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24351  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo 4: The Dog Leg Game on: March 21, 2010, 11:32:14 PM
Amongst the DLO criteria:

a) As you mention, 360 degree awareness
b) Preventing his weapon access, and enabling yours
c) "consistency across categories" responses to empty hands and contact weapons are essentially the same
d) etc
24352  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: March 21, 2010, 11:29:30 PM
First shipment of orders went out on Saturday.   grin
24353  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Reality oriented training in Atlanta? on: March 21, 2010, 11:20:59 PM
An internet friend writes:
================
Okay - then here is my question.  I have no hand-to-hand combat training.  I live in Atlanta and want to get it.  I don't have lots of financial resources or time to be traveling to southern CA and plant myself there to train with you and the Dog Brothers as I would like to do.  What do you recommend? 

To the extent that you can recommend a specific school or instructor, I would greatly appreciate that. 

My goal is to be able to defend myself in a fight with armed attackers should that become necessary.  I think my gun skills are pretty decent, but all the grappling and other stuff you and Gabe talk about in the DLO series, while highly desirable skill sets, are of course impossible to learn just by watching.
================

Any suggestions?

TIA,
CRAFTY DOG
24354  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: March 21, 2010, 07:10:05 PM
Yes.  While out in Moreno Valley yesterday for my "Kali Tudo" seminar, I was able to check out the Temecula option.  It is a go.

I also have "The Tree that Walks" brainstorming his vast databank of memories for little hidey spots up in the hills of Palos Verdes (10-20 minutes south of my house in the South Bay-- which is 10 miles south of LAX.

As was always the case, the thing to do is fly in to LAX.
24355  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / My first hill workout on: March 21, 2010, 03:20:06 PM
This was of part of my first hill routine.

http://www.youtube.com/user/DBMAVIDS?feature=mhw4#p/a/u/0/pD7QO0m9hKc

Today I did the same, but worked up to 35lbs.
24356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: March 20, 2010, 08:46:35 AM
CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico—This violent border city is turning into a ghost town.

Bloodshed from Mexico's warring drug cartels has sent those with means fleeing this former boomtown. Restaurants have moved north to Texas. The dentists who served Americans with their cheap procedures have taken their equipment south. Even the music is dying here.



Jerome Sessini for The Wall Street Journal
 
Some 400,000 residents have fled Juárez after two years of drug-related killings, bringing desolation to downtown, seen in December, and beyond.
."The musicians haven't left yet, but they do their shows in El Paso now," says Alfonso Quiñones, a Juárez concert promoter who is trying to organize a jazz festival in the city.

No solid number exists for the exodus, a matter of debate among Juárez's leaders. But the city's planning department estimates 116,000 homes are now abandoned. Measured against the average household size of the last census, the population who inhabited the empty homes alone could be as high as 400,000 people, representing one-third of the city before the violence began.

That would mark one of Mexico's largest single exoduses in decades.

"The problem is that we don't have the rule of law here," says Lucinda Vargas, an economist who runs a civic group called Plan Estratégico de Juárez.

Juárez finds itself in the crossfire between two rival drug gangs, the local Juárez cartel and the powerful Sinaloa cartel, both of whom want to control the city to smuggle drugs into the U.S., the world's biggest drug-consuming market, and capture a lucrative and growing local drug market.

In 2008, roughly 1,600 people were killed here, up from a few hundred annually in previous years. President Felipe Calderón decided to send federal police and some 7,000 troops to quell the dispute. The move hasn't worked: Last year, the death toll reached 2,600 people, making it Mexico's most violent city. There have been an estimated 500 homicides this year.

The latest high-profile blow to the city came on March 13, when three people associated with the U.S. Consulate in Juárez were gunned down in an incident that drew outrage from presidents on both side of the border.

Juárez isn't alone in its troubles with drug gangs, which operate with near complete impunity in much of northern and western Mexico. On Friday, residents of Mexico's northern business capital, Monterrey, awoke to nightmarish traffic after heavily armed men believed to be linked to drug gangs commandeered several trucks and buses and used them to block eight strategic traffic points around the city.

Juárez's gradual emptying has been hastened and deepened by a recession in a border economy that is hogtied to that of the U.S.

Just 2½ years ago, Juárez was one of Mexico's engines of growth, a magnet of manufacturing with an easy entry point into the U.S. The North American Free Trade Agreement had helped to expand Juárez into the base for assembly plants that accepted parts for everything from consumer electronics to plush toys, and shipped the finished products back to America tariff-free.

Since 2005, 10,600 businesses—roughly 40% of Juárez's businesses—have closed their doors, according to the country's group representing local chambers of commerce.

Ciudad Juárez's new reality is told on its empty streets. Along residential block in a subdivision called Villas de Salvarcar, hardly a home appears left occupied.

"I don't know when they left," said a woman selling clothes in a garage sale for her few remaining neighbors. She declined to give her name, simply pointing to the block behind her where 15 teenagers were killed on Jan. 31 while they watched a football game. The massacre was a case of mistaken identity: Drug gangs had been targeting another party, authorities later said.

Down the street, the bloodstained walls of the home had been washed clean a few days ago, residents said. But bullet holes remained in the walls and neighbors nervously kicked at the dirt as a police car, permanently stationed along the block, rolled by.

The rising towers of El Paso, visible from downtown Juárez, offer a stark contrast along with a promise of security just across the border bridge. Among those with a home in El Paso is Juárez's mayor, José Reyes Ferriz. Mr. Reyes uses the home only for his work as an attorney on the other side of the border, his spokesman said. But he added: "It's very common to have a [second] house in El Paso."

Guillermo Marcedo, 70 years old, keeps to one side of the border. Born in Juárez, he now drives a taxi in El Paso. Like many of his colleagues, he will rarely take clients to Mexico, fearing an attack.

Having arrived in the 1990s when the border had been quiet, Mr. Marcedo has moved as many relatives as he can into the U.S. "I had to think of my family," he says from behind the wheel on a recent day. Two weeks ago, the last member of his immediate circle, a son who works as a psychologist for the Juárez government, received permission from the U.S. to make the move.

Not all who want to leave, especially the poor, have been so lucky. With bank loans more difficult to get and mortgage interest rates high, the Texas town has fallen out of reach for even some well-heeled Mexicans.

"A lot of them do not have established credit [because] they had no intention of ever living here," says Sandie Leal, an El Paso real-estate agent who recently struggled to cobble together bank statements and other documents for a Mexican client. The client was offered an interest rate of 9%, Ms. Leal says, which he turned down, but has opted to rent in the city.

Whether they rent or buy across the border, much of the town's middle class has left it, says Oscar Cantú, publisher of the local newspaper El Norte. Two weeks ago he sent reporters knocking door-to-door in the town's wealthy neighborhoods, and says they turned up roughly 3,000 empty homes. "There was a lot of speculation about how many people had gone—we counted," he said.

In one such subdivision, residents had scrawled graffiti, pleading with the government for help. "Defend us, I want to live," says one. "We had been the hope, the light," reads another. "Don't lie to us, Calderón."

It remains to be seen when—if ever—Juárez's departed residents return. Ms. Vargas, the economist, expects many will cross back from El Paso when the drug situation calms and the economy picks up. "They're waiting it out," she says.

But for his part, Mr. Marcedo, the driver, says he intends to die in the United States.

Write to Nicholas Casey at nicholas.casey@wsj.com
24357  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: March 20, 2010, 07:52:17 AM
KABUL, Afghanistan — The tribal elders had traveled many hours to reach a windswept Afghan military base on the capital’s outskirts to sign their names to a piece of paper allowing them to bring their countrymen home from American detention.

As an Afghan general read the document aloud, Cmdr. Dawood Zazai, a towering Pashtun tribal leader from Paktia Province who fought the Soviets, thumped his crutch for attention. Along with other elders, he did not like a clause in the document that said the detainees had been reasonably held based on intelligence.

“I cannot sign this,” Commander Zazai said, thumping his crutch again. “I don’t know what that intelligence said; we did not see that intelligence. It is right that we are illiterate, but we are not blind.

“Who proved that these men were guilty?”

No one answered because Commander Zazai had just touched on the crux of the legal debate that has raged for nearly a decade in the United States: Does the United States have the legal right to hold, indefinitely without charge or trial, people captured on the battlefield? His question also exposed a fundamental disagreement between the Afghans and the American military about whether people had been fairly detained.

This is the latest chapter in America’s tortuous effort to repair the damage done over the last nine years by a troubled, overcrowded detention system that often produced more insurgents rather than reforming them. The problems were similar in the huge sweeps of suspected insurgents in Iraq.

Now, in Afghanistan, detainees who are deemed not to be a threat are handed over to local elders on the understanding that it is the community’s responsibility to ensure that they stay on the right side of the law.

The releases that took place at a recent ceremony at the 201st Afghan Army Corps headquarters, as well as the release or assignment to Afghan detention of 70 to 80 detainees earlier this year, are part of a new effort to free detainees who are no longer thought to be an imminent threat to the government of Afghanistan or the international forces.

Under the program, recently overhauled by Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward and Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, a Harvard-trained lawyer with the army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, there is now an automatic administrative review devised to speed the release process, and for the first time it allows detainees to make a case for their release.

Once the review board has approved a release, the Afghan military, in conjunction with the Americans, asks the detainee to sign a pledge to stay away from the insurgency, from the Taliban and from Al Qaeda. The elders are asked to sign a similar pledge that they will help them. Similar programs have been used with considerable success in Iraq, and the new one in Afghanistan builds on that experience.

There are now about 800 detainees at the American-run Detention Facility in Parwan, the new detention center that opened at the end of 2009 to replace the notorious holding facility at Bagram Air Base, which is associated with abuses that resulted in the deaths of at least two detainees. The vast majority of detainees are Afghans, but about 32 are foreigners, according to a senior American officer.

The American plan is to hand control of the detention center to the Afghan Ministry of Defense by January 2011, but Americans will still be deeply involved in the detention operations. In the coming months, the Americans hope to use the review process to release as many detainees as possible if they are deemed no longer a threat and to transfer to Afghan custody those who can be tried for crimes under Afghan law.

But as the recent ceremony showed, beyond the cake and fruit and formal speeches lies a reservoir of resentment about how the United States has handled detentions since 2001.

In interviews, former detainees and their families said the Americans were routinely misled by informants who either had personal grudges against them or were paid by others to give information to the Americans that would put the person in jail.

In addition, many Afghans have experienced the detentions as humiliating, and found almost unbearable the depths of poverty borne by their families during their internment.

“The information you had about these men was wrong in the first place,” said Hajji Azizullah, 54, a leader of the Andar tribe in Ghazni, who had come to sign for two detainees. “We are confident they were not involved with insurgents. If they were, we wouldn’t be here to sign for them.”

One detainee, Pacha Khan, 29, an illiterate bread baker from Kunar Province, said he was still puzzled about why he had been detained in the first place, let alone held for three years. “I was innocent,” he insisted. “Spies took money and sold me to the Americans. The Americans treated us very well, but as you know, jail is a big thing — to be away from your family, your relatives.”

His brother, Gul Ahmed Dindar, was less forgiving. He had to support his brother’s family of eight children and a wife on the meager salary of a local police officer. “They were about to sell their children,” he said. “They had very little to live on. They sold their one goat, their one sheep and their cow. Then they sold the furniture — it was not much. They have had a very tough life.”

Admiral Harward insisted that the American intelligence was good and that these were insurgents, but on hearing the elders’ protests about signing a document that made it sound as if the tribal leaders agreed with the American view, he offered to change the language to say that in the eyes of American forces these detainees were insurgents. The elders nodded their assent. The new language will be used on future sponsor forms. “We learn something every time we do this,” Admiral Harward said.

The Afghan military made its own effort to solve the problem when it heard the elders’ protests, by simply writing in the word “no” in front of the phrase saying the detainee had a “link to the insurgency.” The version the elders signed said the detainee had “no link.”

In the shifting shadows of this often invisible war, where no one is sure who is lying and who is telling the truth, it seemed a reasonable way to resolve the day’s discord.
24358  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: March 20, 2010, 07:32:32 AM
May I suggest that a discussion of these would fit better on "The Way Forward for the American Creed" thread?
24359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 20, 2010, 07:30:26 AM
Much remains to be seen with regard to Ryan on foreign affairs, social issues, and preparation to run the Executive branch of govt.
24360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: March 20, 2010, 07:28:52 AM
All:

Interesting post Freki.

Please ask about this on our SCH forum threads "American History" and/or "Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional law etc)"

TIA,
Marc
24361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Faceoff in Moscow on: March 20, 2010, 07:26:29 AM
A Russian-American Faceoff in Moscow
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON arrived in Moscow on Thursday for the latest session of the Middle East Quartet, which comprises Russia, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations. The main topics for the meeting, which is scheduled to begin on Friday and last through the weekend, include Iran and reviving peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. In addition to this multilateral session, there will also be several bilateral meetings held on the sidelines. STRATFOR is particularly interested in one of these sideline meetings; it was announced at the last minute, and will be held between Clinton and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Clinton and Putin have plenty to talk about at the moment. As representatives of two of the world’s most powerful countries, it is only natural that Russia and the United States would brush up on each other and share competing goals and interests. But current geopolitical circumstances have put Moscow and Washington not only within each other’s field of vision, but also practically in each other’s face. And this goes beyond the oft-delayed Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) talks, and is only tangentially related to the Israelis and Palestinians.

“The United States, even with the many pressing issues it is dealing with, has not completely shied away from playing in Russia’s near abroad.”
With the United States embroiled in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cautiously seeing its way through a shaky economic recovery, Washington’s attention has largely been focused on its immediate problems at hand. This has given Russia an opportunity to build up levers in its near abroad over the past few years, and allowed it to regain much of the influence it lost in the aftermath of the Cold War, particularly in the former Soviet states. Russia has not only resurged in places like Ukraine, Georgia and Kazakhstan, it has leveraged its strengthened position in its own neighborhood to support key players that are thorns in Washington’s side, and serve to distract the United States even further, especially when it comes to Iran.

This support comes in many forms, from threatening to sell missile defense systems to Iran, to hobbling the “crippling” sanctions that Israel has demanded the United States enact over Iran’s nuclear program. The support also includes the nuclear program itself, with Russia assisting Iran in the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant. It has been publicly stated that the plant is meant only for peaceful purposes, but it is inherently provocative given Iran’s refusal to make its nuclear operations transparent.

But the United States, even with the many pressing issues it is dealing with, has not completely shied away from playing in Russia’s near abroad. Washington has adamantly refused to turn away support for pro-Western countries like Georgia, and is currently participating in NATO air exercises over the Baltic countries in a show of solidarity with these small countries who are growing increasingly nervous over Russia’s next move. These crucial countries are next on Moscow’s list of states it is attempting to pull back into its sphere of influence. And with these countries, Washington has simply refused to budge.

It is perhaps no coincidence that one day after these exercises began — and on the very day that Clinton landed in Moscow — Russia let loose a barrage of rhetoric in support for Iran. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin took the opportunity to call for strengthening ties with Iran in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart. Putin then upped the ante when he said that the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which has long been set for completion, but which never can seem to get finished due to technical (though really political) reasons, will be completed and become operational this summer. While many statements have been made about Bushehr finishing “soon” or “late this year,” previous such statements were not made by Putin himself, and the timetable was never this specific or early. Clinton immediately responded to Putin’s statement, urging that the launch of the plant be delayed until Tehran proves it is not pursuing nuclear weapons; in other words, indefinitely.

And this sets the stage for Clinton’s meeting with Putin. Clearly, the two will not be going into their meeting on friendly turf. Even if there is a breakthrough in the START talks, and the reset button is pushed a thousand times, Russia and the United States will remain in a tense standoff. Both countries are making demands on one another and not backing down, and both are acting as if they do not need to back down to achieve their goals. The latter, of course, is far from the truth. Whether and how they will budge, and on what issues, will help determine everything including START, the Israeli-Palestinian talks and really strategic issues like Iran.
24362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: March 19, 2010, 01:08:19 PM
Ryan has been impressing me.
24363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: March 19, 2010, 01:06:25 PM
Thoughts?

Doomed From the Start?


by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, LewRockwell.com

After spending a lifetime in politics John C. Calhoun (U.S. Senator, Vice President of the United States, Secretary of War) wrote his brilliant treatise, A Disquisition on Government, which was published posthumously shortly after his death in 1850. In it Calhoun warned that it is an error to believe that a written constitution alone is “sufficient, of itself, without the aid of any organism except such as is necessary to separate its several departments, and render them independent of each other to counteract the tendency of the numerical majority to oppression and abuse of power” (p. 26). The separation of powers is fine as far as it goes, in other words, but it would never be a sufficient defense against governmental tyranny, said Calhoun.

Moreover, it is a “great mistake,” Calhoun wrote, to suppose that “the mere insertion of provisions to restrict and limit the powers of the government, without investing those for whose protection they are inserted, with the means of enforcing their observance, will be sufficient to prevent the major and dominant party from abusing its powers” (emphasis added). The party “in possession of the government” will always be opposed to any and all restrictions on its powers. They “will have no need of these restrictions” and “would come, in time, to regard these limitations as unnecessary and improper restraints and endeavor to elude them . . .”

The “part in favor of the restrictions” (i.e., strict constructionists) would inevitably be overpowered. It is sheer folly, Calhoun argued, to suppose that “the party in possession of the ballot box and the physical force of the country, could be successfully resisted by an appeal to reason, truth, justice, or the obligations imposed by the constitution” (emphasis added). He predicted that “the restrictions [of government power in the Constitution] would ultimately be annulled, and the government be converted into one of unlimited powers.” He was right, of course.

This is a classic statement of the Jeffersonian states’ rights position. The people of the free, independent and sovereign states must be empowered with the rights of nullification and secession, and a concurrent majority with veto power over unconstitutional federal laws, if their constitutional liberties are to have any chance of protection, Calhoun believed. The federal government itself can never, ever be trusted to limit its own powers.

How did Calhoun come to such conclusions? One answer to this question is that he was a serious student of politics, history, and political philosophy for his entire life, and understood the nature of government as much as anyone else alive during his time. He also witnessed first hand or quickly learned about the machinations of the sworn enemies of limited constitutional government in America: men such as Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, John Marshall, Joseph Story and Daniel Webster.

The Founding Fathers of Constitutional Subversion

America’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, did a much better job of limiting the tyrannical proclivities of government than the U.S. Constitution ever did, and it did so while permitting enough governmental power to field an army that defeated the British Empire. The limits on government that the Articles contained outraged the advocates of unlimited governmental powers, such as Alexander Hamilton, which is why the “Perpetual Union” that was created by the Articles was abolished as all the states peacefully seceded from that union


The constitutional convention was Hamilton’s idea as much as anyone’s. Upon arriving at the convention Hamilton laid out the plan of his fellow nationalists: a permanent president or king, who would appoint all governors, who would have veto power over all state legislation. This monopoly government would then impose on the entire nation a British-style mercantilist empire without Great Britain, complete with massive corporate welfare subsidies, a large public debt, protectionist tariffs, and a central bank modeled after the Bank of England that would inflate the currency to finance the empire.

Hamilton did not get his way, of course, thanks to the Jeffersonians. When the Constitution was finally ratified, creating a federal instead of a national or monopolistic, monarchical government, Hamilton denounced the document as “a frail and worthless fabric.” He and his Federalist/nationalist colleagues immediately went to work destroying the limits on government contained in the Constitution. He invented the notion of “implied powers” of the Constitution, which allowed him and his political heirs to argue that the Constitution is not a set of limitations on governmental powers, as Jefferson believed it was, but rather a potential stamp of approval on anything the government ever wanted to do as long as it is “properly” interpreted by clever, statist lawyers like Alexander Hamilton or John Marshall. Hamilton “set out to remold the Constitution into an instrument of national supremacy,” wrote Clinton Rossiter in Alexander Hamilton and the Constitution.

One of the first subversive things Hamilton did was to rewrite the history of the American founding by saying in a public speech on June 29 1787, that the states were merely “artificial beings” and were never sovereign. The “nation,” not the states, was sovereign, he said. And he said this while the constitutional convention was busy crafting Article 7 of the Constitution, which holds that the Constitution would become the law of the land only when nine of the thirteen free and independent states ratified it. The states were to ratify the Constitution because, as everyone knew, they were sovereign and were delegating a few express powers to the central government for their mutual benefit.

It was Hamilton who first invented the expansive interpretations of the General Welfare and Commerce Clauses of the Constitution, which have been used for generations to grant totalitarian powers to the central state. He literally set the template for the destruction of constitutional liberty in America the moment it became apparent at the constitutional convention that he and his fellow nationalists would not get their way and create a “monarchy bottomed on corruption,” as Thomas Jefferson described the Hamiltonian system.

Hamilton’s devoted disciple, John Marshall, was appointed chief justice of the United States in 1801 and served in that post for more than three decades. His career was a crusade to rewrite the Constitution so that it would become a nationalist document that destroyed states’ rights and most other limitations on the powers of the centralized state. He essentially declared in Marbury vs. Madison that he, John Marshall, would be the arbiter of constitutionality via “judicial review.” The Jeffersonians, meanwhile, had always warned that if they day ever came when the federal government became the sole arbiter of the limits of its own powers, it would soon declare that there were, in fact, no limits on its powers. This of course is what the anti-Jeffersonians wanted – and what has happened.

In the case of Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee Marshall invented out of thin air the notion that the federal government had the “right” to veto state court decisions. Marshall also made up the theory that the so-called Supremacy Clause of the Constitution makes the federal government “supreme” in all matters. This is false: The federal government is only “supreme” with regard to those powers that were expressly delegated to it by the free and independent states, in Article 1, Section 8.

Marshall also repeated Hamilton’s bogus theory of the American founding, claiming that the “nation” somehow created the states. He amazingly argued that the federal government was somehow created by “the whole people” and not the citizens of the states through state political conventions, as was actually the case. In the name of “the people,” Marshall said, the federal government claimed the right to “legitimately control all individuals or governments within the American territory” (Edward S. Corwin, John Marshall and the Constitution, p. 131).

All of the Hamilton/Marshall nonsense about the founders having created a monopolistic, monarchical government and having abolished states rights or federalism was repeated for decades by the likes of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story and Daniel Webster. Story was “the most Hamiltonian of judges,” wrote Clinton Rossiter. His famous book, Commentaries on the Constitution, published in 1833, could have been entitled “Commentaries on Alexander Hamilton’s Commentaries on the Constitution,” says Rossiter. He “construed the powers of Congress liberally,” i.e., meaning there were virtually no limits to such powers; and “upheld the supremacy of the nation,” i.e., of monopolistic, monarchical, and unconstitutional government. Stories Commentaries provided a political roadmap for “the legal profession’s elite or at least among the part of it educated in the North during the middle years of the nineteenth century,” wrote Rossiter.

Story’s “famous” Commentaries are filled with phony history and illogic. On the Articles of Confederation, he wrote that “It is heresy to maintain, that a party to a compact has a right to revoke that compact.” But of course the Articles were revoked!

Secession of a single state would mean “dissolution of the government,” Story wrote. Nonsense. After eleven Southern states seceded in 1860–61 the U.S. government proceeded to field the largest and best-equipped army in the history of the world up to that point. It was hardly “dissolved.”

In a classic of doubletalk, Story admitted that “The original compact of society . . . in no instance . . . has ever been formally expressed at the first institution of a state.” That is, there was never any agreement by the citizens of any state to always and forever be obedient to those who would enforce what they proclaim to be “the general will.” Nevertheless, said Story, “every part should pay obedience to the will of the whole.” And who is to define “the will of the whole”? Why, nationalist Supreme Court justices like Joseph Story and John Marshall, of course.

Story admitted that social contract theories of “voluntary” state formation were mere theoretical fantasies. He also held the rather creepy and totalitarian, if not barbarian view that “The majority must have a right to accomplish that object by the means, which they deem adequate for the end . . . . The will of the majority of the people is absolute and sovereign, limited only by its means and power to make its will effectual.”

What Story is saying here is not that there should be a national plebescite on all policy issues that can express the “will of the majority.” No, as with Hamilton he adopted the French Jacobin philosophy that such a “will” was possessed in the minds of the ruling class, and that that class (the Storys, Hamiltons, Marshalls, etc.) somehow possessed “absolute” power as long as it has the military means to “make its will effectual.” Here we have the theoretical basis for Abe Lincoln’s waging of total war on his own citizens.

Contrary to the political truths expressed by Calhoun which have all proven to be true, by the way Story expressed the elementary-schoolish view that the appropriate response to governmental oppression should be only via “the proper tribunals constituted by the government” which would supposedly “appeal to the good sense, and integrity, and justice of the majority of the people.” Trust the politicians and lifetime-appointed federal judges to enforce their view of “justice,” in other words. That hasn’t really worked out during the succeeding 170 years.

Story also repeated John Marshall’s fable that the Supremacy Clause created a monopolistic government in Washington, D.C. and effectively abolished states’ rights, along with the equally ridiculous myth that the Constitution was magically ratified by “the whole people” (presumably not counting women, who could not vote, or slaves and free blacks).

Another famous and influential subverter of the Constitution was Daniel Webster, who repeated many of these same nationalist fables during his famous U.S. Senate debate with South Carolina’s Robert Hayne in January of 1830. This is a debate that Hayne clearly won according to their congressional colleagues, and the media of the day, although nationalist historians (a.k.a., distorians) have claimed otherwise.

The first Big Lie that Webster told was that “the Constitution of the United States confers on the government itself . . . the power of deciding ultimately and conclusively upon the extent of its own authority.” No, it does not. John Marshall may have wished that it did when he invented judicial review, but the document itself says no such thing. As Senator John Taylor once said, “The Constitution never could have designed to destroy [liberty], by investing five or six men, installed for life, with a power of regulating the constitutional rights of all political departments.”

Webster then presented a totally false scenario: “One of two things is true: either the laws of the Union are beyond the discretion and beyond the control of the States; or else we have no constitution of general government . . .” Huh? All the laws? Are the people to have no say whatsoever about laws they believe are clearly constitutional? Apparently so, said Daniel Webster.

The a-historical fairy tale about the Constitution being somehow ratified by “the whole people” was repeated over and over by Webster. His strategy was apparently to convince his audience not by historical facts but by repetition and bluster. “The Constitution creates a popular government, erected by the people . . . it is not a creature of the state governments,” he bellowed. Anyone who has ever read Article 7 of the U.S. Constitution knows that this is utterly false.

In fine French Jacobin fashion, Webster asked, “Who shall interpret their [the peoples’] will? Why “the government itself,” he said. Not through popular votes, mind you, but through the orders, mandates, and dictates of “the government itself.” The people themselves were to have nothing to do with “interpreting” their own “will.”

Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution clearly defines treason under the constitution: “Treason against the United States shall consist in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Thus, treason means levying war against “them,” the sovereign states. This is why Lincoln’s invasion of the Southern states was the very definition of treasonous behavior under the Constitution. Had the North lost the war, he could have been justifiably hanged.

Webster attempted to re-define treason under the Constitution by claiming that “To resist by force the execution of a [federal] law, generally, is treason.” Thus, if the federal government were to invade a sovereign state to enforce one of its laws, a clearly treasonous act under the plain language of the Constitution, resistance to the invasion is what constitutes treason according to Webster. He defined treason, in other words, to mean exactly the opposite of what it actually means in the Constitution.

Then there is the elementary-schoolish faith in democracy as the only necessary defense against governmental tyranny: “Trust in the efficacy of frequent elections,” “trust in the judicial power.” Well, we tried that for decades and decades, Daniel, and it didn’t work.

All of these false histories and logical fallacies were repeated by other nationalist politicians for decades. This includes Abraham Lincoln, who probably lifted his famous line in The Gettysburg Address from this statement by Webster during his debate with Hayne: “It is, Sir, the people’s Constitution, the people’s government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people. The people of the United States have declared that this Constitution shall be the supreme law.” Of course, they did not.

As Lord Pete Bauer once said in commenting on the rhetoric of communism, whenever one hears of “the people’s republic” the “peoples’ government,” etc., it is a sure bet that the people have nothing whatsoever to do with, or control over that government.

Hamilton, Marshall, Webster, Story, and other nationalists kept up their rhetorical fog-horning for decades, trying to convince Americans that the founding fathers did, after all, adopt Hamilton’s plan of a dictatorial executive that abolished states rights and was devoted to building a mercantilist empire in America that would rival the British empire. But their rhetoric had little or no success during their lifetimes.

New Englanders plotted to secede for a decade after Thomas Jefferson was elected president in 1800; all states, North and South, made use of the Jeffersonian, states’ rights doctrine of nullification to oppose the Fugitive Slave Act, protectionist tariffs, the antics of the Bank of the United States, and other issues up until the 1860s. There was a secession movement in the Mid-Atlantic states in the 1850s, and in 1861 the majority of Northern newspaper editorialists were in support of peaceful secession (see Northern Editorials on Secession by Howard Perkins).


The false, nationalist theory of the American founding was repeated by Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address (and praised decades later by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, wherein Hitler mad his case for abolishing states’ rights and centralizing all political power in Germany). In the same speech Lincoln threatened “invasion” and “bloodshed” (his words) in any state that failed to collect the newly-doubled federal tariff tax. He then followed through with his threat.

The only group of Americans to ever seriously challenge this false nationalist theory, Southern secessionists, were mass murdered by the hundreds of thousands, including some 50,000 civilians according to James McPherson; their cities and towns were bombed and burned to the ground, tens of millions of dollars of private property was plundered by the U.S. Army; Southern women, white and black, were raped; and total war was waged on the civilian population. This is what finally cemented into place the false, Hamiltonian/nationalist theory of the American founding, for the victors always get to write the history in war. Government of the people, by the people, for the people, is “limited only” by the state’s “power to make its will effectual,” as Joseph Story proclaimed. The technology of mass murder in the hands of the state finally made this will “effectual” in the first half of the 1860s. Americans have been mis-educated and misinformed about their own political history ever since. It is this mis-education, this false theory of history, that serves to prop up the Hamiltonian empire that Americans now slave under.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America. His latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
24364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jon Stewart on: March 19, 2010, 11:59:24 AM
Jon Stewart in fine form:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-march-17-2010/in-dodd-we-trust
24365  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: March 19, 2010, 10:27:51 AM
Grateful to have my wife join me for part of yesterday's 6 miles with 40 pounds session.
24366  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: March 19, 2010, 12:42:09 AM
Woof Tim:

Good to hear from you.  Good conversation--  May I ask you post in in The Bolo Game thread?

Thank you!
24367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Texas and Thomas Jefferson on: March 18, 2010, 10:30:44 PM
http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/texas-removes-thomas-jefferson-from-teaching-standard/19397481

March 12) -- Widely regarded as one of the most important of all the founding fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson received a demotion of sorts Friday thanks to the Texas Board of Education.

The board voted to enact new teaching standards for history and social studies that will alter which material gets included in school textbooks. It decided to drop Jefferson from a world history section devoted to great political thinkers.

According to Texas Freedom Network, a group that opposes many of the changes put in place by the Board of Education, the original curriculum asked students to "explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present."

 
AP
The Texas Board of Education is dropping President Thomas Jefferson from a world history section devoted to great political thinkers.
That emphasis did not sit well with board member Cynthia Dunbar, who, during Friday's meeting, explained the rationale for changing it. "The Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based," Dunbar said.

The new standard, passed at the meeting in a 10-5 vote, now reads, "Explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone."

By dropping mention of revolution, and substituting figures such as Aquinas and Calvin for Jefferson, Texas Freedom Network argues, the board had chosen to embrace religious teachings over those of Jefferson, the man who coined the phrase "separation between church and state."

According to USA Today, the board also voted to strike the word "democratic" from references to the U.S. form of government, replacing it with the term "constitutional republic." Texas textbooks will contain references to "laws of nature and nature's God" in passages that discuss major political ideas.

The board decided to use the words "free enterprise" when describing the U.S. economic system rather than words such as "capitalism," "capitalist" and "free market," which it deemed to have a negative connotation.

Serving 4.7 million students, Texas accounts for a large percentage of the textbook market, and the new standards may influence what is taught in the rest of the country.
24368  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The Grassroots Paradox on: March 18, 2010, 08:36:09 AM
Jihadism: The Grassroots Paradox
March 18, 2010




By Scott Stewart

Last week, rumors that Adam Gadahn had been arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, quickly swept through the global media. When the dust settled, it turned out that the rumors were incorrect; the person arrested was not the American-born al Qaeda spokesman. The excitement generated by the rumors overshadowed a message from Gadahn that the al Qaeda media arm as Sahab had released on March 7, the same day as the reported arrest. While many of the messages from al Qaeda figures that as Sahab has released over the past several years have been repetitive and quite unremarkable, after watching Gadahn’s March 7 message, we believe that it is a message too interesting to ignore.


The Message

In the message, which was titled “A Call to Arms,” Gadahn starts by telling jihadists to strike targets that are close to them. He repeats the al Qaeda doctrinal position that jihad is a personal, religiously mandated duty for every able-bodied Muslim. He then tells his audience that “it is for you, like your heroic Mujahid brother Nidal Hasan, to decide how, when and where you discharge this duty. But whatever you do, don’t wait for tomorrow to do what can be done today, and don’t wait for others to do what you can do yourself.”

As the message progresses, Gadahn’s praise of Fort Hood shooter Hasan continues. Gadahn lifts up Hasan as an example for other Muslims to emulate: “the Mujahid brother Nidal Hasan is a pioneer, a trailblazer and a role-model who has opened a door, lit a path and shown the way forward for every Muslim who finds himself among the unbelievers and yearns to discharge his duty to Allah.” He adds that Hasan was the “ideal role model” for Muslims serving in the armed forces of Western countries and of their Muslim allies. Gadahn’s message is clearly intended to encourage more jihadists to emulate Hasan and conduct lone wolf terrorist attacks.

Regarding the planning of such attacks, Gadahn praises Hasan for being a careful planner and for not engaging in a hasty, reckless or poorly planned operation. He states that Hasan clearly learned from the mistakes of others and did not repeat them. Although Gadahn does not specify particular plots in which he believes mistakes were made by grassroots jihadists, he is undoubtedly referring to cases such as the May 2009 arrest of a group of grassroots jihadists in White Plains, N.Y., who came to the attention of authorities when they sought help from a man who turned out to be an FBI informant. Gadahn praises Hasan for practicing careful operational security by keeping his plans to himself and for not discussing them over the phone or Internet. He also notes that Hasan did not make the mistake of confiding in a person who might have been an FBI informant, as several other plotters have done. Gadahn also says Hasan “didn’t unnecessarily raise his security profile or waste money better spent on the operation itself by traveling abroad to acquire skills and instructions which could easily be acquired at home, or indeed, deduced by using one’s own powers of logic and reasoning.”

When discussing methods lone wolf jihadists can use to conduct their attacks, Gadahn notes that while Hasan used firearms in his assault at Fort Hood, jihadists are “no longer limited to bullets and bombs” when it comes to weapons. “As the blessed operations of September 11th showed, a little imagination and planning and a minimal budget can turn almost anything into a deadly, effective and convenient weapon which can take the enemy by surprise and deprive him of sleep for years on end.”

Gadahn then turns his attention to targeting. He counsels lone wolf jihadists to follow a three-pronged target selection process. They should choose a target with which they are well acquainted, a target that is feasible to hit and a target that, when struck, will have a major impact. He notes that Hasan’s choice of Fort Hood fit all three criteria, but that jihadists should not think that military bases are the only high-value targets in the United States or other Western countries. “On the contrary,” Gadahn insists, “there are countless other strategic places, institutions and installations which, by striking, the Muslim can do major damage.”

He then relates that jihadists must attempt to “further undermine the West’s already-struggling economies” by carefully timed and targeted attacks against symbols of capitalism in an effort to “shake consumer confidence and stifle spending.” (In this way, Gadahn’s message tracks with past messages of Osama bin Laden pertaining to economic jihad.) Gadahn notes that even apparently unsuccessful attacks on Western mass-transportation systems can bring major cities to a halt, cost billions of dollars and send corporations into bankruptcy. He also calls upon jihadists to kill or capture “leading Crusaders and Zionists in government, industry and media.”

To summarize his lessons on targeting, Gadahn urges jihadists to “look for targets which epitomize Western decadence, depravity, immorality and atheism — targets which the enemy and his mouthpieces will have trouble trying to pass off to the conservative Muslim majority as illegitimate targets full of innocent people.”


Implications

First, it is significant that Gadahn, a representative of the core al Qaeda group, is openly advocating a tactical approach to terrorist attacks that was first publicly laid out by the leader of one of the al Qaeda franchise groups. Nasir al-Wahayshi, head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), authored an article that appeared in AQAP’s Sada al-Malahim online magazine in October 2009 that encouraged jihadists to conduct simple attacks with readily available weapons. Since that time, al-Wahayshi’s group has been linked to Hasan and the Fort Hood shooting, the attempt to destroy Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009 and the June 1, 2009, attack against an armed forces recruitment center in Little Rock, Ark. Normally it is the al Qaeda core group that sets the agenda in the jihadist realm, but the success of AQAP has apparently caused the core group to jump on the AQAP bandwagon and endorse al-Wahayshi’s approach.

It is also telling that the core al Qaeda group chose to produce this particular video message using Gadahn as the spokesman and not one of their other talking heads like Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Yahya al-Libi. Gadahn, an American, is often used by the group to address the West, and English speaking-people in particular, so it is clear that the intended audience for his message was aspiring grassroots jihadists in the West. Indeed, Gadahn says in the video that his message is meant particularly for jihadists in the United States, United Kingdom and Israel. Presented in English, Gadahn’s video is more easily accessible to English-speakers than al-Wahayshi’s article, which was written in Arabic. Even though the al Qaeda core has been marginalized on the physical battlefield, when it comes to areas like militant philosophy, the pronouncements of the core group carry more influence with the wider jihadist world than statements from a regional franchise such as AQAP. When these two factors are combined, it is reasonable to assume that more people in the English-speaking world may pay attention to this call to simple attacks than they did to al-Wahayshi’s call in October 2009. Video is also a more viral type of media than the printed word, and video messages are known to be very appealing to aspiring jihadists.

Another thing this video reveals is the continued weakening of the core al Qaeda group. It has come a long way from the early days of as Sahab, when bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders issued defiant threats of launching a follow-on attack against the United States that was going to be even more destructive than 9/11. The group is now asking individual Muslims to conduct lone-wolf terrorist attacks and to follow the examples of Hasan and Mir Amal Kansi, the Pakistani citizen who conducted a shooting at a stoplight outside CIA headquarters in January 1993 that killed two CIA employees. STRATFOR has long been tracking the devolution of the jihadist threat from one primarily based upon al Qaeda the group to one based upon a wider jihadist movement, and this video is a clear indication that the trend toward decentralization is continuing.

This decentralization means grassroots operatives will continue to be a concern. The problems posed by such operatives are illustrated by recent cases involving American citizens like Colleen LaRose (aka Jihad Jane), Jamie Paulin-Ramirez and Sharif Mobley, who are all alleged to have been involved in recent jihadist plots. As blonde Caucasian women, LaRose and Paulin-Ramirez, in particular, do not fit the jihadist operative stereotype in most people’s minds and serve to illustrate the difficulty of creating a terrorist profile based on race, ethnicity or gender.

But decentralization can also mean diminished capability. Counseling jihadists against traveling to training camps in places like Pakistan or Yemen and advising them not to coordinate their attacks with others will increase a group’s operational security, but it can also have a serious impact on its operational effectiveness. Traditionally, one of the biggest problems for lone-wolf operators is acquiring the skills necessary to conduct a successful terrorist attack. Even though many Web sites and military manuals can provide instruction on such things as hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship, there is no substitute for hands-on experience in the real world. This is especially true when it comes to the more subtle skills required to conduct a complex terrorist attack, such as planning, surveillance and bomb making. This difficulty in translating intent into effective action explains why so few lone-wolf militants have been able to pull off spectacular, mass-casualty attacks.

Not putting their recruits through a more formal training regimen also makes it more difficult for groups to thoroughly indoctrinate recruits with jihadist ideology. In addition to physical training, individuals attending jihadist training camps typically receive hours of theological instruction every day that is intended to ground them in jihadist doctrine and motivate them to follow through with their plans to engage in attacks.

All that said, while the threat posed by grassroots jihadists is less severe than that posed by trained militant operatives from the core al Qaeda group or the regional franchises, grassroots operatives can still kill people — and they most certainly will continue to do so. Because of this, it is important to pay careful attention to the targeting criteria that Gadahn lays out. His focus on mass transportation targets means that historical jihadist targets such as airliners and subways continue to be at risk. For corporate security directors and the protective security details assigned to safeguard high-profile government officials and private individuals, the video should also serve as a reminder of the need to be vigilant. This is doubly true for those assigned to protect individuals of the Jewish faith, who could be thought to fit both the “Crusader” and “Zionist” labels in the mind of a prospective attacker.

For security personnel, the silver lining in all this is that grassroots operatives are often lacking in street skills and tend to be very sloppy when conducting preoperational surveillance. This means that, while these individuals are in many ways more difficult to identify before an attack than operatives who communicate with, or are somehow connected to, jihadist groups (indeed, lone wolves can seemingly appear out of nowhere), their amateurish methods tend to make them more vulnerable to detection than their better-trained counterparts. This is the paradox presented by this class of militant operative — and it is a paradox that will confront security, intelligence and law enforcement officers for many years to come.
24369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Inspiration on: March 18, 2010, 07:36:54 AM
By Tzvi Freeman
Yesterday, you were inspired.
Today, that is all gone.
And so, you are depressed.

But this is the way the system works: Everything begins with inspiration.
Then the inspiration steps aside
—to make room for you to do something with it.

For fire to become deeds.
24370  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ben Franklin, 1784 on: March 18, 2010, 07:35:03 AM
"But they have two other Rights; those of sitting when they please, and as long as they please, in which methinks they have the advantage of your Parliament; for they cannot be dissolved by the Breath of a Minister, or sent packing as you were the other day, when it was your earnest desire to have remained longer together." --Benjamin Franklin, letter to William Strahan, 1784
24371  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in NYC 6/19-20 on: March 18, 2010, 07:13:13 AM
Sorry to be so thick here:  Uhh , , , what fight in New Jersey?
24372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China's potential shift on sanctions against Iran on: March 18, 2010, 07:08:27 AM
China's Potential Shift on Sanctions Against Iran
AHANDFUL OF EVENTS BROUGHT STRATFOR’S ATTENTION to China on Tuesday, suggesting that China may be contemplating a shift in its position on the United States’ effort to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran for its secretive nuclear program.

First, the Chinese foreign minister told his British counterpart, who was arguing on behalf of Iranian sanctions, that while sanctions are not a “fundamental solution,” China is growing “more concerned” about the current situation. While the statement was ambiguous, it differed in tone from previous remarks, and may suggest a greater willingness on the part of the Chinese to entertain the possibility of endorsing — or not actively obstructing — sanctions. Second, the Iranian Foreign Ministry called Western visits to convince China to join the sanctions coalition “ineffectual,” adding that China was “independent enough” to resist Western policies. Iran’s rhetoric — though it may be nothing but rhetoric — could also reveal that Iran is growing more worried about losing Chinese support. Third, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger — a renowned figure who played an integral role in breaking the ice between the United States and China in the early 1970s, and who commands respect in China — visited China’s top foreign policymaker Dai Bingguo, presumably to discuss Sino-U.S. tensions and Iran. Taken together, these events not only reveal the ongoing concentrated effort by the West to win over Chinese support, but also the possibility that the Chinese are considering a shift.

While China has long held that Iran must adhere to the international nuclear non-proliferation scheme and not pursue nuclear weapons, it has also resisted attempts by the United States to gather international consensus behind a new round of sanctions to punish Iran, especially “crippling” sanctions called for by Israel. China receives about half of its oil imports from the Persian Gulf, and about 11 percent from Iran. It exports gasoline to Iran, its state energy companies invest in Iranian energy production projects, and Iran’s sizable population offers a market for Chinese goods. As such, Beijing has resisted any sanctions that could break off bilateral ties, or cause tensions to escalate or conflict to erupt in the region. Moreover, Iranian nuclear weapons do not in themselves threaten China’s security. And China is attempting to position itself as an independent power in global affairs and cultivate relationships with states based on its own interests rather than those of the United States. For these reasons, Beijing has flatly and repeatedly stated that sanctions are not the solution.

“China knows that its options are poor, and so has pushed for prolonged diplomacy as the sole solution to the nuclear question.”
Nevertheless, China is also aware that it is limited in its ability to counteract the U.S. drive for international sanctions. China’s first option would be to exercise a veto against a sanctions resolution at the U.N. Security Council, but it seldom uses its veto alone, and is aware that the United States and its allies can take action outside the United Nations, which would render China even less able to affect the course of events. Its second option would be to attempt to circumvent sanctions by assisting Iran. But unlike with Russia, this option is geographically difficult, and to do so would leave China open to opprobrium and reprisals from the U.S.-led coalition. China knows that its options are poor, and so has pushed for prolonged diplomacy as the sole solution to the nuclear question.

But China knows that far more important than Iran are its vulnerabilities and limitations in dealing with the United States. Washington and Beijing have seen relations grow sour since the global recession began, namely with a series of trade disputes. Recently, however, the disagreements have emerged from deeper differences over the two countries’ economic structures. In particular, the United States has ramped up criticism of China’s currency policy, which keeps the yuan pegged to the U.S. dollar at an undervalued exchange rate so as to make Chinese exports to the United States more attractive. This practice undercuts American producers in competition with China and has become a subject of increasing criticism as the United States is struggling to manage the economic recovery — and reduce unemployment — during a year that will see midterm elections in Congress. U.S. President Barack Obama recently called for China to shift to a more “market oriented” exchange rate, a call his spokesman reiterated Tuesday. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group in the U.S. Congress has been forming to demand that the Treasury Department officially accuse China of currency manipulation, which would help clear the way for Congress to levy tariffs — perhaps even a blanket tariff — on Chinese imports to force China to change policies.

For China, these circumstances are incredibly alarming. After all, Beijing’s paramount focus remains internal — namely, managing its rapidly expanding economy so as to prevent an overheating or slowdown that could cause social frustrations to erupt into unrest. A critical component of this strategy is China’s export sector after the shocks of 2008-2009. The United States remains China’s biggest single market — and its most promising going forward. Beijing’s means of deterring the United States are inadequate. The theoretical option of selling off American debt is not only inherently limited by the need to find enough buyers (which, incidentally, could always be the U.S. Federal Reserve), but also self-destructive because it would negatively affect American consumption and Chinese exports. China’s anxieties are all the greater because U.S. pressure on China is springing from domestic political logic in the United States, rather than purely economic matters. This means that even policy changes to address U.S. complaints could be unsuccessful in calming the United States.

Yet the United States is in need of help on sanctions. Its effort to gather momentum continues to be challenged not only by Chinese resistance, but also (and more critically) by Russia’s reluctance to join. This has led Washington to attempt to water down the sanctions to get support, as well as to downplay Iranian progress on obtaining nuclear weapons. These moves have created tensions with Israel — which has the most to lose in the advent of an Iranian bomb and the least patience for diplomacy — but have not yet won more support for sanctions.

Which means China may have something to gain by altering its stance. STRATFOR sources in Beijing indicate that China may be willing to support sanctions if the United States were to reciprocate, for instance, by not labeling China as a currency manipulator. In other words, rather than considering whether to defend their interests with Iran at a time when the United States is showing a more confrontational attitude, the Chinese may be searching for ways to trade away Iran to gain assurances from the United States that it will not push too hard on the economic front. While it cannot be confirmed that a U.S.-China deal is in the works, Beijing is aware of Washington’s changing mood and is planning its response carefully, keeping its priorities in mind.
24373  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Seminar with Guro Maija Soderholm on: March 17, 2010, 09:19:26 PM
Folks:

Maija is quite good.  Whenever we are in the same town (she here or I there) we get together and exchange.  Highly recommended.

TAC!
Crafty Dog

PS:  Substantial footage of her training with Maestro Sonny can be seen in our "The Grandfathers Speak-2" and in the clip for it.
24374  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: March 17, 2010, 12:04:38 PM
GSP is quite impressive, so that sounds about right-- but who is Hardy?  Whom has he beat?  What are his strengths and weaknesses?

24375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Scott Grannis on: March 17, 2010, 11:35:32 AM


The always thoughtful and well-informed Scott Grannis:

http://scottgrannis.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html
24376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Write, call, FAX your Senators and Congressman today!!! on: March 17, 2010, 11:18:43 AM
Not sure what to write/say?

Here's something a friend sent in:
=========================

Dear Friends and Senator _______,                                        March 17, 2010

 

So it has come down to this.

 

After fourteen months of dissembling and obfuscation, of the passage of a Christmas Eve Senate bill full of bribery and soul selling, Madam Speaker does not have the votes to pass the Senate Health Care Bill in the House.

 

Speaker Pelosi does not have the votes to pass the Senate bill, but she is more than willing to ‘deem the Senate bill passed’ the House with no actual vote. So much for the Obama, Axelrod claims that the American people deserve an up or down vote. You see that with ‘deemed to pass’ the Speaker can kill two birds with one stone. The Democrat party will have their Health Care Bill through both Houses and members can go home at the Easter break and claim, “I did not vote for the health Care Bill”. This could be a good thing in November if you are a Democrat and up for reelection, as all House Democrats are.  There is just one problem with the ‘deemed to pass’ strategy; Article 1 Section 7 of the Constitution of the United States (see below). As an aside, when you hear a Democrat say that the people are not interested in the ‘the process’ translate ‘process’ to mean the Constitution.

 

Meanwhile until the decision to ‘deem the Senate Bill as passed’ is made, the push is on to educate the 71% of Americans who did not get it the first 146 times Obama explained his version of Health Care. In backroom smack downs Pelosi, Axelrod and Emanuel are making threats, breaking arms and whoring with the currency of the debt of your children and grandchildren.

 

The Democrat party has been rebuffed by the people on their version of Health Care Reform for over a year. Now when the backs of the far left ideologues are against the wall and failure with its attendant baggage imminent, their last and most dangerous treachery has been hatched. They will pass a bill for the President’s signature and not have a recorded vote in the House.

 

Ask yourselves, did these Democrats take an oath to uphold the constitution? Do the ends justify the means?  If a majority political party controlling all three branches of government can institute a law without voting and thereby fundamentally reshape the relationship of every individual citizen to the Federal Government and control one sixth of the economy, is their anything such a party cannot do? Where is Robert Byrd when you need him? Are their any Statesmen left?

 

Will you be our Statesman Senator _____?  Will you refuse to vote for the reconciliation of the post ‘deemed to have passed’ unconstitutional ploy?  Will you denounce this anarchy, this tyranny? Will you?

 

 

Sincerely,



 

PS: The US has in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid $57 TRILLION in unfunded entitlements. The US is in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Rather than push through another entitlement and force upon the American people the largest tax increase in the history of the country, why doesn’t this Democrat majority do what John Kennedy did in the recession of 1961, cut taxes and Federal spending?  I guess that leftist ideologues don’t do major recessions.

24377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "Deemed" to "Slaughter" the Constitutional Order on: March 17, 2010, 08:45:40 AM
WSJ:

We're not sure American schools teach civics any more, but once upon a time they taught that under the U.S. Constitution a bill had to pass both the House and Senate to become law. Until this week, that is, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi is moving to merely "deem" that the House has passed the Senate health-care bill and then send it to President Obama to sign anyway.

Under the "reconciliation" process that began yesterday afternoon, the House is supposed to approve the Senate's Christmas Eve bill and then use "sidecar" amendments to fix the things it doesn't like. Those amendments would then go to the Senate under rules that would let Democrats pass them while avoiding the ordinary 60-vote threshold for passing major legislation. This alone is an abuse of traditional Senate process.

But Mrs. Pelosi & Co. fear they lack the votes in the House to pass an identical Senate bill, even with the promise of these reconciliation fixes. House Members hate the thought of going on record voting for the Cornhusker kickback and other special-interest bribes that were added to get this mess through the Senate, as well as the new tax on high-cost insurance plans that Big Labor hates.

View Full Image

Associated Press
 
Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y
.So at the Speaker's command, New York Democrat Louise Slaughter, who chairs the House Rules Committee, may insert what's known as a "self-executing rule," also known as a "hereby rule." Under this amazing procedural ruse, the House would then vote only once on the reconciliation corrections, but not on the underlying Senate bill. If those reconciliation corrections pass, the self-executing rule would say that the Senate bill is presumptively approved by the House—even without a formal up-or-down vote on the actual words of the Senate bill.

Democrats would thus send the Senate bill to President Obama for his signature even as they claimed to oppose the same Senate bill. They would be declaring themselves to be for and against the Senate bill in the same vote. Even John Kerry never went that far with his Iraq war machinations. As we went to press, the precise mechanics that Democrats will use remained unclear, though yesterday Mrs. Pelosi endorsed this "deem and pass" strategy in a meeting with left-wing bloggers.

This two-votes-in-one gambit is a brazen affront to the plain language of the Constitution, which is intended to require democratic accountability. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution says that in order for a "Bill" to "become a Law," it "shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate." This is why the House and Senate typically have a conference committee to work out differences in what each body passes. While sometimes one house cedes entirely to another, the expectation is that its Members must re-vote on the exact language of the other body's bill.

As Stanford law professor Michael McConnell pointed out in these pages yesterday, "The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form." If Congress can now decide that the House can vote for one bill and the Senate can vote for another, and the final result can be some arbitrary hybrid, then we have abandoned one of Madison's core checks and balances.

Yes, self-executing rules have been used in the past, but as the Congressional Research Service put it in a 2006 paper, "Originally, this type of rule was used to expedite House action in disposing of Senate amendments to House-passed bills." They've also been used for amendments such as to a 1998 bill that "would have permitted the CIA to offer employees an early-out retirement program"—but never before to elide a vote on the entire fundamental legislation.

We have entered a political wonderland, where the rules are whatever Democrats say they are. Mrs. Pelosi and the White House are resorting to these abuses because their bill is so unpopular that a majority even of their own party doesn't want to vote for it. Fence-sitting Members are being threatened with primary challengers, a withdrawal of union support and of course ostracism. Michigan's Bart Stupak is being pounded nightly by MSNBC for the high crime of refusing to vote for a bill that he believes will subsidize insurance for abortions.

Democrats are, literally, consuming their own majority for the sake of imposing new taxes, regulations and entitlements that the public has roundly rejected but that they believe will be the crowning achievement of the welfare state. They are also leaving behind a procedural bloody trail that will fuel public fury and make such a vast change of law seem illegitimate to millions of Americans.

The concoction has become so toxic that even Mrs. Pelosi isn't bothering to defend the merits anymore, saying instead last week that "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." Or rather, "deeming" to have passed it.
24378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 5th State asserts gun rights from Feds on: March 17, 2010, 08:14:03 AM
Forwarded to me.  The source "worldnetdaily" is not necessarily a reliable one IMHO, but the subject matter is interesting:
 
---------------------------
REBELLION IN AMERICA

5th state exempts guns. Is Washington noticing?
'I think they're going to let it ride, hoping some judge throws out case'

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted: March 15, 2010
9:11 pm Eastern


By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily
A fifth state – South Dakota – has decided that guns made, sold and used within its borders no longer are subject to the whims of the federal government through its rule-making arm in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and two supporters of the growing groundswell say they hope Washington soon will be taking note.
South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds has signed into law his state's version of a Firearms Freedom Act that first was launched in Montana. It already is law there, in Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming, which took the unusual step of specifying criminal penalties – including both fines and jail time – for federal agents attempting to enforce a federal law on a "personal firearm" in the Cowboy State.
According to a report in the Dakota Voice, the new South Dakota law addresses the "rights of states which have been carelessly trampled by the federal government for decades."
"As the federal government has radically overstepped is constitutional limitations in the past year or so, an explosion of states have begun re-asserting their rights not only with regard to firearms, but also in shielding themselves against government health care, cap and trade global warming taxes, and more," the report said.
(Story continues below)

   
   

South Dakota's law specifically notes "any firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in South Dakota and that remains within the borders of South Dakota is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, including registration, under the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce."
The provisions are nearly a mirror of the original law penned in Montana as well as those adopted in subsequent decisions by Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.
Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association spearheaded the Montana law and now describes himself as a sort of "godfather" to the national campaign.
He told WND the issue is not only about guns but about states' rights and the constant overreaching by federal agencies and Washington to impose their requirements on in-state activities.
Here are answers to all your questions about guns, ammunition and accessories.
He said he's pleased South Dakota has become No. 5, and noted Alaska, Idaho and Oklahoma all have legislation that is approaching the stage of being presented to a governor to be made into law.
The Firearms Freedom Act website also reveals that other states either with pending legislation or pending plans include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Map showing 5 states adopting gun exemptions (in green)
 

Marbut said Washington appears to be reacting the same way it did when states legalized marijuana or rejected the REAL ID national plan: by ignoring it.
"Ultimately we hope there will be lawsuits in other federal circuits, because there are two things that predispose the U.S. Supreme Court to take a case: the national scope of the issue and differing appellate decisions," he told WND.
Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center said Washington likely is not anxious for a confrontation.
"I think they're going to let it ride, hoping some judge throws out the case," he said today.
"When they really start paying attention is when people actually start following the [state] firearms laws," he said.
WND reported earlier when Wyoming joined the states with self-declared exemptions from federal gun regulation.
But when Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed his state's bill into law, it included penalties for any agent of the U.S. who "enforces or attempts to enforce" federal gun rules on a "personal firearm" in Wyoming including up to two years in prison and up to $2,000 in fines.
The bellwether likely is to be a lawsuit pending over the Montana law, which was the first to go into effect.
As WND reported, the action was filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and the Montana Shooting Sports Association in U.S. District Court in Missoula, Mont., to validate the principles and terms of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act, which took effect Oct. 3, 2009.
Marbut argues that the federal government was created by the states to serve the states and the people, and it is time for the states to begin drawing boundaries for the federal government and its agencies.
The government's filing in the case demands its dismissal, citing a lacking of "standing" for the plaintiffs and the court's lack of "jurisdiction," as well as the Constitution's Commerce clause. The government filing argues, "The Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit have repeatedly held that even purely intrastate activities, such as those the MFFA purports to exempt from federal law, do affect interstate commerce and thus are within Congress' power to regulate. As a result, even if plaintiffs had standing and jurisdiction existed, plaintiffs' amended complaint fails to state a claim and must be dismissed."
The Commerce Clause, however, can be interpreted to have been amended by the 10th Amendment, which is part of the Bill of Rights, adopted subsequent to the U.S. Constitution, Marbut explains.
His organization said, "The Commerce Clause was amended – by the 10th Amendment. It is a bedrock principle of jurisprudence that for any conflict between provisions of a co-equal body of law, the most recently enacted must be given deference as the most recent expression of the enacting authority. This principle is ancient. Without this principle, laws could not be amended or repealed."
Learn what you can do about your nation. Get "Taking America Back," Joseph Farah's manifesto for sovereignty, self-reliance and moral renewal
For example, U.S. courts repeatedly affirmed slavery before it ultimately was rejected.
There's no question that the components of the Bill of Rights have authority: Just look at the First Amendment, Marbut explained.
In an analysis by the Tenth Amendment Center, the gun laws were described as a nullification.
"Laws of the federal government are to be supreme in all matters pursuant to the delegated powers of U.S. Constitution. When D.C. enacts laws outside those powers, state laws trump. And, as Thomas Jefferson would say, when the federal government assumes powers not delegated to it, those acts are 'unauthoritative, void, and of no force' from the outset," Boldin wrote.
"When a state 'nullifies' a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or 'non-effective,' within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned. Implied in such legislation is that the state apparatus will enforce the act against all violations – in order to protect the liberty of the state's citizens," he continued.
24379  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: MMA Thread on: March 17, 2010, 07:09:57 AM
Don't know anything about Hardy , , ,
24380  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in NYC 6/19-20 on: March 17, 2010, 06:57:17 AM
Uhhh  , , , what fight?
24381  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: March 17, 2010, 06:56:38 AM
In western music there are but 12 notes.  That does not mean there are no new melodies however.
24382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / MAdison, #46 on: March 17, 2010, 06:54:38 AM
"For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures will be unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national objects, the members of the federal legislature will be likely to attach themselves too much to local objects." --James Madison, Federalist No. 46
24383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: March 16, 2010, 05:10:55 PM
As the saying goes "It's not a justice system, it's a legal system."
24384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cyberwar on: March 16, 2010, 10:22:42 AM
Thank you for the commentary.  I had planned to ask this quesetion on the Govt. Programs or Internet thread, but since I have you here and you mention the "bandwidth bottleneck" issue, would you help me understand the issues involved with the FCC/BO plans to fund/create "high speed interent for everyone" both from the perspective of the issues here and with regard to the economic performance i.e. is it going to be a clusterfcuk or is it going to actually do some good at a reasonable cost?
24385  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in NYC 6/19-20 on: March 15, 2010, 05:21:30 PM
Meow! cheesy evil cheesy
24386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: March 15, 2010, 05:20:39 PM
My take FWIW:  Even defendants who seem guilty of the nastiest of crimes, deserve able defense. 

That said, one has to be engaged in some serious cranial rectal interface to not suspect that these attorneys are motivated by something other than that; therefore a very fair and very serious question is raised when they are selected to work at DOJ.  The various dubious elements to AG Holder's background and performance on the job add to the stench.
24387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on: March 15, 2010, 10:36:12 AM
"It's all supposed to be voluntary, those 'home visits' that are tucked into the mammoth Obamacare bill. If you have a strong stomach, and a stronger bottom, you can find home visitation on pages 568-595. That's Section 2951 of H.R. 3590, the Senate [health care] bill.... The bill provides for federal funding and supervision for this vast expansion of government intrusion into family life. This is the Nanny State on steroids. Is your family being 'targeted' for such home visitations? Let's see if you fit into one of these very broad categories: Families where Mom is not yet 21. (No mention here whether she is married or not.) Families where someone is a tobacco user. (Does this include the White House? Watch out, Sasha and Malia! Does Grandpa, whom you love and have taken in, enjoy his after-dinner pipe?) Families where children have low student achievement, developmental delays, or disabilities. As if that list were not wide-ranging enough, here's the net that can encompass tens of millions: Families with individuals who are serving or formerly served in the armed forces, including such families that have members of the armed forces who have had multiple deployments outside the United States. [Emphasis added.] ... Do you spank your children? You should know that HHS bureaucrats think you are an abuser. Do you support the Second Amendment? How would you like HHS bureaucrats asking your children if you maintain firearms in the home for family protection? Do you home-school your kids? Take care. Members of Congress who have tried to abolish home-schooling are big backers of this health care bill. Do you wonder why? ... One thing is clear: For life and liberty, we must defeat ObamaCare." --columnist Ken Blackwell
24388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Gitmos indefensible lawyers on: March 15, 2010, 08:15:43 AM
By Debra Burlingame and Thomas Joscelyn
On the evening of Jan. 26, 2006, military guards at Guantanamo Bay made an alarming discovery during a routine cell check. Lying on the bed of a Saudi detainee was an 18-page color brochure. The cover consisted of the now famous photograph of newly-arrived detainees dressed in orange jumpsuits—masked, bound and kneeling on the ground at Camp X-Ray—just four months after 9/11. Written entirely in Arabic, it also included pictures of what appeared to be detainee operations in Iraq. Major General Jay W. Hood, then the commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, concurred with the guards that this represented a serious breach of security.

Maj. Gen. Hood asked his Islamic cultural adviser to translate. The cover read: "Cruel. Inhuman. Degrades Us All: Stop Torture and Ill-Treatment in the 'War on Terror.'" It was published by Amnesty International in the United Kingdom and portrayed America and its allies as waging a campaign of torture against Muslims around the globe.

"One thread that runs through many of the testimonies from prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq, and from Guantanamo," the brochure read, "is that of anti-Arab, anti-Islamic, and other racist abuse."

How did the detainee get it? More importantly, who gave it to him?


David Klein
 .Majeed Abdullah Al Joudi, the detainee in whose cell the brochure was first found, told guards he received the brochure from his lawyer. An investigation by JTF-GTMO personnel revealed that Julia Tarver Mason, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, had sent it to Al Joudi and eight of the firm's other detainee clients through "legal mail"—a designation for privileged lawyer-client communications that are exempt from screening by security personnel. Worse, the investigation showed that Ms. Mason's clients passed it to other detainees not represented by Paul, Weiss lawyers. In all, more than a dozen detainees received a copy.

At Guantanamo, "legal mail" is strictly limited to correspondence between counsel and a detainee that is related to representation of the detainee, privileged documents and publicly filed legal documents. But even "legal mail," according to the rules mandated by Judge Joyce Hens Green in a 2004 protective order, prohibits lawyers from giving detainees information relating to military operations, intelligence, arrests, political news and current events, and the names of U.S. government personnel. Lawyers are forbidden from discussing other detainee cases not directly related to the representation of their own client.

The Amnesty International brochure, handed out at a human rights conference in London, was a political advocacy screed in clear violation of that order, which was formulated to protect force security. Maj. Gen. Hood made a command decision. He banned the Paul, Weiss lawyers from access to Guantanamo. The DOJ notified the firm.

Paul, Weiss immediately went on the offensive, backed by what one former Defense Department official, who requested anonymity, called "an armada of habeas attorneys." They sued the government, demanding that it defend the decision to eject lawyers from Gitmo, making the straight-faced claim that the Amnesty International brochure was a legitimate "report" that was "directly related" to their clients' defense. But their bottom line argument amounted to this: A military commander at a secure overseas military facility in a time of war couldn't remove disruptive lawyers who were inciting captured enemy detainees and endangering the safety and security of military personnel unless he first got permission from a federal judge.

In a sworn affidavit submitted to the D.C. District Court and obtained by the writers of this article in a Freedom of Information Act request, Maj. Gen. Hood did not equivocate when it came to the Amnesty International pamphlet. "The very nature of this document gives tremendous moral support to those who would strike out against our country," he stated. "It is not a factual report. Instead it is filled with second and third hand accounts, photos of protests that were staged, inflammatory photos from Iraq and provocative story captions."

Maj. Gen. Hood noted that many of the captured al Qaeda terrorists held at the camp had been "specifically trained on the Manchester Manual [an al Qaeda training manual discovered at a safe house in Britain]," which "encourages detainees to claim torture and abuse." He warned that "[e]xamples and vignettes of alleged abuse of other detainees" could be used "to fabricate their own claims of abuse and torture."

In fact, from al Qaeda's perspective, the Amnesty International brochure was better than the Manchester Manual. It cued detainees that the abuses at Abu Ghraib "were not an aberration." The brochure told them that images from the Iraqi prison were consistent with "numerous allegations of torture and ill-treatment reported from detention centres in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay."

The message to the detainees was clear: If you want to claim you are being tortured, here is a vast menu of examples from which to choose.

But Maj. Gen. Hood's immediate concern about the magazine's "propaganda and misinformation" was the strong potential that it would incite detainees to act out against U.S. personnel in his facility. The Islamic cultural adviser agreed, telling Maj. Gen. Hood that "the tone of the magazine was highly inflammatory" and "would cause a negative reaction, especially amongst the more hard-core terrorist factions within the camp."

That was an understatement. Four months earlier, a core group of detainee leaders recruited as many as 131 detainees to engage in a coordinated hunger strike. The self-starvation was intended to make the detainees look like victims, win sympathy for their cause, and force the U.S. government to choose between letting them die or letting them go. The tactic worked to perfection. Human rights activists created a media firestorm with completely fabricated reports about Guantanamo medical staff using "forced feedings" to "torture" detainees.

Ms. Mason herself inflamed tensions with the hunger strikers during a visit to Guantanamo in October 2005. She told one of the detainees, Yousef Al Shehri, that the U.S. government had no court authority to feed him using a nasal tube, according to Justice Department documents. As a result, Al Shehri pulled out his feeding tube, persuaded detainees in his cell block to do the same and exhorted them to physically resist efforts to reinsert the tube. DOJ lawyers would later argue that Ms. Mason's advocacy "resulted in a disruption of camp security and a potential threat to the health of eight hunger-striking detainees."

Despite this history, Paul, Weiss attorneys were apparently so confident that the DOJ could be cowed into submission that they provided the court with exhibits—letters, emails and court filings—documenting gross violations of the protective order by other habeas attorneys whose access was not cut off, ostensibly to show that Paul, Weiss was being treated unfairly.

We obtained Justice Department accounts of some of those incidents under a Freedom of Information Act request. Examples included an incident in which a lawyer sent his detainee client the transcript of a virulently anti-American speech that compared military physicians to Joseph Mengele, the Nazi doctor of Auschwitz, called DOJ lawyers "desk torturers" and suggested that the "abuses carried out by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib . . . could involve the President in the commission of war crimes."

Other incidents listed in the FOIA material included: a lawyer who was caught in the act of making a hand-drawn map of a detention camp's layout, including guard towers; a lawyer who sent a letter to his detainee client telling him that "we cannot depend on the military to do the right thing" and conveying his message of support to other detainees who were not his clients; lawyers who posted photos of Guantanamo security badges on the Internet; lawyers who provided news outlets with "interviews" of their clients using questions provided in advance by the news organization; and a lawyer who gave his client a list of all the detainees.

If the stated intent was to show that the government had singled out Paul, Weiss attorneys, the unstated purpose was to demonstrate something even more significant to the government's lawyers. They were outnumbered and outgunned. The Gitmo bar had grown to include some 400 lawyers from as many as 50 law firms that were subsidized by the millions of dollars earned from their paying corporate clients. They had the legal talent, the support of the international press and the judicial wind at their backs. They could bury the DOJ in paper. If one lawyer was taken out, she could be replaced by another.

"They were beaten down by the litigation," said the former Defense Department official who asked to remain anonymous. "If I'd gotten caught passing war news to detainees, my security clearance would have been pulled."

But why would American lawyers, after 9/11 and the brutal slaughter of 3,000 fellow citizens, hand members of al Qaeda information about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? The records indicate that attorneys were printing news off the Internet and passing it to detainees at the same time that U.S. forces in Iraq were sustaining devastating casualties from IED attacks.

"They would bring contraband in their briefcases, in manila envelopes," an active-duty officer familiar with Defense Department records on attorney access violations told us. "They did it because they knew the detainees were hungry for news and they wanted to establish trust."

The desire to establish trust is evident in Ms. Mason's own affidavit to the D.C. court concerning the status of her firm's representation of Saudi detainees in habeas cases. The attorneys couldn't remain as attorney of record and go forward with a habeas case if the detainees wouldn't cooperate with them. "While we have made substantial progress in developing rapport and trust with our clients," she stated, "we have not yet been able to secure from all of them written acknowledgment of our representation." She attributes this to "torture and abuse . . . at the hands of the American military" as opposed to the Islamist mindset that sees no distinction between American attorneys in suits and American personnel in uniform. Indeed, court records reveal that Yousef Al Shehri wrote to the court, "expressing in no uncertain terms that he desires neither representation, nor a lawsuit on his behalf."


Ultimately, the government would reach a settlement with the Paul, Weiss lawyers. Ms. Mason and her team were allowed to resume their trips to Guantanamo in May 2006. But the DOJ's surrender emboldened the Gitmo bar even further. Last August, the Washington Post reported that three lawyers defending Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his 9/11 co-conspirators showed their clients photographs of covert CIA officers in an attempt to identify the individuals who interrogated them after they were captured overseas. Lawyers working for the John Adams Project, formed to support the legal team representing KSM and his cohorts, provided the defense attorneys with the photographs, according to the Post. None of the attorneys under investigation were identified in the Post report.

In the last several days, the debate has taken a detour about what some have called a "shameful attack" on the "noble attorneys" who have chosen to defend "unpopular people." A national security organization, Keep America Safe (of which Ms. Burlingame is a board member), used the phrase "Al Qaeda 7" in an Internet ad to describe seven unnamed Department of Justice political appointees who previously represented or advocated on behalf of terrorists.

The purpose of the ad was to prod Attorney General Eric Holder to disclose to the public which detainee attorneys he has hired to work on behalf of the American people, and whether they are involved in the policy-making decisions that will affect the nation's safety and security while we are at war. He was asked for this information by several members of the U.S. Senate, and he was stonewalling.

The attorney general has the right to select whomever he chooses to work in his department, and to set policy as he sees fit. He does not, however, have the right to do it in the dark. The policies he advances must face the scrutiny of the American people, his No. 1 client.

The public has a right to know, for instance, that one of Mr. Holder's early political hires in the department's national security division was Jennifer Daskal, a former attorney for Human Rights Watch. Her work there centered on efforts to close Guantanamo Bay, shut down military commissions—which she calls "kangaroo courts"—and set detainees who cannot be tried in civilian courts free. She has written that freeing dangerous terrorists is an "assumption of risk" that we must take in order to cleanse the nation of Guantanamo's moral stain. This suggests that Ms. Daskal, who serves on the Justice Department's Detainee Policy Task Force, is entirely in sync with Mr. Holder and a White House whose chief counterterrorism official (John Brennan) considers a 20% detainee recidivism rate "not that bad."

It is entirely legitimate to ask who else among Mr. Holder's hires from the Gitmo bar is shaping or influencing national security policy decisions. Meanwhile, the public can decide whether the lawyers at Paul, Weiss who are volunteering at Guantanamo are an example of the legal profession's noblest traditions.

We spoke to Ms. Mason's executive assistant on Friday seeking her comments. Multiple calls and emails had not been returned as this paper went to press last night.

On Feb. 20, 2007, a post on the Paul, Weiss Web site proudly announced "Paul, Weiss achieves more victories for Guantanamo detainees." Two detainees were released from Gitmo to their home in Saudi Arabia. One was Majeed Abdullah Al Joudi, a recipient of the Amnesty International "report." The Web site needs an update. The Pentagon has identified Al Joudi as a "confirmed" recidivist who is "directly involved" with the facilitation of "terrorist activities."

Yousef Al Shehri, the detainee who led his cell block in the feeding tube rebellion, was also released in November 2007. In early 2009 he was listed on the Saudi Kingdom's list of 85 "most wanted" extremists. Yousef was killed last October during a shootout with Saudi security forces on his way to a martyrdom operation. He and another jihadist, disguised as women and wearing suicide vests, killed a security officer in the clash. Yousef's brother-in-law, Said Al Shehri, also released from Gitmo, is currently the second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the branch that launched the Christmas Day airline attack last year.

Ms. Burlingame, a former attorney, is the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. She is a co-founder of Keep America Safe. Mr. Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
24389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, Query 12, 1782 on: March 15, 2010, 08:00:21 AM
"On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?" --Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, Query 12, 1782
24390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / from Bruce Schneier on: March 15, 2010, 06:47:06 AM
There was a big U.S. cyberattack exercise last month.  We didn't do so well.
http://www.darkreading.com/security/cybercrime/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222900775
or http://tinyurl.com/y9mqfj9
http://www.thenewnewinternet.com/2010/02/16/more-must-be-done-to-prepare-us-for-cyber-attack/
or http://tinyurl.com/ydv6e5f
24391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: March 15, 2010, 06:42:11 AM
Life in Words
Print this Page

By Tzvi Freeman
Not with toil and not with struggle, but by the word of His mouth did the One Above create His world.

Not with toil and not with struggle, but with words of wisdom and kindness does He require we sustain it.

If so, what is the effort He demands from us?

That we invest our very essence in those words, as He invested His very essence within this world He made.

24392  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kali Tudo 4: The Dog Leg Game on: March 14, 2010, 11:47:29 PM
Woof All:

Boo Dog is one of the current standout Dog Brothers.  He brings an unusually well-rounded and distinctive game to the fight, including very stong kicking skills of that aren't supposed to be applicable in a stick fight (see e.g. the clip of the most recent Gathering to see him doing a spinning heel hook to the head behind a back hand strike) and outstanding MMA skills (see e.g. the clip of the most recent Gathering to see him doing a suplex on someone) based upon his being an instructor in LaBelle-Gokor K____ian and a regular sparring partner of major MMA fighters such as Manny Gamborian.

We have been getting together regularly on Sunday mornings and he has definitely been helping me develop my KT game.  Not only does he show me some really good ideas, but now that I am no longer young enough to give my ideas a fair test, he becomes someone with whom I can share KT and have him go test it with serious professional fighters.  cool cool cool

Because Boo looks at MMA with a Dog Brother/KT mind, he has developed two games which definitely meet the KT criteria.  Sometime later this year we will be shooting a DVD featuring Boo Dog  "DBMA Kali Tudo 4: The Dog Leg Game".  The Dog Leg Game integrates nicely with the Running Dog Game and like all KT material meets the criteria of the "Die Less Often- the interface of Gun, Knife, and Empty Hand."

Stay tuned!
Guro Crafty
24393  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DLO 3 on: March 14, 2010, 11:35:20 PM
Pretty Kitty tells me the dupe house tells us it will arrive this week.  We will begin shipping immediately.
24394  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Kali Tudo 3 on: March 14, 2010, 11:33:44 PM
Night Owl tells me the edit progresses steadily.   SWAG finishing date of early April.
24395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BP being infiltrated?!? on: March 13, 2010, 09:01:35 PM


http://video.foxnews.com/v/4102363/new-concerns-in-bloody-border-battle
24396  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine on: March 12, 2010, 09:45:20 PM
That caught my curiousity, but I figured "It's the Mayo Clinic , , ," 

Kaju, are you saying something bad would happen if this technique were administered in the presence of a pulse?
24397  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty in NYC 6/19-20 on: March 12, 2010, 05:20:17 PM
Probable material:

*Kali Tudo
*Die Less Often
*Stick(s)
*and?

New York Jiu Jitsu
666 Broadway, Lower Level
New York, NY 10012

Located at Broadway and Bond St (Entrance on Bond St.)
(212)343-8310

1:30pm - 5:30pm on Saturday
10:00am - 4:00pm on Sunday

We have not been having lunch breaks due to the break up of concentration. We recommend water and small snacks and usually offer a few short 10 minute breaks.

Thank you,
Vince Cantu
Operations Manager
New York Jiu Jitsu
(212)343-8310
24398  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Rapid chest compression technique on: March 12, 2010, 01:48:27 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5huVSebZpM
24399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BO & China's Exchange Rate on: March 12, 2010, 11:49:29 AM

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., on March 11Summary
U.S. President Barack Obama on March 11 called for China to institute a “more market-oriented” exchange rate. This statement will hit a nerve in Beijing, which already faces major economic challenges and is concerned about the possibility of a U.S. containment policy targeting China.

Analysis
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke about the Chinese currency’s exchange rate while addressing the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s annual conference March 11. Among other things, Obama called for China to institute a “more market-oriented” exchange rate. Such talk will hit a raw nerve in China, where the leadership is already facing major economic challenges and is anxious about the prospect of increasing pressure from the Americans.

Obama’s speech, “Powering Jobs, Sales and Profits through Exports,” centered on his National Exports Initiative, the administration’s strategy to boost U.S.-made exports. With high unemployment a pressing problem as the U.S. administration attempts to manage an economic recovery during a year that includes mid-term congressional elections, Obama is promoting U.S. exports as a means of increasing job availability and making up for reduced consumption’s effects on growth. The U.S. Export-Import Bank is an agent of this strategy and has targeted Brazil, China, Mexico and India as countries with massive populations whose households and businesses could buy America’s high-value added goods, from specialized machinery, vehicles and equipment to entertainment products and Internet services. New free trade initiatives also are a component of this strategy, hence Obama’s call for the United States to press forward on free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that have been signed but not yet ratified.

In addressing ways to increase U.S. exports, Obama deliberately chose to enter into the intense debate over China’s currency policies, as they have long been a point of contention between the two states. Beijing uses a variety of internal controls to ensure currency only fluctuates within a narrow band in relation to a basket of foreign currencies, where the dollar is the most heavily weighted. The reason for fixing the exchange rate to the dollar is to provide favorable conditions for Chinese exporters when selling to the United States, the world’s largest consumer market and the destination for nearly 18 percent of China’s total exports.

Before 2005, the fixed exchange rate was a means by which China facilitated its export-driven economic growth and gained market share in the United States and several other markets. From 2005 to 2008 China allowed its currency to gradually appreciate by 20 percent against the U.S. dollar in an attempt to alleviate inflationary pressures, restructure the economy (by increasing domestic purchasing power and weeding out uncompetitive enterprises) and deflect foreign criticism that the currency was undervalued to give Chinese businesses an unfair advantage over foreign rivals. But since the global financial crisis in late 2008, China has essentially “re-pegged” its currency to the U.S. dollar to preserve the best possible conditions for its exporters during a time of trouble due to weak foreign demand.

From the U.S. and European point of view, however, China’s maintaining the de facto currency peg is an unfair advantage for Chinese exporters, and this — not to mention Beijing’s other subsidies and rebates for exporters — is especially problematic during an economic downturn. The United States and Europe claim China’s practices are aggravating problems for American and European manufacturers and hurting employment. They also point out that China’s economy is growing rapidly and exports have shown growth since December 2009. In February, exports grew by nearly 45.7 percent compared to February 2009, the trough of the global recession, and by 8.2 percent compared to February 2008.

Moreover, Obama’s campaign to boost American exports has specifically targeted China, with bilateral trade negotiations ongoing despite the rhetorical harping on trade disputes. Obama wants to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China and open more of the 1.3 billion-person Chinese market. Chinese currency appreciation would not only ease competition against American manufacturers but also increase Chinese imports of American goods (since a stronger currency increases Chinese people’s purchasing power).

Even the Chinese themselves have emphasized repeatedly the need to promote domestic consumption, especially household consumption, as a means of restructuring the economy to reduce dependency on exports and develop more self-sustaining growth. However, the problem is complicated. A stronger currency will hurt export businesses and export-related employment — and the last thing China needs at the moment is slower growth and higher unemployment in the coastal manufacturing hubs that drive the rest of the economy (even though currency appreciation would benefit Chinese businesses that are reliant on imports or want to invest abroad). Though recent export growth has caused some in China to fear inflationary pressures and call for currency appreciation, Chinese leaders have stated repeatedly — most especially during the ongoing annual National People’s Congress session — that they intend to keep the exchange rate stable, lest they weaken the export sector, delete the government stimulus package and undercut economic recovery and growth. Hence the Chinese are moving very cautiously on the problem of currency appreciation.

For this reason, Obama’s comments will strike Chinese leaders as a direct attack. Not that it comes as a surprise. Beijing has been wary of the Obama administration’s stance on this issue — and other trade issues — since U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner first said China was “manipulating” its currency (a phrase laden with legal ramifications) during his talk to the Senate before his approval as treasury secretary. Then, in September 2009, the Obama administration imposed tariffs on Chinese-made tires, invoking Section 421, a measure allowing U.S. protections against Chinese goods that China agreed to when it joined the World Trade Organization. With U.S. elections coming during a period of high unemployment, and trade disputes and deeper disagreements over economic policy already flaring, Beijing has begun to fear that Washington is planning to bring more pressure to bear, and is watching intently for the Treasury Department’s report on April 15 which could officially name China a “currency manipulator,” escalating tensions.

But Chinese anxieties have a still deeper source. Beijing fears the United States is making early movements to contain China’s economic power and prevent its military and political power from increasing. In particular, China has observed recent U.S. moves to expand relations with East Asian states on China’s periphery and sees this as the nascent period of a containment policy against China. Trade appears to be an important component of this strategy, for instance with the United States formally opening up avenues for investment with Cambodia and Laos, or initiating diplomatic contact with Myanmar, in 2009. More importantly, Obama is traveling to Australia in March to launch the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade zone that would include Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam and counter China’s trade agreements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Obama is also traveling to Indonesia on the same trip, to strengthen bilateral ties.

From the Chinese point of view, U.S. pressure on its currency policy can be seen as only one aspect of what could be an overall assault on China’s rising economic power and influence. However, Beijing knows Washington is constrained in its foreign policy as long as it remains tied up in wars in the Middle East. It will therefore move quickly to prepare itself for more direct U.S. competition, diversify away from dependency on exports (especially exports to the United States), secure its lines of supply for critical goods and solidify its influence in its near abroad.
24400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Russia's Great Power Strategy-4 on: March 12, 2010, 11:31:04 AM
Summary
Russia is working to form an understanding with regional powers outside the former Soviet sphere in order to facilitate its plans to expand its influence in key former Soviet states. These regional powers — Germany, France, Turkey and Poland — could halt Russia’s consolidation of control if they chose to, so Moscow is working to make neutrality, if not cooperation, worth their while.

Editor’s note: This is part four of a four-part series in which STRATFOR examines Russia’s efforts to exert influence beyond its borders.


Today’s Russia cannot simply roll tanks over the territories it wants included in its sphere of influence. Its consolidation of control in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia would be difficult, if not impossible, if Moscow faced opposition from an array of forces. Moscow’s resurgence in its old Soviet turf is possible because the United States is distracted with issues in the Islamic world, but also because regional powers surrounding Russia are not unified in opposition to the Kremlin.

Moscow is working to cultivate an understanding with regional powers outside the former Soviet Union that are critical to its expansion: Germany, France, Turkey and Poland. If these countries committed to halting Russia’s resurgence, Moscow would be stymied. This is why Russia is determined to develop an understanding — if not also a close cooperative relationship — with each of these countries that will clearly delineate the Russian sphere of influence, give each country incentive to cooperate and warn each country about opposing Moscow openly.

This is not a new policy for Russia. Especially before the Cold War with the West, Moscow traditionally had a nuanced policy of alliances and understandings. Germany and Russia have cooperated many times; Russia was one of the German Empire’s first true allies, through the Dreikaiserbund, and was the only country to cooperate with post-Versailles Germany with the 1922 Treaty of Rapallo. Russia was also France’s first ally after the 1870 Franco-Prussian war — an alliance whose main purpose was to isolate Germany.

Russia’s history with modern Turkey (and its ancestor the Ottoman Empire) and Poland admittedly has far fewer examples of cooperation. Russia throughout the 19th century coveted territory held by the crumbling Ottoman Empire — especially around the Black Sea and in the Balkans — and had plans for dominating Poland. Currently, however, Moscow understands that the two regional powers with most opportunities to subvert its resurgence are Poland (in Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states) and Turkey (in the Caucasus).





(click to view map)

Germany
Germany is the most important regional power with which Russia wants to create an understanding. Berlin is the largest European economy, an economic and political leader within the European Union and a key market for Russian energy exports — with Russian natural gas exports filling 47 percent of Germany’s natural gas needs. German opposition to Russian consolidation in Eastern Europe would create problems, especially since Berlin could rally Central Europeans wary of Moscow to oppose Russia’s resurgence. However, Germany has offered little resistance to Russia’s increasing influence in Eastern Europe. In fact, it has primarily been Germany’s opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia that stymied Washington’s plans to push NATO’s boundaries further eastward.

If it chose to, Germany could become Russia’s greatest roadblock. It is geographically more of a threat than the United States, due to its position on the North European Plain and the Baltic Sea, and it is a leader in the European Union and could offer Ukraine and Belarus substantial political and economic alternatives to their ties to Russia. With this in mind, Russia has decided to make cooperation worthwhile for Berlin.

Russia’s Levers
Russia’s obvious lever in Germany is natural gas exports. Germany wants a reliable flow of energy, and it is not willing to suffer blackouts or freezing temperatures for the sake of a Western-oriented Ukraine or Georgia. Germany initially fumed in 2005 over Russian gas cutoffs to Ukraine, but later realized that it was much easier to make an arrangement with Russia and back off from supporting Ukraine’s Western ambitions. Moscow carefully managed subsequent Russian gas disputes with Ukraine to limit German exposure, and Berlin has since fully turned against Kiev, which it now sees as an unreliable transit route.

Germany is expanding its energy relationship with Russia, since the upcoming Nord Stream pipeline will not only make more natural gas available to German consumers and industry, it will also make Germany a key transit route for Russian gas. The Nord Stream pipeline project also suggests that Germany does not just want Russia’s gas; it wants to be Russia’s main distributor to Central Europe, which would give Berlin even more political power over its neighbors.

Russia has also very directly offered Germany a key role in the upcoming privatizations in Russia. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin personally has invited German businesses to invest in Russia. Putin also personally intervened in the General Motors Corp.-Opel dispute in 2009, offering to save Opel and German jobs — a move designed to curry favor with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before Germany’s September 2009 general elections.

Another prominent example of the budding economic relationship between Berlin and Moscow is German industrial giant Siemens’ decision to end its partnership with French nuclear giant Areva, to which it felt it would always be a junior partner, and begin cooperating with Russia’s Atomenergoprom. Siemens and Atomenergoprom will work together to develop nuclear power plants in Russia, Germany and other countries.

France
France and Germany are important partners for Russia because Moscow needs guarantees that its resurgence in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus will not face opposition from a united EU front. Initiatives such as the Swedish-Polish “Eastern Partnership” — which seeks to upgrade relations between the EU states and most former Soviet Union states — are seen as a threat to Moscow’s sphere of influence. The Kremlin feels it can keep these Central European initiatives from gaining steam by setting up informal understandings with Paris and Berlin.

France is a key part of this effort because Russia considers it — rightfully so — as the political leader of the European Union. Moscow therefore wants to secure a mutually beneficial relationship with Paris.

Russia’s Levers
Russia has less leverage over France than over any of the other regional powers discussed. In fact, Russia and France have few overlapping geopolitical interests. Historically, they have intersected occasionally in North Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, but contemporary Moscow is concentrating on its near abroad, not global dominance. France does not depend on trade with Russia for export revenue and is one of the few continental European powers not to depend on Russia for energy; 76 percent of France’s energy comes from nuclear power.

This is why Moscow is making every effort to offer Paris the appropriate “sweeteners,” many of which were agreed upon during Russian President Dmitri Medvedev’s visit to France on March 2. One of the most recent — and most notable — is a deal to purchase the $700 million French Mistral-class helicopter carrier. This would be the Russian military’s first major purchase of non-Russian technology and would give Russia a useful offensive weapon to put pressure on the Baltic states and the Caucasus (via the Black Sea). Russia has suggested that it may want to purchase four vessels in total for $2.2 billion — something that recession-hit Paris would be hard pressed to decline.

Russia has worked hard on getting energy-independent France involved in its energy projects. French energy behemoth Total owns a quarter of the enormous Barents Sea Shtokman gas field and on Feb. 5 reiterated its commitment to the project despite announced delays in production from 2013 to 2016. French energy company EDF is also negotiating entry into the South Stream natural gas pipeline, while energy company GDF Suez signed an agreement with Gazprom for a 9 percent stake in Nord Stream on March 2. Furthermore, France’s Societe Generale and Renault both have interests in Russia through ownership of Russian enterprises, and French train manufacturer Alstom has agreed to invest in Russia’s Transmashholding.

Finally, Russia knows how to play to France’s — particularly French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s — need to be the diplomatic center of attention. Russia gives France and Sarkozy the respect reserved for Europe’s leader, for example by allowing Sarkozy to negotiate and take credit for the peace deal that ended the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008. This is no small gesture from Paris’ perspective since France is constantly under pressure to prove its leadership mettle compared to the richer and more powerful Germany.

Turkey
Turkey is a rising regional power looking to expand its influence mainly along the lines of the former Ottoman Empire. Like an adolescent testing his or her own strengths and limitations, Turkey is not focused on any one area, but rather surveying the playing field. Moscow has allowed Turkey to become focused, however, on the negotiations with Armenia, presenting itself as a facilitator but in reality managing the negotiations behind the scenes.

Russia wants to manage its relationship with Turkey for two main reasons: to guarantee its dominance of the Caucasus and assure that Turkey remains committed to transporting Russia’s — rather than someone else’s — energy to Europe. Russia also wants to make sure that Turkey does not use its control of the Bosporus to close off the Black Sea to Russian trade, particularly oil exports from Novorossiysk.

Russia’s Levers
Moscow’s main lever with Ankara is energy. Turkey depends on Russia for 65 percent of its natural gas and 40 percent of its oil imports. Russia is also looking to expand its investments in Turkey, with refineries and nuclear power plants under discussion.

The second key lever is political. Moscow has encouraged Russian-dominated Armenia to entertain Turkish offers of negotiations. However, this has caused a rift between Turkey and its traditional ally Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan does not want to see Armenia and Turkey conclude their negotiations without first winning concessions from Armenia over the de facto Armenian controlled Nagorno-Karabakh region. The negotiation process — openly encouraged by Moscow — therefore has forced energy-rich Azerbaijan into Russia’s arms and strained the relationship between Ankara and Baku.

Russia has plenty of other levers on Turkey, trade being the most obvious. Turkey’s exports to Russia are considerable; 5 percent of its total exports in 2008 went to Russia (though that number dipped in 2009 due to the recession). Russia has cut this trade off before — like in August 2008, when Turkey and NATO held maneuvers in the Black Sea — as a warning to Ankara. Russia is also considering selling Turkey its advanced air defense system, the S-400.

Poland
The final regional power with which Russia wants an understanding is Poland. Poland may not be as powerful as the other three — either economically or politically — but it has considerable influence in Ukraine and Belarus and has taken it upon itself to champion expansion of the European Union eastward. Furthermore, the U.S. military could eventually use Poland as a base from which to threaten the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad along with Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic Sea. Moscow thus sees the U.S. plan to position a Patriot air defense battery — or any part of the BMD system — in Poland as a key threat.

Russia does not want to see the U.S.-Polish alliance blossom, allowing the United States — once it extricates itself from the Middle East — to reposition itself on Russia’s borders.

Russia’s Levers
The most obvious lever Russia has in Poland is energy. Poland imports around 57 percent of its natural gas from Russia, a number that is set to rise to more than 70 percent with the new Polish-Russian natural gas deal signed in January. Poland is also planning on switching a considerable part of its electricity production from coal to natural gas — in order to meet EU greenhouse gas emission standards — thus making Russian natural gas imports a key source of energy. Poland also imports more than 90 percent of its oil from Russia.

Poland, as a NATO member state, is under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. However, as Polish politicians often point out, NATO has offered very few real guarantees to Poland’s security. Russia maintains a considerable military presence in nearby Kaliningrad, with more than 200 aircraft, 23,000 troops and half of Russia’s Baltic fleet stationed between Poland and Lithuania. Russia has often used military exercises — such as the massive Zapad military maneuvers with Belarus in September 2009 — to put pressure on Poland and the Baltic states.

But despite a tense relationship, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has launched something of a charm offensive on Warsaw, and particularly on Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who is seen as much more pragmatic than the anti-Russian President Lech Kaczynski. Putin made a highly symbolic gesture by being present at the September 2009 ceremonies in Gdansk marking the 70th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland. He also addressed the Polish people in a letter published by Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza in which he condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, a nonaggression treaty between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Putin has also made a point to smooth relations between Poland and Russia on the issue of the Katyn massacre of Polish officers by Soviet troops in World War II, inviting Tusk to attend the first ever Russian-organized ceremonies marking the event.

The charm offensive is intended to outmaneuver the knee-jerk anti-Russians among the Polish elites and to make sure that Poland does not create problems for Russia in its efforts to expand influence in its near abroad. It is similar to the charm offensives the Soviet Union used that intended to illustrate to the European left and center-left that the Kremlin’s intentions were benign and that the right-wing “obsessions” about the Kremlin were irrational.

Ultimately, Moscow’s strategy is to assure that Germany, France, Turkey and Poland stay out of — or actively support — Russia’s consolidation efforts in the former Soviet sphere. Russia does not need the four powers to be its allies — although it certainly is moving in that direction with Germany (and possibly France). Rather, it hopes to reach an understanding with them on where the Russian sphere ends, and establish a border that is compatible with Russian interests.

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