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24551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: June 20, 2008, 01:35:21 AM
I could be mistaken, but it reads to me that the vaccination was already approved ("became available") and the girls were sought out to generate data over time to compare to girls who did not take the vaccine.
24552  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: June 20, 2008, 01:12:32 AM
Woof KJ:

At this point, the Shocknives are a standard feature of our Gatherings.

I spoke with Linda this evening.  Pressing family matters distract her at this point and her attendance is a genuine question mark.  I did my best to remind her that there is nothing like a good day of stickfighting to put things right.  She laughed and said she would see.

TAC,
CD
24553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: June 19, 2008, 06:58:47 PM
Mrs. Obama and the Tuskegee Superstition
By JAMES TARANTO
June 19, 2008

In February 2007, we noted a rare instance of agreement between this column and the New York Times editorial page. The topic was whether 11- and 12-year-old girls should be vaccinated for the human papillomavirus. HPV is sexually transmitted and is believed to cause 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, this year 11,070 new cases of cervical cancer are expected to be diagnosed, and 3,870 women are expected to die of the disease. Do the arithmetic: Had the HPV vaccine been administered to these women when they were girls, some 7,749 would have been spared cancer and 2,709 would have died later of some other cause.

"Social conservatives object that the vaccine will encourage promiscuity," the Times wrote last year, "but it seems farfetched to believe that protection from cervical cancer will change any girl's behavior." That seems right to us--and even if the vaccine has some marginal bad effect on sexual behavior, several thousand cancer deaths a year seems a high price to pay to avoid it. Even the Times editors thought cancer prevention an important enough goal to abandon their usual liberal keep-your-laws-off-my-body orthodoxy when it comes to matters gynecological.

Now, as blogger Tom Maguire notes, the subject of HPV vaccination has come up in a different context: yesterday's New York Times story about Michelle Obama's "subtle makeover." Maguire cites an anecdote from Mrs. Obama's work at the University of Chicago Medical Center, a story that, in Maguire's words, is "ludicrously presented as a sympathetic and positive story of her professional efforts":

She also altered the hospital's research agenda. When the human papillomavirus vaccine, which can prevent cervical cancer, became available, researchers proposed approaching local school principals about enlisting black teenage girls as research subjects.
Mrs. Obama stopped that. The prospect of white doctors performing a trial with black teenage girls summoned the specter of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment of the mid-20th century, when white doctors let hundreds of black men go untreated to study the disease.
"She'll talk about the elephant in the room," said Susan Sher, her boss at the hospital, where Mrs. Obama is on leave from her more-than-$300,000-a-year job.
This isn't the first time the Tuskegee experiment has come up during the presidential campaign. In April the Obamas' then-pastor, Jeremiah Wright, explained his belief that the U.S. government had invented AIDS as a tool of genocide against black people: "Based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything."

The Tuskegee outrage was real. But the notion that the Tuskegee experiment--which began in the Jim Crow era (1932) and ended in 1972, eight years after the Civil Rights Act became law--reflects the attitudes of American governmental and medical institutions today is an urban legend, a superstition--and potentially a deadly one.

The Times's account suggests that girls in Chicago were denied potentially lifesaving vaccinations because Michelle Obama pandered to racial paranoia instead of standing up for the truth. Is that why they pay her the big bucks?

24554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Calls Rise for Public Control of Water Supply on: June 19, 2008, 06:28:48 PM
Calls Rise for Public Control of Water Supply
By JIM CARLTON

FELTON, Calif. -- The faucets in one of six U.S. homes pour water provided by a private company. Now, some of these communities are revolting against their corporate water systems, attempting to put their water under government control because of concerns over rising rates and service disruptions.

Residents of Felton, Calif., fought to bring back local control of the town's water, part of a backlash against a wave of privatization deals.
 
Cheers broke out in a packed senior center near the mountain village of Felton on June 5, when the local water district officially wrested control of the town's water from a unit of American Water Works Co. Residents of Felton, 70 miles south of San Francisco, had been unhappy ever since the Voorhees, N.J., company bought their water system from another corporation in 2002 and proposed a 74% rate increase. Germany's RWE AG bought American Water in 2003.  (Is this AWR?  If so, I have a moderate position in it-- Marc)

Felton residents waged a years-long battle to bring their water back to local control. American Water finally agreed in May to sell the system to the local public water district, which Felton recently joined, for $10.5 million in cash and assumption of $2.9 million in debt.

Similar conflicts have flared up around the U.S. over the past few years -- part of a backlash against a wave of water-works-privatization deals in the U.S. that began in the 1990s as cash-strapped municipalities sought to defray the costs of upgrading old water plants and other infrastructure.

RWE earlier this year spun off American Water -- the nation's largest privately held water company -- in part because of the uprisings that have spread throughout the U.S. "Public resistance to privatization schemes of companies was growing" in the U.S., according to a Sept. 16, 2005, summary of the minutes from an RWE board meeting at which officials discussed why they potentially needed to divest American Water and another British unit.

In all, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates about 16% of Americans get their water from nongovernment sources, a number that has remained little changed over the past decade.

In some cities, "There's an aversion to getting involved with a private company," says Peter Cook, executive director of the National Association of Water Companies, an industry trade group based in Washington. Mr. Cook said more growth is likely to occur, though, as cities face having to rebuild expensive water infrastructure.

One common tactic that communities are using in this water fight is eminent domain, the power that cities and other local agencies have to seize a corporate water system in the public's interest. Earlier this year, the cities of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Cave Creek, Ariz., condemned all or parts of water systems owned by private companies because of issues including user complaints over service and maintenance. Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tiffin, Ohio; and Homer Glen, Ill.; have all this year initiated steps that could result in takeovers of local water systems.

Water-industry officials say they don't see any widespread customer backlash against private ownership. The take-back efforts in some communities represent only isolated resistance, says Dan Kelleher, an outside adviser and spokesman for American Water, which reports a continued increase in business. "I would argue that a mayor in Tiffin who wants to look into government ownership is not indicative of a problem," he says.

Mr. Kelleher says the vast majority of the company's 15.6 million customers in 32 states and the Canadian province of Ontario are "very satisfied with our service," and that some other efforts to take over private water utilities, such as in Lexington, Ky., have failed. He and other industry executives say rate increases are needed to help underwrite the cost of major upgrades to water systems.

In the case of Felton, Mr. Kelleher says the company's proposal in 2002 to raise rates 74% over three years was driven by the fact the town hadn't had a rate increase since 1998, while American Water needed to invest $1.1 million between 2002 and 2005 to replace old facilities. The California Public Utilities Commission approved a 44% jump in the water rate. But many customers in the town of about 1,000 were still so incensed they formed a group called Friends of Locally Owned Water, or FLOW, and embarked on a campaign to force out American Water.

They gained support in the community as customers also began complaining of slower response times to broken water mains and other service glitches, as American Water routed accident reports to a national call center in Illinois. American Water officials have said the call center was designed to improve service.

One tactic by the opposition group was to persuade local Santa Cruz County officials to expand the boundaries of the adjoining San Lorenzo district to include Felton, so it would have condemnation powers over the water system there. Another was to get voters to pass a local ballot initiative -- Measure W -- in 2005, which allocated up to $11 million in bonds to buy the water system and offset legal fees.

After American Water officials said the system wasn't for sale, the San Lorenzo district initiated eminent-domain proceedings. In May, the company agreed to the Felton purchase. "I think a handful of people [in Felton] felt government ownership was a better choice," says Mr. Kelleher, the American Water adviser.

Felton residents will see an almost immediate benefit. Over the past decade, their water rates have more than tripled to about $180 a month. Now rates will drop to about $80 -- what customers of the San Lorenzo district pay. "We're happy," says Jim Mosher, an attorney who helped lead the fight for FLOW.
24555  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Being Prepared without Being Paranoid on: June 19, 2008, 02:40:43 PM
From a point made on the Bouncer thread on the DBMA Assn forum:

It is a REALLY good idea to have some sort of a medical kit and to have some training in what to do with it.  The Emergency Medicine thread on this forum can be a good place to get started.

24556  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: June 19, 2008, 02:35:56 PM
KJ:

Thank you for the integrity of being candid about your background.

At the moment we are unsure whether Linda M. is coming.  OTOH Ashley of Manassas VA is excited and training well.  Currently some cyber gremlins are fouling up her efforts to get registered for the forum here, but do know that she will be posting in response to you , , , soon.  This will be Ashley's first experience with weapon fighting and to the best of my knowledge her focus has been for single stick, but I leave it to the two of you to work things out.

TAC,
Crafty Dog

PS:  Would you please email me at Craftydog@dogbrothers.com ?
24557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: June 19, 2008, 02:13:48 PM
"When was the last time a president came into office with unchecked power, completely changed the fabric of our society, our political standing in the world, and ignored anything that the voting public or Congress said? I'm going to go with....never."

Ummm how about LBJ?  cheesy tongue cry

The point I think you have not considered yet is that if elected BO will head an overwhelimingly Demogogue Congress-- one determined e.g. to socialize 15% of GDP (health care).  This alone is a dramatic change.  The point is that there will be little to no countervailing political power.  BO and the Demogogues look to raise taxes dramatically.  This too is a big change-- one that will be catastropic IMHO.  BO and the Demogogues want to re-apply the Carter solutions to the energy challenges of our time-- this too will lead to disaster.

24558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: BO doing about face? on: June 19, 2008, 02:06:03 PM
Pivoting to Victory
By JAMES TARANTO
June 18, 2008

A Washington Post editorial reports on a meeting between the Post's editors and Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, in which Zebari describes a conversation he had with Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee:

The foreign minister said "my message" to Mr. Obama "was very clear. . . . Really, we are making progress. I hope any actions you will take will not endanger this progress." He said he was reassured by the candidate's response, which caused him to think that Mr. Obama might not differ all that much from Mr. McCain. Mr. Zebari said that in addition to promising a visit, Mr. Obama said that "if there would be a Democratic administration, it will not take any irresponsible, reckless, sudden decisions or action to endanger your gains, your achievements, your stability or security. Whatever decision he will reach will be made through close consultation with the Iraqi government and U.S. military commanders in the field."
This confirms the reporting of Al-Hayat, a London-based Arabic-language newspaper, which we noted Friday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reports that Obama, who last set foot in Iraq in 2006, before the surge, "is considering going to Iraq soon to visit with troops and commanders," even though snarly Susan Rice, a top Obama foreign-policy adviser, says that the GOP argument that he should do so is "complete garbage."

Could it be that Obama is planning to pivot? That is, what if he goes to Iraq and declares upon his return that he has been persuaded that the surge has made a difference, that things are going much better, and that he is now convinced victory is both possible and crucial?

On the downside, he would risk alienating those among his supporters who crave defeat in Iraq, either for ideological reasons or out of sheer hatred for George W. Bush.

But on the upside, it would show political courage and open-mindedness, two qualities his supporters are eager to ascribe to him but so far on the basis of evidence that is somewhere between scant and nonexistent. Those who do want America to win in Iraq would no longer have to vote against Obama for that reason. As for those who want defeat, where would they go? By their lights, John McCain is even worse; he voted for the war to begin with. So, oddly enough, did the Libertarian nominee. Unless you count Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader, Obama would still be the best "antiwar" candidate on the ballot.

We've long been skeptical of the Obama hype, but if he is smart and bold enough to adopt a sensible position on Iraq, we will have to admit there is more to him that we've given him credit for.

Back to the Future
24559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Story: State Govts on: June 19, 2008, 01:26:45 PM

"The state governments have a full superintendence and control over
the immense mass of local interests of their respective states,
which connect themselves with the feelings, the affections,
the municipal institutions, and the internal arrangements of the
whole population. They possess, too, the immediate administration
of justice in all cases, civil and criminal, which concern the
property, personal rights, and peaceful pursuits of their own
citizens."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 191.
24560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Sounds of Silence on: June 19, 2008, 01:24:15 PM
Sounds of Silence
By MARK DUBOWITZ
June 19, 2008

Welcome to a world where criticism of militant Islam could land you in court or worse. In Vancouver, Canada's venerable Maclean's magazine awaits a hate-speech verdict from a human-rights tribunal for publishing a chapter from syndicated columnist Mark Steyn's best-selling book "America Alone." The accusers charge the author and publisher with "Islamophobia."

Last week, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), warned a gathering in Kuala Lumpur that "mere condemnation or distancing from the acts of the perpetrators of Islamophobia" would not suffice. He recommended that Western countries restrict freedom of expression and demanded that the media stop publishing "hate material" like the Danish cartoons. "It is now high time for concrete actions to stem the rot before it aggravates any further," he said.

 
AP 
Kabul speech: Afghans demonstrate against a Dutch Quran documentary and Danish cartoons that depicted the Prophet Muhammad. March 21, 2008.
Islamic countries already scored a victory on this front back in March. They pushed through a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council urging a global ban on the public defamation of religion -- read Islam.

* * *
These are examples of a growing campaign to use judicial power to silence critics of militant Islam. In the U.N. Durban Review Conference, scheduled for April 20-24, 2009 in Geneva, it appears that the OIC and its cohorts have identified the perfect platform to further their agenda.

Recall the first Durban meeting, the 2001 U.N. World Conference Against Racism, which took place only days before 9/11. That gathering deteriorated into a hate-fest against Jews, America and Israel. Disgusted by the vile rhetoric and Stürmer-like caricatures of Jews on display, the U.S. and Israeli delegations walked out.

Hopes that the Durban II conference next year will be a more enlightened event have already been dashed by the fact that some of the worst human rights abusers are setting its agenda. At the urging of the OIC, Libya secured chairmanship of the preparatory committee. Iran and Pakistan each won a seat on the committee. And Egypt, another OIC member, has been representing the 53-nation African Group during floor debates.

And so instead of Durban II rectifying the sins of the past, this latest U.N. forum will seek to undermine free societies by invoking the specter of Islamophobia. The OIC is the U.N.'s most powerful voting bloc. As the democracies at the U.N. have repeatedly learned, the OIC, with 57 members the controlling group in the 130-member bloc of developing countries, can usually push through its agenda with little difficulty.

The likely outcome of Durban II will be to urge all U.N. member states to pass legislation restricting basic freedoms of speech and action -- all in the interest of preventing "Islamophobia." The discrimination or defamation of Muslims, or of any other group for that matter, is of course reprehensible. But "Islamophobia," as defined by Libya, Iran and the other Durban II organizers, covers any criticism of Islam, Muslims or their actions.

If the leaders of these countries have it their way, writing op-eds criticizing Islamic radicalism, or speaking out against Muslim terrorists or, of course, publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, are soon to be considered criminal examples of racism.

During the most recent Durban II preparatory meetings in April and May, OIC members from Iran to Indonesia all insisted that freedom of expression is what causes Islamophobia. "The most disturbing phenomenon is the intellectual and ideological validation of Islamophobia," noted the Pakistani representative to the U.N., Marghoob Saleem Butt, on behalf of the OIC. "While it is expressed in the form of defamation of religion, it takes cover behind the freedom of expression and opinion." Voicing the demands of the Muslim bloc and its many authoritarian leaders, Mr. Butt requested that the Durban process "devise normative standards that provide adequate guarantees" against the intolerance of Muslims promoted by these freedoms.

Human rights advocates worried about this threat to civil liberties have been voicing their concerns with little success. Juliette De Rivero, for example, the Human Rights Watch advocacy director in Geneva, raised the alarm in late April: "Justified concerns about the complex relationship of racial and religious intolerance and hatred should not be the pretext to undermine key freedoms, including freedom of speech," she told the conference organizers in Geneva.

The danger of the Durban process is that it seeks to shape international and national laws. If the OIC succeeds, a broad definition of "Islamophobia" will be incorporated into Durban II's final outcome document. Thereafter, expect U.N. bodies, such as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to call countries to task if they fail to implement these recommendations. Other organs of the international system will adopt and cite the Islamophobia definition as well, until it and its ill effects have migrated throughout the international system.

The Durban II recommendations, however, will not stop only at warping international standards on what constitutes Islamophobia -- the OIC aims to export its language into individual countries' domestic laws. The first point in a draft of the conference's final outcome document compels countries to pursue the "enactment of adequate legislation in line with [those] international standards." The same diplomatic draft paper identifies freedom of expression as a "main challenge and obstacle" to addressing contemporary forms of racism.

Only the European Union can now stop this insidious process. Canada has already announced that it will boycott the conference, and the U.S. has also indicated that it will not participate in Durban II unless satisfied that it will not be another fiasco. But only the threat of a European pullout would deal a true blow to the credibility of the proceedings and deny the partisans of "Islamophobia" the U.N. imprimatur they crave.

Next month, France ascends to the EU presidency. It will be up to Paris to lead the fight for Western freedoms and, for once, put Iran, Libya, and other authoritarian states on the defensive. Let's hope French President Nicolas Sarkozy understands what's at stake.

Mr. Dubowitz is executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal
24561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Obama Phenomena on: June 19, 2008, 12:38:46 PM
The man's mentor, Frank something, is/was a formal member of the US Communist Party; there is his friendship with unrepentant Weather underground terrorists, there is his association with Rev Wright's church (which praises and honors Louis Farrakan), his wife's shame in our country, etc etc etc.  Then there is the matter of the man's voting record, and his positions.

Does not the confluence of all these things raise a warning flag for you as to the man's inner compass?  And does not our President's inner compass matter?
24562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Turkish Regress on: June 19, 2008, 12:28:12 PM
Turkish Regress
FROM TODAY'S WALL STREET JOURNAL EUROPE
June 19, 2008

Turkey's soccer team scored three goals in the last 15 minutes against the Czechs the other night to make the quarterfinals of the European championship. Now if only miracles happened in Turkish politics.

The country needs one to get out of its latest self-inflicted crisis. For the second time in a year, a clash between the old secular establishment and an elected government with roots in Islam has split and paralyzed Turkey. Tensions look bound to escalate, putting the Muslim world's strongest democracy in peril.

The current fight is ostensibly over Islam and its most potent symbol, the headscarf. But that's a proxy for a broader struggle over political power. The so-called secularists have run the place since Kemal Atatürk founded modern Turkey through their control of the military, state bureaucracy and schools, and the courts. But in this century, the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, has claimed the votes and the reform credentials.

Now the Kemalists have the AKP on a back foot. In coming weeks, Turkey's highest court will -- barring the miracle -- outlaw the AKP for "anti-secular activities." The court tipped its hand recently by striking down an AKP-backed law to lift the prohibition against women wearing headscarves at public universities. The law led a Kemalist prosecutor to bring the case against the AKP in the first place. Seventy-one politicians, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also face a five-year ban from belonging to any party. Such a decision would undo the outcome of last summer's elections. The AKP won 47% of the vote, a landslide by Turkish standards.

Other consequences are harder to predict, but none is welcome. Turkey's negotiations on membership with the European Union, along with its modernization drive, would be put on hold -- again. Political infighting has already stalled reform, and Turkey would be consumed for many more months with sorting out who should run the government.

A ban on Mr. Erdogan's party would amount to a judicial coup. It's also perfectly legal. Under the 1982 constitution, the courts can outlaw parties and have done so on nearly two dozen occasions. The secular elite says the military and the courts are the only checks and balances Turkish democracy has against an AKP with a wide majority in Parliament and its own man in the presidency. Never mind that the AKP won those offices fair and square.

The crux of the secular case against the AKP has always been a hypothetical fear that its secret agenda is to Islamize Turkey. If women are allowed to wear headscarves at university, goes the oft-heard argument, all women will soon be forced to wear them everywhere. Stories are told of AKP mayors who outlaw alcohol or force girls to cover their hair.

Some Turkish Islamists can be as pushy in telling women how to dress modestly as some secularists can be in telling them not to. Yet these tend to be isolated incidents, and the AKP's record in power tells a wholly different story. In his first term in office, Mr. Erdogan did more than any Turkish leader in the past two decades to strengthen democractic institutions and open up the economy. Minority rights, especially for the Kurds, were expanded. So were civil liberties. Turkey's economy flourished. Membership talks started with the EU.

Critics say the AKP is aggressive and intolerant. If anything, the party has been so obliging of the opposition that its reform efforts have suffered. In deference to the secularists, Mr. Erdogan backed off on plans to decriminalize certain political speech and liberalize the law on political parties to make it harder to ban them. In the headscarf case, the AKP moved only at the behest of the secular Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP. The MHP, naturally, isn't in the high court facing a ban. In retrospect, Mr. Erdogan may have walked into a trap. This supposedly overbearing Prime Minister these days looks weak.

The AKP's rise reflects that of a new elite in a fast-changing Turkey. Its supporters tend to hail from blue-collar families, from the rural areas as well as the lower-class suburbs that rose around Istanbul and other cities in recent decades. They tend to work in the booming private sector. They also tend to be more socially and culturally conservative.

The urban, educated secular establishment is a minority that finds this emerging reality discomfiting. They don't trust ordinary Turks to make up their own minds about whom to vote for, and claim to know what's better for them.

Here's an irony. Through their actions these past few months, the secularists are now the leading opponents of the West and pose a threat to secularism itself. Under the AKP, Turkey was moving at a dizzying pace to try to reconcile Islam and democracy, turning away from the mildly authoritarian precepts of Kemalism toward Western liberalism.

In the Turkish context, that would mean keeping Islam and politics separate while giving Turks greater space to practice their religion (or not). The job was imperfectly and barely half done. Now that modernization drive, watched closely across the Muslim world, has been stopped cold. The next neo-Islamist Turkish government may not be as eager to liberalize as this one has been.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
24563  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DBMA DVD: "The Dos Triques Formula" on: June 19, 2008, 10:49:05 AM
Until it gets posted on our front page, you can find the promo clip here:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=3mc74Ppoom8
24564  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Knife for Self Defense on: June 19, 2008, 10:25:50 AM
Which is why I (not David) inserted the change.
24565  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Being Prepared without Being Paranoid on: June 19, 2008, 10:24:03 AM
"you might feel a bit better if you didn't , , , NEED to carry."

This seems to be the essence of the point you are making.
24566  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 6/22 Guro Crafty seminar at Surf Dog's in Hemet on: June 18, 2008, 04:23:04 PM
THANK YOU!!!
24567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Henryk Mandelbaum on: June 18, 2008, 11:41:35 AM
Henryk Mandelbaum, 85; Jew was forced to empty the gas chambers at Auschwitz
From Times Wire Reports
June 18, 2008


Henryk Mandelbaum, a member of the Sonderkommando -- Jewish prisoners who were forced to empty the gas chambers at Auschwitz after fellow Jews were gassed and burned -- died Tuesday. He was 85.

Mandelbaum died at a hospital in the southern Polish city of Bytom several days after undergoing heart surgery, said Igor Bartosik, a historian at the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum who has co-written an upcoming book on Mandelbaum.

Bartosik said he did not know the exact cause of death, and hospital officials refused to comment.

Mandelbaum was Poland's last surviving member of the Sonderkommando, in which he was forced by the Nazis to search the body cavities of fellow Jews for valuables and pull out gold teeth and fillings after they were executed. They then had to carry the bodies to crematories for burning and when the crematories were filled to capacity they dug huge pits to burn the bodies.

"I thought I was in hell. Fire and smoke were everywhere. I had to clean the gas chambers and put the bodies in the crematoria, or burn them outside when the extermination was in full swing and the crematoria were not enough," he told reporters some time ago.

Mandelbaum was forced to do the work from his arrival in Auschwitz, at age 21, on April 10, 1944, until January 1945, when the Nazis forced him and other fit inmates on a death march to flee the advancing Red Army. He was able to escape the march and hid at a farm for several weeks. The Soviets liberated the camp Jan. 27, 1945.

During his months in the camp, Mandelbaum -- inmate No. 181970 -- witnessed the death of some of the 400,000 Jews brought in transports from Hungary in the summer of 1944, and handled their dead bodies.

"He saw people going into the changing rooms, he saw people changing, he saw the moment of the gassing, the throwing of the Zyklon [B gas] into the gas chambers, he heard the screams," Bartosik told the Associated Press.

Mandelbaum was born Dec. 15, 1922, in the southern Polish town of Olkusz.

As the oldest of four children, he went to work cutting stone in a quarry to help support the family when his father's butcher's business became bankrupt. He developed physical strength that helped him pass an initial selection at Auschwitz, separating those capable of work from those who were sent immediately to the gas chambers.

Bartosik said Mandelbaum spent decades trying to teach younger generations about what happened during the Holocaust. He gave guided tours of Auschwitz and spoke frequently to groups about his experience.

Mandelbaum found himself in the spotlight in May 2006 when Pope Benedict XVI visited Auschwitz. In an emotionally charged event, the German-born pope prayed at the Wall of Death, where the Nazis executed thousands.  There he met with 32 camp survivors, most of them Catholics; he stopped to speak to each one, and kissed Mandelbaum -- the only Jewish survivor in the group -- on both cheeks.

Mandelbaum's parents, along with a brother and sister, were killed in the Holocaust. He is survived by his wife, a son, a sister and grandchildren, Bartosik said.


LA Times
24568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 18, 2008, 09:11:59 AM
When cell phones first came out, they did not have GPS.  Then the State mandated that they do so.  Why should I have to allow the State to track me in order to use the telephone?!?

I appreciate the point about no reasonable expectation of privacy in public places, but when developed that doctrine did not have to address as we do now the matter of having all of one's comings and goings tracked. 

Private entities are limited to their space, and cannot bring the power of the State to bear on whom they observe; contast Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
24569  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 6/22 Guro Crafty seminar at Surf Dog's in Hemet on: June 18, 2008, 08:55:20 AM
I suppose it would be a good idea to include the location and contact number , , ,  embarassed

Lester "Surf Dog" Griffin:
114 E. Florida
Hemet, CA 92545
phone: 909-766-0702
24570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: Limitations of federal govt. on: June 18, 2008, 08:26:06 AM

"[T]he government of the United States is a definite government,
confined to specified objects. It is not like the state
governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part
of the legislative duty of the government."

-- James Madison (speech in the House of Representatives, 10
January 1794)

Reference: Elliot's Debates,
24571  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Daily Expression of Gratitude on: June 18, 2008, 08:20:15 AM
While I was on the road, while allowing someone to pass my guard I got overstacked and my left hip went out.  Dull, aching pain for several days, lessened by my remedial actions, but there nonetheless.  Back home now, today I am grateful for my absolutely wonderful chiropractor of many years, Dr. Shelly Bosten.
24572  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Gathering of the Pack August 10th, 2008 on: June 18, 2008, 08:16:40 AM
KJ:

Delighted to have another woman coming.  As always, the Gathering will be held somewhere in the Los Angeles region.  The plan is for me to look at two locations tomorrow. 

TIA,
CD
24573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: June 17, 2008, 11:53:07 PM
Well 42 posts on this thread has 2888 reads at present.  That averages to , , , almost 69 reads per post.  Do a similar calculation on some of the other threads, and consider that this forum-- no brag just fact-- tends to attract above average IQ readership. 

I think we do important work here.
24574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 11:49:49 PM
You said that we were a long way from having a GPS on everyone, and I pointed out that in point of fact they already do have a GPS on most people, so it is rather non-responsive to say that one can avoid it by handicapping oneself in the efficiency of daily communication.

As for the ease of searching the database of camera networks, I agree that at present it is a tedious thing to do, but the tedium and the load on the system of doing so in diminishing with extraordinary rapidity.  I offer for your consideration that your logic is like the frog in the pot who does not notice until too late that the temperature is heading for boiling.  Once the network are in place, do you think it possible to draw some sort of bright line based upon processing speed?
24575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 07:27:50 PM
Well, the GPS device is already mandated in everyone's cell phone, and in this thread we have seen networks of cameras covering everyone's comings and goings.
24576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: June 17, 2008, 07:26:13 PM
And you and I and some others are the Paul Reveres "The Islamo Fascists are coming!  The Islamo Fascists are coming!  One if by border crossing, two if by sea, three if by air!!!"
24577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim Hairdresser covers her hair, makes $4000 Euros on: June 17, 2008, 07:24:04 PM
How I nearly lost my business after refusing to hire a Muslim hair stylist who wouldn't show her hair

By Natasha Courtenay-Smith
Last updated at 10:10 PM on 17th June 2008


It seems too lunatic to be true. But here a hair salon boss reveals how she was driven to the brink of ruin - and forced to pay £4,000 for 'hurt feelings' - after refusing to hire a Muslim stylist who wouldn't show her hair at work

For Sarah Desrosiers, meeting Bushra Noah was not a moment in her life that she would describe as especially memorable.
Not only was it brief - lasting little more than ten minutes - but it was rapidly obvious to Sarah that Bushra was not the person for the junior stylist position she was trying to fill at her hairdressing salon.

Sarah's reasoning? Quite simply that Bushra, a Muslim who wears a headscarf for religions reasons, had made it clear she would not be removing the garment even while at work.

Sarah Desrosiers says she did nothing wrong by not employing Bushra Noah and would have done the same if an employee refused to remove a baseball cap.  Sarah felt that a job requirement of any hairdresser was that the stylist's hair would provide clients with a showcase of different looks. Especially one working in a salon such as hers, which specialises in alternative cuts and colours. Yet the ten minutes during which Sarah's world collided with Bushra's has resulted in an extraordinary employment battle, in which she was accused of 'direct' and 'indirect' discrimination.  For a year, Sarah has been facing financial ruin, due to a compensation claim for £34,000 brought by Bushra, 19, who has maintained she is due that figure after being turned down for a job at the Wedge salon in London's King's Cross.

In the event, the tribunal ruled this week that while Bushra's claim of direct discrimination failed, her claim for indirect discrimination had succeeded.  Sarah has therefore been ordered to pay £4,000 compensation by way of 'injury to feelings'.  Although this is a smaller sum than she'd feared she might have to hand over, Sarah, 32, is still outraged.

'I am a small business and the bottom line is that this is not a woman who worked for me,' says Sarah.

E
Bushra Noah says that Sarah Desrosiers 'hurt her feelings' by not employing her after a ten minute interview

'She is simply someone I met for a job interview, who, for a host of reasons, was not right for the job. I cannot see how she deserves £4,000. As for the notion that I've injured her feelings - well, people's feelings get injured every day. I dread to think the sorts of things that people will try to claim injured feelings for now that this precedent has been set.'

In its ruling, the tribunal said it was 'satisfied that Bushra was not treated less favourably than Sarah would have treated any woman who, whether Muslim or not, wears a hair covering at all times when at work'.

Accordingly, the claim of direct discrimination failed.

But with regard to the issue of indirect discrimination, they found that Sarah had pursued a 'legitimate aim - that aim being to promote the image of the business'.  However, the burden of proof was on Sarah to prove that her means of achieving that legitimate aim was proportionate. She was not able to prove her contention that employing someone with a headscarf would have the negative impact on her business's stylistic integrity that she feared.

Since the judgment, Bushra, who is of Syrian descent and has worn a headscarf since she was 13, has, so far at least, chosen not to comment.  But, speaking last year, she admitted she had attended 25 interviews for hairdressing jobs without success. But Sarah, she told the tribunal, had upset her the most.

She said: 'I felt so down and got so depressed. I thought: "If I am not going to defend myself, who is?" Hairdressing has been what I've wanted to do ever since I was at high school.

'This has ruined my ambitions. Wearing a headscarf is essential to my beliefs.'
Bushra had a job in a salon in London, where her tasks included cutting hair, highlighting, tinting and perming, before she left to get married in Syria in 2006.

But on her return to Britain, she was unable to find work. She has given up her ambitions to become a hairdresser and is studying travel and tourism at Hammersmith and West London College while working part-time in a shop. At the tribunal, Bushra was asked if Sarah had made derogatory remarks about her headscarf.

She replied: 'She did not. She just asked me if I wore it all the time, or whether I'd take it off.'

Although Bushra is believed to have been acting alone, in the past similar cases have been championed by Muslim traditionalist groups.
In 2006, the Law Lords overturned a court ruling that teenager Shabina Begum's human rights were violated when she was banned from wearing full Islamic dress at school.

Enlarge
Sarah in her salon - Wedge - located in north London says that the discrimination case against her almost ruined her business
The extremist Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir later admitted that it had 'advised her'.

Meanwhile, Sarah Desrosiers is wondering how to raise the £4,000 she has been ordered to pay Bushra. She has spent her savings on her legal battle and simply has no money left.

'I am a one-woman band, and am already in debt due to the set-up costs of opening my own salon,' says Sarah. 'I dread to think how many haircuts I'm going to have to do to earn the £4,000 I have to pay Bushra. This has, without doubt, been the worst year of my life.'

Such a messy set of circumstances, let alone the strain of having the case bought against her, was certainly not what Sarah expected when she started out on her career aged 17. From the outset, she had grand ambitions, telling her mother that she would one day have her own salon.

'Even back then, I realised how important your own hair is to the job,' says Sarah. 'I went into hairdressing a rather plain brunette, but within a few weeks I had a bright red crop. I wanted to provide clients with inspiration through my own hair. Whether they're in a conventional High Street salon, or something slightly different like my salon, customers expect to see the stylists with hair that is on trend, striking and can give them ideas for their own look.'

In 1997, Sarah got a job at a salon on London's Portobello Road, where she remained for almost a decade. In March 2006, feeling ready to spread her wings, she wrote a business plan, secured a loan and invested £5,000 of her savings into the lease on a small salon on Caledonian Road. She named it Wedge, and planned to specialise in 'urban and edgy' cuts, rather like the cerise colour she often dyes her own hair.

'I'd never felt as proud as I did on the day I picked up the keys to my salon,' says Sarah.  'I was prepared to put my heart and soul into my business in order to make ends meet, and for the first few months, I worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, all by myself. I barely saw daylight, but I didn't mind because I was fulfilling my ambition. Of course, there were a few nerve-racking moments, such as when another salon opened a few doors away. But that is part of owning your own business, and I felt proud of all I was achieving.'

By March 2007, the business was doing so well that Sarah needed to take on another stylist. To minimise her overheads, she decided the best way to do this would be by renting out a chair in her salon to an experienced stylist - who would take a share of her profits - and employ a junior to work for both of them.

Sarah received dozens of applications for the junior position, one of which was from Bushra Noah.

'Her CV didn't stand out because I was looking for someone who lived locally - something I'd specified in the advert so that I could call them in as and when required - and she lived several miles away in Acton,' says Sarah.
=========
'One day she rang up to see if I'd got her CV and begged me for an interview. I told her I had concerns about where she lived, but she sounded so desperate that I agreed she could come in for a chat.'

A few days later, Bushra duly arrived at the salon.

'I have to say I didn't take to her,' says Sarah. 'She waltzed into the salon and hung up her coat as though she already had the job.

'Naturally, I noticed her headscarf. But I presumed that, as she's a hairdresser, she'd take if off when she was working. In 16 years, I've never known any stylist cover their hair with a headscarf. And this particular headscarf came all the way down to her eyebrows and covered her entire hairline.'

Sarah broached the subject with Bushra, who said she would not be removing the garment. After ten minutes, with the interview complete, Sarah said she would come back to Bushra about the vacancy.

'As she left, Bushra turned to me and said that she'd been turned down for jobs before,' says Sarah. 'And I admit I thought: "Well, what do you expect? It was not a religious matter. If she'd come in wearing a baseball cap and saying she wouldn't take it off for work, then she wouldn't have got the job either.'

One morning in the second week of June 2007, an innocuous white envelope landed on Sarah's doormat. It contained a letter saying that she was being sued for £15,000 for indirect and direct discrimination by Bushra Noah. This, the letter stated, related to compensation for injury to her feelings and lost earnings. Later, that figure was increased to £34,000.

'I read it and re-read it and stood there dumbfounded,' says Sarah. 'I remembered Bushra, and I guessed straight away that the claim related to the headscarf. In my mind I was saying "But I wasn't discriminating, it's just a part of the job", over and over again. I dialled the number at the top of the letter and was told I needed to get a solicitor, but that because I worked, I wasn't entitled to Legal Aid. I thought: "This is it - my business is over." I was devastated.'

Using her savings of £2,000, Sarah employed a lawyer who helped her draft a statement about her meeting with Bushra. But with his fees at £280 an hour, she knew she couldn't afford to fight a satisfactory legal battle. Her parents - her mother is a nurse, and her father is retired - weren't in a position to help her out financially either.

'I was at my wits' end, and I had no idea how I was going to pay for my legal fees,' says Sarah. 'I was virtually being accused of racism, which is ridiculous. I've cut the hair of people from all walks of life, including transsexuals, and you can hardly run an alternative salon if you are prejudiced.'

Help came when a friend tipped off a reporter about what was happening, and Sarah's case gained publicity, first locally, then nationally. Since then, she has received support from hundreds of people in the hairdressing industry, including black celebrity stylist Errol Douglas. Still, the wave of support did little to ease the stress as she fought to clear her name.

'For months, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I felt as though my whole life was on hold. All I could see was that I'd be forced into bankruptcy and lose my business.'

In the course of preparing for her trial, Sarah estimates she has lost £40,000 of her salon's annual income.  She also faced a further blow when it emerged that Bushra had increased the figure to £34,000 to compensate for hate mail she had received following Press coverage of the trial. In March, Sarah faced a three- day employment tribunal, and endured four hours of cross-examination.

'I managed to defend myself and not cry, but it was incredibly difficult,' she says. 'I'd even had to ask my accountant, who is a Muslim, and another Muslim friend to write letters confirming that I am not racist. The whole experience was so humiliating and, most importantly, unnecessary. I kept thinking: "I've worked hard all my life - how can it be possible that someone can come into my shop, talk to me for ten minutes and then sue me for £34,000? How is that possibly fair?".'

As she reels from the verdict, Sarah is contemplating her next move. While part of her is tempted to pay, simply to close the door on this unpleasant episode, she also feels she should fight to clear her name. Her lawyers are advising her on whether or not she can appeal.

'Because of this there will be a black mark against my name for the rest of my life,' she says. 'I feel I have not done anything wrong, and this is a terrible price to pay for a meeting that lasted ten minutes.'


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/ar...ldnt-hair.html
24578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: June 17, 2008, 05:05:41 PM
Iran: Terrorists will get bomb

[Excerpted from Patriot Post Digest, June 13, 2008]

"Last week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a speech in which he predicted that terrorists would obtain nuclear weapons and 'take away security from all the tyrants of the world.' He later made it clear that by 'tyrants' he meant the United States. The statement is darkly ironic, since Iran is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, and the pariah state is almost certainly in pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Khamenei was quick to add that Iran could never possess or use nuclear weapons since they are against 'Islamic beliefs,' but Iran’s Islamic government has never been known for being straightforward, and the supreme leader urged his listeners to continue exporting the Islamic revolution. If anything, Khamenei’s statement could be interpreted as a warning that Iran’s nuclear weapons will not be used by the country’s military, but rather by proxy terrorist groups. Meanwhile, the international 'community' finds itself incapable of taking any real action against Iran thanks to strong opposition from China and Russia, making it likely that whoever challenges Iran militarily will do so alone.


"Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz seems willing to take that chance. Mofaz recently announced his candidacy to succeed Ehud Olmert as Israel’s leader, and should he win, he intends to deal with Iran using whatever means necessary. 'If Iran continues its nuclear weapons program, we will attack it,' Mofaz said last week. 'Other options are disappearing. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear program.' Given Israel’s expertise in destroying such programs (Osirak, Iraq in 1981 and al-Kibar, Syria in 2007), Iran would do well to heed Mr. Mofaz’s warning."


So, "Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei...predicted that terrorists would obtain nuclear weapons and 'take away security from all the tyrants of the world.' He later made it clear that by 'tyrants' he meant the United States." No, he didn't add, "...and Iran will supply those terrorists with nuclear weapons", but I'm not sure it doesn't still stand as a de facto declaration of intent. At least some Israelis aren't fooled, or worried about making a clear statement of intent of their own.
24579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 05:03:35 PM
"As long as there is police power, there is the potential for the abuse of the police power. Is the answer then to not have police? That would ensure there were no abuses of police power. There are certainly those who call themselves libertarians that advocate such a position. I think a cost/benefit analysis is a better method of examining the issue."

Exactly.  So what is the cost/benefit of the government being able to keep track of everyone's comings and goings?
24580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Iraq votes for McCain on: June 17, 2008, 12:20:16 PM
Why Iraqis Back McCain
June 17, 2008; Page A21
However it turns out for John McCain this fall -- and so far he's running his general election campaign the way Gen. Ricardo Sanchez ran counterinsurgency ops -- the Arizona Republican is sure to carry at least one battleground state by a landslide. That state is called Iraq.

Last week, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey of more than 24,000 people in 24 countries. Result: From Japan to Tanzania to Germany to Russia, the world has "more confidence" in Barack Obama than in his Republican rival to "do the right thing regarding world affairs."

But Pew did not poll Iraqis, whose opinions about the choice America makes should weigh at least as heavily with us as the collective wisdom of, say, Brazil. Whom would they prefer as the next U.S. president?

 
Associated Press 
Constraints of time and money being what they are, I have not gotten round to phoning 1,000 Iraqis to get their views on Obama-McCain. But I did sit down last week with four key provincial Iraqi leaders, Sunnis and Shiites, who -- without actually endorsing Mr. McCain -- made their views abundantly clear.

"The Iraqis are really fearful about some of the positions the Democratic Party has adopted," says Sheik Ahmed Abu Rishah. "If the Democrats win, they will be withdrawing their forces in a very rapid manner."

Mamoun Sami Rashid al-Alawi, the governor of Anbar province, agrees. "We have over a million casualties, thousands of houses destroyed," he says. "Are we going to tell [Iraqis] that the game is over? That the Americans are pulling out?"

Messrs. Abu Rishah and Awani, both Sunni, have possibly the toughest political jobs on the planet. Sheik Abu Rishah inherited the leadership of the Iraq Awakening movement when his brother was killed by al Qaeda last September. Gov. Awani's immediate predecessor was kidnapped and killed by insurgents, and he has survived more than a score of assassination attempts.

Today, the governor speaks with a mixture of confidence and foreboding. He insists al Qaeda has been vanquished. But, he adds, "Iraq is in a strategic location and has huge resources. There are a lot of eyes on Iraq." Later in the conversation, he makes his point more precisely. "Liberating Iraq is a very good dish. And now you are going to hand it over to Iran?"

A sense of incredulity hangs over the way Iraqis see the U.S. political debate taking shape. The governor tells a moving story about their visit to Walter Reed hospital, where they were surprised to find smiles on the faces of GIs who had lost limbs. "The smile is because they feel they have accomplished something for the American people."

But the Iraqis came away with a different impression in Chicago, where they had hoped to meet with Mr. Obama but ended up talking to a staff aide. "We noticed there was a concentration on the negatives," the governor recalls. "The Democrat kept saying that Americans have committed a lot of mistakes. Yes, that's true, but why don't you concentrate on what the Americans have achieved in Iraq?"

The Iraqis are even more incredulous about Mr. Obama's willingness to negotiate with Iran, which they see as a predatory regime. "Do you Americans forget what the Iranians did to your embassy?" asks the governor. "Don't you know that Ahmadinejad was one of [the hostage takers]?"

Here Hussein Ali al-Shalan, a Shiite from Diwaniyah in southern Iraq, offers a view. "For a long time, Iran has felt like Iraq is theirs. Our fear [about U.S. negotiations with Iran] is, you will be giving them something that we believe would prolong our agony. We are not against Iran. We have to coexist and work toward our mutual interests. The question is, is this possible at this stage? That's why we need the army to give a final push so the Iraqis can feel the fruits of our democracy."

It's not just Iran. "There is no other country that supports us," says Gov. Awani. "What is happening in Iraq scares everyone," by which he means the neighboring autocracies that have something to fear from a successful democratic model in their midst.

That only makes America's ambivalence toward its democratic creation that much stranger to the Iraqis. Will the next administration abandon both its principles and its friends in the region? For what?

The administration and the Iraqi government are now wrangling over a status-of-forces agreement -- evidence that Iraq has reached a point where it can once again act like a sovereign nation. But the Iraqis leave no doubt that they want a deal, not least "so Iraq would be able to protect U.S. interests in the region," as Sheik Abu Rishah puts it. Having lost 4,100 Americans for Iraq, the Iraqis are offering to return the sacrifice -- assuming only that the alliance endures.

Throughout our interview, the men did not stop fingering their prayer beads, as if their future hinges on their ability to make their case to the American public. They're right: It does. Which is why Iraq, all but alone among the nations, will be praying for a McCain victory on the first Tuesday in November.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com
24581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PD- WSJ on: June 17, 2008, 11:36:36 AM


McCain Tiptoes Back to Reality on Energy

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" is a famous riposte attributed to the economist John Maynard Keynes.

John McCain could employ a political version of that line tonight when he delivers a major speech on energy in the Oil Patch capital of Houston, Texas. Faced with $4 gasoline and evidence that China is about to drill for oil off U.S. shores with Cuban help, Mr. McCain will call for ending the federal moratorium on offshore drilling. I'm further told he may be given air cover by an executive order from the Bush administration that will address that very issue on Wednesday.

"I don't want to dictate to the states what they should do," Mr. McCain told reporters in explaining why he was dropping his objection to offshore drilling. At the same time, he reiterated his view that areas such as the Alaska coastal plain are "pristine" and should continue to be off limits.

The Barack Obama campaign quickly set up a confrontation with Mr. McCain over his new stance. "John McCain's plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies," Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan told reporters.

Shaping up here is a debate worth having, one that will present suffering motorists with a clear contrast between the candidates.

-- John Fund

Obama Says 'Hi' with One Finger

Barack Obama has sent a clear but unmistakable response to the pressure he's been getting to put Hillary Clinton on his ticket as the vice presidential nominee. Yesterday, his campaign named Patti Solis Doyle, the former Clinton campaign manager who was fired in February and has not spoken to Mrs. Clinton since, as the chief of staff who will help guide whomever he picks as his running mate.

A major Clinton fundraiser told the New York Observer he considered the move "the biggest f--- you I have ever seen in politics." According to the unnamed Clinton donor, "Clinton loyalists view [Ms. Doyle] with deep suspicion and believe that she is shopping around a book deal and acted as a background source for an extremely harsh Vanity Fair piece about Bill Clinton."

"Either one of two things happen," predicted the fundraiser. "Hillary is selected as vice president and they fire Patti, or Hillary is not going to be the vice president."

Team Obama insists no message is being sent in the hiring of Ms. Doyle, who was one of several campaign staffers whose appointment was announced on Monday. But Clinton insiders say the former First Couple is livid over the appointment and it will not make repairing relations between the two camps any easier.

Syndicated columnist Selena Zito couldn't resist speculation about other possible Obama hiring decisions. "What's next?" she joked. "I wonder if Obama plans on hiring [estranged Clinton strategist] Mark Penn as chief of staff for the future First Lady?"

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"Rather than issuing statements, Sen. [Chris] Dodd needs to answer any and all questions about the circumstances of his attaining the Countrywide loans. We join the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in calling for the Senate and House ethics committees to investigate whether the acceptance of bargain rate loans violated the prohibition against accepting gifts. The committees need to determine if any other congressmen received favorable loans in possible violation of the ethics rules.... The public needs confidence that those proposing ways to solve the subprime mortgage crisis did not take advantage of their positions to get deals from the very folks largely responsible for causing the crisis" -- editorial in The Day newspaper in New London, Ct., on Connecticut Senator and Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd's acceptance of sweetheart loans from subprime lender Countrywide Financial.

Quote of the Day II

"If Barack Obama really wants to sell his message of hope to American voters this November, he needs to stop treating us like pathetic victims unable to compete economically with people in Mexico or China.... Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, Obama pandered in the Democratic Party primaries to labor unions and others in the party base who blame low-wage foreign countries for stealing American jobs. He vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and he whined about China's currency" -- columnist Tom Walsh, writing in the Detroit Free Press.

No Message, But Please Accept this Toy

My sources at the Republican National Committee say they are stunned by the dropoff in contributions this election cycle, but a big part of the problem is an absence of an agenda. It's getting harder and harder to finish this sentence: "Vote for Republicans in November because..." The Republican campaign committees are getting more angry mail than checks as a result of failing to stop earmarked spending and the GOP's recent failure to support President Bush's veto of the inexcusable $300 billion farm bill.

So instead of a message this fall, the GOP is trying to promote donations with a new stuffed animal elephant with the RNC logo on its belly. For $35 donations, donors can get the toy elephant, which party fundraising letters declare will be the "hit of your July Fourth Party." The fundraising letter continues: "The RNC elephants are wonderful plush toys and make a perfect gift for your favorite Republicans."

Several big Republican donors have told me they're infuriated by the juvenile fundraising pitch. "What has the RNC turned into, Sesame Street?" one donor fumed. Others complain that the letters are just further evidence that the party has no message right now -- especially on the core issue of cutting government spending.

No word yet as to whether "Sam" the GOP elephant is jumping off the shelves, but if this is the best pitch Republicans have to wrench money out of donors, perhaps another couple of years in the wilderness is what the party needs -- and deserves.

-- Stephen Moore





24582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor on: June 17, 2008, 11:33:40 AM
Mexico Security Memo: June 16, 2008
Stratfor Today » June 16, 2008 | 2330 GMT
Related Links
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Targeting Children
Twelve-year-old Alexa Belen Moreno was found shot dead in the back of an abandoned sport utility vehicle June 9 in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Police later reported that Moreno and two other young girls had been kidnapped in a park near where Moreno’s body was discovered. The three girls reportedly were kidnapped to be used as bargaining tools with rival groups, but the scenario changed when the kidnappers were intercepted by a rival group. The kidnappers proceeded to use the three as human shields as they engaged in a gun battle with the rival faction, resulting in Moreno’s death and the injury of another of the girls.

While violence has been aimed at young people before, even the cartels largely eschew the tactic. (La Linea, an alliance of corrupt police officials that acts as the enforcement arm of the Juarez cartel, later left a note next to the corpse of an individual stating, “This is what happens to those who involve the innocent.”)

The child kidnappings and the killing of Moreno reveal a trend seen before with the Arellano Felix Organization, aka the Tijuana Cartel. As the Tijuana cartel began to dissolve under pressure from multiple sources, elements of it diversified their criminal interests into different areas such as kidnapping.

The split between the Sinaloa cartel and the Juarez cartel over the Juarez plaza has been well documented, and is the source for the majority of the violence taking place in the border town. While the Sinaloa cartel continues to fracture, we will likely see the remaining Sinaloa elements in Juarez either move elsewhere or adopt this practice of diversifying their criminal enterprises. However, the narcotics trade will still be the central focus for these factions because that is where the most money is to be made.

Cuban Illegal Immigrants Abducted
A bus carrying 33 Cuban nationals guarded by National Institute of Migration (INM) guards was hijacked June 11 by an unknown number of armed men on the Palenque-Ocosingo road 140 kilometers (about 87 miles) outside Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas state. The 33 Cubans were arrested in Cancun earlier in the week when the boat they were traveling in was intercepted by the INM. They were on the bus along with other Central American detainees traveling to an immigration detention center in Tapachula.

Cuban Ambassador to Mexico Manuel Aguilera de la Paz revealed that elements of the “Miami Mafia” were behind the hijacking in Chiapas. Human trafficking has been a large money-maker for the Cuban mafia, especially the Miami syndicate, for some time now. Recently, human smugglers have begun to take different routes through Mexico and across its porous border with the United States due to increased patrols by the U.S. Coast Guard along the Florida coast. Cuban nationals must only be present at the border and be able to identify themselves as a Cuban national to be granted asylum in the United States; they do not have to cross the border first. Families pay members of the Miami Mafia between $10,000-$15,000 per person to transport loved ones from Cuba to the United States, making this group of Cuban nationals quite valuable at just under $500,000. The Mexican Attorney General’s Office later announced that the Miami Mafia possibly could be cooperating with Los Zetas, using plazas controlled by the Zetas to transport Cubans to the U.S. border.





(click to view map)

June 9

The Police Chief of Jaltipan, a city southeast of Veracruz, was murdered by a group of armed men inside his home as he returned from work in the afternoon.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza announced an “Arms Crusaders” program to prevent cross-border arms transactions; he also announced the exchange of real-time intelligence between Mexican and U.S. authorities.
June 10
The corpse of Jorge Velazquez, the chief of security for Reclusorio Sur — a Mexico City prison — was found wrapped in a blanket on the side of the street in the Iztapalapa area of Mexico City. Authorities believe his murder resulted from a prison drug deal gone wrong. Prison officials later confiscated all cell phones belonging to prison inmates.
June 11
The head prosecutor for Mexico City announced that two kidnapping gangs still operating openly in the city are responsible for four recent abductions that remain under investigation.
Mexico’s attorney general said violence in the struggle against drug trafficking has not reached its peak yet, but will decline over the next few years.
June 12
Citizens of Morelia, frustrated with the inactivity of local law enforcement, posted three signs around town warning criminals not to commit petty crimes.
An informant provided the Mexican Attorney General’s office with information connecting high-ranking Public Security Secretariat official Juan Guadalupe Aguilar to Sergio Villareal — aka El Grand — a high-ranking member of the Beltran Leyva group with connections to the Los Zetas.
June 13
The bodies of a young married couple executed in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan, were discovered in a house on a ranch, bound with gunshot wounds to the backs of their heads. This was the second such incident in a week in Michoacan.
June 14
“Commando Negro” leader Rosario Flores Rojas was captured outside Ensenada, Baja California state, in a joint operation between the Mexican Army and state law enforcement officials. Commando Negro has protected drug traffickers, operated a kidnapping ring and been involved in various incidents of score-settling.
June 15
Five people died in a shootout between two rival drug gangs and federal, state and local officials in Ciudad Obregon and Navajoa, Sonora States.
Back to top
24583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 11:17:23 AM
Would it be rational to be concerned about a Governor such as Eliot Spitzer using police intel capabilities for personal political reasons?
24584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / J. Adams: Cost of Freedom on: June 17, 2008, 11:07:42 AM
"Posterity! You will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it." John Adams, 1777
24585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 10:40:04 AM
GM:

No worries!

May I suggest using this moment as an opportunity to reconsider the concerns that others and I express-- disconnected from the guises and disguises of those who take similar positions for other reasons?
24586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jefferson: The source of rights on: June 17, 2008, 10:33:54 AM
"A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of
nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate."

-- Thomas Jefferson (Rights of British America, 1774)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Lipscomb and Bergh,
eds., 1:209.
24587  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 17, 2008, 09:41:10 AM
Ummm, , , is that aimed at me?  If so, I don't deserve it.
24588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: June 16, 2008, 10:27:47 PM
Rachel:

The one Sarah clip that did play for me (the yogurt one) was funny, but very funny was the one about insuring only women cheesy

Anyway, lets see if I can take a stab at answering your post of May 29-- I hope my formatting is clear (MD-1 is my original post, MD-2 is my response to your response to MD-1):

MD-1:
First, my basic attitude is that gays/lesbians are free to be gay and others are free to make of it what they will.  That includes thinking it is wrong, repulsive, condemned by God, something to avoid, whatever.
 
RACHEL:
My basic though that all human beings are created in the image of G-d have certain rights including a right to marriage.  I also think all human beings be treated with respect at all times though I don't think that should be legislated.

MD-2:
What you think is all well and good, but please feel free to go through the necessary steps to modify the US Constitution and/or relevant state constitutions-- at present honestly read they do not compel gay marriage.  I agree respect cannot be legislated.

MD-1: Flowing from the first thought, is the second, making anti-gay thoughts, feelings, employment practices, etc. illegal is liberal fascism.  Government is force and contrary to the Orwellian liberal use of the word "progressive", progress is increasing the amount of voluntary human interaction.  Increasing violence and coercion i.e. the role of the State in human interaction, is the opposite of progress.
 
RACHEL: 
Is it okay to discriminate against Older people, Women, Jews, People of Color,etc because people don't want to voluntary (sic)  associate with them? Why  should gays receive less protection than any other group?

MD-2: 
a) Whether/to what extent gay/lesbian is a matter of nature or nuture remains a matter of great debate.  It most certainly is a matter of behavior.   Why should it be illegal to think less of a man e.g. for confusing his intestines with a woman's uterus?

b)Given the relentless expansion of the logic of anti-discrimination law, I have experienced backlash in my own thinking.  Now I am quite willing to entertain the notion that non-discrimination laws should be limited to governmental action. 


MD-1: 
Third, by definition marriage is between a man and a woman.  It is not for the courts to redefine the foundational relationship of our society.  Just like Roe v. Wade, the only basis for the CA S. Ct decision and the MA S. Ct. decision is liberal arrogance and judicial imperialism.
We will have to discuss Roe v, Wade at a later date.

RACHEL:
Marriage by definition has changed. Men used to have the right to beat and rape their wives.  It some parts of the world the definition of marriage  includes a man's right to marry multiple women.   All of these things  use to part of the fabric our society.   There were Jews from Arab Countries that when they immigrated to Israel had multiple wives.   I'm positive you don't t think any those things are okay.   The  definition of marriage has changed over time and it made the world a better place .  Plenty of terrible awful things slavery etc used to be part of the fabric of our society.

MD-2: 
a) As long as the woman has free choice, why do you seek to deny her the right to marry whom she pleases simply because the man is already married if he wishes to marry her too?  Where does Wife 1 get her right to deny them their happiness-- especially if polygamy was part of the deal going in?  The issue is who/what institution is to say what the rule is and say when the rule is to change.  In our system of government, the special role of the judiiciary requires that it exercise its power only with rigorous intellectual honesty and humility.  To say that our Consitution compels allowing fetuses to be killed is absurd.  To say that our Constituion compels gay marriage is equally absurd.

MD_1:
Fourth, liberal fascism does not seem willing to compromise.  The offers of compromises such as "domestic partnership" and "Don't ask, don't tell" are disingenuous lies used simply to work towards imposing through the violence of government action an Orwellian  thought crime.
 
RACHEL:
Why should someone have to compromise about their civil rights?  I don't see the connection between a right to marry and a Orwellian thought crime. Would you please flesh that out.

MD-2:
Well, here we go in a circle-- where do they get these alleged civil rights?  The Orwellian thought crime consists of making discrimination against gays illegal.  Again, gays are free to do what they do, and others are free to make of it what they will-- which includes being grossed out and looking to not have it around.  Speaking for myself, I have no problem with plenty of gays, and some I find creepy and would rather not have them around.  As a free man in a free country I see absolutely no role for government action in this.

MD-1:
Fifth, there are areas where discrimination probably is a pretty good idea.  For example, a lesbian probably should not be taking a girls school group on an overnight outing.  I don't want a gay scout leader in my son's cub scout troop.    (I note that liberal fascism hounds the Boy Scouts for this very reason-- this fine, wholesome group faces litigation wherever it goes, particularly if it wants to use a facility with some sort of governmental qualities.)  Because I have never served I defer to those that have, but it seems to me that the military is probably a good place for discrimination too.  I would not want to be in a squad with a gay sargeant when it came to deciding who had to take lead the way through the minefield.  It seems quite logical to me that in the close quarters of combat operations in particular, that disciplinary problems could result.
 
RACHEL:
Historically there have been fierce gay warriors that lead men successfully into battle.
There are  straight ( or straight enough to be married with children )  sexual predators  that attack people of the same sex.   I don't think the  assault rate is higher for  GBLT.   It is very hard to get statistics  in that area because I don't believe most sexual abuse cases  are  reported.   If you want to protect your kids from of abuse   never let them   repeatedly   be one on one with another adult or have nanny cam etc.  Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts  have troops of kids and many leaders so that it wouldn't worry me to have a Gay/Lesbian troop leader at all.

MD-2
a) You miss my point about gays in the military-- it is that sexual energies can lead to favoritism that corrodes unit morale and cohesion.
b)  Allow me to explain something to you about the human penis and those of us attached to it.  There is a period in the human males life where the crack of dawn had better not bend over or he will try to nail it.  cheesy If he is hetero, he will be looking for a vagina.  If he is gay, he will be looking for a male anus.  When my daughter hits puberty and goes on a school trip, if I think it better that she be chaperoned by a hetero woman than a hetero man, then IMO the government has no fcuking business getting in the way of that.  Similarly, if my son is going on a Cub/Boy Scout camping expedition and he is scared at being away from home in the forest, I do not want to have him getting pestered by a gay troop leader-- whom during the day has been his authority figure. 

This is such simple common sense-- how dare the government seek to get in the way of this!!! angry angry angry

MD-1:
Sixth and last, and probably the most important, I think it should be a strike against someone who wants to adopt.  We can squabble over the exact %, (I think it around 97%) but most children are straight and to place them in the care of "parents" who are not is profoundly wrong.  Children are born to imitate, their parents most of all, and to have a hetero boy naturally and inadvertently absorb the mannerisms of a fairy father and the man who _______ him is to indulge narcisstic cruelty of the highest order.  To have a hetero girl have to turn to lesbian mothers as she seeks to mature into the complexities and challanges of what it is to be a woman and think it does not matter that her "mothers" are at best clueless about men and at worst quite hostile to them is to be an intellectual coward.

RACHEL:
I don't think it is necessary or usually narcissistic to want a child.   Children are not carbon copies of their parents. Do you think mixed race adoptions are also  wrong?  Is gender and sexuality the most important thing in human being. Is it more important  than shared values,  race,   personality type, intelligence level or anything else?     A straight male raised by two gay men might have some more challenges than a child  raised in a traditional nuclear family. It would obviously depend on the traditional nuclear family.   However children  born  in a nuclear family are in the minority and the divorce rate is over 50 percent .  Are you for outlawing all non nuclear families and if you are  what about if there is divorce or a death.  I believe  most kids raised with two loving parents or one loving parent turn out okay and of course  some kids with terrible parent(s) turn out fine. Someone could refer to me as just the person my husband sleeps with. It wouldn't make me any less his life partner.  All lesbians don't hate men. I happened to know a women who previously  was married (to a guy)and  who has currently  been with her partner over  20 years and managed to marry off all thee of her daughters and one son to wonderful people.She now has perfectly normal grandchildren.  I know  another family  where a gay man and his partner of over 20 years are both beloved uncles.     Obviously one example doesn't it make it true in all cases but gay marriage hasn't really existed long enough in any country  for there to be a lot of data. How does gay marriage even effect you personally?   I have respect for the lessons and wisdom  of the past but I won't let it dictate the present for me.   
 
MD-2
a) Of course we are discussing statistical probabilities, not certainties so of course one can point to this case or that to the contrary without it changing the larger point in the slightest.
b) In my opinion it is precisely narcisstic to think more of oneself than of the child.    The overwhelming probability (98% is my understanding) is that the child will be straight.  The human animal is an amazing organism-- one born to receive the culturization that nutures its nature.  What a cruelty to take the wondrous ability to emulate and imitate and produce a heterosexual child with homosexual mannerisms!!! How vain! How cruel! How narcisstic! How clueless!   You ask how gay marriage affects me personally-- to respect the privacy of the individuals involved I will say only that within my extended family I have seen exactly how it can affect people.

The Adventure continues!
Marc
24589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War? on: June 16, 2008, 01:09:39 PM
Yet more in this vein, this time from Stratfor:

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that a Pakistani-based ring led by the former head of Pakistan’s nuclear program had in its possession detailed blueprints for the construction of nuclear weapons small enough and rugged enough to be fitted to missiles. The ring, led by A.Q. Khan, has been known about for several years (it was busted in 2004). It has also been known that the ring provided nuclear technology, in the form of parts, to Libya, Iran and North Korea. What the Post has revealed is that Khan’s group also had blueprints for a usable nuclear weapon. The data were found in 2006 on a computer owned by a Swiss businessman. Therefore, the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have known about the data since then. However, according to the Post article, it is not known whether the information was given to the Iranians — which is what makes this report disturbing, to say the least.

It has been Stratfor’s position that the Iranian nuclear program ought not to be taken particularly seriously, because merely possessing enriched uranium does not give you a weapon. It might give you a device that could be detonated under careful controlled circumstances, but not a weapon that could be reliably delivered on a missile. Before that could happen, the device would have to be turned into a weapon. It would have to be miniaturized and ruggedized, able to withstand the stresses of launch, possible time in vacuum or very low air pressure and the heat of re-entry.

If the Post report is true, that is what these blueprints would provide the Iranians: knowledge of how to turn a device into a weapon. It must be remembered that a blueprint does not by itself enable you to build the weapon. A blueprint for a house would allow me to build the house, but I would need expertise in implementing the blueprint. It is not clear that the Iranians have enough expertise to follow even the most precise instructions, nor the prerequisite equipment. Knowing the kinds of materials or electronics needed to build the weapon doesn’t mean you have the facilities or engineers, in sufficient quantity, to do the job. We continue to think that the Iranians could not actually build a weapon. They lack things like sufficient quality-control engineers and technicians to get the job done. However, they might have the blueprints, and that is a huge barrier to have crossed.

But it simply isn’t clear that the Iranians actually have the blueprints. According to the author of the report, David Albright, who worked for the IAEA, “These advanced nuclear weapons designs may have long ago been sold off to some of the most treacherous regimes in the world.” He also said that Iran and North Korea “both faced struggles in building a warhead small enough to fit atop their ballistic missiles, and these designs were for a warhead that would fit.”

The United States and Israel obviously have known since 2006 that these blueprints existed. Both countries’ intelligence services clearly had one mission above all others: find out if the Iranians had received the blueprints. The fact that there is no weapon yet does not mean that the Iranians don’t have the blue prints. Even with step-by-step instructions, it would take years to build a weapon and marry it to a missile. At the same time, while it might not be known whether they have the blueprints directly, equipment acquisitions, personnel movements and facilities construction could be tracked. If the Iranians were weaponizing, from whatever data source, that likely would be noticeable.

Neither the United States nor Israel has attacked Iran. That indicates that either they know that the Iranians do not have the plans or the process of implementing them has not progressed to a stage of imperative concern. When we recall the National Intelligence Estimate’s finding on Iran’s nuclear program, it would appear not to have triggered visible movement.

But here is the problem. Intelligence is not a science. Yesterday, our view was that the Iranians do not have the know-how or facilities to build a nuclear device. Today, our view is that they might have the know-how and almost certainly do not have a viable program. That’s quite a leap in a short time. What is comforting is that the possibility that they secretly have these plans has been known about for two years and no one has attacked Iran, possibly because no one is sure what to attack. But certainly this report has reduced our comfort level a notch.

That is some set of blueprints floating around. Apart from the obvious questions, it raises some new ones. A.Q. Khan wasn’t just peddling spare parts for the hobbyist. He had in his possession, outside the Pakistani nuclear establishment, the cookbook for weapons. Is there any way that the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, which oversaw Pakistan’s nuclear program, did not know about what Khan was doing? And given that the United States and the Israelis were obsessed with Pakistan’s nuclear program, how could they have missed the fact that the head of Pakistan’s nuclear program was conducting negotiations with Libya, North Korea and Iran? It should have lit up every radar screen of every intelligence service in the world.

Until now, we didn’t much care. The stuff that Khan was delivering was not going to do much for anyone. With this revelation, our attention is, shall we say, piqued. There is something that does not add up here. How did Pakistan’s nuclear plans go walkabout and discussions get held with the most closely watched regimes in the world, and no one noticed until 2006?
24590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Factual on: June 16, 2008, 12:24:53 PM
  "Factual Questions for Obama" by George F. Will

  "Senator, concerning the criteria by which you will nominate judges, you
said: "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize
what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's
like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old." Such
sensitivities might serve an admirable legislator, but what have they to
do with judging? Should a judge side with whichever party in a controversy
stirs his or her empathy? Is such personalization of the judicial function
inimical to the rule of law?

 

 . Voting against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts, you said:
Deciding "truly difficult cases" should involve "one's deepest values,
one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the
depth and breadth of one's empathy." Is that not essentially how Chief
Justice Roger Taney decided the Dred Scott case? Should other factors-say,
the language of the constitutional or statutory provision at issue-matter?

 
 
 . You say, "The insurance companies, the drug companies, they're not going
to give up their profits easily when it comes to health care." Why should
they? Who will profit from making those industries unprofitable? When
pharmaceutical companies have given up their profits, who will fund
pharmaceutical innovations, without which there will be much preventable
suffering and death? What other industries should "give up their profits"?

 

 . ExxonMobil's 2007 profit of $40.6 billion annoys you. Do you know that
 its profit, relative to its revenue, was smaller than Microsoft's and many
other corporations'? And that reducing ExxonMobil's profits will injure people
who participate in mutual funds, index funds and pension funds that own 52
percent of the company?

 

 . You say John McCain is content to "watch [Americans'] home prices
decline." So, government should prop up housing prices generally? How?
Why?

Were prices ideal before the bubble popped? How does a senator know ideal
prices? Have you explained to young couples straining to buy their first
house that declining prices are a misfortune?

 

 . Telling young people "don't go into corporate America ," your wife,
Michelle, urged them to become social workers or others in "the helping
industry," not "the moneymaking industry." Given that the moneymakers pay
for 100 percent of American jobs, in both public and private sectors, is
it not helpful?

 

 . Michelle, who was born in 1964, says that most Americans' lives have
"gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl." Since 1960, real
per capita income has increased 143 percent, life expectancy has increased by
seven years, infant mortality has declined 74 percent, deaths from heart
disease have been halved, childhood leukemia has stopped being a death
sentence, depression has become a treatable disease, air and water
pollution have been drastically reduced, the number of women earning a bachelor's
degree has more than doubled, the rate of homeownership has increased 10.2
percent, the size of the average American home has doubled, the percentage
of homes with air conditioning has risen from 12 to 77, the portion of
Americans who own shares of stock has quintupled . Has your wife perhaps
missed some pertinent developments in this country that she calls "just
downright mean"?

 

 . You favor raising the capital gains tax rate to "20 percent or 25
percent." You say this will not "distort" economic decision making. Your
tax returns on your 2007 income of $4.2 million show that you and Michelle own
few stocks. Are you sure you understand how investors make decisions?

 

 . During the ABC debate, you acknowledged that when the capital gains rate
was dropped first to 20 percent, then to 15 percent, government revenues
from the tax increased and they declined in the 1980s when it was
increased to 28 percent. Nevertheless, you said you would consider raising the rate
"for purposes of fairness." How does decreasing the government's financial
resources and punishing investors promote fairness? Are you aware that 20
percent of taxpayers reporting capital gains in 2006 had incomes of less
than $50,000?

 

 . You favor eliminating the cap on earnings subject to the 12.4 percent
Social Security tax, which now covers only the first $102,000. A Chicago
police officer married to a Chicago public-school teacher, each with 20
years on the job, have a household income of $147,501, so you would take
another $5,642 from them. Are they undertaxed? Are they rich?

 

 . This November, electorates in four states will vote on essentially this
language: "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential
treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color,
ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public
education or public contracting." Three states- California , Washington
and Michigan -have enacted such language. You made a radio ad opposing the
Michigan initiative. Why? Are those states' voters racists?

 

 . You denounce President Bush for arrogance toward other nations. Yet you
vow to use a metaphorical "hammer" to force revisions of trade agreements
unless certain weaker nations adjust their labor, environmental and other
domestic policies to suit you. Can you define cognitive dissonance?

 

 . You want "to reduce money in politics." In February and March you raised
$95 million. See prior question
24591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Catching up on: June 16, 2008, 12:18:51 PM

"My confidence is that there will for a long time be virtue and
good sense enough in our countrymen to correct abuses."

-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to Edward Rutledge, 1788)

Reference: The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Memorial Edition),
Lipscomb and Bergh, eds., 7:81.

=========


"[H]onesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and
only true policy; let us then as a Nation be just."

-- George Washington (Circular letter to the States, 14 June 1783)

Reference: George Washington: A Collection, W.B. Allen, ed. (244)
=============


"We have heard of the impious doctrine in the old world, that
the people were made for kings, not kings for the people. Is
the same doctrine to be revived in the new, in another shape -
that the solid happiness of the people is to be sacrificed to
the views of political institutions of a different form? It is
too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the
public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is
the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government
whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the
attainment of this object."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 45)

Reference: Federalist No. 45.
===============


"Where liberty dwells, there is my country."

-- Benjamin Franklin (letter to Benjamin Vaughn, 14 March 1783)

Reference: Respectfully Quoted, p. 201
===========


"The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national
capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more
than any appellation derived from local discriminations."

-- George Washington (Farewell Address, 1796)

Reference: Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United
States.
=============


"So that the executive and legislative branches of the national
government depend upon, and emanate from the states. Every
where the state sovereignties are represented; and the national
sovereignty, as such, has no representation."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 191.

===========
“The Constitution shall never be construed... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” —Samuel Adams

==========

Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens.” —James Madison

============

“And as to the Cares, they are chiefly what attend the bringing up of Children; and I would ask any Man who has experienced it, if they are not the most delightful Cares in the World.” —Benjamin Franklin

===========


“The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.” —James Madison
24592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 16, 2008, 11:03:35 AM
"Technology will continue to advance. If there is an answer to your concerns, it's from legislation. What legislation do you suggest that will protect your privacy? Would this legislation cover both gov't and private entities? What technology should law enforcement be allowed to use, if any?"

Good and fair questions-- and I readily admit to not having answers to them worked out.  I do think though that as a society we had really better get to it though, before it is too late to stop things from going too far.

I will say that I have no problem with monitoring radiation as discussed in your previous post  cheesy
24593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / unpleasant speculation on: June 16, 2008, 10:51:12 AM
Following up on the preceding post:


http://www.powerlineblog.com/archive.../06/020762.php



Two stories that were in the news yesterday offer interesting opportunities for speculation. Note: what follows is exactly that, speculation.
The first comes from the Washington Post:
An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups. The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

This relates to the Khan group, which, led by a Pakistani nuclear scientist, sold Pakistan's nuclear secrets to rogue nations. The significance of this new discovery (the discovery reportedly dates to 2006 but is now being made public) is that the Khan group may have sold the design for a nuclear weapon that was more advanced than previously believed--more advanced because it was small enough to fit on missiles that countries like Iran and North Korea already possess. The Post's sources say that they have no idea what countries (if any) may have received these advanced nuclear weapons designs from Khan.

It occurs to me that this story could possible be related to the controversy last winter over the NIE that claimed that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003. That conclusion, trumpeted by the NIE itself, was obviously overstated: if you read the NIE, it acknowledged that Iran's work on uranium enrichment--the hardest part of nuclear weapons development--continued unabated, but claimed that Iran had stopped its "nuclear weapon design and weaponization work." Let's assume that the CIA did get information to the effect that Iran stopped its nuclear weapon design effort in 2003. Given what we now know about the "products" made available by the Khan network, isn't it possible that Iran did so because it had the weapons designs it needed? And if so, shouldn't the NIE, to the extent we place any credence in it, make us more concerned about Iran's nuclear program, rather than less so?

The second story comes from the London Times; I haven't seen it picked up in the U.S. yet. (But then, I haven't scoured the papers yet this morning.) The story's headline is arresting, even though it is supported only by implication in the article itself: "Get Osama Bin Laden before I leave office, orders George W Bush."
The TImes writes:
President George W Bush has enlisted British special forces in a final attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden before he leaves the White House. Defence and intelligence sources in Washington and London confirmed that a renewed hunt was on for the leader of the September 11 attacks. “If he [Bush] can say he has killed Saddam Hussein and captured Bin Laden, he can claim to have left the world a safer place,” said a US intelligence source. ***
One US intelligence source compared the “growing number of clandestine reconnaissance missions” inside Pakistan with those conducted in Laos and Cambodia at the height of the Vietnam war. ***
A Pentagon source said US forces were rolling up Al-Qaeda’s network in Pakistan in the hope of pushing Bin Laden towards the Afghan border, where the US military and bombers with guided missiles were lying in wait. “They are prepping for a major battle,” he said.
The main operations in Pakistan are being undertaken by Delta, the US army special operations unit, and the British SBS.

I've wondered for a long time whether we have had a better idea of bin Laden's whereabouts than has been publicly revealed, and whether we have preferred to leave him at large rather than to capture or kill him. Why could this be the case? Presumably because we have cracked the security surrounding bin Laden and have been able to acquire valuable intelligence by leaving him at large.

This may be what was going on with Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, the Pakistani whose laptop was seized several years ago, revealing a number of al Qaeda plots. It may be that Khan was bin Laden's link to the outside world, and that bin Laden's instructions to cells around the world were being intercepted by our intelligence agencies. After Khan's capture was made public, it may be that bin Laden's new links to the outside world were likewise penetrated.

This is, as I said above, pure speculation. But the administration's success in preventing new attacks after September 11 has long suggested the possibility of an intelligence coup equal in magnitude to Enigma. If bin Laden's security was penetrated years ago, it would explain why the administration has preferred to leave him at large despite the occasional annoyance of his propaganda missives.

If the Times' report is correct, then perhaps President Bush has decided that al Qaeda is sufficiently degraded, or the intelligence recoverable through bin Laden is no longer sufficiently valuable, so that it makes sense to try to kill or capture him. No doubt President Bush would like to bequeath his successor a world free of both bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. So it's pure speculation, but for what it's worth, I wouldn't be shocked to see bin Laden killed or captured between now and January.
__________________
24594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 16, 2008, 10:33:58 AM
As far as this particular quote goes, fair enough-- but I am thinking the "we" envisions the US more than the US and France-- and not appearing here is Chirac's sordid history of personal friendship with SH dating back to those years, , , Furthermore, IMHO Chirac played a pretty despicable role during the UN's Oil for Food program and during the run up to the Iraq War.
24595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Smugglers had design for advanced warhead on: June 16, 2008, 10:25:46 AM
Duplicating on this thread GM's post on the Homeland Security thread:
=========================

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/14/AR2008061402032_pf.html

Smugglers Had Design For Advanced Warhead
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 15, 2008; A01

An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups.

The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

The computer contents -- among more than 1,000 gigabytes of data seized -- were recently destroyed by Swiss authorities under the supervision of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, which is investigating the now-defunct smuggling ring previously led by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

But U.N. officials cannot rule out the possibility that the blueprints were shared with others before their discovery, said the report's author, David Albright, a prominent nuclear weapons expert who spent four years researching the smuggling network.

"These advanced nuclear weapons designs may have long ago been sold off to some of the most treacherous regimes in the world," Albright wrote in a draft report about the blueprint's discovery. A copy of the report, expected to be published later this week, was provided to The Washington Post.

The A.Q. Khan smuggling ring was previously known to have provided Libya with design information for a nuclear bomb. But the blueprints found in 2006 are far more troubling, Albright said in his report. While Libya was given plans for an older and relatively unsophisticated weapon that was bulky and difficult to deliver, the newly discovered blueprints offered instructions for building a compact device, the report said. The lethality of such a bomb would be little enhanced, but its smaller size might allow for delivery by ballistic missile.

"To many of these countries, it's all about size and weight," Albright said in an interview. "They need to be able to fit the device on the missiles they have."

The Swiss government acknowledged this month that it destroyed nuclear-related documents, including weapons-design details, under the direction of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency to keep them from falling into terrorists' hands. However, it has not been previously reported that the documents included hundreds of pages of specifications for a second, more advanced nuclear bomb.

"These would have been ideal for two of Khan's other major customers, Iran and North Korea," wrote Albright, now president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. "They both faced struggles in building a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop their ballistic missiles, and these designs were for a warhead that would fit."

It is unknown whether the designs were delivered to either country, or to anyone else, Albright said.

The Pakistani government did not rebut the findings in the report but said it had cooperated extensively with U.N. investigators. "The government of Pakistan has adequately investigated allegations of nuclear proliferation by A.Q. Khan and shared the information with IAEA," Nadeem Kiani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said yesterday. "It considers the A.Q. Khan affair to be over."

A CIA official, informed of the essential details of Albright's report, said the agency would not comment because of the extreme diplomatic and security sensitivities of the matter. In his 2007 memoir, former CIA director George Tenet acknowledged the agency's extensive involvement in tracking the Khan network over more than a decade.

Albright, a former IAEA inspector in Iraq, has published detailed analyses of the nuclear programs of numerous states, including Iran and North Korea. His institute was the first to publicly identify the location of an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israeli warplanes last September.

A design for a compact, missile-ready nuclear weapon could help an aspiring nuclear power overcome a major technical hurdle and vastly increase its options for delivery of a nuclear explosive. Such a design could theoretically help North Korea -- which detonated a nuclear device in a 2006 test -- to couple a nuclear warhead with its Nodong missile, which has a proven range of 1,300 kilometers (about 800 miles).

Iran also possesses medium-range ballistic missiles and is believed by U.S. government officials to be seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons in the future, although an assessment late last year by U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Iran had discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Weapons experts have long puzzled over whether Tehran might have previously acquired a weapons design from the Khan network, which sold the Iranian government numerous other nuclear-related items, including designs for uranium-enrichment equipment.

The computers that contained the drawings were owned by three members of the Tinner family -- brothers Marco and Urs and their father, Friedrich -- all Swiss businessmen who have been identified by U.S. and IAEA officials as key participants in Khan's nuclear black market. The smuggling ring operated from the mid-1980s until 2003, when it was exposed after a years-long probe by the U.S. and British intelligence agencies.

Khan, who apologized for his role in the smuggling network in a 2004 speech broadcast in Pakistan, was officially pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf without being formally charged with crimes. The Tinner brothers are in Swiss prisons awaiting trial on charges related to their alleged involvement in the network. They and their father are the focus of an ongoing probe by Swiss authorities, who discovered the blueprints while exploring the heavily encrypted contents of the Tinners' computers, the report said. Several published reports have asserted that Urs Tinner became an informant for U.S. intelligence before the breakup of the smuggling ring, but that has not been officially confirmed.

Switzerland shared the finding with the IAEA as well as the United States, which asked for copies of the blueprints, the report states. The IAEA has acknowledged that it oversaw the destruction of nuclear-design material by Swiss authorities in November 2007. However, IAEA officials would neither confirm nor deny the existence of a second weapons design or comment on Albright's report.

Albright, citing information provided by IAEA investigators, said the designs were similar to that of a nuclear device built by Pakistan. He contends in the report that IAEA officials confronted Pakistan's government shortly after the discovery, adding that the private reaction of government officials was astonishment. The Pakistanis "were genuinely shocked; Khan may have transferred his own country's most secret and dangerous information to foreign smugglers so that they could sell it for a profit," Albright said, relating a description of the encounter given to him by IAEA officials.

Pakistan has previously denied that Khan stole the country's weapons plans. Musharraf has not allowed IAEA experts to interview Khan, an engineer who is regarded as a national hero for his role in establishing Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Khan, in interviews last month with The Post and several other publications, asserted that the allegations of nuclear smuggling were false.

Albright said it remains critical that investigators press Khan and others for details about how the blueprints were obtained and who might have them. Because the plans were stored electronically, they may have been copied many times, he said.
24596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Sharansky- Democracies can't compromise on core values on: June 16, 2008, 09:16:45 AM
Democracies Can't Compromise on Core Values
By NATAN SHARANSKY
June 16, 2008

As the American president embarked on his farewell tour of Europe last week, Der Spiegel, echoing the sentiments of a number of leading newspapers on the Continent, pronounced "Europe happy to see the back of Bush." Virtually everyone seems to believe that George W. Bush's tenure has undermined trans-Atlantic ties.

There is also a palpable sense in Europe that America will move closer to Europe in the years ahead, especially if Barack Obama wins the presidential election.

But while Mr. Bush is widely seen by Europeans as a religious cowboy with a Manichean view on the world, Europe's growing rift with America predates the current occupant of the White House. When a French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, declared that his country "cannot accept a politically unipolar world, nor a culturally uniform world, nor the unilateralism of a single hyper power," President Clinton was in the seventh year of his presidency and Mr. Bush was still governor of Texas.

The trans-Atlantic rift is not the function of one president, but the product of deep ideological forces that for generations have worked to shape the divergent views of Americans and Europeans. Foremost among these are different attitudes toward identity in general, and the relationship between identity and democracy in particular.

To Europeans, identity and democracy are locked in a zero-sum struggle. Strong identities, especially religious or national identities, are seen as a threat to democratic life. This is what Dominique Moisi, a special adviser at the French Institute of International Relations, meant when he said in 2006 that "the combination of religion and nationalism in America is frightening. We feel betrayed by God and by nationalism, which is why we are building the European Union as a barrier to religious warfare."

This attitude can be traced back to the French Revolution, when the forces fighting under a universal banner of "liberty, equality and fraternity" were pitted against the Church.

In contrast, the America to which pilgrims flocked in search of religious freedom, and whose revolution amounted to an assertion of national identity, has been able to reconcile identity and freedom in a way no country has been able to match. That acute observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, long ago noted the "intimate union of the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty" that was pervasive in America and made it so different than his native France.

The idea that strong identities are an inherent threat to democracy and peace became further entrenched in Europe in the wake of World War II. Exponents of what I call postidentity theories – postnationalism, postmodernism and multiculturalism – argued that only by shedding the particular identities that divide us could we build a peaceful world. Supranational institutions such as the EU, the International Court of Justice and the United Nations were supposed to help overcome the prejudices of the past and forge a harmonious world based on universal values and human rights.

While these ideas have penetrated academia and elite thinking in the U.S., they remain at odds with the views of most Americans, who see no inherent contradiction between maintaining strong identities and the demands of democratic life. On the contrary, the right to express one's identity is seen as fundamental. Exercising such a right is regarded as acting in the best American tradition.

The controversy over whether Muslims should be able to wear a veil in public schools underscores the profound difference in attitudes between America and Europe. In Europe, large majorities support a law banning the veil in public schools. In the U.S., students wear the veil in public schools or state colleges largely without controversy.

At the same time severe limits are placed on the harmless expression of identity in the public square, some European governments refuse to insist that Muslim minorities abide by basic democratic norms. They turn a blind eye toward underage marriage, genital mutilation and honor killings.

The reality is that Muslim identity has grown stronger, has become more fundamentalist, and is increasingly contemptuous of a vapid "European" identity that has little vitality. All this may help explain why studies consistently show that efforts to integrate Muslims into society are much less effective in Europe than in America, where identity is much stronger.

Regardless of who wins in November, the attitudes of Americans toward the role of identity in democratic life are unlikely to change much. Relative to Europe, Americans will surely remain deeply patriotic and much more committed to their faiths.

Europeans, meanwhile, may move closer to the Americans in their views. The recent shift to the right in Europe – from the victory of conservative leaders like Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi to the surprise defeat of the leftist mayor of London, Ken Livingston – might partially reflect a belated awareness there that a unique heritage is under assault by a growing Muslim fundamentalism.

The logic of the struggle against this fundamentalist threat will inevitably demand the reassertion of the European national and religious identities that are now threatened.

Europeans are now saying goodbye to Mr. Bush, and hoping for the election of an American president who they believe shares their sophisticated postnational, postmodern and multicultural attitudes. But don't be surprised if, in the years ahead, European leaders, in order to protect freedom and democracy at home, start sounding more and more like the straight-shooting cowboy from abroad they now love to hate.

Mr. Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident, is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. He is the author, most recently, of "Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy" (PublicAffairs).

See all of today's editorials and op
24597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / WSJ: New Evidence on: June 16, 2008, 09:13:22 AM
New Evidence on Government and Growth
By KEITH MARSDEN
June 16, 2008

In the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan embraced the ideas of a small group of economists dubbed "supply-siders." They argued that lower taxes and slimmer government would stimulate growth, enterprise, harder work and higher levels of saving and investment. These views were widely ridiculed at the time, dismissed as "voodoo economics."

 
Barbara Kelley 
Reagan did succeed in lowering some taxes. But a Democrat-controlled Congress weakened their impact by raising government spending sharply, resulting in large budget deficits.

A quarter of a century later, many more countries have cut taxes and reined in heavy-handed government intervention. How far have they gone down this path, and with what success?

My study, "Big, Not Better?" (Centre for Policy Studies, 2008), looks at the performance of 20 countries over the past two decades. The first 10 have slimmer governments with revenue and expenditure levels below 40% of GDP. This group includes Australia, Canada, Estonia, Hong Kong, Ireland, South Korea, Latvia, Singapore, the Slovak Republic and the U.S.

I compared their records to the 10 higher-taxed, bigger-government economies: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Both groups cover a representative range of large, medium and small economies measured by their gross national incomes. The average incomes per capita of the two groups are similar ($27,046 and $30,426 respectively in 2005).

Most governments have reduced their top tax rates and spending-to-GDP ratios over the last decade or so, according to data published by the OECD, IMF and World Bank. But slimmer governments have done so at a faster pace, and to significantly lower levels. Their highest tax rate on personal income fell to a group average of 30% in 2006 from 36% in 1996. Top corporate rates were lowered to an average of 22% from 30%. Their average ratio of total government outlays to GDP fell to 31.6% in 2007, from an average peak level during the previous two decades of 40.4%

Investment growth jumped to an average annual rate of 5.9% in 2000-2005, from 3.8% over the previous decade. Exports have risen by 6.3% annually since 2000. The net result was a surge in economic growth. The IMF reports that GDP soared in the slimmer-government group at a 5.4% average annual rate from 1999-2008 (including its forecast for the current year), up from a 4.6% rate over the previous decade.

Over that same period, the bigger-government group was more timid in its tax reductions. Their highest individual rates declined to an average of 45% from 49%, and corporate rates to 29% from 35%. Furthermore, their average spending-to-GDP ratio only fell to 48.3% from a peak of 55.2%.

The bigger-government group therefore failed to gain any competitive advantages in global markets by generating or attracting larger investment funds. Their investment growth slowed to an average annual rate of 0.8% in 2000-2005, from 4.1% in 1990-2000. Their export growth rate almost halved to 3.1% annually in 2000-2005, down from 6.1% in 1990-2000. The bottom line is a drop in their average annual GDP growth rate to 2.1% in 1999-2008, from 2.3% over the previous decade.

Nor did they balance their books. They ran budgetary deficits averaging 1.1% of GDP in 2006, whereas slimmer governments generated an average surplus of 0.3% of GDP. Their net government debt averaged 39.2% of GDP in 2006, more than four times higher than the latter's. Interest payments on their debt took 2.3% of their GDP, compared with an average of just 0.5% in the slimmer-government group.

Slimmer-government countries also delivered more rapid social progress in some areas. They have, on average, higher annual employment growth rates (1.7% compared to 0.9% from 1995-2005). Their youth unemployment rates have been lower for both males and females since 2000. The discretionary income of households rose faster in the first group. This allowed their real consumption to increase by 4.1% annually from 2000-2005, up from 2.8% in 1990-2000. In the bigger-government group, the growth of household consumption has slowed to a 1.3% average annual rate, from 2.1% during the 1990-2000 period.

Faster economic growth in the first group also generated a more rapid increase in government revenue, despite (or rather, because of, supply-siders suggest) lower overall tax burdens.

Slimmer-government countries seem to have made better use of their smaller health resources. Total spending on health programs reached 9.5% of GDP in the bigger government group in 2004, 1.6 percentage points above the average in the slimmer-government group. Yet slimmer-government countries have raised their average life expectancy at birth at a faster pacer since 1990, reaching an average level of 78 years in 2005, just one year below the average for bigger spenders. Average life expectancy is now 80 years in Singapore, although government and private health programs combined cost only 3.7% of its GDP.

Finally, spending by bigger governments on social benefits (such as unemployment and disability benefits, housing allowances and state pensions) was higher (20.3% of GDP in 2006) than that of slimmer governments (9.6%). But these transfers do not appear to have resulted in greater equality in the distribution of income. The Gini index measuring income distribution is similar for both groups.

Other forces clearly helped to narrow income disparities in slimmer-government economies. These forces include wage-setting practices, saving habits, the availability of employer-funded pension schemes, and income sharing among extended families.

Both groups reduced the share of defense spending in GDP over the past decade. The slimmer-government average fell 0.1 points to 2.2% in 2005, but this level was 0.5 percentage points above the bigger-government average. The average share of armed forces personnel in the total labor force in the bigger-government group fell to 1.1% from 1.5% in 1995, whereas it grew to 1.7% from 1.5% in the slimmer-government group.

Information on public order and safety expenditures is incomplete. But for the 11 countries for which data are available, slimmer governments seem to take their responsibilities more seriously. They spent an average of 1.8% of GDP on these functions in 2006, compared with 1.5% by bigger governments.

The early supply-siders were right. My findings firmly reject the widely held view that lower taxes inevitably result in cuts in public services, slower growth and widening income inequalities. Today's policy makers should take note of how tax cuts and the pruning of inefficient government programs can stimulate sluggish economies.

Mr. Marsden, a fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies in London, was previously an adviser at the World Bank and senior economist in the International Labour Organization.

24598  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: A Father's Question on: June 16, 2008, 09:03:18 AM
"I am reflecting on the day as I write this and I apologize for waxing away here."

Actually, to my sense of things this is a perfect thread to do exactly that and I for one am glad that you have done so and hope that others will do so as well.
24599  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Relaxed vs. Prepared on: June 16, 2008, 08:58:33 AM
Woof David:

May I ask where/in what kind of area do you live?
24600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libertarian themes on: June 15, 2008, 07:43:31 PM
"I'm not sure what the answer is to your concerns. , , , We live in a technology driven society, why should law enforcement not use technology commonly in use in other areas of the public and private sector? Do you avoid Las Vegas casinos because of the surveillance technology? I assure you the private security entities in the average strip casino use technology outside the wildest dreams of most anyone in law enforcement. Why is state of the art video and pattern recognition software good in the Bellagio and lowest bidder, outdated tech in the hands of cops have us on the cusp of 1984?"

Actually I don't go to Vegas-- it is a voluntary tax upon the mathematically impaired  cheesy 

A big part of what concerns me with all this is not where we are, but where we are going.  The logic you use and the technology coming down the pike combine to something that can pretty much keep track of where we go and what we do.  Amongst various negatives, this make really deter anyone with a colorful, adventurous life, or simply a sense of privacy, from wanting to go into politics or take on governmental misdeeds.
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