovative companies.

Last week we finally got some good news: The state legislature agreed to pass my pension reforms as part of a hard-fought budget deal. These reforms cut spending in significant ways:

• Current employees will now be required to contribute more toward their pensions, saving nearly $800 million this year alone.

• For new employees, we will create a two-tier system that rolls pension levels back to pre-1999 levels. This will reduce pension costs by $100 billion over time.

• We ended the ugly practice of pension "spiking," where employees manipulated their compensation in their final year at work in order to boost their lifetime retirement benefits.

• We brought transparency to the system by exposing the deceptive pension fund accounting practices that were hiding hundreds of billions in pension debt from the taxpayers.

These reforms are creating a pension system that is fair to both state workers and to the private-sector workers who pay their salaries and benefits. It will free up more money for investing in critical programs like higher education and infrastructure, and help reduce tax burdens on the private sector.

It saddens me to see Democrats and some Republicans who seem intent on raising business taxes and reducing infrastructure investment in order to protect spending on public-employee compensation and retirement benefits. We believe that, on the contrary, private-sector job growth will be enhanced if public-sector retirement benefits are brought under control. All it takes is some lawmakers who are willing to stand up to the special interests and do what's right.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, is the governor of California.

Invest During Bad Times
By Deval Patrick

Even before we began to feel the effects of the global economic collapse, we chose investments and reforms that we believed would build a stronger, better Commonwealth for a generation. We stuck with that strategy through the recession—and it's working.

Massachusetts increased its investment in education—because education is our calling card around the world—and sustained it because second graders don't get to sit out the second grade until the recession is over. We invested in innovation industries (like biotech, IT, clean and alternative energy, and related manufacturing) because our highly educated work force is uniquely suited to such enterprises. And we invested in health care, because we see health as a public good, and because we believe that people should have health security, especially in tough times.

We paid for these investments with government reforms and deep cuts in other spending. We cut $4.3 billion from a variety of programs and agencies, reduced employee head count by 3,000, negotiated wage and benefit concessions from state employee unions, and increased state employee health-care contributions. We also capped pensions and ended loopholes that some employees used to boost their retirement benefits, such as by claiming an entire year of service for working one day in a calendar year.

At the same time, we consolidated more than 20 transportation, business development and other state agencies. Civilian flaggers instead of police details were assigned to construction projects. We cut the business tax rate to 8.75% from 9.5%. We closed tax loopholes that favored multinationals over small businesses, which make up 85% of the businesses in our state. We increased our sales tax to 6.25% from 5%, but food and most clothing remain untaxed. A large rainy day fund and federal stimulus funds have also helped. Through this blended approach, we delivered four responsible, balanced budgets—on time—leading all the independent rating agencies to reaffirm our strong bond rating.

We're getting results. Massachusetts's rate of job growth is the highest in the nation, having added nearly 65,000 jobs so far since December. The state economy is growing at 6.4%, twice the annual rate. CNBC rates us the fifth best place in the U.S. for business.

Mr. Patrick, a Democrat, is the governor of Massachusetts.

Ever-Higher Budgets Can't Be the Norm
By Bob McDonnell

When I took office in January, we faced two massive budget shortfalls. The first was $1.8 billion in the fiscal year 2010 budget. To get this under control we cut spending and provided a financial reward for state workers to generate savings and not spend their entire agency budgets by the end of the fiscal year. Six months later we announced a $403 million surplus.

The second shortfall was $4.2 billion in the current biennial budget. Again, we cut a wide variety of programs (including in education and health), reducing state spending to 2006 levels. As a result we closed that shortfall without a tax increase—indeed we threatened a veto if the legislature passed the previous governor's proposed $2 billion tax increase. The legislature rejected the tax unanimously.

Virginia's state budget grew by 73.4% from 2000 to 2009, much faster than the rate of growth in population plus inflation. This is unsustainable and unacceptable, and the budget cannot be seriously restrained without addressing its two primary drivers: personnel and programs.

As a result, we supported a significant overhaul of Virginia's pension system. All state employees hired after July 1 of this year will now, for the first time in a generation, contribute to their own pensions. With pension-system reform, we will save an estimated $3 billion over the next 10 years. Actuaries estimate that in the long run, our reforms will reduce the total cost of Virginia's pension system by 10%.

Our second major reform was an immediate, statewide hiring freeze. We obtained enhanced authority from the legislature for the governor to order a freeze that covers all noncritical areas of state government, not just a select few agencies. This strict freeze, together with reductions in full-time positions, will save over $20 million a year.

Looking forward, we've also created a commission on government reform that is evaluating over a thousand ideas to save tax dollars, by doing everything from cutting and consolidating boards and agencies to creating a one-stop shop where businesses can access every license, permit and registration they need to operate. For too long, state governments have operated on the assumption that ever-higher budgets are the norm. We intend to redo the way government operates.

Mr. McDonnell, a Republican, is the governor of Virginia.
24390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: FDR's purge on: October 13, 2010, 07:18:31 AM
In 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt trounced Republican Alf Landon by 24 percentage points in the popular vote and won the biggest electoral landslide in American history. Equally impressive were the lopsided congressional victories that year: a 76-16 majority over the feeble Republicans in the Senate, a 334-88 majority in the House.

With such a mandate, Roosevelt set out to expand the New Deal and to give himself the power to make it work. He pushed bills to establish a minimum wage and streamline his control over the executive branch. To fend off a Supreme Court that had struck down key aspects of the New Deal, he tried adding another six justices to the court. Yet the popular president soon found that all his political capital wasn't worth much in Congress.

"Just nine months after Roosevelt's landslide election, opposition in his own party had grown assertive, militant, and confident—and the New Deal had come to a standstill," writes Susan Dunn in "Roosevelt's Purge." Ms. Dunn, a professor at Williams College, delves into a fascinating and overlooked aspect of the FDR presidency: Roosevelt's brazen effort to assert control over his own party in the summer of 1938.

Ms. Dunn has written an engaging story of bare - knuck led political treachery that pits a president at the peak of his popularity against entrenched congressional leaders who didn't like where he was taking the country and their party. FDR tried to use the power of the White House, and his personality, to run his opponents out of the Democratic Party. He failed miserably.

When Roosevelt's second-term agenda hit a brick wall of Democratic opposition, he first tried a charm offensive. In June 1937, he invited every Democrat in the House and Senate to be his guest for a weekend getaway at the Jefferson Islands Club on the Chesapeake Bay. (Well, not quite every Democrat—the six women in Congress were not on the list.) The president treated them to a weekend of skeet shooting, fishing, poker and skinny dipping. The New York Times reported he had done himself "a world of good," easing tension with congressional Democrats.

View Full Image
.Roosevelt's Purge
By Susan Dunn
(Belknap/Harvard, 361 pages, $27.95)
.Not really. When the skinny dipping and skeet shooting were over, his agenda was still stalled. Four weeks later, 70 senators again voted to block his court-packing bill. One of the few to support the president was Sen. Hattie Caraway of Arkansas, the only woman in the Senate and the only Democratic senator not invited to the president's weekend retreat.

It was time to play hardball. As Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau put it: "There has got to be a fight and there has got to be a purge." Roosevelt made a decision. He would drive the conservatives out of the party, beginning with those who faced competitive primaries in 1938. He had reason to believe that he could call the shots. He had won the South in 1936 by the kind of margins that would make a Soviet leader blush: 87% of the vote in Georgia, 96% in Mississippi, 98.6% in South Carolina.

One of FDR's first targets was Georgia Sen. Walter George. The senator had opposed parts of FDR's agenda but eagerly sought his support in his Democratic primary, even writing him a letter apologizing for his political transgressions. "I have never meant to be offensive to you," he wrote, adding that he had never "at any time felt anything but deep affection for you."

With much fanfare, FDR traveled to Barnesville, Ga., in August 1938 to dedicate a rural electrification project. Before a large crowd of enthusiastic FDR supporters and with George sitting a few feet behind him, Roosevelt went for the kill against "my old friend, the senior senator from this state."

"On most public questions," Roosevelt said of George, "he and I don't speak the same language." After lambasting the senator for standing in the way of progress, he told the crowd that if he could vote in the upcoming primary, he would "most assuredly" cast his ballot for George's opponent, Lawrence Camp. To reinforce FDR's popularity in Georgia, Ms. Dunn writes, "federal money rained down on Georgia, including $53 million in WPA funds for building projects in Georgia that promised to create thirty-five thousand jobs."

FDR did the same in state after state, endorsing liberal primary challengers against incumbent Democratic senators. The conservatives fought back hard. "Their attempt to pack the Court failed," one opponent said of Roosevelt and his team, "and their attempt to pack the Senate will fail." In Maryland, Sen. Millard Tydings turned FDR's support for his primary opponent into a central campaign issue, condemning the president's "invasion" of Maryland and declaring: "The Maryland free state shall remain free."

Tydings was perhaps the most anti-New Deal Democrat in Congress and the one Roosevelt wanted defeated above all others. He instructed Harold Ickes to "take Tydings' hide off and rub salt in it." But it was FDR who would be rubbed in salt. Tydings trounced his FDR-backed opponent in a 20-point landslide. A bitter Roosevelt refused to congratulate him.

And it wasn't just Tydings. All of the Democratic senators targeted by FDR coasted to victory in their Democratic primaries. The voters may have liked their president, but they didn't want him picking their senator. In the general election, Roosevelt didn't fare any better. Republicans picked up eight Senate seats and nearly doubled their numbers in the House.

For FDR, it may have been a blessing in disguise. As the focus of his presidency quickly changed to containing Nazi Germany, Roosevelt's closest allies would be the very conservatives he opposed in 1938. He would never again attempt to intervene in a party primary. He had learned a lesson that needs re-learning from time to time: Political purges are more effectively done by the voters, not by the power brokers in Washington.

Mr. Karl is senior political correspondent for ABC News.
24391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hope he is right! on: October 13, 2010, 06:49:36 AM
Dick Morris:

With the Internet, we have all become fixated on that day's polling, following the most minute changes in the swing districts on But we are overstating the importance of polling in determining the outcome of the coming elections. (Odd thought coming from me!)

The fact is that while Republicans lead in 53 House seats now held by Democrats and are within five points in 20 more, the margins are very thin. In only 14 Democratic seats is the Republican leading by 10 points or more. In all the other districts, it is turnout that will determine the victor.

Going into the election, it would seem that the GOP has a big advantage in turning out voters. Not only is its secret weapon -- the tea parties -- outworking and out-hustling the Democrats, but polls show that Republicans are twice as enthusiastic about voting as are Democrats.

All indications from the field suggest a big GOP turnout, while Democrats tend to stay at home.

In Ohio's First Congressional District, where Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus is trying to fend off a challenge from Republican Steve Chabot, the ratio of early ballots requested by Democrats and by Republicans is, so far, about even. In 2008, it was a three-to-one Democratic edge at this time of year.

So, in analyzing polls to determine whether Republican challengers will defeat Democratic incumbents, three variables are coming into play but are not yet showing up in the polls, all of which work to the Republicans' advantage:

-- The undecided vote usually goes against the incumbent.

-- Republicans are a lot more motivated to vote than Democrats are.

-- While normally late deciders tend to be Democrats, the levels of unemployment and discontent among undecided voters would indicate that they are likely to break Republican.

So what should the Republicans do with this information? Obviously, they need to work harder to bring out the vote. But they also need to adjust their sights higher and aim for more seats. To confine themselves to the races in which they hold slight leads or are within five points would be to leave on the table dozens of Democratic incumbents who could be defeated in this landslide year.

The danger here is not overconfidence but underconfidence, and that Democratic incumbents who could be defeated will skate to victories. Despite a massive victory in the offing for Republicans, there could be great gnashing of teeth when they see how narrowly some of the icons of the Democratic Party are re-elected.
24392  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Dog Fighting on: October 12, 2010, 11:53:22 PM
Hah!  Not what you were expecting  cheesy
24393  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 11/6: Phil Rapagna beginner gun course in Los Angeles on: October 12, 2010, 06:43:48 PM
Phil is a friend of mine going back to my Inosanto Academy and Lameco days.  He has done a lot of interesting things in law enforcement so if you've been meaning to get started on firearms this is a real good chance to do so.


Upcoming Class Date:
November 6, 2010 9AM-4PM

Our one-day beginner-format is designed to introduce you to firearms and make you comfortable handling and shooting them!  You will have an opportunity to shoot different types of handguns and see which could best fit your lifestyle.  Our classes are very informative, but are conducted in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, and nobody is pressured to do more than they are comfortable with. 

**All guns and ammunition will be supplied; however, personal firearms are welcome**

Course Topics Include:
•   Introduction to handgun and ammunition types
•   Comprehensive review of laws and statistics
•   Firearms safety and storage
•   Overcoming your fear of firearms
•   Handgun accessories
•   Shooting fundamentals
•   Tactics and actual shooting inside our training house

Location: Burro Canyon Shooting Park, Azusa

Cost:   $125.00 (Please register online on our calendar page or call me)

Upon enrollment you will receive an information packet containing directions, recommended attire, and other related issues.

For more information visit our website
(909) 772-1404
24394  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AQ Magazine and Muslim Brotherhood on: October 12, 2010, 06:39:43 PM
AQ beginner's primer on how to kill Americans

is endorsed by Muslim Brotherhood in Arabic, not English.  This writer thinks this a very significant development.
24395  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: October 12, 2010, 03:11:10 PM
Things are looking good!
24396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: October 12, 2010, 03:10:34 PM
5 Rings:  Haven't looked at your piece yet.


In essence you are saying "All swans are white".   My personal case is irrelevant and I make no reliance on it whatsover.  Rather, if I can show even one black swan then your science/theory is disproved;  I go further than one black swan though-- I say that "No, there are plenty of swans that are black".

I remember a wonderful dinner in Bern, Switzerland where we had people from many, many Euro countries and the question of national stereotypes was being bantered about (Italian women-- hot lingerie; Germans good work ethic, punctual; that sort of thing).   So I asked for the stereotype of Americans.  Came the answer: "Fat people in shorts and white socks."  Ouch.

Seriously though, one simply does not see the extraordinary numbers of grotesquesly obese people we have here elsewhere, though plenty of "elsewheres" have more than enough money and food to be obese if they were to so choose.
Just like in fighting and other aspects of Life, empiricism trumps theory cheesy
24397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2010 Elections; 2012 Presidential on: October 12, 2010, 01:39:31 PM
At the moment here in CA it looks like Fiorina will lose to Boxer, and my guess is that RINO Meg Whatshername will lose to Jerry Brown.
24398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: October 12, 2010, 01:36:46 PM
Kow tow?  Or Manchurian candidate?
24399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / REE 2 on: October 12, 2010, 11:41:30 AM

Affected Industries

Everyone who uses REE — which is to say, pretty much everyone — is going to feel a pinch as REE rapidly rise in value back toward their pre-Chinese prices. But some industries are bound to feel less a pinch than a death grip. REE applications broadly fall into six different categories, with the first being the least impacted by price increases and the sixth being the most impacted.

The first category consists of cerium users. Cerium is the most common REE and the most critical for refining and catalytic converters. As the average global crude oil gets heavier, cerium is needed more and more to “crack” the oil to make usable products. As clean air requirements tighten globally, automobile manufacturers need more cerium to ensure cars run as cleanly as possible. Cerium thus remains in high demand.

Luckily for cerium users, the steady phasing-out of cathode ray tubes means that supplies rapidly are being freed up for other applications. Between the sudden demand drop and ongoing REE production in China, there are actually substantial cerium stockpiles globally. This means that cerium users are not likely to face serious price increases even though their REE has the most inelastic demand. Petroleum and automotive companies use the most cerium, which also is used for polishing agents for glass and semiconductor chips, UV-proof glass, self-cleaning ovens, and some steel alloys.

The second category comprises non-cerium goods with inelastic demand. This includes items that will be built regardless of cost, either because they are irreplaceable or because they are luxury items. This list includes satellites, which use yttrium in their communications systems; europium, used in LED screens in TVs; lanthanum, used for fish-eye lenses in iPhones; scandium, used for lighting systems in movie studios; and neodymium and gadolinium, indispensable for MRIs. These are all items that people — in particular Americans — would not stop purchasing without a large increase in prices. Luckily, while REE are critical to these devices, they make up a rather small proportion of their total cost. So while the world will certainly see REE price increases, those price increases are unlikely to affect the luxury market.

The third category comprises defense goods. Somewhat similar to luxury goods in terms of how REE demand and prices will affect them, demand for defense goods is extremely unlikely to shift due to something as minor as a simple price increase. Military technology that uses REE — ranging from the samarium in the guidance module in joint-direct attack munition kits to the yttrium used in the “magic lantern” that locates subsea mines — is going to be in demand regardless of price. Demand for urgently needed military technology is quite inelastic regardless of price in the short run, and militaries — in particular the American military — have robust budgets that dwarf the additional costs of components whose contribution to the final cost is negligible. The only reason STRATFOR places defense uses as likely to suffer a greater impact than luxury goods is that China itself is aiming to be a producer of luxury goods, so such products will most likely have a Chinese supply chain. By contrast, few militaries in the world with the high-end capabilities likely to be impacted by REE prices are interested in purchasing military technologies from China, so there will be a large constituency pushing for alternative production of REE as well as a large market for alternative products. This could turn out to be a boon for the American industry: Anyone seeking to increase REE production is going to find a friend in the Pentagon, and no one can lobby Congress quite like the military.

The fourth category comprises goods in which REE are a critical component and a significant price impact but that are made by industries with a long habit of adapting to adverse price shifts. The poster child for this is the Japanese auto industry. There is a long list of vehicle systems that the Japanese have adapted over the years as the price of various inputs has skyrocketed. In 2000, the Russian government banded together the country’s disparate platinum group metals (such as palladium and platinum, critical in the manufacture of catalytic converters) exports into a single government-controlled cartel. Platinum group metal prices subsequently skyrocketed. By March 2001, Honda had announced a new advance that reduced the need for palladium by roughly half. Platinum group metal prices subsequently plummeted.

In anticipation of this type of disruption, the Japanese have been developing substitutes to REE. Presently, the Toyota Prius uses roughly one kilogram of neodymium. At pre-2010 spike prices, that neodymium used in one Prius cost $20, a marginal impact on the Prius’ sticker price. Should prices rebound to pre-China levels, however, the average Prius buyer would notice a roughly $450-price hike due to magnetic components alone. One week into the China-Japan REE spat, government-funded researchers announced a magnet system design that can completely replace the neodymium used in the Prius.

This hardly solves the problem overnight; it will take months to years to retool Toyota’s factories for the new technology. Still, consumers of REE are going to find ways of lessening their use of REE. The information technology revolution has proceeded unabated since 2000 in part because REE have been one-tenth to one-twentieth of their previous prices. Absent any serious price pressures, industries have had no need to invest in finding means of cutting inputs or finding substitutes. (REE are so abundant that in China they are used in fertilizers and road building materials.)

The shift in prices could well give a much-needed boost to non-REE dependent technologies hampered by relatively inexpensive REEs. For example, the REE lanthanum is a leading component in the Prius’ nickel metal-hydride battery system. (The Prius uses ten kilograms of lanthanum). Toyota has been edging toward replacing the nickel-hydride system with REE-free lithium-ion batteries, but has demurred due to the low price of lanthanum. Increase that cost by a factor of 20, of the factor of three of recent months — and add in the threat of a full cutoff — and Toyota’s board is likely to come to a different conclusion.

Computer hard drives may fall into a similar category. A major cause of the increased demand for REE has been the demand for neodymium in particular and a specific intermediate product made from it, the neodymium-iron-boron magnet (which also uses some dysprosium). The magnets are a critical component in hard drives, particularly for laptops. But like lithium-ion batteries, a new technology is gaining market share: solid-state hard drives. Currently, the consumer’s cost difference between the two is a factor of four, but sustained price hikes in the cost of neodymium and NdFeB magnets could cause demand to plummet.

The fifth category comprises goods where the laws of supply and demand are likely to reshape the industries in question. These are goods where price is most certainly an issue, and where consumers will simply balk should the bottom line change too much. Compact fluorescent light bulbs that use phosphors heavy in terbium, LED display screens that use europium and various medical techniques that use erbium lasers all fall into this category. None of these industries will disappear, but they are extremely likely to see far lower sales as none of these products are economically indispensable and all have various product substitutes.

The sixth category comprises goods for which there are very low ore and metal stockpiles for which demand is both high and rising rapidly, and for which it will take the longest to set up an alternate supply chain. The vast majority of these industries depend on the same type of neodymium magnets used in hard drives, but do not have a replacement technology waiting in the wings. These magnets are a critical component in the miniaturization (and convergence) of electronic devices such as cellular phones, MP3 players, computers and cameras. They are also central to the power exchange relays for electricity-generating wind turbines used in today’s wind farms.

But even within this category, not all products will be impacted similarly. Many of the miniaturized electronic consumer goods manufacturers will face growing pains as they find their supply chain increasingly concentrated in China. But cheaper production costs could offset rising materials costs, and technological innovation will also help lessen the impact. Alternative energy is not likely to be as lucky. Neodymium magnets are critical to windmill turbines, one of the specific areas the Chinese hope to dominate. Each 1-megawatt windmill uses roughly a metric ton of NdFeB magnets.

For green energy enthusiasts, this is a double bind. First, green power must compete economically with fossil fuels — meaning rather small cost increases in capital outlays could be a deal breaker. Second, the only way to get around the price problem is to advocate greater neodymium production. And that means either tolerating the high-pollution techniques used in China, or encouraging the development of a not-particularly-green mining industry in the West.

Read more: China and the Future of Rare Earth Elements | STRATFOR
24400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Strat" REE part one on: October 12, 2010, 11:40:48 AM
second post of the morning:

China and the Future of Rare Earth Elements
October 12, 2010 | 1213 GMT
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A recent diplomatic spat between China and Japan has heightened territorial tensions and called attention to China’s growing forcefulness with foreign powers. One of the more intriguing aspects of this development was China’s suspension of the export of “rare earth” elements (REE) to Japan. REE comprise 17 metallic elements with a variety of modern industrial and commercial applications ranging from petroleum refining to laptop computers to green energy applications to radar. China produces roughly 95 percent of the global supply of REE and Japan is the largest importer. China’s disruption of REE shipments to Japan has caused alarm among other importer countries, bringing new urgency to the search for new supplies and substitutes.

The China Factor

Chinese control of the base of the REE supply chain has increasingly made China the go-to location for the intermediate goods made from REE. In time, China hopes to extend production into the final products as well. As new REE supplies cannot be brought online overnight, the Chinese will enjoy a powerful position in the short term. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce reports that China has ratcheted down REE export quotas by an average of 12 percent per year over the past five years, further leveraging this position. Reflecting that and the current China-Japan spat, the average price for REE has tripled in the year to date.

Rare earth elements are not as rare as their name suggests, however. Before the Chinese began a dedicated effort to mass-produce REE in 1979, there were several major suppliers. Pre-China, the United States was the largest producer. Appreciable amounts of REE were also produced in Australia, Brazil, India, Malaysia and Russia. Any sort of real monopoly on REE, therefore, is not sustainable in the long-run. But before one can understand the future of the REE industry, one must first understand the past.

The story of REE is not the story of cheap Chinese labor driving the global textile industry into the ground. Instead, it is a much more familiar story (from STRATFOR’s view) of the Chinese financial system having a global impact.

Unlike Western financial systems, where banks grant loans based on the likelihood that the loans will be repaid, the primary goal of loans in China is promoting social stability through full employment. As such, the REE industry — like many other heavy or extractive industries — was targeted with massive levels of subsidized loans in the mid-1980s. At the same time, local governments obtained more flexibility in encouraging growth. The result was a proliferation of small mining operations specializing in REE. Production rates increased by an annual average of 40 percent in the 1980s. They doubled in the first half of the 1990s, and then doubled again with a big increase in output just as the world tipped into recession in 2000. Prices predictably plunged, by an average of 95 percent compared to their pre-China averages.

Most of these Chinese firms rarely turned a profit. Some industry analysts maintain that for a good portion of the 2000s, most of them never even recovered their operating costs. At the same time, an illegal REE mining industry ran rampant, earning meager profits by disregarding worker safety and the environment and ruthlessly undercutting competing prices. With an endless supply of below-market loans, it did not matter if the legitimate mining concerns were financially viable. It was in the environment of continued Chinese production despite massive losses that nearly every other REE producer in the world closed down — and that the information technology revolution took root.

In fact, if not for China’s massive overproduction, the technological revolution of the past 15 years would not have looked the same. In all likelihood, it would have been slowed considerably.

Before 1995, the primary uses for REE were in the manufacture of cathode ray tubes (primarily used in television sets before the onset of plasma and LCD screens) and as catalysts in the refining industry and in catalytic converters (a device used in cars to limit exhaust pollution). Their unique properties have since made them the components of choice for wind turbines, hybrid cars, laptop computers, cameras, cellular phones and a host of other items synonymous with modern life. Chinese overproduction in the 2000s — and the price collapses that accompanied that overproduction until just this year — allowed such devices to go mainstream.

With numerous large REE deposits outside China, the long-term sustainability of a monopoly is questionable at best. This does not mean China will not create some destabilizing effects in the medium term as it attempts to leverage the current imbalance to its benefit, however. That its prolific, financially profitless and environmentally destructive production of REE has largely benefited foreign economies is not lost on China, so it is pushing a number of measures to alter this dynamic. On the supply side, China continues to curb output from small unregulated mining outfits and to consolidate production into large state-controlled enterprises, all while ratcheting down export quotas. On the demand side, Chinese industry’s gradual movement up the supply chain toward more value-added goods means more demand will be sequestered in the domestic economy. In fact, in the years just before the financial crisis and accompanying recession, global demand outpaced China’s ability (or willingness) to supply the market, resulting in bouts of price volatility. As the economic recovery proceeds, it is no stretch to envision outright gaps in exports from China within two to five years, even without the kinds of political complications the REE market has suffered in recent days.

Many states already have REE-specific facilities in place able to restart mining in response to this year’s price surge.

The premier Australian REE facility at Mount Weld plans to ramp up to 19,000 metric tons of rare earth oxides by the end of 2011. The top American site — Mountain Pass in California — aims to produce a similar amount by the end of 2012. Those two sites will then collectively be producing 25-30 percent of global demand.

Before China burst on the scene, most REE production was not from REE-specific mines. REE are often found co-mingled not simply with each other, but in the ores extracted for the production of aluminum, titanium, uranium and thorium. As China drove prices down, however, most of these facilities ceased extracting the difficult-to-separate REE. There is nothing other than economics stopping these facilities from re-engaging in REE production, although it will take at least a couple of years for such sites to hit their stride. Such locations include sites in Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia, India and South Africa as well as promising undeveloped sites in Vietnam, Canada (Thor Lake) and Greenland (Kvanefjeld). And while few have been exploring for new deposits since the 1970s given the lack of an economic incentive, higher prices will spark a burst of exploration.

Getting from here to there is harder than it sounds, however. Capital to fuel development will certainly be available as prices continue to rise, but opening a new mine requires overcoming some significant hurdles. Regardless of jurisdiction, a company needs to secure the lease (usually from the central government) and obtain a considerable variety of permits, not the least of which is for handling and storing the toxic — and in the case of REE, radioactive — waste from the mine. Even if the governments involved want to streamline things, vested interests such as the environmental lobby and indigenous groups appear at every stage of permitting to fight, lobby and sue to delay work. And depending on the local government, successfully mining a deposit could involve a considerable amount of political uncertainty, bribe paying or harassment. Only after clearing these hurdles can the real work of building infrastructure, sourcing inputs like electricity and water, and actually digging up rocks begin — itself a herculean task.

To add more complication, many of the best prospects are in jurisdictions undergoing significant changes. In the United States, activists are working to reform the federal mining law dating to 1872, which has ensured that U.S. jurisdictions remain among the most attractive mining destinations in the world. Initiatives like the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007 would drastically constrain mineral companies and increase project costs across the board. In Australia, ongoing negotiations over the implementation of a so-called “super tax” has dampened enthusiasm in one of the world’s premier mining jurisdictions and home to Lynas Corporation’s Mount Weld project. The tax, which sought to impose a 40 percent tax on mining profits, has since been watered down, but the debacle has left a discernable mark on the country’s resource extraction industry. And for an industry that is positively allergic to uncertainty, events like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chilean mine collapse only portend tighter regulation worldwide.

Re-opening an existing mine is somewhat easier since some infrastructure remains in place, and the local community is accustomed to having a mine. Old equipment may need to be brought up to spec, and the regulatory questions will still affect how miners and bankers view the project’s profitability, but the figuring margins are simpler when the basic geology and engineering already have been done.

Unfortunately, there is more to building a new REE supply chain than simply obtaining new sources of ore. A complex procedure known as beneficiation must be used to separate the chemically similar rare earth metals from the rest of the ore it was mined with. Beneficiation proceeds through a physical and then chemical route. The latter differs greatly from site to site, as the composition of the ore is deposit-specific and factors into the choice of what must be very precise reaction conditions such as temperature, pH and reagents used. The specificity and complexity of the process make it expensive, while the radioactivity of some ores and the common use of chemicals such as hydrochloric and sulfuric acid invariably leave an environmental footprint. (One reason the Chinese produced so much so fast is that they did not mind a very large environmental footprint.) The chemical similarity among the REE that was useful to this point now becomes a nuisance, as the following purification stage — the details of which we will leave out to avoid a painfully long chemistry lecture — requires the isolation of individual REE. This stage is characterized by extraordinary complexity and cost as well.

At this point, one still does not have the REE metal, but instead an oxide compound. The oxide must now be converted into the REE’s metallic form. Although some pure metals are created in Japan, China dominates this part of the supply chain as well.

In any other industry, this refining/purification process would be a concern that investors and researchers would constantly be tackling, but there has been no need, as Chinese overproduction removed all economic incentive from REE production research for the past 20 years (and concentrated all of the pollution in remote parts of China). So any new producer/refiner beginning operations today is in essence using technology that has not experienced the degree of technological advances that other commodities industries have in the past 25-30 years. It is this refining/purification process rather than the mining itself that is likely to be the biggest single bottleneck in re-establishing the global REE supply chain. It is also the one step in the process where the Chinese hold a very clear competitive advantage. Since the final tooling for intermediate parts has such a high value added, and since most intermediate components must be custom-made for the final product, whoever controls the actual purification of the metals themselves forms the base of that particular chain of production. Should the Chinese choose to hold that knowledge as part of a means of capturing a larger portion of the global supply chain, they certainly have the power to do so. And this means that short of some significant breakthroughs, the Chinese will certainly hold the core of the REE industry for at least the next two to three — and probably four to five — years.

Luckily, at this point the picture brightens somewhat for those in need of rare earths. Once the REE have been separated from the ore and from each other and refined into metallic form, they still need to be fashioned into components and incorporated into intermediate products. Here, global industry is far more independent. Such fashioning industries require the most skill and capital, so as one might expect, these facilities were the last stage of the REE supply chain to feel competitive pressure from China. While some have closed or relocated with their talent to China, many component fabrication facilities still exist, most in Japan, many in the United States, and others scattered around Europe.

All told, a complete regeneration of the non-Chinese REE system will probably take the better part of the decade. And because most REE are found co-mingled, there is not much industry can do to fast-track any particular mineral that might be needed in higher volumes. And this means many industries are in a race against time to see if alternative REE supplies can be established before too much economic damage occurs.
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