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24501  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: August 05, 2010, 09:59:18 AM
Glad we agree!
24502  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 05, 2010, 09:55:40 AM
Sorry but I am not following your point at all.  How on earth does it get to a shooting war between the America and Mexico?

Not to say that there is not plenty of violence, but it looks more like this:

Mexico's Juarez Cartel Gets Desperate
August 5, 2010
By Scott Stewart

On Aug. 3, the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, Mexico, reopened after being closed for four days. On July 29, the consulate had announced in a warden message that it would be closed July 30 and would remain closed until a review of the consulate’s security posture could be completed.

The closure appears to be linked to a message found on July 15, signed by La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juarez cartel. This message was discovered at the scene shortly after a small improvised explosive device (IED) in a car was used in a well-coordinated ambush against federal police agents in Juarez, killing two agents. In the message, La Linea claimed credit for the attack and demanded that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and FBI investigate and remove the head of Chihuahua State Police Intelligence (CIPOL), who the message said is working with the Sinaloa Federation and its leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera. The message threatened that if the intelligence official was not removed by July 30, La Linea would deploy a car bomb with 100 kilograms of high explosives in Juarez.

The deadline has now passed without incident and the consulate has reopened. Examining this chain of events provides some valuable insights into the security of U.S. diplomatic facilities as well as the current state of events in Juarez, a city that in recent years has experienced levels of violence normally associated with an active war zone.


Security Standards

When considering the threats in Juarez that led to the closure of the U.S. consulate, it is useful to examine the building itself. The consulate is housed in a new building that was constructed in accordance with security specifications laid out by the U.S. State Department’s Standard Embassy Design (SED) program, standards first established by the Inman Commission in 1985. This means that the building was constructed using a design intended to withstand a terrorist attack and providing concentric rings of security. In addition to an advanced concrete structure and blast-resistant windows, such facilities also feature a substantial perimeter wall intended to protect the facility and to provide a standoff distance of at least 100 feet from any potential explosive device. This standoff distance is crucial in defending against large vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) because such a device can cause catastrophic damage to even a well-designed structure if it is allowed to get close to the structure before detonation. When combined, a heavy perimeter wall, sufficient standoff distance and advanced structural design have proved very effective in withstanding even large attacks.

The U.S. Consulate in Juarez is a well-designed building with adequate standoff. Certainly, the building could withstand the type of attacks that the cartels in Mexico have conducted to date, which have largely consisted of armed assaults, grenade attacks (the U.S. consulates in Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo have been attacked using hand grenades in the past two years) and occasional attacks involving small IEDs.

The building and its perimeter would also likely withstand a VBIED attack of the size threatened by La Linea, but such an attack in not something the U.S. government would want to risk. Despite the security design of the Juarez consulate, a VBIED attack would likely cause substantial damage to the facility and could result in the deaths of people outside the building. Perhaps the most vulnerable people during such an attack would be the hundreds of Mexican citizens (and other foreigners) who visit the consulate every day to apply for immigrant visas. Juarez and Mexico City are the only two U.S. diplomatic posts in Mexico that issue immigrant visas and both have a very heavy flow of visa applicants. U.S. consulates also frequently have a number of American citizens who visit each day in search of consular services.

Such visitors are screened at a security facility located on the edge of the consulate’s perimeter in order to keep weapons from entering the consulate complex. This screening facility/waiting area lacks standoff distance and would provide a soft target vulnerable to an attack. The local guards who provide perimeter security for the facility and screen visitors would also be vulnerable. The concern over the vulnerability of visitors was evidenced in the warden message that announced the Juarez consulate’s closure. In the message, people were urged to avoid the area of the consulate during the closure, which not only would reduce the risk of collateral damage if an attack occurred but would also give security personnel less activity to monitor for potential threats.

One other intriguing point about the security at the U.S. Consulate in Juarez and its closure due to La Linea’s VBIED threat is that the incident did not occur at a diplomatic post in a far-away terrorist hotspot like Yemen, Iraq or Pakistan. The U.S. Consulate in Juarez is located less than seven miles from downtown El Paso, Texas.


Desperate Measures

As we noted some months back, there have been persistent rumors that the Mexican government has favored the Sinaloa cartel and its leader, Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka “El Chapo.” This charge has been leveled by opposing cartels (like Los Zetas and the Juarez cartel), and events on the ground have seemingly supported the accusations, despite occasional indications to the contrary, like the July 29 death of Sinaloa operative Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal in a shootout with the Mexican military.

Whether or not such charges are true, it is quite evident that the Juarez cartel believes them to be so, and has acted accordingly. For example, in March, three local employees of the U.S. Consulate in Juarez were murdered, two of whom were U.S. citizens. According to the Mexican newspaper El Diario, a member of the Los Aztecas street gang was arrested and has confessed to his participation in the murders. Los Aztecas and its American cousin, Barrio Azteca, are both closely linked to the Juarez cartel. According to El Diario, the arrested Azteca member said that a decision was made by leaders in the Barrio Azteca gang and Juarez cartel to attack U.S. citizens in the Juarez area in an effort to force the U.S. government to intervene in the Mexican government’s war against the cartels and act as a “neutral referee,” thereby helping to counter the Mexican government’s favoritism toward El Chapo and the Sinaloa Federation.

Then, in the wake of the July 15 IED ambush in Juarez, La Linea left the message threatening to deploy a VBIED in Juarez if the FBI and DEA did not investigate and remove the head of CIPOL. Using an IED in an ambush to get the world’s attention (which it did) and then threatening to attack using an even larger device is further evidence that the Juarez cartel believes the Mexican government is favoring Sinaloa.

And this brings us to the current situation in Juarez. The Juarez cartel is wounded, its La Linea enforcer group and Los Aztecas ally having been hit heavily in recent months by both the Mexican government and Sinaloa forces. The last thing the group wants to do is invite the full weight of the U.S. government down upon its head by becoming the Mexican version of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel, which launched a war of terror upon Colombia that featured large VBIEDs and resulted in Escobar’s death and the destruction of his organization. In a similar case closer to home for the Juarez cartel, one of that cartel’s predecessors, the Guadalajara cartel, was dismantled after the U.S. government turned the full force of its drug enforcement power against the organization following the 1985 torture and execution of U.S. DEA special agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. Intervention by the U.S. government prompted by the Juarez cartel not only would focus on the organization in Mexico but also would likely result in U.S. law enforcement going after the organization’s assets and personnel inside the United States, which could be devastating for the cartel.

The current leader of the Juarez cartel, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, is the nephew of Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, one of the leaders of the Guadalajara cartel and one of the Mexican traffickers arrested in 1985 and convicted of killing Camarena. Fonseca Carrillo was also convicted of murdering two American tourists in Guadalajara in 1985 and a host of other charges. Now in his late 70s and reportedly suffering from cancer, Fonseca Carrillo will die in prison. Because of this family history, there is very little doubt that Carrillo Fuentes realizes the potential danger of using such tactics against the U.S. government.

And yet despite these dangers, both to the organization and to himself, Carrillo Fuentes and his followers have apparently tried to draw the U.S. government deeper into the conflict in Juarez (though they have been careful so far not to assassinate any U.S. diplomats or conduct any large and indiscriminate terrorist attacks). At present, the Juarez cartel seems to be walking a tight line of trying to get the U.S. government’s attention in Juarez while not doing anything too provocative.

These actions reflect the desperate situation in which the cartel finds itself. In practical terms, an increase in U.S. activity in Juarez would not only hurt Sinaloa but also impact the ability of the Juarez cartel to traffic narcotics. Although the FBI has already noted that it believes Sinaloa now controls the flow of narcotics through Juarez, the willingness of the Juarez cartel to suffer this type of impact on its own operations indicates that the organization believes the deck is stacked against it and that it needs an outside force to help counter the combined efforts of the Sinaloa Federation and the Mexican government.

For its part, the U.S. government has not shown the willingness to become more actively involved in Juarez, nor does it have the permission of the Mexican government to do so. The Mexicans are very protective of their sovereignty, and the U.S. government has shown that it will not overstep its bounds unless it is provoked by an incident like the Camarena murder. This means that the limited threats and attacks the Juarez cartel has been using are unlikely to result in any real increase in the U.S. presence in Juarez.

Ordinarily our assessment would be that the various Mexican cartels learned from the Camarena case and Escobar’s experience in Colombia and have been very careful not to provoke the U.S. government and to avoid being labeled narco-terrorists. It simply would not be good for business, and the cartels are, in fact, businesses, even though they specialize in an illicit trade. That said, in the recent past, we have witnessed cartels doing things inside Mexico that used to be considered taboo, like selling narcotics on Mexico’s domestic market, in an effort to raise money so they can continue their fight for control of their territory. (Their ability to make money has been affected not only by the cartel wars but also by drug interdiction efforts.) We have also seen cartels that are desperate for cash becoming increasingly involved in human smuggling and in kidnapping and extortion rackets.

It will be important to watch the Juarez cartel closely over the next few months as the United States refuses to become more involved and as the cartel becomes increasingly desperate. We believe the Sinaloa Federation and the Mexican government will continue aggressively to target the remnants of the Juarez cartel. Faced with this continued onslaught, will the Juarez cartel choose to go quietly into the night and allow Sinaloa to exercise uncontested control over the Juarez plaza, or will it in desperation undertake an even more audacious attempt to draw the United States into Juarez? Killing U.S. consulate employees has not succeeded in increasing the U.S. presence, and neither has threatening a VBIED, so it may feel compelled to take things up a notch.

Although we have not yet seen a VBIED deployed in Mexico, explosives are readily available in the country, and the July 15 attack demonstrated that La Linea has the ability to deploy a small IED in a fairly sophisticated manner. It is quite possible that La Linea could use that same technology to craft a larger device, even a VBIED. The capability, then, seems to be there for larger attacks. This leaves the intent part of the threat equation. It will be important to see, above all, if desperation pushes Carrillo Fuentes and the Juarez cartel to take the next, large step.

24503  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Roger Huerta on: August 04, 2010, 09:29:05 PM
 http://www.comcast.net/sports/writet...instreetfight/
And, there's also some video from TMZ.
http://www.tmz.com/videos?autoplay=t...b-330a87db4f24
24504  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / CA Prop 8 overturned by fed court on: August 04, 2010, 09:01:08 PM
A federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday overturned California's voter-approved initiative banning same-sex marriages, in a landmark case that could force the U.S. Supreme Court eventually to decide if gays have a constitutional right to marry.


As California decides the legality of California's Proposition 8, Ashby Jones discusses the legal team of David Boies and Ted Olson, opponents in Bush vs. Gore, who spearheaded the challenge to the state's prohibition against gay marriage. Also, Rob Guth discusses the agreement among 40 billionaires, led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, to give away at least half their wealth before they die.
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that 2008's Proposition 8 violated the constitutional guarantees to equal protection and due process because it singles out gays and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.

In his ruling, Judge Walker took issue with the argument that California voters had good reason for singling out gays when they voted for Proposition 8. "The evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples," wrote Judge Walker in a 138-page ruling.

While his ruling specifically reverses a line in California's state constitution that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, the case could ultimately rewrite marriage laws and legal protections for gays and lesbians across the nation as it makes its way through appeal.

The verdict doesn't mean that same-sex marriage can immediately take place in California. Judge Walker stayed new same-sex marriages in the state pending an appeal until at least Friday. Lawyers for the defense said they plan to appeal to the Ninth Circuit and potentially the Supreme Court.

Andy Pugno, a lawyer representing the group that put Proposition 8 on the ballot, said that on appeal he thought gay marriage advocates would have a difficult time convincing the Supreme Court to overturn a law that had been voted for by more than seven million Californians.

"Federal precedent is clear that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage," said Mr. Pugno in a statement. "To prevail in the end, our opponents have a very difficult task of convincing the U.S. Supreme Court to abandon precedent and invent a new constitutional right."

For gay-rights supporters, the victory is a vindication for an aggressive new strategy of targeting the federal courts. The approach has divided leaders, some of whom have argued that an ill-timed federal lawsuit could set back their movement at a time when only five states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. Previously, the battle was largely waged in state courts, legislatures and ballot initiatives.

But over the last year, federal courts have heard both a challenge to Proposition 8 and to the national Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to gay couples in states such as Massachusetts where they can already marry legally.

The Proposition 8 case, known as the Perry trial after lead plaintiff Kristin M. Perry, was filed by two same-sex couples seeking to marry in California.

 
A judge toppled California's ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday, ruling Prop. 8 unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection clauses. Catherine Carlock speaks with people celebrating, and protesting, outside San Francisco's courthouse.

Ted Olson, a former U.S. Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, who argued the case on behalf of the plaintiffs, acknowledged the challenge of winning the case upon eventual appeal to the Supreme Court, but emphasized that he still saw a path to victory. "With this decision, we are well on our way to an ultimate victory," he said at a press conference.

His co-counsel David Boies said he didn't think the Supreme Court has any legal grounds to overturn Judge Walker's ruling, despite its conservative makeup. "This doesn't ask the court to establish a new right," he said. All the court would have to do is look at the three facts already established in the case, including that marriage is a fundamental right, he said.

The 2008 ballot initiative, one of the most expensive nonbusiness-related initiatives in California's history, won support from 52% of voters.

Its passage followed a decision five months earlier by the state's Supreme Court allowing gay marriage. In a subsequent state court challenge to Proposition 8 last year, the California Supreme Court declined to invalidate a voter initiative but affirmed the validity of some 18,000 same-sex marriages that occurred before the measure became law.

In his ruling Wednesday, Judge Walker stopped short of saying that gays and lesbians are a "suspect class" of citizens, deserving of special scrutiny in all laws like racial minorities. Rather, he said the right to marry was fundamental, and taking it away from a group of people fails the most basic legal test, known as "rational basis."

The Proposition 8 case has become a political lightning rod in this November's election and is likely to become even more of a wedge issue following Judge Walker's ruling. The National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage, has been running a "Summer Marriage Tour" in a bus across the country, which has been tracked by gay rights groups. A survey of California voters taken in June by the Public Religion Research Institute found a ballot measure similar to Proposition 8 wouldn't pass today, and that one in five people think it was a "good thing" for the state.

As the case moves forward, legal analysts say that the Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court could choose to focus on a range of issues, including broad civil rights concerns or issues more narrowly specific to how Proposition 8 became law in California.

"I don't think it's a shoo-in" for an appeal of the case to win at the Supreme Court, said Marc Spindelman, a law professor at Ohio State University who has been following the case. Still, after Judge Walker's ruling, "clearly the burden of justification as a matter of practical reality is on the supporters of Prop. 8."

Some speculation about how a potential Supreme Court case might be decided has focused on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has become a critical swing vote in recent cases that have divided the court along ideological lines. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion for the court in two other cases that affirmed some protections for sexual orientation.

Write to Geoffrey A. Fowler at geoffrey.fowler@wsj.com
24505  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: /Tracking via cellphone GPS on: August 04, 2010, 08:57:17 PM
Phone companies know where their customers' cellphones are, often within a radius of less than 100 feet. That tracking technology has rescued lost drivers, helped authorities find kidnap victims and let parents keep tabs on their kids.

But the technology isn't always used the way the phone company intends.

One morning last summer, Glenn Helwig threw his then-wife to the floor of their bedroom in Corpus Christi, Texas, she alleged in police reports. She packed her 1995 Hyundai and drove to a friend's home, she recalled recently. She didn't expect him to find her. The day after she arrived, she says, her husband "all of a sudden showed up." According to police reports, he barged in and knocked her to the floor, then took off with her car.

The police say in a report that Mr. Helwig found his wife using a service offered by his cellular carrier, which enabled him to follow her movements through the global-positioning-system chip contained in her cellphone.

Mr. Helwig, in an interview, acknowledged using the service to track his wife on some occasions. He says he signed up for the tracking service last year. "AT&T had this little deal where you could find your family member through her cellphone," he says. But he didn't use it to find his wife that day, he says. Mr. Helwig, who is awaiting trial on related assault charges, declined to comment further about the matter. He has pleaded not guilty.


The allegations are a stark reminder of a largely hidden cost from the proliferation of sophisticated tracking technology in everyday life—a loss of privacy.

Global-positioning systems, called GPS, and other technologies used by phone companies have unexpectedly made it easier for abusers to track their victims. A U.S. Justice Department report last year estimated that more than 25,000 adults in the U.S. are victims of GPS stalking annually, including by cellphone.

In the online world, consumers who surf the Internet unintentionally surrender all kinds of personal information to marketing firms that use invisible tracking technology to monitor online activity. A Wall Street Journal investigation of the 50 most-popular U.S. websites found that most are placing intrusive tracking technologies on the computers of visitors—in some cases, more than 100 tracking tools at a time.

The cellphone industry says location-tracking programs are meant to provide a useful service to families, and that most providers take steps to prevent abuse. Mike Altschul, chief counsel for wireless-telecommunications trade group CTIA, says recommended "best practices" for providers of such services include providing notification to the person being tracked.

Mr. Helwig's wife had received such a notification, by text message, from AT&T. A spokesman for AT&T Inc. says it notifies all phone users when tracking functions are activated. But users don't have the right to refuse to be tracked by the account holder. Turning off the phone stops the tracking.

Cellphone companies will deactivate a tracking function if law-enforcement officials inform them it is being used for stalking. Mr. Altschul says authorities haven't asked carriers to change their programs. He adds that carriers have long supported programs to give untraceable cellphones to domestic-violence victims.

In Arizona this year, Andre Leteve used the GPS in his wife's cellphone to stalk her, according to his wife's lawyer, Robert Jensen, before allegedly murdering their two children and shooting himself. Mr. Jensen says Mr. Leteve's wife, Laurie Leteve, didn't know she was being tracked until she looked at one of the family's monthly cellphone bills, more than 30 days after the tracking began. Mr. Leteve, a real-estate agent, is expected to recover. He has pleaded not guilty to murder charges, and is awaiting trial. The law firm representing him declined to comment.

In a suspected murder-suicide last year near Seattle, a mechanic named James Harrison allegedly tracked his wife's cellphone to a store. After he found her there with another man, he shot to death his five children and himself, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office.

Therapists who work with domestic-abuse victims say they are increasingly seeing clients who have been stalked via their phones. At the Next Door Solutions for Battered Women shelter in San Jose, Calif., director Kathleen Krenek says women frequently arrive with the same complaint: "He knows where I am all the time, and I can't figure out how he's tracking me."

In such cases, Ms. Krenek says, the abuser is usually tracking a victim's cellphone. That comes as a shock to many stalking victims, she says, who often believe that carrying a phone makes them safer because they can call 911 if they're attacked.

There are various technologies for tracking a person's phone, and with the fast growth in smartphones, new ones come along frequently. Earlier this year, researchers with iSec Partners, a cyber-security firm, described in a report how anyone could track a phone within a tight radius. All that is required is the target person's cellphone number, a computer and some knowledge of how cellular networks work, said the report, which aimed to spotlight a security vulnerability.


The result, says iSec researcher Don Bailey, is that "guys like me, who shouldn't have access to your location, have it for very, very, very cheap."

That is, in part, an unintended consequence of federal regulations that require cellphone makers to install GPS chips or other location technology in nearly all phones. The Federal Communications Commission required U.S. cellular providers to make at least 95% of the phones in their networks traceable by satellite or other technologies by the end of 2005. The agency's intention was to make it easier for people in emergencies to get help. GPS chips send signals to satellites that enable police and rescue workers to locate a person.

To a large extent, that potential has been fulfilled. Last year, for example, police in Athol, Mass., working with a cellphone carrier, were able to pinpoint the location of a 9-year-old girl who allegedly had been kidnapped and taken to Virginia by her grandmother. In December, police in Wickliffe, Ohio, tracked down and arrested a man who allegedly had robbed a Pizza Hut at gunpoint by tracking the location of a cellphone they say he had stolen.

Mr. Altschul, of the cellphone-industry trade group, says the tracking technology has been of great help to both law-enforcement officials and parents. "The technology here is neutral," he says. "It's actually used for peace of mind."

But as GPS phones proliferated, tech companies found other uses for the tracking data. Software called MobileSpy can "silently record text messages, GPS locations and call details" on iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android phones, according to the program's maker, Retina-X Studios LLC. For $99.97 a year, a person can load MobileSpy onto someone's cellphone and track that phone's location.



Craig Thompson, Retina-X's operations director, says the software is meant to allow parents to track their kids and companies to keep tabs on phones their employees use. He says the company has sold 60,000 copies of MobileSpy. The company sometimes gets calls from people who complain they are being improperly tracked, he says, but it hasn't been able to verify any of the complaints.

Installing such programs requires a person to physically get hold of the phone to download software onto it.

GPS-tracking systems provided by cellular carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Communications Inc. are activated remotely, by the carriers.

Domestic-violence shelters have learned the consequences. As soon as victims arrive at shelters run by A Safe Place, "we literally take their phones apart and put them in a plastic bag" to disable the tracking systems, says Marsie Silvestro, director of the Portsmouth, N.H., organization, which houses domestic-violence victims in secret locations so their abusers can't find them.

The organization put that policy in place after a close call. On Feb. 26, Jennie Barnes arrived at a shelter to escape her husband, Michael Barnes, according to a police affidavit filed in a domestic-violence case against Mr. Barnes in New Hampshire state court. Ms. Barnes told police she was afraid that Mr. Barnes, who has admitted in court to assaulting his wife, would assault her again.

Ms. Barnes told a police officer that "she was in fear for her life," according to court filings. The next day, a judge issued a restraining order requiring Mr. Barnes to stay away from his wife.

Later that day, court records indicate, Mr. Barnes called his wife's cellular carrier, AT&T, and activated a service that let him track his wife's location. Mr. Barnes, court records say, told his brother that he planned to find Ms. Barnes.

The cellular carrier sent Ms. Barnes a text message telling her the tracking service had been activated, and police intercepted her husband. Mr. Barnes, who pleaded guilty to assaulting his wife and to violating a restraining order by tracking her with the cellphone, was sentenced to 12 months in jail. A lawyer for Mr. Barnes didn't return calls seeking comment.

Another source for cellphone tracking information: systems meant to help police and firefighters. Some cellular carriers provide services for law-enforcement officers to track people in emergencies. Using such systems requires a person to visit a special website or dial a hot-line number set up by the carrier and claim the data request is for law-enforcement purposes.

Cellular carriers say they try to verify that callers are legitimate. An AT&T spokesman says an office is manned around the clock by operators who ask for subpoenas from law-enforcement officials using the system.

But federal law allows carriers to turn over data in emergencies without subpoenas. Al Gidari, a lawyer who represents carriers such as Verizon, says such location-tracking systems can be easy to abuse. Police, he says, often claim they need data immediately for an emergency like a kidnapping, and therefore don't have time to obtain a warrant, in which a judge must approve an information request.

In Minnesota, Sarah Jean Mann claimed last year in a county-court petition for a restraining order that her estranged boyfriend, a state narcotics agent, followed her by tracking her cellphone and accessing her call and location records through such a system. The court issued the restraining order. The boyfriend, Randy Olson, has since resigned from the police force. He didn't respond to calls seeking comment.

Mr. Gidari says law-enforcement's easy access to such data makes the systems easy to abuse. He says carriers would like to have a system in place requiring agents to get warrants. Without such a requirement, there is little carriers can do to resist warrantless requests, say Mr. Gidari and Mr. Altschul of trade group CTIA. Federal law says carriers may comply with such requests, and law-enforcement agencies have pressured them to maintain the tracking systems, Mr. Gidari says.

The easiest way for stalkers to locate a target—and perhaps the most common, say therapists who work with victims and abusers—is by using systems offered by carriers. When cellphone users sign up for a "family plan" that includes two or more phones, they have the option to contact the carrier and activate a tracking feature intended to allow them to keep tabs on their children.

The AT&T FamilyMap program, for example, is free for 30 days and requires only a phone call to activate. "Know where your kids and loved ones are at any time!" says AT&T's website. The system is for parents, says an AT&T spokesman. He says the company hasn't received complaints about FamilyMap being used by stalkers.

The system provides an on-screen map on the smartphone or computer of the person doing the tracking. A dot on the map shows the location and movement of the person being followed. The carrier sends a text-message to the person being tracked that their phone is registered in the program.

These add-on services can be lucrative for carriers. AT&T debuted its FamilyMap system in April 2009. It charges $9.99 a month to track up to two phones, $14.99 for up to five. FamilyMap users must agree to "terms-of-use" stating that they may not use the system to "harrass, stalk, threaten" or otherwise harm anyone.

In Corpus Christi, Mr. Helwig and his wife, who had been married since early 2008, bought phones under an AT&T family plan. Mr. Helwig says he activated the feature last year. His wife says she received a text message that a tracking function had been activated on her phone, but wasn't sure how it was activated. Her husband, she says, initially denied turning on the tracking function.

She says she eventually came up with a plan to flee to the house of a family whose children she baby-sat. Her husband "had no idea where they lived" or even their names, she says. As she was packing, her husband confronted her. They argued, and, according to her statements in police reports, Mr. Helwig dragged her around by her hair.

The police came. She says she told them she didn't want them to arrest Mr. Helwig, that she simply wanted to leave. The police told Mr. Helwig to stay away from her for 24 hours, she says.

As she drove to her friend's house, she says, she made sure her phone was off so Mr. Helwig couldn't track her. But she turned it on several times to make calls. The next day, Mr. Helwig was outside in a rage, according to police reports.

Mr. Helwig forced his way into the house, pushed her to the floor, took her car keys and drove away in her Hyundai, according to police reports.

Police arrested Mr. Helwig a short distance away. Mr. Helwig, a firefighter, is facing charges of assault and interfering with an emergency call. His trial is scheduled to begin this summer.

Mr. Helwig and his wife divorced, and she left Corpus Christi. She says she doesn't want to testify against him. She says she is more careful about trusting her cellphone now.

Write to Justin Scheck at justin.scheck@wsj.com
24506  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: MO vote against O'care on: August 04, 2010, 08:52:29 PM
Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure aimed at nullifying the new federal health care law, becoming the first state in the nation where ordinary people made known their dismay over the issue at the ballot box.

The measure was intended to invalidate a crucial element of President Obama's health care law — namely, that most people be required to get health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Supporters of the measure said it would send a firm signal to Washington about how this state, often a bellwether in presidential elections, felt about such a law. The referendum drew support from 71 percent of nearly 939,000 voters. "My constituents told me they felt like their voices had been ignored and they wanted Washington to hear them," Jane Cunningham, a state senator and Republican who had pressed for a vote, said Tuesday night. "It looks to me like they just picked up a megaphone."

The referendum, known as Proposition C, was seen as a first look at efforts by conservatives to gather and rally their forces over the issue. Before the vote, the referendum had not appeared to to capture the general population's attention with any broad, statewide media campaign. Republican primary voters (who had the most competitive races on Tuesday) appeared to play a key role in the vote's fate; far more voters (577,612) cast ballots in the state's Republican primary for an open United States Senate seat as cast ballots for the Democratic candidates (315,787).
Practically speaking, it remains entirely uncertain what effect the vote will have. The insurance requirement of the federal health care law does not come into effect until 2014. By then, experts say, the courts are likely to weigh in on the provision requiring people to buy insurance.

"While we're disappointed that Missourians didn't vote against this, we think the courts will ultimately decide it," said David M. Dillon, a spokesman for the Missouri Hospital Association.

For some, the outcome was not merely about health care, but about the role of states in setting policy.

"This really wasn't an effort to poke the president in the eye," said State Senator Jim Lembke, a Republican. "First and foremost, this was about defining the role of state government and the role of federal government. Whether it's here in Missouri with health care or in Arizona with illegal immigration, the states are going to get together on this now."
24507  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / VA Obamacare motion to dismiss denied on: August 04, 2010, 08:25:11 PM
The Virginia Obamacare Decision
What are the limits of the federal government's power? Surely, no enactment in modern times pushes the boundary further than Obamacare. In denying the Obama administration's motion to dismiss the Commonwealth of Virginia's challenge to the constitutionality of Obamacare, US District Judge Henry Hudson thus correctly recognized that the individual mandate "literally forges new ground and extends Commerce Clause powers beyond its current high water mark." Specifically, the court recognized that there is a critical difference between the federal government regulating "a voluntary decision to perform an act" and mandating "that a person ... perform an involuntary act." Interestingly, the court also invoked the notion of enumerated powers, noting that there is no "specifically articulated constitutional authority" for imposing an individual mandate.

It's very early days. A trial court decision on a motion to dismiss is hardly dispositive of squat. Having said that, however, this opinion sets a very good tone for the lengthy battles to follow.

http://www.professorbainbridge.com/professorbainbridgecom/2010/08/the-virginia-obamacare-decision.html

 

http://www.concurringopinions.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/virginia-opinion.pdf
24508  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: August 04, 2010, 05:06:51 PM
GD:

That makes sense.

Pappy:

At the Gathering in question you have some great fights.  You will be looking good!

24509  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dog Brothers Open Gathering Sept 19, 2010 on: August 04, 2010, 03:48:39 PM
The standard length that DBMA sells is 54" so I'm sure I can find a couple for those so inclined.
24510  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 04, 2010, 11:25:54 AM
Rarick wrote:

"walk softly and carry a big stick" would mean something more like:  We ignore you as long as you do not come and attack us, however attack us and we will ERASE your government.  Once that is done we will leave you alone.......  We DO NOT stay in the country and try and impose our style on theirs, or create long term problems and drains that damage us more than it damages the attacker.    A fairly quick 2-3 year war followed by us being gone as quickly as possible after dealing in a final fashion with the responsible parties............  It does not mean "running and hiding" that you seem to be implying.

----------

This is exactly what Col. Ralph Peters proposed.

GM asks:

"So big chunks of DC and Manhattan disappear in a flash. AQ releases a martyrdom video from UK and German nationals claiming credit. Who exactly are you declaring war on?"
-----------------

A very pertinent question.

The larger point intended by my previous answer was that the answer lies not in defensively trying to plug all the holes here at home, because as an open society ultimately it cannot be done, but in aggressively going after the enemy on his home turf.

Yes I recognize that this does not solve the UK and German Islamo-fascists posited by GM's question, but what I said does go after the possible sources of nukes:  Pakistan, Iran, etc.
24511  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 04, 2010, 11:00:23 AM
Sorry, but I am not going to give an inch here.  No negotiations or agreements are necessary or in the slightest bit appropriate.
24512  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: August 04, 2010, 10:56:58 AM
Saudi/Wahabi money has financed a shockingly large % of mosques in the US (the number slips my mind).  And in the rare cases that someone has invested the time and money to get the Arabic materials used translated and read, it usually reveals the worst of Wahabbi Islam being taught despite the previous promises made in English.
24513  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty on: August 04, 2010, 10:54:08 AM
My read on Ruth is that she is a quintessential progressive and uses non-American sources to advance that agenda.
24514  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 03, 2010, 09:02:18 PM
We are going to die! , , , sooner rather than later  cry
24515  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 03, 2010, 09:01:10 PM
Heh heh heh  cheesy cool
24516  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 03, 2010, 06:59:51 PM
" Please give me a law enforcement and intelligence model that deals with the current threat profile without offending libertarian sensibilities."

Two ears, one bullet.

I wouldn't have thrown Iraq away; I wouldn't tell the Taliban we're leaving; I'd cut a deal with the Pashtuns to unite Pashtunistan; I'd support the Iranian opposition; I'd get out of the way of Israel's right to self-defense including against Iran; I'd acknowledge that to the extent that Islam seeks theocracy that it is an anti-American political ideology and to that extent not protected by the First Amendment; I'd prosecute those who divulge military intelligence.

That would be before lunch on the first day.
24517  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: August 03, 2010, 06:20:29 PM
Woof Sled Dog:

I'm a bit surprised at the lack of commentary myself.

The first show will be of highlights of the Fall 2005 Gathering, which was the one that Original Productions shot at the RAW Gym to produce the pilot that led to the Nat Geo documentary, which was shot at OP's warehouse which was the set for its "Monster Garage" show.   

Working with existing footage:

a) enables us to keep control of what goes out;
b) enables us to use footage where fighters are not subject to temptations of posturing;
c) keeps our costs down; and
d) enables us to feel our way into this.

We have to submit the final edit of the first show by August 15th and it should air sometime in October or November.

The Adventure continues!
CD
24518  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 03, 2010, 12:12:46 PM
I guess I was defining things more broadly, but that it is fair enough to focus on the Patriot Act , , , as long as we get to the big picture too.
24519  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 03, 2010, 11:33:51 AM
Ok, then I am not getting the importance of your distinction between the NSA and domestic enforcement.
24520  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 03, 2010, 11:24:12 AM
So, you disapprove of what the NSA has been doing?
24521  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / RB Ginsburg at it again on: August 03, 2010, 11:23:12 AM
My Constitutional law prof is at it again.  POTH approves, naturally:

Nativism in American politics has become so rampant that it is considered scandalous in Republican circles for a judge to acknowledge paying any attention to foreign courts and their legal rulings. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the few prominent jurists to speak out against this trend in recent years, gave an on-the-money speech last week pointing out the xenophobia on recent display in the confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan.

At one point, Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican of Iowa, noted with scorn that Harvard Law School, where Ms. Kagan had been dean, required first-year students to study international law. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican of Oklahoma, asked why Ms. Kagan thought it was acceptable to use foreign law to interpret the Constitution, which she retorted was almost never the case. Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican of Arizona, summed it up: “I’m troubled by it,” not because foreign law would create a United States precedent, but “because it suggests that you could turn to foreign law to get good ideas.”

In her remarks on Friday, delivered to the International Academy of Comparative Law at American University in Washington, Justice Ginsburg said that kind of thinking is completely at odds with the views of the nation’s founders, who were extremely interested in the opinions and laws of other countries. The authors of the Federalist Papers, she noted, cited the “high importance” of observing the “laws of nations.” And, of course, the Declaration of Independence itself was an appeal to the “opinions of mankind” in a “candid world.”

To the extent that the United States wants its ideals and legal system to inspire others, it should take interest in ideas from overseas, she said, not necessarily adopting them but drawing on them. Ms. Kagan made it clear that foreign opinions are not authoritative, Justice Ginsburg said, adding: “They set no binding precedent for the U.S. judge. But they can add to the store of knowledge relevant to the solution of trying questions.”

In 2002, the Supreme Court prohibited the execution of those mentally retarded, noting that the practice is overwhelmingly disapproved around the world. In 2003, it struck down prohibitions on gay sex, which it called “an integral part of human freedom in many other countries.” In 2005, the court prohibited the execution of minors, again noting global opinion. “It does not lessen our fidelity to the Constitution or our pride in its origins,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in that case, to acknowledge “the express affirmation of certain fundamental rights by other nations and peoples.”

The reasoning in those cases was greeted with catcalls from legal isolationists, as no doubt will be Justice Ginsburg’s brave speech. Foreign law will undoubtedly be cited this week as a reason why many Republicans will vote against Ms. Kagan’s confirmation. They might want to re-read James Madison’s description in the Federalist Papers of the ideal legislator: “He ought not to be altogether ignorant of the law of nations.”
24522  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: August 03, 2010, 09:53:48 AM
From where is the money paying for it coming?  Saudi Arabia? 
24523  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 03, 2010, 09:44:17 AM
But the standard now is lower, yes?

"the phone user has already forfeited any constitutional privacy rights he may have in his phone number or the number he calls by revealing them to the phone company"

The logic here makes me uneasy.  Read that sentence carefully.  Is the logic that anything not known only to me is devoid of privacy?
======================
And here's a different take on things from that of the article you posted:

http://www.eff.org/nsa/faq
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_war...ce_controversy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_call_database
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/n...raffic-too.ars
24524  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Estudio: 1 contra 1 no lo es on: August 03, 2010, 09:40:34 AM
Lastima que no veamos todo.

?Donde se fue el "backpack" (?Como se dice "backpack"?) del hombre de la camisa blanca?

?Por que esta' haciendo golpes de martillo (hammerfist)?

?Que es el liquido que se ve en 0:49?
24525  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 03, 2010, 08:48:33 AM
The last paragraph is a bland sounding sound bite that is profoundly wrong.

This is absolutely NOT a matter for negotiation with Mexico, or even for the Mexican president to opine in front of the US Congress.  Who comes to America is to be decided by AMERICA. angry angry angry
24526  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WaPo on Kandahar on: August 03, 2010, 08:43:11 AM
"Our man (formerly in) Iraq" flags this article for our attention:

Some cogent points made in a Wash Post article today in re Kandahar.  The whole article is worth reading:
 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/02/AR2010080205235.html
 
-----------
 
In Baghdad, the use of checkpoints, identification cards and walled-off communities helped to reduce violence because there were two feuding factions, riven by sect. Because the city had been carved into a collection of separate Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods, U.S. forces were able to place themselves along the borders. Both sides tolerated the tactics to a degree because they came to believe U.S. troops would protect them from their rivals.
 
The conflict in Kandahar is far murkier. There are no differences in religion or ethnicity: Nearly everyone here is a Sunni Pashtun. There are divisions among tribes and clans, but they are not a reliable indicator of support for the Taliban. And many residents regard U.S. forces as the cause of the growing instability, rather than the solution to it.
 
...
 
"Since they put the cement walls up, security is better, but nobody is coming to our shops," an elderly man named Rafiullah told Hodges as he visited his small stall filled with sundries next to a checkpoint on the western border.
 
...
 
Perhaps the most important reason population control worked to the extent it did in Baghdad was because each side believed the other posed an existential threat, and both turned to the United States for security. In many parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan, the population has yet to seek protection.
 
Many Kandaharis regard the Taliban as wayward brothers and cousins -- fellow Pashtuns with whom they can negotiate and one day reconcile. They also worry about siding with their government because they fear Taliban retribution, both now and when U.S. troop reductions begin next summer.
 
...
 
But the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy depends on persuading Pashtuns to get off the fence and cast their lot with their government. The U.S. military and civilian agencies are trying to help the government win over the public by delivering services to the population that the Taliban does not offer, including education, health care, agricultural assistance and justice based on the rule of law.
That requires capable civil servants willing to work in an unstable environment -- and that's where the strategy is hitting its most significant roadblock.
 
A recent effort by Karzai's local-governance directorate to fill 300 civil service jobs in Kandahar and the surrounding district turned up four qualified applicants, even after the agency dropped its application standards to remove a high school diploma, according to several U.S. officials.
 
The main impediment is security. Afghans don't want to work for their government or U.S. development contractors in such an unsafe environment.
 
...
 
In the Panjwai district to the west of Kandahar, U.S. officials say, the district governor and the police chief recently got into a fight. The chief hit the governor with a teakettle and the governor smashed a teacup on the chief's head, the confrontation culminating in a shootout between their guards.
24527  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: August 03, 2010, 07:52:40 AM
The final paragraph is drivel, but overall the piece is an interesting read nonetheless.
============================

Arizona, Borderlands and U.S.-Mexican Relations
August 3, 2010




By George Friedman

Arizona’s new law on illegal immigration went into effect last week, albeit severely limited by a federal court ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court undoubtedly will settle the matter, which may also trigger federal regulations. However that turns out, the entire issue cannot simply be seen as an internal American legal matter. More broadly, it forms part of the relations between the United States and Mexico, two sovereign nation-states whose internal dynamics and interests are leading them into an era of increasing tension. Arizona and the entire immigration issue have to be viewed in this broader context.

Until the Mexican-American War, it was not clear whether the dominant power in North America would have its capital in Washington or Mexico City. Mexico was the older society with a substantially larger military. The United States, having been founded east of the Appalachian Mountains, had been a weak and vulnerable country. At its founding, it lacked strategic depth and adequate north-south transportation routes. The ability of one colony to support another in the event of war was limited. More important, the United States had the most vulnerable of economies: It was heavily dependent on maritime exports and lacked a navy able to protect its sea-lanes against more powerful European powers like England and Spain. The War of 1812 showed the deep weakness of the United States. By contrast, Mexico had greater strategic depth and less dependence on exports.

The Centrality of New Orleans
The American solution to this strategic weakness was to expand the United States west of the Appalachians, first into the Northwest Territory ceded to the United States by the United Kingdom and then into the Louisiana Purchase, which Thomas Jefferson ordered bought from France. These two territories gave the United States both strategic depth and a new economic foundation. The regions could support agriculture that produced more than the farmers could consume. Using the Ohio-Missouri-Mississippi river system, products could be shipped south to New Orleans. New Orleans was the farthest point south to which flat-bottomed barges from the north could go, and the farthest inland that oceangoing ships could travel. New Orleans became the single most strategic point in North America. Whoever controlled it controlled the agricultural system developing between the Appalachians and the Rockies. During the War of 1812, the British tried to seize New Orleans, but forces led by Andrew Jackson defeated them in a battle fought after the war itself was completed.

Jackson understood the importance of New Orleans to the United States. He also understood that the main threat to New Orleans came from Mexico. The U.S.-Mexican border then stood on the Sabine River, which divides today’s Texas from Louisiana. It was about 200 miles from that border to New Orleans and, at its narrowest point, a little more than 100 miles from the Sabine to the Mississippi.

Mexico therefore represented a fundamental threat to the United States. In response, Jackson authorized a covert operation under Sam Houston to foment an uprising among American settlers in the Mexican department of Texas with the aim of pushing Mexico farther west. With its larger army, a Mexican thrust to the Mississippi was not impossible — nor something the Mexicans would necessarily avoid, as the rising United States threatened Mexican national security.

Mexico’s strategic problem was the geography south of the Rio Grande (known in Mexico as the Rio Bravo). This territory consisted of desert and mountains. Settling this area with large populations was impossible. Moving through it was difficult. As a result, Texas was very lightly settled with Mexicans, prompting Mexico initially to encourage Americans to settle there. Once a rising was fomented among the Americans, it took time and enormous effort to send a Mexican army into Texas. When it arrived, it was weary from the journey and short of supplies. The insurgents were defeated at the Alamo and Goliad, but as the Mexicans pushed their line east toward the Mississippi, they were defeated at San Jacinto, near present-day Houston.

The creation of an independent Texas served American interests, relieving the threat to New Orleans and weakening Mexico. The final blow was delivered under President James K. Polk during the Mexican-American War, which (after the Gadsden Purchase) resulted in the modern U.S.-Mexican border. That war severely weakened both the Mexican army and Mexico City, which spent roughly the rest of the century stabilizing Mexico’s original political order.

A Temporary Resolution
The U.S. defeat of Mexico settled the issue of the relative power of Mexico and the United States but did not permanently resolve the region’s status; that remained a matter of national power and will. The United States had the same problem with much of the Southwest (aside from California) that Mexico had: It was a relatively unattractive place economically, given that so much of it was inhospitable. The region experienced chronic labor shortages, relatively minor at first but accelerating over time. The acquisition of relatively low-cost labor became one of the drivers of the region’s economy, and the nearest available labor pool was Mexico. An accelerating population movement out of Mexico and into the territory the United States seized from Mexico paralleled the region’s accelerating economic growth.

The United States and Mexico both saw this as mutually beneficial. From the American point of view, there was a perpetual shortage of low-cost, low-end labor in the region. From the Mexican point of view, Mexico had a population surplus that the Mexican economy could not readily metabolize. The inclination of the United States to pull labor north was thus matched by the inclination of Mexico to push that labor north.

The Mexican government built its social policy around the idea of exporting surplus labor — and as important, using remittances from immigrants to stabilize the Mexican economy. The U.S. government, however, wanted an outcome that was illegal under U.S. law. At times, the federal government made exceptions to the law. When it lacked the political ability to change the law, the United States put limits on the resources needed to enforce the law. The rest of the country didn’t notice this process while the former Mexican borderlands benefited from it economically. There were costs to the United States in this immigrant movement, in health care, education and other areas, but business interests saw these as minor costs while Washington saw them as costs to be borne by the states.

Three fault lines emerged in United States on the topic. One was between the business classes, which benefited directly from the flow of immigrants and could shift the cost of immigration to other social sectors, and those who did not enjoy those benefits. The second lay between the federal government, which saw the costs as trivial, and the states, which saw them as intensifying over time. And third, there were tensions between Mexican-American citizens and other American citizens over the question of illegal migrants. This inherently divisive, potentially explosive mix intensified as the process continued.

Borderlands and the Geopolitics of Immigration
Underlying this political process was a geopolitical one. Immigration in any country is destabilizing. Immigrants have destabilized the United States ever since the Scots-Irish changed American culture, taking political power and frightening prior settlers. The same immigrants were indispensible to economic growth. Social and cultural instability proved a low price to pay for the acquisition of new labor.

That equation ultimately also works in the case of Mexican migrants, but there is a fundamental difference. When the Irish or the Poles or the South Asians came to the United States, they were physically isolated from their homelands. The Irish might have wanted Roman Catholic schools, but in the end, they had no choice but to assimilate into the dominant culture. The retention of cultural hangovers did not retard basic cultural assimilation, given that they were far from home and surrounded by other, very different, groups.

This is the case for Mexican-Americans in Chicago or Alaska, whether citizens, permanent residents or illegal immigrants. In such locales, they form a substantial but ultimately isolated group, surrounded by other, larger groups and generally integrated into the society and economy. Success requires that subsequent generations follow the path of prior immigrants and integrate. This is not the case, however, for Mexicans moving into the borderlands conquered by the United States just as it is not the case in other borderlands around the world. Immigrant populations in this region are not physically separated from their homeland, but rather can be seen as culturally extending their homeland northward — in this case not into alien territory, but into historically Mexican lands.

This is no different from what takes place in borderlands the world over. The political border moves because of war. Members of an alien population suddenly become citizens of a new country. Sometimes, massive waves of immigrants from the group that originally controlled the territory politically move there, undertaking new citizenship or refusing to do so. The cultural status of the borderland shifts between waves of ethnic cleansing and population movement. Politics and economics mix, sometimes peacefully and sometimes explosively.

The Mexican-American War established the political boundary between the two countries. Economic forces on both sides of the border have encouraged both legal and illegal immigration north into the borderland — the area occupied by the United States. The cultural character of the borderland is shifting as the economic and demographic process accelerates. The political border stays were it is while the cultural border moves northward.

The underlying fear of those opposing this process is not economic (although it is frequently expressed that way), but much deeper: It is the fear that the massive population movement will ultimately reverse the military outcome of the 1830s and 1840s, returning the region to Mexico culturally or even politically. Such borderland conflicts rage throughout the world. The fear is that it will rage here.

The problem is that Mexicans are not seen in the traditional context of immigration to the United States. As I have said, some see them as extending their homeland into the United States, rather than as leaving their homeland and coming to the United States. Moreover, by treating illegal immigration as an acceptable mode of immigration, a sense of helplessness is created, a feeling that the prior order of society was being profoundly and illegally changed. And finally, when those who express these concerns are demonized, they become radicalized. The tension between Washington and Arizona — between those who benefit from the migration and those who don’t — and the tension between Mexican-Americans who are legal residents and citizens of the United States and support illegal immigration and non-Mexicans who oppose illegal immigration creates a potentially explosive situation.

Centuries ago, Scots moved to Northern Ireland after the English conquered it. The question of Northern Ireland, a borderland, was never quite settled. Similarly, Albanians moved to now-independent Kosovo, where tensions remain high. The world is filled with borderlands where political and cultural borders don’t coincide and where one group wants to change the political border that another group sees as sacred.

Migration to the United States is a normal process. Migration into the borderlands from Mexico is not. The land was seized from Mexico by force, territory now experiencing a massive national movement — legal and illegal — changing the cultural character of the region. It should come as no surprise that this is destabilizing the region, as instability naturally flows from such forces.

Jewish migration to modern-day Israel represents a worst-case scenario for borderlands. An absence of stable political agreements undergirding this movement characterized this process. One of the characteristics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mutual demonization. In the case of Arizona, demonization between the two sides also runs deep. The portrayal of supporters of Arizona’s new law as racist and the characterization of critics of that law as un-American is neither new nor promising. It is the way things would sound in a situation likely to get out of hand.

Ultimately, this is not about the Arizona question. It is about the relationship between Mexico and the United States on a range of issues, immigration merely being one of them. The problem as I see it is that the immigration issue is being treated as an internal debate among Americans when it is really about reaching an understanding with Mexico. Immigration has been treated as a subnational issue involving individuals. It is in fact a geopolitical issue between two nation-states. Over the past decades, Washington has tried to avoid turning immigration into an international matter, portraying it rather as an American law enforcement issue. In my view, it cannot be contained in that box any longer.

24528  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 03, 2010, 07:40:27 AM
"Despite librarians’ fervent belief to the contrary, this analysis applies equally to library patrons’ book borrowing or Internet use. The government may obtain those records without violating anyone’s Fourth Amendment rights, because the patron has already revealed his borrowing and web browsing to library staff, other readers (in the days of handwritten book checkout cards), and Internet service providers. Tombstones declaring the death of the Fourth Amendment contain no truth whatsoever.
, , ,

"The target of this ire? A section that merely updates existing law to modern technology. The government has long had the power to collect the numbers dialed from, or the incoming numbers to, a person’s telephone by showing a court that the information is “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.” Just as in section 215 of the Patriot Act, this legal standard is lower than traditional Fourth Amendment “probable cause,” because the phone user has already forfeited any constitutional privacy rights he may have in his phone number or the number he calls by revealing them to the phone company."

GM, I confess to a visceral unease at the notion that I have no privacy rights about what I read or with whom I speak by telephone.
24529  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Laffer: Soak the Rich Catch 22 on: August 02, 2010, 12:07:09 PM
By ARTHUR LAFFER
Tax reduction thus sets off a process that can bring gains for everyone, gains won by marshalling resources that would otherwise stand idle—workers without jobs and farm and factory capacity without markets. Yet many taxpayers seemed prepared to deny the nation the fruits of tax reduction because they question the financial soundness of reducing taxes when the federal budget is already in deficit. Let me make clear why, in today's economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarged the federal deficit—why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues.


—President John F. Kennedy,
Economic Report of the President,

January 1963


If only more of today's leaders thought like JFK. Sadly, in the debate over whether to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, and if so whether the cuts should be extended to those people who are in the highest tax bracket, there is a false presumption that higher tax rates on the top 1% of income earners will raise tax revenues.

Anyone who is familiar with the historical data available from the IRS knows full well that raising income tax rates on the top 1% of income earners will most likely reduce the direct tax receipts from the now higher taxed income—even without considering the secondary tax revenue effects, all of which will be negative. And who on Earth wants higher tax rates on anyone if it means larger deficits?

Since 1978, the U.S. has cut the highest marginal earned-income tax rate to 35% from 50%, the highest capital gains tax rate to 15% from about 50%, and the highest dividend tax rate to 15% from 70%. President Clinton cut the highest marginal tax rate on long-term capital gains from the sale of owner-occupied homes to 0% for almost all home owners. We've also cut just about every other income tax rate as well.

During this era of ubiquitous tax cuts, income tax receipts from the top 1% of income earners rose to 3.3% of GDP in 2007 (the latest year for which we have data) from 1.5% of GDP in 1978. Income tax receipts from the bottom 95% of income earners fell to 3.2% of GDP from 5.4% of GDP over the same time period. (See the nearby chart).

 .These results shouldn't be surprising. The highest tax bracket income earners, when compared with those people in lower tax brackets, are far more capable of changing their taxable income by hiring lawyers, accountants, deferred income specialists and the like. They can change the location, timing, composition and volume of income to avoid taxation.

Just look at Sen. John Kerry's recent yacht brouhaha if you don't believe me. He bought and housed his $7 million yacht in Rhode Island instead of Massachusetts, where he is the senior senator and champion of higher taxes on the rich, avoiding some $437,500 in state sales tax and an annual excise tax of about $70,000.

Howard Metzenbaum, the former Ohio senator and liberal supporter of the death tax, chose to change his official residence to Florida just before he died because Florida does not have an estate tax while Ohio does. Goodness knows what creative devices former House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel has used to avoid paying taxes.

In short, the highest bracket income earners—even left-wing liberals—are far more sensitive to tax rates than are other income earners.

When President Kennedy cut the highest income tax rate to 70% from 91%, revenues also rose. Income tax receipts from the top 1% of income earners rose to 1.9% of GDP in 1968 from 1.3% in 1960. Even when Presidents Harding and Coolidge cut tax rates in the 1920s, tax receipts from the rich rose. Between 1921 and 1928 the highest marginal personal income tax rate was lowered to 25% from 73% and tax receipts from the top 1% of income earners went to 1.1% of GDP from 0.6% of GDP.

Or perhaps you'd like to see how the rich paid less in taxes under the bipartisan tax rate increases of Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter? Between 1968 and 1981 the top 1% of income earners reduced their total income tax payments to 1.5% of GDP from 1.9% of GDP.

And then there's the Hoover/Roosevelt Great Depression. The Great Depression was precipitated by President Hoover in early 1930, when he signed into law the largest ever U.S. tax increase on traded products—the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. President Hoover then thought it would be clever to try to tax America into prosperity. Using many of the same arguments that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are using today, President Hoover raised the highest personal income tax rate to 63% from 24% on Jan. 1, 1932. He raised many other taxes as well.

President Roosevelt then debauched the dollar with the 1933 Bank Holiday Act and his soak-the-rich tax increase on Jan. 1, 1936. He raised the highest personal income tax rate to 79% from 63% along with a whole host of other corporate and personal tax rates as well. The U.S. economy went into a double dip depression, with unemployment rates rising again to 20% in 1938. Over the course of the Great Depression, the government raised the top marginal personal income tax rate to 83% from 24%.

Is it any wonder that the Great Depression was as long and deep as it was? Whoever heard of a country taxing itself into prosperity? Not only did taxes as a share of GDP fall, but GDP fell as well. It was a double whammy. Tax receipts from the top 1% of income earners stayed flat as a share of GDP, going to 1% in 1940 from 1.1% in 1928, but at what cost?

We all know that there are lots of factors influencing tax revenues from the rich, but the number one factor has to be the statutory tax rates government tells the rich they have to pay. Not only do the direct income tax consequences of higher tax rates on those in the highest brackets lead to higher deficits, the indirect effects magnify the tax revenue losses many fold.

As a result of higher tax rates on those people in the highest tax brackets, there will be less employment, output, sales, profits and capital gains—all leading to lower payrolls and lower total tax receipts. There will also be higher unemployment, poverty and lower incomes, all of which require more government spending. It's a Catch-22.

Higher tax rates on the rich create the very poverty and unemployment that is used to justify their presence. It is a vicious cycle that well-trained economists should know to avoid.

Mr. Laffer is the chairman of Laffer Associates and co-author of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).
24530  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption on: August 02, 2010, 10:49:22 AM
Also worth noting that FOX (e.g. Hannity) uses Sharpton to provoke raitings , , , but lets take further discussion if any to the Race thread on SCH or the Media thread here on P&R.
24531  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / CIA and Google on: August 01, 2010, 06:00:47 PM
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010...ve-google-cia/

http://www.analysisintelligence.com/?p=1059
24532  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Appleseed 2 on: August 01, 2010, 05:39:58 PM
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Dailey’s frustration with the government peaked during the 1990s after the fatal conflicts at Ruby Ridge and Waco. “Uncle Sam told 76 Americans to come out of their own house, lay down their arms and spread-eagle on the ground,” he says of Waco. “Does that sound to you like the sovereignty of the individual?” At that time, growing restive, he bought more than half a million pounds of rifle stocks at an army-surplus auction. He named his new venture “Fred’s,” after his dog, and wrote indictments of the Clintons and the “New World Order” that reached 94,000 readers. As the radical right gathered steam in the ’90s, Dailey’s anger fixated on the United Nations, which he saw as a metagovernment bent on covertly undermining American sovereignty. He organized a “U.N. Day” shoot at a local gun club, painting targets United Nations blue and firing holes through a steel U.N. helmet. In 2002, Dailey wrote “Battlin’ the U.N.,” a near-future story of six riflemen who ambush a U.N. convoy rolling through Iowa. Using the accompanying targets, Dailey’s readers could practice shooting Boris, the villainous U.N. commander.

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Dailey calls all this “my young and stupid years.” The Appleseed Project appeals to a broad constituency, one whose edges blur into the N.R.A. at one end and into violent militias like the Hutaree, nine of whose members were indicted in March for conspiracy to murder, at the other end. Notices of Appleseed shoots appear regularly on militia Web sites. Dailey argues that outreach like this attracts radical anger and then moderates it. Many Appleseeders have stories like that of Rod Jackson, a former bouncer whom I met at a shoot in Fresno, Calif. After leaving the Navy, Jackson spent years as a homeless alcoholic but now works by day as a telecommunications technician and by night at a gun range. He has long been preparing for an event he read about online — Teotwawki, which stands for “the end of the world as we know it.” He stored up enough food to feed his family for 30 days and planned to relocate to a remote valley. “I was going to hide myself in a hole,” he said. “Then Fred made this comment that people who build caves are cowards. That stung.”

As his involvement with Appleseed deepened, Jackson found his focus shifting to what he could accomplish within the present system. “A lot of folks in the gun community talk about stepping up and fighting,” he said. “That’s skipping over the easy stuff for the hard stuff. The point is that we don’t need to fight now. We have another option.” That option, he said, was contacting elected representatives.

In a cramped room adjoining the warehouse, Dailey monitors the message board and plows through queries from instructors. In a recent post he acknowledged that though he once “flirted with the dark side,” there was no place for the rhetoric of deterrence within Appleseed. Statements like “we’ll soon be in a future when the shooting starts,” he wrote, are not compatible with Appleseed’s mission.

During my travels through Appleseed country, I spoke with nearly 100 cooks and riflemen and corresponded with dozens more. None seemed as close to the dark side as James Faire of Monroe, Wash., a man obsessed with reducing the space between readiness and action to the thinnest possible line. After years of practice Faire has whittled that space down to the fraction of a second that it takes him to open the snap holster on his belt, draw and level the Kimber 1911 he carries whenever outside the house, apply pressure to the hair trigger and fire a hollow-point .460-caliber round into his target, all while backpedaling at a 45-degree angle. “This is called moving off the X,” he told me. “By the time you draw on them and say, ‘Drop the weapon,’ you’re already dead.”

Faire has practiced this maneuver thousands of times. He says he came close to using it last year while trying to clear a downed tree from the road leading to his five-acre homestead in Monroe. A sheriff’s deputy drove up, lights flashing, with his own ideas about how best to clear the tree. Words were exchanged. The hands of both men drifted down toward their holsters. The way Faire tells it, the peace of Snohomish County momentarily teetered. Then the deputy got back in his car and drove away.

Deputies, Faire says, are criminals operating “under the color of law.” He refuses to vote, and the signature on his driver’s license appears with the disclaimer “all rights reserved.” Some of Faire’s views resemble those of the sovereign-citizen movement, extremists who deny the legitimacy of federal law. Faire heard about Appleseed through a Web site he administers called A Well Regulated Militia. Last year he began hosting monthly Appleseed shoots on his land, which appeared on Appleseed’s print and online schedules. In 2008, a government informant reportedly observed Andrew Steven Gray shooting an AR-15-style rifle and a pistol on Faire’s range. Gray, a 33-year-old convicted felon, is legally barred from owning any firearms. In Gray’s storage locker, according to a government complaint, federal agents found a cache of 21 guns, four silencers, two bulletproof vests and 9,000 rounds of ammunition. At his home nearby, says the complaint, were several hundred marijuana plants. Last month Gray was sentenced to four years in prison on gun and drug charges.

The complaint against Gray states that Faire’s range is known as the Militia Training Center, which “routinely holds training for individuals involved with the militia movement.” When I brought all this up to Dailey, he said Faire was “wrapping himself in the flag of Appleseed” to manage his troubles with the county, which closed his range for code violations. I asked Faire whether Dailey had given him any flack. “Privately, they’ve been very supportive,” he said. Though Faire says he obeyed Appleseed’s prohibition against talking politics during his shoots, he can still be seen explaining Appleseed’s basics on YouTube and accusing President Obama of “telling people to shut up and not talk.”

Shortly after the arrests in March of nine people thought to be members of the Hutaree militia, I e-mailed Faire and asked whether he had any contact with the group. He replied that he trained with one of the accused Hutaree in 2005, “although he showed mental instability and further association was discouraged.” Faire says the charges were “made up of whole cloth. They had the motive and means and opportunity to resist their arrest but did not. If they were guilty, they would have resisted.”

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On an overcast winter day in Monroe, Faire and I sat beside a wood stove in a classroom a few steps away from his house. Targets of kaffiyeh-clad figures armed with rocket-propelled grenades leaned against the wall. I sipped coffee as Faire split wood and unfurled his politics. “The government has quite literally become tyrannical,” he said. “It is fulfilling the principles outlined in ‘The Communist Manifesto.’ ” His seemed to have a deep urge to see himself as a revolutionary, and it was hard to imagine him at a loss for a framework that would let him do so.

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“It’s completely out of control,” he continued, “from city to state to federal to international law. All predicate their existence on plundering the individual and his rights. The only thing to do now is to organize citizens into a militia to abolish this government. They’re the supreme law of the land, the only ones who have the moral and legal authority to do it.” His voice was calm. It was as if he knew these things were true to both of us.
Faire, who is 50, has a neat mustache and moves with a martial steadiness. He often grips his belt with his right hand during conversation. It holds the holster of his 1911, the muzzle of which peeks out from beneath the waist of his black tactical jacket. The police, he said, often mistake him for an off-duty officer. He gave me a tour of his land, pointing out a ruined minivan used for sniper practice. Somewhere in the surrounding hills he once buried waterproof tubes containing clothes, provisions and six M1 Garands; he later dug them up and sold them to pay for his legal battle with the county over the code violations.

After lunch in the nearby city of Gold Bar, we returned to Monroe for a meeting at a diner with two friends that Faire met while working on the Ron Paul presidential campaign. One talked of establishing a camp where like-minded dissidents might be trained in the use of arms. The man asked for Faire’s help. Faire seemed reluctant to commit. The man said, “I told my wife 30 years ago, ‘I’m tired of being an insignificant man living in a broken culture.’ ” And yet here he was three decades later, still looking for his first recruit. Did he really want to be dangerous?

When American men talk like this, they are usually giving voice to fantasy. Only in fantasy, after all, are governments overthrown by men trained to do nothing more than shoot long-distance targets in a controlled environment. Some of these men seek out unlikely battlefields, where they can be warriors of the future, warriors of the imagination or reluctant warriors in waiting who are passing their time on the Internet. The power of a gun to take a life is not so much a threat as a talisman connecting these fantasies to the real world.

“When I hold a rifle in my hands, I can feel the choice that I’m making,” one Appleseeder, a computer programmer from Southern California, told me. “I know what I can do with this gun, but I also know I’m not going to do that. I have become death. When you have that power and that choice, you know what choice you’re going to make. When someone can be death over a quarter mile, that’s a tremendous responsibility.”

The exceptions to the rule of the responsible gun owner generate headlines and casualties. The largest threat that Appleseed poses is the possibility that some future gunmen will find their way from some dark-side message board to an Appleseed boot camp. “There’s always going to be someone who thinks the revolution is sooner rather than later,” Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center says. “Now they’re learning to be snipers. You would hope Appleseed would do some screening.”

When I asked Dailey about this, he said, “If we recruited 500 people from one of these crazy boards and 499 of them wound up agreeing with us, then what would you say?”

“I would want to know about the one who didn’t agree,” I said. “You’ve taught him how to kill with a rifle out to 500 yards.”

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“Well, the only precaution for that is not to teach the skills at all. Why even let them have the hardware, in that case?” He proposed an analogy. “What if the inmates in the asylum were stabbing each other with knives? Do you give them plastic spoons? Or do you cure the insanity?”


“But part of what you’re doing is sharpening the knives.”

“If we can cure the insanity, I think it’s a fair trade.”

On my last day in North Carolina, Dailey and I visited a Revolutionary War battlefield an hour’s drive from the warehouse. We walked through the wooded site as joggers and couples passed us on the trail. We came to a stop at two cannon replicas beside what had once been colonial lines. Dailey paraphrased what he called “the gay quote,” John Adams’s sentiment that he would study war, so his sons could study business and agriculture, so their sons could study the arts. “What a bad plan!” Dailey said. “The bad people of the world are still going to be there in three generations. So your grandson better know something about war. You can’t just have the third generation sitting around, ballet dancing, playing pianos and talking dilettante talk.”

I asked whether Appleseed was really about the decline of the American man. Dailey vehemently disagreed. To prove me wrong he stopped two young women, introduced himself and began to pitch the program. Wearing sandals and modish sunglasses, they appeared to be the sort of prospective Appleseeders who could buttress the program against the dark side.

“Pop quiz,” Dailey said. “When was the American Revolution won?”

“Yorktown is considered the final victory,” one of the women, Melissa Hogg, said. She majored in history at the University of Virginia, she said, specializing in the Revolutionary War.

“Would you believe what a founder said?” Dailey asked. “It was won before the first shot was fired, in the hearts and minds of the American people.”

“Of course,” Hogg said. “It’s a matter of ideology.”

Dailey seemed to bristle at this, hearing in Hogg’s words a disbelief in the specialness of American hearts and minds — and the suggestion that the motives behind the American Revolution were no better or worse than those of any other. Nevertheless, he gave the women Appleseed’s Web address.

As we made our way back to the parking lot, he shook his head. “You see what we’re up against?” he asked. “Imagine 300 million of those.”

a call to arms Online video of an Appleseed Project target practice in Iowa at nytimes.com/magazine.


24533  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: The Appleseed Project on: August 01, 2010, 05:39:02 PM
This is exactly the sort of subject in which POTH must be read with maximum care:
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One June morning last year, Jack Dailey drove from his home in North Carolina’s Piedmont country, through verdant, hilly farmland to a rifle range near the town of Ramseur. Eleven men and a woman had mustered there for a weeklong boot camp run by the Appleseed Project, a group Dailey started that is dedicated to teaching every American how to fire a bullet through a man-size target out to 500 yards. So far Appleseed has taught 25,000 people to shoot; 7,000 more will learn by the end of this year. Its instructors teach this skill not for the purpose of hunting or sport. They see marksmanship as fundamental to Americans’ ability to defend their liberty, whether against foreigners or the agents of a (hypothetical) tyrannical government. Appleseed frames this activity as being somewhere between a historical re-enactment and a viable last resort. I came to find out how serious they were.


Dailey, Appleseed’s founder and rhetorician in chief, is a tall man with silver hair. He wore black sneakers, a red polo shirt tucked into jeans and a red baseball cap. Sixty-six years old, he could have been a grandfather spending a leisurely morning on a public golf course if not for his unyielding expression and his voice, which is well equipped for the stirring up of men.

In the previous day’s lecture, Dailey discussed taxes — the situation of the American taxpayer, he said, compared unfavorably with the lives of slaves in ancient Egypt. Today he got down to the matter at hand: defense against overweening government. “Look at the choice those guys made,” he said, referring to the colonial-era militia. “I’ll post you 65 yards from the road. In a few hours there’s gonna be hundreds of redcoats marching down that road. Your liberty depends on you stopping ’em.”

Two lead musket balls were passed around the clubhouse, through the hands of a camouflaged Navy midshipman, two sheriff’s deputies, a farm-owning factory worker, a college professor, a pilot, a retiree and a high-school sophomore. Those who shot an “expert” score on Dailey’s qualification test would become “riflemen,” as designated by olive-green patches. For now, most of these novice shooters were referred to as “cooks.”

“When you fire that first shot, those redcoats are gonna be mad,” Dailey said. “They’re gonna come at you with those 16-inch bayonets. There’ll be three or four of ’em before you load your second shot.” He paused. Thoughts of bayonets seemed to linger in the silent room. “Not much percentage in that choice. We know now that they won. But for them? No guarantees.”

The Appleseed Project began with commentaries Dailey writes, under the byline of “Fred,” that run beside advertisements for his surplus-rifle-stock business in the magazine Shotgun News. In 2005, he organized his first Appleseed shoots in Wyoming and Texas. The combination of military-style rifle training, star-spangled rhetoric and low cost ($70 for two days; free for women, minors and military personnel) proved catching. Word of the program spread through gun culture and survivalist Web sites. The tax filings of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, the nonprofit group that oversees Appleseed, show that the group now has $334,000 in cash. The Appleseed Web site lists as many as 100 shoots a month on the outskirts of towns like Eureka, Kan., Pine Bluffs, Wyo., and Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

At the North Carolina shoot, the cooks came from Georgia, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, bearing .22-caliber Rugers and Marlins outfitted with custom sights — what Appleseed calls Liberty Training Rifles. Though they were diverse in age and class, their uniformly white skin, down-home talk and traditional values suggested a common attachment to an America that had lost its long-held claim to the cultural center. While Dailey has said Appleseed should be apolitical, the talk at this Appleseed boot camp and at several others I attended across the country over the course of a year contained pieces of a conversation that has unfolded behind the motley carnivals of the Tea Party movement: a serious deliberation on the right about the nature of the American founding and the limits of incivility. Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada who is campaigning against Harry Reid, has spoken of the possibility of “Second Amendment remedies” for Congressional action. “The nation is arming,” she told The Reno Gazette-Journal in May. “What are they arming for if it isn’t that they are so distrustful of their government? They’re afraid they’ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways. That’s why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?” Rick Barber, a Republican candidate for Congress in Alabama, has broadcast an ad in which an actor dressed as George Washington declares, “Gather your armies.”

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Firing Line

Published: July 29, 2010
 
(Page 2 of 6)



Are statements like these rhetorical flourishes or calls to arms? Determining whether this revolutionary talk constitutes a threat comes down to finding the fine line between expressing anger and inciting the angry to action, a distinction that is clear as a matter of law but less so in cultural practice. In April, on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, former President Bill Clinton sought to move this cultural line, comparing today’s antigovernment sentiment with that of the mid-’90s. Clinton argued that those who demonize the federal government could be courting another tragedy. There is, however, a rejoinder to this from the right. “The sense in the year 2010 that there’s something threatening about civilian marksmanship is a function of 1990s political correctness and guilt by association,” Nick Dranias, director of the Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute, said. “These groups are trying to take guns out of the shadows and display them proudly, in public, not as a bunch of weirdos crawling around the forest at night.”


nside the Appleseed Project, the question of where an armed citizenry should draw this line remains open. Later that week, as he sipped a Coke at a nearby McDonald’s, Dailey flirted with an answer. “If you ever have to reach for your guns, you’ve lost before you started,” he said, and then doubled back. “Now, there are probably some narrow, hypothetical exceptions to that. Like if somebody in the government said, ‘We’re taking over the country.’ You might find there’d be a spontaneous. . . . I don’t know. I don’t know what it would be. And to be perfectly honest with you, I wouldn’t want to see it.”
The first night’s campfire sounded less like sedition and more like men telling stories of times they looked death in the eye. Ron Vandiver, the boot camp’s head instructor, made death’s acquaintance while trying to repair a swaying radio tower on a stormy afternoon. Vandiver is the kind of man that Dailey likes to characterize as a “regular American,” words intended as the highest praise. A stout 42-year-old with a gadget-laden belt, he looked like a dad I might see at Home Depot. His eyes watered up when he spoke of an ancestor who fought in the Continental Army. He asked how far back each of us could feel our national history as opposed to just reading about it. “The war between the states,” one man said. “World War II,” another said. “That’s a shame,” Vandiver said. “We’re here to extend your historical horizon of empathy.”

The main zones for projecting the past onto the present were the “redcoats,” paper targets stapled to wooden poles at 25 meters. Four red silhouettes represented kills at 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards. On the third day the cooks moved to the 500-yard range, where they fired AR-15’s, M1As, and M1 Garands. In the middle of the firing line lay David and Darrell Garvey, two brothers with sun-reddened skin and graying beards. Before the housing crash, the Garveys grossed as much as $1 million a year installing floors in vacation homes. Now they were unemployed. They loaded their magazines and pulled the charging handles. “Ready on the right!” Vandiver bellowed. “Ready on the left! All ready on the firing line. . . . Fire!”

Darrell Garvey pressed his eye to the scope, trying to keep a red dot fixed on the blurry figure in the distance. He stilled his breathing and slowly squeezed the trigger. “Cease fire!” Vandiver shouted. “Unload and clear!” Darrell disarmed his rifle. He walked up the slope to his target and huffed in exasperation. A few shots hadn’t even hit the paper.

Darrell turned to Vandiver. “If, God forbid, the worst happens and this all becomes reality, would you recommend shooting out at 500 or waiting ’til they came closer in?”

“I’m too old and fat to run fast,” Vandiver answered. “So I like to give myself as big a head start as possible. On a two-way shooting range, I’m inclined to hit them out at 500.”

“Fred’s Plan to Save America,” an early photocopied manifesto, sets forth a doctrine of deterrence. Shooting is “training for the Day,” Dailey wrote. “The Day that will never come, if enough of us are ready for it.” Appleseed occasionally attracts those who believe this Day is already here. Dailey calls such fringe beliefs “the dark side.” One man at an Appleseed boot camp in Nevada announced his plan to assassinate county officials and ignite a guerrilla war. “It kinda floored me when he blurted that out,” Dailey recalls. “We fight this militia stuff all the time. If there’s the slightest truth to what he said, he was a dead man. Which means there’s probably no truth at all.” In Ramseur, Dailey’s rousing talk was followed by an introduction to the “soft war” fought with “ballots, not bullets.” Dailey did not say how the ballots should be cast, but I did meet many senior Apple­seed instructors with affinities for The Limbaugh Letter and Tea Party rallies (all of whom nonetheless obeyed the prohibition on partisan discussions during the program itself).

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Last fall, a report by the Anti-Defamation League called Appleseed part of a trend in which romanticized notions of armed resistance have “percolated beyond extremist groups and movements into the mainstream.” It stopped short of saying Appleseed was itself an extremist group, though Mark Pitcavage, the A.D.L.’s director of investigative research, characterized Appleseed as a potential gateway to militias. “I’m concerned not in the sense that I think the Appleseed Project is dangerous,” he told me. “But it does have a goal of indoctrination.”

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But the sociologist James William Gibson, whose book “Warrior Dreams” analyzed civilian paramilitary culture since the mid-’70s, says Appleseed and the broader movement around it are unlikely to pose a danger to civil society. “When a culture is in crisis, the first response is often to go back to the creation myth and start over again,” he told me. “The narrative is ‘we’re going to redo the narrative of the United States by returning to origins, to marksmanship.’ People are focusing on the idea that America’s problems can be resolved into something that can be shot. It doesn’t exactly encourage systematic reflection, but it’s a long ways from a civil war.”
The National Rifle Association declined to address the question of where Appleseed fits into the gun culture. “We are familiar with who they are and what they do,” a spokesman, Andrew Arulanandam, told me. “But given that we don’t have firsthand experience, we are reticent to say anything beyond that.” Maynard Reid Jr., the sheriff of Randolph County in North Carolina, which includes the Ramseur range, told me he hadn’t heard of the Appleseed Project, though he sometimes rents the range from Dailey for sniper training. “Jack Dailey is a straightforward guy,” he told me. “He don’t try to sugarcoat things. He’s a good man, as far as I know.”

Appleseed’s claim to mainstream legitimacy is bolstered by the group’s ties to active-duty members of the military. In March, an instructor who works as a researcher at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico arranged for Appleseed to conduct five days of training with a brigade from the Second Engineer Battalion. Appleseed also gave free on-base training to a unit from the South Carolina National Guard. I shot at Appleseed boot camps alongside Marines looking to hone their skills before deployment. They came to Appleseed out of uniform, on their own accord. The final two days of the Ramseur boot camp were led by 26-year-old John Hawes, who won a Silver Star in Afghanistan and recently taught marksmanship to soldiers at Fort Jackson. “The Army’s gotten away from the basics,” he told me.

On one of the final afternoons of boot camp, Gordon Wade, a math professor at Bowling Green State University, was cooking outside his tent. Dailey lumbered up and told Wade he had the makings of a good instructor. Wade said he wasn’t sure how many of his academic peers he could bring into the Appleseed fold. “They might think it’s some kind of militia,” he said.

The men stood in silence. Wade stirred his dinner. “A man should have a rifle,” he said. “Not just a .22. A man should have an AR-15 the same way he should have one good suit. Now, I can’t really think of a scenario where I’m going to use my AR-15 as an AR-15. I can’t quite articulate it. It sounds like I want to go out fighting zombies” — slang for the unprepared — “or feds. I don’t want to. But if it ever comes to that, God forbid, I want to be able to. But no, no. . . .” He shook his head. “That isn’t it either. It’s just something that I think I should have. Fred, why should I have an AR-15?”

Dailey stood with his arms crossed. He said: “Because they want to tell us what to do. And we don’t want them to tell us what to do.”

Dailey keeps his rifle stocks in an old Coca-Cola warehouse filled to the rafters with the remainders of war — empty bandoleers, rifle slings, rifle butt plates, rifle brushes, rifle grease. Thousands of wooden stocks stripped of their actions lay in jumbled piles. Dailey fired his first gun at age 6, a .22 aimed at a tree stump. He pulled the trigger; his father held the stock. His first rifle was a Japanese Model 99, a present from his mother for his 19th birthday. The physical fact of the gun led him to consider what action it might have seen. “The joy of owning these things is tough to explain,” he says. “Either you feel it or you don’t.” In the Army R.O.T.C. at North Carolina State University, he learned to fire and strip an M1 Garand. Academic deferments kept him out of Vietnam. In 1969, he took a bus to Washington to march against the war. “I thought this was a serious thing,” he says. “Everyone else was there to party.” He gave up his activist stirrings for law school, married, graduated and began rehabbing apartment buildings in Chicago. He did well enough to retire at 42, but the experience eroded his idealism. “A landlord is like a cop or a bartender,” he says. “You get to see people as they really are.” His politics moved toward “the iron rule of life: everyone wants to be first in line to eat and last in line to die.” The economic malaise of the late 1970s seemed to confirm this pessimism. He sought comfort in survivalist magazines and stockpiled rifles and canned food. In the mid-1980s, he sold off his properties and moved with his wife back to North Carolina.

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24534  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prudent Bear on: July 31, 2010, 01:36:29 PM
 

Quantitative Easing Two:
Not even a week had passed since ECB President Trichet’s article, “Stimulate No More – It Is Now Time to Tighten,” before Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard thrusts himself into the debate with his paper, “Seven Faces of ‘The Peril.’”

Dr. Bullard’s concluding sentences:  “To avoid [the Japanese] outcome for the U.S., policymakers can react differently to negative shocks going forward. Under current policy in the U.S., the reaction to a negative shock is perceived to be a promise to stay low for longer, which may be counterproductive because it may encourage a permanent, low nominal interest rate outcome. A better policy response to a negative shock is to expand the quantitative easing program through the purchase of Treasury securities.”

The New York Times (Sewell Chan) had a reasonable spin on Bullard’s piece:  “A subtle but significant shift appears to be occurring within the Federal Reserve over the course of monetary policy amid increasing signs that the economic recovery is weakening.  … James Bullard, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, warned that the Fed’s current policies were putting the American economy at risk of becoming ‘enmeshed in a Japanese-style deflationary outcome within the next several years.’  The warning by Mr. Bullard… comes days after Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman, said the central bank was prepared to do more to stimulate the economy if needed…”

Reading Dr. Bullard’s paper - and listening carefully to his comments – recalls Dr. Bernanke’s historic speeches back in late-2002:  “Asset-Price ‘Bubbles’ and Monetary Policy”; “On Milton Friedman’s Ninetieth Birthday”; and “Deflation:  Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn’t Happen Here.”  Dr. Bernanke fashioned the backdrop – erudite academic justification for aggressive “activist” monetary management - and today the Federal Reserve appears poised to embark only farther into perilous uncharted waters.  Last week, I presumed that Mr. Trichet’s stark warning against further stimulus was in response to market clamoring for additional quantitative easing from the Fed.  It would now appear his comments may have been directed squarely at our central bank.

“The Peril” in Dr. Bullard’s title is in reference to a 2001 academic article “The Perils of Taylor Rules.”  In simple terms, many accept the thesis that there is potential “peril” confronting a monetary management regime at the point when policymakers have lowered rates to near zero – yet the inflation rate remains stuck in negative territory (“deflation”).  Japan is used as a contemporary example of how policymakers failed to act convincingly to ensure operators throughout the markets and real economy understood that deflationary pressures would not be tolerated.

From Bullard:  “The policymaker is completely committed to interest rate adjustment as the main tool of monetary policy, even long after it ceases to make sense (long after policy becomes passive), creating a second steady state for the economy. Many of the responses to this situation described below attempt to remedy this situation by recommending a switch to some other policy in cases when inflation is far below target. The regime switch required has to be sharp and credible. Policymakers have to commit to the new policy and the private sector has to believe the policymaker.”

Ten-year Treasury yields dropped to 2.92% today.  Benchmark MBS yields sank 15 bps in two sessions to 3.49%.  The markets are taking Dr. Bullard’s talk of a “sharp and credible” regime switch – Quantitative Easing Two – seriously.  The dollar dropped another 1.1% this week and the CRB Commodities index jumped 2.9 %.  The market backdrop is increasingly reminiscent of the summer of 2007.  The initial ’07 eruption in subprime incited market weakness and volatility, an aggressive Federal Reserve response, a weak dollar and quite a run for commodities markets.

Back in 2002, I thought (and wrote as much) Dr. Bernanke’s monetary views were radical and dangerous.  He burst onto the scene as the right guy at the right time to lead an epic battle against the scourge of deflation.  I view the period 2001 through 2006 as a historic period of faulty analysis and failed monetary management.  In short, zealous policy measures were implemented from a flawed analytical framework.  While fighting so-called deflation risk, our central bank accommodated a perilous Bubble throughout mortgage and Wall Street finance.  The Fed’s “activist” approach was an unmitigated disaster.  Dr. Bullard’s paper addresses this period from an opposing perspective:  “2003-2004… This period was the last time the FOMC worried about a possible bout of deflation.”

From Bullard:  “The Thornton [St. Louis Fed economist] analysis emphasizes how the FOMC communicated during this period, and how the market expectations of the longer-term inflation rate responded to the communications. At the time, some measures of inflation were hovering close to one percent, similar to the most recent readings for core inflation in 2010. At its May 2003 meeting, the Committee included the following press release language: .... ‘the probability of an unwelcome substantial fall in inflation, though minor, exceeds that of a pickup in inflation from its already low level.’ At several subsequent 2003 meetings the FOMC stated that ‘…the risk of inflation becoming undesirably low is likely to be the predominant concern for the foreseeable future.”

During the three-year period ’02-’04, benchmark MBS yields averaged 5.22%, down significantly from the 7.16% average from 2000-’01.  The Fed was “successful” in jawboning rates lower, in spite of the unprecedented surge in demand for mortgage borrowings.  “Activist” monetary policymaking circumvented market forces, allowing a huge increase in the demand for mortgage Credit to be satisfied at historically low market yields. 

Well, you either believe that the market forces of supply and demand should be left to determine the price (market yield) of finance - or you don’t.  And you either appreciate that the price of finance plays a fundamental role in the effective allocation of financial and real resources in a Capitalistic system – or you disregard this critical dynamic at the system's peril.  Inarguably, Federal Reserve rate policy and communications strategy were instrumental in distorting market prices (MBS, real estate, stocks, etc.) and perceptions of risk and, in the process, fomenting the great mortgage/Wall Street finance Bubble.

Focusing instead on the general price level, or “inflation,” Dr. Bullard comes to a very different conclusion with respect to policy performance during this crucial period:  “In the event, all worked out well, at least with respect to avoiding the un-intended steady state. Inflation did pick up, the policy rate was increased, and the threat of a Japanese-style deflationary outcome was forgotten, at least temporarily. Was this a brilliant maneuver, or did the economic news simply support higher inflation expectations during this period?”

Regular readers know that I use the terms “Keynesian” and “inflationism” interchangeably.  Inflationism has been an influential concept for centuries; Keynes just created the most sophisticated and alluring conceptual framework.  I argued against the Keynesians earlier in the decade.  The critical flaw in their theoretical construct is that the Federal Reserve somehow controls “THE” general price level.  This is a dangerous myth perpetuated by those committed to activist monetary management.

The Keynesians take Credit for thwarting the deflationary forces from earlier this decade.  After declining to about a 1% y-o-y rate during the first half of 2002, inflation was a “safer” 4% or so by 2006.  This, it was said, provided policymakers the latitude they required to ensure the U.S. did not succumb to the Japanese predicament.  In the process, total U.S. mortgage Credit almost doubled in just six years.  The aggregate of consumer prices may have been reasonably tame, but asset prices and economic maladjustment were not.  The Fed used mortgage Credit to reflate the system and, not surprisingly, we now face a much worse predicament.

The problem with inflationism has always been that once it gets ingrained within the system – in the Credit system, the real economy, within market perceptions, expectations and asset prices – there’s just no turning back.  The more protracted the inflationary Credit boom – and the more problematic the associated Bubbles – the more unpalatably painful the bust is viewed in the minds of politicians and central bankers.  Historically, it often became a case of “just one more bout of money printing to get us over the hump.”  Just get through the pressing crisis and then it will be time to find monetary religion. 

It is the nature of protracted Credit Bubbles that devastating busts are held at bay only through increasingly expansive monetary stimulus.  Invariably, this corrosive process destroys the soundness of system debt and the underlying currency.  Too often, a crisis of confidence in private debt incites a dangerous cycle of public Credit (“money”) inflation.  Commenting this morning on CNBC, Dr. Bullard stated, “In monetary policy, you can never say you’re done.”  This is precisely the nature of inflationism.

Dr. Bullard makes passing mention of Bubble risk:  “The FOMC’s near-zero interest rate policy and the associated ‘extended period’ language has caused many to worry that the Committee is fostering the creation of new, bubble-like phenomena in the economy which will eventually prove to be counterproductive.  One antidote to this worry may be to increase the policy rate somewhat, while still keeping the rate at a historically low level, and then to pause at that level.”

When I read (and listen) to such comments from our leading central bankers, I can only scratch my head and ponder the degree to which they appreciate financial and economic history – including recent financial crises.  Dr. Bullard’s paper suggests that the Japanese predicament of long-term substandard growth is the worst-case scenario for the U.S. economy.  It is more likely the best-case.

And I find myself increasingly frustrated by the ongoing “inflation vs. deflation debate.”  With today’s low level of consumer price inflation, those arguing that deflationary forces are the paramount systemic risk now dominate policy dialogue.  Most tend to be inflationists.  Most argue for additional stimulus and see little risk in such activist policymaking. 

I see risks altogether differently.  We are in the late-phase of a multi-decade historic Credit Bubble.  The greatest risk at this point is that massive issuance of non-productive governmental debt foments a crisis of confidence at the very heart of our monetary system.  The top priority must be to ensure that such a devastating outcome is avoided – and at significant unavoidable cost.  It is imperative that we as a nation come to the recognition that real financial and economic pain must be endured to protect the long-term viability of our monetary system.  The inflation rate is not the key issue.  And efforts to try to inflate our way out of structural debt problems are a lost cause.  We must instead move forcefully to rein in our deficits and avoid further debt monetization in order to protect the soundness of our money and Credit - or else risk a financial crash. 

Most regrettably, Washington policymaking (fiscal and monetary) is on a trajectory that will inevitably destroy the creditworthiness of our nation’s vast liabilities. With ominous parallels to the mortgage/Wall Street finance Bubble, Federal Reserve policies have fostered Bubble dynamics throughout our Treasury, agency and debt markets, more generally.  Instead of market dynamics working to discipline Washington’s profligate debt expansion, Federal Reserve interventions ensure that a distorted marketplace again accommodates perilous Credit excess.  Our central bankers should heed Mr. Trichet’s warning.  Additional quantitative ease will only fuel the Bubble and risk calamity.
 
24535  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: some German muslims going rad on: July 31, 2010, 10:00:25 AM
As Some Young Muslims Turn to Radicalism, Concern Grows
By SOUAD MEKHENNET
Published: July 30, 2010

 
FRANKFURT — Before Abi left her parents’ house in northern Germany last year, she asked her father, “Daddy, what can I bring you from my journey?” He looked up from his book and answered, “Some perfumed oil.” “Will do,” she said, hugging him goodbye.

Enlarge This Image: A video still from a media affiliate of the Islamic Jihad Union and German Taliban Mujahedeen, is said to show a jihadist practicing his shooting skills.

He is still waiting, more than a year later, for her to return.

Abi, now 23, and her husband never made the trip they said they had planned to Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca and Medina. Instead they became part of a growing number of young Muslims from Germany and other European countries who travel to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, eventually ending up in the camps of groups affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

One German man, Eric Breininger, was later reported killed in a battle with Pakistani troops.

A Turkish-language Web site announced that in recent days nine foreign fighters were killed as they traveled to carry out operations with the Taliban. Two of them were identified as Germans, from Bonn and Berlin. Others have been arrested on a variety of charges. In one case, several people were convicted of planning attacks against American military facilities in Germany.

Intelligence officials are concerned that the young people, most in their 20s, will be used by the militants for propaganda purposes or trained to take up arms. They also worry that some will slip back into Germany to recruit others or to join sleeper cells and ultimately commit acts of terrorism.

“This is a very dangerous situation and German security services are very nervous about it,” said Guido Steinberg, terrorism expert of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. “Al Qaeda and other organizations have put Germany on their target priority list as one of the top places.”

Security officials believe that the number of young Germans who make the trip is relatively small, perhaps fewer than 200 since the early 1990s. But they also believe the number is growing, inspired in part by German-language videos on the Internet, including some made by a group called German Taliban Mujahedeen, which promise a happy life with others committed to Shariah law.

It is difficult to pin down an exact figure because most of those headed for the border regions first leave Germany by car, to elude airport security checks; many go to Turkey and then illegally into Iran, where they meet smugglers who take them to their destination.

Security officials are also troubled because it appears that whole families are now making the move, after selling all their possessions and taking their savings from the bank.

A man who helps smuggle foreigners into the region offered an explanation for the need for cash. In the past, said the man, Abu Yahia, who is from Waziristan, the militant groups once had enough money to support those who joined them. Now, he said, with all the fighting going on, the newcomers are asked to “bring enough money so they can support the groups and themselves.”

The parents of Abi — her mother is German and her father is from a West African country — are appalled by their daughter’s transformation from a Westernized dental student to a radicalized Muslim. (Fearing harassment, the parents consented to be interviewed only if their names were not disclosed. Abi is a shortened form of their daughter’s real name.)

The changes came slowly, they say, after Abi fell in love with a young Iranian man, who grew up in Germany. After marrying in a mosque in 2008 — a shock to her father, though he is Muslim — the young couple changed their behavior and their dress. He converted from Shiism, started to follow a radical Sunni form of Islam and grew his beard; she started wearing head scarves and cut off contact with friends. “My husband told her that this was not what Islam was teaching, to stop friendships, but she would not listen,” Abi’s mother said.

At the beginning of March last year, Abi, her husband and three others left their homes in Germany and ultimately made their way to the Pakistani border region of Waziristan. At the beginning Abi told her parents through e-mail that she and her husband wanted to live in an Islamic society, though her husband later sent signals to his parents that he wanted to return to Germany. But then he appeared in a propaganda video with a gun in his hand. “I knew then, that it would be very tough for them to return,” Abi’s mother said.

Security officials, as well as the parents of Abi, her husband and other parents of young people who have gone to the Pakistani border region, hope to learn more about their situation from Rami Makanesi, a 25-year-old German national of Syrian descent, who was recently arrested by Pakistani officials while in the tribal district of North Waziristan.

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Since his arrest Mr. Makanesi has been in the custody of Pakistan’s main spy service, the ISI. According to a senior ISI official, Mr. Makanesi told Pakistani investigators that he was a member of Al Qaeda and had trained suicide bombers for them in Waziristan. “He did not leave the impression that he was someone who had no idea what he was doing there,” said the ISI official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly about the case.

Mr. Makanesi also spoke about dozens of Qaeda-recruited Europeans fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “He spoke about six other German men who had been in the same region with him,” the official said.

“There are connections between the circles from Hamburg to circles in Berlin, Bonn and Frankfurt,” said a senior German intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the case. “It is very possible that Mr. Makanesi has met some people from Germany who traveled from other cities as well.”

One of the families desperate for some information is that of Thomas, a 24-year-old convert to Islam who has grown more observant over the past two years. The family grew alarmed when Thomas, now using the name Haroun, and his wife began talking about moving to a place where they could practice their faith more completely.

“We went to the police and intelligence service and asked for help, because we noticed how they had changed,” his mother said. “We’ve cried for help.” But the authorities had no legal basis to intervene.

Last September, he and his wife told his parents that they were leaving Berlin for a trip to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. Instead, they made their way to Waziristan.

At the beginning, Thomas sent e-mails to his parents, telling them the living conditions were tough. Last December, he wrote that he didn’t know if he would see the next summer.

“Since then no message, no idea if he is still alive or dead, no certainty, which is making it very complicated,” his mother said.

German security officials say that they believe Thomas went through military training in Waziristan. “We have indications that he has appeared in one propaganda video, but with his face covered,” one official said.

The parents of Abi and Thomas still hope that their children will return to Germany. But security officials say that in nearly all cases those who return continue to associate with more militant Muslims.

Abi’s mother says the signals that she is getting from her daughter about a return are not very hopeful.

Abi has told her mother that Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan are oppressed and need help. That reaction is typical for her daughter, who always wanted to help people, Abi’s mother said, adding, “I was always proud of her for this.”

Then tears filled her eyes, as she said: “My husband and I became very weak because of what she has done, and I would like to ask her, ‘Doesn’t the Koran say you should never lie to your parents and have to honor them?’ ”
24536  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Ground Zero mosque on: July 31, 2010, 09:42:51 AM
An influential Jewish organization on Friday announced its opposition to a proposed Islamic center and mosque two blocks north of ground zero in Lower Manhattan, intensifying a fierce national debate about the limits of religious freedom and the meaning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


The decision by the group, the Anti-Defamation League, touched off angry reactions from a range of religious groups, which argued that the country would show its tolerance and values by welcoming the center near the site where radical Muslims killed about 2,750 people.

But the unexpected move by the ADL, a mainstream group that has denounced what it saw as bigoted attacks on plans for the Muslim center, could well be a turning point in the battle over the project.

In New York, where ground zero has slowly blended back into the fabric of the city, government officials appear poised to approve plans for the sprawling complex, which would have as many as 15 stories and would house a prayer space, a performing arts center, a pool and a restaurant.

But around the country opposition is mounting, fueled in part by Republican leaders and conservative pundits. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, has urged “peace-seeking Muslims” to reject the center, branding it an “unnecessary provocation.” A Republican political action committee has produced a television commercial assailing the proposal. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has decried it in speeches.

The complex’s rapid evolution from a local zoning dispute into a national referendum highlights the intense and unsettled emotions that still surround the World Trade Center site nine years after the attacks.

To many New Yorkers, especially in Manhattan, it is a construction zone, passed during the daily commute or glimpsed through office windows. To some outside of the city, though, it stands as a hallowed battlefield that must be shielded and memorialized.

Those who are fighting the project argue that building a house of Muslim worship so close to ground zero is at best an affront to the families of those who died there and at worst an act of aggression that would, they say, mark the place where radical Islam achieved a blow against the United States.

“The World Trade Center is the largest loss of American life on our soil since the Civil War,” Mr. Gingrich said. “And we have not rebuilt it, which drives people crazy. And in that setting, we are told, why don’t we have a 13-story mosque and community center?”

He added: “The average American just thinks this is a political statement. It’s not about religion, and is clearly an aggressive act that is offensive.”

Several family members of victims at the World Trade Center have weighed in against the plan, saying it would desecrate what amounts to a graveyard. “When I look over there and see a mosque, it’s going to hurt,” C. Lee Hanson, whose son, Peter, was killed in the attacks, said at a recent public hearing. “Build it someplace else.”

Those who support it seem mystified and flustered by the heated opposition. They contend that the project, with an estimated cost of $100 million, is intended to span the divide between Muslim and non-Muslim, not widen it.

Oz Sultan, the programming director for the center, said the complex was based on Jewish community centers and Y.M.C.A.’s in Manhattan. It is to have a board composed of Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders and is intended to create a national model of moderate Islam.

“We are looking to build bridges between faiths,” Mr. Sultan said in an interview.

City officials, particularly Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, have forcefully defended the project on the grounds of religious freedom, saying that government has no place dictating where a house of worship is located. The local community board has given overwhelming backing to the project, and the city’s landmarks commission is expected to do the same on Tuesday.

“What is great about America, and particularly New York, is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us?” Mr. Bloomberg asked recently.

“Democracy is stronger than this,” he added. “And for us to just say no is just, I think — not appropriate is a nice way to phrase it.”

Still, the arguments against the Muslim center appear to be resonating. Polling shows that a majority of Americans oppose building it near ground zero.

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Resistance is particularly strong among some national Republican leaders. In stump speeches, Twitter messages and op-ed articles, they have turned angry denunciations of the plan into a political rallying cry that they say has surprising potency.


The two major Republican candidates for governor of New York, Rick A. Lazio and Carl Paladino, are making it a central issue in their campaigns, attacking the state’s attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, who is also the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, for not aggressively investigating the project’s finances..

In North Carolina, Ilario Pantano, a former Marine and a Republican candidate for Congress, has also campaigned on the issue, and says it is stirring voters in his rural district, some 600 miles away from ground zero.

A few days ago, at a roadside pizza shop in the small town of Salemburg, he attacked the proposal before an enthusiastic crowd of hog farmers and military veterans.

“Uniformly, there was disgust and disdain in the room for the idea,” Mr. Pantano said.

The issue was wrenching for the Anti-Defamation League, which in the past has spoken out against anti-Islamic sentiment. But its national director, Abraham H. Foxman, said in an interview on Friday that the organization came to the conclusion that the location was offensive to families of victims of Sept. 11, and he suggested that the center’s backers should look for a site “a mile away.”

“It’s the wrong place,” Mr. Foxman said. “Find another place.”

Asked why the opposition of the families was so pivotal in the decision, Mr. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, said they were entitled to their emotions.

“Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” he said. Referring to the loved ones of Sept. 11 victims, he said, “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.”

The Anti-Defamation League’s statement drew criticism almost immediately.

“The ADL should be ashamed of itself,” said Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, which promotes interethnic and interfaith dialogue. Speaking of the imam behind the proposed center, Feisal Abdul Rauf, he said, “Here, we ask the moderate leaders of the Muslim community to step forward, and when one of them does, he is treated with suspicion.”

C. Welton Gaddy, the president of the Interfaith Alliance, a Washington group that emphasizes religious freedom, called the decision “disappointing,” and said he read about it “with a great deal of sorrow.”

On Friday, Mr. Sultan, the programming director for the proposed Muslim center, expressed surprise and sadness at the news. Told of Mr. Foxman’s remarks about the families of Sept. 11 victims, he said, “That response is just not well thought out.” He said that Muslims had also died on Sept. 11, either because they worked in the twin towers, or responded to the scene.

“The ADL has always been antibigotry,” he said. “This just does not seem consistent with their message.”
24537  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Guro Crafty at Team Quest, Temecula July 24 on: July 30, 2010, 11:01:54 PM
Whoops! I see I forgot to post an AAR.  In short, it was a fine time and TQ and DBMA are discussing an ongoing relationship.
24538  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Registered Fighters for the Sept 2010 Gathering on: July 30, 2010, 06:30:55 PM
Ian Cooke
Steve Lawson
Kaju Dog (Dean Webster)
Iron Dog (Steve Shelburn)
Peter Adrada
Padraig Mara
Guide Dog (Brian Stoops)
Rick Laue

24539  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 30, 2010, 05:49:14 PM
Alan Reynolds is awesome cool
24540  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post on Bolton's decision on: July 30, 2010, 01:51:45 PM
The Foundation
"Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, to our established rules. That these rules shall be as equal as prudential considerations will admit, will certainly be the aim of our legislatures, general and particular." --Thomas Jefferson


Government & Politics
Judge Blocks Part of Arizona's Immigration Law

Trash left along the border by illegal aliensClinton-appointed District Court Judge Susan Bolton blocked most of Arizona's immigration law this week, ruling that it would "impermissibly burden federal resources." In other words, enforcing federal law is a violation of federal law. The preliminary injunction, she said, would merely preserve the status quo and be less harmful to immigrants than allowing the law to be enforced in full. The next step for Arizona is an appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Bolton said that the Justice Department's suit was "likely to succeed on the merits."

Bolton blocked the primary provisions of the law -- including those requiring state law enforcement officials to check immigration status when other legitimate contact occurs, as well as the requirement that foreigners carry their papers at all times (federal law already requires this). On the other hand, 12 provisions, including some on human smuggling and transporting illegals, were left intact. All told, though, her ruling went even further than the DoJ had hoped.

The Department of Homeland Security is bound by federal law to "respond to an inquiry by a federal, state, or local government agency, seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status ... for any purpose authorized by law, by providing the requested verification or status information." Yet Bolton wrote, "An increase in the number of requests for determinations of immigration ... will divert resources from the federal government's other responsibilities and priorities." Or as National Review put it, "she accepts Justice's implicit argument that it's not the letter of the federal law that matters, but what parts of the law the executive decides to enforce."

National Review concludes:

The bottom line is that Arizona wants to enforce the law against illegal aliens. It wants them to be cognizant of the fact that the state is serious about the law, and therefore to conclude that it's best to leave or not come in the first place. Arizona did not deem these people illegal aliens. The federal government did, in laws passed by Congress and signed by the president of the United States. Arizona thinks those laws mean something. If the Justice Department's suit -- and Judge Bolton's line of argument -- prevails, then we'll know that they don't. The real law of the land will be our current, de facto amnesty, imposed by executive whim.
For the administration, the bottom line isn't the law, but getting voters from the Hispanic bloc. With the help of their Leftmedia minions, they are succeeding. Meanwhile, America's immigration system remains broken and in desperate need of repair -- preferably by those who value and uphold the Rule of Law.

24541  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 29, 2010, 04:02:28 PM
There has been some very poor behavior on the part of some Palestinian Christians enabling intifada and murder of civilians.  Pyschologically predicatably human I would say-- natural to look to find a way to bond with fellow Arabs.
24542  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 29, 2010, 04:00:32 PM
I voted for 187 and would do so again. 

187 also led some of the Mexican-Americans who voted Republican to perceive the Reps as anti-Latino and now they vote Dem.  It also got some of the non-voting MAs to bother to vote, and they now vote Dem.  Also, Latino citizens who came of age to vote now vote Dem in larger % than would otherwise have been the case.  Given the underlying demographics, this last category is not to be underestimated and will become increasingly Democratic. 

The net result here in CA is that the Rep party is locked in to a declining demographic and we are headed towards becoming like the northeast of the US we Rep victories are a great rarity and the Reps that do win are RINOs e.g. Snowe of Maine.

One reason for the perception of anti Mex/Latino bias is comments like those about "scal(ing) back welfare and transfer payments".  I am NOT NOT NOT suggesting actual bias on your part.  I am saying that such comments are PERCEIVED as such.  The preferred story in the Mex-Amer population, and one with considerable basis in reality, is of hard working people doing the work that Americans are unwilling to do, and sending the money home to support their families.  Suggestions that they are bums on welfare go over very poorly.

IMHO the Reps must align with the natural family values and entrepeneurial spirit of this population.
24543  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Patriot Post: Taxes do not create jobs on: July 29, 2010, 11:37:17 AM
Alexander's Essay – July 29, 2010

Taxes Do NOT Create Jobs
Recovery Rhetoric v. Reality
"Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through so many new hands." --Thomas Jefferson

Funded by whom?Fact: Despite all of the claims by Barack Hussein Obama and his cadre of Socialists about "creating or saving" jobs through their so-called "stimulus plan," their taxing revenue out of the private sector (from this and future generations) does NOT "stimulate" private sector job growth -- quite the contrary. (Nor is there any expressed authority in our Constitution for such redistribution of wealth -- but who pays attention to that venerable old parchment?)

Late last Friday, after the White House press corpse had departed for weekend resorts, Obama released his administration's "Mid-Session Budget Review," which analyzed the results of his effort to "fundamentally transform the United States of America" with his "stimulus" plan. From almost any vantage point, the report is tantamount to an admission of failure, but Obama's rhetorical smokescreen continues to imply otherwise.

That plan, officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act but more accurately known as the American Socialization and Redistribution Act, is Obama's ruse to confiscate from taxpayers -- and borrow primarily from the Red Chinese -- almost a trillion dollars, then redistribute it to his constituents through government-controlled conduits.

As George Bernard Shaw wrote, "A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul."

The deficit created by Obama's plan this year alone is projected to be $1.471 trillion. That's the largest deficit in our nation's history and the largest as a percentage of U.S. economic output since World War II. According to Heritage Foundation analyst Brian Riedl, "Before the recession, federal spending totaled $24,000 per U.S. household. President Obama would hike it to $36,000 per household by 2020 -- an inflation-adjusted $12,000-per-household expansion of government."

Notably, if federal spending were reduced to the per-household rates under Ronald Reagan, we'd have a balanced budget by 2012 without any tax hikes. Of course, that would require cutting government spending, and such a notion is antithetical to the Socialists in control of the U.S. government. That might explain why unemployment in Washington, DC, is just 3 percent.

Of such debt, Thomas Jefferson observed, "We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. ... I place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared. ... The fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follow that, and in its turn wretchedness and oppression."

There is much to be feared because Obama's plan, if unaltered, will break the back of free enterprise and the consequence will, most assuredly, be "wretchedness and oppression."

Obama claims that his stimulus package "creates or saves jobs." Setting aside the utter ridiculousness of this made-up metric and the mainstream media's willingness to let him trot it out, Obama's "stimulus" does nothing more than take income from the private sector and use it to grow government. It is not about job creation but about job displacement. It's about embezzling funds from the private sector to underwrite jobs that a small cadre of central government planners determines are necessary to further centralize their power and control over the economy.

Memo to Obama, et al.: Private sector job creation occurs when private enterprises have sufficient capital to improve and expand their operations in order to meet growing demand in a competitive, healthy economy. The job creation that occurs when the private sector is able to compete in a free market unfettered by excessive government interference (taxation and regulation) is the most stable and secure type of job growth.

Of course, taxes are necessary to fund some government jobs -- most notably those actually authorized by our Constitution, such as in national defense.

However, the current debate is not even centered on tax reductions, but merely holding the line on taxes now. When the current Bush-era tax rate limits expire on 1 January 2011, Obama will, without a single vote in Congress, usher in the largest tax increases in the history of our Republic, even if Congress extends breaks for the lower brackets. This business of sunsetting tax limits is a charade -- cut taxes and then Congress must vote to increase taxes. As it is, the Socialists look heroic for extending tax breaks on all but the "rich."

Here is the breakdown:

The 10% bracket rises to 15%
The 25% bracket rises to 28%
The 28% bracket rises to 31%
The 33% bracket rises to 36%
The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

The "marriage penalty" and "death tax" will also return, and for more than half of Americans who have substantial savings and investments, the capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent to 20 percent and the dividends tax will rise from 15 percent to 39.6 percent.

This is what I know for certain, firsthand, as a small business owner: If my taxes were lower, I would have more capital to provide salary and wage increases, hire more employees and purchase more equipment to grow our business.

Republicans claim that those hit hardest by Obama's tax increases will be small business owners. But make no mistake: Those hit hardest by Obama's tax increases will not be the owners of small businesses. Instead, they will be the employees of small businesses -- those who like to be employed, those who employ others to provide services and produce equipment for small businesses, those who maintain the physical plants of small businesses, etc.

As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) lectured uber-Leftist Chris Matthews recently, more than "75 percent of those people who pay that [highest] tax rate are small businesses who file as individuals, not corporations."

I know this, because I'm one of them.

If you're among those who've been led to believe that the current U.S. tax code is "fair" because it's "progressive" (that is, it seizes a much greater percentage of capital from those who create wealth and private sector jobs), I would argue that, from the perspective of those in need of jobs, the current tax system is regressive, as it reduces employment opportunity. When was the last time you were offered a career job by a poor person?

Rejecting the oppression of such taxes, Jefferson wrote, "To take from one, because it is thought his own industry ... has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who ... have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it."

In fact, the current job outlook for the unemployed has grown much worse under Obama. There are now five Americans seeking a job for every one job opening.

Of course, socialists decry any effort to replace their "tax-borrow-and-spend" Keynesian mantra with a simple flat or national sales tax. Aside from saving Americans billions of hours of tax-time toil, this would spread the burden of the cost of government over a greater share of American taxpayers.

Let me reiterate: Taxes do not "save or create" private sector jobs, but merely redistribute wealth from the most productive part of the economy (the private sector) to the least productive (the government). That truth, however, will not stop Obama's unmitigated assault on free enterprise. He and his administration will continue to use two tactics to argue for tax increases and more government growth.

First, Obama is the consummate blame-shifter, rarely talking about the economy without mentioning that he "inherited this mess" from the previous administration. In truth, the "Bush deficits" are primarily the result of two events. One was the devastating effect of the Jihadi 9/11 attack on our nation, which wounded the economy, lowered tax revenues, and greatly increased the cost of defending our nation. The other was the cascading crisis of confidence which began with central government meddling in the housing markets and ended in a near collapse of our economy.

So much for the once noble Democrat Party of men like Harry "The Buck Stops Here" Truman.

Second, once Obama dismisses the current fiasco as the result of "failed policies of the past," he trots out the old classist rhetoric upon which every failed socialist regime has been built: the Politics of Disparity.

But don't take my word for it. Here's a sampling of recent fodder from the ObamaPrompter: "hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest ... hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans ... a massive deficit ... neglected to pay for two tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans ... tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans ... we're going to make sure that the wealthiest Americans pay ... more effective in stimulating recovery than tax breaks for the very wealthiest ... the wealthiest 1 percent of households ... tax breaks to the wealthiest few that make the rich richer and the deficit even larger ... save billions of dollars by rolling back tax cuts for the wealthiest ... tax breaks that make the rich even richer ... economy that was working pretty well for the wealthiest Americans ... programs would be funded by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans ... instead of giving all the tax breaks to the wealthiest few ... massive tax cuts for the richest Americans ... the policies were, you cut taxes for the richest people who don't need tax cuts," ad nauseam.

Obama has cleverly twisted the tax lexicon to the point where he now calls tax increases "investments" and claims that tax cuts "cost the government."

Meanwhile, Obama's favorite lap dog, Joe Biden, was out shoring up support for more taxing and spending. "Americans deserve a government that actually works, a government that people can trust; government that people can rely on; and a government that actually gets things done effectively, efficiently, without waste, without fraud, without abuse," he boasted. "We're trying to build a government that delivers much more bang for the buck than it ever has before. So far, we've spent $600 billion..."

What Americans deserve is a lot less government and a lot more free enterprise capacity to grow our economy. That capacity is central to liberty.

Best case scenario, it will take several election cycles before we have enough conservative members of Congress to replace the U.S. tax code with an equitable system that promotes economic growth. In the interim, I humbly submit the Alexander stimulus plan: Cut taxes dramatically for all Americans, make equal cuts in discretionary government spending anywhere and everywhere, and reduce non-discretionary spending by altering the terms of social programs.

I can assure you that if a trillion dollars had been pumped into the economy in the form of tax and regulatory relief, we'd be well down the road to recovery.

As Jefferson put it, "Excessive taxation ... will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election."

One might only hope a majority of the electorate has the capacity for such reason and reflection.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post
24544  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 29, 2010, 10:06:30 AM
"Admitted market forces aren't doing a good job right now,"

I would quibble with this and say that the problem now is the severely legally diminished role of market forces.
24545  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: July 29, 2010, 10:02:46 AM
" I'll say that this is far from over and that Holder and Obama are soon to have their arrogant asses handed to them by the little Governor from AZ"

Maybe with SCOTUS, but by the time it gets in front of SCOTUS it may well be in time to help His Glibness fire up the Hispanic vote.   IMHO so far the Reps are not doing what needs to be done to prevent this from being a replay of CA's Prop 187.    187 won, and now the Reps are toast with the Mexican-American vote in CA and as such are toast period.
24546  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB on PPV TV on: July 29, 2010, 01:56:08 AM
It looks like the first show will be based upon the last Gathering at the RAW Gym:  Fall 2005.
24547  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Newt on Ground Zero Mosque on: July 29, 2010, 01:44:08 AM
http://bigpeace.com/fgaffney/2010/07/28/newt-takes-on-shariah-and-ground-zero-mosque/
24548  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 29, 2010, 01:11:20 AM
DF Cpl. Elinor Joseph was born in Gush Halav in the Galilee to an Arab Christian family. Her father served as a paratrooper in the IDF. She identifies herself as “Arab, Christian, and Israeli.”


(Foto:  She is quite foxy)


“I was born here. The people I love live here – my parents, my friends. This is a Jewish state? True. But it’s also my country. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.  I believe that everyone should enlist. You live here? Go defend your country. So what if I’m Arab?”

“Look at the beret,” says Elinor, smiling from ear to ear, showing off the bright green beret that she earned after completing the trek which is part of her combat training in the Karakal Battalion. Her excitement is accompanied by a new historical precedent, since Elinor is the first Arab female combat soldier in IDF history.

Cpl. Elinor Joseph was born and raised in an integrated neighborhood of Jews and Arabs in Haifa, but attended a school in which all her classmates were Arab. Despite the fact that she would always wear her father’s IDF dog-tag around her neck from when he served in the Paratrooper’s Unit, she never thought she would enlist. “I wanted to go abroad to study medicine and never come back,” she said. To her father it was clear that she would enlist in the IDF, as most citizens in Israel do. This was something that worried her very much. “I was scared to lose my friends because they objected to it. They told me they wouldn’t speak to me. I was left alone.”

Despite their opposition, she decided to move forward and enlist. I understood that it was most important to defend my friends, family, and country. I was born here.” At the end of the day, she says she realized it was the right thing to do.

[Elinor] Joseph serves in the Caracal battalion, which operates on the Egyptian border to block the entry of terrorists and smugglers into Israel.

The difficult dilemma she felt in serving at a border crossing was not easy for her but she said during moments of difficulty and misgiving she would remember, “there was a Katyusha [rocket] that fell near my house and also hurt Arabs. If someone would tell me that serving in the IDF means killing Arabs, I remind them that Arabs also kill Arabs.”

http://barenakedislam.wordpress.com/...ombat-soldier/
24549  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: French declare war on AQIM on: July 29, 2010, 01:04:35 AM
France Declares War on AQIM

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday that France was at war with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The statement came after AQIM declared two days earlier that it had killed a 78-year-old French aid worker who had been held hostage by the group since April 19. Michel Germaneau was reportedly beheaded by his AQIM captors in retaliation for a joint French-Mauritanian raid in Mali, which aimed to free Germaneau. Following Fillon’s blunt declaration, French politicians — including the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French Parliament — stated that France would provide logistical support and training to the governments in the region, especially Mauritania, Mali and Niger, in their ongoing efforts against AQIM.

France’s reaction to Germaneau’s death has been strong and direct, suggesting that Paris is potentially about to divert its attention to a region it knows very well, dating back to its days as a colonial power. The “declaration of war” is not so much about terrorism as it is about France’s fundamental national interests.

The French presence in West Africa goes back to the 17th century. The French incorporated their various trading outposts into French West Africa in 1895, largely as a response to colonial competition with European imperial rivals. However, other than certain parts of the Niger and Senegal River valleys (a substantive part of the Niger River flowed through British territory in present-day Nigeria), the rest of the enormous territory ranged from sparse desert to the semi-arid Sahel region, inhabited by nomadic tribes that offered no significant economic benefit for Paris. France retained a direct imperial presence in the region for nearly 70 more years and then continued its influence throughout the Cold War via direct patronage of post-independence West African leaders.

French policy in Africa was part of a Gaullist foreign policy employed during the Cold War. This fiercely independent policy led France not only to retain links with — and to a large extent control over — its former colonies, but also to develop a nuclear deterrent and establish relations with the Soviet bloc independent of its NATO allies. Paris saw itself as the pre-eminent political and military power in Europe — with German economic might harnessed for French political gains via the European Economic Community —that justified not only independence in military and political affairs but also a continued presence in its former empire unmatched by any other European country. Even if the former colonies provided little economic gain — aside from funneling illicit funds for the campaigns of various French politicians, including presidential candidates — they provided France with a “bloc” of countries to call its own that enhanced its prestige during the Cold War.

“The ‘declaration of war’ is not so much about terrorism as it is about France’s fundamental national interests.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has therefore been seen as a break in the Gaullist tradition. He reintroduced the French military into NATO’s military command, began repairing relations with the United States that had deteriorated during the presidency of his Gaullist predecessor Jacques Chirac and indicated that French patronage for West African regimes would end. Part of the reason that Sarkozy ditched Gaullism was that he believed that there was no need for France to maintain a “bloc” in distant former colonies, not with the Cold War over and the global game reformatted into a more regional affair. German reunification, of course, played a large role in this shift in French focus, as Paris now felt that balancing Berlin — rather than the United States or Russia — was the real strategic imperative in 2007.

However, ditching Gaullism has proven to be more complicated and less useful than Paris might have thought in 2007. First, the United States’ involvement in the Middle East has made it an inattentive partner for France. The United States has focused wholly on what France can do for its efforts in the Middle East — especially Afghanistan — leaving Sarkozy feeling ignored on European issues. Second, the global economic crisis of 2008 and the eurozone sovereign debt crisis of 2010 have shown Paris that its fate is either with Germany as second-in-command or on the receiving end of German directives. It is a relationship more akin to that of the supposed “special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the United States than one of true partnership or co-leadership.

But as such, Paris needs to have something to contribute to the relationship. Certainly its influence in the Third World is one form of political capital that Berlin does not bring to the table. From it, France not only derives influence in matters of development aid and diplomatic influence, but also — as the case with AQIM could prove — in security and anti-terror matters as well. Berlin still feels uncomfortable with these policy realms and could be convinced to outsource to Paris. This is especially true considering Germany’s lack of capacity in the security arena, certainly compared to France. Therefore, France may be able to prove that it provides the “muscle” behind German economic might.

But a French security role in West Africa — if one develops — is not just about redefining post-Gaullist foreign policy. It would also be about real interests that France never lost in the region, Cold War or not. France is one of the few countries with the capacity — and will — to conduct military operations in Africa (however limited) when its security is provoked. Paris sent commandos to the coast of Somalia when pirates hijacked French citizens. They also remain the only forces to have gone ashore in Somalia to capture pirates, taking them to France for punishment. France still maintains garrisons in a handful of African countries, for defending allied governments or its own commercial interests.

And those commercial interests are particularly acute in West Africa. Holding vast territory was seen in the 19th century as a benefit only in terms of prestige. Today that territory is vital to the French economy, since beneath the sands of Niger lies the source of 40 percent of France’s uranium consumption, set to substantially increase in the current decade as new mining projects come online. While AQIM has not threatened uranium production in the past, the roaming Tuareg nomads have. The two may not share an ideological affinity, but they have worked together previously to share resources. Considering that France relies on nuclear energy for nearly 80 percent of its electricity, the Sahel region is arguably more important to France than the Persian Gulf region is to the United States. Paris understandably tenses up whenever any threat arises that potentially could disrupt its uranium mining operations in Niger. France’s activity and security presence in the region therefore not only makes sense to a Paris looking to redefine its role within the Franco-German leadership duo, but in terms of real national interest as well.
24550  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / To speak or not to speak on: July 28, 2010, 08:53:28 PM
An interesting thought piece from Gabe Suarez (a former LEO btw):

One of the things that is incessantly being discussed in the CCW/LEO community is the after-event-discourse. In other words, what do you say...or not, after you have whacked an attacker. As expected, the variety of advice is as different as people's choices in guns and ammo. A prevailing attitude is to simply shut up and say nothing under any circumstances. I disagree and here is why -

I have been in more than a few of these and also investigated quite a few of these. I noted some trends and tried to use those trends to my benefits when it was my turn at the plate.

First is the fact that the bad guys will not be "keeping quiet". They will be telling the cops you pulled your gun on them, perhaps create some appearance of racism if they can exploit it, and generally make it look like you are the over-reacting, racist, bad guy. What happened may not be obvious to the cops who come out to investigate...specially if the majority of witnesses are against you.

So picture this scene. Two guys have been, as we used to say, "eye f*cking you", and followed you for some time, maybe yelling threatening stuff at you. While you did your best to avoid the issue, you were unsuccessful in getting away and they pressed the confrontation, attacking you with sufficient force to justify a gun solution.

You shoot one of them, maybe wounding him - maybe killing him, and the other one runs off into the night. You saw the first man drop his pistol in a clump of ivy and the other man throw his knife on a rooftop as he ran away.

You immediately call 911 and give a very cryptic account of what happened..."there has been a shooting...I'm the victim...send help".

 In the meantime, one of the assailants...the one who got away, is also calling. His story is a little different. According to him you called them "Dirty Ghetto Norwegians", and pulled your gun on them, shooting his buddy. As far as the police know...they got two calls. One a cryptic call, from someone who seemed to be concealing something, and another reporting what amounts to a racial hate crime by a right wing Nazi.

They arrive on scene and after controlling the event, ask you what happened. What you do now will have a bearing on the rest of your life.

The guys who advocate saying nothing will not be able to point to the two weapons which were discarded...and which will disappear as soon as the scene is cleared. The police may not even look for them since no one told them they were in existence. No one will tell them you are a good guy who was a victim of an attempted robbery, as the ONLY info paints you as some KKK wannabe.

Sure...you'll have a lawyer...but all of the evidence the police may have collected will no longer be available, and the investigation will not have been an even and equal one, but rather one where you alone are the suspect.

See the point?? I know a man who did just that...kept his mouth shut because of what a shooting instructor advised him to do and he spent several weeks in jail, had two criminal trials, and is now facing a civil suit from one of his attackers.

Is it hard to control your mouth? Yes it is. But no harder than to control your trigger finger, your desire to drink to excess, or to control the vertical displacement of your zipper. On self control, it is a learned thing and must be practiced daily.  Maybe self control is too hard for the modern, self-indulgent, metro-sexual male, but as the Nike commercial said....Just Do It.

It, like many other things, can be trained and developed. If you ignore it, it will never be developed.

Think in these terms...you train gun handling and shooting skills to make them reflexive in the most stressful event someone is ever likely to face....and we tend to do fine. The guys who never train...thinking they will "rise to the occasion" invariably fail. To say, "I will simply say nothing", is in that same line of thinking is it not?

What I have done, with success, is this. I give a very limited statement, focusing on the actions of the bad guys, and them excuse myself from any further questions until my mouthpiece...I mean, attorney, arrives.
Anything I say focuses on what the bad guy(s) have done and not on what I may have done. Something like this -

"Officer. I am glad you are here. Thank God."

"I am a good guy. I was minding my own business on my way home when those two guys attacked me."

"The one in the blue shirt had a knife. He threw it up there on the roof as he ran away. There should be some blood on it from my arm when I blocked his attempt to stab me."

"The guy on the gurney was armed with a pistol. He dropped it right there in that pile of ivy when he fell."

"I was terrified. I am still terrified.  Boy am I glad you guys are here. "

"Listen...I am still a little shaken up. I want to cooperate with you guys. This has never happened to me (or this hasn't happened in a while). I have heard stories of good guys getting sued later for saying too much. My attorney is on his way and as soon as he arrives I will be happy to give a full statement with him there. Until then, I think I need to sit down and calm my blood pressure."

At that point things are no longer in your control but you have set the investigation on the proper course, and the truth will be determined instead of being overlooked.
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