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24351  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / R.I.P. C-Desert Dog on: February 20, 2011, 02:10:32 PM
A Sad Howl:

I just received a tragic phone call from Lonely Dog.

C-Desert Dog is dead, at 40-something years old.  He leaves a wife and 3 (?) children.

Information is sparse at this time.  What Lonely told me is that at a light sparring day C-Desert Dog, who always came fit and ready (his stick skill impressed me at the August '10 Gathering) sparred a few matches and, saying he wasn't feeling well, sat down.  I am told that a) it was truly a light sparring day and b) he did not receive any head shots. 

Regardless, shortly thereafter he began to have an elevated pulse and rapid, shallow breathing.  His eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out.  Immediate resuscitation measures were applied.  EMTs were there in 5 minutes and tried reviviing him for two hours, to no avail.

This is all the info we have at present.  C-Desert was a member of Cro Dog's clan in Germany.   I have emailed Cro Dog for additional information.  Lonely and I will be soliciting donations on behalf of the family.

The Adventure continues,
Crafty Dog
24352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH Progressive Frank Rich on: February 20, 2011, 01:29:29 PM

SIX weeks after that horrific day in Tucson, America has half-forgotten its violent debate over the power of violent speech to incite violence. It’s Gabrielle Giffords’s own power of speech that rightly concerns us now. But all those arguments over political language did leave a discernible legacy. In the aftermath of President Obama’s Tucson sermon, civility has had a mini-restoration in Washington. And some of the most combative national figures in our politics have been losing altitude ever since, much as they did after Bill Clinton’s oratorical response to the inferno of Oklahoma City.

Glenn Beck’s ratings at Fox News continued their steady decline, falling to an all-time low last month. He has lost 39 percent of his viewers in a year and 48 percent of the prime 25-to-54 age demographic. His strenuous recent efforts to portray the Egyptian revolution as an apocalyptic leftist-jihadist conspiracy have inspired more laughs than adherents.

Sarah Palin’s tailspin is also pronounced. It can be seen in polls, certainly: the ABC News-Washington Post survey found that 30 percent of Americans approved of her response to the Tucson massacre and 46 percent did not. (Obama’s numbers in the same poll were 78 percent favorable, 12 percent negative.) But equally telling was the fate of a Palin speech scheduled for May at a so-called Patriots & Warriors Gala in Glendale, Colo.

Tickets to see Palin, announced at $185 on Jan. 16, eight days after Tucson, were slashed to half-price in early February. Then the speech was canceled altogether, with the organizers blaming “safety concerns resulting from an onslaught of negative feedback.” But when The Denver Post sought out the Glendale police chief, he reported there had been no threats or other causes for alarm. The real “negative feedback” may have been anemic ticket sales, particularly if they were to cover Palin’s standard $100,000 fee.

What may at long last be dawning on some Republican grandees is that a provocateur who puts her political adversaries in the cross hairs and then instructs her acolytes to “RELOAD” frightens most voters.

Even the Rupert Murdoch empire shows signs of opting for retreat over reload. Its newest right-wing book imprint had set its splashy debut for Jan. 18, with the rollout of a screed, “Death by Liberalism,” arguing that “more Americans have been killed by well-meaning liberal policies than by all the wars of the last century combined.” But that publication date was 10 days after Tucson, and clearly someone had second thoughts. You’ll look in vain for the usual hype, or mere mentions, of “Death by Liberalism” in other Murdoch media outlets (or anywhere else). Even more unexpectedly, Murdoch’s flagship newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, ran an op-ed essay last week by the reliably conservative Michael Medved trashing over-the-top Obama critiques from Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Dinesh D’Souza as “paranoid” and “destructive to the conservative cause” — the cause defined as winning national elections.

If the next step in this declension is less face time for Palin on Fox News, then we’ll have proof that pigs can fly. But a larger question remains. If the right puts its rabid Obama hatred on the down-low, what will — or can — conservatism stand for instead? The only apparent agendas are repealing “Obamacare” and slashing federal spending as long as the cuts are quarantined to the small percentage of the budget covering discretionary safety-net programs, education and Big Bird.

This shortfall of substance was showcased by last weekend’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, a premier Republican rite that doubles as a cattle call for potential presidential candidates. Palin didn’t appear — CPAC, as the event is known, doesn’t pay — and neither did her fellow Fox News personality Mike Huckabee. But all the others were there, including that great white hope of un-Palin Republicans, Mitt Romney. What they said — and didn’t say — from the CPAC podium not only shows a political opposition running on empty but also dramatizes the remarkable leadership opportunity their fecklessness has handed to the incumbent president in post-shellacking Washington.

As it happened, CPAC overlapped with the extraordinary onrush of history in the Middle East. But the Egyptian uprising, supposedly a prime example of the freedom agenda championed by George W. Bush, was rarely, and then only minimally, mentioned by the parade of would-be presidents. Indeed, with the exception of Ron Paul — who would let the Egyptians fend for themselves and cut off all foreign aid — the most detailed discussions of Egypt came from Ann Coulter and Rick Santorum.

Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator who lost his 2006 re-election bid by a landslide of 17 percentage points, believes he can be president despite being best known for having likened homosexuality to “man on dog” sex. Even less conversant in foreign affairs than canine coitus, he attacked Obama for deserting Hosni Mubarak, questioning the message it sent to America’s “friends.” But no one (with the odd exception of George Will) takes Santorum’s presidential ambitions seriously. Romney, on the other hand, is the closest thing the G.O.P. has to a front-runner, and he is even more hollow than Santorum. Indeed, his appearance at CPAC on the morning of Friday, Feb. 11, was entirely consistent with his public image as an otherworldly visitor from an Aqua Velva commercial circa 1985.

That Friday was the day after Mubarak’s bizarre speech vowing to keep his hold on power. At 9:45 a.m. that morning, as a rapt world waited for his next move, CNN reported that there would soon be a new statement from Mubarak — whose abdication was confirmed around 11 a.m. But when Romney took the stage in Washington at 10:35, he made not a single allusion of any kind to Egypt — even as he lambasted Obama for not having a foreign policy. His snarky, cowardly address also tiptoed around “Obamacare” lest it remind Tea Partiers of Massachusetts’s “Romneycare.” He was nearly as out of touch with reality as Mubarak the night before.

There was one serious speech at CPAC — an economic colloquy delivered that night by Mitch Daniels, the Indiana governor much beloved by what remains of mainstream conservative punditry. But Daniels was quickly thrashed: Limbaugh attacked him for his mild suggestion that the G.O.P. welcome voters who are not ideological purists, and CPAC attendees awarded him with only 4 percent of the vote in their straw poll. (The winners were Paul, with 30 percent, and Romney, with 23 percent.) Indeed, Daniels couldn’t even compete with the surprise CPAC appearance of Donald Trump, a sometime Democrat whose own substance-free Obama-bashing oration drew an overflow crowd. Apparently few at CPAC could imagine that Trump might be using them to drum up publicity for his own ratings-challenged television show, “Celebrity Apprentice,” which returns in just two weeks — or that he had contributed $50,000 to the Chicago mayoral campaign of no less an Obama ally than Rahm Emanuel.

THE G.O.P. has already reached its praying-for-a-miracle phase — hoping some neo-Reagan will emerge to usurp the tired field. Trump! Thune! T-Paw! Christie! Jeb Bush! Soon it’ll be time for another Fred Thompson or Rudy groundswell. But hardly had CPAC folded its tent than a new Public Policy Polling survey revealed where the Republican base’s heart truly remains — despite the new civility and the temporary moratorium on the term “job-killing.” The poll found that 51 percent of G.O.P. primary voters don’t believe that the president was born in America and that only 28 percent do. (For another 21 percent, the jury is still out, as it presumably is on evolution as well.)

The party leadership is no less cowed by that majority today than it was pre-Tucson. That’s why John Boehner, appearing on “Meet the Press” last weekend, stonewalled David Gregory’s repeated queries asking him to close the door on the “birther” nonsense. (“It’s not my job to tell the American people what to think,” Boehner said.) The power of the G.O.P.’s hard-core base may also yet deliver a Palin comeback no matter what the rest of the country thinks of her. In the CNN poll nearly two weeks after Tucson, Republicans still gave her a 70 percent favorable approval rating, just behind Huckabee (72 percent) and ahead of Romney (64 percent).

An opposition this adrift from reality — whether about Obama’s birth certificate, history unfolding in the Middle East or the consequences of a federal or state government shutdown — is a paper tiger. It’s a golden chance for the president to seize the moment. What we don’t know is if he sees it that way. As we’ve learned from his track record both in the 2008 campaign and in the White House, he sometimes coasts at these junctures or lapses into a pro forma bipartisanship that amounts, for all practical purposes, to inertia.

Obama’s outspokenness about the labor battle in Wisconsin offers a glimmer of hope that he might lead the fight for what many Americans, not just Democrats, care about — from job creation to an energy plan to an attack on the deficit that brackets the high-end Bush-era tax cuts with serious Medicare/Medicaid reform and further strengthening of the health care law. Will he do so? The answer to that question is at least as mysterious as the identity of whatever candidate the desperate G.O.P. finds to run against him.
24353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / POTH: Unemployed need not apply on: February 20, 2011, 01:20:34 PM
24354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Memory training on: February 20, 2011, 01:18:18 PM
24355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: February 20, 2011, 01:13:09 PM
Several of these charts do something that irks me greatly.  They massively increase the visual impression given by how they label the axis.

For example, a movement of 400 from 400 to 800 in 1980-1985 a movement of 100%, is given the same visual as a movement today from 3,200,000 to 3,600,000, a movement of 12.5%. 

The situation is godawful, no doubt about it, but visually misleading charts do not help our understanding.
24356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More on REEs on: February 20, 2011, 12:50:26 PM,0,4161956.story
24357  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: February 20, 2011, 12:44:56 PM
Times are tough, will you do your part?




The President has ordered the cabinet to cut $100 million from the $3.5 trillion federal budget.

I'm so impressed by this sacrifice that I have decided to do the same thing with my personal budget. I spend about $2000 a month on groceries, household expenses, medicine, utilities, etc, but it's time to get out the budget cutting ax, go line by line through my expenses, and cut back!

I'm going to cut my spending at exactly the same ratio -1/35,000 of my total budget.  After doing the math, it looks like instead of spending $2000 a month; I'm going to have to cut that number by six cents!   Yes, I'm going to have to get by with $1999.94, but that's what sacrifice is all about.  I'll just have to do without some things, that are, frankly, luxuries. (Did he actually think no one would do the math?)

John Q. Taxpayer
24358  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 19, 2011, 04:34:28 PM
24359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: Where have the good men gone? on: February 19, 2011, 04:17:37 PM
Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This "pre-adulthood" has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men.

 Between his lack of responsibilities and an entertainment media devoted to his every pleasure, today's young man has no reason to grow up, says author Kay Hymowitz. She discusses her book, "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys."
."We are sick of hooking up with guys," writes the comedian Julie Klausner, author of a touchingly funny 2010 book, "I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters and Other Guys I've Dated." What Ms. Klausner means by "guys" is males who are not boys or men but something in between. "Guys talk about 'Star Wars' like it's not a movie made for people half their age; a guy's idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his bandmates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends.... They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home." One female reviewer of Ms. Kausner's book wrote, "I had to stop several times while reading and think: Wait, did I date this same guy?"

For most of us, the cultural habitat of pre-adulthood no longer seems noteworthy. After all, popular culture has been crowded with pre-adults for almost two decades. Hollywood started the affair in the early 1990s with movies like "Singles," "Reality Bites," "Single White Female" and "Swingers." Television soon deepened the relationship, giving us the agreeable company of Monica, Joey, Rachel and Ross; Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer; Carrie, Miranda, et al.

But for all its familiarity, pre-adulthood represents a momentous sociological development. It's no exaggeration to say that having large numbers of single young men and women living independently, while also having enough disposable income to avoid ever messing up their kitchens, is something entirely new in human experience. Yes, at other points in Western history young people have waited well into their 20s to marry, and yes, office girls and bachelor lawyers have been working and finding amusement in cities for more than a century. But their numbers and their money supply were always relatively small. Today's pre-adults are a different matter. They are a major demographic event.

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.What also makes pre-adulthood something new is its radical reversal of the sexual hierarchy. Among pre-adults, women are the first sex. They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34% of women now have a bachelor's degree but just 27% of men), and they have higher GPAs. As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive. These strengths carry women through their 20s, when they are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace. In a number of cities, they are even out-earning their brothers and boyfriends.

Still, for these women, one key question won't go away: Where have the good men gone? Their male peers often come across as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers—a gender gap neatly crystallized by the director Judd Apatow in his hit 2007 movie "Knocked Up." The story's hero is 23-year-old Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), who has a drunken fling with Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) and gets her pregnant. Ben lives in a Los Angeles crash pad with a group of grubby friends who spend their days playing videogames, smoking pot and unsuccessfully planning to launch a porn website. Allison, by contrast, is on her way up as a television reporter and lives in a neatly kept apartment with what appear to be clean sheets and towels. Once she decides to have the baby, she figures out what needs to be done and does it. Ben can only stumble his way toward being a responsible grownup.

So where did these pre-adults come from? You might assume that their appearance is a result of spoiled 24-year-olds trying to prolong the campus drinking and hook-up scene while exploiting the largesse of mom and dad. But the causes run deeper than that. Beginning in the 1980s, the economic advantage of higher education—the "college premium"—began to increase dramatically. Between 1960 and 2000, the percentage of younger adults enrolled in college or graduate school more than doubled. In the "knowledge economy," good jobs go to those with degrees. And degrees take years.

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Getty Images
WHY GROW UP? Men in their 20s now have an array of toys and distractions at their disposal, from videogames and sports bars to 'lad' magazines like Maxim, which makes Playboy look like Camus.
.Read More
Two Cheers for the Maligned Slacker Dude
.Another factor in the lengthening of the road to adulthood is our increasingly labyrinthine labor market. The past decades' economic expansion and the digital revolution have transformed the high-end labor market into a fierce competition for the most stimulating, creative and glamorous jobs. Fields that attract ambitious young men and women often require years of moving between school and internships, between internships and jobs, laterally and horizontally between jobs, and between cities in the U.S. and abroad. The knowledge economy gives the educated young an unprecedented opportunity to think about work in personal terms. They are looking not just for jobs but for "careers," work in which they can exercise their talents and express their deepest passions. They expect their careers to give shape to their identity. For today's pre-adults, "what you do" is almost synonymous with "who you are," and starting a family is seldom part of the picture.

Pre-adulthood can be compared to adolescence, an idea invented in the mid-20th century as American teenagers were herded away from the fields and the workplace and into that new institution, the high school. For a long time, the poor and recent immigrants were not part of adolescent life; they went straight to work, since their families couldn't afford the lost labor and income. But the country had grown rich enough to carve out space and time to create a more highly educated citizenry and work force. Teenagers quickly became a marketing and cultural phenomenon. They also earned their own psychological profile. One of the most influential of the psychologists of adolescence was Erik Erikson, who described the stage as a "moratorium," a limbo between childhood and adulthood characterized by role confusion, emotional turmoil and identity conflict.

Like adolescents in the 20th century, today's pre-adults have been wait-listed for adulthood. Marketers and culture creators help to promote pre-adulthood as a lifestyle. And like adolescence, pre-adulthood is a class-based social phenomenon, reserved for the relatively well-to-do. Those who don't get a four-year college degree are not in a position to compete for the more satisfying jobs of the knowledge economy.

But pre-adults differ in one major respect from adolescents. They write their own biographies, and they do it from scratch. Sociologists use the term "life script" to describe a particular society's ordering of life's large events and stages. Though such scripts vary across cultures, the archetypal plot is deeply rooted in our biological nature. The invention of adolescence did not change the large Roman numerals of the American script. Adults continued to be those who took over the primary tasks of the economy and culture. For women, the central task usually involved the day-to-day rearing of the next generation; for men, it involved protecting and providing for their wives and children. If you followed the script, you became an adult, a temporary custodian of the social order until your own old age and demise.

Unlike adolescents, however, pre-adults don't know what is supposed to come next. For them, marriage and parenthood come in many forms, or can be skipped altogether. In 1970, just 16% of Americans ages 25 to 29 had never been married; today that's true of an astonishing 55% of the age group. In the U.S., the mean age at first marriage has been climbing toward 30 (a point past which it has already gone in much of Europe). It is no wonder that so many young Americans suffer through a "quarter-life crisis," a period of depression and worry over their future.

Given the rigors of contemporary career-building, pre-adults who do marry and start families do so later than ever before in human history. Husbands, wives and children are a drag on the footloose life required for the early career track and identity search. Pre-adulthood has also confounded the primordial search for a mate. It has delayed a stable sense of identity, dramatically expanded the pool of possible spouses, mystified courtship routines and helped to throw into doubt the very meaning of marriage. In 1970, to cite just one of many numbers proving the point, nearly seven in 10 25-year-olds were married; by 2000, only one-third had reached that milestone.

American men have been struggling with finding an acceptable adult identity since at least the mid-19th century. We often hear about the miseries of women confined to the domestic sphere once men began to work in offices and factories away from home. But it seems that men didn't much like the arrangement either. They balked at the stuffy propriety of the bourgeois parlor, as they did later at the banal activities of the suburban living room. They turned to hobbies and adventures, like hunting and fishing. At midcentury, fathers who at first had refused to put down the money to buy those newfangled televisions changed their minds when the networks began broadcasting boxing matches and baseball games. The arrival of Playboy in the 1950s seemed like the ultimate protest against male domestication; think of the refusal implied by the magazine's title alone.

In his disregard for domestic life, the playboy was prologue for today's pre-adult male. Unlike the playboy with his jazz and art-filled pad, however, our boy rebel is a creature of the animal house. In the 1990s, Maxim, the rude, lewd and hugely popular "lad" magazine arrived from England. Its philosophy and tone were so juvenile, so entirely undomesticated, that it made Playboy look like Camus.

At the same time, young men were tuning in to cable channels like Comedy Central, the Cartoon Network and Spike, whose shows reflected the adolescent male preferences of its targeted male audiences. They watched movies with overgrown boy actors like Steve Carell, Luke and Owen Wilson, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Will Farrell and Seth Rogen, cheering their awesome car crashes, fart jokes, breast and crotch shots, beer pong competitions and other frat-boy pranks. Americans had always struck foreigners as youthful, even childlike, in their energy and optimism. But this was too much.

What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.

Today's pre-adult male is like an actor in a drama in which he only knows what he shouldn't say. He has to compete in a fierce job market, but he can't act too bossy or self-confident. He should be sensitive but not paternalistic, smart but not cocky. To deepen his predicament, because he is single, his advisers and confidants are generally undomesticated guys just like him.

Single men have never been civilization's most responsible actors; they continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers. So we can be disgusted if some of them continue to live in rooms decorated with "Star Wars" posters and crushed beer cans and to treat women like disposable estrogen toys, but we shouldn't be surprised.

Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do.

They might as well just have another beer.

—Adapted from "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys" by Kay S. Hymowitz, to be published by Basic Books on March 1. Copyright © by Kay S. Hymowitz. Printed by arrangement with Basic Books.
24360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: The Original American Idol on: February 19, 2011, 04:06:49 PM

Today we merge Washington's birthday with the birthdays of other presidents and submerge them all in clothing and appliance sales. But it was not always so. Americans in past centuries celebrated Washington's birthday as a winter version of the Fourth of July.

Americans in Cambridge, Williamsburg, Richmond and Milton, Conn., were already celebrating Washington's birthday even before the end of the Revolutionary War. After his death in 1799, hundreds of cities and towns held birthday events. Such celebrations briefly abated in the early 1800s, as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were, while admiring of Washington, also envious of the awe in which Americans held him.

By the 100th anniversary of Washington's birth in 1832, however, celebrations were once again held throughout the land. Pealing church bells, sermons, fireworks, marching bands and songs about Washington were all part of a holiday embraced without official sanction. Businesses closed, Washington's picture hung in school houses, and Feb. 22 was a day of national rejoicing.

Throughout the 19th century, activist groups of all stripes used Washington's birthday to further their causes. Antislavery activists claimed Washington since he had freed his slaves. Immigration supporters claimed him as a stalwart of religious, political and economic refugees. Advocates of Indian rights noted that after defeating the Iroquois in Revolutionary War battles, Washington restored their land and maintained their reservations. Striking Massachusetts shoemakers invoked his name as that of the first great American rebel. Temperance supporters praised his prudence, but given his fondness for Madeira, the connection there was less clear.

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The Gallery Collection/Corbis
A portrait of George Washington
.In 1880, Congress and President Chester Arthur proclaimed Washington's birthday as an official national holiday, but the 20th century saw a gradual ebbing of public interest. As our country grew, new heroes emerged.

In 1968, the public-employee unions, seeking a three-day weekend, convinced Congress to move the commemoration of Washington's birthday to the third Monday in February. This eventually led to what we now call Presidents Day, which marks the birthday not only of Washington but of Lincoln and all other presidents. By celebrating every birthday, we effectively celebrate none.

Washington's contemporaries hailed his Revolutionary War victories at Trenton and Yorktown, but they honored him more for risking his fame, fortune and life in taking on military responsibilities for which he wasn't paid—and then giving up command to return to his farm and family. The young American citizenry esteemed him for bringing together and presiding over the Constitutional Convention, but they honored him more for his steadfastness in holding the colonies together and facing down potential insurrectionists who might have seized the government and made him a military dictator. And while they appreciated him returning to public service as president, they honored him more for leaving an office that many expected him to hold for life.

Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries were unaware of, but they would not have been surprised by, what King George III supposedly said upon hearing that Washington, after winning the Revolutionary War, had refused to be king: "If that is true, he must be the greatest man in the world."

Today we expect our leaders to seek and hold power, to take credit for their accomplishments, to demonstrate empathy, and to be facile with their written and spoken words, either their own or those of a speechwriter. Like the great Greek and Roman leaders, however, Washington was ambitious but learned to control it. He was too proud, in a good sense, to take credit.

Washington took advice from privates and generals, citizens and cabinet members, but his reserve kept them from feeling that they were his friends. When pressed to orate—as in his farewell toast to his officers or when he returned his sword to Congress after the Revolutionary War—Washington uttered some fine phrases, but he didn't give a single speech to the Continental Congresses. The delegates chose him anyway as commanding general and gave him far-reaching powers. He also gave no speech to the Constitutional Convention, yet his presence moved the delegates to choose a presidential form of government, largely because they knew he would serve as the first chief executive.

Likewise, Washington was an able but not elegant writer. He never composed an essay on religious freedom. But his custom of attending church services of different Christian denominations, and his letter to the Jewish congregation of Newport, R.I., helped bring fractious religious groups together in the new country. He never wrote an essay on the evils of slavery. But by emancipating his slaves after his death and providing for their support and education, he set an example noted repeatedly in succeeding decades.

In the early republic, Americans idolized virtues molded and displayed over the years. Today we seem excited by new persons and talents every month.

Our ancestors expected that America would produce other great leaders. But they celebrated Washington's birthday because, as the Connecticut Courant observed in 1791, "Many a private man might make a great president; but will there ever be a President who will make so great a man as WASHINGTON?"

Mr. Miller, a former U.S. Ambassador at Large and visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. He is writing a book about Washington and civilian supremacy over the military.

24361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: February 19, 2011, 03:57:11 PM
The Nuclear War or the Mid-East War, Peace, and SNAFU threads would be a better place for this.
24362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the MB on: February 19, 2011, 01:54:56 PM
Good to see the research on that GM.
Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." So goes the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood.

What's extraordinary about this maxim is the succinct way that it captures the political dimension of Islam. Even more extraordinary is the capacity of these five pillars of faith to attract true believers. But the most remarkable thing of all is the way the Brotherhood's motto seduces Western liberals.

Readers of this paper are familiar with the genesis of the Muslim Brotherhood: its establishment in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna; its history of terrorism; its violent offshoots such as al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamait Islamiya, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and others across the Muslim world. Readers may also recall the brutal crackdowns on the Brothers by autocratic regimes in the Middle East—particularly in Egypt under Nasser and in Syria during the Hama massacre of 1982.

As a result of these crackdowns, the Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s (after Nasser's regime executed the Islamist philosopher Sayyid Qutb in 1966) and started a gradual process to participate in conventional politics. This renunciation—and the Brotherhood's involvement in the Egyptian uprising, neither violent nor dominant—has prompted some commentators to encourage the American government to engage with the Brothers as legitimate partners in Middle Eastern affairs.

Like a drug addict after years in rehab, the Brotherhood is now regarded as clean. Precisely because of its troubled past, so the argument goes, it can be counted on to help lead the people of Egypt into a new era of political reform.

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David Klein
 .These commentators claim the Brotherhood will be a better partner for the U.S. than the ousted President Hosni Mubarak because it is a grass-roots movement with a significant civic and economic role in Egyptian society. They liken the Brotherhood to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party, which is widely admired in the West for its moderate Islamism, offering Turks the attractive combination of economic development and religious identity. According to this view, moderate Islamism is like Christian democracy in postwar Western Europe.

In recent days, Essam El-Errian and Tariq Ramadan have expressed such views in the New York Times and the Herald Tribune. A member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Council, Mr. El-Errian wrote that his organization has an "unequivocal position against violence" and aims "to achieve reform and rights for all." According to his account, the Brotherhood has no desire to play a dominant role in a new government, and it won't put forward a candidate for the presidency.

Mr. Ramadan, the grandson of the Brotherhood's founder, predictably painted the group as peaceful. If it had ever done anything to make anyone doubt its peaceful credentials, he argued, it was the fault of the oppressive regimes supported by America and other Western powers.

Neither Mr. El-Errian nor Mr. Ramadan mentioned that the Muslim Brotherhood's motto is still in place, let alone its implications. At least Mr. El-Errian admitted that the movement does not want a Western-style secular liberal democracy, since such democracies reject the role of religion in public life.

These apologists for the Muslim Brotherhood are targeting two audiences. The first is the small but influential liberal elite in the U.S. and its larger counterpart in Europe, which has never been comfortable supporting the likes of Mr. Mubarak and would love to believe in a touchy-feely moderate Islamism.

Read More.The Post-Islamist Future
By Maajid Nawaz
.The second audience is the mainly young people who initiated the uprising and have kept it going with social-networking sites and other modern media tools. Young people in the streets of Cairo cannot help but be attracted to the force that has been the most tenacious and consistent opposition to the hated dictator. And they are mostly Muslims, after all.

Yet the youth also are not entirely ignorant of the drastic changes that Islamists impose on the societies that they end up governing—banning alcohol, music, movies, nightclubs. Muhammad Akef Mahdi, one of the supreme leaders of the Brotherhood in Egypt, has said in various interviews that the Brotherhood wants to purge the press of un-Islamic content and to seek conformity between the cinema and theater and the principles of Islam.

The Brotherhood's political skill is formidable and it seems to be achieving its goals—namely, insistence from gullible Westerners that there should be elections as soon as possible and at least tacit support from young Egyptians whose votes it will need to win.

Rather than running op-eds by the likes of Mr. Ramadan, the Western press would better serve Egyptians by exposing the Brotherhood's hidden agenda. Due to the limits on press freedom in Egypt, many educated Egyptians and other Arabs depend on the Western media for news and analysis. To deny them close scrutiny of the Brotherhood's past and future plans is unforgivable.

Instead of simply pushing for elections at the earliest opportunity, Western commentators should be pushing for more time—above all, to allow the drafting of a new Egyptian constitution. Such a constitution would introduce checks and balances, eliminate the one-party system, and guarantee the protection of human rights. In particular, it would safeguard Egypt against the imposition of Shariah law.

True, constitutions can be discarded by tyrants or religious fanatics if they assume power. But the introduction of a well-designed constitution would make it harder for them to do so. It would also make it easier for the U.S. and other foreign observers to ensure that any future elections are free and fair.

Anyone who believes that a truly democratic outcome in Egypt is the real goal of the Muslim Brotherhood has failed to understand—or purposefully ignored—the group's motto.

Ms. Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament, is the author most recently of "Nomad: From Islam to America—A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations" (Free Press, 2010) and is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

24363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / An Arab rant on: February 19, 2011, 01:35:41 PM,itag,uaopt,ip,ipbits,expire&expire=1300718795&ipbits=0&ip=

24364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion and theocratic politics on: February 19, 2011, 01:14:18 PM
Doug is right.  It looks like we are now seeing whether it will be a struggle between civilization and barbarism or between Islam and everyone else.
24365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Chess on: February 19, 2011, 01:02:41 PM
Great comments-- what's a Benoni Defense?

Conrad always plays white against me.  For quite some time he has focused on a QP opening.  For a while I did well playing QB-4 in response, but eventually he solved that  cool

24366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Big Brother seeks to track gold buyers on: February 19, 2011, 12:52:28 PM

Prepare To Give Up All Private Data For Any Gold Purchase Over $100
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/18/2011 20:59 -0500

A week ago, when we reported on a move by the Dutch central bank that
ordered a pension fund to forcibly reduce its gold holdings, we speculated
that "this latest gold confiscation equivalent event is most certainly
coming to a banana republic near you." And while we got the Banana republic
right, the event that we are about to describe is not necessarily identical.
It is much worse. A bill proposed in the State of Washington (House Bill
1716), by representatives Asay, Hurst, Klippert, Pearson, and Miloscia,
whose alleged purpose is to regulate secondhand gold dealers, seeks to
capture "the name, date of birth, sex, height, weight, race, and address and
telephone number of the person with whom the transaction is made" or said
otherwise, of every purchaser of gold in the state of Washington.
Furthermore, if passed, Bill 1716 will record "a complete description of the
property pledged, bought, or consigned, including the brand name, serial
number, model number or name, any initials or engraving, size, pattern, and
color or stone or stones" and of course price. But the kicker: if a
transaction is mode for an amount over $100, which means one tenth of an
ounce of golds, also required will be a "signature, photo, and fingerprint
of the person with whom the transaction is made." In other words, very soon
Washington state will know more about you than you know about yourself, if
you dare to buy any gold object worth more than a C-note. How this proposal
is supposed to protect consumers against vulture gold dealers we don't quite
get. Hopefully someone will explain it to us. We do, however, get how
Americans will part with any and all privacy if they were to exchange fiat
for physical. And in a police state like America, this will likely not be
taken lightly, thereby killing the gold trade should the proposed Bill pass,
and be adopted elsewhere.
24367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Iran on: February 19, 2011, 12:08:24 AM
Concerns Over Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Iran

The Persian Gulf island of Bahrain was Thursday’s geopolitical focal point. The day began with domestic security forces storming an encampment of protesters in a central square in the capital of Manama — an operation that left five people dead and another 100-200 reportedly injured. While the army is trying to ensure against further protests, more unrest in the coming days cannot be ruled out. Manama’s trepidation can be gauged from the fact that Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa chaired an extraordinary session of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) foreign ministers.

Bahrain is unique in that it is the only country among the mostly wealthy Arab states on the Arabian Peninsula that is experiencing public unrest. However, public agitation is by no means new, as it has a lengthy tradition of pro-democracy mass risings. But in the wake of the toppling of presidents who long ruled Tunisia and Egypt, this latest wave of unrest in Bahrain is seen with a greater sense of urgency.

“From Riyadh’s perspective, the empowerment of Shia in neighboring Bahrain could very likely embolden its own Shiite minority…”
In addition to being the only GCC member state to experience demonstrations, the country’s location and sectarian demographic sets it apart from every other Arab nation. An overwhelming Shiite majority seeks a greater say in the country ruled by a Sunni royal family and in close proximity to Iran. Thus, the demand for democracy, which in the case of other Arab countries is seen by many around the world as a positive development, is a cause of regional and international concern for Bahrain.

This would explain why U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates talked by phone with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa (also deputy commander of the country’s armed forces) to discuss the security situation. Washington is not only concerned about security and stability because it is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, but also because of the fear that Iran could potentially exploit the situation to its advantage. As it stands, Iran already has the upper hand in its struggle with the United States over Iraq and Lebanon.

The potential for the al-Khalifas to make concessions to the Shia is a frightening prospect for the Saudis, who are already trying to deal with the Shiite empowerment in Baghdad and Beirut. From Riyadh’s perspective, the empowerment of Shia in neighboring Bahrain could very likely embolden its own Shiite minority (20 percent of the kingdom’s population, concentrated in the kingdom’s oil rich Eastern province, which is in close proximity to Bahrain).

Even before the outbreak of regional unrest, Saudi Arabia has had a difficult time in light of the pending transition of the geriatric king and the top three princes. But now with the contagion that began in North Africa engulfing Saudi Arabia’s immediate neighborhood, there is a sense of alarm in the Saudi capital. A senior member of the House of Saud, Prince Talal bin Abdel-Aziz, who is close to King Abdullah, told BBC Arabic that the regional unrest threatened the kingdom unless it engaged in political reforms and the only one who could initiate the process is the country’s 86-year old ailing monarch.

But now with Bahrain in play, the Saudis are not just concerned about calls for democracy, but also the rise of Shia on the Arabian Peninsula and with it, a more assertive Iran.

24368  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: What are some indications your finger is broken? on: February 18, 2011, 04:47:36 PM
I thought people would be all over this thread  cheesy
24369  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: European “Gathering of the Pack” 2011 on: February 18, 2011, 04:46:55 PM
If you like, I can do both  evil
24370  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: New DBMA Classes Starting March 1st in Chino Hills, California on: February 18, 2011, 04:46:10 PM
24371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Chess on: February 18, 2011, 04:45:31 PM
I play games live at sometimes.  I haven't used the capability, but apparently they have coaching there too.  Worth it to pay a few $ a month I think.
24372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / OTOH here's this on: February 18, 2011, 04:28:24 PM
OTOH, here's Wesbury:,-sugar,-or-dead-cat-bounces
24373  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Skin Gun for Skin Burns on: February 18, 2011, 02:48:44 PM
24374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Strassel on: February 18, 2011, 02:28:50 PM
Washington and Lincoln—those birthday boys—ought to be smiling.

The 112th House of Representatives spent the week debating how to fund the rest of fiscal 2011. In sharp contrast to his recent predecessors, Speaker John Boehner is sticking to his vow to make the chamber more open and accountable. His committee chairmen having presented a base spending bill, Mr. Boehner threw open the floor for full discussion. Some 600 amendments came pouring in.

"Chaos," "a headache," "turmoil," "craziness," "confused," "wild," "uncontrolled" are just a few of the words the Washington press corps has used to describe the ensuing late-night debates. There's a far better word for what happened: democracy. It has been eons since the nation's elected representatives have had to study harder, debate with such earnestness, or commit themselves so publicly. Yes, it is messy. Yes, it is unpredictable. But as this Presidents Day approaches, it's a fabulous thing to behold.

And about time. The Democrats' style of management—on ObamaCare, cap and trade, financial regulation, stimulus—was to secretly craft bills and ram through a vote, denying members a chance to read, to debate, to amend. They learned this from former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who infamously micro- managed his GOP majority from 2003-2005. The House had become a place where the leadership called all the shots and the majority saluted.

But this week the country witnessed the House coming together to argue over and exercise its foremost responsibility: power over the purse. And from the look of the amendments, both sides were eager to use that funding authority to put the Obama policy machine on notice.

There were amendments to prohibit funds for the mortgage-modification program (Darrell Issa, R., Calif.), for wasteful broadband grants (Jim Matheson, D., Utah), for further TSA full-body scanning machines (Rush Holt, D., N.J.), for the salaries of State Department envoys tasked with shutting Guantanamo Bay (Tim Huelskamp, R., Kan.). And amendments designed to cut off funding for IRS agents enforcing ObamaCare.

View Full Image

Martin Kozlowski
 .Americans got to see what happens when members of Congress exercise their collective knowledge of the federal government. Mr. Issa put forward amendments to prohibit the National Institutes of Health from spending money studying the impact of yoga on hot flashes in menopausal women. Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum offered to strike funding for the Department of Defense to sponsor Nascar race cars. Indiana Republican Todd Rokita proposed getting rid of money provided for dissertation research under a 1970 Housing Act.

Neglected questions were once again asked. Should we get rid of federal funding for the arts? Should the government be designating federal monuments? What's the role of NASA? And Congress finally got to air some dirty secrets.

One of this week's more symbolically rich cuts came from Arizona's Republican Jeff Flake, who won an amendment erasing $34 million for the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pa. The center, despite serving no real purpose, had been protected for decades, via earmarks, by the late Defense appropriations chair John Murtha.

The nation witnessed Democrats—the members not in the majority—offer their own amendments, a courtesy Speaker Nancy Pelosi never extended. In the main, that meant seeing that nothing much has changed on that side of the aisle. Most Democratic amendments were to restore funds for even the most minor GOP cuts. Texas's Sheila Jackson Lee even went to the mat to continue funding for those road signs bragging about the stimulus.

Remarkably, voters saw Republicans disagree vehemently with each other. Just as remarkably, the world did not stop spinning. To the contrary, these arguments helped flesh out differences and proved it is possible for gentlemen to have honest disagreements. Nowhere was this more clear than in this week's vote to defund a second (duplicative) engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The engine is being developed in a town near Mr. Boehner's Ohio district, and the speaker is a supporter. Yet 100 Republicans joined 123 Democrats (and Defense Secretary Robert Gates) to oppose the second engine and save taxpayers $450 million this year and $3 billion in the long-run.

Mr. Boehner didn't have to allow that vote. Mrs. Pelosi wouldn't have. But in opening the House, Mr. Boehner has done far more than put reform above his own priorities. This week's exercise forced members to read the underlying spending bill; to understand the implications of hundreds of amendments; to remain on the floor for debate; and to go on record with votes for which voters will hold them accountable.

Some of these amendments are duplicates. Some weren't heard. Some failed. Even those that pass now must survive the Senate. But what isn't in doubt is that Congress, this week, earned its pay. Long may that last.

24375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / MB leader to speak in Tahrir Square on: February 18, 2011, 02:23:14 PM
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2011, 06:49:49 PM »     


Wonderful: Muslim Brotherhood’s “spiritual leader” to preach in Tahrir Square tomorrow

posted at 6:15 pm on February 17, 2011 by Allahpundit

I linked it a week ago, but if you haven’t yet read Lee Smith’s analysis of how Qaradawi’s emergence in Egypt could mirror Khomeini’s return to Iran from exile, read it now. (“Qaradawi approves of wife-beating, he defends female genital mutilation and signs off on female suicide bombers, and he attacks Shia for trying to subvert Sunni nations.”) And bear in mind, not only is the Brotherhood an international movement, Qaradawi himself is already internationally famous throughout the region for his show on Al Jazeera. So the spectacle of his appearance in Tahrir Square — no doubt to be carried live on AJ — is something that could galvanize fanatics in Egypt and beyond, reaching other Sunni countries that have gone wobbly like Yemen. Or, in the ultimate worst-case scenario, Saudi Arabia.

    For the first time since he was banned from leading weekly friday prayers in Egypt 30 years ago, prominent Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi will lead thousands in the weekly prayers from Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday.

    Sources told Al Arabiya that a military force will accompany the head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars from his home to Tahrir Square, provide security for the prayers and accompany him back to his residence…

    Sheikh Qaradawi confirmed in a telephone call with the German Press Agency that he would lead tomorrow’s prayers in Tahrir, with hundreds of thousands expected to attend.

Once you’re done with Lee Smith’s piece, dive into this post at Hit & Run by Stephen J. Smith collecting evidence on the wires (and beyond) that the Saudis are already hard at work inside Bahrain to crush the Shiite protests there. That’s not surprising — a Saudi intervention was expected there at some point given how high the stakes are — but the extent of their presence is a shock. Hit & Run makes it sound like a full-fledged invasion, with at least one eyewitness reporting that Saudi tanks are “everywhere.” The Journal also reports a full military crackdown, replete with troops now in control of the square where protesters demonstrated for three days, but they seem to believe it’s the Bahraini military at work. Until last night, the demonstrations had been comparatively upbeat, with some protesters even advocating leaving the king in power if legal reforms could be worked out. Now it’s a death struggle, literally: “Shouts of ‘Death to the al-Khalifa’ have increasingly been heard.”

If the Saudis are scared now, wait until tomorrow when Qaradawi leads the region-wide democracy parade. Exit question: There’s no way the U.S. wants this guy seizing the moment in Egypt, especially with our “friends” in Riyadh getting nervous. Is this the best proof yet of how little leverage we have left over the Egyptian military?
24376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Noonan on: February 18, 2011, 02:19:50 PM
There were two big speeches this week, and I mean big as in "Modern political history will remember this." Together they signal something significant and promising. Oh, that's a stuffy way to put it. I mean: The governors are rising and are starting to lead. What a relief. It's like seeing the posse come over the hill.

The first speech was from Mitch Daniels, the Indiana governor who is the answer to the question, "What if Calvin Coolidge talked?" President Coolidge, a spare and serious man, was so famously silent, the story goes, that when a woman at a dinner told him she'd made a bet she could get him to string three words together, he smiled and said, "You lose." But he was principled, effective and, in time, broadly popular.

The other speech was from a governor newer to the scene but more celebrated, in small part because he comes from a particular media market and in large part because he has spent the past year, his first in office, taking on his state's most entrenched political establishments, and winning. His style—big, rumpled, garrulous, Jersey-blunt—has captured the imagination of the political class, and also normal people. They look at him and think, "I know that guy. I like that guy."

Both Mr. Daniels, who spoke Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and Chris Christie of New Jersey, who spoke Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute, were critical of both parties and put forward the same message: Wake up. We are in crisis. We must save our country, and we can. But if we don't move now, we will lose it. This isn't rhetoric, it's real.

Here's why response at both venues was near-rapturous: Everyone knew they meant it. Everyone knew they'd been living it.

Mr. Daniels began with first principles—the role and purpose of government—and went to what he has done to keep his state's books in the black in spite of "the recent unpleasantness." He turned to the challenge of our era: catastrophic spending, the red ink that is becoming "the red menace." He said: "No enterprise, small or large, public or private, can remain self-governing, let alone successful, so deeply in hock to others as we are about to be." If a foreign army invaded, we would set aside all secondary disputes and run to the ramparts. We must bring that air of urgency to the spending crisis. It is "our generational assignment. . . . Forgive the pun when I call it our 'raison debt.'"

He argued for cuts and sunsetting, for new arrangements and "compacts" with the young. What followed has become controversial with a few conservatives, though it was the single most obvious thing Daniels said: "We have learned in Indiana, big change requires big majorities. We will need people who never tune in to Rush or Glenn or Laura or Sean," who don't fall asleep at night to C-Span, who are not necessarily engaged or aligned.

Rush Limbaugh, who is rightly respected for many reasons—lost in the daily bombast, humor and controversy is that fact that for 20 years he has been the nation's most reliable and compelling explainer of conservative thought—saw Mr. Daniels's remarks as disrespectful. Radio listeners aren't "irrelevant or unnecessary."

Of course they're not. Nor are they sufficient. If you really want to change your country, you cannot do it from a political base alone. You must win over centrists, moderates, members of the other party, and those who are not preoccupied with politics. This doesn't mean "be less conservative," it means broadening the appeal of conservative thinking and approaches. It starts with not alienating and proceeds to persuading.

The late Rep. Henry Hyde, he of the Hyde amendment, once said to me, "Politics is a game of addition." You start with your followers and bring in new ones, constantly broadening the circle to include people who started out elsewhere. You know the phrase Reagan Democrats? It exists because Reagan reached out to Democrats! He put out his hand to them and said, literally, "Come walk with me." He lauded Truman, JFK and Scoop Jackson. He argued in his first great political speech, in 1964, that the choice wasn't right or left, it was up or down.

That's what Mr. Daniels was saying. "We can search for villains on ideological grounds," but it's a waste of time. Compromise and flexibility are necessary, "purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers." We must work together. You've got to convince the other guy.

Mr. Christie covered similar territory in a way that was less aerial, more on-the-ground. He spoke of making change in Jersey.

Pensions and benefits on the state level, he said, are the equivalent of federal entitlements. They have powerful, "vocal" constituencies. He introduced pension and benefit reforms on a Tuesday in September, and that Friday he went to the state firefighters convention in Wildwood. It was 2 p.m., and "I think you know what they had for lunch." Mr. Christie had proposed raising their retirement age, eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment, increasing employee pension contributions, and rolling back a 9% pay increase approved years before "by a Republican governor and a Republican Legislature."

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.As Mr. Chrisie recounted it: "You can imagine how that was received by 7,500 firefighters. As I walked into the room and was introduced. I was booed lustily. I made my way up to the stage, they booed some more. . . . So I said, 'Come on, you can do better than that,' and they did!"

He crumpled up his prepared remarks and threw them on the floor. He told them, "Here's the deal: I understand you're angry, and I understand you're frustrated, and I understand you feel deceived and betrayed." And, he said, they were right: "For 20 years, governors have come into this room and lied to you, promised you benefits that they had no way of paying for, making promises they knew they couldn't keep, and just hoping that they wouldn't be the man or women left holding the bag. I understand why you feel angry and betrayed and deceived by those people. Here's what I don't understand. Why are you booing the first guy who came in here and told you the truth?"

He told them there was no political advantage in being truthful: "The way we used to think about politics and, unfortunately, the way I fear they're thinking about politics still in Washington" involves "the old playbook [which] says, "lie, deceive, obfuscate and make it to the next election." He'd seen a study that said New Jersey's pensions may go bankrupt by 2020. A friend told him not to worry, he won't be governor then. "That's the way politics has been practiced in our country for too long. . . . So I said to those firefighters, 'You may hate me now, but 15 years from now, when you have a pension to collect because of what I did, you'll be looking for my address on the Internet so you can send me a thank-you note.'"

It can be a great relief to turn away from Washington and look at the states, where the rubber meets the road. Real leadership is happening there—the kind that can inspire real followership.

24377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul? on: February 18, 2011, 02:08:48 PM
A friend sent me these:

By themselves, they do not present a lot of evidence.  OTOH Ron Paul has a very dicey history on this front.  A newsletter sent out under his name for several years had some pretty bad stuff in it, which RP blamed on an unsupervised employee.  Also, not proof, but a favorite RP theme is "international banker conspiracy", a possibility I don't deny, but an idea often intertwined with some pretty vile anti-semitism.
24378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Australia; Patriot Post on: February 18, 2011, 01:52:48 PM
"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." --Thomas Jefferson

Government & Politics
Fiscal Insanity: The White House Budget
Last year, Democrats in Congress didn't even bother to pass a budget. Given the increases proposed in the White House budget released Monday, it might behoove Congress to rinse, lather and repeat. Last November, Barack Obama's very own deficit commission recommended that federal spending be cut by $4 trillion over the next decade -- which is still far too little for our liking -- but Obama must have misunderstood. He apparently thought they meant he should spend $4 trillion this year.

The administration's budget proposal sets federal spending for fiscal 2012 at $3.73 trillion, yet another dubious new record for this administration. The deficit for the '12 budget would be $1.65 trillion, or 10.9 percent of GDP, also a record. That would bring the total national debt equal to the worth of the entire U.S. economy, or $15 trillion. Yet Obama has the chutzpah to tout the shamelessly inadequate spending cuts in his budget.

Erskine Bowles, a Clinton administration lackey who co-chaired Obama's deficit commission, was far closer to the mark when he said that the White House's proposal is "nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare." Even Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner asserted that it would leave the nation with "unsustainable obligations over time."

As for the "cuts" and "savings," The Wall Street Journal notes, "Although the White House trumpets $2.18 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, those savings are so far off in the magical 'out years' that you can barely see them from here."

Perhaps most appalling is Obama's utter failure to address entitlement spending -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- which together constitute the majority of federal spending. Even the liberal Washington Post gets it: "President Obama's budget kicks the hard choices further down the road," said the headline of its recent editorial, which also criticized the president for his budgetary "gimmickry." In other words, the necessary cuts won't happen unless House Republicans begin to undertake the hard work right now.

One of the reasons Obama can claim deficit reduction is the old tax trick -- raise taxes and count on exact revenue increases, completely ignoring the negative effect that doing so will have on the economy. In fact, the White House anticipates economic growth of more than 4 percent in the next three to four years, which is a full percentage point higher than most private economists or the Congressional Budget Office project.

The budget anticipates that taxes on the top two income brackets will rise in 2013, and it includes raising the capital gains tax to 20 percent from 15 percent plus new taxes on energy companies totaling $300 billion. On top of that, the administration is seeking 5,100 additional IRS agents to reduce the estimated $300 billion in unpaid taxes. All told, Obama is counting on $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue -- money taken out of the economy to pay for more government. He keeps calling that government spending "investment," as if that makes it acceptable.

Under this budget, the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of ObamaCare (despite a judge's recent ruling that the law is unconstitutional, we might add), will become the nation's first $1 trillion department by 2014. "In fact," says CNSNews editor Terence Jeffrey, "HHS already is costing American taxpayers more per year in inflation-adjusted dollars than the entire federal government cost back in 1965, the year President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed Medicare into law." This year's total is $909.7 billion, which is $170 billion more than the Department of Defense.

About his budget, Obama claimed, "Just like every family in America, the federal government has to do two things at once: It has to live within its means while still investing in the future. If your family [is] trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, you might put off a vacation, but you wouldn't want to sacrifice saving for your kids' college education or making key repairs in your house. So you cut back on what you can't afford to focus on what you can't do without, and that's what we've done with this year's budget." Such a claim is absurd. House Republicans should lead the charge against it.

News From the Swamp: GOP Works to Cut Spending
House Republicans are doing some budget work themselves, debating legislation to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The GOP is considering measures that would reduce federal spending by $61 billion this year, including defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and eliminating $450 million for a second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter, though other defense cuts failed. Republicans are also debating blocking funding for ObamaCare, and dethroned nine "czars" Thursday. Some conservative Republicans are pushing for an additional $20 billion in cuts.

Barack Obama issued a veto threat almost as soon as the House began debate on the cuts. The White House said that the GOP's plans "will undermine our ability to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world." It's important to note that $61 billion is still a pathetically small piece of the $3+ trillion budget, so Democrats might want to tone down their cries of despair -- and Republicans might want to toughen up.

24379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Atlanta PD taps into private cameras too on: February 18, 2011, 01:45:54 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Someday very soon, if you stroll through Piedmont Park, travel the Downtown Connector, hit one of the bars or restaurants in Midtown or visit the Georgia Dome or Philips Arena, you'll have an invisible companion: the Atlanta Police Department.

This spring, the department will open a video integration center designed to compile and analyze footage from thousands of public and private security cameras throughout the city. Images from as many as 500 cameras in downtown and Midtown are expected to be flowing into the center by mid-summer.

Several metro Atlanta police agencies use cameras to bolster public safety, but the city's new venture, which will integrate data supplied by private entities such as CNN, America's Mart and Midtown Blue as well as public agencies such as the Federal Reserve, MARTA and the Georgia Department of Transportation, represents a whole new level of electronic surveillance.

Atlanta police Chief George Turner pointed to the case of Charles Boyer, gunned down outside a Virginia-Highland apartment building in November, to show what cameras can do. Footage from a security camera, which captured images of men refueling a vehicle similar to one described by witnesses to the shooting, contributed to the arrest five days later of the three men charged with Boyer's murder.

"How successful were we in solving that crime because of the video we had?" Turner asked in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That's an example of how this will work."

In fact, the technology installed in the new center will be capable of much more, according to David Wilkinson, president of the Atlanta Police Foundation, which funds a camera network operated by the private security agency Midtown Blue.

The foundation raised a half-million dollars to supplement the $2.6 million in federal funds the city will use to build its new center. The federal money came from Homeland Security grants and Justice Department seizure funds.

Wilkinson said the center will use software that can identify suspicious activity and guide officers right to the scene of a crime as it's occurring. In effect, the software will multiply the eyes and ears of the five to seven people per shift who will initially monitor video footage around the clock.

"Monitoring is somewhat of a fallacy," Wilkinson said. "Analytics will help control the cameras."

The software includes a program called "Gun Spotter," which automatically cues up cameras in the vicinity of the sound of gunfire, so dispatchers can get a quick jump on what happened. Other software will send images to the officers' in-car computers and even to the screens of web-enabled smart phones.

"The real goal is to prevent the crime," Wilkinson said. "You do that by setting up police patrols, cameras, things that deter criminal from ever committing crime."

Facial recognition systems, license plate reading and automatic tracking programs also are available, although cities such as Chicago, which has pioneered citywide video surveillance, has reported those technologies are not yet ready for prime time.

Atlanta is modeling its surveillance network after Chicago's, which integrates data from a 10,000-camera network. This week, the Illinois ACLU issued a report demanding a moratorium on further expansion of Chicago's system on the grounds that it represents an unacceptable threat to personal privacy.

"Cameras do not deter crime, they just displace it," said Adam Schwartz, a lawyer for the Illinois ACLU. "It's difficult to see where the benefits of using cameras outweighs the costs --- including a vast amount of money, potential privacy invasion and a potential chilling of free speech."

With the promise of integrated surveillance capabilities in the hands of Atlanta police, Georgia's ACLU is voicing similar concerns.

"We always hope for strong oversight and regulation to make sure there are no violations of privacy," Georgia ACLU attorney Chara Fisher Jackson said. "But until we see it [at work], we won't say what actions we might take."

Greg McGraw, who lives in East Cobb and works in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward, isn't too worried about police looking over his shoulder.

"People expose themselves so much on Facebook, privacy is a joke," McGraw said. "If it's going to make people safer, I'm for it."

Megan Larion, who lives in Buckhead and manages a Virginia-Highland apartment complex, is OK with the cameras, too, especially when she thinks about Boyer's slaying.

"I guess those folks who think these cameras mark the end of the world will be upset, but that's all," Larion said. "I think it's a good thing. It'll improve our industry, and people will feel more safe."

For a preview of how Atlanta's proposed network will function, you just have to look at the nearly 50 video screens that flicker above the front office of Midtown Blue. When someone calls in to report suspicious activity, a video dispatcher can remotely pan, tilt or zoom any one of the $13,000 cameras, tracking the suspect and directing an officer to the spot.

"When you have a dispatcher sitting here, you can actually catch crimes before they occur," said Col. Wayne Mock, a retired Atlanta policeman who manages Midtown Blue.

If a crime does occur, the cameras make excellent witnesses, he said. "The video tells you what actually happened and doesn't get excited like the average witness might."

Other local police agencies also are using cameras to bolster the impact of their officers.

"We were convinced that this was an effective force multiplier," said Lilburn police Chief John Davidson.

But cities in other states have encountered glitches. Cincinnati is currently on its second video surveillance network; the first system, started in 2005, proved ineffective. And Orlando's system failed to deliver on its promise when the city ran short of funds for the necessary software.

In Chicago, even with cameras on every corner, as Mayor Richard M. Daley famously said he wants, video has its limits, said Jonathan Lewin, managing deputy director of the city's emergency management office.

"It provides an overall positive effect if you can saturate the area," Lewin said. "But it's not going to provide the panacea that will completely eliminate crime."

24380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: February 18, 2011, 01:30:46 PM
I am reminded of the ditty found on bathroom stalls.

"Here I sit, broken-hearted.  All this way, and I only farted."

Eloquent piece there by Ryan, but , , , where are the cuts?
24381  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Rising Commodity Prices on: February 18, 2011, 01:22:47 PM
Agenda: Rising Commodity Prices
February 18, 2011 | 1842 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a message to G-20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Paris this weekend, calling for efforts to rein in commodity speculators. But STRATFOR’s Peter Zeihan argues that governments and central banks bear some responsibility.

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

Colin: G-20 finance ministers and central bankers are meeting in Paris this weekend against a background of sharply rising food and commodity prices. Earlier this week, the World Bank’s chief, Robert Zoellick, warned that food prices were at dangerous levels and have pushed 44 million more people into poverty in the last nine months. G-20 is currently chaired by France, and France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has struck a characteristically populist note by urging commodity speculators be reined. But is it that simple? Might not governments and central banks bear some responsibility?

Welcome to Agenda, and this week I’m pleased to welcome back Peter Zeihan. Peter, commodity prices have become very volatile, many rising well above inflation levels, particularly for food and some minerals, and seem to bear no relationship to supply and demand.

Peter: Commodity prices are something we keep a close eye on here at STRATFOR, as they have a huge impact on industrial growth and honestly just flat out social stability; if a country can’t feed its people, it tends not to be a country for very long. However we have not actually done predictions on commodity prices for several years, and here’s why. There have been a number of changes in international financial markets over the last decade, but the one that impacts commodity prices the most is the simple fact that there is a lot of credit out there and has been for the last 10 years. The biggest change in the last 10 years is the onset of a very different type of credit cycle. The amount of capital and credit available in the system overall has just expanded logarithmically.

Colin: And why is that?

Peter: Mostly it’s due to the aging of the baby boomers. You have an entire generation, the largest generation in American history, that is all closing in on retirement, so they’re saving up huge amounts of capital and that puts so much money into the system. Another factor is that Asian savings for the first time are actually able to tap the international market; so all the overproduction in Japan and China — the money that it’s generating is mostly flowing back into global supply. But probably the one that is most applicable for today, and really for the last four years, is going to be the money supply of the various major economies. Now the United States catches a lot of criticism for what it’s doing with something called quantitative easing, which is a fancy way of saying that it’s printing currency in order to help bolster asset values here in the United States. And the United States is committed to printing up to $50 billion a month for the next seven months; they started this back in November. What most people don’t realize is that the United States is hardly the only country in play here. The U.S. money supply has expanded by about 17 percent over the course of the last four years. But if you look at everybody else, you’ll notice something very interesting. European, Japanese and Chinese money supply have all expanded by more. In fact, Chinese money supply has more than tripled over that same time period. So of about the $17 trillion of U.S. dollar equivalent that these four countries have added to the money supply, the United States is actually responsible for a very small percentage of it. All of this money has to go somewhere. Now, the countries do this for various reasons. For the Europeans, it’s to try to stabilize their banking sector; for the Japanese and the Chinese, it’s in order to make sure that the banks have sufficient cash so they can subsidize their various industrial sectors that are noncompetitive. But not all of the money stays where it’s intended; a lot of it does make it into investment markets. And so, yes, the U.S.’s expanding the money supply does have an impact upon food prices and oil prices, pushing them up, but not nearly as much as the euro or the yuan.

Colin: So, you’re saying this means more money splashing into investments like commodities. But it used to be the case — the argument, if you like, about speculation — that the more liquid the market, the more reliable the market price as a guide to value.

Peter: Well, certainly the more individual players you have, the easier it will be for prices to settle at some sort of equilibrium. What we are dealing with here isn’t simply more players, but an absolutely massive surge in the amount of capital that is available from two forms. One of course is legitimate forms that people have saved for their own retirement or for any other reason. And two is just this massive money that the various center banks have been pushing into the system. The issue is not so much the number of players, although that does complicate the picture, but just the sheer volume and velocity of money that has entered the system right now. Various central governments have decided that increasing the money supply is a way of smoothing over all of the problems from the financial crisis from late 2007 all the way up to the current day. There is no sign that any of the major central banks are going to change this policy. If you look at the chart, you’ll notice that the Chinese money supply has actually been increasing almost exponentially over the course of the last six or seven years. They need this just to keep their system afloat, and a lot of that money is simply feeding right back into commodity prices.

Colin: Do you see this as a short-term phenomenon?

Peter: So long as you have a sovereign debt crisis in Europe, and so long as you have a Chinese system that is not competitive in the traditional sense, this is a factor that’s going to stick with us for quite some time. Now, if the debt crisis in Europe breaks and the euro goes away, and if the Chinese collapse under their own contradictions, all of a sudden those two central banks are actually gone. And you could go, in theory anyway, back to something that’s a little bit more normal.

Colin: Organizations like the Bank for International Settlements and the IMF will be aware of this, but what can they do about it?

Peter: Yes, I believe that they are aware. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to tackle it. From the European point of view, they are doing this in order to maintain the stability of their government debt markets and their banking sector. They will not change this policy because they see it as their lifeline. For the Chinese, this is how they maintain social stability. They’ve probably exhausted their depositor base and so they have to print money in order to keep their banking sector liquid. Should they stop, they’ll be dealing with a nationwide revolution. Against that sort of core interest, it’s difficult to imagine organizations like the IMF or the World Bank or the BIS having any lever that can be used. This is the new normal for now.

Colin: Fascinating, Peter. Thank you very much. Peter Zeihan, ending this week’s Agenda. Thanks for being with us until the next time. Goodbye.

24382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Stock Market on: February 18, 2011, 01:17:33 PM
FWIW, the brief version of my take on this:

As JDN notes, the market is generally considered to be a leading indicator. (Contrarily it is sometimes said the market can be wrong longer than you can stay solvent, but I digress , , ,).   If that is so here, let us see what was on the horizon when the market crashed, and what has been on the horizon as is has "returned" to roughly where it was.

The market dived when BO decisively passed McCain in the polls.  Coincidence?  Look at all the deranged possibilities that were on the horizon:  Obamacare, Cap & Trade (!!!), high and higher taxes, mad spending, regulations, mortgage boondoggles, bailouts, takeover of the auto industry, crony facism, defeaet in Iraq and the mid-east and much, much more--this group here needs no complete list to get my point.  Multiply the movement in market prices by computer trading by hedge funds and other mo-mo players.

What was on the horizon when the market began to climb?

The possibility, then the probability that BO and the Demogogues would get crushed in the polls.  Cap & Trade? Dead in the water.  Expiration of the Bush rates and other tax increases?  Dead.  More stimulus boondoggles-- less clear, but certainly far less than would be the case had the Dems retained control of the house.  Chance of defunding Obamacare.  BO himself?  Now forced to pretend to be a centrist. etc etc.  With these things, money that had been sitting on the sidelines (and there was a lot of it due to BO generated uncertainty) began coming back into play.

As GM notes in his way, a very good case can be made that the current moves of the market are essentially the market being "wrong" due to gamers playing with easy money sloshing around the system, hedge fund momentum computer trading (a big  majority of trades now if I am not mistaken) and those being fooled by what is essentially a quintessential bear trap.

QE2 is spending $600B for a claimed 3M jobs saved-- i.e. $200,000 per job!!!  The Fed govt is borrowing some 35-40% of every dollar it spends.  The deficit is some 9-10% of GDP (some claim 8, but whatever) The % of the budget that must go to cover interest payments, even at these articially low level interest levels, is some 12%.  What happens if/when interest rates double? Triple? Quadruple? (and note a large % of our borrowings are short term) This can happen!  Look at what happened in the late 70s under Carter-- and having lived through then and now, IMHO we are in FAR, FAR worse shape now.  BO's budget numbers are even more criminal than the usual baseline budgeting numbers.  The demographic chickens of SS, Medicaid, and Medicare are coming home to roost.  Many state governments are essentially bankrupt.  All of us here are familiar with the unemployment data.

The hazy fibology of the progressives aside, the reality is that FDR's programs created a market pattern similar to the one we see now-- minus the late 30s seeing things turn down again badly.  Like the 30s, the possibility of a world wide conflict looms.

To call the market's wild government induced ride a doubling from the bottom, as JDN does, while mathematically correct, IMHO misses most of the picture.
24383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: February 17, 2011, 11:30:03 PM
The enemies of freedom are patient. 

Are we?

Moral power is part of the American mix.  We don't fight nearly as well without it as with it.
24384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Iranian moves on: February 17, 2011, 11:19:48 PM
Iranian Moves in the Wake of Arab Unrest

A number of Iran-related developments made for a busy Wednesday in the Middle East.

The day began with Iran’s most important military commander, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps chief Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jaafari, saying that Iran’s elite military force would soon unveil a project that would “surprise the world.” Then, Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on his movement’s military forces to be prepared to invade Israel in the event of an Israeli attack on Lebanon. Nasrallah was responding to a statement from Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who a day earlier warned about the eruption of conflict on Israel’s northern border.

Wednesday’s most significant statement came from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said two Iranian naval vessels would be passing through the Suez Canal en route to Syria. Lieberman described the move as “a provocation that proves Iran’s nerve and self-esteem are growing from day to day.” The Israeli foreign minister went on to say that the global community needed to realize that his country could not “ignore these provocations forever.”

“Even if the street agitation in Arab capitals had not erupted, Iranian military ships making their way through the heart of the Arab world would still create a major stir in the Arab countries, Israel and the United States.”
These statements come at a time when Egypt and other states in the wider Arab world are dealing with domestic unrest. The United States and Israel are concerned about future regional stability in the wake of the regional commotion, especially with Egypt in play. It is true that Iran was already a problem, but in the current uncertain circumstances, the behavior of Tehran’s clerical regime becomes an even bigger concern.

Iran, which already has the upper hand in its regional struggle with the United States, would like to be able to take advantage of the current situation by creating more problems for Washington at a time when the Obama administration is trying to manage the situation in the Arab countries without weakening its position regarding Iraq and Iran. There are already concerns about Iranian backing for the protesters from the Shiite majority community in the Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain.

Furthermore, Iranian warships ferrying through the Suez Canal on their way to Syria had been planned ahead of the recent unrest in Arab countries. Even if the street agitation in Arab capitals had not erupted, Iranian military ships reportedly making their way through the heart of the Arab world would still create a major stir in the Arab countries, Israel and the United States. And now that the region is in the middle of unprecedented instability, the event — and the Iranians appear to be proceeding — carries a much bigger significance.

The Islamic republic is attempting to telegraph to everyone in the region and beyond of its growing regional prowess. Iran knows that its moves will not go unnoticed. The United States, Israel and the Arabs cannot just dismiss Tehran’s moves as minor, especially not in the current Middle East climate.

Certainly Iran does not yet posses the kind of naval capability for power projection far away from its shores, nor does it want to pick an actual fight. But its neighbors and the United States cannot be sure of that and it is this perception that makes Tehran’s moves significant.

24385  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: February 17, 2011, 09:06:40 PM
I think the piece is on to a very important point.  Much thinking in the Arab world is a result of what is learned in the aftermath of the suppression of free speech.  I would REALLY like to see A LOT of this.
24386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Reading Adam Smith in Arabic on: February 17, 2011, 08:43:04 PM
At this time of unrest and transition in the Arab world, the United States's capacity to communicate core values of democracy and individual liberty is a priority. Our capability to translate them into Arabic is a necessity. We need to expose the Arab world to the fundamental texts of Western political and philosophical thought. Indeed, the export of ideas may be the most valuable commodity we have to offer.

Of course we hear similar sentiments often. But our seduction by the power of the Internet has distracted us from remembering the power of books.

Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. State Department initiated a little-known but very important project, the Arabic Book Program. It primarily operates out of our embassies in Cairo and Amman, and the U.S. Consulate General's office in Jerusalem. As the State Department explains, the objective is "translating into Arabic, publishing and distributing selected books from American writers in various areas, including economics, management sciences, politics, humanities, arts, and the environment."

 Global View Columnist Bret Stephens reveals the disturbing history of one of Egypt's rising powers.
.A March 2010 State Department Inspector General Report stated that the Cairo and Amman embassies operate the translation program, but that it "is relatively small, translating 6 to 10 titles each year." In addition, the title selection committee "meets every six months." This is hardly a rigorous production schedule, and it demonstrates a lack of serious commitment to the project.

Quality is also an issue. Despite a stated intent to do so, the Arabic Book Program has not prioritized its limited resources on primary source documents of political philosophy or books that constitute expositions on core principles that can assist struggling nations.

The "in stock" publications available from the embassy in Amman, for example, include only one text from the American founding, "The Federalist Papers." That's a good choice, but Publius cannot carry the weight alone.

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Our seduction by the power of the Internet has distracted us from remembering the power of books. The export of ideas may be the most valuable commodity we have to offer.
.To its credit, the program has translated Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" and Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America." But these are not listed as in stock. In contrast, available titles currently circulating include things like the popular environmental studies textbook "Who Pays the Price? The Sociocultural Context of the Environmental Crisis" and novelist Amy Tan's "The Joy Luck Club."

Notably missing are translations of John Locke's "Second Treatise of Government" and many other influential classics of Western liberal thought. Search the program's collections and you will not find Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations," but you will find a more recent book called "The Natural Wealth of Nations: Harnessing the Market for the Environment."

The Arabic Book Program was a good idea that was never taken far enough. A 2002 United Nations Arab Human Development Report noted that, "Translation is one of the most important channels for the dissemination of information and communication with the rest of the world." It added that, "The translation movement in the Arab world, however, remains static and chaotic."

The report explained that in the Arab world fewer than five translated books per million people were published in the early 1980s, while a corresponding rate in a country like Hungary was 519 translated books per million. Little has changed in the past three decades.

These failures need correction. The ongoing revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere are a stark reminder of the exigency involved. The State Department program should start doing more and better now.

Mr. Kochan is an associate professor of law at Chapman University.

24387  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: February 17, 2011, 06:02:32 PM
Testicles would help too.
24388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rove on: February 17, 2011, 05:58:18 PM
President Obama's 2012 budget is not a serious governing document. It's a political one, designed to boost his re-election chances.

By repeatedly saying that his budget reduces the deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years, he hopes the numbers make him sound fiscally conservative. But he puts off 95% of the deficit reduction until after his term ends in 2013. And he assumes that economic growth in the next few years will be at least 25% higher than credible economic forecasters estimate.

Mr. Obama's budget includes $1.6 trillion in tax increases that are real enough—but most of the spending cuts are not. For example, as Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman pointed out to me, the administration projects war costs for Iraq and Afghanistan at surge levels for the next decade, and then conjures up about $1.3 trillion in defense savings by assuming drawdowns in each theater—drawdowns that were already in the cards. Outside of this sham transaction, according to Mr. Ryan, there are only $104 billion in real spending cuts over the next 10 years.

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Mr. Obama's budget includes $1.6 trillion in tax increases that are real enough—but most of the spending cuts are not.
.Moreover, the administration simply ignores entitlements. This is a dereliction of duty, although it has a certain political logic: The budget is not meant to be taken seriously—it's meant to be quickly forgotten so that the administration can turn attention to, and attack, what congressional Republicans do about federal spending.

Mr. Obama wants House Republicans to take the lead in cutting current spending and proposing future restraint in entitlement and other mandatory spending. He's betting that letting Republicans take the lead will cripple them. This misreads public opinion. But it is plausible to believe that Republican mistakes can help revive Mr. Obama's political fortunes. So it's important that the GOP offers real budget cuts without coming across as angry and frenetic. Republicans need to patiently show what they are doing and why, and to express their sadness and disappointment over Mr. Obama's failure of leadership.

Congressional Republicans need to make methodical and sensible recommendations for cutting discretionary outlays and restraining future entitlement spending. They must explain to the public why the Obama budget will lead to our nation suffering horrific tax increases, massive austerity cuts, and real human suffering. They need to show that the president's fiscal path is, to use a favorite word of his, unsustainable.

Tactically, Republicans should respond to Mr. Obama's agenda as they did to his infatuation with high-speed rail projects. Three days after Vice President Joe Biden touted the magical balm of high-speed trains, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers released the continuing resolution for the balance of fiscal year 2011.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is the author of the book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).

Email the author atKarl@Rove.comor visit him on the web Or, you can send a Tweet to @karlrove.

Click here to order his book,Courage and Consequence.
.It cut the rest of this fiscal year's high-speed rail funds, rescinded $3.5 billion appropriated in previous fiscal years but still unspent, and rescinded $3.75 billion in unspent transportation money from the 2009 stimulus, almost all of it from Mr. Obama's high-speed rail plan. Overall, nearly $8 billion was cut from transportation, but none from vital road projects that are real priorities for the states.

The result: Very few Americans believe the billions Mr. Obama wants for speedy trains from Milwaukee to Madison, or Columbus to Cincinnati, will spark economic recovery. This still leaves transportation spending higher than it was two years ago, when Mr. Obama came into office. Republicans can reasonably ask the public: Are we better off with all the spending and red ink Mr. Obama has added over the past two years?

There will be dozens of such confrontations in the months ahead. How Republicans handle these opportunities will go a long way toward determining how popular their agenda is. Politics involves optics as well as policy ideas.

The evidence of the federal government's budget woes is so overwhelming that Americans are ready for tough actions. They understand that failing to make cuts now and to restrain entitlements in the years ahead will doom our children and grandchildren—indeed our country—to a future less prosperous and less free.

Mr. Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, is the author of "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions, 2010).

24389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Kessler on: February 17, 2011, 05:55:08 PM
So where the heck are all the jobs? Eight-hundred billion in stimulus and $2 trillion in dollar-printing and all we got were a lousy 36,000 jobs last month. That's not even enough to absorb population growth.

You can't blame the fact that 26 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed on lost housing jobs or globalization—those excuses are played out. To understand what's going on, you have to look behind the headlines. That 36,000 is a net number. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in December some 4,184,000 workers (seasonally adjusted) were hired, and 4,162,000 were "separated" (i.e., laid off or quit). This turnover tells the story of our economy—especially if you focus on jobs lost as a clue to future job growth.

With a heavy regulatory burden, payroll taxes and health-care costs, employing people is very expensive. In January, the Golden Gate Bridge announced that it will have zero toll takers next year: They've been replaced by wireless FastTrak payments and license-plate snapshots.

Technology is eating jobs—and not just toll takers.

Tellers, phone operators, stock brokers, stock traders: These jobs are nearly extinct. Since 2007, the New York Stock Exchange has eliminated 1,000 jobs. And when was the last time you spoke to a travel agent? Nearly all of them have been displaced by technology and the Web. Librarians can't find 36,000 results in 0.14 seconds, as Google can. And a snappily dressed postal worker can't instantly deliver a 140-character tweet from a plane at 36,000 feet.

So which jobs will be destroyed next? Figure that out and you'll solve the puzzle of where new jobs will appear.

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 .Forget blue-collar and white- collar. There are two types of workers in our economy: creators and servers. Creators are the ones driving productivity—writing code, designing chips, creating drugs, running search engines. Servers, on the other hand, service these creators (and other servers) by building homes, providing food, offering legal advice, and working at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Many servers will be replaced by machines, by computers and by changes in how business operates. It's no coincidence that Google announced it plans to hire 6,000 workers in 2011.

But even the label "servers" is too vague. So I've broken down the service economy further, as a guide to figure out the next set of unproductive jobs that will disappear. (Don't blame me if your job is listed here; technology spares no one, not even writers.)

• Sloppers are those that move things—from one side of a store or factory to another. Amazon is displacing thousands of retail workers. DMV employees and so many other government workers move information from one side of a counter to another without adding any value. Such sloppers are easy to purge with clever code.

• Sponges are those who earned their jobs by passing a test meant to limit supply. According to this newspaper, 23% of U.S. workers now need a state license. The Series 7 exam is required for stock brokers. Cosmetologists, real estate brokers, doctors and lawyers all need government certification. All this does is legally bar others from doing the same job, so existing workers can charge more and sponge off the rest of us.

But eDiscovery is the hottest thing right now in corporate legal departments. The software scans documents and looks for important keywords and phrases, displacing lawyers and paralegals who charge hundreds of dollars per hour to read the often millions of litigation documents. Lawyers, understandably, hate eDiscovery.

Doctors are under fire as well, from computer imaging that looks inside of us and from Computer Aided Diagnosis, which looks for patterns in X-rays to identify breast cancer and other diseases more cheaply and effectively than radiologists do. Other than barbers, no sponges are safe.

• Supersloppers mark up prices based on some marketing or branding gimmick, not true economic value. That Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Two-Tone Date for $9,200 doesn't tell time as well as the free clock on my iPhone, but supersloppers will convince you to buy it. Markups don't generate wealth, except for those marking up. These products and services provide a huge price umbrella for something better to sell under.

• Slimers are those that work in finance and on Wall Street. They provide the grease that lubricates the gears of the economy. Financial firms provide access to capital, shielding companies from the volatility of the stock and bond and derivative markets. For that, they charge hefty fees. But electronic trading has cut into their profits, and corporations are negotiating lower fees for mergers and financings. Wall Street will always exist, but with many fewer workers.

• Thieves have a government mandate to make good money and a franchise that could disappear with the stroke of a pen. You know many of them: phone companies, cable operators and cellular companies are the obvious ones. But there are more annoying ones—asbestos testing and removal, plus all the regulatory inspectors who don't add value beyond making sure everyone pays them. Technologies like Skype have picked off phone companies by lowering international rates. And consumers are cutting expensive cable TV services in favor of Web-streamed video.

Like it or not, we are at the beginning of a decades-long trend. Beyond the demise of toll takers and stock traders, watch enrollment dwindle in law schools and medical schools. Watch the divergence in stock performance between companies that actually create and those that are in transition—just look at Apple, Netflix and Google over the last five years as compared to retailers and media.

But be warned that this economy is incredibly dynamic, and there is no quick fix for job creation when so much technology-driven job destruction is taking place. Fortunately, history shows that labor-saving machines haven't decreased overall employment even when they have made certain jobs obsolete. Ultimately the economic growth created by new jobs always overwhelms the drag from jobs destroyed—if policy makers let it happen.

Mr. Kessler, a former hedge fund manager, is the author most recently of "Eat People And Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs," just out from Portfolio.

24390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: With nary an American in sight , , , Libya on: February 17, 2011, 05:49:18 PM
Local media and human-rights groups monitoring Libya reported at least four protesters killed in recent clashes with security forces and regime supporters, as Col. Moammar Gadhafi mobilized large pro-government demonstrations across the North African country on Thursday.

Anti-Gadhafi groups reported on social-media sites late Thursday that Libyan protesters took to the streets in four cities Thursday afternoon.

Farnaz Fassihi has the latest on the military crackdown in Bahrain following three days of protests. Plus, unrest continues in Libya, Yemen and Iraq. Also, Egypt says Iran has asked for permission to allow its warships to pass through the Suez Canal.

It was impossible to verify the accounts, but videos circulated on Facebook showed demonstrators burning a security detention center Wednesday night and hundreds of protesters marching Thursday afternoon on a main road in Benghazi chanting anti-Gadhafi slogans. Protests were also reported in Zentan, Rijban, and Shahat.

The violence in Libya, one of the Arab world's most repressive regimes, has ratcheted up pressure on a dictator whose hold on power had seemed more secure than other leaders in the region just a few days ago. Expatriate human-rights groups and opposition activists had called for demonstrations on Thursday against Col. Gadhafi, amid Arab revolts in neighbor Tunisia and Egypt, and unrest across much of the Arab world.

The violence in Libya is still relatively limited, and a clear picture of the extent of the clashes may not emerge for days, with local media closely circumscribed and foreign reporters all but barred from entering the country. But some analysts had expected Col. Gadhafi to better weather the regional unrest.

Government supporters shout slogans and hold portraits of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during a pro-government gathering in Tripoli on Thursday.
Demonstrators demand the release of a detained human rights campaigners in a rare show of unrest in the eastern city of Benghazi. Video courtesy of Reuters.

Libya has a number of advantages that leaders elsewhere in North Africa don't: A very small population—about 6.5 million—and brimming coffers, thanks to recently high oil prices.

Col. Gadhafi has ruled Libya since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1969, keeping the peace through a heavy-handed security force that tolerates very little dissent. He has also allowed the country's tribal leaders a measure of self-governance, and has been generous doling out oil revenues to win allegiances.

Significant unrest could further shake oil markets, already jittery about deadly protests in Bahrain, in the oil-rich Persian Gulf; unrest in Algeria, another big oil producer; and the revolution in Egypt, through which a large share of global supply passes on its way to world markets.

Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, pumps just under 2 million barrels of oil a day, making it one of the world's largest producers.

"If the situation continues to grow worse and gains more momentum, and the regime loses ground, prices will be impacted," said Riad Kahwaji, at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, a Dubai-based think tank.

Tawfiq Alghazwani, a Dublin-based member of the National Congress of Libyan Opposition, said that during protests this week one protester was killed in central Benghazi and two more in an eastern part of the city. Another death was reported in a village near the capital, Tripoli, he said.

The online edition of the Benghazi-based Quryna newspaper, which is pro-Gadhafi, confirmed two of those deaths, reporting two youths were shot by security forces on Wednesday in the eastern regions of the city. It also said the regional security chief had been fired for his handling of the unrest there, citing security sources.

Benghazi, Libya's second city, with a population of about a million, has long been a hotbed of anti-Gadhafi activism. It has been the site of several crackdowns on dissident, including the execution of a group of young Libyans accused of treason in 1987 and the violent suppression of a riot outside the Italian consulate in 2006.

Human Rights Watch, the U.S.-based group, said it had confirmed the death in central Benghazi and accused Libyan security forces of rounding up activists ahead of demonstrations planned for Thursday, the anniversary of the 1987 and 2006 crackdowns.

A small protest in Benghazi Tuesday night, calling for the release of a human-rights lawyer, flared into an anti-Gadhafi demonstration that was violently ended by police and government supporters, according to local media reports and a human-rights group monitoring the event.

Libyan government spokesman Abdulmajeed Eldursi said Thursday he had seen reports of the four deaths, but couldn't confirm them. He denied security forces used violence.

"There is no use of violence (by the authorities) or anything that is not justified," he said. "When there is a crowd, the security will try to disperse them but there is no excessive use of violence at all."

Mr. Eldursi said Benghazi was quiet Thursday, and that pro-government rallies were taking place across the country.

Thousands of pro-Gadhafi loyalists spent the night camping in tents in the main sports stadium in Benghazi, said Mr. Alghazwani, of the opposition group.
24391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bahrain on: February 17, 2011, 05:32:19 PM
Thread discipline please!  That belongs either in the Egypt thread or the Islam Theocracy thread.

Analyst Kamran Bokhari explains how the sectarian-driven civil unrest in Bahrain could serve as a proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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

After Egypt, Bahrain has become the most significant place where street agitation is taking place in the Middle East. Bahrain is significant because it is the only wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country where we are seeing mass protests and a government crackdown. The country being a proxy battleground for Saudi Arabia and Iran makes it even more significant.

Pro-democracy street agitation is not a stranger to Bahrain. There have been such protests, going as far back as the early 1990s, with the opposition forces demanding that the monarchy make room for a more constitutional framework and a much more democratic polity. So, what is happening is not entirely new. What makes this significant — this latest round of unrest — is that it comes in the context of the overall regional unrest that started in Tunisia and moved to Egypt (in both Tunisia and Egypt we saw the fall of the sitting presidents). What makes this even more significant is that in Bahrain you have a sectarian dynamic; the country is ruled by a Sunni monarchy that presides of an overwhelmingly large Shiite population, estimated to be about 70 percent of the country’s total population.

It’s not just the sectarian dynamic that makes the protests significant in Bahrain. There is also a wider geopolitical contest between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has been going on for several decades and, more recently, since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Since then, Saudi Arabia has been very worried about Iranian attempts to project power across the Persian Gulf into the Arabian Peninsula. And with Bahrain having a heavy Shiite population, this is a cause for concern in Saudi Arabia, as Saudi Arabia is neighbors with Bahrain and has its own 20 percent Shiite population.

From the point of view of the United States, Bahrain is also significant because it is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. The 5th Fleet is one of the key levers that serve as a counter to Iran, or any movement on the part of Iran. It is not clear at this point to what degree Iran is involved in the uprising Bahrain. There are linkages, but to what degree Iran is playing those linkages is not clear at this point. Nonetheless, it is one of those flashpoints between Shiite Iran and the largely Sunni Arab world, and Bahrain is going to be very interesting in terms of how both sides battle it out in the form of a proxy contest.

Should Bahrain succumb to unrest and the monarchy has to concede to the demands of the protesters at some point in the future, this becomes a huge concern for the security of countries like Saudi Arabia, particularly where there is a 20 percent Shiite population that has been keeping quiet for the most part, but could be emboldened, based on what they have seen in Egypt and now what they are looking at in terms of Bahrain.

24392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2 on: February 17, 2011, 03:57:42 PM
Bahrain: A Sunni-Shiite Struggle with Geopolitical Implications

Long-running sectarian strife between Bahrain’s Shiite majority and ruling Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy is the driving force behind civil unrest in Bahrain. Bahrain was the first among Persian Gulf countries to witness significant demonstrations, and protesters clashed with riot police early on. After two days of demonstrations led by Shiite opposition groups, a heavy crackdown was launched on Pearl Square in the heart of Manama late Feb. 16 on mostly Shiite protesters who were camping overnight.

Most of the protesters’ demands initially centered on political reform, the demands of some (though not all) gradually escalated to the removal of the prime minister and then the king. Pearl Square, the focal point of the protests, has been cleared and is being held by Bahraini security forces. (Roughly 90 percent of Bahrain’s security apparatus is Sunni.) Even after this show of force, the potential for further sectarian strife between Shiite protesters and security forces remains, especially as funeral processions are likely to add to the current unrest.

The ruling Sunni family may be a minority in the Shiite-majority country, but some 54 percent of the population is made up of foreign guest workers, who are notably not taking part in the demonstrations. Energized by the crackdown, seven opposition groups, including both Shia and Sunnis, reportedly are forming a committee to unify their position with the aim of getting at least 50,000 people to the streets Feb. 19. Young, enraged men may feel the compulsion to face off against security forces again, but they are unlikely to be able to mobilize enough people to overwhelm the security apparatus.

The al-Khalifa family is no stranger to communal strife, and appears capable of putting down the unrest, but the events of the past few days will make the task of managing the tiny country’s demographic imbalance that much more difficult for the regime.

Sectarian tensions in Bahrain bear close watching, as the country is a significant proxy battleground in the broader geopolitical struggle between Saudi Arabia and the United States on one side and Iran on the other. Bahrain is home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, while for its part, Saudi Arabia fears that a regime turnover to the Shia in Bahrain would encourage the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province to follow suit. Iranian media and STRATFOR Iranian diplomatic sources appear to be making a concerted effort to spread stories of Saudi special operations forces deploying to Bahrain to help crack down on Shiite protesters. Such stories could enable Iran to justify assistance to the Bahraini Shia, particularly to Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group, turning the country into a more overt proxy battleground between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iran may be attempting to amplify the Sunni-Shiite conflict at a time when the United States is already particularly stressed in the region to boost its negotiating position, but Iran is also facing problems of its own at home.

Iran: Standard Operating Procedure

Following the 2009 post-election uprising and subsequent crackdown, Iranian opposition groups are using the unrest in the Arab world to fuel an attempted comeback against the clerical regime. Protests Feb. 14 numbered in the thousands and remained concentrated in Tehran (smaller protests also were reportedly in Esfahan and Shiraz), with embattled opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi encouraging protesters to mobilize. The regime used the deaths of two student protesters to call for the hanging of Mousavi and Karroubi for inciting the unrest that led to the protesters’ deaths. More unrest is expected during the protesters’ funeral processions and on Feb. 18 following Friday prayers, but Iran’s experienced security apparatus and Basij militiamen have resorted to their usual, effective tactics of breaking up the demonstrations and intimidating the opposition.

Poor socio-economic conditions, high youth unemployment (around 26 percent) and disillusionment with the regime are all notable factors in the development of Iran’s opposition movement, but as STRATFOR stressed in 2009, the primarily youth-driven, middle- and upper-class opposition in Tehran is not representative of the wider population, a significant portion of which is supportive of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The more apathetic observers have yet to demonstrate a willingness to put their lives and their families’ lives at risk by opposing the government. Rather than posing an existential threat to the Ahmadinejad government, the Iranian opposition largely remains an irritant to the regime.

Libya: Crowd Control, Gadhafi-Style

Demonstrators in Libya planned a “Day of Rage” on Feb. 17 as a rare show of protest against the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Media coverage in Libya is severely limited, but reports and eyewitness videos trickled out showing deadly clashes between protesters and security forces in the cities of Benghazi and Al Bayda. In Tripoli, meanwhile, footage of Gadhafi blowing kisses and towering above a crowd of his supporters dominated Libyan state television. Violent clashes between protesters and police earlier broke out late Feb. 15 in Benghazi, where demonstrators demanded the release of human rights activist and lawyer Fathi Turbil.

Libya’s youth unemployment is the highest in North Africa, averaging somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. This is compounded by the regime’s gross mismanagement of efforts to develop the non-oil sector economy. Calls for jobs, basic access to services, housing and media and political freedoms have been made by fledgling opposition groups with leaders based abroad, groups that have nudged demonstrators on via social media.

Public demonstrations in a police state like Libya are notable, but the Gadhafi regime is also extremely adept at putting down dissent in the sparsely populated desert country. While the regime will rely on its iron fist to contain the unrest, it has also made limited concessions in releasing Turbil while promising further prison releases. Pro-government demonstrators have been unleashed, subsidies are likely to be doled out, and security forces are cracking down hard while Gadhafi is doing an effective job in making a mockery of the unrest by taking part in his own pro-government demonstrations. Most important, the Gadhafi regime has had success in pardoning and re-integrating members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to guard against the Islamist militant threat and has maintained a close relationship between the army and the country’s main tribes.

The civil unrest in Libya is unlikely to pose a meaningful threat to the regime, but it could impact the country’s ongoing power-struggle between Gadhafi’s two sons. The younger and reform-minded son, Seif al Islam (along with his ally, National Oil Corporation chairman Shukri Ghanem), has been put on the defensive of late by his brother, Motasem, who is Libya’s national security adviser and has the support of many within the political and military old guard. Seif al-Islam has sought to distinguish himself from old guard politics and to build his credibility in the country, even going so far as having his charity organization publish a report on Libyan human rights abuses that harshly criticized the regime. The old guard has since pushed back on Seif al-Islam, but the current unrest could strengthen his case that limited reforms to the system are required for the long-term viability of the Gadhafi regime.

Yemen: No Relief for Sanaa

Even before the current spate of opposition unrest, Yemen already faced immense challenges in creating jobs (youth unemployment is roughly 35 percent and unemployment overall is estimated around 16 percent), developing the economy without the petrodollar cushion its neighbors enjoy, containing a secessionist movement in the south and the al-Houthi rebellion in the north, and fighting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a threat exacerbated by the fact that jihadist sympathizers have penetrated Yemen’s intelligence and security apparatus.

After taking a gamble in recent months in making limited political concessions to the main opposition coalition Joint Meetings Party (JMP) led by the Islamist party Islah, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh now faces daily protests in the capital city of Sanaa and Aden. Over the past month, most of the demonstrations have numbered in the hundreds and on a couple occasions in the low thousands. The protests started out peacefully, but have turned more violent in recent days as protesters and security forces have clashed. (One young protester was reportedly shot dead Feb. 16.)

In attempt to take the steam out of the political opposition, Saleh has announced that he will not run for re-election in 2013, and that he would do away with pending amendments that would have abolished presidential term limits. Those moves helped stymie complaints that Saleh would try to hand the presidency to his eldest son, Ahmed Saleh, who currently commands the Republican Guard, the elite military force that serves as the president’s first line of defense. Saleh has also called on the main opposition parties to form a unity government and has been offering a number of political concessions behind the scenes. Those moves, while making Saleh appear weak and politically vulnerable, appeared to be working Feb. 13, when the JMP announced it would drop out of the demonstrations and resume dialogue with the government. The JMP has since reversed its decision, feeling that there is no better time to pressure Saleh into making concessions than now.

The multitude of threats the Saleh regime faces put Yemen at higher risk than most of the other countries experiencing unrest. Saleh’s ability to survive depends on two key factors: the tribes and the army. Saleh has long been effective at co-opting the country’s main tribes and in keeping the military elite loyal. The army still stands behind the president, but STRATFOR sources in Yemen have indicated that the regime is growing increasingly nervous about tribal loyalties.

The demonstrators on the streets meanwhile remain relatively limited in number. That dynamic could change if the situation further deteriorates and people start recalculating their estimates of Saleh’s ability to survive. Should Saleh become too big of a liability, a contingency plan is in place for Vice President Abd Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, who has been the main interlocutor between the regime and the opposition, to take over. Saleh for now has some staying power, but his grip is showing increasingly serious signs of slipping.

Syria: Maintaining the Iron Fist

Soon after the unrest in Egypt broke out, Syrian opposition youth activists (most of whom are based outside the country) attempted to organize their own “Day of Rage” via social media to challenge the al Assad regime. Like Bahrain, Syria’s ruling elite faces a demographic dilemma: It is an Alawite regime in a Sunni-majority country. Fortunately for the regime, the demonstrations scheduled for Feb. 4-5 in the cities of Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Al-Qamishli quickly fell flat. The demonstrations were sorely lacking in numbers and interest. Even the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, likely reflecting on the violent consequences of the 1982 Hama insurrection, stuck to issuing statements with their demands instead of risking participation in the demonstrations. Syrian plainclothes police promptly harassed the dozen or so who did show up.

Nonetheless, the Syrian regime appears to be taking the threat of regional unrest seriously, and has moved quickly to build up its security presence and dole out subsidies to keep a check on further protest attempts. In a rare interview, Syrian President Bashar al Assad indicated to The Wall Street Journal that he also would implement political and media reforms with an aim to hold municipal elections this year. While social media tools like Facebook have been widely celebrated as the catalyst for revolution, the Syrian case illustrates how such tools act as enablers of the regime. Confident in its ability to put down protests, the Syrian government lifted a five-year ban on Facebook and YouTube in February, thereby facilitating its ability to track any opposition plans in the works.

Though Syria got a scare early on in the wave of Mideast unrest, it appears to have all the tools in place to maintain the regime’s grip on power.

Saudi Arabia: House of Saud is Safe, for Now

Virtually any spark of unrest in the Middle East will turn heads toward Saudi Arabia, where the global price of oil hangs precariously on the stability of the House of Saud. Though feeble opposition groups have called for greater political and press freedoms, no demonstrations have erupted in the oil kingdom. Saudi petrodollars continue to go a long way in keeping the population pacified, and the regime under Saudi King Abdullah in particular has spent recent years engaging in various social reforms that, while limited, are highly notable for Saudi Arabia’s religiously conservative society.

Critically, the House of Saud has had success since 9/11, and particularly since 2004, in co-opting the religious establishment, which has enabled the regime to contain dissent while also keeping tabs on AQAP activity bubbling up from Yemen. The main cause for concern in Saudi Arabia is centered on the succession issue, as the kingdom’s aging leadership will eventually give way to a younger and more fractious group of royals. Saudi Arabia will offer assistance where it can to contain unrest in key neighbors like Bahrain and Yemen, but for now is largely immune from the issues afflicting much of the region.

24393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor Special Report-1 on: February 17, 2011, 03:45:20 PM
Unrest in the Middle East: A Special Report
February 17, 2011 | 1949 GMT

STRATFORRelated Special Topic Page
The Egypt Unrest: Full Coverage
Footage of self-immolations in Algeria, clashes between police and protesters in Yemen and Bahrain, government reshufflings in Jordan and fledgling street demonstrations in Iran could lead to the impression of a domino effect under way in the Middle East in which aging autocrats are on the verge of being uprooted by Tunisia-inspired revolutionary fervor. A careful review of  unrest in the Middle East and North Africa , however, exposes a very different picture.

Many of the protests sprouting up in these countries have a common thread, and that alone is cause for concern for many of the region’s regimes. High youth unemployment, a lack of political representation, repressive police states, a lack of housing and rising commodity prices are among the more common complaints voiced by protesters across the region. Social media has been used both as an organizing tool for protesters and a surveillance enabler by regimes. More generally, the region is witnessing a broad, public reaction to the layers of corruption that have become entrenched around these regimes over the past several decades.

Regime responses to those complaints also have been relatively consistent, including subsidy handouts; changes to the government, in many cases cosmetic; promises of job growth, electoral reform, and a repeal of emergency rule; and in the case of Egypt, Yemen and Algeria, public dismissal of illegitimate succession plans. Anti-regime protesters in many of these countries have faced off with mostly for-hire pro-regime supporters tasked with breaking up the demonstrations, the camel cavalry in Egypt being the most vivid example of this tactic.

(click here to enlarge image)
While the circumstances at first glance appear dire for most of the regimes, each of these states also has unique circumstances. While Tunisia can be considered a largely organic, successful uprising, for most of these states, the regimes retain the tools to suppress dissent, divide the opposition and maintain power. In others, those engaging in the civil unrest are pawns in behind-the-scenes power struggles. In all, the assumed impenetrability of the internal security apparatus and the loyalties and intentions of the army remain decisive factors in determining the direction of the unrest.

Egypt: The Military’s ‘Revolution’

In the past several days Egypt has not witnessed a popular revolution but a carefully managed succession by the military. The demonstrations, numbering around 200,000 to 300,000 at their peak, were genuinely inspired by the regime turnover in Tunisia, pent-up socio-economic frustrations (youth unemployment in Egypt stands out around 25 percent) and extreme disillusionment with former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

It must be recognized that the succession crisis in Egypt was playing out between the country’s military elite and Mubarak well before protests began in Egypt on Jan. 25. The demonstrators, encouraged by both internal and external pro-democracy groups, were in fact a critical tool the military used to maneuver Mubarak out while preserving the regime. So far, the Egyptian military has maintained the appearance of being receptive to opposition demands. Over time, however, the gap between opposition and military elite interests will grow, as the latter works to maintain its clout in the political affairs of the state while also containing a perceived Islamist threat.

Tunisia: Not Over Yet

Though Tunisia had some domestic pro-democracy groups before unrest began in December 2010, Tunisia saw one of the region’s more organic uprisings. Years of frustration with corruption and the political and business monopoly of former President President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime, high youth unemployment (estimated at around 30 percent in the 15-29 age group), and rising commodity prices fueled the unrest. The self-immolation of an educated young man who was trying to sell fruits and vegetables started the unrest, helping break down the fear that Tunisia’s internal security apparatus had maintained for decades.

The ouster of Ben Ali and his family and a reshuffling of the government for now have calmed most of the unrest. A sense of normalcy is gradually returning as Tunisians look ahead to as-yet unscheduled elections due sometime in 2011. Since Tunisia won its independence from France in 1956, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party — which served as Ben Ali’s main political vehicle — has dominated the country. This leaves opposition groups with little to no experience in managing political, much less business affairs. RCD politicians have been quick to seek to disassociate themselves from the Ben Ali name in hopes of retaining their wealth and political clout while the opposition remains unorganized and divided. Unlike Egypt, the Islamist opposition, led by the formerly exiled leadership of the Ennahda party, remains largely marginal. In all likelihood, Tunisia will end up with another government dominated by many of the former Ben Ali elites, albeit with a democratic face.

This creates the potential for another wave of unrest, raising the question of the Tunisian army’s motives. The military dropped its support for Ben Ali less than a month after the uprising began, and only three days after Ben Ali called for the army to maintain order in the streets of the capital. The Tunisian army is likely looking to the Egypt model, in which the military is now standing at the helm and benefiting from a number of political and economic perks as a result. Ultimately, the situation in Tunisia remains in flux, and an army intervention down the line should not be ruled out.

Algeria: The Power Struggle Behind the Protests

Many of the same socioeconomic factors afflicting its North African neighbors like Tunisia and Egypt have fueled Algeria’s protests. (Youth unemployment in Algeria is around 20 percent, and high food prices were causing riots even before the regional unrest began.) Thus far, the major protests have averaged in the hundreds as the internal security apparatus has resorted to increasingly forceful measures to restrict demonstrations in Algiers and to the east in the Kabylie region’s Bejaia province.

Thousands of riot police have been deployed ahead of mass demonstrations planned for Feb. 18 and Feb. 25. The protests are primarily youth-driven, and are being organized through channels like Facebook in defiance of the country’s ban on demonstrations in the capital. The Rally for Culture and Democracy party led by Said Sadi, the National Coordination for Change and Democracy and Algeria’s League for Human Rights have coordinated the protests. Critically, a number of the country’s most powerful trade unions are taking part. The banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) has also reportedly called on Algerians to take part in the march to demand “regime change,” prompting Algerian authorities on Feb. 11 to arrest hardliner FIS second-in-command Ali Belhadj.

While the civil unrest will continue to capture the cameras’ attention, the real struggle in Algeria is not playing out in the streets. A power struggle has long been under way between the country’s increasingly embattled president, Abdel Aziz Bouteflika, and the head of the Military Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DRS), Gen. Mohamed “Toufik” Mediene. After ending a bloody civil war with radical Islamists led by the FIS, Bouteflika came to power in 1999 as a civilian leader. He relied on a combination of accommodation and force to stabilize the country. Widely regarded as the chief power broker in Algerian politics, Mediene has held his post since 1990 and consequently lays claim to a wide network of political, security business and trade union connections. Bouteflika relied heavily on Mediene to both contain the Islamist threat and also to reduce the clout of the army in Algerian politics. The president then started running into serious trouble when he attempted to expand his own influence at the expense of Mediene and his allies.

The power struggle between the two has intensified in recent years, with state-owned energy firm Sonatrach even getting caught in the fray. Bouteflika, age 73, won a third term in 2009 after abolishing Algeria’s two-term limit. His current term is set to expire in 2014. Numerous hints have been dropped that the aging president either would hand power to his younger brother or to the prime minister, plans that Mediene strongly opposes.

Not by coincidence, one of the main organizers of the demonstrations, Saeed Saidi (a Berber) is known to be on excellent terms with Mediene, also a Berber. The call for Berber rights — Berbers make up roughly one-third of the Algerian population — has been one of the leading drivers of the demonstrations thus far. A large portion of Algeria’s majority Arab population, however, has yet to show an interest in taking to the streets in protest against the regime. The country’s powerful trade unions, which have strong political connections and a proven ability to twist Bouteflika’s arm through crippling strikes demanding more limits on foreign investment and better wages, are a critical element to the demonstrations.

Overall, while the roots of Algeria’s civil unrest are like those in Tunisia and Egypt, the youth demonstrators are not the decisive factor in determining the course of events in the country. The timing appears ripe for Mediene to lay pressure on Bouteflika to meet his demands on the coming succession. How far Mediene goes in undercutting (and perhaps attempting to remove Bouteflika) remains to be seen.

The Algerian military must also be watched closely in the coming weeks. Bouteflika has a number of close allies in the military elite to counter Mediene, but there are also a number of disaffected soldiers in lower ranks who have seen the military’s profile decline under Bouteflika’s rule. Bouteflika has attempted to pacify the opposition with subsidies (aided by the current high price of oil) a vow to lift emergency rule by the end of February and promises of (limited) political reforms. But the president is likely to rely more heavily on force against protesters and quiet concessions to trade unions while trying to cope with the bigger threat posed by the country’s intelligence chief.

Morocco: Regime Confident Amid the Strife

Morocco has been quiet during the recent wave of unrest. Though it has yet to experience any mass demonstrations, small protests have occurred and at least four cases of self-immolations have been reported since the first incident in Tunisia on Dec. 17, 2010. Now, however, a recently-created Facebook group known as “Moroccans for Change” has called for a nationwide protest Feb. 20, something the government of King Mohammed VI has responded to by meeting with opposition parties and promising to speed up the pace of economic, social and political reforms.

Just as in Egypt, there are many strands in the Moroccan opposition, from secular pro-democracy groups to Islamists. Those planning the Feb. 20 protests are not seen as having much in common with the Islamist Justice and Development Party or the largest opposition force and main Islamist group in the country, the banned Justice and Charity party — which is believed to have a membership of roughly 200,000. Where Morocco differs from Egypt, however, is in the fact that the opposition is not calling for regime change, but rather a greater say in the political system, i.e., from within the constitutional monarchy.

In one of its main demands, the opposition has called for a new constitution that would strip power from the monarchy and from the network of state and business elites known as the Makhzen. Demands for higher wages and state-subsidized housing are also opposition priorities, along with calls for less police brutality, a common source of animosity toward governments in the Arab world.

In a sign of the Moroccan government’s confidence in managing the situation, the government has given its formal approval to the Feb. 20 protest march. Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri has meanwhile expressed fears that Algeria may seek to take advantage of the current state of upheaval in the Arab world to stir up unrest in Western Sahara, a buffer territory bordering Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania held by rebel group opposed to Moroccan control of the region, known as the Polisario Front. The Polisario Front has long been supported by Algeria, Morocco’s neighbor and rival. Raising the threat of Algerian meddling could also be a way for Morocco to justify a strong security presence in containing potential unrest.

In sum, the planned demonstrations in Morocco are illustrations of opportunism as opposed to a serious potential popular uprising — much less regime change.

Jordan: The Accommodationist Approach

The Jordanian opposition, led by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, was quick to seize on the Tunisian and Egyptian unrest and organize peaceful sit-in demonstrations in their ongoing  push for electoral reform and fresh parliamentary elections . The Hashemite monarchy, however, has had much more experience in accommodating its Islamist opposition. The political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), is allowed political representation, albeit not at a level they deem sufficient. King Abdullah II acted quickly to pre-empt major civil unrest in the country by handing out millions of dollars in subsidies and by forming a new government.

While making concessions, Abdullah has worked to avoid giving in too much to Islamist demands, making clear that there are limits to what he will do. Former general and now Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit heads the new government. His Cabinet, sworn in Feb. 9, includes some figures with an Islamist background. Even though the IAF announced that it would not participate in the new government and called for fresh elections, it also said it would wait before judging the new government’s sincerity about reform plans, and would continue to hold peaceful demonstrations. In other words, the IAF understands its limits and is not attempting a regime overthrow, meaning the situation is very much contained. Meanwhile, opportunistic tribal leaders, who traditionally support the Jordanian regime, recently decided to voice complaints against regime corruption to extract concessions while the situation was still tense. The Jordanian government quickly dealt with the situation through quiet concessions to the main tribal leaders.

24394  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 2/27/11 Guro Crafty in Manhattan Beach on: February 17, 2011, 02:43:21 PM
Woof All:

I am looking forward to covering the stickgrappling-- I don't often do it in seminar.

The Adventure continues!
Guro Crafty
24395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: February 17, 2011, 02:40:10 PM
Looks like Israel is going to be real sorry it didn't finish the job last time and clear Hezbollah out, all the way through the Bekaa Valley  cry
24396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 17, 2011, 02:32:47 PM
So Media Matters or Race on SCH would be a good place for it smiley
24397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: February 17, 2011, 02:25:24 PM
Ummm , , , fun story, but what does it have to do with the subject of this thread?  cheesy
24398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: February 17, 2011, 02:11:55 PM
24399  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: VIDEO CLIPS OF INTEREST on: February 17, 2011, 02:09:06 PM
That's very funny.  Not the most decisive law enforcement I've ever seen  cheesy  Perhaps a Taser which have given the officers some courage, , ,
24400  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: February 17, 2011, 10:10:54 AM

Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny "The Guiding Force", ODB
Eric "Top Dog" Knaus "The Fighting Force", ODB
Arlan "Salty Dog" Sanford "The Silent Force", ODB
Benjamin "Lonely Dog" Rittiner
Mike "Dogzilla" Tibbitts ODB


Alvis "Hound Dog" Solis
Brian "Porn Star Dog" Jungwiwattanattaporn
Bryan "Guide Dog" Stoops
Chris "The Tree That Walks" Poznik
Chris "True Dog" Clifton
Colin "Point Dog" Stewart
Corey "Dog Pound" Davis
Dale "Island Dog" Franks
Dave "Wild Dog" Crosby
Dean "Kaju Dog" Webster
Dennis "Edge Dog" Hall
Ed "Hot Dog" Solomon
Erik "Tennesee Dog" Bryant
Francisco "Frankfurter" Taruc
Fred "Sun Dog" Martinez
Gints "Baltic Dog" Klimanis
Greame "Scotty Dog" Higgins
Greg "Cyborg Dog" Brown
Gregory "Junkyard Dog" Van Zuyen
Ian "Hair of the Dog" Wilde ODB
Ivan "Kuma Dog" Reboli
Jeff "Sleeping Dog" Inman
John "Underdog" Salter
Lester "Surf Dog" Grifin  ODB
Loki "Tricky Dog" Jorgenson
Marcus "Giri Dog" Schillinger
Mark "Mongrel" Balluf  ODB
Mark "Puppy Dog" Sanden ODB
Mark "Shark Dog" Lawson ODB
Mark "Sheepdog" Scott
Marlon "Red Dog" Hoess-Boettger
Mat "Boo Dog" Booe
Mike "Rain Dog" Florimbi
Mike "Scrappy Dog" De Lio
Mike "War Dog" Barredo
Nick "Pappy Dog" Papadakis
Nick "Raw Dog" Sacoulas
Oskar "Spider Dog" Bernal
Philip "Sled Dog" Gelinas ODB
Roan "Poi Dog" Grimm
Steve "Iron Dog" Shelburn
Stefan "Cro Dog" Kostanjevec
Teddy "Tahiti Dog" Moux
Tim "Scurvy Dog" Ferguson
Tinu "3D Dog" Blatter
"Kahuna Dog"
Tom "Howling Dog" Guthire
Burton "Lucky Dog" Richardson


Abu "C-Desert Dog" Dayyeh
Andreas "C-Flexi Dog" Hommel
Brian "C- Ferox Dog" Alagao
Chris "C-Rogue Dog" Smith
Christian "C- Lefty Dog" Eckert
Daniel "C-Hidden Dog" Budar  (alias, "Dog in sheep's clothing")
Dave "C-StrayDog" Rothburg
Detlef "C-Sinatra Dog" Thiem
Dominic "C-Sleazy Dog" Ischer
Gerald "C-Heretic Dog" Boggs
Gerry "C-Celtic Dog" Casey
Heiko "C-Crossover Dog" Zauske
Hugh "C-Irish Dog" Sargeant
James "C-Mako Dog" Kelly
Jerome "C-Frisbee Dog" Challon
Kai "C-Suicide Dog" Schilling
Mamerto "C-Bull Dog" Estepa
Michael "C-Zen Dog" Blake
Milt "C-Devil Dog" Tinkoff
Oli "C-Ghost Dog" Schaer
Peter "C-Grumpy Dog" Fray
Randall "C-Wolf Dog" Gregory
Renato "C-Cerebus" Judalena
Rene "C-Growling Dog" Cocolo
Riccardo "C-Full Metal Dog" Bassani
Rich "C-Hellhound" Raphael
Richard "C-Seeing Eye Dog" Estepa
Roberto "C-Staffy Dog" Cereda
Roger "C-Space Dog" Tinkoff
Russ "C-Bad Dog" Iger
Ryan "C-Guard Dog" Gruhn
Shaun "C-Sneaky Dog" Owens
Stefan "C-Diligent Dog" Ramsauer
Thomas "C-Sword Dog" Rickert
Tom "C-Howling Dog" Guthire
Tomek "C-Tank Dog" Jurkiewicz
Thorsten "C-Lena Dog" Picker
Torben "C-Old Dog" Lorenian
Tyler "C-Dirty Dog" Morin
Mark "C-Fu Dog" Houston
Mark "C-Beowulf" Houston


"Dog" Andrew Flores
"Dog" Axel Datschun
"Dog" Benjamin Schlieper
"Dog" Bryan Lorentzen
"Dog" Chris Hawker
"Dog" Chris Schultz
"Dog" Chuck Blanchard
"Dog" D.A.
"Dog" Dan Farley
"Dog" Danny Suarez
"Dog" David Lowndes
"Dog" Davide Musi
"Dog" Fabian Tillmanns
"Dog" Federico Corriente
"Dog" Filippo Pani
"Dog" Gabriele Cortonesi
"Dog" Greg Moody
"Dog" Ishmael Solis
"Dog" Ivan Pirozhkov
"Dog" James Macdonald
"Dog" Jay Cosby
"Dog" Jeremy Lowen
"Dog" Jiri Söderblom
"Dog" Kai Schwahn
"Dog" Kai Spintig
"Dog" Kase Wright
"Dog" Kostas Tountas
"Dog" Lars Christie
"Dog" Lorenz Glaza
"Dog" Ludo Bachy
"Dog" Manfred Schilka
"Dog" Mark Smith dec.
"Dog" Matt Tucker
"Dog" Mauricio Sanchez
"Dog" Meynard Ancheta
"Dog" Mick Smith
"Dog" Michele Gemini
"Dog" Miguel DeCoste
"Dog" Miguel Lopez
"Dog" Miguel Velez
"Dog" Mike Norrell
"Dog" Mo Estepa
"Dog" Odin
"Dog" Ole Fredricksen
"Dog" Ole Leinz
"Dog" Oliver Zaum
"Dog" Pawel Imiela
"Dog" Ray Wilson
"Dog" Rodolfo Manzano Diaz
"Dog" Rodney Libramonte
"Dog" Sebastian Ehlen
"Dog" Shanu Singh
"Dog" Sigi Fischer
"Dog" Simon Hehl
"Dog" Simon Godsland
"Dog" Steve Gruhn
"Dog" Thomas Britschgi
"Dog" Tom Perruso
"Dog" Tom Stillman
"Dog" Tony Caruso
"Dog" Tony Fernandez
"Dog" Troy Hodges
"Dog" Vitaliano Sestito
"Dog" Will Dixon
"Dog" Wieslaw Hapke

Cat Sisters

Linda "Black Cat"
Linda "Bitch" Matsumi
Lynn "C-Psycho Bitch" Brown
"Cat" Heather Kerr
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