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24501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Nothing but Misogynists on: May 24, 2008, 09:25:36 AM
'Nothing but Misogynists'
By DONALD J. BOUDREAUX
May 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton is now complaining that her candidacy has been harmed by sexism. Interviewed earlier this week by the Washington Post, Sen. Clinton said the polls show that "more people would be reluctant to vote for a woman [than] to vote for an African American." This gender bias, she grumbled, "rarely gets reported on."

So a woman who holds degrees from Wellesley and Yale – who has earned millions in the private sector, won two terms in the U.S. Senate, and gathered many more votes than John Edwards, Bill Richardson and several other middle-aged white guys in their respective bids for the 2008 Democratic nomination – feels cheated because she's a woman.

Seems doubtful. But hey, I'm a guy and perhaps hopelessly insensitive. So let's give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that her campaign has indeed suffered because of sexism.

This fact (if it be a fact) reveals a hitherto unknown, ugly truth about the Democratic Party. The alleged bastion of modern liberalism, toleration and diversity is full of (to use Mrs. Clinton's own phrase) "people who are nothing but misogynists." Large numbers of Democratic voters are sexists. Who knew?

But here's another revelation. If Mrs. Clinton is correct that she is more likely than Barack Obama to defeat John McCain in November, that implies Republicans and independents are less sexist than Democrats.

It must be so. If American voters of all parties are as sexist as the Democrats, Mr. Obama would have a better chance than Mrs. Clinton of defeating Mr. McCain. The same misogyny that thwarted her in the Democratic primaries would thwart her in the general election. Only if registered Republicans and independents are more open-minded than registered Democrats – only if people who lean GOP or who have no party affiliation are more willing than Democrats to overlook a candidate's sex and vote on the issues – could Mrs. Clinton be a stronger candidate.

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. But if I ever become convinced that Mrs. Clinton is correct that sexism played a role in her disappointing showing in the Democratic primaries – and that she truly is her party's strongest candidate to take on John McCain – I might finally join a party: the GOP. At least it's not infested with sexists.

Mr. Boudreaux is chairman of the economics department at George Mason University.
24502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Protesting the protestors on: May 24, 2008, 09:21:08 AM
Protesting the Antiwar Protestors
By KEVIN FERRIS
May 24, 2008

West Chester, Pa.

Memorial Day isn't until Monday. But for Rich Davis, a 20-year veteran of the Navy, it seems to come every Saturday. That's when he pulls out a handmade sign and heads for a street corner near the Chester County Court House in this suburban Philadelphia community.

Mr. Davis, 54, is a pro-military protester who makes a public stand each week in support of the troops and their mission.

 
Sean Carpenter 
Supporters of the Chester County Victory Movement rally on May 17, 2008.
In 2001, Mr. Davis retired from the Navy and ended up settling in West Chester, where he spent 2006 and 2007 watching antiwar protesters rally each Saturday from 11 a.m. until noon outside the courthouse near his apartment. The Chester County Peace Movement, Mr. Davis would later learn, had been demonstrating at the site since March 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq. At first he hoped someone would challenge the protesters, speak up for the troops, and defend their mission. On Sept. 8, 2007 he decided that someone had to be him.

Mr. Davis had been building to such a decision for a long time. He was just a kid during the Vietnam War, but he is still bothered by the disrespect heaped on returning Vietnam vets in the 1960s and '70s. In part that is because, in 1967, Mr. Davis attended the funeral of a man he idolized – his sister's boyfriend, Marine Lance Cpl. Alan R. Schultz from Levittown, Pa. Schultz was killed by mortar fire in Vietnam.

"Al was a great guy," Mr. Davis remembers. "When we got the word that he had been killed, I felt the bottom fall out. I cried the rest of that summer."

Even today, Mr. Davis can't look at an antiwar protest without thinking that Schultz, his comrades and their modern-day counterparts are being disrespected. So after seeing the war protesters each week, Mr. Davis said to himself, "Not this war. Not this time."

"We're not silent anymore," Mr. Davis told me. "We refuse to let antiwar protesters have the stage to themselves."

Not that he wants to stifle dissent. He just doesn't want to go unanswered the signs and protests that he believes encourage the enemy and demoralize U.S. troops. So, sign in hand in September, he walked to the corner praying he would have the strength to stand there, to be seen and heard.

Seen he was. Though there was plenty of room on the corner, he says he was bumped, shoved and challenged. One person asked, "Do you live in fear?" Another demanded, "Why don't you go and serve?"

"They had that corner for five years, every Saturday, unopposed," Mr. Davis told me. "They couldn't stand the thought of one person having a sign they couldn't tolerate."

More people than the antiwar protesters took notice. A few weeks after he started his own weekly protests, Mr. Davis had about 40 sign-holding, flag-waving supporters at his side, thanks to support from the Gathering of Eagles, a national organization supporting the troops.

The number of antiwar protesters began to swell in response, which led to an increase in taunts hurled between the two groups. Mr. Davis admits the childish behavior cut both ways. "At times we have been confrontational and done things that were inappropriate, especially in the early days." But now, he says, "I have zero tolerance for yelling and buffoonery."

In March, an angry antiwar protester hit a woman who covers the weekly demonstrations on her pro-troop blog. That led the local police to lay down a few ground rules. Now each group is to keep to its own side of the street, and the two groups swap sides of the street each week.

There are a few other changes. Mr. Davis's once informal group is getting organized. They have a name, Chester County Victory Movement, and a Web site (www.americansheepdogs.com) that they use to share information about welcoming troops home, sending care packages, and joining discussions at West Chester University.

Mr. Davis also sends weekly emails to thank people for their support, and to pass on encouragement. A few members of Mr. Davis's group meet regularly to discuss problems. At these meetings, some people raise ideas aimed at embarrassing those on the antiwar side of the street. But Mr. Davis constantly refers back to the reason that brought him to the corner in the first place: letting the public and the troops know that there is a reservoir of support for the sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines who risk their lives to fight the war on terror.

"Every time we go out, I remind the guys that we represent more than ourselves," he told me. "The troops and their families look at us. So I hope we present ourselves with the same type of dignity, courage and honor that our own sons and daughters are showing in Iraq and Afghanistan."

What Mr. Davis wants those troops to see is the solid wall of red, white and blue of his group's flags and "Support Our Troops" signs. He averages about 30 supporters a week, but hopes for a larger turnout for Flag Day, June 14.

Mr. Davis notes that he has been accused of being part of a vast right-wing conspiracy that trains and pays pro-troop advocates. Asked about that, he offers an answer that may inspire others to join his efforts.

"In a way they're right," he told me. "I was trained by a family that taught me to love our country, not blame it. And I am paid by troops and their families who say thanks for doing this, thanks for being here."

Mr. Ferris is an assistant editor and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
24503  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Law on: May 24, 2008, 09:07:02 AM
"Another interesting question might have been, if I was stopped by the officer in LA and he noticed my 6" screwdriver on the seat next to me; what would he do?  Probably nothing, but IF he asked, "what is the screwdriver for?" and I said, "self defense", he would be entitled to arrest me for having a dagger longer than 3" (LA City Limit).

"But the issue still is not "intent".  The issue is whether the instrument is legal to carry or not."

Disagree.  By your own words it is precisely the intent that turns it into a dagger.

As for the right to not answer, I suppose so-- but I submit that an answer the equivalent of "I don't have to tell you" is likely to heighten the LEO's propensity to make all the negative inferences he can and act upon them.  Yes?
24504  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sean sherk vs. bj penn on: May 24, 2008, 08:59:40 AM
I caught a bit of the buzz build show on Spike and heard BJ talking about how SS's use of steroids indicated a weak mind/heart.  SS denied using steroids.  Any athoughts on his innocence or guilt and the implications thereof?
24505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / NY Times: Rain Forest for sale on: May 24, 2008, 08:45:25 AM
40 Million Acres of Rain Forest for the Greenest Bidder


 
By ROBERT B. SEMPLE Jr.
Published: May 24, 2008
The other day I went to a meeting to hear Harrison Ford talk about saving the rain forests and ended up listening to a man who has a rain forest to save: Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The occasion was the announcement of a new campaign to protect the world’s rain forests, Guyana’s included, organized by the environmental group Conservation International. (Mr. Ford, a board member, was in New York to promote his new movie and somehow got his schedule wrong.)

That left the spotlight where it belonged: on Mr. Jagdeo and his mission to get the world’s rich nations to help save Guyana’s huge rain forest from chainsaws and prevent the release of billions of tons of carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas.

Mr. Jagdeo caused a stir last year when he offered to cede the management of his country’s entire rain forest — 40-plus million acres, covering 80 percent of Guyana’s land mass — to a British government agency in return for British economic assistance. Though the British have yet to take him up on the deal, Mr. Jagdeo continues to press the case for protecting not only his rain forest, but all of them.

It is a noble and necessary mission. The rain forests form a cooling band around Earth’s equator. And their accelerating loss — from logging, farming, mining and burning — is a major cause of climate change, accounting for one-fifth of all carbon-dioxide emissions. That is more than the amount the United States puts into the atmosphere from all sources and more than the emissions generated by all of the world’s cars, trucks, buses and airplanes.

Rain forests serve many important purposes. They provide clean water, protection against floods and the basis for many medicines. Yet their most useful function in a warming world is to absorb carbon and store it.

For too long these facts have been undervalued in discussions of climate change. At the Kyoto talks in 1997, for instance, various nations proposed that industrialized countries be allowed to offset some of their own emissions by paying poorer countries not to cut down their forests. European environmental groups fiercely resisted the idea, warning that this would let rich countries off the hook, and engineered the proposal’s defeat.

That was a colossal blunder for which the planet has been paying ever since. Rain forests continue to disappear at a rate of 20 million to 30 million acres every year.

Mr. Jagdeo is the perfect champion for the rain forests. Guyana, together with Suriname, French Guiana and sections of Venezuela and northern Brazil form the Guayana Shield, an ancient geologic formation that contains 14 percent of the world’s carbon. The hope is that his example will inspire bigger countries like Brazil to take a far more aggressive role in protecting their forests from commercial development.

He also speaks with authority about the impact of global warming on poorer countries. He noted the other day that while climate change might require wealthy Americans to drive fewer S.U.V.’s, it is a matter of life and death for poor countries that face floods and drought. Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, is right at sea level. If the seas rise substantially, Georgetown goes.

Finally, as an economist by training, Mr. Jagdeo is a persuasive advocate for new ways of looking at the economic value of forests. Right now, he suggests, too many countries put no dollar value at all on their standing forests. So any payment they get from harvesting trees is seen as a clear profit. If forests are correctly valued — for the carbon they sequester and the damage they spare the planet — then there is far more to gain from leaving them in tact.

The good news is that the world is finally starting to see things Mr. Jagdeo’s way. Negotiators at last year’s climate change conference in Bali — the first of several meetings aimed at crafting a post-Kyoto treaty — agreed to address deforestation. The big climate bill that is expected to be debated on the Senate floor very soon provides incentives for American companies to invest in rain-forest projects abroad. Mr. Jagdeo may yet wind up with a buyer.
24506  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: desperately seeking dogbrother on: May 23, 2008, 11:56:32 PM
I once had a stranger show up at my house  unannounced shocked angry with a 6" DBMA logo tatooed on his chest with visions of sitting in front of my house until I accepted him as a student , , ,
24507  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: sean sherk vs. bj penn on: May 23, 2008, 11:54:36 PM
Any calls on Lyotto Machida's (sp?) fight?  I used to spar with him at RAW and coached him a couple of times on DBMA Kali Tudo.  He's a lefty and seemed very interested in the ideas we worked together.  Very nice guy-- naturally I am routing for him.
24508  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife Law on: May 23, 2008, 11:51:27 PM
Which brings me to my point. 

If a LEO pulls over someone with a baseball bat on his front seat, and conversation reveals no baseball game in the near past or future, and upon query as to the reason for the bat the answer is given "Self Defense", I'm thinking this could lead to legally unhappy consequences.

Re Section 12020, I'm thinking the same applies to that screwdriver in your pocket.  If frisked per a "Terry stop" (calling all LEOs, am I using the term correctly?) i.e. a pat down search and the screwdriver turns up and your answer is "self-defense", again I am thinking your intent could lead to legally unhappy consequences.

Yes?
24509  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: May 23, 2008, 07:24:05 PM
Woof Rachel:

You seem like someone worthy of having an intelligent conversation wtih.  The problem on my end is that I sense this to be a subject that once entered is likely to call for considerable and extended conversation-- and I have many demands upon my time.  My random participation in the thread could be misinterpreted as meaning I couldn't handle the conversation or was being rude or something like that.  If you can accept these limitations of mine in the conversation, I am game.

Also, I would like everyone to note the word "conversation".   I have some strong opinions on the subject and they are incorrect.  For anyone who cannot handle this, as my Tort professor in law school would say "too bad, so sad."  That said, as strongly as we may disagree, we need to keep the spirit of conversation at all times.

With that said, let me see if I can sort my thoughts out:

First, my basic attitude is that gays/lesbians are free to be gay and others are free to make of it what they will.  That includes thinking it is wrong, repulsive, condemned by God, something to avoid, whatever.

Flowing from the first thought, is the second, making anti-gay thoughts, feelings, employment practices, etc. illegal is liberal fascism.  Government is force and contrary to the Orwellian liberal use of the word "progressive", progress is increasing the amount of voluntary human interaction.  Increasing violence and coercion i.e. the role of the State in human interaction, is the opposite of progress.

Third, by definition marriage is between a man and a woman.  It is not for the courts to redefine the foundational relationship of our society.  Just like Roe v. Wade, the only basis for the CA S. Ct decision and the MA S. Ct. decision is liberal arrogance and judicial imperialism.

Fourth, liberal fascism does not seem willing to compromise.  The offers of compromises such as "domestic partnership" and "Don't ask, don't tell" are disingenuous lies used simply to work towards imposing through the violence of government action an Orwellian  thought crime.

Fifth, there are areas where discrimination probably is a pretty good idea.  For example, a lesbian probably should not be taking a girls school group on an overnight outing.  I don't want a gay scout leader in my son's cub scout troop.    (I note that liberal fascism hounds the Boy Scouts for this very reason-- this fine, wholesome group faces litigation wherever it goes, particularly if it wants to use a facility with some sort of governmental qualities.)  Because I have never served I defer to those that have, but it seems to me that the military is probably a good place for discrimination too.  I would not want to be in a squad with a gay sargeant when it came to deciding who had to take lead the way through the minefield.  It seems quite logical to me that in the close quarters of combat operations in particular, that disciplinary problems could result.

Sixth and last, and probably the most important, I think it should be a strike against someone who wants to adopt.  We can squabble over the exact %, (I think it around 97%) but most children are straight and to place them in the care of "parents" who are not is profoundly wrong.  Children are born to imitate, their parents most of all, and to have a hetero boy naturally and inadvertently absorb the mannerisms of a fairy father and the man who _______ him is to indulge narcisstic cruelty of the highest order.  To have a hetero girl have to turn to lesbian mothers as she seeks to mature into the complexities and challanges of what it is to be a woman and think it does not matter that her "mothers" are at best clueless about men and at worst quite hostile to them is to be an intellectual coward.

Well, there it is.  The Adventure is begun.
Marc
24510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Oil and the Fed on: May 23, 2008, 02:13:19 PM
Second post of day

Oil and the Fed
May 23, 2008
So the Federal Reserve is signaling that its rate-cutting binge may finally be over, and we can be grateful for that small favor. The consequences of its easy-money bender will roll through the economy for years to come, however, so it's important to draw the right lessons.

All the more so because the Fed's most senior officials continue to insist that recent price increases have almost nothing to do with . . . monetary policy. Imagine that. The latest to wash his hands of responsibility for the value of the currency is Donald Kohn, the Fed's current Vice Chairman and long-time resident intellectual. In a speech in New Orleans this week, Mr. Kohn acknowledged soaring oil and food prices, but he blamed them on global supply and demand for corn, oil and so on.

"As interest rates in the United States fell relative to those abroad, the dollar declined, which could have boosted the prices of commodities commonly priced in dollars by reducing their cost in terms of other currencies," Mr. Kohn explained. "But the prices of commodities have risen substantially in terms of all currencies, not just the dollar. In sum, lower interest rates and the reduced foreign exchange value of the dollar may have played a role in the rise in the prices of oil and other commodities, but it probably has been a small one."

If Mr. Kohn really believes this, we're in more trouble than we thought.

For starters, he is simply wrong about the relative price of commodities and other currencies. The price of oil has risen far more rapidly in dollars than it has in euros since 2002. David King points this out today with a chart that we have run in the past. Had the Fed merely kept the dollar stable against the euro, the price of oil would be closer to $80 than to $131 a barrel.

No one denies that supply and demand play a role in commodity prices, but oil on global markets is denominated in dollars. When the value of the greenback falls, and especially when speculators anticipate that it will fall further, oil sellers demand more dollars for their product. This was the experience of the 1970s, the last time the Fed lost its monetary moorings, and we have been living through a sequel this decade.

As recently as last August, the dollar price of oil was only $70. The current spike in oil and other commodity prices coincides almost exactly with the Fed's decision to turn the monetary spigots wide open as a response to the credit crunch. They have since taken the fed funds rate down to 2% from 5.25%, while commodity prices have soared.

Oil prices have jumped recently on reports of higher global demand, but this too reveals a Fed miscalculation. The central bankers have justified their rapid plunge down the yield curve as necessary to avoid a recession, arguing that a slowing economy would mitigate any inflationary impact. Yet the economy has been far more resilient than either the Fed or its Wall Street beseechers expected, and we may still avoid a single negative quarter for gross domestic product this year.

As for inflation, this week's producer price numbers were alarming. The wholesale inflation figure is up 6.5% in the last year, despite an anomalous April decline in gasoline prices. That decline won't continue with $131 oil. With even the Fed's phony "core inflation" rate well above the 2% fed funds rate, Mr. Kohn and company are running a negative real interest rate policy.

 
No wonder inflation expectations have been rising. Economist Michael Darda points out that the University of Michigan's year-ahead inflation survey hit 5.2% in May, the highest reading since 1982. Yet some at the Fed continue to insist that inflation expectations are "well-anchored." Anchored on what planet?

The price for this Fed blunder is going to be very high, and we don't mean only at the grocery store or gas station. If inflation doesn't fall, the Fed will have no choice but to start raising rates again, perhaps rapidly and perhaps soon. That could put a damper on any economic recovery, especially if it coincides with the huge tax increase that Barack Obama is promising next year.

Politically, meanwhile, the Fed's commodity spike is proving to be deadly for the Republican Party that occupies the White House. As the nearby poll question shows, rising prices overall and gas prices specifically are by far the public's biggest economic worries. Voters are understandably furious because they can see that their real incomes are falling as prices rise. This is the real source of middle-class economic anxiety – not the housing recession, or jobs, or the liberal obsession with income inequality.

Republicans may be punished this November for forgetting that the Reagan policy mix had two levers – tax cuts and stable money. The Bush Administration got tax policy right. Its tragic error was falling for the siren song of dollar depreciation, and abetting a Federal Reserve that even now seems not to comprehend the damage it has done.
24511  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 23, 2008, 01:55:07 PM
Scott:

I've pasted your post on the Self Defense thread.

Jason:

I've pasted your post on a new thread "Knife Laws"

TAC,
CD
24512  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Knife Law on: May 23, 2008, 01:53:45 PM
Knife law is varies from jurisdiction to jurisdicition.  This thread is to help us know what the laws are, where to find them, to discuss them and so forth.  We open with a post from the Kerambit vs. Straight knife thread by James in response to a question from me:
============
Crafty:

I will do my best.

California Penal Code 653k       Legal knife stuff.  But note, no mention of length; any length is therefore ok.  Dirks, daggers, fixed blades, folders etc. are legal.  Switchblades, cane knives, etc. are illegal.

California Penal Code 12020     Street Carry Laws...Fixed blades must be openly carried; note any possible weapon, i.e. a screwdriver carried concealed can be considered a dagger and you could be in violation.  Non switchblade pocket knives that are in the closed position can legally be carried concealed or open carry.

California Penal Code 626.10    Basically, don't carry a knife K-12.  However on a college campus while you may not carry a fixed blade, you may carry a folder of any length.

Los Angeles City Ordinance     I am sorry, I don't know the Ordinance, but I do know that LA prohibits open carry (and remember State Law says no concealed carry for a fixed blade) of ANY knife over 3".  This would include folders.  However, if you carry your folder 100% concealed, and it is over 3", this would seem to be legal but...

NOTE, nowhere in any CA Law (in contrast to some other states) is INTENT mentioned.  Intent is not an issue until you use the knife; but that is a whole other discussion.

Crafty, I hope the above helps.
=========

Maybe  cheesy

I certainly appreciate your giving us the sections of the CA code involved and your summary of them.  May I push my luck further and ask for the URLs and/or the actual language of the statutes?

Also, may I suggest what remains open on the question of intent is whether one is allowed to carry ANYTHING with the intent of it being a weapon?  A baseball bat is legal , , , for baseball.  A bat for the purpose of a weapon may not be.  Anyone?

CD
============
24513  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Common Law Principles on: May 23, 2008, 01:45:58 PM
Pasting Scott's post from the Kerambit thread here:
==========

Some reading:

Self-defense

Common law principles

 Deadly force used in self-defense is justified at common law when:  The defendant is a non-aggressor and the defendant reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to repel an imminent, unlawful, and deadly attack by the other person.  This set of elements also fit the structure of a justification defense, namely: (1) Proportionality – the force used is proportional and reasonable in relation to the harm threatened.  (2) Necessity – the force used is necessary to protect the interest at stake.  Deadly force generally means either force likely to cause death or serious bodily harm.  In order to justify the use of self-defense on the basis of deadly force, you must be trying to repel deadly force in response.  You can use deadly force to defend against potential crimes other than murder.

 At common law, if you act in justifiable self-defense, you’re not guilty of any crime.  Even if you prove all the elements of the crime of murder, if you have a justification, then you’re not guilty.  Even if you have the intent to kill that usually constitutes malice, you may not be guilty of the offense.

 The “aggressor” issue

 You can’t use deadly force in self-defense if you’re the aggressor at the time of the conflict.  In order to find the aggressor, we are looking for an “affirmative unlawful act reasonably calculated to produce” a potentially fatal fight.  Self-defense cannot be claimed by someone who deliberately puts himself in danger.

 “Reasonable belief” at common law

 Say a defendant shoots someone believing they have a real gun when the gun is actually fake.  Under the reasonable belief requirement, even though the person couldn’t or wouldn’t have killed the defendant, the defendant still is acquitted even though what he did was objectively wrong.  However, if, on the other hand, the gun was obviously a toy then the defendant loses the self-defense claim because the belief about the threat wasn’t objectively reasonable.

 People v. Goetz – The reasonable person standard for self-defense as justification is an objective standard.  Goetz felt that the prosecution gave an objective standard whereas the standard should have been subjective based on the statute.  The intermediate appellate court argued that the emphasis in the phrase “he reasonably believes” is on “he”.  That becomes a subjective standard because we’re not interested in what a reasonable person would do, but rather whether the defendant thought he was doing a reasonable thing.

 The thing is that the defendant will obviously think that what he’s doing is reasonable.  But the defendant may be an unreasonable person.

 The Court of Appeals of New York rules that the statute was meant to create an objective standard.  But how objective did the legislature intend it to be?  Who is that reasonable person?

 
How can it be justifiable to kill an objectively innocent person?  We might excuse someone for it, but maybe it wouldn’t be justified.  The common law says, on the other hand, that such an act would not be justified, but rather excused.  Dressler argues that this could create a situation where two people could justifiably kill each other.

State v. Wanrow – The jury may “stand in the shoes” of the defendant in assessing whether his or her conduct was justified.  The basic issue in this case is bringing gender into the discussion of the reasonable person.  What does this case stand for?  Does this mean that a woman who uses self-defense must be judged by the standard of a reasonable woman, or must she be judged by the objective standard of a reasonable person?  The ruling says that the defendant’s actions must be judged subjectively, not objectively.  After this case, case law has clarified this result to mean that they use a “reasonable woman” standard.  The Model Penal Code chooses “designedly ambiguous” language to describe the standard of behavior: “a reasonable person in the actor’s situation”.

State v. Norman – If North Carolina applies the common law, why isn’t Norman entitled to a self-defense claim?  It rests on the meaning of the word “imminent”.  At common law, this term means “just about right now”.  We’re talking seconds, not minutes or hours or days or weeks.  Since that’s not what we have in Norman, the Supreme Court of North Carolina represents the traditional view.  Under the ruling of this case and in most common law jurisdictions, Norman would not even be entitled to an instruction on the justification of self-defense.

 Does syndrome evidence arguably turn a justification defense into an excuse?

 “Self-protection” and the Model Penal Code

 § 3.04(2)(b)(i) deals with one limitation on the use of deadly force: the defendant mustn’t provoke the use of force with the purpose of causing death or serious bodily injury.  The Model Penal Code says that § 3.04(2)(b)(ii) says that you can’t use self-defense if you can retreat, except if you’re in your own home or you’re a public officer.  The Model Penal Code, as well as common law, treats human life very, very highly.  The sanctity of human life is valued so highly that the law doesn’t even want “bad guys” killed unless it’s absolutely necessary.  Thus, it’s very difficult under the Model Penal Code and at common law to win on a self-defense claim.

 The Model Penal Code doesn’t focus on the amount of time before the actor will be killed, rather, it focuses on the actor to figure out if it is necessary now to use deadly force against the victim.

 § 3.04.  This statute uses the word “immediately necessary” rather than “imminent”.  The provision is general.  The deadly force provision is § 3.04(2)(b).  Even if you meet § 3.04(1), there are additional conditions in order for a valid justification to be constructed.

 If an actor’s belief is sincere but reckless or negligent, the actor isn’t justified as far as reckless or negligent offenses.  If the defendant was negligent in believing that a toy gun was actually real, then under the Model Penal Code the defendant wouldn’t be guilty of murder.  The defendant would be guilty of negligent homicide if the defendant was negligent, and the defendant would be guilty of manslaughter if the defendant was reckless.

 What the Model Penal Code does that is dramatically different from common law is that it doesn’t like the “all-or-nothing” proposition.  In the three situations above, the defendant is not guilty in the first case, not guilty in the second case, but fully guilty in the third case.  On the other hand, the Model Penal Code allows conviction for a lesser crime in the third case.

 Necessity

 
Three elements are required in order to show necessity: (1) The act charged must have been done to prevent a significant evil.  (2) There must have been no adequate alternative.  (3) The harm caused must not have been disproportionate to the harm avoided.

 Nelson v. State – There’s a balancing test here between the harm actually caused and the harm averted by the act.  That’s the very definition of necessity.

 The drafters of the Model Penal Code § 3.02 thought the necessity defense was essential because we want to encourage sort of “efficient breach” of the law.  If obeying the law involves greater harm to society than breaking the law, we want people to break it.  This is kind of a belt to keep the legislature’s pants from falling down in exceptional situations.  If the legislature would have said “Yes, break the law in this case”, then we want to let the offender off the hook.  It would be irrational to want people to obey the law if we believed that the legislature in a certain situation would say “do break the law” because that would result in a better outcome for society than obeying the law.

 Although necessity (or the “choice of evils” justification defense) is typically thought of as a utilitarian justification because of its balancing aspect, it can also be viewed in non-utilitarian terms by comparing the moral value of one choice of action against another.

 A defendant must actually believe that his conduct is necessary to avert a greater evil (and not an equal or lesser evil).  The necessity defense doesn’t help you if you recklessly or negligently created the necessity.

 The Queen v. Dudley and Stephens – This is the single most important case in Anglo-American jurisprudence to deal with the following question: is it ever justifiable to kill an innocent person in order to save a greater number of innocent persons?  The court suggests that sometimes the law has to set up standards that we can’t really live up to.  Can we punish someone when we all would have done the same thing?

 If you’re a retributivist, then it is never right to kill an innocent person in order to save a greater number of innocent lives.  If you’re a Kantian, you believe that you must never use a person as a means to an end rather than as an end in itself.  That’s what Dudley and Stephens did with Parker: they used him as a means to an end, violating what Kant would say is a categorical imperative.

 Excuse

 Excuse focuses on the actor, not the act.  Excuse concedes that the act was bad, but there was something about the actor such that we’re willing to let them go without punishment.  When we use an excuse defense, the burden of proof is placed on the defendant.

 Bentham says that an excuse is a defense when their conduct was nondeterrable.  The only use for punishment, in a utilitarian view, is deterrence.  Therefore, if there is no value to punishment and only a net social cost, we shouldn’t punish.

 However, say there are some people who are genuinely undeterrable.  There may still be some utilitarian value in punishing an undeterrable person due to specific deterrence or incapacitation.  What about the general deterrence value in punishing an undeterrable person?  If we excuse an undeterrable person, someone else might get the wrong message.  Someone else might believe that they can convince a jury that they are undeterrable.  Generally speaking, they may be less likely to obey the law because they will perceive it as full of holes.

 Retributivists say that we have excuses because we don’t want to blame those who were not responsible for their actions.  To blame someone who is not responsible for his actions is a falsehood.  It is a matter of justice to excuse certain people even though they have caused some social harm.

 Excuse law is now explained almost exclusively by some sort of retributive theory rather than utilitarian theory.  Even the utilitarian argument has a retributivist aspect to it.

 Our theories of excuse are: (1) Utilitarian theories, (2) causation, (3) character, and (4) choice (personhood).

 Duress

 Duress is an excuse and not a justification.  Most jurisdictions treat it in this way.  At common law, duress is no excuse for murder.  In the Model Penal Code, however, there is no murder exception.

 United States v. Contento-Pachon – There are three elements of the duress defense, according to the court: (1) immediacy of the threat, (2) well-grounded fear of the threat, and (3) lack of escapability from the threat.

 Another way of describing duress as an excuse is that a person will be acquitted of any crime other than murder if: (1) the coercer issues an unlawful threat to imminently kill or grievously injure the defendant or another person, and (2) the defendant was not at fault in exposing himself to the threat.

 The court also says that a necessity defense suggests that there was no social harm on balance.   On the other hand, the court says that duress suggests there was no culpability.  The court therefore implies that necessity is a justification rather than an excuse.

 The Model Penal Code definition of duress is revolutionary compared to the common law.  It’s different from the common law definition in many different ways.  There is a limit to duress under Model Penal Code § 3.02: the threat listed is “unlawful force”.  Only humans can do unlawful things.  The Model Penal Code is like the common law in the fact that it limits the defense of duress to human threats.  However, under the category of necessity, the Model Penal Code would allow either natural or human threats.  The Model Penal Code is well aware of this.  It says that even if § 3.02 applies, § 2.09 may still apply if you’re dealing with a human threat.

 What’s different about the Model Penal Code provision on duress than the common law?  In the Model Penal Code, there need not be an imminent threat.  Also, under the Model Penal Code, a “kill or be killed” threat could work as an excuse: there is no murder exclusion.  Finally, it is a “person of reasonable firmness” standard.  It’s an objective rather than a subjective standard.

 People v. Anderson – At common law, duress was not a defense to murder.  Some intentional killings, if they are the result of provocation, reduce murder to manslaughter.  But this isn’t a heat of passion case.  Adequate provocation makes someone angry which makes them intentionally kill.  It’s a lot harder to control yourself when you’re very angry.  When we’ve very angry, our self-control is undermined.  But we don’t think one’s self-control is fully undermined by anger.  When you’re angry, you could do a lot of things other than kill.  You could vent your anger in some other way.

 Why couldn’t you have fear in place of anger in “heat of passion”?  Fear is an emotion that is like anger in that it makes self-control more difficult.  We may be able to empathize more with fear than with anger.

 Anderson’s point is that if you give a defense for killings caused by adequate provocation leading to anger leading to the intent to kill, then it follows that you should give a similar defense with fear in the place of anger.  Dressler seems to argue for just such a partial defense.

 The Model Penal Code would actually agree with Anderson, although they wouldn’t use duress to get there and they wouldn’t use the “heat of passion” excuse.  You would go straight to manslaughter based on the fact that the homicide was committed under “extreme emotional distress”.  The Model Penal Code necessity defense allows the intentional killing of an innocent person to save a greater number of lives.  In a Model Penal Code jurisdiction, you could have a complete defense.
24514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Energy issues, energy technology on: May 23, 2008, 12:17:53 PM
Fourth post this morning! shocked

Worth a careful read:  Khosla is a legendary Silicon Valley VC who has shifted his focus to alternate energy.  Dummy he ain't. 
Investors take note – he is a premier builder of valuations, especially for IPO's (surprise, surprise).  This guy knows how to make money. His web site has a lot of interesting papers and presentations which I am now reviewing.  Have a look at: 

http://www.khoslaventures.com/resources.html

 

24515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Oil up because dollar down on: May 23, 2008, 12:08:30 PM
Oil Is Up Because the Dollar Is Down
By DAVID T. KING
May 23, 2008

Back in December 2002, one dollar equaled one euro. But that exchange rate didn't last. The dollar was on its way down, a trend that had started more than a year earlier, and has lasted, with occasional oscillations, to this day.

On the day in 2002 that the value of a dollar was exactly the same as the value of a euro, the price of a barrel of oil was, therefore, the same in dollars and euros: about 25. Since that day, it's like the two currencies have traded on two different planets.

 
Certainly energy prices have risen, regardless of what currency you use. In Europe, the price of oil has risen by 50 euros in the past five-and-a-half years. It now stands at about 75 euros per barrel, three times what it was then. But in the U.S., the price of oil has risen to over $120 per barrel, and is now almost five times what it was then.

The sole reason for this enormous difference is the incredible depreciation of the dollar against the euro. From one for one at the end of 2002, it now costs nearly $1.60 to buy a euro.

The chorus of complaints about the price of gasoline gets louder every day, and is even becoming a campaign controversy both across and within parties. The same old solutions we have heard for years are being proposed – conservation, increased domestic exploration, manipulations of the tax on gasoline. But no one is pointing to what is by far the biggest reason for today's $60 fill-ups. The collapse of the dollar exchange rate, alone, explains at least half of the increase in the pump price of gas over the past five years. If it wasn't for the falling value of the dollar, the price of gasoline wouldn't be an issue.

Maybe the reason nobody talks about it is because they don't think you can do anything about it, or that it's somehow too esoteric to talk about exchange rates. But, economically speaking, what is more fundamental to us than the value of our currency? Why have we allowed the value of a dollar to fall by half?

The conventional wisdom, followed by U.S. administrations for the past 30 years, is that "the market" knows what it's doing in setting these rates, based on "the fundamentals" of the economy. This is, by the way, more or less the same market – the same band of traders, both on and off Wall Street – who, based on some view of the fundamentals, valued Bear Stearns at $100 a share one year ago. As the prevailing view of its fundamentals rapidly shifted, Bear's stock value collapsed, but it hurt only Bear's stockholders. The collapse of the dollar hurts everyone – a lot.

The fact is that the dollar exchange rate is way out of line with the fundamental strength of our economy, and even with such well-known fundamentals as relative inflation rates.

But when it stays out of line for too long, it starts to feed back on the fundamentals themselves. The dollar has been so weak for so long that it's now causing inflation even at a time of recession. It's to blame for the excessive price of gasoline, and now is pushing dangerously into wholesale price inflation, based on the most recent data published by the Labor Department.

Will the market, accommodated by hands-off policy makers, now say that we need more depreciation to offset the inflation that depreciation itself has created?

We don't need gas tax holidays. Exchange rates can be managed. We need exchange rate policy.

Mr. King, a former chief of the New York Federal Reserve's Industrial Economies Division, is a managing consultant for Emerging Markets Group Ltd., in Arlington, Va
WSJ
24516  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hero fired on: May 23, 2008, 12:04:17 PM

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,356710,00.html


.
Gas Station Employee Fired for Fighting Off Robber

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
By Sara Bonisteel  KSTP.com

Mark Beverly

An act of bravery to defend a co-worker has cost a Minnesota gas-station attendant his job.
Mark Beverly, an overnight shift supervisor at a SuperAmerica in Roseville, Minn., was fired in March after he jumped on a masked robber who he believed was attacking a fellow employee.


SuperAmerica said he violated company policy when he came to his colleague's aid in the early morning of March 26. So instead of accolades, Beverly got the boot.


Adding insult to injury, Beverly — who is still looking for another job — has been denied unemployment benefits. He will appeal that decision on June 5.


The trouble began around 3 a.m. when Beverly was cleaning the bathroom and his female co-worker was behind the cash register. Beverly said he heard her scream, so he ran out and saw a robber wearing a blue-stocking cap jostling with her.


"It looked like he was hurting her, so I jumped on him," Beverly said. "I just tried to bang him on the counter a couple of times."


After a tussle, he said, the robber regained his footing and looked as if he was going to pull out a weapon. Beverly said the man told him, "Don't be a hero," before fleeing the store with about $15.
Beverly called police and reviewed security tapes with his managers before completing his shift. "Everything was fine," he said.


The next day, however, he was fired for violating company policy.


Marathon Petroleum Company, the owner of the SuperAmerica chain, said Beverly was told what to do in the company handbook — which advises employees to "cooperate: don't argue, resist or attack the robber" — and through a computer-based training program Beverly was required to complete when he was hired.


"He endangered himself and her, and that’s why we have the policy," said Linda Casey, a Marathon spokeswoman. "And we have enforced it with other employees, not just with him."

"I just thought it was wrong, that's all," said Beverly, who had worked at SuperAmerica for just over a year. "You're not really trained for a robbery, and that was the first robbery I have ever been in in my life."


Capt. Rick Mathwig of the Roseville Police Department said authorities advise people not to take action when faced with a robbery.


"When you start resisting at some way shape or form, the suspect who may not have intended on using the weapon that he or she came with may use it intentionally or unintentionally when faced with a conflict," he said.


Roseville police have listed the case as inactive as they have not been able to identify the robber. The only image of him is partial profile and his face is obscured by the stocking cap, Mathwig said.

The security tape did not show the female co-worker struggling with the robber over the cash-register drawer, Casey said.


"The female employee was never attacked," she said. The robber reached in and grabbed cash out of the drawer.


"We have a statement from both [Beverly] and the female employee," Casey said. "Neither one of them say anything about her being attacked, hurt or anything, and the video we have substantiates it."


Beverly said that from his vantage point, he thought she was being attacked.
"With both of them so close it looked — from the angle that I was at — it looked like she was being attacked," he said.


LINK WHERE YOU CAN SEND COMPANY A MESSAGE.

http://www.marathon.com/About_Marath...tomer_Service/
24517  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: May 23, 2008, 12:02:20 PM
The Death of Conservatism Is Greatly Exaggerated
By FRED D. THOMPSON
May 23, 2008

Recent congressional losses, President George W. Bush's unpopularity, and bleak generic ballot poll numbers have conservatives fearing the "liberalization" of America – a move toward secularization, the growth of government, stagnation, mediocrity and loss of freedom.

Yet there is still a way to revive the conservative cause. Doing so will require avoiding the traps of pessimism or election-year quick fixes. Conservatives need to stand back for a moment and think about our philosophical first principles.

Conservatives value the lessons of history and respect faith and tradition. They are skeptical of mass movements, perfect solutions and what often passes for "progress." At the same time, they recognize that change is inevitable. They also know that while man is prone to err, he is capable of great things and is meant to be free in an unfettered market of ideas, not subjugated by a too-powerful government.

These were the principles relied upon by our Founding Fathers, and which paved the way for a Constitution that delineated the powers of the central government, established checks and balances among its branches, and further diffused its power through a system of federalism. These principles led to a market economy, the primacy of the rule of law and the abolition of slavery. They also helped to establish liberal trade policies and to meld idealism and realism in our foreign and military policies.

The power of conservative principles is borne out in the most strong, prosperous and free country in the history of the world. In the U.S., basic constitutional government has been preserved, foreign tyrannies have been defeated, our failed welfare system was reformed, and the confiscatory income tax rates of a few decades ago have been substantially reduced. This may be why the party where most conservatives reside, the Republican Party, has won seven of the last 10 presidential elections.

Still, a lot of the issues that litter the political battlefield today put conservatives on the defensive. What are we going to do to fix the economy, the housing market, health-care costs and education? Some conservatives try to avoid philosophical confrontation with liberals, often urging solutions that would expand the government while rationalizing that the expansion would be at a slightly slower rate.

This strategy simply has not worked. Conservatives should stay true to their principles and remember:

- Congress cannot repeal the laws of economics. There are no short-term fixes without longer term consequences.

- In a free and dynamic country with social mobility, there will be great opportunity but also economic disparity, especially if the country has liberal immigration policies and a high divorce rate.

- An education system cannot overcome the breakdown of the family, and the social fabric that surrounds children daily.

- Free markets, not an expanding and more powerful government, are the solution to today's problems. Many of these problems, such as health-care costs, energy dependency and the subprime mortgage crisis, were caused in large part by government policies.

It's not that conservatives today no longer believe in the validity of these principles. They just find it difficult to stand strong when the political winds are blowing so hard against them. To be sure, standing by conservative principles does not always guarantee success at the ballot box – it did for Ronald Reagan, but not for Barry Goldwater. But abandoning these principles doesn't ensure victory either. Circumstances often play the deciding role. Is there any doubt that the Carter administration's misery index and the Iranian hostage crises allowed Reagan to prevail in 1980?

In this unpredictable world, conservatives should adhere to their fundamental ideals. These ideals have brought our country much success, and may well win the day again. Conservatives must have faith that, more often than not, Americans will make the sacrifices necessary to preserve national security and prosperity.

A political party that adheres to conservative principles should have continuing success – especially if its leadership believes in those principles and is able to articulate them.

Mr. Thompson, a former U.S. senator from Tennessee, was a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
WSJ
24518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Symposium 3 on: May 23, 2008, 12:01:50 PM
Luft: Since we all seem to agree that fuel flexibility in our cars is the lowest hanging fruit, let's talk about how to make this happen. In the past two sessions of Congress there was strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House for flex fuel legislation. More than 30 senators from Sam Brownback on the right to Ted Kennedy on the left co-sponsored a bill including a requirement that at least 50 percent of new cars be flex fuel.

Presidential candidates are also in agreement. Both Barack Obama's and John McCain's energy platform include strong flex fuel provisions. Obama campaign pledged that an Obama Administration would ensure that all new vehicles have FFV capability by the end of his first term in office.

Less clear is how the automakers would respond. While it is true that the Big Three previously pledged to make 50 percent of their cars flex fuel by 2012, no industry likes to be told what to do and we should not expect the automakers, to embrace a full mandate without a fight, particularly after their recent defeat in the battle over mandatory fuel efficiency standards. (The Big Three also resisted other mandated low cost features like seat belts and airbags.) The Japanese automakers who don't have experience with this technology are likely to be even less enthusiastic.

But considering the low cost of fuel flexibility and the simplicity of retooling the production lines, this is certainly something they can live with.

So it’s basically in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to make this vision of fuel choice come true. Instead of complaining about the "insane" profits of oil companies the Democratic leadership in Congress could serve America best by pushing a flex fuel legislation and bringing it to a vote before the elections.

It is important to ensure that the legislation doesn't enable automakers to get away with making E-85 cars that can only accommodate ethanol. True fuel flexibility is one that enables all alcohols to compete. The cars should therefore be warranted to run on both ethanol and methanol. With such legislation presented before the Senate all three senators who are running for president would be forced to endorse it, which means that the next president would be on board.

Extra $100 per car is less than the price of one barrel of oil, and equipping every car in the US with the feature would cost roughly $20 billion over the next two decades, much less than what the Fed forked over one weekend to save Bear Sterns. The same Congress that spent billions on regulating an open standard for high definition TV should be able to give us an open fuel standard for our cars.

Korin: The Arab oil embargo in the Seventies led to massive Japanese automaker entry into the US market. While US automakers were building huge cars, the Japanese had the more efficient vehicles that appealed to consumers at a time of high gas prices. Today, other competitors waits in the wings should US autos stall on the road to fuel choice. Not so long ago a Chinese automaker showed an under $10,000 family sedan at the Detroit auto show. Take that car, make it a flex fuel plug in hybrid, and you have an under $20,000 fuel choice enabling family sedan. Coming soon to a Walmart near you.

The Chinese are not waiting for us to move toward alcohol fuels or electrification of transportation. We can lead the train or we can run after it, and absent the policies discussed above and summarized below, the latter is more likely every day.

To summarize, the three key policies for breaking oil's monopoly in the transportation sector, the sector from which oil's strategic value is derived, are: an Open Fuel Standard so most new cars sold in the US will be gasoline-ethanol-methanol FFVs; repeal of the 54 cent a gallon tariff on ethanol imports; consumer tax credits for plug in hybrids (this is the policy that helped hybrids move past the early adopter hump.)


Gartenstein-Ross: There is broad agreement on this panel about the significance of the energy security problem that we face, as well as the steps that the government needs to take to address this critical issue; thus, I will keep my remarks atypically short. I offer an apology to Jamie if he’s disappointed that this symposium lacks the fireworks of some of the previous symposia in which I have participated—but I don’t think that’s a terribly bad thing in this case, since energy security is an issue where acting in the near-term is more important than lengthy debate.

I will follow Luft’s suggestion that we discuss how to make the fuel flexibility mandate happen. I agree with him that automakers are likely to fight against a full mandate, and also think it likely that iterations of this legislation will be offered that involve E-85 cars rather than true fuel flexibility. So it is critical to ensure that any legislation on fuel flexibility that is signed into law not be watered down through the legislative process or subjected to the kind of bureaucratic capture that too frequently occurs in this country. I know that a large number of conservative activists read FPM (although I do not see energy security as an issue that should break along partisan lines). Informed members of the public should serve as energy security watchdogs, demanding of our politicians the full implementation of policies necessary to counter our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.


McFarlane: Gal and Anne often make the point that we ought to be realistic politically in structuring our approach to new legislation -- as is required to mandate Flex-Fuel vehicles. It does not good to be doctrinaire -- and lose. Or as President Reagan once told me, "Bud, if you go over the cliff, flags flying, you still go over the cliff." Specifically it does no good to take on the major oil companies. Indeed our point is not anti-oil, we will need oil for a long time and it is in all our interests for American oil companies to produce as much oil as they can for as long as they can.

Rather, our approach to the public and to members of both parties ought to be cast in terms of the political, economic and security costs of doing nothing -- losses which are measured in trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, and the gradual control of American industries by foreign sovereigns.

We must also stress that the global war against Islamism -- especially as its financial support grows in proportion to oil revenues flowing to the Persian Gulf -- will someday go nuclear. Unless we get serious toward moving our four-part agenda, we may run out of time.


FP: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Robert Zubrin, Gal Luft, Anne Korin and Bud McFarlane, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.
24519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 23, 2008, 11:58:12 AM
Reid's Reversal

Virginia Supreme Court Judge Steven Agee was confirmed unanimously this week to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, fulfilling one-third of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's pledge to put through three Bush appeals-court picks by Memorial Day.

With the deadline bearing down, Mr. Reid has skittered away from his earlier promises. He reminded Senators this week that he "explicitly" said he "couldn't guarantee" the trio of confirmations. Mr. Reid blames Republicans for holding up two Michigan nominees - Raymond Kethledge and Helene White -- whose nominations for the Sixth Circuit were worked out as a compromise package between Michigan's senators and the White House. Mr. Kethledge is the Administration's pick; Judge White is the Democrats' choice.

Democrats are eager to take credit for the White-Kethledge confirmations, hurrying them through a process that has left other highly qualified nominees beached for years. Judge White is being pushed through even without her ABA rating, a qualification Democrats have insisted on in the past.

But these are hardly the only two nominees available for confirmation in order for Mr. Reid to fulfill his end of the bargain. Also waiting in the wings are strong appeals-court nominees like Peter Keisler for the D.C. Circuit as well as Robert Conrad and Steve Matthew for the Fourth Circuit. Yet Democrats refuse to give them an up-or-down vote.

Sen. Arlen Specter has said before that he would not hesitate to shut down the Senate over Democrats' obstruction of judicial nominees. Republicans have declined to take such steps in recent weeks out of good faith, taking Sen. Reid at his word on the Memorial Day deal. If the deal falls through, it's a good bet that won't happen twice.

-- Collin Levy

How High Can Tax Rates Go?

Tax rates under a Barack Obama presidency are expected to rise to as high as 52.2% when combining the income-tax increase the candidate supports and his proposed elimination of the payroll tax cap. These would be the highest rates since the late 1970s, when the economy went haywire. "That's a frightening proposition, especially when the rest of the world is cutting tax rates," says Jim Carter, chief economist on the Senate Budget Committee's minority staff.

Now a new study by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that rates would have to go even higher if entitlement spending isn't reined in. The report, which was requested by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, finds that the top rate of personal income tax would have to rise to 88% from 35% to pay all the nation's bills. Even the lowest tax rate would have to more than double. This is the price we pay for running up unfunded liabilities in Medicare and Social Security.

Faster economic growth would help ease the burden of these long-term costs, but if tax rates are raised, economic growth will slow. That's the point of Mr. Ryan's inquiry. If we don't get serious about reforming health care programs and Social Security, Democrats will argue that only super-sized tax hikes will solve the problem.

Ryan Ellis of the American Shareholders Association states the obvious when he says that income-tax rates of 88% are a surefire way to create a massive outflow of capital away from the U.S.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

Today, according to the most recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, "71 percent of the American public disapproves of how Bush is handling his job as President, an all-time high in polling." His position can be compared with that of Harry Truman who left Washington unpopular and alone in 1953. Today, with the passage of time, most historians and certainly the American people, see Truman in a different light, primarily for his willingness to stand firm against Soviet aggression, whether against Greece or South Korea, and proclaim the Truman Doctrine, effectively defending the free world from Soviet efforts to expand their hegemony. Like Truman, George W. Bush, in my view, will be seen as one of the few world leaders who recognized the danger of Islamic terrorism and was willing with Tony Blair to stand up to it and not capitulate. - columnist and former New York Mayor Ed Koch

Obama's China Policy

Barack Obama wrote yesterday to Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou. "A sound U.S.-Taiwan relationship will certainly be the goal of my Administration," he said, while confirming his support of America's "One China" policy. " And, "I will do all that I can to support Taiwan's democracy in the years ahead." The Kuomintang News Network reports that Richard Bush, former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, hand-delivered the missive.

Mr. Obama is smart to reach out to Mr. Ma, an eager U.S. ally who's working hard to mend Taiwan's ties with Beijing, which was on bad terms with Mr. Ma's pro-independence predecessor. In his inaugural address Tuesday, Mr. Ma called for "cross-strait peace and regional stability" and pledged not to pursue unification, independence or use of force. Mr. Ma also emphasized Taiwan's role as the "sole ethnic Chinese society to complete a second democratic turnover of power" and called the island a "beacon of democracy to Asia and the world."

U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan is a tricky balancing act. Ever since Nixon recognized the mainland as the "one China," U.S. administrations of both parties have given Taiwan presidents the cold shoulder while taking pains to maintain good relations with the island. Mr. Obama indicates he's willing to talk to dictators. Someone should ask him whether he is also willing to talk to the elected leader of the world's only Chinese democracy.

-- Mary Kissel

A British Omen for Nov. 4?

The U.S. isn't the only country with an electorate that appears to be fed up with the party in power. Yesterday, British voters in the Labour stronghold of Crewe and Nantwich swung sharply away from the governing party to elect a Conservative to Parliament.

It had been three decades since the Tories last won a special election. Yesterday's was held to replace Gwyneth Dunwoody, who died last month after 34 years in the House of Commons. Ms. Dunwoody had been the only person to hold the seat since the Crewe and Nantwich constituencies were merged in 1983; Crewe had gone for Labour since 1945. Conservative candidate Edward Timpson ended those streaks, winning 49.5% of a large turnout to defeat Ms. Dunwoody's daughter, Tamsin, and eight other candidates.

Like their American cousins, though, British voters have been unclear as to whether they're shifting party allegiances out of enthusiasm for an ascendant opposition or mere frustration with the party in power. Tory leader David Cameron last night boasted that the election marked "the end of New Labour." The result is certainly a bad sign for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose desperate party had resorted to using class as a wedge issue: During the latter stages of the campaign, Labour supporters dressed in tail-coats and top hats trailed Mr. Timpson, trying to paint him as an out-of-touch "toff."

The more common refrain about Cameron's Tories is that it's a party with no ideas. But with the Brown government stumbling into a new crisis seemingly every day, simply being different is enough for now.

-- Kyle Wingfield



24520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Symposium 2 on: May 23, 2008, 11:49:16 AM
Korin: The goal is indeed independence, not in the sense of autarky (not importing any oil) but in the sense of regaining ability to act independently, without need to kowtow or defer to petrodictators chief among them the Saudi royal family, a family which controls a quarter of the world's oil reserves and essentially all swing capacity on the global oil market (the mafia never had it so good.) To regain our independence we must strip oil of its strategic value. Salt presents a compelling historical parallel. Salt was once a strategic commodity, control of which determined geopolitical power and ability to sway world affairs. With the advent of electricity and refrigeration salt lost its strategic status as it was no longer the only option for preserving meat. Oil's strategic value derives from its domination of the transportation sector, which in turn accounts for two thirds of oil consumption - as Gal noted, we essentially no longer use oil to generate electricity (an inconvenient fact that renders bizarre the protestations of many politicians that solar, wind, or nuclear can reduce oil demand.)

Stripping oil of its strategic value will require fuel competition in the transportation sector. Flexible fuel vehicles, as Robert noted, provide a platform on which fuels can compete. For a very modest premium, they enable a driver to choose amongst a variety of liquid fuels, made from a variety of feedstocks, from coal to agricultural material. It costs 50 cents a gallon to make methanol from coal. Methanol has about half the energy of gasoline, so that's one dollar per gasoline equivalent gallon. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal. China and India also have a lot of coal, and indeed China is rapidly expanding its coal to methanol capacity.

We need to remove the ridiculous 54 cent a gallon import tariff on sugarcane ethanol - we don't tax oil imports, so why are we taxing imports of an alternative fuel? It's not because of the oil industry, it's because of corn ethanol protectionists who'd rather be big fish in a small pond than open the dam and turn the pond into a sea. As Gal notes, it is also critical to get electricity into the transportation fuel market. Flex fuel plug in hybrids will mean the Saudis will need to figure out how to monetize sand. Perhaps they can learn to blow glass.


Gartenstein-Ross: I am of the opinion that energy security is the most pressing challenge we face. It should be the top issue in the current presidential campaigns because our oil dependence is without a doubt our Achilles’ heel, yet no candidate has been seriously pushing the issue. This comes on top of the systemic failure of our political leaders, including the Bush administration and the presidential administrations that preceded it, to curtail our dangerous dependence on oil. (Interestingly, the one real exception was the Carter administration’s Fuel Use Act, which is a major reason that, as Luft and Korin note, only 2 percent of our electricity comes from oil today.) Energy security has a cognizable impact on virtually all the other major issues that our country now faces.

There is the economy. Today, more than three out of four Americans believe that the country is in recession—and it is not difficult to recognize that high energy prices are a primary driver. Oil prices have more than doubled in the past fifteen months, rising from around $50 a barrel in early 2007 to about $110 a barrel today. Such a dramatic rise in energy prices will of course harm the U.S. economy. As Zubrin stated, this equates to a $500 billion per year tax on the U.S. economy, affecting all sectors. We depend on long supply lines to transport agriculture to consumers, as well as the vast majority of products that you can buy off store shelves. All prices—the price of food, the price of consumer goods—are pushed upward by the rising price of oil.

There is terrorism and our international political adversaries. One distinctive characteristic of Islamic terror movements is that they explicitly find religious sanction for their actions. Their interpretation obviously is not shared by all Muslims, as the world would look much different if we were at war with over a billion people. What helps extremist interpretations of Islam gain a foothold? One clear answer is petrodollars. Numerous analysts have connected radicalization in various regions to extremist charities, mosques, and madrasas funded by oil money. Some of the charities funded by petro-dollars are “dual-use,” not only propagating an extreme interpretation of Islam but also directly funding terrorist groups. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez famously declared in his opening address to an OPEC conference in 2006 that “the American empire will be destroyed.” Do we want to be dependent on political leaders like that because of their oil resources?

The Bush administration has had more than seven years to steer the country’s energy policy, yet its combined policies amount to slapping a few Band-Aids on a hemorrhaging wound. (This is of course not just the Bush administration’s fault: as a country, we have had more than forty years to address this issue since the dangers of our oil dependence became crystal clear.) For example, the primary strategy of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is a new national mandatory fuel economy standard that, in President Bush’s words, “will save billions of gallons of gasoline.” But as Zubrin shows in his commendable book Energy Victory, conservation-based strategies are not, and will not be, sufficient. If we could duplicate the technical success that Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards achieved from 1975 through 1990, Zubrin writes, we would not cut our oil consumption at all. Instead, it would reduce our expected rate of increase of oil usage by only 2.2 million barrels a day, during a period when the world as a whole is likely to raise its consumption another 30 million barrels per day. Whatever demand we eliminate would be replaced fifteen times over.

President Bush has also congratulated himself on the ethanol policies that his administration has undertaken, but they are a far cry from the large market for ethanol that Zubrin’s policy recommendations would spur. (By Bush’s account, we produced 6.4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2007 versus the approximately 200 billion gallons of gasoline and petroleum diesel that we use annually.)

But fortunately, while our oil dependence is currently causing great harm, I don’t think the immediate solutions are mysterious. I agree strongly with the recommendations put forward by Zubrin and Luft in this symposium. Fuel flexibility should be the first major policy we push for because it provides immediate relief from this grave problem, but we should also move toward electrification of the transportation sector. The bottom line is that we are worse off, and our enemies in a better position, for each day that action is delayed.

McFarlane: As the panel has made clear, we have the means at hand to overcome the vulnerability of our economy and the challenge to our very way of life that is posed by our reliance on foreign oil. It starts with mandating that all cars and trucks sold in the US be flex-fuel, and then that we accelerate the production of plug-in hybrid-electric and all-electric cars and trucks, and that we build them out of carbon composite materials as Boeing is doing today in its new 787 Dreamliner.

We cannot consider this as nice-to-have, P-C, green "someday" matter. This is a matter of grave urgency. Today if an attack on any of a dozen very vulnerable Saudi oil processing facilities were successful, we would be facing oil at $200/barrel overnight. That would lead within weeks (not months) to the collapse of the Japanese economy, and before long to those of our European allies and ultimately of our own.

And even if such an attack does not occur, consider the price we are paying for our reliance on foreign oil. Last year we spent over $300 billion on foreign oil. Think for a moment of what $300 billion could buy in terms of better schools, health care, highways and bridges, law enforcement, a partial solution to our sub-prime mortgage problems, and a dozen other domestic priorities. But that's just the beginning.

Think about the half trillion dollars we spend every year -- yes, 'trillion' every year -- on the defense budget, and that doesn't count the supplemental appropriations for the war in Iraq. At least $200 of that $500 billion pays for forces that are deployed in the Middle East or to protect lines of communication between here and there and to our allies in Europe and Japan. Add it up -- $500 billion for defense, another $300 billion to pay for foreign oil, and with the price now above $100/bbl, the total from now on will be at least 1 trillion every year -- yes every year -- until we start changing our ways.

Of course the foregoing costs are just the financial dimension. Far more important are the costs in human lives, families shattered by separation, and the loss of loved ones. This is truly an intolerable condition -- one that is all the more unconscionable considering that we have the means at hand to overcome it.

Zubrin: I would like to make an additional point. As bad as $100 per barrel oil is for us, it is much worse for the poorer nations of the world. It is one thing to pay $100 per barrel for oil when you live in a country where the average person makes $40,000 per year. It is quite another if you live in a country where the average person makes $1,000 per year. To many third world countries, particularly in Africa, the effects of OPEC looting are not merely recessionary, but genocidal. Indeed, the jacked up oil price is nothing else than a huge regressive tax levied by the world’s richest people on the world’s poorest people.

Consider this: This year, Saudi Arabia’s high-priced oil business will reap that nation’s rulers over $300 billion. Much of this bounty will be wasted on a wild assortment of narcissistic luxuries. The rest go towards funding of network of over twenty thousand Wahhabi madrassas worldwide. There, millions of young boys will be instructed that the way to salvation is to kill Christians, Jews, Buddhists, animists, and Hindus, all as part of a global campaign to create reactionary theocratic states that totally degrade women and deny all political, religious, intellectual, scientific, artistic, or personal freedom to everyone.

Simultaneously, Kenya, a nation whose population of 36 million is half again as great as that of Saudi Arabia, will scrape up around $3 billion in export earnings, and use these funds to buy badly needed fuel, farm machinery, and replacement parts for equipment. (Kenya, incidentally, is not one of the world’s fifty poorest nations. There are many others much worse off.)

Distributed elsewhere, the loot garnered by the Saudi terror bankers could triple the foreign exchange of 50 counties comparable to Kenya. Distributed elsewhere, the $1.3 trillion per year taxed out of the world economy by the all the OPEC tyrannies could lift the entire third world out of poverty.

By shifting to alcohol fuels, we can shift a very substantial amount of capital flows in precisely such a direction. Many third world countries are tropical nations with very high agricultural potential. Within a few years of the establishment of a flex fuel mandate, we will have a much larger domestic market for agricultural produce to make ethanol than American farmers can deliver to. That is a very GOOD thing. It means that we will be able to give them all the business they can handle, and still have market share left over, which we could open to Latin American and Caribbean ethanol, but dropping the current tariff. So countries like Haiti, which desperately needs an export income source, will be able to get it by growing sugar ethanol for export to the USA. In the same way, Europe would be able to drop its agricultural trade barriers, and open itself up to ethanol exported from Africa, and Japan likewise from south Asia. Effectively, we would be able to redirect about a trillion dollars a year that is now going to OPEC and send it to the global agricultural sector instead, with about half going to advanced sector farmers and half going to the third world. This would create an enormous engine for world development.

Ethanol has been criticized by certain opponents who have alleged that its production from corn takes away from the food supply, and that large irrigation requirements draw power that exceeds that provided by the ethanol. Such analyses, however, are false. When ethanol is made from corn, all of the protein in the corn is preserved for use as animal feeds, and virtually no ethanol corn grown in the USA is irrigated. In fact, for the expenditure of a given amount of petroleum, nearly ten times as much ethanol can be produced as gasoline.

World food prices have been rising recently, at a rate of 4 percent a year, and oil cartel propaganda organs have been quick to place the blame on bio-fuel programs. But these are false accusations. Despite the corn ethanol program, US corn exports have not declined at all in recent years, and our overall agricultural exports this year are up over 23 percent. So its not corn ethanol that is driving up global food prices, including those for fish, fruit, and every kind of crop. Rather it is high fuel costs, which have risen 40 percent over the past year due to vicious OPEC price rigging. Not only that, these high fuel costs are driving up the cost of not just food, but nearly every product that needs to be transported anywhere in the world. And again, the hardest hit victims are the world's poor.

For the sake of social justice, OPEC must be destroyed.


24521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Symposium 1 on: May 23, 2008, 11:48:28 AM
Moving GM's post from another thread to here:
============
Symposium: Energy Independence and the Terror War   
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 02, 2008
What is the best way for us to achieve energy independence? What is the urgency for us to do so in terms of our conflict with Islamo-Fascism? To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests are:

Robert “Bud” McFarlane, Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. Currently, he serves as Chairman and CEO of McFarlane Associates Inc., developing energy projects in third world countries and working to develop alternative fuels so as to reduce US reliance on foreign oil.




Robert Zubrin, the president of Pioneer Astronautics and also president of the Mars Society. For many years he worked as a senior engineer for Lockheed Martin. In addition, he is the author of the critically acclaimed nonfiction books The Case for Mars, Entering Space, Mars on Earth; the science fiction novels The Holy Land and First Landing; and articles in Scientific American, The New Atlantis, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mechanical Engineering, and The American Enterprise. He has appeared on major media including CNN, CSPAN, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, NBC, ABC, and NPR. He is the author of the new book, Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil.




Gal Luft, one of America 's most influential energy independence advocates. He is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) a Washington based energy policy think tank and co-founder of the Set America Free Coalition, an alliance of national security, environmental, labor and religious groups promoting ways to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. He specializes in strategy, geopolitics, terrorism, energy security and economic warfare.



Anne Korin, Chair of Set America Free Coalition.




and


Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of My Year Inside Radical Islam, which documents his time working for the extremist Al Haramain Islamic Foundation.




FP: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Robert Zubrin, Gal Luft, Anne Korin and Bud McFarlane, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Robert Zubrin, let’s begin with you.

What kind of policy do you favor to create energy security?


Zubrin: I'm glad you used the words "energy security," not "energy independence." While admittedly, being energy independent would be an improvement on our current position, it is not good enough, because if the oil cartel still controlled the world market, they could still collapse our economy by collapsing that of our allies and trading partners like Japan and Europe, and they would still be harvesting trillions that they could use to finance jihad and the takeover of our corporations and media organizations.

So even if it were possible, walling ourselves in a defensive "energy independent" position would not suffice. Rather, we have to take the offensive and destroy the power of the oil cartel internationally. The key to doing that is to destroy the vertical monopoly that they have on the world's vehicle fuel supplies. The US Congress could strike a devastating blow in this direction simply by passing a law requiring that all new cars sold in the United States be flex fueled -- that is able to run on any combination of gasoline, methanol, or ethanol. Such cars are existing technology and only cost about $100 more than the same vehicle in non-flex fuel form.

If such a law were passed, it would make flex fuel the international standard for cars, as not only the Detroit Big 3, but all the foreign manufacturers would shift their lines over immediately in response. This would put 50 million cars on the road in the USA within 3 years capable of running on alcohol fuels, and hundreds of millions more worldwide. With such a market available, alcohol production and distribution facilities would multiply rapidly, and gasoline would be forced to compete at the pump against alcohol fuels produced in any number of ways from any number of sources everywhere in the world. (Methanol, for example, can be produced from any kind of biomass, without exception, as well as from coal, natural gas, and recycled urban trash. There are many starchy or sweet crops that can be used to make ethanol, with cellulosic options increasingly viable as well.)

This opening of the fuel market would put a permanent constraint on OPEC's ability to raise fuel prices. Instead of being able to raise oil prices to $200/barrel, which they are already discussing, prices would be forced back down to $50/barrel, because that is where alcohol fuels become competitive. Then, once such an alcohol fuel infrastructure is well in place, we can proceed to roll the oil cartel right off the map by instituting tax and tariff policies that favor alcohols over petroleum. That's how we beat the Islamists.

If we don't do that, with our current imports of 5 billion barrels per year, they will use a $100/barrel price to tax us $500 billion per year (and rob the world at a rate of $1.2 trillion/year). The NY Times today had a front page article quoting leading economists as saying that this huge tax (more than triple the size of the current economic stimulus treasury give-back) is grinding our economy into recession. So it is, but it is worse than that. If they are allowed to keep taxing us in this way, they will use that enormous monetary power to not only massively grow their jihadi movement, but to take over most of the major corporations and media organizations in the US, Europe, and Japan within a decade.

So not only our economy, but our independence is at stake. We need to break the oil cartel, and forceful action to create fuel choice internationally is the way to do it.

Luft: I share Robert's sense of urgency about reducing the strategic value of oil by opening the transportation sector to healthy competition, and fuel flexibility should indeed be the first item on our agenda. There is no reason why the $100 addition which allows cars to burn alcohol should not be - just like seat belts, air bags or rear view mirrors - a standard feature in every car sold worldwide. This would be a low premium insurance policy against future supply disruptions and a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding of our economy. But flex fuel alone would not be sufficient to solve our energy problem. In the U.S. today we use annually roughly 140 billion gallons of gasoline and additional 60 billion gallons of petroleum diesel. We simply don't have the resource base to replace all of this with alcohol and bio-diesel, even if we tapped into our vast coal reserves and diverted all of our food crops into fuel production. So we need solutions beyond liquid
fuels.

In order to achieve significant petroleum displacement we must begin to electrify the transportation sector by speeding the commercialization of plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars. Unlike in the 1970s, today only 2 percent of our electricity is made from oil. Almost all of our electricity is made from domestic energy resources like coal, nuclear power, natural gas and hydro. In other words, on the electricity front, unlike the Europeans who rely on imported natural gas for their light and heating, Americans are already energy independent. Using electrons for transportation, instead of gasoline, essentially means shifting from an imported resource which poses a national security threat to an array of abundant domestic energy sources. In addition, electricity is cheaper and cleaner than gasoline. It costs about 3 cents per mile to run a car on electricity--roughly one fifth of the cost of driving the same mile on gasoline. This cost differential protects us from a counterattack by OPEC.


The oil cartel will surely respond to the emerging alcohol economy by dropping crude prices to a level that would make ethanol and methanol economically unatractive. This is exactly what they did in the 1980s in response to a massive effort by Western countries to wean themselves from oil. Oil dropped to $8 a barrel and alternative fuels producers lost their shirts. If cars had full fuel flexibility, allowing them, in addition to burning alcohols, to also tap into the grid, OPEC would have to drop prices to $5 a barrel to compete with 3 cents per mile of electric drive. This is way below where they can afford to go considering their youth bulges and domestic economic conditions. This is why the commercialization of plug in hybrid electric vehicles, which allow us to drive the first chunk of our daily driving on electricity after which the car begins to burn liquid fuel, is so critical. Congress should therefore provide tax incentives to early adopters of plug in hubrids--just as it did in the case of regular hybrids--while facilitating the emergence of a viable battery industry in the U.S. A flex fuel plug-in hybrid will run approximately 500 miles on a gallon of gasoline. This could really pull the plug on OPEC.


 
24522  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: May 23, 2008, 11:46:19 AM
Congratulations Dog Dean!

Yesterday I was grateful to watch my son's growth in his hockey practice.  Happy, proud dad!

This morning I am grateful for my chess game with my daughter.  She plays an excellent game for a girl who is still five.  Again, happy and proud dad!
24523  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 23, 2008, 11:42:25 AM
James:

It was many years ago that I reseached this, so perhaps I am out of date, but I would love to have some citations for what you say.

Crafty
24524  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: May 23, 2008, 11:40:39 AM
At the moment, our prime hope is what Pappy Dog can find.  I hope to speak with him today.
24525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why oil is expensive on: May 23, 2008, 11:39:21 AM
Max:

There are already three threads on this subject, please move yours to "Energy Politics and Science"
======
Energy issues, energy technology
in Science, Culture, & Humanities

Energy Politics & Science
in Politics & Religion

Energy issues
in Science, Culture, & Humanities
=======

The first and the third of these are clearly redundant, lets use "Energy issues, energy technology" and let "Energy issues" fade away.

I have moved GM's post to "Energy issues, energy technology
in Science, Culture, & Humanities"

TAC,
Marc

24526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Memorial Day on: May 23, 2008, 09:47:56 AM
“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” —John Stuart Mill


On this Memorial Day, four young men who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be at the malls, nor will they be at the family barbecue.

These young men are not much different from others who have served in the past or those serving today in our nation’s Armed Forces but for the fact that they responded to extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary courage.

They are Corporal Jason L. Dunham, USMC; Master-at-Arms Second Class Michael A. Monsoor, USN; Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, USA; and Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, USN.

Their Medal of Honor citations read:

DUNHAM, JASON L. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander’s convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

MONSOOR, MICHAEL, A. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

SMITH, PAUL R. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a.50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

MURPHY, MICHAEL P. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his Headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

In my lifetime, I have been honored to know five men who have been awarded our nation’s Medal of Honor. To a man, they are among the most humble Patriots I have ever met. To a man, they have told me that they did nothing more than the men next to them would have done, but for fate, it was their turn to act.

All five of those men are now in the company of their Creator. Each of them could claim 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Monday, 26 May, is Memorial Day. Please set it aside in reverence for all those who have served with honor and are now departed.

from PatriotPost.com
24527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Larger Army on: May 23, 2008, 09:27:39 AM
We Still Need a Larger Army
By THOMAS DONNELLY and FREDERICK W. KAGAN
May 23, 2008

"That is the war we are in.
That is the war we must win."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is a plainspoken man, as befits his Texas roots. His words, quoted above, were about the war in Iraq. But as a remarkable series of recent speeches indicates, he intends to do what he can during the final months of his tenure to reorient the American military for the tasks of the "Long War."

This is long overdue. Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Gates' predecessor, famously lamented that you went to war with the force you had, not the one you'd like to have. Yet in the years since 9/11, the U.S. military still hasn't developed into the force that we need. To be sure, our soldiers have transformed themselves radically, painstakingly acquiring the arts of modern irregular warfare. But success in Baghdad and Kabul will be hard to sustain unless it is matched in Washington.

As Mr. Gates recognizes, the first order of business is to expand, restructure and modernize U.S. land forces. Unfortunately, the Bush administration's program – to grow the active Army and Marine Corps from the current 700,000 to about 750,000 in the next five years – is a Rumsfeld legacy and entirely inadequate. Regardless of the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will need a total active land force of something like one million soldiers and Marines.

The active duty portion of the U.S. Army needs to grow to about 800,000 soldiers. That's the size maintained during the 1980s and into the early 1990s, and it is a bare minimum for success in the many and varied missions that will be required in the future – missions that have ranged from "building partnership capacity" in West Africa to tracking down terrorists in Southeast Asia, as well as large-scale invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those who believe that the need for such a force size will abate as troops are drawn down in Iraq should consider the larger pattern of American operations over the past generation. Since its creation in 1983, the U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for operations in East Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, has demanded an ever-increasing American presence, a presence which has changed from being largely air and maritime to boots on the ground. That's the war we are in.

Repairing and reshaping the active Army is also key to restoring the Marine Corps to its traditional and still essential role as a sea-based contingency force. And it is critical in order to return the Army National Guard to a proper place as a national strategic reserve, and an operational force with state responsibilities. The Army is the keystone in the arch of America's land-force structure.

The Army brigade also needs to be reworked. Under a plan initiated in the late 1990s – and embraced by Mr. Rumsfeld as part of his program of defense transformation to "lighten" the Army by creating a larger number of smaller, "modularized" brigades – the personnel strength of an Army brigade was reduced to about 3,500. Yet in practice in Iraq and Afghanistan, as units scramble to secure additional mission-enabling capabilities, the total climbs to about 5,000 – roughly the strength of a premodularized unit. The current Bush expansion plan will not remedy the problem of having more but weaker units.

More important, the concept of the "tooth-to-tail ratio" needs to be revisited. For the past generation, military reformers looked at the support, headquarters and institutional base of the armed services, especially the Army, as overhead fat to be trimmed ruthlessly. But in an irregular warfare environment, the old tail – military police, engineers, civil affairs units, intelligence analysts, command-and-control nodes, military education and so on – is the new tooth.

Finally, the failure to modernize U.S. land-force equipment has stunted the ability of the Marines and Army to meet their new missions. The Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle provides a case in point. The Army also has not expanded its planned procurement of wheeled Stryker vehicles, nor accelerated the pace at which it is "networking" the force under the Future Combat Systems project.

There have been extraordinarily successful experiments suggesting that the effectiveness and survivability of dismounted infantry can be exponentially multiplied, even in a complex, urban environment. But the so-called Land Warrior program has been managed with peacetime lethargy rather than wartime urgency.

While there is a general bipartisan consensus that America's land forces are too small, there are big differences among the candidates about the size of the problem. Sen. John McCain, for example, has suggested that the active Army and Marine Corps should be increased to about 900,000. Sen. Barack Obama, by contrast, believes the Bush expansion plan is sufficient.

The limitations of America's land forces remain the most fundamental constraint on U.S. military strategy. Unless we begin now to restore and reshape the services to do what we have asked them to do, there will be tragic consequences: not that our Army and Marine Corps will be "broken," but that our nation will not win the war that it is in.

Messrs. Donnelly and Kagan are co-authors of "Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power," just published by AEI Press.
24528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: May 23, 2008, 09:21:34 AM
POTOMAC WATCH
By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL   

The Obama Learning Curve
May 23, 2008

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden took to the airwaves this week to "help" the rookie Barack Obama out of a foreign-policy jam. Oh sure, admitted Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee had given the "wrong" answer when he said he'd meet unconditionally with leaders of rogue states. But on the upside, the guy "has learned a hell of a lot."

Somewhere Mr. Obama was muttering an expletive. But give Mr. Biden marks for honesty. As Mr. Obama finishes a week of brutal questioning over his foreign-policy judgments, it's become clear he has learned a lot – and is learning still.

Right now, for instance, he's learning how tough it can be to pivot to a general-election stance on the crucial issue of foreign policy. He's also learning Democrats won't be able to sail through a national-security debate by simply painting John McCain as the second coming of George Bush.

Remember how Mr. Obama got here. In a July debate, the Illinois senator was asked if he'd meet, "without preconditions," the "leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea." It was an unexpected question, and Mr. Obama rolled with his gut: "I would," he said, riffing that the Bush administration's policy of not negotiating with terror-sponsoring states was "ridiculous."

Hillary Clinton, who still had the aura of inevitability, and who was already thinking ahead to a general election, wouldn't bite. At that point, any initial misgivings the Obama campaign had about the boss's answer disappeared. Mr. Obama hadn't got much traction differentiating himself from Mrs. Clinton over Iraq, but this was a chance to get to her left, to cast her to liberal primary voters as a warmonger. Which he did, often, committing himself ever more to a policy of unfettered engagement.

Today's Obama, all-but-nominee, is pitching to a broad American audience less keen to legitimize Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who provides weapons that kill American soldiers. The senator clumsily invited this debate when he took great umbrage to President Bush's recent criticism of appeasers (which, in a wonderfully revealing moment, Democrats instantly assumed meant them). Mr. Obama has since been scrambling to neutralize his former statement.

A week ago, in Oregon, he adopted the "no-big-deal" approach, telling listeners Iran was just a "tiny" country that, unlike the Soviet Union, did not "pose a serious threat to us." But this suggested he'd missed that whole asymmetrical warfare debate – not to mention 9/11 – so by the next day, he'd switched to the "blame-Republicans" line. Iran was in fact "the greatest threat to the United States and Israel and the Middle East for a generation" – but all because of President Bush's Iraq war.

This, however, revived questions of why he'd meet with said greatest-threat leader, so his advisers jumped in, this time to float the "misunderstood" balloon. Obama senior foreign policy adviser Susan Rice, channeling Bill Clinton, said it all depended on what the definition of a "leader" is. "Well, first of all, he said he'd meet with the appropriate Iranian leaders. He hasn't named who that leader will be." (Turns out, Mr. Obama has said he will meet with . . . Mr. Ahmadinejad.)

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, channeling Ms. Rice, explained it also depended on what the definition of a precondition is: "It's important to emphasize again when we talk about preconditions, we're just saying everything needs to be on the table. I would not say that we would meet unconditionally." This is called being against preconditions before you were for them.

And so it goes, as Mr. Obama shifts and shambles, all the while telling audiences that when voting for president they should look beyond "experience" to "judgment." In this case, whatever his particular judgment on Iran is on any particular day.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Democrats entered this race confident national security wouldn't be the drag on the party it has in the past. With an unpopular war and a rival who supports that war, they planned to wrap Mr. McCain around the unpopular Mr. Bush and be done with it. Mr. Obama is still manfully marching down this road, today spending as much time warning about a "third Bush term" as he does reassuring voters about a first Obama one.

Then again, 9/11 and five years of Iraq debate have educated voters. Mr. McCain is certainly betting they can separate the war from the urgent threat of an Iranian dictator who could possess nukes, and whose legitimization would encourage other rogues in their belligerence. This is a debate the Arizonan has been preparing for all his life and, note, Iranian diplomacy is simply the topic du jour.

Mr. McCain has every intention of running his opponent through the complete foreign-policy gamut. Explain again in what circumstances you'd use nuclear weapons? What was that about invading Pakistan? How does a policy of engaging the world include Mr. Ahmadinejad, but not our ally Colombia and its trade pact?

It explains too the strong desire among the McCain camp to get Mr. Obama on stage for debates soon. There's a feeling Mr. Obama is still climbing the foreign-policy learning curve. And they see mileage in his issuing a few more gut reactions.
24529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: Being armed, subordinate governments on: May 23, 2008, 09:06:27 AM
"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess
over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of
subordinate governments, to which the people are attached and by
which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against
the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which
a simple government of any form can admit of."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 46, 1 February 1788)

Reference: Madison, Federalist No. 46.
24530  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 22, 2008, 08:40:59 PM
Guide Dog:

I will answer you later.

Maxx:

The issue is whether your intent is for it to be a weapon.  IF IT IS, then X, Y, and Z follow.

CD
24531  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: desperately seeking dogbrother on: May 22, 2008, 04:38:50 PM
I've posted on the DBMA Assn forum that this thread is here.
24532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: Citizen's discernment on: May 22, 2008, 09:32:10 AM
"The citizens of America have too much discernment to be argued
into anarchy. and I am much mistaken if experience has not wrought
a deep and solemn conviction in the public mind that greater
energy of government is essential to the welfare and prosperity
of the community."

-- Alexander Hamilton (Federalist No. 26)

Reference: Hamilton, Federalist No. 26.
24533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: the New Big Dig on: May 21, 2008, 07:57:15 PM
The New Big Dig
May 21, 2008
Mitt Romney's presidential run is history, but it looks as if the taxpayers of Massachusetts will be paying for it for years to come. The former Governor had hoped to ride his grand state "universal" health-care reform of 2006 to the White House, but his state's residents are now having to live with what he and the state's Democratic Legislature passed. As the Boston press likes to say, it's "the new Big Dig."

The showpiece of RomneyCare was its individual mandate, a requirement that all Massachusetts residents obtain health insurance by July of last year or else pay penalties. The idea was that getting everyone into the insurance system would eliminate the "free-rider" problem of those who refuse to buy insurance but then go to emergency rooms when they're sick; thus costs would fall. "Will it work? I'm optimistic, but time will tell," Mr. Romney wrote in these pages in 2006.

Well, the returns are rolling in, and the critics look prescient. First, the plan isn't "universal" at all: About 350,000 more people are now insured in Massachusetts since the reform passed. Federal estimates put the prior number of uninsured at more than 657,000, so there was a reduction. But it was not secured through the market reforms that Governor Romney promised. Instead, Massachusetts also created a new state entitlement that is already trembling on the verge of bankruptcy inside of a year.

Some two-thirds of the growth in coverage owes to a low- or no-cost public insurance option. Called Commonwealth Care, it uses a sliding income scale to subsidize coverage for everyone under 300% of the federal poverty level, or about $63,000 for a family of four. Commonwealth Care also accounts for 60% of statewide growth in individual insurance over the last year, and the trend is expected to accelerate, perhaps double.

One lesson here is that while pledging "universal" coverage is easy, the harder problem is paying for it. This year's appropriation for Commonwealth Care was $472 million, but officials have asked for an add-on that will bring it to $625 million. For 2009, Governor Deval Patrick requested $869 million but has already conceded that even that huge figure is too low. Over the coming decade, the expected overruns float in as much as $4 billion over budget. It's too early to tell how much is new coverage or if state programs are displacing private insurance.

The "new Big Dig" moniker refers to the legendary cost overruns when Boston rebuilt its traffic system. Now state legislators are pushing new schemes to offset RomneyCare's runaway expenses, including reductions in state payments to doctors and hospitals, enlarged business penalties, an increase in the state tobacco tax, and more restrictions on drug companies and insurers.

Mr. Romney's fundamental mistake was focusing on making health insurance "universal" without first reforming the private insurance market. The "connector" that was supposed to link individuals to private insurance options has barely been used, as lower-income workers flood to the public option. Meanwhile, low-cost private insurers continue to avoid the state because it imposes multiple and costly mandates on all policies.

Hailed at first as a new national model, the Massachusetts nonmiracle ought to be a warning to Washington. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are both proposing versions of RomneyCare on a national scale, with similar promises that covering everyone under a government plan will reduce costs. Mr. Obama at least argues that more people would be covered were insurance more affordable. But his solution is Massachusetts on steroids – make insurance less expensive for policyholders by transferring the extra costs onto the government. Mrs. Clinton likes that but also wants the individual mandate, despite the mediocre results so far.

The real problem in health care is the way the tax code and third-party payment system distort incentives. That's where John McCain has been focusing his reform efforts – because that really does have the potential to reduce costs while covering more of the uninsured – and Republicans ought to follow his lead.

In this respect paradoxically, we can be thankful that Massachusetts ignored the cost problems that doomed other recent liberal health insurance overhauls in California, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Illinois. The Bay State is showing everyone how not to reform health care.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
24534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tranny driving instructor on: May 21, 2008, 06:47:47 PM
This appeals to my deranged sense of humor.  I am not without sympathy for the man.
===================


Muslim man threatens to sue driving school for sending transsexual instructor to teach his wife

By Chris Brooke
Last updated at 9:45 AM on 21st May 2008

For the past 12 months, she had proudly taken to the road as part of an all-female driving school.

But Emma Sherdley is not exactly all woman.
Until a few years ago she was a married father-of-two called Andrew.

She is, though, in the middle of treatment to change gender and has the legal paperwork to prove it.

But that wasn't enough to satisfy one client who claimed he had been shortchanged when he booked a female instructor to teach his wife how to drive.

He phoned the Laugh 'n' Pass driving school threatening to sue after Miss Sherdley, 42, turned up for the lesson.

'You have sent me a man. Send me a proper female. How dare you send a man with a deep voice,' he told Joanne Dixon, who runs the school in West Yorkshire.

The man, a Muslim from the Meadowhall district of Sheffield who has not been named, claimed the company deliberately sent a man disguised as a woman.

'His attitude and behaviour was outrageous and has upset me and Emma and everyone else who works here,' Miss Dixon said.

'We are not racist. We are not sexist-If anyone was being so it was that man.'

She said no other learners had complained about being taught by Miss Sherdley, an experienced instructor.

As for Miss Sherdley, she is trying to develop a thicker skin.

She said the man's comments had been 'hurtful, offensive and deeply upsetting' and had even made her think of quitting her job.

His wife had apparently cut their two-hour lesson short after an hour, claiming she had to go home to breastfeed her baby.

Miss Sherdley said: 'I always knew as a child that I was a woman stuck in a man's body.

'I tried hard to be a man, getting married and having children but it never worked and never would.

'For the past six years I have been what is correctly called "transitioned". I still have to undergo final surgery but legally I am a woman.

That is what my birth certificate says and that is what the gender recognition certificate proves. For that prejudiced and biased man to threaten to sue me and the driving school is totally and utterly wrong.'

There are currently 32 female pupils on the books at the school. Miss Dixon employs 20 female instructors who teach learners throughout Yorkshire.

The school, which has been running for ten years, boasts a high pass rate.

'We say each of our female instructors promise to be friendly, professional and patient - that is exactly what Emma is,' Miss Dixon said.

'For her to be subjected to abuse and threats is simply intolerable.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...each-wife.html
24535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action on: May 21, 2008, 04:16:25 PM
Getting one's mind right heading out is a part of action too:

https://www.infantry.army.mil/videos/video22/index.htm
24536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nuke Plant targetted in Sweden? on: May 21, 2008, 11:20:26 AM
I find myself wondering what the ethnicity of these two men is?  Curious that they may have sought to use the same ingredient in an attempted Islamo Fascist attack in the UK , , ,
===========

May 21, 2008

Swedish Police Hold Two Men Over Nuclear Scare

By REUTERS
Filed at 11:42 a.m. ET

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish police detained two men on suspicion of planning to sabotage a nuclear power station on Wednesday after one of them was discovered entering it with small amounts of a highly explosive material.

"Two men who were taken in for questioning this morning have now been detained on suspicion of preparing for sabotage," said Kalmar County Police spokesman Sven-Erik Karlsson.

Police were alerted shortly before 8 a.m. by the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant on the southeast coast of Sweden. Initially, police only said they were interrogating one man.

"They told us a welder who was going to perform a job there had been stopped in a random security check. He had been carrying small amounts of the highly explosive material TATP," Karlsson said.

TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, is extremely unstable, especially when subjected to heat, friction and shock.

The compound can be prepared in a home laboratory from easily available household chemicals. It has been used by suicide bombers in Israel and by Richard Reid, the thwarted British "shoebomber" who attempted to blow up a transatlantic airliner in 2001.

Police did not initially treat the men as criminal suspects.

"They were only being questioned in order to gather information," Karlsson said.

He said both were contract workers and one of them was previously known to police. He had no other details other than the years in which they were born, 1955 and 1962.

SUSPECT BAG

Police sealed off a 300-meter (330-yard) area around the substance and called in explosives technicians from Malmo, the nearest large city.

Oskarshamn, jointly owned by Germany's E.ON and Finland's Fortum, said in a statement on its Web site that it believed the reactor's safety was never threatened.

An E.ON spokesman said the material had been found on or inside the first man's bag. "What has happened is that a guy, a contractor, this morning came to the security check with a bag on which, or in which, there were traces of explosives," E.ON spokesman Johan Aspegren said.

An official at the plant said the men had been at one of the plant's three reactors, which had been shut for maintenance.

Professor Hans Michels, an explosives expert at Imperial College London, said TATP was mainly used as an initiator or "trigger explosive" to detonate a larger main charge.

He said four men who tried unsuccessfully to set off bombs on London transport in July 2005 had used detonators with 5-10 grams (0.18 to 0.35 oz) of TATP but failed to ignite the main charge of their devices.

Michels said TATP could also be used as a main charge, in which case he estimated that more than 100 grams (3.5 oz) of it would be needed to blow a hole in a heavy structure with an inch

or more of high-quality steel.

"Normal explosive experts shun (TATP) because it's very unstable, it's dangerous and it's not very pure. It tends to decompose," Michels said.

An experienced British investigator, who asked not to be named, said it was possible for small traces of household products such as hair bleach to trigger positive readings when picked up by explosive-screening devices. Hair bleach commonly contains hydrogen peroxide, an ingredient in TATP.

Oskarshamn is one of three nuclear plants in Sweden that meet half the country's power needs. Sweden's nuclear industry has been hit by a series of mishaps in recent years, prompting the United Nations nuclear watchdog to call for safety measures.

The Swedish nuclear regulator said there has never been an incident involving sabotage of a Swedish nuclear plant, although last year a bomb threat was received at one facility and turned out to be false.

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world...=1&oref=slogin
24537  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / A case in Atlanta finally ends on: May 21, 2008, 11:04:59 AM


This case was the subject of a huge and often heated thread on the Warrior Talk forum.  One of the main strands concerned the merits and drawbacks of no-knock search warrants-- which in this case led to the death of 92 year old woman who shot at the men smashing through her door.
======================

Atlanta officer convicted in coverup of shooting
Arthur Tesler didn't fire a shot, but he now faces five years in prison in the death of a 92-year-old woman killed during a botched drug raid.
By Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 21, 2008
ATLANTA -- In a verdict that brought tears to both sides of an Atlanta courtroom Tuesday, a jury convicted a police officer of lying to cover up his role in the fatal shooting of a 92-year-old woman.

Arthur Bruce Tesler, 42, is the only officer to face trial in the death of Kathryn Johnston, felled by a hail of bullets after plainclothes narcotics officers burst into her home in November 2006. He faces as many as five years in prison.

After deliberating more than three days, the state court jury acquitted Tesler of violating his oath of office and of false imprisonment under color of legal process. If convicted of all three charges, he could have faced as many as 20 years in prison.

Unlike two officers who testified against him, he was on duty outside Johnston's house and never fired a shot.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins, a community activist who represents Johnston's family, described the verdict as "bittersweet."

"Juries typically don't convict police officers," he said. ". . . Nothing can bring back Kathryn Johnston, but to the extent that her life can be used to make sure that no more citizens are violated, we think it is a step in the right direction."

Others were more blunt.

"Justice has not been done," said State Rep. "Able" Mabel Thomas. "This officer lied, this officer was part of the coverup. Blood was on his hands."

Johnston's shooting stirred up a whirlwind of protest about aggressive policing in her predominantly African American neighborhood of southwest Atlanta and triggered a federal probe into corruption in the Atlanta Police Department.

Last year, state prosecutors dropped murder, burglary and assault charges against two officers in exchange for their cooperation with a federal investigation into what the U.S. attorney here has described as a "culture of misconduct." Jason R. Smith and Gregg Junnier pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and federal civil rights charges. Junnier faces 10 years behind bars and Smith faces 12, but they have yet to be sentenced. The federal probe continues.

The shooting occurred two days before Thanksgiving, when officers burst through Johnston's front door without knocking after an informant provided false information that drugs were being sold at her house. She fired a single shot from a .38-caliber revolver but did not hit anyone. The officers fired 39 shots, striking Johnston five or six times.

Prosecutors say the officers lied to a magistrate to get the no-knock warrant, claiming that a confidential informant had made a purchase at the address and that the house was fitted with electronic surveillance. Both claims were false.

According to testimony, officers handcuffed Johnston as she lay dying, planted three bags of marijuana in her basement, and asked an informant to pretend that the officers had sent him to her home earlier to purchase drugs.

In his testimony, Tesler, a junior detective who had worked on the narcotics unit for less than a year, admitted that he had lied to help cover up the botched raid. But he said he did not know that Smith had lied to a judge to obtain the no-knock warrant.

In closing statements Thursday, his attorney, William McKenney, argued that Tesler was just a rookie who went along with the coverup because he felt intimidated by his more experienced partners.

Since the shooting, the Atlanta Police Department has tried to address claims that narcotics officers routinely lied to obtain search warrants and planted drugs at crime scenes so they could make arrest quotas. Police Chief Richard J. Pennington disbanded the narcotics unit, then reformulated it and doubled its size. The department also introduced more stringent requirements for how officers can obtain search warrants.

Last year, the Atlanta City Council created a citizen review board to investigate allegations of police misconduct.

On Tuesday, Fulton County Dist. Atty. Paul Howard said he hoped the Tesler verdict would bring "some closure" to Johnston's family. With the three officers involved in the shooting incarcerated, he said, "as a community, we should be pleased."

jenny.jarvie@latimes.com
24538  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / CA earthquake coming soon? on: May 21, 2008, 09:08:34 AM
Frogs Swarmed in China Before the Quake--Now It's California
Frogs Swarmed in China Before the Quake--Now It's California
19-May-2008

In the days prior to the gigantic earthquake that devastated Sichuan province in China, odd swarms of frogs were seen in the streets of cities in the area, and have subsequently been identified as unusual animal behavior of the type that is thought by some geologists to precede earthquakes. Now it has developed that similar frog appearances have been taking place in Bakersfield, California for about two weeks, and nobody is sure why. Strange swarms of frogs also appeared before the 6.9 Loma Prieta Earthquake in October of 1989.



The frogs are emerging from a drainage ditch and are being observed in swarms of hundreds by local residents. Nobody can remember a frog swarm like this in the area. The animals appear to be emerging from a drainage ditch, and it is possible that a lack of natural predators in the water has allowed the overgrowth of frogs.

A more controversial earthquake sign is linear clouds, or clouds that appear arrayed in lines, such as those shown in this photograph, which was taken in Shandong Province, also on May 9, 2 days prior to the Sichuan quake. So far, such clouds have not been observed by Unknowncountry.com correspondents in California, but should you see a similar formation, please photograph it and send the picture to us at News@unknowncountry.com .

If you live in California, do consider making preparations for an earthquake. If you have made such preparations, check your supplies, especially water supplies, and review your family emergency plan. However, there is no conclusive evidence that the Bakersfield toads represent more than a disturbing coincidence. There are far fewer of them than appeared in China, and they have been swarming for two weeks. The frogs in China appeared just two days before the quake took place, and in much greater numbers.
http://www.unknowncountry.com/news/?id=6882
24539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Entitlement Crisis on: May 21, 2008, 08:59:38 AM
Currently we are headed off a cliff.  Denial is not a solution. 
==========
How to Tackle the Entitlement Crisis
By PAUL D. RYAN
May 21, 2008

While Congress will have a partisan debate over the federal budget this week, there is a growing, bipartisan consensus about the greatest threat to our nation's long-term economic prosperity: the explosion of entitlement spending. Unfortunately, Washington is not planning to address that problem this week, or any time soon. By doing nothing, we are shackling our future with unsustainable debt and taxes.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the rest of government will consume nearly 40% of the economy by the time my three young children reach my age (38). This will require more than doubling the average tax burden of the past 40 years just to keep the government afloat. Continuing down this path will eventually strangle our economy.

To meet this challenge and secure our fiscal future, I'm introducing a comprehensive legislative plan called "A Roadmap for America's Future." Here are its components:

- Health Insurance. The bill provides universal access to affordable health insurance, by shifting the ownership of health coverage from the government and employers to individuals. It provides a refundable tax credit – $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families – to purchase coverage. Individuals will be able to buy insurance offered by any provider in any state – not just the one where they live – and carry it with them if they move or change jobs.

This will encourage, and enable, people to shop for the coverage best suited to their needs and financial circumstances. Insurance companies will also have an incentive to diversify coverage at competitive prices. The active participation of individuals and families in a national, competitive market will restrain health-care costs.

The plan also establishes transparency in health-care price and quality data, so this critical information is readily available before someone needs health services. It also encourages the adoption of health information technology.

- Medicaid and Medicare. The bill modernizes Medicaid by giving states maximum flexibility to tailor their Medicaid programs to the specific needs of their populations. It also allows Medicaid recipients to avail themselves of the health-coverage options open to everyone else through the tax-credit option.

The bill secures the existing Medicare program for those over 55 – so Americans can receive the benefits they planned for throughout most of their working lives. Those 55 and younger will, when they retire, receive an annual payment of up to $9,500 to purchase health coverage – either from a list of Medicare-certified plans, or any plan in the individual market, in any state.

The payment is adjusted for inflation and based on income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support and a funded medical savings account.

- Social Security. Workers under 55 will have the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts. These personal accounts are likely to grow faster than the traditional benefit. They are also the property of the individual, and are thus fully inheritable. The bill includes a guarantee that no one's total Social Security benefits from the personal accounts will be less than if he had chosen to say in the current system.

Combined with a more realistic plan for growth in Social Security benefits, and an eventual increase in the retirement age, the Social Security program can thus become sustainable for the long term.

- Tax Reform. The current federal tax code is complex, burdensome and discourages economic growth. It cannot be fixed with incremental changes; it needs a complete overhaul.

To accomplish this goal, the bill first of all offers individuals a choice of how to pay their taxes – either through the existing law, or through a simplified code with a tax return that fits on a postcard, just two rates and virtually no special tax deductions, credits or exclusions (except the health-care tax credit). Taxpayers themselves choose which code serves them better.

The rates in the simplified code are 10% on income up to $100,000 for joint filers ($50,000 for single filers); and 25% on taxable income above these amounts. There is also a generous standard deduction and personal exemption totaling $39,000 for a family of four. The alternative minimum tax is eliminated. And to promote long-term investment in economic growth, taxes on capital gains, dividends and estates are also eliminated.

On the business side, the bill gets rid of our uncompetitive corporate tax – currently the second highest in the industrialized world – and replaces it with a business consumption tax of 8.5%, which is half the average industrialized world rate.

The roadmap I'm offering is a real plan, with real proposals, real numbers to back them, and real legislation to implement it. Based on the analysis of government actuaries, it is projected to make Social Security and Medicare permanently solvent, lift the growing debt burden on future generations, and hold Federal taxes to 18.5% of GDP.

Many will disagree with this approach. But it is my sincere hope that it will spur Congress to move beyond simply rehashing the problem – to the politically difficult, but critical task of debating, and implementing actual solutions.

Mr. Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, is a member of the Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee.

See all of today's editorials and
24540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Taliban convicted on: May 21, 2008, 08:39:33 AM
A friend who was involved with this case sent me the following:
================

Member of Afghan Taliban Convicted in
U.S. Court on Narco-Terrorism and Drug Charges
MAY 20 -- WASHINGTON – A member of an Afghan Taliban cell was convicted today by a jury in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on charges of narcotics distribution and narco-terrorism, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Alice S. Fisher announced. The conviction represents the first time a defendant has been convicted in U.S. federal court of narco-terrorism since the statute was enacted in March 2006.
Khan Mohammed, from the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan, was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for weapons and narcotics offenses. The investigation revealed that Mohammed was part of a Taliban plan to obtain rockets to attack U.S. military and Afghan civilian personnel at Jalalabad Airfield in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. A cooperating witness working with the DEA met with Mohammed on several occasions to plan the rocket attack. Evidence presented at trial established that Mohammed had previously engaged in similar rocket attacks against other Afghan targets. During the investigation, Mohammed also sold opium and heroin that he knew was intended for importation into the United States.
“The Department of Justice will continue to use every available legal tool to bring to justice those who help fund terrorist activities by trafficking in illegal drugs,” said Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher. “I would like to thank the DEA, our law enforcement partners in Afghanistan and the federal prosecutors for their hard work on this case.”
“As an enemy of the United States, Khan Mohammed intended to ship heroin to the United States and use profits from that trade to assist the Taliban,” said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “ A dangerous double threat, Kahn Mohammed purchased rockets to attack American and coalition soldiers who were risking their lives to stabilize Afghanistan. The conviction of Kahn Mohammed puts an end to this source of poison and violence.”
A grand jury first returned an indictment against Mohammed on Dec. 13, 2006, charging him with distributing opium and heroin, knowing that it would be imported into the United States. A superseding indictment returned on Jan. 23, 2008, also charged Mohammed with engaging in drug trafficking knowing or intending to provide something of pecuniary value to a terrorist or terrorist organization. Mohammed was brought to the United States on Nov. 5, 2007. Mohammed faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled before the Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on Oct. 10, 2008. The case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief of Litigation Julius Rothstein, Trial Attorney Matthew Stiglitz and paralegal Arianne Tice of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. The investigation was led by the DEA’s Kabul Country Office and DEA’s FAST team in Afghanistan with support from DEA’s Special Operations Division in the United States and in close cooperation with Afghan law enforcement.
24541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: May 21, 2008, 07:04:47 AM
It must pain the NY Times to write this  cheesy

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/world/middleeast/21sadr.html?th&emc=th

Iraqi tanks and personnel carriers crossed into the militia-held section of Sadr City at dawn Tuesday, and met no opposition.

By MICHAEL R. GORDON and ALISSA J. RUBIN
Published: May 21, 2008
BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces rolled unopposed through the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City on Tuesday, a dramatic turnaround from the bitter fighting that has plagued the Baghdad neighborhood for two months, and a qualified success for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.



Map
Targets of the Operation
 Back Story With The Times’s Stephen Farrell (mp3)
 
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images, for The New York Times
Iraqi soldiers prepared Tuesday to enter northern Sadr City, which Shiite militias had used to fire rockets at the Green Zone.

As it did in the southern city of Basra last month, the Iraqi government advanced its goal of establishing sovereignty and curtailing the powers of the militias.

This was a hopeful accomplishment, but one that came with caveats: In both cities, the militias eventually melted away in the face of Iraqi troops backed by American firepower. Thus nobody can say just where the militias might re-emerge or when Iraqi and American forces might need to fight them again.

By late Tuesday, Iraqi troops had pushed deep into the district and set up positions around hospitals and police stations, which the Iraqi government was seeking to bring under its control.

The main military question now is whether Iraqi soldiers can solidify their hold over Sadr City in the coming days. And the main political one is whether the Maliki government will cement its gains by carrying out its long-promised, multimillion-dollar program of economic assistance and job creation to win over a still wary population and erode the militias’ base of support.

Sadr City has long been a simmering trouble spot, a haven for Shiite militias and a conduit for what American commanders say are Iranian-supplied arms, including explosively formed penetrators, a particularly lethal type of roadside bomb.

In the past two months, it has also become a test of the government’s ability to find its footing in the slippery terrain of Middle Eastern Shiite politics and internal divisions among Iraq’s governing Shiite parties.

The recent fighting flared up in late March after Mr. Maliki sent troops to gain control of the port city of Basra. Shiite militants responded by taking over Iraqi Army checkpoints on the outskirts of Sadr City and using the neighborhood as a launching pad to fire rockets at the Green Zone, the seat of the Iraqi government and site of the United States Embassy.

American and Iraqi forces had little choice but to fight their way in to suppress the rocket fire. They pushed their way to Al Quds Street, which gave them a measure of control over the southern quarter of Sadr City. A massive concrete wall was erected along the thoroughfare to try to keep the militants out.

But that still left most of Sadr City in the hands of Shiite militias, which continued to lob rockets at the Green Zone and attack the Iraqi and American troops in the neighborhood’s southern tier.

Mr. Maliki had responded to a challenge from Shiite militias in Basra by mounting a hasty operation. The military campaign caught American officials by surprise and appeared to sputter at the start as the Iraqi forces faced logistical problems and more than 1,000 desertions.

But as the Basra operation proceeded and Iraqi troops began to pour into the city, militia commanders drifted away. Mr. Maliki was strengthened politically in his drive to shape an image as a strong and decisive leader, the kind of leader many Iraqis, Sunni and Shiite, think is needed to control the country.

Emboldened by the outcome in Basra, the prime minister wanted to act quickly against the militias in Sadr City as well, according to American and Iraqi officials. He was inclined to see the struggle as a test of wills, which he could win by striking a decisive blow, the officials said.

Iraqi and Americans commanders, chastened by the stumbling first week of the Basra operation, favored a more deliberate approach. Sadr City is densely populated, with more than two million people, a bastion of support for Moktada al-Sadr, the radical cleric, and a neighborhood with a resilient collection of militia cells adept at hiding among the populace. With operations in Basra, Mosul and other parts of Iraq, the Iraqi military was stretched.

Additional forces were brought in, including the Third Brigade of the First Iraqi Army Division, a quick reaction force from Anbar Province. Lt. Gen. Abud Qanbar, the commander of Iraqi forces in Baghdad, developed a plan to advance north into the heart of Sadr City.

The military preparations appeared to be serious, a fact that loomed large for leaders of Mr. Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, who told one reporter last week that the militia was convinced that military operations were imminent.

Maj. Gen. Mizher al-Azawi, the commander of the 11th Iraqi Army Division, said that the operation would be carried out by Iraqi ground forces with the support of American airpower.

But for all the talk by Iraqi government officials about breaking the back of the militias, and the militants’ bluster about defending their turf, it was clear that the two sides had much to lose if they were unable to reach an accommodation, however temporary or expedient.

==========

Page 2 of 2)



Had it come to an urban battle in the Shiite enclave, the Iraqi government, backed by American force, would probably have prevailed. But Iraqi troops would have suffered casualties. Shiite civilians would have been caught in the cross-fire and further alienated from the government. And eventually the Shiite militias, which had already suffered considerable losses, would have been further depleted.


Certainly, a military offensive would not have been a simple operation. The militias had been significantly weakened over the previous two months of fighting. Col. John Hort, the commander of the Third Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division, estimated that some 700 militia fighters had been killed by air and ground fire since fighting erupted in late March.
“It is pretty safe to say that we have killed the equivalent of a U.S. battalion,” he said in a recent interview.

Some Mahdi Army leaders put the death toll slightly higher. When a truce was first announced, they threatened to refuse Mr. Sadr’s order to stand down. “What about the martyrs?” a Mahdi battalion leader recently told a reporter. “A thousand martyrs, what did they die for?”

Still, the area directly north of Al Quds Street was believed to have had a heavy concentration of roadside bombs, presenting a substantial challenge for an Iraqi force. Combat engineers and explosive ordnance disposal teams are in short supply in the Iraqi military, which relies heavily on using sappers to cut the wires rigged to explosives.

A Sadr City battle would also have sent Iraqi forces into one of the most heavily populated sections of Baghdad, where there were ample opportunities for ambushes. Militia snipers have already taken a toll on Iraqi troops with powerful .50-caliber rifles.

There were other threats, as well. In one instance not previously disclosed, an American M1 tank was damaged by an RPG-29, an advanced anti-tank weapon. Even less powerful types of rocket-propelled grenades could pose a threat to some Iraqi vehicles, which are generally less heavily armored than those employed by the Americans.

While the planning continued, American military officials cited reports that Mahdi Army and Iranian-backed commanders were sneaking out of Sadr City and perhaps even Iraq. People close to Mahdi leaders in Sadr City said they knew some who were leaving for Lebanon by way of Iran.

“We have seen a lot of indications that some of the senior leaders within JAM and the special groups are preparing to leave or have already left Sadr City,” Colonel Hort said last week, referring to Jaysh al Mahdi, as the Mahdi Army is known, and the Iranian-backed militias the military refers to as special groups.

Iran, according to some Western analysts, was also focusing on developments in Lebanon, where it has been supporting the militant group Hezbollah, and seemed interested in an arrangement in which the groups it backed in Sadr City would withdraw to fight another day.

With the emergence of a political accord, the Iraqi military began to develop a new plan, which American officers learned about late last week. It assumed that Iraqi troops would be welcomed, or at least tolerated, by the residents. Instead of an assault through the roadside bombs, six battalions would drive in on parallel streets and set up checkpoints and search for weapons.

That plan was carried out on Tuesday and was uncontested.

So far, the Iraqi Army has been a winner. Iraqi commanders received, and sometimes rejected, advice from the American military. But in the end they were able to execute a plan that was very much their own.

Only two dozen or so roadside bombs were reported found, however, raising a question of whether others had been hidden by the militias for another day. Nor is it clear how energetic Iraqi soldiers will be in carrying out searches in a Mahdi Army stronghold.

Brig. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, the chief of staff for the Multinational Corps in Iraq, said the Iraqi government had considered various factors.

“When you exert lethal actions against Sadr City, you are de facto going against a fairly poor sector of the Shia populace,” he said. “So that is a dynamic that the government of Iraq has to keep in their analysis about what is the right way to deal with this, and we believe a measured approach is appropriate.”
24542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Texas Cult on: May 21, 2008, 06:53:22 AM
Civilization and the Texas Cult
By LIONEL TIGER
May 21, 2008; Page A17

The desperate tragedy involving polygamous cultists in Texas has attracted a growing phalanx of lawyers, judges, law enforcers and assorted psychologists.

Those responsible for coping with this astonishing disaster would be well-advised to add a primatologist to the team. The fact is that, despite all the blather about faith and freedom of religion, the men operating the various compounds in question are behaving in virtually the same manner as countless dominant males in countless primate troops observed over the years.

The essence of the case is that the men who control the politics of the group (as well as the hapless women and children who live there) have used junk theology about heaven, hell, paradise and salvation to maintain their unquestioned access to all females of reproductive age (or younger).

That's the reproductive fantasy of any adult male primate.

In this blow to simple decency, the Texas polygamists are not pathfinders. Multiple wives are of course permitted in the Islamic religion, and co-wives are a feature of dozens of human groups in which powerful men control sufficient resources to be able to support more than one woman.

This is usually because the societies in which they live are sharply unequal. Sex and offspring flow to those with resources.

One of the triumphs of Western arrangements is the institution of monogamy, which has in principle made it possible for each male and female to enjoy a plausible shot at the reproductive outcome which all the apparatus of nature demands. Even Karl Marx did not fully appreciate the immense radicalism of this form of equity.

The Texans' faith-flaunting is morally disgraceful and crudely cynical. It also raises bewildering questions about human gullibility on one hand and the efficacy of the Big Lie on the other.

Can anyone really believe that the notorious communal bed to which senior men command 16-year-old girls is part of some holy temple apparatus? Apparently some people do, and the few escapees from the fetid zoo have testified to the power the ridiculous theory wields.

The victims are not only young women but young men too. They are reproductively and productively disenfranchised, and are in effect forced to leave the communities to become hopeless, ill-schooled misfits in the towns of normal life. No dignified lives as celibate monks with colorful costumes for them.

Again, the issue is cross-cultural. Osama bin Laden has at least five wives, which means that four young men of his tribe have no date on Saturday night and forever. They may become willing jihadists, or desperate suicides eager to soothe their god by killing infidels and Americans.

Elsewhere, preference for sons has meant a sharp shortage of women in China. It is known that raiding parties from there cross into bordering countries with more regular sex ratios to steal women.

The deranged cults have been operating in plain sight for years in Texan communities whose police forces have been earnestly writing parking tickets while ignoring what is obvious major criminality. Some 400 young children have been drastically separated from their mothers – who among other derogations of civil life are allegedly part of longstanding welfare fraud engineered by their sexual tyrants.

And now what? It will be intensely depressing but probably useful to acknowledge this is at bottom a natural matter, a product of our inner behavioral nature. Understanding the shadowy sources of this nightmare may help our community cope with its victims.

Mr. Tiger teaches anthropology at Rutgers and is the author of "The Decline of Males" (St. Martin's, 2000).

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.
24543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Afghanistan-Pakistan-India on: May 21, 2008, 06:50:56 AM
Geopolitical Diary: The Pakistani-Indian Rivalry Intensifies
May 20, 2008
After much delay, India and Pakistan will hold foreign secretary-level talks in Islamabad on May 20 as part of the ongoing Indo-Pakistani peace process. Confidence-building measures will be discussed, including expanding trade and transit links across the border, but the political theater of the summit will still do little to cover up a growing security conflict between the two South Asian rivals.

The peace talks are taking place against a backdrop of heightened border tensions across the Line of Control (LoC) — the border that splits the highly disputed region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan. The past month, in particular, has witnessed a series of cease-fire violations across the LoC (ostensibly provoked by Pakistan) detailed below that have placed India on guard.

May 8: Indian border guards spotted a group of armed men cutting through a barbed wire fence to cross into Indian-held Kashmir in the Samba sector, prompting cross-border fire.
May 13: Islamist militants, likely backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, launched a bomb attack in the northern Indian city of Jaipur, killing 63 people. India’s ruling Congress party refrained from blaming Pakistan outright, but said a “foreign hand” was responsible for the attack
May 14: The Indian military accused Pakistani troops of firing at an Indian army post across the LoC in the Tangdhar region.
May 15: India announced its deployment of an additional 5,000 troops to Tangdhar, Keran, Macchal and Gurez along the LoC to prevent further militant infiltration. A few days later it was announced that another 1,000 troops were deployed to the Samba sector.
May 19: Pakistan rejected as baseless an Indian claim that Pakistani troops had fired on an Indian post across the LoC, killing an Indian soldier. Cross-border firing is typically used as cover for insurgents to cross the border into Indian-administered Kashmir.
The situation has not yet reached a critical point, but as we watch further developments along this geopolitically contentious border, we must keep in mind the competing interests of the three main players who have a stake in the conflict: the United States, India and Pakistan.

The current U.S. priority in South Asia is to sustain pressure on Islamabad to deliver on its counterterrorism commitments. With the U.S. military focus shifting more toward NATO operations in Afghanistan, Washington is not exactly thrilled with the Pakistani government’s preferred method of dealing with its insurgents — which usually entails a balancing act of backdoor deals with militants that do little to stem the insurgent tide across the Afghan-Pakistani border. One way for Washington to turn the screws on Pakistan is to try the old U.S. game of exploiting tensions between India and Pakistan and then swooping in to demand concessions from Islamabad in return for getting the Indians to stand down. It is not yet clear whether this is a strategy Washington wants to pursue, however.

India so far has given off a fairly muted response to the recent Pakistani actions. After the Jaipur attack, India was quick to reaffirm that it would not walk away from its scheduled peace talks with Pakistan, while taking care not to blame the Pakistani government outright. The troop build-up along certain sectors of the LoC was motivated primarily by the ruling government’s need to fend off domestic opposition for being “soft on terror.” With state and general elections looming, the ruling Congress party has to show it actually has the political muscle to deal with Pakistan, but it also is facing a slew of problems domestically over rising inflation, food and fuel prices. Starting things up with Pakistan could allow the Indian government to distract the people from their domestic ailments, but it’s highly questionable whether the government can deal effectively with an escalated military conflict across its Pakistani border while juggling these other issues.

Pakistan meanwhile appears to be pursuing a far more complex strategy. As mentioned, the Pakistanis are facing pressure from all sides to get a grip over their jihadist problem. While insurgent management is a tricky business, the Pakistani security apparatus has an old method of reshuffling its militant proxies back and forth between its border with India and Afghanistan depending on its geopolitical priority at the time. Since Pakistan can’t afford to employ a force-only method in dealing with the insurgents, it has instead given the green light to a number of Islamist militant groups to ramp up attacks in Kashmir to go along with its plan of gradually shifting the militant focus away from the Pakistani-Afghan theater.

Just as the United States has played the India card, Pakistan, too, appears to have learned the benefits of raising the specter of a military conflict with India to deal more effectively with Washington. Pakistan needs to get the United States off its back as it tries to figure out how to manage its militant problem, particularly as the United States is exhibiting a higher tolerance for incurring domestic instability in Pakistan. In light of the domestic political pressures India currently faces, if Pakistan can show it’s willing to go the extra step to provoke a military conflict with India, it can distract its populace from the insurgency problem and spur the United States to reconsider pushing Pakistan too far.

And there is yet another added benefit to this strategy for Pakistan: Since 2001, Islamabad has warily been eyeing Washington’s warming relationship with New Delhi. Islamabad thus will jump at any opportunity to throw a wrench into U.S.-Indian relations. As long as Pakistan can plant the idea in India that the United States is turning a blind eye to an uptick in Kashmiri militant traffic in return for Pakistan’s cooperation in stemming jihadist traffic along the Afghan border, the United States and India could be headed for a rough patch.
==========
Pakistan’s government on May 21 reached a 15-point peace deal with Taliban militants in the country’s northern Swat valley, The Associated Press reported, citing Bashir Bilour, a senior minister in the North-West Frontier Province. The deal, which was signed in Peshawar, requires militants to recognize government authority, halt suicide and bomb attacks and turn over foreign militants in the region, Bilour said. In return, Bilour said the government must release prisoners and make certain concessions on the demands of pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Fazlullah for Islamic law in the region. The army also will gradually pull out of the Swat area, Bilour added, one of the militants’ key demands.
stratfor
24544  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Activity after a concussion on: May 21, 2008, 06:32:29 AM
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/16/sports-activity-after-a-concussion-slows-recovery/


Student athletes who return to sports quickly after a concussion appear to have a slower brain recovery than teens who stay off the field longer, a new study shows.
The report, from The Journal of Athletic Training, suggests that athletes who suffer from even mild concussions should slow down their return to the sports field. In fact, students with less severe injuries appeared to be those who return to sports the fastest. But resuming intense physical activity appeared to slow their recovery and even exacerbated their symptoms.
“By continuing with high levels of activity, they began to exhibit similar symptoms to those who initially experienced a more severe concussion,” said Jason P. Mihalik, an athletic trainer from the University of North Carolina and an author of the study.
The researchers tracked the medical records and activity levels of 95 student athletes, including 15 girls, who had suffered concussions in school sports. The students were evaluated using cognitive tests immediately after the concussion and in follow-up visits. The data showed that athletes who engaged in the highest level of activity soon after the initial injury tended to demonstrate the worst neurocognitive scores and slowest reaction times. Students fared better if they didn’t return immediately to their sport but instead simply engaged in normal school and home activities.
The study data reflect a general trend showing lower visual memory and reaction scores during the month following the injury among athletes who returned to their sports quickly after a concussion. But the data can’t be used to make specific recommendations about how long students should stay off the field after a concussion, which depends on the extent of the individual injury. However, the study does show that when it comes to concussions, the more time off to heal, the better.
Every year there are more than 300,000 sports-related concussions in the United States, and more than 60,000 cases occur among high school students. The study authors said that the results highlight the notion that concussion management may need to include recommendations regarding return to all activities, including school, work and daily chores, and not just sport-specific activities.
“Given the health issues associated with concussion, which may last longer than once thought, the decision on when and how to return an athlete not only to the playing field, but also to normal day-to-day activity, has begun receiving attention as a national health issue,” Mr. Mihalik said.
Part of the problem is that the culture of student athletics tends to reward students who stay on the field after a head injury, as reported in this Times story. The story is accompanied by this interactive graphic detailing numerous high school sports injuries.
And I recommend watching both of the following videos about what can happen when students suffer concussions on the field.

24545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Captain John Parker at Lexington on: May 21, 2008, 06:20:16 AM


"Don't fire unless fired upon. But if they want a war let it
begin here."

-- Captain John Parker (commander of the militiamen at Lexington,
Massachusetts, on siting British Troops (attributed), 19 April
1775)

Reference: The Spirit of 'Seventy-Six, Commanger and Morris (70)
24546  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Karambit Vs. straight blades on: May 21, 2008, 06:07:25 AM
The conversation is percolating nicely now.  Very good post Maija!

"Many of the known natural predators have natural Karambit hanging/popping out of their body's for a reason. What those reason are, I hope to never find out."

If I am not mistaken, the claws typically are used to hold the prey while the fangs are use to insert/thrust.  Sometimes the fangs insertion/thrust severes something important e.g. the spine, other times they are used to hold while vigrous shaking accomplishes snapping the neck(or spine?)

Continuing on a point Maija makes, I have read that often people do not know that they have been cut or stabbed. "I thought he was punching me, but after the fight was over I saw I had been stabbed/cut."  Does this not mean we need to think about the small knife from an impact POV as well?

TAC,
CD
24547  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: May 21, 2008, 05:54:25 AM
Woof Dog Dean:

You have email.

All:

I should mention that it needs to be in the LA area.

TAC,
CD
24548  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Location, location, location on: May 20, 2008, 10:02:38 PM
Woof All:

In today's episode of "As the Stick Twirls" we learned that we do not have a place for the Gathering yet.  shocked shocked tongue  Any ideas, suggestions, offers?

The Adventure continues!
Crafty Dog
24549  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Liner lock issues on: May 20, 2008, 09:54:29 PM
Where do you live? 
24550  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / News crew attacked on: May 20, 2008, 01:59:36 PM
TV news crew attacked by officials at tax-funded Muslim school
Posted at: 05/19/2008 02:54:48 PM


By: Nicole Muehlhausen, Web Producer


News crew confronted during report at TiZA charter school




In an attempt to report about the new findings from the Department of Education Monday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS went to Tarik ibn Zayad Academy in Inver Grove Heights.  While on school grounds, our crew was confronted by school officials. Our photographer was injured while wrestling with the two men over the camera.  Our photographer was examined by paramedics and suffered minor shoulder and back injuries.

The state education department on Monday directed the charter school to "correct" two areas related to religion at the school on Monday.

Tarik ibn Zayad Academy, which focuses on Middle Eastern culture and shares a mosque with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, came under fire after a teacher alleged that the school was offering religious instruction in Islam to its students.

"The Minnesota Department of Education goes to great lengths to make clear to charter schools and their sponsors that, while schools should appropriately accomodate students' religious beliefs, they must be 'nonsectarian' under the state's charter school law," said the state's education Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson.

The allegations first surfaced after an article by a columnist for the Star Tribune. The Education Department subsequently began a review of the south metro school and released its findings Monday.  The agency said it was concerned about the school, with about 300 students, accommodating communal prayer and providing transportation to an after-school religious program.

"We have directed the school to take appropriate corrective actions regarding these matters and will continue to provide oversight to ensure that the school is in compliance with state and federal law," Anderson said.

http://kstp.com/article/stories/S449649.shtml?cat=1

You can watch the attack on the news channel web site.

You Tube has it as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=895U5aVbU7k
=================



To avoid blurring the line between religion and public education, a Twin Cities charter school must undertake "corrective actions," the state Department of Education said Monday.
Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, which teaches hundreds of Muslim students at its Inver Grove Heights and Blaine campuses, should modify its communal prayers on Fridays to make sure students aren't missing too much school, according to the state report.
The report also recommends the school provide after-school busing at different times for students who aren't participating in religious activities.
State officials did not have any concerns with the school's instruction or curriculum.
"With regard to the areas reviewed, most of TiZA's operations are in compliance with state and federal law," Deputy Commissioner Chas Anderson said in a statement.
The state's most important finding is that TiZA is not teaching Islam to students, said Asad Zaman, the school's executive director.
"When something is illegal, it's illegal," he said. "We have done nothing illegal."
He called the state's concerns minor but said the K-8 school will cooperate with the department to propose alternative schedules.
Many TiZA students take five minutes Monday through Thursday to pray, and this causes little interruption, according to the report. But on Fridays — the Muslim holy day — a 30-minute chunk of time is set aside for students to pray. The department is concerned that students
who pray that day may not fulfill the state's minimum hourly attendance requirement, that the prayer takes place in a public school building, and that younger students may not understand that teachers who decide to pray with them are not promoting Islam.
Zaman, who does not participate in the prayer time, said community volunteers run the Friday prayer in the school gymnasium. The state's other concern is with the school's transportation schedule: School is dismissed around 3:30 p.m.,


but no busing is provided until about 4:30 p.m. — when after-school activities end.
According to the report, some Inver Grove Heights students participate in a Muslim studies class that the adjacent Muslim American Society of Minnesota runs. The school said it does not track the number of students enrolled in the class.
Meanwhile, about 30 percent to 40 percent of the school's 400 or so students participate in the school's free program called CARE, which teaches students about empathy-building, problem-solving and anger management.
The school also offers Girl Scouts, Boys Scouts and community volunteer activities.
The bus arrives at the later hour to accommodate families, said Zaman, who added that it was preferred by 98 percent of parents.
It's also a financial move, because it is nearly $100,000 more expensive to bus students at 3:30 p.m., Zaman said.
The school already has discussed several scheduling solutions, Zaman said.
"We cannot solve everything right away," he said. "But this is not an unsolvable problem."
A columnist for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Katherine Kersten, sparked the investigation after she wrote that the school mixed the roles of religion and public education. Her column aired a substitute teacher's allegations that school officials promoted Islam in the classroom.
The school has received numerous threats and installed a new security system as a result of the column, Zaman said. State officials acknowledged that TiZA has received threatening messages and thanked school staff for cooperating at a time when students and employees were concerned for their safety.
The controversy has sparked national and local media attention, and on Monday, a KSTP-TV photographer had his camera briefly confiscated after he walked onto school property and began filming students as classes let out. Inver Grove Heights police officials said they were called to the scene, but as of Monday evening, no arrests had been made or citations handed out.
Joe Nathan, director for the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, said the controversy surrounding the school has diverted attention from the school's success in working with students from first-generation immigrant families.
Zaman agrees.
"We will continue to follow the law," he said. "It's in the best interest of the children and community." Bao Ong can be reached at 651-228-5435.


http://www.twincities.com/ci_9315800...e=most_emailed

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0btQTDwHJiU&feature=related
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