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24401  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Monterrey casino firebombing on: August 31, 2011, 10:36:25 AM


Above the Tearline: Reconstructing the Monterrey Arson Attack from Surveillance Footage
August 31, 2011 | 1347 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton demonstrates how video surveillance footage is used to reconstruct the recent arson attack in Monterrey, Mexico.


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

In this week’s Above the Tearline, we’re going to show you how agents utilize video surveillance tape to reconstruct the crime using the recent casino fire in Monterrey, Mexico, as an example.

Let’s take a look at the first video, which takes place before the crime occurs. This is surveillance footage at a gas station, and you see the suspects have purchased gas that they have placed in the back of this pickup truck in these white barrels. Note that you could digitally enhance this and get a very good tag number. You also can get a make and model the vehicle, and notice the distinct clothing and attire on this one suspect on the right. And you’re going to have a good date time stamp as when this truck pulls out of the gas station.

This is our second video surveillance tape, and notice the truck that was at the gas station pulling out onto a public highway in Monterrey. So you’re going to be able to sync up the time of the gas purchase when the vehicle pulls out on the highway. I want you to note this vehicle up in the corner. It’s a mini — a white mini with black markings. It rolls in behind the pickup truck along the same route. This vehicle will subsequently show up at the crime scene as well.

Before I roll the tape here, you will see a third vehicle rolling in behind the mini that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well. So you have the truck leading the convoy; you have the mini; and now you have a third vehicle in the mix right here. You’ll see a fourth vehicle that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well.

Our next video is taken from a security camera at the casino. Notice you’ll have the first, second and third suspect vehicles already pulled up into the parking lot, and it will be quickly followed by a fourth vehicle — right here — that I’m going to show you. Now you have all four of the vehicles seen on the highway, and you have the truck that had purchased the gasoline earlier in the videotape on the scene. You’ll see the suspects start to deploy out. As we roll the videotape, you’ll see individuals carry the cans of gasoline from the bed of the truck into the actual casino. Notice here also the countersurveillance elements here. You’ll have the security arm of the cartel members — in this case believed to be Zetas — on the scene of the attack site. They’re watching. They’re looking for cops, no doubt. You’ll see the first mini — these guys are getting kind of antsy; they’re wanting to move on. You’ll see the black smoke start to billow, and, pretty soon, the actual video footage is going to be obscured completely by the smoke billowing out.

Let’s take a look at a photograph from the crime scene from a different perspective. The video surveillance camera that we had seen where the video was shot was up in this area shooting downward. You can see the upward turn of the driveway. So the suspects came in from this direction and pulled this way. You’ll see the windows that had been broken, probably by the fire department for ventilation to let the smoke clear.

The Above the Tearline aspect with this video footage is the significant value that security videotape has to help you piece together the elements of the crime. There is also the tactical ramifications. You know they’re going to have additional attacks tomorrow or the next day in Mexico, and the police and the military can study this to learn the Zeta methodology when they go to carry out a similar attack down the road.

24402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Monterrey casino firebombing on: August 31, 2011, 10:35:29 AM
Stratfor

Above the Tearline: Reconstructing the Monterrey Arson Attack from Surveillance Footage
August 31, 2011 | 1347 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton demonstrates how video surveillance footage is used to reconstruct the recent arson attack in Monterrey, Mexico.


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

In this week’s Above the Tearline, we’re going to show you how agents utilize video surveillance tape to reconstruct the crime using the recent casino fire in Monterrey, Mexico, as an example.

Let’s take a look at the first video, which takes place before the crime occurs. This is surveillance footage at a gas station, and you see the suspects have purchased gas that they have placed in the back of this pickup truck in these white barrels. Note that you could digitally enhance this and get a very good tag number. You also can get a make and model the vehicle, and notice the distinct clothing and attire on this one suspect on the right. And you’re going to have a good date time stamp as when this truck pulls out of the gas station.

This is our second video surveillance tape, and notice the truck that was at the gas station pulling out onto a public highway in Monterrey. So you’re going to be able to sync up the time of the gas purchase when the vehicle pulls out on the highway. I want you to note this vehicle up in the corner. It’s a mini — a white mini with black markings. It rolls in behind the pickup truck along the same route. This vehicle will subsequently show up at the crime scene as well.

Before I roll the tape here, you will see a third vehicle rolling in behind the mini that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well. So you have the truck leading the convoy; you have the mini; and now you have a third vehicle in the mix right here. You’ll see a fourth vehicle that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well.

Our next video is taken from a security camera at the casino. Notice you’ll have the first, second and third suspect vehicles already pulled up into the parking lot, and it will be quickly followed by a fourth vehicle — right here — that I’m going to show you. Now you have all four of the vehicles seen on the highway, and you have the truck that had purchased the gasoline earlier in the videotape on the scene. You’ll see the suspects start to deploy out. As we roll the videotape, you’ll see individuals carry the cans of gasoline from the bed of the truck into the actual casino. Notice here also the countersurveillance elements here. You’ll have the security arm of the cartel members — in this case believed to be Zetas — on the scene of the attack site. They’re watching. They’re looking for cops, no doubt. You’ll see the first mini — these guys are getting kind of antsy; they’re wanting to move on. You’ll see the black smoke start to billow, and, pretty soon, the actual video footage is going to be obscured completely by the smoke billowing out.

Let’s take a look at a photograph from the crime scene from a different perspective. The video surveillance camera that we had seen where the video was shot was up in this area shooting downward. You can see the upward turn of the driveway. So the suspects came in from this direction and pulled this way. You’ll see the windows that had been broken, probably by the fire department for ventilation to let the smoke clear.

The Above the Tearline aspect with this video footage is the significant value that security videotape has to help you piece together the elements of the crime. There is also the tactical ramifications. You know they’re going to have additional attacks tomorrow or the next day in Mexico, and the police and the military can study this to learn the Zeta methodology when they go to carry out a similar attack down the road.

24403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Words fail , , , on: August 31, 2011, 10:22:33 AM
Tis a rare event, but I am speechless , , ,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUj-m6Gq_2Y&feature=player_embedded
24404  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Overcrowding in CA prisons on: August 31, 2011, 08:24:52 AM


http://www.aele.org/law/2011all09/2011-09MLJ301.pdf
24405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Regulatory costs on: August 31, 2011, 08:17:23 AM


Among the core assumptions of modern liberalism is that future regulations have no more effect on the economy than future taxes, as if expectations don't matter and businesses don't prepare now for their costs tomorrow. President Obama's letter to John Boehner yesterday is a classic of the genre.

Last week the Speaker asked the White House to disclose any federal rules in the works with economic costs of $1 billion or more. Proposed or final rule-makings are defined as "major" when their estimated annual costs exceed $100 million. The Obama regulatory agenda for 2011 contains 219 such items. Last year, that figure was 191, versus the combined total for the first two years of the Bush Administration of 103. Amid this surge, Mr. Boehner's underlying point was that the regulatory ambitions of the Obamanauts are redefining "major," much in the way trillion is the new billion for government spending.

Mr. Obama responded by identifying seven pending major rules topping $1 billion, like the Department of Transportation's federal motor vehicle safety standard No. 111 for rearview mirrors ($3 billion) and the Environmental Protection Agency's ozone regulations (as much as $90 billion). But even that understates the costs, as Mr. Obama explains at length. The regulatory agenda is "merely a list of rules that are under general contemplation" and "merely proposed" and "includes a large number of rules that are in a highly preliminary state, with no reliable cost estimate."

In other words, regulations that the Administration plans to issue don't count. The President's health-care plan doesn't affect hiring because it doesn't really kick in until 2014, and the Dodd-Frank financial reregulation isn't a drag on lending because no one knows what dozens of agencies may do, except that it will be very expensive.

Mr. Obama adds that "it is extremely important to minimize regulatory burdens and to avoid unjustified regulatory costs." That "unjustified" is doing a lot of work in that sentence, but we'll merely note that you can't minimize or avoid them if you pretend they don't exist until they formally enter the Federal Register.

24406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: DOJ gets into the race-baiting act on: August 31, 2011, 08:10:34 AM


By MARY KISSEL
Talk about not learning from past mistakes: A government department is again intimidating banks into lending to minority borrowers at below-market rates, all in the name of combating "discrimination." Welcome to the next housing mess.

The 1990s may have brought us supercharged politicized lending, but Eric Holder's Department of Justice is taking the game to an entirely new level, and then some. The weapon is a "fair lending" unit created in early 2010, led by special counsel Eric Halperin and overseen by Civil Rights Division head Thomas Perez.

A sampling of Mr. Perez's thinking, from April 2010 congressional testimony: "The foreclosure crisis has touched virtually every community in this country, but it disproportionately touches communities of color, in particular African-Americans and Latinos." And: "[C]ross burnings are the most overt form of discrimination and bigotry. Lending discrimination is some of the most subtle. It's what I call discrimination with a smile."

Even for the Obama administration's antidiscrimination cops, this is a shocker: A political appointee who's supposed to neutrally enforce the law loosely equates bankers with Klu Klux Klan thugs. But let's move from what may be Mr. Perez's personal bias, and focus on the broader brush strokes of the Justice Department—which seem designed to paint bankers into a corner.

Lenders who discriminate on the basis of race and those who make decisions on the basis of credit scores are two entirely different animals. The former our society doesn't permit, for moral reasons; the latter we encourage because it's fundamental to capitalism. A lender will go bust if he can't distinguish between a risky loan and a good loan. Poor people aren't well-served by getting loans they can't afford.

Historically, fair-lending cases have fallen into roughly two categories: "price discrimination" cases, in which lenders are accused of charging minorities higher prices than other clients, and "red-lining" suits, in which they are accused of intentionally failing to serve minority communities. Sounds straightforward for those who seek to obey the law.

View Full Image

AFP/Getty Images
 
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez testifies before a Senate committee on civil rights, March 29.
.But not when Justice revives "disparate impact" theory: the idea that even if lenders don't actively discriminate, they can still be sued if the cumulative effect of their actions implies discrimination. The latter is usually "proved" through statistical analysis (and the old standard—discriminatory intent—is thrown out the window). The Bush administration largely declined to pursue these cases.

And for good reason. Consider two AIG subsidiaries that Justice alleged "failed to supervise or monitor brokers in setting broker fees" between 2003 and 2006, but that Justice didn't pursue aggressively until the Obama administration. The government claimed that, in aggregate, African-Americans were charged more than other ethnic groups. AIG settled in March 2010 while it was under federal ownership, and Mr. Perez gained a big legal stick in price-discrimination cases. Suddenly lenders may be held liable for other people's business practices, even if those business practices aren't individually discriminatory.

Justice is pushing the legal envelope on red-lining, too. In a July 1 letter to Cardinal Financial Corp., Justice contends that after the bank bought George Mason Mortgage in 2004, it "failed to serve predominantly black areas on an equal basis with predominantly white areas" by not opening branches in majority-black areas or engaging in "effective outreach activities." Justice wants the bank to add nine counties to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-approved geographic area where Cardinal does business.

Related Video
 Editorial writer Mary Kissel on Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
..Never mind that the FDIC in the past gave kudos to Cardinal for its lending practices. Justice is now accusing Cardinal of failing to open branches and achieve racial loan quotas in counties that its federal regulator never before contended should be the focus of its lending. We won't know the full facts of this complaint unless it goes to court. But what Justice is up to sounds like the same government-directed, quota-based lending push that brought us the last housing boom and bust.

Many companies are simply rolling over and paying once they realize the extent of the possible PR horror show. "Banker" is a bad word in today's political environment. Small and midsize banks depend heavily on their reputation and community ties, and they can't afford to be labelled racist. Many can't afford prolonged legal cases either, and the mere prospect of fighting the feds is intimidating. Mr. Perez knows all this.

Justice is employing some unusual tactics, too, including asking banks to sign confidentiality agreements in certain circumstances. Independent Community Bankers of America chief lobbyist Camden Fine complained in a letter to Mr. Holder Monday about this practice and its "troubling lack of transparency," adding that it's hard for banks to "assess and refine" their practices if they don't know Justice's legal arguments.

But Justice is on a roll. In less than two years, the government has settled with AIG ($6.1 million), PrimeLending ($2 million), Midwest BankCentre ($1.5 million) and Citizens Republic Bancorp ($3.5 million), to name a few. More cases are in the hopper, and bigger banks are now in Justice's sights.

All of this may boost the standing of Messrs. Perez and Halperin in the Obama administration. It's less good for the rest of us. These settlements include requirements that banks lend to minorities at below-market rates and, in effect, dish out cash to politically favored "community groups." It's a good bet that many of these loans will eventually go bad.

The Justice Department—or the bank, with the long arm of Justice hanging over it—chooses where that money goes. A Michigan judge even went so far as to call one proposed settlement "extortion." He might be onto something.

Ms. Kissel is a member of the Journal's editorial board.

24407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: An infrastructure Fannie Mae on: August 31, 2011, 08:06:57 AM

Here's a novel idea: Have Congress create a "bank" that could borrow huge sums with only a small federal outlay and would be independent of any political interference. If you believe in this miracle, you probably thought Fannie Mae was a private company that wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime.

We're referring to Washington's latest marketing tool to sell spending to a skeptical public, a new federal "infrastructure bank." For the low, low price of $30 billion or so, President Obama says Congress can conjure hundreds of billions in new "grants and loans" to rebuild "roads, bridges, and ports and broadband lines and smart grids."

He says the bank would put "all those construction workers" back to work and "be good for the economy not just for next year or the year after that, but for the next 20 or 30 years." In a cats and dogs living together moment, the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO are both in favor. Since both unions and construction companies would be beneficiaries, this alone ought to give taxpayers pause.

This is the Fannie Mae model applied to public works. The new bank would be a government-sponsored enterprise, or GSE, whether or not anyone admits it. The bank would have an implicit subsidy for its debt because it is backed by the government. And the debt it issued would be "off-budget," which means it wouldn't show up in annual outlays. When she first proposed the concept in 2008, Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro explicitly described the bank as a "public private partnership like Fannie Mae."

Such an outfit will inevitably be politicized, as similar examples have been all over the world. Japan's postal bank has been used for decades to finance public works. Japan's roads and bridges are grand but its economy has grown little in 20 years. Agribanks, regional development banks, Brazil's BNDES national bank have all become vehicles for the political allocation of credit.

Ms. DeLauro's bill admits as much, stating that the bank must take into account the "economic, environmental, social benefits and costs" of the projects seeking financial assistance. Among the considerations: responsible employment practices, use of renewable energy, reduction in carbon emissions, poverty and inequality reduction, training for low-income workers and public health benefits.

No one disputes that American public works need improving, and government has been spending huge sums to do so. As the nearby table shows, between 2001 and 2011 federal "public physical capital investment outlays" more than doubled to $330 billion from $142 billion. Every major area of infrastructure—transportation, Army Corps of Engineers, energy—is up by at least 75% in a decade.

The scandal is that we buy so little brick and mortar with all this money. Earmarking has wasted billions and is an inevitable byproduct of a system that collects federal taxes and allows Congressmen to send it back to their districts. The bank is supposed to eliminate earmarking, but the Members will surely find a way to influence the bank's lending too.

Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro described the infrastructure bank as a 'public private partnership like Fannie Mae.'

Taxpayers also get less for their money because federal projects must follow Davis-Bacon Act rules that require "prevailing wages." This law has come to mean de facto union wages on all public projects, inflating costs by 10% to 30%, depending on the project and location. Democrats and Republicans both refuse to relax Davis-Bacon rules, and the infrastructure bank would require them. The bank would also divert dollars to the mass transit lobby, which favors rail projects that serve a tiny fraction of commuters.

Instead of a Washington-centric bank that picks winners and losers, Congress would be wise to move in the opposite direction: devolving most public-works decisions to the state and local levels so users decide whether they want to finance a new school, bridge or water system. The feds can focus on maintaining the interstate highway system and then let states and localities choose what to fund. Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and others have bills that would let states opt out of the federal highway program in return for getting back the federal gas tax money that its residents send to Washington.

GOP Congressman John Mica of Florida, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is no fan of a federal infrastructure bank. He says he wants more state and local control of funds because "that way they won't have to come to Washington to get approval."

Mr. Mica is dealing with a reality that eludes many in both parties: With a $1.28 trillion deficit, Uncle Sam can't afford to keep serving as paymaster to states and localities. The infrastructure bank is merely a new gimmick to maintain the old system.

24408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Solar energy-- As surely as the sun rises in the west, on: August 31, 2011, 08:00:33 AM
This could just as easily have gone in the Liberal Fascism thread:

By RYAN TRACY
With solar panel prices falling and a prominent manufacturer in bankruptcy, the U.S. solar industry has been hard-pressed for good news. But Washington continues to hand out loan guarantees.

The Department of Energy says the guarantees will create U.S. jobs in the green-energy industry. But critics say the government is trying to pick winners instead of leaving that function to the marketplace, citing the struggles of several companies that received government funds.
 
SoloPower plans to use a $197 million federal loan guarantee for expansion. Above, one of the company's modules is installed on a roof.

The White House this month made final a $197 million guarantee for SoloPower Inc., a maker of lightweight solar panels in San Jose, Calif. Two more guarantees for solar manufacturers valued at a combined $425 million are due to be approved before a Sept. 30 deadline.

The funding comes from the 2009 economic-stimulus package, which set aside enough cash to back about $60 billion in loans for renewable energy and transmission projects. Congress twice has raided those funds, leaving enough to back $25 billion in loans. The DOE has until the Sept. 30 end of the federal government's fiscal year to dole out the funds or lose them.

While demand for solar panels is rising, competition from Chinese manufacturers has driven down prices and made it hard for U.S. makers to compete.

Evergreen Solar Inc. this month filed for bankruptcy protection after closing a Massachusetts plant built with the help of state and local subsidies. Evergreen's panel technology, which uses less polysilicon than competitors do, looked like a good bet in 2008, when prices of the material were high. Polysilicon's price has plummeted since.

Solyndra Inc., which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the DOE to build a factory in northern California in 2009, last year had to close an older factory and lay off workers.

Some European countries subsidize solar power and other renewable energy sources by guaranteeing producers electricity rates that will help offset the producers' costs, which are then passed on to consumers. But proposals for such "feed-in tariffs" in the U.S. have stalled at the federal level.

Jesse Pichel, a clean-energy analyst at investment bank Jefferies & Co., said feed-in tariffs would give market forces a greater role in picking winning technologies. "The government really should not be picking technology bets," Mr. Pichel said. "It's fraught with potential failures."

The DOE acknowledges that loan guarantees don't always pan out but are worthwhile nonetheless. "While not every company will succeed in this competitive industry, we believe that solar generation and manufacturing play a vital role in helping America win the clean energy race," said DOE spokesman Damien LaVera.

To compete with larger manufacturers in China, SoloPower is targeting a niche of commercial and industrial buildings. The company's panels are lighter and potentially less expensive to install on rooftops because they are built without glass, said Chief Executive Tim Harris. "You want to get as much power per roof as you can. We can simply get more panels on the roof," he said.

SoloPower will use the government-backed loan to build a plant in Portland, Ore., and to expand a factory in San Jose, Calif. The company expects the plants to employ 450 people at full production.

Without the guarantee, "the jobs would have ended up offshore, almost certainly," Mr. Harris said. "I don't think there would have been any way to get this financing here in the states."

As the loan-guarantee program runs out of stimulus funds, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are looking for changes.

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.) has said the loan-guarantee program "has not worked as well as we had hoped." The program, set up by Congress in 2005, didn't receive major funding until 2009.

Mr. Bingaman has introduced a bill to create an independently run clean-energy bank that could make direct loans or take a stake in projects. In theory, it would sustain itself after receiving about $10 billion in start-up funds from Congress. The full Energy Committee approved the proposal in July, but it still lacks a funding mechanism and has yet to be taken up on the Senate floor.

24409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Desperately seeking transparency in oil and other commodities on: August 31, 2011, 07:55:21 AM
No mention here of the unusually low margin rates , , ,
===================

By IANTHE JEANNE DUGAN And LIAM PLEVIN
A battle is heating up over whether investors in oil and other commodities markets should be required to lift the veil of secrecy that shrouds their trading bets.

The debate has simmered in the three years since oil prices spiked to record highs in 2008, sparking concerns that speculators were driving the move. But it intensified in recent weeks after The Wall Street Journal published confidential regulatory data that identified some of the biggest players in commodities markets, and big chunks of their positions, during that historic rally.

Unlike the stock market, there are no rules mandating public disclosure of commodities positions held by investors.

Industry groups representing traders in the market have opposed releasing any data that would expose the identities and positions of any firm or individual in the commodities markets because they say it would unfairly give away their trading strategies. They have called for a probe into how the information became public.

Others have seized on the data to push for more transparency, including the release of such information on a regular basis.

Tyson Slocum, a member of an advisory committee to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and director of the energy group at advocacy organization Public Citizen, is leading a push to force commodities investors to publicly disclose the size and nature of their trading positions.

View Full Image

TKence France-Presse/Getty Images
 
The debate over the role of investors exploded again this year when oil once again topped $100 a barrel and the Obama administration in April launched an inquiry into oil-market speculation. Above, oil pumps in operation near central Los Angeles, Calif, in June.
.On Wednesday, Mr. Slocum plans to release a letter to members of Congress, as well as CFTC commissioners, seeking regular disclosure of data.

"We feel that regular disclosure of this level of data serves a crucial role in keeping markets transparent and providing critical information to decision makers and the public," Mr. Slocum said.

His group is pressing the CFTC and lawmakers to make this kind of disclosure mandatory, similar to how the Federal Reserve releases minutes of meetings within a certain time period.

Chilling Effect
Many people who buy and sell securities tied to oil, however, say that releasing the data could be harmful to their trading strategies and could prompt some to reduce their activity, having a potentially chilling effect on the market.

The Futures Industry Association has said that the release of the 2008 data "poses a serious threat" to the confidence of those in the market, who believed they were reporting their positions to regulators privately. The association said it will ask the CFTC to investigate whether any of its rules governing the handling of confidential data have been violated.

A CFTC spokesman declined to comment.

The CFTC collected the data during a "special call" in 2008, when it was attempting to figure out what was causing swings in the price of securities tied to oil. It used the data as the basis for a controversial report that concluded that supply and demand was behind the gyrations, not investors who neither produce nor consume oil on a large scale—a group critics call "speculators."

Rare View
The list contained more than 200 firms and traders, ranging from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Yale University to a Danish pension fund, giving a rare view into the murky world of commodities trading.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has distributed the CFTC information, is among lawmakers pushing regulators to limit investments in oil securities by speculators.

Keeping the names private, some argue, leaves the public at a disadvantage.

Amy Myers-Jaffe, a Rice University professor who co-wrote a report questioning the CFTC's methodology for weighing the impact of speculators, said the names of commodity investors should be made public information. "The only people who don't know who's in the commodities market is the public," Ms. Myers-Jaffe said. "I wouldn't hold my deposit in a bank with a giant position in the oil market. It could change on a dime with a shift in geopolitical position," she added

The debate over the role of investors exploded again this year when oil once again topped $100 a barrel and the Obama administration in April launched an inquiry into oil-market speculation.

Oil prices have since fallen again, and settled Tuesday up 1.9%, at $88.90 a barrel. But prices remain a concern for policy makers focused on how to stimulate economic growth, because of they can act as a drag on economic activity.

Write to Ianthe Jeanne Dugan at ianthe.dugan@wsj.com and Liam Plevin at liam.plevin@wsj.com

24410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson, 1791 on the General Welfare clause on: August 31, 2011, 07:27:10 AM
"They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please." --Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on National Bank, 1791
24411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison to Monroe, 1786 on the limits of the principle of majority rule on: August 31, 2011, 07:18:30 AM


"There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.... In fact it is only reestablishing under another name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right...." --James Madison, letter to James Monroe, 1786


24412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The coverup continues , , , on: August 31, 2011, 07:03:55 AM


http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/gunwalker-cover-up-accelerates-ken-melson-reassigned/?singlepage=true
24413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Negotiations with the Taliban on: August 31, 2011, 06:15:58 AM
The Afghan Taliban's Strategic Conciliatory Turn

Afghanistan’s Taliban movement was negotiating directly with the United States until the nervous regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai used media leaks to disrupt the talks in June, an AP report claimed Monday, quoting unnamed American and Afghan officials.

The AP report said negotiations were taking place not just with Tayyeb Agha, a representative of Taliban founder and chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, but also with Ibrahim Haqqani, the brother of Jalaluddin Haqqani, head of the so-called Haqqani Network — the branch of the Afghan jihadist movement active in the country’s east. Normally STRATFOR takes such reports with a strong dose of skepticism, but in a highly unusual communique, Mullah Omar himself confirmed that his group had been in negotiations with Washington.

“In today’s message, the Taliban chief referred to the Islamic Emirate as a non-state actor with no interest in ‘monopolizing power.’”
In a lengthy message on the occasion of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the Taliban leader claimed that the talks were not aimed at reaching a political settlement but intended to secure the release of prisoners. More importantly, Mullah Omar went on to justify negotiations as a legitimate means of trying to establish his group’s vision of an Islamic polity in the country. Thus far the Taliban position has been to seek the re-establishment of their regime, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, toppled by the United States in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

In today’s message, the Taliban chief referred to the Islamic Emirate as a non-state actor with no interest in “monopolizing power.” In fact, Mullah Omar said that all ethnic groups (including the non-Pashtun minorities of the north who are the historic enemies of the Taliban) would be part of a post-NATO Afghan government. The Taliban chief added that a future coalition government would not allow the developments that followed the collapse of communism — a time he categorized as when the country was roundly plundered and the state apparatus damaged entirely. “Strict measures will be taken to safeguard all national installations, government departments and the advancements that have occurred in the private sector,” he said.

A man known as a key international symbol for violent extremism, Mullah Omar also talked about economics, saying that his country had abundant arable land, rich mines and large energy resources with high potential. He said these resources could be invested under peaceful and stable circumstances and could help Afghanistan overcome poverty, unemployment and the social and economic problems arising from the economic ills. Clearly, this statement stands in sharp contrast to past communiques by Mullah Omar that have been heavy on ideological rhetoric while warning opponents of his jihadist militia’s capability for violence. So, why this major shift in attitude?

The answer involves the Taliban’s emerging realization that as the United States and its NATO allies begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, they are leaving behind a country far different from the one the Soviets left when they withdrew. If the communist state that the Soviets left behind was able to hold its own for three years before the much larger and more well-endowed Islamist insurgent alliance was able to topple it, then the Taliban realize that they face an even greater challenge with the Karzai regime. Even after they push Western forces out of the country, the Taliban are expecting a prolonged civil war with their opponents before they can regain power.

Assuming that scenario occurs, the Taliban would still be considered a global pariah with intense international isolation. Indeed, the group remembers how the country was sanctioned during their first stint in power. By opting for negotiations, the Taliban, who remain the single largest political force in the country, hope to dominate a post-NATO political dispensation and avoid international isolation. This tactic does not mean that the Taliban are moderating; rather they are adjusting to constraints that limit their ability to achieve their goals of resurging to power.

24414  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Pol?tica on: August 31, 2011, 06:12:43 AM
Venezuela - Chávez meets with Russian Minister; produces action plan for bilateral cooperation

On 24 August 2011 Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergery Lavrov to produce a Plan of Action outlining the two nations’ bilateral cooperation efforts through 2014. Discussions centered on a US$4 billion loan to equip the National Armed Forces and improve Venezuelan defense capabilities, including a modern air-defense system based on Russian technology. Also discussed was the expansion of the joint Venezuelan-Russian bank to finance bilateral socioeconomic development projects with allies as a counterpart to the World Bank.

Venezuela – Iran; Venezuela begin construction of petrochemical complex in Iran

On 21 August 2011, The Managing Director of the National Iranian Petrochemical Organization Abdolhossein Bayat stated that Iran and Venezuela began construction of a petrochemical complex in Bushehr, Iran, pursuant to an agreement signed in October 2010. The agreement stipulates that Venezuelan oil company PDVSA will be able to participate in the Iranian South Pars natural gas field. The two countries are discussing a similar construction project in Venezuela
24415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Venezuela on: August 31, 2011, 06:12:01 AM


Venezuela - Chávez meets with Russian Minister; produces action plan for bilateral cooperation

On 24 August 2011 Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergery Lavrov to produce a Plan of Action outlining the two nations’ bilateral cooperation efforts through 2014. Discussions centered on a US$4 billion loan to equip the National Armed Forces and improve Venezuelan defense capabilities, including a modern air-defense system based on Russian technology. Also discussed was the expansion of the joint Venezuelan-Russian bank to finance bilateral socioeconomic development projects with allies as a counterpart to the World Bank.

MARC:  Perhaps this sheds some light on recent moves by Chavez to move Venezuelan reserves , , ,  Note a word from our State Dept or the White House about Russian military sales in the western hemisphere , , , perhaps the fact that we no rely upon Russia to get the majority of our supplies to our troops in Afghanistan has something to do with this?

Venezuela – Iran; Venezuela begin construction of petrochemical complex in Iran

On 21 August 2011, The Managing Director of the National Iranian Petrochemical Organization Abdolhossein Bayat stated that Iran and Venezuela began construction of a petrochemical complex in Bushehr, Iran, pursuant to an agreement signed in October 2010. The agreement stipulates that Venezuelan oil company PDVSA will be able to participate in the Iranian South Pars natural gas field. The two countries are discussing a similar construction project in Venezuela
24416  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Operaciones del ejercito Mexicano en los EU?!? on: August 31, 2011, 06:07:40 AM
www.southernpulse.com


Mexico - President Calderon calls for U.S. action following attack in Monterrey

Following the attack on Casino Royal, which killed more than 50 in Monterrey on 25 August 2011, Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed the nation on 26 August 2011, condemning the attacks and calling them acts of terrorism. Calderon placed some blame on the United States, citing the fact that the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of drugs and leading weapons retailer, stating that these activities finance the criminal activity plaguing Mexico. Calderon implored both the U.S. President and Congress to take action to prevent the transfer of profits from drug sales back to Mexico and also to curb the criminal sale of high-powered assault rifles.

MARC:  Pues hay que hablar con nuestro Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, and Firearms con respeto al ultimo frase.  angry

Mexico - U.S. increases role in war against drugs in Mexico

The United States is expanding their role in the war on drugs in Mexico, allowing Mexican authorities to stage cross border helicopter raids in the U.S., in addition to staging drones to eavesdrop on cartel’s cell phone communications and to capture video of drug processing labs and smuggling units. While U.S. authorities maintain these are not joint operations, rather Mexican operations staged in U.S. territory, cooperation is increasing despite historical tensions between the two nations.

MARC:  !Eso me parece increible,; no tengamos ninguna noticicia al respeto aqui!

89102
24417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Southern Pulse.com: Mexican Army operations on US soil?!?!?!?!? on: August 31, 2011, 06:03:16 AM
Mexico - President Calderon calls for U.S. action following attack in Monterrey

Following the attack on Casino Royal, which killed more than 50 in Monterrey on 25 August 2011, Mexican President Felipe Calderon addressed the nation on 26 August 2011, condemning the attacks and calling them acts of terrorism. Calderon placed some blame on the United States, citing the fact that the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of drugs and leading weapons retailer, stating that these activities finance the criminal activity plaguing Mexico. Calderon implored both the U.S. President and Congress to take action to prevent the transfer of profits from drug sales back to Mexico and also to curb the criminal sale of high-powered assault rifles.

MARC: Better talk to the BATF about the last point , , ,

Mexico - U.S. increases role in war against drugs in Mexico

The United States is expanding their role in the war on drugs in Mexico, allowing Mexican authorities to stage cross border helicopter raids in the U.S., in addition to staging drones to eavesdrop on cartel’s cell phone communications and to capture video of drug processing labs and smuggling units. While U.S. authorities maintain these are not joint operations, rather Mexican operations staged in U.S. territory, cooperation is increasing despite historical tensions between the two nations.
24418  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Prayer and Daily Expression of Gratitude on: August 31, 2011, 05:57:34 AM
Prayers for a particular piece of news , , ,
24419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / As the gun cycles; more Fast & Furious on: August 30, 2011, 05:11:37 PM


Acting Director Melson and the AZ US Attorney are out:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011...urious-uproar/


Quote:
Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson has been reassigned to a lesser post in the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney for Arizona was also pushed out Tuesday as fallout from Operation Fast and Furious reached new heights.

Melson's step down from his role as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to the position of senior adviser on forensic science in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Programs is effective by close of business Tuesday, administration officials announced. U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones will replace Melson.

U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke, one of the officials closely tied to Fast and Furious, is also a casualty in a shakeup tied to the botched gun-running program. Burke was on the hot seat last week with congressional investigators and, according to several sources, got physically sick during questioning and could not finish his session.

The purge of those responsible for the firearms trafficking scandal continued as new documents reveal a deeper involvement of federal agencies beyond ATF.

In Phoenix, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, who oversaw Fast and Furious on a day-to-day basis, was reassigned from the criminal to civil division. Also in Phoenix, three out of the four whistleblowers involved in the case have been reassigned to new positions outside Arizona. Two are headed to Florida, one to South Carolina.

Hurley's reassignment came after three ATF supervisors responsible for the operation were promoted. William G. McMahon, a former deputy director of operations, took over the Office of Professional Responsibility. Field supervisors William D. Newell and David Voth also moved up despite heavy criticism.

The moves follow a series of reports by Fox News detailing the face-off between Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, whose investigators have recently broadened their probe. It now reportedly shows a deeper involvement of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

"While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn't off-loaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department," Issa, chairman of the House panel.

"There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted. ... I also remain very concerned by Acting Director Melson's statement that the Department of Justice is managing its response in a manner intended to protect its political appointees," Issa continued.

Operation Fast and Furious, a program designed to track illegal gun sales, turned into an embarrassing scandal after weapons linked to it were found at the scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent's murder last year. Thousands of guns ended up in the hands of Mexican cartel members.

Melson has led the agency since April 2009, supplanting a Bush administration acting director who was also unable to get Senate confirmation over the objections of gun rights groups. It was during his tenure that the ATF Phoenix office began Operation Fast and Furious in the fall of 2009.

According to the Justice Department, Jones will take over ATF in place of Melson beginning Wednesday, and will continue to serve as a U.S. attorney. A permanent replacement at ATF would need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

"As a seasoned prosecutor and former military judge advocate, U.S. Attorney Jones is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position," Holder said. "I have great confidence that he will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in fulfilling its mission of combating violent crime by enforcing federal criminal laws and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries."

Without mentioning either Melson or Burke's role in the Fast and Furious fiasco, Holder also praised the two for their "dedication" and "commitment" to the Department of Justice.

Fox News' Laura Prabucki contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011...#ixzz1WXO8ysDW 
24420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Justice Clarence Thomas on: August 30, 2011, 03:31:42 PM


www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/29/110829fa_fact_toobin
24421  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Brave Rabbi loses life in rescue effort on: August 30, 2011, 03:09:16 PM
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/selfless-rabbi-electrocuted-while-saving-8-year-old-boy-during-hurricane-irene/
24422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America on: August 30, 2011, 03:04:52 PM


http://www.theblaze.com/stories/so-what-do-muslim-americans-think-about-anti-terror-policies/
24423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Russia yanks Iran's chain on: August 30, 2011, 02:55:25 PM


Yet another deadline has passed this week for the completion of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is staffed with Russian nuclear scientists. The Iranians continue to claim that everything is according to schedule and testing is proceeding. However, it’s much more likely that Russia will continue to string Iran along in this project, along with many others.

Over the past several days, Iran has been extremely vocal in expressing its displeasure against Russia. First, Iran announced that it was filing a lawsuit against Russia after the latter backed out of a deal to deliver the S-300 strategic air defense system to Iran. Then, Iran announced that it was kicking Russian energy firm Gazprom out of a major energy deal to develop the Azar oil field project near the Iraqi border.

So why all the bad air between Iran and Russia?

The first thing to understand about the Russian-Iranian relationship is that there’s very little love lost between these two allies. Iran doesn’t have many allies on its friends list to begin with, and it has to rely primarily on Russia for foreign backing. When it comes to political backing and the U.N. Security Council, help with sanctions must be military assistance, among other things. Russia, on the other hand, views Iran primarily as a bargaining chip with which to prod the United States. Russia is pursuing a broader agenda that’s focused on the main idea of consolidating Russian influence in the former Soviet periphery, amping up the Iran threat every now and then is a great way for Russia to add to Washington’s problems while capturing Washington’s attention on the issues that the Kremlin cares about, whether that entails lessening the U.S. military footprint in central Europe or bargaining for much-needed Western investment in Russia.

The problem that Russia is facing is that a lot of the usual cards it uses in trying to deal with Iran are actually losing their punch. Russia is preparing for a growing confrontation with the United States in the coming months as it seeks to further a new security arrangement in Europe that would be friendly to Russian interests. Russia would like to rebuild its Iran leverage in preparation for these negotiations.

Russia isn’t necessarily ready to overly provoke the West through something like the sale of the S-300s to Iran, but it has been ramping up or at least trying to ramp up nuclear negotiations with Iran, while dropping hints to Western intelligence that the Iranian nuclear program may be further along than they thought, all in a way to try to position Russia as a mediator in this wider dispute.

But the Iranians are understandably very distrustful of the Russians. The delays in the Bushehr nuclear power plant and the S-300 sales have become major embarrassments for the Iranians. Typically, Iran wouldn’t make such a public show of its displeasure with Russia, but right now it can afford to. The reason is because Iran is in a relatively strong position. The United States has its hands quite full in trying to manage domestic pressure over the economy and trying to bring closure to the war in Afghanistan and in trying to develop a coherent policy for the Arab world that is in great unease.

Meanwhile, Iran is in a very favorable position in Iraq, where the United States is struggling to maintain an effective blocking force against the Iranians. If Russia wants to regain its leverage with Iran to use in its dealings with the West, it may have to devise some new angles to entice Tehran while maintaining some plausible deniability with the West. This is why we are keeping an especially close eye on potential third party suppliers — countries such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and Venezuela — who could potentially facilitate deals between Russia and Iran while keeping the more controversial deals under the radar.

24424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud, SEIU/ACORN et al, corruption etc. on: August 30, 2011, 02:44:19 PM
From the not-always reliable NEWSMAX

Outrage as Obama Names New Voter Initiative After ACORN
Monday, 29 Aug 2011 06:49 PM

By David A. Patten and Jim Meyers

Government watchdogs are blasting the Obama campaign’s decision to name its 2012 voter-registration initiative “Project Vote” — the same name as a group closely linked to the discredited ACORN organization.

Members of ACORN were caught on undercover video giving two supposed clients detailed instructions on how to commit fraud, and ACORN faced a number of voter-registration fraud cases following the 2008 election.

Use of the Project Vote name by the Obama campaign is “truly astonishing,” Tom Fitton, president of the conservative Judicial Watch good-government group, tells Newsmax. “We knew President Obama was the president from ACORN. And if this isn’t an indication of it, we don’t know what is.”

ACORN-linked Project Vote is a Washington, D.C.-based 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports voter-registration drives in “historically underrepresented communities.”

But there is “no wall of separation” between Project Vote and the well-known ACORN organization, according to Matthew Vadum, the Capital Research Center editor who wrote “Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.”

He calls Project Vote “the branch of ACORN that’s most notorious for voter fraud.”

Vadum wrote in an American Spectator piece on Monday: “On registration and mobilization campaigns, ACORN and Project Vote work together to the point where it is a difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference. They share staff, office space, and money.”

As an example he cites Project Vote’s field director, listed on its website as Amy Busefink. In November, she pled no contest to two counts of conspiracy to commit the crime in Nevada of compensation for registration of voters. In January, she received a year of probation and a $4,000 fine. Vadum calls that incident “a major ACORN-approved voter fraud conspiracy.”

Vadum tells Newsmax that the use of the Project Vote name for Obama’s new voter-registration drive “says the Obama campaign is up to the same old tricks, that they’re not afraid of being called out by the media.

They know that they can continue to operate with impunity, encouraging voter fraud, and they’re not going to be held accountable.”

The decision to employ the Project Vote name was clear in a recent email from the Obama campaign: "Project Vote will embark on a voter registration effort to maximize voter participation. Project Vote will drive our campaign strategy — from paid media, to digital outreach, to grassroots organizing and voter registration efforts — to communicate with and engage key demographic groups."

Adopting a name so closely linked to ACORN, and President Obama’s political career, could hardly be an accident, says Fitton.

“It collapses the façade that there was any distinction between the Obama campaign and Project Vote in 2008.”

Fitton speculates adopting the “Project Vote” name is intended as a “dog-whistle” to the Democratic base.

He adds: “If the Obama campaign was intent on trying to disassociate itself from the criminal activity which took place with its vendor last time, which was ACORN, using the name of their partner seemingly would be the wrong way to do it.”

Obama has had well-documented ties with ACORN. In the 2008 race, his campaign paid $832,000 for voter-registration services in key primary states to Citizen Consulting Inc., an ACORN umbrella group that Fitton describes as “an ACORN front.” The money was initially reported to the Federal Election Commission as payments for “staging, sound, lighting.” The reports were corrected after their true nature was revealed by a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review expose.

In 1995, Obama helped represent the group in a lawsuit that forced Illinois to adopt a bill relaxing the standards for establishing voter eligibility, and he helped train ACORN’s staff in Chicago.

Obama’s 2008 campaign relied heavily on expanding the electorate and registering new voters. His political strategists have indicated it will be a key component of his re-election effort as well.

Fitton says the Project Vote name shows that the Obama campaign plans to continue running its 2008 campaign playbook, despite the fraud associated with voter-registration activities that cycle.

“It should alert people to the fact that Project Vote hasn’t gone away,” he says. “One of the big misconceptions has been that ACORN and Project Vote, which had been associated with voter registration issues in 2008, disappeared as a result of the scandals, as a result of the videos. And they haven’t disappeared — the state ACORN groups are still operational, and obviously Project Vote is still using the ACORN method to register voters.”

Vadum, whose book documents 54 voter-fraud convictions stemming from the 2008 elections, tells Newsmax that he expects ACORN to be just as active in the 2012 campaign as it was in 2008, although under a different brand. ACORN’s state chapters have reconstituted themselves under new names, he says, and its affordable housing arm is now receiving money from HUD under a new name.


© Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Read more on Newsmax.com: Outrage as Obama Names New Voter Initiative After ACORN
Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama's Re-Election? Vote Here Now!
24425  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Fire Hydrant: Howls from Crafty Dog, Rules of the Road, etc on: August 30, 2011, 12:01:13 PM
Thank you Bob.
24426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washington to Lafayette 1785 on: August 30, 2011, 08:38:08 AM
"Democratical States must always feel before they can see: it is this that makes their Governments slow, but the people will be right at last." --George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, 1785


24427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Premature celebration on: August 30, 2011, 08:36:13 AM
I would have liked to have seen Friedman address the idea of the benefits of having the Libyans fight for themselves and having NATO to do something with the US in the rear guard-- maybe now the countries of NATO will realize how weak they have allowed themselves to become.
====================================================

Libya: A Premature Victory Celebration
August 30, 2011


By George Friedman

The war in Libya is over. More precisely, governments and media have decided that the war is over, despite the fact that fighting continues. The unfulfilled expectation of this war has consistently been that Moammar Gadhafi would capitulate when faced with the forces arrayed against him, and that his own forces would abandon him as soon as they saw that the war was lost. What was being celebrated last week, with presidents, prime ministers and the media proclaiming the defeat of Gadhafi, will likely be true in due course. The fact that it is not yet true does not detract from the self-congratulations.

For example, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reported that only 5 percent of Libya is still under Gadhafi’s control. That seems like a trivial amount, save for this news from Italian newspaper La Stampa, which reported that “Tripoli is being cleaned up” neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street and home by home. Meanwhile, bombs from above are pounding Sirte, where, according to the French, Gadhafi has managed to arrive, although it is not known how. The strategically important town of Bali Walid — another possible hiding place and one of only two remaining exit routes to another Gadhafi stronghold in Sabha — is being encircled.

To put it differently, Gadhafi’s forces still retain military control of substantial areas. There is house-to-house fighting going on in Tripoli. There are multiple strongholds with sufficient defensive strength that forces cannot enter them without significant military preparation. Although Gadhafi’s actual location is unknown, his capture is the object of substantial military preparations, including NATO airstrikes, around Bali Walid, Sirte and Sabha. When Saddam Hussein was captured, he was hiding in a hole in the ground, alone and without an army. Gadhafi is still fighting and posing challenges. The war is not over.

It could be argued that while Gadhafi retains a coherent military force and significant territory, he no longer governs Libya. That is certainly true and significant, but it will become more significant when his enemies do take control of the levers of power. It is unreasonable to expect that they should be in a position to do so a few days after entering Tripoli and while fighting continues. But it does raise a critical question: whether the rebels have sufficient coherence to form an effective government or whether new rounds of fighting among Libyans can be expected even after Gadhafi’s forces cease functioning. To put it simply, Gadhafi appears to be on his way to defeat but he is not there yet, and the ability of his enemies to govern Libya is doubtful.


Immaculate Intervention

Given that the dying is far from over, it is interesting to consider why Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, the major players in this war, all declared last week that Gadhafi had fallen, implying an end to war, and why the media proclaimed the war’s end. To understand this, it is important to understand how surprising the course of the war was to these leaders. From the beginning, there was an expectation that NATO intervention, first with a no-fly zone, then with direct airstrikes on Gadhafi’s position, would lead to a rapid collapse of his government and its replacement with a democratic coalition in the east.

Two forces combined to lead to this conclusion. The first consisted of human-rights groups outside governments and factions in foreign ministries and the State Department who felt an intervention was necessary to stop the pending slaughter in Benghazi. This faction had a serious problem. The most effective way to quickly end a brutal regime was military intervention. However, having condemned the American invasion of Iraq, which was designed, at least in part, to get rid of a brutal regime, this faction found it difficult to justify rapid military intervention on the ground in Libya. Moral arguments require a degree of consistency.

In Europe, the doctrine of “soft power” has become a central doctrine. In the case of Libya, finding a path to soft power was difficult. Sanctions and lectures would probably not stop Gadhafi, but military action ran counter to soft power. What emerged was a doctrine of soft military power. Instituting a no-fly zone was a way to engage in military action without actually hurting anyone, except those Libyan pilots who took off. It satisfied the need to distinguish Libya from Iraq by not invading and occupying Libya but still putting crushing pressure on Gadhafi.

Of course, a no-fly zone proved ineffective and irrelevant, and the French began bombing Gadhafi’s forces the same day. Libyans on the ground were dying, but not British, French or American soldiers. While the no-fly zone was officially announced, this segue to an air campaign sort of emerged over time without a clear decision point. For human-rights activists, this kept them from addressing the concern that airstrikes always cause unintended deaths because they are never as accurate as one might like. For the governments, it allowed them to be seen as embarking upon what I have called an “immaculate intervention.”

The second force that liked this strategy was the various air forces involved. There is no question of the importance of air power in modern war, but there is a constant argument over whether the application of air power by itself can achieve desired political ends without the commitment of ground forces. For the air community, Libya was going to be the place where it could demonstrate its effectiveness in achieving such ends.

So the human-rights advocates could focus on the ends — protecting Libyan civilians in Benghazi — and pretend that they had not just advocated the commencement of a war that would itself leave many people dead. Political leaders could feel that they were not getting into a quagmire but simply undertaking a clean intervention. The air forces could demonstrate their utility in delivering desired political outcomes.


Why and How

The question of the underlying reason for the war should be addressed because stories are circulating that oil companies are competing for vast sums of money in Libya. These stories are all reasonable, in the sense that the real story remains difficult to fathom, and I sympathize with those who are trying to find a deep conspiracy to explain all of this. I would like to find one, too. The problem is that going to war for oil in Libya was unnecessary. Gadhafi loved selling oil, and if the governments involved told him quietly that they were going to blow him up if he didn’t make different arrangements on who got the oil revenues and what royalties he got to keep, Gadhafi would have made those arrangements. He was as cynical as they come, and he understood the subtle idea that shifting oil partners and giving up a lot of revenue was better than being blown up.

Indeed, there is no theory out there that explains this war by way of oil, simply because it was not necessary to actually to go war to get whatever concessions were wanted. So the story — protecting people in Benghazi from slaughter — is the only rational explanation for what followed, however hard it is to believe.

It must also be understood that given the nature of modern air warfare, NATO forces in small numbers had to be inserted on the ground from the beginning — actually, at least a few days before the beginning of the air campaign. Accurately identifying targets and taking them out with sufficient precision involves highly skilled special-operations teams guiding munitions to those targets. The fact that there have been relatively few friendly-fire accidents indicates that standard operational procedures have been in place.

These teams were probably joined by other special operators who trained — and in most cases informally led — indigenous forces in battle. There were ample reports in the early days of the war that special operations teams were on the ground conducting weapons training and organizing the fighters who opposed Gadhafi.

But there proved to be two problems with this approach. First, Gadhafi did not fold his tent and capitulate. He seemed singularly unimpressed by the force he was facing. Second, his troops turned out to be highly motivated and capable, at least compared to their opponents. Proof of this can be found in the fact that they did not surrender en masse, they did maintain a sufficient degree of unit coherence and — the final proof — they held out for six months and are still holding out. The view of human-rights groups that an isolated tyrant would break in the face of the international community, the view of political leaders that an isolated tyrant facing the might of NATO’s air forces would collapse in days, and the view of the air forces that air strikes would shatter resistance, all turned out to be false.


A War Prolonged

Part of this was due to a misunderstanding of the nature of Libyan politics. Gadhafi was a tyrant, but he was not completely isolated. He had enemies but he also had many supporters who benefitted from him or at least believed in his doctrines. There was also a general belief among ordinary government soldiers (some of whom are mercenaries from the south) that capitulation would lead to their slaughter, and the belief among government leaders that surrender meant trials in The Hague and terms in prison. The belief of the human-rights community in an International Criminal Court (ICC) trying Gadhafi and the men around him gives them no room for retreat, and men without room for retreat fight hard and to the end. There was no way to negotiate capitulation unless the U.N. Security Council itself publicly approved the deal. The winks and nods that got dictators to leave in the old days aren’t enough anymore. All countries that are party to the Rome Statute are required to turn a leader like Gadhafi over to the ICC for trial.

Therefore, unless the U.N. Security Council publicly strikes a deal with Gadhafi, which would be opposed by the human-rights community and would become ugly, Gadhafi will not give up — and neither will his troops. There were reports last week that some government soldiers had been executed. True or not, fair or not, that would not be a great motivator for surrender.

The war began with the public mission of protecting the people of Benghazi. This quickly morphed into a war to unseat Gadhafi. The problem was that between the ideological and the military aims, the forces dedicated to the war were insufficient to execute the mission. We do not know how many people were killed in the fighting in the past six months, but pursuing the war using soft military power in this way certainly prolonged the war and likely caused many deaths, both military and civilian.

After six months, NATO got tired, and we wound up with the assault on Tripoli. The assault appears to have consisted of three parts. The first was the insertion of NATO special operations troops (in the low hundreds, not thousands) who, guided by intelligence operatives in Tripoli, attacked and destabilized the government forces in the city. The second part was an information operation in which NATO made it appear that the battle was over. The bizarre incident in which Gadhafi’s son, Saif al Islam, announced as being captured only to show up in an SUV looking very un-captured, was part of this game. NATO wanted it to appear that the leadership had been reduced and Gadhafi’s forces broken to convince those same forces to capitulate. Saif al Islam’s appearance was designed to signal his troops that the war was still on.

Following the special operations strikes and the information operations, western rebels entered the city to great fanfare, including celebratory gunfire into the air. The world’s media chronicled the end of the war as the special operations teams melted away and the victorious rebels took the bows. It had taken six months, but it was over.

And then it became obvious that it wasn’t over. Five percent of Libya — an interesting calculation — was not liberated. Street fighting in Tripoli continued. Areas of the country were still under Gadhafi’s control. And Gadhafi himself was not where his enemies wanted him to be. The war went on.

A number of lessons emerge from all this. First, it is important to remember that Libya in itself may not be important to the world, but it matters to Libyans a great deal. Second, do not assume that tyrants lack support. Gadhafi didn’t govern Libya for 42 years without support. Third, do not assume that the amount of force you are prepared to provide is the amount of force needed. Fourth, eliminating the option of a negotiated end to the war by the means of international courts may be morally satisfying, but it causes wars to go on and casualties to mount. It is important to decide what is more important — to alleviate the suffering of people or to punish the guilty. Sometimes it is one or the other. Fifth, and most important, do not kid the world about wars being over. After George W. Bush flew onto an aircraft carrier that was emblazoned with a “mission accomplished” banner, the Iraq war became even more violent, and the damage to him was massive. Information operations may be useful in persuading opposing troops to surrender, but political credibility bleeds away when the war is declared over and the fighting goes on.

Gadhafi will likely fall in the end. NATO is more powerful then he is, and enough force will be bought to bear to bring him down. The question, of course, is whether there was another way to accomplish that with less cost and more yield. Leaving aside the war-for-oil theory, if the goal was to protect Benghazi and bring down Gadhafi, greater force or a negotiated exit with guarantees against trials in The Hague would likely have worked faster with less loss of life than the application of soft military power.

24428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Black Americans as Victims of the Left on: August 30, 2011, 08:24:01 AM
Very long and I have not read it all, but it comes recommended and seems promising:

http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1258&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+fpmdtn+%28FrontPage+Magazine+%C2%BB+Discover+the+Networks%29
24429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israeli Beckaphobia on: August 30, 2011, 08:13:17 AM
Beckaphobia

Posted By Steven Plaut On August 29, 2011 @ 12:09 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage |


Israeli radical leftists have long had an intense hatred toward American conservatives. This is in spite of the fact that American conservatives are almost all pro-Israel. In actuality, the hatred of Israeli leftists toward conservatives is precisely because conservatives are pro-Israel. Like in most other countries, the radical leftists in the Jewish State are anti-Israel in addition to being anti-American.

Israeli leftists insist that overseas supporters of Israel who are conservative should be shunned. They demand that Israel proclaim that those conservatives are just not ethical enough to be accepted as friends. Israeli leftists insist that Israel should only allow itself to be befriended by foreign leftists. Never mind that the search for pro-Israel foreign leftists is about as productive as the search for human life on other planets. The Left outside of Israel is almost entirely anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, and foreign liberals are by and large (although not entirely) anti-Israel. Israeli leftists want foreign pro-Israel conservatives to be regarded as personae non gratae by Israel. A few years back, Amiram Goldblum, a professor at the Hebrew University and a founder of the leftist Peace Now, called upon Israel to prevent American evangelist Christians from entering Israel. He objected to them because they are too pro-Israel. The Israeli Left is outraged that Israeli cable TV carries Fox News, because it is pro-Israel. The anti-Israel BBC and CNN channels, however, are fine.

The most dramatic manifestation of the Israeli Left’s hatred of pro-Israel foreign conservatives was evident in the severity of “Beckaphobia” in recent days. The Israeli Left is suffering from an intense phobia regarding conservative media powerhouse Glenn Beck.

Beck was in Israel last week (and has been here a lot in recent months) for one purpose only – to support Israel. He is an outspoken and well-spoken American conservative. His political opinions are solidly conservative and you cannot listen to his recent speech in Jerusalem without being convinced of the sincerity of his love of Israel and solidarity with Jews. You might even be moved to tears (from his citing the Scroll of Ruth, for instance).

The Israeli Left has been jihading all week against Beck. Yossi Sarid, the ex-head of the semi-Marxist Meretz party, crayoned an op-ed demonizing Beck, and just recently had an op-ed in Haaretz claiming that Israel fought the Six Day War out of a Nazi-like quest for Lebensraum (his word) and expansionism. Sarid was joined by lots of left-wing Haaretz writers in Beck-bashing. And even the normally sensible Maariv editor, Ben-Dror Yemini, decided to gripe about Beck. Naturally, Peace Now denounced the decision to allow Beck into the country. The daily Haaretz, Israel’s analogue to The Nation, ran a nasty editorial denouncing Beck. The leftists demanding that Beck be regarded as persona non grata are almost without exception the same people who protested when Israel denied the neo-Nazi Norman Finkelstein, the anti-Semitic Stalinist Noam Chomsky and the pro-jihad pseudo-academic Richard Falk, entry into the country. Israel had prevented those people from entering because of their ties to Islamic terrorists and anti-Semites. The lesson is clear – the Left’s mantra is really this: Israel, hate it or leave it.

Meanwhile, Israeli patriots loved Beck and many attended his rallies. The conservative columnist Caroline Glick wrote:

Beck is rare, because he refuses to bow to the intellectual intimidation and groupthink that plagues the discourse on Israel in Israel itself and throughout the world…. Unlike the leftist public intellectuals such as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman who are celebrated and obsessively covered by the Israeli media, Beck exerts real influence on public opinion in the US. His calls for action are answered by hundreds of thousands of people. His statements are a guidepost for millions of Americans. Aside from radio host Rush Limbaugh, no media personality in the US has such influence.  It is highly significant that thousands of Beck’s supporters followed his call and came with him to Israel for a week to express their support for Israel and the Jewish people. It is similarly significant that millions more of his supporters followed his actions on Internet.

Beck, of course, is also the right-winger that the American left-wingers most love to hate.  He is perhaps the only TV and radio personality who can upset the Left even more than Rush Limbaugh does. But those who hate Beck, in almost all cases, also hate Israel.  True, some American liberal “reform rabbis” denounced Beck for criticizing George Soros and even demanded that Fox News sanction Beck, but if anything, Beck should carry their condemnation as a badge of valor.  And lots of those “reform rabbis” are supporters of radical anti-Israel groups like J Street, the New Israel Fund, Tikkun Magazine, or worse.  Of course, few of those clergypersons have issued any complaints about National Public Radio’s Israel bashers, and none has ever had any complaints about liberals and leftists who appear alongside Holocaust deniers on Counterpunch, the pro-jihad Web magazine.

Some American Jewish liberals squirm when Beck’s name is mentioned because they have a hang-up about Mormons. Give me a nice team of Mormons any day over liberal Jewish pseudo-clergypersons preaching that all of Judaism is really “social justice” and pursuing the liberal political agenda. Mormons may invite you to join their faith and pray for you to do so. Liberal pseudo-rabbis fraudulently misrepresent Judaism as liberal political fads and are guilty of Chilul Hashem (sacrilege). I feel fine with the former. And I salute Glenn Beck.

24430  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Conditioning on: August 29, 2011, 11:04:49 PM
I better get me one of those things! My son is now beating me up The Dune! shocked cheesy
24431  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Computer problems on: August 29, 2011, 10:59:45 PM
Cindy is having some serious problems with her computer.
24432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Digital Divide on: August 29, 2011, 10:57:01 PM
By DAVID FRIEND
It is clear that the world changed on 9/11. It is less clear exactly how it did. Ten years later the debate is still open on the wisdom of waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq, on laws that effectively rolled back civil liberties, on the West's relation to Islam, on America's place in the world. But in one respect, the way the world changed is utterly clear—the manner in which we witness news events.

In 2001, few could have foreseen the way the attacks would coincide with a phase change in how we observe and respond to key moments in public life, and therefore how society and culture go on to interpret history. Three technologies that found their footing in the 1990s—digital photography, 24/7 television news, and Internet-supported citizen journalism—came of age that day as some two billion people (a third of the species) watched the attacks unfold on TV and the World Wide Web.

But what we couldn't foresee then is how the act of newsgathering would be turned on its head. Since 9/11, the documentation of conflict—in the form of still photographs and moving pictures, often by civilians carrying camera-equipped mobile phones, whose footage can be viewed almost instantaneously across the globe—actually takes precedent in the public mind over context and analysis. Often, "traditional" media coverage, no matter how well-funded, thorough and authoritative, is not considered credible or definitive unless accompanied by compelling visual evidence.

On Sept. 11, 2001, there was no such thing as a YouTube video. Or a Facebook page. Or a Twitter feed. Cellphone cameras did not exist. Yet legions of people rushed to the site of the twin towers to document the attack and its aftermath. Their images, as much as those from stationary TV cameras or professional photographers, became our window onto the calamity. Meanwhile, countless others used their pagers, phones and PCs to enter firsthand reports of what things were like in Lower Manhattan. Thousands more, forwarding those accounts around the world, helped produce a people's chronicle of 9/11 that corresponds with—rivals, really—the record seen on television and in print.

What was extraordinary that day has become thoroughly familiar. In 2011, when history happens, it is more often than not a nonjournalist with a pocket camera, a blog or a Twitter account who files the initial dispatch. It was a tourist with a camcorder who captured the first devastating waves of the Asian tsunami of 2004. A commuter with a mobile phone, riding the London Underground, took the first haunting frames of the transit bombings of 2005. Nowadays, history belongs to the first photographer to post the pictures of it.

This phenomenon was everywhere apparent during this year's popular "Arab Spring" uprisings, from Tunis to Tripoli, and from Aleppo to the Gulf of Aden. In country after country, abuses were revealed via Facebook postings and YouTube videos. Protests, coordinated via social networks like Facebook, were spearheaded by young people, all of whom had grown up during the digital era. (More recently, both rioters and citizen-response groups in London and elsewhere have used mobile messaging services to mobilize.)

In retrospect, one can only imagine how the assaults of 9/11 might have been absorbed and magnified in the age of the smartphone, WiFi and streaming video. How might the attacks have further traumatized us had the technology existed to allow real-time visualizations of the deaths of thousands of innocents? How differently might the international community have reacted—or might historians have judged the actions of al Qaeda—had workers, trapped inside the World Trade Center, used the cameras on their hand-held devices and computers to record scenes of atrocity and carnage, then beamed those photos and videos to their families?

Instead of a panoramic view of mass murder, witnessed from a distance, would we have seen individual lives extinguished one by one, and irrefutably, in the here and now? And to what end? How, one wonders, would we have handled such images, given the breadth of the horror and the unspeakable depth of the loss?

It is hard to imagine that we would have wanted a more detailed account of the awfulness of that day. Even so, it is hard to suppose that we would rather have learned about the facts of September 11 through the next morning's newspapers. Ten years after, we don't just expect a crowd-sourced profusion of digital images to accompany a significant event as it unfolds; for better for worse, we demand it.

Mr. Friend, an editor at Vanity Fair, is the author of "Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11," reissued this month by Picador. This op-ed is adapted from the book's preface.

24433  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: A short primer on the national debt on: August 29, 2011, 10:52:30 PM
By JOHN STEELE GORDON
With the national debt certain to be a front-and-center issue in the 2012 campaign, it is important to understand the true measure of its size. That size seems to vary considerably in news reports. Some news organizations use the debt held by the public, others use total debt. Still others report total future liabilities of the federal government, without making clear what, exactly, that means.

So, a few definitions. The total national debt of the United States is the sum of all federal bills, notes and bonds that have been issued by the Treasury and not yet redeemed. The publicly held debt is the sum of the Treasury securities held by individuals, financial institutions and foreign governments. (That's not just the Chinese, by the way. Both Great Britain and Japan are also major holders of U.S. debt, as are many other countries in lesser amounts.)

The intra-governmental debt is the sum of Treasury bonds held by agencies of the federal government, principally the so-called Social Security Trust Fund. The liabilities equal the future pensions, health care, Social Security payments, etc., that are promised under current legislation.

But while the Treasury securities bear the full faith and credit of the United States and any failure to pay the interest or redeem the principal in a timely fashion would be a default, the liabilities are liabilities only so long as current law remains unchanged. If, for instance, Congress were to adjust the formula by which Social Security cost-of-living increases were calculated or change the age of eligibility, future federal liabilities would shrink by trillions of dollars instantly.

Should the intra-governmental debt be counted when discussing the national debt? I think the answer is yes. As the Social Security surplus disappears (it did, at least temporarily, in 2010) as the baby boomers increasingly retire, the Treasury will be asked to redeem more and more of these federal bonds.

Congress will then have three options: cut spending elsewhere, raise taxes, or borrow the money in the bond market, thus converting the intra-governmental debt into publicly held debt. The last of the three options is the only plausible one and so the intra-governmental debt should be counted as though it were publicly held debt, as that's exactly what it will be in the fullness of time.

View Full Image

Corbis
 .In absolute numbers, the total public debt as of Aug. 11 was $9.924 trillion, and the intra-government debt was $4.666 trillion, for a total of $14.587 trillion. That's well over 300 million times the country's median household income. Stacked as dollar bills, it would reach 920,953 miles high, almost four times as far from Earth as the moon.

But while these numbers are fun to play with, they don't mean much. It's the debt's size relative to gross domestic product that matters, just as personal debts must be measured against a person's income before they can be properly evaluated. The GDP of the United States was $15.003 trillion at the end of the first quarter in 2011. That makes the public debt equal to 66.1% of GDP and the intra-governmental debt 31.1%. Total debt is now 97.2% of GDP and climbing rapidly.

And it's the climbing rapidly part that is worrisome, not the debt's current size relative to GDP. Indeed, the debt has been substantially higher by that measure in earlier times. In 1946, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, it was 129.98% of GDP. But while the debt had increased enormously during the war (it had been 50% of a much smaller GDP in 1940), it did not increase substantially over the next 15 years. It was $269 billion in 1946 and $286 billion in 1960. The American economy grew so much in those years that the debt, while slightly up in absolute terms, was down to only 58% of GDP by 1960.

The debt grew to $370 billion in the next decade, but again economic growth (and, towards the end of the 1960s, inflation) continued to reduce it relative to GDP. In 1970 it was a mere 39%, the lowest it had been since the depths of the Great Depression. And while the debt nearly tripled in the 1970s (to $909 billion), the raging inflation of that decade caused the debt to continue to decline to 34.5% of GDP.

When the Federal Reserve under Paul Volcker broke the back of the 1970s inflation, the debt relative to GDP began to soar. Why? Because Washington continued to increase spending faster than government revenues increased (and revenues increased a whopping 99.4% in the 1980s thanks to the great boom that began in 1983). The debt was 58.15% of GDP in 1990, a full 24 percentage points above its 1980 low. It continued to increase dramatically in the early 1990s, reaching 68.91% of GDP in 1994.

But then a Republican Congress was swept into power that year, the first time the GOP controlled both houses of Congress since 1954, and President Clinton tacked sharply to the center. In the next six years, while revenues increased 61%, federal outlays increased only 22%. The years 1998-2000 actually showed the first surpluses in the federal budget in 30 years. And the debt, relative to GDP, declined between 1994 and 2000 to 57.3% from 68.91%.


That decline ended in 2001 following the collapse of the dot-com bubble and rising unemployment in the resulting recession. By 2003 the debt-to-GDP ratio had risen to 61.7%. Many blame the Bush tax cuts for adversely impacting federal revenues, causing the debt to spiral upwards. But that is just not true. Federal revenues declined by almost 12% in the early years of the decade, but when the tax cuts fully kicked in in 2003, the economy began to grow strongly again and federal revenues increased 44% in the next four years, while unemployment fell to 4.2% from 6.2%. Federal outlays in those four years increased by only 26.4%, and while the debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 64.8% by 2007, that was still well below what it had been in 1994.

Only with the severe recession that officially began in mid-2007 did the debt-to-GDP ratio begin to soar once more. It reached 67.7% by Oct. 1, 2008, near the end of the Bush administration. A year later, under President Obama, it was at 84.4%, a year later still 93.8%. It is headed quickly towards 100% and beyond without fundamental change in how Washington handles the public fisc.

But a president and a Congress committed to reforming Washington's ways face no insuperable problem getting the debt under control. No one expects the United States to pay off its debt (as we did in the administration of Andrew Jackson, the only time a major country has ever paid off its national debt). Even in a best-case scenario, the absolute size of the debt will not get smaller. But if we can summon the necessary political will, we can dramatically affect the measure of the debt burden that matters: the debt-to-GDP ratio.

Just do what we did after World War II, a period that saw its share of recessions and wars, both hot and cold: stop adding to the debt and let the growth of the GDP bring down the ratio.

If the country can experience GDP growth equal to what we had in the 1990s, the debt-to-GDP ratio would drop, in just a decade, to 56.7%, about where it was in 2000.

But that can only happen if the American electorate sends an unequivocal message in November 2012. Voters did exactly that in November 2010. Will they do it again?

Mr. Gordon is the author of numerous books, including "Hamilton's Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt" (Walker, revised edition, 2010).

24434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pay no attention to the man behind the screen on: August 29, 2011, 10:47:24 PM
WSJ:

For a guy who spends a lot of time advocating for higher taxes, Warren Buffett does a remarkably good job of minimizing his own corporate tax bill. This is all to the good for Mr. Buffett and his fellow Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, who no doubt can invest the money more wisely than the federal government is likely to do.

Mr. Buffett's recent decision to invest in Bank of America represents another tax-avoidance triumph for the Berkshire chief executive. U.S. corporations are subject to a top federal income tax rate of 35%, the second highest in the world. But the Journal's Erik Holm notes that Mr. Buffett and the Berkshire bunch won't pay anything close to that on their investment in BofA preferred shares.

That's because corporations can exclude from taxation 70% of the dividends they receive from an investment in another corporation. This exclusion is intended to prevent double- or even triple-taxation as money is earned by one company, paid to another company and then ultimately paid out to shareholders. The policy makes sense; we only wonder why the exclusion isn't 100%.

With the 70% exclusion for Mr. Buffett and his fellow shareholders, Berkshire will enjoy an effective tax rate of 10.5% on the $300 million in dividends it will receive each year from Bank of America.

We're tempted to suggest that Mr. Buffett should do what he might call the patriotic thing and volunteer Berkshire to pay the full 35% rate as a good corporate citizen. But even if Mr. Buffett won't say it, most Americans know that more jobs will be created if the money is deployed by the Berkshire bunch than by the Beltway boys.

24435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Western firms aided Kadaffy's spying on citizens on: August 29, 2011, 10:37:39 PM

 
The Wall Street Journal
 
One of countless files from Libya's internet surveillance center.
.TRIPOLI—On the ground floor of a six-story building here, agents working for Moammar Gadhafi sat in an open room, spying on emails and chat messages with the help of technology Libya acquired from the West.

The recently abandoned room is lined with posters and English-language training manuals stamped with the name Amesys, a unit of French technology firm Bull SA, which installed the monitoring center. A warning by the door bears the Amesys logo. The sign reads: "Help keep our classified business secret. Don't discuss classified information out of the HQ."

The room, explored Monday by The Wall Street Journal, provides clear new evidence of foreign companies' cooperation in the repression of Libyans under Col. Gadhafi's almost 42-year rule. The surveillance files found here include emails written as recently as February, after the Libyan uprising had begun.

More on Libya
As Gadhafi Kin Flee, Rebels Try to Secure Oil
In Letter to Tripoli, Bomber States His Case
.One file, logged on Feb. 26, includes a 16-minute Yahoo chat between a man and a young woman. He sometimes flirts, declaring that her soul is meant for him, but also worries that his opposition to Col. Gadhafi has made him a target.

"I'm wanted," he says. "The Gadhafi forces ... are writing lists of names." He says he's going into hiding and will call her from a new phone number—and urges her to keep his plans secret.

"Don't forget me," she says.

This kind of spying became a top priority for Libya as the region's Arab Spring revolutions blossomed in recent months. Earlier this year, Libyan officials held talks with Amesys and several other companies including Boeing Co.'s Narus, a maker of high-tech Internet traffic-monitoring products, as they looked to add sophisticated Internet-filtering capabilities to Libya's existing monitoring operation, people familiar with the matter said.

 .Cisco Poised to Help China Keep an Eye on Its Citizens 7/5/2011
Mideast Uses Western Tools to Battle the Skype Rebellion 6/1/2011
Iran Vows to Unplug Internet 5/28/2011
U.S. Products Help Block Mideast Web 3/28/2011
.Libya sought advanced tools to control the encrypted online-phone service Skype, censor YouTube videos and block Libyans from disguising their online activities by using "proxy" servers, according to documents reviewed by the Journal and people familiar with the matter. Libya's civil war stalled the talks.

"Narus does not comment on potential business ventures," a Narus spokeswoman said in a statement. "There have been no sales or deployments of Narus technology in Libya." A Bull official declined to comment.

The sale of technology used to intercept communications is generally permissible by law, although manufacturers in some countries, including the U.S., must first obtain special approval to export high-tech interception devices.

Libya is one of several Middle Eastern and North African states to use sophisticated technologies acquired abroad to crack down on dissidents. Tech firms from the U.S., Canada, Europe, China and elsewhere have, in the pursuit of profits, helped regimes block websites, intercept emails and eavesdrop on conversations.

The Tripoli Internet monitoring center was a major part of a broad surveillance apparatus built by Col. Gadhafi to keep tabs on his enemies. Amesys in 2009 equipped the center with "deep packet inspection" technology, one of the most intrusive techniques for snooping on people's online activities, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chinese telecom company ZTE Corp. also provided technology for Libya's monitoring operation, people familiar with the matter said. Amesys and ZTE had deals with different arms of Col. Gadhafi's security service, the people said. A ZTE spokeswoman declined to comment.

.Journal Community
..VASTech SA Pty Ltd, a small South African firm, provided the regime with tools to tap and log all the international phone calls going in and out of the country, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter. VASTech declined to discuss its business in Libya due to confidentiality agreements.

Libya went on a surveillance-gear shopping spree after the international community lifted trade sanctions in exchange for Col. Gadhafi handing over the suspects in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 and ending his weapons of mass destruction program. For global makers of everything from snooping technology to passenger jets and oil equipment , ending the trade sanctions transformed Col. Gadhafi's regime from pariah state to coveted client.

The Tripoli spying center reveals some of the secrets of how Col. Gadhafi's regime censored the populace. The surveillance room, which people familiar with the matter said Amesys equipped with its Eagle system in late 2009, shows how Col. Gadhafi's regime had become more attuned to the dangers posed by Internet activism, even though the nation had only about 100,000 Internet subscriptions in a population of 6.6 million.

The Eagle system allows agents to observe network traffic and peer into people's emails, among other things. In the room, one English-language poster says: "Whereas many Internet interception systems carry out basic filtering on IP address and extract only those communications from the global flow (Lawful Interception), EAGLE Interception system analyses and stores all the communications from the monitored link (Massive interception)."

On its website, Amesys says its "strategic nationwide interception" system can detect email from Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail and see chat conversations on MSN instant messaging and AIM. It says investigators can "request the entire database" of Internet traffic "in real time" by entering keywords, email addresses or the names of file attachments as search queries.

It is unclear how many people worked for the monitoring unit or how long it was operational.

In a basement storage room, dossiers of Libyans' online activities are lined up in floor-to-ceiling filing shelves. From the shelves, the Journal reviewed dozens of surveillance files, including those for two anti-Gadhafi activists—one in Libya, the other in the U.K.—well known for their opposition websites. Libyan intelligence operators were monitoring email discussions between the two men concerning what topics they planned to discuss on their websites.

In an email, dated Sept. 16, 2010, the men argue over whether to trust the reform credentials of Col. Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, who at the time was widely expected to succeed his father as Libya's leader. One man warns the other that the younger Gadhafi is trouble. "I know that you hope that Seif will be a good solution," he writes. "But … he is not the proper solution. I'm warning you."

Computer surveillance occupied only the ground floor of the intelligence center. Deeper in the maze-like layout is a windowless detention center, its walls covered in dingy granite tile and smelling of mildew.

 
Human Rights Watch
 
Activist Heba Morayef's emails turned up at Libya's internet surveillance center.
.Caught in the snare of Libya's surveillance web was Human Rights Watch researcher Heba Morayef, who handles Libya reporting for the activist group. Files monitoring at least two Libyan opposition activists included emails written by her, as well as messages to her from them.

In one email, dated Aug. 12, 2010, a Libyan activist implores Ms. Morayef to help him and his colleagues fight a court case brought against them. "The law is on our side in this case, but we are scared," he wrote. "We need someone to help." The email goes into specific detail about the plaintiff, who was a high-ranking member of a shadowy group of political commissars defending the Gadhafi regime.

Ms. Morayef, reached Monday in Cairo, where she is based, said she was last in contact with the Benghazi-based activist on Feb. 16. She said she believes he went into hiding when civil war broke out a week later.

Another file, dated Jan. 6, 2011, monitors two people, one named Ramadan, as they struggle to share an anti-Gadhafi video and upload it to the Web. One message reads: "Dear Ramadan : Salam : this is a trial to see if it is possible to email videos. If it succeeds tell me what you think."

Across town from the Internet monitoring center at Libya's international phone switch, where telephone calls exit and enter the country, a separate group of Col. Gadhafi's security agents staffed a room equipped with VASTech devices, people familiar with the matter said. There they captured roughly 30 to 40 million minutes of mobile and landline conversations a month and archived them for years, one of the people said.

Andre Scholtz, sales and marketing director for VASTech, declined to comment on the Libya installation, citing confidentiality agreements. The firm sells only "to governments that are internationally recognized by the U.N. and are not subject to international sanctions," Mr. Scholtz said in a statement. "The relevant U.N., U.S. and EU rules are complied with."

The precise details of VASTech's setup in Libya are unclear. VASTech says its interception technology is used to fight crimes like terrorism and weapons smuggling.

The Fight for Tripoli
View Interactive
.On Edge in Libya
Track fighting and city control around the country.

View Interactive
.Map: Regional Upheaval
Track events day by day in the region.

View Interactive
.More photos and interactive graphics
.A description of the company's Zebra brand surveillance product, prepared for a trade show, says it "captures and stores massive volumes of traffic" and offers filters that agents can use to "access specific communications of interest from mountains of data." Zebra also features "link analysis," the description says, a tool to help agents identify relationships between individuals based on analysis of their calling patterns.

Capabilities such as these helped Libya sow fear as the country erupted in civil war earlier this year. Anti-Gadhafi street demonstrators were paranoid of being spied on or picked up by the security forces, as it was common knowledge that the regime tapped phones. Much of the early civil unrest was organized via Skype, which activists considered safer than Internet chatting. But even then they were scared.

"We're likely to disappear if you aren't careful," a 22-year-old student who helped organize some of the biggest protests near Tripoli said in a Skype chat with a foreign journalist before fleeing to Egypt. Then, on March 1, two of his friends were arrested four hours after calling a foreign correspondent from a Tripoli-based cellphone, according to a relative. It is unclear what division of the security service picked them up or whether they are still in jail.

The uprising heightened the regime's efforts to obtain more intursive surveillance technology. On Feb. 15 of this year, as anti-government demonstrations kicked off in Benghazi, Libyan telecom official Bashir Ejlabu convened a meeting in Barcelona with officials from Narus, the Boeing unit that makes Internet monitoring products, according to a person familiar with the meeting. "The urgency was high to get a comprehensive system put in place," the person said.

In the meeting, Mr. Eljabu told the Narus officials he would fast-track visas for them to go to Libya the next day, this person said. Narus officials declined to travel to Tripoli, fearing damage to the company's reputation.

But it was too late for the regime. One week later, Libyan rebels seized control of Benghazi, the country's second largest city, and the capital of Tripoli was convulsing in antiregime protests. In early March, Col. Gadhafi shut down Libya's Internet entirely. The country remained offline until last week, when rebels won control of Tripoli.

Write to Paul Sonne at paul.sonne@wsj.com and Margaret Coker at margaret.coker@wsj.com

24436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ron Paul on Gay Marriage on: August 29, 2011, 08:38:16 PM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=EwdOMvoRSVc
24437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul on WoD on: August 29, 2011, 08:36:09 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws7Zp41fByE&feature=related
24438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ron Paul interviewed by Chris Wallace on: August 29, 2011, 08:18:23 PM
Too bad he is so tone deaf to reality on foreign affairs (not to say he is 100% wrong on everything, indeed occasionally some of his criticisms are well-founded but on the whole on foreign affairs he is a one note melody.)  That said, this is the best interview I've seen him give.  Chris Wallace- no easy touch!- seems to be increasing his respect for RP.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yzbmU2W4C8
24439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Buffet deconstructed on: August 29, 2011, 06:21:36 PM
A very savy market friend (Rick N. for those in the know) comments:

Buffett negotiated a new issue of perpetual cumulative preferred stock paying a 6% dividend.  A cumulative preferred issue means that all unpaid dividends must be paid to Buffett before BAC can pay any dividend to its common shareholders.   Right now, Treasury has prohibited BAC from paying any dividend to its common shareholders.  Once Treasury permits such a dividend to the common stock, BAC must first pay Buffett all past dividends that it was prevented from paying due to TARP, Treasury and FinReg.

 

The perpetual nature of the preferred stock makes BAC’s liability to Buffett infinite.  Treasury could prohibit BAC from paying dividends for decades, but BAC’s liability to Buffett/Berkshire Hathaway would still grow.  That liability accrues at $75 million per quarter starting from the end of the quarter after the issue date of the preferred shares.

 

I don’t think Buffett is betting on another bank bailout.  I believe that he is betting that BAC will extricate itself from TARP and will be permitted eventually to pay a dividend on its common shares.  Buffett has just stepped ahead of all of the little people by negotiating a dividend preference for his shareholders.  Treasury had to have approved this deal because it involves an accrued, perpetual dividend liability.  The cronyism exists in the regulatory approval of this deal, not in a likely bailout of BAC from its Countrywide acquisition.

24440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stewart on Megan wuzzername on: August 29, 2011, 04:34:37 PM
Gotta give props to Jon Stewart for anally plugging Megan Wuzzername of FOX this past week for being a hypocrite-- contrasting her on entitlements then getting in a snit over someone who criticized paid maternal leave as a scam or something like that.  You had to see it to appreciate-- quite the skewering!
24441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: August 29, 2011, 03:49:53 PM
Very interesting!
24442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Market undervalued 65%! on: August 29, 2011, 03:41:06 PM
Monday Morning Outlook

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Stocks Undervalued by 65% To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 8/29/2011


Market turmoil and a cycle of shrill headlines and worrisome “breaking news” convinced many to evacuate the equity markets. That was a mistake. The odds of recession are low, but the stock market seems to have priced one in, anyway.

We use a capitalized profits model to value stocks, dividing corporate profits by the 10-year Treasury yield. We compare the current level of this index to that from each quarter for the past 60 years to estimate an average fair-value. Not only are 10-year yields low (2.2%), but corporate profits are growing strongly. As a result, and hold onto your hats, this top down model says that the fair-value for the Dow is currently 40,000.

However, we think the Treasury market is in a bubble. So, instead of a 2.2% yield, we use a more conservative discount rate of 5% for the 10-year Treasury. This generates a “fair value” of 18,500 on the Dow and 1,940 for the S&P 500. In other words, the US equity markets are currently undervalued by about 65%.

Obviously, there are many moving parts to this model. Interest rates could go higher than 5%, profits could fall or both could happen. Profits, for example, are now 12.9% of GDP, the highest in measured history (back to 1947) except for one quarter in 1950.

So what does our model say if profits revert to the historical mean of about 9.5% of GDP? Even in that scenario, and assuming a 5% yield on the 10-year Treasury, equities are about 21% undervalued, with fair value at 1430 for the S&P 500 and 13,700 for the Dow.

 The problem with this scenario is that it takes the worst of both worlds: a major decline in profits and a surge in interest rates. In the real world, a large decline in profits would normally be accompanied by a drop in bond yields. In other words, our model says the risk of investing in equities today is very low.

This is the opposite of what was happening back in 1999/2000. Back then, the market was over-valued and an ounce of gold traded for roughly 4 shares of Intel (INTC). Today it is trading for about 75 shares. Stocks look cheap and we think fears about the economy are overblown.

Yes, it would be good to trade the ups and downs of this market, but we don’t know anyone who can do that consistently. Rather, we focus on valuation, risk and reward. And right now, we believe the reward outweighs the risk by more than many people seem to believe. Fear will not disappear overnight, but the model says it is overblown and stocks are extremely attractive.
24443  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Personal income increased .3% in July on: August 29, 2011, 03:36:49 PM
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Personal income increased 0.3% in July To view this article, Click Here
Brian S. Wesbury - Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA - Senior Economist
Date: 8/29/2011


Personal income increased 0.3% in July, matching consensus expectations. Personal consumption rose 0.8%, easily beating the consensus expected gain of 0.5%. In the past year, personal income is up 5.3% while spending is up 5.1%.

Disposable personal income (income after taxes) was up 0.3% in July and is up 4.0% versus a year ago. The gain in July was led by private-sector wages and salaries as well as dividends.
 
The overall PCE deflator (consumer inflation) increased 0.4% in July and is up 2.8% versus a year ago. The “core” PCE deflator, which excludes food and energy, was up 0.2% in July and is up 1.6% since last year.
 
After adjusting for inflation, “real” consumption was up 0.5% in July and is up 2.3% versus a year ago.
 
Implications:  Income and spending were doing well in July, before recent financial volatility, and revisions to prior months show more momentum for the economy. Personal income grew 0.3% in July, as the consensus expected, but a stronger 0.7% including upward revisions to prior months. Spending was up 0.8% in July, beating consensus expectations, and grew 1% including upward revisions to prior months. Spending on durable goods, such as autos, increased 1.9%, showing that supply-chain disruptions from Japan are abating.  Overall consumption prices rose 0.4% in July and are up 2.8% in the past year. Meanwhile, “core” consumption prices, which exclude food and energy, continue to accelerate, up a tame 1.6% in the past year, but up at a 2.2% annual rate in the past six months and a 2.5% rate in the past three months. Higher core inflation makes it difficult for the Federal Reserve to justify doing any additional quantitative easing. In our view, it makes it tough to justify committing to short-term interest rates near zero for the next two years. The Fed must be confused about how core inflation could be rising when the unemployment rate is above 9% and capacity utilization in the industrial sector is below 80%. In their worldview, core inflation should only be rising when resources are constrained, and we’re not even close to that environment in their thinking. In other news this morning, pending home sales, which are contracts on existing homes, declined 1.3% in July. However, given the 2.4% increase in June we still expect an increase in existing home sales (which are counted at closing) in August.
24444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 29, 2011, 12:39:05 PM
Pakistan, Afpakia really, IS a fiendish problem-- as together we document in the Afpakia thread.

In that it seems we are not likely to succeed in dealing with it there, where then are we to deal with hand-off and related risks if not here?
24445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 29, 2011, 12:36:41 PM
Good read CCP.
24446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 29, 2011, 11:31:12 AM
Working from memory:  Pakistan is now the 4th largest nuke power in the world.  The irresponsibility of those running it is well established and the risk of hand off to AQ et al or loss of materials or bombs to AQ et al is substantial.  Their will to act is irrefutable.

Sounds to me like this is well worth dealing with NOW.
24447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: NATO doctrine and the Libya endgame on: August 29, 2011, 11:20:59 AM
Summary
Following months of stalemate between the Libyan rebels and forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, the speed of the rebel advance that breached Tripoli in a matter of days surprised nearly all observers. With airstrikes by Western powers and the fighting capabilities of rebel forces having proved insufficient to dislodge Gadhafi from power, it is unlikely that their effect was enough to cause Gadhafi’s forces to seemingly crumble so dramatically. Special operations forces have been on the ground since before the air campaign began — some have even been officially acknowledged by NATO member states by this point — while information operations to shape perceptions both inside and outside the regime have been undertaken. These efforts, however, rapidly lose their effectiveness when their targets are able to endure the initial assault, and with Gadhafi loyalists continuing to put up resistance in parts of Tripoli and hold entire cities elsewhere in Libya, victory may not be as close as it would appear for NATO and the rebels.

Analysis
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The Libyan War: Full Coverage
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Rebels based in Libya’s western Nafusa Mountains region entered Tripoli on Aug. 21, pushing through what was widely anticipated to be stiff resistance by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces in the Libyan capital. The speed with which the rebels were able to enter the city was unexpected, given the months of relatively stalemated fighting between loyalist forces and the rebels, even with the aid of NATO airstrikes following the U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force in March.

Neither the cumulative effect of the Western bombing campaign nor a spontaneous improvement in the various rebel factions’ tactical capabilities — much less their ability to plan and coordinate — can sufficiently account for the rapid advance. A more compelling rationale for the apparent breakthrough by rebel forces is an aggressive clandestine campaign by NATO member states’ special operations forces, accompanied by deliberate information operations — efforts to shape perceptions of the conflict. Both of these strategies, however, have significant drawbacks, which could be exploited if Gadhafi and his loyalist forces are able to survive for an extended period.

The use of clandestine special operations teams in these circumstances is consistent with basic doctrine and operational concepts of both the United States and many of its key NATO allies. However, these special operations efforts have one significant potential shortcoming: Unless significant conventional ground combat forces are committed — forces NATO is unlikely to provide and the rebels are likely too divided and uncoordinated to provide themselves — the ability to secure their gains can be jeopardized by an opposition force able to survive the initial push. Small, elite special operations teams have little capacity for sustained, manpower-intensive security and stability operations — particularly on the scale necessary to adequately secure a city. It is not a role for which they are trained, equipped or intended.

The effectiveness of information operations also can be eroded when the carefully crafted narrative they built up — for example, that of a competent rebel army winning the universal support of the Libyan public, defeating Gadhafi and taking Tripoli with little resistance — begins to disintegrate in the face of reality. Gadhafi had likely prepared for these efforts by the West. With pockets of loyalist resistance persisting in Tripoli and pro-Gadhafi forces holding entire cities elsewhere in the country, the end of the Libyan conflict may not be as close as NATO and the rebels hope or expect.


Rebel Abilities and Airstrike Limitations

From the outset of the uprising, the rebels in the east, based out of Benghazi, never demonstrated the kind of tactical or logistical sophistication that would allow them to project and sustain combat forces across the long, open expanse of central coastal Libya (Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, situated in the middle of this expanse, remains in loyalist hands). Seizing a well-defended urban area from an opposition force presents enormous materiel and personnel challenges to even the best-trained and best-equipped military force. Rebels in the western city of Misurata proved to be more capable than their eastern counterparts, holding the city since April while withstanding a severe battering by Gadhafi’s forces. However, it was not until the Nafusa Mountain guerrillas farther southwest took the key city of Zawiya and joined with ethnic Arab fighters from along the coast that the march into Tripoli made any progress. (Rebels from Misurata were unable to reach Tripoli by land, but a small contingent reportedly arrived by sea during the assault from Zawiya.)



(click here to enlarge image)
The rebels were assisted by NATO air power (which served as the de facto rebel air force) during this push into Tripoli, but air power alone has a poor record of forcing capitulation by an entrenched enemy. Moreover, none of the members of the NATO alliance that participated in the air campaign against Libya were willing to match the political rhetoric of removing Gadhafi from power with the allocation of sufficient military force and resources to the country (likely meaning contingents of ground troops). Supplemented by sufficient ground combat strength, air power can be an impressive force multiplier. NATO airstrikes did destroy most of Gadhafi’s armor, artillery and command-and-control infrastructure. But by itself, air power cannot be decisive in this sort of scenario — as was shown by months of its application against Gadhafi. Meanwhile, even with an enormous influx of training and supplies, the rebel force was incapable of imposing a military reality, and with the inherent inability of air power to do so, the war was destined to — and did — quickly stall.

Gadhafi was well prepared to sustain attacks from Western air power, having survived the air campaign of Operation El Dorado Canyon in 1986. Airstrikes have long been a mainstay of U.S. strategy, and if Gadhafi did not know this before El Dorado Canyon, he certainly understood it after.


Special Operations Forces and Information Operations

Though the accuracy of precision-guided munitions has advanced significantly in recent years, target designation has long been the purview of forward air controllers. Particularly in circumstances where hostile targets are to be found in built-up urban areas close to civilian and friendly forces and remain indistinct from them, teams on the ground remain essential to striking the intended targets and minimizing civilian and friendly casualties and collateral damage.

The clandestine insertion of special operations teams trained for this task is thus in keeping with U.S. strategy (and by extension, the strategy of NATO’s most powerful military members, which share a common doctrinal legacy from the Cold War). But these covert operatives have capabilities far beyond identifying ideal targets for airstrikes that have a decapitating role, such as the command, control and communications nodes that any dictator knows may be taken out the moment hostilities break out (and likely assume to be compromised anyway). These teams also establish situational awareness and serve in an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance role. They can identify and make contact with elements of the population hostile to the adversary, establish relationships with these groups and prepare them to play an appropriate role as the tactical situation dictates. They can also attack critical targets at decisive moments to throw the adversary further off balance. At the same time, when they determine the decisive moment has arrived, these operatives can also bring the opposition forces they have cultivated to bear against the enemy.

But special operations forces by their very nature are elite, small and extraordinarily limited in how much they can take on at once. They cannot seize, much less hold, a major target of any size — certainly not an urban center. Just as break-contact procedures dictate that a special operations team make so much noise and commotion that the adversary that happened upon it assumes it stumbled into a company of 200 men and not a 12-man team, information operations are initiated to maximize the perception and psychological impact of special operations. They do not defeat the enemy directly, but they are intended to convince the adversary that he has lost. (Feedback from this effort can often reverberate into the global media as actual effects.)

Only then are rebel fighters from outside the city introduced. These outsiders are guided to the resistance movements within the city with the intent of creating a force of sufficient size to consolidate the gains achieved by the special operations forces and information operation efforts and to reinforce the adversary’s perceptions already cultivated by previous efforts. The goal is to prepare the ground in a given location, use highly trained Western forces and the air power directed by them to smash into the city, and then occupy it with rebel forces covertly directed by teams already in the city.

With the exception of special cases like the early phases of operations in Afghanistan in late 2001 (where the United States desperately needed to demonstrate it was executing a strong and decisive response to the 9/11 attacks) and the killing of Osama bin Laden (a highly symbolic act), Western military doctrine is not to discuss or claim victory for special operations forces. There are two reasons for this. The first is that it is often politically important that domestic forces appear to have achieved victory; allowing other perceptions could politically delegitimize the group Western powers intended to assist. The second is that the special operations forces have to be withdrawn quietly and safely — as the political explanation of results on the battlefield often begins while those forces are still in harm’s way. Meanwhile, the manner of their deployment and extraction, the sources on the ground on which they relied and their tactics, techniques and practices in the field are valuable information to be protected both in the event they have to re-enter the city and for operations elsewhere in the world.

These forces, by their nature and by their training, are unknown and unseen. They choose areas of operation carefully, away from observers that might report what they see to entities capable of interpreting them for what they are. This is the art of special operations and is essential for operational security in an inherently perilous environment. This is not only an American phenomenon (though U.S. special operations forces are said to be operating in nearly a third of the countries in the world) but also a defining characteristic of French operatives (particularly in Africa) and British teams. Multiple countries, including the United Kingdom and Italy, have openly admitted at this point that they have special operations teams on the ground in Libya, though they have gone out of their way to emphasize their small size and downplay their accomplishments — seeking to emphasize that they played at most a small role in victory.

All military organizations have training and doctrines. It is very difficult to do things that you are not trained to do and to abandon doctrines that are successful. As rebel efforts in eastern Libya proved, wars are not won by untrained enthusiasts. NATO’s goal, and the goal of the resistance it supports in Libya, is to crush loyalist opposition before it becomes apparent that Gadhafi’s capitulation is not inevitable —sufficient military force has not been allocated to impose defeat. Also, as there are limits on the patience of the domestic populations of the NATO allies participating in the campaign, these loyalists must be defeated before a crisis emerges within the NATO command that makes negotiations with Gadhafi necessary.


Gadhafi’s Response

As demonstrated by the perseverance of loyalist forces in the months following the NATO air campaign, Gadhafi’s forces retained considerable freedom of action, unit cohesion and will to fight. This is merely further evidence of the fact that Gadhafi understood and planned for the Western way of war laid out above. After all, one can anticipate how to respond to a known potential adversary with a known doctrine. Whether he anticipated the beginning of the air campaign in March, it was exactly the sort of attack Gadhafi had already experienced in 1986 and had no doubt prepared for in the years since (though this round has been far longer and more intense and eventually came to include the explicit goal of regime change). Intelligence and counterintelligence efforts of his own — no doubt already focused on opposition groups — would entail continuing to monitor centers of resistance while trying to track down foreign covert operatives.

Gadhafi could have pushed for a crisis within NATO by attempting a bloody, drawn-out fight for Tripoli, but in doing so he would also run the risk of being pinned down, trapped and ultimately forced to capitulate or fight to the death. Though the status of Gadhafi, his remaining relatives and the strength and unity of his remaining forces is unknown, his alternative would be to leave Tripoli before that force is able to mass, declining combat (much as the Taliban declined combat on American terms in Kabul in 2001) and conserving his remaining strength, even as fighting continues in Tripoli and some cities remain in loyalist hands. Meanwhile, Gadhafi will likely initiate counterinformation operations to combat and reverse the perceptions NATO and the rebels have tried to create to undermine the regime. At the same time, the tactics of Gadhafi’s forces will likely shift to falling back to prepared positions in order to continue the resistance.


Searching for an Endgame

The question moving forward will be the nature and strength of loyalist resistance. A negotiated settlement will be difficult while fighting continues. Meanwhile, the persistence of active fighting and Gadhafi continuing to hold out and remain at large prevent NATO from ending the conflict. And with the rebel seizure of many parts of Tripoli, the potential exists for Gadhafi and his forces to fall back and initiate a more sustained, decentralized guerrilla resistance from prepared positions.

Perhaps more important, Gadhafi has freed himself of the costs and challenges of securing and controlling Tripoli, which are now the responsibility of NATO and the rebels. The logistical and security challenges of feeding and controlling a metropolitan area are enormous and without a sizable contingent of conventional foreign troops, the city will remain poorly secured and vulnerable to loyalist cells conducting raids and other attacks inside the city. Gadhafi may indeed be on the run, but that hardly necessarily means that victory is at hand for NATO and the rebels.

24448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 28, 2011, 11:18:16 PM
OK then, how about a 911 every month?  every quarter? semi-annually? annually?  Bi-annually?  At what point does it get your attention?

Remember 911 was the second time they went after the WTC.  Also to be remembered is that plane #3 was targeting the White House (and went after the Pentagon after it missed) and Flight 93 was after either the Capitol Building or Three Mile Island.  Methinks the one in 3.5 million datum misses quite a bit and misleads quite a bit.

24449  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / ABB on: August 28, 2011, 05:49:20 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7hzcLZ7uRc&feature=related
24450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 28, 2011, 05:38:13 PM
JDN:

I get the point, but for arguments sake lets say that the measures taken have been effective and have stopped additional 911 attacks.   As best as I can tell the numbers this guy is using cannot measure and therefore do not take account of, this possibility, yes?   And as such, the value of the numbers is , , , less than as presented, yes?
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